Category Archives: Reviews

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 15 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 15        Bleach, Vol 15 cover

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: October 3, 2006

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Ishida is facing down the Captain of the 12th Company, Mayuri Kurotsuchi, and is doing very well for himself, despite Kurotsuchi’s immense spiritual pressure and his paralyzing tactics. The captain is so impressed he decides not to kill Ishida, so that he can capture and study him. But Ishida will have none of that, especially after learning the part the Soul Reaper played in the death of his beloved Grandfather. He calls upon a power that amazes Kurotsuchi, who warns him of the devastating side effect of such a move. Will Ishida throw caution to the wind in order to avenge his mentor?

Meanwhile, Yoruichi is determined to teach Ichigo what often takes soul reapers ten years to master—namely, how to bankai—in only three days! In order to do this, she manifests Zangetsu in his physical form and Ichigo must defeat him. But that’s easier said than done, as Ichigo finds himself surrounded by a number of swords and must choose the right one in order to cut Zangetsu down!

Renji, Kira, and Hinamoi are being held in cells until they find themselves unexpectedly released by one of the captains! Meanwhile, a baffled ishida awakens to find himself in the Soul Reaper infirmary, along with Ganju and Chad. Chad feels that all they can do is to stay there and heal and wait for Ichigo to come for them, which he is confident Ichigo will do. Orihime, who was rescued against her will by a random member of the 11th Company, finds herself with members of the 12th Company, namely Yachiru, Kenpachi, Ikkaku, and Yumichika. Kenpachi decides to watch over the girl, confident that where she is, there will Ichigo end up, and he wants to have another battle with Ichigo!

Matsumoto is with Captain Hitsugaya, after she fell asleep in his office, when he learns of the prisoner escape. He knows just where to go, and hopes to arrive there before Hinamori. He knows she blames Gin for Captain Aizen’s death and is determined to avenge him! In the meantime, taking a break from his bankai traning, Ichigo learns some things about Uruhara that he never knew before!

We see more of Ishida than we ever have before, including some backstory, and the last Quincy really shines. If you ever wonder what he’s doing with the others, this volume shows that he definitely belongs among their company. He may be irritating at times, and often insufferable, but he is more talented that I gave him credit for, and loyal to a fault. When he has a difficult decision to make, he doesn’t hesitate to do what’s best for everyone, whether or not it’s best for him personally.

Ichigo’s bankai training is absolutely essential to his growth and development. It’s imperative that he master it, as will become even more evident as the story continues. Watching him train with Zangetsu is great. Ichigo pushes himself constantly, doesn’t know the meaning of defeat, and would never give up. He still has a lot to learn, but he’s definitely on his way to bigger and better things.

The untold story at the end concerns Renji, Kira, and Hinamori as young soul reapers who encounter something beyond their skill level while on a training mission and who decide to handle it as best they can.

Knowing what’s coming, since I already watched the anime, allows me to look for things I missed in that, or things that were missing. It also keeps me from missing the anime too much, since I am revisiting everything. I’ve also started to watch the movies. There is no such thing as boredom when you’re reading these books! Can’t wait to read the next one!

 

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 14 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 14    Bleach, Vol 14 cover

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: August 1, 2006

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

 Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Captain Ukitake, head of the 13th Company, awakens to learn the news of Captain Aizen’s death and decides to look into things for himself. Meanwhile, Ganju is arguing with Hanatoro about rescuing Rukia, on Ichigo’s orders as he faces down Byakuya. Ganju refuses to help the soul reaper who killed his brother! However, he relents when he sees Hanatoro prepare to face down the powerful Byakuya without even a sword!

Mr. Yoruichi has taken the injured Ichigo to safety, to his dismay. But when he wonders how the cat was able to drag him to safety, he is in for a huge surprise! Meanwhile, Ganju is facing Byakuya, who plans to simply walk away from him until he learns that Ganju is a Shiba! Now it’s on! Only Ukitake’s provident arrival saves Ganju’s life.

Ichigo arrives and announces his intention of saving Rukia, despite her protestations, but Byakuya tells Ukitake that he will dispose of the pest. “You’ve got a big mouth, boy,” he tells Ichigo. Can Ichigo defeat such a powerful Soul Reaper? Or will he require some kind of divine intervention?

Orihime has a plan to help Ishida and herself not stand out to the Soul Reapers. They “borrow” some Soul Reaper uniforms in order to be inconspicuous. But when someone asks what squad they belong to, they give the first answer that comes to mind, only to find they chose the wrong one. But help comes from an unexpected source… or is that a trap?

Each volume of Bleach gets more and more exciting! And we learn more and more about the characters. The people you might think you dislike grow on you while some turn out to be wolves in sheep’s clothing! But there is still so much to discover! What about the mask in Ichigo’s pocket? How did it get there and what does it mean? Also, the more we find out about Kiskue Uruhara, the more we don’t know. Former Captain? The plot thickens indeed! I love the scenes of Ichigo learning to use his bankai, and I love Zangetsu! Also, the scenes with Ishida facing down Captain Kurotsuchi are fabulous! The captain is rather different, I have to admit, and difficult to like but very interesting.

Looking forward to the next volume!

Book Review: The Way of the Houseband, Vol 2 by Kousuke Oono

The Way of the Househusband, Vol 2    Way of the Househusband, Vol 2 cover

Author: Kousuke Oono

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: January 21, 2020

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Comedy/160 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

 

Tatsu seems to be under the impression that his body is going to hell, and his attempts to prevent that are annoying Miku. He goes to a fitness gym, where the ladies find him to be a little intimidating.

Tatsu is growing an assortment of herbs and vegetables on the balcony of his and Miku’s apartment, intending to use them in cooking and making tea. However, he is under surveillance by some zealous police officers who think he is up to something nefarious. Trailing him on his bike, they watch his meeting with Masa, which only reinforces their suspicions as they prepare to pounce!

In his enthusiasm for the way of the househusband, Tatsu’s household gadgets and hobbies are beginning to overwhelm their small apartment! Miku suggests he sell some of it at a flea market. But he discovers that another gang is working that territory and intimidating some of the vendors. Tatsu feels compelled to step in!

Tatsu goes with Masa to his apartment and is appalled at what he finds, especially in the laundry room. It’s up to Tatsu to aid Masa in this turf war!

Miku is in the market  for a new car and takes Tatsu along with her. Tatsu is ready, willing, and able to give his opinion on every model she looks at. Will he be a help or a hindrance? And will any vehicle live up to his standards?

Tatsu is teaching Masa the finer points of shopping when they run into another former Yakuza named Tora. The two men know what must be done to settle old scores!

When Tatsu does anything he gives it his all, whether it’s cooking or helping out the housewives’ volleyball team. When they find themselves in a practice match with a team composed of all men, will Tatsu be an asset or a liability?

Miku gets to leave work early one day. Running into Tatsu, she accompanies him on his mission. He says he’s gonna throwdown today. Say what? When Miku’s parents come for an unexpected visit, Tatsu shines with his domestic skills. But when Miku’s father wants to play catch with the son he never had, Tatsu is unsure how to respond.

Another wonderful volume of The Way of the Househusband! I know I’ve said it before, but I absolutely love love love this series. Tatsu is sooooo adorable! He tries so hard, and even when he doesn’t succeed, he learns from his experience, not to mention he is most apologetic. I love the relationship between him and Miku, and the way they are obvious equals, each one looking out for the other. I’m still hoping to see more of their backstory. Maybe in the next volume.

I forgot to mention the bonus stories in the first volume. There are three more in this one, one of which involves their cat Gin, who is also adorable. The artwork is wonderful. I did notice a couple of videos on Youtube. They should totally make this into an anime. The next volume comes out in May. Guess I’ll have to re-read the first two to get my Tatsu fix lol

I suggest you buy a copy of this manga for yourself and a copy for someone you love. I bought my two daughters each a copy of both volumes. Can’t wait for the next one!

 

 

 

Book Review: The Way of the Househusband, Vol 1 by Kousuke Oono

The Way of the Househusband, Vol 1      Way of the Househusband, Vol 1 cover

Author: Kousuke Oono

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: September 17, 2019

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Comedy/160 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Once a fierce Yakuza known as “the immortal Dragon”, Tatsu has chosen to walk a different path now—the way of the househusband. He is very meticulous in everything he does, whether it’s meal preparation, laundry, or feeding the cat. He takes each duty very seriously and does the best he can, always eager to learn new ways to improve his performance.

The trouble is, people remember him for what he was, or they make assumptions based on his seemingly fierce appearance. On the other hand, his past experiences often guide him through the ins and outs of his current situation. When a shyster salesman with a shoddy product calls on him, he is more than happy to demo the man’s product.

One of Tatsu’s former men, Masa, is searching for his boss, wondering where he went. A chance encounter at the grocery store reunites them.  Masa wants to know why his former boss quit the Yakuza, so Tatsu invites him to take a walk with him.

Tatsu is headed out on urgent business. He doesn’t let a chance encounter with members of a rival gang deter him, not when there is a sale in progress! This is a great opportunity to show these yakuza the way of the househusband!

Tatsu’s wife, Miku, is crazy about Crime Catch Poli-cure, and is a huge collector. Tatsu plans to surprise her for her birthday with an addition to her collection.

On learning that the chairperson of the Women’s Association is coming to his apartment, Tatsu has to prepare, which includes utilizing the automatic floor cleaner, which brings unexpected results.

Watching a young boy for a neighbor leads to unexpected complications for Tatsu. Afterward, he teaches some supposedly tough guys about the way of the househusband.

While out shopping with Miku one day, Tatsu is dismayed to learn that people find him intimidating. How to change his image?

It’s only the first volume of this series, but I’m already in love with it, and am half way through the second volume and have pre-ordered the third. Tatsu, the former Yakuza, is completely adorable. He wears an apron with a shiba on it! He takes everything he does very seriously, determined to do his best. He and Miku are an awesome couple! This series is funny, sweet, romantic, and endearing. I love the artwork. Kousuke Oono does a fabulous job. The covers featuring Tatsu are priceless!

I guess you would call this a slice-of-life manga, as there isn’t one plot line but a series of incidents in Tatsu’s life as a househusband. There is a brief glance into how Tatsu was when he met Miku. I’m hoping to see more in a future volume. I want to see what brought these two together, and was she responsible for him quitting the yakuza way of life.

I can’t say enough good things about this series. I am looking forward to reading it for a long time to come!

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 13 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 13      Bleach, Vol 13 cover

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: June 6, 2006

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

 

Despite his size and brute strength, Chad has been bested by 8th Squad Captain Kyoraku. When his lieutenant, Nanao, arrives with an important message concerning the death of Captain Aizen of 5th Squad, she offers to finish Chad off, as probably the Ryoka are the cause of his death. But Shunsui tells her no, they can’t be sure of that, and wants him taken to the 4th Squad instead, for healing. Shunsui sighs. “Things are getting complicated.”

Meanwhile, Ichigo is battling Kenpachi Zaraki, who is one scary and fierce dude, which makes Zaraki’s lieutenant, Yachiru, happy because it makes Kenny happy. Ichigo becomes cocky, which translates to careless, and is run through by Zaraki’s sword, to the captain’s disappointment. Bleeding and dismayed, Ichigo recognizes Zangetsu, his zanpaku-tô, who questions him: “Do you want to win or do you want to live?”

Meanwhile, Ganju and Hanataro have reached Rukia’s cell, prepared to liberate her. But there is a slight wrinkle in their plan as Ganju realizes who she is. Will he still rescue her, or will he try to kill her himself?

The action continued in this volume of Bleach. I love how relentless Ichigo is, how determined and sometimes headstrong and brash. Well, he is a teenager after all, and probably imbued with the same spirit of seeming immortality that so many teens are because they can’t conceive of maybe dying. Ichigo is loyal to a fault and will do anything for his friends, but he doesn’t always think before he acts. I love his interactions with Zangetsu. The old man is usually good at instilling a modicum of good sense into Ichigo, as well as strength.

I loved seeing the back story between Kenachi and Yachiru. At first I found her annoying but she’s grown on me. There is a lot of back story in Bleach, which I enjoy. The problem with Ganju and Rukia sets up a question of principle, but I suspect there is more to that story than meets the eye, and probably a flashback to go with.

The ending contains a good cliffhanger, looking forward to the next volume to see what happens!

Book Review: Blood of Elves (Witcher series) by Andrzej Sapkowski

Blood of Elves(The Witcher series)      Blood of Elves cover

Author: Andrzej Sapkowski

Publisher: Orbit

American release date: May 1, 2009

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Fantasy/324 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

War is raging. Nilfgard is aggressively consuming all the territory it can, gaining in power at an alarming rate. Something has to be done about this. But in order for that to happen, the other countries have to come to some semblance of agreement. Is that even possible?

Dandelion, the celebrated bard, thrills audiences wherever he goes with his original music, his tales of people and battles and lost loves. But Dandelion doesn’t always use common sense in singing of things which should not be mentioned, such as Geralt and Ciri. People should not know that Ciri exists, for that would only bring danger down upon her. The time is not yet come, for she has much to learn…

Other than himself, Dandelion truly loves wine, women, and song, sometimes to his detriment. Caught in a trap at a house of ill repute, he finds himself being tortured by an unpleasant fellow with a burn scar, by the name of Rience. Rience wants to know the whereabouts of the witcher and the girl, and doesn’t believe Dandelion’s protestations that his stories are tales without foundation, not truth. Luckily, help comes from an unexpected quarter for the outspoken bard.

Geralt takes Ciri to Kaer Morhen, the secret witcher stronghold. By the time Triss Merrigold arrives, she is surprised to find the young girl training as a witcher. Triss also senses that there is more to the girl than outside appearances might indicate. Do the witchers know this? When a young witcher accidentally lets slip a vital piece of information, Triss realizes more of the truth about who Ciri really is. And Geralt knows that the next step in Ciri’s preparation lies, not with him, but with Yennefer.

Ciri is definitely developing as a character. Of course, we know who she really is, but it’s interesting to watch her blossom under Geralt’s guidance. Their relationship is complicated, but I think it’s something of a father/daughter relationship, the only kind Geralt can enjoy. The same can be said for Yennefer. Reading the books as I watch the series is enlightening, as I’ve seen Yennefer’s backstory, which I haven’t read yet. I’m not sure how much I care for her, but her treatment of Ciri has redeemed her at least a little bit. I’m baffled as to the change of Dandelion’s name for the series, but a bard by any other name is still a fun character And now there is a song, Throw a Coin to Your Witcher which has become an Internet sensation, apparently.

There’s a lot going on behind the scenes in this book, and sometimes you really have to wonder which side to root for. The choices aren’t necessarily clear cut.  I loved the scenes with Geralt after he became a hired mercenary to protect certain barges from harm. But Geralt has his own agenda, as always. I also enjoyed Geralt’s travels with Ciri and Triss. This was a really good book and I look forward to the next one.

 

 

Book Review: The Lady’s Champion (Disgraced Martyr #3) by M.F. Sullivan

The Lady’s Champion (Disgraced Martyr Trilogy, #3)        The Lady's Champion cover

Author: M.F. Sullivan

Publisher: Painted Blind Publishing

American release date: January 9, 2020

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Sci Fi/LGBTQ/356 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Dominia di Mephitoli has come a long way since her stint as governor and one-time rabid general for the Martyr cause. She’s lost her wife, who was her reason for living, as well as her family, and she’s afraid of losing everyone else. And why? Because of the Martyrs, and one in particular, her Holy Father, the Hierophant.

And yet, if she doesn’t continue the fight, the world will be doomed. Worlds. All of them. Past and present and future. For they all tie together, and sometimes it’s hard to separate what was from what shall be.

Dominia kidnaps her brother Theodore, her replacement as governor. But her father does her one better and snatches Rene Ichigawa’s cousin Tenchi, putting Dominia in an awful position. What else can she do but as the Hierophant requests, in order to save Tenchi’s life. Which involves returning to her father’s house. At least she can see her sister Lavinia again, who has sorely missed Dominia. And is still as innocent as ever.

Dominia has so many questions and few answers. Can she get herself out of this new predicament, defeat her father, and also bring back Cassandra? What is the truth about the Hierophant and his origins? Does he really come from a planet called Acetia? And whose future is the true one?

The Lady’s Champion is a roller coaster ride from start to finish, one that will make your head spin. As soon as you think you understand what’s going on, the roller coaster veers off in a new direction and you have to rethink everything. Before the final curtain drops, everyone is called to the stage once more. Old friends and new. Old enemies and new. And sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s who and what’s what.

The third book of the trilogy kept me on the edge of my seat, wondering what was going to happen next, and hoping against hope that my favorite character, my darling Hierophant, would emerge unscathed. The scope and imagination of this series is staggering. A real mind-blowing story dealing with both physical as well as metaphysical realities, one that will open your mind to unimagined possibilities. Who’s to say what is real and what could become so in the future?

Dominia is a great, somewhat flawed heroine, as all good heroines are. The worst I can say about her is that her obsession with Cassandra did get on my nerves. Just my opinion, but I was never fond of Cassandra, and saw no reason for Dominia to carry on so over her loss. Of course, many will disagree with my own obsession with the Hierophant, who I admit is no saint, but there is just something about him that draws me to him. I make no apologies for him. He does some seriously bad stuff, but I still feel he has redeeming qualities.

This is a series that requires re-reading at some point, and I’m sure I’ll see things I missed and gain a new perspective of other things. I’ve enjoyed the journey greatly and will be sorry to leave this world behind, hence the need to revisit it again. I highly recommend the entire series. Give a copy to someone you love.

Congratulations, MF Sullivan, on a job well done!