I bought this manga for my niece (she’s 9), because I wanted to find an age appropriate manga for her to read and she is a HUGE Disney fan.
Cruella: Black, White, and Red by Hachi Ishie has lovely illustrations, which gave off a mix of the 80s and 90s manga styles. I liked the way the panels were laid out, and how the characters were introduced. I also loved the artwork for each chapter.
I’d like to start off by saying the manga is not an adaptation of the film.
The manga has 3 chapters in total, each covering a part of Cruella’s life, mainly focusing on her between ages 18-21. I actually liked that the book didn’t age her down because it was directed at a middle grade audience.
Horace and Jasper were well developed throughout, but I thought the one character in the leather jacket, who is mentioned by Jasper in a later chapter would be more prominent than they were. It seemed as though this character was being built up to be a major player and then he kind of just disappeared, and then Emilia was introduced. This leads me to the pacing, which in the first chapter I felt was fairly well done, however because the book is set at different points during Estella/Cruella’s years before she becomes a designer, I felt like too much was being crammed into these short scenes.
It almost felt like a manga short story collection instead. I’m not sure if this is supposed to be a one off, or a short series, but regardless I enjoyed reading it and I know my niece will love it. I just felt like it needed a little more story wise, so I gave it a rating of 4 stars on Goodreads. I also took into consideration that this is meant for young readers, so it’s possible some of what I felt was lacking is because this is a reimagining of a reimagined character…and I had expected it to cover pieces of the movie.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Overall I thought the book was fun, and I would definitely recommend it to young Disney fans who are also looking into reading manga.
One other thing I will note is that this book reads the same as Western graphic novels, versus a Japanese manga, like the Maximum Ride series and most Western made manga.
This month I’ve been trying to catch up on my manga TBR…and I actually got through it last night which now means I can order my next handful of books, hooray!
I read a variety of books ranging from thriller to romance, and I have to say I was extremely happy with each of these. Everything I read, I rated a full 5 stars.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
The Kings Beast Volume 2 & 3
I’m really enjoying this series so far. I’ve had a lot of fun revisiting Rei Toma’s world, especially from the Ajin’s perspective. The artwork is also stunning. I felt this third volume picked up immensely and I can’t wait to read the next. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but one of my favourite things that I noticed in this series is whenever Rangestu’s true self comes through, her eyes are drawn softly. She looks more like she did as a child, and more like her twin in these frames. It’s such a small detail but I absolutely love it.
A School Frozen in Time Volume 1
This first volume had me on the edge of my seat. I wasn’t expecting to have my heart racing, or to be so scared I couldn’t fall asleep! It was a really great read. I finished it in one sitting. It was very fast paced and the events leading up to this volumes climax progressed quickly. I would like to add at trigger warning as this book heavily discusses topics of suicide and self-harm. Please proceed with caution. I was expecting it to be sad like Orange or Your Lie in April, since Your Lie in April is by the same person, however…I had my pants scared off! So it is not at all some sad, high school, friendship manga. It made me care about these characters and then it ripped my heart out…in a good way!
A Sign of Affection Volume 3
This series keeps getting better and better. I really adore the artwork, and I think it’s so cute that many of the artists who work on the shojo romance series are friends. I’ve noticed their artwork being featured in each others manga’s! I think that’s so cool. It’s actually made me miss older series where having characters from other manga’s featured in a short was normal. It’s also lovely to see all of these artists uplifting and encouraging one another.
As I mentioned before in my review of the first volume, when reading A Sign of Affection, you can’t help but like Yuki. She’s such a fantastic character, and all the characters around her are equally likeable despite their flaws. I think that’s what I love most about this series aside from the beautiful artwork and the way the author uses the the silent spaces in the text and panels to show the reader Yuki’s perspective. It’s truly well done, and I appreciate the fact that I’m seeing more positive representation of deaf characters in books and film. I hope that this representation continues…it’s something that’s very close to my heart.
Love Me, Love Me Not Volume 6 – 9
The levels of cuteness in this series are too much! It’s so adorable. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next volume. I love how every manga I’ve read by Io Sakisaka is capable of stirring the many feelings that come with love, especially first loves. It’s incredible how she can do that every single time, with a new set of characters. I never feel like I’m reading the same thing twice, or seeing the same characters pasted into different books.
Daytime Shooting Star Volumes 10 & 11
I really don’t want to spoil anything for those who haven’t read this series yet, so instead of my usual rant about you-know-who (I’ll call them S), I’ll be focusing on how fantastic the character development has been. I can’t express how many emotions I’ve felt reading this series. Following these characters has been a rollercoaster! I highly recommend it but will note that the initial relationship in this series is toxic, and I just hope Suzume regains her self-confidence and finds her happiness.
Blood on the Tracks Volumes 2 & 3
This series is so good, but so creepy. I’m constantly at a loss of words while reading Blood on the Tracks. The way the artwork and the story come together to create this eerie…anxiety is incredible. Some of the images are so haunting, that I found myself focusing in on them. I will give a trigger warning for this series as well, as it deals with mental and physical abuse…and you see it more especially in the 2nd and 3rd volumes. The mother’s behaviour is extremely disturbing. There are so many red flags, I’m honestly so worried for all the other characters around her. I would highly recommend this for people who enjoy thriller and horror genres.
Nanami is not thrilled. In fact, she’s about at her wits’ end. Her crush is living in her house as her stepbrother, he keeps teasing her, and now he’s in the hospital?! Between unexpected guests, nursing the stubborn Kyouhei, and the approach of Christmas, she just can’t catch a break…Without a little bit of Kyouhei’s sweet chocolate, she just might break. – Goodreads
If you read my last review of this series, you will know that I found it very similar to Marmalade Boy, and felt that the pacing was a little off. If you haven’t read that review, that’s okay, to summarize one of the things I liked was that readers were offered insight into Nanami’s thoughts throughout the book, however I did notice that readers who had already been exposed to Marmalade Boy, seemed less likely to enjoy volume one.
Unfortunately, I found that volume 2 of Mint Chocolate also had the same awkward pacing as volume 1. The pace, really doesn’t allow for the reader to fully grasp where the characters are at in their development. Certain scenes felt very rushed, to the point where sometimes it felt like I had missed a panel or a page, but I didn’t. It mentions Kyouhei going to the hospital, and I don’t remember that at all. In fact, all I remember is him getting sick, and Nanami caring for him at home.
Another thing I found was I that I was getting bored during certain scenes. It tended to be the ones that were recycling material from other “and they were roommates” type manga’s. Truthfully the “and they were roommates” trope is one of my favourites but in order for it to work, the characters need to develop naturally, as does their relationship. Here, it seemed like Nanami and Kyouhei were being thrown into different scenarios like, being home alone together, someone having a cold, and Christmas and meanwhile the two of them remained in the same state. I could actually, relate more to Andou, Kyouhei’s friend thinking, “What is wrong with you two?”
In both the first and second volumes the seasons changed so frequently, that it’s nearly impossible to figure out how much time has passed. As a reader it seems bizarre that these large amounts of time keep going by but the characters still seem to be at the same stage they were in volume one. There just wasn’t any real character growth or development. The only thing that we were given was insight into Nanami’s dad dying and more reasoning about Kyouhei being hesitant about being in a relationship after his parents divorce. This insight was good, but it could have been executed better…and possibly not given to us so quickly?
By the end of the second volume, I was still debating on whether or not I wanted to continue this series. I have other series that I absolutely adored but am still trying to track down because of the manga shortage, which is why I decided to try some new ones, but…I can’t tell if this series is worth giving another shot.
That fact is, that I don’t dislike the characters. There are times when I find Kyouhei is unnecessarily mean to Nanami, and I can’t understand why she would have a crush on him, but I wouldn’t say I dislike Kyouhei. Out of all the characters, I actually prefer the oblivious parents and Andou. My only comment on Nanami’s friends is that two of them look like her, and it gets confusing in the panels they’re in. Her one nosy classmate from volume one seemed interesting, and I think it would have been nice to see her make a reappearance but it seems like many of the ther characters were brushed aside in order to squeeze in these different, fast paced scenarios during this volume.
Strangely enough, my favourite scenes were between Kyouhei and Andou. It was more interesting seeing the two of them discussing Nanami, versus following Nanami around while she got lost in her head thinking about whether or not Kyouhei liked her.
The very end of the Christmas scene was cute, but again it felt very rushed. I’m not going to give away any spoilers about the details of this scene, other than the fact that this portion was done well. The rest of the manga made me think of a poorly done retelling of Marmalade Boy and for the vast majority I was bored.
I honestly hoped the second volume would surprise me, and that the story would pick up but it just felt flat until that final chapter. There was no sense of urgency, or any tension between the characters, and when it comes to the many categories within the forbidden love trope, I feel that having that it is necessary.
How I do my ratings
5 stars means the book was fantastic and went beyond my expectations.
4 stars means the book was great.
3 stars means a book was good, but could improve in some areas.
2 stars means it was just okay.
1 star means it wasn’t for me.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
I’ve decided to rate volume 2 of Mint Chocolate a little less than volume 1. I feel like I’m being generous by giving it 2.5 stars, but I found that the first volume had more potential. This volume on the other hand, fell flat.
I still think that this series can redeem itself, and I truly believe that those of us who had already been introduced to Marmalade Boy when we were younger, already have high expectations for a shojo manga using this trope. However series like Andante, Me and my Brothersand more recently Love Me Love Me Not, have used this same branch of the forbidden love trope and all of them executed it flawlessly. Many focusing more on the characters personal growth than their living situation.
I would definitely recommend this series to someone who hasn’t already been introduced to this trope through Marmalade Boy, because I believe based on other peoples reviews, it is actually a good series, but when you’ve been exposed to other books within this trope, it feels lacking in comparison. I also don’t normally like to compare books when reading but because of the title in relation to the characters, and the whole set up it really makes it difficult not to.
When Nanami finally gets a chance to meet her mom’s new husband and his son, the last person she expects to see is one of her classmates, Kyouhei Suzumura. Not only is her new stepbrother cool and completely unapproachable, but even worse—he’s the crazy-hot guy Nanami’s been crushing on for months…! Only time will tell how Nanami’s unexpectedly forbidden romance will play out… –Goodreads.
I’m hoping the story picks up more in the second volume. Although I liked certain elements of the story thus far, the pacing felt a bit off and I couldn’t help but think back to the series Marmalade Boy, which uses the same trope and setup but executes it flawlessly in the opening of the first volume. I did like getting insight into Nanami’s thoughts throughout this volume, as it helps to build her personality and gives the reader a better idea of how things might play out. Hoping the next volume will be stronger.
Based on other reviews I read after finishing this manga, it seemed that those who had already been exposed to Marmalade Boy, weren’t fans of Mint Chocolate. I do agree that it very much feels like a rip off…only in this first volume I find the characters lack chemistry off the bat. I think I would have liked to see more romantic-comedy elements thrown in and less recycled material. Those who hadn’t heard of Marmalade Boy gave this manga 4-5 stars.
I will be reading the 2nd volume, as I already own it. I’m hoping that my stance will change by then, and that the series will add something new versus being Marmalade Boy for a new generation of manga readers.
Rating: 3 out of 5.
I decided to give this first volume 3 stars because, despite the awkward pacing and similarities to Marmalade Boy, I did like the characters. The illustrations weren’t as expressive as I would have liked, but aside from that, they were charming in their own way. I do hope the next volume is better, since I bought the first two books at the same time…if not I’ll pass them onto a friend and see what they think.
THE GREAT DETECTIVE OF THE INNER PALACE IS BORN…?!
Maomao, a young woman trained in the art of herbal medicine, is forced to work as a lowly servant in the inner palace. Though she yearns for life outside its perfumed halls, she isn’t long for a life of drudgery! Using her wits to break a “curse” afflicting the imperial heirs, Maomao attracts the attentions of the beautiful Jinshi and is promoted to attendant food taster. But Jinshi has other plans for the erstwhile apothecary, and soon Maomao is back to brewing potions and…solving mysteries?!
I finished reading this in one sitting. I thought MaoMao’s was a great leading character, and that the story was well paced. The characters and setting were all introduced in a way that didn’t feel rushed, and instead naturally entered the story at the appropriate times. I also thought that the concept and plot were interesting, and I’m looking forward to continuing this series.
Another thing that I enjoyed about the manga was the artwork, although I did not read the original light novel that it is based on, I thought the illustrations captured each of the characters well, and enjoyed the little details such as the differing hairstyles, accessory and clothing details and a wide variety of expressions. The backgrounds were also really nice, and I enjoyed taking the time going through each panel, looking at the little things here and there.
I liked that as the reader, I was thrown into the mystery fairly early on, and that this was the point of the story in which I got to learn more about MaoMao, Shishi, and the members of the court. I think this is what helped pace the manga and kept me engaged from the beginning.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
I rated the Apothecary Diaries, Vol. 1 4 stars. I’m definitely going to continue reading this series and I think the next one is going to be really good!
Note: There are a few minor spoilers in this review. I have triedmy best not to completely give away the plot!
I really enjoyed this and have already picked up the sequel. The cover artwork was gorgeous, which is what drew me to checking out the book initially but when I read the synopsis and learned it was a story about a mixed raced protagonist I was drawn to it being mixed myself. Although the lead character Maria and I have different mixtures, there are aspect of the mixed experience that are shared universally, one being the feeling of not belonging to a particular community.
It was heartbreaking to read the scenes where Maria is treated as a monster, an object, a reminder of her mothers shame…and to see the lengths in which her mother would go to protect her daughter while also crushing Maria’s self-esteem in the process.
Regardless of your mixture (or even if you’re mono-racial) I believe this is an important story as it gives insight to a perspective that we don’t often get in this particular genre and also inverts traditional western standards of beauty by contrasting it with the traditional desirable Japanese standards of beauty.
My hope for this series is that as the story progresses, Maria will come to love herself not just because of how one boy views her but because she has grown in confidence and gained a better understanding of herself. I would also like to learn more about her parents relationship at some point.
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.
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.
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.
Apparently it’s my blogs anniversary. I hadn’t even realized it until just now. Traditionally, with my older blogs I would make a long post highlighting the years…but I didn’t plan anything. This will also probably be posted a day late because its 11:30pm…
So for starters…
My blog is officially a year old. Happy 1st Birthday kiddo!
I’ve been catching up on my reading lately, and I have a bunch of new reviews planned out. My TBR was shrinking last week, but now it’s growing again! Hooray!
I also have a bunch of exciting news that I can’t wait to share. I hope you’ll all be as excited about it as I am. All I can say for now is that I’m doing a super cool project, that I am pumped about! I’ll talk more about it before the premiere!
Today I had my favourite ice cream and watched 90 Day Fiancée with my sister which my Dad absolutely hates but put up with because we rarely get TLC on our station unless its like a monthly promo thing…we also didn’t let him change the channel. I’m not a huge fan of reality TV but I find this show addicting. I don’t know why. I think I can recall a YouTuber who discussed TLC (The Learning Channel) as a modern day Freak Show. I agree with her. After thinking off the top of my head, most of what airs on that station reminds me of the old “COME SEE THE MAN WITH THE SEVEN EARS!” type thing…only its on television. I wish I could remember the name of the YouTuber, because that video is seriously worth watching if you have the time. I want to say her name was Ada?
Anyways, that’s enough about television.
I had ice cream, finished compiling and organizing my research results and now that I’m finished with that I’ll be rewarding myself with a few more books to add to my shrinking TBR.
I’ve been low-key participating in a co-workers read-athon. I like read-athons, but I sometimes have a hard time filling all the prompt categories. Sometimes I try to knock out two categories with one book. I’ve found this helps. I love that her prompt allows us to read diversely and explore different mediums and genres but also gives us the freedom and flexibility to read whatever we like at our own pace! I also got a very lovely list of series recommendations from her, which I am extremely grateful for! I was starting to worry that I’d run out of novels to read. She’s such a fun person to work with, we literally just gush over YA novels and the majority of what she recommends me is 100% up my alley!
Working in a bookstore is the best. I miss my co-workers so much during lock down but every once in a while people send out emails or our managers call to check on us. It’s extremely thoughtful and I just…I feel so happy and safe with everyone at our store.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t complete 5 books in four days last week. My managers even asked if I was really reading that much…and to be honest I don’t even know how I accomplished that. I haven’t read like that since I was in my first year of university. I guess it happened because I was multitask reading a bunch of different books around my birthday and then when we went into lock down I was just reading with my niece…because this little girl who used to hate reading now adores it! We pretended to have a book club. I think we should try to continue it via social distance because it was so much fun. I actually have a post planned involving some of our reads and reviews of certain Middle Grade books. She gives fantastic reviews, so I’d love to get quotes from her on her recent reads for that post. Who knows, maybe I’ll interview her.
She’s also been making her own comic series! It’s really creative and I love how her personality shines through it. She’s got a great sense of humour so seeing that in her stories always makes me happy.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading my blog over this past year, and have found new books to add to your reading list…or perhaps one of my writing related posts has helped you. If you have a blog, feel free to share your link in the comments, I love checking out other bloggers!