Saturday, October 5, 2019

Novel Review: Crossing the Line by Simone Elkeles

Rating (Out of 5): ~2-2.5
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins)
Release Date: June 2018
Spoilers?: No.

Goodreads Synopsis:

A high-stakes story of star-crossed lovers from Simone Elkeles, the New York Times bestselling author of the Perfect Chemistry series

To escape his abusive stepdad, bad boy Ryan Hess runs from his tiny Texas border town to Mexico. But his plans to keep his head down and stay out of trouble are shattered the minute he meets the beautiful and totally out of his league Dalila Sandoval.

Dalila Sandoval shouldn’t even know someone like Ryan Hess. The daughter of one of the wealthiest lawyers in Mexico, Dalila is focused on studying and planning for her bright future. Ryan is only a distraction from her dreams, but she’s never felt more alive than when she’s by his side.

Ryan and Dalila are wrong for each other in every way. And yet they can’t resist the sparks that fly when they’re together. But their love is like a flame burning too close to the fuse.

Something is going to explode. Will their love be strong enough to survive? Or will it burn them both?

The Cover:

Meh. It's very typical romance couple. The title is really the only interesting part about it, but still nothing really catches my attention or makes me want to pick it up. Aside from expecting/wanting more intense of a romance.


I've enjoyed Elkeles' books in the past, quite a lot really. So I didn't expect this, or to feel this way about it.
I will admit that the beginning of this book reminded me a bit of All the Pretty Horses, which is a book I hated when I read it in high school. Most of the book didn't really have that feel, though, once I got into it.
I don't want to spoil how any of this happens, but I will say this book does not have a happily every after. I didn't expect it to go this way for most of the book, even really until the end when it happened. It doesn't happen often, and I really don't care for tragedies. They're not my kind of thing.
To be fair, though, I also didn't really feel much for this book. The characters were okay, but I wasn't all that into the romance, I wasn't even really feeling the chemistry. In the beginning it felt okay, but instead of getting better, the plot just seemed to drag on. They were put in a pretty impossible situation, including where some adults could have helped and instead decided to keep them out of the loop on everything. And how it all wrapped up and the big surprise bad guy (which wasn't terribly surprising) ended up seeming rather unrealistic.
I really wanted to like this book, but I just don't think it was meant to be for me. It had a lot in the way of it, it seems. And I can even, kind of, maybe, see how that ending was okay. But mostly I'm just not happy about it.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Manga Review: Yona of the Dawn, Volume 18, by Mizuho Kusanagi

Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Publisher: Shojo Beat (VIZ Media)
Release Date: June 2019
Volumes: 30+
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1. 17. 19.

Goodreads Synopsis:

A red-haired princess loses her family and her kingdom… Now she must rise and fight for her throne!

Princess Yona lives an ideal life as the only princess of her kingdom. Doted on by her father, the king, and protected by her faithful guard Hak, she cherishes the time spent with the man she loves, Su-won. But everything changes on her 16th birthday when tragedy strikes her family!

A Kai Empire soldier fatally strikes Zeno, but he doesn’t die! Yona and her friends are shocked by the Yellow Dragon’s power as well as what he reveals about both his past and the Crimson Dragon King…


This volume was an unexpected side-trip for me. We finally get to see what Zeno's power is, and thus what his history is. It's much more than I expected, and takes us on quite a journey. It makes me respect his character a lot more, and makes me want to give him a hug—so it's nice that all of the characters, especially Yona, give him several in this volume.
This is also one of the first times in this series that the violence was truly felt. The dragons and Hak have been in several fights before this, but truly seeing the way that Zeno gets cut up, is horrific. It's perfectly fitting and gives a really good impact, given the story and the other characters' reactions. Yona's horror, in particular, is very real.
It's been a long time since we've been reminded of what the crimson dragon means, and what the potential of it for Yona could mean. The back story on this was very interesting, and the path that Zeno takes to meet the current dragons and the new crimson dragon, makes me really curious where this is leading next. It's a lot of potential for Yona to grow into.
I'm excited to see where the story goes from here. This was a lot of important information, with some key moments. And getting to see the dragons—mainly the Blue Dragon, but also Gija—as little kids makes me so happy. They're so cute!

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Manga Review: Kaguya-sama Love is War, Volume 8, by Aka Akasaka

Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Publisher: Shonen Jump (VIZ Media)
Release Date: May 2019
Volumes: 16+
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1. 7. 9.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Two high school geniuses scheme to get the other to confess their love first.

Two geniuses. Two brains. Two hearts. One battle. Who will confess their love first…?!

Will Miyuki’s hormones keep him loyal to Kaguya or lead him astray? Meanwhile, Miko is interpreting everything she observes in the student council as risqué. Then, a shojo manga makes everyone romance crazy. Somebody actually, finally asks somebody out! And Kaguya and Miyuki accidentally get locked inside a room together…

Lovesick: figure of speech or actual ailment?


Now that Miko Ino is part of the student council, she gets to settle in with the cast and find her place. And the others aren't setting a great impression.
She's still too strict, and somehow idolizes Chika. Chika in turn tries to make her loosen up, get her to relax some of her uptightness. But then there's all this talk of love, and she's starting to think Miyuki is a sexual deviant. She's beginning to think this student council isn't the place for her. When she talks to her best friend about it all, that changes her opinion completely, and now she might be on Yu's side, actually.
Some of the plots between Miyuki and Kaguya are getting a little tiring, mainly because I think I want some progress. Plus, the chapter where they got trapped in the gym closet—it would have made more sense if they'd worried the other person thought they'd fixed this up themselves, as opposed to assuming the other one had done it.
But I do still enjoy the craziness of this series, and I like the addition of Miko Ino. She's an interesting character to me.

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

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Manga Review: Hatsu*Haru, Volume 5, by Shizuki Fujisawa

Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Publisher: Yen Press
Release Date: February 2019
Volumes: 13.
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1. 4. 6.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Kai just can't shake his feelings for Riko, no matter how hard he tries (or how many other girls he dates). When it comes to first loves, though, Riko knows better than most how hard it can be to let things go. With Suwa and Akemi's wedding fast approaching, will Riko be able to finally tell her most important people a heartfelt "Congratulations"...?


Riko is upset by how Kai has suddenly reverted to his playboy ways, but doesn't know why. And Kai is reacting to what he thinks is happening between Riko and Takaya. Which means Takaya has to do something—thus, the pretend romance trope of Takaya and Ayumi. I can get behind this.
Riko and Kai both have to figure themselves out for a bit here, and come back to a middle ground of friendship. Around this time, the wedding has arrived, and Riko has to figure out her feelings about that, and get some closure.
Given the previous cliffhangers, we'll see what this one adds up to. But I'm hopeful.
I'm really enjoying this series, still. It's cute and fun, and uses the normal tropes in a mostly fresh and fun way. The characters and friendships are a lot of fun, in particular, though.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Manga Review: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Volume 4, by Akira Himekawa

Rating (Out of 5): ~3
Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: September 2018
Volumes: 7+
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1. 3. 5.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Once upon a time, wizards tried to conquer the Sacred Realm of Hyrule. The Spirits of Light sealed the wizards’ power within the Shadow Crystal and banished them to the Twilight Realm beyond the Mirror of Twilight. Now, an evil menace is trying to find Midna, Princess of the Twilight Realm, and the fragments of the Shadow Crystal to gain the power to rule over both the Twilight Realm and the World of Light.

Link and Midna head for Death Mountain to dispel the darkness that is plaguing the Gorons and hopefully obtain another shard of the Shadow Crystal. If they can recover the shard they’ll only need to find one more piece of the Crystal. But their journey is far from over—shadows are gathering at Hyrule Castle and there are still many grave dangers and terrible foes to face!


We find out where Ilia has shown up, only to discover she doesn't remember anything. It's an interesting side story, and a bit of a surprise for Link. He doesn't really know how to pretend, though, and act like he doesn't know her. That's a bit outside of his repertoire.
Aside from that, Link fights a few bosses and continues traveling around, trying to find the pieces and save the kingdom. There's a bit of a cliffhanger at the end here, as Link and Midna finish one quest. This will probably only complicate things in the mean time, though.
I don't mind following this series, but it's mostly just okay. That's probably how it works when you adapt a video game, though, even if it's done pretty well. 

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

Monday, September 30, 2019

Manga Review: Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma, Volume 29, by Yuto Tsukuda, Shun Saeki, and Yuki Morisaki

Rating (Out of 5): ~3
Publisher: Shonen Jump Advanced (VIZ Media)
Release Date: April 2019
Volumes: 36.
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1. 27. 30.

Goodreads Synopsis:

An action-packed, saucy food comedy featuring one boy’s determination to be top chef!

Soma Yukihira’s old man runs a small family restaurant in the less savory end of town. Aiming to one day surpass his father’s culinary prowess, Soma hones his skills day in and day out until one day, out of the blue, his father decides to enroll Soma in a classy culinary school! Can Soma really cut it in a place that prides itself on a 10 percent graduation rate? And can he convince the beautiful, domineering heiress of the school that he belongs there at all?!

The fourth bout of the team shokugeki begins with Erina finally taking the stage. Her opponent? The queen of cute confections, Momo Akanegakubo! But what kind of dish will the former ice queen present to combat such cuteness? Meanwhile, Isshiki and Takumi take on the council’s top two members—Tsukasa and Rindo!


I missed what happened with Megumi (sadly, though not surprising), but I guess that's okay, because Erina gets to prove what point she was making, using it as inspiration to make her dish the winner.
Next up, Isshiki and Tsukasa are against each other. Both characters I quite enjoy. During their cooking, there's also some light drama regarding Isshiki's childhood rival/friend.
And, of course, as the shokugeki is drawing closer to the end, Azami has to step in to try and put things in his favor again.
This has been a very long battle. It looks like we're finally down to the last two on each side though.

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

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Novel Review: Starfall (Starflight, #2) by Melissa Landers

Rating (Out of 5): ~3
Genre: YA Sci-fi Romance
Publisher: Hyperion
Release Date: 2017
Spoilers?: No.

Goodreads Synopsis:

When Princess Cassia Rose fled her home world of Eturia to escape an arranged marriage, she had no idea her sudden departure would spark a war. Now after two years hiding as a ship hand, she is finally returning to her beloved home, but not in the way she imagined. Shackled by bounty hunters, she is violently dragged back to account for her crimes. Her only solace is that the Banshee crew managed to evade capture, including Kane Arric, her best friend...with occasional benefits.

Meanwhile, Kane and the rest of the crew of the Banshee plan a desperate rescue mission. But when they arrive on Eturia, Cassia isn't exactly in need of heroics—she's claimed her birthright as Eturia's queen, but has inherited a war-torn planet simmering with rebellion. Cassia must make alliances, and Kane, the bastard son of a merchant, isn't a choice that will earn her any friends. Kane knows he will never find someone to replace Cassia—and is certain she returns his feelings—but how can he throw away his own promising future waiting on a queen?

When the outer realm is threatened by the dangerous Zhang mafia, Cassia, Kane and the rest of the Banshee crew uncover a horrifying conspiracy that endangers the entire universe. In the face of unspeakable evil, Cassia must confront her own family's complicated legacy on Eturia and decide once and for all who her real family is.

The Cover:

I really like these covers. They're pretty, and I love the colors and shiny parts. I appreciate this one shows Cassia going back to her planet, too, since now they're not running away from anything. Since the story doesn't focus overly on the romance, I like that the covers don't, either.


This book takes place quickly after the first one, only now we're following Cassia and Kane. I was intrigued by their relationship in the first book, and I'm always a sucker for childhood friend/friends to lovers stories. They're a favorite of mine, so I was actually looking forward to this one more than the first.
Similar to the first book, the romance takes a backseat compared to the action and main plot lines. For this book, it's that Cassia's home planet is looking for her. Only for her to find out that some big things have changed, and she actually needs to go back to try and settle things.
I really liked the idea behind Cassie being a runaway princess and going back to her kingdom to take her place back and make things right again. Some of it just didn't play out as well.
I think Cassia played it well, for the most part. She played it smart and did what she needed to in the moment, trusted who she thought she could and fought when needed. Cassie and Kane were actually separated for most of the book, and then there were clear conflicts, since Cassie and Kane grew up on very different sides of the kingdom. She was a princess, and he was a merchants son.
The way it played out wasn't terribly surprising—who was behind what, who was secretly and openly against her. And it was a fun story, for the most part. But certain parts went in odd directions, and some story lines got dragged out or seemed unnecessary. But I think part of that might be that this reads almost more like an adventure novel, more than a sci-fi or romance story.
All this to say, it was all right. I didn't mind it, but it wasn't as good as I hoped it would be. The romance was rather subtle and not very intense, like I hoped it would be. I'll probably try another of Landers' novels at some point, but I'll have different expectations, I think.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Manga Review: Kakuriyo: Bed & Breakfast for Spirits, Volume 3, by Waco Ioka, Midori Yuma, and Laruha

Rating (Out of 5): ~3
Publisher: Shojo Beat (VIZ Media)
Release Date: May 2019
Volumes: 6+
Spoilers?: Light.
Volume: 1. 2. 4.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Faced with the choice of being married to a strange spirit or being made into dinner, Aoi creates a third option for herself!

Aoi Tsubaki inherited her grandfather’s ability to see spirits—and his massive debt to them! Now she’s been kidnapped and taken to Kakuriyo, the spirit world, to make good on his bill. Her options: marry the head of the inn her grandfather trashed, or get eaten by ayakashi. But Aoi isn’t the type to let spirits push her around, and she’s determined to redeem her grandfather’s IOU on her own terms!

Aoi wasn’t the only orphan her grandfather Shiro took in. Before she went to live with him, he rescued the spider demons Akatsuki and Suzuran and put them to work as unpaid servants! Now Aoi is questioning everything she thought she knew about her upbringing. What was Shiro up to? And more importantly, does that make the spider demons family?!


Aoi ends up helping this spider-yokai couple at the inn. There's tension and misunderstandings, and one of them works at the inn. Aoi gets between it and so tries to help them resolve their issues. This involves going back to the human world, which is dangerous for the yokai, and could mean an escape for Aoi.
It says a lot that Aoi decides to go back to the yokai inn. She's seemed to have grown closer to the ogre, as well; they've formed some kind of friendly understanding through all this.
The end of this volume felt a bit like an ending, even though not much has been resolved. It felt like Aoi had accepted her position, that she's at the inn for good and will continue finding her place there, whatever it is.
But it's clearly not the end, I have two more volumes to read right now. Honestly, the characters and plot felt rather forgettable to me in this volume. I'm very meh about this series, but I guess I'm going to try for a bit longer.

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

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Manga Review: Forget Me Not, Volume 7, by Mag Hsu and Nao Emoto

Rating (Out of 5): ~3-3.5
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: March 2017
Volumes: 7.
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1. 6.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Serizawa is a twentysomething working at a divorce attorney's office. Walking home from work one day, he gets into an accident, and a woman carries him to an ambulance. Later, at the hospital, still bleary, he receives a phone call from the woman who saved his life. This person knows intimate details about him... but he's not sure who it is. Serizawa's gentle personality has drawn lots of girls to him since his childhood, but he's far from perfect. Was it someone he loved and lost? Or perhaps someone he wronged, to whom he failed to make amends?


 I think the reason I wasn't a big fan of the ending at first was because I held so little regard for each relationship we followed. I knew they all ended badly, and I wanted to know who the girl was from the beginning. I didn't care too much for his relationship with Sam-Soon, in particular.
A large portion of this volume concludes the Nana's plot line, and I really don't care for it. Serizawa learns from it, I suppose, but it's also a mess. It's not a good situation in any form.
Then we finally discover who the girl was who started all of this. And I think it's fitting, who it turns out to be and how it turns out. It has an effect on Serizawa that he needs to get closure on certain parts of his life, and on his decision to finally make a decision and do something about it. He's spent so much time letting conflicts build and miscommunication fester and letting moments pass where he should have said something. It is good to see him finally grow past that.
I suppose it makes sense which girl he ends up with in the end, as they did seem to have the more meaningful relationship, for both of them. And looking back on it, after some time to think, I don't mind that. It fits.
This was a messy series, but I did enjoy it, for the most part.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Manga Review: Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku, Volume 3, by Fujita

Rating (Out of 5): ~4.5
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: November 2018
Volumes: 7+
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1. 2. 4.

Goodreads Synopsis:

A tall, quiet gamer boy and a geeky girl whose life revolves around yaoi manga are old friends, but when they start working in the same office, they decide to date. It's a relationship of convenience at first, but could it become something more? This manga comedy is now a hit streaming anime!

Extra-long book includes 2 Japanese volumes!

Narumi and Hirotaka are, by all appearances, a power couple. They're young, good-looking professionals. But they have secrets from everyone but each other: They're serious geeks! Narumi is a fujoshi, and Hirotaka's a hardcore gamer. Their sweet, awkward love story started life as a webcomic before becoming a full-blown manga series by popular demand, and is about to become a major anime series!


It feels like it came on very suddenly, but I am now obsessed. I love Naoya, so much. He's my favorite.
This series seems like it should be more episodic, more of a 4-koma style, and yet it has more ongoing plot than that. It's also just so good, and keeps my attention all the way through.
There's lots of fun geekiness in this volume—including a convention and cosplay—as well as lots of gaming and arguments and other fun. There's also some couple stuff—they go to a hot spring in the second half.
But back to Naoya. After finding out that Ko is a female, he freaks out a bit, and then feels awful because of how it upset Ko. It's all super adorable. And then they end up on a double date with Narumi and Hirotaka, which is adorable, and also really good for them. They're all very geeky, and it's super cute. Even though Naoya doesn't quite understand just how much of an otaku any of these people are.
He's literally so cute it hurts me. I love him so much it doesn't make sense.
I need more of this so badly, I'm probably going to end up watching the anime while I wait.