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.

Continue reading “Manga that I Recommend (#3)”

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”

Posted in Book Review, Reading

Book #18: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Name: Uprooted

Author: Naomi Novik

Pages: 456

Genre: Suspense, Fiction, Fanasty

Available at and/or More Information:

Amazon / Goodreads / Author Website

My Rating: 

When I bought this book, I was expecting a cute fantasy about a village girl growing into a self-confident woman in a world full of magic, witches, wizards, and typical evil. I was very, very wrong, but in a pleasantly surprised way.

Agnieska lives in a village bordering the Wood, a forest known for its unrelenting evil and poisonous atmosphere. The people living in the valley rely on the Dragon, a wizard who protects them with his magic. In exchange, a young girl must be given to him once every ten years. To refuse would mean certain death for the entire valley, not that anyone has ever been brave enough to oppose a wizard. The girls return as high-class ladies with dreams of a life in the city, dreams too big for the village they once called home.

Agnieska and her village are positive that the Dragon will choose Kasia, Agnieska’s best friend. Kasia is everything that Agnieska is not: beautiful, talented, refined. However, on the day of the feast marking his arrival, the Dragon does not choose Kasia, much to everyone’s shock and dismay. He chooses Agnieska, the tomboy with a curse of never having clean clothes.


My Thoughts:

‘Uprooted’ is like nothing I’ve ever read before. Naomi Novik created a world that is totally original – a combination of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘World of Warcraft’, with undertones of Book #3: Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones and Book #8: Princess Academy by Shannon Hale.

The Wood is an evil entity that is generally accepted as unbeatable, as a concrete part of life in the valley. As I read, I could feel their terror. I could sympathize with their feelings of resignation that nothing could be done to stop it. Once I learned the origin of the Wood and why it was so determined to kill everyone and everything in its sight, I was blown away. I’ve never read anything quite like it.

There weren’t many things I disliked, except for one thing. Wizards and witches were separated from the normal villages at a young age. They were born with magical powers, sometimes in a family never touched by magic. They’re immortal, but able to be killed. My problem is they weren’t described in great detail, besides basic information about their hair and skin. Are they normal people visual-wise, like Agnieska? Or slightly different, like the Dragon? As a reader, I would’ve liked to know more about them.

I like Agnieska’s determination and her unwavering love for her friends and family. However, I was a bit annoyed that she cried over everything. You don’t have time to cry, girl! Your home is under attack by something you can’t touch and you’re curled up into a ball, crying your eyes out!

Overall, though, I loved this book. You need to read it. Seriously. But, be warned: the trees around your house will suddenly seem evil and the bushes will try to grab you as you walk by. There is a lot of death and torture in this book, definitely not for the faint of heart.

 

Posted in Book Review, Reading

Book #17: The Murder House by James Patterson and David Ellis

Name: The Murder House

Author: James Patterson and David Ellis

Pages: 451

Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Horror, Romance

Available at and/or More Information:

Patterson Official Website / Amazon / Goodreads

My Rating:

Detective Jenna Murphy has returned to her hometown after being away since she was child. Her uncle is chief of police and she’s rented a decent apartment of her own, but she just doesn’t feel like she fits in, like she belongs. When she begins to have terrible night-terrors about a screaming girl and voices telling her to move faster, she regrets ever leaving New York.

Soon afterwards, a local woman named Melanie is murdered, along with her boyfriend and famous talent scout, Zach. Their bodies are found in the infamous ‘Murder House’, a multi-million dollar mansion that’s been the center of several deaths and disappearances over the years. Jenna is sent to investigate and is horrified by what she sees. The killer didn’t just kill them – he ruthlessly tortured them, keeping them alive long enough to watch each other suffer.

As Jenna follows leads and draws her own conclusions, she’s taken off the case and suspended. To discover the truth and finally stop the brutal killings shaking their town to the core, Jenna must put everything on the line and risk losing her career.

…I have to know, I have to finally know. Even if it kills me.


My Thoughts:

Wow, this book was a whirlwind of cliff-hangers and sudden twists. Poor Jenna just couldn’t catch a break. She isn’t my favorite heroine, probably doesn’t even rank in the top 10 to be honest, but she is pretty badass. When most people would throw in the towel and escape, she dove forward like a bulldozer.

Now, I love this book. It had me hooked within the first chapter. My only problem is that all the sudden twists make ‘The Murder House’ pretty confusing. If you don’t read the entire book in one go, but read it in installments around work or school or just life in general, then you’ll be absolutely lost. There are many characters to remember, all of whom have dark pasts and some angle in the mystery. My advice? Set aside a weekend and read the entire thing. Trust me, it’ll be pretty easy after you read the first chapter.

‘The Murder House’ is beautifully written. Patterson and Ellis masterfully mixed past and present together in a serial murder case that spans generations, plus all the injustice and backstabbing will just make your blood boil.

Don’t get attached to a suspect – it changes just about every other page. One chapter it’s this guy, the next it’s another guy, and then it’s both of them, with maybe a third somehow connected. It’s gets easier to understand the more you read, but in the beginning it’s a bit much to swallow all at once.

Posted in Reading, Writing

How to Make Lovable Characters (feat. Draco Malfoy)

Who comes to mind when you think of a book character that you connected with on a truly emotional level? A character you rooted for, you cried with, you wished would have a happy ending, you wished would kick ass and succeed in all ways…?

For me, that character is Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter.

In the beginning, I hated his pretentious little guts and hoped his schemes would blow up in his face. As he aged (as we aged), I realized that it was much deeper than that. He’s just a lonely boy craving love and acceptance, and the only way he knows how is through fear and manipulation. He’s a fictional character, but I still felt some kind of kinship with him. And that’s why he’s the perfect book character.

To Connect and Emphasize:

If Malfoy were just an average spoiled brat, then we’d all hate and ignore him. He would be a lost cause, something we wouldn’t bother with. But every now and then, that facade would break and we’d get a glimpse of the pain underneath. Everyone has, at one point in their lives, felt alone and misunderstood. We know that pain Malfoy must feel, and that’s why we sympathize with and pity him.

If you, as a writer, want your readers to feel just as invested in your book as you are, then a Malfoy is a must. Think of it this way: would you rather read a book narrated by Malfoy or by…her:

Name one person you know of that actually likes Umbridge. You can’t, can you? That’s because she was purposely written to be a complete bitch. Imagine reading a book with a protagonist as selfish and evil as Umbridge. You probably wouldn’t even make it past the first two chapters. She isn’t relatable and, therefore, a perfect antagonist.

Remember: don’t be an Umbridge.

A Flawed Character

No one is perfect. A character with no history, no tragedies is just…boring. Would you read a book about a perfectly normal high schooler who went to school, came back home, and repeated the process for two-hundred pages? No, something needs to happen to make them special. We read for entertainment, after all.

An example would be Cho Chang. In the books, she’s an ‘A’ student. Beautiful, talented, dating the school prince. The only reason she was invented was that Harry needed another distraction from his studies and to show that Harry was growing older.

Yaaaawn…

Your protagonist shouldn’t fade into the background, but be the colorful spark of life that attracts and brings together the whole book.

A Character Who Makes Us Laugh and/or Cry

If your readers truly connect with a character, then they’ll cry as hard as they did when Fred Weasley or Sirius Black died. After awhile, we think of them as family, as our friends. And then they’re taken away and we feel actual grief.

While you’re writing, stop and think. Would my readers care if I suddenly killed off this character? If not, then maybe they need a change of personality. Or maybe they should be eliminated from the story altogether.

Make us invested in the lives of the characters and we will gobble it up like candy.

 

Posted in Book Discussions, Reading

Book Discussion: The Bennet Family

Pride and Prejudice has been recognized time and time again as one of the greatest romance novels of all time. Society’s expectations are challenged, alliances are made and lost, familial ties are stretched to the very limit, confessions that make female readers swoon with jealousy…and that’s just the first chapter. As a fan myself, I’d like to share my thoughts on P&P‘s iconic centerpiece: the Bennet family.

Obviously, I didn’t live during this time period and only have novels to go by, but I honestly believe that, if they were real, the Bennet family would be complete outcasts of society. They wouldn’t be invited to balls or dinner parties, and the daughters definitely wouldn’t have so many suitors. In modern terms, they’d be that weird family that lives at the end of the street whose kids you wouldn’t be surprised to learn ran away with a drug dealer boyfriend (Lydia, cough…)

I never caught what exactly Mr. Bennet did for a living, but he apparently made enough money to support six women. I’m curious, though…did his business partners think he was strange? Or was he self-employed?

Continue reading “Book Discussion: The Bennet Family”

Posted in Book Haul, Reading

My 2015 Christmas List

With Christmas just around the corner, I thought I’d share some books I’ve had my eye on. (Hint hint, family members who follow my blog). If you have any suggestions or opinions you’d like to share, feel free to do so in the comments!


The Snake, the Crocodile, and the Dog / The Hippopotamus Pool / Seeing a Large Cat / The Ape who Guards the Balance

The Amelia Peabody series is one of my all-time favorites. I already have the first six books, but I would love to have the whole series.


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The Anatomist’s Wife / Mortal Arts / A Grave Matter / A Study in Death

I haven’t read any books from this author, but the Lady Darby series sounds pretty interesting. Set in Scotland in 1830, Lady Darby is recently widowed and looked at with suspicion because of her skills in science.


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The Princess Bride

Absolutely love the movie, so I definitely want to read the book.


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The Case of the Missing Marquess / The Case of the Left-Handed Lady

Enola Holmes is the younger sister of Sherlock Holmes and a budding detective. This series has pretty high reviews, so I’d like to give it a try!


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Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor / Jane and the Man of the Cloth / Jane and the Wandering Eye

A seemingly normal woman whose life is filled with mystery.


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Sherlock: The Caseload

A closer look at the cases shown on the TV show.

Posted in Book Review, Reading, Writing

3 Useful Books for Writers

Name: Fact, Fiction, and Folklore in Harry Potter’s World: An Unofficial Guide

Author: George Beahm

Even if you’re not interested in writing your own fantasy novel, this book is still a very interesting read. It explains the mythological origins of the beasts featured in HP, how the characters got their names, and in-depth histories of great figureheads and locations in the Wizarding world.

For an aspiring writer, this is a goldmine of information. Did you know that the nickname for Rubeus is Rube and that Rube means a rustic, awkward person? A perfect name for Hagrid, don’t you think? It’s little details like these that can make a simple tale into a best-selling universe of its own.

Buy At: Amazon    Barnes n’ Noble


Name: Books, Crooks and CounselorsBooks, Crooks and Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law and Courtroom Procedure

Author: Leslie Budewitz

When writing a mystery novel, details are everything. If you’re unsure of the law, buy this book. Here are some of the featured sections:

  • Are handwritten wills enforceable?
  • What is the insanity defense?
  • A character in my story is convicted of assault. What is the philosophy of sentencing and what are the possible ranges for his sentence?

Buy At: Amazon    Author Website


Name: 642 Things to Write About15720499

Author: The San Francisco Writers’ Grotto

Literally 642 random writing prompts to choose from, ranging from describing a bank robbery from the viewpoint of a victim to Facebook posts in 2017.

If you’re suffering from writer’s block or just itching for some practice, then this book is for you!

Just be warned, though: you’ll be painfully reminded of standardized tests from high school…Please answer the following questions on the short story you just read…*shudder*

Buy At: Amazon    Wal-Mart


I own all three of these, so I can vouch for them personally. There are dozens more to choose from on Amazon and hopefully I’ll have more to review in the future.