Hey, y’all! It’s been a while since I last posted about my recent reads, and let me tell you—I’ve read a lot since the beginning of the year! I mean, it’s not unusual for me to start the year making huge headway into my reading challenge, then drop WAY behind by the end of the summer/autumn. But this year I’ve just about killed my book count goal already! I’m 45 down of 55. That’s crazy!
Granted, it’s thanks to manga that I’ve gotten so far. I was in a funk through the latter half of December and January, and the thought of plunging into a novel was exhausting. But manga takes a lot less effort for me to read, and it helped me keep fed in story during a season when I would have otherwise starved. They gave me laughter and all the feels in all the fun and wild ways that manga does. These last few months I’ve developed a renewed love for that style of storytelling. So it’s a good thing my brand-new manga shelf is so big after all. Because I’ve got a few more series on my list to collect . . .😅
But anyway, let’s take a look at what all those reads were (and don’t worry, there won’t actually be 45. I consolidated👍)
Gentle Ben – This was such a sweet story! Set in the Territory of Alaska, it tells of a young boy and his pet brown bear in a land of fierce beauty, rough neighbors, and unexpected kindness. Mark is an earnest kid, and what I loved was that his parents are behind him in his fight for Ben, supportive, honest, and tough as nails. It’s a rich tale of hard life in a wild frontier; of trust, loyalty, kindness, and even second chances.
Mob Psycho 100, volume 7 – Ahhhhh! I have been absolutely loving this series, and this latest volume drives matters up a notch when Mob fully realizes the potential of his powers—just in time for a job that could test his abilities beyond anything he’s faced before! Total cliffhanger ending, and of course the next volume hasn’t been released yet. Ahh!
Trigun Maximum, volumes 4-14 – Wow. It’s been so many years since the first time I read this series, I had forgotten so much! That can’t be good for my reading comprehension . . . But what a rollercoaster of events! High stakes, ideals tested to the limit, crushing losses, triumphant redemptions. It’s got the works, played out by a superb cast of characters and culminating to a bittersweet, perfect ending that left me in tears, I’ll be honest with you. Truly, it makes me want to go back and read it all over again because I’m just not ready to say goodbye!
Attack on Titan, volumes 33-34 – After 8+ years of reading this series, it has finally come to a close. This last stretch has been a wild ride, emotionally charged, and has more twists than the Oswegatchie river (ie. a LOT). The story is a dystopian-ish paranormal-ish horror (I know, far outside my stomping grounds, but hey) centered around a group of friends and military squadmates as they struggle to save humanity from man-eating anomalies called titans. It’s definitely one of the more gruesome stories I’ve read, but the plot is so full of mystery and adventure, fascinating twists, and political labyrinths that I couldn’t help but be drawn to find the answers. Honestly, though, I can’t say I fell in love with where it went after about the second half, but it’s an intriguing take on freedom, heroism, and human nature. It’s also the longest series I’ve read to date!
Noragami, volume 23 – I was first introduced to this story through the anime, and was so intrigued by it that I had to keep following the storyline through the manga. Things are really hyping up now for a major confrontation and I have NO idea where things are going to end up, but I am hoping that Yukiné can be restored to Yato before it’s too late! I don’t think my heart could take it if he’s lost . . .
Then Comes a Drifter – I’ve been on a paranormal/dystopian/western bent lately (if the above list is any indicator), so when this hard-core motorcycle-punk western came around I signed up for an ARC (advanced reader copy) in exchange for an honest review—and honestly? This book is wild! Saturated in exhaust fumes and gun smoke, the story is gritty and woven with gripping action, hair-raising confrontations, and an amazing cast of characters that are unique and diverse despite the Bad Guy’s best efforts (I hate him, by the way. Who does he think he is?? Self-absorbed, delusional cockroach. I could bite him.) Anyway, Banschbach really delivers on snarky humor without sacrificing depth of soul, dealing with pain, trauma, and loss while shining the light of hope, faith, and family, then dishing out a climax and ending that pleasantly surprised me—brownie points. I’ll be excited to see where things go from here!
Me & My Brothers, volumes 1-11– The sad truth is that I did not love this story. I went into it super excited because, you know, sibling stories are close to my heart and I’d heard that this one was sweet and so, so funny. At first it really was hilarious—a soon-to-be highschool girl who’s living alone after her grandmother’s death comes home one day to find out she has four older brothers who happen to have a severe sister complex. Their antics were so funny that it was a treat to watch. But come to find out, she’s not related to them by blood, and as the story progresses it turns into a romance between her and the brother who’s eleven years older than her. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with that dynamic, it still felt taboo because of the already established sibling relationship. And I found that particular brother obnoxious. The brothers’ overprotectiveness started to grate on me about halfway through the series, and the girl’s immature and unstable emotions got to be annoying, too. (Then again, I always have stated that romance isn’t my forte, and if it’s teen romance . . . I’ll admit that this was probably not the most suitable story for my tastes.) I rooted for Suzuki, a classmate with a crush on her, hoping against hope, but alas. My heart goes out to that sweet boy. He deserves better. And the ending had an interesting twist that went absolutely nowhere and finished off in an absolutely unsatisfying manner. Overall, I was disappointed. But there were saving graces! 1) Takeshi and Tsuyoshi, the youngest of the older brothers, had backstories with some substance, and but for the suffocating sister complex, were cool guys. 2) Suzuki. Poor, poor Suzuki. 3) The short stories the mangaka added to the end of each volume. They weren’t related to the main story at all, but they were sweet and rounded and cozy. Other than that . . . *shrug*
My Father is a Unicorn – That title, am I right? That alone made me want to check out this quirky little standalone manga—and it was SO FUNNY. Beautiful art, hilarious premise, unique characters (I mean, shape-shifting unicorn-man. Obviously.), great character development, and a rounded ending that was far more satisfying than the last one I read. A simple, clean, whimsical, and funny story. If you want a good laugh, I definitely recommend this book.
Drifting Dragons, volume 1 – This was such a fun story, and quite an unique twist on ‘dragon hunting’! Instead of adventurers questing for gold, protecting the realm from these fierce creatures, this airship crew hunt dragons for meat! I was fascinated by that premise, and fell instantly in love with this world and characters. Mika is such a quirky, somewhat mysterious guy with a real nose for food–in this case, dragons!–and I am so excited for more of this series.
Barakamon, volume 1 – I LOVED the anime. I finally decided to start pursuing the manga (another one of those hard-to-get-series. Why do I do this to myself?) I LOVED this volume. It has all the charm of the anime, plus more! I can’t get enough of Naru, she’s just such an intrepid little girl who is so much fun to watch. Handa is also a guy that those of us who are creatives (and maybe a bit fragile . . .) can totally relate to in his struggles. It’s hearty and heartfelt, full of fun, and just so cozy. It makes me feel cozy, I don’t know how else to explain it!
The Secret of the Swamp King – This book was such a quick, fun read, I don’t know why I didn’t pick it up a couple years ago when I read the first book in the series! Live and learn, I suppose. If you’ve ever wondered what a fantastical version of the story of David would be like, set in a Florida-ish island with deep swamps, hungry alligators, and rambitious feechies, this is the story for you! It’s quirky, adventurous, loaded with good laughs, and woven together by the threads of courage, honor, and loyalty that drive the characters ever onward.
The Way of the Wilderking – What a great conclusion to such a fun story! With so many familiar themes, Rogers takes us on a wild quest that challenges loyalty, tests mettle, redeems prodigals, and proves just how far friends will go for each other. The misadventures of Aiden and Dobro had me cracking up at every turn, and Dobro’s character won all the brownie points for his wit, wildness, and devotion. I love that kid, and the lengths he went to stick by Aiden’s side gave me all the feels. The mystery of Corenwald’s history had me scrambling to figure it out just as much (if not more so) than the characters themselves, and how it played into the bombastic conclusion was a triumph of gobsmacking proportions. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Kaiju no.8, volume 1 – This is a new series I feel like I can get behind. It’s pretty typical of the shonen style: an amateur with big dreams is stuck in a mediocre position until the inciting incident happens that propels him to use his newfound abilities and wit to strive for said dreams. It. Was. Hysterical. The premise drew me in, the characters got me to find a seat and settle in for what has already proven to be a thrilling ride of epic battles, stifled secrets, and all the snark a team of two sidekick-types can dish out on their unorthodox journey to heroism. More please.
Ouran High School Host Club, volumes 1-3 —I know, I know. Didn’t I learn the last time? Pink manga are dangerous? Highschool romances are not my forte? Both statements are true, but in my defense, I knew this manga from the anime years ago. I already knew what I was getting into, and while not a guilty pleasure, I’ll admit it’s an embarrassing one. Primarily for the two reasons stated above. But this one was done right. I loved the story and the crazy antics of these eccentric and awkward rich kids alongside the more practical-minded ‘commoner’ MC. It’s heartwarming and funny and has Mori.
Seeker — Book 2 of the Shiloh series that I’d begun a couple years ago and dropped for no good reason. This volume is a tale that takes place many years before the events of the first book, and so far I feel like I’m grasping the story and writing style a lot better this time around. Maybe because I’m not as distracted and wrung out as I was that summer? Who knows. But so far it’s intriguing, and I’ll be excited to see how all the different characters’ storylines come together.
Whew! That was a lot. And I noticed a lot of ‘fun’ in these captions. But that was the kind of story I’ve been needing, I suppose. And now I’m ready to tackle some hearty books again! I have a new goal to finish some of the series that I’ve begun and for one reason or another never finished before diving headlong into a lot of new stories.
Have you read any of the books in this list? I’d love to hear what you think! Do any of these titles spark your interest? Let me know which ones! I’m always up for taking books. 📚❤️