Manga Reviews: Lovesick Ellie Volume 4, 5, & 6

Lovesick Ellie follows a young woman named Ellie who is a self-proclaimed pervert and is fixated on the most popular boy in school, Ohmi. A chance encounter with Ohmi reveals Ohmi’s true nature, leads to them getting closer, and maybe to Ellie’s fantasies becoming a reality.

Series: Lovesick Ellie
Volume 4
Author: Fujimomo
First published: 2015
Ongoing: yes
Rating: 4.25/5 stars
Date read: April 30, 2020

After the events of the previous volume Ellie and Ohmi have worked out their latest conflict but now finals are just around the corner and Ellie should be more concerned than she is about her grades, otherwise how will she get the chance to spend the holidays with Ohmi?

I thought Ohmi was such a sweet boyfriend in this volume. It’s really nice to see him taking to heart Ellie’s insecurities, and making changes accordingly. I also really appreciated how annoyed Ohmi got over people taking advantage of Ellie, though I’m still waiting for her to find her own voice. Watching her character develop over the course of each volume is one of my favourite aspects of the series and it was especially sweet seeing Ellie getting along better with her classmates. She’s slowly breaking free from her shell, at an organic and believable pace. Ellie did stress me out a bit in this volume in that her loss of focus when it came to school was a bit alarming, and I felt like I cared lot more about her grades than she herself did. 

I’m also still not sure how I feel about Sara and Reo’s relationship, I root for them more than not, but I want more backstory between the two and I’m hoping Sara will start being nicer to Reo. Kaname makes his official appearance in this volume, I always enjoy it when a mysterious boy is introduced and he did not disappoint. Like all common tropes, Lovesick Ellie does something a bit different with him. Kaname doesn’t come off as a likeable character because he speaks his mind a bit too freely and doesn’t quite seem to grasp social cues, but I found this really refreshing and I’m looking forward to his future interactions with Ellie. But what really got me was the second half of the volume, our girl is always stuck in her own head and can’t fathom the idea of Ohmi wanting the same things she does, this creates some really adorable scenes between the two with Ohmi really frustrated over his inability to properly convey his feelings. This was my favourite volume so far and my face hurts from smiling over it.

Volume 5
Rating: 3.75/5 stars
Date read: May 4, 2020

Volume 5 picks up right where volume 4 left off, with Ellie going over to Ohmi’s house.

So this was probably my least favourite volume so far because it featured one of my least favourite shoujo manga scenarios. I won’t ever be a fan of a childhood friend/step-sibling/cousin being introduced into the mix for what seems like the sole purpose of causing tension between the main couple. I already feel enough for Ellie and her insecurities that I don’t need some girl causing trouble for her. Sakura was a pretty annoying character, but overall I am pretty pleased with the way the drama was handed and the resolution it came to. I’m also super thankful this story arc only lasted one volume. It was also really nice seeing Ellie stick to her resolve and standing up for herself. 

Volume 6
Rating: 4/5 stars
Date read: May 18, 2020

Volume 6 of Lovesick Ellie is our Valentine’s Day volume, though the theme is for the most part, surprisingly, more on friendship than on romance. Kaname is also causing tension in Ellie’s relationships, in more ways that one. 

Lovesick Ellie just keeps growing on me. I have such a soft spot for this series. I find Ellie and her awkwardness so endearing, and her friendship with Sara is so cute, and her relationship with Ohmi is so clumsy and sweet. It’s always so fun when your two protagonists have such great chemistry. Ellie really brings out Ohmi’s shy but demanding side and I love it so much.

I appreciated that one of the major conflicts in this volume was between Sara and Ellie, it’s great to see that friends don’t always get along, and that friendships also require time and effort. I especially liked that the two girls also had a conversation about sex. Sex is not something that is often discussed in shoujo and I appreciated Sara’s positive attitude towards it. As for Sara and Reo, I still don’t really understand why she acts the way she does around him, though I imagine we’ll eventually find that out. The two shared some really cute scenes in this instalment and Reo is such a sweet guy.

As for that last chapter, I really enjoyed the first half, but was really surprised by how things ended. I just didn’t expect Lovesick Ellie to do something so typical. I do think Kaname is a good rival though, in that he’s easy to root for and his interactions with Ellie are super cute. Obviously I still prefer Ohmi though.

Also, props to Kaname for finally telling off Tanaka. While it would have been more satisfying if Ellie was the one to do it, I still enjoyed that scene immensely. 

If you’ve read Lovesick Ellie or plan to, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 💗

Book Review: Today Tonight Tomorrow

Title: Today Tonight Tomorrow
Author: Rachel Lynn Solomon
Date Published: July 28, 2020
Rating: 3.75/5 stars
Date read: November 14, 2020

Today Tonight Tomorrow is a young adult contemporary novel following high school senior Rowan Roth on her last day of senior year. As per her school’s tradition she and the rest of the senior class compete in a game that involves completing tasks and secretly killing-off (not literally) the other students. In an unexpected turn of events Rowan ends up teaming up with her academic rival, Neil McNair. But over the course of the day the two properly get to know one another, and Rowan begins to wonder if she’s had the wrong impression of Neil all along. 

I like enemies-to-lovers/hate-to-love romances more so in theory than in practice. While they provide the perfect opportunity for romantic tension and angst, majority of the time I find that one party acts too ruthlessly towards the other and I end up being put-off by the relationship as a whole. I think they become even more difficult to pull-off in contemporary settings, because I often do not feel that the situations properly garner the extent of dislike one person feels towards the other. Thankfully Today Tonight Tomorrowsets the two rivals up quite well, and in a way that is quite compelling. I liked that Rowan’s understanding of Neil’s character really only brushed the surface, and her over-achieving, and highly competitive personality made her competition with Neil understandable. That she also has respect for him was a big factor in what made me able to root for the two, and it’s pretty clear from the get-go that she has feelings she needs to realize for herself. 

As far as the story goes, I really liked the game aspect of it as it helped add fun drama to the story and was a unique way of forcing two characters to interact together. Both the game and the story ultimately played out the way I expected they would but this was a story more about the journey than the destination so I didn’t view this as a fault. I also felt the story was compelling enough that I always looked forward to picking the novel back up. In regards to setting, I’ve never been to Seattle so I can’t speak for the depiction, but I don’t think the writing was strong enough that I was able to picture the scenes as much as I would have liked. As for the writing of Today Tonight Tomorrow, while it wasn’t anything special, it was by no means bad; easy to digest, but not particularly memorable. 

Lastly, the characters. I think I didn’t like this novel nearly as much as other readers because I had trouble sympathizing with Rowan. Rowan is barely out of high school, and yet she harbours a lot of nostalgia towards her high school life. As someone who did not enjoy high school and who was eager to leave it, I really couldn’t relate. I also couldn’t connect with the fact that Rowan thought it necessary to hide her love of romance novels, but I suppose I’m lucky in this regard. I’m not really one who needs to connect to or relate with a protagonist to enjoy a novel, but it is something I desire a lot more when it comes to contemporaries, especially when it is the wants of the protagonist that are driving the story forward. I also had trouble connecting to Neil because he was too perfect. He was so understanding and kind, and faultless, it made his character seem unrealistic. That said I do think Rowan and Neil had great chemistry. As for non-romantic relationships, I also really liked the conflict that involved Rowan and her friends. Friendships are an important part of adolescence and I always appreciate novels that give focus to them. In this case we’re shown how friendships can be affected by romantic relationships, and I thought the situation was well handled. 

Overall I’d recommend Today Tonight Tomorrow to anyone looking for a light YA romance.

Have you read Today Tonight Tomorrow? If not, do you plan to? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 💗

Manga Reviews: Yona of the Dawn Volumes 7, 8, & 9

Yona lives her life as a spoiled princess of Kohka, hoping to one day marry her sweet and handsome cousin Su-won and being constantly annoyed by her bodyguard Hak. On Yona’s sixteenth birthday her life changes dramatically, she witnesses the murder of her father at the hands of her beloved Su-won. Hak and Yona flee the palace, and set off on a journey to find Yona’s destiny and the companions she needs to achieve it. 

Series: Yona of the Dawn
Volume 7
Author: Mizuho Kusanagi
First published: 2010
Ongoing: yes
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Date read: May 8, 2020 (reread)

Volume 7 picks up right where volume 8 left off, as our gang tries to follow through with their plans to take down Kum-Ji. 

I know I said this of the previous volume, but I really do love watching Yun rise to the occasion and act so selflessly. As for the other characters, Jaeha is such a great addition to the group and I love his hilarious personality, and Kija is so pure and sweet, I just love all the characters. We also, finally, got a look into what Su-Won is up to. Of all the characters in the series, I find him the most intriguing and I hope that his motivations are more explored later on in the series. 

This was the most action packed volume so far, and while I do prefer the quieter moments of the series, I did really enjoy the action and believed in the stakes, especially in regards to Yona and Yun’s situation. This volume also had a lot of touching scenes, the found family that is developing here is my favourite and is so sweet, and I was sad to see the gang say goodbye to their friends in Awa. I do have a complaint about this story arc though, I wish Kum-Ji was a more developed villain. We know everyone in Awa is afraid of him, but we don’t really know why, I would have liked a bit more insight into just how he’s controlling the city. 

As for that last chapter in the volume, while it moves the story forward in no way whatsoever, it was my favourite and I love it when Kusanagi focuses on the humour and everyday lives of Yona and her crew.

Volume 8
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Date read: May 11, 2020 (reread)

After finally convincing Jaeha to join them, the crew must now look for the Yellow Dragon, but maybe he’s not so difficult to find after all? Also, why is Su-won visiting the Earth tribe?

This was actually one of my favourite volumes so far, because while it didn’t do anything massive, it did answer some major questions I was having, like what both Su-won and Yona’s goals are (at least in the short term). We also end off the volume with a more filler/character development type of chapter where the gang is just being their cute selves and those are always my favourite.

We finally get to meet Zeno in this volume, and we still don’t really have Jaeha’s backstory. I imagine we’ll be getting more insight into both characters in later volumes though. I also enjoyed seeing a hint of a deeper side to Zeno, and Jaeha is extremely perceptive when it comes to Hak and what he’s feeling. Hak and Jaeha’s relationship is easily my favourite non-romantic dynamic of the series.

As for Su-won’s chapters, in his chapters we get to properly meet one of the tribe leaders, General Geun-tae of the Earth Tribe. Su-won’s chapters definitely had me questioning exactly what the role is of a chieftain, because while it’s clear that Geun-tae knew about the turmoil in Awa, I’m not exactly under the impression he was trying to do anything about it. I enjoyed that Su-won’s chapters were more or less in Gun-tae’s perspective because it allows the reader to get more of an understanding as to how the citizens of Kohka perceive the king. It wasn’t initially obvious just why Su-won decided to hold a festival in the Earth tribe, but now that I know the outcome I thought all that resulted from it a bit too convenient. I also don’t really understand why Su-won bothers to put on such an act. We know there’s this hidden side to him, but I don’t know why he feels the need to hide it. Also, if Su-won and Hak end up facing off one day and Hak loses to this guy, I’m going to be so unimpressed. I do think Su-won and Yona are two sides of the same coin, they have the same goals, but completely different ways of going about it especially in regards to what they have available to them. It’s interesting in that I don’t think Yona could be making the changes she wants for her country as a royal, and yet Su-won is the opposite and can only make those changes because of the position he is in. 

Volume 9
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Date read: May 25, 2020 (reread)

Volume 9 picks up where Volume 8 left off with Yona and crew back at Ik-su’s place. Yun is visiting a poor Fire Tribe village and the rest of the group decides to tag along, which results in some pretty unexpected outcomes. 

And with this volume The Black Dragon and the Happy Hungry Bunch are born! I love the name the gang has chosen for themselves; the ridiculousness of it lends to some pretty funny jokes and I like that the HHB never take themselves too seriously. I feel like I say this every time, but the different interactions and dynamics between the characters never ceases to amuse or endear me to them, they’re so sweet and funny. 

This volume also has some chapters which focus on Shin-ah, and the trauma he’s faced as a child. There’s a lot to unpack with his character, especially when it comes to his power, and I found the darker nature of the Blue Dragon particularly interesting.

We also get further exploration of the Fire Tribe lands, and through the shenanigans of this volume we’re able to see the type of political turmoil that goes on in the Fire Tribe. I’m looking forward to eventually seeing more of every tribe. 

If you’ve read Yona of the Dawn or plan to, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 💗

Book Review: The Afterlife of Holly Chase

Title: The Afterlife of Holly Chase
Author: Cynthia Hand
Date Published: October 24, 2017
Rating: 4/5 stars
Date read: December 31, 2020 (reread)

The Afterlife of Holly Chase is a very loose retelling of A Christmas Carol. In the beginning of our story we see a young woman named Holly Chase go on the same journey as Ebenezer Scrooge, but instead of achieving moral enlightenment she views the whole setup as a scam, and proceeds to die the next day. Fast forward five years, Holly is an employee for the company that tried to save her, Project Scrooge, working as the ghost of Christmas past. Their assignment this year is a 17-year-old young man named Ethan Winters, who Holly takes more interest in than she should. 

Every now and then I just want something fluffy but heartfelt, with shallow, unconventional characters and The Afterlife of Holly Chase really hits the spot. This is a character type I think Hand writes particularly well (I’m also thinking of The How and the Why) because she somehow manages to also make these character types charming in their own way. Holly Chase in particular is judgemental, shallow, and self-centred, but with so much room for character growth. And I do think the primary focus of this novel is her development, and how the new relationships she forms over the course of the novel offer her perspective into her past relationships, which in turn shifts her priorities in more meaningful directions. To speak firstly of the romance, Holly and Ethan were easy to root for, and brought out unexpected sides in each other. They had great chemistry and I found myself hoping they could make their relationship work. But what left the most lasting impression on me was Holly’s relationships with her ex-best friend and her father respectively. Holly’s sentiments towards both these relationships as the novel progressed felt very heartfelt and had me tearing up at times. That said, I think what really sets The Afterlife of Holly Chase apart from most other contemporaries (unique premise aside) is the ending, I really respect Hand for where she took the story in its last moments and because of that it’s a story that I can foresee myself rereading again and again. 

Note: I have read the original source material, but to be honest I don’t remember it that well, so I don’t think reading the original is necessary to enjoy The Afterlife of Holly Chase, though I do imagine it heightens the experience a bit. Also, I listened to the audiobook for both my reads of this story and I highly recommend it, I think Erin Spencer’s voice fits Holly really well.

Have you read The Afterlife of Holly Chase? If not, do you plan to? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 💗

Book Review: Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined

Title: Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined
Author: Danielle Younge-Ullman
Date Published: February 21, 2017
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Date read: November 2, 2020 (reread)

Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined follows an aspiring singer named Ingrid, who gets permission from her former opera singer mother to pursue music on the condition that she attend a wilderness survival camp for at-risk teenagers. The story is told through multiple timelines, following Ingrid’s time at camp, her budding friendship with a boy named Isaac, and the loss of her mother’s singing voice. 

Younge-Ullman’s writing alone is enough to bring me to read a novel. She’s fantastic at writing both witty dialogue and snarky, sarcastic characters, two elements I love having in any book I read. That her words so effectively portray and carry emotion is also a huge plus, and I often find her protagonists’ way of thinking incredibly relatable. I also love the imagery she uses, it often has me imaging myself in the scene. 

In regards to themes, the novel’s most prominent one is grief. Ingrid has a lot of complicated feelings towards the most important relationship in her life, and a lot of emotions she bottles up. Over the course of the novel we unpack these feelings with her and see how holding in emotions can be harmful. As someone who’s always had a hard time discussing my own feelings, I could really relate to Ingrid’s struggle. Seeing Ingrid coming to terms with her issues was really emotionally impactful, but I also appreciated that there were no grand solutions for Ingrid’s problems. 

To speak of the present timeline, I’m not a fan of the wilderness so I find it quite interesting that I don’t mind reading this type of setting. Ingrid’s temperament and attitudes towards wilderness were similar to my own, so I had no difficulties empathizing with her struggle to adapt to camp life. I also liked that Ingrid wasn’t quick to form lasting relationships, and that she was a more introspective and introverted character. It feels more genuine that the group members of her camp ended up forming cliques, but also that they were slowly able to open up to one another over time. But while I enjoyed the present day timeline, and thought it did well to unpack Ingrid’s feelings, my favourite aspect of the novel was the flashbacks that centred on Ingrid and her parents. Her relationship with Andreas was so sweet and a most needed comfort during the difficult periods of her life. As for Ingrid’s mother, through the flashbacks we were really able to see the full picture in regards to Margot-Sophia’s character, and while I would rather not comment on Margot-Sophia’s actions, I did understand where she was coming from. Because Ingrid, Andreas, and Margot-Sophia’s characters were so well fleshed out, the different relationships between the three were layered and complex, and ended up being the most memorable aspect of the novel.

Lastly, the negatives. I had this complaint the first time I read Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined and I also have it about He Must Like You and it’s that I have a hard time connecting to Younge-Ullman’s romances. While I liked the dynamic Ingrid had with Tavik, especially their chemistry, I wasn’t as big a supporter of her relationship with Isaac. I’m beginning to think it’s because I don’t get along particularly well with the personalities of Younge-Ullman’s love interests, which really is just a personal preference. That’s not to say that I think the romance was bad, just that if I’m going to root for a romance I have a preference for liking those involved. 

CW: suicide, sexual assault, depression

Have you read Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined? If not, do you plan to? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 💗

Manga Reviews: Yona of the Dawn Volume 4, 5, & 6

Yona lives her life as a spoiled princess of Kohka, hoping to one day marry her sweet and handsome cousin Su-won and being constantly annoyed by her bodyguard Hak. On Yona’s sixteenth birthday her life changes dramatically, she witnesses the murder of her father at the hands of her beloved Su-won. Hak and Yona flee the palace, and set off on a journey to find Yona’s destiny and the companions she needs to achieve it. 

Series: Yona of the Dawn
Volume 4
Author: Mizuho Kusanagi
First published: 2010
Ongoing: yes
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Date read: May 5, 2020 (reread)

In this volume of Yona of the Dawn Yona and crew set off in search of the next dragon.

Volume 4 is a good time. I really enjoyed seeing Kija struggle to adapt to life on the road, especially after living his entire life in luxury, and it’s especially great because it’s something we didn’t get as much from Yona’s character but in her defence she had a lot on her mind. I totally forgot how much Hak and Kija didn’t get along at the beginning of their journey and their back-and-fourth bickering to get Yona’s attention was hilarious to read. I feel like later on in the series we don’t focus nearly as much on Kija so it was nice to have him get so much attention. I also appreciate that the Blue Dragon has a completely different backstory/situation from Kija’s and that we get to see the dragons’ time before meeting Yona. Shin-Ah’s backstory always makes me feel sad and of the dragons he’s the one my heart goes out to the most. Also, being the Hak x Yona fan girl that I in fact am, I loved that whenever something is going on with Yona Hak is the first person she thinks of. 

Volume 5
Rating: 4.75/5 stars
Date read: May 5, 2020 (reread)

Volume 5 of Yona of the Dawn picks up right where Volume 4 left off with Yona, Kija and Yun trapped underground with the Blue Dragon and some of his tribe.

This was my favourite volume of Yona of the Dawn so far during my reread. I love how devoted and sweet Kija is. It was especially adorable seeing how excited he was over meeting another dragon. This volume offers insight into the repercussions of King Il’s reign, and we see that while he was kind and had good intentions, he wasn’t the best ruler for the country. Yona’s heartbreak over the loss of her father was especially touching in this volume and I greatly admire her determination and resolve. As well, we finally get to meet Jaeha, he’s my favourite dragon and I love his interactions with Hak. Kusanagi’s jokes and my sense of humour are a perfect match, and I found this to be the funniest volume so far. Kusanagi is able to convey so many sentiments through facial expressions and this is especially effective when she’s being humorous. Again, Jaeha is quite different from the other two dragons, and he is by far the most resistant to Yona’s pull, and does his best to avoid her which made for some pretty amusing situations.

Volume 6
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Date read: May 6, 2020 (reread)

In Volume 6 of Yona of the Dawn Yona finally gets to meet Jaeha, who unfortunately for her, has no intention of joining her crew. Yona does her best not to let this deter her, and she and the rest of her gang decide to team up with Jaeha’s pirate friends in order to take down the menace ruling Awa.

One of the themes of this series is being strong when you are physically weak, and this theme was especially prominent in this volume. Yona is constantly wanting to do what she can for everyone she meets, but always feels like she lacks the means to do so, and I liked seeing her internal struggle in this instalment. I also think this story arc gives us the first proper taste of what’s to come in the series. 

One of my favourite aspects of this story is the interactions between characters. There are so many varying dynamics, and it makes every interaction between the main cast so fun to read. Jaeha and Hak’s interactions are some of my absolute favourite and it’s nice to see someone teasing Hak for a change. Kija trying to recruit Jaeha and him not having it was also really entertaining. I’m not a fan of a love interest holding back the main character in order to keep them safe so I’m glad Hak wasn’t one to get in Yona’s way. I love that he just wants her to succeed. 

I think Yun’s the real hero in this volume though. Yun’s not nearly as altruistic as many of the characters in this series, so I thought it especially brave of him to rise to the occasion despite how fearful he is. I’m appreciating his character a lot more with this reread. Also, Yun being so concerned for Yona’s safety was too cute. 

P.S. if you’re paying attention, the things Pu-Kyu gets up to are hilarious. 

If you’ve read Yona of the Dawn or plan to, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 💗

Book Review: Foul Is Fair

Title: Foul Is Fair
Author: Hannah Capin
Date Published: February 18, 2020
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Date read: November 22, 2020

Foul is Fair is a loose contemporary retelling of Hamletfollowing a sixteen-year-old young woman who enacts a brutal revenge after being gang raped at a party.

If I had to summarize this novel in a few words it would be witty, sharp, and a slap to the face. Foul is Fair’s gritty and atmospheric storytelling, smart writing, and ruthless characters were reminiscent of Tarantino’s film style, and if the director ever decided he wanted to adapt a young adult novel there is none more suited for him than this. That said, I think this is one of those books that will have a tougher time finding its audience because I do not think its writing style has mass appeal. But I personally was completely enamoured by the writing and it’s not often that I get the sense I’ve picked up the right book after reading only the first paragraph. Capin does rely on a repetitive type of narrative, something I don’t usually enjoy, but in this instance this stylistic choice had a sort of enchanting type effect that helped set the dark and creepy tone.

Luckily writing isn’t Foul is Fair’s only charm, as I found both setup and characters equally enthralling. Jade is tough, uncompromising, and everything I’ve ever wanted from a female assassin type character which feels weird to say because this isn’t an assassin fantasy novel. I really liked her lack of remorse and her ability to manipulate situations to her desired outcome. She was the perfect balance of sexy and badass without feeing overly sexualized. Her group of friends completed her image and really helped set the tone for her character. As for the side characters, they more or less fit certain expectations and while we didn’t get to know any of them super well, I don’t think that was ever the intention.

In terms of story, I do not think this novel is particularly realistic, but that isn’t something I expect from thrillers, so I don’t view that as a criticism. That the story ultimately played out the way I expected it to, with no plot twists being overly surprising, did not affect my overall enjoyment either as I enjoyed the journey more than the reveals. What I especially liked was how conflicted I felt about the events of the story. Jade’s game plan is horrifying and terrible, but at the same time I have a hard time sympathizing with her aggressors because they’re also horrible and without remorse. Also, I’m not particularly fond of Shakespeare, but I absolutely loved and appreciated the nods to the original story. I think they really helped set the tone of the novel, and I would recommend reading the original source material first as I think the experience is heightened for one who’s read the story prior. If I have an criticisms they mainly involve the ending of the novel, while it was by no means bad, I did think it was a bit messy and there were some aspects I could have gone without. 

CW: rape, murder, suicide

Have you read Foul Is Fair? If not, do you plan to? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 💗

Manga Reviews: Lovesick Ellie Volumes 1, 2, & 3

Series: Lovesick Ellie
Volume 1
Author: Fujimomo
First published: 2015
Ongoing: yes
Rating: 4/5 stars
Date read: December 31, 2019

Lovesick Ellie follows a young woman named Ellie who is a self-proclaimed pervert and is fixated on the most popular boy in school, Ohmi. A chance encounter with Ohmi reveals Ohmi’s true nature, leads to them getting closer, and maybe to Ellie’s fantasies becoming a reality.

Lovesick Ellie is off to a great start. Ellie is one of those wallflower protagonists who doesn’t have many, if any, friends. She’s likeable, easy to root for, and easy to sympathize with given the way her classmates make no effort with her. Ellie’s perverted nature can get a bit awkward at times, but it’s more hilarious than it is weird (and it’s pretty weird). I love Ellie’s interactions with Ohmi, they’re so cute, and even though she’s often thinking perverted things they’re very wholesome. I like that Ohmi accepts Ellie for who she is right off the bat, and that he’s comfortable being himself around her, I’d say that’s a pretty good premise and reason for liking a girl. But Ellie and Ohmi aren’t the only fun characters, I love the addition of Sara to the cast. Lovesick Ellie does something unique with her introduction, in that initially it seems like Sara is using Ellie to get closer to Ohmi but in reality really does just want to be her friend. Chapter four is pretty much your typical festival chapter, with a potential rival thrown in, but I’m interested to see Fujimomo’s take on it.

Volume 2
Rating: 4/5 stars
Date read: January 31, 2020

Volume 2 of Lovesick Ellie picks up right where we left off last volume, with Ellie and Ohmi stranded after the festival.

It’s a pretty common occurrence in shoujo manga that the main couple gets stranded, has to stay at a hotel, thinks about doing the deed, but ultimately doesn’t. I like that Lovesick Ellie did things differently, and more realistically, in that Ohmi called his uncle for a ride home. When we were introduced to Aoba, I expected him to be a rival for Ohmi, but of course Lovesick Ellie isn’t your typical shoujo and goes about things a bit differently. Aoba isn’t really acting like a rival and while he does bring out Ohmi’s jealous side he makes no actual passes at Ellie, and I feel like his character is present more to give insight into Ohmi’s past than anything else. Ohmi’s backstory isn’t overly moving or anything (mind you I never think manga does backstories particularly well as they always seem to hinge on some sort of event) but I did find this one a lot more believable. I definitely have a soft spot for this series, Ellie is a super weird protagonist but she’s also very endearing. She’s different from other shoujo protagonists in that she’s weird and she embraces it. I also just really like Ohmi as a love interest, they’re well suited for each other.

Volume 3
Rating: 4/5 stars
Date read: April 18, 2020

Is all of Ellie’s hard work and studying finally paying off?

I think this was the best volume of Lovesick Ellie so far. It took a lot of typical shoujo tropes and flipped them on their heads. Instead of the typical “bland girl gets bullied for being with the popular boy” scenario, we have a misunderstanding and Ellie’s peers think Ohmi is dating Sara and they target her instead. As much as I don’t like this trope, I did enjoy seeing Lovesick Ellie poke fun at it. Ohmi wasn’t great at communicating his feelings to Ellie in the last few chapters (I’m pretty impressed at his communication with Ellie aside from this), but I think the problem was addressed and fixed pretty quickly. I can definitely forgive miscommunication when it’s resolved right away, and when said resolution is as cute as this one was. In fact every resolution they had in this volume was adorable, and I love how much Ohmi reassures Ellie when she’s feeling insecure. As wild as Ellie’s imagination can get, her insecurities towards her first kiss were very endearing and something I’m sure a lot of young people can relate to. Romance aside, one of my favourite aspects of Lovesick Ellie is Ellie’s relationship with Sara. I love that Ellie and Sara confide so much in each other, and find their friendship super sweet. Shoujo manga is killing it lately with the friendships. I LOVE me a rival so naturally I’m super excited about the next volume. 

If you read Lovesick Ellie or plan to, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 💗

Book Review: What I Carry

Title: What I Carry
Author: Jennifer Longo
Date Published: January 31, 2020
Rating: 3/5 stars
Date read: December 1, 2020

What I Carry follows a 17-year-old high school senior named Muiriel who is soon aging out of foster care. She makes an active effort not to form attachments to her foster families and often moves houses, but during her last year she tries committing to one home.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about What I Carry. On the one hand foster care and/or adoption stories are stories that consistently have a strong emotional impact on me and I find the insight gained from them invaluable, and What I Carry was no exception to this. On the other hand all other aspects of the novel fell short for me. To start, I think this novel’s biggest weakness is in its writing. The author tries too hard to write from a teenage narrative, to the point where it feels forced. And while I appreciate that Longo attempts to tackle other important topics such as racism, and more specifically internment camps, I think had those topics been discussed with more nuance it would have left a stronger impact. The fact that Muir was always playing hero to the only two characters of colour also rubbed me the wrong way. I do appreciate the amount of research that went into the foster care aspects of this novel though, and when the book focuses on foster care I thought the novel was at its strongest. Muir’s flashbacks in particular were quite impactful. My one complaint in that regard though is that it would have also been more compelling to know more about what happens to some of the kids who do age out, as opposed to vaguely alluding to it.

In regards to characters, Muir was an interesting character to follow, and I could sympathize with what she was going through. I like that initially she was more subdued, but over time began to be more expressive, that gradual shift in demeanour was a great reflection of her character growth. I did find her attachment to John Muir a bit annoying at times though, and her arguments with Sean about conservation vs preservation felt more like trying to side the reader with preservation than actually providing concrete arguments to both sides. Speaking of Muir and Sean, I thought the relationship between the two lacked chemistry and that made it difficult for me to be truly invested in their relationship. I was always much more interested in scenes Muir shared with Kira or Francine as I thought those relationships felt a lot more genuine. The understanding between the women was clear and they all really respected each other which provided a solid foundation for their friendships. Muir’s interactions with Natan were really gross, and as the repercussions of her assault were minimally discussed, it left me with the feeling that Longo was trying to cram in as many social injustices into this novel as possible. The bullying narrative was probably the worst element of the story though, and seemed to only serve as a way to push certain characters into making certain decisions. That the bullies became irrelevant afterwards came across to me as sloppy storytelling. 

Have you read What I Carry? If not, do you plan to? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 💗

Project Reread Update #4

Over the past few years my book collection has expanded a lot. Because I have a small apartment and as a result, limited shelf space, I decided I wanted to limit the number of books I have on my shelves with no reread value. Initially I thought I’d just unhaul books I’m no longer interested in, and one set of books that almost didn’t make the cut was The Boyfriend List. But then I remembered how much I loved that series growing up, so I gave it another chance, reread it, and absolutely loved it. Since then I started Project Reread, where I reread all the books on my shelves in order to give them a fair chance before potentially unhauling them. Here’s the latest set.

Title: Something Blue
Author: Emily Giffin
First date read: <2010
First rating: 4.5/5 stars
Second date read: March 22, 2020
Second rating: 3/5 stars

Something Blue is the companion novel to Something Borrowed and while the books do not have to be read in order, I would not recommend reading them out of order. Something Blue follows 29-year-old Darcy Rhone, who has just learned of her fiancé’s infidelity after catching him with her best friend. Darcy’s no saint either and has been sleeping with one of the groomsmen, Marcus, but still views this act between her best friend and ex-fiancé as unforgivable. Without fully thinking things through, she decides she is going to marry Marcus and have his baby. Marcus is not overjoyed by this turn of events and eventually dumps Darcy. Pregnant and with no one to turn to but her friend Ethan, she moves into his flat in London. 

Something Blue did not age well, like at all. Unlikable characters can be pretty hit-or-miss for me, and while I ultimately do like Darcy, the way her character development unfolded left much to be desired. I also just cannot overlook the fact that Darcy forced a pregnancy on someone, that scene was incredibly distasteful and problematic. While I’m always going to look back fondly on Darcy’s romance, this is not a story I’m ever going to revisit and this is a definite unhaul.

Title: Nice Try, Jane Sinner
Author: Lianne Oelke
First date read: February 16, 2018
First rating: 4.75/5 stars
Second date read: March 31, 2020
Second rating: 4.5/5 stars

Nice Try, Jane Sinner follows a young woman named Jane Sinner who recently got kicked out of high school after failing to attend her mandatory counselling sessions. She ultimately decides to finish her high school diploma by collecting her remaining credits through a community college. She also has every intention of moving out and stumbles upon an ad looking for show contestants for a reality TV show put on by students of the college called House of Orange. Because rent in the house is cheap and there is a possibility of winning a car, Jane decides to join the show. The premise of the show is that there are a group of students living together in House of Orange who perform tasks to win prizes and/or immunity from being voted out of the house. Hilarity ensues.

Jane’s my girl so of course it was no surprise that I loved revisiting her and her story. I was actually in a much better mindset the second time I read this one so in that regard I related to Jane less, but I still really appreciated this story. I think if you’ve gone through a mentally taxing time this is a great read to pick up, I definitely felt my own experiences with depression were seen and validated while reading this, and sometimes that’s what you really need.

Title: The View from the Cheap Seats
Author: Neil Gaiman
First date read: July 22, 2017
First rating: 4.5/5 stars
Second date read: March 31, 2020
Second rating: 4/5 stars

The View From the Cheap Seats is a collection of essays, articles, introductions, etc. written by Neil Gaiman throughout his career. There is no one over arching theme of the novel, and to give you a better idea of what you’re getting into, the novel is divided up into the following sections:
-Some Things I Believe
-Some People I Have Known
-Introductions and Musings: Science Fiction
-Films and Movies and Me
-On Comics and Some of the People Who Make Them
-Introductions and Contradictions
-Music and the People Who Make It
-On Stardust and Fairy Tales
-Make Good Art (the Make Good Art speech)
-The View from the Cheap Seats: Real Things

I really only started reading non-fiction three years ago. It can be a pretty intimidating genre to pick up if you haven’t before, and I found comfort in reading non-fiction by an author I previously enjoyed. The View From the Cheap Seats is a good starting point, especially if you’re just getting back into reading, because one of the takeaways I had the first time I picked it up was a reminder of why I love reading and why reading is so great. This second time around I wasn’t nearly as invested I’ve become a jaded reader and thought some parts got a bit too repetitive, and for that reason I don’t feel this has much reread value for me anymore. So unfortunately I’m unhauling The View From the Cheap Seats. I do still own the audiobook and could definitely foresee myself listening to Gaiman’s Make Good Art speech again though!

Title: The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
First date read: <2011
First rating: 4/5 stars
Second date read: April 10, 2020
Second rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Help is a historical fiction novel taking place in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s. We follow three perspectives, a wealthy young white woman named Skeeter, and two black maids named Aibileen and Minny. Skeeter is an aspiring writer, and she convinces Aibileen to help her write a novel detailing Aibileen and several other maids’ experiences being a black maid working for a white family in the South. With the prevalent racism going on in the state, Skeeter and Aibileen’s task is dangerous to say the least.

I don’t have as much to say about The Help as I did about other books. While I still enjoyed it the second time around I don’t think I’ll be rereading this story again. So many own-voices novels are coming out now that I’d rather be reading. I’m not saying I can’t appreciate a story if the author doesn’t have the backstory for it, I’m just saying I’d rather read an own-voices novel or from an author who puts in the time and effort to research perspectives different from their own, because there was a definite lack of authenticity in some of the voices of these characters.

Title: Alex, Approximately
Author: Jenn Bennett
First date read: April 11, 2017
First rating: 4.5/5 stars
Second date read: April 16, 2020
Second rating: 3.75/5 stars

Alex, Approximately follows 17-year-old Bailey (Mink) Rydell. She’s just moved across the country to live with her father. Shes a movie buff and has been chatting online quite a bit with a boy named Alex, and, unbeknownst to him, she just happens to be moving to the same town as him. Bailey proceeds to spend her summer working and flirting with an obnoxious boy named Porter, and trying to uncover Alex’s identity. 

I loved Alex, Approximately the first time I read it and it made me think Jenn Bennett was going to be a new favourite author. I was wrong, and I haven’t loved a Jenn Bennett novel since 😅. Bennett is fantastic at writing characters that feel so real, but lately her premises and their personalities haven’t worked out for me, so naturally I was hesitant to reread this one. I was pleasantly surprised to say that this is still a story I enjoy, though now I know I don’t like my contemporaries so dramatic. I don’t think I’ll ever reread this one, so it’s going in the unhaul pile, but I do still really like this book.

Final thoughts: This was my least successful (or most successful if we’re looking from a freeing-up-space-on-my-shelves perspective) round yet! Of all the books listed I’m only keeping one, Nice Try, Jane Sinner, it’s the title I would have guessed I’d like the most the second time around so it’s not surprising in that regard. I also do think titles I’ve read 10+ years ago tend to be pretty hit-or-miss. I’ve changed a lot as a reader from my teenage self. I actually did like all these books, I just don’t see myself reading almost all of them.

Have you had any interesting rereads lately? I’d love to know in the comments down below! 💗