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Familiar Diversions

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

Currently reading

Game Slaves
Gard Skinner
Progress: 66/320 pages
The Red Book of Primrose House: A Potting Shed Mystery
Marty Wingate
Progress: 249/624 minutes
Princess Prince
Tomoko Taniguchi
Progress: 310/336 pages
FREE: Locke & Key
Tatiana Maslany, Audible Studios, Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodríguez, Kate Mulgrew, Haley Joel Osment, Full Cast
Progress: 91/806 minutes

Reading progress update: I've listened 130 out of 602 minutes.

Cry Wolf (Alpha & Omega, #1) - Patricia Briggs, Holter Graham

I ended up relistening to a lot of the stuff I listened to on Saturday since for some reason the audiobook didn't sync, but it's not a big deal since I've enjoyed most of it. I wouldn't mind it if the entire book were devoted to Anna adjusting to living with Charles and his pack and Anna and Charles adjusting to each other. Unfortunately, I know that it'll soon be time for the rogue werewolf portion of the story.

 

One thing about Charles that I now realize showed up a bit in the short story as well: Native American fetishism. Anna actually thinks of Charles as exotic-looking at one point.

 

Oh, and we get one of the things I tend to dislike in romance: a character noticing the hotness of another character while that other character is either unconscious or badly injured. Usually it's a male character noticing the hotness of a female character, but in this case it's Anna reacting to Charles while she's trying to patch up his bullet wound. Anna did acknowledge that it was an awful thing to be thinking about at that particular moment, and it was at least partly due to her wolf's reaction to Charles (although you'd think Anna's wolf would be a bit more worried about Charles bleeding all over the place). But it was still gross. Briggs could have found a better time to bring up how good Charles looks and how attractive Anna finds him.

 

Edit: Oh, and I just wanted to add that I loathe the cover. The colors are nice, but the artist's interpretation of Anna is crap. Overdrive only shows a portion of the cover while streaming it, and of course that portion is mostly Anna's cleavage.

Reading progress update: I've read 66 out of 320 pages.

Game Slaves - Gard Skinner

At some point in this story, Phoenix and his team got to know Dakota well enough to sit with her and comfort her as she tried to deal with the realization that she's just a computer program (not really a spoiler since they've all referred to themselves as NPCs since the beginning).

 

The problem: readers weren't invited to any of that. We somehow jumped from Phoenix finding Dakota's freakouts during battle annoying to Dakota learning how to fit in more with the team without any of it ever showing up on-page. As a result, this whole crying and hugging scene just comes across as weird and out-of-character.

Reading progress update: I've read 50 out of 320 pages.

Game Slaves - Gard Skinner

I have had this ARC in my possession for, uh, four years now. And I'm finally getting around to reading it.

 

I'm not really sure what I'm reading yet. The main characters are NPC enemies in FPS games (no particular game, just anything anyone might play), and so far their lives have involved shooting people, dying, being regenerated, and then shooting people again. The main character, Phoenix, acknowledges that all the in-game women he knows are the epitome of physical perfection, despite a few scars here and there, and yet he practically trips over himself when he meets Dakota, giving her living quarters closer to his because he thinks she's hot, even though her personality annoys him. ::sigh::

 

The ARC has enough missing bits that feel like I should quit now and request an ILL copy, but I don't feel like waiting, and most of the missing stuff has been unimportant so far (the names of specific games).

Reading progress update: I've listened 145 out of 145 minutes.

Alpha and Omega: A Novella from On the Prowl - Patricia Briggs, Holter Graham

For some reason the Charles and Anna pairing worked better and more immediately for me than the Mercy and Adam pairing. Although I've only read the this story and the first couple Alpha & Omega books, I've actually reread them, whereas I haven't felt an urge to do that with any of the Mercy Thompson books.

 

I still really like this story. My only issue with it is the part where Anna tells Charles she doesn't like sex and he views it as a challenge. I understood what Briggs was aiming for, but it still made me uncomfortable.

Reading progress update: I've listened 523 out of 523 minutes.

Binary Witness - Rosie Claverton, Jasmine Blackborow

The narrator's voice for Jason didn't always work for me, and she occasionally spoke too softly for me to easily hear. Still, I mostly liked this audiobook. It reminded me how much I like the Amy and Jason partnership.

Reading progress update: I've read 261 out of 292 pages.

A Likely Story (A Library Lover's Mystery) - Jenn McKinlay

I've technically finished the book, although there's still some bonus material, including a short story.

 

This was much better than the previous book, but I couldn't help thinking that it would have been even better Robbie had been completely written out of the series by this point. He was barely in this book, so it would have been easy. The ending indicates that the next book will probably put the love triangle front and center again, which is frustrating considering that Lindsey has already told Sully that she loves him and has no intention of dating Robbie.

 

Lindsey was occasionally a bit of an idiot (I had thought she was deliberately not commenting on Robbie obviously leaving to go get  a divorce, but no, she honestly didn't realize that's what he was doing). Also, I could have used a family tree and a diagram at the end to help me understand the last few pages. Still, so much better than the previous book.

 

Next, I'll read the short story and make at least one of the recipes included in the book. I'd definitely like to make "Beth's Irish Soda Bread." I'm still thinking about "Charlene's Shepherd's Pie." On the one hand, the list of ingredients is nice and short. On the other hand, I'd have to brown some beef and peel, cook and mash some potatoes. I might be too lazy for that.

Haven't seen that before

I was checking up on some stuff in order to catalog a self-published mystery (for work, not Booklikes), and I stumbled across an odd review in Goodreads. It was the author of the book, posting a review that sounded like it was written by a regular reader. It wasn't until I got to the name at the end that I realized the author had posted the review on behalf of someone else.

 

Uh, if you're an author, maybe don't do this. Tell your friend to get their own Goodreads account.

 

Edit: OMG. I just checked the one comment on the review, and it's another review posted by the author on behalf of someone I'm assuming is a friend who doesn't have their own Goodreads account.

 

Another edit: GAH. The book's description on Goodreads is YET ANOTHER review from someone. Is that something that can be reported and changed?

Hikaru no Go (manga, vol. 23) story by Yumi Hotta, art by Takeshi Obata, supervised by Yukari Umezawa (5 Dan), translated by Naoko Amemiya

Hikaru no Go: Endgame, Vol. 23 - Yumi Hotta, Takeshi Obata

It's the final volume, and time for the final Hokuto Cup matches.

Akira wins, Yashiro loses, and Hikaru loses (by 1/2 point, ugh). Hikaru finally finishes saying what he was going to say earlier, about why he started playing Go: "I started playing Go so I could link the distant past to the far future!" Yong Ha responds that he isn't alone in that, and another player comments that this isn't just what drives Go, but also life.

(show spoiler)

The volume ends with seven bonus sketches of prominent characters in the series, a short flashback manga called "Fujiwara no Sai vs. Akira Toya" (Sai and Akira's second game? Akira bites back and surprises Sai, even though Sai wins in the end), and a short manga that takes place after the end of the series, "Shoji! Oka!" (Young Lions, two insei characters play matches against Hikaru and Akira and are inspired).

The artwork is beautiful, but I really, really missed Sai. I think Hotta must have too, or Sai wouldn't have kept appearing in dreams, flashback manga, etc.

While this certainly wrapped up the series and gave it a proper ending, I still can't help but feel a bit disappointed. I wanted

Hikaru's desire to face off against Ko Yong Ha to actually result in something. I know his loss wasn't the end of the world, or even necessarily his last time facing off against Ko Yong Ha - the series, particularly the final extra chapter, did a good job of showing that the life of a Go pro goes on and there are always more matches to play. But man, I'm disappointed.

(show spoiler)


I both liked and felt sad about Akira's dad's theory that, if Shusaku came back in the form of Sai, then he came back to face him. And this is certainly the closest any characters have come to guessing, on-page, what really happened to catapult Hikaru into the world of Go.

Well, that's that, I'm finally done with this series. Now I kind of want to rewatch the anime...

 

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

Hikaru no Go (manga, vol. 22) story by Yumi Hotta, art by Takeshi Obata, supervised by Yukari Umezawa (5 Dan), translated by Naoko Amemiya

Hikaru no Go, Vol. 22 - Yumi Hotta, Takeshi Obata

Suyong suspects that Ko Yong Ha did not diss Shusaku and goes to him to confirm this. It turns out to have been a terrible mistranslation, but Yong Ha decides to roll with it and publicly needle Hikaru some more. Hikaru, in response, begs to be first in the match against Korea, even though he knows Akira is the more likely choice. Kurata says he'll do it if Hikaru can impress him against China - he figures this will fire Hikaru up enough to help him win. In Japan's match against China,

Yashiro loses, Akira wins, and Hikaru loses (but makes his opponent fight to the very end). Kurata decides to let Hikaru be first against Korea despite his loss, shocking everyone but Akira, who wonders what Hikaru's connection to Shusaku is.

(show spoiler)


Hikaru's mom attended the China game!

Which went disappointingly. Dang it.

(show spoiler)


After so many less focused volumes, it was nice to have one solely devoted to a single tournament. This volume really ramped up the tension and kept the focus on the series' younger characters. I just wish

things had gone better for Hikaru. I know that, story-wise, he was due for some losses, but right near the end of the series wasn't really the best time for it.

(show spoiler)


Akira was so very close to figuring out the whole Hikaru and Shusaku thing on his own. He even remembered that, in his first game against Hikaru, Hikaru used a few archaic moves. And at the end of the volume, Hikaru came so close to explaining why he got into Go and why Shusaku is important to him. Publicly, even! Akira was visibly disappointed that Hikaru was cut short. Me too, Akira, me too.

 

Additional Comments:

 

In this volume, Hotta mentions the existence of something called the Hikaru no Go Gorgeous Characters Guide. The translation made it sound like it was previously only available in Japanese but had since been made available in English. If that was the case, it's out of print and unavailable now. I came very close to buying a copy of the Japanese edition (on Amazon it's $5-8 including shipping!) but reminded myself that I'm currently at negative shelf space and don't have room for something I can't even read.

 

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

Hikaru no Go (manga, vol. 21) story by Yumi Hotta, art by Takeshi Obata, supervised by Yukari Umezawa (5 Dan), translated by Naoko Amemiya

Hikaru no Go: Great Expectations, Vol. 21 - Yumi Hotta, Takeshi Obata

[When I added this to my LibraryThing, it notified me that there was a duplicate ISBN in my collection. I checked, and apparently I own this. Huh. I have no idea when that happened.]

 

Ochi beats Waya, qualifying for the Hokuto Cup, but when he sees Hikaru and Yashiro's game, he knows it's several levels above his and Waya's. He asks to extend the Hokuto Cup qualifiers so that the can play against

Yashiro, who lost against Hikaru, and prove to himself and others that he deserves to be at the Hokuto Cup. Unfortunately for him, Yashiro wins and becomes part of Japan's Hokuto Cup team. Yashiro, Hikaru, and Akira stay at Akira's currently empty home for a while, playing nonstop practice matches against each other until they drop. Meanwhile, Akira's dad is playing as an "amateur" in Korea, attempting to become stronger for a rematch against Sai (that's never going to happen *sob*). Also, one of Korea's professional Go players, Ko Yong Ha, disses Shusaku, resulting in Hikaru seeing him as someone who must be beaten.

(show spoiler)


Another fun volume, although, again, I deeply miss Sai. It hurt my heart that Akira's dad was working towards a rematch that he didn't know could never happen. I'm not sure that even a match against Hikaru after he's had a few years to acquire some experience would be good enough.

Oh man, Ochi. If it hadn't been

for his pride, he'd have gone to the Hokuto Cup. That said, I think Hikaru, Akira, and Yashiro were a more fun group than Hikaru, Akira, and Ochi would have been.

(show spoiler)

I liked that Yashiro's unsupportive parents made Hikaru more aware and appreciative of his supportive mom. She may not understand Go in the slightest, but she does her best to make sure he has the time to concentrate on it.

One quote I liked from this volume: "...it must be lonely to be the God of Go. You'd have no equal, no rival." (Hikaru to Akira and the people at Akira's Go salon) I still wonder about Sai. Did he disappear because he'd finally found his perfect rival (Toya Meijin?), or did he disappear because he'd helped lead Hikaru down the path of playing his own kind of Go? Considering the series title, the latter seems likely, although maybe there's an element of both.

 

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

Hikaru no Go (manga, vol. 20) story by Yumi Hotta, art by Takeshi Obata, supervised by Yukari Umezawa (5 Dan), translated by Naoko Amemiya

Hikaru no Go, Vol. 20 - Yumi Hotta, Takeshi Obata

Hikaru finishes his game with Kadowaki, which he wins. Kadowaki admits that Hikaru is good but thinks that Hikaru was somehow better the last time they played (I'm pretty sure his last time was actually against Sai). He's shocked when Hikaru cheerfully agrees with him. A new character, Kiyoharu Yashiro from the Kansai Go Association, is introduced.

He plays wild/risky Go, beginning with the middle (tengen) in one of his games. Hikaru plays against Morishita (his teacher in his study sessions) and Akira plays against Ogata (his father's student), resulting in two emotionally charged matches. Akira and Hikaru both lose, but they establish themselves as players to be watched. Then it's time for the Hokuto Cup qualifiers. In his second round, Hikaru plays against Yashiro, a game filled with risky and unexpected moves.

(show spoiler)


This was a fun volume. Again, a bit scattered, and I honestly have no clue what any of them are working towards anymore. Even Hotta admits that pros' schedules and tournaments are confusing and complicated. I'm better off just focusing on individual matches and their outcomes rather than trying to figure out the big picture. One thing I do know is that the Hokuto Cup qualifier determines who's part of the Japanese team in the big Japan-China-Korea tournament.

Yashiro and Hikaru's game is exciting, even though I suspect it's unrealistically reckless.

 

 

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

Hikaru no Go (manga, vol. 19) story by Yumi Hotta, art by Takeshi Obata, supervised by Yukari Umezawa (5 Dan), translated by Naoko Amemiya

Hikaru no Go: One Step Forward!, Vol. 19 - Yumi Hotta, Takeshi Obata

Hikaru plays against other Shodan, even though he's far stronger than they are, and we're repeatedly reminded that everyone has to start at this point and work their way up. In his free time, Hikaru analyzes his and Akira's games with Akira. Akira is now playing against higher ranked players, and Hikaru wishes he could too. Hikaru's first higher ranked opponent is

Gokiso 7 Dan, who he beats. Hikaru finally learns about the Japan-China-Korea Junior Cup...and that Akira is already part of the team and won't need to try out. The volume ends with Hikaru doing a rematch against Kadowaki while Isumi is playing against Kuwabara.

(show spoiler)


This volume felt a bit scattered and lacking compared to some of the past ones. Even the short story volume worked better for me. The best parts were Hikaru buying himself a fan like Sai's (I was a little surprised that no one poked fun at him for what would have appeared to others like a sudden new affectation) and Hikaru and Akira arguing over Go. I could imagine them continuing to argue like that after having spent decades as friends and rivals.

 

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

Hikaru no Go (manga, vol. 18) story by Yumi Hotta, art by Takeshi Obata, supervised by Yukari Umezawa (5 Dan), translated by Naoko Amemiya

Hikaru no Go, Vol. 18: Six Characters, Six Stories - Yumi Hotta, Takeshi Obata

This is the series' "short story" volume. It's an anthology composed of shorts focused on particular characters.

"Akira Toya" takes place just before Akira first met Hikaru and shows his loneliness at not having kids his own age to properly play Go against.

He plays against a kid who has a high opinion of his own skills only to utterly crush him.

(show spoiler)


"Tetsuo Kaga" takes place after all the original Go club members have left. Kaga, the kid who was good at both Go and Shogi, goes back to his junior high and is accidentally mistaken for Tsutsui,

a misunderstanding that he uses to gather up new members for the school's nearly dead Go club.

(show spoiler)


In "Asumi Nase,"Asumi considers quitting being an insei and skips out on Go in order to go on a date. They end up at a sketchy Go salon,

where her obvious skill and comfort in that atmosphere end up scaring off her date.

(show spoiler)


"Yuki Mitani" takes place at some point in the past (I remember him less than Kaga, which is a bit sad considering I think Mitani was around more). Mitani cheats at Go for cash but isn't as slick about it as he thinks he is.

"Atsushi Kurata" takes place prior to Kurata becoming interested in Go. When he was a student, Kurata used to collect horse-racing data and guess winning horses, becoming increasingly good at it, although he never placed any bets.

The final story in the volume is "Fujiwara-no-Sai," which obviously takes place in the past. Hikaru and Sai play a game of Go in order to win back a prized Keicho vase

that has a "floating" flowers optical illusion when you fill it with water.

(show spoiler)


This was okay, I guess. The best stories were Sai's and Asumi's - they felt the most complete. Sai's gave me a little Sai fix. It was lovely to see him again, and Hotta basically made him go through his full range of emotions in a single story - adorably earnest, goofy, serious, and a bit nostalgic about the past. Asumi's story made me wish the series focused on its female Go players a little more. It was nice seeing her

actively choose Go over a "normal" life (although, granted, the guy she was out on a date with wasn't exactly a winner).

(show spoiler)


Kurata's story was nice, too, I suppose, a glimpse of what he was like before he got into Go. I just didn't find it to be as interesting as Sai and Asumi's stories. Most of the other stories, unfortunately, felt more like outtakes from the original series than complete stories in their own right. Mitani's was particularly annoying, since it ended just before the game that was supposed to teach him a lesson about his behavior up to that point.

 

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

Hikaru no Go (manga, vol. 17) story by Yumi Hotta, art by Takeshi Obata, supervised by Yukari Umezawa (5 Dan), translated by Naoko Amemiya

Hikaru no Go, Vol. 17 - Yumi Hotta, Takeshi Obata

Playing against Isumi helps Hikaru realize that Sai is now in his Go - if he wants to see Sai, even just a shadow of him, he must play. And so he does, and proceeds to win. There are rumors of a Japan-China-Korea Junior Cup, and players like Akira, Hikaru, and Ochi would be Japan's best chance. Meanwhile, Hikaru has his first match against Akira in two years and four months.

Hikaru loses, but it's a good match, and Akira sees Sai in his game, leading Hikaru to say that he might tell him the whole story about what happened to him one day. That night, Hikaru dreams of Sai.

(show spoiler)


Oof. This is technically a slow volume, and I got a bit tired of older dudes talking about the up-and-coming youngsters, but the beginning was great - seeing Hikaru cry and realize he must play in order to see Sai (if I were Isumi, the way Hikaru was acting would have made me assume there was a death in Hikaru's family). So was the ending, with Sai silently passing his fan on to Hikaru.

I loved that Akira could see Sai in Hikaru's playing style but also appreciate Hikaru as his own player. He's no longer chasing after Hikaru because of the player he thinks he is (Sai) but truly seeing him as he is. If I remember right, this is where the anime ended (not counting the special), and it's a nice stopping point for those who liked Hikaru and Akira but also really liked (and really miss) Sai.

 

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

Hikaru no Go (manga, vol. 16) story by Yumi Hotta, art by Takeshi Obata, supervised by Yukari Umezawa (5 Dan), translated by Naoko Amemiya

Hikaru no Go, Volume 16: Chinese Go Association - Yumi Hotta, Takeshi Obata

A very Isumi-heavy volume. Isumi is trying to gain confidence and experience in China by playing against young Go pros.

Although he's initially worried that he might be accomplishing the opposite, he struggles and sticks with it, and the experience pays off. Then it's back to Hikaru, who's still resisting Go to the point of refusing to help his former Go club friends. Isumi comes back to Japan and asks Hikaru for a rematch, during which Hikaru breaks down in tears: "I couldn't find Sai anywhere I looked...and now I found him here." (In a move he played against Isumi.)

(show spoiler)


I hate to say this since I know so many people, particularly professional Go players who've read this series, love him, but Isumi isn't really one of my favorite characters. I suppose it was nice seeing him again, working hard to build up his confidence, and his struggles are likely much more realistic than Hikaru or even Akira's experiences with Go. Still, it was a relief when the volume turned back to Hikaru, despite Hikaru's guilt and grief.

That said, the damage Hikaru was doing to his professional Go career by continuing to forfeit matches made my stomach hurt. Could he catch up to Akira at this rate? Could he be fired at some point, and how many more matches could he forfeit before that happened?

But man, that ending elevated the volume.

Isumi tends to come across to me like a "reliable big brother" type, so it was kind of nice that he was the one to see Hikaru break down. While I loved that Hikaru found Sai in his own Go playing style, I still really want Sai back...

(show spoiler)

 

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

Hikaru no Go (manga, vol. 15) story by Yumi Hotta, art by Takeshi Obata, supervised by Yukari Umezawa (5 Dan), translated by Naoko Amemiya

Hikaru no Go, Vol. 15 - Yumi Hotta, Takeshi Obata

Sai desperately wants to play a game against Hikaru, but Hikaru figures they can play anytime. He does let Sai play against a drunken Ogata (figuring Ogata would be too drunk to notice Hikaru playing like Sai), but then

he's too tired to play what turns out to be Sai's last game against him. When he wakes up, Sai is gone. He hunts for him at every possible place Sai might be - all the places associated with Shusaku - but he's nowhere to be found. Finally Hikaru realizes Sai's not coming back. He decides to quit Go, promising that if Sai ever does come back, he'll let him play all of his games and never play on his own again. Akira is confused and worried about Hikaru.

(show spoiler)


Oh man, it sucks that I had to skip volume 14. The "story thus far" section in this volume helped, but I really wanted to see the full match between Sai and Toya Meijin.

It still surprises me how soon Sai's disappearance happens. There are still eight volumes to go, and one of the series' most prominent characters is gone. I loved the way Hotta and Obata depicted his last moments, though. Very beautiful, sad, and startling. Hikaru's grief was well-done, too.

(show spoiler)


The flow of this volume was occasionally a bit odd, and Hikaru's hunt went on longer than I'd have liked and came across like a Shusaku tour in manga form. Overall, though, this was an excellent and sad volume.

 

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