Posts Tagged ‘supernatural’
Has Miki fallen too hard? It’s summer, and Miki Yoshida is learning all about love. Her senior year has blossomed with promise ever since she gained Hiro Sakurai’s confidence. Now, she’s resolved to keep his trust as he reveals more about his secret mission and warns: “Don’t get involved!”"But Miki fears his work might do more harm than good, and she takes control—with disastrous results. How can trying to make things right turn out so dangerously wrong?
Review: I’m really enjoying the Miki Falls series! Summer takes place a few months after the first volume, Spring, but readers new to this series don’t necessarily need to read the first book in order to enjoy this latest installment. Crilley provides enough recap to not drag the story down and continues at a good pace to keep the story moving forward. Miki has been successful in gaining Hiro’s confidence and discovered his big secret. Now the two have formed a strong friendship as Miki learns about what exactly Hiro’s special mission entails. As Miki learns more about Hiro and his past, she begins to realize that her place next to Hiro is impossible yet she can’t help but feel close to him and she thinks Hiro feels the same.
In Summer, we see Miki and Hiro become more dimensional characters. While Hiro tries to back away from Miki and conceal his feelings for her, Miki pushes forward and dares to ask why. She refuses to take no as an answer and doesn’t dissolve into a pool of tears, which is one of the reasons why I like her so much. Similarly Hiro struggles with his choice of doing his duty or listening to his heart. More information about Hiro’s job is provided in the book, which is really unique and interesting. We also see a female acquaintance of Hiro’s past that adds more tension to this sweet love story.
Miki Falls is an OEL, original English language manga-style graphic novel series. It is perfect for those readers who are hesitate about reading Japanese manga yet curious about the stories they contain. The soft black and white illustrations perfectly complement this gentle story about first love. I especially love the set up of separate panels that express the emotions that run across the character’s faces making them real. I hope that you pick up Miki Falls and I look forward to reading Autumn, the third volume of the series.
Readalikes: Miki Falls Volume 3: Autumn by Mark Crilley
Briony committed a crime. She killed her stepmother and made her twin sister, Rose, sick. Briony’s guilt is a cloak that she wraps herself and now can’t imagine not wearing it. To escape from her burden, she goes to the swamp where she tells stories to the Old Ones, the spirits who haunt the marshes. In addition to her overbearing guilt, Briony can also see the Old Ones, a clear indication that she is a witch and therefore should be sentenced to death. Briony lives in fear her secret will be found out, even as she believes she deserves the worst kind of punishment.
Then a young lad named Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes and mane of tawny hair. He’s as natural as the sun, and treats her as if she’s extraordinary. And everything starts to change. As many secrets as Briony has been holding, there are secrets even she doesn’t know.
Review: Chime is a gorgeously written novel, where each word, each character, and each setting were carefully chosen and used effectively. After reading the first page of the book, I knew this book would be different. The dialogue and society evoked an old fashioned fairy tale story. What sets Chime apart from the numerous other books that focus on folklore is its unique use of magic and settings of swamps. I’ve never thought of a swamp being a magical place before, but Billingsley makes it work.
Along with the fabulous world building, the characters of Chime are really the best part of the book. Briony is the narrator of our story. We spend much time in her head. The use of stream of consciousness is expertly done in Chime. I was completely immersed in Briony’s tortured and complex psyche. Her voice is so strong and so distinct. Her guilt is palpable and makes you feel like you are carrying her world on your shoulders. For much of the novel, Briony suffers from self hatred and shame. She believes she is the sole person responsible in bringing chaos to her family and should be sentenced to death because of this. Though she did get a bit whiny at times, I found her to be strong willed and she didn’t always make the right choices, which reminded her and the reader that despite her claims of what she is, she retains her humanity. I have to confess that I didn’t warm up to Briony right away and it’s really not her fault either. Her name just echoed a character with the same name that I detested and who actually should feel guilty and ashamed for what she’d done- Briony from Atonement by Ian McEwan. I took me a few pages to get over that bump.
Eldric, Briony’s love interest, is wonderful. His charming, out going, adventurous and laid back attitude balances Briony’s dark mood. He really lights up the pages. He and Briony worked so well together, and I’m pleased to say that their relationship seemed real. It was based on friendship and then advanced to young love rather than young lust. Their interactions, jokes and banter, felt very real and helped balance the dark, heavy themes of the book.
Rose, Briony’s sister, who is mentally compromised, is sweet and young at heart. Though people are quick to dismiss her as being ill, she is much keen and observant of her surroundings. Rose’s participation in Briony’s mysterious is crucial to unlocking what really happened to her and their stepmother.
What deterred me the most from loving Chime is that the plot moved very slowly, particularly in the first half of the book. I found many of the plot twists to be predictable and knew them before they occurred in the story. The pace does pick up during the second half as we learn more about Eldric’s father’s plan to drain the swamp which has made the Old Ones unhappy, particularly the Boggy Mun, who has plagued the village’s children with swamp cough in retaliation. When Rose’s lingering illness turns into a cough, Briony knows that she must do whatever it takes, even revealing her secrets, to save her sister. After a while, I stopped reading the book for its plot but rather sat back and watched Briony come to an epiphany about what is true and false about a mystery that has consumed her life. Though the descriptions allude that Eldric is solely responsible for her awakening, he really isn’t. He does indeed help Briony but it is Briony herself who slowly puts the pieces together and has the strength to accept the consequences. That being said, Chime is a brilliantly written book that does include a very dark, gritty, magical world along with just the right dose of romance to prevent being steeped into darkness, but it is ultimately a novel that explores the tortured psyche and the powerful forces of guilt, redemption, and self love. If you decide to pick this book up, just be patient and keep reading. It does get better once you get through the slow half.
Readalikes: Gemma Doyle series by Libba Bray or The Prophecy of Sisters by Michelle Zink
Description: Miki is ready for adventure and romance. She is tired of being a pushover and vows that her senior year of high school will be different. She will be confident and in charge. Her senior resolution is called into question when Miki sets her sights on Hiro, a tall, handsome new boy at school who is determined to be antisocial. Miki thinks Hiro is putting on a show and hiding a dangerous secret, but what is it? Miki is determined to find out.
Review: Miki Falls is exactly what I needed at the moment. After reading a few titles that left me in a “blah” mood, Miki Falls is a fresh of breath air for me and I’m so glad that I picked it up. As the story begins, Miki is both literally and figuratively falling out of a window and possibly in love too. We learn that Miki threw herself outside of a third story window. The reason is not given, however, we think it has to do something with Hiro, the mysterious and distant new boy that enrolled in Miki’s high school as Miki beings to explain on how everything happened.
Miki is a extremely likable teen. She is trying to confront her insecurities and no longer wants to be passive. She wants to take charge of her life, which at times makes her impulsive and stubborn especially when she refuses to be avoided by Hiro. She goes out of her way to be nice to him and to speak to him even though he has continually expressed his disinterest in anyone yet Miki sees a vulnerability in Hiro, a person who is much like herself- a rule follower and not living life.
Hiro is your typical brooding love interest who is hiding a secret. I liked how his revelation is an odd twist and something that I didn’t guess. Crilley does a great job in building suspense and mystery surrounding Hiro’s past and his mood swings. I can’t wait to see how the supernatural aspect of the book develops in the next three series.
I really enjoyed Crilley’s manga-like format. Unlike manga’s the book does not read from right to left nor are the illustrations squeezed into panels. A lot of the illustrations are crisscrossing sequential panels that emphasize art as well as furthering the plot, which allows the story’s emotion, humor, and drama unfold in front of the readers. My favorite part of the illustrations are the focus on the eyes of the characters that are cut in between dialogue to heighten the characters’ sense of vulnerability, confusion, and shock. Crillye’s light shading and unique facial features give the book a softer and romantic feel.
If you are curious about manga but a bit afraid of it’s format, I would highly suggest to pick up the Miki Falls series not only to read a great story but also to experience what reading a manga might feel like. Even though the characters are in their teens, I think this series has a wide age appeal very much similar to the Twilight Saga due to a chaste yet passionate love story. It’s definitely worth checking it out.
If you like this book try: Miki Falls Volume 2: Summer by Mark Crilley
Description: When Garth Hale is accidentally zapped into the ghost world by Frank Gallows, an underachieving ghost wrangler. Frank Gallows, he finds out that he has some awesome super powers. When the evil ruler of Ghostopolis discovers Garth in his kingdom, he desperately searches for the young boy who will allow him to keep a tighter grip in his afterlife world. Will Garth be able to survive and make his way back home? Will Frank Gallows come to Ghostopolis to have save Garth or will it be too late?
Review: Ghostopolis is an enjoyable read. The story is unique and filled with humor as well as heart. The world building of the Ghostopolis is quite good, however, I would have liked a little more of an explanation of how it came to be than what was provided in the graphic novel. There is a balance between narrative panels and wordless passages such as two mummified squirrels fighting for the same acorn that keep readers interested and stay on task with the plot.
While there is a diverse cast of characters, whom I’m sure many readers will like and feel invested in their adventures, I thought they were a bit flat and lacked character development. The book takes its time establishing Ghostopolis and Garth’s plight in finding a way to get back home, however, I thought the ending was very rushed in the end. Even though some loose ties are tied up, I thought some important themes were glossed over and I still had some questions that were unanswered. It’s also hard not to notice the strong religious overtones in the story, however, I enjoyed the dry humor of the book. I think Ghostopolis might be a good step for readers who aren’t ready to tackle the frightening and weird tales of Neil Gaiman. Young readers should dig the graphic novel’s creep factor, adventure, and humor.
Readalikes: Coraline by Neil Gaiman or Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Nora Grey gets more than she bargains for when her biology teacher rearranges the seating chart. Instead of goofing off with her best friend, Vee, Nora is stuck with Patch Cipriano, the mysterious transfer student. Patch is sardonic, intriguing, and seems to know an awful lot about Nora. But Patch has secrets of his own, secrets that Nora is determined to uncover. In doing so, she finds herself thrown in the middle of a conflict of supernatural proportions.
Author Becca Fitzpatrick falls into one of the major traps of the Girl-is-Mysteriously-Drawn-to-Mysterious-Boy subgenre: creating a supernatural stalker rather than a romantic hero (or even anti-hero). Patch frequently makes Nora uncomfortable and delights in frightening her, but Fitzpatrick chooses to label these traits as romantic rather than problematic, which came off as rather disturbing to this reader. Nora begins the book as an interesting character with a refreshing sarcastic bite, but slowly deteriorates to a unremarkable swooning dope. The book also suffers from some structural problems—the plot moseys between weird incidents for about 300 pages before leaping into a double climax that feels entirely unrelated to most of the plot.
Crescendo, the sequel to Hush, Hush, will be published on October 19, 2010. I might be willing to give Crescendo a chance in the hope that Fitzpatrick will better tackle some of the issues that arose in Hush, Hush. Hush, Hush will appeal to readers who can enjoy its premise while overlooking its flaws. Readers looking for other modern fantasy titles might enjoy Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr (see my review here), Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, and Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.
Pros: Interesting premise, stunning cover art.
Cons: Inconsistent pacing, unhealthy romantic relationships portrayed as acceptable.
Review by Martha