Happy Friday, chums! I hope that your week has treated you kindly!
April was an interesting month for me with regard to reading. Most of the novels that I had read were quite disappointing, which may have slipped me into a bit of a reading slump. However, the vast majority of the manga that I read were rather great and ended up being my saving grace for the month.
I’ve shared first impressions for a couple of the manga serials already, with the remainders going out with the upcoming week. The only thing that I feel disappointed with is the fact that I didn’t get a chance to meet my monthly goal of books. I had hoped to read fifteen total books. Alas, I only managed eleven.
You can check-out my monthly reads down below. You’ll find the title, author, genre, a super succinct synopsis, links to reviews (if there are any), and my overall rating. I shan’t be reviewing every single one of the titles mentioned as I simply didn’t have many things to say about those respective books.
The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Hercule Poirot #1) by Agatha Christie
The first Hercule Poirot novel is about a dude who ends up on a friend’s country estate to heal from wounds when a murder mystery occurs during his stay. He calls upon an old Belgian buddy with a passion for detective work to help solve the case! This was my first Christie book and while it was slow and had some anti-sematic language I didn’t care for (not surprising given that it was written in the 20s), it wasn’t a bad read by far. For more info, here’s my spoiler-free review. 3.25/5.
The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See
A historical fiction novel about two women who are part of an all-female diving community on a small Korean island called Jeju. They develop a deep-seated friendship as they grow side-by-side and experience a plethora of terrible wars together, starting in the 1930s. This is one of the best books that I have read in 2019 and it’s an excellent mark of what a dedicated researcher can accomplish with enough diligence and respect to the culture and history that they’re writing about. Check out my review for more info. 4.5/5.
The Test by Sylvain Neuvel
The Test is a speculative fiction novella about a British citizenship test that consists of twenty-five questions and a royal mind-fuck unlike any other. This is was a phenomenal book that established Neuvel as one of my favourite modern authors. My review can be found here. 5/5.
A Natural History of Dragons (Memoirs of Lady Trent #1) by Marie Brennan
This is the first book in a fantasy series that follows a natural historian named Lady Trent, chronicling her childhood fascination for dragons and how that led to her first adventure in studying them up-close and personal. This was one of the most boring novels that I had read all month. It has some good traits, but overall, not great for folks wanting a true adventure experience. My spoiler-free review. 2.5/5.
The Diary of a Tokyo Teen by Christine Mari Inzer
A non-fiction graphic novel about a Japanese-American teen’s experience visiting her home country of Japan at age sixteen, which is approximately five to six years after she moved to America with her parents. This was a pleasant and adorable read that I shall be reviewing by the weekend’s end. It has anecdotes about what it was like returning to Tokyo years later—the differences and the similarities—with a candid and honest lens.
Pink by Kyoko Okazaki
A josei manga about a girl who is a prostitute in order to fund her fashionista interests and to help her feed a very unusual pet that she has. It’s quite a feminist novel about a woman who doesn’t feel shame in the things she does. She’s confident and comfortable in her body, yet she isn’t immune to insecurities and loneliness. It was a cool, fun manga that highlights what being a free-spirited woman in Japan in the 1980s was like. My only qualm was something involving the pet. It caused my heart to hurt so much I dropped the rating a tiny bit. No review. 3.5/5.
Golden Kamuy Volumes 1, 2, & 3 by Satoru Noda
A seinen, Japanese-style Western that follows a soldier named Sugimoto who is returning from war in search of a means of fulfilling a comrade’s dying wish: to care for his wife. When Sugimoto learns about a dangerous new treasure, he decides to risk it all and go hunting for it. I love, love, love this manga. It’s going on my favourite seinen pile for sure. I shall be doing a first impressions for this next week, but if you watched the anime and felt it was good yet missing something, then read the manga. It’s so much better! Wow!
In This Corner of the World by Fumiyo Kōno
A seinen, historical fiction story about a young woman who gets married and balances her new life of being a wife and caretaker for her husband’s family, while trying to find a way to make the most of her challenging circumstances—all during the Second World War. This was exceptional beyond belief. I want to write a review for it but will hold off until I watch the film so I can do a sort of comparison between the two. However, if you are in the market for learning more about the everyday lives of the people who were affected by the Second World War and the drop of nuclear bombs, with stunning artwork to boot, make sure to read this manga.
Tokyo Tarareba Girls Volume 1 by Akiko Higashimura
A josei, romance, comedy series about women in their 30s who ponder the what ifs of the chances they let pass them by in an effort to focus on other ambitions. This was gloriously honest, relatable, and hilarious; another series that I fucking love and shall be adding to my favourites pile. It definitely breathes a candid and unapologetic bit of life into what mid-life adulting can feel like for women, even the fiercely independent and stunning ones. My first impressions are here.
Satoko & Nada Volume 1 by Yupechika
A slice-of-life manga series about a Japanese woman who moves to America for her studies and becomes roommates with a Saudi Arabian Muslim woman, and the friendship they develop in the process. Yet another new favourite! This is such a feel-good tale about female empowerment and wonderfully positive friendships without being disrespectful or offensive in the least. My first impressions went up earlier today.
That does it for my April reading wrap-up! May’s plans are to read some #OwnVoices Islamic fiction books, mostly of the young adult variety as my nephews have been sending me an abundance of recommendations, and also because there are many excellent books releasing this month by Muslim WOC (women of colour). Additionally, I’ll be reading comics and hopefully a spot of fantasy! Since I didn’t meet my goal of reading fifteen books in April, that will be my reading goal for May!
I wish you all a beautiful and charming weekend ahead!