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review 2020-01-15 12:43
X-Day (manga, vol. 2) by Setona Mizushiro, translated by Shirley Kubo
X-Day, Book 2 - Setona Mizushiro

The members of the little Ursa Minor chat group are getting more keyed up - Rika (11) has done something she regrets, Mr. Money is forcing himself to be more open about the situation with his mother and what it's done to his state of mind, Polaris is going to be forced to take part in a swimming relay race and feels anxious just thinking about it, and Jangalian still doesn't know how to gracefully put a stop to his obsessed stalker and the rumors she keeps spreading. Things are coming to a head now that everyone's been pushed into a corner.

Mizushiro managed to wrap this up better than I expected. Even though I had some issues with the way things played out, everyone's motivations and actions seemed more solid and believable in this volume than they did in the first volume. That said, I still had issues with how things worked out.

Mizushiro's handling of Mr. Money and his family situation struck me as being overly simplistic.

I disliked the way Rika and Mr. Money's relationship was presented as positively resolving their storylines. So, what, Rika's anxiety about track team and her ex-boyfriend were all resolved by her getting a new boyfriend? And we're supposed to believe that Mr. Money's abusive home life is no longer a problem, and he's magically no longer afraid of women? Uh, no.

The way Jangalian's issues were dealt with also seemed pretty simplistic, although there was at least a brief mention that things weren't quite over yet. Still, I was surprised that there wasn't more of a fuss made about even just the appearance of a relationship between Polaris and Jangalian. And Polaris, who has now tried to commit suicide twice in one year, could use a supportive adult in her life who isn't Jangalian.

(spoiler show)


All in all, this series got off to a shaky start but managed to find its footing by the end, even though I wasn't always comfortable with the way everything played out.

Extras:

The last quarter of the volume was devoted to a short called "The Last Supper." Oh man, this story was dark, weird, and horrifying.

It's science fiction in which humans struggle to survive a plague that keeps cropping up every few years. The sky is now lit by an artificial sun, and the weather, too, is artificially controlled. Cows have long since died out and have been replaced by cow-human hybrids. Which we still raise for food, and eat. Lambda 26 is one such cow. After his father is slaughtered and eaten, Lambda tries to escape but ends up being found by Mitsuhiko, the rancher's son. Mitsuhiko insists on having Lambda as his playmate and servant, thereby protecting him from being killed and eaten. Lambda initially wants to be free but eventually begins to care for Mitsuhiko. (Major spoilers from this point on.)

Unfortunately, Mitsuhiko catches the plague and guess what? Medicine made from cow organs turns out to be the best treatment. Mitsuhiko has refused to eat beef since Lambda became his friend, but now Lambda badly wants to help him. Mitsuhiko can't face the idea of Lambda dying for him and gives Lambda everything he needs in order to escape. However, Mitsuhiko's father manages to obtain some cow organs, which are turned into medicine for Mitsuhiko. He's convinced to eat it, only to discover that the cow used in his medicine was, in fact, Lambda.

(spoiler show)


That last story was definitely not my kind of thing, and I feel icky just thinking about it.

 

Rating Note:

 

If I could rate X-Day's conclusion separately from "The Last Supper," I'd give the former 3 stars and the latter 1 star. "The Last Supper" only takes up a quarter of the volume and therefore maybe shouldn't have as much weight, but since it had a pretty significant negative emotional impact on me, I'm just going to average the two ratings and give this 2 stars.

 

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

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review 2019-09-30 18:09
Even More Annoyed Now
The Saturday Supper Club - Amy Miller

Note: So my earlier review was of the same book with a different cover and author. No idea why GR didn't combine them or even acknowledge it. However, I loathe not having the review with the edition of the book I read, so had a massive clean-up. Sorry about that.

 

So I accidentally got this via Kindle Unlimited when I was trying to buy another book. I decided to give it a go and instantly wished I passed. I finished it though because I was hoping the author wasn't going to go where she was signaling from the beginning, too bad, she did. I hated the entire ending of this book and thought it was more of a HFN, then a HEA, due to not being dropped on the head. 

I am always on the lookout for good romance authors so I thought that this book sounded up my alley. I am on a Great British Bake Off kick right now so loved the idea of reading about anything that dealt with cooking or baking and romance. "The Saturday Supper Club" has Eve agreeing to be part of a amateur cooking contest to help out her freelance boyfriend Joe. After a contestant drops off, Joe thinks that it would be a great way for Eve to get some press. When Eve opens the door though, she's shocked to see her ex-boyfriend Ethan. Ethan dumped her via note three years ago and she has not seen him since.

So, I loathed Ethan from the beginning. A freaking note, what is this, Sex in the damn City? And then when we find out why he left. I saw red. No spoilers readers, but there are several things I don't want to see in my romance novels. And this one had a big red flag on the play.

I didn't like Eve. She was too starry-eyed about Ethan and seemed to want to gloss over everything cause feelings. And I have to say that I at one point started texting my sister while reading this and asking what she would have done and she was all, kill you and bury your ass in the backyard (still no spoilers.....trying very hard right now). I liked Joe fine until Bratley or Miller, I have no idea what name I should be going by in this review decides to rewrite the character we know. I didn't like Eve's sister Daisy at freaking all. And there's just a lot of crap going on that made my eyes cross via these characters.

The writing wasn't that good I thought. I wanted to read more about the cooking and it became so not about that after a while. Don't tell me about an amateur cooking contest that seems to not matter after about the first couple of chapters. We have Eve trying to open a cafe and I just didn't care after a while either. I don't know what it was, but the writing started to push me away. The dialogue didn't seem real, Ethan and his BS seemed beyond ridiculous. I was hoping for something more, but the author I think had scenes in her mind and wrote to that instead of checking with herself if it felt authentic. The flow was not good.

The ending of the book had me laughing at one point because it's so surreal you think you are watching a reality show. It does not hold up at all and it's a huge freaking mess.

 

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review 2019-09-30 15:10
Christian Romance Readers May Like This?
The Saturday Night Supper Club - Carla Laureano

There's a question mark in my review title because honestly I am not a Christian romance reader. I am also highly annoyed Amazon didn't mark this as Christian romance via my Kindle Store because I hard pass Christian romances. I feel uncomfortable reading about people talking about God and acting as if everything good that happens is due to God and when something bad happens, think that praying harder is what they need to do. I don't know. Probably because I was raised in the church and I feel uncomfortable with anyone pushing their religious views down my throat. This book didn't feel very realistic after a while and I didn't buy what the author was selling via the two leads. Also, I thought the heroine was actually a lousy person (sorry, not sorry). I thought the hero really did psychoanalyze people too much and it started to annoy me. Not going to continue with this series, though I was looking for a good romance series to start. 

 

"The Saturday Night Supper Club" follows James Beard award winner Rachel Bishop. Rachel has been living in Denver for 6 years and is finally a co-owner of her own restaurant, Paisley. Rachel pushes herself and her team in the kitchen, but is starting to feel a bit off. When a restaurant critic who accused her of sexual impropriety is taken apart by a viral essay, Rachel is ambushed by the press. Instead of no comment, Rachel shoots off the cuff and later has her words switched up. From there, everything is in free fall and Rachel is bought up and quickly unemployed. When the author of the original essay, Alex Kanin, tracks Rachel down to apologize, he offers his help in anyway that he can. Rachel starts thinking of ways to get back into the restaurant scene and then uses Alex's place as a location to host an exclusive Saturday Night Supper Club. 

 

So here's the thing, Rachel kind of sucks. We find out that she's fallen out with a lot of female chefs because she walked off a panel that was discussing sexism in the kitchen. Rachel thought it was not fair to do that since she's had a lot of male mentors who have ensured her success. And there seems to be the author wagging her finger at people who think that sexism in kitchens is bad. This book was written in 2018, this is way into the metoo movement and also the articles coming out about the sexual harassment in the restaurant industry (see Spotted Pig’s owner Ken Friedman, Mario Batali, John Besh, etc.) So this is a very real thing and I wanted someone to curse Rachel out about it. Things went from bad to worse from me when once again a reporter asks her about how sexism in the kitchen is terrible and Rachel goes who cares if they are a man or a woman, they don't belong there if they can't cook. (Paraphrasing). So there you go. I just shook my head. For someone who was all about getting out of her religious stepfather's thumb, she sure took his lessons to heart about how a woman should act.

 

Alex just bugged me. He finds himself attracted to Rachel as soon as he sees her, and then can't write, cause his conscience is bothering him. I never got that even a little bit. He was writing a piece talking about online trolling, Rachel's mouth got her into trouble, not the other way around. Ah well. There are some interesting elements to Alex, but I didn't like how her characterized Rachel after a while. I didn't get why she was interested in him either.


The secondary characters are all fluff and no substance. I know that Rache's two best friends are subjects of the next two books, but I am hard passing on continuing to read this series. 


The supper club idea was interesting, but disappointed we only get two supper clubs. that annoyed me since I think you need to have more than 2 dinners for you to suddenly have a comeback.  Everything else in the book was Rachel not wanting to get involved, Alex wanting to, and Rachel starting to "dress" up for him. Rachel cooking for her friends to discuss Alex. I think this book would fail the The Bechdel test. Everything deals with Alex, with Rachel occasionally feeling guilty since her best friend walked out on the job at Paisely in solidarity with Rachel. And them talking about me. A lot. The food sounded interesting, and I just wanted more of that.

 

When these two talked about God though, I really didn't buy it. It sounded so fake. I mean in the end Rachel does something totally out of character and goes well God will provide. Or something. My eyes started to roll. 

 

The ending made zero sense to me based on what came before. I just went okay then and went about my day. 

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review 2019-03-22 18:13
The Saturday Night Supper Club, Carla Laureano
The Saturday Night Supper Club - Carla Laureano

I enjoyed this Supper Club romance. I received this for free and I voluntarily chose to review it. I've given it a 4.7* rating, This was a clean, foodie type of romance. The heroine in this is in the top of her field in this back and forth romance. The hardest thing is to trust in this Supper Club idea with each other. And the hero is a fixer. A bit of action in this also. Lots to keep your attention and I found it hard to put down.

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review 2018-02-09 20:49
The Girls' Guide to Love and Supper Clubs
The Girls' Guide to Love and Supper Clubs - Dana Bate

I weirdly liked this book. Even though the main character was a bit much for me and totally self-absorbed at times, I liked it. Probably because the author does a kick-ass job describing DC and the food the main character is making. She also included recipes in the back I want to try sometime soon as well.

 

"The Girls' Guide to Love and Supper Clubs" has Hannah Sugarman at a cross-roads in her professional/personal life. She works at a think tank she really hates and has a boyfriend she really loves. She really would love to quit her job and just cook full-time, but disappointing her parents (both professors) and her boyfriend is something she's not quite ready to do. When her relationship with her boyfriend crashes and burns, Hannah is forced to move out and needs a way to make some money. When her work friend Rachel suggest that they do an underground supper club, Hannah thinks she may have a way to feed her need to cook and save some money. Things would be great except she's hosting the supper club in her landlord's home without his knowledge. And he's running for a council seat in Dupont Circle with one of his mission's to wipe out the restaurants or other entities running around serving food and liquor without a license. 

 

As I said above, Hannah bugged me. I think the reason why is that I didn't get a sense she was trying hard at all. If she didn't want to work at the think tank then quit. Doing a terrible job wasn't winning me any favors. Same issue with her passive aggressively cooking when she's angry at her boyfriend. Or when she talks crap about her boyfriend's parents while they are eating dinner, or talks crap about a new love's interest's mom's cinnamon buns. So yeah, Hannah talks a lot of crap. I wanted to feel for her, but honestly most of the issues/problems are a result of her doing whatever and actually being shocked when she's called out. 

 

The other characters are sketched out pretty well. You get a sense of Hannah's work nemesis and her boyfriend. I loved Hannah and Rachel together, but found it sad when Hannah called Rachel her only DC friend when Rachel rightfully calls her out for being self absorbed. Hannah's landlord was great and I started to wish for a book told from his POV. 

 

The writing was good I have to say. Dana Bate does a good job of describing the food that Hannah is making, but also why Hannah is making certain things and what her food is trying to evoke with regards to eating/memories. The flow was off a bit though. Things get bogged down around the 80 percent mark (IMHO) and then I found myself skimming just a bit to get to the end. 


The setting of D.C. was written very well here. Bate has obviously been to the nation's capitol and doesn't just describe random places and have her character get from to and fro in 10 minutes (not even with the Metro people). She describes Georgetown, the farmer's market (I miss them right now), Dupont Circle, Chinatown (which is the world's saddest Chinatown), the Army Navy Memorial, and a whole host of other places that I have been. I really enjoyed this book so much since there's not a lot about DC I am in love with these days. This book brought it all back though.


The ending was a bit abrupt. I wish that Hannah had more closure (yeah I hate that word) with her boyfriend and that we could have skipped a head a bit. Still I give it four stars for holding my interest and making me laugh out loud several times. 

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