Graphic Novel Review: Bleach, Vol. 4: Quincy Archer Hates You by Tite Kubo

 

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

This volume of Bleach gets off to a fantastic start as Kon, feeling unappreciated, runs away from Ichigo’s room.  He is beset by one misadventure after another, until he runs home to Ichigo’s arms, screaming like a girl.  Poor Kon!  He really gets no respect!  If Rukia isn’t trying to clean him with a bathroom broom, Yuzu is dressing him in fru-fru clothes and gluing flowers to his ear.  Ichigo’s gruff indifference would certainly be preferable to that!

The next story arc is a winner.  It’s absolutely hilarious, and packed with explosions and ghostly wailing.  When TV sensation Don Kanonji arrives in town to excise a spirit at an abandoned hospital, Ichigo is forced to tag along with his family.  Yuzu and his dad are nuts about the popular spiritualist; Ichigo, not so much.  He thinks the celebrity is a big phoney, so  imagine his surprise when it turns out that Kanonji actually can see spirits.  Too bad he turns a chained spirit into a Hallow. Oops!  Not one of his better moments!  Good thing Ichigo is there to save the day, as well as the enormous crowd of cheering fans.

I love Don Kanonji.  He is so flamboyant and a total attention hog, but he takes his position as role model for his young viewers very seriously.  When the ghost changes into a Hallow, instead of running away, he’s ready to sacrifice himself so Ichigo can send him off with his zanpakto.  This is one of Ichigo’s most amusing adventures so far, and I found myself laughing aloud several times during the story arc.  Even my favorite supporting character, Kisuke makes a timely appearance, enabling Ichigo to race to Don Kanonji’s aid.

The volume closes with the start of a story arc introducing Uryu Ishida, a bow toting Quincy who hates Soul Reapers.  He’s made it his mission to take out the Hallows before Rukia and Ichigo can even get to the scene, and then he taunts them for their incompetence.  It’s a promising beginning for Ichigo’s next challenge, and I can hardly wait to read the next volume of Bleach. 

Grade:  A

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

A new reality-show craze is sweeping the nation, garnering legions of screaming fans (the majority of them being teenaged girls). But this program comes with a supernatural twist – the host, a media-savvy spiritualist, travels to local hotspots and performs exorcisms, live on national TV!

Surly Soul Reaper Ichigo Kurosaki has his doubts about this primetime prima donna, and his assumptions are about to be put to the test – the show is heading straight for his neighborhood. what effect will this unprovoked media presence have on the fragile balance between Earth and the spirit world?

Manga Review: Bleach Vol 3 by Tite Kubo

 

Bleach, Vol. 3: Memories in the Rain

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

Sorry for the long break between volumes of Bleach.  The Viz Manga app wasn’t working on my Kindle Fire for some reason.  I deleted it and re-installed it, and that made things even worse. Then today, several weeks later,  I tried to use it again, and – viola!  It worked again!  I thought technology was supposed to make things easier, not more confusing!

I loved this volume!  It gives so much insight into Ichigo’s character.  On the anniversary of his mother’s death, his family visits her grave, and Ichigo is forced to remember the terrible day that she was killed.  He blames himself for her death, and when a Hallow attacks his sisters, he realizes it’s the same spirit that killed his mother.  He’s enraged and determined to kill the Grand Fisher, even though he’s hopelessly overpowered by the evil being.

The reason I like this series so much is pretty much summed up by this volume.  Ichigo will do anything to protect his family, even sacrifice himself, without a second thought.  As the facts of his mother’s death are slowly revealed, one little tidbit at a time, we learn what Ichigo was like before her death, and how his guilt changed him.  He is consumed by his inability to protect his mother, and now he’s allowed the Hallow to injure his sisters.  With his new Soul Reaper powers, he’s got a fighting chance to do what he couldn’t do in the past.  The Hallow mocks him for being impulsive and for allowing his emotions to get the best of him, but these are the qualities that give Ichigo his strength.  With his limitless compassion and desire to do what’s right, he is able to tap into a limitless wellspring of strength.  He faces his own regrets, and asks Rukia to let him keep her Soul Reaper powers for a while longer, so he can protect those who are weak and in need of help.  This is the first time that he acknowledges that he has a greater duty to save others, and his reluctance to destroy Hallows disappears.

I like Bleach because Ichigo is a good guy (this is also why I like Kekkaishi and Kenshin).  He has manufactured a tough guy image, but deep down, he is a knight in shining armor.  He wants to help and he wants to protect, even if it means putting himself in danger.  How can you not like a guy who is willing to do that?

This volume continues to improve on the series, and I am looking forward to reading Volume 4!

Grade:  A-

From Amazon:

Ichigo Kurosaki was a little boy when his mother passed away. One rainy day, Ichigo, whose ability top see the undead is a blessing and curse, tried to stop young girl from drowning in a nearby river. His mother, Masaki, ran after them, frantically trying to rescue her only son. Then everything went black, and Ichigo awoke only to discover his mother dead and the little girl gone.

It’s the anniversary of Masaki’s death, and the entire Kurosaki clan, along with former Soul Reaper Rukia Kuchiki, head to the cemetary to pay their respects. Sleeping demons rarely ever stay still and pretty soon Ichigo confronts the Grand Fisher, the Hollow that may be responsible for his mother’s demise.

Review copy provided by publisher

Novella Review: One Thousand and One Nights by Ruth Browne

One Thousand and One Nights (Entangled Ever After)

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Sheri spends her days fighting zombies and her nights chained to a wall, earning her every breath by telling stories to her captor Aleksy—stories that make them both forget the ruined world. Sheri could put up with the conditions—at least she knows her sister is safe in the community Aleksy leads—until she realizes she’s falling for him…even though he wants her dead.When Aleksy allowed Sheri and her sister into his compound, he didn’t know about the zombie bite on her back. It’s only a matter of time before she turns into one of the rising dead and threatens their existence, but Aleksy has a secret need for Sheri and her stories. For everyone’s safety, he chains her to his bedroom wall, hoping for just one more day. But how long will the community allow Aleksy to ignore his own rule: always kill the infected. Always.

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Review: Bleach Vol 2 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol. 2

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Immediately after checking into the Kurosaki Clinic with a mysterious scar on his back, the muscle-bound Chad goes AWOL. Accompanying Chad is a talking parakeet imbued with the soul of a young boy named Y?ichi. It doesn’t take newbie Soul Reaper Ichigo Kurosaki long to surmise that a Hollow must be involved. By far the strongest spirit he’s faced to date, Ichigo is about to discover that not every soul is bound for the Soul Society, especially if it’s tainted with innocent blood

Review:

I loved this volume of Bleach!  Picking up right where the first volume left off, Chad  is in oodles of trouble because of a possessed parakeet.  Housing the soul of the a young boy, Chad has promised to keep him safe, unaware that a Hallow is hot on their heels.  It’s a good thing that Chad is a strong, sturdy fellow, because the evil spirit does its level best to thoroughly annihilate him.  Rukia tries to race to the rescue, but without her Soul Reaper powers, she’s even more helpless than Chad and the parakeet!  Ichigo is temporarily out of the picture.  His sister Karin is very ill, and he’s been tasked with seeing her home safely.  Will he get to Rukia and Chad in time to save the day?

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Mini Review: Fortunately, The Milk by Neil Gaiman

Fortunately, the Milk

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

"I bought the milk," said my father. "I walked out of the corner shop, and heard a noise like this: T h u m m t h u m m. I looked up and saw a huge silver disc hovering in the air above Marshall Road."

"Hullo," I said to myself. "That’s not something you see every day. And then something odd happened."

Find out just how odd things get in this hilarious story of time travel and breakfast cereal, expertly told by Newbery Medalist and bestselling author Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Skottie Young.

Review:

I love Neil Gaiman’s writing, and I love that he’s so entertaining in so many different creative arenas.  He creates for adults and children with equal skill, and don’t forget his celebrated writing for comics.  He confidently stretches his creative muscle, and his audience is made the richer for his efforts.

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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

Review: Under a Graveyard Sky by John Ringo

 

 

Title: Under a Graveyard Sky

Author:  John Ringo

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Zombies are real. And we made them. Are you prepared for the zombie apocalypse? The Smith family is, with the help of a few marines.

When an airborne “zombie” plague is released, bringing civilization to a grinding halt, the Smith family, Steven, Stacey, Sophia and Faith, take to the Atlantic to avoid the chaos. The plan is to find a safe haven from the anarchy of infected humanity. What they discover, instead, is a sea composed of the tears of survivors and a passion for bringing hope.

For it is up to the Smiths and a small band of Marines to somehow create the refuge that survivors seek in a world of darkness and terror. Now with every continent a holocaust and every ship an abattoir, life is lived under a graveyard sky.


Review:

When I saw Under a Graveyard Sky on Netgalley, I immediately clicked the request button.  I just can’t get enough of zombie books (you won’t catch me watching zombies shows, though – too gross!), and this sounded intriguing.  It takes place right as a plague is decimating the human population, causing chaos and countless, bloody loss of life.  The first 15% of the book felt a little draggy, as the author expounded on the science behind the man-made illness that was causing the infected to attack and eat their fellow humans.  The biology of it exhausted me, but not to worry!  Once things got underway with the out of control sickness, I was hooked, hooked, hooked!  I was reading this everywhere – when I was filling the gas tank, standing in line at the store, even making extended visits to the bathroom so I could have a little peace and quiet time away from the puppers so I could find out what happened next!

This is a blast to read.  The Smith family has fled to the sea in an attempt to escape the certain death that comes after contracting the virus, which is a modified form of  rabies.  The Smiths have been training for the end of the world for years, and they are more than prepared for the challenges ahead.  What they didn’t really count on was their daughters getting caught up right in the thick of things back on shore.  Steve’s brother has promised to keep the girls safe – and occupied – if they are allowed to help back in New York.  While this section of the tale didn’t make much sense to me, it did  get the action firmly moving forward.  Faith, the youngest daughter, seems to have a zombie beacon strapped to her back, because everywhere she turns, there’s another one, ready to bite her face off.  The fact that Steve and Stacey allowed their girls to go ashore once they were relatively safe on their boat didn’t seem like a smart idea to me, especially when they decide to go to a concert in the park. In the dark.  In the middle of a zombie apocalypse.   But no matter, it got my heart racing at the mere thought of being in that much danger, self-inflected or not, and made for very entertaining reading.

Once the family gets back on the water and sets sail for parts unknown, things really get nuts.  After rescuing a young girl, the only survivor after her family turns and tries to eat her, from their yacht, Steve has a new mission in life.  He isn’t going to take this zombie thing sitting down.  No way!  Steve is going to save as many people as he can, and take out as many zombies as he can, because there are people out there trapped and starving on boats just like Tina’s.  Now, I never stopped to think about what it would be like to be trapped in a cabin with no food or water while my family was locked outside, noisily eating each other.  Now that I have, well, I don’t know that being on a ship in the middle of the ocean would be such a good idea after all.  Especially if someone was infected, but we didn’t find out until it was too late.  What do you do?  Try to throw them overboard before they bite your brains out?  Not a pleasant thought, any way you contemplate it.

The sea rescues did get a little repetitive, at least until they got to the cruise ship.  Then it was Holy Crap, you have GOT to be kidding me!  How are a handful of people going to wade through that many zombies?  Despite some lags in pacing, I found this a fun, fun read.  The challenges faced by the small band of survivors made for compelling reading.  I couldn’t put my reader down, and I blew through this book in no time flat.  My one, major complaint?  Those three dreaded words on the last page – To Be Continued.  NO!! Really???  Why couldn’t there be just a teeny tiny bit of closure?!  The wait for To Sail a Darkling Sea isn’t THAT bad, but come on!  It won’t be out until February of next year!

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Waiting on Wednesday–To Sail a Darkling Sea by John Ringo

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

I enjoyed the heck out of Under a Graveyard Sky, so I am quite eager to get my hands on To Sail A Darkling Sea by John Ringo.  Check back tomorrow for my review of the first book in his zombie apocalypse series!

 

BOOK II IN THE BLACK TIDE RISING SERIES FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLING AUTHOR. Sequel to Under a Graveyard Sky. A family of survivors fights back against a zombie plague that has brought down civilization.
A World Cloaked in Darkness
With human civilization annihilated by a biological zombie plague, a rag-tag fleet of yachts and freighters known as Wolf Squadron scours the Atlantic, searching for survivors. Within every abandoned liner and carrier lurks a potential horde, safety can never be taken for granted, and death and turning into one of the enemy is only a moment away.
The Candle Flickers
Yet every ship and town holds the flickering hope of survivors. One and two from lifeboats, a dozen from a fishing village, a few hundred wrenched by fury and fire from a ship that once housed thousands…
Light a Flame
Now Wolf Squadron must take on another massive challenge: clear the assault carrier USS Iwo Jima of infected before the trapped Marines and sailors succumb to starvation. If Wolf Squadron can accomplish that task, an even tougher trial waits: an apocalyptic battle to win a new dawn for humanity. The war for civilization begins as the boats of the Wolf Squadron become a beacon of hope on a Darkling Sea.

What are you waiting on?