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

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.

“Google is free!”: My Response to Bookish Realm’s Reflection Livestream.

Tonight I tuned in to Bookish Realm’s livestream, where she broke down and discussed where we’ve come as a community–by community I mean the reading community–over these past six months.

It wasn’t an easy conversation to have. Tears were shed…and I have seen many tears from these wonderful creators, writers and reviewers. Too many tears. 2020 should be nicknamed the Year of the Tear. Anyway, her final point in the live–one that I thought as she was saying it–was that “Google is free.”

To summarize, she was talking about how when people act like they don’t have any access to books by BIPOC authors. Which to the BIPOC creators and reviewers is an absolute joke because Google is the easiest place to start. To prove it, I decided to do a quick search, one that was recommended by her: romances featuring a black couple.

Well I googled and although there are a lot with interracial couples, I am annoyed at how few books being promoted are ones with two happy black people in love.

To clarify I’m mixed race. Black Mom. White Dad. I’m making this clear because despite my–well to myself–clearly mixed features I did have someone on Twitter assume I was white. Like damn, I know I need a tan but you don’t need to rub it in!

Anyway, I know what its like to see your family being poorly represented by the media. The reason why I’m annoyed with the lack of promotion of two black characters in love is because despite trying to do better…which I do believe they are, they’re still putting focus on this idea that in order for this black female character to achieve happiness she needs to marry a white man. Which is a whole other thing that I don’t even know how to unpack. I don’t even known if it’s my place to unpack that…I’m the product of an interracial relationship and I’ve been in interracial relationships. It doesn’t mean I’m an expert. This type of relationship is the norm for me. However, I still want to see HEALTHY relationships between black couples being portrayed by the media in books and on television.

I like seeing a happy family, living life, raising their kids…but for some reason the media likes to shove black trauma pieces at us instead. Don’t they know you could have a love story like Cory and Topanga but with BIPOC characters?

I wish I could remember exactly what she said on the stream about this because it was so perfect. It reminded me of a tweet I saw about how this girl wanted to see a romance film featuring an interracial couple where one of the love interests wasn’t white, for example Indigenous and Caribbean. There are relationships like this in the real world and yet I haven’t seen them portrayed anywhere. Actually I lied, that one show on Netflix with Devery Jacobs has her character dating a black actress in the second season. Sadly I can’t remember…THE ORDER. That’s it. Campy horror, wevewolf show that screams Canadian horror so bad…that I can’t help but love it. I love me some campy made in Canada horror shows haha. But there, like…it wasn’t difficult for them to portray this type of relationship! So to that girl who tweeted that, stuff is out there. Just have to find it and then promote it like crazy so more of it gets made!

And that leads me to my next point, as readers we need to do better in what we choose to read and promote. As Bookish Realm said, we should track what we read and compare numbers. How many BIPOC authors have you read in 2020? How many do you plan on reading in 2021? If you’re like me and read a lot of manga are you going to try and find manga and comics made by BIPOC artists?

I’m aware that conversations about race can be uncomfortable, but I’m a person that honestly learns better through having discussions with others. Respectful, open discussions where each person feels like they are being heard…because discussions can make us vulnerable.

The discussion tonight, had a lot of people in tears because there is such a strong need for change and yet when it came down to it, six months later things remained ultimately the same. I don’t want another six months to go by without seeing some sort of change. Especially when so many people in this community have been working their butts off to create a place where all of us feel welcome, safe and loved!

I truly believe…and maybe it’s because I’m kind of an optimistic daydreamer type of person…but I want to believe that each little change we make can create an overall greater change for the community.

Now, here’s what I found in my quick Google search:

A lot of what I read romance-wise is shojo so I’m not too familiar with these authors…however, O magazine posted a list of the 30 Best Black Romance Novels.

I also found another list called 20 Romance Novels by Black Authors to Read this Summer.

On the Goodread’s list I see more books that I recognize. I’ve seen them on display in bookstores or a friend or family member was reading them. I’ve seen Make a Scene haha. Pun intended.

I honestly think, and this is because I don’t really read Adult Romance genres…or I should say read romance but it’s usually the sub-genre (unless its shojo then it’s all romance, first love blah blah blah)…I’m going to challenge myself to find more comics, manga and webtoons created by BIPOC that are like the ones I enjoy reading already. Superheroes and romance are my main loves with comics (especially magical girls!). I’m going to try and research this a little tonight and see what I come up with!

Manga Review: Living no Matsunaga-san 1

I won’t lie, the reason I picked up this book is just so I could hold it up and say, “And they were roommates.”

Yah…I’m that person.

I’m planning on reading the next volume in the near future, however I felt like book #1 was a bit rushed. It had the usual,

“Hi my name is so and so and I’m this many years old and go to blah blah school…”

type introduction which I find tiresome, unless something really wild happens interrupting the main character.

I did however think that the character’s were fun. I like the dynamic between the roommates living in the house. I just found the female lead, Miko a little dry in the beginning. Once I reached the end of the book she grew on me, but part of me wishes that her roommate the nail artist was the protagonist? I don’t know why but everyone else just seemed a lot more fleshed out than Miko did in this first book.

I still enjoyed it. It was a nice, short read with a cute story. The main character just seemed to fall into the typical shojo cliches that I’d grown tired of after reading for 14 or 15 years now. I read a lot of shojo, so for me I really need to connect with the character’s (leads especially) for me to continue. They only reason I’m giving this series another chance is because the supporting cast of character’s were incredibly charming, which in my opinion makes up for the dryness in Miko’s characterization near the first half of the book.

As for the art style of the book, I thought it was really cute. Each of the character’s seem to have their own distinct styles, which is something I love to see when I’m reading comics/manga!

Overall I’m going to be giving this first book 3 stars because it was “okay” but it wasn’t “great.”

Rating: 3 out of 5.
OH MY GAWD THEY WERE ROOMMATES!

Character Mood Playlist: Romantic Vibes

Welcome to the Romantic Vibes playlist. I’m going to try and limit this to only a handful of songs. 5 max. I’ve been trying to think of what songs I wanted to put on this one but I keep finding new ones!

I’m also going to attempt to pick 1 per artist. Sometimes I feel like entire albums suit a particular character haha…but this is a more general playlist for the series as a whole and needs to reflect more than one of my OCs.

#1: Art Class by Beabadoobee

#2: Moon and Back by Alice Kristiansen

#3: I Will Spend My Whole Life Loving You by Kina Grannis ft. Imaginary Future

#4: Let Me Love You Like A Woman by Lana Del Rey

#5: Worry by Mother Mother

That’s about all the lovey dovey stuff I can handle today haha.

Reviewing Book Previews on Amazon: Sloane, The Flawed Attraction Series and The Dawn Thief

I decided to review book previews from books on Amazon to help promote authors who released books during the early half of this chaotic year. My goal with this is to share these works with potential readers, who may enjoy these stories and also help these authors get more reviews on Goodreads and on Amazon.

If you, or anyone else you know has released a book this year, feel free to leave a link to it in the comments with a brief description (perhaps a single sentence pitch) for myself and others to check out. Please be sure to include the genre and other links that you feel would be beneficial (social media, where to purchase the book etc).

Alright, the first book is…

Sloane by Nick Kurch

Sloane is a scandalous force of nature! From the first page, this blonde is weaving tales of mobsters, monks and love affairs in a hotel lobby. This somehow landing her a room, free of charge.

The way in which she prays on the sweet clerk, Mary, and pulls her into her story is astounding. Even when she slips up, she finds a way to draw Mary back into her lie. As the promotional tagline for the book reads, she’ll make you want to believe!

About the Author:

Nick Kurch is a Hawaiian author and self-proclaimed, boring man with not much going on. He lives vicariously through his ridiculous characters and their misadventures.

Nick dabbles in writing books in both fiction and non-fiction and has written for publications such as ClutchPoints, The Manifold Magazine and Love Knot Books.

You can follow Nick on Twitter @authornickkurch and find his debut novel Sloane on Amazon.


Next is…

Final Year and Vice Ride by MJ Moores

For this one I will be covering two novels, both apart of the author’s Flawed Attraction series.

The first few pages of Final Year are intense. This thriller romance follows Beth and Jeremy, two complete opposites who find themselves on campus during a lock down, hunting Jeremy’s not-so theoretical chem project.

In this first chapter we follow Beth as she gives into her gut and runs back to help Jeremy as the other students on campus make their way to the stadium. Alarms are blaring and she continues to tell herself to go with the group, but instead heads back to help him. Her gut knowing that something is very wrong. When she finds Jeremy he’s on the floor, barely able to stand. His insulin is low and it is clear that he needs to see a medic stat.

Jeremy on the other hand is more concerned about his work.

MJ Moores novel Final Year received a 5 star review on Favourite Readers.

The next book in the Flawed Attraction series is Vice Ride.

Vice Ride is MJ Moores newest addition to this romance series, which follows Amber and her ex-boyfriend Josh across the Kawartha Lakes region in Ontario (yay Canada!).

In the introductory chapter, titled Venus Fly Trap, we meet Amber, who is moving back home after being away for eighteen months at school in London.

It isn’t going as she planned.

For starters, she gets stuck moving her luggage on her own and to make matters worse someone is watching her from across the street: her ex-boyfriend Josh, who she tries her best not to give the finger.

It’s very clear in this chapter as Amber’s frustration grows that she wanted nothing more than to move back in without Josh catching a glimpse of her. To her the entire relationship was a mistake and being near him and back in the Kawartha makes her uneasy.

About the Author:

MJ Moores has had a passion for storytelling since she was nine years old. Starting her career as an English teacher in Ontario, she writes and has an adoration for multiple genres. MJ has written for Authors Publish Magazine and Indyfest Magazine. Her work can also be found in many anthologies, such as Unbound II, Brave New Girls and more. She has also written and published several works including a steampunk serial, available on Amazon.

Her Flawed Attraction series follows characters in their early 20s, going beyond the initial stages of a crush and getting to the deeper roots of what draws people together. In this case, two people who are polar opposites and how each moment in the novel brings them closer together as they learn to see past each others initial impressions, their personal prejudices and also the realization of their feelings for one another.

You can follow MJ on Twitter @AuthorMJMoores or visit her website: https://mjmoores.com/


Onto the next book…

The Dawn Thief by Amelia Thorn

In the opening chapter of The Dawn Thief the reader is met with a scene of a young man chained up in a cell, known to the town of Cresvy as Evil Incarnate, a cell that he’s been in for seventeen years of his life. This mysterious man, has silver sewn into his clothing and has memorized each and every sound both within and outside his cell. His only friend, a cat named Whiskey, who he is drawn to for their similarities…that being, his other form, a wolf.

The young man (and wolf) Silas believes his entire existence could put those he loves in jeopardy. Spending his life, he has always been an outcast feared by the people of Crevsy. Doomed to a lonely existence.

About the Author:

Amelia Thorn is an author from West Yorkshire.

After suffering from a back injury in their youth, Amelia was forced to bed rest, where among her limiting activities–homework, watching television and reading–she discovered her love of writing.

She claims the book she wrote during this period was gobshite, but the passion for writing remained with her ever since.

The Dawn Thief is her debut novel.

You can find Amelia on Twitter @AmeliaGThorn

Mid-Read Review for Daytime Shooting Star Vol.5

The weather has been so nice this weekend. It’s been good to sit out in the yard and read or work for a little change of scenery.

I’m currently reading Volume 5 of Daytime Shooting Star, a Manga by Mika Yamamori.

Although I enjoy the series and the artwork, there are some problematic things about the plot that don’t sit well with me, so at the moment the series is 4.5 stars for me…mainly because of some of the content.

I find it odd that this specific shojo trope is something I’ve been reading since I was like 11 years old, and it’s only now that I’m in my twenties that I find this trope problematic.

I think what’s more shocking is that this series is YA…and the teen characters in it are encouraging this behaviour in their friend. Which, although all the girls are lovely, it is a bit sad that the male leading rival is the only person who can see why this relationship is inappropriate.

Aside from that though the character development is really well done. I also like how all the characters are named after animals. That’s a really cute little touch.

I’m not sure which Manga I’ll be reading after this but I’m also reading a novel for my YA May good reads challenge. So far I’m enjoying that.

Book Talk Episode 10: Writing Love

Writing love isn’t easy for me…and it is possibly one of the hardest things to describe.

What does it mean to love someone?

Why and how does love change over time? Why are some of those changes painful?

It’s really something that I pounder…because I write about it often and yet, I feel as though I barely understand it.

I understand intense crushes and having ridiculous fantasies about being in love with somebody else, but that isn’t the same as being in love. A person can only imagine so much and personally I wouldn’t call any of my past experiences, “love” I’d call that infatuation.

What emotions does love stir in us that makes us crave it so much?

When I first began writing seriously at thirteen, I thought that I had a good idea of relationships and how they worked — obviously I was wrong because a few years later, I couldn’t stop cringing at the scenarios my characters were put through…a lot of which were clearly recreations of teen romance in the media, which let’s face it, is mostly inaccurate. After this, I stopped trying to write romantic relationships, and instead went on to write what I actually knew: crushes.

As someone who has had crushes since kindergarten, and had been documenting them since the first grade in her diary, I definitely found that writing about them was a lot easier than trying to create this fictionalized fantasy relationship between two people, when I’d never even been in one myself.

In my debut novel, the would be high school sweethearts are separated from the very beginning. This wasn’t something I had planned on doing, but did subconsciously because I didn’t want to try and write them in this relationship when I had no idea of what that was like. Instead I chose to write about what the two of them initially felt for one another and compare it to how they felt now, and the result of that was much better received by my early readers versus what I had done in the past.

Writing about a first “love” or crush came more naturally. I’ve had crushes that lasted years, on boys I never talked to. I’ve also had crushes on friends, that I never followed through with, even to this day because I didn’t want things to become awkward and still ended up with a broken heart.

My other main characters, are early teenagers and are going through their first real crushes. There is a gentle awkwardness there, especially with my female protagonist, who when kissed on the cheek describes it as ants crawling on her face and grows uncomfortable when the boy who likes her holds her hand. These experiences of hers are ones I felt at the same age, and it was often with people who I wasn’t sure of.

It can be confusing trying to figure out your own feelings, while someone else is putting in so much effort to try and get you to like them back. I often felt like my own feelings weren’t being taken into consideration during that time in my life, and on top of that I didn’t know how to express them. How do you politely tell a friend, that you’re not interested in them that way, without hurting their feelings? Nowadays people ghost each other when they lose interest which is a childish approach, that doesn’t allow anyone closure, but at the same time its easier than ripping off the band-aid.

I enjoy writing the contrast between past and present feelings in this series, because it shows how even my characters who put on a brave face and are viewed as strong by others, are capable of feeling vulnerable. There is still this lingering feeling of love between the older pairing, hidden within the snarky remarks, arguments and awkward silences. They tell everyone around them that there’s nothing there, and that they hate one another, when in reality the still care…and more importantly want some sort of closure.

I do believe in cases like this, that it is important to write what you know. You can only take so much from observation and make it authentic, so it is important to use what knowledge and experience you do have and use that as your strength. Listen to real people talk about their relationships, pay attention to how the describe past and present events. Explore your own feelings and emotions. What aspects of relationship make you feel like you’re floating, or like ants are crawling on your skin? What does it feel like to be in love or infatuated with someone, and why do some relationships work out while others don’t?