Book Review: Dark Horse

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The publisher provided with a copy to review via NetGalley.

For a number of years now, I have been reading and enjoyed B.J. Daniels romantic suspense books. I love cowboys, I love mystery and romance it okay too, so slapping those three things together is a recipes for something great. So when I heard that she had a new series coming out, I knew I had to check it out.

Like most of her novels, I was dragged in right from the first page. The tone of the entire book is set up from that first character introduction. I wanted to know more right away, but knew that I had to wait, to see all the little clues laid out over the course of the book to see exactly what happened and how the current events would unfold.

As far as characters go, I can’t say that I absolutely loved any of them. They all had their quirks which made them both enjoyable and annoying at times. Then there were some characters that I felt didn’t get enough attention, though perhaps they will play bigger roles in the rest of the series, and I wanted to know a bit more about them. I did enjoy the two main characters, Nikki and Cull. One thing I wish I could have seen more of was Nikki working on the book. I get that she was doing research for her book about the kidnapping, but even so, I felt like it would have been nice to see her work on writing a bit, not just interview people and take minimal notes.

The mystery aspect of the book was by far my favorite part. I always try to work things out and figure out who did it before it gets revealed, but as always, Daniels lays so many different clue trails throughout the book that I wasn’t able to guess who. Then when it was revealed I wondered how I missed the evidence that would have told me the who, how and why of it all.

The romance part of this book was nearly non-existent, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes romantic suspense books can focus too much on the romance and forget that there is a mystery side to the story. This was not the case with Dark Horse, and I would say about 1% of the book was romance and even then it was very light.

I did have one small issue, and it had nothing to do with the content of the book, but more than the file I had of it was corrupted, so I was unable to read the last page or two. I doubt I missed anything big, but would be nice to know exactly how it ended, so I’ll have to be on the lookout for a physical copy of it next time I’m at the bookstore so I can get the whole story.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. While I didn’t absolutely love everything about it, I still gobbled it up in nearly one sitting and really liked the mystery part of the story. I will continue on with the series to see how the rest of the story turns out. If you are looking for a books that heavy on the mystery and light on romance, then this book may be for you.

Series Review: A Silent Voice

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

A few months ago, I was watching trailers for various anime looking for something new to watch and to check out what movies were coming out in the future. Among the many that I watched then, was the trailer for A Silent Voice. I was intrigued by this anime and added it to my list to watch. Since it was based upon a manga, I wanted to read the manga first before eventually watching the movie, mostly so I could experience the original content first.

It took me a little bit to get into the story. One of the issues I had, right from the start, was how similar the two main characters names were. Shoya being the bully of Shoko, and they both occasionally went by the nickname of “Sho”, so sometimes it was confusing as to which Sho someone was referring to.

The series consists of seven volumes, with the first one setting up the backstory for the main characters, establishing Shoya as the bully and Shoko his unfortunate victim. As a bully victim myself, I sometimes have a hard time reading about bullying, and yet at the same time I wish there were more books out there that dealt with this issue. That is why I was drawn to this series, because so much of it’s story revolves around bullying, both the act as it happens and the long term effects it has on everyone, from the victim, the bully and the bystanders.

One thing I liked about this series is now it shows that the bully can also be deeply affected by what they have done. We all know the bully victim takes a beating every day, and that there are often long term side effects that stick around for many years, if not the rest of their life. But many people think that the bully is never affected in any way by all of them. Perhaps for some that’s the case, and they go on with life without any ill effects from what they did to others. But in the case of Shoya, he did feel shame and regret over what he did and wanted to make things right again.

Seeing the characters change over the course of this series really was great. It showed that people can change, that the bully can feel remorse, that the victim can forgive them. It also showed various reactions from those who had watched it all happen, and perhaps even participated a bit in the bullying themselves. I did have a few issues with it. For example, I find it really hard to accept that a bully victim would become friends with their bully later on in life, and even go as far as to have slight romantic feelings towards them. I can’t say that this would never happen in real life, but as someone who was bullied before, I can safely say that I would never ever be friends with the people who tormented me – I could forgive them, but never trust them enough to let them close to me. I also didn’t care for Tomohiro, someone who becomes friends with Shoya in the second volume, because I felt he was too much like a bully and was only going to complicate things – and in a way he did but not completely.

I feel like the one thing that didn’t translate well in the art was the sign language. Obviously it’s hard to draw people communicating through sign language when in manga form. It’s the one aspect of the series that I think will be better expressed in the movie.

Overall, I enjoyed this series. I didn’t absolutely love it, but it was good. The artwork was wonderful. I would recommend this series to anyone interested in it, and those looking for books that have bullying in them. I feel like it does a great job is portraying it. I will one day watch the movie to see how it compared to the manga. I will also be on the lookout for more by this author.

Book Review: Erased Vol. 1

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Erased is a manga that I might not have read. However, a couple months ago I was at the book store looking over the manga section, and displayed on the table were a number of manga and among the many volumes there was Erased. What made me pick it up, was how it stood out from all the others. All other covers were super colorful, where as this one is mostly white. I couldn’t help but have my eyes drawn to it, because it was so different from all the others. This prompted me to pick it up, see what it was about and I decided to get it, and I’m glad that I did.

I thought it was an interesting concept, for the main character, Satoru, to have the ability to move back in time a couple of minutes in order to prevent something from happen. To add an extra level to this, he has no control over this ability and it will continue to happen until he figures out what needs to be fixed. Imagine that, having to repeat the same few minutes over and over until you can spot something out of place, perhaps someone in danger, and then only after you fix that issue can you continue on with life. Now imagine that same ability suddenly transporting you back in time eighteen years. That is the basis of this manga.

I’ll admit, at first I wasn’t a complete fan of the artwork in this manga, but over time it grew on me. In fact, in a way, by the end, I really like it, because it was quite different from what I have come to expect from the manga’s that I have read before.

The story had me engrossed from page one and before long I was at the end. I loved watching Satoru struggle with reliving his childhood, while retaining all his memories, and seeing how he adapts to situations he already did years ago. Not to mention, he has that mission, thanks to his time travel ability, to spot what is wrong and do his best to fix it. Really my only complaint that it was over far too quickly and I wanted to keep going, but sadly the second volume wasn’t out yet. I have a feeling this series will become one of my favorite manga, especially if the following volumes are as good as this one was. I would highly recommend this book to everyone.

Book Review: Moving Target A Princess Leia Adventure

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

When I received this book in May, sent to me by my amazing OTSP Secret Sister, I had to read it right away. I love Star Wars, have for many years, and Princess/General Leia is definitely my favorite character, so a book that focuses on her is high on my priority list. Plus I was looking forward to seeing more story added to the new canon, which in my opinion is lacking in overall appeal when compared to the old Expanded Universe. However, I was a bit disappointed when the story focuses on something that happens between Empire Strikes Back and Return of The Jedi. For a book labeled as “Journey To The Force Awakens” I was expecting something to fill in that 30 year gap, not go between two of the original movies. That being said, I still enjoyed this book.

It’s an interesting thing to get essentially a reboot of a series. And that is what is happening with the new canon books. Because of this, we get a whole new look at what happens before, during, between and after the movies. So while I was hoping for something between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, it was also nice to see focus on Princess Leia and what she had to do to ensure the success of the Rebel’s plans that would come to fruition in Return of The Jedi.

This story shows off Leia ingenuity, bravery and her willingness to put herself into the line of fire for the greater good of the Rebellion. Now obviously we all know Leia isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty, to do what must be done to try to put an end to the Empire, but I feel like this book did a good job of showing just far she was willing to go. Not only that, but it showed how others rally to her in times of need. Of course, not everyone agreed with Leia’s idea initially, but she was able to convince them that not only that it had to be done, but what she was a key component of it all.

Really the only reason why I didn’t give this book a higher rating is because I wanted the story to help fill the huge gap between the original trilogy and The Force Awakens. Sure, this was still a good and very quick read, it just wasn’t what I was expecting. I hope to see more Leia focused stories as the canon books come. For those who enjoy Star Wars, this book is a must read. I’ll be looking to read the rest of the Journey To The Force Awakens books – especially the two that focus on Han and Luke, in the future.

Book Review: The Battle of The Labyrinth

My rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

There’s not much to say about this one. I started off this series a couple months ago really enjoying the first book, but with each book I liked it less and less. I don’t know if it’s series syndrome, where the first book is the strongest and nothing can hold up to that, or I’m just missing something that makes me under appreciate the story as it progresses.

This book felt so darn slow. I was constantly waiting for something to happen, especially something amazing that would lift the book up to the level that The Lightning Thief was. I kept reading, waiting for that something to occur, and I kept reading, and kept waiting, and still nothing felt like it was happening. The whole traveling through the labyrinth part felt like the author was just trying to make the book the same length as the previous book, but while there were some things happening during that large portion of the book, I just didn’t care. I’m starting to hate Percy and even Annabeth is getting on my nerves.

I’m glad that this series is almost over. Part of me just wants to stop here, but with only one book remaining, I will eventually continue on so that I can say I finished the series, but I’m honestly not looking forward to it.

Series Review: .hack// Legend of The Twilight

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

About ten years ago, my husband bought me this trilogy after I had showed interest in the .hack video games. Since then, the books, along with the games, sat on my shelves severely neglected. Finally, I decided it was time to read this trilogy.

I realized very quickly that this wasn’t the best starting point for me. After a quick internet search, I found out that there are many different .hack series, inlcuding the games, other manga and anime series and this was not the first of them. Even so, I decided to keep reading and hoped it would all make sense in the end.

Despite not having read, watched or played any of the previous series, I came to enjoy this trilogy. It does vaguely reference things that happened in the previous series, but you certainly don’t need to have read or watched the other series to get through this one, it just helps.

These books were pretty quick reads. I got through all three in one day. Really my only big complaint is that sometime I could tell which character was talking. They all look vaguely similar, especially the hair styles, so when it’s a close up of their face, I didn’t always know who was talking. Also, there were times when I wasn’t sure if a character was thinking something, saying something or if it was some other external dialog going on.

Overall, I liked these books, but I felt that I would have enjoyed them much more had I read the series in order, and of course watched the appropriate anime and played the right games before diving into this one. That being said, you certainly don’t need to do that. If you want to read this trilogy and not touch the other .hack series, then you can do so without being lost.

Book Review: Scarlet

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

After finishing Cinder, the first book in the Lunar Chronicles series, I wanted to jump into Scarlet. Much like with Cinder, I decided to go blindly into this book. All that I knew was that it was a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood and that somehow it would meld into Cinder’s story.

This book was a bit slow at first. I found myself not entirely pulled into the story, though I felt that it would get better with time, and it did. Needing to introduce a whole new cast of characters and a new setting, of course it would take a few chapters to get things rolling. However, it took a lot longer than I expected for me to really get into the story. In fact, it wasn’t until the last hundred pages that I really got into this book. It was during that last hundred pages that the book truly shined and it made up for all the slowness from before.

One thing I really loved about this book was Scarlet herself. The fact that she was a farmer made me instantly love her character. It is certainly not something you see in YA books and I would honestly love to see more of them in other series. Outside of the farmer aspect, she character did feel a little flat at times, but throughout the story she did get some good charcter devolpment that made her better overall. I liked that we got a more background on Cinder and the connection that some of it had with Scarlet and her Grandmother.

I have to admit though, and I’m probably one of the other people who felt this way, but I really didn’t care for Captain Thorne. I found his character annoying and I just wanted him to stop talking.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. Sure it had it’s slow moments but I feel like the last bit of it completely made up for that. I would definitely recommend this series, at least up til this point, to anyone who hasn’t read it yet. I look forward to continuing the series and seeing who lies ahead for these characters and what the other characters along the way will be like.