Saturday, March 31, 2012

Manga Review: Natsume's Book of Friends, Volume 9, by Yuki Midorikawa

Rating (Out of 5): ~3.5
Publisher: VIZ Media (Shojo Beat)
Volumes: 13+

Goodreads Synopsis:

Natsume learns that no good deed goes unpunished when an irate yokai accuses him of stealing her ring when she came to the Fujiwara house to get her name returned. Natsume thinks he knows where the ring has disappeared to, but can he find it in time, or will the place he’s come to think of as home be destroyed by the vengeful yokai?!


This was, again, another volume that was just alright to me (maybe it's me? As in, I'm just not in the mood for them, or something?). And, again, it was another series that no bookstore wanted to carry, and so took me forever just to find this volume (and will probably take me a while to get the next one. But let's just hope not).
I really like this series, and have been missing it (especially when I see other people reviewing it, and am like “I HAVEN'T READ THAT ONE YET/CAN'T FIND THAT ONE! I AM SO FAR BEHIND!”, and then groan in aggravation/mental pain). I keep hoping/waiting, though, for this series to get into a more solid, or longer lasting, plot line, since they usually only last for a couple chapters. On the bright side, though, we have been getting more insight into Natsume's past and present feelings and the people around him, which I enjoy.
For the first two chapters of this volume, Natsume runs into a fluff ball of a yokai, which runs in huge packs but is very hard to find and dangerous. It starts to attack Natsume, but he wraps his (maybe?) wound up and calms him down. Natsume also gets attacked by another yokai, who is claiming that Natsume stole something she dropped (which doesn't make any sense, but Natsume also points this out, so points for that).
For the next three chapter, Natsume helps some yokai (which he is always doing. I've come to realize that he is much too nice, not in a way that he's always forgiving people, not that he isn't doing that, but in that he's always trying to help other people), and ends up running, and getting captured by, Matoba, an exorcist. He's capturing yokai, while Natsume is trying to save them. Matoba... seems interesting, but I haven't got much of a feel for him, so we'll see next time we meet him, I guess.
The biggest parts of that, I think, were when a yokai attacked Natsume while in class, which was terrible since he's managed to act very normal in front of all of them up till now. Later, though, he made up an excuse and accomplished not telling anyone about what he can see. Which is a bit disappointing, but also not, since they mentioned how his aunt and uncle treat him now, and how they might if they knew, which definitely changed things. Also, he gets invited by some people from school to a festival, and gets to invite Tanuma and Taki, which is nice. I like seeing them hanging out, and it's always nice when they get to hang out with other people, especially since they're usually all by themselves. (Also, in the previous chapters, he accidentally calls the fluffball adorable in front of his friends, and they think he's talking about a girl, and bug about who he's thinking about. I thought it was rather hilarious.)
There's a special chapter at the end, in a girls point of view, who went to school with him before, when he had longer, scraggly hair, was a bit more cynical than he is now, and wasn't close to anyone. I felt rather bad for him, but it was interesting seeing what someone else, who doesn't know about the yokai's but wonders because of how he acts, thinks of him. It made me wonder what the boys who he goes to school with now think of him.
I do really like this series. It's subtle, a little displaced, smooth, and just simply sweet. I like Natsume, as well as his few friends, and want to know more about them. I'm hoping things get more intense, more solid, soon, since I'm not always all that affected by the short plots. I still like them, and am just simply enjoying the series for now (and, you know, hoping I can find the next one somewhat easily).

Manga Review: Dengeki Daisy, Volume 6, by Kyousuke Motomi

Rating (Out of 5): ~3.5-4
Publisher: VIZ Media (Shojo Beat)
Volumes: 11+

Goodreads Synopsis:

Reads R to L (Japanese Style), for audience T+. Teru and Kurosaki continue to investigate the fake DAISY incident and are on the verge of solving the case when Teru gets kidnapped! What does the kidnapper want with her, and will Kutosaki be able to rescue her in time?!


I think it's been too long since I last read volume 5 (again, not my fault; no store seemed to want to have this volume in, but were okay with all the others), because my excitement for it has dimmed. A lot. Which I'm a little upset by, because I know I really like this series, but still didn't enjoy it as much as I have before.
The volume opens with Teru having a dream conversation with her brother, which is sweet. Then we see her waking up in Kurosaki's arms, which is so cute. But then the chapter, and volume, progresses and we see that it's still about the fake daisy hacker, and how their teacher might have/did do it, as well as stab some other girl (which I really don't remember happening, and am bothered by that; especially because I couldn't look over the last volume, as my friend has it), and that other teacher, the girl, might somehow be the mastermind behind all of it. This was interesting. To the extent that I remembered. I'm not going to get too into it, though, in an effort not to spoil it all, but there were parts that were sweet and very exciting. Some of the things from the last volume were a bit of a blur, since it's been so long, but I caught up to what was happening, for the most part. But, for a little while, I was wondering why we were still on this subject, why it hadn't been resolved already, as I'd thought we were moving on to something else now.
Although, some of it was really good. In the second chapter, for instance, when Teru gets kidnapped and does something pretty awesome (although, at first, was a bit too cliché to my liking) to the bad girl teacher.
Most of that got resolved in this volume, though. We found out who did it, but there is still more to the story, more to be revealed, as well as turning in or capturing the woman who did it all. And, near the end of the volume, Teru unknowingly runs into some guy named Akira (he has dark hair and is always wearing a hoodie, who apparently looks a bit like her brother), who I believe we have seen, but only in glimpses, before.
Aside from that, there were some nice romantic scenes. Kurosaki saves Teru at one point, and he holds her close and she calls him daisy, but then she passes out and forgets it all, which sucks. In the last chapter, he takes care of a dog, and there are several moments then. Including the ending, where he wants to touch her but doesn't because it's a bad idea, and so tells her to go away. It was so adorable. And at the end, there are two holiday themed shorts, which are both adorable as well.
It is so obvious how they feel about each other, and with Kurosaki already knowing that Teru knows about him being Daisy. They are so cute together, and I just want it to get out already. I want them to talk, and for them to kiss, and get it out and work through everything that needs worked through (like what Kurosaki thinks he did wrong, and maybe did, involving Teru's brother, that Teru will forgive him for). I want it to happen already.
I am enjoying this series, it's just not as charming, or exciting, as I remember, or want it to be. Although, the more I think about it, the better it's getting. Hopefully, when I read the next one, it will be even better.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Manga Review: Black Bird, Volume 13, by Kanoko Sakurakouji

Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Publisher: VIZ Media (Shojo Beat)
Volumes: 15+

Amazon Synopsis:

Reads R to L (Japanese Style), for audiences T+.
There is a world of myth and magic that intersects ours, and only a special few can see it. Misao Harada is one such person, and she wants nothing to do with magical realms. She just wants to have a normal high school life and maybe get a boyfriend. But she is the bride of demon prophecy, and her blood grants incredible powers, her flesh immortality. Now the demon realm is fighting over the right to her hand...or her life!
Sho’s plans to plunge the world into chaos continue as he targets the Eight Daitengu, hoping to strip his brother Kyo of all his protectors. And now Sho has Hoki, whose secret past makes him easy prey.
Can Hoki stand up to Sho, or will his efforts to aid Kyo backfire?


This one was really good, you guys. It's reaching (reached?) the climax of their problem, and it was really good and exciting and I want the next one.
The volume starts with a nice n' heavy make out scene between Misao and Kyo, in which she is thinking about what Sho is doing, and so he distracts her (I can't help myself: I just love the hot scenes between them). Then we see Hoki and Sho fighting, where Sho is mostly just playing tricks on Hoki. Kyo saves Hoki, and they make up. Then we see Zenki, who is upset and feels bad about what he did. The chapter ends when we find out that Sho's place also has a maze-making shield up, and it is apparently on the fritz, as Misao goes through a door and ends up with Sho.
Kyo is freaking out, as he doesn't know where she wound up, and everyone else is helping look for her. Some people are upset (read: Kaede) because of how he's reacting, and so he tells them that the only reason he's where he is now, and doing what he's doing, is so that he can have Misao. (Which is super sweet, yea, but also a little surprising, as I'd thought he was at least running the place how he was because he wanted to, not because he knew Misao would want him to.)
As Kyo is doing these things, Misao is talking with Sho. And feeling bad for him. She even cries because she feels bad for him. She's just too nice; I can almost not stand it. Sho is a terrible person, he's not even nice to her during this (he chokes her!), and, in a really intense and exciting moment, asks her to choose him over Kyo, and yet she feels bad for him and wants to help him, and even as he's dying, she gives him her blood. It is utterly ridiculous, and she should not have done it.
In the last chapter, Sho takes Misao to Kyo, who flinches from because she feels terrible (as she should). Then the two get ready to fight, I believe. There are some swords whipping around, and Sho makes a show of it (oh, pun not intended). And it ends as we see the horrified look on Misao's face, and someone bloody arm falls to the ground. I think it was a bystander, someone near Misao, but I'm not sure? I'm really looking forward to finding out in the next volume.
At the end of the book, for some cheering up, there are two short stories, one about the little daitengo are given presents, but aren't good at choosing what they want. And then another where Sho, Kyo, Hoki, and Zenki are modeling men's clothes. This is funny. They both are, really, and it's nice to have something lighthearted after all serious, tension filled drama of the rest of the volume, and will probably be in the next one.
I'm just really looking forward to it.
(Also, like with Kimi ni Todoke, are the releases going to be farther apart now? What with there only being two more volume released in Japan, and it still ongoing? I'm not looking forward to that...)

Manga Review: La Corda d'Oro, Volume 14, by Yuki Kure

Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Publisher: VIZ Media (Shojo Beat)
Volumes: 17

Goodreads Synopsis:

  At Seisou’s annual school festival, hearts are pumping, blood is pounding...and Kahoko’s love life is heating up. Ryotaro takes a break from the sports competition to make a private confession, Aoi asks Kahoko to play Juliet to his Romeo in the class play and even Len lets slip that he has human emotions. But before Kahoko can decide where her heart lies, she has another problem to tackle—the festival’s big music recital!


I really like this series. I watched the anime several years ago, and then started the series. And it's been so long since volume 13 came out, plus it was hard to find this volume, so it was a little weird to be reading it again. Good, because I missed it, but I couldn't remember completely what had happened last time. I did miss the characters, though, so it was nice to get to read about them again. (But I just noticed that it's complete in Japan now, with only three volumes left! Does that mean we won't have so long to wait for the next one?)
In this volume, the school is focusing on their school festival. In the first chapter, they have sports day, where Ryotaro, Aoi, Kazuki, and Keiichi are competing. They had a little competition going on, which was fun. (It was a surprise to see Keiichi competing, doing something sporty. Later in the volume, he sings, too. We're learning all kinds of things about him in this volume.) Also, Ryotaro talks to Kahoko when she gets hurt, and says that he has something to tell her, but it can wait until after the music contest.
By the end of the volume, he still hasn't told her, and she's been worried about it the whole time. She wants to know what it is, and even guesses that it's about him liking her, but then pushes that thought away. I'm excited for it. Also, what everyone else will think. Aoi has been openly flirting with her, and asks her to the dance with him (which she says yes to). Kazuki is always paying attention to her. It also seems like Len is thinking about her more often. Romantic feelings are all over the place, and I'm hoping something big happens with them soon. (Honestly, I love all of them, Kazuki and Ryotaro especially, but I'm Team Len. I think she would work best with him.)
In the next chapter, they start talking more about the contest, and practicing. Kahoko finds out that Aoi used to play the violin, but now plays the viola, even as he denies that he's any good. (He has mixed feelings about it for some reason, and I'm curious to find out why.) He also doesn't want anyone to know, but everyone finds out, accidentally, and Kohako pushes him to perform. They do a, not-very-good, impromptu concert. We also get to see Aoi in his Romeo costume, as his class is doing the play, Azuma and Kazuki in suits, for, I think, a cafe, and Keiichi dressed as a ghost for the haunted house.
Also, Ryotaro and Len talk some, where Len asks what Ryotaro likes about Kahoko, and he tells him something about his going abroad. I'm thinking it's that he's leaving earlier than expected, but it isn't said.
In the last chapter, they all perform (for some reason, all but Len in a group, with Len doing two songs after them), and then go to the dance. Kahoko dances, a little, with Keiichi, then Aoi, and then Kazuki (who blushes; he is so adorable), and after the dance, with Azuma, who also harasses her a little.
Throughout the volume, there are three short stories. Two of them are with the rest of the chapters, and are just fun things about sports day and the school festival. In one, we find out that Kazuki is hoping to be a music teacher, which I guessed and makes total sense; in the other, Len is offended by everyone's reaction to him never having tried Takoyaki. At the end, there's one about Kanazawa and Akihiko (another teacher, I think? I don't remember...), who is related to Kiriya, who we met in the last volume. Kiriya is apparently planning on applying for the school next year.
I like this series. It's really good, and I love all of the characters. But it's starting to bother me a little bit, how many guys are falling for Kahoko. Almost all of them, if not all, have feelings for her, and it's a little ridiculous. I mean, yea, I do like Kahoko, but that's a bit much.
Still, I'm looking forward to the next one (which I already have, so that will be up very soon), and especially for when the boys confess. I want to see that happen, and am hoping Ryotaro does it in the next book.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Manga Review: Seiho Boys' High School, Volume 8, by Kaneyoshi Izumi

Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Publisher: VIZ Media (Shojo Beat)
Volumes: 8

Goodreads Synopsis:

Final Volume Is it written in the stars that girls named Erika will always break Maki's heart? With betrayal and separation ravaging his relationship, love certainly isn't easy for this Seiho boy. But as his second year of high school comes to a close, will he still somehow manage to find happiness?


I like this series; I like the almost nostalgic feel to it, the fun the boys have, especially reading about how boys act at an all boys' high school; that's just interesting to me, and fun to watch. But this volume wasn't as amazing as I'd hoped it would be. That might just be because it's been a while, several months, since I read volume 7 (not my fault, though; no store seemed to want to carry it).
In the first chapter, Miyaji puts the idea in Maki's head that maybe Erika and Kamiki are going out behind his back. The readers, though know that something is wrong with Erika, and she hasn't worked up the courage to tell Maki, whereas Kamiki has went through something similar. Maki worries and overreacts (a little), and he finds out that Erika is going to study abroad, because she doesn't want her fighting parents controlling her anymore. And while it leaves us guessing for a little bit, it only turns out that she and Kamiki were secretly talking, nothing more.
Maki and Erika break up, and Maki sulks and pretends to be glad to be rid of her and ready to move on. Before she leaves, though, they make up. Instead of getting back together, they decide to stay separate, and if they see each other again, they'll see how things go. The boys shoot off fireworks, to cheer up Maki, and as a goodbye to Erika.
In the next bit, Miyaji comes to their school to visit Kamiki. A stray dog starts following her and Maki, who then decide to take care of it. Miyaji does it to prove to Kamiki, though, that she doesn't need his help. The dog, though, is a terror and only wants to listen to Kamiki. Kamiki finds an owner for it, and makes up with Miyaji.
The final chapter closes with the boys graduating from their second year, Maki now being the Resident Advisor, and him receiving a message from an unknown number (meaning to be Erika).
This was a good ending to the series. I like that she didn't make it an overall happy ending, even while it was. She didn't go into the future and have him and Erika meet up. Instead, it's hinting that maybe they're going to start talking again. And Kamiki and Miyaji are together again, but they don't know if they'll work out, and they're okay with that. Also, I like how the boys all complain about their school, but that they're still fond of it.
At the end of the manga, there's a one-shot called Reverse Guilt. I was surprised, but I actually really liked it. It's about a girl who used to be seen as perfect, but then starts hanging out with the poor, bad boy, and so now is just seen as smart. She pretends not to like the boy, but obviously does and is jealous of his womanizing ways, and they get together by the end. It's a smutty story, which is what surprised me, and made me like it. Although, there was a part where he tied up two people, which I did not like. And I did like the underclassmen girl, she piqued my interested, and I felt a bit bad for her.
Overall, it was a good volume. And, while I am a little upset to see the series end, it was a really good ending for the series. So, I'm happy with it.

Review: Supernaturally (Paranormalcy, #2) by Kiersten White

 Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Publisher: HarperCollins (HarperTeen)
Spoilers?: Only minor ones.

Goodreads Synopsis:
Evie finally has the normal life she’s always longed for. But she’s shocked to discover that being ordinary can be . . . kind of boring. Just when Evie starts to long for her days at the International Paranormal Containment Agency, she’s given a chance to work for them again. Desperate for a break from all the normalcy, she agrees.

But as one disastrous mission leads to another, Evie starts to wonder if she made the right choice. And when Evie’s faerie ex-boyfriend Reth appears with devastating revelations about her past, she discovers that there’s a battle brewing between the faerie courts that could throw the whole supernatural world into chaos. The prize in question? Evie herself.

So much for normal.

This was pretty good. I remember liking the first one more, but I did enjoy this one. Am annoyed with myself that it took this long to finally read it, though.
Evie is now living with Arianna, a vampire, and Lend is away at college (which, I completely forgot that he was of college age. I always thought they were the same age, so I was surprised. Not disappointed, though). She's trying to live normally, but IPCA wants her to work for them again, along with a hyperactive boy named Jack, who is human but can use the faerie paths. She's trying to work with IPCA, while also not lie to Lend and spend time with Arianna. She's not having a very easy time of it, you could say.
I like Evie. I really do, and I remember liking her a lot in the first book. She's fun, and adventurous, and a little conceited, but is also trying to find out who she is and what she should be doing, and is messing a little along the way. I did not like all of her lying. It really bothered me, and I was a bit disappointed that she lied as much as she did. She should have just been honest. I did like, though, when something happened with a boy that is not Lend, that some other characters would have fallen for and made it into a triangle, and made her doubt her feelings for Lend and start falling for another boy even though she should not be, that she did none of those things. She pushed the boy away, because she knows that she only wants Lend, and is confident in her feelings. That, I think, made me like her again.
I still like Lend. He has fun with Evie, is honest, and sweet, while he also has a bit of that overprotective, jealous boyfriend thing going on. Sometimes this is done well, to where you like it. Usually, even. But here it made him seem almost possessive and trying to take over some things, pushing his thoughts onto Evie, as well as that he jumped to conclusions way too easily. I still like him, just not as much as I would like to.
And Jack. I am so disappointed, you guys. I really liked Jack; like, a lot. I did get a wary feeling of him at some points, but I banished the thought. He had so much potential, still does. But instead of taking the sad, puppy kind of direction, hiding it behind his bright smile and happy-go-lucky mood, with what happened to him, he went another way. I don't want to spoil too much, so I won't say why, just that I'm upset over what happened.
I'm also wary of IPCA. I feel that they could do good things, but instead are still not doing them, and aren't being honest about what they are doing. Something's still up with them, and I want to know what it is.
This book focused quite a bit on Evie's lying and dealings with the IPCA, and a bit on the faerie world. The faerie world was really interesting, and I liked finding out about Evie's past and her parents. Although I'm a little skeptical on how, exactly, that was supposed to have worked; it didn't seem very plausible to me.
Also, not nearly enough kissing. But, you know, that's not what this book is about.
It moved along very easily, though, and it didn't take me long to read through (as in, I read over half of it in a day) once I finally set my mind to it. I like White's way of writing though, it's fun and light, with cute little comments in Evie's head throughout it. Also, it's a bit refreshing, if a little disappointing, reading about her version of the creatures, what with seeing beyond their glamours.
Nonetheless, I'm looking forward to the next, and final, one of the series.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Manga Review: Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You, Volume 13, by Karuho Shiina

Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Publisher: VIZ Media (Shojo Beat)
Volumes: 15+

Amazon Synopsis:

Reads R to L (Japanese Style), for audiences T.
Sawako Kuronuma is the perfect heroine...for a horror movie. Nicknamed "Sadako" after the haunting movie character, everyone is afraid to come near her for fear of being cursed. But underneath her scary exterior lies an ordinary teenager who just wants to make friends.


I just love this series; that's all there is to it. It's an amazing series and I'm always eager for the next one. (Plus, you know you love a book when you have a grin on your face the whole time your reading it, even if you try not to because you're in public.)
In the first chapter, the group goes to the beach, where romance is in the air. Sawaka is off with Kazehaya, who says she looks cute (after Ayane unbuttons the top of her uniform shirt and shortens her skirt), and they build, what I think is supposed to be, a sandcastle. Sawaka asks him what he talked about with her father, which is cute, and then he invites her to his house.
Meanwhile, Chizu is having a arm-wrestling competition with the guys who are flirting with her. When Ryu comes up, he wrestles her, wins, and takes a walk with her while holding her hand. Ayane, at the same time, is talking with Kento, who lays his head on her shoulder. This is a big step for Ryu and Chizu, but not much else develops between them, although it seems that Chizu is now thinking about it. Kento, though, shows up several times, and it's obvious something is going to happen with him, and while I'm sure it will be with Ayane, I feel there's something else there we're not being told about yet.
In the next two chapter, it's Sawako's turn to meet the family. She first meets his mother, who is sweet and homely, before they go up to Kazehaya's room. They're supposed to study, but instead start looking at pictures, and then start talking. They end up telling each other when they first found out that they liked each other, are surprised by how long ago it was, and then get off on calling each other by their first name. (I don't really understand this, or I didn't used to, but I understand that's it's a big thing in Japan, and so it doesn't bother me anymore.) It's super adorable, especially when Sawako calls him Shota, and they both just about die from embarrassment. (Also, I kind of love his name. Shota Kazehaya [or is it Kazehaya Shota?]. It just seems so fitting for him.)
They are just too cute. I love seeing them getting closer, getting comfortable around each other. I just love it. I also like seeing Sawako getting more confident in herself, which is more obvious in this volume since she is speaking up more with her friends, and is more open while talking with the girls. And it's nice to see her being bold when it comes to Kazehaya. (I'm hoping a kiss is in their near future. A kiss on the lips would be nice, but I thought earlier that one on the cheek would be just perfect. For either one of them to plant it, too. Ahhhh, I'm just fangirling all over the place over here!)
What was I saying? Oh, right...
They are interrupted (before anything can happen, although I don't think anything would have) by Kazehaya's mother. They're then sent out to bring ice cream to his father and the baseball team, including his little brother. His little brother is cute and blunt, like little kids are. His father, though, is stern and 'dignified', but could be seen as a little mean. This is mostly just sweet, and good for Sawako.
Within the next two chapter, they're all getting ready for the school trip, now that school has started up again. (I'm so jealous of how many trips they take in manga; do they actually take that many in real life in Japan?) They get in groups, and the girls talk about where they're going and talk some about the boys. Ayane gets asked out by a boy name Mogi in a different class (who I thought was someone else until we learned his name, and so was confused. But we'd never met him before, so that's cleared up), and says yes, before they leave for Okinawa.
I like seeing the girls talk about the boys, it's so refreshing and fun. (But maybe that's only me, because I've never really done that? It is good for Sawako, though.) And it's so funny when Ayane teases Kazehaya, trying to push their relationship forward. For instance, when she tells him that Sawako is wearing panties with strings on them, and he gets all embarrassed and can't stop thinking about it. I love seeing him fight with his physical attraction to Sawako, try to hold himself back; that's sometimes harder to find, in manga and novels, and so I always get excited when I see it.
Anyway, the volume ends with some girl (from another class, and who they don't show us) asking for Ryu. Aside from that, the girls and boys are having fun, and teasing each other.
Like I said at the beginning, I love this series. I can't help myself from fangirling over it everytime. It's so smoothly put together, a little elegant and subtle, lighthearted, maybe nostalgic. Pretty. A great, simple story of a first love. It is just so fantastic, and I... don't know what else to say about it. But that I love it.
On a sidenote, I am seriously thinking about starting the anime. And looking up the live-action movie (have they been translated/released with subtitles? They should be). Shiina has mentioned them both in the side bar of the last few volumes, and it makes me curious and excited, and like I want to start it right this instant.
Another sidenote: is VIZ going to be slowing down the release schedule soon? Because I noticed that we're almost all caught up, which is usually when the releases get farther apart. I don't think I've noticed it happening yet, though. I'm hoping not, because, you know, I love it and don't want to have to wait. I'm dreading it, but am thinking it's going to start happening soon.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday[1]: Thou Shalt Not Road Trip by Antony John

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Jill at the Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Thou Shalt Not Road Trip by Antony John
Publication Date: April 12, 2012
Publisher: Penguin (Dial Books)

One crazy road trip that's a mix of rejection, redemption, and romance

When sixteen-year-old Luke's book, Hallelujah, becomes a national bestseller, his publishing house sends him on a cross-country book tour with his older brother, Matt, as chauffeur. But when irresponsible Matt offers to drive Luke's ex–soul mate, Fran, across the country too, things get a little crazy. On the trip, Luke must loosen up, discover what it truly means to have faith, and do what it takes to get the girl he loves.

Told with Antony John's signature wit and authenticity, and featuring smart, singular characters who jump off the page and into your heart, this story is a spiritual awakening and rockin' road trip in one.


I loved Five Flavors of Dumb (but haven't been able to find his first book...), and so am super excited to read this one. And it's out next month, too! So soon! (Plus, I believe he has another book, a supernatural one, to be released later this year, which is also exciting.)

Manga Review: Kodocha: Sana's Stage, Volume 3, by Miho Obana

Rating (Out of 5): ~3.5 (Maybe 4)
Publisher: TokyoPop
Volumes: 10

Amazon Synopsis:

12-year old Sana Kurata is used to getting what she wants – even in love. Ever since she hired her manager, a man 10 years her senior who she calls her "gigalo," she thought it was true love. When Rei shows his feelings for a woman his own age, Sana realizes that Rei’s feelings for her are anything but romantic. Sana has romantic problems at school, too, as now former-bully Hayama and mama’s boy Tsuyoshi are vying for her affections.


This volume starts where the last one left off, with Sana and Akito rushing off to find Tsuyoshi. They get to his house, only to find that he's moved away already and his father doesn't seem to care. Akito gets hurt in their interaction with his father, and when Sana tries to bandage him up, he gropes her. They then go to see Akito's father, who's still in the hospital, and find Tsuyoshi visiting him.
Sana and Akito, and Rei, help Tsuyoshi's family move into their new place, where Tsuyoshi is being brave and the man of the house, but later cries in front of them. (When he asks Sana, who was comforting him, to marry him, Akito gets a bit enraged.) (A bit after this, Tsuyoshi finds out about Aya's crush on him, and when she gives him a present, he immediately falls out of love for Sana and into it with Aya. It's a bit ridiculous (in a funny way) how easy he is.)
Rei takes them both home, and Akito asks about Sana's father. Rei immediately stops the car and warns Akito away from mentioning him, ever again. Turns out Sana and her mother get scary dangerous whenever he is mentioned, and Rei doesn't know why, but has decided not to bring it up. Sana, though, tells them that she doesn't have a father and leaves it at that.
Which bring us to the subject of this volume. Sana seems preoccupied for most of it, and we see that her and her mother have some agreement that they are now going to fulfill which is bothering her. Rei is worried, and bothers Mariko a little bit. Akito is worried and asks Sana, mentioning that sometimes it looks like she's acting happy and she can cry on his shoulder if she needs to (which, surprisingly, helps her) (most of this happens when they go on a school trip for three days, and Akito falls down a cliff when following Sana). We find out that Mariko found Sana left alone on a bench in the park when she was a baby, and were unable to find her parents. Their agreement was that they would both become somewhat well-known (Sana in acting, Mariko as a writer), and then Mariko would write a book about it, which she does.
When it all comes out and the book is released (which happens way too fast, like within days) there's a big commotion about it, and Sana is upset about it but doesn't say anything to her mother. She feels like Mariko doesn't want her anymore, which is obviously not true, but she won't say anything to Mariko, and everyone seems to realize is while Mariko ignores it.
Also within this book, Sana starts working with another actor, Naozumi, who freaks her out at first but she later finds out was at the same orphanage as her (or something?). He tells her he likes her, to which she doesn't know how to react, and Akito starts ignoring her and being mean again when he finds out about him. On opening night of the play Sana is in, they both meet and there's an obvious competitive air around them (which Naozumi starts, instead of Akito, surprise!). After the big blow-out of the book, though, Akito charges into her house (where she's been hiding for a few days) and drags her out with him, as Naozumi watches (because he was going to talk with her as well). The volume ends with Sana crying on Akito's shoulder.
Oh, and Akito starts taking karate classes, suggested by their principal, which will definitely be good for him. He gets frustrated, though, when he finds out that they're not learning any actual moves yet, but have only been cleaning and meditating.
I'm loving this series. It's cute, funny, the characters are so much fun; it's just fun in general. I'm looking forward to seeing where the whole book about Sana's past is going, as well as where the triangle (Naozumi-Sana-Akito) is going. Obviosly, I'm Team Akito. No doubt about that. Still, I'm looking forward to getting to know more about Naozumi. I'm just looking forward to the next book, really, and am hoping it won't be too hard to find.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Teaser Tuesday[2]: Supernaturally (Paranormalcy, #2) by Kiersten White

 Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB over at Should Be Reading! All you have to do to participate is:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I've been a little slow lately when it comes to reading. Err, young adult books, anyway. I started this one a while ago, though, and am a bit bothered that I haven't finished it yet. Especially since I really enjoyed the first one, and am a huge fan of the author. But anyway!

“I could feel Jack's eyes on me and deliberately avoided looking at him. I was going to sell this lie. The only one who could contradict me was the vampire. Maybe I should have drained him... But, no. Raquel would take my word over his.” (Hardcover, pg. 176)

“Sighing, I slid down the wall to sit on the ground and winced as pain stabbed through my lower back, radiating outward from my tailbone. A few painful shifts and I was comfortable, in a not-going-to-die-right-now-but-maybe-later sort of way.” (Hardcover, pg. 176)
 Happy reading! :)

Review: Sleeping with the Fishes (Fred the Mermaid, #1), by MaryJanice Davidson

Rating (Out of 5): ~3.5
Publisher: Penguin (Jove Books)
Spoilers?: Only for the basic plot.

Amazon Synopsis:

Fred is not your ordinary mermaid. She's not blonde. She's not buxom. And she's definitely not perky. In fact, Fred can be downright cranky. And it doesn't help matters that her hair is blue. While volunteering at the New England Aquarium, Fred learns that there are weird levels of toxins in the local seawater. A gorgeous marine biologist wants her help investigating. So does her merperson ruler, the High Prince of the Black Sea. You'd think it would be easy for a mermaid to get to the bottom of things. Think again.


I've been on a kick lately with these types of book (you know, the adult romances, that take very little time to read because they don't have too much substance?) and I'm not sure why (also, I'm not sure if I'm going to review very many, if any more at all. I'm kind of surprised I'm reviewing this one in the first place). They're really easy to read, and I just like reading something easy, romantic, and happy a lot of the time, and so these are what I go to. (Plus, there's a used book store in the town that I live, where they are really easy to find, for not much money.)
I was kind of surprised by how much I enjoyed this book, though. I read one of her short story collection a while ago, and so I had a got a few others of hers and had them on my shelf but hadn't gotten around to actually reading it until a couple of weekends ago, when I read one of her stories in an anthology, that I really liked (the anthology was Valentine's Day Is Killing Me). From there I decided to read the two books of hers that I had (that other one was Derik's Bane), and now have more waiting to be read.
The book is about Fredrika, a mermaid who works at an aquarium (where the fish are on a strike because of the music), doesn't enjoy swimming in the ocean, and has never met another like her. She's got a hard edge, focuses a bit more on herself than other people, and has a witty tongue. Things get complicated when a mer-prince, Artur, shows up, as well as a marine biologist named Thomas, both trying to find out what is messing up the water in her area, and falling for Fred in the process.
I liked all of the characters. Fred is fun, and I genuinely like both Artur and Thomas, to the point that I'm unsure which one I want her to choose (I think I'm leaning a bit more toward Thomas, but that could change). There was chemistry between her and both of them, even if I think their falling in love came a little too fast. And I especially like how the boys got along with each other. They weren't mean, even helped each other out when it was needed, while keeping it obvious that they want her, and don't want to share, at the same time. (Honestly, they could pull an Anita Blake, become a three-some, and I wouldn't mind. Although that would be a bit of a cop-out.)
I also liked Fred's girly best friend who's not gay, Jonas, and his relationship with... someone, who I won't name.
The story-line for the book moved along fine, and I found it interesting, while mostly enjoying the characters and their relationships. I actually wasn't expecting the love part of it not to come to a conclusion by the end of the book (since I've read a couple others of hers, and they usually do, but I guess this is a series with the same character all the way through...) and so I was eager to get the next one. (And now that I have it, a bit eager to read it.)
This is an adult book, but there wasn't too many sexual parts of it. Only kissing. Which I didn't mind, and works just fine because of the way the triangle is. I'm hoping for a bit more in the following books, and expecting more to come because what her other books entail, but just kissing is good for now.
I'm not sure if I'll be reviewing the next one when I finish it, but I just might. Not sure when that will be, either. Davidson's books are fairly easy to get through, though. They're light, with fast-moving dialogue, and a little, um, random or something? I'm not sure how to describe what I mean, but it's a good thing.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Review: Origins (Sweep/Wicca, #11), by Cate Tiernan

Rating (Out of 5): ~3 (Maybe ~3.5)
Publisher: Penguin (Speak)
Spoilers?: Some.

Goodreads Synopsis:

The chronicle of the deadly Woodbane conspiracy, as told by one of Morgan's own ancestors, has fallen into Hunter's and Morgan's hands. Hunter and Morgan explore the world of these powerful witches, to find a way to vanquish them at last.


This is a really good series. It's long, and I started it a long time ago, but each book's usually pretty short books, and they (usually) aren't hard to get through, either. Lately, though, they seem to be dragging on to other things...
Usually we get to read about Morgan, and Hunter. The last book focused quite a bit on Hunter, as he went to visit his father and met a not-so-good lady. This book starts with Hunter returning, and telling Morgan about what happened. What happened, sucked, and I do mostly blame the woman, but Hunter's at fault as well, and Morgan realizes this. She's not happy, and I'm looking forward to how she's going to handle it and how their relationship is going to change.
We don't get to see how things change, though, because the rest of the book is about someone else. While away, Hunter found a book of shadows, and they read it. The author of it, Rose, is an ancestor of Morgan's, who created the dark wave that they are still fighting.
She fell in love with someone from an enemy coven, and when she's pulled away from him, and is also accused of being a witch, she doesn't feel bad about creating something that burns down villages.
I did not like Rose. I didn't mind her at first, but by the end, I could not stand her. I even almost paused the book, about halfway through, but decided against it since it's so short and I wanted to just get it over with. (It didn't help much, though, that I didn't particularly care about her story, and instead wanted to get back to Morgan and Hunter.) But I wouldn't call it terrible or anything.
I want to read the next one soon, but I'm having a hard time getting myself to do it because I think that it also goes into other points of view, and I only want to read the main story line, not about their ancestors and all that. I really only care about Morgan, Hunter, and their close friends, and want to only read about them being together. Not going into the past, or future, or any of that.
The last few books have strayed, though, to being almost only in Hunter's head, or in someone completely different's, and I'm not enjoying it all that much. It's still a good series, though, and I don't think there are that many left, though (fifteen, I think?), so I might just go get it and hurry through the last few.

Manga Review: Stepping on Roses, Volume 7, by Rinko Ueda

Rating (Out of 5): ~3 - 3.5
Publisher: VIZ Media (Shojo Beat)
Volumes: 8+

Goodreads Synopsis:

Poor Sumi Kitamura… Her irresponsible older brother Eisuke keeps bringing home orphans for her to take care of even though they can barely afford their own basic needs! Just when Sumi's financial problems become dire, wealthy Soichiro Ashida enters her life with a bizarre proposition: he'll provide her with the money she so desperately needs if she agrees to marry him. But can Sumi fool high society into thinking she's a proper lady? Moreover, is it worth giving up everything for this sham of a marriage?
Soichiro’s reputation becomes tainted when Sumi’s true background is exposed, and even his position as president of his company is threatened! Sumi feels terrible for the trouble she’s caused Soichiro, so she decides to leave him. Will Soichiro choose to let her go, or will he forsake everything for her instead?


This volume starts where the last volume ended: with Eisuke telling all of Soichiro's business partners that he's Sumi's brother. The business partners are outraged, and they tell Soichiro to resign, who refuses.
The thing that bothers me, though, is that Sumi feels really bad about it. Yea, she shouldn't have signed that paper, but Eisuke shouldn't have embezzled or asked her to in the first place. She should be mad at him, but instead she cries and decides to run back to her old home with the children.
Nozomu, meanwhile, offers to help Soichiro in exchange for Sumi, who refuses. He's realizing that he loves Sumi, and so runs after her and then gives up the company for her. He tells her he loves her, she's his wife, Nozoumi can't have her, and she cries.
Then he moves in with Sumi, in that run down house, where he's having a hard time finding a job and generally living like they do. He doesn't get along with Eisuke too much, it seems. He starts teaching the kids some, when he finds out that they aren't in school. Also, he tries to have some loving time with Sumi, which doesn't work because they are surrounded by kids (although that doesn't seem to bother them too much) and Eisuke interrupts them.
Meanwhile, Nozomu takes over the Ashida company, is not spending any time with his wife while trying to get a divorce, is planning a way to get Sumi, and then buys the land that their house is on, making it so they have to move, which is near impossible as they have no money.
I don't really understand how they have no money. How does Soichiro not have any money saved? And why can they not stay at his house? There's no mention of it, at all. Also, why did Soichiro have to resign? Yea, what happened with Eisuke was bad, but they shouldn't have been so judgmental just because Sumi is poor. (I guess because of what time it's set in, though...)
Anyway, Sumi decides to go talk to Nozomu (on her own), try to get him to not buy the land. He, instead, makes a move on her and asks her to be his wife.
Nozomu needs some serious help, okay? He's always pushing at Sumi, doing anything to sabotage her relationship with Soichiro (or anyone else, really) in order for her to see the good in him. In this volume, he gives her money 'out of the goodness in his heart', making her think he's maybe actually nice, while smirking as he leaves. Hell, he tried to kill himself and Sumi earlier in the series. He's psychotic, and needs to be put away.
And Sumi, needs to realize this. She needs to grow a backbone, push him away and do something for herself, instead of always taking care of everyone else and being the victim. It is seriously getting on my nerves.
Also about Sumi: we found out something new about her in this volume. Apparently Eisuke found her, lost, in a rose garden when she was a baby, and so she is now terrified of roses, only doesn't remember why. And, in a comic short at the end, that she asked for siblings when she was young, which I'm sure is why Eisuke was always bringing home kids. The part I liked moat about this, was that we got to Eisuke legitimately working for something, being a good, nice boy, as opposed to his gambling, womanizing ways now.
(Also in a comic short at the end, was a thing about how the author had a kid and was having a hard time raising her. I found it entertaining, and really interesting, how she doesn't enjoy it, but, you know, still love her child.)
Anyway. Despite all of the holes in the plot, among other things, that are bothering me, I am enjoying watching Soichiro live the poor life. He's quite terrible at it so far, and I'm looking forward to seeing him change, toughen up.
This wasn't a bad volume, though, just a bit bothersome at times. This series is just... an overly romanticized dramatic one. Which, I can't help but enjoy reading, even as it annoys me. So of course I will be reading the next one, whenever it is released.

Manga Review: Black Bird, Volume 12, by Kanoko Sakurakouji

Rating (Out of 5): ~3.5 or 4
Publisher: VIZ Media (Shojo Beat)
Volumes: 15+

VIZ Media Synopsis:

Sho’s manipulations have cast the demon world into chaos, and Kyo must leave the tengu village to help save the Kuzunoha clan from slaughter. But giving aid to one of his few remaining allies means he must leave Misao vulnerable to attack.
Kyo’s grandfather is able to cast a powerful shield over the tengu mansion, but while it keeps anyone from getting in, it also traps those who are inside. How can Misao justify locking herself away when Sho begins to menace the village’s most helpless members?


This is such a... long series. It's seeming to be dragging out, and I'm not enjoying the volumes as much as I'd like to. On a good note, though, this one was a bit better than the last few have been.
Hoki got hurt in the last volume, and so has to stay and protect Misao while everyone else goes out to fight, since the village is under attack. There's a spell on the village that creates some kind of maze that doesn't let anyone into the village, and some children trying to find Misao get lost in it, and so she tells them to lower it for a short moment so they can be found, and in result lets Sho in. He goes after her, and Ayame protects her, even when he tells her that they have Sagami. Ayame believes him, but doesn't move from in front of Misao.
We find out, later, that Ayame and Sagami have an agreement, where they would die for Kyo and Misao, over each other. Sagami told her he would choose them over her if he had to, before they married, and she vowed to do the same. It's sad, but, in a way, sweet. (I really enjoy their relationship, especially after finding this out. I would probably not mind chapters devoted only to them.)
Anyway, Ayame gets hurt, and Sho leaves. Later Misao sees the kids and gets stuck in the maze with them, and somehow calls for Kyo to come to her, summons him or something, which I guess is impressive, and gets out.
For the next bit, Sho moves on to capturing Kyo's men. He gets Hoki, who apparently can't differentiate between good and bad, and so willingly joins Sho after being push away from Sagami and the rest. He seems to feel a bit bad about it, even when he takes blood from Misao (willingly). Then Sho captures Zenki when he goes in to attack. We find out that Zenki has marks on his chest and earrings to keep in the uncontrollable demon that he is. Sho weakens him and then takes an earring out, which makes him attack everything/one in sight.
Something happens with Zenki by the end of the volume (which I won't spoil!) and we also find out what Hoki is up to, which Kyo is determined to stop him from doing.
We also find out that Sho is trying to make a drug similar to Misao's Senka Maiden blood. He's using his people as test subjects, and killing them in the midst, while trying to made them savages and crazy with addiction. Hoki makes one batch, (or something,) with her blood, which doesn't kill them.
This volume was pretty exciting, which was good. Hopfully the next one will be as well. I like that we're getting to see more of the Daitengu, getting to know each of them as a person. And while this volume had a lot of violence and tension, there were several fun moments. When we found out about Sagami and Ayame, for example, and there was a moment between Zenki and Misao, and a very hot scene between Misao and Kyo, as well as a cute, bonus one at the end where Kyo is worried Misao is feeling homesick.
One thing I'm hoping for, though, is Misao to get stronger. She tends to leave all the fighting and decision making to Kyo, and only does a lot of crying and supporting. She should learn to fight, and get some more confidence. She doesn't bother me as much as most in her position would, and have, but I want her to start actually doing something productive.
Oh, and a little of topic: I love the recent covers. How Sakurakouji started drawing characters on their own, instead of only Misao and Kyo together. I remember reading something (I don't remember where) about how she was going to start doing something different, as she was running out of ideas with only Misao and Kyo. Anyway, I like them.
So, I already have the next one, and will probably be reading it soon; so that review will be coming.

Manga Review: Kodocha: Sana's Stage, Volume 2, by Miho Obana

Rating (Out of 5): ~3.5 - 4
Publisher: Tokyopop
Volumes: 10

Goodreads Synopsis:

12-year old Sana Kurata is used to getting what she wants - even in love. Ever since she hired her manager, a man 10 years her senior who she calls her "gigalo," she thought it was true love. When Rei shows his feelings for a woman his own age, Sana realizes that Rei's feelings for her are anything but romantic. Sana has romantic problems at school, too, as now former-bully Hayama and mama's boy Tsuyoshi are vying for her affections.

I am really enjoying this series. (And am hoping that it's not going to become harder to find the other volumes, as the store I usually go to seems to be running out of out-of-print volumes.) (Also, the anime should be on instant on Netflix, because then I would have more of a chance of watching it.)
This volume starts with closing up Akito's unhappy family life, and moves on to Sana and Rei. Rei, who she claims to be her gigolo (which is terribly inaccurate, but a word she learned from one of her moms novels), she found homeless several years ago. Now he's living with her, and is her manager, and Sana believes they are in love. Sana does love him, but not in that way; and he loves her in a different way, and is only entertaining the idea.
Sana finds out that their relationship is not what she thinks when she discovers that her co-worker from the previous volume is also Rei's old girlfriend. They'd broken up because she couldn't focus on him and her career, but they still have feelings for each other. She deals with it pretty well, and later helps them get back together. Part of it is probably because she's also obsessing a bit over Akito, who kissed her during a field trip. (She asks him later why he did it, and he states “Because I don't hate you,” which we find has deeper meaning, and is so sweet.) It's cute seeing their feelings for each other grow. Akito realizes his feelings for Sana in this volume, calls Tsuyoshi his rival, and they both have a talk with Rei at one point. Sana hasn't realized any of it yet, though. Sana has helped him quite a bit, including when his father gets seriously sick in this volume, and he helped her through the Rei debacle and when her friends at school isolate her because of her being busy with work.
(This seemed a little dumb to me. Her friends got upset because she was always working and couldn't hang out with them after school. She didn't explain to them that Rei had set her up with too many commercials, and said that it was fine when Tsuyoshi and Akito ate with her instead, even though it was obviously bothering her. She should have explained it to them, and they shouldn't have been so abrupt with their decision, especially considering it took one apology for them to make up.)
A few times throughout the volume it's shown that something is wrong with Tsuyoshi, (also, that one of Sana's friends has a crush on him). When it's pointed out to Akito that Tsuyoshi, and his sister, aren't at school, he talks to the teacher, and then grabs Sana and they hurry away as the volume ends.
I think I remember something happening with him in the anime, but I don't remember exactly what, so I'm looking forward to finding out.
I'm really enjoying reading this series, and already have the next volume, so will be reading it soon.
It does still bother me when the author write notes within the story, though; a little differently in this volume, she'll have the characters reference Obana. It just seems... unprofessional, I guess? She did put little comics between chapters, though, where she had characters be weather reporters, which were cute and entertaining.
Also, it's funny to me that they're all sixth graders, when they act a bit older than that. They seem a little mature, while their humor doesn't. I'm not sure if it's accurate for them to be sixth graders, but it might be a bit more inaccurate for them to be older. But whatever.