Arata: The Legend Vol. 1, by Yuu Watase 

This Review is Spoiler Free

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Completely disinterested. That’s how I felt about this series at first. I came across  this series a few years ago, took one look at the cover, and decided it wasn’t for me. I figured that was the end, but a few months ago I was forced into a game of Jack in the Box. No matter where I went- online forums, the library, Goodreads recommendations, random book comments- this series would make an appearance. To be honest it started to creep me out, and so (of course) I became interested enough to give it a try! I have never been so happy to be stalked by an inanimate object before 😃

Synopsis: On one side you have Arata. This young adult is the next in line to lead the Hime Clan- long line of females who, every 30 years, have proudly produced a new ruling princess for the kingdom. Only thing is…Arata is a boy.

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On the the other side we have the leading protagonist, Arata Hinohara, a regular high school student with great athletic skills and the grades to go with it, seems to just be starting over from a complicated past. That is, until said past seems to follow him to his new school.

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These two very different worlds clash when Arata (the Hime Clan leader), is falsely charged with the murdering the ruling Princess during a sacred succession ceremony and chased into the human devouring forest.

This is when Hinohara (the regular school student) takes centre stage. As the mysterious forest forces a body swap between these two characters, Hinohara finds himself in a magical kingdom being hunted down by the 12 Sho (12 chosen rulers welding the most powerful Kamui– gods in the form of weapons).    

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Rating: 9/10 Unicorn Horns!

Needless to say this was an unexpectedly non-stop, action packed read. The action and adventure the series begins with only continues to increase as Hinohara finds his place in the new fantasy world, and discovers a power of his own. The characters, setting, dialogue (the humours banter was a real bonus), and touch of romance, are all things that came together to make this one of my favourite series.

A big part of what makes this series great for me is the main character Hinohara. The way he faces and overcomes his own weaknesses, quickly becoming a stronger person who does his best to actively grow and stick to his moral convictions is something that I find was approached/written beautifully (. I recommend this one to any action, adventure, and fantasy lover! 

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There is also a 12-episode anime version if you want to check it out. Though it covers only a very small portion of the manga, it does adapt most of the important parts (with a few changes of course) up until the last few episodes where events start showing up out of chronological order.

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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!

 

 

 

 

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. 

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…

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

*This Review Is Spoiler Free*

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Buy it at Chapters/Indigo

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Buy it at Amazon

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.

One Lovely Blog Award!

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RULES:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog
  2. Add the One Lovely Blog Award to your post
  3. Share 7 things about yourself
  4. Pass this on to as many people as you like (max 15)
  5. Include this set of rules
  6. Inform your nominees

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They have all been very late, but I’m incredibly happy to have gotten so many awards for the blog! A big thank you to Sophie for this nomination! If you don’t already know Sophie’s Blame It On Chocolate Blog is filled with a ton of great book reviews using unique and mouth watering chocolate graphics, and an occasional post on other things like Loot Creates and anime reviews. You can view her blog and her fun to read award answers by clicking: here.

7 More Unicorn Facts

1) My first ever tattoo! I’ve LOVED the look of tattoos so naturally I have always wanted to get one, but have kept putting it off. Seeing as how I’m such an indecisive person, I was afraid I’d quickly grow bored of something so permanent. Now after doing tons of research and thinking I’ve finally figured out what I’d like to do! And am sure I won’t regret my choice.giphy (2)

2) Disney, Pixtar, DreamWorks, etc. I love them ALL. I sometimes get odd looks when I admit this one, but I still love watching animated kids movies. Even in theaters. It helps to have younger relatives to take to the movies.

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3) I have always been into various arts and crafts and D-I-Y projects. I often find myself looking up new D-I-Y projects, trying to figure out how to do various arts and crafts (mainly book related) thing myself. Making my own bookmarks, bookends, and bookish bracelets are just some of the things I’ve tried out. 

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4) As a kid I used to bring just about any stray- a ton of cats- home. This…unfortunately included a couple wild animals (a few baby birds and a squirrel). So even though I was really quiet and usually opted not to socialize with the human race, I quickly became the go-to person in my neighborhood for petsitting and most animal related problems.

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5) I’ve got a green thumb. Keeping and caring for all those animals, both stray and pets alike was all quite costly…much too costly. So now, until I’m certain I can financially afford it, I’ve substituted said stray animals and pets with dozens of houseplants. 

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6) Recently I somehow came to develop a “strong appreciation” (a.k.a borderline obsession) with art books for anime/manga. It makes sense in a way considering my habit of looking up fan art on anime/manga I really enjoyed and lovingly gazing at posters, but I can’t say I thought I’d ever be so into it.

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7) Lastly, I am an expert at procrastination. I have tried many times to properly schedule things so I don’t leave it to the last minute, but for unknown reasons it usually doesn’t work out…

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Nominations:

  1. The Book Heathen
  2. Kirsty’s Book Reviews
  3. The Book of Meghan
  4. Myopinionsblog
  5. Media Shadow Reads
  6. Pokeninja@ bakphoontyphoon
  7. MorganFaye @mybookjourneysite
  8. Eve Messenger
  9. Ayesha @The Writing Whale
  10. Daiyamanga

*I look forward to reading everyone’s response, but of course there is no pressure to get to it right away or to do it if you already have multiple times :)*

The Versatile Blogger Award

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Rules
  • Show the award on your blog & thank the person who nominated you
  • Share 7 different facts about yourself
  • Nominate 15 blogs of your choice
  • Link your nominees & let them know of your nomination

THANK YOU SO MUCH! I was nominated to do The Versatile Blogger Award by Sophie at the *A-M-A-Z-I-N-G* Blame It On Chocolate Blog! Sophie nominated me quite a while ago, so most of you may have read what they wrote for this Award, but if you haven’t please head over there and read the post that they did for The Versatile Blogger AwardWell, seeing as how it has taken me so long to get around to doing this post…let’s jump right in! 

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The 7 Unicorn Facts 
  1. It is incredibly difficult for me to pass disorganized and improperly shelved books at the bookstore and be able to resist the urge to rearrange them correctly. Even my bookish best friend sometimes can’t hold back from chuckling at me when I’m reorganizing shelves on one of our many trips to Chapters.                                             giphy (4)
  2. Let me preface this fact by just stating that I do not own a VCR. However, I do own a VHS collection of mostly children movies. It’s mostly for nostalgic purposes…or so I shall say because hilariously enough, I started collecting them after not having a VCR for years upon years. So, yup I’m going to play the nostalgia card on that one!   giphy (3)
  3. I can “play” the Violin, Piano, and Guitar. I can play each with a varying degree of skill and I’m not a prodigy or anything with any of those instruments, but I absolutely love it.                                                                                                                        giphy (2)
  4. Almost everyone I eventually become acquainted with says that when they first met me they thought I was incredibly quiet, unapproachable, and reserved. Although I do have a case of RBF, I’m actually quite “haunted” and have random outbursts of giddy foolishness that most would never have expected from me…well, that is until they really get to know me and then I feel comfortable enough to be my genuine weird, creepy self around them. blwtnbtcmaeugvg
  5. I LOVE DESSERTS! I just love them so much! A lot of people prefer savoury foods over sweet foods, but I’m a definite sweets lover. I have a particularly prominent obsession with cookies. Team Dessert all the way 🙂   giphy (1)
  6. I adore art and creativity. I am not an artist, by any stretch of the imagination, but I love sketching, painting and making drawings of the most random stuff. I have absolutely no skill on a level that I could allow myself to consider myself an artist, but I love creating and illustrating, and it’s one of my longest maintained hobbies.giphy  
  7. I have an incredibly huge weak spot for boxed sets of novels, manga, and graphic novels. There’s just something about having a collection, or portion, of a series contained within a uniformed and beautifully decorated box! In my defense…it’s both practical (for storage and preservation purposes) and cost effective to collect a series in a boxset.  

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The 15 Nominees 
  1. Ryuji’s Anime Review 
  2. Fragglepuss 
  3. D Talks Anime 
  4. Melting Pots And Other Calamities 
  5. 100 Word Anime  
  6. Mel To The Any  
  7. MovieJoltz   
  8. Redheaded Book Lover  
  9. Emma the Book Lover 
  10. Hit or Miss Books  
  11. Doddy About Books 
  12. Purple Pancake Blog 
  13. The Book Heathen  
  14. Books We Left Unread   
  15. It’s A Reader’s Life   

I will contact each nominee throughout the week and let you all know that you’ve been nominated. I tried to make sure that everyone I nominated had not already done this Award, or at the very least, had not done it in the past few months! I look forward to reading all of your posts for the Versatile Blogger Award! 

THANKS FOR READING!

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