A Long Conversation by Cassandra Clare
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Young Adult Fiction
This is a short story that takes place between Lady Midnight and Lord of Shadows. It features Isabelle’s engagement party, among other things. We learn a number of things about Alec and Magnus’s kids, the Lewis family, the outlook of Robert Lightwood, and of course we see a bit more between Jace and Clary. With the excitement of the engagement party, Jace wants to make his own engagement, but when an alert from the L.A. Institute arrives, Clary must postpone her answer!
I have actually read this twice, once in the first edition of Lady Midnight, and I also bought the e-version, because why not? I love seeing Cassandra Jean’s artwork every time I turn on my kindle, and re-reading this short story was a nice refresher of what the original characters are like. Also, reading Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy adds a bit to this in that it does mention George Lovelace, if briefly, something that I previously did not pick up on in my initial read, altering the meaning of this short story for me as a reader. Overall, a great little addition to the Shadowhunters adventures.
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Genre: Adolescent Fiction
This Newbery Award-winning book is about a gorilla named Ivan who lives in the Big Top Mall with his elephant friend Stella, a trained dog, a stray dog named Bob, and a parrot. These animals are admired by Julia, the daughter of the janitor, who comes in to draw and spend time with the animals. When Mack, the owner, buys a new baby elephant, Julia is not happy at the treatment of the animal. Now she and Ivan devise a plan to get the animals saved, taken care of, and sent to a zoo where they can be much happier than their tiny mall cages.
Told from the perspective of the gorilla, this is an interesting take on how an animal might see the world of humans and how they interpret things around them. We learn from Ivan’s perspective about his past with Mack as well as how he approaches his new experiences. This is a great read for 4th-8th grade readers in that it helps define some new vocabulary, has smaller chunks of writing on the pages with an occasional illustration, and raises awareness about the treatment of wild animals in captivity. Overall an enjoyable read.
Waiting for Spring by Anashin
Genre: Young Adult Romance/Manga
This is a newer manga released for the first time in English July 2017. It features Mitsuki, a girl who cherished her friend Aya when they were younger, but now in high school, she is a bit of a loner. Her job is her only sanctuary, and she hopes to find that one true friend that is like Aya. Instead of just one friend, she finds four new friends amidst the basketball team, and begins to find feelings for one of them in particular. Because the basketball team’s biggest priority is the sport, they must keep their grades up and are not allowed to fall into the distractions of dating!
I first found out about this manga from a poster advertisement at Anime Expo and decided it looked interesting, so I did a bit more research before finally deciding to pre-order this book. It’s a good thing I did, because the reception of this manga is high, selling out from Right Stuf Anime the day it came in stock. While the beginning was a bit slow and the pacing is a bit odd, such as jumping from just meeting the boys to Mitsuki having known them for a month already, the rest of the manga picks up, and the cliffhanger of volume one has me itching for the next one. Kodansha is a reliable publisher of manga in the North American division, and I would highly recommend this to any lover of Shojo (for girls) readers.
Girl Friends Complete Collection 1 and 2 by Milk Morigana
Genre: Yuri Manga
This is a five volume (2 compiled volumes in the U.S.) yuri manga, which generally means girl and girl romance. It follows the story of Akko, a high energy fashionista, and Mari, a quiet girl who tends to shy away from others. When Akko befriends Mari and changes her appearance for the better, as well as giving Mari a new best friend, the relationship seems normal for two girl friends. When Mari realized that the thinks Akko says and does for her are more meaningful than those of anyone else, she finds that she has feelings for Akko. Conflicted between sharing her feelings and keeping it a secret (since they are both girls), Mari struggles with her first love. When Akko rejects Mari in that way, Mari tries to move on by dating a boy she knew in elementary school, but she still can’t shake her feelings for Akko. When Akko finally feels the same, it may be too late to reciprocate.
I was excited when my husband brought this home and he said “Wow, I should have saved this for you for Christmas…and it’s not even yaoi!” Yes, I generally find many yaoi (boy and boy) manga’s to actually have a well-developed story with high tension that eventually leads into the romance. The first two volumes of Girl Friends was very bland to me and lacked the same kind of story elements that yaoi tends to have. The plot was more simplistic and focused on the girls’ activities like shopping, fashion, and school, which is an average plot for many manga, so there was not much special about it. Once you get to the last three volumes though, the tension of the romance between the two girls and the events that lead up to their eventual relationship are more interesting and increase the rating of the manga overall.
Manga Dogs (Vol. 1) by Ema Toyama
Genre: Sequential Art/Manga
This manga is about a Manga class that starts up at Kanna’s school. Little do the other students know, she has already debuted! Kanna plans to use school time to work on her published manga series, but when three pretty boys show up asking her how to draw manga, she doesn’t know what to do! Keeping her secret and teaching some guys to draw manga who are in it for money rather than the art itself will prove to be a challenge.
I picked up this manga at a used book store and thought it looked interesting and different, but it is actually kind of boring and plain. The plot is very dry until the very end when someone steals Kanna’s manuscript, but the main plot aside from the last five pages does not have me wanting to read the next volume. On another note, the art is fantastic and the genre is interesting, focusing more on a career rather than high school drama or romance, so that was a nice change.