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Nanowrimo Day 3

3 Nov

Stickers I designed for NaNo Los Angeles (our theme this year is fairy tales :)). Come get one at a write-in if you’re in the area~

To go with the last sticker, here’s the prompt for today:

slipper / pumpkin / midnight



31 Oct

I can’t believe it’s almost November again already! I’m doing National Novel Writing Month again, and this year I’m a Municipal Liaison for my region, so I’ve been busy getting stuff ready for November. Alas, that means my poor, neglected blog was neglected even leading up to November.

But–! One of the classes I’m taking right now is a tween materials class, which means I have 50+ reviews of tween books and media coming after I finish this semester! (Which I will be doing while doing NaNo this year…..)

I’ve also been busy doing translations for FUNimation and trying to get my students up to Common Core standards.

We’re doing fairy tale themed writing exercises in my classes until NaNo is over (or I run out of ideas), so here’s the first prompt:

beanstalk / boots / cow

Ready, set, write!


Ling and Ting’s Birthday Party

30 Sep

Ling and Ting Birthday Party

These came in the mail for me today after I participated in this game on author Grace Lin’s website last week to celebrate her new book, Ling & Ting Share a Birthday. Isn’t her mailing label great? I love reading about the Taiwanese American experience from her point of view. Thanks for the goodies and for your books, Grace! (Not that she reads my blog, but… ^^;)

Last day of school!

15 May

Japanese lesson for the day: お疲れ様でした (otsukare sama deshita)

It means “thanks for your hard work,” or literally something along the lines of “you must be tired” (I’m not entirely making that last one up–”tired” is 疲れた or tsukareta).

It’s what Japanese people say to each other at the end of the work day, or when they complete a big project. I loved saying this at the end of the day when I worked in Japan (and when I worked for a Japanese company in the States). It was so nice to have that acknowledgement of the work you did that day. For me, it was a nice separation of work and home, but I’m sure that wasn’t the case for most of my Japanese coworkers.

Still, this is how I feel right now. I’m in the last 15 minutes or so of my first semester into my MLIS (although I was pretty much done with my last assignment by the end of the weekend), and I’ve been telling myself otsukare at the end of every big project I’ve done so far. I still have work, and freelance work, and I have stuff scheduled in for pretty much every day of my break between semesters, but I am definitely ready for a break from school. I may even get some reading done! :D

A quick note for A to Z: Thanks for all of your comments and congrats on the reflections post! I’m already preparing for next year! 

[Y] YuYu Hakusho by Yoshihiro Togashi

28 Apr

I wasn’t planning on doing any more manga for this challenge, but I’m cheating (again) with Y because I didn’t realize until just now that my original ‘Y’ book actually started with the letter ‘I’ until just now as I was getting ready to write this post… (In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Betty Bao Lord). So instead of scrambling around trying to find and read a book starting with the letter Y in 2-3 days (I’m still writing these in advance) and then write the post, I’m doing a series that haven’t actually read (I’ve only Netflixed the anime), but at least this time the manga and anime are both available in English.

幽☆遊☆白書, a.k.a. YuYu Hakusho, Ghost Files, or Poltergeist Report, is a classic shonen (remember, shonen = boys’) manga that pretty much everyone in Japan has heard of. Most young(ish) professionals read/watched it when they were growing up, and older adults probably remember their kids watching it on TV. I don’t know about the younger kids these days, but I do know that if I go to karaoke with a Japanese person and sing a theme song from this series, they will most likely recognize it.

This series is basically a series of tournaments where the main characters get stronger and stronger until they have to fight guys from another world to even break a sweat. Typical shonen stuff. I love action and tournaments, though, so this was a lot of fun to watch. Definitely a series aimed at young boys, but that doesn’t usually deter me with books or with manga (don’t know what that says about me, though…).

Hiei and Killua

Fanart that's pretty close to how I imagine what Hiei (left) and Killua look like in my head. Click on the image to go to the original site (Japanese).

I was confused for years because one of the main characters from this series, Hiei, was very similar in personality and appearance to a character from another successful series, Hunter x Hunter, named Killua (see image).

There were a lot of other similarities, like the number of main characters and their personalities, and for a long time, I thought that whoever wrote Hunter x Hunter had copied the ideas off of the person who wrote YuYu Hakusho. It wasn’t until years later that I realized that both manga had been written and drawn by the same person…

Togashi-sensei’s other famous series (that I’ve watched), Level E, is a science fiction comedy (aimed at adults, I think) that is completely different from the two battle manga series he is known for but still pretty enjoyable, if a bit strange.

Also for all you shojo (girls’ manga) fans out there, Yoshihiro Togashi is married to the creator of Sailor Moon, Naoko Takeuchi (according to Wiki, where I try to confirm all the information in my head that I’m not sure about before posting it online).

This post is my Blogging from A to Z entry for the letter Y. 

[X] Xanth series by Piers Anthony

27 Apr

The first and only thing I could think of for the letter X was the Xanth series by Piers Anthony. I don’t know if I would consider them YA, but I think I read them in late elementary school because I found the books at the junior high where I had Chinese school on Saturdays. They were probably a little mature for me, but I enjoyed the humor and the fantasy elements. There was also an older girl at church who collected the series, so she let me borrow a bunch of the books in the series after she found out that I liked them.

Considering how much I read them at the time, it’s kind of sad that I can barely remember anything about them. Looking at my bookshelf, I actually own quite a few of his books, but I couldn’t remember which ones were part of the Xanth series and which ones were part of a different series. I remember now that I liked the puzzles in the Adept series, so I bought books from that series, but I didn’t realize that I only bought the second half (I think). I did manage to find an X book under “Anthony, Piers” on my shelf, though–Xone of Contention, which is part of the Xanth series.

Even with the help of Wikipedia, I couldn’t remember much about the book or the series, so that’s all for this very short post… Only two more to go!

This post is my Blogging from A to Z entry for the letter X. 

[R] Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything by Lenore Look

20 Apr

I think this is the second book in the series, but my library didn’t have the first book, so I read this one instead, just to get a feel for it. I don’t read many early chapter books, but I had read Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things, also by Lenore Look, and I wanted to read the girl version.

I love these books because they have Chinese main characters, with pictures, so it’s even more apparent. I’m Taiwanese, but as books go, this is close enough. This book is great because it has Ruby with a cousin from China who doesn’t really speak English.

I was just talking to my cousin about a similar incident the other day. She was telling me about her experience at school when she first moved to America from Taiwan and how the teachers at her junior high (she was in 7th grade) had a Japanese girl “translate” for her (this was about 30 years ago, when there was less sensitivity to these issues…).

Her brother was at the same elementary school as one of our other cousins who was a couple years younger, and all the teachers got the American-born cousin to translate for the one that just moved from Taiwan. The only problem was that the American-born one couldn’t speak Mandarin, and his Taiwanese was limited to the phrase “chicken poop.”* So his “translating” consisted of repeating everything the teacher said in English slower and more loudly.

My cousin and I were almost literally ROTL while talking about this, but that was the reality at the time, even in such a diverse place as Los Angeles. It was slightly better while I was growing up, but not so much better that I don’t jump at the chance to read these new books with Asian main characters that have popped up in the last ten years or so whenever I see them.

In the book, Ruby’s cousin is deaf, which adds another dimension to the communication mishaps that can occur. The book is funny and genuine, with adorable illustrations that will draw even the most reluctant readers in. Best for early elementary (Ruby is in second grade in the first book), girls will the Ruby Lu series, and there is an Alvin Ho series for boys that is equally funny and engaging. Of course, eager readers may devour both series, but it looks like there will be plenty of new titles to come.

This post is my Blogging from A to Z entry for the letter R. 

*This is probably not entirely true, but there is an often-told story in our family of how he went to Taiwan and all he could say was “chicken poop.” He will never live it down, no matter how many iPhone apps he designs at Apple.

[O] Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper

17 Apr

There is a strange phenomenon in our house where the first book of a series always goes missing. This is because someone will decide they want to re-read the series and pull out the first book, and then never get around to it, separating the first book from its companions forever.

Over Sea, Under Stone is one of those books. It is the first book of The Dark is Rising sequence, but honestly, I don’t remember much other than that the books were set in Cornwall.  I tried to re-read the whole sequence last year and found this:

The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper

We were missing the first two books.

Strangely, this seems to happen more to my sister’s books than to mine, as I’m much more possessive and obsessive about my books…

This is a great series to read if you haven’t yet, and I would recommend it for boys and girls ages 10 and up, especially those who like fantasy or King Arthur.

This post is my Blogging from A to Z entry for the letter O. 

[N] Nathan and Nicholas Alexander by Lulu Delacre

16 Apr

It seems fitting that both my entries for the letter J and the letter N have books that carry strong memories for me of reading with my sister (her name starts with a J).

Nathan and Nicholas Alexander is a picture book about the friendship between an elephant and a mouse. I’m pretty sure Nathan was the elephant and Nicholas Alexander was the mouse (I have a vague image of the mouse being pompous and emphasizing his whole name, but that could have just been my reading of it). My favorite part was the toy chest partitioned off so that Nicholas Alexander could live in it. I never had a toy chest, but I always wanted to do that.

This book is special to me because I used to read it to my sister before she could read (or even really remember, because she couldn’t really remember the book when I mentioned the name to her). She was probably 2 or 3, so I was in 2nd or 3rd grade, which is perfect, because School Library Journal has it for preschool to 2nd grade.

I grew up watching shows like Reading Rainbow and Storytime, so I was probably just copying what I had seen on TV. I’m pretty sure I kept at it until way past my sister was old enough to read on her own (I was reading Harry Potter to her when the first book came out in her Scholastic book order, and she was about ten).

I kept reading to her because I was always so impatient for there to be someone that I could talk about books with, and it took a while before she could read as fast as me. (She is still probably a much more careful reader, though. I read “prefect” as “perfect” the first few times through the first Harry Potters, and she was the one who pointed it out to me. Hated it at the time, of course, but I’m resigned to it now.)

Nathan and Nicholas Alexander is a really cute story about an unlikely friendship that would be fun to read with a pre-schooler. Or better yet, have an older sibling read it to the preschooler, so they can share the story together!

I haven’t done many picture books on this blog because I haven’t read many lately, although that is starting to change, since a close cousin just had a baby. Recommendations for her (or for me to read to her) would be welcome! What are some of your favorite board or picture books?

This post is my Blogging from A to Z entry for the letter N. 

[L] Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

13 Apr

And now back to our regularly scheduled books. :) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott was probably one of my first favorite books as a child. I remember begging my mom for this beautiful hardcover copy with full-color prints of paintings inside, illustrating the story.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Illustrated by Ed Martinez

The huge book was illustrated with gorgeous paintings like the one on the cover by Ed Martinez.

I think I was in fourth grade when I first read this book, and I identified with Jo’s love of reading (if not with her love of writing) and her hair. I remember thinking that $25 was not worth cutting off my hair for (which was probably the right choice, since it was a while before I found a short cut that suited me). I still tend to grow my hair long (I’m too lazy to get it cut, and I always wonder how long I will last before I get fed up with it).

Looking back, I think Jo’s relationship with her sisters was somewhat strange to me, because my sister was so much younger that she wasn’t someone I could hang out with until I was much older. Now that I am much older, I have a better understanding of the bond between sisters and just how strange they (we) can be. Haha.

I feel like I’ve kind of outgrown this book now, which is kind of sad. I don’t know if I would like it as much if I read it now, but it’s nice to be able to think back fondly of a time when this book was one of my most prized possessions.

I don’t think I realized that it was set during the Civil War until I was in college, but since that was when Alcott was alive, I suppose that would make Little Women realistic fiction. Although for us, it would probably go under historic fiction…

Girls (who love books or their hair) should read it at least once in their lives, if only just to know what everyone else is talking about. From what I can remember, kids can learn about themes of family, love, loss, and overcoming challenges or hard times.

This post is my Blogging from A to Z entry for the letter L. 


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