Monday, May 16, 2016

I Reads You Review: THE HEIRESS AND THE CHAUFFEUR Volume 1

THE HEIRESS AND THE CHAUFFEUR, VOL. 1 (OF 2)
VIZ MEDIA – @VIZMedia

[A version of this review first appeared on Patreon.]

MANGAKA: Keiko Ishihara
TRANSLATION/ENGLISH ADAPTATION: pinkie-chan
LETTERS: Rina Mapa
ISBN: 978-1-4215-8645-8; paperback (May 2016); Rated “T” for “Teen”
200pp, B&W, $9.99 U.S., $12.99 CAN, £6.99 UK

The Heiress and the Chauffeur is a shojo manga from Keiko Ishihara (the creator of Strange Dragon).  The series is set in Japan's turn-of-the-century Taisho Era (1912 to 1926) and focuses on the close personal relationship between a young lady and her chauffeur, a relationship that is the subject of some scandal in local high society.

The Heiress and the Chauffeur, Vol. 1 (Chapters 1 to 4) introduces Sayaka Yoshimura, daughter of the Yoshimura Family.  When the young heiress has to be driven to and from her all-girls finishing school, the servant to do that is 22-years-old Shinobu Narutaki, the chauffeur to the Yoshimura Family.  When rumors swirl at the school that she is having a forbidden love affair with Narutaki, Sayaka scoffs at those rumors.

Still, Sayaka and Narutaki have been together for a long time.  Sayaka's mother died, and her father is often away on business.  For so long, he has been by her side when she needs someone.  When Narutaki breaks decorum, however, Sayaka may have to dismiss him.  Can she really do that?

[This volume includes a short story, “Lucas and the Bandit,” and a series bonus story, “The Promise from Four Years Ago.”]

As shojo manga go, The Heiress and the Chauffeur is rather ordinary.  Hey, it is just another love story about a teen girl who has become attached to the guy who has always been by her side.  It is quite familiar:  he's always been by my side, and he is like a brother to me, says the impressionable young heroine.

The Heiress and the Chauffeur Volume 1 sets itself apart by delving into the nature of social class and of societal expectations.  There are times in this series when it seems as if creator Keiko Ishihara does not understand the fact that the romance between her leads feels strongest when it is threatened.  It is so obvious that Sayaka and Narutaki are in love that it would be weird if they were not.  The conflict and especially the push and pull from outside forces against their relationship is what really drives this narrative.  I would like to see more of that melodrama than the lovey-dovey stuff.

B

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a "I Reads You"


The text is copyright © 2016 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.

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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Book Review: GONE AGAIN - A Jack Swyteck Novel

GONE AGAIN
HARPER (HarperCollins Publishers) – @HarperCollins

AUTHOR: James Grippando – @James_Grippando
ISBN: 978-0-06-236870-6; hardcover (March 1, 2016)
400pp, B&W, $26.99 U.S.

Gone Again is a 2015 crime and mystery novel from author and attorney, James Grippando.  It is also the thirteenth novel featuring Grippando’s Miami-based, criminal defense attorney, Jack Swyteck.  In Gone Again, Swyteck takes on his first death-row client since The Pardon.

Three years ago, 17-year-old Sashi Burgette vanished on her way to school.  The night after her disappearance, ex-con Dylan Reeves was stopped for drunk driving,  The police found Sashi's panties in his trunk, still damp with Reeves' semen.  The police videotaped Reeves' drunken explanation, which they spun into a confession, sealing his fate.  As the novel begins, Reeves is just days away from being executed.

To help some old friends, Jack Swyteck has rented office space at the old house where the Freedom Institute is located.  Swyteck got his start at the Institute, which defends death-row inmates, but he does not plan on doing that kind of work again.  Fate, however, brings Debra Burgette, the mother of Sashi, to Swyteck's door.

Debra claims that Sashi has been calling her, which the police have dismissed as a cruel hoax.  Swyteck feels compelled to take her case and to help the Freedom Institute as it tries to get a stay of execution for Dylan Reeves.  Meanwhile, the State Attorney refuses to consider new evidence in Reeves' case, and the governor of Florida has signed Reeves' death warrant.  An innocent man may be executed, and it is up to Jack Swyteck and his colleagues and friends to find Sashi or find answers.  But the truth is complicated and the case is full of twists.  Meanwhile, Swyteck's wife, FBI Agent Andie Henning, is in the middle of a difficult and dangerous pregnancy.

I read my first Jack Swyteck novel, Blood Money, a few years ago, and followed that up with Black Horizon.  Last year, James Grippando offered readers two non-Swyteck novels, the ruthless Cane and Abe and the heist novel, Cash Landing.  I enjoyed Cane and Abe, but I found Cash Landing's lead character to be hard to like, which spoiled the book for me.

I was thrilled when HarperCollins offered a galley/review copy of Gone Again, after I learned that it was a new Swyteck novel.  Like Blood Money, Gone Again is twisty and shocking, and although the book was a late winter release, it is the perfect summer potboiler.  The reader will race through this page-turner, which is full of courtroom theatrics, depraved bad guys, and lurid family melodrama.

James Grippando is not a prose stylist, but his clean, efficient storytelling suggests that he is an author who truly enjoys telling his audience a riveting story.  Gone Again presents what is essentially an ending of one part of Swyteck's life and also a beginning of a new life, one that may be unknown even to the author.  Whatever it is, wherever this series goes, Grippando's tales of suspense have earned him a devoted audience that will be waiting around a campfire the next time he decides to tell a story.

A-

www.jamesgrippando.com

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux


The text is copyright © 2016 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

I ReadsYou in Sleep Mode

I will not do the solemn fake thing.  I'll just come right out with it.  I am putting I Reads You in sleep mode.  This is not really a hiatus, as I plan on rousing I Reads You from slumber and posting on her from time to time.

I am shifting most of what I post here to my Negromancer blog.  Right now, it is not financially feasible to spend time maintaining two blogs, and Negromancer's numbers are more than twice what I get here.  Because of some new sales tax law, Amazon now excludes my home state of Louisiana from its "Amazon Associates" program.

Despite the fact that many people read this blog and many even "borrow" the material that I post here, I do not receive any donations to support I Reads You.  With the Amazon Associates program unavailable to me and the Google Ad program largely a scam of unpaid promises, I Reads You is penniless.

I do appreciate all the visitors that I have received since I first began I Reads You back in September 2009.  Please, come back some now and again, and there may be something new to read.

Leroy Douresseaux


Sunday, April 3, 2016

Review: STARBRAND AND NIGHTMASK #1

STARBRAND AND NIGHTMASK No. 1
MARVEL COMICS – @Marvel

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

WRITER: Greg Weisman
ART: Domo Stanton
COLORS: Jordan Boyd
LETTERS: VC's Clayton Cowles
COVER: Yasmine Putri
VARIANT COVERS:  Emanuela Lupacchino with Jason Keith; Skottie Young; Keron Grant (Hop Hop variant)
28pp, Color, $3.99 U.S. (February 2016)

Rated T+

Eternity's Children; Chapter One: “Matriculation”

In 1986, Marvel Comics introduced the “New Universe,” a line of comic books set in a universe that was separate from the main “Marvel Universe.”  This universe was to feature super-powered individuals that skewed towards being more realistic than Marvel's main superhero characters.

One of the first New Universe comic books was Star Brand #1 (cover dated: October 1986), which was created by then Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter.  The “Star Brand” was a star-shaped tattoo-like mark that gave the one who boar the mark infinite, god-like powers, limited only by the wielder's imagination (a rift on a Green Lantern's “power ring”).  Kenneth “Ken” Connell, a mechanic from Pittsburgh, was the first to receive the Star Brand.

Debuting in the second month of the New Universe launch was Nightmask #1 (cover dated: November 1986), created by Archie Goodwin.  The first Nightmask was Keith Remsen, who had the power to enter people's dreams telepathically.

In 2006, Marvel Comics published a re-imagining of the New Universe, entitled newuniversal (February 2007), and it was designed by Warren Ellis.  The characters' powers were based on their possession of glyphs, which is what the “Starbrand” became.  The launch of the “All-New, All-Different Marvel” unites two characters from newuniversal, Starbrand and Nightmask, in a new comic book series.  Entitled Starbrand and Nightmask, the series is written by Greg Weisman; drawn by Domo Stanton; colored by Jordan Boyd; and lettered by Clayton Cowles.

Starbrand and Nightmask #1 (“Matriculation”) opens with Starbrand (Kevin Conner) and Nightmask (Adam) exiting “The Superflow” and returning to Earth, specifically China.  After a battle and an offer to join the New Avengers, Starbrand discovers that Nightmask has enrolled the two of them at Empire State University (E.S.U.).  They are now incoming freshmen Kevin Conner and Adam Blackveil.  Adam wants the both of them to have more interaction with humanity, but the superhero stuff will not go away just because they are now college students.

I didn't read newuniversal.  I don't think that I was visiting comic book shops very much around the time it was released.  I don't think that I will be reading Starbrand and Nightmask very much.  It is not a bad comic book, but it reads like one of those “Marvel Age” and “Marvel Adventure” comic books that Marvel started publishing in 2003.

Writer Greg Weisman offers a story that is appropriate for middle school readers.  As a writer-producer of animated television series, Weisman knows how to write juvenile action-adventure fantasy.  Starbrand and Nightmask #1 certainly has that antiseptic quality that meets the conservative standards of most animated content on American cable networks.

The art by Domo Stanton has a generic juvenile/young readers graphic novel quality.   Starbrand and Nightmask #1 is practically indistinguishable from the run-of-the-mill graphic novels from First Second or Scholastic.  Even the cover art Yasmine Putri has a golly-gee-whiz quality.  As I said, this isn't bad so much as it is unimaginative and doggedly harmless.  Good luck with this, Marvel

C+

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux


The text is copyright © 2016 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


Saturday, April 2, 2016

Friday, April 1, 2016

Review: LUCIFER #1

LUCIFER No. 1
DC COMICS/Vertigo – @DCComics

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

WRITER: Holly Black
ART: Lee Garbett
COLORS: Antonio Fabela
LETTERS: Todd Klein
COVER: Dave Johnson
32pp, Color, $3.99 U.S. (February 2016)

Suggested for mature readers

Based on characters created by Neil Gaiman, Sam Keith, and Mike Dringenberg

Cold Heaven Part One: “Prodigal Sons”

DC Comics' version of Lucifer Morningstar was created by Neil Gaiman and Sam Keith and first appeared in The Sandman #4 (cover dated:  April 1989).  Lucifer was a supporting character, and later, was the star of his own ongoing series (Lucifer, 2000 to 2006), entirely written by Mike Carey.

DC Comic's Vertigo returns the character to regular comic books with the new ongoing series, Lucifer.  This series is written by Holly Black; drawn by Lee Garbett; colored by Antonio Fabela; and lettered by Todd Klein.

Lucifer #1 (“Prodigal Sons”) opens in Los Angeles, California, 2015.  Lucifer is back, and he immediately opens a new hangout for his kind of people, called the “Ex Lux.”  Meanwhile, semi-fallen angel, Gabriel, is dragged back to Silver City in Heaven, where his brother makes him an offer.  He's not the only one not happy by the return of Lucifer.

Sometimes, I can't help but write a short review, which has garnered me a complaint or two, so here goes.  Lucifer is mildly entertaining.  Its imagination exists at a bare minimum.  I may read the second issue out of mild curiosity.  Surely, Vertigo can do better than this.

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux


The text is copyright © 2015 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint or syndication rights and fees.

I Reads April Showers - No Droughts, Please!

It's April 2016.  Welcome to I Reads You, a ComicBookBin web and sister publication (www.comicbookbin.com).  We write about the things we read:  mostly comic books, comics, and related books.  Sometimes, we’ll write about or link to other topics:  typically books, politics, and entertainment.

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