Friday, 27 July 2018

Manga: As Miss Beelzebub Likes 2

As Miss Beelzebub Likes Vol 2
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

As the archdemon Beelzebub's attendant, Mullin is constantly reminded of just how quirky his boss can be. However, he's quickly learning that Beel is not the only eccentric running Pandemonium! Whether it's the frivolous playboy Astaroth, the perpetually sleepy Dantalion, or Eurynome and her...dangerous tastes, it's a wonder anything gets done at all! 

Honestly, Volume 2 cracked me up from the start. Poor old Beelzebub has it tough, trying to work out which fluffy thing she'd hug first. Hard life, isn't it? 

This volume expands on our cast of characters and introduces us to more of the colourful personalities residing in Pandemonium. Eurynome...well she's a bit creepy isn't she? Bless her. Although I did chuckle when she slapped Astaroth back down to size verbally, because he did need it a little bit. 

We also meet Dantalion, the head of the library and literally me! He stays up all night reading....that's pretty much what I do all the time. I think he might be my new favourite! Or one of them anyway! And then we have Molech, who's...excitable. Bless him. Plus we have Adramelech the wardrobe specialist. 

Perhaps the most adorably entertaining part of the volume was Belphegor trying to confess to Azazel, bless her. She plots a scheme to get close to him that involves cooking, so she ropes in Beelzebub to help out too along with Nisroch, Beelzebub's chef. Because they need professional supervision obviously. She actually manages to make a little bit of progress with her crush though! I also really liked getting to see more of she and Beelzebub's friendship, they're so cute! 

I honestly ship Belphegor and Azazel so much, not to mention Mullin and Beelzebub and they have some cute moments this volume as the romance moves along! The romance aspect wasn't something I was actually expecting, I was expecting a funny slice of life with demons, and it is that...but there's also the romance element and I'm living for it because of all the fluff! Not to mention the art, that's completely gorgeous! 

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Manga: The Strange Creature at Kuroyuri Apartments

The Strange Creature at Kuroyuri Apartments
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Meet Meme, the good-for-nothing daughter of the Demon World's mighty Summoners Clan leader. Her dad has kicked her out into the human realm to learn some responsibility, and she needs to find a home! Enter Sentarou Narigane, wealthy landlord of Kuroyuri Apartments. Suffering from the worst case of malaise, Sentarou offers Meme a free apartment on one condition: She has to be his entertainment! 

First things first, the art is so freaking cute! So is Meme's character design, she's actually adorable. There's a reason Sentarou calls her chibi-chan. Bahamut in his 1% form was freaking cute too! I wasn't really sure what to expect, but as soon as I saw how cute the art was I was like okaaay this is gonna be a fun one! 

Then that was swiftly confirmed by Meme because her way of speech was genuinely hilarious. Sentarou is also funny, in his own way. He's kind of bored of everything because he has a tonne of money, so being given the task of keeping Meme on track finally gives him something interesting to do. He's such a little s***, he lives purely to make Meme suffer. 

There are plenty of other fun characters in the form of the other tenants. We've got Matoko who's out to get Sentarou and be his trophy wife. The maid Shioriko who's an ex special forces soldier, and his Grandfathers old bodyguard, and then we have Nonya. Nonya's a foreign agent who is legitimately trying to kill Sentarou, and who Meme thinks is her new friend. 

This new series has a bit of a Devil is a Part Timer feel to it, purely from the fact that you have Meme coming from the demon world to survive in the human world, and it's humorous too. It's obviously not the exact same, and Meme doesn't really work, but it did put me in mind of it. I love the interactions between Sentarou as he makes her "train" and she learns about our world. 

This is a really fun first volume! It piques your interest and has a different twist to it than some other slice of life kinda series. There's plenty of humour and the cast definitely keeps things interesting considering what an....interesting and varied bunch they are! Plus, aside from introducing us to the characters and the set up, it also brings in the general plot arc too! 

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Manga: Hatsu Haru

Hatsu Haru Vol 1
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Playboy Kai knows his way around girls' hearts, but when he has a run-in with tomboy Riko, he may be in for more than he bargained for! Riko clearly doesn't fit Kai's usual type of girl: she's short-tempered, scary, and can (has) easily beat him up. There's no way a rough and tumble girl like Riko is capable of a delicate feeling as love! So imagine his surprise when he finds out about her secret, one-sided crush... But it's none of his concern, right? 

I'm going to be honest, I wanted to read this because sometimes I like to have the odd series here and there that's going to uplift my mood, and be a bit of a cheerful read. With some fluff, and maybe a bit of cheesiness and some romance. Plus, it sounded like it was going to be hugely entertaining! I was also intrigued by the fact the guy was going to be our main character. 

And speaking of Kai....oh Kai, your first impression wasn't great, was it my love? It's safe to say he's a total playboy, and his friend isn't much better either! He's so, hilariously salty about Riko and what she did, it had me chuckling multiple times. I also feel like he's a wee bit delusional regarding her too. Like okay dude, you do you. To be fair to him, he does have the capacity to be quite sweet, but it's not immediately apparent. 

It was immensely satisfying to see him catch feels and struggle with it, after that first impression of him! 

As for Riko, our first glimpse of her at her first encounter with Kai was A+. She's not here for his crap, and she's a little bit of a badass. It had me cackling more than once, especially when we got a flashback to when they where kids. I really enjoyed the fact that anytime he tried anything, she just wasn't having it, and shuts it down immediately. 

Hatsu Haru actually a lot faster paced than I was expecting! I was anticipating it to take a little bit of time before the feelings started, but the volume doesn't hang about! It introduces us to the characters and the situation swiftly and then dives in to the drama. This is a cracking first volume in general, it's absolutely hilarious and wonderfully paced. Kai and his thoughts and how he handles things, like finding out about Riko's crush on Suwa and his own developing feelings...was very entertaining and while initially you might have side eyed Kai a bit, by the end you're rooting for him, like "okay...let's do this". 

Yeah there might be a cheesy trope and cliche or two, but I am living for it because it hits me with the warm and fuzzies, and I do love a bit of cheese sometimes! Plus I feel like it suits this series, and the characters and their relationship. I just love the fact she really doesn't like him and isn't going to make it easy for him, and he's quite reluctant to start with.  

As for the art, the characters are really gorgeously drawn! The art style was just so pretty, particularly how the eyes are drawn! 

Honestly...I'm now completely hooked on this series, it's entertaining, hilarious and full of cute moments and drama! 

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Manga: Stupid Love Comedy

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

Suzu Sakura is a lazy author who can't keep a deadline, is twenty-four hours late to meetings, and falls asleep in the middle of crunch time-you name it! It seems like no one can keep her in line, but then she gets a new editor. Hasegawa's a super-mega HOTTIE, but his temper runs just as hot. Though he scolds her endlessly and they're quickly driving each other up the wall, will something bloom between this odd couple...?!An inside look at the manga industry, full of laughs and a little heartache! 

First things first...this is three volumes in one, because it's the complete series all packed in to one chunky volume. The illustrations for the colour pages are gorgeous, as for the rest of the art...the character designs are gorgeous and perfectly drawn. Plus some of the expressions the characters make are just hilarious. 

I love the characters, Sakura is kind of ditzy but totally hilarious and really relatable. I think we'd all have the same reactions as her to some degree, upon meeting Hasegawa! She just can't seem to do anything on time though, and her work lately has been off. I mean I can't really say anything because I struggle with time management but I've never been a day late to a meeting before. I liked that over the course of the three volumes we saw a more badass side to her when she's defending her work. 

As for Hasegawa....I started the volume like "Oh isn't he pretty? Oh he's so sweet and adorable" and then two seconds later I was like, "wow what a douche bag". And thus we have our first impression of Hasegawa. To be fair to the dude, he does deliver a much needed smack down to poor old Sakura. She does need a bit of a wake up call, and he did actually encourage and inspire her to be better, and produce better work and work harder. He gets her to focus...mostly. He pushes her out of her comfort zone, and gets her trying to be an assistant to improve her skills, and then shows her different parts of how the industry works to show her what she's negatively effecting when she's late. 

He's also on a learning curve of his own as he hasn't worked with Shojo manga before, or anyone like her, and he initially kind of looks down on it but Sakura manages to change his opinion and I liked watching him get more and more in to the world of Shojo manga. I feel like he changes a fair bit, he's still all grouchy and shouty but he does become a little bit more tolerant. 

Alongside our main two characters, we have a brilliant cast of supporting characters and they're certainly a colourful bunch. Let's start off with Shimada, he's actually kinda funny...despite the fact he initially dissed Shojo manga! I was like oh my shouldn't have said that, but he got quite the smackdown. I loved how he and Sakura became quite the team, their bantering was so freaking entertaining. I actually loved how in tune with each other they where and how extra the two of them can be. He really has her back, and their antics just cracked me up. 

Nanami was another of the good looking male characters, he's a cover designer. much as I shipped Hasegawa and Sakura, I did low-key ship her and Nanami. They got on so well and he was so encouraging, plus I was like "yaaasss make Hasegawa jealous, so he stops being mean!". But hot damn, he turned out to be a snake. By the end of the volume I was just kind of rolling my eyes at him, and completely unsurprised though! 

Kaji was hilarious too, and he was a lot of fun, and I was pleased we actually got to see a lot of him! Hinata was...a bit of a cow. I was excited for Sakura to have a friend, but every time she was nice, she flipped the switch and did or said something nasty. As for Haruhiko...he was totally up to something. Or so I thought. I wanted to like him but he seemed really shady, and I was kind of disappointed that after all of that we didn't get to see more of him. He seemed like he had a plan to spring in to action, and steal Sakura away...but it was never really acted on and he only really appeared more than once after that. 

I'm sure anyone who's read manga knows a little about how it all works, thanks to the authors notes and afterwords and so on, but this manga takes us deep in to the industry and we get to see a lot of the process in depth! I honestly found it so interesting to see the manga go from stage to stage, and according to the comments at the end of each chapter from the editors...there's a lot of truth in this one too! 

Hasegawa was initially so kind of...cold and mean, and overly disinterested towards Sakura so you knew the romance was going to build up in to a good one! But I was a teeny bit disappointed with it in the end. I just felt like some things weren't as fleshed out as they could be, or followed up on. Like Haruhiko and his "plan", and I was hoping for a bit more romance and fluff, and a more concrete ending than we actually get. I feel like it was left kind of up in the air, or to your own interpretation, but there are some fun bonus chapters at the end to make up for it! 

Stupid Love Comedy is hugely entertaining and hilarious with some really cute moments! There's a great pace, a little bit of fluff and huge doses of humour thanks to the lively characters, and I really enjoyed the way Sakura and Hasegawa's relationship grew and developed and changed and how they got to know each other and adapted and ended up becoming closer and closer. But like I said...this one just made me so badly crave some proper romance with them, or at least the cheesy happy ever after! 

Monday, 23 July 2018

Manga: Again 3

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

Kinichiro Imamura is trying to get high school right the second time around. So far, he's managed to reunite the old members of his school's ouendan cheer squad, saving the club from the brink of destruction, but his time-traveling troubles are far from over. With the newly-revived ouendan tasked to cheer at their school's next baseball game, they'll have to cheer harder than ever if they want to bring their team to victory. To pull it off, Kinichiro the cheering newbie is going to have to learn from the very best...

Could the opening scene be described as Rocky style? Perhaps. Was I mentally singing Eye of the Tiger? Definitely. 

This volume we meet the baseball team and specifically poor old Suzuki, who Imamura has to keep from getting injured...and you know, getting his heart broken because they need him to win the upcoming game. I actually felt for the poor guy, being rejected and not wanting to show your face at school is quite relatable, I think! I was mostly cheering the fact that Imamura has his first dude friend, and while being slightly awkward because Imamura hasn't had friends before, and he's kind of bad with was still heartwarming!

The rival school's Ouendan captain, Iwasaki is a moustachioed creep, I'm not going to lie. He actually made my skin crawl a little bit...maybe that's just me. He just really creeped me out okay. His Ouendan club is...pretty good, you could say, so Usami kind of has a bit of a breakdown when it turns out they have to face off against them. Plus she looks up to the moustachioed creep. 

Things are moving forward for the Ouendan club. We've got a game upcoming, and when they find out who their rival Ouendan team is going to definitely kicks them in to high gear. This volume see's them working through their issues, because while everyone might be back with the club...they still have some unresolved issues to deal with it. They also need to work out how things should be done during practice, because Imamura has a few different ideas to the Captain. Plus Usami is super pushing a boot camp and making them all take part in it and they aren't super happy about it. 

Interestingly, Imamura gets pushed out of his comfort zone as Usami puts a lot of faith in him and his him lead the Ouendan for a day, and he's not used to either really. The poor guy is having to deal with a lot of things he's never had to before and it's interesting to watch him react and change and grow as he's faced with each new thing. 

Things could be about to change for the Ouendan and as we end the volume, we're left with a bit of a cliffhanger as they're about to cheer for the first time under Imamura's new idea...and whatever he's cooked up which is no doubt going to blow everyone either a good or a bad way. I guess we'll see! 

It's been pretty obvious since the start that for the Ouendan to survive they need to change and Usami needs to be more flexible, and Imamura's frustration with her and her way of doing things, and the situation with the Ouendan in pretty palpable and this volume addresses that. 

Friday, 20 July 2018

Manga: Seven Deadly Sins 27

Seven Deadly Sins Vol 27
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

When they were accused of trying to overthrow the monarchy, the feared warriors the Seven Deadly Sins were sent into exile. Princess Elizabeth discovers the truth - the Sins were framed by the king's guard, the Holy Knights - too late to prevent them from assassinating her father and seizing the throne! Now the princess is on the run, seeking the Sins to help her reclaim the kingdom. But the first Sin she meets, Meliodas, is a little innkeeper with a talking pig. He doesn't even have a real sword! Have the legends of the Sins' strength been exaggerated...? 

Volume 27 picks up right when we left off, and we see that....situation, shall we say, come to a close before we're finally snapped back to the present. We've spent quite a few chapters back in the past, and I've been itching to get back to the present and see what's going on! 

King...well he's kind of like a Pokemon this volume. Our little King, evolves...or starts to at least. He's like a Bulbasaur that's levelled up to an Ivysaur. The bulb on his back has started to bloom and it's not long before he'll become a fully flowered Venusaur. Diane gets a power upgrade to, so all the Sins are united together, they're all powered up and ready to throw down. Which is the first indicator that s*** is about to get real. 

But first we have to deal with the Gowther Problem. He really is...such a creep. But I do feel for him after the revelations of last volume, and I've been intrigued to see how this is all going to be resolved. It was interesting resolution and mini revelation! And alongside that the Boar Hat gets an upgrade too! 

Not to mention Margaret. She really surprised me this volume, she's all suited up and ready to square up and go get her man and I actually was fully cheering for her....even though I'd kind of forgotten about Gil going missing....oops. 

As we reach a certain point in this volume, everyone's ready to finally face off with the Commandments. I think that's actually the whole goal of this volume.....finish getting everyone ready, powered up and developing them more. Get them all in one place, and then everything's sorted before we start the next phase of the story. 

We end the volume with the Sins fully armoured up and heading off to Camelot because Camelot isn't in the best place and Merlin has made a rather interesting statement about Arthur, and I'm choosing to interpret that differently than a perhaps...romantically. It's made me think there's something going on with Arthur, or some vital connection she and Arthur have...which wouldn't be surprising as they're you know...Merlin and Arthur. Legends. Unfortunately, I'm kind of gutted that things are looking kind of bleak for Ban and his happiness. 

While this isn't an action heavy volume, we do get the answer to perhaps one of the biggest questions of the series...what's the deal with Elizabeth and her lookalikes!? 

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Manga: Tokyo Tarareba Girls

Tokyo Tarareba Girls Vol 1
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Rinko has done everything right. She hustled her way through her 20s to make it as a screenwriter, renting her own office in a trendy Tokyo neighborhood. Everything should have gone according to plan... So at 33, she can't help but lament the fact that her career's plateaued, she's still painfully single, and she spends most of her nights drinking with her two best friends in their favorite pub. One night, drunk and delusional, Rinko swears to get married by the time the Tokyo Olympics roll around in 2020. But finding a man--and love--may be a cutthroat, dirty job for a romantic at heart. 

To be one hundred percent honest, this isn't the usual art style I like when it comes to manga, but the synopsis sounded like it was going to be fun and entertaining and I did enjoy this volume! 

Rinko is relatable in many aspects, even if you aren't the same ages as her or in the same position. I really felt for her, and I could sympathise with her and see her point of view quite easily. I just felt my heart drop for her more than once throughout the volume. Yes she makes some questionable choices, but I can't entirely blame her. Despite the fact I'm not the same age as Rinko, some of the things she struggled with hit a bit close to home for me too. Friends being married and having kids and that sort of thing. 

I loved her friends, Koyuki and Kaori, and I loved their banter and how realistic they where. The codes they had to meet up, and the conversations and the drinking. Yes, they do drink a biiiiit too much because I don't know anyone who goes out and drinks as much as these girls do! And it's actually to the extent Rinko see's talking food which was a chuckle, but at the same time I was like "slow down girl!". 

Another of the supporting cast that I liked was Mami! She was totally adorable, she seems to genuinely care for Rinko, and she really has Rinko's back with the other writer, and I'm really hoping to see more of the friendship between the pair grow as Rinko seems kind of...lowkey resentful of her a little bit. 

My rather large issue with this Key. If I was Rinko, I'd have punched him, I'm not going to lie. He's incredibly rude, he judges Rinko and her friends instantly and spouts his opinions completely unasked for. As if that wasn't enough of an a-hole thing to do, he then ends up working with Rinko and keeps banging on about how bad her writing is, and how boring it is and she ends up losing the job. I don't get what his angle is? Yeah he kinda shows he cares a bit towards the end, but I just don't get him and I'm not sure how I feel about a romance between the two of them because he actually made me angry! 

Tokyo Tarareba Girls is comedic, and entertaining, with some brilliant strong female friendships and it does kind of hit you in the feels as you see the struggles Rinko has to face and how she's feeling. But I'm fully rooting for Rinko, although I personally think she can do better than Key -_-

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Manga: Wotakoi 2

Wotakoi Volume 2
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Frustrated at the slow pace of their relationship, Hirotaka asks Narumi on a real date, with one critical stipulation: They can't show their otaku sides at all! Can the two find something to bond over in the absence of games, manga, and anime? Meanwhile, Hanako and Taro revisit the origins of their own tempestuous relationship back when they were in high school, and even Naoya seems to be spending more time with a new friend! 

And the award for extra AF previously goes to......NARUMIIIIIII! Honestly it cracked me up with how extra it was. We get some beautiful colour pages to kick off the volume, and we're straight back in with The Date. 

The first half of this volume gives us some fun little chapters getting to know the characters a bit more, and then alongside that we dip in and out of Narumi and Hirotaka's date. For the second half we do much the same but we dip in and out of Koyonagi and Kabakura's history in place of the date! I really liked the mix of humour and cute, fluffy moments throughout and the contrast between the ongoing story, mixed in with other chapters. 

The comedic timing and humour are spot on, in this series and I find myself chuckling along as I'm reading! Naoya is hilariously oblivious to Narumi and Koyonagi's BL talk, bless him. I'm really loving his character and I'm on the lookout for a romantic interest for him! Luckily this volume introduces us to Sakuragi, who looks set to be his new BFF! Her "Solo performance review skill" is liiiiiteraaaallly me. Seriously. Honestly, I already ship them, except Naoya thinks a he. 

Wotakoi is accurate AF. It's entertaining, hilarious, and so freaking relatable! Not even just because of the Otakuness of it all! The art is cute, particularly when it comes to the game the group plays, and then brilliantly well drawn for the real world! 

Honestly, whenever I read this, it gets me so "Aaaaaahhh I really do love anime, once I've finished reading this I'm gonna watch AAALL THE ANIME AND BUY ALL THE MERCH!". It reminds me what I love so much about anime and manga, basically! 

This volume lets us get to know the characters a bit more, see other sides to the, and gives us some history on how Hanako and Kabakura got together! All with the usual doses of accuracy, relatability and humour! 

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Review: Bright Ruin

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

A shattered country
A world-changing magic
Magically gifted aristocrats rule Britain, and the people must serve them. But rebellion now strikes at the heart of the old order. Abi has escaped public execution, thanks to an unexpected ally. Her brother Luke is on the run with Silyen Jardine, the most mysterious aristocrat of all. And as political and magical conflicts escalate, each must decide how far they'll go for their beliefs. 
Dragons clash in the skies, as two powerful women duel for the soul of Britain. A symbol of government will blaze as it dies, and doors between worlds will open - and close forever. But the battle within human hearts will be the fiercest of all. 
I've been simultaneously anticipating this book, and dreading it because I love this trilogy, and I really didn't want it to end. I read this in one sitting, I tried to make it last as long as possible, but at the same time I couldn't put it down. Bright Ruin picks up directly from when Tarnished City left off, and we're straight in with the action. Nothing opens a book like a dragon fight eh? 
I knew straight away from the start, that this book was going to be precarious for my favourites and I was on edge from the start. I didn't even have a chance to breathe before the Renie thing happened! I'll be straight with you guys, this book is a wiiiiiiild ride, and there are so many twists and turns that even as I reached the final chapter...I still wasn't sure how it was going to end. 
I loved how we can see how far the characters have come since way back in Gilded Cage! Abi...she's changed so much, I personally feel! She's determined to fight in this book, the events from the last book have changed her. The events from this book continue to change her. She's stronger...and she's willing to do whatever it takes to bring all of this to an end. She kind of stares in to the abyss this book. 
Gavar....oh Gavar. The thing is...I know he can be kind and sort of sweet when he wants to be, and I have never stopped rooting for him to be a better person, to do the right thing and so on. I even lowkey started shipping he and Abi at one point. "Improbably decent thing to do" you nailed it Silyen, but Gavar did it anyway and he really did try to take care of Abi. I'm not sure whether he needs to grow a stronger spine or what, but I spent a lot of this book screaming at him. Again. I know why he was doing it, but I so badly wanted him to join the right team. To be the good guy I know he has the capacity to be. He just makes me scream so much, I thought I was going to end the trilogy disappointed with him, but I ended up cheering. He's been a flawed character...but also one you can cheer for. 
Silyen. Magical sociopath might be the best term I've heard to describe him, bless. I'm forever hoping for the best from my boy Silyen and getting 50/50 results, like he'll do something...kind of shady. Or you see some of his questionable motivations, and it's like really dude?! But he's kind of a genius, and while some of his methods are questionable, he is trying to work everything out and my boy does me proud this book. He's hilarious, he has feelings for Luke and I shipped it hard. I was living for their interactions, and Silyen...well...he redeemed himself for anything remotely shady he's done. I couldn't be happier with his progress throughout the trilogy!
Speaking of Luke, he isn't over the effects of what happened last book, but his cooperation and working with Silyen was brilliant and like I said...I was living for their interactions. Their can really see it grow over the course of the book and it was brilliantly done. But man did it hit me in the feels at the end. Plus Luke, Silyen and Dog where like a very bizarre Three Musketeers as they're trying to solve the mystery of the Wonder King. Who, by the way, had me in mind of King Arthur with the whole "Fact or fiction" thing. I kinda think they need their own series! 
Bouda...I tried to see things from her point of view, and I do feel for her to an extent. But this book made it clear we would never be friends. I actually ended up fully hating her this book and I really do feel like she got off lightly. Especially as Jenner wasn't even remotely redeemed.
Bright Ruin has action from the start and this book had me so tense and on the edge of my seat as I was reading. Trying to work out who was going to betray who, who was going to die and just how the hell it was all going to be resolved! Vic also still had a lot of plot twists up her sleeve, right up until the end, literally no-one was safe and anything could happen. 
I'm kind of struggling to review this book, because it was a bloody amazing series finale and I have literally no issues with it. It was everything I'd been hoping for, and anticipating it and this trilogy has never let me down. I want to rage and shriek about this book and the feels it made me feel, but I don't want to spoil the utterly fantastic ending for you guys! Let's just say the colour red is an appropriate cover colour for this book! 
Bright Ruin has a steady pace, and the plot, tension and action builds up bringing in more and more threads, more to up the stakes, and more and more action. You can't put the book down because there's so much going on and so much tension, and you can't put it down without thinking about it excessively and aching to get back to it. I have to say...the ending was utterly perfect. It broke my heart initially, but the epilogue fixed it all, and it really choked me the hell up! 
I think all that's left to say is....thank you Vic for writing such a blindingly brilliant series. Each book has just gotten better and better, and brought more and more to the story. Your writing has been fantastic, your characters interesting and morally grey, and they've grown and changed with the story. The setting...never fails to amaze me with how clever it is. How the world has been slotted in to our own, changing our own history and tweaking it to match the book. This will remain one of my favourite trilogies of all time, and you ended perfectly. So perfectly. 

Monday, 9 July 2018

Review: Spinning Silver

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

Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders... but her father isn't a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has loaned out most of his wife's dowry and left the family on the edge of poverty--until Miryem steps in. Hardening her heart against her fellow villagers' pleas, she sets out to collect what is owed--and finds herself more than up to the task. When her grandfather loans her a pouch of silver pennies, she brings it back full of gold.

But having the reputation of being able to change silver to gold can be more trouble than it's worth--especially when her fate becomes tangled with the cold creatures that haunt the wood, and whose king has learned of her reputation and wants to exploit it for reasons Miryem cannot understand.

Spinning Silver has a cracking opening line, I'm not going to lie. You just know the book's going to be good from that point on, regardless of whether or not you've read Uprooted and know what excellence to expect! First things first, I need to hit you all with TW: DOMESTIC ABUSE for one of the POV's so none of you are caught unawares! 

I have to say, I very quickly warmed to Miryem and I was backing her all the way. Watching her father get mugged off by the people he'd lent money to, who refused to pay him back, while they lived in luxury compared to Miryem and her family actually made me quite angry. Miryem and her family struggled so much, while these people had whatever they wanted or needed and begrudged paying back what they'd loaned!? I really don't blame Miryem for taking matters in to her own hands. I actually quite admired her, she was intelligent, she made her family up from nothing. She made herself and her family a success. She's strong, smart and she doesn't give up. She does what she thinks is right, and I really respected that from her. 

I honestly started shipping her and the Staryk Lord pretty early on. I was like "come on dude, thaw yourself a bit. I know it's hard, but you know you want to". The ending had me cheering, it was too cute but also...totally them, no gushy romance, it was just perfect and wrapped up their story really well! 

Alongside Miryem we have a couple of other POV's, one of which is Wanda. I got so damn proud of her the further along the book went. She starts off quite quiet, but she ends up becoming friends with Miryem and stands up for her and for herself at different points throughout the book. Her father is very abusive, like that's actually an understatement. He's a nasty piece of work, and he's very violent and really doesn't treat Wanda like a human. Despite all that, Wanda see's the magic in even the simplest thing, and I really loved that about her. 

In the beginning her narrative was an interesting contrast to Miryem's, because Miryem talks about what she does to get the money, she's very businesslike and matter of fact about it, and it's very...real world, if that makes sense? Whereas Wanda looks at Miryem turning this silver in to gold or other goods and she see's magic. There's a few other instances where something very basic and ordinary, is seen as magic by her and I really liked it! I feel like Wanda appreciated the magic more! 

One of our other POV's is Irina, and I honestly get so frustrated on behalf of characters like Irina, forced to marry a-holes like Mirnatius except he's extra evil. The thing is...I felt for her, but I kinda ended up not liking her very much because I really liked and respected Miryem as a character and I was on her side, and I feel like...while I get why Irina does what she does at the end, I just felt like she was kind of selfish about it and doesn't even consider anything Miryem has to say. She just annoyed me a bit towards the end. 

Those are kind of our main 3 POV's, but there's a couple of others throughout the book too, new POV's kept getting added in with excellent timing! It was fantastically done, they where only added when you really needed them and each brought something to the story and the plot, and it was interesting to see some of them! 

I have to say...Mirnatius surprised me. I didn't particularly like him at the beginning and I thought he was pure evil....but his is one of the POV's that comes in over the course of the book and....I found myself liking him!? He's actually pretty hilarious...rude...but ultimately hilarious. Who draws someone over and over purely to ask people if they think she's pretty!? He was so baffled, I was cackling! I genuinely ended up feeling sorry for him, and I was pleased with how things turned out for he and Irina. 

This is a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin but honestly...I don't actually know much about it other than what I picked up from watching Once Upon a Time and a few other bits? I do know it involves spinning straw in to gold and I saw aspects of that in the story with the silver to gold, and spinning was mentioned a few times. I did pick out Irina's ring and necklace too, as the miller's daughter gives them to our shady friend Rumpel in exchange for his the three rooms of silver coins getting bigger each time...the silver was substituted for the straw if I remember correctly. 

As much as this is a retelling....Novik has put her own spin on things and while there are things you can pick out if you know what you're looking feels like a different story. Spinning Silver has a proper, lush, fairy tale vibe to it from beginning to end! The final sentence...the writing...the magic, it all screamed fairy tale. Although full disclosure...much as I was fascinated by the Staryk, at the beginning I was kind of picturing White Walkers from GoT! 

I also really enjoyed reading about and learning about the Jewish characters, and their community and celebrations! Especially in a fantasy setting! 

The writing is lush, and rich and paints the world. Building it up, and the mythology and lore around it are woven in too. The characters are complex and well written, we see a lot of character growth and change from them over the course of the book, and I really felt like we'd all become a giant family by the end! Speaking of, I loved how the book showed that you can be family whether you're related or not, it had a very strong family theme throughout despite the domestic abuse. 

Spinning Silver has an excellent, steady pace and the plot builds up's also so much more than it first appears upon reading the synopsis. The synopsis just scratches the surface of what this book is. I enjoyed delving deeper and deeper and having the plot develop and grow and expand and take us on this fantastical journey. I really got lost within the magic and rich storytelling and was completely engrossed. It wasn't super fast paced, nor was it action packed. It had action, but it wasn't every single chapter, if you know what I mean. But the writing and plot enchants you so much that you're completely hooked and you leave the book satisfied with how it all wraps up and comes to an end! 

Monday, 2 July 2018

Review: A Reaper At The Gates

A Reaper at the Gates
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Beyond the Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.

The Blood Shrike, Helene Aquilla, is assailed on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable, while the Commandant capitalizes on his madness to bolster her own power. As Helene searches for a way to hold back the approaching darkness, her sister's life and the lives of all those in the Empire hang in the balance.

Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. But while hunting for a way to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would aid her, and is drawn into a battle she never thought she'd have to fight.

And in the land between the living and the dead, Elias Veturius has given up his freedom to serve as Soul Catcher. But in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that will stop at nothing to ensure Elias's devotion–even at the cost of his humanity. 

Okay folks, here we go! I've been anticipating this book like mad after how Torch ended, and I eagerly dove in to this and just....well, I was basically glued to the page. 

We open with the chilling POV of the Nightbringer, you guys remember that charming individual right? Then we head off in to a tense situation that doesn't let up as there's imminent danger. I pretty much spent the whole book on the edge of my seat, with a creeping feeling of dread and something coming. 

I have to say...the Nightbringer kind of mentally divides me. I just can't decide how I feel about his character. On the one hand....he seems like a bad guy after everything he's done, and obviously I'm on  Laia's side, but on the other...I feel bad for him. We get his story this book and it hit me in the feels and I really do feel for the guy and I get why he's doing what he's doing eye for an eye makes the whole world blind my dude. 

As usual Laia and Elias are our main POV's along with Helene. This book starts off tense but as the pace and tension throughout the book ramps up, each POV seems snappier, too short, and we leave each POV wanting more as we're thrown back in to the next POV that a mere chapter or two before...we where desperate to see what would happen next in and didn't want to leave, but now we don't want to leave the current POV. It was a vicious cycle that saw me eating my dinner with one hand because I couldn't put the book down. 

Helene...I kinda feel like she goes full dark side, and I can't blame her. I get why she's doing it, but it didn't stop me from crying "Heeeelleeeneee whyyyyy" at points. I kept thinking...why don't you just team up with Laia and Elias?! I do kind of get my wish at the end of this book. I really do like Helene, I've come to like her more and more throughout the books, she has a lot of depth and a lot that she struggles with personally. 

Helene really struck a chord with me this book, I just really supported her. She'll do anything to protect her sister, but deep down she tries her best to help the people. She cares about the people. She won't stand by and watch them get killed...unlike the Commandant who really just needs to die already. Sorry not sorry. The Nightbringer could do with taking a long walk off a short cliff too. OH and most excitingly....I've been feeling sorry for Helene because of the Elias thing but this time...I ship her and Harper so hard. C'mon Helene...let yourself be happy. I beg. 

Marcus...all I'm gonna say about him is that he's gone full crazy town....and God help me I felt sorry for him at one point which is a twist I didn't see coming. At the end...he could have been an arse but he wasn't, and he knew what was coming. 

Laia...well she really has come a long way since the first book hasn't she?! She's become much stronger and I felt so proud of her in this book. She's willing to fight, she's willing to do what she needs to, and no matter what hurts her, she picks herself up and carries on. Darin finds himself in this one as well, I feel like he's starting to heal although much of his struggle wasn't on the page. 

As for Elias...he's got himself in to a right pickle hasn't he? As soon as Shaeva made That comment...I knew what was going to happen..and it did. Like come on Elias...please listen before this situation gets any worse than it already is. We don't need ghosts and Jinn wandering about alongside the evil that is Marcus and the Commandant. I have to say...Elias changes quite a bit this book, I don't want to spoil it but...I was very interested in his journey, and his struggle with his two persona's. It's going to be interesting to see how his character goes forward from here. 

Excitingly...we get new characters this book! Musa being one of them, he's after Laia's help resurrecting the Resistance...I will admit I spent most of the book not being sure whether to trust him or not, not after what happened with a certain character in Torch! Ultimately, I'm curious about him, and his story and I'm looking forward to seeing more of him! 

Honestly...I read this book in two sittings, and I got completely engrossed and didn't take notes as I read. I had to frantically type out my feels when I was finished! 

There's tension, danger and action from the start. The pacing is excellent and Sabaa hits us with plot twists right from the please let me get comfortable first Sabaa! Give me a chance! 

Reaper at the Gates completely upsets the board, it basically takes the game board...and tosses it up in the air. Everything changes with this book, I feel like this one has a different feel to it than the others. I can see people I'd hoped would work together, working together in the future and I'm really excited for it! I mean...things seem pretty dire and helpless as we leave the book...but I'm confident in my faves! They each  bring something different to the table, and they aren't going to let things go easily. 

There are some shocking revelations and plot twists, and we get some glimpses  of the past that changes what we think we know. The political manoeuvring and the backstabbing is on point, and I was so tense while I was reading this because at this stage we all know no-one is safe. I was on the edge of my seat. I was shrieking at the book in terror more than once. It was certainly a journey. I honestly felt so stressed reading this! 

Reaper at the Gates is a whirlwind of a read/journey and when you finish kinda feels like you've walked through an actual tornado. That feeling of...who am I? What's going on? What just happened? What day is it? What is life? 

I just really can't even with this series. Each book ups it's game, and each book is better than the last which seems impossible when you read the current book..but it happens. Each one throws out shocks and twists and grows the characters and the plot. Not to mention the world and the history of it. Sabaa's writing is...intense. 

The wait for the next book is going to, once again, be brutal. Why? Because Sabaa can't do me a solid and leave the book in a somewhat hopeful place can she? I mean before the epilogue I was like "right my dudes, it's all good. Sure some s*** has gone down, sure things look bad...but we have a crack team of individuals ready to eff some shit up. We're gonna be fine". Then I turned the page. I read the epilogue. Sabaa had to do it didn't she? She had to throw in that final POV. Genuinely I closed the book like "well...everyone's screwed now. Goodbye characters, I loved you dearly", and Sabaa's like "Lol see you next year bitches". I love it. I love Sabaa. She's brutal...but she's brilliant! 

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Blog Tour: Theatrical

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

Hope dreams of working backstage in a theatre, and she’s determined to make it without the help of her famous costume designer mum. So when she lands an internship on a major production, she tells no one. But with a stroppy Hollywood star and his hot young understudy upstaging Hope’s focus, she’s soon struggling to keep her cool… and her secret. 

I LOVE MAGGIE HARCOURT! There I said, I love her books. She consistently delivers relatable MC's and blows me away with her accuracy. Which is why I'm so stoked to be part of the blog tour for her latest release Theatrical! 

I loved Unconventional, it was brilliant. It was relatable...I'd been there. It was accurate. It was overall a cracking read and I've been looking forward to seeing what Maggie would write next...and she gave us Theatrical. Going in I knew it was going to be an A+ read and Maggie didn't let me down. 

The other reason I'm excited about this blog tour? Theatre is one of my loves and I've been given free reign by Stevie (thanks Stevie!) to talk about my experiences before I kick off this review, so grab a cup of tea and settle in for story time folks!

I've been going to the theatre since I was a child, I'm not going to lie. I love a good musical, I love singing along to a musical soundtrack and my absolute favourite show has to be Phantom of the Opera, I got sucked so badly in to the story it was honestly jarring when it came to the interval. Phantom's cast ruined me for any other Phantom cast. I can't even watch the movie. *shudder* Wicked is another of my's just magical, and really wrenches my emotions. I have been known to belt out Defying Gravity terrifyingly off key.  

As a drama student, of course I got to go to the theatre even more! Shakespeare...the creepy witches will forever haunt me, they genuinely sent a shiver down my spine. The Chalk Circle...The Woman in Black, which was you know...hands down the creepiest show I've ever attended. I have never been so freaked out in my life...and there where only a couple of actors involved. Mind blowing. But I've not always just been an audience member when it comes to theatre.

I'm not sure if you guys know this, but I worked in a theatre when I was younger. I was in the chorus in a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at Woking and Windsor theatre, and I've done performing arts all my life, singing, dancing, acting. Right now I work in movies/TV. I never feel more at home than in a theatre, or on a set. Casts and crews become like family. I recently finished working on a movie that I was on for three months, and considering the stuff we had to do and overcome, we bonded more than ever before. Everyone's in the same boat. We've all been up at 3/4am to make a 4/5am call time. We're all gutted the catering ran out of sausage baps. We're all tired, and hot and bothered. (No joke, it was 20+ degrees and our costumes had 6 layers. Six.) That's why it's so emotional when a theatre run/shoot comes to an end. You've seen these people everyday, spent 14+ hours with them a day, maybe more, maybe less. You've struggled and bared your emotions to all. 

My favourite memories are from when I was in Joseph, and I have one specific memory. Every single performance, there was a specific part that I could hear the audience chuckling and I didn't know why. We weren't allowed to turn around and watch obviously, we had to face forward and you our job. I actually hadn't seen the show properly, and there was a lot I missed because I was in it and our chaperone/teacher was very serious about us facing forward and not moving...breathing...blinking. I'm joking. 

Kind of. 

Anyway, we got free tickets because I was involved in the show, so after the matinee show, my mum and I basically hung about in Woking's shopping mall, and then went to the evening performance. I was still in my costume, it wasn't much, just jeans and a Joseph t-shirt. I started to come down with something, I think it was a cold or flu or something, but I started to feel really bad during the show. I still loved the show, I finally saw why everyone laughed during one song, and then at the end when the curtain went down, the actor playing Joseph spotted me. We'd been given front row centre, but he spotted me and waved at me, and bent down and carried on waving at me until the curtain had completely gone down. Yes I was super embarrassed because everyone was looking at me's one of my favourite memories ever. That and the run of shows I was picked to be centre stage at the opening of act two. BOOM.

It's safe to say the setting of Theatrical is very familiar ground to me, a lot of the crew roles in theatre are familiar to me despite the fact I work in film right now. I honestly felt like I'd come home reading this, I could smell that comforting theatre smell...feel the excitement before the performance. 

This book had me so damn nostalgic throughout. Vivid memories of sitting in rehearsals in a rehearsal room running each song over and over. Rehearsals in the theatre. Doing homework backstage in the dressing room..and getting the main casts help or one of the crews. Watching sound check. Doing a matinee show, then rushing out to get lunch from wherever was around. Obviously being a child I wasn't allowed to do every single show, but I did a fair chunk of them. Bizarrely I even remember a load of us collecting those sticker packs for those World Cup sticker book things?! 

Why am I telling you all this? Partially because I've been given free license to as part of this blog tour (Thanks Stevie!)...but also because I want you guys to understand how badly in the feels this book hit me as I was reading it! And you know...I want you guys to love theatre if you don't already...or even get curious enough to check it out, and I will willingly get behind that!

I want you guys to understand that for me, Theatrical was like putting on my favourite, warm, cosy, and very familiar jumper. I felt so...comforted reading this book! 

Right from the start, I was loving it. "Act one, Scene One" Instead of regular old chapter one. The book's divided in to parts based on the process of bringing a show to the stage. I also had a sense of anticipation too, I was fully ready to get stuck in to this journey. 

Hope...I admired her a hell of a lot. She wants to do things on her own terms without her mums name helping her. I really respected her for that because a lot of people wouldn't make that choice, in an industry that a lot of the time is all about who you know. She's an incredibly relatable character, you're on her side and you're rooting for her throughout. I wanted her to succeed, I wanted her to take this step and smash it out of the park. 

George...I have to mention him. I loved him, he was so funny! He's one of many supporting characters brought to vivid life in the story, and added some magic. Plus I know a loooott of costume department lovelies who are very similar to him! much as I got Hope and loved her and so on...I got Luke even more. He's an actor, I'm an actor, I understood him and his work process and he had me smiling a lot. He brought so many memories for me! Both he and Hope are brilliant characters, and I loved the chemistry and relationship between the two of them and while the romance is a main part of the book...Hope's self discovery and everything she overcomes, all of her personal struggles, is too. And of course the theatre because we're not left hanging my friends, we see this show through to the very end. I loved the balance between all these different aspects!  

I'm not going to lie to you all...I really didn't like Tommy at first, but I kinda ended up feeling sorry for the poor guy. He goes from being this bratty start, to having layers peeled off until you could see the regular old human underneath. The characters go on some brilliant journeys throughout this book, and they grow and change, which makes them all the more real. 

I'm gonna give you another dose of honesty...I got so caught up reading this book, and being all nostalgic that I actually didn't pause long enough to take notes while I was reading like I usually do....which is probably a bad thing to admit but...I was hooked! 

Theatrical is a proper love letter to the theatre, if you love the theatre already or if you've never been's going to highlight everything you love, or everything to love, and fill you with nostalgia and a strong urge to go! Not to mention it perfectly illustrates the magic of the well as all the hard work that goes in to bringing that magic to life. I actually felt quite emotional finishing the book, and seeing the show come to fruition. 

Like Unconventional, Maggie knows what she's talking about. She knows all the ins and outs, all the terms, the process...everything was spot on accurate. Which makes it so easy to get swept up in the book, and you're really there with the characters. These settings spring to life around you, you're right there with them, regardless of if you've ever been in a practice room or a theatre before. You're fully on this journey with the characters, you're on this team. You see the show build up from the bare bones, you watch it build up and build up, and the pace of the book reflects that. 

Honestly, Theatrical is just completely bloody brilliant. The writing is on point, there's humour, there's drama, there's nostalgia...and there's all the magic of the theatre contained in one book, and brought to life by some very relatable characters, and a very talented author. 

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