Friday, 30 November 2018

Manga: Napping Princess 2

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Review: The Glass of Lead and Gold

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

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

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

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

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

Manga: Sword Oratoria 5

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

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

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Review: The Blue Salt Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Manga: Compulsive Gambler 7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 26 November 2018

Review: Princess in Practice

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

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

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

Is the threat of secret organisation Leviathan growing closer?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 25 November 2018

BLOG TOUR: Shadow of the Fox

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 23 November 2018

Review: Empire of Sand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Review: Dear Evan Hansen

Dear Evan Hansen
Rating: 3/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

When a letter that was never meant to be seen by anyone draws high school senior Evan Hansen into a family's grief over the loss of their son, he is given the chance of a lifetime: to belong. He just has to stick to a lie he never meant to tell, that the notoriously troubled Connor Murphy was his secret best friend.

Suddenly, Evan isn't invisible anymore--even to the girl of his dreams. And Connor Murphy's parents, with their beautiful home on the other side of town, have taken him in like he was their own, desperate to know more about their enigmatic son from his closest friend. As Evan gets pulled deeper into their swirl of anger, regret, and confusion, he knows that what he's doing can't be right, but if he's helping people, how wrong can it be?

No longer tangled in his once-incapacitating anxiety, this new Evan has a purpose. And a website. He's confident. He's a viral phenomenon. Every day is amazing. Until everything is in danger of unraveling and he comes face to face with his greatest obstacle: himself. 

This one's kind of hard for me to review because I really wanted to like it, but I did go out of my comfort zone a little bit for this one. You guys know I don't really read contemporary much, but I'd heard so much about the show that I was curious to see what the book was all about, and the synopsis did pique my interest. 

Evan, I felt, was quite easy to relate to in the anxiety aspect for me....but that was about it. He's struggling with things, you're watching him dig himself a bigger and bigger hole. I don't feel he was maliciously doing it, I just feel like he got put on the spot and wasn't really sure how to handle the situation and then it all got away from him a bit...and he didn't own up to it for a long time. I think he just went along with it, and then found a place for himself. His dad isn't there for him, his mum is always working and Connor's family treated him like...well, family. But I don't agree with how he treated his mum or how he handled the whole situation. I kind of feel like all there was to Evan was his struggles, there was nothing else to him, no bring his personality to life. 

As for the other characters I don't really have much to say about them, I didn't really think much of Evan's alleged friend who kept helping him with it and then dropped him after it all came out, despite the fact Evan didn't throw him under the bus. I was a bit..kind of indifferent about the other characters, except for Connor. I liked that we had Connors POV switched up with Evans throughout, it was an element that I wasn't expecting, and we had Connors story going at the same time as Evans so you see the real Connor mixed with the fictional one. The real friendship mixed with the fictional one and I did enjoy how that was done.  

In the interests of being fully honest, I did start to skim read this after a certain point because of the pace and how little was happening. I never really was hooked on the book, I could definitely put it down. I just felt like the whole book was depressing, and I'd seen people saying that the show had some humour to it but I didn't see that in the book. Yes it was accurate in how the students handled the news, I could picture the same thing happening in any school to be honest. The people who didn't know, or even treated the person badly acting like they were friends and knew them personally. I do feel like things wrapped up nicely though. 

The book had some aspects that I did enjoy, and some that I didn't. I can't comment on whether it's true to the show or not, other than that I've seen fans of the show saying it has memorable characters and humour which doesn't really fit well with the book I read. It definitely wasn't what I was expecting though. 

Manga: The Mortal Instruments 2

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

Having her best friend, Simon, kidnapped and being attacked by the vampires already seemed too much for Clary to handle. But when she realizes her hidden power and that leads her to what she has been searching for, the truth exposed might be something that she absolutely cannot accept...

Thanks to rat Simon going missing, we get to meet Raphael this volume and see the Hotel Dumont! We also have a nice amount of action this volume, right from the start, as we have to obviously rescue poor old Simon, but get caught up in a fight with the vampires and the wolves...because of course the wolves show up and get involved and start an all out brawl! 

I loved getting to see the flying motorcycle scene illustrated, along with seeing what Raphael looks like in this art style! Our love triangle also kicks off as we get a kiss and a confession from two different guys! 

The pace continues to move along nicely, we have the hunt for the Mortal Cup heat up and we get a lead, we meet Valentine and there's a shock betrayal. There's basically never a dull moment this volume as we have a lot going on, there's some plot twists and we get background on the Circle and what went down between Clary's parents and Luke, the Lightwoods and Hodge causing everything to be the way it is. I did really enjoy how that was done, and I was curious how that kind of background info was going to be brought in to the manga! 

The plot twists keep coming right until the end when we have a final one to shake things up, Clary is seeing things...or is she? The reveals in this volume are definitely going to make things interesting in the next volume as it'll change how some of the characters interact with each other and the dynamics of the romance. Plus my Malec should be kicking off soon! If memory serves me correctly, this volume wraps up the first book entirely and the next volume will be cracking on with book two! 

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Manga: The Devil Is A Part Timer 12

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

MgRonald is closed for renovations which means the Devil King is temporarily out of a job! His hunt for employment takes him all the way to the Nagano prefecture where he'll get a taste of agricultural life. Can Maou survive his time in the sticks, or is he simply too city spoiled? 

The Devil goes farming y'all, and it's absolutely hilarious watching Urushihara struggle...and everyone think he's going to die. But at the same've gotta think about the poor guy...being separated from his computer for that long. It must be horrifying. 

Chiho's family need help on their farm to harvest everything before it goes bad and seeing as their place of work is closed...she drags Maou along with the other demons. Of course it's not long before Emi and Suzuno pop up too! 

Maou surprisingly seems to be enjoying himself, but things get real as he and Emi have a chat. Considering Maou destroyed all the farms on Ante Isla...including hers. I feel like this volume lets us see how Maou has grown as a character, he's thinking about his past actions and how and why those actions are wrong and should be changed...or could be changed in the future. He's basically realising he's wrong and why and he actually throws some quite deep thoughts at us. 

However, it's not all smooth sailing this volume, we do get a liiiiittle bit of action in the form of a bear attack and it looks like there's going to be trouble next volume as we have a thief and Maou and his friends as outsiders are instant suspects. This is another slow volume, but the pace is going to pick up again next volume! 

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Manga: Hatsu Haru 3

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

They say idiots don't get colds, but Kai sure has been love-sick over Riko. There's a fireworks festival around the corner, but instead of asking Riko along, he decides to just not go! When Class Representative work keeps them late at school anyway, it looks like the perfect chance for Kai to collect his feelings and confess...With summer vacation approaching and fireworks booming overhead, will the feelings Kai's precariously kept under wraps finally explode? 

The romance is stepping up with this volume, and not just with our main couple! Miki is adorable, bless him, and he and Kiyo are cute together even though they insist they aren't dating...yeah right. I ship it! Poor old Kai had to give Miki advice/tips for meeting her for the fireworks and it was kinda hilarious how Miki turned to his friends as an example for help and to see what he actually thinks of them individually. I was actually intrigued to sidetrack to Miki and his romance, seeing as it was actually going somewhere, no offence Kai. What I'm trying to say is that it was a cute little happy romance to offset the trials and tribulations Kai is going through with his. I have to say I was cheering him on, but he was also pretty relatable at the same time if you all cast your minds back to what it was like dating someone in school/for the first time in general. Bless him. 

I have to say, Kai was literally every single person ever when looking at one of those sickeningly cute couples at one point. He's just so salty that he can't go to the fireworks with Riko. Meanwhile Riko actually wants to thank Kai for the apple but doesn't seem to know how and he doesn't get what she's getting at, so she gets a tiny bit frustrated and then Kai gets frustrated...BUT we finally have some progress because of it! 

They get to spend some time together, and they do have quite a cute and innocent moment....but it's not long before it gets blown up and causes some trouble thanks to Ayumi...but like I said. It's all good. It's necessary because it pushes things forward and is the catalyst in leading Kai to finally snap at Riko, moving things along as she comes to terms with the fact that she and Suwa aren't going to be a thing. 

Riko has to come to terms with a few things this volume actually, and then try and move on and get over her feelings, Kai is also faced with a problem when it looks like Riko has moved on and gotten herself a boyfriend in the form of Hatano who's introduced this volume. He's an old classmate of theirs from Middle School. Which did surprise me because I thought as far as a "love triangle" was gonna go, it was just gonna be Suwa. Anyway, Kai reaaaaally doesn't handle it well. Luckily his buddy Takaya is looking out for him and gives him an opportunity just in time for the end of the volume and....did he...did he just confess?! 

I have to say, I'm pleased this isn't dragging out her whole thing with Suwa or Hatano, like I was expecting it to go on for longer than it actually has so far, proving the pace of this series, but it also makes me intrigued to see what else this series is going to throw at us, as we've made some progress with Kai and Riko, both of whom are developing more as characters this volume, and now it's just waiting to see what they'll do about their feelings for instance...

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Manga: Fairy Tale Battle Royale

Fairy Tale Battle Royale Vol 1
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Kuninaka Aoba, a mercilessly bullied ninth grader, receives a magical contract that grants her greatest wish, but at what cost? Suddenly, Aoba is thrust down a rabbit hole into a strangely familiar world from children's stories?only this version comes with a dark and gruesome twist. In this Wonderland, it's kill or be killed, in a dark fairy tale fight for survival! 

I've actually been super excited for this manga because it sounded like it was going to be epic, and I can't say I'm disappointed with it! I do love fairy tales and retellings and this is going to be a brilliant twist on them! 

The opening colour page got me all excited for getting to the fairy tales and the murder and so on, then we went to Aoba's normal school life and the anticipation was real. It doesn't hit all the gruesomeness right away although the beginning did give me a slightly creepy/uh oh kind of vibe. 

This volume is quite nicely paced in my opinion, we see Aoba's every day life, and the bullying that makes her sign the contract, and then she's in Wonderland and we get to see a bit of that and what's going down there before we're back to the real world for her to start to puzzle everything out. 

I liked the art, the character designs are nice if not a style I'd usually like, but man...the art for the gruesome and creepy old Alice and the card soldiers and the settings...they're all brilliantly drawn and the character designs and art style really fits that aspect. 

I had so much intrigue with this volume, I had creepy vibes from that book as well as intrigue because what is the deal with it? Why are all the pages blank except for one or two? How do you complete the book? We get a few hints both from the volume and the synopsis but....we don't really see that element start in this volume. We do find out that Aoba and Noah are "protagonists" and it seems they may have to kill the main cast to return the story world to normal....I'm so ready for it. 

I did find the choice of characters interesting, obviously we have Alice and we do have Little Red Riding Hood but Noah's fairy tale is one of Aesops Fables that I haven't actually heard of and I was quite pleased we didn't go in with all the famous ones straight from the start. 

Aoba was a relatable character on the book nerd front, her love for Alice in Wonderland was cute and you know...we all have that one favourite book that we re-read aaaall the time! She did make me chuckle as well with the "Don't you find it odd that Red Riding Hood was packing heat?!". I don't know why, but Noah really creeped me out at the start...I think I was waiting for him to go evil and stab her in the back, but I didn't fully trust him until near to the end of the volume. He seems oddly cute but largely okay. 

Red Riding Hood presents us with another mystery towards the end of the volume and an ominous ending along with all the tweets about #DarkFairyTale....meaning all the other protagonists out there that we might meet throughout the story. 

Honestly, I really enjoyed this and I got so engrossed in it trying to figure out which setting belonged to which story and how it all worked. This volume sets everything up, shows us the characters and their situations, and shows us how Aoba at least, came to be involved in this. I'm excited for this series to continue and to get more action, meet more protagonists and fairy tale worlds and see Aoba and Noah meet in real life! This first volume does an excellent job at catching your attention and setting the stage. 

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Review: Girls of Paper and Fire

Girls of Paper and Fire
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it's Lei they're after--the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king's interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king's consort. But Lei isn't content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable--she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she's willing to go for justice and revenge. 

I've been really excited for this book because I can't really name any other fantasy books with an f/f relationship, plus the world sounded incredibly intriguing, and while I wasn't lucky enough to win one at YALC, I did get sent one by the publisher! First things first, I'm gonna have to say TRIGGER WARNING for violence, domestic abuse, animal death and rape. 

The General and the King's soldiers, immediately got my back up, not only because of kidnapping Lei and their general attitude, but I'm not here for a dog death okay. Chapter two in case you want to skip it. It was just uncalled for. It was at that moment that I knew I was going to hate them all. It was also at that moment we met two of the other castes, and I was reminded of certain anime's with beast people! 

The world is really fascinating, as is the history of it and how it all works along with the different castes. I'm not sure what the author's inspiration is and I'm very curious to know because I got a sense of Japan because of certain things, and China because a lot of the names appear to be Chinese. Then again I've been watching a lot of Chinese drama's lately so maybe I'm just looking for things that aren't there! I'm wondering if it's a mashup of both, or if the world is inspired by various different Asian mythologies and cultures. 

Either way, I really enjoyed the world building and the vivid descriptions throughout. I had some aesthetic mental images of various different settings as I was reading, and I loved it! I found myself really pulled in to the world of the book, and the writing was brilliant too. 

I really felt for not just Lei but all of the other girls too, and what they where going through. I was so nervous and on edge, right along with Lei, waiting for her to be called and I was dimly hoping it wouldn't turn out as I was expecting or as it would appear...but that was swiftly shattered...and quite brutally too. 

Lei...she's so determined to protect her family and she's determined not to cower and be weak, I actually feel like she's quite a strong character in her own way, and you get to see her fire a couple of times, particularly at the end. Wren was quite aloof, and she is hiding secrets which doesn't make things easy for she and Lei. She is quite the badass however, and I do understand why she is quite aloof. 

I really enjoyed the supporting cast too, Chenna stood out to me in particular. I really felt like there was more to her like she knew things...or knew something. I can't explain it. I just felt like there was more to her. Zhin and Zhen where fun too, I'd have liked to see more of them. It was nice that the girls weren't all bitchy to each other. They where there for each other and looked out for each other as much as they could. Of course there's an exception in Blue, I wanted to dislike her but mostly I just felt sorry for her. Until the end that is. I did get her though, I got her motivation. Aoki...I liked her at the start but she's so naive, and I get it. She's in love with the King, but she's so...on his side no matter what that it's sickening and I was waiting to see if she'd be a snake or not. I basically didn't trust her for the rest of the book after a certain point. 

I have a favourite character too, but we only see him briefly at the sassy dude Merrin is going to be awesome to get to know in book two! 

As for the romance I really enjoyed how it was done, you could see it building up slowly. The feelings starting to develop, you could see it in the lingering glances, the looks and the little almost offhand comments about how Lei was feeling. It was truly well done, and I ship them so hard. I feel like they make a perfect pair, Wren helps Lei to be strong when she needs her and they obviously have each others backs. I'm really looking forward to seeing more of their relationship, and see how it grows more. 

The pace is quite leisurely as the world is built up for us, along with the context and situation to what the animosity was between the castes. We see Lei get stronger and stronger and everything she has to endure that builds her up in to who she is at the end of the book. We see all the bad parts with how things are run, and what's going wrong. It can be pretty brutal at times. 

The only thing that disappointed me was that there was a chunk of the book where things lagged for me a little bit. Lei didn't really have any particular goal for part of the book, and I wasn't entirely sure where the story was going to go. But the last part of the book had me glued to it. I didn't even know what the time was or how long I'd been reading when I was done. Once I'd stopped screaming at the epilogue that is. Not only was I screeching "NOOOOO" but there where a few curse words too! 

Friday, 2 November 2018

Manga: Tokyo Tarareba Girls 3

Tokyo Tarareba Girls Vol 3
Rating: 3/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

When it finally seems like Rinko has caught a break, it disappears almost as quickly--thanks, once again, to Key. Meanwhile, Kaori finds out that she's not the only one her ex is cheating on his girlfriend with, and Koyuki learns her married boyfriend's wife may not be as estranged as she seemed. And yet, faced with the relentless void of loneliness, the three continue to make choices even they know they'll regret. 

Oh Key, you're more of an a-hole with each volume, aren't you mate? There's a time and a place for truth bombs and that wasn't it. He really needs to work on his timing. To give him credit this volume...he did muster up some kindness which had me shook as I was reading the volume! 

I wasn't too sure about Rinko and her options this volume, when she was presented with the opportunity I was like "Yeah Rinko, own it!" but then she just...I get she needed inspiration but she shouldn't have gone to the bar because I knew it wasn't going to work out for her, I knew what it was going to look like. Yeah she went to the Cinema bar which is goals, by the way, and yeah she met hot bar guy aka Okuda. I was rooting for her and that relationship but it feels like it's come at the expense of her career. I honestly do feel for her, I'm rooting for her so much but she's not perfect. She makes mistakes like any of us do. I was so happy for her and this relationship but I can see exactly how it's going to go and it's already making me sad for her. 

I'm still looking at her friends like...."ladies, this is going to end in tears" and it just keeps getting worse for them but they're afraid of being lonely and alone which is completely understandable and relatable but I also really want to shake them. Which is probably how our friends feel when they watch us do something dumb. 

Volume 3 has some cute moments, and some funny moments, but this volume is more than a little bit...grim. My heart dropped for Rinki when she had the job stolen out from under her assistant, and Key made his comment. She's struggling, Key isn't the most encouraging in the first place and once again she's been told she isn't good enough anymore. It really hits you in the feels but I'm operating on the whole "Things have to get worse before they get better" thing...which means things should be getting better for Rinko and co soon right? RIGHT?! 

Thursday, 1 November 2018

BLOG TOUR: Witchy Book Recs with Kendare Blake

Hey guys! 
Halloween may have been yesterday...but why not keep on celebrating today? Let's be real, Halloween should be more than one day. Anyway, to celebrate the release of the latest book in the Three Dark Crowns series, Two Dark Reigns, I asked the lovely author Kendare Blake to tell us about some witchy books she's loved recently and can recommend to everyone! I don't know about you guys but I'm a sucker for witchy books...possibly because I grew up watching Sabrina! 
So check out the three Witchy books Kendare has loved recently! 

The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke

This quest of warriors takes you through some of the best witchy landscapes. The Mercies may be on the trail of a beast and glory, but their detour through the domain of the Salt Marsh Witches and the ensuing Witch Wars were among my favourite moments of the novel.

Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd

It's a magical caper through the streets of Paris, putting you face to face with goblins and spells and an entire hierarchy of witches. Also it made me hungry for macarons.

A Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto

This one doesn't come out until February, and it doesn't have witches exactly, but there's definitely something like spellcraft involved in the hatching of a new Phoenix. And there's magic aplenty with so many animages running around. Be on the lookout for it, for sure!

I don't know about you guys, but I'm loving the sound of all three of Kendare's recommendations! I'm definitely going to need to pick them up! Don't forget to check out The Three Dark Crowns series! 

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born—three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown. 

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