Tag Archives: recommended

Monster Paradise (Web Novel)

Title: Monster Paradise

Author: Nuclear Warhead Cooked in Wine

Chapters: 989 (Ongoing)

Location: https://www.wuxiaworld.co/Monster-Paradise/

Lin Huang mysteriously one day was given a goldfinger and sent to another world. His abilities allow him to capture monsters into cards. Posing as a monster tamer, he aims to become the strongest.

This has a somewhat rough story, but I quickly got into it and enjoyed it quite a bit. I like the combination of card game mechanics, monster capture/raising, and the gradual power increases of a cultivation novel.

The monsters Lin Huang captures grow and develop as he does. Initially they’re all pretty blank-slate, but as they grow more powerful and intelligent, they start exhibiting more distinct personalities. Some of these lead to a lot of humor, such as one of the sword-fighting monsters developing an obsession with vegetables (and getting very possessive of his snacks).

The worldbuilding varies. The beginning is extremely confusing, and I’m still unclear what a goldfinger is referring to (it seems to be some kind of known card type in a game, but the oblique reference just doesn’t work for me). It’s almost completely irrelevant that Li Huang was pulled from another world, and the story would have worked just as well if he hadn’t been.

I don’t really care about characters other than Li Huang and his ever-expanding collection of monsters. I do like how the antagonists get a reasonable amount of development but so far haven’t stuck around for ages. They get dealt with fairly quickly, or else they get out of the spotlight so the plot isn’t bogged down in the same place for too long.

The story does play around in several different genres. Some of the monsters Li Huang hunts ends up more like a mystery story, as he has to investigate corpses and clues to try to find the killer. Some of them are straight up fights. And some of the progression, like him teaching a class for a semester, are kind of random. I didn’t mind the random bits too much but I can see where it would bother others.

Overall I thought this was still a fairly enjoyable read, and I’m kind of upset now that I’ve caught up and can no longer blow through multiple chapters a day. I rate this story Recommended.

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Record of Wortenia War (Web Novel)

Title: Record of Wortenia War

Author: Ryota Hori

Ryouma is a high school student who was summoned to another world. Unfortunately for his summoner, he’s also someone with a well-deserved reputation for terrifying retaliation. After killing his summoner and escaping the castle, Ryouma sets off to make his own life in this new world.

I saw this is coming out officially and got curious enough to check out the web novel. So this review is based on a version of the story that may differ from the official books (which I am planning to get as soon as they’re released).

In general the story is aware enough of the genre tropes to not get too bogged down in them. Ryouma’s reaction to being summoned is a classic example: he takes only a few seconds to orient himself, decide whoever did this is not someone he wants to negotiate with, and kills them all.

On the other hand, this still doesn’t save the story from introducing a pair of sisters who were slaves, who of course immediately swear undying loyalty (and further slavery) to Ryouma. They’re the worst characters by far, with the most forgettable personalities, and the only saving grace is that they have a minor role after their initial introduction.

The heart of the story is Ryouma as he works his way up from a relatively powerless adventurer to a leader. I really liked the deep look at leadership. This mostly happens through examining other existing leaders and Ryouma’s analysis of their decisions.

Lupis, for example, is presented as fundamentally a good person yet a terrible leader. Her propensity to value loyalty the most means she ends up surrounded by people who can only agree with her and can’t see the problems in her strategies. Or even if they can see, dare not say anything, because to disagree is to be a traitor. I loved watching Ryouma initially support her, try to help her develop, and eventually conclude that he can’t help someone who won’t take honest criticism.

Ryouma, in contrast, is all about practicalities. He doesn’t fall into the trap of “the ends justify the means,” but he’s willing to use dirtier means if that’s what the situation calls for. Like using rumors to exaggerate his devilish reputation to reduce causalities, or hiring known bandit groups to raid enemy villages so they’ll pull back some troops. Ryouma’s style of leadership looks more at what motivates people and how he can tap into that to get them moving in the direction he wants. He’d rather enable his subordinates than try to do everything himself, and he’s capable of working with all kinds of people.

There’s also a group of summoned people working nefarious schemes in the background, but so far that’s been a very slow burning plot.

Overall, although there are places where the story stumbles, it’s been a lot of fun to follow. The first book doesn’t give the best idea of what the series will be like going forward, but once he gets dragged into the civil war in the second book, the story really gets going. I rate this book Recommended.

That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime (Anime)

Title: That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime
Episodes: 1-25

Mikami Satoru was an ordinary man, until the day a mugger ends his life and sends his spirit to another world. Reincarnated as a slime monster named Rimuru Tempest, he fumbles his way through meetings with dragons, goblins, ogres, and more in this brand-new world.

So now that the first season is completely over, I thought I’d throw a few thoughts out there.

The first two major arcs are definitely the strongest. The initial exploration of this new world, culminating in meeting Shizu, and the Orc Lord arc were both a lot of fun whether it was anime, manga, or light novel portraying them.

The last two arcs, unfortunately, are a step down in several respects. I never liked the Milim arc much, and cutting down the number of episodes adapting it doesn’t help an already weak plot with Charbydis. The major characters here basically show up, fail to pose a credible threat, and resolve much too fast.

Similarly, the last big arc with Rimuru turning teacher doesn’t have enough focus on the kids who are supposed to be at the center of it all. In both cases, the weaknesses were present in the light novels, but not as strongly because of other interesting content to balance it out. I still hope Rimuru’s journey to the capital gets animated as an OVA, as that had several amusing encounters that the anime completely cut out.

The last two episodes are special episodes. One is a standalone episode about Shizu and a particular demon who will later meet Rimuru, and the last is a recap of the series with Veldora and Ifrit voicing some of the scenes from Veldora’s diary (the short stories at the end of every manga volume). I liked Shizu’s episode better, as it at least provides some new material. Veldora’s diary was a recap coming right on the heels of another episode with a lot of recap (plus they skipped some of the funnier bits of his diary anyway, like how he found manga through Rimuru’s memories and took it as sacred texts).

Overall I still enjoyed my time each week with the show, but I think after the Orc Lord arc the quality does go down a lot. That said, I’m looking forward to season 2, which has already been announced, as it will cover some of my favorite moments in the web novel. (The light novels covering those arcs haven’t come out yet in English.) I rate this series Recommended.

Campfire Cooking in Another World with My Absurd Skill

Title: Campfire Cooking in Another World with My Absurd Skill
JP Title: Tondemo Skill de Isekai Hourou Meshi

Not linking because this is getting published. Amazon has a good-sized sample. I read chapters 1-129.

Mukouda was a regular office worker who got caught accidentally in the hero summoning of three teenagers. Excusing himself from the situation, he goes off to find a job somewhere more peaceful than his arrival point, but his journey out is interrupted by a fenrir who insists on joining him for his cooking. Now he’s stuck trying to fill up his eternally-hungry companions, but at least he’s got an ability to buy things from an online supermarket.

I read the web novel version, so I’m not sure how much this changes from the novel version. The set up alone is amusing. Mukouda can see what’s coming as far as “heros” are concerned: war. Since he’d rather just be left alone to live a peaceful life, he asks for an allowance and high-tails it out of there. It’s a pity a legendary beast smells his cooking and gets addicted to being fed.

But Fer turns into an amusing ally, even if Mukouda has to work not to be bullied. Pretty much nothing can stand against the fenrir, who is willing to kill anything he deems tasty. So Mukouda does get a more-or-less peaceful life. He keeps gaining allies, as well, both in other people and more familiars. Ironically, they think of him as a legendary Tamer, and the few glimpses we get of the teenage heros confirms Mukouda has gotten far, far stronger than they have, despite all their Hero bonuses.

This is much more of a slice-of-life novel, with a great deal of attention devoted to the various meals Mukouda is preparing. Because of that, the pacing can feel really slow at times. I enjoyed the various bits of humor, but I do wish the story had included recipes, because it doesn’t get in depth enough to follow along.

Overall, this isn’t going to be a story for everyone. But for those who enjoy a quieter travel story about a boy and his (completely oversized and ridiculously overpowered) dog, this would be a good one to check out. Recommended.

The Dungeoneers (The Dungeoneers #1)

Title: The Dungeoneers

Author: Jeffery Russell

Series: The Dungeoneers #1

Durham has a quiet life as a city guard, until a case of mistaken identity assigns him to a group of dwarves who are professional dungeon-crawlers. Their hunt for a necromantic artifact leads them deep into an ancient ruin, and the centuries-old secrets hiding within could destroy them all . . .

This was fun. It’s at once both a bit of a spoof on typical fantasy and gaming conventions, and a more serious look at what would happen if dungeons were tackled by a team of professionals instead of a typical random group of adventurers.

I particularly liked the chickens.

The dwarves are clever in more than just the usual ways, too. When Durham reveals he’s an orphan, the collective horror is hilarious. Because being an orphan means he’s obviously set up for some trope about his ancestry or potential to trigger, and that’s the kind of thing that turns a job into an “adventure.”

The ending was also hilarious. Between all the shenanigans that mess up what’s supposed to be the grand finale, and especially the final fate for the villain, the comedy portion was strong.

Overall this is a good read. The personalities of the crew, the traps in the dungeon, and the inadvertent adventure that sneaks up on them was fun. I rate this book Recommended.

Ancient Barons and the Returned Assassin (Code of Rainbow #2)

Title: Ancient Barons and the Returned Assassin

Author: Weiqi Wang

Series: Code of Rainbow #2

Soarame is busy learning all he can at school so that he can become an Expert wizard and start to uncover some of the secrets in his life. But when a threatening message appears, he realizes Rodka, who already graduated and left, is in danger. Soarame and his friends are determined to help, even though they can’t leave campus. Magic can do many things . . .

I really liked this. The beginning is a bit rough, as it’s not immediately obvious there was a timeskip from the previous book, so I was a bit confused at how much farther along everyone was. But I soon settled in for an enjoyable ride.

Soarame has grown up some, and so have his friends. There’s little hints of romance here and there, although both Soarame and the girl he likes are terminally shy and unable to make the first move. The Dragons and Empires team he was dreaming about in the previous book is now a reality, as his magic has advanced enough to make him capable of playing in more than a practice match.

I liked Eric, too. He’s a new addition to Soarame’s group of friends and his team—the missing Darkness player that Halgon should’ve been, if Halgon were there. Like many of Soarame’s friends, he’s got his own share of secrets. As with Halgon, the revelation of those secrets casts an interesting light on all of his earlier actions.

The magimals remain as cute and funny as ever. They’re still pretty young, but they’re big enough to help out more. I also liked seeing the wild ones, although I imagine taming a wild one might be more successful if you didn’t approach them with demands to basically become slaves. They are intelligent enough to see that as a very bad idea.

Overall this was another excellent story, and I can’t wait for the third book to be released.

Arcane (The Arinthian Line #1)

Title: Arcane

Author: Sever Bronny

Series: The Arinthian Line #1

Augum’s life shatters when the distant Legion proves his town is not too small to conquer. But though he loses much, he gains a power he never suspected. And with that power comes the chance to build a new life for himself, with a teacher, a home, and friends. But the Legion is determined to control or crush those with power, and Augum and his mentor are a powerful draw.

This was good, although it didn’t stand out to me much. There were a few plot twists that I expected, which felt a bit hammered in. Augum’s family is one of the expected ones.

I didn’t care so much for the magic system. I have no problem with the grades of magic and how they’re awarded, but the level of spells is a bit weird, and it is confusing why different elements seem to have the same spells. For example, I can totally buy “create a light” magic existing across multiple elements, manifesting differently per element but still roughly the same. It’s a bit harder to believe lightning magic will execute repair spells, and that repair is such a low-level spell when it can be used for such massive things even by beginners. Also I would have liked to see magic used more outside the standard system, as it’s made clear the standards were developed by a body of mages and don’t seem to be actual limits of the power.

I did mostly like the characters. Augum’s journey goes through several phases. When he finally gets friends they work together well, and the girls add some depth. I’m sure the prince will turn out not to be a total brat, but right now it feels like he needs a good spanking before all the goodwill. He’d make a terrible king, everyone knows it, and no one will say it to his face until the villain at the end. And given who’s saying it, I can’t imagine that will have much impact.

Overall I’d be interested to see where this goes next, as it looks like we’ve pushed past most of the more standard developments and are venturing into new territory. I rate this book Recommended.