Graphic Novel Review: Skip*Beat! Volume 24 by Yoshiki Nakamura

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

Valentine’s Day seems like a complicated occasion in Japan.  It’s no wonder it gave Kyoko so much trouble in the 24th volume of Skip*Beat! Her interactions between the men in life are confusing to say the least.  There’s Sho, who tromped on her heart but now reluctantly harbors feelings for her, and Reino, the lead singer of a rival band of Sho’s, who stalked her and now that he’s captured one of Kyoko’s grudges, is demanding chocolates made with “her true feelings” from him before he’ll return what he’s stolen from her.  And then there’s Ren.  Ren.  Ren!  The guy who has gone out of his way to help her navigate the cut-throat world of show biz, but does she give even the slightest regard for his feelings?  No.  No.  No!  Sigh.  Kyoko, you need to worry more about the people who care about you because of who you are, and less about those who only want to manipulate you.

Read more

PR-Viz to Release Ranma 1/2 in Newly Re-Mastered 2-In-1 Manga Format

{ED – And this, folks, is the series that started it all for me.  If you enjoy comedy, martial arts, and gender-bending hijinks, give it a spin.  Just prep at for a long ride, because this manga ran forever!} 

VIZ MEDIA INVITES FANS TO CATCH THE EXCITING RETURN OF RANMA ½ IN A BRAND NEW OMNIBUS MANGA EDITION

Creator Rumiko Takahashi’s Groundbreaking

Gender-Bending Martial Arts Comedy Returns To North America In A Newly Re-Mastered 2-In-1 Manga Format

San Francisco, CA, February 28, 2014 – The wait is almost over as VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), the largest distributor and licensor of anime and manga in North America, announces next month’s exciting release of Rumiko Takahashi’s adored manga (graphic novel) series – RANMA ½ – as newly re-mastered 2-in-1 omnibus editions. The opening volume debuts on March 11th, presented for the first time ever in a right-to-left reading format that remains faithful to the original work. RANMA ½ is rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens and will carry a MSRP of $14.99 U.S. / $16.99 CAN.

Read more

Weekly Shonen Jump–January 21st Issue

Last week I was dealing with a house full of sick people (including me!) so I didn’t get a chance to read the January 14 issue of WSJA until today, so I’m just going to skip a recap of it and jump right into the January 21 issue.  This is the first issue of the simulations release with the Japanese magazine, and the magazine has been renamed Weekly Shonen Jump.  Good-bye Alpha and good-bye waiting for an English translation! 

This week’s issue is 185 pages, and introduced One-Punch Man to the line-up.  I have also discovered, much to my chagrin, that my by beloved Kenshin will only appear monthly as it is actually published in Jump Square.  Boo hoo!  But let’s put that disappointment behind us, and dive into this week’s issue of WSJ!

Naruto Chapter 616 – Nice color spread this issue and a congratulatory message from creator Masashi Kishimoto for going simultaneous!  After getting a pep talk about not letting Neji’s death be in vain, Naruto gets a second wind (or probably 4th or 5th with as long as this battle has been going on).  His chakra recharges and he quickly shares his renewed energy with the other ninja.  Yay!  We also get brave, determined declarations that he will never give up trying to save his comrades, and that despite loss and heartbreak, ninja will endure!  Very motivating!  These last two chapters have been my favorite since I have been reading the magazine, and the plot is starting to make more sense.  All of these quick battle chapters can get confusing when you just get dumped into them, and they last for, what, over 2 months now?

One-Punch Man Chapter One – New series!  Uhhhh.  Short chapter.  Saitama is a hero for fun, and he’s looking for an opponent who he can’t beat in one punch.  Uhhh…  Not sure about this one.  I like the art, but I don’t like Saitama’s character design.  He looks like a dork with an egg for a head.  This chapter was so short that I don’t think it was a good intro to the series.  Maybe next week’s chapter will knock my socks off?

One Piece Chapter 695 – Finally!  Luffy and the gang has escaped from the lab!  They are out in the fresh air and they won’t be victims of the poison gas!  Buffalo and Baby 5 scoop up Caesar and try to make a break for it, but no-uh-uh!  Usopp isn’t having any of that!  This is a quick, fun chapter with lots of great art and great poses.  I was getting bored of the lab drama, so I am looking forward to their next adventure!

Nisekoi Chapter 58 – Miyamoto has lost her glasses!  Ichijo and Onodera help her look for them, and Ruri, frustrated that they like each other, but won’t confess their feelings, tries to get them together.  Since Ichijo is so dense, her efforts don’t pay off.  Not a very original chapter, but the expressive art and the clueless Ichijo made it a fun read.

Bleach Chapter 523 -  Very cool color page get things kicked off.  Ichigo and Renji get to play with Oh-Etsu Nimaiya, the creator of Zanpaku-to!  More accurately, he gets to play with them.  He throws them in the middle of a horde of angry Asauchi, which are the ultimate Zanpaku-tos that can become anything.  They are pissed at how Ichigo and Renji have been using their Zanpaku-tos.  Quick shift to  Yachiru and Zaraki, who are facing off in the Soul Society’s underground prison.  These guys are so serious!  Someone is going to get hurt!  And then – the chapter ends!  This is a great setup for next week, and has  me re-engaged in the story.  I love Ichigo, but I am intrigued by Yachiru and want to see her and Zaraki cross swords.  I am sure it will be an epic confrontation!

Cross Manage Chapter 17 – I love this one.  The team is playing their first match, and after a motivating (more accurately, embarrassing) pep talk from Sakurai, the girls have been given the confidence to play all out!  This is a feel good series, and I have enjoyed it every week.  I keep gushing about it, but I love sports manga and wish there were more series available for me to read.  When are we going to get more Crimson Hero? 

Toriko Chapter 218 – Gourmet Corp is invading!  Their giraffe birds and other weird creatures are out for blood!  Starjun tries to make a grab for Komatsu, but Toriko is there to save him!  While this hasn’t been my favorite manga, this week’s was pretty good, probably because I wasn’t inundated with a billion new chef’s and their specialties.  The constant character intros has been driving me nuts!  Wow, I might not cringe next week when I come to the next chapter.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal Chapter 26 – I just don’t get this one.  It is boring and I can’t force myself to get interested in the plot.  I like the art and the character designs, but the story itself – yawn.  I don’t get the rules of the game, and so I find myself just skimming this one every week. 

And that’s it for this week!  Next week there’s a one-shot by Akira Toriyama!

Micro Review–Dog in Charge by K L Going and Dan Santat

 

 

 

 

Title:  Dog in Charge

Author: K L Going

Illustrator: Dan Santat

Publisher:  Dial

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

When the going gets tough, Dog . . . takes a nap

Dog can Sit.

He can Stay.

He can even Dance.

But when he’s in charge, can he keep the cats in line?

All one, two, three, four, five of them?

With slapstick silliness and utterly earnest charm, Dog will quickly wiggle his way into preschoolers’ hearts.

,

Review:

This is one of the best picture books that I have ever read! It is so cute!!  It even had an unsuspected twist that brought a huge smile to my face.  Poor Dog is left in charge when his people have to go out.  He is left in charge of five naughty cats.  The cats, while not devious, love to play, and Dog is having a hard time keeping tabs on all one, two, three, four, five of them.  When the tensions run the highest, and the house couldn’t get any messier, Dog succumbs to a nap to refresh himself, allowing the cats to save the day.  The cats all love Dog, which made me love them. 

If you have young readers at home, this is a fun book with big, bold illustrations that is sure to please. Even if you don’t have young readers, sneak Dog in Charge home from the library for a quick, delightful read.

Grade:  A

Review copy obtained from my local library

Subscribe in a reader

Review and Giveaway: Horseplay! by Karma Wilson & Jim McMullan

 

Title: Horseplay!

Author:  Karma Wilson

Illustrator: Jim McMullan

Publisher: Little Brown and Company

 

Review:

Poor Farmer is confused.  His horses are so exhausted that they sleep the day away.  Farmer  knows that they aren’t working that hard, so he’s worried that something is wrong with them.  One night, he hides behind a hay bale and he catches them in the act!  What is going on at night? Horseplay!! Lots and lots of horseplay!  These silly horses stay up all night long goofing off, and that leaves them much too tired to work. 

This is a pretty funny picture book.  The horses keep finding ways to outwit Farmer and continue to have their fun.  That’s a remarkable accomplishment since horses have brains the size of a walnut.  Farmer gets mighty worked up each time he catches his horses being naughty, and the colorful art captures his frustration with a great deal of humor.  The illustrations are cartoony and fit well with the lighthearted tone of the book. 

GIVEAWAY!

Little Brown and Company has a copy of Horseplay! for one lucky reader.  Not sure if you want to enter?  Here are some sample pages from Horseplay!  Look at those exhausted ponies!  Look at that frustrated Farmer!

I love this one!  Farmer has been outwitted by the sly ponies!

 

Fill out the widget below to enter for your chance to win a finished copy of Horseplay!  I want a young reader to enjoy this book, so entering is easy!  Only two entries.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Subscribe in a reader

Review: Ride with Me by Ruthie Knox

 

Title: Ride with Me

Author: Ruthie Knox

Publisher: Loveswept

ISBN: B0061C1OQ0

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

In this fun, scorching-hot eBook original romance by Ruthie Knox, a cross-country bike adventure takes a detour into unexplored passion. As readers will discover, Ride with Me is not about the bike!

When Lexie Marshall places an ad for a cycling companion, she hopes to find someone friendly and fun to cross the TransAmerica Trail with. Instead, she gets Tom Geiger–a lean, sexy loner whose bad attitude threatens to spoil the adventure she’s spent years planning.

Roped into the cycling equivalent of a blind date by his sister, Tom doesn’t want to ride with a chatty, go-by-the-map kind of woman, and he certainly doesn’t want to want her. Too bad the sight of Lexie with a bike between her thighs really turns his crank.

Even Tom’s stubborn determination to keep Lexie at a distance can’t stop a kiss from leading to endless nights of hotter-than-hot sex. But when the wild ride ends, where will they go next?

Includes a special message from the editor, as well as excerpts from these Loveswept titles: In the Arms of the Law, Ivy Secrets, and Because of You.

Review:

I have mentioned before how much I loved the Loveswept imprint of category romances.  I was tickled when Random House revived the line, with plans to re-release older titles, as well as introduce new stories to the line.  Ride with Me is the first original book that I have read in the Loveswept line, and I found it very true to the older books that I read and loved.  It’s sexy and funny and told with breezy prose.  I ate this one up very quickly.

Lexie has dreamed of biking in the TransAm for as long as she can remember.  The only problem? Her riding partner on the long trek from Oregon to Virginia had to back out because of an injury.  Not looking forward to the long journey by herself, Lexie puts out a few ads for a riding partner.  When Tom’s sister responds without his knowledge, she poses as Tom and makes plans for Lexie and her brother to ride together.  Tom is furious with her when he finds out, but his sister guilts him into at least meeting Alex.  Then Tom is furious to discover that Alex is actually Lexie.  One thing he doesn’t need is a woman holding him back on the ride.

I was actually afraid that the story would bore me, because I have zero interest in biking.  Now, if Lexie and Tom were going to ride horses across the country, you wouldn’t have been able to keep me away. After about two pages in, though,  my fears were put to rest.  I loved Tom right away.  He is cranky and aloof, and still stinging after discovering that his wife was cheating on him, his social skills have become decidedly rusty.  Lexie, on the other hand, is bubbly and vibrant and fun to be around.  Everyone loves her, and she has the ability to engage complete strangers in conversations, quickly making friends with them.  Lexie and Tom couldn’t be more different, and their different personalities clash for almost the entire book.  They are both strong people, which is a good thing, because Tom can be downright awful.  There were a few occasions that he had me so angry with him that I wished I could grab him by the scruff of the neck and shake some sense into him.

The most compelling element  of the story for me was their clashing personalities.  Tom has a huge chip on his shoulder, and he keeps everyone at arms length, including his own family.  He had a huge falling out with them, and only his sister is still speaking to him.  He’s carrying around a lot of guilt for things that happened in the past, and he just can’t let go of it.  Instead, he has withdrawn into himself, becoming gruff and taciturn.  When he discovers that Lexie wasn’t entirely truthful about her gender, he clings to her deceit for a reason to keep his distance from her.  Too bad for Tom that she is just as stubborn and confrontational as he is, because she doesn’t let him browbeat her.

Lexie just wants someone to camp with, so she isn’t alone at night.  Tom’s rudeness is flabbergasting, so she is appalled with herself for being attracted to him.  He barely speaks to her, makes cutting remarks, and is generally a pain in the butt.  An ideal traveling companion he is not, and the thought of riding thousands of miles with him depresses her.  She wants to have the adventure of a lifetime, and so far, her dream trip is turning out to be a dud.  After some truly awful romantic entanglements, the last thing that Lexie wants is to get involved with an angry guy like Tom.  He is nothing but trouble, and she knows it.

As they pedal toward the East Coast, Lexie and Tom slowly get to know each other.  Tom, despite his resolve to stay as far away from Lexie as possible, is fascinated by her.  Lexie is so alive, wringing every last drop of joy out of everything she does, that Tom can’t stay away.  Her strength of character is hard to ignore, and he soon finds himself consumed with thoughts of her.  As each mile passes by, he becomes a changed man, and that is what I enjoyed best about Ride with Me.  Despite his resistance to be changed by Lexie, he is helpless to stop.  She makes him want to be a better person, even though he is kicking and screaming at the thought.  Lexie is like a hurricane, and he just can’t resist her.

Now, while Tom started off on page one as a cranky, cranky guy, I don’t want you to think that Lexie is perfect.  She’s not.  And just as she is changing Tom, he is changing her.  Instead of sticking to the rules and being so rigidly in charge of every moment of every day, she learns that not living by a schedule and not planning out her day to the T isn’t really a bad thing.  Some rules are fun to break, and despite her reluctance to loosen up and stop worrying about her lists and her carefully plotted route, she slowly begins to trust Tom enough to veer away from her scheduled routes.  And that is what this book is really about – learning how to trust again, and learning to have faith in yourself and someone else.  It is not easily won, and it is not easily given.  The effort taken, though, made the final results that much sweeter.

The ending was a little too fairy tale for me, and that is really my only quibble with the story. Overall, this is a fun, steamy read that kept me engaged throughout.

Grade: B

Review copy provided by publisher

 

 Subscribe in a reader

Review: Time Out by Jill Shalvis

 

Title: Time Out

Author: Jill Shalvis

Publisher: Harlequin Blaze

ISBN: 978-0373796731

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Sign up for recreational adult programs now!

Class: How to Drive Him Crazy

Instructional program for women unexpectedly facing the totally dishy guy from their past. Everyone welcome!

NHL coach Mark Diego’s plan to spend his off-season volunteering in his hometown goes awry when he learns that not only is he coaching teenage girls, but that the program is coordinated by energetic (and five feet two inches of trouble) coordinator Rainey Saunders, his childhood friend—and the woman he could never stand to see dating any other guy….

When their tempers flare, Mark and Rainey discover their fireworks don’t just burn angry—they burn very, very hot! But that’ll just sweeten the victory. Because Mark always plays to win. And with Rainey, he’s planning on playing very dirty, too…

Review:

I loved this book!  Time Out is the first Harlequin Blaze that I’ve read, and the only reason I gave this one a try is because it’s written by Jill Shalvis.  I enjoyed Animal Magnetism, and when I saw that Time Out is about an NHL coach, I was all excited to give it a test drive.  I gobbled this up in record time, and didn’t want to put it down.  The characters are fun, the dialog is snappy and clever, and it features one of my favorite romance tropes – the second chance.  Or Hero was too stupid to see a good thing when it’s right in front of him.  Ah, maybe that is a little wordy for a romance trope…

Rainey works at a rec program for disadvantaged teens, and when a nightmare from her past resurfaces in the form of Mark Diego, she finds herself on thin ice.  She has been attracted to Mark forever, and the night she finally worked up the nerve to confess her feelings to him ended in disaster.  She’s been trying to avoid him ever since, even though sparks still flare out of control whenever they are together.  When her boss, a close friend from childhood – and Mark’s younger brother – informs her that Mark will be volunteering for the off-season, her world starts to spin out of control.

I loved the character interactions in Time Out.  From the sizzle between Rainey and Mark, to Mark’s endearing attempts to whip his team of teenaged girls into shape for the softball season, there is a lot of humor and laughs packed into this book.  It is brain-candy of the best sort, and I wanted to eat the entire book in one sitting.  I was able to completely disconnect from my reality and get totally sucked into Rainey’s, and I didn’t want the fun to end. 

If I had one quibble with the read, it’s the abusive parent that was worked into the plot.  I just didn’t feel that this plot thread was developed as thoroughly as it could have been, and aspects of it came out of left field.  This is the only story element that didn’t convince me to suspend my sense of belief, and it just didn’t work for me.

Aside from that one plot device, Time Out is an engaging, funny read, and I am looking forward to discovering more Blaze gems like this one.

Grade: B+

In stores February 21

Review copy provided by publisher

 

 Subscribe in a reader

Review: Busted in Bollywood by Nicola Marsh

 

Title: Busted in Bollywood

Author: Nicola Marsh

Publisher: Entangled Publishing

ISBN: B006GR35RQ

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Shari Jones needs to get a life. Preferably someone else’s.

Single, homeless and jobless, Indo-American Shari agrees to her best friend’s whacky scheme: travel to Mumbai, pose as Amrita, and ditch the fiancé her traditional Indian parents have chosen. Simple. Until she’s mistaken for a famous Bollywood actress, stalked by a Lone Ranger wannabe, courted by an English lord, and busted by the blackmailing fiancé.
Life is less complicated in New York.

Or so she thinks, until the entourage of crazies follows her to the Big Apple and that’s when the fun really begins. Shari deals with a blossoming romance, an addiction to Indian food and her first movie role, while secretly craving another trip to the mystical land responsible for sparking her new lease on life. Returning to her Indian birthplace, she has an epiphany. Maybe the happily-ever-after of her dreams isn’t so far away?

Review:

When I was given the opportunity to review Busted in Bollywood, I jumped at the chance.  First, I am interested in Entangled Publishing, and I wasn’t very familiar with their titles, so I thought this would be a good way to see what they have to offer (I’ve read several of their titles now, and overall, I have enjoyed all of them).  Second, I love Indian food and Bollywood videos, so when I learned that the heroine goes to Mumbai, I was eager to dive into the story.  It was an additional bonus when I also discovered that I have snapped up several of Nicola Marsh’s Harlequin titles at the Borders close-out sale, so I was interested to start reading her books.  I am glad that I don’t have to backtrack too far now, because I was able to add much of her backlist to my TBR already!

Shari has allowed herself to be talked into a hare-brained scheme to help her BFF Rita get out of the marriage her traditional Indian parents have arranged for her.  Being a traditional Indian when it comes to her parents’ demands, Rita doesn’t want to shame them by breaking off the engagement herself.  Instead, she sweet-talks Shari into going to India in her place, meeting her undoubtedly boring intended, and painlessly turning him down.  Since Shari’s life is on the skids and she is wandering aimlessly from day to day after the breakup with her boyfriend, a change of scenery sounds wonderfully adventurous to her.   After some initial reservations, she allows herself to be packed up and put on an airplane without much resistance.

When we are first introduced to Shari, her life really is a mess.  She is homeless and jobless, thanks to her lying snake of a boss, and she’s having a hard time getting over him.  Even though he was cheating on his wife and their relationship was pretty much at his convenience.  Shari was so sure he was going to leave his wife, so it came as a blow to her to learn that the wife was pregnant.  So much for the promised divorce so that they could stop sneaking around behind everyone’s back. To learn that he was just playing her all along is a bitter pill for Shari.  Losing the apartment he owned and her job at his law firm were just the icing on the cake.  In the blink of an eye, her entire world came tumbling down around her.

While I didn’t feel a whole lot of sympathy for Shari’s situation, I did warm up to her right away.  She realizes that she’s made a major misjudgment in character, and after months of moping around, she is eager to put the unpleasant incident behind her.  How better to refresh yourself than an all-expenses paid trip to India?  What a perfect way to explore her mother’s birthplace.  Who cares that the food is full of fatty goodness? Or that she has to pretend to be her best friend and crush a guy’s hopes?  Ah, that’s a small price to pay to eat all of that wonderful food!

I loved the first part of this story when Shari was be-bopping around India with Rita’s Auntie Anjali.  This was a fun, glutton filled romp about the tourist sites and food stalls as Shari tries to prep herself for the big brush off.  I couldn’t help but laugh when Rita’s intended, Rakesh, abruptly turns the tables on her – if she doesn’t play along with his plans, he is going to blow her cover.  When Rakesh’s best buddy Drew enters the picture, sparks fly instantly.  Too bad he thinks she’s a gold-digger and that she’s only after Rakesh’s sizeable bank account.  Despite being a complete jerk, he is totally hot.  After sharing some not so playful banter, Shari just can’t get him out of her head.  No wonder she keeps having guy troubles!  She gravitates toward pompous buttheads.

This is a fun read, though I felt that the ending started to get a bit bogged down as Shari kept finding reasons to not confess her feelings to Drew.  She wasn’t good enough for him, she wasn’t independent enough for him, having a long-distance relationship would just be too hard, he wasn’t totally open and honest about his background, and now she can’t trust him.  Her excuses were too feeble for me, considering how much she did care for him, and her reservations just added an artificial distance between them.  I wanted her to stop taking the easy way out, to stop running from her problems, and to stand up for herself and for what she wanted.  It was gratifying when she finally did.

Busted in Bollywood is a light read with engaging characters and exotic  locales.  There’s nothing groundbreaking, but it is a enjoyable journey of self-discovery, the value of fat grams, and love.

Grade: B

Review copy provided by publisher