Mystic by Jason Denzel

Related image

Find it on Goodreads

Find it on Chapters/Indigo

Find it on Barnes & Noble

Find it on Book Depository

Fit it on Amazon

Now let go of fears. Give yourself the gift of not attaching to your worries. Show…how you give thanks for this precious life…sing me a song about you.

That one quote (edited cuz, well, spoilers) and the scene that went with it was actually a game changer for me, despite my initial feelings. This one was a random Bookoutlet find, and is one among many I picked up while binge buying fantasy series.

Synopsis: In a world of magic welders known as Mystics, and an inescapable caste system that dictates where you must live out your life, Pomella yearns to learn of the magic reserved strictly for nobles. And Pomella, much to her distress, is far from royal. That is until she receives an invitation from the prestigious High Mystic to become her apprentice. Now, with significant handicaps and a dire consequence if she fails, she must compete against 3 other nobles for the right to be the Mistresses apprentice.

Rating: 6.5/10 Unicorn Horns

I was actually pretty conflicted about this one. It’s a pretty good story, and I love the world set up, but the not so great parts stuck out too much for me to ignore. So I’ll break this up and start with the negative, ending on the positive side.

The Negative:

Main Character Pomella. You know there’s an issue when you’re 170 pages in and still trying to find reasons to like a character. I couldn’t help but be bothered by how immature and downright disrespectful she was. While I actually like snarky, and smart-ass characters, Pomella just came off as someone who is completely self-centred. Most of these actions are done under the guise of “independence”, which I was attempting to make the stretch to understand, but then her actions not 2 chapters later completely undermine all that. Which brings me to the second negative.

The romance. Nothing wrong with it in and of itself. I didn’t mind the hints of romance at the beginning, the issue came up later. It all eventually just started to feel really out of place considering Pomella’s situation, and her constant need to make her own way by herself- something she voices throughout the story. A. Lot. 

Alternative book cover (link)

The Positive:

The world building was easy to follow, and we learn along with Pomella, which was nice and info-dump free. From the abundant and mysterious spirit-like animals in the forests, to the nature filled settings, their environment is something I loved reading about.

While the story line, could maybe count as both, as it has it’s up and downs, overall I enjoyed it. It was the story and the music centred magic that kept me going when Pomella made me want to stop. Unfortunately the most amazing part of this story is in the last 7 or so chapters, but with some significant character growth from Pomella those chapters alone made me think it was worth reading. 

Lastly there was the other characters.  It was really refreshing to read a straight up fantasy featuring such a diverse cast of characters. While I don’t feel there was much depth to them, they were all undoubtedly more interesting than Pomella.  In fact, one of the major balms to putting up with Pomella was the alternative male POV, Sim. His attachment to Pomella (something that’s put out there from the first couple pages) will forever boggle my mind, but was otherwise the more interesting of the two. But of course there was the game changing character. This is the one behind the above quote who’s existence made me change my mind about writing this book off.  Of course they don’t appear till well into the book, but even if Pomella didn’t show significant growth with their help, this character would have made me want to read more just to hear more about them. 

So, I Will of course be picking up the next instalment July next year. But would only recommend this if you’re more of a story driven reader.

Mystic Dragon US cover

Advertisements

Dorohedoro Vol. 1, by Q. Hayahida

*This Review is Spoiler Free*

*Sorry for the late post and replies.  Just a bit swamped with work, but will reply soon!*

Image result for dorohedoro volume 1

Find it on Goodreads

Buy it at Chapters/Indigo

Buy it at Barnes & Noble

Buy it at Book Depository

Buy it at Amazon

Three Words: THE FIRST PAGE 

Image result for dorohedoro volume 1

tumblr_o7vk2q0nyl1ujluuso1_500200-2

umm…okay. So I realize that maybe shouldn’t be my first reaction to such a scene, but I’m fine with just blaming my horror-movie-centered-upbringing. Moving on, I actually came across this one from a Google Image search while looking up a completely unrelated series (Berserk). I saw that one picture, and of course went looking for it. Luckily I was able to pick-up the first volume at my local library.  

Synopsis: 

A blood-splattered battle between diabolical sorcerers and the monsters they created.

In a city so dismal it’s known only as “the Hole”, a clan of Sorcerers have been plucking people off the streets to use as guinea pigs for atrocious “experiments” in the black arts. 

Rating: I’m actually not sure. 7/10? 9/10? ….Guess I go with 8/10 unicorn horns!

In short, my trouble rating this comes from that fact that this is that it’s a pretty weird story, with an equally strange cast of characters (especially the antagonists). Eventually my interest in the stories many mysteries won out, but it feels like this story and it’s uniqueness are the definition of hit-or-miss. It was sometimes difficult for me to figure out if certain oddities where something I actually liked, or just downright creeped me out. And while I ended up really liking it, I could easily see why others wouldn’t.

The world of “the Hole” is still largely one big mystery by the end of the first volume. It seems like the sorcerers and the people in “the Hole” live in separate dimensions, with the former preying on the latter, but that’s just a guess. Even so, I really liked how my many questions about this unique world were answered slowly, in bits and pieces over time.

Image result for dorohedoro chapter 1

pg. 3, Vol. 1

While I can’t say I liked it all, overall the strangeness of this world/story was a plus. There were quite a few scenes that had me doing double takes thinking, “did a man’s head really just pop out of lizard-head dude’s stomach to talk to someone?”, and “did this dude really just turn his enemies into mushrooms then talk about eating them?” I thought that last one was a joke, but nope. No it was not. 

As for the characters, the ones that had me so conflicted were the antagonists (the sorcerers). They are an interesting bunch, but the five introduced in this volume are on such a different plane of weird I don’t know what to think about them.

Related image

pg. 92, Vol. 1

Though the main characters Nikaido (the girl executing that headlock-see 1st pic) and Caiman (lizard head dude) were a different story. I was, for obvious reasons, surprised to learn that these two are the main characters. But with their unexpected mildly inappropriate humour, easy banter, and the overall mystery surrounding them it didn’t take me long to like them. Nikaido is one talented and strong woman, and I can’t help but wonder what her story is, and what made her join Caiman on his quest. And as for Caiman, it was his duality and humour (he has the feel of an anti-hero) that had me interested. I couldn’t help but be drawn into his ruthless, and often bloody, quest to find the sorcerer who cast a spell on him (the spell that changed his head into a reptile, and gave him the unique power to withstand magic).

It’s all these mysteries, like the strangeness of “the Hole”, the magic system, where the sorcerers come from and why they have no qualms about committing horrible experiments on people (really, they seem to lack some serious morals in general) that drive me to want to learn more. And, of course, there’s the bit about the unknown man living inside of Caiman….And..well, okay, all the gory action is part of it. 

200-7

Needless to say, this manga definitely isn’t for everyone. Though the scenes do serve to progress the plot, or give readers a better idea of the dark type of environment these guys are in, there is quite a bit of violence, and it doesn’t dial back on the explicit images to go with it. Which reminds me…I absolutely LOVE the artwork! It’s quite detailed, especially the facial expressions and eyes!

Related image

somewhere in chapter 1, Vol. 1…I think…

Injection Vol. 1, by Ellis (story), Shalvey (art), & Bellaire (colour)

25787656

Find it on Goodreads

Find it at Chapters/Indigo

Find it at Barnes & Nobles

Find it at Book Depository

Find it at Amazon

I’ve done a novel and manga/anime review this new year, but realized it’s been quite a while since I’ve done a graphic novel review, so why not? Came across this one, once again, at the local library (I thank God every day for it’s existence). Of course, the cover is what made me pick this one up, no surprise there. But the title and a quick flip through the first couple pages also had me wanting to take it home with me. 

Synopsis:

Once upon a time, there were five crazy people and they poisoned the 21st century.

That little blurb pretty much sums things up better that I could. The story starts with a meeting at Sawling Hospital where we meet one of five major characters, Professer Maria Killbride. It’s clear from the get go that Killbride is there for a good reason, but despite that a company known as the FPI (Finest Production Industries) is in need of her brand of genius and are quick to contract her help.  From there we go on to meet the other four main characters Brigid Roth, Dr. Robin Morel, Vivek Headland, and Simon Winters, each with there own problems. 

pg. 1

 

My Rating: 9/10 Unicorn Horns!

So far this diverse group of characters and the mysterious story has me hooked. We get a snippet at the beginning that shows how these five characters met- as the new found Cross-contamination Unit brought together by a university, the Ministry of Time and Measurement, and FPI in, I assume, England. Though the faces shown in that past are completely different (with one exception) from the faces shown in present day.

First Meeting (pg. 5)

Present Day (pg. 8)

There isn’t a single character I didn’t find myself liking or interested in. We get to know a bit about Brigid, Robin, and Simon, though Vivek is still a bit an interesting mystery. Their back and forth intertwining story-lines had me confused for a second, but seeing the contrast in their personalities, past to present, made me hella curious to see what the heck they did/created to make them look like hell (something we finally catch a tantalizing glimpse of towards the end).

To be honest, I wasn’t even sure how to classify this series. It’s set in modern day with a blend of biology/physics, computers science, folklore, and, I guess, magic. The five geniuses (specializing in a broad range of fields) were put together to create and invent something that would inspire the future. So their creation has a bit of each of their diverse types of intelligence in it (hence my difficulty to classify things). This all just made me that much more interested in the story as a whole. The action, mystery, eerie atmosphere, and the sometimes unexpected humour were very well done (more than a couple unexpected jokes had me going).

Related image

pgs. 52-53

Then there’s the artwork which was, overall, pretty eye catching. The otherworldly feel and downright eeriness of the story came to life with the images and colouring. I can’t say there wasn’t some awkwardness here and there, an oddly flowing scene here and an oddly drawn panel there, but didn’t come across it enough to be bothered by it in the face of all the usual beauty.

All in all it was a very good start to what looks like a promising series. I’d recommend this series to any paranormal fiction, mystery, or science fantasy. Just a heads up, like with most Image comics I’ve read they don’t shy away from swearing, and there are a couple scene with some mild gore (never thought there’d come a day I could classify gore levels). Though if that doesn’t bother you I hope you’ll give this one some time. I’ll defiantly be keeping up with this series, and look forward to reading more! 

Image result for injection vol. 1

pg. 18

 

 

Barakamon by Satsuki Yoshino

*This Review is Spoiler Free*

Related image

This post is going to be a bit different from my usual style and content, as I’ve finally- for those that have been suggesting it for quite some *cough* decided to also write a little on anime. Now this doesn’t mean I’m turning this into an anime site, I’ll still be doing the regular bi-weekly book review posts (excusing times where things get busy and there isn’t any *ahem*). This just means I’ll occasionally be doing an extra post here and there on anime, or something like this one- where it’s mainly a manga review, but I add in some of my thoughts on the anime adaption if I’ve watched it. 

Last year I decided to go outside of my comfort zone with anime and tried out a few shows in the Slice of Life genre (similar to but not quite contemporary for those of you who don’t know). Some went more or less like I was expecting- I was bored out of my mind- but a few others were gems and made me change my mind about Slice of Life in general. Barakamon, not to be confused with Bakuman (am I the only one that did this?), was one of them.

Synopsis:

Barakamon follows the life of a 23-year-old professional calligrapher, Seishuu Handa, after he moves out to the booneys on a small island. The calligraphy bit got me interested, but so did his reason for moving in the first place: as a much needed getaway following a… let’s call it “mishap” with the Exhibit Hall Director at a showing over some publicly dished out criticism.

Exhibit A:

oldman GIF

Naturally this all led to him having some…issues in his work and social life, so he readily agreed to being sent off to the middle of nowhere. But, of course, his hopes of getting some peace and quiet to focus on his work are quickly crushed by one trouble making first grader: Naru.

Exhibit B:

 

My Rating (for both): 9/10 Unicorn Horns!

The hilarious interactions between main characters Handa and little Naru are definitely the selling point of this series. I found myself bursting into laughter every chapter/story at their antics, the many resulting misunderstandings, and Handa’s often immature reactions to Naru’s actions and logic. The characters and humour are part of what made this series so enjoyable for me. Even the side characters that make small appearances had their place and made themselves memorable in some way. 

pgs 123-124 (sorry for the blurriness)

In the first volume, along with a handful of villagers, we only meet Naru, a couple of her classmates, the two middle schoolers Miwa and Tama, and high school senior Hiroshi. Things don’t get too in-depth with them seeing as this is the first volume, save for maybe Hiroshi, but there is just enough to get a grasp on each character. I was taken back by how well Yoshino was able to make a cast of characters with such varying ages work. And equally surprised I didn’t find the kids really annoying. Of course the anime goes further than what I’ve read, but I’m seriously looking forward to going through all the craziness again in later volumes (especially the bits when Tama’s secret hobby and future dream come to light).

Then there’s the out-of-nowhere-gut-punching (a.k.a metaphoric life messages that really hit home). They’re nothing incredibly mind blowing, just some words about everyday life and hurtles most (meaning me) have forgotten had such simple answers somewhere along the way. Naru and Hiroshi did this very well through their interactions with each other, often giving insightful advice and encouragement just by being themselves. Coupled with the humour this made it become a solid and unforgettable series for me, which was unexpected considering my strong preference for an overarching plot. 

pg 7

Since this story takes place on a remote island, the inhabitants actually speak a different dialect (Kansai dialect). In the manga the translator used an old country sounding accent for all the characters living on the Island to represent this, save city raised Handa of course. While the anime does the same, reading it in the manga was a slightly different experience. This wasn’t a negative thing, just took some getting use to. 

The taste of small town life was another surprising enjoyment, and actually made me want to give it a try sometime. That and of course my introduction to the world of professional calligraphy. Naturally I won’t be taking this as a how-to-guide, but it did get me thinking, and also broaden my world by making me stop and really take it in as an art form. Especially a particular scene in the anime…which I can’t actually show cause it would definitely count as a spoiler. 

(Poor) Non-spoiler substitute: 

calligraphy GIF

Lastly, I never say much about it in any of my reviews unless I found it mind-blowing, but will say I like the art style. It’s good as far as I’m concerned and easy to follow, but noticeably changes (in a good way) from the first chapter to the last. 

I watched the anime a few months ago, and have only just read the first volume so can’t compare them much without spoilers. But so far the adaptation did a very good job. I’d recommend checking out either one since the anime seems to have done a fairly good job at capturing the essence of the manga, and the characters in it. Both were hilarious, charming, and overall very enjoyable.

Image result for barakamon

Find it On:

MAL;  Goodreads

Stream/Buy the Anime On:

Crunchyroll;  Funimation

Buy the Manga At:

Indigo/Chapters;  Amazon;  Barnes & Noble;  Right Stuff Anime

 

New Release: The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

This Review is Spoiler Free

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

Find it on Goodreads

Buy it from Chapters/Indigo

Buy it from Barns & Noble

Buy it from Book Depository

Buy it from Amazon

I struggled for some time trying to think of the best way to form my thoughts on this book into something coherent, and not just a paragraph of gushing. Then I came across this gif:

200w-2

And this one:

200-35

Both of which chronologically summarize my feelings about this book perfectly! But of course, I can’t actually leave my review at that…no matter how tempted I am. I will say that most of my love of this book comes from the fact that I honestly missed hearing about it. I’ve seen the cover pop up here and there, but otherwise have heard almost nothing, so was expecting nothing. I’ve been feeling a bit sick of teen fiction (not including manga) for awhile now, so it was only the title and coverlust that drew me into hesitantly picking this up.

Synopsis: Using second person narration with multiple POV’s, Maxwell begins this story with a small group of mageus, lead by Prof. Lachlan, working together against their ancient nemesis, the Order, in modern day New York. Things sound pretty rudimentary at first, a group of supernaturally gifted people fighting against a group of religious fanatics trying to wipe them out, but there are a few catches. The major one being the terror of a deadly trap called the Brink, and Esta, raised and trained by Prof. Lachlan to take down the Order. She is also an amazingly talented pick-pocketing, lock picking, time-travelling thief. And it is these skills that get her sent back to 1902 in New York on a lone mission to steal a book- the Ars Arcana- that may finally lead to their freedom.

Rating: 9/10 Unicorn Horns!

This rich story-line, set primarily in 1902, was nothing to sneeze at. In addition to the gripping scenes of the magic welding mageus hiding, outwitting, and fighting the Order (who are at the beginning of forming a curious mix of alchemy and emerging technology), there was also the terror of the Brink to contend with. Many mageus travelled to New York due to rumours of a better life only to find that once they enter the city they cannot leave. Well, at least not without being stripped of their powers and dying in agony, or facing a lifetime of severe mental/emotional instability if they survived the mysterious force field surrounding the city. The effects the terror of this trap and the raids by the Order had on the mageus living in New York was amazingly well written, and just one of the many things that made me devour this book. 

It is this terror that the group main character Esta grew up in, and the street gang leader Dolph are fighting to destroy. Esta’s mission is to meet up with Dolph, the well-known leader of one of the bigger mageus gangs in New York’s 1902 underbelly, infiltrate his crew and prevent someone called The Magician from making the Ars Arcana disappear from history. It was the characters in 1902 that I fell in love with. Esta is a very strong young woman who’s resilient character I admired. Dolph, his crew, and The Magician himself are all complex characters with beautifully conflicting values and resulting contradictory actions. I loved that the gritty reality of the situation the mageus were faced with was actually reflected in the hard choices many of the characters struggled with. 

Though this book did still have some of the elements I’ve grown tired of in teen fiction, a few overly common troupes, those things weren’t so overbearing that they felt like they robbed the story of worth. I didn’t give this book a full 10/10 because in addition to that, part-way through the book things started feeling a bit dragged out. This wasn’t done enough to take off a full point, especially considering all those twists, turns, and bomb dropping towards the end.

mqdefault

Maxwell took some of my most loved themes, a historical setting rife with realistic social problems and strong characterization, then wove it into a beautifully entertaining story. I definitely recommend this one to all!

Arata: The Legend Vol. 1, by Yuu Watase 

This Review is Spoiler Free

Image result for arata the legend fight

Find it on Goodreads

Buy it from Chapters/Indigo

Buy it from Barns & Noble

Buy it from Book Depository

Buy it from Amazon

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.

Image result for arata the legend anime

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.

Image result for hinohara arata bullied

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).    

20170828_084325

pgs 100-101

Rating: 8.5/10 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! 

Image result for arata the legend anime

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.

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

12954620

Find it on Goodreads

Buy it at Chapters/Indigo

Buy it at Barns & Noble

Buy it at Book Depository

Buy it at Amazon

*I’m very sorry for all the late replies. I will be getting back to everyone soon.

Also, I  don‘t know if any of you are having a similar issue, but I have been having a lot of problems with the new WordPress. A lot of schedules posts (including a handful of drafts) have been posting early and/or without me knowledge (e.g. The Versatile Blogger Award). I apologize for this, especially to the bloggers of meltingpotsandcalamities and blameitonchocolate.*

This is a series I have literally been waiting years to read. As many of you know I despise cliffhangers almost as much as I do spoilers, so often put off series I want to read until they are complete or near to completion (something I also do because of one too many series I loved, and had to wait 4+ years for due to publication issues). So when I heard this series was finally near completion I didn’t hesitate to dive right in.

Synopsis: This four person POV takes place in the three separate kingdoms of Mytica. The youngest daughter, Princess Cleo, of Auranos- the prosperous kingdom in both land and wealth- the young Prince and Princess of Limeros- a frozen land lead by a tyrannous king- and a young wine sellers son from Paelsia- a destitute country that hangs on by a thread; all four cross paths as their lands, one by one, slowly descend into darkness. 

Rating: 7/10 Unicorn Horns

I gave it this rating because, while I enjoyed it and the story line was good, it fell a little short of my expectations, particularly in the character department. On the one hand this is the first of six books, so it’s understandable that character development isn’t a focus yet. Instead the focuses in more on introducing readers to the world Morgan is creating, and only some insight into the characters we view this world’s events through. Even so, I have to admit the POV of one character in particular was a bit too painful for me to get past. This character (that shall remain unnamed), through a series of naive choices and a lot of spoiled behaviour, took some joy out of the story for me. Given the circumstances it may have been strange if they were any different, but this doesn’t take away from the fact that her character is grating. A funny thing, considering she becomes one of my favourite characters by the end of the second instalment.

The story, overall, is something I enjoyed quite a bit. While there wasn’t too much that stood out to me other than the mysterious group of mystical beings known as Watchers, I found the pacing appealing and the nations decent into widespread chance promises a lot more actions to come. That appeal has quickly gotten me to the 3rd book, and I can honestly say: “It gets better”. This of course goes for the characters as well, most of which grown and progress in leaps. The romance is present from the very start, and though it does take a back step here and there to various events, it is a running theme throughout the story. 

I would recommend this series to Y.A. fans that enjoy their stories with a romantic theme included.