195 Following

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
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 292 out of 292 pages.

The Accidental Demon Slayer - Angie Fox

I finished! That nets me $3 in BLopoly, and now I get to roll again.


This book gets a big No from me. I liked the dog, and Lizzie was okay although way too forgiving. All the other characters suck. It would have served them all right if Lizzie had just ditched them.

Reading progress update: I've listened 58 out of 470 minutes.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter - Jeff Lindsay

I don't think I really understood how horrible of a person and cop Harry was when I first listened to this. Dexter always presents him as a great guy, a cop who took a boy who turned out to be a monster into his home and helped make him less dangerous to the general populous by teaching him to control his urges and direct them solely at other monsters. Except Harry could have chosen to put Dexter in therapy and didn't. He just declared him unsalvageable, because of course cops know these things best.

Reading progress update: I've listened 3 out of 470 minutes.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter - Jeff Lindsay

The last time I listened to this was maybe 15 years ago. Since then I've read a few more books in the series and watched a couple seasons of the TV series. Let's see how this relisten goes. I don't remember a lot of the details, just that this was the only book in the series that the TV show followed even vaguely faithfully.

Reading progress update: I've listened 148 out of 148 minutes.

Binti - Nnedi Okorafor, Robin Miles

Yeah, I'm still not thrilled with how this one wrapped up. Sure, let's be friends with the being who was involved in the brutal murder of hundreds of people at the beginning of the story, and who modified Binti's body without her knowledge or full consent. Everything's fine and forgiven.

Reading progress update: I've read 202 out of 292 pages.

The Accidental Demon Slayer - Angie Fox

Less than a hundred pages to go, I'm so happy. This is definitely ending up on my offload pile.


Lizzie only started getting more info and knowing what to do with her demon slaying powers in the the past 20 or so pages. Way too much of this book has been spent with her not knowing what's going on, surrounded by people who could tell her but won't.

Non-book post: It never ends

While I was in the library working yesterday, someone scratched my back bumper and the side of my car. It would have made more sense if the parking lot was full, but it was mostly empty. Whoever it was must have been half blind, or really terrible at driving and/or parking. And of course they didn't leave a note.


So now I've got that to take care of, at some point during a pandemic that most of my town insists either isn't a big deal or is just flat-out a hoax.

Reading progress update: I've listened 61 out of 148 minutes.

Binti - Nnedi Okorafor, Robin Miles

I've read this before, but this is my first time listening to the audiobook. My rating for the paper book was 2 stars due to my intense disappointment with the turn the story took and the way it wrapped up, and I doubt my feelings will change even with a good narrator, but I might tackle the rest of the series via audiobook. I'm surprised my public library not only has all of them in audio, but also in e-book form.

Reading progress update: I've listened 20 out of 405 minutes.

The Fine Art of Murder: A Katherine Sullivan Mystery - Emily Ripley Barnes

Yeah, I can't do this anymore. It's been nonstop "ugh, these younger generations are just so whiny, ungrateful, sloppy, etc."


1. No one dresses nicely for flights anymore. Gosh, some folks even wear pajama bottoms!


2. The teen granddaughter who's glued to her phone, not properly thrilled that her grandmother is visiting, and not visibly happy about the journal she was just given as a present.


3. The main character's daughter (the mom of the teen) gripes about how her husband doesn't help out, spends ages at work trips and comes back looking happy and rested while she's running herself ragged. According to the main character's private thoughts, this is just how marriages are when you reach a certain point in your life - the woman ends up doing more work, and that's that.


4. Some of the comments about main character's autistic grandson make me think that this aspect will eventually grate as well.


I thought I'd be able to wait this all out and then hopefully enjoy the mystery aspect, but no. And the narrator isn't nearly good enough to make up for the stuff that's bugging me.

Reading progress update: I've listened 1 out of 405 minutes.

The Fine Art of Murder: A Katherine Sullivan Mystery - Emily Ripley Barnes

The narrator is bemoaning the fact that no one dresses nicely for flights anymore. I get that she's retirement age and maybe supposed to come across as a bit old-fashioned, but this was first published in 2016. Unless you're able to fly First Class, plane seats squeeze people together as tightly as sardines in a can. Who wants to dress nicely for that? And that's not even getting into the issue of the clothes you wear so that you don't have to use up precious baggage space.

Six Cats a Slayin' (audiobook) by Miranda James, read by Erin Bennett

Six Cats a Slayin' (Cat in the Stacks Mystery) - Miranda James
Charlie has an uncomfortably flirtatious new neighbor, Gerry, who seems interested in buying up homes in the area. When she invites him to her big Christmas party, he decides to go in order to be polite but makes sure to take Helen Louise, his girlfriend, with him. Both of them are shocked when the party ends with Gerry's death, quite likely due to poison.
Kanesha's in charge of the investigation, and Charlie does his best to stay in her good graces by keeping his nose out of it. Mostly. It helps that he has a lot on his plate. His daughter-in-law is running herself ragged trying to take care of her new baby and might land herself in the hospital soon if she doesn't accept help. Also, in addition to Diesel, Charlie now has five mystery kittens to take care of. Someone, quite possibly a scared child, left them on his doorstep, and he's determined to find out who it was and see if they can be reunited.
Content warning for this book:
Transphobia, although not on the part of the main character or any of his friends.
(show spoiler)
The only other book I've read in this series was the first one. I normally like to read series in order when I can, but this was the only audiobook in this series that my library owned, so I figured I'd give it a shot. Honestly, skipping eight books wasn't too much of an issue. I could tell character relationships had changed: Kanesha has softened towards Charlie, Charlie now had a girlfriend, and his relationship with his son was better. There was even a part where Charlie thought back to what his life was like at the beginning of the series, so if there were any gaps in my memories of him and his relationships, they were filled in pretty neatly.
I read the paper version of the first book, so this was my first audiobook experience with the series. Bennett was a good cozy mystery narrator, but maybe not the best choice for this particular series, which features a first person male POV. Most of the secondary characters are female, so maybe that was a factor, but I still think a male narrator would have been better.
Anyway, now for the story itself. Oddly enough, the primary mystery seemed to be the kittens and the identity of the person who dropped them off. The murder was more secondary - although Charlie chatted with friends about it and did a little bit of research, he did mostly stay out of it, and as a result, most of the resolution happened off-page. While it was certainly a tragic story, I found it to be a bit weak.
The kitten storyline, on the other hand, was nice. Diesel got multiple opportunities to act as their adorable giant babysitter, and Charlie tried to resist being charmed by Ramses, the only one of the bunch with a distinct personality. I enjoyed Charlie's efforts to figure out who left the kittens, and the whole thing was resolved in a very warm and fuzzy way.
All in all, this made for a decent listen. I wish my library owned more audiobooks in this series, although thankfully I do own a used copy of Book 8 that I haven't read yet.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

Reading progress update: I've listened 520 out of 520 minutes.

Six Cats a Slayin' (Cat in the Stacks Mystery) - Miranda James



So, there's a murder in this, but weirdly enough I'd say that the "mystery kittens" storyline was actually the primary one and the murder was secondary. Charlie did his best to stay out of the murder investigation as much as possible, and all of it was resolved off-page, to the point that I had a little trouble following the threads.


The kittens were cute, and that storyline was resolved in a way that was warm and fuzzy but not to a completely unbelievable degree. Although I did have trouble believing that someone who didn't initially want pets would say "sure, I'll take all five kittens." Five kittens turn into five cats, and that is a LOT to take on all at once

Reading progress update: I've listened 367 out of 520 minutes.

Six Cats a Slayin' (Cat in the Stacks Mystery) - Miranda James

"I knew some would think me foolish for buying Christmas presents for the cats, but I probably wouldn't like those people anyway."


I'm not a "buy Christmas presents for my cat" kind of person, but this still made me laugh.

Reading progress update: I've read 99 out of 292 pages.

The Accidental Demon Slayer - Angie Fox

"'The point is we're closing in on a demon infestation and you don't have the proper knowledge, training or security.' He loomed over me until I had to crane my neck to see his stormy expression. 'You refused you own grandmother's protection. And now you've shunned my efforts to spirit you away from this hellhole until we pursue a dog that may or may not even be inside.'"


Okay, this supernatural hottie that Lizzie is supposed to end up with at some point is pissing me off.


1. She did not know it was a protection potion.


2. No one in this situation has given Lizzie much reason to trust them because they never tell her anything. You can't keep yanking a stranger around and expect blind obedience. And because Lizzie has only just met her grandmother, that's what they are, strangers.


3. The lack of training and knowledge is not Lizzie's fault. Again, no one will tell her anything. Also, maybe the coven should have tried a little harder to find her over the years.


4. Lizzie is worried about the dog, who she has known a lot longer than anyone else in this story. It is perfectly valid for her to want to find him and make sure he's safe. Shut up and help her find the dog.

Reading progress update: I've read 70 out of 292 pages.

The Accidental Demon Slayer - Angie Fox

So far, I wouldn't call this a paranormal romance. It's more fluffy urban fantasy.


I'm guessing I'm supposed to think the coven is fun and amusing, but instead they're annoying me. Would it kill them to give Lizzie a little info here and there? I don't blame her for not drinking the protection potion, since 1) her assumption that it contained roadkill didn't seem too off-base considering their usual spell components and 2) they didn't tell her that it was a protection potion.

Satan's Secretary (manga, vol. 1) by Kamotsu Kamonabe, translated by Jennifer O'Donnell

Satan's Secretary, Vol. 1 - Kamotsu Kamonabe, Jennifer O'Donnell

When a child is born with the Crest of Light on the back of his hand, it's a signal that Satan, too, will soon become unsealed and threaten world domination. Satan's a bit of a heavy sleeper, though, so it takes another 13 years for him to drag himself out of bed. After he finally gets up, he demands that a female human scholar be brought before him, so that he can torture her for her knowledge of other humans.

The human his minions find for him is a secretary. She came willingly and has, in fact, been planning world domination for a while now. Not long after being brought before Satan, she negotiates herself from "human slave" to "paid employee with a conveniently nebulous position in the demon world's new organizational chart." As she completely reworks the Demon Lord's army to her own specifications, the Demon Lord is left wondering what happened and how he can somehow keep himself from becoming a mere figurehead.

Satan's Secretary was originally created in 2014 and first published in Japan in 2016 or 2017, so the parallels I saw between several things in the first half of this volume and current events and the Trump administration were probably accidental. But this volume was first published in English in 2018, and the translator had to have known what they were doing when they had one of the human characters say "We need to make the kingdom great again." Between that and one of the secretary's more detailed plans eerily resembling what's going on in the US right now, the first half of this volume occasionally made for uncomfortable reading. Oh, and then there was the way both the human king and Satan were so easily manipulated, and the king proposing the annihilation of some demons as a way to distract his subjects from his bad leadership and decision to use tax money for his own personal benefit.

So 2020 may not have been the best year to read this. But even if I had read it at a different time, I'm not sure it would have worked much better for me. Layout-wise, this volume was a bit of a mess. Panels were crammed with text and tiny art, making this a more exhausting read than I was expecting. And the comedy wasn't particularly funny. It was one part corporate humor, one part satire about bad leadership, and one part experimentation with conflicting tones.

The secretary tackled everything from new hiring practices for the Demon Lord's army, to improving the morning commute, to the complexities of providing financial aid to demonic families. It was clever, and I suppose it was a little amusing watching the Demon Lord struggle not to be overshadowed by his new secretary, but there was nothing that really made me laugh.

The Demon Lord and his minions were terrible but, despite mentions of torture and rape, were largely presented as jokes. It was no wonder they never succeeded at world domination. The secretary, on the other hand, was true evil. She came to Satan with multiple detailed plans for accomplishing world domination, and, if the demons hadn't had more of a conscience than she did, she'd likely have managed it by the end of the volume. While I liked her efficiency, her competence, and the fact that she didn't take crap from anyone, she was so coldly evil that I found her impossible to root for. There was a single moment when readers were given a glimpse of her motivations, but even that didn't make her more sympathetic or relatable.

One last thing before I wrap this up, more of a note for my own purposes than anything: there's a scene involving a lust spell that confirms that the secretary is canon asexual and aromantic. I still wouldn't recommend this for that reason, though, because it's not like the world needs another evil aro ace character. Also, it makes the moments when Satan imagines the secretary as his sex slave even slimier.

I didn't think this was completely terrible, but it wasn't to my tastes and I doubt I'll ever read more of it.


Single-page extra scenes in between chapters, five pages of the original 2014 doujin version, one full-color page, and an afterword by the author.


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

Reading progress update: I've read 180 out of 180 pages.

Satan's Secretary, Vol. 1 - Kamotsu Kamonabe, Jennifer O'Donnell

This was originally created in 2014 and first published in Japan in 2016 or 2017. I'm guessing Satan and the human king were meant to be representations of generic bad leaders, and the parallels I saw with the Trump administration were probably accidental. But this volume was published in English in 2018, so the translator, at least, had to have known what they were doing when they had one of the humans say "We need to make the kingdom great again."


I'm leaning towards 2 stars for this. It wasn't terrible, but parts of it made for uncomfortable 2020 reading, and it really wasn't all that funny.