Hello my fellow fiction dwellers! How are you? Did you have a good month? May went by so fast, don’t you think? During May around the second week it was the Ramadhan holiday in Indonesia so I got five days off work. I used my time to catch up on my social life and a bit of reading. But mainly I used that time to rest my brain and unwind from work. I met with a few university friends and hung out with them for a day, we haven’t met each other in a year so it was nice to know what they are up to. Was it the best decision for my mental health? Nope. Meeting them only burnt me up even more. I love my friends but as an introvert and someone that works in a different field than them it was hard for me to keep up. Just so you know most of my friends are lawyers or works in the field similar to lawyers. I wanna be truthful on this blog, writing my feelings does help process the burden a little bit so I hope you’re all okay with this insight into my life. Anyway that’s my personal life.
In the month of May I really struggled to read a book. Earlier in the month (~2 weeks) I didn’t pick up a single book. But towards the end of May, I managed to pick up these books below. Quite amazingly three of them are eBooks and the other two are audiobooks. During slumps like these I would gravitate towards audiobooks but my brain is probably sick of them so I only got two, they are Nick and Charlie by Alice Oseman and Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q Sutanto. I’m pretty impressed with myself that I still managed to read a couple of arcs as well, A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark and The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri. I’ve been reading 天官赐福 Heaven Official’s Blessing by Mò Xiāng Tóngxiù, 墨香铜臭 since the end of April, I’m very happy that I finished the first book, Crimson Rain Sought Flower, to the five book series in May.
This book has been on my radar for a while now since I started following the author a while ago. The author Jesse Q Sutanto is Chinese-Indonesian and honestly I don’t see alot of people like me write a book so when I saw really good reviews from my mutuals of Dial A for Aunties I have to check it out. I was lucky enough to snag a copy of the audiobook on Libby and I immediately devoured it. The story follows Meddy Chan, a young Chinese-Indonesian girl that helps her mother and her three aunts run a wedding organizer business. Meddy is the photographer, the eldest aunt does the cake,the second eldest does the make up and hair, Meddy’s mother a.k.a the third sister does the flowers, and the youngest aunt provides the entertainment. One day Meddy’s mother pretended to be Meddy on a dating app and set up a date for Meddy with a stranger from the internet. Lo and behold, during the end of the date an accident occurred a day before a big event that is important for their wedding business. Then to make it worse Meddy runs into her ex all the while trying to hide the “accident”. In this whirlwind action packed murder mystery comedy full of twist and turns, heart warming family relationships, and jumble of chaotic fun. Oh boy did I have fun reading this.
❁ 天官赐福 Heaven Official’s Blessing (Crimson Rain Sought Flower – Book #1) by Mò Xiāng Tóngxiù, 墨香铜臭 ❁
Release Date : June 16th 2017 – August 11th 2017
Heaven Official’s Blessing Book #1 follows the turn of events in the anime about 35% of the book is the continuation from the events in the anime. I suggest if you watched the anime you skip the chapters after the Ban Yue arc. There aren’t many differences between the book and the anime if you’re curious about the book version of the events in the anime you can try reading from the start. But if you’re like me, tried reading the book but got bored, just skip it! Everything about this book is just pure joy and fun for me. I love the touch of suspense, mystery, and action that is contained in the story. Mò Xiāng Tóngxiù writing is charming and funny that fills me up with so much joy. In June, I will continue reading the rest of the books in the series and will likely pick up more stories by Mò Xiāng Tóngxiù.
❁ A Master of Djinn (Dead Djinn Universe #1) by P. Djèlí Clark ❁
Release Date : 19th August 2021 (UK), 11th May 2021 by Tor Books (US)
A long awaited debut novel full of adventure, magic, and mystery following special investigator Fatma el-Sha’arawi from the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities as she dives back into a world where magic exacted a price and nothing is what it seems.
In 2020, I discovered P. Djèlí Clark’s novellas after my friend Raf recommended me to read a short story by Clark titled, A Dead Djinn in Cairo. I listened to the audiobook and it was the best novella I read that year. The audiobook elevated the story to newer heights narrated by the amazing Suehyla El-Attar. Then I continued with Clark’s other novella set in the same world as its predecessor following two other characters titled The Haunting of Tram Car 015. Again! It was a hit for me. When I saw that Clark announced that he is set to release a full length novel following Fatma el-Sha’arawi yet again as she tries too get to the bottom of a mysterious involving magic and murder. I was beyond excited!
❁ The Jasmine Throne (Burning Kingdoms #1) by Tasha Suri ❁
Release Date : 8th June 2021 (US) & 10th June 2021 (UK)
A story about a princess and a maid servant that is trying to break free from the prison of their past all the while burning empires to the ground. Tasha Suri is back with a new series kicking it off with a fiery first book The Jasmine Throne.
After the success of The Books of Ambha duology, Tasha Suri is back with a new series that will entice readers with its glorious floral imagery and heartfelt burning passion to destroy empires titled Burning Kingdoms with it’s first book releasing on June 8th 2021, The Jasmine Throne. The story follows Priya, a maidservant that works for the household of the regent, as she tries to find her memories long burned away by the flames of her past. One day when the princess is sentenced to exile in the Hirana, a sacred temple of the yaksa, Priya takes a chance to gain more coin and find clues to connect with her past on the Hirana. When another servant’s attempt to discover the Hirana’s secrets went awry, Priya is pushed to use the power she once held and expose her true identity that she has buried for years. This reveal also exposes Priya to the last person she wants her identity to be known to, the princess of Parijatdvipan empire, Malini. Finding use in the not-so-normal-maid servant Malini decides to ally herself with Priya, her last remaining hope and only ally that can help her survive.
This month I consumed a lot of anime and manga. I spent two weeks fixating on anime characters and reading multiple manga. I will only talk about a few that stood out to me in May. If you follow me on Goodreads I don’t really add manga into the account just because I don’t like mixing my books and manga.
❁ Haikyū!! [ハイキュー!!] by Haruichi Furudate, 古舘 春一 ❁
First Release Date / Last Release Date : February 20, 2012 – July 20, 2020
Since I was probably in highschool I’ve known the existence of this anime. At that time it didn’t appeal to me at all, it’s a sports anime about volleyball so I decided to ignore it because I know it wasn’t my thing. Fast forward to 2021, I am utterly obsessed with it. In May, I was in a really bad reading slump and I could not pick up a single book during the first two weeks of May so I resorted to Haikyū!! after reading the last five volumes of the manga. The post time skip arc of the manga made me want to watch the anime. I understand that this is backwards but it’s the way my brain operates things don’t appeal to me if I can’t binge the whole series. Also watching many YouTube clips of the anime pushed me even more to watch the whole series. I watched all three seasons throughout the month taking my time to enjoy each characters development as they challenge the biggest hurdle to going to Harukon in Tokyo.
Haikyū!! is a sports manga centered around volleyball by Haruichi Furudate that first serialized in Shueisha Weekly Shōnen Jump from February 2012 to July 2020, there are 45 volumes of the manga in total. The story follows a young Shōyō Hinata, a boy that is determined to be a strong volleyball player after witnessing one of the players in a highschool volleyball match on TV. That player is Karasuno’s legendary player known as the “Little Giant”, a player that has small stature like Hinata known for his high jumps. After being awestruck and inspired, Hinata decides to play volleyball anyway he can. During Hinata’s third year of junior high school he participated in his first official match with a rag tag bunch consisting of his friends that play other kinds of sports. In that match he went up against Kageyama Tobio, a genius setter from the opposing team that seems to be having his own issues with his teammates. Hinata’s team lost but Hinata left a huge impression on Kageyama after Hinata surprised him with his ambition, high jumps, and amazing athletic reflexes. This match kindled a rivalry between the two that defines their relationship in the manga as they enroll into Karasuno together becoming team mates. There they will meet an array of characters that will push Karasuno from a fallen powerhouse to the dark horse of high school volleyball.
In the first season the story follows Karasuno volleyball team as a whole as they try to assemble their teammates and have their first practice match with Aoba Johsai and Nekoma Highschool. In this first season as well they will participate in their first official match with the new first year players during Interhigh Preliminaries. This first season is a good foundation to a start of a series, we get to meet the players and see them work for the first time. Hinata in the first season struggles with his sub-par skills in volleyball as he doesn’t have the foundational skill required to be a stable player. But because of his speed, high jumps, and natural athleticism he becomes a secret weapon/element of surprise with the help of Kageyama. On the other hand, Kageyama a genius setter is a key player that will help Hinata reach his potential. At the same time Kageyama learns to be a team player blossoming from a tyrannical setter to a considerate player as he discovers that volleyball is a team sport.
The second season is the redemption arc for the team as the third years decides to keep competing even though they are busy with school. One of my favorite arcs in Haikyu!! is the Training Camp arc when Karasuno joins the Tokyo teams to train for the Spring Interhigh National Tournament. There they meet their friends from Nekoma and a few new faces from three other schools with Fukurodani (especially Bokuto and Akaashi) as the other team that stood out to me. After the training camp arc Karasuno competes in the Miyagi Prefecture Qualifying Rounds with other big shot teams in Miyagi such as Date Tech, Aoba Johsai, and reigning champions, Shiratorizawa. Up to season two there are countless matches between Karasuno and other schools but the match that serves as an important arc for the team is against Aoba Johsai. Oikawa Tooru is no joke, he led the team really well and the team that pushes Karasuno to evolve with new strategies and new combos.
The whole of season three is Karasuno’s five set match against Shiratorizawa. This match is the stepping stone for Karasuno to grow more significantly as a team. Their match with Shiratorizawa is a David vs Goliath situation, as Shiratorizawa is lead by one of Japan’s ace players in highschool volleyball, Ushijima Wakatoshi. Ushiwaka isn’t the only player that stood out in Shiratorizawa there is Goshiki and Satori. Satori’s song is so memorable and he is the key blocker in the team with his skill in guess blocking. The true MVP of the match is Tsukkishima, Daichi and Nishinoya without them both Karasuno wouldn’t be able to defend against Wakatoshi’s crazy serves and spikes. Honestly, there are so many highlights from the match. From the players stand point we get to see more growth but the stand out is Tsukkishima’s block and his yoshaaa moment. Who knew that a character as stoic and not so expressive as Tsukki, he could actually scream with joy. Then to Nishinoya’s double block moment during the last set of the match. Never underestimate Karasuno’s guardian, he pulled some crazy moves in the match and it is truly so awesome!
I recommend this anime for anyone to watch! It is so awe inspiring, action packed, and full of lovable characters. Yes it is focused on volleyball and is not fantasy but the character development is top notch. For people that isn’t familiar with the anime you can binge all three seasons and then continue to the manga because the series is already finished.
❁ Demon Slayer / Kimetsu no Yaiba (鬼滅の刃) Vol. 7 – Vol. 8 by Koyoharu Gotouge ❁
Kimetsu no Yaiba Movie: Mugen Ressha-hen / 劇場版「鬼滅の刃」 無限列車編 / Demon Slayer : Mugen Train
One of my most anticipated anime movies in 2021 is Demon Slayer : Mugen Train. The movie is first released in Japan on 16 October 2020. I saw a couple of trailers of the movie and got so hyped for it. Knowing the quality of the series I expected nothing else from the movie. We got to see a glimpse of Rengoku Kyojuro in the last episode in the series when he is given a mission and this mission is on the Mugen Train. The movie itself picked right after the anime, from the reviews I’ve seen the movie and manga is the same with minor changes to make the flow of the movie more cohesive such as the intro involving the train shots.
Kimetsu no Yaiba (鬼滅の刃) is a Shōnen manga series by Koyoharu Gotouge, that first got published on the Weekly Shōnen Jump. The story of the movie focuses on the incidents that have been reoccurring on the Mugen train. Each time the Demon Slayer corp sends their personnel they end up missing. Because of this the task is then given to a Hashira. The one that is given this task is the Fire Hashira, Rengoku Kyojuro. Tanjiro, Inosuke, and Zenitsu heard the call from the crows asking for available demon slayers to serve as back up on the Mugen train. Tanjiro, Inosuke, and Zenitsu quickly jumps on the train and find Rengoku to help him get to the bottom of the missing people. This arc of the story can found from chapter 54 to 69 (Vol 7 to 8) of the manga.
I read the manga before going into the movie and reading the manga is already emotional enough but watching Kyojuro come to life is a million times more painful. The voice actor, Satoshi Hino, that voiced Kyojuro is one of those castings that is a matched made in heaven. His voice goes well with Rengoku’s valiant, courageous, and righteous personality. I can’t imagine anyone else voicing Rengoku Kyojuro. The demon that became the antagonist in the story during the first half used a demon art that is related to dreams. Tanjiro Kamado’s dream during the sequence stole the show. Tanjiro is a family oriented person and seeing him reunite with his family is equally heartbreaking and touching. But the main event of the story only happened in the last 25% of the movie, which is Kyojuro’s battle with the Upper Moon demon, Akaza. There is so many factors that made this movie amazing! My favorite parts of the movie is the music and voice acting. I still hum Rengoku’s theme ever so often because the composer conveyed Rengoku’ character so well through music. I watched it twice already and cried my eyes out each time because of how well written and fleshed out each character is. If I had to pick a favorite scene is Rengoku’s last message and Tanjiro’s screaming monologue. The movie is action packed and very well animated. I suggest watching the series first before you watch the movie because it is much more impactful if you know the characters and their journey before Mugen train.
May was a pretty productive month for me, blogging wise! I participated in a couple of tours, Xpresso Tours ands TBR and Beyond Tours, promoting the same book The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He. It was my first time participating in two book tours for the same book. For Xpresso Tours I posted my review for the book while for TBR and Beyond Tours I created a playlist and wrote five reasons why people should read The Ones We’re Meant to Find. I worked pretty hard on both post having the time of my life celebrating the release of the book. I also posted a couple of arcs reviews, A Master of Djinn and The Jasmine Throne, both were my most anticipated and both I gave five stars to. You can click the picture below to check out each post! <3
For June, I have one blog tour lined up and I’m planning on taking a short break from blogging as I am much more stressed out this month mentally. But I will try my best to at least write three posts this month.
Bookish Content Creator Shout Out!
☾ Amanda from Bookish Brews posted a fantastic list of diverse books with magical competitions. The list consist of some of the most beloved YA fantasy books, a new book tweet’s self published fave, and an upcoming release. If you’re looking for book recommendations with magical competitions as the center of plot do check out her post!
☾ Jayati from It’s Just A Coffee Addicted Bibliophile recently posted a list of 15 Queer Books To Add to Your TBR. With June being Pride Month, Jayati celebrated the month by listed some of her favorite queer books in varying genres, from contemporary to fantasy. I’m sure any reader will find a good book to add to their long TBR or a few picks for to add to their Pride Month TBR. Some of the few favorites in the list are Felix Ever After, Honeygirl, Crier’s War, Cinderella is Dead, and so on. Wanna know the rest? Check out her post!
☾ Sumedha from The Wordy Habitat recently posted a couple of cozy winter digital art over on her Instagram. Sumedha is wonderful blogger that I’ve been following for a couple of months now, I love her blog as they are feature most of her digital art and all of them have the coziest vibe. Not just that her post are always high quality as she shares tips in blogging, reading, lifestyle, and many more. Be sure to follow her on all platforms !
☾ Nayeli from Inkhaven posted An Open Letter to Sayu for her participation in The Dragon of Jin Sayeng book tour with Caffeine Tours. I wish I read the Chronicles of the Bitch Queen series so I can understand the open letter Nae wrote. It is such a creative post instead of your typical review for a blog tour. I definitely should read the series now and come back to Nae’s post again! If you read please do check it out and follow Nae for more awesome posts <3
☾ Gauri from A Book and Chai posted a wonderful review of Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin for her participation in Colored Pages Tours. Another wonderful review by Gauri of a YA contemporary book with themes of family, racism, and coming of age. Reading Gauri’s review is convincing me how good this book is. For readers who are interested in the book or looking into buying the book please do check out Gauri’s review!
☾ Sanah from Stories with Stardust posted a insightful author interview with Nandini Bajpai author of Sister Bollywood Bride for her participation in Lonely Pages Book Tours. In the interview Nandini answered questions about the inspiration of the book, the fun tid bits during the writing process of the book, and her favorite desi wedding song. It is a fun interview for you to check and you check out Sanah’s review of the book here.
☾ Kate from Your Tita Kate posted a list of 6 Asian Adult Fantasy Books to Check Out. Kate is one of my favorite bloggers to follow and recently she posted a list of adult fantasy books by Asian authors. The list consist a few of my favorites such as Jade City by Fonda Lee and Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard. Check out her post and follow her blog for more content <3
☾ Nika from Pretty Little Bibliophile posted on Medium her review of The Dangers of Smoking in Bed, a collection of horror short stories by Argentinian author Mariana Enriquez. On her review Nika describes the horror and grotesqueness of the stories contained in the book. For horror fans that are looking for something new in the genre read Nika’s review!
☾ Kal from Reader Voracious posted a discussion post about How Video Games Help Calm Anxiety during Book Slumps and a list of game recommendations. In this post Kal talks about how reading helped her cope with anxiety and pick herself up through games when she’s in a reading slump. It is a very insightful post for readers that like gaming as well. Some of the game recommendations are perfect for solo players or multi player. For more check out her blog and follow her on all platforms!
☾ Rose from Rose Among Stories posted her review for a newly released Fillipino middlegrade fantasy book titled Sugar and Spite by Gail D. Villanueva. In this review Rose gives you eight reasons why you should read the book. Find out more as Rose gives her takes on how unapologetically Fillipino this book is as she points out the interesting details of the book that any Fillipino reader can relate.
☾ Kat from Novel’s and Waffles recently posted a massive list of 57 YA Books for Foodies. Calling all foodies this is the post for you! If you love reading and food look no further because Kat got it all handled for you. This list consist of many popular YA books, some familiar and not so familiar, that will leave your tastebuds salivating for a scrumptious snack. Please do click and check out her post! (Btw, her blog is so friggin cute give her a follow everyone! <3)
☾ Zah a friend from book tweet made awesome art of Matsuda Misaki and Matsuda Mamoru from The Sword of Kaigen by M. L. Wang. Please follow her on Twitter, RT, and like her art! Click here to check out more of Zah’s art!
For June I don’t have a specific target in mind as I am a mood reader so I usually randomize my picks depending on my mood. I don’t want to push myself to hard but here are the three books that I definitely want to read. First is continuing my read of Heaven Official’s Blessing, I read the first book in May and I want to continue to book 2 and 3. Next is The Sword of Kaigen by M. L. Wang and Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim.
What is your favorite read this month ? Any anime or manga recs for me? Let me know in the comments below! <3