Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Book Giveaway

Ooops this was supposed to be posted last night.  Not sure if I'll get back on the list for the hop or not, but I'll post this at least for my blog followers anyway. :)
ts Time for another Awesome Giveaway Hop.  I'm so glad that you stopped by!!!

For this giveaway I decided to giveaway one of the books that I am looking forward to buying in May, as well as two that I just purchased that are out this month.  This will be ordered from the Book Depository if you are international.  If you are in the US, I reserve the right to order the book from a store of my choice.

So what Book have I decided to giveaway?  How about one of these:

  To enter all you have to do is fill out this FORM!
Since this is a quick hop, I'll make it easy.  Just be a follower and tell me what book you want if you win.  You'll get 5 extra entries if you were a follower before March 1.  Good luck, and don't forget to check out all the other blogs!


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Favorite Manga #1: Sailor Moon

Usagi is a normal, ditzy high school girl, until she finds out she's the reincarnated Princess of the Moon, with the power to transform into the magical girl, Sailor Moon.  With the help of the other senshi (warriors) who are all named after the planets, and are the reincarnation of her soldiers on the moon, she fights to save Earth, and later the galaxy.  All while dealing with school and falling in love!

Usagi (Sailor Moon): In the beginning, Usagi is a ditzy, crybaby.  She's not the brightest girl.  But she's kind and understanding.  While she might not enjoy fighting at first, she loves her new friends, and eventually embraces her role. 

Ami (Sailor Mercury): A classmate of Usagi, she's a shy, extremely smart bookworm.  She's also the most level headed of the group, and wants to take care of people.  She's also the technophile of the group.


Rei (Sailor Mars): She's serious, and often gets annoyed by the fact that Usagi is such an air head.    She works as a shinto priestess which gives her special powers to dispel evil spirits even before she became a senshi.

Makoto (Sailor Jupiter):  The athletic member of the group, she's very tall and strong.  She lives by herself since her parents died years before, and enjoys domestic duties as well.

Minako (Sailor Venus):  She was the leader of the four guardians and dreams of becoming a pop idol, and actively pursues this dream.

***Sailor Moon has been out of print in the US for a few years, but starting in September of this year it's being re-released by a new company, which will hopefully mean better translations, and of course it won't be flipped.***
Sailor Moon was the first anime that I watched, the first manga I read, and even one of the first J-dramas I ever saw.  I'll admit the stories all meld a bit in my head, since its been a couple of years, and I sadly borrowed the manga instead of buying it, so I can't reread it, yet.  But one thing will always hold true.  I love this story and I love these characters.  Yes, the magical girl defending the Earth has been done before and since, but there's something about Sailor Moon that draws you in and makes you remember it.  There's a reason that you go to an anime convention today, 14 years after Sailor Moon ended in Japan, and still find Sailor Moon goods at most booths.  I am a serious fan, probably obsessive at one point, since half my walls were covered with Sailor Moon posters (I still have a few hanging up).  I highly recommend if you like manga, especially manga for girls, that you read this one. 


I started with the anime and I'll admit that the manga art was a bit jarring at first, since it is a slightly older series.  There are manga out now that are prettier than this one, but I still enjoy the art style here.  It really grows on you.  I'd give it a 4 out of 5.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Favorite Manga Recap 16-2

We are almost to number one, so I thought I'd quickly recap what got us here.
            Don't be fooled by the concept of Sumire keeping Takeshi as her pet.  For 
            her he's simply the  replacement for a dog, There is a enough romance and 
            comedy in this story to keep it interesting through all 14 volumes.
            Like many shonen manga (boy comics) Rave goes from one arc to the next, 
            each with its own major villain all leading up to one final boss.  Unlike many 
            series though, this one does not  seem to drag, and each arc does further 
             the main plot.
           Since the only goal at the beginning is to find Sakura's feathers, the story is 
           at first broken into mini-arcs that have little connectivity.  For this series, 
           this method works well as darker, heavier arcs are often followed by lighter, 
           funnier ones to keep you on your toes and prevent the story from being too 
            It's a great story of a high school life and love, following them through their 
            relationships, not just with each other but their friends as well.  You really 
           get to know and like the whole group and the ending (which takes place ~16 
           years later) gives you an insight into all of them.
            This falls into the category of a magical girl series (ie. it's about a girl who 
             transforms to fight evil) and like all good magical girl series, it still manages 
             to be unique and entertaining. Also, as with many of Arina Tanemura's 
             series, there is a full resolution to the story (something frequently lacking in 
            many Japanese stories).
           This is a cute story that touches on (but never dwells to long) in the darker 
           aspects of the family's drama.  You become invests in the characters and 
           hope that not only does the curse break, but they they are able to be happy.
          You would think that a manga where one of the main characters is a ghost 
          would be more supernatural, but this is one of the most realistic stories I've 
          ever read.  I knew nothing about Go before I started (and little more now) but  
          ate the story up.
          Its another quest story, as they are searching for the greatest innocence, but 
         the story is darker and often more series than a lot of other shonen manga.  
         There is sadness and drama as well as action.
           There are dark moments in the story as we are dealing with up and coming 
           stars who will sometimes stop at nothing to get what they want, but we also 
           have Kyoko's insecurities and vengeful nature that make from some great 
          comedy and heartwarming moments as well.
           This is such a great story, with a large cast of characters, so often you get 
           to know more of whats going on because you are not just stuck with the 
           main character the whole time, but even though you see what the villains are 
           doing, the deeper meaning is still a mystery.
           This is a complex story that, at times might be confusing, its also rather
           slow to start, taking the first three volumes to build up the basis for the
          whole rest of the story.  If you stick with it thought, you'll find a story with
          lots of depth, with a cast of characters you really get to know and care
          about, learning about their past as well as their present.
         Don't be fooled by the initial premise, while Hatsumi may agree to be Ryoki's 
         sex slave, there is no actual sex slaving going on. have a soft spot in my
         heart for characters like Ryoki, who aren't sure how to express positive
         emotions, and struggle to show the girl they love how they feel.
         So much of this series is the dramas of their relationship.  But all that drama 
        just makes you hope more and more that these two can make it work and
        figure out how to be together, because through all their differences they really
        love each other.
       The story in the manga is perhaps darker and sadder in a lot of ways than the 
      anime, and there is also more connection and character back stories.If you are 
       interested in Japanese pop idols, this story might be interesting to you.  If you 
      are like a cute romance, this one might also be for you.
       I absolutly adore this story.  Sakura is a very likeable character and Li-kun is 
      my favorite character in all of manga.  Clamp does a wonderful job of weaving a 
      story of adventure and growth and young love around Sakura and her 
      adventures to get the cards.

So, what will number 1 be?  Well I will let you know on Saturday.  but I'll give you two hints until then.  It's a shojo title and it was my very first.  If you know manga, that might just be a giveaway there.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Favorite Cover of the Week

It's been a couple of weeks since I did this, but I'm back at it.  Today my favorite cover of the week is Museum of Thieves by Lian Tanner.  I love the detail on this cover.  It makes the Museum look like such an interesting place to visit, so many things to see.  I haven't read the book yet, but the cover alone makes me want to see what is inside.

Favorite Manga #2: Cardcaptor Sakura

After ten year old Sakura accidentally unleashes a set of magical cards from their book, the Clow, it falls upon her to find them and seal them.  To help her, she has the guardian of the Clow, Cerberus (Kero) who usually takes the form of a stuffed bear, and her best friend, Tomoyo, films everything (while also providing Sakura with a costume for each adventure). Syaoran Li (Li-kun), a descendant of Clow Reed, the man who created the cards, shows up to fight her claim on them.  In the end, who will seal the cards and will simply sealing them be enough?

Sakura:  Sakura is a spunky girl.  She's a friendly, cheerful and well liked girl.  When she releases the cards, she doesn't back down at all from her responsibility to collect them.  She's an absolutely adorable, likeable character, and its great to watch her grow and learn as the story progresses.

Kero-chan (Cerberus): While he was put in charge of guarding the book of the Clow and selecting a new master for the cards, he fell asleep on the job, thus allowing Sakura to open it.  So he decides that she shall be the new master.  Kero is a bossy, demanding character who's a bit of an ego maniac.  He spends a lot of his time playing video games and eating sweets.  Still, he knows his stuff when it comes to magic and is a big help to Sakura.

Tomoyo: Tomoyo is Sakura's best friend and cousin.  Her mother owns a very popular toy company, so she has a lot of money that she willingly uses to help Sakura out (though mostly just by making her outfits).  She often talks very formally and acts more mature than her classmates.  She's a very kindhearted girl, who just wants to be Sakura's friend and help her find love.

Li-kun: Li can come across as harsh at first, and thinks that he and not Sakura should become the master of the Clow since he's descendant of Clow Reed.  Eventually he becomes friends with Sakura and cares deeply for him.  He can be awkward and uncertain of how to deal with and show his feelings. 

I originally watched the fansubs of all 70 episodes of this anime and loved it.  I then borrowed the manga from some friends and I found that it was equally as enjoyable as the anime.  There were differences (more cards in the anime and an extra character) but both were good.  I absolutly adore this story.  Sakura is a very likeable character and Li-kun is my favorite character in all of manga.  Clamp does a wonderful job of weaving a story of adventure and growth and young love around Sakura and her adventures to get the cards.  If you enjoy a magical girl story or think you might, then Cardcaptor Sakura is a must read. 

Cardcaptor Sakura is an older Clamp manga (when compared to ones like Tsubasa) and its a different style, but its equally beautiful.  An easy 5 out of 5.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sorry about more delays

It must seem like I'm making excuses, but seriously, this has not been my month.  Just about got through things with everyone else, and then I go and develop an upper respiratory infection that's had me out of commission for a few days.  Hopefully I'm on the way to recovery now, or at least can stop panicking about whats wrong since I had a doctor look at me.  At any rate I'm going to try and post 4 reviews this week, a recap of my manga top 15, and the winner of my last giveaway.  I may have to double up a couple of days, but it'll all happen.  Starting tomorrow.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Underrated Review: Violet Wings

Zaria is a young fairy who lives in the world of Tirfeyne, a world populated by fairies, genies, leprechauns and the like.  Contrary to popular believe, magic can not save these people from physical harm, and so those who inhabit Tirfeyne are forbidden from being seen by humans after the first gun was fired at one of their kind.  Its believed that Zaria's own parents and brother died on Earth because they broke this rule.  Unfortunately for Zaria, it may now be her turn to break that rule.  After she turns fourteen, the age when all fairies and genies find out their power level, she meets a fairy who's more powerful than any Zaria has ever heard of.  And that fairy wants Zaria's mother's spell book.  The only place that Zaria can think to hide it, is Earth.

First of all, sorry if my Synopsis sounds a little disjointed, I was trying to describe the world and Zaria's plight without giving anything away.  I personally didn't like the description on the book, because it sounds as though Zaria's mother and brother disappear together and that is not exactly what happens (it didn't even mention her father).

Zaria: At times Zaria doesn't make the brightest choices and can be more of a follower than a leader (in the beginning at least), but I sum most of this up to being a naive fourteen year old, in a world where being fourteen means you still have to life as a child in an area designed only for children and their parents.  Over all though, I liked her as a character.  She's got spunk, and she never backed down.  I was always rooting for her to succeed.

In this book, each chapter is headed with a snippet from a history book of the world of Tirfeyne.  At first I found it distracting because I couldn't always see a connection between that snippet and the chapter at hand.  By the end of the book though, the purpose of those snippets became abundantly clear, they gave you, the reader, a much better understanding of the world quickly and easily.  Yes, she could have written it in as part of the plot, but I think it would have started to get difficult for young readers this book was intended for.
I thought the world and how it worked was creative.  While much was explained in those snippets at the beginning of chapters, important things were discussed in the chapters as well.  Knowing how the world was divided (ie. who lived where), knowing how they determined a fairy or genies power and what it meant, and how a fairy godmother or genie godfather were all shown to the reader, and it made the world more real.
I found the plot interesting and engaging.  Zaria's journey to earth, her dealings with the evil fairy, and the realization that more may be going on in her world than they knew all kept me interested and wanting more.
Most importantly though, I kept wondering, how the story was going to end.  It seemed like a lot of major plots were introduced that couldn't be solved in one book, and for awhile I was afraid that was exactly what was going to happen.  I was very happy when I got to the end of the book and realized that it was the start of a series (at least I hope more books are on there way, because this was left very open ended).
Perhaps my biggest problem with this book is that the chapters were all so short.  In other books, most of these chapters would have been sections in larger chapters.  For some I saw the reason to shorten them and have them stand alone, but for others I thought they would have worked just as well combined with the chapters around them.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Childhood Favorites: Emily of New Moon

After her father dies of consumption leaving her an orphan, Emily is sent to live with her two aunts and her uncle at New Moon Farm on Prince Edwards Island.  While her aunt Elizabeth is stern and her classmates might be cruel, Emily deals using her wit.  Eventually she makes three wonderful friends, Teddy, the artist, Perry, the world traveler, and Ilse, the tomboy (Emily herself is a writer).  With there help she just might come to love New Moon.  As the series progresses, Emily and her friends deal with school and love and life.  Can they all follow there dreams and be happy, or will the troubles of life stand in their way?


Since my last review was of Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, I couldn't resist having today's be Emily of New Moon.  I love this story as much as the Anne series.  It's somewhat more realistic, and some of the things that happen to Emily are much darker and sadder than the things that happen to Anne.  Her ability to deal with what life throws at her is not extraordinary (she doesn't always overcome everything easily), but that makes for a good story.  If you enjoy the Anne series I highly recommend this one. If you've never read the Anne serie, I still think there's a good chance you'll enjoy this one.  And, if you didn't enjoy the Anne series, don't rule this one out, since it is more like real life it might be interesting to you.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Favorite Manga #3: Full Moon: O Sagashite

Mitsuki is a 12 year old girl who's only dream is to become a pop idol, so she can be seen by the one she loves, but she has a sarcoma which needs surgery that could damage her vocal cords.  When she sees two shinigami (death gods) who say she only has a year to live she's desperate for her dream to come true.  Since she wasn't supposed to know she was going to die the shinigami make an agreement with her.  They will let her transform into a healthy 16 year old version of her self to try and become a singer as long as she doesn't fight them when it comes her time to die.  Will on year be enough to become a singer and reach her lost love?

Mitsuki: Mitsuki is a sweet girl who has a pure heart.  She never hides why she wants to become a singer (she loves singing and wants to be seen by her lost love, Eichi).  She is very dedicated to succeeding and won't allow anyone, even her grandmother, to stand in her way, but she also won't fight dirty to get where she wants.  She's an all around likeable character.

 Takuto: A shinigami in training, it was his idea to allow Mitsuki the chance to become a singer, though he did not expect her to succeed.  At first he doesn't remember his life as a human, but as he does, he feels even more drawn to Mitsuki.  I find Takuto to be a completely adorable character.  He's a nice guy, though a little rough around the edges, and he had trouble dealing with his grown feelings for Mitsuki, especially knowing that he and his partner will be the ones to take her life.

Meroko: Meroko is Takuto's partner and training him how to be a shinigami.  She acts infatuated with Takuto and wants to keep him away from Mitsuki, but her true reasons are surprising.  At times she can be spoiled an unlikable, but eventually she and Mitsuki become friends, and she has a surprising connection to Mitsuki.
(Image is of Meroko and Mitsuki)

I originally watched the 52 episode anime and absolutely loved it.  I enjoyed the sound track as well as the story.  When I first tried to read the manga I got a poorly translated scanlation, and was confused, but I loved the anime so much that I gave it a second try.  I am so glad that I did, because I loved the story in the manga as much as the anime.  While the story in both is similar (Mitsuki is dying in a year, and wants to become a singer to reach Eichi, so she gets the shinigami to help her).  Much of the rest of the story is differento.  The story in the manga is perhaps darker and sadder in a lot of ways, and there is aslo more connection and character back stories.  I adore both versions of this story and think that if you like one version you should look at both.  If you are interested in Japanese pop idols, this story might be interesting to you.  If you are like a cute romance, this one might also be for you.

Ok, I said it back in my review of Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne, and I'll say it again, Arina Tanemura is my absolute favorite manga artist.  I enjoy her stories a lot, but its her artwork that really takes my breath away.  She has a lot of line work and its just amazing to me.  Full Moon is a great example of why I love her art so much.  Its just beautiful.  A strong 5 out of 5. (if you like her art style, you might also check out Gentlemen's Alliance Cross, which is also a good story, and beautiful artwork)

Back on schedule...sort of

This has been a tough couple of weeks for me...heck a tough couple of months.  Last week I thought things were heading back to normal and then more bad news came out of left field.  For now things are better though, and I'm back on schedule...sort of, since I'm going to offset everything by a day this week, and hopefully nothing will happen this time to put it on hold again. 

Next week will be the end of my manga countdown, so on Monday I'll do a recap of 14-2, and then Friday will be number 1.  The week after that I will reevaluate my blog schedule.  I may go down to a guaranteed 3 posts a week, so that I can focus more on reading. 

For those waiting for the announcement of who won my Amazon giveaway, I will be announcing it tomorrow.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Childhood Favorites: Anne of Green Gables

Anne is an imaginative, intelligent and daring, but what she is not is a boy, and it was a boy that Marilla and Mathew intended to adopt to help them around the farm.  Anne is what they got.  At first they didn't think they would keep the eleven year old girl, but soon they couldn't imagine life without her.  The first book follows Anne's childhood adventures in Avonlea, from accidentally dying her hair green to accidentally getting her best friend drunk.  As the series progresses you watch Anne grow and mature, go to college, get married, have children of her own, and the series finalizes with you watching her children grow up.


Anne of Green Gables is one of the first series I really remember reading.  I'm sure I read The Boxcar Children first, but when I think of my first I think of the Anne series.  I would have to say that I fully credit this series with my love of books and readings.  I loved it so much that I had to have every book by Lucy Maud Montgomery (sans all the short story collections).  I enjoyed Anne's attitude and loved the mistakes that she made and the adventures that she went on.  As she grew up, she didn't get boring, her adventures just changed and I enjoyed them just as much.  While this is historical fiction, and therefore might not be for everyone, I would still encourage everyone to give it a chance.