Mini Reviews

Hello!

Another bunch of smaller reviews today, some are netgalley reads (marked with a disclaimer) and a couple that I’ve picked up elsewhere. I will have another of these up in a couple of days as I catch up with my reviews, and then one on Sunday for my self-published reads. I also have longer reviews coming for the Emaneska series by Ben Galley and Sorcery of a Queen by Brian Naslund.

Roaring – Lindsey Duga [Release date 3rd August 2020, Entangled Publishing]

Genre: YA Fantasy

*Disclaimer: I received an e-arc of this book from netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Book Summary

Review:

I really enjoyed the wonderful blending between the Prohibition era and the fantastical elements, it was a premise that intrigued me from the start, and it was executed brilliantly. The book had a real feel for the era, especially with the use of language/terminology from the period. The way the monster trade is woven into this world based on reality was well done, and I liked that it was so established in the world, that there was a bureau to deal with it.

Roaring takes the concept of sirens and turns into something new. It was refreshing not only to see that removed from the ocean setting, but to see the siren’s voice affect not only people but time and objects, and to see her actively trying to avoid using that power. Eris was a lovely character – not like most flappers, with her dreams of a smaller, quieter life – and I liked her from the start, her POV and character voice was definitely my favourite from the beginning of the book. On the other hand, it took me a little longer to warm to Colt, and even by the end of the book, I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about him as a character.

There were a few places where the plot felt a little rushed. With certain points not meshing as seamlessly with the rest of the narrative, mostly due to the length and the fact that this a standalone. This story did play to some clichés such as instalove and was somewhat predictable in places. That said, this was a highly entertaining read that kept you reading from start to finish with a lot of action, and I would recommend this to anyone looking for a different take of Sirens, or who love historical fantasy.

Rating: *** (3/5 Stars)

Purchase Links: Amazon UK | Amazon US

***** *****

Neverland’s Library – by Alana Joli Abbott, Marsheila Rockwell, Jeffrey Mariotte, Kenny Soward, Betsy Dornbusch, Keith Gouveia, Jeff Salyards, William Meikle, Ian Creasey, Mercedes M. Yardley, Peter Rawlik, Joseph Lallo, R.S. Belcher, Marie Brennan [Release Date 11th August 2020, Outland Entertainment]

Genre: Fantasy, Anthology

*Disclaimer: I received an e-arc of this book from netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Book Summary:

DRAGONS, MAGIC, PRINCESSES OF MIGHTY KINGDOMS…

Elements of fantasy that have carried on throughout the many ages, and yet, may one day be forgotten.

Enter and delve into the roots of fantasy, rediscovering the fantastic and exploring lost worlds. This is storytelling at its best.

Neverland’s Library is a collection of original works that will take you back to that moment when you first fell in love with the genre; featuring stories from writers across the spectrum, such as Marie Brennan, R.S. Belcher, Mercedes M. Yardley, Jeff Salyards, Marsheila Rockwell and Jeffrey Mariotte, and more.

Review:

    This was a fantastic collection of short stories, and a much needed escape from the real world. There were some stories that didn’t work quite as well for me, but that was more due to personal taste than any problem with the writing, as I found the quality of writing across the entire collection was excellent and it was a great chance to discover authors I hadn’t read before. Each of the stories had a satisfying ending, while leaving you wanting to read more about the worlds and characters, and that can be a difficult balance to achieve. I loved the sheer variety in this book, it felt like a buffet of what fantasy has to offer, and I would highly recommend to anyone wanting an entertaining escape from the world and who loves shorter stories.

Rating: **** (4/5 Stars)

Preorder Links: Amazon UK | Amazon US

***** *****

There Are Things I Can’t Tell You – Edako Mofumofu [Release date 21st July 2020, Diamond Book Distributors – Tokyopop]

Genre: Manga, LQBTQIA, Romance

*Disclaimer: I received an e-arc of this book from netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Book Summary:

Review:

    The cover is absolutely stunning, and I really enjoyed the art-style throughout. Some of the transitions between scenes, particularly with the flashbacks were a little jarring in places, and overall I feel that this manga could have worked a little better if it had been longer. That said, I absolutely adored the characters and the story, and while a lot could have been resolved with better communication, their reasons were believable and you couldn’t help but emphasize with both of them, and it was a wonderful blend of mutual pining and angst with a realistically happy ending (with Kyousuke’s professional success and progression still a work in progress).

Rating: **** (4/5 Stars)

Purchase Links:  Toppings & Company |Waterstones|Amazon UK | Amazon US

*release date in UK bookstores is 21st Jan 2021. Available via kindle or Amazon US now.

***** *****

A Gentle Noble’s Vacation Recommendation, Vol. 1 – Momochi, Misaki, Sando [Release date 11th August 2020, Diamond Book Distributors – Tokyopop]

Genre: Manga, Fantasy/Historical

*Disclaimer: I received an e-arc of this book from netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Book Summary:

When Lizel mysteriously finds himself in a city that bears odd similarities to his own but clearly isn’t, he quickly comes to terms with the unlikely truth: this is an entirely different world. Even so, laid-back Lizel isn’t the type to panic. He immediately sets out to learn more about this strange place, and to help him do so, hires a seasoned adventurer named Gil as his tour guide and protector. Until he’s able to find a way home, Lizel figures this is a perfect opportunity to explore a new way of life adventuring as part of a guild. After all, he’s sure he’ll go home eventually… might as well enjoy the otherworldly vacation for now!

Review:

   First and foremost, I have to say that the artwork is absolutely stunning. Incredibly detailed and expressive, it really brought the characters and world to life, and made this manga a delight to read for that alone. I also really enjoyed the dynamics between the two main characters, and this first volume has left me wanting to get to know more about Gil and Lizel and to see where their relationship goes from here. I also enjoyed the twist on the Isekai genre, and how Lizel took the situation in his stride (and it makes me curious to know what his other life/world is like to make him react like this).

Where I felt that it slipped a little was in terms of plot, as there wasn’t too much in this volume and more questions than answers, although I believe that this will be remedied in future volumes from how it progressed. This volume felt very much like the tutorial level in a MMORPG, so it stands to reason that it was slower paced and would not have as much ‘plot’ as it will in the future. My only other criticism, is that it would have helped the flow of the story to have the time marked more clearly, as I was unsure of how much time had passed since Lizel had arrived and the rest of the events.

That said, I really enjoyed dipping my toes in this new adventure/world and I look forward to seeing where it goes from here.

Rating: **** (4/5 Stars)

Preorder Links: Waterstones| Amazon UK | Amazon US

***** *****

Cagaster Vol 1 – Kachou Hasimoto [Release date 25th August 2020, Diamond Book Distributors

Genre: Manga, Fantasy

*Disclaimer: I received an e-arc of this book from netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Book Summary:

It’s the year 2125, and a strange plague called “Cagaster” appears. One-in-a-thousand people is infected by this disease, which turns humans into monstrous cannibalistic insects. Two-thirds of humanity is decimated… 30 years later, young expert bug exterminator and mercenary adventurer Kidou and newfound friend Ilie struggle to survive in this brutal new world, while delving into the mysteries of the plague and its causes. Kidou is tasked with finding Ilie’s mother, after being entrusted with her by her dying father. Meanwhile, the battle continues to rage against the mutated population of Earth, with the code possibly being cracked to finally end the nightmare. Cagaster is a thrilling shonen adventure into a strange apocalyptic universe, somewhere between Mad Max and Attack on Titan. Published by Tokuma Shoten in Japan, Cagaster has been adapted into an Anime series by Gonzo Animation called Cagaster of an Insect Cage under the direction of Koichi Chigira (Tokyo Babylon, Full Metal Panic!, Last Exile) which is streaming now on Netflix!

Review:

A good start to the series, and I particularly enjoyed the action panels. However, I found that it took me almost until the end of the book to find myself really pulled into the plot, or invested in the characters to the level you would want. However, it’s an interesting premise and a good foundation for the story to come, and I am curious to see where it goes in future volumes.

Rating: *** (3/5 Stars)

Purchase Links: Waterstones|Amazon UK | Amazon US

***** *****

Koimonogatari: Love Stories, Vol. 1 – Tohru Tagura [Release date 19th May 2020, Diamond Book Distributors)

Genre: Manga, LGBTQIA

*Disclaimer: I received an e-arc of this book from netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

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Book Summary:

When Yuji accidentally overhears his classmate Yamato confessing to another friend that he’s gay, his perspective shifts. Seeing Yamato in a new light, Yuji does his best not to let prejudice color his view, but he still finds himself overthinking his classmates’ interactions now. He especially notices the way Yamato looks at one particular boy: Yuji’s own best friend. Even though he tells himself he shouldn’t get involved, Yuji finds he just can’t help it; watching Yamato’s one-sided love draws him in a way he never expected. At first, it’s empathy, knowing that the boy Yamato has his sights on is definitely straight and has no idea. But as his own friendship with Yamato develops and the two of them grow closer through a mutual study group, Yuji comes to truly care about Yamato as a person, regardless of his sexuality. He only wants Yamato to be happy, and to be able to express his true self.

Review:

I have mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand, the cover caught my attention and the artwork was lovely throughout, and I liked the premise and want to see where it will go. However, it was very slow-paced with very little happening, and while this is the first in the series it would have been nice to see a little more of the plot. I also found it difficult connecting to the characters, until towards the end of the book. That said I think this manga has potential, and I am very interested to see where it goes in future volumes.

Rating: *** (3/5 Stars)

Purchase Links: Waterstones | Amazon UK | Amazon US
***** *****
Diary of a Bookseller – Shaun Bythell
Genre: Nonfiction, Autobiography
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Book Summary:

Shaun Bythell owns The Bookshop, Wigtown – Scotland’s largest second-hand bookshop. It contains 100,000 books, spread over a mile of shelving, with twisting corridors and roaring fires, and all set in a beautiful, rural town by the edge of the sea. A book-lover’s paradise? Well, almost …

In these wry and hilarious diaries, Shaun provides an inside look at the trials and tribulations of life in the book trade, from struggles with eccentric customers to wrangles with his own staff, who include the ski-suit-wearing, bin-foraging Nicky. He takes us with him on buying trips to old estates and auction houses, recommends books (both lost classics and new discoveries), introduces us to the thrill of the unexpected find, and evokes the rhythms and charms of small-town life, always with a sharp and sympathetic eye.

Review:
This book was recommended by a friend who’d absolutely adored it, and I am glad I picked it up as I enjoyed every moment. As someone who works in a second-hand shop, these stories resonated, and I loved the author’s writing and tone. This story made laugh, wince in sympathy and I enjoyed it immensely from start to finish.
Rating: **** (4/5 Stars)
***** *****

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West – Dee Brown

Genre: Audiobook, Nonfiction, History

34739900

Book Summary:

First published in 1970, this extraordinary book changed the way Americans think about the original inhabitants of their country. Beginning with the Long Walk of the Navajos in 1860 and ending 30 years later with the massacre of Sioux men, women, and children at Wounded Knee in South Dakota, it tells how the American Indians lost their land and lives to a dynamically expanding white society. During these three decades, America’s population doubled from 31 million to 62 million. Again and again, promises made to the Indians fell victim to the ruthlessness and greed of settlers pushing westward to make new lives. The Indians were herded off their ancestral lands into ever-shrinking reservations, and were starved and killed if they resisted.

It is a truism that “history is written by the victors”; for the first time, this book described the opening of the West from the Indians’ viewpoint. Accustomed to stereotypes of Indians as red savages, white Americans were shocked to read the reasoned eloquence of Indian leaders and learn of the bravery with which they and their peoples endured suffering.

With meticulous research and in measured language overlaying brutal narrative, Dee Brown focused attention on a national disgrace. Still controversial but with many of its premises now accepted, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee has sold 5 million copies around the world. Thirty years after it first broke onto the national conscience, it has lost none of its importance or emotional impact.

Review:

This was a difficult read/listen because it was unflinching in its approach to the events that happened, and the use of eye-witness accounts, and quotes only increased the impact. This is a part of history that was never touched on at school, and as hard as this was to read, it will be a book that I come back to because it is a history that should be told.

Rating: ***** (5/5 Stars)

Purchase Links: Toppings & Company (Paperback)| Waterstones (Paperback) | Amazon UK | Amazon US

**

If you’ve read any of these, or read them in the future please feel free to shout at me about them.

Rowena

3 thoughts on “Mini Reviews

  1. Rin @ The Thirteenth Shelf

    Oooh, I love the cover of Neverland’s Library. I’ve never heard of any of the authors, and I’ve been attempting to get into short stories. This may go on my TBR!

    Like

  2. Pingback: August Wrap-up and September Plans – Beneath A Thousand Skies

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