Should You Read It?-Honorable Mentions Part 14

Old Man Logan by Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino

Genre: Graphic Novel/Super Hero

Rating: 4/5

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While I really enjoyed the single volume of Wolverine: Old Man Logan, I found that these first two volumes of a longer on-running version of the story really add to some of the ideas presented in the original. Wolverine finds himself waking up in the past and aims to change the past by killing a number of super villains before they can group together to destroy the heroes as well as the future. When Logan begins his quest to kill those who have harmed him and the X-men in the future, he finds that he might be in a different past, one where the future will not end up the way he has lived through it. In this past, the real Wolverine is dead, an encased metal statue for all to admire. Logan aims to find a place for himself in this new life and he chooses the place where his wife lived when she was young. Even though it is a different past, she still seems to be the same person. When the Reavers show up, Logan learns that no matter where he goes, trouble will follow, for there will always be someone to come after him. As he ventures, he still insists that doomsday will come.

Overall, I really enjoyed these first two volumes and would not mind continuing to follow this series. The story was portrayed in an artistically unique way, with vivid coloration for moments of pain or anguish (such as getting shot/stabbed). This changed the effect of reading these graphic novels. They are also much better than Wolverine: Old Man Logan, because they take some of the apocalyptic ideas from that graphic novel and really take the time to expand on those ideas and develop the world in a way that the reader does not get in the original. Old Man Logan: Berzerker has one of the issues from Wolverine: Old Man Logan where Logan utterly destroys the Hulk clan, an epic issue If I do say so myself, and Old Man Logan: Bordertown contains an issue of the X-men from the old comics, which was likewise interesting (although I am not a fan of most comic book artwork from before the 2000’s). Overall, great addition to Logan’s story and I would recommend it for any Wolverine or Marvel fan.


Five Ghosts (Vol 1+2) by Frank J. Barbiere and Chris Mooneyham, et. al

Genre: Action/Adventure/Literature/Graphic Novel

Rating: 3.5/5

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This series is interesting, to say the least. It features a treasure hunter named Fabian Gray who have a piece of Dreamstone embedded in his chest. The Dreamstone causes him to be haunted by five literary ghosts: Robin Hood, Count Dracula, Merlin, Miyamoto Musashi, and Sherlock Homes. Each ghost can take over Fabian’s body and gives him the power of that character, such as katana skills as Musashi or magic and wisdom as Merlin. As Fabian discovers new places and new treasures with his research assistant, Sebastian, trouble continues to find him. Throughout the story, someone seems to be after Fabian, but it is unclear just why yet,unless they want his Dreamstone. There are also sprinkled snippets about his sister having lost her spirit or some such event, which is also unclear, but what is clear is that Fabian is trying to find something to bring her back. In the second volume, Fabian joins his thief friend Jezebel as they search for the Isle of Dreams, leading Fabian to decide between his past and present.

Initially, I gave The Haunting of Fabian Gray a 3/5 and Lost Coastlines a 4/5 resulting in a 3.5/5 for the first two volumes. The first volume was interesting, but it took awhile to figure out what was doing on and to be drawn into the story. The end didn’t have me caring much to continue, but I had the second volume anyway, so why not see where it goes. The second volume develops more of the story and ends well with potential for more adventures. The art itself even has an adventurous feel to it, like 1950’s movie posters. Overall, I enjoyed the story and feel like it has potential, just not enough to bring me to volume three…


Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection  by Don Roff

Genre: Horror/Art/Postapocalyptic

Rating: 3/5


This book is written in journal format by Robert Twombly, claimed to be found in a cabin in Canada with no survivors. It is filled with colorful illustrations depicting death by zombie in a number of ways. It chronicles the apocalypse in journal form as a lab tech working in the city, his escape, the survivors he encounters, and the speculation about the origin of the disease being from a certain chemical in specific foods. He uses illustrations to document what he learns about the undead as well as his experiences, dating each entry as the months go by.

I only give this book a three rather than a two because the art is interesting and appealing, despite the story being somewhat cliche and unoriginal. The journal entry thing is nothing new, and the title say “year” but only spans from January 2012 to March 2012, which is misleading on the given information as well. The writing is kind of bland and the events in journal format are not as exciting or unique as they possibly could have been. The story also ends abruptly (assuming something happened to the author) in a way that seemed rushed and rather pointless. At the same time, anyone can die at any time in the zombie apocalypse, also making this ending slightly realistic to the situation.


Hold me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story by David Levithan

Genre: Young Adult Fiction/Screenplay/Musical

Rating: 4/5

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This novel is a companion piece to John Green and David Levithan’s Will Grayson, Will Grayson. In the novel, the supporting character, Tiny Cooper, is writing a musical about his life being gay, knowing from early on but not wanting to admit it. The musical is entitled Hold Me Closer. While snippets and bits are mentioned in Will Grayson, Will Grayson, this novel is the musical that Tiny wrote within the world of the novel. Not only does Act I develop his understanding of gayness in early childhood, but Act II goes through his 18 ex-boyfriends, one of them being Will Grayson (not the best friend of the same name). He goes through the various boyfriends and why they did not work out, mostly on the end of the other boy, and not Tiny. There’s always something, whether it’s because Tiny is too fat, won’t have sex with those who do not appreciate him enough, or that they perhaps found someone else. Tiny’s relationships are rather short-lived until he meets Will, a boy struggling with depression and his own concept and realization that he is gay, something Tiny has long embraced and hopes to share with Will.

I had no idea there was a companion piece to the main novel, so I thought this was pretty exciting. Reading something meant to be a play/musical with some narrative aspects was a fun change from regular novels. It really adds to the world of Will Grayson, Will Grayson, because the musical is a major driving point for Tiny, but we only get to see a song or two and snippets of Tiny’s creation of the musical as he relates his thoughts and creativity to his friends, Will and Jane. It was an enjoyable piece to be read with the novel, and even funny in a stand-alone-way, but having read the main novel beforehand makes a big difference to the context of the story, especially in Act II.


The Between: An Original Story in the World of The Ones by Daniel Sweren-Becker

Genre: Near-future Fiction/Young Adult

Rating: 4/5

The Between: An Original Story in the World of The Ones by [Sweren-Becker, Daniel]

This short takes places between The Ones and The Equals by Daniel Sweren-Becker. The best part: It’s free, which shows that the author is more invested in his fans than the money, considering we, as readers, support the author anyway; it’s like a little gift for being a devoted reader! It is a very quick roughly 30 page story available on the Kindle that shows what happens to James at the end of The Ones after being captured.

This short story Features James and some of the Ones who have been taken to an internment camp. With new laws being passed, the Ones are lower citizens, and the government wants them to believe that the camps will keep them safe from the people trying to harm them. James knows the truth, though. The government wants to treat the Ones with a vaccine that will revert their genetics back to normal (however that works), and James shares the truth with the other Ones in the camp. Some cannot handle the truth just yet and aim to escape by taking their own life, but the rumor spreads, and James aims for a rebellion from the camp to escape. When his plan is ratted out by a fellow One, he is moved to isolation and devotes himself to never being vaccinated, or dying, if all else fails.

This is a great transitional piece between the first and the second book in the series and gives some context to the what the camps are like as well as what happens when someone aims to start a revolt. With one of the characters being depressed by the situation, there is a suicide prevention notice at the end of the short that encourages seeking help for those who feel depressed, so that they can be saved, because all lives matter. The writing style is fine-tuned and the pace is quick with high stakes presented from the start. A great freebie for any fan of The Ones.



Should You Read It?-Honorable Mentions Part 13

Demon Love Spell (Vol. 1) by Mayu Shinjo

Genre: Manga/Shoujo/Romance/Paranormal

Rating: 4/5

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This story is about a shrine maiden named Miko who just can’t seem to do her job. Both of her parents and even her grandparents expelled demons from the world. While she tries to expel demons from her shrine, she can’t see the demons, so she doesn’t even know if the spell went in the right direction or not! When her friend rushes to her telling Miko about this boy who must be possessed by a demon, since he is such a womanizer, Miko runs to the call of her friend and classmates. Of course, her friend was just joking. When Miko arrives on the scene and uses a dispel charm, it turns out the guy was an incubus all along (a male demon that feeds of of female energy). Miko can see demons when she touches Kagura (the demon she dispelled), and she finds that he is adorable (as a key chain) and useful in her demon hunting. Of course, feelings seem to blossom on both ends. When a bunch of demons come to try and take Miko’s power away, the two must work together to emerge victorious.

When I picked this manga up, it seemed kind of cheesy, and it…well…kind of is, in a cute way. I really liked the heroine as well as the demon. Both characters had something to them that made me want to see how they grow and change over the course of the series. While I have only read the first volume, the writing and shoujo aspects of this manga do make me want to pick up the next one at some point in the future for sure. The art is nice too, which just adds to the allure.


Arpeggio of Blue Steel (Vol. 1) by Ark Performance

Genre: Manga/Military Science Fiction

Rating: 4/5

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The Fleet of Fog has made humanity desperate. After a time when powerful vessels have appeared out of nowhere and taken over the oceans, people aim to bring these intelligent submarines down.  These vessels are able to maintain a humanoid avatar that represents each vessel, women of course since ships and subs are always dubbed with “she.” When one submarine chooses to side with humanity, only Chihaya can command her, and his strategies are pristine, worthy of being an intelligent vessel captain.

I was not sure what to expect from this manga when it came from Loot-crate, but it was sure interesting. The main character, Chihaya, is interesting and intelligent, and when the submarines take on their own avatars and intelligence’s, the war rages, and Chihaya must find a way to keep humanity from ruin, as well as from destroying his own vessel that originated from the Fleet of Fog. This is a very unique story and a great manga for those who enjoy military strategy as well as intriguing crews…with some chick action on the side!


Yowamushi Pedal, Go! by Wataru Watanabe

Genre: Manga/Sports/Bicycling

Rating: 3/5

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Sakimichi Onoda is an otaku. He make the ninety-kilometer round trip to Akihabara more than a few times a week, and mommy bike too. As in, a women’s designed bike with a basket. Despite this, Sakamichi is a power-peddler. When his biking skills are notice I a serious first-year road racer, Imaizumi, Sakimichi is challenged to a rigorous bike race. Sakimichi has no interest in biking for sports, but when Imaizumi says he’ll join the anime club if Sakimichi wins, Sakimichi has something to race for.

For monger bouts for, because biking is a sport, it was actually really interesting. The first volume leaves you on the cliffhanger with wondering who’s going to win the race, which he would find out in the second volume. It is intriguing and has me want to keep reading, but when I found out there is over 50 volumes, I decided that perhaps this particular monger was not meant to be part of my collection, but maybe one day I’ll read it online or borrowed from my friend, who happens to own all of it. Overall I enjoyed the fact that it wasn’t about romance, and it wasn’t necessarily about action either; it’s simply about a boy who loves anime and a boy who loves biking.


Star Wars: Forces of Destiny Vol 1 by Emma Carlson Berne

Genre: Children’s/Science-fiction

Rating: 3/5

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This book, targeted toward young girls, features three short stories featuring some of the heroines from the Star Wars universe: Rei, Sabine, and Padme. The reading level is elementary, and it has some wonderful illustrations that make it appealing to younger female readers. Rei’s story features an adventure with BB-8 after finding him on Jakku and the struggle to keep the highly sought-after droid safe. We learn a little bit more about Sabine and a past friend of hers that she is trying to draw over to the rebellion, and Padme bonds with Ahsoka over a political dinner set-up and threat.

I picked this up in Target one day because, hey, I am a girl and I love Star Wars. While this is nothing like the young adult or adult novels in the Star Wars universe, I thought it was a fun collection of stories for young readers who are interested, and it goes along with the new show targeted toward young girls. Overall, I enjoyed it for the most part, but since I am quite a bit older, the simplicity of it was a bit to boring for me, but I can see the appeal for lower elementary grade-school readers.


Flying Witch (Vol. 1) by Chihiro Ishizuka

Genre: Manga/Paranormal

Rating: 4/5

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This manga is about Makoto, a girl from Yokohama who moves to the rural Aomori to train to be a witch. Being a witch is a secret, unless one is related to the witch, but when Makoto begins flying in public and a classmate sees, she is so excited about telling someone else about her being a witch that she forgets the rule for a minute! With the assistance of her family, friends, and cat, she trains to become a full-fledged witch as she learns new tricks and develops her power.

This manga was cute and well-drawn. It does have a main plot, but it feels very free and as if there is not enough accountability for me to want to continue reading. The cute art and the humor are the most attractive things about this manga, and I would recommend it for readers who want something easy and light-hearted, but for those who want a story with a thick plot and action, I would suggest looking elsewhere. The cat is a great character, by the way. It meows a lot and comprehends human speech.

7th Grade Synthesis Blog Entries-Cultural Diversity

With my 7th grade class we have been discussing how our own cultural backgrounds effect who we are and how sometimes we try to fit into a society or culture that is not our own. Students have read two short stories to determine how cultural backgrounds can be challenging when it comes to gaining respect from others and trying to fit in. To demonstrate their understanding of this concept, the students wove the information from the two stories to write a synthesis blog entry; some samples I will post as a response here, just to have those available, and present is my own synthesis blog entry based on the criteria of how I wanted my students to structure their own.


Binary Truths of Cultural Challenges: A Blog Entry by Mrs. Mullin

       In “The White Umbrella” by Gish Jen and “A Ribbon for Baldy” by Jesse Stuart, both narrators demonstrate how they view their own heritage, although their actions in response to their cultural backgrounds greatly differ. During a time of revelation, the narrator in “The White Umbrella” finally decides that her Chinese heritage is what she is Image result for anime chinese with white umbrellameant to live by when she “[throws] the umbrella down the sewer” (11). By the narrator throwing away the white umbrella, a representation of what it means to be among the white American culture and society, the narrator is giving up on trying to fit in as a white American and becomes comfortable with who she is as a Chinese-American girl. By respecting one’s own heritage, a person realizes how being different is a good thing, and that people learn from each other’s differences; if people were all the same, there would be nothing for for them to lean. However, in “A Ribbon for Baldy,” with high self-esteem and determination, the narrator comes up with the brilliant idea “to do something worthwhile, and something to make [his classmates] respect [him]” (1). The narrator is from a farming family and finds that doing a project that betters himself will gain the respect of others while showing pride in his own farming cultural backgrImage result for anime farmer with cornound and heritage. Through determination, people can accept who they are and find pride in their own backgrounds and heritages, which leads to the sharing and learning of culturally diverse ideas and ways of thinking. Both narrators demonstrate how they view cultural backgrounds differently, but ultimately some to the conclusion that their own backgrounds are important, and that society can learn a great amount from people of diverse cultural backgrounds.

Orange County Children’s Book Festival, 2017

The Orange County Children’s Book festival was an absolute blast! As a writer of young adult fantasy and a past preschool teacher and current junior high teacher, how could I not go to this event? Of course, this is an annual event and has been a thing in the past, but I never knew about it or went. I’m sure glad I went this time.

There are over 125 authors and illustrators with booths promoting and signing their work, and many of them have extra things like bookmarks, pens, notepads, artwork, and all kinds of fun things. While there were too many to choose from, I narrowed my selections to three authors/illustrators works to bring home for my collection, since I don’t want to break my wallet.

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First I would like to feature Michael A. Hernandez. He wrote Pandora: Shadow of the Box and does all of his own artwork. He has young adult and adult artwork featuring the characters from his story, T-shirts, and trading cards. His artwork is absolutely amazing, and he even did some fan art of Daenerys from Game of Thrones, Wonder Woman, and Rei from Star Wars. His novel sounds fun and full of magic, and his illustrations that go along with it are absolutely amazing (they should be, since the illustrations he has presented are what drew me in).

Next I would like to feature Gwen Katz, a historical fiction writer. Her novel, Among the Red Stars, features a female pilot squadron during World War II, and she is also a short story contributor to a graphic novel anthology of queer historical fiction, which we really should see more of in the world. I can see Katz being extremely successful in the near future, especially for young female readers.

Last, but not least, I would like to feature Alane Adams, author of the Legends of Orkney trilogy (and spin-offs to come).

The day I wish I wore make-up:

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How Adams describes the Legends of Orkney trilogy is like Percy Jackson but with Norse Gods (I mentioned Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, and the two novels were actually published around the same time). She also says she is writing another series featuring some of the same characters, but with Celtic mythology, which is interesting and unique. With the purchase of her novels, I received a bunch of character artwork postcards, which was absolutely awesome. Having character cards really adds to the dynamic of a novel series, in my opinion. I also got a pen and notepad! How cool is that? I can’t wait to read these middle grade books. They sound absolutely amazing.

It was so refreshing to see so many families and young people at the book festival. It was a very enjoyable event, and the variation between genres, authors, and illustrators was fund and exciting. The variety made a big difference, and I was excited to find an abundance of middle-grade and young adult writers there, as well as children’s book writers.

Author Event: Daniel Sweren-Becker at Huntington Beach Barnes and Noble

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September (and October) is the golden month for author events at the Barnes and Noble in Huntington Beach, CA! With a published list of upcoming events in early August, I had been waiting to meet Daniel Sweren-Becker for a few weeks. The event features him speaking about the influences and things for his new novel, The Equals, sequel to his first novel, The Ones.

Having never heard of this duology before, I swiftly did some research, and this definitely sounded like my kind of thing. Here is the synopsis (copied from Goodreads):

Cody has always been proud of being a One. She and her boyfriend James were two of the lucky babies from the 1% of the U.S. population that were randomly selected to benefit from genetic engineering. Now, she and the rest of The Ones are excelling. They are healthy, beautiful, and talented. They aren’t otherworldly, just perfect. And to some, that’s not fair. The Equality Movement, capitalizing on the growing fear and jealousy, gains political traction and actually outlaws their existence. Society shows its darker side as The Ones are marginalized. The line between right and wrong blurs in the face of injustice and Cody becomes closer to a group of radical Ones intent on fighting back. James begins to fear just how far she is willing to go for the cause.

Being someone interested in genetics and having a similar thought for a more far-future novel of my own, this was a must-have for my collection. Sweren-Becker calls the series “near-future,” with the idea that the events in his novels show something that could potentially happen in our lifetime, whether that is ten, thirty, or fifty years from now. He wrote the series after reading an article about genetic engineering (something we see more and more of in the media everyday). Basically, China and Russia are pushing for genetic engineering, but there is still great controversy on the issue, especially in the United States. All countries have their own laws when it comes to genetic engineering. The movement in the novel is an Equality Movement, somewhat based on the Tea Party movement in 2009.

When it comes to writing a novel, Sweren-Becker has some decent advice: “Outline, outline, outline!” Chapter by chapter, of course. It took him one year to finish the first draft of the first novel, and the editing process took four to five months before going out to the publisher. His life needs to be in  organization before he can sit down and write (dishes clean, house vacuumed, etc.), and I can relate on that one.

One of the big ideas about The Ones is that, while we the reader may know who is a one and who is not, in the world of the book, nobody knows who is a one and who is not. The secrecy of the genetic engineering is one of the appeals, and it is this secrecy that will bring about a new genetic movement.

It was very fun to meet Daniel Sweren-Becker and I am very excited to read this duology! It is always a great experience to listen to an author speak about their book, and to have a personalized copy from the brain that created the work.


Should You Read It?-Honorable Mentions Part 12 (manga)

She and Her Cat by Makoto Shinkai and Tsubasa Yamaguchi

Genre: Manga/???

Rating: 4/5

Based on the short original video animation (5 minutes included with one of Shinka’s American release films [I think it was with Voices of a Distant Star?]) and the later four episode anime, this manga follows Miyu, a single young working woman, and Chobi, her cat. Seen from Chobi’s perspective, this manga shows a perspective that people generally wonder with their own pets. When Miyu leaves for work each day, Chobi finds his way outside and meets other cats and spends his time loafing around until the time Miyu comes home every night. When things seem to escalate with Miyu, Chobi is unsure how to help and, being a cat, does not understand what is going on with his human. When Miyu begins to come home late (and Drunk), Chobi is uncertain about how important he may be in her eyes. When she does not come home one day, Chobi heads out to find his human, to show that he is her cat.

Anything by Makoto Shinkai is pretty superb. This is a really interesting perspective that gets the reader thinking about how they interact with their own pets. Being a manga, there is a different visual element to it than that of an animation. The sound effects are all written out rather than heard, and this can somewhat take away from the effect that those background sounds would have when watching. The art is very detailed though, and because the images are still, the reader can actually spend a good deal of time on one page just enjoying the flow of images and details as they portray the story. As an added bonus with this particular manga that makes it nice to add to any manga collection is…it has a shiny cover! Overall, this is a cute and wonderful book to read and own.


Dragonar Academy (Vol. 1) by Shiki Mizuchi and Ran

Genre: Manga/Romantic Comedy/Harem

Rating: 3.5/5

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For dragon lovers, this is kind of cute, in the city of Ansullivan, at the academy, all students are unique: they are Yunios or Senios (basically the grade levels) who have their own dragons! Ash Blake is a bit of a late bloomer and has not given life to his dragon yet, not to mention his mark that gives life to dragons is larger than those of his peers. Unique to Ash is his ability to control and ride other people’s dragons, a skill that no one else has. When his dragon, Eco, is finally born, she has the form of a human, but is all dragon and utilizes Ash as the human “dog” he is meant to be. But even more odd things begin to happen, such as Eco being stalked/spied on and an undead regenerating dragon wreaking havoc. Ash and Eco must learn to work together to keep Ansullivan safe.

I picked this up at a used book store. I love dragons and thought this looked cute and somewhat promising. While it is cute, the plot is a bit too shallow for me. There is good set up for the next volume as well as a potential overall arcing plot, but the characters are a bit bland and I do not really find myself caring about any of them by the end of volume one. The art is nice, but almost chibi in its form in that everyone pretty much looks like a little kid, even the main characters. Eco is a newborn dragon, so that is okay, but Ash seems like an older teen with younger adolescent tendencies and a baby-face. I would say, if you have ever read Dragon Drive, this is somewhat reminiscent of that in a way, but not quite as developed or exciting.


Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid (Vol. 1) by coolkyousinnjya

Genre: Fantasy/Comedy/Manga

Rating: 3.5/5

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This cute manga is about a dragon named Tohru who is found stabbed by a special sword. When Miss Kobayashi finds her, she takes Tohru in as a maid to help her out, but she has to be in human form. Many neighbors and those Tohru comes in contact with on a regular basis think she is a hardcore cos-player. When another dragon enters the mix, Tohru finds that she is a bit jealous and does not want to share her master with anyone. On top of everything, Tohru is learning how things are different in the human world from her own, and she is just trying to get by!

While this manga was cute and is generally for all ages, the reason why I gave it a lower rating than I would have liked is because of the plot. Rather than a larger overarching story, this is more like a bunch of mini stories put together. While cute, funny, and endearing, because there is no major plot going on, there is nothing to keep me going as a reader. It just does not have the same level of excitement that other Manga have. But…it was still good. The are is great and the humor is well places, making it an enjoyable read nonetheless.


Shruiken and Pleats (Vol 1) by Matsuri Hino

Genre: Manga/Action/Romance

Rating: 4/5

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From the creator of Vampire Knight comes a new series about a ninja who just wants to find her place after her master is killed. Her loyalty to him fills her even after his death, and she aims to go to school as per her previous master’s wish. Like a father to her, Mikage’s master was everything she cared about in life, even though ninja are trained to show no emotions. When she travels to Japan, the homeland of her ancestors, Mikage finds herself defending a young man named Mahito, who is being targeted by none other than a few ninja. Now Mikage must get down to the bottom of the reason why ninja would be targeting this man, and defend him in the process. When she begins to feel something more for him, she questions her loyalties to her previous master and to her life as a ninja.

I believe there are only two volumes in this series, but the end of the first book seems to solve the problem with the bad guy, but wants the reader to learn more about the romance in the next novel. While this volume was decent, there was nothing driving me to move on to the next one. Of course the art is great, but the story just seems to fall short, like some of Matsuri Hino’s shorter series often do.


One-Punch Man (Vol 1) by One and Yusuke Murata

Genre: Manga/Comedy

Rating: 4/5

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This manga is about a guy named Saitama who finds life to be rather boring in many ways. Not only id life before being a hero boring (unable to keep a job and such), but after his training, Saitama can defeat any opponent with just one punch, which is likewise getting old and boring! The monsters he is faced with are rather dim-witted, and Saitama handles things with a sarcastic humor that brings them down. When a young man who is actually a robot appears on the scene deeming himself a hero, he cannot believe his eyes when Saitama destroys an enemy that he has been struggling so hard to defeat. Genos, having witnessed Saitama’s unique ability, asks to be his disciple. Together, they take out the ridiculous scum that threatens the city.

My husband got the Loot-crate exclusive and told me to read it. I read the title and previewed the art and raised my eyebrow at him. Generally, this kind of manga is not my thing, but I found that I greatly enjoyed it. The humor went great with the text and image combination. While the art style is not something that would normally draw me in, the images are funny, and I found myself laughing aloud a few times. Not only is it funny, but it is fast paced with action panels that make the flow more fun and easygoing. Overall, for someone who is not into shounen jump manga so much, I really enjoyed this one and may pursue the next volume.

Author Event: Wendelin Van Draanen Comes to Huntington Beach!

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Barnes and Noble in Huntington Beach at Bella Terra generally finds many guest authors. On September 9, 2017, we locals had the pleasure of meeting Wendelin Van Draanen, author of 34 books, her newest of which is Wild Bird.

Wendelin is very ecstatic, boisterous, and maybe a bit of crazy in there, giving her a fun, bright, and brilliant attitude. It was great listening to her talk about her books with such enthusiasm! She was also a school teacher for many years in the past, including continuation school to help students at least get their GED. She is very keen on inclusive education, and for those inclusive needs to be felt in the heart, which many of her books portray.

Wendelin Van Draanen sure knows her stuff, too! She cannot write about something that she has nor done before or something that she does not know about. When it comes to research, she jumps right in to the hands-on kind of experience. For her newest book, the character spends a lot of time cooking, and to learn about these methods of cooking, Draanen did some of her own cooking! She is an expert at camping and building the perfect fire, by the way. One of the other things that is funny about Draanen is that when she starts a book, she has a mortality fear: Will she die before she completes the book? I think it is safe to say that many of us have a similar fear.

One of Draanen’s key ideas and points she wants to pass to readers from her novels is the key idea of “Who do you want to be?” She encourages others to find who they are, which is one of her reasons for writing Wild Bird. She wants her readers to think about themselves and their own lives in relation to who they want to be, what kind of person.

All authors are different in their own writing process as well. Draanen doesn’t outline, like some authors do. All the ideas are a jumble of soup in her head and she thinks about her stories during down time or waiting time or whenever before she just sits down and writes. She finishes one or two chapters before beginning the research process and explains her writing process as road signs. Sometimes you see something that has you veer off in a different direction, and that is what her writing process is like. It is about a 2-3 year process from the start of page one to the shelves of Barnes and Noble.

The Running Dream sounds like an amazing book about a girl who runs for sport and is the best of her class, but when tragedy strikes, she is unable to continue running. This is the kind of story that we should read to be aware of what being human is all about, having dreams, and keeping faith. Her other more famous novel is Flipped, which alternates chapters between a boy and a girl who flips the first time she meets him in elementary school. When they reunite in 7th grade, things might just flip again. There is also a movie for this one.

One of the cool things Draanen did was support her fans with memorabilia. For any fans who read the Sammy Keyes series, they received awesome shoelaces with a neat horseshoe charm. For her Shredderman and The Gecko and Sticky series (targeted towards younger boys) she had bookmarks available. And for her featured novel, Wild Bird, she handed out various colors of feathers as little wilderness-like bookmarks. That was a very cool thing that I have not seen at a lot of the author events I have been to.

All-in-all Wendelin Van Draanen is an amazing person and writer, the event was enjoyable, and I have three awesome new books that I can’t wait to read (and review, of course).