Winter 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

Oh man, I haven’t done one of these in….forever. How do they even work again? lol

Well, even though I haven’t been reading a ton of books in the last two years or so, I’ve been keeping up with webcomics and other things, and so I wanted to talk about the various comics, manga, and books I’ve read this past winter!

So, here’s all the things I read between December-ish/January-March 2020!

Webtoons

A sexy supernatural story about being out on your own, finding your dream apartment and discovering that your new place is haunted by a handsome spectral stranger from another dimension. Sure, HE can’t see you and YOU can’t touch him, but who said every relationship starts out perfectly?

Let’s start off with this lovely gem: Freaking Romance by Snailords. Oh. Man. If you want hilarious content with beautiful artwork and a great story, check this series out! It’s supremely my sense of humor so I was DYING laughing at a lot of the things said, especially by the main female character, Zylith. Hil. Ar. I. Ous. But not only that, it’s a story involving time travel, different kinds of love, toxicity, life, college, and a whole bunch of stuff. Trust me, it’s worth the read. As of right now, it’s completed through season two, with season three on the way for later this year. Plenty of episodes to binge!

★★★★★

Edith is not your typical heroine. She struggles with her confidence, her morals, and life in general by not only holding herself to high standards, but her men as well. Enter two less-than-perfect men: one who may be the Prince Charming she’s been waiting for to deliver a fairy tale ending, the other a brash reality check who does NOT believe in happily-ever-after. What will Edith do? Will she sacrifice her standards? Or keep searching for that mythical white knight who may or may not exist in the first place? Funny, messy and sexy, Edith’s journey is relatable to anyone who’s ever left their heart on the battlefield of the dating world.

Edith by Swansgarden has a unique drawing style, which drew me into the story in the first place. Though I still need to continue it (as of writing this post I’m on episode 29), but what I’ve read so far has an interesting dynamic that I feel a lot of people can relate to. Not only does it explore a toxic and kind of manipulative relationship, but also depression, anxiety, bullying, and other strong topics. If you want an enticing read with sides you don’t know to choose from, check this webtoon out!

★★★☆☆

The Great Prophet Godo has a place for everyone in his perfect society… so long as you aren’t a failure. Itshou is living a diligent and sheltered life when she suddenly finds herself denounced and marked for exile. While her beliefs are shaken to their very core, a chance encounter with a childhood sweetheart derails Itshou’s banishment and puts her on the path to political uprising. Now facing down the same forces she once trusted to protect her, Itshou must untangle the web of lies at the heart of her city and unmask the Shadow Prophet.

As of writing this post, I’ve only read the first two chapters of The Shadow Prophet, BUT the art style and story? VERY gripping so far. It’s like a science fiction dystopia (which, by definition, dystopian stories are usually….science fiction… anyway) with hope sprinkled in it. Even though I’m only two chapters in, something happens at the end of chapter two that I saw coming, BUT I’M STILL MAD ABOUT IT. That’s how you know you have good characters and a good story building, haha! As of writing this post, there’s only 12 episodes out, but check it out!

No rating, as I haven’t read enough to gauge it yet.

What happens when your entire life is ruled by a prophecy – your future foretold by people you’ve never met, who died long before you were born. Such is the story of two young sea creatures. One believed to be a guiding light for his people, a Beacon who will lead them to a bright, prosperous future. The other is a teenage prince for who’s destiny is to KILL the Beacon so that HIS own people might thrive. When both reject the course set for them, it leads to a raucous adventure as big and unpredictable as the ocean itself – and a romance that nobody could have predicted.

LET ME JUST GUSH ABOUT CASTLE SWIMMER, YOU GUYS. This is a boys love series, and it’s just. So. CUTE. But it’s not the story I was expecting either, because though there were plenty of funny moments (some of the queens are literal memes), there was also an undercurrent of a more serious tone that involved the prophecy of the shark clan and just how the prophecy was supposed to go. It was actually really great, and had a few good messages in it to take away from it, so I highly recommend this. The second season just started recently, so go check it out!

★★★★★

Witness what the gods do…after dark. The friendships and the lies, the gossip and the wild parties, and of course, forbidden love. Because it turns out, the gods aren’t so different from us after all, especially when it comes to their problems. Stylish and immersive, this is one of mythology’s greatest stories — The Taking of Persephone — as it’s never been told before.

Lore Olympus is an ongoing series that I’ve been keeping up with since it left Canvas and got onto the big scene on Webtoon. I’ve done a review about it before, but let me just say that I still highly enjoy this series, and if you enjoy mythology and different takes on it, then definitely check this comic out! It’s got romance, humor, hardships, and more. The art and story are really good.

And just remember, the author does, in fact, state that she knows it’s not the exact retelling, but her retelling. So some of the characters might act differently than their actual god counterpart (such as Apollo). Tis just another story!

★★★★★

Getting crushed by your crush. Coming out to your parents. Learning that your sister is your biggest dating rival. High school sure does have its share of twists, turns and moments of high drama. To get through it all with your smile and sanity intact, you’re going to need some friends. Really good friends. Friends like Johnny, Mariel, Gaby and Martina who, one way or another, will find a way to get through their teenage years together.

I’ve talked about The Four of Them before, and it’s still one of my favorite long term series I’ve been keeping up with. It’s a great coming-of-age story about four (technically five) teens who are all going through various life things that many teens experience (love, sexual identity, school, etc). There’s supportive side characters and parents, and just a great story so far. Go check it out!

★★★★★

With a dead sister and 25 years to go on her soulmate timer, Anya decides to cryogenically sleep away her problems. Too bad she wakes up to an apocalypse full of them. Now stuck in a burnt out landscape full of killers, Anya must decide which she wants to keep: her heart or her head.

In the Bleak Midwinter is a newer series, and I’m so glad I found it because WOW is it good! Not only does each chapter have music that perfectly fits the scenario that the main character is going through (and just the overall tone of the chapter), but the artwork is also lovely, and the story’s plot seriously just drew me in. It’s science fiction, and like the synopsis saying, she wakes up 25 years later to…well, let’s just say: a difficult situation. Though there are only four chapters out as of the writing of this post, I highly recommend checking it out!

No rating as there’s not enough chapters for me to gauge, but it’s definitely a great read so far!

Ever since her parent’s funeral, Florette seems to only find solace in her flower shop and garden. Her love for nature is tested when she meets a tiny plant prince from a miniature plant world. With the “invaders” threatening his plant kingdom, Florette finds her calling to help save the world and its people. Could it be her botanist skills, or is there a bigger connection between Florette and the Kingdom of Soleil?

I’m not sure if I talked about Soleil before, but it’s SUCH a cute series stylistic-wise, but it also has a good plot that involves the world of plants, and how that world is dying due to the “invaders.” There’s magic in it, and I’m interested to see more of this because even though, at the point I’ve read to (chapter 18), I want to see more and how it not only affects the Kingdom of Soleil, but also how it’s going to affect the outside world. It’s a good series so far, so check it out if you’re interested! (And seriously, the cutest art style uwu)

★★★★☆

Dogged by pain and misfortune from the very beginning, Shin-Ae decides she wants nothing to do with people nor anything to do with romance. Although content with her unsocial, boring, loveless existence, her lifestyle is challenged after she ruins an unsuspecting strangers’ clothes.

I’ve definitely talked about I Love Yoo before, but I’m here to let you know that I’m still reading this series very faithfully. There’s plenty of drama in it (as it is…a drama…) and there’s even soft little moments of romance that have happened since I last talked about this series, as well as a whole slew of other things that have been happening. Oh man. But I’m still glad that the series is going because it was supposed to end at episode 100 originally, but clearly not so much as we’re up to 119 as of writing this post. If you want some drama, pretty boys, a love square(?), and some great funny moments, check out this webtoon!

★★★★★

After hearing the devastating news about her condition, Ayane Konno, 29 y/o who is at the height of her writing career, knew that she was fighting a losing battle for her life. Instead of being struck by sadness, she accepted her fate and decided to live out the remainder of her life doing the things that she loves and the experiences that she wishes to make memories of. She then met someone who would accompany her on her journey and paint the short story of her life with pastel-colored pages.

Pastel-Colored Pages is one I haven’t gotten too far into yet, but I wanted to mention it because the art style very much reads and looks like a manga would! I do think it goes in the comic style format of reading left to right, and not right to left, but the story so far is very good. A writer gets diagnosed with terminal cancer, and a young man who’s beaten up on the street ends up staying with her. I can’t give too much of my thoughts because I’ve only read the first two chapters so far, but check it out!

No rating as I haven’t read enough to gauge it yet.

In school, Tooru is known as “The Prince”. He’s smart, popular, and can have anyone he wants. So why is it that he can’t think of anyone but Yamamoto, the plainest, dullest guy in the entire school?

I’ve definitely talked about Plain Boy & Prince before, but it’s a boys love story with a lot of cheesy jokes and classic tropes that just make me chuckle a lot. I’m really enjoying it, though, as it brings me a lot of happiness. If you’re looking for some light-heartedness in these trying times, check it out!

★★★★☆

The King is back. With the defeat of his father, Wolfgang Goldenleonard has achieved all that he’s sought — the love of Shin Soohyuk, the power of the throne, and vengeance over the kingdom’s tyrannical ruler. But, Soohyuk, a “possession” of the former king, views their rocky relationship as one of war trophy and victor, despite Wolfgang showering him with affection. As uncertainty grows in the royal courts, forces beyond their control are preparing a second coup d’etat. Will these two be able to keep a grasp on the throne and on each other?

YA’LL. Do you KNOW how EXCITED I was when I discovered that my favorite comic series from a couple years ago is CONTINUING!? Pumped. Stoked. Hyped. King’s Maker: Triple Crown is the sequel to the first season of this comic in which we continue to follow Wolfgang and Shin, and now that Wolfgang is king, all of the troubles that come along with that.

This second season so far (which is on a different website than it used to be, by the way), has had a lot of dangers for the main protagonists, as well as some laughs with the side characters. I’m excited to continue and see what happens because there’s a lot of different sides to keep track of and try to figure out, and I love iiiiiit.

If you want to check out the first season of King’s Maker, here’s the link!

★★★★★

I THINK… those are all of the webcomics I want to talk about that I’ve been keeping up with. Whew. That was more than I thought, haha!

Manga

The meeting between Takane and Hana ends in an explosive manner, and Hana is convinced that she’ll never have to see that awful Takane again. But Takane actually seems interested in Hana! Exasperated by Takane’s immature attitude, yet amused and intrigued despite herself, Hana wonders if her hilarious rivalry with Takane just might lead to love!

Takane & Hana by Yuki Shiwasu is a story that involves an age-gap romance, so if you’re uncomfortable with that at all, then probably skip this one, but it’s a comedy romance that has a sassy main female protagonist, and a rough-cut rich male protagonist, and let me tell you, their dynamic? Perfectly hilarious. I read the first three volumes at the behest of my best friend, and I really enjoyed them. They’re very funny and I find myself wanting to continue the series eventually!

★★★★☆

“I’ve met you and my world changed in a heartbeat.” The pure love story of a hearing-impaired woman and a man who travels the world.

Yubisaki and Renren by Suu Morishita is a sweet comic with lovely artwork of a hearing-impaired woman who’s going to college, and of a stranger she meets one day on the train – who also goes to the same college. There’s a lot of sweet moments between them so far, as I’ve only read the first volume, but it’s very enjoyable. I can’t wait for more because I want to see where it goes. I’m not sure if I trust the male protagonist yet, and it looks like there will be a childhood romance aspect, as well as a side romance, but I’m interested to see what happens. AND the story include Japanese Sign Language, which is cool to see in manga form! I’m even learning a few signs for things like “eat” and “cute.” It’s very neat!

★★★★☆

That’s it for the manga! Not a lot, but that’s okay. More shall be read this year, I’m sure.

Books

I’ve done a full review of this book, but Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor was one I started many months ago, put it down, and picked back up and knew what was happening after not having read it for so long. It was such a great story with romance, fantasy elements, heartache and heartbreak, death, revenge and vengeance, hope, sorrow, and more. I love Laini Taylor’s writing so much, and I’m so glad I read this. I’m going to have to pick up the sequel sometime this year because that ending!

★★★★★

I’ve done a full review of this book, but once again, Elle Kennedy did a fantastic job with this steamy new adult book. It’s the third standalone in the Briar U arc, and we follow two new characters, Hunter and Demi, as they go through college, play hockey, deal with some relationship and rebound things, as well as a darker matter all together. An overall good story that I enjoyed.

★★★★☆

I’ve done a full review of this book, but Rick Riordan’s sequel in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series continued to exceed my expectations with the series, for sure! This is really the only middle grade series I’ve picked up (as of writing this post), and it’s my first read through of the series in general, so I’m absolutely loving it! It’s fun, action-packed, and I love seeing the characters grow older and the different struggles they have to face – not just by outside sources, but also within themselves. A great sequel and I can’t wait to continue!

★★★★☆


That’s it! That should be everything I’ve been reading and keeping up with these last few months. It’s crazy to think I’ve been reading as much as I have, and also how I’m picking up newer reads, too. I’ve missed this, truly. Webcomics are great (especially when you’re dealing with a lot of emotional and mental things and just need visual stimulation to help ease it), but I miss reading a book and allowing my imagination to take over.

I enjoy doing these quarterly wrap-ups, too, so expect more of these in the future!

Have you read any of these webcomics? Do any of the ones I listed interest you? What about the books, have you read any of them? What are your thoughts? What was your favorite story you read this winter? Let me know in the comments!

Strange the Dreamer | Book Review

Title: Strange the Dreamer
Series: Strange the Dreamer #1
Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: March 28, 2017
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
Pages: 528
Format: Hardcover

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep.

You know, I started reading this book what feels like forever ago, and I put it down not because I was bored with it or anything – quite the opposite! – but because I was in a reading slump of sorts. Now that I picked it back up and finished it over the last two or three days, I’m SO glad I did because WOW, was this a great book.

Laini Taylor never ceases to amaze me with her works. She is one of my favorite authors, and this book definitely showed me why. The writing, of course, was elegant and poetic in many different ways. She has a way of describing feeling and the human emotion in such depth that it makes you feel like you’re experiencing what that character experiences, rather than just sitting back and watching it happen.

Among those well-written words are the characters and the plot of the story, both of which I feel are both dynamic as they are complex. The story unfolds in a fantasy world (though it feels a lot like Earth), with gods who lived among the people, great creatures that could tear a person apart, and many mysteries that have yet to be revealed. The world itself felt very large, but also very small, given most of it is told from Lazlo’s point of view (as well as several others).

Besides that, the characters themselves had such varying histories behind them that I felt drawn to learn more about each one. Lazlo, an orphan made librarian, seemed like such a dreamer that he felt very naive and new to much of the world. I loved his love for stories and how he would often describe the world around him as something very poetic and beautiful.

Sarai felt so troubled, so tired, and I felt like I could feel how tired she was. She was holding onto old anger that she no longer held in her heart, but a curiosity that was sparked in kind thanks to Lazlo and his dreams.

The other godspawn, as they’re called – Minya, Ruby, Feral, and Sparrow – had all such distinct characteristics and personalities, and powers. They each felt real and had their own share of problems, worries, etc.

Among other characters, such as Eril-Fane and Azareen, who share horrible pasts due to the gods, there was one that stood out a lot that I felt frustrated with but also very intrigued by: Thyon Nero. He’s the son of a king and queen who were losing their kingdom, until one day, Thyon managed to turn things into gold. But he has a lot of secrets, and a bad personality, but I can’t say that I don’t want to see more of what he’s capable of.

The story to save Weep – the town whose name was stolen – is one of adventure and many questions and uncertainties. I could feel the sorrow of the city even in the small bits and glimmers we got through the other characters.

Honestly, this book was so wonderfully done. If you’re looking for a book with fantastical elements, deep emotions explored, dark pasts, and hopeful futures, then you’d enjoy this novel.

★★★★★

2020 Reading Goals & Challenges

We’re still quite early on in December, but I wanted to talk about some of my reading goals and challenges that I’m setting for myself in 2020 because, let’s be real, my reading the past few years has been a bit lackluster. So I really want to challenge myself to read novels again (and keep up with webcomics, of course, which has been 90% of what I’ve been reading the last few years).

Anyway, I’m also going to be talking about my year end goal for this year. It’s not much, but it’s something I’m going to hope to achieve before December is over.

So, let’s talk about them!

December 2019 Year End Goals

I have a couple of books I started reading this year, got about halfway through, and then put down and never picked up again, so I want to fix that lol (Not that I lost interest, per se, I’ve just had a very up and down mental and emotional year.)

So the books I want to complete by the end of December are:

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – I’m 55% of the way through as of this post, and I was loving it so much! I think I lost motivation because I ruined part of it on myself by looking ahead and just… I need to stop that lol

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – I’m 39.78% of the way through the book as of this post, and again, it’s not that I wasn’t enjoying it, it was that my reading mood shifted and I just couldn’t pick it up for a while.

Those are the two primary books I want to read by the end of this year. I know I can do it; I just have to set some time to do so.

Okay, so these are some books I know I’m going to finish this month:

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson – I have been listening to this audiobook on and off for… too damn long lol I have about 7.5 hours left to go as of this post, so I’m FINISHING IT DAMMIT. (The audiobook is 45 hours in length, so… it’s been a journey lol but a good one!) I love this book and can’t wait to start the next audibook – which is even longer than the first! 😀 *cry* And the third is even longer than the second… *sob* (It’s really fine. The story is fantastic so far!)

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson – I started this book on a whim a few days ago because I really just wanted to read something that wasn’t a webcomic (or anything else on my shelf, clearly), and started reading this on my kindle and haven’t stopped. I’m about half way through and really enjoying it because I didn’t realize it was faeries, and I love faerie stories, so it’s been a great read for me so far.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern – A few customers at my seasonal job (a bookstore) were telling me about how they or a relative/friend read this, and after reading the synopsis, I had to pick it up. WELL, I started and didn’t want to put it down, so. Definitely going to finish this book this month. It’s already magical and I’m only 24 pages into it as of writing this post.

I doubt I’ll have time to finish anything else this month, so I’ll leave other things for next year.

Speaking of, let’s talk about my goals for next year!

Reading Goals & Challenges for 2020

As I said earlier, I miss reading novels- truly, I do. And though I’ve been reading some here and there, I miss the days where I was reading 50 books in a year (about a book a week), and though I’m not aiming to hit that number again, I do want to try to read maybe half of that?

That was actually my goal for 2019, and, well… yeah, even if I read the five books above, I’d still be five short of that 25 book goal. But that’s fine! I’ll be a little disappointed in myself, but I’m not going to let it hinder me. I still read a decent amount of books – more than last year, for sure – and I’m proud of that! So, I’m going to keep that goal:

2020 Reading Goal: 25 books for the year

Now, let’s talk challenges. I want to seriously challenge myself in 2020 for a multitude of reasons, and so now I’m going to talk about some of the challenges I’m setting for myself this upcoming year:

Challenge 1: Any book on my TBR for that month MUST already exist on my shelves. That’s right. I’m going to try my best to not buy more books than I read this year. I want to seriously cut down my TBR since I’ve had some books for five years or so and haven’t touched them. (This may also include donating more books to my local library.) Of course, there will be some exceptions. But 99% of what I pick I want to already come from my shelves.

Challenge 2: Read at least three classics throughout the year. And by that, I still mean classics that are on my shelves. I mainly want to focus on Jane Austen, but I’ve got a few others I’d like to read at some point. Even though I find classics very difficult to get through, this is listed as a challenge for a reason.

Challenge 3: Complete as many reading prompts from the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge as I can. I wanted to participate in it this year, but I quickly fell off of the wagon, so I’m aiming to do as much as I can (and want) in 2020! They have such a fun list, so why not?

There’s no real reward or punishment that comes from completing or not completing these challenges other than the satisfaction of doing so. Maybe I should reward myself with chocolate or something…

Anyway, I think that’s it for my reading goals for next year! I’m not trying to push myself too hard, but rather ease myself back into reading. It’s been a rough few years mentally and emotionally, and I’ve only been recently starting to feel a little more human and less robotic. So I hope that 2020 brings a lot more happiness in the reading department as a result.

Let’s chat!

Tell me what your reading goals are for the new year! Are you planning on participating in any challenges? What are you most looking forward to next year (non-book related, if you want)? Let me know in the comments!