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review 2017-09-11 13:29
The Drops of God (manga, vol. 2) story by Tadashi Agi, art by Shu Okimoto, translation by Kate Robinson
The Drops of God 2 - Shu Okimoto,Tadashi Agi

Most of the volume is devoted to Shizuku selecting French wines for the “Italy vs. France” competition sponsored by his company’s new Wine Division, although it isn’t immediately apparent that the first part of the volume has anything at all to do with the competition.

In the first part of the volume, Shizuku helps a struggling French restaurant. Their business was nearly killed off by a bad review from Issei Tomine, and now he’s scheduled to come reevaluate the restaurant. The restaurant’s owner is confident about his food but has no idea what to do about the wine menu - his wife used to handle that, but she died some time ago. In order to figure out where the restaurant owner went wrong, Shizuku must discover how to properly pair wine and food.

Shizuku’s efforts help him select one of the wines for the “Italy vs. France” competition, but he still needs two others. He finds the second one after visiting a bizarre wine shop staffed by twin brothers with very different opinions about wine and the third one after being approached by Maki Saionji, a wine importer and Issei Tomine’s occasional lover. The volume wraps up with both the competition and Shizuku and Issei finally reading the first part of Shizuku’s father’s will, which gives them the clues necessary to find the first of Shizuku’s father’s “Twelve Apostles.”

Hm. Still an enjoyable series overall. The first part of the volume was nice, but a little too removed from the main storyline and a little too serious to be fun despite that. There were some good educational aspects, though - the volume touched on the difference between how Japanese people view drinking tea with a meal (for example, tea can be used to cancel out the flavor of heavy and rich food) and the way wines are traditionally paired with French cuisine (the wine and food should enhance each other rather than cancel each other out). I also liked the father-daughter relationship aspect. The daughter was more responsible and dedicated than she initially appeared to be.

The next part of the volume, the weird wine shop, brought the story back to the restrained wackiness I enjoyed in the first volume. The brothers were amusing, complete opposites. One preferred to focus on wines from wineries with good reputations and would consider nothing else - he didn’t even bother to try all his wines to figure out if they were good, he just assumed they were because of their reputations. The other brother focused entirely on cheap wines and refused to stock anything else. His part of the shop looked like a cheesy dollar store, or maybe a giant “going out of business” sale.

The one thing I absolutely didn’t like about that part of the volume was the brothers’ father. I think readers were supposed to view him as being at least as amusing as his sons, but I just thought he was a horrible human being. In order to get his sons to cooperate and improve the family business, he

lied to them and told them he had cancer.

(spoiler show)

I mean, what kind of person does that? Thankfully, there was no sign that Shizuku and Miyabi would be returning there anytime soon.

For me, the weakest part of the volume was the wine competition. It went very quickly, and I felt like I had a much better grasp on the appeals of the French wines than I did on the Italian ones, since so much of the volume had been devoted to those. The final verdict was interesting, though. I was left with the impression that, if you’re unfamiliar with wine and looking to select a decent cheap one, it’s probably best to go with an Italian wine, but if you’re a bit more experienced and looking for more variety, French might be the way to go.

One ongoing bit of mystery: the identity of the woman who declared the competition’s final verdict and who gave Shizuku advice that helped him with his wine selections. She looked like a random cranky old woman when she was first introduced, but it soon became clear that she was quite wealthy and had probably known Shizuku’s father very well.

This volume left me feeling a little less excited overall than the first one, but the educational aspects were still pretty good and I’m still looking forward to seeing what else the series has in store for readers. It looks like Shizuku will be spending at least part of the next volume working with an amnesiac artist in an effort to find out what she knows about the First Apostle.

A couple things that struck me: even with help from all of his wine-possessing friends, Shizuku is going to end up spending a small fortune trying to get up to speed on wines; and, if they weren’t rivals, Shizuku and Issei would probably make for decent wine-tasting friends since they keep selecting/appreciating the same things.

Additional Comments:

My feelings about the artwork are still largely the same: it’s lovely, although noticeably focused on characters over backgrounds. However, there were a couple parts in this volume where I felt Okimoto slipped up a bit: a three-page section showing Shizuku back at the Wine Division, helping the chief with a wine cellar and receiving a dessert wine from him, and a panel in which Sara cutely encouraged people to taste the “Italy vs. France” wines. The bit with the chief looked unfinished, as though some of the screentone had been forgotten, and some of the linework was unusually thick. The panel with Sara was mostly fine, but her lips were odd, like she’d only put makeup on the right half of them.


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2016-05-31 22:03
The Most Important Thing: Stories About Sons, Fathers and Grandfathers
The Most Important Thing: Stories about Sons, Fathers, and Grandfathers - Avi

I was hoping for some heartfelt moments within these stories, some ahh moments that would leave smiling as these stories capture the relationship between sons and their fathers/grandfathers.   After reading all seven short stories, about half of them were what I expected and the other half were something totally different.   There is something about Avi stories that I love and this has always been the case since I started reading them to my son.   My son is in college now but I remember reading Avi’s stories to him at night and on family vacations. I don’t know who liked him better I still feel vigorous when I hold one of his novels in my hands, as his words zip me off into another world.


I was surprised at the variety of stories contained within this novel. They all centered upon sons and their fathers and/or grandfathers but the storylines were all very different. These are not deep stories but stories that make you think. I really enjoyed three of the stories.

  • My favorite was Tighy Whites or Boxer In this story, a mother has found a new husband and she wants to make sure that her son Ryan will be fine with the new arrangement.   Ryan decides that this new person should have to go through an interview process to get the job as his new father. This is a delightful story as Ryan has the gentleman do a complete interview with references, resume and a one-on-one interview with pages of specific questions. Will he be hired or will his mother need to find another boyfriend?  
  • In Going Home, I enjoyed this story as it dealt with a boy who felt that his life would have better had he been given a choice when his parents got divorced. Residing with his mother, he wants to go live with his father and he fights his mother on this issue. He decides to make his own decision and live with his father. Acting on his decision, he realizes that perhaps the choice that was made for him was the best. The emotions that were inside this story were superb and the energy coming off the characters were outstanding. As he saw his life, I was heartbroken for him and I wondered what he was going to do next. This was a great story.
  • Dream Catcher was a story about a grandson who spent a week with a grandfather who he didn’t know.   Paul knew that his father didn’t like the man so why did he have to spend the week with him? I really enjoyed this story.   Paul is out of his element and without noise, he is listening. I liked how Roads was in his element with Paul and he was able to open up with him. At the end of the week, they are both different individuals.
  • Beat Up was a great story and I really saw wonderful things happening with it but the ending was not as I expected. The father and son saw differently on why the son did not fight back after being beat up by a gang of boys. They choose then to just not deal with the issue until the day dad asked others in the community for help. Why is it so hard to communicate? I could see why Avi choose the ending he did for it but it ended too abruptly for me.
  • In Departed, this was a sad story with a supernatural element to it. Father and son were planning a camping a trip but an accident stops the trip from happening. I could tell where the story was headed immediately and the ending brought closure to the characters. It was not a frightening tale but showed a loving, tender relationship. Ok story
  • The story Kitchen Table was okay as it showed determination and dedication as Billy tries to find his bike. I didn’t care for the ending and I didn’t understand how it related to the title of the story either.
  • In The Amalfi Duo,I laughed while reading this one. The grandfather and his facts were humorous to me. Grandfather was like a walking encyclopedia and he would tell his grandson bits and pieces of information as they talked. It bothered his grandson that grandfather would tell him all this information when he really didn’t care. Grandfather would brag about how smart he was and I thought this was strange. When the two of them decide to take instrument lessons together, it becomes a competition.   It was supposed to be a duo but it’s not working out that way.


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review 2011-07-20 00:00
Jefferson's Sons: A Founding Father's Secret Children
Jefferson's Sons: A Founding Father�s Secret Children - Kimberly Brubaker Bradley Read my forthcoming review in Book Page.
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