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review 2018-02-25 19:14
I Am Here! (manga, vol. 1) by Ema Toyama, translated by Joshua Weeks
I Am Here! Omnibus Vol. 01 - 遠山 えま,Ema Tōyama

This is actually an omnibus collection of the first three volumes of the series. Hikage Sumino is an eighth grader who'd like nothing more than to have friends like other people do. Unfortunately for her, she's practically invisible. Even when people notice that she's in the room, they soon forget she's there. It isn't just people her own age who don't see her - adults constantly forget she exists too. She's been left behind on field trip days, ignored in restaurants, and even hit by someone on a moped when she tried to help a cat. The only times she seems to truly exist are when she's taking care of the sunflower she's been growing and when she's blogging. She has two regular commenters who encourage her: Black Rabbit and Mega Pig.

When two of the school's most popular boys, Hinata and Teru, talk to her, it starts to look like maybe Hikage can finally have her time in the sun. First, however, she must struggle against her own introversion and low self-esteem, as well as jealous classmates.

I might have liked this a lot more if I weren't a longtime manga reader. As it was, I could think of several series this reminded me of, and most of those were better. The one that came foremost to my mind, for example, was Kimi ni Todoke, which had a more believable setup and more enjoyable heroine. Toyama pushed Hikage's invisibility a bit too hard and ended up making it seem almost like some kind of unfortunate superpower. People literally didn't see her, or forgot she was there even if she was within view. Only Hinata and Teru were exempt from her powers, at least until Toyama decided that it was necessary for some of Hikage's female classmates to hate her.

The bit with the jealous girl was cliched but not necessarily bad, although, again, I preferred the similar storyline in Kimi ni Todoke because of the way it tied in with the main character's first female friendships. In this series, Hikage just went from no real-life friends to actually talking to someone for the first time and almost immediately getting dumped on by jealous girls. The scene where everyone

suddenly stood by her when she finally defended herself

(spoiler show)

was nice, but felt a bit forced.

The way the volume ended indicated that the second and final omnibus will deal with the identity of Hikage's "anonymous" online friends. Since they're almost certainly

Hinata and Teru

(spoiler show)

, I'm more interested in finding out how Hikage reacts and how they learned that "Sunflower" was Hikage. I somehow doubt that Toyama will ever explain how, out of all the blogs in existence, they became commenters on a supposedly anonymous blog written by

one of their classmates

(spoiler show)


I got the feeling that Toyama didn't have much of a concept of just how big the Internet is. The first volume of the series was originally published in 2007, so it isn't like this was written in the early days of blogging and the Internet. Toyama also didn't always think through how certain scenes were supposed to work. For example, if

Hinata was Black Rabbit, how did he comment on Hikage's blog minutes/seconds before knocking on her door? The characters in this series only had flip phones. Was it possible to use flip phones to comment on blogs? (I only ever used mine as a phone and an alarm clock, so maybe that was a function I didn't know about.)

(spoiler show)

Although this was pretty mediocre, it did remind me of my first blog, which I started back when I was in the midst of my post-grad school job hunt. It wasn't a good time in my life, and my blog was meant to serve as both a way to keep track of what I was doing to make myself a better job candidate and as an emotional outlet. In real life, I talked to maybe a handful of people a week, my parents and my supervisor and coworkers at my part-time job, and the longer I went without being able to give them good news about my job hunt the worse I felt. Unfortunately, I also felt like I couldn't talk about most of what I was feeling. My blog gave me a place where I could vent a little without worrying that I was upsetting anyone around me.

Amazingly, I got several frequent commenters and, as far as I can remember, every single one of them was kind and supportive. If you were one of the commenters on my first blog, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you. You all helped me so much.


There are various author sidebars, plus two pages of extra comics that take a humorous look at Hikage's invisibility. The sidebars reveal that Toyama had similar issues with going so unnoticed at her school that her own classmates didn't know who she was, although she admits that it wasn't on the same level as Hikage's invisibility.


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

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review 2017-11-25 13:18
Understanding An Introvert Story Through Illustration
Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert's Story - Debbie Tung

Here's some thing about me - I am an ISFP personality introvert after a personality test. I never thought myself to be an introvert before (for those who know me) but looking back, I was pretty much shut-in myself then before I met someone from a past that brings out the best in me. Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert's Story has been a book I look forward to read. I stumble upon Debbie Tung's work through Facebook and her work spoke true about introverts and this nicely drawn book says so much about introverts that I can connect with. Its a beautiful written work that I can read and read again. The humor, ups and downs of an introvert and the angst of being an introvert spoke true. This is an autobiography drawn book about her life, from the final days of college to adulthood, marriage and self-love captures every thing true for introverts today. I for one would recommend this as it can be a self-help guide for those who are going through some thing they do not understand about themselves. Quiet Girl in a Noisy World is a comic book for all personality types to enjoy.

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review 2017-11-06 01:03
Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert's Story
Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert's Story - Debbie Tung
New people overwhelm her but her current friends and family give her comfort. She would prefer to be alone but she agrees to the plans that others have arranged as she doesn’t want to hurt their feelings by turning them down. She would prefer to have an empty calendar than a full one. As I read through this novel, I found myself agreeing with some of the feelings that she was acknowledging, could it be that I had some traits of an introvert?
As a young child, Debbie was quiet and preferred to be alone so this is not something that has just occurred. Debbie had been struggling with social anxiety for a few years now and she keeps her guard up. As she starts to becomes an adult, she begins to rethink how she handles her social situations.
One of the reasons that I enjoyed this graphic novel was because of the messages it was sending its readers. Debbie liked being by herself and what she was doing was fine but how she felt was causing her conflict. Debbie felt that she needed to conform, to please others but she doesn’t. Debbie needs to only please herself. Debbie also doesn’t need to be upset with herself for not fitting in with other individuals in her life, she needs to do what makes her happy. I liked the way this graphic novel presents this. I also liked the illustrations, I thought these helped fuel the energy towards the messages inside the novel. I think that many readers will be able to relate to Debbie as they read this graphic novel.
This was an arc and I hope that they keep this one page as it made me smile and it is one that I know many people will be able to relate to. This page had two sections, one section was labeled “How Other People Party” and it had individuals dancing with drinks in their hands and they were all laughing and smiling. There were streamers and a banner decorating the room. In the second section of the page, it said, “How I Party” and it had Debbie in her bed with a hot drink on her nightstand. She was sitting up with a book in her hands and she was getting excited as the plot in her book thickened. I loved this.
I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing in exchange for an honest review.


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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-01-30 03:53
One-Eyed Dukes Are Wild
One-Eyed Dukes are Wild - Megan Frampton


I loved One-Eyed Dukes Are Wild, my third book by Megan Frampton. But then, there is such a lot to love about a rather introverted, awkward, very proper but not very eloquent Duke with an eye patch and a young lady who is not afraid to blaze her own path in the world.


I loved Lasham. I loved his very proper demeanor - carefully and correctly groomed within an inch of his ducal self - from the top of his head to the toe of his shiny boots - with not a whisper of scandal attached to his name. How refreshing it is to read about a Duke who is neither especially glib nor eloquent nor especially comfortable being the center of attention at ton events. More, I loved how he had this hidden very sweet, very irreverent (at times) and funny internal dialogue going on in his head that was at odds with how he is perceived by those who do not know him. Like the conversation of sorts he has with Lady Dearwood and her fellow "amateur daubists" at the National Gallery:


"Are you a fan of the visual arts, Your Grace?" She gestured to the group. "We are here for our monthly visit, we come once a month" - as the phrase "monthly visit" would imply, Lasham thought - "to gaze upon the majestic beauty of the pictures and become inspired in our own artistic efforts." She leaned forward, as though confiding in him. He resisted the urge to draw back. "We are all amateur daubists, you see, Your Grace."


"I see," Lasham replied, wishing he hadn't given in to his desire to visit the gallery today himself.


(...)"Are you a painter yourself, Your Grace


?" Lady Dearwood's voice interrupted his thoughts. Just as well, it wasn't as though he could actually have any of the things he had been imagining.


"No, I just -" How to say it without sounding as though he were as insufferably pompous as Lady Margaret no doubt thought he was, although these ladies might be pleased at how ducal his approbation - or lack thereof - was. "I appreciate art." And left his words sitting there, hanging awkwardly in the air between them.


Wonderful, Lasham, he thought. No wonder he usually kept silent in company beyond the minimum of polite conversation. He was clearly terrible at saying anything without sounding like a prig, a snob, or a . . .or a duke. (27-28)


I really enjoyed the surprise of his piratical, rakish appearance hinting that he is mad, bad, and dangerous to know but that he is in reality quite different. An introvert.


And when had he become this awkward thing who didn't know what to do with himself?


Ah, of course. He could answer that, even if he didn't know where he should be standing at this exact moment. Forever. He had been this awkward for as long as he could recall, from first being sent off to school and then at his family's various homes, and in the House of Lords.


Always wondering just where he fit in, knowing he did, of course, because of what he was, but never because of who he was. (204)


And, I loved how Lady Margaret Sawford loosened him up a little and mussed him up a bit - the way she boldly discards his carefully tied cravat, ruffles his hair, and leads him into one adventure after another - from acting as 'the muscle' when she ventures into dangerous areas of London, to calming a rabble rousing crowd in dusty pubs, to dancing the night away at a dance hall, and to smoldering kisses in the back of the carriage.


"I was thinking that if you were amenable, we could enter into a reciprocal arrangement."


A what? And why did that sound both scandalous and wonderful?


He couldn't mean what Margaret immediately though he meant.


"What kind of arrangement?" she asked, acutely aware of Annie snoozing in the corner. Just as she'd thought, however, Annie emitted a soft snore that was either an actual snore, or the kind of snore she might emit if she wanted her mistress to continue an inappropriate conversation.


He glanced over at her, a spark of - mischief? - in his eye. "I have come to realize that I am not perhaps the most adventurous of souls." He turned away to gaze out of the window on the other side of the carriage. "In fact, some have accused me of being a stick-in-the-mud. If you would, I would like you to accompany me on some . . . adventures." (122)


For me watching a very proper man unravel and let go a bit is a fascinating and very satisfying reading experience. Like Sebastien in Judy Cuevas's Dance and here with the Duke of Lasham. I truly loved Lady Margaret for the way she took a very painful and embarrassing thing like Lasham's given name (which is a mystery even to Margaret for a good bit) and made him laugh at himself and at the ones who teased him about it, and even turned his hated name into a term of endearment.


"Why did your father choose Vortigern, anyway?"


Now it was his turn to groan. "He thought his son should have the name of a ruler. Why he didn't just choose George or William or even Arthur is beyond me."


"I like it. It's different."


"That it is. You can't imagine what young boys can do to turn your name into an insult."


Margaret laughed. "I can't imagine. Tell me."


"Wartigern was one of the most popular ones. Fartigern was also a big favorite. Hern, a few times. Then, Gernie for some reason. That one doesn't make sense, but it was used nonetheless."


"Gern sounds as though it is a boulder or something - 'The trees are just a few paces past the gern.' Like that." She hoped he would laugh.


Thank goodness he did. "Or something that is unpleasant, like an illness - 'The gern was responsible for three farmers' illnesses; hopefully it is cleared up now. That gern can be a nasty business.'"


She laughed, delighted he was comfortable enough with her to join in with the joke.

"You can't gern here, you have to go over there if you want to," she said, adopting a broad London accent. (254-255)


Margaret affectionately teases Lasham about his name when she takes him to Cremorne Gardens. Though he has absolutely no idea where he's going or what Cremorne Gardens is, he's comfortable with her, and trusts her, and is determined to step outside his comfort zone.


He settled back inside and nodded to her: "On our way. A garden, you say?"


"Much more than that," she replied. "It's got restaurants, and balloon ascents, and dancing pavilions. It will be too early for dancing, but we can wander about for a bit, perhaps find something to eat, like oysters or eel pie." Her eyes sparkled in delight, and he found himself smiling in response, even though he most definitely did not want an eel pie.


"It sounds enjoyable," he replied, trying to keep his voice from being stiff.


"It is, Gernie," she said, her face alight with anticipation. (280)


Lasham's given name is not the only mystery surrounding him. There's also the matter of how he lost his eye. Many possibilities are bandied about - in battle, a duel over a lady, a riding accident, an object tossed through a window, even an encounter with a bear.



Actually, when he was eighteen, he was overindulging in wine, went to the cellar to get a bottle of champagne and the cork popped him in the eye. This revelation comes close to the end. 

(spoiler show)



I enjoyed watching Lasham's confidence in himself grow and how pleased he is when he recognizes he is not nearly as tied in knots as he was before he met Margaret. His progress is very evident in his encounter with Lady Dearwood's at her soirée:


"Thank you for the invitation," Lasham replied. "It is a lovely night for a party, isn't it?"


Lady Dearwood's expression faltered. In truth, it was raining quite hard, so much so that Lasham's feet were squeaking because of the water that had gotten into his shoes on the short walk from the carriage to the house.


"It is, Your Grace," she said firmly. Apparently she'd decided it was better to agree with the duke than debate how "a lovely night" would be defined.


"And this is a lovely party," he continued, deliberately using the same word so as to make his entire opinion suspect in her eyes.


When had he got so devious? And more to the point, why hadn't he started before? It was fun to watch Lady Dearwood wrestle with the information that he had just provided - that he categorized a rainy evening and an evening party into the same description, which must mean . . .


He saw when she gave up parsing it. "Your Grace, the beverage table is over there, and of course, I can summon someone to fetch a glass, if you could tell me what you prefer." (295-296)


For a man who struggled mightily choosing the right words for any given social situation, this is progress indeed for him to control a tedious, unwanted social encounter by injecting a heaping dollop of his own particular brand of devilish humor. I was cheering him on actually. Lasham will probably never enjoy being the center of attention, but he's learned to manage his discomfort and take a bit of fun along the way.


I was almost as invested in the outcome of the "Georgiana and the Dragon" (authored by A Lady of Mystery, aka Lady Margaret), the tasty little snippets that led off each chapter as I was in the slow-building romance between Margaret and 'Gernie." I enjoyed how these passages served as a whisper of things to come between Margaret and Lasham, and I did wonder if Margaret and Lasham didn't share more than a little with the dragon who did not want to be a man.


One-Eyed Dukes Are Wild is a mix of light and frothy with a little serious food for thought thrown in. I especially appreciated how the story of the "Absolutely Unattainable, Not To Be Wanted Anyway, Piratical and Awkward Duke" and the "Slightly Scandalous Lady of Mystery" kicks off with such simple, yet thought-provoking questions: "What would you do if you could do anything you wanted?" What is happiness? How do you find happiness? I think the best answer is what Vortigern discovers:


"There is a difference between not knowing what happiness is and not being happy, though, you understand," he said, gripping her shoulder more tightly to punctuate his words. "I might have been happy. I am, I suppose, sometimes." When I am with you. "I just am not certain what it is, precisely. Or how to recognize it when it occurs to me."



She drew back from him, her mouth curling into a warm, soft smile. "That is why we are adventuring, is it not? Happiness is an adventure. Does this," she said, gesturing to the hall behind them, still filled with dancing couples and loud music and chatter and common folk, "make you happy?"


He glanced over her head at the hall, then returned his gaze back to her and slide his hand down her arm to take her hand in his. "It does," he replied, hoping she understood precisely what he was trying to say. (222)

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text 2015-08-25 14:44
Are you properly caring for your introvert?

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