Fruits Basket Review

Summary fruits basket

Fruits Basket is a slice-of-life manga with the supernatural thrown in!

Tohru Honda is just a normal high school student.  That is until a fateful encounter with one of her classmates leads her into the mysterious world of the Sohma family…

After her mother’s death leaves her orphaned, tenth grader Tohru Honda was living in a tent in the woods and working her way through school.  When she bumps into her classmate Yuki Sohma, one of the most sought after boys in school, and he discovers her living arrangements he offers her a place to stay with him and his cousin Shigure.

Although flabbergasted at first Tohru eventually accepts their offer.  The Sohma seem like a normal family…but Tohru quickly discovers the Sohma Clan is anything but normal.

Shortly after arriving Tohru meets another member of the Sohma family, Kyo, after he crashes through a wall and challenges Yuki to a fight.  Surprised Tohru grabs on to Kyo’s back…and finds herself holding a cat.  It is then Tohru Honda becomes the first person outside of the family to learn the secret of the Sohma Clan.  The secret of the Zodiac’s curse.

Fourteen are chosen.  Twelve respected.  One outcasted.  One God.  All cursed.  The cycle has repeated for generations.  Now one ordinary girl will be lead into the Sohma family, and perhaps change things for the better.  But the question still remains, can the curse really be broken?

Thoughts on Fruits Basket

Fruits Basket has got romance, comedy, and a cursed clan based on the legend of the Zodiac.  I couldn’t put it down.  This is one of those mangas that makes you wish the next one would just hurry up and get here.

The story itself is expertly crafted.  On the one hand we’ve got a story about a young girl who has become orphaned after her mother’s tragic death, and is working as hard as she can to finish high school.  She’s got friends, exams, and homework as well as a job; and does all this with a carefree optimistic attitude masking an inner pain.

On the other hand we have the Sohma Clan.  An ancient family with problems of their own.  This family carries the curse of the Zodiac and every few generations certain people are chosen to host the spirits of those sacred animals.

They must obey the person who has been reincarnated as “God”, and must be careful of any outside contact they receive.  For if they are hugged by a member of the opposite sex outside the Zodiac they will turn into the animal they hold within them.  The regular twelve have it hard enough, but the ostracized Cat has even more problems to deal with.

When these two worlds collide we end up with a story that is both heartfelt and funny.  One of my favorite scenes throughout the entire series is in the beginning when Tohru first finds out about the Sohma’s secret.  Somehow not only does she accidentally turn Kyo into a cat, she manages to turn both Shigure and Yuki into a dog and rat, respectively.  She freaks out and then Shigure, still as a dog, must explain (yes they can talk as animals).

It’s such a comedic way to explain a rather serious issue in the Sohma, and to introduce the reader to the main plot of the series.  Even when the story becomes more serious, comedic scenes are well placed to break up the drama and ease the tension.

This type of comedy continues throughout the story as Tohru meets the other members of the Zodiac, and their leader Akito. The one with the powers of God.

Tohru is a wonderful heroine, mostly because she doesn’t know she’s the heroine and would probably try to decline the role if she knew, claiming that there must be someone better than her to play it.  Then she’d probably go and make everyone onigiri (Japanese rice balls).

Tohru has a very hard life and a lot of painful things in it, but she always manages to be optimistic.  Which is why so many of the hard-edged Sohma who carry so many scars take to her, open up, and let her in.  Tohru gives them more than just kindness, she gives them understanding.

Romance was another big thing in this manga series.  I really enjoyed all the relationships, though I must be honest it’s very unclear just who will end up with who until the end.

There’s so much back and forth and proclamations of love that might just be over dramatic friendship, but might be more.  You really need to read the entire series to find out for sure.  Very clever Natsuki Takaya.

The main relationship is kind of a love triangle between the main characters Tohru, Yuki, and Kyo.  But like all the relationships in Fruits Basket this love triangle may not be entirely what it seems.

In any case the relationship between these three, whatever it may be, carries the story through to its completion.

Yuki as the Rat, the first animal of the Zodiac, and Kyo as the outcasted Cat, the one that didn’t make it to the banquet, have been hated rivals their whole lives.  A rivalry Tohru may be able to heal.  Just as she may be able to heal everyone in the Zodiac.  Maybe even heal the curse.

Follow Tohru, Yuki, and Kyo, along with the other members of the Zodiac as they work to break the curse, find their place in the world, and maybe even fall in love.  Fruits Basket is a funny romantic ride that you’ll never forget.

Other Details

My Recommendation:  This manga series is rated T, for ages thirteen and up.  There’s not really that much violence or sexual scenes (though there are a lot of innuendos), but with all the cursing I’d say that rating is probably accurate.

Manga-ka: Natsuki Takaya

Genre(s): romance, comedy, fantasy, slice-of-life

Publisher (in US): Tokyopop

Volumes Released (in English): 23; this series is complete

First Released (in English): 2004



Retold Tales Booksellers

A bookstore in Phoenixville retold tales

Have you ever just wanted to run through stacks and stacks of books, getting wrapped up in the scents and wonder of pages of the printed word? Well that’s what you’ll get at Retold Tales.  Located right on Phoenixville’s main drag of shops, this independent southeastern PA bookstore has something for everyone.

Though you may have to do a little digging and sorting through the many stacks of books piled throughout the store, the search is well worth it.  The treasures you’ll uncover here you’d be hard pressed to find in other bookstores, and the journey to them is half the fun!

A void was created in Phoenixville after the town’s old bookstore had to close its doors.  Luckily Retold Tales came along to fill that void and has brought a new funky bookstore vibe to an already proudly quirky town.

The Books of Retold Tales

Since its doors first opened in May 2012, Retold Tales has integrated itself into the community of Phoenixville.  It hosts a very eclectic book collection, specializing in used and children’s books.

The books, though used, are in excellent condition and are sold at unbelievable prices (I bought a paperback for $3)! There are numerous genres, and something for everyone if you look.

Don’t be intimidated by the stacks of books piled all over the place.  Have fun looking through them, and you might just walk away with a book you would never have even thought to get before!

Children of all ages will love the wide variety of kid’s books available.  From fantasy books to the classics, children will find whatever book their heart desires and will enjoy the hunt for that perfect new story.

Aside from the massive collection of used books, there are also several books at Retold Tales that would appeal to the avid book collector.  The bookstore has quite a few rare and first edition books (priced at around $100) for those bibliophiles on the lookout for new members to their collections.

The Owner and the Community

The owner of Retold Tales is friendly and knowledgeable about her stock and books in general.  She is usually always around to help you find exactly what you’re looking for, or to just give you some direction through her store if you’re not exactly sure what it is you want.  Don’t be afraid to go up and ask her for assistance!

To integrate her bookstore even more in the community, the owner holds story times for kids at Retold Tales everyday, once in the morning and once in the afternoon.

Pajama story times are also hosted once a month, and special events for kids are hosted as well.  I hear a Star Wars Party is happening there in May!

The owner came to Phoenixville (my quirky hometown by the way!) specifically to start a bookstore that would remain independently owned without franchising.  And that is just the type of bookstore Phoenixville needs and responds to.

As a town of its own making Retold Tales is the perfect bookstore for Phoenixville to take into its heart, and it has.

With its cozy atmosphere, welcoming owner, and new books to be discovered around every corner Retold Tales has become a thriving part of Phoenixville that will hopefully continue for many years to come.

So drop on into this lovely local bookstore if you’ve never been, or even if you have.  And if you’re just passing through, make sure you stop in and see what this store has to offer.

It’s a bookstore whose sole focus is to sell great books.  That is what a bookstore should be.

Learn More

Want to know more about Retold Tales Booksellers?  Check out their website:

Murder is Binding: a booktown mystery Review

Summary murder is bindin

Lorna Barrett’s cozy, Murder is Binding, starts off her Booktown Mysteries with a bang!  Or is it a stab?

To bring in some much needed revenue, the town of Stoneham, New Hampshire, has opened its doors to booksellers inviting them to set up shop.

Tricia Miles took up that invitation, leaving her life in Manhattan for the small town to live out her dream of owning her own mystery bookstore.

Soon Tricia’s bookstore, Haven’t Got a Clue, is open for business and Tricia is met with all of Stoneham’s friendly citizens.  Well mostly friendly.  All except Doris Gleeson, the owner of the cookbook store right next to Tricia’s.

She’s the grouchiest person in town, and she certainly doesn’t seem to like Tricia. Her antagonism becomes a real problem after Tricia finds Doris stabbed to death with a kitchen knife in her own store, and her rare and valuable cookbook stolen.

Before she can blink Tricia has all the town’s suspicions on her, and a sheriff breathing down her neck.  And if that weren’t bad enough,Tricia’s older and overbearing sister has come for a surprise visit.

With the sheriff and most of the town set against her, Tricia will have to figure out this mystery herself if she wants to clear her name.  Tricia’s read mystery books all her life, but she never thought she’d find herself in one.

Now Tricia must dust off her sleuthing skills and take a page from the mystery masters to catch a killer who is interested in more than just books.

Thoughts on Murder is Binding

This is the cozy for book lovers everywhere who feel as though there just aren’t enough bookstores anymore.  Murder is Binding transports you to Stoneham where bookstores line the streets, and the peace is only broken by the occasional murder.

Tricia Miles is our spunky amateur sleuth, and her role is made even better by the fact that she owns a mystery bookstore and that the sheriff really is out to get her.

Tricia is a great cozy heroine.  Not only does she feel the need to figure out the murder herself, her love of mysteries since childhood gives her a dose of confidence.  How hard can solving a real murder be with all the reading she’s done?

Obviously her thinking gets her into some very funny situations, especially as she butts head with the local sheriff, who it seems has never actually worked on a murder case…

Huh.  Maybe Tricia does have a bit of a leg up.  Though that leads her into some dangerous situations.

But Tricia gets help from her two loyal employees; Ginny a twenty-something young woman who used to work for Doris Gleeson, and Mr. Everett, the elderly gentlemen who loves mysteries just as much as Tricia.

Tricia’s older sister, Angelica, is another colorful character who adds in some extra trouble for Tricia, as the two have never really gotten along.  But she is also surprisingly helpful in solving the case.

The sisters’ relationship adds emotional depth to the story that is very relatable.  Who doesn’t have family problems and that one relative they love, but from a distance?

Romance is not a huge factor here.  Tricia has just gotten a divorce, and is much more interested in her bookstore.  However, there is a local politician across the street making advances and an annoying newspaper man.

How that ends…well I’ll let you read and find out!  The answer might surprise you.

The mystery itself is quite puzzling, and there was a huge twist in the end I didn’t see coming!

The clues lead Tricia into several different mysteries that all come together to form a complete picture of Doris’s murder.  The whodunit won’t surprise you nearly as much as the howdunit.

Murder is Binding remains the funny light read expected of a cozy, while still giving you a mystery with enough tricks and turns to keep you guessing at the murderer until the end.

With this debut, the Booktown Mysteries are shaping up to be a great cozy mystery series.  I know I can’t wait till the next one!

Other Details

My Recommendation: It’s a cozy so it’s in the adult mystery section.  This one though I think even young teens (around fourteen and up) could read.  It doesn’t really have much in the way of sexual innuendo like some other cozies.

Author: Lorna Barrett (also known as, L.L. Bartlett and Lorraine Bartlett)

Genre(s): mystery, cozy murder mystery

Pages: 281

Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime Mystery

First Released: 2008

Learn More

To learn more about the cozy murder mystery sub-genre check out my post

Why cozy murder mysteries are awesome

Fun Fact!

Stoneham, New Hampshire, the fictional booktown, is based on the real life booktown, Hay-on-Wye in Wales!

Why the manga is always (sort of) better than the anime

Manga to Anime manga and anime

I’ve already said the book is better than the movie, but when it comes to manga turning into anime that’s an entirely different story.

Many books nowadays are part of a series, and if one is picked up for a movie usually all will follow suit in subsequent movies.  When manga are picked up to be made into a product of the screen, however, the entire manga series is used from the beginning and is more often than not made into a T.V. show.

As manga themselves are written as installments of a story the format lends itself to T.V. show writing as it is easier to break apart into episodes, but that does not mean mangas turning into animes are necessarily anymore accurate than books turning into movies.

Though on occasion they are.  This issue is not as cut and dry as the book to movie problem, which is why I have to say that the manga is always (sort of) better than the anime.

As with anything, when a story goes from one format into another, things will be lost.  This holds true for manga that become anime.  No matter how close they get to the manga inevitably something will be missing in the anime.

Running out of Time

Ranging from a lot to a little the main problem for anything missing is that even though an anime has episodes, and thus a bit more time than your average two hour movie, it does not have as much time as you think.

Aside from anime like Naruto and One Piece, which seem to have no end, most animes are on average between twenty-four and twenty-six episodes long with the episodes running for an average twenty-four minutes (including opening and closing theme songs).

Unless a manga is super short, this will not be long enough to include or explain everything that happens in the manga.  Leaving those who have only seen the anime with lingering questions, that could very well be answered by the manga.

Ahead of Their Time

Another reason for the lingering questions that come at the end of an anime could also be the fact that when a manga series is picked up to be turned into an anime, the manga itself is often not finished yet.

Unlike books that are turned into movies where at least the book they are basing the movie on is complete (even if its series is not) an anime is most often based on a manga that is still ongoing.

This of course causes a lot of plot holes in the story which the writers of the anime have to fill.  Since they (nor anyone else for that matter) don’t actually know how the story will end, writers make up their own ending for the anime.

Sometimes their ending kind of works, but a lot of the time it really doesn’t make any sense with the beginning.  As the beginning of the series was based on the actual story written by the manga-ka and the end was written by different people you can see where the two halves of the series may not line up.

Another thing that happens in regards to that is that sometimes anime writers don’t try to make up an ending at all.  Sometimes they just stop where the manga stops which leaves the anime open-ended, and a lot of questions to still be answered.

Manga to Anime is not Always Bad

Now even though it frustrates me to no end when an anime turns a manga I love on its head, the truth is animes usually get closer to the actual content of the manga than movies get to books.

Mangas already include artwork, so usually anime artists follow that original template so at least the characters you love look the same.  Also there are some things anime can give you that manga (no matter how good it is) just can’t.

It is very hard to picture an action sequence in a manga, especially when it is drawn over several pages you have to flip through.  Anime solves this problem as it is able to show movement on screen.

Aside from that anime really does do its best to keep the integrity of the manga alive, where as I feel movies are not as concerned with that for the book.  Rarely have I seen an anime where I couldn’t at least see a little bit of the manga shining through.

Of course the anime will still be different than the manga, and as with movies based on books you just have to go in knowing that and look for the good bits.  Oftentimes the anime is actually very good, even if it does go off book a bit (or a lot).

Read the Manga!

It does annoy me though when people who have clearly only seen the anime, judge a manga by its anime.  Do not do this!  It’s the same thing as judging a book by its movie.  It’s just bad form.

The writers and artists of an anime, though they try to keep the integrity of the manga, are not the person who originally thought up this idea.

The truth is manga-ka usually have just as little say about the animes based on their mangas as authors do about the movies based on their books.

If you see an anime you like, but were really confused by and have a lot of questions still unanswered, READ the MANGA!  Chances are either the manga is still ongoing, or the anime couldn’t fit all of it in.

If you read the manga you’d be surprised how fast the ending and the entire series makes sense.

Mangas and animes are an entirely different breed than books and movies when it comes to turning one into the other.

However, they do face similar problems with their content being shifted.  The anime may keep better to the original manga, but still it is impossible for it to keep perfectly to the original story.

The anime and manga can both be good, but just remember do not judge a manga by its anime.

The Thief Lord Review

Summary the thief lord

In Cornelia Funke’s children’s novel The Thief Lord, mysteries and legends come to life. 

Venice, Italy, a place of amazing structures, fantastical legends, and secrets waiting to be unlocked.  Beneath the watery city streets are unknown canals and secret passages concealing that which does not wish to be found.  It is the perfect place to hide…

Prosper and his younger brother Bo, orphaned after their mother’s passing, escape to this mystical city after running away from their horrible aunt and uncle.

Here they are taking under the wing of a young boy called the thief lord who leads a band of other runaways that steal in order to survive.  In an old boarded up theatre with their new friends they make their home.

But just as Prosper and Bo start to feel safe their aunt and uncle arrive in Venice looking for the brothers in the hopes of taking Bo as their own and sending Prosper to an orphanage.

If that weren’t bad enough a secret that the thief lord has been keeping from everyone comes to light creating a great rift between the band just as they are hired by an old Conte for their toughest job yet.  The Conte wants them to steal a wing.  A lion’s wing.

Gaining new allies in the form of the private eye hired to find them and a local photographer, the brothers will discover an ancient secret of Venice that may aid them in escaping their aunt and uncle…or pull them apart forever.

Thoughts on The Thief Lord

This book shows just as much love for the characters as it does for the city the story takes place in.  Venice itself is a character.  Like a friend it hides the brothers and their friends while also concealing many mysteries and dangers in its watery depths.

This is the book that made me fall in love with Venice.  With the immense description of the city’s buildings, back alleys, and secret canals I felt as though I had seen Venice with my own eyes.

With all its hidden passages and legends of magic around every corner Venice is truly the best setting for a story of runaways, and Prosper and Bo are the kind of runaways you route for.

I loved them immediately.  At six Bo couldn’t be more adorable, and even at twelve Prosper seems so grown up.  My heart melt at how well he takes care of his younger brother and how close they are.

Their relationship is present at every part of the story and it really makes you hate their aunt and uncle.  They are quite vile people, which is wonderful because then they make the perfect villains.

The other members of our band of runaways include Hornet, one tough girl who refuses to tell anyone her real name, Riccio, a young boy who dreams of being as a good a thief as their leader, and Mosca, a boy with dreams of getting a boat and finding his father who disappeared years ago.

And of course there is their leader Scipio also known as the thief lord.  A very charismatic teenager who really does care about looking after his friends, even though it is his secret that nearly tears them apart.

I won’t say what that secret is (you’ll have to read the book to find out) but it was timed perfectly in the story with the theft of the wing, and it really added a lot of emotional turmoil to people’s lives that were already difficult.

For anyone who thinks children don’t feel pain as much as adults just read Riccio’s reaction to the betrayal he feels when he finds out Scipio’s secret.

The private investigator Victor hired by Prosper’s aunt and uncle to find them and the photographer Ida were excellent allies to the children.

Ida gives them help and insight about the wing they are meant to steal, and Victor ends up aiding the brothers (because he can’t stand their aunt and uncle either).

Of course everything culminates with the finding of the wing and the discovery of what it is really used for.  Something that brings Prosper and Scipio together as it could give them something they both want.  But then the question becomes for both of them is it really what they need?

This story is one of friendship and love.  How family is more than just those that are related to you, and how children oftentimes understand things better than adults.

You’ll cheer for Prosper and Bo, and grip the edge of your seat as they and their friends are taken on a magical journey in an already magical city.  And at the end of it all reunite with their friends as they all find exactly what they need: a family where they are loved.

Other Details

My Recommendation: Ok so I guess this is officially a children’s book.  I didn’t know that, not that I care.  It’s definitely suited for children, though probably at least eight or nine and up.  Again my “and up” includes all ages all the way to one hundred and beyond.  Parents read with your kids!

Author: Cornelia Funke

Genre(s): fantasy, adventure

Pages: 349

Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.

First Released (in English; originally written in German): 2001


+Anima Review

Summary +Anima

In this epic fantasy manga series you journey to the world of the +Anima, people who possess certain animal powers and abilities.  In this world regular humans and +Anima live side by side, however, not always peacefully.

Many humans shun the +Anima out of fear.  Hated by most of the population, +Anima often hide their abilities, even as they look to find those like them.

Enter Cooro, a young boy and a Crow +Anima, on a search to locate others like him.

After being captured by a traveling circus that uses +Anima in their acts, Cooro meets Husky, a Fish +Anima also forced to perform in the circus.  While at first Husky doesn’t seem inclined to be friends with Cooro, the two eventually escape the circus and set off together on an unbelievable journey.

Along the way they are joined be Senri, a Bear +Anima who is part of a tribe of people known as the Kim-un-Kur who take pride in being +Anima, and Nana, a young girl and Bat +Anima who although it saved her life would rather just be normal.

Together the band of four travel across the land getting into many adventures along the way.  From getting tricked into helping a town, to journeying across Moss Mountain with a caravan and even into the country of Sailand, where being a +Anima isn’t just looked down upon it’s illegal, the group must be careful of danger and betrayal at every turn.

And when they find out the real reason for their journey will this group that have become so close be torn apart forever?

In a world vehemently set against anything different, Cooro, Husky, Senri, and Nana will search, hope, and fight for a place to belong.

Thoughts on +Anima

I absolutely adore this manga series.  I read the first volume in one sitting, and then was very upset to realize that the second volume wasn’t even out yet!  They are all out now, so I really encourage you to get hooked!

The story is beautiful both in its writing and in its drawings.  The story itself warms your heart as you follow the +Anima on their journey for acceptance.  The truth is, it is a very serious topic but it is written in an optimistic way that gives you hope even in the darkest times.

There is always a lot of humor between the band of four as even when Husky and Nana try to be serious Cooro always has to be the goofball.  The heart-pounding adventures they get into are even laced with humor as they keep you on the edge of your seat.  You’ll always be wondering what’s going to happen next?

The story itself draws you in from the very first page with a mystery: Just who is Cooro?  That is a question that hangs over the entire story and is even asked by the other characters.

+Anima are not born as such, they become +Anima usually due to a stressful situation like having their lives put in danger.  Husky, Senri, and Nana all have experience with this.

Cooro, however, tells them he was born with his crow-like abilities.  The reader from page one sees that this is true, and this in itself is a mystery that it appears Cooro does not even know the answer to.

Another mystery emerges in the form of a man, wrapped in shadow, who is following the progress of the band of four…. and seems to know Cooro.

These mysteries were very strategically placed in the beginning of the story and then brought up again in specific spots throughout the story making you want to read more.  I just had to know these answers!  Very smart of Natsumi Mukai to place the answers at the end of the series.

The plot is wonderful, but it’s the characters you’ll fall in love with.  Husky, though a bit rough around the edges and agitated with the fact that everyone always thinks he’s a girl, steadfastly stands by his friends.

Senri may not say much but what he does say speaks volumes of his compassion.  Nana may seem like a frivolous girl at times but she knows what’s important and is there when it counts.

And Cooro brings them all together.  He may have a mysterious origin but he is the funniest of the group, and constantly blowing their cover as he spreads his wings at the drop of a hat!  As any group leader in manga he is always getting into some kind of trouble and is always eating.

Husky, Nana, and Senri always find themselves in situations where they are pulled into danger by Cooro’s actions, yet they continue to follow him.  Because also as any leader in manga, Cooro has the kindest heart of anyone and can’t stop himself from helping someone in need.

That attitude may be just what is needed to help +Anima be better understood and accepted.  That was a big reason I enjoyed this manga.  It deals with issues that occur in our world today.

It takes a look at world where those who are different are hated and feared before they even say or do anything.  How human nature is flawed.  It is a very relatable theme.

As you follow the story of Cooro, Husky, Senri, and Nana, you’ll laugh, be on the edge of your seat, and cheer as they go on an adventure with a curious end and just maybe find where they’ve always belonged.

Other Details

My Recommendation: This manga series is rated T for teen meaning 13 and up.  I would say that’s probably accurate (manga ratings usually are).  Younger children may not fully understand the underlying themes, but use your own discretion.  A mature 11 or 12 year old could handle it, but I really wouldn’t recommend it for anyone under 10.

Manga-ka: Natsumi Mukai

Genre(s): fantasy

Publisher (English): Tokyopop

Volumes Released (in English): 10; this series is complete

First Released (in English): 2006


Why the book is always better than the movie

Book to Movie library-better-than-movie_000

People always say the book is better than the movie.  Well I am here to tell you that is accurate.  Really all you need to do is watch a movie based on a beloved book and be completely and utterly disappointed by its silver screen performance to have many reasons why the book is always better than the movie, but I’m going to highlight a few of the main reasons.

When books are turned into movies events are often changed.  Sometimes they are minor changes sometimes major, but they always seem to be exactly the piece that you love.

Don’t Understand the Movie?  Read the Book!

Not only that but often the part of the plot that gets changed from book to movie, whether minor or major, leaves a big gaping hole in the story.  This leads to confusion in the audience who haven’t read the book, anger in those who have, and worst of all misinformation about parts of the story.

Sometimes I feel I need to scold people when they walk out of seeing a movie based on a book who say, “Well that was good, but I didn’t really understand some of it.”  Read the book!  You’d be amazed how many gaps will be filled in if you do that instead of just relying on the movies.

Once I overheard some women discussing Harry Potter.   One of them was very confused about the relationship between two of the characters, and another one explained it.  She got everything wrong, but she was very certain that she was correct.

I knew immediately that they had not read any of the books.  It took all of my willpower not to turn to them and give them a crash course on everything Harry Potter, and end by telling them to read the books.

I had a professor in college who loved The Lord of the Rings, and he said he could always tell whenever people had only seen the movies.  They always referred to them as a trilogy.  It’s not a trilogy.  The Lord of the Rings is actually one big volume broken up into six books not three.  Those who have read the book know that.

My professor was always annoyed with the trilogy people who claim to love The Lord of the Rings so much.  If you think it’s a trilogy you may love the movies, but you don’t love the real Lord of the Rings.

What Book is this anyway?

Sometimes certain points of books are not left out of movies.  Sometimes the entire plot of the story is completely changed.  So much so that even if you have read the book, you leave the theatre just as confused as everyone else.  So much so you’re not even sure if what you saw was actually based on the book it said it was.

One example I have of this is Percy Jackson and the Olympians The Lightning Thief.  I love this book, I love the whole series.  The movie was vastly disappointing.

Aside from the fact that they used the same title and character names it could have been a completely different story.  This happens much more often than people think, and it is always hugely disappointing to the people who truly love the book and are looking forward to seeing it come to life on screen.

More Information

I do understand that as a movie that will be under three hours, screenwriters cannot include everything from book to movie.  Some things will get lost in translation.

That’s another reason why books are always better than the movies.  Books have more space.  They can flush out everything.

Even when the movie actually stays pretty close to the mark there are always some things that don’t get put in.  In the book you have access to everything.   Every single piece of information is put in regarding the story so you never feel lost or confused (even if you have to read it a few times).

Tips for Book-based Movie Watching

Now I am not saying do not go to movies based on books.  I certainly do and the way things have been lately if you don’t go to movies based on books you may never go to the movies again.  When you do here are some tips to help you enjoy the movie instead of spending the entire time complaining about how it’s nothing like the book:

  • Know going in that this movie will not be like the book.  Remember things always get taken out from book to movie whether small or big.  Prepare for both.
  • The author of the book usually has very little or no say in the writing of the movie script.  Understand that this happens.
  • Remember there is a limited amount of time to work with in a movie so don’t go in expecting everything to be gone into in detail.  It won’t be.  Make peace with that now.
  • There are things that you can get from the movie that you can’t get in the book.  Like getting to see the characters you love come to life, or maybe there was an action sequence that can be better clarified on the screen then in words.  Find those things and focus on them (instead of everything that they got wrong).
  • Enjoy the movie as a movie and try not to compare it too much to the book.  You’ll only be disappointed, and you might miss out on a movie that actually is a good.

Now of course even following these tips you’re probably going to find a movie that has disgraced the book so much nothing will stop you from being angry and that’s perfectly fine.

Let’s face it even if the movie is good the book will always be better, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the movie too.  They’re going to keep making them and we’ll all keep seeing them; we might even enjoy a few.

But the book will always be better than the movie, so remember:




The Heretic Queen Review

Summary the heretic queen

The world of Nefertari is brought to life in Michelle Moran’s exciting work of historical fiction, The Heretic Queen.

In Ancient Egypt as the star of the nineteenth dynasty takes the throne, it is from the previous, despised, dynasty he will take his queen.

The eighteenth dynasty of Egypt has burned.  The hated Nefertiti and Akhenaten along with their monotheistic regime are gone.  Nefertari, niece of Nefertiti, is the only remnant of this royal family that remains.

Taken in by Seti I and raised in his court she is given free reign to run wild and do as she pleases.  But as she grows older Nefertari realizes she must find a stable position in the dynasty or be cast aside.

Under the guidance of the Priestess of Hathor (and Seti’s sister) Nefertari is taught and cultured.  Learning everything a queen would need to know.

When Ramses II becomes pharaoh it is Nefertari that catches his eye, and the two wed.  But Nefertari comes from a family of branded heretics; from a dynasty the people of Egypt fear will be repeated.

As tensions run high and with scheming political adversaries around every corner, Nefertari will have to work quickly and cleverly to save the man she loves, and prove to the people of Egypt that she is deserving of being his queen.

Thoughts on The Heretic Queen

This is an excellent work of historical fiction.  It keeps the suspense up even as it pulls from legitimate and well researched historical fact.

I really enjoy Michelle Moran’s work, especially how she always finds a fairly well known period of history, and then tells it from the perspective of a not well known character.

Although she was queen to Ramses, not much is known about Nefertari.  Part of that is because Ramses the Great kind of eclipsed everything, but another reason is because Nefertari herself is kind of a mystery.  Even though her tomb has been discovered, archaeologists still debate over who she actually was and where she came from.

The most likely theory is the one Michelle Moran uses in this book: that Nefertari was the niece of Nefertiti.  Having the story told by Nefertari herself was also very well done and I highly enjoyed it.

It is clear that Moran did her research as Nefertari’s thoughts and actions are so believable that sometimes you have to remember that this is fiction!

Nefertari herself I loved.  She was a very complex character just as the real Nefertari was a complex woman.  I liked how you got to see from the perspective of an actual wife of a pharaoh, how that job description was much more involved than people think.

Obviously as his wife you have to give him children, preferably male children, and for a Princess of Egypt that is as far as it goes; but not for a Queen.  I like how this book showed Nefertari’s intelligence, cleverness, and tactfulness in matters of politics especially with other empires.  She was not just a pretty face.

The romance in this story was eye-opening.  I never considered that the pharaoh in Ancient Egypt who had so many wives could legitimately love one of them.  I suppose that’s modern bias, but reading this book changed all of that.

Underneath all the political tension and battles with invading empires, this is a love story at heart.  There are numerous occasions in the book where Ramses shows that he truly loves Nefertari; especially when he favors her over his other wife Iset.  Reading this romance gave me goosebumps it was so beautiful.

Of course it wasn’t all a bed of roses as Nefertari finds herself working against many adversaries who will do anything to make sure Ramses does not name her his Chief Wife, and thus Queen of Egypt.

Her main allies include her beloved nurse Merit who raised her and Woserit Priestess of Hathor and one of Pharaoh Seti’s sisters.

But it is Pharaoh’s other sister, Henuttway a Priestess of Isis, Nefertari must watch out for.  She is backing Iset to become Ramses’s queen and will do anything to make sure it happens; even betray him.

The Heretic Queen will keep you on the edge of your seat as you follow Nefertari through war, love, and political ambitions as she fights for her place at Ramses’s side.

From her own witty perspective Nefertari shares her story, and perhaps even sheds some light on the real Nefertari.  The only woman to ever enchant the heart of Ramses the Great.

Other Details

My Recommendation: This book can be found in the adult fiction section of any bookstore, but I’d say around sixteen and up would be fine to read it.  Remember just because something is in the adult section does not necessarily mean that someone under eighteen can’t enjoy reading it!

Author: Michelle Moran

Genre(s): historical fiction, romance

Pages: 382

Publisher: Three Rivers Press

First Released: 2008

Towne Book Center and Cafe

The Road To Towne towne book center

This is a bookstore favored by the locals of Collegeville, Pennsylvania (I’m happy to be one of them!).  Family-owned this local hangout has a warm friendly feeling that invites you in.

And not only are the shelves lined with a multitude of stories to read, the bookstore has its own story to tell.  It was a long road, and several name and location changes, before it became known as the Towne Book Center and Cafe.

In 1990 a franchise bookstore called The Little Professor opened its doors.  The family, loving what they were doing in their community and doing it well, took the bookstore into their own hands.  In 1996 the store became the independently owned Trappe Book Center named after the shopping center in Trappe, Pennsylvania, it was located in.

In 2011, with the building of the new shopping center in Collegeville, the Town Providence Center, this beloved bookstore was given a new opportunity and new life once again.  They were one of the first stores to take up residency and renamed themselves again becoming the Towne Book Center and Cafe.

As a loyal customer of the Trappe Book Center I of course followed them to Collegeville, and admittedly was at first worried that it would be too different from the bookstore I had grown up loving.  Well there was one major difference I found.  It was even bigger than before!  Books were everywhere as far as the eye can see, and now they had a cafe too!  Change can be a good thing.

Supportive Staff

The Towne Book Center has continued to be a community landmark for book lovers.  Some of their staff have been with them since Trappe and are thus very well acquainted with what the bookstore houses.

And even those who have only worked at Towne are highly knowledgeable about what’s in stock.  Because really you can’t not love this place!  Everyone there is friendly and helpful, ready to help you find that perfect book.

Books, Books Everywhere…With Coffee

As soon as you walk in the front door you are met with shelves of new releases and bestsellers, that then lead you off into numerous sections with books of all kinds.

They’ve got non-fiction, cook books, travel books, a huge fiction section which breaks off into mystery, romance, and a whole wall full of science-fiction (fantasy books are also included here).

They have a whole teen section, and with their larger pace were able to add an entire children’s area which holds a beautifully painted jungle scene above it.

A special thing that I enjoy is that this independent bookstore does have a manga/graphic novel section.  A market this store was smart enough to get into.

Pretty much whatever you’re book fancy you can find at the book center (they even have the latest magazines!).  If you happen to come across a book you want that you just can’t find, however, no worries!  Just ask the staff at the register to order it for you.  They’ll be happy to help you find any book you desire.

The best thing about ordering from them is even though they give you a range of dates of when your book will arrive, usually your book ends up arriving much earlier than expected.  I can personally attest to this.

One of the greatest editions that was made when Trappe became Towne was the cafe.  Full of fabulous coffee and tea drinks, like a blended caramel coffee drink perfect for a hot summer day (or any day really).  Not to mention their delectable desserts.  The peanut butter cookies are to die for!

The cafe also comes along with a spacious seating area where you can sit, relax, read, and enjoy your coffee and dessert.

Special Events and Community Groups

The cafe’s large area does become highly useful on certain occasions when special people pop into the book center.  Lisa Scottoline has made several stops to promote her books, and other authors often stop in for a signing.

The book center also does events for popular series books, and allows you to pre-order the next volume so that you can get it immediately when it is released.  I have fond memories of their Harry Potter all night parties at Trappe.  Packed in and waiting for the clock to strike midnight and then stampeding toward our pre-ordered books.

Aside from the special events the book center also has regular book club meetings, themed tea parties (the Frozen tea party was a huge hit), writing groups, and many other activities.

Promoting the Local at the Local

As a local independent bookstore, Towne Book Center enjoys promoting local authors and artists.  You can find local artwork hung throughout the store and books by local authors are always prominently featured.

The Towne Book Center is a wonderful family-owned bookstore that really reaches out to the community and makes you feel welcome.  This was shown in the 2014 Hot List where it won third place in the bookstore category.

It has something for everyone so stop on by and have a look around.  As soon as you step in you’ll want to make it you’re new home for books, and if you’re just passing through the area mark it as a spot to rest and relax on your travels.  The Towne Book Center is a bookstore you’ll never forget!

Learn More

Want to learn more about the Towne Book Center?  Check out their website:

The Betrayal Knows My Name Review

Quick info about this type of book review before I get started.  This book is a manga, and as anyone who reads manga knows the title is for the entire series not just one book.  As such for this and any other manga I look at it, the review will be of the series as a whole (whether finished or ongoing).

Summary the betrayal knows my name

The Betrayal Knows My Name starts with a boy named Yuki Sakurai.  He has been raised in an orphanage since he was a baby.  He has a kind heart and helpful nature, but has always felt somehow alone and constantly fearing that people will find out about his strange ability to see people’s deepest secrets and cruelest emotions.  The darkest parts of their hearts are open to Yuki through one simple touch.

Left in the bushes in front of the orphanage, no one ever saw or knew who his parents were or where he came from.  Yuki wants more than anything to be needed, and wishes to know what his purpose is.  Why was he born?  Just as Yuki turns fifteen and starts high school his questions will be answered in the strangest way.

Trying to aid a friend Yuki is nearly run down by a car, and saved at the last moment by a strikingly beautiful man with silver eyes.  Eyes that seem to tug at something deep in Yuki’s soul.

Before Yuki can even understand his sudden feeling of connection to a man he’s only just met, he is attacked by monster-like creatures.  He is saved by the silvered-eye man again as well as two high school students.

Then Yuki learns of the battle between the Giou Clan, a clan whose members have supernatural abilities like his own, and the Duras, or demons.  This battle has been raging for over a thousand years, with the same warriors of the Giou being reborn again and again until it is done.  It is a battle that Yuki has a large role in.  A role he has played many times before.

Moving to Tokyo to take his place among the Giou, Yuki must learn to control his powers if he is to help his new found family.  But far greater challenges than Yuki knows await him.  Will he be able to figure out why he feels such a strong connection to the silver-eyed Duras, Luka who seems to have joined the Giou solely to protect Yuki?  And when the true reason for this war comes to light will Yuki be able to handle a betrayal he never saw coming?

Thoughts on The Betrayal Knows My Name

I have read many a manga in my time.  So many in fact that at one point I found that I couldn’t get into them like I used to.  The Betrayal Knows My Name changed all that.  I could not put it down.  I read the first volume, and had to get the rest as soon as possible.

I’ve often said that the best characters in manga have tragic back stories.  It’s a sad fact, but if a character does not have a tragic back story (or no back story at all) they are not that great of a character in manga.

In this manga all the characters blew me away.  They all have perfect tragic back stories (with a bunch of past lives behind them of course they would).  This makes excellent fodder for the emotional depth of the plot as the characters must work out many hard things while already in the very hard situation of war.

I love them all really, but if I told you about all the characters we’d be here all day.  The main focus of this manga is the character Yuki and his relationship with everyone, especially Luka.

Those two have a very important relationship linking back to Yuki’s past life.  I won’t go into full details here because I want you to read it for yourselves, but their relationship is the one I really love the most.

Luka really is the perfect guy and Yuki you really just want to hug.  He’s always trying to solve everyone else’s problems no matter how much pain it causes him and never worrying about himself.  But never fear that’s what Luka is there for.

I really love both of these characters, and have reread their numerous scenes together just because I can’t get enough.  I really want them to be happy.  I really want all the characters to end up happy.

That’s the way this manga makes you feel.  Like you know them all and want them to be happy in the end because after a thousand years of war they deserve it.

The title was what drew me to this manga in the first place.  Even though I have read all the ones that are currently out (in English) I still haven’t quite worked out what it means.

The thousand year war was started by a member of the Giou Clan (not saying who) who betrayed them to the Duras.  So I guess that’s the big betrayal, but within the story there are many other betrayals that are going on.

The Giou lie to each other, withhold information, and everyone seems to have a secret agenda.  It certainly makes a great story that keeps you guessing (despite the confusing title).

The element of the supernatural and a war between humans and demons going on in secret alongside modern day Tokyo makes for a great story in its own right, and the characters and their complex relationships carry it through.

The artwork in this manga is honestly some of the best I’ve ever seen.  It’s so beautiful and somewhat sad.  It’s like Hotaru Odagiri has taken the essence of the story and given it physical form in her drawings.  Just beautiful.  An overall superb manga in every possible way.

Other Details

My Recommendation: The official ranking on this is Older Teen.  Stick to that.  It’s not quite in the levels of the M rating (eighteen and up) but this series is definitely in the range of sixteen and up.  This manga is NOT for children.

Manga-ka (author): Hotaru Odagiri

Genre(s): fantasy, romance, shounen ai (this is a manga genre that features boys being intimate with each other in between friends and lovers) leading towards yaoi (this is the genre of boy love; I think and hope its heading this way anyway!)

Publisher (English): Yen Press

Volumes Released (in English): 6 (first five hold two volumes in one); this series is still ongoing

First Released (in English): 2011