Archive for the ‘BRR: Books Recently Read’ Category

Manga: Tsubasa –Reservoir Chronicle– by CLAMP

March 21, 2011

Tsubasa, Volume 1

Title: Tsubasa –Reservoir Chronicle–
Author: CLAMP
Publisher: Del Ray
Volumes: 28 (completed)
Publication: 2003-2009
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Romance, Crossover
Anime: 2 seasons, 52 episodes (completed)

[Forgive the long review, dear blogee—the following paragraphs encompass several works, and take some time to explain!]

I’ll tell you something about myself: I hate starting a series with no end in sight. So when the last volume of Tsubasa came out recently, there was finally an end to the six-month+ long cliffhangers (imagine the happy dance, if you will). Of course, I didn’t learn about my extreme aversion to cliffhangers until after I had already started in on the series many a year ago. Frankly, even if I had, I probably would have started reading it anyway; after all, it’s CLAMP!

CLAMP self-portrait, manga-styleI trust you’re familiar with the Japanese power-quad mangaka (comic artist) group? No? Run, don’t walk, to the library and grab any of their previous series: Chobits, X/1999, Tokyo Babylon, Cardcaptor Sakura, Clover, Magic Knight Rayearth, RG Veda—just to name a few. Each series offers gorgeous art, compelling storylines and characters you’ll never forget.

In fact, the characters are so memorable, almost all of them show up in Tsubasa! The two main characters, Sakura and Syaoran, star in—as you may have guessed—Cardcaptor Sakura; one of CLAMP’s most popular series, and a steadfast member of the magical girl genre. Although this Sakura and Syaoran look exactly the same as in CLAMP’s previous series, it soon becomes apparent they do not occupy the world we’re used to seeing them in.

Tsubasa Main Cast: (back) Fai, Sakura, Kurogane, (front) SyaoranHowever, their attachment to each other has reached across universes; something you’ll find is a common theme with characters from other series. When Sakura loses her memories and is put into a catatonic state, Syaoran visits the Dimensional Witch, Yūko (from CLAMP’s parallel series, xXxHolic), and pleads with her to save Sakura. Two other original characters, under varying circumstances, show up at the same time and place to make a request of their own. However, no wish can be granted without giving up what they cherish most. In order to fulfill the trio’s wishes, they must journey to various dimensions, in order to regain Sakura’s memories and restore her to her former self.

Confused? Don’t worry, CLAMP tells the story much better than I do. If you’re apprehensive about reading Tsubasa without first going through all their previous material—don’t be. It’s definitely not essential to be a guru in all things CLAMP in order to enjoy the series. Although you’ll miss out on all your fangirl/boy squeals when your would-be favorite characters show up in the group’s travels (X/1999’s Sorata and Arashi? I don’t normally partake of the fangirl colloquialisms, but *squee*!!—read the series; you’ll understand why it’s a big deal). My only complaint with the series was that it was a bit hard to follow at times. Likely reading it all at once would remedy this—yet another reason to love finished series!

xXxHolic characters: Watanuki, Dōmeki, Mokona, Yūko

As you’re reading through Tsubasa, don’t forget to keep up with its sister series, xXxHolic. It follows Watanuki Kimihiro, who, despite his somber appearance, is typically quite energetic, though not in a happy-go-lucky way. Possessing the unwanted ability to see spirits, Watanuki stumbles upon Yūko’s wish-granting shop, where he promptly finds himself employed in order to work off his wish of one day being normal. The art has a very dark and smoky vibe, which I absolutely adored. The spastic Watanuki and the life-loving, sagely Yūko make a great team for a great read. So far 16 volumes are out in English. It’s unknown when the series will be completed, but I’ll keep gobbling it up anyway!

tl;dr (too long; didn’t read): Everything CLAMP makes is awesome, so by Transitive Property, Tsubasa is awesome!

BRR: Anna and the French Kiss

February 16, 2011

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie PerkinsTitle: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins

First Impressions: Honestly? I didn’t think I would like it! I had two friends LOVE the book and another friend LOATHE the book, and after reading their arguments about whether or not St. Clair was a jerk for leading on both Anna and his girlfriend or about whether Anna was weak/whiny for obsessing over him, I thought I would be on the disliking team.

Last Impressions: LOVED it! I could not put it down. And funnily enough, I still agree with a lot of my friend-who-loathed-it’s comments, except the part where she thought Anna and St. Clair’s actions made them (and thus the book) unlikable. I agree that they didn’t always handle the situation the best, but they handled it exactly how I imagine I would if I was Anna. She is such an amazing character because she makes mistakes and then learns from them–and yeah, she obsesses over a boy who is “off-limits,” but haven’t we all? (Hellooooo, Justin Timberlake.) And she never loses her individual personality; she is a neat-freak, sneaker-wearing, film-loving, future movie critic whether St. Clair likes her or not. And double yeah, this is a book about a romance, but it feel it is much more a coming-of-age novel about a girl who learns the pros and cons of growing into an independent woman. in Paris. with a hot, curly-haired guy who has a British accent. and they fall in love. squeeeeel :-)

Favorite Moment (POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT): When Anna and St. Clair hung out over Thanksgiving, running and screaming around the dorms while everyone else was gone for the holiday–so many lovely goosebump moments! I also loved every time Anna blushed because I am a total blusher, too.

Least Favorite Moment: Anna’s low low point. Where it all spins outta control. You’ll know the part I mean when you read it. Lets just agree that mean people are the WORST. I just wanted to call her up and be like “ummm, you don’t me, but I read about what is happening right now and I just wanted to give you a hug.”

Quote from the book:

World's Largest Crossword PuzzleTime passes quickly for an eight-hour flight.

We don’t talk about what waits on the other side of the ocean. Not his mother. Not Toph. Instead, we browse Skymall. We play the if-you-had-to-buy-one-thing-off-each-page game. He laughs when I choose the hot-dog toaster, and I tease him about the fogless shower mirror and the world’s largest crossword puzzle.

“At least they’re practical,” he says.

Thoughts on the bookcover: Cute…but how come publishers never want to make the girls on covers look like the actual characters? where is Anna’s tooth gap? where is the bleached streak in her hair? Although the whole image of the unknown guy sitting just out of reach is perfecto.

An ideal place to read this book:
in an outdoor cafe! or maybe in a movie theater while you are waiting for a movie to start! or in Paris!!!

Dream Cast: Emma Stone for Anna (I think Emma Stone should be in EVERY movie.) and Aaron Johnson for St. Clair.

People who should read this: Anyone who likes romances, or books set in Europe, or stories about friendships, or any combination of the above :-)

People who should not read this: well there is not much obvious boy appeal, but I can see it enjoyed by boys who do appreciate smart romances with lots of snarkiness (I have several guy friends who love chick-flicks like When in Rome, etc–they would totally love this!). Also, my friend who LOATHES it should not re-read it.

If you like this book, you may also like: 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson, Heist Society by Ally Carter, I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

BRR: Drama High: The Fight

January 27, 2011


Title: Drama High: The Fight
Author: L. Divine
Other books in series or Standalone: First book in the Drama High series

Drama High: The FightFirst Impressions: Wow, Jayd seems like a girl who earns respect and admiration.
Last Impressions: Wow, I totally respect and admire Jayd.

Favorite Moment (POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT): I really really loved how L. Divine made Jayd so real–it seems like a lot of authors either make their characters really rich or really poor. Jayd, however, is somewhere in the middle. She has enough money to save up for some cute clothes and name-brand lip gloss, but she doesn’t have much space to store her stuff at her grandmother’s house so she organizes everything into garbage bags. Even though Jayd is in high school, I found her living situation almost reminded me more of living in the dorms in college (but she had access to way better food).
Least Favorite Moment: Well, as the name suggests, the story is all about a girl who wants to fight Jayd because she wrongly believes Jayd is after her boyfriend. So for most of the book, I was all “AHHH WHY DOESN’T THIS SILLY GIRL UNDERSTAND THAT JAYD IS NOT STEALING HER BOYFRIEND AND LAY OFF?!” which I am sure is exactly how Divine wanted her readers to feel, but omigosh it was so frustrating!

An ideal place to read this book: On the bus ride home from school or for a needed break from homework.

Dream Cast: Keke Palmer as Jayd, Kerry Washington or Tracie Thoms as Jayd’s Mom, Meagan Good as Jayd’s friend Mickey, and I haven’t decided for Mama, Misty or the boys…

People who should read this: I would probably most recommend the Drama High series to girls in high school or college who want a fun, but not frivolous, book as a break from their study study study. But, a guy might enjoy this series, too (there is a lot of guys’ perspective on relationships which is interesting).

If you like this book, you may also like: Jayd has a lot in common with the heroines of two other BRR books–Scarlett of Suite Scarlett/Scarlett Fever and Mary Quinn of The Agency series–all girls with strong opinions and character, but who still feel unsure of themselves at times. Drama High fans might also enjoy books by Ni-Ni Simone and Nikki Carter.

Drama High website:

BRR: The Agency 1: A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee

August 4, 2010

A Spy in the House by Y.S. LeeTitle: The Agency 1: A Spy in the House
Author: Y.S. Lee
Other books in series: The Agency 2: The Body at the Tower comes out Aug. 10!
First Impressions: I read the first chapter online at Amazon and was completely hooked.
Last Impressions: I could NOT put it down–I loved how Lee took the popular “Victorian Boarding School” novel, and pushed it forward so the story is actually what happens AFTER Mary Quinn, the feisty narrator, finishes her education and is out causing scandal in the real world. How did women live back then?! I also loved the suspense created by Mary having to live within the home of the people she was spying on–You think this would make spying easier? ummm not so much. You might just get stuck in a wardrobe with a very attractive stranger…wait…that doesn’t sound soooo bad.
Favorite Moment (POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT): I thought I knew the reason why Mary was so protective about her past, so I was completely shocked when the real reason was revealed–it made her even more of a compelling and kick-butt heroine.
Least Favorite Moment: There was lots and lots of talk the horrible stench of the Thames that almost made me want to vomit.
Bring back the bonnet!Thoughts on the bookcover: Classic mystery cover–I am totally enchanted by the glowing windows reflecting onto her face and bonnet. YES BONNET! I have an unexplained fascination with bonnets…
An ideal place to read this book: on a bench overlooking the Mississippi River. preferably on a non-stinky day.
Dream Cast: Katie Leung or Gemma Arterton as Mary Quinn, Shia LeBeouf as James Easton, and Dakota Fanning as Miss Thorold.
If you like this book, you may also like: Graceling by Kristin Cashore or Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary “Jacky” Faber, Ship’s Boy by L.A. Meyer. You might also want to watch Manor House –a BBC reality show from a few years ago where one family was chosen to live as a wealthy family and a group of strangers had to work as their servants. They live as if in the Edwardian time, not the Victorian, but it still extremely fascinating to watch how people from modern society both fight and succumb to the class separations. Also, Scullery Maid???? gotta be the WORST job ever.

BRR: Into the Wild Nerd Yonder

July 22, 2010

  Into the Wild Nerd Yonder
Author:  Julie Halpern
First Impressions:  Yay! 
Last Impressions:  Soooo glad that the main character is a young adult who makes wise decisions and is not afraid to follow her own path.  Woot.  I actually liked the author’s work enough to reserve a copy of her first book Get Well Soon.  Can’t wait til it comes in!  Seriously, I put it on reserve last week but then I almost bought it at Borders yesterday but I remained calm (somehow) and left without buying a thing, which is a true miracle.  Did I mention I can’t wait until it comes in?!  Ahhhhhhhhhhh.
Favorite Moment:  The relationship between Jessie and her older punk rock brother, Barrett, is cool to see and makes me wish I had an older (punk rock) brother.
Thoughts on the bookcover:  Eyecatching cover but never jumped off the shelves and into my hands.  Basically, I casually flirted with the book for about 6 months before taking it home to read.  But then I couldn’t keep my eyes off of it. Sigh.
An ideal place to read this book:  On a bus ride, nestled in a comfy chair at a struggling coffee shop, or in an orthodonitist’s waiting room.
People who should read this:  Anyone who likes a book that can momentarily reference Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  YEAH!
People who should not read this:  Your Grandpa.  Maybe.  I don’t know.
If you like this book, you may also like:  Lyga’s Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy & Goth Girl; Cecil Castellucci’s awesome books like Beige and Queen of Cool;  or Carolyn Mackler’s Vegan Virgin Valentine and its sequel Guyaholic.

BRR: Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson

July 2, 2010

Title: Scarlett Fever
Author: Maureen Johnson
Other books in series: Suite Scartlett
First Impressions: I really, really liked Suite Scarlett, but I didn’t love it. so I was curious to see if my affections would go up or down with the sequel.
Last Impressions: My affections totally went up! I adored Scarlett in Scarlett Fever–she becomes a bit more neurotic, a bit more pathetic (in that she watches her ex-boyfriend’s youtube video HUNDREDS of times) and completely relatable.
Least Favorite Moment: When I read the exasperating cliffhanger ending and realized that I may have to wait a few years for the next book in the series. blink blink sigh.
Thoughts on the bookcover:LOVE IT–it is simple but completely fabulous. I think it is so cool how the designer incorporates some aspect of the story or its setting into the teeth of the keys (hearts for Scarlett Fever and a city skyline for Suite Scartlett)
An ideal place to read this book: At a cozy, hip cafe located in a beautiful, historic building. Ex. Mojo’s in the River Music Experience on 2nd Street in Davenport.
Dream Cast: Juno Temple would be PERFECT to play Scarlett in a movie. Hmmm… and they could even change the city from New York to London so she could use her lovely British accent!
If you like this book, you may also like: Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle Trilogy. I think Scarlett and Gemma should be best friends forever.