Glitter by Aprilynne Pike

It’s hard to pinpoint what went wrong here – perhaps what we have is a melange of ‘current’ YA ideas that never really come together or make sense. There are interesting ideas but the writing and plot, characters and story are so shallow that they completely destroy any semblance of credibility. It feels like a very forced story built around a soppy romance. Once again, we have YA that panders and forces you to turn off your brain in order to have any chance of enjoyment.


Story: In a future filled with massive starvation, a corporation invents a food that can be easily grown and survive. Taking advantage of a desperate France, they ‘buy’ Versailles but are required by contract to maintain its history. As a result, the corporate CEOs and shareholders opted to reenact the Sun Court of Louis 16th – complete with dressing and living in the era. Danica’s manipulative mother finds a way to get Danica affianced to the current heir – a vicious and murderous young man she detests. To escape, she uses her drug-addicted father to create a scheme to put the a dermal drug into makeup and addict all her ‘friends’ in order to earn enough money to escape the marriage.

Right off the top, we are going to have a heroine doing selfish and despicable things. It’s a fine line to cross – either make her obsessed and an anti-heroine that we still like anyway or make her a victim of circumstance. Neither really happens here, unfortunately, and the bad she does is explained away by obliviousness and personal need. I would have liked to see her just commit to the evil acts and not care rather than the blithering back and forth.

The romance is so cringeworthy and derails the story quickly. Yes, her drug-dealer pusher is the love interest, despite showing no personality through the first half of the book other than constant disgust at her. But hey, her heart beats fast every time he’s around because he’s so hunky, even if he did get involved in drugging her father and causing him to become fully addicted. Then, of course, they are thrown together by the middle of the book and the whole thing really falls apart. Love interest Saber (yes, you read that right) is so poorly drawn as to be an ideal more than a character.

The plot itself is a joke. Drug dealing and distribution just doesn’t work this easily and I wasn’t impressed. To say that this is swimming in shallow waters is an understatement; the book needed more of an edge and certainly a lot more consequences of Danica’s actions than were given. Author Pike really skated around the reality of that situation for a fluffy book that is more romance than it is ‘desperate woman deals drugs’.

By half way, the romance was so egregiously bad that it was hard not to roll my eyes constantly. A non-ending certainly didn’t redeem the book. And someone tell me what the obsession is with corsets? Reviewed from an ARC provided by the publisher.

Posted in Book Reviews, dystopian, YA | 1 Comment

World’s Greatest First Love Volume 5 by Shungiku Nakamura

Volume 5 continues two different stories: the main of Ritsu and his conflicting relationship with boss and former love Takano / Shota and younger Yukina. The typical conflicts are here – old flames, insecurities, inability to accept the relationship.


Shota Kisa is having a hard time after seeing Yukina leave with a girl toward the hotel district. Has Yukina tired of his older guy already? Fortunately for Shota, Yukina isn’t giving up on him that easily. Meanwhile, living next door to Takano can be very frustrating for Ritsu. The neighbors are starting to become curious about the two young handsome guys – and Takano is only too eager to give the wrong idea. When Takano becomes sick, Shota is forced to come to his aid. But once again, former fiance an Chan plays a major obstacle, as does Takano’s coworker who still hasn’t happy with Ritsu.

Both stories get some nice romantic moments here and each gives in and lets the relationship happen. Of course, new problems spring up but at least we get the nice moments in between. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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Impyrium by Henry H. Neff

Some books don’t resonate with a reader and unfortunately this one never really caught my interest. The writing is strong and there is good worldbuilding. But I also felt that I had read this story before; an amalgamation of dystopian and fantasy middle grade books that failed to engage. So I write this review with my thoughts but also the caveat that I am likely one of a very few who did not enjoy the book. Likely, that opinion has something to do with not having read the other books in this universe (though I am told that you don’t need to in order to understand Impyrium).


Story: Hazel is the youngest princess in the imperial Faeregrine family. An albino and outcast, she may just be the most powerful magic user in generations. Hob is a commoner who is about to find out that there was a lot more to his father than he was ever told. Royal and rebel both have reasons to distrust and hate the Faeregrines. When their paths meet, a dynasty may fall.

The story is told from two viewpoints: inside the imperial palace with Hazel and traveling/learning to be a rebel with Hob. The premise is a post apocalyptic world where technology has been carefully suppressed and doled out sparingly by the Faeregrines. They also control the magic relics that keep them in power. In this post apocalyptic world, we get cities such as Vancouver that have been completely destroyed/buried and then explored for artifacts.

For me, the characters felt a bit flat despite the very interesting world building. Hazel and Hob felt like every other middle grade hero/heroine – eager young puppy and privileged princess who each have to learn a new way of life with lives depending on them. Of course, they will have to deal with different situations (Hazel with the politics and Hob with the physical dangers) and triumph or very bad things happen.

The worldbuilding is solid but there were several cliches in there. E.g., learning about the world through sitting through Hazel or Hob’s school lessons (who wants to sit through someone else’s lesson?) . As well, we have the bog standard overheard secret, special snowflake, father with a mysterious past, and mysterious stranger who inducts our hero. Let’s not get into the special friends who help and are put in danger for it. The book is very earnest – perhaps a bit too much for my taste. It can get dense in there.

As noted earlier, I am likely very atypical in being underwhelmed. In no way are there any major flaws and the writing is well done. I just didn’t get into it as I hoped I would. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

Posted in ARC, Book Reviews, dysotpian, dystopian, Fantasy, middle grade, teen | Leave a comment

Kuroko’s Basketball 2 in 1, Volume 2

Volumes 3 and 4 cover two epic games for Seirin: advanced teams from Seiho and Shutako schools. Both teams have an edge and are considered the North and South Kings. In order to win, Seirin will have to pull out a full surprises of their own – and rely on more than Kurko’s speed in the process. At the same time, they have to find the stamina to survive two very tough matches.

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Kuroko’s Basketball continues to be an enjoyable sports themed manga. The characters are exuberant and livery without ever really taking themselves too seriously. Fujimaki knows how to draw out the anticipation and enjoys throwing in the shounen staple of ‘power ups’ for the characters.

This volume introduces some good adversaries for our crew (including one who can actually ‘see’ Kuroko wherever he is!). One thing is for sure, the games will be very close.

Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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Haikyuu 4 byHaruichi Furudate

With Haikyuu 4, the Karasuno ‘crows’ get a chance to play several games against rival Nekoma (the ‘cats’). The games are practice only but underscore several goals that the team will need to fix in order to become better. Most especially, that the Cats have no star players yet play consistently and solidly – and can analyze their opponents better. What starts as a winning game for the Crows soon turns against them as the Cats figure out Kageyama’s freaky setting and Hinata’s speed. It’s a good reminder that a solid team can still beat our Karasuno’s prodigies.


In all, a nice volume that shows off the strength of the team but also its weaknesses. There are cute moments throughout as friendly rivals throw taunts or try to get to know Kiyomi the manager better. But the stars are always going to be Hinata and Kageyama. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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The Battles of Bridget Lee: Invasion of Farfall by Ethan Young

The Battles of Bridget Lee ended up feeling very recycled – not much is new here as we have (at least) a very strong sci fi heroine with a tragic past in a post apocalyptic world. The entire volume is about a battle for a survivor outpost and admittedly cookie-cutter warrior aliens speaking English didn’t do much to set any new grounds. As such, this is a decent time waster but not something you’re going to remember well after a day has passed.


Combat medic Bridget Lee lives in a world invaded by aliens who enslave humans. Her enclave has survived hoping not to be found but the invaders finally locate them and begin to attack. She’s nursing emotional scars from not being able to save her husband and almost dying after freezing up when faced with his possible killer. Years later, she now has orphan kids to protect as the aliens look to capture more girls and enslave them.

First and foremost, the aliens are bad in a b-movie way. Unintentionally, unfortunately. They spout lines about humans being weak, humans will die, or if one is feisty, they will cackle that they will enslave that person instead of killing them. It got really bad and a line at the end by one dying alien “war makes monsters of us all” made me cringe. Why do aliens sound like bad B-movie villi ans?

The story is straightforward and there isn’t much mystery here other than why the aliens want the children (though they say it is for slaves). Of course, since this is a patriarchal human society where women aren’t valued as warriors or allowed to go to war (really?!?) I’m still not sure why Bridget Lee is a ‘combat’ medic. Of course, all her officers note that she’s the best combatant in the field. Too bad she’s a girl. But you’d think they’d shut her down fast if girls aren’t allowed to fight. Too much just doesn’t make sense about the set up (not the least of which is why women wouldn’t be allowed to fight when the human race is dying out).

We have a lot of tropes here – plucky kids save the day, dead spouse haunting the hero, soldiers dying gloriously in sacrifice of the enclave, eeevilll aliens…. I got bored of it quite fast and it was hard not to roll my eyes as the cliches piled in. The whole story needed a spark of originality to make me really care about Bridget.

In a cast whose names are as original as…. Waters, Lee, Hudson, it was weird to have our main character going on and on about the Mulan myth (yes, she’s probably of Chinese origin, we get it). I guess Bridget is going to have to assume the Mulan mantle if she wants to fight but I’m not sure I really want to go there if this is the level of originality displayed here. There’s nothing terrible about this first volume but there’s nothing to really recommend it, either. Perhaps something for middle grade kids? Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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The Demon Prince of Momochi House 6 by Aya Shouoto

The outstanding artwork and nuanced storytelling continue to impress in this 6th volume of The Demon Prince of Momochi House. Several stories interweave nicely – a mini arc mystery, more on Aoi’s background, and of course the ever-intriguing Kasha. Each book is such a feast for the eyes and the romantic aspects are beautifully underplayed. This is definitely one of the best manga of its genre out there right now.


Story: Himari’s new teacher is very interested in the occult – and bears a striking resemblance to Aoi. When he brings a strange mirror that is rumored to show someone’s true heart, Himari begins to have strange hallucinations. Worse, it’s at a time when she is still reeling from Aoi’s rejection. When Kasha appears suggesting Aoi is no longer human, and a mischievous cat yokai nekomata appears asking why the Nue is not doing a better job of keeping the yokai contained, Himari has her hands full!

This volume added a great new character – a large cat nekomata with quite a personality. Although she will not be staying, she added quite a bit of fun to the happenings at Momochi house. Of course the mystery of a new teacher asking pointed questions about a missing boy purportedly stolen by a ghost only added to the intrigue.

The art is consistently beautiful and layouts stunning. Shouoto is clearly in top form as a mangaka as she weaves a complex story with such beautiful graphics. We’re left with another cliff hanger – I can’t wait to see where the story goes from here. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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