Tuesday, April 26, 2011

For the books that bloom

Ok, I totally meant for this post to occur in May and before Earth Day (since I forgot *shakes head at self*). Still, this means that I am at least doing what I promised myself to do and have started blogging more worthwhile stuff and not my complaints and gripes at daily life! Despite my continual hiatus status, I actually had been attempting to read more between the horrors of survival in RL (yes, yes, complaining again).

For romance novels, I’ll admit, I’ve only been following a few of the authors that I felt were a “sure read” instead of my usual self-indulgent-swallow-all-books-whole preference.
As of late, I’ve read quite a few non-fictions with topics which hit close to home, piqued my interests, or were on my TBR for a (long long) while.

Also, as an attempt to expand outside of my foray, I’ll probably drop in a few movie and t.v. series I’ve been watching. Mostly the latter. *rubs hands in glee*

Where to begin?


Hahaha, did that come out of nowhere or what? I know I’m weird that way.

So, some quick and dirty manga reviews. FYI, some of these English rights have not been bought yet, so they may not be available at your local bookstores. Instead, I followed a lot of them via online English translations (free!), or read them in the original Japanese format (sorta free, but my Japanese reading skills went to the crappers).

Beast Master by Kyousuke Motomi

Series, 2 volumes. Complete. Romantic comedy.

Yuiko Kubozuka, 17, is an avid animal lover. Much to Yuiko’s everlasting pain, the animals never seem to reciprocate her love (let’s just say she loves animals so much, the animals get freaked out). On one random day, she meets Leo Aoi, a guy that seems more animal than man where all animals seem to love him and later finds out he’s a new transfer student to her school (his looks really freaks out everyone). And this is a fun-filled, weird adventure of two weirdos and their slice-of-life high school adventures.

I’ve personally started following this author a long time ago and have greatly enjoyed many of her series. As the author herself likes to say, she loves drawing idiots. Hahaha. This is a simple fun series with a little mystery (mostly about Leo and his past that is not really that mysterious). Some action and blood, but it does not overwhelm the overall cuteness. The two books are mostly small short stories that show the development of Yuiko and Leo’s relationship as they mature.

Both characters are rather fascinating in their own way. Yuiko loves animals, but animals hate her. Leo scares all people, but animals love him. There are many secondary characters that are equally interesting and funny. I would have like the series to be longer as I often go back and read this series when I’m bored, tired, want a laugh, etc. It’s not a heavy series that makes you over think, but it does contain a few nice subtle contexts.

Bloody Kiss by Kazuko Furumiya

Series, 2 volumes. Complete. Paranormal, comedy, romance.

Kiyo Katsuragi, 17, just inherited an old, semi-broken down mansion. She decides she may as well live there then figure things out. On the first day she meets the two resident vampires that her grandmother took in because they had nowhere else to go, Kuroboshi (half human, half vampire) and his “servant” Alshu (more like guardian).
A minor twist to the vampire story. Apparently, a vampire can only take blood from one human whom they call their “bride” for them to fully “mature” (i.e. reach their max power). Vampires want blood, but it does not seem like they need blood all the time. And they can eat normal stuff.

I was really surprised to see this in the bookstore the other day that I couldn’t resist. Again, I followed this author way early and I’ll admit my shallowness, I did it for her drawings. It’s so smooth and elegant, I enjoy the eye candies. The story could use some more clarification, but I don’t want to give anything away. Think of it as short stories of the same characters compiled in two novels with minor character development.

Overall, I like this author because the characters always got spunk even if they have some sad backstory. The main female character, Kiyo, is all alone and looked down upon by no fault of her own. Instead of turning into some wimpy, low-self esteem, weak girl, she has goals and strength. Kiyo wants to be a lawyer and is perfectly capable at kicking butt. Don’t get me wrong, she has her weepy moments, but hey, it’s manga.

It’s a refreshing and cute manga with quite a few funny moments in there and, of course, clichés. Still, this is a simple fun read that I often enjoy re-reading when I just want some mushiness and random fun. Oh, and a werewolf comes into the story much much later. XP

What actually got me into this author is Tropical ni-Koiiro, a two part short story included in the Bloody Kiss. :D It is a short story about two high school students stranded on an island. I know I shouldn’t, since there are so many loopholes, but I just like it so much. Lol.
Maybe I should start having some grading scale. Not sure. Then again, I probably would only gush about stories I like and not talk about anything I’m not too fond of.

We’ll see.

Now, for a series still ongoing and NOT in the US, but ultimately a favorite… hehehehehe.

Faster than a Kiss by Meka Tanaka

Series, ongoing. Romantic comedy.

Fumiko Kaji, 16 and her bother, Teppei, 5, lost their parents one year ago. Tired of being shuffled between relatives, she gets the bright idea to run away (*shakes head at the mindset of 16 year olds). While being propositioned by some old man (a really big problem in Asia these days), her homeroom teacher Kazumi Ojiro, 24, was the only one that seemed to care enough to not only look for her, but pretty much “rescue her” by accepting her crazy proposition to get married when he kicked the old man away.

Fumiko meant it as an angry outburst to shock/scare him away, but instead, her teacher showed care and more than anything, can make her little brother Teppei happy. So, they went into a marriage of convenience and there starts their daily life of keeping the marriage a secret as well as their growing attraction.

Oh ho, for a shojo(girls) manga, this author is male! A huge rarity, much like male writers for romance novels. And you know what? This author is awesome. I love all his stuff. Love them all. Yes, this is a may-december romance. The author loves this kind of stuff and I have got to say, this series was done really well. Fumiko, Teppei and Kazumi somehow became a family that just fits. This storyline could have had a LOT of room for mistakes and problems, but the author executes each aspect very very well. He grows the cast of characters, each distinct and all of them (including the secondary characters) matures. Even so, the core personality of each character remains so true, I cannot help but believe whatever the author tells me. It has its shares of clichés, especially when it came to representations of Americans, but the author still develops them so well it’s hard not to like each character.

There are so many good things about this series I don’t even know where to begin. O_o

Fumiko is a very straight-forward, somewhat violent (only because she believes in standing up against injustice), but very loving and kind. She loves her little brother Teppei and that was what made the idea of her marrying her teacher believable. Fumiko would do anything for the people she loves. It takes time for that part of her to come out though and she develops from a loner to having very good friends that are willing to stand up for her. Fumiko begins to fall for her teacher, but is still too innocent to understand a serious relationship, which she fully admits to. Many of her attempts (such as making food) are hilarious.

Kazumi is a great teacher, hard working, smart, and very loyal. Yet, he’s a pervert and shameless tease to Fumiko (he makes her and Teppei cosplay –i.e. dress up, in exchange for making them dinner). He honestly started taking care of Fumiko and Teppei out of concern and kindness and they create the warmth of a family he lacks (lost of slow revealing of backstory, including *secrets*). As he feels himself slowly drawn to his underage charge, Kazumi actually fights it tooth and nail because he wants to do the right thing. It’s a great struggle and I just want to see him fail. Hahahaha.
Teppei…oh Teppei. He’s just so adorable and sweet. A future genius and heartbreaker indeed.
I really don’t know what to write except to gush non-stop about this series. It does not require too much understanding of Japanese culture, but quick fyi, girls can marry at the age of 16 in Japan. I think you just need an adult’s consent…

I love the side characters from their neighbor Ryuu (one of Kazumi’s best friend since high school, their neighbor and a kindergarten teacher that also helps take care of Teppei), to three of Fumiko’s classmates that become her closest friends, even the guy that has a crush on Fumiko gets some development. So many things to love about this series… family dramas, forbidden love… It is full of humor, but deals with serious issues in life. Somehow, I’m always drawn towards this type of stories. Yes, life sucks. Yes, horrible things happen, but I love it most when characters stay strong and are still willing to laugh, to cry, and live.

If you have time and are interested in the world of online manga, I would definitely recommend this. And if it ever comes into the US…well, I’ll just be having 2-3 copies of this series. Japanese, Chinese and English. Lol. I can only read one though. O_o

Well, now this does not feel so quick anymore… Next author I should introduce is Yoshihara Yuki, another great author I love. She gots smex. Ehehehehe.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Day of the Earth’s Memories (hopefully not gone forever)

This day snuck up on me out of nowhere. Of all days to forget, I would never have thought I’d forget earth day (one of my favorite holidays that totally should be federal holiday so people can go out and help out the environment).

Nothing beats the crisp clean air so cold in burns ice down your lungs with every inhale but mini clouds puff out of your slightly parted lips. The sky so clear you can almost imagine every constellation visible during the golden bright day. A moonless pitch black night would become completely alight by the blinking galaxies floating in the ocean universe. When it rains, oh my goodness, the world turns to shadows and everything rumble and roar of thunder reverberate through the ground and trembles penetrates every raindrop. Water seeps into every crevice soaking the earth and bring life to the tiny sprouts lengthens each leaf to the warming sun and gentle wind while their tiny root toes stretching and curling into the earthy soil.

Animals awaken and sleep; they rejoice and cry – each creature trying to live life.

Or even those that have passed to be remembered for their life.

Whether a celebration of life, or the cycle of life – Earth day is at the least an important reminder to the very disconnect illusion of commercialized individualism and independence at the expense of the environment we all dwell. In reality, the constant earphones walking down the street, eyes plaster to the tiny electronics in our hands, the world really is just passing by. People really do forget to stop and smell the roses…or any kind of flower that is in bloom that other people we rarely acknowledge planted and removed season by season – taking away even our connections to the cycles of a simple flower.

In honor for this day, I am getting my hands back into the dirt and planting a little flower. Well, more like scattering seeds in the yard and hoping they’d grow. I actually do have another planting project going on, but that’s a little hush hush. ;)

Here are a few books I’ve read/going to read in an attempt to expand my knowledge of the environment around me and get back into what I always love; earth.

If you enjoyed the series Life After People, you might like this book.

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman. It's a book that talks about what will the world be life if homo sapiens disappeared from Earth. The reason I got it, Jon Stewart. Lol. This was an interesting book at the time I read it because I was really mopey and depressed about the world (dOoM). Knowing that the Earth will find a way despite the horrors human beings have somehow caused made me feel a little better.

This book is more like speculative thought with some science involved. Just an interesting read.

And speaking of Jon Stewart.
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart presents Earth (the book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race

I love this book. I love the audio book even more. It made me laugh, it cry (from laughter) and most importantly, it made me think while trying to keep a sense of humor. If you really think about it, life is pretty grim for us all, especially at the rate we are all going. Yet somehow, Jon Stewart and his staff of writers, actors, comedians, and guests are able to make a grim situation grimmer and still have us laughing about it. If you have read this book, please do. And if you can't read, listen to the audio book. It comes highly recommended.

And here is a pretty motivational book that I will have a review about in the future. This review is taking a long time mainly because of the impact and some of the research I'm trying to do as a result.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingslover.

Can't write much without my thoughts bursting through, so just a quickie.
Barbara Kingslover and her family decided, for one year, they will try to consume only foods they know the sources to - which turned out to be mostly home grown. Views from Barbara, her husband and her oldest daughter. A very interesting read and again, highly recommended by yours truly.

I wanted to place a book here about animals, but I didn't know which one so I think I will settle for a website.

If you have time, visit Global Animal. They are a website that encourages people to take action and help our fellow animal, but very importantly, they post a lot of news about current events and their effects on animals. There are shocking things, funny and cute things, and many sources to connect us all. Or you can click on Cute Overload for some pictures. :) They are tooooo cute.
I hope everyone is having a good day today and are all taking care of themselves.

With much love~~~
Also, today's post is...
In loving memories of my two puppydogs: Never thought I could survive you and in truth, part of me has not, but I’m trying.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

april showers

It's mid-April and my blog progress has been slow. The goals I've set for everyday life still not met, but hey, at least I'm trying. It certainly has not helped that various strains of flu and bacteria decided to strike at me one after the other, but it does make life interesting. And by interesting, I meant drowning myself in liquids, giving co-workers the evil eye (wondering how much it takes to survive if I quit), and spontaneously buying books. Alas, the sad news of several Borders closing their doors at least helped some people boost their reading materials. I am one of those sad fools that have taken what little benefits from the misfortune of a multinational bookstore. Less romance novels than I expected, but more than a few books I'd been eyeing. Hopefully (as with the many many backlogs of the years before), I would be able to post some reviews on here soon. Best to all~~~