Make Anything Happen by Carrie Lindsey

I am guessing that the author has built up her admirably large group of followers on her blog due to people being interested in her life. From what she feeds her family, to her vacations, to how she plans things out. Because that’s what we have here with this book – it really is all about her using her life as an inspiration to help you create a set of short term and long term goals. It’s all very nebulous, of course, because she doesn’t know your personal goals. But I was somehow expecting more images of the planning/vision boards rather than lots of text about herself and then some photographs of forms, quotes, and art and crafts items. I felt like I bought this book only to get a bunch of CR codes to go to her blog where I would print out a form and then fill it out or get nicely formatted inspirational quotes. Somehow, I expected the book to be both more personal (to me) and less personal (of her).


The book is broken down into four sections: Introduction, Define Your Dreams, Visualize Your End Game, Implement Planning Strategies.

The Introduction section is about understanding priorities, defining your best life, finding time, and setting you up for success. This section has a copious amount of neatly formatted “motivational quotes”, scrapbook style.

Define Your Dreams includes goals, manifesting your destiny, what is a vision board?, and encouragements at the end to do things like buying magazines and cutting out pictures that resonate with you and downloading quotes that make you smile. The author has even more nicely formatted ‘non cheesy’ quotes you can download from a CR code. Journaling and vision boards are heavily discussed here and, once again, you go to her website to see more examples (seeing a trend here?).

The next section is about implementing the goals. Set them, make a due date, create action items, track progress, checking in. There are examples in the book or again, you can download by going to the website for blank templates.

So here are the problems: most of the photos seem to be random – e.g., pictures of color pens, pom poms, and random inspiration quotes. There is a rainbow here of art items and motivational items but less on things like actual vision board examples. All examples are the author’s – so we see the same things over and over again. And then a lot of them look to be filler. A good example is a full page photo of a blank page, 6 color pens, two inspirational quote squares, and a random succulent plant. Just before that is a photograph of white space, 7 coloring pens, 5 colorful shredded paper, and three wooden cubes (stamps?) with quotes on them like “dream big” and “with love”. Later, there is a framed print of “Today is going to be amazing” next to two succulents, some stamps, and random objects only barely showing. You’re to use these to create vision boards – but I’m not sure what the succulent or the shredded paper is going to do? And who leaves a framed inspirational quote on a table? Everything felt random and lacking cohesion. And it felt like the same photograph over and over again, just changing a few variables. There was little variety.

Finally, most of the book felt like its purpose was to give some information and then to drive traffic to her blog. On the one hand, she doesn’t have an upsell there to the consumer, which is nice. On the other hand, she does depend on blog traffic for income so it felt a bit disingenuous to put so much of the book into going there. I appreciate additional resources and yes, it is definitely nice to have a quick one stop to download. I couldn’t test the download pages since they were unavailable at the time of this review, in advance of publishing. But for me, I wanted less of her and more of other examples – I wanted to see how others had used vision boards, how they looked, and what they were able to do with them. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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A Strange and Mystifying Story Volume 3 by Tsuta Suzuki

I think this will have to be the last volume I read in this series. It feels all over the place – a collection of loosely connected stories that don’t really tie into each other thematically or aesthetically. What started as a boy with a terminal disease getting a lust-driven guardian spirit then turned into a story about that boy’s ancestors and they were found and saved by a spirit until a daughter of the house fell in love and brought a curse down on them. Now this volume involves the boy’s coworkers, a museum director and a young recruit falling for each other, and then later the museum director’s stepson obtaining a fox spirit similar to the original boy’s dog spirit – and becoming its bride.


The first volumes was heavy on the sex and there hasn’t been any since, further creating an odd divide between the theme of the first volume and then the vanilla loose romances of the next two volumes. As well, the character types and the character drawings all look pretty similar and pretty much fall directly into so many of this genre’s cliches. The boy who always cries, the super aggressive alpha male, the older but sweet/ditzy love interest, etc. etc. Admittedly, I got bored and there wasn’t much interesting enough happening to keep me reading. Meanwhile, we sort of have a resolution on the original storyline but it was very different in tone to how that relationship started, so it felt like we were viewing a completely different set of people.

The art was repetitive and there were some odd illustrations interspersed throughout. This title could have really used the beauty of e.g., The Demon Prince of Momochi House to lift the rather rambling story. Everything felt so recycled, so random, and without a clear purpose – as if the author was throwing things on the page just to continue a story but not really invested in it or even having any idea where to take it. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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Perfect World Volume 1 by Rie Aruga

Perfect World at times feels heavy handed and preachy about the challenges facing those with wheelchair disabilities; but at the same time, it’s an important reminder that Japan, unlike countries like America, does not have many laws in place to give equal opportunity access in public places. Still, many plot points feel there simply to make a statement or create a ‘poignant moment’ rather than as a natural occurrence. But the illustration work is quite lovely and (mostly owing this to being a josei (adult women oriented) rather than shoujo (school girl oriented) title) is a thought provoking read. Especially for all the fans of Jojo Moyes “Me Before You” series since there are similar issues explored.


Story: 26-year-old Tsugumi Kawana works as an interior designer, having long ago given up her dream of being a painter. At a work party, she ends up meeting again her long time unrequited crush Itsuki Ayukawa (whom she has not seen since high school graduation). He had always planned to be an architect and he, unlike her, managed to make his dreams come true. But she soon finds that life wasn’t without its own price for Ayukawa; in college, he was struck by a car and received a permanent spinal injury, resulting in the need for a wheelchair. As Kawana gets to know him better and works with him, she finds she is falling in love with him all over again. But Ayukawa lives with all the mental and physical complication of his injury: from pushing away all people to the constant risk of further injuries and complications. Is there a future for the two?

As with the Jojo Moyes book, we have a highly successful and driven male lead who becomes permanently handicapped by a freak accident. Cue somewhat ditzy but sweet girl who doesn’t know how to handle the strong-willed boy but knows she is falling in love with him anyway. In this case, Kawana had known Ayukawa most of her life and always was drawn to him, even when he ended up choosing a different girl. Her memories of him, especially the heartbreak when he chose a different girl, form the pathos of much of the book.

The plot does feel contrived, though, to push certain points. From the ex girlfriend who seemingly ‘dumped’ him when he became handicapped but who in reality was pushed away – to a boy whose parents hire Ayukawa in order to help them redo their house to be handicap friendly to their son, who was recently crippled in an accident. Both chapters were about Ayukawa learning to understand his own disability and grow from it. But both situations were far too convenient to be happening just as Ayukawa meets him.

The illustration work is very clean and lovely. It is in the typical Josei fashion and can be irregular at times but I prefer this to the overcrowded paneling of most shoujo manga. The focus is on the nuances of emotions rather than zany action.

In all, I greatly enjoyed Perfect World, even with the detractions. It is a smooth and clean story, if a bit preachy. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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A Strange and Mystifying Story Volume 2 by Tsuta Suzuki

This volume goes into Setsu’s past, giving us an idea of how Yamane’s ancestors got the curse as well as how Setsu became entwined with the family’s fate. There is even a side story at the end that further explores his history of how he met the first Yamane. Interestingly for me, I liked the past version of Setsu much better than the present day incarnation. Also interestingly, the past Setsu wasn’t all about intercourse, either.


Story: As Setsu heals Yamane, he reminisces about the person he was in the past and how he made a bargain with Basho in order to save the Yamane family. Shrina (as Setsu is known then) is friend/protector to Hokuto, a naive father of two near-adult children. Shinra is constantly having to save the father from himself and those who would exploit him. But when the daughter seeks a love spell to capture Shinra’s affection, she instead ends up with a terrible curse on her whole family. The adopted son makes a bargain with Basho/Shinra and a new half human/half demon Setsu is created to protect/save the family.

It’s telling that there is more of a story in the past than currently in the present. The characters were more interesting, certainly better than the current Yamane, who feels very weak. And the Shinra in the past felt a lot less flippant and more considerate of those around him.

The illustration work continues to be good. There are some contemporary scenes near the end, mostly having to do with Yamane’s friends commenting on him looking much better and teasing him about Setsu. But this volume did feel fairly inert – not much happens in the present and the rest of the story stuck in the past. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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The Promised Neverland Volume 2 by Kaiu Shirai, Posuka Demizu

With each volume, I can’t help but remember the oppressive claustrophobia of Hunger Games and the feeling of futility and hopelessness warring against the struggle just to survive. Of course, after three volumes we really only know about the small world of the orphanage and not what truly is happening outside. My initial concern was that the series would only be about the kids struggling in the orphanage to escape and never really getting outside. But by the end of this volume, things are moving.


Story: When two of the children go exploring and find a hidden room full of toys from children who were supposedly adopted, they know for sure that the orphanage is a sham and confront the other kids. At the same time, one of the younger kids recognizes that book plates in the front of their books have circles that are written in morse code – all belonging to a ‘William Minerva’. The code further confirms to everyone that they are indeed being raised as food for the ‘demons’. They plot out an escape but Mom and Sister Krone are hot on their heels. As Sister Krone and Mom try to outwit each other to be the head of the orphanage, the kids put their plan into motion to escape.

The story moves along nicely here, with some great twists and turns, especially in the Mom vs Sister Krone political machinations. Sister Krone is only too happy to use the kids to betray Mom to Grandmother and replace her; the kids know that they are expendable once that happens. Ray, meanwhile, learns that he has two weeks left before he is ‘adopted.’

Most of the book focuses away from our three main characters and instead on several of the side characters. By the end, things blow up and volume four looks to be quite exciting. The art and the story greatly reminds me of Deadman Wonderland, just not quite as violent or bloody and much more cerebral. The kids vs. Mom and Mom vs. Krone battles are quite fun and surprising at the same time as they attempt to outwit each other. The dance of motives is what makes this an excellent read. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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Fullmetal Alchemist: Fullmetal Edition Volume 1 by Hiromu Arakawa

This is likely targeted to those who love the series rather than as an introduction to newer readers. That said, this is a lovely presentation and more than suitable for both audiences. Most of the extras were not available in my advance review copy but it was lovely to see the color pages that began several chapters.


Story: Al and Ed are two unique brothers: one gifted with the ability to use alchemy (magic) to convert one object into another. The other only a soul locked in a suit of armor – unable to grow up until he gets his body back. For the Elric brothers, when younger, attempted the taboo: to resurrect their mother who died suddenly. They paid a heavy price for their folly: Al lost his body and Edward lost his leg. Through a further bargain with ‘the other side’ Al then gave up his arm to get his brother’s soul back – which he promptly placed in the armor. Now working for the government, they are searching for the philospher’s stone – an all-powerful object that Ed believes can be used to bring back his brother’s body.

Those who have seen the Netflix movie will see many familiar scenes here – but in their original story. Shou Tucker, Nina and her dog, the renegade ‘priest’, Mustang, Hughes, Lust, Envy, and Gluttony. The story is a bit different since it did not need to be condensed like the movie in order to fill the two hour time slot. But at the same time, this volume 1 really showcases well why the Fullmetal Alchemist story is so beloved: its pathos, action, imagination, and even heartbreak.

The scans are very clean and although I only have the digital versions, it is clearly more coherent and nicely updated than the original manga of a few years ago. I look forward to seeing the actual hardcover upon release. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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Requiem Of The Rose King Vol. 8 by Ayo Kanno

With Volume 8, we have moved past the death of Warwick the Kingmaker and the battle of Tewksbury. The throne of England is stable, for now, with Richard’s brother Edward IV on the throne. Kanno gets a bit fanciful in this volume, imagining that one of the beauties of the time and mistress to the King, Jane Shore, was actually a witch or alchemist interested in feminism and mischief. It’s a bit of a stretch, to be sure, but then this is a manga version of British history that enjoys its fantastical elements.


Story: Richard has killed Warwick and the throne is secure. But he was also complicit in the death of his beloved Henry. Now, cold inside and feeling like the only thing left to cling to is the York family, Richard is fully loyal to his brother, Edward IV, and willing to do whatever his brother asks, as long as it will ensure York supremacy. Anne, daughter of Warwick, meanwhile, is heartbroken over the loss of her father. As Anne’s sister (now married to prince George) conspires to raise their position in face of Warwick’s humiliating loss, Anne herself is sick with grief that her beloved Richard killed her father. As Jane Shore weaves her spell over a weakening Edward IV, Richard and the Duke of Buckingham work behind the scenes to save the throne.

The art is, as ever, quite beautiful. What Ikeda did with the French monarchy with Rose of Versailles, Kanno certainly does with the otherwise dowdy Yorks and Lancasters. All the melodrama, histrionics, and over-the-top machinations of a josei/shoujo drama are intact. But at the heart, there is a lot to learn here about what really happened in medieval England. Although Kanno very loosely follows history (and certainly Richard wasn’t intersex and witches didn’t cast spells on kings), there are historical facts intact.

I greatly enjoy each volume but find I like to keep a Wikipedia page open so I can know the real story behind the fanciful. It’s a great way to appreciate Kanno’s storytelling but still be able to distinguish between fact and fiction of these historical figures. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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