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Familiar Diversions

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

Currently reading

Authority: A Novel
Jeff VanderMeer
Progress: 194/340 pages
Let's Talk About Love
Claire Kann
Progress: 66/277 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

Reading progress update: I've read 194 out of 340 pages.

Authority: A Novel - Jeff VanderMeer

Control just watched the surviving video clips of the disastrous first expedition into Area X, the one where only one member made it out alive (although, seriously, what does "alive" mean in the context of Area X?). I had thought it would be revelatory and horrible, but so far only a small portion of what Control saw has been described for readers. Which is super annoying, because readers have knowledge that Control doesn't, and I'd love to be able to compare that knowledge to whatever happened during the first expedition.

 

I wish this book were as short as Annihilation. This feels like it's taking forever.

Another weather day

Just as I was getting ready to go outside and de-ice my car so I could go to work, I learned that the university's "late start" had turned into "everything closed, essential personnel only." Not too surprising since, last I heard, one third to one half of the town is currently without power. D-:

 

I already had a day off scheduled for tomorrow, so I guess this is a surprise four-day weekend. Here's hoping that everything is okay enough for me to do early voting tomorrow like I'd planned.

 

ETA: Aww, I just learned that one of my favorite trees near the library where I work has been destroyed. :-(

Reading progress update: I've read 128 out of 340 pages.

Authority: A Novel - Jeff VanderMeer

Suddenly I'm getting a few comment notifications again. Nice, but...I don't trust it. Especially since it says one comment happened 5 minutes ago when it actually happened 20 hours ago.

 

Anyway, instead of spending most of my unexpected time off reading yesterday, I spent a good chunk of it watching a movie (a Korean thriller called Forgotten, which was very good but more horrifically tragic than I expected). I did manage to read a little of this, though. Some things:

 

- Holy crap, there might be

Area X rabbits everywhere, and nobody would know. I mean, yeah, it'd be weird if a white rabbit suddenly showed up in your pet store, home, or laboratory, but would anybody think to report it to the right people?

(show spoiler)

 

- Rotting honey smell everywhere.

 

- Calling the twelfth expedition the twelfth expedition is both the truth and a lie.

 

- A plant that

can't die. Control wondered if anybody had tried eating the Area X samples, and considering what they've done in an effort to try to kill them, it horrifies me to think of one of those samples inside someone's digestive system. It'd also be horribly dangerous and not very good scientific practice, but heck, they released a bunch of rabbits near Area X and then, when they couldn't catch them all, just let them run around and breed.

(show spoiler)

These aren't exactly careful scientists.

Weather day!

I just learned that I get to go home from work early because the roads are becoming terrifying. I have to survive the trip home first (with a stop over at friend's, because I drove her in this morning after she found out her car was frozen shut), but after that this is going to be a lovely day to curl up with my cat and read. Thankfully I only have to manage about 4 miles of driving.

Just finished the Fullmetal Alchemist movie

Grim, I'd reply to your comment, except the way the way things are working with the site you'd probably be more likely to see this post than the comment. Have you seen this? I don't normally even consider buying Nendoroid figures, but I've actually been fighting the urge to pre-order this one.

 

So yeah, I liked the movie overall. There was a 20-30 minute stretch that went a bit off the rails (plastic people... O_O ...and plot holes), and it took a while for me to really get into it (right after my earlier post, in fact), but the wonderful things were really wonderful. Pretty much everything with Al, Al and Ed's fight, Winry telling Al off and bursting into tears, Ed and Al's talk at the end - all so good. I cried about Nina even though I felt that story was handled a bit better in the manga and both TV series. Shou was...very Shou, though.

 

ETA: And I should add that I actually haven't finished the manga or Brotherhood yet. I really need to do that.... I'm not quite sure where I stopped.

Watching the live action Fullmetal Alchemist movie

The movie showed up on Netflix today, and I couldn't resist. I'm in the middle of watching it now. So far it's not too bad, although they made a few really risky choices - the way they worked in some of Ed's past might make the timeline a bit confusing for Fullmetal Alchemist newbies. I'm 43 minutes in and they've managed to interweave parts of at least three separate stories: Shou Tucker and his daughter (OMG they're not pulling punches are they?), Dr. Marcoh, and a tiny bit with the priest with the fake stone.Crossing my fingers that they don't do Hughes and the phone booth.

 

Ed and Riza Hawkeye are blonde, but for some reason Winry got to be a brunette. Riza works better as a blonde than Ed does. Live action Alphonse is wonderful. I'm iffy about the choice of actor for Roy Mustang but love the choice for Hughes. Lust, Envy, and Gluttony have had one or two scenes so far but I've liked what I've seen of them.

 

And now to make dinner and watch the rest of the movie...

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 90 out of 340 pages.

Authority: A Novel - Jeff VanderMeer

The desk drawer is finally open, and Control has done a bit more office cleaning, revealing a few things with connections to the events in Annihilation, not that he realizes it.

 

The Area X crumbs are keeping me going for now, but I'm really tired of Control. I still can't believe he turned down Whitby's offer to show him something potentially related to Area X or the weirdness of Southern Reach. Control keeps trying to play power games, but I don't think he's nearly as good at them and judging when they're necessary as he seems to think he is.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 46 out of 340 pages.

Authority: A Novel - Jeff VanderMeer

I'm working this weekend but I'd still like to get through some of my never-ending review backlog and a good chunk of this book.

 

Authority isn't nearly as compelling as Annihilation was. I get the feeling that there's a little boy inside Control who could use a good cry and a hug. I feel like I know a lot about Control's upbringing and very little about what he's supposed to be doing right now.

 

So far, he's completed one interview session with the biologist, found an enormous variety of spy bugs in his office (probably all planted when it was the psychologist's office), and done a lot of thinking about...stuff. What I'd like him to do is try harder to open that desk drawer in his office that he's pretty sure has something rotting inside it. I mean, I wouldn't want to open it either, but I have a feeling it's important. And probably more interesting than his failed efforts to establish his authority in his new workplace.

Mindtouch by M.C.A. Hogarth - On sale for $0.99 (everywhere it's sold?)

Mindtouch - M.C.A. Hogarth

It's flawed enough that I only gave it 4 stars, even though I loved it enough to reread it and buy myself a paper copy as a backup.

 

The main characters are a long-lived empathic being who has to avoid touching others for fear of being overwhelmed by their emotions and a centauriod alien who likes baking cookies. Recommended to those who'd like a low-conflict and friendship-focused school story (in this case, university).

 

A word of warning: the book does contain a few very sick children, and one dies on-page, in one of the main characters' arms. I love the book, but I skip a lot of that section whenever I do a reread.

Humble Book Bundle SF & Fantasy

Grim may have already posted about this - I haven't waded through my Dashboard yet to check because the site has been down off and on for me today.

 

I'll be getting this one because, for once, there are things in the bundle that were already on my "to request or buy" list.

 

- Binary Storm by Christopher Hinz - This started off as a trilogy and then Hinz wrote this years later. The first book was great. The series went downhill after that, but I'm willing to give this new book a shot anyway. Here's hoping Hinz has gotten better at writing women.

 

- The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu - I can't remember if I've heard good things or bad things about it, but the setup sounded interesting.

 

- An Accident of Stars by Foz Meadows - This ended up on my radar because of a SFF reader whose book tastes tend to align with mine. Doesn't mean it will work for me, but I'm willing to give it a shot.

 

There are a few others in the bundle that look good, but these three are the ones I was previously interested in.

Reading progress update: I've read 8 out of 340 pages.

Authority: A Novel - Jeff VanderMeer

This is probably not a good idea on my part, but some comments I got after I reviewed Annihilation made me decide to read the next book. It just came in via ILL. Whereas Annihilation was weirdness and exploration, the reviews make it sound like Authority is office politics and weirdness. It stars a completely different main character and takes place outside Area X.

 

Things I've learned so far (assuming they're not lies) that answer or add to questions leftover from Annihilation:

 

 

- The biologist, surveyor, and anthropologist all turned up outside Area X just like the people in past expeditions. The psychologist, however, did not.

 

- The psychologist knew more about Area X than the others in her expedition because she was, in fact, the director of Southern Reach.

 

- Even in his thoughts, Control (the main character, who prefers to be called Control rather than John Rodriguez) refers to Annihilation's expedition as the twelfth expedition.

 

- Area X has existed for more than 30 years.

(show spoiler)

 

Happy Wednesday

Person: "How's your Valentine's Day been?"

 

Me: "It's been a Wednesday!"

 

Happy Wednesday! And, if you live in an area that celebrates Valentine's Day with chocolate, happy "day before the chocolate sales."

Reading progress update: I've read 496 out of 496 pages.

I Am Here! Omnibus Vol. 01 - 遠山 えま, Ema Tōyama

Hm. Not bad, but not great either. It really is a lot like Kimi ni Todoke, only with "anonymous Internet friends" and the main character as invisible rather than scary-looking. I'm not sure the author understands that the Internet is huge. Also, considering that Black Rabbit is almost certainly

Hinata

(show spoiler)

, how the heck did he manage to post comments on Hikage's blog seconds before coming to knock on her door? I'm pretty sure that all he has is a flip phone. Could he have commented on a blog using that?

Robert Jordan's The Eye of the World free until 2/15

This is for US and Canada only.

 

I had thought that Tor.com's Ebook of the Month Club had gone away, but it looks like it's still limping along. They've shortened the download period (I think it used to be a week?), and the intervals between books are getting longer and longer.

 

I don't know that I'll be taking advantage of this download. I last read The Eye of the World when I was in high school and don't recall loving it even then. If I remember right, I preferred Terry Goodkind's similar The Sword of Truth series, although, just like with Robert Jordan's books, I ended up stopping at around Book 4.

Reading progress update: I've read 124 out of 496 pages.

I Am Here! Omnibus Vol. 01 - 遠山 えま, Ema Tōyama

Oh wow, it took several minutes for this "compose a text post" screen to load. I'm so glad that the Booklikes people have posted that they're working on the site issues (that, ahh, were caused by their efforts to try to fix other problems, oops), because a lack of communication right now would have me wondering if things are back to where they were when nearly everybody took a break from BL out of frustration with its slowness.

 

Anyway, this manga. I requested it because recommendation algorithms kept throwing it at me. So far I'm unimpressed. I've read lots of similar but better works. For example, aspects of the setup remind me a lot of Kimi ni Todoke. Shy heroine, a popular guy who notices her, her efforts to try to change and make friends. However, the artwork is nowhere near as good, the author goes overboard with Hikage's invisibility to those around her, and I can't figure out why the popular guy supposedly likes her.

Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix, designed by Andie Reid, illustrated by Michael Rogalski

Horrorstor -  Grady Hendrix

Horrorstör is a ghost story that takes place in an Ikea knockoff called Orsk. Amy, one of the main characters, is low on cash, convinced she's about to be fired, and desperate to transfer to a different Orsk. She thinks her boss, Basil, has it in for her, which is why she's horrified when he calls her in for a special meeting. It throws her off a bit that Ruth Anne was also called in. Ruth Anne is a model employee, so why would anyone want to fire her?

As it turns out, Basil isn't planning on firing anyone, at least not right now. No, Basil has a problem. It appears that someone has been hanging around Orsk after hours and breaking things. In one instance, the person even pooped on a Brooka (sofa). The security cameras are no good - whoever's doing this has been limiting their activities to sometime between 2 and 7:30 AM, the time period when the store lights power down to twilight mode. Basil figures that he, Ruth Anne, and Amy can sweep the store and either find the culprit or at least prevent them from damaging anything else before the store's general manager and Regional arrive in the morning. This is a horror novel, so of course things don't go nearly that well.

Several people I follow on Booklikes read this a while back. I kept seeing the cover art pop up on my Dashboard, and the slightly creepy "catalog page" look of it intrigued me. It took me a while, but I finally requested an interlibrary loan copy.

I've never been to an Ikea and was a little worried that that would interfere with my enjoyment of the book. Thankfully that didn't seem to be the case, although having experience with big-box stores in general probably helps. Horrorstör gave readers an exhaustive employee's eye view of Orsk and how it operated, going so far as to include a floor plan, order form, and product images and descriptions (which took an unnerving turn later in the book).

The details about the haunting didn't strike me as being very exceptional or original, and the things that happened to the employees in the store occasionally caused me to pause and wonder how they hadn't died of shock yet. The thing that made Horrorstör more than just an average horror novel for me was the way it incorporated Orsk details. One of my favorite parts involved Amy being trapped inside a Liripip wardrobe. It mattered that it was that particular kind of wardrobe and that Amy was a store employee with special knowledge of its particular problems.

Hendrix did a great job at emphasizing the creepiness of an empty Orsk, with its peculiar layout that required customers to go through the store in a particular way. Even before the real horror started, I found myself getting creeped out by Amy and Ruth Anne's efforts to sweep the store for intruders.

The characters were a little thin, and their actions didn't always match the background info readers were given - for example, I found Basil's actions at the end a little difficult to believe considering he's his little sister's primary caretaker. That said, I still loved this. Hendrix left just enough loose ends that I could imagine a Planet Baby sequel, although it's probably for the best that, as far as I know, no sequel has been planned.

 

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