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Manga Review: Sakura Hime: The Legend of Princess Sakura Vol. 12

Arina Tanemura is a popular shojo mangaka, and one of her works is Sakura Hime, a magical shojo story that puts a twist on a famous Japanese legend. The final volume (Volume 12) has recently been released, and you can read on for the review. (For those who are interested, you can click here for my reviews of earlier volumes).

The story centers on Sakura, the granddaughter of the Moon princess Kaguya. As her descendent, Sakura wields the power to defeat Youko, monsters from the Moon, but Sakura’s Moon heritage also means she’s predisposed to becoming a Youko herself…

Back Cover Blurb

Sakura, grieving for all her friends who have died, returns to Aoba’s estate. Enju attacks, and Sakura loses two more people she loves. And just when she believes the battle to finally be over, Princess Kaguya appears!

The Review

Enju’s down to just one minion who happens to be a double agent. As if to even out the odds, Tanemura-sensei gradually whittles down Team Sakura, which is already reeling from Asagiri’s death. I was surprised at Rurijo’s abrupt end. I’d thought the Rurijo/Hayate/Kohaku triangle would get prolonged further. Not to mention, the way Enju coldly doomed Rurijo in Volume 11 was inconsistent with his reaction to Rurijo’s demise as well as his own last words. The scene leading up to the attack on Oura is much better, however, and certain to please the romantics in the crowd.

Having reduced the fight to a one-on-one between Sakura and Enju, Tanemura-sensei just as quickly returns all of Sakura’s allies for the final brawl against the resurrected Princess Kaguya. It’s ridiculously convenient how everyone shows up at once, especially Yuri and Maimai, who pop up out of nowhere. (Perhaps Tanemura-sensei felt everyone needed a cameo?). That battle, however, is less about action and more about tying up loose ends. Enju’s turnaround from ruthless enemy to gentle brother is too abrupt for my liking. In addition, the undoing of Oura’s curse and the supposed deal struck between Enju and Asagiri are rather confusing. However, Tanemura-sensei makes up for it with an intriguing revelation about Byakuya and the purpose behind Chizakura. Apparently, the old priestess was more deeply involved in the situation than anyone could have guessed.

Not surprisingly, everything resolves to a happy end. Everyone, living and dead, ends up with their love (with the exception of the three ninjas – I guess Tanemura-sensei’s leaving that triangle up to readers’ imaginations.) Certain details (such as how Asagiri and company could help Sakura escape Chizakura when they couldn’t leave themselves) are glossed over, but if all you care about is Oura/Sakura mushiness, you should be content with the conclusion.

Extras in Volume 12 include embedded author’s notes and a closing remark from Tanemura-sensei.

In Summary

Enju succeeds in resurrecting Princess Kaguya, and Sakura takes her on with all her allies. (And when I mean all her allies, I mean all.) The Sakura/Enju conflict and Oura’s curse both get resolved too easily, but the final battle includes some big surprises before working its way to a fluffy happy ending.

First published at the Fandom Post.

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Whispering Minds Release and Goodreads Book Giveaway

It’s always exciting when someone you know gets published. So I’m thrilled to share that an old critique partner, is making her debut on November 1 with Whispering Minds, a YA thriller. Here’s the cover blurb:

By day, a terrifying blackness eats at Gemini Baker’s memories. Her nights are filled with unsettling dreams.

After the death of her beloved granny, seventeen-year-old Gemi is left with parents more interested in gambling than paying the bills, a best guy friend who’s looking for love at a time when she has none to give and a dark childhood secret that just might be the key to her sucky life.

During her search for answers, Gemi turns to her cyber friends for support and quickly learns that nobody is who they seem. Not her granny, her friends or even herself. As her blackouts increase in frequency, a threat on her life has Gemi on the run…if only she can remember long enough to keep herself alive.

The book will be available on Amazon, and she’s also hosting giveaways on her blog and Goodreads, so check it out!

Write On Con 2013 underway!

Write On Con is back!

If you’ve wanted to go to a conference and connect with writers, editors, and agents, but you don’t have the money or the time to travel to distant locations, Write On Con is for you! It’s FREE! You’ve nothing to lose!

It takes place today and tomorrow, August 13-14, 2013. There are forums where you can get peer reviews of queries, synopses, and manuscript openers. And there are contests and NINJA AGENTS, too! So check it out!

The Next Big Thing (Week 22)

In a few days, I’ll continue my Japan pop tour with posts on maid and butler cafes, but right now here’s something a little different…

Today I’m part of a blog tag of writers talking about their work in progress (WIP). Last week, I got tagged by my awesome crit partner Alexandra Tys O’Connor. This week I pass the baton to a few other writer friends. All are wonderfully talented and one has just released her first novel! They will blog about Their Next Big Things on November 7, but for now, here’s the scoop about mine.

1- What is the working title of your book? Cynisca and the Olive Crown.

2- Where did the idea come from for the book? I was researching the ancient Olympics for an entirely different story, and I discovered Cynisca, an actual Greek princess involved in the Olympics. There’s not much information about her, but the facts I had were intriguing enough that I shelved the other project to work on her.

3- What genre does your book fall under? YA historical

4- Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? Uhhh… dunno. Despite living in LA, I actually don’t watch a lot of American TV or movies. (Blame Japanese anime and Korean dramas).

5- What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? A Spartan princess seeks to prove herself by challenging a political adversary in the Olympic chariot race.

6- Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I have zero instinct for marketing. Meaning that I’m going the traditional route and am on the quest for an agency.

7- How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? I tend to revise chapters as I go so it took about a year.

8- What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? Shecter’s Cleopatra’s Moon. Both have grand ancient civilizations for settings and relatively unknown and unusual princesses as main characters.

9- Who or What inspired you to write this book? I have a soft spot for ancient Greek history. That and the answer to Question 2 above.

10- What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? A lame Spartan king (yes, there was one!), ancient Sparta beyond the armor and spears, royal scandal, sport rivalries, and horses, lots of horses.

Thanks so much for dropping by! Next up (Week 23) are some of my very talented writer friends. Check out their blogs next Wednesday when it’s their turn to post answers to these same questions about their own works-in-progress!

Riley Redgate

Stacy Stokes

Carrie Arcos (whose debut novel Out of Reach has just been released!)

Write On Con, a free online writer’s conference!

I feel like I’m caught in the rush of back to back writer’s conferences because, well, I am. In the madness of getting ready for LA SCBWI, I completely forgot about Write On Con until I saw the posts announcing it at the AQC forum.

So if you’ve wanted to go to a conference and connect with kidlit writers, editors, and agents, but you don’t have the money or the time to travel to distant locations, Write On Con is for you! It takes place Tuesday–Wednesday, August 14–15, 2012, and the forums are already buzzing with peer reviews of queries, synopses, and manuscript openers. And there are contests and NINJA AGENTS, too! So check it out!

Amazing Giveaway: Free Pass to the 2012 San Francisco Writers Conference

For those who have always wanted to attend a writer’s conference but have trouble footing (or justifying) the entry fee, there’s an amazing opportunity right now over at writersdigest.com!

Writer’s Digest has 1 free pass to give away to a random commenter for a full registration pass at the 2012 San Francisco Writers Conference (Feb. 16-19, 2012). To enter, you will need to comment on Chuck Sambuchino’s post, and spread the news a bit via social media. So if you’ve some way of getting over to San Francisco that weekend, go enter! The deadline is Friday, Feb. 10!