Durarara!! Vol.1 by Ryohgo Narita, Akiyo Satorigi, Suzuhito Yasuda: review

Durarara!! Drrr!! x1 (Durarara!! Manga, #1)Durarara!! Vol.1 by Ryohgo Narita, Akiyo Satorigi, Suzuhito Yasuda

Series: Durarara!! Manga #1

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Genre: Shounen, Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Yen Press

Release Date: January 24th 2012

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)Welcome to Ikebukuro, where Tokyo’s wildest characters gather!! Meet an ordinary boy who daydreams about the extraordinary. A naive stalker girl. The strongest man in Ikebukuro. A shut-in doctor with questionable credentials. A hedonistic informant…and the “headless rider” astride a pitch-black motorcycle!? As their paths cross, this eccentric cast weaves a twisted, cracked love story…

My Thoughts:

If only one word could be choses to describe Durarara!! the word would be crazy. The characters are crazy. The plot is crazy. Everything about Durarara!! is crazy. But that is not to say that it doesn’t make sense. The creator of Durarara!! masterfully weaves together the weird personalities these characters have, the supernatural element, and the gang wars.

Now. Before I start reviewing this specific volume I have got to talk about the gigantic amount of characters this series has. The five characters on the cover aren’t even half of the entire cast of characters. Sometimes using a lot of characters doesn’t work at all, but Ryohgo Narita (the creator of the story) is great at putting to use a large amount of characters.

What drove me to read the first volume of the Durarara!! manga series was the anime. For me, the anime was just pure enjoyment even though the story is very complex. It was just fun. And when I finished the anime I craved more Durarara!!. To be more specific, I craved more of this:

image

Yes, that is a fridge that Izaya is being hit with.

So when I found out that the manga series was licensed in english I was pretty darn happy. I immediately went to the bookstore to buy the manga and start reading it. And I am very happy to say that so far the manga does the anime series justice.

The characters are still the same awesome characters that I loved in the anime. Shizuo still needs anger management, Izaya is still loving humanity (and observing/manipulating it), Celty is still kick butt, Shiinra is still kind of a pervert, Simon is still trying to sell sushi, and Mikado, Anri, and Masaomi are still the normal (or are they?) group of teenagers caught in the mess known as Ikebukuro. I am really excited to read more about these characters (and the ones I didn’t mention).

From what I have seen of the plot so far in the manga, it is being told in a fluid, smooth manner. Even though a lot goes on in the series, what with the Dullahan looking for her head, the gang known as the Dollars, the murder, and the random fights (this is all in the first volume)the creator is still able to tell it without confusing the audience. I admire him for that.

The only thing I can complain about is the art. Don’t get me wrong, the art is great as long as you don’t count a few derpy-looking expressions the characters make. I just wish that the art had the same style as the art in the anime. I’m not use to seeing the characters drawn in the particular style the illustrator of the manga uses and I am a bit bothered by that.

Overall, I have high hopes the for manga series. The first volume was really great and I hope that continues with the rest. I would recommend this for people who are itching for a creative, fun, and complex shounen series that definitely strays for the norm. And if you want to know who was throwing the fridge in the gif I showed earlier it is this guy:

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Legasea by Krystalyn Drown: review

LegaseaLegasea by Krystalyn Drown

Stand Alone

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Age Group: Young Adult

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Mystery, Romance

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press

Release Date: January 28th 2013

Synopsis: When sixteen-year-old Aileen Shay sees a dead girl floating in the bay during a midnight yacht party, she never imagines Jamie Flannigan, her new boyfriend, may be involved. The only thing she knows about Jamie is that he personifies the one thing she has been drawn to her entire life – the ocean. But as she grows closer to him, she realizes he knows more about the murder than he’s telling. When another girl is attacked, and Jamie refuses to answer her questions, Aileen searches for answers on her own.

Aileen learns that Jamie’s family belongs more to myths and legends than they do in the real world. They are selkies, and after the Flannigans threaten her family, Aileen suspects they are responsible for both attacks.

But they aren’t the only ones in her small fishing town who can keep a secret. As Aileen uncovers the truth about the murder, the selkies, and her own family, she learns why her soul is bonded to the sea. But with that revelation comes a choice – to permanently sever her connection with the water, which comes at a painful cost, or embrace a legacy that just might get her killed.

My Thoughts:

I find it hard to write this review of Legasea. I believe that Legasea is a beautifully written and unique debut that deserves to be read by many. There are so many things that Legasea excels in, but there is one thing that kept the book from being the best it could be.

One of the things that make Legasea so unique is the chosen mythology for the story. Drown chose to write about a very underrated legend: the Selkies. Creatures that live as seals, swimming in the ocean, but when they shed their skin they become human. Such an interesting concept but not many author use it. But Drowning chose to write about the Selkies and she writes then amazingly well. The beauty and mystery that I always thought the Selkies had was in Drown’s Selkies also. That made me very, very happy.

Aileen is a character that is easy to connect to. She is a girl that has to deal with the troubles of everyday life as well as trying to come to terms with the fact that she is different than most people. She is a smart, determined girl that makes good choices for herself most of the time, but there are the times when she doesn’t do what her heart tells her to do and makes poor choices because of that. She felt real to me. Her narration felt real, comfortable which only made her feel more real.

The side characters were also written fairly well. The most remarkable group being Aileen’s family and Jamie. I found Aileen’s family to be very easy to understand and their struggles truly bothered me as if I was experiencing those struggles myself. Jamie is one of those “mysterious” love interest but he was also very sweet even though he is a bit misleaded sometimes.

Drown’s prose is nothing short of excellent. It felt sincere to me, as if the words just came out naturally on the paper. The writing captures the quiet beauty of the ocean and the landscapes around it wonderfully well. Some passages, like the one below, even felt lyrical to me.

“Off in the distance, the black outlines of dozens of rock islands dotted the bay, like shadow puppets posing in front of the star-filled sky.”(Pulled from an advance copy.)

The mystery is a great mystery. There are a lot suspects to choose from and many, many twist. I never knew where many of the characters stood. It kept me guessing and on my toes. The big reveal was done very well and it made my mouth drop!

Unfortunately, despite all the good things Legasea has within itself there is one thing that bothered me: some of the smaller events that took place in the book felt awkward when fitted with the main events. But that’s just me. Some people may find nothing wrong with this events. In fact, they might even find those events fitting. I just didn’t.

Legasea is a book that is a breath of fresh air. Filled with originality and mystery, this book will not be forgotten by me. I will keep this story with Selkies in my mind. I hope you decide to invite this story into your mind also 🙂

*An advance copy was provided by the publisher via Netgalley

Puella Magi Madoka Magica Vol.3 by The Magica Quartet, Hanokage(illustrator): manga review

Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Vol. 3 Magi Madoka Magica Vol.3 by The Magica Quartet, Hanokage(illustrator)

Series: Puella Magi Madoka Magica #3

My rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Genre: Magical Girl, Urban Fantasy, Seinen

Publisher: Yen Press

Release Date: December 11th 2012

Synopsis: Madoka is horrified to learn the true nature of the witches she and her friends, the Magical Girls, have been fighting-and the terrible fate that awaits any Magical Girl who accepts Kyubey’s offer of power. Having watched countless Magical Girls sacrificed for the larger aims of his people, Kyubey is only interested in securing more girls to that end, and Madoka is left with his chilling reminder that she too is destined to be a Magical Girl of incredible power… Can Madoka and her friends escape this tragic fate?

My thoughts: The end of this amazing manga is here…and I am extremely depressed. I have already watched the anime and even as a write this review I am listening to the kick butt ending song of the anime. And now that the manga is over I don’t know what I am going to do with myself!

I have learned very early in the reading of this manga series is that Puella Magu Madoka Magica is not just an interesting read but an experience. It changed how people looked at the magical girl genre. I am sad to see the manga(and anime) end but I don’t think it could have ended any better.

In the final volume of this manga many things are revealed. What exactly Kyubey is and why he is on earth. Some interesting information about Homura. Why the Magical Girls are needed. And more.

I also liked the relationship between Sayaka and Kyouko in this volume. It was bittersweet, heartbreaking, but it was oddly positive. It is kind of funny since they tried to kill each other the first time they say each other.

Towards the end of this volume things get a little confusing. There are a lot of time skipping and such. It is not difficult to keep up but it can be tricky.

The ending of the final volume of Puella Magi Madoka Magica is not exactly happy but not sad either. It is in between. Madoka and her kindness really shines in this volume. I recommend having a box of tissues ready when you start getting near the last chapters. I had tears rolling down my cheeks.

The manga does the anime (the original source material) justice. I believe that both the manga and anime are worth diving into. There are so many things that the anime has that the manga lacks. A great soundtrack but Yuki freaking Kajiura, the characters are even more fleshed out, the animation is unbelievably amazing, and there is more focus on showing the surreal worlds that the girls fight witches in. But the manga is a great experience in its own right.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica Vol.2 by The Magica Quartet, Hanokage: review

Puella Magi Madoka Magica (Puella Magi Madoka Magica #2) Magi Madoka Magica Vol.2 by The Magica Quartet, Hanokage(illustrator)

Series: Puella Magi Madoka Magica #2

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Genre: Magical Girl, Urban Fantasy, Seinen

Publisher: Yen Press

Release Date: August 2012

Synopsis: While Madoka continues to deliberate over the decision to join Akemi as a magical girl, her best friend, Sayaka, seizes the chance to wish for the recovery of the boy she loves. But when Sayaka is caught in a territory dispute with a more experienced (and more deadly) magical girl named Kyouko, Madoka is reminded that being a magical girl is more than a matter of donning a frilly costume and fighting evil… it is also a matter of life and death!

*My manga reviews may contain spoilers

My thoughts: Just like volume one, volume two of Puella Magi Madoka Magica has amazed me. This manga makes the reader feel for the characters in a natural not manipulative way. Again I have no idea how to describe this manga as well as the synopsis above does… I am sorry 😛

We are also more properly introduced to a character that was shown briefly at the very end of volume one. This character is Kyouko. The red-haired girl on the cover. She is not a very likeable character at first. She is selfish and doesn’t care much for the well-being others. Oddly, I was able to warm up to her and her greedy habits. She is always munching on something.

Homura is still trying to protect Madoka and the reader really gets the feeling that she genuinely cares about her. Homura is still a mysterious character but the little piece of information we get tells a lot about her character.

We also get to learn more about Sayaka’s character. I thought that she was a heartbreaking girl. She very rash when she was making her wish. Sacrificing a lot to help the one she loved but in the end all she got was devastation and when she finally broke down it was absolutely shocking.

And Kyubey just became the sociopathic Nightmare of my nightmares.

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Another thing that I love about this manga is the chapter titles. In a few words they are able to show what the characters are going through in that particular chapter and I think it is amazing.

Chapter 5: There’s No Way I’d Regret This

Chapter 6: This is Definitely Odd                                             <—Beauitful!

Chapter 7: Can You Face Your True Feelings?

Chapter 8: Such A Fool

Puella Magi Madoka Magica is still managing to be a haunting, bloody, and emotional manga that has blown my mind to a million pieces.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica Vol.1 by Magica Quartet, Hanokage: review

Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Vol. 1 Magi Madoka Magica Vol.1 by Magica Quartet, Illustrated by Hanokage

Paperback

Series: Puella Magi Madoka Magica #1

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Genre: Magical Girl, Urban Fantasy, Seinen

Publisher: Yen Press

Release Date: May 29th 2012

Synopsis: In this world, there exist strange creatures who have the power to grant one wish to a chosen girl. However, in exchange, that girl must then become a magical girl and use their powers to fight against witches, evil creatures born from darkness that are responsible for murders and suicides.

In the city of Mitakihara, a schoolgirl named Madoka Kaname and her friend Sayaka Miki are approached by a familiar named Kyubey, who offers to grant each of them one wish in return for making each of them a magical girl. Another magical girl named Homura Akemi tries to prevent Madoka from making such a deal, while Kyubey urges Madoka by telling her she will become the most powerful magical girl. However, contrary to the glamorous notions one would expect, a magical girl finds herself dealing with death, isolation, loss of humanity, agony over the value of her wish, and existential crisis. Madoka, following her friends, soon sees the darker side of being a magical girl, and because of knowing the truth about being a magical girl, she questions if she should become one as well.

My thoughts: You know, those magical girl manga that are super cute? You know, those magical girl manga that make you happy? You know, those magical girl manga that make you laugh. Well, this isn’t one of those magical girl manga. Puella Magi Madoka Magica starts out very light-hearted but as the reader turns the pages the story gets more and more mysterious. And then is starts to become absolutely heartbreaking. I really can’t write a better synopsis than the one shown above so please read that.

I really liked the characters in this manga. Madoka is very easy to like as she is kind hearted and sweet. Sayaka is energetic and happy. Homura is very mysterious but you get the feeling that she is truly trying to help the girls. And Mami has a good head on her shoulders.* I felt sorry for them and the situation they are in.

The art is magnificent. The illustrator put a lot of details in the girl’s clothing when they transform into their magical girl form. Here is Mami’s uniform:

Mami's uniform

Her uniform is my favorite 🙂

The worlds in which the girl’s fight witches in a drawn in a really unique way. They feel very surreal and creepy, in a way. It makes reading the manga even more enjoyable.

World

And Kyubey is very adorable! I have the feeling that he is up to something.

Kyubey

I thought he was a girl at first…

This manga is very different from most magical girl manga. It is serious, sad, and sometimes creepy. I would definitely recommend it.

*spoiler: foreshadowing!

Soulless by Gail Carriger: review

Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1)Soulless by Gail Carriger

PaperbackHardback

Series: Parasol Protectorate #1

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Age Group: Adult

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Steampunk, Romance

Publisher: Orbit

Release Date: October 1st 2009

Synopsis: Alexia Tarabotti is labouring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire – and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

My thoughts: Soulless is an absolute delight to read. The book is terribly fun and made me squee a great number of times. It made me grin, laugh, and stay up ’till midnight. I should also mention that there is tea.

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Soulless was an amazing snowy-day read that features a charming and colorful group of characters. Alexia Tarabotti is a preternatural-a being that is able to remove all supernatural powers as long as she is touching the person. I can not express how much I adore Alexia. She is the very definition of a great main character. She is intelligent, well read, strong, and independent. As Alexia is a spinster, she has relinquished herself to staying in the background of social gatherings and thus her life has been quiet. This all changes when she is very, very rudely attacked by a vampire.

Quirky, loveable, charming, colorful, and unique. All these words describe the characters in Soulless perfectly. I found myself loving the rest of the characters as much as I love Alexia. They are all so very wonderful. I just wanted to invite them all to a tea-party. If I could host such a tea-part I would arrange the place cards so that Lord Akeldama must sit next to me. I found him to be absolutely ridiculous but in a strangely good way. It would be very fun to have a conversation with him. I would also have Ivy sit next to me. I absolutely loved her terrible hats!

What I loved most about Soulless is how Carriger masterfully weaves together the genres of romance, paranormal, and a bit of steampunk. The steampunk Victorian world she created had the charm that I always find in steampunk and still stayed true to Victorian views and rules. Carriger works in details about the role females had during the Victorian era and shows it subtly through Alexia’s narration and the events that unfold in the story. I felt very sorry for Alexia in some parts and it is all thanks to those little details that Carriger wrote. The romance and paranormal was balanced out so that one genre did not take over the other. The supernatural creatures were written in a good-humoured way. They are fun to read about but I was still able to take them seriously.

The writing is another big reason why I loved this book. Carriger’s writing flows well, and is filled with humour and wit. It was incredibly engaging. I just wanted the book to go on forever so I could read more of the writing.

Despite that I love this novel dearly there is one thing that I didn’t like in the book: the scenes where Lord Maccon and Alexia canoodle. I found it to be a bit awkward and got in the way of the story. This is my only qualm.

Written with fast pacing, brilliant characters, a mix of genres, and greatness Soulless is a great book to read. I find it to be a very girly book but it is girly in a smart way. I highly recommend it.

Oath of Servitude by C.E. Wilson: review

Oath of Servitude (The Punishment Sequence)

Oath of Servitude (The Punishment Sequence) by C.E. Wilson

This is the story of Teague and Cailin, two teenagers who have been brought together by fate.  Teague, a human, struggles to come to terms with the consequences of a recent accident that has destroyed the happy life that he had once enjoyed.  Cailin, a pixi, is trying to stay true to herself while fighting against forces beyond her control that have exiled her from her home into this strange world of humans.  She fears the darkness.  He cannot escape it.  But when the two of them are thrown together, they begin to discover the light inside of themselves.

This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Oath of Servitude was a wonderful and enjoyable read. The story was unique and interesting. It has been a long time since I have read anything about pixies so I was really excited to read this. I was not disappointed!

The characters are wonderful! Teague had become blind from an accident and is bitter and angry because of it and Cailin,a really spunky pixi wants to be independent and unchained from the expectations of her clan. I loved reading about Teague and Cailin’s growth throughout the story and their growing relationship. I really loved the interaction between the two as their conversations were funny at times but serious at times also. I thought that Teague and Cailin’s relationship was a little bit rushed in the beginning but that is just a little flaw in a great book. The secondary characters also play a big part of the story and all had distinct personalities. I found myself caring greatly for all the characters in this book.

The world building was wonderful! I really enjoyed learning about the pixi clan and how the Portune ruled. The writing was really good except for a few spelling errors but nothing that I couldn’t correct with my mind. The story was a really peaceful read without much action but kept me flipping pages, wanting to know what will happen to Teague and Cailin. I highly enjoy Oath of Servitude and I recommend it to anyone who loves stories about pixies and love.

I give Oath of Servitude 4 out of 5 Stars

Alice in Zombieland By Gena Showalter: review

Alice in Zombieland (White Rabbit Chronicles, #1)

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

She won’t rest until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.

Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.

Her father was right. The monsters are real….

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies….

Off with their heads.

I love Alice in Wonderland with all my heart! So when I saw this book at the store I had a heart attack of joy. I thought a book about Alice falling through a hole and then proceeding to chop off zombified versions of the inhabitants of Wonderland’s heads with a weapon would be the most awesome thing in the world. This book was not about Alice falling through a hole and then proceeding to chop off zombified versions of the inhabitants on Wonderland ‘s heads with a weapon. There were barely any Alice in Wonderland allusions to look out for which disappointed me greatly. I read it anyway and then found myself not being able to sleep without finishing the book.

Alice was a very awesome narrator. She was sarcastic, witty, and brave and I loved that about her. Through all the tragedy she has been through she soldiered on. Alice’s love interest in the story was a bad-boy named Cole. Cole was a typical bad-boy: Tough, handsome, and authoritative. I was annoyed by him at first but I grew to like him. He truly cared about Alice and her safety. Kat, Alice’s friend was a good character to. She was cheerful, she knew what she wanted and had confidence in herself. I really liked that even she had some development through the story as normally the friend of the main character have no purpose other than be the friend of the main character. Kat was not like that, as I learned about Kat I was able to sympathise with her and remember her as a person who had a role in the story. Alice’s other friends I hate with passion. I believe they were made to be hated so I applaud the author for that. I really wished the members of the Anti-Zombie gang had more development. We only get real development from three of them and two of them only had two sentences worth of development. I felt as if the members were faceless. They only had dialogue when they were speaking to Alice-which was pretty rare. I did grow to like the members that were given a face through the story.

The plot was pretty simple: Girl experiences tragedy. Girl aims for revenge for said tragedy. Girl falls in love for a bad-boy. I enjoyed the plot anyways. The unique elements the author puts in the story make up for the formulaic plot. The zombies were…..weird. In this book the zombies are spirits born from evil that feed on the spirits of humans and turning victims into new zombies. The twist on traditional zombies was pretty awesome. I enjoyed the Alice vs. Zombies fight scenes. I could clearly see what was going on.All in all Alice in Zombieland was a very enjoying read.

I give Alice in Zombieland 4 out of 5 White Rabbits