Posted in Book Reviews, Graphic Novels, Manga

REVIEW: Monster Tamer Girls Vol. 1 by Mujirushi Shimazaki

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*No Major Spoilers* 

When giant monsters roam the earth, “wildlife care” takes on a whole new meaning. That’s where the Tamers come in–girls trained to soothe the savage beasts. But while co-existence is a way of life, it’s still a little overwhelming for meek Ion Hidaka. Can she handle being one of the newest members of the Tatara Girls’ Academy Tamers Committee?

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I have been reading mangas for the past several years. Most of the ones I’ve read are good, but just like anything else, there are a few outliers. However, Monster Tamer Girls isn’t an outlier in the slightest. So let’s dive into this unique monster story. 

First off, I loved our main characters, Ion Hidaka and Sora Misumaru. Ion has a talent for befriending the monsters she meets, and yet she’s still terrified of them. Her best friend, Sora, isn’t interested in becoming a monster tamer, but she’s there to support her friend every step of the way.

I even loved the background characters. I wanted to learn more about the former members of the Monster Tamer Committee, but hopefully, the author will explore this in future volumes. All in all, there wasn’t a character I didn’t like for one reason or another. 

The monsters are adorable. I know they are supposed to be large and scary like Godzilla and Mothra, but I couldn’t help but fall in love with the monsters in this story. The monsters appear in a more cartoony style. For example, the monster that lives by the school his horns don’t look sharp, his eyes look mean, but throughout the story, he’s just a lethargic monster.

Overall, I enjoyed Monster Tamer Girls. The characters are dynamic, and the monsters are cute and loveable. I would highly recommend this manga for lovers of Kaiju, and the Slice of Life genre. 

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Posted in Book Reviews

ARC REVIEW: Machine (White Space #2) by Elizabeth Bear

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*No Spoilers* 

**Huge thanks to NetGalley and Gallery/Saga Press for letting me review this early copy**

Meet Doctor Jens.

She hasn’t had a decent cup of coffee in fifteen years. Her workday begins when she jumps out of perfectly good space ships and continues with developing treatments for sick alien species she’s never seen before. She loves her life. Even without the coffee.

But Dr. Jens is about to discover an astonishing mystery: two ships, one ancient and one new, locked in a deadly embrace. The crew is suffering from an unknown ailment and the shipmind is trapped in an inadequate body, much of her memory pared away.

Unfortunately, Dr. Jens can’t resist a mystery and she begins doing some digging. She has no idea that she’s about to discover horrifying and life-changing truths.

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I was excited about this book when I received the email about it from NetGalley. One of the issues that can be explored in science fiction is when advanced species encounter ancient ones. What kind of viruses and bacteria can affect both groups of people? This novel wants to examine this issue however, the technological discussions went over my head to the point where I felt intimidated to continue the story. 

If you are not deep into the world of high-tech or futuristic tech then I would say avoid this novel. I think what I read was written well, but the in-depth specs on the technology felt confusing and overwhelming for me. 

For example, I understood that the main character has a disorder that causes her to be in a constant state of pain. With her working in a futuristic and advanced society, her spacesuit helps her do everyday functions and can help her with her chronic pain. How any of that works I don’t understand. I just went with what the author was telling me about the subject. 

I know this novel isn’t meant for a casual sci-fi fan. This is for someone like a die-hard Trekkie or someone who can follow deep and futuristic tech discussions. Overall, I think The Machine is a well-written sci-fi mystery thriller for those who can follow the tech talk. This novel just wasn’t for me.

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Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews

REVIEW: When the Sky Fell on Splendor by Emily Henry

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*No Major Spoilers*

Almost everyone in the small town of Splendor, Ohio, was affected when the local steel mill exploded. If you weren’t a casualty of the accident yourself, chances are a loved one was. That’s the case for seventeen-year-old Franny, who, five years after the explosion, still has to stand by and do nothing as her brother lies in a coma.

In the wake of the tragedy, Franny found solace in a group of friends whose experiences mirrored her own. The group calls themselves The Ordinary, and they spend their free time investigating local ghost stories and legends, filming their exploits for their small following of YouTube fans. It’s silly, it’s fun, and it keeps them from dwelling on the sadness that surrounds them.

Until one evening, when the strange and dangerous thing they film isn’t fiction–it’s a bright light, something massive hurdling toward them from the sky. And when it crashes and the teens go to investigate…everything changes.

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First off, I have to say that when I saw the cover of this novel at the library, I fell in love with this beautiful book cover. When I finished reading When the Sky Fell on Splendor, I can say that the story is just as beautiful as the cover.

“How many billions of things had to happen just right to give me this ordinary life.”

Emily Henry, When the Sky Fell on Splendor

I love how the characters were relatable and had depth. Franny and her brother Arthur grew up living in their older brother’s shadow. After the steel mill explosion and their brother Mark ends up in a coma, Franny’s mom and dad divorce and Franny and Arthur continue to live in the background of their depressed dad’s life.

We don’t get much from the other characters other than what is on the surface that Franny has observed. One of the key facets of their friend group is to not talk about emotional stuff. Even though some of the signs of the parents’ issues have clearly effected their kids in subtle ways.

Franny had grown close to one of the other boys in their group, and during an emotional moment he shared about how his mom’s doomsday prepping quickly spiraled into hoarding after the accident. He even took up a job at the local Walmart just so he could support his ailing mom and how he had become the sole breadwinner after his dad died in the accident.

I personally would’ve loved more insight on Sophia. I think she was left out when it came to emotional weight. She was the smartest one of the group and wasn’t an outcast like the others. She wanted to be a lawyer after a weekend with her grandmother watching Law and Order: SVU. She seemed to have a great relationship with her mom, and doesn’t understand why Franny started keeping her at arm’s length.

I read this book being compared to The Serpent King and Stranger Things as well as Super 8. I personally haven’t read or watched any of these, but they seem to have similar themes to When the Sky Fell on Splendor. So if you are familiar with any of these popular stories, I would recommend this novel for you.

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Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews

REVIEW: Stoker’s Wilde (Fiction Without Frontiers #1) By Steven Hopstaken and Melissa Prusi

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*No Major Spoilers*

Years before either becomes a literary legend, Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde must overcome their disdain for one another to battle the Black Bishop, a mysterious madman wielding supernatural forces to bend the British Empire to his will. With the help of a European vampire expert, a spirited actress and an American businessman, our heroes fight werewolves, vampires and the chains of Victorian morality. The fight will take them through dark forests in Ireland, the upper-class London theater world and Stonehenge, where Bram and Oscar must stop a vampire cult from opening the gates of Hell.

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I have read about the supernatural and paranormal in the past, but Stoker’s Wilde comes with a twist. A story about two historical writers coming together and battle the world of the supernatural. I knew I had to read this as soon as I discovered the sequel to this novel has Teddy Roosevelt joining the duo. So let’s dive into Stoker’s Wilde

First off, I love how Bram Stoker was just a friend of Oscar Wilde’s brother in this story. He didn’t want to go on this wild goose chase to hunt a werewolf. Werewolves don’t exist. However, with the help of Stoker’s curse, they soon find the werewolf was the captain on one of the ships in the harbor. Afterward, the duo set off into the world of the supernatural, willingly or not.

One thing I liked was how the story progressed through journal entries and letters to loved ones and friends. However, I was getting confused because I started getting minor characters mixed up. I’m not sure if I would still be confused if I read the ebook or not. However, this was a small complaint I had as I was listening through the audiobook. 

Stoker’s Wilde was a tale full of twists and turns. I couldn’t put this book down until I found out who was the leader of London’s vampires as well as what a member of royalty had to do in all of this puzzle. The conclusion will leave you breathless and ready for more! 

I would highly recommend Stoker’s Wilde for fans of horror, historical fiction, and alternative history. I can’t wait to dive into the sequel of this novel and reuniting with these lovable characters again.

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Posted in Book Reviews, Non-Fiction

REVIEW: No Encore!: Musicians Reveal Their Weirdest, Wildest, Most Embarrassing Gigs by Drew Fortune

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*Heads Up That There’s Discussions of Drug Use*

This hilarious, sometimes horrifying, collection spans four decades and chronicles the craziest, druggiest, and most embarrassing concert moments in music history—direct from the artists who survived them.

From wardrobe malfunctions to equipment failures, from bad decisions to even worse choices, this is a riveting look into what happens when things go wrong onstage and off.

No Encore! is an unflinchingly honest account of the shows that tested the dedication to a dream—from Alice Cooper’s python having a violent, gastric malfunction on stage to Lou Barlow’s disastrous attempt to sober up at Glastonbury, from Shirley Manson’s desperate search for a bathroom to the extraordinary effort made to awaken Al Jourgenson as Ministry was taking the stage. As Hunter S. Thompson famously wrote, “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

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I think music holds a special place in everyone’s life, no matter whether you listen to whatever is on the radio or if you are an aspiring musician yourself. Sometimes we fall in love with a singer or a band and can forget that they are people too. I know I have talked a couple of times about my favorite band Rascal Flatts and I have had to remind myself that even these people you look up to make mistakes too. They may be big mistakes or small mistakes, but at the end of the day, they’re human as well.

I found No Encore! to be an entertaining read. I am not familiar with the world of rock n roll as I think the target audience is. There’s only a small handful of names I recognized.

Even knowing that, I think No Encore! is a must-read for any music fan. There’s plenty of stories that will make you bust out laughing. If your local library also has this book, then you can just read the tales you want and still get a good feel for the collection as a whole. 

I would highly recommend this collection for music lovers and fans of any of the musicians or bands in this anthology. These stories are worth the read and are a love-letter to the fans.

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