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Saturday, August 17, 2019

Novel Review: Me Before You (Me Before You, #1) by Jojo Moyes

Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Penguin
Release Date: 2012
Spoilers?: Light.
 
Goodreads Synopsis:

The New York Times bestseller, soon to be a major motion picture; US release on June 3, 2016.

They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose . . .

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A Love Story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?


From the Trade Paperback edition.

The Cover:


My copy of this book was the movie cover, which I actually think is super cute. I don't usually care for the movie-version of book covers, but I do really like Emilia Clarke, and I think they look super cute as the main characters. The original covers are also really pretty, with big lettering of the title, and the colors used are pretty and fitting. I like how both covers are relatively simple and sweet.

Review:

Even though this is a very slow-burn, family-oriented story, it kept my interest from the beginning. Louisa is an odd girl, as everyone likes to remind her. She's quiet and thoughtful, but cheerful and wears odd clothing. She isn't afraid of being herself, though. The only point that bothered me about her, was how picky she was being about what job she got, despite needing one very badly. She also makes a very cringey scene at one point, at the horse race.
After losing her job, and since she lives with her family and is trying to help pay the bills as the only other person with a job, she has to get another one quick. She ends up being the caretaker of Will, a very rich previous-businessman, who's been paralyzed below the neck. He's angry, and sarcastic, and he doesn't want anyone's help or kindness. He also wants all of this to end.
I was afraid this was going to have a bad ending from the very beginning—and was pretty sure it would—but it still hurt. Louisa grows closer to Will as he starts wanting to open her world. She's been in this small town most of her life, and doesn't really consider going other places. She hasn't wanted to, or has been too afraid. He wants to change that, because he knows there's amazing things out there, even though he doesn't think he can enjoy them anymore.
This dealt with a rather dark, controversial topic, which surprised me. Part of me hates how it all ends—a big part, because it's awful and unfair and I hate it—but, I also sympathize. Will is constantly in pain and always on the edge of being even more terribly ill, and will always have to rely on someone else. He used to be extremely active and adventurous, and he doesn't want to be stuck in a chair his entire life. I get it, and it's his life, his right. It's still awful, though.
I really loved this book, honestly. Louisa and Will don't even really get to start a real romance, and yet their connection is strong. And it's awful. I haven't cried as hard at a book, ever, I don't think. I was practically crying my eyes out, for like an hour, as I read the ending. It's gut-wrenching, in ways I didn't expect, a lot more strongly than I ever expected.
I kind of don't want to read the next book, because I think this one was so good on its own, that I don't think it needs more, and I don't want to ruin it. But I also really liked these characters, and so I might pick up the next book to follow them further anyway.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Manga Review: Yona of the Dawn, Volume 17, by Mizuho Kusanagi


Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Publisher: Shojo Beat (VIZ Media)
Release Date: April 2019
Volumes: 29+
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1. 16. 18.

Goodreads Synopsis:

A red-haired princess loses her family and her kingdom… Now she must rise and fight for her throne!

Princess Yona lives an ideal life as the only princess of her kingdom. Doted on by her father, the king, and protected by her faithful guard Hak, she cherishes the time spent with the man she loves, Su-won. But everything changes on her 16th birthday when tragedy strikes her family!

Yona and her friends leave the Water Tribe lands and meet a boy named Karugan in an Earth Tribe town near the nation's border. When they cross the border to take him back home, one of the Dragon Warriors unexpectedly collapses!

Review:

Yona runs into a little boy who's exploring a bigger village from his tiny one, and of course she decides to help him get back. The villagers aren't very nice to these newcomers, but once they get there, the dragons start growing ill. It's worrisome, and they're not quite sure why. Of course, just after they arrive, a war breaks out.
There are a few surprising moments in this volume. We discover something about Zeno, and a few things about the dragons themselves. There's also a few select moments between Yona and Hak. And there's an extra chapter where we get to see how Jaeha grew up, which is sweet and sad.
Things are heating up between Yona and Hak, but it's also answering some questions about the dragons. I'm wondering where the main plot is going next.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Novel Review: P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #2) by Jenny Han


Rating (Out of 5): ~3
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: 2015
Spoilers?: Light.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.

They were just pretending. Until they weren’t. And now Lara Jean has to learn what it's like to be in a real relationship and not just a make-believe one.

But when another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him suddenly return too.

Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Lara Jean is about to find out that falling in love is the easy part.

The Cover:

I still think these covers are super cute. They're classy and pretty, very understated and calm in its colors, but eye-catching and pretty. I love that the covers all go together, with the same room and model, and that it very much looks like Lara Jean.

Review:

I really wanted to love this series, but now I'm just frustrated and disappointed.
I still really like Lara Jean's character, and her voice. Her family is really fun, too. I like Kitty's feistiness, and her dad is such a sweetheart. And then we meet John Ambrose McClaren in this book, and I love him. He's a sweetheart, who's grown up since she knew him as a kid. He's more mature now, he knows how to stand up for himself. He's so sweet.
And then there's Peter. There's still Peter.
I had hoped that Peter's plot line would be over, but it looks like Lara Jean has chosen him for the long haul, and I am disappointed. I disagree. It felt like Lara Jean and Peter have the kind of bad-for-each-other, intense relationship, a little bit. But now it looks like they're trying to say that Peter and Gen had that. And when it reveals what Gen has been hiding all this time, it's supposed to excuse Peter's attitude regarding her. And I just don't agree with that.
Maybe what Gen's dad is doing is bad, and it's upsetting Gen, but that's no excuse for Peter to brush off Lara Jean for so long, and to hang out with his ex-girlfriend so often without telling her, when Gen clearly has intentions of getting him back. None of this is okay, no matter what Gen is going through.
That whole ending with Peter kind of ruined this book for me. I don't like him, and I don't think he's right for Lara Jean, even if they have good chemistry and good banter. That's not enough. Especially not when there are better contenders, like John Ambrose McClaren. I'm just saying.
Despite all of that, I'm trying to remind myself that I still enjoyed this book. I like Lara Jean, otherwise, and I like her family, and I enjoyed meeting Stormy and seeing Lara Jean grow.
I'm just extremely disappointed in the romance, and now I don't know if I want to read the final book soon.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Manga Review: Daytime Shooting Star, Volume 1, by Mika Yamamori


Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Publisher: Shojo Beat (VIZ Media)
Release Date: July 2019
Volumes: 12 (+Extra).
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 2.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Optimistic high schooler Suzume moves to Tokyo and finds her heart caught between two men!

After arriving in Tokyo to live with her uncle, Suzume collapses in a nearby park where she had once seen a shooting star during the day. A handsome stranger brings her to her new home and tells her they’ll meet again. Suzume starts her first day at her new high school sitting next to a boy who blushes furiously at her touch. And her homeroom teacher is none other than the handsome stranger!

Review:

I had no idea what this series was when I started it, and am surprised by how completely hooked I am already.
Suzume was living in a tiny country town, where nothing exciting happened, and everyone knew everyone. When suddenly her parents tell her they're moving out of country and have decided for her to live with her uncle in Tokyo. She's against this, but doesn't have much choice.
In Tokyo, she doesn't know anyone, barely knows her uncle, and doesn't know what to expect. She meets her new teacher without knowing it, somehow forces a friendship with a guy who has never really interacted with girls, and gets the popular girl's eyes set on her, too.
Teacher-student romances are usually hit-or-miss for me, and I'm pretty sure this one is a hit. I'm pretty sure I'm into it.
Then there's Mamura. He freaks out when girls touch him and is thus afraid of them. Suzume figures this out by accident, and thus forms a forceful friendship with him. It's a similar start for her potential friendship with Yuyuka, actually. Neither are conventional or really wanted, but Suzume doesn't let that bother her. I don't think romance is needed between Suzume and Mamura, as honestly they already have just a great friendship at this point.
Then there's Suzume's uncle, who's friends with her teacher. He's sweet and protective, and only gets upset when he discovers her bad grades. I like him a lot already, too.
I don't think I've appreciated a heroine so much in a while. Suzume is brash but smart, she doesn't let things bother her too much; I love her reactions, and her straight-face at first. She's so cool, but she also just wants friends.
It's unexpected already, but I can't wait for the next one.


A review copy was provided by the publisher, VIZ Media, for an honest review. Thank you so, so much!

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Manga Review: Candy Color Paradox, Volume 1, by Isaku Natsume


Rating (Out of 5): ~3
Publisher: SuBLime (VIZ Media)
Release Date: March 2019
Volumes: 4+
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 2.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Reporter Onoe and photographer Kaburagi constantly bicker and argue on their stakeouts, but will their antagonistic behavior paradoxically evolve into something sweeter?

Satoshi Onoe, a reporter for a weekly magazine, has a new stakeout partner, and he’s anything but thrilled about it. Photographer Motoharu Kaburagi’s unconventional reporting methods and overall bad attitude are enough to drive Onoe insane. But the more the two work together, the closer they get.

Satoshi Onoe prides himself on his good writing and ethical reporting for the weekly magazine he writes for. But when the stakeout teams are shuffled around, he ends up being paired up with Motoharu Kaburagi, an ill-mannered photographer who’s nothing but trouble. Onoe despises Kaburagi’s haphazard and unethical reporting methods, and the two constantly fight. But as they spend more time together, Kaburagi’s two-faced attitude makes Onoe begin to see him in a different light.

Review:

I read the mangaka's previous series released, and enjoyed it enough. It was cute, so I thought I'd give this one a try.
Onoe is new at the magazine, still earning his place, so he gets shuffled around and teamed up with Kaburagi, who he hasn't really gotten along with at this point. Onoe is optimistic and hopeful, and would rather be writing, and thinks that he would be better in a different position. Kaburagi is a paparazzi, and he's good at it, but he's become a cynic after so long in the business.
They have very different points of view, so it takes a while for them to start getting along. Onoe overreacts, and Kaburagi tries to stay distant. I'm not attached, but I don't mind either of the characters. They realize they're attracted to each other, and just kind of go along with it, without too many precautions.
This volume was okay. I didn't mind the plot line or the characters, though none of it really stuck with me yet. I might read more.


 A review copy was provided by the publisher, VIZ Media, for an honest review. Thank you so, so much!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Manga Review: Komi Can't Communicate, Volume 1, by Tomohito Oda


Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Publisher: Shonen Sunday (VIZ Media)
Release Date: June 2019
Volumes: 14+
Spoilers?: Light.
Volume: 2.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Timid Tadano is a total wallflower, and that’s just the way he likes it. But all that changes when he finds himself alone in a classroom on the first day of high school with the legendary Komi. He quickly realizes she isn’t aloof—she’s just super awkward. Now he’s made it his mission to help her on her quest to make 100 friends!

Review:

I was understandably intrigued by the concept of this series, but I was still surprised by just how far it goes. By saying Komi can't communicate is a bit of an understatement—when put in front of anyone, even one-on-one conversations, she doesn't know how to say a single word.
This series is split up with very short comedic chapters, as Tadano is going to a new high school, with no friends, and meets Komi, who everyone thinks of as practically royalty. Slowly, Tadano discovers Komi's issue, and as he forms a friendship with her, he decides to help her with her dream of making 100 friends. It's a hard process, too, as it takes Komi a while to even be able to say “Good morning” to him after this.
The odd characters and the comedic situations are already at a great start with this volume. Tadano helps Komi take little steps, and he tries to get other people to be real friends with her, not just admire her from afar. This isn't helped by the fact that no one really likes Tadano, either. The two other friends they make in this volume, if they count, are very odd people. I appreciate the diversity a lot, too, with the girl-is-secretly-a-guy (maybe?), and the odd pervy stalker girl.
This series is honestly off to a great start, even more than I was expecting, and I can't wait to read more.


 A review copy was provided by the publisher, VIZ Media, for an honest review. Thank you so, so much!

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Manga Review: Children of the Whales, Volume 9, by Abi Umeda


Rating (Out of 5): ~3.5
Publisher: VIZ Signature (VIZ Media)
Release Date: March 2019
Volumes: 14+
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1. 7. 10.

Goodreads Synopsis:

In an endless sea of sand drifts the Mud Whale, a floating island city of clay and magic. In its chambers a small community clings to survival, cut off from its own history by the shadows of the past.

The Mud Whale has finally reached the shores of Amonlogia, but it quickly becomes clear that Sir RochalĂ­zo wasn’t being entirely up-front when he said the people of the Mud Whale would all be welcome. His father the duke has placed harsh conditions on their citizenship, and they only have three days to agree…or face the consequences!

Review:

Back into this series, they have reached Rochalizo's home, Amonlogia. They're immediately confronted with violence, and then with strict negotiations that turn out to be not much of a negotiation, really.
It wasn't terribly surprising what Rochalizo did to them, despite thinking they'd been getting along so well. I can see what a bad position Rochalizo was in, but he still wasn't very smart about his choices here. I was really surprised to see what a standing Suou ended up taking, and was honestly impressed by how strong of a stance he took. He was put in a bad spot, and he did what he thought was right, and it makes me a really big fan of his character, honestly.
I'm intrigued and worried by where the plot was going at the end of the volume. It could go really bad before they get out of this.


A review copy was provided by the publisher, VIZ Media, for an honest review. Thank you so, so much!

Monday, August 5, 2019

Manga Review: My Hero Academia, Volume 19, by Kohei Horikoshi


Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Publisher: Shonen Jump (VIZ Media)
Release Date: June 2019
Volumes: 24+
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1. 18. 20.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Midoriya inherits the superpower of the world’s greatest hero, but greatness won’t come easy.

What would the world be like if 80 percent of the population manifested superpowers called “Quirks”? Heroes and villains would be battling it out everywhere! Being a hero would mean learning to use your power, but where would you go to study? The Hero Academy of course! But what would you do if you were one of the 20 percent who were born Quirkless?

In the wake of tragedy, Class 1-A prepares for the upcoming culture festival. While the students are busy planning for success, other forces are at work with their own agendas, and Midoriya, amid the preparations, continues to train with All Might. But when he runs into the failed hero Gentle Criminal, what lesson will he learn?

Review:

We think we get a reprieve in this volume, as it's school festival time. We're reminded this school doesn't only contain this class of heroes—there are normal students, too, and they deserve this as well. But, of course, there's always a villain planning something.
Their class, after some debate, decides to put on a dance and live music performance. They're hooking up all kinds of things with their powers, and deciding who can play what instruments to form a band, and then doing a dance for it. It's a surprise mix for the band, which I think works really well. The sparkle element is weird and fun to me, and I think the dance preparation was cute.
Through all of this, Mirio and Deku get to see Eri, and introduce her to the school so she can see the festival. She's been so sheltered, it's a big step, but something they want for her. Since they're the first ones to discover her, and a big part in saving her, I really enjoy how they've formed a relationship with each other. It's super cute to see Mirio and Deku acting like big brothers to her.
The new villains we meet in this volume are not what I expected—they're show offs, who record his evil-doings and broadcast it. I didn't expect the stand-off that happens here, and am intrigued by where it's going, what it's going to mess up. But Deku is definitely showing how much growth he's been going through.
This was a really fun volume. There was progress and new plot points, but also just some fun antics. 


A review copy was provided by the publisher, VIZ Media, for an honest review. Thank you so, so much!

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Novel Review: Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West


Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Point (Scholastic)
Release Date: May 2018
Spoilers?: No.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Talking to other people isn't Kate Bailey's favorite activity. She'd much rather be out on the lake, soaking up the solitude and sunshine. So when her best friend, Alana, convinces Kate to join their high school's podcast, Kate is not expecting to be chosen as the host. Now she'll have to answer calls and give advice on the air? Impossible.

But to Kate's surprise, she turns out to be pretty good at the hosting gig. Then the podcast gets in a call from an anonymous guy, asking for advice about his unnamed crush. Kate is pretty sure that the caller is gorgeous Diego Martinez, and even surer that the girl in question is Alana. Kate is excited for her friend ... until Kate herself starts to develop feelings for Diego. Suddenly, Kate finds that while doling out wisdom to others may be easy, asking for help is tougher than it looks, and following your own advice is even harder.

Kasie West's adorable story of secrets, love, and friendship is sure to win over hearts everywhere.

The Cover:

I really like this cover. It's cute and flirty, and gives good hints to what the story is about. The story definitely has elements of the lake, though not necessarily this activity, and it could show the podcast instead. But either way I think this works and it's cute, and I definitely appreciate that the two models look like the main couple.

Review:

This felt more like West's first books. I didn't want to put it down, and I really grew to love the characters.
I liked Kate from the beginning. She's rather straight-faced and quiet, and she doesn't want any attention. And yet she ends up being a host on her school's podcast, by accident. Giving advice to people, when she doesn't even know how to talk on a microphone. She ends up playing the straight-man to her co-host's charm, and it works well for both of them. I was actually surprised they didn't end up closer friends, as that felt a bit like a missed opportunity, but it also made sense.
I really liked the podcast; the shows were fun to read. Then there was a mix-up of crushes, some back and forth and confusion and worrying, because Kate and her best friend Alana end up falling for the wrong guys, without realizing it and without talking to each other. While it could have been frustrating, and did cause some issues, I mostly enjoyed the way it played out. There was some confusion as they mixed it up and tried not to, because they didn't want to hurt each other. And I liked both Frank and Diego, a lot. Kate had a big family, too, and I liked the antics with them, and how it turned out for her brother.
This book was a lot of fun to read, and is probably one of my favorites of West now. It makes me excited to catch up with her books again.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Manga Review: Ao Haru Ride, Volume 4, by Io Sakisaka


Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Publisher: Shojo Beat (VIZ Media)
Release Date: April 2019
Volumes: 13.
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1. 3. 5.

Goodreads Synopsis:

The popular shojo manga series that was adapted into the Blue Spring Ride anime!

Futaba Yoshioka thought all boys were loud and obnoxious until she met Kou Tanaka in junior high. But as soon as she realized she really liked him, he had already moved away because of family issues. Now, in high school, Kou has reappeared, but is he still the same boy she fell in love with?

Futaba Yoshioka has encountered her first love again in high school, but he seems different from the boy she once knew. Futaba wonders what happened between Kou and Yuri, but she’s still determined to find out more about Kou’s past and why he won’t allow others to get close to him.

Review:

The group continues trying to study together, as exams are coming up. In the first half of this volume, we discover some of Kou's hidden past. As Futaba confronts him about it, it also forces him to deal with some of his feelings regarding it and attempt to move forward with his family now. There are several sweet scenes with him, with Futaba and with his brother. His brother really is a sweetheart, though we also got to see a potential new side to him later that interests me.
After exams, it's summer vacation, and the group makes plans to meet up at a festival. It's nice to see them all growing closer and deciding to meet up; it's a big moment for a few of them in particular. We meet a potentially new character in this volume, and there's a confession of sorts. Lots of exciting moments.
I love the sweet and touching moments in this series, and the humor is done just as well and easy. 


 A review copy was provided by the publisher, VIZ Media, for an honest review. Thank you so, so much!