Monthly Archives: February 2021

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 28 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 28         

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: September 1, 2009

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes


Having arrived in Hueco Mundo, Ichigo, Uryu, and Chad find themselves in the middle of a huge desert, facing Los Noches, Aizen’s residence/fortress. But the structure is farther away than it looks, as they find after running toward it for a long time, seemingly drawing no closer. Ah, the illusions of the desert! Meanwhile, Aizen  has gathered his Espada in order to discuss current events. He tells them they have been invaded and not to underestimate the Ryoku, particularly Ichigo. Grimmjow doesn’t seem to be listening to his commander, and wants to head off to dispatch Ichigo immediately, and has to be reminded of his place.

As Ichigo et al take a break in the desert, a strange worm-like creature emerges from the said, with two other odd creatures on its back. It seems to be in pursuit of a small being, who screams in terror. Of course Ichigo can’t sit by and do nothing, so engages the pursuers, only to learn it’s just a game of Eternal Tag (because there is little to do in Hueco Mundo) and the person being pursued is just having fun. She turns out to be a little girl named Nel, who introduces her companions—Pesche and Dondochakka, all three of whom are Hollows. Nel takes an instant shine to Ichigo. Things seem to be going well until the Guardian of the White Sand appears to take down the Hollows for offering aid and comfort to the enemy.

Renji and Rukia appear unexpectedly, to Ichigo’s surprise. Rukia is angry with him for having left the World of the Living before they came back, saying he should have realized they would return to help. Coming to a crossroads, they decide to separate, in order to cover the different paths, promising to meet up afterward. Although Ichigo goes off on his own, Nel is soon running after him, crying. Dondo and Pesche want to follow Nel, but they confusedly end up going down the wrong paths, separating from each other in the process.

Aizen sends for Orihime and sends the others away in order speak with her privately, producing jealousy in two of his female followers, arousing their hatred for the innocent Orihime. Aizen shows off the Hogyuku to her, so now she knows exactly where it is as he tells her he needs her help. Now Orihime knows what she must do. Meanwhile, the battles with the Espadas begin.

Ichigo is determined to rescue Orihime at any cost… it’s what he does. He faces the challenge with the same relentless determination he showed in saving Rukia from being executed. He just does not know the meaning of failure. There is a lot being set up in this volume, sowing the seeds for what is to come. It’s interesting to note that Ulquiorra believes Orihime is one of them, having given her word to help. Those of us who know and have followed her from the start of the series know this can’t be true… can it? We know how honest she is, to a fault. But she is also timid. Is she going along because she gave her word or because she is afraid? Or does she truly have something else in mind?

Ulquiorra is an interesting character, obviously intelligent, and not insensitive to Orihime’s beauty and charms. At the same time, he is a hardened Espada. An interesting dichotomy indeed. I can find nothing redeeming to say about Aizen, though. Nel is also an interesting character, the sort of helpless innocent that Ichigo tends to attract, and whom he automatically defends.

Another great volume of Bleach, can’t wait to see the battles as they unfold.

Book Review: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson


The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek       

Author: Kim Michele Richardson

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

American release date: May 7, 2019

Format/Genre/Length: Hardback/Historical Fiction/320 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes


In the 1930s, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s WPA program created jobs for people so they could work and have money during a difficult time in American history, namely the Great Depression. Instead of just handing money out, they allowed people to work for it, adding to their self-worth as wage earners. One part of that program was the Pack Horse librarians of rural Kentucky. Mostly women, they rode horses/mules/donkeys, traveled on foot or sometimes by boat, through the mountains and across rivers and creeks,  to bring books to people in remote areas of the state.

Cussy Mary is a Pack Librarian, and very happy to be one. She lives with her father Elijah, who is a miner, and she loves the patrons on her route. These are poor people who are barely surviving, much less able to buy books, so the librarians are lights in their lives. Cussy is well loved by her patrons as well, and doesn’t mind reading to those who cannot read themselves. She worries about them, especially the children, who are sick and starving. But there is little she can do, as she and her father are barely subsisting themselves.

There are those who look down on Cussy and her father, because they are different from them. They are, in fact, blue-skinned people, and as such are considered to be colored abnormal because of the tint of their skin. The local doctor finds Cussy’s condition very interesting and wants to take her somewhere so people can study her. She’s reluctant, until circumstances cause her to reconsider her stance since doing so will benefit the people she cares about. All she wants is to be treated like other people, and to enjoy life a little, especially her precious books and patrons. But some people can’t see past the blue shade of her skin to the beautiful soul beneath. Not until she meets a most unusual man.

I fell in love with this book quickly. I have a soft spot for books and librarians, as my daughter is one, and I could see some of her in the spunky yet soft-spoken Cussy. I knew nothing about the Pack Horse Librarians, or about blue-skinned people, and was very interested in learning about them.

I love the way the author writes. You feel like you’re there, experiencing what Cussy goes through – her pain, her joy, her sorrows. And you can’t help but love Cussy yourself. This is a very colorful novel about being who you are and not judging people simply by the color of their skin, something many people in the US still have problems with. The historical information at the end of the book is just icing on the cake.

I liked this book so much, I bought copies for my daughters and my daughters-in-law, and one for myself, since I read a library copy originally. I know I will read this book over, more than once. This book is about life, about love, overcoming hardships, and making the most of what you have, as well as sharing that with the people around you. I hope you all love this book as much as I did.

Wednesday Briefs: February 3, 2021

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 68 by J. Alan Veerkamp

“Don’t snow. Don’t snow. Don’t snow.” Pressed close to the living room window, Jada’s chant fogged the glass as she stared up at the cloud covered sky.

The forecast said otherwise, but she was convinced a storm was on its way, if for no other reason but to punish her for not liking the coming season. The house sat back far enough on the property, shoveling wasn’t practical. It made snowfall particularly troublesome. Thankfully their retired neighbor, Clyde took pity on them and plowed their driveway when the weather turned south for a price of a plate of cookies, because his wife, Darlene always gave away the ones she made to their grandchildren

Click here to read the entire Brief:

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