The Time and Place Book Tag

I’d like to thank meltingpotsandothercalamities for this tag. Picking just one was hard, as usual, lol, but I had fun doing this. Check out her blog for book, webtoon, and anime reviews, as well as some original lists & recommendations!

This tag was created by Jen Campbell.

Rule:

Pick ten books from your shelves that you associate with a specific time and place in your life. Tell us the story behind your choices and what the books are about.

I think I’ll try to list  them in chronological order by whatever age I was at when I read them. Here goes:

 

Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry & Wesley Dennis (Art)

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First “big girl/boy” book I remember reading. There were about animals, specifically horses, which I loved, and I remember being quite proud of myself for getting through the series without help.

Synopsis: A somewhat historical story in setting that surrounds the life of two young children, a wild pony, and her foul on Chincoteague Island.

Guardians of Ga'hoole series by Kathreen Lasky

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First series I remember stalking the the release dates for. This was sometime in upper elementary school, when the school library was my go to place for books. Looking back, I now feel sorry for that librarian. This was also the first long running fiction series I ever really got into. It turned out to be a story with much darker elements than expected, which, of course, is part of what made me love it so much.

My excitement for the 2010 movie adaptation was probably excessive.

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Synopsis: Surrounds the life of a barn owl after being kidnapped from his nest by a dark organization who call themselves “The Pure Ones” (can you see where this is going?). Despite the captivity, main character Soren manages to hold to the hope in the stories his parents told of heroes, and works to resist their brainwashing and escape with a new friend. 

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

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First popular teen series I ever read. I didn’t even know popular teen fiction was really a thing until someone recommended it to me. Not the best book for obvious reasons, but it is what got me out of my years long reading slump and into the world of YA.

Synopsis: Is this even necessary at this point? Emo vampires. Ordinary human girl. Unsettling romance. Nuff said.

Fell by David Clement-Davis

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This was the first fictional philosophical read I remember picking up. It was also the first animal centered read I went to after popular fiction got me back into reading. Technically Fell is the sequel to The Sight, but I unknowingly read them out of order, and fell in love with this one more.

Naturally the synopsis would be a bit of a spoiler so I can’t give any specifics, but I can say it’s about a wolf and young girl, both outcasts, form an unlikely friendship. And that it was as they travelled together towards a shared destiny, each struggling to find the meaning of their lives and their place in it, that I excitedly whipped out my “book quotes” notebook.

Bitten by Kelly Armstrong

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First Adult Urban Fantasy I ever read. I got into them after reading her YA The Darkest Powers series. Though I’m 99% sure I wasn’t quite old enough for that genre at the time, it started my long standing enjoyment of adult urban fantasy. 

Synopsis: Starts off pretty normal: normal female werewolf and normal ignorant human bf, equalled a “normal” level of problematic relationship in Toronto. Till her old pack comes calling, mysterious murders happen, psychopaths run wild, humans grow suspicious…it all gets fascinatingly hectic. 

Eon by Allison Goodman

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This is one of a few very memorable reads from the time in high school where I finally got a spot as a library assistant. I was encouraged to read a wide range of books, and I think this was my first Diverse fantasy read.

Synopsis: Set in an Asian modelled fantasy world, 12 year old Eon, despite facing ridicule as “a cripple”, endured gruelling training for years in hopes of being chosen as an apprentice- a Dragoneye- to one of 12 dragons. And his hard work pays off. Which is all well and good, except Eon is actually a 16 year old girl, and girls are strictly forbidden from becoming a Dragoneye…like “we’ll lop off your head!” type of forbidden. 

Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel

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First graphic novel I ever read (about the same time as Eon). Aside from Archie comics and comic strips in newspapers I had never actually tried reading a graphic novel before. Even though I loved DC comic movie adaptations, I always preferred reading novels. But one day I finally decided to give one a try.

Synopsis: A middle-grade series about a kid who finds himself, accidentally, in the world of spirits facing understandable levels of terror, and a tyrannical king.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

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There might have been one before this, but this wonderful series happened around the time book to movie adaptations were blowing up in theatres. This is the first (during this time that is) I remember watching the movie for before hearing about the books. Which made me one of the very few that didn’t despise the movie…till I read the series, watched the atrocity that is the second movie, and re-watched the first. 

 

Synopsis: Another I don’t think needs saying, but just in case: young boy struggling to deal with a dysfunctional family and learning disability meets attempted assassination by mythological creature. Truths are unveiled. More assassination attempts. And a great mystery/action/fantasy filled adventure ensues. 

 

Saga by Brian K. Vaughn (Story) & Fiona Staples (Art)

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First comic series I really fell in love with (2015). While Ghostopolis is the first comic/graphic novel I ever read, Saga was the first that actually made me want to read more. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Ghostopolis, but unlike Saga, it didn’t make me think: “what is this!? I need more like it in my life!” It was this that officially jump-started my Image Comics binge session. It’s also the first graphic novel series I started collecting.

Saga Synopsis: Two opposing races in the middle of a galactic war find themselves falling for each other Romeo and Juliet style…just with a ton of crude language, attitude, fantasy, and advanced tech, and minus the mutual suicide and everything Renaissance. Once their relationship takes off, and becomes known to both sides of the war, the two lovers find themselves desperately protecting the lives of their less than orthodox family. 

D. Gray Man by Katsura Hoshino

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First shounen (YA for males) manga I fell in love with and started collecting. I actually didn’t start reading manga till a couple years ago (I wouldn’t touch it before), but my then newfound anime watching slowly changed my mind. The first couple manga series I picked up were…meh, but this one and Skip Beat! by Yoshiki Nakamura (the covers do NOT do the series justice) are the two that not only really got me interested in reading manga as a whole, but in starting my own collection.

Synopsis: Way darker than I expected. Ever had a love one you wanted to see back from the dead? Well in alternative late 19th century London it’s made possible by a man called The Millennium Earl. Which would seem like a good thing, if they didn’t come back as Akuma- a living weapon fuelled by human souls, and used by the Earl to wipe out mankind. Allen Walker, bearing the curse of an Akuma yet determined to save them, is just one of many Exorcists chosen (no consent needed) by the only substance capable of stopping Akuma and opposing the Earl. 

Thanks for reading!

I Tag:

SteviesBookshelf

Booksofonesown

Little Life Library

Red Headed Book Lover Blog

MorganFaye @mybookjourneysite 

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Pre-Hiatus Review Highlights

Hey guys! I’d just like to do an overall highlight of some of the reviews posted before I went on hiatus. I missed doing one for the months prior and would still like to highlight a few, so here’s a condensed overview of the reviews I posted before going on break (Click on the title to read more):

Best Snowball (Series)
*By “Snowball” I mean a series/book that starts incredibly slow, but is worth the wait*

Shaman King, Vol.1: A Shaman in Tokyo by Hiroyuki Takei

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The series is about a young Shaman named Yoh, who in the first volume is starting at a new school in Tokyo…Through a series of events which involve ghosts, supernatural occurrences, and encounters with a “thug” named Ryu, Manta and Yoh become friends…In this volume we are introduced to Admidamaru, a 600-year-old samurai ghost and to a fellow Shaman named Ren who has a particularly sinister interest in Yoh and Admidamaru…

I give Shaman King, Vol. 1: A Shaman in Tokyo a rating of 7 out of 10 Unicorn Horns. Overall the story was not amazingly entertaining, but that did not bother me at all because the story quickly picks up towards the end and you can easily identify the main focus/purpose of this initial volume in the series.

Best Artwork

Locke & Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodríguez

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After their father is killed, Tyler, Kinsey and Bode move to the family estate, Keyhouse in Lovecraft, Massachusetts with their mother Nina….The youngest of the Lovecraft siblings, Bode, comes across a key that unlocks a Ghost Door which separates the soul of the person who “walks” through from their body. In the nature of all good fiction the story is not easy sailing from then on and the family soon has much more to worry about than just healing and moving forward.

I give Locke and Key a well deserved 7.25 Unicorn Horns out of a possible 10. In addition to the well executed storyline this graphic novel has exceptional artwork. Gabriel Rodríguez’s illustrations in this series is mind-blowing and his art style lends itself so well to the story.

Best Character Development

Yona of the Dawn, Vol. 1 by Mizuho Kusanagi

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Yona of the Dawn is a fantasy set in a kingdom called Kohka. The story centers around main character princess Yona as she prepares for her 16th birthday. Yona, the only child of widow King IL, is a pampered young lady, but things quickly change. Very quickly. As most know nothing good happens for royalty on their coming-of-age birthdays. 

Rating: 8.5/10 Unicorn Horns. I did NOT at all expect for this story to turn out the way it did. I can promise watching this fiery spirited princess transition into a determined warrior with open eyes to the reality of her kingdom is every bit worth it.

Most Thought-Provoking Story

The Beauty, Vol. 1 by Jason A. Hurley & Jeremy Haun

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“Two years ago , a new sexually transmitted disease took the world by storm. This S.T.D. was unlike any other that had come before. This was a disease that people actually wanted. “Victims” of this epidemic were physically changed by the virus. Fat melted away, thinning hair returned, skin blemishes faded, and their facial features slimmed. It became known as the beauty.” Pg. 1 of The Beauty

Rating: 9.5/10 Unicorn Horns! One thing I loved was the bits of real life socially controversial thoughts and ideas about beauty woven in here and there…

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

*THIS REVIEW IS SPOILER FREE*

Book Review-American Born Chinese

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American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang is a Young Adult Graphic Novel that follows three seemingly unrelated story lines that intersect in an interesting way near the conclusion of the story. The stories are not told back-to-back, instead they are broken up into various chapters, where each chapter contains a portion of each story. One story follows the main character Jin Wang, a Chinese-American boy who goes to a school where he is picked on. All Jin wants is to fit in at this school where he is the only Chinese-American student. The second story is a retelling of a Chinese fable of the Monkey King. Although the Monkey King is the ruler of all monkeys and a master of kung-fu, he wants to be recognized as a god and not a mere monkey. Lastly, there is the story of Danny. He is a basketball star and he’s popular but every year he is forced to switch schools when his ‘very Chinese’ cousin Chin-Kee comes to visit.

Although this book is technically  young adult  it could easily be enjoyed and digested by an older middle-grade reader. The theme and concept of ‘true-identity’ runs through the entire story. Overall, my favorite of the three stories contained in this book was that of the Monkey King. To me, this story also happens to be the one that best portrays the importance of accepting oneself and being true to your self.

Gene Luen Yang does an outstanding job of not only exploring how we self-identify, but also cultural identity. Although, if you dig deeply you will realize that cultural identity can be seen in the story of the Monkey King, if you swap out race (Chinese/Caucasian) for the idea of being a god/monkey, it is most apparent in Jin’s story as Jin desperately wants to culturally fit in. There is a scene within the first few chapters of this book where Wei-Chen, a new student who has immigrated from Taiwan approaches Jin and Jin’s first comment to him is “You’re in America. Speak English”. This is slightly heartbreaking as you can clearly see Jin’s ‘cultural self shaming’ (for a lack of a better term…I decided to make one up!) and embarrassment to potentially be overheard understanding/speaking in a language other than English at school.

American Born Chinese, wholeheartedly and without a doubt deserves 9, of the shiniest and brightest, unicorn horns! This is a book that I would suggest that any adult who has a child/young adult in their life should buy for said young human. It is amazing to see Asian, and more specifically Chinese-American representation that is honest. The book is an important read, not only for readers who can culturally/racially identify with the main characters and plot points, but for all young humans (and unicorns alike) who are growing up/grew up racially ‘othered’.