Liebster Award

liebsterblogaward-small1A big thank you to Hannah over at Things Matter for nominating me for a Liebster Award.  This award is meant to help bloggers discover new blogs and give some love to smaller blogs like mine.

I’d like to nominate some of my favorite blogs that I think should have more readers:

I know several of you guys already have Liebsters, so please please please don’t feel obligated to respond to this in any way.  The last thing I want is for this to feel like a chain-letter obligation.  Just know that I love your blogs, and I want others to be able to love them, too.  If you feel like it, you can answer the same questions I’m answering below (which are the same ones Hannah answered).

Why did you decide to blog in the first place?

I wanted to get back into writing, with the goal of actually writing the stories/novels that have been floating around in my head for years.  Writing about nerdy stuff was an obvious choice, because that’s what I’m mostly thinking/talking about anyway.  My husband picked the blog name.

Name three of your pastimes or hobbies.

Does reading count?  That is how I’d spend all my time if I could.

  1. Tennis (I was varsity in high school)
  2. Flute (I played through college and still play in my church choir)
  3. Crafty things (sewing, cross-stitch, scrapbooking)

If you could interview anyone (dead or alive), who would it be and why?

Maybe Jane Austen.  Or Martin Luther King Jr.  Or my grandfather who died before I was born.

Do you have any pets? If not, what would you consider getting?

I have a cat, Jolee Bindo.  I’ve had hamsters, fish, and cats before.  I love dogs, especially pit bulls, but they have way too much energy for me.  Cats are more my style.

I’ve worked with rats, mice, cats, dogs, rabbits, goats, ponies, river otters, ducks, muntjacs, etc. in my various jobs as well.  Not the same as pets, but still.

What is your favorite movie and why?

Star Wars.  Return of the Jedi is probably my favorite of the original trilogy.

What is your favorite comic book and why? (If you don’t read comics, just name a favorite book).

 If we are counting graphic novels/manga, it’s hands-down Cardcaptor Sakura by the incomparable CLAMP.  The artwork is incredible, and the story is beautiful.  It was my introduction to anime and manga.

Also, I just raved about Saga recently.  And Captain Marvel’s recent issues are pretty good, too.

What is your favorite Youtube channel?

Confession: I don’t watch YouTube.  Like, at all, ever.  It was probably about a year before I saw that Rebecca Black video “Friday.”  But my husband watches it constantly.  He’s watching as I type this.  So thanks to him, I am a big fan of Nerdy Nummies, Dorkly, and The Warp Zone.

If you could cosplay as any character, who would it be and why?

Meiling Li from Cardcaptor Sakura.  I love her fighting costume.MeilingLi

What is your favorite topic to write about?

On this blog?  Books.  In fiction?  Magic (both arcane and divine), futuristic technology, friendships, and True Love.

What’s your favorite fandom?

Star Wars.  I’ll see you all at the Episode VII premiere.

Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon

When I was in middle school, the same story that started the modern boom of magical girl anime was also the one to bring shoujo anime to the primetime in the US:  thousands of girls across the county were falling in love with Sailor Moon as it aired on Cartoon Network.

Not me.  My family didn’t have cable TV.

Instead, I was watching Cardcaptors on KidsWB.  While it was a crappy dub, Cardcaptor Sakura is to this day my favorite anime/manga.  I understand that many girls my age feel this way about Sailor Moon.

I’ve still only seen a few episodes of the anime here and there (yay for Toonami Aftermath).  But I recently discovered that my library has the newly re-released manga, so I figured it was long overdue.

Guess what?  I’m totally hooked.  Sailor Moon is so much fun to read.  Interesting and varied characters, plenty of laughs, romance, and lots of action.  Lovely artwork, too.   I’ve read through all nine published volumes now;  the last 3 will be out before the year is up.

It has a totally different feel from Cardcaptor Sakura (it is inevitable that I’d compare the two).  The pacing is so much faster.  Both series have 12 volumes–Sailor Moon manages to fit in FIVE story arcs where CCS has only two.  Compare the two samples below:

The Sailor Moon page has a lot more text bubbles and figures and stuff.  The CCS page has a lot more open space and feels much more relaxed.  And these pages above aren’t even from battle scenes, which tend to be even more jam-packed.   Sailor Moon is non-stop action, while CCS even takes time in the middle of a battle for a beautiful, simple two page spread:

Sakura changes the Fly Card

Sailor Moon’s fast pacing is part of what makes it so fun, but I think it also sacrifices a little in the way of character development.  I was pleasantly surprised that Volume 9 focused mostly on the other various Sailor Scouts (or “Guardians” as they are termed in this edition).  I always think the side characters make or break a story, and I love all the Senshi!  Especially Ami, who’s most like me.  And Rei, whom I wish I were like.  And Minako, who’s just so darn kawaii! (more about her in a sec) Many of the enemies are pretty flat, but at least they have cool names, some even scientific in origin (the author studied chemistry).

These current versions of the manga seem well done, with original names, honorifics, and SFX in katakana with translations.  There are a few minor issues, typos, etc.  The surnames of the Outer Senshi are a little oddly romanized as Ten’ô, Kaiô, etc.; these symbols mean nothing to the average reader, making them more confusing than helpful.  But there are very good translation notes in most volumes, which I always love.

Along with these new editions, Kodansha has also published the companion series “Codename: Sailor V” (in two volumes) for the first time in the US.  A kind of a prequel, it focuses on Mina as Sailor Venus, acting solo as a crimefighter in the days before the other Sailor Guardians awaken; the author conceived the idea for the Sailor Moon series while writing this.  It has much more of a “villain of the week” flavor, less epic than Sailor Moon, and seems a little more shoujo, maybe just because Mina is a very girly-girl.  The artwork is still great (same style as Sailor Moon), and there is plenty of action, romance, and humor.   This is absolutely a must-read for Sailor Moon fans…the other Guardians even get cameos!

And if all this isn’t great enough, there’s still more to look forward to: Kodansha will also be releasing the first of 2 Sailor Moon Short Stories later this year.


A couple weeks ago I experienced the nerd’s equivalent of a birthday or Christmas–a box in the mail from Amazon.  A large box.

I hadn’t bought anything for myself in a while, except t-shirts with cats on them, so I took advantage of Amazon’s 4-for-3 book sale, and my husband’s free 2-day shipping through Amazon Prime.

Here’s what was in my box:

  • Dragon Slippers, Dragon Flight, Dragon Spear (all by Jessica Day George)
  • Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
  • Grimpow y la bruja de la estirpe by Rafael Ábalos
  • Kobato v. 4 and 5
  • Cardcaptor Sakura Omnibus v. 1 and 2
  • Magic Knight Rayearth Omnibus v.1

The last 3 are all manga, written and drawn by the incomparable CLAMP.  They are my favorite manga-ka; I have read most of their works and own several of them.  They have been together since the late 80s and are still churning out hits; most of their works have also been adapted into anime.  The group consists of four women, one writer and three artists who trade off duties depending on the work; that’s why each series has a different aesthetic, but overall their style looks fairly consistent.  I can always tell a CLAMP work when I see it; I even recognized their style in the anime Code Geass before I found out that they did the character design.

In terms of story, they often blend shoujo and shonen, giving them a wide audience of all ages.  Motifs often include magic, fate, reincarnation, multiple dimensions with different versions of characters in each, ambiguously-gendered pretty people, different kinds of love, and soulmates.  They frequently “cross-over” characters or shops from one work to another, especially in their recent Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle.

Kobato is their most recent completed work.  It has 6 total volumes; I have bought/read 5 so far, and the last one was just published in English this month.  It is the story of a girl, Kobato, who has a wish, and to fulfill that wish she must fill up a jar with hearts she has healed.  She is guided by a crazy stuffed dog, Ioryogi (think Kero-chan with anger management issues).  Kobato is slow to start (the plot doesn’t really kick in until about volume 3), but the art is beautiful and the characters are great.

Recommended for people who like:

  • focus on character and world development over plot
  • fantasy shoujo manga with beautiful artwork
  • other Clamp works, esp. Wish or Chobits

Cardcaptor Sakura is my favorite manga/anime ever.  It was originally published starting in 1996; Dark Horse Comics has recently acquired the English rights and is publishing all 12 volumes in 4-volume omnibus form.  The story: Sakura Kinomoto discovers a strange book in her basement and accidentally released all the Clow Cards; as the Cardcaptor, she must return them all to the book before a disaster befalls the world.  She is aided by her best friend, her rival for the cards, her older brother, her first crush, and the cards’ magical guardian who looks like a stuffed animal.  It’s a nice mix of relationships and action, with an overall “kawaii” feel.  Sakura’s myriad costumes are what inspired me to start drawing in 8th grade.

I already have the 12 volumes of CCS that Tokyopop released in the 2000s, but I really wanted the omnibus versions, too!  They are a little harder to read because they are so thick, but the quality is nice, and they have included the color artwork from the originals.  The translations are good (but no translation notes), and the SFX are left in Japanese with translations.

Recommended for:

  • fans of magical girl manga, or of fantasy shoujo in general
  • CLAMP virgins (it’s a great one to start with)
  • mature 10-yr-olds and above (there is more “objectionable” content than in the anime: student-teacher relationships and gay relationships)

Dark Horse is also doing the same thing with Magic Knight Rayearth, the series that preceded CCS. I had never read/seen it, so I bought the first omnibus (they’re only about $12).  I am familiar with some of the characters from Tsubasa (Mokona, Caldina, etc.).  The first omnibus, which contains the whole first story arc, exceeded my expectations.  The story is faced-paced, with lots of action: a real page-turner.  It’s kind of a shoujo-magical girl, mixed with shonen-mecha idea, with some sword and sorcery in there as well.  Great characters and beautiful art, with much thicker, darker lines than CCS.  I will definitely be buying the 2nd volume!

The omnibus edition itself is nice; it has all the full-color character bios and art.  But it is pretty thick, and the cover dimensions are even smaller than the CCS omnibus, so it is a little hard to read.  The translations are colloquial English, a little slang-y in places (again no translation notes).  I can’t figure out why Ferio says “y’all” all the time.  Does he speak very casually?  I don’t think he has an accent.  Caldina, on the other hand, is supposed to have an Osaka accent, but that is not apparent at all from the translation.

Recommended for:

  • role playing gamers (you will get a kick out of the talk about leveling and bosses)
  • fans of action (shonen) anime with female protagonists
  • mature 10-yr-olds and above (some bloody violence)

I did also buy some actual books 🙂  I love the Dragon Slippers series (appropriate for age 10+ as well) and decided I really need to own them. I bought Princess Academy (a Newbery Honor winner) so I could re-read it in anticipation of the forthcoming sequel Palace of Stone (out in August).

Grimpow y la bruja de la estirpe is the sequel to Grimpow: The Invisible Road (El Camino Invisible), which was a bestseller in YA fantasy back in 2008.  The series is written by Spanish lawyer Rafael Ábalos.  You can get an English version of the first book, but I have both in Spanish.  I prefer to read things in the original language if at all possible (I also prefer subs over dubs for anime).  The books are a little overrated, and a little long, but are a fun read.  I would recommend them if you like puzzles and historical mysteries (à la The Da Vinci Code) and can tolerate a slow-moving plot.  I really enjoy the challenge of reading them in Spanish; it helps keep my language skills sharp in a fun, easy way.