Writing Prompt Wednesday!

It’s the middle of summer and you know what that means! Well, it can mean anything, from reading, to writing, to movies, to food! Write about one or more of the following:

-summer horror

-summer romance

-barbecue

-a nostalgic moment

-fireworks

-ice cream

You can mix and match if you want; whatever gets those creative juices flowing. Or just write about summer in general. Whatever it means for you. Good luck and happy writing!

 

Sunday funday, Manga Madness

So, I finally finished (mostly) the books mentioned in Manga Madness and The Box 

I have read the first four volumes of Requiem of Rose King, the fourth volume of the Skip Beat! big edition and Goliath.

I don’t have a review/summary for Scott Westerfeld’s Goliath. I will say I have thoroughly enjoyed the trilogy and the last one was a perfect ending for me.

I feel like I’m finally making some progress in my reading list. My manga pile is dwindling and I am that much closer to getting to the novel-type books I have waiting.

Although I did end up adding another box the pile. Curse you, library book sales with your $1 paperbacks and your fill-up-a-bag-and-it’s-$3!! T_T

I might have a problem. o_o

Meh. Oh well.

eBook Finish! Zodiac (Zodiac #1)

zodiac

Book 1 in Romina Russell’s Zodiac series is a YA sci-fi featuring-you guessed it!-the zodiac constellations.

Beware the 13th sign

That’s the tagline for this series. In this future universe mankind have settled into twelve houses. These houses are the zodiac, and they’re a system of moons and planets that look like the twelve constellations. The world building based on the zodiac signs was pretty cool and different to me and I liked the mythos that went into this.

So, we have 16-year-old Rhoma Grace from House Cancer who’s a student on one of her planet’s moons as our main character. Her mom left her, her dad, and her brother, and the only thing she ever taught Rho was how to read the stars. One day while having an outdoor (as outdoor as you can get on a moon) concert when her House is attacked. Cancer’s moons are destroyed causing catastrophe on the planet itself and killing the House’s Guardian.

Suddenly, Rho’s world is not only smashed but turned upside down as earlier she kept seeing a vision in the stars. This dark vision points to an old legend about a thirteenth house and its Guardian, Ophiuchus. Rho is then made the new Guardian of her House and while she tries to warn her council of the dangers, they don’t believe her.

After a few encounters with the big baddie himself, Rho sets out to warn the other Houses of danger heading their way. With her is Lodestar Mathias and ambassador Hysan from House Libra which sets up a-you guessed it again!-love triangle. (Telling you right now, Team Hysan! Yes, I’m shipping! Space shipping!)

Uh, anyway.

Needless to say, these other Houses don’t really take her seriously either. An old zodiac boogieman coming to get us? He caused all these calamities? Get real!

The people in this world rely heavily on the “if I can’t see it, it’s not there” philosophy which makes things frustrating for Rho.

Rho has a single-minded purpose of getting the other Houses to believe Ophiuchus is real so they can prepare themselves which prevents any other path to think about. I was left thinking that she wasn’t thinking things through or trying to come up with alternatives if certain things didn’t work out. So you warn these Houses and then what? How are they suppose to protect themselves? Since no one believes you so far, what else could you do in the meantime?

It’s understandable that Rho didn’t think of these things. She’s 16 and is suddenly thrust into the highest position her House has to offer. Everything’s happening too fast and Rho herself says towards the end that she was going at breakneck speed traveling all over the Zodiac. She never got to slow down.

No one really gave her any helpful advice on the journey and the advice she did get from a few fellow Guardians was cryptic and vague. It’s not until after the fact that the meanings sink in.

Rho does try and her perseverance shines through. The other Houses do end up believing her to a point. And I say a point because when they put together an armada to go get Ophiuchus they put her as a figurehead which later doubles as a scapegoat when things end disastrously.

Like adults, the head honchos don’t let her in on any strategy meetings, brush off any concerns she may have, treating her like a child. Okay, little girl, you cried wolf and were right this time. Now stand back and let the adults handle this.

Only they get bitten so to speak. Badly. Then blame it on Rho.

The last few chapters really made me angry for Rho at her treatment. There are hopeful tones at the end though. Rho will stand strong and protect the Zodiac alone or with help.

A good start to a series all-in-all. Romina Russell has a readathon of the current three books going on, all leading up to the release of the fourth and final book.

zodiac_readathon

Check out Russell on twitter @RominaRussell for discussions and more or zodiacbooks.com for info about the Zodiac world. This was a good series to get into and I’m hoping to finish Wandering Star and Black Moon by the time Thirteen Rising comes out. Summer reading is on!

eBook Finish! Dorothy Must Die

I had bought a book by Danielle Paige that was sitting in my eLibrary for a while. I finally finished Dorothy Must Die last week and I immediately wanted the next one (which I bought on Nook already but didn’t read yet).

Dorothy_must_die

Dorothy Must Die is part of a series so I’m making myself read them in a certain order. There are four books in the series-with the last book, End of Oz coming out just recently-and nine prequel novellas. I already finished the first prequel novella, No Place Like Oz and I want to read two more prequel novellas before I get to the next book, The Wicked Will Rise.

But anywho, if you’re looking to start a new YA series with a dark tone, Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must Die might be the end of your search!

As the title suggest, this series isn’t the technicolor fairytale one might think when Frank L. Baum’s world comes to mind. Everybody’s favorite witch-slaying farm girl in the silver slippers is the ruby shoe-wearing villain in this piece and it’s up to another girl from Kansas, Amy Gumm to stop her from sucking all the magic from Oz.

Amy’s not exactly your typical heroine. Amy lives with her drunk mother in a trailer park after her father walks out on them. Amy’s the outcast at school and after a fight with her mother, she gets ready to run away with her pet rat, Star only to realize her mom stole the cash she was hiding away. In true Dorothy fashion, a tornado whisks Amy, Star and the trailer to a place that is anything but what the stories said about Oz.

Amy meets some interesting characters, the first being a strange boy named Pete who rescues her from her trailer falling down a ravine and a punk-styled Munchkin who wants nothing to do with her. Through some unfortunate events, Amy is taken to the Emerald City to the “Princess of Oz” Dorothy.

Again, this is not the humble farm girl who came to Oz the first time. After the events in No Place Like Oz Dorothy has become a tyrant, taking all the magic from Oz while she lives in splendor in the the Emerald City. She kills on a whim and for the slightest infractions, and not only that but acts like a spoiled child.

And she does not like this other girl from Kansas coming in and taking away what she thinks makes her special. Amy is locked up then rescued later on by the Order of the Wicked, a group of wicked and good witches determined to put an end to Dorothy and her posse of corrupt friends.

Amy is forced to make an alliance with Mombi, Wicked Witch of the North, to join the Order and learn fighting and magic to kill Dorothy. The Witches teach Amy magic while Nox, a young man taken in by the Order, teaches her fighting. And yes, there is a love connection in the works. This wouldn’t be YA without it. Not that I’m complaining.

As Amy learns from the Order there are a lot of warnings and parallels drawn between her and Dorothy. They’re the girls from Kansas, outsiders who came from foreign worlds to make change in Oz. Whereas Dorothy helped save Oz once, she came back and is destroying the world. There’s a lot of speculation that Amy can save Oz from Dorothy but a lot of worry she could turn out just like her.

It’s very interesting, the similarities and differences between the two. The only similarities I can really see between the two is they are both from Kansas and have humble origins.

Dorothy grew up an orphan on a small farm under the loving care of her aunt and uncle. Even though she had no parents and did not live an extravagant life, she was still well-loved, first by her aunt and uncle, then by her friends in Oz. But her need to be more, to be loved and worshiped after her witch-slaying fame corrupted her in the end.

Amy grew up with a single mother who descended into alcoholism despite Amy’s attempts to help her. She’s trailer trash who’s picked on by the popular girl. She has no friends except for a pet rat. A rat, not a cute little dog like Toto. I like Star though, and she ends up being quite helpful and a source of some comfort to Amy during her mission in the castle. Amy is alone, feels unwanted by her mom, and angry. In this dark and crumbling Oz, her upbringing helps her handle what comes her way.

Amy is tasked with an undercover mission with one goal: kill Dorothy. Even with vague help from the mysterious gardener, Pete and the Wizard himself, her mission ends in failure. Well, not complete failure. She does gain some new information that could lead her a couple steps closer to killing Dorothy and saving Oz.

This is definitely a darker retelling of Oz where the good is wicked, the wicked is good, and one pink-haired girl is all that stands between one gingham-dressed princess wannabe and the destruction of an entire world.

 

eBook Finish! The Demon Prince of Momochi House, vol. 7

Screenshot_20170610-190128

Last time, we (or should I just say “I”?) were left with this:

wp-1483225326379.jpg

 

Who is Natchi?? How does he know Aoi?? What does he want??? What about the Kagome Park ghost???!!

Anyway.

We start off with Himari and Hayato using an old map from Mr. Natchi to find where the Nanamori (Aoi’s family) home was. When they do find it, there’s nothing but an empty lot. As they turn to head back, Himari spots a figure that matches the ghost’s description. The next day at school Himari’s classmates decide to they should all go investigate!

Screenshot_20170610-190316

At home, Aoi finds Himari’s research notebook she left behind (probably the result of an ayakashi prank). A piece of paper falls out that reads Kagome Park. Aoi reads it and goes quiet prompting Yukari to ask if he’s alright. Aoi says he’s fine and Yukari tells him that while originally believing Aoi’s slump to be thr result of guilty feelings over rejecting Himari, maybe it’s something more than that. Yukari asks if Aoi “has lost something precious to [him].”

At Kagome Park Himari and her classmates are looking around the old park when the Kagome Park ghost appears! He gives the students quite a scare until one of Himari’s friends, Rui lands a karate chop on the true culprit, Senoo. It turns out he put on the costume to scare people and get them to talk about any memories they had of the ghost.

Everyone’s relieved it was just a prank but when Himari asks where Senoo got the cape he replies that he doesn’t remember.

Screenshot_20170610-190435

Hayato has some vague memories of seeing the Kagome Park ghost. He’s sure he saw him but if he did, and didn’t disappear as the story goes, then Hayato suggests that maybe the ghost isn’t a ghost. Maybe it was someone in disguise like Senoo.

Now that the ghost has been unmasked everyone goes home. Hayato offers to walk Himari home but she says she’s fine. Momochi House is hard to find but the path Himari takes goes there directly. She’s just outside the gate when the ghost appears behind Himari; he mentions a child that was invited into Momochi House. Aoi and the others arrive but Himari tells them not to attack; the ghost is possessing Senoo!

The Nue and Shikigami pull Himari and Senoo inside and Senoo is purified. The ghost lets him go and manifests a human form. It seems delighted that it was given entry into Momochi house and asks if Aoi had grown up. Then it suddenly disappears into a cloud of feathers.

Screenshot_20170610-190614

Screenshot_20170610-190746

Everyone’s on the lookout for the ghost as it disappeared on the property. Aoi is having trouble remembering his past, where before, he thought he was fine forgetting everything and eventually becoming an ayakashi. He asks Yukari what it felt like going from ayakashi to human. Yukari tells him he started feeling a distance from everything, even emotions like love. Has Aoi lost precious to him? And is he okay with losing it?

While standing on the porch, a shadow catches his eye but it’s only Himari who just put Tamamo back to sleep after a nightmare. Aoi playfully asks if she’ll put him back to bed too, flustering her. They talk about the ghost where Himari mentions how Hayato saw it and maybe Aoi did too. But he can’t remember and he never thought it would be so painful not to.

He suddenly asks Himari if he can kiss her. Ooh! Flustered, she asks him why to which he simply answers that he wants to. Himari reminds him that he doesn’t see her that way so no, he can’t kiss her. Aoi seems a little flustered himself, saying, “I know I said that but…” It’s obvious he likes her the same way.

Screenshot_20170610-191210

The two are interrupted when one of the little ayakashi suddenly gets bigger and starts a rampage. Zushi comes up behind Aoi before he can turn into the Nue. He’s being possessed by the ghost and tells Aoi to remember. Aoi recognizes the voice speaking through Zushi and it tells him the more he remembers, the stronger their bond will become.

Yukari and Ise come to the rescue but suddenly they can’t move. Aoi realizes this is not the work of an ayakashi. The ghost started to take on a more human shape instead of just a shadow figure. As it stands before Aoi he says, “I know you” to which the ghost replies “You finally remembered me.” It’s Natchi’s face!!

Screenshot_20170610-191334

Himari recognizes her teacher as the gates to Momochi house open and in walks Natchi.

Screenshot_20170610-191402

Walking in like a boss

It turns out, Natchi used to come to Kagome park when Aoi was little. He saw spirits too and would talk to Aoi about them. No one believed Aoi when he said he saw spirits. Same with Nachi. When Nachi was a little boy he was taken to a temple of monks so he could be rid of evil thoughts. Standing under waterfalls and reciting sutras did nothing to keep him from seeing ayakashi. Not wanting to be controlled by these evil spirits Nachi sought to turn the tables. He sought power.

Screenshot_20170614-180157

Soon he hears about Momochi house and the Omamori-sama and about a child who has seen the house. He goes to Kagome park looking for a child to send to Momochi house where he eventually encounters Aoi.

Aoi has had a rough time too, seeing ayakashi, and it’s implied he’s being abused when Nachi notices bruises. Of course, this doesn’t deter him from sending Aoi to Momochi house by telling him his family would be happier if he just disappeared.

Screenshot_20170614-180357

He tells him of a house he could hide in and that he’ll come get Aoi after a while. He gives him a “spell” that will bind them together. So it was Nachi who was behind all those paper seals and cursing Ryujin.

So Nachi’s the one who sent Aoi to be trapped in Momochi house all those years ago. He’s come back now that Aoi’s powers have grown. Nachi has captured and bound other ayakashi to him to control as shikigami and they look like tengu (bird-like spirits). Now Nachi wants the power of Momochi house and Aoi’s as the Omamori-sama.

Screenshot_20170610-191541

Nachi tells Aoi that they are same, both ostracized by the human realm for having spiritual powers. He manages to bind Aoi and tries to start the process to turn him into a shikigami. When Aoi resists, Nachi brings Himari over and uses kotodama (words that have spiritual power) to control her against her will.

Nachi tells Himari to blindfold Aoi as it symbolizes his control over his shikigami. Himari tries to resist but Nachi proves more powerful. Yukari realizes the kotodama as he can actually see the word spell and stabs his eardrum, breaking the spell that held him immobile. Ise manages to break free as well.

Yukari goes to help Aoi but he tells him to bring him something. He doesn’t say what it is as he’s cut off by one of the shikigami attacking. Nonetheless, Yukari must realize what it is because he races back inside the house to go get it. Meanwhile, Himari is still under Nachi’s control and draws closer with the blindfold!

Screenshot_20170614-180529

For a brief second, Aoi seems to accept that he’ll lose himself to Himari. But when he sees her crying he decides to fight back. Himari is his light and he tells her he’s sorry right before he lifts his head and kisses her!

Screenshot_20170614-180603

Fangirl squeal

This definitely serves to snap her out of the kotodama spell as she yells at him “no kissing!!” Instead of steam coming out of her ears, it’s feathers!

Screenshot_20170614-180625

Yukari comes back with the clothes Aoi had on when he first entered Momochi house. Aoi confronts Nachi with the seal he had been given that prevented Aoi from remembering his past. He tells Nachi that he was lonely just like Aoi was.

Even Aoi wanted to forget his troubles he realizes that he mustn’t run from his pain and tells Nachi that he won’t be bound by him and tears up the seal. He resolves to be stronger in order to truly protect Himari and transform into the Nue.

Screenshot_20170614-181302

Nachi and the Nue battle it out but the Nue is far too strong for Nachi to try to control. He forces Nachi out of the gate and property. Zushi and the little ayakashi go back to normal and Himari goes to stand beside the Nue.

She can’t tell what he’s thinking and is trying to hold back her own tears. The Nue asks her if she’s angry about the kiss. Himari stutters out that it was just so he could snap her out of the kotodama spell, because he didn’t have a choice. He asks Himari what if it was because he just wanted to? Himari storms away, embarrassed.

Outside, Nachi can’t remember where he was or what he was doing. He stumbles his way through the forest, unable to call his shikigami crows as Kasha monologues from a distance.

Screenshot_20170614-181402

Yukari comes towards the Nue with a robe telling him he should change back and rest while Himari says she’ll look away. The Nue announces that he can no longer change back!

Screenshot_20170614-181449

Aoi’s past is slowly being delved into. What’s the reason for this inability to change back? Next time in volume 8! (What an announcer’s voice -__-;)