Review: My Girlfriend is a T-Rex, Vol. 1

My Girlfriend is a T-RexRead: January 8, 2018

I guess this was my introduction to monster girl manga. Didn’t know that was a thing. Don’t know that I’m going to look for more.

The concept of My Girlfriend is a T-Rex has potential. Dinosaurs evolved to look like humans to avoid extinction. That’s not explained any further. The dinosaurs look human from the waist up. They’ve mostly assimilated into human society but we see two who are having trouble–Churio, the title girlfriend, and Kram, a mover who has trouble expressing happiness. There’s also Torika who’s cute and plays that up to get presents from boys.

The dinosaurs mostly seem pretty human. They wear clothes, have jobs, and speak like humans. But Churio doesn’t like clothes (they don’t taste good), speaks like an angry child, and seems only somewhat aware of social norms. When she’s not just with Yuuma (the protagonist) she shows more intelligence but mostly she acts more like a dinosaur recently transformed into a partial human. Even the other dinosaurs comment on her lack of intelligence. It’s…not comfortable. The cute bits are overshadowed by the wtfness of this guy being totally enthralled by a childlike adult.

Said guy has a dark past that gets touched on and kind of gone into at the very end. It doesn’t add anything to the story.

Maybe it’s less creepy in the next volume. Maybe Churio is playing Yuuma. Or this just isn’t a genre or book for me.

Graphic Novels Read in 2017

I read 32 graphic novels and manga (and I think there’s a single issue in there) last year. The breakdown of publisher/type is not surprising.

2017comicsMost of what I read is from Marvel. I’m an X-Men fangirl and catch up on trades once or twice a year. 12 of the GNs I read were X-related.

Despite my love for Batman, I don’t usually read DC books. Problems with both DC employees and the things they write kept me even further away for years but they haven’t been so bad lately and with Rebirth it was easy to start new titles. Not sure if I’ll continue with any of them. I’d rather watch Teen Titans Go for my bat-fix.

The four Image titles were the first four volumes of The Wicked & The Divine. That may be the most Image I’ve read in years.

In 2016, I read 45 comics and graphic novels. 12 of those were a manga series and many of the rest were X-books. That would be the catch up. My manga reading was at a high after college but tapered off pretty drastically and I’d just pick up a few books a year. Now that I’m selecting graphic novels and manga, I’ll be reading more manga. And I won’t let myself get 12 volumes into a series I dislike and is going nowhere. Maybe.

Review: Iceman: Thawing Out

Iceman: Thawing OutRead: January 3, 2018

This is getting cancelled, isn’t it? Because it features someone who isn’t a straight, white, cisgender male. And it’s good. So good. Marvel has to kill the good books.

Bobby Drake, most boring X-Man. I never got him. He wasn’t the funniest character, Emma couldn’t make him interesting, I don’t hold any special love for the OG 5 that aren’t Cyclops, and it bothered me that his age kept changing. That was before there was a second one and they were both questionably outed. But here Bobby shows more depth and struggles with things I’ve never seen him think about. What does being a hero mean? Who is he? How does “normal” life fit into his life? And what do you do when your younger, time-displaced self has it more together than you do? This Bobby is likable and I want to see more of him. I don’t think I will (see the first paragraph) and that’s too bad. This is a different kind of coming-out narrative and a fun superhero story.

Review: X-Men: X-Tinction Agenda

Read: January 4-5, 2018X-Tinction Agenda

I got into X-Men with the 90s cartoon. In comic terms, it was the end of the X-Cutioner’s Song. I read earlier stories and issues that I could find in libraries or get cheap and I read a lot about earlier events. But I haven’t read everything. I didn’t realize how much I’d missed until I started listening to X-Plain the X-Men. After listening to the first episode about X-Tinction Agenda I remembered that my library has the trade and I got it.

Ugh. I can see the X-Men I remember here but in early forms. Mostly there’s a lot of art that makes me cringe. I’m not as forgiving of the plot problems, continuity errors, or pacing as they are on X-Plain the X-Men but it’s good to know the reasons for so much of the ugh stuff.

This would have more weight if I’d been reading what came before but at least I know how important it is thanks to the podcast. Otherwise I’d wonder why this was collected and why I should keep it on my library’s shelf. Had to make myself finish this one. I was kind of excited about reading X-Cutioner’s Song but now I’m a little worried.

Review: Interviews with Monster Girls

Interviews with Monster Girls, Vol. 1Read: January 6, 2018

Tetsuo Takahashi is a young high school biology teacher. He had wanted to write his thesis on demi-humans–supernatural creatures that are known to exist but pretty rare. Experiments on demi-humans were deemed unethical so even though he just wanted to do interviews to learn more about demi-humans, he had to do something else entirely.

His desire to meet a demi-human didn’t go away but he thought it’d never happen. Then he meets four demis–as he’s informed is the cute term they prefer–at school. Three are students: Hikari is a vampire, Kyoko is a dullahan, and Yuki is a snow woman. The fourth is a succubus and a fellow teacher, Sakie Sato. Hikari starts giving him lessons right away and he quickly develops relationships with the demi students.

The story is really cute and sweet. Tetsuo is interested in the girls well-being and despite Hikari teasing him a few times for being pervy, he never is. His interest may have started out as academic curiosity but he quickly starts to care for the girls and their unique situations and problems. It seems like the demi students were aware of each other but not close before the events in the first few pages and with Tetsuo’s involvement they start to become closer.

This is a different take on supernaturals. People just become demis instead of being turned into one or born as one. There aren’t many of them, but there are enough that Japan has developed some social services for them. The students have different levels of comfort with what they are and are navigating both demi problems and regular teenage ones. I’m sure as the series goes on we’ll learn more about they whys and hows of demis. And see more adorable hugs.

Graphic Novel & Manga Challenge

I don’t have much success with reading challenges because what I feel like reading changes from the time I find a book and get it. Good intentions get trashed by my attention span or a lack of motivation. But there’s one I think I can happily stick with: the Graphic Novel & Manga Challenge.

I read 32 graphic novels in 2017. As per usual for me, most of that was X-Men. But I did dip my toes into DC and towards the end of the year I read a couple volumes of manga. I also started selecting the graphic novels and manga for my library this year and that got me back into manga. Let’s not talk about how it also lead to a minor obsession with Dragon Ball…

There are different levels for the challenge and I’m going with Silver Age: read and review 52 books. Reading shouldn’t be a problem but I rarely review books. I do need to work on my reviews so the challenge will be good for that.

I’ll be posting my reviews here as well as to Goodreads. And maybe I’ll finish some of those books that don’t have pictures.

2012 Crafts to Do

No, really. I think there’s about 2,012 crafts I want to do.

I’ve been crocheting for about 2.5 years. When I first started, I saw a row counter bracelet that I wanted to make but decided to stick with crochet and not try and do beading/jewelry while learning a new craft. It’s not a difficult project but I would have needed new supplies. I made the row counter bracelet yesterday. A month ago I took a beginning beading class, got all the supplies, and have been picking up beads at about the rate one would expect for a crafter. I also started to make some chainmaille.

Doing something other than crochet has been a lot of fun. So this year I’m giving myself permission to try new things and not feel like I have to conquer or perfect one craft before trying new ones. The only limit I’m setting myself is on getting new materials. I have a lot of crafting supplies already and my mom has more. I’ll need to pick up some stuff but I’m going to going to crazy and get every tool that can be used for a craft.

After I finish up a scarf and a gift that I’m crocheting, I’ll start trying some other things. So far, this is what I want to do.

Embroidery I’ve been wanting to try my hand at embroidery for a few years now. I have some patterns from Sublime Stitching and everything I’ll need to use them. One of my Hanukkah presents was Embroider Everything Workshop which covers all kinds of embroidery and looks fun and easy to follow. I’d like to make a stitch journal for practice and then just do whatever project tickles my fancy.

Beading/jewelry making Going to keep on going with this. Making jewelry is fun and there’s almost immediate gratification. The kinds of things I’ve been making go quickly and sometimes I need that kind of project. I do want to try some stitching and I have a kit for that. I love that it doesn’t take anything complicated to make really nice stuff. There’s a book of earring projects that I love but I haven’t made anything from it. It’s inspirational and right now I need a jumping off point.

Chainmaille Still jewelry, but without the immediate gratification. I love metal. I love chainmaille. I’ve made one bracelet and it was with cheap but big and very pliable rings so it went quickly but I don’t want to use those rings again. Chainmaille will be more challenging for me since it’s more intricate and you have to stick to the pattern. I haven’t looked at how much good rings cost and I’m hoping I won’t be priced out of this craft. I want to make a chainmaille cube.

Sewing but not the kind my mom wants me to do. I still have no interest in using a sewing machine but I do want to make softies and felt toys. Those call for hand sewing. I think I’ll hold off on this until I’ve gotten some embroidery under my belt to try and get my hand steadier. My stitches are loose and messy right now.

Needle felting I’ve got all the stuff for this but never started. Another craft I want to make small things with. I really like the toys and other sculptural things people needle felt and have no interest in using felting as a decorative element. I Felt Awesome is the book I have and what got me to really want to felt. Lots of cute projects and great instructions.

I like crafts that give me lots of room to interpret and experiment while still having plenty of instruction for when I need it. Chainmaille is really the only craft I’m interested in where I’d have to (mostly) follow all instructions. But there’s still plenty of room to play there. I’ve got plenty of things to try and I’m going to do my best to get to each of them, give them the time needed for me to learn them and continue what I enjoy, and not feel like I can’t try something else or switch gears if I want to.

Tea 101

Last month I was in downtown Wheaton for reasons other than knit group (even the crocheters call it that) and visited Serene Teaz. It’s a lovely shop. Bright, inviting, lots of space, lots of teas that are nicely arranged, and friendly staff. You can sample any tea there. They’ll whip it up at the tea bar. There’s no pressure to buy which makes me want to buy everything. It feels more like going to a friend’s house and trying tea than being in a store. The only thing I don’t like is that they’re not closer to me. That’s my only complaint about a lot of places. I can choose any of dozens of places for Italian beef or trendy mall shops within 10 miles, but no awesome tea store.

Serene Teaz offers a Tea 101 class. I signed up right away. I’ve tried a lot of tea but it’s either been stuff made in a Starbucks or Seattle’s Best (*sigh*) or that I brewed at home. I know it’s rarely properly brewed and I wanted to try tea done the right way to see what I really like. In the class, Sarine talks about how tea is grown, picked, what the health benefits are, how to brew it, and more. She and her husband became certified in tea before opening the store and part of that was being encouraged to teach. She says she was very nervous her first time presenting but there’s no sign of that. It was still like being in someone’s home and them sharing something they love. Which it kind of was. You don’t open a tea store–let alone two of them–without love.

We sampled white tea, green tea, oolong, black tea, rooibus, and herbal tea. She talked about puerh and lapsang souchang and said they’d brew up samples for anyone who wanted to try them so I tried those as well. I was surprised about what I liked best. My favorite tea before the class was a lavender Early Grey. I just recently found that I love Earl Grey and I’m a fan of lavender. They work well together. But the black tea we sampled was my least favorite. I loved the white tea. Another surpirse was the rooibus. I’ve had that a bunch of times at coffee shops despite not ever liking it. It was brewed way wrong. Loved it. I knew I was brewing green tea incorrectly and had given up on doing it right. Sure enough, it’s pretty good when you do it right.

I was really interested in puerh. I knew it has a funky smell and is something more than just tea leaves but that was it. Found out it’s sprayed with a bacteria that’s really good for your stomach. That got me interested. My mom has some stomach issues sometimes and I thought it’d be worth getting her to drink stinky tea. The smell of the tea reminded me of the smell at the Children’s Zoo at Brookfield Zoo. The smell never bothers me there. I actually liked the smell of the tea–I have good memories of the Children’s Zoo and found myself sniffing the tea more than drinking it. It doesn’t taste like it smells at all. But I got a blend with caramel in it in the hopes that my mom wouldn’t refuse to drink it. I brewed her a cup without saying anything about the smell. She didn’t notice it and she really liked it. I did tell her about the bacteria and what it does. I’m drinking a cup now for the caffeine and I’m disappointed that the scent isn’t so strong.

Sarine said that when they first started out and were trying so much tea she stopped drinking soda and lost weight. I had stopped drinking soda (for the billionth time) but got headaches from caffeine withdrawal. Now I drink diet soda which isn’t any better. I’m going to try to replace that with tea. One cup of a tea with caffeine a day. No scary chemicals. At least not from drinks.

I got a bag of the white tea we tried (white peony) and I’d like to have a cup of that a day. I’m not in the tea habit yet so I’ve had one cup at night and that’s it. The other tea I got is a tiramisu/marscapone rooibus. There was a customer review next to it that said it tastes just like tiramisu. I don’t think it does but it is nice. I found I need two teaspoons of tea and a longer brew time than I’m comfortable with to get the best taste. If something says 3-5 minutes I think that more than 4 will kill it. It’s the opposite of when I color my hair and will leave the dye on a few minutes past the longest recommended time.

I’d like to try the white tea that’s just the buds of the plant. I also want to get the lapsang souchong. It’s smokey. Really smokey. Very cool. And I’ll probably want the pure puerh. And some double-walled cups. My tea has gone cold already.

Serene Teaz does a Tea 201 class once a year that goes beyond the basics. I think I’d like to take that, too. Tea is pretty fascinating. I was so interested I almost didn’t giggle when Dr. Andrew Weil was brought up. LSD was not discussed.

I had taken a picture of my row of sample cups but it’s all blurry 🙁 So no photos this time.

August Photo Challenge

I’ve never done a blog challenge or a photography challenge. Starting tomorrow, that will change. Oh So Lovely has come up with a 30 Day Photo Challenge for August and it looks like fun. Every day there’s something you’re supposed to take a picture of and then you upload it and share it with your marveling fans. It got me to finally try Instagram. Tomorrow I’ll be ready to take a self portrait and put it up on Facebook and Twitter. I haven’t decided what I’ll do about the blog–probably a weekly recap.

The Knook

You knit with needles and crochet with hooks. Right? Maybe. You can also “knit” with a hook in a few ways. Tunisian crochet has become popular because it allows crocheters to make stitches that look like knitting. There are long hooks that look more like needles and allow hookers to do some unholy kind of hooking that gives different results than the regular crochet stitches. I’ve been casually looking at all the other things people do with a crochet hook but not interested enough to try them. Mostly.

When I saw Super Mario blocks done in Tunisian and how smooth the color changes were, I knew I’d have to try it.

Tunisian Mario pillow

That’s gone into my “when I have time, nothing that needs to be finished now, or am bored with everything else” list. I thought I’d eventually learn Tunisian. But then I went to and found afghan hooks for a quarter. Afghan hooks look like long knitting needles but with a hook at the end. I got two and tried a bit of Tunisian and it hurt my hand the way knitting does. Enough of that.

Then I heard about The Knook. Knooking is another crochet/knitting crossbreed but this one actually produces knit stitches. Right now it’s only available at Wal-Mart. I went out the day I found out about it and picked it up. The instructions aren’t bad but I needed the videos to really figure it out. This stuff doesn’t come naturally since I’m used to crochet stitches.

I should talk about knitting here. I know how to knit. I learned my senior year of college when some friends who knit decided to gather knitters and wannabe knitters to make things to send to people in need. Someone taught me, we all went to Wal-Mart to get supplies, and I was fine as long as my knitter friend was there. When she wasn’t I was lost. The college library had knitting books for kids and between that and Martha Stewart’s website I could get through. I went to a retreat that weekend and spent every spare moment knitting. I had issues. Trying to remember where the needle goes and how to wrap the yarn was a challenge. I never made anything. After college I picked it up again and did slightly better but I was so tense that it made my back and shoulders really hurt. I don’t need help being tense so I dropped it.

When amigurumi started becoming popular in the US, I got sucked in. Amigurumi is typically (though less so now) crocheted. I figured I could handle a hook. And I can. The creative void in my life was filled and I’m a happy hooker now. Crocheting doesn’t hurt me, I’ve got the stitches figured out, and I’ve made things that make me happy. My one and only complaint is that there are millions of knitting patterns and only about five crochet patterns. I’m not exaggerating at all. I’ve looked into how to convert knit to crochet but I have problems visualizing things and I still can’t tell how many rows I’ve crocheted so this is something a bit beyond me right now.

I’m really excited about The Knook. I have a little swatch made and it looks unlike anything I’ve ever knit. It’s even. It’s not tight or really loose. I still need to figure out tension. Making it didn’t hurt me. I’ve started a swatch of stockinette and I think I’m doing knit and purl correctly. Theoretically you can knook any knit pattern. I’ve seen knooked cables. People have knooked socks. This could be awesome.

It’s not that I want to knit–I don’t. But I want those other patterns. We’re finally getting more crocheted sock patterns but there’s still so many other things that have no equivalent. And as I’m working on my shawl I’m wondering if it feels so thick because it’s crocheted. I love my hook and don’t want to give it up. But I’m okay with learning new ways of using it. Especially if it opens up the possibility of so many things to make.