Friday, 30 June 2017

Review: Today's Cerberus Vol 4

Today's Cerberus Vol 4
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Supernatural beings aren't the only ones drawn to Chiaki: A blast from his past drops by unexpectedly...and claims to be his fiancée?! When Minnie blows into town, Roze is forced to confront her own feelings for Chiaki. But is she willing to sacrifice her affections for a chance to reclaim the missing piece of Chiaki's soul...?

I'm really loving this series because it's a lot of fun, it makes me laugh and it has a fair bit of mythology to it and this volume didn't let me down in that aspect at all! I even feel like it might take a more serious turn, but don't panic guys! I'm fairly sure it'll still keep the humour up! 

I have to say, Jormungand is definitely up to something and curious as to what that is, although I'm excited she'll be sticking around a bit longer and I'm hoping some of the others might pop back up! I'm even feeling a bit suspicious of Chiaki's mysterious Dad in this volume as Minnie's off to update him on Chiaki. 

With Minnie's departure, we get more of Komone which was really nice for me because I quite like her and I was disappointed we didn't get as much of her with Minnie there. I'm not going to lie, I'm really rooting for her! I'm also rooting for Roze because she is determined to stick up for herself in this book and I was like YAAAS ROZE YOU TELL HER! 

I was excited to meet Chihiro, Chiaki's older sister properly in this volume, it'd be nice to see more of her because I have a feeling she'd stir things up a bit and make it interesting! Particularly with the romance situation that's going on. And speaking of, I feel like the romance is really stepping up a bit in this volume, especially after the end of this volume! I was sitting there like NO WAY! She said the thing! Oh my GOOOOD! And there's a date too! Although the two aren't really related! 

We get a new 'monster' in this volume, a fox spirit, which made for some interesting reactions and I'm enjoying getting a new monster each volume, and waiting to see what one it is! It reminds me of the old Supernatural episodes with the monster of the week type thing going on...except there's more romance and humour in Today's Cerberus...and Today's Cerberus has cuter monsters. 

Today's Cerberus Volume 4 continues to have cute artwork, and it moves at a nice pace stepping up the romance and throwing in some intriguing plot threads to the narrative. I'm waiting to see what's going to happen everything is going to turn out and what surprises are in store. The romance is stepping up and I'm interested to see where that will go, but I'm enjoying the fact we have monsters and mysteries and other things going on with it. I'm also excited to see if I'm right and this is going to take a more serious turn...but we'll see! 

I just really love reading Today's Cerberus, it's a mood lifter! The combination of cute, humour and other things just picks your mood up and puts you in a good place when you read it! 

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Manga: The Asterisk War Vol 4

The Asterisk War Vol 4
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Kirin Toudou is the top-ranked student at Seidoukan Academy despite her young age, but there's one enemy she cannot face--her controlling, abusive uncle! After witnessing the man's cruelty toward his niece, Ayato steps in to help, but he soon finds himself facing her in a duel! With the Festa just around the corner, can he really afford to reveal his dueling style in front of the whole school, or will he have to accept defeat?

Okaaayyy I'm getting more and more excited for the Festa with each volume, and this definitely ramps that up. I'm so excited to see everyone in action and learn more about everyone and I'm getting so impatient like "come ooooon is it time for the Festa yet?!" 

In this volume we meet Kirin and her douchebag uncle. Kirin is going to be an interesting new addition to the group as she's the top ranked fighter in the school. I'm liking how we're meeting Festa contestants in each volume, and it's piquing your curiosity about them and what exactly they can really do. It's going to be interesting to see Kirin training with the others. I actually really liked her. 

This volume starts straight off with some action and intrigue and you know...some tension. I liked the little time skip forward and then backward, it kept it fresh. We learn more about the world of the manga and how things work in every day life not just at the Academy, which made for interesting reading. 

There's plenty of action in this fast paced volume, we get to see some duelling and some monster fighting. Which also goes a long way to helping us get to know Kirin. We also see certain members of another Academy who appear to be up to no good, which this volume made pretty clear actually. I'm curious as to what their motive is, if it's anything other than the usual rivalry and such. This volume has made me more intrigued by Claudia and Ayato in particular, I'm not going to lie, I'm hoping to learn more about them in upcoming volumes. 

Volume 4 is another fast paced, action packed offering from this series, and it provides plenty of intrigue too with an ending that makes you impatient for the next volume. It also makes it pretty clear that there's some form of plot and/or treachery afoot from a certain party. We get more and more information about the world and the characters with each volume but there's still more to find out, as we discover with Claudia and Ayato. Volume 4 also see's the introduction of a new character to the team who I think is going to be an interesting addition. Bring on the Festa!

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Review: A Season of Spells

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

Sophie and Gray return to London, escorting the heiress of Alba to meet the British prince to whom she is betrothed. Sparks fail to fly between the pair and the marriage alliance is cast into further doubt when the men who tried to poison King Henry are discovered to have escaped from prison. Gray sets off to track the fugitives, while Sophie tries to spark a connection between the bride and groom by enlisting them in her scheme to reopen a long-shuttered women's college at Oxford. Many may believe that educating women spells ruin, but in the decaying college library lies the key to protecting everything they hold dear-as well as a dark secret that could destroy it all. 

I've completely and utterly loved this trilogy since book one, and I've been super exciting to see how it's all going to turn out. The writing is always completely gorgeous and authentic and really pulls you in, and the settings are vivid as well as atmospheric. The world and characters are original and interesting, the plots are always complex and have multiple threads woven in. The characters have depth and are intriguing and you can relate to  or sympathise with them. 

So I was gutted to find myself a bit disappointed with this book at certain points. But before I get to that, I'm going to talk about everything I loved! 

So, we're three years on from the last book and we're back in London! I am forever loving Sophie and Gray, they're adorable and such a good team! I kinda wish we got to see more of the two of them together! I completely and utterly love Gwen, she's one of my favourite characters, she's completely brilliant and I liked getting to see more of her in this book! I also really love her relationship with Jo although I was a bit disappointed by some implications but maybe I misread. Jo is tricky for me, because she has a tendency to bug me when she acts like a sulky child. Whenever she gets left out of things she genuinely acts like a sulky child and it bugged me last book and in this book it got to the stage where it was annoying and a bit ridiculous because you'd think after three years she'd have developed a bit more as a character. I might be wrong but I felt like she was a bit dismissive of Roland who was her friend in the last book. 

I completely loved finally getting more page time for Roland and Lucia! I've always been intrigued by Roland and I loved Lucia in the last book so I was excited to get to know her. I feel like Roland really comes in to his own in this book and becomes a stronger character, more badass and you understand him way better. He was also kind of adorable at some points. As for Lucia I loved her as much as I loved her in the previous book! She's such a badass, and she's intelligent and brilliant and aaahh she's another of my favourites! 

Lucia and Roland are quite the pair and I really loved their interactions. I shipped them so much it wasn't even funny. I was a bit worried it'd end up being the same as Sophie and Gray's romance or similar but I actually liked the contrast and the difference between the two relationships. Roland and Lucia really don't get on much in the beginning, they don't have the same interests and things are a bit awkward between them, so I really enjoyed watching them get to know each other and the romance develop that way. 

This book is kind of a continuation from Lady of Magick. In the second book we end up in Alba, which was great and I enjoyed getting to see a new part of the world and meet these new characters, but I had been expecting it to continue on from LoM more in the sense that we'd be in London and things would be wrapped up with some characters. That happens in this book. Unfortunately the ever unpleasant Amelia is back for this book, on the one hand I get her. I can see how and why she feels like she does and I don't really blame her. But on the other hand....she knows what her father did but she's so in denial. I've always found her an unlikeable character, but I was pleased to see her change in this book and grow up a bit. Things with her, and the traitors and Roland and everyone where wrapped up. I'd been so excited to see Sophie navigate her new status and bond with her siblings but that didn't happen in book two, buuuttt it was nice to see some of that in this book. 

The other thing I was pleased with was getting to learn aaaalll about Lady Morgan College. It was such a great mystery, and a huge point of intrigue. I was so curious and coming up with all of these theories, and I was kind of disappointed it took so long after it was introduced for us to finally get to it and solve the mysteries. I feel like it could have been done a lot sooner, but there was a gap and it was there at the end. I'd have liked to have seen more of it and explored it more. 

There are once again, plenty of plot threads that come together including some from the previous two books answering pretty much all of the questions we had. I do feel like some of these threads could have been utilised a bit more, and as much as I hate to say it...I do feel like the ending was a bit rushed. It was all going well, things where happening and I was looking at how many pages left like...there's no way this can be wrapped up in like 20 pages....but there's not another book...and then it was all wrapped up and tied up and I was I just felt like the ending was a bit rushed and could have been expanded a bit more. It genuinely felt so rushed, and I'm fairly sure some plot points weren't resolved, but I'd need to re-read all the books to confirm. I'm just devastated that this is the weakest book of the trilogy in my eyes, and that the ending was so rushed. There's a pretty big gap of nothing in this book too, and considering that, it's even more disappointing that the ending had to be rushed.  


Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Light Novel: Magical Girl Raising Project

Magical Girl Raising Project Vol 1
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Sugar and spice--but not playing nice!

The hit smartphone game Magical Girl Raising Project is not only free, but one in tens of thousands of players will win real-life powers. In N City, sixteen of these lucky girls help the city's citizens--until upper management announces that each week, the least productive magical girl will lose her gifts. But this is no ordinary contest, and as the rules become increasingly sadistic, the competition to keep their powers becomes a vicious battle for the girls' very lives...

I love how this is kind of a little bit dark but it has really cute chibi's at the beginning in the colour pages to introduce you to each character! I was like aawww Chibi's and then I read the prologue and was like wooooww  okay.

One thing I really liked about this was that it told you about the game as if you're looking at the back of the game packet, if you know what I mean? It was an interesting way to relate the information without putting a, probably, overly long explanation in to the narrative and killing the pace. I also liked how the chat portions where set out as it provided a nice break to the narrative. 

This gets quite dark quite quickly, it's like the Magical Girls edition of the Hunger Games. There's blood, stabbing, death, and various other forms of gore, and considering one character turned out to be fairly young, it was a bit disturbing. Just fair warning. I actually think it was a nice change to all the OMG Magical Girls *unicorns* *rainbows* kinda stuff I usually come across. Seriously this goes from "aw look magical girls, aren't they cute!" to "stab stab stab, murder, murder, dismember, blood, gore, death" in like 0.5 seconds. 

I was really intrigued from the start by the darker tone. We get to see all of the girls POV's mostly, I think, and each was very different from the other. They all wanted different things, they all thought differently, had different opinions and had different voices to their narratives. I feel like this kept the narrative fresh and gave some great character insight. 

Speaking of characters, I had some that I loved and some that I hated...then there was a complete psycho. Can't say I wasn't happy to see the back of her. The world of the game was intriguing, and there's lots of action and blood and murder. I liked that you saw through the characters two completely different mindsets or types of people. Those that would help each other and do things the right way and those that immediately resorted to cheating as soon as they where able to. I really had to question how some of them made it to being a magical girl to be honest. 

I gave this four stars because I had a couple of niggles. First off, I feel like I was supposed to connect with Snow White, but I really wasn't that bothered with her, she got on my nerves a wee bit and rather than stepping up like all of the others she was kind of on the sidelines not really doing much so I was rooting for Ripple instead! 

My other issue was that there where a fair few characters that I was excited to see and get to know more of but they where killed off and I didn't get to see as much of them as I would have liked. I kinda figured that this all out kill war was going to go on for a few volumes, I wasn't expecting the whole story to be wrapped up in one volume, so I'm interested to see where the story is going to go after everything from this volume, but I do feel like a few things where rushed, I'd have liked a bit more world building too!

All in all, Magical Girl Raising Project shows the different sides to human nature through the girls and their actions. There's characters to root for, and characters to hate, and there are some really sad moments as well as some really murdery moments. There's plenty of intrigue about the world, characters, and why they're having to do all of this. Plus everything being wrapped up in this volume makes you super intrigued to see what's going to happen next. Do we get a new set of girls? Or does the story of the survivors continue? 

I don't usually read Magical Girl light novels/manga, but I was interested in this one because it sounded a bit different and from my experience I wasn't disappointed! It was definitely darker than I expected, but it pulled me right in! 

Sound like your cup of tea? Yen Press are giving away five copies on GoodReads

Monday, 26 June 2017

Manga: Your Name

Your Name Vol 1
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Mitsuha, a high school girl from a town deep in the mountains, dreams of an unfamiliar life in Tokyo. Taki, a high school boy from Tokyo, dreams that he is a girl living in the mountains. As the two change places in their dreams, their encounter sets a miraculous story into motion.

Very recently I went to MCM Comic Con in London, and I decided to check out one of the anime panels. The first thing they talked about on this panel? Your Name. We got to watch the trailer for the movie and heard all about how it was so popular that the movie was being re-released back in to cinemas and so on. I was intrigued by the trailer, and I thought it looked like a Freaky Friday kind of thing but more serious. So when I saw there was a manga version coming out, I had to check it out! 

The artwork is gorgeous, especially the settings and I really liked the contrast between the two different settings! How I wish I could draw! It is kind of like Freaky Friday in that there's body swapping going on, but my initial impression of that was wrong. There's a lot more to it than that, and I was so curious about how it was happening and why and how they'd resolve it. 

I really loved Mitsuha and Taki, and I loved watching them develop a friendship despite the odd circumstances as they navigated swapping with each other and sharing lives and tried to help each other out...sort of. I liked the way they went about doing it too, dairy entries and notes and stuff. I totally got Mitsuha's frustrations with living out in the sticks and wanting to be in the city, and wanting to be more than what she was expected to be. I think she's a relatable character. Taki I didn't get as much of a sense of but I imagine once over the weirdness of it all, it's probably a nice break for him to be in Mitsuha's place with family and all their traditions. 

I was really, really enjoying this manga....and then the end happened and I was like nooooooooooo! Seriously, it was like *drops bombshell* "Continued in volume 2!" *insert evil smiley face* and I was like NOOOOOOOOO to the max. Seriously. It's going to be torture waiting for the next volume! I'll have to check the movie out, but then again I was going to watch the movie after I was done with the manga because they're probably a little bit different...aahhhh decisions! 

Your Name is certainly intriguing, and I can see why it's become such a phenomenon and why everyone raves about it. It's funny but also at the same time heartwarming and has a serious tone to it so it doesn't end up being too silly or a comedy. It's also really touching. The characters are relatable, and it keeps you reading as you want to discover what's going on, and how it's going to be resolved. I'm definitely intrigued to see how this is all going to turn out and what's going to happen next! 

If Your Name sounds like your kind of thing, or you want to check it out, Yen Press are giving away 5 copies over on GoodReads

Friday, 23 June 2017

Review: Our Dark Duet

Our Dark Duet
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Kate Harker is a girl who isn’t afraid of the dark. She’s a girl who hunts monsters. And she’s good at it. August Flynn is a monster who can never be human, no matter how much he once yearned for it. He’s a monster with a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.

Nearly six months after Kate and August were first thrown together, the war between the monsters and the humans is terrifying reality. In Verity, August has become the leader he never wished to be, and in Prosperity, Kate has become the ruthless hunter she knew she could be. When a new monster emerges from the shadows—one who feeds on chaos and brings out its victim’s inner demons—it lures Kate home, where she finds more than she bargained for. She’ll face a monster she thought she killed, a boy she thought she knew, and a demon all her own.

When I read This Savage Song, I completely loved it and immediately devoured it, so I couldn't wait to get stuck in to its sequel! This was everything I was hoping for and more, and the ending completely gutted me. 

We start off Our Dark Duet with a quite frankly, chilling opening. When we rejoin Kate and August it's been six months since the end of This Savage Song and things are quite different for the both of them. We jump straight in with some action as we join Kate hunting and I loved seeing Kate in her element, hunting down monsters with her little team. I really feel like there was a CSI: Monster Edition kind of vibe, because you've got Kate in Prosperity, which supposedly has no monsters, hunting them down with her team. There's Teo, Bea, Liam and Riley and I was quite disappointed we didn't get to see more of them! They all seemed to work together really well! Anyway, they're working with Kate, it was kind of like Arrow with the Vigilante team at one point, and then at others it was a bit CSI with Kate investigating a murder and so on. I loved it. It felt like such a different vibe to me than the first book but was still recognisably the same world. 

August is now a leader of his own little group made up of Rez, Harris, Jackson and Ani. There's also a new Sunai in town, Soro and I'm still not sure if I actually liked him! August is obviously in Verity as they're all fighting against Sloane, Alice and his organised force of monsters. They've got people escaping from one side of the city in to their side and needing to be checked out and trained and so on. We get to meet a couple of the new recruits like Colin, although I couldn't remember if we'd met him in TSS or not. Again, Augusts scenes had a different vibe to Kate's and it was a nice contrast between the two. I had wanted to see more of the world of the book and Victoria really delivered! 

Kate's just as badass as ever, she's determined to fight and help and take out the monsters. But she has one struggle. A struggle that makes things very difficult for her.....friendship. Yep. Kate's got friends. I loved seeing her interact with her little group, and worry about them and she's not used to having friends so it was nice to see her with friends who cared about her and worried about her, and how she dealt with that and this new friendship thing that she'd never really experienced much before. Forever loving her sarcasm and witty one liners too! 

August has changed a little, he's become colder, more distant and perhaps a bit darker. He's got Leo in his head messing with him, affecting how he thinks and acts. He's trying to do what's right, trying to protect people but he's not the August we know and love from TSS. It was interesting to see this other side of August, and even more interesting to see how he changed again when Kate was back and challenging him. It was like she made him finally question himself and realise how he's acting. 

I read Our Dark Duet in two sittings because I was completely glued. There's more action, more monsters, more fighting, more gore, more darkness and more interesting looks at human nature and what really makes a monster. I love how that's woven in and makes you think. There's a new threat to face. We get to see more of the FTF and how it works, and the inner divisions between them all. The different plot threads all tie together brilliantly to make the overall plot, as do the three different POV's we get. Kate, August and Sloane are interesting narrators and they're all different from each other, so they have interesting and differing viewpoints on what's going on. Sloane is just plain creepy to be honest. The plot is filled with nuances and sly plans from Sloane, and it keeps you intrigued, keeps you invested. 

I have to say, the ending of this completely broke me. As we get to the end the pace is so snappy that I was forcing myself to calm down and read slowly instead of reading too fast and missing things. The ending...I had to sit there after I'd closed the book for a good few minutes. It was devastating for me. But the last sentence...there was just something about it. The entire book, much like the first, is very vivid. Verity and Prosperity rise up in front of you, the contrasts obvious. You can picture each one of the settings, and you get completely sucked in so that you feel like you're there, helped along by the atmosphere that permeates the book. 

When I read that last sentence in the book, I could picture it so vividly, like it was playing out on a cinema screen, and after that last sentence it fading to black and the credits rolling. If this is the final book...then it's brilliantly wrapped up and a very satisfying if not heartbreaking conclusion to the story. Having said that, while it's heartbreaking...the ending and how things end up are actually very fitting for the book if I'm honest. 

Buuuuttt I've heard that this is a duology and then that this is a series...I mean...I wouldn't say no to a third book you know? But at the same time...I feel like August and Kate's story is done. I would really like to see some more of the world of the book though, there's so much left to explore! 


Thursday, 22 June 2017

Review: Godblind

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

The Mireces worship the bloodthirsty Red Gods. Exiled from Rilpor a thousand years ago, and left to suffer a harsh life in the cold mountains, a new Mireces king now plots an invasion of Rilpor’s thriving cities and fertile earth.

Dom Templeson is a Watcher, a civilian warrior guarding Rilpor’s border. He is also the most powerful seer in generations, plagued with visions and prophecies. His people are devoted followers of the god of light and life, but Dom harbors deep secrets, which threaten to be exposed when Rillirin, an escaped Mireces slave, stumbles broken and bleeding into his village.

Meanwhile, more and more of Rilpor’s most powerful figures are turning to the dark rituals and bloody sacrifices of the Red Gods, including the prince, who plots to wrest the throne from his dying father in the heart of the kingdom. Can Rillirin, with her inside knowledge of the Red Gods and her shocking ties to the Mireces King, help Rilpor win the coming war?

Fair warning everyone, this is bloodthirsty and gory from the start. There's attempted rape within the first couple of pages and it's not the first time. There's also a particular scene with a sacrifice that will haunt me, and make me twitchy whenever anyone near me wields a hammer. DIY is lost to me now. It's safe to say red was the correct jacket colour choice! There's some casual murder within the first couple of pages, swiftly followed by a smidge of regicide. The cheating at cards and general backstabbing and...stabbing seemed like childs play after that. After the sacrifice/torture scene....anything else pales in comparison and is like a walk in the park. 

There's violence towards women, it's true, and I know that put some reviewers off but there's violence towards pretty much everyone in this book. Alongside that...there are so many strong female characters in this book. Rillirin in particular goes from being a victim of said violence, to getting more and more courageous, learning how to defend herself...and then you have her as she is at the end of the book. It's a brilliant character development arc and one I enjoyed reading. I was rooting for her every step of the way. There was also Tara, one of my favourite characters of the book. She's a complete badass and doesn't take crap from anyone, the same can be said for Dalli. 

Crys was another of my favourite characters. He cracked me up, and I swear he has nine lives. He always manages to just slip out of trouble and scrape on by. I 100% ship him and Ash. His initial struggle with his sexuality was interesting, and I think well handled but I can't really speak to the accuracy of it. Either way, by the end of the book he and Ash had me squealing. A spot of bright amid the blood! I also really loved the banter between he, Tara and Dalli, I'm gonna be needing more of it in the next book! Not to mention I'm going to need to learn what Crys is....because everyone kept mentioning a certain thing about him and it got me so excited but wasn't answered! 

There's plenty of other brilliant characters, Durdil and his son Mace, both of who had to finagle their way out of sticky situations. Dom, who has an intriguing gift. I'm intrigued to see what will become of him. There's also plenty of nasty characters that you love to hate. I had no qualms going full Game of Thrones mindset on these characters and hoping they get killed off. Rivil...I was actually hoping to like him but nope. Galtas...the slimiest of slimy snakes. He totally needs to die first, just saying. And then we have Corvus and the Blessed One. I'm not sure which one of them is worse. Corvus is an opportunist and deserves a taste of his own medicine. Maybe the Blessed One will get rid of him. I can dream. 

I breezed through this book fairly quickly, possibly thanks to the POV changes. There weren't any super long chapters, so we kept switching characters quite quickly. This was a bit confusing for me in the beginning as I was getting used to the setting and trying to work out who was who and who did what. It took me about 100 pages or more to get in to the book, to reach a point where I was no longer iffy about the book and invested. Once things got going the shorter chapters and constant POV changes pushed the plot forward, and kept you up to date with what was happening where, and brought in new plot threads and characters. I think the POV's where in the double digits when I finished reading. 

The POV's would sometimes overlap because they're quite short, so we'd get different character POV's but they'd be in the same location before bouncing off to a different setting. I had a fairly good idea of the world and what it looked like, and how it was laid out. The settings where vivid....the scenes vivid too even when you wished they weren't! I have to say, while it's bloodthirsty, violent and brutal there's also lighter sides to it. There's some romance as I've already mentioned which was a nice surprise, there's some humour, and I personally enjoyed the loyalty and camaraderie amongst one faction/group. It does take a little while before the lines are firmly drawn in battle between good and evil, therefore you can imagine the epic plot twists leading up to that moment. Everything was unsure. You knew which characters where on which side, but there where still some left to be decided and all these plot twists came out of nowhere, brilliantly shocking until you knew who was on which side for sure. 

Godblind sets the scene, it's the first in a trilogy, and this is merely act one. There are plenty of plot threads that have just had the seeds planted. This book has introduced us to the characters and the world and as you read the action and pace picks up more and more and ends. To be continued in book two. I'm kind of thinking of this trilogy as one giant book that's been cut in to three and released in separate chunks, if you know what I mean! There's treachery, betrayal and sinister plots to untangle as you read. But there's also unexpected romance, humour and strong bonds between some characters. Godblind is gritty, brutal, and so vivid you wished it wasn't. It's seriously gory and violent, I shuddered more than once when I was reading. The epilogue is quite frankly chilling. I'm so intrigued to see what's going to happen next, and I can confirm that Joe Abercrombie fans will love this! 

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Review: Flame In The Mist

Flame in the Mist
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires. 

I devoured this book. Seriously. I raced through it, and I couldn't put it down. Flame in the Mist is by far one of my favourite books of the year. I wanted to crawl in to the book and join the Black Clan, meet the characters. I finished the book and immediately wanted to re-read it. I didn't want it to be over. But it ended, and it left me hanging and I'm so desperate for the next book, it's not even funny. All I can do is applaud Renee for writing such a brilliant book. I was in awe. 

Mulan is my favourite Disney Princess movie. I remember going to see it with my mum at the cinema, and completely falling in love. I loved the music, the setting, it sparked off an obsession with China. Once I was older, I read everything I could about Chinese mythology and history. I was fascinated. One of my dreams is to go to China and visit all the landmarks, the Great Wall, the Terracotta Soldiers. The movie even influenced my room. I was forever disappointed it didn't get a TV show like some of the other Disney movies, but it did get a sequel. The first movie however, is the best in my opinion. 

SO, when I heard that this was a retelling of Mulan, or Mulan crossed with this or that...I knew I needed to read it. It went straight on to my TBR, and when I received a proof of it, I screamed the house down and did a happy dance and my mood couldn't be broken for days. I find so few books set in China, let alone the time period of Flame in the Mist! 

Flame in the Mist immediately sucked me in, I was intrigued just from the prologue and then once I met Mariko I instantly loved her and was totally on board with her and her journey. I loved Mariko so much, she's intelligent, and strong, and brave when she needs to be. She wants better for herself than what she's 'allowed' as a woman in that time period. I loved watching her discover her potential and where she belongs in the world, it was an amazing journey to watch. She invents things and aaahhh I just loved her. Seriously. She's my favourite. 

Aside from Mariko there's plenty of other interesting characters in the book. I was intrigued by her brother Kenshin, he seemed to genuinely care about his sister which was a nice surprise as I wasn't sure what to expect from him. He taught her how to defend herself and never gave up looking for her. I'm interested to see more of their relationship and how they interact. We learned more and more about Kenshin with each chapter, at first he was a shadowy figure, potentially an enemy, but you learned more and more about him until you felt for the guy. There's more than meets the eye with him, but after some events...I'm hoping he stays good! my notes for Ranmaru when I started reading I wrote "bit of an ass" which was true at the start. But I ended up really loving him because he always encouraged Mariko and gave her a chance. He let her make her inventions, he used them. Considering the time period it was set in, I really loved him for that and respected him. Which magnified tenfold when you realised just what he knew. 

Okami....he intrigued me right from the start, mostly because of his abilities but then I started shipping him with Mariko hardcore. I really loved him. There's so much to him, and after the big twist at the end I can't wait for the second book to see what he becomes. If it changes him. I need to know the rest of his past! That's not to say I didn't want to punch him once or twice, much like Mariko did, I'm sure. 

Okami and Mariko might just be one of my favourite ships. They where so perfect together, challenging each other and I loved their banter and their interactions. I loved watching the relationship and their feelings for each other develop over the course of the book, and then when they where together...I NEED MORE RENEE! Give me all the feels, I don't even care. I just loved them so much. 

Along with my favourite characters there where a few suspicious types. I'm still not too sure how I feel about Ren. As for Raiden, Roku and the Emperor...I don't trust any of them. They're totally up to something. Or the Emperor is at least. Possibly Roku. I was disappointed by Raiden because he seemed genuine but was a complete a-hole. I know he's gonna bug me in book two!

Each of the characters was brilliantly crafted, they had their good moments and their bad. There was more to them than first met the eye, and they really leaped off the page and came to life for me. The world was vivid, and beautifully crafted, I could picture each setting so vividly and thanks to that I immediately fell in to the world of the book and I didn't want to come back out. It was an enchanting world, and I was completely engrossed. 

I loved the writing style...the storytelling. It was so decadent and authentic and it fit so well with the place and the time, and helped to bring the world to life. The words used to describe things for instance, where pulled from the setting and the time. It just fit so well and everything combined so beautifully to create this book. 

There are plenty of plot threads to keep you hooked. As you read, the plot deepens as more and more threads are added to it. You have the shady Emperor, Mariko and the Black Clan and trying to figure out why they where after her. Her brother tracking her down and facing his own problems. The Black Clan themselves and the problems they have. Okame and his struggle with his feelings. More and more was added and the plot just sucked me in more and more. 

Flame in the Mist is a book that sucks you in and has you completely engrossed. The apocalypse could be happening and you'd have no idea because you're so focused on the book. I read this in two sittings, unable to turn the pages fast enough and reluctant to put it down when I had to, you know, sleep. There's action, romance, intrigue, mystery, vivid settings, beautiful all combines to create this fantastic read. There's still plenty more to be played out in the next book and even without the ending that nearly killed me with feels.....I eagerly anticipate the sequel. The wait is going to be brutal. I need to see how it all ends, learn the answers to my questions and just be back with the characters and back in the world. This is one of those books I'll re-read over and over and never get bored of it. 

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Review: Lord of Shadows

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

Would you trade your soul mate for your soul?

A Shadowhunter’s life is bound by duty. Constrained by honor. The word of a Shadowhunter is a solemn pledge, and no vow is more sacred than the vow that binds parabatai, warrior partners—sworn to fight together, die together, but never to fall in love.

Emma Carstairs has learned that the love she shares with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, isn’t just forbidden—it could destroy them both. She knows she should run from Julian. But how can she when the Blackthorns are threatened by enemies on all sides?

Their only hope is the Black Volume of the Dead, a spell book of terrible power. Everyone wants it. Only the Blackthorns can find it. Spurred on by a dark bargain with the Seelie Queen, Emma; her best friend, Cristina; and Mark and Julian Blackthorn journey into the Courts of Faerie, where glittering revels hide bloody danger and no promise can be trusted. Meanwhile, rising tension between Shadowhunters and Downworlders has produced the Cohort, an extremist group of Shadowhunters dedicated to registering Downworlders and “unsuitable” Nephilim. They’ll do anything in their power to expose Julian’s secrets and take the Los Angeles Institute for their own.

When Downworlders turn against the Clave, a new threat rises in the form of the Lord of Shadows—the Unseelie King, who sends his greatest warriors to slaughter those with Blackthorn blood and seize the Black Volume. As dangers close in, Julian devises a risky scheme that depends on the cooperation of an unpredictable enemy. But success may come with a price he and Emma cannot even imagine, one that will bring with it a reckoning of blood that could have repercussions for everyone and everything they hold dear. 

Okaaay, I'm really not sure how to review this book. I have so many feels about it, and it's taken me ages to be able to sit down and try to order my thoughts about it. Quite frankly, this book destroyed me. The ending completely devastated me and the wait for the next book is just seriously...2019?! SO CRUEL. This is probably going to be more of a reaction/discussion than a review, I'll try to review it but it's a very large book, and it hit me right in the feels! 

First off, Lord of Shadows is the book of ships. I have SO many damn ships now because of this book! I really, seriously ship Kit and Ty. Kit having lived most of his life in the real world understands Ty and his Autism, and really looks out for him and is there for him. I loved getting to see more of Ty in this book, and you know...Ty's a total badass. Kit needs some work on his badassery and I'm sure Ty can help him out. Either way, I ship them. I ship Diana and Gwyn which was a nice surprise ship that popped up. Hoping it means we get to see more of Gwyn! I continue to ship Emma and Julien but I'm leaning a bit towards Mark and Emma. Don't get me started on the love square. Kieran and Cristina. Cristina and Mark. Kieran and Mark. I SHIP THEM ALL. SOMEONE HELP. I'M HAVING A SHIPPING CRISIS. 

The thing I enjoyed most about this book was getting to see more of the supporting characters from Lady Midnight. Like Diana, we get to know Diana's secret and I was freaking cheering my head off. You go Diana. Sod the Clave. I loved her even more, and her story broke my heart. Forever hating the Clave for their prejudices. Totally need to go. This is definitely the most diverse book of the Shadowhunters series. It's got plenty of rep, and I'm hoping this means the Clave are going to FINALLY be pushed in to the future. Thanks to Diana, we get to see a bit more of Gwyn, still so curious about him, but I really respect him after this book. 

We get to see a lot more of the younger Blackthorns, which I enjoyed because we saw glimpses of them in Lady Midnight but I feel like we got to know them better in this book! Like I said, we saw more of Ty who's a total badass. We saw more of Livvy and the relationship between her and Ty and how much they help each other, and I really loved seeing their relationship through the eyes of Kit, a sort of outsider. We see more of Dru, and I felt for her, even when I wanted to throttle her at one point because I thought something dodgy was going on! Aaannnddd we get to see Kit who is an adopted younger Blackthorn in my eyes. Seriously thanks to Kit's POV we get so much insight in to the other Blackthorns and it was a God send. OH and I lived for Livvy, Ty and Kit investigating and the Sherlock Holmes references! 

Jaime finally makes an appearance. I'm not entirely sure I trust him after the revelation about him from Cristina in the first book, but he didn't seem as bad as he appeared. I guess we'll see. Diego I wanted to smack. Repeatedly. And Kieran. My lovely little Kieran. I went through phases of loving and hating him and feeling sorry for him in Lady Midnight. In Lord of Shadows he becomes a part of the group and I really came to love him so much in this book. He's actually quite funny and cracked me up more than once, especially his line about Magnus, he's like "Really? You all have to sleep with Magnus Bane? How exciting for you" I was practically screaming it was brilliant. He's such a laugh. I feel like in this book we really get to know him, and he's willing to help and stand up in front of the Clave. So much love. I also really loved his friendship with Cristina, it gave me life. I'm gonna need a load more Kieran in the next book! 

As for old favourites, we get a fair bit of Clary and let me tell you. I made it to about 60 pages in this book feeling quite chill before the sense of foreboding and doom and feels hit me. Thanks Clary. I loved watching Jace hanging out with Kit and I'm hoping for more of that, Kit's a little bit like Jace but then...they are Herondales. Seriously, he's got the Jace like one liners down. The two of them together is both hilarious and yet unfortunate for everyone else. 

What pleased me greatly was how much Malec we got. Aw yeaaaahh guys, Magnus and Alec appear and they stick around for quite a bit and I was loving it! Malec is my favourite and I love watching the two of them together so I loved seeing how they where doing and what they where like five years on! There's also plenty of references to Will....we visit the London institute so there would be...the connections...aaahhh I loved it. Cassie links all of her books together so well and so subtly without throwing it in your face every five minutes, it's brilliantly done! And because we get to go to London we see a certain ghost too! For those who've read the Shadowhunter Academy novellas, Jon pops up too. Poor Jon. 

Along with the old and still a wee bit new, we get brand new characters. Brand new, really unlikeable characters. Zara is quite frankly, a b****. Sorry. She's the leader of the Centurions and her father is in charge of the Cohort. The Cohort make me angry. They're against all downworlders and prejudiced even more than the Clave. They want things to go their way and be in charge or whatever and yet Zara and dear old Dad hid away during the Dark War and Zara takes credit for everyone else's work. Basically they're a huge bunch of cowards who are out to make the lives of Downworlders hell. I hope they get what's coming to them in the next book. 

There's plenty of plot threads woven together in this book, obviously the Emma and Jules thread is carried on and there's a nice big bomb drop thrown in there. Which is a wee bit awkward for the show. (Sorry not sorry). Then we have the whole thing with the Cohort and what's going on, as well as the groups quest from the Seelie Queen. All I'm going to say about her is that she appears to be playing the Fey version of Game of Thrones. Which'll be interesting because you know...when you play the Game of Thrones you win or you die. Hoping it'll work out but expecting devastation, I'm not going to lie. We'll see what happens.  

I breezed through this in two sittings, the pace is fast, there's always something happening, some plot thread or action or intrigue. The multiple points of view help us get to know characters and understand their motivations, as well as see what's going on when our characters are split up. Each character has their own voice and I loved getting to know Kit, Ty, Livvy and Dru more as well as Kieran! Cassie's writing is as vivid as ever, I could picture each setting and I loved revisiting some old settings too! Our characters grow and develop more and there are some heartbreaking plot twists. 

Lord of Shadows is the perfect sequel to Lady Midnight, it continues seamlessly on and old plot threads weave with the new as the plot thickens and becomes more complex. There's even more intrigue, more questions to be answered and the ending of this book is truly heartbreaking. There's humour but there's also heartbreak as the stakes are raised and a dangerous new enemy reveals itself. Cassie weaves each of her series together, connecting and linking them in little ways that bring a smile to your face as you read. I'm very, very curious to see how this is going to end, because it's very complex, and there are multiple ways it could go and no clue as to what will happen next! Lord of Shadows continues the Dark Artifices and firmly lodges itself as my second favourite of Cassie's series, second only to The Infernal Devices! the hell do we survive the wait until 2019?! 

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