RWBY: Before the Dawn Review


At long last I have finished the second RWBY novel and am one step closer to being caught up with the novels. It feels like a big accomplishment to me at least since I’ve had them checked out since forever. I thought this one improved upon the first book too. It expanded the cast so we got to see more of the classic characters and we also got more fights. That’s a win/win in my book.

In this adventure Team SSSN is not having a good time. The various members are upset at Sun for always ditching them to do his own thing. In particular Scarlet is super upset about this and keeps on taking shots at Sun. Meanwhile there are a lot of people vanishing from Vacuo so Team CFVY is on the case. They also have to find out more about the Crown, a mysterious villain group. Sun has been investigating the vanishings too so he volunteers his team to help….without telling them first. With all of the drama and disagreements that this team brings to the equation, should Coco even let them join in? Also, can they possibly save the world while they’re all fighting each other like this?

It felt like there was always a lot happening in this book which was nice. After all we have the vanishings going around, the Crown mind controlling people, and the school acting really shady. The Beacon students have even opened up a little counseling session where they all talk about how badly they feel. Now some characters like Sun take shots at this and have fun names for it like the Baby room but it was a nice bit of world building. We see how this move to Shade Academy has not been easy for them. Apparently they’ve even been excluded and bullied to an extent.

Now, when it comes to the counseling room I can see why Sun finds this to be a bad idea. The group all huddling together does seem like this will further widen the gap with the other students. At the same time, it seems like they wouldn’t be included either way so it gets tricky. I would say they don’t need this room to be honest. It doesn’t hurt anything but I’d probably be skipping to do more training and everything. Got to keep on getting stronger and stronger after all.

The school environment is something that does limit what the heroes can do for a while. Unfortunately they are still students so there isn’t a whole lot that they can do outside of the rules. They could try to escape but then they may have pro huntsmen after them. I’m sure the heroes could beat them up but after a point you start doing more good to the very people you are trying to protect. I was glad when the heroes finally make a stand but it certainly takes a while since the school is so bad most of the time. Forcing the heroes to change teams, not doing any investigating, etc.

Now, there are some twists and dynamics here but in the end I would not say that the school looked good. For example I did not like the principal Theodore all that much. Sure, he talked really tough and was ready to fight at all times but you have to do a whole lot more than that if you want to score a big win. When the going got tough and the villains attacked, he didn’t beat a single strong fighter. That’s a really bad look for a headmaster. He’s better than Lionheart but that’s really all that I can say for him here. Bravado without anything to back it up is basically pointless.

His secretary Rumpole also doesn’t look good. She’s at a high rank but doesn’t really know how to balance her time and lets her guard down too easily. She is skilled to be sure but ultimately tends to just get in the way the whole time. Some events later on help her make a bit of a recovery but ultimately she’s got some work to do for me to consider her to be a very strong character. Shade Academy loves to hype itself up as everyone in Vacuo is a resident tough guy but they don’t seem to be on the front lines when it counts.

As for Team CFVY, they are still the main characters even if they have to share with Sun’s team at times. So they get a lot to do and are reasonably solid. Coco has to go through a lot with her new team as not being the leader anymore is quite the experience. You can tell that she likes being leader and won’t take orders very well. She gets some solid fights here and ultimately takes control when necessary so I would give her a lot of credit here. She may not be my favorite RWBY character but I would say she did better here than in the first book.

Fox’s role is greatly reduced here but he still gets to have some action scenes here. Being blind is a great advantage in battles where everyone’s vision is gone due to the sandstorm always around. Fox ends up coming through for his team more than once so he’s still the MVP here. Without him the heroes would really be in trouble. He’s got more of a mean streak than the others and that’s always entertaining.

Velvet still has some issues with not being the leader and so she’s always trying to prove herself as a big fighter. Unfortunately this does lead to her being defeated multiple times but she does always get up. Velvet is a strong fighter after all so you won’t be keeping her down for very long. I’m glad about her enthusiasm but I would like to see her get a big win soon. In Volume 3 she was able to take down the Atlas robot because of how good her copy abilities were. She needs to tune into that and just take out her opponents.

Finally you have Yatsuhashi and he gets a big role here. After all, his ability to alter memories is really the perfect counter to mind control if you think about it. Just rewind to before they were controlled. It’s even easier in the book since just making contact with someone allows him to overwrite the control. He was definitely crucial here, no doubt about that. He’s often very quiet but I appreciate his loyalty towards helping Velvet. You can always count on him to show up.

As for Team SSSN, Sun gets a really big role here. As always he is dodging his responsibilities and tackling things solo the whole time. It’s always tended to work out for him like helping Blake and stopping Torchwick but his teammates still aren’t thrilled. This means he has no real time for them and doesn’t really want to talk about it either. Ultimately I was cool with that as Sun is more of a loner. He shouldn’t be the leader for sure but Ozpin’s the one who made that decision. I don’t think Sun would think twice about it if he was kicked out. He barely cared when they switched teams after all.

He ultimately still gets more done than the others because he is always running towards the action and doing his best to fight. What does hurt is that he looks so weak here. Remember that in the show he was overwhelming Torchwick who had been crushing Blake. Then he effortlessly defeated Ilya who had been going even with Blake. In the show Sun is shown to be a true powerhouse that people put on Yang’s level for a while there. In the book he looks like a complete weakling which also ends up making the rest of his moments look worse. That’s where the book made a mistake if you ask me. He should have been a lot more impressive and that would have helped make him more reasonable.

As for the other members, well Sage barely talks at all. You could write him out of the adventure entirely and barely notice the difference. He’s not happy about what Sun’s doing either but doesn’t really talk about it. Neptune’s with Scarlet on this but is more of a pushover so he just lets Sun toss him around. He has a sad moment where Team CFVY jumps him and then beats the poor guy up. Losing isn’t bad in itself but he was humiliated and threatened a lot. The guy even sold Sun out in the end. This book did not help Neptune’s case at all.

As for Scarlet, I thought he went out of his way to attack Sun a lot. He clearly took the whole thing the hardest so you do feel bad for him but he probably could have rebelled in a better way. I wouldn’t have minded seeing them fight, that could have been interesting. Ultimately Sun would usually let the insult slide though. Their dynamic should be interesting when they return in the show if there is still any tension between the characters.

As for the villains, there are two main ones here in Jax and Gillian. So Jax wants to rule Vacuo because he believes that it’s his birthright so he should rule over everyone. His semblance is pretty good since he can mind control people. He can’t fight very well directly though and that’s where his sister comes in. Gillian can use her abilities to drain someone’s aura or give it to someone else. So together they can mind control people and then give them extra abilities. With extra aura you remain invincible from opposing attacks for a longer period of time which is really handy. As a result they make for a very dynamic duo in combat here.

Gillian appears as the more reasonable character the whole time. Ultimately she will follow whatever Jax says but she knows when to run away. Then you have Jax who figures that he can just keep on fighting and lose like a hero but it’s far better to escape and fight another day than to just lose like that. He wasn’t the best villain but I did think that this plot made for a more urgent one than in the first book. After all this is a full invasion this time with a ton of villains taking part. It wasn’t just your average fight and it was also a good way to finish up the plotline with the characters wondering if they could have done more in the first invasion. This was their chance to save a kingdom instead of letting it fall. (Not that there’s more that they could have done the first time. They’re just really hard on themselves about it)

Aside from the two main villains you’ve also got Umber who was a solid foot soldier. Her ability to freeze her opponents in place was extremely handy. After all if you can’t move then you can’t fight back. There aren’t many fighters who have a semblance that can counter this. I assume if you are strong enough then you may be able to break free but there’s no guarantee.

Then you have the villains from the last book. Carmine is still running around and causing as much trouble as always. You have to respect her dedication here, she just never gives up and always looks good in a fight. She crushes Coco here and shows that she is one of the more versatile villains around. Bertilak shows up as well but since he was betrayed last time, he isn’t really doing very well when the heroes see him here. He never lost his confidence though and heads off for revenge so maybe he will appear again at some point. There’s certainly more that you can do with this guy.

Ultimately these two books may not have made Team CFVY jump up the charts all that much but it’s nice for their fans that they got these two adventures. Additionally, a lot of random students from the background got some roles here like Olivia. Good luck remembering all of their names but if they ever get big roles in the TV show, now you will have more context on their abilities and personalities which is always handy. It helps expand the universe which is always good. There was also just a lot of action in this book and I’m always up for that. Maybe one day we’ll get an animated adaption of the novels, that would certainly be cool.

Overall, Before the Dawn is a solid follow up to the first novel. It felt like every plot line was addressed and the characters are all in a better place now. They’ve finally been able to come to terms with everything that happened and got to hone their skills. Everyone should get along a lot better at Shade Academy now and they will be ready for the future adventures. I’m definitely ready for the third book now. It might be a little while before I get to check that one out since the library doesn’t have it yet but I’ll be waiting. I definitely recommend reading this one in the meantime.

Overall 7/10

RWBY: After the Fall Review


I rented this book many months ago but it was hard to find the time to check it out. Well, I finally got to red the book and it’s always nice to have some more RWBY adventures. I’m personally not a big fan of Team CFVY, never have been since they got humiliated over in the tournament but I suppose this was the chance to explore their characters. They get a lot of development and we also get to see more of their abilities this time but I’m still not sold on any of the characters. I don’t think they’re ready to contend with the kind of threats that team RWBY goes after.

The main plot has the team heading over to the Vacquo desert after receiving a distress call. They save an old lady named Slate from a monster and then head into the village. The issue is that the Grimm keep on attacking the settlements. Peoples emotions are also going crazy for some reason and these events have been attributed to “Mood Bombs” The heroes have to figure out what is causing this to occur while also staying unified as a solid group. One of the more difficult aspects of this is that their teamwork has never been the greatest before now. Throw in their tempers and the mission will get a lot more dangerous.

Vacquo is a region that hasn’t gotten to appear much in the main series so this was also a chance for the book to flesh it out a bit. It’s also fitting because the next RWBY volume may be taking place there so the book is like a preview. We already know some of the lore like how most people don’t want to live here and everyone ends up being a loner but it’s good to see this place first hand. In the book we clearly see how the desert is super dangerous since there’s nowhere to hide when a Grimm inevitably shows up. Even without the mood bombs going off, you know that Grimm will eventually appear.

Between chapters the book will also give you some flashbacks for the characters. We see their point of view when they met up with the main cast in volume 2, their point of view during initiation from a year before volume 1, Velvet and Blake have a conversation on why Velvet’s always getting bullied, etc. They even helped out with the dance festival a bit. While you may just be waiting to get back to the main plot sometimes, it was nice seeing the familiar faces like Ruby and friends in the flashback so that part was nice.

The book’s a pretty decent length at close to 300 pages so there’s a lot that goes on here. There are quite a few new characters as well and the plot has a good amount of twists and turns. How good it is will depend on if you’re able to follow this team for a while. While I’m not the biggest fan, they did hold the book up well enough. We also get some quality fight scenes so that’s always fun.

As the leader a lot of responsibility is put onto Coco at all times which is part of the tension here. The other members aren’t always crazy about Coco giving out the shots and they aren’t afraid to say so. It’s also fair to say that she probably isn’t even the strongest member of the 4. I think that would have to go to Yatsuhashi. The others do need to realize that Coco was the best bet though as none of them would really fit in the leader role. Coco certainly makes her share of mistakes as things go on but all in all she tries her best and that’s what counts. Coco’s still learning and should get better as her adventures continue.

Then we have Velvet who is the nice member of the group but I’ve definitely got some more issues with her. Now, I cut everyone some slack on account of the mood bombs with how they attack each other but my issue with Velvet is that she’s too passive. For example, she actively allows herself to be bullied while at the school. Keep in mind that she could quite easily beat up just about any of the students who mess with her. We get a flashback where Blake has to step in and save Velvet, then Velvet still defends her inaction. She tries to say that it’s just easier to allow herself to be bullied so the bullies won’t go after anyone else. She also hopes to stop violence with peace.

Perhaps these are nice sentiments but it’s not the right way to go. Now, to an extent I think this is the novel trying to explain away the really early scene in the show where we see Velvet being bullied by the weak students at the class. I suspect this was before she was planned to be one of the year 2 powerhouses. So this is sort of an excuse for that scene but I would have just not acknowledged it. It exists though and the book double downs on it so Velvet ends up being the biggest pushover in the series. That’s not the kind of character I can get behind. Velvet really needs to toughen up and soon.

Then we have Fox and I didn’t even realize he was blind in the show. His role was extremely small though so I think that’s a fair reason for not noticing. The show delves into how tough it is to fight while blind and how he gets around it. His ability to use telepathy is certainly handy and by the end I would say he was the best character. He has a lot of witty dialogue and isn’t afraid to call the other characters out. By sensing his opponent’s position, he can get past his weakness of not being able to see. You feel like he had to put in a ton of work to get to where he is so that’s impressive.

Finally you have Yatsyhashi and his memory alteration ability. More specifically, he can cause you to forget things. It’s definitely a power that you have to use carefully as it can easily be something that villains end up using at will. His origin story is delved into here and we see that he did make a big mistake with it once. Now he is really cautious about using the power at all. Fortunately he is quite powerful even without that semblance so he is still able to protect his friends. He is also able to block the mood bomb far better than any of the other characters since he controls his emotions well.

So the characters have their moments and the only one I have significant issues with is Velvet. The other characters are decent but I just don’t find them too interesting even after reading the book. They get to clown on both Weiss and Ruby in the flashbacks to show why this team is so much better but of course I wasn’t buying that. If it was a fight then things would go pretty differently. Maybe they can finally get a role in the next show volume. Since these 4 are attending Shade Academy, you’d expect them to appear at least.

As for the antagonists, Bertilak and Carmine were both solid. They appear as corrupt Huntsman/Huntress at first and then continue to go downhill from there in terms of how they’re not exactly heroes. They have a bit of a good cop and bad cop routine going. Bertilak doesn’t give the main characters any respect and is always badmouthing them. Meanwhile you have Carmine who talks and acts really nice to the heroes but is still hanging out with Bertilak and not exactly going against him so….you have to keep that in mind. I imagine it is a tough situation for her as well but she could do more.

I did like these two characters though. Bertilak’s a tough fighter and he does have a lot of confidence in himself. It’s easy to see how he has survived so long in the world of Remnant. His fire semblance is also very handy in a fight. Carmine was good as well. Even if her pleasantness may not be genuine, she at least knows how to connect with the characters and get them to lower their guards. Her ability is also solid involving the wind. It’s hard to say what her semblance was exactly from the fight but it was definitely useful and a threat to the others right from the jump.

For the settlement characters there were 3 main ones. Slate was the unofficial leader and while she may be old, she does a good job of leading the troops and keeping morale high. That in itself is always a good trait for a leader. She was decent enough. Then there’s the old man Edward who used to be a tough fighter back in his day but he’s old now and his mind is slowly leaving him. This does make the situation rather difficult as he’ll randomly start walking away or zoning out. It’s certainly really frightening for his grandson Gus who isn’t sure how to really handle this. I wasn’t really a fan of both characters even if there’s not a whole lot they could have done to make things better. I do think their plan was not very good from the start though.

As a final note, we got to see Ozpin being shady as always. Calling in Velvet alone right after a heartbreaking mission where everyone died seemed rather harsh. This way she had nobody to rely on. Of course his reasoning was that he could definitely get an accurate story this time with no interference but the timing was rather abrupt. You also feel like Coco should have been called in as the leader instead. I was glad when the rest of the team burst in to protest against this.

Overall, After the Fall is a pretty good book. Alternating between flashbacks and the main story was a good way to give the characters a lot of development while also providing us with some action and real stakes in the present. Even if I would rather be reading about Ruby and friends, I understand the reasoning behind using these characters instead since it could be a very long time before they get the spotlight in the show if that ever even happens in the future. For all we know there just won’t be any time for that but I am hoping they could return for a fight. If you’ve only watched the show then their team has never beaten a real (Non-Grimm) opponent in the series which is unfortunate since they’re supposed to be one of the top teams around. I’ll definitely be reading the next book sooner than later.

Overall 7/10

Bleach: Can’t Fear Your Own World Review


Bleach will always be known as one of the greatest manga to ever walk the planet. It balanced together a ton of action and hype moments but at the same time fans will note that we were left with a lot of unanswered questions. Well, this book seeks to answer at least some of them. Others will need more novels but if you had any questions about Hisagi or the origins of the Soul Society then this should answer them. It’s a pretty fun trilogy even if it probably would have been better to have sidelined Hisagi since he’s so far out of his depth.

The books starts with Aizen finally being sentenced to prison again. He may have helped out during the Thousand Blood War but nobody wants to see him since he makes them feel bad. The guy is successfully able to manipulate the whole cast in his few pages of screen time at the beginning. He says some rather disturbing things though which causes Hisagi to decide to run a newspaper. He aims to get to the bottom of the dark web of lies known as the Soul Society. To do this he will have to interview every character who had a role during the Bleach manga series. There’s just one problem: he may have just walked into a conspiracy.

Meanwhile Tokinada has decided that it’s time to act more openly. He’s the head of one of the 4 sacred houses of the Soul Society. This means that he can do just about whatever he wants whenever he wants. In this case he just wants to stir up some trouble and intends to use his protégé Hikone to accomplish this goal. With Ichigo away on vacation, do the heroes have any chance against this guy?

Since there are 3 books here there is a whole lot of time for story progression. As such the books are able to be very dialogue heavy with character discussing abstract concepts such as what it means to fear someone and if it makes you stronger. In particular Hisagi loves discussing such topics since he is obsessed with them. In a way I would say Tosen leaving seems to have traumatized Hisagi in some way because the guy is really obsessed.

You’ll have long monologues of Hisagi wondering if what he is doing is right or perhaps he made a mistake somewhere. It’s definitely a rough road for the guy that’s for sure. Hisagi’s not a bad character, I’ve never minded him at least although I would say he is probably better in the manga than in the novels because we didn’t know he was so dramatic. In the books he tends to panic whenever anyone talks to him. In his defense he is rather outmatched by everyone though. He still gets to participate in the climax though and I would say that was handled really well.

In terms of moments where he overthinks things, I would say that the answer usually isn’t all that hard to find. For example, he talks about the kind of justice that Tosen has but no matter how you try to explain it away, that guy was just crazy. You can’t find meaning in his actions due to that being the case.

Then later on when he’s panicking about Tokinada getting the better of him, you realize he just needs to beat that guy. Now, some of the characters have valid gripes against the Soul Society like Ginjo. I thought he looked really good here as well. I would argue in the fights he should have looked a lot stronger but he doesn’t train as much as Ichigo so I guess it’s not a big deal.

His main issue is really just that the Soul Society did betray him and they murdered a bunch of people. You can see why he is always upset at them because they get away with everything without any issue. That’s where the problem lies because you’d think that by now things would be different but they really aren’t.

Look no further than Mayuri’s subplot. Sure it’s mainly used as a dark humor kind of plot but he’s literally enslaved a bunch of hollows and quincies. The Soul Society looks the other way because they don’t like those factions at all but you’re really going to let them live such a tough existence? Mayuri doesn’t hide this at all either and is just as demented as he ever was. All of his scenes are painful just because of how dark they are. The guy gets his kicks out of experimenting on everyone but nobody stops him. It’s why I could never root for the Soul Society in any arc.

First they tried to murder Rukia on rather flimsy reasoning. That event is mentioned here a lot since of course Tokinada had something to do with it. That was one of their first appearances and things never really changed. They’re on Ichigo’s good side but that doesn’t mean that they are actually heroes. Throughout this trilogy we find out many other dark secrets about them which just keeps on adding up. Honestly I don’t think Hisagi will ever get to finish his story. He’ll probably be bumped off at some point.

Even characters with high ranks like Shunsui threaten Hisagi about this a lot. He really will have no friends if he goes too far to the point where it’s hinted that he would need to call in Ichigo. Ichigo gets a lot of hype here which was nice. Every tie the books hype up the new villains they always make sure to mention that Ichigo would still win. It’s nice to see because the power levels had be a bit worried. Sequels tend to surpass the heroes pretty quick like Granolah surpassing Goku and a bunch of Androids all surpassed Naruto with ease. So far that has not happened to Ichigo here.

In general the power levels in these books aren’t too bad but I definitely have some issues. Mainly it’s that too many of the characters seem deadlocked. You’ll be surprised at how many ties there are in this trilogy. Characters keep tanking everything until the battle gets interrupted. Most of the battles in the final book end at least which is good.

We get to see some of the Espada show up like Harribel, Nel, and Grimmjow. Harribel is currently the leader of Hueco Mundo and still looks good here. She doesn’t get a very big role but looks tough. The same is true of Nel as well. Grimmjow definitely gets a bigger role than the other two. He has several fights to himself and looks pretty good. It was always fun to see him get involved and was nostalgic in a way too.

Urahara knows a lot more than he lets on as always. He’s certainly a crucial piece to the heroes’ arsenal even if he tends to help behind the scenes. The guy hasn’t lost his edge. Then there’s Shunsui who may be the leader of the Soul Society but he has to play politics so often that he rarely gets to do what he wants to do anymore. I would say that holds him back as a character because he feels like someone who ended up joining corporate and can’t be trusted anymore. At the end of the day it’s clear that he will choose duty above all else.

Yoruichi and Shinji are other characters who get quick roles here. Yoruichi is confident as always and likes testing various characters but only participates in a fight briefly. Shinji also gets one fight but it’s quite the important one. He’s one of the few side characters to get a full fight to himself which is pretty big. His fans should definitely be satisfied with the results since you really can’t ask for a whole lot more than that.

Not to be outdone, Zaraki gets some hype as well. He doesn’t fight until nearly the end of the trilogy but it’s really a fight that’s worth your while. His power level has to be one of the strongest among all the captains at this point if not the absolute strongest based on how everyone acts around him.

Tosen is important only in the sense that his justice speech gets mentioned a lot by Hisagi. Honestly I think Hisagi reads way too far into everything. Tosen was pretty much insane and made his choice. You can’t use him as a beacon of hope anymore. Then you have Aizen who looked great in his initial appearance as I mentioned. He gets a flashback as well and appears a bit near the end so it’s always good to see him show up. The guy gets so much hype that you can’t help but feel he would able to win against the heroes if he were to ever return.

Mayuri gets a bit role as mentioned earlier as he really tries to make the Soul Society look as evil as possible. Between him and Tokinada they make a compelling case for why the place needs to be taken down. Then we get onto the 4 new characters in the series. First up is Tokinada since he is the main villain. The guy is certainly going for an Aizen vibe but a crazier version of the character.

Aizen always spoke very respectfully and had grand ideals. He knew how to talk about those in a very regal sense. Tokinada is also a master strategist but he likes really messing with the heroes. He’ll constantly bring up old traumas to see how everyone reacts. His back story really hits different as a result of that. It’s not an origin where you’re supposed to feel bad for him. Far from it, it shows that he was always twisted to the core right from the start.

He makes for a very powerful villain but not a likable one. You feel like Shunsui or Byakuya should have taken him out long ago. The main problem is that they just accept what happened each time without retaliating. That would lead to Tokinada growing more and more bold. It is impressive how he is able to hold his own against everyone though. Maybe a little too impressive since taking on Espada, the Quincy, and the Gotei 13 is just insane. This guy could have even ended Arc 2 based on how good he looks here.

Then you have Hikone who is Tokinada’s right hand man. As a human, arrancar, quincy hybrid creation the kid doesn’t know anything about the world except what Tokinada has told him. To that extent he’s a rather tragic character since he has no possible way to know that what he is doing is wrong. All he can do is keep on moving forward and hoping for the best. This guy’s power is also very impressive and he keeps on getting stronger throughout the series. I ended up liking him. Hikone’s true personality shines through since he doesn’t murder his opponents the way he would have if the guy was pure evil. He simply doesn’t know better and I can’t really blame him for that.

Then you have his sword Ikomikidomae. That guy’s a very interesting character and I would have liked to have seen more of him. He’s a very old being who has so much power that it’s hard to even say what he is. The guy ultimately gets overshadowed by the other two villains but looked really impressive in the meantime. In a 1 on 1 fight it’s hard to say that anyone else would be able to defeat him. Not the way he was dominating the other characters.

Finally you have Aura. She’s certainly an interesting character with the way her intangibility powers work. Aura is quite broken in that sense as nobody could really land a hit on her throughout the whole trilogy. Only one specific blade would even have a chance against her and since Tokinada is a master strategist she would need to be careful of him. She gets her own backstory and everything so by the end you feel like you know Aura quite well. She got a very satisfying ending to her character I would say.

In the books there are some illustrations which is fun. It would be nice to see this turned into a manga or anime at some point since there’s a lot to absorb here. I don’t read a whole lot of novels though so it’s fun to see how the information is presented in a different medium. For sure it allows you to have a lot more dialogue and characters really processing the events. To an extent I would say that a novel will always be more dramatic than other versions since you have the characters thinking and using hyperbole about everything. (“This is the strongest attack I’ve ever seen!!!!”)


Overall, This was a really fun trilogy. The only goal the trilogy didn’t succeed with was getting me to like Hisagi. The guy is just too filled with self doubt and panicking all the time. Since that was part of his character arc perhaps he will be better going forward though. I liked how the series handled the Ichigo aspect since the guy would have cleaned shop if he was around. I thought the reason for why he wasn’t around was logical though and there’s even potential room for a sequel explaining more in depth what happened to him. What really seals the deal for the trilogy being great though was the ending. It’s really the ideal ending in many respects and an ending is always important since it leaves an impression. I was pleasantly surprised at some of the final outcomes. So if you’re looking for more Bleach content until we hopefully get a sequel soon, these 3 books are great ones to check out.

Overall 8/10

Bendy and the Ink Machine: Dreams Come To Life Review


It’s time to look at the Bendy novel that came out a while back. The first Bendy game was definitely a lot of fun with how atmospheric it was. There was always just a lot happening and everything had a second meaning of some kind. The spooky atmosphere is really what helped make the game so good and it’ll be hard for the second game to match it. Well, the book is a way to bridge the gap and it actually has some important information so I’d recommend giving it a shot. It really turns up by the end as any good horror book should.

The book follows a kid named Buddy. He has grown up in a fairly poor neighborhood where everyone struggles to make enough to stay in their houses and get food. It’s just Buddy and his Mom, but they’ve done well enough so far. That’s when Buddy meets up with Joey Drew and somehow manages to get a job at the Bendy art studio. As someone who has always wanted to draw, this is perfect for Buddy. Joey is pretty eccentric and quickly seems to forget he hired Buddy, but the kid is just glad to be making a steady wage. He even becomes friends with a girl named Dot who also works there. Unfortunately this studio may be hiding something sinister within. Will Buddy have to risk his life for this job?

There’s really only one thing that holds this book back from being solid all around. That’s…Buddy. He’s the worst book main character that I’ve ever seen (Not counting light novels) and he just never becomes a good character. He’s surprisingly mean to his grandpa throughout the book and is always super defensive. I don’t even totally understand why Buddy was always so petty. They hint it’s something about his being Polish and catholic or something but the book doesn’t delve into it and I’m not so briefed on foreign policy that I was able to pick up on it. Maybe if I thought about it more but it didn’t even seem relevant to the book all that much so I don’t know why Buddy was always getting steamed. Couple that with the fact that he isn’t very smart and super timid and you’ve got a truly terrible combo.

Dot is nice enough to be his friend and he always gives her a hard time. Then you have the fact that he allows everyone to drag him along for a ride. Joey tricking Buddy into paying for dinner was the single worst scene in the book because his family really needed the money and Buddy didn’t think about that. It’s definitely surprising that Joey would have him pay, but Buddy should have taken no chances. He should have been celebrating such a big day with his family, not with his boss. This came back to bite him rather quickly. Buddy also tends to be quite dramatic through the narration and isn’t even a reliable one. He admits towards the end of the book that he isn’t even sure how much of this is real since he may have mixed up events. Yeah….Buddy’s no good.

Beyond that the book does a good job of slowly building up the tension. There are some fake jump scares at the beginning of the book but eventually we start to get some real horror in there. It starts off pretty subtly as things just don’t add up or you see some shadows. Of course part of it is Buddy literally jumping at shadows, but it can get very real. Right off the bat I can tell you that the book ends on a high note. The ending is quite solid and makes for an exciting climax. It’s really a great payoff that helps make the rest of the book succeed as well. This is the kind of book where a weak climax would have hurt quite a lot. I don’t want an ambiguous ending that tries to stay realistic instead of being like the game. The Bendy game showed us that the dangers are quite real so I’m glad that the book embraced that.

I haven’t read a lot of books lately, but it’s always good to get back into them because they really do help you jump into another world. Not having any images really lets you make up the pictures yourself and visualize everything without assistance. In a way that’s probably what helps make the immersion so complete and powerful. This book is certainly as interesting as any other that I’ve read. With a better main character it would be able to hit the next level but as it stands I definitely had a good time.

I talked about Buddy a lot, but we do get a few other characters. First up is Dot who is a solid heroine. She’s always thinking ahead and doesn’t mind pushing the rules a bit in order to satisfy her curiosity. She isn’t just about to accept things as true just because someone told her that this was the case. Her persistence is solid and she is also willing to put her life in jeopardy to solve a case even if Buddy is too scared. Her attitude of not wanting to beat around the bush with pleasantries the way everyone else does is also admirable.

Then you’ve got Joey Drew who is shown to be rather absent minded the whole time. You can see the chinks in his psyche early on though. The guy definitely appears to be a little corrupt and also close minded which is surprising for an artist. Of course we don’t know if the guy can really draw, I’ve got my doubts. Sammy is also around and he’s pretty insane like in the first game. He’s always doing something crazy but it’s tough to deal with him because the heroes don’t know if he’s insane in a quirky way or a dangerous one. If you wait too long with someone like that you won’t know until it’s too late.

Buddy’s Mom is a good character although she also keeps too many secrets. Not telling Buddy that the grandfather was coming over was a bit last second. It’s not like she should need to let him know, but a heads up would certainly help him not panic the way that he did. Buddy is quite jumpy after all. As for the grandfather, it’s not his fault that he doesn’t know a lot of English but it does make his scenes a bit annoying at times. He loves to beat around the bush and takes Buddy on a journey before getting to the answer. Heading to Buddy’s job was a bad move though because it really got Buddy into trouble and he could have been fired for something like that.

Overall, I’d recommend checking this book out. If you haven’t played the Bendy game or are unsure of how you would enjoy it, then you should read this book. If anything it makes sense to read this book before you play the game because it’s just a great introduction to the game. The book takes place before the game as well so it makes sense to do the prequel first. It’ll also make you look at the game a lot closer. The book really does a great job of expanding the franchise. So long as you can get past Buddy you’ll be in for an enjoyable adventure here.

Overall 6/10

Bendy and the Ink Machine: Employee Handbook Review


It’s time to look at the Bendy guidebook that came out a while back. I like the angle of calling it an Employee Handbook as it guides you through the inner workings of the company. The first half of the book is basically a walkthrough of the game and then the second half gives you illustrations, concept art, and fun facts. It’s a fun way to learn more about the universe of Bendy. Also if you missed out on a lot of the audio tapes like me you get to see them all here which is pretty cool.

It’s been a long while since I’ve written a book review and this one doesn’t technically have a plot so it’s definitely a nice way to jump back in. There’s really nothing negative to say about the book because it does a really good job of getting you the information you need. The writer had a lot of fun with the script here as there are a bunch of inside jokes. Things take a sinister turn now and then with the narrarator always having a passive aggressive tone. They let you know that taking vacations is not going to happen here and double down on the fact that you should be really happy at the job.

You learn through clippings and employee quotes that most of them aren’t getting paid for the overtime they put in. Additionally they have to work in a very noisy environment and there is a ton of office gossip. It sounds like Drew really got more and more corrupt as time went on. He didn’t even give too much credit to the guy who built the amusement park for Bendy. As the book goes on you really see how the whole thing spiraled out of control. I think all of the blame can really fall to Joey here though. He seemed to know or at least suspect that something wasn’t up but did nothing to stop it. He pit employees against each other and kept making the work conditions worse until something had to give. His special projects also ate away at all of the organization’s budget until it naturally had to go under.

Sammy definitely seems like the diciest person on the staff. He appeared to be losing his mind early on so it doesn’t even come as a surprise when he goes off the deep end. His appearance was one of the most powerful moments of the whole game though and I was a little sad that we didn’t get more development for him in the book. He’s a pivotal figure and while this is the kind of series where we likely will never get all of the answers, it will still be cool to learn a little more about him.

I did learn how to draw Bendy at the end of the book which was pretty cool. I didn’t try to draw his partners yet since they seem a little more complex but I’ll add that to the bucket list. It’s a nice little addition that I’m glad made it into the book. I also took a look at the bacon soup recipe which sounds reasonable, but I’m not a big soup fan so I’ll probably skip on that. I feel like I’m not a big fan of soup because I like my food to be solid. It would explain why pudding and jello don’t really rank for me either. I’ll eat em all of course, but they aren’t my first choice.

There’s not much else to say here but I’m ready for that Bendy sequel. I know they are saying it’s not a total sequel in some ways, but I really hope it is. Maybe that’ll be some kind of plot twist. Really the game doesn’t even need to answer any plot questions, I’m just ready to learn more about the time loop and fighting off Bendy a little more. It’s impressive how many theory videos there are about Bendy. That’s the kind of following you get when the writing is on point and you build such an interesting lore into the game.

Overall, The Employee Handbook is a pretty fun book to read through. It’s definitely helpful for trying to get the Platinum in the Bendy game since they show you all the collectible locations and give you tips along the way. You could even read it as you play through the game although I wouldn’t recommend it since part of the experience is experiencing everything first hand. The book would spoil some aspects for you if you’re doing both simultaneously. Even if you don’t buy the game it’s a pretty interesting look at the back-end and maybe it’ll even convince you to buy the game. It’ll definitely have succeeded in a major way if that’s the case.

Overall 7/10

Itachi’s Story: Daylight/Midnight Review


It’s time to look art the two part Itachi adventure spread across these two novels. At this point you are likely familiar with Itachi’s story as it was explained around 10 times in the anime and is constantly brought up. These novels add more details to the period before Itachi actually ended up murdering his clan. This way you can better understand his rationale and what caused him to tip over the edge. How much you enjoy the novels will likely depend on if you can buy into any kind of justification for murdering a whole clan and as there is none it can get tricky. Prequels like this tend to suffer from one tricky element that is hard to get around. The ending is written in stone and can’t be changed so no matter how heroic the character tries to be, it is ultimately futile. I remember another prequel being like this, but I can’t recall which one.

Well, the novel starts with Itachi growing up. At first he is a kid who is forced to learn about the outside world and the brutal realities of the Ninja War. Eventually he grows to accept it, but decides that when he is strong he will be able to change the world. He’ll become Hokage and end all of this. In the mean time he has to be careful because the Uchiha clan want him to be a spy on the Hidden Leaf Village while the Anbu want him to spy on the Uchiha. He obtains a high ranking position among both groups. Both groups intend on murdering the other so Itachi is unsure what he can do. No matter what he will end up betraying somebody.

I’m quickly going to jump into the ending here because it’s really the main problem with this duology. Throughout both books Itachi is painted as being a very nice guy. He’s apparently quite the pacifist who even acts timid for quite a while. The only scenes where he becomes a lot harder and more out of control are the ones from the manga which have to be re-adapted. As such, the ending really comes out of nowhere. It never feels like the narrative was building up to Itachi murdering everyone until it happens. The justification for it is still as weak as it ever was. Danzo and his group are effectively blackmailing Itachi at the end, but why should he obey them?

Danzo ordered the execution of Itachi’s best friend and has been doing everything he can to ensure that the Uchiha clan would be destroyed. He eliminated the only option for peace by getting rid of Shinsui. Itachi even half heartedly tried to avenge his friend. Why go from there to suddenly agreeing with Danzo and murdering his family? The only reason for this is that it had to be that way. That’s how the story is supposed to end. It’s still the biggest problem with prequels like this. The story tries to have him save face by placing his friend in a genjutsu as he destroys her so she doesn’t feel like it, but that’s not even a silver lining. To ease his own conscience Itachi lets Madara destroy the women and children, but that is still as guilty as doing it yourself.

The ultimate rationale for this is that if Itachi didn’t wipe out the Uchiha then both sides would have had many casualties. While that seemed very likely if not inevitable, it’s still not a choice that he should have made. I also wouldn’t trust Sasuke’s safety with the village after this. Sure, he had their word, but what’s to stop Danzo from setting up another “accident?” Itachi could try to out him with his info, but that wouldn’t do much at that point. Clearly the best thing to do would have been to just make the situation known to everyone. A civil war would likely occur but at least some people would live rather than none. Of course the other villages may attack as well, but with this many ifs it isn’t as if there is an option that is risk free.

So the second volume definitely finishes the series off on a low note, but overall the duology is fairly well written. Itachi’s story makes for a pretty good parallel to Kakashi’s. Both of them are prodigies who quickly joined the Anbu and started to turn the tides of the war. The leaf village was really lucky to get so many highly skilled ninja at their disposal. I think the series is at its best when Itachi is on missions with the Anbu. I think focusing on that part is certainly best, but as I mentioned the rest of it is very interesting too. Just cut out the ending and then this story would be complete.

Danzo and his group are just very annoying. They get away with everything including literal murder. The Hokage is heavily implied to know what is going on, but simply doesn’t care enough to help. That’s why I never liked the Third Hokage and I was rooting for Sasuke to take down the village. The place is just so corrupt and everyone always seems to get away scott free. Even not arresting Orochimaru in the Boruto series is highly suspect at best. The guy is responsible for countless crimes, why are they being swept under the rug? These novels show just how shady the village is and why it’s hard to like any of those guys.

Naruto gets a cameo which was cool. Apparently Itachi was also able to be nice to him back in the day. Before he ended up snapping Itachi is shown to be one of the nicest guys around. He’s a genius while staying humble. If you don’t like it when a character gets too much hype then this could annoy you, but I’m fine with it. Some characters just are that perfect, it’s fine. It also does make for a very intimidating villain since it’s not as if Itachi lost those skills when he turned over to the other side. Given how Itachi’s mission was to look out for the Leaf though, I do think that hanging out with the Akatsuki was super risky at times though. It’s good to be close to the villains of course, but I feel like after a while Itachi’s goal shifted from protecting Sasuke and the village to purely be focused on Sasuke. Not a bad thing of course and the village doesn’t deserve his protection anyway, but time probably clouded his thinking.

Overall, The Itachi novels definitely add a lot of details to his sob story. Even though we’ve been through this many times in the show already, it definitely does add some insight that you couldn’t already know. How much that matters will depend on the person. I have to shave some points off for the terrible ending, but beyond that the books are solid and I’d recommend checking them out. Itachi may be gone in the present day stories, but his sacrifice did ultimately help Sasuke become one of the greatest Ninja out there. The village also seems to be in a better spot than it used to be so at least things won’t always be corrupt there. Naruto needs to keep everyone on a short leash and he has the power to do so. We better not get another Danzo type situation. With this one done I’ll start on the Sasuke novel soon. I expect that one will triumph. After all, Sasuke’s the main character!

Overall 5/10

Pokemon: Scyther, Heart of a Champion Review


It’s time for a retro Pokémon adventure. This one definitely adapts some intriguing adventures that make you wonder just how strong the Pokémon really are. Despite the power level moments being puzzling this is still one of the better books since there is a lot of action. As usual there are two stories to be found here so I’ll talk about both of them.

The first story has our heroes walking through the forest when they encounter an injured Scyther. It apparently lost a battle for clan leadership since he is old now and has been cast away. The rules for the clan are that you have to leave if you lose. It’s pretty sad for Scyther but when you remember that he has done the same to many others (Since it’s referenced that he has won many times and only lost this one due to age) then the sympathy goes down a little bit. Still, he wants one more chance to fight for leadership so in the meantime Tracey captures him. Scyther isn’t pleased to say the least but then Team Rocket shows up so they will have to grudgingly team up.

Scyther has always had a cool design but I don’t like what they did with him in the show. I don’t think Pokémon should ever become senior citizens, especially since that whole concept seems to vanish later on. Just as importantly, they could have made him old without making him ancient. That would have made him much better if you ask me. As it stands, he is old but still gets a lot of hype and is treated as a very strong Pokémon. He was saved by the guy who overthrew him though and so I can’t buy into him being an actual rival for Charizard. I suppose none of this is Scyther’s fault though and I can’t be mad at him for still being feisty and ready for combat.

It’s not a bad story and in fact it’s a pretty important one since Tracey finally gets a new Pokémon to fight at his side. It’s pretty straightforward though as Team Rocket is the only threat here and you could argue that they have never been a threat before so why start now? The fact that the book implies they were about to win is pretty funny if you ask me. I do like that Ash was the first to think of the idea of capturing Scyther in order to take him to the Pokémon Center. This is the main character that I grew up with. A kid who was always jumping into action as opposed to being confused.

The big story of the volume has Ash and friends enjoying a good time when a trainer shows up to challenge him. The guy thinks Ash looks tough so he will make for a worthy opponent. Ash agrees and goes up against this guy but his Pikachu gets downed in a single hit and Charizard does no better. In fact, Charizard loses so badly that his life is in danger now so Ash might have to rethink using his Pokémon in such dangerous fights from now on…or quickly go for the rematch.

The elephant in the room here is that a Pokémon should certainly not get near fatally wounded from a single attack. Not to mention that it was an ice attack against a fire type. Many solutions will pop into your head like why doesn’t Ash put Charizard in a Pokeball and run to the Pokémon Center or whip out a Hyper Potion. I feel like the Pokeball trick didn’t work in the anime and the book may have mentioned that but this is just as strange. Why wouldn’t it work? If objects like ice can block a Pokeball’s power then that really is a pretty big problem. If Pokémon fights really are this dangerous then it does give N and his followers a leg to stand on when they say that Pokémon fights are barbaric and must be stopped. Their lives are clearly being put at risk in every fight if this episode is to be believed. Either way I always thought their ideology was pretty interesting but let’s stay on topic.

The only lesson Ash learns from this is to go right back and fight the guy again. Sure, they dodge this time but what if the attack had actually landed? Then they would have been in the same position only Charizard would be a lot weaker this time around. Ash should have either turned down the fight or brought out Pikachu again. As an Ash fan part of me is glad he didn’t turn down the fight but the stakes sure increased here. I thought in the anime he only reason the Poliwrath was so strong was because he had on some kind of equipment that boosted his attack but maybe I was misremembering since here he book treats the belt like a normal one that isn’t actually affecting the fight.

Finally I also have to question how Pikachu was so thoroughly humiliated in this fight. Sure, the Thunderbolt didn’t work and that was the first cause for concern. Even ignoring the type advantage, Pikachu should be at a crazy high level by now. Then Pikachu should still be quick enough to dodge the counter blow and durable enough to endure it. Pikachu was incredibly lowballed in this episode for the plot’s and as a loyal fan that was a little disappointing. Controversial Opinion time, I think Pikachu could take down Charizard in a fair fight. Still, ignoring this, it was cool to have a new trainer who could fight at such a high level. It’s too bad he never appeared again since the guy was definitely skilled. Having him show up in the next Pokémon League Championships would have been a really cool way to go about it.

Overall, this is definitely a pretty good Pokemon book. Both stories are fun and hold up well in their own right, but the second story is definitely the best one. Most of the story is about the big fights and we finally have a Poliwrath who is looking good. That Pokémon has a great design so I am certainly glad to see him getting the hype he deserves. This part of the Pokémon anime is still nostalgic from the good ole days and I look forward to the day when the anime gets back on track from this Sun and Moon saga. It’s stayed it’s course and we need more serious fights like the one this volume has. The suspense and drama have vanished in the newer episodes.

Overall 7/10

Pokemon Sun and Moon: Battle for the Z Ring Review


It’s time to look at the next installment in the Pokémon Sun and Moon season. The first one was a reasonable start to the quasi reboot and this one is actually an improvement as we get our first serious island challenge which is basically just a gym battle. It’s not exactly Kanto just yet but it still makes for a decent volume nonetheless. Hopefully the series can keep up the momentum.

Ash wants to obtain a new Z crystal since his last one broke when he fought the island guardian. The local professor tells him how he can get another one and the answer is that he must beat the human guardian. Ash goes over there to fight but the guardian tells him that he has to solve the island’s rat problem first. A bunch of Pokémon are blocking the way and making a nuisance of themselves so Ash has to go to a cave and defeat some powerful Pokémon so he can team up with them and save the day. Can Ash win all of his matches in this volume?

The local head tries to tell Ash that battling isn’t always the answer and that’s the point of the trial. However, combat was the answer to winning and saving the island so I found that whole part ironic. Perhaps it was intentional but it’s hard to say. What makes this volume better than the last one is definitely all of the battles. Ash has to face off against at least 3 different opponents and he does a good job against all of them. Ash actually uses some strategy and while he seems to be a newbie at life (Forgetting basic Pokémon) at least he is quickly becoming a better trainer. Seeing him defeat the leader and use Pikachu’s new attack was definitely great. The series seems to be hinting that Ash will get a new attack for each type which will be pretty interesting. He will probably pick the thunder move but I personally found this one to be a lot more impressive. It’s essentially quick attack but even faster which will be great for overwhelming opponents. Maybe Ash will choose this one though, that’d be cool. It was also nostalgic seeing Hariyama again since that Pokémon is pretty cool. I love the design and he always struck me as one of the stringer fighting types. I think I’ll always have a lot of nostalgia for the first 3 generations.

Ash is surprisingly on his own for most of the volume as the friends just don’t get much screen time. They appear for a brief instant to remind Ash that he’s being petty about the cat stealing his food and also give him an idea about saving the island. I suppose their role was important after all even if it was so small. Aside from the big battle plot, the first few chapters were about Ash and Litikitty. That was definitely the weaker part of the volume. It wasn’t bad or anything but it definitely wasn’t as exciting as the action part.

Pikachu looks really good which is always a plus in my book. I’ve said this a million times over the years but at this point he should easily be level 100 so I don’t want to see him losing against anyone. Pikachu should be able to claim victory no matter the opponent. That’s just how it should be. Ash will need more Pokémon though as Rowlett just isn’t an amazing backup. He’s not really much of a fighter and constantly falling asleep isn’t doing him any favors either. Once Ash has a team of 6 then he will really be set.

Overall, I’d say that the books are doing a good job of adapting the episodes. The book is quite small so the author does a good job of not overdoing it with the details so we can still cover a lot of ground. These little books are always a good format for such adaptions and while you know that it’s definitely not going to make it all the way, hopefully we get a lot of volumes before it finishes. That’s the dream at any rate. I wonder when the next big Totem Battle (I think that’s the correct term) will be. I stopped following the anime early on so I can’t say that I know much of the specifics aside from big moments like Brock and Misty showing up. As long as we get battles like this every volume, the series should continue to go smoothly.

Overall 7/10

The Haunting of Hill House Review


The Haunting on Hill House is definitely a unique adventure. The characters are all rather calm about the situation but in a rather odd way. Every character seems to be crazy already which is probably why they were invited to begin with. Hill House definitely doesn’t pull any punches once night occurs.

The plot starts off with Montague deciding to head off to Hill House to run some experiments. He decides to invite a few people with supernatural experience since he could use some backup and perhaps they will sense something he could not. These characters are Eleanor and Theodora. Luke also comes since he owns the house while Montague is merely renting it. Is the house haunted or is it merely in the minds of the characters? That’s left for you to decide as things get a little crazy but one thing’s for sure, things will never be the same for these chaps once they leave.

So like I mentioned earlier, the dialogue is all very off. Likely an intentional decision so it’s not bad writing but it does make you wonder about the characters and how far from reality they are. For example, the maid has a tendency of repeating herself and telling the same things to everyone no matter who they are. She may have been the best character to be honest. As she said, supper is served on the dot and she leaves before dark. She has her iron clad rules and doesn’t deviate from them no matter what. You have to admire her dedication and the rest of the characters quickly learned how the system worked that way. Her husband wasn’t quite as fun and only showed up once so he definitely wasn’t meant to be a big character. His threats worked pretty well on the main character but no one else was going to be messed with.

That’s one thing I liked about Montague. Since he rented the house, he always talks about how the others need to know their place. That being said, he is all talk and never actually does anything about it. He does his best to keep the group together and might be the best character in the book. Luke is fairly good as well. He doesn’t believe in ghosts as much as the rest of them and never even gets scared by what is happening in the house. He takes it all in stride and seems to genuinely enjoy the experience. At least someone was having fun right?

Eleanor is the main character by unfortunately she is the worst one. She suffers from low confidence the whole time and doubts every move that she’s makes. Eleanor also basically goes crazy early on but you could make the case that she was already like that when the book began. It would explain her point of view for the book and everyone’s reactions to some of her antics. I imagine she didn’t act quite the same as she claims too. She really put up resistance to leaving the gang by the end and then her sudden finish seals the deal. She was amusing at least though. Definitely a creepy person to be around if you were actually in the house though.

Theodora was definitely the most intense character. She is very outgoing unlike the others and can be very morbid which is an interesting combination. She gets along with everyone even if she finds Eleanor to be too clingy. Towards the end the two do start to subtly insult each other a lot but I’m probably on Theodora’s side here since Eleanor was trying to invite herself over which is never the polite thing to do. Just because you meet a friend on a job doesn’t necessarily mean you suddenly want to have them around all the time. Eleanor did her best to get everyone against her.

I can’t speak for any possible adaptions but in the book at least I think it’s safe to say that the house was not haunted. Most of the tricks could be explained with science like how the building was slanted and that’s why the doors would close. Everything adds up this way. Any possible noises during the night were probably just Eleanor panicking and trying to scare everyone.

Honestly if I had been invited to the house, I probably would have had a blast. The main characters did very little investigating if you think about it and spent most of the time just having picnics and playing chess. Essentially it was like a vacation with free food. In a time without electronics that definitely seems like a fun experience since the things in town may have gotten old by that point.

Overall, The Haunting at Hill House is truly a unique book. I don’t think you will find a cast of characters quite like that one for a while. It’s an engaging atmosphere with how mysterious the air is and all of the strange dialogue being thrown around. I think I would have preferred for the book to have been shown through another character’s point of view although that would run the risk of changing the whole dynamic of the book. Anyway, I’d recommend checking out the book. It’s also pretty short so it won’t take you too long and the pacing is pretty tight. Whether you think the supernatural element is there or if it’s all in Eleanor’s head, it’s a fun story.

Overall 7/10

My Little Pony: The Elements of Harmony Volume II Review


It’s time to check out the new My Little Pony guidebook. I read the last one almost 4 years ago so it has certainly been a while. I suppose that makes sense since each guidebook covers 3 seasons of the show and it takes a while for those to be produced. As it stands, I can’t see a third volume coming out for a long time since I think it is currently only 1 season out of date. It’s a very informative book and I can honestly say that it is pretty much perfect for learning about the ponies. I dare say that Megaman.exe and Transformers still had the most colorful and immersive guidebooks on the block, but this one keeps it close.

There are several sections in the book. First we take a look at the main ponies of course. The book talks about the Mane 6, their friends, allies, enemies, etc. It also talks about the surrounding areas and just about everything you need to know about the basics of Equestria. This section is always pretty fun and even if you already know most of the characters, it’s nice to see their write ups. It’s an essential part of every guidebook.

There is also a small section at the very end of the guidebook which talks about the songs. It writes down all of the lyrics for them so you can really appreciate the writing. I’m guessing they only chose some songs as I doubt there were 3 seasons worth of lyrics in there, but maybe there weren’t as many musical episodes as I had expected. The songs were nice although it’s always a lot more enjoyable to actually listen to them than read the lyrics.

The bulk of the book and the section where you’ll spend the most time are the episode descriptions. The guidebook goes through each and every episode from seasons 4 through 6 and gives a detailed look at what happens. They even post the moral to each episode on the bottom of the page. This is one of those areas that separates the guidebook from the rest. I can’t think of any other guidebook that does such a great job of showing you all of the episodes. You could theoretically be able to start season 7 feeling confident that you know everything if you read this guidebook. (And the last one of course)

There aren’t a whole lot of bonus features beyond that so I’ve pretty much mentioned everything there is to know about this one. So it’s pretty basic with the episode summaries being the main thing that makes it a lot of fun. Without it I’d probably have to dock a star, but it’s good enough with that feature. You’ll find yourself breezing through the book as you eagerly catch up on the latest pony knowledge. Now lets talk about some of the bonus features that the book could have had though.

I think some sections that could have made the book a lot more detailed would have been a nice Q and A section. Seeing the writers and voice actors talk about the characters and answer questions from fans would have been nice. Maybe hintings at future episodes or at Derpy’s big upcoming role would have been neat. Maybe some character popularity polls like which MLP characters are the most popular or something of that nature. These are all things that could have made the book more epic. “Top 10 MLP fights” may not be applicable for the average fan but what about something like top 10 songs or top 10 episodes? Those are a must for the average guidebook. Maybe what this series can do is make the next volume come out after 2 seasons instead of 3 and then they can pack in the empty space with some of these bonus features. Just a suggestion, but I do think it would make the book even better.

Overall, You’ll enjoy this guidebook. The only way you wouldn’t is if you aren’t an MLP fan, but if so then I doubt you’d be reading this in the first place. I suppose it could be a good launching on point for fans who haven’t had time to watch the show but in that case I would hope that you would have read the first voluem first. That would definitely be beneficial. It’s been a while since I read a guidebook, but maybe more will pop up at some point. They seem like an easy thing for a franchise to do so I wish more would do them. Imagine a nice Pokemon version where it’ll cover all of the episodes in a region? That’d be really nice. Meanwhile, now I just need to wait for my library to get the next My Little Pony comic to continue this marathon of the franchise.

Overall 8/10