Tag Archives: Book review

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 37 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 37           

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: December 6, 2011

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/216 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

The unimaginable has happened to the Soul Reapers of Soul Society! They have a traitor in their midst. Traitors, even. None other than Aizen, Tosen, and Ichimaru. Shinji is not surprised, having been suspicious of Aizen from the start, which is why he made him his assistant captain. To keep an eye on him. But Aizen realized that and set Shinji up in a way he could not have foreseen.

 

Before Aizen and his cohorts can finish off Shinji and the others, Kisuke Uruhara and Tessai arrive. Kisuke is confused at what he sees, recognizing hollowfication when he sees it. Tessai tries to attack Aizen and his pals, but they manage to slip away and Kisuke tells him they need to focus on Shinji and his people for now. Good thing he has something prepared for this –  none other than the Hogyoku!

 

When Kisuke and Tessai are unexpectedly arrested, things are not looking good. The Council has determined to destroy Shinji and the others, as being Hollows, and send Kiskue into permanent exile in the World of the Living, but the arrival of a deus ex machine changes things, hopefully for the better.

 

Back in the present, the Soul Reapers realize that Aizen et al know about the fake Karakura Town, and have made their own plans. The Old Man Captain has anticipated them and has set four trusted Soul Reapers at the four corners of the infrastructure of the fake town – Ikkaku, Yumichika, Kira, and Hisagi. To keep Aizen at bay, the old man surrounds the traitors with a huge wall of fire. It’ll take them time to get out of this in order to aid their subordinates.

 

Let the battles begin!

 

Watching the past, and seeing what happened to Shinji and the others, is just heartbreaking. Makes you want to see Aizen suffer greatly for what he did, the heartless, gutless coward. Good thing they have Kisuke on their side, and he is nothing if not brilliant. Still, makes you wonder about what might have been.

 

I love the battles between the lieutenants and the Fraccions, each memorable in its own way. I laughed at Ikkaku’s comment that he thought he heard Yumichika laugh, but surely not in the middle of a battle.

 

The scenes with Alquiorra and Orihime are great. He informs her that Aizen no longer needs her and that she will die there, but she insists that her friends will save her. He scoffs, but she tells him, “My heart is already with them.” And of course Ichigo proves her correct by his arrival.

 

The battles have already begun, but these are powerful enemies. Can these four handle them, or will the captains need to step in? Another great volume, looking forward to the next one!

 

 

Book Review: Taboo by Jo Tannah

Taboo         

Authors: Jo Tannah

Publisher: eXtasy Books

American release date: September 16, 2016

Format/Genre/Length: Kindle/Multicultural Romance/384 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Zach Parker’s best friend, Margaret Maxfield, is getting married, and he’s to be the man of honor. But that’s not what has him stirred up, excited, and scared – all at the same time. No, it’s the thought of seeing Margaret’s dad again. Zach has been in love with Tristan Maxfield forever. As a kid, he set his desires in the category of never gonna happen. But so much has happened, including Tristan and Amanda’s divorce, as well as Tristan coming out of the closet. That is a definite game changer. Not to mention, it’s been five years since he’s set eyes on the man.

Zach wants to be with Tristan so badly he can’t stand it. But what about the repercussions? What will Margaret and her brothers say if they do hook up? Zach practically grew up with them. Not to mention that Tristan and Zach’s dad are best friends and partners in the very successful law firm where Zach plans to work some day. Will Zach’s parents accept his feelings for Tristan, considering the big difference in their ages, and who Tristan is to them?

Tristan has always liked Zach, but seeing him after five years… something just clicks inside of him, a feeling he can’t describe. Yes, he wants Zach, but it’s more than that. And just when he has decided to label himself as a perv, he realizes the feeling is mutual. Should he act upon it?

This book is about a romance that many in society frown on because of the age difference between the two people involved. But age is just a number. And being close in age is no guarantee of anything. I loved these two guys from the beginning and was rooting for them to get together on a permanent basis. They are so hot and sweet and romantic. The sex scenes are also very hot, and the author has a very smooth, enjoyable voice. The ex-wife is a true witch and a major…. Well, let’s just say she sleeps around a lot and leave it at that. And word to the wise – don’t mess with Zach’s mom or the people she loves. She will mess you up!  lol

I really enjoyed this book and look forward to the next one.

Book Review: Monster Perfect Edition, Vol 2 by Naoki Urasawa

Monster: The Perfect Edition, Vol 2

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: October 21, 2014

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Horrorl/402 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

A burglar named Heckel breaks into the home of the late councilman, intending to loot it, when he runs into Tenma. At the sound of sirens, however, they both make a hasty exit, Tenma following the burglar, to his dismay. When he learns that Tenma is a doctor, Heckel has a brilliant idea of how they can make easy money. Tenma isn’t interested until he finds out Heckel saw the councilman’s murderer, and makes him tell where he is. It turns out that the guy isn’t Johan, but Johan has left a message for Tenma. How did he know Tenma would be there?

With Heckel’s help, Tenma is kidnapped and led to a wounded man and ordered to help him. But the conditions are so primitive, Tenma doesn’t believe he can do it safely. Tenma has a decision to make. Afterward, he goes to East Germany and visits the home of the late Lieberts in the company of a real estate agent as he attempts to glean information about the current owner. The realtor has none to give but points him to a neighbor who does remember the Lieberts and the twins they adopted. This was news to Tenma. The orphanage was located at 511 Kinderheim, but it’s abandoned and very spooky now. A nearby woman guides Tenma to a man who once worked in the welfare ministry, who is fostering a little boy. Tenma bonds with the boy and promises to bring him a soccer ball. Things get ugly fast and Tenma turns to the system for help.

Tenma takes the child, Dieter, with him and gives him directions on how to find the good orphanage. But Dieter refuses to go and insists on following Tenma, so he has little choice but to look after him. He runs across a drunken man who has injured himself and takes him to the doctor’s house but the doctor is away so Tenma treats him himself and leaves. When the doctor returns, he is furious and tracks Tenma down. When the police arrive, he covers up for Tenma and tells the officer to have his mother come in soon, because she’s ill. Concerned about her, he takes Tenma to the woman’s house and Tenma talks her into letting them in. But she soon collapses and Tenma has no choice but to operate, or she’ll die. Will her son, the policeman, see it that way, or will he just see a man who is wanted for murder?

Detective Lunge is obsessed with finding a connection between a murdered prostitute and the late councilman. He is so obsessed that he neglects his wife and daughter. Tenma’s ex calls on him, demanding to know when he will arrest Tenma. And when he informs her that it wasn’t Tenma, it was Johan, she tells Lunge that Johan is just one of Tenma’s personalities!

Tenma runs into an ex-cop, one of the men who killed Herr Maurer and the journalist, who finally admits the truth about the murders, and about the Baby. Apparently Nina Fortner/Anna Liebert has been looking for Johan, and the Baby intends to use her as bait, for his own reasons. Meanwhile Heckel and Dieter uncover a plot that could potentially kill a lot of people.

There is nothing boring about this volume of Monster. Edge-of-your-seat action all the way through. Nina wants to finish the job she started years ago, and Tenma wants to right the wrong he committed by saving the monster’s life as a child.  Maybe he sees Dieter as a form of redemption, which is why he can’t just leave him. Also, I think he realizes that Dieter is wise beyond his years and has seen much that he should never have seen.

This book has some memorable characters, a great plot, and the artwork is awesome! Some of the people remind me of those in Twentieth Century Boys, but is that surprising? Same artist. I look forward to reading the next volume.

Book Review: Monster: Perfect Edition, Vol 1 by Naoki Urasawa

Monster: The Perfect Edition, Vol 1   

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: July 15, 2014

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Horror/426 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Tenma is a doctor whose life seems perfect. The Japanese doctor came to Germany to learn from a brilliant German hospital director, and he has become engaged to the man’s daughter, Eva. But this life is a façade, as he begins to learn. His fiancé is selfish and narcissistic, and her father only cares about the hospital making money rather than saving lives. In fact, the director has no compunction about taking credit for Dr. Tenma’s work, and his daughter tells Tenma that it is her father’s right to do so.

Dr. Tenma performs a grueling operation on a famous opera singer, although a Turkish laborer arrived before him and also needed Dr. Tenma’s attention. But the doctor was told to operate on the singer and the doctor who performed the operation on the laborer failed to save him. The grieving widow spots Tenma and wails that if he had operated, she would still have her husband and her child would have a father. Tenma’s fiancé’s Eva’s response to Tenma’s self-doubts is “Some lives are worth more than others.”

It’s1986, and Germany is still divided. An East German trade adviser defects to the west, and he, his wife, and two children settle in Dusseldorf. One night the police are called to their house to find a horrific scene. Both parents are dead, the son has been shot, and the daughter in shock. The boy is rushed to the hospital and Dr. Tenma is called in. As he is about to go into surgery, he receives word that the mayor is ill and needs Tenma to perform his surgery. He’s ordered to do so by the director. But, remembering how he abandoned the Turkish laborer who then died, Tenma decides to save the boy and tells them another doctor can save the mayor as it’s a simple procedure. He saves the boy but the mayor dies.

Tenma, who was once on a fast track to success, is now ostracized by all and told he will never amount to anything. The police are impatient to question the young girl who was the only witness to the tragedy, as her brother is still in a coma. They persuade the hospital to allow the girl to be brought to the brother’s room in the hope she can help bring him around, against Dr. Tenma’s medical advice, but this doesn’t seem to matter anymore. And that does not end well when the director and two of his flunkies are found murdered, and the children disappear from the hospital. Dr. Tenma has no choice but to step up and take charge in the midst of chaos.

Fast forward nine years. Someone is targeting and killing middle-aged childless couples, but why? Inspector Lunge of the BKA is assigned to the case. He ends up following a clue to Dusseldorf, where Tenma is now head of surgery and his former fiancé has become a whining, demanding drunk with three failed marriages behind her. One of Tenma’s colleagues urges him to get back in the game and at least date, but Tenma isn’t really interested in anything but saving people. He saves the man who Lunge is interested in, and the man tells Tenma about a monster who makes him do things. When the man goes missing from the hospital, Tenma has an idea where he is and finds him, along with the so-called monster, who he is horrified to learn is someone whose life he saved nine years before.

Tenma realizes that he is responsible in some measure for what the monster has done. Plus he needs to save the sister from her brother, and begins to search for her. In the meantime, a young woman named Nina, unaware that she is adopted, and knowing nothing of her past, has been receiving strange messages from someone, as well as flowers. His latest email says he wants to meet her on her 20th birthday at a particular location. Meanwhile, Lunge has become convinced that Tenma is the murderer and will stop at nothing to prove it.

I’ve been meaning to read this series for some time. It’s by the same author who brought us Twentieth Century Boys, which I am still reading, and love. Monster is amazing. It has an extremely interesting story line you don’t often see in manga involving a serial killer. The hero, Dr. Tenma, is not only personable and cute, but he has standards and principles, which all doctors should have. Believing  he is responsible for unleashing the monster on the world by saving his life, he wants to do something to correct that mistake. At this point, I’m not sure if he plans to talk him out of killing or if he is capable of taking the next step and ending the monster’s life. We shall see.

I didn’t like Eva, his fiancé, from the beginning, and my dislike of her is only growing, as well as for the persistent, obstinate, and single-minded Lunge, who wants to solve his case one way or another.  You have to feel for the sister who has everything dumped on her when she has been so happily clueless and she is forced to relive the horrible memory of what actually happened the night her parents were murdered.

This is a great first volume, looking forward to more of the same.

Book Review: How to Find a Princess: Runaway Royals #2 by Alyssa Cole

How to Find a Princess: Runaway Royals #2     

Authors: Alyssa Cole

Publisher: Avon

American release date: May 25, 2021

Format/Genre/Length: Kindle/Multicultural Romance/399 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Makeda Hicks thinks her life is going well… until her girlfriend dumps her, and the store she works for fails to promote her in favor of the woman Makeda trained and then fires her. She calls her Grandmore to cry on her grandmother’s shoulder, and Grandmore suggests she move back in with her for the summer and help her run the Golden Crown, her B&B. What her grandmother doesn’t know is that Makeda helped the girlfriend before this last one with a business loan which she has ended up being stuck with and she can really use the money, so why not? The downside is having to listen to Grandmore’s stories about a long ago liaison with a supposed prince (ie not Makeda’s grandfather) which resulted in Makeda’s mother and which makes both her and her mother of royal lineage. Makeda is beyond tired of hearing that fantasy, especially since her mother abandoned her because of it.

Beznaria Chetchevaliere works for the WFM – the World Federation of Monarchists – as a  junior investigator. During her performance review, her pathetic excuse for a superior has many criticisms for the way she does her job, although she is actually really good at what she does. She has a feeling this review won’t end very well when he asks her about her Ibaranian heritage, and her interest in the story of the lost queen. He knows that Beznaria’s interest lies in the fact that her grandmother, who was the Grand Dame of the Ibaranian Guard at the time of the queen’s disappearance, was blamed for that disappearance and had even accused of having killed the queen, although that was never proved. Beznaria is determined to clear her grandmother’s name, as she knows Henna Jeta would never have done anything so dishonorable. Now the members of the Ibaranian heir team are swamped with claims of pretenders to the throne. Surprisingly, her pompous boss asks Beznaria to investigate and gives her some leads to follow in the United States. Of course she agrees to do so, but it doesn’t take long for her to realize these leads are all bogus. Why is he determined to keep her from discovering the truth? She decides to do her own investigations, and these lead her to Makeda Hicks.

Makeda’s first impression of Bez is far from favorable, especially as the investigator broke into the house and snuck up on her while vacuuming. It becomes even less so when she learns who she is and what she wants. Makeda wants nothing to do with this whole ridiculous theory of her being a princess, since that is what drove her mother away to begin with. Her delusions of royal blood and being more than she was and less than what she should have been, which was a mother to Makeda. But Bez is most persistent, and she takes a room at the B&B, so it’s not like Makeda can avoid her. And, if she’s being honest with herself, she doesn’t exactly want to. There is something about Bez which draws her, even if she is fighting that feeling. How long can she resist the investigator’s wish to take her back to Ibarania as their princess? And how long can she resist the $15k being offered just to show up and submit a claim, whether true or not?

The second book in the Runaway Royals series is just as good as the first. There’s a lot going on in this book, more than just about finding a princess. Makeda is generous to the point of allowing herself to be used by people. She never stands up for herself to say what she wants, as if she’s worthless unless she’s doing something for someone else. Beznaria marches to the beat of her own drummer. She is very driven, especially when it comes to those she loves. If she believes in the path she follows, then she’s not above circumventing the rules to obtain the outcome she perceives to be the right one. She doesn’t lie, but she sometimes omits some of the details. These two fit together perfectly, and watching them come to that realization was priceless.

Alyssa Cole’s characters are wonderfully drawn, whether the main protagonists or their family and friends. I loved the crew of the cargo ship they traveled on. They seemed like people I would love to know. Her stories about royalty are beautifully detailed and she has created quite the world, beginning with the Reluctant Royals series and continuing with the Runaway Royals. I hope there are many more of these stories to come. I am so on board for this! Many thanks to my kid Sarah for turning me on to them.

Highly addictive stories that you will love!

Book Review: The Way of the Househusband, Vol 5 by Kousuke Oono

The Way of the Househusband, Vol 4             

Author: Kousuke Oono

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: May 18, 2021

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Comedy/168 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Miku is leaving on a business trip, so it’s just going to be Tatsu and Gin. She tells her husband to try and relax. Has she met him? While he is having fun in his own inimitable way, Masa comes over, having been fired from his job and needing to kill some time, so they have some fun together.

While shopping, Tatsu runs into a former member of the HIrako Group. The two one-time Yakuza get into a rap battle in the middle of the store.

Miku tells Tatsu about a Halloween costume contest at a local mall. The first prize is a hot springs vacation, while the second is a year’s worth of rice. Tatsu really wants the rice, but Miku has her heart set on the vacation. The competition is stiff. Can Tatsu get them the win with his special culinary talents?

Tatsu and Miku go to eat at a buffet. For Tatsu, this is not simply about food, there’s a strategy involved! Especially if he wants to end up with a piece of the much coveted fruit tart!

Miku’s dad wants to do a hot pot for Miku and Tatsu, and he wants to do it himself. Unfortunately, he has the same basic skills as Miku. Can this meal be saved?

Tatsu suddenly takes ill, and treats his illness as equivalent to his turf being invaded. However, his tactics don’t seem to be working and it’s Miku to the rescue!

It’s New Year’s and Masa decides to visit Tatsu… in order to claim a New Year’s allowance. But his hints seem to be falling on deaf ears.

Tatsu, Miku, and Masa run across a local sake fair and decide to check it out. Apparently, not everyone can hold their liquor, however.

A newcomer in Tatsu’s cooking class is getting on Tatsu’s nerves with his sad attempts at making a chocolate cake. When Tatsu tries to set him straight, they end up in a competition to see whose cake really comes from the heart.

Another fantastic volume of The Way of the Househusband. I don’t think I could ever get tired of this! There is an animated comic version on Netflix which I enjoyed, but the manga is the best. Just one situation after another, plus three bonus stories, one of which is Gin’s walk. Gotta love Gin!

Hope there are lots more volumes coming!

Book Review: Three For the Road by Justina Ireland

Three For the Road: Stories from the World of Dream Nation   

Authors: Justina Ireland

Publisher: Kindle

American release date: September 20, 2020

Format/Genre/Length: Kindle/Historical Fantasy/69 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Dread South Ever since the dead began to rise from the earth, during the Battle of Gettysburg, life in the South has been less than pleasant, but it goes on. At seventeen, Louisa Aiken knows it is her duty to marry, but she doesn’t want just anyone, and finds her mother’s suggestions somewhat questionable. But she is attracted to the good-looking Everett Hayes. And, if she isn’t mistaken, he is attracted to her himself. But the shambler situation is getting worse. What’s a girl to do? Everyone knows that the girls trained at the Schools for Colored Girls have the knowledge and the training to deal with the undead, which is why people buy them as attendants. Hire them, that is. So when Everett offers to purchase such protection for Louisa, she is flattered, of course. Which is how she meets Juliet. And suddenly, nothing is the same….

Dread Quarter The people of the French Quarter consider themselves safe from the chaos taking place outside their secure walls. But Katherine Deveraux knows nothing of life outside the Quarter, so of course it’s what she wishes, more than anything. Maman has plans for her, plans that involve going to the Full Moon Ball and finding a rich white man to protect her and her family. Such men like to have wives in New Orleans to keep them busy whilst they are there on business. That is how Maman met her first and second protectors, at the ball. But Fate has other plans for Katherine, and her pretty features have just caused her to be kidnapped, and this is not quite how she wanted to leave the French Quarter….

Letters from Home Although Sue can’t read herself, she does appreciate the value in a letter. She swiped this one from Miss Preston’s desk for reasons not entirely clear to her, but its mere presence is comforting to her.  Jane McKeene used to read to her, but she’s gone now, and Katharine Deveraux along with her. They’re working at the Mayor’s house and she misses them. The sounding of the alarm bells indicate the presence of shamblers at the school. Miss Preston attempts to lead Sue and the other girls to safety. But it isn’t going to be that easy, and suddenly heading to Baltimore doesn’t seem like a great idea either. What are they to do?

This is a trio of short stories all from the world of Dread Nation. I would definitely read those two books first before reading this one. The stories add depth to some of the characters, and fill in some back story. I enjoyed each and every one of them. They are a must read for anyone who loves Justina Ireland’s worldbuilding and Dread Nation. I sincerely hope there will be a Dread Nation 3, and more of these not-to-be-missed side stories.

Book Review: Frog by Mary Calmes

Frog                     

Author: Mary Calmes

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

American release date: April 25, 2012

Format/Genre/Length:  Kindle/Gay Romance/Supernatural/126 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Weber Yates has been living his dream as a bull rider for a long time, but as he gets older, he comes to the realization that he can’t do it forever, and his nomadic life has to come to an end. But what’s he going to do to support himself? He’s a very self-reliant guy who’s always depended on himself and no one else. He’s also a very proud and stubborn man.

Weber has a rich lover, a neurosurgeon named Cyrus Benning. Cy loves Weber more than life itself, and wants nothing more than to be with Weber forever. But he puts no strings on him, makes no demands, and only takes what he is given. At the same time, neither man is a saint, and they know they have other hook-ups when they aren’t together, since they aren’t exclusive or anything.

On his way to a temporary job in Alaska, Weber is passing through Oakland and, on an impulse, calls Cy. Cy talks Weber into letting him pick him up and bring him home. Weber says he can only stay a day or two, because he has to find some work so he can get the money he needs so he can afford to head up to Alaska. But things don’t work out quite as planned, and Weber finds himself staying with Cy for the holidays, caring for his three young nephews, while their mother goes through a difficult time.

Caroline’s children love Weber immediately. One of them, Micah, doesn’t speak, following a traumatic event. But Weber has no problem communicating with the boy. When Weber goes with Cy to his family’s home for the holidays, he finds that he’s not the only one who thinks Weber isn’t good enough for Cy, and he thinks maybe it’s time to hit the road, and let Cy have a chance at finding his prince.

A friend of mine recommended this book to me and has been urging me to read it. I’m glad I finally did. This was a very sweet, sexy, romantic story, filled with great characters. I’ve never read Mary Calmes before, but I will read more of her books now. She has a very smooth, fluid writing style that pulls you in and hooks you. And it just goes to show that love makes equals of us all.

Book Review: Skip Beat! Vol 3 by Yoshiki Nakamura

Skip Beat! Vol 3     

Author: Yoshiki Nakamura

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: November 7, 2006

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

When the director offers to give Kyoko a tea-making lesson, as he’s doing with Ruriko, she turns him down. She doesn’t need that, having learned how to perform a tea ceremony a long time ago at the inn run by Sho’s parents. But she doesn’t tell him that, of course.  She’s trying to put all that behind her. When she learns that Ruriko isn’t really ill, as she thought, merely spoiled and pampered, Kyoko grows angry and more determined to best her. Ren tries to persuade her to drop out of the contest, due to her injury, but he doesn’t know her very well, and she refuses to back out.

Ren runs through the lines with Ruriko, and then it’s Kyoko’s turn, and an amazing thing happens. Ren’s acting changes, as he becomes more serious with her, and his acting provokes an unexpected response from Kyoko which blows everyone away. However, Kyoko is more seriously hurt than she has let on…

Kyoko has scared Ruriko enough that she ceases her previous behavior. When Lory learns that the change in his actress is due to Kyoko, rather than Ren,  he is surprised. As a parting gift, the grateful director allows her a photo shoot, complete with make-up, which makes Kyoko very happy.

Back at LME, Kyoko unexpectedly encounters one of the other actresses from the LME auditions, who is surprised to see Kyoko there since she flunked the audition. But Moko can’t afford to be too high and mighty, as Kyoko learns that she is the newest member of the Love Me section! Kyoko is determined that the two of them will get through this together, so thrilled is she to have someone else to share her misery with.

Kyoko wants to attend the LME actor training school, in order to work on her craft, but the cost is rather prohibitive. However, when Lory requests a favor of her regarding his wayward granddaughter, Maria, Kyoko wonders if maybe this is the answer to how she can afford to get into the school.

Much going on in this volume. I think Kyoko is becoming serious about her acting, as opposed to just wanting to become more successful than Sho. It’s not just an ends to a mean, but something she really wants to learn to do well. Also, I think Ren is starting to see her as someone with more talent than he’s given her credit for. Okay, so Kyoko didn’t get the part. No one wins all the time, but she won something more. She was able to make a veteran actress change her horrible ways, and she brought out something in Ren. Or he brought it out in her. Or maybe it’s mutual.

I love Lory’s faith in her. He’s rather unconventional, but a lot of fun, and he sincerely loves his granddaughter, who is just a little girl but is being blamed for the death of her mother. No wonder she acts up! He has a feeling that Ms. Mogami can get through to her. At least he hopes so, as he doesn’t know where else to turn. I love the bonding that takes place between Kyoko and Maria (even if others might find it a little frightening). I love the humor in this series, but it’s also serious and dramatic too.

Looking forward to the next volume.

Book Review: Skip Beat! Vol 2 by Yoshiki Nakamura

Skip Beat! Vol 2     

Author: Yoshiki Nakamura

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: September 5, 2006

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Kyoko’s audition for LME has failed, so she finds another day job instead.  She feels like a loser, which is bad enough, and then she sees Sho in a cosmetics commercial on TV, reminding her of why she wants to succeed in show business. Then just by coincidence a large bus pulls into the place where she works, and who should step out of the bus but Sho himself? Kyoko is terrified he’ll see her and realize her failure, but he doesn’t even recognize her (in all fairness she did get an expensive makeover after selling her Sho memorabilia).  Rather than release her anger at Sho, however, she pretends to be a number one fan, to throw him off the track, even speaking the words he longs to hear.

Meanwhile, the head of LME, Lory, is intrigued by what he has seen of Kyoko, and sets the stage for her return. At least he hopes she’ll return. Ren Tsuruga does not hope so, since he dislikes her reason for wanting to exceed in show business. But Lory sees something in her and wants to fan that spark into a flame. And go back she does, determined to succeed. Which is how she ends up in LME’s new section – the Love Me Section. Not quite what she was hoping for, but hey, it’s a foot in the door. Work her way up from the bottom? In this case, she’s starting from the basement! And she has to do anything that is requested of her, no matter how silly or menial or demeaning. How well she does will be reflected in the points she is given for her job. And if she earns enough points, she can become a proper part of the agency. What does it matter that she has to wear a bright hot pink uniform with Love Me written on back and front, and that people who see her are laughing at her? He who laughs last laughs best, after all.

Kyoko runs into LME actress Ruriko Matsunai, who wishes to make a request of her, which Kyoko agrees to. Unknown to her, Lory is hoping that by putting Ruriko into a film with Ren,  Ren can help to cure some of her bad habits. Such as lack of punctuality. And demanding to be pampered. Ruriko has had a special umbrella made for some outdoor scenes (costing a day of delay waiting for the umbrella). She wants Kyoko to carry it for her. Kyoko, thinking the actress is allergic to UV rays, is determined to be her white knight and help keep her safe. She ends up carrying the actress up a hill toward the shooting set and injuring herself in the process. Can that be Ren Tsuruga to the rescue? Le gasp!

When Ruriko displays her usual bratty behavior and refuses to work, the director gets Kyoko to step in for her, despite her injury. And suddenly Ruriko is worried that she may actually lose her role to someone she refers to as a hyena. Could this be Kyoko’s big break?

I can’t say enough good things about this series and love it to death. Kyoko is such an interesting character, and certainly not perfect. You could definitely say she has issues, chief among them Sho Fuwa. But she has integrity and she takes pride in her work, and goes above and beyond the call of duty.  And she has a very big heart. How can you not hope she gets the final laugh at Sho? Lory is quite the character, a man of a million costumes and quirks, but he has a good heart and good instincts about people.

Another great volume, looking forward to the next.