It’s been a while since I’ve done a review, and whenever this happens, I feel as if I’ve forgotten how to write them. That’s how I feel now. It’s partly due to not having written one in a while and also having forgotten some details about the books I read. But, since my plan with this blog is to chat about every book I read, I’d like to post something about the books I read during the last months of 2021.
Those last months were a very busy, very stressful time for me, which is why I’ve delayed chatting about the books until now. Things got so overwhelming that I didn’t blog as much as I usually did and had a bout of reading slumpiness that lasted until… a few weeks ago. It was probably my longest reading slump. But now that I really feel back to my old self, I’d like to catch up on the MANY blogging and reading things I wanted to do since the slump hit — starting with these reviews.
I read all of these back in September last year, so I’ve forgotten much.
Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger
Keeper of the Lost Cities, book 1
In this middle grade fantasy, we meet Sophie Foster, a 12-year-old, telepathic girl who is often treated as an outcast — even by her own family. However, one day she sees a boy with very interesting blue eyes at the museum and he helps her to realize that she does not belong in the human world. He tells her that she’s an elf and must leave her family to protect them.
Of course, she does so and journeys to the land of elves to live. And then a bunch of stuff happens that’s a combination of “things I forgot” and “stuff that’d be spoilers,” so I’ll just stop my recap here. I’ll just mention that there’s a magic school, a mystery about Sophie’s past, and a kidnapping. (Goodreads)
What did I think of this? That’s what I wondered when I sat down to do this review because my mind initially drew a blank when I thought about this story. As such, I don’t think it’s memorable. Luckily, I jotted down some thoughts after completing the book.
One my notes was that it’s “enjoyable but has some probs.” I no longer know for sure what those problems were, but I think I enjoyed the adventure and certainly was curious about Sophie’s background. Actually, what stuck with me was Sophie’s neighbor, Mr. Forkle (forgot his name and had to look it up). The spoilery stuff revealed about him made me complete the book wanting to know more about his story.
I also remember that I didn’t like Sophie and thought she was a little annoying. I forgot why. Another note I made was that the story perpetuates the “blonde hair, blue eye beauty.” If I recall correctly, I think the majority of elves have blonde hair and blue eyes and Sophie is the oddball who has blonde hair and brown eyes. All of them are beautiful, so Sophie is the most beautiful in her human family (who don’t share such traits). It was just a point I made. I can’t remember what reaction I had to this point while reading, but right now, I don’t care.
I was also unimpressed by the magic school and didn’t like the elvish world much, unfortunately.
The story was okay. I had some problems with it, obviously, but it was an enjoyable read, and I’m glad for that because now I understand why it’s so popular among the kids who visit the bookstore I worked at. However, since it didn’t stick with me and since I wasn’t feeling the protagonist, I don’t think I’ll continue with the series and will most likely unhaul my copy.
I’d still recommend it since it’s fun and enjoyable.
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
Tea Dragon, book 3
We’re back with the original crew — Greta, Minette, Hesekiel, Erik — in this one and even have some visitors from the second book — Rinn and Aedhan.
What I remember is that Greta is prepping to impress a renown blacksmith so she can get an apprenticeship with him, and Minette is… having some sort of spiritual adventure or something. (Goodreads)
Obviously I wasn’t invested in Minette’s storyline in this one. I was either confused about what she was doing or totally forgot whatever it was. I just remember that it probably involved her tracking down her god — the being her people worship… I think. Totally forgot.
I also forgot what Rinn and Aedhan popped in to do. I think it involves Minette and that’s why I’m blanking. Apparently my mind wasn’t feeling Minette and decided to take her out of my memory of the story.
What I do remember is Greta toiling away to create something that will impress the blacksmith master bull and also trying to connect with Ginseng, a tea dragon that’s still sad about losing its previous owner. I guess I connected more with Greta, who was either working hard or trying to be supportive of those she cares about, because I was doing the similar things at time that I read the book.
Anyway, Tea Dragon Tapestry was another wonderful read for me (despite not remembering anything about Minette). It’s sweet, it’s cute, and it has tea and dragons, two of my favorite things. I also liked that the master blacksmith bull dude realizes that although his apprentice will learn from him, he could also learn from his apprentice. I like it when an expert acknowledges that there’s more to learn, even from those they teach. And, as always, I appreciate the tips at the end of the story about caring for tea dragons — in case I should ever get one.
It’s cute as always and gives off sweet, comfy vibes that makes me want to curl up on the couch with a blanket and a cup of tea and reread this book. The colors seem a little richer in this one. I also think it was this installment of the series that was initially recalled to fix something about the colors — so I was told because I was confused about the publishing dates back then.
5 stars — despite my mind playing tricks on me and removing everything about Minette from memory.
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
I think it’s worth collecting them. You never know. You could get a tea dragon to care for one day.
Junji Ito moved in with his fiancé (now wife) and she decided to bring along her pet cat. Naturally, Junji Ito freaks out about the cat, who he thinks is out to get him. (Goodreads)
I thought I was dramatic about suddenly having to live with a cat in the house. But no, Junji Ito takes that mantle. I chose this book for a readathon intending to finally try one of Ito’s horror mangas. But it’s just my luck that I instead managed to get a humor story instead based on Ito’s “real-life trials and tribulations of becoming a cat owner.”
It wasn’t laugh-out-loud funny to me, but it chuckled sometimes. I enjoyed reading about the crazy things Ito suspected the cats of being up to, especially Yon, who Ito thinks has a “cursed face” and spots that create a skull on his back (apparently, this was for real of Yon; Ito included pics). It took me back to when I used think crazy stuff about the Jinster; well, I still do think crazy stuff about him. That cat’s eyes are huge and hypnotic and at night, in the dark, they seem to float, bodiless.
Anyway, the crazy thoughts Ito has about the cats, Yon & Mu, scared him silly until he started to care for them and slowly become a “cat person.” At the end of the story, we learn what became of the cats, the stars of this story. Despite the freaky illustrations portraying nightmarish scenes and me chuckling and shaking my head at Ito’s dramatics, it was a sweet story about connecting with one’s cats and trying to make sense of the weird stuff cats do (and ultimately giving up on ever figuring it out).
Ito’s style is very new, very different to me. It’s all very… dramatic and certainly stands out. And he has a weird thing about eyes, which I think is the scariest thing in the book. For example, his fiancé’s pupil-less eyes, which makes her face seem masklike and really creepy in some scenes. It makes me think she’s running around with her eyes rolled back in her head.
So despite the often-scary presentation of Yon and the freakishly weird scenes of Ito thinking the worst of the cats’ antics, I think his fiancé’s eyes are what unsettle me the most.
It was fun. I recommend it to all cat lovers, those considering to get a cat, and those who are trying to understand cats. (To the latter group — give up now. It’s impossible.)