The Sprite And The Gardener by Rii Abrego and Joe Whitt Review {Graphic Novel}

The Sprite And The Gardener by Rii Abrego and Joe Whitt

Publisher: Oni Press

Release Date: May 11, 2021

Pages: 88

Artist & Writer: Rii Abrego & Joe Whitt (Writer)

Available through Bookshop

Summary: Long, long ago, sprites were the caretakers of gardens. Every flower was grown by their hand. But when humans appeared and began growing their own gardens, the sprites’ magical talents soon became a thing of the past. When Wisteria, an ambitious, kind-hearted sprite, starts to ask questions about the way things used to be, she’ll begin to unearth her long-lost talent of gardening. But her newly honed skills might not be the welcome surprise she intends them to be. 

[Requested a review copy via the publisher]

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: The Sprite And The Gardener is a “gentle fantasy” graphic novel that follows a kind-hearted sprite named Wisteria who rediscovers gardening and befriends a young girl as she continues to pursue this long-lost art! The unique artwork carries this quiet, slower paced atmospheric story through its whimsy and its latter focus on community!

Every single page of this story is filled with detailed artwork that gives it a life-like, but also very whimsical quality. The gentleness is further implied through the lighter, pastel color palette of oranges, pinks, yellows, greens, and so on. Throughout this graphic novel you’ll notice how it utilizes floral imagery that’s aesthetically beautiful to look at, whether its a withering garden, a peach tree with petals, a small patch of flowers, grasses, or a garden that’s yet to bloom.

Wisteria is new to Sylvan Trace and like many who settle in a strange, unfamiliar place, is struggling to connect with her fellow sprites, feeling unsure how to form a connection. Then its through her curious nature that she discovers a withering garden belonging to a girl named Elena. Tapping into the lost art, she secretly helps by using her floral magic to let the garden grow & thrive. But will she find the confidence to share her secret with the laid-back sprites?

There’s quite a bit of lore that gets introduced early on, establishing how sprites were once responsible as the sole caretakers of all flora, but now that humans tend to their own gardens, the art slowly went away. However, the sprites still mange to inhabit towns and cities. I liked how the novel explores the idea that while sprites that secluded in their own little oasis, they still find interest in foraging or visiting places where humans live.

The gentle quality of the story allows the foundational message of teamwork to come through, slowly throughout the story as Wisteria helps Elena tend to her garden. Couple alongside the slow pace and use of minimal action, its also expressing the heartfelt importance of friendship and beauty of restoring lost art through teamwork!

While the artwork does carry the story, it can feel like the plot itself is filled with this air of mystery and not enough clarity to make it seem fully cohesive. There’s a lot of wonderful elements introduced here no doubt, but its not developed enough where for me, it felt satisfying by the end. Side characters, while beautifully illustrated to present the floral motifs, don’t feel fleshed out enough into Wisteria’s story and the lore of the sprites honestly left me with questions out of pure curiosity: If the sprites are no longer needed what do they do in a typical day & how do they utilize their “mysterious, wondrous magic”? Where did Wisteria come from previously and what led to her softspoken, curious nature?

The worldbuilding is expanded on in a few ways by establishing on the first few pages how the sprites became important to humans, the general atmosphere of the story, and seeing the different backgrounds + locations that the sprites visit. Another interesting piece of info that lends itself to speculate the future of the world, is hearing the Sprites dream jobs if they were to work with plants again! Overall, I do like the whimsical, charming quality to the world.

Artwork is just so beautiful from the style to the colors, I also enjoyed the paneling which makes the world feel really big. The paneling gives it a “manga-esque” quality to where the panel boxes aren’t all the same, there’s a good variety and I like how certain panels layer onto the background settings, making everything come to life more. However that shouldn’t be too surprising because artist Rii was inspired by her love of shojo manga.

I think the story absolutely offers lots of interesting elements here, but to me it felt like it lacked because it only ended up presenting a more “bigger picture” kind of story, instead of further developing all the different layers it introduced. That coupled with the fact that the book did feel quite short, there could have been just a bit more development.

But, I definitely recommend this if you enjoyed ‘The Tea Dragon Society’ and are looking for another quiet, slower paced fantasy story.

The Sprite & The Gardener is a wonderfully illustrated graphic novel that tells a story of of friendship and teamwork! Despite selective exploration of this unique world, the well-utilized floral artwork, inspiring messages and charming storytelling, make this a pleasant slice of life fantasy read!

Spy X Family Vol. 4 by Tatsuya Endo {Manga Review}

Spy X Family Vol. 4 by Tatsuya Endo (Spy X Family #4)

Publisher: Viz Media

Release Date: March 2, 2021

Pages: 182

Summary: Master spy Twilight is the best at what he does when it comes to going undercover on dangerous missions in the name of a better world. But when he receives the ultimate impossible assignment—get married and have a kid—he may finally be in over his head!

The Forgers look into adding a dog to their family, but this is no easy task—especially when Twilight has to simultaneously foil an assassination plot against a foreign minister! The perpetrators plan to use specially trained dogs for the attack, but Twilight gets some unexpected help to stop these terrorists.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: One of the best SPY X FAMILY volumes yet, it blends the action, intrigue, and humor in such a way that its an ever-present reminder at how this is one of the most remarkable manga series out there right now! A spy, telepath, and assassin have adjusted living together, but what happens when a dog with an ability to see the future gets thrown into the mix? Chaos, laughs, and much more!

This was easily one of my favorite volumes of Endo’s series thus far, it highlights all the elements that make the series shine: Anya’s kid-like wonder and presence adds whole other layer of laughs to the storytelling, the SECRET IDENTITIES, the blend of action & espionage, but the most central piece tying it all together: Loid Forger and his mission! [But also Anya, Loid and Yor who are not only AMAZING characters, but work so well as a family]

When an assassination plot against a foreign minister threatens the peace yet again, Loid Forger aka “Twlight” is brought on board to bring an end to it, before its too late. This leads to uncovering a plan that involves highly trained, experimented attack dogs and a chase across the city! However, as the Forger’s also plan to buy a dog for Anya, who gets tangled up in the plot herself, will they find a way to save the day yet again?

If anything, as mentioned before, this Volume highlighted both the undeniable strengths and weaknesses of this series. The strength not only lies in the BRILLIANT characters and dynamics, but seeing how it all blends together to tell an entertaining, clever story. However for this volume anyways, I found the weakness for me lies with the politics of this world. Left in the background, while there are vague context of the political ties mentioned across each installment of the series and being completely understandable, in this fourth addition they are just left lingering here until the end.

While those elements of the worldbuilding are still very much explained, at times there’s this haziness to it as well where this is clearly a case of the characters completely outshining it here. In the end, I’m just left completely preoccupied with the fake (but oh so real) family dynamics, my FAVORITE spy, assassin, telepath shenanigans, seeing the way they work so PERFECTLY together and the new addition to the Forger family: a FLOOF named Bond!

Despite me not mentioning it much in my reviews, I truly love this series and am so connected to the characters and story here (5 stars in my heart). I think what always just leaves me hesitant to rate it higher than 4 is that the world/ setting is usually not given much depth beyond what’s relevant for the chapters. [I’m just always fascinated with worlds in fictional stories and with this setting feeling so big, it leaves me wanting to know MORE].

Anya is yet again the star of this volume as she feels an immediate connection to Bond, where they soon team up to save the world for the sake of Loid’s mission. Seeing her form a connection with Bond, both as experiment/test subjects and being able to understand each other through their abilities was such a beautifully explored thread of this book for sure! One of my favorite scenes of this volume though, is where Anya finds the room with the bomb and helps Loid by drawing a picture…no other books can top the HUMOR that this series has!! ƪ(˘⌣˘)ʃ

Also, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this across other volumes but I very much enjoy each family member going on their own side mission with the idea that they alone are protecting the family (or the world at large), it never fails to make me laugh. Overall, cannot wait to see how the Forger family grows and gets into more chaotic adventures with Bond as the newest addition!

Spy X Family Vol. 4 is a phenomenal continuation to the series! This a fantastic espionage comedy series unlike any other. Following a fake family consisting of a spy, telepath, assassin and now clairvoyant dog…the series can only get BETTER from here!

Satoko And Nada Vol. 4 by Yupechika {Manga Review}

Satoko And Nada Vol. 4 by Yupechika (Satoko & Nada #4)

Publisher: Seven Seas

Release Date: December 29, 2020

Pages: 128

Available Through Bookshop & The Book Depository

Summary: THE LAST DAYS ARE THE SWEETEST

It’s almost time for Satoko to head back to Japan! After everything she’s learned and all the beautiful friends she’s made, it’s hard to leave her new home-away-from-home. But with Nada at her side, her last days in the States are sure to be some of her best yet!

The final volume!

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Satoko And Nada is truly unlike any series I’ve ever read before! Both radiant and heartfelt in its storytelling, this finale continues to establish, till the very end, a true and authentic message in valuing the importance of friendship. This wholesome manga is genuinely heartwarming across each installment as the bittersweet finale wraps up the exchange trip of two Japanese and Saudi-Arabian women who become the best of friends while studying abroad!

If you’re new to my blog then you probably are not aware that this manga series quickly became an ALL-TIME FAVORITE when I read the first volume back in 2018 (wow that felt like a lifetime ago!)…reading each volume has truly made me feel like I’ve been a part of this journey alongside Satoko, Nada, and the rest of the crew during their studies in America. This is a series I will probably cherish forever because it’s a rare kind of story that makes it abundantly clear how impactful friendship can be no matter the distance or borders between people.

From its opening page where they welcoming the reader back, there was also this lingering sadness with the fact that their wholesome adventures would be wrapping up (YES there was quite a bit of sobbing as I reached the final chapter & WOW, the bonus chapter at the end really got me ). Satoko And Nada are truly such an iconic and inspiring duo I aspire to be, no matter the situation they are always there to support one another and this last installment is also a satisfying reminder at how the study abroad program has truly been life-changing for the both of them, despite their fears in the beginning.

As the final few days in the States are quickly approaching, Nada prepares to officially see her fiancé Abdullah in a formal family meeting (Shawfa) to make their engagement official (with Satoko by Nada’s side of course), while on the other hand, Satoko is readying herself to fly back home to Japan.

While there’s numerous 4-koma pages that could be talked about, I think what lingered with me that most was the feeling of closure on the horizon, yet seeing everyone (Kevin, Miracle, Rahman, Abdullah, and Pakeezah) interact throughout each act of the story. Though one of the best and probably stand-out moments of this ending was definitely seeing Satoko and Nada go one last major adventure together traveling to New York, Manhattan, and Canada, only for Satoko to mention on their way back to their apartment, being with Nada has left her wondering why she was even worried about studying abroad to begin with!

Despite the tear-shedding moments across this volume as the ladies are trying to say their goodbyes, the author cleverly uses the 4-koma style to input small humorous moments at the end. For example in “Change,” Satoko gives Nada her American coins that she won’t need anymore to where Nada says “I’ll be sure to think of you…as I buy this soda!” I just adored that scene so much because it was a continuous reminder to the reader that their friendship will always be filled with tons of joy and laughs despite the more emotional moments in between.

I’ll be honest, I was avoiding this volume for the longest time because there was just this crushing feeling at knowing it was coming to an end. However, what made the experience so joyful was how Volume 4 reflected on the previous ones in the smallest of ways making the reader realize just how much these two had grown during their studies: Satoko gained more confidence and in general both women pondered on the myriad of moments from the mundane to routine things like buying groceries or watching tv together, that made the experience meaningful! It was the smallest moments that reflected the power of their friendship. The epilogue in which we see Satoko and Nada once again, there’s a feeling of closure and utter joy in knowing their bond will never falter!!

My only wish is that there were more Satoko & Nada-focused scenes coupled with their storylines. I just wanted a few more adventures with them together, but it was great to see all the main characters together again. It was emotional seeing them wrap up their journey and there was this lingering part of me that truly wanted them to enjoy countless moments with one another. While someone like me could honestly read a million more volumes of their friendship together, it was also such as satisfying conclusion that also showed readers that till the very end, they continued to learn and embrace each other’s cultures.

Yupechika has truly crafted a series both phenomenal and worth your time. While being a comedic, slice of life manga about the day-to-day, its hilarious, uplifting and ultimately about FRIENDSHIP!

Satoko And Nada concludes with a terrific final volume! This series follows two Saudi-Arabian and Japanese women who become the best of friends and in a way, for the reader too! Heartwarming, humorous, and sweet, this is a genuinely fantastic manga that shows how truly impactful friendship can be!

Perfectly Parvin by Olivia Abtahi Review

Perfectly Parvin by Olivia Abtahi (Perfectly Parvin #1)

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers (Penguin Teen)

Release Date: May 18, 2021

Pages: 320

Available Through The Book Depository & Bookshop

Cover Designer: Jasmine Moshiri (Photography) & Samira Iravani

Summary: Parvin has just had her heart broken when she meets the cutest boy at her new high school, Matty Fumero–with an emphasis on fumero, because he might be the smoking hot cure to all of her boy troubles. If Parvin can get Matty to ask her to homecoming, she’s positive it will erase all the awful and embarrassing feelings He Who Will Not Be Named left her with after the summer. The only problem is Matty is definitely too cool for bassoon-playing, frizzy-haired, Cheeto-eating Parvin. Since being herself has not worked for her in the past (see aforementioned relationship), she decides that to be the girl who finally gets the guy, she should start acting like the women in her favorite rom-coms. Those girls aren’t loud, they certainly don’t cackle when they laugh, and they smile much more than they talk. Easy enough, right?

But as Parvin struggles through her parent-mandated Farsi lessons on the weekends, a budding friendship with a boy she can’t help but be her unfiltered self with, and dealing with the ramifications of the Muslim Ban on her family in Iran, she realizes that being herself might just be the perfect thing after all.

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

Perfectly Parvin was truly a marvelous, funny, and all-around SPECTACULAR YA debut that deserves more hype! Following 14-year-old Parvin Mohammadi, she’s a girl whose starting high school with a broken heart, so she decides to reinvent herself in order to get the ultimate homecoming date!

I’ve realized hyping up my favorite books on social media is a lot harder than it looks. Trying to capture the sheer brilliance of an author’s words and storytelling putting it into your own words (for me anyways) is always difficult. So perhaps my review can convince you to read this fantastic book! If you love a witty protagonist, plots about friendship, romance (of course), but ultimately a journey about accepting yourself as you are, then you MUST pick up Abtahi’s debut!

Iranian-American Parvin thinks everything is going well with her summer boyfriend Wesley, pulling pranks and hanging out at the beach…that is until, he breaks up with her for being “too much.” Now feeling devastated and hurt, Parvin’s gearing up to overcome this obstacle into freshman year by asking out her cute sophomore classmate, Matty Fumero, to homecoming! But when she decides to use romantic heroines from her favorite movies to accomplish her goal, will she accept her new “quiet” self and be willing to sacrifice the true Parvin to find love?

Throughout this journey, she’s not alone! She’s got her supportive best friends Ruth Song and Fabian Castor by her side at ever step of the way. However, when Parvin becomes consumed with her plans on winning over her crush, she doesn’t even realize she’s ignoring and missing the special moments with her bffs, leaving them to the side.

I mentioned this in my June TBR and am still thinking about the amazing friend group that Parvin has, despite its ups downs there’s never a moment when these friends aren’t supporting and sticking by one another!

In addition to her new start at James K. Polk High, she’s also attending Farsi classes and confronting her anxieties about not being “Iranian enough.” Despite her fears though, her parents and favorite aunt Sara especially, help her to juggle it all. Being 1/2 white and Iranian, Abtahi explores the deep bond and connection Parvin has with her parents as she uncovers more about what it means to be the “real Parvin,” who loves hot cheetos, pulling pranks and has a clever sense of humor. Being biracial as well, the story explores the hardship that Parvin’s mom endures as she realizes she can’t always help her daughter connect with her Iranian side, but assures that family (and friends) are always there to assist.

As the fall semester is well underway and prepping for homecoming, Parvin meets Amir in her Farsi class and slowly begins to realize she’s more herself around him. While I won’t spoil how the romantic storyline ends, both of boys are so well developed and I genuinely loved seeing the delightful Parvin navigate her feelings + personal journey with her oh so brilliant and witty humor amid her boy-focused goals (this book is SO funny, adored it being told through her POV). Her character felt incredibly relatable and real because Abtahi builds so much depth, giving Parvin a distinct voice that carries throughout the novel. She’s hilarious both introspectively and outward as well making tons of scenes, even with something as simple as school feel utterly hilarious and charming!

Abtahi built such a distinct voice to her characters, especially for our hilarious protagonist that it was one of my many favorite parts about this book! Parvin felt like such a real character and kind of like a friend too, I genuinely loved reading from her perspective (I’m also not usually a rereader, but this book is one I wouldn’t mind experiencing all over again <3). Despite the story focusing on Parvin’s search for love, friendship and family are just a big (if not bigger) pieces of her story that Abtahi takes her time to develop throughout the novel. She also covers big topics such as the Muslim ban and racism, creating a conversation that Parvin deeply explores through her internal pov.

The setting of Parvin’s Northern Virginia town, home, alongside her high school just come to life on the page. No matter what the setting was, Abtahi’s great writing built Parvin’s world with each and every chapter (though another FUN tidbit here is that the “chapters” are more split up by days / time which adds a unique flow to the story).

This novel also features an incredibly inclusive cast where main characters include: Parvin whose 1/2 Iranian, Fabian is Mexican-American who is gay, Ruth is Korean-American who identifies as pan, Matty is Argentinian-American, and the novel of course follows an Iranian-American family / culture.

Luckily this is the first of a duology, so there’s many more hilarious hijinks with Parvin to come and I could not be more thrilled! The ending, though feels like it does wrap up just a bit too quickly, just has the reader feel joy and hope for Parvin who grows so much over the course of the story. All in all there’s so much love I have for these characters, setting, impactful messages, storytelling, each of which come to life through Parvin’s eyes. Abtahi has crafted a genuine treasure of a book in the span of just 300+ pages leaving me eager to know where Parvin’s high school adventure is headed next!

Perfectly Parvin is a true gem in 2021 YA Contemporary you don’t want to miss! Hilarious hijinks, great storytelling, and lots of meaningful messages make this a fantastic debut that promises more friendship, family, and uplifting Parvin adventures to come!

Those Not-So-Sweet Boys Vol. 1 by Yoko Nogiri {Manga Review}

Those Not-So-Sweet Boys Vol. 1 by Yoko Nogiri (TNSSB #1)

Publisher: Kodansha Comics

Release Date: February 16, 2021

Pages: 208

Available Through The Book Depository & Bookshop

Summary: A DEBT OWED

Midori drops her wallet on her first day of high school, but her new classmate Ichijo swoops in to help. She wants to thank him, but he’s part of a tight-knit trio and none of them are ever in class! Rumor has it that they all got expelled for acting up, and studious Midori’s actually at risk of expulsion, too… In order to help support her family, she has a part-time job, which is against the school rules. When the chairman of the school board catches her leaving work, he says he’ll let it go—but only if she’s up to the task of bringing the three boys back to school. Well, why not? It’ll be a piece of cake…right?

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Having recently finished Yoko Nogiri’s previous series Love In Focus, I was incredibly eager to see what her new series would be about! As someone who doesn’t read a whole lot of shojo titles, Nogiri makes unique stories that are perfect for a beginner like me.

So, Those Not-So-Sweet Boys is the newest series from Nogiri that follows high school student Midori who after dropping her wallet, befriends a tight-knit group of guys who never show up to class and end up getting into trouble. But when the school’s chairman figures out she has a job outside of school, he makes her a deal…get them back to class for upcoming exams and activities and he’ll help her get an alternative job approved by the school.

The only question is can she figure out why Rei Ichijo, Chihiro Goshima, & Yuki Nojo-Ieiri are so determined to stay away from school to figure out a solution in time?

There’s a lot of page-time given to developing Midori and the boys backstories which not only builds their character, but also makes it easy to see that they are not who they appear to be, which adds an element of mystery to the story as you learn more about them and learn why they feel so disconnected from school.

I like how the manga establishes the family ties / dynamics when it comes to the guys lives outside of school, especially since they come from wealthy families. Midori realizes she has to rebuild their reputation and to her surprise, she realizes how happy she is hanging out with Rei, Chihiro, Yuki and their adorable corgi! Since they were closed off to her in the beginning, its nice to see them build a solid friendship and offer Midori an unexpected hand along the way when she needs help.

While the romance can seem quite obvious as its building with Midori and Rei, the way the plot is unfolding is what’s really keeping me interested. This first volume really builds the relationships / friendship between the characters that makes Nogiri’s shojo manga stand out to me every time.

The artwork has a unique style to it, especially when it comes out through character designs. The paneling on each page never feels repetitive or under-utilized either which is a plus.

I think my biggest issue is that although the story has an interesting concept and the wonder behind where the cast’s stories will go is what’s keeping me invested, YET there’s no actual strong connection I feel for the cast in general. There was nothing too memorable (for me at least) that specifically stands out about their characters. There were times that the writing could be a bit repetitive at points and plain. So for me, it came across as a bit bland in the execution.

But I found this to be a lot of fun and am very interested to see where Midori and the boys next adventure will take them! Also, in true Yoko Nogiri fashion despite how cliche it may be, the ending always leaves on a surprising note!

Those Not-So-Sweet Boys Vol. 1 is an engaging, unique shojo, being the newest series from Yoko Nogiri! The artwork and plot especially will hold your interest, with the story giving lots of focus to the characters. Although the characters feel rather plain, it’s the page-turning story that will leave you wondering where the story is headed!

I’m also shouting a fellow book blogger review! I recommend reading Joanna at The Geekish Brunette‘s Review if you’re looking for a post that dives right into the characters and what to expect from them.

Oculta by Maya Motayne Review

Oculta by Maya Motayne (The Nocturna Trilogy #2)

Publisher: Balzer + Bray (Epic Reads)

Release Date: April 6, 2021

Pages: 448

Available Through The Book Depository & Bookshop

Cover Artist: Mark van Leeuwen

Summary: After joining forces to save Castallan from an ancient magical evil, Alfie and Finn haven’t seen each other in months. Alfie is finally ready to take on the mantle of crown prince. His first task: preparing for the peace talks with Castallan’s former colonizers, the nation of Englass.

But when the summit coincides with the reemergence of Los Toros, the mysterious syndicate of assassins responsible for Alfie’s brother’s death, and Finn’s unexpected installation as one of the four Thief Lords of Castallan, the two must reunite to discover the hidden link between these events—before it’s too late. 

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

Oculta succeeds as a sequel in so many ways! Not only does it dive deep into the idea of legacy, but also balances it’s page-turning story among the politics and intrigue, while wasting no time to elaborate even more on the unique magic system. But the foundation of the story really is about Alfie and Finn’s own personal journeys, including their own relationship throughout this intense continuation.

If you didn’t know, Nocturna is such a special YA for me because its one of the first Latine epic fantasy series I’d ever read! Seeing Latinx (specifically Dominican) culture represented in this genre means so much to me, also as an aspiring writer myself. I fell in love with Alfie and Finn’s journey, which although ends on a bittersweet note I without a doubt, was eagerly awaiting their reunion. Now 2 years later, the sequel is finally here and wow are there a myriad of thoughts to share!

Set about 4 months after the end of Nocturna, Prince Alfie is taking on more responsibility as the future king and attempting to atone for his mistakes and the effects Sombra’s magic left on many of Castallan’s people. Feeling a guilt weigh heavy on him, he attempts to live up to his brother’ Dez’s legacy as he’s also grappling with his own dilemma: trying to reconnect with his magic again as it’s slowly begun to reject him.

On the other hand, Face-changing thief Finn has been traveling and spending time away from San Cristobal. But when a mysterious organization attacks her, she quickly finds her way back to Castallan to warn Alfie. She also finds herself with a new position as Thief Lord, bringing her both annoyance and help along the way when Los Toros resurface, threatening the international Peace Summit between Castallan and Englass. Soon, Alfie and Finn are once again reunited to solve the case before its too late, especially as Los Toros begin assassinating and instilling fear across San Cristobal!

This is a sequel that not only captivated me as it showed Motayne’s strength as a writer as she tied together so many elements to her fantasy world, but also showed how those layers build on each other in such impactful ways. One of those ways is how the Peace Summit allows for us to get an even deeper look into the setting we were just introduced to in book one. Not just the Dominican-inspired setting, but the magic system, the inner politics of the royals and Castallans’ people, each of these and much more are taken to new heights through the brilliant plotting and structure of the novel.

The plot is such a page-turner! As Alfie and Finn are attempting to piece together the mystery I loved how the story unfolded, how personal each POV felt and just being immersed in this magical world again! The writing shows the humor, secrecy, adventure, and intrigue that build across every chapter. This book is in one word: Cinematic. Not once did I ever feel pulled out of the story, each roadblock or question our trio encounters leads from one adventure to the next as they try to figure out why Los Toros are so preoccupied with the summit. It not delves into themes of legacy, family, but also destiny in a way and

Having followed Alfie and Finn on their journey through Nocturna to now seeing that they’ve spent time apart up until their reunion (which had me sobbing), we understand they are now cemented into the roles they’ve been growing into their whole lives. However, despite their duties pulling them in opposite directions, there’s something keeping them together and while I won’t spoil, the way Motayne establishes their dynamic (slowburn romance) and GROWTH is so exceptionally crafted. There’s a roughness to our witty thief Finn and she learns throughout this novel to confront her feelings, as does Alfie. Alfie and Finn deserve the biggest hugs after this book tbh…one of the highlights was seeing them face their vulnerabilities along the way.

The magic of Propios expands a bit as well, which is super fun and for me, was unexpected. I like how Motayne showed the magic system evolve overtime through the use of Finn’s face-changing abilities. Showing the evolution to her own powers, in a way, symbolized her struggle with trying to keep Ignacio’s ghost out of her head while attempting to avoid going down a similar path, the more her magic grew. Finn’s arc is truly about her overcoming trauma and yet she’s still her snarky, comedic self, I loved that being a thing at every moment of her journey.

Now we cannot forget Luka, Alfie’s cousin who is undergoing his own arc in this story as well. Feeling a deep sense of survivor’s guilt following Sombra’s attacks, he has his own secrets too, but despite it he and Alfie learn to build their dynamic even more, counting on each other to be by their side. The addition of his POV was such a brilliant move for this story! We already know so much about him, but I liked getting into the more hidden depths of his character.

Aside from characters, the other biggest strength of this novel lies in the worldbuilding. Because we are already familiar with the city’s rings, the various quests around San Cristobal cements you into the setting that much more because we as readers are transported to different pockets of the city, making it that much more immersive. With the Summit well underway as Alfie is balancing the various events throughout the week while also traveling across the city with Finn and Luka, there’s lots of opportunity for us to dig deeper into the setting and see it come to life. As Finn tries to find more clues as well when the Toros assassinations begin too, we see how both sides paint a clearer picture to the social divide between the city’s rings.

What Oculta also does which is unique for YA Fantasy is how it tackles conversation around colonization and the consequences of it since its established in the first book that Castallan was colonized in the past. With Castallan’s magic being influenced by language, it shows the important stakes of the summit since Englass still uses a caste system to block certain people from their magic based on status. The discussions around colonization, even systematic oppression are given a lot of focus, especially seen from Alfie’s POV as he and his family try to establish conversation with the Englass royals.

There’s also quite a few new characters too from the introduction of Rodrigo, Emeraude, and Elian, Thief Lords just like Finn. Including the Englass royals such as Prince Marsden, Princess Vesper and a servant named James who befriends Luka and the others along the way. There’s lots of new characters and *secrets along the way!

Some of my favorite scenes include the various events of the Summit (it was such a creative plot point), honestly any scene with Alfie and Finn together, the Alfie, Finn, and Luka trio, the adventures around the city, basically the whole plot. This sequel was SO FANTASTIC! Not only is it the world, but its our main characters, their vibrant personalities and meaningful journeys that make this book an impactful read from beginning to end. I fell in love with these characters even more, if that’s even possible?? The ending is just, WOW I need book 3 how will I wait??

The only reason I’m being so vague in this review is because its a sequel and I think its best to experience this amazing read for yourself. But let me just say this is a phenomenal continuation to the series, so if you love these characters and the world, the magic, and adventure, it gets even better here! It ends as a great sequel should, leaving you wanting to know what happens next.

Oculta succeeds as a political, character-driven sequel in the Nocturna trilogy! With its fantastic storytelling, further development to the world and magic system, in addition to the heart-wrenching journeys of our cast. Filled to the brim with intrigue, adventure, captivating plot threads that will leave you wanting to know more, this is a truly brilliant read!

Keep It Together, Keiko Carter by Debbi Michiko Florence Review

Keep It Together, Keiko Carter by Debbi Michiko Florence

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Release Date: May 5, 2020

Pages: 293

Available Through The Book Depository & Bookshop

Cover Designer: Stephanie Yang & Michael Frost (Photographer)

Summary: Seventh grade is supposed to be a game changer. And Keiko thinks she’s got it covered, especially with Audrey and Jenna by her side to shop for a new look, pick out a prime lunch spot, and even hit up that cute new bubble tea place after school. Her trio is ready to tackle life as they always have…together.

But when Audrey decides they need boyfriends before Fall Ball, it looks like things may be changing in all the wrong ways. Jenna is sick of caving in to Audrey’s demands, and soon Keiko’s besties are barely talking, leaving her caught in the middle. While she’s been dreaming about triple-dates, first kisses, and a boy she really shouldn’t have a crush on, the friendship she’s always thought was rock-solid is beginning to crumble.

Keiko feels pulled in two directions. Should she try to help her friends-even if it means losing one of them-or follow her heart? When it comes to flirting, friendships, and fallouts, how is Keiko supposed to keep it all together?

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Keep It Together, Keiko Carter is a great novel with a charming voice! Keiko is tackling so much throughout 7th grade like friendship, family, and love. Despite her fear of change, at its core her story is one about balancing all the things in life while also finding a way to achieve her own happiness. Michiko Florence delivers a delightful middle grade!

Back with another review and quite different than my usual Young Adult reads, I’m so glad I picked this book up earlier in May! This read was definitely everything I needed right now and wow, did I LOVE this. Amid all the busy events in my own life, Keiko’s story was so relatable to me especially with her goal of trying to make sure everything stayed the same, while also meeting her own personal expectations amid all the new changes in her life too.

Keiko is starting 7th grade and she’s ready to tackle what comes her way, as long as she has her friends by her side. Keiko has always been close with Audrey (growing up together, even with Audrey’s brother Connor too) and once her best friend Jenna returns after her summer trip in Texas, the trio is finally reunited. But when Audrey insists they try to find boyfriends before the Fall Ball while Jenna grows tired of following Audrey’s plans all the time, the trio runs into some obstacles along the way. Keiko’s mom is busy with work, her little sister Macy is keeping secrets, while Keiko is trying to please everyone and make sure they are happy. So can she figure it all out?

Jenna is realizing she may have a boyfriend of her own, Elliot, which developed during the summer and Audrey is not happy. Jenna has found her hobby in newspaper, leaving Keiko in the middle. Then Keiko crushes on a new student named Gregor, she hopes at least one of her goals for the new year will work out. But, as Keiko realizes she can rekindle her friendship with Audrey’s older brother Connor, it messes things up while also being the additional support she needs.

Michiko Florence’s writing is what captivated me! Keiko’s voice just leaps off the page and I loved following her journey. There’s lots of chocolate (Keiko’s favorite snack) and humor to her character too. Chocolate represented nice symbolism for the balance Keiko is trying to find during her new year at school and I love how it anchored one of the many important messages of the story.

Audrey’s insistence of her plan for 7th grade alongside her own personal flaws and at times selfishness, leaves Keiko feeling like she has to choose between her friends. Unsure of how to get the group together again. However, along the way she learns she can confide in Connor. She realizes she likes playing basketball and can talk about everything she can’t with her friends. Audrey is not happy, but along the way seeing their relationship grow was so nice and seeing Keiko growth too was very well done!

Character development is such a major element of this novel, which was so fantastic. Not only are all the characters realistic and relatable, but its easy to see that everyone has their own problems in life and its not always one person’s responsibility to deal with it all. At this novel’s core, Keiko’s learning that people grow and change, as she herself realizes that this change isn’t always bad either despite the difficulties in the beginning.

Being an older sister, Keiko is worried about Macy in the beginning, but when she uncovers her plans for being in theatre, their dynamic grows even more, it was wonderful. Despite Keiko’s sadness that her mother was very busy with work, at least she could become even closes with her sister. This novel really is all about the relationships we have in life and the way each of them turned out in the end felt realistic. If anything one that felt difficult to read was Audrey and Keiko’s friendship, they share so much history and this was a major conflict in the story leading up to the end. But despite the conflict, Keiko learns more about prioritizing her own happiness.

Keiko who is biracial, half-Japanese-American and white embraces her culture and I loved how this element was explored throughout the novel. Her best friend Jenna Sakai is Japanese-American.

There was nothing I particularly dislike about this novel, it was so fantastic! Obviously though as an older reader, there were hints and plot points I could predict early on, but the journey getting there was meaningful and full of heart. This was truly a fantastic read!

Keep It Together, Keiko Carter is a phenomenal middle grade novel that tackles friendship, love, family, life, and the concept of change! With such well-developed themes, great characters, heartfelt messages, and a fantastic main character, this is a sweet, charming middle grade! A must read!

Hot British Boyfriend by Kristy Boyce Review

Hot British Boyfriend by Kristy Boyce

Publisher: Harper Teen

Release Date: February 9, 2021

Pages: 336

Available Through The Book Depository & Bookshop

Cover Artist: Jacqueline Li and Chris Kwon (designer)

Summary: After a horrifying public rejection by her crush, Ellie Nichols does what any girl would do: she flees the country. To be more precise, she joins her high school’s study abroad trip to England. While most of her classmates are there to take honors courses and pad their college applications, Ellie is on a quest to rebuild her reputation and self-confidence. And nothing is more of a confidence booster than getting a hot British boyfriend.

When Ellie meets Will, a gorgeous and charming Brit, she vows to avoid making the same mistakes as she did with the last guy she liked. Which is why she strikes up a bargain with Dev, an overachieving classmate who she’s never clicked with, but who does seem to know a lot about the things Will is interested in—if he helps her win over her crush, then she’ll help him win over his.

But even as Ellie embarks on a whirlwind romance, one that takes her on adventures to some of England’s most beautiful places, she still needs to figure out if this is actually the answer to all her problems…and whether the perfect boyfriend is actually the perfect boy for her.

My Rating: ★★★☆☆ ¾

My Thoughts: Hot British Boyfriend is a fun, entertaining YA romcom filled with adventure, academia, and friendship! Ellie joins a study abroad program in England after a humiliating video goes viral. But, along the way she learns to boost her self-confidence and discovers what she’s truly passionate about. A light-hearted, fluffy debut!

Before going into my review I will say that despite my 3-star rating, I liked this debut a lot because I could see what the author was trying to do in terms of Ellie’s development throughout the book and it surprised me by putting a focus on friendship for about 50% of the story!

So, Ellie has recently moved to Washington DC with her mother and is anxious of what the new year will bring now that her friend Crystal is joining a study abroad program. However, she’s convinced her crush Andy is going to ask her to be his girlfriend at a party. After misreading the situation and humiliating herself, she can no longer face her classmates. Then, when a spot opens up for Waterford’s study abroad program at Emberton Manor in England, Ellie takes the opportunity to step away for a bit and also gain some self-confidence along the way.

As she adjusts to her new surroundings for the semester, higher-level classes, and her studious roommate Sage, Ellie quickly finds herself hatching a plan sure to give her the confidence she’s looking for, by finding a British boyfriend!

After meeting Will and his best friend Hank at a flea market, she believes in order to reinvent herself during her time there, the only thing she can do is slowly lie to her boyfriend, which in turn leads her to not be fully honest with him about her interests like unicorns and fairy gardens. There’s this underlying anxiety she feels that he may not embrace the real her, which propels her emotional arc. There’s an authenticity to this as Boyce portrayed both Ellie’s anxiety and lack of confidence consistently to emphasize her development throughout the story.

However as Ellie begins to hang out with Will more, she can’t help but feel a pull towards the new friends she’s made. Even with the help of her classmate Dev, they team up to help each other win over their crushes/loves which adds a fun layer to their dynamic. But as Ellie begins to realize Dev is really the one she can be honest with, will she make the right choice and follow her heart?

This is a nice YA Contemporary. Boyce builds in the wanderlust / adventure and academic atmospheres very well through Ellie’s perspective. From the descriptions of the locations they visit, classes, and lots more, the setting becomes such an integral part of how the character dynamics are explored. While the summary doesn’t hint at this too much either, there is a lot of focus + development on friendship and Ellie’s new friend group. Established early on, Ellie only had one friend (now ex) and has moved a lot in the past, so she’s never really had many.

Seeing how Ellie connects more and grows in ways she never realized because of her friends like Sage who inspires her to be more studious and appreciate the uniqueness of her hobbies, Dev for how they can be so honest with each other, even Huan for just being a supportive friend…these dynamics were such strong layers and I appreciated how Boyce gave this theme such an important role in Ellie’s story.

Now in England, she’s given the opportunity to meet new people and classmates she never really bonded with before. Also I know friendship is a big part of the story here, but her moments with Dev were very adorable and the slow development of their relationship kept me wondering what would happen next.

A relatable element and also interesting observation of this novel was how everyone around Ellie seems to have some sort of life plan heading into senior year, but she is still learning to accept her hobbies (gardening, building fairy houses, etc.) and learning to embrace them, while at the same time figuring out what her own academic future holds.

There’s a relatability to that feeling that consistently builds Ellie’s character as well while she’s trying to figure out what she wants to do after high school. Not many will know, but I appreciated how Boyce normalized that idea and showcased the importance of using your passions and hobbies to guide you.

Another observation I had was my personal interpretation into some “privilege” that certain characters had. Where Ellie’s classmates like Dev, Sage, and Huan are there to prepare themselves for college/uni, there’s many scenes that remind her they are there to focus on their studies. While Ellie struggles and does improve along the way, little by little, she does mostly spend that time to think more about her love life, while leaving her studies at the back of her mind. Then with Will, he comes from a rather privileged family and he is eager to break away from his family’s business to start his own, however he doesn’t have much of a solid plan and does have advantages of not needing to worry about schooling (or finances) for the time being. This isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing but an interesting observation that stuck with me as I read.

Overall I think what left my rating is left at 3.75 stars despite how much I liked it, was the more I realized seeing Ellie’s relationship progress with Will throughout the book not only felt too fast, but also rather hollow? Whenever she would meet up with him, I would think ‘what is even the point?’ He’s nice and all, but there’s literally nothing interesting about his character the more I read. He was also at points being unintentionally self-centered and was always focused on his own issues not really listening to Ellie that much anyways (in my opinion). Then coupled with the fact that Ellie and Dev has a WAY better dynamic, there was this superficial/pointless feeling to her relationship with Will. Then it was only about waiting about 100 pages left in the book where Ellie could finally realize that too.

However, above all I personally loved seeing the focus on Ellie’s growth as a character in figuring out what she wants to do with school and her life after high school was a nice arc to explore. Despite being the point of the book, I still think her romance with Will, surprisingly, bogged it all down. While this novel was just an okay, fun read for me personally, wouldn’t mind checking out the author’s 2nd book in this “series” (which she recently announced in March). Despite my overall feelings on it, what will stick with me was the personal journey that Ellie took and the focus on friendship!

Hot British Boyfriend is a fluffy, light YA romcom that despite some flaws, puts a focus on friendship, boosting self-confidence, and discovering ones passions!

Beyond The Clouds Vol. 1 by Nicke {Manga Review}

Beyond The Clouds Vol. 1 by Nicke (BTC #1)

Publisher: Kodansha Comics

Release Date: February 11, 2020

Pages: 212

Available Through The Book Depository and Bookshop

Summary: Living beneath the haze of Yellow Town, young Theo has never seen the stars. He works as a mechanic and spends his off hours digging through the town’s trash heap for abandoned treasures. He’s always had the soul of a dreamer, but he’s given up on living the kind of fantastical life he’s read about in books.

Then, one day, he finds an amnesiac, injured girl with wings, and everything changes. Theo’s talents help fix her wing, and their quest will take them beyond the clouds, farther than either could have imagined.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Beyond The Clouds is a fantastical, steampunk manga following Theo, a young mechanic, yearning for adventure, as he embarks on a journey after finding an amnesiac girl with wings. Through artwork that evokes the style of watercolor and delightful storytelling, this is truly a magical start to a new series!

Some hangs heavy over the dream-like city in Beyond The Clouds and young Theo grew up learning that there was a particular kind of magic in books, filled with fantastical stories that could allow him to go anywhere — and within him, that yearning for adventure is still there. As a mechanic at Chikuwa’s repair shop, he always makes time to inspect the junkyard and discover treasures. However, what he isn’t expecting is to find a girl with wings who has no memory of who she is and where she’s from, thus the adventure begins.

As Theo and Mia begin their delightful friendship, he always makes it a point to mention that Mia’s sorrow and loneliness is something he knows all too well. So he takes in upon himself to help erase her fears with the power of a good story. Their friendship was an absolute highlight of this first installment and although there is more to the dynamic I hope gets explored, Theo’s kind heart helps both him and Mia in ways I wasn’t expecting.

Through its slice-of-life atmosphere Nicke pulls you into Theo’s daily routine as a mechanic, running errands, digging for lost treasures, and his adept skills to help Mia adjust to having lost a wing and her memory. Mia and Theo’s friendship is the foundation for intense scenes woven throughout volume 1 from the explanation of Mia’s unique shadow powers and Theo’s quest to find a special medicine for her later on. I think those emotions propel the story in ways so unexpected, but much appreciated.

When I first discovered this manga through the GORGEOUS cover, it’s natural to assume the story within will be equally whimsical, with an imaginative, dream-like quality to it, but what I got was something much more. While this volume is a really broad stroke introducing an intricate, steampunk world it also leaves you with a sense of nostalgia for stories that’ve left you feeling that any fantastical world is possible.

Nicke’s artwork is presented with a light, sketchy quality to it leaving readers enchanted at the scope of the world we’ve barely scratched the surface of. No matter what page you turn to, there’s a feeling of wonder that just never leaves you, the more you follow the adorable duo. The detailed panel frames and artwork that exist outside the confines of the panel boxing was also reminiscent of Kamome Shirahama’s style, which is one of my favorites. The cover also reflects the sheer beauty of the watercolor style in a rainbow of colors.

Mixing the soft, sketch-like art and underlying whimsy of the plot conjures the feeling of reading a beloved fairytale, or reminiscing on a childhood story. The way Nicke wondrously succeeds in leaving readers with this indescribable feeling of nostalgia and wonder is in one word, magical.

The world is established with much detailed about the creatures (anthros and hybrids), but also an even more magical forest outside of Yellow Town filled with fairies and unique plants. The backgrounds really cement you into the steampunk/fairytale setting as well.

While all these elements work so incredibly well to establish a rich world, it felt like there wasn’t enough time to explore or take it in. We are sort of thrust into the setting which is a beautiful backdrop for sure that I would have loved to learn more about from the customs, locations, and world as a whole. Driven by its plot, I do hope to discover more about the world and all the minute details established here, in future volumes.

Beyond The Clouds is a quiet, magical story filled with stunning artwork, unique characters, while also establishing a compelling, spellbinding world through a plot that will leave readers with a sense of nostalgia, whimsy, and adventure!

Witch Hat Atelier Vol. 7 by Kamome Shirahama {Manga Review}

Witch Hat Atelier Vol. 7 by Kamome Shirahama (Witch Hat Atelier #7)

Publisher: Kodansha Comics

Release Date: February 2, 2021

Pages: 176

Available Through The Book Depository and Bookshop

Summary: As the new trial comes to an end, one of Coco’s rewards from Beldaruit the Wise is the story of Qifrey’s past and how he came to desire the mysteries of magic. Feeling a connection with her own desire to save her mother, Coco departs for the source of all answers: the Tower Of Tomes. But it is a perilous journey to make on her own, and the secrets held within could sway even the most virtuous of witches…

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Witch Hat Atelier is a profound masterpiece in the making and each volume is proof of it! With breathtaking artwork, thoughtful messages, and a compelling story delving deeper into my favorite character Qifrey, Shirahama has crafted something truly special! Volume 7 reveals that the true magic lies not just within the epic fantasy world, but it’s deeply profound cast of characters. This series captivates with every installment!

Shirahama’s Witch Hat has swiftly cemented itself as a beloved series in my eyes, no matter what adventure befalls Coco, her fellow apprentices, alongside master’s Qifrey and Olruggio. Witch Hat Atelier reads like a love letter to good fantasy stories― the whimsy, and magic continue within each volume.

Volume 7 is everything you want from a sequel or continuation, the poetic exploration of characters pasts, heroes facing trials, plus a myriad of twists and secrets that leave you unable to put the book down for a second.

It opens up on a deeply metaphorical backstory to who could probably be best described as my “comfort character” Qifrey and his best friend Olruggio when they were young apprentice magicians discussing opposing elements: fire and water. Olruggio teaches him there is power in embracing what scares you and knowing those fears can help you to rest easier.

Now back in the present at the Great Hall after Qifrey has healed, the two childhood friends delve more into Qifrey’s mysterious past involving his memories, his (missing) eye, and much more. While elsewhere, Coco learns more about master Qifrey from Beldaruit, leaving her fearful of the future if her current magic can’t provide the answers she’s looking for.

Filled with nothing but dread and uneasiness, Coco is convinced she can find what she needs to save her mother in the Tower Of Tomes and runs away. However, at the same time Olruggio continues his much needed chat which reveals more to Qifrey’s obsession with locating the Brimmed Caps and how it relates to Coco.

As the group reunites and a monster close by, Qifrey reminds her how far she’s come and there is always a solution. Being the true teacher he is, he offers his young apprentice a choice…allowing her to choose whether to pursue the cryptic tower or return home, instead she chooses a different way leading her straight towards Qifrey. That was easily one of the most heartfelt moments in this surprisingly dark installment because, Coco is eager to learn more about magic and this scene is a reminder of how she wants Qifrey at her side, every step of the way, enthusiastic to keep on improving her skills no matter how long it takes. What she’s learned, the friends she’s made, and the adventures still ahead keep her anchored, allowing her to shake off any temptation to use dark magic, even if seems like the quicker solution.

With Beldaruit being Qifrey’s former master, he also learns how much he’s grown into a teacher and wonders whether he will be wise to not tear down the home he’s built for himself and his apprentices.

The last chapter though, WOW it kept me on edge. Never has Shirahama delved so deeply into the intricate past of a character like Qifrey in previous volumes. It was filled with so much pain, tension, surprise…I still cannot believe what I just read. Although I adore all of the characters in this series, Qifrey has a special place in my heart. Learning more about the lengths he’s willing to go to to protect his past and defend his future (both for himself, friends, and students) you feel for him, but also left so shaken.

Reading Qifrey’s past, being buried alive by certain magicians, losing his memories, and his former role in the rise of dark magic, Shirahama handles his story with so much care, but isn’t afraid to show us the sinister thread he still faithfully clings to making him one intriguing character I cannot wait to learn more about.

At its core though, this volume reflected on such profound themes like that of family, home, and where home truly is. As the Great Witch Beldaruit mentioned, “the mighty Silverwood, it is said, it only takes root in places it knows it will find true comfort…” (105). Much like Qifrey, the atelier is his home and despite his insistence on finding the Brimmed Caps, Beldaruit hopes he will make the wise choice in not tearing it all down.

There’s even a deeply explored concept that’s made evidently clear in this volume, that magic can be seen as both a kind of hope and despair. Coco is naïve and enthusiastic to learn everything there is to know, where Qifrey has experienced the more hostile sides of magic, both ideas co-exist and are fundamental to the superb magic system that’s been introduced thus far.

As with each volume, the story is elevated by the expert artwork. The varying shapes of panels guide the pace of the action scenes so perfectly. The specific focus to backgrounds and set details, heighten the focus of scenes as well. For example on page 21, when Beldaruit reflects on finding a younger Qifrey being buried, the page specifically splits him from the magicians with the lid of a casket acting as a divide between the scenes. Or another one of my favorite types of paneling involves Shirahama’s use of a scene as she breaks it out of a traditional panel square, it adds dimension and focus to the specific elements, which is always fantastic.

Despite Volume 7 most likely tied with 1 as my favorite in the series thus far, I did have an interesting critique once I reread this in preparation of my review. Olruggio’s side chapter in the Hall as he’s tasked with helping a royal in preparation for a banquet, in my opinion, would have fit much better in a different volume. Although it delves into a lot of great elements like introducing me to Heihart and Jujy, history surrounding the pairing of monarchs and witches, plus details into the dynamic of masters and apprentices, I believe this chapter ultimately broke up the pacing of the Qifrey-focused story.

Above all though, I truly enjoyed how there was such a character-focus to this volume, intriguing backstory, new characters as well. However, while there are quite a few dark moments in this volume, it left on a hopeful note hinting at a fun new adventure awaiting the witches of the atelier.

Witch Hat Atelier Vol. 7 is a stellar installment in Shirahama’s brilliant series! From the detailed artwork, charming cast of characters, and compelling story that gets even more interesting, this series is something truly special. This series slowly unravels the deep mysteries of a phenomenal character. Each volume, as always, leaves you eager to see what happens next!