March and April were about average reading months for me. I spent most of my time reading through manga because my ability to focus on novels have been quite moody. Nonetheless, I found some great graphic novels to enjoy that helped me to stay in the reading groove for the most part, which I’m grateful for. Towards the end of April, I finally found my out of the rut pit and was able to read a few fantasy novels. Suffice to say, it put me in the mindset for sword-and-sorcery narratives, so that’s what I am aiming to focus on in May and possibly June.
There were eighteen total books between the comics, manga, and novels that I felt were absolutely superb, and today I’m going to share those titles with you! Respective GoodReads pages are linked via their titles. I’ve also provided links to AniList pages (for the manga) and to any reviews or musings that I have shared on BiblioNyan previously. Content warnings are provided in detail within all reviews. If a review isn’t planned for it, then I’ve included the CW within their respective sections down below.
Black Magick Volumes 2 & 3 by Greg Rucka, Nicola Scott: A supernatural, dark fantasy graphic novel series that follows detective Rowan Black. She has worked really hard to keep a few aspects of her life quite private. However, when a mysterious force begins to target Rowan in an attempt to kill her, she realises that someone out there knows her secrets and is determined to expose her if they can’t take her life. The three main things that I adored beyond all else are the ambiance and tone of the tale, the pacing, and the monochromatic illustrations. Together all three of these elements created one of the finest comic introductions that I’ve had since I first picked up Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda. You can check out my review of Volume One here. All my thoughts and feelings thus far are still 100% the same, if not more heightened with intrigue. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Something is Killing the Children Volume 1 by James Tynion IV, Werther Dell’Edera: A supernatural horror graphic novel series. When children start to go missing in the town of Archer’s Creek, the townsfolx are filled with hopelessness and fear. Then a mysterious woman arrives to reveal that horrifying monsters are behind the abduction, and she’ll do whatever she needs to in order to take them down, regardless of the price. I picked this up on a whim from Hoopla one night because I was searching for something dark and malevolent, and it was perfect for what I was craving. Incredibly violent, bloody, gory, and disturbing, the suspense lasted from start to finish as the I watched kids mysteriously disappearing and then winding up completely mutilated in the forest shortly afterwards. Definitely not for the weak-hearted and folx that aren’t interested in gritty and violent mysteries. But the story and artwork are stunning and very much worth the curiosity. RECOMMENDED. CW: Graphic blood, gore, and violence, particularly against children. Graphic death and body mutilation of children. Kidnapping. Cursing. Consumption of food and alcohol. Disturbing supernatural imagery.
Curiosity Thrilled the Cat by Sofie Kelly: The first book in a cosy mystery series about a librarian named Kathleen Paulson after she moves to Maryville Heights, Minnesota where she gets adopted by two stray kitties. Owen is a tabby with a catnip addiction and Hercules is a tuxedo babe that shares Kathleen’s love of Barry Manilow. When a murder interrupts the local town’s music festival, Kathleen is labelled the prime suspect. I picked this up for the kitties and stayed for the sassy women, more kitties, and a calm, curious murder mystery treat! Cosy mystery lovers and fans of felines shall definitely enjoy this little wholesome novel. Visit my full review for more details on what makes it great. RECOMMENDED.
Alien by Alan Dean Foster: A novelisation of the 1979 sci-fi, psychological horror film of the same name, it follows the crew of a commercial tug who are awoken from hypersleep by their AI when they come across a distress beacon at an unfamiliar planet. Deciding to investigate, the crew quickly realises that they received much more than they bargained for. This is cheesy yet psychological and tense with suspenseful horror elements. If you’re a fan of the film and if you enjoy slow-burn sci-fi psychological horror, you may very well enjoy this read. I know I definitely did. My full review offers more detailed info. RECOMMENDED.
What is Japanese Cinema: A History by Inuhiko Yomota: An own-voices Japanese comprehensive yet accessible text on the history and evolution of Japanese cinema from the late 1800s to present times. The book discusses Western influences as well the characteristics that make Japanese cinema so inherently “Japanese.” This is a very neat little book that succinctly discusses the rise of cinema in Japan during pre-and post-war eras, and how the shifting time periods and political atmospheres impacted the film industry of Japan from a film-maker’s perspective. Easily accessible for folx that aren’t super technically savvy in film lingo, but it would help to be somewhat familiar with a bit of Japanese history and some of the more prominent Japanese film-makers and literary writers of the time to comprehend the full extent of the information as it doesn’t go into too much background info with respect to those things. Overall, it’s an excellent own-voices cultural reference that I HIGHLY RECOMMEND. CW: Discussion of wartime events including censorship, military occupation and colonialism.
Thieves of Blood by Tim Waggoner: A sword and sorcery, fantasy novel that is set in the Eberron universe, it follows an assassin-turned-priest human and his half-orc chum as they travel the lands ridding the world of evil and helping the less fortunate. While visiting the priest’s home-town, something malevolent washes over the city and sends the duo on an epic quest to eradicate it. This is one of my favourite trilogies of all-time, and this was my seventh or eight time reading it. I’m planning on doing a full review for this book (finally) later in the week, which shall contain a full list of CW, but if you enjoy supremely adventurous sword-and-sorcery that can be a bit dark and involves some great swashbuckling action, then you should check this out if you can. It’s currently only available as an eBook. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Snow White with the Red Hair Volumes 1, 2, & 3 by Sorata Akiduki: A shōjo, romance, slice-of-life series follows a young herbalist named Shirayuki. She resides in the kingdom of Tanbarun and is relatively known for her beautifully flowing apple-red hair. When this unique quality catches the interest of the kingdom’s prince, he demands that she turn herself over to him as his concubine. Disenchanted by his loutish and entitled attitude, Shirayuki chops off her hair, leaving it behind in her humble shop as a gift for the prince. Then she flees to the neighbouring country, where she encounters a dashingly handsome young man and his two childhood chums. While I haven’t written up anything on the manga (yet), I did watch and love the anime series (which introduced me to the manga). Here are five reasons why you should watch it, and all of these things apply to the manga as well, with one extra quirk: there’s a bit more content in the manga versus the anime. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. [AniList] CW: Mild violence and fighting. Kidnapping. Attempted sexual exploitation (brief). Blood (brief). Sexual relations (kissing). Sexual innuendo. Preparation and consumption of food. Consumption of alcohol. Smoking (brief). Burglary.
Love in Focus Volumes 1, 2, & 3 by Yoko Nogiri: A shōjo, romance manga series that revolves around a young teen named Mako who has a passion for photography. When a tragedy occurs in her personal life, she uses her passion as a means to distract her from the complexities of the emotions that follow. Noticing her sense of feeling lost, her childhood chum, Kei, invites her to attend his high school where they have a rather prestigious photography club, to which Mako accepts willingly. Upon her arrival, she bumps into a stranger that shall turn into an unexpected muse and finally finds a way to heal her grieving heart. Gorgeous artwork, sweet no-nonsense romance, beautifully endearing friendships, and lovely spring vibes—all fantastic reasons to check this out. Plus, it’s short and feel-good. My full review goes into more detail, but this is perfect for fans of quick and delightful romance manga. RECOMMENDED. [AniList]
Mermaid Saga Collector’s Edition Volume 2 by Rumiko Takahashi: A shōnen, fantasy horror series that follows a young man who ate the flesh of a mermaid and became one of the rare individuals to obtain immortality. After 500 years of life, he sets out to find a way to end his immortality, and encounters many other people who fell victim to the allure of the mermaid flesh’s power. If you’re a fan of Rumiko Takahashi and horror, you’ll probably like this, granted you don’t mind blood and gore. It’s a non-linear story about one guy and another character he meets along the way, and the life they have post-immortality. It’s wonderfully psychological, dark and macabre, and one of the best horror stories I’ve in the manga medium. Additionally, these Collector Editions (two separate volumes total) are utterly breath-taking. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. [AniList] CW: Graphic blood, gore, and violence. Body mutilation. Body horror. Cannibalism. Nudity. Child abuse. Depiction of oppression. Death (including death of a child) via poisoning, violence, and wartime atrocities. Suicide. Attempted sexual assault. Mild cursing. Preparation and consumption of food. Consumption of alcohol.
Naruto Volumes 45 & 46 by Masashi Kishimoto: A shōnen, martial arts, fantasy adventure series that follows an orphan ninja boy from the ninja village of Konoha who harbours an extremely formidable beast within his body, causing him to be ostracised and neglected. However, this boy may be the only person to save the village when they are attacked over and over again for the secret of the beast’s powers. These two volumes follow Pain’s Attack Arc of the series and are some of my favourite instalments thus far. The fight with Pain from Akatsuki is totally brilliant and brutal, and while I haven’t reached that fight in the anime yet, the manga edition was so badass. It is excellently written and executed, and Pain is one of the most compelling characters in all of Naruto as well. I’ve written two posts for the manga to date and they are: Guy & Rock Lee Character Spotlights and Sasuke vs Itachi Musings. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. [AniList] CW: Graphic adventurous violence via martial arts and ninjutsu. Mild cursing. Death. Bullying. Grief.
Berserk Deluxe Edition Volume 6 by Kentarō Miura: A seinen, dark fantasy, sword and sorcery series that is known for being one of the most explicit things in existence. It follows a former mercenary named Guts—also known as the Black Swordsman—and his epic quest for vengeance while being persistently pursued by morbidly grotesque demons of various sorts. This volume wraps up the Conviction Arc within the manga series. I’m not sure what more to say about Berserk that I haven’t said already. It’s such a vividly violent and over-the-top supernatural dark fantasy series and I’m completely fucking obsessed with it. I would say this is more for fans of sword-and-sorcery and folx that don’t mind narratives that are absolutely unforgiving in their content with respect to fucked-up depictions of abuse, oppressions, enslavement, torture, satanic rituals, and much, much more. Readers looking for something far less grotesque in nature, should definitely steer clear. I’ve two posts up for the manga so far: Deluxe Edition Volume One Review and Guts and Casca Manga Couple Spotlight. RECOMMENDED overall. [AniList]
A Man and His Cat Volume 1 by Umi Sakurai: A shōnen, slice of life, comedy manga series about an elderly gentleman named Kanda who visits a local pet shop one day and adopts a round, one-year-old kitty that no one else seems interested in. Feeling that the older, bigger kitty has quite a loveable appeal to him, he brings it home and together they build a hilarious bond of affection and companionship. Even though it’s a comedy, it made me tear up with such heart-warming, fond memories of my own kitties. I go into detail in my full review as to why y’all need to pick this up if you haven’t yet, especially if you’re a kitty lover! I’m looking forward to more volumes of the manga soon. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. [AniList]
Overall, I’m satisfied with my reading shenanigans for the last couple of months. I think if I ever fell into a rut so severe that I couldn’t even turn to graphic novels (comics and manga), then I’d be very disheartened. But I’m keeping my fingers tightly crossed that it doesn’t happen anytime soon!