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And since I only post my FoodFic musings biweekly, I don’t get to blog about every book I read. And, to be fair, not every read lends itself to a good FoodFic discussion, either because the food in the story doesn't jump out at me, or my schedule’s already full for the year, or a book’s subject matter is too dark or serious for me to lightly chat about here.
Anyway, below are most (I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few) of the books I read over the past year that weren’t reviewed here at BWATE?
And, as always, please feel free to suggest some great reads for me in the coming year. :)
I was in the mood for a little zombie chaos, so when I received a copy of Elixir as part of a blog tour, I loaded it up and started reading. Despite some reservations, I did enjoy this quick read, but I would have enjoyed it more if the protagonist hadn’t been so lacking in common sense. She hates guns and refuses to carry one. She is being attacked by a Red, a couple of guys save her by shooting the zombie, and she is upset that they didn’t try to reason with him first. Uhhhh – dudette, you are one of the few human survivors of a zombie apocalypse! Trying to reason with mindless, flesh-eating monsters will only get you killed. Really?
I kind of feel like I should write this review as a list of pros and cons, so here we go!
Lots of zombies chasing the terrified Maya after she emerges from the safe room her father installed in their house before he left for work and never returned. Her father was a chemist, and he believed that he was THIS close to finding a cure for the 212R virus, which was turning everyone who didn’t die from it into frothing beasts, completely lacking higher brain reasoning. When she runs out of water, she is forced to leave the safety of her little room, only to find herself fleeing from a pack of infecteds who want to eat her for lunch.
The zombies have a few weaknesses that give the surviving humans a chance to survive. The virus has destroyed their sense of equilibrium so they can’t climb trees or walk up a set of stairs. While they are fast and fiercely single-minded when it comes to catching a meal, this flaw makes things a little more interesting because the humans can seek higher ground, and then they have to puzzle their way away from the zombies.
Pollard, one of the young men who saves Maya from the kid zombie, is my favorite character. He wants to find a way to restore the world to the way it was, and he’s not afraid to put himself into danger to do just that. When Maya wants to go to her dad’s lab to find the antidote for 212R, he doesn’t hesitate to go with her and protect her.
Maya often behaves irrationally. I mean, to the point where she is severely lacking in common sense, has a death wish, or has somehow escaped Darwin’s theory of evolution. She is just too stupid to live at times, but sadly, the only deaths are not her own. She is hungry, dehydrated, injured, and exhausted, but instead of staying with Pollard and his little crew in a safe place, she stubbornly insists that she must carry on with her plan to get the elixir. A few days spent eating, sleeping, and resting her sprained knee would have been the best investment of her time, but no! Off she hobbles, putting others in danger and getting someone painfully killed.
Maya’s mother was killed in a horrific moment of domestic violence, and now she has a deep aversion for guns. While I can understand how losing her mother like that would make her leery of guns and the people waving them around, the world has changed. If she didn’t want to go packing, fine, but don’t berate and judge others poorly because they believe it’s now necessary to carry a firearm. Her rage at Pollard for asking questions. NEVER. before saving her hide from the Red made no sense. The kid was going to eat her. The was beating her, most likely to her death, with toy steel trucks. There was no need to ask questions, other than – is this chick worth the hassle of saving??
Maya has made it her life’s single task to find the elixir that might or might not exist. She and Pollard’s group suspect that there is a military presence at Camp Carson. Wouldn’t it make more sense to go there and ask them to retrieve it for them? It’s not like Maya could do anything with it. If she did find an antidote, she knew that the next step was to find scientists and equipment to mass produce the serum. If she gets killed before getting the serum to people who know what to do with it, she’s just destroyed everyone’s last hope for a cure.
I sense that a love triangle is brewing between Maya, Pollard, and Ben, the zombie. Ugh. I hate love triangles. And I wanted a better explanation for why Ben wasn’t a mindless, flesh consuming monster. Instead, he follows Maya around like a puppy, defending her from other Reds, occasionally uttering a vague, “Mmmmmmm.” Why? We never get an answer in this volume as to why he’ is different from others of his kind.
The cliffhanger ending is a bummer. Major league! These books are short, less than 170 pages each. It would have been better to package them together in a single download, rather than having Elixir just grind to a halt. Very frustrating! A quick check over at Amazon shows that they were all released on the same date – Feb 26 – so the only reason for breaking them into installments seems to be to make the cash register ring more often.
Despite my reservations, I did enjoy Elixir. The entire series is available for rent if you are an Amazon Prime member. Otherwise, be aware that there are three books in the series (that I know of), and they are all quite short. I’ll have a review of the next book as soon as I can fit it into my reading schedule.
Review copy provided by Bewitching Book Tours
The red plague has devastated the human race, turning billions of people into zombies with red eyes and an insatiable hunger for human flesh.
The 212R virus sweeps through the population so quickly a possible cure is left to rot. Seventeen-year-old Maya Solomon may be the only survivor who knows where it is. But to reach the lab in Raleigh, North Carolina she will have to outrun the infected boy tracking her every step and cross into a city swarming with monsters.
Well, Attack on Titan just isn’t doing it for me. I have one more volume checked out of the library, and after reading that, I am more than likely done with this series. The art is so painfully awkward and this installment was slow and dull. I don’t know how that’s possible, considering that the remaining humans are making a last stand against the Titans, but I just did not get caught up in the plot.
After Eren regains his human form, he is accused of being a traitor to the human race in a tense standoff with a military commander who is cracking under the pressure of the latest Titan attack. He is more than willing to kill Eren and then ask questions about how he changed into a Titan afterward . Commander Pixis arrives just in time to save Eren, Mikasa, and Armin from being blown to itty bitty pieces. Pixis sees how useful Eren can be, if he can change into a Titan at will. They decide that Eren will plug the hole in the wall with a huge boulder, while splitting their forces and drawing the enemy Titans away from Eren so he has a clear shot to the wall.
Things go wrong from the get go; the other soldiers don’t trust Eren, and when he transforms into a seemingly mindless beast, they want to abandon their posts. Pixis recognizes the huge risk he has taken, but if they lose yet another wall, there won’t be enough resources to support them all, and sacrifices will have to be made. He would rather die making a last stand than being sent out on a suicide mission later, and he convinces his men that they feel the same.
The only plot aspect that I found remotely interesting was Eren’s sudden memory of the key his dad gave to him before he disappeared, and the room in the basement of his old house. That is the answer to everything, he was told, just before his father injected him with something to make him forget he was ever told that. I am curious to know what’s in the basement, and the fate of his dad, but I don’t know how willing I am to keep reading the series to find out.
Review copy provided by my local library
TRAITOR The last thing Eren remembers before blacking out, a Titan had bitten off his arm and leg and was getting ready to eat him alive. Much to his surprise he wakes up without a scratch on him, with a crowd of angry soldiers screaming for his blood. What strange new power has he awakened, and what will happen when the boy devoted to destroying the Titans becomes one himself? Includes special extras after the story!
Ms. Matos and the children move their skeletons muy sabroso when they hear the song La Vida es un Carnaval. I think you know who the singer is, right?
Of course you know! Celia Caridad Cruz Alfonso is the interpreter of the song, and she is better known as Celia Cruz.
Women’s International Day is around the corner, and the best way to commemorate this day is by reading the book ¡Azúcar! written and illustrated by Ivar Da Coll. This stupendous book is the biography of the incomparable Guarachera de Cuba. With amazing illustrations, the written text becomes alive.
During her successful musical career, Celia Cruz received more than 100 awards. Among the most important ones are a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame, five Grammy Awards, and three Honoris Causa degrees by three different universities in the United States. She was a successful woman in all scopes of life, a warrior and a worthy ambassador of her country’s and Latin America’s culture. Celia’s artistic legacy invites us to face life’s challenges with optimism while dancing to her contagious tune.
Celia’s motto was ‘Mi bandera es la alegría, mi causa cantar’. Although, she is no longer with us, her voice and her charisma will remain in our hearts forever. She died on July 16, 2003 at the age of 78 in New Jersey due to brain stem cancer. Celia Cruz was definitely a clear example of perseverance, tenacity, and humility for the newer generations.
Congratulations to all women around the world for your dedication and commitment. Remember that reading gives you wings.¡Azúcaaar!
Last fall I took a class with Virtual Animators (http://www.virtualanimators.com/) taught by James Lopez. I’ve had quite a few questions from the internets about what I thought, so I thought I’d write a note about my experience.
About the class: Character Design with Disney Artist & Animator James Lopez is a 12 week course taught online. See his IMDB here or amazing work here. The class is viewed through Adobe connect once per week for 12 (12!) weeks. You log in and the VA team, James and your classmates are online. You can ask questions via a chat box, and the VA team does a great job keeping track of the chat and bringing questions to James. The class is not structured, giving James the freedom to teach the class to the group’s skill level. You are also invited to send it work weekly to have it reviewed by James online.
What I thought:
1. The cost: usually where I’d start when considering a class. I didn’t have to consider the class cost here, since I won this class in a contest, but even if I hadn’t it would be a great deal. (As a note: this is not an endorsed post, haha). All of these courses are so affordable- This one was $250, which is really a couple of trips to the grocery store. For 12 weeks, that breaks down to $20/ class- for an experienced teacher at James, who teaches at Cal Arts… it’s beyond a bargain.
2. The class size: SMALL. There were under ten people in our class, which allows for everyone to ask questions and see James visually explain the answer. You can send emails with questions and receive individual attention.
3. The talent & experience of the instructors: I’ve only taken one class with VA (I am planning on another class this spring/ summer) and the instructors are so experienced and knowledgeable it’s unreal to have this sort of individualized attention. James is a friendly and giving individual who really cares about paying it forward and working with artists of all skill levels. He’s got so much knowledge and information it’s a thrill to see him visually work out problems and review your work.
4. The Virtual Animators team: Usually I wouldn’t touch on the “customer service” aspect in this sort of thing, but it was so amazing it needs to be mentioned. The small group who runs this online class system are probably the most genuine and friendly team ever. They’re focused around making a good experience for everyone involved, and keep up with their students. If I had a question or concern I would have an email back super quick. Also, as I mentioned above, they are in the classes with you running the sessions and keep on top of questions for the instructor.
5. Work Review: You send in your work, it gets a review online that week or the next. James was thorough and incredibly professional when reviewing work- it sort of felt like I was working with him at a studio! I learned a lot in such a small amount of time.
6. Recorded Classes: Classes are recored and posted on vimeo so you can watch later, or if you miss a class you can catch up. This was really helpful to me, watching in the midwest where the class time was late. Also, if you miss something, you can re-watch the class too!
7. A Personal Connection to the industry: As I mentioned above, I’m located in the midwest. It’s sort of like being on my own island, far away from the sunshine and talent network of California. Being involved in this class allowed me to connect at CTNX to the VA team, including founder Bill Recinos (who has an impressive IMDB himself), meet James Lopez and be involved in the community.
Ok, so, that’s a lot of writing. I guess you can see that I really loved the class. Negatives include the regular things of online classes- difficult to connect to classmates, really late live class times because of the time difference- but the benefits far outweigh these small points. I’m going to be completely honest, if you’ve ever thought of taking an online class, don’t think twice about this one, or any with these guys. This class is definitely the best online class I’ve taken based on the personal attention, small class size and the amount of information I learned in a short period of time.
Much like the first volume of Attack on Titan, this series just feels like a mish-mash of things I’ve read before. The action picks up with the carnage after the wall has been breached by the human-eating monsters, and the precious few humans on Earth run scattering like chickens from foxes. The young military graduates, newly recruited, are being slaughtered at an alarming rate. Eren has already fallen in a gruesome attempt to rescue Armin, Mikasa is struggling to help the citizens save themselves from their own greed and privilege, and everyone has pretty much lost their minds during the bloodbath and ensuing feeding frenzy.
There’s a flashback to Mikasa’s meeting with Eren; her parents were murdered when she was a young girl, and she was kidnapped because she’s the last human of Asian descent. Her kidnappers think they can sell her for a bundle on the black market, but Eren helps put an end to their horrible plan, giving Mikasa the drive to fight and save those important to her in the process. I found this character defining moment somewhat enlightening – at least now I understand what drives Mikasa to be such a badass. It also made less of a muddle Eren and Mikasa’s relationship, and gave a underlying reason for their strong bond and Mikasa’s loyalty to Eren.
There’s a lot of action in volume 2 – the humans are hopelessly overwhelmed by the towering Titans, and they quickly fall before them. Lots of eating occurs. Then a huge Titan lumbers onto the scene, ruthlessly tearing other Titans to pieces! The page flipping got a little more frantic after that – I wasn’t sure how the Eren Titan came to be, but I have to admit that I was jarred out of my disinterest and I wanted to find out what’s up with all of that.
I have decided to read through two more volumes of Attack on Titan to see if it can take a better hold of my imagination. The art is still butt ugly, though the action panels are well rendered. I guess I just don’t have as high a standard for death and dismemberment. I like that the most capable and commanding character is a woman, and I admit to a certain curiosity regarding the Titans. What are they? Where did they come from? Why do they keep gobbling up humans with unrestrained zeal? And what, what, what is up with Eren??
Review copy provided by my local library
BIRTH OF A MONSTER The Colossal Titan has breached humanity’s first line of defense, Wall Maria. Mikasa, the 104th Training Corps’ ace and Eren’s best friend, may be the only one capable of defeating them, but beneath her calm exterior lurks a dark past. When all looks lost, a new Titan appears and begins to slaughter its fellow Titans. Could this new monster be a blessing in disguise, or is the truth something much more sinister? This volume of Attack on Titan includes special extras after the story!
While I love Urban Fantasy, I don’t often have the opportunity to read much of the genre because so many of the titles currently being released are part of a longer, multi-volume series, or, when a book comes along that I think is interesting, I just don’t have time to fit it into my jam-packed reading schedule. I had seen several positive reviews for Night Owls, so I determined to make the time to read Lauren M Roy’s debut novel. I’m so glad I did! This is such a fun read, and it clicked for me within just the first few pages. I couldn’t put it down and finished it in just a few hours.
Valerie is a battle weary vampire, who has settled down as far away from California and the terrible memories that still haunt her ten years after a monster hunting mission gone bad. Now the proprietor of a late night bookstore, Night Owls, she’s made herself comfortable in a small college town, making a new life, and new friends, for herself. When Elly races into town, she destroys the peace that Val has built around herself. After one of her most loyal customers is murdered, Val is determined to find out the reason for his death. What she does is open a whole giant can of worms that threatens everything and everyone she loves.
Wow! I loved the characters! Val is a total badass, when she finally gives in and starts fighting the supernatural enemies plaguing her small town. Elly is, too, but she has to rely on her wits and her training to get out of her scrapes. She’s only human, after all, even if she has been taught since childhood how to track and neutralize Jackals, scary flesh eating monsters that prey on humans. Cavale rocked, too! I want him to have his own freaking book! I wish he had had a larger role in the story – and don’t get me wrong, he had lots of page time, but I liked him so much I wanted to know more about him. Val’s friend (he’s more like a vassal), Chaz was adorable, even though he has a lot to learn about fighting and slaying monsters.
Things go to crap for Val after Justin, one of her employees, takes a peek inside the ancient book Professor Clearwater sends to her for safekeeping. Justin’s been given strict instructions that no one is to open the book without Professor Clearwater there. Oops! Curiosity really does kill the cat! Kind of serves Justin right to trigger a ward on the book and have all of its magic jump right into him. That is one complication that Val didn’t need, and when a pack of Jackals come to Night Owls, demanding the return of the book and its magic, she knows that they are in for the fight of their lives.
I am trying very hard not to gush about this read, but I can’t help myself. It is FUN with all capital letters, and I can’t wait to read more by Roy. The fight scenes are exciting and kept me on the edge of my seat, the paranormal characters are blast – I enjoyed being introduced to all of them, the good, the bad, and the indifferent to Val’s dire problem. The story takes place over only a few days, but what a danger, adventure filled period that is! Because Val is a vampire, her fatal flaw, as well as the Jackals, is that they can’t be out after sunrise. That’s what makes loyal humans like Chaz so valuable. There are many tasks that need to be completed during the daylight hours, so Val has a trusted agent take care of them. When Chaz ends up a pawn in the quest for the magic in Justin’s head, Val becomes a very grumpy, and very anxious, vampire. The Jackals will do anything to get back their book, and Val knows that there’s a deadline to rescuing Chaz.
If you are in the mood for a fast, action-packed read, filled with things that go bump in the night, look no further. Night Owls is a blast, and I can’t wait for more adventures with Val, Elly, Chaz, and Cavale.
Review copy provided by publisher
About the book:
Night Owls bookstore is the one spot on campus open late enough to help out even the most practiced slacker. The employees’ penchant for fighting the evil creatures of the night is just a perk…
Valerie McTeague’s business model is simple: provide the students of Edgewood College with a late-night study haven and stay as far away as possible from the underworld conflicts of her vampire brethren. She’s experienced that life, and the price she paid was far too high for her to ever want to return.
Elly Garrett hasn’t known any life except that of fighting the supernatural beings known as Creeps or Jackals. But she always had her mentor and foster father by her side—until he gave his life protecting a book that the Creeps desperately want to get their hands on.
When the book gets stashed at Night Owls for safekeeping, those Val holds nearest and dearest are put in mortal peril. Now Val and Elly will have to team up, along with a mismatched crew of humans, vampires, and lesbian succubi, to stop the Jackals from getting their claws on the book and unleashing unnamed horrors…
Guest post by Hope Marston, an Amazon Top Reviewer
My thirty-second children’s book was released a few days before the War of 1812 Bicentennial Celebrations began. Thirty of my titles had been published by traditional companies. When I finished revising Sackets Harbor Powder Monkey – The War of 1812, it was too late to find a publisher who could release it by July 19, 2012. Consequently I would have to spend the bicentennial years marketing the book myself. I needed a plan, one without pitfalls, but with pleasant perks and plentiful publicity.
My Marketing Plan
As I was developing my plan, I read several articles online stressing the importance of having one’s books reviewed on Amazon. On Fiction Notes, I read that a writer should strive for 25 posted reviews. I decided to aim for 50. I invited my friends, neighbors, people who purchased my new book at signings, and anyone who expressed interest in it to post a review on Amazon. When people mentioned my new book, I would ask them to share their thoughts by writing a review.
Since I was asking others to review my book, I set a second goal. I would read 50 books ASAP and post reviews for them. Off I went to my local library to choose new books to read. Meanwhile wherever I met teachers, librarians or historical museum personnel, I gave them an autographed copy of Sackets Harbor Powder Monkey and requested an Amazon review in return.
A friend who teaches ESL students in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam, told me one of her sixth grade students liked my story. She agreed to help him post a review on Amazon. Seeing his review online encouraged Minh–and me.
Pitfalls of Asking to Trade Reviews
Well-meaning folks oft times neglect to keep the enthusiastic promises they make. I gave away more than 100 books with the understanding that the receiver would post a review. Two of my best friends, a public librarian and one who is retired, keep promising “to get to it” but they never followed through. Perhaps they could not conscientiously recommend my book and chose not to post a negative review.
As I worked toward my goal of reviewing 50 books, I watched for intriguing titles on line. When I found a book that looked inviting, I contacted the author and asked if we could swap books and post reviews for each other. Not a good idea. Despite glowing reviews already posted on their websites, I received a number of self-published books that were poorly written. If I wrote honest evaluations, most of my comments would have been negative.
I wanted to keep my promise to review these books, but I did not want to discourage the authors. As a respected reviewer, how could I handle those less than stellar books? With the most difficult situations I explained to the writers that in my judgment there were major problems with their books. Rather than post negative reviews, I chose to critique these books privately.
Such touchy situations forced me to rethink my motive for writing reviews in the first place, besides getting reviews in return. My decision to post negative reviews hinged on my answer to two questions. Was my purpose to help an author gain readers? Or was I attempting to help readers find books they would enjoy as well as alert them to ones they probably would not appreciate?
When the late JoAnn Daly was my editor at Cobblehill/Dutton, I received a couple of scathing reviews. The first time one was published in Booklist, she told me to ignore it, that it was but one reader’s opinion. The second time one of my books was severely criticized, JoAnn responded to the reviewer by pointing out the factual errors in the published review. (I loved my editor!)
Though I am not comfortable writing negative reviews (my mother taught be keep quiet if I couldn’t say something nice), I appreciate it when a reviewer notes such concerns as a weak plot, foul language, profanity, or careless editing.
If I look hard enough, I can usually find something good to say about a particular title. If I ever decide to post a negative review, I will explain what I perceive to be faulty about the book and/or how it is written.
Seeking reviews for my War of 1812 book while helping other readers find books they’d enjoy has been a satisfying experience. It’s been pleasant to build friendships with authors I might never have met otherwise.
Another perk is having people email me saying they appreciated my reviews and asking if I would review their new books. One such request came from a writer who lives in Spain.
Before I agree to review a stranger’s book, I find out as much as I can about it. If it sounds like a title I’d enjoy, I request a hard copy. I usually refuse to review books on Kindle since I can’t flag passages and then flip back to them when I write my review.
A huge incentive for posting reviews on Amazon is name recognition. When I began posting reviews, Eye on the Iditarod: Aisling’s Quest was my newest release. To my surprise Amazon listed me as author of that book right after the title of the book I was reviewing. Wonderful, free advertising!
When Sackets Harbor Powder Monkey – The War of 1812 was released, I asked Amazon to switch to the new title. No problem. Every time readers online read my latest review, they saw my name along with the title of my latest book. That made me smile because the more often readers see my name and the title of one of my books, the more apt they are to eventually check me out.
About four months ago I was informed by the folks at Amazon that I was breaking the rules by listing a title of one of my books along with my name. Therefore they were removing those titles from all of my reviews. SAY WHAT?
I responded that this was something that their staff had instituted. Since I was the wrong person being scolded, I wrote for clarification of the rules. I learned it is permissible to mention the title of one of my publications in the body of my review. Now I look for a tie-in for one of my books with the new review I am posting. That’s a fun challenge, and sometimes an easy one as well.
Posting reviews on Amazon for the world to read is good writing practice for me. When I observe faults in the works of others, I am more apt to catch a similar problem with my own writing. Yes, it eats into my time, but it’s worthwhile for me and my readers. I enjoy the challenge of analyzing a story and how the author writes it. Most of us who enjoy reading never have time to read all the books we’d like to read. By posting my reviews on Amazon, I help Internet readers find books they are most apt to enjoy.
To date I have posted 129 reviews on Amazon. When I submit a new review, it is usually posted a few minutes after I have emailed it. People who read Amazon reviews have the opportunity to tell if a review is helpful or not. Thus far 77 reviewers have clicked the button at the end of my reviews indicating they were helpful. I consider that a good barometer of my ability to write them.
Amazon lists me as a Top Reviewer. Frequently the company sends me a request to review books I have purchased, but not yet reviewed. While I appreciate the invitation, I don’t accept it if it was a book not to my liking. I choose what I will review regardless of where the book came from.
Recently I read an article about Amazon’s book review process. According to the author, the review staff at Amazon was impressed by a certain title that was not selling well. To give the book the press they thought it deserved, they contacted 100-300 potential online reviewers. They offered to send a PDF of the book to those who expressed an interest in reading it and would consider posting an honest critique. The staff expected 40 to 50 responses resulting in possibly 35 reviews. The writer of the article considered that a satisfactory number. That’s a speedy, inexpensive way to solicit reviews. I could have used it if I had a PDF of Sackets Harbor Powder Monkey.
That said, 57 reviews in exchange for 100 books given away is not a shabby response. It encourages me to press on in my quest for new reviews of this book until the War of 1812 bicentennial celebrations end on December 24, 2014.
So, how did I get all of those reviews for Sackets Harbor Powder Monkey – The War of 1812?
I asked for them.
Since it’s more blessed to give than to receive, I will continue to post reviews on Amazon. I will keep asking readers to review my book until December 24—unless I reach my new goal of 100 reviews sooner. Of course I would welcome reviews from you who are reading this blog. You may contact me at email@example.com Many thanks.
– Hope has written more than thirty children’s books and two books for adults. My Little Book Series of wildlife picture books, with over 125,000 copies in print, has won numerous awards. My Little Book of Bald Eagles received the 2010 Next Generation INDIE Book Award in the Best Children’s/Juvenile Non-Fiction category. Her historical novels for Young Adults include Against the Tide: The Valor of Margaret Wilson (2007), Sackets Harbor Powder Monkey – The War of 1812 (2012), and Eye on the Iditarod: Aisling’s Quest (2011), which is the true biography of an eleven-year-old Maine musher.
Hope and her husband of more than fifty years share their Black River (NY) home with Heidi, a lovable Bernese mountain dog. For more, see her bio in Something about the Author (Gale), or her website, www.HopeIrvinMarston.com .
As the launch of my fantasy approaches, I await good and bad reviews from readers. It's just the case that every book is not going to connect with every reader. However, I found this video, recommended by FUSE#8 on Sunday, along with my Firstborn trailer. Seriously, it gives great perspective in the midst of the journey. So yes, thanks for talking about our books in every way, rgz!
He even makes me forget my name. One night was all it took, and I forgot everything and anything except the sexy fighter in the ring who sets my mind ablaze and my body on fire with wanting… Remington Tate is the strongest, most confusing man I’ve ever met in my life.
He’s the star of the dangerous underground fighting circuit, and I’m drawn to him as I’ve never been drawn to anything in my life. I forget who I am, what I want, with just one look from him. When he’s near, I need to remind myself that I am strong–but he is stronger. And now it’s my job to keep his body working like a perfect machine, his taut muscles primed and ready to break the bones of his next opponents . . . But the one he’s most threatening to, now, is me.
I want him. I want him without fear. Without reservations.
If only I knew for sure what it is that he wants from me?
I received a review copy of REAL, and I thought I’d read it because the hero is a former boxer turned underground fighter. There aren’t a lot of romances that I am aware of featuring fighters, so I thought it would be a nice change of pace from the usual billionaires or cowboys I am forever reading about (because I can’t resist the cowboys, especially if they are sexy billionaire cowboys with really nice horses). Though Remy is a rough underground fighter, he is a very wealthy one, which made me wonder why he would put his pretty face in jeopardy, but whatever.
Brooke is a down on her luck rehab therapist. She just finished school, has bills to pay, and she hasn’t found the job of her dreams yet. When her BFF Mel drags her to a fight, she is consumed with thoughts of Remy after sharing a soulful, scorching stare. Her insides clench (more on that later), her interest is beyond piqued, and sexy Remy is wedged in her brain. When he offers her a job, instead of the wild one night stand she’s expecting, she reluctantly accepts. How is she going to massage those wicked muscles, and keep their relationship professional? When her younger sister gets into deep, deep doodoo, staying out of Remy’s bed is the last thing on her mind.
I have mixed feelings about REAL. On one hand, it is an engaging, totally in your face read. On the other, the prose, while immediate and intense and oh so honest, occasionally Drove. Me. NUTS. Brooke’s insides clench. About a billion times. There is also a lot of licking, biting, gripping, and squeezing. So much that I was tempted to go back to the beginning and count how many times these words appeared throughout the pages. Brooke’s relentless pursuit of a physical relationship with Remy consisted of her stomach and other organs clenching, squeezing, and dripping a distracting number of times, and it got so repetitive after a while. While her obsession with Remy was telegraphed loud and clear and left no doubt how she felt, I was soon wishing for more verbs to describe her body’s reaction to him.
I’m not sure that I liked Brooke, or that she’s the girl for the noble, damaged Remy. She spent most of her life training for the Olympics, but an injury sidelined her. Permanently. During those years that she was training to be the best, she lived a very sheltered life. She worked hard, studied hard, and competed hard, all the while staying out of trouble. She didn’t need the distraction. Now that her dreams left her cruelly disappointed, she wants to start making up for lost time. Remy is gorgeous, and sweet, and there is a chemistry between them that threatens to combust every time they see each other. When Brooke decides that she’s going to act on her attraction, she is bewildered. Remy refuses to sleep with her, and their make-out sessions go nowhere. Frustrated and resentful, she doesn’t know whether he’s the problem – or if she is. Despite his assurances that he wants her to get to know him better first, she is so angry with him she doesn’t know how to react. I was willing to cut her some slack because she hadn’t previously known anyone like Remy, or felt as twisted and confused as he made her feel. When her younger sister is sprinkled into the mix, Brooke makes some really bad decisions, and Remy is the one to pay the price every time.
Remy is a character that I haven’t read about before, and I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to spoil anything. I wasn’t happy with message delivered here, though. He refused for his condition, so he is always skating on a fine line between keeping control over himself and his actions and completely losing his sh$t. He’s afraid of getting involved with Brooke, fearful that she will leave him when he loses himself. That aspect of their relationship was fascinating. How do you give your heart to a guy whose self-control is tenuous at best, and who forgets everything that he does during these episodes? His condition ensures that he can’t really have a HEA, because Brooke can’t cure him. It’s not realistic or possible, and that made the last half of the book even more compelling.
The final fight scene – Oh. My. God. So intense. It really made the book for me because is was brutal and gritty and showed what Remy was all about. He is iron-willed and stubborn, and it’s impossible for him to back down from a challenge.
I enjoyed REAL, even though it didn’t completely work for me. It felt genuine and fresh, though some narrative quirks left me cringing and distracted. I am curious to see how Brooke and Remy’s relationship progresses, because I think they have a rocky road ahead of them.
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
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?
I thought this story arc was very entertaining. It revealed that Chad has some spiritual energy, and even though he can’t see the Hallow, he can pummel the heck out of it, holding it off until Ichigo’s arrival. While creating a tense and exciting action sequence, Tite Kubo manages to sneak in some humor to the heightened emotions and make the action even more memorable. I think that’s what I like best about the series; while things are fraught with stress and impending doom, the mood is altered ever so slightly with quick bursts of humor. The opposite happens when the mood is light and Rukia and Ichigo are joking around. The reality of their responsibilities intrudes, if just for a moment, causing a complete shift in tone. The emotional roller coaster makes this a very engaging read for me.
During the battle over the little boy’s soul, we also learn what happens to people who were evil when they were alive. Ichigo’s zanpakut? can’t cleanse their souls of the evil they carry, and they are dragged down to Hell. Wah! That’s pretty scary! Some of the Hallows weren’t decent people when they were among the living, so it’s somewhat gratifying to see them get their just rewards in the afterlife.
This volume also introduces one of my favorite characters, Kisuke Urahara. He doesn’t seem like much here, other than a shifty merchant peddling in questionable Soul Society goods, and one all too ready to take advantage of Rukia unfortunate circumstances. There’s also the hint that things in the Soul Society are not all rainbows and unicorns. Experiments with dubious moral implications are just the start. I like how these tidbits are scattered like so much bird seed throughout the chapters. Both Rukia and Ichigo have a lot to learn about what’s really going on in the Soul Society.
This series is highly recommended if you enjoy action, gripping storylines, and likeable characters. Yes, yes, the fact that it’s at 60 volumes and counting is a little daunting, but on the plus side – you won’t run out of new story for a long time!
In Changeling by Philippa Gregory, we meet Luca Vero. Luca is a 17 year-old who has just gotten expelled by his monastery. He has recently been recruited by a mysterious stranger to record the end of time throughout Europe. At about the same time that Luca meets this strange man, Isolde is a young princess whose father has just passed. Before his death, her father and her brother agreed that she has to either marry or go to an abbey.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes historical romances for young adults. I have never read a book by this author before, and I absolutely loved it. I’m not a very serious historical fiction reader, but this one grabbed me. It was very intriguing, and it was a page turner; you were always on your toes, waiting to see what was going to happen. This book showed you that love really does exist, even though it isn’t love at first sight. I can confidently say that this is a fantastic book, and that most people would love it. This is the first book in the series, Order of Darkness.
Editor Note: Thank you, Elsa!! And sneaky me – I didn’t warn Elsa that this was part of a series when I gave it to her. Sorry, kiddo!
About the book:
Dark myths, medieval secrets, intrigue, and romance populate the pages of this first in a four-book teen series from the #1 bestselling author of The Other Boleyn Girl.
The year is 1453 and all signs point to it being the end of the world. Accused of heresy and expelled from his monastery, handsome seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is recruited by a mysterious stranger to record the end of times across Europe. Commanded by sealed orders, Luca is sent to map the fears of Christendom and travel to the very frontier of good and evil.
Seventeen-year-old Isolde, a Lady Abbess, is trapped in a nunnery to prevent her from claiming her rich inheritance. As the nuns in her care are driven mad by strange visions, walking in their sleep, and showing bleeding wounds, Luca is sent to investigate and driven to accuse her.
Forced to face the greatest fears of the dark ages—witchcraft, werewolves, madness—Luca and Isolde embark on a search for truth, their own destinies, and even love as they take the unknown ways to the real historical figure who defends the boundaries of Christendom and holds the secrets of the Order of Darkness
"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.
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.
Fortunately, The Milk celebrates one father’s quest to safely deliver a bottle of milk to his children so they can enjoy their breakfast cereal. His journey begins with an abduction by snot aliens, and includes time-traveling dinosaurs, sparkly ponies, pirates, and even wumpires. Who would have ever thought that a trip to the corner store for a little milk could be so perilous. The clever prose is enhanced by different fonts and illustrations to make a visually appealing read. The story is funny and fast-paced, with many death-defying situations for the father to find his way out of. All because he went to the corner store for that life changing bottle of milk.
I have an ARC, so Skottie Young’s artwork wasn’t final. What artwork there is, however, is quirky, visually charming, and fits the tone of the story to a T. This is a fun, fun read, and if you have younger kids at home, it’s a great book to read together.
In the small town of Duvall, Texas, the only thing that causes more trouble than gossip is magic.
The family magic seems to have skipped over Tammy Jo Trask. All she gets in the way of the supernatural are a few untimely visits from the long-dead, smart-mouthed family ghost Edie. But when her locket—an heirloom that happens to hold Edie’s soul—is stolen in the midst of a town-wide crime spree, it’s time for Tammy to find her inner witch.
After a few bad experiences with her magic, Tammy turns to the only one who can help: the very rich and highly magical Bryn Lyons. He might have all the answers, but the locket isn’t the only thing passed down in Tammy’s family. She also inherited a warning…to stay away from anyone named Lyons…
Would Be Witch is a very fun read. I’m surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did because a love triangle, something that doesn’t usually work for me, is central to the plot. I thought it was well done, and I could see Tammy Jo being conflicted over Bryn and Zach. Bryn is new, off-limits, and dangerous, while Zach, her ex-husband, has been a steady anchor her entire life. Marrying young, she quickly discovered that being his wife was a lot less romantic than being his girlfriend, so she filed for divorce, over his objections. Their relationship is a hot mess, just like the rest of Tammy Jo’s life. Maybe I liked the story so much because Tammy Jo is propelled from one crazy adventure to another, with hardly a moment to catch her breath.
Things get started with Tammy Jo losing her job at the bakery. Her pride won’t allow her to sell the cake she’s just slaved over to her old rival from her high school days. She’s rather be unemployed and keep possession of said cake than accept insults and a reduced price in exchange for her masterpiece. She figures it will keep her fed for a few days until she finds a new job, anyway. Then she’s involved in a fender bender, is robbed of a family heirloom, and is being stalked by werewolves. Because Tammy Jo comes from a long line of witches, she takes everything in stride, except for losing the necklace that houses the soul of Edie, her great, great grandmother’s twin sister. Devastated by the loss of her relative, she wishes that magic hadn’t skipped over her, because she really could have used the help tracking down the thieves and the stolen ghost.
This is a rollercoaster read. Tammy Jo has to juggle Zach, a sheriff’s deputy, and Bryn, a warlock whose family she is supposed to have nothing to do with, for reasons unknown to her. With her mom and her aunt both gone, she has no magical help, so she’s determined to use Bryn to assist her on the magic side. She doesn’t realize that there are strict rules about magic and when it can be used, and unless she agrees to be his apprentice, he’s not letting her see any spells from his spell book! I loved the back and forth between Tammy Jo and her suitors. Zack is a good ole boy who doesn’t believe in magic or in Edie, and Bryn comes off as just a little shady. I was always wondering whether he had her best interests at heart, and more often than not doubted that he did.
In addition to the guys feuding over her, she’s also being pursued by a pack of very angry and vengeful werewolves. They have accused her of killing one of their pack, and nothing she said allowed her to reason with them. They are scary, murderous monsters, too, so every time Tammy Jo got a bug up her butt and decided that she had to go do something dangerous and foolish, I was stressed that the wolves would get a hold of her and tear her to shreds. While I appreciated her courage and determination, there were a few times I wished she would just chill somewhere safe until someone could give her a helping hand. At least she had Mercutio, her kitty companion, to rely on. While I am usually a dog person, this cat was pretty cool, and I was a bit hopeful that he would start talking. Instead, he gets into a lot of fights, so he really did have Tammy Jo’s back.
As the tangled and twisted tale unfolded, a few things became apparent. One, that Tammy Jo really did need a keeper. She is constantly getting herself into hot water, some of which she can’t get back out of. Two, nobody in her tiny town was trustworthy, and several people even had grudges against her, which made figuring out who to trust an impossible task. And three, maybe magic hadn’t skipped her generation after all, leading her to so many more complications. With no one around to show her how to harness her magic, she just makes everything that she’s trying to fix that much worse. Mix in a zombie, a visiting vampire, and an offended hairdresser, and Tammy Jo just doesn’t know what to do to keep herself safe and locate her missing necklace.
Would Be Witch is a fast paced and energetic read with fun characters and more danger than you can shake a stick at. I am looking forward to Barely Bewitched, the next book in the series.
YA meets high fantasy in this lush series debut about a girl who never quite fit in — and the reason why…
Evelyn might not love the confines of her village life, but she takes her small freedoms where she can get them. But everything changes when her parents decide it’s time for her to wed. Suddenly she loses her tunic and breeches, her bow, her horse, and gains rigid gowns, restrictive manners, and carriage rides.
The best way to escape is through her dreams, but as they become more and more real, Evelyn begins to worry that she is losing her grasp on reality. It is only when she makes two new friends that the truth is revealed: she is destined for far, far more than even she could imagine.
I have one major gripe about Words Once Spoken. The story doesn’t really end, it just kind of runs out of pages. This is the first in a planned series, and after some kickass action and an engaging journey, everything just trailed off into nothing. I thought the ending was weak, and it didn’t fit with the rest of the story. I am hopeful that the next book will make up for my disappointment with yet another non-ending. There is a reason that I have been waiting to start series until they are all done, and this is an example of why.
Evelyn has never fit in with her mother’s expectations. Instead of desiring the life of a pampered noble, she much prefers the outdoors to being shut up inside stuffy buildings. She is skilled with a bow and arrow, and rides like she was born on horseback. She suffers severe stomach upsets when she eats meat and so eats only plant-life. Just before is eighteenth birthday, her mom insists that she accompany her parents to meet the king and queen. Her mother would like nothing better than for Evelyn to be appointed one of the princess’s handmaidens, though it would be a nightmare come true for Evelyn. Once at the castle, she meets the handsome Lord Devon, as well as the charming young prince, and she quickly learns that nothing is what it seems, including herself and everything she thought she knew about herself.
Overall, this is a spirited adventure. Evelyn discovers why she has never fit in, and why she has never earned her mother’s love, and puts herself in grave danger at the same time. She sets off on her own to get answers to the many questions plaguing her, only to be joined by Liam and Padraic, her would be suitors. Love triangles usually annoy me, but it worked here. Maybe because Evelyn is just so much more capable of dealing with the danger that they have all been forced to confront than the guys are. Evelyn is a strong, stubborn girl. She’s impulsive, but she has the confidence, skill, and courage to deal with the fallout from her rash decisions. At first she was a little irritating, but her self-assurance quickly grew on me, especially after she packed up her things and left the castle. This girl doesn’t need anyone to fight her battles, though she’s more than grateful to have a little bit of help when things get really crazy.
A couple of things bugged me. The first being that women aren’t allowed to read, yet Evelyn and Liam meet in the library several times, and Liam leaves scrolls for her to read. It didn’t make sense that it’s illegal for women to read, yet Evelyn and the prince read often and discuss what they’ve read. That whole thing just confused me. The other thing I didn’t like – Padraic acts so out of character at the end of the book that I was having a hard time comprehending that it was him behaving this way. It really knocked me out of the story, and combined with the disappointing ending, left me wondering what happened to the fun book I had been reading.
Though there are a few jarring inconsistencies with Words Once Spoken, I did enjoy my time with Evelyn, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.
Kaya Satozuka prides herself on being an excellent secretary and a consummate professional, so she doesn’t even bat an eye when she’s reassigned to the office of her company’s difficult director, Kyohei Touma. He’s as prickly—and hot—as rumors paint him, but Kaya is unfazed…until she discovers that he’s a vampire!!Kaya quickly accustoms herself to scheduling his “dinner dates” and working odd hours, but can she handle it when Kyohei’s smoldering gaze starts turning her way?!
Midnight Secretary is a very fun, fluffy read. I wasn’t expecting much from it, and I wasn’t really in the mood for it, so I kept shuffling it from the top of my reading pile, and now I’m sorry I did. Once I got it in my hands, the cover kind of turned me off. I don’t find it appealing at all, so here is another instance where I misjudged the book by it’s cover.
Kaya takes pride in her job, and she wants to be the best executive secretary possible so she can get a great job, and so her mom won’t have to work so hard. After her father died, her mother got a job at Tohma Corporation, and she worked hard to put Kaya through school. She even helped get her a job at Tohma, and now that Kaya is getting her big break, she’s going to make her mother proud. The big break turns out to be a mixed blessing. She’s assigned to be Kyohei Tohma’s secretary. Kyohei is the younger son of the senior director, and he’s a jerk. He is a demanding boss, who works long hours, and his exacting expectations have caused countless secretaries to quit. Kaya is determined to succeed, though, but his dismissive attitude is hard to deal with.
Kyohei has a reputation for being a ladies man, and Kaya quickly discovers that this is true. He juggles the ladies with consummate skill, arranging meetings with them in his office after dark. He is quick to disparage Kaya’s looks, and he grumpily complains that she’s not good looking enough to work for him. Kaya ignores every complaint and quickly proves that she is efficient and dedicated to her job. When she suspects that Kyohei and his girlfriends are using drugs in the office, she doesn’t hesitate to get to the bottom of her suspicions. She’s afraid that if there is illegal drug use going on that he’ll get caught, the company will suffer, and she’ll lose her job. What she discovers is that he’s a vampire, and that the hanky panky in his office is Kyohei drinking the blood of his beautiful lady friends. The illegal drug use would probably have been more welcome than working for a blood-sucking playboy!
I enjoyed Midnight Secretary because Kaya is so unflappable. She takes the discovery that her boss is a vampire in stride, and quickly decides that she’s going to defend his secret and make sure that he is taken care of so that he can continue to perform his job duties. Well, that and he’s threatened to have her mother fired if Kaya quits, so she doesn’t really have much choice. Meeting every challenge that he throws at her head-on, Kaya quickly proves that she is indispensible. Despite Kyohei’s gruffness, she can’t help but find him attractive, especially after his secret weakness is revealed and he is forced to drink her blood.
The art is very attractive and reminded me of Mayu Shinjo. The delicate lines are expressive, and the characters are attractive, even Kaya, who hides her baby face behind ugly glasses and a severe hair style.Midnight Secretary is fun and flirty, and I can’t wait to read the next volume.
Felicity Williams can’t remember the last five years thanks to an accident that wiped out her memory. She fled her old life in hopes of starting fresh and found refuge working on a cruise ship. But her past is coming for her…
Rick McCarthy awakens after a climbing accident to discover that his business partner and fiancée has quit her job and disappeared. He’s trying to accept that she’s run out on him, but now he needs her signature to close a deal that could literally be life or death. He’ll go to any extreme to get what he needs…even if that means becoming someone else to win her back.
But a little lie becomes a large mess when they’re stranded on a deserted island together, and old misunderstandings might ruin their chance at new love…
While Love Lost and Found didn’t completely work for me, there were several aspects of the story that I found very compelling. After Felicity suffers from a fall while rock-climbing with her business partner, Rick, she reawakens with no memory of the last five years. She tries to readjust to her old life, but nothing feels right. Her apartment is cold and sterile, and she can’t remember her co-workers. Worse, what she does remember is breaking up with her old boyfriend after catching him cheating on her. As she contemplates the emptiness in her life, she decides that starting over somewhere else is preferable to trying to fit back into a life she doesn’t remember, and one that seems lonely and isolated. She takes a job on a cruise ship, and sails off into the horizon.
What she doesn’t remember is Rick, the man she has been working with and dating. She doesn’t remember that he had proposed to her just before the accident that sent them both to the hospital. Rick was in a coma for six weeks, and when he comes to, he can’t believe that Felicity left him, without a word or a note. Worse, he company is on the verge of a remarkable research discovery, but he needs Felicity to sign the paperwork that will see the fruition of his labors since the death of his brother. With Felicity’s assistance, he’s on the path to a breakthrough for a leukemia treatment. Desperate to keep his promise to his brother to get the process approved, he hires a private detective and tracks his errant fiancée down.
First, what didn’t work for me; Rick doesn’t believe that Felicity lost her memory, so he pretends to be a prospective investor for the cruise line, and makes his re-acquaintance with Felicity under false pretenses. There isn’t a time during the story, except for the very end, that he isn’t lying to her. That just grated on my last nerve. He is given the opportunity to start over with her, but every overture is based on a falsehood. He doesn’t trust her enough to be upfront with her, and he suspects that she is faking the amnesia. Great way to make a new start, Rick. And by not being honest, it just made his motives for reconnecting with her suspect. If I were Felicity, I wouldn’t have been able to believe anything he said after discovering that he wasn’t being straight up from the beginning.
The second thing that didn’t work was the couple being left on a desert island. Rick makes arrangements with the captain of the cruise ship to have them “left” on an island with no supplies – no food, shelter, or water. First, the liability of the scenario makes me cringe. Regardless of whether Rick signed waivers promising not to sue the cruise line, Felicity did not. I would have been furious when I discovered that I spent a night with no provisions by design instead by accident. I don’t care how romantic it was; either one of them could (and did) have gotten injured with no help nearby. Plus, there are bugs on that island, and everyone who knows me knows how much I hate bugs. Ugh! The whole episode on the island was like a nightmare to me.
What did I like? Felicity looked at her old life, and realized that she didn’t like what she saw. She had no close friends, and no real connection with anyone. Her apartment was as barren as she suspected her life was, and so she decided to make lemonade out of the lemons life had handed to her. She starts over, and she’s a completely different person. Her change in circumstance opens her up to make the first real connections she ever made, and allowed her to re-discover her love for Rick. She was all business before the accident, but after, she was able to embrace a softer side of herself and truly begin to like herself and the people in her life. I loved this about the book.
While Love Lost and Found didn’t completely win me over, there were enough positives to keep me engaged in the story. I just wish the hero had been more likable, and had acted a little more, well, heroic.
Welcome to my stop on the Scorched blog tour presented by Sourcebooks!
Today I have an interview with the amazing Mari Mancusi, along with my review of Scorched, and a giveaway! Feel free to leave any questions or comments you may have for Mari, as she will be stopping by today (9/11/13) to answer them/comment back!
Author: Mari Mancusi
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: September 3rd 2013
Genre: YA Fantasy/Dragons
Trinity Don’t leave me here... It starts with a whisper. At first Trinity thinks she’s going crazy. It wouldn’t be a big surprise—her grandpa firmly believes there’s a genuine dragon egg in their dusty little West Texas town. But this voice is real, and it’s begging for her protection. Even if no one else can hear it...
He’s come from a future scorched by dragonfire. His mission: Find the girl. Destroy the egg. Save the world. Caleb He’s everything his twin brother Connor hates: cocky, undisciplined, and obsessed with saving dragons. Trinity has no idea which brother to believe. All she has to go by is the voice in her head—a dragon that won’t be tamed.
I first heard about Scorched at BEA '13. Since I have read Mari's Blood Coven Vampire series(which I loved), I was very curious to see that she had written something completely different, and I couldn't wait to dive in. Scorched was a mish-mash of fantasy, sci-fi, romance, and time travel. This could have been a recipe for disaster, but through Mari's spectacular writing and execution, an amazing story was born.
The story is told through three different characters' perspectives. Trinity's chapters are written in first-person narration, which really helps to let the reader get inside her head. I feel that this was very important in order to connect with her on a deeper level. It also gave me more insight into her emotions when she begins to hear Emmy's(a dragon) voice in her head. Conner and Caleb's chapters were written in third-person narration, which gives the feeling that they are different from Trinity in a major way. Since they are from the future, and therefore not of Trinity's "world" per-se, I felt the choice was spot-on.
The main characters were written beautifully, and I was emotionally invested in every single one. I felt as though I really got to know Trinity, Caleb, and Conner quite well even before they meet in the book.
There were some extremely tense and emotional moments in Scorched. The pacing is fast, as many action scenes drive the plot. You will keep turning the pages with that "need" to know what will happen next. I loved how the story was broken down into five parts, each with a title perfectly fitting each part. It was fun when, after you finished a "part", you could say "Wow, THAT'S why it was called ____". There were also a few shocking revelations that I never saw coming where my mouth(and heart) literally dropped to the floor!
I had a feeling I was going to enjoy this book just from reading the blurb and having read Mari's work in the past. What I didn't know was how emotionally invested I would get, until I found my heart in my throat many times while reading. Scorched is a beautifully written story of a girl caught in the middle of something she dosen't understand, but trying to stay true to herself and do the right thing. I won't say too much on this, but if you are someone who needs love/romance in your books, you will find what you need and more in this one.
Overall, I feel that Mari really hit a homerun with Scorched. Even though this book is meant to be more emotional and intense(a great thing), fans of her Blood Coven Vampire series will find pieces of her engaging humor here too(an equally great thing).
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves YA fantasy, sci-fi, romance, or just dragons in general! Of course if your already a fan of Mari's work, why are you not reading this right now?!?! Intense, engaging, emotional, and surprising...a must read!
***Interview with Mari Mancusi***
1.)Welcome to Jessabella Reads, Mari! I am soo excited to have you on the blog today. I am obsessed with the world of Scorched, where did you get the inspiration for it?
Thank you! I’ve always loved both sci-fi and fantasy so I thought it would be fun to mash up the two. I like to credit the movie Terminator for much of my inspiration, though instead of a robot/machine apocalypse, Scorched deals with a dragon apocalypse. I’ve always loved dragon books – from Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series to Robin McKinley’s Hero and the Crown.
2.) I really connected with all of the characters in your story. Which character was your favorite to write and why?
I think Caleb is my favorite to write. He’s sarcastic and sardonic, but also hiding a lot of angst. He comes off as a jerk sometimes, but he really loves Trinity and would do anything for her.
3.) What are you reading right now?
Prodigy by Marie Lu and Doll Bones by Holly Black.
4.) What are your "must-haves" when sitting down to write?
Coffee and silence. I’m not one of those writers who does great writing in a café setting. I prefer a quiet office where I can read aloud what I’ve written. I also have surrounded myself with lots of dragon inspiration. From stuffed dragons to dragon portraits on the wall.
5.) If you could inhabit the body of any character in Scorched for 24 hours, which one would you choose and why?
I think it’d be fun to be Trinity at the point where she gets to go into the Nether and fly on Emmy’s back. There’s just something about the idea of flying on a dragon that I know would be awesome. I just hope she can get over her fear of heights and allow me to enjoy my ride!
6.) Dragons are one of my favorite paranormal creatures. Tell us why you decided to write about them.
Dragons are beautiful and majestic creatures that can bond telepathically with humans and fly through the sky. Who wouldn’t want to write about them? That said, most dragon books take place in some kind of fantasy kingdom or some distant past. I wanted to explore what it’d be like to bring them to present day Texas. Dragons trending on Twitter, anyone?
7.) What are some of your literary inspirations? Favorite books/authors?
My favorite book is Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. It is basically a feminist retelling of Arthurian legend and is just so enthralling and beautifully written.
For a more modern author, I’m obsessed with Cassandra Clare. I love how she masterfully mixes humor with action/adventure.
8.) Personally, I will read anything you write! Any hints about what we can EAGERLY anticipate from you next?
Thank you! Next up is Shattered, book 2 of the Scorched series, which will continue the adventures of Trinity, Connor, Caleb and Emmy. It takes place three months after the first book ends and it’s getting more and more difficult to hide out from the world—with Emmy getting bigger everyday!
Also, if you liked Scorched, I suggest you check out Tomorrow Land and Alternity, two standalone novels I published a while back that were recently re-released. Tomorrow Land is a standalone zombie novel and Alternity is kind of Matrix-y. But they’ve both got kind of a similar feel to Scorched.
About the Author:
Mari Mancusi used to wish she could become a vampire back in high school. But she ended up in another blood sucking profession –journalism — instead. Today she works as a freelance TV producer and author of books for teens and adults.
When not writing about creatures of the night, Mari enjoys traveling, cooking, goth clubbing, watching cheesy horror movies, and her favorite guilty pleasure–videogames. A graduate of Boston University and a two time Emmy Award winner, she lives in Austin , Texas with her husband Jacob, daughter Avalon and their dog Mesquite.
Allegra Wilks has had the worst month of her personal and professional life. To save her company, she must go on her would-be honeymoon and land the luxury eco-island resort’s lucrative advertising account. But when a lingerie mishap leads her into the arms of a wickedly distracting Australian, Allegra’s tempted to skip the trip and explore the most sensual kiss she’s ever experienced. Too bad their chance encounter at the airport is just that.
Having recently lost his company to his former best friend’s shady business tactics, Jett Alcott is headed to a South Pacific resort to secure an advertising account that will resurrect his reputation and career. Realizing the tantalizing Allegra Wilks is on his flight, Jett envisions a week filled with business and pleasure. But Jett doesn’t know Allegra’s fighting for the same account, or that there’s more at stake than his heart.
I am pretty game to read anything with the Entangled name printed on the cover. I have discovered a lot of great new to me authors among their various series romances, so when I won a copy of Wicked Heat, I was all geeked to read it. I’ve read Nicola Marsh previously, and I enjoyed her other books, so when I had a break in my schedule, this book got cued up on the Kindle.
This is a hot, fast read. Allegra is not having the best luck lately; she’s been dumped right before her wedding, and her advertising agency is on the skids. She’s lost a big client, and some prospective new business signed elsewhere. Desperate, she decides to risk everything on the pitch of a lifetime to score a luxury resort empire’s advertising dollars. If she can get this done, her agency will be set for life. It’s only after she meets Jett, a flirty, sexy Australian who is also traveling to the resort island, that she finally begins to understand that there’s more to life than working and being in control all the time. She had been willing to marry a friend of her parents for his business connections, and now she’s thankful that didn’t work out.
Jett is at a low point in his life, too. His best friend since childhood has been fleecing their ad agency for years, and now it’s tumbling into bankruptcy. His partner has fled for greener pastures, leaving Jett to wallow in the mess. Desperate to get his career back on track, he is determined to win the same account that Allegra is after. With his pride in tatters, he finally sees something to shake him out of the doldrums. Allegra is striding very determinedly though LAX, leaving a trail of lingerie scattered behind her.
From the moment they meet, the attraction between Jett and Allegra combusts. They can’t keep their hands off each other. Allegra sees Jett as an opportunity to put her dull, restrained love life in the past, and a chance to really let go and have the time of her life. She lives for her agency, so she isn’t expecting anything long lasting from the cocky Jett, so she’s surprised when she begins to develop feelings for him. She knows that their relationship can’t go anywhere; they don’t even live on the same continent! When she discovers that Jett’s on the island to pitch the resort business, too, she’s dismayed. She can’t just tell him that she’s there to do the same thing, with an almost identical pitch!
The major conflict is Allegra’s inability to level with Jett about why she’s at the resort. It keeps her worried and distracted, giving Jett the impression that she’s cool and detached and not really that into him. I think this would have worked better as a shorter book, and I found my attention wandering from time to time. I loved the setting, and both the beginning and the ending. There were a few times during the middle that I thought both Allegra and Jett needed to grow up. Jett in particular acted like a petulant little boy when he found out that Allegra hadn’t been completely honest with him. Now, seeing that he’s still stinging from her friend’s betrayal, some of his behavior made sense, but I was still disappointed that he was willing to jeopardize what’s left of his career when he decides to get back at Allegra by getting very, very drunk at the very resort he is trying to score business from.
Because this is such a fast read, it’s perfect for little bursts of free time. Load it up on your phone and you won’t even notice those annoying waits at the store or gas station, because you’ll be too busy wondering how Allegra’s going to come clean and not mess up her hot new relationship with Jett.
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.
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!
Archeologist Lucy Davenport made a promise to retrieve an elusive piece of history buried in the walls of an iconic Indian village. But when she draws unwanted attention that interferes with her secret plans, she’s forced to risk it all with a man who threatens not only her goal, but the walls she’s carefully constructed around her heart.
Keats McCall is an environmental preservationist navigating the globe on behalf of heritage protection. When he catches Lucy at his latest project, he suspects she’s up to something. She’s secretive, sexy as hell—and has trouble written all over her. He devises a plan to keep her close so he can keep an eye on her. But what he isn’t prepared for is just how close he wants to get
Entangled Publishing’s Ever After line is mostly a hit for me, so when I saw Risky Surrender, I wanted to read it. The protagonist is an archeologist skating on the edge of the law, and she avoids personal relationships at all costs. When she meets Keats McCall, she can’t help but be attracted to him, even though a long term relationship isn’t an option for her. All she wants is to keep the promise she made to her father before his death, so she can finally be free to live her own life. She discovers that McCall is the only one standing in the way of her goal, and she’s determined to keep her word to her father, regardless of the sexy man standing in the way. Is holding on to the past preventing her from claiming her future?
I liked this novella! Lucy has already retrieved an artifact from under McCall’s nose, but she isn’t all that eager to do it again. After he catches her poking around the historic Indian village that he’s in charge of protecting, he’s instantly on guard. Lucy doesn’t play by the rules, he’s learned, and he’s suspicious about her motives now. When he discovers that she’s been living in her car, and that she can’t really afford the repairs after it breaks down, he takes her under his wing. While he’s attracted to her, McCall’s number one calling is protecting things, be it historic sites or people. With his privileged background, helping Lucy with the auto repairs, and even finding her a place to stay, isn’t a hardship, and it’s something that he genuinely appears to enjoy. The more he sees of Lucy, though, the better he wants to get to know her. She doesn’t care who his parents are or how much is in his bank accounts, and he finds that refreshing. The fact that she has zero interest in getting to know him better is just something he chalks up to as a challenge.
Lucy has been alone since her father died two years ago. She’s been at the mercy of her father’s benefactor, forced to pay back the debts her father incurred when his treasure hunting trips yielded nothing of value. Lucy thinks she’s done with Malcolm, but when the artifact collector learns that she’s got a lead on an ancient statue, he makes threats against both Lucy and McCall unless she hands it over. Yikes!
I enjoyed the flow of Lucy and McCall’s relationship. It just clips believably along, and as they get to know each other better, they slowly begin to trust each other with little pieces of themselves. The progression seemed so natural. Sure, they stumbled along at times, but the reasons for that were also compelling and fit so well in the overall context of the story. Lucy was a better developed character, but she had an unconventional upbringing, following along after her father, who was always looking for that next rush, that next treasure. It made her think that she wasn’t able to have a traditional relationship, but after losing everyone close to her, she was so over giving her heart away, only to have it returned, bruised and battered.
Risky Surrender is a satisfying read with fun characters, snappy dialog, and just enough intrigue to keep readers on their toes. I loved McCall, and was sad when this story drew to a close. If you have an extra hour or so this weekend, give this novella a go.
After a plague of vampires was unleashed in the world, Katie was kicked out of the safe haven of her Amish community for her refusal to adhere to the new rules of survival. She enters an outside world of unspeakable violence with only her two friends and a horse by her side
And yet through this darkness come the shining ones: luminescent men and women with the power to deflect vampires and survive the night. But can they be trusted, and are they even people at all? In this sequel to The Hallowed Ones, it’s up to one Amish girl to save her family, her community, and the boy she loves . . . but what will she be asked to sacrifice in return?
Last year, I read The Hallowed Ones, and it totally creeped me out. It was scary and suspenseful, and protagonist Katie was brave, level-headed, and firmly grounded by her Amish beliefs. I eagerly awaited The Outside, the next book in the series, which picks up right where The Hallowed Ones left off. The end of the world has come, in the form of a terrible sickness that turns its victims into blood sucking monsters. Katie, her English boyfriend Alex, and Ginger are trying to stay alive after being expelled from Katie’s Amish community. They have no shelter, dwindling provisions, and the vampires are dogging their every step. Only sacred ground is keeping them safe at night, as they trek north to find Alex’s family. Winter is coming (sorry GoTs fans!), and the odds of their continued survival are bleak.
While I didn’t think The Outside was as suspenseful as the previous book, I still had a hard time putting it down. This outing is all about the running. Running from vampires, running from the weather, running from the knowledge that the world has ended and there few survivors of whatever horrible virus has turned humanity into monsters. Along the way, they meet some of the desperate survivors, and Katie and Alex are at odds about what to do with the weapon they receive to alter themselves to survive the fight with the Darkness. Alex jumps at the chance to save himself and have a better way to protect Katie, but Katie struggles with her decision about what to do. She has already gone against her belief system so many times, and she’s afraid that this measure of self-defense will steal away whatever humanity that she has left. I thought that this method of battling the vampires was genius, in a Ha! Take THIS evil vampires!! kind of way.
What I enjoyed best about The Outside was Katie’s struggle to accept the bad things that had happened to her. She made some choices in both books that had very serious repercussions for both herself and for Alex and Ginger, and while she regretted some of the outcomes, she never regretted the initial decision to save Alex. That one choice was the catalyst for everything else that happened; being shunned, being forced from the protection of her community, seeing the terrible things she saw while she was Outside. She is angry with the Elders for not believing the Hexenmeister, and for how their treated Ginger. She’s hurt that her parents did nothing when she was kicked out of the community, yet she can’t stop worrying about them. Even though her friends and everyone she knows have turned their backs on her, she is still willing to give up her life to save as many of them as she can. She’s a very admirable character.
One quibble with the book, and it’s the same quibble I have with most post-apocalyptic/dystopian novels, is how quickly they start to feel repetitive. The steps are always similar to this – travel as far during the day as possible, forage for food and water, seek a safe place to sleep, encounter monsters and life-threatening events along the way. Stop to rest after finding a safe haven, then gear up and get back on the road, facing even more danger than before. The pattern and the pacing occasionally frustrate me. Katie was an interesting enough character that I remained engaged in this story. With her Plain upbringing, she’s even better prepared for the end of the world than most heroines. Katie hasn’t been exposed to modern conveniences, so she’s used to a more rugged life-style. She knows the land, and knows how to forage. She hasn’t had a cushy life, but instead had chores and obligations to her family and her community. I thought this gave her a huge advantage that made her survival more believable.
I enjoyed Laura Bickle’s foray into YA, and look forward to her next project. I like her voice and I really like her characters.
Yosuke’s family has a strange tradition – once every sixty years they receive an egg from a mermaid. When the egg matures his family dutifully returns it to the sea, where the whole process is then repeated. In exchange for this favor, the mer-people bless his coastal town with bountiful catches of fish and calm seas.
But as a commercial development encroach on the sleepy seaside village and Yosuke’s father is lured away from tradition towards modern prosperity, and turns the egg into a tourist trap, what will happen to the promise their family made to the mermaids generations ago?
Tropic of the Sea Satoshi Kon’s first feature length manga, includes a dozen black and white art plates from his original release, along with a 5-page essay written by Kon in 1999 detailing his transition from the manga industry to the animation business.
I love it when a great read comes right out the blue and completely catches me by surprise. I received a review copy of Tropic of the Sea, and was instantly interested in it for two reasons. One, it’s complete in one volume, which is always a plus, and two, it’s about one family’s promise to protect the egg of a mermaid in exchange for the prosperity of their village. As times change, and the pressures of a modern economy squeeze the village, Yosuke’s father has sold the family’s land and turned the shrine into a tourist trap. His father doesn’t believe that the object their family has cared for over the last sixty years is really a mermaid’s egg, and he wants his hometown to experience the prosperity he feels has been passing them by. As the young people leave for the city, with no plans of returning, he begins to fear for the future of his village, so he makes a deal with the Ozaki group, commercial developers chomping at the bit to turn the sleepy town into a luxury resort.
I love character driven stories, and Tropic of the Sea is filled with empathetic characters. Even Yosuke’s dad, who I thought was a complete jerk at first, turns out to have the best interests of the town at heart, even though his misguided attempts to modernize it have sharply divided the townsfolk. The fishermen are deeply opposed to the development, which will destroy their traditional fishing grounds. This conflict has turned neighbors against each other, and is so volatile that the threat of constantly simmers, destroying the peace of the town.
Yosuke just wants to pass his college entrance exams and get out of Dodge; he doesn’t really believe in mermaids, but he performs the shrine tasks out of a sense of duty and out of respect for his grandfather. The old man is ailing, and the stressful situation with the construction isn’t helping him. He is deeply committed to keeping the promise his family made to the mermaids generations ago, but he’s helpless to stop his son from selling the land and destroying their traditional way of life. To add to his unease, it’s been 60 years since he received the current egg, and according to the agreement with the mer-people, the egg has to be returned to the sea.
There are no real bad guys in Tropic of the Sea, just characters motivated to make their lives and the lives of their friends and families better. Everyone behaves in a believable way, even though I didn’t agree with some of the decisions being made, and the reasons behind them, but I could certainly understand them. Through it all, Yosuke is torn. He doesn’t believe in the mer-people or the promise that his family has kept for all these years, but he loves his grandfather and wants to make him happy. As events begin to spiral out of control, he’s forced to choose sides and to fight for what’s important to him.
The pacing is phenomenal, and I was completely sucked into the story. I couldn’t put it down. I started to get worried – did the mer-people really exist, and what was going to happen if Yosuke’s family broke their promise. Though the tone is quiet and introspective, the emotional kick is compelling. The ending is a tad over the top, but it wrapped up all of the questions and all of story lines in a neat and satisfying way. Vertical is putting out some great stuff, and I wish I had more time to really dive into their library.
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.
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.