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. 

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Review: Aru Shah and the Song of Death

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

Aru is only just getting the hang of this whole Pandava thing when the Otherworld goes into full panic mode. The god of love's bow and arrow have gone missing, and the thief isn't playing Cupid. Instead, they're turning people into heartless fighting-machine zombies. If that weren't bad enough, somehow Aru gets framed as the thief. If she doesn't find the arrow by the next full moon, she'll be kicked out of the Otherworld. For good. 

But, for better or worse, she won't be going it alone. 

Along with her soul-sister, Mini, Aru will team up with Brynne, an ultra-strong girl who knows more than she lets on, and Aiden, the boy who lives across the street and is also hiding plenty of secrets. Together they'll battle demons, travel through a glittering and dangerous serpent realm, and discover that their enemy isn't at all who they expected. 

I loved the first book in this series because it was so much fun, and I loved getting to know all of the mythology and legends throughout it was just a super epic quest okay. This series is the perfect combination of humour, mythology and action and this new instalment doesn't disappoint. 

Oh Boo, how I've missed your snarky attitude...and I missed it even more seeing as we barely saw him this book! The plot doesn't hang about as we dive straight in with a zombie attack, Aru and Mini making use of their new training and kicking ass and we're immediately presented with a conundrum before embarking on our new quest. 

In the first book, we were introduced to the world, the characters, the mythology and so on while embarking on a quest. This book delves deeper in to everything, throws up some new surprises and of course the stakes are high because they're blamed for the theft and if they don't get the bow and arrows back...they're going to be booted out of the Otherworld. 

Aru...I love her okay. "Would I ever wear denim on denim?" she makes me wheeze. She and Mini as a team though...their banter...I just love them okay. But poor Aru struggles a bit in this book with jealousy and dealing with Brynne, not to mention being worried she isn't really a hero and will disappoint everyone and I just wanted to give her a big hug. Fair warning we don't see much of Mini in this book for a spoilery reason which I was kind of sad about but considering Aru got on the least well with Brynne it was necessary for the two of them to bond. 

Brynne is the newest Pandava and she doesn't really make the best impression. She attacks Aru and is kind of, sort of, a little bit rude. She came across quite arrogant and I was waiting patiently for her to reveal the heart of gold I figured she had hidden somewhere, but for the first part of the book? Bad Blood was she and Aru's theme song. The one time she rubbed me the wrong way was when she said any god would acknowledge their offspring if they were worthy, and it was a bit of a low blow and she does make a few uncalled for "I'm better than you" comments but not long after the made the former comment...well. If you take in to account her bangles it gives you some insight in to her psyche. It's not long before we get to see and understand why Brynne is so prickly and defensive, and then we get to see the real Brynne. She thinks with her stomach and she can really put it away! She also kinda reminded me of a character but I can't put my finger on it? Maybe Thor? Just with her attitude/personality, and the fact she's forever like "punch first ask questions later". Either way, we slowly peel back the prickly layer to her, like with a conker, and she warms up to Aru and we get to watch the two of them bond and their developing bond was excellently done! 

Aiden...what a nice surprise to see you here. I wasn't sure how I felt about him in the beginning because I couldn't remember how I felt about him from the previous book. But we get to know him well and truly in this book, including his little power and his LOTR nerdiness which was a giant plus in my opinion and was almost enough to counteract the minus of his hugely obvious, awkward, friend-zoning. I was so curious about his motivations, and sympathised with him so much when I realised what he was up to. 

Interestingly, there are some additional powers revealed for the girls along with some additional history and background to their past selves which come as a surprise to us as well as the characters and I feel like in the first book we saw the surface of everything and in this book we get to delve in deeper to the characters we've already met, while meeting the new ones and having the Pandavas fleshed out even more for us. 

Of course the thing I love most about this book, aside from the snark and the adventure, is all of the mythology. I'm a sucker for it, I always want to know more so I loved getting to see even more of it in this book! We get to meet the Naga, gods Agni and Kamaveda and bask in even more mythology and legends as we get their backstories and histories and I was just....basically completely in my element reading this! There's no such thing as too much mythology in my opinion and Chokshi weaves it in to her narrative perfectly, in different ways so you're not being told endless reams of information. She uses it to bring her world to life perfectly, and to intrigue you. Gotta say, Varuni and Varuna were hilarious, "I hate quality time" says every kid ever after being banned from something and told that as a consolation prize. 

The snark and humour were once again, on point. I spend so much time chuckling away at this book and of makes me face palm quite like Aru does sometimes! Not to mention all of the pop culture references! In particular I screeched at Mulan and Lord of the Rings and was generally having the time of my life. I just love how Chokshi combines excellently timed humour without taking away from the more serious and emotional moments we have and the inner struggles of Aru. 

There's a nice pace to the story, things move nicely, there's plenty of magic and vivid and mind blowing settings to be awed by. The writing once again pulls you in to the world and drags you along on the adventure too, taking us to some interesting, fun and most importantly, vividly described places. There's humour and movie references smoothly scattered throughout. Aru wrestles with her doubts about herself and comes out the other side with a weight lifted which was nice to see, Aru's always been a character you can relate to and empathise with. But I also feel like all three girls struggle with a moral issue in this book and have their perspectives changed a little...their eyes opened a little wider to how the world can really be...sometimes you have to make tough choices. They realise not everything is black and white, and mature a little in this book. I'm going to be interested to see if that's going to have a part to play in future struggles. 

Alongside bonding with Brynne, we also see them bond with Aiden who's now part of our squad and I hope we have him involved in the adventures in the future! Plus we get another new member of our group in Hira, our new shapeshifting friend who I'm excited to see more of! There's more magic and mythology, legends and gods and goddesses, and we have a nice amount of action to go with the adventure. All building up to a nice, epic battle which comes to a satisfying least until the ominous text message and the dream which paves the way for the third book and leaves you with a lingering taste of anticipation...and in my case hunger. Thanks Brynne. 

Manga: Hitorijime My Hero 3

Hitorijime My Hero Vol 3 
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Masahiro is starting a new school year, and with it comes all kinds of new experiences and new acquaintances. Now that his friends are in separate classes, though, the peace between the rowdy bunch gets even harder to keep! Seeking stability, Masahiro falls deeper into Kousuke as a comfort. But when the secret of their relationship gets out, does it spell doom for their love...? 

The secret is out in this volume, I did think they'd drag it out a bit longer but we get to have an interesting look at how both different friend groups react to the news. I did love getting to meet Kousuke's friends, Ayaka who's Hasekura's older sister, and her husband Houjou who's...interesting. Shall we say. He's just so extra and a bit...odd. Kousuke's friends provide a certain amount of intensity with their reaction to the news and poor old Masahiro has to endure a test. 

When it comes to Masahiro and his friends, there's a bit of a shake up with them as they start their second year and some of them are separated from the others. So we get to see a lot of Kensuke and Fukushige while they're at school, but they're apart from Kousuke and Hasekura now. Unfortunately there's some trouble in their friend group with Fukushige being super excited to be with them...but feeling like Masahiro cares more about hanging out with Kousuke than talking to them. 

Things do come to a head and kick off in this volume, while I thought it was sweet that his friends were supportive, there was one who wasn't and made a negative comment which I didn't see coming. It's the first really negative reaction Masahiro has had to their relationship. 

The thing I loved about this whole situation was Hasekura proving that while he's grouchy on the outside...he's a softy really by protecting Masahiro. It also allows us to see a different, less soft side to Kensuke because I've never seen him so furious. 

It's an interesting and realistic line for the story to take, and I found it interesting to see how it was portrayed and done although I don't think Fukushige's reasoning was that strong. Everything manages to resolve itself and give us another happy ending after a volume full of drama! 

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Review: Spies in St. Petersburg

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

With Sophie still missing in action after their explosive mission in Paris, Lil decides to take matters into her own hands. On a new mission for the Secret Service Bureau, can Lil find Sophie in misty, mysterious St. Petersburg? Can they uncover the identity of their true enemy and can they trust anyone—even the Bureau? It's time for Sophie and Lil to put their spy skills to the test. 

There's nothing like kicking off a book with Lil doing a bit of light thieving, am I right!? Honestly I loved getting Ruperts POV at the start as you wondered who the girl was (or in my case screeched LIL excitedly over and over) before diving in to Lils POV. She gives us a quick refresher on what happened last book, before filling us in on what she's been up to since. 

Lil's investigating the dragon paintings which we know allegedly lead to some kind of weapon. But she swiftly finds out that Sophie has gone missing in St. Petersburg and Lil isn't one to leave her friends in the lurch so she heads off to find her. Genuinely, I love Lil, but she and Joe were so cute together in this book and I was squealing so much but it had me nervous too because I felt like it's been building up to this and something was probably going to happen. 

As you guys might remember in Peril in Paris, while Lil was off on her mission we had more of a focus on Sophie and her POV but this book has switched that round and we focus a little more on Lil. At least in the beginning anyway, before joining Sophie in St. Petersburg. I love this series, it gets better and better and as much as I loved the main series...I am loving getting to travel around historical Europe with Sophie and Lil, especially as it's an interesting time to do so. 

Sophie's in St. Petersburg at a particularly interesting time, so not only do we get to see more of Nakamura which I was particularly happy about, and how they bonded on the rest of the race...but we  get to see what it would have been like in St. Petersburg in 1911 and it adds a sense of tension to Sophie's POVs. There's growing unrest among the people about how they're treated and how little their Tsar cares about them. We get to explore the different view points people of the time had as the family Sophie is staying with have different stances. One's a traditionalist, another is more critical and yet another is in favour of the monarchy being abolished and setting up a peoples government. Revolution is coming and it's 6 years out in this book, I believe. 

In short...I continue to love the historical accuracy and the historical tidbits Woodfine sprinkles her books with. She brings the time period to life and she brings the setting to life at the time with as much information as possible smoothly woven in. A little detail here or there, a historical tidbit smoothly slotted in there, all without making the prose too wordy. 

Lil continues to be awesome and I love her but Sophie...I loved getting to see Sophie become even better as a character. She's conquered some fears and seems even stronger and bolder in this book! I think one of the biggest shocks for me this book though was learning Carruthers has a first name...Samuel. I spent most of the book wanting to give him a slap upside the head, or wring his neck. He's so hard to like usually but we get to see a lot more of him this book and while he seemed suspicious to me at a couple of different points, I did end up warming up to him as we spent more time with him in the book. Now I'm actually quite excited to see him more in the next book, hopefully! 

I spent a lot of this book, however, being suspicious of the Chief and the SSB in general, they seemed less and less trustworthy and what's more, thanks to Nakamura, Sophie's eyes are opening a bit more to her own government and its intentions. Mainly that they may not seems as good intentioned as she thinks when it comes to the weapon. 

I was also surprised by the Count and his little redemption in this...I ended up quite liking him to be honest! Our little stint with the Circus gave us new characters Hana and Ravi as well, and I loved them but they also made me sad because I figured they'd only be a one off for this book. I so wanted them to join the agency! 

The only bad thing that I have to say about this book is that unfortunately we have to say goodbye to Nakamura, and I never thought I'd be sad to see the back of the Count but here we are. As is usual for this series, the pace builds up throughout the book, with clues and hints scattered throughout the newspaper covers and the narrative itself. The ending is explosive, we've had some interesting plot twists in this one particularly towards the end, but while everything is wrapped up nicely on Sophie and Lils side of things there is a horrifying cliffhanger back home in London and the article at the end of the book does nothing to alleviate my suspicions. Please Woodfine...say it ain't so otherwise we might have a falling out! Honestly I still can't believe that cliffhanger happened, it's too cruel! 

Spies in St. Petersburg is another excellent instalment in this series, focusing mainly on Sophie and Lil with some assistance from everyone. We're introduced to new places and new characters, we get to bask in some more history and there's plenty of excitement and heart stopping moments! It's just so odd to finish a book thoroughly satisfied but also internally screaming and needing the next book ASAP! 

Manga: Eden's Zero 3

Edens Zero Vol 3
Rating: 4/5 
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Space pirate Elsie gives Shiki the warship he needs to continue his quest to find Mother. Little did he know, the ship belonged to the Demon King Ziggy! Once aboard, Shiki and the crew meet Witch, one of the Demon King's Four Shining Stars, who welcomes Shiki as the new Demon King. When the group ends up at planet Blue Garden while chasing the remaining Shining Stars, they are swept up in a heinous plot to kidnap B-Cubers! However, in the shadows lurks a chaos beyond anything Shiki and his friends could have ever imagined...

Things are starting to heat up in this third volume of Edens Zero. We have some questions about Rebecca and her power and if she can use hers like Shiki which would presumably be addressed at some point in the future. The way has definitely been left open for her to get a power up though! Not long after settling in to the new ship however, and establishing themselves as a team, we get a new team member in the form of Witch. Witch is an android charged with maintenance and one of the Demon Kings Four Shining Stars. 

Thanks to Witch, the ship gets an upgrade and thus we have...Edens Zero. Yep the ship is called Edens Zero. Boom. It also appears Shiki is the new King. 

I have to say, this volume has a snappy pace. After settling in we're quickly given a mission and something to aim for. Namely gathering the other three Shining Stars so that they'll have a chance at making it past the border and the dragons in search of Mother. We also get introduced to Homura in this volume, who seems kind of shady as willing as she is to help. 

While our team is given a goal to aim for, we get sidetracked in this volume as we have to carry out a rescue mission which provides us plenty of action and excitement to keep this volume moving at a fast pace. Of course we do come face to face with another of the Shining Stars which presents us with a little bit of a mystery. 

I'm loving the bonds of friendship and the teamwork already between our crew members, and I love how Weisz just keeps on coming back. I'm also enjoying how things are picking up this volume. I feel like this volume the story is really getting in to its stride, and there's a more solid direction for the plot to head in as the storyline is given a focus when the characters are given a goal! We do get left on an interesting cliffhanger though as four characters are ready to throw down and our latest character has some suspicious motives. Things have certainly gotten interesting! 

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Manga: High School Prodigies Have it Easy Even in Another World 3

High School Prodigies Have it Easy Even in Another World Vol 3
Rating: 3/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Conquering the Findolph domain was child's play for the high school prodigies! Now on the path to all-out war with the empire, they embark upon their next feat, which is...starting their own religion?! To help save the people from the tyrannous empire, the prodigies aim to rapidly expand their sphere of influence by casting themselves as gods and angels while wielding their special skill sets for the common good. They're ready to make history by winning over the hearts and minds of the people, one believer at a time! 

It's Akatsuki's time to shine as they need him to help start up a religion, to help get the people invested in a revolution. With the added bonus of helping them look in to the legend of the seven heroes which will hopefully give them a clue about getting home. 

I did think we'd focus on that more than we did in this volume but we only see a little of it in the beginning. Then we watch them sort some other bits out, and get to meet the new Commander of their army and get to grips slightly with the two different kinds of spells that exist in this world. 

Volume 3 see's something developing between Tsukasa and Lyrule thanks to Masato's help with a little misunderstanding, this could potentially add in some romance and some angst as our prodigies seem to want to go home. 

Things don't really heat up until we move on to Elch and Shinobu, as thanks to them we get to head out and explore a new village which has an undercurrent of shadiness about it. It all seems fine on the surface but there's a sense of something...wrong about the whole place and then it gets quite dark quite fast. 

For the most part, volume 3 is quite slow and my interest wasn't really piqued until the shady village but what frustrated me with this volume is that once that plot thread with the village was getting good and providing some intrigue...we switched back to the others and it slowed down again. 

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