Check out my most recent manga review at Girls in Capes

Find my latest review up now at Girls in Capes:

With that in mind, as a Madoka*Magica franchise fan, most of the mystery of the series evaporated. While that’s true of other spinoff series as well, the direct intersection of Oriko’s path with the plot of the main series is a major detraction from my engagement with the story.

Read more now.

Review: Beneath the Abbey Wall by A. D. Scott

When newspaper editor McAllister answered the door in the middle of the night, he had no idea what lay ahead of him. The news – that the business manager of the Highland Gazette had died – was only the beginning of a harrowing journey to answer two questions: who murdered Mrs. Smart – and who was she, anyway?

A. D. Scott’s third novel, Beneath the Abbey Wall, takes readers on a journey to the Highlands of Scotland, with moors and glens that make it quite a beautiful journey indeed.  Beneath the Abbey Wall is fast-paced and engaging, switching viewpoints between members of the newspaper staff to show many sides of the narrative.  The novel primarily follows editor McAllister and reporters Joanne and Rob as they attempt to unravel the mysteries surrounding the life and death of the business manager, Mrs. Joyce MacKenzie Smart.

Most fascinating about Beneath the Abbey Wall is the way Scott manages to entwine a murder mystery with social issues.  The concept of social class is difficult for some Americans to understand, as our nation was built on the idea of breaking class roles, but Scott deals with several relationships between people who stretch across social classes, whether those relationships are romantic or simply friendly.  Scott also discusses social problems such as domestic violence, suicidal tendency, postpartum depression, and the unlawful displacement of children by welfare agencies by using elements of each issue in her plot.

While Scott is able to weave an engaging tale of murder and intrigue, some issues arise regarding the limits of the novel: its constantly-switching perspective is at times annoying, and some of the characters make such poor decisions that it becomes difficult to like or respect them.  Scott’s foreshadowing is interesting and leads readers to suspect something different is afoot, but its ending is unsatisfying and even disquieting to some extent.

Beneath the Abbey Wall is an interesting historic mystery set in 1950s small-town Scotland, an exotic setting unlike any other, and its depiction of Scottish issues – most notably the Traveling people, a specific Scottish clan, and domestic abuse – makes for an interesting read.  Its engaging and interesting plot makes Beneath the Abbey Wall worth a look, despite the unsatisfying solution to the mystery of the novel itself.

100 Books in 2012

A friend of mine who’s in the UT Writer’s Guild with me recently told me about the 100 Books in One Year Challenge.  I did some research and decided I’d throw my hat into the ring.

The site I found was Book Chick City, and the lady who runs it said she had a whopping 630 participants last year!  Currently, there are 311 people signed up, not including me!

I’m a bit behind because it took me a week or so to decide, and I haven’t really been focusing on it.  But I promise I’ll do some interesting things this year, and you’ll probably get some book reviews or book-related articles along the way…

…especially after I go to the AWP Conference and Bookfair in March.  8 hour round-trip travel, and if I’m going to be on a train, I’m taking multiple books.

What books would you challenge me to read?  What books would you recommend?  I have great appreciation for young adult, light romance, some science fiction, and fantasy novels.  I also like poetry, if you’ve got recommendations!

If you’d like to sign up as well, you can do so at Book Chick City. (Despite what it sounds like, you don’t have to be female to join in.)  If you’ve joined in, let me know how far you are!  You can see my progress on this page, and as of now I have completed 7 books and am working on numbers 8 and 9.

Happy Birthday – The Rules of the Game

It’s been almost two years since the release date of my writing/publishing experiment, The TECH Project.  Publishing the book was something like an education: apart from writing the darn thing, I decided to learn about publishing by learning to operate a publishing company.

To do so, I did research on the publishing industry.  I also learned to use industry-standard programs, including Adobe InDesign and Adobe Photoshop.  (It was only later that I learned InDesign was much, much more important.)  In the year preceding and the two years since the publication date, I have learned so much about the industry that I know it’s where I want to be after I graduate in May.

With that said and done, I’ll get to the point.

Jan. 28 will mark the second anniversary of The TECH Project’s publication date, which I like to refer to as TTP’s birthday.  Last year, I gave away one copy to a fan of The TECH Project on Facebook.  This year, I’m giving away two copies – one on Twitter, one on Facebook – and below you’ll find the rules.

TWITTER RULES

  1. Start by following me on Twitter.  You can do that in the sidebar on the right or by finding me @FelizaCasano.  If you already follow me, you can skip this step.
  2. Tweet me what superpower you want and the hashtag #TheTECHProject.
  3. You can also tweet me the message “Happy Birthday #TheTECHProject” on Jan. 28 for an extra entry!

FACEBOOK RULES

  1. Start by liking both my personal page and The TECH Project’s page on Facebook.  Make sure you like both!
  2. Post on my personal page about your writing experience.  What books or authors inspire you?  What in your daily life inspires you?  Do you write short stories, poetry, novels, or something else?
  3. For an extra entry, post “Happy Birthday!” on The TECH Project’s page on Jan. 28.

It’s a pretty simple contest!  Just do what you normally do on Facebook and Twitter, and you could win a hard copy of the book.  I’ll announce the winners by Jan. 31, and I’ll notify winners by Direct Message on Twitter and Message on Facebook.

The TECH Project is a young adult novel following Zoe Lee and five other teen superheroes.  To find out more, check out this page.

Quick Update: Poll

Hi friends and fans,

I just wanted to let you know about a poll I’m holding on my Facebook page.  You can access the poll here or vote in the comments below.  You can also give your opinions either on my Facebook page or in the blog comments.

Would you be interested in supporting the startup of a Toledo-area independent bookstore & cafe that supports the writing community and multilingual speakers/readers?

  • Yes – I love books/writing
  • Yes – I love coffee
  • Yes – I am/want to become multilingual
  • Not sure
  • Not really

Please let me know what you think!  All input is important to me, since I’d love to eventually start an indie bookstore in Toledo.