Tearmoon Empire (Vol. 1)
As Tearmoon Empire vol. 1 opens, protagonist Princess Mia (clearly inspired by Marie Antoinette) dies on the guillotine…only to wake up as a twelve-year-old! Now Mia strives to avert the coming revolution. The story challenges readers by offering divergent interpretations of Mia’s character. The people around Mia are often impressed by what they perceive as her kindness & insight, while the snarky narrator mocks them as delusional fools, insisting anything Mia does that appears good actually comes from entirely selfish, petty motives. I loved this book. I loved the history-inspired premise, Mia, supporting characters like Anne & Abel, & the thought-provoking unreliable narrator. This is a fantastic light novel and I strongly recommend it. – Jeskai Angel
Tearmoon Empire (Vol. 1) is available through Amazon.
My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong, as I Expected (Vol. 7.5)
I’ve read most of the Oregairu volumes already (admitedly fan translations before they were licensed), but it’s been some time, and with the final anime season to cover the remaining light novels and about to start airing, I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to revisit my favorite series. Volume 7.5 was one I didn’t remember well. A collection of “side stories” and “special acts,” it’s a lovely addition to the franchise. The picture of Miura on the cover gives you insight to what it’s all about—a chance for supporting characters to shine and for Watari to take us down some routes not entirely fitting with the main storyline. But as always, the writing is excellent, and further you get some nice illustrative pieces, like Yui’s calendar and a beautiful full-color foldout with Yukinon and Hikki on one side and Hiratsuka in a wedding dress on the other. This is must-own for any fan of the franchise! – Twwk
My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong, as I Expected (Vol. 7.5) is variable through Amazon.
My Father is a Unicorn
This one volume manga is a concept that was just too ridiculous to not read. Our main character comes home from school one day to find out that his mother re-married…a unicorn. The unicorn Dad can go back and forth between human and unicorn form. I saw Morgana Santilli‘s review of it for Comic Beats and had to check it out. Ended up really enjoying it. If you enjoy silly stories about what defines us as family (which I do) and find yourself needing more horse jokes/puns in your life (which, of course I do), then this may be for you. – MDMRN
My Father is a Unicorn is available through Amazon.
Bibliophile Princess (Vol. 1)
There’s no such thing as too many light novels with bookworm protagonists. Bibliophile Princess is a more of a shoujo romance take on the story, with protagonist Elianna not only trying to get a hold of rare books, but also trying to figure out what to make of her relationship with the prince that she’s somehow betrothed to. The first volume consists of two major arcs, and each one feels like a full story in and of itself, albeit told in a somewhat strange fashion as events play out without explanation until the end. The highlight of this volume is definitely Elianna herself, who is the main narrator and provides plenty of amusing commentary on everything going on; plus, her bookworm tendencies gets put to good use as she helps the people of the kingdom out with the knowledge from those books. Fans of shoujo or of bookworm protagonists should definitely give it a shot. – stardf29
Bibliophile Princess (Vol. 1) is available through Amazon.
Smile Down the Runway (Vol. 6)
I’ll be real here, while I still think the anime was a good adaptation for the story, that doesn’t change the fact that it had to cram around 75 chapters’ worth of content into 12 episodes. Unfortunately, for that to be feasible, a lot of minor plot points and relationship details had to be either changed or omitted altogether so that the bigger ones took more focus. Right now, Kodansha’s released the midpoint of the Geika arc, so if you’re up for reliving the series again during this time, I’d strongly recommend reading the manga from the very beginning. – thathilomgirl
Smile Down the Runway (Vol. 6) is available through Amazon.
Your Lie in April (Vol. 3)
Our readers (and me) all seem to be huge fans of the Your Lie in April . I have watched it twice at this point and am working on a third watch-through now. Only recently did I discover that my library network has all of Your Lie in April. I started on volume 1 and it is gorgeous. The art is just breathtakingly well done and the story…well, I’ve seen the anime so I know what’s happening. Yet, the manga presents everything so incredibly well that I can’t put each new volume down. I’m 3 volumes in, but if you liked the anime a little bit—I would absolutely recommend the manga. I mean, it’s the manga series Eiichiro Oda (the creator of One Piece) wishes he could have created, so…that’s high praise. – MDMRN
Your Lie in April (Vol. 3) is available through Amazon.
I Refuse to Be Your Enemy! (Vol. 1)
I Refuse to Be Your Enemy! vol. 1, is a new entry in the reincarnated-into-a-video-game subgenre of isekai tales, this time using the premise for serious fantasy adventure, plus some shoujo elements. When protagonist Kiara realizes her strange dreams are memories of a past life, & she’s living in a tactical RPG where she’ll become a villain & die by hero’s hand, she immediately takes flight. Naturally, she gets entangled with the game’s protagonist & his associates. The integration of Kiara’s tragic background with her character is outstanding. The story quickly reveals that Kiara has had an abusive childhood, & at first I found it off-putting how well adjusted she seemed to be. But as I kept reading, I realized Kiara’s sad backstory isn’t just a pile of tropes used for cheap drama: the abuse she endured profoundly shapes her character is realistic, subtle ways. I heartily recommend this one. – Jeskai Angel
I Refuse to Be Your Enemy! (Vol. 1) is available through Amazon.
Featured illustration by 杉８７ (reprinted w/permission)