Hello Fiction Dwellers!
Here I am back at it again, blogging and working hard to keep up with life. It seems every time I write my monthly wrap ups I am always tired. My apologies dear readers! Your girl is doing her best. For July I experienced my worst blogging slump since October 2020. The add on weight of training a new employee and then having to work from home while doing that adds another layer of stress. In that month I seriously cannot look at a computer to work on a blog post unless I force myself. Right now, I am in a better place to do more blogging and reading without that feeling of stress looming behind me. July is my birthday month I did experience lots of joy and I also spread some joy by doing a She Who Became the Sun giveaway on Twitter to celebrate the book’s release July 20th 2021 and my birthday. Congrats to Tissa and Judy for winning the giveaway! Also thank you to Sasha, if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t have been able to gift two copies of She Who Became the Sun <3
Reading wise July is a pretty rough month for me but I’m still happy that I managed to read five amazing books this month. Two of them, Six Crimson Cranes and The Hand of the Sun King, are ARCS too! I even did a buddy read of The Traitor Baru Cormorant with a few friends as well.
An enchanting story of an exiled princess and her six brothers cursed by their step mother after they discover her true identity. Princess Shiori is Kiata’s only last hope to unraveling the wicked conspiracies that threatens the throne all the while silenced and her identity hidden.
❁ The Hand of the Sun King (Pact and Pattern #1) by J. T. Greathouse ❁
Release Date : August 5th 2021
A well rounded compelling coming of age story; The Hand of the Sun King by J. T. Greathouse joins the list of amazing 2021 fantasy debuts.
❁ Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé ❁
Release Date : June 1st 2021
A suspenseful young adult debut that exceeded my expectations and breaks through my pre-existing notions towards dark academia.
❁ One Last Stop by Casey Mcquiston ❁
Release Date : June 1st 2021
One Last Stop is a sapphic sci-fi romance by Casey Mcquiston-known for writing one of the most well known queer romance book titled Red, White, and Royal Blue. The story follows August, a bisexual, 23 year old student that just moved to New York City for school. There August tries to maneuver a new lifestyle in one of the biggest cities in the world. During the first few days in New York August catches the attention of a gorgeous stranger on the subway. This stranger is Jane. “Dazzling, charming, mysterious, impossible Jane.” Since their first meeting August anticipates her daily commutes just to get glimpse or probably interact with Jane. Long story short they are attracted to each other but when August asked Jane if she’s willing to go on a date with August she doesn’t turn up. The mystery thickens as August discovers picture of Jane at the place she works dated from the 1970s.
For this book I listened to the audiobook as I work from home. I went into One Last Stop knowing nothing about the premise. Personally, starting out the story is a bit slower than the previous one and I did not fancy the overwhelmingly quirky cast of characters. None of the characters clicked with me as a reader because overall the characterization seems too whimsical for my taste. Please do take this opinion with a grain of salt because it’s just my personal preference. The plot is fast paced and there are important themes such as feminism and activism weaved into the story. It was an okay read for me even though it didn’t leave an impact as hard as I thought it would.
❁ The Traitor Baru Cormorant (The Masquerade #1) by Seth Dickinson ❁
Release Date : September 15th 2015
Full review to come!
July~ I continued my manga and anime streak this month by watching the movie Umibe no Étranger, the adaptation of Kanna Kii’s boys love manga of the same name. Then I also picked up the manga sequel to the movie Harukaze no Etranger. Not forgetting to continue my favorite sports manga of all time Haikyū!! to read about Nekoma and Karasuno’s match during the Spring Interhigh. Lastly, the anime that I decided to commit to Mo Dao Zu Shi Season 1 and Season 2.
❁ The Stranger by the Shore / Umibe no Étranger [ 海辺のエトランゼ ] by Kanna Kii 紀伊カンナ ❁
Japanese Manga Published Date : 25th July 2015 (by Shōdensha)
English Manga Published Date : 27th July 2021 (by Seven Seas)
Anime Movie Release Date : 11th September 2020
“It’s not weird, falling in love with a guy.”
Umibe no Étranger or The Stranger by the Shore the first book of the L’étranger series. A Japanese boys love manga written and illustrated by Kii Kanna that was first serialized in a manga magazine called On BLUE from 2013 to 2014. The manga is then adapted into film produced by Fuji TV as part of its Blue Lynx boys’ love anime label, set to release on September 2020. The film is animated by studio Hibari, a studio better know for their support in the production of Akira, Castle in the Sky, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Spirited Away. Directed by Akiyo Ohashi.
What caught my attention about Umibe no Étranger is the gorgeous art style and the trailer sold me with it’s beachy-summer vibe that fits perfectly with July. When you look at the background in each of the scenes it is incredibly detailed and beautifully colored! I wasn’t feeling my best during this month thinking that this movie might liven up my mood I gave it a chance. Turns out it is everything I needed and more. The production of the movie is truly exquisite from the background, to the character design, the music, and the voice acting carried this movie to wondrous emotional heights. The romance in this movie is soft and sweet, it might be a case of insta-love but! It is the kind of insta-love that works for the narrative.
“People like us don’t expect anything from society. We’re something outside of their understanding.”
Shun Hashimoto (light brown hair) is a writer and an out gay man living on the island while working part time at his aunt’s cafe/hostel. When Shun is working he looks out to the beach. There Shun sees a young boy sitting on the beach. Everyday that boy would sit there staring out into the sea not bothering to go home until it was dark. Shun’s aunt tells him that boy is named Mio Chibana (black hair) and that she knows Mio and his mother is a regular customer. Mio also recently lost his mother. Getting curious about the boy Shun decides that he will try talking to him.
At first Mio is hostile and cold towards Shun thinking that Shun is only pitying him. The next day Mio came to apologize and from there he starts to warm up to Shun. When the two main characters meet Mio was a minor. Naturally their relationship didn’t bloom instantly. On the day Mio apologized he also revealed he will be moving to the main land to live in foster home until he is an adult. That night they parted ways promising to keep in contact. For three years they didn’t have contact until one day adult Mio (~19 or 20 years old) moved into the place Shun is staying. This adult Mio is different from the boy that Shun had met three years prior. He is much more confident, happy, and open. The relationship picked up where they left it and slowly both begin to open up to each other about the three year gap when they weren’t in contact. Surprise the feeling is mutual!
The first half of the movie focuses on how Shun and Mio became a couple by bridging the gap of when they are separated. Umibe no Étranger is not your typical romance anime it much more adult in a sense and carries some very mature themes. In typical romance animes it is formulaic. Usually there is some kind of mutual pinning or one sided pinning, an incident when the two main characters gets a chance to be together and then the confession. But Umibe no Étranger throws the formula out the window and then adding a queer twist. I would like to remind future audiences that the movie includes a semi graphic sex scene.
Now to our main characters Shun Hashimoto and Mio Chibana. Shun is an openly gay man that is awkward and has a lot of personal struggle. As a 20-something Japanese gay man there is a lot of stigma and prejudice that followed Shun into his adulthood from his younger years. Even with Mio returning Shun’s first reaction is to distance himself from Mio. Which led to them to having a larger emotional gap that separates them. Shun carries a lot of baggage and struggles that he blames himself for. What prompted the start of Shun’s development is a visit from someone in his past that forced Shun to confront the problems he has ran away from for years. The movie is only the start of Shun’s character development so I suggest after watching the movie to pick up the manga sequel Harukaze no Etranger.
I enjoyed this movie so much! It is such a great summer movie about love, relationships, and self acceptance. Shun and Mio still has a long way to go with their relationship but their foundation as a couple is already strong. They support each other through everything. Mio’s endless affection and assurance for Shun as he struggles to find acceptance within himself as an out queer person finally coming to terms that it is time to reconnect with his parents. There’s more to this story than two boys falling in love, it is a story about coming out in it’s core and the constant overwhelming battle with inner homophobia towards one self. Shun and Mio’s story isn’t an LGBTQ+ story that relates to western audiences though some parts does carry a significance it is still a story about two Japanese boys in Japan where the LGBTQ+ community is still frowned upon. Homophobia is still the norm in Asia and it is not something that can be comparable to the western LGBTQ+ experience and standards.
AH! My thoughts are sound enough in this review, I highly recommend for you to watch or read Umibe no Étranger. It is the perfect movie to watch if you feel lonely or if you just want a good innocent love story with awesome visuals of the beach. If you’re curious about the movie here is a trailer below for you to watch before you commit yourself to 90 minutes of heart warming summer love.
❁ Harukaze no Etranger [春風のエトランゼ] Vol. 1 – Vol. 4 by Kanna Kii 紀伊カンナ ❁
Japanese Manga Published Date : 25th July 2015 – 25th August 2020 (by Shōdensha)
English Manga Release Date – Vol 1 : 8th February 2022 (by Seven Seas)
After watching the movie I wanted to see more of Shun and Mio so I immediately picked up the manga sequels that is titled Harukaze no Etranger. This manga continues straight after the events of Umibe no Étranger as Shun and Mio embark on a journey to go to Shun’s hometown to visit his family. In this manga we get to know more on why Shun left and how his dynamic is with his family. When Shun arrives at his childhood home he expects it to be a quick visit to see his parents and then go back to island the day after. But this one trip turns to be a permanent stay!
In this manga series we will get to see Shun and Mio set roots in Shun’s hometown, a place he loathes to return to, as they both connect or should I say reconnect in Shun’s sake with his family. The family gets bigger and much more crowded. Mio’s sunshine personality and capable abilities to adapt and lend a helping hand at a chance to eat good food melts the ice that has for years resides within Shun. I liked that in this manga series it focuses more on the family dynamics and the hurdles that the family has to go through together to rebuild the relationships that was once estranged. There is still many tender moments shared between Shun and Mio don’t worry~ I’d say their relationship that started out innocent finally matures with time and experience as they become adults. Sure there are still things that they need to work on together but they know that they have each other to fall back on even through the roughest times. Shun finally found his comfort human and a long time partner that he has longed for years. And friends! My man Shun has a thing for black haired guys!!
Final thoughts! Harukaze no Etranger is the perfect comfort read for anyone that is looking to read something tender and soft to lighten up their day. The weight of complex queer struggles carried within the story that is packaged in a much more light hearted tone left an impression on me. Saying I enjoyed myself is an understatement. Right after I watched the movie I pre-ordered the english translation of Umibe no Étranger and I will surely buy the rest. I didn’t want to go into detail about the story because I want you guys to experience everything first hand. Highly recommend it !
❁ The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation / Mó Dào Zǔ Shī [魔道祖师] by Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù 墨香铜臭 ❁
Season 1 Airing Date : 9th July 2018 to 6th October 2018
Season 2 Airing Date : 3rd August 2019 to 31st August 2019
English Translation Novel Release Date Vol 1 : 2nd December 2021 (by Seven Seas)
“I could not say with certainty whether what he did was right or wrong, but no matter what, I’m willing to shoulder all the consequences with him”
As recommended by my friend Dija (@BooksToMyAss) she recommended me to watch the Dong Hua version of Mó Dào Zǔ Shī. I was intrigued because it is a different series by the same author of Tiān Guān Cì Fú. Sasha and Michelle also told me that the dong hua is superior to the other adaptations because the story telling is really good. I have lower expectations plot wise because in the dong hua adaptation of Tiān Guān Cì Fú it was really slow eventhough the visuals are stunning. Turns out Mó Dào Zǔ Shī did not have the same issue. I loved it the moment I started watching. Mó Dào Zǔ Shī is one of Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù works that follows the infamous Wei Wuxian or the Yiling Patriarch as he comes back from the dead after being called by Mo Xuanyu through a demonic ritual. Countless people have tried to call Wei Wuxian from the dead but none of them ever succeeded until Mo Xuanyu. Mo Xuanyu’s body is then taken over by Wei Wuxian to fulfill the young man’s final wishes for vengeance. Taking place thirteen years since the Sun Shot Campaign the event that ended Wei Wuxian’s life as he wanders around figuring out his current predicament, all the while trying to piece together what Mo Xuanyu’s last wishes are.
In this epic fantasy Wuxia tale we get to see a much more political scope of the cultivation world. But in the center of it all is the blossoming romance between Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian. Lan Wangji or Lan Zhan or Han Guangjun is the second son and one of the twin jades of the Lan Clan located in Gusu, one of the most influential and strictest amongst the other cultivation clans. Wei Wuxian or Wei Ying is the adopted son of the late Jiang Fengmian and martial brother to the heir of the Yunmeng Jiang Clan, Jiang Cheng. From a young age Wei Wuxian is known to be a mischievous trouble maker amongst the other cultivators but he is also known for his astounding skills in martial art, cultivation, and sharp knowledge. The only person that could rival his abilities in no other than Lan Wangji. Lan Wangji is much more rigid, stoic, and quiet compared to Wei Ying. Their first interaction is so engrained in my mind, how Lan Zhan tried to catch Wei Ying for breaking into the Cloud Recesses and a bunch of other rules.
“But what he hadn’t expected was that when everyone feared him and flattered him, Lan WangJi scolded him right in his face; when everyone spurned him and loathed him, Lan WangJi stood by his side.”
Prior to going into the series I’ve never read the book and I only knew bits about the premise. The dong hua surprised me so much because how well structured the pacing is. In the first season the story jumps between the past and the present. Viewers will be able to get to know Wei Wuxian before he became a demonic cultivator- the good old days before the many incidents that caused a lot of pain and suffering for all the characters. There is a lot of scheming, conspiracies, cover ups, and mystery weaved into the story that adds intrigue for viewers making the love story even more meaningful. You can’t help but root for Wei Ying’s and Lan Zhan’s happiness. Wei Ying especially has suffered enough grief and loss that I hope in his new body he can finally live a happier life surrounded by the people he loves. The depiction of romance in this Wuxia epic is subtle and is shown through acts instead of words or promises. Lan Zhan shows his love for Wei Ying by standing by him through the harshest times, defending him even when everyone else turned their backs on Wei Ying. The love they share is nurtured by devotion, sincerity, and patience. Viewers will know from the way Lan Zhan looks at Wei Ying throughout the dong hua. How Lan Zhan’s glare slowly turned to indifference then to adoration whenever he sees Wei Ying. AND THAT SONG! WANGXIAN!! Please just watch this dong hua! It’s so good.
❁ Haikyū!! Vol 33 to Vol 37 by Haruichi Furudate, 古舘 春一 ❁
Manga Chapter : Chapter 288 – Chapter 331
In July I read around five volumes of Haikyū!! (Vol 33-37) by Haruichi Furudate. The manga immediately picks up after the last events of Haikyū!! To the Top!! the fourth season of the anime. I got really curious on a random Sunday afternoon and wanted to reunite with my favorite volley ball idiots. My Haikyū!! reading / watching order is a bit chaotic because I started of reading the final arc of the series which are in Vol 39-45. Then I started watching all of the anime adaptations from Season 1 to Season 4. It’s kind of funny that there is a gap in my completion of this series. Right now I just need to read volume 38-39 to finally finish reading all of Haikyū!!. But am I ready to part with this series? No, so I’m going to keep that gap in my completion to entertain myself when I get urge to finally finish it.
The arc that I’m reading in Vol 33-37 is the legendary and heart wrenching Nekoma vs Karasuno game. An arc that has been foreshadowed since the first time Karasuno had a practice match with Nekoma in the first season of the anime and earlier volumes of the manga. The legendary Trash Can Battle finally happens after years and years of anticipating. I liked that Furudate built up this battle far back into the past starting with Nekomata and Ukai. The rivalry lives on through the teams even after years of not being able to realize it but now it’s finally happening for real at the Spring High Tournament. Everyone knows that Karasuno and Nekoma has a friendly relationship seeing this battle finally happening it gives me goosebumps.
There is so many jaw dropping plays and amazing displays of sportsmanship between the two teams. Hinata and Kenma finally get their showdown that they have promised to each other since their first meeting. A game where there is no redo, repeat, or rematch. A game where if one of them loses, it is game over. Both Nekoma and Karasuno played to the best of their abilities showing their own growth and improvement since they last met. Nekoma has improved significantly in their defenses with Kenma putting in more effort than before knowing that he is playing against Hinata. The many plays Kenma presented to shutdown Hinata and break him down was scary yet impressive at the same time. But Hinata keeps on coming back with every push given by Kageyama. There is a scene when Hinata finally breaks free from the metaphorical cage that Kenma has put him in and it is truly one of the most powerful moments in the game.
During the game we’ll also get a glimpse of how Kuro and Kenma’s friendship started. How Kuro first got Kenma to play with him. Kenma staying by Kuro’s side that blossomed to become one of the most valuable volleyball players in Nekoma. There is also the relationships shared between the players of Karasuno and Nekoma. How each one of them admires one of another for their skill, their competency, and their improvement as a player. There is a moment between Tsukishima and Kuro as they battle against one another, it is great to see them bud heads since Kuro is technically Tsuki’s teacher when it comes to blocking. Then there’s Nishinoya and Yaku’s constant admiration towards each other. Then Lev and Hinata, Kai and Tanaka, Kuro and Daichi, and so many more. There is no resentment or bad blood between the two teams, they both support each other and strive for improvement so they can meet again to play a good game. Above is a stunning panel that shows the parallels of the current game and the previous practice matches shared between the two teams. It is bittersweet and touching to see that at the end of the game one of them will lose and the other will continue on.
It’s surprising to see that I actually blogged quite well in July considering the amount of post I posted even though I was having a hard time cranking out content.
Bookish Content Creator Shout Out!
☾ Nae from Ink Haven posted An Open Letter to Shiori from Six Crimson Cranes. Six Crimson Cranes is one of my most favorite reads this year and I’m glad you enjoyed it to Nae! This open letter is so thoughtful and sweet I was grinning from ear to ear while reading it! <3
☾ Gauri from A Book and Chai posted a wonderful review of Radha and Jai’s Recipes for Romance by Nisha Sharma. Looking for a new south asian romance well Gauri has got you covered! She recently posted her review of Radha and Jai’s Recipes to Romance, want to know the whole recipe to an awesome love life? Please click on her review :
☾ Haadiya from Her Bookish Obsession posted a review of The People We Choose by Katelyn Detweiler. Haadiya posted her review of The People We Choose a heart wrenching story about complex family dynamics. Reading the premise it is pretty interesting please do check out Haadiya’s review!
☾ Jeeya from Meraki Reads posted her Mid Year Check In Tag 2021. AH! I love this post so much, checking out some of the reads Jeeya enjoyed during the first half of 2021 is so much fun. Also Jeeya’s new blog is looking good and the aesthetics are amazing. Please do follow her!
☾ Loïne from Jupiter’s Library posted a French student studying English literature and wonderful book blogger that reviews a variety of genres from fantasy, myth-retelling, and contemporary. She’s currently on hiatus please give her a follow and leave a kind comment on her post <3
☾ Azu from Book A Fiction posted a couple of mini reviews of The Red Palace by June Hur and The Boy with Fire by Aparna Verma. Azu my little meow meow shared a couple of mini reviews! One of them is The Red Palace an ARC that I probably should get to that is going to be released in 2022. Want to know more about these two arcs? Please click on the link and leave a like for Azu!!
☾ Mesal from Earthly Abode posted a review of Jade Fire Gold by June C. Tan. Another one of my most anticipated releases this Fall of 2021! I’ve heard mixed reviews about this debut and Mesal’s review probably convinced me to give the book a chance. I’ll probably read it when the audiobook releases though. If you know more what Mesal thought about Jade Fire Gold please click the link! <3
☾ Jayati from It’s Just A Coffee Addicted Bibliophile posted her review of She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan. One of my favorite things to happen in July is my friends posting their reviews of She Who Became the Sun. Jayati shared hers an I’m so glad that she is now as obsessed with the book as I am!
☾ Trin from Allegory of Words posted her review of She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan. Another friend sharing her thoughts on She Who Became the Sun! A stunning review by the lovely Trin! Please visit her blog, leave a like and comment !! <3
☾ Shannon from Discovery Elysian posted her review of She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker Chan. Shannon! My bestie from the same city shared her review of She Who Became the Sun! I’m so happy I pushed you to read it. A stunning thoughtful review it is filling me with serotonin! *screams in Indonesian*
☾ Sen, a Viet-Chinese artist living in US shared their art of Zhu Chongba and General Ouyang from She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan.
☾ Cube from Geometry of Stories, my dear friend and the Sapphic trifecta meme creator posted another art of Zhu Chongba, Ma Xiuying, and General Ouyang from She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker Chan.
☾ Anna, a mutual from Twitter shared their art of Zhu Chongba from She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan. It is hands down one of the best potraits of Zhu I’ve seen on Twitter. ALSO OUYANG! *dies* Please follow them to check out more of their awesome art!
Let’s admit it I did not post this in August and instead posted it in September. So I’ll just talk about a few books that I definitely picked up in August. Want to know my thoughts about them? Well you gotta wait for my August wrap up.
Sorry for posting in September, during August I had a lot on my mind as I was busy preparing for my leave from my current work place. Now, that I am free please expect new content to come your way as I have less time restrictions and less obligations else where.