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photo 2018-06-13 13:38

The Guardian is one of my go-to sources for international news; refreshingly, they've so far refrained from putting up a paywall.  I'd like their content to be able to continue being freely available on the web, but more importantly, I think these days it's more important than ever to support journalists and media organizations that are committed to reliable, in-depth reporting and aren't afraid to call out abuse and corruption.

 

And in (sort of) the same spirit ...

 

This T-shirt is a treasured gift from a Canadian penfriend, on the occasion of my first visit to Canada 30+ years ago.  In light of recent events, I decided it was time to bring it out again ... (miraculously, I can even wear it still, which has a lot to do with my friend's wise decision to opt for "too large" rather than "too small").

 

We now return you to your regularly scheduled reading.

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text 2018-06-12 13:59
First Indie Book For Children
One Century friendship - Little Bean Seeds

 

 

I am a non-native English speaker living in Hong Kong. One day in 2017 when I cleared my bookshelf, I found a book I wrote when I was in secondary school in 2002. I want to do something to remark that moment, hence as a challenge and a gift for myself, I try to rewrite the story again and plan to share it with others.  

 

I hope the readers who read my book can also take the courage to step out from their comfort zone.  If a non-native English speaker can also finish an English book, then you can also achieve something that you think it is impossible. Just depends on whether you give yourself a chance to explore. 

 

 

STORY SYNOPSIS:

 

The story is about 4 children, Helen, Mark, Yasmin, and Shelly, go to a summer camp and meet a boy who lives more than one century. It seems the children join the summer camp coincidently, but what if the meeting is designated to happen. A wooden brass box is a key to answer what will happen to the 4 children.

 

My book has been enrolled in Amazon KDP select, hence the book is included in "Kindle Unlimited" and " Kindle Owners' Lending Library. Hence if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited or Kindle Owners' Lending Library" programs, you can find my book. 

 

If you are interested in the story and want to get an advanced copy, please leave me your contact. I will try to get back to you in person. 

 

I am willing to accept both positive and negative reviews and you are under no obligation to write a review. If you enjoy reading the book and willing to provide a review on Amazon or in any of your social media, please let me know before you post a review. 

 

 

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text 2018-05-17 03:43
This Feels Like My Other Job
The Undoing Project: A Friendship that Changed Our Minds - Michael Lewis,Dennis Boutsikaris

C'mon, Booklikes.  If I'm adding editions like, every day, maybe I can get a paycheck for all this work I'm doing?  That'd be great....  Thanks!

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review 2018-05-04 00:38
The Great Treehouse War by Lisa Graff
The Great Treehouse War - Lisa Graff

 

There are a lot of things you should probably know to understand why a bunch of kids decided to climb up a treehouse and not come down.

- First Line

 

Imagine a never-ending sleepover in a treehouse with 9 of your best friends. Just so you know, the treehouse has a bathroom (but no stove), two floors, a craft station, a platform for deliveries, a skylight, and a zipline. The thing is, the kids are staying in the treehouse and refusing to come down until their parents give in to their demands. While a treehouse sleepover sounds amazing (and who wants sleepovers to end), 10 kids in close quarters can become stressful for even the best of friends.

 

Winnie originally stays in the treehouse every Wednesday - so her divorcing parents can have equal numbers of days with her. When Winnie realizes she is failing 5th grade and the only time she gets any homework done is Wednesdays in the treehouse, she decides to stay there permanently. But, will her parents ever see reason and stop fighting over everything being exactly equal??

 

The plot touches on issues like divorce, screen time, tv privileges, and other difficulties between parents and children.  It's an engaging story with realistic characters who love and support each other through everything. The format is a group memoir (written by Winnie) and there are cute illustrations and post-its from the other characters throughout the book.

 

 

Kids will love the idea of living in a treehouse with their friends and not having to answer to parents. (There is a plot point that prevents the parents or police from entering the treehouse which verges on ridiculous, but the kids won't mind.)

 

Recommended to: Grades 3 - 8, fans of realistic fiction, and reluctant readers. Fans of James Patterson's Middle School series will enjoy this one. :)

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review 2018-04-19 18:11
I Am Here! (manga, vol. 2) by Ema Toyama, translated by Joshua Weeks
I Am Here! Omnibus Vol. 02 - 遠山 えま,Ema Tōyama

The first omnibus volume introduced Hikage, Hinata, and Teru. Hikage starts off practically invisible to everyone around her except Hinata and Teru. In the first volume, we learned that Hinata has a crush on Hikage. Hinata's jealous fans - one girl in particular - start bullying Hikage for spending too much time with him. In the end she's able to stand up to them.

Whereas the first omnibus volume was focused more on Hikage and her efforts to make friends, this omnibus volume was focused more on Hinata and Teru and the mystery of Black Rabbit's identity. Hikage is convinced that Hinata is Black Rabbit, a possibility that's initially appealing but then fills her with horror and embarrassment. Black Rabbit is her kindest and most supportive online friend. If Hinata is Black Rabbit, that could mean that her "friend" was really laughing about her behind her back as he was encouraging her to talk to him more. Hinata keeps denying that he's Black Rabbit, but he's clearly hiding something.

Things become even more difficult for Hikage when Teru realizes that he has a crush on Hikage too and the two best friends, Hinata and Teru, ask her to choose between them. While Hikage tries to figure out what to do, the wedge between Hinata and Teru starts to tear their entire class in two.

I felt so-so about the first omnibus volume, but since this series is so short I felt like I should finish it anyway. This final omnibus had some parts I liked and some I loathed.

I liked the closer look at Hinata and Teru's friendship. Now that I know Black Rabbit's secret (which I didn't clue into while reading the first volume but figured out a few pages into this one), I have a different perspective on what was going on between Hinata and Teru in the first half of the series. The first half of this volume, when Hinata and Teru were still actively trying to make sure that whatever each of them might be feeling for Hikage didn't hurt their friendship, was fine. Unfortunately, it fell apart when the love triangle reared its ugly head.

I hated the love triangle. Once Teru realized that he was in love with Hikage, his and Hinata's relationship devolved into a competition over Hikage. Teru was a liar, too - he'd say that he didn't want to make things difficult for Hikage, but then he'd explicitly ask her to choose between him and Hinata. Since Hinata and Teru's friendship turned out to be the glue that held the entire class together, asking Hinata to choose meant she'd also be responsible for the class group breaking in half, a fact that her fellow classmates picked up on right away (and almost piled on her for). Hikage found herself at risk of not only losing her budding romantic relationship and all her friendships and budding friendships, all because of this stupid love triangle.

The love triangle resolved itself less painfully for the characters than I expected, but that was mostly because Toyama allowed the tension between Hinata and Teru to just sort of magically evaporate. Some aspects of the love triangle never quite went away, despite Hikage making her choice, which left me wondering whether the issue had really been resolved. I suppose it could morph into an inside joke shared by all three of the characters...

In addition to the love triangle, I also hated that the bullying storyline came back, with the exact same bully. Even though her previous plans resulted in her own public humiliation, Aya decided to jump back into the fray with new plans...that could easily be traced back to her and used to humiliate her a second time. Because this is supposed to be fluffy shojo starring a super-sweet heroine, instead of humiliation Aya got an apology, a smile, and an encouraging speech.

Meanwhile, I'm the horrible person who thinks that there was nothing for Hikage to apologize for. Aya was in the wrong for thinking that Hinata was supposed to be some kind of untouchable idol and trying to keep others away from him. She was also in the wrong for bullying Hikage for getting close to him. She made it worse by impersonating several people in the love triangle to further screw up everyone's relationships, all so she could win over a guy who'd already made it clear he wasn't interested in her.

On the plus side, I was glad that Hikage's online relationships didn't quite work out the way I originally thought they were going to. It wasn't as neat and tidy as "Black Rabbit is this person from Hikage's offline life and Mega Pig is that person," and I liked the recognition that the way people interact with others online might not always match how they interact with them in person. So there's that. (And yes, characters could use their flip phones to post comments on Hikage's blog. They do it on-page in this volume, answering the question I had back while I was reading the first volume.)

I didn't hate this series, but this half of it was definitely weaker than the first half, and the first half was mediocre. Parts of the series were stronger than I expected, but the bullying storyline and the love triangle were both annoying. If ever there was a series that I wish had completely ditched its romance aspect and just focused on friendship, it's this one. I was more than a bit horrified when Hikage examined her feelings for Hinata and Teru and began to lean towards the "romantic relationships are more important than friendships" answer. The series didn't quite work out that way, but I still wasn't a fan of how Toyama handled things.

Extras:

The volume includes several author sidebars featuring a not-particularly-interesting comic series starring Mega Pig (the actual cartoon animal) and Mahi (the sunflower character), character profiles for Hikage, Hinata, and Teru, a short comic starring fourth-grade Hinata and Teru, a few pages of humorous short comics, and a few pages of translator's notes. There's also a bonus comic starring Mega Pig (his offline self), which was kind of cute and tied up a few loose ends from the main series.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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