Monday, December 14, 2015

Nightmares! The Sleepwalker Tonic

This is a review of Nightmares! The Sleepwalker Tonic by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.

Charlie Laird has a dream life.

1) He has a weirdo stepmom who runs an herbarium.
2) He lives in a purple mansion with a portal to the Netherworld.
3) Since they escaped from the Netherworld, he and his best friends have been sleeping like babies.

**SPOILER ALERT**
This is the second book in a series.  As such this review may contain spoilers for the first book.  If you want to read my review of the first book you can find it here.

 Charlie Laird is a fairly average not quite teenage boy.  He has an annoying little brother, an average dad and an absolutely weird stepmom.  He lives in a giant purple mansion with a tower.  The tower houses a portal to the Netherworld, the world of nightmares.  Most people only visit the Netherworld in their sleep during a nightmare, Charlie has been there in person while he was awake.  He and his little brother are the guardians of the portal.  They make sure it is closed and keep the nightmares locked away in the Netherworld where they belong.

Charlie and his friends start to notice that the people from the next town over are acting a little strange.  They shuffle, drool, groan and they are very clumsy.  One of them crashes into a streetlamp and knocks himself out right in front of Charlie!  The soccer team loses 37 to 0 because their entire team are acting like zombies.

Charlie and his friends have to investigate.  Everything they discover adds to the weirdness.  No one is sleeping in Orville Falls and there is a strange new shop in town.  When the new shop puts a branch in Charlie's town they realize they have to kick their investigation up a notch and get to the bottom of the mystery before their town becomes the next victim of this weirdness.

As with the previous book this one is delightful.  Many new lessons for Charlie to learn.  Jealousy, fear, hope and despair are all themes in this book.  The last one taught kids that you have to face your fear to overcome it.  This one teaches kids that being fearless isn't the same as being brave.  Doing something because it is necessary despite being scared to death is bravery and it is very different than being fearless.

I highly recommend this book.  If you have a kid struggling with being brave, this book may be helpful.  It has great lessons to teach both young and old, plus it is just a fun read.  I found myself laughing out loud many times while reading. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Tokyo ESP

This is a review for Volume 1 of Tokyo ESP by Hajime Segawa.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.

 Rinka Urushiba is your average high school girl.  She goes to class, works a part time job after school and helps her dad around the house, they are poor but happy.  One day on her way home from school she sees a flying penguin and chases after him hoping to catch him and sell him to help her finances.  Instead she is thrust into a completely different life than the one she led before.  A strange boy shows up everywhere she goes trying to convince her to become a 'hero of justice' and that is the least strange thing in her new life!

Rinka is a sweet character who is easy to relate to with one heck of a strong kick.  Azuma seems like a nice lighthearted kid with a big sense of adventure but the brightest smiles sometimes hide the most tragic pasts.  Each new character that joins the cast has their own unique personality that adds to the depth of the story.  Whether they are an ex-cop, a professional thief, a yakuza boss' daughter or a helpful barkeeper each character has something to add to the story.

I highly recommend this book.  Really what is not to love about it?  It's got a flying penguin, mysterious superpowers, great characters, an intriguing plot line and a few beautifully colored pages!  You should definitely give this a chance if you enjoy sci-fi or mystery manga.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Alice in Murderland vol 2

This is a review of Alice in Murderland volume 2 by Kaori Yuki.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.

This is the second volume in a series.  This review is likely to spoil the first volume for you.  If you would like to read my review of volume one you can find it here.

 Stella Kuonji and her eight siblings are all adopted.  They belong to the very powerful, and slightly eccentric, Kuonji family.  They are required to return home and attend a "Mad Tea Party" once a month.  During one of these tea parties their mother announces that they are to fight each other to the death until only one remains.  That remaining one will be the head of the family.  They have one year to battle it out.  During the initial chaos Stella's favorite brother Zeno is slain and Stella herself undergoes a physical transformation into "Bloody Alice" complete with blond hair and a blue dress.

In the second volume the murdering contiues.  At the end of the first volume two siblings were out of the running.  Sid and Zeno are both dead though Zeno has been resurrected, but he isn't quite the same as before.  Stella faces off with Little Red Riding hood in the this volume.  Red has planted an impressive number of traps for Stella but Bloody Alice is not easily fooled. After her fight with Red Stella remembers some things from her childhood that make her distrust one of her few allies in this battle. 

Some of the victims of the Mad Tea Party who have been in comas are starting to wake up.  Sol and Maré are Stella's older twin siblings.  Maré has been in a coma but has finally woken up and is not happy.  Stella is the object of Marés anger and another fight breaks out. 

Three more of the Kuonji siblings have been introduced, leaving just one that is still an unknown.  The backstory of Claire, Stella and Zeno has been established to some extent.  Olga-sama, their adoptive mother, hints that there is some very specific reason each child was adopted by the Kuonji family.  A very big hint was dropped in this volume as to the reason that Zeno's personality has changed so much.

I am interested to see the continuation of this story.  Each new character adds something new to the plot.  The siblings are interesting, they each have their own motivations for playing along with their mother's sadistic game, or for not wanting to play along. 

I highly recommend this series.  It continues to be an interesting take on Alice in Wonderland.  Just know, it definitely deserves its rating of "Older Teen" for the violent nature of the story!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Chaika: The Coffin Princess vol 1

This is a review for Chaika: The Coffin Princess volume 1 by Ichirou Sakaki, Shinta Sakayama & NitroPlus
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ 4 stars, I liked it a lot.

Toru Acura lives a quiet, peaceful life.  The war ended five years ago and with it, his reason for getting out of bed every day.  He was a Saboteur in the war with a unique ability but without a war to fight what is a man whose only skills are on the battlefield to do?

Toru lives with his sister Akari.  She is about fed up with his lazy ways.  Is it so much to ask that he get out of bed and get a job?  Akari forces Toru out of bed to find a job or at least some breakfast.  Toru goes into the forest to forage for food and there he runs into Chaika. 

Chaika is a strange girl from another country.  She caries a huge coffin on her back and speaks in broken sentences.  The chance encounter between her and Toru in the forest is about to shake up Toru's mindnumbingly peaceful life.

I enjoyed this manga quite a bit.  Toru feels like a relatable character and Chaika is a mystery waiting to be solved.  Akari is not wonderful in my opinion.  She is the typical little sister with a brother complex that is mostly just annoying.  She does seem like a capable fighter and maybe she will grow to be something more than the token annoying little sister with a brother complex.

I am interested to see where this story ends up.  It feels like a good set up for a great story. So far it is a little short on detail but it feels like it could be something wonderful.  I recommend it to anyone who likes a good adventure series.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Merman in My Tub vol 1

This is a review for Merman in My Tub volume 1 by Itokichi
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ 4 stars, I liked it a lot.

 What happens when a merman moves into your bath tub?  Serious, studious Tatsumi is about to find out.  One day he rescues someone by the river and takes him home to help him only to realize that he didn't rescue a human, but a merman.

Wakasa is a very energetic merman who had to leave his home after tourists started flocking in trying to catch a glimpse of him.  Tatsumi rescued him from a dirty, trash filled river and now he is living in Tatsumi's bath tub.

This manga is very silly and fun.  It follows the day to day life of Wakasa the merman and Tatsumi the student as they learn to live together.  Wakasa has many strange friends who come over and complicate things.  Tatsumi has to try to keep Wakasa a secret from his family and friends. 

I enjoyed this manga a lot.  It isn't very serious or very deep.  It is a light, fun read that just makes you laugh.  Wakasa and Tatsumi are such extreme opposites, their daily interactions are frequently full of misunderstanding.  When you add in Wakasa's eccentric friends and Tatsumi's overprotective sister and friends and you have a real recipe for disaster.

If you are looking for a light story that will make you laugh I highly recommend this series. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Warren the 13th & the All-Seeing Eye

This is a review for Warren the 13th & the All-Seeing Eye by Tania Del Rio, illustrated by Will Staehle
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.

Warren the 13th is the heir to his family's hotel.  It has been in the family for hundreds of years.  When Warren the 12th was in charge it was a gleaming beacon visited by hundreds of guests who booked months in advance and were served by fleets of waiters, butlers, bellhops, maids and gardeners.  Now it is a shabby, run down hotel with no guests and only Warren the 13th and one chef left running things.  

Warren's Uncle Rupert is lazy and let the hotel become a run down decrepit old thing under his care.  Then he married a strange woman named Annaconda who is certain that there is a valuable secret hidden in the hotel.  Warren spends most of his time cleaning up the messes she makes searching for "The All-Seeing Eye."  No one except for her believes it even exists until one day Warren finds the journal of Warren the 2nd and sees it mentioned.  Now word is out and there are tons of guests quite literally tearing the place apart looking for the mysterious All-Seeing Eye.

This book is intended for Middle Grade readers.  It is perfectly paced to keep kids interested.  There are puzzles and riddles and secret codes hidden throughout the book.  They are fairly easy for an adult but they are the perfect difficulty level for kids.

This book is loaded with beautiful illustrations.  Some of them depict whole scenes, some are just decorative on the margins.  Each one is beautifully done and a wonderful addition to the book.  All of the illustrations are done in black, white and red.  They add a sort of gothic, turn of the century Victorian feel to the story.

I quite enjoyed this book and I am honestly looking forward to the sequel.  If you have kids looking for a new book to read check this one out.  If you or your kids are into old fashioned mysteries check this one out.

I received this book free from the publisher Quirk Books in exchange for an honest review.
This book will be released November 24th, 2015!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Magical Girl Apocalypse vol. 5

This is a review for Magical Girl Apocalypse vol. 5 by Kentaro Sato.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.

This is a review for the 5th book in a series, as such it will not be spoiler free.  If you would like to read my reviews of the previous volumes of this series you can find them here, 1, 2, 3, & 4.

Kii Kogami's life has really gone to shit since it started raining Magical Girls.  Almost all of his friends are dead, his average, boring life is a memory now, there are roving packs of Magical Girls killing everything that moves and no safe place stays safe very long.

It has to be said; generally super violent apocalypse stories have gotten stale by volume 5.  There is only so much horror and blood you can pour into a story before it just stops shocking the reader.  That is not the case here!  This story has a great mix of horror and humor.  The jokes are irreverent and ridiculous but they perfectly balance the horror and gore to keep the story fresh and entertaining.

The plot line of this story keeps advancing at a steady rate.  It isn't just rush around just trying to survive the next 5 minutes.  The characters are forming bonds and learning about their screwed up world.  They have learned the cause of the apocalypse if not the full reasons for it.  They may have even found a way to end it and save their world.

The only down side to this series is the big reveal at the end of each volume makes you desperate to read more and you have to wait 3 months for the next part!  As always, I highly recommend this series to those of you who enjoy apocalypse tales and horror flicks, but only as long as you aren't squeamish because there is really a lot of gore!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer

This is a review of Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.

Magnus Chase is 16 years old and homeless.  His world pretty much revolves around finding his next meal, finding a safe place to sleep at night and avoiding police, social workers and anyone who says they want to "help" him.  His world is about to expand rather rapidly when he discovers that the old Norse gods are all too real, Valhalla exists and he is dragged into a quest to stop Ragnarok from happening.

In true Rick Riordan fashion the story grabs your attention and drags you along for the ride.  Magnus is a being of pure sass, snark, and witty comebacks.  Reading this felt a bit like reading Percy Jackson in that respect.  Magnus and Percy are definitely cut from the same sassy cloth but they are quite different people.  Where Percy jumps in and hacks with a sword, Magnus attempts to disarm enemies though he doesn't back down when the situation calls for it.

I will admit that I know far less about the Norse gods than I do about the Greek ones.  I can't say for sure how accurate Magnus Chase is when discussing the ancient mythology, but I would imagine it is pretty close.

There was a lot to like about this book, especially if you are a fan of Riordan's other series.  This one crosses over with Percy Jackson in a very neat way.  Riordan continues to branch out with his characters.  I think it is great that his stories have such a broad range of races and religions included, representation matters.

Personally I loved this book.  I couldn't put it down, I stayed up til 2AM reading it.  I highly recommend that you pick it up and give it a chance.  If you haven't read the Percy Jackson and the Olympians and The Kane Chronicles series' by Rick Riordan you should also give them a shot. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Gangsta Volume 2

This is a review of Gangsta Volume 2 by Kohske.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.

This is the second volume in a series, reading this review will probably spoil the first volume.  If you wish to read my review of volume one you can find it here.

Nic and Worick are "The Handymen" they are the guys who clean up the messes left by gangs or do the dirty jobs that the police can't.  They are the neutral party that can clean up after or help any of the three gangs in the city of Ergastulum.  Ergastulum is not your average gang controlled city.  There are enhanced humans called "Twilights" who are generally bigger and stronger than everyone else.  The Twilights are part of a the city's dark past and a nasty prejudice still lingers in many people.

Nic & Worick just can't stay out of trouble.  A job request ends them in jail being questioned by the police.  Another job request pits them in a fight with another Twilight and this one is really tough.  This could be the roughest battle so far but the fight is interrupted and an intriguing new character enters the story.  While all of this is going on Alex is left at the office alone and something seems to be wrong with her.

I am still loving this series.  The dark past of the city is a looming mystery.  Nic & Worick's own past is still mostly secret.  The story leads the reader along from one crumb of knowledge to the next and fills all of the space in between with a nice combination of violence and humor.  The characters are diverse and each new character that joins the story makes it that much more interesting.

I highly recommend this series.  If you enjoyed Black Lagoon, Cowboy Bebop or Jorgmungand you will enjoy this.  If you like a story with rich complex characters and violence doesn't turn you off this is a great series.  

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Ancient Magus' Bride vol 2

This is a review for The Ancient Magus' Bride vol 2 by Kore Yamazaki
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.

This is a review for the second volume in a series.  As such there will be spoilers for the first volume in this review.  If you wish to read my review of the first volume you can find it here.

Chise Hatori was just an unwanted orphan shoved around from relative to relative her whole life until she ended up being auctioned off the the highest bidder.  The man who purchased Chise is very kind to her though his outward appearance is unusual.  He gives her gifts, teaches her to be a mage and promises to take care of her but there may be something lurking in the shadows.

This volume continues the journey Chise makes into a new world.  A world of magic, fae, alchemy, mystery and danger.  Chise continues to encounter many new and amazing things as she lives her life with Elias.  She is learning to use her power and learning about her own unique abilities.  Being a Sleigh Beggy means she has access to great amounts of magical power but there is a cost to using it.  After each use she sleeps for days at a time to recover.  Elias knows that it could be even more dangerous to use her powers and he is attempting to find a way to prevent the worst case scenario.

This volume features new adventures and new kinds of supernatural beings to learn about.  Chise encounters mythical fae, spriggans, black dogs and alchemists.  Each new encounter is interesting and keeps readers on their toes.  Bits of Chise and Elias' pasts are being slowly revealed.

I am really enjoying this series.  There is a great balance of mystery, supernatural lore, and daily life.  Elias doesn't coddle Chise, he tells her the truth, he may not always volunteer all of the facts but he doesn't lie to her when she asks him questions.  He is willing to let her attempt to do things on her own before offering assistance.  He seems to have a dark past but he has many redeeming qualities and I just love the "bad guy trying to redeem himself" plot device.

This series is great.  Honestly, the only downside to it is having to wait in between volumes.  The characters are complex and they grow and change as the story goes on.  The plot is rich, the details are wonderful, and the story flows.  If you enjoy supernatural stories you should really give this one a chance.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Magical Girl Apocalypse volume 4

This is a review for Magical Girl Apocalypse volume 4 by Kentaro Sato.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.

Hospital of Horrors

This is a review for the 4th book in a series, as such it will not be spoiler free.  If you would like to read my reviews of the previous volumes of this series you can find them here, 1, 2, & 3

Synopsis:  Kii Kogami's live has been a living hell since the magical girls arrived bringing death and destruction with them.  His school was destroyed but he and a few other students escaped.  They finally found a safe haven at a shopping mall.  Their haven didn't stay secure for very long and they were once again forced to run.  In all of the chaos this time their group was split in half! One half is safe in a local hospital with their injuries treated, the other half is transported 10 years into their past where they make a shocking discovery.

Kii is no longer sure that Tsukune is the girl he thought she was.  Kaede finally confesses that she has been in love with Kii for years and risks her life to save Kii.  They are rescued at the last minute by soldiers and head of to find the others at the hospital.  The hospital may not be as safe as they thought it was.  Is that magical girl the one they killed before?  One of the magical girls seems to be able to talk, can they use this somehow to save themselves?  What is up with the magical girl on the cover?  Her magical powers might prove to be a serious problem!

This series is constantly changing the rules on the reader.  You think you have it figured out and suddenly the ground shifts and everything is different.  It is done really well and without leaving the reader reeling, it keeps the reader hanging on the edge of their seat for more. Discoveries were made by several people in this volume that may finally solve the problem of where the magical girls came from and what they want.

I can't wait for the next volume to be released.  This one ended on quite the cliffhanger.  If you enjoy mayhem and zombies you should check this out.  If you are squeamish or don't like gore, this probably isn't for you.  There is a lot of gore but there is a lot of humor to balance it out.  To quote this volume "Watch an anime you moron.  Read a manga." 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Gangsta

This is a review of Gangsta volume 1 by Kohske.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.

In the city of Ergatstulum there are three mafia families that keep the peace.  Everyone is free to go about their shady business as they wish but the three families keep all out gang war from happening.  It is a dark city with a nasty underbelly full of dirty cops, murder, prostitution, violence, bloodshed and mercenaries.  There are also the mysterious enhanced humans called "Twilights" or "Tags."

Nic Brown and Worick Arcangelo are the Handymen.  They do jobs for the three families, the police and anyone who pays them.  They take the jobs that no one else wants or can handle.  Like taking down a fourth gang that is trying to mess with the peace or protecting an unaffiliated doctor from thugs.

Nic & Worick aren't saints by any means but so far they seem to have a sense of justice that they follow.  Nic is deaf and the way they treat that in this book is great.  No one treats him special or like he isn't capable of doing things for himself.  Worick is an interesting character.  He is funny, cheeky, flirtatious, handsy and a strange mix of noble.  He chose not to kill someone that he was supposed to and saved them instead.  He is violent and shoots people but he also reins Nic in and stops him from killing too many people.  Both of them have an unexplored past but hints have been made about it and I am interested to see what is revealed later.

This is being published as part of Viz Media's "Viz Signature" line.  It is a larger trim size and has some cool extra touches.  The gold foil on the cover is nice and I like the matte finish.  There is a color page at the beginning and some special extras at the end.  This book is rated M and it definitely deserves that rating, blood, violence and prostitution are very prevalent in this series.

I highly recommend this book.  If you enjoyed Black Lagoon, Cowboy Bebop or Jorgmungand you will enjoy this.  If you like a story with rich complex characters and violence doesn't turn you off this is a great series.  I am interested to see how the rest of it plays out.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Alice in Murderland

This is a review for Alice in Murderland by Kaori Yuki.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it..

Stella and her eight siblings have all been adopted by the incredibly wealthy and powerful Kuonji family.  One of their traditions is a monthly "Mad Tea Party" where every sibling must attend.  At this Mad Tea Party their mother makes a strange announcement "I'd like you children to now fight one another to the death."  Chaos erupts, shots are fired, Stella falls into a pit and everyone screams.  In the midst of the chaos a new Stella appears complete with blond hair, blue dress and machine guns and she is ready to play!

Stella is a fairly average high school girl.  Her family is a little strange and she has a big brother complex but her life is happy and she and her siblings get along well.  It is funny how fast those things can change when your mother pits you against each other in a life or death struggle to be the next head of the family.

I am absolutely an Alice in Wonderland junkie.  I love all the various versions and I especially love to see new takes on the source material and unconventional interpretations of the original.  This version is a unique interpretation, one I haven't seen before.  We have all seen the madness takes over and everyone is crazy and killing each other versions of Alice in Wonderland.  There are tons of those.  This version goes beyond that with a twist that I found really interesting.  I won't tell you want that twist is, you will have to read it for yourself!

I found the cast of characters to be interesting and well rounded.  There are some you like, some you hate and some that are just there.  Each one is harboring their own little secret and Stella is a great medium to discovering them.  Stella is a tad naive and trusting, she just wants her life back, her eight loving siblings and a mother who doesn't start war games at a tea party. 

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  I am looking forward to the next volume of this series.  The hardback cover and vibrant slip cover are wonderful touches.  I really like the high quality release that Yen Press did with this.  It is a great addition to my bookshelf.

If you enjoyed Pandora Hearts or the American McGee's Alice video game series this book will be right up your alley.  If you are looking for a unique take on the classic Alice story you should definitely check this one out! 


Friday, May 29, 2015

Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon?

This is a review for Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? story by Fujino Omori, art by Kunieda.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.

Bell Cranel is a fairly average guy with a fairly average dream to save a really pretty girl who is cornered by a monster and then they will fall in love.  Good thing for Bell that monsters exist and he can fight them by going into the dungeon.  What will happen if his fantasy is reversed and he is the one saved from a monster by a beautiful girl?

In this series gods and goddesses are real and they bestow blessings on humans that give the humans special abilities and make them part of the god or goddesses' familia.  Bell is the only member of his goddesses' familia but he doesn't mind.  Bell is determined to get stronger and he fights monsters every day.

I am really enjoying this series so far.  The world created in this series is interesting.  The idea of gods and goddesses willingly coming to live among humans and bestow blessings on them is intriguing.  The cast of gods and goddesses that have been introduced in this first volume is quite diverse; Norse, Greek and Hindu deities have made appearances.  Bell is a lovable idiot with surprising depths.  The story lines are good and the plot moves along well.  There is a lot of comedy but it doesn't overshadow the serious points.

I recommend this very highly.  If you enjoyed Magi or Sword Art Online you will enjoy this series.

You should also check out the anime available on crunchyroll!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Jala and the Wolves

This is a review for Jala and the Wolves by Marti Dumas.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.

Jala is a curious six year old girl.  She loves to read, especially about animals, she is always learning new facts about them.  Jala knows her mother is magic, her mother always knows what she is thinking and when she is hungry after all!  One day she finds a mysterious mirror in her room and she just knows her magic mother put it there.  Jala travels into the mirror like Alice and Jala finds a wolf pack on the other side.
 
 This book is perfect for younger readers.  The narrative moves well, the language is simple and the story is intriguing.  Most children will find something in Jala that is familiar.  I don't think there is a child alive who hasn't pretended to be an animal at least once in their life. 

I enjoyed this book a lot!  Jala is an adorable child.  She is special and magical and just grabs your heart strings. Jala reminded me a lot of myself as a child.  I have always been a bookwork.  I had a special place in my room to curl up with my books and read.  I would have loved to find a magic mirror or wardrobe or rabbit hole to take me off on a magical adventure.  Coming home at the end and finding my mother making me breakfast would have been the perfect end.

I recommend this book to all lovers of magical adventure.  It is short and sweet and tells a great tale.

I received this book through GoodReads First Reads program.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Ancient Magus' Bride

This is a review for Volume 1 of The Ancient Magus' Bride by Kore Yamazaki.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.

Chise Hatori is just an orphan, just an orphan who can see things other people can't.  No one wanted her, her family shoved her back and forth until she somehow ended up in a strange auction house being sold to the highest bidder.  The person who bought her has a strange outward appearance but he is very kind to her and even says he wants to marry her.  Now she is in training to be a mage learning about all of the strange magic in the world around her.

I remember being interested when this title was announced for publication, but I was a bit on the fence about buying it.  When I saw it in the store today I decided to flip through it a bit and I just knew I had to buy it.

Chise has a tragic back story that we don't know much about though it is being revealed in small pieces.  Elias is a mysterious figure, he raises many questions and he is very adept at avoiding answering any of them.  There are many magical beings in the world and Chise is a wonderful lens for the reader to learn about them.

I really enjoyed this first volume.  It is very interesting subject matter and Chise very loveable.  Elias is intriguing and all of the various magical beings, both good and bad, are well developed and designed.  I highly recommend this series!  It has a nice balance of humor and serious content.  The art is wonderful and brings everything to life in an amazing way.  The only downside is waiting 4 months for the next volume after the cliffhanger this one ended on!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Ajin: Demi-Human Volume 1

This is a review for Ajin: Demi-Human Volume 1 by Tsuina Miura & Gamon Sakurai
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ 4 stars, I liked it a lot.

"Do demin-humans only become demi-human after they die once? Or are they born that way?"
Kei Nagai is a regular high school student.  He studies hard so he can become a doctor.  He is an obedient son and a good brother.  One day he gets hit by a truck and dies.  And then he gets up and realizes that he is one of the "demi-humans."  Demi-humans were discovered 17 years before, they are immortal.  They can die over and over again and come back to life.  There are 46 known demi-humans in the world, or there were this morning.  Now there are 47 and Kei is on the run.  Every government in the world wants to get their hands on the demi-humans.  They are seen as valuable test subjects and experimented on.

This story is great.  The story takes off immediately and drags the reader along with it.  Kei is on the run from the government.  The government is desperate to find him.  There is a strange man in a hat with a creepy smile watching people rush around frantically.  What on earth are these strange black mummy looking things?

I really enjoyed that this story didn't travel down the tired old "I'm immortal, I must be a superhero charged with saving the world" path.  This is much darker and I love it.  This series seems to be playing with the very definition of humanity.  What makes someone human?  Is someone who is different somehow not a human? 

Regular immortal superheroes are a stretch to my mind.  No government in the world is going to look the other way and let someone who can't die or who has super strength or who has x-ray vision roam around doing what ever they want.  I am much more inclined to believe that every government would be fighting to get their hands on and experiment on someone that appears to be immortal. 

I can't wait to see what is in store for the next volume of this manga.  I recommend this one very highly.  It is fairly graphic, he gets hit by a truck in the first chapter and that is only the first time Kei dies, so there is gore and there will probably be a whole lot more before this series ends.  The story moves at a good pace and I have to say the ending leaves the reader wanting more!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Magical Girl Apocalypse Volume 3

This is a review for Magical Girl Apocalypse Volume 3 by Kentaro Sato.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.

"Magical Girls of Future Past"
Spoiler Warning!
This is a review for the third volume in a series.  To read my review of the first two volumes click here: Volume 1 & Volume 2 If you choose to read the review for the third volume first you may find some spoilers for the first two volumes!

Synopsis:  Kii Kogami's live has been a living hell since the magical girls arrived bringing death and destruction with them.  His school was destroyed but he and a few other students escaped.  They finally found a safe haven at a shopping mall.  Their haven didn't stay secure for very long and they were once again forced to run.  In all of the chaos this time their group was split in half!

Kii is desperate to get to Tsukune's side and protect her but he has a slight problem.  One of the magical girls sent him back in time by 10 years.  He and the others with him are back in the year 2002 and the peacefulness of that time is surreal after all the chaos.  Will they be able to go back to 2012?  Do they even want to go back?  Is there a connection between the two time periods? 

This volume had a lot of surprises in its pages.  Some questions have been answered from previous volumes, many new questions have been raised.  The majority of this volume is in 2002 and this provides a unique look at some of the character's pasts.  Learning about their pasts sheds new light on their actions in the current year.  A tiny hint is given about the origins of the magical girls.  Not everything is quite the way it seems.

I can't wait for the next volume to be released.  The only downside to this series is waiting 3 months in between volumes!  I still recommend this series to anyone who isn't squeamish.  It definitely has its share of blood and guts but there is also a healthy dose of humor and a great plot to go with the gore!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Doubt Volume 2

This is a review for Doubt Volume 2 by Yoshiki Tonogai.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.

"One day a wolf snuck into a tight-knit colony of rabbits." 
This is a review for sequel in a series.  This review will have spoilers for the first volume.  If you wish to read my review of the first volume you can find that here.

Six players of the mobile game "Rabbit Doubt" decided to have an offline meeting.  They met up and ended up locked in a warehouse with no idea how they got there and the corpse of a friend hanging from the rafters.  Now they have to find the wolf hiding among them before they all die.

This volume starts off with two people dead and the rest are sure they know the wolf's identity.  Unfortunately for them nothing is as it seems for the remaining players.  Everyone is hiding a secret from the others, some big and some small.  Can any of them trust anyone else?  Will any of them even try to trust the others? Will anyone survive this deadly game?

I have to say, I liked the ending even better than the first volume.  The plot twists kept being interesting and unexpected.  The true identity of the wolf was a shock to me.  The motives of the wolf were even more of a shock.  The last page of the manga was a perfect ending to this series.  It is dark, and gory and it deserved a fittingly macabre ending and it got one.  I am not sure I will ever look at rabbits quite the same way after reading this series!

I definitely recommend this series to everyone who doesn't mind a little blood and gore! 

Twenty Dinners

This is a review for Twenty Dinners by Ithai Schori & Chris Taylor.
I have this book ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ 3 stars, I liked it.
"A photographer (who happens to be an ex-restaurant cook) and an indie rock star (who happens to be an avid home cook) show you how to slow down your life by cooking beautiful, straightforward, but sophisticated, food for--and with--friends."
This book features 20 full meals arranged seasonally that you can cook at home for or with your friends.  Each recipe is accompanied by stunning photographs.  The authors are pretty good about simplifying their food so it doesn't seem so difficult to make.

Each meal has several dishes included and the authors encourage swapping pieces out or experimenting to make everything how you like it.   Many recipes in here even suggest alternatives if you can't find an element.  Each meal has a suggested drink pairing.  Sometimes it is merely a wine suggestion, other times it is a cocktail that you can make yourself with the included recipe.

This book is all about cooking with friends so it stands to reason that the authors had several of the friends collaborate with them on this book.  There are sections to tell readers how to stock a home bar, how to buy and brew great coffee and how to mix great drinks.  Everything about this cook book is meant to make cooking for your friends more fun.

I personally enjoyed this cookbook.  There are a lot of great recipes in here.  Some of them are pretty basic like roasting a chicken or grilling a hamburger.  Others are more involved such as "morel and shiitake mushroom risotto" or "spiced red wine-poached pears."  There are a lot of recipes that I am looking forward to trying.  There are also quite a few that I probably won't ever make, due to lack of interest or inability to get a specialized ingredient or because I live in a land locked region and fresh fish isn't readily available.  Overall I enjoyed the cook book but it didn't blow me away.

I received this book free from blogging for books in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Doubt Volume 1

This is a review for Doubt Volume 1 by Yoshiki Tonogai.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ 4 stars, I liked it a lot.

"One day a wolf snuck into a tight-knit colony of rabbits."
Six players of the mobile game 'Rabbit Doubt' decide to have an offline meeting.  They end up locked in a warehouse with a corpse.  Now they have to play the game for real and find the real wolf hiding among them before the wolf devours them all.

I have to admit, I wasn't especially intrigued by this story line.  Locked room murders just aren't that interesting to me.  The plots are predictable and the characters always make the same mistakes.   

I was very pleasantly surprised by this one.  The premise may be nothing new but the way it is played out is new and exciting.  The characters don't make the same old mistakes as every other locked room murder story.   The characters are interesting and the farther you read the more depth they gain.  It was interesting to see the way they change and grow, it isn't always what you expect of them.  The warehouse is an interesting choice of locations, though it may not actually be a warehouse.  It has some rather interesting features for a standard warehouse.  Each clue they unlock keeps you wanting to read more.  The reader is just as in the dark about the identity of the murderer as the characters are.  Every time I think I have it figured out I am almost immediately proven wrong.

The only criticism I have is the pace of the story.  The pace is pretty fast.  Things are happening quickly without giving the players or the reader much time to digest the events.  The bodies are piling up and accusations are flying fast.  

I recommend this book to anyone who isn't squeamish about blood and murder.  I can't wait to start reading the next book!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Assassination Classroom Vol. 3

This is a review for Assassination Classroom Vol. 3 by Yusei Matsui
I rated this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.

Reminder: this is the third volume in a series and this review will probably spoil the first two volumes.  If you wish to read my reviews of 1 & 2 before you read this one you can find them here 1 & 2.

"We are assassins and our target is our teacher."
The students of class 3-E at Kunugigaoka Junior High have it rough.  Their school has a strictly enforced hierarchy and they are at the bottom.  The principal is determined to keep them there, even going so far as to change the material on their midterms to keep them from getting good grades.  This should make them depressed, angry and bitter.  Their teacher is something special though, Koro-sensei goes out of his way to make sure each of his students is reaching their full potential.  It kind of puts a damper on their desire to assassinate him though!

This volume picks up where the last one left off.  Two of the students got kidnapped by a gang of high school students while on their class trip to Kyoto.  The rest of their group has decided to attempt to rescue them using the guidebooks Koro-sensei made for their trip.

After their trip they look forward to settling back into their routine at school but the government is shaking things up.  They have a new student joining their class.  She is a very determined assassin and the other students don't like having to clean up after her messes.  Miss Vitch has a guest who wants her to leave the school.  Koro-sensei makes a bet between them to determine if Miss Vitch will get to stay a teacher or leave to continue her assassination career elsewhere.

As usual this volume ends in a cliffhanger to get you to keep reading.  I would keep reading anyway because I enjoy the series.  I know I have said this before and I will probably say it again.  Read this manga and watch the anime!

Undertow

This is a review for Undertow by Michael Buckley.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.

First, we feared them. Then we fought them. Now they might be our only hope.  - See more at: http://www.hmhco.com/shop/books/Undertow/9780544348257#sthash.4rtqfELt.dpuf
 "First we feared them, then we fought them, now they may be our only hope."
Lyric Walker was your average teenage girl, a little wild, a little rebellious and totally into boys, until 3 years ago when the world changed.  Thousands of 'Alpha' marched out of the ocean and set up camp on the beach at Coney Island.  At first there was wonder and awe at the new residents of Coney Island, after all it isn't every day that mermaids just show up on the beach.  The wonder and awe quickly turn to fear and hate when two vastly different cultures collide.  It's been three years since that day and now the Alpha are going to start school.  There are protests and riots and a media circus outside the school.  No one is happy, tensions are high and the military is permanently stationed in "the Zone."  Everyone is convinced that the Alpha are an invading force.  But what if they aren't?  What if there is something worse lurking in the ocean?

I really enjoyed this book after being initially skeptical.  It blew the typical alien invasion stories out of the water.  It has a cast of diverse characters, some you love, some you hate.  The beginning is a bit slow, there is a lot of set up to the story.  The Alpha have to be explained and Lyric's life before their arrival.  Once you get past that the story launches itself forward and drags the reader with it.  It is easy to get caught up in the story and difficult to put the book down once you are caught in it.  I hit the last page and was immediately annoyed that the next book is not yet published and I will have to wait to find out what happens next!

This book touches on a lot of very serious issues, abuse, bullying, racism, prejudice, corrupt politicians and blackmail.  Each issue is dealt with in a proper manner.  Lyric is an excellent tool for reaffirming things that kids have been taught all their lives, report abuse, stand up to bullies, don't judge someone on their appearance etc.  This book doesn't sugar coat things though, it faces the fact that sometimes there isn't anything the police can do, sometimes an abuser gets let out of jail and comes right back to abuse his victim some more.  There are a lot of nasty people in the world, but there are also a lot of good ones.  This book reminds teens that even if the police can't help you can find a friend or an adult that you trust and get help from them.

I recommend this book to fans of sci-fi and paranormal books.  I also recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good well written story about teenagers and to anyone who loves an angsty relationship story.

I was given a copy of this book by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books in exchange for an honest review.

 First, we feared them. Then we fought them. Now they might be our only hope.  - See more at: http://www.hmhco.com/shop/books/Undertow/9780544348257#sthash.4rtqfELt.dpufFirst

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Assassination Classroom Vol. 2

This is a review for Assassination Classroom vol. 2 by Yusei Matsui
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.

This is the second volume in a series.  This review may contain spoilers for the first volume.  You can read my review of the first volume over here.

"We are assassins and our target is our teacher."
 The students of class 3-E at Kunugigaoka Junior High are the losers, the rejects, the un-teachable bottom of the barrel.  At least that is what they have been told.  Students in classes A-D have said they would rather die than go to class E.  That is not a great confidence booster for those who are stuck in class E.

Without spoiling too much here are some of the plot points.  A new teacher is introduced, the kids don't like her but she seems to really like Koro-sensei.  The elusive principal is finally introduced.  He is the reason E class exists at all.  The students struggle with midterm preparations and Koro-sensei is determined to help his students pass with flying colors.  After midterms they have a class trip.  The class is hoping for an exciting trip to Kyoto with many assassination opportunities for them.  The trip may be just a little more exciting than they expected though!

This series continues to be excellent.  Still equal parts seriousness and hilarity.  Koro-sensei still moves at mach 20 to teach his students valuable life lessons.  The expanding cast of characters adds some new conflicts to the mix and threatens to squash the seeds of self-esteem Koro-sensei has been planting in his downtrodden students.

I definitely recommend this series.  It is very good!  It is a school life slice of life series with a deadly cherry on top!  You should also check out the anime which just announced that it is getting a second season.
Check out this clip for the English Dub of the anime and then go find yourself a copy of this manga!

The World Before Us

This is a review for The World Before Us by Aislinn Hunter.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ 3 stars, I liked it.

When she was 15 years old Jane Standen lost track of 5 year old Lily while they were hiking.  Lily was never found and Jane has never moved past that point in her life.  Sure, she finished school, went to college and got a job but in her mind she has never moved past losing Lily.

Jane works for a small museum in London.  The museum is closing and Jane is set adrift.  The tides carry her back to the small town where Lily disappeared and where over a century before another girl disappeared.  The past and Jane's life intersect and Jane wants to find out what happened to both girls.

I enjoyed this book.  It deals with some very serious subject matter.  Life, death, what happens after death, loss; how do you move on with your life after some traumatic event?  Is it possible to put the pieces back together and if you do are you really the same person you were before?

The ending of this book feels unfinished, and due to the nature of the book, I believe that it is intentional.  The whole tone of this book was very wistful and melancholy.  It touches on some very serious subject matter and doesn't shy away from making the reader think.  This book is very messy, not in a bad way, it is a truthful representation of a life.  Lives are messy, things happen that are unpleasant, it is what we do with the mess that makes life beautiful.  This book tells the messy story of a woman who never forgave herself for something that she feels is her fault.  It is through the mess, the guilt, the self doubt, the poor decisions and the honesty of the life lived that this book tells it's story.

I definitely recommend this book.  It isn't sappy, sweet or fluffy.  It is honest, heartfelt and a little sad.  It probably won't make you smile or laugh but it will stick with you.  The questions it asks, the truths it uncovers and the way it shows that a thread tugged here can reverberate across many lives and many decades to affect other people will stay with the reader.

I received this book from blogging for books in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Jack: The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk

This is a review for Jack: The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk by Liesl Shurtliff.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.

Jack is destined for greatness.  His papa knew it from the day he was born.  That is why he is named Jack, he is named for his great great great great great great great grandpa Jack the Giant Killer who killed nine giants.  Jack has never seen a giant.  No one he knows has ever seen a giant.  Giants are things in tales, or so Jack's mama is always telling him.  They live in a small village in the middle of no where and they have a small farm.  Jack loves tales of giants, he knows them all by heart and he is sure he is going to do something great just like his seven greats grandpa.

One day it rains dirt and Jack's whole village is taken away by giants.  Only his mama, his sister and him are left behind.  Mama doesn't believe him but Jack saw the giants take his papa and the rest of the village up into the sky.  Jack trades the families last cow to a traveling tinker for three beans and they grow into a beanstalk that reaches the sky.  Jack climbs up the beanstalk to rescue his papa.  He knows that he is going to on a grand adventure like his seven greats grandpa.  But what adventurer has his little sister tagging along?  And what can Jack do against giants big enough to carry him around in their pockets?  

I loved this book!  Jack is a very naughty boy but his heart is in the right place.  This story addresses many of the questions I had about Jack and the Beanstalk as a child.  Why do the giants come to our land? Are there other giant things up there besides the giants? Can a human really defeat a giant?  Jack has to find the answers to all of these questions and more.  He also wrestles with the morality of harming other people, even if they are giants.  

This book also deals with an issue that I think a lot of kids struggle with; living up to your parents expectations.  Jack has been told from a young age that he is destined for greatness.  Jack's sister is the "good girl."  But are they really what they have been told all their lives?  They struggle with this and learn that it is ok to not be exactly what others expect you to be.  That standing up and making your own decisions is what makes you your own person.

This is definitely a great book for kids who are struggling with self confidence or to find their own place in the world.  Even if they aren't struggling to figure out who they are this is a good adventure story for kids.  It may also help stop some sibling squabbles and get them to work together! 

I received this book from netgalley and Random House Kids in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Karneval Volume 1

This is a review for Karneval volume 1 by Touya Mikanagi.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.

Nai is an incredibly innocent, naive, childlike teen.  He has very little understanding of the world around him.  Basic things that we are know are lost on him, like what blood is, how money works, that not everyone he meets is going to be nice.

Gareki is a very angry teenager.  The world has treated him badly and in response he has grown bitter, sarcastic and rude.  He has a talent for shooting guns and making bombs.

Gareki meets Nai when he breaks into a mansion where Nai is being held captive.   Garkei agrees to take Nai with him in exchange for the bracelet he has.  Nai's naivety gets the duo into a few scrapes on their way out of town and Gareki can barely keep them a step ahead of the Peacekeepers.  They board a train out of town and land in a hostage situation where they catch the interest of the hostages and the government agents, Circus, that step on and save them. 

I knew that I would love this manga before I bought it.  I watched the anime as it came out each week last year.  I bought the anime as soon as it was released in the US.  I had to visit 3 stores before I was able to track down the manga but it was worth it!  This volume contains the first two Japanese volumes.

This manga has a wide cast of characters.  Nai and Gareki are just the tip of the iceburg.  From the bright, beautiful whimsical Circus people to the dark and deadly Varuga there is a lot of variety and definitely something for everyone to love!  The world is rich in detail, the plot is intriguing and you never know exactly what to expect.

Now that I have the manga and the anime all I need is a sheep plushie to cuddle while I read.  I would also love a sheep robot, or a dozen of them, if anyone wants to make one for me!

Servamp vol 1

This is a review for Servamp volume 1 by Strike Tanaka.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.

A vampire cat serves only one master.
The tagline caught my interest immediately, vampire cats?  Yes, please!  So I bought it, brought it home and opened it up to read it.  The doodle under the front cover made me giggle, always a good sign!

Shirota Mahiru is a fifteen year old boy who likes simple things.  He is serious and helpful.  His class always knows that he can and will help them.  He mostly lives alone so he knows how to cook, clean and sew.  One day he sees a stray cat laying on the sidewalk whimpering pitifully.  Mahiru picks the kitty up and takes it home.  And that little action changes his life forever.  That little cat is actually a servamp, a servant vampire.  Picking that cat up started Mahiru down a path to the supernatural and he'll be lucky to survive. 

Mahiru's helpful nature draws him into several battles.  He can't just walk away when he sees other vampires attacking humans.  Mahiru learns that there are seven other servamps out there.  Each one represents one of the seven deadly sins plus one extra that the others must stop before he destroys the world.  Being the seven deadly sins though, they aren't really that great at working as a team or even being in the same room together.

This manga is a great mix of humor and seriousness.  The seven deadly sins as vampires is a pretty funny thought to me.  'Vampire cat' is also a humorous idea.  Mahiru is a very serious and studious boy and he is a great balance for the humor elements.  The final couple of pages had quite the plot twist and definitely left me wanting more!

If you are a fan of Blue Exorcist, Blood Lad or Soul Eater you will probably enjoy this one!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Perfect Egg

This is a review for The Perfect Egg by Teri Lyn Fisher & Jenny Park.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.

I received this book from Blogging for Books free in exchange for an honest review.  When I saw this book I knew I had to get it.  I looked at it and I said "How many ways are there to make eggs, scrambled, fried, hard boiled, deviled, eggs benedict......how did they make a whole book out of 5 ways to make eggs?"  Apparently there are more than 5 ways to make eggs.

The first section of this book is basic information including types of eggs, grades of eggs, varieties of eggs, how to tell if an egg is fresh and the basic anatomy of an egg.  The second section is basic cooking techniques, handling and storage, sauces and condiments made from eggs, basic pasta dough with eggs and basic breads with eggs.  All very useful information and it is conveyed without condescension or causing the reader to feel bored.

Now we get into the real 'yolk' of the book; recipes! The recipes are broken into categories; morning, snacks, afternoon, night & sweets.  Morning has a lot of delicious looking breakfast eggs.  Snacks has a lot of yummy looking quick things.  Afternoon has a lot of soups, salads and sandwiches.  Night includes a lot of richer, heartier looking meals.  Sweets includes everything from fresh berries with creme anglaise sauce to creme brulee & chocolate souffle. There are recipes from all over the world.  The first recipe is Mediterranean-Style Baked Egg Boats which made me drool just looking at the picture.  The next recipe hops over to Venezuela, there are recipes from America, Japan, Korea and I think you get it, this book covers ways to cook and eat eggs from the whole world.  Each recipe is accompanied by a stunning color photograph.  Most recipes include anecdotes from the authors about their first experience trying the dish.  Recipes with difficult instructions include pictures to help you walk through the steps.  Many recipes end with encouragement to substitute or swap out ingredients to customize the dish specifically to your taste. 

I have not had a chance to try ever recipe in this cookbook.  I ran out of eggs.  There are so many recipes in this book that I am just dying to try.  I suggest you pick this book up and see for yourself all the amazing things you can do with eggs!  Now if you will excuse me I need to go buy out the egg section of my grocery store so I can get started!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Fourteenth Goldfish

This is a review for The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.

Science can change the world . . . but can it go too far?
This is the story of a young girl struggling to find her passion in life while adjusting to all of the changes of middle school. 

Ellie is new to science and she finds everything fascinating.  Galileo, Newton, Curie, Oppenheimer, Salk, each of them observed something around them and it changed the world.  Oppenheimer said "We knew the world would not be the same" after observing the results of his scientific achievement. Even now, 70 years after the atomic bomb we debate the morality of it.  As Ellie learns more about science and about life she isn't entirely sure if her grandfather's experiment is going to save the world or destroy it.


This story is really great.  I wish it had been written when I was struggling with middle school.  Embracing who we are is hard, especially when we don't really know who we are yet.  Learning to form your own ideas can be difficult and expressing those ideas can be even more difficult.  Telling someone you love that you think they are wrong is hard.  Ellie struggles with all of these things.

I recommend this book whole-heartedly.  It never hurts to remember that children struggle with the same things adults do.  It never hurts to be reminded that our opinions matter even if our loved ones disagree.  If you are the parent of a child about to start middle school I recommend both you and your child read this book.

I received this book from netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Mermaid's Sister

This is a review for The Mermaid's Sister by Carrie Anne Noble.
I give this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ 4 stars, I liked it a lot.

Carrie Anne Noble has had a variety of jobs in her life including theatre student, restaurant hostess, nurses aide and newspaper writer.  This is her first published novel.  She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, children and pets.

There is no cure for being who you truly are...

The Mermaid's Sister is a charming tale of two sisters raised together by their adoptive mother "Auntie."  Clara is sixteen years old and contented with her life, she wishes to remain in her happy family forever but "wishing gets you nothing."  Clara's sister Maren is a mermaid and every passing day changes her more and makes her increasingly unsuited to life on land.  Clara wants to change her back into a human but there is no cure for being who you truly are.  Auntie found Maren in a conch shell on her doorstep one night.  Clara was delivered by a stork a few days later.  Clara realizes that her sister can't stay in their mountain home forever and she must be taken to the ocean if she is going to live.  Auntie can't leave the mountain so Clara must do it.  Clara has help from O'Neill who is the adopted son of a traveling merchant.  They load Maren up in the gypsy wagon and head for the ocean.  The road holds many perils for them and they will have to use all of their wits, bravery and strength to get Maren to the ocean before it is too late.

I enjoyed this book quite a lot.  The story is interesting, there are no major plot holes, the grammar is good.  The pacing could use work, some places it is very fast and others it is quite slow.  The characters are likeable or detestable as the case may be.  The hint of magic running throughout the story and the deeply interwoven relationships are wonderful additions.  Many things appear to be coincidences but are not at all merely chance.  I am not especially fond of first person narration but this story pulls it off nicely.

Overall I would recommend this book to fans of magical stories.  It teaches a useful lesson about accepting yourself for who and what you are.  If you have a teenager struggling with self-identity this wold be a good book for them.  I found no objectionable content, no sex, no cursing, no drugs.

I received this book free from netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Essential Bar Book

This is a review for The Essential Bar Book by Jennifer Fiedler.
I gave this book ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ 2 stars, I disliked it.

Jennifer Fiedler is the author of a column for WineSpectator.com.  She covers their biweekly food and wine pairing column "8 & $20" and covers wine collecting, auctions, Q&As, and design for the magazine.  She has also co-written a book about making beer.

I find myself at a loss with this book.  I wanted to like it, I wanted it to be a great book but it failed to meet my expectations.   I feel like I am out of the target audience of this book.  I am well past the legal drinking age and I am quite familiar with various types of alcohol and a wide variety of drinks.  This book is intended more for complete novices who want to learn about drinks and liquors before going to bars and making fools of themselves.  At that it is a great book.  There are hundreds of definitions in this book as well as recipes for many great drinks.  Someone who is newly of drinking age would find this book very useful.  I intend to pass it along to my younger sister who is much closer to 21 than I am.

Aesthetically this book is very reminiscent of the 1920's.  It uses an old fashioned font and has a very 'art deco' feel to it.  The pages with definitions are white.  The pages with recipes are black.  Many of the pages that face each other are opposite colors.  For me, this is a design flaw.  It is very straining on the eyes to switch back and forth.  If your eyes are better than mine this probably won't bother you.

If you are about to or recently turned 21 this is a good book for you.  If you haven't ever bothered to learn much about alcohol and want to, you would find this book interesting.  If, however, you are like me and studied up on your liquor types and terms many moons ago when you were finally old enough to drink, this book won't do you much good.

I received this book from blogging for books in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Assassination Classroom

This is a review of Assassination Classroom volume 1 by Yusei Matsui.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.

"We are assassins and our target is our teacher."

I have to admit when I first saw this manga it didn't look that appealing to me.  I read the synopsis and it still looked strange to me, but I decided to pick it up and give it a try anyway.  I am very glad I did.  Despite appearances this manga is great.  It is equal parts hilarious and heartwarming.

Koro-sensei is not your average teacher.  The most obvious difference is the tentacles.  And then there is his ability to fly at mach 20.  And what normal teacher wants their students to kill them?  The students of class 3-E at Kunugigaoka Junior High are the losers and rejects of the school.  They climb a mountain and attend classes by themselves in the old run down school building.  They aren't allowed to enter main campus and the students of classes A-D would rather die than be sent to class E.  The remote classroom makes it the ideal place for training would be assassins.  Koro-sensei destroyed the moon and he vowed to destroy the earth in one year.  If the kids of class 3-E can assassinate him before they graduate the world will be saved.  No military in the world can kill him so how can 30 kids the world has given up get the job done?  And why did he choose to spend a year as a teacher if he is just going to destroy the world?

As he deflects assassination attempt after assassination attempt Koro-sensei is making real connections with his students.  He is slowly rebuilding their self-confidence and teaching them valuable life lessons.  This manga has a lot of gags, Koro-sensei can move at mach 20 so why eat reheated leftovers for lunch when you could just fly to China for fresh mapo tofu or to Italy for fresh gelato?

Despite the silliness this manga has a great plot.  Koro-sensei is reaching out to kids that feel like everyone has abandoned them and helping them to find their own value.  He always finds clever ways to boost their self-confidence.  There have been allusions to deeper reasons that he wants to teach this class.  He was very specific about which school and class he wanted to teach during his year between destructions.  I find myself not wanting to wait to read what happens next to this diverse class!

I honestly can't think of a manga that this is similar too, it has slice of life elements, school manga elements and supernatural elements.  I highly recommend it.  And once you have read the manga you should check out the anime!

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Scorch Trials

This is a review for The Scorch Trials by James Dashner.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ 4 stars, I liked it a lot.

This book is a sequel, as such this review will contain spoilers for the previous book.  If you want to read my review of The Maze Runner you can find it here.

Synopsis: This book starts up immediately after The Maze Runner.  Thomas and the other survivors of The Maze have been rescued.  They are in a safe house and out of the hands of WICKED.  Or are they?  The morning after their rescue everything starts going wrong.  There are crazy people outside the windows, their rescuers are dead and one of their own is missing.  To top it all off they are told that they are infected with a deadly illness and their only chance of being cured is to travel over 100 miles on foot in less than two weeks.  If they make it to the safe haven on the other side of a desert and a tall mountain range they will receive the cure.  If they don't make it they will die a horrible death.

The first couple of chapters started off slowly, the boys were reveling in food and freedom and generally enjoying not being in The Maze anymore.  Once the story really got going I had a hard time putting the book down.  Every time I would tell myself "at the end of this chapter it is time to go to bed" something terrible, mysterious, or otherwise compelling would happen at the end of the chapter and I had to keep going.  I stayed up half the night to finish the book!

The plot and story are very compelling.  The true nature of WICKED is hinted at a little more in this one than in Maze Runner.  Thomas is regaining more and more of his memories and piecing his own life together.  The Gladers encounter strangers, people unaffiliated with WICKED, so they learn more about the state of the world and a more clear picture of what they are facing begins to surface.  The reach and control of WICKED is also made clear in this book.  Something outside of the approved Variables for the test happens and WICKED immediately steps in to correct it.  This lets the Gladers know just how important the tests they are being forced to undergo are.

There were some things in this book that caused me to rate it less than it's predecessor.  Teresa's subplot was very frustrating to me.  Thomas' refusal to use his telepathy is very frustrating as well.  Much of the grief he put himself through could have been avoided if he had just telepathically communicated.  If I had the power to talk to my closest friend telepathically I would do it all the time, even if I was angry!  Some of the plot points in this book were very obvious to me, it astounded me that Thomas the genius missed the very obvious things that I saw, though to give the poor kid some credit he was a lot more stressed out than I am.

Frustrations aside The Scorch Trials is definitely a compelling and well written book.  Everyone who reads The Maze Runner should read The Scorch Trials as well! 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Magical Girl Apocalypse volume 2

This is a review for Magical Girl Apocalypse vol. 2 by Kentaro Sato.
I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ 4 stars, I liked it a lot.

"Death By A Thousand Cuties!"

Spoiler Warning!
This is a review for the second volume in a series.  To read my review of the first volume click here: Volume 1 If you choose to read the review for the second volume first you may find some spoilers for the first volume!

Synopsis:  In what is continuing to be the weirdest day of his like Kii Kogami and the few survivors he was able to find have taken refuge in a mall.  The mall may not be as safe as they hope and the Magical Girls aren't the only problems the ragtag band of survivors have to face.  They have to band together and start thinking about what they know about the magical menace if they want to survive.

This volume continues to be equal parts hilarious, disgusting and over the top ridiculous.  There are numerous pop culture references made in this volume.  New kinds of magical girls are appearing and the plot seems to be progressing nicely.  It isn't just mindless running from certain death, the characters are searching for ways to win and survive the apocalypse. 

As I said before, if you are looking for the next "Sailor Moon" keep going.  If you liked "Love in Hell" or "High School of the Dead" you will probably like this series.  It is definitely still not for those with weak stomachs!

Trigger Warning: there is an attempted rape in this volume.

Draw-a-saurus

This is a review for Draw-a-saurus by James Silvani
I give this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.

About the Author: James Silvani is an artist and illustrator who has done work for Warner Brothers, Disney, Dreamworks, Lucasfilm and Marvel Comics.  He lives in Hawaii and is an excellent dinosaur artist.

This book will help you draw all of the prehistoric reptiles you could ever want.  It starts you at the beginning with gathering your supplies and leads you all the way through to the very end with composing your backgrounds and adding fine details to your drawing.  The dinosaurs are split into logical groups and basic instruction is provided for each type of dinosaur along with variations.  Where it is possible Silvani has included a current animal to use as a reference, even if that reference only applies to skin texture or joint shape. 

This book is liberally peppered with interesting facts about dinosaurs and lots of humor.  Silvani does absolutely nothing to curb the artistic tangents you might find yourself on while drawing dinosaurs.  Dinosaurs with the coloring of cows? Dinosaurs doing the hokey pokey? Dinosaurs skipping through fields picking blueberries? Dinosaurs in spaaaaaaaaace?  Do what you want to do with your dinosaurs, Silvani is just here to help you make them look good!

I may be slightly biased in my assessment of this book because his work was a big part of my childhood.  However, I think this book is excellent!  I wish this book had been available when I was in first grade and utterly obsessed with dinosaurs, my drawings could definitely have used the help!  I can't wait for my second grader to get home from school to see his reaction to this book, he is going to love it!  If you want to learn to draw dinosaurs or if you have a child that wants to learn to draw dinosaurs this book is one you should definitely get!

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.