Monday, 31 December 2018

GUEST POST: Brenda Drake!

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Manga: Hiro Mashima's Playground

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 17 December 2018

Manga: Frau Faust 5

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

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

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

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

Friday, 14 December 2018

Manga: Waiting For Spring 9

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Manga: Boarding School Juliet 2

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

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

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Review: Supercute Futures

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

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

Manga: Eden's Zero

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 3 December 2018

Manga: Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts 3

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

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

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

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

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