I read 41 books between March and April. So… quarantine has been doing fucking wonders for my bookish soul. In a way, it’s been doing great things for the otaku in me as well since most of the books I read were manga volumes. But you know? Books are books and I ate a whole damn truck full of them. In hindsight, I suppose that my last couple of months weren’t nearly as atrocious as they seemed to be.
Out of the 41 titles, I have narrowed down my list to the best 14 reads for the last couple of months. Some of them may have reviews up, while others shall have their respective reviews up later this month, if I decide to chat about them in more depth. Lately, I have been embracing the notion that some books are going to be too basic to have much to talk about, which means there probably won’t be a point in dedicating an entire review or post to them, and that’s okay. Also, if there’s nothing much to say about them, then there’s less work for me as a blogger.
Since the last Best Books of X & Y did so well, I think I’m going to stick with this structure for my reading wrap-ups. I mean, they must be much easier to consume than a list of 41 books along all the snippets that go with them! Plus, this allows me to spread some positivity around rather than find creatively, semi-professional methods of stating that something was absolute fucking shite experience and must be avoided like the plague (ooh… probably not the best choice of words, whoops).
Check out the awesome novels down below. If I have something listed for No Review and you are quite curious about it, let me know and I shall consider tossing something short and sweet together for you. The list is ordered by genre and clicking the titles shall take you to their respective GoodReads / AniList pages. Reviews shall be linked at the end. Please note that some reviews shall be on my sibling blog, The Djinn Reader.
The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty: First book in an adult #OwnVoices Islamic epic fantasy series, the book kicks off by introducing us to a local thief with extraordinary healing powers. One day while trying to help with an exorcism she unknowingly summons one of the greatest beings ever. Together they formulate a special bond and find themselves on the run from dangerous creatures, leading them on a journey to the most magical city every built, Daevabad. This is my favourite fantasy book to date. I loved it so fucking much. If you like fantasy, get off your ass and go read it. Full review. 5/5
The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty: The second novel in the epic adult fantasy series that I’m incredibly obsessed with, it continues to follow Nahri and respective parties with the aftermath that was the jaw-dropping, WTF climax of book one, The City of Brass. World-building continues to be absolutely brilliant, as does the intense political intrigue and ramifications. Full review. 5/5
Prelude to Insurrection by J.C. Wang: The prequel to an #OwnVoices Chinese fantasy saga following an orphaned half-Elf spy who hopes to thwart a rebellion before it begins. This was the first book in the recommended reading order I obtained via the author for his series. It has excellent writing and environments, good intrigue, and a curiously spunky female main character. It’s about 30-40 pages and does a superb job of whetting one’s appetite for the series to come. A more in-depth review shall be up later in the month. 4/5
Storm Front by Jim Butcher: The first instalment in a long ass urban fantasy series, it follows a wizard named Harry Dresden who also works as a private detective in the city of Chicago. When he’s brought in on a gruesome double homicide, Harry gets entangled in a web of duplicity, revenge, and grief. Full review. 4/5
Untamed Shore by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: An #OwnVoices Latinx mystery novel set in the 80s following a teen who’s desperate to escape her small town and its toxic anti-feminist culture. When a trio of foreigners arrive for vacationing, she gets pulled into a world of wealth and temptation. After one of them is found dead, a curious mystery unfolds, threatening to drag her into the dangerous troughs. A scorching whodunnit with tons of promise and culturally rich elements that is methodical and paced, as well as riveting and exploratory. Full review. 4.25/5
The Map of Salt & Stars by Zeyn Joukhadar: An #OwnVoices Islamic & Syrian-American tale about a girl named Nour who moves back to Syria with her mum and sisters shortly after her father’s passing. Before she has the time to fully acclimate to her new surroundings, her town is bombed, forcing her family to flee across numerous borders in order to fight for their very existence. This refugee story is one of the most powerful books I have ever read. It’s lush and poignant while still being raw and genuine and utterly heart-wrenching. Read for Ramadan Readathon. Full Review. 5/5
Japanese Fashion Cultures: Dress & Gender in Contemporary Japan by Masafumi Monden: An #OwnVoices Japanese nonfiction book about the fashion trends of men’s fashion in Japan and how much of the fashion crosses typical gender identifiers to surpass the binary. It was such an excellently written book with tons of information and additional resources for further reading. It wasn’t super dense either and easy to read and digest. Read for Uni. No review. 5/5
Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII by David Starkey: A nonfiction book that discusses all six of Henry VIII’s wives in order. This was supremely detailed and went over so much information about all the wives, including their childhoods and political life up to their marriage to Mr Tudor Douchebag. It went on to make various comparisons and contrasts between the marriages while examining Henry VIII’s struggles with romance and the impact it had on his political influences. If I could name one critique, it would be that perhaps sometimes the book was too detailed. Otherwise, an excellent resource for those interested in this portion of English history. No review. 4.25/5
Kawaii!: Japan’s Culture of Cute by Manami Okazaki & Geoff Johnson: An #OwnVoices Japanese nonfiction reference that chronicles the birth of Kawaii culture. The book includes quite a few interviews from creators credited with being the inventors of Kawaii culture, dedicated sections on an array of Kawaii culture facets such as maid cafés, loli culture, and much more. The presentation of this book was as cute as the content it was discussing. Like the other nonfictions, it was pretty detailed, but I loved how succinct it was. Each section was pretty much wrapped up in one to three pages tops before moving on to the next. Yet, it never felt like it over-shared or under-shared. I would highly recommend this to folx interested in understanding the origins of Kawaii culture and understanding what it really entails, particularly from the Japanese lens. No review. 4.5/5
Tsubaki-chō Lonely Planet Vols. 1-12 by Mika Yamamori: A shōjo, romance story about a girl who gets hired as a live-in maid for a recluse young author after her father racks up a shit ton of debt. Eventually her and this gloriously handsome author dude have feels for one another, which complicates things. This is probably one of my favourite shōjo manga of all-time. It’s just so perfect in so many wonderful ways. A full review shall be up later in the month. 4.5/5
Naruto Volume 13 by Masashi Kishimoto: A shōnen, action-adventure about a loud-mouthed orphan ninja-in-training who also happens to be the vessel for one of the most terrifying powers in existence. Through his training and missions, he learns about friendship, family, and the array of human suffering that the world has within it. This volume focused on shit blowing up big-time during the third part of the Chūnin exams. Good action, good pacing, good intrigue. No review for the individual volume. Rock Lee and Guy Sensei’s character spotlight. 4/5
Black Bird Volume 1 by Kanoko Sakurakōji: A shōjo, supernatural romance story about a young girl who is waiting for the boy that promised to love and marry her when they were kids; whom she also hasn’t seen in many years. One day, after they’ve long become teenagers, she’s attacked by some shady people. A handsome man comes to her rescue, revealing that he may be the boy of her dreams, as well as something else she never expected. This is a cute, slightly smutty series with some mildly annoying traits. A manga first impressions shall hit BiblioNyan in May. 4/5
Nodame Cantabile Volume 1 by Tomoko Ninomiiya: A josei, music-focused romance series about a guy named Chiaki who’s a brilliant musician that hopes to become a famous conductor one day. While attending a college in Japan, he encounters a young woman who is everything that he tends to loathe, except for the fact that she has unbelievable raw talent for playing the piano. This is a great series. It has tons of references to classical music (makes my soul so content) and some great friendship dynamics that isn’t typical of either shōjo or josei genres. No review or first impressions planned. 4.25/5
I have already read about three or four books in May that I can’t wait to share with you all in my next wrap-up gig (end of June). Reviews for these novels shall hit The Djinn Reader over the course of the next week or so, as they are #OwnVoices Asian literature picks. Mini reviews for the Japanese books will make an appearance on BiblioNyan as well in the upcoming week or two.
(I apologise for the randomness of today’s writing. I blame the lack of sustenance. Yay, food deprived fasting brains… expect more of these wacky shenanigans until mid-May. ✌🏽)