Tag Archives: Book review

Book Review: Spy x Family, Vol 6 by Tatsuya Endo

Spy x Family, Vol 6   

Author: Tatsuya Endo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: October 5, 2021

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Action & Adventure/200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Fiona Frost, aka Nightfall, has long had a crush on her mentor, Twilight. She feels as though the time he has spent with the false Forger family has diminished him. She is determined to put him right… by getting rid of his troublesome fake wife!  The two spies are given a mission involving a wealthy art collector. Their boss believes the collector, Cavi Campbell, is in possession of some seriously sensitive documents known as the Zacharis Dossier. Nightfall has a plan, though. But it involves her and Twilight posing as tennis players in an illegal underground tennis club tournament. The winner of the tournament is allowed to select an item of their choice from Campbell’s collection. That would include the painting they are actually interested in, Lady in the Sun, once owned by Colonel Zacharis. Is it any surprise that Nightfall has them posing as husband and wife?

Twilight says he’s dabbled a little in tennis, but his modesty is apparent when he and Nightfall begin to blow the competition away the competition, who are seasoned professionals, despite the various tricks they employ. Upon winning, they request the painting but learn that it is the one item they cannot have. And someone else is going to pick it up in ten minutes! What can they do?

Afterward, as Fiona drops off Loid, he hears the voices of Yor and Anya. They are playing tennis in the park. Fiona inserts herself into the scenario, introducing herself to Yor and challenging her to a game of tennis. Anya is appalled to overhear Fiona’s thoughts regarding supplanting Yor in Loid’s affections. Can Fiona best Yor and take Loid as her prize? Afraid she is going to be replaced, Yor suggests she and Loid have some couple time and they go to a bar for a few drinks. But Yor can’t hold her liquor, and things get… strange?

Anya is concerned about being able to win eight Stella stars. Her friend Becky misinterprets her obsession with Damian Desmond as being of a romantic nature and decides to help make the boy fall in love with Anya! She takes her shopping but the two girls have completely different ideas about fashion.

It’s time for the Imperial Scholar mixer. Will Loid be able to attain his goal and speak with Donovan Desmond at last?

I’ve been hoping from the start that Loid and Yor will develop feelings for one another, and I think my hopes are beginning to be realized. What better ending than to have them become a real family? Although I don’t want the series to end, either, so maybe they can continue as spies, but working together as a family?

And the good news is that there is an anime of the manga that is going to come out next year. I can’t wait! I love this series so much! Another great volume, can’t wait for the next one!

Book Review: 21st Century Boys, Vol 2: 20th Century Boy by Naoki Urasawa

21st Century Boys, Vol 2: 20th Century Boy     

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: March 19, 2013

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Mystery/Sci-fi/200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Time is ticking away! If they don’t figure out where the remote control for the giant robot is, it will press the button that detonates the anti-proton bomb, and all of mankind will die! Kanna tries to force her way in to see Kenji, saying she knows the remote is in the secret headquarters. But the guards won’t let her pass, since Kenji has gone into the game and is not to be disturbed. Will he find the answers he seeks in the past and will Kanna find him in time to stop the bomb?

And now we reach the climax of our story. Twenty-four volumes have brought us to this point. So much going on as the threads come together and complete the picture, and Kenji finds his answers. It just goes to show that even one small act can have dire consequences. Kenji isn’t the only one who learns this. Manjome too wishes he could undo what he did before, but alas, he cannot. However he can try to help Kenji as best he can.  Watching Kenji interact with his younger self was fun.  Watching the drama unfold as everyone tries to save the world was great. And at the end, balance is restored, and life goes on.

This was an amazing series, and I enjoyed the journey. Hope you enjoyed it as well. See you in the next series when I start to review Pluto.

Book Review: 21st Century Boys, Vol 1: Death of the Friend by Naoki Urasawa

21st Century Boys, Vol 1: Death of the Friend   

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: January 15, 2013

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Mystery/Sci-fi/200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Kenji’s arrived at the Expo Center and the crowd goes wild. They want to hear him play their song… but he refuses, tells the band to play instead. A helicopter explodes above them and crash lands inside the arena. Not everyone makes it, including Sadakiyo and Friend. When Kenji removes the Friend’s mask at last, he sees… Fukube!  How can that be? He died a long time ago. Nothing is making any sense.

Back in the past, an old woman in a convenience mart broods over which of the children has stolen a badge from her store and angrily scans every child who walks by, seeking the thief. A boy in a mask reveals his strange dream to a few of his friends, who aren’t particularly interested until he tells them they were in it, and one of them killed the other. They are not amused and walk away. The boy debates telling them the ending… about the final bomb. The one that will really kill all of mankind. Or at least those who remain on the planet.

Maruo and Yoshitsune tell Kenji they saw a ghost at a Shinto shrine, but Kenji doesn’t believe them and decides to find out for himself… only to come face to face with himself!

In the present, the UN forces have assumed control of Tokyo after the destruction of the Friend regime. A profiler interviews Kenji, to learn what he knows about the Friend. Most particularly he is interested in learning what Kenji knows about the last page of the New Book of Prophecy, the one that speaks of an anti-proton bomb that will destroy the world. The UN is taking this threat very seriously. They plan to send forces into Friend World, into the virtual reality game,  but Kenji tells them that won’t work. He has to be the one to go there.

So much of the past is finally being exposed as present, past, and future reveal themselves in an elaborate tapestry, one  woven by a master. Things that didn’t make sense before become clear.  I really enjoyed watching the relationship of Kenji and Yukiji from the beginning. Gosh, Kenji was… is… so dense.  At the same time, the more we learn, the less we know. So much to grasp. A copy of a copy?  Fukube? Sadakiyo? Someone else? Kenji runs into Manjome in Friend World. He’s lost his way and is seeking a way out, but Kenji has to tell him that won’t work because in the real world he is dead. We see more and more of Manjome in the past, and the part he played in what happened.

Detective Chono seeks answers regarding his grandfather, the legendary Cho-san. And Kenji wants to know why he was called evil. What did he do in the past that would warrant such an accusation? The story isn’t over yet, one more book to go. Is there an anti-proton bomb? And can they find it before it takes out the world? On pins and needles waiting to find out!

Book Review: Silverview by John Le Carré

Silverview         

Author: John Le Carré

Publisher: Viking

American release date: October 12, 2021

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Fantasy Manga/224 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Julian has left life in the big city to run his own bookshop in a small English seaside town. After a chance visit from a local resident, Edward Avon, aka Teddy, he learns that Avon was a friend of his father and had worked with him at one time. Edward is a very agreeable fellow and is delighted to share his ideas with the younger man, including plans for a sort of literary paradise to be located in the basement of the shop. And thus the idea for the Republic of Literature is born.

Unsure of just how to take Edward, Julian questions another shopkeeper, Celia, who is very fond of Edward, and gives him a great deal of information. Edward’s wife is very ill, and she and Teddy aren’t on the best of terms. Her late father bequeathed her a great deal of money, as well as the house now known as Silverview. Teddy changed the name after he became fascinated by Nietzsche. The couple have a daughter named Lily.

Stewart Proctor receives a letter from the daughter of one of his agents. The information it contains is very disturbing, and so he begins his own investigation to check into the accusations contained therein. In the meantime, Teddy has graciously installed computers in the future Republic and has begun to search for just the right books they will need to fill its shelves when the time comes.

Proctor uses the cover story of using retired agents as potential training instructors for future hires to questions them on various subjects. In particular, a spy whose code name was Florian, who was active during the Bosnian crisis and who was deeply affected by events that happened then.

The more Julian learns about Edward, the less he knows. He meets his dying wife Deborah, herself once an agent, and their daughter Lily. There is some sort of spark between him and Lily… maybe.  But as events begin to unfold, Julian finds himself in the middle of something he never dreamed he’d ever be a part of.

John Le Carre’s SIlverview is like a tapestry. It starts out with a number of loose threads, but as you keep reading the threads begin to wind themselves about one another until they form a picture. It’s a fascinating story about spies as people, and some of the aftermath of their experiences and how those affect them.  I like Julian and found him an astute and sympathetic observer, but the true star of this book is Edward, aka “Teddy”, aka Florian. A very likeable and complex man whose life of professional deception has carried over into his actual personal life, to the point where it’s hard to tell where one leaves off and the other begins. Is he who he seems to be? Was he ever?

If the ending isn’t quite as clear-cut as one might like, well, that’s life. It’s clear enough to those who are left behind. After all, life doesn’t always wrap up nicely and neatly, much as we wish it might. But we have a clear idea of what lies ahead for the characters we’ve come to care about. Can one ask for anything more?

John Le Carre is truly the master of spy fiction, and I think his final work is a testament to his craft and well worth reading.

Book Review: Demon Slayer, Vol 8 by Koyoharu Gotouge

Demon Slayer, Vol 8     

Author: Koyoharu Gotouge

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: September 3, 2019

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Fantasy Manga/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Thanks to the Demon Slayers, the Train of Infinite Dreams has been derailed, but Tanjiro stays Inosuke’s hand when he would kill the demon responsible. Tanjiro says “he’s suffered enough”. The demon blames Tanjiro for what happened, but most of all he blames Rengoku. Although Tanjiro is injured, he is encouraged by Rengoku to keep doing his best, which words he takes to heart.

But it’s not all over, not when a higher rank demon suddenly appears! Impressed by his strength, he tries to get Rengoku to become a demon. If not, he plans to kill him. Rengoku warns Tanjiro to stay still, so he can heal, and not to get involved in this fight. As morning approaches, and with it the light, the demon fights even harder, and although Inosuke and Tanjiro join in the battle, the results are not as they would wish.

Rengoku tells Tanjiro that he believes in Nezuko, having seen that she is good, and  not to grieve over him. But of course Tanjiro grieves, as so the other Hashira. Meanwhile the demon reports to Lord Muzan, who is currently using the appearance of a child. Muzan isn’t impressed with the death of one demon slayer – he seeks the death of the entire corps.

Entrusted by Rengoku with messages for his father and brother, Tanjiro slips away, although not fully healed, in order to comply with Rengoku’s wishes. While his brother is sad, Rengoku’s father is angry and denounces his son as worthless. He takes out his frustrations on Tanjiro. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Tanjiro has to face Haganezuka again!

Tanjiro stops Ranao from being kidnapped in order to go on a mission,  but finds himself volunteering in her place, and he is joined by Inosuke and Zenitsu.  Oh-oh, what’s up now?

This volume was unexpected due to the loss of some we barely got to know. Much sadness, but that, of course, is a part of life., which is one of this manga’s strengths. The good don’t always win and the bad don’t always lose.  Tanjiro is growing as a character, but to are Inosuke and Zenitsu.  I am curious to see what mission the three will undertake next, and who is this guy with the unusual bejeweled look? Good volume, looking forward to the next one.

Book Review: Blue Exorcist, Vol 26 by Kazue Kato

Blue Exorcist, Vol 26     

Author: Kazue Kato

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: October 5, 2021

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/234 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Aboard the Illuminati airship, Rin and Yukio face one another, while Satan is out of control and baiting them both. Sir Pheles has slipped a hapless Miwa onto the same ship in order to give something to Rin, and he is freaking out when he runs into Shima. Prior to Rin’s arrival, Yukio was prepared to take out his own eye… the one Satan is peeping through. Rin immediately tries to persuade Yukio not to join the Illuminati, telling him what a bad idea that is.

Miwa and Shima come upon the two brothers as they face off, hiding and biding their time while they bear witness to their conflict. Rin is determined to bring his brother back to the fold, alive, while Yukio wants Rin to kill him and put him out of his misery and out of Satan’s control.

Meanwhile, an announcement comes over the ship’s intercom system informing everyone to prepare for Serafim pulse in five minutes. Shima explains that it’s a blast from the ship’s power source, but they should be safe where they are… hopefully.

As Rin and Yukio go toe to toe, Rin is waging his own internal war with his other side, and it’s anyone’s guess how this will turn out.

This volume is largely the wildly fluctuating battle between the two brothers. Even as they fight, I think each is learning a new appreciation for the other. Rin has always looked upon Yukio as the weaker younger brother but he’s finding out otherwise. And Yukio is gaining a new understanding of Rin’s strength. In the meantime, we have an over the top Satan. Without Yuri to keep him in check, Satan is a nasty piece of work. She was what kept him even remotely human. Will he destroy everything, or can he be overcome?

And just where is Sir Pheles hiding?

Another great volume, looking forward to more. Although to be honest, I’d like to see the plot move forward at a slightly faster pace, and I wish there wasn’t so long between volumes.

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 45 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 45

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: August 7, 2012

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Shinji’s sword has an unusual shape… and Aizen has no idea what it can do. But he’s about to find out. Apparently Shinji’s sword changes up to down, front to back, right to left, left to right. Aizen doesn’t seem particularly concerned, but maybe he should look behind him, because here comes Ichigo!

Aizen just loves to taunt people, and he wastes no time trying to chip away at Ichigo’s ego. But the Thirteen Court Guard captains quickly step up and assure Ichigo they will protect him. Aizen turns his attention to Hitsugaya, hitting him where it hurts—Hinamori. But Shunsui takes advantage of Aizen’s preoccupation with the diminutive captain to sneak up on him. Meanwhile, on the sidelines, Gin thinks how clueless they all are regarding Aizen’s powers.

Ichigo is being careful not to witness Aizen’s shikai. But the others, having seen it, are vulnerable to it. Which makes their actions inexplicable to Ichigo, who wonders what they’re doing when they result in one of them being wounded by another one! The Captain General now steps into the fray, determined to take down Aizen himself… even if he dies doing so.

And now it’s everyone against Aizen, with Tosen gone and Gin just standing by. (Wonder why that is?) Will they really be able to take him down? Will the battle for Karakura Town really be over? Or is this just the prelude to something else? I suspect Aizen still has a few tricks up his sleeve, and it won’t be as easy as they hope. Another great volume, look forward to the next!

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 44 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 44     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: August 7, 2012

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Yammy holds Rukia in his hammy grasp, and things aren’t looking good for the Soul Reaper when who should appear, like a glorious deus ex machina?  Why, Ichigo Kurosaki, of course! His first comment to Yammy is, “Hey! You’re grown real big since the last time I saw you. I almost didn’t recognize you.” He is always laid back, even in the face of danger. Ichigo has left Orihime in the World of the Living so she can heal Uryu. He’s going to take care of this big guy and then he needs to get back to the big fight, over Karakura Town.

When Ichigo hollowfies, Rukia thinks she notices something different about his mask, and even Ichigo thinks something feels different to him. But things are starting to look bad for Ichigo when two saviors appear on the scene unexpectedly—Byakuya and Kenpachi! And they are arguing over who arrived first! They tell Ichigo to step back so they can fight as he is a major embarrassment. Byakuya tells Ichigo he is needed at home because he is the Deputy Soul Reaper. But Ichigo says he has no way to go…

And then here comes Kurotsuchi, and he sends Ichigo off with Unohana.  Kurotsuchi settles down to watch the fight, and wait for the corpses he wishes to dissect afterward. Growing impatient, though, he tells the two Soul Reapers, “Will you please hurry up and kill each other? If you allow him to get any bigger, it will make the dissection harder.”

Now Aizen is facing Shinji, while Komamura and Hisagi are still squaring off against Tosen. But Tosen has another trick up his sleeve! There seems to be no going back for him, much to Hisagi’s regret.

Getting closer and closer all the time. Ichigo is finally on his way. As he and Unohana travel together, she explains to him why no one else can defeat Aizen, and her explanation really makes sense. She also comes to realize that Ichigo is a lot stronger than she imagined, and perhaps he is the savior they are looking for. The appearance of Byakuya and Kenpachi was unexpected and great!  Also Kurotsuchi. He’s odd but you just gotta love him (just don’t let him experiment on you!).

I think we’re reaching the climax of this arc now. Does Aizen have some master plan, or is he winging this? How will he react when Ichigo enters the scene? Looking forward to finding out!

Book Review: Demon Slayer, Vol 7 by Koyoharu Gotouge

Demon Slayer, Vol 7   

Author: Koyoharu Gotouge

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: July 2, 2019

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

While recuperating at Mt Natagumo, Tanjiro seeks to learn about fire breathing techniques from Shinobu, but she suggests he ask someone who actually uses those techniques, such as Rengoku. As he and the others are leaving, Tanjiro encourages the shy, quiet Kanao to follow her heart, telling her she can do it.

Arriving at the train station, Tanjiro and Zenitsu discover that Inosuke has no idea what a train is when he furiously head-butts it! Tanjiro says they need to get on the Infinity Train so he can talk to Rengoku, who is already there. He suggests they put their weapons away and try to blend in. Zenitsu advises Inosuke to wear clothes, in that case.

In talking to Rengoku, they discover there is a demon on the train. Tanjiro smells something odd just before the conductor approaches to punch their tickets. Rengoku spots the demon and is immensely happy that he will be able to slay it. What none of them realize is that they are on the Train of Infinite Dreams, and they are asleep, at the mercy of this same demon. Tanjiro dreams he is back with his family and they are all alive and well, and nothing has changed. But his subconscious is sending him signals that he is asleep and dreaming, and he needs to figure out how to wake up and then wake the others or they will all die!

This volume of Demon Slayer is all about the Infinity Train, and it’s actually pretty interesting. Everyone loves to dream, but not all dreams are good ones. And you can get so lost in the good ones that you don’t want to come back to reality. That is what the demons on this train count on, which makes the dreamers easy prey. It’s their misfortune that some Demon Slayers chose to ride the train. They are the only hope the others have.

Along this journey, we get to see backstories for some of the characters, which are interesting. Still not sure about Inosuke, but I imagine his story will emerge at some point.  The demon who is invoking the dreams doesn’t seem completely evil, and that is something I like about this series.  There is no clear-cut delineation between good and evil, and sometimes it’s just a small step or a minor circumstance that causes someone to cross from one side to the other. Tanjiro’s situation is heartbreaking in that of course he wants to be with his family, and the demon uses them to guilt Tanjiro into staying asleep. Nezuko performs admirably in this volume. Go Nezuko!

Another great volume, looking forward to more.

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 43 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 43

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: July 3, 2012

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

It’s sad when former comrades become enemies. Such is the case now, with Tosen face-to-face with Komamura and Hisagi. Hisagi is determined to make Tosen “see” the light and come back to Soul Society. Tosen’s reply to that is “I thought I told you… those who don’t know fear have no right to fight.”

When Hachigen joins Soi Fon and Omaeda in their fight against Berrigan, Soi Fon denies knowing Hachigen. The Berrigan seems invincible, since as he says “Everything decays.” As fast as Hachigen builds barriers, Berrigan destroys them. But Hachigen is shrewd, and he has a cunning plan.

Love and Rose attack Stark, who sics the wolves on them. But just when things seem to be bleak, Shunsui makes an unexpected reappearance, and his fight with Stark is on again, as he explains just how his weapons work. Aizen steps in to stop the fight against Halibel, ending it in an unexpected way. Has Wonderweiss met his match?

And where is Ichigo?

The battles continue in the fight for Karakura Town. I enjoyed seeing the backstories of Stark and Berrigan. What a colossal ego Aizen has, but no one can be surprised at that. The Visoreds fight side by side with the Soul Reapers, mostly through necessity than a spirit of camaraderie, as that is definitely lacking in their relationship. Not surprising considering how Soul Society treated the Visoreds all those years ago for something not of their doing.

I loved watching Shunsui fight, and his techniques are amazing (I may be a little biased lol).

Still, in the end, it’s Ichigo we are all waiting for. Surely his arrival can’t be far off now? Good volume, looking forward to the next one.