Sunday, February 28, 2010

Crimson Hero Volume 12 Review

Crimson Hero volume 12 - Mitsuba Takanashi
*January 5th, 2010 VIZ Media

With one of their ace players injured, Nobara and the Crimson Field girls must fight harder than ever. Their challenge is the Newcomers' Tournament, and their performance in this venue will determine just how far the team can go. But Nobara's distracted when she learns that one of her not-so-secret admirers seeks to crush Yushin and destroy the boys' team! All that matters to 15-year-old Nobara Sumiyoshi is volleyball--she's an awesome player with big-time ambitions. But sometimes it seems like a girl just can't get a break in the competitive world of high school volleyball.

Crimson Hero is one of my favourite "go-to"s; regardless of whether I'm down or happy, it's always enjoyable and entertaining. Needless to say, with such a great track record for the previous eleven volumes, I had pretty high expectations for volume twelve to live up to. And I'm pleased to report that this latest installment exceeded those expectations, as usual.

Mitsuba Takanashi has really hit the perfect balance with Crimson Hero - it's got a spunky leading lady, yummy YA boys, teen drama... but what sets it apart is that it also has volleyball action. Because there's a more concrete plot to the [series], it just manages to achieve that extra level of depth in both situations explored and characters developed.

Nobara, Yushin, Haibuki, Tomo... I love them all! (Excuse me for a second while I have a little fan-moment ;) In all seriousness, Takanashi's characters are all exceedingly realistic, faced with contemporary situations that readers can relate to. With her beautiful artwork, Takanashi has struck that perfect balance between romantic teen fluff and raging sports action. Volume 12 in particular may comparatively have a little less fluff, but it more than makes up for it in terms of action and plot development. The events that occur are definitely pretty shocking, and through the way the group handles it, we get a further glimpse into their characterizations.

The situations that occur definitely leave you on the edge of your seat, wondering what's going to happen next, feeling the fear, the infuriation, the injustice... basically just feeling all the emotions because that's how drawn in you'll be. The story just really comes alive, and I would definitely encourage you to check out this series if you haven't already. Even when I've had a sad day, reading Crimson Hero is often able to get me laughing out loud - literally!

Of course, if this is your first introduction to Crimson Hero, definitely start with volume 1. For those of you who are already avid manga fans, I'm sure you'll be drawn in from the very first page. For those of you who haven't been exposed to manga before and are a little more hesitant - don't be. Personally, I've read maybe five or six manga series - and Crimson Hero is the one I simply can't put down. Every time I find myself a little sad as I near the end of each volume, knowing that I'll be in eager anticipation for the next. It would be really awesome to see Crimson Hero made into a drama someday too, actually. (Takanashi's Akuma de Soro was made into a drama a few years ago - Devil Beside You, which starred Rainie Yang, Mike He and Kingone Wang.)

With gorgeous artwork, lovable characters and an action-packed plot, Crimson Hero basically an artistic masterpiece.

*Have you also reviewed [any volume(s)] of Crimson Hero? Drop a link below.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

All Unquiet Things Review

All Unquiet Things - Anna Jarzab
*January 12th, 2010 Delacorte

Carly: She was sweet. Smart. Self-destructive. She knew the secrets of Brighton Day School’s most privileged students. Secrets that got her killed.

Neily: Dumped by Carly for a notorious bad boy, Neily didn’t answer the phone call she made before she died. If he had, maybe he could have helped her. Now he can’t get the image of her lifeless body out of his mind.

Audrey: She’s the reason Carly got tangled up with Brighton’s fast crowd in the first place, and now she regrets it—especially since she’s convinced the police have put the wrong person in jail. Audrey thinks the murderer is someone at Brighton, and she wants Neily to help her find out who it is.

As reluctant allies Neily and Audrey dig into their shared past with Carly, her involvement with Brighton’s dark goings-on comes to light. But figuring out how Carly and her killer fit into the twisted drama will force Audrey and Neily to face hard truths about themselves and the girl they couldn’t save.

Anna Jarzab's brilliant debut All Unquiet Things is anything but quiet. With gorgeous writing, an interesting premise and original plot, this is one tome that speaks volumes.

At its core, All Unquiet Things is a contemporary mystery story of sorts. And that's great to see in today's YA market. Even more impressive is the fact that it's a finely woven mystery. It's got just the right amount of twist that actually takes some effort to figure out even for those that are usually able to predict endings fairly well.

The format of the way the story told really augments its effectiveness. The going back and forth (chronologically) and changing perspectives offers different perspectives and insights, which also aids to further draw the reader in. One slight thing would be that the voices of Audrey and Neily could have been a little more distinct, as at times it did seem a little difficult to differentiate. Nevertheless, Jarzab's got an awesome writing style and beautiful phrasing.

Carly, Neily, Audrey, Cass... All Unquiet Things is chockful of interesting and intriguing characters. The content matter is also on a different level - Carly knew "secrets that got her killed" (Jarzab synopsis). The situations encountered by the characters are heart-poundingly dangerous with very severe consequences. That definitely adds a level of action and adventure to the story.

With varied characters, an intriguing mystery plot and beautiful writing, All Unquiet Things is bound to be a hit.

Anna Jarzab | IndieBound | Goodreads

Have you reviewed All Unquiet Things as well? Drop a link below.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (8)

Before I Fall - Lauren Oliver
*March 2nd, 2010 HarperCollins
What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all—looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12th should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it’s her last. The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. In fact, she re-lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she had ever imagined.

This week's pick's premise sounds great, doesn't it? Kind of TOK-esque, which is nice (going through withdrawl slightly, as the course ended last semester). It also kind of reminds me of that one episode of Supernatural... and the cover does seem to slightly resemble that of Anna Jarzab's All Unquiet Things.

The synopsis sounds very open-ended, so there's definitely a fair amount of curiosity to see just how Oliver spins this yarn. Especially since thus far, Before I Fall has received rave reviews.

But now that you've seen my pick, what are you waiting on, this Wednesday?

*WoW is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Operation Beautiful & Tell Her She's Beautiful

A year ago today, I shared a post about To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA), a non-profit movement "dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. [TWLOHA] exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery" (TWLOHA site).

This year, I would like to share two other great initiatives. Hopefully it provokes some thoughts and inspires you.

Operation Beautiful
The concept behind Operation Beautiful is ingeniously simple. All that's needed is a pen and paper. You write inspiring messages, something paraphrasing along the lines of the recipient being beautiful as they are, and leave them in public places, such as bathrooms, anonymously.

Check out the Operation Beautiful website for more details and some pictures of sample Post-It messages left by others. Just to give you guys some examples -
"Never be afraid to be different. Beauty is unique. I [heart] U."

"Smile :) You're beautiful!"

"BEAUTIFUL. Don't believe differently."
Isn't that wonderful? This is such a great thing to do, and inject some self-esteem back into the youth of today. I'm figuring I'll give it a go, start leaving notes. What about you? I really hope you'll give it a try too. Remember: you are beautiful.

Tell Her She's Beautiful
This other one is creating quite a splash on Facebook, as that's where at started as an Event. Now, officially the event lasts from February 11th to February 14th (today), but it's been seeing such great feedback so far that a group as been created to continue the event year-long. You can find the group here.

Again, the basic concept behind this initiative is to combat the self-consciousness/self-deprecation of this day and age. Also ingeniously simple - "Let's show every girl that they really are beautiful. So tell them, it'll make their day. Girls, you ARE beautiful" (Facebook event).

It's also inspiring to see that this event was started by a guy in grade 12 at a high school in Toronto. There's hope for today's youth. As of this time, the event has well over a million confirmed attendances. Now that is truly awe-inspiring power used for good.

Now go do it. Go tell someone they're beautiful.

Thanks for reading. Happy Valentine's Day.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mockingjay Cover

The cover for Mockingjay, the final installment of Suzanne Collins' highly acclaimed trilogy that began with The Hunger Games and continued with Catching Fire, has been released today. And what a cover it is!

For one thing, it's a beautiful shade of blue. For another - doesn't the cover seem to be just teeming with symbolism? I mean, the first two covers demonstrated obvious correlations and parallel structure - and so does this one. But the centre circle - it's bursting apart! Do they represent the districts, and the freedom gained? In fact, the bird on this cover - posture-wise, orientation, etc. does seem to seem more self-confident, more free somehow. The others seem to be almost held captive by their respective circles - this one's got its wings spread out to full wingspan, ready to take flight.

What a beautiful title too; Mockingjay. Even the ring of it sounds beautiful. Also interesting to note that THG had three words, in the title, CF two, and now M one. Almost like we're counting down, y'know?

And for comparison's sake, here are the two earlier counterparts of the trilogy's covers:
Certainly Collins has lucked out with a series of great covers over the course of this series. Do you guys have a favourite? Any predictions on the final outcome and/or events of this third installment?

My review of The Hunger Games; alas, haven't gotten around to reviewing Catching Fire yet, despite delving into day of its release. Here's the Scholastic blog, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly's takes on the cover.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (7) (+ Excerpt)

Hex Hall - Rachel Hawkins
*March 2nd, 2010 Hyperion

When Sophie Mercer turned thirteen, she discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-Gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father--an elusive European warlock--only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hecate Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward prodigium, a.k.a. witches, fae, and shapeshifters. By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard. Three powerful enemies who look like supermodels; a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock; a creepy, tag-along ghost; and a new roommate, who happens to be the most-hated person and only vampire on campus. Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her friend Jenna is the number one suspect. Meanwhile, Sophie has a more personal shock to grapple with. Not only is her father the head of the prodigium council, he's the most powerful warlock in the world, and Sophie is his heir. As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all prodigium, especially her.
Haven't done WoW in a looong while, but possibly starting again. Anyway - this week's pick is Rachel Hawkins' Hex Hall. Early reviews of it have been pretty amazing, so it'll be great to see how this one turns out. Plus, the release date's not that far away!

Also, be sure to drop by here to catch an early glimpse of the first chapter of Hex Hall.

But now that you've seen my pick, what are you waiting on, this Wednesday?

*WoW is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Gone Review

Gone - Lisa McMann
*February 9th, 2010 Simon Pulse

Janie thought she knew what her future held. And she thought she'd made her peace with it. But she can't handle dragging Cabel down with her.

She knows he will stay with her, despite what she sees in his dreams. He's amazing. And she's a train wreck. Janie sees only one way to give him the life he deserves--she has to disappear. And it's going to kill them both.

Then a stranger enters her life--and everything unravels. The future Janie once faced now has an ominous twist, and her choices are more dire than she'd ever thought possible. She alone must decide between the lesser of two evils. And time is running out...

Lisa McMann has built up a brilliant track record thus far with the first two books in the Dream Catcher trilogy, Wake and Fade (Fade review). With the final installment, McMann pulls it off again, bringing the story to a brilliant conclusion with Gone.

Writing-wise, Gone basically meets expectations. It's great to get another dose of McMann's unique writing style. The fragmented sentences, the exhilarating rush that accompanies it... there's something almost poetic about the diction choice, and the way they're selectively arranged. It definitely creates a sense of rushed immediacy, which injects tension and suspense into the narrative superbly.

Character development is continued nicely - we get more of a sense of Cabel and Janie - and the minor characters - as people. Getting familiarized with their motivations and thought processes definitely increases intimacy and augments credibility. There seems to be a bit of an exchange of action for character progression in Gone.

One of the great things about the trilogy has been its ability to provoke thought. Gone is no exception - McMann introduces interesting dilemmas which will doubtlessly cause you to self-reflect and wonder what you would do in that situation. The situation continued and rearranged and then posed in a new way in Gone is definitely a difficult, but well laid out, one. Which brings me to another point. Regarding the dilemma, there seems to be one answer that could potentially work out - yet this is neither proved or disproved, and more or less ignored. Hopefully this wasn't an oversight; but alas, as Gone is the final installment, guess we won't find out.

McMann brings the story to a very fitting conclusion with Gone. It's a fulfilling ending, which makes sense (mostly) and brings about a degree of satisfaction. With poetic writing, raw characters and an intriguing plot, Lisa McMann's Gone is bound to be another great success.

Fade Review | Goodreads | IndieBound | Lisa McMann

If you've reviewed Gone as well, link your review below.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...