My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was the frustrating part of the whole Bleach series. Too many battle scenes distracting from the story telling because when Tite is involved in his storyline, it is really good. This volume represents the best the series can offer. This balances the action with the plot. Emotion comes singing out of the pages.
Ginjo and Ichigo’s bloody battle has the desired effect: Ichigo completes his fullbring and it’s a really cool one. However, when he gets home, Ichigo confronts one of the more terrifying things he’s ever faced, mostly because it’s subtle and insidious and I loved it. Tsukishima has written himself into Ichigo’s past, or more specifically Shu’s fullbring allowed him to write himself into the past of all Ichigo’s loved ones. His friends think Shu is their best friends. His sisters think Shu is a relative. None of them understand why Ichigo wants to pound him into paste.
Ichigo runs back to Ginjo, the one person who seems unaffected because even the other fullbringers seem under Shu’s spell. Together they piece together Shu’s fullbring only to have Yukio herd them into Shu’s trap, a house filled with Ichigo’s friends and family and forcing the fight. Ichigo faces the worst thing he can imagine: having to fight Chad and Orihime as they protect their ‘protector,’ Shu. As Uryu shows up an even bigger betrayal awaits as everything Ichigo has worked for falls to pieces and a surprise lies beyond that.
If you’ve stopped reading Bleach along the way go back to vol 50 and pick up the Fullbring arc. It’s worth it. Ichigo’s fear and sadness are palpable in this volume. Like I said, when you get a volume this good, you want to go kick the mangaka in the butt for all the 100 page volumes of nothing but boring battle scenes with no storytelling. Also, the art is just beautiful.
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Crystal Gate by Karisa Delay
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I’m usually pretty picky about what self-pub books I pick up because so many showcase why an editor is so important (and this book does have many places where you have the correctly spelled but entirely wrong word errors in it) but the author was going to be at my local library so I said what the heck. Then realized I wasn’t going to be in town that week but that is neither here nor there.
Alexis Zen is a physicist working on a secret project in a lab on Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, OH. Her new boss, James, is among other things a UFologist and yet, Alexis sees him as doubting and dismissive of her work as being ‘out there.’ (Honestly, I didn’t get that from the writing. I found Alexis to be far more dismissive of James than the other way around but it is her perception of him). She also carries some trauma from her past, some she’s aware of (abusive boyfriend of mom) and some she’s still blanked on. She’s working with Dr. Ben Asael whom she met to get her clearance to work on the air force base.
Ben asks her, after she has her clearance, to stay on, not as a patient but as a case study of sorts but this is quickly complicated by the fact he starts going to family events with her. Alexis has a strained relationship with her mom but is close to her grandparents, especially Baba, her grandmother who tells her stories since she was a child. Unfortunately there has been a death in the family as well bringing two detectives into Alexis’s life.
As for Alexis, she is paranoid, part of the reason Dr Asael wants to keep talking to her as a case study. It gets worse when she finds out James is seeing Ben (maybe because work told him to) and that Ben tells her to be careful around James. But Alexis has reason to be paranoid. She’s being watched by beings that are…well we’re never really sure. Angels (of the fallen variety)? Aliens? One of them has killed her aunt and they are answering to a man they are afraid of (and the back cover blurb leads you to think it’ll be a man Alexis is close to so James or Ben and I knew who my money was on from the beginning). Also she keeps having these black-out spells and odd dreams.
As part of her research Alexis will be traveling with James and this is where the story falters a little for me. There’s been enough build up that James is disparaging of her work and that Ben disapproves of him (and I’m not kidding when I say I didn’t see James nearly as bad as these two did) that it makes me wonder would she have gone or somehow rearranged this trip without him. She doesn’t. She does however make a play for Ben and is rejected.
While in Japan, Alexis, James and the crystal she has start experiencing some strange things, like tremors and UFOS. Ben, in an apparent change of heart, shows up, lavishing tens of thousands of dollars to jet her and James to the next area of research and to spend Alexis’s birthday with her. Among her gifts is an ancient journal from Baba detailing some of the stories about this crystal handed down from Eve. Things come to a head, very few questions are answered and you’re left needing to get the next book. Yes some things are wrapped up here but few are (and if you’re new to my reviews, I don’t mind series. I do mind when they arbitrarily end without resolving at least one plot thread).
It’s not a bad story, weaving in UFO sightings and aliens and religion. Sometimes there are odd jumps in the narrative and I did find the romance to be flat.
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