Series Review: Saga Vol 1-8

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

For quite some time now I have been seeing Saga in book stores and was intrigued by the covers, yet for some reason I never even bothers to really look at them. Then more recently, I have been seeing Saga showing up on a lot of blogs and seeing rave reviews about it. Now normally, when I see so many positive reviews on the same book, I tend to ignore that book from then on, because history has taught me that the more positive reviews that surrounds a book the less likely I will enjoy it. But, I also really wanted to check it out. So, I made the snap decision to dive into this series. I was sure enough that I would like it, that I went ahead and bought all of the current volumes, seven in total, and that was one of the best decisions I made.

This series is so damn good. I meant to read just one of the books at first, but the next thing you know I had read all seven volumes and was dying for more. The characters, the world building, the story line, everything in it is just so phenomenal. I will admit, that some of the things within the volumes are very strange, and yet they work so perfectly with the book. The artwork in this series is downright gorgeous, and it really helps to truly tell all of the story.

I felt so many things reading these books. I felt the joy, sadness, fear, anger and every other emotion of the characters. I cheered them on, I mourned with them.

One of the really neat things is how Hazel, the child of the story, is essentially narrating her own story along with the main story. It’s such a neat way to tell things, and adds an extra layer to everything.

I have to say that I found Volume 8 to not be as strong as the previous volumes. It was still really good, but felt more like a side story that the main story arc I had come to know and love.

I can’t really go into too much more detail, because I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t read this series yet. But I will say that I’m glad that I finally read this one, and in a way, I’m glad that I waited so long, because I was able to get through seven volumes in one go.  I have a feeling I will be rereading this series countless times because it is so darn good. If you have been thinking about reading this series, I would highly suggest that you go do so. Really looking forward to continuing with this series as each new volume is released.

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Book Review: Your Name Another Side: Earthbound

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

If you have not read or watched Your Name yet, please do so before reading this book. Not only is the story itself amazing, but everything will make so much more sense if you do.

As soon as I saw that this book was coming out, I knew that I had to read it. I have fallen in love with the story of Your Name and to get to see this little side story involving those in Mitsuha’s life, and how her experiences with Taki have affected them as well. This book is broken into four different stories, each focusing on one person in Mitsuha’s life.

The first story is focused on her friend Saya. I honestly felt that this was perhaps the weakest story of them all. I don’t know if it’s because Saya’s reaction to everything wasn’t as shocked and concerned as everyone else, or if it was something else, but Saya herself even had a fairly small presence in this story. Still, it was fun to see how she did react to a couple of things that happened, things that you don’t get to see in the movie.

Then there was Teshi’s story. He had already been a big presence in Saya’s story, but he was even more so here. I definitely had a couple of good laughs during this one. I also felt that this really allowed us to see more depth in Teshi as a whole. The Teshi we see in the movie is very serious, and he certain maintains that throughout a vast majority of this story, but there is this whole other side to Teshi that really shines here. I love how he is both confused by this new Mitsuha, but also embraces many of the changes he sees – often accounting it to stress in Mitsuha’s life, so doesn’t really see all that bothered by things.

Next up revolved around Mitsuha’s younger sister, Yotsuha. I was pretty interested in seein gmore of her thoughts on Mitsuha’s changes. We get to see a pretty good amount of it during the movie, but there was bound to be more. The best part is, as a younger child, Yotsuha’s understanding of many things in life is obviously lacking, so watching her try to figure things out herself. Her line of thought could be quite deep at times, and it really added a whole new level to her character, and gave a glimpse of the person she would become as she grew older.

Finally there was the story about Mitsuha’s father, Toshiki. I’ll admit, I didn’t particularly like Mitsuha’s father in the movie, but we also know so little about it, that it was hard to know why he was the way that he was. Unlike the previous stories, this one doesn’t focus so much on his opinions of what is happening to Mitsuha, but is a reflection on the past, how he met his wife, more about the Miyamizu temple and it’s traditions, as well as those of other temples, and also the start of their family. All this leads up to why he abandoned his family, the temple and his why he pursued the role of mayor. I felt like this story helped me to understand him so much better, and it also helped him understand his daughter as well. I definitely have a bit more respect for him, even if he is still a total jerk in the end.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I am now hoping that they come out with another novel like this, but where it’s the people in Taki’s life showing how him switching affects them.

Series Review: Death Note

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Death Note is one of those series that I had been wanting to read for a while, but never really put the effort into finding the books. Then, last summer, I spotted the entire series at a used book store and knew my time to check out this series had finally come.

I didn’t really know what to expect out of this series. Really the only thing I knew was that the main character, Light, somehow got a notebook that can kill people by writing their names in it. Honestly, it sounded like a pretty darn interesting concept, so I was eager to dive in.

This was certainly not your typical manga. Usually, it’s the pictures that tell the story, as the dialogue and minimal descriptive text just helps the story along. That is not the case with Death Note, as it the text often overtook the visual aspects page after page. Not only that, but most of the characters spoke, or thought, a lot and in very long, drawn out moments. I felt in a way it took away from the manga, because it was more like reading a novel that just happened to have pictures in the back ground than an actual manga. This made me dislike the series in a way.

As for the characters, well there are quite a few of them throughout this series. Some remain from volume one and go through to the end, while others have very small roles. I have to say, I didn’t really care for Light all that much. He was an interesting character for a while, but then his analytical ways started to bother me. This was the same for L, but I really hated his character right from the get go. Between the two of these characters, I felt my desire to keep reading and see how things played out starting to wane. I did also feel like the series was a bit long. It probably could have been condensed down into six volumes or so and still had everything in it, just in a more fast paced and perhaps interesting way.

I feel like this series would have been much more enjoyable as a light novel. That way the walls of text wouldn’t seem so bothersome. I’m still glad I read this series, but I honestly don’t know if I would recommend it or not. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who would enjoy it and those who wouldn’t as well. I may eventually watch the anime series just to see if it is more enjoyable than reading the manga, but we’ll see.

Book Review: Wolf Children Ame & Yuki

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

For a while now, I’ve had my eye on Wolf Children, yet for the longest time I never made any real effort to get the manga or watch the anime. So finally a couple months ago, I happened to see the bind-up of all three volumes at the book store and knew it was my chance to finally read this.

I’ll admit, that upon initially starting this book, I didn’t feel drawn into the story. It felt a bit slow, and while I enjoyed the artwork, I wasn’t falling in love with the characters or story. I continued to read through it, knowing that there were so many positive reviews out there that this had to be one of those stories that got better as it went on. And it did. I did start to feel a connection to the characters, the story was starting to pull me in and make me want more. But even then, I still wasn’t loving it.

I did enjoy seeing the struggles of Ami and Yuki, along with their mother Hana, to try to learn just how they fit into the world. Hana’s resilience and determination to see her children lead a normal, but sometimes protected life, showed how much she loved them – and perhaps feared for them as well. Most interesting of all was how Ami and Yuki changed over time. Their personalities generally stayed the same, but their outlook on life and what and who they were certainly evolved along the way.

By the time I was done, I felt like I had indeed read a pretty decent story. However, it wasn’t until a few weeks later, after I had watched the movie, that I started to truly appreciate how good this story was. It grew on me over time and before long I could finally see why so many people who had read this book had really loved it. I’m glad I finally made the time to not only read the manga, but to watch the anime as well, as this truly is a wonderful story. I would definitely recommend it.

Book Review: Ghosts

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

This is one of those books that I saw on quite a few blogs a while back, and I’ll admit, I was intrigued by it. My son also showed interest in this book, so we decided to get it in order to read it.

I didn’t really know what to expect with this one. I decided to go in as blind as possible, knowing only that it involved sisters and ghosts. I have to say, this was the first book that I have read that had a character with cystic fibrosis. I know very little about the disease, besides what the book told me, so it was kind of refreshing to get to see a character affected by it. I do feel that not enough books have characters who are affected by diseases and disabilities. This is also the first book that I have read that had the Day of The Dead as a part of the story. So those two aspects along made me enjoy it.

The sisters relationship reminded me a lot of the one I had with my sister. We fought at times, got along at others and were even inconvenienced by each others presence from time to time. All in all, it was a great representation of how siblings act around one another.

The art in this book was also very enjoyable. And the overall flow of the story was pretty good, a little slow at times, but not too bad.

One thing that I didn’t understand, and it wasn’t explained in the book, was why the ghosts were offered orange soda. I get that it is some sort of offering, but it seemed to be a key component to the Day of The Dead celebration, but there was no explanation as to why it was that particular item and not something else offered to the ghosts. Honestly, for someone who knows next to nothing about Day of the Dead, I was left wanting to know more about it and I do feel like there should have been a bit more information put in the book about it and cystic fibrosis as a whole. I understand you can only put so much in a book, especially one meant for middle grade kids, but I feel like it left me with more questions than it answered.

My son also read this one, and while he liked, he said he didn’t really understand the story completely.

Overall, this was a good book. I’d recommend it to other to read and I’m sure there are many people out there who would enjoy this one.

Book Review: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

When I first started reading this book, I thought that it might actually be a novelization of the Veronica Mars movie, because it felt too similar. This made me disappointed, because I wanted a new story, but I kept on reading and soon realized that this all occurs shortly after the movie, which made me happy.

This story definitely has the feel of the Veronica Mars series, which it should, after all, it’s written by Rob Thomas. I was glad to see that this series was continuing, even if it was in book form, because I have long enjoyed watching Veronica Mars.

I liked how the story unfolded, reintroducing characters I loved from the series, and some I didn’t. The mystery is well thought out and while I had some inkling as to who was behind it and what was happening, I was only partially right in the end.

Overall, I liked this book. I would definitely recommend it to fans of Veronica Mars if they haven’t read it yet. I do plan on eventually reading the sequel to this book.

Book Review: Smuggler’s Run

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I’ve been trying to make an effort to catch up on reading the new cannon Star Wars books lately. The series is still small, but I have yet to fall in love with the books, though perhaps in time and with the right authors and stories I will.

I figured that I can’t go wrong with a Han Solo story. Who doesn’t love that scruffy looking nerf herder? This story focuses on an event that occurs between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes back.

I thought that the story was pretty good. It had a decent flow to it and the portrayal of Han was pretty spot on. One aspect I liked was how it explained just how difficult it is to pilot the Millennium Falcon, and how it really relies on having a pilot and a co-pilot in order to properly get the ship to respond. I never really gave any thought before as to why Chewbacca was the co-pilot, I just figured he was there because he was Han’s friend.

The story had a decent amount of action scattered throughout, which I feel really helped me enjoy the book more. Without that, the book would have been a bit bland. Plus how can you have a mission to rescue people important to the Rebellion if there aren’t a few blaster fights and ship battles along the way.

One thing I find strange about this book, and all of the other “Journey to” books that I have read so far, is that the 99% of the events within the book happen sometime during the orignal trilogy, yet they are labeled as a Journey To: The Force Awakens. Okay, yes there tend to be small things that will be referenced in The Force Awakens that you will read about in the book, but I just feel like it’s sort of faulty advertising. If it was truly a Journey To The Force Awakens story, then it should help to fill in the thirty year gap between the original trilogy and the new movies, not focus on something that happened during the original trilogy.

Though this book is labeled as Young Adult, I really don’t feel like it falls into the category. I guess it was the easy way the story unfolded that puts it in that genre.

Overall, this book was okay. It wasn’t great but it held it’s own in a fledgling series that is trying to build itself up to what the Expanded Universe what was – though I feel like it will take quite some time to reach that caliber of books. It is a worthwhile read for Star Wars fans that want to absorb every bit of the new cannon, but honestly for the average person it can probably be skipped.