Monthly Archives: October 2020

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 24 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 24   

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: September 2, 2008

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/208 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

A group of Arrancars has arrived in Kakura Town, led by Grimmjow Jeagerjaques. Their mission is to find anyone with even a hint of spiritual pressure… and destroy them. Ikkaku faces a fierce opponent, but the bald Soul Reaper doesn’t know when to give up and continues to fight, despite the odds against him. He can’t help but remember to a fight he’d been in years previously against an opponent who valued his fighting skills and gave him some sound advice.

Toshiro Hitsugaya is often underestimated because of his lack of height and his youthful appearance. The Arrancar he faces is no exception. Meanwhile, Renji is engaged in a fight of his own, and his bankai doesn’t seem to be doing the trick, earning the other’s disdain. Due to all the strange spiritual pressure, Ururu is drawn from her bed, to Jinta’s dismay, fearful of what may happen if he cannot get her under control.

Not all Arrancars are created equal, apparently. Created by Aizen, through the use of the Hogyoku, they “are numbered according to the order of (their) birth, beginning with the number 11. The most gifted killers… receive the numbers one through ten , in descending order of their lethality.” These are known as the Espada. And among these is present in Kakura Town, Espada Sexta—Grimmjow. Small surprise that Ichigo finds himself battling this opponent.

Things are looking pretty grim for everyone (except the Arrancars) who belittle their opponents as being unworthy. But then Rangiku Matumoto receives a call she’s been waiting for from Soul Society, concerning the gentei kaijo (restriction removal). Apparently there is something that keeps Soul Reapers from operating at peak levels when in the World of the Living. Now that they can use more of their powers, perhaps the tide will turn!

Ichigo, however, has never been subject to these restrictions. He battles against Grimmjow himself. Is he up to the challenge, or will he require the intervention of a deux ex machina to save him? What of Uryu, who feels the spiritual pressure of the Arrancars but has promised to have nothing to do with the Soul Reapers? Will he find a way around that? Or will he be forced to sit on the sidelines.

This volume of Bleach is pretty battle heavy as the Soul Reapers and Ichigo square off against Grimmjow and his Arrancars. I like the way the battles aren’t all one-sided or weighed in the favor of the heroes. They’re more realistic in that the good guys don’t always win, and yes, they can get hurt. Sometimes die. I found what happened in Ichigo’s battle with Grimmjow very interesting, as well as its aftermath.

But of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. To paraphrase the Carpenters, “They’ve only just begun….” Good volume of Bleach, looking forward to the next one.

Wednesday Briefs: October 21, 2020

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Ancalagon: Chapter Ten by Cia Nordwell
 

It was the feet. Those broad soles and flat toes digging into the earth were made to move soundlessly. And the subtle green striping would probably help the creature to blend in amazingly with the foliage around us, if he wanted to.  

Based on the way he stood, feet spread apart and four arms braced, two on the torso and two outward facing me, he wasn’t hiding at all. The planet did not have any structures or even ruins that indicated an advanced civilization or culture; nothing to show manufacturing or building.  

No way to cover up making the textile

 

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Book Review: Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

Felix Ever After     

Author: Kacen Callender

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

American release date:  May 5, 2020

Format/Genre/Length: Hardback/YA LGBT Romance/368 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

To say Felix Love’s life is complicated would be an understatement. He lives with his father in Harlem, his mother having walked out on them years before to start a new family. His father has sacrificed a lot to provide for Felix, including his tuition at St. Catherine’s and the summer arts program, as well as his top surgery—Felix is transgendered. While his father is supportive of that, for some reason he finds it difficult to use Felix’s name, and often just calls him kid.

Felix’s best friend for years is Ezra. The two of them are thick as thieves and do everything together. Ezra comes from privilege. His parents have bought him his own apartment, and Felix often sleeps over there. One day, Felix’s world is shattered when he walks through the gallery at school only to find photos of his old self hanging there, framed and displayed for everyone to see, as well as his dead name. Felix is beyond mortified as the faithful Ezra removes the evidence of someone’s dastardly deed. Who could be so cruel, and why?

Felix is working hard on his art, wanting to be accepted at the prestigious Brown University, hopefully on a full scholarship. Those are far and few between, and another student at St. Cat’s, a guy named Declan who once dated Ezra, is also planning to go there and snag the full ride too. Felix doesn’t think it’s fair because Declan comes from money. Plus he’s obnoxious and full of himself.

Felix writes emails to his mother, but he never sends them. He hasn’t heard from her since he told her he was transgendered, years before. The emails sit in his draft folders… all 476 of them. Someday maybe he’ll actually hit send on all of them and flood her inbox. Felix can’t help but wonder why she doesn’t love him anymore?. And why can’t he find a special someone, as his peers have? Even Ezra is dating someone, a guy named Austin, and seems happy. Why can’t Felix find love? Is he so unloveable?

When Felix becomes convinced that Declan is responsible for the gallery fiasco, he determines to find out for sure—even if he has to catfish him to do it.

This book was recommended to me by my daughter, and I devoured it in like two days, it was so good. I loved Felix so much, and I ached for him as he questioned his life, his art, his identity… not unusual for a teen, but even harder for a trans teen. I think it’s great that we’re seeing more books with trans characters, someone other trans people can identify with. But even more so, I think books like this help other people come to an understanding of what it means to be trans. For many people, it’s a new and alien concept. Sure, trans people have always been around, but the discussion has never been so open as it is now. I think books like this one are important in gaining a better understanding of other people. Diversity is something to be celebrated, not feared. What a boring world if we all thought and did the same things and if we all looked alike.

I hope to see more from this talented author and highly recommend this book for anyone, especially romantics.

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 23 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 23     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: June 3, 2008

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/208 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

 Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

All is not well with Aizen’s group, when Ulquiorra makes his report, explaining why he did not kill Ichigo and the others. Grimmjow maintains that he is weak, perhaps afraid, while Ulquiorra maintains that perhaps Ichigo will be of use to them in the future.

Back in the World of the Living, Ichigo informs the Soul Reapers that they are not welcome to stay in his tiny room (or his home) and they are responsible for finding their own digs for as long as they are on assignment there. Matsumoto asks Orihime if she can stay with her, Ikkaku and Yumichika strike out on their own, and Renji decides to head to Uruhara’s place. Ichigo explains to Rukia why she can’t stay with him anymore, since his family have seen her, but she manages to circumvent his objection and get herself invited to stay, to his chagrin.

Aware of the presence of the Soul Reapers in Kakura Town, Grimmjow receives the orders he was hoping for—take a few of the other Arrancars and kill anyone with even a hint of spiritual pressure. When Ichigo and Rukia come face to face with their first Arrancar, Ichigo makes the startling discovery that Rukia has her spiritual pressure back! She proceeds to demonstrate what she can do with her unusual white sword.

The Arrancars have split up to pursue individual targets, and Ikkaku finds himself fighting Edarod, a fight which he swears will be to the death, whether his or the other’s. Yumichiki contacts the Soul Society to give them certain instructions, including orders for Ikkaku’s funeral!

In bonus stories, we get glimpses of the characters set prior to this time, and we get our first look at the Society of Female Soul Reapers.

The plot thickens as the Arrancars, aka Aizen’s Dream Team, are thrown into the mix. And they have just begun… I keep wondering what makes Aizen so appealing that people just automatically do what he tells them? And yet they do.

I love the scene with Rukia and Ichigo’s family where she sweet talks them into letting her stay there. I notice that in the manga there is more about Orihime’s feelings for Ichigo then in the anime, at least in my opinion. In fact, she is very jealous of Rukia and how close they seem. I wonder if that will end differently in the manga, since nothing happened in the anime in that regard.

There is an ongoing story between chapters involving Kon, who being Kon, has taken over Hanamoto’s body. I love this characterization of Ichigo: “No matter how strong I get, I can’t protect them (in reference to the spirits he can see). The realization cuts my heart like cold steel.”  This is Ichigo all over, and is probably the largest motivating factor for everything he has done or will do, his overwhelming need to protect everyone, especially his friends and family. This is what drives him, what keeps him going… and what ensures he will never give up, never surrender.

Also in the bonus stories is a teaser concerning Renji and Rukia that I hope to see more of. Another great volume of bleach, looking forward to the next one!

Wednesday Briefs: October 14, 2020

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Ancalagon Chapter Eight; by Cia Nordwell
 

He was trotting along ahead of me, weaving through bushes I had to hack a path through, when his rigid stance caught my eye. “What is it, boy?” I spoke quietly to avoid spooking him or alerting whatever had caused his alarm.  

A loud blast overhead sent me into a crouch at his side. He was belly down flat to the earth, his ears folded flat and head swinging wildly.  

What was that? We’d walked most of the day. I’d observed several insects, but for all his ability to walk far quieter than I could, the prey animals must have

 
 

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Wednesday Briefs: October 7, 2020

 

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Phases of Moon: Part 38 by J. Alan Veerkamp

“I can’t read this tonight.”

With a beleaguered sigh, Sawyer tossed the paperback on the end table. The prose was questionable, the plot barely existent, and he only purchased it because the swarthy pirate on the cover reminded him of Jimmy.

“You’re so sad, Sawyer.” He didn’t usually talk to himself, but the empty house felt abnormally hollow this evening.

Jada had left for her pottery class over an hour ago. Or was it her yoga class night? For the life of him, he couldn’t remember her schedule. Ugh, he’d been such a lousy husband. No wonder she’d wanted out.

 

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