Notice for Review Requests

I receive review requests weekly. However, my personal schedule is hectic and I no longer review actively. (I also manage another blog called The Toronto Cafe and Food Blog). I do read every request sent but I apologize in advance that I do not reply to them all.

If I do take on a request, I will forewarn that it may take some time before I can review it. I am now looking to review adult fiction and self-help books instead of young adult fiction because I have grown out of it. If you are to request a review for either adult fiction or self-help, I will more likely to give it a shot.

In the meantime, Stop, Drop, and Read! serves as an archive book review blog. When I have the time, I may post a review. Thank you for understanding.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Yellow the Dress Book Trailer

So, I got bored once exams were over. And since all of the roleplays I am in at the moment are slowly dying or I just lost interest in, there is nothing else to do. Sigh. Then I came up with a brilliant time-killer, to make a book trailer! Yay!

Of which book you ask? ...A fake one! Yep, indeed it's a fake one! I used a picture that I had taken of my sister in my old ballet costume and forced her to pose for me. This was done a couple of months ago and I had someone Deviantart to photoshop it so it can look more like a "real" cover. I have been dying to make a book trailer for awhile after seeing some amazing ones of a few YA novels.

I tried uploading it on Youtube earlier but it came out terribly and the audio got removed. Luckily, Blogger works out nicely and the pictures came out clear! So what do you think? =D Be gentle, this is my first making anything with Windows Movie Maker.

Hmm... Now I wish Yellow the Dress is a real book... Hopefully I will make more in the future. =) Got any ideas I can aim for later?

video

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Gotcha! by Shelley Hrdlitschka

Title: Gotcha!
Author: Shelley Hrdlitschka
Age Group: Teens
# of Pages: 259
My Rating: 5/5

Every year, the graduating students of Slippery Rock High plays a traditional game called Gotcha. Every participant is given a set of beads and a person that they need to tag. The goal is to collect as much beads from the other players as possible. The prize? A nice sum of cash.

Since it is banned due to the dangerous conditions a few previous students accidentally slipped into, the game goes underground. This year, the grade twelve students are excited to play Gotcha more than ever!

Katie is a role model student who is dragged by her best friend, Paige, into playing the game. At first, she refuses and tries to back out, thinking it is all stupid. Then she does something that gives her no choice but to become the Gotcha winner. Trying to get through the game, it becomes more life-threatening as the number of people untagged decreases. Katie loses her friends, her thrust among her peers, and possibly what she worked for her whole life.

The author have weaved a touching and realistic story about teen protagonist struggling to deal with her own personal problems and the ones around her. Katie is a girl you can feel sympathetic for even when her actions are wrong. Her betrayal to her friend may seem terrible at first but you need to be in her shoes before saying anything. Her home life is not so great either. She lives with an overweight mother who makes cookies constantly and her father just one day packed up and left. The teen is working hard to earn scholarships so she can break free from the environment she is in. I am quite envious of her. She is such a hard worker and it shows through. Me on the other hand is quite lazy and is addicted to the internet. I wish I am more studious like Katie.

The story totally grabbed my attention on the first page. I love how just one game sets off a series of misfortune. When a group of teens who are addicted to something, it can become quite scary. This novel reveals how frightening the human race can be. Gotcha is like a mind drug to Katie's classmates, tearing apart friendships and possible limbs as everyone is out to get each other. I could not put down the book and finished it as quickly as I could.

From beginning to end, the whole novel is gripping. I recommend this novel to every teen out there! Especially to the fans of I Know It's Over, another fantastic story written by the Canadian author, C.K. Kelly Martin.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Watching on Wednesday: Bride Wars

Title: Bride War
Type: Movie
Age Group: Teens +
Release Year: 2009
My Rating: 4.5/5

All of their life, Liv (Kate Hudson) and Emma (Anne Hathaway) have been dreaming of their perfect wedding. Liv is a successful lawyer at a big company and Emma is a teacher at an elementary school. Both have contrasting personalities; Liv likes to do things her way and will do anything to obtain what she wants, while Emma is soft-spoken and thinks the best of everyone. Nothing can tear the two best friends apart! Or so they thought.

Both lovely ladies are proposed to (finally!) by their boyfriends. Yay! ...Right?

They go to reserve at the Plaza Hotel, a location they wanted to hold their weddings since forever. Apparently, their dates got mixed up and the new brides are going to have their special day on the same day! Chaos and appearance-killing plans let loose when the two new rivals try to ruin the other one's wedding!

I went to watch this movie with a couple of friends last night and I was definitely not disappointed! I love both characters and the plot of the movie. Both Liv and Emma are unique in their own way letting their position stand out. There is plenty of humour and a few emotional moments. It's interesting to see how Anne tackles on this role of Emma. She has gone a long way since the Princess Diaries and I think she is a fantastic actress. (I adore her in Get Smart!) I'm sure almost every girl would love this new chick flick! I know I do as it is one of my new favourite movies! I totally recommend it to the fans of 27 Dresses (another fantastic wedding movie).

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Work What You Got by Stephanie Perry Moore

Title: Work What You Got
Author: Stephanie Perry Moore
Age Group: Teens
# of Pages: 215
My Rating: 3/5

Hayden Grant is finally in her second year of college. And she is determined to become a member of the Beta Gamma Pi sorority. Thinking that her three best friends are going to join her, she finds out they all changed their minds! No matter, she will continue to pursue her dream.

Signing up to become a Beta, Hayden is looking forward to becoming an influential member with great beliefs and be able to help out within the community. But she never expects the sort of things that she and the other candidates has to go through to become one...

This is my first Christian novel that I have read and as expected, there was a lot of messages thrown in. For example, it is important to follow your heart and know that God is always watching. So on and so forth. I find the whole novel cramped with them and I don't like it at all. It draws away from having an actual story to read. Not only that, but everything flew by so quickly! I like my stories to start off at a decent pace then shoot off when it builds up later on. In the beginning, Hayden meets the gorgeous Creed who was in her classes last year. The second they met, BAM, they were going out already. This made me go, "Wha?" because the author did not give them a chance to get to know each other properly. Character and relationship development is key to a good story. Work What You Got has a lot of slang also. I got used to it pretty quickly but I'm rarely read stories with an African-American protagonist. I don't want to sound racist in any way but I prefer my characters to be white (or at least oriental Asian because there is such a low number of that also). Maybe because about 95% of YA novels, the main character is fair-skinned that I'm used to visualizing them as so instead of dark-skinned.

Overall, Work What You Got is not a bad read but it is definitely not something I would read for pleasure. Too many messages to comprehend and everything was predictable. Someone who is Christian may enjoy it more than I did.

Review ARC copy provided by Book Divas.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Heaven's Will by Satoru Takamiya

Title: Heaven's Will
Mangaka: Satoru Takamiya
Age Group: Teens
# of Pages: Approx. 200
# of Volumes: 1
My Rating: 4/5

You either believe in the supernatural or you don't. Sudou Mikuzu is a person who is scared of such. Of course it is natural for a girl to dislike things of horror. Sadly, the horror is Sudou's reality. She has a special ability to see the dead and otherworldly creatures. To make it worse, they are constantly drawn to her!

While running away from a pursuing monster, she reaches the "haunted mansion". There, she finds a beautiful blonde girl named Seto. No wait, she's a boy?? Well, he is able to exorcise spirits and is the master of a handsome lone vampire named Kagari, who can turn into a wolf. In return for getting rid of Sudou's ghosts everytime they chase her, she has to give Seto cake everyday! During her time with the two, Sudou finds out a secret that may change her perspective about her new friends forever...

In the beginning, I wasn't drawn to the plot. It wasn't attention grabbing. It lacks action, comedy, and romance in my eyes. But it earned its ratings because of the characters. I was looking forward to see how each one would develop. The mangaka builds up the tension, making you wonder if Sudou will fall in love. Sadly to say that since there is only one volume, not a lot of events have occurred. I am quite disappointed because it gets better as I continued reading and then the author suddenly left it hanging. Two volumes would have been a perfect wrap up. Or three to give it more plot lines and possible twists. It has great potential if more thought was added to it. I hope this manga will be picked up again but I doubt it'll happen. Heaven's Will is a cute and touching story, you just need to have a bit of patience so you can grow to like it.

Review copy provided by Viz.

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In My Mailbox - VIII

To do your own In My Mailbox, please check out how to at The Story Siren!

The Borrowed

None

The Bought

None

The Received



Heaven's Will by Satoru Takamiya

Ah, I got lazy and didn't feel like going to the library yesterday. I have to catch up on my reading anyway. I still have a couple of borrowed books from my last In My Mailbox post that I still have to get to. Since mangas are quick to read, I will have a review for Heaven's Will up today or tomorrow.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell

Title: Beat the Reaper
Author: Josh Bazell
Age Group: Adults
# of Pages: 310
My Rating: 4.5/5

Peter Brown is a doctor in a Manhattan hospital with a killer past. His real name is Pietro "Bearclaw" Brwna and once was part of the mafia. Why does he have a job to save peoples' lives when all he did before was kill? It first started when his grandparents, the only loving family he had, were murdered when he was still a freshman in high school. He had no idea who the culprits were and wanted revenge. Soon enough he became friends with Adam "Skinflick" Locano, who's family is in the mafia. The father, David Locano, is your typical lawyer so no regular person would curiously pry into his background for dirty information. He welcomed Pietro with open arms.

After officially becoming part of the "family" with the Locanos, complications started to arise a few years later. Pietro's life and the people close to him became endangered. He managed to break free from his old reputation to come back as a new man.

Today, Dr. Brown meets up with a new patient who has three more months left to live due to cancer. Apparently, the man knows the doctor during the days he was called Bearclaw. Just when Peter thinks he is free from the dark side, he may be running into the faces he erased from his previous life once more. Time is ticking and the pressure is on. Peter have to fight against the reaper and find a way to stay alive... again.

Before reading Beat the Reaper, I briefly scanned another review of it. I only glanced at it for like thirty seconds but I remember that it mentioned there is a lot of sex, drugs, and violence. And boy, the person wasn't kidding. If you don't think you are mature enough, don't read it. (But I'm sure you are!)

The main character draws the reader in the most. Peter's/Pietro's personality is engaging, making you wonder what he'll say next. He has a sarcastic humour and swears in every other sentence but is also sharp-minded, coming up with tactics you will not believe so he can save himself. I wonder if I'll ever meet someone like him.

The story sucks you in, especially with a voice like Peter/Pietro. It alternates back and forth from the present to the past so the reader is able to understand what had happen and is happening now to the protagonist. Most of the time, I dislike it when the story jumps back and forth between time. But Mr. Bazell skillfully written in a manner that is hard to tear your eyes away from the page. There were times where I was lost with what Peter is saying. He uses big terms that I do not understand. But the great thing about this book? Medical terms or words a common person may not know will have a definition of at the bottom of the page! I also love how everything wraps up all so nicely at the end. There are times where you may be lost but this book can not be overlooked! Plus, it's educational!

Review copy provided by Hachette Book Group.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cowa! by Akira Toriyama

Title: Cowa!
Mangaka: Akira Toriyama
Age Group: Youth
# of Pages: Approx. 200
#of Volumes: 1
My Rating: 4.5/5

Batwing Ridge is a small town full of monsters. From mummies to ghosts, you can find them all! But no worries, they are a friendly bunch!

Meet Paifu, a half vampire and half werekoala who tends to run into trouble. His ghost pal, José, tags along but is always afraid to get caught in Paifu's stunts. Their days are full of fun and surprises!

One day, everyone in town catches the Monster Flu! (A flu that only monsters can get). Fearing that the monsters may die like many years ago from the same breakout, someone has to go across to the other side of the land to find the witch has the cure. Paifu decides to try and convince the ex-sumo human wrestler, Mr. Marumaya, to aide him on this long journey. The human man will be immune to the sickness and has a car that will save them time. He will only agree to help if the town gives him $10, 000 in return. Paifu knows that they do not have that much amount of money so he lies that they will.

Along the way, Paifu and the gang, runs into some difficulties. As more time is being wasted, more monsters are getting sicker by the moment. Will the medicine be brought back in time?

This is such an adorable story! At first, I was unsure if I wanted to read it because the creator made the all-famous Dragonball Z and as a kid until now, I never liked Dragonball Z. (The characters are way too buff for me. I was more of a Sailor Moon fan). After a couple of pages, I was hooked by the characters liveliness and charm. One of the many amusing parts is when Paifu turns into a werekoala. How? By looking at anything cross-shaped for over three seconds! To turn him back to normal, he must look at something round. José will have to transform into a ball to calm down his friend. I adore the ghost so much!

It's funny and has a voice that all children would love! If you want to let a child read a manga but is unsure what is appropriate, pick up Cowa! Also, you don't have to fork over money to buy the whole series cause it's all in one volume!

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One♥Pound Gospel by Rumiko Takahashi

Title: One♥Pound Gospel
Mangaka: Rumiko Takahashi
Age Group: Teens
# of Pages: Approx. 210
# of Volumes: 4
My Rating: 3/5

Kosaku Hatanaka is a young and talented featherweight boxer. His coach dreams big for Kosaku but sadly, the boy is continuously shoving food in his mouth! All boxers have to stay healthy and be in a certain range of weight. Gaining a few pounds over the limit can penalize the boxer from his competition! Sister Angela is a nun who forgives all of Kosaku gluttonous sins. He likes her very much and tries his hardest when she's around.Will she be able to encourage him to becoming the best he can be?

Definitely not my favourite series by Rumiko. It lacks the attention grabbing humor that Ranma 1/2 has and the action-packed fantasy that Inuyasha has. It's slow and the characters were none too exciting. I didn't like religious part in the book either. The characters are quite normal and I see that she is popular for her abnormal characters in her stories. Maybe if there is some sort of twist to the plot, it'll surely be more interesting. (There might be by the second volume but I'm unsure if I will pick it up). Surprisingly there's only four volumes in this series. I am so used to seeing her work stretch on for many volumes. I am curious to know if she is going to make a new series since Inuyasha finally ended (terribly) after over fifty volumes.

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In My Mailbox - VII

To do your own In My Mailbox, please check out how to at The Story Siren!

The Borrowed



Gotcha! by Shelly Hrdlitschka
The Kindachi Case Files: The Undying Butterflies by Yozaburo Kanari (Story) & Fumiya Sato (Art)
Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan

The Bought

None

The Received



Work What You Got by Stephanie Perry Moore

I was so happy yesterday when I got the latest Kindaichi volume that my library ordered and finished it all last night! The best manga mystery series ever! And I finally found the first volume of Cirque du Freak! It was back in my mind in the past since many people praised it so I wanted to see how scary it really is! Hopefully I won't be disappointed or too scared... And finally, I got a review book in my mailbox after like two weeks. I'm so happeee!

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Black Sheep by Yvonne Collins & Sandy Rideout

Title: The Black Sheep
Author: Yvonne Collins & Sandy Rideout
Age Group: Teens
# of Pages: 348
My Rating: 3/5

Kendra Bishop lives in a house strictly base on rules. Her family even own a thick binder full of them! She learns to tolerate with her banker parents and their weird ways. Until they fired her favourite nanny, Rosa, for not following the rules.

Furious, Kendra writes up a letter to the reality show called The Black Sheep. It's where two different teens that are sick of their own family get to switch places to experience a new atmosphere. For a whole month, the teen and their host family would be filmed for the show and be watched throughout all of North America.

A month later the filming crew appears on Kendra's doorsteps, giving her quite a shock! Unable to refuse, she is immediately sent over to California to stay with the hippy Mulligan family. With the producer breathing down her neck constantly and causing drama, Kendra tries to balance her new found stardom and her first love for the oldest son, Mitch Mulligan. What will happen when the show exaggerates to truth, making everyone turn against her?

I think all of the characters are way too one-dimensional. Kendra is basically a "good girl" living in an overbearing family who barely makes contact with the outside world. (Her best friend Lucy has to give her information about the latest celebrities so she won't get lost when her peers start talking about entertainment!) After meeting the nature loving Mulligans, she soon fall in love with an otter in the aquarium near their home. She makes a protest group to protect the otters' environment when a rich golf club is planning to use the habitat for their business. I find this part of Kendra very tacked in. As in used only to make her seem "deeper". Then again, she would be even more of a bore without her love for the otters. Same goes for Mitch. His character seems to contradict. At first he is seen a jerk. But then after, he becomes a nice guy (and it continues going back and forth)! I wish his personality is more concrete and should have went through some sort of dilemma to transits his character development more smoothly.

The whole novel seemed fly by as being bleh. I was falling asleep on it and there is nothing that stood out to me to let me remember about it a year from now if I didn't make this review. I am disappointed because I was told that it's a good novel. Maybe if the authors thought about the characters more carefully and added more twists to the plot, it may turn out better.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

The Butterfly Award!

I have been awarded by *Reading is a drug* once again and I am quite honoured. Below are the rules.

1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded you.
3. Award up to ten other blogs.
4. Add links to those blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message for your awardees on their blogs.

Last time I have awarded seven different blogs with the I Love Your Blog Award so this time to spread more love, I will post up ten other cool blogs!

1. All My Little Words...C.K. Blogs - C.K. Kelly Martin is fantastic author of I Know It's Over who has many great opinions on different topics!

2. Dog Fact #9 - A.S. King is the author of the almost released, The Dust of 100 Dogs! Tune in every Wednesday to discover about different dogs and she hosts many great contests!

3. Liana's Paper Doll Blog - Liana is an amazing artist who makes cut-out dresses and clothes! She even made me a lovely gown for a character of mine! Thank you! (Liana - Sadly I was unable to present the dress since the roleplay with my partner died before we got to the ball scene. But I shall use it for my future roleplays! Your hard work will not go to waste!)

4. Linda Gerber, YA Author - Popular author of the Death by ___ series! She host a weekly contest so you can win some prizes!

5. MangaBlog - An informative blog all about manga! My manga reviews are sometimes posted there!

6. Reviewer X - A YA fiction review blog with a lot of spunk and honesty!

7. Tera Lynn Childs - Author of Oh.My.Gods and Goddess Boot Camp. She has a short story up about her character's stepsister, check it!

8. The Book Muncher - A fantastic YA fiction review blog!

9. The Chick Manifesto - A fabulous blog with many different books reviews and has the Groovy Advice for Hip Chicks posts that are very fun to read!

10. The Compulsive Reader - Another great YA fiction review blog!

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Watching on Wednesday: Kung Fu Panda

Title: Kung Fu Panda
Type: Movie
Age Group: Youth
Release Year: 2008
My Rating: 5/5

Po is a giant panda living in China who comes from a noodle-making family. He dreams of meeting the Furious Five, consisting of five different animals with sharp and hard-hitting kung-fu skills. He desires to go on exciting adventures like they do and escape his boring life of serving food.

With his wish granted, Po unexpectedly becomes chosen by the tortoise, Master Oogway, as the Dragon Warrior who will save the Valley of Peace from future destruction. Neglected by the Furious Five and Master Shifu due to his untrained background, Po refuses to leave. Until news came back that the ferocious criminal Tai Lung have escaped from prison and heading right to the valley! Afraid, Po wants to leave so he doesn't have to face the infamous snow leopard but Shifu enforces him to stay. To have long training hours with the use of food, will Po be able to defeat Tai Lung and live up to be the Dragon Warrior?

This is one heck of great animation! I watched it last night and I fully enjoyed it from beginning to end! Even my father was laughing several times because of Po's adorable reactions. This movie is totally recommended for everyone! Especially to those who love Monster Inc. and Finding Nemo. It is a great entertainment for the whole family and has jaw-dropping graphics! (The fight scenes are simply the best!)

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hot Blooded Woman by Hwang Mi Ri

Title: Hot Blooded Woman
Mangaka: Hwang Mi Ri
Age Group: Older Teens
# of Pages: Approx. 150
# of Volumes: 24
My Rating: 5/5

Ha Ji Kang was once a gentle little girl who enjoyed knitting. Seeing that she was too soft, her older brothers decided to make her their slave so she could be "tamed". After growing up from being bullied by her brothers, she is now a fearless and gluttonous jjang (a gangster leader of a school)! Not to mention clueless too!

While she and her gang are speeding through the streets on their motorcycles, Ha Ji collides into an oncoming truck! Her soul is released and she meets a soul collector. Shortly her soul enters a body, but not of her own! She accidentally emerged into the body of the silent and rich beauty Aram, who is constantly bullied when she is disguised as a plain girl at school. The soul collector follows around Ha Ji who pretends to be her, fearing the body would be damaged before Aram's soul returns. But with Ha Ji's personality and Aram's appearance, it cause havocs of up and downs! Enter Sin Uoo, a handsome young man who Aram is madly in love with. He hates her with a passion and has a cold personality that is covered up with his "poker face". Ha Ji thinks he is a worthy opponent. Wanting to fight him to take the position of jjang, she continuously follows him around until he gives in. What will happen when the two fall in love and with danger lurking in every corner?

This series took me three to four days to complete. And like the artist's other manhwa, Cutie Boy, I loved it. I have to admit I picked it up about five times and kept putting it down (or more like exiting the window) because I didn't like how the first couple of pages started off. Once the motorcycle scene appeared about two chapters later, I was instantly hooked. It kept my attention 100% until volume 19 where everything started to slow down. At that point I rate it a 4/5. I kept on reading until I finished. The ending wasn't the best but it wasn't terrible either. I liked the surpise of what happened in the future for the core characters. I thought that the artist lost her touch near the end where all the suspense and violence was used up in the beginning and middle.

In my review for Cutie Boy, I mentioned that she twisted all stereotypes with her own touch. This time, no matter which character you hate, you will end up pitying them at one point. I find that it takes quite a skill for someone to make you feel sorry for a villain (since there are few throughout). My favourite character got to be Han Seo (main villian and Ha Ji's best friend). He is a psychopath who likes to hurt people when he is bored. But he is so darn awesome! He sticks out to be my favourite bad boy in manhwas because this guy is completely insane but is pretty good looking while he is at it.

The only plot hole I found is when Sin Uoo and Han Seo figured out that Ha Ji was Aram after she came back into her own body. Why didn't they question how it is possible for a person to be the same as another? They accepted without asking much and that bothered the heck out of me! And I also found that it should have been shorter to maybe 15 volumes instead. I would prefer it around ten max but other than that, I love Hot Blooded Woman.

I have to sadly report that none of Hwang Mi Ri's works have still not been licensed. She made so many other series and I'm sure some manga companies could benefit from her work. If you want to read this, please go www.mangafox.com. There's a lot of violence involved.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Song of the Hanging Sky by Toriko Gin

Title: Song of the Hanging Sky
Mangaka: Toriko Gin
Age Group: Older Teens
# of Pages: Approx. 200
# of Volumes: 2
My Rating: 4.5/5

Jack once worked in the military as a doctor during the war. Now he lives alone with his dog, Gustave, out near the mountains. During a huge blizzard, he finds a young boy out cold. The doctor immediately brings back to safety and warmth. When the child wakes up, he feels threatened. Jack soon realizes that he is not human!

The boy is from an endangered race of winged people. Their number is decreasing rapidly and soon enough, the Day of Destruction would come to wipe out their existence! With the war coming closer to the mountains, the terrible fated day approaches also. Will Hello and his people escape the prophecy? Is there anything Jack can do to protect them?

I think the character designs are quite intriguing. The winged characters are all based off of the Aboriginal people and their traditions. They live a nomad life in fur tents and their clothing are all hand-made from what is found in nature. Not only that but each winged person's hairstyle is based off a different breed of bird. I find it quite creative and fun to observe.

The story takes on a very steady approach and gradually unravel itself as you continue reading on. In the second volume, it gets dark when it takes a slip back into the past of this unknown and isolated race. It builds up suspense, making you itch to see what is next. Song of the Hanging Sky is a beautifully woven story of innocence and sorrow that you would like to snuggle up with by a fireplace.

Review copy provided by Go! Comi.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

In My Mailbox - VI

To do your own In My Mailbox, please check out how to at The Story Siren!

The Borrowed



Kitchen Princess vol. 1-3 by Miyuki Kobayashi and Natsumi Ando
Sugar Sugar Rune vol. 2-3 by Moyoco Anno
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Drawing Manga Shoujo Illustrated
Comickers Art: Tools and Techniques for Drawing Amazing Manga

The Bought

None

The Received

None

I wasn't planning to go to the library yesterday. Sadly, someone requested three books that was due that day before I was able to renew it. So! I picked up my requested mangas and a couple of new how-to-draw-manga artbooks! (I'm sure I won't bother trying to practice from them...) I still have several mangas from nearly a month before that I still was unable to get around to. Unfortunately, I have a new manga series that I am hooked to online! I am frustrated at the fact that it has 24 volumes! (Currently on vol. 15 since I started last night). Lol, you can see that I am reading it on the computer screen! Which series? You'll have to wait to find out. ;)

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Houston, We Have a Problema by Gwendolyn Zepeda

Title: Houston, We Have a Problema
Author: Gwendolyn Zepeda
Age Group: Older Teens
# of Pages: 392
My Rating: 4/5

What kind of person are you? Can you make up your mind on the spot when it comes to deciding what to do for a big problem? Or are you very indecisive, unable to choose between more than one option?

Meet Jessica Luna. She is your average 26 years old Mexican woman living in the US working for an insurance company and have been dating the sexy painter, Guillermo, for months now. Wait, is she? Every time they meet, it would just be hot sex and once they are done, he doesn't get in touch with her for days. Whenever things get rickety, he would do something that would make her fall madly back into his strong arms. Absolutely frustrated, Jessica is unsure what their relationship really is. Then there is her career. She is encouraged to get promoted with her job but at the same time, she wonders if this is what she really wants. Throw in some family tensions and there are more than enough problems for her to balance out!

No idea what to do, Jessica seek her answers from the fortuneteller Madame Hortensia. Believing in signs from the great beyond, will her life run smoothly in the future?

Houston, We Have a Problema is your basic chick lit novel. Jessica runs into a lot of difficulties because she has no idea how to deal with situations when they become complicated. She decides to go out with the vice-president of a big company since Guillermo never stated that they were "official" with their on-and-off romantic affair. She tries to understand herself and judges people by who they are. Jessica's character develops greatly when she realizes many things that she was oblivious to in the past.

As a person, I can relate very much to the main character. Like her, I am the most indecisive person you would ever meet. If you don't tell me what to choose between two items I like equally, I will stand there for two hours just to decide. (Most of the time I just give up and don't bother choosing either.) Seeing what Jessica's lifestyle is like makes me question a lot about my future also. I like it when I can relate to characters because that way it is easier to enjoy the story. I find it quite funny how she dishes over her money for the "charm" products that Madame Hortensia sell to her, thinking that they are magical.

In the beginning, I thought the story was a bit slow. Eventually it picks up after a few chapters and had a steady flow of plot from there. I'm sure I would get bored watching it if it became a movie but as a book, it is not so bad. I'm sure this novel can be enjoyed by many female readers and there are many lessons to be learned throughout.

Review copy provided by Hachette Book Group.

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Masque of the Red Death by Wendy Pini

Title: Masque of the Red Death
Comic Artist: Wendy Pini
Age Group: Adults
# of Pages: 184
# of Volumes: 3
My Rating: 2/5

In the robotic-clean future, everything you see around you will be greatly advanced. People over a hundred years old look like they are only forty, there are machines that clear away the litter in the malls, and you can even change your skin colour to blue!

Anthon Prosper became heir to his father's grand fortune once he died. Using his power and money, he searches for the ultimate impossible: a way to beat death. Enter Steffan Kabala. This beautiful male wins over Anthon and changes his life forever.

Okay, the first thing I thought when I finished this comic was, "What in the world was everyone saying?". I felt like I was reading Shakespeare all over again. And I mean it quite literally. The way the characters spoke was a whole new language to me. Is it because I am not old enough to understand the words that could only be reserved for adults? Maybe.

The characters were drawn too masculine for my liking, especially since Anthon and Steffan are homosexual. I have read some yaoi (Japanese hardcore boyxboy manga) in the past and nothing annoys me more than two very manly men screwing each other. I also think the faces are too one-dimensional. The only character design that I like is Fronda, the daughter of Anthon's father's rival. I don't find the art appealing other than that.

There is no way I can ever pick up the next volume. If I have a sense of where everything is going, I would add more things to this review but I honestly don't. It's not my cup of tea.

Review copy provided by Go! Comi.

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Sunday, January 4, 2009

In My Mailbox - V

To do your own In My Mailbox, please check out how to at The Story Siren!

Sadly, I got nothing this week. I was supposed to go to the library yesterday but I ended up volunteering for the local food bank that I did not get the chance. Well, good thing is that I'm slowly clearing up the books I have to review! Hopefully I will be able to have an adult novel review up soon since I am halfway done. There is another graphic novel review that will be posted tomorrow or so. (When will I ever go back to my young adult novel review days? Soon I hope, soon).

The Borrowed

None

The Bought

None

The Received

None

Since I have nothing to brag about, what did you guys get throughout the week? New Years just passed so I'm sure you got some cool presents!

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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Cross X Break by Duo Brand.

Title: Cross X Break
Mangaka: Duo Brand.
Age Group: Older Teens
# of Pages: Approx. 200
# of Volumes: 4
My Rating: 4.5/5

Akito Fudo is a short-for-his-age ninth grader who is constantly being overshadowed by his older brother, Shinkai. His father is a governor who is never around for his two sons. Akito lives a normal life. Until one day his brother decided that he should go to "boarding school".

Shocked by the news, Akito demanded to know the reason for him going to one. The reply was "Don't you want to see the world?". After a sip of tea, the boy fell unconscious. He then woke up to find himself underground on a pile of giant mushrooms! Yuck! With no idea where he was, his friend Yaya was trapped with him also!

During their attempt to find a way out, a couple of men found them when they reached an opening to the above ground. They demanded Akito and Yaya to show their "code". Akito had no idea what they meant and thus, they attacked him. Barely survived, the two kids were saved by a strange bug-eating man named Neon, who explained to them that they were in another world.

In this world, everyone has a code/tattoo on their body. It states their status and where they are from. The warlocks are among the strongest and what the reader would consider the "dictators". If a person does not have a code or is banned from their home place due to crime, they are considered a "floater". Warlocks kill any floater they encounter without mercy.

Thrown into a completely different dimension where he knows nothing, Akito have to discover the reason for him being here and if he'll ever get back to Tokyo. But with the warlocks out to get him, will he get back home alive?

This manga touches a lot on discrimination. I find it quite interesting since not many series has this topic, especially the way it is incorporated into the story. For example, every single person from the location called the Song Wall have to know how to sing. And if you don't? It is considered a crime and you can possibly be executed. Funny how it works, huh? It is not so different for people in real life. History have proven how twisted the human race can be. Take the Holocaust from WWII for example. If you are not German, blue-eyed and blonde, you will be killed. If you are Jewish, that is an automatic guaranteed death. It is the same for Cross X Break's world.

I like how random this manga is. It is like grabbing a bunch of different ingredients and mixing them together with a giant wooden spoon. For example, there are these mushrooms that can glow for a long period of time. Since floaters live underground to hide from the warlocks, they use these mushrooms as a lighting source. Bugs are a staple diet for the people living in in Song Wall (that is where Neon comes from), which Akito find is revolting because Neon can just grab a random bug lying around and stuff his face like is was chocolate. (The way they make how delicious bug food sounds makes me want to try some also!) The amazing part is even with the randomness, the mangakas are able to make it serious without getting out of hand!

Another thing I love about the series are the characters. Haran is one of my favourite male character. He appears near the end of the first volume and he is known as a "skipper". A skipper is a person who has access to different levels of this world, so they are able to travel around freely. Each group of people are stuck in their own location, unable to have the freedom that a skipper does. Haran is the type of guy to only do things that benefits him and has a brotherly complex.

Most of the time, I would dislike the main female character because they get in the way. But Yaya is such a humble, down-to-earth strange darling that it is hard to hate her! I just want to pinch her cheeks sometimes!

To sum it up, great series so far (from just the first two volumes) with plenty of action, comedy, and suspense! There are a couple of things unanswered, like what is Shinkai's motive and who is he really? I'm sure within time, all will be answered as I continue to read it. There are hints of shonen-ai (boys' love) but sadly, I have a feeling that nothing will happen except the more scenes will show up and tease the audience.

Review copy provided by Go! Comi.

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Friday, January 2, 2009

07-Ghost by Yuki Amemiya & Yukino Ichihara

Title: 07-Ghost
Mangaka: Yuki Amemiya & Yukino Ichihara
Age Group: Older Teens
# of Pages: Approx. 200
# of Volumes: 7
My Rating: 3.5/5

Teito Klein is a prized student at the Barsburg Empire Military Academy with a forgotten past. With a history of being a slave and orphan, he is very independent besides having his only best friend, Mikage, to support him.

After an exam of magical combat, Teito passed by a room to hear he was being praised about. Then he heard that he was a potential candidate for something called the Eye of Mikhail. Teito's head started to hurt as locked up memories flooded in like a hurricane. Seeing the man who killed his father right in front of him, he charged to attack without any second thoughts. This immediately made him an enemy and was ready to be executed.

Mikage came to the rescue but was captured in Teito's stead. Teito was saved when he fell unconcious during his escape by three strange priests. He was brought back to a church in another district where he was safe for the time being. There he learned about an evil god and the seven legendary ghosts. He also learned a dark secret that would change his life forever...

The terminology of the story is a bit confusing. Since the setting is in a fantasy world, everything is different. So there would be a made up history and so on. I don't think the mangakas have explained the setting well enough for me to understand the whole story. But the reader can grasp the basics of what is going on. I have a doubt that it would be easier to understand in the later volumes. There are times where I get a bit lost with what is happening since the mangakas want the reader to piece everything together on their own. I see there are small hints of it being a potential shonen-ai (light boys' love) story since there are no core female characters yet in the first volume. Overall it is a very consisting manga but the storyline does not enthrall me to check out the second volume.

Review copy provided by Go! Comi.

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Watching on Wednesday: Naruto (Volume 30)

First of all, I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year of 2009! My plans are to finish re-reading the amazing manga series, MeruPuri, for tonight. I did so last year and it is the perfect way to end off the year as a manga fanatic! (I promise myself to do it as a tradition every year just before the New Year! Well, that is if I don't have any other plans like now...) I just completed up to volume 3 and realized that I read it too fast before it can have that "special" effect on me like it did before. So after this review and a couple of other things, I will go and take in volume 4 slowly so I can bawl my eyes out at the end. Yeah, I'm such an emotional girl... I just have to cry every time on New Years... Anyway, onward with the review and bless you with a great year ahead!

Title:
Naruto (Volume 30)
Type: Show
Age Group: Teens
Release Year: 2008
My Rating: 4.5/5

Now it is down to the battles with Kiba, Shikamaru, and Naruto. Each of them are fighting a sound ninja on their own in separate locations, trying to defeat their enemy.

Kiba and his pup, Akamaru, have to deal with the twins, Sakon and Ukon. With abilities to merge into other peoples' bodies, Kiba is at a disadvantage when one of them decided to take over his. How to get rid of the enemy when they are now part of you?

Shikamaru is outnumbered when Tayuya brings out her three giant puppets. She controls them with her flute, promising that he will never live to hear to the end of the song. As Shikamaru dodges the violent attacks, he tries to figure out how to get out of this mess.

In the meantime, Naruto brings out his clones by hundreds as he try to beat down Kimimaro. Kimimaro reveals one of his special ability: to use his own bone as a weapon! Right after, Sasuke emerges from his coffin! Naruto tries to convince him to come back but he ran away laughing like a mad man! What had gotten into him? Rock Lee makes a grand entrance as he try to stall Kimimaro so Naruto can chase after Sasuke. During their battle, Rock Lee pauses to take a sip of his "medication" when in reality he accidentally took Tsunade's elixir! Guy fears for Rock Lee's wellbeing when he finds out because the drink brings out a completely different side of him! Will he be able to beat Kimimaro now that the elixir may have tipped the scale?

I have to say, this volume was not so bad! I actually enjoyed most of it! Especially at the end when Rock Lee came along. He balanced out the seriousness that held on for more than ten episodes with his humourous stunts. It was getting good when the whole thing ended! I swear to god I was ready to smash the new TV in my grandmother's room at that point! This time I really do want to continue watching the show to see the outcome of the fights. Like before, there were some random flashbacks but they weren't as bad as before. It gives you a bit more background information on the characters instead of showing random clippings of an old episode. Naruto fans would not be so disappointed with The Beast Within!

Review copy provided by Viz.

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