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Familiar Diversions

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

Currently reading

Space Battle Lunchtime Volume 1: Lights, Camera, Snacktion!
Natalie Reiss
Progress: 20/120 pages
Fluency
Jennifer Foehner Wells
Progress: 58/367 pages
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet: A Novel
Becky Chambers
Progress: 148/441 pages
The Count of Monte Cristo
Alexandre Dumas, Bill Homewood, Naxos AudioBooks
Progress: 667/3165 minutes
A Matter of Oaths
Helen S. Wright
Progress: 101/277 pages
Report on the Selected Problems of the Technical Departments of the University of Illinois Library
Raynard C. Swank
Progress: 20/42 pages
Medical School for Everyone: Grand Rounds Cases
Professor Roy Benaroch, The Great Courses, The Great Courses
Progress: 34/725 minutes

"You belong."

Azumanga Daioh Omnibus - Kiyohiko Azuma, Stephen Paul

I'm not on Booklikes much anymore, since the site still isn't working properly for me and I'm just not up to dealing with that level of frustration anymore. However, I liked these images and thought it'd be worth putting a post together. The manga itself is pretty good - lots of humor, and not much happens, but there's an overall warmth to it that just sort of creeps up on you.

 

 

 

 

Many, many Open Road Media freebies on Amazon

I haven't seen any mention yet of how long this is going to last (or if it's a mistake on someone's part), but there are lots and lots of free Open Road Media books on Amazon right now.

 

I almost never get e-books via Amazon, but if these are all still free by the time I get off work, I might break down and get a few...

Well, that was disappointing

— feeling booklikes

I was considering spending tonight posting all the reviews I've written since BL went down, but I think I might put it off for a bit longer. I just did the Fairy Ponies one as an experiment and, although the site isn't anywhere near as slow for me as it was before the big meltdown, it still isn't great. There's just too much of a wait between pushing a button or typing stuff and things actually happening, and even a small wait is too much for me right now. I more than hit my limit on that last week. I'll try again this weekend maybe, assuming BL is past its "even slower on the weekends" problem.

 

I'm having a bit of Dashboard slowness as well, but, even so, I think I've read more reviews on Booklikes in the past couple days than I did all last week. :-)

Fairy Ponies: Unicorn Prince by Zanna Davidson

Fairy Ponies: Unicorn Prince (Young Reading Series Three) - Zanna Davidson, Barbara Bongini

Holly is a young girl who is visiting her great-aunt during summer vacation. At some point earlier in the series, I'm guessing she must have gone exploring or something and figured out how to visit the magical world of Pony Island. In this book, she goes to Pony Island to meet Puck, her fairy pony friend. They're having a picnic together when they hear someone crying for help. It turns out it's a unicorn named Willow who's being attacked by several bad fairy ponies. Shadow, the ringleader, is preparing to do a spell that will give him unicorn powers and allow him to take over Pony Island. He stole the first few ingredients from Willow, and now he plans to trick the Unicorn Prince so that he can get the final ingredient.

I was told it wasn't necessary to read these books in any particular order. A bit of searching tells me that this is probably Book 5 in the Fairy Ponies series, although the only thing I felt I was missing out on was how Holly found Pony Island in the first place.

I bought this for my oldest niece, who has watched a show called Mia and Me on Netflix multiple times. Mia and Me includes elves (whose wings make them look more like fairies, but what do I know?), unicorns, dragons, and a winged unicorn named Onchao. The winged “Unicorn Prince” on the cover of this book immediately reminded me on Onchao.

This is definitely aimed at a younger audience than the stuff I normally read, but I always try to read the books I plan to give to my nieces and nephew. Unicorn Prince had exactly the appeal factors I expected: a girl who could travel to a magical fantasy land, fairy ponies (because a plain old pony or even a Pegasus wouldn't be magical enough), and impossibly beautiful unicorns. Although Holly isn't magical herself, her lack of magical ability actually turns out to be beneficial in this particular book.

I didn't notice any problems with the writing, and the story was easy to follow. I didn't always like the illustrations (Puck occasionally looked a bit odd), but they weren't necessarily bad. The text definitely fits my niece's reading level, and I'm crossing my fingers that she'll enjoy the fantasy aspects here the same way she enjoys them in Mia and Me. That said, from an adult perspective, Mia and Me appeals to a broader age range than this. I actually kind of enjoyed that show. Unicorn Prince, on the other hand, felt too simplistic and flat to me. There was no time to get to know the world and the characters at anything but the most basic level. If my niece ends up liking this and I get the other books for her, I'll read them, but otherwise I'm not interested.

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

::pokes head in::

— feeling booklikes

The site speed...is so fast. I want to be happy and optimistic, but ugh, these past few months make me wary. Crossing my fingers that we don't get a short period of goodness followed by utter neglect.

The Attack on Titan movie is indeed terrible

I haven't been able to get onto Booklikes since this morning. Now that I've finished watching the travesty that was the first live action Attack on Titan movie, Booklikes is finally back up for me. I figured it's a sign I should write a brief gripe post.

 

So, the Attack on Titan movie. It's horrible. So bad. Here's a list:

 

- Horrible special effects.

 

- The smaller titans, which I thought were disturbing at first, became laughable later on. Maybe they were overused, or not used effectively? I don't know.

 

- So many changes to the original story and characters, and not for the better.

 

- NO LEVI. Levi was one of my top two favorite characters in the series. Instead we got a slimy Levi-wannabe jerk.

 

- Pretty much everyone's backstories were ditched. As an example, all viewers were shown about Eren and Mikasa's relationship was that they probably liked each other but Eren was too loud and grouchy to do much more than give her a scarf when she was cold. All that stuff about Eren saving Mikasa from slavers, and the way that incident inspired her undying loyalty to Eren, was gone. Maybe it'll come up in the second movie, but I don't plan on watching that.

 

- Humanity was even more doomed in this movie than it was in the original series. Sure, let's send humanity's last hope, a bunch of rejects, out into titan-infested lands with omni-directional maneuvering gear hardly anyone had much experience using. The plan: fill in a hole in the wall by bombing the part of the wall above the hole. Sure, if it works that area of the wall will be shorter, but still tall enough to keep titans out. Except, you know, for the titan who made the hole in the first place.

 

- All the female characters were girlfriends/potential girlfriends (Lil, Hiana), objects to be won (Mikasa), or jokes (Sasha, Hans). And they were always the ones who rushed after the crying babies.

 

- What was with that baby titan? How can a baby titan even exist?

 

I could go on, but I should probably channel this disgust into a full review.

Live action manga adaptations: Attack on Titan and Rurouni Kenshin

I'm not even halfway finished watching it yet, and I feel like I can safely say that the first Attack on Titan live action movie is pretty bad. The smaller titans are genuinely disturbing, but beyond that I'm not seeing much that makes me want to get the next movie.

 

The first live action Rurouni Kenshin movie, on the other hand, is actually worth watching if you're a fan of the franchise and like lots of fight scenes. I'm looking forward to seeing Part 2 soon.

 

And yeah, I'm still not reading very much.

— feeling haha

Oh, guys. I had a silly browser extension running that I'd forgotten about, and I just spent several minutes trying to figure out how in the world Booklikes had suddenly developed a bug that was flipping all the masculine pronouns in the posts to feminine ones. Pff.

A Silent Voice (manga, vol. 7) by Yoshitoki Oima, translated by Steven LeCroy

A Silent Voice 7 - Yoshitoki Oima

Shoya wakes up and is determined to truly listen to and look at people, even the ones who are cruel or who hate him. He's also determined to apologize to his friends. However, talking to people is harder than he expected, and

he freaks out a little when he sees Tomohiro's movie and accidentally shouts out that it's awesome. The movie is unfortunately not well received by a judge at a public screening, but everyone gets over that. After that, it's time to think of a post-high school future. Shoko wants to go to Tokyo to study to be a hairdresser, but Shoya is scared about her going to a big city. Meanwhile, Shoya decides to be a hairdresser too, in order to eventually take over his mom's business.

(show spoiler)


I definitely have some issues with this series as a whole, but this was a pretty good ending. It was nice seeing Shoya and Shoko's mom bonding over drinks and stories about their husbands leaving them, and I really liked Tomohiro's film, or at least the way the group worked themselves and their experiences into it. It was a silent film so that everyone, including Shoko, could enjoy it on the same level, and it dealt with bullying.

I disliked the way so much of this series came to be more about Shoya than Shoko, but in a way this volume turned that around a bit.

While there was a sense that Shoya had grown internally (even though he briefly took a few steps back when he tried to convince Shoko not to go to Tokyo), he hadn't thought about his future at all, and it showed. Him deciding to become a hairdresser didn't feel like something he really wanted to do, but rather like the only possible future he could think of for himself. On the plus side, he'd gotten to the point where this didn't drag him down or particularly bother him – it was just life, and he'd do the best with it that he could.

Shoko decision to become a hairdresser, on the other hand, had actual history. It turned out that that haircut that Shoya's mom gave her really made an impression on her and made her want to do that too. Which, now that I think about it, makes it even more painful that Shoya's mom couldn't bring herself to speak to Shoko while Shoya was in the hospital. Dang. Anyway, it felt like Shoko was moving forward with her life. If I remember correctly, there was also something about her finding a deaf hairdresser mentor in Tokyo.

(show spoiler)


The volume ended on a high note and felt pretty satisfying, even though, surprisingly, Shoko never did try to tell Shoya “I love you" again. Seriously, why oh why did that confession happen in volume 3?

I haven't been able to decide whether I'd recommend this series to others. On the one hand, I liked that the characters were complex and that there were very few black-and-white situations and relationships. It'd probably make for excellent discussions. On the other hand, so much of it was just horrible, painful, and exhausting, and the focus on Shoya over Shoko and almost complete lack of Shoko's POV makes me wonder about how good the deafness representation was.

 

 

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

SPOILER ALERT!

A Silent Voice (manga, vol. 6) by Yoshitoki Oima, translated by Steven LeCroy

A Silent Voice 6 - Yoshitoki Oima

Shoya saves Shoko but ends up in the hospital, badly injured and unconscious. This whole volume is about the aftermath of Shoko's suicide attempt: Shoko helping Tomohiro finish his movie in an effort to fix what she feels she broke; Yuzuru upset because the pictures she'd kept taking hadn't stopped Shoko from wanting to die; Naoka remembering how she stood by as Shoya was bullied; and Satoshi realizing his desire to become a teacher was all about his own creepy wish to monitor the kids of his own former bullies.

This series is so dark, and this particular volume is pretty violent. Naoka beats up Shoko because she blames her for Shoya being in the hospital, and Shoko's mom attacks (like actually physically attacks) Naoka for beating up Shoko. I wasn't surprised that people like Naoka and Shoya's mother blamed Shoko for what happened to Shoya, but I hated that they did, because she was hurting too. If Shoko's emotional wounds had been able to manifest as physical wounds, she'd probably have been hospitalized too.

I hadn't realized Yuzuru's morbid photography was more than just a phase. Apparently

Shoko had tried to kill herself before, and Yuzuru's photography was her way of trying to make Shoko want to live, without actually saying so. Which...didn't really work out so well. She comes to the conclusion that she should have talked to Shoko about Shoko's past suicide attempt, and...I don't know. Remember that Yuzuru is actually Shoko's younger sister. I agree that she should maybe have been a bit less vague about telling Shoko that she wanted her to continue living, but at the same time Yuzuru has carried so much on her shoulders for years. I hate the idea of her taking on even more.

(show spoiler)


The bit with Satoshi really, really creeped me out. There was a hint of some of this in, I think, volume 5, in the way Satoshi handled things when he witnessed a younger kid being bullied. He put a stop to it, yes, but the way he did it made me wonder just how scary he'd be once he was in charge of a classroom. This peek into his motives for becoming a teacher wasn't pretty, although thankfully he'd gotten to the point where he'd realized that too. Still, it seems kind of unfair that characters like Shoya, Shoko, and others had to have the most damaged and ugliest sides of themselves put on display for other characters to see, while Satoshi just gets to quietly reconsider his future with no one the wiser.

This volume finally gave readers a few pages from Shoko's POV, sort of. It was basically like getting to see the world the way she sees it, but with none of her thoughts to go with it. Which got me googling whether deaf people think in terms of an “inner voice,” which in turn made me think that Oima really could have done this part better. At some point, I need to see if I can find any reviews of this series written by deaf people.

 

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

A Silent Voice (manga, vol. 5) by Yoshitoki Oima, translated by Steven LeCroy

A Silent Voice 5 - Yoshitoki Oima

Tomohiro's movie-making plans fall apart when

it's revealed to all that Shoya was once Shoko's bully, and that several others in the group were either involved or did nothing to stop him. Shoya loses nearly all his friends but tries to keep going and stay happy for Shoko's sake. However, Shoko sees this whole thing as being her fault – she believes that nothing good comes of being with her. So, at the end of the volume she decides to commit suicide by jumping out of a window in her home. Shoya catches her just in time.

(show spoiler)


Remember that teacher from volume 1 who was a horrible asshole who should never have been put in charge of kids? Well, Shoya got to see him again in this volume, and he was just as much of a horrible asshole. He basically said that Shoko's very existence guaranteed that there were going to be problems in the class. Never mind that he could have done more to stop it since, you know, he was the adult in the room.

I have no idea how I feel about this volume. Shoya was once again abandoned by just about everyone, and Shoko was totally not kidding about hating herself. Despite her constant sweet smile, she must have been hiding as much self-hatred as Shoya. The main characters in this series are enormous pits of self-hatred, and it's terrible.

 

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

A Silent Voice (manga, vol. 4) by Yoshitoki Oima, translated by Steven LeCroy

A Silent Voice 4 - Yoshitoki Oima

Shoya, Shoko, and others have a fun/awkward day at an amusement park. Naoka tries (unsuccessfully) to reunite Shoya and an old school friend of his. She also tries to talk to Shoko, but Shoya later learns that it went badly, with

Naoka saying that Shoko ruined things for Shoya and her. Shoko ended the conversation by saying that she hated herself. The volume ends on a sad (but less strained) note, with Shoko and Yuzuru's grandma's death, which is when we learn why Shoko's mom is the way she is. Her husband divorced her for having a deaf child, leaving her to support two kids on her own (she'd only just realized she was pregnant with Yuzuru when her husband ditched her), with only her mother for support.

(show spoiler)


I liked this volume more than the previous one, because at least the second half was less strained and awful-feeling. I prefer this series when it really digs into the characters' thoughts and lives, and this volume provided a deeper look at the women who raised Shoko and Yuzuru. I still don't really like Shoko and Yuzuru's mom (using sign language at the dinner table is “indecent,” according to her), but this volume left me feeling like I understood her a bit better. Still, thank goodness Shoko and Yuzuru's grandma was warm, gentle, and supportive towards them, because their mother sure wasn't. Ugh.

I am still frustrated with the way this series is avoiding Shoko's POV. The conversation at the amusement park indicated that there's definitely more going on there than she usually lets people see.

 

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

 

A Silent Voice (manga, vol. 3) by Yoshitoki Oima, translated by Steven LeCroy

A Silent Voice 3 - Yoshitoki Oima

Shoya successfully rekindles Shoko and Miyoko's old friendship (Miyoko was Shoko's friend who completely stopped coming to school when the other kids started being awful). However, the experience leaves him feeling a bit off, so he decides to try fixing more things he ruined back when he bullied Shoko. His next effort is to find Naoka, but that goes badly,

resulting in both Shoko and Tomohiro getting hurt. Naoka liked (and still likes) Shoya and blames Shoko for driving them apart. Shoya feels more and more unworthy of being around Shoko. Shoko, meanwhile, finally confesses her love to Shoya, but she does so verbally, and he misunderstands her speech.

(show spoiler)


Wow, this was a painful read. My vague recollection of volume 2 indicated that Shoya had started to move past some of his negative feelings, but clearly not, because he was a horribly guilt-ridden and self-loathing mess here.

Shoko is still an enigma. While I had guessed that this series would eventually

pair her and Shoya up, Shoko's “I love you” in this volume was a complete shock to me. It made no sense at this point in the story and felt uncomfortably like the series was being made more and more about Shoya.

(show spoiler)

There has still hardly been anything from Shoko's POV, and I found myself wondering how she really felt about Miyoko's “fun” day. Did she enjoy it as much as she seemed to, or was she just pretending in order to keep things from becoming awkward?

Also, I absolutely hated the addition of Naoka to the story. Thinking about it now, I've realized that something about her reminded me of FLCL's Mamimi, another character I disliked.

While I was happy to have discovered that the series was only 7 volumes long and that I could therefore finish the whole thing during my vacation, this volume made me doubt whether that was something I really wanted to do.

 

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

Natsume's Book of Friends (manga, vol. 10) by Yuki Midorikawa, translated by Lillian Olsen

Natsume's Book of Friends, Volume 10 - Yuki Midorikawa

This volume contains two stories. In the first, Natsume finds himself forced to help a former classmate of his, Shibata. Shibata is in love with a girl he thinks might be a yokai, and he wants Natsume to confirm that she isn't. In the second story, Natori is hired to find and free a harvest god so that a pestilence god can't take over and make the crops in the area fail for the next 10 years. If he can't manage that, then he's supposed to exorcise the pestilence god. Meanwhile, yokai have convinced Natsume is pretend to be the harvest god until they can find and free the real one.

The story with Shibata was so-so – very similar to a lot of previous stories in this series, with a tragic love between a human and a yokai. However, I always enjoy getting little glimpses of Natsume's past, so it was nice to hear a bit more about him from someone who knew him before he went to live with the Fujiwaras. Even if that person was basically blackmailing him.

My favorite detail from that story: Natsume getting birthday cake for Mr. Fujiwara. I seriously love the Fujiwaras. They're just perfect.

The second story was, visually, one of my favorites from the anime, and I enjoyed it in the manga as well. The character designs for the harvest and pestilence gods were so pretty. I suppose the story wasn't really anything special, but it was still fun seeing Natori again. Unlike Matoba, Natori is willing to meet Natsume halfway. In this volume he takes a huge risk, trusting that in the end Natsume will arrive at a solution that will work for everybody. A nice quote from Natsume: “Once the fever's gone down, I should go visit Mr. Natori. We still have our philosophical differences, but...but it also felt like we could complement each other because of those differences.”

As always, this is a lovely series, and I look forward to reading more of it. It has such a gentle and peaceful feel to it.

 

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

Natsume's Book of Friends (manga, vol. 9) by Yuki Midorikawa, translated by Lillian Olsen

Natsume's Book of Friends, Vol. 9 - Yuki Midorikawa

This volume contains three stories. In the first, Natsume saves a fuzzy little yokai called Karu, which is rumored to be vicious when in groups.

However, it and other Karu save Natsume from a yokai that threatens to burn his home for (it thinks) stealing his ring, so Natsume realizes it can't be as bad as the rumors say.

(show spoiler)

In the second story, Natsume is attacked by yokai in simian masks and ends up imprisoned at one of the Matoba estates. Matoba tries to convince Natsume to join the Matoba clan and leave behind humans who don't understand him and yokai who he says will eventually betray him.

However, Natsume escapes with the help of all his yokai friends.

(show spoiler)

The third story is a brief look back at an earlier time in Natsume's life, before he went to live with the Fujiwaras, from the POV of a female classmate of his who didn't really know him all that well but who still managed to look past his seemingly strange behavior.

I don't remember seeing the fuzzball yokai story in the anime, but maybe it was there and I just forgot about it. At any rate, the little guy was pretty cute, except for the sharp teeth.

I particularly liked this quote, said by Tanuma to Taki: “I once asked [Natsume] why he hasn't told Mr. and Mrs. Fujiwara what he can see. I thought he was stubborn. He said...it's because he wants them to keep on smiling. At first I didn't get it, but there are days I've had some dreams where he gets eaten by yokai. And I realized that's what he meant. He's late to school, and his classmates laugh, thinking he's overslept again. But a chill goes up my spine.” Oh, my heart. I loved this glimpse into what it's like to be Natsume's friend and to know a little about what he can see and what he goes through. Even if it's hard on Tanuma and Taki, I'm glad that Natsume has human friends who know his secret.

I don't recall liking the second story as much in the anime, but I enjoyed it in the manga because it really emphasized a couple things: one, that Natsume has come a long way and now has a great group of yokai friends, and two, that Natsume's yokai friends may actually make him more powerful than Matoba. That second bit really stuck with me. Matoba is someone who sees yokai as (at best) tools and (at worst) enemies of humans. He seems powerful, but there are likely limits to how much he can accomplish by trapping, tricking, and/or enslaving yokai, and at least a part of him has to be worried that he'll slip up and one of them will kill him. Natsume has encountered some dangerous yokai too, but he doesn't have to constantly force Nyanko-sensei and the other yokai to help him – they just do.

My favorite quote from the end of the second story (Natsume's thoughts): “I vowed to understand and to not look away from the plight of those I can see and hear.”

As far as the third story went, it was nice to see that there were a few people here and there who saw Natsume at least a little for the person he really was, and not the liar and attention-seeker that everyone kept saying he was. Midorikawa has shown readers stuff like this before, so it wasn't exactly new, but I still liked it because it expanded the world of this series a little more. It'd be nice if this girl and Natsume could cross paths again at some point, but, even if they don't, I feel like she'd think about him occasionally and hope he's doing okay.

 

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

Just a heads up

Booklikes seems to be working relatively quickly for me at the moment, so I'm going to try to push through all the reviews I wrote last night. Sorry for the posting overload!