2023 Goals

Last year I kept my goals really simple:

  1. read more than 50 books (I managed to read 114 books)
  2. keep up with my pregnancy books (which I did)
  3. finish Oresama Teacher (check!)
  4. finish Haikyu!! (check!)

This year, in the same vein, I’m keeping my goals simple:

  1. read more than 12 novels (does not include manga, novellas, or short story collections)
  2. catch up with all my on-going manga series (Spy x Family, Kaiju Girl Caramelise, and Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun)
  3. finish Love at Fourteen, and Lovesick Ellie

I’m placing a lot of focus on my manga collection this year, as it makes up the bulk of my TBR. I meant to have this post up sooner but I got sidetracked cataloguing every book I own, and as a result I now know that my unread books make up 8.8% of my collection, and 7.3% of that belongs to manga. If we want actual numbers, that’s 7 unread text-based books, and 40 unread volumes of manga out of the 547 books I own. (My husband and daughter’s books are not included in this total and make up majority of the bottom row of my bookcases.)

I’m honestly not stressed or unhappy with the size of my TBR but I have owned many volumes of manga for over 2 years now, so I think it’s about time I worked on that TBR. When it comes to any of my TBRs (physical, e-book, or audiobook) I get extremely stressed when my text-based TBR gets too high (think more than 10 books per TBR), but thankfully I am also very good with reading the text-based books I add to my collection (this is helped by the fact that a lot of what I add to said collection is books I’ve already read via my library that I’ve really enjoyed). I am 100% not the kind of reader who wants a huge text-based TBR. I’m the exact opposite when it comes to manga. I think this stems from the fact that I feel like I’m constantly looking for manga that fits my taste, because it’s just that much harder to come by than text-based books that fit my taste. But when I really think about my manga TBR I have this mentality of “I don’t want to read it yet because that means I won’t have it to read later” and to my rational mind this is nonsensical because I love rereading. So this year I want to make a proper dent in my manga TBR.

I own and have not read Fullmetal Alchemist but I haven’t included it in my statistics because I’ve been waffling over whether or not I want to unhaul the series. I love the anime, but action manga often doesn’t work for me and I’ve DNF’d the series three times now.

I also have a couple low priority/pressure goals; with these ones if I don’t complete them they’ll be goals for next year:

  1. Complete Blue Flag
  2. Complete Koroko’s Basketball or complete Cross Game (if I completed both that would be amazing!)

That’s it! I’d love to know what your reading goals are for this year! 🙂


A Life Update…

These past two years have been very busy, we house hunted for much of the start of 2021 and managed to find a home in an area that we both love. We bought a car as well, and then spent the summer with family after not being able to see them since the start of COVID. In the fall we got pregnant and then shortly after moved into our new home. My first trimester of pregnancy left me absolutely exhausted, to the point where I wondered if I was anemic (I was not, that would come later in the second trimester). Between pregnancy and setting up house, I couldn’t really see the point in job hunting/starting a new job, plus my focus was absolutely terrible, reading was such a challenge and I would often find myself having to read the same paragraphs multiple times in order to get any semblance of comprehension. This was made a lot worse when I experienced my first panic attack in my last trimester (of which I will not get into detail). Then in the summer of 2022 Baby A was born, and she is an absolute joy, and somehow reading got easier even though sleep deprivation became a very real thing (it was definitely the hormones). We’ve had our ups and our downs as a family, but I am truly loving being a full-time mom at this period in my life. In those first couple months I did feel like I didn’t know myself, and like my body was no longer mine, but it wasn’t too difficult to bounce back and to add “mother” to my list of what makes me me. I think this process was made easier by the fact that I didn’t have a job to return to, and that my front-and-center hobby of reading is still very much an active hobby. What I was starting to miss was reviewing! While I don’t feel like I’m at the same brain capacity I was before pregnancy, I do still enjoy critiquing what I am reading and I’m hoping to slowly ease my way back into a more critical type of book reviewing. I do also have several reviews drafted out from prior years that I want to post. So let’s get back to it! And include some posts about motherhood too :P.

Manga Reviews: Lovesick Ellie Volume 4, 5, & 6

Lovesick Ellie follows a young woman named Ellie who is a self-proclaimed pervert and is fixated on the most popular boy in school, Ohmi. A chance encounter with Ohmi reveals Ohmi’s true nature, leads to them getting closer, and maybe to Ellie’s fantasies becoming a reality.

Series: Lovesick Ellie
Volume 4
Author: Fujimomo
First published: 2015
Ongoing: yes
Rating: 4.25/5 stars
Date read: April 30, 2020

After the events of the previous volume Ellie and Ohmi have worked out their latest conflict but now finals are just around the corner and Ellie should be more concerned than she is about her grades, otherwise how will she get the chance to spend the holidays with Ohmi?

I thought Ohmi was such a sweet boyfriend in this volume. It’s really nice to see him taking to heart Ellie’s insecurities, and making changes accordingly. I also really appreciated how annoyed Ohmi got over people taking advantage of Ellie, though I’m still waiting for her to find her own voice. Watching her character develop over the course of each volume is one of my favourite aspects of the series and it was especially sweet seeing Ellie getting along better with her classmates. She’s slowly breaking free from her shell, at an organic and believable pace. Ellie did stress me out a bit in this volume in that her loss of focus when it came to school was a bit alarming, and I felt like I cared lot more about her grades than she herself did. 

I’m also still not sure how I feel about Sara and Reo’s relationship, I root for them more than not, but I want more backstory between the two and I’m hoping Sara will start being nicer to Reo. Kaname makes his official appearance in this volume, I always enjoy it when a mysterious boy is introduced and he did not disappoint. Like all common tropes, Lovesick Ellie does something a bit different with him. Kaname doesn’t come off as a likeable character because he speaks his mind a bit too freely and doesn’t quite seem to grasp social cues, but I found this really refreshing and I’m looking forward to his future interactions with Ellie. But what really got me was the second half of the volume, our girl is always stuck in her own head and can’t fathom the idea of Ohmi wanting the same things she does, this creates some really adorable scenes between the two with Ohmi really frustrated over his inability to properly convey his feelings. This was my favourite volume so far and my face hurts from smiling over it.

Volume 5
Rating: 3.75/5 stars
Date read: May 4, 2020

Volume 5 picks up right where volume 4 left off, with Ellie going over to Ohmi’s house.

So this was probably my least favourite volume so far because it featured one of my least favourite shoujo manga scenarios. I won’t ever be a fan of a childhood friend/step-sibling/cousin being introduced into the mix for what seems like the sole purpose of causing tension between the main couple. I already feel enough for Ellie and her insecurities that I don’t need some girl causing trouble for her. Sakura was a pretty annoying character, but overall I am pretty pleased with the way the drama was handed and the resolution it came to. I’m also super thankful this story arc only lasted one volume. It was also really nice seeing Ellie stick to her resolve and standing up for herself. 

Volume 6
Rating: 4/5 stars
Date read: May 18, 2020

Volume 6 of Lovesick Ellie is our Valentine’s Day volume, though the theme is for the most part, surprisingly, more on friendship than on romance. Kaname is also causing tension in Ellie’s relationships, in more ways that one. 

Lovesick Ellie just keeps growing on me. I have such a soft spot for this series. I find Ellie and her awkwardness so endearing, and her friendship with Sara is so cute, and her relationship with Ohmi is so clumsy and sweet. It’s always so fun when your two protagonists have such great chemistry. Ellie really brings out Ohmi’s shy but demanding side and I love it so much.

I appreciated that one of the major conflicts in this volume was between Sara and Ellie, it’s great to see that friends don’t always get along, and that friendships also require time and effort. I especially liked that the two girls also had a conversation about sex. Sex is not something that is often discussed in shoujo and I appreciated Sara’s positive attitude towards it. As for Sara and Reo, I still don’t really understand why she acts the way she does around him, though I imagine we’ll eventually find that out. The two shared some really cute scenes in this instalment and Reo is such a sweet guy.

As for that last chapter, I really enjoyed the first half, but was really surprised by how things ended. I just didn’t expect Lovesick Ellie to do something so typical. I do think Kaname is a good rival though, in that he’s easy to root for and his interactions with Ellie are super cute. Obviously I still prefer Ohmi though.

Also, props to Kaname for finally telling off Tanaka. While it would have been more satisfying if Ellie was the one to do it, I still enjoyed that scene immensely. 

If you’ve read Lovesick Ellie or plan to, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 💗

Book Review: Today Tonight Tomorrow

Title: Today Tonight Tomorrow
Author: Rachel Lynn Solomon
Date Published: July 28, 2020
Rating: 3.75/5 stars
Date read: November 14, 2020

Today Tonight Tomorrow is a young adult contemporary novel following high school senior Rowan Roth on her last day of senior year. As per her school’s tradition she and the rest of the senior class compete in a game that involves completing tasks and secretly killing-off (not literally) the other students. In an unexpected turn of events Rowan ends up teaming up with her academic rival, Neil McNair. But over the course of the day the two properly get to know one another, and Rowan begins to wonder if she’s had the wrong impression of Neil all along. 

I like enemies-to-lovers/hate-to-love romances more so in theory than in practice. While they provide the perfect opportunity for romantic tension and angst, majority of the time I find that one party acts too ruthlessly towards the other and I end up being put-off by the relationship as a whole. I think they become even more difficult to pull-off in contemporary settings, because I often do not feel that the situations properly garner the extent of dislike one person feels towards the other. Thankfully Today Tonight Tomorrowsets the two rivals up quite well, and in a way that is quite compelling. I liked that Rowan’s understanding of Neil’s character really only brushed the surface, and her over-achieving, and highly competitive personality made her competition with Neil understandable. That she also has respect for him was a big factor in what made me able to root for the two, and it’s pretty clear from the get-go that she has feelings she needs to realize for herself. 

As far as the story goes, I really liked the game aspect of it as it helped add fun drama to the story and was a unique way of forcing two characters to interact together. Both the game and the story ultimately played out the way I expected they would but this was a story more about the journey than the destination so I didn’t view this as a fault. I also felt the story was compelling enough that I always looked forward to picking the novel back up. In regards to setting, I’ve never been to Seattle so I can’t speak for the depiction, but I don’t think the writing was strong enough that I was able to picture the scenes as much as I would have liked. As for the writing of Today Tonight Tomorrow, while it wasn’t anything special, it was by no means bad; easy to digest, but not particularly memorable. 

Lastly, the characters. I think I didn’t like this novel nearly as much as other readers because I had trouble sympathizing with Rowan. Rowan is barely out of high school, and yet she harbours a lot of nostalgia towards her high school life. As someone who did not enjoy high school and who was eager to leave it, I really couldn’t relate. I also couldn’t connect with the fact that Rowan thought it necessary to hide her love of romance novels, but I suppose I’m lucky in this regard. I’m not really one who needs to connect to or relate with a protagonist to enjoy a novel, but it is something I desire a lot more when it comes to contemporaries, especially when it is the wants of the protagonist that are driving the story forward. I also had trouble connecting to Neil because he was too perfect. He was so understanding and kind, and faultless, it made his character seem unrealistic. That said I do think Rowan and Neil had great chemistry. As for non-romantic relationships, I also really liked the conflict that involved Rowan and her friends. Friendships are an important part of adolescence and I always appreciate novels that give focus to them. In this case we’re shown how friendships can be affected by romantic relationships, and I thought the situation was well handled. 

Overall I’d recommend Today Tonight Tomorrow to anyone looking for a light YA romance.

Have you read Today Tonight Tomorrow? If not, do you plan to? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 💗

Manga Reviews: Yona of the Dawn Volumes 7, 8, & 9

Yona lives her life as a spoiled princess of Kohka, hoping to one day marry her sweet and handsome cousin Su-won and being constantly annoyed by her bodyguard Hak. On Yona’s sixteenth birthday her life changes dramatically, she witnesses the murder of her father at the hands of her beloved Su-won. Hak and Yona flee the palace, and set off on a journey to find Yona’s destiny and the companions she needs to achieve it. 

Series: Yona of the Dawn
Volume 7
Author: Mizuho Kusanagi
First published: 2010
Ongoing: yes
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Date read: May 8, 2020 (reread)

Volume 7 picks up right where volume 8 left off, as our gang tries to follow through with their plans to take down Kum-Ji. 

I know I said this of the previous volume, but I really do love watching Yun rise to the occasion and act so selflessly. As for the other characters, Jaeha is such a great addition to the group and I love his hilarious personality, and Kija is so pure and sweet, I just love all the characters. We also, finally, got a look into what Su-Won is up to. Of all the characters in the series, I find him the most intriguing and I hope that his motivations are more explored later on in the series. 

This was the most action packed volume so far, and while I do prefer the quieter moments of the series, I did really enjoy the action and believed in the stakes, especially in regards to Yona and Yun’s situation. This volume also had a lot of touching scenes, the found family that is developing here is my favourite and is so sweet, and I was sad to see the gang say goodbye to their friends in Awa. I do have a complaint about this story arc though, I wish Kum-Ji was a more developed villain. We know everyone in Awa is afraid of him, but we don’t really know why, I would have liked a bit more insight into just how he’s controlling the city. 

As for that last chapter in the volume, while it moves the story forward in no way whatsoever, it was my favourite and I love it when Kusanagi focuses on the humour and everyday lives of Yona and her crew.

Volume 8
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Date read: May 11, 2020 (reread)

After finally convincing Jaeha to join them, the crew must now look for the Yellow Dragon, but maybe he’s not so difficult to find after all? Also, why is Su-won visiting the Earth tribe?

This was actually one of my favourite volumes so far, because while it didn’t do anything massive, it did answer some major questions I was having, like what both Su-won and Yona’s goals are (at least in the short term). We also end off the volume with a more filler/character development type of chapter where the gang is just being their cute selves and those are always my favourite.

We finally get to meet Zeno in this volume, and we still don’t really have Jaeha’s backstory. I imagine we’ll be getting more insight into both characters in later volumes though. I also enjoyed seeing a hint of a deeper side to Zeno, and Jaeha is extremely perceptive when it comes to Hak and what he’s feeling. Hak and Jaeha’s relationship is easily my favourite non-romantic dynamic of the series.

As for Su-won’s chapters, in his chapters we get to properly meet one of the tribe leaders, General Geun-tae of the Earth Tribe. Su-won’s chapters definitely had me questioning exactly what the role is of a chieftain, because while it’s clear that Geun-tae knew about the turmoil in Awa, I’m not exactly under the impression he was trying to do anything about it. I enjoyed that Su-won’s chapters were more or less in Gun-tae’s perspective because it allows the reader to get more of an understanding as to how the citizens of Kohka perceive the king. It wasn’t initially obvious just why Su-won decided to hold a festival in the Earth tribe, but now that I know the outcome I thought all that resulted from it a bit too convenient. I also don’t really understand why Su-won bothers to put on such an act. We know there’s this hidden side to him, but I don’t know why he feels the need to hide it. Also, if Su-won and Hak end up facing off one day and Hak loses to this guy, I’m going to be so unimpressed. I do think Su-won and Yona are two sides of the same coin, they have the same goals, but completely different ways of going about it especially in regards to what they have available to them. It’s interesting in that I don’t think Yona could be making the changes she wants for her country as a royal, and yet Su-won is the opposite and can only make those changes because of the position he is in. 

Volume 9
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Date read: May 25, 2020 (reread)

Volume 9 picks up where Volume 8 left off with Yona and crew back at Ik-su’s place. Yun is visiting a poor Fire Tribe village and the rest of the group decides to tag along, which results in some pretty unexpected outcomes. 

And with this volume The Black Dragon and the Happy Hungry Bunch are born! I love the name the gang has chosen for themselves; the ridiculousness of it lends to some pretty funny jokes and I like that the HHB never take themselves too seriously. I feel like I say this every time, but the different interactions and dynamics between the characters never ceases to amuse or endear me to them, they’re so sweet and funny. 

This volume also has some chapters which focus on Shin-ah, and the trauma he’s faced as a child. There’s a lot to unpack with his character, especially when it comes to his power, and I found the darker nature of the Blue Dragon particularly interesting.

We also get further exploration of the Fire Tribe lands, and through the shenanigans of this volume we’re able to see the type of political turmoil that goes on in the Fire Tribe. I’m looking forward to eventually seeing more of every tribe. 

If you’ve read Yona of the Dawn or plan to, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 💗

Book Review: The Afterlife of Holly Chase

Title: The Afterlife of Holly Chase
Author: Cynthia Hand
Date Published: October 24, 2017
Rating: 4/5 stars
Date read: December 31, 2020 (reread)

The Afterlife of Holly Chase is a very loose retelling of A Christmas Carol. In the beginning of our story we see a young woman named Holly Chase go on the same journey as Ebenezer Scrooge, but instead of achieving moral enlightenment she views the whole setup as a scam, and proceeds to die the next day. Fast forward five years, Holly is an employee for the company that tried to save her, Project Scrooge, working as the ghost of Christmas past. Their assignment this year is a 17-year-old young man named Ethan Winters, who Holly takes more interest in than she should. 

Every now and then I just want something fluffy but heartfelt, with shallow, unconventional characters and The Afterlife of Holly Chase really hits the spot. This is a character type I think Hand writes particularly well (I’m also thinking of The How and the Why) because she somehow manages to also make these character types charming in their own way. Holly Chase in particular is judgemental, shallow, and self-centred, but with so much room for character growth. And I do think the primary focus of this novel is her development, and how the new relationships she forms over the course of the novel offer her perspective into her past relationships, which in turn shifts her priorities in more meaningful directions. To speak firstly of the romance, Holly and Ethan were easy to root for, and brought out unexpected sides in each other. They had great chemistry and I found myself hoping they could make their relationship work. But what left the most lasting impression on me was Holly’s relationships with her ex-best friend and her father respectively. Holly’s sentiments towards both these relationships as the novel progressed felt very heartfelt and had me tearing up at times. That said, I think what really sets The Afterlife of Holly Chase apart from most other contemporaries (unique premise aside) is the ending, I really respect Hand for where she took the story in its last moments and because of that it’s a story that I can foresee myself rereading again and again. 

Note: I have read the original source material, but to be honest I don’t remember it that well, so I don’t think reading the original is necessary to enjoy The Afterlife of Holly Chase, though I do imagine it heightens the experience a bit. Also, I listened to the audiobook for both my reads of this story and I highly recommend it, I think Erin Spencer’s voice fits Holly really well.

Have you read The Afterlife of Holly Chase? If not, do you plan to? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 💗

Book Review: Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined

Title: Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined
Author: Danielle Younge-Ullman
Date Published: February 21, 2017
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Date read: November 2, 2020 (reread)

Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined follows an aspiring singer named Ingrid, who gets permission from her former opera singer mother to pursue music on the condition that she attend a wilderness survival camp for at-risk teenagers. The story is told through multiple timelines, following Ingrid’s time at camp, her budding friendship with a boy named Isaac, and the loss of her mother’s singing voice. 

Younge-Ullman’s writing alone is enough to bring me to read a novel. She’s fantastic at writing both witty dialogue and snarky, sarcastic characters, two elements I love having in any book I read. That her words so effectively portray and carry emotion is also a huge plus, and I often find her protagonists’ way of thinking incredibly relatable. I also love the imagery she uses, it often has me imaging myself in the scene. 

In regards to themes, the novel’s most prominent one is grief. Ingrid has a lot of complicated feelings towards the most important relationship in her life, and a lot of emotions she bottles up. Over the course of the novel we unpack these feelings with her and see how holding in emotions can be harmful. As someone who’s always had a hard time discussing my own feelings, I could really relate to Ingrid’s struggle. Seeing Ingrid coming to terms with her issues was really emotionally impactful, but I also appreciated that there were no grand solutions for Ingrid’s problems. 

To speak of the present timeline, I’m not a fan of the wilderness so I find it quite interesting that I don’t mind reading this type of setting. Ingrid’s temperament and attitudes towards wilderness were similar to my own, so I had no difficulties empathizing with her struggle to adapt to camp life. I also liked that Ingrid wasn’t quick to form lasting relationships, and that she was a more introspective and introverted character. It feels more genuine that the group members of her camp ended up forming cliques, but also that they were slowly able to open up to one another over time. But while I enjoyed the present day timeline, and thought it did well to unpack Ingrid’s feelings, my favourite aspect of the novel was the flashbacks that centred on Ingrid and her parents. Her relationship with Andreas was so sweet and a most needed comfort during the difficult periods of her life. As for Ingrid’s mother, through the flashbacks we were really able to see the full picture in regards to Margot-Sophia’s character, and while I would rather not comment on Margot-Sophia’s actions, I did understand where she was coming from. Because Ingrid, Andreas, and Margot-Sophia’s characters were so well fleshed out, the different relationships between the three were layered and complex, and ended up being the most memorable aspect of the novel.

Lastly, the negatives. I had this complaint the first time I read Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined and I also have it about He Must Like You and it’s that I have a hard time connecting to Younge-Ullman’s romances. While I liked the dynamic Ingrid had with Tavik, especially their chemistry, I wasn’t as big a supporter of her relationship with Isaac. I’m beginning to think it’s because I don’t get along particularly well with the personalities of Younge-Ullman’s love interests, which really is just a personal preference. That’s not to say that I think the romance was bad, just that if I’m going to root for a romance I have a preference for liking those involved. 

CW: suicide, sexual assault, depression

Have you read Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined? If not, do you plan to? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 💗

Manga Reviews: Yona of the Dawn Volume 4, 5, & 6

Yona lives her life as a spoiled princess of Kohka, hoping to one day marry her sweet and handsome cousin Su-won and being constantly annoyed by her bodyguard Hak. On Yona’s sixteenth birthday her life changes dramatically, she witnesses the murder of her father at the hands of her beloved Su-won. Hak and Yona flee the palace, and set off on a journey to find Yona’s destiny and the companions she needs to achieve it. 

Series: Yona of the Dawn
Volume 4
Author: Mizuho Kusanagi
First published: 2010
Ongoing: yes
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Date read: May 5, 2020 (reread)

In this volume of Yona of the Dawn Yona and crew set off in search of the next dragon.

Volume 4 is a good time. I really enjoyed seeing Kija struggle to adapt to life on the road, especially after living his entire life in luxury, and it’s especially great because it’s something we didn’t get as much from Yona’s character but in her defence she had a lot on her mind. I totally forgot how much Hak and Kija didn’t get along at the beginning of their journey and their back-and-fourth bickering to get Yona’s attention was hilarious to read. I feel like later on in the series we don’t focus nearly as much on Kija so it was nice to have him get so much attention. I also appreciate that the Blue Dragon has a completely different backstory/situation from Kija’s and that we get to see the dragons’ time before meeting Yona. Shin-Ah’s backstory always makes me feel sad and of the dragons he’s the one my heart goes out to the most. Also, being the Hak x Yona fan girl that I in fact am, I loved that whenever something is going on with Yona Hak is the first person she thinks of. 

Volume 5
Rating: 4.75/5 stars
Date read: May 5, 2020 (reread)

Volume 5 of Yona of the Dawn picks up right where Volume 4 left off with Yona, Kija and Yun trapped underground with the Blue Dragon and some of his tribe.

This was my favourite volume of Yona of the Dawn so far during my reread. I love how devoted and sweet Kija is. It was especially adorable seeing how excited he was over meeting another dragon. This volume offers insight into the repercussions of King Il’s reign, and we see that while he was kind and had good intentions, he wasn’t the best ruler for the country. Yona’s heartbreak over the loss of her father was especially touching in this volume and I greatly admire her determination and resolve. As well, we finally get to meet Jaeha, he’s my favourite dragon and I love his interactions with Hak. Kusanagi’s jokes and my sense of humour are a perfect match, and I found this to be the funniest volume so far. Kusanagi is able to convey so many sentiments through facial expressions and this is especially effective when she’s being humorous. Again, Jaeha is quite different from the other two dragons, and he is by far the most resistant to Yona’s pull, and does his best to avoid her which made for some pretty amusing situations.

Volume 6
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Date read: May 6, 2020 (reread)

In Volume 6 of Yona of the Dawn Yona finally gets to meet Jaeha, who unfortunately for her, has no intention of joining her crew. Yona does her best not to let this deter her, and she and the rest of her gang decide to team up with Jaeha’s pirate friends in order to take down the menace ruling Awa.

One of the themes of this series is being strong when you are physically weak, and this theme was especially prominent in this volume. Yona is constantly wanting to do what she can for everyone she meets, but always feels like she lacks the means to do so, and I liked seeing her internal struggle in this instalment. I also think this story arc gives us the first proper taste of what’s to come in the series. 

One of my favourite aspects of this story is the interactions between characters. There are so many varying dynamics, and it makes every interaction between the main cast so fun to read. Jaeha and Hak’s interactions are some of my absolute favourite and it’s nice to see someone teasing Hak for a change. Kija trying to recruit Jaeha and him not having it was also really entertaining. I’m not a fan of a love interest holding back the main character in order to keep them safe so I’m glad Hak wasn’t one to get in Yona’s way. I love that he just wants her to succeed. 

I think Yun’s the real hero in this volume though. Yun’s not nearly as altruistic as many of the characters in this series, so I thought it especially brave of him to rise to the occasion despite how fearful he is. I’m appreciating his character a lot more with this reread. Also, Yun being so concerned for Yona’s safety was too cute. 

P.S. if you’re paying attention, the things Pu-Kyu gets up to are hilarious. 

If you’ve read Yona of the Dawn or plan to, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 💗

Book Review: Foul Is Fair

Title: Foul Is Fair
Author: Hannah Capin
Date Published: February 18, 2020
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Date read: November 22, 2020

Foul is Fair is a loose contemporary retelling of Hamletfollowing a sixteen-year-old young woman who enacts a brutal revenge after being gang raped at a party.

If I had to summarize this novel in a few words it would be witty, sharp, and a slap to the face. Foul is Fair’s gritty and atmospheric storytelling, smart writing, and ruthless characters were reminiscent of Tarantino’s film style, and if the director ever decided he wanted to adapt a young adult novel there is none more suited for him than this. That said, I think this is one of those books that will have a tougher time finding its audience because I do not think its writing style has mass appeal. But I personally was completely enamoured by the writing and it’s not often that I get the sense I’ve picked up the right book after reading only the first paragraph. Capin does rely on a repetitive type of narrative, something I don’t usually enjoy, but in this instance this stylistic choice had a sort of enchanting type effect that helped set the dark and creepy tone.

Luckily writing isn’t Foul is Fair’s only charm, as I found both setup and characters equally enthralling. Jade is tough, uncompromising, and everything I’ve ever wanted from a female assassin type character which feels weird to say because this isn’t an assassin fantasy novel. I really liked her lack of remorse and her ability to manipulate situations to her desired outcome. She was the perfect balance of sexy and badass without feeing overly sexualized. Her group of friends completed her image and really helped set the tone for her character. As for the side characters, they more or less fit certain expectations and while we didn’t get to know any of them super well, I don’t think that was ever the intention.

In terms of story, I do not think this novel is particularly realistic, but that isn’t something I expect from thrillers, so I don’t view that as a criticism. That the story ultimately played out the way I expected it to, with no plot twists being overly surprising, did not affect my overall enjoyment either as I enjoyed the journey more than the reveals. What I especially liked was how conflicted I felt about the events of the story. Jade’s game plan is horrifying and terrible, but at the same time I have a hard time sympathizing with her aggressors because they’re also horrible and without remorse. Also, I’m not particularly fond of Shakespeare, but I absolutely loved and appreciated the nods to the original story. I think they really helped set the tone of the novel, and I would recommend reading the original source material first as I think the experience is heightened for one who’s read the story prior. If I have an criticisms they mainly involve the ending of the novel, while it was by no means bad, I did think it was a bit messy and there were some aspects I could have gone without. 

CW: rape, murder, suicide

Have you read Foul Is Fair? If not, do you plan to? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 💗

Manga Reviews: Lovesick Ellie Volumes 1, 2, & 3

Series: Lovesick Ellie
Volume 1
Author: Fujimomo
First published: 2015
Ongoing: yes
Rating: 4/5 stars
Date read: December 31, 2019

Lovesick Ellie follows a young woman named Ellie who is a self-proclaimed pervert and is fixated on the most popular boy in school, Ohmi. A chance encounter with Ohmi reveals Ohmi’s true nature, leads to them getting closer, and maybe to Ellie’s fantasies becoming a reality.

Lovesick Ellie is off to a great start. Ellie is one of those wallflower protagonists who doesn’t have many, if any, friends. She’s likeable, easy to root for, and easy to sympathize with given the way her classmates make no effort with her. Ellie’s perverted nature can get a bit awkward at times, but it’s more hilarious than it is weird (and it’s pretty weird). I love Ellie’s interactions with Ohmi, they’re so cute, and even though she’s often thinking perverted things they’re very wholesome. I like that Ohmi accepts Ellie for who she is right off the bat, and that he’s comfortable being himself around her, I’d say that’s a pretty good premise and reason for liking a girl. But Ellie and Ohmi aren’t the only fun characters, I love the addition of Sara to the cast. Lovesick Ellie does something unique with her introduction, in that initially it seems like Sara is using Ellie to get closer to Ohmi but in reality really does just want to be her friend. Chapter four is pretty much your typical festival chapter, with a potential rival thrown in, but I’m interested to see Fujimomo’s take on it.

Volume 2
Rating: 4/5 stars
Date read: January 31, 2020

Volume 2 of Lovesick Ellie picks up right where we left off last volume, with Ellie and Ohmi stranded after the festival.

It’s a pretty common occurrence in shoujo manga that the main couple gets stranded, has to stay at a hotel, thinks about doing the deed, but ultimately doesn’t. I like that Lovesick Ellie did things differently, and more realistically, in that Ohmi called his uncle for a ride home. When we were introduced to Aoba, I expected him to be a rival for Ohmi, but of course Lovesick Ellie isn’t your typical shoujo and goes about things a bit differently. Aoba isn’t really acting like a rival and while he does bring out Ohmi’s jealous side he makes no actual passes at Ellie, and I feel like his character is present more to give insight into Ohmi’s past than anything else. Ohmi’s backstory isn’t overly moving or anything (mind you I never think manga does backstories particularly well as they always seem to hinge on some sort of event) but I did find this one a lot more believable. I definitely have a soft spot for this series, Ellie is a super weird protagonist but she’s also very endearing. She’s different from other shoujo protagonists in that she’s weird and she embraces it. I also just really like Ohmi as a love interest, they’re well suited for each other.

Volume 3
Rating: 4/5 stars
Date read: April 18, 2020

Is all of Ellie’s hard work and studying finally paying off?

I think this was the best volume of Lovesick Ellie so far. It took a lot of typical shoujo tropes and flipped them on their heads. Instead of the typical “bland girl gets bullied for being with the popular boy” scenario, we have a misunderstanding and Ellie’s peers think Ohmi is dating Sara and they target her instead. As much as I don’t like this trope, I did enjoy seeing Lovesick Ellie poke fun at it. Ohmi wasn’t great at communicating his feelings to Ellie in the last few chapters (I’m pretty impressed at his communication with Ellie aside from this), but I think the problem was addressed and fixed pretty quickly. I can definitely forgive miscommunication when it’s resolved right away, and when said resolution is as cute as this one was. In fact every resolution they had in this volume was adorable, and I love how much Ohmi reassures Ellie when she’s feeling insecure. As wild as Ellie’s imagination can get, her insecurities towards her first kiss were very endearing and something I’m sure a lot of young people can relate to. Romance aside, one of my favourite aspects of Lovesick Ellie is Ellie’s relationship with Sara. I love that Ellie and Sara confide so much in each other, and find their friendship super sweet. Shoujo manga is killing it lately with the friendships. I LOVE me a rival so naturally I’m super excited about the next volume. 

If you read Lovesick Ellie or plan to, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 💗