Check out 5th Grade Challenge on Audible!

“Ted, the 5th grade genius and Veronica, his arch-rival, are constantly pranking each other. When the pranks spill over and ignite a grade-wide war, the teachers organize a girls vs. boys competition.”

This is a project I’ve been working on during 2020 with author Jamaal Fridge! I absolutely loved voicing his characters and discussing his work with him. It was so much fun and such a great learning experience as both an actor and an author!

You can find the audiobook on audible and read along!

Ultra Maniac – Manga Review

I started reading Ultra Maniac back in January while I was off work during our…second or third lock down. At this point I’ve lost count of how many lock down’s there have been but I had plenty to read so, it wasn’t like I was bored or anything.

Anyway, I remembered this manga being kind of silly as a kid. I didn’t read it at the time but had a lot of friends who absolutely adored it. I ended up reading up to the first bit of volume three before I switched to something else.

Compared to Marmalade Boy, this story more mild in terms of drama. In fact it kind of reminds me of a Disney sitcom, or even the older Sabrina the Teenage Witch comics, where every spell would get her into some kind of trouble.

I couldn’t help but think about Sabrina or the Bewitched series, while I read Ultra Maniac. It wasn’t because they were mimicking one another, or pulling directly from these sources but mainly because the witch character was this kind of goofy, always getting herself or others into mischief kind of girl. She’s that fun, quirky, kind of weird girl that you can’t help but like.

Ultra Maniac is all right. It’s not the best manga I’ve ever read but it isn’t bad. It’s a light hearted comedy about friendship, that also happens to involve a pinch of magic.

The character’s are fun, and the artwork is charming. It’s exactly what I would expect from a story about a seventh grade girl with a crush, who suddenly befriends a witch.

That being said, I think if I were younger maybe in the sixth or seventh grade I might have enjoyed this story a little more. However, I still read middle grade fiction every now and then and the majority of books I read at that age, that I still own, hold up to this day. Perhaps my initial disinterest in this series as a tween was because I just couldn’t get into the series. As far as middle school fantasy manga’s, I’ll stick with Sugar Sugar Rune.

My rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Three stars. It was okay. Not great. Not boring. Just, didn’t keep my interest to finish the whole series. However, if you like cute stories with magic, friendship and comedy I think it’s definitely worth checking out. Plus, I really loved the fashion in this series.


5th Grade Challenge Audio Book!

All the chapters for The 5th Grade Challenge are up on YouTube! I had so much fun recording this audio book for Jamaal Fridge. He’s created a fun cast of character’s, I definitely recommend checking out his work!

I think my favourite scenes were between Amber and James, but I loved voicing everyone equally.

Stories like this are fun, exciting, and filled with a wave of emotions! Working on The 5th Grade Challenge reminded me of why I love to read so much! Voicing these characters rekindled that initial joy books used to bring me!

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

You can check it out on Goodreads as well!

Black Canary Ignite Review

Title: Black Canary Ignite.

Author: Meg Cabot

Age Group: Middle Grade, 9-12 years old.

When I heard that the author of The Princess Diaries was writing a comic book, and said comic book was about Black Canary, I knew I had to read it!

This book was definitely a fun read. I instantly recommended it to my niece once I was finished. It’s age appropriate, the characters are fun and Dinah is in a rock band. How cool is that?

The artwork, done by Cara McGee, who creates these charming images of Dinah and her friends. I loved the movement in the images as well. Plus everything was super warm and colourful (aside from the villains of course).

The story itself was fun. Honestly, I wish it had been a little longer…or perhaps split up into a series. I did however appreciate that the comic remained age appropriate as say…for example shows like Young Justice which were originally rated Y7 are now very clearly PG 13. In cases like this show I don’t mind as much, simply because the original target audience has grown up along with the characters. However when it comes to comic books I think it’s important to be very clear who the target age group is for. Which is why I always read books before giving them to my niece.

My niece really, really liked the comic. She found Dinah and her friends hilarious. She also wanted to help Dinah kick some Joker butt (who doesn’t wanna be a superhero right?).

We had so much fun reading it together and because of that it’s getting 4.5 stars!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Who is your favourite superhero and if you could have one super power, what would it be?

Manga I Read as A Kid

WARNING: This entire blog post will likely be filled with excessive fan-girling. For your own safety, please approach with caution.

I’ve been reading manga and comic books for a very long time. However, this isn’t a post about my favourite Archie comics…this is about Manga I read as a kid. Now, I am aware that some of these series are for teens. I didn’t understand the rating system when I was 9, so you’ll have to excuse me.

I will be noting which ones I definitely don’t think you should read between 9 and 12…and which ones are definitely 16 plus. At the time, I didn’t know anyone besides my younger sister and our friend M (who is the same age as her), who read manga. So the three of us were constantly finding books that made us go, “GAAAAAH!” haha…which I laugh at now as an adult but there are some books that seriously messed us up and some that were very mature in subject matter.

If my friend who had gotten my sister and I into manga and anime didn’t move back to Japan in 3rd grade I don’t think we would’ve had this problem. His mom knew what was what…and well our Canadian parents definitely did not.

Note

Now, for those of you who haven’t read manga or perhaps have children interested in manga, graphic novels and comic books, the rating system is similar to how films are rated and are based on subject matter.

For example:

There is children’s manga: Pokemon, Yokai Watch, Beyblade, Yugi Oh

All Ages: Girl from the Other Side

Teen 13+ manga: Minima, Shugo Chara, Card Captor Sakura, Sailor Moon, Kamichama Karin, Hatsu Haru, Love in Focus, Anonymous Noise, Kodocha, Me and my Brothers…etc.

Teen 16+ manga: Mars, Ao Haru Ride, Dengeki Daisy, Wotakoi, Daytime Shooting Star, We Where There, A Silent Voice…etc.

and 18+ manga: Monster, Ao Haru Machine Gun…etc.

Some of them will say Older Teen and will be placed in the general manga section, usually with the adult books as they are recommended for readers 18 or older.

Now Let’s Begin!


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Kamichama Karin

I had to start with this manga. My sister and I read the entire series (part 1 and 2) during the summer. We were hooked! We watched the anime as soon as we finished.

I think this was the first summer where our mom didn’t have to fight my sister to take time out of the day to read.

The series was hilarious, fun and of course about a magical girl. Plus the artwork was adorable.

My sister and I still crack many inside jokes to this day about the series.

I would definitely rank this as a 13 plus manga. I think I was in 6th grade when I read it and my sister…she would’ve been 10 (4th grade). I’m pretty sure the rating for this series is 13 plus but I’m not sure. That’s just what I’m ranking it as based on the content.

Honestly, it was really fun.


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Shugo Chara

I’m still obsessed with this series. I was 12 when I read and watched it and I ended up rewatching the anime in my first year of university.

It’s funny because I remembered parts of it being sad as a kid but in university I cried like a baby watching it…while stuffing my face with mountain dew, stir fry and candy bars. I think I understood certain things more at 18 than I did at 12.

To this day I find more and more people who were absolutely obsessed with this series.

I even dressed like Amu as much as possible. She was also extremely relatable as were her friends.

I’m positive this is a 13 plus series but it may also be ranked as children’s (for the spin off series). It reminds me a little of what Miraculous Ladybug is today. Only the kwamis are chara/heart’s eggs and your super powers are what you wanna be when you grow up.

Plus who doesn’t love these beans?


Beyblade

I cannot express how much I love Beyblade. Like I love it so much that even to this day I see the toys and I instantly beam with excitement.

I read the manga when I was 10 and watched the series between 8 and 11 (rewatching it constantly because I have part of season 1 on VHS).

I even dreamed about it. That’s how much I loved this series.

I wanted to be a Beyblader, travel the world, make friends, fall in love with Ray or Kai (I could never decide) and have a super cool team name.

Yah…this series was fantastic and is honestly for all ages. I’d watch it with a toddler or my Nana (she’s watched it lol).


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Kingdom Hearts

I will forever be in love with this series (both the games and the manga). Although the games are more fun in an interactive sense, the manga is fantastic for younger readers.

I would rate this manga all ages as I think it could be enjoyed at any age. It’s a great story, with fun and memorable characters plus…reading books based on video games has become a huge trend lately.

I can’t get enough of these characters.


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Me & My Brothers

This series started off well…and I do own a few copies of it…however it’s questionable, especially the 13+ rating.

Not saying that it’s innapropriate but like…a 14 year old girl being in love with her 24…or 30 something year old step-brother is just…yah.

At the time I read this I was 12 and everyone I knew who had read it found that whole thing extremely awkward and uncomfortable.

The story however is really fantastically written.

Perhaps if Sakura liked one of the younger brothers? Like the 16 or 18 year old? Maybe then it would…yah I’m still not okay with it. I just can’t justify it, I never could. But I still really liked the series. The amount of drama in it was insane! So much happened.

I recommend the series by the author with the babysitters instead. From what I read in high school (I lost track of this series sadly), it was a lot more…um….

I don’t know what to say. Good book. Questionable content. NEXT!


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Tokyo Mew Mew

Oh my goodness.

Okay so my love for Mew Mew is almost as strong as my hardcore love for Sailor Moon.

I adored magical girl manga. I think it’s because my mom got me into watching the old Wonder Woman show as a kid?

This series wasn’t just fun and adventurous it also had a great message about taking care of the planet. I definitely recommend it to younger audiences. I believe I was 11 when I read it? I’ve read it more than once though. I also really liked the show which was dubbed in English as well for people who aren’t so great at keeping up with subtitles.


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We Were There

I cried. I was way too young for this manga.

I thankfully didn’t watch the anime until university. There were certain scenes that were hard to stomach. It’s a heavier story and I definitely would recommend for 16+ readers.

It’s a really good story…but the level of maturity and the content is definitely not something I should have been reading at the time. I think I was around 11 or 12?

Yano and Nanami ave a fairly toxic relationship as well, which unfortunately stems from Yano’s previous relationship where his girlfriend died. He also continues to keep things from Nanami like how he slept with his dead girlfriends younger sister…it’s messy.

I gave that context simply because again, probably not something an 11 year old needs to be reading. I liked the story but I cried a lot and was extremely upset by it. In university when I fully understood everything that was going on, I cried more and also at times hated the characters.


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Monkey High!

I never finished Monkey High! but my friend and I were reading them back when I was in the 6th grade (she was in 4th). We loved how cute it was.

I believe however that the rating for this series is…maybe 16+ but I don’t know for sure. It’s hard to find the actual rating systems online.

Still I remember thoroughly enjoying this one! I may revisit it and give it a review in the near future.


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Sugar Sugar Rune

This series was adorable. Like really adorable. Like I don’t even know if I can contain how sweet it was.

Chocolat and Vanilla have the sweetest friendship of all time and just…it was wonderful and very imaginative.

I remember reading this at a friends house just gushing over the pages (and Pierre).

I didn’t find out until last October that the series was adapted into an anime, so I watched it then because spooky vibes.

I honestly think this series is fine for All Ages. Especially the show, however it was never dubbed…like Shugo Chara…which I find weird. If anyone wants to dub them, hit me up though because I would love to be apart of that.

Still this series was really focused on the strong love and bond between friends more than anything…and it honestly made me miss the good old days. It was so much fun reading manga together and talking about out favourite characters all summer or on the school bus every morning.


I’ve read so many other’s but I can’t think of anything else at the moment that I read before I was 13 that I can put on this list…aside from like Hamtaro, but I’ve never seen a manga for it so I have no idea if it exists. I do however have the VHS and managed to keep all the toys my friend gave me before he moved back to Japan. It was really cool having a penpal! My sister and I always laugh about all the fun games we used to play as kids.

I will definitely do a list of manga I read as a teenager in the near future and rate those as well. It’s been a nice trip down memory lane. I definitely want to revisit many of these stories. They still hold a dear place in my heart…even those that…were upsetting for me as a kid.

I’m also thinking of doing a post where I discuss my favourite manga/anime fashion icons. Not gonna lie, I used to get all my outfit inspiration from cartoons. These artists had a great eye for fashion.

Just look at Momo from Peach Girl!

I actually own the art book for this series…and like…Miwa Ueda needed to start a clothing line or something. Her characters always look amazing.

If you read manga as a kid, what was your favourite series and why? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Fake Blood Book Review

Summary:

“It’s the beginning of the new school year and AJ feels like everyone is changing but him. He hasn’t grown nor had any exciting summer adventures like his best friends have. He even has the same crush he’s harboured for years. So AJ decides to take matters into his own hands. But how could a girl like Nia Winters ever like plain-vanilla AJ when she only has eyes for vampires?” – Whitney Gardner, Fake Blood.

Rating: 5 Stars!

Review:

This is the first Middle Grade graphic novel that I have read in a long time, and it did not disappoint.

Fake Blood had me howling (pun intended) with laughter. Each and every character was likeable and fun in their own way. Plus it had a fantastic twist that I’m still thinking about 24 hours after finishing the book. It almost made me wish it was longer. I would have loved to see more of these characters.

My favourite character overall was Aj’s older sister, who is a 15 year old vlogger and great advice giver. She was hilarious and very sweet (in a big sister kind of way). I love reading books where the siblings have a good, healthy relationship. Even when she suspected her brother of stealing her things to give to his crush, both her and AJ retained that loving sibling relationship throughout. It was obvious how much their cared and looked out for one another, even when they argued.

AJ was extremely relatable as well. I can definitely remember a time when I too was the smallest amongst my friends, and a bookworm who preferred to read during recess versus run around…oh…wait a second I’m still a short bookworm. I miss recess.

Anyway, haha, AJ was such a great character to follow. I think many of us, especially when we were 12, had crushes that we never spoke to and prayed for some way to get them to take notice of us.

AJ takes that longing to the next level, despite is friends and sister telling him to “Just talk to Nia!” and decides that since she loves Vampire’s so much, he’ll learn everything he can about them.

AJ goes so far that he even begin watching and reading Fake Bloods versions of Twilight and Vampire Diaries. There are even references to Buffy and Teen Wolf.

Unfortunately this doesn’t go as planned. Nia takes everything related to vampires very seriously. Like, very, very seriously. In fact, she plans on becoming a vampire slayer!

This little twist creates a ton of problems for AJ, as Nia and other character’s, like their mysterious new teacher Mr. Niles, start believing that he really is a vampire.

I have to say, this twist had me turning the pages faster and faster. I was scared for AJ. Who knew the sixth grade could be so dangerous?

Nia was also a really fun character. I loved her hair (mainly because I wore mine like that in the sixth grade). She was really sweet…to bad about the whole killing vampires thing. But hey, if Buffy is your hero I mean…can you blame her?

I also love how in AJ vision, when Nia drinks from the water fountain, rainbows spill out and it’s all sparkly. That was a cute touch.

Amidst all the confusion with Nia, AJ is also dealing with other problems. He feels left out constantly by his friends Ivy and Hunter, and is starting to grow impatient with their constant betting. AJ ends up even emulating the cold attitude of the vampires in the books he’s been reading and as a result ends up hurting his friends and family. It isn’t until after this that he realizes how much he needs them by his side…especially with all the craziness going on.

Overall, this book was a fun read! I finished it in one sitting and couldn’t put it down. I would definitely recommend it to Middle Grader readers (and up) and am exciting to see what this author comes up with next.

Book Trailers I Absolutely Love

I don’t think book trailers get enough credit. I’ve had some seriously peak my interest to the point where I was ready to purchase immediately after watching them.

I think trailers for graphic novels, webtoons and comics have a slight edge because they are already a visual medium, whereas other books need a little extra thought put into what gets shown in the trailers.

For this post I’ll be sharing some book trailers that I absolutely fell in love with. Many of them will probably be from Epic Reads, but I’ll also be sharing some author/small publisher made ones as well to show them some love.

  1. Everless by Sara Holland.

I love how this trailer also doubled as an animated view of the cover. The voice over was captivating. The actress had so much emotion in her voice, and by having the her read the plot as though she were the main character is what made it so wonderful! It brought the listener/viewer into the story automatically. Love it!

2. A Court of Thorns & Roses

This one is a fanmade trailer, which was really well done. The actors did a great job of depicting the story and characters, and knew which scenes from the novel to include that would both show the plot and be visually pleasing. For a brief moment I even wondered if it was an actual trailer for a film. I also liked that the video was kept short, but still had this feeling of pulling the viewer in.

3. Cayleth Warding and the Scarlet One

Although this trailer isn’t perfect, its still good. The one thing I would have liked was to have the text and clips together versus separated. Aside from that it was paced well and alluded to the mysterious woman who comes to the island.

4. A Study in Charlotte

I really like these film trailers, and thought the actors brought the world of the novel to life in this one. This one was both fun to watch and also got me interested in reading the book.

5. The School for Good & Evil

As I mentioned earlier, I adore animated trailers. I think mainly because I’m still able to picture the characters when I read without too much outside influence. This trailer was very fun and playful, keeping in mind its target audience, while also telling the viewer about the novels plot.

I really enjoyed watching these trailers and pointing out what I liked about them. I may do more posts like this in the future. One thing that I dislike when I watch trailers is when they give away the entire plot. I like that bit of mystery that draws people in and makes them go “Ooh, what happens next?” I think that these trailers did that well, despite approaching it differently.

I have to say that the first trailer is definitely my favourite overall, because I was immediately drawn in by the character’s voice. The A Study in Charlotte trailer was also good in this sense. Narration makes sense in trailers for books. For me it gives a hint at who the characters are and what adventure the reader will go on.

The visuals are also key, since it is a trailer and I love seeing how different people approach this. There are so many different ways to create a wonderful trailer for a book, and it’s good to see how people go about it.