Tag: TheWatanabeName

Book Round-up: February 22, 2020

How long has it been?!

Holy moly, the last time either of us posted a book round-up was summer 2019? I have a bunch of ARCs to review! I’m not going to post every single one just because that’d be so many, but here are some of the highlights within the past half year.

Note: ARCs have been received in exchange for an honest review from their publishers through NetGalley, and a number of these ARCs will be reviewed in full at a later date.


Ghoster by Jason Arnopp
Published by Orbit Books
Published on 10/22/2019
My rating 2/5

My short (NetGalley) review:

OK… I read through the entire book, and will do my best to avoid spoilers.

I love me some thrillers and stories that keep me flipping the pages to figure out what’s going on. Eventually, I ended up flipping through the pages in frustration in an attempt to get through the rest of it and find out what the heck is going on. It ends up feeling like a cop-out ending, and I felt so irritated that I spent the day reading the entire thing.

The authors writing isn’t terrible, which frustrated me even more… the direction it went just made me go “huh?” I enjoyed Kate, though did find the characters annoying at times, but some of the other characters were just like … there.

Unfortunately this isn’t a story that I would personally recommend.


The Dark Continent by Scott Reardon
Published by Aspen Press
Published on 01/28/2020
My rating 2/5

My NetGalley Review:

OK, so there was a point when reading this book where I just went… what happened. The first half really had me going with a horror thriller kind of vibe, trying to figure out what the heck the researchers were doing and all of this backstory, but then the second half left me scratching my head.

The book itself: Like it was really going somewhere with all of the “who did what” and “what happened here” among all the other things going on. It gave me the creepy vibes that I look for when I read horror books. I liked that! I also felt like I didn’t have to go back to read the first book and was just able to jump cheerily in to reading this one, which I’m grateful for.

The second half of the book was downhill from there, though. I wasn’t a fan of the fact that it just threw everything out of the boat and went a different direction, nor was I really happy with the sudden incredibly patriotic theme that overtook the rest of the book. It was grating, and it didn’t feel like it added anything additional to the plot this way, feeling more like an interjection of some weird feelings just because the author could (e.g. the note about the French Canadians being “backwardly cheerful” and the tidbit on tolerance/diversity).

TLDR: Not sure if I can recommend reading this just for the first half alone.


Celiac Disease Cookbook for the Newly Diagnosed by Rebecca Toutant
Published by Callisto Media
Published on 02/18/2020
My rating 5/5

My NetGalley Review:

So, if you know/follow me at all (likely you don’t but that’s okay), you’ll know that I write quite a bit about celiac disease given that I was only diagnosed within the recent past. Back then the gluten free diet was becoming a hot, trendy thing, and celiac disease was only starting to get more media attention. I had no idea what the heck the disease was until I was diagnosed.

This would’ve been an extremely helpful book for someone new to celiac disease or who doesn’t understand what it is.

Rather than just being a cookbook, the author discusses exactly WHAT celiac disease is, and bonus points to the author for pointing out that ***we can’t just have people picking crumbs off our salad***. She talked about STIGMA, which is a HUGE issue, and talking about the emotional/psychological issues relating to being diagnosed.

So this isn’t just a cookbook, it’s really an introduction to being diagnosed and how to handle the weight of the disease, which is HUGE. I mean — no one talks about the fact that you can’t just eat out anymore and you have to shell out a LOT of money for new equipment when you’re diagnosed. It’s kind of like you just get told “stop eating gluten” and that’s it.

The ONLY issue I have is that she notes that oats are OK for celiac disease if labeled gluten-free, but it has been consistently found that gluten-free optical-sorted oats are not safe for celiac sufferers and purity-protocol oats are really the best option.


I’m constantly on the look-out for GOOD horror and thriller books, especially if they’re paranormal! If you have any you’d like to suggest, leave me your recommendation in the comments. I’ve been really disappointed with the reads that I’ve come across lately.

Book Round-up: July 27, 2019

This is just a quick book round-up of the books I’ve completed reading (and haven’t done a full review on yet) and ones that are in progress. I have a lot of outstanding books still in my TBR that I’m slowly getting through… and for some reason I keep getting more to add to my list. 🙂 That added up with a busy work schedule makes for slow reading.

Note: ARCs have been received in exchange for an honest review from their publishers through NetGalley, and a number of these ARCs will be reviewed in full at a later date.


Releases August 13, 2019

Diagnosis by Dr. Lisa Sanders
Published by Crown Publishing
My rating 5/5

My short (NetGalley) review:

If you liked House or like to follow any type of medical mysteries, this book is for you. This book is chock full of a variety of short experiences about patients with weird problems being diagnosed with a variety of illnesses that aren’t always what they seem. Not every story is a happy one, but in real life it is unfortunately what happens.

I found myself flipping through a lot of the stories in one sitting. They’re interesting enough to just keep going, and each experience is so unique you just want to see what the next person’s experience was. It is written in such a way that a person doesn’t need a lot of medical knowledge, just some basic understanding of the human body and disease, to get what’s going on.

This is definitely a unique read, and as someone who dealt with being misdiagnosed for almost a decade, I felt somewhat vindicated by the commentary and stories in the book. Would definitely suggest reading this.


Released June 5, 2012

Redshirts by John Scalzi
Published by Tor Books
My rating: 4/5

My short review:

For some reason I found this in the horror section at a Half Price Books, and this is totally not a horror story (but still good nonetheless). If you know anything about Star Trek, you’ll likely know about the idea behind red shirts, or also known as dispensable extras on the television series.

So with that in mind, this book was a fun read that had some unexpectedly emotional feels along with some interesting concepts and theories around the whole red shirt concept. I found it to be fun! This was also my first Scalzi read and got a kick out of him just writing that a character died, straight up, no frills.

Some of the bits of his writing are a little hard to get through, like some of the long character conversations going back and forth between multiple characters, but I found it to be an enjoyable read that complaint aside.


Released July 18, 2019

The Watanabe Name by Sakura Nobeyama
Published by Black Rose Writing
My rating: 4/5

I just reviewed this the other week! Go take a look at my full review to see all of my thoughts. Suffice to say, I thought it was a good read.


Releases September 3, 2019

Fentanyl, Inc. by Ben Westhoff
Published by Grove Atlantic
My rating: 5/5

You like drugs? Public health? Policy? Politics? Interested in the current opioid epidemic? This is a good fit to itch those likes.

I was expecting a book more focused on personal stories of drug users and fentanyl, but what I got instead was an interesting telling of the drug situation not only in the United States but around the world as well. The history around designer drugs is told in length.

The international politics, especially between the US and China, is discussed and made me think about whether there were some historical reasons around China’s current lax attitude about the drug labs.

I found this to be very educational, especially as I start taking classes on population health and societal health issues. Would recommend. It’s not a dry read like some other drug books I’ve picked up recently.


Be ready for more books soon, and maybe an update to by webcomic for the first time in half a year! 🙂 Anyone reading anything they’d like to suggest I add to my big pile of TBRs?

New Release: The Watanabe Name by Sakura Nobeyama

Title: The Watanabe Name
Author: Sakura Nobeyama
Release Date: July 18, 2019
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
My Rating: 4/5
Trigger Warning: violence, sexual assault
Find it on: Amazon Barnes & NobleGoodreads


My NetGalley review:

I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review through NetGalley.

This is a book that starts extremely sluggishly but picks up and goes full-throttle until the end, keeping you reading for more to figure out what happens next. I was really slogging through the first bit and was super close to DNF’ing it until a major event finally occurred. The rest of the novel makes up for the slow start.

The Watanabe Name is a thriller/historical fiction about a traditional Japanese family that has some notoriety due to the war. When the patriarch is found dead, the story really unfolds into a thrilling telling around the family itself and who might have wanted him gone.

Those who are familiar with the atrocities around the Japanese occupation will understand references in the book, especially to some heinous, problematic aspects of the occupation.


What I liked:

  • If you’re familiar with the Asian family hierarchy, you’ll find that the author does a very good job of illustrating the frustration of respect and the politics around handling traditional relatives. You can really feel yourself getting frustrated on behalf of the different family members (ok, maybe not everyone) for the way that the patriarch handles everything with an iron fist… just like in real life!
  • If you’re not familiar with Asian culture, the beginning of the book (albeit a bit slow paced) will be a good introduction and guide you right in to the mentality around decisions made throughout the story, which is incredibly important.
  • This book dives into Japanese/Chinese history around the time of the wars earlier in the 20th century. I felt that she did a good job of portraying the situation, including tidbits about some notorious parts of the occupation that were extremely problematic, and tied it into the mystery of who killed the general. I told Mr. Renzol that it was appreciated that she didn’t glaze over or trivialize the treatment of people during the occupation.
  • She also did a great job of humanizing all of the characters: most of the characters had reasons for acting the way they did, like being selfish or playing political games to get the desired outcome they’re looking for. I found myself sympathizing with different characters, especially as the mystery unfolded and the killer(s) became obvious.

What I disliked:

  • Trigger warning: this is a book that includes portrayal of the occupation by Japan and includes violence, sexual assault, and related topics.
  • The first part of the book was extremely slow to me, but it may be because I’m already familiar with the family hierarchy and Asian culture in general, so it was a lot of rehashing of previous knowledge. I felt that some of it could have been shortened, but for Western readers without that background it might be important.
  • The time-shifting between the past, near-past, and present was a bit confusing to me. There was a point where I was reading a chapter on the present but first thought it was the near-past and had to double-check what time period the chapter was set in. I would actually like if the author had grouped them together by time periods AND the date to make it easier to follow along.

Who should read this?

If you enjoy an Asian-style thriller mystery with adult content, take a peek at this book! I had a slight inkling of who the killer(s) might have been, but the story was interesting enough to keep me reading until it was confirmed.