Friday, 13 December 2019

Manga: Seven Deadly Sins 34

Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Estarossa continues his path of destruction with the power of three Commandments and his sights set on more. Against such terrifying strength, both his enemies and former allies realize their only chance of defeating him is to work together. Will their strategy be enough, or does the secret to victory lie with Estarossa's connection to Gowther?
Meanwhile, in Purgatory, Meliodas and Ban resolve to escape and fight their way back to the women they love. With the help of Wild, they gear up for their ultimate stand against the Demon King! 
We have an action packed volume once again, with the action taking place right from the start as our group try to reclaim the Commandments within Estarossa. Elizabeth and Co have quite the fight ahead of them, and it only gets worse as Estarossa transforms in to an even more intimidating foe. 
The volume's full of action as everyone has to throw out some new moves in order to try and defeat him, meaning this volume has a fair bit of tension to it as well as we wait to see whether or not they succeed. Alongside all of that, there's also a little bit of heartbreak in there too for some characters. 
Meanwhile, King undergoes an interesting transformation and I'm excited to see what this is going to mean for him in terms of his powers and what he can do. While we do get a look at one of his new interesting powers, I'm intrigued to see what else he's capable of now. Gowther also gets his moment to shine, which was nice to see. I was excited to get some shards of his past and some more background to he and his creation, as it's an interesting one. 
Of course, while one storyline wraps up, we rejoin Meliodas and Ban and their fight with the Demon Lord. Quite a bit of time has passed for them as they battle him repeatedly, which means we have a bit of a power upgrade. Like King, Ban's powers have morphed and changed and that's one thing about this series. Characters and their powers don't remain stagnant, they develop at a good pace to fit the story and morph at an appropriate time to fit the story.
This particular volume has no dull moments, it's action through and through with characters powers developing more for the next phase of the story and Meliodas and Ban making a return at the end of the volume ready for what's next!

Manga: Skull-Face Bookseller Honda-San

Skull-Face Bookseller Honda-San Vol 1
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Honda might be a skeleton, but that's nowhere near as crazy as working in a Japanese bookstore! Whether it's running the store, dealing with out-of-print books, or handling eccentric customers, the bookstore life is filled with laughter and tears. 

As a bookseller, both previously and now once again, this was a pretty relatable read to be honest! People coming in with photos and Amazon screen shots of what they're after, asking for recommendations and so on. There were so many familiar conversations, that I've found myself having in my time as a bookseller and it added to the enjoyment for me! 

Honda-San was pretty funny too, to be honest he was funnier than I expected him to was the volume. I'm always kind of picky with slice of life's. I don't always get on with them, but I decided to give this one a try because of the bookseller aspect and I'm glad I did take a chance on this one because I enjoyed it an incredible amount! Is it mean to say that I was enjoying it more than I was expecting, even if I wasn't entirely too sure what to expect? I genuinely really enjoyed myself reading this volume. 

It's not only fun to look at the life of a bookseller, but we also got to take a bit of a look at how the manga publishing industry works in Japan, when it comes to selling and supplying it. There was never a dull moment, there were plenty of chuckles, and for me there were a tonne of relatable moments throughout the volume. 

The arts nice, the characters were fun and definitely stand out from the crowd, there were also some great situations and encounters that were interesting to see...and mostly familiar, like I said! 

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Review: Serpent & Dove

Serpent & Dove 
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou's, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou's most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.

It's taken me far too long to write this review up, but it's also taken me time to organise my thoughts in to a semblance of sense otherwise I'd just be screaming about it continuously! The synopsis for this hooked me straight away, but it's one of those books that sounds so unbelievably good, like something you didn't know you've been desperate for until you come across it and you kind of procrastinate reading it because you're worried it won't live up to the hype or you'll read it and then it'll be over far too soon! 

While I had quite high expectations for this book from what everyone had been saying about it, I also wasn't entirely sure exactly what to expect from it, however I was blown away and not at all disappointed upon finishing it. It had so many things that I love in a book and it's one of my favourite books of the year...and of all time. 

There's intrigue from the start as we're thrown in to a vividly brought to life French inspired fantasy world. We're quickly getting to grips with the way the world of this book works and I was so in love with the world and the world building. I was constantly intrigued by the way the world of the book worked, the politics of it and the history of it. Not to mention the magic system with the witches which was fascinating to me and something a little bit different to anything I've read recently. There's two different kinds we're presented with, blood magic and then Lou's kind which asks for something in return for whatever spell you cast, which was interesting to see. Plus there's the whole 'smell of magic' aspect which was quite different! On top of that we've got Morgane le Blanc, and the Chasseurs and I constantly wanted to know more about everything and everyone. The world building was just so rich, it was a world and setting that you could easily fall in to and get lost wandering with the characters. 

The characters were equally as fascinating as the world and the magic system. I was so intrigued by Lou and her past, and eager to know more about her. But I loved her instantly and had no trouble connecting with her, or any of the other characters for that matter. Lou was my favourite, however, and she had me cackling when she was being her wonderfully snarky self with Reid and the other Chasseurs. I just fell in love with her, she's one of my all time favourite characters now, I can't lie! She was just so much fun, and I was right there with her throughout the entire book. 

I also took an instant liking to Coco and I'd love to get to see even more of her in the next book! Her friendship with Lou was another highlight of the book for me, but I'm also incredibly curious about Coco and her magic...and her family. 

When it comes to our other main character, Reid, I wanted to love him but he made it so hard in the beginning. However, that also gave me such a sense of anticipation for when the romance started. We get both Reid and Lou's point of views and when you see their initial chance meetings and interactions I was so ready for the romance to start because I knew sparks were going to fly and I was giddy with anticipation. I did come to see how Reid became the way he was and obviously I ended up loving him too! There were some fantastic plot twists when it came to his character, but I most loved watching him grow closer to Lou and open up to her a little. 

The pace for Serpent & Dove, as well as the romance alongside the plot, was excellent. Everything was built up wonderfully, and all the different elements came together fantastically. There was so much intrigue and mystery woven in to the plot, along with plenty of tension. The plot twists were fantastically timed, and completely mind blowing. The twists would build up and you'd have an epiphany like "oh my God no way, it can't be"...and then be proved instantly right. As for the was slow burn and I was living for it. I loved watching it build up, watching the feelings start to develop and I was in heaven reading this book okay! 

The writing is rich, it draws you in and the world darkens around you as you read and find yourself in the pages of the book. There's strong world building, wonderful characters that you have no issues connecting with and that really bring the story to life. The romance is slow burn and wonderfully done, the pace for the overall book is perfect and I had no trouble binge reading 200 page chunks of this book even though I was supposed to be working on an assignment at the time...oops. The characters are kind of morally grey and there's so many inner struggles and battles of right and wrong that the characters face. They all develop wonderfully, and there's an enemies to lovers romance...what more do you need? 

For the first time in a long time, I had such a book hangover upon finishing this and I'm still sad that it was over. The ending was wonderful, the book was strong right up until the end, and I've been left so eager for more, I can't wait for the sequel! 

Manga: The Alchemist Who Survived Now Dreams of a Quiet City Life

The Alchemist Who Survived Now Dreams of a Quiet City Life Vol 1
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Mariela is the last alchemist alive after waking from a deep sleep that lasted two hundred years. As the sole alchemist in town, she can make a killing from making and selling potions...but after two hundred years of suspended animation, all she wants to do is relax, take things easy, and live at her own pace! 

The prologue gives us a quick intro the world we're going to be inhabiting with this series. What happened, how the alchemy works and so on, all of which was intriguing by the way. Once we've gotten to grips with all that, we're then thrown 200 years in to the future and reintroduced to the world and how things have changed. We're getting to grips with it all along with our main character, so we're not the only ones trying to figure out as we go. So you could see it's quite a fast paced, whirlwind start! 

We soon meet some of the characters in the form of Lynx, Yuric and the other members of the Black Iron Freight Corps, though I wasn't sure whether or not they could be trusted and I spent a lot of this volume side eyeing them. We also meet Seig, whom Mariela rescues, and I did like their growing bond throughout this volume! 

Alongside the fascinating alchemy, there's some interesting creatures and mythology to enjoy as well and you all know how much I live for mythology so it's safe to say I was having more than a little bit of fun reading this initial volume! I was certainly intrigued and pulled in by multiple different aspects to it! 

As for the art, I did enjoy it. It's an art style that I always love in a manga, and the characters are nicely drawn as are the settings. The alchemy in particular was brilliantly drawn! 

This initial volume has a nice pace to it, from Mariela's revival to meeting her new friends and trying to build her new life. Though I'm not sure where this is going so far, the characters are fun and I had a really good time reading this. I'm looking forward to seeing more and to see what will happen, and what direction the story will take!

Sunday, 24 November 2019

Blog Tour: The Sky Weaver

The Sky Weaver 
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Safire, a soldier, knows her role in this world is to serve the King of Firgaard-helping to maintain the peace in her oft-troubled nation.

Eris, a deadly pirate, has no such conviction. Known as The Death Dancer for her ability to evade even the most determined of pursuers, she possesses a superhuman ability to move between worlds.

When one can roam from dimension to dimension, can one ever be home? Can love and loyalty truly exist?

Then Safire and Eris-sworn enemies-find themselves on a common mission: to find Asha, the last Namsara.

From the port city of Darmoor to the fabled faraway Sky Isles, their search and their stories become threaded ever more tightly together as they discover the uncertain fate they're hurtling towards may just be a shared one. In this world, and the next. 

I'm going to say it....I think this might be my favourite book in the trilogy!? It has everything I love in books...combined in to one book! We've got pirates, dragons and Gods and I was absolutely loving it as I was reading, and as much as I loved the first book this is at least tied with it, if not above it! 

Just a reminder, these books are stand alone books even though it is a trilogy, and you can read the three books in any order you like but I personally think it's best to read them in order! Especially as this one brings everything to such a fantastic close! On to the actual review....

We have a dual POV in this book, Safire and Eris. We've already met Safire before, and after first meeting her in The Last Namsara I had wanted to see more of her...and this book delivers on that! We also get to see some more of Asha and Torwin which I was extra excited about. I love Safire and her loyalty and love for Asha, as well as her determination and strong sense of justice. She's also such a badass too, it has to be said! 

Then we have Eris who's a thief and a pirate! She's got a seriously cool power and was incredibly intriguing. I loved her personality and her banter with Safire, but I also felt quite sad for Eris. She feels very alone in the world, and like no-one cares for her, and so why should she care for others and it was so lovely to see Safire become closer to her and change that and prove to her that she isn't alone. I knew I was going to love Eris from the moment we met her, and I so thoroughly enjoyed the banter she and Safire had and I loved the dynamics between the two of them. I was practically squealing with glee as I was reading, and so ready for the romance to develop. Hello enemies to lovers! 

Alongside our two wonderful main characters, as I said, we get some more of Asha and Torwin and more so than the previous book I think! We also get more of Roa and Dax, and although I knew why Dax was behaving the way he was...I can't say I wasn't disappointed in him and wanting to smack him up the back of the head at one point. We also get possibly my favourite dragon, Sorrow, who bless him is a little wary of people and has been through some things and is still struggling with that and I was here for Safire becoming closer with him and bonding with him! 

As well as our dual narratives, in true Ciccarelli fashion, we have another story woven in between those chapters all about the book's namesake and Gods and so on. I honestly love this aspect of the storytelling when it comes to these books, it has a real old legend, folk tale feel to it that I love but I also love that it gives you these little pieces of a story for you to put together and try and figure out what's going on with it and how it's going to fit in with the main story and impact it. This one in particular, had me changing my opinion/theories multiple times and as we ramped up towards the end of the book, there were so many twists to it that had me screeching at the reveals! 

The Sky Weaver is fantastically written as always, the little slices of the Weaver's story slotting in nicely with the narratives of Safire and Eris. The pace is fantastic, and it ramps up even  more towards the end with the shorter chapters at one point adding to it even more so and having you frantically turning pages as you switch from POV to POV. There's wonderful banter, plenty of action, mystery and legend as well as sea creatures, Gods, dragons and pirates! Oh and did I mention the romance? Because the romance was just...*chefs kiss* 

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Manga: The Heroic Legend of Arslan 11

The Heroic Legend of Arslan Vol 11
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

After Gieve leaves under fraught circumstances, Arslan and the Parsian army are finally ready to march to the capital of Ecbatana. Guiscard and the Lusitanian government have their own plans, but Pars finds victory in their first encounter thanks, once again to Narsus's brilliant foresight and strategy. However, an unexpected run-in with Lusitanian scouts forces Arslan and his allies into a bloody battle neither side is prepared for. After the prince finds himself locked in conflict with Etoile, he faces a dilemma: How does one treat an enemy who would rather die for their beliefs than receive any form of mercy? 

We open the volume with tension as Gieve picks a fight and swords are drawn. However, it ends quite devastatingly, at least for me as Gieve is my favourite, as we lose Gieve. However, we're also off to battle in this volume, so there's a lot to focus on besides being sad about the lack of Gieve. 

I have to say, some of Arslan's men/Officers really need their heads banging together and I was happy to oblige at one point in this volume! Luckily we have Narsus to teach a lesson, and make sure everything is in order. 

Throughout this volume, we go from battle to battle as Arslan and his army march to Ecbatana and we encounter fortresses along the way. As you can then imagine, we have quite a lot of action and fight scenes throughout this volume, as well as some interesting twists, a fantastic reveal and a meeting between two characters that I've been anticipating since early on in the series! There's a lot going on in this volume, and a lot to keep you occupied so it's once again a shame that it has to come to an end and we have to start the wait for the next volume! 

Alongside all of that, we have a fascinating conversation between Arslan and Etoile that lends some weight to the volume, and we get to know Etoile a lot better too which should herald Etoile having a bigger role to play in the coming volumes. I'm quite looking forward to getting to know Etoile more, and seeing more interactions between them! In addition, we also get a closer look at Luisitania, it's motivations and its faith and so on...a closer look at the enemy if you will. 

As Arslan marches to Ecbatana, we lose one character and gain another as all of our characters move around the board with plenty of action and humour to keep us invested in the story. Things are heating up once again! 
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