Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Midnight Secretary manga review

Midnight Secretary is a supernatural romance manga series by Ohmi Tomu that was serialized in the manga magazine Petit Comic since 2006, with the 34th and final chapter published in the May 2009 issue.[1] The serial chapters were collected in seven shinshobon volumes by Shogakukan.

Midnight Secretary follows the relationship between Kaya Satozuka, a private secretary, and her boss, Director Kyouhei Touma of the Touma Company, who is a vampire.

Considered to be the "perfect secretary" yet constantly criticized for her ultra-conservative dress style by her boss, Director Kyouhei Touma of the Touma Company, Kaya lives a normal life until she finds out that her employer is actually a vampire. Despite uncovering his identity, she dedicates herself to serving the Director to the best of her abilities. The early part of the story focuses on the trials and tribulations of Kaya's increasingly hectic workload, then shifts to the developing personal relationship between her and the Director. (from

Midnight Secretary really draws you in with the first few chapters. The secretary-boss romance is a much used romantic plot and adding supernatural only spices it up. There is an atmosphere of mystery and suspense. The romantic tension is built up nvery early in the book.

The director is much like the male lead from other josei manga (like Hapi Mari)- good-looking, rich, CEO of a huge company, with family wealth and a past which troubles him (when will mangakas stop using this plot device?)

The heroine is sincere, hardworking, efficient and loyal. Her personality was very boring. She seemed to be too perfect to be real and very submissive. There was no struggle for her in falling in love. She lacked the 'spirit' of many of the more interesting and energetic protagonists.

This manga is strictly for those above 18 and they will enjoy the passion and intensity contained within the columes of this manga.

Towards the ending, it becomes boring, predictable and too 'normal'. But for a quick read, Midnight Secretary is a great series.



Excellent illustrations
Unique mixing of genres (supernatural-office romance)

Characters were not very remarkable/memorable
Virtually no development of Kaya's character

It's your Biz book review by Susan Solovic

It's Your Biz is a book by Susan Solovic aimed at guiding start-up small business owners through the process of creating and managing a business. Now it is one of the numerous books available for startups. So why should you buy it?

For starters, I didn't like the chapter on qualities an entrepreneur. there is no such thing as entrepreneurial personality. Everyone can fit into some kind of business and all business don't involve equal amounts of risk-taking, aggression or persuasiveness/public speaking.

The author does a very good job of thoroughly explaining the legal aspects of starting a business which should be a valuable thing for those starting a new business. Contracts are also touched upon.

The section on partners had a partner qualities matching table where you can decide on which qualities for a business you have and then look for a partner with complementary strengths. I wanted to post a picture of that table but I have not received permission as yet from AMACOM press.

On the whole the book was much easier to read that many other startup business books. It wasn't filled with cliched motivational fluff that leaves you wondering what you should actually do but rather had concrete technical knowledge presented in a systematic way.

It is best for small businesses but big businesses can also benefit from it as all big businesses were once small.

Ratings (out of 5)


Focuses on problems faced by small businesses
Contains accurate and relevant technical data and practical steps to take

A lot of sections seemed like introductions/incomplete. I couldn't gather what I was supposed to do about that particular area after reading it.
Pages in the beginning wasted on qualities of an entrepreneur
Not too many examples

NOTE- I received a review copy from the publisher

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Best j-pop song lyrics

It's been a long time since there has been any j-pop related article on Review Carnival. I have been listening to quite a few songs these days. I have compiled a list of j-pop songs based on deep, meaningful and heart-warming lyrics. These are only my personal preferences. Here's the list (in no particular order)-

1. Tokyo by YUI- Tokyo is a mellow and contemplative song with some very philosophical lyrics. The melody is haunting and nostalgic. I fell in love with it in the first listen.

FAVORITE LINES (with english translation)-
Kotae wo sagasu no wa mou yameta
Machigai darake de ii
I have stopped looking for answers
It's okay to keep making mistakes

Tadashi koto bakari erabenai
Sore kurai wakateru
I can't always choose the right things
That much I know

2. Sen no Kaze ni Natte (I am the thousand winds that blow) - This beautiful operatic ballad has already been reviewed on Review Carnival. Just to remind you of the beautiful lyrics

FAVORITE LINES- I like all the lines, but here are some of teh more beautiful ones.

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there I did not sleep

I am in the thousand winds that blow
I am the diamond glints on snow
I am the sunlight that ripens grain
I am the gentle autmn rain

.....Do not stand at my grave and cry
I am not there, I did not die

3. Brave Heart by Miyazaki Ayumi- This was used in Digimon. The lyrics are all about never giving up. The song is very energetic, too. Hard-core digimon fams might recognize it as the first season evolution/battle song.

FAVORITE LINES (Translation by

Not every day is sunny, so sometimes
Even though a cold rain is falling, just open your umbrella

4. I Wish by Ai Maeda- Another digimon song, this time the ending of the first season. I am sure a lot of people remember this song. It is a slow pop ballad.

FAVORITE LINES (trabslation from Anime lyrics)-

When I wish on a star, with my pride on the wind
I'll surely be able to see a tomorrow that can't be erased by today...

I'm shivering with the cold, so I cover my arms with a jacket
Before I know it, it becomes transparent
And turns into hope

5. Konayuki (Powder snow) by Remioromen- This is a wonderful rock ballad. The lead singer's voice conveys the raw emotion flawlessly, even though it is a bit flat at times.


If we can't be honest with each other
Both happiness and sadness are empty

6. Decision by Ayumi Hamasaki- I could personally relate to the lyrics which are about independence and accepting oneself. The song is also a very aggressive, rock-opera track.

FAVORITE LINES (translation by Kiwi Musume)-

Yes, I'm going
Not turning back, not running away
I'll walk with my head up
I wonder if one day
You'll realize
That I have no choice
But to keep being myself

7. Sakura no Ki no Narou (I want to become a Charry tree) by AKB48- It's probably the most heartfelt song AKB48 has prodced till date. It's about friendship. The song is a slow piano/strings ballad. The chorus feel provided by the multiple voices is unique.

FAVORITE LINES (translation by kiwi-musume)-

Come back alone sometimes
To the empty schoolyard
You’ll be able to meet
The shining person you were
The day you graduated

If your heart ever loses its way,
I'll be standing here, showing you where love is

Even when all my flowers have fallen
My branches will be outstretched, waiting for you

8. Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana (The only flower of it's kind in the world) by SMAP- THis is a classic optimistic Johnny song by legendary group SMAP.

FAVORITE LINES (translation from kiwi-musume)-

You don’t need to be number one
You’re special, the only one of you, to begin with

There are people whose smiles are strained
Because they’re completely lost
But it doesn’t matter
Because every flower that’s worked so hard to grow is beautiful

9. Eternal Snow by Changin my Life- Myself is a sad-sounding acoustic/strings/piano ballad used in Full Moon wo Sagashite. It has a unique wintry feel to it.


The feeling of falling in love with someone- I never wanted to know that feeling

Like the slowly falling snow, my feelings are piling up
Higher and Higher

10. To Mother by YUI- This is YUI's first song in which she plays the piano. It was release don Mother's Day.


Sadness, somehow becomes warmer
When we cuddle up together

Hapiness, it's probably
Because I had you

Friday, August 5, 2011

Book Review- Notorious by Nicola Cornick

Notorious is a regency novel by British author Nicola Cornick.

The story follows the romance between a hired matchbreaker, Susanna Burney and fortune hunting rake James Devlin. Susanna is hired by influential people who want to break matches. James Devlin is a fortune hunter after his defence career is over. He is not from a very influential family therefore, settles in an engagement with an heiress. Susanna and Devlin share a bond- they used to be married until she left abruptly and never came back for nine years. The fire is rekindled when they meet again in the beginning of the story.

The pairing was okay. Susanna has a strong character but Devlin is much like all romance heros. Susanna's occupation seemed interesting in the beginning. Delvin falls short of the perfect hero in terms of financial status but this might have been purposely chosen for uniqueness. It is hard to believe that such hard circumstances bred an arrogant person like him. The characters are comparatively realistic.

The writer's style is fluid and to the point. The dialogues are crisp. However, the story feels like a modern story that has been adapted to regency era.

The story starts well. Susanna's secrets come out steadily, keeping in pace with the story. The chemistry was good but the attraction was more physical than emotional- not enough to convince that it could last for a lifetime.
Emma's sidestory was interesting especially the first time she meets Tom Bradshaw. He seemed like a perfect hero until the end when this facade fell apart. The book cover was rich and regency looking with a nice texture. The synopsis is addictive.

Overall, I would say the book reads much like any other Harlequin or Mills and Boon in the market (probably keeping with the demands of the publishing industry), although it is a HQN single title book. The book could've been longer and the romance could have been more emotional. An average read- a good way to pass time.


Story (plot)
Side story/ side characters


Too 'modern' to be a historical novel

Note- Review copy was provided by the author.

Book review- Silk is for Seduction by Loretta Chase

NOTE- I received a review copy of this book from the author's publicist. Despite this, I will strive to give an unbiased review.

Brilliant and ambitious dressmaker Marcelline Noirot is London's rising star. And who better to benefit from her talent than the worst-dressed lady in London; the Duke of Clevedon's intended bride? Winning the future duchess's patronage means prestige and fortune for Marcelline and her family. To get to the lady, though, Marcelline must win over Clevedon, whose standards are as high as his morals are...not.

The prize seems well worth the risk. This time, though, Marcelline's met her match. Clevedon can design a seduction as irresistible as her dresses; and what begins as a flicker of desire between two of the most passionately stubborn charmers in London soon ignites into a delicious inferno . . .and a blazing scandal.

And now both their futures hang by a thread of silk…

Silk is for seduction is the first book in Loretta Chase's Dressmaker series. It features a protagonist with alebit odd occupation- dressmaker. Marcelline's character is strong, shrewd and much more ambitious than most romance novel heroines. She even uses the hero for her own benefit initially (before she falls in love with him), but this part of her personality is not offensive. It is rather interesting because it is so refreshing to see such a bold and aggressive woman in the historical period in which the novel is set. She also has a young daughter and is not inexperienced.

The hero is pretty much like all the other dukes out there in every other romance novel.

The romance develops slowly but surely. The kisses and love scenes were convincing enough, but everything else was not. There is no connection at the mental level between the characters, so their romance apppears very 'one-dimensional'. While they are a passionate couple, it doesn't seem as if their romance will last long just based on good looks and chemistry.

Overall, a good book if you are a seasoned historical romance fan or are looking for something with a slight twist.

Strong female lead
Unique profession
Gives a glimpse into the world of dressmakers
Descriptions of a lot of beautiful dresses are good

A bit too long
Generic male lead