Manga-ing My TBR || Blue Period [volumes 1 to 6]

Friday, April 15, 2022

 Ever since I got back into manga in June of last year, I've been regularly keeping up with a few series. I'd like to chat about them in a series of blog posts, and, to be honest, it will mostly be me gushing because... if I'm going to invest money and time into continuing a series, I have to really like it first! XD


Anyway, first up is Blue Period by Tsubasa Yamaguchi. To find out more about this series, please check out the synopsis >here<.



Honestly, I am not really sure where to start. Let me first let you know where I'm at with this series - I bought and read volume one last year, and then speedily devoured whatever volumes I could get my hands on (at the time of writing, I own volumes 1 to 6, excluding volume 3 which keeps going out of stock in so many places wow). As of just recently, I have finished reading volume 6 and now have to wait a few months for volume 7 to come out. I have not watched the Netflix anime series as yet - I'm really enjoying the manga at the moment and would kind of prefer to keep going with that for now, if I'm honest. Plus I'm already watching about three differents animes so...

This series is... so good. I have only had an issue with gender representation/deadnaming/incorrect pronouns in volume one (it has kind of continued on past that, but like... it's kind of complex? And the character on the receiving end of it seems to be okay with it/hasn't asked for specific pronouns to be used... Basically, I just feel like it could be handled better, but I think it also does a decent representation of how difficult it can be to figure things out as a queer person myself.) But, otherwise, I have just been really loving everything about this series.



It's so interesting, and it certainly fires me up creatively. I love learning about different things to do with art, different artist's work, and also about how artists portray themselves or the way they see the world through their work. The characters are really brilliant, too, and I really love learning more about each one. I wasn't sure I was going to like being in Yaguchi's head so much, but I've actually found him to be so relatable and interesting. I actually feel like I can't have a favourite character in this series, weirdly, because each scene just seems to make me love a different character more. Although, we do kind of spend a lot of time in Yaguchi's mind, so maybe I like him the best? Hard to say.


Either way, I really think this is a fantastic series, and I really can't wait to see where it's going. If you plan on buying the volumes, though, a word of advice: try to grab whatever you can when you see it, if at all possible. Because of a lot of stuff going on with the publishing industry (covid delays, paper shortages, etc.), many manga are not being reprinted regularly, so it can be hard to come across them sometimes, and you'll find yourself, like me, waiting several months to try and pick up volume three to complete your collection (of what has been published in English so far, that is). I do highly recommend reading it, though, if you are at all interested!




Book Review || Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li

Monday, April 11, 2022

 


Portrait of a Thief
Grace D. Li
12th April 2022

Oh, how I love being surprised and enjoying things so much more than I even thought! I was intrigued by the synopsis of this one - college students banding together to steal art back for the country it was taken from? Sign me up. But I also know myself, and I know I don't always like crime books - they're a bit too "gritty" for me generally speaking (says the person who revels in blood and gore in high fantasy... onwards!). When this arrived, I decided to sit down and read the first chapter or so, just to see if I felt like I was going to like it or not. And let me tell you, the rest was history.

Grace D. Li has such a lyrical and downright beautiful writing style - each chapter, and each perspective, gave these little moments of pause, where the character found themselves thinking about all manner of things, or just witnessing the unfolding of their own lives, and I was blown away by how Li was able to make me feel nostalgic or reminiscent for a life that I had never lived, and will never live. Each character is so beautifully drawn, failings and all, and don't even get me started on how well she painted each scene so that I felt like I could have been there with the characters as it all unfolded.

This story also manages to tackle big issues, like the theft of art from their countries of origin being displayed in museums and galleries where they are actually little more than the spoils of war, or items secretly stolen and yet somehow now the possessions of predominantly white powers around the world. It also looks at the experience of being the child of immigrants, or a child immigrant, and the difficulties of belonging, feeling like a part of one place, or possibly part of neither. Class, race, and even ties to family of origin and how they can get so hopelessly tangle: all are woven into this extraordinary book. I had to keep checking the author bio at the back of the book to confirm that this is a debut novel

If this is a debut, I cannot wait to see what Grace D. Li does next. I enjoyed every minute of my time with this book, and already have plans to reread it. Highly recommend.

10/10  bubble teas, ready to be drunk. (I think that may be my highest rating ever. XD)

(I received a review copy of this book from Hachette in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and feelings are my own. Thank you!!)

Mini Picture Book Round-Up Review

Monday, April 4, 2022

 Occasionally, reading a picture book is just a fantastic way to chill out, or look at some good art, or learn something new. Sometimes it's all of the above. And when I receive picture books for review (thank you to the publishers!), I will sit down with my partner and we will read aloud to each other and it's lovely. So here are a couple of picture books that we have read recently in mini-review form! <3



Wombat Underground
Sarah L. Thomson
Illustrated by Charles Santoso
11th January 2022

This one is about the wildfires that Australia experienced in 2019 and 2020, and is based on stories of animals taking refuge in wombat burrows. The book is beautifully illustrated - and I mean beautifully. Each animal and all of the surrounding flora are lovingly depicted, and you can see each hair on the wombat, each quill on the echidna. Pair that with the spare, but still emotional story-telling, and this book is a winner. There's a little section at the end that answers a few questions about the books content, and I really appreciated that it was written out a little more there.
This book is fantastic, and I think fulfills all my needs in a picture book - beautiful, emotional, and also educational. A real winner.

10/10 wombats dozing underground.

(I received a review copy of this book from Hachette in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and feelings are my own. Thank you!!)



Our Country: Ancient Wonders
Mark Greenwood & Frane Lessac
2nd February 2022

I was drawn to this one as I want to learn more about Australia this year and this seemed like a lovely picture book romp that might help me do that. Well, this was certainly educational. But I found it just wasn't really for me. Let me elaborate - each double-page spread talks about a different location, and gives a shorter, more picture-book-style narration, and then a larger more complex section going into a little more detail, and usually also a single sentence to describe basically what the location says about our country (for example, in an area talking about fossilised tracks, it refers to the fact that dinosaurs used to walk here).
This was good, but also kind of confusing in a way. It felt like it was trying to be three different books at once - each one for different levels of readers. While other readers may like this, I didn't really, and my partner and I kind of found ourselves struggling to read the book without getting sleepy (granted, we read this after a pretty long day, but still).
The illustration is really colourful and I loved how vibrant and saturated the whole book was. I also liked that the endpapers were maps, although I couldn't really find some of the locations spoken of on the map, which I found odd. The illustrations, whilst vibrant, were not really a style that I enjoy, and I found that also took me out of the book, along with the sometimes very specific, and sometimes very vague, story-telling.
All in all, not one I enjoyed, but still glad it exists.

5/10 old gumtrees.

(I received a review copy of this book from Walker Books in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and feelings are my own. Thank you!!)


Anticipated Releases || April

Friday, April 1, 2022

 Look! Here I am again! And in a timely manner this time! ^_^ A very short time ago, I posted a ridiculously long summary of the books I had been anticipating in January, February, and March. (Psst! You can find that >here< if you'd like to catch up!) And now I am back to talk about what I'm excited for this month!

Similarly to before, the basic key is: regular text is something I've just got on my radar, italicised text is something I am moderately interested in, and bold text is something I am ridiculously excited for and will probably be preordering. On we go!


April

~ 12th - An Arrow to the Moon by Emily X. R. Pan

~ 12th - Blue Period v7 [manga]

~ 14th - HEDGEWITCH BY SKYE MCKENNA AHHHH

~ 19th - Fevered Star (Between Earth and Sky #2) by Rebecca Roanhorse

~ 19th - The Discord of Gods (A Chorus of Dragons #5) by Jenn Lyons

~ 28th - Elektra by Jennifer Saint

~ 28th - Paint with Thread by Emillie Ferris


Okay. Wow. I'm looking at this month and am just kind of amazed by how many of these I'm super excited for.

Starting with An Arrow to the Moon, I'm quite excited for this one. I was really surprised by Emily X. R. Pan's debut, The Astonishing Colour of After, which I ended up really loving, so I am tentatively excited to pick this one up.

Next we have another volume of Blue Period, however I suspect this one has been pushed back to June, unfortunately, so I will just have to be patient there. >.<

Hahah okay on the 14th we have Hedgewitch, which I am ridiculously excited for because Skye is actually a friend of mine and I absolutely freaking love this book. I cannot wait for it to finally be out in the world so I can tell everyone to buy it and read it and just fall in love with it as much as I have. I am just so excited for Skye, and her book and writing deserve all the praise and love. (I also have an ARC version of this, and am hoping to take photos of it soon for my bookstagram <3)

Next up, Fevered Star, which is the second book in the Between Earth and Sky series. Over time, I've actually gotten more excited for this, so I think I would now change this from italics to bold, but that's partially because I've started to remember the characters and the story and oh my goodness I want more please. And so I shall soon have! Planning to preorder this one, to be honest.

The Discord of Gods is something I mentioned in a blog post not too long ago, as I read the fourth book in this series, The House of Always, in March. And if I let myself gush about this too much more, I may just implode, so suffice to say I will be preordering this book and hopefully devouring it as soon as it get into my grubby paws. (Not grubby actually, I am a very clean badger.)

Ahhh Elektra. I am definitely excited for this one, but still a little tentative? I loved Ariadne, which was Jennifer Saint's debut novel, so I guess I'm just a little nervous to go into her second novel. Will it be love at first read once again? I guess that remains to be seen.

Oh and finally we have Paint with Thread. This is actually a nonfiction selection, literally about embroidery techniques, but I'm so excited about it. I follow the artist on Instagram and just love their work, so I'm very much looking forward to getting a copy of this to devour. (And for those that didn't know, yes, I do a little bit of embroidery myself :3)


And that's it for this month! Anything on my list you're also excited about, or have I perhaps given you something to look into? Anything I didn't mention that you are dancing with excitement for? Please do tell me if you feel so inclined!


Love to all who read. <3


Releases That I Anticipated || January to March

Monday, March 28, 2022

 I honestly debate with myself about doing posts like this every year. This year, I decided I would! But then didn't do it for several months (and this is going up at the end of March... -.-;)... So I thought I would do a little mostly back-dated post for the first few months of the year, maybe talk a bit about some of the releases I have gotten my hands on, and then from here - who knows? Maybe monthly? Maybe every three months? We shall see.... <.<

Anyway, the layout of the list will be exactly the same as how I set it up in my master google doc - you will see the dates I had at the start of the year for most things (often these change, so please do your own research if you are interested in any of these!), and I have a very basic key for indicating my interest in a book. If it's in regular text, that means I'm kind of interested, might not buy it, but definitely want to see what other people think when it comes out. If it's italicised that means that I'm slightly more interested, and may pick up a copy when it comes out. If it's in bold, then that means I am super excited about it, and will probably preorder a copy/get a copy immediately after its release. Pretty basic! And sometimes I surprise myself by being more or less excited about something as I get closer the release date. So yes, please take these designations with a grain of salt, as they can change at any time! On with the show!


Please note: I have provided links to Goodreads for each book I mention, however: some of the manga is only listed in Japanese on there as far as I can find, so apologies for that! Good for adding to your shelves on Goodreads, not so good for telling you what it's about! If anyone would like a post on a specific manga series and what it's about/how I'm liking it, please just drop your request down in the comment section <3


January

~ 4th - Ragna Crimson v4 [manga] ORDERED

~ 5th - The King’s Beast v4 [manga] ACQUIRED

~ 11th - The Amber Crown by Jacey Bedford 

~ 11th - The Bone Spindle by Leslie Vedder (review copy received)

~ 18th - Temple of No God (Hall of Smoke #2) by H. M. Long [preordered, but delayed]

~ 19th - Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan ACQUIRED


Okay, let's chat about this list. To be honest, we start with one that seems to have been delayed - at least, I haven't found it in any of the usual places that I acquire manga, so I have recently ordered a copy online. Ragna Crimson is the manga series that I actually started with back in June last year when I decided to get back into manga - I found book one at my local Dymocks and decided to give it a go, and really enjoyed it. I have been continuing with it as volumes become available to me and I have the funds for them. The King's Beast is kind of similar - I got into it much later in the year last year, but I have wanted to continue reading so I preordered it at said local Dymocks and have since read it - I still love this series, even though it's not quite a five star series for me just yet. The art is absolutely beautiful, though.

The Amber Crown I heard a little bit of buzz about last year, so I added it to my list to keep an eye on. I haven't really heard anything about it, so this may be one to do some more research on! Maybe my local library has a copy...

The Bone Spindle I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of, but, even though I enjoyed the first 20% of the book, I stalled badly on it after that. Still going to go back to it soon and see if I can rediscover my joy in it, but it remains to be seen. Daughter of the Moon Goddess is actually similar - whilst I bought my own copy, I absolutely loved the first 20% or so, but then stalled and have yet to go back. We shall see!

Finally, Temple of No God is one I'm really excited to get my hands on, so I preordered it at my local Dymocks, only to be told that it had been pushed back to May. Australian release dates are really weird, so it's been hard to see the book available to buy on Book Depository and such-like, but I will work hard to be patient until it comes in for me here. I loved the first book, Hall of Smoke, so this also gives me more time for a re-read beforehand!



February


~ 15th - House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City #2) by Sarah J. Maas ACQUIRED

~ 15th - Bright Ruined Things by Samantha Cohoe

~ 15th - The Case Files of Jeweler Richard v1 [manga]

~ 15th - Blue Period v6 [manga] PREORDERED

~ 17th - The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield RESERVED LIBRARY

~ 22nd - The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh RESERVED LIBRARY 

~ 22nd - Ragna Crimson v5 [manga] ORDERED


Ah, and here we are in February. The release of the awaited second book in the Crescent City series by Sarah J. Maas. You better believe I preordered this chonky bean, and read it immediately as soon as I had my little mitts on it. I really enjoyed it - perhaps not as much as the first book, but still really loved it. Really glad I preordered it, too!

Bright Ruined Things.... I...honestly have no idea why I put this on here? I don't even remember what it's about. I might need to look into it again XD

The Case Files of Jeweler Richard is an anime that one of my besterest friends recommended to me. I watched the whole thing and loved it, and wanted more. When I saw there was going to be a manga, I added it to this list immediately. Despite that... I still haven't ordered it or anything. I'm... not sure why. I need to rectify this. [Note: I just discovered this was a series of light novels first!]

Blue Period is a manga series that I absolutely love. (I am also aware that it's an anime series on Netflix, but I'm enjoying my experience with the manga so far, so I will probably be continuing in this way for now, and will probably watch the anime later on. I am absolutely brimming with excitement that volume 6 is on its way to me as we speak, particularly because one of my favourite characters is featured on the cover. Excitements!

The Embroidered Book had a bit of buzz around it coming into this year, and I have seen some booktubers I love really adoring it, so I added it to my list. I'm really happy that my local library is getting in a copy, so I will be giving it a go sometime soon and may get my own copy if I love it a lot.

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea just sounded fantastic, and the cover is gorgeous. Also extremely happy that my local library will be getting a copy, and feeling very lucky that I have access to libraries. Yay libraries <3

Finally, another volume of Ragna Crimson. Huzzah!



March

~ 1st - Blue Period v5 [manga] ACQUIRED

~ 1st - The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman

~ 2nd/3rd - The King’s Beast v5 [manga] ORDERED

~ 8th - Crowbones (The World of the Others #3) by Anne Bishop ORDERED

~ 8th - A Far Wilder Magic by Allison Saft


Okay, I recognise that volume five of Blue Period is in March, whilst volume six was in February, but look, I'm just doing the best I can, and so are the publishers. But, basically, volume six has been somewhat delayed, and I already have a copy of volume five, so... success! I guess?
The Ivory Key... another one that I saw a little bit of buzz about last year that I have since heard virtually nothing about, so I might need to get back to researching it.
Another volume of The King's Beast... more excitements...
Ah! Crowbones! I cannot describe how excited I am for this one to arrive. (Also, damn are these hardcovers expensive!). I started this year in a bit of a reading slump, so I started re-reading the books in The Others series, which The World of the Others is kind of a spin-off from. And these books are seriously such a comfort read for me. I wish I owned more of them in their beautiful hardcover goodness, but my collection is a bit sporadic. Nevertheless, happy to (hopefully soon) have this one to add!
And, finally, because this post is way too long already, we have A Far Wilder Magic. I am so intrigued by this one. It seems magical and dark and interesting. I want to see what other people are thinking of this one, but I may see about getting my hands on a copy soon. Because, I mean, clearly my TBR is not full enough?

And there you have it, folks! If anyone took the time to sit down and read through this, I am absolutely amazed. I really enjoyed writing this, but not sure anyone else is interested in my ramblings about anticipated releases. I am already getting excited about things coming out in April, though, so I will try and have that post up in a more timely manner, so it's less me summing things up, and more me jumping up and down (virtually, of course) with excitement.

Anything that came out in these months that you were excited for? Anything I didn't mention? Please do feel free to comment, though I also understand the way of the lurker <3

Love to all who read!

What I've Been Reading || A Sequel Selection

Friday, March 25, 2022

 Sequels and series continuations - I love them, generally speaking. Sometimes a series can really suffer 'second-book syndrome' where the first book was a sight to behold, something fantastic and new and delicious, and then you get into the second book and it has so much set-up for the *next* book that you end up feeling kind of frustrated. And other times a second (or later) book can be everything you wanted and then a little bit more, and that's the kind of series-reading experience I am here for.

So! With that little intro, here are three books I recently read that are all continuations or conclusions of series! (And, yes, I am feeling mighty proud of myself for reading them!)


Empire of Gold

S. A. Chakraborty

Third and final book of the Daevabad Trilogy


This one was a looong time coming for me - I actually bought a copy as soon as it came out, but then it sat on my shelf for about... two and a half years before I had the energy to tackle it. And that is definitely not because I don't like the characters or anything - I love these characters, the political machinations and the sacrifices are just so intense that I knew I had to read this at a time when I was feeling like I could handle it. And then, finally, that time arrived. And I was not disappointed in the slightest.
Coming in at about 780 pages, this book is the chonky finisher that fans of the other books deserved. There is just so much packed in here, and after the cliff-hanger-ending of Kingdom of Copper that left me reeling, it was absolutely everything I needed it to be. The stakes are so high though that I needed to take a break or two whilst reading this - I was so scared of what was going to happen. And I cried. Oh my goodness, how I cried with some of these chapters. One in particular, with a goodbye near the end between two characters, just kind of ripped my heart out and then tried to gently put it back in a little more bruised. Chakraborty's writing only got better in this book, and I was already enamoured from the very beginning.
Oh, and apparently there's a short story collection called The River of Silver set in the Daevabad world coming out later this year? You can bet I will be preordering that one.


The House of Always
Jenn Lyons
Fourth Book in the A Chorus of Dragons series


I'm really starting to know more about myself at this point in my life, and so I know that what gets me really into a series - making me willing to stick with it for multiple books - is usually characters more than plot. But this series is just such an amazing blend of both, and it's also incredibly confusing at times, with all the rebirths/reincarnations/soul-swapping/mimics/just everything. I originally though that this series was going to be like seven books long or something similar? But it turns out that the next book - The Discord of Gods, coming late April - is going to be the last one. Part of me is incredibly impressed that I've caught up in time, and another part is already weeping bitterly that after this book...that's it. The end of the series. I can't help hoping that Jenn Lyons might write a spin-off series, or maybe some short stories that tie-in? Anyway.
This puts the 'epic' in 'epic fantasy' - the scope of this series is enormous, you are following a huuuge cast of characters (plenty of room to have multiple favourites), and the plot spans lifetimes, whilst also being in-the-moment. Every time I try to explain this series to someone else, I end up just throwing my hands up in frustration. Because, yes, it's an epic fantasy that follows a character called Kihrin who is, rather than being the hero, actually maybe the reason why the world will come to an end? But it's also so much more than that and this book, like all the others, completely caught me unawares and had me addicted, so that its 500-odd pages went flying by. I love the characters, I love the diversity, I love the story, and I love the humour. And I absolutely adore the footnotes. Simultaneously cannot wait, and am terrified for, the release of book five.

A Desolation Called Peace
Arkady Martine
Book Two in the Teixcalaan Series

Arkady Martine's writing and stories remind me a lot of Ann Leckie's Imperial Radch series, and also Yoon Ha Lee's The Machineries of Empire books, both of which I adore. This is scifi with complex political systems, characters who sometimes exist within the same body, or a single character existing within multiple bodies. It's snide comments, machinations on top of machinations, relationships that hardly make sense because they're so complex, and yet also make perfect sense because they have to. The characters in this are so multi-faceted, and you don't always know which way is up, but I love that! I love that we follow multiple characters, that we witness cultures clashing, and a layered exploration of colonialism, and conquering nations, and what it means to remain true to your culture, and how far people will go for what they believe in, and how that can be almost exactly the same as someone else and yet inspire a very different reaction or action.
Okay I'm rambling at this point.
My point is - I love these books, and I hope there are many more, and also I would probably read Arkady Martine's shopping list at this point and find it richly layered, too.


Basically, I loved all of these books! And that is so wonderful, and makes me feel like I'm on a roll with my reading line-up, and I just want this to keep happening. I hope that any sequels/continuations you read are as wonderful to you as these ones have been to me.

Love to all who read. <3




Book Review || Yesterday Crumb and the Storm in a Teacup by Andy Sagar

Monday, March 21, 2022

 


Yesterday Crumb and the Storm in a Teacup
Andy Sagar
22nd February 2022

This was so completely and absolutely glorious! From beginning to end! This story is so filled with whimsy and wonder, and just made me feel so happy (and at times giggly). Yesterday Crumb is such a fantastic main character - I found myself rooting for her, feeling with her, and just wanting to know what happened next all the way to the end of the book (which didn't change with the final page - so looking forward to the next book!). 
The other characters in here are also fantastic, and I found the main villain of the piece to be well-thought-out and interesting, and Sagar has definitely left room for many more books - which I hope to read.
And just a moment to talk about this cover - the colours are so bright and vivid in person, and a lot of the lightning is a shimmery gold which catches the light. I cannot gush about this book (and it's gorgeous cover - done by Marine Gosselin [@phlox.art on Instagram])) enough, apparently. ^^;
Basically, this was everything that I wanted and needed at the time I picked it up, and it reminded me of just how good children's/middle grade books can be - filled with adventure, whimsy, wonderful characters, and lovely messages. Andy Sagar definitely has a new fan in me. Highly recommend!

10/10 tea spirits who I would very much like to cuddle.

{I received a review copy of this book from Hachette Australia in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and feelings are my own. Thank you!!}

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