Monday, 31 December 2018

GUEST POST: Brenda Drake!

Aaah you guys I'm so excited! 
Today, I get to have Brenda Drake on my blog chatting about her inspiration for her books and I just...I can't even right now. I LOVE Brenda's books so much, her Library Jumpers series was so original and so much fun, so hard to put down and just...her imagination is insane okay. Don't believe me? Well she's got a brand new book coming out...TOMORROW, Analiese Rising, and it sounds amazing. Like...*intense grabby hands*
Get's the Da Vinci Code meets American Gods, it's the suspense-filled first book in a new fantasy series, giving us a new take on the paranormal romance genre because...finally it's buh-bye vampires and werewolves, and hello descendants of the God of Death. Just my cup of tea.
Check out the synopsis: 

When a stranger gives Analiese Jordan a list of names before he dies, the last thing she expects to see is her own on it. Not. Cool. Her search for answers leads to the man's grandson, Marek, who has dangerous secrets of his own. Both are determined to unlock the mystery of the list. 

But the truth is deadly. Analiese is a descendant of the God of Death, known as a Riser, with the power to raise the dead and control them. Finding out she has hidden powers? Cool. Finding out she turns corpses into killers? No, thank you. 

Now the trail plants her and Marek in the middle of a war between gods who apparently want to raise an army of the Risen, and Analiese must figure out how to save the world...from herself.

....GIVE. IT. TO. ME. NOW. Am I right?! 

Without further ado, I'm going to move along from raving about Brenda to Brenda's guest post! I had to ask her about her inspiration for her books because every time I read them I'm mind blown by the imagination she has and I'm forever curious about how she dreams all of these brilliant ideas up! This is what she had to say....


For me, inspiration happens from the things around me. I get many ideas from just a simple item. Like with the Library Jumpers series, the idea came from a coffee table book on the most beautiful libraries in the world. As I scanned the photographs, I wanted to jump into the pages and visit each one, which sparked the idea for the Library Jumpers. I imagined battles with knights and creatures fighting among the bookcases. I bought the book, hurried home, and started plotting the first book in the series. 

I got the inspiration for the Fated series during a tarot card reading in New Orleans. I imagined someone being able to change anyone's fate with a touch of a tarot card and the Layne sisters' stories were born. 

The idea for Thunderstruck sprouted out of my love for mythology. While watching American Gods on Stars one day, I wanted to explore the many different mythologies around the world, and that's how I got the idea for Analiese Rising. It was great fun coming up with gods and goddesses for the book. Taking from mythology and placing the gods and goddesses in our times. Discovering their personalities, though influenced by old text, were unique for today. I wanted to explore that. Explore who each god was if I dropped them into the 21st century and took away their powers. 

Inspiration can come in many forms like a simple item around the house, a movie or show, or a person you meet. Being aware, watching and listening to the people and things around you can bring about a wealth of ideas and spark a great story from something as simple as a coffee table book.


Thank you so much to Brenda for taking the time out to to create this guest post for me, not only has she told us all about her inspiration but I actually feel inspired to get out there and wait for something to inspire me! Also huge thanks to Entangled for letting me take part! 
Like I said, I love Brenda's books and I will promote them with my dying breath, if you're looking for fun, original reads with romance and action and heaps of strong female leads, Brenda is the author for you! Library Jumpers is my personal favourite...but then it was my first ever book of hers! Pleaaaase check out Analiese Rising, I can promise you all it's a cracking book! 

Brenda Drake grew up the youngest of three children, an Air Force brat, and the continual new kid at school. Her fondest memories growing up is of her eccentric, Irish grandmother's animated tales, which gave her a strong love for storytelling. So it was only fitting that she would choose to write stories with a bend toward the fantastical. When she's not writing or hanging out with her family, she haunts libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops, or reads someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment).

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Manga: Hiro Mashima's Playground

Hiro Mashima's Playground
Rating: 3/5
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

A new collection of short stories by Hiro Mashima, creator of Fairy Tail and Rave Master! Read some of Mashima's never-before-seen debut stories, including the first appearance of the Fairy Tail guild! 

First off, this is two volumes in one, and it has 8 stories across both volumes! We've got: 

Magicians: Magicians is about a magicians club that's going to be cancelled if they don't scrounge up two more members. Plue guest stars, and honestly? This one was kind of ridiculous and I'm not sure if it was like that on purpose, and was supposed to be a parody? It did give us some action though what with the shady organisation. 

Fairy Tale: This one features a world of spirits and monsters, and a treasure has been stolen. We've got some....familiar faces, names and nicknames like Aquarius, Taurus, Gray, there's someone called Salamander and Silva. The phrase Flame Brain is thrown about too, so I'm sure you can see where Fairy Tail came from! There's some more action, and a nice amount of danger, I was actually intrigued by the world in this one and the characters and I feel like it was wrapped up nicely. 

Cocona: Princess of the devils Cocona is in love with a human man, but Armon can't date a devil. So Cocona and her cat go on a journey to find a druid to turn her human. Kinda like the Little Mermaid but without the mermaid part. Or the Prince part. It's kind of a rom com, and it's basically just a fun little short story. It's nicely paced and it had a nice little twist to it too! 

Plue's Adventure 2: This is Plue from Rave Master, and he has a quest to go on. It's set out like a game, and you can collect points and tick things off of a checklist that you have to find. I have to say...I didn't really have much interest in this one, although I did think it was fun that it was laid out like a game! 

Bad Boys Song: We have four delinquents about to graduate and they reflect back on their school career and realise they might have been a bit...separate from the general school populace. They decide to do a live music show because they want to feel part of the school. This is perhaps the most normal one in this volume as there isn't any magic. 

Magic Party: Elena is learning magic and she's sent on a test. All she has to do is find a magic book...but it's not that easy. This one was a lot of fun, and there's some echoes of Fairy Tail in it too, I wouldn't have minded seeing this one expanded upon! 

Xmas Hearts: Santa's....Santa's everywhere. We join The Santa's, and Santa Strat is basically a Grinch who wants to skip out on Christmas and just eat cake. Unfortunately the Nightmares steal all the cake and he has to fight them to get it back. This one was kinda fun, and was Christmassy. I did actually enjoy it, even if I did think it was a bit silly at points. 

Combo Squad Mixture: Evil anima monsters kidnap kids, and Mafuyu is one of the heroes who fights them, but he's....not that great, shall we say. He gets teamed up with a couple of other unpopular heroes and they have to get their approval rating to 90% or their basically fired. This one was again, one with action and some fun to it! 

Overall, the art is what you'd expect from Mashima, it's an interesting collection of stories. Most of them feature magic, and you can see some similar themes throughout them. It's a fun little collection, each story has a different vibe but there's some romance, magic and action! It's definitely intriguing to dip in and out of, particularly if you're already a Mashima fan! 

Monday, 17 December 2018

Manga: Frau Faust 5

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

With the help of Marion and Nico the homunculus, Johanna reaches the great belfry where Mephistopheles' head is kept. Johanna is nearly finished with the century-long game she's played with her demonic companion, but with Johanna's body slowly shrinking away and the church stopping at nothing to prevent her unholy reunion, will she accomplish her goal before it's too late? 

It's the final volume....finally! We've had a bit of a wait for this final volume to be out, so I'll confess it did take me a minute to catch up with what had happened in the previous volume! Things are a bit hectic in the beginning, we have people escaping left, right and centre and Vito teaming up with Faust. We have Faust and Vito heading to get Mephisto's head and Nico, Marion and Lorenzo swiftly joining the party after a bit of a pep talk. 

We had a sense of foreboding courtesy of one character and interestingly we got some insight into Olga, and I did kind of feel for her to be honest. This volume has a nice amount of action and tension and the was surprising and I was surprised right up until the end, I have to say! I liked how everything was wrapped up, with that one little thread left hanging that lowkey has you cheering! I do kind of wish the series was a bit longer though! 

Friday, 14 December 2018

Manga: Waiting For Spring 9

Waiting For Spring Vol 9
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

The pressure is on now that Aya and Towa have both professed their love to Mitsuki! Fortunately, she has a reliable mentor in Nanase, who is happy to offer what advice she can. But in the course of the conversation, Mitsuki hears some news so troubling that she forgets her own romantic woes...Are Ryuji's hopes doomed to come crashing down around him?! 

Okay so, with both of them confessing, it's obviously caused Mitsuki to have quite the dilemma. She does decide to be upfront with both Aya and Towa, so she's dropping the truth all over the place which I personally think shows how much she's grown as a character so far in the series. 

Meanwhile...we get to know some more about Nana and a past relationship, and of course Mitsuki caves and tells Ryuji who promptly had a little meltdown bless him. BUT there's some...progress perhaps with that relationship? I like that we're not forgetting about them, and keep flitting back to them alongside all the drama with Mitsuki and co. 

The tension between Towa and Aya heats up as Mitsuki is honest with both of the boys about her feelings towards Towa's promise. Aya gets a heroic moment...again. Sorry guys, I'm so not on team Aya. Basketball comes back in to focus this volume as we have some matches to enjoy this volume but there's a lot riding on them winning the tournament that they're entered in. Like being allowed to date for instance, which boy Towa can up his game although after he and Aya's little testosterone fuelled showdown I figure he probably will already! I'm looking forward to things stepping up in the romance aspect and in the basketball aspect in the coming volumes! 

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Manga: Boarding School Juliet 2

Boarding School Juliet Vol 2 
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

The star-crossed lovers Romio Inuzuka and Juliet Persia have so far managed to keep their relationship a secret. But when Inuzuka's devoted childhood friend accidentally reveals a secret of her own, Inuzuka wonders if he should do the same. Meanwhile, the rivalry between White Cats and Black Doggies continues as the annual sports festival gets underway. The feisty adversaries battle for the title of MVP and a chance to dance with anyone of their choosing--and a few wild cats are pouncing for the lovely Persia!
This volume continues the hilarity, as well as introduces us to some new characters and lets us see more of some of the ones that we've already met! We get to see another side of Hasuki, as well as seeing how she and Inuzuka became such good friends....except of course Inuzuka is feeling bad for keeping a secret from her. I did like getting a look at their friendship and it was resolved a lot faster as well as brought in a lot faster than I thought it would be, but then this series doesn't mess around when it comes to pacing. 
We also got to see a decent amount of Maru and.....are they going to give us a love triangle with him?! Anyway, his interactions with Inuzuka are always hilarious and I kind of want them to have a bromance. 
This volume also adds a sense of foreboding as we briefly glimpse the Prefects, who I'm sure are going to be popping up very soon. We also meet Aby and his minion Somali, two White Cats from a rival faction to Persia's, which adds another element to the sports festival! 
Alongside the more serious moments, we once again get plenty of humour and fun moments. Ridiculous as some of them may be, like you know....a fight over a packed lunch!? I'm loving the pacing to this series, and I can never get bored of it!

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Review: Supercute Futures

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

Mox and Mitsu are Supercute. That is to say, they founded the global business Supercute Enterprises as teenagers from Mox's bedroom in London, armed only with a phone, a collection of their favourite cuddly toys and a love of all thing kawaii. Thanks to them, the Supercute aesthetic is now a way of life.
In a world dominated by massive conglomerates all competing to succeed, Supercute has continued to grow bigger and more powerful, morphing from an entertainment company - whose Supercute Show continues to be the world's most popular entertainment - to an organisation fighting for their right to the world's water.
But Mox and Mitsu have no choice. In a world that is slowly tearing itself apart, who will win in the battle to control it - and where will Supercute draw the line . . . 
Honestly, I really wasn't sure what to expect from this book, and I ended up enjoying it way more than I was initially expecting because it was so not what I was expecting! I ended up so hooked in to this and fascinated by the world that was being created. Something has happened and the world isn't what it used to be, but's one of those dystopian worlds that seems terrifyingly likely in the near future. 
On the surface it's all cute and kawaii with pastel colours and cute, fluffy animals, but you delve deeper and see it's quite gritty and grim. I liked how the kawaii elements were brought in to the story and how it was seriously used and not used to mock. Our characters are quite morally grey, and I couldn't help but root for them even though I did side eye them a few times. They seem so...kind of light and ridiculous on the surface but they're actually quite intelligent and a lot darker than I expected. 
All in all it's an interesting read, and a lot darker than I was expecting. It's fast paced and has an interesting ending! 

Manga: Eden's Zero

Eden's Zero Vol 1 
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

At Granbell Kingdom, an abandoned amusement park, Shiki has lived his entire life among machines. But one day, Rebecca and her cat companion Happy appear at the park's front gates. Little do these newcomers know that this is the first human contact Granbell has had in a hundred years! As Shiki stumbles his way into making new friends, his former neighbors stir at an opportunity for a robo-rebellion...And when his old homeland becomes too dangerous, Shiki must join Rebecca and Happy on their spaceship and escape into the boundless cosmos. 

I've been so ready to see what Mashima is going to do next after the end of Fairy Tail, and ever since information about Eden's Zero has been released, I've been so curious about what it's going to be like as we can see a few...similarities from the cover alone! 

The colour pages are cute at the beginning! Rebecca is kind of like Lucy with her attitude, she's a b-cuber so she's basically a YouTuber, but she's kind of a badass too when she needs to be which I wasn't expecting and her BFF is Happy the cat. Shiki has a knack for napping wherever and I'm kind of jealous of that. He uses ether gear that lets him float and have strength etc. Rebecca asks him to be their bodyguard and they register him as an adventurer at Blue Garden. 

The opening chapter kind of hit me in the feels with the robots and Shiki and what they did. But it also introduced us to the world of the series effectively. It looks like there's going to be a focus on the power of friendship again, and there's some ominous speculation from an...entity and a sense of anticipation for the adventure. I liked the way the space settings were drawn and Blue Garden. We have space dragons too!? Like....mechanical dragons?! There's a nice amount of action to go with all the introduction and there's even some Happy and what he is, and Rebecca's previously mentioned badassness. Our two characters are on a quest to find "mother", to get the greatest B-Cube content and up Rebecca's subscribers...basically. 

As much as I enjoyed this volume, I can't ignore the Fairy Tail similarities. In the art both MC's really do look like Lucy and Gray but with some subtle differences, and obviously....the cat. Happy looks like Happy. Elsie Crimson the space pirate....I thought she looked like Erza in the art we'd seen already but she basically is as far as I can tell. Libby is also kind of a grown up Wendy except she's a cow, and then there's Weisz Steiner who looks like Laxus. There's echoes of Fairy Tail throughout with one of the robots wearing the pumpkin from the GMG arc's hat, a quest flyer and so on. The catnapper also totally looked like Racer. 

HOWEVER one of the characters did mention a "manga like that" when talking about Shiki's idea of what a Guild is and now I'm wondering how much of this has been done on purpose and if this series is actually supposed to be set in the same world as Fairy Tail? Like did I miss the announcement that says this is set however many years after Fairy Tail? Are these the descendants of Fairy Tail? 

Mashima did purposely hide some Fairy Tail characters in the volume though, I spotted Team Shadow Gear, Warren, Max and Lucy and Natsu throughout the planet! Although at first I didn't realise it was done on purpose so I was a bit like whaaaaaaat?! 

While there are some similarities to Fairy Tail, the Guild isn't the same, but some of the character designs are similar, the initial volume has left me with plenty to be intrigued by! I've been left with lots of questions and a sense of foreboding thanks to the end of the volume! 

Monday, 3 December 2018

Manga: Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts 3

Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts Vol 3 
Rating: 3/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Hoping to take vengeance for the murder of his childhood friend Sariphi, the young Ilya infiltrates the royal palace. He's captured, and the King shows him mercy, sparing his life. When Ilya learns that Sariphi herself is still very much alive, he demands her return. Sariphi refuses, only to be kidnapped by Ilya, who intends to bring her back to human territory. The King is then confronted with a dilemma: If he truly wishes for Sariphi's happiness, is it kinder to pursue her...or to let her be returned to her own people? 

So, for all Sariphi's talk about how she never had any friends because she was raised to be a turns out that she did have one friend that she forgot to mention...Ilya. He's come to retrieve her or ya know, avenge her if she's already did and thus we have....the love triangle. 

Poor old Leonhart has a bit of a crisis of confidence, bless him, wondering if Sariphi is perhaps better off in the human realm with Ilya and I feel like this little incident has served to show how far their relationship has come and the bond and feelings between them. It's cemented the fact that Sariphi is here to stay before we start, presumably, the next round of the trials. 

Meanwhile Ilya is angry basically all the time, you can't really blame him when you consider his past and thanks to him we get to learn more about Sariphi and how she grew up. I did think this love triangle they threw in was going to last longer than just this one volume...but there's no telling if Ilya will pop up again. However it does seem like they laid it to rest. It provides a nice diversion from the trials and like I said....reaffirms everything before we continue onwards. 

Friday, 30 November 2018

Manga: Napping Princess 2

Napping Princess Vol 2 
Rating: 3/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Kokone's between a rock and a hard place when the bearded man her dad warned her about has shown up at her front door. A close call leaves Joy bear-napped, and Kokone on a mission to get back her bear, the tablet...and her dad!? With Heartland and reality slowing beginning to overlap more and more, will Kokone be able to make a clean getaway from the trouble that finds her both awake and asleep? 

I have to say, the creepy dude from Shijima motors was getting right on my last nerve this volume! I fully couldn't wait for him to be dealt with as he sent Kokone off on the run after she retrieved the tablet he thieved from her. 

We get some more background on Kokone's parents and their relationship with Shijima motors and what went down along with other blanks being filled in...which is to be expected from a final volume in a duology! We have quite the power struggle between two factions in the company and the need for auto driving cars for the olympics. 

This is another fast paced volume, although I did get confused a little bit when the dream world merged with the real world and the people from the real world were in the dream world and not as their characters from the dream world. But I do like the dream world and I'm kind of sad we didn't get to spend more time exploring it! I was hoping we'd get to see a bit more of it and go in to more depth with it than we actually did. I did like how things were wrapped up, however, and it was definitely a satisfying ending to a speedy two volumes! 

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Review: The Glass of Lead and Gold

The Glass of Lead and Gold 
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

In the snow-covered city of Londra, young Tabetha survives by finding treasures in the mudbanks of the river Themse. On Christmas Eve, a sinister stranger asks her to keep her eyes open for a priceless, long-lost magical object: the Glass of Lead and Gold.

As word of the Glass spreads across the city, Tabetha finds herself with some unlikely companions, not least a one-armed girl and a rather impressive soup chef. But will Tabetha discover that there are even greater fortunes to be found than the magical Glass?

I know I'm super late to reviewing this, life happened, but I'm kind of glad I was late to reading this?! I love this world, and I love the main series, and this little completely perfect for Christmas! 

I love Funke's storytelling, it's so gorgeous and has such a fairy tale quality to it! The characters...I was so intrigued by them, despite the shortness of this, I got Tabetha's motivations and why she was the way she was even if I did kind of sigh and wince when she did certain things! We have a fun little cast for this, to the extent I'm like.....can we have more please?! And you know...this is saturated with the imaginativeness that Funke usually gives us in her books! 

Manga: Sword Oratoria 5

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

Just strength. That's what I need for my wish...
There has been a sudden shift, and suddenly the reason for Aiz's desire for strength has changed...Is it Bell? Aiz has finally reached her goal of ranking up to level 6! What new adventures await her now in the dungeon...? 
Aiz finally gets a moment with Bell and it was interesting to see her reflecting on herself and on what she can tell of Bells journey so far...until Bell ran away of course! I was curious about how they'd show her internal thoughts and I liked how it was done. 
I love the relationship between Aiz and Riveria that we're getting to see too, they're like siblings or Riveria's like a mother to her in a way. Things take an interesting turn this volume as Aiz has levelled up to level 6, and she's asked to help Bell...but ends up on a quest of her own with some of Hermes familia. 
Meanwhile Loki, Riveria and some of the others are discussing these troubling new monsters and the stones...and the tamer that knows the name of Aiz's mother. There are things for some of them to investigate and preparations to be made for the expedition the familia wants to take. Not only do we have the mystery monsters, but we also now have the mystery of Aiz's family, and I'm liking that the series is bringing in other plot threads to keep things interesting. 
The volume has a steady pace, we have Dionysus making an appearance and sticking his oar in, Bete and Lefiya going after Aiz accompanied by Filvis for some extra help and she has a heartbreaking story of her own. And of course we have Aiz investigating floor 24 with Hermes familia. There's a couple of battle scenes and some background on a couple characters, but this volume is mostly setting up for what's going to be a big showdown and there's a nice sense of foreboding throughout the volume to make you suitably tense for the next one! It also leaves us with plenty of questions! 

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Review: The Blue Salt Road

The Blue Salt Road
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

An earthly nourris sits and sings
And aye she sings, "Ba lilly wean,
Little ken I my bairn's father,
Far less the land that he staps in. 
(Child Ballad, no. 113)

So begins a stunning tale of love, loss and revenge, against a powerful backdrop of adventure on the high seas, and drama on the land. The Blue Salt Road balances passion and loss, love and violence and draws on nature and folklore to weave a stunning modern mythology around a nameless, wild young man.

Passion drew him to a new world, and trickery has kept him there - without his memories, separated from his own people. But as he finds his way in this dangerous new way of life, so he learns that his notions of home, and your people, might not be as fixed as he believed. 

I love all things mythology, and I love Harris's books! I've always loved her Norse Mythology books and I've been so excited for this! I've read some books with selkie lore in before, and I was excited to see what Harris was going to do with it so I eagerly dived in to this book and it's short but sweet! It also has some completely gorgeous illustrations throughout it! 

I loved the storytelling and the fairy tale like tone to it, I was fascinated by the folklore. I got so in to this book that I was getting kind of pissy on the selkies behalf to be honest. I was just as horrified as him when he realised what had happened, and I was just as "woah" as the characters when certain discoveries were made. I was even surprised by the ending because I thought it was going to end a certain way...but the selkie completely surprised me with his choice and I was kind of like....really dude!? 

Manga: High School Prodigies Have it Easy Even in Another World

High School Prodigies Have it Easy Even in Another World! Vol 1
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

In Japan, there are seven superhuman highschoolers who are world-class geniuses in various fields ranging from governance to economics and beyond. On one fateful day, these seven wind up in a plane accident and wake up only to find themselves in another world.
Finding themselves in a foreign place where magic and beast-people are real, they immediately proceed to panic-or at least that's what would've happened if they were some run of the mill students!!
If anything, these seven are actually using their talents to do absolutely ludicrous things so they can go home... 
I'm going to be 100% honest with you guys and say that while I was interested in this manga because it sounds a bit different to the whole "other world" ones out there...I still wasn't entirely sure what I was going to make of it. However...I ended up quite enjoying this volume, a lot more than I was fully expecting! 
In this series we have.....Aoi, the worlds greatest sword-master  Keine the worlds greatest doctor. Prince Akatsuki the worlds greatest magician. Ringo the worlds greatest inventor. Masato the worlds greatest businessman. Tsukasa the worlds greatest genius and the Prime Minister. Shinobu the worlds greatest journalist...and a ninja descendant. They are our high school prodigies who end up in another world after their plane goes down! 
I really loved how it introduced us to them individually at the beginning of the volume, in quick bursts showing us a snapshot of them and who they are and what they can do. They're actually quite an interesting bunch of characters, and I'm definitely curious to learn more about them and their skills! However we also have Lyrule and Winona as characters, they save them, and then there's the other villagers! And you know, not all of them are happy to have these visitors suddenly staying with them! 
I was intrigued by the world, we have elves and dragons, and I do find the whole 'plane going missing/plane crashing' an interesting way to do the other world rather than the dying and being reborn thing that I personally feel is being done to death now. It adds an interesting element as of course...they want to go home but they have to work out how! Considering the fantasy setting and some things said in this initial volume..I'm waiting to see who has magic out of our prodigies. 
To be fair, the prodigies do seem to be a little arrogant, but I guess they've earned it? This first volume we pretty much see them start to settle in to life at the village and take charge of the village. Helping the villagers, setting up a decent trading business and so on. They're basically bringing our theirs. There's more to it than I thought there might be initially, and it's definitely interesting as so far we haven't had the whole 'super powered chosen one' hero out to complete quests and such. It kind of reminds me of one of those games were you get to build your own village and make it prosper. 
I enjoyed this initial volume, it introduces the characters and the world nicely, we get to see a little bit of drama in this volume as they find a better way to make money from their goods. Plus there's some tension and danger towards the end thanks to Roo and her situation. I also liked the art, the settings are nicely detailed and the character designs are aesthetically pleasing, shall we say?

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Manga: Compulsive Gambler 7

Compulsive Gambler Vol 7
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

The Momobami clan sends envoys to Hyakkaou Private Academy in the hopes of winning not only the open election for student council president, but also leadership over the family, while Erimi challenges Yumeko to a game of Finger-Cutting Guillotine. 

Aw Yumeko's finally lost her house pet status guys! She's back to being an actual person, and things are looking pretty good...until the Student Council President decides to have an election for, you know...Student Council President and calls in the rest of her family. Of course the voting is going to be done over gambling, would it be any other way with this series!? 

I was pretty tense waiting to see if Yumeko was interested in winning and trying to become SCP, but I'm still not entirely sure. We all know she just loves the thrill of the gamble, but there's an interesting bit of information or perhaps it was more an implication that's making me think there's a lot more to Yumeko and her actions than we previously thought. 

Erimi is the first of the new characters to challenge Yumeko, and she basically wants to play a giant game of chicken with their fingers at risk of being cut off. So of course Yumeko's loving it. Honestly I loved Erimi's face when sh explained the game to Yumeko and Ikishima and she was no doubt expecting, horror, fear and so on....but got them absolutely loving it and being all excited. 

It's also Erimi that makes some interesting comments about Yumeko that had me like "WHAAAAT?!" So no I'm it true? How? What? Why?! WHAT DOES THIS MEAN!? I need to know. I need a proper reveal and explanation so I know it's legit. It does explain the President's interest in her though! 

Interestingly, it looks like the Vice President might be about to make a power play? She wants something from Mary, but we won't find out what until next volume. I'm wondering if Mary is about to turn on Yumeko and end their alliance, or if it's going to be an even bigger team up with her than I previously thought. I'm hoping she'll stay on Team Yumeko! 

Things are tense this volume, as we see our three participate in their game and I was on edge to see who was going to get hurt...or if they would at all as bits were revealed slowly. Things have definitely been shaken up with the new characters and the new direction of the story, they're going to get a lot more intense and I'm excited to see the other members of the family and what they've got up their sleeves! The stakes have definitely been raised!

Monday, 26 November 2018

Review: Princess in Practice

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

As they return to Rosewood after the dramatic events of their first year, Lottie and Ellie are hoping for a peaceful term.

But strange things are happening at Rosewood. Pupils are being poisoned. 

Is the threat of secret organisation Leviathan growing closer?

Lottie and Ellie are determined to find the culprit; but danger could be closer than they think... 

We're baaaaack! I really enjoyed the first book, and I've been itching to get back to Rosewood and see what's going to happen next with our characters and with the threat of Leviathan! I have to say...the opening is rather ominous. It was at that point that I decided it would be best to make myself comfortable, with a blanket, hot chocolate and some biscuits, and anticipate not moving for a while. I'm not going to lie, I read this in one sitting, it was just so easy to whiz through! 

The cast continues to be diverse and I love Connie for that! But not only that..they're also entertaining, relatable and intriguing and I can perfectly picture each and every one. Particularly the twins....even though the mental image...or rather video, of them speaking at the same time creeped me out a little bit. Binah seems so mysterious to me still!? I'm itching to learn more about her and we do get to spend quite some time with her this book, which I was pleased about. She joined our little trio trying to work out what was going on at Rosewood and so on. 

Poor old Lottie though, she's struggling with her family situation and not knowing all that much about her family's history and there are a couple of "OMG" moments involving her and her family history in this book! Jamie.....he's struggling too, and honestly, I'm getting such foreboding vibes from him. A lot of the time this book we've got Lottie and Ellie and Binah, and  he kind of...distances himself a bit. Or maybe that was just me reading in to it, but I do feel like something's going to happen with him. We do get a new character though, Percy! He provides some intrigue, and a new ship for me, I'm not going to lie! 

I'm so awful with this book and shipping characters, there is not a ship in this book that I don't like and speaking of shipping...the romance takes an interesting turn! Hello f/f romance, I am ready for you! I mean...this is yet more LGBT rep in this series and I'm so here for it. 

I do really love how all of our favourite characters came together to solve the puzzle in this one, and I'm SO looking forward to them working together more. I'm waiting for them to bring the others in on everything though. I'm so ready for the team up! 

I like the writing style, there's just something about it that makes it hard to put down, and makes it so entertaining and fun! Although I do wish that we got a more even distribution when it comes to the POV switches, mostly because I want to learn more about the other characters because Connie has made me so curious about them! That being said, we did get to learn a bit more about the secondary characters in this book so maybe I'm just greedy? 

I loved the reveals about the school, I loved the reveals about Lottie's family, I loved the world building, it's continued on brilliantly in this book as we expand on some things. We get to know more about Maradova and what it's like, as well as more about the school. I do get Harry Potter vibes with this one, mixed with kind of....Scooby Doo/Famous Five mystery vibes! 

OH I did get super excited that they visited Hampton Court Palace because that's 10 minutes up the road from me, and I went on at least 3 school trips there and I was reading like "Yaaaaasssssss, this was literally me [REDACTED] years ago!"...although they're more excited than I was by the third time. 

But don't get me started on the ending because....oh snap. I feel like the next book is going to be more intense, like this one upped the intensity but the next one is going to go even further. I feel like Connie's building the series up, the first book acquainted us with the cast, and the school and the basics we needed for the series, this one's expanding upon things and I know these books are going to just get better and better! This is one series that I look forward to the next instalment in! 

Sunday, 25 November 2018

BLOG TOUR: Shadow of the Fox

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

A single wish will spark a new dawn. Every millennium, one age ends and another age dawns...and whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers holds the power to call the great Kami Dragon from the sea and ask for any one wish. The time is near and the missing pieces of the scroll will be sought throughout the land of Iwagoto. The holder of the first piece is a humble, unknown peasant girl with a dangerous secret. Demons have burned the temple Yumeko was raised in to the ground, killing everyone within, including the master who trained her to both use and hide her kitsune powers. Yumeko escapes with the temple's greatest treasure - one part of the ancient scroll. Fate thrusts her into the path of a mysterious samurai, Kage Tatsumi of the Shadow Clan. Yumeko knows he seeks what she has and is under orders to kill anything and anyone who stands between him and the scroll. 

I don't even know how to begin to review the excellence that was this book!? It immediately cemented it's spot as one of my favourite books of the year, and it's one of those books that I would sell an internal organ to climb inside the pages of it. I fell completely in love with this book, and the world, and the characters and the mythology included in it...and I feel like this might be Kagawa's best book yet! 

The opening chapter draws you in with the beautiful descriptions swiftly melting into a horrifying, yet intriguing scene as we kick off the plot. The intrigue doesn't let up as we meet our two narrators and have the pieces fall in to place and some mythology woven in for the plot to really get started. I had so many thoughts and theories as we met the characters and the support cast! 

Yumeko is a halt kitsune who lives with the monks guarding part of the scroll, and I loved her okay. She's mischievous, she's brave, she's naive and trusting and she has absolutely no concept of sarcasm so her interactions with Okame were always hilarious! You can't help but root for her, and I wanted to see more of her magic, and I have suspicions about her heritage and if we'll be finding out more about that. She also made me nervous because of the whole hiding her nature thing but you could see the struggle she had with the two sides of herself which I'm anticipating coming in more now she's gotten to let loose with her magic. 

Our other narrator was Tatsumi, the badass demon slayer who's been honed in to a weapon with no weaknesses and no fear. He wields a demon sword...think Seraph of the end Style. Tatsumi is stoic and emotionless....and kinda grouchy. He doesn't speak much, he'd probably kill you for even thinking about speaking to him. I was so curious about his upbringing and his Clan and the whole deal with the sword! I really want to know how he came to be part of the Shadow Clan?!

While both characters grow over the course of the book, Yumeko starts to understand the world and how it works, and starts to understand sarcasm, but Tatsumi....I feel like he develops the most in this book. He starts to trust Yumeko when he's never trusted anyone before, and after spending time with her he starts to feel things, which is something he hasn't been allowed to do before and it makes his struggle with his demon even more serious. 

Yumeko and Tatsumi are our main two narrators but we also get a couple of chapters with Suki, who we're introduced with at the beginning, bless her. I did briefly wonder why we were focusing on her so much at the beginning when she wasn't the protagonist but it became clear as the story went on and I did really like how she was woven in to the story from the beginning. She provides us snapshots that amp up the tension and impending danger...and foreboding.

I genuinely loved the cast of characters, Okame was so much fun and had me chuckling. I know he's kind of shady in the beginning and I will admit I wasn't too sure of him...and I'm still kind of not. Like I'm hoping he's not going to turn out to be a bad guy, but I'm not as trusting as Yumeko! Either way I loved his character more and more as the book went on and his little comments matched my thoughts too, I'm going to be devastated if he ends up being a baddie! 

Daisuke, oh Daisuke....I knew from your description at the beginning that we'd be seeing you again and Kagawa made me wait until most of the book for it! I was looking out for him throughout the whole book, and I needed to know how he was going to come in to the story, when he was going to pop in, and I'm so curious about his family....there's no way he can be part of that family and be so chill? With no power struggles!? He's a contrast to Okame, he's more serious, he's very into Bushido and testing his skills but he's very honourable too. 

Reika is the last member of our little gang but we don't meet her until towards the end of the book, and I'm so looking forward to getting to see more of her and get to know her better. From what we've seen so far...she's a no-nonsense badass. There are plenty of other intriguing characters and a wide array of bad guys out for the scroll and to stop our characters but also mysterious helpers, like Seigetsu. I am so freaking curious about him!? Who he is? Who's side is he really on? What is he!? Then at the end the evil lady was all "You're...." and I was screeching at the book "WHO IS HE?! FINISH YOUR SENTENCE BEFORE YOU DIE DON'T BE RUDE". I'm so hoping we'll be seeing more of him next book! Although I do have a small suspicion about who he is but I'm probably wrong! 

I'm assuming we're getting a romance between Tatsumi and Yumeko, but it's going to be slow burn, I can tell you that. I do love Tatsumi and Yumeko's interactions and how they've bonded and grown close, and the struggle it's caused within Tatsumi. But....I kind of sense the opportunity for a love triangle with Daisuke too and I would so be here for it if the book goes that way! I do feel like we'll be seeing more of Daisuke interacting with Yumeko in the next book. I'm not going to lie, I'm already shipping Reika and Okame! 

Obviously, there's way too much going on for the romance to be the main focus, we just have little moments and thoughts as it's being built up. Like I said...prepare for slow burn! 

The world is freaking amazing, like wow....the world building. It rose up around me, each scene was so vivid and atmospheric. Dear God...can someone make this in to a TV series?! Please?! I could seriously see it being a movie or a show. It's one of those books that you can so easily get lost in because of how vivid the world is and how much it engrosses you, and read for hours, without realising time has passed...which is how I read half of it before realising it was 3am...oops. 

I love Kagawa's writing style and her storytelling, and like I said...I think this is her best yet! Or at least it's my favourite out of all of her series now! She weaves so much in to this, mythology, culture, historical aspects, action, mystery and magic. The pace is steady, be warned, we're on the road a lot because you know...we're on a quest! We're meeting other characters who join our squad, and we encounter situations that allow them to bond and us to dive in to more mythology and folklore as we have these mini adventures, building up as we head towards the capital and stage one of the overall quest being complete. It's not rushed, neither did I feel it was too slow paced, as there's lots of action moments to keep things going. It's just so richly written and perfectly paced and everything is so well done to suck you in and build up the plot. 

I'm just so in love with this book, I've always been fascinated by Japanese and Chinese mythology and folklore and history, and this one let's me sink my teeth in to a tonne of Japanese folklore and mythology which is something I can't get enough of. I'm also pretty proud of myself, because I've been attempting to learn Japanese and I already knew the forms of address, and what some of the words Kagawa used meant! Plus I feel like I learned some more after reading this book! I did love that Kagawa used Japanese words throughout, I felt like it added to the world building and made the book so authentic rather than just using the western version of the words! 

I can't even with the ending of this book though, everything is built up so perfectly to the climatic ending and it's full of badass fight scenes and blood and savagery...and a couple of last plot twists, and then....we basically get an idea of what's coming and what questions are going to be answered...and I actually thought some of them were going to be answered right then! But Kagawa is basically just like "lol see you next book" after teasing us! The wait is going to be brutal. I JUST HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS STILL OKAY. I NEED TO KNOW. 

Shadow of the Fox is richly written, and excellently builds up the world and the plot as we go on a quest with our squad of intriguing, and likeable characters. Mythology and folklore is woven in with the blood magic, evil plotting and adventure, and it's a book that's hard to put down, and will fully engross you and leave you bereft upon reaching the end of the book! 

Friday, 23 November 2018

Review: Empire of Sand

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

The Amrithi are outcasts; nomads descended of desert spirits, they are coveted and persecuted throughout the Empire for the power in their blood. Mehr is the illegitimate daughter of an imperial governor and an exiled Amrithi mother she can barely remember, but whose face and magic she has inherited.

When Mehr’s power comes to the attention of the Emperor’s most feared mystics, she must use every ounce of will, subtlety, and power she possesses to resist their cruel agenda.

Should she fail, the gods themselves may awaken seeking vengeance… 

I loved the sound of it when I was approached about reviewing this, Indian inspired adult fantasy...vengeful Gods...I was sold! Plus it's an own voices read so there's a lot of the authors heritage woven in! I was so ready to dive in and get sucked in to the world of the book and Suri's writing allows that to happen from the start! I was intrigued by Mehr and the magic, and I found the writing to be quite rich! The storytelling did really well at painting a vivid picture and I had a specific aesthetic in mind! 

I had an overall sense of foreboding, I knew something bad was going to happen, I just waiting for it to happen. I was on Mehr's side from the beginning, I disliked Maryam and honestly Mehr's whole situation to be honest. The world building was very well done, you see everything horrible (which feels like a bit of an understatement to be honest) that the Maha and the Emperor have done to the Amrithi people. I wanted them to go down, I'm not going to lie. But I got were Mehr was coming from, even if I wanted to scream at her not to do the thing at one point. I admired her, and how she was so true to her ancestry and the rites, she genuinely enjoyed doing them, and I enjoyed reading about them. I've read books before were the character kind of forgets all about all of that after a few chapters, but for Mehr they were strongly rooted in her character. 

As for Amun, I honestly really felt for him despite the fact I wasn't too sure about him at first. He didn't seem overly bad, and I warmed up to him more and more as the book went on. Much like Mehr did actually. I enjoyed the romance and watching them grow closer, and bond and have these little moments. I feel like it grew really nicely, and wasn't overly in your face but still had a nice presence. I was actually terrified at one point to the extent I was like "if he dies...I'm throwing this book across the room".  We have other interesting characters, although some of them did have me raging, the Maha for instance, was suitably evil and dark. I also loved the daiva and I was so curious about them, and I still want to see more of them! Especially as my perspective of them had changed by the end of the book. 

I did have one issue with this book, and that's the pacing. Normally I love books that build up the world, and have a steady pace as they build things up in general, but this just didn't work. At least for me anyway. The beginning of the book was strong, but towards the middle it slowed down a bit, and I felt like nothing was really happening. When something did happen I was more excited that something had finally happened, than about whatever had happened and there was also a problem with over explaining things. 

Overall, while I did enjoy this, it has excellent storytelling and world building and a cinematic setting to it as well as intriguing characters...but things did meander and my attention was struggling to stay focused on the book after a certain point, but I did enjoy how things ended and how it was all brought to a conclusion! So just because I had pacing issues with this, doesn't mean I wouldn't pick up any of Suri's future releases, because I definitely enjoyed her writing and the picture she painted! 
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