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review 2018-01-11 05:20
Natsume's Book of Friends (manga, vol. 13) by Yuki Midorikawa, translated by Lillian Olsen
Natsume's Book of Friends, Volume 13 - Yuki Midorikawa

In the first part of the volume, Matoba offers Natsume a job. Natsume doesn't want to accept, but he does agree to help with Matoba's little problem, a mask yokai hiding somewhere in his gathering of exorcists. Natori helps Natsume out by getting rid of Matoba's letter. The next part of the volume is a bit from Nishimura's POV - how he and Natsume met and became friends. He never realizes it, but

Natsume took care of a yokai that had been plaguing his family.

(spoiler show)

The volume ends with a story from Kitamoto's POV - how he met and befriended Natsume, and also Tanuma. He connects with Natsume over their shared anxiety about what to do once high school is over.

The stuff with Matoba was interesting and more suspenseful and action-filled than the rest of the volume. Still, I didn't like that part quite as much as the chapters that came after it. The Matoba clan feels so dark and cold compared to most of the people and beings Natsume interacts with. It was nice to see Natori again, though.

The two chapters from Kitamoto and Nishimura's POVs were great examples of why I love this series. Nishimura was such a nice guy, trying to befriend awkward Natsume. Tanuma and Taki are great, but it's also good to see people who have absolutely no clue about Natsume's abilities liking him and enjoying being with him, even though he probably comes across as a little strange from time to time. Kitamoto's chapter was nice too. I liked how he and Natsume had the same sort of seriousness and sense of responsibility - they both want to avoid being a burden on their family, although for different reasons.

I feel like every time I try to describe how good this series is, I make it sound boring...

 

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

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review 2018-01-11 05:12
Natsume's Book of Friends (manga, vol. 12) by Yuki Midorikawa, translated by Lillian Olsen
Natsume's Book of Friends, Volume 12 - Yuki Midorikawa

In the first part of the volume, a yokai tricks Natsume into letting him in - he wants Natsume to use the Book of Friends to summon a yokai named Karikami in order to restore a fragile old note. Natsume gradually learns that

the yokai had once loved a human woman. The man she loved left without telling her and married someone else. To keep her from being hurt, the yokai pretended to be the man for a while.

(spoiler show)

In the next part of the volume, Natsume meets an elderly former god who wants to return a mirror to a dangerous yokai

who, it turns out, was actually Reiko, Natsume's grandmother.

(spoiler show)

The volume ends with a story in which Natsume gets trapped in a jar by a yokai. Tanuma tries to save him and ends up in trouble, at risk of being eaten by yokai. He and Natori finally cross paths.

The first story was very bittersweet and part of an established pattern in this series, in which yokai have fond memories of humans they loved who have long since moved elsewhere or died. I couldn't help but wonder about the woman's part in this story, and what she thought about this strange event in her life.

The second story felt a little scattered - it was intertwined with a cup yokai and a dangerous yokai that could cause trouble for the Fujiwara household. Still, it was nice to see

Reiko again, even though it was yet another bittersweet moment in her life. The poor girl thought she'd finally found a human friend, and it turned out it was yet another yokai. I wonder if the series will ever touch on how she died, and who the father of her child was? I hope he was one of the rare humans she could trust, but I worry that he wasn't.

(spoiler show)


The third story hurt my heart. There was Tanuma, trying to help Natsume but worried that he was just making things worse. And Natsume, worried about Tanuma getting caught up in his messes - he still can't help his knee-jerk desire to keep his supernatural troubles from his friends. Natori is what Natsume might have been, if things had gone a little differently, and he knows it. He's jaded, but hopeful that Natsume can have the kind of life and relationships that he felt he had to cut himself off from.

Not as good as the previous volume, but still quite good.

 

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

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review 2018-01-11 05:04
Natsume's Book of Friends (manga, vol. 11) by Yuki Midorikawa, translated by Lillian Olsen
Natsume's Book of Friends, Volume 11 - Yuki Midorikawa

In the first part of the volume, Natsume and Tanuma help Taki clean up the creepy storage places at her home (her grandpa's old home? my notes are unclear). In the process, they awaken a dangerous doll yokai that Taki's grandfather accidentally sealed. In the next part of the volume, Natsume realizes that he's finally emotionally capable of looking at his parents' photo again. He also decides that he wants to visit his parents' old home one last time before it's sold. In order to visit the house, though, he first has to go to the family he used to live with to get the key. This requires dealing with an increasingly dangerous insect-eating yokai and the family's daughter, who was always jealous of the attention Natsume was given when he lived with them.

I always forget how warm and gentle this series is. Even when it breaks my heart, it does so softly. The art style doesn't really appeal to me - too light and scratchy (or wispy?) - but it works fine for this series and I love the characters and stories enough that it doesn't matter.

I absolutely love volumes like this one, that deal with Natsume's friendships. He's gradually learning to trust his human friends and ask them for help, and to accept help when it's offered. The bit where Tanuma had all his and Natsume's friends stop what they were doing and look for Natsume's missing photo was wonderful.

I also enjoyed the flashbacks to Natsume's past, and the brief glimpses of the Fujiwaras just being all domestic and kind. This is a "fuzzy blanket" sort of series, the kind of thing I want to wrap myself up in.

 

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

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text 2017-12-04 00:44
November Update

Just popping in for a quick update.  I’m swamped at work.  And furiously busy with teen and home related things, not to mention the toddler-dog who needs constant supervision unless he’s crated or sleeping.   So, JL’s Bibliomania is on semi-hiatus.

 

A few quick updates on what I read during November:

 

Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA and More Tell Us About Crime - Val McDermid 

  

I finished Forensics, and my initial opinion of didn’t change much.   I agree with the rest of the folks in The Flat Book Society: While certain anecdotes and chapters were interesting, in general this book is a disorganized mess.  It didn’t live up to expectations as a work of popular science.

 

Sparrow Hill Road - Seanan McGuire 

 

I liked Sparrow Hill Road, despite the repetitive bits.  (It’s really a linked set of short stories and it got a little bit tiresome that Seanan McGuire included the same key bits of world-building in pretty much every chapter).  When I saw her at Philcon, Seanan McGuire shared that a sequel The Girl in the Green Silk Gown is expected out in July 2018, and I’ll definitely take a look.

 

Books Can Be Deceiving - Jenn McKinlay 

 

I was not impressed by Books Can be Deceiving, which I think may have been recommended by someone here on BookLikes.  I’ve been looking for a new series of cozies, but this is not it and I won’t be continuing with the series. 

 

 Queen of Shadows - Sarah J. Maas  

 

I read Queen of Shadows over Thanksgiving Weekend.  If you liked the earlier books in this series, you shouldn’t be disappointed by #4.  It doesn’t hold up to the thrill of the first book, The Throne of Glass, but was better than #3.  Folks seem to either love or hate this series, but it’s worth a look if you like YA fantasy, assassins, and female heroines.

 

Positivity: Top-Notch Research Reveals the 3 to 1 Ratio That Will Change Your Life - Barbara L. Fredrickson 

  

I’m currently between audiobooks, which is uncharacteristic for me, but don’t have the energy to go pick something.  I saw Nothing Better Than a Good Books’s review of Positivity come across my feed and it seems like a good antidote to all the stress right now, so I’m nibbling through that.  I’ve got a couple of graphic novel biographies available, but just don’t have the energy to read much.

 

I hope to have some time over the Christmas-New Year’s break, but other than that, I expect that my on-line time will be minimal until mid-February.  I am still looking forward to Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life and hope and hope to eke out enough time to read it and participate during the Flat Book Society discussions. 

 

See you on the far-side of the year-end crunch.

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text 2017-10-07 03:32
Outside of a dog --

One of my husband's favorite quotes is the Groucho Marx line

Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend

Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read

Last weekend we took a step we'd been considering for a while.

 

Meet Quincy!!!

 

 

He was advertised as a Boston Mix, about 1 year old, and about 35 pounds.  We'll see how accurate the weight and age estimate are when he meets our vet next week.

 

While he is named for the neighborhood and John Quincy Adams, we are intending to pronounce it like the fruit (Quinsee) rather than be authentic and say Quinzy.

 

It's been a while since we've had a dog and there've been a few settling in snafu's so far.  We discovered he was tall enough to counter surf when we found him coming back for the 2nd loaf of bread. He's been exhibiting a bit of separation anxiety and climbed our chain link fence to look for my husband who was out of sight in the garage.  But we're hopeful that this will pass.

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