Pages

Monday, January 21, 2019

Manga Review: My Hero Academia, Volume 15, by Kohei Horikoshi


Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Publisher: Shonen Jump (VIZ Media)
Release Date: October 2018
Volumes: 21+
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1. 14. 16.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Midoriya inherits the superpower of the world’s greatest hero, but greatness won’t come easy.

What would the world be like if 80 percent of the population manifested superpowers called “Quirks”? Heroes and villains would be battling it out everywhere! Being a hero would mean learning to use your power, but where would you go to study? The Hero Academy of course! But what would you do if you were one of the 20 percent who were born Quirkless?

A new and sinister enemy appears in the form of Chisaki Kai, the young leader of the Hassaikai yakuza gang. Looking to fill the power vacuum left by All For One, Chisaki makes contact with the League of Villains to gain possible support. When a chance run-in with a scared little girl brings Midoriya and his mentor Mirio face-to-face with Chisaki, none of them have any idea how much their lives are about to change…

Review:

Now that the students are interning, they're learning to balance being new and inexperienced and having all these rules regarding being a hero, with their heroism and how badly they want to step in and save people no matter the circumstance or the reality of it. Deku and Mirio learn this particularly hard in this volume, when they discover the villain they're watching is holding a little girl.
We get to meet the other heroes the students are mentoring with, what powers and histories they have. They all seem to have chosen a good group for themselves, and they're learning and getting better, and forming relationships.
Deku learns that he wasn't the first choice for All Might's power, at the same time as the hero groups come together to research and watch the yakuza villains, and he has conflicting thoughts on all of this.
The surprise element of this volume was the focus on Kirishima in the middle of it. We learn more about him and his power, and how he's learned to use it recently. He's fallen mostly in the background till now—for me, at least--but he's an even player in this plot line. I don't mind him, mostly.
It's unclear where their mission is going next, how it's going to turn out. It could be very bad—or it could be a success. It's hard to tell, though I'm sure it'll be messy. I'm looking forward to some kind of justice being served, though.


 A review copy was provided by the publisher, VIZ Media, for an honest review. Thank you so, so much!

Friday, January 18, 2019

Manga Review: Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts, Volume 2, by Yu Tomofuji


Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Publisher: Yen Press
Release Date: July 2018
Volumes: 9+
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1. 3.

Goodreads Synopsis:

When an array of rival princesses descends upon the palace, Sariphi gains an unlikely ally in the princess of the reptile clan. A hopeless romantic, Princess Amit is determined to push her erstwhile sacrifice friend into the king's arms! But even with Amit cheering her on, will Sariphi be able to carry out the absurd set of tasks Chancellor Anubis concocts to prove she is worthy of being queen...?

Review:

In the first half of the volume, Sariphi continues to deal with the other contenders for the King. She has such low expectations going in, that she has to reassess these things. One good thing to come from this, is that she makes a friends, in an alligator lady, who stays on as her lady. It's nice to see her with a girl friend.
After this, though, Sariphi takes on the challenge to be accepted for the King. He doesn't want her to do this, is against it, as it's very risky for her. Her first task is to summon a holy beast, and it takes a lot out of her, as she tries again and again. And she ends up with crude, rude Lord Bennu, in a tiny furball. This is a surprise, and really more of a curve-ball than anything else.
I enjoy the odd mix of characters in this series, and how it's growing. I'm interested to see what is next for Sariphi, as this is a hard road ahead for her. I'm excited, though.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Manga Review: Hayate the Combat Butler, Volume 31, by Kenjiro Hata


Rating (Out of 5): ~3
Publisher: Shonen Sunday (VIZ Media)
Release Date: February 2018
Volumes: 52.
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1. 30. 32.

Goodreads Synopsis:

A hilarious tale of butlers, love and battles!

Since the tender age of nine, Hayate Ayasaki has busted his behind at various part-time jobs to support his degenerate gambler parents. And how do they repay their son’s selfless generosity? By selling his organs to the yakuza to cover their debts! But fate throws Hayate a bone…sort of. Now the butler of a wealthy young lady, Hayate can finally pay back his debts, and it’ll only take him 40 years to do it.

Idol singer Ruka and ex-heiress Nagi share the same improbable dream: to become hit manga artists. Nagi may not have art skills, a work ethic or the ability to write a coherent plot, but she’s an expert on two things: geekiness and money. Can she create a best seller through the sheer power of viral marketing? And how will Ruka fare in her radical alternative plan to actually draw a darn comic?

Review:

I didn't realize being a mangaka was such a big part of this series. Maybe since it's been running so long, the whole butler thing isn't as important anymore? Cause I think I missed all that plot.
Instead, we get to see Ruka and Nagi struggle to create a well-selling manga for the next con. Ruka decides to make a widely-readable book, with a smaller amount printed but a good, well-made story to sell. Nagi, on the other hand, decides to work hard on the “sell” part of the deal, not so much the manga part. We see how that works for both of them, and Nagi gets to learn an important lesson by it.
I still don't really care for the characters much, but the mangaka story was at least a little interesting. The humor isn't really for me, either, though. Eh.


 A review copy was provided by the publisher, VIZ Media, for an honest review. Thank you so, so much!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Manga Review: Don't Be Cruel, Volume 6, by Yonezou Nekota


Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Publisher: SuBLime (VIZ Media)
Release Date: December 2017
Volumes: 8+
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1&2. 5. 7.

Goodreads Synopsis:

A fan-favorite series by adored author Yonezou Nekota continues in single volumes.

Playboy Maya catches studious Nemugasa cheating on a test, and to ensure his silence Maya blackmails Nemugasa into doing whatever he wants!

Nemugasa and Maya are about to go on their first shopping date, so of course Nemugasa borrows a fashion magazine to do a little studying up! Clothes shopping with Maya is enough to get Nemugasa in a romantic mood, but when he spots something while waiting at Shibuya’s famous scramble crossing, his jealousy skyrockets! Just what could he have seen to put him in such a “biting” mood?

Review:

In this volume, Nemugasa attempts to update his image, and grows jealous and possessive of Maya's new modeling popularity. Nemugasa and Okino have to crossdress for their club, and Nemugasa grows insecure by how hot Maya thinks he is like that.
In the middle of the volume, we got an update on Akira and Shimakawa. Akira is a hard tsundere, maybe? He protests and says that he doesn't want to be with Shimakawa, but then he sneaks in to cuddle when he's asleep... It seems like Akira makes a step forward here, at least.
We meet a new character in this volume, who might be growing close to Okino. Okino is a bit of a spoiled brat, and so of course he's rude to the guy before changing his mind. He's also very shallow, and I hope he learns a lesson at some point.
There's a sexual harassment scare in this volume, and I absolutely love that this brings up worries for Maya, and he's reminded of his problematic actions at the beginning of the series. The fact that this is even mentioned, let alone a plot point for a few chapters, is extremely appreciated. These actions are usually completely disregarded, and even though I am even okay forgiving them, seeing them discuss it is important. Maya and Nemugasa discuss their issues—they think about them and worry, but they also bring it up to each other, talk about it, and then move forward. This is such a key point in this series.
Now it looks like a new possible worry is coming. I'm excited to see where that cliffhanger goes.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Manga Review: Magi: Labyrinth of Magic, Volume 26, by Shinobu Ohtaka


Rating (Out of 5): ~3
Publisher: Shonen Sunday (VIZ Media)
Release Date: October 2017
Volumes: 37.
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1. 25. 27.

Goodreads Synopsis:

An epic dungeon-busting adventure inspired by One Thousand and One Nights!

Deep within the desert lie the mysterious Dungeons, vast stores of riches there for the taking by anyone lucky enough to find them and brave enough to venture into the depths from where few have ever returned. Plucky young adventurer Aladdin means to find the Dungeons and their riches, but Aladdin may be just as mysterious as the treasures he seeks.

Gyokuen, the current Empress of Kou, continues to drive much of the turmoil that has upset the balance of power among nations. Alibaba and Aladdin head for the Kou Empire to try to speak to Hakuryu, but their friend has become one of the Fallen, consumed by his thirst for revenge. What now will become of the Kou Empire and of the world?

Review:

We get the end of Hakuryu's battle with Gyokuen, and it's rough. As it ends, we see that Hakuryu has fallen too far to come back. Aladdin and Alibaba have a hard time accepting this, though. Alibaba taps into a new level of power as he takes on Hakuryu, determined not to let him do this. It's interesting to see Aladdin on par with Judar during this.
It's a little hard to follow some of the fighting here, especially once they undergo the transformations. And it's a lot of fighting in this volume. I have an idea what the outcome will be, but who knows.


 A review copy was provided by the publisher, VIZ Media, for an honest review. Thank you so, so much!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Manga Review: Dr. Stone, Volume 2, by Riichiro Inagaki and Boichi


Rating (Out of 5): ~3
Publisher: Shonen Jump (VIZ Media)
Release Date: November 2018
Volumes: 8+
Spoilers?: Light.
Volume: 1. 3.
Add on Goodreads.
 
RightStuf Synopsis:

Senku, Taiju and Yuzuriha are well on their way to crafting gunpowder when they spot smoke far off in the distance. Convinced that it’s a sign of other humans, Senku takes a huge risk by sending up a smoke signal of their own. Meanwhile, Tsukasa is determined to stop their progress on gunpowder, and his arrival on the scene could spell the end for our heroes!

Review:

Given how much I didn't enjoy the first volume of this, I wasn't particularly looking forward to this volume. As it starts, it feels much the same.
We get some crazy save and negotiation tactics, a stand-off between the two sides. A surprise resolution, and then the two friends part ways temporarily. Although they agree that temporary might turn into quite a while, as they have to do things separately before they join up again.
It's only really at the end of the volume that my interest was piqued. Senku ends up discovering a girl in the forest, and might have discovered humans still alive. It's unsure what exactly that entails, but I think I might like this new girl. She seems fun, and that might counteract my disinterest in Senku's personality and way of talking.
The general tropes done in this series are bad. The characters are not great, and are extremely stereotypical so far. I wouldn't say I like it in any sense, really. But sometimes it can be fun to read a bad shonen series, maybe?


 A review copy was provided by the publisher, VIZ Media, for an honest review. Thank you so, so much!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Manga Review: Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty, Volume 5, by Megumi Morino


Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: July 2018
Volumes: 6.
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1. 4. 6.

Goodreads Synopsis:

This funny and heartrending romantic manga set in modern Tokyo is not the fairy tale you remember! This time, Prince Charming is a teenage janitor, and this Sleeping Beauty’s curse is a supernatural, gender-bending dream that threatens to pull them both into a deeper and deeper slumber… Satoshi’s father has worked for the rich family in the house on the hill his entire life, so when the teenager needs a part-time job to put himself through school, looking after the mansion’s gardens is a natural fit. Satoshi’s ready to work hard, and he quickly endears himself to the staff. But there’s one ironclad rule even he must obey: Don’t go near the cottage behind the house. When he sees a beautiful, pale girl in one of the windows, Satoshi assumes she is being kept prisoner, and their secret meetings quickly turn romantic, but Satoshi has no idea just how terrible this Sleeping Beauty’s curse really is…

Review:

Tetsu takes Shizu to his grandfather's place, where they work and sleep in the same room, but Tetsu's family isn't far behind.
That seems like it should be the biggest plot here, but it's not really. Tetsu's family finally discusses what's been going on—they find out how hard Tetsu has been working, and why. His sisters finally say their piece about it, and their father and grandfather realize what's been going on. It's an important step between them. And in that same realm, Shizu and her mother get to talk—though that's a little overshadowed by a surprise with one of Shizu's ghosts.
We get a little history in this volume. We find out that Shizu's mom and Tetsu's mom were close friends, and then we see what the relationship between Shizu's parents is really like. It's honestly a little unsettling, his unhealthy feelings for her.
This is the start of the conclusion. It looks like it'll be sweet and a little sad. I'm looking forward to seeing how it wraps up, though.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Manga Review: Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign, Volume 14, by Takaya Kagami, Yamato Yamamoto, and Daisuke Furuya


Rating (Out of 5): ~3
Publisher: Shonen Jump Advanced (VIZ Media)
Release Date: April 2018
Volumes: 17+
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1. 13. 15.

Goodreads Synopsis:

After trumpets of the apocalypse proclaim the fall of humanity, vampires arise from the shadows to rule the earth. Yuichiro wants just one thing—to get revenge by killing each and every vampire.

Ferid Bathory and Krul Tepes have been captured by the other vampire nobles and Shinoa Squad is forced to bide its time while the two vampires are sentenced to days of torture. And what better place to wait than in Ferid’s own mansion in Osaka? Meanwhile, the Demon Army is gearing up for a coup in Shibuya, but Guren has a plan of his own that involves Yuichiro.

Review:

The main group arrives at the mansion, and get some interesting information regarding vampires. They discuss things, figure out what their goal is.
I think part of the more interesting plot of the volume, though, is when we discover what happened to Guren to lead to now, what he did and why (at least partly), and what's still haunting him. It's an interesting idea.
I'm still a little unsure how they expect to pull off what they want, but I guess they have it all figured out? I'm also unsure who's on which side at this point.


 A review copy was provided by the publisher, VIZ Media, for an honest review. Thank you so, so much!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Release Blitz: Excerpt of Only a Breath Apart by Katie McGarry

   

Would you dare to defy destiny? Are our destinies written in stone? Do we become nothing more than the self-fulfilling prophesies of other people's opinions? Or can we dare to become who we believe we were born to be?

 

“A gorgeous, heartfelt journey of redemption and love” (Wendy Higgins), ONLY A BREATH APART is a young adult contemporary novel from critically acclaimed Katie McGarry. “Haunting, authentic, and ultimately hopeful” (Tammara Webber), ONLY A BREATH APART will be available on all retailers on January 22, 2019!

   

About ONLY A BREATH APART:

Jesse dreams of working the land that’s been in his family forever. But he’s cursed to lose everything he loves most.

Scarlett is desperate to escape her “charmed” life. But leaving a small town is easier said than done.

Despite their history of heartbreak, when Jesse sees a way they can work together to each get what they want, Scarlett can’t say no.Each midnight meeting between Jesse and Scarlett will push them to confront their secrets and their feelings for each other.

 

Amazon | Kobo | Google Play | B-A-M | Barnes & Noble | iBooks

   

Gritty and real, Only a Breath Apart is a story of hope conjured from pain, strength drawn from innocence, and love earned from self-respect. Beautiful, poignant, and fierce.” ―Kristen Simmons, critically acclaimed author of the Article 5 series


 

Add it to your Goodreads today!

       



Excerpt:


SCARLETT
I’m defying my parents by attending a funeral. Reckless and adventurous teenage behavior, I know. Most seventeen-year-olds lie to their parents so they can go on a date with a forbidden boy or attend a party where there will be questionable behavior. Me? I’m outright lying to my dad, and it’s because Jesse Lachlin’s grandmother died.
The entire way here I’ve questioned my sanity, but I don’t know how I’d live with myself if I stayed home. Jesse Lachlin used to be my childhood best friend. We were inseparable. We had the type of friendship people strive to have, and then, a few years ago, he cut me so deeply that I still bleed. But ten-year-old me would have never abandoned a hurting Jesse. So today I’m not only honoring the memory of Jesse’s grandmother, but also the memory of our dead friendship.
On my way to the funeral, the high grass of the field swats at my legs, but I don’t mind the sting. I love walking barefoot in grass, I love the smell of the earth and I love that brief feeling of freedom open spaces can provide.
It’s the dog days of August. The type of hot that starts when the sun rises and makes you sweat through your clothes within minutes. While my skin and palms are on fire, the pads of my feet are cool against the dirt. The heat is unwelcome, but the sky is deep blue and the sun is bright, and for that, I can be grateful.
Walking out of the field, I stop short of crossing the one-lane road to slip on the flats that dangle from my fingertips. My mother would be mortified if she knew I was entering a church in a cotton daisy-print sundress. It’s not one of the dresses with stiff fabric and impossible back zippers she would have picked for me at an overpriced department store. It’s the type that’s machine-washable and breathable. The type of dress Jesse’s grandmother would have given her stamp of approval.
I can practically hear my mother heavily sigh and mumble my name, Scarlett, as if it were her personal, private curse word. Mom believes there’s a certain way to dress and behave, and I’m breaking all sorts of her rules today. Watch out, world. I’m officially rebellious.
I smile to myself because I’m the opposite of rebellious. For the last few years, I’ve followed every rule. I’m the teacher’s pet and the girl with straight A’s. I’m the poster child of perfection, and have earned every snarky ice princess comment Jesse’s friends whisper about me in the school hallways because he and I no longer speak.
There are only six cars in the parking lot of the white church, and that makes me frown. I thought more people would have wanted to attend. Jesse’s mud-covered pickup is there, and so is an unnaturally clean black Mercedes that belongs to his uncle. This ought to be interesting. Jesse and his uncle have a mutual hate for each other that runs deeper than any root of any tree.
Movement to my right and I slowly turn my head. Shivers run down my spine at the sight of Glory Gardner. Even though I’m seventeen and too old for ghost stories, I still can’t shake the ones regarding this woman. Girls would whisper over lunch boxes that Glory was a witch. As I grew older, I understood that witch meant con artist. She claims she can read palms, tarot cards and “sees” spirits from beyond the dead. All for a glorious fee.
She’s a beautiful woman—long dirty blond hair that’s untamed, even in a bun, and she has an eclectic taste in clothing. Today she wears a white peasant shirt and a flowing skirt made of material that shimmers in the sun.
Glory watches me like I watch her, with morbid curiosity. I knew her as a child, back when Jesse and I ran wild in the fields near her home, but we haven’t talked in years.
She stands under the shade of a towering weeping willow. There are lots of those trees around here. Mom says it’s because there is too much water in the ground. I say it’s because the people in this town have cried too many tears. Mom doesn’t like my answer.
I tilt my head toward the church, an unspoken question if Glory will be joining me. She shakes her head no. I’m not shocked. According to rumors, Glory will go up in flames if she enters the house of God. But who knows? Maybe I will, too.
The church is one of those picturesque, historical, one-room school buildings squeezed between a cornfield on one side and a hay field on the other. A huge steeple with a bell attempts to reach the heavens, but like anything created by a human, it falls tragically short.
The foreboding wooden door makes no noise as I open it, and I’m able to slip in without a huge, squeaking announcement. Orange light filters in through the dark stained glass windows, and its struggling beams reveal millions of dancing particles of dust.
On the altar, there’s no casket, but there is an urn. My heart dips—Suzanne is dead. I used to wish she were my grandmother, and many times, she treated me as if I belonged to her. Suzanne was the epitome of love, and the world feels colder now that she’s gone.
Choosing a spot in the back, I drop into a pew, and as I scan the church my stomach churns. How is it possible that this place is so barren?
Besides the Funeral Brigade, or the FB, as I like to refer to them, there aren’t many people here. The FB are the older group of woman who attend every funeral in our small town even if they didn’t know the person. Attending funerals isn’t my idea of fun, but who am I to judge?
The FB sit directly behind the one person the town believes to be the lone sane member of the Lachlin family, probably because he isn’t blood related—Jesse’s uncle.
On the left side of the church is Jesse. Only Jesse. And that causes a painful pang in my chest. Where are his stinking friends? The anarchists in training who follow Jesse wherever he goes? Where is the rest of the town? Yes, Suzanne was polarizing, but still, where is any respect?
Quietly, so I don’t draw attention to myself, I slip from the right set of pews to the left. Someone should be on Jesse’s side, and it’s sad it has to be me.
A door at the front of the church opens, and the pastor walks out from the addition the church build on as a small office ten years ago. I would have thought any pastor assigned to this place would be as ancient as this church. Sort of like an Indiana Jones Knights Templar scenario where he lives forever as long as he stays inside. But no, he’s the youngest pastor from the main, newer church in town. His name is Pastor Hughes, and he’s a thirty-something black man with a fit build who is just cute enough that he should be starring in a movie.
The pastor looks up, and he flinches as if startled. I peek over my shoulder then sigh. Clearly, he’s surprised to see me. Flipping fantastic.
His reaction, and the fact he won’t stop staring, causes every person to turn their heads. Lovely. I’ve had dreams like this where I enter a room and become the center of attention. Only in my dreams it’s at school, it’s my classmates and I’m naked, but still, this is disconcerting.
Eventually, the FB and Jesse’s uncle return their attention to the front, but Jesse doesn’t. He rests his arm on the back of the pew, and it’s hard to ignore that he’s made me his sole focus, but I do my best to act as if I don’t notice.
To help, I concentrate on what my mom taught me as a child—to make sure the skirt of my dress is tucked appropriately so that my thighs don’t show. I then fold my hands in my lap and straighten to a book-on-head posture. I can be the ice princess people claim me to be.
Five pews separate me and Jesse, and it’s not nearly enough. My cheeks burn under his continued inspection. Jesse has done this a handful of times since our freshman year. Glance at me as if I’m someone worth looking at, someone worth laughing with a little too loud and smiling with a little too much. Then he remembers who I am and snaps his gaze to someone else.
But he’s not looking away now. 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Katie McGarry Bio:

Katie McGarry was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan.

Katie is the author of full length YA novels, PUSHING THE LIMITS, DARE YOU TO, CRASH INTO YOU, TAKE ME ON,  BREAKING THE RULES, and NOWHERE BUT HERE and the e-novellas, CROSSING THE LINE and RED AT NIGHT. Her debut YA novel, PUSHING THE LIMITS was a 2012 Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction, a RT Magazine's 2012 Reviewer's Choice Awards Nominee for Young Adult Contemporary Novel, a double Rita Finalist, and a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Teen Pick. DARE YOU TO was also a Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction and won RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Award for Young Adult Contemporary fiction in 2013.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | Tumbler | Instagram

   

Manga Review: After Hours, Volume 1, by Yuhta Nishio


Rating (Out of 5): ~3
Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: June 2017
Volumes: 3.
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 2.

Goodreads Synopsis:

There’s always something going on at night. Sooner or later, you’ll find your scene.

Emi Ashiana is 24, unemployed, and not really sure what she wants do with her life. When a friend invites her to a dance club, Emi doesn’t expect much. But what she finds will change her world!

The club is hopping and Emi isn’t…so she ends up hiding in a corner after her friend ditches her to flirt with a guy! Emi figures the night is a bust, but then someone amazing comes to her rescue. Kei is a DJ, and her effortless self-confidence captivates Emi. Is this just a wonderful night out or the start of the rest of her life?


Review:

Before starting this, I didn't realize that the characters were in their 20's, out of school and trying to figure out their lives. I did know it was yuri, but I didn't expect it to be so mature. That's not very common, I don't think, and I really like that.
Emi meets Kei rather by chance. After being dragged to a club she's not all that interested in, and separated then ditched by her friend, Kei kind of saves her. They end up going home together, and that sets their relationship in motion.
It's a rather fast move, but it's also sweet, and seems to just make sense. Kei is easygoing, and not at all worried about letting Emi stay and get comfortable from the start. Kei is also a DJ, and introduces Emi to that world, and to the job of VJ, which might be just what she's been looking for.
I related to Emi in a way. I understand her feelings about trying to figure out what it is she wants to do with her life, for a passion she doesn't really have yet. I also liked that this had a subtle, slice-of-life kind of feel to it. Their relationship is easy, and we get to see them hanging out and doing couple things, without any pressure.
This was a fun first volume. Easy start, with a few plot points that could lead to more. I'm intrigued to read the next one.