Book Review: Demon Slayer Volume 9 by Koyoharu Gotouge

Book Review: Demon Slayer Volume 9 by Koyoharu Gotouge

Spoiler Free Summary: Demon Slayer Volume 9 by Koyoharu Gotouge is the ninth volume in the Demon Slayer manga. Tanjiro and his friends agree to join Hashira Tengen Uzui (if only to protect his young friends back at what I call the base camp). Unfortunately, none of the boys asked why Uzui wanted women for this mission. They have to infiltrate a Geisha house, and Tanjiro and his friends volunteered. When they learn one of the Upper Six is hunting in the area, they’ll have to decide if they’re ready for such a challenge.

Character: Tanjiro is adorable as always, and this chapter is strictly comic relief. Sure it builds to a large plot, but it’s really just putting the characters in shameful positions for the sake of laughs, which, I guess, some people like, but I think Tanjiro’s innocence is funny enough sometimes. There is a “beauty” angle (a little on the nose even from my perspective), but we don’t see him grow in this volume, and that’s frustrating.

The cover image for this volume was taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Exposition: This volume was necessarily heavier on this than others because we actually do get to know Uzui as a character along with his background. I’m not particularly fond of Uzui, so I’m not particularly thrilled with this exposition, but that’s only because of my opinion of the character. Creatively, I respect that exposition was necessary to help establish the next arc.

Worldbuilding: Here’s where the volume gains momentum. You see, while there were several chapters of kooky action, we do get to see more of Tanjiro and his ability. The end of this volume is worth the beginning and middle. I may be confusing Volume 9 and 10 here (let me know in the comments), but I feel like this is the Volume that establishes the deeper history of Tanjiro’s technique and how much of an impact it had on the big bad (whose name escapes me at the moment). The fight is awesome. The flashback is cool. The context it reveals is super satisfying.

Dialogue: Most of the dialogue I mentioned above is thinly hidden in the dialogue. It’s mostly a get to konw Uzui volume, and that greeting is shown in dialogue. The voice is unique, and the character reactions to some of Uzui’s habits are hilarious. But this sort of stuff is par for the course in this series.

Description: So the fight scene in this is particularly stunning. There’s so much going on here and so much detail. the Upper Six they fight has an ability that requires so much detail. It’s really a visual fight that only a manga or anime could do any justice too. This fight might be my second favorite so far (the spider arc is my favorite to date).

Overall: This volume is probably my least favorite so far, but that’s not saying a whole lot. I think zany humor is kind of hit of miss for me. Let me read this later on in a different mood, and I probably love it. But this sort of humor is a kind of humor that relies on mood. However, the last chapter or two really sings with great action, plot development, and world building.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Announcing the Week 2 2021 April Book Cover of the Month! Vote for Week 3’s Cover

Announcing the Week 2 2021 April Book Cover of the Month! Vote for Week 3’s Cover

Greetings all,

My Book Cover of the Month contest is back in the swing of things. Things have picked up a bit, but we still aren’t getting a ton of votes. I’d be much obliged if you took a few moments to let your voice be heard. Once again, I had to break a tie. I had eight votes, and, sure enough, two books each had two votes. I need your help to get this back to the level of support it had a few years ago before I went on hiatus regarding book covers.

So first, let’s announce the winner for week 2.

The cover for The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner has wonderful color and texture. It really stood out to me from the moment I first saw it.

But, as one week passes, another begins. So you can vote for your favorite Week 3 2021 April Book Cover of the Month right here!

I’d be grateful if you would be so kind as to watch my channel, where I talk about all seven of the covers and why I think they were so cool. My middle son joined me for this episode, so that was nice of him.

Remember to vote for your favorite through the link I provided above! This means that The Lost Apothecary joins Spellmaker in the finals for the 2021 April Book Cover of the Month! You guys can choose who wins the title and then support your favorite in the yearly competition (obviously next year)! I hope you’ll participate.

Thanks for reading and watching,

Matt

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 25

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 25

PT 1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 // PT 8 // PT 9 // PT 10 // PT 11 // PT 12 // PT 13 // PT 14 // PT 15 // PT 16 // PT 17 // PT 18 // PT 19 // PT 20 // PT 21 // PT 22 // PT 23 // PT 24 //

Nobody stood and walked over to place a hand on Paul’s shoulder. “What I say may convict you, but I don’t say it to make you feel bad. I say what I say to you to help you. Sometimes a young man just needs to take stock of what’s in his heart.”

Nobody took his hand back and started to walk toward the door. 

“You’re leaving?” Paul hated the sound of longing in his voice for some reason. 

“It would get very awkward for both of us if our conversations got too long at any one time,” Nobody said, stopping just before reaching the door. “I come when there’s something you need to know, and I leave when I’ve said what I came to say. That’s what you need.”

“What if I need more?” Paul asked. He had teachers. He had friends. Well, he had a friend, and when you had a friend as good as Jordan, you didn’t really need many more. But he knew something was missing. He just didn’t want to say what it was. 

“If you need more, then maybe let those who’d like to be in your life have a chance.” Nobody stepped out of the house.

Paul didn’t rush to the door. Indeed, after a few moments, he heard that strange surge of power. The tv and windows reflected the flash of light that always accompanies one of Nobody’s teleportations. He must have been too far away for the odd temperature shift to be felt. If Paul had tried to see it, he wouldn’t have made it in time. He was starting to think about how one might teleport, and soon, he’d start to take notes on his own plan to recreate the technique.  

In the meantime, however, he sat thinking about what Nobody had said. Sure, a lot of what he said made Paul feel bad for a moment or two, but they always helped him do things that made everything better. 

Maybe Bill wasn’t so bad. Paul honestly didn’t know. Paul had never spent more than three seconds around him. Nobody convinced Paul to make friends with Jordan, and that was great. Nobody helped Paul see how cruel he was being to his own mother, and since then, he was closer to his mom than they’d ever been. So what could it hurt to give Bill a chance?

The end of Chapter Six.

… to be continued …

Now Presenting the Cover to Betrayed!

Now Presenting the Cover to Betrayed!

Greetings all,

Last weekend I presented this cover on my YouTube channel. You can check out how that went by watching below.

However, that didn’t mean I wasn’t going to show off this cover here on my blog. So before I get too far into the details, let’s just have a look.

Once again I just want to make sure I thank Carlos Villas for all of his hard work. I think the cover is beautiful! I’m still planning on a May 1 release date. I’m proofreading as quickly as I can, but I desperately want to make this book as polished as I can, so June 1 is a possibility, but I guarantee June 1 is the latest this book will be out.

I hope you all like the cover!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: Demon Slayer Volume 8 by Koyoharu Gotouge

Book Review: Demon Slayer Volume 8 by Koyoharu Gotouge

Spoiler Free Summary: Demon Slayer Volume 8 by Koyoharu Gotouge is the eighth volume in the Demon Slayer manga. The battle on the train concludes, and our heroes are forced to live with the aftermath. But from sadness, hope arises, and Tanjiro finally has the chance to learn what Hinokami Kagura is. Just as answers seem near, a new mission begins.

The cover image for this manga was taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use docrine.

Character: Tanjiro is still the star of the show, but like all truly amazing anime/manga, even the side characters with just a sliver of screen time have deep arcs that touch the heart. This entire volume is more about the heart of those side characters. Learning about others through the compassionate and loving eyes of Tanjiro is all the more special.

Exposition: This manga probably needed a bit more exposition than most given that this particular volume is more setup and worldbuilding, but it’s not an offensive amount.

Worldbuilding: This volume delivers on the promise made by the previous one. We do indeed finally gain some relevant, meaningful information about Hinokami Kagura. On one hand, the information is awesome in it’s scope, but it isn’t very functionally revealing. Think of it like a history lesson without the current applicational use. Still, it expands the worldbuilding and teases real cool things to come, also hinting at why Tanjiro’s family was targeted.

Dialogue: The dialogue is where a lot comes to light. It’s not as thinly veiled as it could have been, but it’s pretty on the nose. Still, the characters each have a unique voice, and that makes watching the story unfold fun. The conversations are charming, touching, and sad at all the appropriate times.

Description: The art is still great, but there’s not much that will change here in regard to description. If you’re reading the manga by this point, you probably already like the art and, therefore, the description.

Overall: This volume does what all great setup volumes do. They yank you along from volume to volume with great cliffhangers that make you want to rush out and buy the next however-many volumes are available. Where Volume 7 gives the reader action and cool fight scenes, this volume gives you context and worldbuilding while setting up the next big showdown.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Announcing the Week 1 2021 April Book Cover of the Month! Vote for Week 2’s Cover

Announcing the Week 1 2021 April Book Cover of the Month! Vote for Week 2’s Cover

Greetings all,

My Book Cover of the Month contest is back in the swing of things. It’s not entirely unexpected, but we’re off to a slow start. This weeks’ winner was actually a tie I had to break. I had six votes, and, sure enough, each vote was for a different cover. I’d love to get this back to the level of support it had a few years ago before I went on hiatus regarding book covers.

So first, let’s announce the winner for week 1.

I was just a big fan of this cover overall. It’s probably not the genre I’d like most, but I can’t deny how well Spellmaker by Charlie N. Holmberg sings.

But, as one week passes, another begins. So you can vote for your favorite Week 2 2021 April Book Cover of the Month right here!

I’d be grateful if you would be so kind as to watch my channel, where I talk about all seven of the covers and why I think they were so cool. My middle son joined me for this episode, so that was nice of him.

Remember to vote for your favorite through the link I provided above! This means that Spellmaker is in the finals for the 2021 April Book Cover of the Month! You guys can choose who wins the title and then support your favorite in the yearly competition (obviously next year)! I hope you’ll participate.

Thanks for reading and watching,

Matt

Visits From a Man Named Nobody 24

Visits From a Man Named Nobody 24

PT 1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 // PT 8 // PT 9 // PT 10 // PT 11 // PT 12 // PT 13 // PT 14 // PT 15 // PT 16 // PT 17 // PT 18 // PT 19 // PT 20 // PT 21 // PT 22 // PT 23 //

“It would be pointless!” Paul felt as if he’d finally gained the advantage in a conversation with Nobody.

“Unless the point is to teach that even the most righteous will suffer.” Nobody spoke as if the answer had just occurred to him. “What if the point of Job isn’t so much why, people suffer, but that people will suffer? Then the story of Job teaches us how one can suffer righteously. It shows us God is in control, even when we think he’s not watching.”

“But he let him suffer just to prove a point!” Paul wasn’t letting that perspective go.

“When did he promise no one would suffer?” Nobody asked. 

“So he just lets people suffer?” Paul asked back.

“Suffering is a result of sin,” Nobody said. “Man chose to rebel, that’s what sin is. Man chose to pursue what he wants rather than obey God. The natural consequences of that choice are death and suffering. From that point of view, suffering is a result of sin, which was brought on by Adam’s disobedience. Then we see in Job that no one is promised of life without pain, but we also see that even our suffering is accounted for in a broader plan.”

Nobody leaned forward. “People suffer, and it’s always tragic, but there’s always a reason. We may not know it. That reason may even be, ‘It’s just something that has to happen.’ But our suffering shapes us. I’m here because my suffering shaped me, and it’s prepared me to help you.”

“You’re helping me because … because you suffered …”  Paul couldn’t say the words.

“I suffered like you suffered,” Nobody said. “I was beaten. I’m not happy about the pain I endured, but I’m happy I found purpose through that pain, and I’m very happy that I can help you because I understand what you’ve been through. So sometimes, people suffer to help ease the suffering of others.”

Paul considered what he was hearing. “But there are others. You said you only visit me.”

“Honestly,” Nobody shrugged. “I can’t help everyone. But if I help you, you’ll be able to help someone. Then, they’ll be able to help others. I had to start somewhere, so I started at the best place I could.”

“What made me the best place to start?” Paul asked.

Nobody’s mask shifted position, making it obvious that he had smiled. “That is the secret you’ll have to uncover on your own, and you will. For now though, we have to talk about relationships.”

“Why? What does that have to do with suffering or my life?” Paul asked.

“If you never let anyone in, you’ll never find those who can help you in your time of need.” Nobody leaned back on the couch. “Also, if you only try to hold on to the people you’ve chosen, you’ll become even more possessive of them, and you’ll resent them for having others in their lives.”

Paul groaned and rolled his head back. “You’re talking about Bill!”

“Whose name you can’t speak without making it sound like a curse,” Nobody said.

“You traveled through space to sit on a couch and tell me to be nice to a guy who’s just trying to hook up with my mom?” Paul asked.

“He’s not trying to take her from you,” Nobody said, “and if you give him a chance, you’ll see he’s actually trying to become a part of your life.”

“I don’t want him in my life!” Paul said.

Nobody sat there as still as a statue as Paul thought about the conversation. 

“My mom can date him if she wants!” Paul wasn’t sure why he felt the need to defend her relationship, but there it was.

Nobody just kept starting at him.

“I won’t get …  I’ll get over it if she wants to spend more time with …. ” He couldn’t speak the lie. 

“If you don’t give him a chance, you’re putting your mom in this position where she has to choose,” Nobody finally said.  

“She should choose me,” Paul said. 

“That may be the first truly selfish thing I’ve ever heard you say,” Nobody said. 

Paul leapt up from the recliner. “It’s not selfish to think a mother should prioritize her kids!”

“Are the words “prioritize” and “serve” synonyms?” Nobody asked.

“No.”

“Your mom works to provide for you,” Nobody said, holding up fingers as he counted off each point. “She spends time with you both to help you as well as she can with school and to just spend time with you having fun. She’s there when you need her, so I’d say she’s prioritized you perfectly well. Does prioritizing you mean she can never date or have a relationship apart from you?”

Paul slumped back down in his chair, mumbling. “You always make me feel like a jerk.” 

… to be continued …

Today’s The Day! Join Me For The Cover Reveal of Betrayed!

Today’s The Day! Join Me For The Cover Reveal of Betrayed!

Greetings all,

I’ve been eagerly awaiting this day! Today at 2 p.m., I’ll be on Zoom to answer some questions. As I type this, I’m not sure if Carlos (the artist) will be able to make it or not, but I hope he will be. We’ll talk about the artistic process behind the cover, and then we’ll show it off.

If you want to be there to ask questions or talk to me about my work or Carlos (if he can make it) about his work, you can still shoot me an email with your name, email, and Zoom profile name so I can send you the link.

You can also post any questions you want me to answer in the comments below.

I’m excited to give this method a try, and I hope to see you there.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: Demon Slayer Volume 7 by Koyoharu Gotouge

Book Review: Demon Slayer Volume 7 by Koyoharu Gotouge

Spoiler Free Summary: Demon Slayer Volume 7 by Koyoharu Gotouge is the seventh volume in the Demon Slayer manga. Tanjiro, Zenitsu, and Inosuke board a train where people are vanishing at an alarming rate. Tanjiro hopes to find Rengoku, a Hashira in the Demon Slayer Corps to ask the master about fire breathing techniques and if they are related to Hinokami Kagura. But the mystery of this train will force all the members of the team to face their own hearts, and if they can’t let go of dreams of what could have been or could be, the only futures they’ll have will be as food.

The cover image for this volume was taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Character: Tanjiro is easily one of the most compelling characters of this generation. He’s innocent, kind, and loyal. Like all great anime characters I can think of off the top of my head, he’s not that bright. This volume connects all the way back to the beginning of Tanjiro’s story, and it’s heartbreaking to watch him face those memories only to have to abandon them.

Exposition: Manga’s have an advantage in that they can use art to fill in gaps, but even mangas need a few exposition boxes to provide context or the occasional joke. Thankfully, these particular boxes are short and to the point. They’re only used to provide information that can’t be shown visually, and that’s cool.

Worldbuilding: This volume continues to tease the mysterious nature of Hinokami Kagura, but it doesn’t provide any real answers. This volume relies on cool fight scenes and emotional drama to keep the pages turning. However, I feel it was still successful. You see, with serialized stories, not every book needs to have every quality. This volume had it’s traits (see above) and other volumes deal with other areas of storytelling. This is because a volume is a part of a far much greater whole. The only real worldbuilding here you see is how much more unique the upper ranked demons are.

Dialogue: A lot of the charm in this series comes from the dialogue between Tanjiro and his friends. Even the other members of the corps have their personalities revealed via dialogue. I think that’s a bit unique, but I watch far more anime than I do read manga, so a bit manga reader will have to comment below and tell me how far off I am. I think this dialogue was a bit stronger than other anime (Naruto, Bleach). I don’t think it’s as good as Death Note, but it’s close.

Description: Manga cheats a little here. It’s so much easier to have great description when you’re an artist who can literally draw what you want viewers to see. The art is incredible. The action scenes are well depicted. I have to admit that black and white is a bit hard for me to see in the details sometimes, but that’s a minor complaint that has more to do with the genre than with the art.

Overall: I picked this up because I didn’t want to wait another year for the movie to come out. At lest now I have the story in my head. That said, I can’t wait for the movie now. The story is beautiful and tragic, fun and action packed. It has lots of surprising moments and teases some strong world building in future volumes. If you like anime and/or manga, this is worth starting.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Buy The Journals of Bob Drifter

Vote for the 2019 April (Week 1) Book Cover of the Month!

Vote for the 2019 April (Week 1) Book Cover of the Month!

That’s right folks! The Book Cover of the Month (and year) is back (click here if all you want to do is vote)!

This has actually been going for a bit, and I even mentioned it in a different blog, but that blog had some other information that might have buried the news.

How the new system works!

First, if you want to watch my pick the covers and talk about why I like them, check out my YouTube channel!

Would you like to join me and talk about book covers? I’d love to have you. You just have to email me and give me your name, email, and Zoom user name. Do that, and I’ll email you to tell you when I’m about to be on. I try to be on at the same time, but married life makes that a bit tough. For instance, I expect to be on looking at covers Friday.

Also, Saturday, April 10 at 2 p.m., I still plan to do the cover reveal for Betrayed that way, and I hope you’ll join me.

But, that’s not what you came here for is it?

Each week, I pick seven covers. Then I post a Google Form where you can vote for your favorite of those seven. The winners for each week get put in a final form for the title of Book Cover of the Month.

I’m hoping you’ll take a moment to vote for your favorite of Week One’s seven covers. You can vote here! You’ll need to be signed on to Google (to keep those super passionate people from voting 1,000 times).

I’ll announce the winner in a future video (and a small post here).

Thanks for reading (and hopefully voting!)

Matt