Half a King (A Shattered Sea novel) by Joe Abercrombie

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I’d be surprised if any of you actually remember (I certainly didn’t until recently lol), but some time ago I had made a resolution, which only lasted a couple weeks, to actually read some of my most neglected possessions. This is one of the many series I’ve had on my shelf for more than a year that I finally got around to reading. I’ve been hearing the hype about Abercrombie for a long time so, as I’ve yet to reading something by him, I decided this would be a good way to get back in to my forgotten resolution. Glad to say I’ve found myself another favoured author!

Half a King is an Abercrombie Y.A. fantasy series (a complete trilogy), and revolves around the young crippled prince of Gettland named Yarvi. The story begins as Yari studies to become part of an order of scholars, history keepers, linguists and anthropologists, geographers, and philosophers who’s craft is knowledge of all kinds.  These Ministers, who often act as advisers to high ranking officials and royals, live the kind of knowledge driven lifestyle that is everything Yarvi could hope for. Unfortunately, of course, things don’t go as planned as the night before Yarvi is to become an official Minister, his uncle brings the unwelcome news that both his father and older brother were murdered. This leaves the only remaining heir, constantly taunted and called “half a man“, to sit on the throne.

Rating: 9/10 Unicorns Horns!

This is a series I would recommend to most fantasy readers, as it has many of the elements that makes this genre so appealing: mystery, political power plays, betrayal, adventure, and a touch of darkness. This fast paced novel was honestly one of he best fantasy reads I’ve come across. Each and every character is this book was amazing. They stood out to me as unique in there own right. Yarvi, the underdog of this wonderfully crafted story, is an amazingly sharp and quick witted character that plays well to his own strengths and limitations. He felt quite human to me and even his weak moments were relatable rather than grating. His companions and other supporting characters, of which I cannot give too much away, were all…well except for one…people who I’d love to get to know more about and made me want to keep reading, sometimes even more than the actual story itself did.

I have more questions than ever after finishing Half a War than most other series I have read lately. It’s a pleasant surprise how much this book got me thinking, and how much I found myself excitedly trying to read into the smallest of comments, actions, and events thinking it might to a clue to the many mysteries this book held. I cannot wait to get on the the next one!

 

 

 

 

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Seiho Boys High School, Vol. 1 by Kaneyoshi Izumi

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I still question my decision to do a review on this 8 volume manga series, and not because I didn’t wholly enjoy it. In fact, my hesitation comes from the fact that I not only enjoyed it, but from time to time found myself suffering from convulsions of laughter. Normally that’s simply a good thing, but I must admit that some of the often vulgar and at best inappropriate humour may have crossed lines here and there.

Synopsis: Seiho Boys High School is more or less exactly what the name implies. Despite being a shojo manga (Japanese comic targeted for young adult girls), the story centers a group of young males at an all male boarding high school in the middle of nowhere. The POV starts with a young 16yr old named Maki, but often switches between the small group of friends as the lament and curse their fate of being stranded without any female in sight. Worrying about forgetting how to talk to girls, past issues, grades, and getting caught with their secret stashes during inspections are just some of the typical things these boys get themselves caught up in as they search for love…or simply to get laid.

Rating: I rate this hilarious contemporary 8/10 Unicorn Horns!

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This ‘crossing of lines’ is something to be expected when a genre challenging series such as this hits the shelves. This shojo challenges it’s typical predecessors in two ways; It’s entirely male centered cast of characters, and it’s incredibly ‘inappropriate for it’s genre’ type of humour. Personally, with the exception of one character’s actions when it came to women, I didn’t see much wrong with the blunt sexual humour, but can easily say that many could find the more…unapologetic and inappropriate scenes/comments offensive. So a big warning to those that would be put off by raunchy humour.

The only negative thing I have to say about this series, other than a couple personally line crossing comments, is that this hilarious contemporary read does loose momentum in later installments as things begin to feel a bit repetitive here and there, or seemed to lack direction (something I believe the author pointed out themselves). Otherwise I loved the characters and the humour even more than I did the overall episodic story of a group of boys struggling to find love and keep it (though that was pretty funny in and of itself). 

I recommend this to anyone looking for some good romantic comedy, with an emphasis on comedy of the inappropriate kind.

Talon by Julie Kagawa

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I’ve been waiting to read this series since the first time I heard the premise. A book about dragons in a modern day setting? Count me in! So of course I dived in the moment I saw the last book in this 5 book series set to publish next year. Overall I enjoyed the read, but unfortunately I have to day I may have over-hyped the series a bit.

Synopsis: Talon is set in modern day California and follows main character Ember Hill as she and her twin brother, Dante, are finally set free to complete the final part of their training to successfully infiltrate human society for a few months in incognito. Ember and Dante must learn about the outside world of dangerous humans, how to act and be one of them, all in order to continue to provide and keep safe their secret society of ancient dragons masquerading as humans (known as Talon). And of course, there is the evil society of dragon hunters of watch out for. But things aren’t what they seem. After Ember comes across a dangerous rogue dragon named Cobalt begins to question everything she’s been taught and been training for her whole life.

Rating: 6.5-out-of-10 Unicorn Horns.

Overall I enjoyed this story and the magical otherworldly aspects. The way the dragons have evolved and adapted over time in order to assimilate into human society is something that has kept me interested enough to keep picking up the next in the series. Normally this is the kind of story I love to pieces; ancient dragons, secretive societies, mysterious-not-what-they-appear characters, and a defiant, strong heroine, but the characters seemed to fall a bit flat. I kept recognizing them in the many other similar Y.A characters I’ve come across, and so found them all a bit too predictable for my liking. The only characters that really stood out to me were a couple antagonists.

Even though the story is interesting, I felt that the characters brought things down for me, that and everything seemed to be heading down an all too predictable road. I’d still recommend this book to teen urban fantasy lovers as the story begins to grow more complex in later installments, but would warn away those looking for stories with unique characters/character driven stories. 

Book Blogger Insider Tag

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First, I want to extend a very big Thank You to Louise at geniereads for tagging me to do the Book Blogger Insider Tag! Also, thanks to Jamie at A Little Slice of Jamie for creating this Tag! 

It’s great to finally get around to completing the Book Blogger Insider Tag now that hiatus has ended. I am excited to answer these questions and hope that you all enjoy them.  

The Rules

1. Answer the Questions

2. Credit the Creator 

3. Tag 5 People 

4. Have Fun! 

So here goes….

1. Where do you typically write your blog posts?

Well, I usually write my blog posts on a laptop or desktop computer. Historically, I don’t have the greatest luck with using the App for writing posts…I’m just not tech savvy enough to get things to format correctly on there. In terms of physical location, I generally am either at home, on my commute to/from work, or at my desk at work on my break when I write blog posts.

2. How long does it generally take you to 
write a book review?

It honestly depends on the review! I’ve had book reviews that I’ve been able to have written and edited in about an hour and there are others that I’ve spaced out over a few days and written a few sentences or a paragraph at a time.

3. When did you start your book blog?

The official start of this Blog was on July 19, 2016. OMG, I completely missed the Anniversary while I was on hiatus….which just makes me feel worse about it! I don’t think I like this question lol. Book Blogging is an incredibly amazing experience and I have been absolutely loving it!

4. What is the worst thing about having 
a book blog in your opinion?

Ummmm…this is a hard one! I think that finding a balance between blogging and dealing with all the things of life that are happening outside of the internet. It has been an interesting ordeal to find a way to prioritize blogging and meet other obligations.

5. What is the best thing about having 
a book blog in your opinion?

By far, and I think this is true for most Book Bloggers, having a space to talk -and geek the hell out- about the books that I have read.

6. What blog post have you had 
the most fun writing so far?

The post that I had the most fun writing was my Congratulations Me post where I announced the official beginning of this Blog. It’s the most “fun” because it’s technically the post that started, and kicked off, this entire experience!

7. What is your favorite type of blog post to write?

BOOK REVIEWS!!! These types of posts are the main purpose and driving force behind this Blog. They’re the reason I was inspired to begin this experience.

8. When do you typically write?

I tend to write whenever I can. Due to my work schedule I am unable to really find a set time that I am able to dedicate to blogging.

9. Do you review every book you read?

NOPE! I don’t want to say that it would be impossible, but I don’t know how’d I’d get anything else done…or at the very least I would have to cut down on reading time and use that time to write reviews. Which in some way feels like it would be defeating the purpose.

10. How do you write your book reviews? 
With a cup of coffee or tea? 
With Netflix? Cuddled with your fur baby?

Ideally with no distractions around. I am very easily distracted and so I try to have as little temptations around as possible.

11. When do you write your book reviews? 
Right after finishing the book? 
Two weeks after finishing the book?

It depends…some of the reviews I’ve written have been on books that I read before even starting this blog. With books that I have read recently, or specifically for the purposes of reviewing, I try to sit with the story for a few days before writing out my thoughts. I try to take some time to gather my thoughts and feelings about the story and find ways to best communicate those things through writing….especially if I had very strong feelings about the book.

12. How often do you post?

I post Book Reviews twice per week (Tuesdays and Fridays). I also post a Highlight/Wrap-Up post and an Original Content post each month.

Tag, you're it!!!

Annike and Zoe @ Twin Tales

Krysti @ YA and Wine

Late Night Reading

Anime Girls NYC

Ayesha @ The Writing Whale

Also, anyone who would like to do this Tag, but hasn’t been officially tagged yet….go for it! 

*NO PRESSURE to any of the Bloggers to complete this Tag or respond right away! I did try to check to make sure that you all participate in Tags and/or have not done The Book Blogger Tag as yet. If you are unable to participate please consider this an Honorable Mention! Thanks All!

 

Pre-Hiatus Review Highlights

Hey guys! I’d just like to do an overall highlight of some of the reviews posted before I went on hiatus. I missed doing one for the months prior and would still like to highlight a few, so here’s a condensed overview of the reviews I posted before going on break (Click on the title to read more):

Best Snowball (Series)
*By “Snowball” I mean a series/book that starts incredibly slow, but is worth the wait*

Shaman King, Vol.1: A Shaman in Tokyo by Hiroyuki Takei

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The series is about a young Shaman named Yoh, who in the first volume is starting at a new school in Tokyo…Through a series of events which involve ghosts, supernatural occurrences, and encounters with a “thug” named Ryu, Manta and Yoh become friends…In this volume we are introduced to Admidamaru, a 600-year-old samurai ghost and to a fellow Shaman named Ren who has a particularly sinister interest in Yoh and Admidamaru…

I give Shaman King, Vol. 1: A Shaman in Tokyo a rating of 7 out of 10 Unicorn Horns. Overall the story was not amazingly entertaining, but that did not bother me at all because the story quickly picks up towards the end and you can easily identify the main focus/purpose of this initial volume in the series.

Best Artwork

Locke & Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodríguez

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After their father is killed, Tyler, Kinsey and Bode move to the family estate, Keyhouse in Lovecraft, Massachusetts with their mother Nina….The youngest of the Lovecraft siblings, Bode, comes across a key that unlocks a Ghost Door which separates the soul of the person who “walks” through from their body. In the nature of all good fiction the story is not easy sailing from then on and the family soon has much more to worry about than just healing and moving forward.

I give Locke and Key a well deserved 7.25 Unicorn Horns out of a possible 10. In addition to the well executed storyline this graphic novel has exceptional artwork. Gabriel Rodríguez’s illustrations in this series is mind-blowing and his art style lends itself so well to the story.

Best Character Development

Yona of the Dawn, Vol. 1 by Mizuho Kusanagi

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Yona of the Dawn is a fantasy set in a kingdom called Kohka. The story centers around main character princess Yona as she prepares for her 16th birthday. Yona, the only child of widow King IL, is a pampered young lady, but things quickly change. Very quickly. As most know nothing good happens for royalty on their coming-of-age birthdays. 

Rating: 8.5/10 Unicorn Horns. I did NOT at all expect for this story to turn out the way it did. I can promise watching this fiery spirited princess transition into a determined warrior with open eyes to the reality of her kingdom is every bit worth it.

Most Thought-Provoking Story

The Beauty, Vol. 1 by Jason A. Hurley & Jeremy Haun

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“Two years ago , a new sexually transmitted disease took the world by storm. This S.T.D. was unlike any other that had come before. This was a disease that people actually wanted. “Victims” of this epidemic were physically changed by the virus. Fat melted away, thinning hair returned, skin blemishes faded, and their facial features slimmed. It became known as the beauty.” Pg. 1 of The Beauty

Rating: 9.5/10 Unicorn Horns! One thing I loved was the bits of real life socially controversial thoughts and ideas about beauty woven in here and there…

The Beauty, Vol. 1 by Jason A. Hurley & Jeremy Haun

*This Review is Spoiler Free*

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Buy it at Chapters/Indigo

Buy it at Barnes & Noble

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To be completely honest I had actually completely forgotten I had this book in my collection. I was doing a major bookshelf dusting and was on the shelf holding my graphic novels when BAM! I got to this cover and was unnervingly surprised. I lovingly…and possibly a little creepily…consider all my books “my children”, so to come across one I barely remember receiving as a gift was quite the shock. So of course considering I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately (hence the recent overabundance of manga/comic reviews lol), but am almost always up for a bit of horror I decided to give this neglected volume some much needed love. 

Synopsis: I like to put things in my own words, but the opening first few pages honestly sum things up quite perfectly so I can’t help but just quote it (Pgs 1-2 of The Beauty):

Two years ago , a new sexually transmitted disease took the world by storm. This S.T.D. was unlike any other that had come before. This was a disease that people actually wanted. “Victims” of this epidemic were physically changed by the virus. Fat melted away, thinning hair returned, skin blemishes faded, and their facial features slimmed. It became known as the beauty. The beauty quickly became a fad. Suddenly, perfect skin, flawless features, and a gorgeous body were only one sexual encounter away.

The only downside appeared to be a slight fever, but that didn’t seem to slow many people down. Now, over half the population has the beauty, and the other half of the country hates them for it. Anti-beauty cells have popped up around the nation. The majority teach preservation, reminding everyone that the beauty is still a disease. A few, however, have taken a more aggressive approach to stopping the spread of the beauty…

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Image from Pg 3. of The Beauty

Rating: 9.5/10 Unicorn Horns!

A page after such an intriguing introduction to the modern world setting of The Beauty, we meet detectives Foster and Vaughn of the local city’s Beauty Task Force as they respond to the possible anti-beauty murder of a young woman. Only once they arrive at the scene it’s clear things aren’t as they appear as the young woman, by all appearances, looked instead to have spontaneously combust while traveling on the train. Things are quickly complicated even further when the case is quickly pulled from them by the Center for Disease Control by “Federal mandate”. This leads both detectives Foster and Vaughn (an unwilling carrier of ‘the beauty’) to look into the buried secrets behind the mysterious STD and those seeming to keep this horrific secret from the general public.  

Honestly…I don’t have much negative things to say about the first installment of what looks to be a very promising adult series. The story had a really good flow to it and was riddled with action, thriller, conspiracies, and a great diverse group of characters. One thing I loved was the bits of real life socially controversial thoughts and ideas about beauty woven in here and there. The art was visually appealing, and though I can’t say the main characters were personally among my favorites they were very well created and felt pretty genuine. The only reason it’s not a 10/10 is purely because of personal reasons. I would recommend this to just about every story loving adult, but warn about explicit violence, language, and a couple nude and censored sexually explicit scenes. This was an amazing start to a series with such a unique idea I couldn’t praise it enough!

Wayward: String Theory, Vol. 1 by Zub, Cummings, Rauch, Bonvillain, & Dillon

*This Review Is Spoiler Free*

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Hey mom…I’ve been seeing invisible glowing lines in the air that lead me to important places or terrifying supernatural shit

I picked this one up by random…okay, no, that’s a lie. I picked this up and decided to review it purely because it has a ton of kitties on the cover accompanied by a chick looking like she’s ready to kick-ass. Other than that I knew nothing about this series going into it. So never expected to find that this story is almost like a Japanese comic (manga) in American comic form. 6.5/10 Unicorn Horns.

Synopsis: This story, largely translated from Japanese, begins with main character Rori Lane moving from her father in Ireland to start over with her mother in Japan. On her way home from giving her new settings in Tokyo a quick tour she gets surrounded by a clan of cats, attacked by kappa (monsters/demons from Japanese Folklore), and saved by a strange cat-like girl. This of course, along with the strange red threads only she can see, leaves her beyond confused. As she obeys her urge to follow these threads before a dark threat descends over the city, she’s lead to dive further into her strange new power, and unveil the “patterns” to the puzzle of ‘what the heck is going on?’. These patterns often lead her to a variety of new people. All with strange powers of their own.

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Overall I enjoyed this story and liked all the characters- Rori, Shirai (Rori’s first friend who has strange powers of his own and must eat living spirits in order to survive), the strange-cat-girl named Ayane, and others we meet later on. Though I have to admit, the dialogue/character interactions felt off here and there. I also can’t say the story always flowed well, as there were some odd transitions and things that didn’t quite add up or felt choppy/rushed. Either way this urban fantasy is set in a different country from what I’m use to (outside of most manga/anime I’ve read/seen), and riddled with Japanese Folklore which makes it very unique in many ways, and stands out from the crowd (there are notes in the back of the book providing snippets of background information). 

The pictures on the other hand were beautiful and I LOVED all the pretty colours. According to the forward at the beginning of this volume the scenes of Tokyo, the high school Rori attends, the city’s people, and the overall feel of Japan were truthful depictions of the country as opposed to an Americanized and glorified view. I’ve never been to Japan so can’t really comment, but will say that it was pretty cool seeing a realistic depiction of Japan in comic format (again outside of some manga/anime). 

Though the execution of the story wasn’t the best the overall idea is very intriguing, and with the way the 1st volume ended I get the feeling things will get better. Much better. I can honestly say I am looking forward to more. This wasn’t a favorite, but I’d still recommend this to most urban fantasy, folklore (especially from Japan), and superpower fans.