Manga Review of Act-Age

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Series: Act-Age

US Publisher: VIZ Media

Tatsuya Matsuki (Author), Shiro Usazaki (Illustrator)

Genre: Coming of Age/Adventure

Rating: 4/5

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Description:

Kei Yonagi must delve deep into her psyche to succeed in the cutthroat world of acting, but can she keep her sanity while doing so?

Is there a method to Kei Yonagi’s madness when it comes to acting? The young actor has a family of siblings to feed, but she finds herself struggling with her psychological demons when playing a role. Her desperate acting catches the eye of a famous director, Sumiji Kuroyama, who’s looking for raw talent to mold. Can he help Yonagi navigate the cutthroat world of acting without losing her sanity?

*received an ARC from VIZ via Netgalley for an honest review*

I found this story to be quite interesting. It follows Kei as she wants to be an actress and support her brother and sister. She is obsessed with movies and associates things her life to feel the emotions. She is a method actress and becomes who she is supposed to be playing. The first manga is about how she gets selected by a director/agent.

The plot was interesting, and while the characters are quite unique, I couldn’t get into it. I think a lot of people may like it, and that is why I gave it 4 stars, but I don’t feel it is one I would continue. It just isn’t my style, and I didn’t care for the art. It isn’t a style I like and I felt there were quite a few mistakes for a published manga. As for the pacing, it is a little slow, but it picks up at the end. I definitely recommend for people who like stories about actors and actresses.

~Dani

Book Review of The Damned by Renée Ahdieh

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Title: The Damned

Author: Renée Ahdieh

Review by: Dani Hoots

Rating: 5/5

IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Back cover:

New York Times bestselling author Renée Ahdieh returns with the second installment of her new sumptuous, sultry and romantic series, The Beautiful.

Following the events of The Beautiful, Sébastien Saint Germain is now cursed and forever changed. The treaty between the Fallen and the Brotherhood has been broken, and war between the immortals seems imminent. The price of loving Celine was costly.

But Celine has also paid a high price for loving Bastien. Still recovering from injuries sustained during a night she can’t quite remember, her dreams are troubled. And she doesn’t know she has inadvertently set into motion a chain of events that could lead to her demise and unveil a truth about herself she’s not ready to learn.

Forces hiding in the shadows have been patiently waiting for this moment. And just as Bastien and Celine begin to uncover the danger around them, they learn their love could tear them apart.

The Damned, Renée’s latest installment in The Beautiful series is just as decadent, thrilling, and mysterious as her last, as she continues her most potent fantasy series yet.

This book was nonstop magical! From page one I was hooked! I finished the first book a couple of months ago (see book 1 review here) and I enjoyed it a lot, but this one was all that and more!

*Warning, Book 1 spoilers below*

Book 1 leaves off with Celine having her memories of Bastien wiped and Bastien having been turned into a vampire. Instead of starting off with Celine, whom was the main character for the first book, this story mostly takes place from Bastien’s POV and other vampires in his group. I loved this duality, so we finally see what is going one behind the series. The first book was a little slow, although there is something to be said about slow paced books to really set the mood, but this one is nonstop. We learn a lot more about the folklore behind vampires and the werewolves. I won’t spoil any more, but this a mythology that is well weaved together and left me wanting more. I really want to read book 3 right now!

If you didn’t care for book 1, I highly recommend still picking this book up to read. You will not be disappointed!

~Dani

Manga Review of Prince Freya Vol. 1 & 2

Series: Prince Freya Vol 1 & 2

US Publisher: VIZ Media

Mangaka: Keiko Ishihara

Genre: Action/Fantasy

Rating: 5/5

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Description:

Freya thinks of herself as a simple village girl, but her idyllic life is shattered when she is caught up in the aftermath of a treacherous Sigurdian plot. She bears a striking resemblance to her country’s beloved Prince Edvard, who lays dying from poison. Without its ruler, all of Tyr will quickly be engulfed by Sigurdian violence. Now Freya must take Prince Edvard’s place and lead his valiant knights in defending the realm!

Vol 1:

This series starts out introducing the kingdom of Tyr and the impending war from the Sigurdian army. I find the mix of Viking folklore but also creating one’s own world to be quite fascinating. It was definitely a world I was interested in and found myself hooked at the start.

In the beginning, Freya felt a little too helpless to me, but she grows in character in the first and second volume. Although it appears to be almost lighthearted, I will warn you now, this is not for the faint of heart. There are some really sad scenes that made me want to throw the manga (except I read it on my iPad so I wasn’t going to. I am really fascinated, however, and definitely want to read what happens.

Vol 2:

*received an ARC from VIZ via Netgalley for an honest review*

In this volume, I feel Freya definitely grows as a character and we see what causes it (no spoilers). We also learn more about the surrounding characters, and about the different towns. I feel it still is a little bit of setting up the world, but still has enough movement to keep you reading. I am looking forward to see what happens in book 3. I want to know more about Sir Julius and what is going on with him. The art is beautiful and very well done. I recommend to anyone who likes Viking history and fantasy.

~Dani

Book Review of Opium and Absinthe by Lydia Kong

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Title: Opium and Absinthe

Author: Lydia Kang

Review by: Dani Hoots

Rating: 5/5

Amazon

Back cover:

From the bestselling author of A Beautiful Poison comes another spellbinding historical novel full of intrigue, occult mystery, and unexpected twists.

New York City, 1899. Tillie Pembroke’s sister lies dead, her body drained of blood and with two puncture wounds on her neck. Bram Stoker’s new novel, Dracula, has just been published, and Tillie’s imagination leaps to the impossible: the murderer is a vampire. But it can’t be—can it?

A ravenous reader and researcher, Tillie has something of an addiction to truth, and she won’t rest until she unravels the mystery of her sister’s death. Unfortunately, Tillie’s addicted to more than just truth; to ease the pain from a recent injury, she’s taking more and more laudanum…and some in her immediate circle are happy to keep her well supplied.

Tillie can’t bring herself to believe vampires exist. But with the hysteria surrounding her sister’s death, the continued vampiric slayings, and the opium swirling through her body, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for a girl who relies on facts and figures to know what’s real—or whether she can trust those closest to her.

I haven’t read any historical mysteries in quite a while, but when I saw this one had the folklore of vampires, I couldn’t resist. From page one, I was hooked on this story. It started off with Tillie getting injured from a horse-riding accident. She gets treated with some opium, and slowly the opium addiction Tillie faces starts to develop. I could tell Kang did a lot of research on the history of medicine during this time. I loved how it was weaved into the story and had a big part of what challenges Tillie faced.

The mystery of her sister’s death was also well set up. There were a lot of twists and turns, and I didn’t know who to trust. I really loved how much suspense and mystery there was. Although there were some parts that felt a little slow, I felt it was good pacing overall.

If you enjoy Historical Fiction and Amateur Sleuths, I highly recommend!

~Dani

Book Review of The End of Magic by Mark Stay

 

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Title: The End of Magic

Author: Mark Stay

Review by: Dani Hoots

Rating: 5/5

Or Buy Here

Back cover:

Two powerful mages. One steeped in privilege, the other bound by a moral code. Their world is thrown into chaos by the end of magic.

‘What will you do when the magic is gone?’

Sander Bree is a royal mage. He lives an easy life advising the king on matters of court and politics, yet he still complains that he’s stuck in a rut.

Rosheen Katell is a wandering mage and, with Anzu her griffin, she’s worked hard to build a reputation as a trustworthy truth seer. She never lies, never kills.

Very soon, their magic will be gone. A cataclysmic event will change their lives and world forever.

Sander must keep a promise that would have been difficult enough with magic, but is a suicide mission without it.

Rosheen is forced to side with a murderous warlord, and her once-solid principles are tested and found wanting. Both will be set against one another in a war unlike anything the world has seen before, in this sweeping fantasy of magic’s ending.

A stand alone fantasy novel for fans of Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch

This story is a mix of fantasy, adventure, mystery, and friendship. The main characters must help to save the life of a young girl as she is dying from poison. The only way to do this is to go get mermaid blood. This is not an easy task, especially since something happens and magic is no more.

Stay does a great job weaving in different characters. I really liked Rosheen and her griffin Anzu. She faces a lot of trouble as magic is now gone and she must fight without it. She is an awesome character that I enjoyed a lot!

I definitely recommend to anyone who loves fantasy!

~Dani

 

About the Author

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Mark Stay co-wrote the screenplay for Robot Overlords which became a movie with Sir Ben Kingsley and Gillian Anderson, and premiered at the 58th London Film Festival. Author of the fantasy novel The End of Magic, he is also co-presenter of the Bestseller Experiment podcast and worked in bookselling and publishing for over twenty-five years. He lives in Kent, England, with his family and a trio of retired chickens. He blogs and humblebrags over at markstaywrites.com

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Manga Review of RWBY: The Official Manga, Vol. 1: The Beacon Arc

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Series: RWBY: The Official Manga, Vol. 1: The Beacon Arc

US Publisher: VIZ Media

Mangaka: Bunta Kinami

Genre: Action/Fantasy

Rating: 5/5

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Description:

Experience the introductory arc of the international smash hit series RWBY in a whole new way—manga!

Monsters known as the Grimm are wreaking havoc on the world of Remnant. Ruby Rose seeks to become a Huntress, someone who eliminates the Grimm and protects the land. She enrolls at Beacon Academy, eager for the tests and combat challenges to come.

Ruby knows she has the talent to achieve her goal, but is she ready to clash with Weiss Schnee, a fellow student and the haughty scion of the Schnee Dust Company?

*I received this manga from Netgalley for an honesty review*

I watched the show a while back and love it! I was excited to be given a copy for an honest review. This manga follows the show as much as I can remember. The art is beautiful and I really admired it. I believe it brings the right style to mimic the anime, but also be it’s own thing.

This series has strong female characters that kick butt, mystery, suspense, friendship, heartbreak, plot twists, and cunning bad guys. Although the first season/manga is more setting up who the characters are and how the became a group, make sure to keep on reading/watching as the plot starts to speed up, we learn more about the world, and fall in love with he characters.

So if you love RWBY, give this a read, or if this is new to you and you love strong female characters with a fantasy element, definitely check this out!

~Dani

Manga Review of Kakushigoto: My Dad’s Secret Ambition

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Series: Kakushigoto: My Dad’s Secret Ambition

US Publisher: Kodansha Comics

Mangaka: Akane Shimizu

Genre: Comedy/Slice of Life

Rating: 5/5

CLICK HERE TO BUY

Description:

Kakushi Gotou is a single father with a secret: he’s a top-selling manga artist of a raunchy series that perhaps isn’t suitable reading material for his young daughter, Hime. So he does what any doting father would do—he hides it all from her, no matter the hijinks that ensue!

*I received this manga from Netgalley for an honesty review*

This series is really adorable! A single father going WAY out of his way to make sure his daughter doesn’t find out that he writes dirty manga. The stories are short and sometimes play on top of each other. I really liked how there were notes from the author on how some of the stuff has happened to him, and how it is in the manga business. You learn a bit of what goes on and at the same time, are laughing at what this father is willing to do. I have seen some spoilers from Funimation, but I am not sure of all that happens at the end of this series, but I think it might be a little sad so heads up! It is also an anime on Funimation, but I haven’t finished it yet.

If you like slice of life, definitely check out this series!

~Dani

Movie Review ~ Flavors of Youth (2018)

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Language watched: English

Rating: 5/5

Netflix Internation Version

From CoMix Wave Films, the creative visionaries behind the international phenomenon Your Name, comes Netflix’s new anime feature film Flavors of Youth. Told in three chapters in three cities, Flavors of Youth explores the simple joys of life through sensual memories and how the beating heart of love cannot be defeated by the flow of time.

This is quite a cute anthology of three different stories about growing up, how time passes us by, and how even if things change, it might be for the worse. There are sad parts of the three stories, and there are uplifting as well. As always, this studio brings you a range of emotions and leaves you satisfied. Life is what you make it, and while you can’t go back into the past, you can shape your own future. I definitely recommend for anyone who enjoyed Your Name or Weathering with You.

Dani

Book Review of The Awakening by L. J. Smith

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Title: The Awakening

Series: The Vampire Diaries

Author: L.J. Smith

Review by: Dani Hoots

Rating: 2/5

IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Back cover:

The first book in L.J. Smith’s New York Times bestselling Vampire Diaries series, the basis of the hit CW TV show starring Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley, and Ian Somerhalder.

Elena Gilbert is a high school golden girl, used to getting what she wants. And who she wants. But when the boy she’s set her sights on—the handsome and haunted Stefan—isn’t interested, she’s confused. She could never know the real reason Stefan is struggling to resist her:

Stefan is a vampire, and Elena’s in danger just by being around him. What’s more, Stefan’s dark, dangerous vampire brother Damon has just arrived in town. And wherever Damon goes, trouble always follows.

Fans of The Vampire Diaries TV show will find this book packed with the same kind of heart-stopping suspense, fierce romances, and jaw-dropping surprises that they know and love, all brought to life by New York Times bestselling author L.J. Smith.

I am a fan of The Vampire Diaries TV show and finally got around to reading this book. By the first chapter, I noticed a lot of differences from the show, which I totally understand as telling stories on TV is a lot different than with a book. So I treated it as a completely different story.

But that being said, I did not enjoy this story at all.

First off, I did not care about Elena whatsoever. She was a B**** to everyone around her. First, she walks down the hallway of school and just feels all the boys wanting her (even her uncle makes a comment about her dress before prom). It is implied all of them want to or have dated her. Currently she is dating Matt but the moment she sees Stefan, she tosses Matt to the side and goes after Stefan. She starts rumors about Stefan so no other girl will go out with him. Then prom comes, Stefan is ignoring her because he realizes she looks like Katherine, and he doesn’t want to hurt her. He ends up going with someone else and Elena, who has Matt help her by trying to make Stefan jealous, find him with someone else so she runs off with another guy to go party in the cemetery, where her parents are buried, and leaves her friends behind without telling them where she went.

Yeah, no. I don’t care about this main character. She never realizes her mistakes, doesn’t care she makes others worry, all she cares about herself, and it doesn’t ever get better. I do not recommend this book. I am glad they changed Elena in the TV series.

~Dani

Book Review of Omnihumans by Tom Leveen

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Title: Omnihumans

Author: Tom Leveen

Review by: Dani Hoots

Rating: 5/5

Amazon/Barnes&Noble

Back cover:

He’ll sacrifice anything to save these children. . . except being human.

The world became aware of them sixty years ago: people with remarkable physical and sometimes psychic powers, often with terrifying deformities. Most folks call them deviants; deevs for short. Rejecting the slur, they call themselves omnihumans.
Manic is a federal officer tasked with taking down allegedly dangerous deevs. He loves his job, and he’s damn good at it. He’d wipe ’em all off the face of the earth if he could, because he believes every deev out there is a threat to mankind, just by their very existence. Not everyone agrees with him, though, including his only child—a naïve college girl who has devoted her life to protecting the civil rights of those very same deviants that he hauls in off the streets.
When his daughter’s tuition funds suddenly run out, Manic accepts a high-paying, off-the-books gig assassinating individual deevs. But after learning a deviant he’s killed was hunting down gangsters trafficking in the minds and bodies of human children, Manic decides to inherit the deviant’s quest.
Manic’s identity and clarity of purpose are thrown into chaos when he uncovers the concrete labyrinth where the gangsters are doing their dirty work. There, he finds a vigilante deviant who’s also trying to destroy the organization. Manic discovers deevs may be more human than not, as it becomes irrevocably clear that rescuing these most innocent of humans may not only cost Manic his life . . . but his humanity . . .

This book reminded me a lot of the show Heroes and the X-Men, but if it was told in the perspective of those who were hunting the mutants. The press portrays these omnihumans as being dangerous, and Manic really could use the money for his daughter’s tuition. And at the same time, he would be keeping the city safe, right?

Right?

Leveen does a great job portraying the mental process of reasoning out what is right and wrong for someone in this possession. Manic wants to do what is right, but how does one know what is right? At the same time, Malakai, an omnihuman, is trying to save someone child from a human trafficking wring. What will happen when these two go head to head? Will Manic be faced with the realization that maybe these omnihumans aren’t as dangerous as they are? Or will he follow orders?

This is a great military sci-fi for anyone who loves this aspect of X-Men. I highly recommend to fans of this genre!

~Dani