Rummanah Aasi
Manga Mondays is a meme hosted by Alison at Alison Can Read where bloggers can share their passion for reading mangas. It's a great place to get new manga titles to try and to meet new bloggers. Tsukushi and Tsukasa have broken up. Tsukushi and Tsukasa both have feelings for one another, but can they overcome big obstacles in order to be truly together?

Description (from the volume): Tsukushi has been unconscious for two days and wakes up in Tsukasa's cousins's home! This terrifying man saved her life and now he's courting her! What is the secret behind this mysterious cousin who so closely resembles Tsukasa, and what could be the reason for his intense hatred of Tsukasa? Why does Tsukasa not know anything about him?

Review: Volume 24 is set up like a mystery. There are two story lines going at the same time. One story line features Tsukushi spending time with the mysterious guy who looks uncannily like Tsukasa. The second story line features Tsukasa and Tsukushi's group of friends who are trying to figure out the real identity of the the mysterious guy. I don't want to discuss the plot further because it would spoil the huge surprise, but the suspense in this volume works really well as we are given bits and clues sprinkled throughout until the truth is finally revealed in a cliffhanger ending. I hate those!
  I really liked this volume because both Tsukushi and Tsukasa are different. Tsukushi is torn between wanting to help others and wanting to be true to herself. She her warring sides are shown quite well. Throughout this series, the socioeconomic differences between the characters have been a strong theme and it is emphasized here as Tsukushi acknowledges that she will never be on par with Tsukasa and his lavish lifestyle, but what Tsukushi doesn't understand is that Tsukasa loves her because she is different in every possible way- stubborn, willing to stand up against what's wrong, work hard at her dreams, etc. Through Tsukushi, Tsukasa learns the value of life. Like Tsukushi, Tsukasa is also in conflict with himself. He is struggling to manage his anger issues and wants to prove to himself that can be mature, take responsibility, and be worthy of Tsukushi's love.
  As for the mysterious guy, I'm a bit ambivalent towards him and don't know enough about him to make a decision. He definitely isn't good news, but he does have both shades of good and bad in him. I do think he serves an important role and hopefully, that role would lead Tsukushi and Tsukasa to be finally together.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language and sexual innuendo. Recommended for teens and up.

If you like this book try: Boys Over Flowers Vol 25 by Yoko Kamio, Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances by Masami Tsuda, Mars by Fuyumi Soryo
Rummanah Aasi
 I'm very happy today to introduce you to debut author, Krissy Bells, who is here to talk about the inspiration for her book A Special Love. Welcome to Books in the Spotlight, Krissy!

Inspiration for A Special Love

 The story of, A Special Love, began to form in my mind when I was lucky enough in life, to stumble upon a job at a school for special needs students. While working there I spent my days laughing, smiling, and crying too. I fell in love with not only the students but their families as well. I recently left my position after having a baby, to be a stay-at-home mom. At that time, a family member began publishing and inspired my decision to actually start writing. I had always wanted to focus on young adult/teen stories, and missing the students I had grown so attached to, I continued to develop the story of a family with an autistic son, and their relationships.

In my time working with special needs students I was often a witness to the struggles they faced and that of their families. Every parent can’t help but have expectations of what their child’s life will be. A parent’s love adapts, grows, and transitions with their child. In this story the family begins to fall apart. When you are the sister, brother, mother, father, or friend to a special needs child or adult, you are often many things; a caretaker, advocate, janitor, nurse. But, those roles always come second to your primary relationship as a sister, brother, mother, father, or friend. I was amazed to see that while the families I encountered faced numerous struggles, they were most often met with smiles, selflessness, and strength.

This novel, is a love letter to any family facing trials and tribulations, with a reminder that while it is easy to focus on the hardships of life, the gift of acceptance and love is what it is really all about. The joy, hard work, and sacrifice that I was able to experience in my career were a true testament to the meaning of family and an illustration that every person is unique, gifted, and one of a kind. As I worked with our special needs and particularly autistic students, it became clear to me that it wasn’t always about their accomplishments, but often their journey to get there. This story is the depiction of one family and I only hope that others will be able to relate.

About the book: 

When Robert Adler and Meredith Conrad fall in love, all that is left for them to do is prepare to live a fairy-tale life. With the blessing of their second child, a son named Michael, everything they have always dreamed of begins to become a reality. But his autism diagnosis is something they never anticipated. The struggle they face after the diagnosis puts a strain on their family that begins to tear them apart. Years later, Michael begins high school, and the true love his older sister Ann Marie finds there helps bring her insight and appreciation of Michael’s unique gifts and identity. It might be just what is needed to put their family back together.

About the Author: 
Krissy Bells was born and raised in the Detroit metro area. A former school secretary, she now spends her days as a stay-at-home mom. She is passionate about her family and friends, her Dachshund named Harry, and anything topped with cheese or chocolate. Krissy can be reached by email.
Rummanah Aasi
  I'm delighted to today to introduce you all to C.L. Hoang, who just released his new book today called Once Upon a Mulberry Field which is about a multicultural love story set during the Vietnam War. If you are a fan of historical fiction and/more mixed race romance, do take a look at the book.

What inspired you to write Once Upon a Mulberry Field?

I started the book as a nostalgia project for my father so that we could capture memories of our family’s earlier life in Saigon, Vietnam, during the war. As I researched that time period to ensure accuracy, I discovered another perspective of the war—as experienced by American service people who fought over there and by their families in the States. I ended up merging these two contrasting points of view, in hopes of providing a more complete picture of that turbulent chapter in the history of both countries. But rather than being a “war book,” Once Upon a Mulberry Field is first and foremost a love story—an ode to the old and the new homelands, and a celebration of the human spirit and the redemptive power of love.

In Once Upon a Mulberry Field, the main character, Roger Connors, is a U.S. Air Force physician sent to Vietnam during the height of the war. Why did you decide to tell the story from an American point of view?

In an attempt to be objective and to view things from a different perspective from the one I had known growing up, I chose to recount the events through the voice of an American soldier. Needless to say, it was an eye-opening experience.

Roger and his fellow USAF buddies have differing views about the war in Vietnam. What can you tell us about the atmosphere surrounding the war and the way it was viewed in both America and South Vietnam?

In South Vietnam, the war was about preventing communism from destroying the budding and fragile democracy—a matter of crucial survival. In America, it was a controversial and misunderstood war, with the unpopular draft and the constant drumbeat of violence and gore shown nightly on TV news heightening the tension and anxiety among the public. There was widespread misinformation and confusion, fanned by undeniable passions on all sides.

There are two women in Roger’s life: the beautiful Vietnamese widow, Lien, and his fiancée at home, Debbie. How would you characterize his relationship with each of these women? In your view, does he feel differently toward one or the other?

The two women symbolize the clashing worlds confronting Roger. Debbie represents the familiar, secure home setting where things are as they seem—tangible, comforting, as lovely and dependable as the sunny California weather. Lien, on the other hand, is the daughter of an exotic tropical land, beautiful and tragic, who appears and vanishes without warning, like a monsoon thundershower. Roger thus finds himself constantly in the grips of a struggle between stormy passion and lifelong friendship.

You interviewed a number of Vietnamese and American civilians and veterans as part of your research for this novel. What did you learn in these interviews and how did they influence the story you tell in Once Upon a Mulberry Field?

I learned that nothing is ever as black-and-white as we like to assume, and that truth is often inconvenient and blinded by the passions of the time. This insight gave me a more compassionate understanding of the characters and what they went through, no matter what their feelings about the war.

Are you working on another novel? If so, what can you tell us about it?

Vietnam is a beautiful country with a rich cultural heritage. I’d like to capture in writing some of that heritage as I still remember it—ancient folklore that highlights the universal human condition and spirit. It may come in the form of a new novel, or a collection of short stories.

About the book:

A mesmerizing debut novel, Once Upon a Mulberry Field tells a heartrending tale of American and South Vietnamese love at a time when both countries were torn apart by war. Set at Bien-Hoa Air Force Base near Saigon in 1967, at the height of the war and the Tet Offensive, the novel explores the blossoming romance between a U.S. Air Force doctor, Roger Connors, and Lien, a young Vietnamese widow working as a hostess at a Saigon club. As the war progresses and political offensives set the country in turmoil, Roger and Lien are forced into circumstances that tear them apart. Many years later, Roger receives a cryptic note from a long-lost Air Force buddy announcing the visit of an acquaintance from Vietnam. The startling news resurrects ghosts of fallen comrades and haunting memories of a decades-old secret that Roger and Lien once shared.

About the Author:

C. L. Hoang was born and raised in South Viet-Nam and came to the United States in the 1970s. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, and earns his living as an electronic engineer, with eleven patents to his name to date. Books, history, and travel are his hobbies, and "Once upon a Mulberry Field," a love story set at the height of the Vietnam War, is his first novel, a project from the heart that took six years to complete. For more information on C. L. Hoang or Once Upon a Mulberry Field, please visit: or
Rummanah Aasi
 I am an unabashedly fangirl of John Green. His debut, Looking for Alaska, was my first reintroduction to today's YA literature and I haven't looked back since. Green has an uncanny ability to write about teens for teens. There is not an ounce of condescension and his characters are smart, funny, and adorkable. His latest book, The Fault in Our Stars, have crossed over to adults and it is perhaps an answer to the "What's all this hype about John Green?" question. I haven't seen the movie trailer for The Fault in Our Stars, mostly because I'm afraid I'd start crying and won't stop, but I will definitely be armed with boxes of tissues when I do see it. Here is my lame attempt to review this brilliant, critically acclaimed, and one of my favorite books from 2013.

Description: Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

Review: It's about a year since I read The Fault in Our Stars and the characters still resonate with me. Like many readers, I was hesitate in reading this book not because it wasn't going to be good but I wasn't emotionally ready to take on this journey. I want to tell you to not be afraid to pick this amazing book up. While, yes it's about teens who have cancer, but it's so much more.
  The Fault in Our Stars has a great combination of light and dark moments. Most of you already know the gist of the story so I'm not going to waste time rehashing it to you. I will say that Hazel and Gus are memorable characters who are incredibly vivid, intelligent, wise beyond their years, and extremely witty. Some reviewers believe that Hazel and Gus don't ring true as teens, but I would disagree. Both are forced to grow up and accept their mortality, which makes them less focused on trivial matters. Hazel and Gus are star-crossed lovers without the melodrama of a paranormal romance. There are no battles to be fought or creatures to defeat, but a race against time to live their lives to the fullest even if it might cause them pain. Their relationship grows slowly from attraction to intelligent conversations to finally making their hearts open to love and accepting the possibility that they can be torn apart if one of them falls ill. Whether intentional or not, but I saw the reflection of my reluctance to pick this book up in their journey.
  The Fault in Our Stars is an achingly beautiful story about life and loss. It will make you laugh, even at dark moments, cry, and make you wish that the world is a "wish-granting factory". Intelligent vocabulary, generous references to literature, and witty cultural commentary make this a delight to read. There are so many quotes that I loved in this book that I'm afraid if I started highlighting them, I'd highlight the entire book.  The next time someone asks me why I read YA, I'll hand them this book and tell them to talk to me afterwards.

Rating: 5 stars

Words of Caution: Strong language, a small fade to black sex scene, and mature themes. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz, The Universe versus Alex Woods by Gaven Extence, The Sky is Everwhere by Jandy Nelson
Rummanah Aasi
 Manga Mondays is a meme hosted by Alison at Alison Can Read where bloggers can share their passion for reading mangas. It's a great place to get new manga titles to try and to meet new bloggers. Tsukushi and Tsukasa have broken up. Heartbroken but never weak, Tsukushi tries her best to move on in her life but will she really forget Tsukasa?

Description: Tsukushi ends her visit at her parents' quiet seaside home and returns to Tokyo. She is welcomed back with a "girl's night out" and ends up meeting a ton of guys! Unfortunately they all turn out to be losers. In fact, one of the boys is downright terrifying and bears a striking resemblance to a certain curly-haired ex-boyfriend! Could the be related?

Review: In Volume 22, we saw Tsukushi trying hard to get over her heartbreak with Tsukasa by immersing herself in getting a new job in order to support her family while living in the seaside village. In Volume 23, we see how Tsukasa is doing after the breakup and it isn't pretty. Broody, sulky, and incredibly hostile Tsukasa wants everyone to leave him alone. He can't make sense of Tsukushi's actions, which he constantly thinks about and declares that he is completely over her. When the F3 try to brightening his mood, he lashes out and even gets into a fist fight with them!
 Meanwhile Tsukushi is trying to make ends meet. She somehow appears on a newscast that Rui sees on tv. The next thing she knows both Rui and Tsukasa have appeared on the seaside village. She is embarrassed to see all the villagers flock to Tsukasa and ask them for their money that Tsukushi's family has promised them. In an awkward moment, Tsukasa pays all of Tsukushi's family's loans and requests that Tsukushi's family come back with them to Tokyo.
  To much of her surprise, Tsukushi is welcomed back with open arms from the F3 and her friends. Even Shigeru, the one-time fiancee of Tsukasa and now a great supporter of Tsukushi, has even lent out her swank apartment for her family to rent at a really reasonable price. Tskushi is moved to tears and is extremely grateful for her friends and their generosity.
 This volume is filled with awkward moments between Tsukushi and Tsukasa. Neither of them can stand to be in the room with the other without the memory of that rainy afternoon replaying in their minds. Tsukasa would at least like Tsukushi to be friends, but Tsukushi doesn't feel she is strong to be friends with him. In order to change her mood and take her mind of Tsukasa, Tsukushi's girlfriends go on a group date with college boys. The girls are expecting a fun time, but what they are not expecting is finding a Tsukasa looklike to find interest in Tsukushi. Who is this guy? And is he related to Tsukasa? We'll have to find out in the next volume.

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language and violence. Recommended for teens and up.

If you like this book try: Boys Over Flowers Vol 24 by Yoko Kamio, Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances by Masami Tsuda, Mars by Fuyumi Soryo
Rummanah Aasi
  Most of the urban fantasy series that I've read are told from a female point of view, but I'm beginning to read a few from a males point of view such as Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles and Jim Butcher's Dresden Files. If you are a fan of mythology, paranormal, action, and humor, I do recommend picking up the Iron Druid Chronicles. The books are fun to read and the characters are great.

Description: For a two-thousand-year-old Druid, Atticus O’Sullivan is a pretty fast runner. Good thing, because he’s being chased by not one but two goddesses of the hunt—Artemis and Diana—for messing with one of their own. Dodging their slings and arrows, Atticus, Granuaile, and his wolfhound Oberon are making a mad dash across modern-day Europe to seek help from a friend of the Tuatha Dé Danann. His usual magical option of shifting planes is blocked, so instead of playing hide-and-seek, the game plan is . . . run like hell.
  Crashing the pantheon marathon is the Norse god Loki. Killing Atticus is the only loose end he needs to tie up before unleashing Ragnarok—AKA the Apocalypse. Atticus and Granuaile have to outfox the Olympians and contain the god of mischief if they want to go on living—and still have a world to live in.

Review: After the disappointing fifth installment of the series, I am glad to say that the Iron Druid Chronicles is back on the right track. Hunted is full of nonstop action leaving us much of the time trying to catch our breaths as we follow Atticus and company in deadly pursuit from some angry Gods, and their only hope seems to be to reach an place in Windsor Great Park in England in the most human way possibly-running literally across Europe since there normal mode of transportation (i.e. teleporting between realms) is unavailable. Luckily they can call on the power of Gaia each time they touch the Earth, and they can transform into running animals that make it just a little bit easier.
  In most series that I've read, the protagonists always manage to find any easy way or things just happen too conveniently in order to solve their problems but not this time. Atticus and company's success is by no means assured, as traps and ambushes loom at every turn. When he's a few steps ahead of his pursuers, Atticus is able to investigate just who really has it in for him, but in doing so puts him in a very deadly trap. As an added bonus to the story, we are given a few chapters written from Granuaile, Atticus's protege and love interest, but I would have loved more. I am glad that she became a main character now.
 Of course the book ends with more troubling times ahead for Atticus and it's quite possibly that may have accidentally started Ragnarok (the Apocalypse)? Luckily, at the end of the story he may just have a new ally to help with the next problem. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is strong violence, language, and sexual situations are implied. Recommended for older teens and adults.

If you like this book try: Shattered (Iron Druid Chronicles #7) releasing June 2014, The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher, Cal Leandros series by Rob Thurman,  Child of Fire by Harry Connollly
Rummanah Aasi
  If you have patrons lined up and waiting to get their hands on a copy of Frozen's DVD or Bluray, you might want to offer them a copy of Karen Foxlee's Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy. While you may not find a princess nor a prince in these pages, you will embark on a bittersweet journey of self discovery. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an advanced copy of this book.

Description: Unlikely heroine Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard doesn't believe in anything that can't be proven by science. She and her sister Alice are still grieving for their dead mother when their father takes a job in a strange museum in a city where it always snows. On her very first day in the museum Ophelia discovers a boy locked away in a long forgotten room. He is a prisoner of Her Majesty the Snow Queen. And he has been waiting for Ophelia's help. As Ophelia embarks on an incredible journey to rescue the boy everything that she believes will be tested. Along the way she learns more and more about the boy's own remarkable journey to reach her and save the world.

Review: Ophelia and the Marvelous boy is an inventive and engaging retelling of the Snow Queen, which will be enjoyed by both fantasy and adventure fans alike. On the outside Ophelia is plain, curious, solidly scientific-minded, and asthmatic, but she is much braver than she realizes. When her mother recently dead, she moves in with her older sister and father to a snowy and wintry city, where her father is busy working on a museum exhibition of historical swords.
  Unlike her sister, Ophelia isn't concerned about learning and wearing the latest fashion, so she occupies her time wandering through the large and empty museum. While wandering Ophelia discovers a boy who has been locked in a room for years, and who needs her help. She takes some time and asks appropriate questions to determine if the Marvelous Boy is telling the truth and much to her own surprise Ophelia takes greater and greater risks in order to win his freedom. In the process of gaining self confidence, Ophelia also forges a strong connection with the memory and spirit of her mother; she begins to believe and action with her heart and mind as one.
  I'm not too familiar with the Snow Queen story so I can't vouch for how true this book is to the specific details of the original tale, but I really liked how the author chose to make Ophelia contemporary in her ordinariness and emphasize her courage and determination to save the people she cares about, which not only echoes back to archetypal fairy tale heroes and heroines but it also shows younger readers that they don't need to be someone extraordinary to do extraordinary things. Foxlee skillfully reveals the story of the boy as the plot unfolds. The setting of an empty, large museum is utilized with great effects as it is carefully and at times spookily drawn, as Ophelia faces terrifying dangers in deserted museum corridors. The writing sparkles and there are plenty of symbols and allegories to discuss for advanced readers.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There are some dark and disturbing images. Recommended for Grades 4-6.

If you like this book try:
Rummanah Aasi
 There are different ways people grieve. Some clam up and want to be left alone while others use writing as catharsis, trying to articulate what can't be said verbally. Jenny Hubbard's latest novel, And We Stay, is a lyrical story that takes readers on a journey towards healing after a tragedy. Many thanks to the publisher for providing me an advanced reader's copy of this book via Netgalley.

Description: When high school senior Paul Wagoner walks into his school library with a stolen gun, he threatens his girlfriend Emily Beam, then takes his own life. In the wake of the tragedy, an angry and guilt-ridden Emily is shipped off to boarding school in Amherst, Massachusetts, where she encounters a ghostly presence who shares her name. The spirit of Emily Dickinson and two quirky girls offer helping hands, but it is up to Emily to heal her own damaged self.

Review: And We Stay is a beautifully and powerfully written novel about overcoming guilt,and healing after a tragic loss. Emily Beam is a new student at Amherst School for Girls. She enrolled in the school in January of her junior year and no one knows why. There are of course rumors circulating about her, but none of them come close to reality. Only Emily knows the tragic truth and ruminates about it quietly while scribbling away in her secret journal, each time revealing a bit more about the circumstances leading up to the day when her boyfriend entered the school library where she was working with her class, lured her into the stacks to talk, and then shot himself in the head.
  The book has an unique structure that may not work for some readers as it mixes prose and poetry as well as narrative tenses throughout the story. In past-tense flashbacks, readers learn the circumstances of Emily and Paul's relationship, while the poems Emily writes in her present-day environment infuse those same circumstances with newly realized perceptions. The narrative switches to present tense when it relates Emily's current life in boarding school, a fresh and unexplored world with emerging possibilities as well as potential pitfalls. 
  Due to the layered structure of the novel, the story's pacing is uneven though that might be intentional. I found the present to a bit slow to read, but I wanted to know what lead to the devastating events so I continued to read. Once the past is unveiled, I read the book quickly. I loved how Hubbard uses poetry to show Emily's the state of Emily's psyche. Poetry is very personal and Hubbard uses the right amount of words in length and in weight to show Emily's psyche. The poems are not to be skipped as they show Emily's extraordinary growth and talent as well as her connection to her namesake, Emily Dickinson, who lived and wrote just down the street from the boarding school, and draws on her spirit to pour her emotions onto paper. I learned a few interesting tidbits about Dickinson while reading this book too.
  And We Stay is a book that will receive critical acclaim though it may have a small readership. The book addresses hard hitting issues such as teen suicide, depression, and even abortion yet despite the heavy topics, it offers hope of a brighter future. Budding poets may particularly appreciate Emily's story, but there is certainly something for anyone looking for a good read with a strong, believable female lead who is working her hardest to overcome tragedy.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language, discussion and allusion to sex and abortion. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: Death, Dickinson, and the demented Frenchie Garcia by Jenny Torres Sanchez, You Don't Know Me by David Klass, 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Looking For Alaska by John Green
Rummanah Aasi
 Manga Mondays is a meme hosted by Alison at Alison Can Read where bloggers can share their passion for reading mangas. It's a great place to get new manga titles to try and to meet new bloggers. Tsukushi and Tsukasa have broken up. Heartbroken but never weak, Tsukushi tries her best to move on in her life but will she really forget Tsukasa?

Description: Tsukushi has left her on-and-off boyfriend Tsukasa, his mansion, her school, and Tokyo altogether! Down and out she heads for the seaside village where her family has gone to live and work. Unfortunately her parents are about to be runt out of town. Just then, visitors from Tokyo arrive!

Review: Heartbroken Tsukushi believes the only way to completely remove herself from Tsukasa's life is to leave Tokyo completely. She quickly resigns from school and keeps the money that was reserved for tuition and spends it on her trip to join her family in the farming village.
  We haven't seen Tsukushi's family at all and we assume everything is okay with them since there has been no bad news. We, like Tsukushi, are shocked to see her family barely making ends meet at the fish village. Due to his severe sea sickness, Tsukushi's father is unable to become a fisherman but finds another job that doesn't pay much. Tsukushi's mother has been spending her time in getting loans from other people in the village in order to provide food on the table.
 When Tsukushi's family sees Tsukushi, they are thrilled that her daughter's rich beau will help them get out of the poor village. Tsukushi's mother has already been bragging on how her daughter has landed a rich guy and that she will be soon married. I find Tsukushi's parents irritating and it angers me that they don't see their daughter's true worth. Tsukushi avoids telling her parents that she has left everything at Tokyo at first, however, when she sees how her parents are just waiting for Tsukasa to come to their rescue she grows a spine and comes clean. Never wanting to be dependent on anyone, Tsukushi goes job hunting and promises everyone in the village that her family will repay everyone's loan.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language. Recommended for teens and up.

If you like this book try: Boys Over Flowers Vol 23 by Yoko Kamio, Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances by Masami Tsuda, Mars by Fuyumi Soryo
Rummanah Aasi
  I first heard of The Shining Girls while listening to the author being interviewed on NPR. The phrase "time traveling serial killer in Chicago" is what drew me to this book. Reviews for this book have been all over the place. Some readers thought it was a well written genre bending book that mixes time traveling, horror, suspense and mystery while others thought the premise was very cool but it was ultimately dissatisfying. I'm in the latter group.

Description: A time-traveling serial killer is impossible to trace-- until one of his victims survives. In Depression-era Chicago, Harper Curtis finds a key to a house that opens on to other times. But it comes at a cost. He has to kill the shining girls: bright young women, burning with potential. He stalks them through their lives across different eras until, in 1989, one of his victims, Kirby Mazrachi, survives and starts hunting him back. Working with an ex-homicide reporter who is falling for her, Kirby has to unravel an impossible mystery.

Review: The Shining Girls is an ambitious, genre bending novel that doesn't quite pan out. Harper Curtis isn't your ordinary serial killer. He gets to time travel from the 1920s through the 1980s, killing girls in different decades, all to satisfy a compulsion. We aren't given any explanation or clues how the time traveling works or where does Harper's compulsion originate from, which is very disappointing since that's the only reason why I continued to suffer to finish this book when I should have given up. All we know is that Harper is compelled to track down and murder specific shining girls that he gets in visions in gruesome ways (usually evisceration), and he gets away with it since he can escape across time; except in 1989 when one of his victims, Kirby Mazrachi, miraculously recovers from the vicious attack and knows of him. Harper and Kirby play cat and mouse. Harper wants nothing more to fix his mistake while Kirby dedicates her whole life in tracking down her assailant, even if the police consider it a closed case.
  There are a lot of interesting tidbits found in this book, but unfortunately the author doesn't take advantage of it. Despite its action filled premise, the book moves very slowly and I was bored for most of the time. We don't really get to know Harper before he became a serial killer and we are lead to believe that a very creepy, abandoned Chicago bungalow (much like the hotel in Stephen King's The Shining) is causing him to be evil but we are never sure. Unlike Harper, we do feel bad for Kirby and want her to get her justice but she comes off as an angsty, whiny teen when in fact she's very much an adult. There is an attempt of a subdued love story between Kirby and Dan, a reporter at the Sun-Times, but I never really felt their connection. It almost came off as Dan being more like a father figure to Kirby rather than a love interest. Things start to get a little interesting as Dan and Kirby slowly uncover odd clues left behind in a dozen unsolved murder cases; it turns out Harper has been leaving behind items from the future.
 Needless to say I wasn't thrilled with The Shining Girls. It's clear that Buekes did a lot of research to make the Chicago setting authentic but she doesn't really take advantage of a very cool premise. Definitely for not all tastes, especially those with a sensitive stomach for gore and violence. Fans of the supernatural and a different spin on the horror genre might enjoy this one.

Rating: 2 stars

Words of Caution: There is strong language, strong graphic violence, and some sexual situations. Recommended for adults only.

If you like this book try: The Shining by Stephen King, The Rosary Girls by Richard Montanari, Three Days to Never by Tim Powers
Rummanah Aasi
 In the tradition of many classic and critically acclaimed middle grade novels, Counting by 7s is a bittersweet novel about being an outsider, coping with loss, and discovering the true meaning of family.
Description: Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn't kept her from leading a quietly happy life . . . until now.
  Suddenly Willow's world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read.
Review: Willow Chance is wonder character, extremely precocious and tween genius. Her quirky habits and interests make her endearing to the reader but not to her peers. Though deeply passionate about her interests, she can't fit in with other kids her age. Unlike many of us, Willow isn't all that bothered by being seen as an outcast since she has a stable home and adoptive parents who love her but this sense of security is shattered when her parents die in a car crash. Now without any signs of familiarity, Willow is lost and emotionally numb.
  Counting by 7s is a story of renewal, self discovery, and what defines a family. Instead of solely focusing on Willow's social difficulties and her different stages of grief, we are treated to the various ways Willow makes a great and inspiring impression on everyone around her-whether it's Dell Duke, a lonely and ineffectual school district counselor, or Jairo Hernandez, the taxi driver Willow hires to drive her to her meetings with Dell. Willow even manages to befriend a high schooler named Mai Nguyen who persuades her mother to take Willow in; despite the Nguyens' poverty, their makeshift home and open arms help bring Willow back from the void.
  Counting by 7s is a feel good story, but at times I felt Sloan relied on creating convenient plot points to move her story along and the pacing dragged in the middle. I think the story could be told just as strongly in 200-300 pages instead of the 400. The narration shifts among multiple viewpoints, from Willow's cerebral first-person perspective to third-person chapters that demonstrate how her presence is transformational to those around her, young and old. I appreciated the fact that Sloan chose a diverse cast of characters, but I wish the author would have let the readers come to their own conclusion of the importance of helping one another instead of wrapping things up too tightly. Overall, Counting by 7s is a good pick for book club for older elementary school students.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for strong Grade 4 readers and up.

If you like this book try: Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, Emma-Jean Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis
Rummanah Aasi
  I've heard lots of buzz about All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill and when the hype got to be a bit much, I pushed the book further down in my reading pile in fears that it wouldn't live up to my high expectations. When I picked it up earlier this year, I had forgotten about the hype which in turned helped me to read it without any predetermined opinions. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to do the same with Lydia Kang's popular Control. Please note these reviews are based on the advanced reader's copy of the books provided by the publishers in exchange for an honest opinion. Both books have been released and can be found in either in your libraries or bookstores.

Description: "You have to kill him."
Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.
  Only Em can complete the final instruction. She's tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present-imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.
  Marina has loved her best friend James since they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America's most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James's life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina's hopes for their future. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was. Em and Marina are in a race against time that only one of them can win.

Review: All Our Yesterdays is one of the better time traveling books that I've read recently. The time-travel paradigms and a dual narrative combine in this fast-paced tale. The book is told by two voices are that of the same character: Marina, in the present, and Em, in the future. Thankfully, the present and future version of the girls are very different and distinguishable.
  Future Em and present Marina run parallel courses as Em tries desperately to change present circumstances enough to alter future horror. Marina's longtime crush James, a teen genius who discovers how to manipulate time travel, intends to use that discovery to save his assassinated congressman brother. Em and Finn (her future romantic interest and James's good friend) travel back to the present to change their own and the world's fate, but their multiple efforts result in imprisonment and torture by the mad scientist James becomes. Em/Marina's parallel stories converge in a violent confrontation where characters from the present meet their future selves. Serious readers of time traveling books may find lots of holes in Terrill's reasoning, but I'm not exactly sure how the time traveling in this book works but I was so invested with the characters and the action that I didn't really mind my confusion.
  The characters definitely made the story for me. I loved how completely different Em and Marina are and it actually took me a few pages to realize they were the same person. I loved how Em was a strong heroine who hasn't lost her sensibilities and the way to empathize with others. It took me a while to warm up to Marina, as her codependency tendencies got on my nerves but I do see a potential of growth in her. The love interests in this book were also appealing. James is a brilliant monster and Finn is consistently levelheaded and appealing. The romance dilemma in this one is definitely complex. The built-in tension provided by knowledge of the world that will result if they fail makes Finn and Em's efforts compelling and the escalating suspense kept me turning the pages into the shocking cliffhanger. I had to run to the author's website to make sure there was a book 2 and was relieved to find out there is one. The philosophical question is intriguing: What price is too high to change fate? I will definitely be reading the second book to see how things turn out for our characters.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language, a scene of underage drinking, and an allusion to sex. Recommended for strong Grade 8 readers and up.

If you like this book try: Pivot Point series by Kasie West, Tempest series by Julie Cross

Description: Set in 2150 -- in a world of automatic cars, nightclubs with auditory ecstasy drugs, and guys with four arms -- this is about the human genetic "mistakes" that society wants to forget, and the way that outcasts can turn out to be heroes.
   When their overprotective father is killed in a terrible accident, Zel and her younger sister, Dylia, are lost in grief. But it's not until strangers appear, using bizarre sensory weapons, that the life they had is truly eviscerated. Zel ends up in a safe house for teens that aren't like any she's ever seen -- teens who, by law, shouldn't even exist. One of them -- an angry tattooed boy haunted by tragedy -- can help Zel reunite with her sister. But only if she is willing to lose him.
Review: I picked up Control based on the tagline that fans of the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld would enjoy it. I loved Westerfeld's imaginative take on physical beauty and consumerism in his series, but unfortunately I didn't find Control as intriguing. Control features a teenage scientist who struggles to rescue her abducted sister. After their father dies from injuries sustained in a freak accident, Zelia and her younger sister, Dylia, are left orphaned in a dystopian future America. They've scarcely begun to grieve when they are violently separated: Dylia is kidnapped by strangers who want to profit from her DNA, while Zelia ends up in Carus House, an underground organization that shelters people whose genetic mutations make their very existence illegal.
  My biggest problems with Control was its uneven pace and the lack of character development. The book moves too quickly when it should slow down so we can see the characters develop their relationships and their own personalities. We don't see Zelia spend much time with Dylia and we can't really feel the suspense nor the void when Dylia is abducted. Similarly, when Zelia becomes the new resident of Carus House she builds friendships a bit too quickly with others. The romantic tension with the bad boy Cyrad is nonexistent and when they do acknowledge how they feel towards one another it feels forced. Throughout the novel, Kang's scrupulous attention to scientific detail adds authenticity but also contributes to a lot of technologies that don't really make much sense. While I appreciated the fact that the protagonist is a girl who actually enjoys and is brilliant at science, I wished the author would spend some time in building the world she created. I had so many questions of why when I was reading this story such as why is gene manipulation outlawed in the first place? What caused it?
  The book works as a stand-alone, but the ending leaves the door open to a sequel. Control is another forgettable addition to an overcrowded field of dystopians, but for die-hard dystopian fans who wouldn't mind an Xmenish story line it might be worth picking up. I, however, will not be continuing this series.

Rating: 2 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language, allusion to sex, and underage drinking. Recommended for strong Grade 8 readers and up.

If you like this book try: The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepard, Delirium series by Lauren Oliver, Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld, Divergent series by Veronica Roth
Rummanah Aasi
Manga Mondays is a meme hosted by Alison at Alison Can Read where bloggers can share their passion for reading mangas. It's a great place to get new manga titles to try and to meet new bloggers. Tsukushi and Tsukasa are trying out as a couple. They survived one small argument, but are they strong enough to face Tsukasa's mother? Let's find out!

Description: Tsukasa's mother, Kaede, is back! Can Tsukushi really stay in the house of the woman with whom she is at war?! Kaede takes a new and vicious tack in her obsession to tear Tsukushi away from her upper class son. If Tsukushi can't be bribed, then maybe Kaede can destroy the lives of Tsukushi's friends! Tsukushi is forced to take extreme measures-but what course will she choose?!

Review: Wow, I couldn't turn the pages in this volume fast enough. Volume 21 is filled with tension, drama, and heartache. Tsukushi and Tsukasa survived their first argument since they've announced that they are dating. The argument which had Tsukasa punching Tsukushi's best friend's womanizing boyfriend, actually brought Tsukasa and Tsukushi together and displayed the F4's loyalty to their friends.
  Now a bigger threat has arisen and it's going to need everyone's help to keep Tsukasa and Tsukushi together. Kaede, Tsukasa's nightmare of a mother, is back and she is not happy (boy, that's an understatement!) when she discovers that Tsukushi has been living in her house and dating her son. Normally, I would say that Kaede's mama bear reaction is to protect her son, but Kaede has not displayed any motherly affections to her children and therefore I couldn't muster up any sympathies for her. Within a heartbeat, Kaede throws Tsukushi out of the mansion without hearing a word from Tama, the mansion's housekeeper and the nanny to Tsukasa and his sister. Tama defended Tsukusi but her reason fell on Kaede's deaf ears. Tsukushi tells Kaede that she is not afraid of her and to do her worst! When the news of the confrontation reaches Tsukasa, he is even more in love with his girlfriend, but what happens next is what neither Tsukushi nor Tsukasa had anticipated.
 By observing Tsukushi, Kaede zeroes in one of her weaknesses: her absolute loyalty to her friends. Within minutes two of Tsukushi's very close friends report their fathers have been laid off from work without any explanations. Tsukushi realizes this is Kaede's work. Now Tsukushi has to make a very hard choice: saving the financial stability of her friend's family or continue to love Tsukasa. In a beautiful illustrated scene in which Tsukushi's inner turmoil is fully displayed, she makes the decision to break her own and Tsukasa's heart.
  The volume ends on a beautiful and heartbreaking two page spread where it's raining heavily and only Tsukushi and Tsukasa appear at a far distance from one another. Tsukushi tells Tsukasa that she can longer be with him because she never loved him and keeps Kaede's actions a secret. While I haven't been the biggest fan of Tsukasa in this series, my heart broke for him. You can clearly read the hurt, devastation, and shock on his face. What is next in stored for Tsukushi and Tsukasa? Will Tsukasa fight for Tsukushi? I guess we'll  have to find out in the next volume!

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some minor language. Recommended for teens and up.

If you like this book try: Boys Over Flowers Vol 22 by Yoko Kamio, Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances by Masami Tsuda, Mars by Fuyumi Soryo
Rummanah Aasi
  I read The Lighthouse by Alison Moore for my bookclub. While it was a short book, it took me a while to get through it mainly because there is virtually no plot, but filled with characters who ruminate and who are either trying to free themselves from their own self-made prisons or have resigned to it. The Lighthouse is one of those books that is listed with a capital L for literature. This is not a book that will please every reader, but I thought it was a really well written and has an interesting take on memory, consequences, and habits.

Description: On the outer deck of a North Sea ferry stands Futh, a middle-aged and newly separated man, on his way to Germany for a restorative walking holiday. After an inexplicably hostile encounter with a hotel landlord, Futh sets out along the Rhine. As he contemplates an earlier trip to Germany and the things he has done in his life, he does not foresee the potentially devastating consequences of things not done. "The Lighthouse," Alison Moore's first novel, tells the tense, gripping story of a man trying to find himself, but becoming lost.

Review: The Lighthouse is a brief novel, short listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2012. This book is driven by a study of characters, particularly two characters that interact only at the beginning and end. Both live lonely, isolated, unhappy lives; both seem powerless to change anything. One of which we feel sorry for while the other why can't muster up any emotions other than frustration and dislike.
  I did enjoy how the book was written. The author took her time in constructing her story, which affected the pacing a bit and slowed it down incredibly since there is hardly any plot. There is a lot of symbolism that evoked the feeling of isolation and hopelessness. At times the book felt as if it was written in four simultaneous vignettes each focusing on the oblivious man named Futh- in present day, where he and his wife have separated and he is doing a walking loop in Germany; Futh as a child right as his mother has left; Futh as a young adult, newly married. Futh's story collides with Ester, the unsatisfied wife who is helping her husband Bernard run an inn. Futh and Ester are both trying to fill a voice in their lives. While Futh is desperate for human interaction, Ester comes across as a sex addict who has practically slept with every man who has every stayed at the inn. Futh and Ester aren't characters that you like, but I don't think you are suppose to. I think you are suppose to empathize with their current state, which I didn't really do.
  Despite the short snippets of Futh's and Ester's back stories, the book was never confusing, and the characters themselves seemed to be reliving the memories during the story, and this was very effective. In some ways this is a book of memory and how bad decisions impact the future, sometimes not even your own bad decisions. The Lighthouse is not a book that will cheer you up, but it might give you solace when you're having a really bad day.

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language and strong sexual content. Recommended for adults only.

If you like this book try: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
Rummanah Aasi
  After reading fabulous reviews of The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom from some of my favorite bloggers, I thought I would give the book a chance. After a few lackluster reads, I needed a book that I couldn't put down and The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom fit the bill.

Description (from the publisher): Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You've never heard of them, have you? These are the princes who saved Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel, respectively, and yet, thanks to those lousy bards who wrote the tales, you likely know them only as Prince Charming. But all of this is about to change.
  Rejected by their princesses and cast out of their castles, the princes stumble upon an evil plot that could endanger each of their kingdoms. Now it's up to them to triumph over their various shortcomings, take on trolls, bandits, dragons, witches, and other assorted terrors, and become the heroes no one ever thought they could be.

Review: Those of us familiar with fairy tales expect a happy ending, but as the four Princes Charming found out to to their dismay that doesn't always happen. The bards have the story details wrong and the princes aren't really the studly heroes we know. In fact each Prince Charming has a name, comes from a kingdom, and may not really be the heroes of their story. While they may have the gotten the girl at the end of the story, they are not very happy. Bold, party-crashing Cinderella wants adventure more than the sheltered and risk averse Prince Frederic. Prince Gustav's pride is still badly damaged from having needed Rapunzel's teary-eyed rescue. Through Sleeping Beauty, Prince Liam learns kissing someone out of enchanted sleep doesn't guarantee compatibility, much to the citizens of both kingdoms' ire. Although she loves wacky and loquacious Prince Duncan, Snow White needs some solitude and quiet.
  In order to build their self esteem, wipe away the tarnish of their names, and restart on a clean slate, the four princes unite to face ridiculous, dangerous obstacles and fight a common foe: Zaubera, the witch from Rapunzel's story who believes she hasn't received the notoriety that she deserves. Angered at remaining nameless in the bard's story, she plots to become infamous enough through ever-escalating evil that bards will be forced to name her in their stories.
 I absolutely loved this book right from the start. Healy has created his own story out of the well known fairy-tales. The book is filled with wit without trying too hard and relying on pop-culture references, cliches. In his story, the princesses can handle themselves and as Sleeping Beauty shows are not all nice and prim. I just wished the princesses had a bit more page time. The focus of the story, however, is on the four princes who have to work together despite their differences. Though they are oblivious goofballs, Healy also shows that they have good hearts and individual strengths, keeping them distinct and believable. This book looks big with its tome like appearance but it reads quickly and the black and white illustrations complement the story really well. Inventive and hilarious, this book should come with a warning to not read in public if you don't what to get weird stares every time you irrupt in giggles. I highly recommend this book if you are fans of the animated movies Shrek and Tangled, if you enjoy reading about fairy tales, or if you are looking for a fun read. I can't wait to read more in this series!

Rating: 4.5 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades 3 and up.

If you like this book try: The Hero's Guide to Storming Your Castle by Christopher Healy, The Princess Bride by William Goldman, The Fairy-tale Detectives by Michael Buckley, Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon Hale,
Rummanah Aasi
  David Levithan is one of my auto-read authors. I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy of his latest book and I was very lucky enough to get an advanced readers copy of this book at the Annual ALA Conference in Chicago this past summer.

Description: In his follow-up to the New York Times bestselling Every Day, David Levithan, co-author of bestsellers Will Grayson, Will Grayson and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, tells the based-on-true-events story of Harry and Craig, two 17-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record--all of which is narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS. While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with languishing long-term relationships, coming out, navigating gender identity, and falling deeper into the digital rabbit hole of gay hookup sites--all while the kissing former couple tries to figure out their own feelings for each other.

Review: Two Boys Kissing weaves together events that occur in the lives of several gay teens while two former lovers attempt to break the world's record for the longest kiss. The tone of this book is much more serious compared to the other books that I've read by Levithan and its structure is completely different. In many ways Two Boys Kissing reminded me of Kushner's award winning play Angels in America.
  Two Boys Kissing is narrated by a chorus of a lost gay generation from decades before, one that was ravaged by AIDS, anger, politics and more. It is through their lens and commentary that this story of seven boys from the present is told. The first two, as the title suggests, are Craig and Harry who are out to break the world's kissing record (32 hours, 12 minutes and 9 seconds) in protest of a hate crime enacted upon their friend. They're not a couple anymore, but they still have residual feelings. A second pair, Peter and Neil, have been a couple for a while, but still have insecurities about themselves and their relationship. Pink-haired transgendered Avery and blue-haired Ryan meet at an alternative LGBT prom where sparks fly and a possible romance blooms. All the while, closed Cooper deals with depression and is kicked out of his parents' house and obsessed with gay-hookup apps, suffers alone.
   The story drifts back and forth and among these seven youth under the watchful, voice of the past, which shows the reader, particularly those outside of the gay culture of what little moments that we take for granted mean to a gay teen- from the innocent hand holding to kissing. The chorus provides insight and wisdom, but it can get a bit heavy handed at times. The very fact that this novel is published with two boys explicitly kissing on the cover and its themes shows how far we have come in GLBT literature, and how much further the cannon has to go. While not magical like his other novels, Two Boys Kissing gives us some insight of what means to be a gay teen though it never has the intention to tell the story of all gay teens. This slim book packs a punch and is though provoking.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language including homophobic slurs, underage drinking and a character enters many chat rooms of a sexual nature.

If you like this book try: How They Met and Other Stories by David Levithan, How Beautiful the Ordinary edited by Michael Cart
Rummanah Aasi
  Manga Mondays is a meme hosted by Alison at Alison Can Read where bloggers can share their passion for reading mangas. It's a great place to get new manga titles to try and to meet new bloggers. It's official! Tsukushi and Tsukasa are a couple in Volume 20, but their relationship last beyond this volume? Let's find out!

Description: Tsukushi has agreed to be Tsukasa's girlfriend! But there's a hitch-she'll go out with him for only two months to see if she can truly love him. Tsukasa is off to a bad start when he ends up smacking the new boyfriend of Tsukushi's best friend Yuki at the end of a double date, making Tsukushi furious. What happened betweeen Yuki's boyfriend and Tsukasa? Is Tsukushi and Tsukasa's relationship over?

Review: Volume 20 has a stronger emphasis on the romance of this series. Tsukushi is now living in Tsukasa's mansion. She is on egg shells, fearing Tsukasa's mother would rear her ugly head around but luckily, Tsukasa's mother is away on another overseas project. Phew, crisis averted! Now Tsukushi has to keep her current residency under wraps, but this doesn't last very long since any news concerning any member of the F4 doesn't stay hidden for very long.
  What I found interesting in this manga series is that the romance doesn't happen very quickly, at least from Tsukushi's point of view. She has always been hesitant to fall for anyone, which is one of the things that I love about her, but lately she has been seeing a more human side of Tsukasa where he is considerate, generous, and just as awkward when it comes to expressing his own emotions and need for intimacy. After a deep discussion, Tsukushi and Tsukasa have reached an understanding-they will date for a two month trial period. If the relationship works out, they will continue. If it doesn't, they will no longer talk or pursue it. Tsukushi is somewhat okay with the plan because there is no pressure on her and Tsukasa is happy just knowing that he is given a chance to show Tsukushi how much he loves her. As as reader, I was really curious to see how long this relationship could last considering Tsukasa's track record of being a hot head.
  Unfortunately, it doesn't take much for the relationship to stumble into trouble when Tsukushi and Tsukasa go on a horrible double date with Tsukushi's best friend, Yuki, and her current boyfriend. Throughout the date, Yuki's boyfriend tries to instigate trouble and get arise out of Tsukasa by pushing on Tsukasa's buttons. Tsukasa's patience quota runs out and punches Yuki's boyfriend. For the rest of the volume we follow Tsukushi as she learns the truth about what happened on that double date. To much of a surprise of my own, I took Tsukasa's side in this volume and it was funny watching Tsukushi's initial reaction to lash out at him and then come to terms that he was right. I hope these two can get their act together and I'll be interested to see how they handle the next bump in the road!

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language and crude humor. Recommended for teens and up.

If you like this book try: Boys Over Flowers Vol 21 by Yoko Kamio, Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances by Masami Tsuda, Mars by Fuyumi Soryo
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