July and August were mostly graphic novel months for me. I read quite a bit of manga with a few Western comics, and a splash of novels here and there. In a way, I’m quite pleased because I’ve been in a manga reading rut since 2018. To be able to jump back into them and actually feel a strong desire to keep reading them has been a welcome change in my bibliophilic theatrics as of late. However, since I have been reading a lot more manga than normal, combined with the fact that I didn’t do a wrap-up for July last month, this month’s instalment is a tad bit lengthy with 30 books. Granted a some of these shall be compressed due to multiple instalments in a given series, but still. That’s a shite ton of stuff.
As I sat down and sorted through what I read between the two months individually, I recognised that my average intake of books for 2019 so far has been about 14 to 15 books per month. While it hasn’t felt like a productive biblio-year for me, the reading stats seems to be saying that my assumptions or feelings are gloriously wrong. This has greatly helped me to fight off all the impending ruts that threatened to sneak attack me. Yay, small victories and little gratitudes, am I right?
As per usual, everything shall be categorised. I’ll first start with the month, followed by genres. Since there are so many titles to get through, I’ll give the briefest snippet I can, overall rating, and respective links. If I decide not to review something that you would like more information on, please let me know in the comments and I’ll go ahead and outline a review for ya.
Half a King by Joe Abercrombie
Grimdark fantasy & first instalment in the Shattered Sea trilogy, it follows a young man named Yarvi who’s chosen path in life is drastically altered when his father and brother die suddenly during battle. Ripped away from his desire to become a priest, he’s placed on the throne as a crippled prince where betrayal sends him on a journey of bitter sadness, grief, and vengeance. Full-review. Everything I love about dark fantasy stories in a first instalment that can be read as a stand-alone. 5/5.
A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne
Epic fantasy about an intricate world involving shape-shifting bards, fire-wielding giants, and kids who can talk to magical creatures that’s filled to the brim with complex political intrigue and a wonderfully imaginative realm of magic, genocide, and deceit. DNF due to reading rut. I will give this a second try in the future because the premise is fucking brilliant.
The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski
Grimdark, high fantasy novel that inspired the video game franchise. Follows a ruggedly dashing and somewhat idiotic dude named Geralt who’s an assassin for hire that’s called upon to kill all the strange and dangerous things that others can’t put down. DNF due to reading rut. This is great if you’re in the mood for something comedic and that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Hoping to return to this one in the future as well.
Final Girls by Riley Sager
Suspense thriller that’s about a couple of women known as “ Final Girls,” or girls who were sole survivors of mass murders, that are brought together when one of their own is found dead. As they learn about one another and how they’ve processed (or ran away) from the terrible trauma they faced, a new threat arises that is determined to ruin the peace they’ve built for themselves. Full review. Bland, boring, and unnecessarily dragged out. 2/5.
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Psychological thriller about a woman who shot her husband in the face five times and then stopped speaking immediately afterwards. A lone psychologist takes on her case, determined to find out the reasons behind her self-inflicted silence as well to discover the events of that shocking evening. Review not planned. This is one of the most brilliant narratives, especially a debut narrative, that I’ve read. 5/5.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
Non-fiction novel about how tidying up around the house can have a long-lasting and positive impact on our mental and emotional well-being. Then it goes into providing a step-by-step method for tidying up in your own lives. Review not planned. Was very informative but becomes a bit repetitive by the end. 4/5.
Runaway Max (Stranger Things) by Brenna Yovanoff
Young adult novel that tells the story of Stranger Things Season 2 from Max’s perspective, including some backstory on her life before she moved to Hawkins. DNF due to brutal scene of cat abuse. I don’t tolerate that shite, sorry. Will never pick it up again.
Hungry Hearts edited by Elsie Chapman & Caroline Tung Richmond
Young adult diverse anthology of short stories written by Asian authors who share tales about food and special dishes that have a significant cultural impact on their respective cultures and beliefs. Review not planned. One of the best anthologies I’ve ever read. 4.25/5.
Alien: Echo by Mira Grant
Young adult sci-fi horror novel that takes place in the Alien universe. Follows twin sisters who are dragged to planetary colony by their parentals. As they struggle to fit in in their own ways, monstrous aliens show up and create one bloody havoc after another. Full review. One of the worst fucking things I’ve ever read in my life. 1/5.
The Mummy: The Rise & Fall of Xango’s Ax by Joshua Jabcuga & Stephen Mooney
Fantasy graphic novel that is a prequel to the third Mummy film, Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. Follows Rick O’Connell and his son as they end up in South Asia for some treasure-hunting shenanigans. Full review. This was horrid as horrid can be, and not a good addition to the franchise at all. 1.75/5.
Naruto Volume 10 by Masashi Kishimoto
Shōnen, martial arts, fantasy manga. This volume takes place during the Chūnin Exam arc, specifically following Rock Lee’s fight in a later phase of the examination. Rock Lee spotlight here. 4.5/5.
Satoko & Nada Volume 2 by Yupechika
Josei manga about a Japanese exchange student and a Muslim girl from the Middle East who end up becoming roommates as they attend college in America. Exquisitely charming as always. 4.25/5.
To Your Eternity Volumes 4 & 5 by Yoshitoki Ōima
Shōnen, fantasy narrative about a being that adapts and learns about life as it interacts with things and people around them; exploration of the true essence of existentialism. Started off really strong and fell to about average quality in these two volumes. 3.5/5; 3/5.
The Imperial Alchemist by A.H. Wang
OwnVoices Chinese historical thriller about an archaeologist who ends up on the hunt for the elixir of life and trying to unravel one of the greatest mysteries of Chinese history. Review to come. This was an excellent book with interesting commentary on humans and how they never evolve as sentient beings on a psychological level. 4/5.
Schoolgirl by Osamu Dazai
OwnVoices Japanese fiction following the day and life of a teenage girl. The book is an allegory that focuses on the insecurities, fears, and uncertainties that Japan faced as a nation during Postwar era as it veered towards modernisation and faced an identity crisis of modernising with Western standards versus trying to retain it’s traditional cultural identity. Review not planned. 3.5/5.
Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
OwnVoices Korean-American legal thriller about children with autism, their families, and the treatment they underwent via hyperbolic chambers. One of the finest commentaries on the Asian immigrant experience that I’ve read, specifically as it pertains to Korean Americans. Review to come. 4.75/5.
Incarnations: A History of India in Fifty Lives by Sunil Khilnani
OwnVoices nonfiction about fifty lesser known individuals that had an impact on India in various ways. I wish there was more subjective commentary from the author that was personal. It also severely lacked female figures and feminist commentary that was desperately needed. Review not planned. 3.5/5.
Ancient Myths & Early History of Japan: A Cultural Foundation by Michiko Yamaguchi Aoki
OwnVoices nonfiction history book on Japan’s earliest formulation as a civilisation discussing their possible origins as a country and the significant outside influences that affected their progression. Review not planned. 3.5/5.
To Your Eternity Volumes 6 & 7 by Yoshitoki Ōima
Shōnen, fantasy narrative about a being that adapts and learns to life as it interacts with things and people around them; exploration of the true essence of existentialism. The series started to feel very lost and disjointed from here on out. I dropped the series after Volume 7. 3/5; 2/5.
Tokyo Tarareba Girls Volumes 6 & 7 by Akiko Higashimura
Josei, romance comedy about three women in their thirties who are struggling to find romance and start a family prior to the 2020 Olympics, while being career women. This is one of my favourite manga serials ever written. It’s so sincere, hilarious, and unfiltered with honesty. First Impressions. 5/5; 5/5.
Ōoku Volumes 1 & 2 by Fumi Yoshinaga
Seinen, historical, alternate history series about a plague that kills off the majority of Japan’s male population, forcing the rise of a matriarchal society, including female shōguns. I was really liking this story until it brutally killed off a kitten for a lame fucking plot device. Dropped. 5/5; DNF.
Black Torch Volumes 1, 2, & 3 by Tsuyoshi Takaki
Shōnen, supernatural manga about a teen named Jirō Azuma who via specific circumstances ends up being fused to a Mononoke. Afterwards, the duo ends up in a plot for survival and political shenanigans. Been enjoying this series quite a bit and I look forward to finishing it up promptly. First Impressions. 4/5; 4.25/5; 4/5.
Golden Kamuy Volume 11 by Satoru Noda
Seinen, historical, Japanese-style Western manga about a guy named Sugimoto who ends up on a quest for the ultimate treasure after promising his dying comrade to care for the guy’s family after his death. I love everything about this series. Its savagery, its kooky and outrageously inappropriate comedy, its care and consideration with discussing Ainu culture and more. First Impressions. 5/5.
Wow, we’ve made it to the end of this list! I must confess that my fingers are a tad bit sore from typing this all up. But it was fun and worth it. I hope y’all found something to catch your fancy! I’ll see you again with another reading wrap-up in October. Happy bookish shenanigans to you. ♥
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