Thursday, 18 July 2019

Manga: Familia Chronicle Episode Lyu 3

Familia Chronicle: Episode Lyu Vol 3
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

After Syr pulls off a winning hand in the V.I.P. room's high-stakes poker game, Lyu demands the release of all the women Terry has collected. However, it seems Terry isn't so keen to honor the rules of his own establishment...Will Lyu and Syr make it out of the Grand Casino alive, let alone with the girls they hope to rescue!?
I know we're only volume three with this spin off series, but I'm just going to say it...I genuinely feel like this is the best out of all of the spin offs this series has offered us so far!? I'm loving it so much, and each volume has been consistently strong, with no weak moments. 
To no-ones surprise, Cervantes doesn't plan to honour the terms he agreed to and rather than freeing the girls he's supposed to, he sets two of his men 'The Black Cat' and 'The Black Fist' on Lyu. Psssh as if that would work. Especially when they aren't the fearsome people she knew back in the day...they're merely imposters. 
In a move of sheer brilliance that had me wanting to applaud, Syr nudges the other captive women in to fighting back while Bell causes chaos as a distraction with the help of poor old Mord. It has to be said...Lyu is such a badass, and she gets a seriously epic showdown in this volume that showcases that fact! 
What I enjoyed about this volume is that it kept up the same pace as the previous two, moving the story along at a fantastic pace without sacrificing the plot or any information we need, and the story arc we've had going on for these three volumes is wrapped up nice and neatly in this volume with no overspill in to the next! Plus we get some little tidbits from the past thrown in once again. It really is a beautifully paced series so far, with a nice mix of action and intrigue! 

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Manga: Sword Art Online Hollow Realization 3

Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization Vol 3
Rating: 3/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

When Kirito, Asuna, Silica, and Premiere are sucked into a world where dark elves and demons abound, the four head to the Forest of the Holy Tree, which has been tainted by demon sorcery.
Kizmel pops up and we pick up right where we left off once again! This time everyone ends up separated as Asuna and Kirito get pulled in to a side quest, with Silica and Premier being pulled in as well albeit initially separately. It was nice to get to see a fair bit of Silica for once as we rarely do more than we do as just part of the ensemble. It was also nice to see Kizmel teaming up with our characters again although I was initially a little bit worried about her and allegiances. 
The main focus of this volume is a side quest involving a demon and a stone curse along with the dark elves, obviously. There's also some super shady goings on involving Genesis and his little buddy Tara. We do speed through the quest a little bit but it's got a nice amount of action before things start to slow down again and there's talk of creating a guild. Plus we have Seven popping in to add something ominous to proceedings because of course something potentially shady is going on. 
The volume starts off quite pacy with a nice amount of action but then slows down while introducing lots of intrigue and a general sense of foreboding as things step up in one regard and we're definitely left wanting more. 

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Manga: Hinowa Ga Crush 2

Hinowa ga Crush Vol 2
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

In the midst of her first battle, Hinowa takes on the woman who killed her mother, Yomihime. Can Hinowa and her friends survive on the merciless battlefield? Then, a new and crazed general attacks from the Tenrou Nation, and the warfare gets even fiercer... 

We open on to action as we pick up immediately where we left off. It would seem Hinowa and Akame have made themselves an enemy...or more accurately a nemesis who I'm sure we're going to be seeing a lot more of, more so than we did this volume. I feel like she might become the Esdeath of this series! 

Things move quickly in this volume, the battle is over and done with, Hinowa and Hisame prove themselves and swiftly get promoted to the rank of Captain. We have to go and defeat a freak in order to craft a special weapon although I do wish there had been a bit more depth to that part in particular, but it's rushed through and we end up with fancy, strong weapons, and then we meet Kyoukotsu, another Tenrou commander who's way creepier than the last and intent on his new plan. So you could say that this volume is pretty pacy with no dull moments to it. 

We also get some more background on certain characters and their motivations. We have another battle imminent, obviously, but as a little prelude we have a showdown with Kyoukotsu who is categorically at least 99% crazy. He does, however, provide Suzumaru with a chance to take the spotlight for a little while and shine before we leave off the volume waiting for the battle to begin. 

This is an impressively paced second volume that keeps up the momentum of the first and covers a lot of ground while giving us plenty of action, without seeming overly rushed except for that one little plot thread with the quest which I personally feel could have been a little bit longer as I was quite excited for a quest for a couple of chapters before diving back in to the battles! 

Monday, 15 July 2019

Manga: Graineliers 3

Graineliers Vol 3 
Rating: 3/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Carried off to Grainelier headquarters on suspicion of being a harmful seed carrier, Luca finds himself at the mercy of Special Researcher Nicolas. But Nicolas and his ilk are not what they seem, and at the elite Grainelier's behest, Luca passes himself off as a fellow Institute researcher...only to end up cohabiting with Nicolas himself! Meanwhile, Abel, driven to rescue his childhood friend, takes up with Insecte, an anti-Grainelier group. But when a certain incident lands him in a life-or-death situation, Abel might have to focus on saving his own skin first! 

Abel is getting to grips with his new situation and even has to get to grips with a weapon of his own! Rogers is still suspicious of him and suspects him of being a spy and while we spend a leisurely chapter with Abel fitting in and adjusting to everything and so on, we also end up with the difficult choice he's going to have to make...whether or not to go with a seed and if so which one. The odds don't look that great for any of the options he has. 

Things pick up during the next chapter when Abel ends up in a tough situation thanks to some thieves, and it does give him a chance to finally bond with the ever suspicious Rogers, predictable as it was. As you can imagine we get plenty of action from this turn in the story after the initially slow start, and then the mystery is ramped up once we switch over to Luca's POV, and in Abel's POV we have the mysterious man who becomes his bodyguard before we head in to plain 'oh dear' territory. 

Lucas is obviously with Nicolas, who's all kinds of shady and creepy and the mystery around him deepens in this volume. He also seems to know something about the mystery of Luca's father but of course, he won't spill it straight away because he's infuriating like that! Luca ends up posing as one of them in a uniform and everything and he even gets to join Nicolas' team. 

Along with a sprinkle of action, danger and ramped up mystery, we get some more background on why the carrier only squads exist as well as the political climate of the world of this story and the clashes amongst countries so the world gets fleshed out even more. 

While the volume initially started a little slow it built up as we went along, weaving in some more mystery and intrigue, answering some questions we had and giving us some background and adding to the world building as we build up towards an epic showdown in the next volume. Luca is posing as Nicolas' subordinate and is potentially about to have a moral crisis while Abel is trying to protect someone and might have to realise the fact that he can't with his current sills. I feel the story is developing so far at a nice pace, giving us action and building up the plot with a nice balance. 

Friday, 5 July 2019

Manga: Again!! 8

Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

The president of Kanan High School's drama club is also its only member: Hanataka. Three years from now, Hanataka is going to be a celebrity famous for her sex appeal, but in high school she's timid, unsociable, shabby-looking, and widely disliked. Kinichiro can't help but be fascinated with her, and convinces Usami to have the ouendan cheer for the drama club's performance at the school festival. It's a new chapter for the ouendan, but is Kinichiro's "help" even welcome? 

I will admit, when everything with the Ouendan was resolved I did wonder how much further this could go, and I wasn't sure where they were going with the focus on Hanataka, amusing as I did find it and her. 

Of course we quickly discover why, you can't change something in the past without everything changing, there's a knock on effect and Hanataka and her drama club are a part of that. Of course our time travellers have to stick their noses in to it all, and so the Ouendan shifts away from focusing on the sports teams a little as they try to help out the drama club. 

If I'm being honest, I feel like this angle/storyline is a bit more interesting than the previous parts of the plot. I loved Hanataka's interactions with Imamura, and her in general she did make me chuckle, and him thinking she was cute was also quite cute. Hiro on the other hand has reached the height of creeper behaviour, time travel really doesn't agree with him. 

I have to say, this volume things take a turn for the weird and slightly ridiculous, with the musical and everything, at the same time you kind of have to laugh at it so I'm actually enjoying this strange turn a lot and I can only begin to imagine the other things that have or will change and need to be fixed! 

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Manga: 10 Dance Vol 3

10 Dance Vol 3 
Rating: 3/5 
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

As if learning the moves wasn't hard enough, Sugiki needs to master a crucial element if he's to succeed in Latin Ballroom: sex appeal. Suzuki takes a personal approach in teaching him the art of seduction, but what happens when the student learns too well? And Suzuki has problems of his own: With the 10 Dance competition on the horizon, he must raise his Standard rank, or risk losing the chance to compete at all. And just as the pair starts to understand their relationship to each other, a secret from Sugiki's past threatens to undo everything. 

The tension between the two dancers is stepping up right from the beginning, and they finally bond a little bit as they find some common ground. I have to say this volume had me laughing at how blunt it was at some points! 

For the most part though, nothing much really happens in this volume. It's definitely one of the slower ones, more building up towards stuff than anything. We see them bonding, getting closer as they continue to work together, supporting each other and Sugiki is manoeuvring something behind the scenes that I'm sure we'll see come out in the coming volumes. We also get some more depth to the characters as we get more background and insight in to both of them. 

While some things are set up for the next volume and the future of the series, the romance builds up more and more with some tension and then finally a moment that will change the dynamics of their relationship so far as things start to heat up! 

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Blog Tour: Soul of the Sword

Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko has one task: to take her piece of the ancient and powerful scroll to the Steel Feather temple in order to prevent the summoning of the Harbinger of Change, the great Kami Dragon who will grant one wish to whomever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. But she has a new enemy now. The demon Hakaimono, who for centuries was trapped in a cursed sword, has escaped and possessed the boy she thought would protect her, Kage Tatsumi of the Shadow Clan.

Hakaimono has done the unthinkable and joined forces with the Master of Demons in order to break the curse of the sword and set himself free. To overthrow the empire and cover the land in darkness, they need one thing: the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. As the paths of Yumeko and the possessed Tatsumi cross once again, the entire empire will be thrown into chaos. 

If you read my reviews I'm sure you guys are well aware that I completely and utterly loved Shadow of the Fox when it came out. I love Julie Kagawas' books anyway, but the storytelling was rich, the world building was thorough and I was living for all of the Japanese mythology and yokai. Of course it had a fantastic ending that left me wanting more and Soul of the Sword has been one of my most anticipated sequels, I can seriously say that it didn't disappoint me at all, although it did go off in a direction I wasn't entirely expecting! 

Soul of the Sword is not here to play around. We kick off with an intense reveal, and we're immediately tossed straight back in to the world thanks to the cinematic writing that effectively pulls you back in like you'd never been away. There's a delicious amount of background on the Kage aka the Shadow Clan, and the demon sword Kamigoroshi as well as the demon Hakaimono, adding some more threads to the mystery to intrigue you. 

Yumeko is determined to save Tatsumi because she blames herself but I feel like she continues to grow as a character at a nice pace. She's learning more about her feelings, and how she feels about Tatsumi. She's also learning more about her powers and what she can do and she really gets to let loose with them, showing a slightly differing side of herself. Okame is still as snarky and hilarious as ever but we get to see a slightly more vulnerable side to him...I just wish he didn't beat himself up so much about stuff. Daisuke is forever calm and collected and I love him and Reika is the grumpy badass. I just love them together, and the banter and interactions they have, and how loyal they are to Yumeko and determined to protect her and get her to the temple. 

POV wise we get to see Suki again, we obviously get Yumeko's and we get Hakaimono as well as Tatsumi although we don't get to see Tatsumi much this book, obviously. I wasn't really expecting to get Hakaimono's perspective but I kind of liked him? Like sure he's an evil demon, but his narrative was on point with the snark and sarcasm and general bad guy aura he exudes. He's kind of bloodthirsty but he's also badass, I don't know. I guess I just appreciate a good villainous narrative, especially when there's the opportunity for said villain to perhaps become one of the team. 

Like I said, Suki is still floating around as well and she gives us some insights in to the super mysterious Seigetsu and his little yokai pal Taka. I'm honestly not too sure what to make of him to be honest, I was hoping he wasn't shady but I was so untrusting of him. Shout out to him for all the ominous visions because of course I got attached to the character who's apparently going to die. Love that for me. 

While we didn't get to see Tatsumi as much this book we still got some of his past, and when he does make his return and get some interactions with Yumeko they of course pulled at my heart because I just want him to be happy okay. His background and his narrative just punch me in the heart every time. For those of you who love some romance, don't worry though, there's a side ship that pops up and I have to say...I ship it with my whole chest. I wasn't expecting it but I loved it, it added a nice dash of romance to proceedings along with a little bit of dread and angst considering the previously mentioned ominous visions. It's also nicely slotted in via the narratives we do have, with no additional narrative needed and I feel like it helps Yumeko with her own feelings and understanding of emotions. Either way....the new ship had me screeching and it's now my favourite! 

The rich storytelling and writing continues on from the first book, saturated with lush descriptions as well as legends and stories that pull you in and have you clearly envisioning the world and settings. It also gives you a thirst for more of the mythology! While Yumeko and co are held up by the Shadow Clan and there's some intrigue with the in-fighting amongst them, we have a more action and adventure vibe with Hakaimono and Suki. Of course everyone's narratives give us huge doses of mythology, yokai and Yurei nicely woven in and I'm just in love with the storytelling for this book! 

Although I will say, I feel like their talk of ballads and the whole 'anything less than the heroes giving their lives for honour, duty, sacrifice and the glory of the Empire' not being much of a story at all is a warning for how this series is going to end, it hit me with the biggest sense of foreboding. 

The plot once again builds up slowly with huge quest vibes, but these do mostly come from the other POVs than Yumeko for the most part, and Seigetsu provides magic and mystery to Hakaimono's blood and death. While the plot builds up more and more we've got banter, bonding and camaraderie along with imaginative, vivid and magical locations brought to life with the atmospheric and beautiful writing. The storytelling is fantastic, it sets a certain tone for the book and helps to draw you in, embellishing the world as it goes and then towards the end the pace builds up and we've got shock plot twists once again that leave you screaming for the next book! There's also been some very interesting developments for one character, a shadowy figure has been revealed and it all looks a little bit dire! 

Friday, 28 June 2019

Manga: Love in Focus 2

Love in Focus Vol 2
Rating: 3/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

After earning Mitsuru's trust, Mako's beginning to get the hang of living in Lens Inn with the high school photo club. Behind the scenes, however, Mako's best friend Kei warns Mitsuru to keep his distance. This ominous message exposes Kei's feelings for Mako, but Mitsuru is the only one who knows! Later, when the club members all go on a field trip together, a sudden downpour strands Mako and Mitsuru. What will the two do?!
If you cast your minds back to the first volume, a certain gauntlet was thrown at the end of the last volume. It would appear that I was right about a love triangle, as the feelings and romance step up in this volume with Amemura and Mako having some moments right from the beginning of the volume, and of course there's Kei. 
We get a nice amount of insight in to Kei as we get some more of his background and what his family was like, as well as concisely showing us how his feelings for Mako developed. It adds some depth to him as the character, making him more than just 'the childhood best friend', but it doesn't really make me root for him yet, I'm kind of Team Amemura! 
Nene decides to push the plot along by broaching the subject of love and feelings to Mao who we all know is completely oblivious to all of that! Kei meanwhile is struggling with his feelings, and we do have more of a focus on him this volume for the most part, as well as his little tense moments with Amemura. Of course, Mako has had her eyes opened a little bit and is trying to figure out what she's feeling and why when it comes to one of the boys....all in time for someone to make a confession that certainly complicates things. 
Volume two moves the story along swiftly, stepping up the romance after the initial introductions last volume. It gives us some cute moments, even if it's a tad predictable, and with the fast pace pushing the story forward with no time to drag it's a quick and fun read! 

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Review: The Quintessential Quintuplets 3

The Quintessential Quintuplets Vol 3 
Rating: 3.5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Working hard finally feels like it's paying off! After an exciting fireworks festival, Futaro feels like he's come to an understanding with the sisters. Unfortunately for the study group, midterm exams are right around the corner and the stakes are higher than ever. The quintuplets' father gives Futaro an ultimatum: If even one of my daughters're fired! But to Futaro's surprise, after a sleepover at the girls' house, some of them are actually stepping up to help him! 
Midterms are approaching and so is a school camping trip, but the stakes get upped because if one of the Quints fails....Uesugi is going to be out of a job. Itsuki is continuing to be stubborn and refuses all help from him because of what happened in volume 1 when she asked him for help and he refused. She's even more determined than usual to pass on her own which I actually admired as much as I'm like 'dear lord you need the help'. We did get some insight in to the relationship between the two, in that they clash so much because they're quite similar. 
It was nice to see the two of them come to an understanding after a couple more clashes. But unfortunately while they do have a moment of understanding...they aren't best buddies yet. Obviously there's a big obstacle in the blossoming relationships between Uesugi and the Quints, but it also adds some tension to the volume and a little bit of suspense too. The girls continue to grow more with each volume, and open up more, Nino is definitely softening up a little bit. 
I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the girls and Uesugi all come together and work together so I was a little bit sad that after that breakthrough it all fell apart again after the exam, but the relationships between he and the girls are developing nicely, naturally and realistically as his relationship dynamic with each girl is different much like friendships in real life and each at its own pace. Some are obviously more comfortable with him than others. 
Some feelings amongst the characters are pretty obvious and after the tension and suspense of the exams and waiting for the results, we have a nice set up for the camping trip as we lead up to it starting in the next volume. Each girl seems to have her own plan for the trip and for Uesugi's time on the trip, which see's us leave the volume with a sense of anticipation and it's definitely going to be chaotic interesting!  

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Manga: I'm Standing On A Million Lives

I'm Standing on a Million Lives Vol 1 
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Yusuke doesn't care about getting into a good high school. He just wants to get away from people and make it home to his video games. But when he suddenly finds himself in a real-life fantasy game alongside his two gorgeous classmates, he discovers it's not as easy as he thought, especially when there's a headless man "from the future" assigning him missions and his character class is...farmer. Before long, the unlikely trio find that they're not just battling for their own lives, but for the lives of millions!

To be perfectly honest with you guys, I'm kind of getting bored of the whole "born in another world" or game in another world kind of manga series because they're all getting to be quite samey, but this one sounded like it had an interesting twist to all the other ones out there so I decided to give it a chance. 

The art for this one is nice, relatively simple with clean lines and character designs but a nice amount of detailed when needed. As we start the volume we immediately meet our three characters and get a quick intro to them via Yotsuya and his inner thoughts before we're quickly off to the other world. From there the rules and how this is going to work are quickly explained, and it seems like they can actually die in the real world if they all die at the same time, if only one or two of them die they revive after 30 seconds, of course the revive time gets longer each round and there are 8 rounds to the game when he joins. Each new round a new party member is added in which added an element of anticipation for the upcoming characters in coming volumes. But we also get a lot of intrigue from the start as each time you win a round not only do you get to live, yay, you get to ask the game master a question. The girls have already done this so their answers certainly created some mystery, which was only added to when Yotsuya got his. 

As for Yotsuya, he's a game nerd and in this other world he gets to be a farmer. It's also swiftly apparent he was somewhat of a dark side at points. He's kind of selfish and only thinks of himself initially but I appreciated the fact he realised this himself. What I found interesting about his character is that once he'd levelled up his farmer occupation, he got to change his occupation, although he did only get chef this I'm curious about this element as he's going to switch occupations every time he levels up his current one but he has no choice of which one he gets. I feel like this is an interesting addition with plenty of potential. 

As for the other characters we've got Shindo who's scouted to be a model and she gets to be a wind wizard. For some reason she gives me low key shady vibes, possibly because she was the first one picked. Hakozaki is quiet and weak in the real world but in the other world she gets to be a sword warrior. She was sick back in Tokyo hence why she was so weak but in this other world she doesn't have that problem and wants to get stronger to stop holding her team back. But I mean...she has an actual sword and Yotsuya has nothing so who's holding who back, really? The final addition to our team in this volume is Tokitate, who we get to meet slightly before the fourth round. She's an anime nerd, and she ends up as a heat wizard. I have to say she seems kind of cocky about her new powers before reality slaps her back down which was hilarious to me. 

I did enjoy the humour to this, and it did have me snorting and chuckling. There were a lot of 'sods law' moments that had me going of course. There's a few fun elements to enhance the story, there's log points which are a great way to show flashes of what happened when our main character wasn't present and that fills in some background on characters, or rather motivations I guess. 

I have to say, this volume surprised me multiple times, not least because I had assumed they'd be stuck in the game world the whole time, so I wasn't expecting them to only be there when each round starts and during each round. The mystery element of who's behind it all was yet another surprise, along with various other things. I have to say, the game master creeps me out a little bit, he's missing half of his head, he's from the future which just makes him rather ominous and he speaks like a computer or a robot that's shorting out with words cut off or missing which again...kind of creepy. Although his creepiness took a hilarious turn when he called Yotsuya because it turns out that the game world can bleed in to the real world and the game master can contact them outside of the game. Not only do they have their quests each round of the game in the other world, but they have missions in the real world too in order to increase their chances in the next round. 

For a first volume, this does an excellent job at piquing your interest as it gives you action and mystery early on, and its fast pace means we cover a lot of ground in just the one volume with the initial hints of mystery deepened even more so by the end of the volume. It's also full of surprises and I got quite drawn in to this, and I do admit that when I started this I wasn't too sure what to expect or how this was going to go. Our main character has a tendency to seem a little bit dark and selfish which offsets his more idiotic and useless moments, the girls are realistic, and the stakes get higher each round as it gets harder. I have plenty of questions and I'm definitely curious to see what's going to happen next! 

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Manga: The Seven Deadly Sins 32

The Seven Deadly Sins Vol 32
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

As the Holy War between The Ten Commandments and The Four Archangels begins once more, Estarossa sets off to find Derieri and Monspeet in order to claim their commandments for himself. Before long, he encounters Sariel and Tarmiel, two Archangels who vow to avenge their fallen comrade. But with three commandments already in his possession, can Estarossa even be defeated? 

Opening the volume in to a huge battle means Volume 32 is all go from the start. Monspeet and Derieri have their own little showdown with Estarossa, and I have to say I have started to like the two of them. They realised that maybe humans aren't all bad, maybe they don't want to be all evil and amid all the blood and death and fighting we nearly had a cute moment with them....nearly. My poor heart was completely shattered by them, I have to be honest, but I'm excited at the prospect of Derieri teaming up with the Sins! 

I was also impressed with Elizabeth this volume. I've been impressed with her character arc and growth and this volume really showcases all of that, and drives it home that she's changed and she can hold her own and take care of herself to an extent. She can help in the fight instead of having to be protected by everyone. She isn't the ditsy girl she was before. 

Estarossa is quite impressive in this volume, in that he rocks up to the aftermath of our groups battle with the demons, which was excellent by the way, and immediately begins to smack talk the angels there. The confidence was impressive. Estarossa is a bit...warped when we first see him and he only gets more so. What I found interesting was that we get some background revealed on him, and it did have me empathising with him but he he just gets really, really creepy by the end of the volume. Half of me sympathises with the poor guy, the other half is creeped out by the fact he keeps referring to himself as Meliodas. 

I really didn't think I'd warm up to any of the angels but Sariel and Tarmiel had me rooting for them. They had a rough time up against Estarossa but we did get to see them really throw down. They also provide some interesting information and a bit of potential foreshadowing or rather an idea of what might happen with Margaret in the future. The story of they and their vessels had me finally thinking 'okay, you guys might not be so bad'. 

Volume 32 is nicely paced and we get a tonne of action in this volume courtesy of the large battle and the confrontation with Estarossa. While the initial fight scenes are more of an ensemble affair, the latter fight scenes showcase more of Sariel and Tarmiel. Alongside the action heavy scenes, we get a little bit of background filled in and some surprising developments for certain characters. We don't see Meliodas though except for very briefly in a flashback but once the cliffhanger ending is out of the way, we do get a couple of side stories to make up for it! 

Friday, 21 June 2019

Upcoming Releases: July!

June is nearing an end, and July is fast approaching! July will be quite the action packed month because not only have we got YALC for those of us who are going, we've also got some brilliant new releases gracing bookstore shelves! 
I've gathered a selection of the ones I'm the most excited about and think that you should be too! Let me know which July releases are on your TBR! 

Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia
2nd July

When a tragic accident takes the life of seventeen-year-old Raven Roth's foster mom--and Raven's memory--she moves to New Orleans to live with her foster mother's family and finish her senior year of high school.

Starting over isn't easy. Raven remembers how to solve math equations and make pasta, but she can't remember her favorite song or who she was before the accident. When strange things start happening--impossible things--Raven starts to think it might be better not to know who she was in her previous life.

But as she grows closer to her foster sister, Max, her new friends, and Tommy Torres, a guy who accepts her for who she is now, Raven has to decide if she's ready to face what's buried in the past...and the darkness building inside her.

I love Kami's Legion series and it's honestly so underrated and while I'm constantly stalking checking Kami's GoodReads page to see if there's going to be another book...I spotted that she's going to be giving us a brand new, DC related book. I watched Titans on Netflix and became completely obsessed, so obviously....I'm ridiculously excited for this! 

Pan's Labyrinth by Cornelia Funke &Guillermo del Toro
2nd July

Oscar winning writer-director Guillermo del Toro and New York Times bestselling author Cornelia Funke come together to transform del Toro’s hit movie Pan’s Labyrinth into an epic and dark fantasy novel for readers of all ages, complete with gorgeous and haunting illustrations.

This book is not for the faint of heart or weak in spirit. It’s not for skeptics who don’t believe in fairy tales and the powerful forces of good. It’s only for brave and intrepid souls like you, who will stare down evil in all its forms.

Inspired by the critically acclaimed film written and directed by Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro and reimagined by New York Times bestselling author Cornelia Funke, this haunting tale takes readers to a darkly magical and war-torn world filled with richly drawn characters like trickster fauns, murderous men, child-eating monsters, courageous rebels, and a long-lost princess hoping to be reunited with her family.

Perfect for fans of the movie and readers who are new to del Toro’s visionary work, this atmospheric and absorbing novel is a portal to another universe where there is no wall between the real and the imagined. A daring, unforgettable collaboration between two brilliant storytellers.

I love Cornelia's books so I'm incredibly excited by this collaboration and I can't wait to crack on with the ARC of it...but I'm kind of procrastinating from starting it because I know it's going to be awesome! 

Season of the Witch by Sarah Rees Brennan
4th July

It's the summer before her sixteenth birthday, and Sabrina Spellman knows her world is about to change. She's always studied magic and spells with her aunts, Hilda and Zelda. But she's also lived a normal mortal life -- attending Baxter High, hanging out with her friends Susie and Roz, and going to the movies with her boyfriend, Harvey Kinkle.

Now time is running out on her every day, normal world, and leaving behind Roz and Susie and Harvey is a lot harder than she thought it would be. Especially because Sabrina isn't sure how Harvey feels about her. Her cousin Ambrose suggests performing a spell to discover Harvey's true feelings. But when a mysterious wood spirit interferes, the spell backfires... in a big way.

Sabrina has always been attracted to the power of being a witch. But now she can't help wondering if that power is leading her down the wrong path. Will she choose to forsake the path of light and follow the path of night?

Our exclusive prequel novel will reveal a side of Sabrina not seen on the new NETFLIX show. What choice will Sabrina make... and will it be the right one?

I grew up watching the original Sabrina TV show so I wasn't sure how I'd get on with this new Netflix show but I got completely engrossed with it, it's dark and has such a grimly fun vibe to it! Not only are we getting a prequel book for it though but it's going to be written by Sarah Rees Brennan who is one of my ultimate favourite authors and I couldn't be more excited! 

The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson
9th July

In the tropical kingdom of Rhodaire, magical, elemental Crows are part of every aspect of life...until the Illucian empire invades, destroying everything.

That terrible night has thrown Princess Anthia into a deep depression. Her sister Caliza is busy running the kingdom after their mother's death, but all Thia can do is think of all she has lost.

But when Caliza is forced to agree to a marriage between Thia and the crown prince of Illucia, Thia is finally spurred into action. And after stumbling upon a hidden Crow egg in the rubble of a rookery, she and her sister devise a dangerous plan to hatch the egg in secret and get back what was taken from them.

I got an ARC of this in Fairy Loot and it's been staring at me, accusingly from my TBR shelf...I'm hoping to get to it in July because i'm intrigued by the whole...elemental, magical Crows! 

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim
9th July

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she'll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There's just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia's task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor's reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Pitched as Project Runway meets Mulan, this was an instant TBR add for me! Let alone once I actually read the synopsis and this is one of my anticipated reads! 

Teeth in the Mist by Dawn Kurtagich
11th July

Before the birth of time, a monk uncovers the Devil's Tongue and dares to speak it. The repercussions will be felt for generations...

Sixteen-year-old photography enthusiast Zoey has been fascinated by the haunted, burnt-out ruins of Medwyn Mill House for as long as she can remember--so she and her best friend, Poulton, run away from home to explore them. But are they really alone in the house? And who will know if something goes wrong?

In 1851, seventeen-year-old Roan arrives at the Mill House as a ward--one of three, all with something to hide from their new guardian. When Roan learns that she is connected to an ancient secret, she must escape the house before she is trapped forever.

1583. Hermione, a new young bride, accompanies her husband to the wilds of North Wales where he plans to build the largest water mill and mansion in the area. But rumors of unholy rituals lead to a tragic occurrence and she will need all her strength to defeat it.

Three women, centuries apart, drawn together by one Unholy Pact. A pact made by a man who, more than a thousand years later, may still be watching...

Dawn's book 'The Dead House' was completely brilliant, so when I spotted this on GoodReads I was already planning on adding it to my TBR, let alone when I investigated the book a bit more! My history loving self got a little bit giddy seeing '1851' and '1583', I can't lie! 

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
27th July

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own. 

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucat√°n to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.

Jazz Age? Mayan god of death? Inspired by Mexican Folklore? Sign me up! 

The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen
30th July

A future chieftain

Fie abides by one rule: look after your own. Her Crow caste of undertakers and mercy-killers takes more abuse than coin, but when they’re called to collect royal dead, she’s hoping they’ll find the payout of a lifetime.

A fugitive prince

When Crown Prince Jasimir turns out to have faked his death, Fie’s ready to cut her losses—and perhaps his throat. But he offers a wager that she can’t refuse: protect him from a ruthless queen, and he’ll protect the Crows when he reigns.

A too-cunning bodyguard

Hawk warrior Tavin has always put Jas’s life before his, magically assuming the prince’s appearance and shadowing his every step. But what happens when Tavin begins to want something to call his own? 

Honestly everything about this book sounds fantastic, undertakers, mercy killers, a fugitive prince...I am definitely intrigued! 

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Review: Gumiho: Wicked Fox

Gumiho: Wicked Fox 
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Advanced reading copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret--she's a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt.

But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead--her gumiho soul--in the process.

Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl--he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to humans. He's drawn to her anyway. 

With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous . . . forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon's. 

I had some really high expectations for this book, it's been on my anticipated reads list since last year and I kind of...wanted to start reading it but I was also kind of procrastinating from it because I was so excited for it, if that makes sense? I spent a lot of time staring at it and hesitantly going to pick it up and then putting it back down. I've been disappointed by a lot of my anticipated reads this year so I guess I was nervous? However, I really didn't need to be! 

Once I eventually cracked this I was immediately dropped in to night time Seoul from the first page and getting to know Miyoung, what she is, what she can do and what the rules are as well as meeting her ally in the form of a shaman. In short...I was living. I was basically engrossed from page one and you would have to pry this book from my hands to get me to sleep. I have never been more devastated that I couldn't binge read this in one go because believe me I would have but life and responsibilities rudely got in my way. 

Trust me though, your attention will be well and truly grabbed right from the first page, let alone the first chapter and you'll be ready to dive in to this world, get to know Miyoung better and settle down for an adventure. 

Miyoung is such a badass, but she's also very solitary and lowkey hostile to anyone that tries to get close to her, mostly because of how her mother raised her but she's not easily trusting. I liked Miyoung because she's so morally grey. She has to kill men to survive but she only goes for bad men and she does it to survive. She makes it painless for them when she really doesn't have to and she doesn't relish doing it either. I thought her struggle with wanting to survive but not wanting to hurt people just so she can was interesting to explore as we saw more of that struggle come about in the second half of the book although it broke my heart slightly that she didn't think her life was worth more than anyone else's. The thing is you can root for Miyoung, understand her and empathise with her, and we go on a journey with her in this book from doing what she has to do and feeling bad about trying to be better towards the end as she opens up to people more. I just found her an excellent main character, to be honest. 

Her helping hand in tracking down the bad men is Nara, she's a shaman who has the Sight so she can see ghosts. I'm going to be honest. I was lowkey suspicious of her throughout the entire book until I was highkey suspicious of her and then she just.....let's just say I was disappointed but not surprised. I was quite excited by the seeing ghosts element, it has to be said! 

On the male lead front we have Jihoon who thinks there's no point living if you aren't having fun and uses his dimples and good looks to get out of pretty much anything. However, there's more to him than the affable guy with the silver tongue that we first meet. It all hides the deep hurt he has from his past and his vulnerabilities and he made for another interesting main character with the struggles he goes through as well, but with Jihoon we explore abandonment a lot and I was really sympathetic to him and fully on his side and I thought his story arc with his mother, while not being 100% resolved and sunshine and rainbows because it's going to take time...did end quite beautifully. The thing is Jihoon, despite all that, is all positive and has everyones backs the rest of the time and I admired him for it but I liked that he also had his vulnerabilities to work through and that they're shown. My heart broke for him in the second part of the book it has to be said, he had so much to deal with and struggle through and he came out the other side and I guess what I'm trying to say is...he has a lot of different sides to him that we explore! 

Honestly both Jihoon and Miyoung deal with a lot and give us different sides of themselves to explore, but they both have different vulnerabilities to work through and I just enjoyed seeing them overcome them, and get through it. They're both relatable and they're characters you can empathise with and support. I really enjoyed the romance between the two of them, Miyoung's going from hate to love while Jihoon is going from friends to lovers, and on both fronts it felt very natural, and it was subtle along with totally cute. It built up slowly, like I said, Miyoung letting him in, becoming closer, bonding a little bit and becoming friends and then finally developing in to more and I loved that. It fit the plot and the pace of the story so well and didn't detract from everything else going on, but I also loved that they could lean on each other when it came to their struggles, which was only possible because the romance was timed so perfectly with their character development! 

Alongside our main cast, the supporting characters are equally as brilliant! We've got Somin, she was an awesome little badass! Changwan was cute too and I gotta say...I loved Junu as well. He's the kind of little sod character that I love as much as I want to slap them up the side of the head but I lived for him bonding with Miyoung and becoming a friend...sort of. 

The plot is just fantastic. Right from the first chapter I was hooked and also having the time of my life. We've got a hunt, we've got mythology and while we get a nice amount of information and background initially....I wanted more and was so ready to be hit with it all. Things were going so well with trying to solve Miyoung's problem, and watching her get close to Jihoon and let him in...but also Somin and Changwan too and I was screeching when she became friends with all of them because it was her first time having friends and people to have her back, so of course.....angst time. I feel like the plot was nicely laid out, with starting things off, introducing the characters and the relationship dynamics, having characters bonding and the character development while dropping little hints of the past among other things along combined with action and a fast pace, before things took a turn that I wasn't expecting. It was a surprise, and it was so nicely timed with the two MC's character development and romance development as it kind of upset the groove we'd settled in to with them and took the story in another interesting direction. 

The pace really ramps up towards the end with twist after twist, and then everything wraps up nicely and alls well that ends well. No. Think again. We get hit with a super creepy epilogue that promises more adventures with Miyoung and Jihoon, just when you thought it was all over! 

I completely loved the world building, Cho has Seoul rising up around you regardless of whether you've ever been there or watched a drama or a movie set there. She has you walking its streets with Miyoung so authentically you can visualise it in your minds eye and practically smell the city...specifically the food *stomach rumble*. Cho makes sure you're right there with the characters, no matter what, daily school life? Hanging at the restaurant? Wandering Seoul? You are there. I loved her writing, you get a lot in the way of description and background and so on without an excess of words so the prose is snappy and doesn't get bogged down while still creating a clear image. 

This book is own voices and Cho incorporates her heritage and culture in to this wonderfully. We have Miyoung watching dramas and real talk, she's not wrong when it comes to dramas and certain things that happen in dramas! There's also some k-drama style moments in this book that we've all come to know and love with the stuff at school, the rain ("oh look it's raining" CUE THE ANGST) and umbrellas, the good old "lost footing catch", the leads being separated and misunderstandings, and the almost kisses which literally make me screech so much in dramas let alone in this book which honestly? As I was reading, I could picture it as a K-Drama so clearly. Keep an eye out for the drama and k-pop references/easter eggs throughout too! 

Speaking of dramas I'd like to take this moment to thank them for helping to teach me Korean as I was merrily reading through this book, getting excited when I knew a Korean word and could pronounce it correctly or looking up words I didn't know in Naver Dictionary! The writing and the language used was familiar to me as a K-drama addict avid K-drama viewer, and was perfectly incorporated, so whether or not you're familiar with the language you'll be able to understand the meanings of the words used! My only word of warning for you is be prepared to get hungry reading this, not only does Cho deposit you in Seoul...she also tells you all about the food. My stomach may or may not have rumbled once or twice at a certain food description. *whines* And now I want banana milk. 

I lived for the interludes of folktales and mythology mixed in with history, otherwise known as my two biggest weaknesses. Each one is well timed, relevant to what's going on with the plot and leaves you craving more. I know a little Korean history, so I got excited for things I already knew like Hwarang and so on, but I got even more excited and intrigued by the tidbits I didn't know! If anyone can recommend me a good history or Korean mythology book let me know! 

Honestly this has been a really hard review to write because I kind of just want to mindlessly screech about this book and how awesome it is, and force everyone to read it but I need to form actual coherent words. I feel like this review really doesn't do it justice to be honest! 

Gumiho: Wicked Fox is engaging right up until the end, there's a cracking pace, it's got mythology, Shamans, history, realistic and believable characters, Gumiho, Dokkaebi (Goblins), a smidge of romance and so many twists! Not to mention the whole....blood feud, vengeance and betrayal thing! The writing, the world building, the descriptions...everything is so authentic, and Cho's writing really pulls you in to her world and makes it very, very hard to leave not least because the action and exhilaration never stop, it's excellent from start to finish. 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...