Mini-Reviews: Witch Hat Atelier, Vol. 1 + A Pho Love Story

Can you believe that I’ve already met my reading goal for the year? I didn’t read a ton this month, but overall this year has been kind of amazing. I’ve had so many five-star reads that I know I am going to struggle later in the year picking my very favorites. I’m so excited to bring you two five-star reviews for this mini-reviews post. Both of these brought me so much joy and I hope if they aren’t on your TBR, you add them.

Title: Witch Hat Atelier, #1 Author: Kamome Shirahama Series: Witch Hat Atelier, #1 Pages: 208 Publisher: Kodansha Comics Release Date: April 2nd 2019

"In a world where everyone takes wonders like magic spells and dragons for granted, Coco is a girl with a simple dream: She wants to be a witch. But everybody knows magicians are born, not made, and Coco was not born with a gift for magic. Resigned to her un-magical life, Coco is about to give up on her dream to become a witch…until the day she meets Qifrey, a mysterious, traveling magician. After secretly seeing Qifrey perform magic in a way she’s never seen before, Coco soon learns what everybody “knows” might not be the truth, and discovers that her magical dream may not be as far away as it may seem..."

Witch Hat Atelier, Vol. 1 by Kamome Shirahama radiates joy and charm. From the very first page, you are transported to a world of magic that is both mysterious and mesmerizing. Young Coco has always been fascinated by magic and once dreamed of becoming a Witch until she learned that witches can only be born. Coco’s enthusiasm is infectious and it is so easy to fall in love with her character. She is kind and curious, but also resilient and creative. The world of magic is like an unopened box that Coco cannot resist opening, but the knowledge she gains has consequences. One of my favorite aspects of this manga is the art. Every illustration is so lively with scenes practically leaping off its pages. Its beautiful and dynamic illustrations captured movement in both an elegant and powerful way, sweeping reading off their feet and into a world like no other. Kamome Shirahama’s Witch Hat Atelier, Vol. 1 is a must for anyone looking for a manga with a heroine whose trouble-making you won’t mind following.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
(5/5)


Title: A Pho Love Story Author: Loan Le Series: N/A Pages: 402 Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers Release Date: February 9th 2021

TW: racism, grief, anxiety

"If Bao Nguyen had to describe himself, he’d say he was a rock. Steady and strong, but not particularly interesting. His grades are average, his social status unremarkable. He works at his parents’ pho restaurant, and even there, he is his parents’ fifth favorite employee. Not ideal. If Linh Mai had to describe herself, she’d say she was a firecracker. Stable when unlit, but full of potential for joy and fire. She loves art and dreams pursuing a career in it. The only problem? Her parents rely on her in ways they’re not willing to admit, including working practically full-time at her family’s pho restaurant. For years, the Mais and the Nguyens have been at odds, having owned competing, neighboring pho restaurants. Bao and Linh, who’ve avoided each other for most of their lives, both suspect that the feud stems from feelings much deeper than friendly competition. But then a chance encounter brings Linh and Bao in the same vicinity despite their best efforts and sparks fly, leading them both to wonder what took so long for them to connect. But then, of course, they immediately remember. Can Linh and Bao find love in the midst of feuding families and complicated histories? When Dimple Met Rishi meets Ugly Delicious in this funny, smart romantic comedy, in which two Vietnamese-American teens fall in love and must navigate their newfound relationship amid their families’ age-old feud about their competing, neighboring restaurants."

Loan Le delivers an expertly paced YA contemporary with A Pho Love Story, about the children of rival Vietnamese restaurants falling in love. Bao Nguyen and Linh Mai have kept careful distance from one another over the years. They may not know why their families hate each other but they know to stay away from the other. Until one night when one of them is in desperate need and the other offers to lend a hand. Boa and Linh quickly discover how much they enjoy each other’s company. But when their tentative new friendship might turn into something romantic, they both must decide if it’s worth the risk. The more time they spend together, the more both of them want to figure out the truth behind the rift between their families, but the truth could drive them apart for good. Linh has been an artist for as long as she can remember, but painting isn’t what her parents have imagined for her when it comes to her future. Bao is feeling a bit directionless. Unlike Linh’s parents, Bao’s just wants him to find one thing he can be passionate about. Bao has never really found an avenue to express himself. When an opportunity to work more on his school newspaper comes along, Bao finds a knack for writing. I loved both Bao and Lihn’s journeys as they discovered more about themselves, their voices, and what they want out of life. A Pho Love Story is an example of how well dual POVs can work in a romance. Not only did it add insight into each character’s life, it didn’t leave readers wondering what the other character was thinking during their interactions. But it also allowed both leads to breathe and feel like real, independent characters. Loan Le’s A Pho Love Story is at its core a celebration of Vietnamese culture and bridging gaps between families and generations. And the cute love story is just the cherry on top.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
(5/5)

2022 Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

Friends, where has 2022 gone? This summer heat is killing me. I already want it to be winter, but that would mean the end of the year and I am definitely not ready for that. I am barely ready for this mid-year book freak out tag. I read more books this first half of the year than I’ve read in a long time. I am currently on schedule to read more books than I’ve read in like ten years (also I’ve been on Goodreads for this long?!). That is if I don’t end up in a terrible slump. I’ve been flirting with periods of slumpiness though. This first reading half of the year has been largely defined by comfort reads. I haven’t picked up much fantasy, but I have been devouring romance and manga. Both of which bring me such joy and I suppose that is why I’ve had so much fun reading this year. I am hoping to pick up more fantasy in this latter part of the year as well as horror. I’ve been neglecting both genres and I just feel like I am missing out on so many books as a result. With all that behind said, let’s take a look at reads from the first half of the year. Covers below are linked to Goodreads.

For those unfamiliar, this tag was created many years ago by booktubers Read Like Wildfire and Earl Grey Books.

1. Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2022?

I am actually on schedule to have more five-star reads than like any other year. I’ve picked up so many amazing reads, it’s almost overwhelming. But if I am going to choose one book for this question, I am going with Sonora Reyes’s The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School. This book felt in many ways like a cathartic read. It was heartbreaking and emotional, but had some of the sweetest moments between characters. I really became attatched to Yami and her brother, Cesar, especially.

2. Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far in 2022?

I enjoyed Sonali Dev’s Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors, but Recipe for Persuasion, the second book in this romance series felt like it was written especially for me. Although P&P remains my favorite Jane Austen novel, I don’t think anything beats a great Persuasion retelling.

3. New Release You Haven’t Read Yet, But Want To?

Uh…there are so many! I don’t even like to think about all the books I’ve bought this year that I haven’t gotten to. One book high on my TBR is Claribel A. Ortega’s Witchlings. I adored Ghost Squad and have been really looking forward to this second middle grade novel by them. I just know it’s going to be incredibly enchanting.

4. Most Anticipated Release For Second Half of 2022?

Surprisingly there aren’t a ton of books I’m looking forward to the second half of the year. Hopefully means that I won’t be spending an absurd amount of money on books (This is all a lie. This is future Alicia editing this and past Alicia didn’t know what she was talking about. She has a ton of books on her TBR for the second half of 2022). One book I am really looking forward is Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s The Daughter of Doctor Moreau. I know this is a surprise to no one. I actually have an eARC of this one and will be picking it up in the next week or two (about to start this one tonight).

5. Biggest Disappointment?

I had a few lackluster reads, but none that really stand out to me as big disappointments. They just ended up being pretty average and I can see other people enjoying them more than me, so…

6. Biggest Surprise?

I honestly feel like a little kid discovering reading for the first time when it comes to manga. There are just so many stories out there that I have yet to discover and I am having a blast doing so. That being said, Kamome Shirahama’s Witch Hat Atelier has absolutely put a spell on me. I am utterly enthralled by it and can’t wait to continue the series.

7. Favorite New Author?

I am going to highlight two romance novelists that I picked up for the first time this year. I absolutely loved Denise William’s The Fastest Way to Fall and Alexis Daria’s You Had Me at Hola. Both of these books were just so good and they will probably not be the only books I pick up from these authors this year.

8. Newest Fictional Crush?

Claire Kann has become one of my favorite authors. Her recent release, The Romantic Agenda, was such a delight. My crush on the leading man, Fox, can only be rivaled by my love for the leading lady, Joy.

9. Newest Favorite Character?

Tatsuya Endo’s Spy x Family has been such a fun reading experience, so I am going to go with the entire Forger family for this question. Loid, Anya, and Yor all have their individual charms, but together they make such an elegant family.

10. Book That Made You Cry?

I probably cried while reading about half a dozen books this year, but one that stands out is Sonora Reyes’s The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School. I mentioned that reading it felt cathartic and sometimes this includes tears.

11. Book That Made You Happy?

Can a book that made you feel pain also make you happy? The answer is an astounding yes. Where the Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass is such a gem of a novel and it made me realize how enjoyable Persuasion retellings can be.

12. Favorite Book To Movie Adaptation You Saw This Year?

The Ms. Marvel adaptation is making me so happy. I am having a blast watching this one and it’s kind of making me want to revisit the comics.

13. Favorite Review You’ve Written This Year?

Lol, I’ve been so bad at writing reviews this year. I don’t know what it is, but hopefully I can do better in the latter part of the year. My review of Recipe for Persuasion didn’t completely suck, so I guess I’ll go with that one. You can read it here.

14. Most Beautiful Book You Bought So Far This Year?

Sue Lynn Tan’s Daughter of the Moon Goddess has one of the most beautiful book covers I’ve ever seen. I haven’t read it yet, but I have no doubt it’s just as lovely as the cover.

 

15. What Books Do You Need To Read By The End of The Year?

I already mentioned one ARC I need to get to, but I also have Francesca Padilla’s What’s Coming to Me on my ARC list. This one comes out in August, so I better get to it soon. I am also hoping to shake off this fantasy slump so I can get to Rebecca Roanhorse’s Fevered Star. Though it does scare me a little bit.

What’s your favorite book of 2022 so far? What book are you most looking forward to reading before the end of the year? Leave me a link in the comments to your own Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag post, so I can visit.

Top Ten Tuesday: Summer 2022 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and is currently being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is Books On My Summer 2022 To-Read List.” I was originally going to list summer 2022 releases I’m excited for for this topic, but after peeking next week’s topic (most anticipated releases for the second half of the year), I decide to scrap the idea as these lists would end up being very similar. So I guess I am actually going to do a TBR list. I don’t make many of these so always take them with a grain of salt. If I get to 50% of them, I’ll call it a success, especially since I’ve been an very moody reader this year. Most of these will be books on my shelf since I am guilty of neglecting so many of them. Covers linked to Goodreads.

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1. Witch Hat Atelier, Vol. 2 & 3 by Kamome Shirahama – I’m not sure how far I want to get with this manga this summer, but these two volumes are definitely on my read list since I do own them.

2. Witchlings by Claribel A. Ortega – I need a little magic in my life this summer, so I will be reaching for this one in the near future.

3. Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan – Crossing my fingers I can shake off this fantasy slump, so I can finally pick up some amazing titles that have been sitting on my shelf for months.

4. The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – I do have a few summer releases on my TBR including this one. I actually have an eARC, so will be getting to it very soon.

5. A Proposal They Can’t Refuse by Natalie Caña – Ironically, I couldn’t refuse this one and I am so ready for the swoons.

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6. Bad Witch Burning by Jessica Lewis – I think I’ve put this one off for too long. It has so many elements that I am sure to love.

7. My Mechancal Romance by Alexene Farol Follmuth – Summer calls for all the sweet, romantic contemporaries.

8. Love Times Infinity by Lane Clarke – I won an ARC of this one from Goodreads (an enormously rare occurrence!) and am hoping to get to it before it comes out but if not, I will definitely be getting to it sometimes in the summer.

9. She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan – Starting to feel real guilty about having this one on my shelf for so long. It’s the fantasy slump, I’m telling you!

10. What’s Coming to Me to Francesca Padilla – I am so excited to pick up this debut. I have an eARC, so it will definitely be one I pick up this summer.

Have you read any of these or are you planning to? Let me know in the comments and be sure to leave me a link to your own TTT post, so I can visit!

Can’t-Wait Wednesday: Godslayers by Zoe Hana Mikuta

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa @ Wishful Endings where bloggers share which upcoming releases they’re most looking forward to. Join us every Wednesday and watch your TBR list multiply.

Zoe Hana Mikuta’s Gearbreakers was one of my favorite 2021 reads. Sapphic romance + mechas + found family made it an unforgettable read. I am highly anticipating the sequel, Godslayers, which concludes this action-packed sci-fi duology. If this series isn’t on your radar, what are you doing? Pick it up now! Cover is linked to Goodreads.

 alt=Title: Godslayers
Author: Zoe Hana Mikuta
Series: Gearbreakers, #2
Pages: 416
Publisher: Feiwel Friends
Publication Date: June 28, 2022

      “The only way to kill a god is from the inside…
      The Gearbreakers struck a devastating blow against Godolia on Heavensday, but the cost of victory has been steep. Months later, the few rebels who’ve managed to escape the tyrannical empire’s bloody retribution have fled to the mountains, hunted by the last Zenith–Godolia’s only surviving leader.
      Eris has been held prisoner since the attack on the capital city, which almost killed her. And she begins to wish it had when she discovers Sona–the girl she loves, the girl she would tear down cities for–also survived, only to be captured and Corrupted by the Zenith. The cybernetic brainwashing that Sona has forcibly undergone now has her believing herself a loyal soldier for Godolia, and Eris’ mortal enemy.
      With the rebellion shattered and Godolia moving forward with an insidious plan to begin inducting Badlands children into a new Windup Pilot program, the odds have never been more stacked against the Gearbreakers. Their last hope for victory will depend on whether Eris and Sona can somehow find their way back to each other from opposite sides of a war…”

Are you participating in Can’t-Wait Wednesday or Waiting on Wednesday? Is this book on your TBR? Be sure to leave a link to your post in the comments and I’ll visit!