Review: “One Piece: Skypeia 25-27” by Eiichiro Oda

one-piece-skypeia-25-27-by-eiichiro-oda

A review by Hannah.

One Piece was started in 1997 and is continuing today. There are 81 volumes to date, which is why this series of reviews will be broken up into three volume books. From now on there will be spoilers for what happens in the rest of the series. You have been warned…

The crew is on Jaya, where they read a story about Noland the Liar and they learn what it takes to get up into the ocean in the sky. It takes being shot directly into the sky and hoping you make it to the Emperor Clouds before the Knock Up Stream gives out and sends you plummeting to your death. Luffy is all in with this method; Ussopp and Nami not so much. Everyone else just goes with the flow.

Obviously they survive. Luffy, Chopper, and Robin are still hammers and can’t swim in the cloud ocean. The crew is attached by a masked man and saved by Gan Fall and his “pegasus,” Pierre. The crew sneaks onto Angel Island, meets Conis and her father Pagaya. They learn about Dials, eat sky fish, and try out Pagaya’s waver, a one-person boat that doesn’t need wind. Nami rides the waver to a place called Upper Yard. Upper Yard is an island covered in thick jungle. It’s also where the Kami and his priests live.

The Merry Go is forcibly towed with Chopper, Nami, Robin, and Zoro on board to Upper Yard. Turns out the crew are considered criminals and must face the Kami’s judgement. Zoro, Nami, and Robin leave to explore the island and find a way back to the rest of the crew. Chopper stays behind to guard the Merry Go. Luffy, Sanji, and Ussop barrow Conis’s training waver, a slow crow shaped ship, and leave to find their friends. All will have to face the ordeals of Kami and his priests.

A lot happens in these volumes. There’s politics, fighting, and a campout party with wolves. We learn new things about characters, like Sanji is originally from the North Sea, and the Robin can only use her powers when she can see where her limbs will be.

I like that all of the cloud islanders have cute little angel wings. They all look so sweet. However, their cuteness hides a terrible secret. The new Kami forcibly took over the country. Now any who disobey the Kami are destroyed horribly.

Kami is Japanese for god. In the case of these volumes, Kami is a title given to the ruler of the island. There are several jokes that revolve around prayer, the fighters actively seeking out the Kami just so they can say they fought a god, and Zoro being a super atheist.

The translation is better than it was in the earlier volumes. Jokes feel more natural and there is more Japanese for times when there is no direct Japanese to English translation. For example using “Kami” instead of “God.” If you can just mentally change “Zolo” into “Zoro” and “gum gum” into “gomu gomu” you will be fine.

I feel like this part of the story is mostly filler. There is no personal reason to enter the conflict for any crew member and there just happens to be a civil war that has been waged for at least 400 years that’s about to come to its climax while the crew is playing tourist. Mostly this story arc is a chance for Robin to integrate herself with the crew and for the crew to finish mourning Vivi.

My rating: 3.5/5 stars.

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Review: “One Piece: Baroque Works Vol.13-15” by Eiichiro Oda

One Piece: Baroque Works Vol.13-15 by Eiichiro Oda


A review by Hannah.

One Piece was started in 1997 and is continuing today. There are 81 volumes to date, which is why I’m breaking the manga down into story arcs for the review. From now on there will be spoilers for what happens in the rest of the series. You have been warned…

When last we left our newly minted Straw Hat pirates, they had been tricked by Mr. 9 and Ms. Wednesday, of the criminal organization Baroque Works, into going to an island of bounty hunters. After throwing a party and getting the crew blackout drunk, only Zoro has retained his senses. He decides to test his new blade against all the bounty hunters. During the ensuing battle, an incredible secret about Ms. Wednesday comes to light. She is actually Princess Vivi of Alabasta and she needs the Straw Hat crew to help her save her kingdom from Mr. Zero, leader of Baroque Works, a.k.a. Sir Crocodile, one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea.

After an encounter with the mysterious and powerful Ms. All Sunday, partner to Mr. Zero, the crew will travel to Little Garden, a prehistoric island where two giants are dueling to the death. There they have their second run in with some of Baroque Works’ top agents and Nami contracts a deadly virus. The next stop is Drum Island in order to find a doctor to cure Nami.

Character dynamics really come into play during these volumes. Sanji and Zoro are rivals who antagonize each other just by existing. Nami is a tyrant who rules the crew with an iron fist. Luffy and Usopp are best friends on a grand adventure. It’s really fun to see how relationships are forming on the tiny Merry Go.

Zoro is the king of drama and impulsive decisions. When trapped, his brilliant idea to keep fighting is to cut off his feet. When that doesn’t work (duh) he chooses a dramatic pose to die in. Sanji is the king of flakiness and snark. He finds a strange building made of wax, decides to break in, and drink tea, while he’s supposed to be searching for his missing crew. Later he answers a phone call from Mr. Zero and during the conversation, gets a hit put out on the one who should have answered the phone (Mr. Three).

The illustration’s eyes, ears, and hands are still slightly too large for the bodies and their torsos are too long. It doesn’t detract from the story or get in the way of the action. What I love about the artwork throughout the series is that it evolves with the characters. As the characters grow stronger, they begin to fill out more. Any change to their appearance is part of the journey.

Some of the translation is better. “Gum Gum” is still a thing and it continues to make me cringe. Luckily it is saved by Princess Vivi calling Zoro “Mr. Bushido.” in the anime she calls him “Bushido-san.” Bushido means way of the warrior and san is a gender neutral title. The translation is transitioning from direct translations to adaptive translations. Puns and jokes make more sense.

In the manga, Zoro’s name is spelled with an L (Zolo). In Japanese Rs and Ls are interchangeable because they are the same letter. I chose to spell his name with an R for two reasons. The first reason is that One Piece merchandise with Romaji (the English spelling of Japanese words) spell his name with an R. The second reason is that Zoro is the agreed upon spelling of his name among fans.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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Review: “Hounded” by Kevin Hearne

Review of Hounded by Kevin Hearne


A review by Vanessa.

Traveling the earth for more than two millennia should give one a great sense of wisdom and a very significant mental leg up on everyone else around.  So how is it that Atticus O’Sullivan finds himself square in the middle of someone else’s power struggle?  That is just how it is when dealing with ancient Celtic Gods known as the Tuatha De Danann.  In an attempt to stay away from them Atticus, a very old and possibly the last remaining Druid, has been hiding out in Tempe Arizona for the last several years.  He wants nothing to do with them but when the Goddess of Death comes flying into your life, you listen.  She warns him that an old rival who has been dogging Atticus for many centuries is coming for him.  Even with the advance warning, Atticus finds himself pulled by Gods of old, both friend and foe, into a frightening culmination of centuries of animosity.  His magic is old and powerful, and he has learned to wield it to create strong protections for himself but it may not be strong enough to defeat a God.  His best hope is the magical sword he still holds known as Fragarach, the Answerer.  It has the ability to cut down any enemy regardless of any magical protections, and also happens to be the source of the target on his back.

Lucky for him Atticus is not alone.  His best friend Oberon, who happens to be an Irish wolfhound with a telepathic connection to him, is a loyal soldier ready to fight to keep him safe… as long as there is the possibility of a harem of poodles in the end.  Atticus’s enemy is cunning and has no issue controlling some of the mortals in Tempe to force Atticus to give him the sword by any means necessary; including framing him for a crime and letting the police search through his things to find the sword.  It is a good thing that Atticus has lawyers that just so happen to be a werewolf and vampire.  On intimate terms with the Goddess of Death, the Goddess of the Hunt, earth elementals, a powerful werewolf pack, a coven of witches, and a beautiful bartender who is suspiciously more than she seems, the Druid just might prove very difficult to defeat.

This was a fun read from beginning to end, no doubt.  It had a depth of history and backstory that was delightfully engaging without being entirely overwhelming, although it skirted the line a couple of times.  I found myself laughing right out loud on multiple occasions, thanks to the frequent comic relief provided by Oberon’s telepathic dialogue with Atticus.  The Irish wolfhound was by far my favorite character.  But there was no lack of interesting and engaging secondary characters to choose from.  As my first foray with a male author into the world of Urban Fantasy I was very pleased with the experience.  The book is classified as fantasy of course, but those of us rabid, loyal fans of Urban Fantasy can certainly recognize a fellow of the craft.  The romantic entanglements of the main character do tend to hold a little less depth than one might desire, but it is not a detriment to the story in any way.  Hearne’s storytelling is wonderful; he has given just enough in the first book of this series to get me completely hooked for the rest.

My rating: 4.5/5 stars.

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Review of “The Consequence of Revenge” by Rachel Van Dyken

Review of "The Consequence of Revenge" by Rachel Van Dyken A review by Maria.

Max Emory was my favorite character in the first book of author Rachel Van Dyken’s Consequence series, The Consequence of Loving Colton. I fell in love with him even more in his own story: The Consequence of Revenge.

Max is treading water in the pool of life. He loved and lost his best friend to another man. He has no plans to take a job and start living his life again. He’s been considering taking up permanent residence on his couch. He even stops acting out his womanizing ways. His closest friends decide he needs a push back into the real world and secretly sign him up to be the next bachelor on the reality show Love Island. Max is furious and tries to find a way out of the contract they’d forged on his behalf. Seeing no way out of the show, Max heads to paradise with twenty-four possibly insane women to try to survive and possibly fall in love. He never counted on finding Becca, a barista who had spurned his advances in the past.

As I’ve stated, Max continues to be my favorite character from Van Dyken’s incredible cast of characters. He is smart, wealthy, devastatingly handsome and incredibly laugh-until-it-hurts funny. In this 2nd Consequence book, he is finally allowed to bring his A-game. He brings nothing but laughter as he navigates through a handsy doctor, a brother hell-bent on revenge, a demanding director, twenty-four crazy women, overcoming his intense fear of goats, and having every second of his life filmed for national television.

I must give a shout out to the hilarious cast of side characters from book one that were heavily featured in this book as well. Reid continues to be a pain for his brother Max, and even becomes part of the television crew to try and get revenge on him for a hilarious incident with some gas inducing gummy bears. Best gal pal, Milo with her new husband Colt make appearances, along with Milo’s brother and Max’s new closest friend, Jason. These four characters complete what Max fondly calls his gang. All of their interactions with him whether they involve gummy bears, prostate exams, pick-up contests, or vetting the women on reality television are down right rib-cracking funny.

The Consequence of Revenge was a very fast paced book for the most part. It began to drag a little bit during the scenes on the island but more characters arrived so it picked up the pace again. Van Dyken was continued to keep the novel witty, funny, and full of surprises.

So many scenes in this book literally had me falling out of my chair laughing, that before I was even a hundred pages through the novel I was already recommending it to all my friends! This romantic comedy is appropriate for adult readers.

My rating: 4.5/5 stars.

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Review: “The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss” by Max Wirestone

The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss by Max Wirestone A review by Amanda.

Dahlia Moss is going through a tough time. Her boyfriend cheated and had the audacity to dump her when he got caught, instead of the other way around. She has been unemployed for almost a year, despite going on interviews for any job opening she can find. Her roommate Charice has been very understanding about the rent but Dahlia is determined to find a job and pay her own way. An opportunity that seems too good to be true, but also too good to pass up, falls in her lap when handsome jerk Jonah hires her as a private detective. It seems that something important has been stolen from him and he needs her help to track it down. This is no ordinary case, however, because the item is a spear – a digital spear, from an online MMORPG. Jonah claims to know who took it. All Dahlia has to do is meet with the suspected thief and convince him to return the spear. The meeting doesn’t go quite as planned, and then everything goes topsy-turvy when Jonah turns up dead. Dahlia might be in over her head, but she’s determined to find the truth.

This book was a fun, clever read. Dahlia’s inner monologue was immensely entertaining and reminiscent of Rory and Lorelai from the TV show Gilmore Girls. She was an intelligent, nerdy girl with a love of online computer games, which came in handy while she worked the case. She was also a bit flighty, easily distracted, and socially awkward. While I liked and identified with Dahlia, her over-the-top personality was also a detriment at times. She often overshadowed the mystery aspect of the plot with her humorous, but irrelevant, observations. Romance was present but very much in the background. As far as the case went, it was intriguing and kept me guessing until the end. I enjoyed this story and would like to read more about Dahlia, although I would prefer to see more of a balance between her personality and the plot.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

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