Book Review: Skip Beat! Vol 15 by Yoshiki Nakamura

Skip Beat! Vol 15      

Author: Yoshiki Nakamura

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date:  November 4, 2008

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Action Adventure Manga/200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Things are heating up for Kyoko on location! Bad enough Sho is there but Vie Ghoul too? What terrible Fate is this? Kyoko runs into Sho’s manager, Ms Momose, in the bath, and they talk. Afterward, coming from the bath, she encounters the lead singer of Vie Ghoul. Is Reino putting the moves on her or what? And then Sho unexpectedly turns up and he intervenes in what is going on and Kyoko is able to escape. But not until after she makes it clear that she and Sho are not in a relationship!

Feeling frightened of the potential for all manner of bad things to happen to her, Kyoko reaches out to Ren. But she finds that she can’t tell him what is worrying her for fear of worrying him, so makes light of her call.  Meanwhile, Sho is upset over his perception that Reino intends to make Kyoko his. Bad enough the group stole his brand new song, but now Kyoko? He intends to write a replacement song and let them have the one they stole. His manager is concerned whether he can do that or not, in his current state of mind.

Ren is sure something is wrong, despite Kyoko’s words, and asks his schedule be rearranged so he can join them at the shoot the next day. Sho sees Kyoko on the set and warns her not to go wandering off alone. When Reino comes to see her also, she hides from him and flees into the woods. But he finds her anyway, and things get… creepy. Especially when Reino announces his plans to crush Kyoko!

It’s so funny to see Kyoko as the object of interest for both Sho and Reino! How alike they are. Both of them sleazy lol I love how Ren knows when Kyoko isn’t being truthful (and isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black considering what he hasn’t told her…yet. Waiting to see the fall-out when that day arrives!)

I loved the ending and can’t wait to read the reaction to that! Great volume, looking forward to more!

Wednesday Briefs: November 30, 2022

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Ancalagon: Chapter One Hundred Eighteen by Cia Nordwell
 

I sat back in awe as I watched Garjah once again navigate through the intricacies of the Galactic Council by cutting through it with his usual efficiency. He was scary in his ability to cut to the heart of a matter and get what he wanted done. By the time most people would still be trying to arrange a meeting, in the future at their convenience, of course with some of the Councilors, Garjah had the Aqnars on the comm and agreeing to come oversee the set up of their new planetary government. 

He must have made some impression on

Click here to read the entire Brief:

Continue reading

Book Review: Overlord, Vol 1 by Kugane Maruyama

Overlord, Vol 1   

Author: Kugane Maruyama

Publisher: Yen On

American release date:  May 24, 2016

Format/Genre/Length: Hardback/Fantasy Adventure /256 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Yggdrasil  has been a very popular multi-player online game for a dozen years. But nothing lasts forever, players’ tastes change, and all good things must come to an end. So it is with this particular MMORPG. One of the game’s  guilds in particular, Ainz Ooal Gown, is composed of very dedicated players, led by the Overlord Momonga. But the time has come for the game to end, and out of the 41 members of the guild, only a handful  remain. Of these, only two show up to the Tomb of Nazarick to witness the end of their beloved game—the Momonga player and his friend. But his friend is very tired from working hard and even he doesn’t stay the course, so Momonga finds himself alone, waiting for the countdown that will signal the end of Yggdrasil.

As Momonga waits for the end, he remembers the other guild members, and the accomplishments of the guild, with justifiable pride. Each of them has created the various NPCs that populate the tomb and designed their personalities. Momonga isn’t happy with what the creator of the NPC Albedo did, though, making her into a veritable bitch. So he does something he normally wouldn’t do, and goes into the program and changes her. Just for fun, he adds the line that will come back to haunt him… he says she is in love with Momonga. What the heck, the game is going out in a few minutes anyway.

Just before the game is scheduled to wink out of existence, though,something happens, something inexplicable.  Momonga first realizes it when he notices his senses actually working in this place, for example he can smell things around him, something he could never do before. And the NPCs… are actually responding with lines that are certainly not pre-programmed, and moving in ways they previously had not been able to. And why is Albedo looking at him so oddly? Almost as if she’s in love with him or something. What has happened here?

Before I read this, I started watching the anime, unaware that the books existed. But then the first volume showed up on my daughter’s wish list, so I bought it for her and borrowed a copy from the library for myself. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was very pleasantly surprised at what I read. Reading the novel helps me make sense out of what is happening in the anime. In fact, I think I’ll start the anime again after reading a couple more books.

As a gamer myself, this is a very fun read, one that I am greatly enjoying. Momonga finds himself living inside the game, except it’s not a game, it’s a real world. Good thing he worked so hard on his character all this time, because Momonga is a force to be reckoned with! Kugane Maruyama is taking us on a fascinating ride into an MMORPG, but the difference is everything is real, magic exists, and the sorts of things players do in a game are the same things these people do here. I love how devoted and unabashedly lovesick Albedo is over Momonga, despite the fact that he is literally a skeleton, albeit a very powerful one.

The book contains some fabulous color drawings as well, done by the illustrator so-bin. I loved them! I also love how Momonga is quickly adapting to this new life in which he neither eats nor drinks nor breathes… nor anything else associated with his prior human life. His first order of business is to have someone scout outside and find out if they are still in the area in which the guild was located… or somewhere else. Also, he decides to meet with his staff, ie his NPCs, and see what’s up with them as well as give them their orders.

A new world has just begun and Momonga has to figure out how to live in it, since he has no idea if he can even get back to the real world… assuming he wants to.

Saturday is Horror Day #89 – No Good Deed

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 No Good Deed


Colin (Idris Elba) is a convicted criminal who is serving a lesser sentence than he should have received due to circumstances. Up for parole after only five years, he is turned down because the decision has to be unanimous and one member of the parole board is determined he stay behind bars. On the way back from the parole hearing, Colin catches a lucky break and manages to escape. After visiting his ex-fiancé and dealing with her, he steals her car and drives away. But luck deserts him as he flees in the midst of a storm and is unexpectedly run off the road, crashing the car.

Terry (Taraji P Henson) has her hands full with a young daughter and an infant son. Her husband Jeffrey (Hemry Simmons) is a busy man, but he has promised her he’ll come home early so she can get some things done. Only it turns out he has no time because he’s heading out to take his father on a golf holiday for his birthday. Terry is unhappy, but what can she do, so she battens down for the approaching storm. An unexpected knock at her door turns out to be a man in distress, who wants to call a tow for his vehicle. Reluctant, she allows him to use her phone outside and doesn’t admit him into her house. But after finding out it might be a while for the tow truck to arrive, she admits him, against her better judgement.

 

Her guest, whose name is Colin, turns out to be charming, and Terry begins to relax. Her friend Meg 


(Leslie Bibb) soon arrives for what was to be a girls night, but she doesn’t mind the stranger in their midst and offers him wine as well. She flirts with him outrageously. But when she gets him alone in the garage, where he has gone to smoke, and he tries to convince her that he and Terry have been having an affair that Meg is unaware of, the shit hits the fan, and the situation goes from uneasy to dangerous…

I really enjoyed this movie.  I am a huge fan of Idris Elba, and much as I like him, I wasn’t exactly rooting for him here lol He is quite charming… until he isn’t. While Terry starts out as somewhat weak, or tired, and maybe too nice for her own good, by the end of the movie, there is quite the change and I was rooting for her all the way. I’ve liked her ever since Person of Interest and was glad to see her again. Nothing is cut and dried, and while you may assume how the ending will go, it’s the journey to get there that will hold you spellbound. I give this film 4.5 Stars

Book Review: Assassination Classroom, Vol 2

Assassination Classroom, Vol 2   

Author: Yusei Matsui

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date:  February 3, 2015

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Action Adventure Manga/200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

A new teacher arrives at Kunugigaoka Junior High, a rather buxom young woman named Irina Jelevich. For some reason, she is hanging all over Koro Sensei, to the confusion of his students. Nagisa continues to document the teacher’s weaknesses so that they can use them against him and assassinate him, which will prevent him from blowing up the earth. But Irina is not really a teacher. She’s been brought in as a professional assassin! Karasuma insists she maintain her cover and teach the students, but Irina is sure she’ll be able to achieve her goal of assassination on her first day with the class.

The students dislike her from the get-go and deliberately mispronounce her last name as Hellabitch. When her teaching skills are found to be lacking, they yell at her to get out, they need to study for their college entrance exams.

All the students, including Class 3E, must attend student assembly. Koro Sensei even attends, in “disguise”. But the rest of the school is determined to humiliate Class 3E, even to the point of withholding vital information. But they haven’t counted on the ingenuity and speed of Koro Sensei, who saves the day! The treatment of Class 3E is all due to the machinations of the school’s principal, Asano. He believes that by holding the class up as examples of what not to be, and treating them badly, he will scare the other students into doing well for fear of ending up like them. He is one of the few who know the truth about Koro Sensei, and refuses to listen to arguments that he should treat Class 3E better, claiming that if the world isn’t going to be destroyed, he has the future to consider.

Exam time arrives, and Koro Sensei announces he wants his entire class to score in the top 50! Even if the principal is giving the other students unfair advantages. Can they do it, even with his accelerated teaching techniques?

It’s time for a school trip – three days and two nights in Kyoto! Koro Sensei makes an enormous travel guide for his students that should cover anything that comes up during their trip! However, some of the girls in his class have been targeted by some unsavory characters and find themselves in a peck of trouble!

In this volume, we are introduced to the charming yet obnoxious principal of the Junior High. His disdain for Class 3E is incredible and his treatment of them is beyond abhorrent! Also, we meet Irina Jelevich, who doesn’t exactly endear herself to the students, and who uses her two biggest assets to lure her targets to their doom. There’s also a bonus story about Koro Sensei and a particular bun!

Great volume, look forward to the next one!

Wednesday Briefs: November 23, 2022

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Bad Karma and the Family Plan #50 (10.4) by Julie Lynn Hayes

Ethan turned toward me, his shoulders slumping a little. I felt his sigh and I ached for him and what his brother was putting him through. I pulled him to me and hugged him and we stood there without moving for a couple of minutes. Realizing we had places to go, things to do, we reluctantly pulled apart.

“You know what they say,” I said, in an attempt to lighten his mood.

“What’s that, Vin?”

“Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.” I winked at Ethan and he laughed.

Click here to read the entire Brief:

Continue reading

Saturday is Horror Day #88 – A Quiet Place Part II

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

A Quiet Place Part II


Following the death of Lee Abbott (John Krasinski) the family decides to move on, seeking to find safety or a solution to their problems. Now Evelyn (Emily Blunt) finds herself with two terrified teens and a newborn. But it’s possible they might have the answer to the question of how to defeat the sound-sensitive creatures…assuming they get the chance to implement the solution.

The second film in the franchise is a little slow but still contains the horror of the first. In this entry, the daughter and son (Regan Abbott and Noah Jupe) are actually key players who step up to do what is necessary even when others tell them not to. They are both strong and resilient, and resemble their late father in that respect. I can’t even imagine how I would begin to cope with this situation, especially having to give birth alone and then deal with a newborn. Face it, babies cry, and any sound could doom them all.

 

At the same time, I find myself not as interested in this film, not sure why. The Abbotts do encounter other people and discover that the creatures are not the only things they need to fear. Also in this film we see the first day and what happened then, even if we still aren’t sure why it did. I understand there will be a third film. I’ll probably watch it. I’ll give this one 3 Stars.

Wednesday Briefs: November 16, 2022

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Bad Karma and the Family Plan #49 (10.3) by Julie Lynn Hayes

Ethan and I both jumped up, weapons already drawn, looking for the source of the disturbance. Expecting to see a bullet hole of some kind in the step, I was surprised to find a rock lying there instead. Ethan saw it as well. His face flushed with anger as he holstered his gun and called out into the darkness, “Okay Joey. You can stop that shit right now and come on out where we can see you.”

Joey? Was he kidding? The next moment, Ethan’s brother slouched into view, wearing a smirk. That was the happiest I’d seen him since we’d arrived.

“Did I scare you two great big secret agents?” he taunted us.

Click here to read the entire Brief:

Continue reading

Book Review: Skip Beat! Vol 14 by Yoshiki Nakamura

Skip Beat! Vol 14 

Author: Yoshiki Nakamura

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: September 2, 2008

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Shojo Manga/200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Kyoko joins Director Ogata for lunch. He seems happy to see her, which is more than can be said for her co-stars. Naturally, the conversation turns to Ren and how he’s doing. The director is doing better as well, and has a new-found confidence he was lacking before. That is largely due to something Ren said to him. Meanwhile, Ren and Mr. Yashiro are headed to his next job. The agent is working on Ren to talk to Kyoko about how he feels, and Ren doesn’t even bother to deny his feelings anymore. Not to him, anyway. What Mr. Yashiro doesn’t know, though, is Ren’s past with Kyoko. Perhaps if he knew that, he’d drop hints to Kyoko in order to get these two lovebirds together! Ren believes that there is someone who could possibly sway Kyoko’s heart by the mere mention of his name, and that disturbs him.

Kyoko is scheduled for an interview on Japonet Scope, thanks to her rising star. But on her arrival, she notices a door marked with Sho Fuwa’s name! What, can he really be here also? But the guy she runs into is not Sho, and yet he knows who she is… and seems to look down on her? Kyoko is surprised to learn that a new group named Vie Ghoul has not only climbed the charts but they have a song that has surpassed Sho’s! But she is indignant to discover that they are imitators of Sho! An angry Kyoko marches to Sho’s dressing room and tells him she needs to talk to him!

Mr. Yashiro tries to get Ren to watch the music video clip that Kyoko is in, but because it’s Sho’s clip, Ren is less than inclined to do so. His agent is trying to make him jealous so he’ll do something about his feelings, but Ren is resisting.  Kyoko is being sent on location for a few days for the film. She doesn’t realize until she’s there that a well-known music studio is nearby. And oh dear, it looks as though both Sho and Vie Ghoul are going to be there! What else could happen? Maybe Ren could show up too?

Kyoko has definitely grown and matured since we first met her. And while she still plans to get her revenge on Sho, she is not afraid to tell him about his shortcomings. The rose-colored glasses she once wore are gone… even if she can’t see how much she likes Ren. Still, it’s a start. But what’s going on with these Vie Ghoul guys? Are they going to throw some oil on this fire or start a conflagration of their own?

Great volume, look forward to more!

Saturday is Horror Day #87 – The Banana Splits Movie

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

The Banana Splits Movie

Harley (Finlay Wojtak-Hissong) loves the Banana Splits more than anything. So when his mother presents him with tickets to attend a live taping of the show as a birthday present, he is over the moon happy. He requests a classmate go with him. Zoe (Maria Nash) wouldn’t call herself a friend of Harley’s, thinks he is weird, but her mother says she has to go, so she has no choice. Harley’s mother goes also, as well as Harley’s father Mitch (Steve Lund) and his half-brother Austin (Romeo Carere). Also in the audience are a couple of would-be influencers, and a stage father who is intent on getting his daughter into show business via the Banana Splits. At the show, it’s announced that people with special tickets will be allowed private time with the Splits after the taping. Harley’s family don’t have the right tickets. But after Austin starts flirting with one of the members of the staff, Paige (Naledi Majola), she adds them to the list.

But all is not as it appears to be. For one thing, the new network exec, Andy (Daniel Fox) has decided to cancel the show, making this the last episode. But that only triggers a reprisal on the part of his cast, who are all animatronics, other than sidekick Stevie (Richard White), who spends most of his time being drunk. The Banana Splits have their own agenda, and it isn’t gonna be pretty.

I was skeptical when I saw the trailer for this film, wondering how a preview for a kids movie got onto a horror movie disk. But this is not kid’s movie, make no mistake about that. It’s a virtual gore fest. However, saying that, unless you just want to watch some assholes get what’s coming to them (and some innocents who don’t deserve it), there is little to commend this film. I am really surprised that Hanna Barbara allowed them to make this film, but they probably figured it was their last chance to make money off the franchise. Watch it for the blood and gore, watch it for the revenge, but don’t go looking for a good movie. I’ll give it 1.5 Stars.