Book Review of Birth of the Bacchae by Joanna Ruth Meyer

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Title: Birth of the Bacchae

Author: Stephanie Mirro

Review by: Dani Hoots

Rating: 4/5

IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Back cover:

When the Roman god of wine and frenzies claims you as his own, things get chaotic. Fast.

Ever since archaeology student Serafina Finch found an ancient Roman amulet on a dig in Italy, she’s been having dreams. Strange dreams that leave her with an eerie sense of foreboding. But between a busy college schedule and a boyfriend she’s hoping to marry, she doesn’t have time for strange.

When a mysterious cult takes an obsessive interest in the artifact, Serafina finds her life in chaos. She’s thrown into a supernatural world, where Immortals and witches alike claim ownership of the amulet. Her amulet.

As her connection to the amulet grows, she discovers a dark secret about her past. Serafina realizes she must protect the powerful relic at all costs–even if it means losing one of the people she loves most.

If you didn’t know, I am trash for a good vampire story. I read the description of this story and found the idea of vampires being connected to the god Bacchus to be a cool take on it. I dowloaded the book and was not disappointed.

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I liked the connection of the vampire element with different mythologies. In this story, it was mainly based on the Roman mythology, with Bacchus being the main focus. Our main character, Sera, his an anthropologist, which I loved since I have a degree in anthropology. Man, I would have loved stumbling on some cool vampire artifact, but I digress. Her and her friend are pretty badass, but I didn’t like how much was kept from the main character. A lot could have been avoided if people just told her the truth.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book and am in the middle of the second. I will be sure to review the second book as well.

~Dani

Book Review of Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer

 

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Title: Echo North

Author: Joanna Ruth Meyer

Review by: Dani Hoots

Rating: 5/5

Changing Hands Bookstore | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Back cover:

he dreamed of the wood and the wolf who was trapped there…

Echo Alkaev’s safe and carefully structured world falls apart when her father leaves for the city and mysteriously disappears. Believing he is lost forever, Echo is shocked to find him half-frozen in the winter forest six months later, guarded by a strange talking wolf—the same creature who attacked her as a child. The wolf presents Echo with an ultimatum: if she lives with him for one year, he will ensure her father makes it home safely. But there is more to the wolf than Echo realizes.

In his enchanted house beneath a mountain, each room must be sewn together to keep the home from unraveling, and something new and dark and strange lies behind every door. When centuries-old secrets unfold, Echo discovers a magical library full of books- turned-mirrors, and a young man named Hal who is trapped inside of them. As the year ticks by, the rooms begin to disappear and Echo must solve the mystery of the wolf’s enchantment before her time is up—otherwise Echo, the wolf, and Hal will be lost forever.

This is probably one of my favorite YA fantasy books I have come across. It is well thought out, full of adventure and romance, and weaves in different folklore that I love. I love the idea of the beast being a wolf as in many cultures, wolves are seen as monstrous beings when really they are a beautiful creature that is often misunderstood. There were also elements of the Tam Lin story, which is also one of my favorites because of SJ Tucker’s song about him (listen to it here).

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Much of the story mirrors Beauty and the Beast, which was my favorite Disney story growing up. I probably have seen it a hundred times, of which my mother was glad it was a movie she liked. I loved how the house of the Wolf was mystical in its own way and was every changing and need to be weaved together. It is hard to explain without reading the book, but I found it a great spin. I also LOVED the idea of the book mirrors where you could travel into the stories and interact with them. I NEED THIS! VR is getting close, as some Japanese anime have made episodes where you can watch and move around in the scene, but it isn’t quite as interactive. Soon!

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All in all, I recommend this book to anyone who likes tales inspired by folklore, Beauty and the Beast, wolves, or all of the above!

~Dani

Book Review of Heartless by Tom Leveen

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Title: Heartless

Author: Tom Leveen

Review by: Dani Hoots

Rating: 5/5

Amazon/Barnes&Noble/Goodreads

Back cover:

Bram Stoker Award nominee Tom Leveen (Sick; Shackled) asks: What price will you pay for immortality?

Urban legends of a murderous figure called Springheel Jack date back to the 19th century. What Baylee is about to learn is that “he” is most certainly for real…and not alone. When her only living relative—her older brother—becomes one of the bloodthirsty creatures, Baylee’s sole chance to turn him back rests with the only people inclined to believe her story: her brother’s nerdy RPG gamer friends.

This story had me hooked! I read it all in one sitting while I was getting over a cold, and just couldn’t put it down! I love myth and legend horror (especially vampire and the *occasional* werewolf) and have found Springheel Jack stories to be quite interesting (such as Stephen King’s short story). This story was suspenseful, entertaining, and scary just like any horror story should be.

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All the characters were unique and interesting. My favorite was Timothy. I wanted to know more about him. Some of the story was left open in case there is a sequel, which I hope there is (won’t explain because of spoilers) but it came to a good close as well.

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All in all, I highly recommend for anyone who likes horror and wants to be scared, especially if they live in the desert (damn it, Tom Leveen!).

~Dani

Anime Review of Kamisama Kiss

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Series: Kamisama Kiss

English Producing Company: Funimation

Stream on: Funimation/Hulu

Genre: Comedy/Romance/Fantasy

Review by: Dani Hoots

Rating: 5/5

Description:

Nanami is a poor homeless high school girl until she accepts an offer to live at an old shrine – making her the new local god! After an awkward introduction, the handsome and hard-shelled fox spirit Tomoe reluctantly vows to protect her as her familiar. As Nanami learns the ins and outs of godhood, she meets more spirits along the way—including a cute snake god and a sexy crow demon!

This is one of my favorite anime and manga series. Although I love the manga series a lot more, as it goes in much more detail and actually comes to an end, I do love them both. The love story behind it is very well plotted out and intertwined. Nanami falls in love with her familiar, but her love is not returned. She is fine with this, and the two of them bicker a lot (like most animes) but the development of Tomoe and why he doesn’t like humans and why he can’t remember is really good. It is both warming and heart-breakening. A lot of stories I think make either one or the other, but this one does a good job spinning both of the feelings together.

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My favorite character is Tomoe, as he is one of my top five husbandos. His backstory and past are very interesting, even though I don’t think he really changed like some say he did. I like most kitsune though, and vampires. My friends say I have a type and I don’t know why they say that…

Anyway… I really hate Mizuki. He has a good story and reasoning for the way he is, but I really really dislike him. I’m with Tomoe on my feelings for him.

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All in all, I hope you check it out. Also, there were OTP episodes that I cannot find in the US so if you have a source for those (legally) please let me know. I need more…

~Dani

Anime Review of Maid Sama

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Series: Maid Sama

English Producing Company: Sentai

Stream on: Hulu/Netflix

Genre: Comedy/Romance

Review by: Dani Hoots

Rating: 5/5

Description:

Misaki Ayuzawa is the first female student council president at a once all-boys school turned co-ed. She rules the school with strict discipline demeanor. But she has a secret—she works at a maid cafe due to her families circumstances. One day the popular A-student and notorious heart breaker Takumi Usui finds out her secret and makes a deal with her to keep it hush from the school in exchange for spending some time with him.

This is one of my favorites that I like to have playing in the background while I am studying. It is cute, fun, and everyone loves a good tsundere love story. Misaki is a complete tsundere as she had a hard childhood with her father leaving her and her mother and sister to pick up his debt. She had had to help provide while going to school and becoming the school’s president. She is strong, awesome, but doesn’t want to fall in love. That is, until Usui finds out she works as a maid at a cosplay cafe and is intrigued by her personality and life. They grow closer, which Misaki isn’t very fond of. He causes a lot of trouble for her, which is fun to watch.

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There is a lot of comedy with this series, and it is light-hearted and adorable. It is based on a manga and only got one season, but it is worth a watch even if you have read the manga. There are some parts of the plot that are out of order, which just made it come to a close a little for the season which I enjoyed. There isn’t a mandatory Alice in Wonderland episode, but there is an episode based on the Peach Boy which I enjoy every time I watch it. The ending to that episode is so funny!

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All in all, if you want something cute and funny, this series is definitely for you! Let me know what you think of it in the comments!

~Dani

Manga Review of Cells at Work!

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Series: Cells at Work

US Publisher: Kodansha Comics

Mangaka: Akane Shimizu

Genre: Comedy/Science/Slice of Life/Action

Rating: 5/5

CLICK HERE TO BUY

Description:

Strep throat! Hay fever! Influenza! The world is a dangerous place for a red blood cell just trying to get her deliveries finished. Fortunately, she’s not alone … She’s got a whole human body’s worth of cells ready to help out! The mysterious white blood cell, the buff and brash killer T cell, the nerdy neuron, even the cute little platelets—everyone’s got to come together if they want to keep you healthy!

To be honest, this manga saved me in Disease Processes class last year. Each week I would look up the sections we were supposed to read of the textbook, then read the manga chapter that related, and it all made so much more sense. From what I know, a lot of biology and anatomy professors are loving this series as it is another way students can learn about the body. I told my anatomy professor about this series, although I’m not sure if she ever watched it. She was interested though and from the couple of minutes I sent her, she said it was pretty accurate.

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In looking at just the manga and not the anime, which follows pretty closely, the characters are funny, adorable, and they really explain how cells grow up in your body and what jobs they each have. I really like white blood cell as he is trying to learn more about the body, although it isn’t his job.

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I am pretty excited about the spin offs that they have. I didn’t realize they had been translated and are available as e-books. I definitely will be downloading them and helping support the medical knowledge I gained in the past couple of years.

To conclude, if you want a cute series that will definitely help you in anatomy, disease processes, or just want to learn more about how your body works, I recommend this. Even if you don’t care for science, it is a great series. Check it out and let me know what you think!

~Dani

Comic Review of Grimoire Noir

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Series: Grimoire Noir

Written by: Vera Greentea

Illustrated by: Yana Bogatch

Published by: First Second

Rating: 4/5

Get a copy here

Description:

Bucky Orson is a bit gloomy, but who isn’t at fifteen?

His best friend left him to hang out with way cooler friends, his dad is the town sheriff, and wait for it—he lives in Blackwell, a town where all the girls are witches. But when his little sister is kidnapped because of her extraordinary power, Bucky has to get out of his own head and go on a strange journey to investigate the small town that gives him so much grief. And in the process he uncovers the town’s painful history and a conspiracy that will change it forever.

The art for this series really caught my eye and is why I ordered it through my comic book store. I also really like any story with witches and like to see what kind of magic an author decides to use. In this story, all the girls in town are witches and have their own different types of power—some can use fire, some can fly, some can turn invisible, and so on. No one can leave the town either, that way the witches would be confined to the area and protected from the outside world.

But who wants to be confined, am I right?

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There is a lot going on in this story and I felt some parts weren’t completely flushed out and lot was left open. I don’t mind some parts to be left open for sequels and such, but I felt like it ended a little abruptly and there were still a lot of unanswered questions. Most of it was the chase and everything, but then in the last few pages it just kind of all happened and was resolved. There needed to be a little more clues and things to be revealed before how it ended. I enjoyed it a lot though and definitely recommend it.

I felt for the character Chamomile and how she was written. I probably cared about her more than the main guy, and I’m still not sure about their past and what had happened between them. It didn’t seem like something that would end a friendship like they had and I wished we learned a little more. All in all, the art was beautiful and there was enough of the story that it kept me reading until I finished it, as I wanted to know what happened next.

Check it out and let me know what you think in the comments!

~Dani

Anime Review of RobiHachi

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Series: RobiHachi

English Producing Company: Funimation

Stream on: Funimation/Hulu

Genre: Sci-fi/Comedy/Action&Adventure

Review by: Dani Hoots

Rating: 5/5

Description:

Down-on-his-luck Robby Yarge is about to go from deep trouble to deep space! After a second encounter with Hatchi Kita ends with him on the run, Robby decides to make for Isekandar, a planet that promises happiness. But when he finds Hatchi stowed away on his ship, the two will make the journey across the stars together! Can these total opposites survive a trek through space?

I picked up this anime because I like watching comedies while working and because it was also sci-fi. It’s sometimes hard to find a comical sci-fi series that has a pretty cool plot at the same time. This series, I found out, is loosely based on the story Tōkaidōchū Hizakurigewhich is written in the early 1800s. I thought it was really cool to have a sci-fi series based on an old story, like Treasure Planet. It inspires me to take an old fairy tale and make it futuristic, but I’m not sure which one I would want to write about…

In this series, my favorite character is Robby. He is gambler and keeps losing money, but when he can’t pay back Yang, he decides to try his luck with Isekandar. He learns many lessons on the way, as any good character should. Yang is after him the entire way and I love how Yang is so obsessed with Robby. In the English dub, the way he says “Robby” is priceless. I keep trying to practice it but haven’t quite got it down. But the entire story is all the pit stops they take before getting to Isekandar. All the planets are unique and interesting, and I liked how they included a little nod to another anime, but I won’t spoil which one it is.

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Hachi is also a great character who evolves throughout the story. We find out more and more about him and I think he had pretty good development. At first I didn’t care for him but by the end I liked him a lot.  The stupid stuff the two of them get into, and how each one reacts to it, is pretty entertaining.

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So all in all, I recommend this anime if you are a fan of silly but great sci-fi, especially anything based on historic tales. If you watch it, let me know what you think in the comments!

~Dani

 

Manga Review of Bloody Mary

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Series: Blood Mary

US Publisher: VIZ

Imprint: Shoujo Beat

Genre: Vampire/Drama/Supernatural/Boy Love

Rating: 4/5

CLICK HERE TO BUY

Description:

“Bloody” Mary is not your typical vampire. He can withstand sunlight, holds a reflection in mirrors, refuses to drink blood—and wants 17-year-old student and priest Maria to kill him. But to Mary’s dismay, Maria doesn’t know how to kill vampires. Desperate to die, Mary agrees to become Maria’s bodyguard until Maria can find a way to kill him at last.

The art for this series really drew me in (and the fact it was about vampires). The story started out a little slow, as we are introduced to the world of Bloody(Mary) and Maria. There is a lot going on in this world, so it took a while to a hang of what was going on, and every time you thought you understood, a secret was revealed that always threw me for a loop. It was definitely a well-crafted series.

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One problem I did have with the series was that it didn’t feel as romantic as what seemed to be hinted (mainly by the covers). While it is touched on near the end, I felt the author could have elaborated more and hinted more about what was going on through their heads about each other.

All the characters that were introduced were well established and their reasoning and background made sense. I hated a few of them, but at least their drive made sense to me. My favorite character was Bloody because lets be honest, he’s so adorable!

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All in all, I definitely enjoyed this series, especially as a fan of vampire stories. I would recommend it to anyone who loves the vampire or BL genre. It is a completed series so you don’t need to wait for any more to come out and the author ended it in a good spot and it felt complete. Be sure to check it out and let me know what you think!

Also, did I mention I like vampires?

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~Dani

 

Comic Review of Black Canary: Ignite

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Title: Black Canary: Ignite

Author: Meg Cabot

Artist: Cara McGee

Rating: 5/5

Amazon/Barnes&Noble/Changing Hands/Indie Bound/Book Depository

Description:

Thirteen-year-old Dinah Lance knows exactly what she wants, who she is, and where she’s going. First, she’ll win the battle of the bands with her two best friends, then she’ll join the Gotham City Junior Police Academy so she can solve crimes just like her dad. Who knows, her rock-star group of friends may even save the world, but first they’ll need to agree on a band name. When a mysterious figure keeps getting in the way of Dinah’s goals and threatens her friends and family, she’ll learn more about herself, her mother’s secret past, and navigating the various power chords of life.

With expressive and energetic art by Cara McGee to match the trademark attitude and spunk of Meg Cabot’s characters and dialogue, this mother-daughter story embraces the highs and lows of growing up without growing out of what makes us unique. It’s an inspirational song that encourages readers to find their own special voices to sing along with Black Canary!

I came across this comic because I’m a big fan of Cara McGee’s art. One of my favorite commissions is from Emerald City Comic Con this year where she drew a punk version of Crowley Eusford from Seraph of the End (aka my husbando <3) I love it a lot and have it in my living room/anime room.

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Anyway, I heard about it through her website and saw that it was written by Meg Cabot. It’s like a win-win! Meg Cabot is great author who wrote the Princess Diaries! So I figured this would have to be good (spoilers: it was).

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This graphic novel follows the origin story of the Black Canary. She is a teen who wants to be a police officer and is the main singer in a band. Weird stuff starts to happen because of her voice, as anyone who knows Black Canary knows, and she has to figure out what she wants to do. It’s a simple plot, but it is made for 8-12 year olds so it has to stay pretty simple. Even with it being a simple plot, the art and story was good and I definitely recommend it to anyone who loves DC, punk art, or Black Canary!