My #YARC2019 progress in the past 3 months

At the end of March, I made a first Year of the Asian Readathon Challenge update post (what a mouthful that was), to let you all know which books by Asian authors I had read in the first three months of the year. I want to keep creating update posts every 3 months, so I can share my progress throughout the year and keep myself accountable.

If you’re unaware, YARC is a year-long reading challenge hosted by Shealea @ Shut Up, Shealea, CW @ The Quiet Pond, Lily @ Sprinkles of Dreams, and Vicky @ Vicky Who Reads, encouraging us all to read books by Asian authors.

What was my goal?

The hosts made different tiers based on wonderful animals, and I chose the level of Philippine tarsier, which meant reading 1-10 books for the challenge in 2019.

When I posted my first updated in March, I had already read 9 books for the challenge and knew for sure I’d pass the Philippine tarsier level. I’ve been reading a lot of manga this year, which are all by Japanese authors – obviously…

I won’t choose a new level, even though I’ve already surpassed the one I’d chosen at the start of the year. I’m just going to continue reading all the Asian authors and see how much I’ll end up with at the end of the year.

What did I read in April, May, and June?

The Shadowglass (The Bone Witch #3) by Rin Chupeco – ★★★★★ – a new favorite
This was an obvious read for me this year. I absolutely adore this trilogy, and the final book was one of my most anticipated releases of 2019. I may have shed a tear or two while reading this on public transport, but I don’t regret it whatsoever. If you somehow haven’t read this series yet, please do me a favor and give it a try.

Death Note Black Edition Vol. 1 by Tsugumi Ohba – ★★★★ – really liked it
A while ago, I read the first volume of Death Note and didn’t really love it. However, this manga is so popular I didn’t want to give up either. I bought the black editions that contain two volumes per book, and gave it another go. This time around, I really liked it! The translations in the first volume feel a little bit awkward, but that problem gets resolved by the second one. I knew I had to continue with this manga asap.

The Wrath and the Dawn (Wrath and the Dawn #1) by Renée Ahdieh – ★★★ – it was okay
I finally read this hyped up novel during the OWLs readathon in April, and I’m grateful the readathon gave me the push to pick this up. I’d been putting it off because I had a feeling I wouldn’t really love it, and I was right. I couldn’t get into this novel, and the romance made me cringe.

Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 2 by Hiromu Arakawa – ★★★★ – really liked it
I read the first volume at the start of the year and fell in love with it. When the sequels I ordered finally arrived, I continued the manga immediately. I really love the story line, the characters, and the humor of Fullmetal Alchemist.

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata – ★★★★ – really liked it
Another book I read for the OWLs readathon in April! This is an adult contemporary novel about a Japanese woman who works in a convenience store and loves the routine her life has, the part she plays in the cycle of society. However, people tend to look down on her because she isn’t married and works in a store. To make her family happy, she tries to break out of her self-assigned role. It’s such an interesting read, and I would highly recommend it!

Black Butler Vol. 2 by Yana Toboso – ★★★.₅ – liked it
I quite enjoyed the first Black Butler volume so I picked up the second one in April. Unfortunately, I didn’t love it as much as the previous volume… I will continue the manga, but it’s not a priority anymore.

Fruits Basket Vol. 1 by Natsuki Takaya – ★★★★ – really liked it
After reading a few action-packed and “serious” manga volumes, I wanted to read one that was more light-hearted. Enter Fruits Basket! I had never read the manga nor watched the anime, so had no idea what to expect going in. I ended up really enjoying it, and will be buying the Collector’s editions so I can continue the manga!

The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth’s Past #1) by Cixin Liu – ★★★★.₅ – loved it
The Three-Body Problem had been on my to-read list ages before reading it. I was quite intimidated by this epic Chinese science fiction series because a) I’m still not used to reading hard sci fi, and b) I was afraid I wouldn’t love the translation, or that it wouldn’t come across as well as the original. I shouldn’t have been scared. This novel is fantastic, and I can’t wait to continue the series.

Death Note Black Edition Vol. 2 by Tsugumi Ohba – ★★★★★ – a new favorite
As I mentioned earlier, I knew I wanted to continue with the Death Note manga soon. The second volume of the black editions ended up blowing my mind. The sequels were even better than the first volumes. This volume solidified my need to own all the other volumes and read them soon.

Fullmetal Alchemist vol. 3 by Hiromu Arakawa – ★★★★ – really liked it
As mentioned earlier, I’ve been enjoying the Fullmetal Alchemist manga so much. I always look forward to reading it, and once I’ve picked a volume up I don’t want to put it back down at all.

Death Note Black Edition vol. 3 by Tsugumi Ohba – ★★★★ – really liked it
While I didn’t love this volume as much as the previous ones, it’s still an incredible series.

Death Note Black Edition vol. 4 by Tsugumi Ohba – ★★★★ – really liked it
This volume blew my mind. Something unforgivable happened, and I still haven’t entirely recovered. I truly sped through this manga, because I loved it so much.

Death Note Black Edition vol. 5 by Tsugumi Ohba – ★★★★ – really liked it
Once I finished volume 4, I knew I couldn’t wait to finish the series. There was no time to pick up something else first. I had to know how this manga ends! It’s just such a wild ride. If it wasn’t obvious already, I highly recommend this manga, if you haven’t read it already.

Death Note Black Edition vol. 6 by Tsugumi Ohba – ★★★★.₅ – loved it
The ending has come. I finished it. I binge-read Death Note, and now I’ve come to the end of the tunnel. What an emotional rollercoaster it has been. I absolutely adore this manga. I only have one issue with it overall, but I’ll get into that in a later review. I can’t wait to watch the anime!

Fullmetal Alchemist vol. 4 by Hiromu Arakawa – ★★★★ – really liked it
In my effort to crawl out of the black hole the ending of Death Note left me in, I continued the Fullmetal Alchemist manga. This one is just so much fun. It’s packed with action, yet isn’t as serious or psychological as Death Note. I’ve grown so attached to these characters, it’s insane.

Fullmetal Alchemist vol. 5 by Hiromu Arakawa – ★★★★ – really liked it
I’m running out of things to say here. I think you get the gist, right? I’m loving this manga so much.

Fullmetal Alchemist vol. 6 by Hiromu Arakawa – ★★★★★ – a new favorite
This volume. CATCH ME CRYING. Volume 6 focuses on the backstory of the brothers. It talks about their childhood, their relationship with their parents, and what happened after their mother died – no, that’s not a spoiler. All the emotions, people. I just want to protect them!!

Fullmetal Alchemist vol. 7 by Hiromu Arakawa – ★★★★ – really liked it
While it can’t top how I felt about the previous volumes, I do like where the story is going. After finishing this volume, I bought 4 of the 3-in-1 editions of the manga because I wanted to start collecting those instead. I can’t wait to continue!


I’ve read quite a lot towards the Year of the Asian Reading Challenge, mostly thanks to my love for manga. I’ve been in such a manga mood lately, and while I do want to branch out with regards to the ethnicities of the authors, I don’t want to stop reading manga either. I guess we’ll see what the next 3 months bring!

Have you read any of these books? Have any recommendations for me?

a first update on my #YARC2019 progress

At the start of the year I announced I was participating in YARC 2019, which is the Year of the Asian Reading Challenge. The whole point of the challenge is to read books by Asian authors, no matter the format, length, etc. You can read more about my intentions for this challenge in my sign up post, where I’ve also linked all the creators and hosts of the challenge.

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I set my goal as Philippine tarsier in January, which is to read 1-10 books by Asian authors in 2019. I know that doesn’t seem like a lot, but I “only” read around 70 books last year and I had no idea how much I’d be able to read this year.

So I thought it would be easier to aim for the lowest level, which is this cute little animal, and possibly end up achieving more than expected in the end!

As it stands, it’s the end of March and I think I’ll have no problem reaching this goal. Why? I’ve recently fallen in love with manga and starting ordering and reading more and more of it. They’re (obviously) all by Japanese authors, and so do count for this challenge.

so what have I read so far?

Naoko by Keigo Higashino – ★★★★ – really liked it
> author is Japanese, novel is translated
I picked this novel up in my local library, and had no idea what it was about. I’d never heard anyone talk about Naoko, but the cover and synopsis seemed pretty interesting so I decided to give it a try. I ended up really enjoying it! I wouldn’t necessarily call this a mystery novel, which is what it’s marketed to be, but it’s for sure one of the most fascinating fiction novels I’ve read in a while. If you want to know more of my thoughts in detail, you can find my review here.

An everyman, Heisuke works hard at a factory job to provide for his wife, Naoko, and young daughter, Monami. He takes pleasure from the small things, like breakfast with both of them after a night shift. His placid life is rocked when, looking up from his microwave dinner one evening, he realizes the TV news that he wasn’t paying attention to is reporting a catastrophic bus accident and the names of his loved ones. When Monami finally wakes from a coma, she seems to think she’s Naoko, who has died protecting her daughter. More disturbingly, the girl knows things only Naoko could know.

A River in Darkness by Masaji Ishikawa – ★★★★.₅ – loved it
author is Japanese-Korean, book is translated
A nonfiction read! I had owned a Kindle copy of this book for a long time, and never read it. Honestly, that happens to me so often… This will be a lesson in reading the books I own! A River in Darkness is the author’s biography of his life in Japan and North Korea, until his eventual escape from the country. His family moved to North Korea when he was a teenager because all of the promises made through propaganda. When they arrived, they discovered it was nothing like they images they’d been sold but it was already too late. They were stuck. This is a heartbreaking read. Seriously, it’s hard to read at times. I can’t even imagine having lived through it. Would highly recommend! I haven’t written a full review yet, but I’m hoping to do so soon.

Come Drink With Me by Michelle Kan – ★★★★ – really liked it
author is Asian, book is inspired by Chinese mythology and Cantonese opera
This is a novella, and I wish Michelle Kan would make it into a whole novel. Or write a book with these characters. It’s an #ownvoices aroace fairytale, inspired by Chinese mythology and Cantonese opera. Come Drink With Me is brilliant, and I need everyone to read it. I’ll write a full review soon!

A Dragon, a Phoenix, and an Opera House. Bonds that transcend time, loyalties that defy hardship, and the magic of the places we call Home. An Aromantic Chinese Fairytale.

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate – ★★★★.₅ – loved it
author is Chinese-American
This seemed like the perfect book for the YARC challenge, because I had owned this novel for months already. It’s an adorable YA contemporary novel about a girl called Jordan Sun, who has been denied a spot in all the Musical Theater productions in her school because she’s an Alto 2. She has a beautiful voice, but most leading roles for women are sopranos. So she dresses and acts like a guy to become part of the all-male a cappella group in her school, the Sharpshooters. I absolutely loved this book! I especially appreciated how Jordan often thinks about how she’s taking up space in the queer community she doesn’t really belong to. For example, she feels like she’s invading a safe space for trans teens because even though she doesn’t identify as male, she is pretending to be.

It’s the start of Jordan Sun’s junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts. Unfortunately, she’s an Alto 2, which—in the musical theatre world—is sort of like being a vulture in the wild: She has a spot in the ecosystem, but nobody’s falling over themselves to express their appreciation. So it’s no surprise when she gets shut out of the fall musical for the third year straight. But then the school gets a mass email: A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshiped . . . revered . . . all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.

Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 1 by Hiromu Arakawa – ★★★★.₅ – loved it
author is Japanese
I bought this volume last year from better world books, because it was quite cheap if you chose a used copy. If you know me, you may know that I love to buy secondhand books. I’m not someone who needs their books to be in pristine condition – no shade if you are though. Fullmetal Alchemist is such a famous manga and anime series but I had never read or watched it. I decided to give the manga a try first, and am so glad I did! I really loved it, and immediately purchased volumes 2-7. They’re on their way to me now.

Alchemy: the mystical power to alter the natural world; something between magic, art and science. When two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, dabbled in this power to grant their dearest wish, one of them lost an arm and a leg…and the other became nothing but a soul locked into a body of living steel. Now Edward is an agent of the government, a slave of the military-alchemical complex, using his unique powers to obey orders…even to kill.

I Hear the Sunspot Vol. 1 by Yuki Fumino – ★★★★★ – a new favorite
> author is Japanese
This was such a random pick, to be honest. I saw it on MangaRock, and thought the synopsis sounded pretty good. I started it after I finished a book that made me feel so gross and disgusted, and left me wanting something cute and wholesome. What did I get myself into with this? I want to scream about this manga to everyone in the entire universe!! When I found out the first three volumes were recently translated into English, I immediately purchased them all. PLEASE READ THIS. The manga volumes on MangaRock are translated by fans, by the way. The app is free. I’ve written a full spoiler-free review on the first three volumes, which you can read here.

Because of a hearing disability, Kohei is often misunderstood and has trouble integrating into life on campus, so he learns to keep his distance. That is until he meets the outspoken and cheerful Taichi. He tells Kohei that his hearing loss is not his fault. Taichi’s words cut through Kohei’s usual defense mechanisms and open his heart. More than friends, less than lovers, their relationship changes Kohei forever.

I Hear the Sunspot: Theory of Happiness by Yuki Fumino – ★★★★★ – a new favorite
author is Japanese
Like I mentioned earlier, once I started reading the first volume I immediately searched for official translations and discovered there were three volumes published in English. I bought all of them, and read them as soon as they were delivered to my house. Volume 2, Theory of Happiness, was so long – and I loved every single page. Seriously, this manga is so good. Once again, you can find my review on the series here. Don’t worry, I don’t go into any spoilers!

I Hear the Sunspot: Limit 1 by Yuki Fumino – ★★★★.₅ – loved it
author is Japanese
This is the third volume, and while I did still love it, I do think it was a tad too short. I don’t know why they didn’t include the next chapters published in the Limit volume in one? I still ended up loving it, though. I also read the chapters after this one that were published in Japanese, and translated by fans on MangaRock. Now I have to wait for news on the sequels, and I CAN’T DEAL. I need to know what happens to my babies! You can find my review on the first three volumes here.

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Bye Bye Liberty Volume 1 by Ayuko Hatta – ★★★.₅ – liked it
> author is Japanese
This was another random MangaRock pick, albeit not such a successful one as I hear the sunspot. I did enjoy this volume, which follows a girl who has never had a crush, and an extremely popular boy at her school. I did enjoy this, but it bothered me somewhat how easily she threw the word love around. I might continue with the manga, but I’m not in a rush to do so.


I think I’m definitely going to achieve my Philippine tarsier level! I do realize that I managed to pick up books only by Chinese and Japanese authors, so that’s something I want to broaden during the rest of the year. However, I’m already happy to have read some amazing books! I think there’s an obvious trend here too… I enjoyed all of them!

How is your #YARC2019 going? Do you have any recommendations for me? Some I’ll definitely pick up soon are sequels to the manga I mentioned, and The Shadowglass by Rin Chupeco. That one is my second most anticipated novel of the year, and I just got it in the mail. 

I’m participating in #YARC2019!

Sometime in the past week, I discovered the Year of the Asian Reading Challenge 2019, which is hosted by Shealea @ Shut Up, Shealea, CW @ The Quiet Pond, Lily @ Sprinkles of Dreams, and Vicky @ Vicky Who Reads. It’s a reading challenge dedicated to reading books by Asian authors in 2019.

THE GUIDELINES

You can pick a reading level depending on the amount of books by Asian authors you wish to read. Only books you started and finished in 2019 count and as for genre and format, anything goes.

For example, I finished reading Attack on Titan vol. 1 in 2019, but started reading it on the last day 2018 so it doesn’t count.

You create a sign up post where you keep track of the books you’ve read for the challenge as well. Don’t forget to follow the reading challenge updates on Twitter: @YearOfTheAsian

MY GOAL

I am aiming for the Philippine tarsier, which means I’ll read 1 to 10 books by Asian authors. I’m certainly not limiting my reading to 10 books! I’m just not good with stressing myself out over reading so I’m aiming for the lowest level and hoping I’ll end up reading more.

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READING TRACKER

I’ll use this space to update you all on the books I’ve read by Asian authors. I’ll add them once I’ve read the book, and link to my review once I’ve written and posted that. If there’s a book on this list without a link, I simply haven’t written a review yet (you can always visit me on Goodreads to see my thoughts on the books I read though).

  1. Naoko by Keigo Higashino

Are you participating in #YARC2019? Do you have any recommendations for me? I still have quite a few books by Asian authors on my bookshelf and Kindle that I’m really excited to get to. I’m looking forward to reading more books by Asian authors this year!