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.

#comicbooksunday | Readathon

It’s been a while since I participated in a readathon. And with the long weekend coming up, this is the perfect time to do it!

I recently watched Julie from Pages and Pens unbox this month’s OwlCrate and while I don’t personally subscribe to any book boxes, I love watching them. She happened to mention a 24-hour readathon happening over the weekend hosted by Elliot Brooks and ThatBookie. It’s the Comic Book Readathon. (Click for Facebook group.)

It’s going to be on Sunday, May 28th. All day.

The title might say “comic book” but I will be reading manga. I’ve seen other announcement videos call it “graphic novel readathon” and they did say we can read manga as well. As you know, I am a manga girl. I much prefer reading right to left than left to right. And they’re very easy reads. I could go through 4-5 volumes in one sitting. But I don’t always do that. I feel a bit guilty when I do because it feels like I’m merely padding my GoodReads goal. I have so many unread books but here I am reading 120-page volumes that are mostly pictures.

However, I really do enjoy it. Maybe not as much as I love anime but it’s up there. It’s the only time when I don’t mind reading the source material after watching it on screen – and vice-versa. So here are my picks for this readathon:

  • A Silent Voice by Yoshitoki Ooima. Volumes 4-7. I want to finish this series. It’s beautiful. Not Orange level but beautiful.
  • Uzumaki by Junji Ito. I have the whole omnibus! I may be picking up another one this Friday. I also am very interested in reading Tomie.
  • Battle Royale: Angels’ Border by Koushun Takami. I’m not 100% on this but I have it on hand and I absolutely love Battle Royale. 

Again, May 28th, Sunday, 24 hours. Use the hashtag #comicbooksunday if you’re participating through Twitter and/or Instagram. Do share your TBRs below. I’m always open to new-to-me titles. 🙂

Word Vomit: Unsolicited ARCs

There was a time when I actively accepting books for review. I had the whole shebang: review policy, a dedicated e-mail address, Facebook page, and an actual schedule. I entered all the giveaways and downloaded all the eARCs. But that eventually got overwhelming. I was acquiring books faster than I was able to read them. Reviewing them is another thing all together. Then the books that I was getting end up either not being my cup of tea or just plain ol’ bad. After a while, it became a chore. It wasn’t fun anymore.

It led me to a rather long hiatus from book blogging. I eventually got back to it but I let go of the whole “free book in exchange of a review” thing. I’d much rather read and sometimes review books that I actually wanted to read, stuff that I am genuinely interested in. I still entered giveaways but only for those books that I truly wanted. Like the Blogging for Books platform for example.

But having said that, it still blows my mind how from time to time, I get unsolicited ARCs. And for that, I am extremely grateful. I’m sure I get those not because of the “quality” of my reviews; hell, I barely have any. Or because my blog/posts caught the publisher’s eye. No, I think it’s because they got my address from a pre-order program or those random sign-up posts on Facebook offering early copies of books.

And I got three unsolicited ARCs in the past three days!

  • The Breakdown by BA Paris. I also received an ARC of Behind Closed Doors. This comes out in the US, July 18th.
  • The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich. This is from Flatiron Books. I signed up for the pre-order promo for Caraval. This comes out May 16th.
  • The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry. I think I got this from Penguin Random House. This comes out in the US, June 6th.

Many thanks to these publishers and authors for sending me these ARCs. I will do my best to get to them. I can’t promise a review on this blog but definitely updates and reactions on Goodreads.

It still makes me smile when I get ARCs, whether I receive them from publishers or chance on them at a bookstore (which you’re not supposed to sell ARCs, yakno).

What’s your favorite ARC that you own? Me, I have two copies of the Red Rising by Pierce Brown ARCs that are pocket-sized. [The one on top in this photo.) I got them from the same $1 bookstore on different dates. I actually do want to acquire ARCs for Golden Son and Morning Star, if possible. Eventually. Maybe.

 

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!