Review: Bleach Vol 1 by Tite Kubo

 

Title: Bleach Vol 1

Author:  Tite Kubo

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Hot-tempered 15-year-old Ichigo Kurosaki, the hero of the popular fantasy-adventure Bleach, has the unsettling ability to see spirits who are unable to rest in peace. His sixth sense leads him to Rukia, a Soul Reaper who destroys Hollows (soul-devouring monsters) and ensures the deceased find repose with the Soul Society. When she’s injured in battle, Rukia transfers her sword and much of her power to Ichigo, whose spiritual energy makes him a formidable substitute Soul Reaper. But the orange-haired teenager isn’t sure he wants the job: too many risks and moral dilemmas.


Review:

Bleach is one of my favorite series, and I realized with a great deal of dismay that I am far, far behind in my reading of this title.  I don’t think I’ve reviewed many of the volumes, so I opted to take advantage of a comp copy through Vizmanga.com to reacquaint myself with Ichigo, Rukia, and the rest of the gang.  This is a very fun series that features a ton of action, surprisingly touching emotions, and fan favorite protagonists in both Ichigo and Ruikia.  If you enjoyed The Ghost and the Goth or The Curse Workers by Holly Black, I think you should give Bleach a try.  Admittedly, the length of the series is daunting, and it’s still being published, but there are enough volumes released in English that you can read it in manageable chunks by utilizing online sales and trips to the library. 

Ichigo Kurosaki is 15 years old and he can see ghosts.  His sisters can too, though all they can see are faint outlines.  Ichigo can see, touch, talk to, and channel these pesky spirits that he thinks are a pain in the butt.  He just wants to be left alone to mind his own business but NOPE!  That’s not happening.  Ichigo also has a high moral obligation to help anyone in trouble, even those troublesome ghosts.  When an evil spirit threatens to hurt his family, he’s forced to borrow Soul Reaper powers from Rukia, a Soul Reaper who was badly injured saving his bacon.  Too hurt to fight, she offers to lend Ichigo half of her dark powers so he can save his family.  She’s dismayed to discover that he’s so spiritually powerful that he steals all of them, and now she can’t get them back!

I love the relationship between Ichigo and Rukia.  Their back and forth banter is humorous and full of snark.  While Ichigo isn’t exactly disrespectful, he doesn’t understand the need to put himself in danger, fighting the Hollows, regardless of the obligation he acquired when he snatched away all of Rukia’s power.  When the chips are down, though, her forceful prodding  makes him realize how important a Soul Reaper’s duties are.  If he doesn’t take care of the restless spirits, they will eventually turn into Hollows, and once they become these evil monsters, they lose their last shred of humanity.  There is no going back, and the Hollows have an insatiable need to feed on souls.   Rukia put her life at risk to save Ichigo and his family, so he acknowledges that he has a duty to help Rukia until she can figure out a way to get her powers back.

Ichigo is one of my favorite characters because he can’t stand to see an injustice and not want to correct it.  He and One Piece’s Luffy have a lot in common. Both of them will give their heart and soul, not to mention their life, to defend those needing help.  They are white knights in attitude.  Ichigo can’t turn his back on bullying, or just stand by when someone is about to get hurt.  He’s not perfect, and there are many times when he should learn to keep his mouth shut, but he can’t do it.  He is fiercely devoted to his friends and family, and he won’t let anyone hurt them.  Now that he’s a Soul Reaper by default, he can’t ignore when a soul is in danger, either.

The first volume of Bleach is fast-paced, brimming with frantic action, yet it doesn’t let the characters and their interactions take a back seat to all of the fighting.  That is what I enjoy most about Bleach.  The character come to life for me, and I so badly want Ichigo to master his new powers so he doesn’t come to harm.  It’s hard watching such a likeable guy getting the crap beat out of him, even though I have few doubts that he’ll always persevere.  That assurance is the main appeal of manga for me.  I know that even as the protagonists are facing certain doom, they will eventually find a solution to all of their problems.  Reading along as they figure that out is what makes reading them so rewarding.

Grade:  A-

Review copy provided by publisher

New Adult Sleepover Weekend Blog Tour & Giveaway!


New Adult Sleepover Weekend is a convention taking place December 6th – 8th featuring some of today’s BEST SELLING New Adult authors, and some upcoming authors that you want to keep on your radar.

The weekend will be filled with parties, a book signing, reader and author dinners, and tons more! Not only do you get to discover some new authors, but you get to know them on a personal level.

Damaris @ Good Choice Reading is co-director of the con, and she has also put together an amazing blog tour to give readers a chance to get to know the authors before the convention. This blog tour will be filled with book highlights, reviews, sneak peeks into the authors books, and tons of giveaways! This tour will run from now until September! Yes, you read correctly. A 5 month tour and at the end of every month a chance to win big!

Some of the giveaways involve Gift Cards, books, and even two registrations to NASW! All donated by the authors. So if you’re thinking about attending, make sure you check out the blog tour, which I am proud to be a tour host for.

This months FIRST NASW giveaway is below. You can enter just for checking out this post!

Just keep an eye for the following logo’s below for your chance to win! You can enter each blog tour stop, not just once.

      

Check out the NASW13 website: http://newadultsleepover.blogspot.com/

To keep up with any updates, “LIKE” NASW13 on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NewAdultSleepoverWeekend


Be sure to check out the following blogs listed below, for a chance to win this month awesome prize!



Let the fun begin!!! 


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Interview with Sydney Somers, Author of Busted

Please welcome special guest Sydney Somers!  Sydney is here to chat about the third book in the Promise Harbor Wedding series.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Sydney Somers] Romance writer, book lover, chatty introvert, margarita maker, culinary disaster, zombie enthusiast, video game addict, loves life.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Busted?

[Sydney Somers] Busted is the third book in the Promise Harbor Wedding series and features a reformed rebel heroine turned police detective, who arrests the hometown hockey legend the night before his best friend’s wedding. The blurb says it better than I do though. :)

Hockey star Jackson Knight has a hundred reasons not to return to Promise Harbor, but none of them are good enough to get him out of attending his best friend’s wedding. Even with a career-ending knee injury, every puck-bunny in town will be gunning for him.

Worse, getting a pair of cuffs slapped on him at the bachelor party could ruin any chance of getting back in the game, even as a coach. Unless he can convince the arresting officer to smooth things over—by going to the wedding as his date.

Hayley Stone figures posing as Jackson’s girlfriend is the least she can do to salvage his reputation. Plus, having a man with a toe-curling smile on her arm will keep her ex off her back.

What starts as a simple plan to deflect small-town pot-shots unexpectedly becomes a sizzling night that hits Jackson like a full-body-check to the heart. Now he’s determined to prove that she’s the best of reason of all to come home—for good.

Warning: Contains a fiery powerplay both on and off the ice, skin-tingling forced intimacy, interfering grandparents, bear costume hijinks, a haunted house and the kind of game-changing chemistry worth fighting for.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Sydney Somers] The concept for the Promise Harbor Wedding series was brainstormed by Kelly Jamieson, Meg Benjamin, Erin Nicholas and myself. Once we had the idea of a wedding that doesn’t go off as planned, we basically broke the wedding party down so that each author took one as a main character. From the start I knew I had the best man, Jackson, and that was pretty much it, until I got this image in my head of a woman sitting in a church musing about the fact that she’d arrested her wedding date. I was off and running after that.

I’m also a big hockey fan and have always wanted to write about a hockey player, but I knew it would take a certain kind of woman to keep Jackson on his toes. Hayley was up for the challenge though. :)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Hayley?

[Sydney Somers] Determined, devoted, and if you ask Jackson, dangerous.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Jackson had a theme song, what would it be?

[Sydney Somers] Hit Me With Your Best Shot by Pat Benatar and the song definitely pops up in Busted. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRbXMW…

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Hayley is never without.

[Sydney Somers] Her gun. Or maybe that’s just AFTER she meets Jackson lol

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Jackson’s bathroom?

[Sydney Somers] Soap on a rope, coordinating hand towel sets or bubble bath. Hayley might bring him around on the latter.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Hayley’s greatest regret?

[Sydney Somers] Aside from arresting the best man the night before the wedding? :) Her biggest regret would definitely be not getting the chance to say goodbye to her father.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Sydney Somers] On the creative side I’m influenced by almost anything: Memories, places I’ve visited/would like to see, images, news headlines, movies, books, music. I’m constantly surprised by the story ideas triggered by all of the above, especially when paired with the question, “What If?” That’s what really fuels my imagination. :)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Sydney Somers] Wine, chocolate and a personal masseuse. A girl can dream, right? Seriously though, I can write anywhere as long I’ve got my laptop, pen and paper (because sometimes I just have to hand write) and music. Music is a must.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Sydney Somers] I recently finished Wait For You by J. Lynn (who also writes under Jennifer Armentrout) and it was my first New Adult book. I was really impressed with it!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Sydney Somers] I adored reading Nancy Drew paperbacks when I was a kid (Betty and Veronica double digests don’t really count, do they?) For the romance genre though, it would have to be Perfect by Judith McNaught. I loved the whole kidnapped and forced intimacy storyline. Before that the closest I got to reading romance were the often tragic love stories in Danielle Steel books.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Sydney Somers] When I’m not chasing after my kids, pretending I love to do laundry (doesn’t everybody?) or fighting my current addiction to Candy Crush Saga, I’m curled up with a book or trying to prove how kick butt I am at Black Ops 2. Emphasis on trying.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Sydney Somers] They can visit my website – http://www.sydneysomers.com
Friend me on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/sydneysomers https://www.facebook.com/authorsydney…
Follow me on Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/sydneysomers
Nine Naughty Novelists Blog –
http://www.ninenaughtynovelists.blogs…

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can purchase Busted and all of the other books in the Promise Harbor Wedding continuity from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below:

 

About Busted:

His game… her rules.
The Promise Harbor Wedding, Book 3
Hockey star Jackson Knight has a hundred reasons not to return to Promise Harbor, but none of them are good enough to get him out of attending his best friend’s wedding. Even with a career-ending knee injury, every puck-bunny in town will be gunning for him.
Worse, getting a pair of cuffs slapped on him at the bachelor party could ruin any chance of getting back in the game, even as a coach. Unless he can convince the arresting officer to smooth things over—by going to the wedding as his date.
Hayley Stone figures posing as Jackson’s girlfriend is the least she can do to salvage his reputation. Plus, having a man with a toe-curling smile on her arm will keep her ex off her back.
What starts as a simple plan to deflect small-town pot-shots unexpectedly becomes a sizzling night that hits Jackson like a full-body-check to the heart. Now he’s determined to prove that she’s the best of reason of all to come home—for good.

Interview with Elizabeth Chadwick, Author of Shadows and Strongholds and Giveaway!

 

Please welcome award winning author Elizabeth Chadwick to the virtual offices today!  Elizabeth’s latest historical release is Shadows and Strongholds.  After we chat about her book, you can enter for a chance to win a copy!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Elizabeth Chadwick] A time traveler who loves the Middle Ages, chocolate, chatting, her husband and her dogs. Oh, and the Marshal men!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Shadows and Strongholds?

[Elizabeth Chadwick] Certainly. It’s a coming of age story based on a family history that was written down in the 13th century. It’s set in England, on the Welsh borders, and is about a boy, Brunin FitzWarin, who is sent to be a squire at the great castle of Ludlow in the hopes that it will be the making of him after he’s had a difficult time at home. The lord he is sent to serve, Joscelin de Dinan, has two daughters. The younger one, Hawise, is something of a tomboy with a bright, forthright nature, and like no one Brunin has ever met before. There is also his lord’s ward, Marion de la Bruere, a pretty, dainty girl, who has her eye on Brunin as future husband material. It’s the story of how Brunin finds out just who he is amid the harsh realities of 12th century England with different factions fighting for the crown, and how Hawise and Marion learn their own often hard lessons as they mature during fraught times. It’s a historical novel that deals with events that actually happened, and has a fair share of swash-buckling, dramatic tension, well-seasoned with romance.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Elizabeth Chadwick] I found them in a medieval chronicle from the 13th century called The Romance of Fouke FitzWaryn. So this is based on the history of what really happened. Brunin FitzWarin and Hawise de Dinan did really exist, and this is the story of how they faced up to their challenges.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Brunin?

[Elizabeth Chadwick] Deep, smouldering, courageous

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Hawise is never without.

[Elizabeth Chadwick] Her determination

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Hawise’s bedroom?

[Elizabeth Chadwick] Small silver bells (read the novel and find out why not!), Brunin’s grandmother, Ernalt de Lylse’s hawking gauntlet.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Brunin’s greatest regret?

[Elizabeth Chadwick] Not getting to hang out with his father as man to man.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Elizabeth Chadwick] Pictures of artifacts from the Middle Ages, chocolate in all its forms, and heavy metal music.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Elizabeth Chadwick] Time enough in the day to do it, copious amounts of tea, thinking space.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Elizabeth Chadwick] Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Elizabeth Chadwick] How Far Back do you want to go? The Silver Brumby by Elyne Mitchell. That was the book that moved me on from elementary to more detailed reading.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Elizabeth Chadwick] I go for long walks with my husband and dogs, I take photographs, I read, listen to music and I cross stitch if I get a moment.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Elizabeth Chadwick] They can drop me a line at elizabethchadwick@live.co.uk. Or connect at Twitter or Facebook, details at my website www.elizabethchadwick.com

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

GIVEAWAY TIME!

Ready for your chance to win Shadows and Strongholds? Just fill out the widget below. Earn extra entries for following.  US addresses only, please.

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You can purchase Shadows and Strongholds from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below:

 

About the book:

A medieval tale of pride and strife, of coming-of-age in a world where chivalry is a luxury seldom afforded, especially by men of power.

England, 1148—ten-year-old Brunin FitzWarin is an awkward misfit in his own family. A quiet child, he is tormented by his brothers and loathed by his powerful and autocratic grandmother. In an attempt to encourage Brunin’s development, his father sends him to be fostered in the household of Joscelin de Dinan, Lord of Ludlow. Here Brunin will learn knightly arts, but before he can succeed, he must overcome the deep-seated doubts that hold him back.

Hawise, the youngest daughter of Lord Joscelin, soon forms a strong friendship with Brunin. Family loyalties mean that her father, with the young Brunin as his squire, must aid Prince Henry of Anjou in his battle with King Stephen for the English crown. Meanwhile, Ludlow itself comes under threat from Joscelin’s rival, Gilbert de Lacy. As the war for the crown rages, and de Lacy becomes more assertive in his claims for Ludlow, Brunin and Hawise are drawn into each other’s arms.

Now Brunin must defeat the shadows of his childhood and put to use all that he has learned. As the pressure on Ludlow intensifies and a new Welsh threat emerges against his own family’s lands, Brunin must confront the future head on, or fail on all counts….

Review: Peanut by Ayun Halliday & Paul Hoppe

 

 

Title: Peanut

Author: Ayun Halliday and Paul Hoppe

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

"Before you write me off as a delusional psycho, think about what it’s like to be thrown into a situation where everyone knows everyone . . . and no one knows you." Sadie has the perfect plan to snag some friends when she transfers to Plainfield High—pretend to have a peanut allergy. But what happens when you have to hand in that student health form your unsuspecting mom was supposed to fill out? And what if your new friends want to come over and your mom serves them snacks? (Peanut butter sandwich, anyone?) And then there’s the bake sale, when your teacher thinks you ate a brownie with peanuts. Graphic coming-of-age novels have huge cross-over potential, and Peanut is sure to appeal to adults and teens alike.


Review:

When I received this book, I was a bit mystified.  Why, oh why would anyone pretend to have a fatal peanut allergy?  Baffled, I dug right into this graphic novel, intrigued to see if there was a compelling reason for Sadie to fabricate such a serious health issue.  After finishing the book, I have to say that I didn’t find it.  While the characters are likable, the rationale behind Sadie’s pretend illness just didn’t cut it for me.  Sadie’s little white lie, which quickly spirals out of control, is spun in an effort to be more popular at her new school. 

After talking to a girl about her medical alert bracelet, Sadie is so fascinated by the thought of having a severe peanut allergy that she orders a bracelet of her own.  I wanted to question how she was able to accomplish this, online, without a credit card or her mother’s knowledge, but I didn’t.  I just followed along with Sadie as she experiences the unintended consequences of her little lie.  A concerned teacher has her freaked out because she hasn’t turned in a health form, signed by her mother,  to the school nurse, and that EpiPen that she’s supposed to carry with her at all times?  Yeah, she needs a prescription to have access to that prop.  When a new friend asks to see it, she flips out on him.  When her new boyfriend thinks that she’s eaten a chip cooked in peanut oil, she realizes that living with this lie isn’t going to be easy.

The thing that kept me engaged in the story was Sadie’s fear of discovery.  Afraid to fess up to her new friends, she just keeps digging herself into a deeper and deeper hole.  She is terrified that the truth will come out, and when it does, that she will lose all of the friends that she’s made.  When reality does come crashing down around her, it is every bit as awful as she feared.  I think that the fallout was shortchanged, and that mending her bridges went too easy for her.  From her first day of school, the image of herself that she projected was all based on fallacy, and the small amount of page time given for her repentance was disappointing.

The art is quirky and it works well with the tone of the story.  I loved the splash of color from Sadie’s clothes. 

Grade:  C+

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: Strobe Edge Vol 1 by Io Sakisaka

 

Title:  Strobe Edge Vol 1

Author: Io Sakisaka

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Being in love can light up your life… A sweet love story that will warm your heart!


Review: 

When I first read the book blurb above, I thought it was pretty lame.  After reading Strobe Edge, though, I think it very accurately and very succinctly describes this high school romance.  Ninako is shy and reserved, and everyone thinks she and her childhood friend, Daiki will eventually get together.  Daiki makes no secret of his feelings, but he has never voiced them, leaving Ninako, who is kind of clueless, thinking that they are just friends.  After circumstances have her and school heartthrob Ren cross paths several times, Ninako discovers how kind and thoughtful he is, and she falls in love with him.

Strobe Edge captures all of the awkwardness and exhilaration of falling in love for the first time.  Ninako falls head over heels for Ren, and who can blame her? He’s gorgeous, and better yet, he is nice.  What a combo!  As her feelings for Ren grow, so does her guilt over them.  She has finally picked up on Daiki’s feelings, and she feels awful about her lack of feelings for him.  She blames herself for leading him on, and though she doesn’t want to hurt his feelings, she knows that she has to level with him.  So along with the giddy rush she experiences whenever she sees Ren,  she realizes that her feelings are going to hurt one of her closest friends.

I don’t want to spoil any other plot points, so instead I’ll urge you to give Strobe Edge a try if you enjoy series like High School Debut and Kimi ni Todoke.  This introductory volume will leave you smiling as Ninako slowly begins to blossom, shedding her reservations and allowing herself to come out of her shell.  She knows that her heart will more than likely get broken, but for the time being, she is enjoying how she feels about Ren.  Because she is so sweet, and because she is taking this huge risk, you can’t help but cheer her on.  Will things work out between her and Ren, or is Ninako doomed to heartbreak?  I don’t know, but I can hardly wait to find out!

Grade:  wavering between a B+ and an A-

Review copy provided by publisher