Manga Mondays: Spotlight #1 ~ Hayao Miyazaki

Yes. Yes I am. BUWAHAHAH!
Hey, is it bad to wear a scarf in 90+ degree weather, even if I'm cold?
It is? OH WELL!
Hey everyone! Welcome back to Manga Mondays at BNR! I'm so excited to be back and writing to you all. I hope everyone still loves me even though I left for a while...
HOWEVER, I will return to you all starting today. /LOVINGASIANHUGS

So, I'm gonna try out this new idea I came up with while I was laying on the beach in Florida:


Yay!... Like a sir...
So, I thought I'd kick off the entire new mini-series (That will either be the first or last Monday of every month) within the feature to spotlight my all-time favorite Director and Animator:

Hayao Miyazaki!

For those of you who have NO IDEA who this is and call yourself an anime/manga-fan needs to be slapped! (jk)
Lemme just list the few movies he's done:
 And one more, an all-time favorite full of awesome adventure...
Okay, so by now you should know who Hayao Miyazaki is. Ha! If you don't, go watch ANY of these movies and see his genius at work. There are all beautifully created animated films. I recommend all of his films really...

Hayao Miyazaki is simply superb at what he does, both animating and directing. He crafts stories full of magic, wonder, and just life in general. Through his stories, I'm inspired to create more than I've ever wanted to.
Sosuke (Left) and Ponyo (Right)  in Ponyo
I wanted Miyazaki-san to be the first I spotlight because he has made such an enormous impact on my life in both art and in general. He isn't your average animator to create movies to just entertain; he creates stories to make an impression, to make you think, and to make use of your creativity. The characters created in the stories are always so unique and eventful. I can't help to cry when they cry and to laugh when they laugh. It really places you in the atmosphere, whether it is the playful world within Ponyo or the mystical world of contraptions and magics within Howl's Moving Castle. Miyazaki-san creates an imaginative world for one person to another and bases the movies on others, creating a sense of connection with the characters, such as with Chihiro in Spirited Away.
Haku (left) and Chihiro (Right) from Spirited Away...Confession: This is my iPhone wallpaper.

What makes Miyazaki-san great as well is his ability to capture the audience into his story.

Sophie (Left) & Howl (Right) from Howl's Moving Castle
When I first watched Howl's Moving Castle, my curiosity first drove me to watch it. I thought, "Hm. This looks interesting." Hearing the interactions between the characters, the personalities of each one, and the story progression led to me to fall in love with HMC. Watching Sophie (the main female protagonist in HMC) throughout the film, I had a real connection with her because she was so much like me: Insecure, lonely, caring, as well as short-tempered. I loved her throughout the film, and her interactions with Howl are interesting as well! I could never get enough of Howl.
But even through the laughs and excitement in HMC, there is also melancholy and loneliness in the characters, Howl especially. Watch the movie and you'll know what I mean.
Miyazaki was able to make me feel happy, sad, angry, and even more emotions through his film, and what made it better was that it fit with the story. There weren't just random cases of jokes or trouble; it was purposeful. It flowed. It worked. Stories can bring out many emotions, but Miyazaki really takes the cake when it comes to conveying emotions within his stories as well as just depth within the characters and plot.

But it just doesn't single out with HMC; it's nearly every Miyazaki film.

Throughout Ponyo, I felt distress for our two child main characters, Sosuke and Ponyo. Would they be able to play together? Will Ponyo be taken away by her father? Will Sosuke be with his family again?

Throughout Spirited Away, I wondered if Chihiro will ever see Haku if she rescues her parents. I wondered if Chihiro will ever recover her name back.

The list just goes on for his movies. 

All in all, Hayao Miyazaki's movies are an inspiration to any artist, writer, animator, and/or director. Simply put, he's pretty freaking awesome, and anyone who hasn't seen his movies should go watch any of them created by him. If you don't like one, try another; his film genres are vast and creative. There is always something by Miyazaki that you will love.
Look at this guy! Full of awesome!
Above: Hayao Miyazaki

So, I hope this mini-series will be successful, and I open people to new artists and writers!
Hope to see you all in the coming Mondays and as well as when I do a review!
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Cover Release for Full Moon Kisses by Ellen Schreiber

Ellen Schreiber just revealed the cover of the third installment in the Full Moon series. I absolutely love it and keeping with her theme of the main character on the covers. Sadly, like any true fan, I scrounged around to find some more info about this upcoming book but Schreiber has always been sneaky about new info about her books. But don't fear Schreiber fans, I will be keeping up with FMK as more comes out!

Peace and Fangs,
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Review: Spells (Wings #2) by Aprilynne Pike

Title: Spells
Author: Aprilynne Pike
Series: Wings
    1. Wings
    2. Spells
    3. Illusions
    4. Destined
Format: Hardcover (368 pages)
Release Date: May 4, 2010
Genre(s): YA, Fantasy, Paranormal Romance


Six months have passed since Laurel saved the gateway to the faerie realm of Avalon. Now she must spend her summer there, honing her skills as a Fall faerie. But her human family and friends are still in mortal danger--and the gateway to Avalon is more compromised than ever.

When it comes time to protect those she loves, will she depend on David, her human boyfriend, for help? Or will she turn to Tamani, the electrifying faerie with whom her connection is undeniable? Source


Plot: I was so excited to finally be able to continue on in the Wings series. I wanted to know how Laurel would adjust to the fae world and the love triangle between her, David, and Tamani. Spells starts off as Laurel is getting ready to enter Avalon to spend the summer catching up with her abilities. As she goes through her studies as a Fall faerie, she starts to see the division of class between Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter faeries. But she also gets to know more of Tam's life and family as well as his feelings towards their relationship because of the classes. I loved the deeper look into Avalon because it has that very whimsical and peaceful but you also see that it is like every other world in the sense as it isn't all rainbows and sunshine, even though there's a lot of that. I was afraid of how Pike would make Avalon because some authors can make faerie world comes off as a little cartoonish or comical but she did an amazing job with this Avalon because you see the magical atmosphere of it as well as the reality of any world. Along with Laurel's stay there, I do like the return of some characters because it does create tension aside from the romance. Speaking of, there is much more and much more drama but it seems to be somewhat resolved. I wish there was just a little more fairness between the two, including with Tam. It seemed like no matter what happened in the story, it always goes back to the love interest that first shows up.

Character(s): Laurel - Laurel is one of the few heroines I love. I love that she is trying to find herself in being a faerie but also within the human world where she's grown up. She is definitely a force to be reckon with and knows what she wants when she finally decides on it. Except for when it comes between David and Tamani. Like I said before, I wish there were more fairness. Shar tells Laurel himself that she isn't being fair with Tam and I believe that as well. Tam obviously deserves a fighting chance and like so many other love triangles: the love interest that came into the picture after the first one always gets the short stick.
Tamani - In Wings, much to the demise of my friends, I was siding more with David. He seemed of more like a logical choice to me and seemed to love Laurel already where Tam just seemed to want to be with Laurel and that's all. But after reading this, I am completely Team Tam. After seeing Tam's life and his family, he seems so much more at home with Laurel and makes Laurel feel special. The only reason why I would say Tam couldn't be with Laurel was because of what Tam said himself and that is because he isn't in the same class as Laurel. She would be ridiculed if they were together and he would always be gone to help guard Avalon.
David - I felt like David was just...there. He was there for Laurel and was a good boyfriend but I don't see the spark in him as I do with Tam. He wants to be with Laurel but he seems to give up so easily. He rather have a love lost than to fight for Laurel. Not every character has to be passionate but if he really cares for her, he should fight for her just as much as Tam does rather than wait for her to come to his doorstep.

Cover: I love the Wings series' covers. I like how they just choose natural flowers that seem to go with the feel of each book and goes with the faeries. They're plants, so that is what the cover represents.

Closing Thoughts: I give Spells a three out of four because I loved the progression in the book when it came to Avalon and the love triangle. I just wish there was a different twist in climax or tension. It seems like it was put in because we needed tension away from what was happening between David and Tamani. I'm looking forward to reading Illusions and seeing what happens to Laurel going back to school now knowing she's a faerie and who she will choose in the end.

Where to find Aprilynne:

Peace and Fangs,
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Interview with Ley Mesina

Today, on BNR, we have Ley Mesina, author of A Goddess of Night series. This past March, Ley released the second installment in the AGN series, Perdition and us here at BNR are ecstatic to see more secrets revealed and Lily's love life bud a little more. Ley stopped by to tell us more about Perdition and her writing style.

Here's a little about Ley:
Ley Mesina spent most of her childhood and young adult life writing short stories. She planned to teach after she graduated with her Master's in Psychology but, instead, decided to pursue her passion for writing. Ley lives in Southern California with her husband and children and is a frequent visitor of her own imagination. Source

BNR: How is Perdition continuing from where Reborn left off?
LM: Reborn is an introduction to the characters. I really wanted to explain everyone's story because I felt it was important. Perdition is more fast-paced and really delves into the adventure. Lily is finally beginning to accept that she is not only half-witch/half-vampire, but that she is also the Goddess of Night. She journeys out into the underworld in search of Nyx, the original Goddess of Night, to get the answers that no one else could give her. Meanwhile, Xander, Drew, and Roxy go into their own adventure and try to save Roxy's parents.

BNR: What character do you feel the most connected to personality wise?
LM: Obviously I love Lily's character, but personality wise I would have to say Roxy. She's logical and has a hint of paranoia. She is very observant and over analyzes everything, yet she's strong, smart, and independent. I can relate to her and I find her character easy to write.

BNR: Has there been any works that influenced your inspiration of the GoN series?LM: There wasn't anything in particular that inspired the Goddess of Night series, it was more of the phenomenon of vampires. I love everything supernatural related, so when vampires became a huge obsession, I didn't want to just write another vampire story. I enjoy the story of witches and have always been fascinated by them. So I thought...why not create a woman who is both witch and vampire? It's the best of both worlds.

BNR: What can we expect from Perdition?
LM: Perdition brings in another realm of the mythological side of the story and ties in very well with the first book, Reborn. I wrote this book at the edge of my seat and I'm hoping that my readers will read it that way too.

BNR: In a unique style, why did you decide to do a series of novellas?
LM: I love the concept of a continuing story. I know that I could do that with Novels, but I felt that when I started writing Reborn, everything would be in segments. I saw it as "episodes."

BNR: What is your favorite aspect about writing science fiction?
LM: My favorite aspect of science fiction is that everything is limitless. I have no boundaries and I can take a story or character anywhere.  There are no exact set of rules that I need to stick to when developing a character or supernatural creature. It can be anything I want it to be and more.

BNR: Is there any genre you have decided isn't truly for you?
LM: Yes - Westerns. I've just never really been interested in Western books or even movies, so I don't think I'll be exploring this type of genre.

BNR: What can we expect to see from you in the future?LM: I am currently working on the third book of the Goddess of Night series. I am also working on a novel (which has nothing to do with vampires) and a collection of children's books. To tap into my background in Psychology, I also plan to release a relationship guide. As you can see, these are all different types of genres, but I absolutely love writing and I like to explore my abilities.

Bonus: If you could ever do your own interpretation on a classic book, which one would it be and why?LM: This is a tough one! But I would definitely love to do an interpretation of the Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe. He is, after all, my favorite writer - so it only makes sense that I would pick a story from his collection. His stories are so dark and tragic that it's fascinating.

More About Perdition:

In the second installment of the Goddess of Night series, Lily ventures out into the Underworld determined to find Nyx and finally get the answers she’s been looking for.

Xander, Drew, and Roxy head out on a mission to rescue Roxy’s parents from the secret facility hidden below Devlond University.

The time has come. Secrets will finally be revealed and the world they once knew will change…

Forever. Source

A gracious thank you to Ley for taking some time off to visit BNR. If you would like to find out more about Perdition and Ley, you can visit her website or her Goodreads. You can also click here to read my review over Reborn, the first installment in the AGN series.

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Interview with KC Blake

Today, we have KC Blake on BNR! This past April, KC Blake has released the second installment in her Witch-Game novel series, Witch Hunt. KC is gracing us with her presence to tell us more about her new series and what she goes through as a writer.

Here's a little about her:

Born and raised in California, I fell in love with writing while reading The Outsiders. Then I fell in love with Stephen King's writing style. I enjoy reading many types of books, but YA Paranormal is my favorite. I used to write for Harlequin under a different name. So that's my background. Exciting, no? Source

BNR: Just for our readers, give us a quick synopsis of the book.

KC: Starr is a reporter for the school paper and has her nose in everybody’s business.  When she hears the popular kids known as the It-Squad are about to start a secretive game, she wants to know more.  Their leader, Dylan Winchester, has been her crush for five years.  She wants him, and he seems to like her, too.  But Dylan isn’t allowed to date her.  So she hides under the headmaster’s desk, plants bugs, and breaks into a classmate’s home.  She discovers that not only are witches real, they need her help.  Someone is using the game to steal their memories, their powers, and perhaps even their lives.

BNR: What was the inspiration for the book?
KC: I loved the movie The Craft and thought it would be fun to mix that sort of ‘teen witch group’ atmosphere with a little mystery and a forbidden romance.

BNR: Why did you choose witches to be apart of the book?
KC: My agent warned me not to try werewolves or vampires again.  She wanted to see something fresh, something that wasn’t being used over and over.  Yes, I know there are books with witches, but they aren’t playing games.
BNR: Do any of the characters relate to you or anyone in your life?
KC: No.  My characters are sometimes bits and pieces of other characters from tv and movies with added quirks and things that I put together.

BNR: Is there any way that the first book, Crushed, relates to Witch Hunt?

KC: Grandma Noah puts in an appearance.  Other than that, the only tie in is that they are all witches using their powers to play games.

BNR: What can fans look forward to reading of your's in the future?

KC: I am going to release the third book in the Rule series, Shifters Rule, soon.  I am aiming for summer.  There will be more Witch-Game books in the future.  Plus, I am putting together an awesome hunter series with plenty of twists and turns and creatures not overly used.

BNR: What genre would you must like to dive into that you haven't touched yet?

KC: There isn’t one.  I’m doing what I love.

BNR: In both YA and Adult, what are key elements you have to touch for romance?

KC: Well, you don’t want love to be easily captured.  There has to be a good reason why the two characters might not be able to achieve their goal: a relationship.  It’s also nice to have plenty of chemistry.

BNR: What keeps you motivated to keep writing even during Writer's Block?

KC: Sometimes I have to leave one project behind for a while and working on something else, but I am always writing.  To me writer’s block is kind of fun.  I use the opportunity to explore new possibilities in my stories and usually come up with something that I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.

Bonus: Since Summer Break is upon us, what do you love to do on vacation?

KC: Well, this time around I didn’t do anything.  I took a break from writing and from the Internet.  Most of my time was spent reading City of Bones.  It was awesome.  Thanks for the interview.

Thank you to KC for answering our questions! Please buy KC's new release, Witch Hunt, along with the first installment, Crushed. You can also check out KC's other series, The Rule.
Click to visit KC's website and Goodreads.

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June 2012 Book Releases

For this month, we will be posting upcoming books that we are anxiously waiting for and that the book community is dying to read!

This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers
Release Date: June 19, 2012

It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

Where to find more info:
Website l Goodreads l Amazon

The Golden Lily (Bloodlines #2) by Richelle Mead
Release Date: June 12, 2012

Tough, brainy alchemist Sydney Sage and doe-eyed Moroi princess Jill Dragomir are in hiding at a human boarding school in the sunny, glamorous world of Palm Springs, California. The students--children of the wealthy and powerful--carry on with their lives in blissful ignorance, while Sydney, Jill, Eddie, and Adrian must do everything in their power to keep their secret safe. But with forbidden romances, unexpected spirit bonds, and the threat of Strigoi moving ever closer, hiding the truth is harder than anyone thought.

Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, Richelle Mead's breathtaking Bloodlines series explores all the friendship, romance, battles, and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive. In this second book, the drama is hotter, the romances are steamier, and the stakes are even higher.

Where to find more info:
Website l Goodreads l Amazon

One Moment by Kristina McBride
Release Date: June 26, 2012

This was supposed to be the best summer of Maggie’s life. Now it’s the one she’d do anything to forget.

Maggie Reynolds remembers hanging out at the gorge with her closest friends after a blowout party the night before. She remembers climbing the trail hand in hand with her perfect boyfriend, Joey. She remembers that last kiss, soft, lingering, and meant to reassure her. So why can’t she remember what happened in the moment before they were supposed to dive? Why was she left cowering at the top of the cliff, while Joey floated in the water below—dead?

As Maggie’s memories return in snatches, nothing seems to make sense. Why was Joey acting so strangely at the party? Where did he go after taking her home? And if Joey was keeping these secrets, what else was he hiding?

Where to find more info:
Website l Goodreads l Amazon

A Want So Wicked (A Need So Beautiful #2) by Suzanne Young
Release Date: June 26, 2012

Elise is a normal seventeen-year-old girl until the day she wakes up in a desert park, with no idea who she is. After that episode, her life takes a bizarre turn. She’s experiencing unexpected flashes of insight into people’s lives—people she’s never met before. Strangers frighten her with warnings about the approaching Shadows. And although Elise has never had a boyfriend, she suddenly finds herself torn between two handsome but very different young men: Abe, the charming bad boy whose affect on her both seduces and frightens her, and the mysterious Harlin, who’s new to town but with whom Elise feels an urgent, elemental connection—almost as if they are soul mates. Now Elise begins to question everything about her life. Why do these guys both want her so desperately? What are the Shadows? Why does the name Charlotte inspire a terrifying familiarity? And who is Elise, really?

Where to find more info:
Website l Goodreads l Amazon

Timepiece (Hourglass #2) by Myra McEntire

A threat from the past could destroy the future. And the clock is ticking... Kaleb Ballard's relentless flirting is interrupted when Jack Landers, the man who tried to murder his father, timeslips in and attacks before disappearing just as quickly. But Kaleb has never before been able to see time travelers, unlike many of his friends associated with the mysterious Hourglass organization. Are Kaleb's powers expanding, or is something very wrong? Then the Hourglass is issued an ultimatum. Either they find Jack and the research he's stolen on the time gene, or time will be altered with devastating results. Now Kaleb, Emerson, Michael, and the other Hourglass recruits have no choice but to use their unusual powers to find Jack. But where do they even start? And when? And even if they succeed, it may not be enough... The follow-up to Hourglass, Timepiece blends the paranormal, science fiction, mystery, and suspense genres into a nonstop thrill ride where every second counts.

Where to find more info:
Website l Goodreads l Amazon

Comment on what releases you are looking forward to this month or this summer!

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