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Familiar Diversions

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

Currently reading

Nine Princes in Amber: The Chronicles of Amber, Book 1
Alessandro Juliani, Roger Zelazny
Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit
Nahoko Uehashi, Cathy Hirano
Progress: 194/248 pages
Making Arrangements
Progress: 44 %
Let's Talk About Love
Claire Kann
Progress: 80/277 pages
Princess Prince
Tomoko Taniguchi
Progress: 310/336 pages
Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness
Peter Godfrey-Smith
Progress: 41/255 pages
A Rational Arrangement
Rowyn Ashby
Progress: 89/537 pages
FREE: Locke & Key
Tatiana Maslany, Audible Studios, Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodríguez, Kate Mulgrew, Haley Joel Osment, Full Cast
Progress: 91/806 minutes

Red Group Guess: Katniss Everdeen

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Audio) - Agatha Christie, Hugh Fraser

I'm using The Murder of Roger Ackroyd to guess Katniss a possible victim. Agatha Christie's first name begins with one of the letters in "Katniss."


Reading progress update: I've listened 414 out of 414 minutes.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Audio) - Agatha Christie, Hugh Fraser

I went into this knowing who the killer was (the hazards of lots of time spent looking at read-alike lists), and, even so, I don't know how I feel about it. I spent a lot of time looking for hints of the solution I knew would be coming up, and I couldn't help but be a bit irked. Hm.

Reading progress update: I've listened 361 out of 414 minutes.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Audio) - Agatha Christie, Hugh Fraser

Poirot talking about Hastings: lots and lots of backhanded compliments.


"Always, when I have had a big case, he has been by my side. And he has helped me - oh yes, often he has helped me. For he had a knack, that one, of stumbling over the truth unawares - without noticing it himself, bien entendu. At times, he has said something particularly foolish, and behold that foolish remark has revealed the truth to me!"

Reading progress update: I've read 192 out of 192 pages.

Land of the Lustrous 3 - Haruko Ichikawa

Well hell, this was sadder than I expected it to be. And I continue to be torn on this series. I'm enjoying the characters and world, but the action scenes are incredibly hard to decipher. I feel sorry for the animators who, for the anime adaptation, had to somehow turn the action into something that makes sense.


How the heck did the giant blade thing come out of those tiny Lunarian pores? It literally wouldn't fit, and I couldn't see a way it might have been folded up. One panel was empty Lunarian pores, and in the next panel there was suddenly an enormous spikey weapon thing.

Reading progress update: I've read 4 out of 186 pages.

Lifeboat - James White

This one has a few card possibilities, and I've read enough of James White's books that I figured this would be at least an okay read. But so far I've only read his Sector General books, which only include one named definitely-female recurring character, and even in those books it was clear that White has issues with writing women.


This is my first non-Sector General book by him, and four pages in there have been two women. One's a mother who is shapely and pretty (the main character is entranced), and one's wearing an outfit with a description that confuses me but that definitely boils down to "she's wearing practically nothing."


I'm not sure I'm in the mood to tackle this right now, so I might switch to something else. And I need to remember to read the first few pages of whatever replacement options I look at, even if they're by authors I've read before...

Reading progress update: I've read 221 out of 221 pages.

Fullmetal Alchemist: The Land of Sand - Makoto Inoue, Alexander O. Smith, Hiromu Arakawa

A sudden project at work (which I superstitiously think was due to our Periodicals Librarian foolishly saying the words "program review" several times in the space of a few minutes) meant that audiobook listening didn't really happen much today. However, I did manage to finish this book while pet sitting after work.


All in all, this was decent. The bulk of the book was "The Land of Sand." I couldn't help judging it against my memories of the anime adaptation of it, and I preferred the anime. That said, it wasn't bad - like bland but readable fanfic. The rest of the volume was a bonus story, "The Phantom Warehouse," which was also adapted into an anime episode. The humor didn't always work, and it was a bit ridiculous, but I enjoyed it all the same.


I'm going to use it for the Antique Hunting Rifle card - Inoue begins with one of the letters in the word "RIFLE." It'll be my guess for today. (I think I finished early enough to still squeak in a guess?)


Audible deal of the day - Sci-fi starring a warship with a sentient AI brain

Serengeti - J.B. Rockwell

The narrator doesn't immediately appeal to me, but I may get this anyway. "Sentient AI" books are my catnip. I need to remember to look over reviews and make my decision before the day is over.

Reading progress update: I've read 192 out of 221 pages.

Fullmetal Alchemist: The Land of Sand - Makoto Inoue, Alexander O. Smith, Hiromu Arakawa

Now it's time for a ridiculous short story in which Roy Mustang helps his men investigate rumors of ghosts hanging around a warehouse that doesn't exist. If I remember right, this was turned into a filler episode in the first anime series as well.


I should hopefully be able to finish this today, although probably not soon enough to use it for my Kill Your Darling guess. As far as that goes, I think I can manage The Murder of Roger Ackroyd in time.

To the people recommending this as a "low angst" read...

Let's Talk About Love - Claire Kann

... I want to say, "Are you serious?" Because almost everything I've read so far has been angst. There's the breakup scene at the start, sure, but then there's also Alice's intense stress and anxiety about her identity and what she wants out of a relationship after she meets Takumi. And I'm still only a third of the way through the book.


One of those times I kind of wish I had a Twitter account. Thankfully someone jumped in and mentioned some of this stuff, because otherwise I'd worry more about the folks who'd go into this book expecting something light and fluffy (sort of like I did - that'll teach me to believe random squeeing book bloggers).

Reading progress update: I've read 88 out of 88 pages.

Bingo Love OGN - Tee Franklin,  Jenn St Onge

Aw, this was lovely. Now I'm going to go cry some.

Corey's Book Corner: "Fluffy Romance with Little to No Sex on the Page"

A list for me to look over later. Although, FYI, "little-to-no sex" doesn't mean "no graphic sex." The one listed work that I've read, Alyssa Cole's A Princess in Theory, has three sex scenes, all of which I consider to be fairly graphic. But I do agree that it's more focused on romance than sex, and it's certainly fluffy. I'll browse the list for other things I might want to add to my TBR.

Reading progress update: I've read 77 out of 221 pages.

Fullmetal Alchemist: The Land of Sand - Makoto Inoue, Alexander O. Smith, Hiromu Arakawa

"And yes, some of the fields near the mine went bad from the dust, but everyone's lives improved. Some people might regret losing our green fields and orchards, but most of us were happy enough with the wealth we got in return. And once one person made it, everyone else wanted to get in on the act. That's why we all learned goldsmithing so fast. Now, none of us can forget those golden days. That's why we stay. For the love of gold."



Reading progress update: I've read 7 out of 221 pages.

Fullmetal Alchemist: The Land of Sand - Makoto Inoue, Alexander O. Smith, Hiromu Arakawa

I know it looks like manga, but this is actually a novel. Its events appear in episodes 11 to whatever of the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime, the ones with the two brothers (Russell and Fletcher) pretending to be Ed and Al.


I can't remember if I've read this before. I suspect not, although I definitely remember the anime episodes.


This should work for a card in the Kill Your Darlings game, although I won't decide yet which one.


I realized that Nahoko Uehashi's The Beast Player was supposed to come out earlier this month. Ooh, I thought, I could order it at the same time as Noriko Ogiwara's Mirror Sword and Shadow Prince!


Except no.


First, I couldn't get it to come up in an Amazon search, so I decided to try a more roundabout way. I went to the Goodreads page for the book and clicked the Amazon link there. That took me to the product page for the book, but it said that it's "currently unavailable."


A little wait wouldn't be that bad, I thought. Maybe the publisher had to delay it for some reason. Um...



January 1, 2035? I figure that's an error, or some kind of placeholder date. But then I scrolled down to the product details section.



Okay.... Hey Pushkin Press, do you want my money or not?


It looks like the only way I could get it is directly through Pushkin Press. ::sigh:: I'll wait, and maybe they'll eventually get whatever this is sorted out.

Dragon Sword and Wind Child by Noriko Ogiwara, translated by Cathy Hirano, illustrations by Miho Satake

Dragon Sword and Wind Child - Miho Satake, Noriko Ogiwara, Cathy Hirano

Fifteen-year-old Saya is the only survivor of an attack by the army of the God of Light on her village when she was a child. Although she occasionally dreams about the attack, she now lives with her adoptive parents in the village of Hashiba, which has accepted the God of Light and his immortal children, Princess Teruhi and Prince Tsukishiro. Saya has no memories of her birth parents and loves the Light just as much as any other person in Hashiba, so it's a shock when several strangers arrive and tell her that she's a princess of the Children of the Dark. Unlike the immortal Children of the God of Light, the Children of the Goddess of Darkness can die and then be reincarnated, and Saya is the reincarnation of the Water Maiden. Before she has a chance to truly process this, Prince Tsukishiro arrives and takes a sudden interest in her.

Saya is faced with several choices: she can become one of the prince's handmaidens and eventually his bride, knowing that he doesn't really love her; she can kill herself like the Water Maidens before her; or she can somehow find a way to escape. She chooses the third option and discovers both the Dragon Sword, a weapon so powerful it can kill gods, and Chihaya, a Child of the God of Light who is seen as a failure by his siblings because he has always been drawn to the Darkness.

I honestly didn't know where Ogiwara was going to go with this book, most of the time. Saya figured out that her love for Prince Tsukishiro was foolish surprisingly quickly, although it took a bit longer for her heart to catch up. Chihaya was...unexpected. I had caught the mention of a third Child of the God of Light, but I hadn't thought that Saya would be meeting him so soon and taking him along with her.

The immortals, Chihaya in particular, came across as somewhat alien. Chihaya had the ability to switch bodies with various animals and didn't seem to be aware, or maybe didn't care, that the animals wouldn't necessarily be okay if they got injured while he was using them. He could experience pain and certainly disliked it, but any injuries would usually disappear in a day or less. He cared about his horse and Saya, in that order, and I'm not sure he truly realized, during a good chunk of the book, that Saya could die.

The book's pacing was a bit slow for my tastes, but I liked reading about Saya's efforts to understand Chihaya. She had to struggle to convince the Children of the Goddess of Darkness to keep him free as he kept doing things that indicated he was more dangerous to have around than they'd initially thought. Watching how Chihaya changed as the story progressed was fascinating.

I wish, though, that Saya hadn't come across as more a supporting character than a main character. I went into the book expecting her to be more active. There were moments when she had choices to make and things to do, but mostly she existed to support Chihaya while he gradually came into his powers and got a better look at the Darkness he'd been drawn towards all his life. Saya supposedly had the power to pacify gods but never got to the point of being able to use them, unless her ability to connect with Chihaya counted.

I kind of wish this had been a friendship-only book, since I felt Chihaya and Saya worked best as friends, but I suppose their eventual romance fit with the "God of Light and Goddess of Darkness" theme. The way I felt about the two of them reminded me a little of how I felt about the sudden romance in Philip Pullman's The Amber Spyglass. It felt forced.

All in all, despite its problems this was pretty good. I look forward to the next book, although I wonder how it'll be related to this one. I don't recognize the character names in the description and, honestly, the way Dragon Sword and Wind Child ended makes it work just fine as a standalone.


The book includes two full-page, full-color illustrations. One is a larger version of the cover illustration.


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

A Princess in Theory: Reluctant Royals - Alyssa Cole

Naledi (Ledi) Smith has been on her own for most of her life, bounced around in foster care after her parents were killed in a car crash. Now she's a grad student with multiple jobs and a supposedly upcoming epidemiology internship that she still hasn't been contacted about. The spam emails she keeps getting that say she's betrothed to a Prince Thabiso from some country called Thesolo do not amuse her.

As it turns out, the emails aren't spam. Prince Thabiso has been looking for his betrothed for years. He hopes to find her and either bring her back to Thesolo or finally convince himself that they aren't soulmates the way he'd been told as a child they were. His assistant, Likotsi, tracks her down, but their first meeting doesn't go anything like Thabiso expected it would. Ledi mistakes him for a new waiter named Jamal, and rather than clear up the misunderstanding, Thabiso decides to just go with it. He'll get to see how Ledi behaves around him when she's unaware that he's royalty, and being a waiter can't be that hard, right? (Ha!)

I pre-ordered this because both the cover and publisher's description made it look cute and fun. A contemporary romance in which an ordinary woman learns she's actually a princess sounded like it'd be right up my alley.

The setup was excellent, and the sample "spam" emails made me laugh. I loved Ledi, who was afraid to let her guard down and who worked so hard and was still worried that none of it would be enough. She relaxed her guard around Thabiso a bit more quickly than I would have expected, although that could have been due to the way he subconsciously reminded her of things from her childhood.

Plus, Thabiso had some great moments. He listened to and remembered the things she said. Because he knew she was always taking care of herself and everyone else, he tried to set up times that were solely about her and taking care of her. The bit with the grilled cheese sandwiches was cute (although the way the next chapter started made me think he'd accidentally burned the apartment down).

I winced every time he put off telling Ledi the truth, although I could usually understand his reasons for doing so. There was one scene that really bothered me, though. He arrived at Ledi's apartment, fully intending to tell her the truth, only to have her start kissing him. He wasn't so overwhelmed by her kisses that he couldn't think - he actually did slow things down enough that he could have stopped everything and told her right then. Instead, they had sex, he worried that she'd call him Jamal, and he figured he'd tell her sometime after they were done. It made it seem like he cared more about having sex than he did about Ledi.

This part upset me so much that I spent the rest of the book mentally rewriting it. I came up with a couple alternatives that would have still led to Ledi being hurt and angry enough for the rest of the book to happen, but would have made Thabiso a little less horrible. Unfortunately, the scene happened the way it happened. Cole dealt with it by having Thabiso make Ledi an offer she couldn't refuse, something that would force her to spend enough time with him that she'd eventually soften towards him and forgive him. She did, of course, and I could understand why, for the most part. Unfortunately, I never quite forgave him.

Although I was upset with Thabiso in the second half of the book, I still really loved the "royal life" scenes. Ledi's trip to the airport, in particular, was great. I loved her meetings with family members - I wonder if Nya will ever get her own book? - and I was glad that Thabiso defended Ledi whenever his mother started to act horrible.

For the most part, this was a really good book. It would have been an excellent one if it hadn't been for the last "trying (but not really) to tell her the truth" scene, which unfortunately slightly soured the rest of the book. Oh, and one little slightly spoiler-y complaint: why did Ledi, who should have known better,

keep taking pills without ever once asking (or even wondering) what was in them?

(show spoiler)

I'm going to wait and see what reviews say about the next book before deciding whether to get it. I'm iffy about Portia, Ledi's friend and the next book's heroine. Almost every time Portia was mentioned, Ledi worried about the amount she drank and whether spending time with her would mean more work and anxiety than relaxation. A Princess in Theory ended with her in therapy and hopefully drinking less, but I'm still wary. Meanwhile, I'm crossing my fingers for a future book starring Likotsi, Thabiso's well-dressed lesbian assistant.


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)