Tuesday, May 21, 2019

OtakuAThon, Round 2 Announcement + TBR

This really cute Sailor Moon background was purchased from BeatPaperDesigns, who has a lovely Etsy shop!
Kristin & I are thrilled to be hosting another round of OtakuAThon! This collaborative event came together when we both decided we wanted to deliberately carve out more time to indulge in our deep love of manga and anime, and to invite other manga and anime fans to join us. Round two is taking place from Friday, June 7 until Monday, June 10. (You can use the hashtag #OtakuAThon to chat about the event, ask questions, give recommendations or talk about other things. There's also going to be an Instagram challenge coming around the week of the event!)

We'll be using the same reading prompts we came up with for the initial round to keep things simple! You can feel free to either read manga or watch anime to complete them (and you can double up on challenges with one manga volume or anime series). This is a low-pressure event, so definitely read or watch however much you can! I'm going to mention my TBR picks for this round below to give you a couple of ideas (and you can check out my round one picks for more inspiration).

1. Most recently acquired
I'm reading I Want to Eat Your Pancreas for this round, as it was one of my acquisitions during my last visit to Kinokuniya. It's actually been turned into a film, which I would also eventually like to watch (even moreso if I enjoy the manga)! The story centers around Yamauchi Sakura who has been suffering from a pancreatic disease in secret from anyone outside of her family... until one of her high school classmates finds her diary and learns the truth.

2. Catch up on a series you're behind on
I meant to read up until the current volume of Yona of the Dawn during the last round, but I didn't end up getting to that one! I'm carrying it over here, only now it's eighteen volumes in total that I'm going to have to read... so we'll see how this goes. Basic summary of this story? A girl loses her father and her entire kingdom in one night, when he is assassinated by someone who takes over the throne and she flees with her childhood friend (who is a member of the guard) to stay alive and to hopefully find the prophesied dragons that will help her take back her kingdom.

3. Adaptation of a manga/anime you loved
Macky & I have been working through Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (we're 27 episodes away from the end!) and we've really been enjoying this story. I picked up Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 1 in the Fullmetal Edition because 1) I really want to experience this story in manga form and 2) this edition is a gorgeous hardback.

4. Revisit an old favorite
I've talked about this anime before, but I've never actually experienced the original story in manga form! I'm going to be picking up Fushigi Yûgi, Vol. 1 just to dive back into this world and be among these characters yet again (even though I know the entire series is basically an emotional roller coaster that will mess with my feelings).

5. Start a new series
I am always looking for new manga to fall in love with, and I decided to go with one that I own because Kristin told me that I should check it out. Chobits, Vol. 1 is officially my pick for this round, and it's about a student trying to get into university who one day discovers a persocom (an android in the shape of a human) abandoned in an alley. He takes the persocom home, and eventually ends up being the one who has to teach her how to do regular, everyday tasks, even as he and his friends try to figure out what her story is.

6. Recommended to you
Kristin was absolutely insistent that I pick My Love Story (the anime) for this round, so I'm going to go with that. After all, who can resist a really cute and unexpected love story? Certainly not me!

7. Read another series by an author you've read before
I'm picking a manga volume I purchased because I couldn't get the title out of my mind after I first learned about it - Kiss of the Rose Princess, Vol. 1. I read a manga by this author during the last round, and I liked it (though I'm still 50/50 on continuing it). I'm curious to see how this one actually plays out, and I did like her art style, so I'm hoping I might enjoy this one even more!

8. Genre of choice
I'm nothing if not consistent about which genre I gravitate towards when it comes to manga and anime, so I will be going with shōjo again for this round. All of the options I picked out already fall under this category, but I'm going to throw in a shoutout to an anime I started during the last round and only have 7 episodes left in - Snow White with the Red Hair (watch the sub version, please and thank you). It is an incredibly delightful show, with a wonderful, lovable cast of characters and the fluffiest romance!

For easy reference, all challenges are listed below:
1. Most recently acquired
2. Catch up on a series you're behind on
3. Adaptation of a manga/anime you loved
4. Revisit an old favorite
5. Start a new series
6. Recommended to you
7. Read another series by an author you've read before
8. Genre of choice

Hope you'll be joining us for round two of OtakuAThon, happening June 7-10, 2019!

Monday, May 20, 2019

Table for Two #29: Kith Treats

Rachel of Hello, Chelly and I have teamed up to bring you a collaboration that involves two of my favorite things: New York City and food. Welcome to Table for Two, where the two of us will be highlighting places to eat in New York City! I'll be talking about Kith Treats today, while Rachel will share our thoughts on Fuku (both located in the new Hudson Yards).

Where | Kith Treats at Snark Park, Level 2, Hudson Yards
Cuisine | Ice cream (with cereal mix-ins)
Price | $$ Moderate
What We Ordered | The Osborne ice cream swirl (which includes Captain Crunch, Fruity Pebbles & Crushed Oreos) 

What We Thought 
I've actually been to Kith Treats before, but to the branch that's downtown inside their store. When we discussed visiting the new Hudson Yards this month, I wanted to take the opportunity to see their branch here. Since Rachel had yet to try their ice cream, it worked out perfectly! I really enjoyed the ice cream we got (and felt like they serve more ice cream per serving at this branch), because the way they blend the cereal into their ice cream is really smooth without compromising taste. I do wish they had a seating area (which they also do not have downtown), but since there is plenty of seating within Hudson Yards and by the Vessel.

Rating 🥂🥂🥂 Really good

Friday, May 17, 2019

Book Review: Red, White & Royal Blue

When Alex Claremont-Diaz, son of the President of the US, and his longtime nemesis Prince Henry have an altercation at a royal wedding, the news makes the tabloids and threatens the relationship between the American and British governments. The solution that their staffs come up with is simple: the pair need to fake a friendship in order to take control of the narrative before anyone else does. What follows is an exchange of messages and a flurry of staged encounters that slowly morph into something real, as Alex comes to the realization that the veneer of the prince he once loathed so much is actually a disguise for the real Henry, a charming young man with a sense of humor and ghosts that haunt his pasts. In order to protect the royal reputation and the Claremont political party as Alex’s mom goes up for reelection, the two of them keep their budding romance a secret. But will they be able to make peace with their respective political situations and the expectations placed upon them both in order to find a future where they can be together?

Red, White & Royal Blue is an utter delight of a romantic comedy romp, and you need it in your life. 

Okay, but seriously, just the thought of Red, White & Royal Blue makes me smile because it is so darn wonderful. I had high hopes going into this tale (buoyed by just about every single one of my friends being head over heels in love with it) and this novel was just as entertaining and as heartfelt as I expected it to be. I loved the shenanigans and banter that cracked me up, making this book one of the most fun reading experiences I’ve ever had. I loved the heartfelt moments that made me swoon, or cry, or do a little bit of both (and they’re not all romance-related, mind you). I loved the way that this story did focus heavily on the romance, but still had fun secondary plots to add some flavor and shake things up. I loved the writing style, because it was so easy to read, and because the author chose to include text messages and emails and those felt so organic as additions to the story.

But, and most important of all, and predictably so if you know me at all, the characters were amazing and what really cemented my love for Red, White & Royal Blue.

Apart from darling Alex, who I love with my whole heart and would absolutely 10/10 want to be friends with and will get to in a moment, there are so many characters I enjoyed meeting. Henry, a prince who is more than the polished royal he appears to be (and who also swept me off my feet and made me laugh). June, Alex’s sister who has a way with words and is determined to succeed on her own merits. Nora, their best friend and the last member of the White House Trio, who is well-versed in facts and figures and has her own way of seeing the world. Bea, Henry’s lovable and fiercely protective sister. Pez, Henry’s gregarious best friend. Alex’s mother and father and stepfather, who were all such supportive adults that their genuine love for Alex made me cry. Zahra and Shaan and Cash and Amy, all members of staff who offer constant support and solutions for the First Family and the Royal Family.

But, honestly, right from the start, Alex had my heart. (I didn’t intentionally mean to have that rhyme, but we’re going to roll with it.) He’s a driven young man who has a deep desire to serve people by pursuing a career in politics, but he also enjoys kicking back and engaging in the pursuit of entertainment. He’s funny and smart and likable and basically, he’s just the best. Being able to come along for the journey as he navigates falling in love (for real) for the first time, coming to terms with his bisexuality and coming out to the people he loves and figuring out what he wants to do with his life is just such a treat, and I feel so blessed to have been given the opportunity to read all about it.

Just writing down a fraction of my feelings about Red, White & Royal Blue has already convinced me I need to reread it immediately, and if that’s not a testament to how much I adore this novel, I don’t know what is. This novel is hilarious, heartfelt and all-around just a wonderful, entertaining read.

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin | Publication Date: May 14, 2019
Source: ARC received from the publisher (Thank you!)


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