Friday, 21 September 2018

Light Novel: Sword Art Online 14


Sword Art Online Vol 14
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

While struggling to reach the highest point of Central Cathedral, Kirito and Alice must confront a lamentably natural Integrity Knight. 

Okaaaaaaaay, with this volume the whole Underworld Arc comes to an end...I think. Or it might be more accurate to say the Arc with the Administrator comes to an end? I have to say, thank God because I do feel like this arc has gone on waaaaay too long, and I feel like a couple of the volumes leading up to this one dragged it out too long, and it could have been cut down a bit. 

BUT this volume was badass. The entire volume is action packed, probably because the entire volume was a giant battle! Literally battle after battle, and I was quite impressed with how it's done. Much as I love SAO, I do feel at times that Kirito is a wee bit overpowered, like in the Aincrad ARC and GGO and so on...he never really has to sacrifice much to win. This volume changes that and there was a completely unexpected plot twist. SPOILER ALERT, I was not expecting a main character to be killed off, but it happened in order for Kirito to defeat the bad guy. 

As if all of that wasn't enough to have you nervous as you're reading, this volume gives us an excellent cliffhanger. It was so well done, and has me itching for the next volume! We get to hear fragments of what's going on in the real world, and it's not sounding good. Honestly I can't remember how we left things with Asuna and co but things have definitely gone downhill. I'm thinking we're getting thrown back in to where Kirito just came from BUT I have a feeling Asuna and the other characters are going to be joining him! This volume is probably the most exciting one recently! 

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Manga: Blue Mistral 4



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

When Wendy and Carla hear a rumor of a harp that can call dragons, they go on an adventure to see for themselves! There they meet little Emily, who is convinced that Wendy is a real angel. Wendy plays along until Emily decides that angels can grant wishes! Soon, a darker mystery unravels, and a religious cult threatens the girls' lives. The pressure is on for Wendy to solve these mysteries! 

The final volume of Blue Mistral is here! Everything Fairy Tail related is wrapping up and it kinda makes me sad! The opening chapter of this final volume is cute and heart warming, and we even get to see Mink again! You may or may not remember him from the previous volume. I'd ship it but...he's not in the main series. 

Honestly, this volume starts out all cute and adorable and then it gets pretty intense as Wendy is poisoned trying to protect Emily....the girl with the harp who mistakes her for an angel. 

I really liked the mystery element and there's a nice amount of action too. Plus we get to see a new Celestial Spirit and Natsu pops up as well! I do love it when he pops up in this series, it's always fun to see how he gets portrayed in spin offs! 

While being aimed at a slightly younger audience, this is still a fun little spin off, and it's easy to read. Wendy really comes in to her own in this one, and it was nice to see more of a focus on her as she is the youngest and has a lot of growing up to do and you see her doing some of that in this series. I feel like it carried on well and connected back to the main series well too, and of course, it all came to a satisfying end! 

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Review: Tempests and Slaughter



Tempests and Slaughter 
Rating: 3/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

In the ancient halls of the Imperial University of Carthak, a young man has begun his journey to becoming one of most powerful mages the realm has ever known. Arram Draper is the youngest student in his class and has the Gift of unlimited potential for greatness . . . and of attracting danger.
At his side are his two best friends: clever Varice, a girl with too often-overlooked, and Ozorne, the `leftover prince' with secret ambitions. Together, these three forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms.
But as Ozorne inches closer to the throne and Varice grows closer to Arram's heart, Arram realizes that one day - soon - he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.
In the Numair Chronicles, fans of Tamora Pierce will be rewarded with the never-before-told story of how Numair Salmalin came to Tortall. Newcomers will discover an unforgettable fantasy adventure where a kingdom's future rests on the shoulders of a boy with unimaginable gifts and a talent for making deadly enemies. 
I really, really wanted to love this book, unfortunately I just ended up thinking it was okay. Don't get me wrong, it's cinematic from the start, it's not like it's hard or stuffy to read either. I loved the magic and the magic system, and I got some very strong Harry Potter vibes throughout, like....I feel like the main three characters are Harry, Hermione and Ron...those kind of vibes although I did like Arram, I Varice and Ozorne. They where interesting and fun characters, plus I felt the world was built up nicely as where the settings and the background information on everything and everyone. Plus I liked the Gladiator games that we got to see, and I'm anticipating Pierce doing interesting things with the slavery angle in the next book.
The main drawback for me was that I spent a big chunk of the book just...bored, because nothing was really happening. There was no direction and nothing really happens until the end of the book when things are presumably set up for the next book which I would imagine has more going on in it. We literally spend most of the book following Arram's every day life at school, and yes a few things happen to spice it up a bit...but it wasn't really enough. I couldn't even tell you half of what happened because it was so unremarkable. 
I couldn't see where the story was going, it felt like there was no plot for most of the book. It got to a point when we where learning things about Arram that frankly I didn't want to know, and didn't see how it had any bearing on the story...when there appeared to be no plot at all, when I was seriously tempted to DNF the book. It was a struggle for me to get through to the end because nothing was happening and I just didn't see what the plot was? Following Arram as he hits puberty? There's clearly a lot of building up going on...but it's not for the climax of this book. Obviously we're setting things up for the next book, but I wish it hadn't taken however many hundreds of pages to do it, because I really do feel like a couple hundred pages of this book where kind of unnecessary. 
Full honesty? I resorted to skim reading just to get through it, as it meandered about. The only bright point is that the next book should have better pacing and should have a lot more going on. I just feel this could have been a lot shorter than it actually was. Plus I'm really disappointed because I'd been looking forward to this one, and I eagerly dived in only to find myself struggling to make it through. 

Light Novel: I've Been Killing Slimes 2


I've Been Killing Slimes Vol 2
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Azusa's life has gotten a little more lively since word got out that she's level 99, but she's been able to take it relatively easy with her new companions. Well, except for the ghost in Halkara's workshop...and a run-in with the law...and an invitation to a demon castle?! Still, even with so much trouble brewing on the horizon, Azusa's not about to forget the importance of taking life one step at a time. 

The first volume of this series was fun and a little wacky, and this second volume continues in much the same vein. Our merry little group are opening a maid cafe and it's not long before Beelzebub is roped in to help. I love how she's seemingly cold and harsh on the outside but is actually quite indulgent like a doting aunt to Falfa and Shalsha. I'm also enjoying that each volume seems to want to make use of all the characters. 

Along with the hilarity of the cafe, Halkara opens up a factory too providing a more...serious note. It's apparently haunted and of course the ghost, Rosalie, is the newest roommate to come to the house. She's hilariously blunt about how she died, and of course she gets a job as a cleaner to pull her weight. I'm looking forward to seeing more of her and I like how new characters are smoothly being added in without overwhelming the cast. 

Unfortunately it's not all smooth sailing once we get past the ghost aspect of the factory, there's a bit of a conspiracy to get Halkara arrested by the shady Noble/Governor Golder. She wouldn't pay him bribe money, and it all gets a bit Suits but with a supernatural twist and without Mike and Harvey...obviously. 

Thanks to Beelzebub winning a medal and having to attend a ceremony, we get to meet the Demon King Pecora and of course...things don't go to plan. Perhaps somewhat predictably it all goes terribly wrong anf Azusa has to fight the Demon King to save lives. 

Volume 2 is another fun volume with humour, suspense and tension as well as action. New characters Rosalie, Vania the leviathan and Pecora being added to the mix bring the fun in this volume, and we kind of get a bit of everything. The characters have really become like a family which is nice to see! There's chaos, new characters, and this volume is excellently paced with never a dull moment. It keeps moving forward. 

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Review: Catwoman Soulstealer



Catwoman: Soulstealer
Rating: 3/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

When the Bat's away, the Cat will play. It's time to see how many lives this cat really has. . . .

Two years after escaping Gotham City's slums, Selina Kyle returns as the mysterious and wealthy Holly Vanderhees. She quickly discovers that with Batman off on a vital mission, Batwing is left to hold back the tide of notorious criminals. Gotham City is ripe for the taking.

Meanwhile, Luke Fox wants to prove he has what it takes to help people in his role as Batwing. He targets a new thief on the prowl who seems cleverer than most. She has teamed up with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, and together they are wreaking havoc. This Catwoman may be Batwing's undoing. 


I've been living for the DC Icons series, and I've been particularly excited to see Catwoman...not just because "yaaaay Catwoman!" but because we'd be getting to see Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy too! Harley is pretty much my favourite DC female, and I'm kind of disappointed she's not getting her own book! Plus I've been intrigued to see how Maas would write a book that isn't fantasy. 

As we start the book we get a glimpse of the past and how Selina was made and ended up in the position she finds herself in when we time skip two years to the present and she makes her grand return. We definitely get to see the seedier side of Gotham thanks to it, and it goes some way to letting you understand her and whys he's doing what she's doing. 

Maas's writing cinematically paints Gotham as gritty, grungey and dark as you would expect it to be, with a fair few familiar faces scattered throughout and I'm not talking about Harley and Ivy. Alfred? Lucius? A couple of sisters called Talia and Nyssa? Heard of any of them? They all pop up. Along with a certain clown....something I wasn't expecting. I have to say, I did get excited whenever one of them would pop up, I wasn't expecting anyone other than Harley and Ivy and I fangirled hardcore! 

I really enjoyed the origins for Selina, I don't know all that much about her specifically, she's not one of the characters I've focused on so I only know what I've seen from Gotham. The Selina of this book has fought her way to her own survival as well as her sisters and she will do anything to help her sister. That's her main motivation. I really admired her strength and determination, she went through hell and came out the other side. She's tough, but you can also see she's human. She was pretty sassy when she was being Catwoman too. You spend a lot of the book kind of looking at her...like "okay, you're a villain but I love you...." but she didn't seem 100% villainous, and there are crumbs dropped throughout as to what her motivation is before everything comes together. I would be lying if I didn't say that I looked at Selina at points and saw shadows of Celaena. Also if you're expecting Bi Selina....you're gonna be disappointed. 

Along with Selina's point of view we also get Luke's, I think you can guess from his surname that he's Lucius's son. Which also explains how he fell in with Bruce. Again, I'm not that familiar with Batwing, so I can't really comment on the accuracy. I really enjoyed Luke as a character, he's trying to get back to the person he used to be before everything went down on his tour of duty. He's suffering PTSD, and he's a POC love interest, I was all kinds of excited. Unfortunately I feel like he was largely there just to be a love interest for Selina and for various other things in the plot to happen. Which was somewhat of a disappointment because I feel like we didn't really get to see him shine, and he wasn't as fleshed out as Selina. I did roll my eyes at the romance, because of course it had to be in there, but it just seemed so....thrown in. I'm also not sure if I should comment on her attempts to show the struggles of being a black male and oppressed...because I obviously know nothing and am not in a position to comment as to its accuracy. But I did wince a bit, and I kind of feel like this was Maas going overboard to be Diverse and prove she 'gets it' after the comments about the rep in her other two series. 

As for Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn's relationship? I ship it. I 100% shrieked when Ivy first appeared, I loved her origin story, and the way she was brought to life in this book! She's actually quite...warm. She and Selina aren't used to having friends and so are enjoying having each other, I really loved the bond and friendship between the two of them that carried on right through until the end. I also really felt for Ivy too. 

As for my girl Harley Quinn, like I said she's my ultimate favourite so perhaps I was overly biased when it came to her. I couldn't wait to see how she'd be portrayed in this book, and while I liked her we didn't get to see as much of her as we did Ivy, and she didn't really match the Harley I know. She was more Suicide Squad Harley and I have my issues with that Harley. The Harley I love was not present, nor did she utter the words "puddin'" once. Maas also showed the non-villain side of Ivy and Selina and made them look pretty damn good...Harley not so much. She just seemed like a trigger happy girl with nothing deeper compared to the other two, other than loving the Joker. I felt for her, and some empathy was created for her...but not as much as Ivy which was a disappointment to me. It felt unequal between the three. 

As much as I was here for the team up between these three badass ladies, for a chunk of the book no plot was really apparent, we where just kinda rolling with them as they robbed various places, while little hints are dropped about Selina's grand plan and what's going on. We did get some flashbacks of Selina's time training and glimpses of the Al Ghul sisters, as well as some of what she went through and what forged her. I did enjoy the dual POV because you could see what they thought of each other and the struggles both of them faced, even if that was something used to further the romance which I side eyed. 

There's a nice amount of action, there's some romance in there because of course. Luke's PTSD was realistic, and he and Selina's bonding was nicely done although like I said...side eyeing how it jus furthered the romance. I liked the team up between the three ladies, yes there didn't seem to be much direction at the beginning but as the book went on more pieces are dropped and we build up to quite the explosive ending. Everything was wrapped up nicely, and the ending did have me on the edge of my seat a little bit! But I did side eye a few things. Some of the characters being brought in and how they're portrayed, then there's Luke and his being there just....because romance. 

Friday, 14 September 2018

Manga: Again 4



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

It's day two of the joint practice between the ouendan and the cheerleading club. Having been made ouendan captain for a day, Kinichiro takes the drastic action of ordering Usami to perform the cheerleaders' choreography, which supercharges the practice session, but at the price of Usami's rage. The once-unified club descends into arguing, and once everybody's cards are on the table, will they be able to recover at all? 
First of all, as we start the volume we see Imamura's grand plan and it's an interesting mashup of the Ouendan's moves and the Cheerleaders and it certainly seems like it'll breathe new life in to the Ouendan. The club finally comes to an understanding with each other after a little cht, and everyone agrees to collaborate and bring some new life to their moves, and I'm actually pretty excited to see what they come up with. I'm feeling quite proud of Imamura and his brief stint as Captain for achieving this! 
Then, just as things are looking pretty bright for the club, we have a shock twist. Or at least it was a shock for me. I had been wondering how long this could go on for, and how the time travel had initially worked. Where they dreaming? Had they legitimately gone back in time? How long can this last? How do they get back? And certain parts of the story do seem overly drawn out. But this volume switched things up and got me excited for the series all over again.
Like I said, I was genuinely surprised, I didn't see this coming this early in the series. I figured how things stood currently in the series would be how it carried on for X amount of volumes. Either way, Imamura has a lot of adjusting to do and a lot of questions to wrestle with and I found it all very intriguing. The poor guy really is dealing with a lot this volume. Time travel theory isn't an easy thing to understand. 
Meanwhile, thanks to Aki, we get some more insight in to Imamura and his past. Aki's boyfriend? Not boyfriend? You know...that Hiro dude? Well he pops up a lot this volume, I can't decide if I like him or not, he might be about to be Imamura's new bro friend. Or at least his accomplice and I actually enjoyed seeing the two of them work together to piece things together. 
The story is taking an interesting twist this volume, and we see some of the potential logic behind the time travel and Imamura trying to figure it out. Aside from that we get some more depth to Imamura, and we get to know Hiro who so far has just been there briefly. It would also appear the Captain and Imamura are getting....closer? They also finally slip up with their secret, which should play out quite interestingly next volume! Honestly, kids these days just don't know the time travel rules. *sigh* 

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Manga: Clockwork Planet 8



Clockwork Planet Vol 8
Rating: 3/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

The conspiracy plot in Tokyo comes to a conclusion, and Naoto and the crew make their way to crime-ridden Shangri-La on a bold new adventure! Though the world is shrouded in constant mystery, Naoto's incredible hearing skills, combined with Marie's genius engineering, will help lead them to the truth beneath the surface. 
The beginning of this volume see's Naoto and Marie come to an understanding as she finally figured out how his brain works, and how he thinks, before things get a bit trippy. I'm not going to lie...it was incredibly weird and I was more than a bit confused, but Marie seems to understand so I guess it's all good? 
The current Tokyo story arc we've been reading about also comes to an end, and it's all wrapped up rather nicely...until the shady character of "Omega" makes his presence known. It would appear he's been pulling the strings, and I assume he's the Big Bad they have to take down overall, but for now he just pops in to say hi. 
We move on from that story arc and our group of criminals heads to Shangri-la after being unable to reach Paris. While things seem good and under control on the surface, there are threads of betrayal being woven in already. 
I feel like this volume was a bit confusing at one point, and then not all that much happens, we set a few things up like Omega and the betrayal...or betrayals as the case may be, and then we're pretty much done for the volume. Naoto's pervy-ness is beginning to grate on me a little bit too but I guess that's just par for the course with this series. 

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Manga: In/Spectre 8


In/Spectre Vol 8
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Totomizu was a flourishing little seaside tourist town until suddenly, thousands of dead fish started washing up on shore. No one knows what's causing it--no one, that is, but the spectres. They say a strange wooden doll is behind this unnatural phenomenon. Can Kotoko solve the mystery and save the town? 

I do really love the storytelling for this series, we hear about the problem along with Kotoko and then we head to the town and a character called Tae, who lives there along with her talking cat...who may or may not be an alcoholic. Via her we get all the speculation about what's causing, including a legend/story of the town that's almost like a ghost story. It did kind of creep me out, I won't be looking at Pinocchio the same way again. So creepy. 

But the mystery builds up and we get all the clues and threads, and Kotoko shows up to add more theories to it and give us some lore. She's kinda like a supernatural Sherlock, in my opinion. Of course no volume of this series is complete without the relationship bickering between she and Kuro. According to Kuro "boyfriend is such a strong word", would it kill him to act cute for once!? I mean he does in his own way sometimes but still! 

This time round the case is solved within a couple of chapters and it's kind of a sad one, actually. Before the volume finishes we get a cute, yet amusing chapter with Kuro and Kotoko doing a spot of sightseeing on their way home. 

I feel like we're kind of chilling out, having a couple of cases come in that are easily solved in one volume, as we build up to another big and weird case like the Steel Lady Nanase case of previous volumes! But with this volume, we're definitely getting back in to the swing of things compared to last volume! 

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Review: Peril in Paris


Peril in Paris
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

It’s 1911, and the young detectives of TAYLOR & ROSE are turning their talents to ESPIONAGE.

On a case for the mysterious SECRET SERVICE BUREAU, the daring MISS SOPHIE TAYLOR and MISS LILIAN ROSE must leave London for the boulevards and grand hotels of Paris.

But DANGER lurks beneath the bright lights of the city - and INTRIGUE and MURDER lie in store. As aeroplanes soar in the skies overhead, our heroines will need to put all their spy skills to the test to face the PERIL that awaits them...
 


As you guys know I freaking loved the Sinclaire's Mysteries series and I was devastated to learn it was coming to an end...until I heard there was going to be a new series continuing Sophie and Lil's adventures! So I've been very excited to crack on with this book! 

Peril in Paris has a very different vibe to the first series. The first series is all solving cases Scooby Doo style, and this one is shifted more towards spies and espionage. It also seems a bit more...professional, in a sense. They're working for the Secret Service Bureau and they have their own detective agency! 

This book gives us a glimpse inside the Taylor and Rose detective agency, before getting to see parts of the fictional Arnovia and plenty of Paris! My one issue with reviewing this, is that it's kind of hard not to spoil the Sinclaire Mysteries....so I'm going to try my hardest not to! 

We get a split POV this book. The first being Anna, who's wary of her new governess. Said governess is a familiar face once you work out who it is. Anna is on to the fact there's something strange about her and is determined to figure out what it is, she's the Princess of Arnovia, by the way. I understand her and why she did what she did but at the same time, I was like.....you little cow! How rude! Because you know...it's only *redacted because spoiler*. If I didn't know who the governess really was, I probably would have been on Anna's side more. 

Sophie is our other POV, and when we meet her she's on her own little mission before she's sent out on a bigger one. To solve a murder in Paris with Tilly. I feel like Sophie becomes a much stronger character in this book, not that she wasn't before, but she...comes in to her own a bit as she's out on her own pretty much, without the group. She has to rely on herself a lot more. Plus she's having to come to terms with a few things, she thinks a lot about how different her life could have been and what her life could have been if her parents where still alive. 

Peril in Paris is nicely paced, with plenty of mystery and intrigue as we have the events in Paris and Arnovia, one being a murder investigation and one a secret mission that's to do with some political plotting. 

There's an air race about to go on in Paris so we get to meet Captain Nakamura who's one of the pilots. I'm hoping we'll get to see more of him in at least the next book, if not more given how this one ends! Miss Russell is another new character...a reporter. I was quite impressed with her, nosy as she was, until she completely blew one of the girls cover like the silly cow she is! Then we have Captain Harry Forsyth. He's just a bit of a prat really. I fully believed he was a snake at one point but...turns out he's just a prat! There's always room for redemption though. 

I'm not sure if the same will be true for the coming books in this series but we only got a little glimpse of Joe, Billy and Mei, and didn't get to see Jack at all. We did get a little bit of Tilly, but the focus was mostly on Sophie and Lil, which I have no problem with! The friendship between them is utterly brilliant, and you can see the bond between them a lot in this book. I'm kinda sad we didn't get to see the whole gang but we did get a nice group of new characters some of whom we'll hopefully see again. 

I enjoyed the storytelling, the way the two stories/POV's slowly came and wove together. It was maddening to see the characters from each POV just miss each other, or a new character catch a glimpse of Sophie, for instance. I was like JUST MEET ALREADY! The plot was built up nicely, with more and more clues being thrown in to add more intrigue and depth. It's brilliantly paced, and has a nice mix of action and smarts when it comes to solving the case. 

I one-hundred percent loved the ending, Lil and Sophie's reunion and working together...I feel like they not necessarily struggled, because they did very well, but didn't enjoy working alone or in pairs as much as they did working together and as a group. There was more pressure, more stress and no backup. They where essentially alone and far away from home and potential backup. At least that's how it seemed from Sophie's POV. 

Everything fantastically links to the previous series, and we're left with a bit of an open ending. While one mission is complete, the other one is left hanging slightly and is on going, and should provide us with lots of interesting adventure I hope! Plus a thread from the previous series rears it's head. The historical detail is once again fantastic, there's a nice amount of detail that builds up an image of what  the time period was like, and the plot keeps you on the edge of your seat. This one has a different vibe to the previous series, and things are definitely stepping up a notch! I'm incredibly excited to see what's going to happen to Sophie and Lil next! 

Manga: Waiting For Spring 7



Waiting For Spring Vol 7
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Mizuki is a shy girl who's about to enter high school, and vows to open herself up to new friendships. Of course, the four stars of the boys' basketball team weren't exactly the friends she had in mind! Yet, when they drop by the café where she works, the five quickly hit it off. Soon she's been accidentally thrust into the spotlight, targeted by jealous girls. And will she expand her mission to include... love? 

We pick up from last volume's cliffhanger with poor old Mitsuki who passed out. Aya has taken good care of her and we get to see some of what life was like for him after they separated and I do admit...I have now softened towards him a little bit. But I still want to whack him a few times. Things are moving along in the romance department, as Towa makes an interesting statement and basically....it's all set to kick off at the school festival. 

Cosplay abounds at said festival, and it's varying degrees of hilarious but none of it is as funny as Ryuji trying to have a heart to heart with Towa about his feelings. Awkward. 

The bickering between Towa and Aya never ceases to amuse me, nor does Towa's friends epically failing to eavesdrop on them. Honestly, they're such a bunch of idiots. 

As you can probably tell, this volume has plenty of humour and I was kind of on the edge of my seat waiting for Towa to do The Thing....and I may have cheered when he finally did. 

As of the end of this volume, everything's out there with both Aya and Towa and now the real competition can begin, I guess! Aside from that, we get more background on Aya and his feelings, and we get to see some more hilarious scenes with the group. 

Monday, 10 September 2018

Review: Bellewether



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

It's late summer, war is raging, and families are torn apart by divided loyalties and deadly secrets. In this complex and dangerous time, a young French Canadian lieutenant is captured and billeted with a Long Island family, an unwilling and unwelcome guest. As he begins to pitch in with the never-ending household tasks and farm chores, Jean-Philippe de Sabran finds himself drawn to the daughter of the house. Slowly, Lydia Wilde comes to lean on Jean-Philippe, true soldier and gentleman, until their lives become inextricably intertwined. Legend has it that the forbidden love between Jean-Philippe and Lydia ended tragically, but centuries later, the clues they left behind slowly unveil the true story. 

I'm sure you guys are well aware that this book sounds riiiight up my street! History and ghosts...I'm all over it. I freely admit, right here, that I was not aware of The Seven Years War, or it's something I've heard of briefly in passing but didn't know anything much about. I was excited to learn more about it and this book certainly does a good job! 

The opening is intriguing and rumour filled, detailing the history of the Wilde family and the rumours around Jacob Wilde, the man who built the house, before we hear about the alleged ghost. I liked getting all of this background information to the family, it started to paint a picture before we delved in to the actual story. 

We have three POV's, Charley in the present and Lydia and Jean-Philippe in 1759. Charley is restoring the house to turn it in to a museum, and set it up how it used to look. She's also trying to piece together what happened with Lydia and Jean-Philippe after she becomes aware of the story and finds evidence that Jean-Philippe was actually there. Lydia is the daughter of the house, obviously, and Jean-Philippe is the Lieutenant sent to live at her house after being captured in the war, he can't speak English, but I admired his determination to try. As well as the fact instead of sulking like the other officer with him, he attempted to help out and fit in with the family as best he could. I don't really have much to say about Lydia to be honest. 

I really liked the way we switched between the POV's, a lot of the time they where connected, for instance the first time it was a part to start raining in Jean-Philippe's POV and it had started in Charley's. Sails connect another POV change, it was very nicely done. 

The writing was brilliant, it lures you in with the basic story and then builds it up through the different POVs. The modern one lends clues to what happened or is going to happen. Lydia and Jean-Philippe's builds up the situation, the circumstances starting from when Jean-Philippe arrives, and filling in all of the details. The history weaves throughout providing plenty of information on the time period, as well as on the story. Seeing as I didn't know about this particular war, I was particularly intrigued about the details of it. 

One thing that did surprise me was the ghost. Honestly I thought the ghost was just going to be a story with nothing much to it. But it would appear the ghost actually does exist and it was trying to help Charley. I enjoyed how it was portrayed, it was very Most Haunted but also realistic, no white spectre, or see through actual version of the person. Just paintings being turned round, and white lights. 

I liked how the different times showed you what it's like delving in to history. You see in the past what actually happened, and then you see Charley in the present attempting to piece things together but not getting the whole story. Like when you try to use Ancestry to do your family tree, you see who lived when and died when and married when, and how they where related, but you don't get all the details. You don't get how the people felt, or all the intricate details and this book really shows that, especially as Charley was off the mark a couple of times. 

There where a lot of really nice connections between the past characters and the present characters. You could see who was descended from who, and how history repeated itself in some cases like Charley's father and Pierre. Another nice touch! Honestly, I actually talked to myself a lot while I was reading this one as I tried to puzzle things out. 

I found Bellewether to be a brilliant read, it was totally engrossing for me and it pulled me in and I loved the way history was woven throughout the book instead of textbook style shoved in. There where a couple of parts that did drag a little bit, but overall I really enjoyed it, and I loved the ending and how everything came together! 

Manga: Final Fantasy The Lost Stranger



Final Fantasy: The Lost Stranger Vol 1 
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Scoring a job at Square Enix, Sasaki Shogo's dream of producing a Final Fantasy game finally seems within his grasp! But after he starts, he quickly discovers that the work has nothing to do with his favorite franchise at all... Disillusioned, his enthusiasm for FF begins waning despite his sister / co-worker Yuko's attempts to lift his spirits. Their conversation is cut short, though, when a runaway truck suddenly careens toward the two of them...!
When Shogo comes to, the first thing he sees is...a Moogle?! Wait, was that a Cure spell? And chocobos...?! Hurled into a Final Fantasy world unbound to any particular installment, how will an uber-fan like Shogo survive?! 
First things first, the colour pages for this are freaking gorgeous and so is the art as a whole. Sometimes with game adaptions the art looks a bit...well...game-ish. Not so for this one! It's seriously beautiful and I love the character designs and the colours used. 
Shogo...well he's all of us when we get waaaaaay too in to a game, and as for Yuko? Her nerdy talk to her brother was hilarious and fully got me prepped to dive in to the world of Final Fantasy. I'm not going to lie...it's been a while since I've played one of the games but I now have the urge to binge play them! 
The pace for this volume is fast, and I liked that upon transporting to the world they didn't get stupidly strong powers, and get over powered, or turn out to be the Chosen Ones etc. They had to work at it and work up from the bottom. Shogo using his knowledge of Final Fantasy and strategy guides to help them out was another nice touch. 
Fair warning, chapter one doesn't play and it hits you with a plot twist that I 100% didn't see coming and it genuinely shocked me. To the extent I was kind of just staring at the page like...did that just happen? What? How? Why? It certainly throws in an interesting direction to the plot. 
Alongside Shogo and Yuko there's a hilarious cast of support characters in Rei, Duston and Sharu. Rei tries really hard to be all grouchy but you can tell that deep down...the caring feels are there. I'm enjoying seeing Shogo adapting to the world and his losses and trying to become better, as well as using his brain to build his way up. I also like the camaraderie between he and his group! 
This is a cracking first volume, with an excellent pace, relatable and entertaining characters, plenty to keep my fellow Final Fantasy game nerds happy...and a shock twist that completely blows you away.

Friday, 7 September 2018

Manga: The Case Study of Vanitas 4



The Case Study of Vanitas Vol 4
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Deep within the bowels of Paris, Noé and Vanitas race through the catacombs with an elite team of chasseurs, the Church's anti-vampire unit, in hot pursuit. Their search for the missing vampires takes the pair down a path all too familiar to Vanitas, bringing them face-to-face with not only an overwhelming curse-bearer, but also with Vanitas's past. Confronted by the horrific menace, what will Noé and Vanitas fight for, and whom will they save...? 

Volume 4 is quite the chunky volume so I don't mind the fact I've waited a million years for the latest volume to finally be released! 

We rejoin Noe and Vanitas right where we left them, lurking in the catacombs of Paris in search of the missing vampires but as we start the volume the Chasseurs are in pursuit. 

I have to say...I fully cackled at one Chasseur being 100% dead serious as he said "It's like we're the one's being hunted" I could fully see that line being said in the trailer for Jurassic Park or something, or a horror movie. Then shortly after I fully died laughing when we cut to Noe losing his lunch because apparently going full Dracula and walking on ceilings makes him nauseous. Priceless. 

This volume is full of plenty of funny moments, and Noe and Vanitas do make me chuckle a lot with their banter although Vanitas sees Noe as quite naive so it was nice to see him take charge of the battle against Roland and try to talk things out with him after his little display. Things could have been sorted a lot earlier however, if Vanitas had just opened his mouth and spoken but he "didn't want to". Interestingly we did glean a little more knowledge of his past and get to see glimpses of it and more pieces are falling in to place.  

Roland is one of my new favourite characters, he's fully Team Vanitas and him wanting to be friends with Noe and Noe's reaction to it is freaking hilarious. Bless him. We also meet Dr. Moreau who is....interesting. And totally cray cray. He provides even more clues to this whole scheme and some connections are made. The plot definitely thickens but some of it is starting to come together. 

Our good old pal Lord shady-ass Ruthven pops up again. I'm not even surprised by his involvement anymore. We all know he's up to no good and unfortunately he does something nasty to Noe that I can see coming back to bite he and Vanitas in the future, all while Vanitas is getting asked out on a date by Jeanne. Come on man, help your bro out?! It would also appear the same thing has happened to Jeanne, but it's a matter of Vanitas putting it together at this stage. 

All through this volume we've seen allusions to someone from Vanitas' past and it would appear the low-key cliffhanger ending is bringing that character in! We're getting more pieces of the puzzle and more pieces of his past, this volume has a steady pace to it with doses of intrigue to go with the action and humour. Not to mention the gorgeous art work and rich storytelling. 

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Review: City of Ghosts



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

Cassidy Blake's parents are The Inspectres, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.

When The Inspectres head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn't sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn't belong in her world. Cassidy's powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself. 


I have been so, insanely ready for this book! Not only is it new Victoria Schwab, but it's ghosts and it's set in Edinburgh! I immediately got stuck in as soon as it arrived, and read it in one sitting because it was impossible to put down and was such a cracking read. 

Cass was a relatable MC, and she was inquisitive, although not the most careful person. I did kind of internally snort, with a mild sneer, at her because she was making such a fuss about the different words in the UK compared to the US, but I'm not sure if that's regular behaviour or if she was just being extra. I have American relatives and kind of just shrug off the word difference and it isn't a big deal to me, plus you know....we all watch US shows and movies so the word difference just...kind of is part of the norm, it's something we all know. I guess that might not be the same in the US if that level of explanation is needed about chips? She made it a reaaaally big deal and I was kind of like "okay...we get it...", because she kept going on and on about it, and as much as I love Victoria's books...this actually annoyed me a little bit. I know it's meant for a US audience, but still. But it might just have been me being overly sensitive I guess. 

On the subject of overly long explanations about chips....Victoria was a bit disappointingly vague about certain other things. The book is set in Scotland...and yet there's only like two characters that have Scottish accents, none of the film crew where Scottish and neither was Lara, she was from London and I wasn't sure I liked her. She seemed very no-nonsense and serious...but also very stand-offish. I was hoping for more from her based on the synopsis but she wasn't in it much. 

I loved her friendship with Jacob and how she never turned her back on him, they're a team. As for Jacob....he was an immediate surprise as I started reading. I loved the "corporeally challenged" title he prefers! I was kinda sad we didn't get to see more of his story and what happened, I was fascinated by what could have potentially happened and how he came to be a ghost. As well as the fact he seems to know a lot more than Cass about how it all works. I kinda wish the book had been longer because then we could have got some of them, plus I feel the book could have gone longer. 

I was 100% fascinated by the spin on ghosts and the lore of them that Victoria came up with, thriving on anger and pain, and it taking a lot of spiritual power for them to move things is kind of standard fare, but being able to hear thoughts and the Veil are all new and I was so intrigued by it all. I was so curious about the ins and outs of Cass's power, I can't decide if I'd be terrified to have that power or love it so I could question ghosts about the past! 

I'm not going to lie, I had a phase when I watched any show I could find about ghost legends, so this spoke to me and I wish the show in the book was real! More importantly, the setting had me super excited! Edinburgh is one of the places I really, reaaaalllyyy want to go and visit because I want to go and check out the history...and the ghosts! I was living for all of the history in the book and the legends, some of them I already knew, along with the historical facts, but some I didn't! I would love to get my hands on a book about all of it! 

City of Ghosts is atmospheric, and a bit chilling at points to be honest! There's a nice fast pace, and the plot is coated in history. It's a wonderfully woven story, with Victoria's unique brand of storytelling, and there's plenty to entertain you! 

Don't forget to check out the Instagram tour! 


Manga: Hatsu Haru 2



Hatsu Haru Vol 2
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 


Kai, ever-suave, is used to being the target of affection. But deep inside, he's in turmoil because the girl he loves has eyes for another! Can he find a way to be direct and confess his feelings? 
After things on the school camping trip don't go his way, Kai's left dumped and convinced he's better off just giving up on girls and dating altogether. Yet somehow his friends rope him into a group date, and he ends up at the amusement park with...Riko!? But when Suwa-sensei turns up at the same park with another woman, will Kai be able to hide what he saw and protect Riko from experiencing heartbreak like he has? 
My man Kai goes straight in for a smooch as we open the volume, like no dude. You gotta build up to it! So because he made a rookie error and rushed it, of course he strikes out and Riko smacks him straight back down. She won't even talk to or look at him. But it's okay, because after his rejection he looks so pitiful that his bros have his back. Toramaru, Misaki and Kiritani are on to him and have made it their mission to help him so they organise a group outing to an amusement park as part of their scheme to get Kai and Riko together. 
I completely enjoyed getting to see not only Kai's friends but Riko's too, Kagura and Ooshima, plus Shimura the school reporter who tags along and Kai better hope she doesn't catch on to him. Out of all of them, Kagura was freaking hilarious. I actually choked at one point from something she said, and Misaki is the voice of reason throughout this whole thing...aka the only one with a brain cell. 
Kai's expressions are drawn brilliantly, but also hilariously plus he's so extra about things sometimes. But bless him...he's trying really hard with Riko and to look out for her. Riko on the other hand provides some more insight in to her crush on Suwa and we meet a new element to the equation. 
Things progress forward even more this volume as Kai comes to terms with his feelings and asks himself deep questions such as, what is love? What does it mean? And Riko realises Kai may not be as bad as she's determined to see him as in yet another hilarious and entertaining volume

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Manga: Angels of Death 4



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

So, I can't find a decent synopsis anywhere other than "read the fourth volume of the hotly anticipated series Angels of Death" so I'll attempt to sum up this volume myself! As Zack and Rachel are attempting to fight their way out of the mysterious building, they're still stuck on floor B3, home of Cathy the Prison Guard. Sacrifices are going to have to be made if they want to progress to the next floor, but will they both make it out of floor B3 alive? 

This volume we get to see more of Zack's backstory which serves to give a lot of insight into his mental state and how he thinks, he actually makes quite a lot of sense now. As much as a serial killer can. One particularly interesting aspect of the volume was Rachel trying to understand his feelings, as he's quite on edge after he has his little flashbacks and Cathy uses certain words to bait him on purpose. 

I really liked the way what was going on inside Zack's head was drawn after he injected the drug. He definitely starts to crack up a bit...more than he did before. You can see how he was psychologically damaged by what happened to him as a kid, if you're a Criminal Minds viewer like myself you probably went "aaaaaah I see". It has to be said...Cathy is trying very hard to break their team up. 

In case it wasn't obvious already, there's a lot of focus on Zack this volume as well as his relationship with Rachel. He goes on quite the psychological journey and we really get inside his head. I'm lowkey beginning to think a romance could blossom between Rachel and ZAck, he definitely seems to view her as something but I'm not entirely sure what. But it's more than just the girl he's gonna kill. He had a lot of emphasis on the fact he hoped Rachel needed him for him, which was an interesting bit of information. 

Up until now we've mostly seen Zack looking out for Rachel, but this volume see's that switch as Rachel is kind of looking out for him in her own way. The relationship between the two of them has definitely grown a lot stronger and they seem to have really bonded, or at least gained an understanding of each other. Zack really looks out for her and it's so not for the reasons he usually states. Just saying. 

Their emotions are brilliantly depicted and Zack's emotional development is quite obvious at this point. My boy is more than just slashing people with a scythe. The ending for this volume though...wow. Talk about a cliffhanger. All I'm saying is if my little serial killer cinnamon roll is dead....I'm out. 

I've also started to develop a theory about Rachel and who she is. But I'm gonna wait and see a bit longer before I say anything! 

This volume see's the danger level rise, and you can see a lot of development for Zack as well as really getting in to his head and coming to understand him. Things get incredibly tense this volume, and we're left with the mother of all cliffhangers. Although there is a nice little Q&A at the back to fill in some more information about the characters and the story. 

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Manga: Aoharu x Machinegun 12



Aoharu x Machinegun Vol 12
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

The opening match of the TGC begins with Toy*Gun Gun vs. Friendly Fire! In this "king match," where one hit to a team's king means defeat, Toy*Gun Gun decides to launch a surprise attack, sending Tachibana, their king, to the front lines to stop Samejima! But not only is Samejima a formidable former mercenary, he also has what some might call the ultimate ability! Will Toy*Gun Gun's strategy of going big send them straight home?! 
Once again we're straight in with the action from when we left off, and Hotaru is facing off with Samejima and while she's holding her own...she's up against a formidable opponent and cut off from the rest of her team. 
Meanwhile, Matsuoka is in the midst of a little freak out about losing and Hotaru getting taken out and this causes him to manage to access some weird kind of spidey sense that he has when he works at the host club. I'd be lying if I said I didn't side eye this development a little bit. It was a bit...odd. 
We get a nice amount of backstory to Akemi and Tamako as well as finally finding out Samejima's secret power. It was nice to see some more of Friendly Fire and how they came to be a team and why they did or didn't do certain things in the match. I do like how this series puts a lot of detail in to the opposing teams and let's you get to know them. 
As you may recall from last volume, Haruki is still missing and we get to see so much about the relationship between he and his twin Haruka. It was actually pretty emotional, I really felt for the both of them because we saw Haruki's side and then Haruka's and it kinda made me loo kat Haruka in a different way after seeing his side of things. He wasn't at all what I thought and I did really like this little development in the storytelling. 
With volume 12 our support characters are brought to life a bit more with some more background on them, and two of our main characters also get to be a bit more fleshed out and have some added depth. After an action heavy opening few chapters, we take a break from the action towards the end ready for the next match. Star White are about to face off against Nine Tails and the volume ends with a rather tense moment between Yukimura and Matsuoka...as well as a shady figure lurking in the background.

Monday, 3 September 2018

Review: Heart of Thorns



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

In the ancient river kingdom, touch is a battlefield, bodies the instruments of war. Seventeen-year-old Mia Rose has pledged her life to hunting Gwyrach: women who can manipulate flesh, bones, breath, and blood.

Not women. Demons. The same demons who killed her mother without a single scratch.

But when Mia's father suddenly announces her marriage to the prince, she is forced to trade in her knives and trousers for a sumptuous silk gown. Only after the wedding goes disastrously wrong does she discover she has dark, forbidden magic—the very magic she has sworn to destroy.
 


Well....what an opening line. My attention was officially grabbed and I pretty much read this in one sitting because I was so hooked on what was happening! I have to put it out there....at the start of the book a few things where mentioned and I could see the whole book unfolding in my head, but I was surprised at every turn. It didn't do anything I thought it was going to! 

There are a few chuckles provided thanks to Mia and Prince Quin. They had some of the most awkward conversations in the beginning, good lord. "Your buckles are very shiny". Bless them. Mia is a very practical and intelligent character, she knows a lot about science and anatomy and she's determined in her goal. She kept trying to relate her magic to science and a process which was an interesting approach. I couldn't really blame her for hating the Gwyrach, when one of them killed her mother and at some points it felt like no-one was on her side. As for her sister...well she's not very likeable and I'll leave it at that. I thought she was quite selfish actually. I don't think my opinion of her will improve in the next book! 

Quin is quite cold and taciturn, at least in the beginning. But I liked watching the two of them warm up to each other, and grow closer. The romance developed at a perfect pace to match the plot without overshadowing the plot itself. Although I was a bit disappointed in him at the end but I could also understand his reaction. 

I was completely fascinated by the various different mystery elements and had a lot of theories throughout the book. I enjoyed putting the pieces together yet still being surprised! Mia's journey was so interesting to me, as she comes to terms with the fact she is the thing she hates most, as well as the fact she's very science minded and magic isn't something she believes in as such. 

The magic system was brilliant, and I really enjoyed the background to it. How it came about and grew and developed and a lot of things the Dujia mention and talk about in this book are so true and really resonate and I think they will with any female. 

Heart of Thorns has a fast pace, and plenty of mystery elements presented at the beginning and throughout, with a nice amount of action and some romance sprinkled throughout. Mia was a brilliant main character, I admired her a lot, she's intelligent and her scientific mind was at odds with magic. There are also some mind blowing plot twists towards the end of the book that I definitely didn't see coming and I'm incredibly excited to see things continue in the next book! 
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