Friday, 17 November 2017

Manga: Rokka Vol 4

Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers Vol 4
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

It all comes down to this: Adlet's last chance to expose the seventh! If he can't figure out who the traitor is in time, his life will be forfeit. He'll have to pull out all the stops--and accept a little timely help from an unlikely ally--to save the day. All will be revealed in this final volume of ROKKA!

It's finally here...the final showdown and the big reveal! This volume starts off throwing you right in to the action as Adlet is battling Mora.....and Nashetania comes to join in. Nashetania is super creepy...just saying. She pulls a Jekyll and Hyde this volume and I've never seen someone go from kind of innocent to super shady so fast. 

Volume Four is pretty heavy with the action as we have some epic fight scenes, and a nice fast pace throughout. The battle scenes are drawn brilliantly, providing you with a sense of the speed and tension. Everything is laid out so well, and the seventh is finally revealed bit by tantalising bit! The tension leading up to this moment has been brilliantly done, as has the suspicion. Keeping you on your toes, making sure you never know for definite who it is. Clues changing your opinion each volume. It's hard to know who to trust in this volume...even Adlet at points! 

The smart explanations and tricks have been a lot of fun to read about, and there's even more thrown in to this volume! Now, this says it's the final volume buuuuttt it does throw a cheeky little cliffhanger in at the end! Rokka has been quiet the wild ride, and this manga adaption of the light novel has been brilliantly done! It's kept everything that I loved so much about the light novel and brought it to life, adding another dimension to the story and adding some nice details! 

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Review: The Dark Days Pact

The Dark Days Pact
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

June 1812. Just weeks after her catastrophic coming-out ball, Lady Helen Wrexhall—now disowned by her uncle—is a full member of the demon-hunting Dark Days Club. Her mentor, Lord Carlston, has arranged for Helen and her maid, Darby, to spend the summer season in Bristol, where Helen can sharpen her Reclaimer powers. Then the long-term effects of Carlston’s Reclaimer work take hold, and his sanity begins to slip. At the same time, Carlston’s Dark Days Club colleague and nemesis will stop at nothing to bring Helen over to his side—and the Duke of Selburn is determined to marry her. The stakes are ever higher for Helen, and her decision will truly change the world…

Okay, you guys know that The Dark Days Pact is one of my favourite books ever right?! So you can imagine how I've been anticipating this book, I made time to re-read DDP and everything. This book was everything I was hoping for in a sequel. Genuinely. Fair warning there's going to be a good chunk of reacting in this review because there's so much I need to discuss! 

As we embark upon The Dark Days Pact, four weeks have passed since the end of the last book and Helen is dealing with the fallout from the events of her ball and is in the midst of training to become a Reclaimer. Now, I need to talk about the characters a little bit. 

There's plenty of familiar faces from the first book! Margaret....sorry but she annoyed the living hell out of me in this book. I kinda wanted to just be like "my love, have you heard the saying 'if you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all?'" she's so critical and just...rargh. I know why. But still. Interestingly enough, I really warmed up to Hammond in this book. There's an interesting reveal about him, and considering the time period I was surprised but also intrigued. He's not got it easy. I really enjoyed getting to know him more and see more of him in this book. He and Helen actually make quite a good team, and towards the end of the book he comes in to his own as he makes his own stand. 

Helen is still my favourite. I love her. She's a badass. She's really comes in to her own in this book, she's working out what it means to be a part of the Dark Days Club, what she needs to do and how her power works and what she can do with it. She's determined to protect those she cares about and she goes through the wringer in this book, and has so much thrown at her...but she still manages to retain her charming personality and mostly keep a level head. I love how she's a badass one minute...and then shows some vulnerability the next, it keeps her very realistic and you root for her. In my opinion, she spends a lot of this book with men trying to control her. I would have decked someone, but she manages to remain ladylike. Pike, Selburn etc...I felt frustrated for her and it must be stifling, yet she comes through it all. Mostly.

Selburn...oh Selburn. How I wanted to punch you. He was really getting on my wick in this one, I'm not going to lie. Like go away. Things happen and then some more things and how things end up with him and Helen...I may or may not have screeched in anger. This is the book that made me really dislike him as a character. He refuses to listen to what Helen has to say, won't do as she says when that's essentially his job, and just ignores whatever she says or tells him to do because he thinks he knows better. I know that's just how things where but sweet lord it was frustrating. Helen won't stand for it, so I'm anticipating a lot of head butting between the two in the next book. 

Carlston is still my favourite. I ship he and Helen. I always have and I always will. There's a love triangle, and there's some more romance in this book and it was cute and had me squealing, but things aren't going to be easy after the revelations of this book. I'm Team Carlston all the way. Some of the questions we have about him get answered in this book...but then we have more and he's in an interesting situation, as is Helen by the end of the book. Poor old Carlston doesn't have an easy time this book and I just need for everything to work out *sobs*. 

There's some interesting new characters introduced in this book. Pike....well it was hate at first sight. Sorry not sorry. I spent half the book wanting to punch him and the other half wanting to punch Selburn. I totally wouldn't have survived in Regency England. Stokes was amusing and I quite liked him, it was nice to meet another Reclaimer! Plus through him we learned about another one who's on Helens side! We finally meet Delia too! I got where she was coming from, and I could sympathise with her but I still wanted to give her a shake in the beginning. I ended up really coming to like her, she does the unexpected and it was nice to see Helen have another friend to lean on. Im' wondering if she might have a bigger role to play in the next book as she seems determined to stick with Helen and do the job she's been given. Sprat...we see her briefly, but she made quite the impression. I'm counting on Helen to give her a job! 

Once again, Goodman brings in so much historical fact effortlessly woven with the fiction. It really transports you to the time, and I've been to Brighton multiple times for the beach, or the shopping or for gigs, it's actually not too far away from me and so I could picture everything so very clearly. The descriptions from the books superimposed themselves over the Brighton I know and I even googled some pictures! The thing I love about these books is all of the historical detail, it makes it such an authentic read. Goodman's researching blows me away because it must be so intense, I'm kind of jealous of all the resources she must have gotten to look at! I actually got to meet her at an event not too long ago and it was fascinating to hear about the research process that goes in to these books. It's mind blowing. 

The plot thickens, there's intricate plot threads woven throughout the book that all come together to make the main plot of this book and add to the over-arcing plot involving the Grand Deceiver. There's even some that continue on fro the last books, to go with the new ones. The plot is just so intricate, there's never a dull moment, your brain is always working to put the pieces together and see how everything fits. It's just so rich. There's so many epic revelations in this book, and plot twists that you find yourself reaching a point where you're holding your breath and reading as fast as you can. Things never go the way I expect, so I'm always kept on my toes and the ending...fair's kind of cruel, but in a good way. It'll kill you but you'll be happy about it because of all the implications for how awesome the next book is going to be and all the drama and such. The wait will be horrendous though but it's always worth it when it comes to this series. 

Like I previously mentioned regarding Carlston we get some answers about him and his past, and there's some other answers we get too, but Goodman isn't revealing all of the cards up her sleeve as we still have a couple of mysteries waiting to be solved. Helen's parents for one, and how the answers we did get will play out and come in to the story. I won't go in to too much detail because I don't want to spoil the surprise, but things have definitely taken an interesting turn for our group, shall we say? 

The Dark Days Pact moves at a nice pace, embellishing the world with historical tidbits, and bringing it to rich life. There's a rich plot to match a rich setting, and we get to see some more of Regency England, as well as learning more about the Dark Days Club and the characters, both supporting and main. We get to see some of the characters interact with each other more too and build up new friendships and alliances. The plot goes deeper and deeper, and more elements are brought in to go with the plot twists and revelations. We also get out next destination....Bath! Finally! I've been waiting to head to Bath! 

Fantasy and the supernatural blend with history and fiction with a smidge of romance. This is genuinely one of the best YA historical reads out there, every page is rich, and intricate and just pulls you straight in and Helen is a character you can empathise with and root for. She's even pretty relatable at points too! 

Manga: Gabriel Dropout

Gabriel Dropout Volume 1 
Rating: 3/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

A fallen angel with falling grades! Gabriel White Tenma has descended from heaven to attend high school and guide humanity, but a newly found video game addiction might say otherwise.

I thought this sounded quite fun, and like something a bit different from the usual manga about angels and so on! Gabriel was top of the class up in Heaven, Valedictorian and everything, but when she descends to Earth to help all of us out...things go downhill. 

Congrats fellow humans, we corrupted an angel with MMO games and junk food! And possibly anime by the look of the suspiciously One Piece-ish DVD case in one frame! Gabriel has become lazy and super snarky. It's brilliant. 

The art and characters are really cute, I'm not going to lie and the volume had me chuckling from the beginning! Gabriel's language is freaking hilarious, she's down with the kids, shall we say! Along with Gabriel we have a couple of other characters. Vigne who provides us with the awkward moment when the devil is better behaved than the angel! I actually really like her and it'll be fun to see more of her! 

Satanya was freaking hilarious with her "acts of evil" she might even be my favourite character. I just loved her, and couldn't help but cackle along with her!

Gabriel Dropout is an amusing slice of life that'll have you cackling as much as Satanya! The characters are fun and well as super memorable! The series should be interesting going forward, I'm intrigued to see what'll happen to Gabriel and if she'll pull herself together or not! 

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Manga: Your Name Vol 2

Your Name Vol 2
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

The second installment of the manga adaptation of the film that took the world by storm!

There's no synopsis for this volume, so I'll give you a little bit of a run down on what to expect from this volume!

So the last volume ended on a pretty major cliffhanger, with our two main characters no longer swapping bodies and I've been super excited to see what's going to happen next and how it plays out! This volume focuses on Taki as he sets out to find Mitsuha and where she lives and tries to figure out what's going on. Taki gets his sleuth on basically!

Literally as soon as we start reading this volume, within the first chapter...there's another huge plot twist and I was like "Whaaaaaaaaaattt?! What's happening?!" and my brain was kind of trying to reconfigure, as it where, to work out how it all fit together. This actually happened a lot over the course of the volume, I'm not going to lie... 

This series keeps taking turns that I don't expect and the more I read the more it twists and changes. I think it's going to be one thing or one thing is going to happen...and then there's a plot twist and the story becomes something else and then it does it again...and again. It certainly keeps me on my toes! It also leaves me on another cliffhanger, although admittedly not quite so bad as the one from the first volume! I definitely had to take a moment to mentally sort through everything once I'd finished reading! 

I also have to comment on the art, because it's really well done! The landscapes in this volume are gorgeous, as is the art that Taki drew!

Your Name's second volume moves along at a nice, fast pace, with no faffing about and it completely changes how you look at the story. Everything you thought you knew was apparently wrong, and this is going in a completely different direction to the one that I thought it was! 

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Manga: The Case Study of Vanitas Vol 3

The Case Study of Vanitas Volume 3
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

The masked ball has ended, but the music plays on. As Noe and Vanitas return disgraced from Altus, the curtain rises on a new battle. News of kidnapped curse-bearers sends the pair to the catacombs beneath the streets of Paris, where a melody of intrigue echoes and a superhuman foe awaits! Humans or vampires: Who will be the hunter, and who the hunted? 

I've told you guys that this is my favourite manga right? I literally sit with each new volume and savour every single page. It's so. Freaking. Good! The stunning colour pages, cover and art should be framed, I'm not going to lie. I'm forever blown away by the detail in the art, the castle in particular is stunning in this volume! 

Ruthven takes Noe and Vanitas under his protection after the chaos at the masked ball comes to a close. Ruthven and Noe are equally nerdy and it turns out he has a connection to Noe's teacher...and the teacher doesn't like him which should be interesting. I'm intrigued by Ruthven but I really don't trust him. He's shady, despite how well we get to know him. 

I really love the developing friendship between Noe and Vanitas, their bickering is hilarious and in this volume, Noe decides he's sticking with Vanitas....and thus a bromance is born. Which would have been cute, and I totally would have been squealing over it if there hadn't been an ominous voice over to go with it that gives me the shivers. I have a feeling this manga is going to emotionally traumatise me....eventually. The waiting for it to happen might push me over the edge! 

We learn some very interesting information about Luca...Ruthvens nephew. He really doesn't like poor old Vanitas...but it's going to be interesting to see how much of a presence he's going to have in the series after the reveal about who he is. I was actually quite surprised plus he gives away another interesting tidbit. 

Vanitas knows Jeanne's secret and is kind of keeping quiet on a couple of conditions...I wouldn't go so far as to say blackmail but he's not very far off so I'm expecting to be seeing more of her and quite probably Luca. Vanitas is such a little sod and I can't work out if he's being genuine with Jeanne...if he is there's the potential for some romance in this volume. But the voice over is giving me pause. 

Noe and Dominique also have a little bit of a moment which was kind of there's potential romance on two fronts. I do actually really like Dominique, and I'm itching to see more of her. She's a badass and she's funny too...and to be fair, she and Noe are cute! But there's also some hints about the future and it's not looking good, particularly for Noe and Vanitas. Something bad is going to go down but it's just trying to figure out what so you can prepare yourself! 

As usual, there's some really nice historical details and touches throughout this volume. There's even some specific historical information about certain things from the volume. I know more than I ever knew before about Tarte Tatin. I feel like I'm quite the expert now. 

We're provided with some clues and hints about the plot and the mysteries presented to us. One of those clues involves the Queen and Vanitas....charmer that he is, ignites Ruthven's rage and manages to get them booted out of Altus and back in to the human world. So a good chunk of this volume is set in Paris. We get an excellently drawn outing to Notre-Dame Cathedral, and the ever creepy Paris catacombs. Seriously. Way to make a drawing exude creepiness. 

Vampires are going missing, and our little duo arrive back in time to get pulled in to it. I get some very Sherlock and Watson vibes from the two of them in this volume. We also get introduced to the Church's anti vampire unit...and what a bunch of charmers they are *eye roll*. They're a new player/force in the plot and Roland is, quite frankly, super creepy. Like seriously. Make him go away! 

There's also a shadowy new figure introduced who happens to be linked to Vanitas and I'm sure we're heading towards getting some answers about him! Dante and co aka the Dhamphir trio make an appearance and I do love their banter! Vanitas and Noe are quite the team, when they're not bickering, and this volume really showcases that. 

We're steadily being led towards the next part of the story, presumably finding out more about the missing vampires and having another plot thread tied off! The plot is so intricate with the main plot, and some side plots that tie in smoothly and provide little tidbits and clues. The new plot threads introduced in this volume serve to flesh out the story and characters more, and add some more intricacy to the rich world of this series! 

Each volume of this series is such a joy to read, there's action, humour, a rich world and plot...and lively, intriguing characters who interact with each other in interesting ways. If you haven't checked out this series yet, then you're really missing out! It's one of the best ones out there! I genuinely find it hard to put in to words the awesomeness of this series! This volume adds more detail, more characters, and more mystery and intrigue! Each volume takes things deeper, and pulls you in more and more.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Manga: Clockwork Planet 5

Clockwork Planet Vol 5
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Even though AnchoR is RyuZU's little sister, her immense power poses a threat to Naoto and the crew. When the two siblings confront each other, an explosive battle ensues that bends time and space! Even RyuZU's Imaginary Time and her unique power, Mute Scream, may not be able to best an automaton built to destroy. Meanwhile, in Akihabara, a massive weapon appears, leaving the city's armed forces at a loss. If Grid Akihabara falls, all of Japan may be in danger. Can Naoto handle a weapon strong enough to break the entire Clockwork Planet?

I am forever blown away by the full colour pages at the beginning of these volumes! They're so well coloured and drawn and aaaahhh! This volume starts off tense, with the big showdown between RyuZU and AnchoR, and we get a nice action filled start! I have to say, I really, really love how the battle was drawn, and how RyuZU's power was drawn too! It was incredibly well done. 

We get to know AnchoR as she joins our team officially once everything calms down, and we get another new character too in the form of may remember him from one of the other volumes. Of course, he's missing his body now and only has his head but at least he's still alive and kicking...sort of. He should be a fun presence and should shake the team up a bit, changing the dynamic and providing some of the banter. 

Once the big showdown is over....there's a hint it might calm down. But it's not all over yet, something bigger is coming. A giant electro magnetic weapon breaks through to the surface and it's shady operator thinks Naoto is Y. I'm kind of inclined to agree with him to be honest. I'm not sure what his ultimate plan is but he's the bad guy right now! 

We close the volume with the weapon undefeated and everyone in peril because it has the power to completely wipe Japan off the grid. The government are scrambling with no idea what to do and there's a mysterious new girl who seems to know Marie in the palace. Now that we have AnchoR on our team, I feel like things are about to shift up a gear again. With each new arc things take a step up and get more and more high stakes. More elements and dangers are being brought in, along with plot threads and intricacies and conspiracies and so on. Not to mention the hints about Y! I'm forever trying to work things out and failing epically! 

This volume has a nice pace to it, and provides us with plenty more intrigues and another potential new showdown! So far, there's never a dull moment with this series! 
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