Extraordinary Days (Shaman King #30) ★★☆☆½

extraordinarydays (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission 
Title:
Extraordinary Days
Series: Shaman King #30
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 192
Format: Digital Copy

 

Synopsis:

Team Ren and Team Yoh are sitting in a hotsprings after recovering. Ren and Yoh start recapping everyone’s power and level. Hao shows up and Lyserg immediately attacks him. Hao shows them a new form of an oversoul in defense and everyone starts talking buddy buddy. Hao reveals that the final round of Shaman Fights will take place on the Lost Continent of Mu and that is why Mr Oyamada has shown up. Horohoro tells Hao that he’s nuts and Hao tells Horohoro to shutup or he’ll tell everyone who he likes.

Hao also reveals that the Patch won’t do anything about the battle fleet Mr Oyamada brought and it is up to the remaining Shamans to deal with them. It is also revealed that a former X-Law is helping Mr Oyamada and has brought some big shaman guns (figuratively speaking).

Everyone, friend and foe, gather on the beach to fight the battle group brought by Mr Oyamada. Hao begins the attack and pretty much singlehandedly takes all threats down. The renegade X-Law in Oyamada’s employ releases Azazel, the most powerful of Angels. Hao breaks Azazel and which destroys the X-Law. A shaman witch tries to stop Hao with voodoo and he returns the favor and kills her.

The Patch create a spirit submarine and all the shamans get on board to go to Mu. All the opposing Shaman Teams renounce their standing, giving Hao the win by default. Now Hao must commune with the great spirit and the Patch will defend him while he’s in this helpless state. The opposing teams say they’ll take the Patch down but only use it as training to eventually fight Hao.

Hao is taken to the ceremony and the others begin the journey to stop him. Silva, the Patch that initiated Yoh into the shaman fight is the first Patch they must fight to move onward. Yoh takes down Silva but 2 other Patch show up and tell the group that the Patch broke Silva to make him compliant and that the next 8 Patch are successively stronger. Ren realizing that they don’t have enough mana to resurrect anyone so this is a do or die situation.

The volume ends with a short story about how Yoh’s parents met.

 

My Thoughts:

The story is just getting messy. The manga-ka seems to pick up and discard ideas like a lint trap in a dryer. A huge fleet shows up in one volume, Hao takes it out in 3 pages. The 5 Warriors and the High Spirits are put forth and then just take a back seat. The whole feth’ing Shaman Fight, just ends because all the main characters decide so? Now the fights are going to be between the Patch and the good guy Shamans?

It feels like Takei is on drugs. Or he’s lost the thread he started on. Whatever the reason, I felt like a pinball while reading this. It was not enjoyable and while some of it may be me reading these one after another, I’m just annoyed. I shouldn’t be annoyed; the excitement should be building, the tension getting tighter. I shouldn’t want this “just to be over with”.

There was nothing particularly “wrong” with this volume, it was just everything coming together, or not as the case may be.

★★☆☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

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O Jerusalem! ★★★★½

ohjerusalem (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: O Jerusalem!
Series: ———-
Author: Larry Collins & Dominique Lapierre
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 745
Format: Paperback Edition

 

Synopsis:

A brief history of the events leading up to Britain’s departure from the Holy Land in 1948 and the war for survival that Israel then fought against 5 Arab countries.

Taken from newspapers, private journal entries, interviews, government documents, Collins and Lapierre weave a narrative of courage, horror, bravery, cowardice, ingenuity and turn what could have been a dry recounting by the numbers of the birth of a modern nation into something that had a face of its peoples.

 

My Thoughts:

My, my, what a good start to my first dedicated foray into non-fiction. I’d read this back in 2000 and just remembered that I’d really enjoyed it then. I thoroughly enjoyed it again.

I also enjoyed reading about events from both sides, both Israeli and Arab. Getting accounts from both sides allowed the authors to delve a lot deeper and to make connections that wouldn’t be possible without that knowledge. They also don’t fall into the trap of worshiping one side and demonizing the other.

That being said, they also don’t pull any punches. The Moslem Brotherhood is shown for the terrorist group it is. Anyone who watched the events of the Arab Spring in Egypt a couple of years ago will know their name. They’re as “moderate” as Hillary Clinton and President Obama. The authors also show how a splinter group of the Israeli military (the Stern Gang I think?) tried to pull a coup and caused the official army to have to fire on its own people, WHILE THE WAR WAS GOING ON.

It is amazing how politics played such a huge part. For all that the Arab leaders were talking publicly about wiping Israel off the face of the earth, privately they were dead set against such a war. But they wouldn’t keep their mouths shut and their people were ignorant savages and when you get that kind of combination, well, you get war.

There were very few footnotes or anything, but at the end of the book were almost 30 pages of sources and each chapter had its own little heading showing what sources were used to substantiate the chapter. Made me feel much better and that the authors weren’t pulling rabbits out of hats.

★★★★½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

The Shaman Fight Shakedown (Shaman King #29) ★★★☆½

shamanfightshakedown (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Shaman Fight Shakedown
Series: Shaman King #29
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 192
Format: Digital Copy

 

Synopsis:

Some guy on the beach gets a call from Mr Oyamada and he tells him that all of Hao’s minions on the beach, who were going to destroy them, have destroyed themselves. Oyamada makes it clear that he is after the Great Spirit itself, for all the power it contains.

We then flashback to the Oyamada minion taking down all of Hao’s minions with modern weaponry. He, and by extension, Mr Oyamada, don’t believe in souls and so the Shaman’s powers simply don’t work against him. A few of Hao’s minions survive and warn him of his minion’s demise. Hao simply shrugs, says he needs more mana and tells the survivors to sacrifice themselves so he can devour their souls.

Anna begins to fight Hao but Hao reveals his powered up (yet again) Oversoul and begins taunting Anna. If she can’t save herself, how is she supposed to save Hao’s minions, who might not even want to be saved? Yoh shows up and tells Hao that Anna is simply Anna.

Anna brings the minions back to their place and Yoh and Hao have coffee at a Patch coffee shop. Hao seems to revel in the fact that he’s destroying anyone to become stronger while Yoh acts like a stoner.

Mikihisa, Yoh’s dad, comes across the massacre on the beach and starts doing some kind of ceremony. Sati revives Lady Jeanne so that together they can resurrect the rest of their allies.

Yoh and Ren have a little talk and Ren shows that he thinks the only way to stop Hao is to kill him. Yoh doesn’t believe it is that simple and that Hao still has a heart. The next shaman fight is between Team Ren and Yoh’s team and they’re fighting for their belief in how to deal with Hao.

Horohoro and Ren immediately take out Faust and Ryu, so as to isolate Yoh. Yoh reveals his mana neutralizing powers and Ren answers with his own power of nature using lightning. Both sides are going all out but only Yoh is completely certain in his mind. Suddeny Lyserg appears and stops the fight and Sati pulls out all of her teams, thus ensuring that both Team Ren and Yoh advance.

The Asakura’s and the Tao’s get together to figure out how their collective families can taken down Hao and deal with whatever Mr Oyamada is trying to do.

Despite the shenanigans pulled by Sati and her Gandala teams, Team Ren makes it clear they are going to finish their fight against Yoh. Lyserg steps in to cover for Ryu and Faust. The fight WILL continue.

The volume ends with a shot of the ship owned by Mr Oyamada and something going overboard.

 

My Thoughts:

This was a really twisty, turny volume. The idea that non-shamans are getting involved ratchets this up even more but in a way that I fully support. It is different from the shamans just endlessly powering up and pulling new powers out of their butts.

In the last review I was talking about how I missed Manta and in this volume, he plays a very small part but it is extremely pertinent. He’s asking himself why he is even there. I’m really hoping that his friendship with Yoh will be one of the deciding factors in the final battle. Especially given that everyone now knows just how powerful Hao truly is. He is unbeatable and no one has the raw power to defeat him. I doubt even the 5 Warriors with a spirit ally could do it.

The Patch continue to sit on the sidelines and have their own little behind the scenes game and I still hate them. Sati and Gandala manipulating the fight seems a bit amateur to me. If the Shaman Fight has been going on for thousands of years, someone of a tactical mind would have already done something like it and I’m sure the bloody Patch would then institute rules to prevent such manipulation. You know, people were still pretty smart even 500 years ago. Technology doesn’t equal intelligence.

With only 3 volumes to go, I suspect this is going to end extremely fast. And that the Power of Friendship will solve everything. I mean, you can’t have a fighting shonen manga without that trope!

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

[Manga Monday] A Good Woman (Shaman King #28) ★★★☆☆

agoodwoman (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: A Good Woman
Series: Shaman King #28
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 192
Format: Digital Copy

 

Synopsis:

The volume starts out with Lyserg alone in some deserted city and the title of the chapter is “Separated in Hell”. Then Team Ren, now separated, all get the same “You’re in Hell to train to become one of the 5 Warriors Speech”.

Back in the real world some of Hao’s minions are taunting Sati and Ryu about Lyserg being blown up and Ryu loses his cool and attacks them. Sati intervenes and tells Ryu he musn’t kill anyone, no matter the provocation. She is then stabbed by one of the minions.

Tamao and Manta survived the car explosion but Marco, Lady Jeanne and Lyserg are all dead. Tamao vows to safeguard their bodies until Sati can resurrect them. The minion of Hao who initially attacked them was also called on to destroy the bodies. Now Tamao, with help from Manta, must stand against the minion. Marco makes a comeback, thanks to Lady Jeanne blessing him right before they all died. Now that he’s resurrected, he’s stronger than ever and easily defeats the minion. Instead of killing him though, he tries to make a deal. Then Hao and Luchist show up and Marco gives his oversoul to Tamao so she can escape with the bodies of Lady Jeanne and Lyserg.

The island that the Shaman Fight is taking place on has now been revealed to the world since the X-Laws used a super-secret space laser on it. The Patch are trying to figure out what to do but reveal that the second part of the Tournament will take place somewhere where no one can interfere.

Anna shows up with the Golem to help Tamao and Marco and Hao reveals that he’s planning on making her his bride once he becomes Shaman King. A battle ensues between them. Also, another team of Hao Minions show up at the inn where the bodies of Team Ren are. If the bodies are destroyed, they can’t come back from hell.

Yoh faces down all the ogres and makes them take him to the king of hell, Yama. Ryu is fighting, uselessly, against the minions to protect Sati and Yoh’s bodies. Dr Faust resurrects Yoh. Yoh instructs him to resurrect Sati while he holds off the minions.

A warship shows up at the island, helmed by Tycoon Oyamada, Manta’s father.

Back at the Hotsprings Team Ren is resurrected by Jun Tao and Team Ren tests its new powers by taking on the Hao minions. The minions are recalled by Hao for “cleanup duty”, as are Hao’s minions all over the island.

Lyserg continues his training in hell.

The volume ends with Hao’s minions being told to “clean up” the warship. Dissension arises as some of them don’t want to fight non-shamans and infighting commences.

 

My Thoughts:

Phracking aye, this was a busy volume. Too much time is spent shifting around to various characters instead of just sticking with a core group. It also made me realize that I miss Manta. He’s not a shaman so he’s pretty much been sidelined for quite some time. However, his interactions with Yoh in the first few volumes were what were so great. I miss that.

The plot continues to expand, what with the “real world” now getting involved. It is tough enough that Hao has about 50 bazillion shaman minions, but then between the X-Laws and Gandala you had another bazillion people and then the core group of Yoh and his friends. Now adding outsiders? It just feels like the manga-ka is going as “wide” as he can. Focus has been lost and everything feels frenetic. I’m barely hanging by my fingernails to the plot because it’s become so twisty and convoluted.

I suspect the continued escalation of Everything would blow a teenagers mind. I’m not a teenager anymore so my mind is just bored.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Exotica (Shaman King #27) ★★★☆☆

exotica (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission 
Title:
Exotica
Series: Shaman King #27
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 200
Format: Digital Copy

 

Synopsis:

Ryu is about to go berserk when he realizes Sati has killed Yoh but she reveals that she did it so Yoh would become one of the 5 Warriors, beings able to control the Five High Spirits, which are needed to defeat Hao.

Yoh is confronted by the giant ogre demon that he slew helping Anna several years ago and he senses the presence of Matamune, who is hiding in the shadows. The ogre tells Yoh he now serves Sati and that Yoh must think of Anna to make through all the levels of hell. The ogre leaves and Yoh’s first opponent shows up looking like his dad. Turns out to be his distant ancestor who defeated Hao 500 years ago. Yoken eventually uses his ultimate power, that he used to defeat Hao, against Yoh and Yoh stops it cold. During the fight Yoh realizes Yoken isn’t evil but just guilty about killing Hao, which is why he is still bound in hell.

Back in the real world, the Patch Officant for Gandala overhears Sati talking and confronts her. He states that the 5 High Spirits belong to the Patch and them alone.

Yoh and Yoken are talking and Yoken reveals that there are only 2 options for defeating Hao. One is total dissolution, which means no reincarnation and Yoh states he’ll try the other way. Then a giant hammer kills Yoken and another giant ogre climbs up onto the battlefield. Yoh kills that ogre but the a whole clan shows up.

Team Ren is confronted by the Wisdom Kings, who tell them they know all about the 5 Warriors. However, the Wisdom Kings tell Team Ren that’ll they will never leave the bathhouse alive.

Then 3 of Hao’s minions show up to confront Sati and Ryu while the Patch Officiant makes snide remarks about how neutral he is. Sati knows that the X-Laws have been wiped out.

The story then moves into a shot story from which this volume gets its name. A story about 2 young street racers using “exotic” cars, ie, a lamborgini and a ferrari.

Then the manga-ka spends 15 pages illustrating his time doing the aforementioned one shot.

 

My Thoughts:

Ok, this was going along strong, definitely into the 3.5star territory. We finally get to see Yoh be really serious when the Ogre kills his ancestor. The fights with Yoken were pretty cool but since I am an experienced connoisseur of fighting shonen manga, having watched every single Yu Yu Hakusho episode, it didn’t blow me away. I was impressed though.

The whole 5 Warriors/Spirits thing seems to be the manga-ka’s way of shaking the story out of any potential ruts. I guess I can deal with that.

Then the whole stupid one shot story happened. I’ve read the Initial D manga so the whole japanese street racing thing is old hat. Considering this took place at least 3+ years after Initial D was released, it felt like he was trying to ride the coat tails of its success. And to be honest, I haven’t given 2 figs about cars since I was 16. I drive them and I earn money to pay somebody else to fix them. That is it. And the icing on the cake was the manga-ka then illustrating how he came to do the one shot. He basically ran out of ideas for the one shot and so padded it out with the “how to” of it. Completely took me out of the Shaman King world. I feel like I’m being very generous with only dropping this to a 3. If there is another instance like this in any of the future volumes I’ll drop it to at least a 2, if not lower.

Only five more volumes to go. I feel like I’m in some kind of weird book marathon or something. And I have no one to blame but myself! Well, except maybe you. Yep, I’m definitely going to blame you this time. Bad you, go sit in the corner! Sit!

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

The Brother’s Nose (Shaman King #26) ★★★☆☆

brothersnose (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Brother’s Nose
Series: Shaman King #26
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 200
Format: Digital Copy

 

Synopsis:

Yoh realizes Team Ren has powered up so he and his cohorts race out of the stadium for more special training. The new member of the Wisdom Kings takes Ren out with a mental attack and Joco steps up to do battle with him. Joco’s new oversoul tells him to keep cool when suddenly the 3rd member of the Wisdom Kings does a sneak attack and apparently kills him. Now it’s up to Horohoro to face down the strongest members of the Wisdom Kings.

Horohoro pretty much goes super-sayan on them and just completely overwhelms them. The scene cuts away to the lady in charge of Gandala and she’s thanking Bonze the musician monks and Jun Tao for bringing Team Ren to her attention. Turns out Horohoro is some wolf-god incarnate and so powerful that Hao realizes the futility of turning him. Team Ren wins and the next match between a Hao affiliate and a Gandala affiliate begins.

Hao’s team almost literally slices and dices their way to victory. While this match is going on, some X-Laws are attempting to assassinate Hao. Hao unleashes his fire elemental on them and devours their souls. They knew that Hao could read their minds, hence their plan, so they initiated a secret plan, an unrevealed Angel of Fire, a laser satellite and use it to destroy the entire area where Hao is.

Sati, the head of Gandala, confronts Yoh and tells him he must die for the sake of the 5 Warriors. Yoh prepares to test out his new oversoul.

At the time of the rogue X-Laws attack, a brother of one of the contestants beaten by Lady Jeanne confronts the car carrying Marco, Lyserg, Jeanne, Manta and Tamao. Marco appears to be killed outright.

The volume ends with the X-laws attack failing, Yoh being killed and sent to hell by Sati and Lady Jeanne and Co defenseless.

 

My Thoughts:

A good bit of fighting but once again, it is overwhelming on a visual aspect. I see this huge explosion of power and just pass it over as it’s to much effort to parse it out. It would appear that Joco has been co-opted by Gandala and the whole 5 Warrior thing, whatever that is. Honestly, it seems a bit late in the series to be introducing yet another wrinkle into the plot. It certainly does create tension though.

One of the X-Laws sees Hao crying right before Hao kills him. Which means that Hao’s ability to feel sympathy/empathy isn’t gone like he claims. Not sure what that is going to portend, but I’m sure the manga-ka will make hay with it at some point.

Right at the end, when Sati kills Yoh, Matamune is shown greeting Yoh in the afterlife. So hopefully Matamune will power up Yoh and reveal some weakness about Hao. Or he’ll just blather the manga-ka’s useless palaver about not hurting anybody, ever, blah, blah, blah.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Death Wish ★★★★★

deathwish (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Death Wish
Series: ———-
Author: Brian Garfield
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Psychological Fiction
Pages: 192
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Paul Benjamin is a successful accountant in New York City. One afternoon his wife and married daughter are attacked in Paul’s apartment and savagely beaten. His wife dies and his daughter ends up in a sanitarium, insane for all intents and purposes.

Paul has always been a good guy. He’s done charity work for prison reform, contributes to causes left and right and thinks that if he obeys the rules that Society will protect him. With the attack on his family this delusion is ripped away and Paul must confront what living in a big city really means.

As he mulls these thoughts over, he begins to change. He realizes he has been afraid and he is now going to stop being afraid. But how does one stop being afraid? By taking responsibility for ones self is the conclusion Paul comes to.

On a business trip to the Mid-West Paul has a one night stand with some stranger at his hotel. When she leaves he realizes how empty his life is. How empty those hoodlums have made his life. He buys a small calibre pistol at a fishing shop and takes it back to New York with him hidden in his carry on baggage.

Paul begins roaming the city at night, exposing himself to danger so as to kill the perpetrators of violence and crime. After several kills the papers pick up on the fact that there is a vigilante on the loose. The book ends with Paul having just shot 4 teenagers who were throwing 50lb rocks onto a train to kill people inside and a cop seeing him. The cop raises his hat and deliberately turns his back and Paul walks home.

 

My Thoughts:

My goodness, another fantastic book for this year. Definitely gets the “Best Book of the Year” tag.

So, this review might be long and rambly, please bear with me or just skip it. Either way, it’s all good.

I had heard about this through the 1974 film starring Charles Bronson. Knowing the type of movie Bronson usually starred in, I never got around to watching it. Then in 2018 a remake with Bruce Willis was made and it eventually came to Amazon Prime. I watched the reboot, as I really like Willis. That led me to watching the original with Bronson and then to hunting down the book. I plan on talking about the movies in a Versus post later this month. Death Wish vs Death Wish vs Death Wish!

Based on the synopsis and the movies, I was expecting a book about a vigilante getting his revenge. A soft, pasty, weakminded fool seeing reality for the first time in his life and going all gung-ho to the other extreme. What I got was a psychological book that impressed me over and over and over. Paul never finds the hoodlums who killed his wife and he never expects to. What I read was the mind of a man pushed beyond its self-imposed limits. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t always easy to read about but it was good.

I’ve always considered Crime & Punishment to be THE book on what a criminal mind goes through after a murder. Death Wish is entering the same territory in my mind but from the other end. What does a man go through when he truly realizes how broken, destructive and unsafe his world is? This book shows the answer to that.

Given the fact that I already agree with most of the statements made in this book (see my Quote post from the other day) it is no surprise that I liked this. The only part I struggled with was Paul taking the role of Executioner into his own hands, not lightly, but so determinedly. I believe that every human has the God given right to defend themselves. I believe that laws like the Stand Your Ground laws are essential to a free society. However, when defense of Self moves into the defense of Society then I cannot blindly accept or promote it. But neither do I blindly negate it. Evil, and people who commit acts of Evil ARE evil, must be resisted not only by the dutifully elected officials of Law and Order but by every conscientious citizen as well. The flip side of the Right to Self-defense is the Responsibility of Self-defense. This book was written in 1972 and is pretty dated but the battle that Paul goes through in his mind is as relevant today as it was then.

I don’t know what someone who is in staunch opposition to the right of self-defense would make of this book. I don’t think it would change their mind. It is not meant to however. This was a book written to all of those people who sit on the fence and think they are safe because “of the police” or that “it couldn’t happen here in Safe Safe Happy Funland.” Brian Garfield also NEVER ridicules those who think like Paul at the beginning of the book. I really appreciated that.

I would love to unreservedly recommend this book but honestly, I can’t. For me, it was the right book at the right time. People can have their minds changed and responsibility can grow from even the stinkiest compost heap.

To end, this was not an action/adventure novel of revenge and over the top violence. This was the story of a man finally growing up.

★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)