Hello, y’all! How’s January been treating you? Me, I’m freezing! Some days I can’t seem to wear enough layers to stay warm. Unless it’s a blanket. Accompanied by a cup of tea. And a book. Then I’m cozied right up? What’s your ideal reading situation?
I’ve read quite a few books lately, and this list closes out what I read last in 2021 and opens up what I’ve been reading this new year. It’s an eclectic collection of fantasy, western, paranormal, and everything in between!
Trigun Maximum: Hero Returns – Wild escapades, post-apocalyptic gunslinging western action with a tragic yet goofy hero. After the events of the original series, years have passed with no sign of the man who blasted a hole in the moon. Until Wolfwood comes into town and local thugs bring the legendary gunman out of hiding and back into a dangerous game orchestrated by his own twin brother. I love this story, even if some of the action is a little hard to follow at times.
One-Punch Man: Authenticity – This is the twenty-third volume of the series, so I’m well invested in the story. I’ll admit that, with so many characters involved in the current conflict, the pace has slowed and it feels like the battle is taking forever (welcome to anime/manga in general), but it’s also a jolly riot! Think ‘superhero parody with ridiculous hero names’ and you’ve about nailed it. I’m waiting on pins to see if Garo and Saitama encounter each other for a duel . . .
Tales of Hibaria: The Awakening – Y’all, this book is a work of beauty and delight. Partially for children, partially for adults, this anthology of intertwined stories paints a poignant picture of childhood fear, courage, and power. Each tale stands on its own, and yet woven throughout is a thread of place and purpose that binds them all together, building toward something we cannot yet see, but glimpse the shadows of. Each child in the stories meets with danger, fear, grief, and with guidance are given a decision on how to face them, whether to trust, have faith, and move forward or succumb to the growing darkness – a vibrant picture of the challenges we face in our own world, even as children. The illustrations are evocative, both charming and mysterious with an almost whimsical air that draws you in with a sense of wonderment. They are not just pictures. They tell stories, too, and ask questions that spark the imagination.
The Beautiful Ones – Volume two in the Knights of Tin and Lead series, this book picks up loose threads from the first installment and winds them together with new ones to create a gloriously complex tapestry of fantastical wild west charm. With dragons. We get to see and fight a dragon! Rustle up some outlaws! Tangle with a grizzly bear of a mountain man! Ally with old enemies and find enemies in old allies – that was a twist if ever I saw one, for sure, and it’s starting to make sense. The story breathes with that authentic frontier air we get from all those old westerns, written by hands and a heart that know that world of rugged landscapes and wild vistas and brings it out for us to experience. Every page is full of adventure, mystery, intrigue, heartache, and triumph. I can’t wait for the next one! I need to know more about Peter! RIP my April boys. I shed tears for you.
Trigun Maximum: Death Blue – Wild action, epic crashes, bombastic explosions, conflicting ideals, daring rescues, inexplicable bonds of brotherhood. And the terrible fate of those who dare invade a legend’s home –
Wolf Soldier – This book was so interesting! Based on the Lightraider Academy ministry/universe of Christian games and stories, I recognized immediately the themes and biblical truths suffused throughout the unique world and story. In this book, the power of prayer is literal, and the attacks of the enemy have spiritual/emotional effects alongside the physical–which is true in so many situations and so often left unaddressed. The plot and pacing is engaging, with a discovery, twist, or cliffhanger at the end of every page-turning chapter, and the characters are a hoot. The theme of teamwork and community is strong and so, so valuable, and the personalities and dynamics between characters is so much fun to read. Humor, snark, and wit on every page. And, I mean, Connor’s a shepherd. Shepherds are awesome. I haven’t come across a fantasy quite like this one, unabashed in Christian values without being unbearably cheesy, and now I’m looking forward to how all of these nuggets of foreshadowing are going to unfold!
Trigun Maximum: His Life as a . . . – Nonstop action! Absolute bullet storm! Heartrending illusions! Freaky monsters that won’t die! Bittersweet revelations! All the conviction!
And the intrepid insurance girls. Gotta love those insurance girls.
Mob Psycho 100, volumes 1–6 – These six volumes approximately cover the first season of the show, in case you were wondering. Which you probably weren’t, but now you know! This story is so much fun, quirky and full of heart. It’s the story of a boy who has incredible supernatural power but is shy and awkward around people. He wants to change, and he doesn’t want to rely on his power to do it, but things keep happening that force him to use his gift and he struggles to find the balance. It’s a story of great power vs personal conviction, of growing up, of making mistakes and making them right, of friendship, brotherhood, and realizing that there can be merit even in a scam artist. It’s also hilarious. And suspenseful. And exciting. And all around great.
Gentle Ben – I learned about this book from an author I follow on Instagram, sharing books she liked of the ‘wild frontier’. This one is set in Alaska before it was named a state, about a boy and his pet brown bear. So far I’m knee deep in the story and am absolutely loving it! Mark is such a neat and earnest kid – and I like his parents, too. It’s nice to see loving and supportive parents that are also tough as nails.
What have YOU been reading, y’all? Got any recommendations? Have you read any of these titles? What did you think of them? Do any pique your interest? Which ones?