Claims that this book was a lot like the Riley Jenson series had me practically foaming at the mouth for Fireborn!! Pretty please and thank you. Ironi...moreClaims that this book was a lot like the Riley Jenson series had me practically foaming at the mouth for Fireborn!! Pretty please and thank you. Ironically that's probably why I didn't love it. Because it was too much like the Riley Jenson series. Emberly had plenty of potential, but I didn't feel like she was fully fleshed out. Instead she had all the basics of Riley, and not enough Emberly to separate them. She has a male roommate, her soul mate who she can never be in love with—but still a lot like Riley's brother. Emberly is completely comfortable with her sexuality and owns it! (And really that is an aspect I'm happy to live with.) Emberly wants to live a quiet and normal life—this time around—but she's clearly all over the action and her justifications for getting involved seem stupid. Even the love interest has a lot of qualities like the Riley series, but worse.
Sam is already at that he's-an-asshole-who-felt-betrayed-but-really-just-didn't-understand-and-hurts-Emberly-continually jerk state. No really. Sam is already introduced as Emberly's ex. And he's probably one of the most insufferable male love interests to grace the pages of literature. OK, I've read a few worse ones, but this is a status update as I read: “Queue bus. Sam splatter. Now.” Arthur doesn't set up any time span for readers to get to know Sam as anything but an ass. There's no tender flashbacks. Readers are just supposed to take Emberly's word for it that their love was amazing, and that five years was not enough to get over him. Even though now that he's back in her life he's drugged her multiple times, threatened her, expects her to help him but practically gives her nothing, and one of those druggings leaves Emberly and another person completely defenseless against some enemies he knew where coming after her! Emberly annoyingly pining and Sam being an unmitigated ass gets old fast. Knowing Arthur she will drag this out, and I hate Sam. No matter what there will be no redemption for him.
Other then that, this book is a great start to a knew series! Jackson enters as a fire Faye who's down right sexy and helps Emberly steam up the page! While there is some questions to whether he is a good or bad guy, Arthur is kind enough not to torture readers too long. Also, some question to whether Jackson will be the other side of the love triangle. The vibes I’m getting are just good friends with benefits. They're a great team together and I like the idea of following a series where they both interact. Rory is also a surprisingly fun character, and I hope to see more of him considering he has a pretty tight connection to Emberly.
Which brings me to the coolest aspect of this series. Phoenixes! There's only one book that actually had a lead who was part phoenix that I've read, and others they've just been magical creatures. Arthur spins her mythology well. As phoenix are fire spirits and are quiet different from humans. They have three forms: human, fire, and phoenix! Phoenixes come in pairs, or soul mates, and can not live without their other half. Of course there's a tragic twist that pairs cannot ever be in love, romantically, with each other. Every life they are reborn their destined to have true love, and it is fated to never end well. Really sad crap. But I wonder how much it is they find that “true love” for that life and then they give up on “normal love”. You know the practical kind that you have to work at? Just a thought.
While Fireborn didn't have as powerful a murder mystery as what I'd grown accustomed to from my beloved Riley, I did have fun. (Come on, we all no ones different/wrong with Sam.) The setup for the Red Cloaks was interesting and left open to sprawl out in future entries into the series. (Though how no one would think that there's something fishy to a bunch of “crazy mindless beings” all having red cloaks? Mindless creatures don't wear uniforms.) The dark world and humor that readers have grown to love, and expect, from Arthur is present! While I find two of the men in Riley's life fantastic and love them without actually needing them to be her HEA. I will say that if Sam is dragged out as “the one” I'll probably not continue this series too long. However, I love the promise and I hope to get to know Emberly more! Arthur can deliver better mystery and love story then this and I look forward to it.
And no. You do not need to have read the Riley or Dark Angels series to read this It’s the same universe, but no cross over a that feeling of missing something.
Sexual Content: Hot bedroom scenes, plenty of sexual humor, and well . . . tons of sexual content. It’s Arthur it comes with the turf.
3/5- Adored it, just a few minor details held it back.
****The authors will be releasing a new and improved edition.****
There is no doubt that Poison and Wine is one of the coolest voodoo books I have rea...more****The authors will be releasing a new and improved edition.****
There is no doubt that Poison and Wine is one of the coolest voodoo books I have read. The twist at the end. Epic! Clearly this writing duo is bringing a lot of new ideas to a genre that has gotten stale recently. (Sure there's still the tried and trued greats, but the Urban Fantasy genre hasn't been bringing in any new blood lately. Just readers' favorites.) Yet, there are a few things lacking from this debut that didn't quite keep it to the 3/5 I had strongly suspected I'd give it when I first started.
Now, the world. Ahh!! Seriously I'm still so in ahh my mind can only come up with terms like “freaking awesome!” and “let's do that again!” No really. Good voodoo books are hard to find. Especially ones dealing with the Barons. Some just baffle you with the lingo, or lose themselves in convoluted plots and mythology. Poison and Wine handles everything nicely. If you know your basic Baron myths and voodoo, easy. If you're going no prior knowledge of voodoo/hoodoo, readers might need to look up a few things. Other then that easy as cake. The Baron Samedi is the main face of voodoo if you read it, and while his basic look is always the same. Baron Samedi is simply amazing in Poison Wine. Hands down my all time favorite literary version to date!
The mystery surrounding the disappearances of the nuns starts off creepy right out of the gate. The magic and horrors still happening after the aftermath of Katrina is an amazing twist. A lot of Urban Fantasy authors have been playing around with Katrina in their worlds, and I'm impressed with what I found here. The tough as nails Nuns were a treat, as I love “super” nuns. (Anime ruined me.) The interactions of the lead female, Danni, with the nuns was priceless at times. Moving at others. New Orleans may be a city of magic, but I've always loved it when authors play up the dark side of the Crescent City and how it affects the people there.
Now for why I can't quite give Poison and Wine a 3/5. First up the writing. I can tell that C.H. Valentino and Eldon Hughes are quite the writing team. Once they get their stride going I suspect they're probably going to be one of the most powerful writing duos in the Urban Fantasy genre. At times I could taste the salt water from the bay and hear the city's rough noises, but then it would completely fade a way leaving me with just words. The worst part was the minor grammar errors that would just pull me out. “Pair of pants” was “pair pants”. The word “stay” lost it's “t”. “That” as somehow a “the”. Of, as, an, and other minor words were missing. I read every word in a book. I do not speed read or skim. So yes, I am allowed to be that picky. If I put forth the effort to enjoy the book, I expect the editing process to have picked up on those errors. Because nothing pulls me out of a story faster then grammar errors. Especially when they're sprinkled through out the book from beginning to end, happening sometimes on the same page. Not even chapters between them to spread the errors.
My final gripe and the one thing that always, always, smacks me out of a read. Character development, and more accurately the connection I have with them. Danni is awesome, and she's everything I love in a female lead. She isn't a super warrior woman, but she is tough. Michael is the charming white knight, who has enough naughty in his past to make him interesting. (The plot twist about him, was a bit silly. Come on, Danni knew what he really was. She's too smart to be claiming ignorance.) Both were introduced beautifully and instantly drew me under the spell of Poison and Wine. Sadly, I felt like I was in a car pressed up against the glass looking out at the rain and waiting to touch it. However, the window never gets rolled down. It's stuck, and the car is getting muggy!
Danni and Michael have enough of a reveal about what led to their attachments to the Barons, but nothing else. They're lonely isolated characters, which is the norm for the genre. The trick is to develop the characters outside of their current story and past so that reader feel like they're connected to them now. You know going from one dimensional to four dimensional. This story is told in third person, and I know third person can develop characters really well. Sadly that doesn't always happen with third person writing, which is why I'm usually a sucker for first person. The whole time while reading I felt like the characters where keeping me at arms length and I was just waiting for them to finally let me in.
The pacing of Poison and Wine was perfection. No dull dragged out moments. No. Nothing but a perfect rush. The mystery was amazing and the battle of wits during the “game” the Barons are playing was . . . “Freaking awesome!” C.H. Valentino and Eldon Hughes have something here. Despite the grammar issues—so cruel when the writing is sooooo close to being perrrrrfection—and the lack of connection with the characters, I am in for the next book! If these two nail it my mind will probably explode! (In a good way.) The setting is amazing and after that ending! Oh, that ending. This series is well worth giving it a chance to see where it goes.
Sexual Content: Some minor sexual content, nothing over the top.
It's official, the Ilona Andrews writing dua has just entered what I like to call the “Gold Standard Authorness of Awesome”. Which basically means I w...moreIt's official, the Ilona Andrews writing dua has just entered what I like to call the “Gold Standard Authorness of Awesome”. Which basically means I will follow their writing career to the ends of the bookverse!! Clean Sweep blew past all of my expectations. Sure I went in knowing it had to be good, but some of the reviews led me too believe this was a weaker work from the pair. Personally this was a super strong debut title for a series. I enjoyed it much more then Magic Bites and even Magic Strikes. It took the Kate Daniels universe until book 3 to finally suck me in. Clean Sweep was instant love!
What amazes me most is that Andrews has already brought readers two unique Urban Fantasy worlds, with both the Kate Daniels books and The Edge series. Clean Sweep is not connected to either of those universes and has actually broken away from the pack with yet another beyond-unique Urban Fantasy world. One where magic and sci/fi go hand in hand. Werwolves, vampires, and other beasts are actually aliens! (Yes aliens is a take done before, but Andrews makes it their own.) While it took a while for the idea that they're all aliens to come to the light, it was done well enough that readers don't have to suffer an information dump. It's offhandedly mentioned that Dina's sister left the planet with her husband, from there the alien matter is continued. What I love is that it still feels very much like a Urban Fantasy title. Just like Dina says, it may be science but it still feels like magic. Don't worry, there's still plenty of magic.
Now there are a few things that aren't gone into depth about. Mainly the house and how Inkeepers and the “inns” work. Yes, this is a short book and I do think what was given was just right. Though some of the mystery of earth’s magical creatures weren’t mentioned, and readers are left to assume Innkeepers are an Earth only thing? However, I expect waaaaaay more out of the next installment. Once the idea of aliens and different worlds/portals was introduced—and I’ll admit they are abruptly introduced offhandedly—I feel like Andrews handled it well. I didn't feel lost or flabbergasted at all, in fact as a sci/fi fan I was over joyed!
Dina is awesome! She knows the world and isn't floundering about. Which is something I wish more Urban Fantasy series would do. Instead one of the male interests is the designated newbie. Dina telling the story and introducing readers to the world worked well for me, and despite not learning as the character learns the world was understandable. Best part is while Dina has the staple wit of a good Andrews' leading lady, she is different. Dina has a different arsenal of Innkeeper magic, some hints of even more amazing Innkeeper magic then the average—well—Innkeeper. No she is not warrior woman. She can fight physically and does well at it. It's just not her strong point. She's a thinker and she knows the world, utilizing that as her arsenal.
Now about the male leads. Sean is the “designated newbie” and is actually a staple of Andrews men. Rude, pushy, really-really overconfident and self assured in all those cocky manners—though he does have the backing—and an animal shifter. (As Andrews fans we do like our animal shifter man candy.) He's the werewolf, and I love of course his witty humor and comebacks. The vampire, Arland, is also from the same mold, yet he pulls off refined and terribly viscous together. Plus, I have mad respect for any vampire who can make a crack about literature with vampire/werewolf love triangles. (Best joke ever!) Sean and Arland are both really entertaining to watch, there so alike it's fun watching them bicker. As they let their interests in Dina be known it's interesting watching each alpha male use their “woman getting skills”.
The possibilities of the Innkeeper Chronicles are endless and the overall mystery of the disappearance of Dina's parents is one I'm willing to fully invest in. What I like even more is that Dina didn't have to “pick one” for the love triangle, it's just developing and there's time to grow. Even better is that both men don't stay behind to smother Dina. It was sad to turn that last page, and it helped knowing in advance it is a shorter book. Unlike other readers I thought the book was just write and the pacing was just right. Oh, and the humor. The humor is classic Andrews and I highlighted way too many hysterical dialogs. Overall it felt like Andrews have hit their peek and their just cranking out the magic!
Sexual Content: Mild. But still pretty heated up! It’s Andrews after all.
"Vomits in corner." Is actually an update I posted while reading. There was a part of this story where I actually walked away. Don't get me wrong, I l...more"Vomits in corner." Is actually an update I posted while reading. There was a part of this story where I actually walked away. Don't get me wrong, I love it when a story goes out of the lines to shock me and give me something different. However, transforming someone, then basically have some incest kissing, making me gasp in horror—and the characters—then ignoring it after that is sloppy. And disturbing. Whey was that even put in?
This whole volume for me was sloppy. A huge step down. Besides that vomit inducing bit that had no purpose or follow up. As if the author was in a rush to get to the end of this plot arc. My over analyzation of why Mamoru ignores Usagi and showers his love on Chibiusa was for not. Because everything is explained away. Mamoru loves Usagi so much that he doesn't want her to be worried so he protects Chibiusa so that Usagi doesn't have to worry. Though I think a "Be safe my love, I'll protect Chibiusa don't worry!" Would be nice. Or if they're not in danger a little affection for both the girls would be good. The choppy parts finally show that Mamoru, Usagi, and Chibiusa spent fun time together. Yet the way even that information is divulged is so choppy that it can only be assumed that was in the past.
The cold Neo Queen Serenity wakes up. And suddenly she's not cold. She's regal but clearly has some of the fun quirks that makes us love Usagi! It's just weird. The impression that was given before was that Serenity was cold and aloof to everyone but King Endymion. Was she just playing at it so that she wouldn't change the future? Usagi is then suddenly explaining how much she loves Chibiusa. Even though all readers have seen is how suspicious and cold she is of Chibiusa. This is baaaaad. No plot development or character growth here. Things are just kind of explained and readers are just supposed to go with the flow. Well. I'm disappointed.
What I do love is that this is Mamoru and Usagi's first real "fight". They survive it and come out stronger and more in love. Which is lovely. Usagi loves Chibiusa now, which makes for some warm and more interesting moments. Chibiusa becomes stronger . . . somehow though her transformation into Dark Lady is really shoddily put together. In this state the vomit inducing moment happens . . . and is ignored. What drove this to happen? (Oh, I know what it is. But this is a kids manga!) Besides that there really isn't anything else of note on character development. There's a tragic death that "wakes" everyone out of their stupor and tries to "explain" everyone's sudden change of heart. But the death is lost on me as the character was not well developed enough to pull on my heart strings. Though part of me goes, "ah, and I wanted more of her." However, this series has already proven that it can and will bring characters back to life, so maybe readers will get to see more.
In the end. This was crappy plotting. Horrid. This volume. No. The Black Moon arc as a whole needed more time to develop. The pacing and tiny amount of time it was given to be told really held this story back. Worst, it held every single character back! (Though I did get some Makoto development in the previous volume. Thank you.) Points for the artwork still being solid. The art has clearly grown even lovelier. It's a shame it seems everything else has digressed backwards. Takeuchi admits that Chibiusa and this arc was created to give her somewhere to go with he story, and it shows. Here's hoping she gets her footing in the next arc. Warily I go trudging on ahead.
Sexual Content: Some incest kissing. And then some nice safe kissing.
This needs to be said: "The choppy still continues." At first it wasn't noticeable at all, but then towards the end there's scenes that show Chibiusa...moreThis needs to be said: "The choppy still continues." At first it wasn't noticeable at all, but then towards the end there's scenes that show Chibiusa where it was flashbacking, present daying, and then—?—confusion. It was so rough I had to go back and read it again to understand it. I'm still a little iffy on what happened “exactly” 100 percent. But I got enough of it that I'm not too worried.
What I love is how the guardians are slowly being picked off. However, what I loved the most is that this allowed some time with Makoto, Sailor Jupiter. It allowed readers to see past her strong "yankee" persona and see the softy she is. Plus, I caught a hint of a romance? What's even cooler is how the time traveling is coming in, and I believe it's affecting Usagi. It's interesting how she's jealous of Chibiusa and the attention that Mamoru gives her. Clearly Mamoru immediately understands who Chibiusa is and her importance to him. Usagi. Well let's be honest she's a bit of a selfish person. Mamoru is her man, and I understand that in both lives she really hasn't had time with Mamoru. They still need to build up their love and trust. So Usagi's jealousy is understandable. Unlike a lot of readers I can see how this could lead to her future self becoming distant with someone she's supposed to love unconditionally. Jealousy is a powerful emotion. Plus, let's be honest Mamoru does kind of ignore her . . .
The Black Moon arc is in full swing and the art style is truly inspiring. The future world of Crystal Tokyo is gorgeous, even in its death. The villains are meh. The evil Prince Demand having a crush on Neo Tokyo Princess Serenity is a very interesting plot device. Looking at the drawing of Serenity who could blame him? Usagi clearly is still an average girl at heart, she's only human. So as her heart breaks so does her powers. What I'm hoping for is that by seeing the negative emotions shape her present and future she can enter a more positive state of being. That her love can extend past her ultimate obsession for Mamoru. Also, I think Mamoru's complete obsession with taking care of Chibiusa is kind of creepy. Outside of some alone time where he comforts Usagi, after she's had a total heart breaking melt down, he really doesn't do much to assure Usagi—or me—that he is thinking of her. There should be two women he's worried about here!
All right away from my tangent. The dramatic events of this title and the repercussions of time travel are refreshing! Especially since it's not just the affect upon the world, but the characters down to their emotional levels. The introductory of Sailor Pluto was fun and as always I'd love more on her. At least Jupiter got some development and I'm hoping this is a sign that other guardians will get the same attention. Tuxedo Mask finally gets some powers! (No rose tossing thank you!) Usagi's personal growth is fascinating--I f you can't tell by my serious over analyzation above—and I'm practically just as hungry for more of that and if Mamoru might finally realize that he's got two leading ladies to share the love with. Especially after that cliffhanger. No really. Have the next volume on hand!
Sexual Content: Kissing. And I'm seriously wondering if the kiss that was hinting at a steamy make out session . . . may have been more steamier then we're led to believe.
3/5- Adored it, just a few minor details held it back.
Ah, the end of the Dark Kingdom arc, and the beginning of the Black Moon Arc. While I thoroughly enjoyed the finale of the Dark Kingdom arc, and I hav...moreAh, the end of the Dark Kingdom arc, and the beginning of the Black Moon Arc. While I thoroughly enjoyed the finale of the Dark Kingdom arc, and I have to say I have a bit of a girl crush on Sailor Venus now, it was choppy. Which surprises me as this is the third addition to the series. Usually meaning story and art panels become smoother. Not choppier. The finale was indeed choppy. If it had been a bit smoother this volume probably would have gotten a higher rating from me. Alas, the chop-chop and then the "villain of the week" comes back. And even they were a tad skippy.
That being said, I really-really-really liked the wrap up of the Dark Kingdom arc. The romance between Usagi and Mamoru has hit that beautiful sweet spot. Or as I like to call it, the "ahhhhhh" moment. Combining past lives into a present day romance, tragedy, and by it's own right a happy ending. While it's not the end, clearly, it's a happy one for the story arc. Even better, is that while Usagi and Princess Serenity officially become one, Usagi states it's still her. There is a more mature side of her present and continues to grow, but I still love that she’s still her silly self. Which readers get to see in old-school Princess Serenity.
I'm still a weeeee bit bummed that the other characters aren't getting more development. There's some, especially as someone is slowly picking off the Scouts. But it doesn't really make me feel closer to the ladies. Sailor Venus had some amazing page time as the true leader of the Sailor Scout’s group as she does everything in her power to protect the Princess/Queen of the Moon. A-mazing. I can see why Takeuchi created SailorV first, and kept her in the Sailor Moon universe. (Yeah, see my girl crush is shining.)
The mini-Usagi, or Usa/Chibiusa, has been a character that made me lose interest in the Anime after she was introduced. (OK, I lied—again—I made an anime reference. Sorry!) Mainly because I found the character even more annoying then the Anime version of Usagi. Chibiusa really hasn't gotten much page time at this point. Instead of seeming like a brat, she comes off as a lost child. One who's lost her parents and clearly needs Sailor Moon's help. Now if only the Scouts could help themselves!
If it wasn't for the powerful ending of the Dark Kingdom arc 2/5 would be my solid rating. The new storyline isn't starting out terribly strong and the choppiness isn't helping. There are some moments that I did enjoy in the opening of the Black Moon arc. I just wish things were more . . . fleshed out. Dare I say, more time spent on opening this up. Yep, I'm saying maybe a chapter dedicated to getting to know our characters more and building up the new trouble brewing for our Sailor Scouts!
Sexual Content: Kissing. Clean. Maybe a bromance!
3/5- Adored it, just a few minor details held it back.
Kukuku! This volume really surprised me! Especially the relationships between Usagi and Mamoru (Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask). Takeuchi did a wonderful...moreKukuku! This volume really surprised me! Especially the relationships between Usagi and Mamoru (Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask). Takeuchi did a wonderful job of making me feel for these two in such a short amount of time. Especially, once the all the scouts finally meet up—SailorV finally comes in. The whole Princess of the Moon was handled very well, and if the art for the missing princess had been a bit more vague I think it could have almost fooled readers. Make that a really big almost. Ok. No the readers would have never been fooled. Still it's the thought that counts.
The art is still gorgeous and the color pages are so pleasing! Ah, they're fantastic. It all goes together well with the memory reveals, and the origin story. Mythology! Yes, thank you! (It was sorely missing from the anime.) The tragic past of Prince Endymion and Princess Serenity is the right kind of tragedy and melodrama I love. Especially when there's plenty of sweet notes to make my cynical heart go all "ahhhhhhhhh!"
It can be argued that this volume still has it's "monster of the week plot". Let's be honest most super hero/fighting manga do. This time around Takeuchi does a wonderful job with volume two and lifts it up from the last volume’s cheesier standardized monster of the week fodder. Even more I enjoyed the gem stone guys—as I fondly call the guys named after rocks—when their twist came up. Which I wasn't expecting, but wish it could have been explored more! There was a hint of a lost love with Sailor Venus that is just begging to be realized!
It's a official I'm hooked! Volume 2 is a great indicator of how this series can grow. Usagi has already grown so much, but what I love is that deep down she's still the fun and lazy person she was before. She's just growing up. More growth on the other scouts would be the cherry on top, but there's still plenty of time for that. The funny thing is that harsh manga judge inside of me wants to give this series a lower rating, but I've been converted. Especially since Sailor Moon gets to save damsel Tuxedo Mask as well as be saved sometimes. It's official the manga is working for me, when the anime couldn't. (I lied, I mentioned the anime.)
Sexual Content: Some kissing not much else. Clean!
When I was just a little one I remember rushing home after school to catch the latest adventures of Sailor Moon. It was the only cartoon targeted for...moreWhen I was just a little one I remember rushing home after school to catch the latest adventures of Sailor Moon. It was the only cartoon targeted for girls. Despite my love of TNMT, Batman the Animated series, Gargoyles, and so on I was only too eager to have a girly show. Years later I tried watching the anime . . . and it didn't work out so well. News of the anime reboot came out and I tried yet again! It was a fail, and I knew why now. I had enough anime viewing experience to easily realize why years ago I couldn't make it through the Sailor Moon anime. Fillers. Too much, everywhere. And I’m one of those OCD types that has to watch them all. In order. No skipping. Plus, it hit me how many of the characters were annoying. The fondness for the show as a child, who didn't quite understand how formulaic and repetitive each episode was. (Though the character did annoy me then as well.) That fondness has always stayed with me and I’ve always wished that I could jump in on the series and finally meet all the new characters that I never got to see (it was pulled of of none cable TV in the middle of season 2). Somehow it escaped my attention that this series is only 18 volumes, or now 12. That’s worth a go!
After finishing volume 1 there is a formula to the bad guys, however each chapter is exciting because a new guardian (AKA senshi/Sailor Senshi/Sailor Scout) is found and introduced. At the end readers, and the rest of the guardians, have not met SailorV. Sure it can be said that the story is rushed, but I thought the pacing wasn't bad. Though at times the story was choppy. But let's be honest this is one of Naoko Takeuchi earlier serialized works, so it's not 100% polished. But this is targeted at younger audiences making it easy to put 1 and 2 together.
The art is lovely. To be honest 90s style manga is really hit or miss for me. Depending on who the creator is it can look horrid, and at times it looks simply lovely. Naoko Takeuchi's style has always been gorgeous, especially all the color art in this reprint. The anime never captured the beauty of Takeuchi's art style. (Here's hoping the reboot will.) Even if the storyline may stutter the art doesn't. The action scenes are well done, and I can completely see why this helped to make "girl manga" with action popular. Thank you. Also, I know no one is going to die at this point. But the danger seems more real. With villains talking about getting the guardians’ heads and so on.
Tuxedo Mask (AKA Tuxedo Kamen) is way cooler here. Also, no stupid rose tossing powers. Thank you! He has a bigger role in the overall story in just this one volume. Which in turn makes him a much more attractive love interest. Now for Usagi (AKA Serena). In the anime for me Usagi went from being cute and quirky, to me fantasizing about offing her. Yeah, she was that annoying. In the manga she outright says she likes eating, sleeping, she get's low grades, and she's a "crybaby". But she comes of much more likeable and child like. Cute even. Even in this first volume you can see some growth. It feels so nice that I like Sailor Moon! Plus, I love that she wears a mask, sometimes. The other guardians present in this volume have a fun introductory so that we know them and their basic personalities. This is volume 1 so I'm not too worried that they haven't had much more depth.
This is the start of the "Dark Kingdom" arc and for this reprint spans to Volume 3. Overall this is for younger kids at this point. Sure each chapter introduces a new "monster of the week", but it's not as stifling as the anime and I think adults will definitely like this version more. Got my hands on the rest of the series and I'm very curious as to how the manga is going to develop. If you're a Sailor Moon fan you'll want to read these. If you're like me and just couldn't make it through the anime, but always wanted to experience the universe this is your chance! Some readers may not be able to handle the "sugary" feeling of this adolescent targeted manga. But if you're a cartoon junky and love the adult or children's kind I think you're clear. If you’re reading it for it’s “classic” status take a chance, and maybe even try going as far as volume 2 if this one didn’t impress you.
(In my future reviews of later volumes I will not be making anymore comparisons to the anime. In this review I just wanted to help other readers who may have not liked the anime, but might try the manga!)
Sexual Content: Clean kiddies. There's some close intimate moments with Tuxedo Mask and Usagi, but nothing else.
3/5- Adored it, just a few minor details held it back.
****Review copy received through Netgalley for an honest review. Release date April 1, 2014****
Mythology buff. That's me. Mixing my urban fantasy/para...more****Review copy received through Netgalley for an honest review. Release date April 1, 2014****
Mythology buff. That's me. Mixing my urban fantasy/paranormal romance with Greek, Japanese, Chinese, Celtic, Welsh, Native American, Norse . . .so on. However, I haven't gotten what I wanted out of Norse mixer uppers yet. The Loki's have been interesting for sure. Foretold was my golden ticket. A fresh new idea about the end of the world featuring three girls possessed by The Norns (Norse Fates) to herald in Ragnarök. AKA the end of the world!
Right up front it was clear this book was not going to give me what I wanted. However, it was also clear I was going to have a blast! Clearly Elliot knows her mythology and it flavors this read nicely. Every time a legend or God(dess) I knew was mentioned I felt like an eager student with my hand in the air! The best part is the magic wasn't too far stretched, and it's magic with laws. So no crazy wild cheat-magic. Where some miraculous magical thing is pulled out of a character’s bottom to save the day!
The use of the legends of Ragnarök was really well done. Amping things up is the sudden mystery as to why the time table for the end of the world seems to be speeding up and going all kinds of crazy. People die and the mayhem that ensues touches on some realistic points of a society falling apart. Maybe not as much as I would like, but the attempt is there. The fear that Raven's Norn might take over her body or bust out “alien style from her chest” is a real fear. It's interesting watching fear turn into acceptance as Raven finally decides to deal with the role she has to play. There's a lot of mystery going on here with the other possessed warriors, the triplets conception and truth of who their father might be, and what's going on with the other girls while readers are junky out on Raven's tale.
Elliot does a great job of building up Raven and Vanir. The romance doesn't make me want to roll my eyes and vomit. The characters even comment on their instant attraction to each other. It's fun watching them fall for each other. Though Raven talking about checking in her V-card after one kiss was lame. Lame. Vanir is a great guy with the perfect mixture of modern white knight, without being too old school. Raven. Well I was hoping that the sisters would be more . . . warrior. It's clear that that job is for the men. Even though the girls are supposedly supposed to protect them. It's more like they're there to be soul mates. Sure Raven does some pretty awesome things and saves Vanir a lot, which was really cool. Raven spends a vast majority of her time being the damsel. It's OK. Diversity in the type of girls in this genre is a good thing. In the end Raven saves the day with Vanir. Partnerships are a good thing.
Foretold is a very easy and light read. It's a YA paranormal romance that's going to follow each sister and their chosen guy with each book. Which is standard for adult titles, but not for YA PNR. The light read aspect doesn't allow for true character building. It's a fast read and any even faster story. Which works well for Foretold.
Foretold is a great paranormal romance Norse mythology YA read! It's fun and feeds that happy giggly side of my soul. With just a tiny-dash enough death and adrenaline to appease the dark side. The Loki character here may not be the most intriguing Loki I've read, but there is definitely room to grow. Better yet there is no love triangle. Sure some girl has a crush on Vanir, but it worked. Raven didn't get jealous and she was OK with someone having a crush on him. Yeah! This leaves more time for Raven and Vanir to get to know each other, which means readers can become more invested in them. The plot is ambitious and twisty enough readers should have plenty of fun with it. Whether or not you're good at predicting plots. In the end all the matters is that the mythology was grand and I had fun! My mind is making “give-me give-me” hands as I wait for Forecast!
Sexual Content: Sexual humor, make outs, kissing, and talk about a past rape.
3/5- Adored it, just a few minor details held it back.
****Copy received for an honest review through Netgalley.****
With the title and book summary I went into Defy thinking it would be reminiscent of Tamo...more****Copy received for an honest review through Netgalley.****
With the title and book summary I went into Defy thinking it would be reminiscent of Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness series. Epic/high fantasy gender benders are a guilty pleasure of mine. Up front I knew it would attack the genre from a heavily romantic angle. Sadly the world and plot ended up suffering greatly. Even worse is that the romance isn't good. After deluding myself for about 44% of the book I couldn't keep lying to myself. It was terrible. And Alex was a crap main lead. Girl be dumb.
Alex (AKA Alexa). The fact that she had to disguise herself as a man to avoid the king's Breeding House—which I'll get into—made me believe I'd get a strong female lead. Flawed of course, all great characters are. However, what I found was a man hungry ninny. Sure she's the best of the best with a weapon, and they say she practices like crazy. Yet I read more about her checking out all of the guards she worked with and Prince Damian. Even though Damian was nothing but a spoiled jerk, it's OK to admire the man candy. Then she'd constantly remind herself that she was a girl (yeah, doubt she or the readers could forget that). In the next breath would go: “I can't believe I was checking a guy out. I'd never allow myself to do that.” When she finally admits to herself she's checking certain men out the way a woman would, she calls herself a harlot. Alex is confused and doesn't no who she really is because she has to dress up as a man. Really!
It's understandable that any woman, no matter how booty-kicking amazing she is, wants to be looked at as a woman. What I couldn't understand is how Alex couldn't know how brave and strong she is. Larson did almost everything she could to turn Alex into a damsel. One who never even decided that she should question a King that would order orphaned girls to be raped again and again to make soldiers—and more breeders—for his army in the Breeding House. Or to try and figure out what kind of plots Prince Damian was scheming. Her brother Marcel said he was the brains of the twin’s operation, and he wasn't kidding. Which was probably why he got the axe so fast. The fact that Alex doesn't even properly grieve his death was just another killing blow against her.
Now for the love story, which is basically the entirety of Defy. Rylan. Oh, poor Rylan. He's given the role of best-friend. One that Alex trusts to have her back no questions asked. Even after it's revealed that he knew the whole time that she was a girl (no I'm not spoiling anything the book is that freaking transparent) Alex doesn't care one wit. Then Rylan is hot and cold, mood swings all over the place, and get's put in as the third-jealous-lame part of the triangle. Prince Damian of course starts winning over Alex from the get go. Because just after a few days Alex starts to see the true Damian. Or does she? Damian continually lies and holds back things, wants Alex to divulge her darkest secret and never really gives her anything that could justify the romance taking place. All of these sides of the love triangle have doubts about each other, can't seem to really share anything, and the mood swings started to make me dizzy. Most of the book takes place with Damian, Rylan, and Alex being kidnapped and dragged onto enemy lands. Of course Larson does everything to make Damian swoon worthy. In Alex's own words this is how that whole journey could be described:
“Every night I had to lie between the two of them, feeling like I was being torn apart inside.” - Alex(a)
No girl. I was being torn up. Scratch that. Shredded. It needs to be said that Defy makes an attempt to have an ambitious plot. All of the “nudges” pretty much give everything away and the real meat of the world and “defiance” part of the book takes place in the last 20%. The Breeding Houses were such a dark and daring place to go with this book, and they just felt like crutches to make readers dislike the evil king! When Alex finally has a chance to help her people Damian actually has to pull her aside and pump her up. Remind her that she lost her brother, her mother and father, and all the girls in those breeding houses to this war. *Palms face.* There was no world building or plot to hold up the rest of the book!
Maybe if the writing was stronger Defy could have held on by a thread. Alas, the writing was poor at best. It couldn't pull me in enough to care or get involved, especially with all the terrible characters. Standard fantasy cast? Check. Damsel warrior woman? Check. Two horrid sides to an undeveloped—and poorly thought out—love triangle? Oh, check. The problem is that Defy is at it’s heart a romance, relying strictly on the merits of a romance. As said the romantic story isn’t good! No world building and an after thought of a plot. In the end the writing couldn’t save the lack of all three of the key elements of a good story. There's no doubt in my mind that this series will definitely get a fan base. Heck, it's already slated for book 2. Though I can't see this story going anywhere. Even with hints that Alex needs to find out who really killed her parents. Yatta-yatta-yawn. For fans who live and breath this genre, it's best to stay away.
Sexual Content: Rape is talked about and mentioned, not in depth. Sexual humor and some mild making out.
To be quiet honest the “Kresley Cole Formula” of IAD series, has been losing it's shine for me. In fact, formulamatic Paranormal Romance does in gener...moreTo be quiet honest the “Kresley Cole Formula” of IAD series, has been losing it's shine for me. In fact, formulamatic Paranormal Romance does in general. However, each new book had been building and introducing a world that I'm totally in love with. Dreams of a Dark Warrior tuckered me out, especially after how awesome Carrow's story was. Lothaire saved some of it, but then suddenly when I was reading the spinoff—Shadow's Claim—it just hit me how tiring the “formula” is becoming. Especially after the utter exhausting disappointment of MacRieve. Which did very little world building, and took the hate to love part of standard IAD to a point where I couldn't justify the woman ending up with MacRieve. Plus, after binge reading the entire Psy-Changeling books just last year my standards have rocketed up for Paranormal Romance.
That being said I've been waiting for Lanthe and Thronos' love story since book 7 impatiently. Considering the last time I got this excited for a love story—Lucia and Garreth MacRieve—in the IAD it hadn't quite lived up to everything I had hoped for. So I went into Dark Skye simply expecting to enjoy it. It started out slow for me, but then suddenly I was sucked in. Holy Valkyries Nix! Did they actually start to, grudgingly, trust one another. To start moving on, in the beginning of a book before page 100? Yes. They have a ton to get over with, as Lanthe states their love is epic. However, the reason for its epicness is that it is wrought with misunderstandings of the most darkest IAD style. What sets Lanthe and Thronos' story apart is that it starts out with the beauty of innocence and readers already no the basics going in.
Of course the “Kresley Cole Formula” is here, but this formula is spiced up enough that the love story stands out. Even better is that Dark Skye is a bit more tender story compared to others in the genre. Even better is that finally I can wash the bad taste of Will MacRieve out of my mind. Thronos' is so sweet and charming, it's nice to have another fierce male in the IAD universe who owns his innocence, and comes out more dominate and sexy on the other side. He's reasonable and it didn't pain me to watch how badly he treated his mate. Lanthe and Thronos have history, and they have a lot of personal beliefs/misunderstanding/issues to overcome. But this book is about friendship and partnerships being the foundation of not just relationships, but epic great love!
Lanthe worried me a bit going in, I just didn't think we could be friends. However, I immediately liked her and loved that while she might be one of the more “gentler” females in the series she's still completely fierce. Even better is she's not a virgin, nor does she have just a few men who were just bad experiences and mistakes. No, Lanthe has had conquests. She knows what she likes and desires. And. She knows the difference between sex and making love, that sex does not equal love. That perhaps she was trying to feel a void. Lanthe has enough self awareness not to feel the horror of “slut shame”. Thank bookness. As my friends know, I can't diss a woman who owns her sexuality. Even better is a woman sharing some of that sexuality with her monkish type mate.
Thronos is basically zealous religious type, yet sweetly innocent. He knows the basics of things, but is the virgin in the series. A virgin of more then not only having sex. The Vrekener are basically like a cult, one who abhors merriment and joy. They live in a white washed world and they're exceedingly cocky in thinking they are angels and are above everyone. They've become tyrants and villains in the mind of a lot of the IAD races, even though they're supposed to be the good guys. Seeing Thronos' eyes open up to the truth of his people and what some were doing with the excuse of their belief system is very fascinating. Especially since readers already know what they've done to Lanthe and Sabine, as well as Princess Bettina—if you've read Shadow's Claim. They're villains. Cole loves showing both sides of the coin, and it's what I love about the series. Even if Thronos' uptight views on sex, and slut shaming Lanthe got my indignation up.
Now on to the world building. Lothiare really teased reader with hints of Nix's ultimate goals. Again MacRieve dropped the ball on this. So I was excited to not just get hints of Nix greasing the wheels of fate, but taking it by the reins and riding it out! Ah, it's awesome. The scenes where Nix is petitioning to become a Goddess and interacting with other powerful beings and revealing the end goal here. Ah, perfection. Because not everything is given away and there's still plenty of mystery going on for later entries.
After a slow start Dark Skye, starts to bring it. The world building I've been restlessly waiting to actually pan out is finally starting up again—let's be honest not much has been actually happening even with the spinoff. The romance brought enough freshness to the Kresley Cole Formula that I didn't feel that ping of announce as much. (No really. Cole let's mix it up just a bit more please. I know every PNR has a basic frame work they all follow, and in general love stories in general. They can be made unique.) While the real world building didn't happen until way later into the book, it fit in perfectly with getting to know the two love birds. This could have been a full on perfect entry to the series for me, except that despite its tidy ending it didn't feel tidy. I felt like there should have been more. It would surprise me greatly if the next book didn't have more to do with the Vrekener . Cough-Jasen-cough. It was too open ended, and while Cole has jumped around a lot in the series they usually go for runs and match up. So while I am definitely getting exasperated with the formula, I'm still enjoying myself. Here's to hoping the next book keeps building up the world, as well as the romantic/sexual heat.
Sexual Content: Steamy sex scenes, some voyeurism, and plenty of sexual humor.
3/5- Adored it, just a few minor details held it back.
****Copy received for an honest review through Netgalley.****
“If one of us had to die, it ought to be the one with poison in her heart.” - Nyx
It feels...more****Copy received for an honest review through Netgalley.****
“If one of us had to die, it ought to be the one with poison in her heart.” - Nyx
It feels so strange to finish a Beauty and the Beast retelling, and be so . . . awed. It's just that I haven't been this in love with a BatB retelling in forever! It was so nice not to simply read another version of the same story that had little tweaks, or a modernized version for the sake of modernizing it. No, Cruel Beauty was something wholly unique, and it borrows lightly from the classic BatB tale. There's a magical mixture of Greek mythology, questionable morals, and a beautiful world.
“I wasn't born to be saved.” - Nyx
Nyx is this stories Bell/Beauty. What I love is that Cruel Beauty doesn't attempt to make this story about looks, how she's so plain or really stunning. No. What the story tries to stay focused on is what's inside of Nyx. The daughter of a man who made a deal with the Gentle Lord (AKA Ignifex), and was chosen to pay the price. Trained to kill Ignifex who will one day be her husband. Nyx isn't a sweet and innocent girl. She didn't willingly go into this arrangement she did it out of duty. Like the original she loves books and knowledge, but for the most part that's were it ends. The references to the “poison” inside her that makes her a bad daughter for resenting her fate and family, and the anger that's a temperament to being human is very realistic. What's more is that Nyx recognizes theses faults, and constantly berates herself for not being more dutiful and self sacrificing. All of these emotions are so relatable and a lot of the time I kept wanting to shout at the poor girl that she was right to feel that way. Maybe she should question everything! In a lot of ways Nyx recognizing those flaws made her stronger and weaker. More naive at times.
“Because despite all the poison in my heart, I knew it was not Astraia's fault that Father had picked her over me.” - Nyx
Cruel Beauty plays well on the fact that not everything is black and white. From the fools who go to make deals with Ignifex in the hope that their selfish wishes will be granted. Even when one is to kill the husband of a woman a man wants, all to make her happy. Sure the husband was beating the woman, but what right did that man have to wish another dead. In the end he would get what he wanted, another mans wife. Would he have made the same deal if the wife wasn't being abused? The price of every wish granted always ends in tragedy, all of the stories and people know this. Yet Ignifex is the villain for having to make these bargains. No one is innocent and by the end of the book I felt every character had poison in their hearts. Even the beloved Astraia who was supposed the be the sweet innocent sister. A character I would have loved to explore especially when Nyx is finally reunited with her sister and it's so easy to see the cruelty spilling out. That just as Nyx had put on an act of an obedient daughter, Astraia pretended to be an angel.
“Don't look at the shadows too long, or a demon might look back.”
A father who could selfishly bargain for children because he believed it was his wife’s wish, never considering that there might be a reason she couldn't conceive. Then bargaining away the precious life of his own child, and eventually entering into a relationship with his dead wife's sister. Poison. Every character met it could be argued has some kind of poison. Or shadow. To me that's were the real depth of Cruel Beauty come into play. The people crying out monster, and the monster who understands what he is, may not have it all straight. Human is to have a little monster in us all, some bigger then others.
The world of Arcadia is fascinating. An island that is covered in a parchment sky and only a dark void below. The realization of the Greek mythology in this world is fantastic. The cruelty, cleverness, and prices of Greek myth has always been a huge fascination of mine. To see it fully realized in a BatB retelling is awesomesauce! Nyx is sent in to kill The Gentle Lord, Ignifex, and to free Arcadia. However, the very plan that her father has prepared her to use may not be the key, or are the monsters lying? . So begins the bigger riddle as to what truly happened and if killing Ignifex can free the people.
“And every other time I'd loved somebody, it had twisted in my heart. I couldn't risk it with him.” - Nyx
In the end any BatB story is about the romance. It's so wonderful how it all develops. At first I pissed and moaned because I thought another spotty love triangle had been stuck in a great book. It quickly becomes apparent it's not a true love triangle, it's a mystery. Nyx's eventual love for a “beast” is probably one of the best portrayals I've ever seen. Self-doubt, loathing, and finally acceptance tempered by shame. After all the beast of this book is a demon. Every emotion felt more vibrant then some of the adult love stories I've read. The fact that in most BatB retellings the beauty is completely fine with falling in love with a monster, that sweet innocence is charming. Cruel Beauty isn't about innocence. All of the shadows only enhance the passion, love, and choices. Would you take the seemingly perfect prince, or the beast who is the only one that can understand the real you? The one person you don't lie to besides yourself.
“I think I'm wicked enough to love a demon.” - Nyx
“I love you more than any other creature, because you are cruel, and kind, and alive.” - Ignifex
Readers will probably each take something different away. In fact, after talking with another reader about Cruel Beauty. I had come away with the message that no one is truly innocent and that even monsters can have kindness. She then told me that she hadn't gotten that at all. She was convinced the story was about how the innocent should be protected so that “poison” didn't slip in and harm them. Heck, maybe this book doesn’t even have message and we were both over thinking it! Either way Cruel Beauty gets ya thinking.
Cruel Beauty dabbles in inner monsters, nothing overly scary but more human. Showing that denial and how even a simple choice can have horrible consequences. The love story feels more authentic with both the beauty and the beast humanized. Showing that both have goodness and kindness in them. Cruel Beauty will keep you thinking about not only human nature, but the mysteries. If you're a good guesser, and you know your myths the plot will probably be easy to crack. Even with that it still manages to dish some tricks out. BatB has always been a story of how the girl saves the man, but what happens after a heavy dose of betrayal is thrown into the mix?
“But we'll pretend we know how to love.” - Nyx
Sexual Content: Kissing and making out. Classic we’re having sex, but it cuts out until after stuff. (Been a while since I’ve read YA books that still do that.)
****Review copy received for an honest review.****
The Beautiful Ashes (Broken Destiny, book 1) by Jeaniene Frost
Part of me likes to believe that if I...more****Review copy received for an honest review.****
The Beautiful Ashes (Broken Destiny, book 1) by Jeaniene Frost
Part of me likes to believe that if I hadn't read The Dark World by Cara Lynn Shultz, or any of the other-world-with-demon books, I would have loved The Beautiful Ashes more. The reality is, it's just boring and quite honestly it does not bring more then two new things to the angel/demon genre. First was Frost's signature wit. The second thing is the mythology, while it's not 100% unique the bloodlines part is fun and I enjoyed Frost's interpretation and alternate view on all that biblical mythology. (And you'll want to have a certain Lady Gaga song handy.)
While I was excited that Ivy would be a different kind of lead for Frost, I soon realized that if Ivy was put in a line up with many other YA/NA characters out there I couldn't pick her out. Maybe if she cracked a joke, but other then that she doesn't stand out. Even with things I love such as bravery, loyalty, and perseverance to put her on my good side. Ivy isn't a bad character, and if anything it's nice to have a smart and strong lead. The genre needs them! What hurt my connection to Ivy is that there isn't much development and then at page 11 the male lead enters. He just happens to have broken in to her hotel and is waiting for Ivy, who just got attacked. She isn't worried, nope she instead thinks this:
I knew I should turn around, open the door and run, preferably while screaming. That was the only logical response, but I stood there, somehow unafraid of my intruder. Great. My survival instincts must've secretly made a suicide pact.
No Ivy dear. What you're survival instincts are suffering from is what I like to call the plague of storytelling: Instalove.
Even after being kidnapped by this stranger, AKA love interest Adrian, nothing. Stop it authors!!! Stop it. Love isn't easy and I don't want that in my books! Make it epic, passionate, and totally worth the wait. Not wham or you're being tugged by some magical connection, but you're love transcends that connection. That's telling and the easy way out. The fact is I know Frost can bring the heat!!!
Besides my eye rolling over the romance, and my resignation that I would not be joining the swooning I'm sure other readers will feel, I still had hope for the world. Yet, that didn't deliver despite the cool mythology. Everything was predictable and the demon realms have been done quite a few times, so if you're going to add to the genre blow me away! The plot was also predictable. Once the core of the mythology was introduced at page 32 and who Ivy is descent of it all becomes transparent. In the blink of an eye I knew who Adrian was descended from, and the drag out of that mystery was too much. (Which is lucky because jamming out to a certain Gaga song made my reading enjoyment spike!)
The plot of withholding information from the lead and then slowly revealing it didn't work, because if you're a reader of the genre you know the drill. Especially coming from the male lead who is “doing it to protect” Ivy’s fragile mind, and leads to her almost getting killed(s). So when the big twist, or the “betrayal”, came a long I didn't even bat an eye lid. In fact, the twist was given away within only a few pages of 32.
What I do believe could have saved this book was if it had read like a New Adult, and not Young Adult. Besides Ivy being of college age, there is nothing NA about this book. Nothing. Yes, I've come to expect that New Adult titles can have range from content level of Young Adult, to Adult, and even risqué matter such as erotica. For me I was hoping that Frost had chosen NA to bring the maturity of an adult title to the fun of the Young Adult genre, with a heavy dose of dark grit for the demon world. As said before some are going to find this pretty dark, however if you’re bread and butter is dark fantasy it’s like the kiddy pool.
In the end I think this is a promising start. The mythology is there, and I do want to see if the next book can step things up now that all of that the first book stuff is out of the way. Especially in the character development, there's hope for Ivy. But Adrian is just another male heart throb I'm just supposed to be swooning over. Still I believe many Frost fans will be happy with this, and Frost newbies. If you're a long time reader and good at predicting plots, and rely mainly on the characters to get you through, this might not hit the spot.
Sexual Content: Some mild talk of rape and torture, mild sexual content and plenty of humor.
Even with the male lead crying and emotionally blackmailing the lead into staying with him I might have been OK. Because as the book progresses Riley,...moreEven with the male lead crying and emotionally blackmailing the lead into staying with him I might have been OK. Because as the book progresses Riley, the male lead, does prove himself. The hopeless romantic in me really starts to believe his case of love at first sight. Despite some of the minor sexism and the . . . rushed pacing. Where each event feels like: And then. And then. And then. And then. And more and then!
Paige and Riley have chemistry. It's hot! The world of the Varuvl—also known as werewolves—and the Norse mythology is a real treat, which I would have loved even further explored. Even though the book and plot felt as standard as it comes to the Paranormal Romance genre. I could have loved it. Truly. Despite all of my issues with crybaby Riley. God he's pathetic. Alpha material. No. Beta. Heck yeah. Even though I thought Paige and Riley could have been better as a role reversal. Riley makes a great cry baby fragile girl, but I kind of respect Bostic for making such a male lead.
This writing is underdeveloped.
The writing tells instead of shows. Even with barren writing like the Anita Blake series, you can feel the world being painted in your mind. Heck, even P.C. and Kristin Cast House of Night books have a way with words. (And we all know how childish I find the dialogue and sometimes the characters' thoughts.) At times the sentences in Howling Heart are choppy. Even scenes. Other times I'm left going, “Wait, what? How did that make it past editing?” It felt like a ton of writing clichés and “what would an author paste in hear” mash up.
Bostic hasn't found her writing rhythm or flow yet. Nor, her own personal writing style. When she does . . . I'm pretty sure her books are going to rock! There are a lot of good things present here. Just not enough. There are two things that kill books for me. Lack of decent writing. Check. Lack of character depth and realism. Bostic does a pretty good job of creating the characters here, and the two love interests definitely have chemistry. The writing just wasn't advanced enough to support it.
***It should be noted that I read a fan translated version in which no one tried to "tame down" this manga (Yeah, I'm looking at you CMX. Feel. The. S...more***It should be noted that I read a fan translated version in which no one tried to "tame down" this manga (Yeah, I'm looking at you CMX. Feel. The. Shame.) Thank goodness for purists.***
Boobs. Breasts. Tits. Yahoos. Whatever. There I've addressed the supersized lady parts found in this series. To be honest anytime I see an anime or manga with breasts of these proportions I can't take it seriously. They’re there to make me laugh and create a fun drinking game. (You know for every jiggle or "boing" take a shot. This gets you pretty drunk awfully fast with some series . . . ) It was one such drinking game that introduced me to Tenjho Tenge waaaaaaaaay back when. Funny thing was, I was actually interested in the storyline. Yet it's another anime that leaves you hanging. So years later I decided to finally check out the manga to get the full story.
Despite the horribly over large cleavage, the art is really decent. The action scenes play out well and they look great! Too many action manga are actually ruined by the art featured in the action scenes. My only compliant is that all the females tend to look the same, especially in this volume. They've all got mega huge bazookas, but their faces all look the same. I get two of the girls Aya and Maya are sisters, but Bob's girlfriend looks just like them! In fact when I suddenly saw this girl pop up all nude I thought why is Aya getting it on? Oh, and she cut her hair? Despite my irks about the overly done cut out girl looks, I like that the women in this manga can be just as tough as the men. Maya even kicks some serious booty!
Everyone gives me a hard time that I like the anime . . . because of the story. But there is a story! This first volume hints at the past of the school and the council as some punishment is dealt out on Bob and Nagi. Manga about fighting schools are kind of my guilty pleasure, but so few try to do much besides overly big bosomed girls and crazy fights. I enjoy that there's some back story yet to be revealed and that I find each character intriguing. Oh, and if you're a fan of the anime be warned. The anime doesn't play out the nudity, but the manga does. There's lots of violence, smut (which could have been more sexy if the hooters were more realistic, but I know it's not targeted towards me as the audience in mind), and some mysteries!