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review 2017-05-15 14:18
Precursor (The Suoja Guild #1) by A.J. Anders
Precursor (Suoja Guild) (Volume 1) - AJ Anders

Evie lives in a compound with several other people and her father. She has to endure monthly beatings that her father ordered because she doesn't agree with the training methods being used, all the while hiding it from her best friend, Max, who also has his share of secrets she must hide.

As Evie tries to manage her life things get more complicated as she meets Max's friends, and as her father plots behind her back. With some new threats coming out of hiding things get out of hand for Evie, and something awful happens.

This book ends on a major cliffhanger in my opinion! It was beyond frustrating because I didn't have the next book.

But, besides that, I thought the book was actually very good, if a little too short. I enjoyed Evie, and how she handled everything. And I liked the side characters as well. Even though I wish things had been elaborated a bit more between even and her friends, and I was a little bit annoyed with the whole "human forbidden" thing that doesn't make much sense to me.

However, I really thought the book was enjoyable, and I liked! Now, I can't wait to read the next book!

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review 2017-02-14 02:04
Saved Elemental by Tamara White
Saved Elemental (Evelyn Storm Series Book 2) - Tamara White,Tamara White,Michelle L. Hoffman

In the second book in the series, Evie is kidnapped, and her boys are doing everything they can to find her. But, as secrets come to light, an Evie learns some things she can do it gets a lot more complicated. 

 

I don't want to say much more because it will give things away, so I ended up liking this book, but not loving it. I felt like it was very short, which that isn't really a problem, but to me it gave little information and had the reading asking a lot of questions that are going unanswered for now. And to top it all off it almost ends exactly like the first one, which was a little bit annoying. 

 

Other than that though I'm looking forward to more, and finding out more about Evie's power, and how she's going to handle everything. 

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review 2014-08-23 06:37
The Devil Within (vol. 2) by Ryo Takagi, translated by Christine Schilling
The Devil Within, Volume 2 - Ryo Takagi

Takagi really does manage to finish this whole series in only a couple volumes. Mostly by allowing Rion's deep hatred of men to just sort of magically disappear. Or at least turn into tolerance.

In this final volume, Tenshi figures out that Rion is the key to getting back his original form, but he doesn't know what to do in order to make it permanent. When he learns that Rion is a devil and has a direct connection to his past, he starts to wonder if Rion is actually responsible for his condition. Meanwhile, Rion learns that, if she doesn't have sex with one of her three fiances (apparently marriage isn't necessarily a requirement anymore?) before her 16th birthday, she'll be taken over by her demon blood. To her horror, her demon blood causes her to pump out pheromones that attract all kinds of guys.

The guys also risk being taken over by their angel blood on their 16th birthdays. Fuya (whose name is for some reason only spelled with one “u” now, rather than the two used in volume 1) pumps out pheromones so strong that he attracts both sexes and has to worry about being gang raped. Somi cuts himself in order to try to keep his angel self from coming out, because his angel is a killer. Koki's angel self is a womanizer and spends money like crazy, which is why he's always broke and hungry. All the guys have excellent reasons to want to sleep with Rion and suppress their powers, but Rion only wants Tenshi.

Rion's shota-con tendencies were toned down a lot in this volume, which I appreciated. I raised an eyebrow at her repeated declarations of love for Tenshi, since I suspected she only really loved his child body, but at least she wasn't taking time out to gaze longingly at kindergartners near her school. The attempts at romance in this volume were still pretty gross, though.

For a moment, I actually kind of liked the idea of Tenshi and Rion becoming a couple. Maybe her memories of Tenshi from when they were children would be enough to overcome her hatred of a physically older body. Maybe Tenshi genuinely liked Rion.

Or maybe the only thing everyone in this series cared about was physical bodies. No one in this series loved anyone, no matter how much they tried to say otherwise. Rion said she loved Tenshi, but she really only like Tenshi's 5-year-old body. Tenshi said he loved Rion, but he was really only interested in having sex with her body. His most disgusting line, after Rion struggled and tried to get away because she decided she didn't want to have sex: “Don't be so tense... It'll only make it hurt worse.” When Rion was then taken over by her devil self, he was perfectly fine with that. Better than fine, because Rion's devil self was more willing to have sex. Somi also claimed to love Rion, but, when it came right down to it, he'd have raped her too, in order to rid himself of his angel powers.

In addition to all that, I had no clue how this angel and devil stuff was supposed to work. The guys claimed that they willingly entered into contracts for their angel powers, but what benefits did they receive? I suppose I could see what Fuya got – his angel powers turned him into a successful model and actor. But Koki's wish was to become rich, and his angel self only ever accomplished the opposite. And what did Somi's angel powers do for him?

All in all, I don't really recommend this volume or the series as a whole. The romance was gross, and the supernatural stuff made no sense. Takagi could draw relatively pleasing faces, but, for the most part, the art wasn't really all that great (although at least this time Takagi mostly kept the guys' chests covered up, thereby avoiding having to draw those pesky pecs and abs).

Extras:

A 14-page unrelated manga called “Sparkly” and a 1-page author's afterword in comic form.

“Sparkly” was the one thing in this volume that I enjoyed. It stars Kyushi, a 16-year-old boy working as a page at a mansion because his family is poor. His employers appear to be model perfect, but one day he learns that they all wear wigs. Their mother had 20 sons and no daughters, and all 20 sons have been made to keep their heads shaved, as Buddhist monks do. This is fine when they're at the temple, but embarrassing for them otherwise. Unfortunately, for various reasons they cannot use good wigs and adhesives and are constantly one good gust away from revealing their secret to everyone. I admit it, I laughed at this one. It was incredibly over-the-top - the guys would have been better off just going without their incredibly precarious wigs.

 

(Original review, with read-alikes and watch-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2014-08-23 02:12
The Devil Within (vol. 1) by Ryo Takagi, translated by Christine Schilling
Devil Within, Vol. 1 - Ryo Takagi

Wow, this manga. It's like Takagi tried to cram as many discomfiting and off-putting elements into a reverse harem manga framework as possible. It's kind of amazing.

Okay, so the star of this series is Rion, a teenage girl who was scarred for life after seeing one of her father's uncensored porn videos as a child. In that video, demons possessed angelic little boys and turned them into devils that raped women. Rion was left with a deep hatred of men (they're all devils) and a love of little boys (they're all angels). One day, Rion's father decides that Rion's man-hating ways are no longer beneficial for him, so he sends three gorgeous brothers to be her fiances. She must choose one of them. If she doesn't want to choose, well, not only did her father give Rion a key to each of the guys' rooms, he also gave them each the key to hers. Rion decides she would much rather be with Tenshi, the little boy with the chip on his shoulder who lives one floor below her.

Then there are all of the other things crammed into this volume. Angels, devils, some kind of curse or medical condition, and some sort of supernatural reason Rion must marry one of the three guys her father chose for her.

Every last bit of this is played for laughs. The one fiance who seems like a creepy pervert is usually just interested in whatever food Rion has in her possession. Rion's classmates think her shota-con tendencies are strange, more a bizarre quirk than anything to worry about. Her abnormal love for little boys is supposed to be even funnier when juxtaposed with her desire to run from the hot guys she's being forced to choose between. Oh, and the whole rape-y devil porn thing at the beginning? Rion's father arranged for her to see that so that her fear would force her to stay a virgin until he needed her to be otherwise. His secretary thinks this is both horrifying and great (or great because it is horrifying?).

I didn't find any of this funny, although there was something mesmerizing about seeing what bizarre or horrifying thing Takagi would throw at readers next. I'm still not sure whether Takagi intends for this to be a romance series. So far, there are only two males who don't make Rion run away in either disgust or fear: Tenshi (physically 5 years old) and Fuuya (occasionally behaves childishly). If I had to vote for anyone, I'd vote for Fuuya. Mostly, though, I wish someone had removed Rion from her father's “care” ages ago.

Sometimes good art can make up, at least a little, for a crappy story and characters. You won't find that here, unfortunately. Takagi draws some appealing faces (although some of the designs didn't seem very consistent). However, things got shakier from the neck down. You'd think, with all the times the guys are shirtless or nearly shirtless, that Takagi would take special care with pecs and abs, but wow those were awful. Tiny, shrunken pecs, abnormally long torsos, and giant white spaces where abdominal muscles would normally be.

I'll read the second and final volume because I already own it and because I'm curious to see what craziness Takagi will pull out of thin air in order to wrap this mess up in only two volumes. I hope that Rion's father gets locked up in Hell (his name is Satan, so it would be fitting) and that Rion doesn't ride off into the sunset with a boyfriend who could be in kindergarten.

Extras:

A 7-page unrelated manga called “Good & Evil Syndrome,” a 2-page comic-style author's note (I guess? It's kind of scattered), and one page of translator's notes. The translator's notes feature this gem: “Pg. 85 – 'taking a dump.' Apparently, some people believe it is a bad idea to poop so late at night.”

“Good & Evil Syndrome” was even crazier than The Devil Within. A teenage boy named Tsuyoshi literally has a devil telling him to do bad things and an angel telling him to do good things. They make it impossible to have quiet fantasies about his crush, Rinko, until one day they gain physical bodies outside of his mind. They spend this time tormenting Tsuyoshi with their advice, trying to seduce him, having sex with each other, or hinting that Rinko might prefer one of them instead.

 

(Original review, with read-alikes and watch-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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