The Other Side of the Gate

The Other Side of the Gate

The Other Side of the Gate (Into the Realms #1) by Craig Michael Curtis

Published: July 28, 2009

Fourteen year old Daniel Weaver arrives in a strange new world called the Realms one night by boat. He doesn’t know where he is or how he got there. He is not the first human to come there, nor will he be the last. He meets a local girl named Eleanor,  and together decide to travel through the sixteen Gates of the Realms on a “forward quest” in order to find out the truth about why humans have been coming to the Realms. Come explore the world of the Realms, and join Daniel and Eleanor as they begin their epic coming of age quest. Recommended for ages 14+, 4 stars. 

First I will discuss the things I didn’t like about the book. There were some obvious spelling errors and typos. The two spaces at the end of each sentence bothered me in the beginning, but I didn’t care so much about by the end of the book, probably because I got used to it. The biggest issue with the book, in my opinion, was the way the story dragged in the middle and end, and I felt like it could’ve been edited down a bit to help with that problem. 

On to the good stuff. I really liked the world-building in this book. I also liked the idea of getting a “Realm gift” from the prime-numbered Realms and a “power word,” which gives you another superhero-like power. The main character is transported to an unknown world and must survive by his wits and skills. He is good at helping people and encouraging them. Daniel meets Eleanor in a bit of an odd way, but they hit it off right away. I love both of these characters, and they really compliment each other. Their awkwardness as they start to fall for each other is adorable, the boy is a bit clueless and the girl is more forward (just like it usually goes in real life, at least in my experience). My favorite characters were the soul-bound couple, the Butterfields, because of the way they interact with each other – just like an old married couple even though they’re not. The most surprising character that I enjoyed reading about was Oka, the curmudgeon would-be wizard, who reluctantly helps Daniel and Eleanor at the end of the book. My favorite scene was probably the static electricity scene at the end of the book with the ghosts (can’t go into more or it will ruin it for everyone else). 

The end of the book especially had a Wizard of Oz theme to it, which I enjoyed as L. Frank Baum is one of my favorite authors. Think about the story summary: Two, and eventually four, teenagers go on a quest to seek knowledge and the help of a wizard. They finally find their wizard, who is actually not one (just like in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz), and is conveniently named Harry Baum. Daniel doesn’t exactly find the answers he is looking for in the Fourth Realm with his “magician” and so needs to continue all the way to the end to find his reason for being in the Realms. 

Bottom line for this book, and the series in general: Yes it is a long book but well worth a read and I personally am excited to see what he does with the next book in the five book series. 

Disclaimer: I did receive a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review. 

 

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Kamisama Kiss, Vol 25

Kamisama Kiss Vol 25

Kamisama Kiss Vol 25 written and illustrated by Julietta Suzuki

To be published: Oct 3, 2017

Nanami has been studying hard the last ten months and finally got accepted into Junior College in the Dept of Early Childhood Education, so she can work with kids. But she is wary of marrying Tomoe, and still doesn’t really want to leave the shrine and stop being the human kami. Kotaro, the human love of Himemiko, the fish yokai, that Nanami helped out in the beginning of the series, is gravely ill. Kotaro seeks her help. It turns out Himemiko is pregnant with Kotaro’s child and her people are not happy that the child is human. Himemiko wanted Nanami to come to her palace and get married to Tomoe so that her subjects would relent about her wanting to marry Kotaro, and see that a yokai marrying a human is perfectly normal. So Tomoe finally proposes and she says yes! They are getting married at Mikage shrine, and invite all their friends.  Will they finally get their happily ever after? To find out, read the heartwarming conclusion to the Kamisama Kiss series! Recommended for ages 14+, 5 stars. 

I am sad that this is the last volume in the series, but I figured it was coming soon as they can only drag the Tomoe-is-still-stuck-in-the-body-of-a-fox for so long. I love Tomoe but I kind of prefer Jiro, the tengu chieftan,  for her even if he is a grumpy bastard. Hehe on that whole “you’re too tempting a sight tonight” comment. I loved it, even though the way she went about it was rather odd, when Himemiko kidnapped Nanami and dressed her in the traditional all-white wedding kimono. Nanami didn’t really want to get married probably because of what happened with her parents, but the look of pure joy when she put that wedding dress on and saw how beautiful she looked, was priceless. Not to mention the look on Tomoe’s face when he first sees her and the way he hugged her on their wedding day. I liked Ami being brave and finally talking to Kurama and told him how she felt about him. 

Disclaimer: I received this ARC, from Viz Media, in exchange for my honest review. 

 

The Demon Prince of Momochi House, Vol 10

The Demon Prince of Momochi House Volume 10

The Demon Prince of Momochi House, Vol. 10 written and illustrated by Aya Shouoto

To be published: Oct 3, 2017

Himari Momochi is still in shock after Aoi’s love confession. She goes exploring the house on her own and almost gets kidnapped by a female ayakashi (or what is left of it), only to be rescued by the Guardian of the Gate between the spiritual and human worlds, who she met a few volumes before. He wants the power in her last name now and decides at first that the best way to do that is to marry her, which she of course refuses, then decides that becoming the guardian of the Momochi House (the omamori-sama) would be the better route. Aoi also completely refuses to allow either of these things to happen, but the Guardian forces his hand by kidnapping Himari and forcing him to play a dangerous game to get her back. Aoi thankfully wins but at what cost to Himari and himself? Bonus story about Ise included at the end. Recommended for ages 14+, 4 stars. 

Mangas like this crack me up. This book is basically a reverse harem, a manga where the main character is a girl who has a bevy of hot young men that are falling over themselves to get her attention and/or protect her. The Guardian of the Gate is handsome and charming, and it seems used to getting his own way, but is defeated using his own vanity/bad habits in the end. Bit poetic if you think about it. Aoi, despite looking exactly the same, seems to have changed and become more powerful/ruthless since he revealed his true feelings for Himari. And that scene where the Guardian gets all cheeky and kisses Himari and you see Aoi literally crack and turn into the bloodthirsty Nue, is pretty bad-ass. I was honestly a little confused about what exactly happened with the new shikigami at the end of the manga, so hopefully the author/illustrator will explain it better in the next volume. 

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this manga from Viz Media in exchange for my honest review. 

Honey So Sweet, Vol 8

Honey So Sweet Volume 8

Honey So Sweet, Vol. 8 written and illustrated by Amu Meguro

To be published: Oct 3, 2017

Yashiro,  after weeks of teasing, finally kisses Misaki. Both are shocked by it, and Yashiro ends up avoiding him for a few days. Yashiro goes to talk to Nao about it and finally confesses that she likes Misaki but hadn’t intended on kissing him originally. Nao encourages her to tell Misaki how she really feels, and she does by kissing him again and swearing more in the future. Nao and Tai have been going out for a year, and go out on a date to celebrate. They see Sousuke, Nao’s guardian at a diner with Tai’s mom, and Nao realizes she’s never thought about him having any kind of love life or wanting to be with someone. This comes into sharp focus once Nao and Tai meet Aoi, a former high school classmate of Sou’s and they see the reaction Sou gives when they see each other. Is love in the air for Sou? The end of the book fasts forward to seven years after their second year of high school and it is now Nao and Tai’s ninth anniversary. What surprises are in store for the couple? To find out, read the exciting conclusion of the Honey So Sweet series. Recommended for ages 13+, 5 stars. 

I was so sad to learn that this was the final volume of this series! It seems way too short. Misaki and Yashiro’s budding relationship is so awkward and adorable, especially when he tries to be “be a man” and kiss her first, failing because she kisses him first again. But of course nothing is as cute as Nao and Tai together. The title is very appropriate in this volume, as we see how much the two of them care for each other – wanting to share the gifts they gave each other to other and being able to express their feelings to each other (i.e. Nao commenting that “just being with Tai makes [her] feel giddy”). I’m glad Sousuke gets some face time, he’s probably one of my favorite characters in the series because he’s so selfless, but there’s hardly any mention of him except in the context of Nao liking him more than an uncle in the beginning of the series, or as a passing mention when Nao does something stupid and he has to be her parent. Aww, I adore the part when Aoi tells Sou talk about how happy Nao looks and how that is entirely because of him and how he has raised her. And it was totally sweet when Tai told Sou that he is his role model, as Sou had been questioning himself being a good parent, and I think it was exactly what he wanted to hear. I’m not usually a fan of guys giving girls roses because it is pretty cliche, but I loved the enormous bunch Tai gave Nao at the end of the manga. 

Disclaimer: I received this ARC from Viz Media Inc. in exchange for my honest review. 

Uphill Battle

Without going into too many details, the last year has been really hard on me emotionally and I feel like I’m just crawling my way out of a deep dark hole.  At first I thought there was no way out of it, but with a lot of help from friends and family, I am starting to see the daylight again. For the first time in a very long time, I am starting to be happy again, though my journey is far from done. When I saw this this afternoon, I just had to share it. Check out Grant Snider, he does some great illustrations on being a writer and struggling with emotions and motivation. 

Kimi Ni Todoke: From Me to You, Vol. 27

kimi-ni-todoke-27

Kimi Ni Todoke: From Me to You, Vol. 27 by Karuho Shiina

To be published: Sept 5, 2017

Sawako has been thinking about Kazehaya-kun all summer, though they’ve not seen each other very much. When he suddenly calls her to tell her his mother is in the hospital and he’s been trying unsuccessfully to make dinner, she immediately jumps to his rescue bringing a full meal. She impresses his father, but he is less impressed with his son. Father and son get into a fight and Shota is finally able to express himself and get his father to really listen to him about what he wants to do with his life. Sawako and Shota go to visit his mother in the hospital and they talk about his dad and how similar the two of them are, and his mom reveals how proud his father is of him (even if he doesn’t show it). His father lets him attend university with one major condition, and Sawako wants to celebrate by taking him on a day trip far away, just the two of them. Soon it is time for final exams and everyone is studying hard to get into university. Ayane confesses to her friends that she likes Mr. Arai. Will Ayane be able to tell Pin how she really feels? Recommended for ages 14+, 5 stars. 

The last couple of volumes have been kind of hit and miss, so I’m glad the author/illustrator finally got into more meaty storylines, i.e. Shota and his father finally talking and him figuring out what he wants to do with his life. I wished that Sawako and Kazehaya-kun had made more progress towards a post-high school relationship, but hopefully that will come soon. The two of them are so freaking adorable together, the way they are always taking care of each other. I hope Shota proposes in the future and they can move in together. 

On to the parts I enjoyed. I liked it when Shota’s younger brother Tota kept teasing them about acting like newlyweds because they were acting so cautious and nervous around each other, when Sawako brought dinner to their house. I liked that Shota tells Sawako that she is his inspiration for telling his father the truth, that part was really sweet. I loved Shota finding that drawer full of stuff his father collected from him over the years to prove how much he really loved him. He really needed to know the truth – that his dad was not the hard ass he always pretends to be, but really cares deeply for him.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from Simon and Schuster (Viz Media LLC) in exchange for my honest review.