Jack the Ripper: Hell Blade by Je-tae Yoo

*THIS REVIEW IS SPOILER FREE*

Jack the Ripper: Hell Blade Vol. 1 by Je-tae Yoo

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Synopsis:

For fans of Hellsing and Berserk comes an all new ultra-violent supernatural manga series about history’s most famous slasher, with a twist.

Jack the Ripper is not what he seems—but the truth may be more terrible than anyone imagined.

A young police detective from Scotland Yard struggles to unravel the mystery behind the brutal slayings that grip 19th Century London. What he learns will turn his world upside down, and pit him face to face against the Ripper himself. But is Jack his savior or destroyer?

With bold and graphic artwork in the vein of the classic vampire hunter manga series Hellsing, Jack the Ripper: Hellblade is a shocking and fascinating take on the world’s most famous serial killer.

Goodreads

Rating: 6/10 Unicorn Horns

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

I hate to admit it, but this one was a complete impulse buy. I saw the sale price, it’s complete status (at only 5 volumes total), the cover that promised some horror, and so I totally ignored the screams of protest from my wallet. I’ve only read the 1st volume so far, but so far I don’t regret my choice. The first volume has more than delivered on the expectation of violence and horror scenes, so I can safely say this isn’t a read for people that are sensitive to either things. That said, the story telling and characters kind of failed to really grab my attention hence the rating.

The story doesn’t take time getting to the murder and mayhem: beginning with a detective waking up from a secret affair, some parental/family abuse (trigger warning), and a murder scene – all within the first chapter – with the explicit action building from there. If it wasn’t for the low price and 5 complete volume bait, I probably wouldn’t have picked this up considering how overdone Jack the Ripper stories are, yet I still found the twist on the Jack the Ripper story pretty interesting.

Sadly, that was about all I could say that I like about the story so far. For one thing, I would never even think of comparing this to works like Hellsing and Berserk. If I had read that Goodreads synopsis before picking this up I would have been very, very, disappointed. I’m not at all bashing this story, but to be real it simply isn’t even close to being on that level.

Another thing, dynamic, diverse, well-rounded, or even just plain likeable characters is something that makes a huge impact on how much I enjoy a story. It’s the difference between me superficially enjoying a story, and engaging with it on a deeper level – actually remembering what it was about, for better or for worse, months/years later and having something substantial to say about it. While I’m assuming things go deeper into the mysteries brought up in this volume in later installments (my thoughts on it could definitely change later on), reading this volume was almost like playing a jack-in-the-box game with the main character(s?), which kind of killed my ability to really get into things. Again, this is likely just due to the nature of the story as a mystery thriller, so this volume was likely just an introduction the situation and setting, but with only 5 volumes I simply didn’t expect that.

That said, it was still an okay start overall; nothing special but nothing terrible either. I am still looking forward to the sequel, seeing more of the main character(s?), and seeing where the storyline goes. I’d recommend this to anyone looking for an non-censored action packed thriller to kill some time (no pun intended).

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

*This review is spoiler free*

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Synopsis:

Two best friends. Ten summer trips. One last chance to fall in love.

Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart—she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown—but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.

Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since.

Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together—lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.

Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?

-via Goodreads

Review:

The story is told in a partially non-linear format. Throughout the book we jump in time between the current summer and the previous summers of Poppy and Alex’s friendship. From the onset of the story we know that something happened two summers ago that had a negative impact on their friendship and that Poppy and Alex have not spoken with each other since then. One of my favorite aspects of the story is the friendship between Poppy and Alex. Funnily enough I actually enjoyed the friendship more than the romantic relationship that develops throughout the plot. Getting to see the relationship between the two characters develop and morph into something romantic was very enjoyable. They have a very insular frindship; lots of inside jokes, sarcastic teasing and eccentric habits that make sense to them,but may seem strange to others. These are some of my favorite types of romances/rom-coms to read and that dynamic was executed very well in this book.

There is an element of the story that focuses on personal development, specifically towards the ending of the book. In my opinion this aspect of the story was very well done and realistic. I appreciated a story with characters that have an established background and history with each other, that still needed to have growth for the romantic relationship to develop or progress. All too often in romances, especially those with the friends-to-lovers trope, after the romance begins there is no further individual character development or progression of the dynamics of the relationship.

People We Meet on Vacation is a quintessential “slow burn”, friends to lovers romance story. I would recommend it to any romance reader that enjoys the friends-to-lovers trope or that enjoys a slower paced romance with lots of build-up and sexual tension. One of the only negatives of the story is the length of the book. It is quite the tome, and if you’re in the mood for a romance with immediate payoff, this may not be the best choice. Otherwise, I would say that this is totally worth checking out. People We Meet on Vacation was a 8-out of-10 unicorn read for me and I thoroughly enjoyed my reading experience.

Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer, Vol. 1-2 by Satoshi Mizukami

*THIS REVIEW IS SPOILER FREE*

Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer Vol. 1-2 by Satoshi Mizukami

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Synopsis:

An evil mage intends to annihilate the world. I need your help to save it from destruction!”

Everything about college student Amamiya Yuuhi is average: grades, looks, and his blasé outlook on life. So what happens when he awakens one day to a talking lizard, who informs him that there is a gigantic hammer in outer space that is poised to split the Earth into pieces and requests his allegiance in the fight against the forces of evil? Pretend it never happened? Unfortunately for Yuuhi, a bit of coercion in the form of a super-powered princess prevents him from returning to his mediocre life-as-usual.

-Goodreads

Rating: 8/10 Unicorn Horns!

This is another of the ones I read and bought a while back, and am currently re-reading. And since I have always wanted to review it, here it is. This turned out to be a really great surprise for me. From the synopsis I was expecting an odd, stupid (tbh) and clichéd story far outside of anything I’d ever want to pick up, let alone like. But at the time I was bored, didn’t mind trying something outside the usual, and…well…a big part was due to the fact, despite being hard to buy now, then I could get the whole 5 bind-up series for about $20 when the list price was about that much per volume (thank you BookOutlet!! 🙏).  Surprisingly, and thankfully, within the first few pages I learned my initial impression was wrong.

Why You Should Read Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer: The Mangaka's Manga -  OTAQUEST Selects #40 – OTAQUEST

The primary main character, Amamiya Yuuhi, was a major reason I decided to keep reading. He is the first anti-hero I’d come across in awhile, and it was refreshing to read about a hero that not only didn’t have any of the traditional hero-like qualities, but generally didn’t care about the world being saved. In fact, with one exception, he didn’t really seem to care about human life in general. It was more interesting, and often downright hilarious, than weird to watch the morally upstanding lizard, Sir Noi Crezant, and morally absent Yuuhi interact and struggle to survive the mage’s attacks together.

In addition them, both referred to as the Lizard Knight, the story quickly progresses and we gradually get introduced to the other Beast Knights each with there own unique personalities and reasons for joining the fight. Each one stood out in some way, and added to the story’s action packed uniqueness.

And of course there is the other main character, the princess Asahina Samidare, who after saving Yuuhi  from one of the mage’s deadly golems using her superhuman, then gained his trust by placing her life in his hands – by throwing herself off a building. Though this surprising behaviour was quickly surpassed by her following declaration: to stop the evil mage from destroying the earth so she could crush it with her own two hands! 

Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer or The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer? Either  Way It's a Nice Manga | OGIUE MANIAX

This was a story chalk full of humour, action, and a number unexpected twists that I would recommend to any fan of manga/anime, or anyone looking for a somewhat odd but great story that I quickly grew on me. And of course on that is filled with a large cast of characters with different personalities, most of which have diverse backgrounds and actually grow along with their experiences/interactions with each other (especially Yuuhi). With the age diverse cast of males and females it’s something I think most people can enjoy. 

*warning, though if I remember correctly it does ease up in later volumes (I’m still re-reading it), there are a number of panty shot/fan servicey scenes in the beginning.

Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson

*This review is spoiler-free*

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Synopsis:

A bride’s dream honeymoon becomes a nightmare when a man with whom she’s had a regrettable one-night stand shows up in this psychological thriller from the author of Eight Perfect Murders. Abigail Baskin never thought she’d fall in love with a millionaire. Then she met Bruce Lamb. But right before the wedding, Abigail has a drunken one-night stand on her bachelorette weekend. She puts the incident—and the sexy guy who wouldn’t give her his real name—out of her mind, and now believes she wants to be with Bruce for the rest of her life.

Then the mysterious stranger suddenly appears—and Abigail’s future life and happiness are turned upside down. He insists that their passionate night was the beginning of something special and he’s tracked her down to prove it.

Does she tell Bruce and ruin their idyllic honeymoon—and possibly their marriage? Or should she handle this psychopathic stalker on her own? To make the situation worse, strange things begin to happen. She sees a terrified woman in the night shadows, and no one at the resort seems to believe anything is amiss… including her perfect new husband.

-via Goodreads

Review:

I do not know where to begin with this review. Honestly, I did not anticipate disliking this author’s most recent release, in fact, I was thoroughly excited to be reading the novel so close to the release date. Since getting back into thrillers, just a little over a year ago, I have read most of Peter Swanson’s backlist. I’ve had varying levels of enjoyment and there are a few that standout way more than the others. I mention this to point out that although I was hella excited, I did not go into this novel with overly high expectations that the book wouldn’t be able to deliver on. The book just straight up doesn’t deliver much of anything. That is all its own doing…no unicorn expectations are at fault here.

From the onset of the story the reader is aware that the protagonist has had a one night stand with an anonymous man while away at her bachelorette weekend. The author does not shy away from letting the reader know that Abigail is a liar and a cheater. Through the plethora of increasingly unnecessary flashbacks to Abigail’s past, the reader is able to glean that she is not a perfect person and has done some questionable things and acted in some questionable ways. I do not feel that Abigail is written to be a likeable character, and I appreciated Swanson’s choice in characterizing Abigail in that way. However, pretty much nothing else about Abigail as a person makes sense and she has illogical and unrealistic reactions to events that occur in the book. Her motivations for doing certain things barely made sense as the plot progressed. As a character she came off as not compelling, somewhat bland, and non-sensical.

Overall, a major gripe for me with this story is character motivations. No ones motivations or actions made any sense…from our protagonist, her husband (especially when they first meet), the one night stand, all the way to the various side characters…everything and everyone was non-sensical and it drove me up a wall while reading. The story was overly predictable and the major reveals/plot twists were incredibly obvious. The delivery of the climax of the novel came off as implausible and left me confused about what the author was hoping to have accomplished with the choices he made. There are aspects, of what should have been the most thrilling parts of the book that ended up coming off as juvenile. Generally, I can overlook a thriller that ends up being predictable. Even in books where I’ve accurately guessed the whodunnit and how they did it, I can still rate them highly and enjoy the overall story IF I can enjoy my journey through the novel. That was most definitely not what ended up happening with Every Vow You Break.

The story was not compelling or captivating for me and I did not end up enjoying my overall reading experience. If you’re new to thriller and mystery novels and the premise sounds intriguing to you, then maybe it would be worth giving this novel a try. The story moves along at a steady pace and it is an easy book to get through, so I can see this possibly being a good entry point into the genre. Now, if you’re a seasoned thriller reader and the premise does not sound like something you would normally enjoy, I’d say maybe skip this one. Personally, I can’t rate Every Vow You Break anything higher than 3 Unicorn Horns, and even that rating I feel is overly generous.

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

*This review is spoiler-free*

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Synopsis:

A tragic accident. It all happened so quickly. She couldn’t have prevented it. Could she?

In a split second, Jenna Gray’s world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life forever.

Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating . . .

-via Goodreads

Review:

The novel begins with the tragic death of a young boy as he walks home with his mother. The fatal hit-and-run prompts Jenna to leave her home behind and escape her traumatic loss by going to a coastal town in Wales. From the beginning of the novel we also get the P.O.V. of, Ray, the lead investigator on the case. Additional perspectives are introduced later in the story. I “enjoyed” Jenna’s perspective more than Ray’s – well, as much as you can enjoy being in the mind of someone who is experiencing such an unfathomable loss. The perspective of Ray, at times, felt as if it was bogging down the story, as we get to see his home life and strained relationship with his wife and children. This leads me into one of my complaints about the novel.

The first half of the story feels incredibly slow and as if not much story development is occurring. Just endless and endless pages of attempts by law enforcement to figure out the whodunnit, with what feels like no progress ever being made. Also, the first portion of the story has a very slice-of-life feel to it and heavily focuses on the mundane of Jenna attempting to rebuild some semblance of a life for herself. Although the second half of the novel more than makes up for it, I would say that this could potentially be off-putting for those expecting to be diving into a thrilling read and then encountering this for about 40% of the book. So, don’t go into reading this story expecting deep intrigue, suspense, and thrills from the jump…because it ain’t going to happen.

Although I wasn’t the biggest fan of the ending and I was able to guess some plot points/reveals, I still thoroughly enjoyed my overall reading experience, and look forward to being able to revisit the story again in the future. I Let You Go is a well executed story with mysterious and suspenseful aspects expertly woven into the plot. This story is like the thriller equivalent of a slow-burn romance and I absolutely loved it. The novel does get “dark” and I honestly believe that the synopsis is quite misleading. For me the violence was not gratuitous or overdone, but if you aren’t expecting it or are new to thrillers and not expecting to read about such types of violence, it could be incredibly jarring. This wasn’t the perfect novel – or even the perfect thriller – for me, but because I enjoyed the journey of reading the story and the development of the storylines I’m giving I Let You Go 8-out of a possible-10 unicorn horns. If you don’t mind a thriller with a slow, somewhat calm start and an ending that isn’t wrapped in a neat bow…you should definitely check this book out.

*I just want to point out a few potentially triggering aspects of this story that are not made clear from reading the synopsis. This novel involves and/or mentions: the death of a child, domestic violence, physical violence, and sexual violence.

Bloody Cross Vol. 1 by Shiwo Komeyama

Hey Fellow Bloggers! I’m finally back with book/manga reviews, and plan on re-visiting your blogs over the new few weeks. I will (hopefully) be back for a while 😅

*THIS REVIEW IS SPOILER FREE*

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Synopsis: (I decided to write this myself, and have only included things that happen in the chapter long prequel for fellow spoiler haters)

In this world filled with demons, angels, vampires, and other supernatural beings, having romantic entanglements between races is considered a sin. One God punishes with a death bringing curse for their offspring. Main character Tsukimiya, being a half angel half vampire, is one of these forsaken beings searching for the only out God gave half breads. Drinking the blood of a pure demon before turning 18. Unfortunately for Tsukimiya, time is running out, and hunting pure blooded demons is no easy task. 

While on the tail of a man eating demon, she meets an angel named Hinata who is more than willing to team up with her to take the demon down. After finding him and engaging in a life risking battle they both manage to take down the demon. But before Tsukimiya can take his blood she is betrayed, and is helpless to do more than watch as Hinata, who turns out to be a fellow half demon, drinks the blood that is her only lifeline. Out of desperation Tsukimiya makes an unlikely attempt to rob Hinata of the blood he’s just taken, though the result is unexpected. The curse gets split between the two, and now, short on time, they both have to find a way to survive.

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Rating: 7/10 Unicorn Horns!

I read the first few volumes awhile back when I first bought it (about 4 years ago), but have been rereading some of the first series I picked up when I began collecting manga. Back then I was so excited I pretty much picked up anything with either a semi-interesting story-line, beautiful cover, or was on sale and with full colour front pictures (and, tbh, first encounter with manga eye candy)  this was no exception Disappointed Face on WhatsApp 2.19.62

The prequel has a number of cringe worthy cliched scenes and dialogue, but that dies down by the first chapter. I never finished the series, but to be fare I do remember it picking up a lot with better writing, drawing, and plot in later volumes.

Image result for bloody cross manga

 

Anywho, the first volume was entertaining and despite the many cliches the story does throw in a a couple unexpected twists. It might not be the best thing to pick up if you’re looking for something unique, but does the trick if you’re looking for something fun to read that isn’t completely predictable. It was filled with both humour (especially the banter between characters) and action. The artwork is fine, with some not so well drawn scenes/characters from time to time, but it does improve over time (…or I just got use to it lol). 

Aside from Hinata and Tsukimiya, the two leading main characters, there is also Tsuzuki (a pureblood angel- dressed in white in above pic) and Hanamura (reading the paper). The last two especially made the humour in the story, moreso in scenes involving all four of them. They are all characters that have been seen in some form in other manga and anime, but complement each other and with the humour, plotting, and array of supernatural abilities were still enjoyable overall. And the villains aren’t much at first, but do get more interesting and complex (not so much there personalities, but with their scheming) later on.

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So on a whole I’d recommend this one to teens and adults alike that are into common supernatural shonen/seinen manga or anime stories, and book lovers who are looking for something to pass the time and enjoy reading about angels, demons, and supernatural beings. As you could probably tell from the picture from the manga I included here, it does have a couple ecchi-like scenes, but don’t worry (or get too excited) they don’t get anymore explicit then that. So, aside from what I call “what-was-the-point-of-wearing-a-shirt” cleavage there isn’t much fanservice (ex. panty shots, supernaturally overlarge breasts that giggle every time the wind blows, “accidental” oops-I-just-tripped groping, etc.). The story may not be the best out there, but I thought it was worth reading and don’t regret buying it. 

 

Gotta say…for a manga without an adaptation it’s got a lot of artbook worthy pictures 😍

 

My Top 10: Worst Reads of 2018

My Boyfriend is a Vampire (Series) by Han Yu Rang

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Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

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Shuriken and Pleats by Matsuri Hino

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Green Grow the Lilacs: A Play by Lynn Riggs

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*DNF

 

Honey & Honey Drops by Kanan Minami

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Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

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Blue Morning by Shoko Hidaka

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The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler

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Red Queen (Series) by Victoria Aveyard

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Professed by Nicola Rendell

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My Top 10: Best Reads of 2018

Tokyo Ghoul (Series) by Sui Ishida

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Circe by Madeline Miller

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Aoharu X Machinegun (Series) by NAOE

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Peter Darling by Austin Chant

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Fruits Basket (Series) by Natsuki Takaya

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Becoming by Michelle Obama

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Noragami (Series) by Adachitoka

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The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

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The Water Dragon's Bride by Rei Toma

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Giant Days (Series) by John Allison

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My Top 10: Most Disappointing Reads of 2018

What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera

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Mystic by Jason Denzel

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Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

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Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

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The Gentleman's Guide to Vice & Virtue by Mackenzie Lee

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Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

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The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

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The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

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Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

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A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

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My Top 10: Most Surprising Reads of 2018

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery

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Sadie by Courtney Summers

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George by Alex Gino

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Human Acts by Han Kang

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The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

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The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

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The Backstagers (Series) by James Tynion IV

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The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith

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Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

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