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Book Review: Soul Eater, Vol 8 by Atsushi Ohkubo

Soul Eater, Vol 8       

Author: Atsushi Ohkubo

Publisher: Yen Press

American release date: April 8, 2014

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/188 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

It’s Black Star against the bodyguard Mifune! Mifune doesn’t have much choice in the matter, as the little witch Angela is being held hostage. Black Star has come to help Sid, who is to destroy the demon tool Mifune admires Black Star’s Uncanny sword, but is Tsubaki any match for Mifune’s Infinite One-sword style? When Tsibaki tries to persuade Mifune to become a teacher at DWMA, where he can work with children, he tells her the story of how he and Angela met.

Back at DWMA, Maka is still recovering in the infirmary, and gets annoyed when Soul and Black Star begin whispering together in front of her and won’t explain what’s going on.

Something evil is on the loose in Death City, as evidenced by the snake which has wriggled its way into a little girl, out for a walk with her mommy. When Sid returns with the blueprints for the demon tool, he’s surprised that Shinigami-sama tells him to seal it inside the Secret Vault for now, rather than destroy it. What can Shinigami-sama want with such a thing? Isn’t it dangerous to keep it intact? What if someone managed to get their hands on it?

Back at DWMA, Maka has returned to class. Tsubaki is concerned about Black Star. He keeps challenging other people and getting into fights. But why? Dr. Stein is trying to teach the students about cooperation and teamwork, but that isn’t working out so well. Meanwhile, at Arachnophobia headquarters, an unexpected player shows up in the form of Arachne’s younger sister, Medusa!

Death the Kid is throwing a party, and Tsubaki has made all the food, although Liz keeps taking credit for having done it, in order to impress a guy. But Patty and Soul put the kibosh on that plan pretty effectively! Kid unexpectedly tells Patty and Liz to come with him to the Sahara, by orders of the Shinigami. Their mission is to stop the Runaway Express. Shinigami suspects that it’s being powered by a Demon Tool, so they must overtake it and capture the tool! However, that means going toe to toe with with the Fisher King!

Crona is thrilled to be making friends at DWMA, even if Ragnarok can be rather surly to them at the best of times. But things are looking up for him… until a certain someone from his past shows up, someone he has always had trouble saying no to. Will Medusa use the child she was so quick to toss out? And for what purpose?

Two of my favorite things about this action-packed volume of Soul Eater are seeing Mifune again and seeing Death the Kid in action again. I like Mifune, and I hope that ultimately they’ll be able to persuade him to become a teacher at DWMA. With his love of children, I think he would be a natural. But for that to happen, there has to be a place there for Angela too. Which means some attitude readjustment regarding witches. As for Death, he’s one of my favorite characters, quirks and all. Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how very powerful he is, and watching him in action only serves to reinforce that.

My only lament is there is not much of Maka and Soul, but now that Maka is feeling better, I hope to see more of them in future volumes. Also, not much of Spirit, Maka’s father. I can’t help but feel he is actually growing and maturing. He does love his daughter very much (plus I think he’s cute lol).

The big mystery here concerns Shinigami and his growing collection of demon tools. Does he have ulterior motives for not destroying them? I don’t believe he’s doing it for bad reasons, maybe misguided ones? Hard to say at this point, too little information.

Another great volume, looking forward to more of the same!

Wednesday Briefs: April 8, 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.

Unicorn Quests: Chapter Twenty-three by Cia Nordwell

Tinn’il took one look at the mist and withdrew inside my cloak. I glanced over my shoulder. “Londe?” His horn was glimmering, but he was calm.

“I don’t sense anything.”

Anything evil, he meant.

“Are we going in there, Papa?” Colete asked. She was leaning on Londe. He hung his head over her healing withers, gently nosing her cheek.

“We have to, Tera says. This is the way to Tinn’il’s family.” I didn’t want to take my family through the mist, but I couldn’t leave them behind unprotected either.

“I keep telling you I’m not your enemy,” Tera said. She

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Wednesday Briefs: April 1, 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.

Unicorn Quests: Chapter Twenty-two by Cia Nordwell

“Oh, thank the spirits. You found him, Tera!”

“Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!” The locus poked his head out of my cloak, and his eyes couldn’t be any bigger. Those ears were unrolled and standing up straight, quivering.

“Who are you? What have you done with our son? If you harm him, nothing will save you from a torturous existence before a gruesome death,” a female hissed.

Their faces were larger versions of the little Being’s in my arms, the female’s features leaner with a sharp chin. I couldn’t tell their coloring, since they were appearing in the flames. But the young

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Book Review: Bleach, Vol 18 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 18       

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: April 3, 2007

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

The time has arrived for Rukia’s execution, the Sokyoku has been released and Rukia has been strapped to the scaffold. She awaits her fate with resignation, grateful to those who attempted to rescue her. The halberd assumes its true form as the firebird king, ready to impale Rukia and complete the sentence. Only a deus ex machina can save her now.

And here one is, in the person of Ichigo Kurosaki! And Ichigo is single-handedly holding back the firebird king itself!  How can that be? Instead of being grateful, Rukia calls him a fool and asks him why he came back, warning him Byakuya will surely kill him this time. Meanwhile, the spectators below are marveling at what has happened and wondering who in the world was able to do that.

Before the bird can strike a second time, which would surely be fatal to them both, Ukitake arrives, to Kyoraku’s relief, and proceeds to destroy the Sokyoku. At that, Ichigo destroys the scaffold and takes Rukia in hand. Can her rescue possibly be this easy?

Of course not.

Ichigo tosses Rukia down to Renji and tells him to take her to safety, as he turns to confront Byakuya. Sai Fon sends her people after those who are working to rescue Rukia, then finds herself facing a foe of her own—her former captain, Yoruichi! Ukitake and Kyoraku are about to attempt to talk to Sai Fon, but they are called to task by the Head-Captain himself, and have no choice but to face him down together!

This volume of Bleach is certainly not lacking in action. Everybody seems to be fighting against someone! And the lines between the good guys and the bad guys is most definitely blurred, as two captains—the first two captains to graduate from the Soul Reaper Academy—choose to do what they believe to be right, even if it means defying old man Yama.

Ichigo is his usual cocky self. Remember he’s only fifteen, and still believes himself invincible. But besides that, he has strong sense of honor, as well as a strong desire to protect his family and friends from harm. He won’t allow Rukia to give up, no matter what, a very admirable sentiment indeed. I don’t find manga-Rukia nearly as wishy-washy as I did anime-Rukia. Maybe that’s because we are more privy to her inner thoughts in the manga than in the anime.

I was especially thrilled to see so much of Shunsui in this volume, especially as he is so obviously on the side of right. He and Ukitake are such good friends and so very much in sync with one another. It’s very heart-warming. (On the other hand, although I write fanfiction, I have no desire to slash them, although I’m fairly sure that’s been done already. I don’t see either one of them as being gay, and they certainly aren’t written that way. I mean, have you ever watched Shunsui with the women? Seriously?) One thing about the manga that I love is that I sometimes end up having questions answered that bothered me from watching the anime. Such as what’s wrong with Ukitake. He’s always treated as if he’s fragile and might keel over at any moment. But common sense says that if he’s strong enough to become a Soul Reaper, he’s not a wilting flower either. Well, the answer is at the back of this volume, which has bios of both Ukitake and Shunsui. Apparently Ukitake has a lung ailment! That explains much and answers that question.

I like the little vignettes in between chapters involving those left behind in the World of the Living. Kon (in Ichigo’s body) has become involved in a soccer game with Jinta and Ururu and Karin, and notices that Jinta has his Kon body! The result is hilarious and is still ongoing.

I liked the scenes between Yoruichi and Sai Fon. I think you’d have to be pretty blind not to realize that Yoriuchi and Kiskue are a couple. But also, Sai Fon has a huge crush on Yoruichi, which probably contributes to her behavior at times.

With most of the strength of the Sereitei arrayed against them, can Ichigo and his friends pull off this daring rescue? Only time will tell. Looking forward to the next volume!

 

Book Review: The Killing Moon (Dreamblood #1) by N.K. Jemisin

The Killing Moon (Dreamblood, Book 1)   

Author: N.K. Jemisin

Publisher: Orbit Books

American release date: 2012

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Fantasy /448 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Guajareh is a city of peace, prospering under the loving guidance of Prince Eninket. Even in death is peace, for that is the job of the Gatherers of the city. They ease souls into Ina-Karekh through the most beautiful of dreams. The Gatherers serve the Goddess, Hatawa. They work primarily at night, under the auspices of the Dreaming Moon. One such Gatherer is Ehiru. He is given a commission to ease a man of the Bromarte, Charleron of Wenkinslan. But things do not go as they should, and Charleron tries to warn Ehiru that he is being used. Disturbed, Ehiru returns to the Hatawa, expecting to be reprimanded, concerned for his sixteen-year-old apprentice, Nijiri. Despite what has happened, though, he is given a new commission from the Prince himself, who is Ehiru’s brother.

Nijiri had been meant to have Una-une as his mentor, but the man’s untimely death has changed that, and he has been placed under Ehiru’s wing instead. Nijiri is not opposed to the change, although saddened by the reason, for he has deep feelings for Ehiru, despite the fact that his new mentor is forty years of age. He has known Ehiru for most of his life and would do anything for him. To Nijiri, age is immaterial, as well as gender, although he knows it is not allowed for Gatherers to indulge in such passions. But being near Ehiru and learning from him are enough for Nijiri.

Sunandi is from the neighboring country of Kisua, sent to Gujaareh by her master Kinja She Kalabsha to study Gujaareen magic as part of her apprenticeship. But that doesn’t mean that the two countries agree in the way they do things. Sunandi senses something wrong in Gujaareh. If only her master hadn’t died.  She finds Prince Eninket charming, and rather seductive. Doesn’t mean she trusts him. And she certainly can’t afford to let him find out what her true purpose is in being there.

Sunandi is summoned to a meeting with General Niyes, who shows her something shocking, and relates to her the strange events of the past few years. He tells her that war is imminent and that she must carry the news back to Kisua as soon and as stealthily as possible. He warns her that her life may be in danger, and the sooner she and her servant Lin leave the better.

That night, however, an unexpected presence turns up in her room—a Gatherer and his apprentice, whose purpose is to send her to Ina-Karekh. Sunandi makes Ehiru see that his so-called commission is nothing less than assassination, sowing seeds of doubt in his mind. When he becomes convinced that she is telling the truth, and that politics are at play here, he realizes he must keep her safe for the sake of all.

This book was recommended to me by my daughter-in-law, and I am so glad she told me about it! N.K. Jemisin weaves a fascinating world, a unique world, with many strange concepts and many people. At first, I was focused on remembering who was who and stumbling over the strange words and ideas, but suddenly I found myself very immersed in the story and the names became real people to me, and I realized I was hooked.

Ehiru is a very conflicted man, whose beliefs are crumbling around him, barely able to hang on, if not for the love and support of Nijiri. Nijiri is wise beyond his years, and it’s hard not to like him, as well as Sunandi. The author modeled much of the belief system and the countries in her novel after those of ancient Egypt, while also drawing on Freud and Jung. The concept of easing people into death seems meant to be a loving form of euthanasia, but obviously there is much room for abuse in such a system.

At the heart of this story is a tale as old as time itself—power and greed, the eternal struggle between right and wrong, life and death,  recognizing what is right and finding the strength and courage to do what must be done. I loved these people so much that I hated to see the book end. Good thing there are two more, even though the first one is filled with a fair amount of heartbreak. I will have to look for more of Jemisin’s books after I finish this trilogy. She is an awesome writer.

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Briefs: March 25, 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.

 

Unicorn Quests: Chapter Twenty-one by Cia Nordwell

“Give me the locus,” I demanded.

She pulled it in tighter to her body, and it squeaked. I huffed out an angry breath and lowered my head, staring directly into her wide eyes. “I will kill you and then take it.” Damn spellcaster. What was she doing with the poor thing? Going to use it for something, probably. A spell or a charm or some of both.

I was getting the picture the locus was a very valuable Being, even if I hadn’t heard of them before. That’s what I got for being part of a race of Beings who

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Wednesday Briefs: March 18, 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.

Here Kitty Kitty: Epilogue part five by Carol Pedroso

“Brian O’Connor, are you listening to me?” Angel struggled to get an arm free but had no success. “You need to loosen your grip before you crack my ribs.” Still no response. Angel sighed and said the one thing they were reasonably sure would get through Brian’s head. “Love, you’re hurting me—”

He’d barely got the last word out before Brian’s grip loosened and his distraught face lifted from Angel’s shoulder where it had been buried for a good hour.

“I nearly lost you.” The tone of their mate’s mind voice sounded like a lost child wanting the reassurance

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