Monday, 19 March 2018

Manga: Love and Lies 4

Love and Lies Vol 4
Rating: 3/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

The system of governmentally-arranged marriage is supposed to make everyone's life easier, but it's not working for Yukari Nejima. His class is staging a production of Romeo and Juliet for the school festival--and the girl he loves, Misaki, is playing Romeo! Opposite her as Juliet is Yukari's best friend, the perpetually-misunderstood Yusuke. With Yukari working backstage and his governmentally-assigned partner Lilina in the audience, the class play is going to have more star-cross'd lovers than anyone bargained for! 

Yukari asks for advice from the shady government dude (Yajima) from before who could prove to be an interesting character, judging from the snapshot of his backstory that we got, I'm actually hoping to see more of him. I don't think he's entirely down with the notices. Anyways, Yukari opts to follow his feelings, which are kinda complicated right now because he's caught feelings for Lilina methinks. 

Interestingly Yusuke's dad makes an appearance and we finally get to know Yusuke a bit more, which I've been waiting for. The more volumes I read, the more and more certain I am that my suspicions about Yusuke are correct, it's just whether or not the manga is actually going to address that. It'll add an interesting development to the love triangle...square...thing. Whatever you want to call it, it's certainly deepening. 

Some new faces appear and things might finally be getting interesting as I feel things have been quite slow for the past volume or so, and it appears someone may have messed with the government notices, which is yet another interesting development that this volume hits us with! It's added a nice mystery element that's caught my curiosity. 

Friday, 16 March 2018

Manga: Clockwork Planet 7

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

Amid all the conspiracies and plots, the government is forced to come to a stalemate. When threats from mysterious parties and all-powerful weapons seem impossible to overcome, the leader of the military coup starts calling the shots. What's more, the leader's intent behind the coup is more dangerous to humanity than any could have imagined. Japan's national crisis has hit its peak, and Naoto and his friends stand at the core! 

The latest volume of Clockwork Planet is action packed from the start, I loved how the whole attack was drawn, with Naoto and his phases and so on, and the contrast between Ryuzu and Anchor as they attack. Vermouth fully has me cackling too. Volume 7 has a completely hilarious opening chapter! 

The volume is moving things along when it comes to the plot, we have Halter making his return finally, and Marie appears to maybe have a cool power? Or is she just a genius? Or both? Who knows. But Naoto and co swiftly enter the palace and we meet HRH Hoshi. They finally introduce themselves as basically the second Y and present themselves as an enemy to all of Japan, therefore giving the army something to work together on and forget the infighting. 

However, our bad guy is fully gunning for Naoto. He's revealed to be Hirayama and we get a load of backstory on him and what his issue is. Not only that but things are looking pretty dire towards the end of the volume and Anchor runs off to try and save the day while Marie and Naoto have a bit of a bicker. 

Volume 7 brings in a new character who's going to be interesting for sure, and I'm intrigued to see what part they're going to play. The world itself is expanded upon, and we get a lot of backstory and motivations for other characters that we've been curious about. I'm still not entirely sure where this story is going as a whole, but the current arc is definitely shaping up to be pretty epic! 

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Blog Tour: The Bitter Twins

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

The Ninth Rain has fallen, the Jure'lia have returned, and with Ebora a shadow of its former self, the old enemy are closer to conquering Sarn than ever.

Tormalin the Oathless and the Fell-Witch Noon have their hands full dealing with the first war-beasts to be born in Ebora for nearly three hundred years. But these are not the great mythological warriors of old; hatched too early and with no link to their past lives, the war-beasts have no memory of the many battles they have fought and won, and no concept of how they can possibly do it again. The key to uniting them, according to the scholar Vintage, may lie in a part of Sarn no one really believes exists, but finding it will mean a dangerous journey at a time of war...

Meanwhile, Hestillion is trapped on board the corpse moon, forced into a strange and uneasy alliance with the Jure'lia queen. Something terrifying is growing up there, in the heart of the Behemoth, and the people of Sarn will have no defence against these new monsters. 

I've been waiting for this book eagerly, because the previous book, The Ninth Rain, had some mind blowing plot twists and blew me away and the end certainly left me wanting for more. One of my favourite things about this book is the lack of a lengthy recap going back over everything. We get glimpses of the war beasts via some different POV's, and then we're back with Tor and the crew and everything comes flooding back, with a brief reminder here and there. 

The POV's switch up as our group split up and head off on different missions. Tor and Noon head off on a search for something mentioned in the previous book, while Bern and Aldasair have a job of their own to do at Bern's home, and Vintage holds down the fort. Not to mention Hestellion's POV. I'm not going to lie, I really didn't like her in the first book and I still can't quite make my mind up about her in this book, I spend a lot of time side eyeing her and towards the end I was kind of mentally berating Tor for not killing her when he had the chance. I just can't decide if I like her. Having said that, it's interesting watching her character develop throughout this book, and I'm interested to see where she's going. 

On the subject of familiar faces, Tor has Kirune, his war beast, to bond with...and it's an interesting relationship in the start. Kirune basically ignored everything he said. Funnily enough I did get where Kirune was coming from and Vostok was irritating me too so I feel ya dude. I liked seeing Tor and Kirune bond and come together in this book, their bickering was pretty funny too. Tor finds out an interesting revelation that he has to deal with. I do want to smack Tor sometimes but he's one of my favourite characters. I feel like we start to bond with him and the other existing characters more in this book as we get to explore their characters more.

Noon....I don't know why, but at points in this book she really was beginning to bug me, she and Vostok both. I really liked her in the previous book, but this book...she was just annoying me a lot of the time, which I was kind of disappointed with. Although the final scene with her...I was cheering because finally! I'm so ready to see that scene! I have to mention Aldasair and Bern briefly because I freaking love them and I was so happy with developments for them in this book...well most. Something unpleasant happens to Bern that had me screaming, but he and Aldasair..HELL YES! I feel like we get to know both of them so much more this book and I loved seeing them come in to their own.

Vintage continues to freaking crack me up, she's got such a potty mouth and it has me in fits of giggles. I'd repeat some of her lines here but she has a lot of F-bombs. I really felt for her when certain things went down, it was something I didn't see coming, although I was shouting at her and Eri both because I knew full well what was going to happen and they where so blind to it! Eri is one of the new characters we meet in this book and I was kind of side eyeing him at the beginning, but I ended up really loving him, and he broke my heart in the end! The bickering war beasts where a highlight too, I'm not going to lie and it was interesting watching them grow closer with their respective warriors. 

The world building is truly brilliant, and the battle scenes are written so vividly. We take to the skies more for battles in this book because you know...war beasts! Which was an interesting change to the kind of battle scenes I usually see in books. There's so much freaking heartbreak and betrayal in this book, but also humour and action and just general epicness!  There's some more mad plot twists throughout this book, and we get hit with some huge reveals as what we thought we knew is turned upside down and expanded upon. 

And ya know...once again we're left wanting for more! This is such an original and intriguing series! 


Monday, 12 March 2018

Blog Tour: Strange The Dreamer

Strange The Dreamer 
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of my shelves! 

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep. 

I'm going to level with all of you, I got Strange The Dreamer when the fancy hardback was released in Waterstones last know the one? Blue sprayed edges...signed...has some pretty sweet sketches in it courtesy of the author? Yep that one! It's been sitting neatly on my shelf where it can't be harmed, waiting for the day I finally have the time to read it.....and that time finally came. When I was asked to participate in this blog tour to celebrate the release of the paperback version (which is super pretty and I think I need to buy it), I had to say yes because it was an excuse to bump the book up my TBR so I could review it, because as you all know, I've been pretty behind on review books and only just recently caught up which has left no time for everything else sitting on my shelf, sending me puppy eyes. 

Now that I'm sitting here, facing the monumental task of trying to review this book and find words to do it justice, I kind of want to punch past me for not reading it sooner because it was amazing. And when I say amazing, I mean it completely blew me away, for real. It's been so long since I sat and read a book in one sitting that wasn't on holiday, when I'm at home I generally read most books in a couple of sittings because I have so much to do, but I actually had to clear an entire day to read this because as soon as I read the prologue, I was like "Nope, reading this until the end, bye bye responsibilities". 

Strange The Dreamer has a cinematic and vivid opening that pulls you in and the writing keeps you there. The writing is completely gorgeous, it's rich and decadent with its descriptions, painting vivid pictures for you that bring the settings and characters to life. The writing also weaves an intriguing plot full of mystery and magic and alchemy and much, much more. I had so many questions while I was reading and I was thirsting after knowledge of the world. Once Lazlo explained the mystery of Weep I was hopelessly addicted and hooked to this book and I wasn't going anywhere until I'd finished it or at least gotten some clues, if not solved it. However, this book didn't fall in line with any of my expectations. It took them and blew right past them, turning them on their head and surprising me at every turn. Plus...the book was clever....but more on that later. 

First, I want to talk about Lazlo, I immediately loved Lazlo. I empathised with him and connected with him and most of all...I rooted for him. That didn't stop me being suspicious about he and his origins which was the one thing I accurately figured out on my own. The thing with Lazlo is within the first few chapters we see him playing pretend, pretending to be a warrior of the city he's so fascinated with and if that isn't relatable I don't know what is, because come on...we've all done it, when we where kids...teenagers...any age really. Plus you know...he loves books. I loved his narrative and his thirst for answers and knowledge about Weep. 

Along with Lazlo, the story is told from the POV of Sarai, I wasn't too sure about her at first but it didn't take me long to love her completely. Sarai is the daughter of one of the gods, godspawn if you will, and she was supposed to have been killed along with all the others. However, she was saved along with some others and the five of them live in the Citadel. I was so fascinated by her and her thought process. Sure she hated the murderers who wiped out everyone else, but at the same time Sarai is in the unique position, thanks to her gift, to understand why the humans did it. So she's kind of torn between hating them for what they did...but also understanding more than any of the others. I really enjoyed her as much as Lazlo and the two of them....someone sedate me, they where so damn cute and the ending damn near broke me. Not over it. I will probably never be over it. 

Strange The Dreamer is full of plenty of interesting characters both likeable and some...less so. I loved Ruza, he was a fun friend for Lazlo, I loved Calixte because she made me smile and chuckle, Feral I was less sure of, but I felt for Ruby and got where she was coming from. Eril-Fane...he's a difficult one because like Sarai...I get why he did what he did. I really do. I empathise and understand but at the same time you have to side eye him a bit for what he did. Then again it's not like he did it and life became all sunshine and rainbows for him. 

In the 'not so likeable' category there's the horrible little explosion dude, Draver I believe his name was. I honestly, much like the other characters, didn't pay all that much attention to him until he did the Thing we all should have seen coming and wanted to smack him for. Thyon was a tricky one for me, I have him in the 'dislike' camp, but when he first appeared I was thinking to myself, "Will I like you?" because I had a few ideas for how he and Lazlo's relationship could go. I was wrong. But then Lazlo revealed something to  us, the readers, that had me actually feeling sorry for him. Sure it's no excuse to be such a douche, but I did empathise with him and understand why he was the way he was. Then towards the end of the book I found my opinion changing again, because....I could see him becoming likeable. I could see he and Lazlo...maybe becoming friends finally. I guess I'll have to wait for the next book to form a solid opinion. 

Minya though? Wow I really didn't like her. I started out kind of being creeped out by her and mildly irritated, then I went to feeling sorry for her because to be honest...things had been rough for her. I wanted to like her, I wanted to be able to empathise with her and actually like her and not empathise with her but still kind of lowkey hate her...which was what I was doing. Upon finishing the book, I can confirm that she's a nasty little girl, she just went further and further down in my estimations, until the final few pages when I was like "You know what, I was rooting for you but you just took that chance and stamped all over it". Honestly I can't see myself liking her very much, ever. 

The thing about a good chunk of the characters is that there's no solid category to put them in. It's not black and white, it's kind of grey. As much as you might not like a character, the characters are written with such depth that you can understand them and their choices and the why of their actions. You might even feel for them a little bit when you're not being infuriated by them. 

Personally I thought the book was clever, because of the way the characters where portrayed, you basically have two separate camps, and each has their own version of events, and you get to see both. You feel for both. You understand both. But it's kind of hard to pick a side. Sarai saw both sides, as did Lazlo, but many other characters didn't have the same understanding. The other reason this book was clever? The details. There where so many details woven in to the story as you went, for example, the Citadel where Sarai lives. You see it through her eyes, and it's still kind of mysterious but you can still picture it, but then once Lazlo laid his eyes on it and described it for us from a different know...outside, there's some surprise details thrown in which are then expanded upon by Sarai. I loved it. I constantly found my theories, thoughts, and opinions changing as little details like that where revealed slowly throughout the book. 

Strange The Dreamer is quite slow paced, which sounds harsh so lets go with slow burn instead, because while things really speed up and get going towards the end....the book still captivated me which is quite unusual as usually I prefer fast paced books with lots going on. Why? Because as you read, there are details and plot twists scattered throughout the plot like gems, suddenly being unearthed and blowing you away. I was so hooked in to this world I didn't even stop to take notes like I usually do when I review! I was constantly being drawn in and surprised, and amazed, and having questions answered before finding a million more questions to ask. 

The settings where vivid and imaginative, as was the story and the characters. The characters had depth and I wanted to know more about each of them. The developing relationships between characters was interesting to watch, and portrayed brilliantly. I genuinely could not put this book down, the intriguing cast and the mysteries kept me firmly hooked to the page. Not to mention the writing, like I said it was gorgeous, I can't even find words to properly describe it! It's freaking lyrical, and just...flows so perfectly. Much like the pace. 

The ending blew me away to be perfectly honest. I wasn't expecting it to be who it was when the Thing happened, and it changed everything for me. I had an idea of how things might go, and then the Thing happened and it was all turned on it's head and now I'm kind of like "huh...but...what now?!". I'm so excited for the sequel because things are certainly going to be interesting, the ending shifted my perspective on a few things and things I thought would happen and kept on surprising me right up until the end. And you know, confirmed that any sympathy I might have had for Minya died it's last death. Sorry. 

Strange The Dreamer is a gift that keeps on giving, the more you read, the more surprises you uncover, and it's so brilliantly crafted. I'm honestly itching to get back to the world and the characters, and strongly encourage you all to binge read both when the second book's released! 

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Review: Not If I Save You First

Not If I Save You First
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Dear Logan,
Someday I'm going to write a book: How Not to Die in Alaska - A Girl's Guide to Fashionable Survival. I bet you don't know that a hair pin can make an excellent fishing hook. You may think you can use just any kind of mud for mud masks, but trust me, you CAN'T! In a pinch, nothing starts a fire like nail polish remover. Alaska is tough. You might know this, if you ever replied to my letters. 

After Maddie's Secret Service dad takes a bullet for the President, he takes Maddie somewhere he thinks they'll be safe....far away from the White House and the President's son, Logan. But when Logan comes to Alaska, or more sentenced there for bad behaviour, he brings the danger with him. If there's one thing Alaska has taught Maddie, it's how to survive. And now her best friends life depends on it....

I really enjoy Ally's books, they're always fun and exciting and have some cute romance to go with the badass female characters. Gallagher Girls was such a blast of a series, as was Heist Society, although I still need to pick up Embassy Row! I was expecting much the same from this book, and I wasn't at all disappointed. 

The opening is entertaining and light hearted as we get introduced to the characters before heading in to some action and serious tension before we hit a nice little time skip. I liked the letters interspersed throughout to show us how Maddie's mind set changed as she spent time in Alaska, and how she felt regarding Logan, it was a nice touch that helped you connect with her and what she was feeling. 

All I really needed to know about Maddie was that she's the kind of girl to bedazzle her favourite hatchet. I loved her, although I did side eye her a bit at the beginning because she was giving off "I'm not like other girls" vibes and I was a bit wary of that. She really can take care of herself and she's quite the badass...but she's still girly and she made for such an entertaining main character! 

Logan I wanted to smack multiple times. Don't get me wrong, I thought he and Maddie where cute and there where plenty of fluffy and cute moments with the two. I'm so here for the romance. My issue with Logan was that he never seemed to quite get that Maddie was perfectly capable of handling herself...even after she demonstrated that she was multiple times. I could handle that, even if it did have me sighing a few times, what really irritated me? The way that anytime Stefan (the kidnapper), or any other guy would look at her or whatever, he went full Hulk and lost all of his chill. There was screaming and shouting and overly testosterone fuelled displays of machismo as he screeched at people not to touch her, or look at her and blah blah blah. Like seriously dude....chill. Have a sit down and a cup of tea and just....relax. It's all good. I think he was a bit bothered by the way he was pretty much useless and Maddie was the capable one. Hit him right in the masculinity. 

Overall Not If I Save You First was a fast paced, action packed and hugely entertaining read (including Logan, sure it was irritating but at the same time I had a good eye roll and "really dude" every time), with some cute romance sprinkled in. I will say that I was expecting the book to go one way, like with Maddie's dad, and I did end up being surprised by the twist at the end! I will forever be wondering how much of Maddie's survival tips are true...
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