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review 2019-08-25 03:30
My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!, Vol. 2 by Satoru Yamaguchi, illustrations by Nami Hidaka, translated by Shirley Yeung
My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!, Vol. 2 (light novel) - Satoru Yamaguchi,Nami Hidaka,Shirley Yeung

This volume covers, I'm pretty sure, Katarina's entire first year at the Academy of Magic, which is also the entirety of the otome game that Katarina played when she was a 17-year-old girl living in our world. She finally meets Maria Campbell, the commoner who can use Light magic, who happens to be the otome game's protagonist, and is convinced that Jeord, Alan, Keith, and/or Nicol will fall in love with her. After all, Maria's so sweet, beautiful, and kind, who wouldn't fall in love with her? Katarina is so focused on avoiding Maria-related Catastrophic Bad Ends that she doesn't notice some disturbing and possibly deadly developments at the school.

I had figured that Yamaguchi would milk the humor surrounding the mismatch between Katarina and the other characters' POVs for all it was worth, so it was surprising when this volume took a more serious and poignant turn. I was also surprised that the Catastrophic Bad Ends storyline was wrapped up so quickly - two volumes and that's it. I assume that the next few volumes either start a new story arc of some kind (focused on what?) or read like unnecessary filler. I'll hope for the former but expect it will be the latter.

At any rate, after finishing the first book, I was wary that this one would follow the same pattern of having a scene from Katarina's POV and then showing everything a second time from someone else's POV. Although Volume 2 still switched between Katarina's POV and others', the repetitiveness was drastically reduced - Yamaguchi made slightly more effective use of the new POVs and instead focused more on flashbacks to important times in those characters' lives.

The first POV switch was a shock, revealing something that caused me to question the series' setup and everything that was going on. Yamaguchi then did absolutely nothing with that massive revelation until close to the end of the book. It felt a bit like cheating on the author's part, even though it tied in with Katarina's past life in our world, the Fortune Lover game, and the book's friendship theme.

I liked the friendship that developed between Maria and Katarina and the effect it had on Maria's relationship with her mother. And the "hidden character" storyline was interesting and unexpected. Still, I missed seeing Katarina interact with the characters from the first volume. They were definitely there, but they didn't feature as prominently as I had hoped. That said, I loved Katarina's conclusions about her "Friendship Ending" - otome games in general could use more emotionally satisfying Friendship Endings that aren't treated like another sort of Bad Ending.

The writing/translation, while less repetitive and less riddled with typos, was still pretty bad. I was glad to only see one instance of the word "abode," but its status as most popular word in the translation was taken by the word "snack." Surely a more specific word, like "cookie" or "cake" or "tart," could have been used occasionally. By the end of the book, I could feel myself suffering from bad writing fatigue, so rather than starting the third book right away, I'm opting to take a break from the series for a bit.

This second volume wasn't quite what I expected (or, honestly, what I wanted), but it did wrap up the Catastrophic Bad Ends storyline pretty nicely, and I'm very much looking forward to reading the manga adaptation of this part of the story, considering how much of an improvement the first volume of the manga was over the source material. I expect I'll be reading Volume 3 in the near future, once I've had a little time to recover, but I'll be approaching it with some trepidation. How will the series continue when the main storyline has already been concluded?


  • Side Story: She Who is Dearest to Me - A Jeord POV story focused on a particularly harrowing portion of the story, although with some lighter bits at the beginning and end. It felt a bit fan service-y, complete with one of those cliched "character using their own mouth to give an unconscious character a drink" scenes. Still, it had some of the character interactions I missed and had wanted to see more of.
  • An afterword written by the author. Apparently, this book was published only two months after the first, which could explain the issues with the writing.
  • Bonus Editor's Column - Aimee Zink writes about "katakana nightmares," the problems involved with translating katakana (Japanese syllabary that is used for non-Japanese words) into English. My favorite example was Sirius Dieke, whose name could easily have been Serious Dick (I admit, this possibility occurred to me even before I made it to this bonus section).
  • Several black-and-white illustrations.
  • A cute color illustration.


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

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review 2019-08-08 16:44
My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! (manga, vol. 1) by Satoru Yamaguchi, art by Nami Hidaka, translated by Elina Ishikawa-Curran
My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! (Manga) Vol. 1 - Satoru Yamaguchi

My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! stars Katarina Claes, the rich and spoiled daughter of Duke Claes. Or at least we're told she was spoiled - at the start of the volume, Katarina is 8 years old and has just hit her head, prompting her to remember her past life as a 17-year-old otome game fan from our world. She was somehow reincarnated as the daughter of a duke in a world where magic exists.

As the story progresses, she gradually remembers other important details...like the fact that the world she's living in is actually the world of the otome game she was playing before she died, and that Katarina was a villainess in the game. Not only that, but the Katarina of the game had absolutely no good endings. If the player achieved a good ending with one of the game's guys, Katarina usually ended up exiled. If the player achieved a bad ending, Katarina was usually killed. Katarina would like very much not to die. She'd also prefer not to be exiled, but if that's going to happen, she figures she needs to learn skills that will help her earn a living.

This first volume deals primarily with the years prior to Katarina turning 15, her age when the otome game officially began. Every male child she meets turns out to be the child version of a romanceable character from the game, and every female child is a character who acts as one of the player's rivals for the romanceable characters' love. As Katarina meets them, she makes friends and does her best to avert the terrible endings she knows lurk in her future.

In the days since I finished reading this volume, I've found myself going back to it again and again to reread my favorite parts. And this is only the introduction. Almost all of it is devoted to child Katarina meeting the child versions of characters from the game and trying to nudge them onto a path that won't result in her death or exile. Usually this involves doing something she'd happily do anyway, like befriend the characters. A misunderstanding also results in her picking up a new hobby, gardening.

If I'm having this much fun with the series now, I can only imagine how much I'm going to enjoy the next volume. Katarina was delightful. Every time she met a new character from the game, versions of herself held mini meetings inside her head to discuss strategies for dealing with the potential bad endings the characters might bring her. I loved that so many of her strategies basically involved befriending people and having fun with them. I was not expecting this series to be so sweet.

Although Katarina didn't realize it since she was way too busy making friends and trying to ensure her own survival, her behavior basically set her on the path of being the heroine of a reverse harem romance story. Jeord, the "wicked prince" she accidentally ended up betrothed to, seemed to have genuinely fallen in love with Katarina by the time she reached the dreaded age of 15. Katarina, for her part, still figured he'd somehow do a complete 180 and ditch her when he met the game's heroine - I'm looking forward to the heroine's appearance, which I'm assuming will happen in the next volume.

The other characters (possibly the girls as well?) also seemed to have fallen for Katarina during her attempts to avoid her future bad endings. It'll be interesting to see whether Yamaguchi actually plans to have Katarina end up with one of them, or if she'll just be oblivious throughout the entire series. At this point, Jeord has a leg up on everyone, what with him being Katarina's fiance and refusing to let anyone talk him out of it. Like Katarina, I'm still rooting for Alan and Mary to somehow end up together (hey, it could still happen). The Keith storyline isn't my thing, but I'm looking forward to watching Alan and Nicol lurk on the sidelines.

I had considered and rejected getting a J-Novel Club membership in the past, but I think this series is going to force me to break down. The next manga volume isn't coming out until November, and there are only so many times I can reread my favorite bits in this volume. I really want to read the original light novels, and a J-Novel Club membership would let me do that, possibly even without breaking my "no DRM" rule for e-book purchases, if I understand their FAQs correctly.


  • 1 full-color illustration
  • A 10-page short story featuring a glimpse of what could happen if Katarina doesn't avoid her bad endings. I ended up skimming it - it wasn't that interesting.
  • A 1-page afterword by the author.
  • A short comic showing the steps involved in drawing Katarina's hairstyle.
  • 4 extra pages of...something. A couple of them are like fake pages in a school newspaper, and a couple look like they're maybe a modern day AU version of the story.


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

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review 2019-06-17 11:00
New Release Review! A Deal With Death (Crescent City Wolf Pack #4) Carrie Pulkinen!





Another week gone, Readers! I am starting off my week of romance and adventures by visiting the Crescent City Wolf Pack as a Deal is made with Death! Enjoy and don't forget to add A Deal with Death by Carrie Pulkinen to your shelves!




She pissed off the Voodoo Spirit of Death.


Now she has to make amends…


Death doesn't scare Voodoo practitioner Odette Allemand, but dying sure as hell does. Every time she meets her soulmate, her life ends in a horrific murder.

Then she's reincarnated to have it happen all over again.


Odette is determined to survive this lifetime, but when a sexy werewolf knocks on her door, unearthing emotions she thought she'd buried, her fate is sealed with his enticing kiss.


James Malveaux hasn't seen Odette since junior high, but the moment they reunite, his wolf wants to claim her as his mate.


That's if the monster they've awakened doesn't kill them first.

Without the help of the Spirit of Death, they can kiss their lives goodbye. Can James help Odette make peace with her inner demons and the Spirit? Or will the couple be doomed to the same gruesome ending as their countless lives before?



If you like strong heroines and spooky spirits, you'll love this fast-paced shifter romance!


Every time she meets her soulmate, Odette Allemand’s life ends in a horrific murder. She’s determined to survive this time, but a sexy werewolf seals her fate with his enticing kiss. James Malveaux wants to claim Odette as his mate, but without the help of the Spirit of Death, they can kiss their lives goodbye.


This New Orleans romance immerses readers into a chillingly wonderful culture that the author has brought to vibrant life. The characters are strong, bold and easily draw readers into their inner circle as they try to fight fate and unravel the mystery of their past lives. The romance is a very suspenseful one full of passion, chemistry and emotional angst that makes this heroine and hero life like and their situation very intriguing.


The fast paced plot builds the suspense up to hair raising and spine tingling heights as Odette and James try to appease Baron Semedi and the Loas in order to change their fate and defeat an evil monster. The setting of the story and the author’s wonderful depiction of the New Orleans and the Voodoo culture adds great ambiance to this story making it easy for readers to believe in and become completely caught up in this splendid and fascinating romance full of werewolves, spirits, chemistry and passion.



Author's Book Page - https://www.carriepulkinen.com/books/crescent-city-wolf-pack/a-deal-with-death/



Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45361797-a-deal-with-death


BookLikes - http://booklikes.com/a-deal-with-death-carrie-pulkinen/book,14006061


BookBub - https://www.bookbub.com/books/a-deal-with-death-crescent-city-wolf-pack-book-4-by-carrie-pulkinen


Riffle - https://www.rifflebooks.com/books/1051252


Romance.io - https://www.romance.io/books/5d01e84c01dbc864fb9fb75b/a-deal-with-death-carrie-pulkinen


GBooks - https://books.google.com/books?id=YcZFxQEACAAJ&dq=carrie+pulkinen+a+deal+with+death&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj8mri5zOziAhWJmOAKHdLWAkEQ6AEIKjAA





A Deal with Death is the 4th book in the Crescent City Wolf Pack series -


Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/series/243058-crescent-city-wolf-pack

Author - https://www.carriepulkinen.com/books/crescent-city-wolf-pack/

Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07GPSMG51?ref=series_rw_dp_labf


1 Werewolves Only
2 Beneath a Blue Moon
3 Bound by Blood
4 A Deal with Death


A Crescent City Wolf Pack Novella - A Song to Remember (11-26-19)




AVAILABLE in print or ebook


Amazon - http://mybook.to/ADealWithDeath




I've always been fascinated with the paranormal. Of course, when you grow up next door to a cemetery, the dead (and the undead) are hard to ignore. Pair that with my love of a good happily-ever-after, and becoming a paranormal author seems like the logical choice! I love ghosts, psychics, werewolves, vampires, demons, and even the occasional guardian angel. If it's paranormal, I've probably written about it...or at least considered writing about it.

In my past life, I was a high school journalism teacher. But after ten years of teaching other people how to write, I decided to stay home with my kids and write my own stories in my free time. When I'm not writing or reading books about writing, you'll find me reading paranormal romances, thrillers, romantic suspense, YA, and middle grade fantasy (I have a teen and a tween who love to read. It's fun to discuss books with them!).

I love red wine and chocolate, and I can make a mean mojito. I like movies, I'm passionate about traveling, and I might have a mild Dave and Buster's addiction. I'm married to a tall sexy Dutch guy with piercing blue eyes and a swoon-worthy accent. He also shares my enthusiasm for D&B! In addition to my two human children, I also have two fur babies who swear they're chihuahuas (but at 12 & 18 pounds respectively, I'm not so sure).


Website - http://www.carriepulkinen.com/


Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4569077.Carrie_Pulkinen


BookBub - https://www.bookbub.com/authors/carrie-pulkinen


Facebook - http://www.faacebook.com/carriepulkinen


Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/carriepulkinen


InstaGram - https://www.instagram.com/carriepulkinen/





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review 2019-02-25 01:12
The Midnight Club by Christopher Pike
The Midnight Club - Christopher Pike

Rotterham Home is a hospice for teens with a variety of terminal illnesses. One small group, consisting of Ilonka, Anya, Sandra, Kevin, and Spence, gets together every night at midnight to tell stories. Spence's stories always feature some form of mass murder, Anya's story has more of a supernatural bent, Kevin's is a multi-part story about an angel who becomes a mortal out of love for a young woman. Ilonka, meanwhile, always tells stories based on her memories of her past lives. Although she says she's never met anyone in this life that she's known in her past lives, that's a lie - she recognizes Kevin as someone she's met and loved in all or most of her past lives. Unfortunately, Kevin is currently dating a pretty and healthy cheerleader.

Almost every member of the group has a secret gnawing at them, something they must deal with as best they can in the little time they have.

I had forgotten how much mysticism was in some of Christopher Pike's books. This particular one had a LOT. Ilonka had repeated dreams of sitting at the feet of some guy she called the Master, who philosophized at her and tried to get her to stop looking at the past or longing for the future and instead focus on the present. Weirdly, her reincarnations resulted in her being both the Master's mother and his first disciple. The two past lives readers got to see the most of took place in ancient India and ancient Egypt (sort of). Then there was Kevin's angel main character, Sandra's evangelical upbringing, and lots of mentions of God.

Speaking of Sandra, evangelical readers would probably be annoyed by this book, since she comes across as the least likeable and most hypocritical character. Oddly, she was also the only character to find Spence's stories disturbing. Considering Pike's usual inclusion of murder and/or horror in his books, I initially thought Spence's stories were going to lead up to some kind of murder mystery, but that wasn't exactly the case. (There was a tiny bit of mystery, but it was more of a minor detail than anything.)

I'm not really sure what else to say about this. The one bit where Ilonka had a bunch of magic-filled dreams of past lives was weird, and the far-future ending felt weak and tacked on. This was a bit of an "issue" book, dealing directly with subjects like teenage sexuality,

homosexuality, and AIDS

(spoiler show)

, in addition to the more obvious issues of death, serious illness, and mortality. (And yes,

the gay kid dies, but so does everyone else. The things he said to Ilonka would probably seem dated in some areas but would unfortunately probably still ring true in others, particularly rural areas. Considering the promise Ilonka made to him, it bugged me that, as far as I could tell, he didn't get a happy cameo at the end.)

(spoiler show)

All in all, this wasn't the book I expected it to be and wasn't one of my better Pike rereads, but it wasn't bad. Just don't let the cover trick you into thinking it's horror, or you'll be terribly disappointed.


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

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photo 2019-02-15 01:05
Conscience, Soul and God
Soul and Reincarnation
Soul and Reincarnation - Sukhraj S. Dhillon

"Conscious is the VOICE of God in the SOUL. Thus Soul is part of God within us."  https://goo.gl/xWyeDk 

Source: amzn.to/gwaTWs 
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