Friday, 15 June 2018

Manga: Baccano 3

Baccano! Vol 3
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy! 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Firo's big day has come, and everyone's enjoying the celebration--Isaac and Miria so much so that they've had a bit of a change of heart! If one criminal syndicate is just too nice to rob, then surely another will do...Meanwhile, Szilard learns that the object of his search is right under his nose. Soon nothing will stand between him and ultimate knowledge...! 
The day is finally here, Firo has his ceremony and becomes an Executive, so there's celebrations all round, including Miria and Isaac....and me. Unfortunately Dallas and co are after Firo, and the Gandor brothers return to see the damage...and they aren't happy. 
There's ominous undertones to the story from the start, thanks to the voice over/narrations added in. It's all to do with that box, and every time I saw it, or a piece fell in to place, I could start to form an image of what was going to happen and my brain was screaming NO, fora large part of the volume. Everything really starts to converge in this volume and come together. 
I have to say, I want to shake Ennis so bad. I wanted to like her, but she's on the wrong side and she's kind of an idiot, like I get why she is, but she was so frustrating for me! My hatred for Szilard literally knows no bounds with this volume. 
Miria and Isaac have grown on me so freaking much, and actually really love them! So I was screaming at them not to go to a certain place! They're just funny, and bless them...they really do try and do the right thing and try to help their new friends. 
This volume moves quickly and there's a lot of tension and action throughout. There's some heart breaking and heart stopping moments but in the end everything is wrapped up nicely! I have to say it's a satisfying end for the characters, and one I kind of didn't see coming so I shrieked a lot when I read certain chapters! 

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Review: Brightly Burning

Brightly Burning
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Seventeen-year-old Stella Ainsley wants just one thing: to go somewhere—anywhere—else. Her home is a floundering spaceship that offers few prospects, having been orbiting an ice-encased Earth for two hundred years. When a private ship hires her as a governess, Stella jumps at the chance. The captain of the Rochester, nineteen-year-old Hugo Fairfax, is notorious throughout the fleet for being a moody recluse and a drunk. But with Stella he’s kind.

But the Rochester harbors secrets: Stella is certain someone is trying to kill Hugo, and the more she discovers, the more questions she has about his role in a conspiracy threatening the fleet. 

I'm going to straight up tell you guys that Brightly Burning is a retelling of Jane Eyre and I had to read the original when I was in school....and I actually liked it okay!? So I was super eager to get my hands on this and I eagerly dove in and read it in one go. Because I have no self control, and it was really entertaining! 

I loved Stella immediately, she loves book, she's bold and she had a nice attitude. She wouldn't be walked all over and she was intelligent and I was fully on Team Stella. Hugo...I knew I was going to like him from his first line. He and Stella bond over their love of books, but he can't really handle his alcohol....not that you can blame him for drinking to be honest. He's also kinda relatable because he also prefers to be alone! Shoutout to Rori, the ships AI, because she was a brilliant touch! 

The other characters are an eclectic yet brilliant bunch, Iris, Sergei, Orion, Jon, Bianca (who I was prepared to hate and kind of did in the beginning but she turned it around in the end), I loved getting to know them and they brought some fun and life to the story. 

Brightly Burning is a brilliant reimagining/twist on Jane Eyre and I loved it, I dived in with high expectations and it exceeded all of them. I loved how things where twisted and changed and I loved anytime I spotted something or a reference to the original! I freaking loved The Rochester too, it had brilliantly creepy vibes at points. 

The world building was very well done and it was an intriguing world too, the set up with the whole "is Earth inhabitable? Do we go back down or carry on floating up here?" complete with a shady government dude. Which added a tonne of intrigue along with the mystery with the virus and the Rochester and so on. For me, it was an original/unique world and I liked the detail and depth it had, as did the characters. 

Brightly Burning has a fast pace, and there's never a dull moment. I got fully hooked and read it in one go, the plot kept me reading, as did the romance and the humour. It was a wild ride and it kept me fully entertained and I shouted at the books multiple times whenever a twist happened. Some of them may have been a smidge predictable, but it was still an entertaining and enjoyable read! I have to say, the story was beautifully wrapped up too....although I think there's room for a sequel, and I wouldn't say no to one! 

Manga: The Devil is a Part-Timer 11

The Devil is a Part-Timer Vol 11
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Chiho has collapsed, and Maou and company have figured out that it must be the work of an Angel. The only thing left to figure out is whether they're holed up in Tokyo Tower or the Sky Tree. When the group finally finds whoever's responsible for hurting their friend, the ultimate Maou/Alciel combo is going to paint the town red! 
Every time I read a volume of this series, I lament the fact that it still hasn't gotten a second season of really is such a gem and this volume is no exception. 
Volume 11 opens with quite the battle...I mean, shopping trip. You could be forgiven for the mistake with how our little group, some more than others, carries on! They quite brutally exposed sales people and their methods....I've worked in 3 different stores and can confirm the accuracy of their statements too. *nervous chuckle* I have to say, much as I love Maou....Ashiya continues to be my favourite because of situations exactly like in this volume. He just cracks me up. 
Speaking of Maou....he's suprisingly perceptive, even if he goes about voicing it the wrong way. I mean, we all know Rika has a thing for Ashiya. Unfortunately Maou has a tendency to be a bit too blunt about things, and Suzuno....well she gets a bit violent because of it. They do have quite an interesting discussion about what they are and what they should do with erasing Chi's memories and so on. They got quite deep actually, I didn't think Maou was quite capable of that! 
It's actually quite nice to see Suzuno has gotten to know Maou and co well enough to know he isn't behind what's happened to Chiho, it saves us quite a bit of time. It really hit me in the feels this volume, how far their bond as a group has come! 
We're straight in to the next story arc this volume, Raguel has made his move, and it isn't long before the gang figures out he's after Emilia's mother, Laila. There's some interesting reveals about Emilia and her family that leaves her (and us) with a lot to think about. Alongside that we get a nice bit of action as Maou Devils-out and goes up against Raguel and Gabriel! 
I have to say, Gabriel is so irritating and he's not above getting a verbal jab in at any of the demons. He also drops loads of hints, like okay mate, have a day off. *Eye roll*. 
Volume 11 is fast paced, with the usual doses of humour that have you laughing out loud, as well as some drama and action...and some twists and developments to liven things up. There's a particular development with Chiho that could prove to be interesting...things have certainly picked back up for this series!

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Review: The Queens of Fennbirn

The Queens of Fennbirn
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Uncover the sisters’ origins, dive deep into the catastrophic reign of the Oracle Queen, and reveal layers of Fennbirn’s past, hidden until now.

The Young Queens

Get a glimpse of triplet queens Mirabella, Arsinoe, and Katharine during a short period of time when they protected and loved one another. From birth until their claiming ceremonies, this is the story of the three sisters’ lives…before they were at stake.

The Oracle Queen

Everyone knows the legend of Elsabet, the Oracle Queen. The one who went mad. The one who orchestrated a senseless, horrific slaying of three entire houses. But what really happened? Discover the true story behind the queen who could foresee the future…just not her own downfall. 

I have been so ready for this novella bind up to flesh things out some more and just take me back to the world of the series while I wait for the next book! For those of you who don't know, this book is two novella's in one and I'm gonna review each one individually! 

The Young Queens
This is a prequel of sorts, and I'm guessing the main purpose of it was to flesh out some of what we already know! For instance, we get to see the Queens when they where younger and find out more about their backgrounds, as well as that are fleshed out more. I feel like Camille is more real for me after reading this, and I feel like the world has been expanded upon a bit more! This novella basically provides more detail for us, and things we've been curious about. 

We follow the same narrative style as the other books, so we switch POV's between different characters which I actually really liked because it kept it fresh and helped you delve in to each of the characters. Of course we get to discover more about Jules and her younger self too, not just the Queens, we get to see how she met her familiar and what happened when she first met Arsinoe. And speaking of the Queens....seeing how they interacted as girls together, before being separated, was actually really interesting. 

This one is actually kind of heart breaking, because there's always been this question of how exactly did Arsinoe and Katharine get switched, and this novella answers that and it was actually quite a sad opening scene with Queen Camille. 

Interestingly we get to see some of the injustices of the Poisoner's being in power for so long. I have to say...Natalia really does intrigue me, and I really can't quite bring myself to dislike her (I have written down in my notes before I read the second novella). We also get to see some more of Madrigal, who I didn't really care for after what she did in the first book, and this novella serves to make me like her even less. 

Oh, we meet Willa in this novella too, which I really loved because I'd been super curious about who raised the girls until they left and got separated and so on and I was really invested in her POV and her story. 

Overall, we get to see the girls at various different intervals, how they grew up and we get more depth to events that have been well as having a mystery solved! It's a nice addition to the canon to flesh out the world and the characters a bit more! 

The Oracle Queen
Okay, so the Oracle Queen has been mentioned multiple times throughout the main series and I don't know about you guys, but I've always been super curious about her and felt like her story had to be told at some point...and here we are. I think this is my favourite of the two novellas. I got so invested in to it, and it made me so ragey. 

We meet Queen Elsabet, the last Seer Queen...the rhyme about her is even mentioned in the previous novella. There's so much deceit and backstabbing in this tiny, tiny little novella, not to mention all the politics and the general shadiness between the different groups. It was interesting to see how the different groups interacted with each other though. 

I have to say...I knew Gilbert was shady AF right from the start, I don't know if that makes me jaded or what, but I didn't trust him further than I could throw him. I was disappointed but not at all surprised in him. William I just didn't like at all. Sorry dude. It reached a point in this novella when I was kind of wary of Bess and Jonathan too which they didn't really deserve. 

This volume we meet Natalia's ancestor....Francesca. Oh how I hated her. This novella made me so sad, I could see in my minds eye what was going to happen and how they'd twist things. It was like being on a rollercoaster and anticipating the drop. You knew it was coming, and you're speeding towards it but you can't do anything about it other than brace. I felt so damn bad for Elsabet and Rosamund and Bess.....and I felt so much rage towards Francesca and the Arrens. I feel like this novella has changed how I look at the Arrens for now. I kinda want them to suffer. 

Considering the behaviour of certain male characters in the main series, I could see what was going on with Francesca and the Consort a mile off. Again....disappointed but not surprised. I think because I kind of like Natalia, I was like...Francesca can't be that bad. Oh how wrong I was. 

For a novella, it really painted the character of Elsabet perfectly...even if she herself wasn't quite the perfect Queen. You got to know her really well and despite her faults you could empathise with her. It was a wild ride, filled with politics and betrayal and treachery and it was actually quite juicy, let's be real! 

Manga: Kiss Me At The Stroke Of Midnight 5

Kiss Me at the Stroke of Midnight Vol 5
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

After seeing Kaede at Lockheart Castle, Hinana rests assured that her beloved has eyes only for her... until a surprise visit from Kaede's manager brings some unexpected news. Kaede's ex-girlfriend is still in love with him, and she's decided to try to get him back! 

The volume opens a little bit after the events of last volume. Nana has a run in with Kaede's manager, Shige, and he gives her some disturbing news....mainly that Shu, Kaede's ex, is after him. Just the thing she wanted to hear...not. I was actually starting to like Shige but now I'm kind of side eyeing him a bit. 

Akira is actually a really good friend, despite how he feels about Nana personally, he still dishes out solid advice to her and I have to respect him for that. I wouldn't say I'm rooting for him...but I do hope he gets a happy ending too. I have a feeling we'll be seeing a lot more of him in coming volumes though. 

Shu makes her move, and so we get to see a lot of her in this volume, but our main man Kaede actually says and does the right things. He's considerate of how Nana would feel, and what would upset her (colour me surprised), so there shouldn't be a problem....right? Kaede has us on a bit of a seesaw this volume. He did all the right things in the beginning but by the second chapter he started to get sucked in and you're kind of like, "No...don't do it...." but then he turns around and surprises you, but then something semi shady happens again and you're like "" but then he does the right thing...again. 

It's not like the usual where the dude is dumb and doesn't get how the girl would feel. I keep waiting for him to do something shady but as much as your stomach drops and you're like "oh no" he turns round and sorts it all out so it's not shady/wrong. Like with Shu staying over...he slept in his car. The situations are there but he's loyal. 

The thing is....I don't trust Shu, I think she's shady so I didn't believe a word she said. Then there was a split second when you thought she wouldn't be a total cow...but she did the mean thing in the end. Plus Mitsuki is like the old witch stirring the pot and cackling in Snow White. 

We actually get some more insight in to Kaede and how he feels and what it was like for him in Funny Bone. 

The story really moves forward this volume, the game is being stepped up and things are getting juicy! We have Akira finally stepping up and throwing himself in to the mix as he can't sit back any longer. The knowledge that Akira has confessed to Nana lowkey sends Kaede over the edge. Kaede...well he's definitely struggling and Nana is too, and we end with quite the cliffhanger as Shu makes a threat. 

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Review: Arrowheart

Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

The gods are gone. 
The people have forgotten them. 
But sixteen-year-old Rachel Patel can't forget - the gods control her life, or more specifically, her love life.

Being a Hedoness, one of a strong group of women descended from Greek God Eros, makes true love impossible for Rachel. She wields the power of that magical golden arrow, and with it, the promise to take the will of any boy she kisses. But the last thing Rachel wants is to force someone to love her . . .

When seventeen-year-old Benjamin Blake's disappearance links back to the Hedonesses, Rachel's world collides with his, and her biggest fear becomes a terrifying reality. She's falling for him - a messy, magnetic, arrow-over-feet type of fall.

Rachel distances herself, struggling to resist the growing attraction, but when he gives up his dream to help her evade arrest, distance becomes an insurmountable task. With the police hot on their trail, Rachel soon realizes there are darker forces hunting them - a group of mortals recruited by the gods who will stop at nothing to preserve the power of the Hedonesses - not to mention Eros himself, who is desperate to reverse the curse . . .

Rachel must learn to do what no Hedoness has done before - to resist her gift - or she'll turn the person she's grown to love into a shadow of himself ... for ever. 

I'm sure you guys know by soon as I see the words "Greek Gods" I'm in. If there's mythology, I'm all over it. Throw in some interesting quirks and something a little bit different and I'm totally here for it. I'm not going to lie, I read this in one go and I regret nothing. 

Arrowheart hooked me from the start, and I was so ready to sit glued to this book. I had snacks and everything! The world of this book is an interesting one, St Valentines is a school for all the Hedonesses but reading about it via felt like quite a stifling environment. I liked that Rachel didn't glorify her gift, she pointed out the wrongness of it which was interesting to me, because usually it's like "Look at my awesome power, let's ignore how wrong and immoral it is". 

I really felt for Rachel throughout the book, she's so stifled by her environment. She doesn't want this gift, she doesn't want to use it, and everyone's shoving it down her throat. I empathised with her so much, and she tries so hard to do the right thing. Then when things with Kyle happened my heart broke for her. I loved him and he was hilarious and I'm hoping to see more of him next book...but my heart ached for Rachel. For me, it was really easy to root for Rachel and support her throughout and I loved having her as an MC. 

You know who I didn't like? Marissa. She was my one issue with this book because honestly she was such a silly cow...and kind of dumb because she got them in to such a mess. Like the whole situation is entirely her fault and I felt like she really didn't care at all. I got so frustrated with her so many times I just couldn't feel sorry for and I do feel kind of bad because I think I was supposed to but...I couldn't relate to her and I really didn't like her as a character. What I'm hoping that she'll be redeemed in the next book because I think things from this book shook her up a bit. It's just...she's supposed to be Rachel's friend but she really doesn't act like it. 

On the romance front, I shipped Ben and Rachel so much, their banter was so amusing. I couldn't quite work him and his motivation out in the beginning but it all becomes clear. He really doesn't give up at all, and he's a lot less mad at Rachel than anyone else would have been at the end, I think! I  liked that he made some effort to understand Rachel and he let her explain things. Oh and I have to give a quick shout out to Eros because he was hilarious and interesting...and more of him please! 

I got such strong Percy Jackson vibes from this book for some reason, even though it wasn't remotely similar...perhaps it was the group of teens out on a quest vibe? 

Arrowheart is a wild ride with plenty of twists and turns, action and romance to keep you hooked. It's easy to binge read and get completely absorbed in because it's a lot of fun! It's an original and fun idea, well thought out and it personally made me think a lot. There's an emphasis on choices in this book that's hard to ignore. The world building is well executed and we even have a super shady organisation that I'm curious about and resent on Rachel's behalf at the same time. 

When I read this...I had assumed it was a standalone book, so as I was reading the final few pages I was preparing to write some notes on how well wrapped up the story was and so on...but Sky was like "bitch you thought" and threw in one last twist that had me screeching because hello cliffhanger! And you know...the wait for book two and I just...whyyyyyy! 

No, for real, I'm actually super excited for book two because after certain....developments it's going to be interesting to see how Rachel and co handle things and what the Committees end game is here...I have a suspicion but we'll see! I also feel like book two is going to give us different vibes from this book!

If you're looking for a fun and entertaining read, with interesting mythology and some adventure, this is the read for you! 
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