Cheeky Brat Vol. 1 – Manga Review

About

Basketball club manager Yuki has a secret-she’s in love with the team captain! But when Naruse, her cheeky kouhai, discovers her big secret, she’s in a tight spot! Just how long is he going to keep teasing her about it!? Stupid pretty playboy… — Goodreads

Thoughts

This book was recommended to me by a handful of people, so I thought I’d check it out. It was super cute! I really enjoyed Yuki, and all of the characters in this manga, including the random unnamed members of the basketball team.

I’m not sure why, but the artwork reminded me of a two series I liked when I was around 11 or 12, Monkey High and Lovely Complex. I should note, that I was a few years too young for these series, but I borrowed them from my local library, and I don’t think they themselves understood the manga age ratings at that time. I still go back and watch the Lovely Complex anime every now and then haha.

The character designs, and the relationship dynamics definitely gave me a nostalgic feel, so when the series was recommended to me by a couple of high school kids I was assisting at work, I figured, “Wow I rarely get book recs from customers! I should give it a shot!” and I absolutely loved it.

I’m fighting myself not to buy the next volume just yet because I’m trying to save money, and I have a bunch of ARCs to read this month for books releasing May – August, but once I’m halfway through my pile I’m jumping on it!

I’ve thankfully been super lucky with my reads recently, nothing’s disappointed me or fallen short of my expectations, and for that I’m super grateful. There was a while there previously, where I was in a bit of a reading slump because I read a handful of books that I had high expectations for that just weren’t my cup of tea. I’m also so happy because this was recommended by a group of kids who frequent my work when school lets out, and I’m usually recommending them my favourite new series haha.

I wish more customers would recommend books to me. Well, actually, I have gotten lots of good recommendations from our younger customers, around 3 and 4. It’s almost always Peppa Pig, but I appreciate it.

Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Check out my other manga reviews and recs!

Ima Koi Vol. 1 – Manga Review

About Sometimes the greatest romantic adventure isn’t falling in love—it’s what happens after you fall in love! After missing out on love and dating because she […]

Anonymous Noise Vol. 2 – Review

About Nino Arisugawa, a girl who loves to sing, experiences her first heart-wrenching goodbye when her beloved childhood friend, Momo, moves away. And after Nino […]

Ima Koi Vol. 1 – Manga Review

About

Sometimes the greatest romantic adventure isn’t falling in love—it’s what happens after you fall in love!

After missing out on love and dating because she was too shy to confess her feelings, high school student Satomi blurts out how she feels the next time she gets a crush—and it’s to her impossibly handsome schoolmate Yagyu! To her surprise, he agrees to date her. Now that Satomi’s suddenly in a relationship, what next?

Even though she can hardly believe it, Satomi is dating Yagyu. Being in love as part of a couple is now Satomi’s everyday reality. With how fast everything has gone and with Satomi still clueless about how dating is supposed to work, can she actually enjoy being in love?

Thoughts

This manga was incredibly cute, and totally worth the wait. I’d seen Shojo Beat advertising for it for a while, and had been desperating trying to get my hands on an ARC, but ended up buying it on release day at the store!

I fell in love with the character’s instantly, and I can’t wait until the second volume comes out!

Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I thought I posted this review in March, and realized today that I saved it as a draft versus scheduling the post…oops! Anyway, I highly recommend checking it out, especially if you’ve read manga like Honey So Sweet.


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Living-Room Matsunaga-san Vol. 2 – Manga Review

About

With the help of her housemates, high schooler Meeko begins to adjust to her new life away from her parents. Even the initially frightening Matsunaga-san helps her out—and between one kind act and another, Meeko finds herself falling for him. After an accidental kiss while enjoying takoyaki, Meeko ends up confessing her feelings!

Thoughts

In my review of the first volume back in Dec. 2020, I said that I’d be “giving this series another chance is because the supporting cast of character’s were incredibly charming” since I’d only given the first volume a 3 star rating. I didn’t really connect with Miko in the first half of the book, but volume two definitely made up for what I felt was lacking with her character in that first volume. I can’t believe it took me until 2022 to get back into the series! I’d read some very meh shojo around the same time, so I believe that’s why I was hesitant to jump back into this series too quickly. I like to give books a fair chance…and I’m thrilled that I waited because I really liked Miko in volume two! She seemed more fleshed out here, and wasn’t as flat. I was happy to see that the other characters were more present as well because it was fun seeing the dynamic between all of her roommates, her friends from school, and Miko and her mom. I had high hopes that this series would be something I’d enjoy, and I’m glad I decided to give it another shot.

Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Let Me Save You – Review

About

Seventeen-year-old Nila Izawa’s life in small-town Japan is orderly, simple, expected. On the walk home from school before winter break, Nila finally sees that she is crumbling under her mother’s strict expectations, both of them fueled by resentment towards Nila’s absentee father. Nila reaches for the courage to break free, but her fear of failure is overwhelming.

Wavering on the edge of stability – and adolescence – rude, annoying, beautiful Kai Kento’s insults, at last ignite Nila’s resilience.

Thoughts

This novel reminded me of some of my favourite emotionally charged shojo series like We Were There and Peach Girl. I think the reason Peach Girl kept coming to mind was because Nila’s father called her Peaches growing up.
The doll house thing made me cry so much. I also built one with my dad as a kid, and I could understand how Nila must’ve treasured doing something so special with her dad. I won’t say anything more about it because I don’t want to spoil anything.
I loved all of the character’s in this novel! I especially drawn to Kenji as he developed throughout the story. I think Kida was my favourite side character. She gave off cool big sister vibes, despite being Nila’s best friend, and she almost reminded me of a combination of Claudia and Stacey from the Babysitter’s Club. She was just cool, and it was obvious her and Nila truly cherished their friendship.
I cried throughout the last half! So much happened. I felt like I was right there with Nila, throughout all of the chaos…Nila’s voice was so clear throughout the story. You could sense her anxiety, joy, and defensiveness within each chapter. There was such a clear reasoning behind her actions, and her initial hesitance with Kai. Even her frustration with Kida, which I’ll be vague about to avoid spoilers, was understandable. Nila was hurt by the very people who were supposed to love and protect her, and although she responds differently to situations and people than her brother Kenji, who is more abrupt and rash, it is clear that the two of them need to lean on each other along with the love and support from Kai and Kida to pull them through. Nila is a force. I loved her story so much. She really blossomed as a character.
Kai was cheeky in a good way. He was adorably sweet. He really pushed Nila to come out of her shell and I don’t think it would’ve been possible if he hadn’t been so open and charismatic. Kai’s very upfront and forward, whereas Nila’s more reserved and in her head about things. I loved how honest he was with her, and how the two of them grew together. It was so cute watching Nila fall in love with him.
Lindsey-Anne Pontes did an incredible job of capturing those glittery…petal covered, panels you might see in a shojo manga, and also included some of my favourite tropes from the genre! It was so cool how she created the feeling of reading those emotionally raw scenes in this medium. Especially with the flashbacks!
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of manga like We Were There, Orange, and Mars or coming-of-age novels such as The Steps or Star Girl. I think you’ll adore this book.
The ending was extremely satisfying!

Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Vampire Dormitory Vol. 1 – REVIEW

About

Mito has no family to rely on. She lives on the streets, disguised as a boy. Ruka is an otaku vampire interested only in 2D girls. After Ruka saves Mito from a perilous situation, he makes her an offer: “Become my subservient thrall and let me drink your blood whenever I wish! In return, you can live with me—in the boys’ dorm!” But to stay with him, Mito must hide the fact that she’s a girl. Every day is a new danger—to say nothing of that bloodthirsty vampire!

Thoughts

I decided to read this book because of the Boys Over Flowers reference on the back. It was actually really funny, although I’m not sure if it was supposed to be? Either way, it was an enjoyable read, and I’m looking forward to checking out the other volumes.

I have to admit, with the introduction, I actually expected this book to be a little more serious…although the blurb suggests otherwise. It’s just how Mito is introduced in that first scene, and because I’d never heard of this series before, I didn’t know what to expect. The illustration on the back of the book with the tagline “Blood over flowers” which caught my eye, and the next thing I knew I was reading and then buying the book. I was surprised I had fun reading it when the story began to get a little goofier. I think what made me laugh was how ridiculous the situation was, and how off the bat series like Boys Over Flowers, Ouran High School Host Club and other popular shojo’s were being referenced in one way or another within each chapter.

Despite giving this a high rating, I am a little concerned that I may not like the series in its entirety mainly because so many of the references being made in this first volume. I appreciate them and most were subtle, but having that there for a good chuckle may not be enough to hold readers attention throughout an entire series. I think 4 stars is fair seeing as how I laughed a lot, and I actually like the main character, Mito…plus vampire stories are fun sometimes, and I don’t mind a fluffy vampire comedy every now and again.

I think I was expecting a Vampire Knight story, and instead I got a Vampire who is secretly obsessed with anime, who adopts a human…which is definitely not the vampire story I expected, but regardless I think the series has potential. It was silly and dumb like The Simpson’s. It didn’t take itself seriously, and that’s probably what made it so fun. Sometimes you need stories like that. I hope the future volumes hold up.

Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Check out my other manga reviews and recs!

Falling Drowning – ARC Review

About

Honatsu just started her second year of high school, and already rumors are floating around that she’s dating her childhood friend, Toma. While Honatsu isn’t totally opposed to the idea, she’s not sure what she feels for Toma can really be called love. But when aloof transfer student Shun Tachibana appears, the waters get even muddier… How does Shun connect to the past she can’t remember? And can Honatsu decide what she truly wants, when her head and her heart are pulling her two different ways?

Thoughts

I fell in love with this manga by the end of the first chapter! It was absolutely perfect. I loved the dynamic between each of the friends, along with the smooth character introductions, and how I was instantly introduced to the plot without too much backstory or exposition.
I loved the art, and character designs as well. I was drawn to the book based on the title and cover art, was incredibly pleased to find that this was both a romance and mystery. I liked reading about the authors creative process in between the chapters, and had fun imagining what this first volume would’ve been like had it followed the original mystery-drama idea. I’m super glad that’s still in there because it is a genre I absolutely adore!
I don’t want to give any spoilers but I’ll definitely be buying a copy of this book once it’s available at my local bookstore!

Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Thank you Netgalley for providing a copy of this ARC. Falling Drowning is currently available for purchase at book retailers as of Feb. 8, 2022.

The Kings Beast Vol. 1 Review

Summary

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: 4 out of 5.

4 Stars

Daytime Shooting Star Vol. 8 Review *spoilers*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Somethings Wrong With Us – Manga Review

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.