Search This Blog

Monday, May 28, 2012

It's Just Another Manga Monday: Rin-Ne by Rumiko Takahashi

Well, today is not your average Monday in that it is a holiday and I don't have to work. And so because I am feeling carefree and not at all stressed out, I wanted to talk about one of my favorite Manga-kas, Rumiko Takahashi. If The Hobbit started my obsession with fantasy books, Star Wars - A New Hope with fantasy / sci fi movies (Definitely Han over Luke, at least after the first viewing), Gundam Wing with anime ("Mission accepted!"), Rumiko Takahashi has done as much for me with manga. I was in a comic book store, where my now husband was working. I used to frequent the store buying comics for my little brothers and occasionally something for me. I'm not certain who put Ranma 1/2 in my hand or if I picked it up on my own, but I could not put it down and it definitely changed my life. I mean, come on, a boy who is on a training expedition to China with his father, one they had to swim across the ocean to embark on, brings them to the cursed pools of Jusenkyo where in every pool there is a tragic tale of how some person or creature drowned in the pool x number of years ago. While training on top of bamboo over the pools, Ranma Saotome falls into the pool of the drowned girl and becomes cursed. How, you say? Every time he is hit with cold water, he turns into a girl. As if that were bad enough, his father falls into the pool of the drowned panda and you can take it from there. In order to be restored to their normal selves, they must be doused with scalding hot water.  It is martial arts mayhem to be sure. The cast of characters is one odd assortment of people. First you find Ranma's dad has promised to marry him off to his lifelong friend's daughter Akane Tendo. Because of the betrothal, they move in with the Tendo family. Ranma and his dad cannot move back home because Ranma's mother comes from a martial arts family and if she thought her son were not manly, she'd kill him. So they are on the lam to keep Ranma's curse from being discovered by his mother. The Tendo family has a dojo which Ranma will one day inherit by marrying Akane. Although there are three Tendo daughters, Akane is the same age as Ranma, so she is the poor, unfortunate, I mean, lucky, lucky girl. They two of the don't really get along. He keeps calling her un-cute because she works out and she thinks he's a jerk. Enter Tatewaki Kuno, self-proclaimed Blue Thunder of Furinkan High. He has a crush on Akane, but Ranma keeps getting in the way. Now enter Kodachi Kuno, self-proclaimed Black Rose of St. Hebereke Girls' Academy and also younger sister to Tatewaki Kuno. As the series progresses, we find the list of oddball characters getting longer. There's Sampoo, the Chinese girl who followed Ranma and fell into the pool of the drowned cat, Mousse who is in love with Shampoo and followed her and fell into the pool of the drowned duck, Ryoga who has a grudge against Ranma and followed him falling into the pool of the drowned pig, Ukyo who is also another of Ranma's fiancees (his dad promised Ranma for some food and then ran away with him), Principal Kuno who thinks he is in the Hawaiian Islands and is also Tatewaki and Kodachi Kuno's father, Cologne who is Shamppo's grandmother, Happosai who is the master of Anything Goes style of martial arts which both the Tendos and Saotomes are practitioners. The list goes on. Ranma is promised to Akane, but Shampoo, Ukyo and Kodachi are in love with him. Tatewaki Kuno and Ryoga are in love with Akane. Mousse is in love with Shampoo. But who ends up with whom? All the while, Ranma is in search of a way to break the curse and become 100% male. Warning: mild nudity.

Her newest endeavor is a series called Rin-Ne and it is every bit as wacky as Ranma 1/2.

Series Description:
Reads R to L (Japanese Style) for audiences T+.
Ever since a strange encounter when she was a child, Sakura Mamiya has had the power to see ghosts. Now in high school, she just wishes the ghosts would leave her alone! When her mysterious classmate Rinne Rokudo shows up, Sakura finds herself following him into the amazing world between life and death!

Publication Date: March 6, 2012 | Series: Rin-Ne (Book 8)
Rinne finds himself acting as a mentor for the shinigami Shoma, an elementary school student from the afterlife. Although Shoma is supposed to be learning how to help spirits pass on, he only wants to go after the biggest evil spirits he can find—despite the fact that he’s never done it before! The devil Masato offers Shoma an easy road to success, but can Rinne show the young shinigami the right path?

My Review:
Rinne Rokudo is a shinigami, a death god. Well, he is sort of. His grandmother is a shinigami, but his grandfather was human. He enters the same high school as Sakura Mamiya who sees him when she realizes no one else can. He is acting weirdly and she follows him to find out why. As it turns out, he is wearing a coat called the Haori of the Underworld and he is a part-time shinigami who helps spirits cross over into the next life. He is shocked to find out that Sakura can see him and other spirits since she had a close encounter with the Wheel of Reincarnation when she was a little girl. She was actually saved by Rinne's grandmother. Rinne is penniless and quite the cheapskate, but we do come to find out through the course of the series that his father is the reason for his financial situation. His father is Sabato, who is the president of the Damashigami Corporation. They also help spirits pass into the next life, but there methods are less than scrupulous and they take spirits before it is really their time to keep their quota up. Sabato is also a bit of a con artist. Well, that is a understatement really, but he keeps taking out loans and getting credit and when he signs his I.O.U.s, he signs Rinne's name as the co-guarantor, well, forges really, so every time Rinne gets any money, he has to spend it on his father's debts. His father continues to scam people and just keeps racking up Rinne's debt as well. Rinne is going to school and lives in an old clubhouse at school. He wears a track suit that was given to him by one of the teachers. Works odd jobs, like creating paper roses, just to earn a living. He started a rumor at school that if a person is plagued by troubles or spirits, they can leave an offering in an old weather hutch and their prayers will be answered, they will receive the assistance they need. Of course, Rinne needs to keep it all on the down low, so none of his classmates except for Sakura know of his part-time shinigami status. They also don't know that when they leave offerings in the weather hutch that they are actually leaving it for Rinne. He helps them, though, but wearing the Haori of the Underworld so as to remain anonymous. Sakura, who Rinne calls by her full name 'Sakura Mamiya', for whatever reason decides to assist Rinne in his duties as shinigami. She can, after all, see spirits and is very useful in helping him solve some of his cases. He is also developing a crush on Sakura, but feels he is unworthy of her. It doesn't stop him from getting jealous.
Enter Tsubasa Jumongi, an exorcist that once tried to send Rinne off to the afterlife while he was wearing his Haori of the Underworld by enveloping him in a cloud of sacred ashes. They become rivals as Jumongi develops feelings for Sakura himself. Sakura seems to be oblivious to this, but seems to be very interested in Rinne's well being. Enter Ageha. She is also a shinigami filling in for her sister because she fell in love with Sabato, abandoned her position as shinigami and left to go work for Sabato at the Damashigami Corporation. Ageha has sworn to bring down Sabato and thte Damashigami Corporation. While Sakura does not seem to be very open about how she feels about Rinne, she does seem to get a little green when Ageha throws herself all over Rinne.
In this volume, Rinne is hosting a young shinigami from the Shinigami Elementary School for a home study program. The young shinigami's must send off spirits to the after life. They usually have them send off the spirits of dear departed pets. Every type of spirit is worth a certain number of points. Rinne gets a child named Shoma who is an obnoxious little brat. He doesn't want to take the time to learn. He wants the flash, the big points, he wants to go after an evil spirit so he can get his 50 points and leave. He is not happy about the fact that Rinne is broke and he has to eat porridge for his meals. He is an arrogant little beastie who causes nothing bought trouble which Rinne then needs to get him out of. Rinne tries to teach him the finer points of being a shinigami, but Shoma is a little know-it-all and doesn't believe someone as poor and pathetic as Rinne has anything he could possibly teach. When Rinne saves him time and again, is he grateful? No, he is not.
On top of dealing with Shoma, Rinne also has to solve cases involving a haunted kitchen counter in the school's cooking classroom and a scarf that strangles anyone receiving a scarf as a gift from another student. Does he save the day?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Coming up empty handed

So, my niece has been visiting this weekend. She's 8. She'll be 9 this summer. I had the idea of going to the local book store and maybe picking up a book for me and a book for her. As it turned out, I really couldn't look at books for myself having her with me. And instead of me picking a book for myself, we got 6 books for her. Some to take home with her and some to leave at my house. While I really would have loved a new book of my own, I can't really complain about spending money on her for books. Any expense in the endeavor of reading is a worthy expenditure. She was a girl with a mission, though, I am telling you. She set off in search of James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. Luckily, they did have it, but it was difficult to find.  She also picked out a Junie B Jones book by Barbara Park, Book 1 of The Warriors series by Erin Hunter (It has cats as the characters), Book 1 of the Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls series by Meg Cabot(my choice), Book 1 in a new series called The Familiars by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobsen (spotted by Uncle Cam) and The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi (Uncle Cam's choice). I am trying to get her away from Chapter books and into a little more challenging books for her age bracket.  If anyone has any suggestions for good reading material, bring it on.  In the mean time, be true to the word my friends.

My niece's haul:

Monday, May 21, 2012

It's Just Another Manga Monday: Kamisama Kiss by Julietta Suzuki

So, I have been trying to catch up on my manga reading. It's been slow going as I have not had a lot of free time lately, but I did catch up on Kamisama Kiss by Julietta Suzuki.

Series Description:
Reads R to L (Japanese Style), for audiences T.
Nanami Momozono is alone and homeless after her dad skips town to evade his gambling debts and the debt collectors kick her out of her apartment. So when a man she's just saved from a dog offers her his home, she jumps at the opportunity. But it turns out that his place is a shrine, and Nanami has unwittingly taken over his job as a local deity!

Publication Date: April 3, 2012 | Series: Kamisama Kiss (Book 8)
Things at the kami convention in Izumo aren’t going so well. Nanami tried to earn some respect by guarding death’s door while the keeper went off to party. But now she’s stuck in the land of the dead, and the residents seem to have a taste for new kami!

My Review:
This series is a bit on the strange side, but it is entertaining. My first thought is if you are homeless and a strange man you've just given assistance too asked you back to his home, the answer would be a resounding no. Nanami is a little on the naive side, though, and with no where else to go, follows him. She's been duped, however. Once she reaches the shrine, he abandons her and she is left with all his responsibilities as the local deity,or kami, of the shrine. She has also inherited his shinshi, Tomoe, who was once a wild fox demon, but now he is the protector of the kami and guardian of the shrine.

Nanami is less than brilliant as the new kami of Mikage shrine. She has no abilities to speak of, but she is enthusiastic and compassionate to anyone in need. Her efforts are ineffectual at first, but through perseverance, she actually starts to get the hang of things. Along the way, she helps humans and other spiritual beings and has quite a collection of beings she can count as friends, other kami and demons alike. She has matures enough that she is invited to attend the Kamu Hakari, a convention of kami from all over Japan, but only if she can pass a test and beat the other contender for the last spot available at this years convention.

Tomoe is a bit of a stick in the mud. His previous kami abandoned the shrine 20 years ago and has been waiting for his former master to return home. Since humans live such a short time compared to other worldly beings, he is convinced they are flighty, inconstant and not worth his time. He is a typical nay-sayer. Nanami is trying to make a difference. She wants to bring more worshippers to the shrine. She wants to be the best kami she can be. Tomoe seems to shoot down all the ideas she has. She ignores him anyway and things always seem to work out. Matters are complicated further when Nanami she confesses her feelings to Tomoe, but he tells her he will never fall in love, especially with a human. Tomoe doesn't want her to go to the Kamu Hakari because he is afraid the other kami will make fun of her and give her a hard time. Not everyone wants her to attend.

In this volume, Nanami is at the convention. She has left Tomoe behind at the shrine and has taken instead another Shinshi of hers, Mizuki, the white snake. She is given the cold shoulder when she arrives from the majority of kami in attendance. They see her as unworthy and incapable of successfully carrying out the duties of a kami. They see her as useless. She is given a task, though, to close a rift in the barrier between the land of the living and the land of the dead where impurities are leaking out into the human world. When she arrives, a human is there with a band of yokai, or demons, who are trying to enter the land of the dead. The human, named Kirihito, is abducted by one of the yokai and taken into the lad of the dead where the yokai disintegrates. Nanami, in an effort to save Kirihito, goes in after him to bring him back to the land of the living. Nanami as a kami can get herself back to the human world, but she means to bring Kirihito back. She finds though, that Kirihito is not allowed to return to the world of the living as he is harboring a secret of his own. Can Nanami save him? Will she discover his secret? Will they return to the land of the living? Will Tomoe ever return her feelings? We'll just need to keep on reading.
Vol 9 is due out in June.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Book Review: Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott

How many times as young adults have we been embarrassed by the actions of our parents? I know I used to be embarrassed whenever I would bring a boy home because my mom would always pull out her old Rolling Stones albums to play. For the most part, though, my mom was really cool and I love her for that, but what if she wasn't? That is the situation Kate Brown finds herself in in Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott.

Book Description:
Publication Date: March 25, 2008
Kate Brown's life has gone downhill fast. Her father has quit his job to sell vitamins at the mall, and Kate is forced to work with him. Her best friend has become popular, and now she acts like Kate's invisible.
And then there's Will. Gorgeous, unattainable Will, whom Kate acts like she can't stand even though she can't stop thinking about him. When Will starts acting interested, Kate hates herself for wanting him when she's sure she's just his latest conquest.

Kate figures that the only way things will ever stop hurting so much is if she keeps to herself and stops caring about anyone or anything. What she doesn't realize is that while life may not always be perfect, good things can happen -- but only if she lets them....

My Review:
Let me start off by saying that I really did enjoy this book.  I couldn't put it down, couldn't wait to find out what happens next. While I had problems with Kate for most of the book, I really did care about her in the end.
Kate is a character I wanted to slap upside the head for most of the book and tell her to stop brooding, that she is her own problem. Yeah, she has a tough time of it. Her father quit his job so that he could sell Infomercial vitamins, which is bad enough, but he cashed in his retirement fund to get the business started. Business is not good and he is trying to do everything he can to boost business, which includes patrolling the mall in a giant bee costume. He goes into other stores in the mall to try to generate business which only results in him getting kicked out and banned from some of the other stores. He decides to have a party at their house and invite everyone he knows so he can try to sell them vitamins. Of course, some of these people are parents of students Kate goes to school with. She is forced to work in the kiosk with her dad and older brother who is out of college and basically sponging off their parents. He won't get a real job or contribute to the family any way other than assisting at the kiosk. Her mom just keeps trying to stay positive and supports her husband, but I am having a hard time understanding why she would. She is forced to get a second job just to make ends meet. When that isn't enough, she invites her mother to come stay with them in the hopes that her mother will lend them money until the vitamin business takes off and they can get back on their feet. Kate's grandmother is insulting, belittling, and far too concerned with her appearance. Her primary hobby is shopping. She also can't stand her son-in law. To top all that off, Kate has lost her best friend Anna. Anna was on the plump side, but went to visit her aunt over the summer and came home a much thinner girl. When she got back to school in the fall, she was suddenly popular and started dating one of the most popular boys in school. She stopped taking to Kate and ignores her whenever their paths cross. Then there is Will Miller.
Will is also one of the popular boys in school, but he has a reputation for being a player. For some reason, he seems to take delight in tormenting Kate. She holds a grudge against Will because he borrowed a pend from her Freshman year he never returned. He also insulted her after she had confessed that she thought he was cute by responding that she was not his type.
So, Kate has a lot going on, has a lot of anger issues, is depressed a lot of the time and can't stop lamenting the loss of her best friend she would give anything to be friends with again. I have to wonder why she would want to have her friend back when she dumped her for the popular crowd. Yeah, I wanted to smack her. She seems to think every one has a motive, won't let herself get close to anyone, is always on the defensive, always thinks the worst of people and doesn't believe anything anybody says.
She can't stand Will, but she also can't pretend she isn't attracted to him. So when she goes out the the dumpster one night at closing, she encounters Will, who is working at the sporting goods store, and after trading insults, they end up kissing. (Which always happened to me when I went to the dumpster when I worked in the mall.) It then becomes a routine for them. She wants to escape her father so she meets Will every chance she gets for a make-out session. She, of course, thinks the worst of him, thinks he's just playing around, that he doesn't care about her.
Then, after Kate helps her out when she dropped something, Anna seems to want to start up a friendship again with Kate. The problem is, Anna doesn't talk to her in school. She just ignores Kate. She will only talk to her or spend time with her when no one else is around. When Will tries to tell her she is being used by Anna, Kate always comes to Anna's defense. Seriously, she's like a walking door mat. And Will? She doesn't seem to treat him very well. She doesn't trust him and doesn't believe her could really like her. The have a fight at a party and then end up hooking up where they are discovered so now, of course, the entire student body is talking about it. So when he finally asks her out in the hallway at school she figures he is just asking her out to make himself look good and says no. She further tells him she doesn't want anything to do with her any more and dumps him before he can dump her.
As bad as her life seems, it's about to get a lot worse.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Book Review: Saving Juliet by Suzanne Selfors

Ever lose yourself in a good book? Well, Mimi Wallingford does, literally. Yes, Saving Juliet By Suzanne Selfors is another lost in the literary world story. Suspend your disbelief, my friends, and step onto the Cobblestones of Verona and into the pages of William Shakespeare's excellent and lamentable tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.

Book Description:
Publication Date: January 22, 2008
Mimi Wallingford, Great Granddaughter of Adelaide Wallingford, has the life that most girls dream about, playing Juliet opposite teen heartthrob Troy Summer on Broadway in Shakespeare’s famous play. Unfortunately, she has no desire to be an actress, a fact her mother can’t seem to grasp. But when she and Troy are magically thrust into Shakespeare’s Verona, they experience the feud between the Capulets and Montagues first hand. Mimi realizes that she and Juliet have more in common than Shakespeare’s script—they are both fighting for futures of their own choosing. Mimi feels compelled to help her and with Troy’s unexpected help, hopes to give Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy a happily-ever-after-ending.

My Review:
While this is a literary vehicle I see frequently, Suzanne Selfors has not disappointed. Mimi Wallingford is a legacy in the theater world. She has been home-schooled because she is a stage actress and star of all the productions in the Wallingford theater, her family legacy. She is expected to go to the Theater Institute for drama in college and then one day take over the theater from her mother. The problem is, she doesn't want to be an actress. And the theater isn't doing well.
Enter stage right, leading man and Romeo, Troy Summer, a teen idol and heartthrob. He is drop-dead gorgeous, arrogant and is egocentric. He has a different girl on his arm every week. While Mimi can't help the attraction she feels for him, she gives him the cold shoulder and ignores him except when they are on stage together. She is Juliet to his Romeo.
Mimi's mother is domineering, feels she knows what is best for Mimi and makes decisions for Mimi whether or not Mimi consents. She is also quick to lay the guilt trip on. Mimi also finds out her mother is embezzling funds from her trust fund.
Mimi is feeling trapped. She was expecting to go to California to visit her aunt who is in the medical profession, but her mother cancels the trip because Mimi is needed to make a DVD of the stage production of Romeo and Juliet. She heads home to find a package from her aunt that contains a necklace with a charm reputed to hold the ashes of William Shakespeare's quill. When she shows up for the final performance, her mother demands she remove the necklace as it is not period. In an act of defiance, probably her only act of defiance, she refuses. An argument ensues and she wishes she were anywhere but here. The vial breaks, she steps out the back stage door in winter onto the sunny cobbles of Verona where she is recognized as a Capulet by the colors of her garment.
Mimi steps into Romeo and Juliet's Verona. She wanders aimlessly under the misconception that she is dreaming, but the physical reality teaches her otherwise. It is the night of the big Capulet party where Juliet meets Romeo. Mimi is espied by a Capulet guard and taken forcefully to Capulet house where guests have been streaming in all weak. After an interview with Lady Capulet, she is told she will share a room with Juliet as there are no more empty rooms. What she realizes is that she is, in fact, in the story of Romeo and Juliet, but it is not Will Shakespeare's version. Events are not fixed and by Mimi entering the story, she has altered it. As an example, the characters do not speak Elizabethan English. They speak more common English. Because Mimi accompanies Juliet to the party, Juliet does not meet Romeo that night and the whole story becomes skewed. Matters are complicated when she is thrown out of Capulet House and banished from the city, but even more problematic is that Troy followed her and was wounded by Tybalt. He is infirmed at Friar Lawrence's and when he awakens, starts threatening law suits and is unconvinced when Mimi tries to explain their situation.
What Mimi comes to realize is that she is writing the story. She is changing the story by every action she takes. She has promised to help Juliet and wants Juliet's story to have a happy ending, but realizes if she can't get the story back on track there will be no hope for her or Troy to get back home.

Monday, May 14, 2012

It's Just Another Manga Monday: The Earl & The Fairy by Ayuko

Got the Monday blues? Need a remedy? Why not call a doctor? A Fairy Doctor.

Book Description:
Publication Date: March 6, 2012 | Series: Earl and the Fairy (Book 1)
Reads R to L (Japanese Style), for audiences T.
Lydia Carlton is a fairy doctor,one of the few people with the ability to see the magical creatures who share our world. During one of her rare trips to London to visit her father, Lydia’s quiet life is suddenly transformed when she is rescued from kidnappers by a mysterious young man!

Edgar Ashenbert claims to be descended from the human ruler of the fairy kingdom, and he urgently needs Lydia’s help to find and claim his birthright, the legendary sword of the Blue Knight Earl. Things will never be the same for Lydia as she is pulled into a dangerous quest against dark forces!

My Review:
This is a brand new shojo series published by Viz. Since it is the first volume, I will be interested to see how the story unfolds. There is a lot going on; fairies, magic, kidnapping, murder, a quest for an ancient sword. And at the heart of it all is Lydia Carlton, Fairy Doctor. I could not quite get a grasp on just exactly what a Fairy doctor would do or what the qualifications were for said profession, but near as I can tell, Lydia is kind of like an expert on all things fairy. She can see them as well. So while she is often found talking to magical creatures, her neighbors think she is talking to herself and so is to be avoided.
She is abducted by some thugs who want her to use her skills for some purpose. While in captivity, she encounters another captive named Edgar. He has been beaten up by the thugs and is planning an escape. He manipulates Lydia to leave with him. His motives are still unclear, but I presume we will find out more about him. He claims to be the descendant of the legendary Blue Knight who was a lord of the Fairy realm. In order to prove his claim, he is searching for the sword of the Blue Knight and he needs Lydia's help to find it. While he manipulated her to escape with him, once freed, she realizes she is now his captive. She agrees to assist him, but the question plaguing me is this. Is Edgar really who he says he is?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Literary Dilemma

What do you do when you have received a new book, but it is the last in the series? Do you rip into it and keep reading until you come to the end? Or do you wait because you know if you finish the book there will be no more where that came from? So, I have a dilemma. I just received Destined By Aprilynne Pike. It is the fourth book in her faerie series and until I received it in the mail,, did not know it was going to be the final volume. I have been so looking forward to this book since I finished the third book, but now I don't know whether I should read it immediately or not. If I read it, I won't have any more. If I don't read it yet, I will remain in the dark about the series resolution until I do read it. I have the same problem with gift cards. If I spend it, I won't have it. Same idea. I had the same issue with the Sandman comic book series by Neil Gaiman. I believe to this day I still have not read the final issue. I invest time and get to know and love the characters and I don't want to say goodbye. So, I ask, gentle readers, what should I do? Read now? Or bide a while until I am ready to say goodbye?

Book Description:
Publication Date: May 1, 2012 | Series: Wings
Tamani looked at her gravely, and reached up to tuck her hair behind her ear.

He hesitated for an instant, then his hands found the sides of her face, pulling her to him. He didn't kiss her, just held her face close to his, their foreheads resting together, their noses almost touching.

She hated how much it felt like good-bye.

Laurel now knows the truth: Yuki is a rare Winter faerie, the most powerful—and deadly—of all, and Klea plans to use her to help conquer and destroy Avalon. But Klea's reach extends far beyond one wild Winter faerie. With Tamani, David, and Chelsea by her side, Laurel prepares to face what may be Avalon's final days, in the stunning conclusion to the Wings series.

Monday, May 7, 2012

It's Just Another Manga Monday - A Devil and Her Love Song by Miyoshi Tomori

If I've learned anything from manga it is that high school is a very dangerous place. Bullies abound and anyone who is new or different or pretty or handsome or ugly, well, the list seems to go on and on. Bullying seems to run rampant in the Japanese school system. I was bullied once. I was threatened on a late bus that takes kids home from school after after-school activities. I was given a stern talking to. That's like having a chat with your best friend based on manga. It can get pretty violent. Locking a girl in a storage shed and setting it on fire, putting pins in shoes, stealing shoes, shredding clothing, throwing personal belongings in the koi pond, ostracizing where no one is allowed to talk to the person being bullied, desks moved out into the hallway, threatening physical harm with knives, as in chopping off fingers and such. The students do seem quite innovative in their torture which makes me have to ask...Are the students that mean spirited? Does bullying like this really exist? In fiction there is always an element of truth, so I wonder. My step-father is strangely silent on this subject as well. I must say that the female students seem worse than the male students. They seem quite territorial over the resident hottie and can't stand any new girl or plain Jane getting close to him. Listen sweetie. If he hasn't asked you out yet, he probably isn't going to. That's all I'm saying. In A Devil and Her Love Song by Miyoshi Tomori,, there is a lot of bullying going on, but perhaps some of it is deserved.

Series Description:
Reads R to L (Japanese Style), for audiences T.
Meet Maria Kawai—she’s gorgeous and whip-smart, a girl who seems to have it all. But when she unleashes her sharp tongue, it’s no wonder some consider her to be the very devil! Maria’s difficult ways even get her kicked out of an elite school, but this particular fall may actually turn out to be her saving grace...

Publication Date: April 3, 2012 | Series: A Devil and Her Love Song (Book 2)
Maria’s bold attitude may be exactly what she needs when she inspires an unlikely ally to come to her defense. And when she’s given the task to lead her class in a choral competition, she’s going to need all the gumption she can muster!

My Review:
Maria is what I would call a witch, well, something that rhymes with witch. She has a real attitude problem and doesn't seem to play well with others. Her prickly demeanor, though, is just armor she girds herself with to protect herself. She really does want to make friends, but people disappoint her. She meets Yusuke Kanda and Shin Meguro, who are fellow classmates and good looking to boot. They hear her singing a song, Amazing Grace of all songs. From that moment on they find themselves helping her out of all the tight spots she gets into. Although she sings like an angel, she still seems to have the heart of a devil and the bite of a viper.
Now, the girls in class don't really like the fact that Maria has been getting friendly with Yusuke and Shin. They spread all kinds of rumors about how loose she is and why she was thrown out of her other school. They shred her old school uniform, soak her shoes, invite her to a welcome party that they purchase tons of food and drinks for try to trick her into footing the bill, one of the girls accuses Maria of bullying her and pushing her down the stairs when she actually pushed Maria and lots more fun and games. Maria just takes whatever they throw at her. She basically believes people believe what they want to believe and even if you try to tell the truth, if it isn't what they want to hear, they won't listen anyway. So, why bother.
In volume 2, Maria is volunteered by the teacher to lead a choral contest. She has to pick the music and get everyone to rehearse, but they won't cooperate, ditch practices and basically refuse to take part. Yusuke also confesses his feelings to her in front of the entire class. Will she accept his feelings and return them? Will she be able to rally the class in time for the choral competition? And what about Shin? We'll just have to wait for Vol 3 to find out.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Book Review: Courtney Crumrin Vol 1 by Ted Naifeh

In keeping with today's theme of Comic Day. I am going to share a fun title. If you like stories about things that go bump in the night with an amusing twist, I would suggest any of the Courtney Crumrin books by Ted Naifeh. They are available in comic format, trade graphic novels and hard cover graphic novels, depending on your preference. I have for you today Courtney Crumrin Vol 1 - The Night Things.

Book Description:
Courtney's parents have dragged her out to a high-to-do suburb to live with her creepy Great Uncle Aloysius in his spooky old house. She's not only the new kid in school, but she also discovers strange things lurking under her bed.

My Review:
Courtney's parents are down on their luck. They've maxed out all their credit cards. Uncle Aloysius is old and nearly infirm, so they move in with him under the pretense of taking care of him. What really motivates them to move is the wealthy suburb they're going to be moving into, rent-free, of course. There they can hob nob with all the wealthy suburbanites and live in a style they always wanted to become accustomed to.
Courtney seems to have a bit of an attitude. She seems to be a bit of a loner and and feels even more isolated in her new school where all the kids stay away from Old Man Crumrin and creepy Crumrin House. The rumors fly about the old mane and the house. One of Courtney's fellow students actually asks if Old Man Crumrin really does have a bunch of deformed kids in the basement. She's not really fitting in and on the way home from school on her first day encounters the local gang of bullies who beat her up and take all the money she has. To make matters worse, she keeps thinking she's seeing things in her room at night and actually gets chased by a goblin on her way home from school one day.
Uncle Aloysius is a bit of a hermit. He's scary and tells his relatives straight away that they are welcome to go anywhere in the house, but his private chambers are off limits. Not very welcoming.
Courtney goes wandering in the house one night because she can't sleep with all the shadows she keeps seeing. She eventually finds herself in Uncle Aloysius' study, which seems a very interesting place. Here uncle is in the room unfortunately, so he takes her back to bed, but the next night, she sees a monster in her room and runs back to Uncle Aloysius who is not in his study. She does find a very interesting book written by A. Crumrin. It is a book called The Bestiary of Night Things Great and Small. She reads the book and finds out all about the things she's been seeing in her room and the thing that chased her home. With it, she learns how to control the night things and even figures out how to exact revenge on those who have pissed her off. And whoever said reading a book is a waste of time?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Free Comic Book Day - May 5th 2012

"What is Free Comic Book Day?

Free Comic Book Day is a single day - the first Saturday in May each year - when participating comic book shops across North America and around the world give away comic books absolutely FREE* to anyone who comes into their stores. *Check with your local shop for their participation and rules." -

Comic Book Publishers have put together quite an extensive list of titles available for free exclusively for FCBD.

Gold Sponsors
Archaia Entertainment - Mouse Guard, Labyrinth & Other Stories
Archie Comics - Mega Man: Let the Games Begin
Bongo Comics - Bongo Comics Free-For-All / Spongebob Freestyle Funnies Flip-Book
Boom! Studios - Peanuts / Adventure Time Flip-Book
Dark Horse Comics - Star Wars / Serenity Flip-Book
DC Comics - The New 52 #1
IDW Publishing - Transformers #80.5
Image Comics - 20 Anthology
Marvel Comics - The Avengers #12.1
Oni Press - Yo Gabba Gabba! Free Comic Book Time!

Silver Sponsors -
Antartic Press - Diary of a Zombie Kid
Arcana Studios - Arcana Presents: The Intrinsic #1
Archie Comics - Sonic the Hedgehog: Two Steps Back... Special Edition
Aspen MLT - Worlds of Aspen 2012
Boundless Comics - Lady Death: The Beginning
Bluewater Productions - Burt Ward, Boy Wonder #1
Boom! Studios - Dune: Origins
Capstone - The incredible Rockhead & Zinc Alloy 2-For-None
Caption Box - Muqtatafaht: A Middle East Comics Anthology
CBLDF - The Censored Howard Cruse
Dark Horse Comics - Buffy the Vampire Slayer / The Guild Flip-Book
DC Comics - DC Nation Super Sampler / Superman Family Adventures Flip-Book
Drawn & Quarterly - Marble Season Preview
Drawn & Quarterly - Moomin Color Special
Fantagraphics Books - Walt Disney's Donald Duck Family Comics
Fantagraphics Books - Crockett Johnson's Barnaby Sampler
Gemstone Publishing - Overstreet's Comic Book Marketplace 2012
Hermes Press - My Favorite Martian Special Edition
Image Comics - Witchblade: Unbalanced Pieces
Liquid Comics - FCBD 2012 Dinosaurs vs Aliens
Liquid Comics: Graphic Elvis Preview
Marvel Comics - Spider-Man: Season One
Oni Press - Bad Medicine #1
Papercutz / NBM Publishing - The Smurfs / Disney Fairies Featuring Tinker Bell Flip-Book
Radical Publishing - Under the Faerie Moon Preview
Rebellion - 2000 AD Judge Dredd Special
Red Five Comics - Atomic Robo & Friends 2012
Th3rd World Productions - Finding Gossamyr & The Stuff of Legends IV
Top Shelf Comics - Top Shelf Kids Club 2012
12-Gauge Comics - Anti #1 Preview
Valiant Entertainment - Valiant Comics 2012 Preview
Viz Media - Voltron Force: Shelter From the Storm
Yen Press - The Infernal Devices: Cockwork Angel
Zenescope Entertainment - Jurassic Strikeforce 5 Preview
Zenescope Entertainment - Animal Planet Presents: The World's Most Dangerous Animals 2012
Wizkids / NECA - Marvel Heroclix: Thor Figure

Just a note: Not all titles are available in all stores. I'm not sure what the difference is between gold sponsors and silver sponsors, but I do know titles are limited. So get to your local comic book shop for your free books and get there early before the best titles run out.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Book Review: A Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont

So, let me ask you. Why is it we can see that the guy is perfect for the girl, but she can never see it herself? Perhaps it would make for a very short story. Or perhaps, a book with no tension is boring. No one wants a painting of happy little clouds, they want a painting of a tempest over the sea. As my namesake from Another Cinderella Story said, "I love drama! It's so dramatic!" It can be frustrating, though, just waiting for her to wise up and see the prince right in front of her nose. Inevitably, though, she'll do something stupid like toss him over for name jackanape not worth her time of day, or she's afraid to be dumped, so she dumps him first only to realize too late she made a mistake. The road to true love is a bumpy ride, but it is always so satisfying when it works out in the end. At least, I always hope it will work out in the end. The Way We Were and Romeo and Juliet aside, I do prefer the happy ending. It always works out, but perhaps not always the way we had envisioned. Jane Eyre is perhaps one of the greatest love stories of all time, at least that seems to be the general consensus, but I can't see it. And Mr. Rochester? Please. He stuffs his crazy wife into the attic and proceeds to woo the young, naive governess. He lies to Jane, the crazy wife sets the house on fire causing her death, he is horribly maimed in the process and they live happily ever after. Victorians. I'll take Austen to Bronte any day, but I figured I would give A Breath of Eyre a perusal in the local book shop.  It peaked my interest, not enough to actually read Jane Eyre, but still. A Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont is probably the closest I am going to come to the classic.

Book Description:
Publication Date: March 27, 2012
In this stunning, imaginative novel, Eve Marie Mont transports her modern-day heroine into the life of Jane Eyre to create a mesmerizing story of love, longing, and finding your place in the world. . .
Emma Townsend has always believed in stories--the ones she reads voraciously, and the ones she creates. Perhaps it's because she feels like an outsider at her exclusive prep school, or because her stepmother doesn't come close to filling the void left by her mother's death. And her only romantic prospect--apart from a crush on her English teacher--is Gray Newman, a long-time friend who just adds to Emma's confusion. But escape soon arrives in an old leather-bound copy of Jane Eyre. . .

Reading of Jane's isolation sparks a deep sense of kinship. Then fate takes things a leap further when a lightning storm catapults Emma right into Jane's body and her nineteenth-century world. As governess at Thornfield, Emma has a sense of belonging she's never known--and an attraction to the brooding Mr. Rochester. Now, moving between her two realities and uncovering secrets in both, Emma must decide whether her destiny lies in the pages of Jane's story, or in the unwritten chapters of her own. . .

My review:
I thought this was an interesting concept. It's not quite like The Neverending Story. The real question is does Emma really get sucked into Jane's World or does she imagine it all in her head? It is perhaps similar to one of my favorite manga / anime series, Fushigi Yugi by Yuu Watase. The main character gets sucked into a magical book. The interesting thing about Emma's journey is that when she first finds herself in Thornfield, she is very aware of the fact that she doesn't belong there. She does come to realize everyone sees her as Jane, but she retains her own sense of self and just pretends to be Jane. She does, after all, know how the story goes. However, the longer she stays in Jane's world, the more of herself she loses until she actually becomes Jane. There is also a Wizard of Oz quality about it as people she knows from her life take on the characters in the book as well. Mr. Rochester looks like her English teacher, her charge looks like the daughter of a family friend, the crazy wife in the attic also looks like someone from her life.
There is, of course, a love interest in her world, if she can take a chance on him. Gray Newman is the son of her mother's best friend and she has known him forever. The used to be friends, but became distanced from one another. He has a reputation as a player and she doesn't trust him when he seems interested in her. Emma comes with a lifetime of baggage and is one of those girls that pushes away before she can be pushed away, but realizes, perhaps too late that she might have made a mistake. Perhaps not. Which world does she choose?