Manga Review of Beastars: Vol 1

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Series: Beastars: Vol 1

US Publisher: VIZ Media

Tatsuya Matsuki (Author), Shiro Usazaki (Illustrator)

Genre: Fantasy/Drama

Rating: 4/5

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Description:

One night at Cherryton Academy, an herbivore student is brutally murdered. Among the members of the Drama Club, the herbivores’ suspicions naturally turn to their carnivore classmates… The prime suspect? Gray wolf Legoshi. But he wouldn’t hurt a fly. Or would he? Will dwarf rabbit Haru bring out the beast in him? Or are his feelings for her…something else?

*received an ARC from VIZ via Netgalley for an honest review*

I found this series to be quite original in that there aren’t many manga that focus on animal characters, or at least that are big in America yet. I know the furry community is excited for this and BNA to be on Netflix and have more of a following. I think this series stands out because it has both carnivores and herbivores in the same school and discusses what sort of incidents might be involved.

This manga starts out with the murder of an herbivore and everyone believes it to be one of the carnivore students, which causes much distrust. The mystery isn’t solved in the first volume, of course, but we start to learn about the main character Legoshi and how he is going through wanting to be kind and having beast instincts.

I am interested to find out who the murderer was and what will happen next with Haru. We are barely introduced to her before the end of the volume, although I know some things that happen next from watching the anime.

The only problem I had with the manga was that the art wasn’t something I enjoyed. I liked the art in the anime, but this art was a little too freeform, if that is the right word, and I can’t quite concentrate or understand what all is going on. That is my personal opinion, and I am not saying the art is bad. It just isn’t a style I enjoy and I know a lot of people do.

All in all, if you like mystery and animals, I say give it a shot!

~Dani

Manga Review of Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku Vol 1-3

Series: Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku Vol 1 – 3

US Publisher: VIZ Media

Mangaka: Yuji Kaku

Genre: Historical Fiction/Horror

Rating: Volume 1: 5/5; Volume 2: 4/5; Volume 3: 4/5

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Description:

Gabimaru the Hollow is one of the most vicious assassins ever to come out of the ninja village of Iwagakure. He’s ruthlessly efficient, but a betrayal results in him being handed a death sentence. He has only one hope—in order to earn his freedom, he must travel to a long-hidden island and recover an elixir that will make the shogun immortal. Failure is not an option. On this island, heaven and hell are just a hair’s breadth away.

Vol 1:

Volume 1 does a great job of introducing Gabimaru and his job as an assassin and how he keeps using his powers to evade death. After being interviewed by Sagari of the Yamada clan, it is determined that he will be given a pardon and can live his live with his wife in safety. It seems like a good deal, but there is definitely more than meets the eye on this deal.

Gabimaru and Sagari are very interesting characters that we learn about through the first volume. It is definitely rated mature and has a lot of violence and nudity throughout the book. The art is very detailed and well done. I found the story for the first book to be quite interesting and am looking forward in learning more.

Vol 2:

In this volume we learn more about the main characters Gabimaru and Sagari and what they have been through to become the killers that they are. After we are introduced to the other murderers and guards that will be going to the island, I started to lose track of who was who and what exactly was going on. While I liked the idea of the paradise plants and bugs taking over bodies and the mystery of what is going on, I was losing track of who’s backstory we were seeing flashbacks for and who was alive or dead.

Vol 3:

*received an ARC from VIZ via Netgalley for an honest review*

In the third volume, we learn more about the paradise and what is going on with the plants and insects. Like volume 2, I was confused who’s backstory we were learning about. We do learn more about Sagari and her strengths and weaknesses. I feel she is a believable character in the world this mangaka has created. If you like horror, I definitely recommend as the art is quite spectacular and the characters are interesting. Although it is a little confusing, it is still really interesting and I am curious as to what will happen next.

~Dani

Book Review of Zon by Maureen A. Miller

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Title: Zon (Beyond #5)

Author: Maureen A. Miller

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

Review by: Dani Hoots

Rating: 4/5

Amazon: https://amzn.to/34UCfAE

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/zon-maureen-a-miller/1136887607

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/zon-5

iBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/zon/id1509072890

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1016392

Back cover:

From USA TODAY bestselling author, Maureen A. Miller, comes this young adult cosmic adventure.

With a father from the planet, Ziratak, and a mother from Earth, Zon’s challenges are galactic. Zon doesn’t possess superpowers, though. If anything, he’s a bit of a klutz.

In Ziratakian folklore, the tale of the Temple of the Monarch has been passed down for generations. As legend has it, a series of miniature globes lead to the temple’s gate.

Folklore…nothing more.

Except, Zon knows of a cave with small globes in it. And with one clumsy mishap, he triggers the gate–opening a portal to other worlds.

A trip through this vortex transports him to Earth, where the first human he encounters is a young woman with challenges of her own.

This is a brand new saga, and a new generation. There is no need to read the BEYOND series. However, for readers of the series, you will enjoy this continuation of the epic science fiction adventure.

*I received a copy from YA Bound Book Tours for my honest opinion*

This was a nice lighthearted YA Sci-Fi novel that is quick to read. I read it all in one sitting and found it to be delightful. It follows Zon as he is transported to Earth and becomes friends with a human girl who he later must save. At the same time, he is supposed to be practicing and getting ready for a big test that is coming up. Will Zon pass this test or will he sacrifice it to help his new friend?

I haven’t read the rest of the series, which is more about Zon’s mother and father, but I wasn’t confused at all. This definitely can be read as a standalone. The only problem I had with it was that I felt it could use more description and sometimes I was confused as to where exactly he was until another character came into the picture.

All in all, this was a nice read for those who like light-hearted YA Sci-Fi. If you need something to read on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I definitely recommend this book!

~Dani

Enter the Giveaway below to win a $10 gift card to Amazon!:

 

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About the Author

USA TODAY bestselling author, Maureen A. Miller worked in the software industry for fifteen years. She crawled around plant floors in a hard hat and safety glasses hooking up computers to behemoth manufacturing machines. The job required extensive travel. The best form of escapism during those lengthy airport layovers became writing.

Maureen’s first novel, WIDOW’S TALE, earned her a Golden Heart nomination in Romantic Suspense. After that she became hooked to the genre. In fact, she was so hooked she is the founder of the JUST ROMANTIC SUSPENSE website.

Recently, Maureen branched out into the Young Adult Science Fiction market with the popular BEYOND Series. To her it was still Romantic Suspense…just on another planet!

Find more about Maureen at http://www.maureenamiller.com

Blog Tour Organized By:

YA Bound Book Tours

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Comic Review of Plume

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Series: Plume

Written and Illustrated by: K. Lynn Smith

Rating: 5/5

Buy Here

Description:

Plume is a story set in the Old West about a girl named Vesper Grey and her supernatural companion, Corrick. On their quest to recover her father’s life work, they encounter new friends and new foes, and learn that the Wild West is anything but tame.

K. Lynn Smith is one of my favorite artist, so I had to splurge and get the omnibus for her series PLUME and it did not disappoint. This was a great mix of fantasy, adventure, and mystery that is set in the past during the Wild West. Who could want more than that?

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I really enjoyed the story and characters Smith created. They all felt believable and one could understand their motives for what they did. There were a lot of twists and turns and I was surprised much of the time. If you enjoy Indiana Jones or Trigun, you will definitely enjoy this series!

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K. Lynn Smith has a Patreon so if you want to follow her work and support her, please check it out by clicking here! I am excited for her new series and will give my review of the first graphic novel collection soon.

~Dani

Comic Review of Fangs

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Series: Fangs

Written and Illustrated by: Sarah Andersen

 

Rating: 5/5

Read on Tapas

Buy the Hardcover Here

Description:

A love story between a vampire and a werewolf by the creator of the enormously popular Sarah’s Scribbles comics.

Vamp is three hundred years old but in all that time, she has never met her match. This all changes one night in a bar when she meets a charming werewolf. FANGS chronicles the humor, sweetness, and awkwardness of meeting someone perfectly suited to you but also vastly different.

*I received an ARC through Netgalley for my honest opinion*

I have been a big fan of FANGS since it first came out on Tapas. I love vampires, and sometimes werewolves, and this lighthearted comic did not disappoint. It is about a vampire and werewolf who fall in love and have to deal with situations that they might not be accustomed to. It is funny and sweet and I can’t get enough of it.

Some of the conversations these two have are perfect. It is totally something that would happen if a gothic vampire girl and a down-to-earth werewolf. I really like how the werewolf is more of a nature-loving dude instead of a buff, alpha-male type. I felt it would be more real, if werewolves did exist.

I also love how the vampire is portrayed as well. I love vampire and feel this could be me if I was indeed undead (lol). She is consistent in how she acts and follows a lot of the general vampire rules (no sunlight, garlic, etc.).

The hardcover version is definitely something I am going to preorder. The ARC had more panels than tapas and some of them were quite funny and I want to support this clever and amazing artist. I definitely recommend her work and hope you check it out and enjoy!

~Dani

Book Review of Zero by Tom Leveen

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Title: Zero

Author: Tom Leveen

Review by: Dani Hoots

Rating: 5/5

BACK THE KICKSTARTER HERE

Back cover:

After missing her best opportunity to attend a prestigious art school, 17-year-old Salvador Dali devotee Amanda Walsh (nicknamed Zero) begins dating Mike, a drummer in an up-and-coming punk band. As their tentative relationship blooms, Zero confronts a ton of baggage holding her back from her art career: the majorly awkward drama with her former best friend, Jenn; her dad’s excessive drinking and parents’ ongoing fights; and one formerly successful art teacher who might just hold the keys to her future . . . or smash Z’s hopes forever.

When Mike’s band gets a chance of lifetime to bust out of the black hole that is metro Phoenix, Zero must make a life-altering decision and answer the one question we all face at some point in our lives:

Follow your heart, or the heart of the one you love?

ZERO is a completed, award-winning young adult novel originally published by Random House Children’s Books in 2012.

Review:

I could not put this book down! I read it all in one sitting as I kept having to turn the page to know what happens next. Tom does a great job creating a voice that anyone can connect to. I felt for Zero and everything she went through, whether I had gone through the same things or not (of which some I have…).

Zero is an artist, and as any artist knows (whether they paint, draw, write, perform, etc) you want to succeed and create the things you love, but can those two things be the same thing? You can create what you love, but will anyone want it? That is a question Zero has to face, at the same time she is 17 and going through changes, new love, friendship problems, home problems, and not getting the scholarship she wanted. So much is going on in Zero’s life that you really feel for her and connect to the times when the whole world changed for you, whether you wanted it to or not.

I recommend this to anyone who loves YA and coming of age stories. It is something we all can connect to. It is set in ’92, which is the best year if we are honest. 90s were great. I miss the 90s…

Check out below about the Kickstarter Tom Leveen is doing for his book! I highly recommend backing and making this story and even bigger success! There will be notes, afterwards, and some other awesome perks! If we can reach the extended goals, we will know exactly what happens after the last page. Who doesn’t want that from a book they love? I know I want it, so go back it for me!

FROM KICKSTARTER PAGE:

Story

Where were you in ’92?

The Cold War was over! WE WON! The Berlin Wall had fallen, and David Hasselhoff was really lit about that! (Anyone? Anyone? Lit? The lightbulb jacket…?) Glam rock was dead, flannels suddenly cost $90, punk rock was transforming right before our eyes.

It was the best of times to be 17. As much as being 17 can be the best of times…

ZERO is a completed, award-winning young adult novel originally published by Random House Children’s Books in 2012. I recently got the rights to this story returned to me, and because of its fan base, I want to re-release it with never-before-seen notes, annotations, and an afterword. And maybe more…

This campaign will also introduce new readers to the snarky, sympathetic struggles of a young artist navigating the turmoil of love and art!

 

BACK THIS KICKSTARTER BY CLICKING HERE

 

“This book will appeal to teens who enjoy romance with a bit of an edge.” ~ Voice Of Youth Advocates, Feb. 2012

ZERO is about a young artist and a young musician, high on their arts, each other, and nothing else. It’s the thrill of a first kiss, the anxiety of putting yourself out there, and all the excitement of being this age at this time — whether you were there or not.

The original hardcover jacket.

After missing her best opportunity to attend a prestigious art school, 17-year-old Salvador Dali devotee Amanda Walsh (nicknamed Zero) begins dating Mike, a drummer in an up-and-coming punk band. As their tentative relationship blooms, Zero confronts a ton of baggage holding her back from her art career: the majorly awkward drama with her former best friend, Jenn; her dad’s excessive drinking and parents’ ongoing fights; and one formerly successful art teacher who might just hold the keys to her future . . . or smash Z’s hopes forever.

When Mike’s band gets a chance of lifetime to bust out of the black hole that is metro Phoenix, Zero must make a life-altering decision and answer the one question we all face at some point in our lives:

Follow your heart, or the heart of the one you love?

“I don’t know how Tom Leveen did it, but ZERO (the book and the character) feels 100% authentic.” ~ Goodreads review

“Amanda’s snappy, consistent voice displays the tension between her conviction that she’s got what it takes to be an artist and her feelings of low self-worth. Artful.” Kirkus Reviews, April 24, 2012
What makes ZERO so special is its brutal authenticity. It perfectly captures the energy and fear and excitement and dread of being freshly graduated and experiencing what seems to be your life falling apart, whether that’s between you and your parents, or your best friend, or the boy or girl you really want to date. It doesn’t shy away from the complexity of sex and love or art and business. The book deals with these topics with a smile and a sigh, because Zero (the novel) knows you are not alone, which is one of the things Zero (the character) is still learning.

 

BACK THIS KICKSTARTER BY CLICKING HERE

I’m bringing this second edition of Zero to Kickstarter because I have learned from nine books and ten years that Story is best in community. In fact it can only exist in community. There are people I’ve met by chance as a result of my novels who I now consider good friends. Some of them I’ve never met in person, some I see frequently, but the depth of the community that has organically developed around my novels and stories is what keeps me going, and I want to share that with more people, just like I know my fans want to share with others, too.

Zero is a note; a reminder that while we are constantly faced with hard choices (particularly when we are young), it’s going to work out. It’s going to be okay.Its a note that says you’re not alone; to follow your instincts and believe that anything is possible. I don’t know about you, but I need that reminder constantly.

So let’s ramp up that good karma! Everyone who pledges above the first level will receive an e-book of the second edition, and everyone will receive a mention and Thank You in the new edition’s Acknowledgements.

Thank you so much for your encouragement, whether you’re a new reader or an old fan ready for more about Zero, Mike, and the band. 

Share your art!

BACK THIS KICKSTARTER BY CLICKING HERE

 

~Dani

 

 

Book Review of More Than Alive by Fernando Torres

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Title: More Than Alive

Author: Fernando Torres

Review by: Dani Hoots

Genre: YA Sci-fi/Fantasy

Release Date: June 22nd 2020

Rating: 4/5

Buy Here

Back cover:

MORE THAN ALIVE: Death of an Idol, is a literary response to the growing interest in anime, manga, and Japanese culture. Told via alternating storylines MORE THAN ALIVE is a fast-paced, laugh-out-loud, sci-fi/paranormal novel set in Japan in the year 2042. Complete at 103,000 words, it takes advantage of my experiences living in Kyoto and lessons acquired concerning story and character development while working at ABC/Disney.

Alice Suzuki (16) has recently passed away, making her eligible to be a harvester, a transporter of souls. For her first thread, she finds herself investigating the death of Akari, a Japanese idol who died playing a VR game while on enhancer, a drug that turns off the suspension of disbelief. Unfortunately, the shadow demon Solak, who was formerly constrained to killing people in their dreams, has learned that enhancer allows him to get around the limitations imposed by free will. Alice must join the Japanese idol group, of which Akari was a member. Her journey is one of learning the true nature of attachment, particularly in regards to love.

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*I received an ARC from YA Bound Tours for my unbiased opinion*

The concept of More Than Alive was quite interesting. It mixed futuristic elements with fantasy having to do with grim reapers (although he doesn’t like to be called that), mystery, yakuza, and pop idols. Having read and watched a lot of Japanese manga and anime with similar themes, I didn’t hesitate to join this blog tour to see what it would be like to have those themes all wrapped together. I really felt it was original and an interesting concept and really liked the characters. It was full of suspense and I kept wanting to read more to know what happens.

One of the things I disliked about this book was the POV. It moved around from POV, sort of like omniscient POV, but not quite. It jumped around character too often and I didn’t feel grounded in any POV. It made me confused a lot of the time, but the story was still interesting enough where I kept on reading. I think this story would have done better if it didn’t switch, but that is my personal preference.

I also really liked the glossary in the back and now want to know why the author can’t open soy packets around shoji.

~Dani

 

About the Author

Fernando Torres is the best-selling author of “A Habit of Resistance,” “The Shadow That Endures,” and the soon to be released sci-fi novel “More Than Alive: Death of an Idol.” Fast-paced, humorous stories that poke fun at genre tropes and explore moral dilemmas are what define this author’s mission. Early in his media career, Fernando A. Torres created the definitive definition of media interactivity. At ABC/Disney, Inc., he worked behind the scenes on such shows as Boy Meets World, Family Matters, Grace Under Fire, Home Improvement, My Wife and Kids, and the Power Rangers. Influenced by many of his generation’s most talented writers and producers, Fernando Torres’ style developed a light, humorous edge that continues to influence his writing to this day. During his time at ABC/Disney, Inc., he contributed to the Writer’s Development program, which inspired additional contributions in education. Many of his stories are inspired by his travels, though he has more permanent roots in the United States and Japan. An instrument-rated pilot, he also enjoys writing music and photography.

“I write because the written word is a powerful ally in conveying truth.” – Fernando Torres

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Blog Tour Organized By: YA Bound Book Tours

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Book Review of Join or Die by J. Adrian Ruth

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Title: Join or Die

Series: Heir to the Scion

Author: J. Adrian Ruth

Review by: Dani Hoots

Rating: 5/5

Amazon

Back cover:

A group of outcasts, struggling to survive in a school filled with monsters.

An average kid, growing up in Las Vegas, Alex Ayers life skids off the rails when a dragon shifter comes for him. Alex is a Creature, monsters from myths and legends. And he’s in line to lead all the Creatures in the world, if he doesn’t get killed first.

Now forced to attend a school filled with every horror he’s ever imagined, Alex draws together a group of friends to become his own mini-army.

A depressed vampire facing an identity crisis.

A class gossip with white hair and a frosty outlook.

A werewolf who plays with magic.

A Valkyrie straining against her berserker’s rage.

Can Alex keep his friends safe, fight for his own life, and catch a killer, all while keeping his grades up? And what will his future hold, as he begins his change into a Creature he knows nothing about?

*I received this book from Netgalley for my honest review*

This is a really cool mixture of Rosario+Vampire and Harry Potter. Alex’s life is thrown for a loop when he finds out he is halfbreed—half human, half creature. I won’t spoil what he is, as that is a big mystery he has to discover, but it is a really cool twist. He is mad his father left him and never told him the truth, and that resentment plays a big part on what he need to do to accept his fate.

I liked the other characters as well, especially Elvey, the half vampire-half elf roommate. That is, actually, one of my favorite mixtures and one that I think would be cool to read more about. Both a creature of life and death—a cool dynamic that hasn’t been touched on. I also like Yoshi and how he is a Japanese creature. The author did a great job of mixing a few different creature myths from different parts of the world.

All in all, if you like Percy Jackson or Harry Potter or Rosario+Vampire, I think you will like this series! The story is a little on the shorter side, but to me that is nice as it is a relaxing read.

~Dani

Book Review of Girl on the Run by Abigail Johnson

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Title: Girl on the Run

Author: Abigail Johnson

Review by: Dani Hoots

Rating: 5/5

Release date: 10/6/20

PREORDER HERE

Back cover:

A fast-paced original paperback thriller about a girl who discovers that her mother might not be who she says she is . . . and now someone is hunting them both.

Katelyn wants the best for her widowed mom. Surprising her with an online dating profile seems like a good idea.

It isn’t. Katelyn’s mom hasn’t just been acting overprotective all these years–she’s been hiding something. And now that anyone can find them online , Katelyn is in a desperate race against time to uncover the secrets of the past–not only her mom’s, but also her own.

As Katelyn’s world unravels, she begins to trust the guy who brought this nightmare to her door and to doubt the one person she never thought she would. Because her mom has been hiding for a reason: she’s been waiting.

Underlined is a line of totally addictive romance, thriller, and horror paperback original titles coming to you fast and furious each month. Enjoy everything you want to read the way you want to read it.

*I received an ARC for my honest opinion*

This novel had me hooked from beginning to end! From chapter one, we are on the run and we don’t stop until the end. Everything is fast-paced and you can feel the adrenaline dripping from the page. This novel is filled with suspense, mystery, heartache, and you can’t put it down! The pacing was perfect and information was given to the character and reader in a believable amount and at a believable time frame. Johnson does a great job of showing us the emotions and action instead of telling. No wording felt awkward and the series of events flowed naturally together.

The characters were very believable as well. You get the right info about them at the right times to make you wonder what is really going on. I loved the mystery behind it and how our main character had to figure out what really happened. Katelyn was a believable teen going through this madness and her actions never felt contradictory. While reading, I could tell Johnson did a lot of research to make this story unique and believable, which is something I really like in a book.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves YA or thrillers. You won’t be disappointed!

~Dani

 

If you preorder from Changing Hands, you can get a preorder special! For details, CLICK HERE.

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Book Review of Shinto: The Kami Way by Dr. Sokyo Ono

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Title: Shinto: The Kami Way

Author: Dr. Sokyo Ono

In collaboration: William P. Woodard

Review by: Dani Hoots

Rating: 5/5

Buy Here

Back cover:

Shinto, the indigenous faith of the Japanese people, continues to fascinate and mystify both the casual visitor to Japan and the long-time resident. Relatively unknown among the religions of the world, Shinto: The Kami Way provides an enlightening window into this Japanese faith.

In its general aspects, Shinto is more than a religious faith. It is an amalgam of attitudes, ideas, and ways of doing things that through two millennia and more have become an integral part of the manner of the Japanese people. Shinto is both a personal faith in the kami—objects of worship in Shinto and an honorific for noble, sacred spirits—and a communal way of life according to the mind of the kami. This introduction unveils Shinto’s spiritual characteristics and discusses the architecture and function of Shinto shrines. Further examination of Shinto’s lively festivals, worship, music, and sacred regalia illustrates Shinto’s influence on all levels of Japanese life.

Fifteen photographs, numerous drawings and Dr. Ono’s text introduce the reader to two millennia of indigenous Japanese belief in the kami and communal life.

Chapters include:

  • The Kami Way
  • Shrines
  • Worship and Festivals
  • Political and Social Characteristics
  • Some Spiritual Characteristics

About the Author:
Dr. Sokyo Ono was a professor at Kokugakuin Daigaku, a Shinto university in Tokyo, and has lectured for the National Association of Shinto Shrines. He also served as Executive Director of the International Institute for the Study of Religions and the Japan Religious Cooperative Council

William Woodard directed the research unit of the Religious and Cultural Resources Division, Civil Information and Education Section, SCAP from 1946 to 1952.

I asked for this book for Christmas to help with my research for two different YA Japanese Fantasy novels I am working on. I felt that this gave some good insight of what it is like at Shinto shrines and how Shintoism is engrained in a lot of daily life actions in modern Japan. I found it to be quite fascinating, as we don’t learn much about this religion in schools or while looking at cultures in general. A lot is said about Buddism, but not much is said about Shintoism, and this book goes over a bit of why that is. I wished it went a little more on the changes throughout history and what actions changed or didn’t with a timeline, as my novel takes place in different periods through Japan.

I highly recommend to anyone who wants to learn more about this religion, whether it be because they are interested in Japanese culture, research for something they are writing, or if they want to visit shrines in Japan and understand what is respectful and what is not. I can’t wait to visit Japan and pay my respects to the kami at various shrines.

~Dani