March Wrap Up | ’20

Wrap Up

Happy April! I haven’t left the house in so long. This is what I read this month!

Books and Manga

A Man and His Cat, Vol. 1

A Man & His Cat vol 1 by Umi Sakurai – This was a cute slice of life manga about a man who buys a cat. It’s bittersweet and heartwarming and I rather liked it. – 4.5 stars

Black Butler, Vol. 1 (Black Butler, #1)

Black Butler vols 1-11 by Yana Toboso – This is my latest obsession, guys. I’m so late to this train but I’m so happy I’m on it. This manga had made me laugh and gasp and I really just enjoy it so, so much. I have vol 12 with me but I’m holding off until the other sixteen – yes I ordered all remaining 16 vols currently out – arrive. I’m so pumped. – 4-5 stars each

Hitorijime My Hero, Vol. 1

Hitorijime My Hero vol 1 by Memeko Arii – Unfortunately this manga is off to a slow start. It’s definitely one of the more confusing I’ve ever read, and only midway through did I realize that it’s a spin-off of another manga that was never actually translated into English. It was no wonder characters were just there without being introduced. I ended up watching the anime, which included the untranslated manga portion so at least it made sense, but unfortunately this one wasn’t my fave and I probably won’t be continuing. – 2.5 stars

I Want to Eat Your Pancreas

I Want to Eat Your Pancreas by Yoru Sumino – Despite the interesting title, this manga is a hard-hitting story about a girl who is going to die, and she knows it. It explores the concept of dying and how people handle it. I loved this and it definitely made me cry. – 5 stars

Ten Count, Vol. 6

Ten Count vols 1-6 by Rihito Takarai – I gave it to temptation this month and bought myself this entire series. The first volume, which I already owned, was a reread, but the remaining five were first time reads for me. I really enjoyed this series but know going into it that it’s not for kids. It’s rated M for a reason. – 4-4.5 stars each

The Way of the Househusband, Vol. 1

The Way of the House Husband vols 1-2 by Kousuke Oono – This manga was a pleasant surprise. It was cute and light and really funny, and I very much enjoyed this one. It follows a former yakuza boss after he quits his gang and becomes what the title says. This one was seriously amusing. – 4 stars each

The Wilful Princess and the Piebald Prince

The Wilful Princess and the Piebald Prince by Robin Hobb – One of a whopping two actual books I read this month, I very much enjoyed this. It’s a novella set in Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings world and I buddy read it with Zezee @Zezeewithbooks! – 4.5 stars

Takane & Hana, Vol. 1

Takane & Hana vol 1 by Yuki Shiwasu – This is another manga I’m not totally sold on. It’s an age gap romance and honestly it’s a bit too gappy for me, and that’s saying something as my husband is eight years older than I am. Since it’s just been cute and fluffy so far, I’m willing to give it a few more volumes but if it gets creepy, I’m out. – 3.5 stars

Again!!, Vol. 1

Again!! vols 1-2 by Mitsurou Kubo – This is an interesting manga. It follows the ‘what if I could do it over, jump back in time’ trope, which I was iffy about to begin with. But so far though I think I like this – if I see volumes of it on the shelf (whenever I can leave the house to see a shelf) I’ll probably pick more of this one up. – 3.5-4 stars each

Strawberry Panic Omnibus

Strawberry Panic by Sakurako Kimino – So this was my first introduction to yuri manga and honestly it was a terrible introduction. The setting was weird, the romance was weird, and worst of all the ‘complete collection’ it brags about only contains two out of the three manga in the series. Apparently the third was never translated into English. Gah, honestly I really don’t recommend this one. There are so many better yuris, I’m sure. – 2 stars

Confidential Confessions, Volume 1

Confidential Confessions vol 1 by Momochi Reiko – This one I picked up because I remember reading it back when I was a teen and being uncomfortable. Well, I was still uncomfortable. This one contains major trigger warnings for suicide. This was not a happy manga. I rather liked it though. – 3 stars

Magus of the Library, Vol. 1

Magus of the Library vol 1 by Mitsu Izumi – This manga was so enchanting, a book lover’s dream. It follows a young boy who loves to read, and the librarians that show up in his town. I definitely plan on continuing this one, I was enthralled. – 4.5 stars

BJ Alex

BJ Alex by Mingwa – Like Ten Count mentioned above, this one is also not for the kiddies. This manhwa was alright. The romance was a bit weird and bordered on non-con at times and I really didn’t dig that. But overall… not bad? I guess? – 3.5 stars

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Love Is An Illusion by Fargo – This is another manwha webtoon that, again, is not for kids. (Can you tell, I’ve found a new kick. First shojo manga and now pwp-romance. Whatevs!) This one I liked better than BJ Alex but here the romance was still kinda weird. The blond guy in particular got on my nerves but overall, mostly enjoyable. – 3.75 stars

I.O.N

I.O.N. by Arina Tanemura – This manga screams ‘2004’ and not in a good way. I picked this up after seeing it was from shojo beat so I figured I’d give it a shot. Well, I didn’t like it. At all, really. It was unfortunate. – 2 stars

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing (An Absolutely Remarkable Thing #1)

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green – And this my friends ended my month on a high note. I really, really liked this book. After trudging through so-so romance and a terrible shojo, this really hit the spot. It’s a first contact book but it also is a commentary on how instant internet fame can change a person, and I really liked it. The second one comes out this summer and I am p u m p e d. – 4.75 stars

And that’s it for things read! With everything put together, I read 33 things!


Other Stuff

  • As is obvious at this point, I’m on stay-at-home orders just like everyone else. That means in addition to working from home until further notice, I’m also no longer going to Tekkoshocon until it’s rescheduled (boo). I’m not sick yet and I hope I stay that way.
  • Honestly working from home has kinda made me low-key hate my job. Shh.
  • I’m participating in both the Owls Magical Readathon and Camp Nanowrimo this month!
  • I’ve never used my slow cooker so often as I have the past few weeks. Man-hoo-boy.

Reading Goals

  • Read 50 books – 54/100 (upped from 50 to 100)
  • Maintain a consistent posting schedule
    January – Fail
    February – Pass
    March – Pass
  • Keep track of reading statistics – In progress
  • Reduce physical TBR to 200 – 238

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