Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Manga: Sword Art Online Hollow Realization 3

Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization Vol 3
Rating: 3/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

When Kirito, Asuna, Silica, and Premiere are sucked into a world where dark elves and demons abound, the four head to the Forest of the Holy Tree, which has been tainted by demon sorcery.
Kizmel pops up and we pick up right where we left off once again! This time everyone ends up separated as Asuna and Kirito get pulled in to a side quest, with Silica and Premier being pulled in as well albeit initially separately. It was nice to get to see a fair bit of Silica for once as we rarely do more than we do as just part of the ensemble. It was also nice to see Kizmel teaming up with our characters again although I was initially a little bit worried about her and allegiances. 
The main focus of this volume is a side quest involving a demon and a stone curse along with the dark elves, obviously. There's also some super shady goings on involving Genesis and his little buddy Tara. We do speed through the quest a little bit but it's got a nice amount of action before things start to slow down again and there's talk of creating a guild. Plus we have Seven popping in to add something ominous to proceedings because of course something potentially shady is going on. 
The volume starts off quite pacy with a nice amount of action but then slows down while introducing lots of intrigue and a general sense of foreboding as things step up in one regard and we're definitely left wanting more. 

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Manga: Hinowa Ga Crush 2

Hinowa ga Crush Vol 2
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

In the midst of her first battle, Hinowa takes on the woman who killed her mother, Yomihime. Can Hinowa and her friends survive on the merciless battlefield? Then, a new and crazed general attacks from the Tenrou Nation, and the warfare gets even fiercer... 

We open on to action as we pick up immediately where we left off. It would seem Hinowa and Akame have made themselves an enemy...or more accurately a nemesis who I'm sure we're going to be seeing a lot more of, more so than we did this volume. I feel like she might become the Esdeath of this series! 

Things move quickly in this volume, the battle is over and done with, Hinowa and Hisame prove themselves and swiftly get promoted to the rank of Captain. We have to go and defeat a freak in order to craft a special weapon although I do wish there had been a bit more depth to that part in particular, but it's rushed through and we end up with fancy, strong weapons, and then we meet Kyoukotsu, another Tenrou commander who's way creepier than the last and intent on his new plan. So you could say that this volume is pretty pacy with no dull moments to it. 

We also get some more background on certain characters and their motivations. We have another battle imminent, obviously, but as a little prelude we have a showdown with Kyoukotsu who is categorically at least 99% crazy. He does, however, provide Suzumaru with a chance to take the spotlight for a little while and shine before we leave off the volume waiting for the battle to begin. 

This is an impressively paced second volume that keeps up the momentum of the first and covers a lot of ground while giving us plenty of action, without seeming overly rushed except for that one little plot thread with the quest which I personally feel could have been a little bit longer as I was quite excited for a quest for a couple of chapters before diving back in to the battles! 

Monday, 15 July 2019

Manga: Graineliers 3

Graineliers Vol 3 
Rating: 3/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Carried off to Grainelier headquarters on suspicion of being a harmful seed carrier, Luca finds himself at the mercy of Special Researcher Nicolas. But Nicolas and his ilk are not what they seem, and at the elite Grainelier's behest, Luca passes himself off as a fellow Institute researcher...only to end up cohabiting with Nicolas himself! Meanwhile, Abel, driven to rescue his childhood friend, takes up with Insecte, an anti-Grainelier group. But when a certain incident lands him in a life-or-death situation, Abel might have to focus on saving his own skin first! 

Abel is getting to grips with his new situation and even has to get to grips with a weapon of his own! Rogers is still suspicious of him and suspects him of being a spy and while we spend a leisurely chapter with Abel fitting in and adjusting to everything and so on, we also end up with the difficult choice he's going to have to make...whether or not to go with a seed and if so which one. The odds don't look that great for any of the options he has. 

Things pick up during the next chapter when Abel ends up in a tough situation thanks to some thieves, and it does give him a chance to finally bond with the ever suspicious Rogers, predictable as it was. As you can imagine we get plenty of action from this turn in the story after the initially slow start, and then the mystery is ramped up once we switch over to Luca's POV, and in Abel's POV we have the mysterious man who becomes his bodyguard before we head in to plain 'oh dear' territory. 

Lucas is obviously with Nicolas, who's all kinds of shady and creepy and the mystery around him deepens in this volume. He also seems to know something about the mystery of Luca's father but of course, he won't spill it straight away because he's infuriating like that! Luca ends up posing as one of them in a uniform and everything and he even gets to join Nicolas' team. 

Along with a sprinkle of action, danger and ramped up mystery, we get some more background on why the carrier only squads exist as well as the political climate of the world of this story and the clashes amongst countries so the world gets fleshed out even more. 

While the volume initially started a little slow it built up as we went along, weaving in some more mystery and intrigue, answering some questions we had and giving us some background and adding to the world building as we build up towards an epic showdown in the next volume. Luca is posing as Nicolas' subordinate and is potentially about to have a moral crisis while Abel is trying to protect someone and might have to realise the fact that he can't with his current sills. I feel the story is developing so far at a nice pace, giving us action and building up the plot with a nice balance. 

Friday, 5 July 2019

Manga: Again!! 8

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

The president of Kanan High School's drama club is also its only member: Hanataka. Three years from now, Hanataka is going to be a celebrity famous for her sex appeal, but in high school she's timid, unsociable, shabby-looking, and widely disliked. Kinichiro can't help but be fascinated with her, and convinces Usami to have the ouendan cheer for the drama club's performance at the school festival. It's a new chapter for the ouendan, but is Kinichiro's "help" even welcome? 

I will admit, when everything with the Ouendan was resolved I did wonder how much further this could go, and I wasn't sure where they were going with the focus on Hanataka, amusing as I did find it and her. 

Of course we quickly discover why, you can't change something in the past without everything changing, there's a knock on effect and Hanataka and her drama club are a part of that. Of course our time travellers have to stick their noses in to it all, and so the Ouendan shifts away from focusing on the sports teams a little as they try to help out the drama club. 

If I'm being honest, I feel like this angle/storyline is a bit more interesting than the previous parts of the plot. I loved Hanataka's interactions with Imamura, and her in general she did make me chuckle, and him thinking she was cute was also quite cute. Hiro on the other hand has reached the height of creeper behaviour, time travel really doesn't agree with him. 

I have to say, this volume things take a turn for the weird and slightly ridiculous, with the musical and everything, at the same time you kind of have to laugh at it so I'm actually enjoying this strange turn a lot and I can only begin to imagine the other things that have or will change and need to be fixed! 

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Manga: 10 Dance Vol 3

10 Dance Vol 3 
Rating: 3/5 
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

As if learning the moves wasn't hard enough, Sugiki needs to master a crucial element if he's to succeed in Latin Ballroom: sex appeal. Suzuki takes a personal approach in teaching him the art of seduction, but what happens when the student learns too well? And Suzuki has problems of his own: With the 10 Dance competition on the horizon, he must raise his Standard rank, or risk losing the chance to compete at all. And just as the pair starts to understand their relationship to each other, a secret from Sugiki's past threatens to undo everything. 

The tension between the two dancers is stepping up right from the beginning, and they finally bond a little bit as they find some common ground. I have to say this volume had me laughing at how blunt it was at some points! 

For the most part though, nothing much really happens in this volume. It's definitely one of the slower ones, more building up towards stuff than anything. We see them bonding, getting closer as they continue to work together, supporting each other and Sugiki is manoeuvring something behind the scenes that I'm sure we'll see come out in the coming volumes. We also get some more depth to the characters as we get more background and insight in to both of them. 

While some things are set up for the next volume and the future of the series, the romance builds up more and more with some tension and then finally a moment that will change the dynamics of their relationship so far as things start to heat up! 

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Blog Tour: Soul of the Sword

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

Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko has one task: to take her piece of the ancient and powerful scroll to the Steel Feather temple in order to prevent the summoning of the Harbinger of Change, the great Kami Dragon who will grant one wish to whomever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. But she has a new enemy now. The demon Hakaimono, who for centuries was trapped in a cursed sword, has escaped and possessed the boy she thought would protect her, Kage Tatsumi of the Shadow Clan.

Hakaimono has done the unthinkable and joined forces with the Master of Demons in order to break the curse of the sword and set himself free. To overthrow the empire and cover the land in darkness, they need one thing: the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. As the paths of Yumeko and the possessed Tatsumi cross once again, the entire empire will be thrown into chaos. 

If you read my reviews I'm sure you guys are well aware that I completely and utterly loved Shadow of the Fox when it came out. I love Julie Kagawas' books anyway, but the storytelling was rich, the world building was thorough and I was living for all of the Japanese mythology and yokai. Of course it had a fantastic ending that left me wanting more and Soul of the Sword has been one of my most anticipated sequels, I can seriously say that it didn't disappoint me at all, although it did go off in a direction I wasn't entirely expecting! 

Soul of the Sword is not here to play around. We kick off with an intense reveal, and we're immediately tossed straight back in to the world thanks to the cinematic writing that effectively pulls you back in like you'd never been away. There's a delicious amount of background on the Kage aka the Shadow Clan, and the demon sword Kamigoroshi as well as the demon Hakaimono, adding some more threads to the mystery to intrigue you. 

Yumeko is determined to save Tatsumi because she blames herself but I feel like she continues to grow as a character at a nice pace. She's learning more about her feelings, and how she feels about Tatsumi. She's also learning more about her powers and what she can do and she really gets to let loose with them, showing a slightly differing side of herself. Okame is still as snarky and hilarious as ever but we get to see a slightly more vulnerable side to him...I just wish he didn't beat himself up so much about stuff. Daisuke is forever calm and collected and I love him and Reika is the grumpy badass. I just love them together, and the banter and interactions they have, and how loyal they are to Yumeko and determined to protect her and get her to the temple. 

POV wise we get to see Suki again, we obviously get Yumeko's and we get Hakaimono as well as Tatsumi although we don't get to see Tatsumi much this book, obviously. I wasn't really expecting to get Hakaimono's perspective but I kind of liked him? Like sure he's an evil demon, but his narrative was on point with the snark and sarcasm and general bad guy aura he exudes. He's kind of bloodthirsty but he's also badass, I don't know. I guess I just appreciate a good villainous narrative, especially when there's the opportunity for said villain to perhaps become one of the team. 

Like I said, Suki is still floating around as well and she gives us some insights in to the super mysterious Seigetsu and his little yokai pal Taka. I'm honestly not too sure what to make of him to be honest, I was hoping he wasn't shady but I was so untrusting of him. Shout out to him for all the ominous visions because of course I got attached to the character who's apparently going to die. Love that for me. 

While we didn't get to see Tatsumi as much this book we still got some of his past, and when he does make his return and get some interactions with Yumeko they of course pulled at my heart because I just want him to be happy okay. His background and his narrative just punch me in the heart every time. For those of you who love some romance, don't worry though, there's a side ship that pops up and I have to say...I ship it with my whole chest. I wasn't expecting it but I loved it, it added a nice dash of romance to proceedings along with a little bit of dread and angst considering the previously mentioned ominous visions. It's also nicely slotted in via the narratives we do have, with no additional narrative needed and I feel like it helps Yumeko with her own feelings and understanding of emotions. Either way....the new ship had me screeching and it's now my favourite! 

The rich storytelling and writing continues on from the first book, saturated with lush descriptions as well as legends and stories that pull you in and have you clearly envisioning the world and settings. It also gives you a thirst for more of the mythology! While Yumeko and co are held up by the Shadow Clan and there's some intrigue with the in-fighting amongst them, we have a more action and adventure vibe with Hakaimono and Suki. Of course everyone's narratives give us huge doses of mythology, yokai and Yurei nicely woven in and I'm just in love with the storytelling for this book! 

Although I will say, I feel like their talk of ballads and the whole 'anything less than the heroes giving their lives for honour, duty, sacrifice and the glory of the Empire' not being much of a story at all is a warning for how this series is going to end, it hit me with the biggest sense of foreboding. 

The plot once again builds up slowly with huge quest vibes, but these do mostly come from the other POVs than Yumeko for the most part, and Seigetsu provides magic and mystery to Hakaimono's blood and death. While the plot builds up more and more we've got banter, bonding and camaraderie along with imaginative, vivid and magical locations brought to life with the atmospheric and beautiful writing. The storytelling is fantastic, it sets a certain tone for the book and helps to draw you in, embellishing the world as it goes and then towards the end the pace builds up and we've got shock plot twists once again that leave you screaming for the next book! There's also been some very interesting developments for one character, a shadowy figure has been revealed and it all looks a little bit dire! 
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