January 29, 2020

Friends with ARCs | Lucky Caller + Seven Deadly Shadows

I’m honestly not sure where Emma Mills now falls on the list of the YA contemporary authors I read, as her most recent release marks the second book of hers that I found just okay (and more on that momentarily). Lucky Caller had a promising premise: Nina takes a radio broadcasting class her senior year, finds herself in a randomly formed group that somehow includes her childhood friend Jamie who she’s been trying to avoid, and winds up in the middle of a big mess when everything – the show, her family and things with Jamie – gets really complicated. Here’s the bottom line: this is still very much a story told in the Emma Mills style. She writes about ordinary, flawed characters with relatable struggles, and her stories often meander through plots that are slice-of-life with just a touch of something specifically special related to the interests of her characters. This might be a formula that works well for you (as it has for me in the past). But because such a story is primarily character-driven, it works best if you get on with the main character… and sadly, I just never really connected with Nina (though I did find enough of interest about the story to keep me reading till the end). While I’m not sad I read it, Lucky Caller was a bit of a disappointment overall.

What would your radio show be about? I could definitely do a radio show on books (surprise, surprise), but I also think I’d do a decent job talking about anime. (Sort of related, but if you haven’t yet checked it out actually, Macky & I are now doing a podcast called Fandom Buzzz together.)

Lucky Caller was published on January 14, 2020 by Henry Holt and Co.
I received an ARC from the publisher for review.

If you know me at all, you’ll know I love anime and I’m always up for reading YA stories that boast premises like anime stories I’ve loved. I was very excited about Seven Deadly Shadows, and luckily, this stand-alone YA fantasy read was so dang fun! Our heroine is Kira Fujikawa, who happens to be a shrine priestess at the shrine that has been in her family for generations and she happens to have the ability to see yokai (ghosts and demons). She is faced with the task of learning new skills (both as a warrior and a priestess), as well as gathering seven shinigami (death gods) in order to prepare for a confrontation with Shuten-doji, a demon king who plans to rise during the next blood moon and use the power of an ancient relic to bring about the end of the world. This is a pretty neat set-up for an enjoyable book! It really called to mind a lot of the anime and manga that I’ve personally loved in the past (and you’ll find that the authors mention a couple of them at the end in their author’s note!), so it was all too easy for me to get sucked into and invested in the story. It was well-paced, it featured plenty of Japanese lore and I honestly felt like I flew through the book! It’s not perfect, admittedly, and I could have used a little more fleshing out of the world and these characters (and their relationships). But it was really entertaining, and for that (and the fact that I’m generally into most things that remind me of my favorite animes), I’d say it was worth the read.

What’s your favorite manga series? I am obsessed with the manga for Fruits Basket (which I binge read in 2018). It’s never been eclipsed by any other series as my favorite since the time I read it, even though a few have come close. I just think it’s so entertaining, and I love the story a lot, and the characters even more.

Seven Deadly Shadows was published on January 28, 2020 by Harper Teen.
I received an e-galley from the publisher via Edelweiss for review.


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