Life: So Tired

I have been tired. So tired. How tired? I have been able to achieve REM sleep on public transit.

This is… worrisome.

Book (Manhwa): I Tamed My Ex-husband’s Mad Dog by CMJM, Jagae, Jkyum

cover art for I Tamed My Ex-husband’s Mad Dog by CMJM, Jagae, Jkyum

I Tamed My Ex-husband’s Mad Dog
by CMJM, Jagae, Jkyum
published by Tappytoon (71 chapters, in season 3, ongoing)
2022 (?) – present

I didn’t expect to try to read all available chapters of this story in a few days, but it is fun enough that I didn’t want to put it down.

Reinhardt is a woman who has been wronged. She spent her youth engaged to the crown prince, only for him to send her father off to quell unrest the crown prince caused himself, get her father killed, and THEN call off the marriage and send her far away… Embittered, Reinhardt wishes for another chance – and when she gets it, and finds herself at her father’s casket 15 years in the past, she uses that chance to stab the crown prince in the leg with a sword in a way he’ll never recover from.

Her exile is harsher this time, but she is rescued from a mercenary by a feral boy – whom she recognizes as the crown prince’s henchman from the bitter version of her life. Perhaps she can raise this young version of Wilhelm in her exile to turn out differently. Perhaps he can be a tool of her revenge.

Or, as Will grows up into a powerful knight who is obsessed with her, perhaps he can be more than that – her partner or… her downfall.

Revenge is a tricky business, and one needs more than that to live a good life – as our characters discover! This story involves: speech therapy, loyal knights, daddy’s sword, stolen corpses, younger men, peat (no, seriously, peat), jealousy, teleportation crystals (!), empire-building, wars, love, obsession, annoying empresses, dungeons, capable female heads of state, wars, head injuries, male line verification science, fancy outfits, and lies… I’m very much in suspense in chapter 71, and am eager for more.

Book (Manhwa): The Castle: Keeper of the Sacred Eye by Jin Soye, hyeyong, pecan

Cover for The Castle: Keeper of the Sacred Eye

The Castle: Keeper of the Sacred Eye
by Jin Soye, hyeyong, pecan
published by Tappytoon (50 chapters ( 1 season), on hiatus / to be continued)
2023 (?) – present

Back in February, I summarized this comic as “contemporary imaginary Korean royalty battle evil spirits trapped in paintings through heterosexuality.” That is still a concise and funny summary, but I can do better… Maybe.

Jo Yuyeon is a redhead in a bad situation in contemporary Korea. She is indebted to her boss, who is keeping her comatose mother on life support in exchange for her complete devotion to running his businesses, while living in her boss’ home, and being an exploited girlfriend of the boss’ disagreeable son. A chance encounter with an evil spirit in a painting reveals that she has skills the Korean royal family needs – and she catches Prince Geon’s eye. Her adoptive family would rather get their spoiled daughter into the palace, and not give Yuyeon up. And the palace itself has a powerful spirit with its own opinion.

This has a story quite unlike the other comics I’m reading, and I have no idea how it will turn out. I want more contemporary Korean content, and so I’ll pick this up again in Season 2.

Book (Manhwa): Like Wind on a Dry Branch by Dalsaeowl, Hwaeum

iPhone version of cover for Like Wind on a Dry Branch by Dalsaeowl & Hwaeum
iPhone version of cover for Like Wind on a Dry Branch by Dalsaeowl & Hwaeum

Like Wind on a Dry Branch
by Dalsaeowl, Hwaeum
published by Webtoon (ongoing, currently at chapter 177)
2021 – present

I’m 177 chapters into this enjoyable illustrated novel, and it isn’t going to end anytime soon, so I should review and recommend it! Admittedly, this one starts rough – the author notes that they like stories of overcoming adversity, and this one starts out ALL ABOUT ADVERSITY.

When we first meet our heroine, Rieta, she is sedated and being led to a graveyard to be buried alive by the man who sold her child into slavery… No, wait, come back! This would be a one issue comic if that played out – there’s more!

AHEM. Where was I? Rieta is saved from being buried alive by a prince with a bad reputation, but it turns out that is a front – there’s a lot more going on than appearances suggest. Prince Killian Axias pretends to be a playboy, but this masks the threat he poses to the current order. Rieta seems like a hapless commoner hollowed out by grief, but has healing powers beyond explanation, raising questions about how she flunked out of religious school. Plague is spreading strangely and with suspicious timing. Magic is real, and is the subject of religious training involving the state church AND ALSO demons. And there is a curse left by a dying princess, which the current royal family is desperate to lift.

While Rieta devotes herself to healing others, the situation around her shifts, clear threats to her life emerge, and new allies refuse to let her give up on living.

The story is engaging and unpredictable, despite themes in common with other manhwa I am reading, such as: secret ancestry, corrupt religious officials, murderous royals, demons with good hair who never skip chest day (or any other day) at the gym, a harem that is not what it appears, curses, and sweet women who can cure plagues. What sets it apart is that it is well written, illustrated in subdued tones, has an unexpectedly reasonable prince, and takes non-obvious plot turns.

Plus, there is a quirk to the illustrations, where side-eye (you know what this is, don’t make me look at you this specific way with scorn) is unduly dramatic, and this delights me.

If I look forward to more even 177 chapters in, it’s good!

Book (Manhwa): In the Bleak Midwinter by Kat, Ali

Cover art for in the Bleak Midwinter on Webtoon

In the Bleak Midwinter
by Kat, Ali
published by Webtoon (37 chapters, ongoing)
2020 – present

Finally, another sci-fi story! YAAAAAAY!

Anya decides to cryogenically sleep for a year to avoid processing grief for her mother and sister in android-related accidents, only to wake up 25 years later in a human-versus-android hellscape.

Worse, the digital readout on her wrist which was counting down the years and minutes until she meets her “soulmate” lights up when she leaves her cryo-pod and sees a man… who immediately shoots her dead.

What the hell? Well, that was a short review, onto the next… wait, she comes back to life? And multiple people are after her as an advantage they could use to win the war they’ve been waging while she slept?

Everyone has Russian names, it snows constantly, Anya has terrible nightmares, and her brother is still a jerk (because some things never change). The art is a mix of video-game textures, eerie lights with convincing halos, and characters that look best straight on or in full profile. I like the eeriness and ambiguity of the characters called The Ten, and Anya’s combination of being terrified yet also being willing to try very risky plans rather than watch other humans die.

Each episode has music, which adds to the mood (but you can keep it very low).

I’m delighted to find a sci-fi story on the Webtoon platform.

Life: I took a vacation

That’s a thing I should do… regularly. I am now vaguely familiar with what it means to be rested. It’s so… novel! So strange!

I posted a list of restaurants I like (despite being a gluten-free vegetarian) in Waikiki on my phone photo blog: you can find details by following the link.

Book (Manhwa): The East Wind of the Altas by Tappytoon Studio, Ziseo

Cover of the East Wind of the Altas from Tappytoon

The East Wind of the Altas
by Tappytoon Studio, Ziseo
published by Tappytoon (chapters 1-50 (season 1); season 2 in progress (ongoing)
2023 – present

I described the setup for this to a friend in a way that made him not want to read it, as the start was a bit grim. I told him a widowed mother of three has to give herself to a violent nobleman to compensate him after he kills his horse to prevent it from crushing her kids… and I lost his interest right there. But there is more to it!

Claire… is not really a widow, the kids aren’t really hers, she is in hiding under a false identity, she is fearless and assertive, she is multilingual (sexy!), and she has pretty eyes and big plans. The violent Marquess Balt (tee hee hee) Morenheitz is handsome, warm, good in bed, looks after her loved ones, and (eventually) is one of the better men in her life. That’s barely a compliment, considering what she’s been through, but she has the usual heroine-making-everyone-love-her qualities of inherent goodness, so when starts enjoying herself with him, we want that for her, even though we don’t know her plans or all of her secrets. Her wanting to enjoy him (for now) is good enough! (Hooray for women enjoying bedtime with fond, handsome men!) We might even root for Balt’s powerful eyebrows when they go to battle for him in season two, though Claire’s many unspilled secrets may defeat them.

Book (Manhwa): The Broken Ring : This Marriage Will Fail Anyway by: CHACHA KIM, CHOKAM, Cheong-gwa

Cover Art for The Broken Ring: This Marriage Will FAIL Anyway

The Broken Ring : This Marriage Will Fail Anyway
by: CHACHA KIM, CHOKAM, Cheong-gwa
published by Tappytoon (chapters 1-65 (2 seasons) with Season 3 starting / ongoing)
2022 – present

This story isn’t what it seems.

At first, it appears that our heroine, six year old Inés Valeztena de Perez, turns down a promise of marriage to the (child) emperor in favor of the (child) Cárcel Escalante because she declares him good looking. How light-hearted! How silly! Sure, she grows up to find Cárcel to be a hopeless womanizer and declares herself indifferent to his antics, but we think we know what is going on.

But. It’s all much harsher and darker than that. And so this is a general spoiler warning, without details, but still a warning. Okay?

This isn’t Inés’ first time living this life.

Her prior efforts to live and fulfill her obligations to her family and empire ended horrifically. They were the stuff of nightmares, and each time her life was unbearable – and short. So this time, when she finds herself back in childhood before her doom was sealed, she decides to chart a new course at age 6 — with the burden of memories of the horrors that befell her, which return to her from time to time. She chooses hapless Cárcel as her future husband ESPECIALLY because he has always been a sweet side character who witnessed her tragic endings, and is surely harmless. He doesn’t even need to love her, and she is determined to feel nothing for him.

Her plans may be complicated, unwittingly, by Cárcel himself, and possibly others. Can she survive? Can she do better than survive? Will Cárcel be an obstacle to her desperate plan, or can he help her finally have a life worth living?

Lovely drawing of our tragic heroine, Inés
Lovely drawing of our traumatized heroine, Inés

I found this series to be a real page-turner. The initially simple-seeming story wasn’t so simple, the way reincarnation is used is different from the other stories I’ve enjoyed, the horrors that Inés experienced were beyond the pale, and her desperation to avoid repeating them is a powerful force. Her determination to survive according to her newest plan appears to be interfering with her success, but considering what she has been through, it’s difficult to blame her!

While feudal Europe is a common setting, this story is set in a fictional version of SPAIN, which is refreshing, and which means everyone has great names! (I’m from California, so obviously we love Spanish names!) Also: excuses to use good lace. (I’m a fan!). Cárcel experiences character growth, or… is it something else? Does he… know something?

The suspense and my hopes for Inés (WITH Cárcel!) have me eager for a non-tragic ending this time around. While this has one of the darker backstories I’ve read in my recent obsession with Korean webtoons (which is really saying something), I’m eager to read the next season!

Note: I’ve been reading the “all ages” version, but there is a sexier mature version available (for sale in Mature mode only, and subject to typical webtoon censorship standards) that I haven’t purchased.