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-- Library Journal, 02/01/2007

Week of January 30th

Fiction | Nonfiction

Fiction

Fast Forward 1: Future Fiction from the Cutting Edge. Pyr: Prometheus. Feb. 2007. c.320p. ed. by Lou Anders. ISBN 1-59102-486-2 [ISBN 978-1-59102-486-6]. pap. $15. SF

Sf anthologies generally trace their roots back to the classic Amazing Stories magazine series, which began in 1926. Having edited a number of sf collections, Anders understands this historical context; his introduction to his fifth anthology is an invitation to the young acolyte reader as well as the grizzled veteran to sit back and enjoy the "amazing" enlightenment possible in reading sf shorts. The names on the list of contributing authors read much like an All-Star roster of current American and British sf writers. From stories by Tony Ballantyne about software and David Hume to the problems associated with raising genetically cloned saber-toothed cats in Mary Turzillo's story "Pride," the writers tackle moral, ethical, and philosophical issues. Anders is your guide, and the limits of your imagination determine the level of enjoyment and amount of wisdom to be garnered from this anthology. Recommended for both public and school libraries.—David Wang, GSLIS student, Queens Coll., NY

Mancusi, Marianne. A Hoboken Hipster in Sherwood Forest. Love Spell: Dorchester. Feb. 2007. c.320p. ISBN 0-505-52674-3 [ISBN 978-0-505-52674-8]. pap. $6.99. CONTEMPORARY TIME TRAVEL

Zapped back in time to save another time traveler (Kat from A Connecticut Fashionista in King Arthur's Court) from being stuck forever in the wrong century, hippie-tinged fashion photographer Chrissie Hayward lands in Sherwood Forest, puts her gymnastic skills to good use by knocking gorgeous Robin of Locksley off a log, and quickly learns that he and his Merry Men aren't all they are cracked up to be. But Chrissie needs assistance, so she helps them become the noble outlaws of legend, something that both challenges her abilities and ultimately threatens her heart. Heavily laced with modern jargon and references, this quirky, nicely romantic tale is a light, funny read that will appeal primarily to chick-lit rather than serious time-travel fans. Mancusi (What, No Roses?) lives in Boston.—Kristin Ramsdell, California State Univ., East Bay

Nonfiction

Haas, Elson M., M.D., with Buck Levin. Staying Healthy with Nutrition: The Complete Guide to Diet and Nutritional Medicine. 21st century ed. Celestial Arts. 2007. 927p. bibliog. index. ISBN 1-58761-179-1 [ISBN 978-1-58761-179-7]. pap. $39.95. HEALTH

Haas has updated his nutritional reference book, first published in 1992 (see LJ's review here), with expanded chapters on lifestyle issues, viral illnesses, and special supplements. Although readers will encounter a good deal of helpful, accurate, and in-depth information, that material is unfortunately combined with advice on unproven and potentially dangerous dietary regimes such as detoxification, orthomolecular nutrition, and macrobiotic diets. Mixed messages ultimately render the text confusing to healthcare consumers. For example, the discussion of laetrile, which is illegal in the United States, states that more research in needed to determine its effectiveness. Yet, Haas goes on to state that "no known problems are caused by not consuming this 'vitamin' other than, theoretically, a deficiency could increase the likelihood of developing cancer." Libraries are better off with Roberta Larson Duyff's American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, 2d. edition (see LJ's review of the first edition here), for basic nutrition information and Frances Sizer and Ellie Whitney's Nutrition: Concepts & Controversies for deeper coverage. Not recommended.—Robin Sabo, Centeral Michigan Univ. Lib., Mount Pleasant

Higham, Charles. Dark Lady: Winston Churchill's Mother and Her World. Carroll & Graf. Feb. 2007. c.256p. photogs. bibliog. index ISBN 0-7867-1889-7 [ISBN 978-0-78671-889-4]. $25.95. BIOG

Prolific biographer Higham (Howard Hughes: The Secret Life) provides readers with a new look at the life of Jennie Jerome Churchill, Winston Churchill's mother. Vivacious, bold, daring, and progressive, she helped her husband, Lord Randolph Churchill, rise to prominence in British politics, had affairs while married, and after the death of her husband wed men who were much younger than she. The author provides readers with a glimpse into the lives and lifestyles of the British aristocracy from the Victorian era into the early 1920s. The book is well researched, but Higham at times refutes the statements of previous biographers of Jennie Churchill (e.g., as to whether Randolph Churchill had syphilis) without providing specific source notes (his bibliography and notes on sources are general). This book furnishes useful and accessible context for general readers seeking to learn about Winston Churchill's background. As such, it is recommended for public libraries.—Diane Fulkerson, Univ. of West Georgia Lib., Carrollton

Hollis, James. Why Good People Do Bad Things: Understanding Our Darker Selves. Gotham: Penguin Group (USA). Feb. 2007. c.288p. index. ISBN 1-592-40276-3 [ISBN 978-1-592-40276-2. $25. PSYCH

Hollis (director, Jung Educational Ctr., Houston; Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life) elucidates the Jungian concept of the "Shadow," which, if gone unrecognized, can express itself in destructive ways. It takes effort to confront the darker elements, so Hollis aims for wholeness, not goodness, as the educational and therapeutic goal. The simple pursuit of goodness fails because the Shadow contains all human possibilities, including the worst. Hollis takes supportive quotes from William Blake, Walt Whitman, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Sigmund Freud, and Carl Jung, as well as case examples to illustrate Jungian formulas. Clear, literate, and paradoxical, as in the chapter "Luminous Darkness," Hollis both condemns and forgives human individual and collective misdeeds, balancing optimism and pessimism on the human condition, addressing God in "Dark Divinity," and offering sensible if shopworn ideas: growth entails anxiety; it is better to go through pain than try to avoid it. A worthwhile purchase for general, psychology, and self-help collections.—E. James Lieberman, George Washington Univ. Sch. of Medicine, Washington, DC

Lawson, Guy & William Oldham. The Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdered for the Mafia. Scribner. 2007. photogs. ISBN 0-7432-8944-7 [ISBN 978-0-7432-8944-3]. $27.50. CRIME

On March 9, 2005, the arrests of Louis Eppolito and Steven Caracappa in Las Vegas made headlines. The two were former New York City police detectives but so much more: while hunting down Mafiosi in New York, they were also paid informants for Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, underboss in the Luchese family, who referred to them as his "crystal ball" for their ability to tell him about who was informing, who was about to be arrested, and so on. When Casso himself became an informant, he gave up their names, but proving his accusation took years—investigative reporter Lawson's coauthor Oldham, formerly of the NYPD, followed a seven-year quest to see justice done. Since the two cops weren't talking (though one wrote a self-aggrandizing autobiography), Eppolito and Caracappa remain ciphers. This book is more about the mob in New York and the long career of Oldham, who had made a name for himself by going after gangsters of all ethnicities but also made enemies by going after fellow cops, however dirty. In the end, the law was upheld, but was justice done? Recommended for all public libraries.—Deirdre Bray Root, Middletown P.L., OH

Pope Benedict XVI. The Essential Pope Benedict XVI: His Central Writings and Speeches. HarperSanFrancisco: HarperCollins. Mar. 2007. c.416p. ed. by John F. Thornton & Susan B. Varenne. bibliog. index. ISBN 0-06-112883-X [ISBN 978-0-06-112883-7]. $25.95. REL

Former publishing executive Thornton (coeditor, Tongues of Angels, Tongues of Men: A Book of Sermons) and Varenne, a New York City teacher and freelance writer specializing in religion, here collect 40 of the current pope's recent writings before and after his election. The editors' chief goal is "to produce in broad strokes, through his own words, a portrait of the man" and to correct some assumptions about him, a goal they meet very well indeed. Topically grouped, these writings explain Benedict's view of the papacy itself, as well as the church, the liturgy, faith and relativism, Scripture, the priesthood, Christian morality and threats to human life, concluding with Benedict's first encyclical Deus Caritas Est ("God Is Love"). Benedict's writings are preceded by a 20-page introduction by D. Vincent Twomey of St. Patrick's College, Ireland, that traces the development of Joseph Ratzinger's thought over more than 50 years. The writings have helpful notes concerning ideas as well as sources; unfortunately, the authorship of the notes is unclear. Nevertheless, this excellent and accessible volume is highly recommended for academic, seminary, and public libraries.—Carolyn M. Craft, emerita, Longwood Univ., Farmville, VA

Reiley, Amy (text) & Kersti Frigell (illus.). Fork Me, Spoon Me: The Sensual Cookbook. Life of Reiley. 2006. 144p. illus. index. ISBN 0-9774120-0-8. pap. $13.95. COOKERY

As the creator of The Aphrodisiac of the Month newsletter and its associated web site, food and wine consultant Reiley has ample fodder for a book on cooking with aphrodisiacs. Her lively and light style fits her subject well. Not only does she describe her select ingredients (e.g., chocolate, figs, and mint) and their qualities as aphrodisiacs, but she also relates their use in stories and recipes. Following the guideline "K.I.S.S." (Keep It Simple Sexpot), the author has mostly chosen quick and easy recipes that let the chef simply enjoy the sensual pleasures of each dish as much as one's guest. Presentation tips are sprinkled throughout, and there is also a section on where to serve such dishes. The volume is small but gives one a taste of indulgence to warm many an intimate party. Recommended for most public libraries.—Ginny Wolter, West Toledo Branch Lib., OH

Skilnik, Bob. Beer & Food: An American History. Jefferson, dist. by Independent Pubs. Group. 2006. c.258p. illus. ISBN 0-9778086-1-0. $24.95. BEVERAGES

Skilnik, whose previous books include The Low Carb Bartender, traces the history of American beer from Colonial times through the 20th century in this intriguing work. The author's search for the connection between American cooking and beer results in the inclusion of more than 60 recipes for foods that use beer as an ingredient. Over half of these recipes are drawn from historical cookbooks and culinary pamphlets. More recipes for bread, meat, and even dessert dishes are also offered in a chapter dedicated to current American breweries, microbreweries, and trade organizations, each of which contributed several of their own favorite beer-flavored recipes. Larger public libraries with a demand for a short history of beer in America—with plenty of beer-laced recipes—may find this title useful.—John Charles, Scottsdale P.L., AZ


Week of January 23rd

Fiction | Nonfiction

Fiction

Davis, Jill A. Ask Again Later. Ecco: HarperCollins. Feb. 2007. c.256p. ISBN 0-06-087596-8 [ISBN 978-0-06-087596-1]. $23.95. F

Following up on her debut, Girls' Poker Night, Davis again writes about a quirky, idiosyncratic young single woman who is forced to grow up. When her mother develops breast cancer, Emily Rhodes quits her job to care for mom, runs from her love interest, and reunites with her estranged father. Feeling lost, Emily works to understand herself and repair her relationships. Again, humor is Davis's strong suit. And, as before, it's used as her character's defense mechanism, which pushes away her loved ones—and the reader. Illogical, sometimes confusing temporal shifts and very short section divisions further distance the reader. Davis writes with a lack of detail and real emotion, and the characters and situations are subtle and understated to a fault: the book often feels like a broad character sketch rather than a novel. There are moments of poignancy, and it is a quick, funny read, but it is difficult to care for a character who refuses to engage even the reader. Recommended for larger public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/06.]—Amanda Glasbrenner, Chicago

Raybourn, Deanna. Silent in the Grave. Mira: Harlequin. Jan. 2007. c.512p. ISBN 0-7783-2410-9 [ISBN 978-0-7783-2410-2]. $21.95. M

Lady Julia Grey isn't particularly surprised by her young husband's sudden death. After all, Edward came from a family famous for weak constitutions, ill health, and early demises. Yet private detective Nicholas Brisbane—who, unbeknownst to Julia, had been retained by Edward Grey to investigate some threatening letters he received—believes that her husband was poisoned. Skeptical at first, Julia quickly changes her mind after finding one of the letters hidden in Edward's desk and insists on helping with the investigation. The more people Julia questions, the more she realizes that she didn't really know her husband. And the more questions Julia asks, the more she endangers her own life. This first book in a new historical trilogy is filled with delicious tidbits about Victorian England and such luscious period detail as mourning customs, right down to the black borders sewn onto handkerchiefs. Fans of Anne Perry, Amanda Quick, and other authors of Victorian mysteries will be hooked on Raybourn, too. Libraries of all sizes will want this magnificent debut novel for their collections.—Shelley Mosley, Glendale Community Coll. Lib. Media Ctr., AZ

Nonfiction

Hirshey, Gerri. Nowhere To Run: The Story of Soul Music. Southbank, dist. by Trafalgar Square. Feb. 2007. 384p. photogs. index. ISBN 1-904915-10-8 [978-1-904915-10-2]. pap. $14.95. MUSIC

This paperback reissue of a 1984 hardcover digs deep to uncover the essence of soul music, and the superb quality of the material, organization, and writing style shines through. Hirshey (We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The True, Tough Story of Women in Rock) analyzes the cultural, social, and historical contexts of soul, examining its roots in rhythm and blues as well as in gospel and underlining its complex defining components. Divided into three sections, the book first introduces some of those who "sang both sides" and then covers city soul and Southern soul, sweeping through the industry's creative, performing, and recording scenes from Memphis to Motown and beyond. A particularly distinguishing feature is its numerous in-depth interviews, many of which are exclusive. They capture the personalities, philosophies, and unique stories of the likes of Screamin' Jay Hawkins, James Brown, Ahmet Ertegün, Martha Reeves, Wilson Pickett, and Curtis Mayfield. Hirshey's well-researched details, keen perceptions, and engaging prose bring these individuals and their music into sharp and unforgettable focus. An important addition to circulating libraries and those with large music collections that don't own the earlier editions (it's been reprinted several times by various publishers).—Carol J. Binkowski, Bloomfield, NJ

Reading 24: TV Against the Clock. Tauris, dist. by St. Martin's. (Reading Contemporary Television). Mar. 2007. c.256p. ed. by Steven Peacock. bibliog. index. ISBN 1-84511-329-2 [ISBN 978-1-84511-329-2]. pap. $15.95. TV

Intellectuals take on Jack Bauer in this latest entry in Tauris's "Reading Contemporary Television" series, which critically bends popular TV phenomena like Sex and the City, The Sopranos, and Deadwood into semiotic and deconstructionist pretzels. Divided into three sections, the collection features 16 essays written by English and American academics. The first is an aesthetic exegesis of the visual and stylistic tropes and devices that have dynamically driven 24 from its inception. Because the show is inextricably connected with 9/11, having premiered shortly afterward, the second section looks at the duplicitous nature of political agendas and allegiances in and out of the long shadows cast by the war on terrorism. The final essays explicate the nature of identity, both sexual and political, inherent in the show and its characters and features an especially clever spin on the 24's female techno geek, Chloe O'Brian. Not for the casual fan wanting a frothy double latte of bios and anecdotal bric-a-brac, this is a two-fisted double shot of polysyllabic Ph.D. wonks. Recommended only for academic pop culture and media collections.—Barry X. Miller, Austin P.L., TX


Week of January 16th

Fiction | Nonfiction | Graphic Novels


Fiction

Kinsella, Sophie. Shopaholic & Baby. Dial: Random. Mar. 2007. c.368p. ISBN 0-385-33870-8. [ISBN 978-0-385-33870-7]. $24. F

In this latest installment of Kinsella's popular Shopaholic series (Shopaholic & Sister), Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) and Luke are expecting a baby—the perfect excuse to shop. Pregnancy hasn't slowed down Becky's desire for the best of everything, and that includes the best doctor: Venetia Carter, obstetrician to the stars. But when it turns out that Venetia is Luke's glamorous and conniving ex-girlfriend, Becky can't help wondering if her husband is having an affair with her obstetrician. Classic Shopaholic misunderstandings and confusions ensue, while Becky scours the baby boutiques for the latest and greatest prams and cribs. Various subplots, including a New York designer, a beautiful dream house, a photo shoot for Vogue, and a shady private detective, combine to show off Becky's typically well-intentioned but flawed schemes. Series fans will be pleased. Recommended.—Anika Fajardo, Coll. of St. Catherine Lib., St. Paul, MN

Palmer, Michael. The Fifth Vial. St. Martin's. Feb. 2007. c.384p. ISBN 0-312-34351-5 [ISBN 978-0-312-34351-4] $25.95. F

Physician Palmer's (The Patient) 12th medical thriller revolves around the international trade in illegal organ transplants. Natalie Reyes is a world-class athlete–turned–Harvard medical student. Joe Anson is a physician in Africa dealing with his own fatal illness as he develops a drug that promotes the quick growth of new blood vessels. Ben Callahan is a private detective in Chicago whose life badly needs a purpose beyond chasing bail jumpers and cheating spouses. After arriving in Rio for a medical conference, Natalie is attacked and awakens to find a lung missing. When she seeks answers about her treatment, her search leads to a mysterious hospital deep in the jungle. Meanwhile, Joe is finally persuaded to have a life-saving lung transplant so he can continue his work, which is funded by the mysterious Whitestone Foundation. And Ben finds redemption by investigating the sudden death of a young bone-marrow donor; his rail leads to a high-security lab in rural Idaho owned by Whitestone. As with all thrillers involving a Vast Conspiracy, events move into the silly zone at times, but Palmer maintains interest with appealing characters and nonstop action. Recommended for commercial fiction collections where medical thrillers are popular. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/06.]—A.J. Wright, Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham Anestheosology Lib.

Stone, David. The Echelon Vendetta. Putnam. Feb. 2007. c.432p. ISBN 0-399-15408-6 [ISBN 978-0-399-15408-9]. $25.95. F

In this debut spy thriller by the pseudonymous Stone, competent but jaded CIA agent Micah Dalton is assigned to investigate an operative's especially gory death in Italy. Dalton soon connects this killing with a string of other gruesome murders, which werepossibly committed by a knife-wielding Native American who disarms victims with unusual hallucinogens. The tightly plotted action moves to the American Southwest, where Dalton unravels a covert CIA operation gone wrong, accosts the killer, and is finally victorious, perhaps temporarily, for Dalton may have learned too much. Stone's literate thriller includes moments of tension-relieving humor and offers near-believable "tradecraft"—the author is a former intelligence officer—but the manner in which the titular vendetta is accomplished is extraordinary for the number of victims involved and the gut-wrenching nature of its violence. Stone's prose is occasionally dazzling, his descriptions of scenes are evocative, and his depiction of even minor characters is compelling. The deep sadness evident in the protagonist and the subtly insistent suggestions of betrayal may remind the reader of John le Carré, while the writer's craft and the graphic violence may recall Thomas Harris. Recommended for all public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/06.]—Jonathan Pearce, California State Univ., Stanislaus

Nonfiction

Iversen, Portia. Strange Son: Two Mothers, Two Sons and the Quest To Unlock the Hidden World of Autism. Riverhead: Putnam. Jan. 2007. c.416p. ISBN 1-57322-311-5 [ISBN 978-1-57322-311-9]. $24.95. PSYCH

Like all mothers of autistic children, Iversen felt her world turn upside down when her son, Dov, was diagnosed. Unlike most parents, however, Iversen and her husband had contacts in the entertainment industry and scientific community on which to call. Eventually, the author and her husband founded Cure Autism Now (CAN); then they heard about Soma and Tito Mukhopadhyay and the unique and unorthodox teaching methods Soma used to teach Tito to communicate. Tito, although nonverbal and severely autistic, had an IQ of 185 and was a published poet. Iverson was able to bring the Mukhopadhyays here from India so scientists could study them and Iversen could use their insights to reach Dov. Beautifully written and filled with theories about the causes and cures for autism, this work may raise controversy but will be of great interest not only to those with a connection to autism but also to anyone simply seeking a fascinating human interest story. Strongly recommended for public libraries.—Elizabeth Safford, Nevins Memorial Lib., Methuen, MA

Latreille, Francis. White Paradise. Abrams. 2006. 232p. tr.from French by Anthony Roberts. photogs. ISBN 0-8109-3094-3 [ISBN 978-0-8109-3094-0]. $40. SCI

A veteran of many expeditions to the polar regions, French photographer Latreille has documented these trips with award-winning images. His latest work exquistely captures the arctic landscape, its animals, its peoples. Short on text, the volume allows the pictures to convey its message. The Arctic is an extraordinary region that is under great environmental pressure as the climate warms and as pollutants from industrialized counties spread north. The consequences of global warming could well result in the loss of this amazing and unforgiving environment, the animals that live there, and the cultures that have not only survived but thrived there. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries. It would also be useful for high school libraries.—Betty Galbraith, Owen Science & Engineering Lib., Washington State Univ., Pullman

Graphic Novels

Arakawa, Hiromu. Fullmetal Alchemist. Vol. 11. Viz Media. Jan. 2007. 192p. tr. from Japanese by Akira Watanabe. ISBN 1-4215-0838-9 [ISBN 978-1-4215-0838-2]. pap. $9.99. F

Edward Elric is the youngest state alchemist in history; his brother Alphonse is a soul bonded to a suit of armor. They seek the alchemical secret that will allow them to recover Al's body as well as Ed's arm and leg, which he traded to recover Al's soul from the void when an attempt to resurrect their dead mother failed. In Volume 11, Ed returns home only to find that his father, whom the brothers have not seen in ten years, is also there. A confrontation and an overheard conversation spur Ed and Granny to face a horrible truth about the transmutation ritual that cost the brothers so much. Armed with new knowledge, Ed returns to Central City, where Al has been forming an alliance with Lin Yao, a prince of Xing. But answers lead to more questions as the alchemists face off against Scar, the Ishbalan assassin, and King Bradley is seen again in the company of Gluttony, a homunculus. Arakawa's manga morality tale gathers weight: Edward and Alphonse, gifted children whose very human instinct led to an egregious violation of nature, continue to develop into powerful heroes as they learn more about the all-consuming truth that they offended and must defeat. The artwork has a cinematic quality—pans, close-ups, angles, highly-detailed scenes and fight sequences—and is not without moments of good humor. Violence, language, and tobacco use make this suitable for teenagers and adults, for whom this series is highly recommended. [Volume 1 was reviewed in the Graphic Novels column, LJ 1/06.—Ed.]—Ruthanne Price, Vaughan P.L.s., Ont.

BIBLOS. J-Boy. Vol. 1. 2006. 344p. tr. from Japanese by Earl Gertwagen, Sachiko Sato, & others. ISBN 1-56970-875-4 [ISBN 978-1-56970-875-0]. pap. $16.95. F

A massive yaoi anthology, J-Boy features 18 stories by 16 different authors, some of whom are making their U.S. debut. Writers include familiar names like Naduki Koujima (Selfish Love; Our Kingdom) and Homerun Ken (Clan of the Nakagamis) as well as upcomers a la Natsuho Shino (Kurashina Sensei's Passion, due April 2007) and Haruka Minami, who will have three manga published this year. While there is no overall theme to the selection, the majority of the stories are set in high schools or boarding schools. A few "pet" stories have characters with animal ears and tails. The level and quality of writing and art vary; they range from sweet to sarcastic to humorous. Instead of the standard black ink on white paper, each story appears in a single-colored ink (purple, red, or blue) on rough paper. According to the publisher, J-Boy is only going to be one volume; Biblos, the Japanese publisher of the original anthology, went bankrupt earlier this year. Rated M for mature audiences 18+, with a parental advisory of explicit content, although not all the stories contain sexually explicit scenes or nudity. This provides a large sampler of yaoi at a reasonable price. Recommended for libraries where yaoi is in high demand.—June Shimonishi, Torrance P.L., CA

Hagiwara, Kazushi. Bastard!! Vol. 14. Viz Media. Jan. 2007. 192p. tr. from Japanese by Kaori Kawakubo Inoue. ISBN 1-4215-0436-7 [ISBN 978-1-4215-0436-0]. pap. $9.99. F

Bastard!! at its best resembles a 16-year-old metalhead's delirious daydream passionately scribbled into his notebook margins, complete with fully and half-naked women, grotesque monsters, and a smirking antihero. A fun and energetic blend of humor and sword and sorcery, with copious allusions to metal bands from the late 1970s and 1980s (such as the Kingdom of Metallicana and a major villain patterned after shock-rocker King Diamond renamed here as Di-Amon), Bastard!! fits creator Hagiwara's loving description as "heavy metal dark fantasy." The story of the series concerns the adventures of Dark Schneider, an incredibly powerful and basically amoral sorcerer (Hagiwara pointedly notes in Dungeons & Dragons–style character sketches that Dark Schneider's alignment is "Chaotic Evil"), as he travels the lands slaying beasts and bedding beautiful women. By Volume 14, the series has taken a turn toward grim and obtuse apocalyptic science fiction and has mostly abandoned the elements that gave the earlier volumes their charm. Here, Dark Schneider enters a showdown with the massive Anthrasax, a living engine of destruction resembling an H.R. Giger reworking of the Motörhead logo. This volume is almost entirely action, though the epic battle is often hard to follow. While the artwork remains first-rate, one feels as if several panels of necessary exposition were sacrificed to increase the pace of the fight scenes. A disappointing entry in the series. A title for mature audiences, this is recommended only for large adult graphic novel collections.—Ben Lathrop, Fairfield Lane Lib., OH

Hashiguchi, Takashi. Yakitate!! Japan. Vol. 3. Viz Media. Jan. 2007. 200p. tr. from Japanese by Noritaka Minami. ISBN 1-4215-0721-8 [ISBN 978-1-4215-0721-7]. pap. $9.99. F

Kazuma moves to Tokyo from the country to pursue his desire to create "Ja-pan"—a national bread that people will enjoy eating as much as rice. He's aided by his extraordinary "hands of the sun," which allow him to knead dough to perfection. After a series of bread-baking battles, Kazuma has settled into the tiny South Tokyo branch of the Pantasia bakery chain. His new companions are schoolgirl manager Tsukino, baking guru Matsushiro, and friendly rival Kawachi. In the third volume, word of another baking challenge energizes everyone: Kazuma goes on a mysterious quest to Gifu to consult with his great-uncle the ceramics artist; Kawachi starts an ambitious exercise plan in order to become a better baker. He's recognized his rivalry with his former friend and is determined to compete with Kazuma's natural ability and creativity by improving his training. With a field of 58 contestants, will Kazuma and Kawachi bring glory to their bakery? Complications ensue when Tsukino's sister Mizuno joins the contest. Yakitate!! Japan features outrageous puns and over-the-top action scenes involving experimental baking techniques. Dramatic highlights include a butter-choosing contest and Tsukino's rain of tears after eating a bite of wasabi bread. There's no nudity, although some male characters are dressed in tiny swimsuits for comedic effect. Strongly recommended.—Anna Neatrour, Salt Lake City

Hatori, Bisco. Ouran High School Host Club. Vol. 8. Viz Media. Jan. 2007. 184p. tr. from Japanese by RyoRca, Honyaku Center, Inc. ISBN 1-4215-1161-4 [ISBN 978-1-4215-1161-0]. pap. $8.99. F

Poor student Haruhi and her group of host club "hotties" are back in an eighth volume. A host club is a school club made up of gorgeous guys committed (for a fee) to entertaining young ladies, and Haruhi is forced to join the club and dress as a boy to pay off a debt. Volume 8 begins with the kids in class 1-A on a "Best of Cowards" challenge: Haruhi, the twins, and class president Kazukiyo try to spend a night at the school; when the twins find out Kazukiyo is afraid of the dark, they set out to make trouble. Next up is a revealing look at how president Tamaki and vice president Kyoya became friends then started the host club. Finally, the host club is determined to help Ritsu "Bossa Nova" Kasanoda be more likable. In exchange, he agrees to keep Haruhi's secret. The often-used cross-dressing gimmick actually works well in this situation. Aside from the girl-as-boy character, all the standard shojo stereotypes are here: the controlling one, the emotional one, the childlike cute one, the sidekick, and the pair of narcissistic twins. Although the characters seem formulaic, the humor is what sets this title apart—the twins are a particular fan favorite! The volumes are episodic, like a sitcom. Since there is no long story arc, browsers are free to start with whatever is on the shelf. Libraries with teen girls drooling over Fruits Basket will definitely want to meet the boys of this "host club."—Sadie Mattox, DeKalb Cty. P.L., Decatur, GA

Kanno, Aya. Soul Rescue. Vol. 1. Tokyopop. 2006. 192p. tr. from Japanese by Christine Schilling. ISBN 1-59816-672-7 [ISBN 978-1-59816-672-9]. pap. $9.99. F

Heaven, hell, angels, and devils all appear in the first volume of this otherwordly series. Angel Renji is banished from heaven; he's too violent and reckless in his job as the "Sword of God," but God decides to give Renji one more chance. He bestows upon Renji the power of "Soul Rescue"—if Renji can save 10,000 troubled souls with this new power, he can return to heaven. With fellow angel Kaito assigned as his guide and armed with special goggles that help him spot troubled souls, he descends to earth in the guise of a normal human. Angels aren't the only beings who can interact with humans, though. In addition to figuring out how Soul Rescue works, Renji and Kaito have to contend with devils trying to claim souls for hell. In between fights, a pair of devils named Vinny and Toi try to convince Renji that his violent nature makes him more suited for their side. Renji struggles with uncertainty, self-doubt, and even failure. By the end of the volume, the reader can see some change in Renji. This fantasy manga is well written and fun. The artwork is nice though generic. Nevertheless, Soul Rescue has a lot of humor and interesting characters. Recommended.—Kristin Fance, Houston Baptist Univ. Lib.

Kim, Yeon-Joo. Little Queen. Vol. 1. Tokyopop. 2006. 192p. tr. from Korean by Jennifer Hahm. ISBN 1-59816-639-5 [ISBN 978-1-59816-639-2]. pap. $9.99. F

June Narcieq and Lucia Luferr may be classmates, but they are rivals in more than one sense—both are candidates for the appointed position of queen, but more important, both are vying for the love of one young man: Sejuru Ney. June has the advantage—she and Sejuru were childhood chums, and their friendship continues. Lucia, however, is the stronger student. Still, somehow June manages to keep an edge over her rival. In the midst of this, June and Sejuru are drawn away from the school in the company of the young priest, Yuri Schauer. Because of a dream, June finds herself searching for a sleeping prince yet instead wakes a demon king. Once she returns to her school, she and Sejuru must face punishment for their transgression. Will she lose her position in the race for queen? This manhwa is a humorous story than tiptoes along the line between shonen and shojo. Lacking the breadth of the classic in the same genre, Naoko Takeuchi's Sailor Moon, it is still an enjoyable, if lightweight read. The content is very clean—no sex or violence and almost no swearing—and the reading level is quite simple, which makes it suitable for both middle and high school readers. The artwork is attractive; Kim is a versatile artist. With typical Tokyopop production qualities, this volume is well bound on inexpensive paper. Recommended.—Diane Gallagher-Hayashi, Stelly's Sch., Saanich Sch. Dist., Saanichton, B.C.

Kishimoto, Masashi. Naruto. Vol. 12. Viz Media. 2006. 192p. tr. from Japanese by Mari Morimoto. ISBN 1-4215-0242-9 [ISBN 978-1-4215-0242-7]. pap. $7.95. F

Ninja-in-training Naruto faces off with Neji in the third round of their Chunin Selection Exams. Neji is widely considered one of the school's best students, and he expects to beat Naruto, who has failed several tests up to this point. Both Naruto and Neji use their chakra with skill to perform intricate fighting moves while they argue about destiny, and Neji reveals some of his troubled family history during the action-packed battle. After a long fight, Naruto's bag of tricks is empty, and he completely exhausts his chakra. He decides to look deep in himself to tap the power of the Nine-Tailed Fox. Naruto is a spunky hero with an indomitable spirit who tenaciously holds on to the belief that he can be great as long as he never gives up. The supporting characters, Naruto's fellow students, continue to be great sources of story material. Kishimoto's art is kinetic without being frenetic and helps keep the reader on the edge of their seat. Action is seamlessly combined with humor and drama. Also included in this volume are a brief story summary, character profiles, and commemorative artwork by other creators. Another quality installment in a very popular series; rated T for violence; recommended.—Emily Williams, Metropolitan Lib. Syst., Oklahoma City

Oba, Tsugumi (text) & Takeshi Obata (illus.). Death Note. Vol. 9. Viz Media. Jan. 2007. 200p. tr. from Japanese by Tetsuichiro Miyaki. ISBN 1-4215-0630-0 [ISBN 978-1-4215-0630-2]. pap. $7.99. F

Light Yagami is brilliant, confident, charming, and (when a shinigami's Death Note falls into his hands) deadly. What begins as a "noble" quest to rid the world of its criminal element turns into a ruthless game of cat and mouse. In this ninth volume, Light faces two potential problems—Near and Mello. Both are determined to catch Light's killer alter ego, Kira. Near is calculating; Mello is reckless. They are all that stands in the way of Light and world domination. With the help of naïve Misa, Light sets out to eliminate his latest would-be captors. Meanwhile, the apple-loving shinigami enjoys the show. The plot gets more complicated with each volume, so readers have to pay attention. The characters' decisions drive the action forward, and Light manages to be irresistible and terrible; he is both hero and villain, his obsession slowly taking over his rationality. Near and Mello are tragic creatures of circumstance, each one raised as competitors in someone else's race. Fans of Yumi Hotta and Takeshi Obata's Hikaru No Go will recognize Obata's name, but there are no wide-eyed ingénues here: from Light's handsome face to Near's swallowed eyes, the artwork is dark and intense. There is a level of facial detail not often seen, which gives the story a more realistic feel. One of the best manga to come out of Japan in the last few years, Death Note exposes the moral gray area with style. There is no nudity or extreme violence in the series, so it can sit comfortably on a teen shelf, although considering the plot, theme, and character complexity, it's recommended for older teens 16+ and adults.—Sadie Mattox, DeKalb Cty. P.L., Decatur, GA

Oda, Eiichiro. One Piece. Vol. 13: It's All Right! Viz Media. Jan. 2007. 192p. tr. from Japanese by JN Productions. ISBN 1-4215-0665-3 [ISBN 978-1-4215-0665-4]. pap. $7.95. F

Monkey D. Luffy and his ragtag pirate crew are at it again. The crew is stuck in Whiskey Peak, passed out in a drunken stupor among a horde of bounty hunters controlled by a criminal syndicate called Baroque Works. Or is Baroque Works a loose association of idealists whose only goal is to build a utopia? Either way, the swordsman Zolo must face off against them while the rest of his crew sleeps it off! As usual, Monkey's impetuousness and Nami's thirst for riches land the Straw Hat Pirates in the middle of someone else's troubles—this time the young princess of Alabasta Vivi and her giant duck, Karoo, who have Baroque Works on their tail. The Straw Hat Pirates find themselves obliged to return the princess to her homeland by following each station along the Grand Line. As with all of Monkey's distracting adventures, this one manages to push the crew along toward their ultimate goal of attaining the treasure One Piece. Vigorous action sequences flow into relaxed shipboard fun, and Oda never stops revealing new things here and there about the pirates. It is never so much a question of whether Monkey and his friends will escape danger and get to One Piece as it is a question of how they will escape and what the next barrier will be. Oda keeps creating an exciting and bewildering array of obstacles between the pirates and the greatest treasure in the world. Rated teen for violence and blood, the series is recommended.—Ruthanne Price, Vaughan P. L.s, Ont.

Pruett, Joe (text) & John Kissee & Chris Dreier (illus.). Untouchables. Image Comics. 2006. 160p. ISBN 1-58240-659-6 [ISBN 978-1-58240-659-6]. pap. $16.99. F

Pruett tackles the alternate history genre of fiction in graphic novel form with Untouchables, a narrative that asks the question: what if Prohibition had never ended but had extended to include drugs and firearms as well? The answer is that simply gang activity in Chicago would have increased, and that's as far into that interesting concept that the story plunges. Untouchables is a crime noir thriller, hence it is told well in its retro black-and-white art that brings to mind Dick Tracy shorts. Unfortunately, there's little meat on the bones of the script, with stock characters and plot points that fans will see coming light years away. The final installment, a single-issue story, is far superior than the chapters leading up to it. All in all, not a bad read—it's fun and has a few memorable one-liners, but savvy readers will find it hard to take seriously a title that has numerous typos in the published copy; given the overabundance of violence, it's not appropriate for younger readers. Libraries can safely pass.—M. Brandon Robbins, Wayne Cty. P.L., Goldsboro, NC

Reed, Gary (text) & Ron McCain (illus.). Deadworld: The Dead Killer. Image Comics. 2006. 120p. ISBN 1-58240-654-5 [978-1-58240-654-1]. pap. $14.99. F

This collection of Deadworld issues centers on a mysterious stranger with no name who is hunting the zombies that have overrun the earth and reduced humanity to the fringes of existence. Of particular interest to the Dead Killer is the King Zombie, an intelligent, speaking zombie who can organize the rest of the brainless, shuffling "Zeds" into a horrific locust swarm. An interesting concept that appears in other works such as David Wellington's very readable Monster Island and the infamous George Romer film Land of the Dead, Deadworld is a refreshing take on the usual "band of misfits trapped against a horde of the undead" scenario found in this genre. The story unfolds nicely, with intense action and engaging plot threads—Deadworld hits its stride especially at the end of the second arc, with a great showdown between our protagonist and the King Zombie. However, the narrative stumbles at times; the heavyhanded inner monolog prevents total immersion into the tale. The black-and-white illustrations are done in a very loose, sketchy style, reminiscent of Klaus Janson or Bill Sienkiewicz. A few panels come off well, but for the most part, the art fails—perspective is disoreinting, and the flow of action is either poorly detailed or extremely confusing to follow, and there is no mood. McCain's style does not fit horror. While the story grabs your attention, the art takes away too much from Deadworld. The language, adult siutations, and violence make this for adults only. There are much better alternatives within this genre, such as the always excellent Walking Dead series by Robert Kirkman or his Marvel Zombies.—George Sun, New York

Sanbe, Kei. Kamiyadori. Vol. 1. Tokyopop. 2006. 192p. tr. from Japanese by Ray Yoshimoto. ISBN 1-59816-633-6 [ISBN 978-1-59816-633-0]. pap. $9.99. F

Sanbe (Testarotho) is back with another unsettling series that will surely shock, stun, and surprise readers that stumble upon it. The frightening story is set in a distant dark future within a large city where people are at high risk of becoming infected by a mysterious and dangerous virus that can transform them into horrific monsters called Kamiyadori. The Right Arms, a group of specially trained agents, is responsible for sequestering the infected and executing them. Readers see this complex and supernatural world—the nature and power of the Right Arms, the potency of the virus, and the techniques used to track and eradicate the infected—through the eyes of two agents, male and female partners Jil and Vivi. Told with black-and-white, multiple-sized panels, this work is for manga readers who are comfortable taking the time for a close read, as this is crucial to understanding all that is going on. The artwork is solid with well-drawn action scenes and stylish characters. For those who enjoy dark and unsettling artwork and stories, this is definitely a manga to consider picking up. Sanbe is off to a good start here with a number of strong elements that could lead to an extremely good series. But it is solely suited for adult audiences; it is littered with grotesque and graphic violence, ghastly mutations, bursting human bodies, and a substantial amount of nude scenes with Vivi. Recommended for mature readers.—Raphael E. Rogers, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst

Shinohara, Chie. Red River. Vol. 16. Viz Media. Jan. 2007. 200p. tr. from Japanese by Yuko Sawada. ISBN 1-4215-0558-4 [ISBN 978-1-4215-0558-9]. pap. $9.99. F

Summoned as a human sacrifice by the evil Queen Nakia of ancient Anatolia, Yuri, a Japanese high schooler, was rescued by Prince Kail, a sorcerer who can return her to her own time. While struggling to stay alive long enough to return home, Yuri has traveled with and without her prince; experienced war, imprisonment, and love; and become Ishtar incarnate and the beloved concubine of her prince. In the previous volume, Yuri tamed uppity princesses, revealed a murderer in the seraglio, and became a captive of Urhi, Nakia's servant. Kail promises to kill Nakia to recover his concubine unharmed and upon Yuri's release, Kail makes public his intention to marry her. Nakia agrees to support him if Yuri, as Ishtar, becomes the commander-in-chief of the Hittite armies. Accepting the post will bring Yuri into contact with Ramses, the Egyptian soldier who has promised to take Yuri as his Queen. Yuri struggles with her love for Kail, the political machinations and passionate emotions of the other characters, and her integration into a savage empire. The empire, depicted in expansive cityscapes and desert vistas, is a vivid character, and Yuri tries to understand the empire, its people, and her possible place in it. An unabashedly romantic adventure, Red River is a sword-and-sandals epic, not a typical shojo manga. Recommended for older readers and those who enjoy historical novels set in ancient Egypt, Old Testament Israel, or Gilgamesh's Ur.—Christine Gertz, Univ. of Alberta Lib., Edmonton

Takahashi, Rumiko. InuYasha. Vol. 28. Viz Media. Jan. 2007. 192p. tr. from Japanese by Mari Morimoto. ISBN 1-4215-0468-5 [ISBN 978-1-4215-0468-1]. pap. $8.95. F

Somewhere inside Mount Hakurei lurks the evil Naraku, and Inuyasha is determined to beat the remaining members of the Band of Seven to get to him. Unfortunately, the holy barrier surrounding Mount Hakurei strips Inuyasha of his demon side, which leaves him a defenseless human in his battle against Jakotsu. Meanwhile, Miroku and Sango discover the source of the barrier, the reanimated mummy of a holy monk. Unable to reason with the monk, Miroku destroys the barrier with his wind tunnel, giving Inuyasha back his power and allowing him to defeat Jakotsu. This puts Inuyasha in line for another battle against Bankotsu, the leader of the Band of Seven, until Naraku decides finally to make his appearance. This volume is entirely plot-driven, since it marks the beginning of the end of the compelling Mount Hakurei arc; multiple threads are brought together and tied up in preparation for a new direction: Inuyasha rushes around fighting, while the other characters make cameos that end with them all being in the same place at the same time for the upcoming battle. Up to almost 50 volumes in Japan, Inuyasha is one of the longest-running series by the popular Takahashi; her combination of action, romance, and comedy, brought together by an engaging cast of characters, will maintain the popularity of the series in the United States.—Krista Hutley, Lakeside Sch., Seattle

Takei, Hiroyuki. Shaman King. Vol. 11: Blood and Pompadours. Viz Media. Jan. 2007. 200p. tr. from Japanese by Lillian Olsen. ISBN 1-4215-0678-5 [ISBN 978-1-4215-0678-4]. pap. $7.95. F

The latest volume in the series finds Yoh Asakura and the other shamans traveling the American West looking for the site of the Shaman Fight, where the competition for the title of Shaman King will be held. Shamans can channel the spirits of the dead, and Yoh possesses the spirit of Amidamaru, a long-dead, formidable samurai warrior who assists him in his battles. The other shamans also have powerful spirit allies, and the rivalry among them has made the preliminary battles fierce and bloody. Whoever survives the hazardous journey to Patch Village, the site of the fight, will be deemed worthy to participate in the final competition. Hao Asakura, a twice-reincarnated shaman, is determined to narrow the field by sending a ruthless vampire and his companions to kill Yoh's friends. The nonstop action of the earlier volumes continues, as Yoh strives for the Shaman King title. Typical shonen characters and battle styles are portrayed by the black-and-white illustrations that accent the text. The story line is easy to follow and will hold the reader's interest. Rated teen, ages 13+, for violent situations. Recommended for all libraries.—Cathleen Baxter, Oceanside P.L., CA

Tanemura, Arina. Full Moon Sagashite. Vol. 7. Viz Media. 2006. 184p. tr. from Japanese by Tomo Kimura. ISBN 1-4215-0476-6 [ISBN 978-1-4215-0476-3]. pap. $8.99. F

Twelve-year-old Misaki loves just two things: singing and childhood friend Eiichi. Eiichi moved to America, but Misaki promised she'd become famous and find him, but her grandmother forbids her to sing, as music caused several family tragedies. Misaki also suffers from throat cancer, and without an operation, she will die, but it would destroy her voice. Then two shinigami (death spirits) appear to ensure that she dies on schedule, but charmed by the spunky young girl, Takuto and Meroku end up using magic to make her temporarily older and healthy so she can enter a contest and become an idol singer. As "Full Moon," she begins to become successful, and many secrets are uncovered—for instance, the shinigami are the souls of those who commit suicide, and these two are heavily connected to Misaki and her tragic past. By the seventh and final volume, the secrets are out, and everyone must deal with the revelations while confronting the god of death. Misaki must also decide once and for all if she wants to stay alive. The twists and turns in this tale are heart-wrenching and engrossing, as Tanemura keeps readers guessing the outcome right to the end. Misaki wavers between strong beyond her years and believably fragile—there's an underlying frailty to most of the characters that makes them compelling. The artwork is gorgeous and detailed. An excellent choice for shojo fans.—Teresa Copeland, Yuma Cty. Lib. Dist., AZ

Yoshida, Akimi. Banana Fish. Vol. 17. Viz Media. 2006. 192p. tr. from Japanese by Pookie Rolf. ISBN 1-4215-0527-4 [ISBN 978-1-4215-0527-5]. pap. $9.99. F

Set in 1985 New York City, this manga depicts a Japanese photojournalist doing a story on a 17-year-old street gang leader named Ash Lynx. Eiji Okumura, the photojournalist's assistant, befriends Ash and is drawn into his dangerous and brutal world. At a young age, Ash was sold to crime boss "Papa" Dino Golzine to become an addition to Golzine's child sex trade. Golzine eventually grooms Ash to be heir to his large crime empire. A trained assassin with a beautiful face, Ash wants only his freedom. When he stumbles across the mysterious drug "Banana Fish," Ash discovers the means to destroy Golzine. The stakes are high, as Golzine will use his power and influence to keep Ash from exposing a national scandal involving government corruption. In Volume 17, Golzine has put a bounty on Ash's return. An army of mercenaries, led by the sadistic Colonel Foxx, attack the street gangs and capture Ash. Packed with drama, the series races to an emotional finale in Volume 19. The simple, clean lines of Yoshida's artwork energize the story. Ash is an extremely complex and memorable character. Considered a shojo title, Banana Fish was a huge crossover success in Japan, attracting a large male readership. Rated ages 16+ for strong language, explicit violence, and mature themes, this will appeal to older readers in search of serious and dramatic works. Highly recommended for all adult manga collections.—June Shimonishi, Torrance P.L., CA

See the January 15th Xpress Reviews.





 
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