The Kings Beast Vol. 1 Review

Summary

The Kings Beast by Rei Toma is set in the same world as Toma’s Dawn of the Arcana series in which humans and Ajin live amongst each other. Some Ajin are gifted special abilities and those who are get assigned to serve the princes of the imperial palace as beast-servants.

The Kings Beast follows Rangetsu, as she disguises herself as a man to get close to the prince who her brother once served. She suspects the prince of murdering her twin brother only to find that prince Tenyou is not who she expected him to be.

Review

I was absolutely thrilled to find out that The Kings Beast would be taking place in the same world as Dawn of the Arcana. I can remember getting the first volume of Dawn of the Arcana with my grandparents at this little Coles bookstore at the mall where they live. I was drawn to the cover immediately and ended up finishing the book the same day. I loved the lore created around the world, the artwork and the way that the character’s were introduced.

In The Kings Beast I felt certain moments were rushed, and I feel that this is because there is the assumption that readers of this series have already completed Dawn of the Arcana. I think this quick introduction to “the gifts” that the Ajin possess is fine for those who know this series lies within the same world and who were previously introduced to that, however it could be a bit confusing for those who have never read or heard of Dawn of the Arcana.

Rangestu is perceived as weak in stature, many believing that she is a young boy. Some of the comments made by prince Tenyou remind me of when I played Viola in Twelfth Night back in university (and I played Viola a lot). He comments on her small frame, her boyish voice, her long lashes–those unfamiliar with Twelfth Night could compare this to Mulan when Li Shang is entranced by her while believing she is Ping.

Rangestu has spent years trying to become the best fighter, in order to be considered a good match for the prince whom she believes has killed her twin brother Sogetsu. There is a coldness in her frames, some of which where she is shown putting on a pained smile. She has one goal and that is to avenge her brother’s death.

Personally, I would have liked to see Rangetsu and Tenyou dance around each other a bit before it is revealed that he was not the one who had her brother killed. I like that Tenyou comes to the realization that she’s related to Sogetsu, but it would have been interesting to have that revealed near the end of this first book rather than earlier on. I also enjoyed watching others close to Tenyou, test Rangetsu but I found at times Rangestu was too outspoken for an Ajin.

It is mentioned early on in the book that Ajin are viewed as lower class, and that if they attack or speak out against a human they can be killed, so having Rangestu in the palace being so outspoken seemed a bit off to me. I wish that she had taken the time to try and hide her true intentions, mainly because she has worked so hard to get to this point.

Overall, despite a few small criticisms I enjoyed this first volume and would definitely recommend it to those who enjoy fantasy, shojo and historical manga’s. I would also highly recommend this to those who are familiar with Rei Toma’s work, especially Dawn of the Arcana as it was fun being reintroduced to this world and seeing how things are for different Ajin and human’s living in another region.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

4 Stars

Daytime Shooting Star Vol. 8 Review *spoilers*

I recently completed volume 8 of Daytime Shooting Star, and I have to admit the lack of Mr. Shishio definitely improved my reading experience. I like this series a lot but I find that my ratings flop between 4 and 5 star simply because of his character. It’s the scenes where Suzume is feeling completely vulnerable and insecure that I find both frustrating and upsetting, because she’s a kid in her first relationship and this grown man who is not only her teacher but also friends with her uncle is exploiting that.

This volume was fantastic because he wasn’t as present, and the story focused more on Suzume and her relationship with her friends, mother and uncle.

In the last volume I was thrilled when her uncle was furious with Shishio upon finding out about him and Suzume. I applauded.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate Mr. Shishio. I like that he contradicts himself. I like that he’s a flawed character…I just don’t like the toxic relationship he has with Suzume. I know that the author Mika Yamamori has also expressed that many of her readers dislike him and I think it’s possibly because we’re seeing how problematic this relationship is.

I felt the same when rereading a favourite series of mine called Papillon by Miwa Ueda, where the leading protagonist Ageha dates her school guidance counsellor. It’s unsettling.

I understand that these two manga’s do fall under the umbrella of teen drama’s and forbidden love tropes but I can’t help but feel uncomfortable while breaking down these couples relationships. Suzume is completely crushed at this point in the series and had been working so hard to try to seem more grown up while spending time with Shishio outside of school. She felt so much pressure in the relationship, where his own concern was people finding out that he’s dating his student.

Back when I was in high school I didn’t think twice about this trope. I was eating up the drama. I was the same age as these female leads…now I’m the same age as their male love interests and certain scenes make me feel sick to my stomach. I still love the series, and I still enjoy the leading ladies of these books but I just can’t ship these characters. As a teenager I barely questioned it at all.

This must be what Pretty Little Liar’s fans felt like. I know that when I watched the first season of Riverdale I was pretty grossed out by the whole Archie x Grundy thing.

I have a feeling that I probably rant about this series a lot, and some might say, “Well if you don’t like the Student-Teacher trope then why do you still read it?” but honestly, it’s a good series. The story is compelling, the characters are engaging and the artwork is lovely. I was actually relieved when Mr. Shishio was called out for dating Suzume and acknowledged that what he was doing was wrong. I had hoped he would have called off the relationship before allowing things to escalate. I had hoped that in those moments where the reader gets a glance into his thoughts that he would push back, acknowledge how his behaviour and decide that it would be best to keep Suzume at a distance…but even when he did, he ended up pursuing this relationship with her and that was the point where I was like “Bruh. What the heck are you doing?”

Part of me hopes that they wont magically get back together but at the same time I’m doubtful.

The only series that I’ve read where this type of trope was criticized was Mars, which if I highly recommend, but I will give trigger warnings for various topics of abuse, self-harm and suicide.

I’ve noticed these topics in a lot of 90s shojo series…even ones that are considered comedies, so I always like to give a bit of a warning to anyone who may find these topics unsettling.

Going back to Daytime Shooting Star, as I mentioned before I used to read these tropes all the time. One of my favourite series was Dengeki Daisy, but in it Teru doesn’t get with Kurosaki while she’s still in high school. It is heavily implied that he refuses to acknowledge his feelings for her and won’t date her because of this. There are some other things about this that are clearly problematic and I do plan on rereading the series in the near future, since I own every volume…but it was the fact that he acknowledged that she was a teenage girl and decided not to pursue a relationship that I liked at the time. I believe I was like 17 to 20 when I was reading this series so again, my perspective may change like it did with Papillon.

Daytime Shooting Star has so much to offer. I rated volume 8 a full 5 stars! I just can’t review this series without discussing the problematic relationship between Suzume and Mr. Shishio. It caused her so much anxiety, and then upon the end left her depressed. It hurt seeing her that way and watching her friend encourage her to get with this older man who is clearly has an unfair power dynamic in their relationship.

Mamura, the other love interest in this series is protective of Suzume and I hated how in the last volumes this came across as him finally stepping up to be a rival when it in fact he was straight up calling out his teacher for having an extremely inappropriate relationship with a female student. Mamura is a good friend, and I’m glad that in volume 8 Suzume realizes this. I know that putting the spotlight on his character is meant to show him as a potential love interest but it is clear why most readers rooted for him from the beginning.

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series and keeping my fingers crossed that Suzume’s ending is a good one…but I’m somewhat doubtful that her and Mamura will end up together as the forbidden love trope tends to be one that really draws audiences in, in terms of drama. Perhaps if they had been college students, and Mr. Shishio was her TA I would feel slightly more comfortable with the relationship…but as of now I’m just glad her uncle put him in his place.

Somethings Wrong With Us – Manga Review

The other day I finished reading the first three volumes of Somethings Wrong With Us by Natsumi Ando. I picked up the first volume after looking it over a few times. I thought the cover was beautiful, and the blurb on the back was intriguing.

From Goodreads: A spine-chilling and steamy romance between a Japanese sweets maker and the man who framed her mother for murder–Something’s Wrong With Us is the dark, psychological, sexy shojo series readers have been waiting for!


This series has gone above and beyond my expectations. That’s not something I usually say when it comes to shojo. Most are predictable and follow the same set of rules, but this one reminds me of thriller series like Monster or Blood on the Tracks. It still encompasses shojo elements and tropes, but there is so much more to this story than two characters who seem drawn together. There is an eeriness…or a loneliness that lingers in the text. It’s almost worse than a cliffhanger. This is one of those series that I couldn’t put down. I had to know what was coming next. I needed to see how this mystery unravels.

Surprisingly…at least to myself, I don’t read a lot of mysteries. I enjoy them immensely, especially when I watch them. I read more of them as a kid but for some reason as I got older I strayed away from the genre. These types of books are always so much fun. I love trying to guess whats going to happen next. I love the how high the stakes are raised in these types of stories! It’s exciting!

This series blends genres so well, and on top of that the artwork is gorgeous. I can also tell that a lot of research went into this series. I’m not a confectioner or anything, but I’ve really enjoyed learning about how much work goes into creating sweets and the amount of attention to detail confectioners have. This really adds something to the characters…and although the two leads have this in common, their approaches to it are vastly different.

The leading lady of this story is Nao. It’s hard not to connect with her off the bat. She’s determined, thoughtful, and passionate. She seems like the type of person who would be a very loyal and compassionate friend.

Tsubaki on the other hand is difficult to read. His character is a puzzle itself, especially to Nao who knew him when they were children. His actions often don’t reflect what he says. The one thing that is clear about his character, aside from his disciplined actions is that he’s lonely.

I like that Nao and Tsubaki both contrast and compliment one another. Their dynamic is interesting. Nao seems to have a push and pull method to their relationship. She’s constantly fighting herself internally, as she doesn’t want to get close to him, while Tsubaki’s intentions are often confusing.

Personally, I think that he feels drawn to her but doesn’t know if he can trust her. He can’t even trust his own family members…which is sad. It’s as though both him and Nao are orphans, despite Tsubaki’s mother still being alive.

I’m very curious to see what’s in store for these two in the next volume!

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Manga Recommendations

I’ve been plowing through my manga TBR lately and I’m pleased to say each of the new series I’ve started has been wonderful. A lot of them remind me of spring, and with the warm weather I’ve begun prepping a list of books to read outside.

First on my list is…

Waiting for Spring

I’ve only read volume 1 so far, but there was such a warmth to this first book that made me want to get my hands on the rest of the series as soon as possible!

The story follows a high-schooler named Mizuki who is struggling to make friends in her first year. She’s very shy, and struggles to reach out and open herself up to others.

After a series of events, she ends up being befriended by a group of boys from the schools basketball team.

I found Mizuki very easy to relate to and her new friends are incredibly funny, sweet and endearing.

I’m glad that I decided to take a chance on this series! I’ll definitely be doing a longer review of it in the near future, but I’ve been working and editing and haven’t had the time to type out my reviews haha.

I gave this first volume a full 5 stars!

The next book on my list…or I should say the next series is…


Love Me, Love Me Not

I’ve raved on and on about Io Sakisaka’s work here on my blog, and if you follow me on Goodreads, you’ll know that I’ve been reading this series now that the official English translations are available!

I adore every single leading character in this series. I constantly feel the need to scream “protect Yuna at all costs!” because she’s so precious. She’s just such a sweet, generous and thoughtful character.

This is one of those series where you can’t help but root for everyone. As the reader, you feel drawn to the cast, which is something that Io Sakisaka does really well with her shojo romances. All of her characters are relatable to some degree, and each have a clear goal in mind.

I like that compared to some of her previous work, these characters aren’t all simply striving towards the goal of gaining the affection of another…but are also discovering themselves and learning to love who they are!

I think as of the 3rd volume in the series, that Yuna is my favourite character, because I’ve gotten to see her become more and more confident in herself each volume.

5 stars!


A Sign of Affection

This book was fantastic! I’m so excited for the next volume to come out. Firstly, that artwork was breath-taking. I don’t know how else to describe it. It was lovely.

A brief summary: Yuki is a college student, who meets Itsuomi, a classmate of her best friend, who helps her on the train when a foreigner asks for directions.

Itsuomi speaks several languages, but doesn’t know sign language, which is what Yuki uses. Yuki offers to teach him so that the two of them can be friends. This friendship soon begins to blossom into something more…

The way sign language was incorporated throughout this book was excellent. It’s clear that the team did their research, and consulted with several sources when deciding to incorporate it into this manga. It was handled with respect and care.


I loved Yuki as the lead. She’s sweet, funny and genuine. She’s such a bright, warm, relatable character. I connected with her instantly and I absolutely adore her friends. There isn’t a single character in this book that I dislike!

5 Stars!


Daytime Shooting Star

CW: Student-teacher relationship and gaslighting…

I was ranting about this series to one of my co-workers the other day. I’ve reviewed the earlier volumes here on my blog, and each time the comment is the same.

Great series, but the teacher love interest thing really bugs me.

This volume however, which is volume 7 in the series had me cheering! I don’t want to give away any major spoilers for anyone who hasn’t read it, but Mr. Shishio gets whats coming to him.

It sucks because I like his character, I just hate his actions. He constantly questions his relationship with Suzume and YET continues to do the wrong thing…which just makes me so angry.

The story line is really well done. Watching all the anxiety and just…self-doubt that Suzume has in this volume is upsetting and there were definitely events in the previous volumes that lead up to this. I’m 100% going to finish this series because it’s really good!

I also love how in this volume the Mika Yamamori mentioned how almost all her readers hate Mr. Shishio. I found that so funny.

I really just want Suzume to be okay…because watching her go through all of this stress and anxiety makes me so sad. Like…I’m almost protective of her at this point. She’s just, such a good kid. I hate seeing her go through this.

This series overall at this point is a 4.5. Well written, lovely artwork but Mr. Shishio makes my stomach turn.

I also thought I would include a content warning above, as I know there are people out there who were in this type of situation and that this series may be a trigger for them. I feel its necessary for this series…especially with volume 7. Like…it hit hard.


A Perfect World

This series is extremely well researched. I was shocked. Not because I didn’t expect them to research spinal chord injuries, but because they didn’t gloss over anything…like they actually go into detail about the difficulties people in this type of relationship can face.

The cover of this book is beautiful, but unfortunately the image quality of it on Goodreads isn’t great.

To give some background, my Dad’s job is building and adjusting wheelchairs. So over the years, I’ve learned a few things here and there about different types of seat cushions, foot rests…that sort of thing, and how each chair should be specifically set for that particular person based on factors like their height, their usage (how often they’ll be in the chair) and the injury they have.

So when I saw all of this INCLUDED in this manga, I was like “Whoa! This is really detailed!”

Clearly, I’m not an expert on wheelchairs or spinal injuries. I’m not my Dad–I studied English Literature and Creative Writing–but from just going to work with him over the years and listening to him talk about some of the builds he’s done, I know that the authors really took the time to make sure that they learned everything they could when they decided to create this series.

I also love that the relationship isn’t heavily glamorized. I’ve seen this done in films and often it falls into the “sick girl/sick boy” trope which kind of…at least in my personal opinion has become a branch off of the manic pixie dream girl trope.

This series isn’t like that at all! These two people, Tsugumi and Itsuki are navigating their relationship, and learning about themselves as individuals and themselves as a couple. Tsugumi, although she loves him feels as though she isn’t doing enough for Itsuki whereas Itsuki believes that he’s holding Tsugumi back. The two of them are constantly trying to make life easier on the other, and questioning whether they’re a good match. The relationship is new to the both of them…and their actions don’t just have an effect on each other but on their family and friends as well.

I really love how thoughtful this series is, and I would definitely recommend it. I’ve read books 1-3 so far.

5 Stars!

Ultra Maniac – Manga Review

I started reading Ultra Maniac back in January while I was off work during our…second or third lock down. At this point I’ve lost count of how many lock down’s there have been but I had plenty to read so, it wasn’t like I was bored or anything.

Anyway, I remembered this manga being kind of silly as a kid. I didn’t read it at the time but had a lot of friends who absolutely adored it. I ended up reading up to the first bit of volume three before I switched to something else.

Compared to Marmalade Boy, this story more mild in terms of drama. In fact it kind of reminds me of a Disney sitcom, or even the older Sabrina the Teenage Witch comics, where every spell would get her into some kind of trouble.

I couldn’t help but think about Sabrina or the Bewitched series, while I read Ultra Maniac. It wasn’t because they were mimicking one another, or pulling directly from these sources but mainly because the witch character was this kind of goofy, always getting herself or others into mischief kind of girl. She’s that fun, quirky, kind of weird girl that you can’t help but like.

Ultra Maniac is all right. It’s not the best manga I’ve ever read but it isn’t bad. It’s a light hearted comedy about friendship, that also happens to involve a pinch of magic.

The character’s are fun, and the artwork is charming. It’s exactly what I would expect from a story about a seventh grade girl with a crush, who suddenly befriends a witch.

That being said, I think if I were younger maybe in the sixth or seventh grade I might have enjoyed this story a little more. However, I still read middle grade fiction every now and then and the majority of books I read at that age, that I still own, hold up to this day. Perhaps my initial disinterest in this series as a tween was because I just couldn’t get into the series. As far as middle school fantasy manga’s, I’ll stick with Sugar Sugar Rune.

My rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Three stars. It was okay. Not great. Not boring. Just, didn’t keep my interest to finish the whole series. However, if you like cute stories with magic, friendship and comedy I think it’s definitely worth checking out. Plus, I really loved the fashion in this series.


Reviewing a book I auditioned for!

I decided to request an ARC copy of a book I auditioned for earlier this month and was accepted. I loved the passages for the little sister that I got to read for my audition.

I love audio book auditions because I get a sneak peak at new books before they’re even offered as ARCs and before I unbox them at work. One of my favourite things to do at my part-time job is unbox the new releases. It’s so exciting seeing that final cover design, and…the new book smell. It is a thing! It is so comforting. Old book smell is its own comfort, but to me the most comforting thing about an old book is the bends in the spine, the gently crumbled pages and the slight browning of the paper.

I’m so excited to read this book. I was actually going to buy it when it released and review it anyway! It was already on my TBR.

I was also accepted for a bunch of other ARCs, but I’m currently reading the one and am hoping to finish it by the end of the week so that I can post the review. I’m going to be reviewing the Anne of Green Gables manga sometime this month as well, since I was accepted for that.

Fun fact: I’m that typical Canadian who loves L.M Montgomery. Anne, Emily. My favourite adaptation of Emily was the anime actually! I liked the live action show and I’d actually love if Netflix picked it up and revamped it…but they should definitely do it the way the anime was done because it followed the books. No one was turning into a kelpie. I mean, yah I’m Scottish on my Dad’s side but like…the random Scottish folklore being thrown in during those later seasons was…out of genre for how the series started. If they’d always talked about her having second sight and such earlier on, it wouldn’t have been so random. I liked it, but the genre switch was completely random.

Anne with an E was definitely well done in my opinion. I know of a handful of people who didn’t like it because it wasn’t as light and cheery as the previous adaptations (I own a bunch of those on VHS). I have yet to see a version of Anne that I can say I absolutely hate. The films and Anne with an E in my personal opinion, captured Anne, Diana and Gilbert well. Actually, I’ve found that the show versions of Diana truly grasp how important her friendship is to Anne in a way that the films (mainly because of the time length) aren’t able to capture.

Well, that’s enough about Anne.

I’m looking forward to reading these ARCs! I have high hopes for several of these books, but I’m also a bit nervous. I’m always open to reading new authors but I’m not always open to delving into new genres. I read a fair amount of different ones and will read anything ranging from Middle Grade to General Fiction. I love comics. If I’m being 100% honest, I adore them. Still, for me its all about the authors writing style and how quickly I connect with the characters. The plot draws me in and entices me to read but the character’s are what keep me invested.

Fingers crossed I like them all! I’ve already had one disappointing review for this year and I definitely need to read something to make up for it!

Disney’s Real Life Book Review

I purchased this book the same day I met my editor. She was having a book signing at a Chapter’s in the area and at the time I had no idea she would become my editor! I just thought she was really nice and her books sounded fantastic.

That day I was also lucky enough to be shopping with my Nana, who like me buys a lot of books and had about three or four gift cards on her. Basically, Nana gave me the go ahead to go nuts and buy as many books as I wanted (within reason), so I decided I’d try some new series. Her store was massive and carried a lot more of the graphic novels and manga’s than the location near me at the time. The new locations near me are…gorgeous! We have so many books in those sections now.

Anyway, one of the book I grabbed my Real Life, which I thought looked kind of cute. I liked the art style and the fact that there was a diverse cast of character’s. I also thought the synopsis sounded really good. As you know my TBR continues to grow daily…so it took me until 2021 to actually read this book that’s been glaring at me from the shelf for these past few years.

Now, I want to start off by saying that yes, I liked the idea but I have some critiques because I was disappointed by how certain things were implemented. My main critique is is with the diversity, the same thing that I was excited about.

The book follows three girls, Amber, Alice and Andrea, who all have a crush on Thomas, a guy who seems to have popped out of thin air who looks exactly like the fake profile they made on Real Life, an app that’s almost like a combination of facebook and instagram. Amber is black or mixed race with black. I was never really sure as she has red hair and green eyes and the reader’s only see her mom. Alice is white, blonde hair and blue eyes and then Andrea is Asian, specifically Japanese as her last name is Tanaka.

Left to Right: Amber, Alice and Andrea

As I mentioned when I first saw the cover of this book, I was excited because it gives the illusion that these three girls are a close knit group of friends. They’re all happy and smiling together doing this really cute group pose. However, when I started reading it quickly became clear that these three girls were merely playing into negative racial stereotypes, mainly Amber and Andrea.

I’ll start by discussing Amber. Amber falls into the mean black hottie trope, which is used so often in television that it gets on my nerves. I have yet to watch a show where the black or mixed girl is portrayed as shy or gentle or clumsy. I wanted to like Amber but every time I thought “she’s not that bad” she did or said something that seriously rubbed me the wrong way. All I kept thinking was how it sucked that this rude, bratty girl was the only representation of a black female character in this entire book. If she was contrasted by another character who was well…to put it plainly nice, it wouldn’t have bothered me as much. Another thing that continued to happen with her character, is that her complexion changed constantly. I don’t know about anyone else, but my skin colour definitely doesn’t magically switch between races because I’m mixed race? If I suddenly went all pale, I’d definitely go check in with a doctor or something. The inconsistency with her skin tone was extremely frustrating. In the first chapter alone, there are several instances where her and Alice are the exact same colour.

Next Andrea, who was equally messy. Of course, the Asian girl is the honour student, grades driven, super smart, nerd. Like I haven’t seen that a million times. At least she has a secret love for art. I preferred her character a little more than Amber’s and it was only because there were other Asian female character’s that she could be contrasted with. If those other girls weren’t there I would have went, “Oh look the Asian Nerd Trope.” Sadly, there were points where Andrea, like Amber was just…mean.

Lastly Alice, who ends up being the most likeable character. She’s the one that I found myself rooting for, why? Because she was nice. She’s the target of bullies at her school. Mainly cyber-bullying and her brother who attends the same school, doesn’t do anything to stop it. He’s actually annoyed by her and treats her like a burden. Her parents want her to play volleyball for her dad’s team. She’s good at it, it’s about the only thing she’s good at, however she has a love for theatre and wants to act in the school play. Alice is portrayed as a hopeless romantic, hopeless klutz and a hopeless dork…and yet, you like her character because you HOPE things will turn out well for her in the end.

Alice is also contrasted by other female character’s who look like her, and males too. Contrast is important when you have a diverse cast. Why, because not all people are the same. Not all jocks are the same. Not all nerds are the same. Not all theatre kids are the same. The. Contrast. Is. Important.

This story is in England and from what I’ve heard (and have seen on BBC) it’s very multicultural, so for two out of three leading ladies to fall into these typical racial book/film tropes is ridiculous. There’s no excuse for it. It’s no wonder that the book received 3.5 stars on Goodread’s. Like, this story could be really good but it’s hard to ignore how these girls were basically created by using a checklist. Not only that but there was also racist imagery in the book of one of the girls with buck teeth and slanted eyes, dressed as an “Eskimo” in Alaska. That’s a huge nope. How did that get the green light in 2018?

There’s no excuse for how Amber and Andrea are portrayed, nor for that imagery. It’s frustrating seeing these negative, racial stereotypes used constantly. It’s as tired as using the Dumb Jock or the Mean Cheerleader. I knew a few cheerleader’s back in high school and, I’d say 80% of them were the sweetest people I have ever met. I only have good things to say about them! They were down to earth, cared about their friends and stood up for their classmates when they saw something wrong.

I’m not saying that I think Alice should have been portrayed differently, I’m just saying that it would have been nice if the writer’s actually give Amber and Andrea a chance! I really tried to like them. I did…but by having these two girls just act as stereotypes, it really took away from the story. I don’t even know if I want to read the rest of this series. I’m so disappointed.

As for the rating…I’m stuck between 2.5 and 3…mainly because there were elements of the plot that were interesting but the thing that drew me to this book in the first place felt like a huge slap in the face once I started reading.

I’m going with 2.5

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

I don’t care if it was 2018, this book fell into the category of diversity baiting…and I can’t even express how much I hate that. Proper diversity is showing a variety of character’s of different backgrounds who compliment and contrast one another. They don’t play into racist stereotypes, they are 3 dimensional. These character’s actually get backstories, have families and hobbies…like, why is Amber so mean? There was no reason other than “She’s the Queen Bee.” Really? That’s it? It’ not a defence mechanism? She just bosses people around and acts like a spoiled brat because she can? Andrea, likes to study and everyone’s always talking about how she’s going to get the Nobel Prize some day. She’s so smart! People call her a nerd. Like at least they gave her the whole bit about her mom trying to set her up with all these random guys but still…”I don’t have time for boys. I have to study.” Seriously?

I’m glad other reviewers felt the same way about these character’s. When I started I really thought “give it a chance maybe it’ll invert the tropes or something” but no. Nope. Not at all.

Anyway, that’s my rant. Looking forward to seeing REAL diversity in YA books going forward.

Manga I’m Looking Forward to in 2021

Back in December I was tasked to decide which manga series my work would be ordering for the store. We’re currently closed right now, but regardless I was extremely thrilled about the opportunity and went through upcoming releases/series I’d been recommended.

Here are the series that I’m personally looking forward to continuing or starting this year!

I’ve reviewed Daytime Shooting Star twice on this blog before, however I don’t believe I’ve reviewed Love Me, Love Me Not by Io Sakisaka yet. I’ve read so much of her work over the years, that I know for a fact I’ve referenced it more than once, especially when I talk about my own writing goals.

I’m looking forward to catching up on the new releases for both Daytime Shooting Star and Love Me, Love Me Not! Both series have been enjoyable reads and have had really great character development thus far.

Next is Yona of the Dawn. I’ve been praying that this series would get a second season for the anime but sadly shows classified as shojo don’t typically run for more than a single season. It would be nice though. This was one of those rare cases where I was introduced to the anime before the manga. I’m thankful that the series is now on Volume 28! I’ve grown accustom to shojo manga’s being somewhere between 10 and 12 volumes. The last series I had that was longer was around 24 books. Shonen tends to have a longer run. I assume due to funding or the amount of attention the genre gets in comparison?

Now this next one isn’t going to come out until April. It’s called A School Frozen in Time, and it sounds really interesting. It’s a horror although the current teaser cover doesn’t seem to indicate that. Sometimes that’s a good thing though. It can allow people to open up to a genre they would normally shy away from. I know misleading covers can be upsetting to people though! I’ve had it happen. I’m a lot more thorough when choosing books now.

Jujutsu Kaisen has been recommended to me at least a dozen times in the last two months. I haven’t fully figured out what the plot is about but I’m definitely going to check it out because I’ve only heard good things about this series!

I’m not sure if I’ll ever check out Our Fake Marriage, but I came across it on my book hunt for work. It does have really nice illustrations, I just don’t know if the plot is something I’d enjoy. I also haven’t seen any reviews for it yet.

I got the first 3 volumes of Perfect World for Christmas and I cannot wait to read them. I’m catching up on some other books first, mainly because I won’t be able to buy anything new for a while and when I start a series I tend to binge them all in one go! This series looks like it’s going to be fantastic.

My sister pointed out how the two lead character’s remind her of the Luka and her love interest in the Vocaloid song Just Be Friends.

This next series is one that I always saw at work. The cover and title caught my eye and I thought the synopsis sounded good. It’s currently on my TBR. I’ve hoping I can get a chance to read it this year!

I read a really good review about Boarding School Juliet on The KS Blogs and added it to my TBR immediately after. The do monthly manga discovery posts that I like checking. Another blog worth checking out if you’re into anime is Anime and Me.

Kiss Me at the Stroke of Midnight is another manga that I found during my search for work. It seems cute. I might give it a shot. If you’ve heard of it, let me know!

This next series is one that I’ve been debating on buying for months. Sadly when I finally made my decision about it we went back into lock down…and now the lock down has been extended haha. Something’s Wrong With Us honestly caught my attention with the title alone. I kept coming back to it on the shelf. I wish I’d gotten it when I had the chance! If all works out I’ll be able to get it sometime this year!

Have you read any of these series? If not, are any of them on your TBR?

Marmalade Boy Vol.1 – Manga Review

Today I decided to travel back in time because we all know this year tanked. Anyway, I whooshed into the time machine thingy and ended up in the old library where I first discovered the manga series Marmalade Boy!

And thus, I decided to read the first volume and review it.

To be honest, I barely remember what happened in this series. I had friends who adored it back in the day, but at the time I was probably too busy obsessing over Kamichama Karin, Me and My Brother’s, Mars and that one Avril Lavigne manga.

What I do remember about Marmalade Boy is that much like Mars there was a lot of drama, and so with my tea ready to be spilled, I shall reenter the world of this iconic series.

Summary:

When Miki’s parent’s suddenly announce that they are getting a divorce she’s not only heartbroken but shocked. She can’t believe that after 16 years of what to her seemed like a happy marriage could end so abruptly. Then the unthinkable happens, her parents tell her that they are also getting remarried to two people they met while they were in Hawaii.

To Miki’s surprise, these people are also a married couple who have decided to divorce and remarry her parents!

Miki doesn’t like this arrangement one bit and to make things worse, her parents and their new spouses decide to move into the same house together. Now Miki not only has new step-parents but a new step-brother as well named Yuu.

She tried her best to keep their living situation a secret, fearing the embarrassment that would follow if anyone at school found out. As if things weren’t complicated enough, Yuu ends up transferring to the same school as her, causing all sorts of rumours to spread.

Will Miki be able to accept her new life and family or will she end up losing her mind?

Title: Marmalade Boy

Author: Wataru Yoshizumi

Genre: shojo, drama, comedy, school life

Reaction:

My initial reaction to the stories introduction is that, the reader is thrown right into the story. It’s fast paced and straight to the point. You’re just as thrown off as Miki is by her parents announcement. In my personal opinion, I think this is a fantastic way to start off a book–especially a series! As the reader, it forces me to keep reading to find out what’s going to happen next. It’s reigned me in. I can’t help but keep reading. I mean…wow, I didn’t expect the drama to start off so quickly! Usually, at least with the shojo I’ve read recently, the conflict and drama isn’t introduced until the middle of the story or the end even. Most of the time the manga spends the entire first half introducing the main character and the setting. Here we still meet Miki, her parents and her friend Meiko but we also get thrown right into part of the main conflict! Plus, I already sympathize with both Miki and Meiko’s character’s. This feels so rare to me…that I’m almost saddened by it. I’d like to see more of this in newer releases.

At the point where Miki’s parents tell her that not only are they divorcing but they’re swapping partner’s and the entire family is moving in with this other couple, my entire brain went, “Wait! Wait! What?”

This is definitely going to be a mess. At least at first. I don’t hate Miki’s parents. I just think it would have been nicer if they could have explained things a little better to their daughter versus dropping this huge announcement on her at dinner with their new spouses and step-son. Then again, if they didn’t do it in such a way this wouldn’t be so insane and my reaction to it as the reader would be a lot calmer. I like that this is how she finds out because the reader’s reactions and Miki’s are perfectly matched. I can’t help but feel sorry for her. In a way she sounds like the adult in the situation.

I’m doing my best to keep this part of the review spoiler free, but there’s just so much happening in within this first volume that I feel like I’m going to burst like a balloon!

I’m just so pleased with how easily each of the character’s are introduced. The reader meets Miki, Meiko, Yuu, Ginta and the parent’s within the first chapter of volume one, and the transition to each scene is done almost seamlessly. I have yet to feel as though things are being rushed. In fact, I’m surprised that it doesn’t feel rushed given the fast pace of the manga. Perhaps I’ve grown accustom to shojo’s doing large information dumps (or exposition) within the first few chapter’s? Lately, many of the newer ones I’ve read have felt as though they drag on for an eternity, which usually causes me to give them a lower rating. If it’s good then I end up giving it around 4 or 4.5. If it’s under 4’s okay. Not meh…but not great. I’m happy to say that this far into the story I have yet to be disappointed. Especially since I went in with such high hopes!

Now…three chapters in I am losing it. How? What? When? Why? Gah! Not spoiling anything is becoming extremely difficult. Miki is such a great character. I sense a love triangle in her future.

They way things are going I might end up finishing the entire series over the next few weeks. I currently have the time. This manga makes me feel like how I do when my niece, sister and I watch Miraculous Ladybug. Excited, frustrated and completely devoted to rooting for the leading lady’s happiness! The manga an anime Kodocha gave me a similar feeling. I find when I become attached to the main character early on, I can’t help but enjoy their journey. This story keeps getting better and better…or in Miki’s case, worse and worse.

Things have somehow gotten worse. Remember when I said I didn’t hate Miki’s parent’s? Well Miki and Yuu’s parent’s have flipped the script. I’m not surprised by the turn of events, I mean it was bound to happen, especially when living with a bunch of new people. Still, these parents are seriously selfish. First they announce their divorce out of no where and then move their kids into one house so that they can swap spouses…but now they want to split things up again? Talk about the worst parent’s of the year.

Miki and Yuu were finally starting to adjust to their new living situation. Well, Miki was still reluctant but she was coming around. She was low-key beginning to root for her parents happiness. If I were these two kids I would be livid.

Wait…hold up a minute.

IT WAS A PRANK!? What kind of sick parenting is this? I…why would anyone do this to their child?

I can’t tell if this is supposed to be funny or not. I am so upset. I can’t believe they did this to poor little Miki. Why would anyone play with someones emotions like that?

Well. I guess if her parent’s got re-divorced to their new partner’s it would totally ruin the plot. Man, a lot has happened in these first three chapters. I can’t believe they’d throw that at the reader within the first volume?

Then again, I am very entertained.

I’m so sorry Miki….

Honestly, I’m thankful for Yuu and Miki’s friend Meiko at this point in the story. Without them I think she’d lose it. I still think what her parents did was wrong. It’s not fun being lied to, especially about something so serious, but I did like that Yuu went and tried to console her. This time he acted as the adult in the situation instead of Miki. I find that both of them were raised by childish, selfish people. Not to say that I don’t think their parents love and care for them, but it is very obvious (at least in this first volume) that the children believe they need to play the grownups in this relationship.

It’s funny though, I actually remember this part of the series from when I was younger. I was angry with their parents back then as well.

I have to say, I was extremely satisfied with this first volume. Wow, it feels like such a long time since I’ve been able to say that about a shojo series opening!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not super picky or anything, it’s just refreshing to be thrown into a story. I would have skipped dinner if my sister didn’t come get me!

I think I’ll jump into the second volume right away. This was such a good read. I’m completely committed to the story now!

Overall Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I am giving Marmalade Boy Vol. 1 a full five stars!

I laughed, I spilled my tea (seriously, I was drinking tea while reading this), I got angry and defensive. I’m totally rooting for Miki. I hope everything turns out well for her by the end of this series.