Saga, Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughan

I completely loved this. I was enthralled the whole time learning about Hazel and the events that lead up to her creation. This world is so creative and imaginative that I’m just blown away. This is one of the best graphic-novels out, and my words won’t do justice as to why I would recommend this to every living soul.

The main theme in this book is the blind prejudice that all these souls have grown up believing in, because it has always been forced upon them. Everyone can take something out of this lesson, especially with all the hate this election season is bringing.

Hazel being the narrator was such a genius move by Brian K. Vaughan. It is so expertly done, too. One minute you feel your heart being ripped out, the next Hazel is making you laugh out loud. Hazel’s voice is perfect, and watching her journey is magical.

This bind-up gives us flashbacks from the past constantly. It’s done very well, and helps the reader get a way better understand at what Marko and Alana have at stake and why it’s so important that love wins.

I’m now going to break down each chapter in this bind up. There will be SPOILERS, so please use caution in continuing if you have not read this graphic-novel or Vol. 1!

We get to see Marko’s past, the moon he grew up on, and how people started instilling the prejudice of wings very early in children’s lives. Present day Marko is still in the tree space ship with Alana and their baby, Hazel, but the new additions are Marko’s parents. Marko’s mother has banished Izabel to another planet so he and his mother go after her, while Alana and Hazel stay in the ship with his father, who lets her in on a very important secret.

We get to see a glimpse of Alana and Marko first meeting – he was a prisoner and she was a guard. It wasn’t exactly love at first sight, but I was still very appreciative of the glimpse. We learn that Marko’s father, Barr, is an armorer. Then we see Marko’s ex-girlfriend, Gwendolyn, looking for The Will.

The Will is taking The Stalk’s death very hard. Gwendolyn finds him, promises to help him avenge The Stalk and helping him get back the young sex slave he was unable to save in Vol. 1. He desperately wants to kill Prince Robot IV, and agrees to start back up on his previous mission to find the half-breed baby once they rescue the young girl, who ends up having a pretty powerful ability.

We get to see Alana and Marko’s relationship developing more in the prison. He smuggles her books, and she reads them to him. After Alana is informed that Marko is being sent to a new prison where the captives never come back, she takes action into her own hands and breaks him free. From there on out, they are on the run together. Back in our time, Marko and his mother find and save Izabel. Then, Gwendolyn and The Will are able to locate Marko and Alana thanks to the young girl they rescued. Gwendolyn is probably the most unstable ex-girlfriend of all time, and shoots a missile at their tree ship.

We get to see Hazel being conceived, which was very humanizing. In present time, Marko’s father sacrifices everything he has to protect the ship and his loved ones. Also, this issue kind of broke me, but my heart wasn’t ready for Barr and then for the opener of the next chapter.

First Barr, now this rat medic? I felt my heart just being ripped out of my chest. Then, Prince Robot IV comes to Alana’s favorite author’s house. Thinking she will eventually show up to save him. Little does he know, the whole gang is already there and has been waiting for him.

The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

I’ve read almost everything Richelle Mead has ever written, but I think it’s time for me to stop. Do you ever feel like maybe you outgrew an author? I remember buying physical Vampire Academy books at midnight, because they were so magical I couldn’t wait! One time, during a move, my new house didn’t have internet yet, so I camped out in a McDonald’s parking lot at midnight so I could download The Indigo Spell. To this date, the Dark Swan series is one the best series I’ve ever read and is still the only book starring a shaman I’ve ever read.

But then Bloodlines became horrible, Gameboard of the Gods was a joke, and I gave Soundless a two star rating when it deserved a one star rating, but I didn’t want to believe Richelle Mead, one of my favorite authors of all time, was writing nothing but one star books.

I have outgrown Richelle Mead, and I don’t think I will be reading any more YA stories from her, because my heart can’t take giving her more chances and me having to write more negative reviews.

First off, this book is not a fantasy and should not be marked as one. It’s historical fiction with made up names.

This book is about a countess that has lost her parents. Her new guardian, her grandmother, wants her to marry a cousin so they can keep living their extravagant lifestyle while also keeping the blood pure. Well, this doesn’t sit well with our main protagonist, and when a man comes to take one of her servants away to the Glittering Court, she finds a way to take the servant’s place.

Which sounds reasonable, right? Until you realize the man stated what the Glittering Court is – a court that prepares beautiful young woman to become nobleman’s wives to the highest bidder. Yeah, bidder. She legitimately escapes her grandmother’s arranged marriage to be part of a stranger’s arranged marriage. You do find out later in the story that there is more choice and leeway involved, but our dear Adelaide, Osfridian Countess, does not know that upfront. This is the main plot of this book, and it doesn’t even make sense.

Then, let’s queue the obvious love interest and add in some angst with it being an unobtainable love. That is, until it’s just obtainable and they could have saved everyone a lot of trouble and, more importantly, me a lot of time.

I will give Richelle Mead a little credit, because she does try to tell a story that would start a discussion on religious freedom. I’ll give any author credit if they write something thought provoking that is somewhat taboo to talk about, and she did. That’s not saying she wrote about it amazingly, or that this book would change anyone’s life, but I still appreciate the sentiment and discussion, because this is a very important topic that our world needs to talk a hell of a lot more about!

“Do you think my being someone else’s wife will change anything? Don’t you know that I’d lie with you in the groves, under the light of the moon? That I’d defy the laws of gods and men for you?”

I also think it’s important to note, that as crazy as the hypocrisy in the first part of this book is, the first part of this book is way more enjoyable than the later parts. The ending of this book has probably the biggest use of deus ex machina I have read in a really long time. I hate “big shiny bow” syndrome in my stories, and this book is the queen of them. This story is one hopeless situation after hopeless situation that always ends up being fixed in a blink of an eye and with a snap of someone’s fingers.

I believe this book is going to have two companion novels. I’m sure the two companion novels are going to be in the POV of the two girls Adelaide befriends in the Glittering Court. These girls have a lot of mystery going on behind the scenes, while Adelaide was off trying to get married, so the idea is kind of appealing to me. This book also ended with a clean ending, while still leaving a few mini cliffhanger mysteries to make the reader want to read whatever comes next.

I never want to discourage anyone from reading something. This didn’t work for me, but hopefully it could still work for you. I have never read The Selection, but all my friends say that if you like that series, you will also like this one.

Food Wars!, Vol. 1 by Yuto Tsukuda

This was amazing! It was everything I hoped for and so much more! If you grew up, like me, being obsessed with Iron Chef (seriously, after all these years, Masaharu Morimoto is still bae) then you will probably love this manga, because that’s the direction I see this going.

Soma Yukihira works at his family’s restaurant. His father is the best chef to have ever lived, even though he doesn’t get much credit because he only works at a small family restaurant. One day, he decides to shut down the restaurant for a few years, and sign Soma up for culinary school.

Soma is pretty negative at first, but then realizes that the culinary school isn’t just any culinary school, it’s the best culinary school in the world. The Totsuki Saryo Culinary Institute is so prestigious and elite only ten percent of its students graduate. Most of these students have also been going to the preparatory school for three years, so normally no transfer students are even accepted, that is until Soma attempts the entrance exam.

During this exam, where all other applicants fled after seeing the overseer of the exam, Soma totally pulls a Ratatouille and makes a “poor man’s/working class” dish. He pours all of his heart and soul into this dish, knowing that the only way he will be a better chef than his father is to graduate from this school, while being the number one student.

This manga really deals with social class, and the expectations we put on people in those said classes. Most everyone in the Totsuki Saryo Culinary Institute is from well off families with very prestigious parents and restaurants in the food world, but they aren’t half as good as Soma is with his lesser-off background. I think this book has such a great message, and really leaves the reader with a lot of hope to follow their dreams, no matter what.

Oh, and you get actual recipes that Soma makes! Like, how cool is that? I honestly cannot praise this manga enough.

The only “negative” thing I can say, which didn’t bother me in the slightest, is that this series very much caters to fan service. Like, one second someone is going to take a bite out of a dish of Soma’s and then they are in a dream-like state, half naked, and borderline orgasming over it. It is mostly with female characters, but this manga does not discriminate and shows men experience pleasure like this from food, too. Like I said, this didn’t bother me, but maybe use discretion if you’re unsure.

I cannot wait to continue on with this series. Mostly, so I can keep picturing Soma as a young Masaharu Morimoto, while I live my life vicariously through him.

A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

#readASOIAF Read-Along – Hosted by Riley from Riley Marie, Elizabeth from Liz Loves Literature, and Kayla from BOOKadoodles. ♥

Well, no one said this title was misleading. When GRRM named this A Clash of Kings he couldn’t have been more right. This review will contain SPOILERS! Please refrain from reading if you have not read this book or its predecessor, A Game of Thrones.

So, we have the king sitting on the Iron Throne, Joffrey. We have Theon’s father crowing himself King of the Iron Islands. We have both of brothers of the late King Robert, Stannis and Renly, calling themselves kings and proving they will do anything to keep their titles. We have Robb Stark, the young wolf himself, proclaiming he is King of the North. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, we have the lovely Daenerys trying to throw her hat crown in the ring, while trying to find a fleet of ships to take her to Westeros.

“The contents of a man’s letters are more valuable than the contents of his purse.”

I absolutely am in love with the start of this book. Each chapter is a new POV with a new character within the Seven Kingdoms seeing Daenerys’ red comet for the first time. We, as readers, know that the comet is because of the birth of her three dragons at the end of A Game of Thrones, but each character tells their own interpretation of what omen they think the falling comet brings with it.

“People often claim to hunger for truth, but seldom like the taste when it’s served up.”

We finally meet my favorite character in the ASOIAF world; Davos. I always loved Davos in the books, and then Liam Cunningham playing him on the show, just completely sealed the deal for me. I don’t have high hopes for him living throughout the entirety of this series, but I completely live for his chapters in these five books that are out. My heart bleeds for him at Battle of the Blackwater. Actually, my heart just continues to bleed for Davos. He always does the right thing, not the selfish right thing that other characters in this world trick themselves into thinking is the right thing, but the actual right thing. Please, GRRM, leave my precious little cinnamon roll alone!

Seeing Stannis act like a jealous twelve-year-old girl, because Robert’s BFF was Ned and that he gave Renly Storm’s End, is always hilarious. I know many, many people want/wanted him to be the true king, but that theory never, ever resonated with me. Stannis always seemed so childish, the only redeeming quality he ever has going for him is his daughter, Shireen.

Catelyn’s chapters where much more bearable for me than they were in A Game of Thrones. I actually could feel her pain and regret, and she really impacted me much differently this time around. She actually made some pretty strong decisions, and this whole story would have gone much differently if Robb would have taken some of her advice.

Robb was actually the Stark I couldn’t stand in A Clash of Kings. He was so heartless about even attempting to get his sisters back. Then, he made stupid decision after stupid decision. I feel like maybe he has to be a bastard, too, because I cannot believe this is the son of Ned Stark with his actions. I know people who were upset that Robb never got any chapters, but during this reread I was extremely thankful for that.

Another one of my favorite characters is introduced in this book, which is Brienne of Tarth. You know, I’ve been on the fence about if Brienne actually killed Stannis in S5E10, but after rereading her love for Renly, I completely believe she did in the TV show. Regardless, Catelyn made her first good decisive choice, in my eyes, by rescuing Brienne from a very unfair situation. And we all know Brienne goes forth to repay that debt tenfold.

Speaking of the TV show, one thing that the TV doesn’t show is all the foreshadowing the book does about Arya’s wolf, Nymeria. There are so many passages hinting about this new wolf pack leader that is ruling the Riverlands, and scaring the hell out of a lot of people.

Poor Arya, she might have the worst deal of them all in this book. After having to witness the public execution of her father, she is forced into hiding by Yoren, who helps smuggle her out with a group of boys and wishes to take her to Castle Black to be with Jon. She ends up making friends, Gendry (Robert’s bastard) and Hot Pie, but after even more unfortunate events in her life, Yoren winds up dead and the group captured. She then ends up being Roose Bolton’s cupbearer, but the whole situation seems kind of weird for me. Arya did not know the Bolton’s already were traitors against Robb, I imagine she would still think they were one of the Stark’s banner men, no? And if she thought this, like I imagine I would, I would bet she would tell him who she really is! I mean, in hindsight we know she made the much, much, much better choice keeping her identity a secret, but the situation felt a little strange for me this read-through.

Regardless, Arya also meets, and we are introduced to, Jaqen H’ghar in this book. They have a few very intense moments, and he leaves her with his coin and explains to her that if she ever needs to find him to give the coin to anyone in Braavos.

“valar morghulis”

Roose Bolton isn’t the only Bolton that is in Clash of Kings; his bastard son, Ramsey, is as well. Okay, now I know Ramsey goes down on the TV show as the most evil villain ever, but that’s why I freakin’ love him! Actually, ASOIAF is so good because GRRM really does write the best villains, and you can see where every one of them is coming from! Ramsey will do anything, and I mean anything, to prove to his rather that he should have the last name Bolton.

“In the songs all knights are gallant, all maids are beautiful, and the sun is always shining.”

Theon, another character that can be seen as a villain that is willing to do anything to please his father, has betrayed Robb and decided to take Winterfell for himself. If only Rob acutally listened to his mother this time. Unfortunately Robb didn’t listen and unfortunately Theon will never be as cunning as Ramsey, who is posing under the guise of Reek, even though the real Reek died after having sex with a dead body of a girl that Ramsey had just raped and killed, who is now a prisoner in Winterfell. It is so genius, and so well executed by GRRM I will applaud him until the day I die. Twists and storylines like this is why this series is a step above the rest and completely deserves all the praise it receives.

I guess I should always state a disclaimer, like with all of the books in this series, that there are many very graphic rape and gang-rape scenes. I couldn’t even list all of the triggers for sexual abuse in this book, so please use caution when reading if this is something that concerns you. As scary as the sexual violence is to me, I think it is very believable in this world and helps to show people that the real monsters aren’t just beyond the wall; they are human beings capable of very evil things.

“To omit them from a narrative centered on war and power would have been fundamentally false and dishonest, and would have undermined one of the themes of the books: that the true horrors of human history derive not from orcs and Dark Lords, but from ourselves. We are the monsters. (And the heroes too). Each of us has within himself the capacity for great good, and great evil,” GRRM even says (perfectly) himself, via The Guardian.

I feel like this book doesn’t have enough Jon POVs, but every chapter we got a POV of him was phenomenal. I have always liked Ygritte more in the books, and this reread proves no different. We get to see Jon kill his first wildling, and then see something in Ygritte he hasn’t been able to see in another living soul. I get teary-eyed just thinking about this sub-plot. Jon obviously doesn’t kill Ygritte either time he is “supposed” to, while being north of the wall looking for his uncle, Benjen, and I cannot wait to start my reread of A Storm of Swordsjust for Ygritte and Jon alone.

And speaking of crows north of the wall, can we just talk about how Jeor Mormont is the real MVP? Like, not only has he completely taken Jon under his wing (hehehe) and is guiding him like a father should, I’m kind of thinking his raven is more important that what we are lead to believe in this book. With what we know from the TV show, which will probably be canon for the book as well, we have this raven saying “king” and all these other questionable word choices.

Who are my other personal MVPs of this book? Howland Reed and his kids, Meera and Jojen. Not only was Howland maybe the most loyal man to Ned Stark, but now his two children have run away with Bran, after Winterfell is under siege, to help him on a much bigger journey ahead. I mean, where the hell would the Starks be without the Reeds? I mean, besides dead. I know Howland has never had a POV in this series, yet, but I can’t help but dream of the day he will. Hopefully it will be in The Winds of Winter.

Lastly, in Westeros, we have King’s Landing. Thanks to Tyrion and wildfire, they have defeated Stannis’ army at Battle of the Blackwater. Sadly, this had also driven the Hound away, because he is scared of fire and it breaks my little black heart every time. Joffrey is still the crowned king after the victory, but many people are opposing it. Cersei is trying to guide him as best she can, while also giving Sansa some pretty sound life advice about women in this world and what they need to do to protect themselves. Sansa is also somewhat saved, considering her father is now seen as a traitor to the crown, who has no money or men willing to fight because Robb has them, so her marriage proposal to Joffrey isn’t looking as good to the Lannisters. House Tyrell on the other hand, has lots of money and fifty-thousand swords they are willing to bring with a marriage proposal. After this marriage proposal is deemed more worthy, Margaery is sent for, because Renly, her now late husband, was killed by Stannis.

It is pretty crazy how intricate this story is, and how everything works out. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, George RR Martin truly is a genius and words cannot express how much I love this world he has created. I mean, I sure in the hell wouldn’t memorize all these names for just any old author.

Chaos Rises by Pippa DaCosta

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This world that Pippa DaCosta has created is so unique, I can’t help but want to read everything in all her series, but every time I finish I feel a little let down. I mean, demons, half-demons, hierarchy between them, magical elements, different worlds, the devil himself, what more could a girl ask for in an urban-fantasy novel? Maybe an amazing concept just isn’t enough?

I have only read Wings of Hope by Pippa DaCosta, and I felt the same way upon completing that book, as well: indifferent. I’m not sure if I should just grin and bear it, and try to continue on to see if my feelings sway and I can actually latch on to this world/story better. I mean, there are so many good books out there, and so little time. I’m not sure if I want to make that kind of commitment.

This story revolves around LA, and surrounds a sister in search for her missing brother, who she will do anything to find. They have had a very rough life, and only have had each other to trust and lean on. They are both half-demons, but they both carry their own powerful secrets.

In Wings of Hope we are introduced to the Prince of Greed, but in Chaos Rises we are introduced to the Prince of Pride, who ends up being the most cunning demon I’ve ever read about. He was my favorite character, as little as I saw of him, and I think if I saw more this book’s star rating would have been increased dramatically.

Unlike in Wings of Hope where these horrible, abusive full-demons do terrible things to half-demons in the netherwold , which is only separated by the veil, Chaos Rises is set six months after the veil has been broken and demons and half-demons are populating earth right beside humans. Well, maybe not right beside humans, I mean, they are still demons and humans are freaking scared.

But, that’s what the Institute was for – a lab ran by humans that were creating half-demon assassins to fight against full-demons. Before the veil, half-bloods were more powerful, because they could draw their elements in our world and the netherwold, which made them twice as powerful, but that’s no longer the case.

Also, like in Wings of Hope, in Chaos Rises half-blood demons are not viewed anywhere close to equals. In fact, they aren’t even free; they are always owned and deemed lesser.

Gem and her brother, Del, are owned by a full-demon named Allard. Allard has a scheme that he thinks cannot go wrong, but oh how very wrong he is.

Unfortunately, this major plot point took way too long to start up. I was already way too not invested to care. Also, on a side note, I only count six people. Is control the…. seventh? I don’t even understand this crucial point. Maybe I missed it, but I feel like maybe that would be something that would stand out more in a main story line. Then, we barely learn anything about Del, the missing brother, which I understand is because he is missing throughout most the book, but there was no writing that made me feel anything towards him or be sad that he was missing in the first place.

To put it blatantly, I just completely lack empathy for this book and its characters. Li’el is the only exception, but he is barely in any of the scenes. I’m sure the next installment will be better in this series, but I’m not sure I have the motivation to want to continue on.

I just want to reiterate that this was not a bad book, even though I gave it only two stars, it just wasn’t gripping to me. It is the definition of a two star rating for me: just okay. I can see many of my friends reading this and loving it, it just, unfortunately, does not cast the same spell on me.

Spice & Wolf, Vol. 1 by Isuna Hasekura

“I’ll always remember that you chose me.”

Lawrence is a traveling merchant that is very trusted throughout the land, even though that land is very heavily controlled by the church, who will do anything to make sure the gods from the past are no longer worshiped. This doesn’t affect Lawrence what-so-ever, until he finds one of these old gods sleeping in his wagon cart after a Pagan harvest festival.

The adorable god he finds is Horo, a wolf god! She can shift between forms, even though it’s not the most convenient of ways, but in human form she is still left with cute little wolf ears and a tail. Her life depends on a sheaf of wheat that Lawrence has in his cart.

Obviously, Lawrence’s new travel friend would cause a problem if anyone found out that she’s really a Pagan god, so Horo is constantly hiding her “special additions”. Lawrence agrees to help Horo get north, while Horo promises to help his sales to earn her keep.

This book heavily focuses on economics, but it isn’t overwhelming. The main sub-plot surrounds the coin system and silver purity. Lawrence and Horo get wrapped up with two companies, with very similar names might I add, that have much more power than they do. This will not be the last time we see these two companies or the church, I’m sure.

This is a romance, but it’s the definition of slow-burn romance. Lawrence and Horo are both such lonely creatures that truly do not deserve to be. I think I want to continue on with this series mostly just to see their happy ending (they better get a happy ending).

This book was much longer and much more thought provoking than I thought it would be. When I saw it only had a prologue, six chapters and then an epilogue, I thought it would only take me about an hour to read. Boy was I wrong. This was actually very meaty, and took me two nights to read. There was a lot to the story and plot, and the character development (as slow as it might be) was also exceptional.

This story read very beautifully, and I feel like it was translated well. I think fantasy lovers would really enjoy this, and it would be a nice place to start if you want to get into light-novels and manga.

The Warlord Wants Forever by Kresley Cole

This book’s main character has a very unique race I’m not sure I’ve read about before; Valkyrie. Basically, if a female warrior prayed to/for lightning in their last moments of life, a Valkyrie would be born. Pretty neat stuff, but that’s not even the end of all the amazing races in this novella. It’s also full of vampires, fae, nymphs, demigods, werewolves, demons and more!

Oh, and the vampires in this book are unlike any other vampires I’ve read about. They don’t have heartbeats until they find their soul mates. They also aren’t able to have sex until this happens. Then, when the males find the one, they will perform a blooding. Which is pretty much his need to have sex/drink from her, but the urge is pretty mighty! (I guess the last part is kind of like all the other vampire books… but the heartbeat/soul mate thing is neat!)

Wroth is a total babe of a vampire warrior, who is in search of his soul mate so that he can gain strength from the blooding. Myst is a total seductress who isn’t entirely sure of what she wants, but she’s had a crush on Wroth since he was a human. Fate brings them together in a cute way, and a really enjoyable story unfolds. There are quite a few witty jabs in this that actually made my giggle aloud. The chemistry and banter between these two are wonderful.

Myst, has another unique quality besides being a Valkyrie. She has a gold chain (a brisingamen) around her body, that is unable to be taken off of her. Myst only says it’s for punishment and protection, but it was a cool little addition to this story.

Overall, this was a wonderful little read, that made me really excited to continue on with the rest of this series. They hint at the mystical “Lore” a lot, which I’m guessing is just their magic world, but they also bring up a Lore Queen that I want to know more about. And please, please, give me more Wroth.