Review - Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya

Friday, March 20, 2015

Fruits Basket Vol. 1
By Natsuki Takaya
Release Date: February 10th, 2004
Genre: Manga
Source: Purchased


So, back when I was in high school, I went through a few misguided and rocky relationships, one of which occurred when I was a sophomore. While it wasn’t a particularly nasty break-up, the relationship itself needed quite a bit of work (we went to separate schools and lived in separate towns and this was before either of us could drive) and we eventually decided to it was best to call it off. 

But one great thing I got out of it (aside from my first real kiss) was an introduction to manga. 

Before this time, I’d never picked up manga and wasn’t particularly interested in doing so. At this time, I was into contemporary romance and historicals, so reading a book that consisted mostly of pictures? And had to be read backwards? Meh, I wasn’t too interested. 

That was, until, my ex told me about one he thought I would like – a girly manga called Fruits Basket. Fruits Basket centers around an orphan girl, Tohru Honda, who – while her grandfather is renovating his home – lives in a tent. That is until the Sohmas discover her on their land and invite her to live with them. Little does she know, though, that the Sohmas are afflicted with a curse. A curse that, when they are hugged by the opposite sex, they transform into a Chinese Zodian animal.

So, my interest was piqued. I went out to the store and bought my first graphic novel ever. And I swear to God I devoured that thing in thirty minutes. I instantly fell in love with Takaya’s creative premise for a series, as well as her humor and beautiful prose. You wouldn’t think that a manga could invoke such emotion, but she manages to do so with ease. Before too long, I fell in love with Tohru, Yuki, Kyo and all the other Sohmas. I found myself shipping certain characters and practically crying at certain parts in the series. 

So it goes without saying that I begged and begged my mother to go out and buy the next book in the series right after I finished one. She grudgingly humored my fascination, complaining all the while about a ten dollar “comic”, but before long I had all the books in my possession and completely fell in love with the world Takaya created. I bought Fruits Basket wall scrolls, Fruits Basket plushies, Fruits Basket DVDs, calendars and even had a Fruits Basket cake for my sixteenth birthday. I was crazy obsessed – and I still have all those mementos to this day! I even roleplayed it over the internet with friends from all over the world – many of which I’ve known for several years now.

Not too long ago, I decided to pick up the series again. It had been close to ten years since I last read it and I figured I was well overdue for a reintroduction. So, I dusted off the first volume and cracked it open again. 

The crucial question here: does it hold up? 

And my answer: you better believe it does. 
It’s just as magical and romantic as I remember and it was great getting to know the characters again, at least how they were at the beginning of the series, before they had a chance to grow and change. And while I’ve read a few other mangas since being introduced to them, this will always remain my favorite and have a special place in my heart. If you love fluff and romance, as well as manga, this is a great series to look into!  

Top Ten - Books on My Spring TBR List

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Top Ten is the weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, in which we showcase our top ten books in a certain category. This week, we're supposed to list the top ten books that are on our Spring To-Be-Read list. And, considering I have a ton of books I hope to get to during the spring/summer, I'll have to choose pretty carefully. And, so, here's the ten books that I hope to get my hands on and read during the next few months. And, as always, they are in no particular order.

Number Ten: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

I hadn't really expected to read this so soon. It was on my list, but not at the top, but while browsing the library a couple weeks ago, I saw it and thought - why not? So, this will be the first book I read, since I only have it a limited time. I'm interested to see how her "adult" books differ from her YA. 

Number Nine: A Forest Divided by Erin Hunter

Of course this list wouldn't be complete without the seasonal Warriors book. I only have about three weeks more to wait before it comes out and you can bet it'll be in my hands come April! I can't wait to see how the cats deal with the formation of the clans!

Number Eight: Burning Kingdoms by Lauren DeStefano

People seems to be pretty split on whether or not they like this author or this series. I, personally, love DeStefano's emotional and beautiful writing and - for some strange reason - I'm really intrigued by the premise of this new series. So much so that I pre-ordered this one, which I got in the mail just a few days ago. Can't wait to crack it open!

Number Seven: The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

I really loved the Unearthy series that Hand wrote, so I was pretty stoked to hear she had a new book coming out and it'll be interesting to see how she writes contemporary YA rather than paranormal. I've been hearing good things so far, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed!
Number Six: Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry

It's no secret that I love Katie McGarry and you bet I'm excited for her new Thunder Road series, which will be a whopping 500 pages! And - better yet - if you pre-order it, we get the full-length Abby story, Chasing Impossible, completely free! Excuse me while I fangirl....

Number Five: Revenge, Ice Cream, and other Things Best Served Cold by Katie Finn

I was lucky enough to get an ARC of the fist book in this series, and - while it was a little predictable - it was a fun, summery read complete with romance and drama. I couldn't get an ARC of this one (sad face) but I'm eager to return to the Hamptons and see what happens next.
Number Four: Joyride by Anna Banks

I got an ARC of this book and it will be my first introduction with Anna Banks - I'm pretty excited. I met her at a signing about a year ago and she said this book was loosely based off a time when she actually took her mother's car for a joyride and ended up crossing the state line and, unwittingly, committing grand theft auto! I can't wait to read it!

Number Three: Summer Knight by Jim Butcher

I'm slowly making my way through the Harry Dresden series and I'm ready to return to see what Harry does next - and what better book for spring/summer than one titled Summer Knight? I need to find out what happens next!

Number Two: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

I'm a lover of Oliver, so anything she writes automatically goes on the TBR list. I preordered this one as well, and I just got it in the mail. This will probably be the next book I pick up and I can't wait! =D

Number One: A Court of Thorns and Roses

I mean, holy hell - look at that cover? >.> 
But in all seriousness, I'm uber excited about this book. While I liked Throne of Glass, it didn't hold that spark for me, so I'm desperately hoping that this one will be the book that makes me fall in love with Maas. I can't wait until May!

So what about you? What books are you looking forward to reading the next few months? Feel free to tell me in the comments or even link me to your own TTT. =)

Review - Fairest by Marissa Meyer

Sunday, March 15, 2015

By Marissa Meyer
Release Date: January 27th, 2015
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Purchased

 Warning: Contains Mild Spoilers

I have a bit of a love hate relationship with this book. I mostly hate it because it pretty much took the place of Winter and delayed the release of the final book of the Lunar Chronicles by ten months or so. And seeing as I was spoiled with an ARC of Cress, it’s been well over a year since I read a new Meyer book and I desperately need Winter in my hands. Like, now. Like, yesterday. >.>

To be fair, I’m sure it’s not Fairest’s fault that Winter was pushed back. But seeing as it was published first, it’s easy to blame it and so that’s where I shall direct my anger, haha. Despite all my preconceived notions about the book though, I picked Fairest up and inhaled it in, like, two hours. Even though it’s only 220 pages long, it still has the depth and flair of the Meyer books I’ve come to love. And while it doesn’t do much to progress the story of the first three novels, this book gives us great insight on how the antagonist, the evil Lunar Queen Levana, came to be the villain we know. 

In this short novel, we get to see Levana as a young woman growing up under the rule of her older sister, Channary. Even at the tender age of fifteen, she’s incredibly smart and perceptive. In fact, at the beginning of the book, she actually seems like a normal teenager. She's dealing with anger and jealousy concerning her sister as well as a secret crush on one of the castle guards, Sir Evret.  Levana longs to have him, but there’s only one small problem – his very pregnant wife, Solstice. 

When Evret’s wife dies during childbirth, Levana sees it as fate. She “seduces” Evret with her Lunar magic and, after meddling with his mind and cornering him into marriage, Levana quickly realizes that love isn’t exactly what she thought it was. She longs to be everything that Evret wants, but no matter how much she tries, she’ll never compare to the wife that he lost. And so, she continues to use her powers against him, confident that he will eventually grow to love her. Even his daughter, Winter, cries every time she holds her. 

Channary ends up having a child of her own, a little girl named Selene, who – much to Levana’s chagrin – is the successor to the Lunar throne. Levana is convinced that her sister is ruining their planet, so, when Levana ends up as temporary queen after Channary dies, she finally gets her chance to rule the country she loves so dearly. And the only thing keeping her from keeping the position she loves so dearly is a small child - her niece. Convinced that no one could be a better queen than herself, Levana forms an evil plan to make sure that she will remain on the throne. 

What I found particularly satisfying about this book was how relatable Levana was at the beginning of the story. I never thought I would find someone I hate as much as Levana relatable. At the beginning of the book, I feel for her, with how she’s used and abused by her sister as well as how she’s hopelessly in love with someone who could never love her. As the book progressed, the reader can easily see how she slowly descended into madness and the reasons, however fallible, she took to get the things she desired most. In fact, after having read this book, I feel as if I understand Levana on an entirely different level. That certainly doesn’t mean I like her, but I certainly understand the reasons and circumstances that caused her to be the person she is. It was also interesting to see Winter and Selene involved in the book; I felt as if I had a greater understanding of their early history and family by reading this little addition to the series. 

In my book, it takes a great author to take a character that’s so profoundly unloved by readers and turn her into something resembling a human being. Kudos, Ms. Meyer!

And can we talk about the first three chapters of Winter that are in the back of the book? Squee! I’m even more excited to read it now! So, until November, I guess this book did a great job of tiding me over. For that, I give it 5/5.