Friday, 20 December 2019

Manga: I'm Standing On A Million Lives 3

I'm Standing on a Million Lives Vol 3 
Rating: 3/5 
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

The ever-calculating Yotsuya carries out an unheroic act of vengeance, and the players successfully manage to complete their quest. Their victory allows them to ask the Game Master a single question, and the truth about the world they've been sent to is revealed. But when he learns that this strange new world isn't as virtual as he believed, Yotsuya is forced to confront the consequences of his actions...

The volume opens with the moment we've all been waiting for...Yotsuya and Tokitate carry out Yotsuya's plot of vengeance against their betrayers, and he's not particularly bothered that he's going to have to level down to achieve it. I've got to say, it was a wonderful moment to see and perfectly executed. 

However, their clash with the soldiers of Deokk draws the attention of Deokk's monarch. It turns out the heroes are supposed to be neutral, and now they're worried that Kamilto and his men have drawn their ire to more than just them which adds a sense of the ominous to the volume although considering the time twist I'm not sure whether we'll see this play out at all...or if it's something that'll be lying in wait for upcoming volumes. 

While one quest may be completed there's another still to tick off but time is running out, as the volume reminds us more than once with the repetition of the time left to complete said quest. This serves to ramp up the tension in the volume as we're left to wonder if they'll complete it on time. Not to mention we have the snow storm messing with their revival and bringing it down to the wire. 

I still don't particularly like Tokitate, she's the only one that I don't really like to be honest. But she manages to grow a little bit of a backbone to carry on with the quest and she causes us to meet the mysterious Fatina. It remains to be seen whether or not we'll be seeing her again in coming volumes, but I suspect the chances of it are high! I'm excited to see more of Fatina and find out what her deal is, as I have a few suspicions about her and a lot of questions. 

While we have a new mystery in the form of Fatina, an old mystery is solved as we finally get some more answers about the world and how it works. I haven't quite decided if I'm surprised or not about the answer, but the shock reveal provokes some interesting reactions and thoughts in Yotsuya which aren't necessarily the ones I was expecting. I was surprised to see him freak out a little bit over his actions, I wasn't sure he'd be even remotely effected, if I'm an honest. But of course he goes right back to being his usual self and I'm enjoying how morally grey he is. 

Getting some answers not only means we get to start a new round but it means we get to meet the newest player. His name is Keita and our first meeting with him is..wild to say the least. As if we didn't have enough tension and danger in these volumes, he throws us a little bit more! I'm yet to decide if I like him, so we'll see how the next volume goes! 

The beginning of a new round brings some slight changes. Revival time goes up as is to be expected, but there's a new feature for our group to travel. The beginning of the new round brings us a few surprises as well as a new quest, and the implications for future rounds are intriguing. We do take a little interlude to get the lowdown on what's been going on since they last visited, and again, there's more threads of plot that could come in to play more fully in future volumes. 

The new quest is an interesting one that I can't wait to dive in to more fully in the next volume, but there's a sinister, snakey guy with the potential to ruin it all! As one quest wraps up and we embark on a new one, the pace for this series shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. Each quest is a decent length, giving enough time to get everything done, help us get to know the characters further and the new characters being brought in without having the story drag on for too long and we don't waste any time before moving on to the next one! 

Thursday, 19 December 2019

Manga: Boarding School Juliet 8

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

The annual Dahlia Academy School Festival is in full swing, and the day Inuzuka has been waiting for has finally arrived: he gets to go on a festival-patrolling date with his beloved Persia! But for these star-crossed lovers, nothing is ever as easy as it seems, and when an unexpected visitor suddenly arrives for Persia, the two are reminded of just how forbidden their secret relationship is...
Can Inuzuka's and Persia's love prevail, or is the idea of a White Cat and a Black Doggy living happily ever after nothing more than a fool's errand? 
You might recall the misunderstanding that was taking place at the end of the last volume, leaving us all on a cliffhanger? Well we open this volume with the fall out from that and we finally get some answers as to why Maru is so obsessed with Julio! I've got to say, I've liked slowly getting to see more of Maru, and slowly getting to see a slightly softer side to him than the image he portrays. 
There's plenty of hilarity to the volume as we experience the final day of the school festival and get to sample the fun that it has to offer before it starts to draw to a close. The arrival of Persia's mother makes it all the more dramatic and makes for a fun surprise, at least for us! It was interesting to me, to see what Persia's mother is like, but she has an ominous story to tell. The story of a previous Black Doggy/White Cat couple and the consequences of their relationship shakes Romio and Persia, but may also be a little bit of foreshadowing for coming volumes. 
This volume introduces us to new character Kogi, Hasuki's younger brother. I'm not going to lie, he reminded me a little bit of Edward Elric what with how salty he is about his height. He's adorably protective of his older sister, however, and gives Inuzuka a bit of a wake up call as to how his friendship with her has deteriorated a little bit and as to how she feels about things. 
We have a smidge of ridiculousness thrown in to this volume too, relatable as Persia is in the midst of it. Things take an interesting and exciting turn towards the end of the volume as winter break rolls around. Persia has decided to travel with Inuzuka to his home, and she gets to experience Touwa meaning that we get to do the same! It's quite exciting to see a setting other than the school, and to get to experience one of the countries involved in this rivalry. But Persia going with him adds a sense of jeopardy to the whole trip as we wait to see if they can pull it off or if she'll be discovered! Alongside all of that we get to meet a few more new characters as we meet and get to know Inuzuka's family! I've been curious about their families, and it's a nice touch to do both introductions in the same volume! 

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Manga: Hitorijime My Hero 5

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

Kousuke surprises Masahiro by inviting him out on a spur-of-the-moment road trip. And when they arrive at the hot springs, things get pretty steamy...! As Masahiro gets to know how deep Kousuke's love is for him, he also begins to wonder about what he's missing, as Kousuke's mysterious past tugs at him. Meanwhile, dark clouds loom over Asaya and Kensuke's relationship... 

What a volume this is, the first thing I'm going to say is...beware the ending of this volume because it's intense! 

Not long in to the volume we have Masahiro and Kousuke talk things out after the events of the past volume and they're back on track in no time...or are they? 

While the pair of them head off on a little trip before Kousuke gets busy with work, Masahiro is still brooding over Natsuo and his relationship with Kousuke. But they're not the only ones with trouble on the horizon. Kensuke and Asaya have been our one couple that hasn't had any trouble just yet. They're cute, and adorable...until now. This volume brings some trouble for the pair of them which leads to an interesting situation. 

This volume has the drama slowly building up. On the surface, everything's fine but Natsuo and his past with Kousuke is festering away at Masahiro and it's making things a little awkward on their trip. Both couples relationship problems come to a head at the hot springs and the end of the final chapter had me screeching. Just as things are getting good, just as I was like 'omg omg omg omg' the volume came to a close leaving us on one hell of a cliffhanger and now we have to wait for the next volume. 

Monday, 16 December 2019

Manga: In/Spectre 10

In/Spectre Vol 10 
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

It's been nearly a year, and Kotoko has yet to find Rikka Sakuragawa. Little does she know that Rikka has recently moved into a nice little apartment that came at a very affordable price...because it's thought to be cursed! What is causing the series of suicides in her new home? And can Kotoko catch her before she goes on the run again? 
The opening for this particular volume is somewhat ominous, yet it also lends a sense of curiosity and anticipation to the volume as we flashback in time for the rest of the volume to find out how our characters reached the place they're at for the start of the volume. 
The hunt is on for Rikka, Kuro's cousin, and we get a little bit of insight in to Kotoko's relationship with her. Interestingly we do get Rikka's POV for a little while, and it was intriguing to see things from her side and to see how she ticks a little bit. Thanks to Rikka we get up close and personal with a 'cursed' apartment, providing us with some shocking moments that merge smoothly in to hilarious ones. 
Once we do rejoin Kotoko and Kuro, there's plenty more of Kotoko releasing her inner Sherlock Holmes with a supernatural twist as usual. What I have been noticing in more recent volumes, this one in particular highlighted it for me, is that as much as Kuro says mean things and is quite gruff...we're seeing more and more little gestures from him and some sweet small moments between the two of them. 
This volume allows us to delve more in to Kotoko's past as we see the president of the mystery club, Manabu, once again courtesy of his uncle digging around. So we get to venture back to her high school days before taking on a new case. The first half of the volume is essentially setting the scene and building up to the next big mystery that Kotoko will face, and the next clash for she and Rikka. Said mystery is a good old fashioned murder mystery, with three heirs having to prove how someone committed a murder which should be interesting to watch play out and I can't wait to see how Kotoko handles this though as the judge it places her in a difficult position. 
There's a lot of groundwork laid in this volume, but it's still got its fantastic twists that keep you on the edge of your seat and have you gasping in shock when something's revealed. There's also still plenty of Sherlockian deducing from Kotoko and a nice progression with she and Kuro! Volume 10 is another strong volume that starts to lay the foundations for the next volume! 

Manga: Royal Tutor 12

The Royal Tutor Vol 12
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review!

When Leonhard receives an invitation to the Kingdom of Fonseine from Prince Claude, the princes set off on their first big trip together. Will this trip give Leonhard the opportunity to put his new language skills to some good use, or will he sink to his usual aggression? 

Kai makes his grand return in this volume, and it was nice to see the brothers together once again! But I particularly liked getting to see some more interaction and banter between Heine and Viktor, as well as getting to know Viktor a little bit better as we get to see what it was like for him when he became a King so young. 

It was nice to get to see Claude again as well, as the Princes take a little trip. There's more signs of how far Leonhard has come, as it seems he's been studying. It even pays off as Heine gives him the responsibility of translating on their trip, and I have to say...I was incredibly proud of Leonhard! He's had some brilliant character development. 

I enjoyed the interactions between Claude and the Princes, he's kind of adorable, so much so that Leonhard can't say his piece to him! But poor Claude is worried the Princes won't be friends with him if he doesn't end up marrying Adele, and that they're only being nice to him because of that, bless him. It was a realistic worry, but it also made me feel for him so badly. I'm looking forward to hopefully getting to see more of him. 

Because we're visiting Claude, that means that we get to explore a new part of the world of this series which is something I'm always excited for! In this case, we're exploring Fonsein and it's city of Fleur. You can see hints of Paris in it, and it was exciting to get to see a new setting. 

We've already seen Leonhard's blossoming friendship with Claude, so it was nice to see that go further as they overcome their troubles about the betrothal and their worries about it. It was also nice to see the other Princes bonding with him and I'm hopeful for more interactions amongst them. 

Of course Licht doesn't take part in the trip, we do get to spend some time with him as we have a bit of a mystery to solve. Licht and his boss are having a bit of a problem at the cafe, with a few 'pranks' being pulled on them. Which of course coincides with the opening of the second cafe location. While we see an old face in the form of Claude, we get a new face this volume as well as we meet Herman who's going to be the manager of the second shop. 

Viktor isn't the only character that we get some more insight in to this volume either, we get a chance to know Licht's boss a little better too. How he came to own the cafe, the struggles he had with starting it up and so on. I like the fact that we get to know some of the side characters just as well as our main characters throughout this series, particularly those that we do get to see quite often! 

While this volume is fairly light hearted with lots of hilarity courtesy of Viktor and the Princes, and is relaxed for the most part, towards the end it takes a turn for the serious as Maximilian ends up hurt as he has to protect Licht. The vendetta against the Cafe Mitter Meyer is upped from the harmless annoyances we'd seen initially, to something a little more serious on the eve of the second locations grand opening which adds a splash of action, intrigue and danger to the volume. 

With both cafes closed until further notice, the boss and Herman set out to do a little private investigation in to the culprit. Excluded from the investigation because of his Princely status, Licht isn't particularly happy. He just wants to help, and we end the volume on a rather tense note as he vents his frustrations about the Kingdom and its social stations meaning the next volume should have a very interesting opening and we have an investigation to look forward to! 

Friday, 13 December 2019

Manga: Seven Deadly Sins 34

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

Estarossa continues his path of destruction with the power of three Commandments and his sights set on more. Against such terrifying strength, both his enemies and former allies realize their only chance of defeating him is to work together. Will their strategy be enough, or does the secret to victory lie with Estarossa's connection to Gowther?
Meanwhile, in Purgatory, Meliodas and Ban resolve to escape and fight their way back to the women they love. With the help of Wild, they gear up for their ultimate stand against the Demon King! 
We have an action packed volume once again, with the action taking place right from the start as our group try to reclaim the Commandments within Estarossa. Elizabeth and Co have quite the fight ahead of them, and it only gets worse as Estarossa transforms in to an even more intimidating foe. 
The volume's full of action as everyone has to throw out some new moves in order to try and defeat him, meaning this volume has a fair bit of tension to it as well as we wait to see whether or not they succeed. Alongside all of that, there's also a little bit of heartbreak in there too for some characters. 
Meanwhile, King undergoes an interesting transformation and I'm excited to see what this is going to mean for him in terms of his powers and what he can do. While we do get a look at one of his new interesting powers, I'm intrigued to see what else he's capable of now. Gowther also gets his moment to shine, which was nice to see. I was excited to get some shards of his past and some more background to he and his creation, as it's an interesting one. 
Of course, while one storyline wraps up, we rejoin Meliodas and Ban and their fight with the Demon Lord. Quite a bit of time has passed for them as they battle him repeatedly, which means we have a bit of a power upgrade. Like King, Ban's powers have morphed and changed and that's one thing about this series. Characters and their powers don't remain stagnant, they develop at a good pace to fit the story and morph at an appropriate time to fit the story.
This particular volume has no dull moments, it's action through and through with characters powers developing more for the next phase of the story and Meliodas and Ban making a return at the end of the volume ready for what's next!

Manga: Skull-Face Bookseller Honda-San

Skull-Face Bookseller Honda-San Vol 1
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Honda might be a skeleton, but that's nowhere near as crazy as working in a Japanese bookstore! Whether it's running the store, dealing with out-of-print books, or handling eccentric customers, the bookstore life is filled with laughter and tears. 

As a bookseller, both previously and now once again, this was a pretty relatable read to be honest! People coming in with photos and Amazon screen shots of what they're after, asking for recommendations and so on. There were so many familiar conversations, that I've found myself having in my time as a bookseller and it added to the enjoyment for me! 

Honda-San was pretty funny too, to be honest he was funnier than I expected him to was the volume. I'm always kind of picky with slice of life's. I don't always get on with them, but I decided to give this one a try because of the bookseller aspect and I'm glad I did take a chance on this one because I enjoyed it an incredible amount! Is it mean to say that I was enjoying it more than I was expecting, even if I wasn't entirely too sure what to expect? I genuinely really enjoyed myself reading this volume. 

It's not only fun to look at the life of a bookseller, but we also got to take a bit of a look at how the manga publishing industry works in Japan, when it comes to selling and supplying it. There was never a dull moment, there were plenty of chuckles, and for me there were a tonne of relatable moments throughout the volume. 

The arts nice, the characters were fun and definitely stand out from the crowd, there were also some great situations and encounters that were interesting to see...and mostly familiar, like I said! 

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Review: Serpent & Dove

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

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou's, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou's most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.

It's taken me far too long to write this review up, but it's also taken me time to organise my thoughts in to a semblance of sense otherwise I'd just be screaming about it continuously! The synopsis for this hooked me straight away, but it's one of those books that sounds so unbelievably good, like something you didn't know you've been desperate for until you come across it and you kind of procrastinate reading it because you're worried it won't live up to the hype or you'll read it and then it'll be over far too soon! 

While I had quite high expectations for this book from what everyone had been saying about it, I also wasn't entirely sure exactly what to expect from it, however I was blown away and not at all disappointed upon finishing it. It had so many things that I love in a book and it's one of my favourite books of the year...and of all time. 

There's intrigue from the start as we're thrown in to a vividly brought to life French inspired fantasy world. We're quickly getting to grips with the way the world of this book works and I was so in love with the world and the world building. I was constantly intrigued by the way the world of the book worked, the politics of it and the history of it. Not to mention the magic system with the witches which was fascinating to me and something a little bit different to anything I've read recently. There's two different kinds we're presented with, blood magic and then Lou's kind which asks for something in return for whatever spell you cast, which was interesting to see. Plus there's the whole 'smell of magic' aspect which was quite different! On top of that we've got Morgane le Blanc, and the Chasseurs and I constantly wanted to know more about everything and everyone. The world building was just so rich, it was a world and setting that you could easily fall in to and get lost wandering with the characters. 

The characters were equally as fascinating as the world and the magic system. I was so intrigued by Lou and her past, and eager to know more about her. But I loved her instantly and had no trouble connecting with her, or any of the other characters for that matter. Lou was my favourite, however, and she had me cackling when she was being her wonderfully snarky self with Reid and the other Chasseurs. I just fell in love with her, she's one of my all time favourite characters now, I can't lie! She was just so much fun, and I was right there with her throughout the entire book. 

I also took an instant liking to Coco and I'd love to get to see even more of her in the next book! Her friendship with Lou was another highlight of the book for me, but I'm also incredibly curious about Coco and her magic...and her family. 

When it comes to our other main character, Reid, I wanted to love him but he made it so hard in the beginning. However, that also gave me such a sense of anticipation for when the romance started. We get both Reid and Lou's point of views and when you see their initial chance meetings and interactions I was so ready for the romance to start because I knew sparks were going to fly and I was giddy with anticipation. I did come to see how Reid became the way he was and obviously I ended up loving him too! There were some fantastic plot twists when it came to his character, but I most loved watching him grow closer to Lou and open up to her a little. 

The pace for Serpent & Dove, as well as the romance alongside the plot, was excellent. Everything was built up wonderfully, and all the different elements came together fantastically. There was so much intrigue and mystery woven in to the plot, along with plenty of tension. The plot twists were fantastically timed, and completely mind blowing. The twists would build up and you'd have an epiphany like "oh my God no way, it can't be"...and then be proved instantly right. As for the was slow burn and I was living for it. I loved watching it build up, watching the feelings start to develop and I was in heaven reading this book okay! 

The writing is rich, it draws you in and the world darkens around you as you read and find yourself in the pages of the book. There's strong world building, wonderful characters that you have no issues connecting with and that really bring the story to life. The romance is slow burn and wonderfully done, the pace for the overall book is perfect and I had no trouble binge reading 200 page chunks of this book even though I was supposed to be working on an assignment at the time...oops. The characters are kind of morally grey and there's so many inner struggles and battles of right and wrong that the characters face. They all develop wonderfully, and there's an enemies to lovers romance...what more do you need? 

For the first time in a long time, I had such a book hangover upon finishing this and I'm still sad that it was over. The ending was wonderful, the book was strong right up until the end, and I've been left so eager for more, I can't wait for the sequel! 

Manga: The Alchemist Who Survived Now Dreams of a Quiet City Life

The Alchemist Who Survived Now Dreams of a Quiet City Life Vol 1
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Mariela is the last alchemist alive after waking from a deep sleep that lasted two hundred years. As the sole alchemist in town, she can make a killing from making and selling potions...but after two hundred years of suspended animation, all she wants to do is relax, take things easy, and live at her own pace! 

The prologue gives us a quick intro the world we're going to be inhabiting with this series. What happened, how the alchemy works and so on, all of which was intriguing by the way. Once we've gotten to grips with all that, we're then thrown 200 years in to the future and reintroduced to the world and how things have changed. We're getting to grips with it all along with our main character, so we're not the only ones trying to figure out as we go. So you could see it's quite a fast paced, whirlwind start! 

We soon meet some of the characters in the form of Lynx, Yuric and the other members of the Black Iron Freight Corps, though I wasn't sure whether or not they could be trusted and I spent a lot of this volume side eyeing them. We also meet Seig, whom Mariela rescues, and I did like their growing bond throughout this volume! 

Alongside the fascinating alchemy, there's some interesting creatures and mythology to enjoy as well and you all know how much I live for mythology so it's safe to say I was having more than a little bit of fun reading this initial volume! I was certainly intrigued and pulled in by multiple different aspects to it! 

As for the art, I did enjoy it. It's an art style that I always love in a manga, and the characters are nicely drawn as are the settings. The alchemy in particular was brilliantly drawn! 

This initial volume has a nice pace to it, from Mariela's revival to meeting her new friends and trying to build her new life. Though I'm not sure where this is going so far, the characters are fun and I had a really good time reading this. I'm looking forward to seeing more and to see what will happen, and what direction the story will take!

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