ARC Reviews

I’m Looking for Serious Love! by Shoko Rakuta

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Arc was given by LOVE x LOVEs & NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (February 15th 2022)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Bigotry (those who live in the city/country), brief scene of cockroaches (censored), entomophobia (fear of bugs), scene of underage drinking, drink spiking/drugging, brief fatphobiac name calling, sexual predator behavior, stalking, harassment, brief mentions of abandonment, sex

Oof, friends this manga was rough for me to read. I’m still wondering what the hell I just read. On one hand, I can acknowledge a lot of the cultural references that are happening in this book that relate to things actually happening in present day. On the other hand, the amount of second-hand embarrassment was a lot to read through. And second-hand embarrassment is something that’s always hard for me to recover from with a book. Either way, this was a doozy of a read.

Miyazawa Kyouhei just moved to Tokyo from the country and he has this big idea of the city life is, and how those who live in the city actually are. When Miyazawa goes to give his new apartment neighbor a gift of welcoming, Miyazawa is met with Takara Tomohiro, his senor. And thus begins their wild story of shenanigans and how they come together.

For those who love manga like Sekai-Ichi Hatsukoi or Junjou Romantica then this book is right up your alley. However, I will caution that the difference between those manga and this manga is the content warnings. I wasn’t kidding when I said I had a lot of second-hand embarrassment. Not to mention, instead of this manga coming off as leaning more to the romantic, slice of life side of manga, this manga leads more towards contemporary and has back to back scenes that could make the reader really uncomfortable. Often times if feels like you can’t catch your breath on the amount of serious scenes.

However, I really enjoyed the art style and I really appreciate the bursts of happy, positive moments throughout this story. For example, there’s a side character who really enjoys a popular J-Pop group and when this character meets Miyazawa’s grandmother, they have such a wholesome connection that brough the biggest smile to my face. Truly, one of my favorite moments of this manga.

Overall, this wasn’t a terrible read, but this definitely wasn’t the best. A lot happens in this one manga and there’s a lot to process while reading through it all. Plus the second-hand embarrassment from a lot of the incidents that happen. Also, I wish we got to see more romance between the MC and the love interest, but it was interesting to watch them come together. Still a good read and if you’re looking for more contemporary manga then I’d definitely recommend giving this one a chance.

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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ARC Reviews

Reclaim the Stars: 17 Tales Across Realms & Space edited by Zoraida Córdova

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Arc was given by St. Martin’s Press & NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (February 15th 2022)

Maybe we really should reclaim the stars! Friends, if you know me then you know I always get nervous reading anything that’s sci-fi, but oh, this anthology was a pleasant surprise. I always feel like I’m such a hard reviewer on sci-fi reads, but I really enjoyed my time within these pages and have found myself daydreaming about galaxies far, far away.

I’ll be honest, there were so many stories I fell in love with during my time reading. Trying to choose just one feels like an impossible choice. However, I think my two favorites were The First Day of Us by David Bowles and Tame the Wicked Night by Zoraida Cordova. Though there were many other stories in this anthology I deeply loved, these two in particular had me clutching my pearls. Maybe it was the romance or maybe the spark of the characters, but I just really loved these two stories best.

As always for my anthology reviews, I have mini reviews for all the short stories where I talk about my thoughts, feelings, and include content/trigger warnings.

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Reign of Diamonds by Anna-Marie McLemore ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Talk of death, violence, wounds

I won’t lie, I was pretty excited that this was the first story we get to read upon first starting. I’ve really enjoyed Anna-Marie McLemore’s work in the past and seeing their name on the list of authors had me really hyped up about this book. With that being said, this story didn’t disappoint. As always, McLemore writes characters that are so beautifully layered and contain multitudes that you can’t help loving the story, no matter how emotional it gets. I’m not saying I got soft and sappy over these two princesses, but they have my whole heart. And I lowkey wish this story got made into it’s own book.

“There was something heartbreaking at that moment, the two of us staring like that.”

Flecha by Daniel José Older ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Mentions of a plague (Silent Cough), grief, loss of a loved one, mentions of genocide

This story had me absolutely sobbing, ugly crying everywhere. Maybe its due to some of the themes within this story or maybe it was due to how vivid the emotions emanated from these pages. Truly, this is one of those stories that stand out to me the most because of the impact it had. I really loved this and I can’t wait to see what other stories this author has written for us, the reader, to discover.

“I’ll become that arrow of Ochosi, launched for divine justice – sacred, razor sharp, unforgiving.”

The First Day of Us by David Bowles ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Loss of a loved one, grief

Did I fall madly in love with this story because of a polyamorous relationship? Yes, yes I did and I don’t care who knows it! Truly, I wish there were more short stories, more stories in general, out there that normalize polyamorous relationships. I think this story was so well-done, so beautifully handled, and I loved the way how the feelings between each character manifested. Honestly, I wish this had it’s own book because I loved it so much and I feel that there’s so much more to discover about this world, these characters, and I just have a mighty need to know more about everything that was this short story.

The Tin Man by Lilliam Rivera ⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Pandemic, natural disaster, grief, loss of loved ones

This wasn’t a bad short story, but this story hit my emotions so hard that I thought I was going to have to skip it entirely. You follow the perspective of a child, potentially young teenager, who’s not only trying to survive, but is coming to terms with the loss of their family. This story is beautifully written, easily to get emotional over, and a main character you want to see have the happy ending they deserve. The reason why I gave it three stars is just due to the fact that it caused me to go into a sensory overload and after that, it was very hard to maintain a lot of the details.

This Is Our Manifesto by Mark Oshiro ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Talk of incarceration, mentions of death, brief mentions of police brutality

Another story that had me wrapped up in my feelings. Our story follows a character named Ramona coming across a manifesto. In this manifesto, we learn about these planets that holds those who’ve been incarcerated and the horrible treatment they’ve had to endure. This story hit close to home and left me weak in the knees. When I say the world melted away and there was only this story, I say it with my whole chest. Mark Oshiro has such a beautiful talent for taking serious topics that happen in the real world and manifesting it in literature, in such a poetic, emotional piece that leaves you with countless thoughts and feelings. And the way this story ends on a strong note, but also a kiss (yes, a literal kiss) is truly the icing on the cake.

“There is one thing we – the abandoned, the diminished, the harmed, the forgotten – want you to know. We will dismantle them all. And when we do, we are coming home.”

Creatures of Kings by Circe Moskowitz ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Death, talk of death, mentions of cancer, scene of homocide

This is the first short story in this anthology that had me really questioning how I felt about this story. And I have to admit, I’m a little bias towards stories that involve gods of death, grim reapers, etc… I just really enjoy those type of stories, like a lot. However, I felt a lot of confliction with this story due to the mother in this book. Our story follows an mc who can’t die and whose mother refuses to tell her the truth. I was really curious to see how this story was going to unfold. Honestly, I know why the mother acts the way she does, but I really didn’t like her and her behavior (no matter the circumstance) just painted her as a terrible person/neglectful parent. That aside, I did enjoy the story and I was invested to see how everything would unfold. However, I still have many questions and I’m still asking myself what the hell did I just read.

Eterno by J. C. Cervantes ⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Death, hospitalization, car crash, mentions of terminal illness, manipulation

Much like the story before this one, I was very conflicted on my thoughts of how I felt with this story. Again, this is another story that involves gods of death or grim reapers except this time they’re called eterno and things are anything but peaceful. Also, this short story is told in then and now flashes. Ultimately, I liked the story, but at times it felt like it was a lot of information to keep track of between flashbacks. Like, I was INVESTED in the mc and their romance! And then… it hit a point where my brain dumped all the information, my eyes glazed over, and my brain just goes, “Yup… Nope. Can’t keep up with this.”

White Water, Blue Ocean by Linda-Raquel-Nieves-Pérez ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Dead naming, misgendering

Okay, the concept of this story had me clutching my blanket because it was so good! A curse has been placed upon the Garcia family by an ocean goddess, making them unable to lie without emanating a terrible smell. We follow Gabriel, a non-binary teen returning to their family, who refuses to accept them for who they are. I was completely captivated by the whole element of everyone in this family being unable to lie. What I think I loved most about this story was the subtle bond between Gabriel and their father. It’s not a main focal point of this story, its very subtle, but its there and those moments were very wholesome. And the way Gabriel constantly keeps coming back to the ocean, their love for it radiating through the pages so much. It fills my heart with a lot of warmth.

Leyenda by Romina Garber ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Sexism

I want to state that I’m not fully sure if this short story has any relation to Lobizona, but there did seem to be hits towards it in some of the parts of this short story and it is set in the same world. So if you haven’t read Lobizona yet then you might want to skip this short story. Let’s talk water witches! Yes, the mc of this story is indeed a water witch. She is a force to be reckoned with and I absolutely adored her. She has no problem standing up for what she believes in, but when she does, there are those who are very displeased with her. I always enjoy the characters that Romina creates and the abilities given to those characters are always fascinating to watch unfold. If I’m being honest, anything Romina writes, I feel invested in. I wish we got the chance to see more of Zaybet and their story especially with the way this story concludes. I’m so invested and I need more!

Color-Coded by Maya Montayne ⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Abandonment

I was really interested in premise of this short story. In this world, when women hit puberty, they start to develop a magical abilities. Some ladies develop the power of flight, someone may set things on fire, or even obtain abilities relating to plants or creatures. However, our MC is terrified of this happening to her after having a terrible experience with a loved one. Honestly, I was really excited to see where this story would go. I think the premise of getting magical abilities when you reach maturity/puberty is a really interesting element to loop in. However, I wasn’t in love with this story. It feel like some things were missing and personally, I just didn’t like the MC. The MC spent large portions of this story whining, throwing fits, and due to that, it felt like a lot of excitement I had about the story ended up dying down a lot. And it doesn’t help that the MC’s mindset doesn’t start to change until near the end of this story.

Magical Offerings by Nina Moreno ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Displacement

I was pleasantly surprised and caught off guard by this story. This is story of a girl coming to terms with who she is, what her abilities are, and finding out the place you can call home has been right there all along. Honestly, I was really surprised on how much I enjoyed reading this. The atmosphere as it starts to build to the climax of this story was just chef’s kiss. I think the part I loved the most was watching the MC truly discover who they were and what they were capable of. Seeing the MC come to terms with that and how happy they felt was just one of the best elements of this story.

Rogue Enchantments by Isabel Ibañez ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Loss of a loved one, harassment

I’m so hyped to read more from this author! I loved so many elements about this book, the atmosphere, the brief mention of dragons, just so many things I fell in love with in this story. Our story follows an MC who just took over her abuelita’s stall to sell magical brushes and paints. However, since the start of their first day, things seem to be quite amiss from what they originally thought. With sabotage a foot, our MC has to get crafty to seek out the truth and put a stop to all of the harassment. Again, I loved this. It’s a very atmospheric read and I constantly wondered if the MC was going to get the justice they deserve.

Sumaiko Y La Sirena by Vita Ayala ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Mentions of slavery, loss of a loved one, hostage situation, manipulation, brief depictions of blood, death, murder

Who doesn’t love a good story about sirens? This story is sure to deliver a love story you won’t forget! This story was so sad, but so beautiful. And this is the first time I’ve seen sirens told in this way. I won’t spoil it for you, but it was really good, enough to make me go, “Damn! The plot thickens!” This stories follows our MC who once was a siren, but has been stranded on land. When one night, after singing to the ocean, another siren reveals themselves. But, after the MC’s father passes away, terrible things will begin to happen. This was such a captivating story. The atmosphere is so good with setting the tone especially in the more climatic scenes. However, I adored the connection between our MC and the siren she becomes close with. I loved the way their friendship built and way it slowly blossomed into something more.

“It is said that on clear nights, two glowing shapes shapes can be seen frolicking in its water, the laughing sound of their joyous song carried for miles on the wind.”

River People by Yamile Saied Méndez ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Loss of parents (in the past), grief

What an atmospheric read! I can’t decide what I enjoyed more; watching the story as a whole unfold or the MC blowing me out of the water. Truly, this was a really good read. We follow an MC who can talk to ghosts and not only ghosts, but can speak with the river god of the Paraná River. This gift comes in handy when one day the river god tells the MC that her older brother is in terrible danger. Thus, our heroic MC does everything she can to save her brother before it becomes too late. This was a really good short story. I was so sad when the story finally ended because I wanted more. This was such an easy story to get caught up in because the pacing starts of slow, but once the pace picks up, you’re just along for the ride and the ride is fantastic!

Moonglow by Sara Faring ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Mentions of sex, illness, abortion, abuse, physical violence

Let me just say that this story… this story was a wild ride and I’m still asking myself what the hell I read. I don’t know if I walked away from this story shell-shocked or in the midst of processing everything, but I sure wasn’t expecting the story to unfold that way it did. One of the key elements of this story is it’s told in diary entries which adds a bit of ominous atmosphere and leaves us, the reader, wondering what the next entry will hold. We follow an MC who talks about about her love and the things happening within her household, from the mischievous to the more unfortunate events. I was hooked, hanging off the edge of me seat waiting to know how this story was going to conclude. Though I haven’t read anything by this author before, this honestly has me excited to look into more of their writings.

Killing El Chivo by Claribel A. Orlega ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Mentions of loss of parents, brief mentions of starvation, mentions of abandonment, depictions of blood, death

Okay, this should come as no surprise by how much I adored this story. How each word had me hanging by a thread, wondering what was to come next. I love the way Orlega writes; the way she creates worlds and characters always has me excited. Okay, so maybe I was a little bias going into this, but truly, at the core of it, I do enjoy the stories this author writes. We follow an MC who is learning magic to help assist the remaining people of this world stop El Chivo. Many people have already left or have died, but our MC with her sister and aunt have devised a plan on how to put an end to all the tragedy that has been plaguing their homeland. I was fully captivated by this story and maybe it was how quickly the pace picked up, but oh, I couldn’t consume this story fast enough. I think my favorite part had to be the way it concluded. The ending just felt so powerful and after day of finishing this anthology, I still think about this ending relentlessly.

Tame the Wicked Night by Zoraida Córdova ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Minor war themes

Have I maybe, kind of, sort of fallen in love with this story because a mortal falls in love with a fallen goddess? – Yes, yes I have and I have zero regrets about this! I think I just loved everything about this story. From the MC who’s been gifted an ability with plants to the way the relationship blooms, thinking back on reading this story, I don’t have a single complaint. With my whole chest, I adored this story. We follow an MC who refuses to marry and choose to stay true to himself, and so he’s sent into the mountains to tame The Night. The Night is said to be a fierce beasts that takes no prisoners, and anyone who dare enter the mountain never returns. Yet what our MC finds is so much more than what they could have expected. And there’s a goat. A very charming, quirky goat with his own little attitude and little chime ins! I know I’ve said it a lot, but I really loved this short story and this is probably my first piece by this author that I’ve had the pleasure of reading. This has me excited to see what other pieces this author has created.


I gave Reclaim the Stars: 17 Tales Across Realms & Space four stars overall, because out of the possible 85 stars (5 stars being possible for all 17 stories) this anthology accumulated 71 stars (83%)!

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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ARC Reviews

Tiger Honor (Thousand Worlds, #2) by Yoon Ha Lee

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Arc was given by Disney Hyperion & NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

This review is being published after the release date (January 4th 2022)

🌠 Dragon Pearl ★★★★

Content/Trigger Warnings: Violence, severe injuries, talk of death, grief, mentions of abandonment (near end of book), hostage situation, attempted forced exorcism

“By the White Tiger of the West, I swear to serve the clan in all matters.”

Creature Factions:
✨ Dragons – Enormous, uses weather magic, can terraform planets
✨ Goblins – Ability of invisibility, mostly secret agents, can also summon food with their wands
✨ Ghosts – Spirits that have unfinished business, most likely haunting someone/something
✨ Tigers – Large in size, strong, fierce, feared by everyone, Sebin and their family
✨ Shamans – Healers, help ghosts crossover
✨ Humans – Like you and me
✨ Fox Spirits – Bad reputation, considered myths, extinct, Min and her family

Other Factions:
✨ Dragon Council – Galactic government
✨ Space Forces – Military, to protect the people and the different worlds
✨ Mercenaries & Pirates – Factions of all kinds trying to survive by whatever means

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it feels so good to be back in this world! I have missed this world dearly and I had been wondering where or more specifically who would come next in this series. I’m pleasantly surprised by the faction we got to follow and how everything seem to come full circle. Now, I’m just eagerly waiting to see what Yoon Ha Lee has in store for us next!

Our story follows Juhwang, Sebin, who’s been training to enter the Space Forces, in hopes of one day becoming a captain of their own ship like their uncle. In the midst of training and hoping to here back from the Spaces Forces, on whether or not they’ve been accepted into the program, tragedy strikes. Sebin is not only given the good news of being accepted into the program, but now their loyalty will be tested as their beloved uncle has committed treason, and is on the run.

“The White Tiger had told me, pay the price for breaking your oath, but pay it willingly.”

I love the themes we get to see so heavily engraved in this series. There is a strong, consistent theme of family and what it means to love your family so deeply, and at what lengths you’ll go to find out the truth of what’s happening with your family. Looking back on Dragon Pearl, we saw the main character go to great lengths to find out the truth about her brother. Now, we get to see our new character Sebin, not only seeking the truth, but having that inner struggle of loyalty to your family or doing the right thing to prevent others from getting hurt or potentially innocent lives being lost. And one of the most beautiful parts of this theme has been the character growth for the main characters. These family themes are not only consistent int he book, but they’re also key elements to watching the main character grow and come into their own.

Another favorite part of this book was seeing characters from Dragon Pearl return to this one. I loved seeing our favorite gumiho come back and I adored the way Sebin and Min clashed. One of my favorite things is seeing the “enemies to friends” relationship blossom and grow, and the author delivered. Its not a perfect friendship and there was a lot of miscommunication between the two of them, but it was wonderful to see them slowly come to understand one another and the hardships they both had to endure.

“It must be a hundred times worse to have to conceal something so fundamental about yourself.”

Also, I wanted to add a little side bit. I did this in Dragon Pearl and I really wanted to state it with this book as well. There’s a lot of Star Trek vibes throughout this entire book. Dragon Pearl had a lot of scenes where it felt like it may have been Star Wars inspired or even pulled inspiration from Mulan or Lilo & Stitch, but in this book, if you’re a Star Trek lover, this book feels like there’s a lot of inspiration pulled from it.

I think the most interesting part of this book was watching Sebin’s character development. We didn’t just see them come into a role of their own as a cadet, but we also see the conflicting feelings they have about many things relating to their uncle. Truly, I think one of the most beautiful things this book did was put an emphasis on how you can still love someone despite the bad things they’ve done, despite how imperfect they are, but still recognizing there’s a right and a wrong, and that its okay to have a lot of conflicting feelings about it as a whole.

“Losing him as a hero was more painful than an injury I had received.”

Of course, we see a lot of diversity throughout this book as well. There’s a few side characters who are non-binary, but our main character Sebin is also non-binary and uses they/them pronouns. We also have a side character who uses sign language. And speaking of disabilities, there’s a normalization of required sign language interpreters by the Space Forces, which I find isn’t often shown in books. It was handled in a very respectable way and I really appreciated that included aspect.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I feel like a power read this book so fast. That might be why I gave it four stars was from this book feeling short compared to the first book in the series. Either way, it was a fantastic read. I recommend this to anyone who’s a sci-fi lover for sure. I’m actually in the process of trying to get my significant other to read this series and they’re a die hard sci-fi lover. Anyway, I really enjoyed it and I think many readers will find themselves falling in love with this world all over again with this sequel!

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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Uncategorized

Paper Girl and the Knives that Made Her by Ari B. Cofer

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Arc was given by Central Avenue Publishing & NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

This review is being published before the release date (January 4th 2022)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Mental health conditions, suicide/suicidal ideation, self-harm, talk of depression, sexual assault, gun violence, violence against poc, brief mentions of body dysmorphia, brief mentions of drug and alcohol abuse, grief, loss of loved ones, heartbreak, talk of medication, trauma/PTSD, and much more!

“I hold my breath because I’m afraid of losing what’s left of you in an exhale.”

In a room full of books, this is one of the loudest books in that room. Truly, this book is filled with raw emotions, very dark topics, but so important. There aren’t enough enough words to say how emotional I felt reading this poetry collection and I truly believe, with my whole chest, that this is such an important read. We need more books with the voices of those and their own experiences because there is always someone out there who needs to hear those perspectives. And as someone who has gone through similar hardships, I really appreciated reading about another person’s experiences and being reminded that healing is never linear.

Some of my favorite poems include:
The fairytale becomes a memory
Sacrifices
What do you think the birds are saying when they sing?
Heavy
When it feels too much
The garden that bursts with wanting
Juxtapose
Welcome Home

Overall, I think anyone who picks this book up is in for an emotional ride, but a ride that is so heartbreakingly beautiful and important. Though I feel there’s so much I could say about this poetry collection, I feel I don’t need to say anything because this poetry collection speaks volumes for itself. And if you’re a poetry lover like myself, then I want to encourage you to add this one to your ‘to be read’ piles.

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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Uncategorized

The Cat Proposed by Dento Hayane

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ARC was given by NetGalley and LOVE x LOVE in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (February 23rd, 2021)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Suicidal ideation and mentions of attempted suicide

“That day… I took a story by the hand.”

It’s very easy for me to fall in love with a manga and The Cat Proposed is no exception! I fell head over heels in love with the manga. Despite the dark themes of this book, I really enjoyed my time reading it. I really wish we would see more of this book or see it turned into a series. I’ve always loved the lore and mythology of the bakeneko of Japanese culture and knowing this manga exists, ugh, it filled my heart with so much warmth and excitement.

“We may be completely different, but I still want you.”

Our story follows Souta Matoi, a company worker, who’s contemplating suicide because nothing has changed, his life seems to be stuck in a terrible loop. Living the same routine day in and day out, overworked by his company, a deep exhaustion has set into his bones and he desperately wants to make a change. Then one fateful night Souta decides to change the routine by going to a kōdan storytelling. And that’s when his whole world begins to change. Starting with meeting Kihachi, the kōdan storyteller.

I really loved the way the author portrayed Souta and Kihachi. Though they seem like absolute polar opposites of one another, the chemistry between them is perfection. Souta is very timid and bashful, has a hard time expressing how they feel, declaring what they want. Whereas Kihachi is the opposite. Not only is Kahachi a bakeneko, but he’s very upfront about what he wants and direct with how things will work between one another. Also, they’re both sensitive beings who care very deeply for others. They’re both the type of people who puts everyone before their needs. And they just balance each other out so well. There’s some really hilarious side characters we get to meet as well. Yamabuki is absolutely hilarious and I enjoyed the little pokes of fun he has with Kihachi. Also, he’s a lover of stories like Kihachi is and somehow, between all their banter, you can tell they’re long-time friends!

“The light in the darkness is twinkling beautifully.”

If you haven’t guessed already, this manga involves Japanese mythology and folklore. Bakeneko appear a lot throughout Japanese history and culture. From works of literature and landmarks all the way to famous legends, bakeneko have played a role in Japan’s mythology and folklore. Most commonly found within the Endo period, but don’t quote me on that since there’s a chance they appeared during the Kamakura period with the nekomata, since they’re so similar. But I really loved how the author took that mythology and knowledge to weave their own tale. I think the author did a fantastic job of bringing to life the world of bakeneko and finding a way to encourage the reader to learn more about this mythology.

While I know it’s a dark turn of things, I want to take a moment to pause and appreciate the way the author wrote about suicide in this book. I think the author did really well at talking about what it means to be suicidal, to have suicidal thoughts, and to feel such a bone deep exhaustion that’s almost suffocating. And on top of that, I love how the author made sure to show how one person can save us from and how important little acts of kindness, endearment can truly make a difference. I thought it was beautifully and respectfully written.

Overall, I just really loved this manga. I truly wish the author would consider turning this into a series because I have no doubt that I would purchase the whole series for my manga collection. I loved it so, so much! I adored the characters, I really wanted to see more of the bakeneko community and their world. There’s so much untapped potential with this one book and honestly, I want more. I’m excited to see what this author will do next and I’m so glad I got to read an arc of this manga early.

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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Uncategorized

Delicates (Sheets, #2) by Brenna Thummler

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ARC was provided by NetGalley and Oni Press in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (March 16, 2021)

👻 Sheets ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Bullying, toxic friendships, manipulations, talk of death, mentions of racism, loss of a parent (in the past), loss of a loved one (in the past), allusions to depression, grief, depictions of suicidal ideation

“Except there’s nothing more delicate than a life.”

Friends, this graphic novel knocked my socks off! I really liked Sheets, but this Delicates was a whole other level for me. This graphic novel hit home in so many ways and I ended up in my feels. Brenna Thummler always has an important message in their books and the one in this graphic novel is so damn important. I just really loved this graphic novel so, so much and if you haven’t started this series yet, please do!

Following the events that took place in Sheets, Marjorie, our laundromat girl who looks after the ghosts who live there, is back in an all new story about navigating friendships and what it to be a middle schooler who feels out of place. Also, we’re introduced to a new character, Eliza Duncan, an avid photographer who spends most of her time in the school’s dark room and ghost hunting for her next photograph. Eliza doesn’t have any friends and through that loneliness (as well as Wendall), we see Eliza’s story truly unfold.

I love the characters in this graphic novel. When Eliza’s character was introduced, I instantly wanted to know more about her, about the backstory, and why Eliza likes to ghost hunt. I think many readers are going to enjoy Eliza’s character and the way her storyline plays out. Of course, I love Wendall and Marjorie, and the friendship they share with one another. I love how it’s not a perfect friendship, that there’s bumps along the way, but I love how everything comes together with them. Also, I really enjoyed the intersecting storylines of Eliza and Marjorie. They have a really rough path, but the conclusion with them was really wonderful.

“Humans are delicate too. The teeniest mistake can ruin them, even if you do everything else right. Just because mistakes seem small and insignificant, doesn’t mean they are.”

Of course, I have to talk family dynamics. I feel that this is one aspect of this graphic novel series no one talks about a lot. Marjorie comes from a single parent household, a widowed father of two. In the first book we saw him struggle with grief and depression. Now in book two, we see the hardships of what it means to be a single parent and trying to start you life again after the loss of your partner. There’s also Eliza’s family, who’s far from perfect. We see Eliza’s parents struggle to find balance within their home life. From schedule struggles to trying to co-parent the best they can of three children, these two are tackling the hardships the best they can even if it does stir up some disagreements. I love family dynamics and I love family dynamics that show the more realistic side of what families go through instead of the typical “rainbows and sunshine” family trope.

As I mentioned above, this graphic novel deals a lot with mental health. I think many of us can remember a time in school where we experienced peer pressure, bullying, or maybe some of us felt like outcasts. And Thummler doesn’t hold back from when we’re going through those hardships. This opens up to the bigger discussion of suicide and how during this point in many teenagers lives, they feel like they’ve hit a rock bottom and find it impossible to get back up once they reach that point. For myself, reading this was really emotional because of the friends I’ve lost to suicide and from the low points I’ve reached in my past. And I truly believe this graphic novel is going to resonate with so many readers like it did with myself. Truly, this graphic novel is going to touch the hearts of so many readers.

“Life is a precious thing, dearie. It has skin that feels. And feet that can dance. And hearts that can love and be loved.”

Overall, I loved this graphic novel so much. I love how there’s so many important themes laced throughout this graphic novel, how many important discussions this will spark. Truly, this hits like a ton of bricks and so many readers will resonate with the messages in this book. And I just wanted to say that if you do feel like you’re in a dark place, please reach out to loved ones or reach out to the Suicide Prevention Hotline. Please know that I see you, that you are loved, and that I’m so glad that you’re here.

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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When Dogs Heal: Powerful Stories of People Living with HIV and the Dogs That Saved Them by Jesse Freidin, Robert Garofolo, Zach Stafford, & Christina Garofolo

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ARC was provided by NetGalley and Zest Books in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (March 2, 2021)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Mental health, homophobia, toxic relationships, addiction (drug abuse & alcoholism), depression, grief, mentions of suicidal ideation, trauam/PTSD, mentions of terminal illness (cancer), death, loss of a loved one, microaggressions, mentions of rape, mentions of assault, mentions of a forced outing

“What I’ve learned throughout my life is that while I struggle to feel loved and supported by the people around me, I can always rely on my dogs, no matter what.”

With my whole chest, I love this book so damn much! I’m a firm believer that there are some books that everyone needs to read at least once in their life. This is one of those books. All too often society doesn’t talk about mental health or certain illnesses because of the stigma around them. And all too often, that stigma can cause a one-sided perspective of them and the person who has to face these challenges every day. HIV and those who have HIV are no exception to these type of circumstances, but this book is so fantastic because it offers so many different perspectives, from a plethora of people who share their own stories. I can’t express the importance this book holds and how much I wish I could put this book in everyone’s hands.

This book is a collection of stories with a photo of a person(s) and their dog(s), and their story. Each story is centered around their story with HIV and how their canine companions help them heal, and improving their life despite the challenges happening to them. Throughout the book you’ll meet a plethora of diverse people who are trans, do drag, queer, BIPOC, and so much more. You’ll learn about their background and the most common theme is the rejection of one’s family and loved ones, addiction, and facing the struggles of mental health from all the stigma surrounding HIV.

This is probably the most emotional book I’ve read in a very long time. You know I love my books that make me cry and steal my soul away, and this book succeeds at that. This book is so heart breakingly beautiful and it shines a light on the importance of fighting back against the stigmatism surrounding HIV. As someone who faces stigmatism around certain mental health challenges, this book hit so close to home on how hard it is to keep going despite the stigma, despite feeling like you don’t have the support you need, and this book melted me into a puddle. And while I don’t have HIV, one of my good friends passed away from having HIV and seeing the hardships they faced, reading this book just hit so close to home in so many ways. I think that’s why I loved it so much because I love books that touch that part of my soul.

“I am not a bad person – you don’t get HIV because you’re a bad person. You can be a good person, an educated person, and get HIV. We have to get past the stigma – that is the reason people don’t get tested and are not honest about their status.”

I think the thing I love most about this whole book is the hopefulness and the reflection on the benefits, emotional and physical, that pets have on people. I loved that despite the hardships all these people face, there’s always a feeling of hopefulness, of love, and seeing the silver-lining. And I think with everything combined, the good and the bad, readers will be able to connect with the people within this book.

Overall, I don’t want to say too much about this book because I want to encourage you to go pick this book up and read it. I believe with my whole heart that everyone needs to read this book at least once in their life because this book is too important not to. Even though I read and finished this in 2020, this is book has made it onto my top books of 2021 because it truly is a master piece and I just love it so, so much!

“I know that without him I wouldn’t be alive, and without me he wouldn’t either. We saved each other.”

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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When Sharks Attack with Kindness by Andres J. Colmenares

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ARC was provided by NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (March 2, 2021)

This was absolutely precious! With the way 2020 has been going, this is the book to make things just a little bit brighter. Truly, this is so precious and there’s some really hilarious moments. Let me be the first to say that everyone needs to check this graphic novel out as soon as it releases.

From really cute panels to friendships that will warm you heart, this is a graphic novel that will steal your heart. The characters are super cute and the dedication page was so wholesome. This is one of those graphic novels that poke you right in your heart and make you cherish the the friendships you have. Also, I know many readers will probably get this graphic novel for the children in their lives, but let another adult tell you that you need this book as much as children do. It’s just a precious gem of a book that many book lovers are going to fall in love with.

The only thing I think readers might have an issue with is thinking this is going to be a graphic novel with a continuous story. That’s not the case at all with this book. This is a graphic novel that’s designed to make you feel good, feel happy, and pick up the phone and call your friends. That’s the kind of book this is. For me, this wasn’t an issue because this was something I needed. I needed a feel good book to come into my life and wrap me in love, and that’s exactly what this book does.

Overall, I loved this graphic novel so gosh darn much! It’s so wholesome, the feel good book we all need, and just a fantastic pick me up. I highly recommend this to everyone, literally everyone! I think we all need a feel-good book that washes us in warm, fuzzy feelings. And if I could put this in everyone’s hand right now, I would.

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I Must Belong Somewhere by Dawn Lanuza

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ARC was provided by NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (January 5th, 2021)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Death, suicide ideation, violence, bullying, graphic injuries, self-harm, body shaming, sexism, mental health/illness, toxic relationships, abandonment, depression, anxiety

“I must find a way to still choose myself despite holding on to you.”

I’m a firm believer that poetry, literature, and a plethora of other things can come into our lives when we need them the most. If I’m being honest, if this didn’t come into my life right now, I probably wouldn’t have given this as high of a rating as I have. Modern poetry and prose is something I have to be in a particular mind set or in a certain part of my life where I feel like it’ll be helpful to read. And reading this book right now, it has been a blessing.

This was such a well written collection that’s beautiful, and at times very heart breaking. I loved how every thing flowed and nothing seemed out of place. Everything was connected to one another whether it was a poem or prose. I think that’s one of the hardest parts modern poetry face, making everything flow together, but this author did a wonderful job of accomplishing that. And really loved that despite some of the hard themes throughout this book, there’s an optimistic feeling at the end. It was such a great way to end the book.

My most favorite thing of this whole book was the content and trigger warnings at the very start of this. I say this every time, authors should include these in their books and when the do, damn it’s the best feeling. Seeing an author take the time to add these at the beginning of their book, it’s like a little pat from the author saying, “I see you and I acknowledge your mental health.” It’s just a really great way for authors to show they care about their readers.

“I grew wings, but sometimes in between, I think I left my heart where you’ve been.”

Overall, I think this was a well-written book that many readers are going to connect with. I think many readers will find validation in their feelings or find a way to heal with this book. For me, with my whole chest, I believe this book came into my life when I needed it the most and that left a big impression with me.

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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The Fangirl’s Guide to the Universe by Sam Maggs

ARC was provided by NetGalley and Quirk Books in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published after the release date (October 27th, 2020)

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Talk of harassment, talk of sexual harassment, talk of cyber bullying, talk of misogyn, themes of misandry

I’ll be honest, I’ve been dreading writing this review and have been putting this off for far too long. I really wanted to love this book and there were some things that I found really helpful, informative even, especially because I’ve been in various nerdy communities for such a long time, but I find that my opinion is going to be of the minority when it comes to this book. So take my review with a grain of salt. However, if you’re a reader who’s looking for some opposing thoughts on a lot of the content that’s talked about in this book then I can’t recommend enough checking out these following videos: HERE, HERE, and if you’re looking for statics about online harassment then I recommend checking this article out!

Let me take a moment to talk about the good of this book. This book is true to what it is; a guide book, a self-help book, however you want to view it. I really loved how this book talked about the different types of conventions, navigating the conventions, budgeting and expenses, and even things to pack. Despite the fact that I’ve gone to various conventions, events, etc… for almost fourteen years, I still find this kind of information helpful and good for referencing. There’s even an ‘after the convention’ list that I would’ve loved to have had after all of these years. There’s also interviews in this book with various women in the industry who have worked on a plethora of nerdy, geeky things such as anime, DC and Marvel, etc… that I enjoyed reading, despite the repetitiveness and the awkwardness of some of the interviews. Also, this is a super quick read and most sections are very brief, easy to fly through.

Despite the few good things I found within this book, they weren’t enough to prevent the issues I had with a lot of the content within this book. One of the biggest things being the continued theme of misandry throughout this book. This is a huge issue for me especially when no one wants to talk about how this book is set up to convince you men are terrible and do nothing but terrible things. Throughout this book, the author continuously references how we’re all in this community together, how we’re supposed to be supportive of one another, no matter the gender, for about one to two pages, and then will spend the next three or four pages talking about how horrible men are and how their actions are always terrible towards women in nerdy communities. There’s actually a whole entire section based around ‘internet trolls’ that’s based in the context of assuming they’re all male. Even when the author talks about sexual harassment and assault in the cosplaying community, it’s always in the context of a man doing these actions. I can’t speak for everyone in the community, but basing my opinion on my own experiences and things I have witnessed as a cosplayer and LARPer, I’ve experienced and witnessed more female/female and male/male harassment and sexual assault than I have any situations that are male/female related. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen, but what I’m saying is we need to make sure we’re accurately talking about what really happens instead of assuming/creating a certain narrative to fit our own views. And when you continuously place these narratives of one side being innocent/good and the other being guilty/evil, then you’re continuing to cause rifts and issues within communities instead of helping it grow and make it a more positive community to be in.

Overall, this book was exhausting to read and writing this review has been something I’ve been dreading for a long time now, for a plethora of reasons. I don’t have the energy or time to list the multiple references to a lot of the things that were inaccurately talked about throughout this book (do your own research, listen to those who talk about the facts), point out every little thing that was wrong with this book, or even try to continuously explain to people how misandry is just as bad as misogyny no matter what community it is. If you can’t see the problematic issues within this book then I don’t know what else to say expect to check out the links I provided up above if you want to hear opposing opinions about a lot of the things that were talked about in this book. I wish so many things would have been handled in a different light especially since this is an introductory book, a guide/self help book and I know there are going to be young readers who will pick this book up and be influenced by this book. With the knowledge and experience I have, I can’t recommend this book because of the narrative this book takes on and I can’t support a book that inaccurately talks about a plethora of things.

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