Book Review: Satsumi Takaguchi — Shout Out Loud! volume 2

Second of a five part yaoi manga series about a long-separated father and son trying to build a relationship while dealing with other upheavals in their lives. Shino’s an anime voice actor. Now he has a son to support, he’s started taking on any roles he’s offered — including yaoi audio dramas. Nakaya’s a teenager not quite old enough to be independent, but old enough to be initially very uncomfortable with his father’s job. It doesn’t really help that he’s noticed the interest some of Shino’s colleagues are showing in him, even if the unworldly Shino hasn’t.

This volume sees some development in the various plotlines set up in volume 1. Shino may be innocent, but even he can’t help noticing when his colleague Mizusawa invites him home and then kisses him very thoroughly. And passing it off as a bad case of bringing the job home stops working when Mizusawa and Tenryu start squabbling over him on a live radio show. Especially when Tenryu mentions having kissed Shino when Shino got drunk and passed out one night… Nakaya is trying to protect his father’s virtue, but he’s distracted by his own problems, not least of which is getting a crush on one of the ice hockey coachs.

As with the first volume, the focus is on story and character development rather than sex, although the UST gets a bit less U in this one. There are several well-developed characters here and a number of potential relationships hinted at for both Shino and Nakaya. It’s a sweet and often very funny story that kept me reading, guessing at how things might play out. The sex is limited to kissing, but is none the worse for that. The artwork is beautiful, and includes quite a selection of hot guys. Once again this series scores highly on both the eye candy and brain candy.

It’s possible to pick up the story with this volume, but I’d strongly recommend starting with the first volume in the series (reviewed here).

Shout Out Loud! Vol. 2 at Amazon US
Shout Out Loud!: Volume 2 at Amazon UK

Shout Out Loud!, Volume 2
at Barnes & Noble
at Powell’s

Book review: W J Burley — House of Care

Burley is best known for his Wycliffe series, but this book is a standalone psychological mystery, one of his few non-series books. Sixteen years ago Sir Henry Care’s first wife died in a fall from the folly tower on the family estate. In the meantime the estate, and the family, have slowly decayed. Sir Henry’s daughter by his first wife is convinced that she and her twin brother are resented and unwanted by the rest of the family, and resents them in turn. She’s manipulative and delights in stirring up trouble within the family, but she has also long taken an interest in the occult. She uses meditation techniques to recall memories of the day her mother died, leading to an accusation of murder against her stepmother. When she seeks to raise a demon to answer her questions about that day, she too falls from the tower. The drugs she used as part of the ritual cause hallucinations. Is it accident, suicide… or murder?

The characters and their relationships are well drawn and intriguing, but I found that the end of the book fell flat. The solution to the puzzle is offered, but there isn’t enough in the book to support it as the right and natural solution. It feels more as if having set up a number of candidates, the author picked one at random. The book’s worth reading, but I think not really worth paying more than reading copy price for unless you’re a completist.

It’s currently out of print other than in the UK Large Print edition and possibly the audio book, but as Orion are busy working their way through a re-release of the Wycliffe series, it wouldn’t surprise me if it was re-released in paperback in the next couple of years. In the meantime, here are the Amazon links for second-hand copies:

Amazon UK:
The House of Care Walker and Co hardcover (US edition?)
The House of Care paperback (US edition, I think)
House of Care Gollancz hardcover (UK edition)
The House of Care: Unabridged Magna Large Print Books edition, 2001, in print but special order
The House of Care: Unabridged audiobook, which appears to be still in print as a special order

Amazon USA:
The House of Care paperback
The House of Care hardcover

Book Review: Satsumi Takaguchi — Shout Out Loud! volume 1

First of what is apparently a five volume series. The first three parts are now available in English translation; the remaining two parts are scheduled for release in April and August.

Orphaned 17-year-old Nakaya goes looking for long-last father, expecting to find a burnt-out salaryman, and instead gets a baby-faced 33-year-old who makes a living as an anime voice actor. Finding himself with an unexpected son to support just as his current series is finishing, Shino tells his agency he’ll take any job. What he gets offered is roles in boys love audio dramas — and as becomes clear to the reader and eventually Nakaya, but not (yet) Shino, two of Shino’s co-workers are gay and have the hots for Shino.

There’s a good story in this book; the primary focus in the first volume is father and son getting to know each other (no, not in that way). Nakaya’s mother fell pregnant when she and Shino were teenagers, and she chose to leave Shino to stop him sacrificing his education to look after them. Now they have to build a relationship, at a time when both are grieving, and Nakaya is having to make decisions about his own education. It doesn’t help that Nakaya’s grandmother has never forgiven Shino for getting her daughter pregnant, and doesn’t want Nakaya living with Shino.

Along with this, there’s a look at the voice acting industry, and Shino’s developing relationships with two of his fellow actors — platonic on Shino’s side, but not on theirs. And then there’s Nakaya’s teacher, who is also gay and has a thing for nice voices…

The erotic content in this volume is mostly in the scripts Shino and his colleagues are working on, though there’s one very nice kiss. If you’re looking for hardcore you’ll be disappointed, but fans of UST should enjoy this one.

The cover’s a bit disappointing, but don’t let that put you off, as the interior art is much more attractive. Note that it’s a lot less bishounen in style than many (which matches my own preferences).

I liked this a lot. There’s an interesting story with relationships that develop over time, there’s a lot of gentle humour, it’s nicely drawn, and the guys are hot.

Shout out Loud!, Volume 1
Shout Out Loud! Vol. 1 at
Shout Out Loud!, Volume 1 at
at Powells