Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

*This Review is Spoiler-Free*

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Synopsis:

“Juliet Milagros Palante is leaving the Bronx and headed to Portland, Oregon. She just came out to her family and isn’t sure if her mom will ever speak to her again. But Juliet has a plan, sort of, one that’s going to help her figure out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. She’s interning with the author of her favorite book: Harlowe Brisbane, the ultimate authority on feminism, women’s bodies, and other gay-sounding stuff.

Will Juliet be able to figure out her life over the course of one magical summer? Is that even possible? Or is she running away from all the problems that seem too big to handle?

With more questions than answers, Juliet takes on Portland, Harlowe, and most importantly, herself” 

-Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quotes: 

“I wanted her to change my world.”
“Mi amor, only you can change your world.”
“Libraries are safe but also exciting. Libraries are where nerds like me go to refuel. They are safe-havens where the polluted noise of the outside world, with all the bullies and bro-dudes and anti-feminist rhetoric, is shut out. Libraries have zero tolerance for bullshit. Their walls protect us and keep us safe from all the bastards that have never read a book for fun.”
“It’s about women of color owning their own space and their voices being treated with dignity and respect. It’s about women of color not having to shout over voices to be heard.”
“I understood ‘microaggressions’ to mean ‘little bullshit acts of racism.”
“Every day that we exist on this planet the forces of white men in power are aimed at policing women’s bodies and subjugating our identities to make us feel lesser than, to control us through physical and economic annihilation.”
“How do I tell my parents that I’m gay? Gay sounds just as weird as feminist. How do you tell the people that breathed you into existence that you’re the opposite of what they want you to be? And I’m supposed to be ashamed of being gay, but now that I’ve had sex with other girls, I don’t feel any shame at all. In fact, it’s pretty fucking amazing. So how am I supposed to come out and deal with everyone else’s sadness?”
“Get a little hysterical, Juliet. I mean that’s why vibrators were invented, right?”

 

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The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith

*This Review is Spoiler Free*

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Synopsis:

In the tradition of Speak, this extraordinary debut novel shares the unforgettable story of a young woman as she struggles to find strength in the aftermath of an assault.

Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes.

What was once simple, is now complex. What Eden once loved—who she once loved—she now hates. What she thought she knew to be true, is now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore, and she knows she’s supposed to tell someone what happened but she can’t. So she buries it instead. And she buries the way she used to be.

Told in four parts—freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year—this provocative debut reveals the deep cuts of trauma. But it also demonstrates one young woman’s strength as she navigates the disappointment and unbearable pains of adolescence, of first love and first heartbreak, of friendships broken and rebuilt, and while learning to embrace a power of survival she never knew she had hidden within her heart.”

-Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

Quotes:

“Maybe He’ll get what he deserves. Maybe Not. Maybe I’ll never find it in my heart to forgive him. And maybe there’s nothing wrong with that,either. All those maybes swimming around my head make me think that “maybe” could just be another word for hope.”

“And I’m terrified he’ll see through the tough iceberg layer, and he’ll discover not a soft, sweet girl, but an ugly fucking disaster underneath.”

 

Peter Darling by Austin Chant

*This review is spoiler-free*

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Synopsis:

“Ten years ago, Peter Pan left Neverland to grow up, leaving behind his adolescent dreams of boyhood and resigning himself to life as Wendy Darling. Growing up, however, has only made him realize how inescapable his identity as a man is.

But when he returns to Neverland, everything has changed: the Lost Boys have become men, and the war games they once played are now real and deadly. Even more shocking is the attraction Peter never knew he could feel for his old rival, Captain Hook—and the realization that he no longer knows which of them is the real villain.”

-Goodreads 

Admittedly, I never read the original by J. M. Barrie as a child, but I’m fairly certain I would not have loved it nearly as much as I did this more mature and dark retelling of the beloved children’s classic. I am familiar with the story as I have watched more than one film adaptation of the original novel. Although Peter Darling feels like a much more grown-up version of the original the novel captures the fantastical elements, sense of adventure, and magic of the original story.

“That’s the trick of growing up. Nothing stays the same.” Hook sounded oddly sympathetic. “You see the faults in everything. Including yourself.”

Upon Peter’s return to Neverland he finds that the world he loved and longed for while he was away has shifted and drastically changed. It comes across very clearly in the story that Peter’s return and eventual disappointment in the tone of peacefulness and contentment within Neverland was unexpected and jarring; having returned to the only place he felt he could live authentically and where he made the most sense to himself. The disorienting effects of seeing that the Lost Boys had moved on without him, gotten a new leader, and that the battles against Hook and his crew ended spur Peter into actions that have very real and devastating results. 

As a cisgendered unicorn I cannot attest to the authenticity of the representation in this novel; however, it is important to note that the trans and queer rep in this story are own voices. This leads into one of my absolute favorite aspects of the novel…and that is…the portrayal of Peter’s body. I have not read many novels with a transgender main protagonist, and even less with a male trans main character, but I so greatly appreciated the author’s decision (whether conscious or not) to not emphasize and include incredibly detailed descriptions of Peter’s body. While consuming media that has trans representation I often get a sense of trans bodies being fetishized and exploited. Oftentimes including a completely unnecessary obsession with what body parts, organs, and genitalia are present on a transgender individual’s body, as if the presence or lack thereof, has any bearing on the legitimacy of their gender identity.

He bit his lip, struggling to make words out of the war waging itself in his chest.
“I don’t know what this makes me,” he managed at last.
Hook laughed, not unkindly. “It makes you whatever you want it to make you.”

The novel very honestly delves into, and examines with great transparency, the dangers of misgendering of trans and genderqueer individuals.  While Peter is in the “real world” he is constantly misgendered.  He is frequently told what he can/cannot do, how he can/cannot present himself, what he can/cannot wear, and is constantly cornered into disgusting gender roles that are not conducive to his gender identity.  It is very easy to make the leap into an understanding that the trauma he experienced bleeds into his life while in Neverland, especially after his return. It’s apparent through the desperation in which he tries to entice violence and revels in brutality. Peter’s character plays into stereotypically masculine gender roles and perpetuates toxic/hyper masculinity while in Neverland. 

Peter Darling is incredibly well written. Also, it is very easy to lose yourself in the atmosphere of Neverland. Granted, these things are very true about the novel, I did have some issues with the pacing, the progression of the story, and the development of the romance. I fairly easily forgave this…as the novel is barely over 200 pages and also includes an amazingly well done character arc for Peter. I would recommend this novel to fans of the original story, readers who love fairytale and classics retellings, readers who are looking for well-done transgender representaion, and those looking to read more own voice fiction. I give Peter Darling a rating of *7 Unicorn Horns*…Happy Reading!

 

 

The Grim Reaper and an Argent Cavalier by Irono

*This Review is Spoiler Free*

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*Sorry, this post is a little late, courtesy of my wondrous procrastination skills. I’ll get to everyone’s comments soon.

The Grim Reaper and an Argent Cavalier (or Shinigami to Gin no Kishi) is another random pick from Crunchyroll’s online collection that caught the attention of my superficial eye. Well that and the fact I just finished re-watching Kabeneri, wanted more thrilling action and (un?)death, saw the words “Grim Reaper” and went for it.  

Synopsis:

In a world where humans live at the mercy of the Grim Reaper and the Larvae, his soul-devouring monsters, one young man sets foot on a thorny path to protect everything he holds dear—even if it means falling into darkness himself…

-Crunchyroll

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Rating: 7/10 Unicorn Horns!

Overall the story isn’t bad, and i did enjoy reading it, but I just couldn’t help but feel it could have been MUCH better. While it definitely has some pretty good elements, it occasionally dips into too common tropes (primarily when it comes to the main character: Cyan). This is something I found pretty disappointing, since it really takes away from a lot of the more thrilling moments. Overall the few twists and group of side characters made this a pretty good read. For only about 6 volumes a good amount happens, but I think it would have benefited from being a little longer.

The characters are likeable with a few that genuinely had me wanting to learn more about them. That being said, I actually found most of the other main cast and side characters much more appealing than the two main pair. In fact it is because of them and a few pretty unique elements that made me give this a 7 instead of a 6 rating. The world building didn’t stand out too much for me (I really don’t remember much about it), but those few characters certainly did. 

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I wanted to review this, but while writing realized I really can’t say much about it without spoiling something 😅 lol, so that’s all I can say about it. I’d recommend this to anyone looking for an entertaining, light, short read to pass the time with. Despite it’s length it’s got a good amount of action, magic, twists, drama, and touch of romance to go with it.

Sun-Ken Rock by Boichi

*This Review is Spoiler Free*

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Hey guys! Long time no post 😋

Sorry for the long, long absence, but I’m finally back now and am excited to check out everyone’s sites 🤗 I will be taking my time over the next while to reconnect with you guys. 

As for today’s review I decided to finally, after a couple years of subscribing, check out the manga Chrunchroll has available on their site. I picked out three random ones I never heard about before based purely on the covers and started reading. That’s how I came across the unique experience that is Sun-Ken Rock.

Synopsis:

This story, initially taking place in Japan but primarily set in Korea, starts out pretty mild and hilariously quirky. Main character, high school delinquent Ken, falls for a girl named Yumin and confesses his feelings only to be rejected.

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Turns out Yumin decided to move to Korea to work on becoming a distinguished cop, so couldn’t return his feelings. Surprisingly, this doesn’t deter our protagonist Ken. He drops out of school and follows the love of his life to Korea. Which seems romantic…or in my opinion kinda really creepy, but reality hits and Ken finds himself hopelessly unemployed and dirt poor in a foreign country with no one to rely on. Except a mysteriously ambitious man who, after seeing him in action, becomes determined to persuade Ken to become a gang boss. 

Rating: 8/10 Unicorn Horns!

I actually really struggled to figure out a rating for this one. It starts off like a gag manga, pure humour with no serious or thought provoking scenes. But this story’s tone amazingly progresses and changes right along with the main character. From a character that’s kind, incredibly naive, simple, unmotivated, and quirky to one possessing kindness with a much more serious, intelligent, determined and thought provoking actions/beliefs both Ken and the story change in bounds. 

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This is something that blew me away. I don’t think I’ve ever come across another action packed story that’s written quite like this one. With the lighthearted way things start off, even the way it was drawn, I wasn’t expecting much. But then with each story arc things became more serious, complex, and shockingly dark, every bit of which is reflected in the growingly detailed and improving artwork. The flow comes off awkwardly here and there especially during the transitions from darker scenes to comedic relief, though this could just be due to translation. Overall Boichi does a noteworthy job at balancing the many contrasting themes in this story.  

This story filled with action, crime, scheming, comedy, mafia bosses, and a bit of romance has quite a bit going for it. And aside from the uniqueness of the changing tone, there is also quite a bit of cross-national story telling (mainly taking place in Korea, but also involving Japan and another country), immigrants from diverse backgrounds, and even the mentioning of a few historical events from different countries. This really comes through in most of the side characters as well. They all have dynamic and/or complex personalities that stand out and left me with a clear impression of their character.

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I’d recommend this to anyone looking for a unique reading experience, as well as fellow lovers of action/crime. Though I would warn away anyone with sexual abuse triggers, as some of the darker scenes are…well…really dark. Oh and despite there not being even a hint of it in the beginning, a few ecchi scenes come up later on, so naturally if that bothers you skipping this may be best. Otherwise I’ve been really enjoying this so far, and look forward to finishing it!

Thanks for reading 😁