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Kakuriyo: Bed & Breakfast for Spirits by Waco Ioka, vols 1 & 2 | Blabber

Kakuriyo: Bed & Breakfast for Spirits, Vol. 1 (Kakuriyo: Bed & Breakfast for Spirits, #1)Kakuriyo vols 1 and 2 by Waco Ioka
Manga – Fantasy
200 pages each
Read May 22, 2020
Spoiler-free blabber

Kakuriyo was a whimsical get-away. 

Honestly I picked this up knowing nothing about it. I saw it on sale on Rightstuf and decided to grab the first couple volumes. Turns out, it was exactly what I was in the mood for.

This manga follows a young Japanese woman named Aoi Tsubaki, who inherited her grandfather’s ability to see spirits – creatures from Japanese legend. Yokai, ogres, kappas, you name it. Whenever she sees them, she gives them food to ward them off, as spirits tend to eat humans once they realize they’ve been seen. So in addition to the Japanese folklore aspect, you get almost a food-romance theme as well. And by ‘food-romance’ I mean that food is glorified in this book. Even simple meals are made to seem like they’d be delicious.

The plot picks up when Aoi sees a masked yokai, lamenting his hunger. She gives him her lunch, but when she goes to walk away, the yokai grabs her and transports her to Kakuriyo: the spirit world, where it turns out he runs an inn for spirits and suddenly demands that she marry him to pay a debt incurred by her grandfather. Her reaction to that is basically ‘lol yeah right’. And the story goes from there.

Obviously I’m not too far into the series – there are five or six books out so far, and I’m only covering the first two here, but these two have definitely made me a fan. As I said before, this series is whimsical, and it really reminded me of Spirited Away, but in a darker, more gritty kind of way. I wouldn’t call this a horror, it’s nowhere near, but it definitely gives you glimpses and sharp reminders that Aoi is not among humans, and sometimes she forgets that. Every time she starts to get comfortable, she says or does something and a yokai’s face just changes, or she’s suddenly thrown into a dangerous situation. It’s unnerving, as the yokai are written in a highly human way. It kind of lulls you into a false sense of security, and then they distinctly act inhuman, and it throws you off. I loved it.

I have a feeling that this will eventually turn into a romance. It’s being published by Shojo Beat after all, but that’s not too present in the first two volumes, at least. As I mentioned above, the yokai wants her to be his bride but she’s not having it, and insists on working off her debt at the inn instead. But I can see the beginning inklings that this’ll turn into a romance, and I can totally see it.

Another thing that I wasn’t expecting was how funny this was. I laughed out loud multiple times throughout the two volumes. Aoi trying to center herself in this new world caused a few entertaining situations, and the Odanna, the spirit who brought her there, causes a few himself. He’s quiet and reserved and seems indifferent, but occasionally he’ll say something that just throws Aoi off-kilter in a hilarious way. I really enjoyed it.

So overall I really enjoyed this. I liked the characters, the plot was entertaining, and I really loved the world. Again, it just had this… unworldly feel to it, and I thought it was great. I’m definitely going to catch up on this one as soon as I’m able.

4 and 4.5 stars, respectively

 

 
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Posted by on 05/23/2020 in blabbers, Books, Review

 

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Scribbley thoughts while reading Pride and Prejudice | Blabber

Pride and PrejudicePride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Published 1813
Read Jan 12 – Feb 11, 2020
Classic
432 pages
Major spoilers ahead

I read Pride and Prejudice! And because everyone and their mom has read and reviewed this book already, there’s no point in me putting forth another ‘review’ as nothing I can say hasn’t been said already.

Therefore instead of a comprehensive review, I’m gonna give you a play-by-play insight into my thoughts while reading – nothing meant to be taken seriously, as honestly it’s gonna be all over the place.

I was buddy reading this with my two friends, one of which had already read the book fully and was doing a reread. Because of that, I didn’t have to worry about spoilers, particularly towards the end of the book, if she hadn’t read the parts I was at yet. Basically what I did was take a picture of the page, scribble on the pic a bit, and then sent it to her. That’s what you’ll see here.

And like I said:

Major spoilers ahead


I didn’t actually start taking pictures and writing on them until midway through the book. It started right when Darcy originally proposed to Elizabeth. I hope you enjoy. I found myself rather enjoying this kind of reaction-ing, so I might keep it up? We’ll see!

And that’s it! I hope you enjoyed.

 
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Posted by on 03/14/2020 in blabbers, Books, Review

 

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Hotel Africa vol 1 by Hee Jung Park | Blabber

Hotel Africa, Volume 1Hotel Africa vol 1 by Hee Jung Park
Manhwa – Slice of Life/Drama
215 pages
Published 5/2006
Read 9/2019
Spoiler-free blabber

Hotel Africa is a hidden gem.

I picked this manhwa up because one of my best friends has a tendency of buying a bunch of obscure stuff, and then throwing 20 or so volumes of it at me at a time to read when she’s finished with it. This was among them – I had never heard of it before, and she didn’t tell me her opinion of it before lending it to me. I didn’t even read the back before I began, so I was going in totally blind.

Man, did I end up falling in love with this.

This volume follows two timelines, both focused around the main character: Elvis. Elvis in one timeline is a young man, just trying to live his life like the rest of us. He lives with two room mates, both of which also have their struggles. In the other timeline, Elvis is four years old, living with his mother at Hotel Africa, a hotel his mother and grandmother started up in the middle of the desert in Utah. Each chapter of the manwha switches back and forth between the two timelines, and each time, it goes into a new character’s story.

This series is definitely character-driven. If you go into this looking for a rip-roaring plot, you will be disappointed, but if you go in with the desire to learn about the human condition, you might find yourself in the right place.

Hotel Africa explores a lot of topics – it delves into the characters that show up at the hotel, why they chose that hotel out in the middle of nowhere, and the circumstances that brought them there. Each hotel guest’s story is different. Some are just passing through, on their way to start a new life, some are stuck in their pasts and have gone traveling to find their present, and some show up out of nowhere and never leave.

Elvis himself interacts with these guests, and you see their human struggles through the eyes of a toddler, who at the time may or may not actually grasp what is going on with his new friends. As an adult in the other timeline, you can see Elvis has grown up to be a very empathetic person as a result of being raised around people in all sorts of situations.

I really liked how real the situations felt. Not going into detail for spoilers sake, more than one of the people who showed up at the hotel were going through things that were very close to my heart, others were going through things that I’ve never experienced, but the author was able to convey their feelings in a way so sharp and clear that I felt like I had.

As said, this is a character-driven story, so it moves at a sedated pace. Each hotel guest’s story is self-contained for the most part, allowing us multiple glimpses into situations and struggles across a spectrum of life stages. It was very poignant, and very well written.

Overall, I adored this. On the first read through, I’ve rated it very high, but I feel upon a reread, upon letting these stories really sink in, that this could end up being a 5 star favorite. I plan on getting myself a copy of this and rereading it, along with volume 2, which I believe is the only other volume in the series(?).

But this one, man. If you want something that’ll pull at your heart and make you feel slightly sad without being able to put your finger on why, this is the one.

4.5 stars

 
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Posted by on 10/06/2019 in blabbers, Books, Review

 

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O Maidens in Your Savage Season vol 1 by Mari Okada | Blabber

O Maidens in Your Savage Season 1

O Maidens in Your Savage Season vol 1 by Mari Okada
Nao Emoto, Illustrator
Sawa Matsueda Savage, Translator

Manga
Slice-of-Life/Comedy
208 pages
Rating: OT (16+)
Read Sept 1, 2019
Spoiler-free blabber

Of the 76 books I’ve read this year, this is the third one to get a solid five stars from me. I absolutely adored this manga. It was funny, it was cringe-levels of relatable, it was cute. It was great.

This manga follows a group of high school girls in a literature club. Part of the activities of this club include reading passages from books out loud to each other. The manga opens on them doing just that… but they’re reading a sex scene. Immediately the awkward tone hits as you see these girls’ inner thoughts circulate, taking in exactly what they’re hearing. It. Is. Hilarious.

Now as the synopsis states, this manga follows this group of girls as they start to become aware of and think about sex in that way that we all did when we had no idea what all it entailed, how to go about it, or how to even look at someone of the opposite (or same, or any) gender and think of them in that way. Keeping the subject matter in mind, in this manga you’ll see mild nudity and some awkward scenes surrounding it, but nothing explicit. This is rated OT after all, not M.

Reading this just really hit home. They’re all struggling in their own way to take this whole new thought process and incorporate it into their own established world construct – the idea that these thoughts exist, the idea that they have them, the idea that others have them – childhood friends, parents, strangers. Seeing how each girl goes about this process is absolutely adorable and cringey and hilarious, but most of all, it’s completely relatable. I think the author did a fantastic job of capturing how a bunch of naive teenage girls with minimal information might react to this huge change in mindset. Some take it in stride, others have a much harder time doing so.

Now I’ve mentioned a few times that I thought this was funny. But I’m not kidding – I laughed out loud (like actually laughed out loud) multiple times during this single volume. The author takes this subject and makes it both lighthearted and endearing, but is also able to convey how entirely awkward these girls feel when thinking about how their childhood friend might think of boobs, or how their classmates might be or are sexually active already.

Each of the characters, while trying to confide in each other through all of this, also find that awkward, so you see them struggle internally with what they feel they can share and what they don’t want to. It’s a very real situation that I’m sure most of us have been through at one point or another. It explores the vulnerability ones feels during this stage in a way that makes the reader just really relate to what they’re going through. And these attempted half-confessions to each other result in some very funny situations. It was definitely entertaining.

So overall – I highly recommend this manga. As I’ve said, it’s funny, it’s relatable, it’s endearing, and my gosh did it send me back to fifteen year old me’s poor little brain when it had no idea what was going on.

Absolutely fantastic manga – volume 1 has become an all-time favorite, and I plan on getting volumes 2 and 3 here quickly, as they’re out as this post goes up. 4 and 5 aren’t far behind either. This has also been adapted to an anime that’s currently debuting right now, and while I haven’t seen it yet, I’ve heard it’s just as fantastic as the manga, and I plan on watching it, too.

5 stars

 
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Posted by on 09/08/2019 in blabbers, Books, Review

 

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The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang | Blabber

The Poppy War (The Poppy War, #1)The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang
The Poppy War – Book 1
Fantasy
530 pages
Read May 2 – June 1, 2019
Spoiler-free blabber

The Poppy War had a reputation that preceded it.

I had heard more than once before going into this book that it was going to be brutal, graphic, and full of triggering themes. And it was. But honestly, I feel like it wasn’t nearly as intense as I had been expecting. There were definitely difficult situations in the book, and there were descriptions that kinda curdled my stomach, but I feel like I was lead to believe that there would be more than there was, considering the events the book is based off of.

Alternatively, I could just be so desensitized to today’s society and world events that I read all the awful stuff and went, ‘huh’. Either way, I’m not saying this as a good thing or a bad thing about the book, but to me at least, the warnings of graphic content were a bit overblown. It’s definitely there, but it’s more sprinkled than I expected. So take that as you will.

Okay so, this book.

This book follows Rin, a war orphan who takes an exam to enter a prestigious military academy in a country at the brink of war. The book itself is inspired by the events of The Rape of Nanjing, which happened during the second Sino-Japanese War that occurred 1937-1945, where Japanese troops invaded the Chinese capital of Nanjing and mass murdered and raped the citizens there. The plot of this book follows those events closely – you can see how each culture was mirrored into the fictional cultures making up the different nations in the story.

The book itself is well written – the descriptions of military tactics and troop movements and strategy are well thought out and easy to imagine as you read. The main character Rin is multi-faceted, which I was really happy to see. Her morals are all over the place, and there was no clear ‘good’ or ‘bad’. There was just war and necessity. It felt realistic, her actions, her thoughts, and her reactions, considering her age, how she was raised, trained, and how she interprets the world.

The side characters also have multiple layers to them. The brave commander that has no concept of how to lose and cannot process it, the cocky classmate that mentally adjusts when faced with actual warfare, the oddball teacher with eccentric tendencies and whose bravery or lack thereof could be interpreted many ways. It was really cool, seeing all these characters introduced and developed within the first book alone.

The magic system itself is also pretty awesome, and it was really cool that depending on the person’s perspective, that it could be used in different ways. Some characters used the magic by force, and others let it flow through them. The differences caused an interesting conflict in points of the story, and it was really fascinating to read, almost like two different flavors of the same religion battling with each other.

I think the only thing that kept me from loving it was that I couldn’t read it for long periods of time. And that might be an unfair judgement, but I did find myself only being able to pick it up for a chapter or a few pages at a time. I don’t know what it was about it that caused it, but there you go.

Overall though, I really enjoyed this book, and I’m excitedly awaiting book two, which should be out this summer.

4/5 stars

 
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Posted by on 06/08/2019 in blabbers, Books, Review

 

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The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden | Blabber

The Bear and the Nightingale (Winternight Trilogy, #1)The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Fantasy
333 pages
Released Jan 10, 2017
Read April 6-17th, 2019
Spoiler-free blabber

This book felt cold.

Overall I liked it, but it definitely took me some time to get into.

Because I’ve decided that giving synopses is not my strong point, here is the Goodreads Synopsis:

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind–she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed–this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

The Bear and the Nightingale feels cold. It takes place during winter, and reading it feels like you’re there, laying across the top of the oven with Vasilisa and her family while the snow blusters outside. Like you have found the one spot of warmness in a world of ice.

This book sets a very atmospheric tone, and I think that was my favorite part about it. The world was so rich and lush, and the creatures of Russian folklore were integrated in a way that felt natural. The writing was whimsical, and it felt like reading a fairy tale at times.

I also really liked the characters, whether I actually liked them or not. Each character was made the way they were for a reason, and even though some of them I grew to dislike, it made sense that they were there, and why they acted the way they did. Vasilisa, the main character, was my favorite. She was so headstrong and determined, and resisted the pulls of the local traditional values that would have limited her lot in life. At the same time, she acts this way, especially in the later part of the book, because she values her family. It’s a neat dynamic and I liked it.

The plot also is pretty neat – the slow introductions of organized religion into an area permeated by folklore and superstitious belief was interesting to read about, and seeing characters whose main belief systems on either side of the spectrum come to terms with those who believed the opposite was compelling. And while aspects of organized religion were shown in an unflattering way at times, the book never actually bashed the religion itself. I feel it was handled really well. Often when religion is essentially an antagonist in the story, the religion itself is portrayed as this thing that corrupts and those who believe it are silly. But not in this one. In this book, it’s shown that the people and their human error are the cause of misfortune. That their interpretations of what they believe to be right are the cause of strife, not the religious system itself. I found that really refreshing, and I really appreciated that it was portrayed that way.

So, the thing that kept me from loving this book was the pacing. For the first two hundred pages or so, the plot progression was really slow, and I had a hard time latching onto the story. Considering the book is just over 300 pages long, being lukewarm to it for the first two thirds isn’t great. After those 200 pages though, I finished it really quickly and really liked it.

Really other than the pacing, I had no complaints. This book was solidly good, and I’m glad I made the effort to get to a part where I could fall into the story more easily. The second book is out, and I feel like once my buying ban is over, it’ll be up there at the top of my list of books to get. Now that I know what to expect as far as pacing, I’m thinking I’ll like it even more.

3.75/5 stars

 
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Posted by on 04/21/2019 in blabbers, Books, Review

 

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Dark Matter by Blake Crouch | Mini-blabber

Dark MatterDark Matter by Blake Crouch
Science Fiction
342 pages
Released July 26, 2016
Read April 1-11th, 2019
Spoiler-free mini-blabber

What if your life was different?

Dark Matter follows a man named Jason, who is married to his wife Daniella and has a son. He works as a professor at the local college and is pretty satisfied with his life, but can’t help wondering, what if. What if he’d made different choices, what if he hadn’t quit his research to pursuit raising a family. Everyone has these kinds of thoughts now and again.

How do your choices lead you to where you are?

Then one day, Jason, when walking home at night, is attacked and the last thing he hears before he loses consciousness is ‘Are you happy with your life?‘. When he wakes up, he goes home to find his wife isn’t his wife, his house isn’t how he left it, and his son was never born.


And that’s all I’m going to tell you of the synopsis. Anything more I think would take away from your enjoyment of the book.

This book was really addictive. The writing was compelling enough to keep the plot moving at a rather fast pace, and the plot progression itself was pretty neat. The main character Jason, I came to feel for, as he navigated through the events that unfolded. I also really liked Daniella, and how intuitive she was when it came to her husband.

The thing that kept the book from being five stars is that it was a bit predictable. Sure I didn’t predict the exact ending, but I kind of had an inkling that something like it might happen mid-way through the book, and that inkling only grew stronger as the book continued. Even with guessing it though, it was played out really well, and the ending, well… I feel like writing a book like this, having the events happen that happened, and following the laws you set up within the story itself, it’s hard to write a perfect ending. But Blake Crouch I think picked one that suited the story well. Was it perfect? No, but like I said, I don’t know how you could make it perfect, considering.

I’m finding it really hard to talk more in-depth about what I liked. I feel like anything more I say about the plot will be a spoiler, and it’s best to go into it with as little information as possible.

Just know that I did really enjoy this, and I feel like it would make an excellent movie. A movie, mind you. Usually when I read a book I’m more of an advocate for a miniseries or something, but I think the thrilling pace and plot of this one would definitely be more suited for a movie. Do you hear me Hollywood? Get on it. I’ll be the first in line to buy a ticket.

Very good book.

4/5 stars

 

 
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Posted by on 04/20/2019 in blabbers, Books, Review

 

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