Review: The Flowers of Evil Vol 1 by Shuzo Oshimi



Title: The Flowers of Evil Vol 1

Author:  Shuzo Oshimi

Publisher:  Vertical

May Contain Spoilers



ZOMG!  I feel a bit guilty for enjoying this tale of blackmail as much as I did.  In a moment of complete stupidity, shy, timid Takao steals the gym clothes of the girl he is crushing on.  Little does he know that this one lapse in judgment will bring about his downfall.  Witnessed by Nakamura, the weirdest girl in his class, she threatens to rat him out to their classmates if he doesn’t do everything she demands.  As he spirals deeper in to misery, Takao is at his wit’s end.  How does he get Nakamura to leave him alone, without being outted as a perv in the process?

I haven’t laughed this much in a long time.  I couldn’t help myself.  Poor Takao is such a wimp.  And an idiot to boot.  I hope those clandestine sniffs of Saeki’s t-shirt and shorts were worth the pain and embarrassment that this  hapless middle-schooler is destined to suffer.   Nakamura is one tough cookie, too!  She is relentless, and she won’t let Takao get away with anything now that he’s under her power.  I felt so bad for him!  He’s like a little puppy that keeps getting whacked with a newspaper.  And darn me, but I kept laughing at all of his discomfort. 

Even as his relationship with Saeki, she of the enticing gym clothes,  blooms, his dealings with Nakamura keep bringing him nothing but trouble.  His friends are rapidly ditching him because he’s too busy dancing to Nakamura’s tune to hang out with them, and his mother is fit to be tied because of his strange behavior.  I fear that Takao will need serious therapy sessions if this continues much longer.  I am eager to read more of this series, because I’m curious to see where it goes.  

Grade:  B+, leaning towards an A-

Review copy provided by publisher

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Interview with Julie Reece, Author of Crux and Giveaway!

Today Julie Reece, author of Crux, is our special guest at the Café!  Julie dropped by to answer a few questions, and she also brought along a digital copy of Crux, and some Crux swag, that you can win after the interview!

[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Julie Reece] Oh wow. This writer is better at describing almost anything else better than herself! LOL. I was born in Ohio but grew up on the beaches of Clearwater Florida. Man, were they covered up in cute guys! *sigh* Moving on … Art was my major, but I didn’t finish college. I did, however, find the man of my dreams and we have two amazing daughters. I started writing seriously three years ago. I’ve written four novels. The first one sucked and will never see the light of day. The second one is my absolute favorite, a paranormal romance. It sucked too, but I believe in the story, so I’m rewriting it now. The third is Crux (I hope you like it!) and the fourth is another urban fantasy I’m trying to finish.

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about Crux?

[Julie Reece] Sure! Crux is a 300 page, YA urban fantasy. Here’s a tag line  I was toying with … don’t make fun, I struggle with these …When a stranger offers seventeen-year-old Birdie Orin the financial means to leave Atlanta’s cruel streets behind, she jumps on it.  After all, his proposal sounds more like the ramblings of a lunatic as he speaks of her freeing Viking souls trapped in an ancient battle using the power of a magic amulet. Birdie shares the news with new friend Grey, citing the non-existent crusade is easy money, until a vision confirms the reality of the stranger’s words. And when Grey follows uninvited, Birdie must choose between fulfilling her quest and protecting the guy she’s falling for.

I don’t know? Not great. I’m still working on it, but you get the idea J

[Manga Maniac Café] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Julie Reece] It started with really weird a dream I had, though the setting was in Paris. I don’t know a lot about Paris, (wish I did) so I switched it to my home in Atlanta. In my dream, a girl was running in the dark, pushing through a crowd of people, barefoot on a cobblestone street.  You know how in dreams, you understand things without explanation?  Well, this girl was young, maybe seventeen. She was hungry, cold and homeless. She caught sight of a man hauling a big black suitcase. Desperate and without really knowing why, she followed him.  The man wore a dark over coat. He crouched over the suitcase and started to unzip it, but he paused. When he looked up, she saw his eyes. Deep blue, his gaze pulled her in. As I dreamt, I felt the hollow, ancient pain in his heart, and so did the girl because I heard her sharp intake of breath.  Sad and haunted, his eyes seemed to beg her for help, though she’d followed him hoping for the same. I felt these two bound together in that moment—tied to some unfathomable cause. After I woke up, sweating and breathing like I’d just run fifty yards for a touchdown, I got to thinking … what happens next? I wrote the story to find out.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three words best describe Birdie?

[Julie Reece] Flawed. Fierce. Faithful.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are three things Grey would never have in his pocket?

[Julie Reece] Oh, I love this question! Let me think. Chapstick. The boy’s lips are velvet all on their own. A Kleenex, who wants a tissue when he’ll let you cry right on his shirt sleeve. Too much change, the noise would bug him, not to mention let his enemies know he’s coming. Grey is much too smooth to jingle. LOL

[Manga Maniac Café] What is Birdie’s single most prized possession?

[Julie Reece] The memories of her parents. In the beginning of the story, she needs them in order to function. Their dreams for her life give her a reason to press on and survive, but she clings to them in almost a desperate, co-dependent way. As she starts to heal emotionally, Birdie is able to take those dreams and adjust them to a healthy realistic standard. When she faces her biggest fear, her parents dreams align with her own, and she is truly healed.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Julie Reece] When I was little, Grimm fairy tales coupled with Mother Goose are probably to blame for my wild imagination. I remember lying in bed while my parents read to me, and I would totally imagine myself the heroine or princess in the story. I’d fall asleep continuing the tale in my mind. I’d change parts I was dissatisfied with or dream up sequels if I didn’t want it to end. It was all mental exercise back then, but I can see how I was working out intricate stories, even as a little kid. As a teen, I devoured all the classics. There’s a part of me that is sad authors aren’t allowed all that narration anymore. I still love it. As an adult, I read anything but my heart is YA. I get inspiration for my stories anywhere— from a museum, or song on the radio, to a walk in the park in the rain. They come from everywhere. 

[Manga Maniac Café] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Julie Reece] First, things just don’t go well without my IV of unsweet tea with extra lemon. I start the day with two, 32 oz Styrofoam cups of the stuff from McDonalds. I come back from lunch with another two. I may have an illness. Next, I need library type quiet. I don’t know why. I think it may have something to do with my ADD. I’m so easily distracted, I can’t think with any noise at all. Weird huh? I do like it when my cats sit on my lap and purr though. They are always a welcome interruption, though my 23 pound Maine Coon will put my legs to sleep if he sits there too long!  Last, I love my computer, because I have a ridiculously large screen.  Could I write on a smaller one, yeah, but since I don’t have to, I’d rather not. LOL I’m a huge creature of habit. 

[Manga Maniac Café] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Julie Reece] Mmm. That’s tough. There are so many amazing writers out there right now, aren’t there? Current YA talent makes me bow and scrape, and wish I had an ounce of what they have. I’d say my socks were equally knocked off for both Veronica Roth and Cassandra Clare’s latest releases, but there are many, many more I could talk about. 

[Manga Maniac Café] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Julie Reece] Jane Eyre, quickly followed by her sister’s book, Wuthering heights. The heroes in both had my pre-adolescent heart swooning. They also set a high bar for every boy I would ever date afterward! Sorry. I blame the Brontes!

[Manga Maniac Café] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Julie Reece] I love animals and like to ride horses with my youngest daughter. I draw and paint and love a good movie in the theatre. I read like a fiend, spend time at the gym with my older daughter (she’s a lifting beast!) My all-time favorite thing to do is anything at all with my husband. He’s a rock star.

[Manga Maniac Café] How can readers connect with you?

[Julie Reece]

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!


I have a digital copy of Crux, as well as some awesome swag to give to one of you!  One lucky reader will win a Crux water bottle and some autographed book marks!  With these brutally high temps this summer, that water bottle is going to come in handy!  To enter, fill out the widget below. Open to US mailing addresses only.


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