Book Review: Bleach Volume 51 by Tite Kubo

Book Review: Bleach Volume 51 by Tite Kubo

Spoiler free summary: In Volume 51 of Bleach by Tite Kubo, Ichigo Kurosaki is quickly getting the hang of his Fullbring powers, but it’s a race against time as Tsukishima is targeting Ichigo. He’s apparently attacked at least two of his friends, so Ichigo needs to gain more power quickly before he’s too late.

Character: If you can get past the fact that this feels very much like Ichigo’s training as a Visard, you get to know these characters. Yes, the formula is yawn-worthy familiar, but at least you’re getting to know knew people and what drives them. I will say you get to connect with them, and that’s something to this volume’s credit.

Exposition: This was better than the last volume. There’s more action (not in terms of a fight, but in terms of training). So the conversations add to the context, but it’s just about what it would be with any manga, so one has to let that sort of thing go.

Worldbuilding: So we start to understand Fullbring a bit more. Because this feels so much like the Visard arc, even though we’re understanding a different ability, it doesn’t feel unique at all.

Dialogue: There’s some cute dialogue here and there. The characters are unique, but this is generally a strength of the series (even with the exception of the last issue). All manga tend to have those occasional volumes where one character or another explains pretty much the plot of the entire arc. This volume is more witty banter between punches, which is fun if not really content adding.

Description: The art here is cool. It’s not as sweepingly majestic as Demon Slayer, but it is pretty cool to watch. A lot of the moves are more effective for black and white, and that says something for the series.

Overall: This volume is sort of more on track with what I said about the arc overall. Like I mentioned in the character setting, this sequence of events was so formulaically like the Visard arc, it buried what might be great characters. In future arcs, there were some changes and plot development that, even if it is still true to the basic anime patter, give the events an original feel. Not so with this volume. It’s cool in a way, but it’s unoriginal.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: Bleach Volume 50 by Tite Kubo

Book Review: Bleach Volume 50 by Tite Kubo

Spoiler free summary: In Volume 50 of Bleach by Tite Kubo, Ichigo Kurosaki is trying to adjust to life without his Soul Reaper powers. Things seem to be reaching a pretty normal (at least for Ichigo) rotuine when a man named Kugo Ginjo comes to town, promising Ichigo a way to get his powers back. But why is he doing it?

Character: If you’re not in love with Ichigo and his friends by Volume 50, I’m not sure why you’re reading this review or the series in question. What stands out to me is that Volumes 1-49 comprise a beautiful, complete storyline. So The future arcs really seem out of place given everything was wrapped up nicely. Sure, this Fullbring arc does connect to the history of Soul Society and Ichigo’s past, but it’s not so unique that I felt it demanded publication. However, I think if you loved Bleach the way I love, say, Mistborn, then more is something you’ll like. These new characters bring new dynamics into the worldbuilding that may not be as interesting as the previous arc, but it’s still cool. For Ichigo, the more interesting arc would have been to force him not to be the hero. I get why this arc exists, but it just feels like they did this to pump out more content, and that content only advanced one aspect of storytelling (see below).

Exposition: This is a manga, so get ready for several “the exposition boxes were solid.” I will say there is far more exposition in Bleach than Demon Slayer. Some is hidden in dialogue, but given how obvious it is, it can get pretty annoying.

Worldbuilding: So this is where the rubber meets the metaphorical road in these future volumes. If the politics and history of Soul Society are interesting to you, then this is your volume. If you want to understand the origins of substitute shinigamis and power activations in normal humans, this is for you. I’m just not one of those. But that’s not a bad thing. Mistborn fascinates me. I’m going to read all the eras because that world does interest me. However, Dragonriders is my favorite series every, but I only read the main arc. I’m not saying I never will, it just doesn’t interest me nearly as much as Jaxom and Ruth. So that’s what everything rests on (with the exception of fights, see below).

Dialogue: This is probably the weakest. Almost every conversation I can remember was basically the characters explaining the plot to me, and that annoyed me. It wasn’t the clever cat and mouse stuff from the previous volumes. There was almost no attention paid to the actual characters and their everyday motivations. Instead, the monologued about whatever info dump the author wanted to pour down the reader’s throat. The one character who acts and speaks like a normal character is brushed aside when the fighting starts.

Description: Here again is a point of emphasis for fans of anime and manga. What makes it good? If you think good manga is cool fight scenes with epic OP battle moments, this gives you what you want. But if you’re looking to connect more with new characters and new stories, I’m sorry. You’re going to be disappointed. You might get a brief, “trust me, I’ve had it rough” speech from some character here or there, but we don’t get time to know the character and bond with them, so these speeches fall short of the mark.

Overall: I have to say that I have a bias that might be unfair. I thought the end of the battle against Aizen was a perfect ending to a perfect story. I feel much the same way about this as I did about Season 5 of Supernatural. The most important thing any storyteller can do for his story is to let it finish, and none of these volumes did justice to the ones before them. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read them. If you like epic fights, this is for you. If you are fascinated by the history of Soul Society, this is for you. This arc already puts an odd barrier between the heroes that I didn’t understand. It doesn’t address it or improve on it. It almost starts over in an odd way, and it’s not nearly as powerful as the first version. I leave you the right to decide for yourselves. Did I hate it? Honestly, no. It was OK, but it was just OK when before it was awesome, and that’s the reason some of this seems negative.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

A New 5-Star Review for Caught

A New 5-Star Review for Caught

Greetings all,

It’s been a while since I’ve had a review, but man, I love it when I get one, especially when it’s good. That means I get to share this five-star review for Caught from Cowan on Audible.


What a read!

Ho-ly Cow! What a great book to read. Intense with great twists. A wonderful and original take on the genre. Highly recommend!


It’s great because it’s five stars, and even though it’s short, it’s super kind.

If you’ve read any of my work, please consider leaving a rating and review on Amazon, Goodreads, Audible, or all three. They really do mean the world to me.

As always, I appreciate you all for supporting my silly dream. I’ll keep writing, and I will always thank you for reading.

Matt

Week 2 of the 2021 M.L.S. Weech October Book Cover of the Moth Is Live!

Week 2 of the 2021 M.L.S. Weech October Book Cover of the Moth Is Live!

Greetings all,

Before we get started, please take a moment to vote for the 2021 M.L.S. Weech September Book Cover of the Month right here.

We’re moving along in our October contest, and we have seven new covers to choose from. Let’s announce the winner for Week 1, which is …

You Give Magic A Bad Name by Ty Burson was a great cover with amazing light. This will kick off all the book covers for October.

You can vote for your favorite cover for this week right here.

I’d appreciate it if you stopped by my YouTube channel and gave it a like and subscribe. It really helps me support the authors and covers, and it helps me.

The Discovery Draft of Discovered Is Finished!

The Discovery Draft of Discovered Is Finished!

I really do love these posts! I’m not sure why, but I’m strangely surprised when I finish another book. The thing is, every book is a new challenge. Life provides challenges. But if you just keep chipping away at a goal, you’ll get there eventually. Discovered is proof of that.

Discovered is about 100,000 words, and it took me just about 15 months to finish this draft. This draft always takes the longest, because I’m working from scratch. The other drafts will take between 40-80 days each, with about a month between each draft.

Discovered is the final book in the Oneiors Log, and it brings the story to a close that is also a new beginning. While I don’t personally plan on doing more in that universe, it brings the saga to the point I saw it at when I started writing Repressed.

Sal and Kaitlyn have POVs, of course. This time, Kira steps as a main POV character, and she joins Mariana (from Betrayed) and one of several new characters, Daniel. I really love Daniel as a character, and I hope you will, too.

Just like always, I’ve written some quick notes to myself on issues I already know are in this draft. I’ll let it sit for a month to clear my creative pallet. I’ll get to work on the first draft of Discovered Oct. 21, on month after I finished the discovery draft. I must say, this is a particularly rough draft. It needs a lot of work, and I want to take my time to make sure I conclude this saga the right way.

So what else am I working on?

Well, I’m working on a secret that I’m very excited about, but I can’t announce anything just yet. If everything works out, I’ll quickly have some big news (at least it’s big to me because of how meaningful it would be).

What I can tell you is about the other project I’ll be working on.

I’ve been fiddling with Images of Truth (the first novel in the Perception of War saga), and I really do want to jump on that, but I don’t think that’s the right call.

As much as I want to finish writing a new book, I have several titles that are finished but not published, so I feel the right thing to do is try to get one of those projects out into the world. That means it’s time for me to start work on a draft of The 1,200.

The 1,200 is a story about homeless veterans. When I first started that story, I learned through research that San Diego has more than 1,200 homeless veterans, and that fact gave birth to this whole story. However, I was a very different writer back then (2009), and the world was a very different place. So as I start working on that project, I’m going to take a very critical look at it. I’d be stoked if I could go through the book and prep the next draft before I move back to Discovered.

Another note on 1,200: If you’re a fan of Bob Drifter, pay close attention to that book. There’s a treat or two in there for you. It’s not earth shattering, but I think it’s nice.

I don’t think I’ll publish 1,200 before Discovered. In a manner of speaking, they’re both in the same stage of development. It could happen, but I doubt it. But I’d be very pleased if both books come out in 2022. I fully expect Discovered to be out in 2022 (maybe early 2023). Part of it depends on how many revisions both stories require, and the other part depends on how quickly I can save up money for edits and the cover.

The best way you can help me is to buy my books, rate and review them, and convince others to buy them. I save about $170 a month to go to the Weech dream, and about $115 of that goes to marketing. While that’s going better, it’s not where it needs to be. Without sales to bolster my saving, it’ll be slow going to get product out because I need to save for two rounds of edits and a cover for each project. I truly hope you’ll consider helping in this way, but even if you just buy and read my work, you’re wonderful.

For those of you who follow this blog and already read my work, I just can’t express what your support means to me. You’ve helped me keep publishing books for six years now, and there’s now way I could do this without you. I’m not a best seller; I don’t even make a profit from month to month. But I lose less money every year! I just keep moving forward, and having those few of you who support me means everything. I get emails, and you offer to Alpha and Beta read for me. It’s just overwhelmingly touching. Thank you.

So it’s off to work on The 1,200. Until then …

Thanks for reading (always),

Matt

Book Review: Demon Slayer Volume 23 by Koyoharu Gotouge

Book Review: Demon Slayer Volume 23 by Koyoharu Gotouge
This cover image was taken from the manga’s buy page on Amazon for review purposes under fair use doctrine.

Spoiler Free Summary: Demon Slayer Volume 23 by Koyoharu Gotouge is the twenty-third and final volume in the Demon Slayer manga. Even as the battle reaches its bitter-sweet conclusion Muzan Kibutsuji deals a blow that may mean the end for everyone. The demon hunters must set their feelings aside to take on one of their own. Can such a horrible turn of events ever lead to a happy ending?

Character: Tanjiro shines here in his determination and love, which this manga had established from the first volume. This conclusion brings everything perfectly together, and it’s Tanjiro’s heart, not his swordsmanship, that drives this story.

Exposition: I was a bit surprised here that the volume slowed down for me. The exposition here wasn’t anywhere near bad, but there were some parts that bogged the pace down. I think I noticed it more because I wanted to see how things progressed, and I felt like there were these periodic pauses that tripped me up here and there. It’s not anything crippling, but it’s there.

Worldbuilding: I don’t know how often worldbuilding plays a role in foreshadowing, but this series pulled off a wonderful plot reveal that was satisfying. From the beginning, we see something special, and that element turns out to be so very important as the story comes to a conclusion. Another element, the one that most manga of this style (Naruto/Bleach), would normally be the difference maker. We see Tanjiro’s skill develop, and like those other stories, we naturally assume that development would make the difference. That assumption is wrong.

Dialogue: From Volume 2 to Volume 23, the dialogue is more or less the same. There were several conversation and expositional (or thought) boxes that harken to older genre’s, but they’re not so many that they drag the story down. I found them mostly charming through the series, but the trend got a bit annoying in this specific volume.

Description: The panels aren’t as cinematic as the others, and some would think that means this volume is less impactful. However, I feel the opposite is true. This volume focuses so much more on character. While that means we don’t see as many epically awesome fight moves, we get much more satisfying emotional validation and closure.

Overall: As I thought about this final thought, I decided this: Demon Slayer is officially my favorite manga series ever. It’s predecessors (Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, and Bleach) were all wonderful, but Demon Slayer gets right what those other series got wrong. Those other series focused on length, but they inevitably ran into repetition issues that where meme worthy. Sure, it’s nice to have another volume to read. Yes, I still thought those series were fun to watch, but they dragged on and on. Demon Slayer is a concise, character-driven story that grabs readers by the neck and drags them along for 23 volumes until we see what might also be the most satisfying resolution I’ve ever read in a manga. That’s my opinion. I’m not saying the other sagas weren’t good, I’m just saying this saga (possibly learning from those others) is even better because I get my big fight and I get my conclusion without having to read 60 volumes (or watch 100 filler episodes) that are basically the same thing. If you haven’t started it, you should. It’s truly wonderful.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: Demon Slayer Volume 22 by Koyoharu Gotouge

Book Review: Demon Slayer Volume 22 by Koyoharu Gotouge

Spoiler Free Summary: Demon Slayer Volume 22 by Koyoharu Gotouge is the twenty-second and penultimate volume in the Demon Slayer manga. Everyone who has an ounce of energy is doing their all against Muzan Kibutsuji, but many have already died, and most of the rest are inches from death. Tanjiro is somehow still standing, and a connection to his ancestor may provide the key to finding some way to win.

Character: The pace of the last three manga make this a hard thing to evaluate. I don’t know that the characters evolve so much as fill their potential. It’s satisfying to see everyone come into their own, but here at the climax, the focus is on winning the fight. There is development, but it’s more relevant in a different section.

Exposition: This volume follows the same pattern as the issue before (and the one that follows). Everything has come to a head. We might get a pice of information here or there to set a bit of context, but that’s it. When evaluating exposition, the best way to do it is to ask yourself if the story is moving or if you’re getting an information dump. Another way to evaluate it (especially as a reader) is to see if you’re turning the pages quickly or slowly. Slow page turning usually means focused reading. These pages flew by.

Worldbuilding: This is where the pieces of Tanjiro’s ancestry come together. The complete picture isn’t as satisfying as say, the plot reveal in a great mystery, but it still establishes how things have been building and what they’ve been building to. So while it’s not the most satisfying revelation, it’s still a cool connection of the plot elements we’ve seen for the last eight or so issues.

Dialogue: This falls back to the more normal style Gotouge uses. There’s a lot of, “Why aren’t you dead! I’ll kill you all!” If one were to say it was the weakest area of the story, I wouldn’t argue, but I also wouldn’t really care.

Description: The best storytellers create the illusion of failure. Most stories have the happy ending. Most stories have everything work out. Readers (and viewers) expect this, so it’s extremely hard to get the reader to think, “Wait, are they going to lose?” This volume leaves one more with a feeling of “Holy crap! They’re going to lose!” Maybe they do; you’ll have to read to find out. The point isn’t whether they win or lose; it’s making the reader wonder. Creating doubt in the reader is essential, and it’s that much more critical in anime. These comments are appropriate in this section because we see how the fight is going. The art shows just how bad things are. Everyone is holding on by a threat. Tanjiro himself already looks like a dead man walking. These fight sequences and the brief glimpses we have of the currently surviving cast members all create a heart-wrenching tension, and that’s what makes this particular manga stand out.

Overall: If I were teaching a class on plot progression, conflict, and making readers worry for the main characters, this volume would be a critical case study. Everything in this volume is critically balanced on a precipice between victory and defeat. It’s truly compelling. I’m honestly sad that the review for the last volume is next week. This is the volume that I had to wait for, and I had to wait a whole month for the next volume. It was torture! Don’t do it to yourself. Just grab the last ten volumes, sit down, and enjoy!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: Demon Slayer Volume 21 by Koyoharu Gotouge

Book Review: Demon Slayer Volume 21 by Koyoharu Gotouge

Spoiler Free Summary: Demon Slayer Volume 21 by Koyoharu Gotouge is the twenty-first volume in the Demon Slayer manga. The battle with Kokushibo, the number one upper rank demon, is over, but what was the cost? As Tanjiro and his friends finally reach Muzan, they’ve already lost so many of their number. How will th final battle go?

Character: This is less about characters developing than it is about character sympathy (which is important). These victories are tallying casualties at an alarming rate, and then Muzan steps onto the stage. This is the devastation that that hides the sun behind the clouds, and some of the losses are heartbreaking, even if those losses relate to side characters.

Exposition: There’s not much in the way of Exposition here. This volume is honestly more like a series of punches to the gut that make you wonder if you’re ever going to breathe again. Sure, there’s probably an explanatory box here or there, but most of what’s going in is related to the oncoming climax.

Worldbuilding: A common theme in anime is that one must establish power levels. We do that by letting characters fight. This guy beats one guy, but then loses to another, creating an unofficial tier system. We’ve seen the upper ranks and how hard they are to beat. Muzan’s entrance to the battle shows just how far he was above the upper twelve. This aspect of the worldbuilding provides a brutal blow to the heroes’ hopes of victory.

Dialogue: Where most of the dialogue for the series is cartoonish in a charming way, this dialogue is both more heart-wrenching and heart-warming. Gotouge is a master guitarist, plucking the strings of your heart, and where dialogue is usually his weakest area, here it is the hammer he uses to crush your spirits.

Description: Just as the winners and losers of fights in a manga establish a power hierarchy, the artistic rendering of those battles (or massacres) is devastatingly beautiful. These images are par for the course of Gotouge’s work, which is to say they’re miles above the rest of the mangas out there today. True, there’s a certain amount of expected gore, but this isn’t the only tool Gotouge relies on. Instead, his style is just as visual for the details of a face or look as it is for the gruesome reality of war.

Overall: So I’ve been saying for a while that one should just read volumes eighteen to the end all the way through, and I hope you heeded that advice. However, if you haven’t yet done so, I caution you not to read Volume 21 without volumes 22 and 23 handy. From a literary perspective, one could say 21 and 22 are cliffhangers that would drive anyone nuts waiting a month to have. This isn’t the volume that one finishes and finds closure in. This is the volume that takes your hopes for the series and stomps on them for forty pages. Read with caution, or have the other volumes ready so you don’t have suddenly buy them when you finish reading this one.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: Demon Slayer Volume 20 by Koyoharu Gotouge

Book Review: Demon Slayer Volume 20 by Koyoharu Gotouge

Spoiler Free Summary: Demon Slayer Volume 20 by Koyoharu Gotouge is the twentieth volume in the Demon Slayer manga. The battle with Kokushibo, the number one upper rank demon, has left Tokito and Genya critically injured, Himejima and Sanemi have shown up to help with the fight, but even then, Kokushibo seems too strong. Can one of the Hashira unlock a power capable of snatching victory from the claws of defeat?

Character: We do get to learn more about the Hashira in their battle. The growth is nice amid the action sequences. We don’t get overly deep, but we still clearly see their motivating moments. The way Gotogue weaves content and character into fights without dragging a story down is masterful, and this volume probably best illustration of that mastery.

Exposition: Similar to the last volume (and the remaining three), the bulk of the exposition is provided via dialogue. That’s still dialogue (if half-hidden). However, this technique reduces drag that might otherwise be caused by flashbacks or dialogue panels.

Worldbuilding: There’s not much in the way of wolrdbuilding here. There are a few tidbits that cause the typical power increase that comes whenever characters reveal new abilities, but that’s something one should expect (if not anticipate). Still, this volumes are more about action sequences than story content.

Dialogue: There’s a touching moment here delivered by dialogue that really makes this volume powerful. The majority of it is the same as always. I just want to be clear, these few lines of dialect are some of the most powerful in the whole series, and it connects two lesser characters in a powerful way.

Description: This fight is really just more artistic awesomeness at heart. The artwork really brings out the beauty of the fight scenes, and I can’t wait to see it animated.

Overall: This volume is a better blend of action and character growth, and that makes it one of the better volumes in the series (which is saying something). This fight started out as something that frustrated me. To think the number one upper rank demon is an undercard is discouraging, but then I saw the fight play out and I realize it sets the stage for the bigger fight to come.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: Demon Slayer Volume 19 by Koyoharu Gotouge

Book Review: Demon Slayer Volume 19 by Koyoharu Gotouge

Spoiler Free Summary: Demon Slayer Volume 19 by Koyoharu Gotouge is the nineteenth volume in the Demon Slayer manga. Kanao must take over the fight against Doma even after witnessing something horrible. Iguro and Kanroji have to take on the upper rank who’s shifting the rooms of Infinity Castle. Tokito, Sanemi and Genya find themselves against the number one upper rank demon, who recognizes Tokito.

Character: As the fighting grows more intense, we see a bit less character development and more what I would call character fulfillment, in which characters are starting to come into their own in a satisfying, climactic way. However, these secrets unfold during the fights. It makes the fights more satisfying. The brothers however (wind Hashira and his brother) have a wonderful moment of growth.

Exposition: The exposition we get in this volume is more from dialogue, where we get some reveals that I admit are less satisfying and surprising because they overdid the setup in previous issues. However, while not as rewarding as they could have been, it doesn’t drag the pace down.

Worldbuilding: We actually get several little details that advance the magic system of this world. They don’t come in the form of one epic move. Instead they come in small bites that give the fights pleasant little bursts of awesomeness.

Dialogue: As mentioned above, there is some pretty obvious expositional dialogue, but it’s not distracting. Most of the other dialogue is the usual “I’ll beat you yet, Gadget!”

Description: I’ve been super excited to see the number one upper rank in action, and the volume doesn’t disappoint. The way these powers and abilities are illustrated just look awesome.

Overall: So while this volume as a whole may not be as satisfying in the sense of plot reveal and character growth, it makes up for it by being so full of incredible action and drama. That’s not to say that there isn’t some great emotional moments either. For me though, this volume is all about cool fight scenes.

Thanks for reading,

Matt