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Familiar Diversions

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

Currently reading

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter
Theodora Goss, Kate Reading
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
Christopher Moore
Ao Oni: Vengeance
Kenji Kuroda, Karin Suzuragi, Alexander Keller-Nelson
Progress: 67/190 pages
House of Leaves
Mark Z. Danielewski
Progress: 22/709 pages
On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety
Andrea Petersen
Progress: 80/260 pages
Gorgeous Carat, Volume 01
You Higuri
Progress: 40/170 pages
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 read 67 out of 190 pages.

Ao Oni: Vengeance - Kenji Kuroda, Karin Suzuragi, Alexander Keller-Nelson

So far this is really good, better than the first book. However, the level of gore has also been turned up a notch. Crossing my fingers that I'm past the most stomach churning stuff, but somehow I doubt it.


This book is more like the games than the first one was. The list of characters locked in the house almost matches the games: Mika, Takeshi, Takuro, Hiroshi. The only one missing is Anna. They entered the house, the plate in the kitchen broke, Hiroshi went to investigate (and even took a plate shard, just like in the games), and now Hiroshi can't find the rest of the group. Here's hoping that the author doesn't make Hiroshi solve all the same puzzles as in the game, or this will quickly become tedious.

This Is Your Brain on Anxiety: What Happens and What Helps by Faith G. Harper

This Is Your Brain on Anxiety: What Happens and What Helps - Faith G. Harper

In this very short book (63 pages), Faith Harper briefly covers what anxiety is, how to tell if you have it, immediate and long-term methods for dealing with it, and how to help a friend dealing with it. I read it because I have anxiety and have spent most of my life "dealing" with it by either arranging things so that I can avoid my known triggers or somehow powering through the panic. But sometimes my triggers are unavoidable or unpredictable, and sometimes I'm not able to power through.

Since this seems to come up a lot in negative reviews of this book, I feel I should note that Harper's style is very conversational and she uses swear words several times. If you think this would bother you, you should probably avoid this book.

Anyway, I read this from start to finish today. A lot of the tips are the sorts of things you need to try out in the midst of a panic attack or over a long period of time, so it's tough for me to say how helpful they are. However, most of the listed methods for dealing with anxiety seemed simple enough to practice and try, and the book is small enough and skinny enough to fit into a purse or backback for times when you need reminders of the various tips or just reassurance that your anxiety does not make you a complete failure. Many of the tips, like deep breathing and meditation, were the sort of thing you could easily find online, but constant internet access is not guaranteed, and internet searching is not always possible or a good idea depending on the source of your anxiety and/or how anxious you currently feel.

I'm still a bit skeptical about the helpfulness of some of the more immediate tips for dealing with anxiety, but, like I said, they all sounded pretty simple and worth a shot. The ABCDE model for more long-term training seemed much more difficult. How do you deal with D (Dispute) when your fears aren't totally unjustified? I suspect I'll probably have to work on this with a friend or family member, someone who can give me a reality check when necessary or come up with answers I have trouble seeing.

Things that, as far as I can remember, this book doesn't bring up: medication and getting professional help. I suspect this ties in with the author's recognition of the ways a lack of privilege can affect anxiety. Both of those options require things like money, decent insurance, and the right services in your area. Harper mentioned early on that she's a therapist who has worked with clients who have anxiety, so there was at least a background awareness of this option, but the assumption seemed to be that, if you wanted to seek professional help and were able to, you'd already be doing so or would do so when you were ready.

All in all, this seemed like a decent anxiety self-help book. My library due date isn't for a while yet, so I'll keep it and practice some of the tips it talked about. There's also a good chance I'll buy a copy for myself. It really would fit nicely in my purse, and it's cheap.


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

I need to remember to mark this when I get home. And also add Days Gone Bad to my "saved books" list.

Bingo call: 9/13/19

Reblogged from Moonlight Murder:

Ao Oni by Kenji Kuroda, illustrated by Karin Suzuragi, translated by Alexander Keller-Nelson

Ao Oni - Kenji Kuroda, Karin Suzuragi, Alexander Keller-Nelson

Content warning for the book: suicidal ideation, gory descriptions of severed body parts, on-page bullying.

Shun, Hiroshi, Takuro, Mika, Anna, and Takeshi are all students at the same middle school. Takuro is one of the most popular kids at school. He's also a bully who may have been involved in a past student death and who is currently tormenting Shun. The few bright spots in Shun's life are the computer game he's creating in his spare time, his friend Hiroshi, who's smart and doesn't seem to care what anyone thinks of him, and Anna, the class president and one of the few people who's friendly towards him and encourages him. Mika and Takeshi are Takuro's friends (or, more accurately, his lackeys), although they're not usually involved in the worst of the bullying. Takeshi is a coward, and Mika secretly wishes her emotionally distant parents would spend more time with her.

One evening, Takuro, Takeshi, and Mika cart some boxes over to an old mansion that Takuro's father supposedly bought. The mansion, now nicknamed the Jailhouse, was supposedly last inhabited 20 years ago by a young couple and their daughter, who used a wheelchair. Shun, Hiroshi, and Anna all end up going inside with Takuro, Takeshi, and Mika, and the six kids suddenly find themselves trapped in what appears to be a haunted house. If they can't figure out how to escape, they may all end up as food for the giant blue monster that roams the halls.

I haven't played any of the Ao Oni game versions, although I did watch parts of a few "let's play" videos. I didn't really expect all that much from this, but it actually wasn't bad. I'm curious as to the intended audience, though - it read like a Middle Grade book, and yet included gory scenes that would have been a better fit for older readers.

As seems to be the case with pretty much every J-Novel Club title I've tried so far, the writing was occasionally awkward and clunky. One example:

"Shun noticed that the bags under her eyes - something he ordinarily found charming about her - were darker than normal." (34)

This sentence is structured in a way that makes it seem like Shun found the bags under Anna's eyes to be charming, when in fact it was probably her eyes that he found charming.

The overall story might have been scarier had the writing been better, but there were still parts that I thought worked extremely well and were genuinely creepy. My top two favorite moments were the "this is why you can't hide in a closet forever" scene, which featured a really effective use of illustrations, and one of the last deaths, when the few survivors tried to figure out whether the person was still alive (even though they almost certainly were not, and it was foolish to check).

Takuro was 100% horrible - of all the characters, he was the one I was most hoping would end up dying. Takeshi didn't really make much of an impression on me, Hiroshi struck me as being fairly creepy (although it turned out that there was more going on than I realized), and Anna was annoyingly underutilized. I cared most about Shun, who'd been ground down by Takuro to a depressing degree, and Mika. Yes, Mika had opted to side with a sadistic bully, but she'd done so because she'd convinced herself that he could provide her with the love her family didn't give her. I felt bad for her, even though her willingness to forgive Takuro just about anything made me grit my teeth a few times.

The ending was...weird. Most of the book was slight creepiness, gore, and occasional appearances from a ridiculous "blueberry-colored" monster. Then it all took a sudden "very special message" turn at the end, morphing into a suicide prevention story. This would have been fine, although heavy-handed, but the steps the story took to get there felt like a cop-out. I had been wondering how the series was going to continue, despite everything that had happened, and I wasn't pleased with the answer.

Still, I liked this well enough to want to continue on. I also tried to hunt down some "let's play" videos of Ao Oni version 3.0, the one this book was based on. Unfortunately, I have yet to find one done by someone whose voice/sense of humor I'm able to stand.


  • Prior to the start of the book, there are a few manga pages depicting a later scene.
  • Several black-and-white illustrations.
  • An afterword written by the author.
  • A brief note written by the illustrator.
  • Two pages of the illustrator's initial character designs.
  • A couple color illustrations.


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

Days Gone Bad by Eric R. Asher

Days Gone Bad - Eric R. Asher

Damian Valdis Vesik is a necromancer in St. Louis. His shop, Death's Door, provides spell-craft supplies, crystals, and other artifacts that sorcerers and Wiccans might be interested in. His sister, Sam, is a vampire - as far as I could figure out, Damian met his teacher, Zola, in the aftermath of his sister being attacked. Since then, he's also acquired several fairy lodgers and their annoyingly bitey cu sith puppies.

The book starts with a wedding invitation. Sam's ex-boyfriend is getting married, and she's pissed. Damian isn't 100% sure about her self-control, so, in order to appease her, he offers to attend the wedding and somehow make it horrible. Meanwhile, Zola is back, with news that there's something worrisome going on involving demons.

That's the story as I understood it. One of this book's problems (it had several) was that it didn't feel particularly focused. I generally understood that the primary storyline was supposed to be about the demons (demon?), but I couldn't get a handle on whether the author was setting it up to the the overarching storyline of the series, with something else as the true focus of this particular book, or whether it was actually this book's story. Or both.

Everything kicked off with the wedding invitation. Even though this was one of my Book Bonanza purchases and the author himself told me that this was the first book in the series, I still found myself wondering whether I'd actually started with the first book. Damian kept mentioning a bunch of characters like I should know them already - his vampire sister probably threw me the most. After a flurry of character introductions, the story fell into a frustrating pattern: the characters would eat junk food and/or spend some time joking around, something serious would happen, and then the characters would go back to eating junk food and/or joking around. This pattern held even as the characters were attempting to escape a zombie horde - during a brief quiet moment, Damian managed to find some expired Moon Pies and chowed down.

At some point during all the joking, chimichanga/pizza/beef jerky eating, and violent but largely forgettable vampire/demon/zombie scenes, Damian remembered that there was a wedding he was supposed to go to. He went, and then a scene occurred that utterly ruined the book and main character for me, and left me regretting that I'd purchased both Book 1 and Book 2 together because, hey, why not? (This is why not.) Warning: it involves animal abuse.

Just prior to the wedding, Damian learned how to do a bit of fairy magic. In particular, he learned a growth spell that could cause plants to grow extremely quickly. While at the wedding, he recalled a pet parrot of his who'd died from eating rice, and who he'd then raised from the dead. After scaring off a flower girl in a contrived little scene (based on what little I know of small children, I think she'd have been more fascinated by his story than terrified), Damian took her bag of rice and scattered it for the pigeons outside to eat. He then used his new growth spell to cause all of the pigeons in the area who'd eaten the rice to suddenly explode. Both he, his sister Sam, and Ashley, a Wiccan priestess and wedding attendee, thought this was hilarious. Any and all goodwill I had for Damian evaporated.

At a later point in the book, the characters found themselves caught in a trap that had required a massacre to set. Zola commented: "The power and disregard for life it would require are unthinkable." (189) I imagine she meant human life, because not one person had a negative thing to say about Damian blowing up a bunch of pigeons essentially for giggles. I was similarly stony-faced about all the "feeding ferrets to vampires" jokes. Damian didn't like pigeons, so it was okay for him to kill a bunch of them just to ruin a wedding.

(show spoiler)

Damian also didn't like ferrets, so it was hilarious that one of Sam's vampire friends bought a pet ferret each week and ate it.

The ferret thing didn't even make sense. If vampires could feed off of animals and did so in order to avoid harming humans and drawing attention to themselves, why spend so much money on ferrets and run the risk of the pet store owner (the ferrets were always purchased from the same store) finally becoming suspicious? Why not keep, say, a few large dogs around, and bleed them on a rotating basis?

This book had an editor, but I suspect she only did copyediting. This needed more than that. I liked Asher's "voice," for the most part, and I think there was a decent story in here somewhere. Unfortunately, it was buried under a bunch of crap: a large cast of characters I had difficulty remembering and keeping straight, an "everything but the kitchen sink" list of fantasy/paranormal beings, and lots of eating and jokes that tended to fall flat. Nothing seemed to matter. One of the character died, but I could barely remember why I should care. Damian was frequently injured in ways that should have either resulted in his death or extended hospitalization, but someone would always show up to heal him in a matter of hours or days.

There were a couple characters I sort of liked: Zola, Damian's teacher, and Happy the ghost panda. I'm still disappointed that not even Zola told Damian off for what he did to those birds, though, and Happy felt emotionally manipulative, the author's way of making sure that there would be at least one appealing thing in the book. Even Damian admitted that Happy didn't behave like an actual panda. He was more like a cross between a teddy bear and a giant breed puppy.

I will probably read the second book at some point, since I foolishly already purchased it, but I'm not really looking forward to it. It's disappointing, because Asher was one of the handful of Book Bonanza authors I was convinced would be a good fit for me.


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

Reading progress update: I've read 297 out of 297 pages.

Days Gone Bad - Eric R. Asher

I'm finally done with this, oh happy day. Damian never regained my goodwill after what he did to those birds, and I was stony-faced every time the characters had yet another chuckle about feeding ferrets to vampires. Not only did I not find the ferret-eating jokes funny, it also didn't seem logical. They can feed off of animal blood, and yet rather than feeding from a wide variety of animals or even keeping a few larger animals and bleeding them on a rotating basis, they buy pet ferrets on a weekly basis. From the same pet store every time. I don't know what ferrets cost, but I figure that would get expensive, and even Damian wondered why the pet shop owner never asked questions.


Story-wise, this was confusing as heck. I lost track of what was going on and why by the end, because the characters kept taking breaks for pizza, beef jerky, chimichangas, and jokes. I know this book had an editor, because the editor reviewed it on Goodreads (::wince::), but I'm convinced that she only did copyediting.


I need to go through my Bingo squares and figure out which ones this book would apply to, but for sure this would work for Vampires and Demons.

Status update: 1 hour and 3 minutes in, 12 hours and 30 minutes left

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter - Theodora Goss, Kate Reading

I really need to finish more of the stuff on my "currently reading" shelf. I'm a bit past my usual maximum number I can handle at one time.


Anyway, this is set up like a book being written by one of the characters involved, with occasional interruptions/corrections from the other young women watching her write (or reading her draft?). I imagine this works a bit better on paper than it does in audio - I assume there's some kind of font change? In audio, the narrator just suddenly changes to a different voice, while my brain frantically tries to adjust to the sudden change and figure out whether this is a new character who has just appeared on the scene or just a switch over to one of the annoying "commentary" scenes.


I probably wouldn't have checked this out under normal circumstances, but it seemed like it would work for Bingo. It has Dr. Jekyll's daughter, plus a few other daughters of famous horror literary figures.

So, this exists. It's a visual novel called I Love You, Colonel Sanders! You can date Hot Colonel Sanders, and KFC is the game's actual publisher. I'm amusing myself by imagining the corporate meetings that led to this becoming a reality.

Halloween Bingo: Update #3


I used Anansi Boys to mark A Grimm Tale, which is also the newest called square. I think the sticker is an alpaca? It's cute. I have one more of those, in a different color. I'll probably include each general design from this set, because I love the cuteness and bright colors, but maybe not the color variants.


Read and Marked:


Ao Oni - Kenji Kuroda,Karin Suzuragi,Alexander Keller-Nelson Ghost Stories


Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman,Lenny Henry A Grimm Tale


Read and Saved:

Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 444 pages.

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal - Christopher Moore

Reading this for my IRL book club, which is happening in 7 days. The book was decided months ago, and I really should have requested it earlier. On the plus side, I've read this before, so if I really had to, I could skip to the last chapter, reread that, and then limp along during the meeting without too much difficulty (I hope). There's always at least one person who hasn't finished reading, or even necessarily started, so maybe I'll be that person this time around.


Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman, Lenny Henry

I need to sit down and figure out which of my squares this fits. Spellbound, Magical Realism, and Darkest London for sure. Possibly A Grimm Tale as well? There are technically Anansi stories in this, but I have no idea if they're retellings of actual stories or just Anansi stories that Gaiman made up. Edit: Looking over the list of A Grimm Tale suggestions, I decided that this would probably fit that category. Which, since the square was called today, would mean that I get to mark another square when I get home. Nice!

Status update: 1 hour and 24 minutes left

Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman, Lenny Henry

The "little old lady" magical sessions make me think of Terry Pratchett's witches, with all of the spell ingredient substitutions. Mrs. Higgler is a bit Nanny Ogg-ish, and Mrs. Dunwiddy is more Granny Weatherwax.

Reading progress update: I've read 127 out of 297 pages.

Days Gone Bad - Eric R. Asher

Oh. Hey. No. The author probably thought this was funny, but it's really, really not.


Details (warning, there's animal cruelty involved):


Damian is at a wedding. He waited for rice to get thrown, outdoors, where all the pigeons can eat it. Then he used the fey plant growth magic he just learned to cause all the pigeons who ate the rice to explode. What the fucking hell???

(show spoiler)

Non-book post, sort of: The King's Avatar

I just finished binge-watching what I think is my very first Chinese animated series, The King's Avatar. If that title sounds familiar, it's probably because the live action version was recently added to Netflix's streaming catalog. Unfortunately, the subtitles for that version are so bad as to almost be unreadable. The subtitles on the animated version (which can be watched legally and for free on Youtube) are much better. The show is basically 90% flashy battles, 10% eating junk food and staring at computers.


In an effort to bring this back to books in some way: both shows are apparently based on a Chinese webnovel, which doesn't appear to have any official English translations. I'm somewhat tempted to give a fan translation a go, but I haven't had much success with fan translated novels (Japanese or Chinese). Plus, this one is currently over 1,600 chapters long. D-:

Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 190 pages.

Ao Oni: Vengeance - Kenji Kuroda, Karin Suzuragi, Alexander Keller-Nelson

Only a week later, they're all back in the house. To be fair, only one of them actually remembers everything that happened.


I'm guessing the "vengeance" part of the title refers to the poor kid who was bullied into killing himself prior to the start of the first book. He didn't technically get any closure, so I guess it's time to start killing his tormentors (and anyone who happens to be standing nearby) for real.

Halloween Bingo: Update #2


I'm off to a slow start so far, but at least the one book I've finished also turned out to be one that i could use for one of my few called squares. I chose to mark the Ghost Stories square with a sticker from the new set I purchased. This is one of the two dragon designs.


Read and Marked:


Ao Oni - Kenji Kuroda,Karin Suzuragi,Alexander Keller-Nelson Ghost Stories


Read and Saved: