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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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 😁

Dorohedoro Vol. 1, by Q. Hayahida

*This Review is Spoiler Free*

*Sorry for the late post and replies.  Just a bit swamped with work, but will reply soon!*

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Find it on Goodreads

Buy it at Chapters/Indigo

Buy it at Barnes & Noble

Buy it at Book Depository

Buy it at Amazon

Three Words: THE FIRST PAGE 

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umm…okay. So I realize that maybe shouldn’t be my first reaction to such a scene, but I’m fine with just blaming my horror-movie-centered-upbringing. Moving on, I actually came across this one from a Google Image search while looking up a completely unrelated series (Berserk). I saw that one picture, and of course went looking for it. Luckily I was able to pick-up the first volume at my local library.  

Synopsis: 

A blood-splattered battle between diabolical sorcerers and the monsters they created.

In a city so dismal it’s known only as “the Hole”, a clan of Sorcerers have been plucking people off the streets to use as guinea pigs for atrocious “experiments” in the black arts. 

Rating: I’m actually not sure. 7/10? 9/10? ….Guess I go with 8/10 unicorn horns!

In short, my trouble rating this comes from that fact that this is that it’s a pretty weird story, with an equally strange cast of characters (especially the antagonists). Eventually my interest in the stories many mysteries won out, but it feels like this story and it’s uniqueness are the definition of hit-or-miss. It was sometimes difficult for me to figure out if certain oddities where something I actually liked, or just downright creeped me out. And while I ended up really liking it, I could easily see why others wouldn’t.

The world of “the Hole” is still largely one big mystery by the end of the first volume. It seems like the sorcerers and the people in “the Hole” live in separate dimensions, with the former preying on the latter, but that’s just a guess. Even so, I really liked how my many questions about this unique world were answered slowly, in bits and pieces over time.

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pg. 3, Vol. 1

While I can’t say I liked it all, overall the strangeness of this world/story was a plus. There were quite a few scenes that had me doing double takes thinking, “did a man’s head really just pop out of lizard-head dude’s stomach to talk to someone?”, and “did this dude really just turn his enemies into mushrooms then talk about eating them?” I thought that last one was a joke, but nope. No it was not. 

As for the characters, the ones that had me so conflicted were the antagonists (the sorcerers). They are an interesting bunch, but the five introduced in this volume are on such a different plane of weird I don’t know what to think about them.

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pg. 92, Vol. 1

Though the main characters Nikaido (the girl executing that headlock-see 1st pic) and Caiman (lizard head dude) were a different story. I was, for obvious reasons, surprised to learn that these two are the main characters. But with their unexpected mildly inappropriate humour, easy banter, and the overall mystery surrounding them it didn’t take me long to like them. Nikaido is one talented and strong woman, and I can’t help but wonder what her story is, and what made her join Caiman on his quest. And as for Caiman, it was his duality and humour (he has the feel of an anti-hero) that had me interested. I couldn’t help but be drawn into his ruthless, and often bloody, quest to find the sorcerer who cast a spell on him (the spell that changed his head into a reptile, and gave him the unique power to withstand magic).

It’s all these mysteries, like the strangeness of “the Hole”, the magic system, where the sorcerers come from and why they have no qualms about committing horrible experiments on people (really, they seem to lack some serious morals in general) that drive me to want to learn more. And, of course, there’s the bit about the unknown man living inside of Caiman….And..well, okay, all the gory action is part of it. 

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Needless to say, this manga definitely isn’t for everyone. Though the scenes do serve to progress the plot, or give readers a better idea of the dark type of environment these guys are in, there is quite a bit of violence, and it doesn’t dial back on the explicit images to go with it. Which reminds me…I absolutely LOVE the artwork! It’s quite detailed, especially the facial expressions and eyes!

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somewhere in chapter 1, Vol. 1…I think…

Injection Vol. 1, by Ellis (story), Shalvey (art), & Bellaire (colour)

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Find it on Goodreads

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Find it at Barnes & Nobles

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I’ve done a novel and manga/anime review this new year, but realized it’s been quite a while since I’ve done a graphic novel review, so why not? Came across this one, once again, at the local library (I thank God every day for it’s existence). Of course, the cover is what made me pick this one up, no surprise there. But the title and a quick flip through the first couple pages also had me wanting to take it home with me. 

Synopsis:

Once upon a time, there were five crazy people and they poisoned the 21st century.

That little blurb pretty much sums things up better that I could. The story starts with a meeting at Sawling Hospital where we meet one of five major characters, Professer Maria Killbride. It’s clear from the get go that Killbride is there for a good reason, but despite that a company known as the FPI (Finest Production Industries) is in need of her brand of genius and are quick to contract her help.  From there we go on to meet the other four main characters Brigid Roth, Dr. Robin Morel, Vivek Headland, and Simon Winters, each with there own problems. 

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My Rating: 9/10 Unicorn Horns!

So far this diverse group of characters and the mysterious story has me hooked. We get a snippet at the beginning that shows how these five characters met- as the new found Cross-contamination Unit brought together by a university, the Ministry of Time and Measurement, and FPI in, I assume, England. Though the faces shown in that past are completely different (with one exception) from the faces shown in present day.

First Meeting (pg. 5)

Present Day (pg. 8)

There isn’t a single character I didn’t find myself liking or interested in. We get to know a bit about Brigid, Robin, and Simon, though Vivek is still a bit an interesting mystery. Their back and forth intertwining story-lines had me confused for a second, but seeing the contrast in their personalities, past to present, made me hella curious to see what the heck they did/created to make them look like hell (something we finally catch a tantalizing glimpse of towards the end).

To be honest, I wasn’t even sure how to classify this series. It’s set in modern day with a blend of biology/physics, computers science, folklore, and, I guess, magic. The five geniuses (specializing in a broad range of fields) were put together to create and invent something that would inspire the future. So their creation has a bit of each of their diverse types of intelligence in it (hence my difficulty to classify things). This all just made me that much more interested in the story as a whole. The action, mystery, eerie atmosphere, and the sometimes unexpected humour were very well done (more than a couple unexpected jokes had me going).

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pgs. 52-53

Then there’s the artwork which was, overall, pretty eye catching. The otherworldly feel and downright eeriness of the story came to life with the images and colouring. I can’t say there wasn’t some awkwardness here and there, an oddly flowing scene here and an oddly drawn panel there, but didn’t come across it enough to be bothered by it in the face of all the usual beauty.

All in all it was a very good start to what looks like a promising series. I’d recommend this series to any paranormal fiction, mystery, or science fantasy. Just a heads up, like with most Image comics I’ve read they don’t shy away from swearing, and there are a couple scene with some mild gore (never thought there’d come a day I could classify gore levels). Though if that doesn’t bother you I hope you’ll give this one some time. I’ll defiantly be keeping up with this series, and look forward to reading more! 

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pg. 18

 

 

Barakamon by Satsuki Yoshino

*This Review is Spoiler Free*

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This post is going to be a bit different from my usual style and content, as I’ve finally- for those that have been suggesting it for quite some *cough* decided to also write a little on anime. Now this doesn’t mean I’m turning this into an anime site, I’ll still be doing the regular bi-weekly book review posts (excusing times where things get busy and there isn’t any *ahem*). This just means I’ll occasionally be doing an extra post here and there on anime, or something like this one- where it’s mainly a manga review, but I add in some of my thoughts on the anime adaption if I’ve watched it. 

Last year I decided to go outside of my comfort zone with anime and tried out a few shows in the Slice of Life genre (similar to but not quite contemporary for those of you who don’t know). Some went more or less like I was expecting- I was bored out of my mind- but a few others were gems and made me change my mind about Slice of Life in general. Barakamon, not to be confused with Bakuman (am I the only one that did this?), was one of them.

Synopsis:

Barakamon follows the life of a 23-year-old professional calligrapher, Seishuu Handa, after he moves out to the booneys on a small island. The calligraphy bit got me interested, but so did his reason for moving in the first place: as a much needed getaway following a… let’s call it “mishap” with the Exhibit Hall Director at a showing over some publicly dished out criticism.

Exhibit A:

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Naturally this all led to him having some…issues in his work and social life, so he readily agreed to being sent off to the middle of nowhere. But, of course, his hopes of getting some peace and quiet to focus on his work are quickly crushed by one trouble making first grader: Naru.

Exhibit B:

 

My Rating (for both): 9/10 Unicorn Horns!

The hilarious interactions between main characters Handa and little Naru are definitely the selling point of this series. I found myself bursting into laughter every chapter/story at their antics, the many resulting misunderstandings, and Handa’s often immature reactions to Naru’s actions and logic. The characters and humour are part of what made this series so enjoyable for me. Even the side characters that make small appearances had their place and made themselves memorable in some way. 

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In the first volume, along with a handful of villagers, we only meet Naru, a couple of her classmates, the two middle schoolers Miwa and Tama, and high school senior Hiroshi. Things don’t get too in-depth with them seeing as this is the first volume, save for maybe Hiroshi, but there is just enough to get a grasp on each character. I was taken back by how well Yoshino was able to make a cast of characters with such varying ages work. And equally surprised I didn’t find the kids really annoying. Of course the anime goes further than what I’ve read, but I’m seriously looking forward to going through all the craziness again in later volumes (especially the bits when Tama’s secret hobby and future dream come to light).

Then there’s the out-of-nowhere-gut-punching (a.k.a metaphoric life messages that really hit home). They’re nothing incredibly mind blowing, just some words about everyday life and hurtles most (meaning me) have forgotten had such simple answers somewhere along the way. Naru and Hiroshi did this very well through their interactions with each other, often giving insightful advice and encouragement just by being themselves. Coupled with the humour this made it become a solid and unforgettable series for me, which was unexpected considering my strong preference for an overarching plot. 

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Since this story takes place on a remote island, the inhabitants actually speak a different dialect (Kansai dialect). In the manga the translator used an old country sounding accent for all the characters living on the Island to represent this, save city raised Handa of course. While the anime does the same, reading it in the manga was a slightly different experience. This wasn’t a negative thing, just took some getting use to. 

The taste of small town life was another surprising enjoyment, and actually made me want to give it a try sometime. That and of course my introduction to the world of professional calligraphy. Naturally I won’t be taking this as a how-to-guide, but it did get me thinking, and also broaden my world by making me stop and really take it in as an art form. Especially a particular scene in the anime…which I can’t actually show cause it would definitely count as a spoiler. 

(Poor) Non-spoiler substitute: 

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Lastly, I never say much about it in any of my reviews unless I found it mind-blowing, but will say I like the art style. It’s good as far as I’m concerned and easy to follow, but noticeably changes (in a good way) from the first chapter to the last. 

I watched the anime a few months ago, and have only just read the first volume so can’t compare them much without spoilers. But so far the adaptation did a very good job. I’d recommend checking out either one since the anime seems to have done a fairly good job at capturing the essence of the manga, and the characters in it. Both were hilarious, charming, and overall very enjoyable.

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Find it On:

MAL;  Goodreads

Stream/Buy the Anime On:

Crunchyroll;  Funimation

Buy the Manga At:

Indigo/Chapters;  Amazon;  Barnes & Noble;  Right Stuff Anime

 

Golden Kamuy, Vol. 1 by Satoru Noda

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I actually never heard of, or seen this series before reading it. It’s just one from the (always) giant pile of random books I recently picked without reading the synopsis from the library. And I have to say I’m glad I decided to pick up so many unheard of books this time around, because I’ve found a few gems I know I’d never have picked up to read if I’d know what it was about before hand.

Synopsis: A recent war veteran dubbed Saichi “Immortal” Sugimoto finds himself dishonourably discharged, and desperately searching the wild mountains of Hokkaido for gold in postwar gold rush 1904. Of course he finds nothing, except an old man with an interesting story: a ruthless man murdered a group of Ainu (Japanese First Nations), stole their giant pile of gold, and was caught and imprisoned. Once the secret of the large gold mine got out, with all the people-government and otherwise- wanting a piece, escape became impossible. So what did this man do? In the hopes of getting a message to his allies, he tattooed cryptic instructions of where he left the gold on all his prison mates with the promise to share with them. They stage a prison break, and succeed.

Now of course Sugimoto doesn’t believe a word, until a bear attack and dead body later, when he gets to see the unique tattoos himself. While protecting this body from said bear, help comes from an unexpected ally, an Ainu girl who’s father was a victim of the murdering thief. The two form an unlikely bond while surviving the bear attack and begin working together to hunt down the prisoners. One for the gold, the other for revenge.

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pgs 61-62

Rating: 8.5/10 Unicorn Horns

This was a very different story from what I’m used to reading, so I was surprised to find myself liking it so much. Despite the historical setting and mystery (two things I enjoy, just not together), the story line and where it’s heading were more than enough to make me change my mind. Things get a bit graphic here and there once they start hunting down prisoners, but things never felt needlessly gruesome. I gave it such a high rating for it’s uniqueness. The story may be similar to others, but incorporates a fair amount of original ideas- like the multitude of referenced info about Ainu people I loved learning. 

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I can’t say much about the setting since I know next to nothing about 1904 Japan, but I enjoyed the learning experience, especially when they took to the wilds. Noda gives tons of descriptions which made things feel more realistic. As for the characters, with the exception of one, I have no complaints. Sugimoto is a wonderfully complex ex-soldier who is decidedly unapologetic about taking lives if he’s threatened. Yet he’s also an intelligent, compassionate, and very capable fighter who shows hints of the recklessness and emotional instability born of surviving the horrors of war.

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Even one of the inmates and the hints of future antagonists, each having their own unique personalities, were fascinating to read/watch. Which all made the lack that is Asirpa, the young Ainu girl who becomes Sugimoto’s partner, pretty confusing. Though she’s clearly very intelligent and can hold her own in a fight, I found her fading to the background among Sugimoto and minor characters. I was pretty disappointed with her, but to be fair this is only the first volume. We get quite a bit of Sugimoto’s background, and learn about his motives and personality, so it’s my guess Asirpa, as the secondary main character, will be fleshed out as a character in a later volume.

Regardless this was a great read and I’m really looking forward to checking out the next volume. I actually have no idea who to recommend this to, seeing as how I would have never in my life picked this up. So I guess if anything I’ve said about this series in my review interests you, please give it a try! Thanks for reading =)downloadg.jpg 

 

 

The Beauty, Vol. 1 by Jason A. Hurley & Jeremy Haun

*This Review is Spoiler Free*

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To be completely honest I had actually completely forgotten I had this book in my collection. I was doing a major bookshelf dusting and was on the shelf holding my graphic novels when BAM! I got to this cover and was unnervingly surprised. I lovingly…and possibly a little creepily…consider all my books “my children”, so to come across one I barely remember receiving as a gift was quite the shock. So of course considering I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately (hence the recent overabundance of manga/comic reviews lol), but am almost always up for a bit of horror I decided to give this neglected volume some much needed love. 

Synopsis: I like to put things in my own words, but the opening first few pages honestly sum things up quite perfectly so I can’t help but just quote it (Pgs 1-2 of The Beauty):

Two years ago , a new sexually transmitted disease took the world by storm. This S.T.D. was unlike any other that had come before. This was a disease that people actually wanted. “Victims” of this epidemic were physically changed by the virus. Fat melted away, thinning hair returned, skin blemishes faded, and their facial features slimmed. It became known as the beauty. The beauty quickly became a fad. Suddenly, perfect skin, flawless features, and a gorgeous body were only one sexual encounter away.

The only downside appeared to be a slight fever, but that didn’t seem to slow many people down. Now, over half the population has the beauty, and the other half of the country hates them for it. Anti-beauty cells have popped up around the nation. The majority teach preservation, reminding everyone that the beauty is still a disease. A few, however, have taken a more aggressive approach to stopping the spread of the beauty…

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Image from Pg 3. of The Beauty

Rating: 9/10 Unicorn Horns!

A page after such an intriguing introduction to the modern world setting of The Beauty, we meet detectives Foster and Vaughn of the local city’s Beauty Task Force as they respond to the possible anti-beauty murder of a young woman. Only once they arrive at the scene it’s clear things aren’t as they appear as the young woman, by all appearances, looked instead to have spontaneously combust while traveling on the train. Things are quickly complicated even further when the case is quickly pulled from them by the Center for Disease Control by “Federal mandate”. This leads both detectives Foster and Vaughn (an unwilling carrier of ‘the beauty’) to look into the buried secrets behind the mysterious STD and those seeming to keep this horrific secret from the general public.  

Honestly…I don’t have much negative things to say about the first installment of what looks to be a very promising adult series. The story had a really good flow to it and was riddled with action, thriller, conspiracies, and a great diverse group of characters. One thing I loved was the bits of real life socially controversial thoughts and ideas about beauty woven in here and there. The art was visually appealing, and though I can’t say the main characters were personally among my favorites they were very well created and felt pretty genuine. The only reason it’s not a 10/10 is purely because of personal reasons. I would recommend this to just about every story loving adult, but warn about explicit violence, language, and a couple nude and censored sexually explicit scenes. This was an amazing start to a series with such a unique idea I couldn’t praise it enough!