Tag Archives: Reading

The Mermaids Singing by Val McDermid

Image Description: book-cover of the Auido-book format of The Mermaids Singing by Val McDermid. The title text and the author text (in white) take up most of the cover, the cover has a yellow sepia-tint to it, but I think it's a picture of farm-yard or pasture with a delapidated brick building in it.
Title: The Mermaids Singing (Book #1 of the Tony Hill and Carol Jordan Series)
Author: Val McDermid
Social Media: Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter
Publisher: Whole Story Audiobooks
Format and Price: Audiobook at $14.95
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

About The Author:
Val McDermid is a No. 1 bestseller whose novels have been translated into more than thirty languages, and have sold over eleven million copies. She has won many awards internationally, including the CWA Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year and the LA Times Book of the Year Award. She was inducted into the ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards Hall of Fame in 2009 and was the recipient of the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger for 2010. In 2011 she received the Lambda Literary Foundation Pioneer Award. She writes full-time and divides her time between Cheshire and Edinburgh.

About The Book:
You always remember the first time. Isn’t that what they say about sex? How much more true it is of murder…Up till now, the only serial killers Tony Hill had encountered were safely behind bars. This one’s different – this one’s on the loose.Four men have been found mutilated and tortured. As fear grips the city, the police turn to clinical psychologist Tony Hill for a profile of the killer. But soon Tony becomes the unsuspecting target in a battle of wits and wills where he has to use every ounce of his professional nerve to survive.A tense, beautifully written psychological thriller, The Mermaids Singing explores the tormented mind of a serial killer unlike any the world of fiction has ever seen.

General Observations:
~The Sliding Scale of Plot VS Character: The novel actually manages to have a great mixture of Plot and Character, although, I personal feel it does fall towards the Character end of the spectrum. Due to the nature of Dr Tony Hill’s work, the reader does spend a lot of time inside psychologist’s head. but I found this interesting and engaging.

I really enjoyed the dual perspective of Dr Tony Hill and Inspector Carol Jordan, they work well together and bounce off each others strengths and weaknesses, however, I wish the novel didn’t dwell so much on the Unresolved Sexual Tension between them. I hope the 2nd book doesn’t focus on this as much, but I suspect this will be a long-standing feature of the series.

~Time Marches On: Most of the book centers around moving towards new methods or technology like computers and psychological profiles, and away from old problematic methods the police force have become accustomed to using, however, this book was published in 1995, and I found it rather jarring to read about “cutting edge technology” that involved CD-ROM drives and saving documents to floppy disks. In fact, it made me laugh a little bit, okay fine, I laughed a lot.

~Problematic Elements: The book gave me the impression that labels such as transgender and transsexual either mean the same thing or are interchangeable, but from the small amount of research I’ve done, these labels are not interchangeable (for more information on labels, here’s a link). This could just be a combination of language changing over time and me looking too much into it, however, I feel it’s better to mention this kind of stuff up front, that way it doesn’t creep up on people unexpectedly.

While I don’t want to spoil the ending, I’m also unsure about the Villain in question, there are parts me that think it’s great. There’s clearly been a lot of thought put into it and it’s a great plot twist, but there’s also a part of me that finds it questionable. If you’ve read the book, let me know in the comments section below what you think.

In conclusion, a good first book into a series, engaging female main-character, and the plot is gripping and interesting, however, I recommend the paperback format over the audio-book, the voice-actor was okay, but I suspect the voice actor might not work for everyone.

Available for Purchase: Amazon | Audible | Book Depository | Kobo Books

Monthly Forecast: October 2017

Image Description: a picture of cherry-blossom tree. It's a close-up picture of the branches so that you can see numerous tiny bright-pink flowers blossoming all along the branches.

In the Southern Hemisphere, October is the time of Spring, hence the flowers (no, I am not bitter how purely American things such as pumpkin spice lattes are dominating social media, what makes you think that?). For this month, my October Reading List is more spooky themed than floral themed, however, I have made sure to include some Australian Women Writers in this list (I’m doing a terrible job on the AWWC this year, oh well *shrugs*).

Australian Women Writer’s Challenge:
Image Description: book cover of The Last Necromancer by C.J. Archer. The background has a large stone cross and a graveyard. The foreground is a close-up picture of the back of a pale-skinned brunette woman wearing a black Victorian-style bodice dress, around her wrist is a latern with a skull inside it, the eyes of the skulls are green and glowing. There is a green tint across the cover.
~The Last Necromancer by C.J. Archer (The Ministry of Curiousity #1)
Available for Purchase: Amazon | Audible | Book Depository | Kobo Books

Image Description: book-cover of Paper Dolls by Anya Allyn. The cover image is colour scheme is dark-tinted, it features a pale-skinned young lady with blonde hair, she's wearing a black dress with white polka-dots, and she's sitting on a carousel-style blue horse.
~Paper Dolls by Anya Allyn (Dark Carousel #2)
Available for Purchase: Amazon

RMFAO Genre Challenge – Horror:
Image Description: book cover of Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake. In the foreground, a pale-skinned brunette young lady is extending out her hand towards the viewer. In the background is a mountainous landscape with a break in the ground, just before the young lady's feet, from within the large crack in the landscape is lava and red spirits coming out of the crack.
~Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake (Anna #2)
Available for Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Kobo Books

Image Description: book cover of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. The cover is in black and white and the main image is of a small pale-skinned girl wearing a fancy head-piece and a fancy party dress, she appears to be hovering above the ground.
~Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children #1)
Available for Purchase: Amazon | Audible | Book Depository | Kobo Books

Diverse Books Reading Challenge – Intersection:
Image Description: book cover of Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova. The cover has a purple tint across entire cover, in the background is a golden gate with a skulls design within the entrance doors of the gate. In front of the gate is the silhouette a female figure, the female figure is standing in front of the gate with her back to the viewer.
~Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova (Brooklyn Brujas #1)
Available for Purchase: Amazon | Audible | Book Depository | Kobo Books

Image Description: book cover of Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde. The cover image consists of a close-up shot of the back of someone's head, displaying cascading bright-pink hair with the title and author text displayed ontop of the hair.
~Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde
Available for Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Kobo Books

I don’t have high hopes of reading most these books on the list, especially since October and November tend to be my busier months at work. I hoping to get some of these books knock-off my TBR pile via The Reading Quest, which was a great idea, but a massive failure on my part. In all honestly, I should have read most of these before now, so while I have my doubts, I’m going to give it a go anyway.

Image Description: a participation banner for NaNoWriMo 2017. The banner is turquoise-blue with white text, in the centre of the banner is two over-crossed pens and four stars surrounding the pens.
October is also the month of NaNoWriMo Preparation. I’ll be participating in NaNoWriMo this year, I’ll be working on Orion – Volume II of the Pushing Boundaries, which means I’ll need to finish the Outline before the end of October, the Outline I’ve been trying to finish for months now. I have a special notebook put aside just for working on Pushing Boundaries stuff.
Image Description: a notebook with a light-blue and dark-blue colour-scheme. The cover consists of a start-chart of the Northern Hemisphere constellations with a black band of elastic around the edge of the notebook to keep it closed.

So yeah, what you’re reading and what you’re plans are for October? Are you thinking of getting involved with NaNoWriMo? What project are you going to work on? Let me know in the comments section down below :).

You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson


Image Description: book cover of You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson. The cover mostly consists of robin’s egg blue background, with title text and author text up the top of the book, in the foreground is a close-up head-shot of Phoebe Robinson with a serious expression on her face. Her hair is styled in a short-bob style two-toned afro that curls around her face.

Title: You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain
Author: Phoebe Robinson
Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads
Publisher and Format: eBook from Plume
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

About the Author:
PHOEBE ROBINSON is a stand-up comedian, writer, and actress whom Vulture.com, Essence, and Esquire have named one of the top comedians to watch. She has appeared on NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers and Last Call with Carson Daly; TBS’s Conan, Comedy Central’s Broad City, and @midnight with Chris Hardwick; as well recently landing a recurring role on the new Jill Soloway show for Amazon I Love Dick.
Robinson’s writing has been featured in The Village Voice, NY Mag, and on Glamour.com, TheDailyBeast.com, VanityFair.com, Vulture.com, and NYTimes.com. She was also a staff writer on MTV’s hit talking head show, Girl Code, as well as a consultant on season three of Broad City.
Most recently, she created and starred in Refinery29’s web series Woke Bae and, alongside Jessica Williams, formerly of The Daily Show, she is the creator and costar of the hit WNYC podcast 2 Dope Queens as well as the host of the critically-acclaimed WNYC podcast Sooo Many White Guys. Robinson is the author of the New York Times best-selling book, You Can’t Touch My Hair and Other Things I Still Have to Explain, a collection of essays about race, gender, and pop culture. Robinson lives and performs stand-up in Brooklyn, NY, and is busy planning her upcoming nuptials to Michael Fassbender.

About the Book:
Being a black woman in America means contending with old prejudices and fresh absurdities every day. Comedian Phoebe Robinson has experienced her fair share over the years: she’s been unceremoniously relegated to the role of “the black friend,” as if she is somehow the authority on all things racial; she’s been questioned about her love of U2 and Billy Joel (“isn’t that . . . white people music?”); she’s been called “uppity” for having an opinion in the workplace; she’s been followed around stores by security guards; and yes, people do ask her whether they can touch her hair all. the. time. Now, she’s ready to take these topics to the page—and she’s going to make you laugh as she’s doing it.
Using her trademark wit alongside pop-culture references galore, Robinson explores everything from why Lisa Bonet is “Queen. Bae. Jesus,” to breaking down the terrible nature of casting calls, to giving her less-than-traditional advice to the future female president, and demanding that the NFL clean up its act, all told in the same conversational voice that launched her podcast, 2 Dope Queens, to the top spot on iTunes. As personal as it is political, You Can’t Touch My Hair examines our cultural climate and skewers our biases with humour and heart, announcing Robinson as a writer on the rise.

General Observation:
~Diverse Books Reading Challenge: While this novel does address a specific category of racism and microaggressions, the experiences of woman of colour who lives in New York and works as an actress/comedian, it is important that non-white people get the opportunity to share their experiences.
It’s also important for white people to recognise that racism and microaggressions can occur in multiple ways. It not always racial slurs, sometimes it’s white people pretending not to notice that you’ve been standing at the register for fifteen minutes or following you around the store to make sure you’re not shop-lifting.

~Exactly What It Says On The Tin: Phoebe Robinson explains thoroughly why you can’t touch her hair and other racial things people should know by now. Phoebe Robinson goes into detail the complicated relationship people of colour, and especially women of colour, have with their hair. That the choice to have natural hair could be a difficult decision with far reaching consequences.
While I was aware of the racial double-standards that can occur regarding people of colour and their hair, I hadn’t realised just how much time, money, and effort went into maintaining a “passable” or “acceptable” Level of hair presentation. I especially enjoyed the “The History of Hair” chapter.

~Let Me Entertain You: While the novel does dedicate a lot of space to racism in America, it’s not the only thing Phoebe Robinson talks about. My favourite chapters are the series of letters that Phoebe Robinson writes to her niece Olivia, which is kind of a funny coincidence as I also have a niece named Olivia, and I found some of the pearls of wisdom Phoebe Robinson wished to bestow upon her niece amusing and relatable.

In conclusion, due to the racial tensions currently occurring in the United States of America, I can’t help but feel that while this book is funny and engaging, it is also depressingly relevant. To be honest, a lot of the topics covered in the novel seemed obvious to me, but the fact that Phoebe Robinson felt the need to write an entire novel dedicated to these topics prove that it’s not obvious to everyone.

Available For Purchase: Amazon | Audible | Book Depository | Kobo Books

Image Description: a button image displaying text that reads RMFAO 2017 Genre Challenge

PSA For Indie Authors – Part 3: Genres and Cover-art

Image Description: a picture of a wooden table with (from left to right in a clock-wise circle) a piece of paper, a pair of thick-framed black glasses, a pine cone, a dusty green-leather bound book, a green vintage type-writer, an open blank notebook, a wooden stick, a small tan-coloured rectangle with black writing on it and an empty glass ink-well.
This post is about self-promotion and marketing for Beginner Writers who want to write Genre Fiction or Genre novels, so if that doesn’t appeal to you, fair enough, feel free to pass on this post. This post will be covering basic tips and advice so this post may come across as stating the obvious, however, we all have to start somewhere.

I would recommend watching these YouTube Videos by Jenna Moreci
~How to Choose a Genre for your Book
~Marketing Basics for Writers
~Skills You Never Thought You’d Need as a Writer

I think one of the most important elements of writing is figuring out what type of book you’re writing, as the genre of your book will determine a lot about what type of book-marketing you’ll be engaging in, and which agents and/or publishers you plan to pitch to. Like Publishing houses, Literary Agents will usually have submission guidelines on available on their websites, so you should check those out first before you contact them.

One of the things that Literary Agents advise is to investigate the genre of books an Author is writing in. This is where the advice “read widely within your genre” comes into play, you need to read the good and bad books within your genre, and you need to be informed of the visual art-style that is associated with your genre.

For example: My Work-In-Progress novel series Pushing Boundaries comes under a hybrid category of Genre, it fits into the Contemporary Crime genre, so lets break those categories down and have a look at what type of Cover-art Style is involved in the Crime, Mystery and Contemporary genres.

~Goodreads: Crime

~Goodreads: Mystery

~Goodreads: Contemporary

When you examine certain genres, especially Crime and Mystery together, there’s a distinct trend of book-cover art displayed on the most popular novels. For example:

Crime:
~a vague silhouette of a person, usually from a distance
~empty wide-shot landscape pictures with One Point Perspective
~Large, bold, and brightly coloured book-title and author title
~if a woman is on the front cover, it is displaying the back of her head.

Mystery:
~There’s a lot of overlap between Crime and Mystery, but Mystery covers tend to be more colourful in design, Crime tends to be a dark/bland cover with colourful text displayed on it to act as contrast.
~Partially obscured faces
~if a woman is on the front cover, it is displaying the back of her head.

Contemporary:
~There’s strong and liberal use of colours to make the covers pop-out, the cover and title text are usually bright contrasting colours
~Models on covers are predominately female-coded or a cishet-coded male and female couple.
~if a woman is on the front cover, it is displaying the back of her head.
~The predominate sub-genre of Contemporary is Young Adult, so the use of live models on covers are of 14-18 age-group.

Personally, I dislike the popular book-cover designs of Crime and Mystery, I think the Contemporary covers are much more eye-catching and engaging. In saying that, I have no idea what to make in the rising trend of displaying the back of a woman’s head, I have no idea how that could possibly convey to the reader what that particular book is about. I can only presume that The Cuckoo’s Calling, The Goddesses, and Everything We Keep are all very different books.

Now, it could be argued that best-selling authors like Chris Brookmyre and James Patterson can get away with unappealing book covers involving shadowy silhouettes, people are going to buy their books regardless, unfortunately not all aspiring writers will achieve James Patterson-level of success, so I would recommend putting some effort into the thought-process behind what the book cover should look like.

I’ll use my book-cover for Canis Major as a case-study (Kim made this for me, aren’t they amazing? Of course they’re amazing! You should check out their stuff).

Image Description: book cover of Canis Major - Volume I of the Pushing Boundaries series. The cover is picture of the constellation of Canis Major, as depicted in the Southern Hemisphere (the nose of Canis Major is positioned in a downward direction).

Canis Major:
~Point One: The design is a simple black and white colour scheme, easy for the reader to look at and comprehend

~Point Two: I’ve chosen the constellation of Canis Major (the Great Dog) for multiple reasons. Constellations are seasonal, so the constellation of Canis Major will look different in Southern Hemisphere countries, like Australia, than in comparison to Northern Hemisphere countries like the UK.

~Point Three: James, one of the main characters of my novel, has a special interest in Astronomy, he shares this special interest with his step-father Robert, it’s a bonding thing they have.

~Point Four: Another reason for the choice of Canis Major is because a big inspiration for writing this book was to address a lot of the problems and objections I had with the novel The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Night-time by Mark Haddon (here’s a review by Disability in Kidlit that goes into why this book is super problematic).

~Point Five: The theme of Constellations as book-cover art will apply to all the books in the Pushing Boundaries series, Volume II will be Orion (the constellation of Orion is right next to the constellation Canis Major) and Volume III will be Scorpius. I plan for Pushing Boundaries to be a trilogy but I’m aware that every time an Author declares their project a trilogy, it somehow turns into a trilogy of four.

~Point Six: My novel is a Contemporary Crime novel, so just like with a crime, you have to put together all the small points in order to see the bigger picture. See? It’s Deep and Meaningful.

Here’s the thing though, while I think this cover is great and it’s exactly what I wanted, is this particular book-cover design marketable? It’s generally recommended that authors get feedback from their target audience, which was something I didn’t do. Another element to consider is that, while I think Kim did a great job, I do need to acknowledge that Kim doesn’t specialise in Graphic Design, and that it’s generally recommended to authors that they hire a professional (here’s a list of book cover designers via The Creative Penn).

So, authors need to figure out what their genre is and research what books within that particular genre look like, however, just because a visual idea is popular within a particular genre, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s good. Get some feed-back from your target audience and be willing to shell out some money for a professional book-cover designer.

If you’re an indie-author and you’ve got a .jpeg of a book cover, drop a link to the book-cover image in the comments section below and we can have a chat about the pros and cons of visual design.

Links:
~9 Tips to Building the Book Cover Design You Always Wanted by Jane Friedman

Want You Gone by Christopher Brookmyre

Image Description: book cover of Want You Gone by Christopher Brookmyre. The book-cover depicts a shadowy silhouette in the mid-background standing on a long concrete driveway/runway, behind the shadowy silhouette is a CBD landscape (lots of differently shaped buildings). The cover looks like it was a photo taken from the passenger seat of a car. The cover also has a blue tint over the whole cover with the title of the book in yellow text and white text for the author title.
Title: Want You Gone (Book #8 of the Jack Parlabane Series)
Author: Christopher Brookmyre
Social Media: Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter
Publisher: Whole Story Audiobooks
Format and Price: Audiobook at $14.95
Rating: 4 out of 5

About The Author:
Christopher Brookmyre is a Scottish novelist whose novels mix politics, social comment and action with a strong narrative. He has been referred to as a Tartan Noir author. His debut novel was Quite Ugly One Morning, and subsequent works have included One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night, which he said “was just the sort of book he needed to write before he turned 30”, and All Fun and Games until Somebody Loses an Eye (2005).

About The Book:
Sam Morpeth is growing up way too fast, left to fend for a younger sister with learning difficulties when their mother goes to prison and watching her dreams of university evaporate. But Sam learns what it is to be truly powerless when a stranger begins to blackmail her online, drawing her into a trap she may not escape alive.
Meanwhile, reporter Jack Parlabane has finally got his career back on track, but his success has left him indebted to a volatile source on the wrong side of the law. Now that debt is being called in, and it could cost him everything. Thrown together by a mutual enemy, Sam and Jack are about to discover they have more in common than they realise – and might be each other’s only hope.

General Observations:
~Engaging Plot: The plot is excellent, the pacing is brilliant, and the chapters are revealing enough but not too much. Those last few chapters with Sam and Jack separating had me enthralled, I just had to how they resolved the issue and what happened next.

~Dual Narration: This audio-book has two narrators, a female voice-actor for chapters from Sam’s point of view and a male voice-actor for chapters from Jack’s point of view, I felt that the two voice-actors working together captured the two distinct characters view-points and worked well together.

~Character Development: Sam is a character who spends a lot of time inside her own head,
chapters exploring her character could have been boring, but the interesting thing about Sam is that how she is online is very different to her IRL experience, something Sam has a keen awareness of. It’s great to see such a young woman of colour presented as flawed but relatable dealing with realistic problems and under goes a huge amount of positive character development. I don’t want to spoil too much but Sam definitely earns her happy ending.

By contrast, it’s kind of enjoyable to see a character like Jack brought down to normal, one of the joys of Adulthood is the level of freedom an adult has, and it’s good that Jack is reminded over the course of the novel that freedom may be a right, but it’s also a privilege. I really enjoyed Jack’s partnership with Sam, they fed off each other’s strengths and (once they put their egos and personal feelings aside) they worked well together and were engaging to read.

~Problematic Elements – Bullying: Through out the novel, Sam is regularly bullied by a group of girls, predominately the leader of the pack which is Keisha. After a bad bullying session, Sam gets revenge on Keisha, which results in an incident of major public humiliation for Keisha, this results in Keisha making a suicide attempt and ends up hospitalised.

When Sam finds out what Keisha has done because of her actions, Sam feels bad about it (because she’s not a terrible person), Sam feels remorseful for her actions. But Keisha is never really held accountable for her shitty behaviour. What Sam did was not okay and definitely unacceptable behaviour, but it’s presented in an unequal manner, the character resolution between Sam and Keisha is a False Equivalence.

I had planned to do a YouTube Video about this particular problematic element of the book, so I’m not going to go into too much detail here, but I disliked how the situation was resolved between Keisha and Sam, and I’ll leave it at that.

All in all, a contemporary crime novel solved by combining hacking skills and investigative journalism, the plot is intriguing and has good development, and if it wasn’t for the problematic bullying issues, I’d have given this five stars.

Available For Purchase: Amazon | Audible| Book Depository | Kobo Books

Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin


Title: Knots and Crosses (Book #1 of the Inspector Rebus Series)
Author: Ian Rankin
Social Media: Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group Limited
Format and Price: Audiobook at $14.95
Rating: 4 out of 5

About The Author:
Born in the Kingdom of Fife in 1960, Ian Rankin graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1982 and then spent three years writing novels when he was supposed to be working towards a PhD in Scottish Literature. His first Rebus novel was published in 1987; the Rebus books are now translated into 22 languages and are bestsellers on several continents. He recently received the OBE for services to literature, and opted to receive the prize in his home city of Edinburgh, where he lives with his partner and two sons.

About The Book:
Detective John Rebus: His city is being terrorized by a baffling series of murders…and he’s tied to a maniac by an invisible knot of blood. Once John Rebus served in Britain’s elite SAS. Now he’s an Edinburgh cop who hides from his memories, misses promotions and ignores a series of crank letters. But as the ghoulish killings mount and the tabloid headlines scream, Rebus cannot stop the feverish shrieks from within his own mind. Because he isn’t just one cop trying to catch a killer, he’s the man who’s got all the pieces to the puzzle…

General Observation:
~Two Lines, No Waiting: There are two main plots going on this novel: the first one is the missing persons/murder case and the second plot is the drug trade operation that Rebus’s brother is involved in. From the beginning, the two plots don’t seem related at all, but as the novel progresses, the reader discovers just how interconnected these two plots are.
The plotting in general is phenomenal, all of the flashbacks and things mentioned link back to each other. In saying that, I do feel as though Rebus’s confusion and hesitation to seek out a hypnotist in the first place was a little drawn out, it could have been sped up a little.

~Multiple Points of View: Ian Rankin, while excellent at plot, is very character-orientated and If there is one detraction from this novel is that there are so many points of view. Some of them are necessary to further the plot, but some of the alternative points of view (like the reporter) helped to slow down the pace of the plot, rather than make the story more complicated and interesting, however, I’m willing to recognise that this could just be me. Maybe the reporter character has more relevance in later books.

~A Product of It’s Time: While it’s pretty clear early on that Inspector John Rebus is suffering from PTSD, the reader isn’t privy to all the details at first, but over the course of the novel, the PTSD and Dissociation that Rebus has been experiencing is explained (let’s just say, shit gets dark very quickly).
Nowadays, there are rules and procedures put in place to prevent this sort of situation from occurring. People in Rebus’s line of work (including social workers and nurses) would be given regular psyche evaluations and regular therapy sessions to manage PTSD (or at least this is the case in Australia).

All in all, it has a great plot, combined with an in-depth look at an interesting main-character, which has resulted in a great start to an interesting Scottish Crime series, I’m looking forward to Hide and Seek, the second book in the series.

Trigger Warnings: This book contains scenes I would describe as torture and military violence, as two characters are treated like Prisoners of War in a Terrorist Camp, the actions in those scenes are described in graphic detail.

Available For Purchase: Amazon | Audible | Book Depository | Kobo Books

Bleach – Volume 1 by Tite Kubo

Image Description: the book-cover of Bleach Volume 1 by Tite Kubo. The cover is a mostly white background with an adolescent male with orange hair wearing a black robe and pulling a sword out of a sheath.
Title: Bleach – Volume 1
Author: Tite Kubo
Social Media: Goodreads and Twitter
Publisher: Viz Media
Format and Price: Paperback at $10.56
Rating: 4 out of 5

About The Author:
Tite Kubo, the son of a town council member in Fuchu, Aki District, Hiroshima. He never took drawing seriously until he was 17; after reading Dragon Ball he knew he wanted to be a manga artist. At the age of 18 he submitted his first concept for the series Zombiepowder but it got rejected. Zombiepowder was rejected multiple times until Kubo was 22, when it finally was accepted by Shonen Jump. It did not last long; it was cancelled after four volumes in late 2000. His next series, Bleach, about a high school student who becomes a shinigami and fights hollows, was not such a failure. Bleach began regular publication in 2001. It has been running in Weekly Shonen Jump ever since.

About The Book:
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.

General Observations:
~Sliding Scale of Plot VS Character: The series Bleach is very Action orientated (lots of fight scenes) but the story itself is more Character orientated, when Tite Kubo focuses on specific characters, he does a great job, but the plot is slow. In fact, with Bleach, there are a lot of subtle hints and clues that a first-time reader might not necessarily pick up. There’s also a lot of back-story and character history that is only hinted at within the first three volumes, but it does get explained and does make sense.

~I Found This Humerus: While there are lots of good fight scenes (if that’s what you’re into), it’s the wide range of humour that I enjoy the most about this series. As the series progresses, it does get Darker and Edgier, so the humour balances things out.

~Long Term Commitment: While I think highly of the Bleach Manga series, I did stop reading the series half-way through The Lost Agent Arc. This is for multiple reasons, the primary reason being Arc Fatigue and the fact that the reader in dumped right into the middle of a time-skip and I was introduced to a whole bunch of new characters (via an organization called “Xcution”) that I cared very little for (mind you, this is at least 50 volumes into a 74 Volume series). I’m going to attempt to read it from the beginning.

All in all, it’s a good action urban fantasy with a super intricate plot, and I am happy to recommend.

Available For Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Kobo Books

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