Posted in Book Review, Manga Review, Reading

Manga that I Recommend (#3)

Previous Editions: 5 Manga that I Recommend | 5 More Manga I Recommend

*Remember to read Right to Left*


#11.) Dengeki Daisy

Genre: Romance, School Life, Mystery, Drama

Author: Motomi Kyousuke

Chapters: 80

Summary: Teru lost her older brother, her only living relative, to cancer while in middle school. Before he died, he gave her a cell phone she could use to contact his “replacement”, an entity called Daisy. Teru knows nothing about this person, besides the fact that their reassurance and comfort was the only reason she got up in the morning. Daisy is closer to her than she realizes and may not be the angel she believes him to be.

My Rating: An absolutely beautiful story. It gets a bit slow and tedious at parts, but they can be skipped over with little impact. Teru is a protagonist any reader will love and sympathize with.


#12.) Until Death Do Us Part

Genre: Action, Martial Arts, Drama

Author: Takashige Hiroshi

Chapters: 214

Summary: Haruka is a twelve-year-old girl with precognitive abilities (she can see into the future). She’s being targeted by criminal organizations all over the world and is kidnapped after finding her parents murdered in their home. Using her power, she sees the one and only person who can help her – a blind samurai struggling to live in modern society. He’s interested in the prospect of having more enemies to test his strength against and agrees to protect her “until death do them part”.

My Rating: The martial arts ranting can be a bit annoying, but I just skim through it and get to the action. I would’ve liked to see more interaction between Haruka and her bodyguard because they’re both immature and sarcastic, making a hilarious pair. Overall, I love it and think it’s a pretty unique read.


#13.) Sora Log

Genre: Romance, Drama, School Life

Author: Mitsuki Kako

Chapters: 15

Summary: Hikaru spent most of her childhood in the hospital and therefore looks at the world from a different perspective. She’s adorably naive, but her wisdom shines through when those close to her need reassurance. Her upperclassman, a quiet boy with blond hair, accidentally reveals that he, too, enjoys astronomy and Hikaru declares them to now be friends, despite everyone telling her to stay away.

My Rating: Cutest manga couple ever! Hikaru is just so adorable and lovable. She knows what she wants and goes for it, no matter what anyone else says. Plus, the drawing style is gorgeous and so detailed.


#14.) MiriamMiriam Vol.1 Ch.0 page 1 at www.Mangago.me

Genre: Adventure, Romance, Action

Author: Hikawa Kyouko

Chapters: 7 (each at around 200 pages)

Summary: Miriam is an orphan in the Wild West. She’s taken in by a sweet woman named Grace and learns what it means to have a happy family. Grace hires three young men to help her manage the ranch and they quickly become attached to the feisty little girl. As she grows up into a beautiful woman, she becomes especially close with one of the ranch hands. It will take a tragic twist of events to convince him of that, of course.

My Rating: Miriam is a beautiful story of people forming a family during difficult times. Plus, Miriam is the cutest and spunkiest protagonist. She whips all those adults into shape and rules over the ranch with an iron fist.


 #15.) Ichigo Jikan

Genre: Romance, Drama, School Life

Author: Kumagai Kyoko

Chapters: 11

Summary: Ichiko has been accepted into her dream school, but there’s a serious problem: she was promised a dorm to live in and when she arrives…no rooms are available. To appease her, the school sends her to a nearby apartment used by staff for temporary housing. She’s shocked to discover her new roommate is actually a boy and he’s not at all pleased with her being there.

My Rating: Ichiko and Ran are a great couple – she’s naive and intelligent, he’s hardworking and sarcastic. I read the whole manga in one sitting because every chapter was a cliffhanger and I just couldn’t wait to see what happened!

Posted in Book Review

Book #21: Kittens Can Kill by Clea Simon

Name: Kittens Can Kill
Author: Clea Simon
Pages: 348
Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Romance
Available at and/or More Information: Author Website | Amazon | Goodreads
My Rating: 

Pru Malone has returned to her hometown after trying to live in the big city, which didn’t prove to be the healthiest situation. She’s established herself as an animal behaviorist, dog walker, adoption specialist, nuisance animal remover, and veterinarian assistant. While people consider her to have an incredible bond with animals, it’s actually much deeper than that. She can telepathically communicate with them.

Her latest job is assisting a local lawyer with making a home for his new addition, an adorable white kitten. What she doesn’t expect is finding her client sprawled out on the floor of his mansion or the chaotic relationship between his three daughters. The eldest accuses his death on the kitten, the middle is the black sheep of the family, and the youngest is trying to force her way into Pru’s life as an unwanted assistant. If the poor kitten has any hopes of a future, Pru will have to mediate and somehow convince them to draw a truce.


The reviews on Goodreads were mixed, with some saying they just couldn’t connect with Pru. She’s untrusting, bitter, rude, nosy, and a budding alcoholic. Her lover, a local police detective, is trying to convince her to settle down with him, but she stubbornly decided that none of her relationships will work because of her telepathy. He’ll say she’s insane and she’ll be left alone. Again.

I myself like Pru. She’s not a typical protagonist, but a unique character I haven’t met before. The author’s version of animal telepathy is also unique, in that every animal has a distinct human-like personality and advanced vocabulary.

The animals I’d dealt with preferred to name themselves — choosing monikers that reflect their inner selves a lot better than our cutesy  handles do.

While Pru struggles to stay afloat as her inner demons threaten to drown her, her animal friends gently coax her in the right direction:

“I know.” She had begun to purr as she settled into the down. “But I think  this is something more. Something disturbed him.”


If you’re looking for a cozy mystery with cutesy dogs and silly cats, then you should probably look elsewhere. Kittens Can Kill is dark; the characters are all stressed and mentally struggling to survive, even the pets. It’s not the most clever mystery I’ve ever read, but it kept my interest from start to finish.

 

Posted in Book Discussions, Book Review

Book Discussion: The Paper Magician

Ceony Twill is a recent graduate of the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined. Hopeful and excited, her dreams are destroyed when her teacher tells her the magical world is lacking Paper Magicians and that she must become one. Magicians can only bond with one form of magic and Ceony is less than thrilled at the prospect of folding paper for the rest of her life.

Her new teacher, Magician Emery Thane, is a hermit living at the very edge of society. At first, Ceony sees him as just another eccentric freak, but she quickly learns that even hermits have dark secrets. Within weeks of meeting, Ceony must save her teacher’s heart, figuratively and literally, by harnessing the very magic she despises.

Is Paper Magic really just airplanes and origami? Ceony will have to look past her grievances if she wants to stay alive, especially in the face of forbidden magic called Excision, or the practice of controlling human flesh and blood.


Characters:

Ceony Twill has a photographic memory, which is her “protagonist superpower”, and the ability to remember spoken instructions word-for-word. As an apprentice, she has real potential. As a person, she’s still immature. Her personality is difficult to sympathize with; she’s bullheaded, cowardly, and reckless. In her defense, she’s only nineteen and started to show signs of maturing in the last few chapters, but I still found her to be pretty annoying.

Emery Thane is a broken man still trying to heal from his past. I liked his character; he’s guilty of loving someone he probably shouldn’t have and is trying to right his wrongs.

Lira is a confusing antagonist. I still don’t understand exactly what her motives were and what happened to so drastically change her personality. I would’ve liked, as a reader, to see more of her backstory.

Plot:

The Paper Magician is unique in that I haven’t read anything like it. Most magicians control natural elements, like water and air, so the concept of only being able to control man-made materials was a breath of fresh air. What I don’t understand is how Excision can even exist. Human flesh is a natural thing, not man-made in the same sense as glass or paper. The backstory, how things came to be, are overshadowed by Ceony’s quest.

Ceony’s falling in love with Thane as she explores his memories seemed strange to me. For the few weeks they lived together, she tolerated her eccentric teacher and then, at the flip of a page, he’s suddenly extremely attractive and lovable.

Writing Style:

  • For a book supposedly targeting a younger audience, The Paper Magician has a lot of blood, death, and just general darkness.
  • A bit wordy at times.
    • Ceony describes her heart rate about every other paragraph
    • Every conversation gives her a lump in her throat
    • She hesitates before she does anything
      • Are you seeing a pattern here?

My Overall Rating:

Image result for 3.5 stars

 

Posted in Book Review

Book #20: The Puffin of Death by Betty Webb

Name: The Puffin of Death
Author: Betty Webb
Pages: 298
Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Romance
Available at and/or More Information: Betty Webb | Amazon | Goodreads
My Rating: 

Theodora “Teddy” Esmeralda Iona Bentley is a zookeeper with the Gunn Zoo in California. During a routine workday, her boss informs her that she will be flown to Iceland in order to pick up an orphaned baby polar bear, two injured puffins, and two Icelandic foxes.

Sounds easy, right? Explore a beautiful country with a wealth of animals while waiting for Iceland officials to finish up the paperwork needed to ship animals overseas.

Nope.

While horseback riding along the coast, Teddy and her guide, Bryndis, stumble upon a dead man in the middle of a field of nesting puffins. She recognizes him as a fellow American who caused several disturbances in town (most likely while drunk off his butt) and soon learns he’s visiting Iceland with his suspicious birdwatching group.

Teddy wipes her hands of the affair…until Bryndis pleads with her to solve the case. The police have arrested her boyfriend, a flirty local artist, as the possible murderer. But Bryndis isn’t the only one asking for help. With the police warning her to stay clear, Teddy must work carefully. A murderer is close by and, if she’s not careful, Teddy might be the next victim.


The Puffin of Death is fast-paced and constantly keeps you on your toes – a mixture of history, geography, suspense, cute animals, and, of course, murder. Once I started reading, I just couldn’t put it down. There were a few repetitions (sentences used multiple times, word for word), but the overall writing was very well done.

The mystery itself was great. The author introduced many suspects, each of them suspicious in their own way, and then twisted the facts just enough to throw doubt on their motives. Unlike other murder mysteries, the police weren’t breathing down the protagonist’s neck and generally causing havoc by refusing to listen to reason. I actually liked the investigator in charge.

There’s little romance in this book. It focuses solely on solving a man’s murder, a man who was greatly liked and respected by some and downright loathed by others. I liked this aspect because many books add complicated love affairs for extra drama that really have nothing to do with the story.

I liked Teddy as a protagonist. She’s strong and determined, but not afraid to express her fears and concerns. I respected the fact that she stayed loyal to her fiance back home, even though Bryndis encouraged her to partake in some harmless flirting with the local men. She never backed down and responded to criticism with witty sarcasm.

Plus there’s a cute baby polar bear! And puffins!

 

Posted in My Thoughts, Writing

My Review of “OnlineBookClub”: A Website that Pays for Book Reviews

First of all, Online Book Club is a website of “Online Message Boards for Readers, Book Lovers, and Writers”, plus free and paid book reviews. When I first discovered it, I was less than impressed with the boring layout, but I wanted to give it a try anyway. So far, I’ve made $15. Having a bit of pocket money is the only attractive point, however, because the mandatory requirements are just ridiculous.

1.) The Review Team

Once you’ve selected and read one of the available books, you write the review and submit it to OnlineBookClub’s team of editors. As a writer, I was excited to get some feedback from professionals.

What I didn’t know is that they expect absolute perfection. For an amateur website, they’re pretty damn picky. After writing five reviews, I still have no idea what they’re looking for. I’m averaging a score of 75%.

2.) Point System

Your points determine how many books are available to review and how much you’ll be paid. The problem? Getting and keeping points is impossible. Each forum post gives you a tiny fraction of a point, so you’ll have to post at least a thousand times to get a decent amount. Once the review team has shredded your hard work to pieces, they deduct so many points that you practically have to start all over again.

I have yet to get over 40 points, which is the minimum required to pick a book to review. Then, I have to spend at least another week posting comments in forums. That gets old very quickly. Very, very quickly.

3.) Book Selection Isn’t that Great

Not to sound cruel, but the books they offer seem to be rejects from other websites. There’s nothing wrong with that, per se, but there are so many grammar and plot mistakes that they’re honestly difficult to understand. To read the nicer books, the ones from semi-famous authors, you need a high number of points.

4.) Good Points

I’ve read books I never would have normally, which is a nice change of pace. But, as I said, they haven’t been all that enjoyable…

I’m now technically a “published” author and OnlineBookClub encourages us to include them on our resumes.

5.) And So…

This website is perfect for people who have a lot of time on their hands – to sit down and painstakingly analyze their work sentence by sentence and spend hours posting on forums after forum after forum. Probably need to have the patience of a saint, as the saying goes, or you will be shedding some angry tears.

For everyone else…it’s best to find another website.

 

Posted in Blog Tag, Book Tag

The Playlist Shuffle Tag!

I’ll admit that I cheated a bit on this tag. The rules say not to skip, but this post would be pretty bland if all the songs were the same genre, wouldn’t it? Anyway, kudos to Lauren @ ReadingEveryNight for inspiring me to do my own version. Let’s get started!

*Song Titles are Linked to Youtube Videos!*

The Rules:

  • List the first 10 songs that come on shuffle
  • Write your favorite lyric (or verse) from each song
  • Tag others

1.) Always – Yoon Mirae

  • K-Pop | OST of “Descendants of the Sun”

“I love you

Are you listening?

Only you

Even if everything changes, this won’t change”


2.) Somewhere on a Beach – Dierks Bentley

  • Country | Catchy break-up song

“I’m somewhere on a beach, sippin’ something strong

Got a new girl, she got it goin’ on”

Continue reading “The Playlist Shuffle Tag!”

Posted in DIY

DIY Drink Coasters

What You’ll Need:


Step 1:

Paint the Saucers!IMG_0048.JPG

  • Make sure to remove the stickers on the bottom
  • I would recommend darker colors. I tried white with my first batch and it took multiple coats and twice as much time.
  • Exterior paint is more water resistant

Step 2:

Cut Out the Corkboard Circles!IMG_0049 (1).JPG

  • The link I have above is for a decorative bulletin board I found at Walmart. Once the circles are cut and trimmed, they fit perfectly in the saucers.

Step 3:

Coat  the Corkboard Circle with Mod Podge!

  • Make sure to paint it thick
  • Leave it to dry for a few hours. I suggest leaving something heavy on them so that there are no air bubbles between the corkboard and saucerIMG_0050.JPG

Step 4 (Optional):

  • If you’re worried about the Terra Cotta saucers damaging your table or you notice they don’t slide across surfaces well enough, add some felt pads.
  • I cut the 3/4inch pads in half and then stuck four halves to the bottom of each saucer

IMG_0051.JPG


Step 5:

Admire Your Work!

IMG_0055.JPG

Posted in Book Review, Reading

Book #19: Under Cold Stone by Vicki Delany

Name: Under Cold Stone

Author: Vicki Delany

Pages: 364

Genre: Suspense

Available at and/or More Information:

Author Website / Goodreads / Amazon

My Rating: 

Lucky Smith is vacationing in Banff, Alberta, with her boyfriend, Paul Keller, when they happen to run into Paul’s estranged son, Matt. Shortly after their tense reunion, Matt frantically calls his father late in the evening to say he came home from work to find his roommate dead on the floor of obvious homicide. Being a Chief Constable in Trafalgar, Paul leaps into action and contacts the local police. When they arrive at the apartment, Matt is nowhere to be seen. At first concerned for his safety, suspicion quickly turns to Matt as the suspect.

While Paul is searching for his son, Lucky is stuck at the hotel, worried sick for everyone involved. She calls her daughter, Moonlight (Molly) Smith, and asks her to drive eight hours to Banff in order to help Paul. As a police officer herself, Molly feels somewhat awkward about her mother’s new relationship, especially since Paul happens to her boss, but she immediately answers her mother’s plea for help.


This book had a lot of potential, with themes of ecoterrorism, fraud schemes, murder, and fragmented families…but it left me feeling a bit lost. All of the above topics were happening at once, each involving a different set of characters, and were eventually found to be interconnected. Instead of an international conspiracy or criminal enterprise, everything revolved around a plot of land in the Canadian wilderness that was a prime location for holiday cottages. Realistically, who would go to so much trouble (drugs, murder, fraud, blackmail) just to acquire some real estate?

The ending was terribly anticlimactic, too. A few of the smaller ringleaders were arrested and then the protagonists just shrugged it all off and said the rich will ultimately get away with everything. What kind of closure is that? I didn’t read over three-hundred pages just for the author to throw the book out a window and call it finished.

There’s also no point in calling this a “Molly Smith” novel. All Molly does is encourage some entitled kids to actually take control of their lives and tell the truth. Matt Keller and his girlfriend solved the crime, they just needed Molly and Paul Keller to push it through the legal system.

Overall, it was an okay read – just don’t expect anything worth writing home about. If you want to pass the time with a nice suspense novel, then I recommend this book. It was written very well, I was just disappointed with the plot itself.

Posted in Book Haul, Reading

September 2016 Book Haul

September is drawing to a close, even though I swear it just started a few days ago. It’s been a busy month, filled with books and new little projects. I joined the Online Book Club in hopes of one day being paid for reviewing books, but I’ll be keeping that and ‘Fun Facts for Writing’ separate for now. Once I get the hang of it, I might post the review on both websites. For now, though, I’ll just share some of my book haul from September 2016! Enjoy!


Serafina and the Black Cloak

Never go into the deep parts of the forest, for there are many dangers there, and they will ensnare your soul.” Sarafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of Biltmore Estate. There’s plenty to explore in her grand home, although she must take care to never be seen. None of the rich folk upstairs know that Sarafina exists.

But when children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows who the culprit is: a terrifying man in a black cloak who stalks Biltmore’s corridors at night. Following her own harrowing escape, Serafina risks everything by joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt, the young nephew of Biltmore’s owners. Braeden and Serafina mst uncover the Man in the Black Cloak’s true identity…before all of the children vanish one by one.


The Magician’s Daughter

24-year-old magician Valentine Hill is just finishing up a show outside San Francisco’s Golden Pirate Casino when a man in the crowd steals her donation hat. Meanwhile, another audience member approaches Valentine with information about her con-artist mother, Elizabeth Hill (aka Beth Hull), whom she hasn’t seen in nine years.

After calling it a night and returning to her apartment, Valentine finds that it’s been ransacked and her life savings stolen, apparently by a spurned suitor. The second chapter is equally crammed with unlikely events: Valentine locates her mother’s apartment, gets beat up, evades a scam by someone posing as an FBI agent, and more.


Old Sins, Long Memories

 It’s the perfect new beginning for Dr. Lizzie Browne. Treating rural patients at a small English clinic is what she badly needs after a stressful city practice and a failed marriage. So at first she thinks it’s an unhappy coincidence when local teen Darren turns up murdered–and she recognizes him as a recovering addict she helped back in London… Then Darren’s troubled ex-friend is burned to death in Lizzie’s greenhouse–and relentless Detective Chief Inspector Maguire starts investigating her. Certain the answer lies elsewhere, Lizzie starts digging into her patients’ less-than-tranquil pasts. Soon she discovers a trail of corruption, rage and shattering guilt that leads her to a long-buried crime and a shocking injustice. And she has nowhere to hide from an obsessed killer determined to punish and guilty–and innocent–alike.


The Cassandra

An eerie recurring vision of a missing girl. A wealthy family of psychics living in fear. For newbie private investigators Stella Jones and Chev Fortuna, this case is a far cry from nailing cheating boyfriends for naive clients. Especially since they believe in the practical, not the paranormal. But when they start digging into young Christine Johnson’s long-ago disappearance, they uncover mysterious clues, more vanished teens and sinister unexplained events that have haunted their small Western Maryland town for years…

Now they race to piece together deceptive memories and strange warnings. And it doesn’t take ESP to tell them that someone has just gotten on their trail. Stella and Chev will need cunning, skill, and plenty of luck to trap an insidious killer – and pray that bad fortune doesn’t make them the ultimate victims.


Under Cold Stone

BC Constable Molly Smith is looking forward to a quiet Thanksgiving with her fiance. Until a call from her mother sends things into a tailspin. Lucky Smith is vacationing in Banff, Alberta, at a grand hotel guilt to resembled a Scottish castle. But the medieval past bleeds into the present when a brutal homicide rocks the historic town. And the prime suspect has vanished.

Matthew Keller, the estranged son of Trafalgar Chief Constable Paul Keller – Lucky’s current boyfriend and Molly’s boss – was last seen at his apartment, where the dead body was found. Now he’s a fugitive. Distrusted by the local police, Molly follows her instincts and bare-bones clues, uncovering a startling connection to a controversial case that sends her deep into the Canadian wilderness…where a stone-cold killer scopes out the next victim’s final resting place.


Look forward to the full reviews in the coming month! Thank you for reading!

Posted in Book Review, Book Tag, Reading

The Book Courtship Tag

I happened to come across this tag while browsing She Latitude‘s blog. It’s been a while since I did my last tag, so this oughta be fun!

Phase 1: Initial Attraction

A book you bought because of the cover

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice immediately caught my attention. It was a bright contrast to
the typical darker colored books around it, so I stopped to read the description.

Sherlock Holmes has retired to the countryside and is, not surprisingly, bored. While watching over his bee hives, he’s bumped into by a teenage girl named Mary Russell. The two find they have a lot in common: high intelligence, an observant mind, and the enjoyment of fighting crime.

Under Sherlock Holmes’s wing, Mary blossoms into a beautiful young woman with a mind to match her tutor’s. When Scotland Yard calls on him for help, he’s reluctant to bring Mary along. However, Mary Russell has other ideas.


Phase 2: First Impressions

A book you bought because of the summary

“As a third child in a society that allows only two children per family, Luke Garner was in hiding for the first twelve years of his life. Then he was given the freedom of an identify card that had belonged to Lee Grant, a Baron (a member of the highest class of society), and was sent to boarding school as Lee.

But now, just when things are finally starting to go right, Lee’s little brother, Smits, arrives at school, and Luke finds himself caught in a web of lies that gets more complex and possibly even lethal – with every passing day.

Can Luke trust the grief-stricken Smits to keep Luke’s secret? And can he trust Smits’s menacing bodyguard, Oscar?

Luke finds that living Among the Barons puts him in the deadliest danger he has ever faced.


Continue reading “The Book Courtship Tag”