Contemporary · Fantasy · Manga

Mini Reviews: What Did You Eat Yesterday? (1), The Goblin Emperor, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han


This was actually one of the books I wanted to use for anniversary – I’ve had my eye on this since mid last year, and had been interested in reading Jenny Han longer than that. It’s just that her previous books were parts of trilogies or duos, and were marketed as one of those “summer girls” books, like the Hailey Abbott titles my sister loves so much but didn’t do much for me. They did give me a “good feminist YA” vibe, though, so I was still curious.

I bought a copy almost immediately after it came in, and I’m glad I did. Because it’s marketed as fluffy chick lit about a teen girl’s romantic problems (what with her secret love letters suddenly getting mailed to the boys) but then, SURPRISE, it’s really a book about SISTERS. And BEST FRIENDSHIP. And FRIENDSHIPS IN GENERAL. Yes, there’s a lot of romantic drama, and Lara Jean does get into all these complicated entanglements due to the letters being sent out, but at the core of this book is how this changes her relationships with those around her, about the things we keep secret when we shouldn’t have, and the things we blurt out when we probably shouldn’t. And SISTERS. Okay, between this and Fangirl, I’m just all for books about sisters and BFFs.

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison


Honestly, I have no idea how to talk about this book. I adore it to the point of being extremely and absolutely biased, but that’s because this book is just really that good. I loved Sarah Monette’s Doctrine of Labyrinths series – the worldbuilding and systems of magic are just incredible, and Felix and Mildmay are among the best characters I’ve read in fantasy novels. Then there’s The Bone Key and Somewhere Beneath Those Waves, the two short story collections. It usually takes me YEARS to finish even half a collection of short stories, and yet I gulped these books down in just a couple of sittings. So. I love Sarah Monette’s work. And this latest by her (published under the name Katherine Addison) might be even better.

Maia is the fourth son of the Emperor of Elflands, cast aside due to the fact that he’s half-goblin. But when his father and brothers die in an airship crash, he’s whisked to the capital to be the new Emperor. Rather than an epic fantasy, this novel is more of a bildungsroman, following a naïve, scared kid trying to survive to his nineteenth birthday. Maia is such a likable character, one that is inherently kind, which I hear is a rare thing in fantasy heroes. I adore him for that, and other reasons. It’s interesting and uncomfortable to me how his (cruel) guardian Setheris is so much in his mind throughout the book – even when Setheris isn’t present, his voice is constantly in Maia’s head. The thing about Setheris is that he reminds me so much of my great-aunt, who was in charge of my siblings and I in my childhood.

I enjoyed the worldbuilding, and the use of language in particular. I always loved the different pronouns used in Japanese, and how which pronoun one chooses conveys a lot about the relationship between the speakers. I’ve wondered how one might convey that kind of nuanced speech in English conversation, and Katherine Addison achieved that with this book. The names and elvish words used were also interesting, because Addison doesn’t include info-dumps to explain them, but I never needed the glossary at the end of the book because by the time I was a few chapters in, I’ve managed to connect the dots and understand the elvish names and suffixes; what magic is this? I don’t know, but Katherine Addison has it.

What Did You Eat Yesterday? (1) by Yoshinaga Fumi


I read this in English, except for a couple of pages where I referred to the Japanese edition. I had read it in Japanese awhile back, but even though I remember liking it, I had forgotten how incredibly FUNNY it is. It’s a slice-of-life manga depicting a middle-aged gay couple. Kakei is a lawyer who takes vanity and thriftiness to another level. Yabuki, his boyfriend, is an easygoing hairdresser. The English translation gets a little jarring in a couple of places (hence me having to pick up my Japanese copy to check on wordings), but it’s still good and something I’d recommend to anyone who’d like the kind of manga that delights you with its humor and delicious, delicious food.

~ originally posted individually on Weebly


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