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!


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:
 "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:

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.