Review: The Biggest Scoop - Gillian St. Kevern

The Biggest Scoop by Gillian St. Kevern

"I call bull."

"Logan," Mr. Perry said mildly. "This is English class. If you call bull, you have to provide at least three citations--"

Actually, this isn't a review. Not really. Because this is the story that Gillian wrote for me for the M/M Romance Group's 2015 Don't Read in the Closet event. So, spoilers, I really like it.

Taylor is the new kid and Milo is going to write the biggest scoop on him. Hijinks ensue. Sorry, that's all your getting. It's free! Go read it! (While this story is appropriate for readers of all ages, other things at this link may not be safe for work or underage readers.)

I really like sweet romance stories. I don't think you have to get naked to get a story taut with tension, and while I left room in my request for a college age romance (and thus old enough) Gillian went the way I was hoping, with a high school romance. There was a hint of mystery I wasn't expecting, and just a glimmer of dangerous intrigue. A few readers (as you'll see in the reviews) were not happy with the amount of High School politics and just how young the main characters were, but I quite enjoyed it.

Gillian as well is a native of New Zealand. There is one word that should have been caught by an American, but the only other contention I have with the story is purely from living so close to the town she has set her story in. Tarrytown! Haha, oh man, I just loved that. More stories should be set in the Hudson Valley.

The dialogue is snappy, the characters crackle, especially with one another, the teachers and adults are fully-realized! Almost everyone is more than they seem and the end is a satisfying happy end for our heroes and heroines. I highly recommend this if you are looking for a lightly sweet story to make you smile and laugh a lot.

196pp. 17 Sept. 2015. 

Review: Kiss Him, Not Me! #1 - Junko

From Amazon
"This reality is unbelievable!"

Sweet otaku Serinuma Kae is just your average fangirl who is also overweight. She's really nice, pretty smart and, of course, has a very active fantasy life as a fujoshi. While daydreaming about her classmates Igarashi and Nanashima with her friend Ah, one of the boys falls on top of her, letting us see her interactions with them as well as the other two boys in this story, Mutsumi, an older student and fellow History club member and Shinomiyo, a younger and very cold student.

From tumblr (unknown)
After the latest episode of her favorite anime airs, her favorite character (who happens to look a lot like Nanashima) dies in a sword fight (I think???) and she falls into a depression so deep she doesn't eat for a week, arising on the eighth day looking like a model. Of course, the boys fall over themselves to date her (except Mutsumi who is cool, knew it was her immediately and maybe just wants to study???).

"Can she do it? A real life Otome game"

Hijinks ensue.

Kae is typical to many manga leads, except she isn't exactly pining to go out with any of the boys who want to go out with her. As the title suggests, she'd rather they dated each other. Of course, when flirted with, she blushes and when showered with attention, her heart races, but I know plenty who still act that way*.

From tumblr
Of course, an unreal fantasy wouldn't be complete without our heroine being fully accepted for her socially stigmatized ways. Is it impossible, no, especially considering the treatment these boys gave her before her transformation.

"Can she get along with the ball?"

I'm actually looking forward to seeing the friendship of these five develop (and forgive my fujoshi heart, but I'm really hoping that a relationship between two of the boys actually does develop) as the series goes on. I've already pre-ordered the next two books.

I'm already kind of rooting for Mutsumi because he recognized her kindness, knows her more than the others, as they are in history club together. I've never been one for the whole senpai-madness, but I, as perhaps is typical, enjoy the idea of an older student with a younger student. He helps her study, is mature and sweet... The realist in me really can't tell yet who she will end up with (and with five volumes already out, maybe Junko doesn't know yet?) but am getting vibes from Igarashi as a potential front-runner. Though in this chapter (the sports chapter) we see growth in one character, perhaps as the series goes on, we will see the more positive things about each character. Though I wonder if I can get any more positive about Mutsumi!

From tumblr
"The strange room and the four high-school boys"

My biggest qualm was that the characters of Kae's mother and brother were so two-dimensional (her mother, literally) only really reacting to a specific aspect of Kae, her physical beauty, previously her being overweight. Her brother is so fashionable, he's either just a caricature I don't completely grasp, or he's destined to confuse Kae's fantasies by being the object of desire for one of her admirers... I honestly have no idea where this will go.

Though sometimes questionable, I find this first volume very enjoyable. I definitely laughed out loud a couple of times. I went ahead and preordered the series.

*Me, I mean me.

160pp. Kodansha Comics. 13 Oct. 2015.