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Familiar Diversions

I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.

Currently reading

How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom, Vol. 1
Dojyomaru, Fuyuyuki, Sean McCann
Progress: 103/374 pages
Darkly Dreaming Dexter
Jeff Lindsay
Progress: 424/470 minutes
Wait Till Helen Comes: A Ghost Story
Mary Downing Hahn
Progress: 184/184 pages
Parental Guidance
Avery Flynn
Progress: 40 %
An Offer From a Gentleman
Julia Quinn
Progress: 102/358 pages
The Twisted Ones
T. Kingfisher
Progress: 385/385 pages
Educated
Tara Westover
Progress: 315/730 minutes
My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!, Vol. 2
Satoru Yamaguchi, Nami Hidaka
Progress: 24/171 pages
Graphic Medicine Manifesto
MK Czerwiec, Kimberly R. Myers, Scott T. Smith, Michael J. Green, Susan Merrill Squier, Ian Williams
Progress: 26/172 pages
Ao Oni: Mutation
Kenji Kuroda, Karin Suzuragi, Alexander Keller-Nelson
Progress: 30/152 pages

Reading progress update: I've read 284 out of 329 pages.

The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Vol. 1 - Carlo Collodi, Emily Balistrieri, Kevin Steinbach

Heh. Tanya put out what she thought was the military equivalent of this job ad:

 

"Must work uncompensated overtime; no workers' comp; must be able to work weekends and holidays; low pay; no health insurance. Upon business success, employees are guaranteed a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. (Chances of success are extremely slim."

 

She was hoping she wouldn't get any applicants. Instead she somehow has a whole pile of them.

Reading progress update: I've read 254 out of 329 pages.

The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Vol. 1 - Carlo Collodi, Emily Balistrieri, Kevin Steinbach

Holy crap, that's quite a time jump. This just skipped 40 or so years into the future. But, as far as I can tell, only for three pages.

Reading progress update: I've read 238 out of 329 pages.

The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Vol. 1 - Carlo Collodi, Emily Balistrieri, Kevin Steinbach

"If I agree with this, what awaits us is a horrifying world where people will be numbers - disposable products. But this argument has a lot of parts that seem plausible. Still, when I think about what it would mean to accept it..."

 

Lergen again, one of maybe two characters in this book that I might be able to say I like. Zettour is the other one.

 

Right now Lergen and Zettour are struggling with the idea that Tanya accidentally put in their heads, that the situation is morphing into a "world war."

Reading progress update: I've read 234 out of 329 pages.

The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Vol. 1 - Carlo Collodi, Emily Balistrieri, Kevin Steinbach

I'm going to try very hard to finish this today. So far I'm leaning towards 2 stars for this - there aren't enough good parts to make up for the boring parts, and the good parts could have been executed better.

 

You know, I still don't know why or how a cynical, cold, and supposedly average salaryman has somehow become a military genius.

Pandemic post: If you don't like the numbers, just rewrite the rules

My county just hit the threshold for closing back down again, due to 7 new cases today. We're at about 3-7 new cases each day for the past week, and 1-2 new cases per day during the week before that - currently 1 death, 3 in the hospital, and as far as I know we still have just 4 or 5 ventilators and 4 or 5 ICU beds.

 

So you'd think we'd be preparing for tightened restrictions again starting tonight. Well, you'd be wrong. They just redefined the threshold. When our current number of cases doubles, then we'll be back to further restrictions. Assuming the threshold hasn't been increased again by then.

Reading progress update: I've listened 424 out of 470 minutes.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter - Jeff Lindsay

I'm pretty sure I remember how this ends. Book LaGuerta is ambitious but not quite suspicious enough or smart enough, and

she just made her last bad decision.

(show spoiler)

Reading progress update: I've read 172 out of 329 pages.

The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Vol. 1 - Carlo Collodi, Emily Balistrieri, Kevin Steinbach

"The best thing is that with these clean results, I won't be put on trial for war crimes. Even after the war, it won't be a problem - how about that! In other words, killing one person is a crime, but killing a pile of them gets you a medal. Most people would find that inconsistent, but economic theory makes it acceptable."

 

The salaryman reminds us once again that he is an awful person, and also that the world is awful.

 

This book is occasional good bits stitched together with boring and difficult to follow bits. I'm currently slogging through one of the boring parts. Some sort of battle, with Tanya accompanied by a relatively new recruit who mistakenly thinks Tanya actually cares about her. I hope I hit one of the good bits soon.

Reading progress update: I've read 149 out of 329 pages.

The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Vol. 1 - Carlo Collodi, Emily Balistrieri, Kevin Steinbach

"'Rejoice, Lieutenant. We'll be on the forward-most line.'

 

'What an honor.'

 

This is the worst."

 

Heh. Tanya deliberately spouts the most blindly patriotic things she can think of, while privately just wanting to end up in a marginally safer position. (Although at the same time also really enjoying battle? I don't know, it's confusing.) It's actually kind of fitting that she's also forced to pretend to be devoutly religious in battle. The main difference is that she's fine pretending to be patriotic but despises pretending to be religious.

“Open House on Haunted Hill” by John Wiswell

This isn't quite a ghost story. A very lonely house tries to get someone to agree to buy it and thinks it has found that someone in a man and his young daughter.

 

I came across this story just now and enjoyed it.

Reading progress update: I've read 115 out of 329 pages.

The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Vol. 1 - Carlo Collodi, Emily Balistrieri, Kevin Steinbach

This has morphed into a black comedy.

 

After the battle earlier in the book, Tanya was assigned to be lead tester for a literal mad scientist's invention. All previous testers died on the job - although Tanya has desperately been trying to get reassigned, she's the only one who's ever been able to complete any tests using the new orb prototype, so she's pretty much stuck. Whatever safety features the orb has were implemented only after much complaining on her part. As far as the mad scientist was concerned, "safety features lacked functional elegance" (83).

 

And now

the gods (apparently Being X isn't the only one) have gotten involved, the mad scientist has become a religious fanatic, and Tanya has been saddled with a weapon that will explode and kill her unless she enthusiastically praises God after using it. She is less than thrilled.

(show spoiler)

Reading progress update: I've read 78 out of 329 pages.

The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Vol. 1 - Carlo Collodi, Emily Balistrieri, Kevin Steinbach

Chohei Kambayashi's Yukikaze was military fiction that even I, a military fiction newbie, could follow along with. This, on the other hand, tosses you into the deep end with a map of Europe labeled with new country/empire names and a few footnotes. I suspect some of what's going on right now might have links to real European history around World War I and World War II, but I'm not following along well at all.

 

I really liked the bit from Major von Lergen's POV, as he struggled with the knowledge that he was going to have to give Tanya a highly regarded medal, even though he knew from her academy days that she's a dangerous monster who shouldn't be given any opportunities to rise in the ranks and potentially be put in charge of other human beings. We're back to nothing much happening, though, now that that battle is over. Tanya's testing an experimental orb. I really need to look up some screenshots of the anime, because I can't picture the flying scenes at all.

Reading progress update: I've read 49 out of 329 pages.

The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Vol. 1 - Carlo Collodi, Emily Balistrieri, Kevin Steinbach

"It's truly insulting that my life and career are being endangered while I'm treated as nothing more than a side note. It's my right to look down on others; no one should be allowed to do that to me."

 

Yeesh. I mean, yes, Tanya's right to be angry - she's basically been ordered to do a pointless suicide mission - but still.

 

Her (his? I'm not sure what pronoun to use since the narrator also tends to use "she" when talking about Tanya in the third person) only goal is to rise up in the ranks as quickly as possible. According to the reviews I read, she wants a nice, safe desk job. I wouldn't be surprised if she also plans to make every person who gets in her way suffer at some point.

 

The POV is so weird. There are paragraphs where the narrator switches effortlessly between third person "Tanya" and first person, and when the battle started, suddenly he switched entirely to first person.

 

One example:

 

"Either there's electromagnetic interference or my equipment is simply acting up. Why couldn't it have happened at any time other than this critical moment? Just to play it safe, Tanya starts checking if the problem has to do with the equipment strapped to her back by trying to radio Control again when it picks up an unexpected signal." (41)

 

So that's "my equipment," but then it switches fully to third person "Tanya" by the end of the paragraph. Possibly because the paragraph talks about a part of her body, her back, which the salaryman doesn't consider his own?

Reading progress update: I've read 30 out of 329 pages.

The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Vol. 1 - Carlo Collodi, Emily Balistrieri, Kevin Steinbach

I thought Urano/Myne was detached. She's got nothing on Tanya. I suppose Urano was lucky enough to at least be a woman reborn in a female body.

 

Although we never learn the name of the Japanese salaryman who died and was reborn in the body of an orphaned girl named Tanya, he very much considers his new body to be a separate thing from himself, to the point that he talks about it in the third person. We know that the book is written from his POV, but he constantly says "Tanya" is doing this or that rather than "I."

 

This is very dry, so far. Also a little hard to follow. It began with the salaryman waking up in Tanya's body, being fed by a nun at the orphanage. Then a flashback to the salaryman's original life as a human resources employee, accepting his lot as a cog in the system. He coldly fires (or demotes?) someone who later shoves him in front of a train. Then a scene with the salaryman talking to God, who is pissed to have to deal with yet another unbeliever and decides to put the salaryman in a position where he will be forced to become religious and believe in God. Now back to Tanya, but to some point further in the future, during her magical military training.

 

I think this is the first light novel I've ever read with footnotes. They explain things like Malthus's "An Essay on the Principle of Population," Rawls's theory of justice, and the Chicago school of economics. Even Log Horizon and Spice & Wolf didn't have (or need) footnotes like that, although both dealt with business and economic topics.

Reading progress update: I've read 8 out of 329 pages.

The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Vol. 1 - Carlo Collodi, Emily Balistrieri, Kevin Steinbach

I went with The Saga of Tanya the Evil, which I know very little about, even after reading a couple reviews. The reviews did indicate that this is going to be a denser read than you'd normally expect from a "light novel."

The Accidental Demon Slayer by Angie Fox

The Accidental Demon Slayer - Angie Fox
Lizzie's adoptive parents were decent enough but never very loving, so she's thrilled when her biological grandmother contacts her out of the blue and wants to meet. Her dreams of warm hugs are ruined when her grandmother locks her in her own bathroom, just in time for a demon to appear and try to kill her. Once that's been dealt with, her grandmother explains that she's a witch and Lizzie is a demon slayer, and they have to get moving before more demons arrive. Lizzie is a preschool teacher who carefully plans everything, so this is very much outside her comfort zone, but she eventually grabs her dog Pirate (who can now talk) and reluctantly gets on her grandmother's motorcycle.
 
Lizzie's grandmother takes her to the Red Skulls coven, where she's supposed to gain the coven's protection and begin learning to use her powers. These plans are complicated by imps, more demons, a sexy shape-shifting griffin named Dimitri, werewolves, and no one being willing to tell Lizzie anything about what's going on.
 
If I hadn't been reading this for my Booklikesopoly game, I might have DNFed it early on and added it to my offload pile. I wouldn't have missed out on much. This was an incredibly frustrating read. Pretty much the only things I liked were Lizzie's talking dog, who was a bit much at first but eventually grew on me, and maybe Lizzie, although I did think she was way too forgiving.
 
Lizzie barely got a chance to speak to her grandmother for the first time before she was dragged into a world of magic and supernatural creatures. With no time to get her bearings, she was taken to her grandmother's coven, where she was told nothing important and immediately made to take part in a protection spell that wasn't fully explained to her. She was rightfully worried about drinking something that might have bits of roadkill in it, and that potion turned out to be the most important part of the spell. She then blamed herself for screwing up, even though it was due to the coven not explaining anything to her, and the coven had the gall to get mad at her when they found out.
 
And it kept happening - everyone either lied to Lizzie, expected her to do as she was told without even a basic explanation, or deliberately withheld information from her. Most of the characters in this book sucked, and I wouldn't have blamed Lizzie for leaving them behind to deal with their problems on their own. Dimitri, Ant Eater (a member of the coven), and Lizzie's grandmother were the biggest offenders.
 
There was no magical system as far as I could see. If the author wanted a spell to exist, it probably did (there were giggle, dance, and transportation spells), and Lizzie eventually learned how to use these things called switch stars that were basically magical ninja stars. The ending was a mess - Lizzie and her grandmother did things more because the story called for it than because it fit anything that had previously been established about how magic and demons worked.
 
The "paranormal romance" label on the book's spine wasn't very accurate. Lizzie thought Dimitri was hot, and they eventually had sex, but there wasn't much of what I'd call romance and the story was more focused on the whole demon thing than on Lizzie and Dimitri's relationship. "Urban fantasy with romantic aspects" might be a more accurate label.
 
Anyway, I don't intend to read any more of this series. The dog was sweet, but the magical aspects were very weak, and Lizzie deciding to stay with people who'd spent the whole book lying to her or refusing to tell her anything she needed to know honestly made me think less of her.
 
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

Booklikesopoly Pandemic Edition: 4th roll

Books read for the game so far:

Ascendance of a Bookworm: Part 1 Vol. 3 - Miya Kazuki,Karuho Shiina,quof The Gamekeeper's Lady - Ann Lethbridge  The Accidental Demon Slayer - Angie Fox  

 

Bank: $31

 

1st roll: 1 + 3 = 4 (Ascendance of a Bookworm, Part 1, Vol. 3, 428 pages, $5)

2nd roll: 4 + 3 = 7 (The Gamekeeper's Lady, 283 pages, $3

3rd roll: 5 + 6 = 11 (The Accidental Demon Slayer, 292 pages, $3)

4th roll: 1 + 4 = 5

 

I was on spot 20, so this puts me on spot 25, the Summer Blockbuster.

 

Read a book (or a book in a series) that has been adapted for film or television.

 

This game seems bound and determined not to let me read any of my Murderbot haul.

 

On the plus side, I have a lot of options for this one. A lot of the Japanese light novels I own have been turned into TV series, so it's just a matter of deciding which one I'm in the mood to read. Right now I'm thinking maybe The Saga of Tanya the Evil or The Rising of the Shield Hero. Or forcing myself to continue Log Horizon - the anime adaptation is good, but my experience with the first book was less than stellar. Rereading one of the Twelve Kingdoms books for the comfort factor is also really tempting right now. It's been a rough past few weeks, and I really, really hope that my doctor tells me something useful when I go in for my follow-up in a little over a week. My right elbow hasn't improved at all in the past month.