Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Top Ten Manga and Comics

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

I love the topic this week, where we can choose any bookish thing that visual. I knew right away that I wanted to take this chance to talk about my favorite manga and comics - because I seldom take any time to talk about them, no matter how much I love them. I will say, this is rather heavy on the manga - but I am just getting started on the comics and have already found some pretty great ones.


Karneval by Touya Mikanagi

Nai--a young man who travels in search of another by the name of Karoku, a lone bracelet his only lead. Gareki--a willful young man who earns his daily bread by thieving and picking pockets. Thrown together at an eerie mansion, where they are entrapped and framed, Nai and Gareki are soon hunted down as criminals by national security forces. As they are driven into a corner, before them appears the most powerful defense agency in the country, "Circus"--!!

Notes: I first got introduced to this series through the anime adaptation and liked it enough that I wanted to continue the story past where the anime ends. So I started in on the manga and I think it might be even better. I love the characters and the slightly steampunk setting.

Dogs: Bullets and Carnage by Shirow Miwa

Haine: the “Stray Dog”: a cipher of a young man with a mysterious metal collar bolted to his neck and a disturbing talent for mayhem. Badou: a hired gun for petty jobs legal and non, whose reckless façade hides a serious intent. Naoto: a preternaturally skilled swordswoman searching for the assassin who cut down her family and mentor. Mihai: a middle-aged former hitman, trying live a quiet life but haunted by the deaths of his lover and protégé. Driven by their ghosts—both dead and alive—and a desire for truth, all are inexorably drawn to the “Underground,” the dark and dangerous sector below the city that holds all the secrets—but secrets that can only be had for a price.

Notes: This is a very violent, 'adult' series that, honestly, if it'd been an anime, I probably would have never looked at it twice. But as it is, the story is interesting, as is the characters and the dystopian-type world it all takes place in.

Arisa by Natsumi Ando

Tsubasa thinks that her pretty and popular twin sister, Arisa, has the perfect life. Everyone at school loves Arisa—unlike the hot-tempered Tsubasa, whose nickname is “the Demon Princess.” But when Arisa attempts suicide, Tsubasa learns that her seemingly perfect sister has been keeping some dark secrets. Now Tsubasa is going undercover at school—disguised as Arisa—in search of the truth. But will Arisa’s secrets shatter Tsubasa’s life, too?

Notes: This is a really fun, twisty mystery story. The best thing about it though is that it's directed towards teenage girls and there is no romantic interest for the main girl. In fact, her most important relationship is with her twin sister.

Cardfight!! Vanguard by Akira Itou

Aichi Sendou is a timid middle school teen. He is so shy that even conversing in class is a bit of a challenge. However, one thing him going through all his struggles - Vanguard. With his ultra-rare Blaster Blade card always by his side, he knew that at least in the gaming world he had a chance to be different.

Unfortunately for Aichi, his favorite card was stolen by a vengeful classmate. Furthermore, the Blaster Blade was later lost in a winner-takes all competition to one of the best players around his community. Now to retrieve his priceless card, Aichi is going to have to break from his mold of shyness and win his property back by finally engaging someone, and in this case a local champ, in an actual Vanguard card-battle! His first battle with Toshiki Kai was an eye-opener. It was part learning experience and part coming-of-age moment. And with that first battle and that unexpected first win Aichi was now on his way towards fully immersing himself in the world of the card game!

Notes: Alright, so I've only read the first volume, but it is exactly the kind of story I love. There's some pretty cool cardfighting going on and lots of 'defeat means friendship' that I love. (Please, please let the anime get an official English release!)

Pandora Hearts by Jun Mochizuki

The air of celebration surrounding fifteen-year-old Oz Vessalius' coming-of-age ceremony quickly turns to horror when he is condemned for a sin about which he knows nothing. 

Thrown into the Abyss - an eternal prison from which there is no escape - Oz meets a young girl named Alice who is not what she seems. Now that the relentless cogs of fate have begun to turn, will they lead only to crushing despair for Oz, or will Alice provide him with some shred of hope?

Notes: Another series I saw the anime for first and then wanted to continue. The plot is amazing, the characters incredibly nuanced and complicated and it's just a very twisted, involved story that's based significantly around a mystery of what happened 100 years ago.

Alice in the Country of Hearts
(Based on the game)

Kidnapped by a handsome man with rabbit ears, Alice Liddell finds herself abandoned in an odd place called Wonderland and thrust into a "game," the rules of which she has yet to learn. Alice, ever the plucky tomboy, sets off to explore and get the lay of this strange land, intent on finding her rude kidnapper and giving him a piece of her mind (and her fist). But little does she know that she's wandered right into the middle of a dangerous power struggle involving just about all of Wonderland's attractive, weapon-happy denizens. And the only way for Alice to return home is to get acquainted with the lot of them?! How in the world will she manage that and still manage to stay alive?!

Notes: So sue me, I actually like this manga series. It's based on an otome game where the whole 'winning the game' is to basically be in a romantic relationship with one of the 'bachlors' at the end of the game. The first part of the story (9 volumes, I think) deal with Alice getting to know the guys and the world. I love this part of the story because I LOVE the character of Alice - I know it's not the guys because, with very few exceptions, I was not impressed with them. Alice, though, is quite possibly my favorite manga girl.

Sadly, there aren't as many here because I've only of late been getting involved with reading comics and there's so many and it takes me ages to decide which ones to read. On the other hand, that means I'm more than willing to take any and all suggestions!

A-Force by G. Willow Wilson

What do you do when a sentient cosmic event rampages through Japan? ASSEMBLE A-FORCE! Marvel's newest hero, SINGULARITY, has escaped Battleworld and found her way to the Marvel Universe! But she didn't make the journey alone. To combat the villainous ANTIMATTER, Singularity will call upon Earth's mightiest team of Avengers. And one thing's for sure: They are A FORCE to be reckoned with!

Notes: This was picked up on a whim because I wanted an all woman superhero team and it very quickly set a very high bar for favorite comic. The story is fairly typical of comics - I'm discovering - and the art is nice, but where this story shines is the characters. All the women are different and unique and don't really work together well, but they've got each others backs no matter what and they are truly so great to read about.

Loki: Agent of Asgard by Al Ewing

Kid Loki's all grown up - and the God of Mischief is stronger, smarter, sexier and just plain sneakier than ever before. As Asgardia's one-man secret service, he's ready to lie, cheat, steal, bluff and snog his way through the twistiest, turniest and most treacherous missions the All-Mother can throw at him...starting with a heart-stopping heist on Avengers Tower! And that's just the beginning, as Loki takes on Lorelei in Monte Carlo's casinos, and heads back to the dawn of Asgard to join its greatest heroes on a quest for a certain magical sword! But when Loki puts together a crew to crack the deepest dungeons of Asgardia itself, there may be one plot twist too many for even Loki to handle!

Notes: I'm pretty sure that I have only seen/read-about one Loki character that I didn't simply adore and this one is not the exception. While I occasionally had to blink in confusion and just let the plot wash over me, I liked all the characters in this story - especially the 'human lie detector'.

Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson

Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City — until she's suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! When Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them, as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to bear? Kamala has no idea, either. But she's comin' for you, Jersey!

Notes: It's always been a pet peeve of mine that superheroes are so generic. I mean, how man POC superheroes from Marvel or DC can you even name? Okay, it is getting better, and it's partially because of this series, I think. While I cannot comment on the cultural accuracy, it is a fun story and Kamala is so relatable.

As usual, I am open to any and all recommendations, and if any of these series sound interesting to you, I'll totally push them at you. ;)

Monday, January 30, 2017

January Wrap-Up

This month has been actually pretty uneventful.

Which, I gotta admit, has been really nice after the crazies of the last two months. And, as a bonus, I got a super lot of reading done. Which is always good!

What I've been reading...

Hexbreaker by Jordan L. Hawk - *****
Pandora Hearts Vol. 8 by Jun Mochizuki - *****
Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling - ****

A Fashionable Indulgence by K.J. Charles - ****
The Pirate Captain's Daughter by Ruby Lionsdrake - ***
The 13th Hex by Jordan L. Hawk - ****

Masque by W.R. Gingell - ***
Pandora Hearts Vol. 9 by Jun Mochizuki - ****
Home & Away by Samantha Wayland - ****

Cardfight!! Vanguard Vol. 1 by Akira Itou - ****
Steamed Up by Assorted Authors - ****
Karneval Vol. 5 by Touya Mikanagi - *****

The Serpent Sea by Martha Wells - *****
Strange Fortune by Josh Lanyon - ****
Pembroke Park by Michelle Martin - *****

A Christmas Hex by Jordan L. Hawk - ****
An Accident of Stars by Foz Meadows - *****

What I've been watching...
Not as much as I've been reading, that's for sure.

I bought and watched (rewatched, with most of the episodes) the original Scooby-Doo Where Are You? series. I finally managed to get season one DC's Legends of Tomorrow finished. I love the show but, I just got kind of stuck towards the end. Anyway, definitely one of my favorites.

I also rewatched Human Target - though it had been so long since I'd seen it (borrowed ages ago from my brother, in fact) that it was almost like watching it brand new. And finally, I watched the movie Space Station 76. It was somewhat entertaining, but I honestly don't even know what it was or what the point of it was. Because, as far as I could tell, there was no story/plot there at all.

So, what have you been reading/watching this month? Did anything exciting happen?

Friday, January 27, 2017

January Book Haul

So, I've got an upcoming discussion post about - well, the buying binge I went on after I'd nearly completely cleaned out my physical TBR. But, anywho, this is my first month of attempting to revitalize my TBR stack. (Because I read most of that huge haul that I got last month last month.)

(And there is a crazy lot of books here!)

The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine
The 13th Hex by Jordan L. Hawk
The Duchess War by Courtney Milan

The Backup Boyfriend by River Jaymes
Steamed Up by Assorted Authors
Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson

The Snow Queen's Shadow by Jim C. Hines
The Siren Depths by Martha Wells
Dreaming Death by J. Kathleen Cheney

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Stalking Darkness by Lynn Flewelling
An Accident of Stars by Foz Meadows

Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani
Pembroke Park by Michelle Martin
Facsimile by Vicki L. Weavil

Scoundrel by Zoe Archer
A-Force: Warzones (Vol 0) by G. Willow Wilson
Clockwork Heart by Heidi Cullinan

The Pyramid Waltz by Barbara Ann Wright
Ella, the Slayer by A.W. Exley
Arabella of Mars by David D. Levine

The Spirit War by Rachel Aaron
Starflight by Melissa Landers
These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas

The Magicians' Guild by Trudi Canavan
King's Blood Four by Sheri S. Tepper
A Christmas Hex by Jordan L. Hawk

Hexmaker by Jordan L. Hawk
The Soldier's Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian

And, that's a wrap.

You know, it's no wonder I've been feeling a little broke this month. :)