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I Love My Love: A Journey Toward Self by Reyna Biddy

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Abandonment, domestic violence, toxic relationships, body image issues, cheating, depression, abuse, emotional/mental abuse, talk of suicide, emotional/mental abuse, and many more hard topics.

“I’m ready to be more like me. I’m ready to be more alive.”

Whenever I read poetry, I always go in with an open mind and I’m always conscious that a part of the author goes into ever corner of their poetry collection. A part of me always feels guilty for putting a review on anything like a poetry collection, a memoir, etc… because who am I to judge someone else’s life, experiences, or their journey. However, I am very appreciative that the author has the courage to put their journey and work out there and I’m grateful I could read this poetry collection.

Reyna Biddy is a 22-year-old spoken word artist known for her positive affirmations and self-love guides she hides within her poetry. Reyna is also well known on Tumblr and Twitter, where she also shares some of her healing words. This LA native has given credit in the past to her childhood as her source of inspiration, and this inspiration has spread like wildfire. “I’m sorry you missed the God in me”, this one quote of Reyna’s can be seen in bios all across Twitter.

Not only does Reyna have her spoken word available on to stream on Soundcloud, but she also has books available to purchase. Her first project  “I Love My Love”, features a collection of her poetry that tells the story of how she learned to love. This collection is extremely personal and inspirational, she gained thousands of fans after it’s release in early 2017. Her second collection is titled “A Psalm for Us”, since then has been released as of February 2018. Her highly anticipated collection will explore and question faith and self-affirmation.

“before we fall in love—let’s heal each other.”

Reading poetry collection after poetry collection, it’s easy to find likes and dislikes. One thing that I’ve noticed with I Love My Love is it talks about deeper issues, with a seductive but powerful anger that all but sparks from the pages. It’s not coming from a passive voice who is just telling a story, this comes from a voice that demands to be heard with such intensity that you have to listen to it.

My Thoughts

I love poetry and I always love poetry that can spark some form emotion from me. The type of poetry I come to love is the type that can rattle the bones in my body and make waterfalls out of my eyes. While there were a few pieces that shook me, I struggled with this poetry collection so much. For me, the biggest thing I noticed was the voice that would radiate from various pages. There would be parts where you could feel Biddy’s Latina side come out, there would also be bits of freestyle slam poetry thrown in randomly throughout this collection. While I love both of these styles of poetry, when there’s already a set tone of voice and then you throw other random tones of voice into the mix, it can be very jarring and my interest would slip in and out because things would start to become muddled.

While I dislike comparing authors to one another, for this bit of an example I’m going to make some references to the work of Lovelace. Mays does what Lovelace does in her book, which basically means no traditional capitalization and lots of line breaks to separate what would otherwise be ordinary sentences. Some of Mays’s poems do rhyme, and they rhyme in a way that made me wonder if they might actually sound better being read aloud, like how I mentioned above with the freestyle poetry, instead of being read on the page. Because the way I was reading them in my head, the meter was not consistent and many of the rhymes felt forced. A lot of her “poems” are also paragraphs, and it’s hard to read them because of the lack of capitalization. While some have criticized Lovelace for the amount of white space in her poems, but it does make them easier to read her books. With the way Biddy has styled each page, this was more of a strain, and not really worth reading. I also took issue with the fact that her ellipses only had two periods instead of three. This stylistic choice looks like a typo, and I kept stumbling over it because it looked like an error, even though it wasn’t. It was very hard to read and I think there will be a few readers who will struggle with the way this is all typed out.

One thing I really want to point out (and I’ve only mentioned this once in one other review) is a lot of swearing and use of curse words. If you’re not a fan of swear words or curse words used often, then this might not be the poetry collection. For myself, it didn’t bother me too much, but I know that there will be some readers who will have issues with that being woven into this collection.

I really loved that this book addressed a lot of important topics. And the parts that really hit me, they really reminded me of my childhood and growing up. They were like claws pulling on my heart strings. A lot of these issues aren’t always talked about that often and I really appreciate that Biddy addressed them.

“trying to love someone into loving you- is destroying you”

Overall, I feel really bad about giving this poetry collection such a low review, especially with all the important topics that get mentioned, and a lot of the lines have a lot of potential. As I said before, I always try to go in with an opened mind and not be to harsh on judging poetry collections. This was someone trying to share their story, trying to resonate with their supporters and readers. I’m sure this poetry collection will -with others- not with me. I just wasn’t very connected to this poetry collection and it didn’t connect with me. However, don’t let my reading experience discourage you from giving this poetry collection a try. There are many moving parts of this collection with very important topics. And I truly believe that this collection will touch many poetry lovers.

“make homes out of something you can keep close forever – not some “one” who’s temporary”

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Playlists

Shadow of the Fox Reading Playlist

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You can find my review for this book on my GoodReads and on my blog!

“The future,” she said, her voice echoing over the crowd, “is an ever changing stream. Every choice, every decision we make, sends it down a different path.” 

I think the biggest thing for me with this book, it feels like a slice of familiarity. Reading about this group of people traveling together remind me so much of some of my favorite anime shows like Inuyasha or Samurai Champloo or even Naruto. I always love seeing various group dynamics come together and how their personalities mesh with each other. Julie Kagawa has done a marvelous job with this. The way Yumeko and Tatsumi are together is so unique and works so well with one another, that I’m constantly craving more. Even as characters were added to their group, the way the different personalities bounced off one another was so good. I love it and I can’t wait to see how the various personalities continue to bloom and grow in Julie’s future books in this series!

I loved this book so much and I’m still thinking about every little piece from this book! The characters are some of the most captivating that will lure you into investing every emotions you have into them. But having this reading experience wouldn’t be complete without the amazing music I was listening to while reading this ya fantasy! So without any further delay, let me share some of the best music to listen to while reading this book!

Memoirs of a Geisha Full Soundtrack
Relaxing Japanese Music
Zen Garden
MISIA – DEEPNESS
MISIA – 白い季節
Japanese Battle Music

Okay, friends! That’s my whole playlists for Shadow of the Fox! I hope you give some of these amazing tunes a chance and you enjoy them as much as I do. With the sequel right on the horizon, I might just have to make a playlist for that one as well. As always, I hope your month is full of amazing reads and if you haven’t decided on what to read next, I hope you consider giving Shadow of the Fox a chance! Until next time, I love you and may your tbr be full! ❤️

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Heavy Vinyl, Vol.1: Riot on the Radio by Carly Usdin & Nina Vakueva

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Anxiety, panic attacks, a lot of self doubt, verbal bullying/harassment

“I’ll show them. I’m gonna get really good at the guitar and then they’ll have to let me in their super secret band.”

Starry-eyed Chris has just started the dream job every outcast kid in town wants: working at Vinyl Mayhem. It’s as rad as she imagined; her boss is BOSS, her co-workers spend their time arguing over music, pushing against the patriarchy, and endlessly trying to form a band. When Rosie Riot, the staff’s favorite singer, mysteriously vanishes the night before her band’s show, Chris discovers her co-workers are doing more than just sorting vinyl . . . Her local indie record store is also a front for a teen girl vigilante fight club! 

Main Characters

🌻ChrisNewest member at Vinyl Destination, still finding their self and expanding their music taste
🌻 MaggieChris’s crush, likes everything, has two dads
🌻 DoloresResident goth, second most newest person at Vinyl Destination, Chris’s arch nemesis, lives on her own, large family
🌻 KennedyMusic encyclopedia, trying to expand Chris’s music horizon, has a boyfriend named Logan
🌻 IreneVinyl Destination manager, Chris wants to be just like her, has a cute dog, has a female partner

Chris is a seventeen year old who feels like they finally found their little corner in this big world. Vinyl Destination is the coolest place in town with some of the coolest chicks around and Chris desperately wants to be one of the gang. But things seem like they’re becoming more of an outcast more and more. Until the leader of Chris’s favorite band goes missing and suddenly their world has been flipped upside down where secrets start coming to light. Everything that they thought things were, suddenly aren’t and now Chris is just trying to find their place among the chaos!

“And then there’s me. Who am I? I thought music would be a way to figure that out…I guess I’m still looking.”

Let me start thing off with this….So much diversity! So much representation and I can’t get over it! We have a Puerto Rican girl and an African American girl, both so unique characters with their personalities, but so amazing in their own ways with their skills. Then we get a female-female main couple and they are just the cutest ever, and did I mention they’re a biracial couple too!? We also have Maggie who is the daughter of two gay dads, one who apparently loves to cook his heart out and I’m here for it! And we get all the girl on girl crushing our little hearts could desire! Maggie and Chris are the cutest and their interactions are the purest thing ever!

Now that I’m done gushing, this comic did a fantastic job at sticking with a solid story-line. There were times where things felt very rushed, but it still stuck with the story-line. I can’t begin to how often I’ve gone into a comic book and the story-line felt muddle or a little all over the place. Thankfully, this was the opposite of some of my past reads! While it does have a weird-absurd concept, the dialogues were so well suited for this comic and the mood of each page. At times funny, clever, some heart breaking moments, and those soft moments that just warm the heart.

I already mention the great representation and diversity this book has to offer, but the cast of characters is simply too amazing not to mention again! There’s so much individuality among all these characters. The story-line also helps to connect and let the reader create a bond with the characters for who they are. The reader will find someone among with this amazing group of people someone they can relate or they can connect with. For me personally, I felt connected to Chris and Irene who both have traits that I resonate with.

“How much of that did you hear? Enough to know that y’all are definitely hiding something from me!”

While on the subject of amazing characters, that girl on girl crush was such a mood for me with this comic! I had some full blown nostalgic vibes when I had my first crush on a girl. I became so invested in the whole crush that I couldn’t stop myself from rooting for both Maggie and Chris. That slow burn romance was everything and I was here for every second of it. I I could put a love burn romance in ever comic book then I would! Even those little moments, absolutely precious and I can’t get over how great it was!

My biggest issues with this comic were a few minor things and one major issue. My biggest issues is broken into two parts. First, was how Dolores character was setup. The author made it so pain-staking obvious on why Dolores was such a bully towards Chris. I thought there was going to be more to it, but it’s not. It’s exactly what you think it is and I just wasn’t feeling it. Not to mention, Chris and Dolores making up felt a little rushed to me and I personally wasn’t feeling it. I feel like more work could have been put into Dolores and her character. Also, the second major thing that definitely doesn’t fit this entire comic…I’m sorry but since when is tripping a guy and then kicking the guy out of a store for saying he doesn’t like a certain artist to a girl empowering, even if the guy has a douchebug-y attitude, or since when is flirting with a guy and then joking about “trying to get some free nachos” being feminist? Kicking boys’ butts and exclaiming that you ‘fight the patriarchy’ doesn’t make you a feminist, it makes you look a terrible person for treating someone so poorly. There are better ways these situations could have been handled or written, but to me, it made these girls come off as obnoxious, disrespectful, and bullies. For me personally, it made me cringe. Along with that, there were parts that felt rushed or like a little more detail could have been added in. And my last real issue with this comic, there isn’t a lot of action. If you were going into this comic thinking there was going to be a lot of butt-kicking, there’s literally only two panels where there’s a little action. So that’s something to keep in mind.

Overall, this was a quirky little comic that sets things up very nicely for any future comics. I’m eager for a little more action and butt-kicking, but I’m so here for these amazing characters. Also, Kennedy and Logan have some of the cutest moments in this comic. I’m so ready for more! I did have a few issues with this comic, but I still ended up flying through this comic fairly decently. If you’re looking for some queer themed, fast paced reading then this is the comic for you!

“There’s no mission too big or too small. And Vinyl Destination is just the tip of the iceberg.”

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Shadow of the Fox by (Shadow of the Fox, #1) by Julie Kagawa

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Content/Trigger Warning: Human sacrifice, graphic death/murder, war themes, graphic violence, loss of loved ones, physical abuse, implied/talk of torture, threat of rape, talk of suicide, and there is a scene that might be hard for people with arachnophobia

“He told me that the tiniest pebble, when dropped into a pond, will leave ripples that will grow and spread in ways we cannot comprehend.” 

One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos. Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn.

Shadow of the Fox is an absolute blessing and Julie Kagawa has delivered a captivating book. The first chapter will leave you wondering what is about to happen next or have you saying “Just one more chapter!” Once I made the connections with Japanese mythology and legends, I was hooked and now I can’t stop talking about it. This has definitely been a book of great highlight for me and has made it’s way into my top 2019 books! And the second book in this can’t come soon enough!

In case you didn’t know, this is an own voices Japanese inspired fantasy. While this book does follow three main characters, there are two minor characters to keep an eye on because they may play a bigger role in the future that we, as the readers, aren’t aware of yet. They all end up being forced to work together, while a demon army rains death and destruction.

Main Characters

🌻 YumekoRaised by monks in the Temple of the Silent Winds, half kitsune, who is a lot better at illusions than she gives herself credit to. Soon she finds her life thrown into chaos as her only home is ripped away from her by the destruction of an army of demons. Now she will embark on a quest to a hidden temple to bring half of the ancient scroll to safety.

“In this vision, I have seen blood and flames and death, demons shrieking and rivers of bones, and the world grows dark with fear. But a single fox stands above it all, untouched, a great dragon cast in her shadow. Her name is Yumeko, child of dreams, for she is our hope against the coming darkness.”

🌻 KageSamurai/Shanobi of the Shadow Clan, one of the most feared and deadliest warriors and demon slayers ever, even though he is very young. Wielding the blade of Hakaimono, a sword sealed with one of the most deadliest demon generals of his time, Kamigoroshi, Tatsumi is constantly tested with how strong his will is. Sent on a mission by his clan to retrieve a piece of the ancient scroll by any means, instead he finds Yumeko and makes a promise to deliver her to the hidden temple in exchange for the scroll.

“He didn’t know how to laugh, or smile, or have any fun. He didn’t know the pleasures of the simple things – laughing, dancing, finding beauty in the world.”

🌻 Lady SatomiThe wild card in this entire story! Cruel, wicked, and unpredictable, she’s a diabolical lady with an evil plan up her sleeve. She’s the emperor’s favorite concubine, but little does anyone know what she does in her free time. Sacrificing newly hired maids to her demon army, Lady Satomi is after the ancient scroll as well. Leaving a trail of blood, death, and demons in her wake.

“Lady Satomi stood a few paces away, her hair unbound and tossed by the wind, the sleeves of her red-and-black kimono fluttering like sails. Her eyes were hard, and her lips were curled in a tiny smile.”

Minor Characters to Watch

🌻 SukiBits and pieces of her were sprinkled throughout this entire story. Daughter of a celebrated flute maker, Suki is shipped off to work as the new made for the favored concubine of the emperor to live a better life than running his shop. Soon turned into a spirit, Suki keeps holding on to the realm of the living to spy on the one who caused her death. I truly believe Suki will play a much bigger role in this whole series and I can’t wait for it!

“It was raining the day Suki came to the Palace of the Sun, and it was raining the night that she died.”

🌻 SeigetsuA mysterious person indeed. A stranger who ends up saving Yumeko from a terrible situation. Possibly a lone samurai, wields a giant sword. He does come back later on in this book and that twist was everything I needed! I have no doubt he is going to be playing a key role in future books!

“He looked powerful, with his golden eyes and giant sword; even the wind witch seemed afraid of him.”

When all of the pieces of the scroll are finally combined together, whole once more, a dragon will rise and the person who has summons it will be granted any wish their heart desires. So long as their heart and soul is pure and good, that is. Should that person be anything but pure and good, I hope you brought a wet suit because it’s going to get very messy. Many people are searching high and low for these pieces of the scroll so that they can combine them to have their wish granted. And let’s not forget, there’s a demon army running rampant trying to bring the end of the world, true apocalypse type stuff. But some people really need their wish granted. You know, for the sake of all humanity to survive.

One thing I will say about this book, if you’re not familiar with Japanese culture, history, legends and mythology ( Granted, things and creatures mentioned in this book are described) then there will be a lot of parts that might not make a lot of sense. Blessings upon Julie Kagawa because she also included a glossary at the back of the book for those who aren’t familiar with the Japanese language, as well. But sometimes, our imagination cannot measure up to the real thing or seeing a physical representation. So if you ever read this book and you have no idea what different types of yokai and demons are supposed to look like, I encourage you to look things up.

I think the biggest thing for me with this book, it feels like a slice of familiarity. Reading about this group of people traveling together remind me so much of some of my favorite anime shows like Inuyasha or Samurai Champloo or even Naruto. I always love seeing various group dynamics come together and how their personalities mesh with each other. Julie Kagawa has done a marvelous job with this. The way Yumeko and Tatsumi are together is so unique and works so well with one another, that I’m constantly craving more. Even as characters were added to their group, the way the different personalities bounced off one another was so good. I love it and I can’t wait to see how the various personalities continue to bloom and grow in Julie’s future books in this series!

Of course, at the heart of this book you will find that there is always friendship. Yumeko constantly shows us in this book that kindness and unconditional love are the two most powerful forces in the world. As you read this book, Yumeko is slowly opening Kage’s world and showing him just how truly powerful both of those are. Their dynamic will make readers go speechless. I can’t even put into words how much I adore their dynamic and how much they open each other’s world. Not to mention, this is only the beginning of a slow burn romance and I am here for every second of it! The minute these two characters crossed paths, I knew I was going to be very attached to them and they did not disappoint!

Original art by sXeven. Shared by Julie Kagawa on Facebook.

“Watching her, I found myself holding my breath, unable to look away. For just a moment, with her dark hair rippling about and her skin glowing under the lantern light, she was mesmerizing.”

The most important thing the author weaves into this book is probably the most heaviest topic, but one that isn’t often talked about. We always have a choice, there is always two paths to take. No matter our past, no matter where we come from, no matter the sins our family has made or the wrong our ancestors have done, we have a choice of making things right and to start doing good. And there is no small or big act of kindness that won’t go unnoticed. That one little act can make ripples that we can’t even see or know about. It’s never to late to apologize, right any wrongs, and forgive. Hate is a very consuming and heavy thing for the heart and soul to bear, but revenge is just as heavy.

“The future,” she said, her voice echoing over the crowd, “is an ever changing stream. Every choice, every decision we make, sends it down a different path.” 

Overall, Julie Kagawa has given me a book to love and cherish for the rest of my reading days. This is the own voices Japanese fantasy I needed to wake me up and push me to get back into fantasy. I don’t think I could love the book anymore than what I already do. By the time this review is going up, the next book in this series will be releasing shortly after and I’m so ready for. The ending makes you want to keep reading and I have a thirst for needing to know. Everything this book has is simply magical and holds such an important message. I simply love this book and I don’t think I will ever be over these characters!

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The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

Content/Trigger Warnings: Public/forced outing, implied transphobia, intoxication, scene of implied sexual assault/date rape vibes, abandonment, chronic social stress, anxiety/panic attacks

“I’m a prince who likes dresses.”

The Prince and the Dressmaker follows the story of two main characters. Our story starts by following a dress designer named Fraces, who designs a devilishly wicked dress that outrages the women at a royal ball, but captures the attention of our second main character. Prince Sebastian is as nervous as he is flamboyant prince who just so happens to also love wearing dresses and wigs. When the two come together, they become a well-oiled machine and a beautiful friendship begins to bloom, and maybe into something more! But things are never that simple, when an amazing opportunity is presented for Frances, things start to get complicated and soon everything the pairing knows will fall into chaos.

I have absolutely fallen in love with this graphic novel! You know those books that give you back a little piece of faith in humanity, this is one of those books. This graphic novel is super cute, super sweet, and it will melt your heart. This is exactly what I needed to push me out of a small reading slump and push me to read my bigger books. It completely melted my heart. If you like books that are similar to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, then this is the graphic novel you should check out.

This graphic novel follows two wonderful main characters. We follow Frances who is an aspiring fashion designer and then we follow Sebastian’s journey as he struggles with navigating being the Prince of Belgium and being Lady Crystallia. Our characters meet when Frances’s work is discovered at the Royal Spring Ball when one of Frances’s clients came in and told her to make a dress that was ghastly and made her look like the devil’s wench. Soon, the pair end up taking Paris by storm at night as Frances makes these beautifully stunning dresses and Lady Crystallia (Prince Sebastian) dazzling everyone in sight. But by day, the Prince has to go back to being the Prince and attending matchmaking dates and Frances keeps his secret locked away tight in her heart. A heart-warming friendship slowly blooms between them and then into something more, but when Sebastian’s secret threatens an incredible opportunity for Frances, things begin to spiral out of control.

“My whole life is other people deciding what’s acceptable. When I put on a dress, I get to decide what’s silly.”

I loved the way these characters were so real and the way their friendship naturally and realistically blooms into something more. It was so genuine and Jen Wang has an incredible way of visually showing their emotions and weaving those into the panels when words are exchanged between our two main characters. And speaking of visuals, the illustrations really fit the tone of the book. They’re simple and cartoonish. It truly suits the tone of this book and at times really sets the mood for that panel on that specific page.

Both characters are so lovable and so unique, and as this graphic noble develops, you’re going to see some pretty amazing side characters too. Most importantly, the character development of Frances and Sebastian (and the King!) was done so well that you can’t help getting caught up in their own journeys in this graphic novel. And before I forget, that ending was probably the most captivating end and I was so happy to see how that all played out.

I only had two issue with this graphic novel that I have advised in advance. I’m not a fan of public outings of people. It can definitely be triggering and how that all played out made me cringe. So that’s one of the main things to caution with and know that at some point, that will happen in the graphic novel. The other thing I didn’t like was how Prince Marcel came off in one of the panels. It came off as “the guy who can’t take no for an answer” or “no means yes” vibes and it made my skin crawl. For me personally, after he grabbed Sebastian by the wrist, I got instant date rape vibes and the level of anxiety that was triggered from wanting to know if Sebastian was going to be okay, was unreal. And one thing I want to stress, if someone is intoxicated from alcohol, that does not give you the right or okay to touch them or put your hands on them in any manor, make advancements on them in implied sexual or romantic ways…If the person can’t give you a coherent answer or they’re trying to walk away and leave then you have no business with that person and get someone who can get them home safely.

Overall, I loved this book and it was a great pick me up from my reading slump. This gave me such life and motivation to tackle my tbr again. It was such a cute, fun, and exciting read. It’s super quick if you’re looking for something that you can read within an hour or two. This is definitely one graphic novel that will keep you smiling and when you look at it, you’ll get a smile on your face. Other than those two issues, I really loved this book and adored every moment of it.

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The Girl from the Other Side: Siuil, A Run Vol. 6

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Other creators involved in the making of this manga include: Translating by Adrienne Beck and Lettering by Lys Blakeslee

Content/Trigger Warnings: Death/loss of a loved one, grief, talk of mass murder/democide,talk of abandonment, impalement, possible torture

“We are all capable of searching for and finding souls…but we are not quite sure how to go about getting them back.”

We dive back into the dark and divided world of The Inside and The Outside. We last saw our two main characters going through a lot of emotional and internal struggles. Near the end, Shiva and Teacher have finally stopped their argument to final start discussing about leaving the cottage. We last saw Teacher encounter some strange soldiers that caused great worry and now it seems our two heroes must now find safety in another location. Will the soldiers end up tracking them down? Will we receive more details that surround the history of Shiva or Teacher? And will Teacher finally say “to hell with this” and finally make physical contact with Shiva? Step inside, for some tea is about to get poured in this Volume Six review!

Divided Land
🌻The Inside – Where all the humans, like you and me, ruled by the King and the Church, patrolled by armed forces 
🌻The Outside – Where the Cursed Ones exist, abandoned villages, also where Teacher and Shiva exist

Factions
🌻Humans/Mortals – Like you and me, live on the Inside
🌻Cursed Ones – Beast like creatures, plagued with The Curse, feared by mortals, roam the Outside
🌻The God of Light – Creator of happiness and peace
🌻The God of Darkness – Trickster, plays pranks on the God of Light, steals away happiness, cause of The Curse

Characters
🌻Teacher – Main character, horned Cursed Child, guardian of Shiva, either a scholar or doctor when mortal
🌻Shiva – Main character, child of Light, protected by the most holy, innocent, companion to Teacher
🌻Father or Head Priest of the Church – Orders for constant capture of Shiva, believer of the “prophecy”, orders soldiers to cause democide, aid of his royal majesty
🌻Mother – Intentions unknown, creator of the Black Children
🌻The Black Children – Created by “Mother”, similar to Teacher, wish to obtain Shiva’s soul

“Souls are the very essence of our hearts. It can also be said that they are our emotions.”

Volume six takes place directly after Teacher and Shiva leave the cottage to find their new home. Things have returned to normal, Teacher and Shiva set out to find this new and mysterious home Shiva’s Aunt has told her about. However, we still have these strange soldiers lurking around and danger seems to be lurking around every corner for our two heroes. And of course, it only takes for one thing to go wrong before a snowball effect soon starts taking place.

I say this all the time since starting this series, I love it to pieces. I really do love this with all my heart. This series has definitely made it into my top five manga. And if you haven’t picked this series up yet, then what are you waiting for?! NAGABE brings to life such a unique world that laces history and dark fantasy together to beautifully. Plus, the play of light and dark for the illustrations in this book will set an unforgettable mood. And you better believe I have a playlist in the works!

My Thoughts

What’s interesting about volume six, we no longer get just one panel of the Church from the Inside. We end up with a nine page panel showing us His Majesty and The Holy Father of the Church. These are both the wild cards in this series and I’m loving the dark, ominous vibes that keep coming from them every time we get these glimpses. We don’t know anything about them, what their plans are, all we’re given are these little bread crumbs of; His Majesty seems to be falling ill or being consumed by exhaustion, The Holy Father is basically running the whole army of soldiers, there’s some really dark, shady things happening that no one outside of the Church knows about, and they want to capture Shiva and sacrifice her to obtain her soul. Other than this, we have no idea what the full intentions of the Church truly are. All we know for certain is the Church isn’t as innocent as they’re pretending to be.

On another note, I’m loving the escalation of the relationship between Shiva and Teacher. Their dynamic mirrors a similar dynamic between the characters of The Ancient Magus Bride, but there are some differences. I love it though! Teacher and Shiva haven’t had it easy and they’ve both been fighting a lot of eternal struggles as well. But they’ve reached a point where they’re slowly starting to truly communicate and express their feelings with one another. It’s very obvious that they care about on another deeply, but it’s nice to see them trying to navigate expressing their emotions and thoughts better. Not to mention, the extreme amount of tension Teacher has for wanting to physically comfort Shiva by wanting to hug her nearly broke my heart. I can understand why he doesn’t want to do, but also why he wants to do it so badly. And it just breaks your soul because it’s the purest thing (aside from him loving her enough to protect Shiva from literally everything) Teacher has shown us and it’s horribly painful to watch him struggle. Bouncing off of that, vice versa! Shiva desperately wants to hold Teacher’s hand and give him hugs, but Teacher constantly turns her away or rejects that. It causes her pain just as much as it causes him pain and it’s the most purest thing in this entire series, you will feel like your heart is being crushed!

Also, I haven’t talked about it in my volume five review, but I do want to mention it here as well. Those “special” soldiers are also another wild card. We don’t know how many of them there are, all we truly know is they still work for the Church from the Inside and two of them fought Teacher. That’s about all we know, other than the obvious (them wanting to capture Shiva to take her soul). These guys are insanely persistent and they’re on a whole other level that I wasn’t anticipating seeing in this series. So, we also see a little more of them in this book and just how far they’re willing to go to track down our main characters. I’ll admit, their tactics put me on edge and even made me cringe a little bit.

I also really enjoyed how we received little more bread crumbs about Teacher’s past in this book. I feel like the last two volumes, all we got was background information about Shiva and a little background on her Auntie, but I’m so glad that we finally got a book that gave us some more detail about Teacher. I have been waiting for more details and I’m so glad that the journal and pocket watch are coming into play especially since it’s giving us little bread crumbs about his past. I knew those two pieces held significance, but I was completely blown out of the water the details each item was holding. I wasn’t ready and I definitely don’t think anyone else is going to be ready for these major details either.

“There must be a clue of some sort here. We’re going to find that clue…and then…We’re going to capture the creature.”

And as always, I have to applaud NAGABE for delivering a frightening, chilling, and highly climactic ending. This author has cliff hangers for days because all I want right now is to have the next volume in my hands to know exactly what will happen next. As I said before, all it takes is for one thing to go astray before a whole snowball effect takes place and oh my, did NAGABE deliver on that snowball! I’m not ready, I don’t think other readers are ready, this ending was a brain ninja assaulting the mind with grenades of despair and anticipation. So if you just picked up this volume, get ready for it because it’ll leave you shell shocked.

Overall, this series is fantastic and so addictive. I truly say this all the time, but I love it so much. If you’re a fan of The Ancient Magus Bride or even Wicked Saints, this is definitely a manga series you want to pick up. I’m highly anticipating volume seven to deliver more details, action, and just everything I’ve been loving in this series to appear once again. And as I said before, this has made it’s way into my top five manga series that I have come to love, but this one has completely taken me by storm. It’s just a really amazing series and if you have been thinking about picking this series up, just do it! You won’t regret it and I have no doubts that you’ll become addicted to this dark fantasy!

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Side Note

The cover for the seventh volume in this incredible series has finally been revealed! It’s absolutely stunning and I’m obsessed with the cover! The seventh volume releases August 27th, 2019 and if you’re a fan of this series or if you just became addicted to it, please make sure you pre-order your copy of volume seven and support this very talented author!

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Uncategorized

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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Content/Trigger Warning: War themes, graphic details, mass death, suicide, trauma, PTSD, anxiety

“Miracles are statistical improbabilities. And fate is an illusion humanity uses to comfort itself in the dark. There are no absolutes in life, save death.”

Synopsis:

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit. But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Side Note:

Highly recommend the physical book over the audiobook. If you do the audiobook, I highly recommend having the physical book with you while listening to it. I ended up missing this little detail… BRIEFING NOTE: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more.” I think not seeing these little details really had an effect on my reading experience. So I am hoping that I’ll get the chance to reread this book in the future with an actual physical copy.


This book took me absolutely forever to finish unlike with my spouse who practically devoured this audiobook. In my defense, we have been buddy reading this since the end of April and we agreed to a three month reading (or listening period, rather) period. Unfortunately, we didn’t plan a through breakdown of this because we both jumped into it immediately.


After so many friends and other fellow readers telling me that I needed to read this book, I finally picked up the audiobook. This was one of two other choices for a buddy read between my spouse and I. This was the one we both mutually agreed on. I had so many friends cheer that I picked this up. My only issue, I’m not a big sci-fi reader and sci-fi is one of my most challenging genres to put myself into. So, I was a little skeptical about reading this book especially since my track record with sci-fi books is like me trying to trudge through quick sand. However, I gave this book a shot with a dash of benefit of the doubt and have some mixed feelings.

Ships:
🌻 HypatiaThe ship Kady is located on
🌻 AlexanderThe ship Ezra is located on
🌻 Copernicus – Third ship in the fleet
🌻 LicolnEnemy battleship

Main Characters:
🌻 Kady GrantTech expert, takes things seriously, protege of her master Byron Zhang, girlfriend to Ezra Mason
🌻 Ezra MasonEasy going, likes to joke around, pilot ident, boyfriend to Kady Grant
🌻 AIDANAlso known as Artificial Intelligence Defense Analytics Network, AI of the Alexander

“The universe owes you nothing, Kady. It has already given you everything, after all. It was here long before you, and it will go on long after you. The only way it will remember you is to do something worth remembrance.”

My Thoughts:

I’m not going to lie, this was a really slow book for me to get into. I probably didn’t start getting into the book till about two and a half quarters, borderline three quarters, through the book before I actually started to become interested in what was happening. The beginning felt really slow and at first didn’t make a lot of sense. It was really hard for me to figure out what was happening. It was especially hard when it felt like so many perspectives were happening all at once in such a quick amount of time. As I stated above, there were parts that I ended up missing because they were images and I ended up listening to this instead of reading an actual physical copy of the book. So I think that played a part in why things maybe didn’t make sense or it felt like I was missing key details.

My only saving grace during the first two and a half quarters of this book was Ezra’s banter, the interactions between Kady and Byron, and the interactions between Ezra and Kady. These were some of the interesting points that would capture my attention and want to know more. I find both of the main characters very interesting and it was wonderful to see how their personalities went hand in hand with each other so well. That slow burn between them so so wonderful. In fact, I found myself really connected with Kady and Ezra’s relationship. I found it very similar to my own relationship between my spouse and myself. When I found that connection, I definitely felt more invested in Ezra and Kady. Not just as a couple, but also as individual characters. Kady is a very intelligent and entertaining character and Ezra is not only witty, but also shows his vulnerability. It was also nice to see a healthy relationship put to the test, but still handled in a healthy way especially during difficult times. They were like each other’s anchor and even though they each faced some hardships, they kept one another grounded. I wish we had more main character couples like Kady and Ezra.

“I am frequently underestimated. I think it’s because I’m short.”

AIDAN, however, is an entirely different story. I have so many mixed feelings about AIDAN. This AI was something I hadn’t expected. Brownie points to both of these talented authors for creating an AI that remind me of the AI, GLaDOS from Portal 2 and the AI, H.A.L. 9000 from A Space Odyssey. Also, plenty of kudos for the both of them making AIDAN have some human characteristics. For making this AI frightening, heartbreaking, caring, so human and real, and reminding me of my one of my favorite characters from Mass Effect, Legion. His point of views are unique and will definitely capture the reader’s attention, but I will admit, there are some parts that I found were giving me creepy vibes and goosebumps.

“If I breathed, I would sigh. I would scream. I would cry.”

And while there were things I really liked, one of the most unforgettable and horrifying things that this audiobook kept making me relive was playing through the Dead Space franchise. There were parts where my skin crawled and my adrenaline felt like it was kicking into over gear. If you have played that game franchise and read this book, then you know what I’m talking about. Some of those climatic scenes on the Alexander had me almost falling out of my seat, with my soul escaping my body due to imagining everything.

I think my biggest struggle was the ending though. Yes, I got a little emotional, shed a few tears, worried for Kady and AIDAN there for a few good minutes, but ultimately semi-liked the ending. I think my struggle with the ending was mostly with the time gap. It felt a little rushed and for me, it was a bit confusing on how we went from one point of time to a year later. It felt rushed or at least left something to be desired in the ending. Other than that, I thought the ending was cute and it encourages the reader to go forward with the next book in the series.

Overall, I think this was a good book especially for my first book by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. As I stated before, I definitely think the physical book would have been a better choice for myself just because it did feel like I was missing a lot of details. However, this book had me debating left and right on how to rate this book and after sitting on my feelings for it for a couple of days, I think I genuinely liked this book. I’m shocked and I’m kind of eager to start looking into reading the next book in the series. Who knew I would end up liking a sci-fi book outside of Star Wars!

“She is catalyst.

She is chaos.

I can see why he loves her.”

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