Tag Archives: Book review

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!

 

 

Book Review: Blue Morning, Vol 8 by Shoko Hidaka

Blue Morning, Vol 8    Blue Morning, Vol 8 cover

Author: Shoko Hidaka

Publisher: SuBLime Publishing

American release date: November 12, 2019

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Yaoi/282 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

 

The time is fast approaching for Akihito’s departure for England, and there is so much to be done, arrangements to be made. Knowing the feudal system is dying, Akihito is building the future of the Kuze house on much firmer foundations, such as the railroad and various industries. He and Katsuragi must fit in as much time together as they can, knowing they will be separated for two long years.

Meanwhile, Soichiro has been coerced at least into the arranged marriage he never wanted, his heart belonging to a geisha he can never have. He girds himself to meet his intended, only to find that Katsuragi works in mysterious ways.

Their time together drawing to a close, Katsuragi bares his soul to Akihito and tells him two years away from him is too long. In talking to Amamiya, Soichiro expresses his gratitude for what Katsuragi has done for him, and wishes him and Akihito the same good fortune. Akihito has had matching watches made for him and Katsuragi, which he presents to him just before he asks would he like to come to England with him.

What will Katsuragi’s response be?

This is the final volume of Blue Morning. So much going on, so much up in the air. I grew hopeful and anxious by turns the farther I read. This is the culmination of what Akihito and Katsuragi both have been working toward, even if it didn’t always appear so. This is a story very rich in both plot and character development, as well as beautiful artwork. I invested my heart in the story of these two men, followed their relationship through good times as well as hard times. Cheered, laughed, and cried. I’m sorry the story has come to an end, yet in my heart it isn’t over, and I know it will go on forever.

Beautiful finish to a lovely story.

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 12 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 12      Bleach, Vol 12 cover

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: April 4, 2006

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer:  Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Renji Abarai, assistant captain to 6th squad’s Captain Kuchiki, after being defeated by Ichigo has only one thing to say to him—“Save Rukia!” Kira and Hinamori come upon Renji and are amazed that he has been defeated, but they are too late to fight Ichigo, as he and Ganju and Hanatoro have already gone. Kira and Hinamori intend to send Renji to be healed by the 4th Company but are prevented from doing so by Byakuya Kuchiki, who instructs them to dump him in a cell! Gin Ichimaru assures Kira and Hinamori that he will send word to 4th Company anyway. Toshiro Hitsugaya appears after Gin leaves and warns Hinamori not to trust the Third Company, especially….

 

Head-Captain Yamamoto overlooks Gin’s previous actions and declares all-out war on the Ryoka.

 

Ichigo awakens to find himself being healed by Hanataro of the wounds he suffered fighting Renji. When he insists he’s ready to go, Ganju knocks him out again, proving how weak he really is. Hanataro tells Ganju that Ichigo’s life was saved by a mask in his pocket, one which resembles a Hollow. How did he acquire such an object, though?

 

Disturbed by the idea of fighting, the peaceful Hinamori, assistant captain of the 6th Company, seeks out her captain, Aizen, to speak with him. His soothing voice and words, his calm smile, relax her so much she falls asleep. When she wakens, she finds Aizen gone and she is going to be late for assembly if she doesn’t hurry. Luckily, she knows a short-cut, but in taking this route, she comes upon a horrific sight!

 

Hinamori finds herself in hot water when she tries to attack Gin for what she believes he has done, only to be confronted by Kira. Hitsugaya steps in between them and has both arrested, then warns Gin not to ever make Hinamori bleed. Rangiku Matsumoto visits Hinamori in her cell and brings her a letter addressed to her that was found in Captain Aizen’s room, revealing what he has discovered.

 

Ichigo, Ganju, and Hanatoro approach the high tower where Rukia is being held, which seems surprisingly empty of people, only to feel a frightfully enormous spiritual pressure. The pressure turns out to belong to the soul reaper who Ikkaku spoke of to Ichigo, Kenpachi Zaraki, captain of the 11th Company. He anticipates an interesting fight against Ichigo and is excited to get started. Ichigo tells Ganju and Hanataro to go ahead and continue with their mission while he stays behind to engage in battle with Kenpachi.

 

Meanwhile, Chad has run into the captain of the 8th Company, Shunsui Kyoraku, a very laid-back fellow in a pink flowered kimono. Shunsui attempts to get Chad to have a drink with him,  not wishing to fight, but to no avail. Chad is giving him no choice in the matter.

 

I love this volume of Bleach for many reasons, but I have to mention first and foremost that I adore Shunsui Kyoraku, and these is his first real scenes in the series, which is exciting. Also the first real scenes with Kenpachi and Yachiru. I was upset over the unexpected and tragic death that occurred in this volume, but you’ll find that happens in Bleach, like it or not. It’s exciting to watch Ichigo work his way through the various captains and lieutenants of the 13 Court Guard Squads in order to reach Rukia. He is far stronger than they gave him credit for being. Uryu and Orihime were absent in this volume, but I’m sure we’ll see them soon.

 

I just finished watching the anime and am excited that I am still living the Bleach story through the manga. I understand that the manga goes beyond what I saw in the anime, so I look forward to seeing where it takes me. Another great volume of Bleach, looking forward to the next one!

 

 

 

Book Review: Soul Eater, Vol 6 by Atsushi Ohkubo

Soul Eater, Vol 6      Soul Eater, Vol 6 cover

Author: Atsushi Ohkubo

Publisher: Yen Press

American release date: January 16, 2018

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

The race is on! Can the students of DWMA prevent the First Kishin from being resurrected? If not, what will the consequences be?

As Death the Kid hurries to join forces with Black Star and Tsubaki, he finds himself unable to proceed due to the asymmetry of the hallway he must pass through. Can Patty and Liz put him back on the right track and get him to move forward? Meanwhile, fearful of being caught up with, Free commandeers Tadpole Jackson from Eruka. Maka is facing down Crona. In order to defeat her, Maka allows herself to slip into madness. Will this work? And will she be able to come back from it?

Dr. Stein is battling Medusa, while still monitoring what is happening ahead of them. As Eruka and Free draw close to the First Kishin, they begin to fall under the spell of his madness, which manifests itself in various illusions.

This is one of the most action-packed, exciting volumes of Soul Eater so far, and I loved it. Everyone is racing toward the First Kishin. Some want to resurrect him, while the others wish to prevent that. Lives will be changed, sacrifices made, but who will come out on top? I consider Maka, if anyone, to be the star of this volume, but everybody plays their parts well, even Death Scythe.

As usual, there is a certain amount of humor to be found, even in the face of what might turn into tragedy. Look for Blair the Witch, who has a small part to play herself. Looking forward to the next volume!

 

 

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 11 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 11      Bleach, Vol 11 cover

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: February 7, 2006

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Ganju is still running from the beauty-obsessed Yumichika as Ichigo deals with Ikkaku. Having defeated him, Ichigo waits for him to awaken so he can question him. Ikkaku is surprised to find himself alive. All Ichigo wants to know is where Rukia is, which makes Ikkaku laugh. But he tells Ichigo where to find her, although he doesn’t have a chance of succeeding. Especially if he runs into Ikkaku’s captain.

 

Speaking of which, that same captain is on the trail of Ishida and Orihime. But his directional skills are faulty, as are those of the small lieutenant who rides on his shoulder, and they escape detection. Ganju has exhausted himself running from Yumichika, who savors his impending victory just as they hear a voice screaming for Ganju and realize it’s Ichigo. Ganju points out that if Ichigo is there, he must have defeated Ikkaku, which Yumichika claims is impossible. Ganju manages a few slick maneuvers, finally drawing Ichigo’s attention.

 

Ishida and Orihime find themselves facing Jidanbo’s brother, Jirobo. He seems to be targeting Orihime, for some reason. Ishida shows how much he has progressed during his recent training.

 

After leaving Yumichika, Ganju finds himself running once more, chased by a number of soul reapers. Hearing Ichigo’s voice, he thinks everything will be fine now, only to discover that Ichigo is also being chased by a pack of soul reapers and they’re headed right toward Ganju! Can this end well?

 

Things are really getting exciting in this volume of Bleach. Ichigo is determined to rescue Rukia, no matter who gets in his way. He has that mindset that predetermines that he will succeed and that failure is not an option. Watching him fight the various members of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads is epic! Also, it’s fun to be introduced to characters who will turn out to be very crucial to the story, ones we will come to know and love. I’ve learned, from watching the anime, that first impressions don’t always count, and that the people you think you hate and/or despise often become favorites with time. Similarly, not everyone you like will stay liked, and that’s all I’ll say for now lol

 

I love the dynamics between the members of the squads as well. They are not all friends just because they work together, as evidenced by Kenpachi and Kurotsuchi. Yes, Kurotsuchi is very odd, you have no idea how odd yet, but there is also something about him that I like. Ditto with Kenpachi and Yachiru. Ichigo is growing and developing all the time, as a person and as a soul reaper.

 

Renji Abarai has already grown on me, and the glimpse of his backstory with Rukia is priceless.

 

Another great volume, can’t wait for the next one!

 

 

 

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 10 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 10     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: December 6, 2005

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Ichigo is confused when he learns that the person who is going to help them get into the Seireitei is a fireworks expert. What use is that? Turns out she plans to use her expertise to launch them through the sphere that surrounds their target. But they all have to be able to create a reishukaku – a spirit core – which means training for everyone. And Ganju is to help them. When the others stop to eat, Ichigo persists in continuing with his training and Ganju remains, to Ichigo’s annoyance. Ganju confronts Ichigo and demands to know why he is working so hard to save a soul reaper.

 

The Thirteen Court Guard Squad captains and their lieutenants have been instructed to assemble in full insignia. The captains question Gin as to how and why he let a ryoku past him, although Gin seems unconcerned by their anger. When the Head Captain asks for an explanation, Gin has none to give. An intruder alarm interrupts the discussion, as everyone rushes out to see what’s happening.

 

After a short rest, the team is ready to be catapulted into the Seireitei! Kûkaku warns them that they must keep their focus and not let their energy level grow too strong. Yuruichi cautions them to stay together inside the Seireitei and avoid confrontations with anyone of captain level. (Famous last words!)

 

Their entrance does not go unnoticed.

 

Despite their best efforts, the group becomes separated into smaller groups. Ichigo and Ganju come up against Ikkaku and Kamichiki. Ganju decides to run, and is chased by Kamichiki, while Ichigo faces Ikkaku in battle. How will Ichigo fare against such an opponent?

 

This volume of Bleach sees our heroes training for entry into the Seireitei in order to rescue Rukia from her death sentence. As usual, Ichigo never stops to think what the consequences might be. He sees what he thinks has to be done and he decides to do it. He has a very strong sense of loyalty and commitment, especially when it comes to Rukia. But then again, we have to remember he’s a fifteen-year old teenager. At that age, they think they’re invincible. Although I will admit that Ichigo has a better sense of life and death than most young people since he can see dead people.

 

Watching Ichigo and Ganju go at it is hilarious! Ichigo makes friends easily but he can also rub people the wrong way until they get to know him. One thing I’ve learned with this series is don’t necessarily trust your first instincts when meeting a character, things are not always what they seem. And that works both ways. The person you thought was so nice and good may turn out to be a major league villain!

 

I love the battle between Ichigo and Ikkaku. And I love what Ichigo tells him when Ikkaku wonders why he didn’t run, like his friend, which he considered a smart move. Ichigo replies: “If your power is greater than mine, then it would be pointless to run ‘cause you’d catch me for sure. But if your power is less than mine, then I just have to beat you.”

 

This is the beginning of a lengthy arc involving the rescue of Rukia, but it’s a very interesting one in that we become familiar with the captains and lieutenants of the Thirteen Court Squads. We’ll be seeing a lot of them, trust me. And when we get to the one I’m crushing on, I’ll let you know lol

 

Another great volume of Bleach, looking forward to the next one.