Mini Reviews: Injustice Year One, Skinwalker

Just a couple of minis for now! I’m in the middle of reading two heftier books at the moment, one a NetGalley ARC (or it was…um…), and the other the massive conclusion to Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I’ll definitely review both soon.

I realize that I had actually written a review for a portion of Year Two of Injustice but never actually read the first year volume up until now. So, here’s me remedying that! I’ll have to finish the second year as well.

I also realized that it’s been ages since I actually read the first Jane Yellowrock book, Skinwalker, and I never actually reviewed it! So here it is to add to my mini-reviews collection.

Have you read either of these? What did you think?

Pirates, Mermaids, Monsters, Oh My! || Monstress, Vol. 2 Review

Initial Thoughts: 

Can this get any more EPIC? The answer is YES. There are pirates and animalistic Arcanics (THERE’S A SHARK GIRL WHAT) and old gods that eerily remind me of Alucard’s crazy demon form in Hellsing. And lawd, when’s the next set coming out because MORE PLS.


MONSTRESS, VOL. 2: THE BLOOD

by Marjorie M. Liu, Sana Takeda (illustrator)
Image Comics, July 2017
Graphic novel, science fiction, fantasy, steampunk
Rated: 5 / 5 cookies

The Eisner-nominated MONSTRESS is back! Maika, Kippa, and Ren journey to Thyria in search of answers to her past… and discover a new, terrible, threat. Collects MONSTRESS #7-12.

I don’t think I’ve fallen so hard and so fast over a comics series than I had with Monstress, and honestly, it’s largely to do with the two amazing women who’ve brought this story to life on the illustrated medium. Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda are mistresses of their craft, and together they managed to convey a wonderful story of a powerful girl in a world still reeling from the previous war and yet gearing for a new one.

The story follows after Volume 1 (Issues 1-6) and picks up the pace, sending Maika, Kippa, and Ren south to Thyria, Maika’s hometown. There, Maika regroups and enlists the help of pirates to ferry her further south, to the Cape of Bones, a place where Moriko Halfwolf had once traveled. To gain more information of the monster inside her, Maika follows her mother’s footsteps–and obsession with the legendary Shaman Princess–south, encountering dangers along the way, as well as a deeper understanding of how to control the Monstrum within.

As can normally be found in most first volumes, the first six issues of Monstress dealt with throwing as much information our way as possible. While Liu and Takeda managed to convey the information in creative ways (including a little professor-student talking panel every issue for the heavier worldbuilding aspects), most of the first volume was truly introductory. Yes, the second volume also deals with the addition of new characters, but by this point, we are familiar with a bit of the world and there’s less explaining to do. So for the most part, we can sit back and enjoy the story.

Well, sort of.

Then Liu comes around and throws us for a loop and we start to devour the next bits of fantastical element thrown our way. In this case, the sea Arcanics.

Yes, we saw the awesomeness of the Fox Queen and the Monkey King and by that point we are unsurprised by the group of “nekomancers” littering the pages (I mean, Ren is one of them…). But a motherfrelling Arcanic shark? Mermaids and sirens and bone-chilling sea creatures of doom? Hell yes!

Not to mention dapper ex-pirate lions and tigers, who, by the way, are friggin’ AWESOME.

I don’t know how they’re not super-hot in those outfits, I would be if I was sporting that much fur in my body. That said, CAN I GET THEIR CLOTHES? I’d so wear the shmat out of them.

And, because we needed more badass females, throw in a female captain in the mix.

Of course, the issues don’t just deal with Maika’s story, though hers takes center stage for the most part. Characters introduced in the previous issues–such as the Cumaea and the Dawn and Dusk Courts–recur in the next several issues, and while Maika’s journey is largely one of self-discovery, we have several other characters mobilized to find her. Chief among them is the Sword of the East, who is revealed to be Maika’s sole living relative, an aunt who had been unaware of her presence. The Cumaea is still after Maika’s Monstrum, while others seek to destroy her.

It’s no wonder Maika broods all the time. Shes’ got a shitton of people coming after her, and to add cherry to her fantastic life, the ravenous monster inside her is getting stronger and stronger, almost to the brink of being out of control.

And yet, she still has that sass that made me love her in the beginning issues.

The second volume is chock-full of action, and more of the story is revealed to the reader, including a back story of the old gods that used to live in the known world. If you thought the first volume was epic, the second one blows it out of the water. Hem hem.

And honestly, those issue cover illustrations.

I cannot gush enough about this volume of Monstress. I highly recommend it, for story, for female badassery, for a world that’s a mix of everything I love about fantasy/scifi worldbuilding. Now I feel like the Monstrum, because this series is making me insatiable. I want more please!

5 out of 5 cookies!

This counts as #11 of the Graphic Novels/Manga Reading Challenge and #4 of the Steampunk Reading Challenge.


Have you read this series? What did you think?

Mini Reviews: Wrath & Dawn short stories, King George

Do short stories garner reviews? Even mini ones? Why yes, yes of course! Because why the heck not. Also, I went back into a The Wrath & the Dawn kick after re-reading the first book and falling in love with the characters all over again. So why not continue that love by reading the prologue-y chapters?

The first one, The Moth & the Flame, is pretty much the larger of the two pieces, owing to the fact that Ahdieh has written Despina and Jalal’s first encounters with each other. The two had ample chemistry in the books, but in these first few meetings, they’re short and sweet and altogether worth reading.

The second, The Crown & the Arrow, is a reflection piece in Khalid’s POV. It takes place exactly around the same time the novel begins, with Shazi on the verge of walking up to her husband and caliph for the very first time. Khalid’s always a fun POV, because he’s a very poetic and romantic one.

And…because the first two ARE short stories, I’ve thrown in a non-fiction I’d read because it was one of those books I had assigned to my literature voldies.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

Mini Reviews: White Sand, The Way of Shadows

Alright, so I’m not really counting these two reads as 2017 reads, because I’d actually finished them last year. That said, I did want to throw in these mini reviews since I didn’t have a chance a couple weeks back. The first, White Sand, is a Sanderson original in graphic novel form, and is part of his Cosmere universe (which is friggin’ awesome). The second is the graphic novel version of Brent Weeks’ The Way of Shadows, which lends fabulously in comic medium.

whitesand

wayofshadowsgn

Have you read either of these? What did you think?

Review: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

Once again, I’ve had to push my TBR list aside in favor of reading a book I should NOT have read so soon after its publishing date. Especially when the confounded thing ends in a cliffhanger. Especially when I just got out of a massive book hangover, only to step into another one because OH. MY. GOD. This book is gold. It lives up to the hype. It…it’s just beautiful.

And frankly, it ruined my emotional circuit board.

Note: Possible spoilers as this is the sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic.


A GATHERING OF SHADOWS

by V.E. Schwab
Tor Books, February 2016
Fantasy
Rated: cookieratingcookieratingcookieratingcookieratingcookierating / 5 cookies

A Gathering of Shadows FinalFour months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games—an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries—a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again—meaning that another London must fall.

I spent a day or two wrapping my head around this review. I couldn’t format it properly mostly because all I wanted to write down was “OH MY GOD THIS BOOK IS AWESOME IT HAS CHANGED MY LIFE FOREVER AND FEELS. LOTS OF FEELS.”

To be honest, I still kind of want to leave it at that and just share all the gifs that perfectly conveyed my brain-exploding-into-a-million-feels emotions. I’m still doing the gifs. But I compromised. So I went along with:

The Many Ways V.E. Schwab Managed To Kill Me Thoroughly With Her Words

EXHIBIT 1

She’d never met a man who loved his job more than Alucard Emery. He relished it the way children relish a game, the way men and women relish acting, throwing themselves into their plays with glee and abandon. There was a measure of theatre to everything Alucard did.

Alucard Emery. Because multilingual pirate captain clearly isn’t enough to describe this beautiful man. The more I read about him, the more swoony he got. Granted, the name did make me giggle a little bit, considering I’m imagining a darker-skinned version of Alucard from Hellsing:

alucard

With the sexy, sexy voice of Fenris (Gideon Emery) from Dragon Age II:

Now imagine Gideon Emery say

“Spend the nights with me, and I’ll help improve your tongue.”

Yes. Yes please.

So yeah. On top of that, he’s actually pretty main. And on top of THAT, he is one hell of a charmer. ONE HELL OF A CHARMER.

EXHIBIT 2

Black London. Okay, so there were a number of POVs in this book on top of Lila, Kell, and Rhy. I won’t disclose who because obviously spoilers, but as with many books I’ve read that have multiple POVs, I tend to glaze over characters I don’t care about. In this case, however, my glazing over only happened near the very end (because effing get to the dancing already!!!!). For the most part, when I got taken out of Red London, Schwab decided to send me to Black and White London for a little observation-fest of what’s been sizzling since Kell and Lila vanquished the Dane twins in White London. Pretty hot shit, apparently.

EXHIBIT 3

“He wasn’t coming to pay your debt. He was coming to see if you’d returned to pay it yourself. I do not know why you two are circling each other like stars. It is not my cosmic dance. But I do know that you come asking after one another, when only a few strides and a handful of stairs divide you.”

Those damn kisses. There wasn’t much of a romance in A Darker Shade of Magic, which, honestly, worked in that novel’s favor. I would probably have been somewhat okay if A Gathering of Shadows followed in that respect, but seriously, I’m so, so, SO GLAD Schwab added a smattering of it in the book. I mean, the way she describes KISSING, for chrissakes, it would have been a damn waste not to add romance in.

Me every single time someone got snogged.

Also, I totally ship both pairings. I totally hoped both pairings would happen to begin with. I am not desperately wishing for all my ships to work out in the end (because what are the chances all my favorite characters will survive?), but if one of these characters get laid, I won’t complain. I mean…Red London’s days are numbered, so might as well take advantage of what time one has, amiright?

EXHIBIT 4

Delilah Effing Bard. I admit she does have her moments, and I applaud her headstrong, adventure-grasping personality. But there were times where she goes off and does something that made me snort and shake my head a bit. Like committing identity fraud. I just…lol I couldn’t. I did squee when she came to her own, though. And her Essen Tasch fight with Kamerov? I absolutely died.

EXHIBIT 5

The Essen Tasch. So. The entire book pretty much revolved around the impending Elemental Games, and the last half pretty much encompassed the Games in its entirety. My image of the games were kind of similar to this:

Corrida Colosseum from One Piece

Mixed in with this:

AND IT WAS GLORIOUS.

I was pretty much squeeing after every battle. SQUEEING.

squeeeee

EXHIBIT 6

“I’m an Antari!” Kell cut in, struggling to keep his voice down. “I’m the adopted son of the Maresh crown, the strongest magician in the Arnesian empire, possibly in the world–”

“Careful, Kell, your ego is showing.”

Rhy and Kell. I absolutely love how the two characters are bonded so closely, not just through the magical seal that Kell did in the previous book. They are brothers through and through, even when they don’t share blood (well…I suppose now they do with the bonding magic and all XD). I absolutely love their interactions with each other. Even when Kell is all frowny faces and Rhy is all crazy faces. Okay. I love Rhy. And um. Rhy.

Rhy leaned over. “Looks like I’m not the one who needs protecting after all. You know…” He sipped his wine. “It would be an interesting match…”

Kell kept his smile fixed. “I will stab you with this pin.”

“You would suffer.”

Come on. That type of banter is my kind of fuel.

EXHIBIT 7

My magnificently beautiful man that is Kell and his magnificent coat. Kell broods a lot. Kell frowns a lot. Kell yells a lot. Kell uses magic a lot. Kell is loyal a lot. Kell fights a lot. Kell suffers a lot.

Hell, Kell just has a lot of flaws, but he means well, that Kell.

I still maintain that he is my favorite character of this series, and this book only further increased my deep love for the black-eyed prince. I also still maintain that he needs a hug, a snog, and a really good lay. And oh, look! There’s one particular female I know may be able to deliver all that. (You think I mean me. I think I mean me. I don’t.)

And his coat? Gods. I love his coat. I am in a love triangle with Kell and his coat. I want his coat on me almost as much as I want his coat off him, if you get my meaning. Hint hint, wink wink, nudge nudge.

5 out of 5 cookies! It may have been the worst idea to read AGOS without knowing when the next book will come out. Because, I mean, fuck those cliffhanger endings! (Though I am relieved that it didn’t end too badly…I mean…it only looks like Red London’s gonna go up in smoke, but I gleaned a wee bit of hope there…kind of.)

All I know is I am looking forward to Lila saving the day, Kell rocking in his coat some more, Rhy getting some much-needed comfort (hem hem), and Alucard taking his triad magic to even higher levels of showmanship and badassery. No pressure, Schwab. Make it happen.


gatheringshadows-kisimyr