Anime That Made Me Wanna Write! A Guest Post by Jaclyn Dolamore

Friday, April 29, 2016

Anime That Made Me Wanna Write!

Today, we have author Jaclyn Dolamore to give you a list of animes that made her want to write!
And, now, onto Jaclyn!

Final Fantasy IV
Okay. It’s not actually an ANIME, it’s a video game. But it was my first exposure to Japanese storytelling, because when I was a preteen, as far as I know, there was no anime on TV. Not even badly dubbed anime with some of the good parts cut out. So when I first saw a Final Fantasy game, I was ALL OVER IT. The story seemed so magical! It had crystals and paladins and a girl who could summon monsters and an amazing soundtrack! My mind was further blown when I saw the original character designs by Yoshitaka Amano. In the US, video games, comics and cartoons got no respect and were barely considered art at all. In Japan, they had amazing composers and artists working on these things. This shaped my entire attitude toward the art I was creating as a kid and a teenager.

Studio Ghibli Movies
Well, seriously, who can watch the work of Studio Ghibli and not be inspired? My second book, Between the Sea and Sky, was heavily inspired by Ghibli movies, especially the adorable, thoughtful teenage romance of Whisper of the Heart, and the flying scenes of…nearly every movie they’ve made. Howl’s Moving Castle has been a general inspiration for everything, especially my Magic Under Glass series. And I have a book in progress about a witch and her familiar that is most definitely an homage to Kiki’s Delivery Service. From the magic, to the strong female characters, to the quiet little details interspersed throughout, and the charming settings inspired by both Europe and Japan, it is hard for me to write anything without thinking of a Ghibli movie at some point!

Fushigi Yuugi

This was the first anime series I got really hardcore obsessive over. Fushigi Yuugi is about a normal Japanese schoolgirl (of course) who gets sucked into a book and finds herself in a version of ancient China with a lot of beautiful and/or quirky boys with tragic pasts. I’ve always been a sucker for beautiful and/or quirky boys with tragic pasts. My Hidden Lands series draws from a lot of influences, but certainly one of the images I keep going back to are beautiful Chinese emperors in magical palaces with weird hats, especially with book 2 and all the tradition and pomp of the Palace of Blessed Wings, and that’s all thanks to Watase Yuu.

The Works of Ai Yazawa

I’ve always been a fantasy writer, but one with a serious love for intimate, relationship-driven conflict over WOWIE ZOWIE MAGIC stuff. So sometimes I want to write contemporary, but then it seems too boring. Where is the magic? Paradise Kiss and NANA are, to me, perfect examples of writing contemporary stories that feel utterly magical. Everything is a little larger than life, but the emotions still hit home. And the fashion illustrator in me is just plain envious. Whenever I think of writing stories in the real world, I want to capture the feeling of Paradise Kiss and NANA. (Also, one of my characters is totally George. And no, it’s definitely not my character who is named George, haha.)

Legend of Galactic Heroes

Legend of Galactic Heroes is a long, long series that has never been released in the US and can be hard to find. It’s an amazing space opera, although I have a hard time recommending it to people because iIt’s really long, and gets into a level of historical and political detail that can be very confusing at times! The payoff, though. OH MAN. When a certain character died, I cried more than when I had to put my cat to sleep. That is a LOT of crying. I was just so invested in this story. So anyway, I was watching Legend of Galactic Heroes while writing my fifth novel, Glittering Shadows, which was a difficult book to write because it involved lots of politics and battles and I don’t usually write that stuff in such detail! Part of what helped me get through it was the inspiration from this show, and in homage, there are names from LoGH peppered throughout the novel. Luckily the names worked because the world of Glittering Shadows is based on 1920s Germany, and one of the warring forces in LoGH is based on Imperial Germany!

This was so fun to think about, and I could go on and on…but now I feel like I need to go watch some anime and see if I can find my next inspiration!

About Jaclyn

Jaclyn Dolamore has a passion for history, vintage dresses, David Bowie, anime, drawing, and organic food. She is the author of six YA novels, including Magic Under Glass and Dark Metropolis. Her new series, starting with The Vengeful Half, also includes manga-inspired comics in the narrative. She lives with her partner and three weird cats in a Victorian house in western Maryland. 

Step Into Stride with 'Prince of Stride: Alternative'

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Prince of Stride: Alternative 

Studio: Madhouse
Producer: Media Factory
Genre: Sports
Episodes: 12
Episode Length: 24 minutes per episode

The series is about an extreme form of sport known as "Stride." It involves 6 players on a team that runs relay races in towns. The story takes place at Honan Academy where first year high school students Takeru Fujiwara and Nana Sakurai try to recruit members for their "Stride" club. They request Riku Yagami to join with the help of Takeru and Nana. Their goal is to compete and win the "End of Summer," a top competition hosted in Japan alongside other schools.


  • The art was fantastic. It was my favorite part of the show. With bright colors and more realistic looking characters, you could really see the story in HD. I can't watch animes with odd styles (it distracts me from the story and characters), so this was tailor made for me. I really loved the character design for Riku. On the other hand, Hozumi looked too much like Armin from 'Attack on Titan', and Takeru was practically Haru from 'Free!' If you're trying to prove the likeness to 'Free!', you've got it.
  • Kuga and Heath's story was intriguing. They had a lot of backstory. And I loved it. Their friendship and determination. The connection between the two. If anything, these two were 'connecting emotions', not anybody else. Throw in Hozumi's distrust and there's a hot pot of backstory.
  • I described 'Prince of Stride: Alternative' as parkour on crack. Though, it's more like free running. Free running follows a more artistic approach compared to parkour. Parkour's goal is to get around as fast as you can. That's why they have wall climbs and whatnots. It's easier than walking around the wall. This anime has all the basics of parkour or free running with double the running. It's an obstacle course really. The first episode really caught my attention with the jumps and flips the runners did. It was exhilarating. Live vicariously, you know?


  • Takeru, Nana, and Riku all knew each other. And all have connections to Stride. But act like they don't. When Nana and Riku meet in episode one, they acted like strangers, but they knew each other. I felt like the creators just threw in the promise at the end to make you feel more for the trio, but all it did was annoy me. It was a subplot that no one cared to expand on. The quick shots of fireworks on the beach meant nothing. If you're adding this in, at least give it some depth.
  • The plot revolves around the End of Summer games. If you look closely, there is a lot of time between each round. A few days would be fine, but a week or more is insane. You're giving the revived Honan Stride Club too much credit. If they were that good, they'd have practiced before. Anyways, didn't the show start at the beginning of the school year? They had more than enough time to get ready for the End of Summer games. They didn't need all the between EOS games training. I get the emotional block for Riku, but everyone else was in tip-top shape. Or did we skip the training between the beginning of the school year and EOS?
  • Nana kept saying that Stride is all about 'connecting feelings'. Can I just say that's a bunch of baloney? Stride is about stamina and skill and balance and timing and about everything but connecting feelings. I didn't know why they needed a Relationer anyways. They could have handed off batons or even just high fives each other. Why did they need the Relationer, and by default, Nana? I thought that the creators wanted a female (because all the runners are seemingly male) who didn't run because that would take away the need for Kuga or someone. So the Relationer job was born. Nana was highly useless and didn't even need to be in the anime for the show to go smoothly. If you're trying to add in a girl, do it successfully or not at all.
  • And if we're talking about useless characters, take a good, long look at Ayumu. The cheerleader. He started out as a runner, but he ended up being a cheerleader and Hozumi's bae. (And that's another parallel to Free! Gay characters. Or, at least, fanon gay characters.) He had no use. I was getting tired of seeing him. Just take him out. Geez, is that so hard?

Armada (The Paperback) Is Coming

Monday, April 25, 2016

Armada: A Novel by Ernest Cline
Broadway Books • April 12, 2016 • Price: $16.00 paperback 
384 pages • ISBN 978-0-8041-3727-0
Also available as an ebook and on audio from Penguin Random House

In 2011, writer Ernest Cline penned his wildly original, genre-busting debut novel, Ready Player One. Packed with irresistible ’80s nostalgia, this cinematic novel was immediately embraced by readers, bloggers, geeks, gamers, booksellers, and John Hughes fans everywhere. From the New York Times and Entertainment WeeklytoBoing Boing and Wired, the novel received rave reviews across the board, sold over a million copies in the U.S., and has been published in 40 countries. The book is now being made into a film by Warner Brothers and legendary director Steven Spielberg, set to debut in theaters in March of 2018.

Since Ready Player One’s publication, Cline’s fans were anxiously awaiting his next endeavor—and he delivered another inventive, heartwarming, and completely nerdtastic adventure with ARMADA (Broadway Books; April 12, 2016), his second New York Times bestseller, which is now in paperback.
ARMADA opens as high-school student Zack Lightman glances out his classroom window and spots a UFO. At first he thinks he’s going crazy. A minute later he’s sure of it, because the ship he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting Earth from alien invaders.

Zack is sure he’s lost his mind. But what he’s seeing is all too real, and his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save Earth from what’s about to befall it. Yet even as he and his new comrades scramble to prepare for the alien onslaught, Zack can’t help thinking of all the science-fiction books, TV shows, and movies he grew up reading and watching, and wonder: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little too . . . familiar?
Called a “must-read summer blockbuster novel” by Mashable and a “a thrilling coming-of-agestory” byEntertainment Weekly, ARMADA is at once an adrenaline-fueled, surprising thriller, a classic teenage adventure, and an alien-invasion tale like nothing you’ve ever read before—one whose every page is infused with Cline’s trademark pop-culture savvy. The book is already being adapted into a film by Universal Studios, with the author himself writing the screenplay.

“…a thrilling coming-of-age-story.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Ernest Cline’s follow-up to Ready Player One, proves he has the ability to blend popular culture with exciting stories that appeal to everyone...Cline’s voice for Zack makes the reader believe a high school senior with a love of video games and sci-fi television and films is narrating the story. And love of popular culture isn't necessary to enjoy this amazing novel.” —Associated Press

“Cline’s debut Ready Player One warmed the hearts of computer nerds everywhere, and similarly the newArmada mixes Star Wars, The Last Starfighter, Independence Day and a really gnarly round of Space Invaders into a tasty sci-fi stew. What really pumps some heart into the book is the coming-of-age tale at its core, a story of a young boy curious about the dad he never had…Cline creates an exciting alternate history for this world, where games, movies and TV shows — and a surprising science celebrity — play a more important part in global events than most people realize.” —USA Today

“I loved Armada. The geekery and the furiously paced plot from Ready Player One are still there, so I imagine it will please most of his existing fans. But I suspect that Armada will garner him an even larger group of fans than the formidable crew he’s already assembled...And that’s the crux of why my love for Armada runs deeply. It’s a joyous, rollicking read. But it’s also a sneaky discussion on xenophobia, miscommunication and what real courage is.” —Boing Boing
“Built like a summer blockbuster…Cline recombines the DNA of Ender’s GameStar WarsThe Last Starfighter, and old-school arcade games like Asteroids into something that’s both familiar and unpredictable. It’s a mutant homage to sci-fi tropes past.” —Gawker


ERNEST CLINE is a novelist, screenwriter, father, and full-time geek. His two novels, Armada and Ready Player One, were both New York Times and USA Today bestsellers, and Ready Player One is currently being adapted into a film by Warner Brothers and director Steven Spielberg. Ernest lives in Austin, Texas, with his family, a time-traveling DeLorean, and a large collection of classic videogames. You can find him online, on Twitter @erniecline, and on Facebook at Ernest Cline.


Armada Giveaway blog tour giveaway to include a signed READY PLAYER ONE poster, a signed ARMADA poster  AND a copy of ARMADA in paperback! 

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Get You Into Haikyuu!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Get You Into Haikyuu!

Wren from The Litaku (aka me!) and Em from Piplup’s Shadowy Bookshelf are hosting a watchalong of Haikyuu! season one!

Who: Wren from The Litaku and Em from Piplup’s Shadowy Bookshelf

What: A watchalong of the first season of Haikyuu!

When: April 24-30 (April 24 is the day of the sports-themed Bookish Anime People chat at 8 pm EST! Use the hashtag #BookishAnimePeopleChat to join!)

Where: Wherever you watch anime and Twitter

We’ll be using the hashtag #GYIH (which stands for Get You Into Haikyuu!) throughout the week to update you on our progress with the show! We encourage you to use the hashtag too, to tell us your thoughts (and feels, ESPECIALLY THE FEELS) as you watch!

There will also be a recap chat on May 1 at 9 pm EST. To join, we'll be using the hashtag #GYIH, so come chat with us!

What is Haikyuu! about, you may ask? Haikyuu! is about Hinata Shoyou who is inspired to restart the volleyball club at his middle school after watching the “Little Giant,” a high school volleyball ace, who is of a similar small-stature as Hinata. However, when Hinata gets to the tournament, they get wrecked in their first game which was against Kageyama Tobio, nicknamed “King of the Court.” Hinata swears to overcome him, only to find that his rival is now his teammate when they both join Karasuno High School’s volleyball team. Kageyama and Hinata must work together in order for the team to be successful despite their rivalry to constantly up the other. Haikyuu! is based on Haruichi Furudate’s manga, and follows an exciting sports story of two unlikely friends trying to make their volleyball team the best in Japan. (As said by Em.)

Will you be joining us? Comment below!

Cheating and Abandonment: A Gathering of Shadows fan theory

Friday, April 22, 2016

Alucard did something to Rhy. It's implied. Kell threatens Alucard and tells him not to hurt Rhy again. 
So what did Alucard do?
I have a few theories.

1) Cheating
This is the most likely option. After all, there is a lot of charged tension between Lila and Alucard. (Which I totally ship, by the way.) Alucard is such a playboy; it's highly likely that he cheated on Rhy. Probably for some pretty boy. I'm kidding. Alucard probably could worm his way out of the situation. Never said he wasn't cunning.
Hold up. Let's just imagine the consoling scene with Kell quietly patting his brother's back. Aw man. That calls for a fan fic, doesn't it?

2) Abandonment
This is also possible. Alucard is a seafaring man, after all. He could have jumped ship. Literally. You never know with pirates. They come and go. (I'm making a subtle The Girl From Everywhere reference here.) 

3) Birth Right Problems
Alucard is a lord. And Rhy is a prince. Doesn't that end up disastrous? I have a feeling that Alucard had to tell the truth and leave Rhy because it will never be.

4) Someone Found Out
For all you know, being gay in Red London is illegal. Even though I doubt it. (Not that it's mentioned or anything.) Someone could have found out, and Alucard, being the kind soul he is, could have had to break it off with Rhy
Because that's a great message to send to your kids...

What do you think? Why did Alucard break Rhy's heart? And what will happen next? 

The Anime and Manga Fantasy Readers Would Love: A Guest Post

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Anime and Manga Fantasy Readers Would Love: A Guest Post

Today, I have Amy McNulty on my blog to talk about anime and manga fantasy readers would love. Check it out!

Fantasy is my favorite genre to write. There’s something romantic about setting stories in magical places with shades of medieval- or Renaissance-era cultures from around the globe. Quests become more epic, characters go through greater hardships, and magic spells and creatures are often part of the picture. As a fan of fantasy stories in literature, in film and on TV, as well as a long-time anime and manga devotee, it’s a given that the fantasy genre makes up some of my favorite anime and manga series. Whether you’re new to anime or you’ve watched a number of shows in the past, check out these series if you count fantasy as one of your favorite book genres.

Fushigi Yuugi
A teenage girl and her best friend open up a book and are transported into a medieval Chinese-inspired kingdom ruled by four great gods with the powers to grant wishes. It sounds like a book lover’s dream, and it would be, if poor Yuuki Miaka didn’t have to deal with so much hardship on her quest to become the Priestess of Suzaku and get three wishes to end a pending war. To gather the seven Celestial Warriors necessary to summon a god, Miaka must scour the country and face obstacles at every path in the form of enemies from another nation trying to summon the god Seiryuu first—people who’ve, unbeknownst to Miaka, taken her best friend Hongo Yui to become their priestess. Even when Miaka seems about to succeed, it’s really just the start of Miaka’s hardships. There’s also a romance between Miaka and one of her Celestial Warriors (as well as some one-sided angst from other men interested in her), but it’s the dissolving friendship between Miaka and Yui that provides the series with so much emotional turmoil.

Fullmetal Alchemist
Fantasy with a steampunk flair based on the Edwardian period of Europe, Fullmetal Alchemist is a story of magic and its tragic consequences. Abandoned by their father and raised by a loving mother, young brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric break the ultimate alchemy taboo when they attempt to resurrect their mother after she dies. They don’t succeed, and instead, Edward loses both an arm and a leg and Al loses his entire body, although Edward just manages to seal Al’s soul into a nearby suit of armor. Now the two travel the world to unlock the ultimate alchemy secret and figure out how to get Al back into his body, but there’s so much more to the world’s magic than they ever dreamed possible. There’s not one but two versions of the anime to enjoy, as one aired long before the manga ended and the other much more closely adapts the manga’s ending. Fans debate which is better, but I’m actually quite a devotee of both.


Often gory and at one point disturbingly full of sexual violence not appropriate for youngsters, Berserk is nonetheless one of my favorite fantasy anime, even though only one large arc has ever been adapted (twice—once as a TV series and once as a series of films). I haven’t read the manga that’s mostly set after the events of the anime, although I hear that’s great, too. The anime, set in a medieval Europe-style setting, is about a wandering solo mercenary, Guts, who finds himself joining a mercenary group, the Band of the Hawk, despite his solitary inclinations. However, he, like the other Band of the Hawk members, is won over by the group’s charismatic leader, Griffith, a man with a dream to rule his own kingdom one day. Guts goes on many adventures with the group, often itching to go out on his own but he’s always pulled back in by the strong bond he feels with Griffith, who has a dark connection to evil forces. The anime story comes to a head when a disastrous sequence of events puts the two on opposing sides of a catastrophic battle.

Attack on Titan
Few anime fans haven’t heard of Attack on Titan, and with the sense of ever-present danger and post-apocalyptic mood even despite the vaguely medieval European-ish setting, it often has more in common with The Walking Dead than traditional fantasy. However, the fantasy setting is part of the show’s appeal. The last of humanity lives inside one large country broken up and protected via three humongous walls. It’s been about a hundred years since humans last saw the titans—giant, deformed people who destroyed most of the world’s population and drove the remainder into hiding. At the start of the series, the outermost wall is breached as the titans attack again. This inspires three young friends, Eren Yeager, Mikasa Ackerman and Armin Arlert, to join the Survey Corps, the military branch that vows to take the titans down once and for all.

These are far from the only fantasy anime and manga out there, and many series cross genres but still feel as epic and magical as the more typical fantasy fare. My honorable mentions include Slayers, The Heroic Legend of Arslan, The Vision of Escaflowne, and Record of Lodoss War. What are your favorite fantasy series? Comment below!

About Amy McNulty

Bio: The author of YA fantasy books The Never Veil Series (NOBODY’S GODDESS, NOBODY’S LADY, NOBODY’S PAWN [2017]) and FALL FAR FROM THE TREE, Amy McNulty is a freelance writer and editor who reviews anime for Anime News Network. In her down time, you can find her crafting stories with dastardly villains and antiheroes set in fantastical medieval settings.

Introducing the Crystal Crowned Cover!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Crystal Crowned Synopsis

Long live Solaris.
One bloodthirsty ruler has been overthrown by another, casting the shadow of death over the Solaris Empire. Vhalla Yarl stands upon the stage of fate, prepared to do battle one final time. Fragile alliances will be tested and new bonds will be formed as the world is reshaped. She fights as the champion of peace, but when the night is darkest will she be able to pay the price of a new dawn?
Release Date: July 12, 2016

Drum roll please...

The art was done by Merilliza Chan (Deviant Art: MerillizaArt, Twitter: @zwxArt)

About the Author

View More: Kova has always had a passion for storytelling. She wrote her first novella, a high-fantasy, in sixth grade. Over the years she’s honed her love of literature with everything from fantasy to romance, science fiction to mystery, and whatever else catches her eye.
Elise lives in Saint Petersburg, Florida, where she’s currently working on the next installment in her debut YA fantasy series: Air Awakens. She enjoys video games, anime, table-top role playing games, and many other forms of “geekdom.” She loves talking with fans on Twitter (@EliseKova) and Facebook.

My Social Media:

Buy the other books!

Air Awakens

Fire Falling

Earth's End

Water's Wrath (Preorder)

And there's a giveaway!