January Book Haul (Or Not!)

Happy New Years! I am excited for this year. I have titles from my favorite writers coming out all throughout the year, starting with Across the Green Grass Fields by SeananMcGuire. It is the 6th book in the Wayward Children series. A new volume is published every January so it is always a little treat for myself when the year begins 🙂

I was super tempted to order it physically and will definietely do at one one point, but it is just too tempting to buy the digital version instead of fretting when it will finally get to me from the UK! Plus it is half the price now on Google Play compared to the hardcover version.

I am ordering some physical copies too though. It seems the shipping and prices didn’t change a lot at BookDepository, I do wonder how Brexit and the lockdowns will affect the shipping time. It is crazy that the UK is now considered non-EU while being in EUrope. (And according to some work info I got not even all of GB left, what a mess!)

First to order is this beauty, Making Comics by Scott McCloud. It is a legendary book for artists and also never published digitally as far as I know. I will need the physical version to be able to absord all the knowledge too.

And gosh, I had my eyes on this release years ago, To Be Or Not To Be by Ryan North. Then it went out of stock for years and I thought I’d never be able to get a copy! All this hype because this choose-your-own-adventure game lets you play as Ophelia, Hamlet or asexual Hamlet. A thing of absolute perfection.

What are you excited to read this month? Any new releases, orders or pre-orders?

There are so many things I want to pre-order this year!

Update:

Wow, okay. Forget all about that because as I was about to place my order and post this I realized BookDepository removed all EU countries from their shipping options for the time being. Well, I guess that’s that! I have no idea how to order from any other place in Europe that sells English books. At least I will still have Across the Green Grass Fields. Any recommendations?

Doodle It All by Boutique-Sha

Rating ✨✨✨✨✨

Genre: non-fiction, arts and crafts

Content warnings: none

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is just the cutest! Have you ever wanted to draw cute things for yourself or a child? This book is the perfect place to start. You don’t need prior art knowledge to be able to start.

All of the tiny items are drawn in a simplified way using base shapes and they are super adorable. There are some stationary recommendations at the beginning of the book but really you only need a pen or pencil and a piece of paper to start.

There are several topics that are shown: animals, people, food, kitchen utensils, household items, clothes, hobbies, vehicles and so on! Every little illustration is shown step-by-step. Just flipping through this book makes me want to grab a piece of paper and start drawing again!

And my absolutele favorite are the special lessons at the end, we get some cute ideas for collage by using masking tapes. Recommended for all of your artsy needs! It would make a great gift for kids, especially if you end up drawing a bit together after opening the book.

Where to find:

The book on Goodreads

Buy on Amazon

RWBY: The Official Manga: The Beacon Arc, Vol. 1 by Bunta Kinami

Rating 🌹🌹🌹🌹

Genre: manga, fantasy, magic, adventure

Content warnings: none

Thank you to VIZ Media for providing me an advanced copy in exchange of a honest review.

RWBY is a popular animated series that has been running for over 7 years. The series is an American production by Roosterteeth and works with 3D animation and motion capture. It became so popular that now it has an official japanese dub (with some pretty famous voice actors) and it inspired several manga anthologies, adaptations and even some novels. I have been following the show from the early seasons and I was really excited to be able to read this new manga adaptation!

The manga is a retelling of the first few years of the show, as the subtitle “The Beacon Arc” indicates. We are introduced the main characters and we get some explanations about the world, so if you never watched the show don’t worry.

The first chapter felt a bit rushed, at times it was hard to tell what was happening or where our characters were, there just wasn’t a lot of background environment drawn. I knew where these scenes took place and I knew Ruby was in the store, so it didn’t bother me, but I felt it might be a bit of a confusing start for new people. However, from chapter two the story and the paneling really picks up and I enjoyed the story a lot.

We follow Ruby and her sister Yang as they are headed to their new school, Beacon, and we learn a bit about the world of Remnant, and the monsters that exists there, the Grimms. The Grimms are usually drawn by negative emotions and are a threat to humans so people train to fight them. Our protagonists are future huntsmen and huntresses.

This volume covers our introduction to the two main teams the story will follow, team RWBY (“Ruby”) and JNPR (“Juniper”) and we see how their teams get assigned. The fights and the action scenes are written really well and they are really dynamic. Since the focus is mainly on team RWBY here, I felt that some characters didn’t get a lot of time to shine. Such as, Jaune, one of my all time favorites. He is present yes, but one of his defining moments was cut really short. Originally, he is the one who comes up with a plan to win the fight we see and that is why he gets assigned to his future team, this felt glossed over, with only a short mention. One of his funniest scenes was also cut, where he runs screaming from a monster.

The characters were a lot of fun. Each character uses their personal aura to help them fight, and these manifest in unique ways. Some are granted speed, some gain super strength. Other than this, they all also have their own style of dressing and fighting and have their customized weapons. These are represented well in the manga and I appreciated where we get a little bit of explanation about auras and powers in the story.

The character’s colors, weapons, clothes and names are also fun games. Each character is a reference to something (mostly fairy tale characters, but not always) and their teams are also picked to fit a common theme. It can be fun to try and guess on your own, but the wikia pages also have all the info on these. The team names fit this as well, the acronyms stand for the team members’ initials but also refer to their theme.

Overall, I found this an enjoyable read after the rocky start. The art is great and the pacing is really good once the action starts. I am surprised how little progress we made in terms of the story, but since there was a lot of lore and plenty of characters that needed introduction I can understand that we only got to see the initiation.

I feel like this is a great read if you feel nostalgic about the early RWBY days or if you want to see if the story is something you could be interested in. As this is an introductory volume, it barely hints on the character developments and the complex and engaging story the show has. I will keep an eye out for the next volume, hopefully it will cover more of RWBY’s plot.

Where to find:

The book on Goodreads

Buy on Amazon

ps. As a new addition now you can find affiliate links to Amazon on my blog posts. If you buy the book (either physical or digital) through these it costs you nothing and I do not get any of your personal information, but it helps me continue buying more books and running the blog!

Given Volume 1 by Natsuki Kizu

Rating: ✨✨✨✨✨

Genre: manga, boy’s love, LGBTQIA+, romance, slice of life

Content warnings: suicide mentioned, and while most characters are pretty chill there is a slight homophobia and bad intentioned rumors

Thank you to VIZ Media for providing an advanced copy in exchange of a honest review.

In high school I used to read a lot of yaoi or boy’s love titles. A lot of those were full of bad and harmful tropes, which I only realized as I got older. Nowadays, because of this I have a much higher standard for the genre and I tend to be very picky. So, when I heard about Given getting an anime and that it is a boy’s love title with music I was very wary. Fortunately, Given turned out to be a pretty solid story overall and I was happy with it. When I have seen that the manga is getting an English translation I knew I wanted to read it.

I feel that the story works better in the original manga format because of one main thing: the narration. A lot of the manga’s subtle feelings come through by being able to glimpse into our main characters thoughts and that seems to work much better in the manga than it did in the adaptation.

Our main characters are Mafuyu and Uenoyama. The story starts with a vague glimpse into Mafuyu’s past and then we get to see how these two become friends, by mere chance. Uenoyama likes to take naps during the school day in a remote stairway. One day however he spots another students at his usual spot, Mafuyu, who is taking a nap while hugging a guitar. Mafuyu is seemingly out of it and doesnt talk much, but it turns out he broke the strings on his guitar. Uenoyama, who is actually in a band and plays the guitar, ends up fixing it for him.

Mafuyu is absolutely star-struck and begs Uenoyama to teach him how to play the guitar. Uenoyama refuses, because he doesn’t know this weird kid and has no idea how to teach someone else. As such their unlikely friendship starts. Mafuyu seems really stuck on the idea of Uenoyama teaching him, and Uenoyama can’t get Mafuyu out of his head for some reason. When Uenoyama discovers that Mafuyu has a really great voice he invites him to join their band.

The two spend a lot of time together and grow closer. We learn that Uenoyama used to be really excited about music but he seems to have burned out. There also might be some explanation on why Mafuyu seems to space out a lot and why he talks so little. I really like the flow of the story and how the characters inspire and push each other to change. The side characters are also great at supporting and they have their own things going on in the background as well. Uenoyama’s passion for music reignites thanks to Mafuyu, and Mafuyu in turn takes some steps to recover from a past that haunts him.

Uenoyama and Mafuyu are both branded as kids who are bad at communicating, and when Mafuyu has trouble expressing himself it frustrates Uenoyama. This is understandable but the one thing I didn’t like is that at such moments and the only way he can tell his feelings to Mafuyu is by.. shouting at him. Of course, this is more for a dramatic effect and not used as a way to force him to do anything but it is not the best way to get someone talking. At least the characters speak up that this bad way to communicate and he is told to learn to communicate better so I will expect better progress in this aspect.

As mentioned I really like our supporting characters. First we have two more members in the band, college boys Kaji and Akihiko. They are great mentors to the boys, offering advice on how to pay for their instruments and even life issues. They also seem to have their own romantic crushes and issues going on. The characters are well developed and their interactions with each other propel the story forward.

Then we have our less important side characters who despite their small roles seem to propel the story forward in unexpected ways. We meet some of Uenoyama’s classmates and old friends of Mafuyu and through them we learn about some rumors regarding Mafuyu’s past and a possible ex. While I don’t condone people gossiping about other’s personal issues it is an effective way to have both the readers and Uenoyama learn more about Mafuyu. And I really appreciated the fact that he said nothing about those rumors to Mafuyu, instead he just let Mafuyu open up to him on his own terms.

The art is gorgeous throughout the manga. At the end of the chapters there are character profiles of our main characters. I really appreciate all the thought the mangaka put into the characters defining features, like their face and eye shapes. At the end we even have some funny short stories in 4-koma style.

I like the slow build of the relationships in the story and the relaxed pacing of the story. I enjoyed this volume immensely and I am really looking forward to the next one!

Where to find:

The book on Goodreads

Buy on Amazon

Whisper Me A Love Song 1 by Eku Takeshima

Rating ✨✨✨✨

Genre: manga, girl’s love, LGBTQIA+, romance, slice of life

Content warnings: none

This manga is beautiful! The blurb refers to Bloom Into You, which is only the best written yuri, even lgbtqia+ manga ever, so I knew I had to read this one.

Our story starts simple, Himari is starting a new school and on her first day she and her friend go to the school concert that is held by upperclassmen. At first sight she falls for the vocalist and keeps praising her voice to her friend. Before the school day is over she accidentally bumps into the same girl in the hallway and Himari, blurting out whatever comes to her mind, immediately tells her that she fell in love with her. The upperclassman, Yori, confused, but definetely flattered tells about this to her classmates. As her classmates tease Yori whether the girl is her type she starts to let herself think about dating Himari.

Himari doesn’t waste too much time either, she learns that Yori is often practicing her singing on the rooftop so she coaxes her into letting her join and listen. As Yori confesses that she also fell for Himari at first sight, she realizes Himari fell in love.. with her perfomance, not her per say. She decides this is fine as well and vows to make Himari actually fall for her. As the two navigate this volume and grow closer, the misunderstanding between them clears up slowly and their true feelings come to light.

This was a funny and cute first volume. It was funny how oblivious Himari was, especially of her own confession. And how she managed to confuse literally everyone around her. I am glad though that the misunderstanding was cleared and I cannot wait for the next volume where they work things out between themselves. It was adorable to see these two grow closer and fangirl about cats. I hope for a quicker pace in the next volume, now that things are out in the open. Recommended for anyone who likes to read a sweet, slow paced romance.

While there are similar ideas to Bloom Into You, this manga focuses more on the two main characters and their relationship. The story is more lowkey, there are no big overarching plot points and the supporting characters remain more in the background as well.

All in all this is a very sweet story, recommended if you just want to read something light and fluffy. The art is gorgeous and full of cute blushing girls.

Huge thank you to Kodansha for providing an advanced copy in exchange of a honest review.

Where to find:

The book on Goodreads

Buy on Amazon

Dryad, Vol. 1 by Kurtis Wiebe, Justin Osterling

Rating ✨✨✨✨

Genre: graphic novel, fantasy, sci-fi, adult

Content warnings
some adult, sexy scenes were in the book and some violent fights

The cover and the art are gorgeous throughout the book. 

Where do I even start with this book.. These are not your usual medieval-fantasy elves living in a small town.. despite the fact that this is the exact setting we start with. We see Morgan and Yale trek through the wilderness with two tiny children – where they very candidly stop to change diapers. They arrive to their destination, a quaint village hidden by the woods and some ruins, where they raise their kids for the next ten or so years. We see them again when the twins, Griffon and Rana are teenagers loitering around town with their friends, pondering the possibility of magic existing in the world. A sudden attack on the town reveals the past Morgan and Yale has been hiding from their kids all their life: there is a much bigger world out there filled with technology they never even heard of.

In hopes of escaping, the family returns to the parent’s old turf and they try to salvage their life best they can while they try to hide from their past.

The setting was interesting, the typical elven medieval fantasy world mixed with sci-fi tech. I liked that the book had characters of different races just as part of natural diversity that occured in this world, without any kind of comment for cookie points. In it’s tone the story felt more on the sci-fi side for me, so I would probably recommend this to fans of sci-fi rather than fans of medieval fantasy.

Where to find:

The book on Goodreads

Buy on Amazon

Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Rating ✨✨✨✨✨

Genre: young adult, fantasy, magic, fiction

Content warnings: violent fights, deaths mentioned, sex workers, indentured workers

Please note that there are a few book series set in this universe, called the Grisha-verse. This book is part of a duology, there is no third book so far. This book was my first from this author and I did not feel like I missed anything important, so you should be fine to start with this as well. As far as I know there are references to the other books but those are only fun easter eggs for readers who are already familiar with the Grisha-verse.

This book was a huge surprise for me. It is rare when I cannot pinpoint it what exact moment makes me fall in love with a series, but that is the case with this book. The first few chapters did not convince me, however once the action starts there is just no stopping. I don’t know how the writer managed it, but the constantly changing POV and the twists made the book so dynamic, that it was a joy to read.

The setting is a world where people with minor magical powers exist – the Grisha. The story starts in Ketterdam, where most Grisha are not powerful enough to have the upper hand and they are practically kept as slaves by rich merchants. In the first chapter we learn a bit about them, then we are introduced to one of the city’s crime band, the Dregs. The story follows a smaller team who are attempting the heist of a life time – go beyond enemy lines, infiltrate a military base and get out with the prize. The crew members come from different backgrounds, the only thing they share is that they currently reside in Ketterdam and have nothing to loose.

I loved that this was a character focused book, every chapter you learned more about them and about their feelings regarding the other members. Now, most of them are not good people, they work in a line where killing people is part of the job. However, each of them has a different view on this, and everyone’s backstory is explained very well. It was great to see how they overcame their fears and their pasts. We have soldiers who were brainwashed from a young age, kids who were kidnapped and sold as slaves, kids who left their family for totally unrelated reasons. At first it was very ludicrous to me, but also to the people in the books, that we are talking about literal 17 year olds threatening adults in a lot of scenes. But damn man, after learning what these kids have been through they get to be as extra as they want. I appreciated that there were romantic undertones but it never took over the story. At times we were also kept in the dark about the details of the heist, or quite simply the plans had to be changed and improvised on the spot, which just made everything more exciting. I loved the female friendship in this book, it was one of the most stable relationships in both of their lives based on respect and trust. The book ends on a surprisingly hopeful note and I am excited to see how things turn out in book two. 

One thing that made me a bit sad was when a character who is clearly touch averse due to trauma was rejected, partly due to this. Now this was not discussed in detail and I hope this gets a bit more cleared up in book two but this is not a good look so far especially since the other party knows abuse and sexual abuse well enough.

Where to find:

The book on Goodreads

Buy on Amazon

Runaways, Vol. 1: Find Your Way Home by Rainbow Rowell

I did not really know about the Runaways until the Hulu TV show dropped out of nowhere. It was amazing, I absolutely fell in love with them and after the show ended I consoled myself with the fact that there is gonna be a comic about them at least.

Rating: ✨✨✨✨

Genre: graphic novel, young adult, superheros, Marvel, LGBTQIA+

Content warnings: some superhero fights but nothing serious, character deaths mentioned

The comic is kind of a sequel to the old Runaways comics, they reference old adventures in the story and old friends. Now, in the comics they are actually more involved in Marvel business, the kids knew the Avengers and some other superheroes while the tv show was more of a stand alone.

The story is easy to pick up without reading the original comics, as I didn’t read the old run either. I was excited for Rainbow Rowell since I absolutely loved her Carry On book. Sadly, I found that I prefer her novel writings instead of comics, there is just too much narration in the comic for me. And while I love that in books, it felt out of place for me in a comic – or maybe I am just not all that used to american style comics. I wished we had more character interactions instead of things beings narrated.

Other than that the story is enjoyable and I had a lot of fun. Kris Anka’s art and character designs are wonderful especially for Nico and Karolina. The plot does pick up a better pace in the later volumes. 

I wish there was more focus on friendships and the group working together and not just on relationship drama. Nico and Karolina getting together was very sudden, Karolina barely just broke up with her girlfriend. They are my favorite pair tho so I am not gonna complain. The thing with Gert and Chase and age differences due to time travel is just weird, let them be friends and leave it at that.

Where to find:

The book on Goodreads

Buy on Amazon

Scott Pilgrim Vol. 1 by Bryan Lee O’Malley

First of all, the movie is an absolute cinematic masterpiece. Edgar Wright has to be one of the best visual storytellers out there making movies. Even though I know the movie by heart, it is the first time I actually sat down to read the comic.

Rating: ✨✨✨✨✨

Genre: graphic novel, comic, slice of life, humor, romance

Content warnings: comic book fights (no gratituous violence), some cheating and controlling characters (frown upon)

The dialogue is very funny and on point, I didn’t realize so many scenes were lifted from the comic to the movie. The story follows around Scott, an unemployed 23 year old slacker. He lives in a one room place with his roommate Wallace and for some god knows why reason dates a 17 year old high schooler. The thing about Scott is, he is not really the best guy, but he is pretty okay and he learns how to be better at least. He also plays in an indie band with friends which seems to be the most he has going on in his life right now. Right until he starts dreaming about a very cool, american girl – who turns out be a real life person who is new in town.

This is where the story starts, Scott gets quickly obsessed with Ramona and he has to figure out how to date her. The only thing in his way is, well, his own girlfriend whom he has not broken up with yet and Ramona’s several exes whom he has to fight.

The art style is unique, it conveys the characters styles and personalities great. The emotions are conveyed very well. The dialogue is witty and funny and highly relatable.

Where to find:

The book on Goodreads

Buy on Amazon

Mob Psycho 100: Reigen by ONE

Huge thank you to Dark Horse Manga and Edelweiss for providing an advanced copy, as a long time fan it is a dream come true to read this volume!

Rating: ✨✨✨✨

Genre: manga, shounen, supernatural

Content warnings: some spooky scary ghosts, death mentioned

This book is a spin-off for the main story Mob Psycho 100. If you don’t know the manga here is a quick rundown. It follows Mob, an average kid with powerful psychic powers on his journey to make friends and try to be his best self. The main thesis of the story is how important kindness is above all else and how the people in our lives can inspire us. There is also a fair amount of ONE’s trademark humor in it.

As I haven’t read the last volume of the main story (and it’s not yet fully published in English) I don’t know exactly how much later Mob Psycho 100: Reigen is set. It contains some spoilers and cameos up to the second anime season (around volume 12 of the manga). It was drawn after the main story wrapped up and you can tell how much ONE has improved.

This story focuses on Mob’s friend, Tome who is in high school now. Tome always bas been a huge enthusiast of anything occult and her old dream was to develop telepathic powers herself. As she moved to high school she decided to put these interests away a bit and focus on socializing instead. Now she has made some friends in school but the truth is, she is utterly bored. They don’t seem to be interested in the same things and she is not that invested in hearing about boys and dating.

The only time she feels alive is at her secret part-time job: she assists at the Spirits & Such consulting office. Her boss is the infamous psychic, Reigen Arataka, who is also Mob’s longtime mentor. Or at least in Tome’s head the job is exciting, the reality is nothing interesting seems to happen when she is around. And Reigen didn’t exactly hire her either, she just keeps popping up at the office on her own accord, waiting for something interesting to happen.

I found this standalone a bit creepy, it had a few unsettling ghost stories. It was a fun dynamic to see headstrong Tome trying to get involved in the psychic world and Reigen trying his best to look out for her so she doesn’t get hurt but refusing to damage her self-esteem himself.

Tome and Reigen’s interactions were funny as the two are rather similar and they can both be very headstrong. It was sweet to see that Reigen cared about her wellbeing above all else.

This was a sweet story and I wholeheartedly recommend to any fan of the series. This volume was more character focused so the main plot wasn’t very complex which was fine for a one-shot. We also got a few cameos from series regulars which added to the enjoyment. There were also some really funny scenes, with the trademark Mob Psycho humor.

Where to find:

The book on Goodreads

Buy on Amazon