Steady Beat Volume 2

I enjoyed the first volume of this series, although I was concerned that maybe a bit too much was being attempted — it seemed that the book had more plots and revelations than it might have space for. Things are much more focused here in volume two. It opens with a return to the key plot points, re-introducing the Texas suburb in which Leah lives, complete with expectations of church attendance and hidden secrets. In a few quick conversations with […]

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Crimson Hero Volume 4

I was a bit stunned to see the cover on this installment of the series by Mitsuba Takanashi, especially in comparison to the first book. That volume showed a girl in traditional dress struggling to play volleyball, indicating a culture clash aspect that seems to have gone by the wayside. Now, it looks as though it’s sun, sex, and oh, yeah, sport. The cover is a bit misleading, as advertising sometimes is. But it is true that the driving force […]

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Yakitate!! Japan Volume 1

The latest entry in the “I must be the best at ___” manga genre combines cooking and competition in an unusual way in Yakitate!! Japan volume 1. Kazuma is determined to become a world-class baker and create a national bread worthy of Japan, one that tastes better than rice. (It’s a pun, you see, since “pan” is Japanese for bread.) Kazuma leaves his family and hometown to apprentice at a “super-famous” Tokyo bakery. It’s been an uphill battle for him. […]

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Project X: Seven Eleven

Unlike its predecessors in this series (Cup Noodle and 240Z), Project X – The Challengers – Seven Eleven – The Miraculous Success of Japan’s 7-Eleven Stores is relatively restrained in its adjectives. The thrust of this story is the development of the convenience store, driven by youthful amateurs, and the way it revolutionized the retail industry. The introduction (written in 2001) hopes that it will serve as an inspiration to the salary-men disturbed by the then-current recession. Which makes me […]

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The Dreaming Volume 1

In this original graphic novel by Queenie Chan, twin girls enter a remote boarding school in the Australian wilderness. From the beginning, there’s an air of something wrong. The girls are warned that they must pretend they’re not twins, only sisters, because of an odd prejudice on the vice-principal’s part. Their aunt, headmistress of the school, leaves as soon as they arrive. The quieter, more sensitive girl begins acting in a way that worries her more outgoing sister. Disturbing pictures, […]

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Case Closed Volume 13

Like an episode of a good television serial, the latest edition of Case Closed by Gosho Aoyama may not be outstanding or unique, but it is entertaining in a fashion consistent with the series overall. (The most recent entry in the series I’ve reviewed was volume 11.) First comes the conclusion to the last case from the previous book. I do wish that they would divvy up the chapters better, or more prominently label the books — I would have […]

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Crimson Hero Volume 3

I’m still enjoying the competition demonstrated in this story of a girl’s attempt to build a volleyball team, but this entry by Mitsuba Takanashi wasn’t as much fun as the earlier volumes. There are two reasons for that: the first is my memory. The book opens with the girls’ volleyball team finally forming and playing together. There are six team members … and I only remember the back story and characterizations for three of them. I wish I had the […]

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Kat & Mouse

Kat has just moved from the Midwest to New England, where her dad is the new science teacher at a private school. When a break-in at the science lab puts his job in jeopardy, Kat and new friend Mouse are determined to find out who’s responsible in this series written by Alex de Campi and drawn by Federica Manfredi. It’s a familiar setting, with plenty of welcoming hooks for the reader. As a high concept, it’s Nancy Drew meets Mean […]

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