Friday, March 22, 2019

Weres Wanna Know: Do You Read Serials?

Is it just me or is serialized content becoming a popular thing again? It might just be me and the corner of the book community I see and interact with. Or is it a result of the success that a lot of authors are having doing serials as part of their Patreon pages?

Recently, M.L. Rhodes, one of the authors I've gotten into decided to release her next book in a serial format on her blog. And I'm not sure how I feel about it. I'm not new to serialized media. I've been an active reader of fanfiction and manga since I was a teen. Nothing teaches you patience as much as waiting for the next chapter of your fave fanfic does. Plus, I read all of Ilona Andrew's Innkeeper as it was published to their blog. So what is different about this time?

I have to give it to Rhodes. She posts two chapters a week and she has been consistently on time from the start. And while I've more or less kept up with each update and I'm loving the story, I'm just not feeling it. I think the main reason why is because I hate having to wait to see what happens next and I don't remember feeling it quite this bad with most of the fanfic and manga I've read before.

But she's not the only author who has starting to release content via serials. Both Ann Aguirre and Susan Dennard have started writing serials. Ann's is available to her newsletter subscribers and Susan's is on Wattpad. Other authors like Becky Chambers and Max Gladstone are starting to write serials commercially for different serial websites. Plus, there is a ton of authors who are offering serialized content as part of their Patreon perks.

Thanks to this new trend, I've recently found myself with five different apps to read serialized works and I'm kind of conflicted about it. Why am I conflicted about it though? For the most part, I enjoy reading shorter works so I'm not sure if it's wait between new installments or if it's something else bothering me all together.

I don't think it's necessarily the wait because I really enjoy the webcomic/manga serializations I'm reading on Tapas and Webtoon. I've found that waiting for that kind of new content doesn't kill me as much as waiting for the next chapter in a story that will be made into a book at a later date. Part of that, I think, is because that's the way I've always consumed that sort of content. Thanks, Shonen Jump. But the stories. The stories drive me crazy waiting for the next installment.

I recently got a Serial Box account specifically so I can read The Vela because it is partially being written by Becky Chambers. I paid for the whole "season" instead of paying to read each chapter. The story is great so far and I'd highly recommend it but it's slowly killing me that I won't know how it ends for another eight weeks at least. That's a long time.

If I knew I could wait, I'd probably just buy the final books of each of these stories so I can read them all in one go. But I'm not sure the actual wait is the problem. I think it's more of a curiosity killed the cat problem and maybe it's as simple as the fact that I might not be that kind of reader anymore. Very rarely does it take me more than two or three sittings to read a book. As Gretl told me the other day, if it takes me more than two it's because I've had five days on no reading.

At this point, I don't think waiting for these stories to be finished will help. I'm already too invested and too eager to see where they will go. I could probably blame Netflix for this lack of patience due to them spoiling us by giving us whole seasons at once but I've had this problem long before Netflix was a thing. I always just want to know what happens next. Maybe this is just a me a thing. 

How about you? Do you read serials? Do you like them? Hate them? 
Have any serial recommendations for me to read?

We’re participating in the 2019 Discussion Challenge hosted by It Starts at Midnight and Feed Your Fiction Addiction. Check out all the March Discussions!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Manga Reviews: Hanger, Vols. 1 and 2

Hanger, Vol. 1
(Hanger: Shikkounin #1)
Hirotaka Kisaragi
Release: July 17, 2018
Goodreads Amazon
In a futuristic Neo-Tokyo, crime is rising rapidly in the wake of a new generation of super-drugs capable of enhancing the user's physical and mental abilities. Hajime Tsukomo is a new recruit on a federal task force trained to go after these powered-up criminals. Now he must team up with Zeroichi, a so-called Hanger looking to reduce his own jail sentence in exchange for helping to take down these chemically-boosted bad guys. This is volume 1 of the series.

Last summer I went looking for more science fiction manga to read and had a hard time finding ones I was interested in. About a week into my search, I saw this volume up on Netgalley and decided to give it a try. I really enjoyed it! Like, I enjoyed it enough to request an ARC of the second volume as soon as it went up.

First up, lets talk about the illustrations. I loved the art style that the mangaka used! It's kind of that classic BL anime style but I really appreciated it. Nobody's hands were too big for their bodies and it didn't look too cartoonish. And I liked how none of the potential love interests looked like they were twelve. As much as I love BL/yaoi manga, that trend still kind of creeps me out.

I loved the world and the worldbuilding. The idea of a society that throws itself into finding a way to circumvent disease was a thrilling one and I'm always a sucker for a story that uses nanotech. I loved how the author took that miracle cure and gave it a dark side. I was fascinated by how the nano machines were used as an upper to make super powered criminals called Hangers. And the powers each person received were unique and varied. As were the consequences of gaining those powers. I think that was my favorite part of reading this manga; finding out what each Hanger's power was and the addiction that came with gaining it.

I really enjoyed the characters but I will admit that they weren't as fleshed out as I would have liked. But this is the first volume in a series so I'm interested to see and learn more about all of the characters as it continues. As of right now, the characters I really want to know more about are Hibiki and Hashima.

One thing that bothered me and took away from my enjoyment of this volume was how the author kept explaining what a Hanger was. I understand that when things are being serialized some things need to be reiterated in the next chapter but this was beat to death and was sometimes mentioned multiple times in a chapter.

Overall, I really liked it and I'm excited to carry on with the series. I can't wait to see where the author takes the story!

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

  3.5 / 5 Stars

Hanger Manga, Vol. 2
(Hanger: Shikkounin #2)
Hirotaka Kisaragi
Release: September 4, 2018
Goodreads Amazon
In a futuristic Neo-Tokyo, crime is rising rapidly in the wake of a new generation of super-drugs capable of enhancing the user's physical and mental abilities. Hajime Tsukomo is a new recruit on a federal task force trained to go after these powered-up criminals. Now he must team up with Zeroichi, a so-called Hanger looking to reduce his own jail sentence in exchange for helping to take down these chemically-boosted bad guys. This is volume 2 of the series.

Wow! Okay. I knew I was going to enjoy this going into it but I didn't expect to end up loving it as much as I did. While I enjoyed the first volume in this series, I'm happy to say that this one was so much better. It took me a bit to figure out why but when I did everything made sense.

The difference between these first two volumes basically boils down to the fact that almost everything I had issues with in the first volume were nonexistent in this one. The repeated beating of the definition of Hanger was gone and things got definitely more fast-paced! I've decided that the first book was kind of sacrificed to introduce the world because, in comparison to this volume, nothing really happened.

Don't get me wrong. That setup is what made this one so much more enjoyable. It feels like the mangaka really got their feet underneath them and this beauty was the result. The plotting was significantly tighter and we got to see the relationship between Zeroichi and Hajime move forward. And thank god! Hajime learned to stick up for himself. But what I think made that all possible was the introduction of a main villain and his scheming. It seriously made all of the difference even though it was a bit creepy how dedicated and brainwashed his followers were.

I'm still loving the interactions between all of the main characters and I'm really intrigued by the ones that were introduced in this volume. I really want to see more of Yuki and Gaido. If I had one complaint, it would be that there wasn't as much Hashima and Hibiki in this volume but I really love how their relationship has progressed.
I just really need volume three to come out soon and be in my hands. I need to know what happens next and because that was a mean place for the mangaka to end that volume. I'll definitely be getting the next volume as soon as it's out. Hopefully I'll be able to get an ARC of it.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

  4.5 / 5 Stars

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

We Love Lists: More Kindle Unlimited Book Recs

There's been some controversy surrounding Kindle Unlimited authors recently. (I might address that more in another post.) I've been trying to make sure I'm not reading any of the authors that are problematic, but I can see how it might turn people off from KU. So I thought this might be a good time to talk about some more of the good stuff I've found.

If you missed my first list of KU book recs, check it out here.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
Rose Red says this is tied for her all-time favorite sci-fi novel. Read her full five star review here.
Note: only the first book of the trilogy is KU.

The Messenger series by Pippa DaCosta
Do I really need to say anything other than Fae in space? It’s also a slow burn reverse harem with some major surprise endings. I recommend a binge read. The first 4 books are actually leaving KU in May but if you have them checked out by then, you can keep them as long as you want. The series finale releases in June.

Boundary Crossed (Boundary Magic Book 1) by [Olson, Melissa F.]
The Boundary Magic series by Melissa F. Olson
I recently finished Melissa F. Olson's Nightshades series which is not in KU, but pretty much her entire backlist is. I started with the Boundary Magic series because it was only three books. There’s a fourth one that came out recently which I’m hoping to read soon. The series is set in the same world as her Scarlet Bernard series, which I also hope to start soon. I've actually had the first two books on my Kindle for a few years now.

The Nora Jacobs series by Jackie May
I didn't include this series in my first list of KU recs because I didn't love book 1. But I really enjoyed books 2 and 3 and I like where the series seems to be going. Read my reviews of Don't Rush Me and Don't Cheat Me. There’s also a spin off book set in the same world.

The Paper Magician series by Charlie N. Holmberg
I’ve read, and really enjoyed, the first two books of the original Paper Magician trilogy. It hits some of the same notes as Gail Carriger for me. She’s written a spin-off set in the same world as well. Holmberg writes some unique and interesting magic systems. All of her books are included in KU, but if you don’t subscribe they often pop up in the Kindle Monthly Deals too.

What gems have you discovered in Kindle Unlimited?

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Review: The Rising by Morgan Brice

The Rising
(Badlands #2)
Morgan Brice
Release: February 13, 2019
Goodreads Amazon
A big storm is brewing, there’s a killer on the loose, and the ghosts of Myrtle Beach are restless. Psychic medium Simon Kincaide and his sexy cop boyfriend, homicide detective Vic D’Amato have their hands full helping the Grand Strand brace for rough surf, driving rain, and high winds as a winter storm roars toward shore.

Everyone’s on edge, and rumors are rampant about sightings of Blackcoat Benny, a ghostly omen of danger, and worse, the Gallows Nine, the spirits of nine infamous criminals hanged back in the 1700s, a harbinger of disaster. Rough tides wash the wreck of an old pirate ship into shallow waters, high winds threaten to damage an old mansion with a dark past, and the citizens of the beach town hunker down to ride out the storm.

As the skies grow dark and the sea turns wild, several men from prominent local families end up dead under suspicious circumstances. Simon’s premonition confirms Vic’s gut feeling—the killing is just getting started. As Simon tries to reach out to the spirits of the murdered men to help the investigation, he’s attacked by malicious ghosts that don’t want anyone getting in the way of their long-overdue vengeance.

With the storm hammering the coast, and new victims piling up, Simon is certain that the sins and secrets of the past are coming due, and that the murders have a supernatural link. Vic and Simon race to stop the murders against an unholy deadline, but as they battle rising tides and risen ghosts, can they save the intended victims without getting trapped themselves?

The Rising is the second novel in the Badlands series. It is a MM romance intended for readers 18 years of age and older.

In case you missed it, I've kind of become obsessed with Morgan Brice's books this year. It all started when I read her book, Badlands, and I ended up picking up everything she's written. I've already reread Badlands a couple of times and I've been pushing it on all of my friends. All while I've been not so patiently waiting for the sequel. And that sequel was everything I wanted and more! I loved The Rising so much!

Reading this book made me realize three things:

1. I need a lot more queer paranormal romance/urban fantasy books in my life.
2. I need more books/series that revolve around established couples because Simon and Vic are everything.
3. Morgan Brice has officially made my auto-buy author list.

Ghost pirates! Boo hags! Hoo doo! Colonial manors! Unexplainable suicides that might actually be murders! It seems like a weird and quirky mix to find in a story that should never work together but it does! It does so well! This book is so cleverly written with captivating characters. I found myself fully immersed in the story from page one and read it in one sitting. And just like the first book, I loved Simon and Vic and their relationship but the mystery was the show stealer again. It was twisty and bloody intriguing and the guesses I kept making about how things were going to go down were nowhere near correct. It was just SO good!

As I said before, I loved that while there was romance in this book we get to stick with Simon and Vic as an established a fully committed couple. I loved watching them explore and deepen their relationship and figure out how to compromise with each other. I really do need more books where the romance between established couples are explored.

And can we talk about how great all of the secondary characters are? I love Simon's bestie and Vic's partner and the dynamic they have with the main characters. But I love, love, love the fact that Simon's colleagues/mentors in all things paranormal are two older women who are the local experts in their fields of magic. I loved the mix of Simon's visions, the hoo doo, and the bruja awesomeness! It makes for a unique take on the paranormal that was refreshing to read. I also love how the paranormal creatures aren't the mainstream werewolves and vampires that I love in other series. I'm not sure if I had ever heard of a boo hag before this series. Which is saying something with how much urban fantasy and paranormal romance books I read.

I could seriously gush continuously about how good this book and this series is but I'm going to contain it to that. I loved it so much! And I can see myself rereading them over and over again in the future. Alas, I’m back to waiting for the next book. Hopefully it comes soon!  

Note: I think you need to read the short story, Restless Nights, and the novella, Lucky Town, before you pick up this book.

  5 / 5 Stars

My reviews of other books in this series:

Badlands by Morgan Brice

Book 8: Murder Mill- Romantic Thriller

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Short Manga Reviews: Kakuriyo, Vols. 1 and 2

Kakuriyo: Bed and Breakfast for Spirits, Vol. 1
(Kakuriyo #1)
Midori Yuma and Wako Ioka
Release: January 1, 2019
Goodreads Amazon
Faced with the choice of being married to a strange spirit or being made into dinner, Aoi decides to create a third option for herself!

Aoi Tsubaki inherited her grandfather’s ability to see spirits—and his massive debt to them! Now she’s been kidnapped and taken to Kakuriyo, the spirit world, to make good on his bill. Her options: marry the head of the inn her grandfather trashed, or get eaten by ayakashi. But Aoi isn’t the type to let spirits push her around, and she’s determined to redeem her grandfather’s IOU on her own terms!

Aoi wants to work off her debt to the Tenjin-ya inn, but she only has one day to find a position and none of the managers are willing to hire a human! If she can just get someone to see past her family background, Aoi is certain she can prove her worth!

My main reason for picking this manga up is solely because I adored the anime adaptation that was made. I'm happy to say that I loved the artwork! The anime did an excellent job of staying true to the manga character designs. I love the story premise of this series and the story is just wonderful!
This first volume sets the scene for the rest of the series where the main character, Aoi Tsubaki, is mourning the death of her grandfather. Aoi isn't a normal human. She inherited her grandfather's ability to see spirits and he has prepared her to deal with them so she doesn't get eaten. Little does she know that her grandfather promised her to the ogre, Ōdanna, in marriage to cancel out a massive debt he had.

I love Aoi so much and her determination to work off her grandfather's debt instead of marrying the ogre. I also loved the variety of characters we've been introduced to so far. I'm intrigued by Ōdanna and I hope we'll get more information about him in the manga. I also love Ginji so much! 

So far the anime followed the manga pretty faithfully so there wasn't anything new that I didn't already know. But I loved it so much despite knowing what would happen. I can tell already that I'm going to love this series a ton. It gives me a ton of Kamisama Kiss vibes and I'm all for that. I look forward to reading more volumes in this series.

  5 / 5 Stars

Kakuriyo: Bed and Breakfast for Spirits, Vol. 2
(Kakuriyo #2)
Midori Yuma and Wako Ioka
Release: March 5, 2019
Faced with the choice of being married to a strange spirit or being made into dinner, Aoi decides to create a third option for herself!

Aoi Tsubaki inherited her grandfather’s ability to see spirits—and his massive debt to them! Now she’s been kidnapped and taken to Kakuriyo, the spirit world, to make good on his bill. Her options: marry the head of the inn her grandfather trashed, or get eaten by ayakashi. But Aoi isn’t the type to let spirits push her around, and she’s determined to redeem her grandfather’s IOU on her own terms!

Aoi’s having no luck finding a job at the Tejin-ya inn, but a chance encounter with the tengu Matsuba might give her another option! Her home cooking and kind manner impress the crow demon, and when he finds out why she’s in Kakuriyo, he offers to welcome her into his family as a daughter-in-law to pay off her debt! Can the still unemployed Aoi afford to turn down such a generous offer?

I was hoping that the second volume of this manga series would keep the momentum going and I can say that it does! This series is just so charming!

We're deep into Aoi's job hunt and she's getting a bit discouraged. I loved the fact that cooking is her stress relief. But what I loved the most about this book is the aftermath of the drunken tengu shenanigans of Lord Matsuba. He is such a lush but I loved him.

I loved that we got to see the world of Kakuriyo outside of the inn and see more of the city. It's a dangerous place for a human and we can see that through the art. Volume one is the set up book that introduces us to the world and sets up the premise for the whole series. Whereas this volume, we start to get into the meat of the story and the plotting is tighter. It made for an entrancing reading experience. I sat down and read this in one sitting and I was so entranced that it was over before I knew it. I can't give a bigger compliment to a manga than that.

We're starting to learn more about the characters as well as being introduced to new ones. What I loved is that we're starting to see that the ayakashi that Ōdanna surrounds himself with that have greater connections to him other than the boss-employee relationship. We're starting to see that there's more to Ōdanna than what we were originally led to believe. And I'm here for it!

I will say that reading this manga makes me so hungry and I want all the Japanese food. Why don't I live in an area with a good Japanese restaurant?

Even though I knew what was going to happen thanks to the anime, knowing hasn’t taken away from my enjoyment of the manga. I really loved it and I can safely say that I'm in for as long as this manga runs. I need more Aoi, Ōdanna, and Ginji in my life. 

P.S. I don't usually comment on them but the extra mini story in this volume was so freaking adorable!

ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss.

  5 / 5 Stars

Recommended for fans of: Kamisama Kiss

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

We Love Lists: The Unread Books That Have Been on My Bookshelves the Longest

I recently went through all of my books and did a massive culling. No. I haven't been watching Marie Kondo. I just like to go through my books every few months because I have only so much room to put books where I'm currently living. I also like to see if there are any books I'm not interested in anymore due to one reason or another. As I was going through my books this last time, I realized that I've had some of these unread books for a very long time. So I'm kind of hoping shaming myself in this post will be the motivation I need to finally get some of these read.

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
Guys. I've owned this book since I graduated high school. Back in 2005. And I still haven't read it. I know I'll love it if it's anything like the animated movie I watched while I was younger. I'm really sorry, Auntie, for not having this read yet.

Bitterblue by Krisin Cashore
I bought this on release day because I loved the first two companion novels in this trilogy. That was back in 2012. Have I ever mentioned exactly how terrible I am about finishing series?

Grave Phantoms by Jenn Bennett
I know! I am ashamed that I haven't read this yet. I just wasn't ready for the series to be over. It can never end if I never read the last book, right? This one will probably happen sooner rather than later because I really do need Astrid and Bo's story in my life.
Heart's Blood by Juliet Marillier
I've owned this book for so long that I don't even remember what it's about. All I can recall is that it's a Beauty and the Beast retelling.

The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic
I picked this up solely based on the fact that it's a recommended book for those who loved The Raven Boys. I bought it back in 2016 to help get over the whole The Raven Cycle left in my soul but I never got around to reading it.

Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede
Wrede was one of my favorite authors growing up and I made it my goal to get a copy of everyone of her books and read them. It took me a bit to get my hands on this book but I was able to snag one when they reissued it with new cover. That was back in 2009. I am ashamed.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
I feel like everybody and their dog has read this book and I still haven't. I picked it up because so many of my friends loved it and we can see how far I got with that.

What books have been on your shelves the longest?

Friday, March 1, 2019

Month in Review: February 2019

Is it just me or did the end of February totally sneak up on us? I was going along at the beginning of the month like, "Oh, it's the first of the month. I've got plenty of time to get all these things done." and then all of a sudden, "What do you mean it's the last week of the month?!" and it's a mad dash to get everything finished. Stupid 28 day month!

But we did manage to get some books read. Here's what the Weres were up to in February:


Rose Red


New Releases

Backlist/Kindle Unlimited

Rose Red

Backlist Books

New Releases

Kindle Unlimited

Bloom by Kevin Panetta and Susanna Ganucheau
Behind the Throne by K.B. Wagers
Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik
Dukes are Forever by Bec McMaster

We Love Lists
How do you find your fated mate?
The Fantasy Books Rose Red Thinks You Need to Read

Weres Wanna Know
Do you Book Club?

Our Most Anticipated March Releases:

March 5

March 6

March 12

March 19

March 26

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