WRAP-UP | JULY 2017

How is it August already? It’s almost Christmas!

I did quite well in my July reading even with Anime Expo at the start of the month. I did especially well in the audio book department. I discovered that Hoopla has Japanese fiction on audio. I’ve come to realize that they are awesome to listen to and a lot of them are short reads – listens – at less than 6 hours. Most of them anyway. Plus, I lucked out with the narrators. Sure, they’re not perfect Japanese pronunciation when it comes to names but I still enjoyed it.

I finally did a Jane Eyre re-read after not doing it for 2-3 years. I acquired the Manga Classics by Udon Entertainment copy and oh boy, I loved it. I am looking at getting all the other Manga Classics versions. They’re so much easier to read than the dense original text. I also finished a very hyped and beloved YA series and once again, was kind of let down by it. This month’s reading had been filled with most anticipated reads, recommendations, and audio books. Let’s see how I did!

TOTAL BOOKS READ: 11. I hit a total of 80 reads this past month.

  • Sound! Euphonium, Volume 1 by Ayano Takeda. This is the light novel source material of one of my favorite anime shows. This is a story told through Kumiko’s eyes; she is a euphonium player for the Kitauji High School band. She goes through normal high school stuff on top of band club drama. While I definitely prefer the anime (it has actual music and playing of music), I really enjoyed this one as well. My Shuichi x Kumiko heart, especially. But I’m only giving this 4/5 stars because to me, there was a bit (a lot) of queer baiting. Now, it could just be a form of fan service but this was written before the anime was aired.
  • Amazonia by James Rollins. As with every James Rollins book, I listened to this on audio. I did enjoy this. It had a slow start but it built up quite nicely. Of course, make sure your suspension of disbelief is quite strong. As much as Rollins’ books are filled with adventure, they’re not the most believable. 4/5 stars.
  • The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa. I listened to this. I also own this book. But when I saw this on Hoopla, under 5 hours, I thought it’s going to be a quick read. It was but it was so good. It reminded me of Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. A housekeeper is hired to help out at an elderly professor’s house. After a while, the professor invites the housekeeper’s son with them. They then develop a sort of familial relationship that makes such a differences in all of their lives. The narration by Cassandra Campbell is A+! 5/5 stars, favorite.
  • The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski. Book 2 in the trilogy. There were so many things going on but none of it was truly exciting. Then it just ended. Yes, it was full of political intrigue. Think of a chess game but with a lot of misunderstanding. Really, things would’ve ended much faster and cleaner if they only just talked. But then again, we have a 3rd book. 3.5/5 stars. At this point, I almost slumped… I wasn’t enjoying this.
  • Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire. I was good. But it wasn’t life changing as everyone says. I actually didn’t get it much. It was a magical realism mystery novella with an asexual main character. Okay. 4/5 stars.
  • Girls und Panzer, Volume 2. I’ve since completed the Nendoroid Petit Collection 1, thanks to Anime Expo. I… didn’t enjoy this volume. They pretty much left out the whole Saunders match. It was merely mentioned but the anime has 1.5 episodes about that. I understand the choice but I would’ve liked to see more of the match on the page. 3/5 stars.
  • When It’s Real by Erin Watt. Holy crap. Holy crap, I loved this. Oh man, this was an awesome audio book read by two narrators, Caitlin Kelly and Teddy Hamilton. This toed the line between YA and NA but there’s no explicit sex scene yet it still managed to be so hot. It touched all my feelz and then some. 5/5 stars, favorite!
  • Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino. Another audio book with A+ narration by David Pittu. I enjoy his mystery novels so much and they are perfect to listen on audio. This is about a husband murdered when his soon-to-be ex-wife is on vacation. Yes, it was predictable in a way that you know who did it. The question is “how.” Amazing. 5/5 stars.
  • Last Winter We Parted by Fuminori Nakamura. Based on the blurb, I should love this. This is about a journalist interviewing a man on death row after being convicted of killing 2 women by burning them to death. Then it unravels a very complicated web of accomplices, secrets, and deceit. But I had a problem with the narration. The names were badly pronounced, there wasn’t much difference between character voices. I got lost so many times. So I don’t think it’s the novel’s fault. I do own this so I may just have to read it again. 2.5/5 stars.
  • Manga Classics: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, illustrated by SunNeko Lee. You don’t know “cute” until you’ve seen Jane and Rochester in chibi form. I will give this book nothing but a perfect score. 5/5 stars.
  • The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski. I’m filing this under the same umbrella as The Grisha trilogy – hyped series that ended up disappointing me. I wanted to read this book when I heard that this featured a pianist main character and music. Well, so much for that. I did enjoy this too but there was just too much traveling and talking and not much else. I still like Arin. Kestrel’s okay too. Over all, this series is a 3.5/5, just like this book.

Continue reading

WRAP-UP | JUNE 2017

I apologize for the delay. I blame Anime Expo for that. I’m still on a post-con high. It was the best show so far and I’m so happy to have experienced it. It did get in the way of my reading towards the end of June but I still managed to have a good reading month. I discovered a new favorite and I may have found my preferred NA subgenre. *wink*

Now that the first half of the year has passed (really guys, JUNE is still a part of the first half of the year), I’m looking forward to reading more of what’s on my shelf, getting through more series, and making a dent on my ebook collection. See I didn’t put “buy less books” on there. I realized that I’m okay with buying books. I only buy when I really truly want something and then the other books are just there for free shipping. I feel another unhaul coming up so we’ll see how that goes.

TOTAL BOOKS READ: 10.

  • Digital Fortress by Dan Brown. I finally got to this book. And I have to say, it’s my least favorite Dan Brown to date. I thought it was just because it was on audio and I wasn’t giving my full attention to it. But I got lost so many times even though I was focused. I questioned a lot of their motives and a lot of it didn’t make sense. At least now, with the exception of the YA re-release of The Da Vinci Code, I can say that I have read all of Dan Brown’s published books. 3/5 stars.
  • A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas. More Azriel. Absolutely no Tamlin. I must say, this is not a “good book” but it is a good read. A guilty pleasure read. I don’t line SJM’s bland writing and her plot lines are so convoluted. But her characters have a life of their own. I love the Inner Circle and Azriel is Otabek Altin in my head. The sex scenes are like reading some Explicit fanfiction off Archive Of Our Own. Just… wow. Take that as you want – positively or negatively. 3.5/5 stars.
  • Another Episode S/0 by Yukito Ayatsuji. This is a companion novel to Another. It’s basically a conversation between Mei and Sakakibara about an incident that Mei experienced that linked to the strange events of the first book. It’s rather slow and I was ready to give it less than 5 stars but the ending happened. And yes, it deserved all the stars. 5/5 stars.
  • Black Butler, Volume 10 by Yana Toboso. I just realized why this arc was so familiar. It’s basically following And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. Our characters are trapped in the Phantomhive manor while a storm rages outside. Then one by one, a killer picks off the people in the manor. I loved this arc. Especially Finny’s tribute to Sebastian. My  heart! 4/5 stars.
  • Him by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy. New favorite alert! I breezed through this book in 24 hours. I loved it so much. Jamie and Wesley are hot and adorable and I was rooting for them so hard. And I realized that I love m/m romances – of course when done right. And this was done so right. 5/5 stars. More, if possible.
  • Girls und Panzer: Little Army, Volumes 1 &2 illustrated by Tsuchii. This is a prequel about how Miho got into Tankery and how she met her first in Middle School also through Tankery. I actually own all the Girls und Panzer manga. I love this anime. This prequel, not so much. I gave both 3 stars each. Although, I wouldn’t mind to see an anime for this.
  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. I finally read something by this author. On audio. I think I may need to re-read this in book form. The writing is great but it didn’t grip me. I kept waiting for the race to happen and… it didn’t. Sort of. I’m not quite sure. The pair of narrators did a good job but like I said, my mind wasn’t there. It’s the writing that kept me going. Yeah, I’ll get a copy of this and re-read it eventually. 4/5 stars.
  • Girls und PanzerVolume 1. I was so excited to read this. Girls und Panzer is now one of my favorite anime. I have almost all of the Petit Nendoroid figures from my extraordinary luck at grab boxes. I’m surprised to see that this is told in Yukari’s POV. I can’t wait to get to the rest. 4/5 stars.
  • Us by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy. I had to. Oh god, this was so cute. All the new characters are so precious. Jamie is a darling. I felt so many feelz. All of them are 5 stars.

STATS:

  • 3235 pages
  • 4 manga and 2 audio books

Yes, I bought them both. And the Funko Pop Draco Malfoy pen topper. I saw this marked as a “Hot Topic exclusive” but I bought this at Target way before I saw it at Hot Topic. *shrugs* Unfortunately, I haven’t re-read this yet. I know I said I would but I don’t know what it is about me and re-reading. I suddenly remember everything about that book once I start reading it. Eh, someday maybe. Hopefully.

I thought I was doing good with my book buying. Until I wrote everything down. Oh dear. Continue reading

2017 MID-YEAR BOOK FREAKOUT TAG

I wanted to post this when June officially is over – when it is truly midway through the year – but looking at my current reads and upcoming schedule, it’s not going to make a difference whether I do it now or later. I’m almost done with a light novel and an audio book and neither are to write home about. Also, starting tomorrow – June 30 – I’ll be in Anime Expo mode until the 4th of July. I am excite!

Here is my last year’s post – 2016 Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag. I definitely read more this year with better diversity in genre and media. I’ve also made better book-buying choices. I’ve missed a couple of good sales even with the new free shipping option from Book Outlet and crazy deals from Better World Books and Thriftbooks. I became more excited about author events. Overall, this is shaping up to be a better reading year than the last.

As of this posting, I’ve read a total of 69 books and “currently reading” 3.

1. Best Book You’ve Read Yet in 2017
I’ve seen many bloggers and booktubers give multiple answers to this so I’m giving two: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson and Battle Royale by Koushun Takami. They’re brilliant in their own way. One has such a rich world that sucks you in from page one. The other has so much action that rivals even the goriest movies. I

2. Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far in 2016
Spiral by Koji Suzuki, hands down. It’s my favorite out of the Ring series even though I rated it a star lower than the first one. I think it’s more twisted than Ring in a more psychological way vs actual ghost horror.

3. New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To
I pre-ordered a signed copy of Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab but I somehow got sort of spoiled for the ending so I’m not leaping through fire to read it right away. I don’t mind… at least I’m ready LOL. Also, A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas. I’m not the biggest fan of this series but it became sort of a guilty pleasure. I’m not really on top of new releases.

4. Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year
I have two: Warcross by Marie Lu. I am waiting for her tour schedule so I can either go (if they include Vroman’s Pasadena) or pre-order a signed copy. And Origin by Dan Brown. At this point, I’ve read all of his published work and he’s definitely one of my auto-buy authors, especially his Robert Langdon series.

5. Biggest Disappointment
No, it’s not Caraval by Stephanie Garber. Frankly, I never expected much from it based on the reviews from people I trust. The “honor” goes to The Grisha trilogy – or whatever it’s called now – by Leigh Bardugo. And this was tough. I met her at a book signing and I had a sort of signed bookplate (a Post-It, really) from her for Six of Crows. She was nice. The Grisha trilogy was so very hyped even years after the series ended. It almost sent me to a reading slump. I would put down the second book and have absolutely no desire to pick it back up. I didn’t like any of the main characters, especially Mal. I’ve been told that the Six of Crows duology is way better and I’m hoping it is. I also want to read her Wonder Woman book so I haven’t given up on her work.

6. Biggest Surprise
Not so much a book but a book format. Audio books. I’ve resisted for the longest time but I think I’ve found my niche. I love listening to mystery thrillers on audio. I’ve gone through most of James Rollins‘ back list through audio and loved it. I’m getting my audio books through Hoopla Digital. I mean, it still takes me ages to decide which book to listen to but I think I am getting the hang of listening to spoken word. After all, I love me some podcasts. It works for me because I do actually walk to work and that’s a little under an hour. Then I can just have it playing while I work. It’s not as immersive as reading words off a page but with the right narrator, it can be.

I could also say Him and Us by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy but I already know that I have a soft spot for m/m fiction… if my intake of yaoi fan fiction is any indication. 😉 Continue reading

WRAP-UP | SPRING [3/21/17 through 6/20/17]

Check out my WINTER wrap-up here. 

I read 38 things during the Spring season. I don’t know but that felt entirely too short. We had crazy weather here; one day it’s in the 90s then the next day, it’s 30 degrees colder. We had rainy days then incredibly humid ones with 0% precipitation. I never wore my spring cardigans or boots because the day would start out cold then would end super warm. It was unpredictable. Just like my reading.

I read a lot of manga. As of today’s count, I’ve read 35 sequential art books vs 31 actual novels. Not sorry. I just got the whole collection of Girls und Panzer manga yesterday and I have the rest of Black Butler to read. Not a lot of audio books this time. I started/continued some well-loved YA series and dipped my feet into New Adult. I thought it would be easy to narrow down the list to five favorite titles but strangely, I found it easier to list down the books that I did not like. But most of these, I’m just okay.

So here’s a list of 5 titles that I liked this season and 3 that were disappointing.

  • Uzumaki by Junji Ito. I have the deluxe edition so I read all three volumes in one sitting. And oh boy, it was so intense. It got better as it went along and the art style is yet another aspect that made it so horrific. It scared me so much that I think I am now terrified of snails. Yup. I will definitely pick up his other works in the future. For sure.
  • Train Man by Hitori Nakano. An otaku meets a pretty girl on the train and decides to let his online buddies know about his progress with her. The book is told in message board format… think Reddit. It is just so cute! I was rooting for Train Man since his first post and I was just so happy with the events. There’s a live action adaptation of this that I have yet to watch but I will.
  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. I literally finished this yesterday but I’m putting it here not just because the book was very good, the writing is spectacular. It’s so lyrical and magical. This is my first Stiefvater read and if The Raven Cycle also has these writing aspects, gimme it!
  • The Kill Switch and War Hawk by James Rollins and Grant Blackwood. I’m putting these together because I’m loving this series as a whole. Tucker and Kain is an awesome team. And I enjoyed listening to this. The narrator uses a different voice for those in the dog’s point of view. And I have a rather hot image of Tucker in my head, just sayin’. I hope they write more about these two. And Jane. 🙂
  • Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy. I read this in cumulatively 24 hours. Oh boy, yes please. This was a surprise. Well, not really. I enjoy slash and yaoi fiction and this book is an m/m New Adult and it was so hot. Wes and Jamie are so adorable. I want more of them.

Now for the three that were disappointing. It’s sad because two of these are in my most anticipated reads list.

  • Caraval by Stephanie Garber. This was painful. Oh so painful. And that sucks because I was excited for this book. I met the author and she is so darling! I received a swag bag. But I didn’t like it one bit.
  • Loop by Koji Suzuki. My least favorite from the Ring series. I mean, it’s not bad but I wasn’t into the storyline as much as I was in the first two. This sort of rewrote and disregarded the sequence of events from Ring and Spiral. But it cemented the fact that Sadako is really not the main character of this series. It’s just scarier to portray a girl with long black hair than an older and fatter office worker man.
  • The Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. I binge read this and it almost put me into a reading slump. I wanted to DNF Siege and Storm so bad but I wanted to get to the final one. I did not enjoy this trilogy at all. I didn’t care for Alina and Mal (geez step aside, boy). I wanted more Nikolai, David, and Genya. I now feel a bit apprehensive but I’m still moving forward with my Six of Crows marathon.

So it’s summer now. Happy Summer Solstice!

WRAP-UP | MAY 2017

It’s June 1. It’s less than 30 days until Anime Expo 2017!

(And yes, that is the thing with the most importance to me right now.)

I participated in one readathon this month. It’s pretty chill. Just read as many graphic novel/comic/manga as you like. And I had the perfect ones to marathon. I’m interested in joining a couple of readathons in June so we’ll see if I actually do it.

Because of this readathon, I can honestly say that this is a very good reading month. I went back to listening to audio books, did not think that reading manga is in any way cheating my GoodReads goal, started two series that I’ve been meaning to read for years, and received two unsolicited ARCs.

I’m so excited for my reading in June. I’m currently in between books (not really; I’m listening to Digital Fortress by Dan Brown) but I’m looking to continuing these trilogies that I started or going ahead and reading A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas before anything else. I have been reading other books but this one is always – ALWAYS – at the back of my mind. I feel like I’m going to slump if I don’t get this out of the way asap. But finishing series is a very good feeling. I would like to feel that way for longer.

TOTAL BOOKS READ: 15. Continue reading

#comicbooksunday | Readathon Wrap-up

How was your long weekend? I spent it resting, reading, and did a little bit of shopping!

 

I had a pretty chill weekend. I needed that break and I made the most out of it. I read a good chunk of The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski and did well on the comic book readathon last Sunday.

I read a grand total of 5 books – a 655-page manga omnibus and 4 volumes of another manga to finish off that series. I was pretty pumped for this readathon. I love manga and I wanted an excuse to read a bunch of them without feeling guilty about “padding” my Goodreads goal. I think 600+ pages isn’t at all padding anymore, right?

I bought Uzumaki by Junji Ito a few weeks ago. I’ve always wanted to read his horror work. I’ve read his Cat Diary: Yon & Mu and loved it. It’s the combination of his scary art and hilarious situations that made the reading experience so much fun. But his horror work is definitely something else. I started reading this ten minutes into the midnight of the 28th and oh boy, I couldn’t sleep right away. After finishing it, I will never look at snails the same way again.

I have the Deluxe version of this manga series. It’s three volumes in one. And it’s absolutely brilliant. It’s scary, it’s thought-provoking; the art style is superb. It is about a town overrun by spirals. That’s all I can tell you. I’m looking forward to Junji Ito’s other work, Gyo and Tomie.

I also finished A Silent Voice by Yoshitoki Ooima. I read Volumes 4 to 7 for this readathon. Actually, I was ready to call it quits after Volumes 4 and 5. I was helping out my brother with his Anime Expo primer. But on that last hour of the 28th, I managed to squeeze in Volumes 6 and 7.

This manga hit all my feelz where it hurt the most. This is about a deaf girl bullied when she was in elementary school and how she reconnected with those same people five years later. Anyone who is emotionally and psychologically bullied can find themselves within the panels of this manga. You don’t have to be deaf or disabled to be bullied. And my biggest takeaway from all of that is people don’t really change. Much. If at all. While this manga did leave me feeling a bit bitter, I still loved it.

So that’s approximately 1400 pages in 24 hours! I average that in a whole month of reading. LOL. I can’t wait to do my monthly wrap-up in a few days.

WRAP-UP | APRIL 2017

When did this happen? It’s already May. That means, it’s two months until Anime Expo. I have to start prepping.

(Yes, it shows you where my priorities lie. Not sorry lol.)

I thought I read more this month but I guess 10 is still a good number. I didn’t listen to any audio books because I wanted to go back to listening to podcasts. And boy, S-Town is pretty good. I’m not entirely sure I understand what’s going on but it’s so compelling. I want more podcasts like this one. Of course, I still listen to Sword & Scale but I’m current with it and I don’t re-listen to every single episode. I find so few podcasts keep my attention on my morning commute. These are some of them.

Maybe I’ll go back to audio books again this month. I’m looking at a few new TV shows that I might either follow or binge-watch. I plan to watch American Gods and The Handmaid’s Tale but ideally, I would want to read them first. I guess I should say, “I want to read them too”. I also have a bunch of anime that I would like to watch – and those are almost always marathons. Then again, I have a handful of books that I can’t wait to read. We’ll see. I always have manga to pad my numbers. 😉

TOTAL BOOKS READ: 10.

  • Black Butler, Volumes 7-9 by Yana Toboso. These go further into the Book of Circus arc and a bit into where the Double Charles characters come in. I have Volumes 7 & 8 five stars while Volume 9 got three. Volume 9 was rather wordy but it presented a direct adaptation to anime and was performed live by the Japanese voice actors.
  • As Red As Blood by Salla Simukka. This was my Blogging for Books read. I have a full review of it so I won’t talk about it much here. 3.5/5 stars.
  • Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo. I decided to marathon read this trilogy this month because I ordered the Six of Crows duology boxed set together with a pre-order set to arrive late April. I was super excited to finally experience this well-loved YA fantasy trilogy… only to be disappointed. I was not impressed one bit. I liked the side characters more than the main ones. The magic system didn’t make sense. I was promised Russian but all I got were Russian names. 3.5/5 stars.
  • Siege & Storm by Leigh Bardugo. But I soldiered on. I actually liked this a bit more than the first book. Mal is an awful character. I get brooding but he was just annoying. I wanted to like him but I found him immature and rather self-centered. But I did like him the most in this book. He was a bit sassy and witty… but still bitter. 4/5 stars.
  • One-Punch Man, Volume 6 by ONE. Still hilarious, still one of my favorite manga. This volume’s storyline is adapted towards the end of the anime. It’s the one with the aliens attacking the planet and none of the S-rank heroes could beat it. Saitama is such a wonderful character.
  • Ruin & Rising by Leigh Bardugo. The only thing that can redeem this trilogy for me is a whole spin-off series about Nikolai. Nothing happened until the final 1/4 of the book and even that was predictable and it felt forced. Alina had three guys to choose from. I mean, she did like all three of them. She kissed all three of them and liked it. And she ended up with my least favorite choice. Boo. Overall, this trilogy wasn’t what I expected. I’m thinking of unhauling these books… I do have them digitally anyway. 3/5 stars.
  • Champion: Graphic Novel by Marie Lu, Leigh Dragoon, and Kaari. I love these graphic novel adaptations. It condenses the book without losing anything. However, I wanted to see a specific part of the book drawn into a comic but it wasn’t there. Oh well, the ending more than made up for it. 4/5 stars.
  • Amour Amour by Krista and Becca Ritchie. Yes, a New Adult novel. I first heard about this from Sam of Thoughts on Tomes. She mentioned “Russian” and I was sold. Blame Yuri!!! ON ICE but I think that helped with my enjoyment of this book. I loved this. I got super engrossed with the story, Thora’s struggle to reach her dreams, to get there on her own, and finding love. Nikolai is not your typical alpha male… he started out like Otabek – brooding and emotionless. But towards the end, he would cry openly, express emotion, and smile… like Viktor! I got attached to one minor character, Luka. I’m so glad that he’s the protagonist in the second book, Infini. 4.5/5 stars.

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