Category Archives: Books/Art

Manga and Webtoon recommendations

By: Ajmal Abdirahman

Over the years I’ve read many different Mangas and Webtoons. In all different types of genres and styles. I’ve accumulated a list of almost every single one I’ve read. Although I have many favorites, these are some!

Firstly, what is Manga and Webtoon? Manga are comic or graphic novels, originating in Japan. You can read them online or in libraries or book shops. Webtoons are digital comics, originating in South Korea. You can read them on the Webtoon website or app.

Here are 2 Manga that I recommend!

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The first one is called ‘Lovely Complex’. Written and illustrated by Aya Nakahara. ‘Lovely Complex’ is a comedy romance with 17 volumes and a 1 volume spin-off! This Manga also has a 24 episode anime. The story is a love story between a boy named Otani and a girl named Risa. Risa is tall at 5ft 8in and Otani is 5ft 1in. The difference in their height is an ongoing theme throughout the series. The two encourage each other in finding love. The series is filled with funny antics from the two. It’s a really enjoyable and light read.

“A Sign of Affection 4 Ebook by Suu Morishita.” Rakuten Kobo

The second Manga that I recommend is, ‘A Sign of Affection’. It’s a Manga series written and illustrated by Suu Morishita. It’s a cute romance that follows a college girl named Yuki, who is deaf. One day on a train she meets a guy named Itsuomi, who she keeps running into, and later finds out he also attends her college. With the help of her friend she attempts to get his attention. They begin to learn more about each other and pretty quickly start to have feelings for one another. It has beautiful artwork and while you read along you might pick up some Japanese sign language

Moving on to Webtoons, here are 2 I recommend.

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The first one is called ‘Viral Hit’. It’s an action story. Written by Pak Taejun and illustrated by Kim Junghyun. It’s about a high school student named Hobin Yoo, who starts a NewTube channel centered around fighting. Hobin Yoo is constantly bullied at his school, but one day he discovers a mysterious channel that teaches him how to fight. Soon Hobin starts fighting guys stronger than him and making lots of money. Along the way he makes friends and many enemies. The story has amazing artwork, extremely developed characters and unique action scenes.

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The second Webtoon I recommend is called ‘Cheese in the Trap’, written and illustrated by, Soonkki. It’s a beautifully well-written story, about a girl named Seol who came from a poor family. She goes to university and is a very smart and hardworking student. She meets a fellow student named Jung who is a very popular, rich student. He’s always surrounded by admirers and friends. Seol and Jung start to talk to each other, and she starts to think he is strange. He manipulates people but no one realizes because of his fame and money. She tries everything to stay away from him, but it doesn’t work. The story is told from many different perspectives and the characters are very complex. There are many twists and turns. This story is long but completely worth reading!

For more information, please visit:

●  Pinterest. “Pinterest.” Pinterest, 2018,

●  “WEBTOON.”,

Graphic novel recommendations

By: Tasha Cudinski

There are many graphic novels in the world, each waiting to be picked up and read. Recommendations can help sort through the piles and piles of options and find ones that you might enjoy reading. This article is a list of some graphic novels, and their summaries so that people can find a new book to read.

‘Lumberjanes’ by Shannon Watters, Gus Allen, Grace Ellis, and ND Stevenson is a fantasy book about a group of young girls who are at an all girls summer camp. Within their first few days there they notice that this camp is not as normal as it seems. They notice strange creatures with three eyes, a grumpy old woman who has the ability to turn into a bear, and a strange warning that says “Beware the kitten holy”. The group of friends break camp rule after camp rule all while trying to get to the bottom of the mystery of this camp while still completing as many camp activities as possible.

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‘Amulet’ by Kazu Kibuishi tells the story of a young girl named Emily. After her father dies in a car accident Emily and her family (her mother and younger brother) move out to a house that once belonged to their great-grandfather, Silas Charnon. While cleaning up the old house Emily finds a strange amulet; deciding it looks cool she decides to put it on. Later that night her mother goes to investigate a strange noise in the basement and ends up being captured by a strange monster. While fleeing the monsters, Emily hears a voice in her head, telling her how to keep her and her brother safe. Following the instructions of this voice they manage to make it to safety.

They are found by friends of their great grandfather’s and they tell Emily that the voice she heard was the voice of the amulet. She is told that they are now trapped in another world and that her amulet once belonged to her great-grandfather and she is now stuck with its power and the danger that comes with being a stone keeper. In this world, stone keepers, or the owners of the amulets, are regarded as very powerful beings of great importance. However, many hunt down those people, either in search of an amulet of their own, or in fear of the danger of stone keepers.

The amulets themselves are often dangerous as well, and many stone keepers lose their minds to the power of the amulets, and one of these insane stone keepers is known as the Elf King. He is after Emily, because he sees her as a threat to his power because she is a stone keeper. Emily soon finds herself fighting against both the stone and the Elf king in the hope that she can one day return to a peaceful life with her family and friends.

For more information, including where to buy these books, please visit:

‘They Both Die in The End’ – Book review

By: Biftu Osmon

‘They Both Die in the End’, written by Adam Silvera, is a novel about two teenage boys who receive an unexpected phone call informing them that they will die within the next 24 hours and that there’s no way of preventing it.

The novel mainly focuses on the daily rundown of the two main characters, Rufus, who’s an open-minded, spontaneous teenage boy, and Mateo, who’s the polar opposite, an introvert who prefers to keep to himself. These two characters are living completely different lives before they connect through an app meant for people who are inevitably going to die within the next twenty-four hours. It was created so people wouldn’t spend their last day alive alone.

Since they are fortunate to live close to one another, they decide to get together and spend the day bidding goodbye to their loved ones while also engaging in enjoyable activities. The book allows you to see every moment of Rufus and Mateo’s bonding and formation of their friendship because each chapter is an in-depth hour of their day. By the time the day was over, both of them had achieved something they had never imagined they would in their entire lives.

I would rate this book a 6/10. Although the ending was very obvious, because of the book title, I wish the author would have added a more interesting or more major plot twist. I began reading the book expecting it to be a 5 star book because the book had mostly only great ratings, and there was a lot of hype surrounding it all over social media. I still enjoyed the plot and idea the author had, and I would probably still recommend this book to a friend, because I still enjoyed it and I’m glad I read it.

Review of ‘The Wandering Inn’

By: Tasha Cudinski

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‘The Wandering Inn’ is a web novel written by an author by the alias Pirateaba. ‘The Wandering Inn’ is about a young woman named Erin Solstice who gets stranded in another world. Erin is a young woman from Earth, she lives with her family and is getting ready to go to college. She is pretty happy, she spends time with her friends, and she plays chess which she is very talented at. One day, without warning, she finds herself in another world.

In this world, humans are just one of many sentient level species, and technology is still at the level of medieval times. This world also has: magic, monsters, classes, and Skills. Erin ends up stumbling upon a run down and abandoned inn, where she decides to stay.

The inn slowly gains popularity, as well as a reputation for insanity as there is almost always some kind of drama happening at the inn at all times. In most Isekai genre stories (stories in which a protagonist from earth ends up in another world) the main character ends up being some ultra powerful guy who can just punch all of his problems in the face, but Erin never ends up being a super powerful wizard, or a strong warrior, instead she becomes powerful via soft power.

Erin’s power is that she is a kind, and helping person who absolutely refuses to stray from her morals. Because of this, Erin meets goblins and necromancers and Antinium, all of whom are considered to be monsters. Most people see them as being incapable of anything but violence and have no qualms about treating them as the monsters they are perceived to be. Erin looks at them and decides to treat them like they are people, and because of this she ends up befriending all of those who have been scorned and hunted.

Over the course of the book, Erin amasses an army of friends, all of whom are willing to fight for Erin if she needs them to. While Erin’s story is the main focus of the book, it is not the only one, as she was not the only human from earth who ended up stranded in this other world.

As the story progresses, we meet more and more earthers and eventually they start meeting each other. While Erin managed to survive and make friends, many others were not so lucky and ended up dying before they could even figure out that they were in another world.

Overall, ‘The Wandering Inn’ is a fantasy genre story with slice of life and action as its secondary themes. Pirateaba is currently writing book nine. The books are well written and the story is engaging with almost no dull moments.

The main drawback of the book is its length. If you are looking for a book to read in a week, and be done with, then this book is not for you. The book has over 11 million words and counting.

‘The Wandering Inn’ is well written and well paced, with believable characters and world building, so if you are looking for something to occupy your time for a while, then ‘The Wandering Inn’ is a good choice for you!

‘The Wandering Inn’ can be read for free at its official website:

‘Better Than the Movies’ review

By: Kaylen Fuentez

‘Better Than the Movies’ is a book written by Lynn Painter that was published in 2021. This book is about a teenage girl Liz and her neighbor and childhood friend, Wes. They don’t get along very well but when their old childhood friend, Michael, moves back into town, Liz asks Wes to set them up. 

I think this book had a good concept but it was definitely predictable and wasn’t something that was unheard of. But I do think the characters were written really well and with a lot of substance.

 I think it was easy to get attached to the characters since they all had such engaging personalities. I think my favorite character is Wes, throughout the book he was very thoughtful of Liz and you can tell he truly cares about her. He helped her to start talking to Michael even when he knew he’d had feelings for her. He continued to be there for her when she was upset over her relationship with Michael, her friendship that was falling apart, and as well as grieving her mom and accepting her step mom.

The subplot of ‘Better Than the Movies’ was Liz trying to cope with the death of her mother who passed 2 years prior to when the story takes place. One of the ways she copes with her mom’s death is watching rom coms which she grew up watching with her mom. Throughout the book Liz’s mom is constantly mentioned and everyone always says how much she reminds them of her mother. Liz always takes her resemblance to her mother as a compliment but in a part of the book her and Wes have a fight and he says she’s trying to be her mom because that’s one way she copes. I thought that it was a really interesting concept and I’m glad that though her mom passed she’s still such a big part of the book and Liz’s thought process.

Another thing I really enjoyed about the book was all of the references to films and music. Liz has an obsession with films as well as creating playlists for every moment. At the beginning of each chapter there was a quote from a rom com which described how the chapter was going to go, and after finishing the chapter the quote would make a lot of sense and I thought it was a clever way to add substance and hobbies to Liz’s character.

The songs mentioned throughout were also a nice touch because it gave you more of a sense of what was going on and how Liz was feeling in that moment, and how the song could correspond to what was going on. At the end of the book, there was even a page dedicated to Wes and Liz and it’s called “Wes and Liz’s Playlist” that included about 20 songs that showed how they feel about each other and the journey of their relationship throughout the book.

Overall, I think this book was a nice easy read, but I definitely wouldn’t say it’s the best book I’ve ever read. I rate this book 3/5 stars and it’s a great book to read in a short span of time.

A review of ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’

By: McKenzie Welch

Image taken from: https://www.simonandschuster.
com/books/The-Perks-of-Being-a-Wallflower/Stephen-Chbosky/97819821 10994

‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ is a young adult fiction novel written by Stephen Chbosky that is set up in the form of multiple letters being sent to an anonymous recipient. It covers the course of Charlie’s life through his freshman year of high school, with Charlie being the author of the many handwritten notes.

Charlie has lived as a loner for most of his life. He has never really had friends, but he’s always been okay with that because he’s never had the experience of having a loving community of people around him, besides his family.

The novel explored issues between family members as well. It was clear that other members of the family were struggling, and the novel displayed how relationships can form tension when there is a lack
of communication. This can be relatable to real life, as there are often times when people feel as though others are not understanding them, which can place stress on the connection they have.

My favorite part about the novel was that it explored how friends, and the ability to be yourself around these people, impact an individual’s quality of life. Charlie met a group of people who, although they were two to three years older, accepted him exactly for who he was. This was something that Charlie had never experienced before, but learning how to be a friend to others was an adventure that helped him learn and grow as a person, and he also got to discover more about himself and his personality.

Although many of these topics seem heartwarming, in reality the topics that this novel deals with are heavy at times. There are situations that make it difficult for other characters to smile, but everyone helps each other through it all.

All in all, I give this book 5/5 stars. I felt as though writing the novel in the form of letters was something new and unexpected, and it kept the book captivating for me. I also really enjoyed that it explored both the positives and negatives of growing up, as life isn’t always perfect.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for something to read that is more applicable to real life. However, I strongly suggest that anyone planning to read this novel reads the trigger warnings first, as many of the events that happen are heavy and at times difficult to get through.

The “Beat Generation” of poets and their impact on art

By: Mia David

The social and poetry movement, known as the Beat Movement, was formed in the 1950s following World War II. This movement was started by Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs.

They chose the word ‘beat’ to mean defeated and worn, to represent how these writers felt about the world of literature at the time and the pressures of society.

The Beat movement had one main goal: to go against the traditional way of writing and behaving and embrace the unorthodox lifestyle. They achieved this goal by writing about topics that were considered taboo and writing using new rhymes and meters.

The movement focused on self-expression, fluid sexuality, and recreational drug use. The people involved in the campaign wanted to move away from what they believed was a joyless and melancholy lifestyle that society pushed.

The movement took inspiration from jazz music they heard in the cities, and they agreed with the beliefs and values found in Buddhism. According to Britannica, the point of the movement was to write poetry about the poet’s individual experiences.

The Beat Generation is considered the most impactful freedom of speech movement in literature.

The movement eventually began to fade out in the 1960s, but it had a lasting impact on the art scene. The Beat Generation inspired the next generation of writers to explore topics of war and social justice issues. This movement also pushed the hippie and bohemian styles and made them more popular.

This group of poets and writers inspired other movements, groups, writers, and artists. A group called the New Left formed, and many people involved in the Beat Generation soon joined that group and showed their support.

Poets weren’t the only ones inspired by this form of expression in writing. This movement inspired many musical artists, such as Bob Dylan and the Beatles.

Although the movement only lasted about a decade, it opened up a world for other artists that followed. It expressed and enforced the right to freedom of speech in writing. It allowed artists to go outside the typical “rules” enforced when writing, composing, or creating art.

Wintery reads: A compilation

By: Julia Sikorski Roehsner

What first comes to mind when you think of winter? The holidays, most likely, along with snow, hot drinks, soft blankets, freshly baked goods, and seasonal flora.

Perhaps, too, you might be reminded of books. Classics, such as ‘A Christmas Carol,’ ‘Little Women,’ ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,’ or even ‘The Snowy Day.’ When I think of winter, I conjure the image of curling up by a crackling fireplace and diving into a good book.

But what to read once you’ve run through the tried-and-trues? It can be a hard decision in today’s overwhelming literary industry. Hence, my compiled list of titles below. Perhaps you’ll find a new prospect for your next snowy day.

1. ‘Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances’ by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

Image taken from: https://www.barnesandnoble

‘Let It Snow’ is a novel by Maureen Johnson, John Green, and Lauren Myracle written in three separate parts, each narrated by a different character. Set during a surprise blizzard on Christmas Eve, the trifecta takes place within one small town.

The first story, “The Jubilee Express,” is told by the comical Jubilee Dougal, who finds herself stuck on a snowbound train mid-journey to her grandparents’ house. Unwilling to spend the evening idle, she embarks on a trek in search of help that turns into a walk home with a stranger.

In the story that follows, “A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle,” we are introduced to Tobin. Tobin expected to spend his Christmas Eve at home with his two friends, the Duke and JP. However, a call to travel to the town’s Waffle House propels him out the door and into the cold. It’s a twist of festive fate when his car breaks down.

‘Let It Snow’ ends with “The Patron Saint of Pigs,” narrated by Addie, who is struggling through a recent separation with her boyfriend. In between heartache and a terribly early work shift, Addie discovers herself responsible for the retrieval of her friend’s Christmas gift—a teacup piglet.

A lighthearted and cheery holiday read, I give ‘Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances’ four out of five stars.

2. ‘Beartown’ by Fredrik Backman

Image taken from: https://www.goodreads

Fredrick Backman’s ‘Beartown’ is the first in a series of three books telling the story of a wilderness town, still standing in the ever-pressing forest due to one thing—hockey. It’s the love and talent for the sport that keeps Beartown going.

The community is full of expectations, pressure, and dreams, all of which rest heavily on the junior hockey team and the upcoming national semifinals. Hockey is what the town knows, and winning is what the players know.

Sometimes, it seems like those are the only things they know.

‘Beartown’ is not a holiday-centered book—though it carries a winter feel—but nor is it a sports book by any means. Backman weaves together a web of characters, each of them distinct and brimming with depth. I give it four and a half out of five stars.

3. ‘Trapped’ by Michael Northrop

Image taken from: https://www.goodreads.

‘Trapped,’ written by Michael Northrop, begins innocently enough, with fresh snowfall and after school shenanigans. It takes a turn once protagonist Scotty and his classmates realize that they won’t be returning home at the end of the day.

As suggested by the title, they’re trapped. For how long, no one knows.

The press of time and panic is poignant in ‘Trapped,’ and Northrop easily places the reader within the emotions of the story’s characters. I give it four out of five stars.

4. ‘Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow’ by Jessica Day George

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Based on the fairytale ‘East of the Sun, West of the Moon,’ Jessica Day George’s ‘Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow’ tells the story of the unnamed Lass. She stands separate from the rest of her family, which is struggling to survive in the cold north.

Thus, it seems almost natural for her to accept an unnatural offer from an isbjørn bear—live with the isbjørn in its faraway palace for just one year, and her family will be provided with riches beyond imagination.

But is the trade-off worth it?

George puts a wonderful creative spin on the classic tale; I give ‘Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow’ four out of five stars.

‘I am not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter’: First impressions, review

By: Alexa Ramirez

*Warning: Contains spoilers

Book by: Erika L. Sanchez

I first started reading ‘I am not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter’ with a hope that I would relate on the unique experience that is growing up a Mexican girl. This book allowed me, and many other readers, a chance to explore a perspective they could either relate to or learn from (or both!).

This book explores many topics, some being: poverty, sexism, and classism. The main character is a 15-year-old high school girl named Julia Reyes who lives in an apartment in Chicago with her parents. They are both poor immigrants from Mexico who had two daughters, but early on in the story you learn that their oldest, Olga, had just recently gotten hit by a semi and died. She was the parent’s idea of a perfect daughter; she didn’t go out often, she focused on school, she helped around the house cooking and cleaning, and abided by their rules.

Julia, however, was the opposite. She wanted to go out to the city and she smoked and drank and partied, she had no idea how to cook and broke most house rules they had. But Julia was extremely smart; she had skipped a grade and read and wrote constantly.

When Olga died, she and Julia weren’t that close, but it tore apart their family. Their parents were devastated, and Julia was in complete shock. They fought all the time because her parents started comparing the two girls which hurt Julia, but she never wanted to be home anymore and was over analyzing the death of her sister, which hurt her parents.

Now Julia was going to have to figure out how to continue to learn about her sister’s death without her parents approval, since they found it disrespectful to pry in her things, but Julia felt that for her own closure, she needed to know about Olga’s life before she died, which was turning out to be more unpredictable than she had expected.

Although she faces difficulties with criticism and judgement from her mom on various aspects of her life, Julia remains a fiery and expressive person. When teachers gave her a hard time, she defended herself and on one occasion even left the classroom because her teacher was picking on her. When she was going to the university Olga had attended before her death, in search of answers to her questions about Olga’s mystery life, she got in a big argument with, and wasn’t afraid to tell off, the woman at the desk who wouldn’t give her Olga’s records even after she knew who she was and why she needed them. It shaped up to be an explosive encounter but Julia never backed down.

This aspect of her character was one I cherished and was inspired by. It was my main takeaway from this story because she goes through so much in every way imaginable; her family’s money struggles have put her through hunger and denied her many opportunities, she has a troubled relationship with both parents (and for a lot of the story with her best friend Lorena), and faces many little struggles with her school and in the area of Chicago where she lives. Plus, on top of all of this, is grieving the loss of her sister.

Despite this, she never looses the fire she has that allows her to stand up for herself throughout the story. In situations where she needs to advocate for herself with her mom, her best friend, boys and men in her life, her voice saves her and is really all she can depend on. The strength she had to continue advocating for herself, despite all of the people shrugging her off and silencing her, gave me hope for the times I’m feeling ignored or weak and inspired me to continue to encourage myself and those around me despite what I’m going through.

Another aspect of this story that was important was the amount of cultural and generational trauma that was embedded into the plot and into the characters. It was obvious that Julia had some issues with the way her family saw the world and was constantly criticizing her sister for having conformed to many dated norms that were enforced by her parents, like staying home and cooking and cleaning because she was a girl in the family, without a problem. This was something that had obviously been taught to her parents and had been the norms in their societies for a long time, which is why that was the standard for their children, too. Applying this to the plot of the story was something that made all the difference, since it left another layer to analyze and learn about from the perspective of someone going through it firsthand.

Those clever applications of the real world struggles of a young girl character, and its unique plot really raised the bar and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I rate it a 4/5 because though it was good, I would’ve liked the plot to move faster but would recommend it and am glad to have read it.

The new Botticelli and Renaissance exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Art:

By: Mia David

Image taken by: Mia David

On October 16th, 2022, the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) opened a new art museum called the Boticelli and Renaissance Florence: Masterworks from the Uffizi.

The Mia is fortunate to be the only stop for this exhibit and to feature artworks that have never left Italy until now. The display contains remarkable paintings, sculptures, and prints portraying biblical stories and Greek and Roman characters. This exhibit is the largest Botticelli and Renaissance exhibit in the US ever.

The main attractions in the exhibit are the works done by Sandro Botticelli from the late 1400s and early 1500s. He is known for how he changed the perspective on myths and legends in Italy at the time. His popularity allowed him to paint three frescoes in the Sistine Chapel.

This exhibit is the first time Mia has worked with the Uffizi gallery. The Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, occupies a building built between 1560 and 1580. It is well known for its famous sculptures and paintings from throughout history.

This exhibition was curated to reflect the different art forms from this time period. There are statues, plaques, multiple paintings in different shapes and sizes, and even a chest with images portrayed on the outside.

Walking into the exhibit, you are immediately met with Boticelli’s famous painting ‘Pallas and the Centaur, which is one of the main attractions of this exhibit. It is a tempera painting on canvas that spans 207 x 148 cm.

This exhibit also contains sketches or drawings of people and portraits that line the walls. There are pieces based on Greek mythology, like a statue of a centaur and a relief sculpture of three Greek women. To complement these Greek pieces, many biblical stories are reflected in the art. There is a long panel of paintings representing the telling of the virgin Mary and a sculpture of Saint John the Baptist.

This exhibit will be open until January 8th, 2023. Tickets can be purchased online for $20 or free for anyone 17 and under.