Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Review: The Secret Chapter

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

A Librarian’s work is never done, and once Irene has a quick rest after their latest adventure, she is summoned to the Library. The world where she grew up is in danger of veering deep into chaos, and she needs to obtain a particular book to stop this from happening. No copies of the book are available in the Library, so her only choice is to contact a mysterious Fae information broker and trader of rare objects: Mr. Nemo.

Irene and Kai make their way to Mr. Nemo’s remote Caribbean island and are invited to dinner, which includes unlikely company. Mr. Nemo has an offer for everyone there: he wants them to steal a specific painting from a specific world. He swears that he will give each of them an item from his collection if they bring him the painting within the week.

Everyone takes the deal. But to get their reward, they will have to form a team, including a dragon techie, a Fae thief, a gambler, a driver, and the muscle. Their goal? The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, in a early twenty-first century world, where their toughest challenge might be each other. 

I. Love. This. Series. I say this every single time I review a book from this series, but there's never a bad book. Each book brings something new to the series, has a different vibe to it, and is a strong addition to the series, and The Secret Chapter is no exception. 

The attention grabbing first line had me happily sinking back in to the world of the Invisible Library and this time our adventure had some James Bond vibes to it, along with an Ocean's Eleven kind of vibe and I was living for it. 

The world that we visit in this  one is an interesting one, we've got a law enforcement branch called CENSOR that's in charge of dealing with supernaturals to contend with. Plus we have an interesting bunch of new characters and I found myself quite liking a few of them. We've got the fae, Ernst, Felix, Jerome and Tina, then we have a new dragon with ties to Kai in the form of Indigo who has a very interesting backstory. 

I actually ended up really liking all of the new fae and I became quite attached to them so I was sad to see one of them go, and sad that we might not get to see anymore of the others. I'm quite hoping they'll pop up and we'll get to see them again in future books! They were all a lot of fun, and had very different personalities to them dependent on their fae arch-type so they made for a great bunch of characters to assist in this heist! 

There's plenty of action, plenty of plotting and intrigue as we get to grips with the new world...and the shadiness of the mission. The romance between Irene and Kai never once overshadows the story. It's there, but it's in the background and subtle. I appreciate the fact that just because they're involved with each other, they don't merge in to one unit and go along with whatever the other wants. They both get involved in this mission for different reasons, and they stick to their own agendas even if that means keeping secrets. 

Obviously we have a lot of information on the library and how it works and so on, as well as a fair bit on the fae, this book takes us in the direction of the dragons which I was incredibly excited to discover. We get a lot of interesting information about the dragons, how they think and operate and a little about their history too. There's even some questions raised about them and their politics, and as I said...I was interested to meet Indigo! 

The ending leaves us with a couple of revelations that are going to be exciting and possibly dangerous to see play out in upcoming books, and I can't wait to see how they play out. My mind was completely blown and now I have even more questions than I did before, but I wouldn't have it any other way! I'm also intrigued to meet Silver's niece in the next book and see what she adds to our little group. The Secret Chapter is another exciting and rich instalment in the series, and each book builds brilliantly upon the others and brings more to the table. 

Friday, 20 December 2019

Manga: I'm Standing On A Million Lives 3

I'm Standing on a Million Lives Vol 3 
Rating: 3/5 
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

The ever-calculating Yotsuya carries out an unheroic act of vengeance, and the players successfully manage to complete their quest. Their victory allows them to ask the Game Master a single question, and the truth about the world they've been sent to is revealed. But when he learns that this strange new world isn't as virtual as he believed, Yotsuya is forced to confront the consequences of his actions...

The volume opens with the moment we've all been waiting for...Yotsuya and Tokitate carry out Yotsuya's plot of vengeance against their betrayers, and he's not particularly bothered that he's going to have to level down to achieve it. I've got to say, it was a wonderful moment to see and perfectly executed. 

However, their clash with the soldiers of Deokk draws the attention of Deokk's monarch. It turns out the heroes are supposed to be neutral, and now they're worried that Kamilto and his men have drawn their ire to more than just them which adds a sense of the ominous to the volume although considering the time twist I'm not sure whether we'll see this play out at all...or if it's something that'll be lying in wait for upcoming volumes. 

While one quest may be completed there's another still to tick off but time is running out, as the volume reminds us more than once with the repetition of the time left to complete said quest. This serves to ramp up the tension in the volume as we're left to wonder if they'll complete it on time. Not to mention we have the snow storm messing with their revival and bringing it down to the wire. 

I still don't particularly like Tokitate, she's the only one that I don't really like to be honest. But she manages to grow a little bit of a backbone to carry on with the quest and she causes us to meet the mysterious Fatina. It remains to be seen whether or not we'll be seeing her again in coming volumes, but I suspect the chances of it are high! I'm excited to see more of Fatina and find out what her deal is, as I have a few suspicions about her and a lot of questions. 

While we have a new mystery in the form of Fatina, an old mystery is solved as we finally get some more answers about the world and how it works. I haven't quite decided if I'm surprised or not about the answer, but the shock reveal provokes some interesting reactions and thoughts in Yotsuya which aren't necessarily the ones I was expecting. I was surprised to see him freak out a little bit over his actions, I wasn't sure he'd be even remotely effected, if I'm an honest. But of course he goes right back to being his usual self and I'm enjoying how morally grey he is. 

Getting some answers not only means we get to start a new round but it means we get to meet the newest player. His name is Keita and our first meeting with him is..wild to say the least. As if we didn't have enough tension and danger in these volumes, he throws us a little bit more! I'm yet to decide if I like him, so we'll see how the next volume goes! 

The beginning of a new round brings some slight changes. Revival time goes up as is to be expected, but there's a new feature for our group to travel. The beginning of the new round brings us a few surprises as well as a new quest, and the implications for future rounds are intriguing. We do take a little interlude to get the lowdown on what's been going on since they last visited, and again, there's more threads of plot that could come in to play more fully in future volumes. 

The new quest is an interesting one that I can't wait to dive in to more fully in the next volume, but there's a sinister, snakey guy with the potential to ruin it all! As one quest wraps up and we embark on a new one, the pace for this series shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. Each quest is a decent length, giving enough time to get everything done, help us get to know the characters further and the new characters being brought in without having the story drag on for too long and we don't waste any time before moving on to the next one! 

Thursday, 19 December 2019

Manga: Boarding School Juliet 8

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

The annual Dahlia Academy School Festival is in full swing, and the day Inuzuka has been waiting for has finally arrived: he gets to go on a festival-patrolling date with his beloved Persia! But for these star-crossed lovers, nothing is ever as easy as it seems, and when an unexpected visitor suddenly arrives for Persia, the two are reminded of just how forbidden their secret relationship is...
Can Inuzuka's and Persia's love prevail, or is the idea of a White Cat and a Black Doggy living happily ever after nothing more than a fool's errand? 
You might recall the misunderstanding that was taking place at the end of the last volume, leaving us all on a cliffhanger? Well we open this volume with the fall out from that and we finally get some answers as to why Maru is so obsessed with Julio! I've got to say, I've liked slowly getting to see more of Maru, and slowly getting to see a slightly softer side to him than the image he portrays. 
There's plenty of hilarity to the volume as we experience the final day of the school festival and get to sample the fun that it has to offer before it starts to draw to a close. The arrival of Persia's mother makes it all the more dramatic and makes for a fun surprise, at least for us! It was interesting to me, to see what Persia's mother is like, but she has an ominous story to tell. The story of a previous Black Doggy/White Cat couple and the consequences of their relationship shakes Romio and Persia, but may also be a little bit of foreshadowing for coming volumes. 
This volume introduces us to new character Kogi, Hasuki's younger brother. I'm not going to lie, he reminded me a little bit of Edward Elric what with how salty he is about his height. He's adorably protective of his older sister, however, and gives Inuzuka a bit of a wake up call as to how his friendship with her has deteriorated a little bit and as to how she feels about things. 
We have a smidge of ridiculousness thrown in to this volume too, relatable as Persia is in the midst of it. Things take an interesting and exciting turn towards the end of the volume as winter break rolls around. Persia has decided to travel with Inuzuka to his home, and she gets to experience Touwa meaning that we get to do the same! It's quite exciting to see a setting other than the school, and to get to experience one of the countries involved in this rivalry. But Persia going with him adds a sense of jeopardy to the whole trip as we wait to see if they can pull it off or if she'll be discovered! Alongside all of that we get to meet a few more new characters as we meet and get to know Inuzuka's family! I've been curious about their families, and it's a nice touch to do both introductions in the same volume! 

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Manga: Hitorijime My Hero 5

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

Kousuke surprises Masahiro by inviting him out on a spur-of-the-moment road trip. And when they arrive at the hot springs, things get pretty steamy...! As Masahiro gets to know how deep Kousuke's love is for him, he also begins to wonder about what he's missing, as Kousuke's mysterious past tugs at him. Meanwhile, dark clouds loom over Asaya and Kensuke's relationship... 

What a volume this is, the first thing I'm going to say is...beware the ending of this volume because it's intense! 

Not long in to the volume we have Masahiro and Kousuke talk things out after the events of the past volume and they're back on track in no time...or are they? 

While the pair of them head off on a little trip before Kousuke gets busy with work, Masahiro is still brooding over Natsuo and his relationship with Kousuke. But they're not the only ones with trouble on the horizon. Kensuke and Asaya have been our one couple that hasn't had any trouble just yet. They're cute, and adorable...until now. This volume brings some trouble for the pair of them which leads to an interesting situation. 

This volume has the drama slowly building up. On the surface, everything's fine but Natsuo and his past with Kousuke is festering away at Masahiro and it's making things a little awkward on their trip. Both couples relationship problems come to a head at the hot springs and the end of the final chapter had me screeching. Just as things are getting good, just as I was like 'omg omg omg omg' the volume came to a close leaving us on one hell of a cliffhanger and now we have to wait for the next volume. 

Monday, 16 December 2019

Manga: In/Spectre 10

In/Spectre Vol 10 
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

It's been nearly a year, and Kotoko has yet to find Rikka Sakuragawa. Little does she know that Rikka has recently moved into a nice little apartment that came at a very affordable price...because it's thought to be cursed! What is causing the series of suicides in her new home? And can Kotoko catch her before she goes on the run again? 
The opening for this particular volume is somewhat ominous, yet it also lends a sense of curiosity and anticipation to the volume as we flashback in time for the rest of the volume to find out how our characters reached the place they're at for the start of the volume. 
The hunt is on for Rikka, Kuro's cousin, and we get a little bit of insight in to Kotoko's relationship with her. Interestingly we do get Rikka's POV for a little while, and it was intriguing to see things from her side and to see how she ticks a little bit. Thanks to Rikka we get up close and personal with a 'cursed' apartment, providing us with some shocking moments that merge smoothly in to hilarious ones. 
Once we do rejoin Kotoko and Kuro, there's plenty more of Kotoko releasing her inner Sherlock Holmes with a supernatural twist as usual. What I have been noticing in more recent volumes, this one in particular highlighted it for me, is that as much as Kuro says mean things and is quite gruff...we're seeing more and more little gestures from him and some sweet small moments between the two of them. 
This volume allows us to delve more in to Kotoko's past as we see the president of the mystery club, Manabu, once again courtesy of his uncle digging around. So we get to venture back to her high school days before taking on a new case. The first half of the volume is essentially setting the scene and building up to the next big mystery that Kotoko will face, and the next clash for she and Rikka. Said mystery is a good old fashioned murder mystery, with three heirs having to prove how someone committed a murder which should be interesting to watch play out and I can't wait to see how Kotoko handles this though as the judge it places her in a difficult position. 
There's a lot of groundwork laid in this volume, but it's still got its fantastic twists that keep you on the edge of your seat and have you gasping in shock when something's revealed. There's also still plenty of Sherlockian deducing from Kotoko and a nice progression with she and Kuro! Volume 10 is another strong volume that starts to lay the foundations for the next volume! 

Manga: Royal Tutor 12

The Royal Tutor Vol 12
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review!

When Leonhard receives an invitation to the Kingdom of Fonseine from Prince Claude, the princes set off on their first big trip together. Will this trip give Leonhard the opportunity to put his new language skills to some good use, or will he sink to his usual aggression? 

Kai makes his grand return in this volume, and it was nice to see the brothers together once again! But I particularly liked getting to see some more interaction and banter between Heine and Viktor, as well as getting to know Viktor a little bit better as we get to see what it was like for him when he became a King so young. 

It was nice to get to see Claude again as well, as the Princes take a little trip. There's more signs of how far Leonhard has come, as it seems he's been studying. It even pays off as Heine gives him the responsibility of translating on their trip, and I have to say...I was incredibly proud of Leonhard! He's had some brilliant character development. 

I enjoyed the interactions between Claude and the Princes, he's kind of adorable, so much so that Leonhard can't say his piece to him! But poor Claude is worried the Princes won't be friends with him if he doesn't end up marrying Adele, and that they're only being nice to him because of that, bless him. It was a realistic worry, but it also made me feel for him so badly. I'm looking forward to hopefully getting to see more of him. 

Because we're visiting Claude, that means that we get to explore a new part of the world of this series which is something I'm always excited for! In this case, we're exploring Fonsein and it's city of Fleur. You can see hints of Paris in it, and it was exciting to get to see a new setting. 

We've already seen Leonhard's blossoming friendship with Claude, so it was nice to see that go further as they overcome their troubles about the betrothal and their worries about it. It was also nice to see the other Princes bonding with him and I'm hopeful for more interactions amongst them. 

Of course Licht doesn't take part in the trip, we do get to spend some time with him as we have a bit of a mystery to solve. Licht and his boss are having a bit of a problem at the cafe, with a few 'pranks' being pulled on them. Which of course coincides with the opening of the second cafe location. While we see an old face in the form of Claude, we get a new face this volume as well as we meet Herman who's going to be the manager of the second shop. 

Viktor isn't the only character that we get some more insight in to this volume either, we get a chance to know Licht's boss a little better too. How he came to own the cafe, the struggles he had with starting it up and so on. I like the fact that we get to know some of the side characters just as well as our main characters throughout this series, particularly those that we do get to see quite often! 

While this volume is fairly light hearted with lots of hilarity courtesy of Viktor and the Princes, and is relaxed for the most part, towards the end it takes a turn for the serious as Maximilian ends up hurt as he has to protect Licht. The vendetta against the Cafe Mitter Meyer is upped from the harmless annoyances we'd seen initially, to something a little more serious on the eve of the second locations grand opening which adds a splash of action, intrigue and danger to the volume. 

With both cafes closed until further notice, the boss and Herman set out to do a little private investigation in to the culprit. Excluded from the investigation because of his Princely status, Licht isn't particularly happy. He just wants to help, and we end the volume on a rather tense note as he vents his frustrations about the Kingdom and its social stations meaning the next volume should have a very interesting opening and we have an investigation to look forward to! 

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