Monday, 30 September 2019

Manga: Fairy Tail 100 Years Quest

Fairy Tail 100 Years Quest Vol 1 
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Natsu, Lucy, Happy, Erza, and the whole FAIRY TAIL guild are back in action! And they've decided to tackle the "100 Years Quest"-- a job no one's dared take on since the founding of the oldest guild more than a century ago. A mysterious town, a baffling spirit, a ghastly new enemy...and a brand new continent to explore. When you're with real friends, the adventures never stop! 

It's baaaaaackk! I was so sad when Fairy Tail ended, but it's not been over for long and we've already got a sequel, and an exciting one at that! I got shivers at the very first page of this volume with the whole "the first guild is born" page, I was immediately like "okay, I need to know more right now" and this volume quickly delivers for us. 

While we initially start off at the Guild, meeting a new Fairy Tail member by the name of Touka, who's kind of like Juvia...but with Natsu, we're soon off with Team Natsu on the 100 Years Quest that's never before been completed..hence 100 Years Quest. What I loved about this volume, aside from being back with the characters we know and love, was that it allows us to explore more of the world of Fairy Tail as we journey to a new continent. Plus we get to visit the first ever wizard's guild Magia Dragon and learn a little about it. I have to say...I'm in love with their guild's an actual castle, and I want it! The Guild Master is also pretty...interesting, and introduces us to a new type of dragon slayer magic, which I'm curious about. 

I've been curious about this 100 Years Quest ever since it was first mentioned, so I couldn't wait to see what it was all about and it definitely took me by surprise, but has left me feeling really excited. It's taking us to new territory, we've got an entire new continent to explore and different towns and cities, we're going to be discovering new types of magic, meeting new characters both good and bad as well as Guilds, and we're going to be getting to see more dragons and dragon slayer magic too! 

Alongside all of that, we're getting little interludes back to Magnolia, so we do get to see all of the others, and thanks to Jellal we get to check in with some of our other favourites as well! Juvia and Touka bicker a lot and I kind of can't wait for Natsu to return because I feel like it's going to be hilarious! But Touka seems a bit...shady and Gajeel seems quite suspicious after she mentions a certain person. So while Team Natsu are off on their quest, Gajeel turns detective with Juvia soon helping him, and they start to dig in to Touka and her background. I do really love it when Juvia and Gajeel work together or when we get to see them interact with each other and see their friendship as we don't get it often. However, it also seems like Jellal is on the hunt for Touka as well, so we've got the mystery of Touka and what the deal is with her, and the mystery presented by the 100 Years Quest. 

This volume throws us back in to the world of Fairy Tail with all the humour and chaos that we know and love. It also starts things moving quickly and provides plenty of intriguing hints as to what's to come including a reunion for Lucy that I'm personally really hopeful and excited about! Not to mention the Quest itself which is better than I could have imagined. There's new creatures and places to see, new characters to meet and I laughed plenty of times making my way through this well as feeling quite at home, it has to be said. 

There's plenty of twists and turns, things have been introduced to us and set up nicely within the first volume, giving us plenty to look forward to from the story in the coming volumes. I have to say, this was everything I was hoping for and more, and I feel like it's going back to the more carefree, fun Fairy Tail, with more adventure/quest vibes to it because obviously towards the end of Fairy Tail things got very tense and serious. 

Friday, 27 September 2019

Manga: Love in Focus 3

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

Swept along by Kei's suggestion to give dating a try, Mako struggles to see where she really fits in. Meanwhile, Mitsuru has become distant, and in her attempts to get back the friendship they had, Mako discovers his hidden past. Mako, Kei, and Mitsuru now have to confront their own feelings, and they might get a little lost before they find their true answers... 

The final volume is here at last, bringing this quick little series to an end! I can't say I was Kei's biggest fan before, but I didn't agree with his behaviour in this volume I have to say. He basically pushed her in to dating him and I was side eyeing him a lot...but then I've always had a soft spot for Amemura in each volume so far! 

Obviously, that decision of Kei's brings the drama this volume and Amemura understandably distances himself from her, but more importantly when it comes to him, we get to dive in to his past once again. I liked getting to understand him a little more, and why he is the way he is, he's quite easy to sympathise with and relate to. I also feel like we came to understand and get to know him a lot better than Kei which might be why I was never really team Kei at all. I never had a moment when I was torn between who Mako should end up with, if I'm honest. 

What was a nice aspect to this volume, was Amemura talking to both Mako and Kei about his past. I expected him to talk to Mako, but Kei was a surprise, they also gave him good advice that presented two different paths for him to take. Kei and Mako's advice and options for him both really fit their characters as well, I have to say. 

There's a little bit of drama and tension in this volume, and there's some humour too before everything comes to a satisfying end with each storyline being wrapped up, both the romance and Amemura's past! While not my favourite manga series ever, and while being a little predictable in places, it was still an easy, fun read! 

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Manga: Seven Deadly Sins 33

The Seven Deadly Sins Vol 33 
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

After Estarossa escapes with Elizabeth, The Seven Deadly Sins and Derieri follow after him in hopes of saving their friend and putting an end to the overpowered Commandment once and for all. Meanwhile, Ban finally reunites with Meliodas in Purgatory, and the two set forth in search of an exit back to the land of the living. Their search brings them to the Demon Lord himself, and while both parties are locked in their respective battles, Meliodas and The Sins learn a startling truth that connects Estarossa with Mael the Archangel. 

We continue to get to know Estarossa in this volume, and it's quite hard not to sympathise with him to an extent no matter how much you might dislike him. We also get to take a look at the relationship and dynamics between Zeldris and Meliodas and how things became...strained between them, which is something I've been curious about and much like with Estarossa, I found myself sympathising with Zeldris a little bit too! 

A good chunk of this volume is spent in Purgatory with Meliodas and Ban trying to get out of it. I'm loving the fact that my brotp has been reunited and Ban is having fun, shall we say? I've quite missed Ban as we haven't seen him all that much recently, and I've missed Meliodas and Ban's friendship. I actually found them oddly heartwarming in this volume amidst all the action they provide for us. 

Of course King and Co also provide a nice amount of action as they have a battle of their own to save Elizabeth and there's a very interesting twist involved as well! Just when I thought this series couldn't surprise me anymore it threw out something else! 

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Manga: Waiting For Spring 11

Waiting For Spring Vol 11
Rating: 3/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

It's time for the New Team Tournament, and the stakes are high. If Seiryo wins, the basketball team's ban on dating will be lifted, and if Mitsuki agrees, she and Towa can finally be an official couple. But then, Towa has a dream that he misses a crucial shot and loses to Aya... Could it be an omen?! 

Volume 11 starts off quickly, we've got New Years and Winter Break speeding by and then we're straight in with the first of three games that the boys need to win! We have quite an action packed volume thanks to the sports element, and we breeze through the tournament before pulling through in to the finals league and the showdown we've all been waiting for...Towa and Aya going head to head and the Champion being decided. 

Alongside that we have some little interludes at the cafe and with Sudo...I do feel for her, but it's also kind of funny because as much as she wants to ask questions and dislike Mitsuki, Mitsuki is just too nice! I have to say I was quite proud of Ryuji this volume for having the balls to ask Nana himself, he's come a long way, bless him! 

I still haven't quite warmed up to Aya, he just keeps popping up at the most annoying moments and it always makes me screech. However, I do like the way that Towa has handled this whole thing, particularly in this volume and despite his own feelings he gives Mitsuki space to figure things out for herself. 

There are a lot of important moments in this volume, there's realisation of feelings in some cases, important games and then the most important game of all which is suitably tense, nail biting and dramatic! Of course we're left on a cliffhanger, once again making me screech, but this is an overall intense volume that contributes some important scenes!  

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Manga: I'm Standing on a Million Lives 2

I'm Standing On A Million Lives Vol 2
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Yotsuya, Shindo, and Hakozaki continue making their way towards Ladodorv, and come across a platoon of soldiers heading the same way. Believing their meeting is part of their quest, Yotsuya and company joins forces with them. But when the very people they thought they were supposed to help turn their backs on them, Yotsuya and his party find themselves in a grim situation--with time to complete their quest running out...

The fast pace this series established with volume one remains as we dive straight in from where we left off at the end of the previous volume, and zip through a few scenes before moving the plot on. Interestingly we get to learn more about Kusue as we get her point of view for a little while and it's intriguing to see how she thinks, as well as her determination to improve her skills. 

Things get a little complicated this volume as we come across what could be the cargo needed for their quest...but is it really? There's a few options that could fulfil the quest but which is the right one? The days are ticking down so there's a sense of tension, and things get quite deep at one point as we talk about dictatorships and religion briefly. 

I liked the change of pace to the dungeon setting and trying to navigate out of it, I also liked that the same fast pace was kept up and only relevant or important events were shown. It kept the story moving forward and stopped my interest from wavering. We even get some puzzle solving/Indiana Jones sort of things to keep us amused as well, and on the edge of our seats. 

There's still plenty of action, and it was nice to Shindo get her time to shine as well! We're also left with some scheming and an ending that leaves you anticipating the next volume! 

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Review: Tunnel of Bones

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

Trouble is haunting Cassidy Blake . . . even more than usual.

She (plus her ghost best friend, Jacob, of course) are in Paris, where Cass's parents are filming their TV show about the world's most haunted cities. Sure, it's fun eating croissants and seeing the Eiffel Tower, but there's true ghostly danger lurking beneath Paris, in the creepy underground Catacombs.

When Cass accidentally awakens a frighteningly strong spirit, she must rely on her still-growing skills as a ghosthunter -- and turn to friends both old and new to help her unravel a mystery. But time is running out, and the spirit is only growing stronger.

And if Cass fails, the force she's unleashed could haunt the city forever.

I'm not going to lie to you all, I enjoyed this one even more than City of Ghosts. As much as I enjoyed City of Ghost's the long explanation about chips annoyed me and I was disappointed to see so few Scottish characters as well as so little of Lara, along with the other things Victoria was quite vague about, and while I enjoyed the book it had a few...niggles. 

When it comes to Tunnel of Bones, I was extra excited to read it after my visit to Paris last year and get to see Cass journey to places I'd seen and been and she even used the Metro which brought the whole experience flooding back to me! Of course, I didn't get to go in to the Catacombs so I enjoyed reading about them, and the urge to go back and visit what I didn't get to is even stronger than before.  

Unlike City of Ghosts, we actually had French characters in the form of Pauline, the camera crew and Adele who was a lot of fun as well, and there wasn't quite the faff with wording. The settings are once again vividly written, and like I said, it brought my whole trip flooding back and I enjoyed getting some historical tidbits and ghost stories to go with the locations. But we have such a different vibe and atmosphere than we did in the previous book set in Edinburgh, giving the two different cities very different feels which is obviously true to real life. Of course we dip in and out of history a time or two in equally as vivid and atmospheric moments as Cass delves in to the Veil, bringing that particular moment in time to life brilliantly. 

There's a nice pace as we're immediately in Paris from the start, then we get straight down to things with a trip in to the Veil before filming starts and we're exploring the well known spots of Paris...and being presented with this books mystery. This book is definitely a lot creepier than the first book, it's chilling and somewhat menacing, and the mystery we have in this one is a different breed than the previous book. We have to dig for information on the star ghost of this book, using what few clues we have which I really enjoyed, as sad as it was. 

While Cassidy has become a little stronger so has Jacob and he has...bursts that aren't quite like him. Lara's words are clearly weighing on him and perhaps hinting at the direction his character is going to take, it all felt a little foreboding. I think it's clear he's going to have an inner battle not to turn into the thing we see in this book, perhaps? But what I love about Jacob is that Cassidy has a tendency to just jump in and do things, and Jacob reigns her in whenever she wants to do something foolish, they make a good team. 

We get to expand and develop the ghost lore a bit more as we see a new type which I loved because I was so fascinated by it in the first book, we also get to delve into the characters a little bit more. I feel like Jacob has become more of a fleshed out character this book, and Cassidy has become a bit more sensible with her power, although I was disappointed that we didn't see more of Lara. 

Tunnel of Bones was nice and creepy at points, always atmospheric and slightly sad too in this case. Exploring a new city and seeing a new type of ghost to add to the ghost lore was interesting and it all wrapped up nicely with a little thread of mystery to presumably carry us over to the next book, where we're heading to New Orleans! 

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Review: Sanctuary

Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 
The small Connecticut town of Sanctuary is rocked by the death of its star quarterback. 
Daniel's death looked like an accident, but everyone knows his ex-girlfriend Harper is the daughter of a witch - and she was there when he died. 
Then the rumours start. When Harper insists Dan was guilty of a terrible act, the town turns on her. So was his death an accident, revenge - or something even darker? 
As accusations fly and secrets are revealed, paranoia grips the town, culminating in a trial that the whole world is watching . . .
You all are well aware of how much I love Vic's books so I've been anticipating Sanctuary a lot, stalking the GoodReads page for any information about it and then practically going feral at the Gollancz Blogger Evening whenVic told us all about the book, her inspirations for it and so on. I was ready for this...but still not entirely sure what to expect, and I was surprised multiple times throughout the book. 
With an opening chapter that grabs your attention, you'll soon find yourself hooked in to this as the plot builds up alongside things within the town building up and coming to a boiling point. It's easy to find yourself lost in this book as you visit the town of Sanctuary and become hooked on the lives of the townspeople, let alone the murder mystery itself. There's never a dull moment, things never slow down and even in the quieter moments of the book there's something...insidious creeping in to the narratives, something dark starting to stir. 
The POV's for this book surprised me, as we didn't get Harper's which made things all the more intriguing, and meant that I wasn't entirely sure how I felt about her for a part of the book. You're left to wonder...did she really do it? And if so..why? With a few things mentioned about her that definitely leave you unsure as to her guilt, until of course a certain reveal. My heart broke for her, to be honest, even more so as she's being vilified for what happened. 
Sarah is one of our main POV's, she's Harper's mother and the magic she uses is certainly interesting. She knows a lot about the people of the town because they're all more than happy to go to her for help with their problems and she's very serious about not using her power to hurt people, even if she does seem to stray in to a grey area a time or two when it comes to helping people. 
Maggie was my favourite character, she's our investigator. Something was so clearly up with her from the start and I had money on the fact she'd been made to forget something...but what. Which was another little mystery alongside the main one. What I appreciated, was that she was willing to listen to what everyone had to say...but not necessarily take it face value, and she was so compassionate when it came to Harper and wanting to help her. She did her utmost to help Harper and Sarah, and to fight in their corner and I loved her character. I also kinda loved Remy too who was absolutely hilarious and had me snorting with laughter! 
Our final POV is Abigail, Daniel's mother. Don't get me wrong, I really felt for her. She's left her career behind, her husband is more interested in his work than anything else and now she's just lost her child. Her grief about his death was so raw and vivid, but while I understood her and the way her mind was working, she eventually lost my support when she started her witch hunt against Harper and started her little campaign. She truly believed she was the hero, and ignored the fact that Sarah has done nothing but help her whenever she needed it. I could understand her...but she still frustrated me. 
As is usual when it comes to Vic's books, the writing is so very clever. We get Harper's POV in the beginning...and then not again until the end. Then for the entirety of the book we get the adults POV's, and they're three very different ones at that. You have the cool, level headed detective who's impartial although you could say she's a little bit biased towards Harper at one point, then you have two different ends of the scale. Sarah who's trying to defend and protect her child and prove her innocence, and the rage and grief of Abigail and her vendetta, and of course the characters are so wonderfully written that even if you don't agree with the characters and their can understand where it's coming from. I also enjoyed the police interviews, news articles and so on that were also included as part of the storytelling. 
There's also a lot of diversity seamlessly included throughout this book, with a non-binary character (something I very rarely see and there was a nicely handled conversation on pronouns included), f/f and m/m couples, and black and POC couples and I enjoyed getting to see such a nice range of diversity included, especially as some of them were in powerful positions. 
The world of the book had me in mind of Pretty Little Liars, it's a nice town, everyone knows each other, everyone's friendly and it seems all quaint and cheerful on the outside...but once you scratch the surface you start to see the darkness within, along with all the drama and scandals, some of which are brought to light thanks to the murder mystery. I feel like the town becomes more and more tainted as the book goes on and the insidious hate created by Abigail starts to take over, thoroughly destroying its image as a 'sanctuary'. 
The world has been subtly twisted to allow for magic to exist, being written in to laws and so on and I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the magic in this book. There's no hand waving, magic powers kind of thing, it's a lot more natural and earth based with the rituals and the ingredients used and it was interesting to read about, along with its limitations and various rules. 
Vic mentioned at the Blogger evening that some of her inspirations for this was the Women's March as well as the Brett Kavanaugh Case, and she talked about the Me Too movement along with the question is an accusation enough? I feel like Vic did an excellent job of bringing this real world issue to the world of her book and examining it. I felt so incredibly sad reading this, that Harper had suffered so much yet people turned on her for being brave enough to speak out about it, and found it easier to do so than believe her. Also it was actually quite scary to see how easy it was for the entire town to just turn on she and Sarah because of their fear of magic. It was easy to see how such things came about in the Dark Ages, but to see how swiftly it happened in the book, with just a few words here and there and a heavy dose of was terrifying. 
Everything unfolds nicely, and it draws you in with high levels of intrigue and the everyday drama and gossip of the town. There's the mystery of the murder, and the mystery of what happened that night a few years ago...not to mention some mentioned activities of Daniel that already had me side eyeing him and feeling somewhat...queasy when it came to him because I knew. Things step up even more when Harper makes her accusation and things really spark off in a dangerous way. I have to be honest, I got pretty mad on her behalf as I was reading, I was on her side, I believed her and I know that no-one wants to get a hard, nasty truth about their kid but it was just...frustrating to see her trauma brushed to the side. 
Sanctuary was so very easy for me to binge read, it reaches a particular point when you just can't put it down and it's one hell of a powerful read that leaves you thinking even once you've put it down. The writing lures you in, as does the subtly twisted history and world, but the issues we see in this book are very, uncomfortably real. There might be magic thrown in but it's still problems and issues from the real world that are present and Vic shines a light on them in this book with her excellent writing, along with well crafted characters that you can understand even if you don't agree with them or like them. 
The themes are dark, with rape, sexual assault of a minor, substance abuse and more, there are a lot of hard issues tackled in this book and we get a hard look at what happens when herd mentality takes over in this book...and it's horrifying to watch. This is by no means a YA book, it is an adult book, and while it is dark in it's themes, it's also very powerful and I feel like there's plenty of much needed conversations to be started because of this book and the issues that are highlighted.
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