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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Manga Review: Hanky Panky by Koreaki Kamuro


Rating (Out of 5): ~3
Publisher: Deux Press/Aurora Publishing
Release Date: 2008
Volumes: 1.
Spoilers?: No.
Buy it here: Amazon. Barnes and Noble.

Goodreads Synopsis:

From Super-Geek... To Super-Hot!

Geeky, glasses-wearing college student Manaka is always getting picked on at school, especially by his popular classmate Doi. But... once night falls, the glasses are ditched and this super-geek secretly becomes a super-hot host club owner! What is Manaka to do when Doi aspires to become a host at the same club?! There's no telling what hanky panky they'll be up to!

Review:

This was a pretty average yaoi one-shot. All short stories, none of it really stands out for me.
The title story is about two classmates, one who only notices the other when his glasses are off and he’s working as a host, surprised to find out he’s also the classmate he teases at school.
The artwork is very average, the expressions just okay and the smut average. I didn’t connect with any of the characters, and there wasn’t much development for most of the stories. Fast-paced, and short.
Just meh, mostly.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Manga Review: Knights of Sidonia, Volume 1, by Tsutomo Nihei


Rating (Out of 5): ~2.5-3
Publisher: Vertical Comics
Release Date: 2013
Volumes: 15.
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 2.

Goodreads Synopsis:

“CORE EXPOSED”

Outer space, the far future.

A lone seed ship, the Sidonia, plies the void, ten centuries since the obliteration of the solar system. The massive, nearly indestructible, yet barely sentient alien life forms that destroyed humanity’s home world continue to pose an existential threat.

Nagate Tanikaze has only known life in the vessel’s bowels deep below the sparkling strata where humans have achieved photosynthesis and new genders. Not long after he emerges from the Underground, however, the youth is bequeathed a treasured legacy by the spaceship’s coolheaded female captain.

Meticulously drawn, peppered with clipped humor, but also unusually attentive to plot and structure for the international cult favorite, Knights of Sidonia may be Tsutomu Nihei’s most accessible work to date even as it hits notes of tragic grandeur as a hopeless struggle for survival unfolds.

Review:

I think maybe this is a slow starting series. It must be, given how much people like this series. Because this volume was slow and did not pull me in. Maybe I’m just not a sci-fi person, though.
We’re thrown into the story, a weird space-based world, where there are aliens to fight. Nagate has been living separated from everyone else, though, and doesn’t even realize that there are other humans around that could help him. He’s one of the few humans left who eat real food, and he has no real training with space-fighting and the machines, but he’s been using one in secret.
It’s odd to me how he’s been hiding without realizing there are other humans so close by, and yet he stumbled upon them all of a sudden now that he’s alone. Either way, though, he’s living in an odd world and pushed into helping fight. It gets bad, bloody and deadly, and doesn’t end well for them, either.
Maybe it is that I’m just not a sci-fi person, because I’m not really interested in picking up the next one. This one was slow and odd, and didn’t pull me into the story, world, or characters.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Manga Review: Priceless, Volume 3, by Young-You Lee


Rating (Out of 5): ~3
Publisher: Tokyopop
Release Date: 2006.
Volumes: 3.
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1. 2.

Goodreads Synopsis:

When Jimmy begins attending Lang-bee's school, he decides to take Dan under his wing--but more for his own selfish reasons. Jimmy tells Dan that he's training him to become the type of man that Lang-bee would want, but he's really using Dan as his own personal servant! From Young-You Lee, the creator of Kill Me Kiss Me, comes the final volume of the romantic love triangle that's filled with delicious gossip, a false alarm, and one important basketball shot...in a word: Priceless! 

Review:

Meh. That’s mostly how I feel about this series.
Lang-bee is living on her own after her mother runs off, leaving her with debt and finding odd jobs to pay it off and her living expenses. When a guy her age shows up claiming to be her mothers new guy, he proves only to be more of a hassle. Then there’s Dan, who has somehow fallen for Lang-bee and is very protective of her.
I do think the ending was nice, I suppose. I liked that a romance didn’t form between Lang-bee and Jimmy, and that she does kind of get with Dan, in an odd way. But mostly I didn’t grow attached to the characters, I didn’t love them, and the ending felt a little meh, like there should have been more.
It was okay in the end.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Manga Review: Livingstone, Volume 2, by Tomohiro Maekawa and Jinsei Kataoka


Rating (Out of 5): ~3-3.5
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: March 2016
Volumes: 4.
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1. 3.

Goodreads Synopsis:

THE BUSINESS OF SOULS

Sakurai has been working with Y.K. Livingstone for a little over six months, so you would think he'd get the hang of things by now. However, his job—to clean and collect the physical form of the soul—comes with unique challenges that make things a little difficult… What's worse, he's been paired up with a partner who would rather play videogames than work. Dealing with life and death can be heavy business, from witnessing the power of emotional attachment, working with local law enforcement, to questioning whether animals have souls, Sakurai definitely seems to have his work cut out for him...

Review:

This series is very intriguing. It’s odd, and very dark at times, with odd humor. It’s enjoyable, but it’s also not really grabbing me with its characters.
There are several cases in this volume, each one violent and sad. A couple in which the girl keeps turning violent and beating up her boyfriend; a surgery that went wrong and the father who knows the hospital did wrong; even a little girl who’s possessed by an adult seductress. A little boy and his pet bird who gets hurt, when his father is remarrying a foreign woman.
We do meet another partnership collecting souls, who argue with our main characters.
I find the characters interesting, but I don’t really feel like I know them, and I’m not attached. The humor can be funny, but there isn’t much of it. I’m intrigued, but only half-heartedly. I probably will pick up the next one when I get the chance, though, since this is a short series.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Manga Review: The Flowers of Evil, Volume 1, by Shuzo Oshimi


Rating (Out of 5): ~3
Publisher: Vertical Comics
Release Date: 2012
Volumes: 11.
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 2.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Takao Kasuga is a bookworm. And his favorite book right now is Baudelaire's Flowers of Evil. While the young man may often be seen lost in thought as he rabidly consumes page after page, Takao is not much of a student. Actually when we are first introduced to the middle school teen, we find him sneaking some reading as he receives and F on a recent language exam.

Nakagawa is known as the class bully. When she is not receiving zeros she is usually muttering profanities to those around her. While she doesn't care for books or their readers, she does have a thing for troublemakers. Takao may not be one, but having read over his shoulder a few times, she knows he is not very innocent. If anything he is bored and aware of it.

Together, by chance, they shake up their entire rural community as Takao tries to break out of his shell in a random moment of passion and affection...not directed towards Nakamura. And contrary to Takao's predictions, the girl he was falling for, Nanako Saeki, responds by eventually accepting the bibliophile for who he is. Or at least, who she thinks he is.

And therein lies the conflict. Takao is not a hero. He is not trouble-maker, either. He is a regular teen who through equal moments of cowardice and chivalry takes a long step towards adulthood as he desperately tries to cover up a dark secret. Takao Kusuga has stolen an item precious to someone he is attracted to, and if he doesn't form a "contract" with his new best friend, she is going to tell.

Review:

This was… weird.
I know I was expecting it to be odd and dark, but I didn’t know how much. Instead, it was weird, and maybe even a little unsettling.
When Nakamura finds out that Kasuga has a crush on Saeki, and that he stole her gym uniform, she decides to start using him, even blackmailing him. Taunting him with his wants, making him feel like even more of a freak. Already his classmates start teasing him about his crush, he’s worried about them finding out what he’s done.
Nakamura is creepy, and she’s seriously crazy. She freaks me out. Kasuga is not a particularly good character—he’s weird, and he has odd thoughts and wants of his own. His classmates are terrible, mostly, not nice people or friends to him. But Nakamura is worse.
I mostly feel weird and unsettled after reading this. I don’t know if I’ll pick up any more.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Manga Review: Honey So Sweet, Volume 6, by Amu Meguro


Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Publisher: Shojo Beat (VIZ Media)
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Volumes: 8.
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1. 5. 7.

Goodreads Synopsis:

A charming high school romance between a tender hooligan and an orphaned girl with enchanting artwork by Amu Meguro.

Little did Nao Kogure realize back in middle school that when she left an umbrella and a box of bandages in the rain for injured delinquent Taiga Onise she would meet him again in high school. Nao wants nothing to do with the gruff and frightening Taiga, but he suddenly presents her with a huge bouquet of flowers and asks her to date him—with marriage in mind! Is Taiga really so scary, or is he a sweetheart in disguise?

Although Nao Kogure was once afraid of the delinquent Taiga Onise, she was soon touched by his kind soul. Nao and Taiga’s romance is as strong as ever, and even Misaki and Yashiro are getting along. Nao plans a surprise birthday party for Onise, but on the day of the event she unknowingly gets mixed up with another injured delinquent.

Review:

We meet a pair of twins in this volume. One, Ryo, is a fan of Taiga, and is trying to be around him as much as possible, and he's not a particular fan of Nao. His twin, Miyabi, on the other hand is extremely quiet. She has a hard time talking, and it takes her a long time to respond, leading to people thinking she's rude. I like seeing Taiga bond with her over her hardship with other people, and like seeing her growing more confident. I get her.
We get to see the scene from when Taiga first met Nao, what he was going through in their past. It's a nice glimpse. Then there's that cliffhanger, which is both funny and bad. Bad for Nao, but it's obvious that Miyabi doesn't quite understand yet.
This series is so very adorable. I can't wait for the next one.

 A review copy was provided by the publisher, VIZ Media, for an honest review. Thank you so, so much!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Manga Review: That Wolf-Boy is Mine!, Volume 2, by Yoko Nogiri


Rating (Out of 5): ~3-3.5
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: November 2016
Volumes: 4.
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1. 3.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Komugi's not sure what to expect when her family moves to the remote northern island of Hokkaido, and she starts at a new high school. But she certainly didn't expect a boy to come up to her and say, "Gee... you smell good, somehow!" That boy is Yu Ogami, and Komugi finds herself strangely drawn to him. But when she sees him in an unguarded moment, she discovers he's a werewolf! Now she has a choice to make: to keep his secret, or to ask for help and risk angering a wolf-boy?

Review:

In this volume, mostly we see Komugi struggling with her feelings. She's trying to act normal, because that's what Yu wants. It's hard, though, to pretend she doesn't feel this way.
We meet a new character, the father figure in the animal family. Komugi also starts wondering about her family, and if there's something in her that makes her different.
Despite how Rin acts like a jerk to Komugi, we're seeing that his actions are opposite, because he's always around her. He shows up way too often, and even has Yu becoming suspicious and jealous. A clear triangle is forming there.
The author is trying to add some light psychological elements here, like how Komugi is wanting to help Yu, because of Yu's history with humans but his want to be near them. Then the possible deeper sense of Komugi being biologically special from other humans. But mostly, it just seems too underdeveloped at this point. The romance is going too quickly, as well, and doesn't feel like it's taking enough time to really form complexities.
I'm enjoying this series so far, but it's a little underwhelming, and there just doesn't seem to be enough there yet.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Manga Review: Narration of Love at 17 by Kyungok Kang

Rating (Out of 5): ~2.5
Publisher: Netcomics
Release Date: 2006
Volumes: 4.
Spoilers?: No.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Seyoung is an ordinary 17-year-old schoolgirl who plays mediocre roles in her school's drama productions. Her real-life drama develops as she finds herself falling for her childhood playmate Hyunwoo, who he is drifting away from her and toward a TV star schoolmate named Hyemi. When Seyoung works up the nerve to profess her feelings to Hyunwoo, he thinks she is merely working on her acting Seyoung lives out her youth as if the entire world is a stage, but as she basks in the bright lights of innocence she seeks someone in the audience to recognize the light within her. Written by Korea's eminent writer Kyungok Kang, Narration of Love at 17 is a classic that will take you for a ride back to reliving your first love.

Review:

This series starts off very slow, and it was so hard to keep reading. Story and time skips forward and it was hard to follow, there wasn’t enough development to make me care, it was boring, nor particularly nice to look at (the covers are prettier than the inside).
By the second half of the third volume, and then into this one, it was easier. Easier to follow the characters and who they were and what they wanted. It was feeling more fluid and not so jerky. By the end of the series, I was okay with it. It was easier to read, but I still didn’t particularly care about the characters. I did like the Captain, and I liked that Seyoung and Hyunjung were real friends and that they truly cared about each other. But otherwise I didn’t care about Seyoung much, nor did I feel her lasting cruch on Yunho or her envy toward the other girls.
Then the ending, which is so open and just kind of ends at a point. I’m mostly just disappointed with this series, and glad to be done with it.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Teaser Tuesday[244]: Confessions of a Mask by Yukio Mishima

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

----------------------------------------------

Confessions of a Mask by Yukio Mishima
Genre: Adult Fiction, Japanese Literature
Publisher: New Directions Publishing
Release Date: 1958

Goodreads Synopsis:

Confessions of a Mask is the story of an adolescent who must learn to live with the painful fact that he is unlike other young men. Mishima's protagonist discovers that he is becoming a homosexual in polite, post-war Japan. To survive, he must live behind a mask of propriety.

Christopher Isherwood comments—"One might say, 'Here is a Japanese Gide,'....But no, Mishima is himself—a very Japanese Mishima; lucid in the midst of emotional confusion, funny in the midst of despair, quite without pomposity, sentimentality or self-pity. His book, like no other, has made me understand a little of how it feels to be Japanese. I think it is greatly superior, as art and as a human document to his deservedly praised novel, The Sound of Waves."

Excerpt:

That day, the instant I looked upon the picture, my entire being trembled with some pagan joy.” (Paperback, pg. 40)

I'm reading it for my Japanese Lit class, and figured why not?
What are you reading right now?

Monday, April 10, 2017

Manga Review: He's My Only Vampire, Volume 5, by Aya Shouoto

Rating (Out of 5): ~3.5
Publisher: Yen Press
Release Date: 2015
Volumes: 10.
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1. 4. 6.

Goodreads Synopsis:

"Forget all love and thirst only for blood..."
Acquiring a third Stigma took a heavy toll on Aki's body. To help him recuperate, Kana and the others plan a trip to a cozy hot-spring resort deep in the mist-shrouded mountains. Little do they know, this outing will open the sinister door of Aki's "original sin," and his hidden past will finally come to light!!

Review:

We’re finally getting some development here!
There’s some fighting, some fluff, some politics in the first half of the volume. But the really interesting stuff is when we get to see what happened between Kana and the twins when they were little, as she finally gets to remember what happened.
It’s dark and sad, and I feel so bad for Aki. It makes me wonder about Eriya, as well. It ends with a cliffhanger, and I’m sure it’s going to go in a new direction in the next volume, as Kana wakes up and something comes of what she remembers now.
I’m not in love with this, and I’m only slowly continuing the series. I want to love it, but it’s just okay to me. I am intrigued, though, by this new development. I hope to read the next one at some point.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Manga Review: Yona of the Dawn, Volume 5, Mizuho Kusanagi


Rating (Out of 5): ~4.5
Publisher: Shojo Beat (VIZ Media)
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Volumes: 24+
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1. 4. 6.

Goodreads Synopsis:

A red-haired princess loses her family and her kingdom… Now she must rise and fight for her throne!

Princess Yona lives an ideal life as the only princess of her kingdom. Doted on by her father, the king, and protected by her faithful guard Hak, she cherishes the time spent with the man she loves, Su-won. But everything changes on her 16th birthday when tragedy strikes her family!

An earthquake suddenly hits the Village of the Blue Dragon, and Yona and her friends are trapped! Yona manages to escape safely with the help of the Blue Dragon, and she asks him to join her. Meanwhile, Gija senses the presence of the Green Dragon!

Review:

I am seriously obsessed.
The Blue Dragon joins the gang in this volume, and Yona gives him his first real name. He's honestly rather adorable. There's a big scene here where the characters contemplate the use of names and hierarchy; I like it, but I also find the scene with Hak a bit bothersome. I understand her reasoning, but at the same time it feels a bit like she's trying to remind him of his place and keep him at a distance, with her reasoning. I don't know about that.
Yona is given a rather hard view of how the people saw her father here, and what it's like outside. It's hard, and she's trying to accept and be better, and I respect that. Of course, the next dragon shows up in this volume, though Yona hasn't quite met him yet. He's rather opposite of the White dragon, and I'm excited to see more in the next one.
I seriously love this series. Even the humor is so well placed. I need more, even two months isn't fast enough for releases.

 A review copy was provided by the publisher, VIZ Media, for an honest review. Thank you so, so much!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Manga Review: Everyone's Getting Married, Volume 4, by Izumi Miyazono


Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Publisher: Shojo Beat (VIZ Media)
Release Date: March 2017
Volumes: 7+
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1. 3. 5.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Opposites attract—but do they get married?!

Successful career woman Asuka Takanashi has an old-fashioned dream of getting married and becoming a housewife. After her long-term boyfriend breaks up with her to pursue his own career goals, she encounters Ryu Nanami, a popular TV newscaster. Asuka and Ryu get along well, but the last thing he wants is to ever get married. This levelheaded pair who want the opposite things in life should never get involved, except...

Review:

The situation between Ryu and his ex is very clearly bad and dangerous. I don't at all like the way she is hanging around, and the dangerous situations she's put him in. I do think, though, that things might be on the way to better by the end of the volume, and I like Asuka's stance on it.
Then Ryu and Asuka's picture is taken, though her face is conveniently blurry, and they have to be careful and take a short break from being with each other. There's another cliffhanger at the end, though I don't quite think it'll be too serious.
I really like this series. I get excited for each volume, and I really hope more like it get picked up. I love the maturity and the serious relationship--getting both characters' points of view, and that there isn't too much exaggeration.

 A review copy was provided by the publisher, VIZ Media, for an honest review. Thank you so, so much!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Manga Review: Nisekoi: False Love, Volume 20, by Naoshi Komi


Rating (Out of 5): ~3.5-4
Publisher: Shonen Jump (VIZ Media)
Release Date: March 2017
Volumes: 25.
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1. 19. 21.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Love triangle! Comedic antics!! Gang warfare?!

Love triangle! Comedic antics!! Gang warfare?! You won’t want to miss out on Shonen Jump’s laugh-out-loud feel-good manga series!

It’s hate at first sight when Raku Ichijo first meets Chitoge Kirisaki. But much to their chagrin, the two are forced into a false love relationship to keep the peace between their feuding gangster families.

When Marika’s plan to watch the first sunrise of the year with Raku goes awry, they find themselves stranded on an uninhabited island! As Marika’s health begins to fail, will they find a way to see the sunrise? Plus, when Yui turns 20, Night comes to her with a shocking pronouncement: it is time for Yui to get married!

Review:

The series is getting closer to the end, and it's obvious by the way that a couple of the girl contenders are starting to get checked off. In this volume, we see the resolution to Yui's plot, which is surprisingly sweet, honestly. I hadn't been a very big fan of her character, but I do like how she cares for everyone, and how she even has a friendship forming with Chitoge.
Then we're growing toward the conclusion with Marika. It's obvious that she's sick, that something more is wrong than she's letting anyone know. Raku has also been made aware that he needs to be honest with her about his feelings, once and for all, though he feels bad because of how much he really does like her, just as friends not romantically.
There isn't much of a conclusion yet for Chitoge or Onodera yet, but Raku is finally starting to reconsider his feelings, and now he's having a hard time figuring himself out. He's conflicted, and it's driving him crazy. None of the others are particularly as present of contenders—they have crushes, but it's obvious none of them have a chance.
Of course, amongst all this seriousness, there's a lot of comedy and crazy antics. New years comes and goes, and everyone makes a wish at the shrine; the girls also get drunk, again, and attack Raku (Ruri captures and lectures Shu, which is fantastic). I quite liked the moment of their wishes, and seeing everyone side-by-side. Other than that, and the conclusion of the island plot with Marika, there's a lot of Yui.
Of course, I'm enjoying this series a ton. I'm rather excited for the next one.

 A review copy was provided by the publisher, VIZ Media, for an honest review. Thank you so, so much!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Teaser Tuesday[243]: How My Summer Went Up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

-----------------------------------------

How My Summer Went Up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: 2013

Goodreads Synopsis:

First she lost her heart. Then she lost her mind. And now she’s on a road trip to win back her ex. This debut novel’s packed with drama and romance!

Rosie’s always been impulsive. She didn’t intend to set her cheating ex-boyfriend’s car on fire. And she never thought her attempts to make amends could be considered stalking. So when she’s served with a temporary restraining order on the first day of summer vacation, she’s heartbroken—and furious.

To put distance between Rosie and her ex, Rosie’s parents send her on a cross-country road trip with responsible, reliable neighbor Matty and his two friends. Forget freedom of the road, Rosie wants to hitchhike home and win back her ex. But her determination starts to dwindle with each passing mile. Because Rosie’s spark of anger? It may have just ignited a romance with someone new…

Excerpt:

'The tunes range from epic to apropos of location,' he says. 'Like this one.'” (Paperback, pg. 79)

What are you reading?