Tag Archives: Book review

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 2 by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 2: The Prophet     

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: April 21, 2009

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/216 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

As children, Kenji and his friends were terrorized by Yanbo and Manbo, the “evilest twins in history”.  There was only one person who could put them in their place, a scrawny looking girl who would knock the stuffing out of the two boys. And they’ve just run into her at the airport, none other than Yukiji!  Apparently she’s a customs officer who has a dog for a partner. The boys are thrilled to see her, although she seems less enthusiastic about the chance meeting.

Two attorneys approach a man named Manjome Inshu regarding complaints from parents about their children being involved in an organization this man is part of. They want their children back. However, he is very evasive, and won’t give the name of the organization or of its leader, known simply as friend. Strangely, after Manjome’s departure, the attorneys notice something odd—all the spoons on the table are bent!

Yukiji shows up unexpectedly at Kenji’s convenience mart, and tells him she remembers the symbol they were asking about, and also who came up with it—their friend Otcho. When Kenji tries to question her, the franchise district manager chooses that unfortunate time to come in and demands Kenji’s time. She invites Kenji to the victims’ meeting, and he says he’ll try to make it.

Cho is a long-time policeman whose dedication to his job has caused problems in his personal life, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t care. He buys his grandson a Pikachu for his birthday, because apparently that’s what he wants and it’s all the rage.  Cho is investigating the disappearance of the Shikishima family. He runs into his colleague, Yama, who is working on the death of the professor’s student, but learns that the case was taken out of police hands. Cho is concerned about being late to his grandson’s party. His daughter, who hasn’t spoken to him in years, has personally invited him, so he can’t mess this up. He shares the details of his investigation with Yama before leaving for the party.

Kamisama is a homeless man who sometimes has nightmares. But his dreams aren’t like that of other people—his are often prescient. He shows up at Kenji’s store to check the stock prices and tells him things are going to get hard for him, but doesn’t explain why. Sometimes he tells his friends about his dreams, but this last one, he’s keeping that to himself.

While rooting around in his absent sister’s desk, Kenji finds a hidden envelope containing a strange message… and the same mysterious symbol he’s been asking about! He asks his mother about the symbol and it’s then he learns why his sister has always taken such good care of him, even before he was born. Which is why he won’t give up on raising her only child for anything. He also learns about the rich man who once courted her and what became of him.

Kamisama and his friends find an injured man in their midst. He won’t leave, no matter what they say, and insists on seeing the Great Kenji. Kamisama devises a plan to get Kenji to come to them. Hopefully he’ll understand what the man wants and will be able to do something about it.

Things are certainly getting strange and mysterious in this second volume of Twentieth Century Boys. Unexplained deaths are occurring, and we are getting more of a glimpse into the organization led by Friend. Not so friendly, are they? Is their leader one of Kenji’s old group of friends, who came up with the symbol originally, and had a plan to save the world… if only they could remember what that was. How will Kenji’s band figure into this? Could Friend be the missing Otcho, or did he disappear for a more sinister reason?

Also, am I wrong in thinking there’s an attraction between Kenji and Yukiji? If so, will they ever act on it? And who the heck is Kanna’s father? So many questions, so few answers. All we know for sure is the fate of the entire world depends on the answers!

Looking forward to volume 3!

 

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 21 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 21         

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: October 2 2007

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

In the aftermath of Aizen’s dramatic departure (as if his being there isn’t drama enough alone), the 4th Squad tends to the wounded, including the Ryoka. Captain Unohana is amazed to witness Orihime’s healing skills as she tends to Ichigo. Rukia is stricken at Byakuya’s injuries, sustained while protecting her. He calls her to his side, and proceeds to tell her truths he has previously withheld.

A week passes. Uryu has sewn new clothes for his group, so Orihime wishes to personally take the new dress to Rukia… but she can’t find her. She and Ichigo begin a frantic search, even as some of the captains and lieutenants (including Shunsui, of course lol), at Matsumoto’s suggestion, get down to some serious drinking. They invite Ichigo and Orihime, but they decline the invitation, being busy (and also being underage). Ichigo has an idea where Rukia is, and he turns out to be correct.

The time comes for Ichigo and the others to return to the Living World. They drop from the sky only to find a penitent Uruhara waiting for them. Ichigo lets Kiskue know what he thinks of what he did to them. Before he left the Seireitei, Captain Ukitake gave Ichigo something special, told him to hold onto because it would be useful in all kinds of situations.

Ichigo arrives home to find Kon lounging in his bed. He reclaims his body and tells Kon he’ll listen to his complaints the next day, all he wants to do now is rest. But that isn’t happening when his dad unexpectedly appears, ready to rumble.

Back to school for everyone, back to normalcy. Or is it? Ichigo is shocked when Tatsuki can see his deputy soul reaper badge. But he has no time to think about it, as they keep getting calls about Hollows. On top of that, there’s a new kid in class. His name is Shinji (but I’ll refer to him as Dutch Boy). He takes a seat near Ichigo and hopes they will become friends! That’s not creepy at all, is it?

When Ichigo leaves in the middle of the night on Reaper business, leaving Kon in his body, Kon decides to take the opportunity to kick up his heels a bit, but he gets more than he bargained for. Uryu, who is also out and about, encounters an unexpected blast from the past. And if that’s not enough, a Soul Reaper’s true identity is revealed!

So… Captain Aizen… huh. That happened. Who saw that coming? I sure didn’t. I remember watching the anime and boohooing over “poor Aizen”. And then he wasn’t dead and I texted my daughter, overjoyed, only to be confused the next moment when he stabbed poor Hinamori. (My daughter said she couldn’t wait for that to happen, knowing what she already knew that I didn’t.)  So Aizen, Gin, and Tosen have vamoosed, off to nefarious things no doubt. I don’t believe they specifically say what’s up in the manga, but I remember Aizen telling the Soul Society that his plan would take a year and then he’d be back. I guess that was their way of explaining why the story was about to veer off into filler arcs lol

His departure is almost an anti-climax, as its back to normal business. Well, as normal as Ichigo’s world ever gets. There does seem to be a lot of Hollows, wonder if that means anything? And now we have Dutch Boy in the picture (when you read this volume, you’ll know why I call him that lol). And then a couple of major revelations at the end of the book, keeping us in suspense, waiting for the next volume. Pretty heavy stuff going down. Plus the revelation from Byakuya at the beginning.  As usual, another great volume of Bleach. One reason I love the manga so much, even though I’ve seen the whole series, is that you do learn things that either aren’t mentioned or go by too fast to catch.

Looking forward to the next volume!

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 19 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 19     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: June 5, 2007

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/216 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer:  Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Soi Fon thinks she has the upper hand in her battle against Yoruichi, believing that her one-time commander has been sedentary for the past century. She is in for a rude awakening!

Ikkaku and Iba are drinking and arguing, as usual, when they speculate as to who Captain Kuchiki is fighting, up by the Sokyoku. Iba doesn’t recognize the spiritual pressure, but Ikkaku suspects it’s Ichigo, knowing how strong he is. And he is correct, for that battle is still being waged, even after Rukia has been safely removed from the playing field.

Ichigo is still pressing Kuchiki for an answer to why he is trying to kill his own sister. Byakuya is determined to crush Ichigo, confident that Ichigo can never hold his own against him. Seriously, even if he has to release his bankai, Ichigo can’t possibly do that…. can he?

Boy, does that arrogant s.o.b have another think coming…

Meanwhile, Uryu, Orihime, Chad, and Ganju are hastening toward the summit of the hill, not sure if that is where Ichigo is or not. Why is Ichigo still fighting, since Rukia has already been saved? Uryu explains “She won’t be safe until he’s broken the enemy completely.” Otherwise they will still try to execute her. Makes sense. But can he do it?

When the smoke of battle clears, who will be left standing?

Meanwhile, a horrific sight meets Hitsugaya and Matsumoto—the Council of 46 are all dead, murdered… and not recently. Who’s done this horrible thing? And since they were killed some time ago… who has been issuing orders in their name? Is someone trying to frame Hitsugaya for what has happened? Who would do such a thing… and why?

Just when you think the battle’s won, new battle lines are drawn, and new mysteries appear. I love watching them unfold, especially as I know what awaits in the next volume (one advantage of watching the anime first lol) In this volume, Byakuya is learning that Ichigo is more than he bargained for and not as easily dismissed as he might think.

I love Tite Kubo’s characterizations. His characters are definitely not one-note. There is no such thing as all good or all evil, there are many shades of gray. Not even Rukia’s brother is all bad, just has a mighty high opinion of himself. Even Ichigo has his dark side.

I love seeing the backstories of the characters. This time we got some insight into Soi Fon and  Yoruichi, the past shedding light on the present.

Looking forward to the next volume!

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 1: Friends by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 1: Friends

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: February 17, 2009

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Mystery/Sci-fi/160 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Kenji once dreamed of being a hero and doing big things, but middle-age finds him the co-owner of a former liquor store, along with his mother. And he’s raising the niece his sister dumped off on them before she ran away to who knows where. He loves Kanna with all his heart and wouldn’t have it any other way. What do long ago foolish dreams matter in the face of reality?

Kenji is annoyed to learn the police are investigating the disappearance of the entire Shikishima family, mostly because they owe him money. Hopefully if the police stake out the place, they’ll want to buy snacks from his convenience store, he reasons. In the meantime, his childhood friend Keroyon, aka Froggie, is getting married. Whodathunk it? He did get his nickname for a reason, after all.  While retrieving empty bottles from the missing family’s home, Kenji finds a strange symbol  by the door. Something seems awfully familiar about that symbol, but he just can’t place it. Kenji quizzes some of his childhood friends about it, but no one remembers anything.

The morning paper brings horrible news. Another of his old friends, Donkey, a science teacher, has jumped from the roof of the high school where he taught… to his death. Kenji doesn’t think Donkey would ever do something like that. A strange boy they befriended long ago, he was particularly known for being a fast runner who told them that you can run faster with your shoes off. Kenji receives a letter from Donkey to him written just a few days previously, although he’d not talked to him in a good long while. The letter contains a drawing and asks if Kenji remembers this symbol… the same symbol Kenji’s been wondering about himself! Could it be a coincidence, or something much more? And Donkey ends with talk soon… does this sound like someone who’s about to kill himself?

Kenji talks to Donkey’s widow, and she mentions that her husband told her that one of his former students was in trouble, but she only remembered his first name and where he went to school.  Through good detective work, and a little luck, Kenji finds the student, who seems to be on his way somewhere. The man is secretive and mysterious and tells Kenji if he’s reached the symbol, he’s only one step away from true friendship. What the heck does that mean?

Kenji and some of his old group of friends meet to toast the late Donkey, and he continues to grill them about the symbol.  Still no one recalls anything. Until Mon-chan remembers that when they were young, they buried something, but can’t remember exactly what that was. Not sure if that means anything or not, they decide to hunt it down, which isn’t easy as much has changed over the years. They’re surprised to find… (no spoilers here, gotta read it)

This is the first volume in a series about a group of young men who did something that helped to save the world. Kenji is the main character, through whose eyes we see most of the action. The story takes place across different time frames, so we see what’s going on at different points in the boys’ lives, 1969, 1997, and the present. The first volume lays the groundwork for everything and asks questions which need to be answered. Such as who are the Twentieth Century Boys? What did they do? Who is Friend? Is he friend or foe? And is/was he one of them?

I like the writing (I’ll have to read Monster too, which is by the same author), as well as the artwork. Kenji is a good character, just a simple normal guy, living out his life, even if it wasn’t the one he dreamed of. He’s unwilling to accept the truth that appears to lie on the surface of things, and insists on delving further down, to clear Donkey’s name, and to solve the mystery of the symbol. All the characters are well-drawn, including the horrible twins whom they refer to as “the evilest twins in history.” I really enjoyed reading this, although sometimes I had to re-read to keep things clear in my head because of the time jumps. But in the end it all made sense, and I look forward to reading the next volume.

 

 

Book Review: Baptism of Fire by Andrzej Sapwkoski

Baptism of Fire (The Witcher series)     

Author: Andrzej Sapkowski

Publisher: Orbit

American release date:  June 24, 2014

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Fantasy/400 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Milva, the archer,  first meets Geralt, the Witcher, two weeks after the disastrous conclave on the Isle of Thanedd. To say she is not amused would be an understatement, especially as he has seen her face. But Geralt is a friend of Brokilon, and he is injured, so they care nothing for the politics of the situation. So when the leader of Brokilon requests that Milva assist Geralt, how can she refuse?  She can’t, although she doesn’t have to be happy about it. And she isn’t.

Dijkstra, the head of Redanian intelligence, is approached by the Nilfgaardian ambassador who seeks a criminal by the name of Cahir Mawr Dyffryn aep Caellach. Dijkstra feigns ignorance, but that man always knows more than he is willing to admit to. Once rid of the ambassador, Dijkstra writes to his sorceress, Philippa, revealing that he seeks the man as well. Not that he let slip that fact to the ambassador.

The sorceresses have their own agenda. The situation as they see it is going from bad to worse. It is only by some miracle that they were not all killed on Thanedd. They must take control of the situation before the men screw it up any more than they already have. But they must do it under the utmost secrecy as they work to reestablish the Chapter and the Council. They have to rely on one another, even the Nilfgaardian sorceresses, although there is a decided lack of trust there. They meet telepathically to lay the foundation and make plans to meet in person. Not everyone is pleased to see Assire of Nilfgaard among their number. And where is Yennefer?

Meanwhile, Ciri, who is going by the name of Falka, is having the time of her life, running with her little hoodlum pals, the Rats. So why does everyone else think she’s in Nilgaard, engaged to the emperor?

Having healed and left Brokilon, Geralt and Dandelion begin their journey. Although the Witcher think he’s inscrutable and mysterious, the poet can put two and two together and he knows where they are headed and why. And so the journey begins.

If you think there was a lot going on in the last book, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet, b-b-b-baby.

The Witcher series has three main threads which twine and intertwine about one another, those three threads belonging to 1) Geralt, 2)Ciri, and 3)Yennefer. These three are bound by a fate they cannot escape. I can only hope and trust that they will end up together when all is said and done, but that remains to be seen.

Geralt has suffered much in his lifetime, beginning with his betrayal and desertion by his birth mother, to the pains he suffered in becoming the mutant known as a witcher. He had no choice in the matter, but he has certainly embraced this life, such as it is, and is renowned far and wide for his skill and prowess at slaying monsters. On the other hand, he has assumed a mask of indifference in the way he presents himself to the world, as if nothing and no one matters to him. Nothing reaches him or touches him. He is an emotionless killer of bad things.

But we know better, don’t we?

Despite pushing the troubadour away and keeping him at arm’s length, all the while commenting on his bad singing, Geralt considers Dandelion a friend, and has saved his bacon on more than one occasion. Dandelion may be a loud mouth who speaks first and thinks afterward, a braggart who feels that embellishment of the truth is often preferable to the facts, a narcissist who thinks he is irresistible to women… but truth be told, he has a good heart, and he would do anything for Geralt. Dandelion is the only companion Geralt has tolerated for many years, and I love to see them together (and yes, while I realize there is much fanfiction on the relationship between them being more than friendship, I don’t see that and consider it so much wishful thinking).

Geralt and Yennefer—ah, that is one complicated relationship. From the moment they met, something drew them together, almost as if they were magnetized, one to the other. And even though their lovemaking is often followed by separation and anger, they manage to find their way back together again and again, as if they are unable to help themselves. To be honest, I have no idea what he sees in her, and I would be happy if he were to find another love. Such as Triss Merrigold, for instance. But alas, I don’t feel that is meant to be, thanks in large part to the wish Geralt foolishly made (see The Last Wish, although I assume you’ve read it by this point). Whether they can stay together in the end remains to be seen. Yennefer has had a rough life, and I’m sure she feels something for the Witcher, but ultimately I don’t trust her.

Ciri is Geralt’s Law of Surprise gift, a serendipitous gift for Geralt cannot father a child, so Ciri is the child he cannot have. I don’t think he ever intended to go through with taking her on as his responsibility, and evaded doing so for as long as he could. But he couldn’t stem the tide of Fate forever, and having met her, he would do anything now to protect her. Woe betide anyone who comes between him and Ciri, or threatens to harm her in any way. As for Ciri, I worry about what will become of her after her time with the Rats. I think she likes killing a bit too much, and being a law unto herself. Will she be able to return to a more normal life, relatively speaking, or will she become more rebellious than ever? She’s always been a willful handful, but now…

There are some very interesting secondary characters in this book. If you’ve played the game (I’m only on the first one) you may recognize some of them, such as Zoltan Chivay.  And some interesting new friends, such as Regis. The plot is exquisitely intricate as the author spins an amazing web of intrigue, war, deceit, love, mystery, supernatural, and so much more.

If you love the books, watch the series. Henry Cavill plays Geralt brilliantly

Another great book in the series, looking forward to the next one!

 

Book Review: Lust in the Caribbean by Noah Harris

Lust in the Caribbean     

Author: Noah Harris

American release date: August 6, 2017

Format/Genre/Length: Kindle/LGBT Romance/332 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★

Reviewer: Noah Harris

 

Being a young gay man in the year 1710 is not easy, as Thomas Treadwell can attest. He yearns to be free to be who he is. Shipping out on the Virtue, under Captain Temperance Stone, Thomas discovers that he is not alone in his desire for relations with the same sex. The ship’s head becomes the place for men to hook up anonymously in the night in order to save face during the light of day. But when Thomas is careless and gets caught with another man, there is hell to pay as Captain Stone orders the two men to be whipped to death!

Thomas watches helplessly as his previously unknown hook-up is beaten first and dies. But just as it’s Thomas’ turn to face death, a look-out fortuitously announces the arrival of another ship. Not just any ship, but a pirate ship called Manhunter, infamous for its figurehead which resembles a muscular naked man with a golden appendage, and because it is rumored to contain an all-gay crew!

The pirate ship, with its erotic take on the traditional Jolly Roger flag, hauls up beside the Virtue,  which it clearly outguns. Captain Stone has no choice but to surrender, after first ascertaining the safety of his crew’s “booty” among the gay pirates, who claim they don’t need to ravish anyone, they have plenty of “booty” on their own ship.  The pirates board the ship and their captain, Captain Seawolf, discovers Thomas lashed to the mast and discovers why he is being punished then offers him a chance to go with the pirates, which Thomas reluctantly accepts. He doesn’t really wish to do so, as he doesn’t agree with piracy as a way of life, but he also knows if he stays behind, he will die. Quite the quandary.

And so the adventure begins….

Lust in the Caribbean can be looked on as one man’s journey to be himself despite living in a time of great hypocrisy and prejudice. But primarily it is a sexual adventure, as Thomas revels in the freedom of living openly as a gay man among the pirates. There is a lot of sex in this book, believe it, as well as adventures, as the pirates go from situation to situation.  And what is a pirate story without treasure? Plus, once Thomas learns the secret of some of the crew, he is told he can never leave, but by then will he want to?

Great literature? No, it’s not. The writing is rough at times, and is filled with blatantly purple prose, and it would definitely benefit from better editing. Not to mention, I would say, if given the chance to speak with Mr. Harris, please don’t say sex juice ever again. Ever.  That. Is. Not. Hot. The author certainly knows how to tell a tale, though.  The story definitely held my attention. The characters are fairly well-written, and he does know how to write sex scenes. I suspect the major reason he hasn’t been dinged for bestiality, though, is that he manages to veil it in the guise of the main character keeping his eyes closed and not seeing what or who he is actually copulating with under the full moon. Oh, and did I mention there’s a merman or two? That being said, this is definitely only for mature audiences.

If you’re looking for a story with a lot of sex, this one won’t disappoint. I’ve seen smutty books that aren’t nearly as well written. If you’re looking for great fiction, go somewhere else. For what it is, I considered it to be satisfactory indeed. I might have to check out some of the author’s other writing.

 

Book Review: Spy x Family, Vol 1 by Tatsuya Endo

Spy x Family, Vol 1     

Author: Tatsuya Endo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: June 2, 2020

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Action & Adventure/220 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Twilight is the best spy in Westalis, a master of disguise. He lives and works undercover in the neighboring country of Ostania. As he reads the information on his next assignment, he’s shocked to learn that he is required to have a wife and child (neither of which he currently has). The target in question, a very dangerous man who is a threat to the peace between east and west, is very reclusive and the only way to reach him is through the elite private school his son attends. As if this wasn’t bad enough, the deadline for admissions is fast approaching. Twilight only has a week to find a wife and child and enroll that child at Eden Academy!

Twilight’s first stop is an orphanage to find a child—a rather shady orphanage at best. But perhaps that will suit his purposes better. He has no experience with children, but reasons that he must find the smartest one he can, so the child can pass the entrance exam to the academy. He finds a girl working a crossword, but she seems too young for the school. She is quick to assure him she is six years old. Little does he realize that Anya is a telepath! Twilight chooses her and is relieved to find no paperwork involved—he is told to take her and go.

Now… to find a wife.

At City Hall, in the capital city of Berlint, Yor is different from the other women she works with. Quiet, and somewhat naïve, she is the object of constant criticism in the guise of helpful hints, such as improving her appearance so she can find a man. Her brother Yuri worries about her, and calls her often. To relieve his mind, she tells him she has a boyfriend and is going to a party that weekend. What no one knows is that Yor is actually an assassin, and a darn good one! But how is she going to find a “boyfriend” to take to a party on such short notice?

Three people are on a collision course with destiny! Each one has needs—Twilight a wife, Yor a boyfriend, and Anya a family. When chance—or is that Fate?—brings them together, they decide to form a family. Will they be able to fulfill Twilight’s mission and gain Anya admission into Eden Academy? And if they do, how long can they maintain their cover… and how long will they want to?

This is the first volume of the series. I confess that it was love at first sight when I saw the cover! And reading the description only made me want it even more. I pre-ordered the first three volumes, the first of which just came out. I love the artwork, and I love the premise of the story, which did not fail to deliver when it arrived. It’s an action adventure story, but there is a lot of humor in these pages as well, and more. The characters are all well drawn, even if the plot is rather basic. It’s not a series about spies as much as it is about people. I see the two countries involved, Westalis and Ostania, as thinly veiled disguises for East and West Germany. (I mean, come on, Berlint?) But that doesn’t really matter. The spy action is secondary to the character development, watching these three interact, each using their unique talents for the benefit of the other two.

Of course, being the romantic that I am, I’m hoping that by the end of the series, Twilight (whose real name I hope to learn) and Yor will fall in love for real and they both embrace Anya as their daughter, so that they become a real family. Only time will tell!

Also take note of Twilight’s co-worker, Franky, who is a hoot and lots of fun.

Great start to the series, looking forward to volume 2!

Book Review: The Way of the Househusband, Vol 3 by Kousuke Oono

The Way of the Househusband, Vol 3     

Author: Kousuke Oono

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: May 19, 2020

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

 

Miku arrives home to find Tatsu in a panic and their home in disarray. When she questions him, Tatsu says it’s the black bullet, a hitman with a lot of balls. But he swears he’s not going down without a fight!

When Masa goes to the store with Tatsu, he’s surprised to see his former boss pa Christmasy apron and a Santa cap! Tatsu tells Masa it’s for the neighborhood kids club Christmas party. The kids are somewhat taken aback by Tatsu’s appearance. He certainly isn’t the traditional Santa they expected! Tatsu’s got it all covered, as he puts his own spin on the festivities!

Miku comes home from work, exhausted, to find that Tatsu intends to pamper her with a variety of foods calculated to give her the boost she needs. However, she questions his methods when he pulls out a blindfold. Will this have the effect he hopes it will?

Tatsu is looking to make some cash in a hurry. Something to utilize his particular skill set. Can he serve his customers to their satisfaction?

While browsing the clearance section of the grocery store, Tatsu runs across the wife of the Torii group, who apparently works there. She recognizes him and they catch up on old times.

While Miku and Tatsu are shopping together, Miku suddenly drags him off to show him that there is a live Policure show going on! When the call goes out to the audience for a volunteer to come to the rescue and afterwards have their picture taken with the members of the show, Miku is too shy to volunteer. What else can her loving husband do but offer to go in her stead?

Masa has acquired an item he isn’t sure how to handle, so he comes to Tatsu for advice. Together, can they figure out how to use a toaster oven?

Tatsu encounters his old boss, whom he hasn’t spoken with since he left the family. The boss has something he wants to discuss with Tatsu. Will he suck Tatsu back into the yakuza life?

Masa comes to Tatsu’s apartment, meeting Miku for the first time, in order to bring Tatsu’s birthday present. When he sees the state of the apartment, he offers to help Miku surprise Tatsu when he comes home later that evening. Together, will they make this an occasion to remember?

I am so in love with these books, and with Tatsu! I’ve already pre-ordered the next volume! Tatsu is so adorable! I love him and Miku together. I would love to see more of their past lives, and how they became a couple, see what changed Tatsu from yakuza to house-husband.

The story is very funny, and also touching. The artwork is fabulous, and the characters memorable. I’ve seen some reviewers call the series one-note. I prefer to think of it as variations on a theme, all of them good, and very much fun to read. I would love to see an anime made from this!

Can’t wait for the next volume, although I’ll have to. I think it comes out in September.  lol

 

Book Review: Hamilton’s Battalion by Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, and Alyssa Cole

Hamilton’s Battalion: A Trio of Romances     

Authors: Alyssa Cole, Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan

Publisher: Courtney Milan

American release date: October 17, 2017

Format/Genre/Length: Kindle/Gay Romance/Interracial Romance/378 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer:  Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Hamilton’s Battalion is a trio of novellas, set during and after the American Revolution. After the death of her husband, Alexander Hamilton, Elizabeth Hamilton collected reminiscences from those who knew him, particularly those who fought with him during the war. That was the inspiration for these tales, told by three different authors.

Promised Land by Rose Lerner

Corporal Ezra Jacobs is actually Rachel Mendelson, a Jewish woman who also wants to fight for her country. Once married to Nathan Mendelson, she left that life behind five years ago, letting him think her dead. Don’t ask—it’s complicated! But when she accidentally runs into him in the middle of her camp, she pegs him as a spy and turns him in. However, things are not what they seem. Now Rachel and Nathan have to make sense of who they were as opposed to who they are now. Have they been brought together for a reason… and will the war tear them apart in the most final way possible?

The Pursuit of… by Courtney Milan

Corporal John Hunter is serving in the rebel army with the promise of being freed from his condition of slavery once the war has been won. His concern is for his sister and her child, and he wants to return to them as quickly as possible to make sure they are all right. When he accidentally runs across a British soldier named Henry Latham, Henry’s first comment to him is “Nice weather for a siege, isn’t it?”

These men are opposites, yet they soon find themselves together under circumstances which would have been impossible before the revolution, as they travel to Rhode Island. What began as a confrontation could change… but for the better or not remains to be seen. John has never met anyone who talks as much as Henry. And as for his cheese… well, the less said about that the better.

As opposite as night and day, they find themselves drawn to each other by a power too strong to fight. But considering the day and age, will they be allowed to be happy together? Or will they be forced to separate forever?

That Could be Enough by Alyssa Cole

Mercy Alston works for Elizabeth Hamilton, helping her to preserve the stories she collects from the people who served with her late husband, Alexander Hamilton. When another young black woman, Andromeda Stiel, comes on behalf of her grandfather, Mercy is immediately drawn to the beautiful dressmaker. Andromeda is lively and flirtatious and utterly enchanting… and she seems to be very attracted to Mercy as well.

But Mercy has known too much heartache from other women, so she’s buttoned herself up and walled off that part of her heart which might respond to Andromeda. Mercy doesn’t believe happiness is in store for her, and she’s not willing to take a chance again. Not to mention society frowns on such as they. She has her work with Mrs. Hamilton, as well as taking care of her daughter Angelica, who has not been the same since her brother Phillip was shot in a duel years before, while defending their father.

Can Andromeda get through to Mercy and show her that she deserves to be loved? Or will she live in the memory of lost lives, like Mrs. Hamilton and her daughter?

I loved each of these novellas. Each tells a different story, and each writer has her own style, but together this is one great read. I love all things Hamilton, so when I ran across the book, I had to buy it. I’m glad I did. Each story has one thing in common… love. People in love. And each couple has its own obstacles, whether it’s an interfering Jewish mother-in-law or a society that does not allow people of the same sex to love one another or people who are of different races.

Prior to reading this, I was familiar with Alyssa Cole, and have reviewed several of her books, I didn’t know Rose Lerner, and Courtney Milan was on my to-read list.

If I had to pick my favorite couple, that would be a hard choice, but I think I would go with John and Henry, because I do love a good story about two men, and these two are wonderful, each in his own way. The first story was a good introduction to many Jewish customs and traditions I was unaware of. And while I did not warm up to Mercy and Andromeda immediately, it didn’t take long for them to click with me. Especially when I realized Andromeda felt the same as I do about Mrs. Hamilton wasting her life on a man who not only is dead but who mistreated her when he was alive and certainly didn’t deserve to be canonized.

This is a must-read for anyone who loves Hamilton, but I also recommend it to those who enjoy history, and those who like good love stories. This has all of that and more!

 

 

 

Book Review: Soul Eater, Vol 9 by Atshushi Ohkubo

Soul Eater, Vol 9   

Author: Atsushi Ohkubo

Publisher: Yen Press

American release date: April 8, 2014

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/204 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer:  Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Death the Kid has gone to the DWMA library, determined to learn all he can about the mysterious Eibon, who is supposedly the same as the Shinigami. Wth? He tells the librarian he needs to go through the books in the level 4 stacks, but she tells him he isn’t allowed access, as he’s just a one-star meister. But when he shows her his badge, and she realizes he’s the Shinigami’s son, suddenly she’s all kinds of cooperative and offers to fetch the books he wants herself. Unfortunately, the one book on Eibon the library owns was checked out two months previously and never returned. The only signature is a single M. Kid has a bad feeling he knows who that is.

Crona is in a touch position. He is beginning to make friends for the first time and has been accepted by Maka and her friends, only to be approached by his crazy mother, Medusa, who has an errand for him. How can he please her without betraying his friends? Does he even have the strength to stand up to her, even after the way she has treated him? Ragnarok is no help, constantly reminding Crona that if he doesn’t do as Medusa says, she will get very angry with him. Crona just can’t handle anger…

While searching DWMA for the secret vault, Crona runs into Marie, and is fearful she will be suspicious of his being where he should not be. Luckily, she is clueless and thinks he is lost, just like her, and offers to help him find his way. The blind leading the blind! Will her assistance be worse than her thinking he’s up to something?

Crona receives his next assignment, when he fails to find the vault. He has to bug Dr. Stein’s lab!

The worst meister ever at DWMA is Hero, a guy the other students pick on and use for menial tasks. But Hero has a goal—to claim the Holy Sword as his weapon. Then no one will treat him like that. So what if it comes with some strange requirements he has to meet. The fight is on! How long will DWMA remain under Hero’s control?

Shinigami informs Stein that Arachnophobia knows the whereabouts of another Demon Tool known as Brew. Stein must begin more intensive duel instructions with his students immediately! Teams who are unable to synchronize their wavelengths will be cut from Stein’s class by the end of the day! Maka, Black Star, and Kid are failing spectacularly, and things aren’t looking good for them. Maka wants Black Star off the team, but Stein refuses. Can they get their act together in time or will they end up being cut?

Brew is located on an island just north of Alaska, Lost Island. But there’s a catch. Once the witches had a demon tool development facility on the island, but it was accidentally destroyed. Because of that a magnetic field has arisen, keeping people from approaching the island. Anyone who lingers inside the magnetic field risk permanent damage to their body. Twenty minutes is the limit. The timer has begun, the race is on!

This volume of Soul Eater introduces us to a couple of students we haven’t met before, including Hero, Pot Meister Kilik Rung, Lamp Meister Kim Diehl, and Spear Meister Ox Ford. Before this, we seldom saw other students, so it’s good to have that chance now.

Death the Kid is one of my favorite characters. Despite his quirks, he’s a really good Shinigami, and has a strong sense of justice. I know he will research Eibon until he finds an answer, no matter where the information leads him.  Stein has come a long way since we first met him. I can see what a good instructor he is. He won’t let the students get hurt if he can help it. Interesting that he and Marie are living together now. I hadn’t seen him as the domestic type. You have to feel sorry for Crona, caught between a rock and a hard place—the mother he loves, for some unknown reason, and the new friends he’s made at DWMA. I suspect that when the time comes, he will do the right thing.

Justin is on top of his game in this volume, and shows he is more than just that annoying weapon. Watching Maka, Black Star and Kid attempt to resonate together, and failing at it, is just a reminder that despite what kind of students they are, they are still teenagers who have a lot to learn. But they will, I’m sure.

Another appearance by Mifune, whom I truly believe will end up on the right side in the end, and DWMA will learn a lesson in tolerance as well.

A special mysterious guest appearance at the end of the book sets us up for the next one! Not sure when I’ll be able to read that, since the libraries are closed right now because of COVID-19, but will get to it as soon as I can. Looking forward to it!