Cruella – Disney Manga Review

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.

October book haul

A bunch of the books I ordered arrived this week, on top of the ones I’d purchased in store. I am so excited to read them! Most of what I got was manga, but I also got the new Green Lantern thanks to my fantastic co-worker Scott! Thanks Scott! Oh, and I got two middle grade books that looked absolutely amazing.

My sister and I were freaking out over We Were There, which we read as kids. She loved the series, and Sand Chronicles. I also showed her the cover of Honey and Clover, which she thought looked super cute. I have to agree, I’ve always loved the art style of that series but I didn’t get a chance to read it when I was younger.

I’ll be sure to review all of these books once I’ve finished reading them, and I’ll try my best to keep these reviews spoiler free! I think I’ll have to put myself on a book buying ban until after Christmas, because I’ve already got two books that I’m going to be gifting myself, and I’m hoping that I’ll get gift cards from my family like I usually do…so that I can…buy more books.

What I really need is another bookshelf. I’ve been secretly thinking of how I can turn my brothers old bedroom into a library. I’ll of course keep his bed in there so he has somewhere to sleep when he visits, but like…perhaps I could just add two…or four shelves?

If I don’t convert his room into a library I might need to convince my sister that our game room could also double as a cute little library. It won’t be the Beauty and the Beast library of my dreams, but I think with the right décor and a little rearranging of the furniture, that it’ll look really cool.

If you’ve read my novel Vermin, you’ll know that there is a library on the top floor of the Crispin’s house. The library isn’t as pretty as the one in Beauty and the Beast, since they don’t live in a castle…but it’s cozy. I should try building it on the Sims4. I will if I have time. I’m mostly reserving my free time for reading and catching up on Netflix. I finally watched the final two episodes of Tokyo Revengers this week and cried. I wish there was an English translation of the manga because my French isn’t that great…and I don’t think my 9 year old niece should be translating that for me. I do have a French-English dictionary but the only books I can read in French well enough to understand are children’s picture books and middle grade graphic novels. Without pictures, I get stumped.

Well, I best finish my chicken nuggets. My sister was kind enough to share them with me. Also, if you liked the song in my reel it’s by Mitski. It’s called Working for the Knife. It’s really awesome. I’ve been listening to it while drafting some scenes this week.

September Manga Reads

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.

YA Faves

As YA week comes to a close, I’ve found myself reminiscing over some of my old favourite books that I read during my teenage years. Although I still read YA, there are certain books that just stayed with me over the years, ones that I often return too.

The Outsiders and That Was Then, This is Now by S.E Hinton.

S.E Hinton is still one of my favourite YA authors. I actually own an anniversary copy of The Outsiders, and adored the book so much as a kid that I nicknamed one of my own character’s Ponyboy. If you’ve read Vermin, you’ll also notice one of my character’s is named Kurtis, with a K. Ponyboy Curtis. Although the character’s have nothing in common, I couldn’t help it. I’d also be lying if I said that Kurtis was the only character in my work over the years to be named after a favourite character of mine.

Sometimes I also shout, “Do it for Johnny!” when I need to motivate myself to finish chores. Adulting, am I right?

House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer.

This book was so good! Honestly, Mateo was one of my favourite characters of all time. I really wish Netflix or somebody would adapt this series into a show because trust me, it would be absolutely fantastic. I highly, highly recommend if you’re into sci-fi, thrillers and crime stories.

Dawn of the Arcana by Rei Toma.

This manga is one that you have to read twice, because once you reach the end there’s this HUGE reveal…and that is all I will say about that. You should read. It’s really good. I’m surprised not that many people have heard about it. I loved Rei Toma’s work so much, that I do have a character named after them in one of my stories that I wrote in high school.

Confessions from the Principals Chair.

I honestly can’t recall how many times I’ve read this book since I got it in the 7th grade. I read it over and over and over again. I just really enjoyed the characters. I’m curious though, if this book is actually middle grade? Probably, but I reread it all the time in high school and university.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

I know that this isn’t technically YA either, but I read a lot of Charles Dickens and classic literature while I was in high school and I absolutely adored all of it. These were books that I’d chosen myself, and although my Nana isn’t a big fan of Dickens (she prefers thrillers/mysteries and romances), her and my granddad got me Oliver Twist, and then let me keep my uncles copy of Great Expectation’s which I read the summer before starting university. Of course the one of the first books I was assigned was Great Expectation’s, and I chose to do my midterm paper on it. I also read A Tale of Two Cities in the twelfth grade, and again absolutely adored it. The only Dickens works that I’ve seen adapted into film however are Oliver Twist, and A Christmas Carol. Funny enough, I don’t own a copy of A Christmas Carol, but I’d very much like to.

Dengeki Daisy by Kyousuke Motomi.

This series is still one of my favourites. I recently recommended it to a few friends at work. It’s really good. It’s got mystery, romance, action, humour and suspense. Everything you want in a shojo manga directed at teen girls. In all seriousness though, this was and still is one of my top series. I cannot stress enough how much fun it was to read. I believe this was also one of the first series that I collected in entirety. Before I would borrow one or two from the library, but this series I borrowed the first 5 from the library bought the rest, and then years later bought book 1-5 to complete the set. Totally worth the money.

Two Steps Forward by Rachel Cohn

As a teenager, I think I read just about every book I could find by Rachel Cohn. Two Steps Forward was my favourite of all of them, possible because it was the first I read, not realizing it was the sequel to her book The Steps. I just loved the characters.

Naomi and Eli’s No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Speaking of Rachel Cohn, if you loved the Dash and Lily series, you have to read Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List. There are scene from this book that still resonate with me to this day. Rachel Cohn and David Levithan are such a powerhouse. I’d love it if they wrote another book together!

Happy Face by Stephen Emond

I wish more people knew about this book. I believe I read it back in the 9th grade, and it absolutely broke my heart. The emotional rollercoaster was 100% worth it.


Liked this post? Why not explore one of these from my blog.

If you’re looking for a new YA book to add to your own list, feel free to check out my debut novel Vermin.

Mint Chocolate Vol. 2 – Manga Review

Summary

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


Thoughts

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.


Rating

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 Brothers and 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.

Mint Chocolate Vol. 1 – Manga Review

Plot

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.

Thoughts

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

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 Apothecary Diaries Vol.1 – Manga Review

Plot

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?!

-Description from Goodreads

Thoughts

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.

Overall Rating

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!

Golden Japanesque Vol. 1 – Manga Review *minor spoilers*

Note: There are a few minor spoilers in this review. I have tried my 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.

Overall Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Books, Books and More Books

Have you added Vermin to your reading list yet? Add it now!


I been on a bit of a book buying binge this week, and still have three more books that I’d like to order but am holding out on them for the time being. I’d like to finish reading three of the books I’ve started this month before I buy anything else.

My manga TBR pile has grown significantly now that books are finally being restocked. Like everyone else, I’m also binge buying series when they’re in stock due to the manga shortage that happened a few months back. Thankfully, I had novels to read in the mean time…but I hate when I’m invested in a series and then the next book is out of stock for months!

Speaking of series, Vermin is going to be out in a few days! I can’t give details on when the sequel will be out at this time, but I can say that I adore working on this series and am very excited to introduce my characters to everyone. Vermin will be available for purchase on Amazon August 1st in paperback and eBook. Signed copies will also be available at a later date, which is still to be determined.

I’ve also got a couple little surprises coming in the near future that are related to this series, which I’m absolutely stoked for. I can’t wait to share them…but for now it’ll remain a secret.