[Manga Monday] Midnight Secretary

Carol's Reviews, Reviews 1 Comment 30th June, 2014

[Manga Monday] Midnight SecretaryMidnight Secretary Genres: Erotica, Fantasy, Fiction, Manga, Paranormal, Romance
Kaya Satozuka is a hard-working woman. A member of the clerical services, she is a fast typist and ensures that all her work is done neatly and quickly. When she is called in to work for Director Kyouhei Touma of the Touma Company, she assumes it will be a job like any other. However, she finds the man's habits to be irksome. Not only is he a terrible womanizer who lavishes his ladies with gifts, he is also arrogant and spoiled. It comes to a head when she discovers that Director Touma is actually a vampire! When a dire situation arises, she offers her own blood to him to keep him from fainting... and soon is pulled in to a world she had never known existed. Can she survive the hunger, and the lust, of the vampire, and still get her work done?

This week we walk on the dark-side, readers. Let’s look at Midnight Secretary.

Midnight Secretary is a josei manga (manga marketed to adult women) written and illustrated by Ohmi Tomu. It was released in Petit Comic from 2006 to May 2009. In America, Viz Media owns the rights and has been releasing the series since September, 2013.

Let’s look at the cover: We see the clear depiction of a stylish, if slightly tight-bound bespectacled woman, with a man’s face inside of a stylized cross. Behind the woman is a twightlight dusted city silhouette. Gothic letters and style hint at the nature of this series.

We begin with Kaya Satozuka. She is a trained clerical worker who is particularly gifted as a secretary. She is clean and tidy with her appearance and her work, gets her duties down in a timely and orderly manner, and doesn’t have any social life outside of the work-place. And while she is respectful to her co-workers and her employers, she can come across as introverted. Which she really is. One day her skills are noticed and she’s promoted to be the private secretary of the Touma Company’s Director, Kyouhei Touma. He is young, and while good at his job, Kaya is appalled at his horrendous womanizing. He has multiple women that he discards like tissues, after giving them multiple gifts. He even sneaks them in to his office for late-night trysts. One night, Kaya accidentally walks in on her boss and one of his ladies to see that he’s… drinking her blood.

Yes. Director Touma is a vampire. Kaya’s afraid at first, but after being told that his kind don’t kill humans and that their bites won’t change a human in to a vampire, he convinces her to stay (because finding a secretary as good as Kaya would be annoying and take a lot of time). So, Kaya agrees to keep quiet, and remains loyal. One evening, he needs her to accompany him as a PA, only to end in a situation where he desperately needs blood to keep him from growing sick. Kaya offers her own, and they discover that, unlike other women, Kaya’s blood can quench his thirst with just a very small amount. Eventually, Touma stops inviting women to his office (and bed) and seeks only Kaya’s blood for nourishment. Kaya, in turn, begins to develop feelings for her boss, but knows it would be inappropriate to date him. However, she learns that he is equally attracted and desirous of her, and the two begin an intense sexual relationship.

Yep, it’s really erotica at the core. Your typical steamy romance with a vampire flavor- and this lot came before Twilight and its horrendous clones hit the bookshelves. Kaya’s a lot more endearing of a character than Bella Swan, however, but only just. And the character progression of Kyouhei Touma from spoiled rotten play-boy to a caring, protective, and loving man is a saving grace. But the only draw for me in this series were the designs of the FASHION.

Tomu is clearly a giant fashion hound and whenever she can put her women in beautiful dresses, style their hair, and make them look alluring, she does it with relish. She also is absolutely wonderful at making her men look like they walked off the runway. Some women would like this story for the sex, but I’m completely in love with the fashion porn.

I give this series a 2.5. If you like romance novels, different takes on vampires, and extravagant fashion, then give this title a read-through. If you’re looking for more substance with your ‘evening meals’, then throw this one out and reach for something with more bite.

[Top Ten Tuesday(3)] Book Covers

Memes 0 Comments 24th June, 2014


Hello Readers! Its time for the Broke and The Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!
Each week we will post a new Top Ten list  that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don’t have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It’s a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

This Weeks Theme is
Top Ten Cover Elements I Like/Dislike


PEP_8351-Edit-XLBry: I very rarely pay attention to books covers any more, so I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to address this list, but when I was looking over I noticed that the books I’ve read this year have some similar elements in their covers. So my take on this list is going to be ‘top ten cover elements of books I am drawn to’, whether or not the cover had anything to do with that drawing in factor. So here is a screenshot I grabbed….





  1. Women. (11/20) Gosh I read a lot of books with women on the cover.
  2. Dresses. (11/20) These women are all wearing dresses, and/or capes of some sort
  3. Historical Elements (17/20). Wax seals, weapons, historical garb, jesters, architecture
  4. Red. (12/20) So much red on these books!
  5. “Aged Paper” look. (5/20) I suppose this goes hand in hand with the historical element thing!


302722_10152199913595058_122942404_nFry: I don’t look at book’s covers much anymore. The advent of the ebook reader makes judging a book by its cover obsolete. Still, there seems to be a trend to the books I read and what their covers look like. Coincidence? Probably. I like my YA pulpy and science fictiony and that tends to create a certain look.



1. Abstract text with random ambiance (5/23)
2. Panning shots with tiny tiny people or buildings in the background (6/23)
3. Closeups of faces (6/23)
4. Warm color (red/orange/pink) on black (7/23)
5. Plants (6/23)

Headshot Carol: I’ve said it before, but I do judge books by their covers. If I don’t like the cover of the book, I’m not going to pick it up. Sometimes books I read aren’t dictated by the cover, though. Sometimes they’re just books I want to read/have to read (Part of a series, I like the author, those sorts of reasons). But if it’s a book I’d not seen or picked up before, I won’t get it unless the cover catches my eye. And sometimes there are books that I’ve read already that have certain covers that I like. In the end, there’s some trends that pop up in my favorite books…



Top Ten Covers
  1. Title and Author equally prominent on the cover. (5/10)
  2. Colorful, popping artwork. (6/10)
  3. Two-word titles. (5/10)
  4. Fantasy themed stories. (6/10)
  5. Beautiful faces/figures. (4/10)







[Review] Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Fry's Reviews, Reviews 0 Comments 21st June, 2014

This review contains spoilers. Read at your own risk.
[Review] Ruin and Rising by Leigh BardugoRuin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #3
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on June 17th, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 417
Source: Purchase
The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

Holy bajeezus, you guys. I’ve been waiting for this book with everything in my being. Now that it’s over, I feel a bit vexed. It was well written and lovely and a wonderfully choreographed dance of words on the page, but I’m being absolutely petty about the plot.

Yes, I’m not going to be able to get through this without spoilers. This is the end of the road, the end of the series and all that came before it is technically a spoiler for those who haven’t read the series. Read this at your own risk! I am not responsible for your sullied mind after this point.

Half of the book is all of the characters mustering into position to talk about FINALLY going to hunt the firebird. There’s some little bits to keep us interested. We get an interesting reintroduction to Sturmhond and a really compelling but horribly depressing story from Baghra. Not to mention, there’s a rapist to deal with and some overzealous followers. But, it still took quite a bit of time to get to the main meat of the storyline.

Once there, the shockers happen. Leigh Bardugo took a page from George RR Martin’s playbook and held no mercy. Characters are ripped limb from limb, plummet to their death and, most upsettingly, get turned into a semi-sentient volcra-esque being. That wasn’t okay. As it was one of my favorite characters, I was more than a little distraught. Granted, he got better!

On their hunt for the firebird, they find out one of the love interests is, in fact, the third artifact, because genetics. Of course, they don’t spectacularly kill his annoying ass and fashion his bones into a power bracelet, because that would be mean. In fact, despite killing him, he also gets better and she ends up marrying him and having the most bittersweet happily ever after I’ve ever read.

Argh. So, everyone on Team Mal should be quite happy. I should have seen it coming, as the beginning and the end of each book talked at length about their adventures.

Don’t let my mild annoyance deter you, though. I ‘m seriously bitter. Make that a testament to Leigh Bardugo, that she can make me care that much that I actually am mad when things don’t go my way. This rarely happens. I can count my ships on one hand.

Overall, as a series, this was a great ride. In my review for Shadow and Bone, I mentioned that it gave me a feeling of nostalgia and reminded me a lot of the Mercedes Lackey and Tamora Pierce books I read in middle school. This still holds true and I would implore anyone who did similarly to read this series and revel in the warm fuzzies that the writing induces.

[Top Ten Tuesday (2)] Books on my Summer TBR List

Memes 6 Comments 17th June, 2014


Hello Readers! We’re back with another Broke and The Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!
Each week we will post a new Top Ten list  that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don’t have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It’s a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

This week’s topic is Top Ten Books on My Summer TBR List

BPEP_8351-Edit-XLry: This is going to be a summer of excellent reading, and I am thrilled by some of the prospects currently on my shelves! I am sure there will be many more to come from the exciting ARC world, so here’s five from me, and five from Fry that we’re anticipating gleefully.

1. Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb

How can I adequately describe my excitement and nervousness for this book? I fell head over heels in love with Robin Hobb’s writing in high school, and can comfortably say she is in my top 5 favourite authors of all time. My emotional investment in the Farseers and the Liveship traders is immense – and yet I thought I had made my peace with the loss and sadness that is so trademark of Robin Hobb’s writing! And yet, here we are a full 10 years after Fool’s Fate, reunited with character we’d never think to hear from again! But who will we lose in the process!? I’m so excited, and so nervous!! (P.S: I’m finished and OH MY GOD!!! Review coming soon!)

2. Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

I devoured the first two books of the His Fair Assassin series just recently, and loved them. Ismae’s story in Grave Mercy was intriguing and exciting, bringing to light a world of assassin nuns that are nothing short of pure badass. But then Sybella’s story in Dark Triumph was so compelling, adding new layers and depth to Ismae’s initial tale, that I just can’t wait to find out what the heck is going on with Annith during this time! I must have it! Technically, this book comes out in November, but I am holding out hope. (Do you hear me Edelweiss? I’m dying for a copy!)


3. How to Ruin a Queen: Marie Antoinette and the Diamond Necklace Affair by Jonathan Beckman

I have a tertiary specialty in Versailles France, and while I prefer Louis XIV in all his Sun King glory, I am fascinated by Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI and their ultimate downfall. Without question, the most fascinating element of the escalating conflict was not Marie’s alleged “let them eat cake” comment which she never actually said, but rather the Affair of the Diamond Necklace. It was a scandal, scarcely even involving the Queen, that would trigger a revolution to shake the world! Beckman’s perspective on the matter will be an interesting read.

4. Black Chalk by Christopher J Yates

“One game. Six students. Five survivors. It was only  ever meant to be a game.” This is the tagline that drew me right in. Ever since The Collector of Dying Breaths failed to deliver it’s promised ‘suspense’, I have been craving a great mystery full of thrilling twists, tense conflicts and suspense to entice me to keep reading. The synopsis of Black Chalk has me very optimistic that it can deliver exactly what I need. I absolutely love the idea of something ‘innocent’ taking a quick turn for sinister, for the suspense that follows is usually rich. Bring it on!

5. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

This was recommended to me based on my deep love for Robin Hobb and George R R Martin, and when consulting with two other friends who have been spot on with their evaluations for my taste, they emphatically and enthusiastically confirmed that I need to read this. It has been explained in every way I could imagine, from ‘speculative fiction’ to ‘hispter bardness’, but I appreciate rounded, varied answers when it comes to book recommendations. I’m open to further opinions!




Fry: Oh man, I have so many books on my TBR. (Possibly too many.) I do have a few that I’m more excited about than others.

1. The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

I hear that the less people know going into this book, the better. Reviewed by Wendy Darling with comparisons to plenty of things I’ve enjoyed immensely, I really have some high hopes for this book.

2.  Cracked by Eliza Crewe 

Honestly, I just want some fine UF that doesn’t seem like rehashed versions of every other UF or PNR. This book sounds like it can give me that.


3.  Ruins by Dan Wells 

I just want to know what happens to Kira and everyone else. Because, damn. This post apocalyptic landscape is HARSH and I can’t see it ending well. Acid rain? Dead babies? Yeah. No good.


4.  Kinslayer by Jay Kristoff 

The second in a series after a debut I really enjoyed. I’m both excited and worried about picking up the story. Hopefully it can live up to or surpass the original.


5. City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennet

When a fantasy author I like tells me to go read another fantasy author, I have to admit, I’m all over that. That how I found both Rothfuss and Lynch, so it’s yet to fail me. This book is highly rated and I’ve got an ARC of it. Can’t wait to see what the fuss is about.



Headshot Carol: Well, I’ll be honest, I’m knew to this particular article set, but as I’m wanting to dig myself out of the trenches of fanfiction (and I admit this, I read too much of it), here’s a list of books I’d like to read over the summer.

Now, picking these books wasn’t entirely easy. Some help came from recommendations, some from goodreads’ ideas of what I’d like based on things I had read before, and some are from authors I’ve read before and want to read again. And yes, I admit, I’m someone who DOES judge books by the cover- if I like the art, I’ll buy or check out the book.

Now let’s get started…

1. Pegasus by Robin McKinley

Now, I read this on the webpage, I was completely fangirling. I LOVE Robin McKinley’s books. Dragonhaven was the only disappointing story I’d read because it just didn’t grab me the way her others did. From her vampire novel Sunshine to her earliest YA title, The Blue Sword, I’ve been enthralled. I can’t wait to pick up her newest fantasy offering.

2. Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb

Yeah, Amazon gives way too much away right off the bat, but the cover I saw on the Robin Hobb page looked very intriguing. Backed with a recommendation from Bry, longtime friend, fellow bibliophile, and fellow reveiwer, I couldn’t resist looking it up. I’m certainly going to add it to the list and I hope I will find a copy soon! Strong female leads, magic, and dragons! EE!

3. Teaching With Harry Potter: Essays on Classroom Wizardry from Elementary School to College by Valerie Estel Frankel

Obviously a Goodreads suggestion, but I’m cool with that. So, why am I looking at essays on teaching Harry Potter instead of just, you know, reading it? Well, one, I’d like to be a teacher. I’m studying to be able to teach, in fact, with a focus on English Literature. I love reading, I want kids to read. What better way to get them to read than introducing them to Harry Potter, which is amazing, and has gained fans and followers from every age? I STILL love the books and I’m almost 30! For fun reading and for a teaching tool, I’m going to be picking this up.

4. Firethorn by Sarah Micklem

Another Goodreads recommendation, and it looks promising. Seems it might be reminiscent of Cynthia Voigt’s On Fortune’s Wheel and promising a rich, unique fantasy world, I’m eager to give it a try.

5. The Wind Singer by William Nicholson 

While shorter in synopsis, and boasting illustrations, I’m no less intrigued. I like the cover- reminiscent of one of my favorite covers on The Hobbit. Definitely interested.

6. Sherlock Holmes and the Hentzau Affair by David Stuart Davies

Those of you who have read my reviews would know, I am a big fan of the modern BBC adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, and that comes from being a fan of the original works by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. And, let’s face it, since the character’s conception, he’s been a subject of writers. I’d dare say that Sherlock Holmes was the first character to have ‘fanfiction’ written about him, and this is just proof of that! Still, anything new to add to his ever growing mythos is welcome to me.

7. Murder in Baker Street Various

Again, more to read about Holmes and Watson, and with various writers contributing! Tales to whet my sluething appetite for days!

8. The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Man from Hell by Barrie Roberts

Yeah, not gonna lie. This one sounds odd. Martians? But I’ve got to read it before I go and condemn it. Some of the others seem compelling, so I’m going to check the book out and indulge my mystery cravings.

9. The King of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany, with introduction by Neil Gaiman 

Another fantasy novel! I love stories that go beyond the ‘ever after’ endings, and I especially love new takes on how supposed ‘fairy tales’ can end. Given this is not an existing fable and a new one that explores what happens when stories of that genre ‘end’, I’m still very interested. Besides, it has an introduction by one of my favorite artists and story-tellers, Neil Gaiman!

10. Raffles: The Amateur Cracksman by E.W. Hornung

Hornung, in a bit of a jest and a challenge to his brother-in-law, created a character who became in every way the true equal and opposite of the famous Sherlock Holmes. Raffles is a thief, a gentleman, and every cunning. His accomplice Bunny, once a friend in school and brought back from contemplating suicide, is his own Watson in daring thefts. I love a mystery solved, but I also love a good gentleman thief! And Raffles was one of the first (though most well known). Can’t wait to actually read his stories and immerse myself!

And there’s my list! I may not get to read them all, but I will try my hardest! Wish me luck, readers.

[Manga Monday] Change 123!

Carol's Reviews, Reviews 0 Comments 16th June, 2014

[Manga Monday] Change 123!Change 123! by Iku Sakaguchi
Genres: Adventure, Fiction, Humor, Manga, Romance
Teruharu Kosegawa is a bit of a geek, and obsessed with the super-hero, Kamen Raider. Believing in his idol's credo of helping those in need and being noble, he tries to always do the right thing, even though he knows he will never be a hero (because super-heroes don't exist, right?). One day, he witnesses his shy classmate, Motoko Gettou, being harassed by a stranger. Before he can help, quiet and helpless Motoko changes in to three very different girls! They are Hi-Fu-Mi: Split personalities within Motoko. They all ask Kosegawa to keep the secret, and he agrees. This is just the beginning of the adventure for Kosegawa, Motoko, and Hi-Fu-Mi!

Welcome to another Manga Monday! Today we’re looking at Change 123!

Change 123! (or in Japan Chanji Hi-Fu-Mi!) is a shounen manga series by Iku Sakaguchi, and illustrated by Shiuri Hiwasawa. The series was first released in  Akita Shoten‘s Champion Red from June 2005 to June 2010, then released in a 12 volume serial. 

Let’s begin with a look at the cover. This version displays a girl in a very revealing ‘mechanic’s’ suit, with a cheeky, spunky look on her face. In the ‘honeycomb’ designs, we see the faces of three other girls. One wears glasses, has a softer, gentler expression, and a suggestion of pigtails, another is a side-profile that gives us a calm expression, and the last is a very youthful, juvenile expression. You notice how, even with their distinct differences, all four girls look very similar? Well… there’s a reason for that.

The story is told mostly from the perspective of our male protagonist, Teruharu Kosegawa. He’s a big fan of the in-universe parody of the super-sentai (think Power-Rangers sort of super-heroes) character known as Kamen Rider, called in the manga Kamen Raider. Anyway, Kosegawa wants to be brave, helpful, and strong like the Raider, but he knows that for one thing, heroes aren’t real, and for another, he’ll never be one since he’s just a wimpy little nerd of a guy.

One afternoon, he witnesses a girl from his class, called Motoko Gettou, being harassed by a man on the street. Now, even though he doesn’t want to get hurt, Kosegawa’s always been self-sacrificing and wants to help his shy, also-very-geeky classmate. So, he steps in and nearly gets himself killed! But just as things look bad, Motoko goes briefly unconscious, and when she awakens, removes her glasses. She then begins beating up their attacker to the point that he runs off like a little coward! Motoko makes sure that Kosegawa’s okay, then they go on to actually spend the rest of the afternoon together… Only to be further attacked by the same guy, two more times. And in each instance, Motoko’s personality changes again, as does her stature and (strangely) body composition. Eventually, she reveals to Kosegawa that she has three split personalities in her head.

Yeah. You read that right. Three other personalities, that she calls collectively Hi-Fu-Mi. These are short for the names of each personality (as well as being clever plays on Japanese short-names for the numbers 1, 2, and 3). These three other girls are:

  1. Hibiki. An aggressive, tomboyish girl who likes to fist-fight, and was trained to face opponents head-on. When Motoko becomes Hibiki, she takes off her glasses, lets her hair flow free, and seems to toughen her muscle structure to be thicker. She wears red-colored clothing.
  2. Fujiko. A strategist, and expert sword’s woman. She’s calm, clever, and very studious. But she’s a bit of a stick-in-the-mud compared to the others. When Motoko becomes Fujiko, she stands up straighter, making herself appear taller, and smooths her hair down. She wears blue-colored clothing.
  3. Mikiri. She loves food, and is a wrestling, grappling, and submission expert, as well as very playful and child-like girl. She’s the most trusting and youngest acting of the girls, and puts her hair up in a pony-tail. She wears the color yellow. When Motoko becomes Mikiri, she relaxes many of her muscles to allow the rest of her body be more defensive. This causes her bust, which is already on the ‘generous’ side, to expand further, causing some… clothing malfunctions.

Kosegawa comes to find out the reasons why Motoko has these personalities. They first formed after she witnessed the painful, tragic death of her mother. After coming out of a fugue state, three men appeared, all claiming to be her father- Fighter Tatsuya Rukawa,  swordsman Jin Hayase, and wrestler and grappler Takezou Kuruma. All three men had romantic entanglements with Motoko’s mother around the same time, and rather than hating one another, they respected each other as fighting experts. And to help Motoko, they all shared the responsibility of raising her, including teaching her their fighting styles. The personalities emerged with each father. Hibiki takes after Rukawa, Fujiko after Jin, and Hibiki after Kuruma. They had no idea how to help the girl with these personalities, so they just tried their best to show her love, and give her stability.

Kosegawa takes it upon himself to not only keep Motoko’s secret, but also somehow help her come to terms with her past, and to make peace with it so that, per Motoko’s personal wish, all the personalities can come together. The only problems, well, aside from a secret feminine organization of assassins, warrior women from distant islands, and the pressures of high-school life, there’s the ever looming 4th personality: Zero. Zero has no limitors, and no moral code. When she starts fighting, she won’t stop until either she, or her opponent, are dead. What’s more, Kosegawa begins to develop feelings for Hi-Fu-Mi, and all the respective aspects of their personalities. Can he continue to help Motoko without losing either her or the other three girls he’s come to love?

This series has merits and lots of flaws. Being an optimist, I like to look at the good points. The major good point about the series is the strength of its lead characters- All five. Yes, I’m counting Hibiki, Fujiko, and Mikiri, as their own separate characters. The characters all go through major changes, each one growing and becoming someone new in the process. The biggest example is Kosegawa, who really does go from idolizing heroes and doubting himself, to actively being more courageous and heroic until later, when he damn-nearly dies for the sake of Motoko and the others. He just grows and grows as a person, out of the tropes of the usual ‘Every-day Schmuck’ who shows up in tons of harem and shounen stories, and in to his own unique individual. Motoko, Hibiki, Fujiko, and Mikiri soon become less like separate entities within one body, and more like sisters who have all faced a tragedy, and who want to ensure the safety of the boy they love and for each other, all while Motoko learns to stand up for herself, Hibiki accepts being more feminine, Fujiko becomes less rigid and cold, and Mikiri becomes more grownup. It is an utterly beautiful progression that doesn’t happen over-night. We’ve also got several female characters who are strong, quite a few that are incredibly independant, and who have passed the Beschdel Test multiple times. If you don’t know what that test is, it essentially comes down to: Is there more than one woman in this? Do they talk about more stuff than just a man/relationships? This series does that. Bravo!

There are down-sides, though. Given that Kosegawa is in love with four women (nevermind they’re ONE person with four distinct personalities … and one homicidal monster), and pursued by 3 others (eventually), this DOES count as a harem manga (meaning a manga with a story-line about one guy who is romantically connected or pursued by multiple women). With that in mind, it is also filled to the brim with fan-service, bare breasts, and a dozen other things that are supposed to entice men, and especially teenage boys. In spite of the strong personalities of the emotionally and physically women, this is at its core a series aimed for guys.

The main issue with this series is the premise behind Motoko and Hi-Fu-Mi. As compelling as it is, it is taking advantage of a very enigmatic, very hard to recognize mental disorder. Multiple Personalities, or Dissiociative Identity Disorder (DID) is a very hard disorder to diagnose. Many pyschologists and mental-health professionals disagree on its authenticity as a disorder. Those who have shown (possible) genuine symptoms of this disorder have gone through severe trauma to cause this, and they most certainly do NOT develop super-strength. If you want genuine, medically backed info on Multiple Personality Disorder, then DON’T read this manga.

I suppose in the end, this manga ends up being as confused as Motoko. While it is an enjoyable read, has great characters and character arcs for each of them, the narrative itself suffers from its own form of identity disorder: It’s either an action manga, a harem manga, a psychological thriller, or a highschool coming-of-age story.

But for all the faults, I still enjoyed the manga. Three and a half stars! Pick it up, and you’ll find it’s worth the read.

[Top Ten Tuesday (1)] Books I’ve Read This Year

Memes 7 Comments 10th June, 2014


Hello Readers! We’ve decided to immerse ourselves more in the book-blogging community, and to get our feet in the water, we’ve joined the Broke and The Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!
Each week we will post a new Top Ten list  that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don’t have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It’s a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

This week’s topic is Top Ten Books I’ve Read This Year

PEP_8351-Edit-XLBry: So far this year, I have read a great books! Book reviewing not only got me to renew my dedication to reading, the books I’ve been able to get my hands on continue to fuel my passion!

  1. The Red Lily Crown by Elizabeth Loupas 

    This book was an instant favourite for this Medici fan girl! Elizabeth Loupas brings the world of Medici Florence to life with mystery, intrigue, danger, and beautiful representations of some of my hands-down favourite people in history! An absolute must read, and likely my #1 review of the whole year.

  2. A Thing Done by Tinney Sue Heath 

    Another masterful Italian history success, focusing on the blood feud of 1216, that would eventually become the catalyst for the Guelphs and Ghibellines civil war. The tale is told by the Jester misfortune has marked to be at the unwitting center of this conflict, and unravels with great finesse. Full Review coming soon!

  3. The Palace by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro 

    Are you sensing a theme here? Back to Medici Florence for a read about another of my favourite Medicis, Lorenzo the Magnificent, and one of my not-so-favourite vampire archetypes, Saint-Germain! This faultless vampire finds himself at the inner social circles of Magnifico himself, and then with Savanarola at the Bonfire of the Vanities… cheesy, yes, but you can’t fault a historical fangirl.

  4. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers 

    This book came to me through recommendation from Fry, and since she has spot-on instincts with my taste, I take her recommendations seriously. She really came through with this one, because I loved it!  Grave Mercy is the story of Ismae, a noviate at the convent of St. Mortain – the god of death. Thats right, we’re dealing with assassin nuns, dear readers. Enough said!  Full Review coming soon!

  5. Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers 

    Right after I finished Grave Mercy, I was made aware there were two more books to follow about the assassins of Saint Mortain. The story continues with Sybella, the hardened, half mad handmaiden of death, who is more deeply entrenched in political crisis than her convent sisters, due to the ties of family. Another home run as a read, and I can’t wait for book 3! Full Review coming soon!

  6. The Kingmaker: Winter Pilgrims by Toby Clements 

    Apparently there has been another theme in my reading this year, because this was also a book that follows the stories of a nun and a canon, who are forced out of religious life when they become entangled in the events of the Wars of the Roses. This book was nitty-gritty, uncomfortably explicit, and that is precisely how it should be for the context. Really hated the present-tense writing, liked everything else.

  7. The Woman Who Would Be King by Kara Cooney 

    A very fascinating look at the life of Hatshepsut, and how a woman was able to negotiate herself to the position of ultimate power in patriarchal Ancient Egypt. Certainly speculative, but what isn’t when it comes to the realm of Antiquity? Interesting read, and my full review will be coming soon!

  8. The Boleyn Bride by Brandy Purdy 

    The story of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn has been told a hundred times, in a hundred ways, in a hundred books. But this was something new! The Boleyn Bride is the story of Elizabeth Howard, wife of Thomas Boleyn, and mother to Anne. Elizabeth is a bitter, condescending, unfaithful, adulterous, hateful woman, and yet somehow, this makes her all the more likeable in the context. A recommended read!

  9. The Eagle by Jack Whyte 

    After 10 books and multiple generations, I finished the Dream of Eagles saga with this book at the very beginning of the year. I felt rather bittersweet after becoming so emotionally invested in these characters and Jack Whyte’s unique spin on Authurian legend, but this will always stand as a series I will recommend to elegant readers!

  10. Glass Dragons by Sean McMullen 

    This book just had to be included on this list because it is the most nonsensical, oddest, confusing book I’ve ever read. I didn’t even know comedic-fantasy was really a genre? Penis dragons. Thats all I can say. I don’t know if this book will be possible to review. Penis dragons. PENIS DRAGONS GUYS.






So far this year has been pretty hectic. I hadn’t had as much motivation to read as I would have liked. I had a pretty gnarly pregnancy complication that made me itch all over if I stopped to sit for awhile and then I was in the post-birth fog. Now, at six weeks post-partum, I’m just getting back into reading, but finding that I have a lot less free time. That, and I pretty much sat down and watched the entirety of Orange is the New Black the day it came out.

1) Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

There is a lot of info to slog through, and yes, it does sound like he created a world out of a wikipedia article. But, the story caught me and I became emotionally invested in the well being of the characters. Giving the steampunk genre a Asian slant by maintaining an overall Japanese culture with all the fantasy monsters that go with it, Jay Kristoff has set his book apart.

2) Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios

The main theme of this book is trafficking. Jinni are being taken captive and forced to serve human masters until such a time as the human asks for three wishes. After that, the Jinni earns their freedom. Add to that several layers of political upheaval, a lost princess, a body devouring assassin and a few sexy love interests and you’ve got yourself one hell of a tale.

3) An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire

I’ve yet to read a book by this woman that hasn’t both stressed me out and given me emotional scars. It’s a rare gift for an author to have. Yet, I love to come back for more stress and I think An Artificial Night was by far one of the worst in terms of emotional upheaval. I yelled and shut the book more than once. There were a few moments there where I didn’t think it was going to be okay. I don’t know if I can handle another Toby book if this is the pile of whimpering goo that the third installment left me in. Still, these books are so good and I’m a glutton for punishment.

4) Not A Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnis

This is the second book on this list that I had to attempt to read multiple times before making it all the way through (the first one being Stormdancer with it’s massive infodump). I’m glad I made it through. This is what a survivalist story should look like. Just the simple day to day struggles that can kill- accidents and starvation and gangs of lawless men.

5) Cress by Marissa Meyer

After reading a dissapointing Scarlet, I was still excited about Cress. And Cress came through for me. A much more solid installment than the previous book, yet still maintaining the flair of the original.

6) Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

This book was so inventive and interesting, despite being a cliched battle between angels and demons. Yes, there’s some instant love but the writing is so musical and the plot and characters are unique and different.
Hah. I only made it to six. Unfortunately, the rest of the books I”ve read this year were just so-so. Here’s to discovering more awesome books as the year progresses!

[Review] The Palace by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

Bry's Reviews, Reviews 1 Comment 8th June, 2014

[Review] The Palace by Chelsea Quinn YarbroThe Palace by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Series: Saint-Germain #2
Published by Mass Market Publishing on March 1st, 2003
Genres: Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 528
Source: Purchase
The anticipated paperback release of the second title in Yarbro's long-running Saint-Germain series featuring immortal vampire Francesco Ragoczy da San Germano. Secluded in his Renaissance Florence palace, he falls for a beautiful courtesan and loses all desire for isolation.

From the onset I announced I intended to write a fully biased review of this book, and I will make good on my promise. I simply cannot NOT enjoy a Medici-Florence novel by anyone. 

Once again, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s attention to detail and dedication to the historical context is stellar. Florence as it was comes alive in her hands, not overly exaggerated for opulent effect, but not undervalued as such a significant and impactful place and time. Such influential and deeply loved individuals as Lorenzo ‘il Magnifico’ and Sandro Botticelli are brought to life with the same respect and reverence – not overtly characterized, referencing their legacy to make them realistic, and human. Admittedly, my personal familiarity of the subject matter was at times troublesome – I understand how incredibly unlikely it would be for someone, even a man of considerable influence and wealth, to be considered among the innermost circle of Lorenzo Medici’s friends, and then subsequently, even under an alias, warranting someone as important as Savonarola to come to his personal bedside to pray for his ‘recovery’. But Saint-Germain always seems to rise to prominence and importance and perfection everywhere, doesn’t he?

On a purely selfish note, I was disappointed that Lorenzo’s death came so early in this book – the timelines of actual historic events are immutable, but beginning a Medicean book in 1491 when Magnifico passes in 1492 feels cruel. A teaser of such a great man and character! I felt Francesco’s anguish to say farewell so early, and while I do not actually approve of supernatural-ifying actual historical characters, for a brief moment I almost wanted it. Thank goodness the author thought better of it.

I always feel as if Yarbro has a vestigial plot-limb that would be better if left out, and the Palace was not an exception: The self-imposed builder exiles added nothing to the overall story, and even he who was the treacherous betrayer in his return to Florence did very little and achieved nothing before his end, which also happened in such a haphazard way it could have been anyone. It felt pointless. 

I appreciated the non-romantic relationship of Francesco and Demetrice as a refreshing change of pace from the usual love relationship Saint-Germain has to progress the story, it gave her more character, and more reason to enjoy her. And as a side note, I could not have wanted to throttle Estasia more, which is a testament to Yarbro’s effectiveness in writing such an undesirable character. It was her purpose to be insufferable, and she certainly achieved no less!

So, a win for me, but probably the last of the Saint-Germains that I can handle.

[Review+Giveaway] Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae

Amy's Reviews, ARC Reviews, Reviews 5 Comments 1st June, 2014

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

[Review+Giveaway] Wish You Were Italian by Kristin RaeWish You Were ITalian by Kristin Rae
Series: If Only ... #2
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing USA on May 6, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 323
Source: Netgalley
Pippa has always wanted to go to Italy … but not by herself. And certainly not to sit in art school the entire summer learning about dead guys’ paintings. When she steps off the plane in Rome, she realizes that traveling solo gives her the freedom to do whatever she wants. So it’s arrivederci, boring art program and ciao, hot Italian guys!

Charming, daring, and romantic, Bruno is just the Italian Pippa’s looking for—except she keeps running into cute American archeology student Darren everywhere she goes. Pippa may be determined to fall in love with an Italian guy … but the electricity she feels with Darren says her heart might have other plans. Can Pippa figure out her feelings before her parents discover she left the program and—even worse—she loses her chance at love?

Today I continue my foray into contemporary romance with Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae.  This book is YA contemporary that is cute, sweet, heart-breaking at times, and oh so romantic.  This review will be short and sweet for a book that is the same.  Wish You Were Italian is about a young woman who is kind of forced to go to Italy, the summer before her senior year, to attend a program in art history.  The only problem, Pippa is not that into art history. She is ready for this summer to be the worst summer of her life. When she actually gets to Italy she realizes that hello, she is in Italy. There is so much for her to see, and for the first time in her life there are no parents telling her what to do.  She hatches a plan to bail out on the program and travel all over Italy on her own, seeing the sights and taking pictures.

I love books that have travel in them, and I really liked seeing Italy through the eyes of Pippa.  I thought the descriptions were beautiful and this book really made me feel like I was in Italy.  I thought at times Pippa was a little naïve because she meets a girl and goes to stay with her after only day of knowing her.  I didn’t blame her friend for worrying because Pippa was very lucky in that all the people she meets and takes off with are truly good people.  It did annoy me that Pippa was even at times torn between two boys because I could see the boy she chose in the end was right for her all along.  Then something happens and Pippa has to go suddenly.  That part did bring tears to my eyes because I could sympathize.

In the end, I liked the ending of this book.  I like a good book that leaves me on nice cloud of happy.  I really liked Wish You Were Italian.  I give Wish You Were Italian four stars.  It is one those cute fun reads that great for the beach or sunny days reading in the backyard.


Welcome to another great giveaway at Romancing the Laser Pistol. We are proud to be giving away an amazing prizepack including signed copies of Wish You Were Italian and Side Effects May Vary. Good luck to everyone and happy reading.














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[Arc Review] In The End

ARC Reviews, Fry's Reviews, Reviews 0 Comments 24th May, 2014

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

[Arc Review] In The EndIn the End by Demitria Lunetta
Series: In The After #2
Published by HarperTeen on June 24th, 2014
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 448
Source: Edelweiss
The thrilling conclusion to In the After, the survival story of Amy and Baby, set in a near future where Earth has been overrun by vicious, predatory creatures.

It’s been three months since Amy escaped New Hope, and she’s been surviving on her own, like she did in the After. Until one day, her former fellow Guardian’s voice rings out in her earpiece. And in a desperate tone, Kay utters the four words Amy had hoped she would never hear: Dr. Reynolds has Baby.

Now it’s a race against time, for Baby is in imminent danger, her life threatened by the malevolent doctor who had helped start the end of the world. In order to save Baby, Amy must make her way to Fort Black, a prison-turned-survivor-colony, where she will need to find Ken, Kay’s brother. He alone holds the key to Baby’s survival.

One small slip-up on this quest could spark a downward spiral that would not only cost Baby and Amy their lives, but threaten the very survival of the people in the After.

If this series wasn’t a dualology, I wouldn’t have picked up the second installment. With closure that close on the horizon, I couldn’t say no.

In the After opened on a postapocalyptic landscape and had an interesting survivalist feel to it. Like the first chunk of the Will Smith version of I Am Legend, the story was compelling in it’s horrific simplicity. Unfortunately, this abruptly ended with the appearance of special operatives, who take our main character and her young companion into their society. The abrupt tone change upset me when I read the first one, but with the second one bypassing any intriguing survivalist tendencies by jumping straight into another society, I didn’t feel as abruptly torn out of the prose.

Amy is on a quest to find Kay’s brother, Ken. He’s a doctor, and very interested in finding an antivirus to the Florea outbreak. So much so, that he might help Amy retrieve her companion, Baby from New Hope (where she’s being brainwashed and sucked dry of all blood, because motivation).

She makes her way to the other settlement, Fort Black, a re-purposed prison. There she meets Jackson, whom becomes her personal guide and eventual love interest. Fort Black, in many ways, is still a prison. Inmates now wander around freely, mixing with the general survivors. Women are ‘claimed’ by men, offered protection from rape or worse. Those with jobs that keep the prison running get to stay in the cells. Those who do not live in a shanty town in the exercise yard.

A place like this is just as corrupt as it sounds. Justice is served without trial. Those in charge intimidate. There is one former inmate who gets off on being abusive and strangling women. But despite all of this, the corruption runs deeper, as Amy finds out.

The schemes are simple. The action is predictable. The characters remain stagnant in their growth. The book still offers a nice amount of closure, despite adding a love triangle. Yes, Rice was a bit lackluster in the romance department, but there was no need to either add another male love interest, or keep Rice in that status.
Satisfied with the ending. It didn’t live up to it’s potential, but it didn’t disappoint me either.

[Manga Monday] Full Metal Alchemist

Carol's Reviews, Reviews 2 Comments 19th May, 2014

This review contains spoilers. Read at your own risk.
[Manga Monday] Full Metal AlchemistFull Metal Alchemist Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Manga, Science Fiction
Edward and Alphonse Elric  are prodigies in the study of alchemy-- the transmutation of items and elements. When their mother becomes ill and dies, they attempt the forbidden practice of 'human transmutation' in order to bring her back to life. But everything goes wrong, and Edward loses his arm and leg, while Alphonse's body vanishes and his soul is fixed in to a suit or armor. Together, the brothers seek the Philosopher's Stone in order to restore their bodies. But along they way they will face greater trials than the boys have seen already. They must face each obstacle with a will of iron, and a spirit that's full metal.

Welcome to this week’s Manga Monday! Today we’re covering the much raved Full Metal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa.

You know the drill: The cover first! This cover depicts a young man with a strong jaw, blond hair, and bright yellow eyes, putting on a glove, while an imposing looking armored person stands behind him. When you peak in to the young man’s sleeve, you see his arm is made of metal, just like the armor behind him. These are the Elric Brothers. Alphonse (the armor) and Edward (the young man). And Edward is the titular Full Metal Alchemist.

You might be thinking, wait, what?! You got that right, Carol? Shouldn’t Alphonse be the Full Metal Alchemist? Well… No I’m not wrong, and no, he’s not. Also, Alphonse is the younger brother. He’s 10 years old, and Edward is 13 (at the start of the manga).

Don’t worry, I’ll explain soon. Anyway, some history on the manga. Full Metal Alchemist was first published in Square Enix’s (yep, the video game company) monthly magazine, Shonen Gangan, from August 2001 until June 2010. It took this comic nearly 10 years to run its course (though I’ve reviewed manga that has run longer and STILL isn’t done). The story takes Edward and Alphonse over 3 or 4 years of their lives, and tells the story of their incredibly epic journey, and how they touch the lives of countless people in their country and beyond.

The main narrative is about the Elric Brothers. Edward, eldest by a year originally, and Alphonse, who are prodigies in the scientific practice of ‘alchemy’. Alchemy in this universe is the transmutation of items through manipulating their base elements, and conserving the matter that makes up those items, in order to create something new. The laws of Alchemy resemble the first law of Matter: Nothing is destroyed or lost, only manipulated and reshaped. Alchemists create many things, and even fight and innovate their world, by using transmutation circles and the Three Laws of Alchemy: Comprehension (understand the composition of the items, their elements and compounds), Deconstruction (break it down in to the base form) and Reconstruction (put it back together in a new, stable form). The key to it all though is the conservation of matter, or ‘equivalent exchange’. You need the same amount and required materials in order to create anything.

Edward and Alphonse aspire to become great alchemists. But one day, their mother becomes sick, and she shortly dies. Their father abandoned them long ago, so the brothers have no one, except their neighbors, the Rockbells. But the boys want their mother back, so they do the forbidden practice of ‘human transmutation’: using Alchemy to bring back the dead, or reshape the human body. They save and purchase items that are found in the human body, and attempt to rebuild their mother’s body, using drops of their own blood to be the ‘equivalence’ of her soul. It doesn’t work, however, and the boys open up a gateway, known as ‘The Gate of Truth’. Alphonse’s body and soul are lost to the Gate, but Edward manages to escape, losing only his leg. However, unwilling to lose his only remaining family, the 11 year-old uses his blood and an empty suit of armor, to get back his little brother’s soul. Edward loses his arm, but he gets Alphonse’s soul back… It’s just now stuck in the armor, via a seal made in Ed’s blood.

The brothers eventually get help from their neighbors, who are crafters of prosthetic, mechanized limbs called ‘auto-mail’. Edward recuperates from the ordeal, while Alphonse must tell their childhood friend, Winry, what happened. Eventually, word of the brothers’ father’s reputation is heard and the military sends Col. Roy Mustang to come and find him. Mustang finds the brothers instead, and he learns their secret. He doesn’t take it to their leader, however, or the police. Instead he suggests that Edward apply to the military and join them. Edward wants nothing to do with the military, due to the country’s most recent wars with Alchemy-fearing race of Ishbalans. The army once called upon the Rockbells to ask Winry’s parents, both doctors, to come serve and help wounded, only for the two to die in the fighting. Mustang leaves, but entices Edward with a challenge. Eventually, Edward decides he’ll go join the military and use their wealth of Alchemic knowledge to find a way to restore his and Alphonse’s bodies. Ed uses the rest of his family’s savings to have the Rockbells create automail limbs for him, and he goes through rehabilitation and training with Alphonse, until the two are ready. When Edward is 13, and Alphonse is 12 (though still 10 in his soul), the brothers burn down their home, and set out for the capital of their country to seek answers and a way to become whole again.

This manga is AWESOME. The story itself is a mixture of epic-high-fantasy, with touches of steampunk, parallels to European history and allegories (I mean, their ‘leader’ is called a Furher!) and major minglings of magic and science. The characters are marvelous, with Edward being a hard-headed, stubborn little squirt (somewhere he’s screaming at me for calling him short), and Alphonse is wise beyond his years, and so adorable in his innocence. This series boasts a massive cast of people, not limited to who the Elrics are most social with. We get to see stories and the events surrounding Roy Mustang and his rise through the ranks in his own ambitions of becoming Fuhrer, and the members of the military who follow him, including over the top Gen. Alex Louis Armstrong III(*sparkle sparkle FLEX*) and the evil, mysterious, and sinister creatures known as the Humunculi. What are the Humunculi? Creatures who look human but are actually monsters made by Alchemy. They are all named after the 7 deadly sins; Lust, Gluttony, Envy, Sloth, Pride, Wrath, and Greed. Greed is something of a frienemy to Ed and Al, especially later in the series, while Envy pits himself against Edward the most as an arch enemy. But all seven must answer to the man known only as ‘Father’. And we can’t forget the memorable Prince Lin Yao of Xing- a country that uses Alchemy for healing rather than simply creation and weapon advancement.

No wonder it took 10 years to write it! And 2 animes!

Wait, you say, two? Why two? Well, the first anime, released in 2005, followed the manga only to the point it had reached at the time of the anime’s creation. Since the manga was still going, the anime needed things to make for the rest of the series. Though they had the blessing of the mangaka, what we got was an entirely DIFFERENT story in terms of the anime and manga, and by the time the manga had finished, well… they had no way of reconciling the two, so they became two different stories. But then a second anime adaptation, named ‘Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood’, was released, which follows the manga entirely. I love the original series, but the second one isn’t bad, either. I’d just seen it already through the manga.

The artwork of the manga  is a bit of a mix, but I think it finds an equivalence (ha!) in the balance between the simple designs of the human characters, and the complex and gorgeous details of Alphonse’s armor, the weapons and the buildings, the scenery, and the intricate Alchemy circles. The story, as said, top-notch! So, I can’t find many cons here. So, I give this manga 5 stars!! Read it today, and I promise, you will NOT regret it!