March 2021 Reading Wrap-Up

Though I took the month off from blogging, I didn’t stop reading. In fact, I read more this month than I have most months as of late. And yes, most of it was Fullmetal Alchemist-related.
In March, I read twelve manga volumes and six novels. I also made it partway through two other novels that will be included on next month’s wrap-up. I’ll also be discussing a book I DNF’d in February that I forgot to include last month. The lowest rating I gave in March was three stars. All in all, I had a very good reading month. Let’s talk about it.

Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 15-27 by Hiromu Arakawa (Translated by Akira Watanabe)

Summary: In an alchemical ritual gone wrong, Edward Elric lost his arm and his leg, and his brother Alphonse became nothing but a soul in a suit of armor. Equipped with mechanical “auto-mail” limbs, Edward becomes a state alchemist, seeking the one thing that can restore his and his brother’s bodies… the legendary Philosopher’s Stone.
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. Except his powers aren’t unique. The world has been ravaged by the abuse of alchemy. And in pursuit of the ultimate alchemical treasure, the Philosopher’s Stone, their enemies are even more ruthless than they are.
My Thoughts: I love this series so much. Arakawa is a genius. I still think about it every day. I don’t even know how to put into words what this series means to me.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Mina is motherless, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone— has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.
Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do— and who to be— to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.
Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.
My Thoughts: This is definitely a character-driven novel, as not a lot happens. Like, seriously, this book is almost 400 pages are there are like three events. I was a bit disappointed, but still overall didn’t mind too much because I liked the character development of and relationship between Lynet and Mina.
It’s interesting seeing the nods to Snow White throughout the novel and how Bashardoust turns the story on its head. I came for the F/F romance (which takes a back seat to everything else), but stayed for the mother-daughter relationship. Overall, this was a pretty good debut, but I feel like I would’ve liked it more if I’d read it back when it came out since I’m a much different reader now.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Under the Faraway Sky by Makoto Inoue & illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa

Summary: It’s only been a year since the Elric brothers set out on their journey to find the elusive Philosopher’s Stone. But a lot has happened in that short time. For one thing, Edward has become an official State Alchemist. And, as such, he often finds himself in the thick of one dangerous situation after another. Now, sidelined with a fever in a remote village, Edward is unexpectedly reunited with a childhood friend.
Even though he’s become a valuable member of his country’s military organization, Edward can’t help feeling a pang of jealousy. While he and his brother’s fate is inexorably bound to recent life-altering events, his friend is busy studying to become a doctor and making his dreams come true. Suddenly, Edward starts questioning the purpose of his life.
Stories from the childhood of Edward and Alphonse Elric— not seen in either the manga or anime! Also includes the heartwarming story, “Roy’s Holiday,” featuring Colonel Mustang and Lieutenant Colonel Hughes.
My Thoughts: Look, I knew going into this that it was going to be way below my reading level and I probably wouldn’t love it as much as the manga and anime. But hey, I still had fun! Ed and Roy each have some great character moments in their respective stories. While I don’t love the third person omnipotent perspective, I still enjoyed this overall and would probably revisit it.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Fullmetal Alchemist: The Abducted Alchemist by Makoto Inoue & illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa

Summary: Train lines are being destroyed in a series of terrorist strikes. At the same time, a string of kidnappings targeting those related to the military takes place. However, nobody is harmed. Civilian anger mounts with each passing day, and the authorities seem powerless to catch the insurgents. Roy suspects that the two crime sprees are connected, but he’s having a tough time convincing his superiors in Central Command. Edward and Alphonse join in on investigations to catch the terrorists but soon finds themselves in the middle of a kidnapping, too.
My Thoughts: I had a lot of fun with this one! Ed and Roy making each other’s lives hell is very pleasing to me.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Fullmetal Alchemist: The Ties That Bind by Makoto Inoue & illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa

Summary: During a recent visit with their former teacher Izumi Curtis, the Elric brothers discover the existence of a particular book— a book so dangerous that it remains against the law to even print it! Curious, Edward and Alphonse set out to locate this unique and rare tome. On their journey they encounter a young Ishballan child and his foster mother. Seeing them reminds the brothers of their own mother who died of a fatal illness.
Meanwhile, Roy Mustang, who was recently promoted to duty in Central City, investigates a puzzling case involving synthetic beasts known as chimeras. During the investigation, Mustang bumps into someone from his past— someone he never thought he’d see again!
My Thoughts: I really liked the complexities of how the Ishbal massacre and the aftermath were handled here. I thought all the plots tied together nicely. The beginning and end were both a little weak though.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Fullmetal Alchemist: The Valley of White Petals by Makoto Inoue & illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa

Summary: Roy sends Edward and Alphonse on a search for a supposedly nonexistent town named Wisteria, which has been rumored to be a paradise, in a desert, surprisingly. However, the town really does exist but is isolated from outside contact. Ed and Al are granted entrance into the town after helping Ruby, a girl who lives in Wisteria and serves as one of the best guards of the town to keep unwanted people from coming in. Ruby introduces the brothers to the mayor of the town, and explains that the town runs on the law of Equivalent Exchange, so everyone works to get in reward their needs.
After exploring the town, Al considers staying there forever, while Ed questions the town’s system. Ed then meets a young boy who has been friends with Ruby before they came to Wisteria, and Ed learns of the poverty in the town that falls upon those who cannot work like everyone else. Ed and Al set out to prove the mayor of the town wrong.
My Thoughts: I really enjoyed the examination of capitalism, oppression, and cults here. I was honestly surprised to find all that in a middle grade book, though I supposed I shouldn’t have been given it’s an FMA book. There’s also some great brotherly moments here between Ed and Al. The cherry on top? Ed causing problems for Roy on purpose. I think this may be my favorite of the light novels!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Fullmetal Alchemist: The Land of Sand by Makoto Inoue & illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa

Summary: Edward and Alphonse Elric continue their search for the Philosopher’s Stone in the mining town of Xenotime where it is rumored that someone is trying to create gold out of stone to revive the dying city. When they arrive, they discover two brothers, Russell and Fletcher Tringham are using the Elric brothers’ names to continue their father’s research in the alchemic lab run by town leader Mugear. While Edward and Russell argue and fight over the name, the two younger brothers talk.
My Thoughts: It was interesting seeing how the Xenotime arc was handled differently here than in the 2003 anime. There aren’t drastic changes, but each take on the story has its pros and cons. I could’ve done without the short story featuring Team Mustang, though. I’ve never cared for the Warehouse 13 story and would’ve liked a story that did those characters justice.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A Curse of Roses by Diana Pinguicha

Summary: With just one touch, bread turns into roses. With just one bite, cheese turns into lilies.
There’s a famine plaguing the land, and Princess Yzabel is wasting food simply by trying to eat. Before she can even swallow, her magic— her curse— has turned her meal into a bouquet. She’s on the verge of starving, which only reminds her that the people of Portugal have been enduring the same pain.
If only it were possible to reverse her magic. Then she could turn flowers… into food.
Fatyan, a beautiful Enchanted Moura, is the only one who can help. But she is trapped by magical binds. She can teach Yzabel how to control her curse— if Yzabel sets her free with a kiss.
As the King of Portugal’s betrothed, Yzabel would be committing treason, but what good is a king if his country has starved to death?
With just one kiss, Fatyan is set free. And with just one kiss, Yzabel is yearning for more.
She’d sought out Fatyan to help her save the people. Now, loving her could mean Yzabel’s destruction.
Based on Portuguese legend, this #OwnVoices historical fantasy is an epic tale of mystery, magic, and making the impossible choice between love and duty.
My Thoughts: This was very much a case of “it’s not you, it’s me.” I just wasn’t vibing with the writing style. If you’d asked me a month ago, I would’ve said it read too young for me, but I just spent the entirety of March reading middle grade so… clearly that wasn’t it.
I think if I’d read this book a few years ago, I would’ve loved it. It just doesn’t work for me now. That said, most reviews I’ve seen are positive so you should give this book a chance!

What did you read in March? Tell me about it in the comments!

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