Stacking the Shelves #4

Stacking The Shelves, hosted by Tynga, is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Guess who didn’t stick to her previously mentioned book buying ban? *Raises hand* Let me explain, I passed by a thrift store and the books were cheap! I just couldn’t help it! I honestly thought I got a pretty good bargain: $10 for a bind-up of the entire Chronicles of Narnia series, the only Harry Potter book I didn’t own and a book on ghosts with illustrations in it. The rest were free Amazon ebooks and an ARC I was given for review.

This is my reality.

image

 Bought:

Picture the DeadThe Chronicles of Narnia (Chronicles of Narnia #1-7)Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5)

Ebook:

Click to find this on Amazon~Kpop Club (Kpop Club Series)

ARC:

Rory (The Ghosts of Palladino, #1)

Advertisements

Manga Monday #5 | Gurren Lagann Vol.1 & Vol.2 by Kotaro Mori

Gurren Lagann, Volume 1Gurren Lagann Vol.001
Story: GAINAX, Supervisor: Kazuki Nakashima, Art: Kotaro Mori
Original Title |Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (天元突破 グレンラガン)
Published in America on May 5th 2009 by Bandai Entertainment
Genre | Shōnen, Action, Adventure, Comedy, Mecha, Romance

In his skyless cavern of a village Simon toils daily, drilling holes to expand his stifling little world until one day he makes an extraordinary discovery: a small glowing drill-bit and the man-sized mech it activates. Before he can give it a second thought Simon’s dragged into a plot to break through to the surface by the local gang leader Kamina, only to have the ceiling come crashing down on top of them under the weight of a giant monster! It somehow falls onto the boisterous Kamina and cowardly Simon to defend their village, but once they defeat the monster what awaits the duo on the surface world? Get ready for buxom babes, beastmen, and giant mechs as only GAINAX can provide them! (Courtesy of Goodreads).

Review | ★ ★ ★ 1/2

Gurren Lagann has been around for a few years. Created in 2007 as an anime by studio GAINAX (the brains behind both Neon Genesis Evangelion and Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt) which later became adapted into a manga illustrated Kotaro Mori. I have yet to see the anime, so my review is solely on the first two manga volumes of Gurren Lagann.

The story begins with a bang, quite literally. Volume one of Gurren Lagann is consistently action packed, where there is never a dull moment. There seems to be a monster-of-the-week kind of format where enemy robots, called “gunmen”, appear and our heroes go kick butt. All in all, this series contains explosions, fighting robots, and heroism all around. That being said, it did take me a while to even understand what the heck was going on in the story. The pacing of the story goes by extremely fast. Any type of character back-stories or world development are briefly mentioned and do not get addressed further until much later in the volume.

While reading, I had a real need for plot that this volume didn’t provide. The premise of the story contains so much potential. In this futuristic world, humans are forced to survive underground. The surface is dominated by intelligent creatures, called beastmen, that pilot the gunmen to eradicate humans. Our two main characters are virtually clueless to the world above, allowing the reader to discover new information along with the characters.  Unfortunately, plot mainly fell to the wayside in favor for action and humor.  In fact, I felt that volume one valued action and funny one-liners over any real world building.

Team Gurren

Top: Gurren Lagann

Bottom (Left to Right): Kamina, Boota, Simon and Yoko

Kamina is the crazy, boisterous character that comes up with the team name, Gurren. Unsatisfied with living underground, he’s always coming up with schemes that manage to tick off the village chief. His main goal in life is to break through the “impenertrable ceiling” and reach the surface just like his father. He comes off as the “cool older brother type” that often incites to do the impossible with his crazy antics. Kamina is my absolute favorite character because he’s hilarious and comes with the best lines 😀

“Kick logic out and do the impossible!! That’s the way Team Gurren rolls, remember?!”

Also, my favorite line:

“Listen to me, Simon. Don’t believe in yourself. Believe in me! Believe in me, who believes in you!!”

Simon is the youngest member of Team Gurren and “soul brother” to Kamina. He’s a timid young man whose sole job is to expand his underground village by digging. It’s not a glorious job by far, but Simon finds pleasure in the little changes he makes to his village; sometimes resulting into unexpected treasures. Unlike Kamina, Simon isn’t heroic at all. Rather he has cautious and often fearful nature that stems from the trauma of his parents death.

There are more characters are introduced in this volume, such as Yoko, Leeron and the Black Siblings. But I feel that only Kamina and Simon were the primary focus in volume one.

Gurren Lagann, Volume 1Gurren Lagann Vol.002
Story: GAINAX, Supervisor: Kazuki Nakashima, Art: Kotaro Mori
Original Title |Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (天元突破 グレンラガン)
Published in America on August 25th 2009 by Bandai Entertainment
Genre | Shōnen, Action, Adventure, Comedy, Mecha, Romance

Review | ★ ★ ★ ★

Volume two picks up exactly where volume one left off, with an epic combining of the Gurren and Lagann.
GurrenLagannI actually enjoyed reading volume two much more than the previous volume. Past plot complaints aside, I just went along with the flow of the manga and found myself appreciating this volume more. The slapstick comedy of the earlier volume multiplied ten fold in volume two, creating many memorable laugh out loud moments. If the covers of the first two volumes didn’t tip you off, you’ll realize that the characters have a severe case of lack of clothing. The clothing choice is not because of the hot climate of the Gurren Lagann world, but a purposeful character design by the creators. You never actually see anyone’s naughty bits, but this series is chock full of cartoon-like violence, skin exposure, bouncy boobs, and sexual innuendos (the obligatory hot springs episode, which is a common anime trope, is featured in volume two). This type of comedy may not suit everyone’s taste, but is definitely something to consider, especially since the humor is so ingrained in Gurren Lagann.

The problems I had with volume one were completely rectified this time around. Here we are able to explore another underground village, different from village Kamina and Simon came from. It was interesting to see the social constructs of this new village, and get a sense of what being forced underground has done to humanity. I also liked that we were being shown snippets of what it’s like on the villain’s side. Overall, this volume had some character development, the budding of a potential romance and a constant influx of new characters being introduced.

Would I recommend it?

Gurren Lagann may not be for everyone, but if you’re looking for something crazy and action-packed give this a shot.

Stacking the Shelves #3

Stacking The Shelves, hosted by Tynga, is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

I know I had an STS post just last week, but I couldn’t retrain myself from buying more books. I have way too many unread books on my shelves and this book buying addiction is beginning to be a problem. But to my credit, one of the books I received was pre-ordered months ago and another was a free giveaway.  But let it be known that as of today I’m going on a book buying ban! So you probably won’t see another STS post from me for a long time.

Bought:

Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles, #2)The Theory of EverythingGurren Lagann, Volume 1Gurren Lagann Manga, Vol. 002One Thousand And One Nights, Volume 05Japanese Comickers 2

Ebook:

The Midnight Heir (The Bane Chronicles, #4)

Giveaway Prize:

Precious Blood

Teaser Tuesday #1 | The Theory of Everything by Kari Luna

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB @ Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teasers |

“Once I saw a guy’s heart roll right off his sleeve. Mom and I were sitting in a booth at Sal’s sharing a sausage calzone when I saw it–a big red heart sitting in the outside of his arm instead of the middle of his chest where it belonged.”

 
These are the first two sentences in the prologue. I think the introduction is pretty successful in enticing you to read the rest of the book. Seriously, when can you literally say you saw someone’s heart on their sleeves?

Goodreads | TBD

What are you reading this Tuesday?

Stacking the Shelves #2

Stacking The Shelves, hosted by Tynga, is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

These are the books I bought this past week. I loved Miyazaki’s film version of Howl’s Moving Castle and was ecstatic to snag an ebook of the original book on Amazon for $1.99! Such a steal! Unfortunately, the promotion ended sometime Saturday and I have no idea if they are ever going to drop the price again.

I also signed up for the 30 day membership trial for Audible.com. When you sign up you get one credit and an extra bonus credit for a total of 2 audio books. From what I understand, you can use those 2 credits for any audio book they have. If you decide you don’t want to pay for the membership just cancel your membership before the 30 day trial is over and you still get to keep your 2 audio books for free! Pretty awesome right? I think so 😀  (I recently just found this out. So if you’re  more familiar with Audible.com please correct me if I’m wrong.)

Ebook:

Howl's Moving Castle

Audio Book:

Siege and Storm (The Grisha, #2) Eleanor & Park

Stacking the Shelves #1

Stacking The Shelves, hosted by Tynga, is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

I’ve garnered a handful of books within the past few months, but it was only this week that I decided treat myself and go on a little book buying spree. Luckily I got most of these on a discount. 🙂

Bought:

The Looking Glass Wars (The Looking Glass Wars, #1)White Cat (Curse Workers, #1)Red Glove (Curse Workers, #2)The Mysterious Benedict Society (The Mysterious Benedict Society, #1)An Abundance of KatherinesShades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron (Shades of Grey #1)Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore The Dancing KettleUmineko WHEN THEY CRY Episode 2: Turn of the Golden Witch, Vol. 1

Ebook:

What Really Happened in Peru (The Bane Chronicles, #1)The Runaway Queen (The Bane Chronicles, #2)Vampires, Scones, and Edmund Herondale (The Bane Chronicles, #3)Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)

Manga Monday #4 |Magic Kaito Vol. 1 by Gosho Aoyama

Magic Kaito Vol. 1 by Gōshō Aoyama

Original Title | Majikku Kaito (まじっく 快斗)

First published in Shogakukan’s Weekly Shōnen Sunday in 1987

Genre | Shōnen, Comedy, Drama, Crime

Yesasia

After an 8 year long disappearance. the mysterious Phantom Thief Kid makes a sudden return with a new heist–his target, the magnificent Century Gem.  Meanwhile Kaito Kuroba, a normal teenage boy, discovers the truth about his late father’s death as well as a shocking family secret.

Review | ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

I’ve been really failing this month’s Tadoku Contest, but I did manage to finish reading the first volume of Magic Kaito! If you have ever read Gosho Aoyama’s more well-known manga, Detective Conan/Case Closed , the charming Phantom Thief Kid makes numerous appearances in a lot of Conan’s cases.  Magic Kaito was made before Detective Conan and is kind of like the origin story for the infamous phantom thief.

This manga was so much fun to read! Every page was filled with so much action and comedy, that I really enjoyed reading it. However, there wasn’t really much plot progression in this volume and I felt like I was reading mostly about the misadventures of Phantom Thief Kid.

The main character, Kaito Kuroba, is absolutely adorable and I adore him to pieces. He’s charming, goofy, a bit of a pervert, but you can tell he’s a good kid. Kaito is a magician just like his father, and uses his magic for pranks–pranks his childhood friend, Aoko Nakamura doesn’t put up with ;). He and Aoko have a bickering relationship, the kind where they can trade insults and where it’s perfectly acceptable for one of them to try to hit the other with a mop during class.

By the end of the first chapter, Kaito inherits his family’s secret and adapts to it pretty well. He really shows his  resourcefulness and cleverness at moments when he really needs to. I just wish there was more information or motive given about Kaito’s family secret since it’s such a crucial part of the plot. Hopefully this would be explained further in the series.

All in all, Magic Kaito is a very fun light-hearted read. I will most definitely be reading the next volume.

Would I recommend this?

For now I only recommend this manga for those who can read Japanese because sadly this series is not licensed in English. (;_;) But, if you like crime stories and light humor this is the manga for you!

Manga Monday #3| Umineko WHEN THEY CRY Episode 1: Legend of the Golden Witch vol. 1 by Ryukishi07

Umineko WHEN THEY CRY Episode 1: Legend of the Golden Witch

Story by Ryukishi07, Art by Kei Nastumi

Original Title | Umineko no Naku Koro ni (うみねこのなく頃に)

Published in America on November 2012 by Yen Press

Genre | Seinen, Mystery, Horror, Thriller

WARNING EXTREME GORE 

Goodreads | Amazon | Yen Press

Each year, the Ushiromiya family gathers at the secluded mansion of its patriarch, the elderly Kinzo. It has been six years since Battler joined his cousins at the annual event, but their happy reunion is overshadowed by worsening weather and an eerie premonition from his youngest cousin—not to mention their parents’ feud over the inheritance. Battler doesn’t hold much stock in dark omens, nor does he believe the tales of the witch rumored to have given his grandfather a fortune in gold…and who walks the halls of the mansion to this day… But when the eighteen family members and servants are trapped on the island by the raging typhoon, the grisly events that follow leave Battler shaken to his core. Is one of his relatives desperate enough to kill for the family fortune? Or is this the work of the Golden Witch? (Courtesy of Yen Press)

Review | ★ ★ ★ ★

Packaging 

I was absolutely ecstatic when Yen Press decided to license Umineko WHEN THEY CRY series into English! I’ve seen both the Japanese anime and read a few scenes from the original sound novel game and really loved the story and its characters. So when I went to place my order for this manga, much to my surprise I was greeted with a MONSTER of a book. This manga is probably twice the size of the average American published manga and three times the width. But there is a reason for this…Umineko WHEN THEY CRY Episode 1: Legend of the Golden Witch is actually an omnibus bind up of two manga volumes. So really, you’re getting two for the price of one bind up.

While publishing this manga as an omnibus is probably a better business move for Yen Press and more economical for the consumer, in my opinion it’s a pain to lug around in my bag if I want to take it with me to read. I would have preferred to have this series published in the smaller standard size, even though it would cost me more to complete the series. However, it is nice to have most of the story in one convenient bind up.

Besides, as a die-hard Umineko WHEN THEY CRY fan I would still buy this series no matter what.

Plot

On October 4th, 1986  the esteemed Ushiromiya family gathers to the island of Rokkenjima for their yearly family conference. What starts off as a happy family gathering quickly escalates to a battle over the family inheritance and the legendary Ushiromiya gold. And if a feud within the family isn’t bad enough, a raging typhoon is expected to come bringing misfortune along with it…

If you have ever read Agatha Christie’s famous mystery classic And Then There Were None,  the plot to Umineko WHEN THEY CRY Episode 1: Legend of the Golden Witch is very similar. You have a family stranded on an island cut off from the rest of the world due to a terrible typhoon…but there’s a twist. A witch is supposedly living on the island as well, and she’s there to wreck havoc.

This manga does an excellent job in mixing mystery with fantasy and horror. What makes the story so unusual is that is makes you question whether it is a mystery or a fantasy. By the end you’ll wonder if the culprit human or if the witch real?

Artwork

I like that Kei Natsumi’s style can really capture a character’s emotions really well. If a character is feeling extreme frustration or sorrow, that emotion is clearly displayed and adds to the storytelling. Also, his depiction of horror and gore are definitely not for the squeamish. My only issue with his art style is the odd figure proportions he draws for his characters.

Would I recommend it?

I recommend this series for those who like mysteries and thrillers, as long as you don’t mind the blood and over-exaggerated breasts.

Manga Monday #2| Skip Beat! vol. 1 by Yoshiki Nakamura

Skip Beat! vol. 1 by Yoshiki Nakamura

First published on February 2002 in Hana to Yume 

Published in America on July 2006 by Viz Media

Genre | Shōjo, Romantic Comedy

Goodreads | Amazon | Rightstuf | Viz Media

Kyoko knows she’s not plain and uninteresting, no matter what Sho says. With the help of a little makeover, Kyoko’s ready to exact her revenge. But first she needs to land an audition, and she sets her sights on the agency where Sho’s lead rival works. Her persistence pays off, but her broken heart turns out to be a disadvantage. Kyoko has lost the will to love anybody, let alone fans she’s never met. Can the agency see past this problem to Kyoko’s true star potential? (Courtesy of Viz Media)

Review| ★ ★ ★ ★

Plot

The plot is simple and straight forward. Kyoko Mogami is a young girl out of junior high school who has devoted herself to her “prince” and childhood best friend, Sho, only to be left and abandoned. This serves as Kyoko’s driving motivation to enter into a world she really had no prior interest in–show business.

The steps Kyoko takes to trying to get into show business is very interesting to read about, especially when things get a little absurd. I can’t help but root for her throughout the entire manga.

Characters

Ah Kyoko…I would have probably turn a blind eye to this series if it wasn’t for her. She starts off as the typical shōjo heroine–innocent, good natured, earnest for the sake of love–but once Sho’s true nature is revealed the shock unlocks Kyoko’s Pandora Box releasing her darkside. Kyoko is a very determined girl from the start–running away from home, working two jobs to pay rent–and once her focus shifts from being subservient to getting to her revenge, we get to see how far she is willing to go for her goal. Despite how fierce Kyoko can be, her heartbreak and vulnerability brings out a quality that readers may relate with. In short, she’s a very unique character yet very relatable. I just love reading about her.

Sho Fuwa, Kyoko’s childhood friends. He’s a jerk and I hope he burns in fire.

Ren Tsuruga is the currently most popular actor in show business and Sho’s make believe rival. He’s a pretty smooth operator, but not really on Kyoko’s list of favorite people. He’ s not that predominant in this volume, but I get the feeling that he will be an important character later on.

Mr. Sawara and Lori Takarada both work at LME, the company that Kyoko is trying to work for. Mr. Sawara is basically Kyoko’s first obstacle into getting into show business. I found it hilarious how he puts up with Kyoko’s crazy antics (She was basically stalking him. I would just call the cops at that point). Lori Takarada, on the other hand, is the eccentric LME president. I love him because everything he does is so outlandish (his introduction came with exotic dancers. How cool is that?).

Kanae “Moko” Kotonami introduction in the manga just screams out “Kyoko’s rival”. She’s a talented actress looking to work for the LME just like Kyoko. She comes off as a bit snobbish, but then again most rivals in shōjo manga are. It’s interesting how Kyoko’s nickname for her, “Moko”, stems from how she says “mō” after everything she says. “Mō” was used as an interjection in the original Japanese and the “ko” (子) at the end is what is commonly used to make names feminine.

Artwork

Yoshiki Nakamura’s art style in Skip Beat! is basically her take on the shōjo genre. What makes her style unique from the rest are the dewy eyes she makes for her characters. She also mixes up her drawing style by switching from very expressive faces to chibi style.

Would I recommend it?

I would recommend this to shōjo manga fans looking for a funny Rom-Com with a strong female protagonist.

Waiting On Wednesday #1

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted bu Jill over on Breaking the Spine

What I’m waiting on…

 The Theory of Everything by Kari Luna

 Expected Release Date |  July 11, 2013

 Publisher | Philomel Books

One part Libba Bray’s GOING BOVINE, two parts String Theory, and three parts love story equals a whimsical novel that will change the way you think about the world.

Sophie Sophia is obsessed with music from the late eighties. She also has an eccentric physicist father who sometimes vanishes for days and sees things other people don’t see. But when he disappears for good and Sophie’s mom moves them from Brooklyn, New York, to Havencrest, Illinois, for a fresh start, things take a turn for the weird. Sophie starts seeing things, like marching band pandas, just like her dad.

Guided by Walt, her shaman panda, and her new (human) friend named Finny, Sophie is determined to find her father and figure out her visions, once and for all. So she travels back to where it began—New York City and NYU’s physics department. As she discovers more about her dad’s research on M-theory and her father himself, Sophie opens her eyes to the world’s infinite possibilities—and her heart to love.

Perfect for fans of Going Bovine,The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and The Probability of Miracles. (Courtesy of Amazon)

Why I want it?

I first heard about this from a booktuber’s video (it was a long time ago so I forgot where the original video is) and it sounded like a very fun and quirky read. The synopsis intrigued me and the cover was so adorable that I immediately pre-ordered it on Amazon. I’ve been waiting for this book for months! I don’t think I can quietly wait for another whole month.