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.

Continue reading

WRAP-UP | MARCH 2017

It’s finally Spring and the weather in Southern California is going insane. One day, we get 80s and then 60s the next. The day would start with a very humid mid-50s only to go up to 80s by midday and then 60s at night. It’s tricky dressing up every morning for work; either you’re stuck in the heat and humidity in a sweater or chilly in short sleeves.

But it did bring (the illusion) of longer days. It would be 8PM and there’s still light in the sky. “Longer” days meant I can do more thing before my body clock starts winding down and I turn into an anime binge monster. Then I guess that is so. 🙂

I made a Spring TBR and since then, I’ve been very conscious about which books to read next. I’m trying not to pressure myself too much though. The reason why I never really did TBRs is because I refer to it a lot and I self-destruct when I don’t feel like reading any of them and end up just quitting, which then leads to a slump. We don’t want that. Right now, I think I made a doable list and I hope to get to the majority of them. In fact, I already read a few titles off of that already.

Last month, I read 3 books that are over 600 pages. And I’ve accepted that manga will always be in the mix not just as filler for my GoodReads goal. I genuinely enjoy it so expect a good chunk of my monthly wrap-up to include a bunch of manga.

TOTAL BOOKS READ: 12.

  • Black Butler, Volumes 4-6 by Yana Toboso. It’s the Indian Butler and Book of Circus arcs. As you know, the 2nd season of the anime is an original story and does not exist in the manga. Thank goodness for that. These two are my favorite arcs and I love the manga versions just as much as I do the anime. I gave Volume 4 a 4-star rating while Volumes 5 and 6 both got 5 stars. Soma, Agni, and Joker (especially his Japanese voice actor, Mamoru Miyano) are all so close to my heart.
  • A Conjuring of Light by VE Schwab. All the feelz. This was a fitting conclusion to the trilogy. Everyone found closure. A part of me doesn’t want anything else from this story. I mean, a lot of other books release novella collections, graphic novel continuations, POVs from other characters, etc. I sort of don’t want that for this ‘verse. But another part of me wants a graphic novel version of this. I loved it. Five stars, as if that was any question.
  • Orange, Volumes 4 & 5 by Ichigo Takano. As I am still and will always be Team Suwa, I finally finished this gorgeous piece of a manga. I find myself re-reading certain parts as I would rewatch certain episodes of the anime. This was just beautiful. That’s all. Five stars for both.
  • The 6th Extinction by James Rollins. Audio book but still counting the pages. I didn’t enjoy this as much as other James Rollins work. I’ve read and listened to the other Sigma Force novels and I know their general formula. But this one didn’t hook me all that much. I mean, I still followed the story enough but I realized that I wasn’t really listening as closely. I got lost a couple of times. But I did listen to this pretty quickly. I might re-read this in the future. 3/5 stars.
  • Battle Royale by Koushun Takami. Holy shit. That should be enough for a review for this masterpiece. Oh boy, and you thought The Hunger Games was brutal with the idea of killing children. Add to that the explicit explanation on how the children are killed. Yup, this does not hold back. I would definitely read this again. 5/5 bloody stars.
  • A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro. After the blood and gore, I needed something light and fun. This was definitely that. It was a bit confusing but it did what it said it would. I breezed through this quickly. A light read indeed. 3/5 stars.
  • Barakamon Volume 2 by Satsuki Yoshino. I save this series for those times when I’m in between books and I just want a distraction. I know I will like this; I love Naru and the gang. 4/5 stars.
  • Caraval by Stephanie Garber. I’m calling this the biggest letdown of 2017. I don’t understand why this was so hyped up to begin with. No, I know. It’s the reference to The Night Circus. Effective but dang, you set yourself up for failure, dear book. This was not good. I’m debating whether to do a full review on this but there are other amazing reviews on GoodReads that basically say what I want to say and then some. While I did get over the writing “style”, Scarlett was just impossible. 1/5 star.
  • Train Man by Nakano Hitori. After that not-so favorable reading experience, I wanted a pick-me-up. This book literally arrived the night before I read it and finished it inside of 24 hours. Having read two Japanese fiction books this month means I’m back on track with my “one Japanese fiction a month” sort of goal for this year. I absolutely loved this little gem. This is told in forum postings in a channel called 2-chan. Sort of 4-chan and reddit, if you’re into that. BANZAI FOR THE GEEKS! It’s a cute story about a shy geek guy and how he meets this girl that seems like out of his league. I love it. Go read it. 5/5 stars.

STATS:

  • 4142 pages – counting audio books as if I read the physical books
  • 1 audio book – ~14 hours

As for my book-buying… I did so well this month! I didn’t buy anything from the Book Outlet sale. Actually, I filled a cart but when I looked through it again I realized that I have no dire need for any of those titles. So I guess that’s an improvement? I felt like this with makeup last year. I would look at makeup but there would be no urge to buy it. I still love books (and makeup) but I think I’ve controlled my urges now. 😉

(Or so I tell myself LMAO.)

I bought three signed books last month. Two of them, I already previously had unsigned. But hey, whatever. XD

  • The Magicians by Lev Grossman – Book Alley, Pasadena. It was a random Thursday where I had to go somewhere after work but I didn’t have a book on me. I’ve always wanted to read this despite the not-so favorable reviews.
  • Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino – Book Alley, Pasadena. Signed. I already had this in paperback but I just had to get the signed copy of this.
  • Train Man by Nakano Hitori – Barnes & Noble. I needed a copy of this book. I needed a couple of dollars more for free shipping. Read. Loved.
  • A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi – Barnes & Noble. I pre-ordered this so I also got the free novella, Death & Night.
  • Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter – Goodwill. I remember wanting this book because of the cover and it’s about Russia. Other than that, I don’t know anything. It’s a short book. I hope to get to this eventually.
  • The Young Elites by Marie Lu – AbeBooks. Signed. Now all three of my Young Elites trilogy books are signed copies.
  • A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro – I finally gave in and bought the signed copy from Target.

This was the best reading month for me so far this year. I enjoyed a good chunk of what I read and wanted pretty much everything that I hauled. Let’s keep this up!

WRAP-UP | WINTER [12/21/16 through 3/20/17]

It wasn’t hard for me to narrow down the my best reads of Winter to five titles. I read a total of 32 books, most of them are manga. I also listened to quite a few audio books. Overall, I’m happy with my result.

While I did read a lot of good books, here are five that stood out the most (in no particular order):

  • The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson. The first book in the Mistborn trilogy. It’s a perfect starting point for fantasy. I was surprised at how easy it was to follow despite having such a large cast of characters and a not-so-simple magic system. The language was so readable. I cannot wait to get to the rest of the series… and Sanderson’s other works.
  • Spiral by Koji Suzuki. This is the 2nd book in the Ring series. I rated this 4 stars while I gave the first book 5 stars. But I chose this instead. Honestly, this is scarier, gorier, and more compelling than Ring. I was already familiar with Ring even before I realized it was a book. I gave it 5 stars because I had never read anything like it. Going into Spiral, it has somewhat the same formula – a mysterious virus that kills certain people. But oh boy. This was terrifying.
  • Battle Royale by Koushun Takami. I finally got to this masterpiece. If you thought The Hunger Games were good, you haven’t seen anything yet. There is YA and there’s Japanese YA. You have your usual young adult characters, romance, teenage angst, bullies, and school problems. Add about a ton of violence, blood, guts, gore, guns, knives, beheading, explosions, and evisceration. Yup. It makes Peeta’s abduction a vacation.
  • A Conjuring of Light by VE Schwab. The third and final book to the Shades of Magic trilogy. This was a pretty solid conclusion. I got all the feelz — dread, wondering what will happen to my faves; happiness, because they found theirs; sadness, for there were things lost. It was so good.

  • Orange by Ichigo Takano. This 5-volume manga is absolutely beautiful. Gorgeous. Also, all the feelz. Watch the anime. Watch the live action. Read the manga. Everything!

What are your top reads last winter? What is your most anticipated reads for spring? 🙂

WRAP-UP | FEBRUARY 2017

February is the shortest month of the year. Even shorter this year because we don’t have the 29th. Reading-wise, I did okay. But the thing that stood out was the amount of signed and full-priced books that I acquired this month. I buy books at full price very seldom – only if they come signed, really. But I went to two back-to-back author events and found signed copies of books that I love. When did I ever been this concerned about new releases?

I fully had a TBR in my head for February. I wanted to read books with a romantic aspect. Not contemporary or new adult. Just anything with romance in it. I also planned to finish Orange but I started Black Butler instead. And I actually played around with the idea of a March TBR but given my history with them, I dunno. LOL.

Anyway, I still call this a good month. I could’ve done better but my anticipation for A Conjuring of Light by VE Schwab got in the way of everything. I actually did start it in February but only finished it yesterday. Yep, I was destroyed. But that’s for the next wrap-up.

TOTAL BOOKS READ: 10.

  • Black Butler, Volumes 1-3 by Yana Toboso. I’ve been meaning to read this manga series for a long time. I recently watched the entirety of the anime and loved it. I didn’t love the second season then I find out it’s an anime original. Well, that explains it. To be honest, I’m a bit lukewarm towards the manga. It’s still fun but it definitely benefited from seeing the pictures move. I still enjoy it and squee whenever Finnian is on the page. I can actually hear Grell’s and Lizzie’s Japanese voices when I read their panels! I’m definitely continuing with it.
    • Volume 1 – 3/5 stars
    • Volume 2 – 4/5 stars
    • Volume 3 – 3/5 stars
  • Orange, Volumes 2 & 3 by Ichigo Takano. I don’t know why I’m taking my time with this finished series. I mean, I know what happens – I watched the anime and live action. Still, I have one more volume to go (as of this posting). I love it. I think I’ll end  up rating all five volumes a full five star. I was actually just rewatching the 9th episode this morning. The more I do that, the more I’m sure that I’m Team Suwa. I love Kakeru but Suwa’s taking a MAJOR one for the team. Both 5/5 stars.
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. Oh dear. This book. I finally cave only to have my initial hesitations prove me right. I posted a word vomit about this when I was around halfway through the book. I have a full review outlined that I might not post because it really just boils down to one question: how was this a good book? Harsh, I know. But I just don’t get why people literally puke and cry over this book and the rest of the author’s work. Granted I will still read the next one but this time, with the mindset that this is strictly a guilty pleasure read. I may or may not post a full review for this book but let’s just say that I don’t get the hype. 3/5 stars. And that’s me being generous.
  • Rad Women Worldwide by Kate Schatz. I should do better with my Blogging For Books reviews. I got this almost two months before reading and reviewing it but it only took me an hour to read it. I loved it. This should be in every library. I hope there’ll be a second volume. 5/5 stars.
  • The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi. I’m torn with this. At first, I loved it. It was atmospheric, the Indian culture was rich and lovely. But then the purple prose started to weigh on me. It got tedious. The writing is already beautiful even without the flowery words but it got too much. All that bogged down my reading experience. The romance was sweet though. I already pre-ordered the next book; that comes out later this month. 3/5 stars.
  • The Bone Labyrinth by James Rollins. More Kowalski, please. This is another audio book but I’m counting pages. I am enjoying these in the audio format (I’m listening to another Rollins audio book right now). But I also think that I will eventually re-read them in physical form. These books are very formulaic but never boring. 4/5 stars.
  • Sorako by Takayuki Fujimura. I borrowed this one on a whim from Hoopla Digital. It’s about Sorako, a young woman who just graduated and is on the hunt for a job. It’s a collection of short stories in manga form. It was okay, nothing mind-blowing. 3/5 stars.

STATS:

  • 2649 pages – counting audio books as if I read the physical books
  • 1 audio book – ~15 hours

As for my February haul… like I said, I went to two author events, meeting six authors: Leigh BardugoS. Jae-JonesMarie LuJessica Cluess, and Stephanie Garber. I got Leigh Bardugo’s autograph on a Post-it note as kind of a book plate. Then I got a couple of books signed. On top of that, I bought a couple of signed editions. And a mini-Book Outlet order. Here’s the list:

  • Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones – Vroman’s Bookstore on release date
  • The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi – Vroman’s Bookstore during the Wintersong event
  • Caraval by Stephanie Garber – Vroman’s Bookstore during author signing
  • A Conjuring of Light by VE Schwab – Barnes and Noble, signed pre-order
  • The Midnight Star by Marie Lu – Barnes and Noble, signed edition
  • The Rose Society by Marie Lu – Book Outlet, signed edition
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi – Book Outlet
  • A Thousand Naked Strangers by Kevin Hazzard – Book Outlet
  • Recent Forgeries by Viggo Mortensen – Better World Books
  • Linger by Viggo Mortensen – Better World Books

Honestly, this book haul looks like a TBR list. I already read two out of the list. Notice that I’m missing the first book in The Young Elites trilogy. Well, I recently bought it. And yes, also signed. 😉

That’s my wrap-up. I’m still thinking about a possible TBR for March. Who knows. I got a lot of new releases. I’m inspired.