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review 2017-11-22 08:21
Fence (Issue #1) by C.S. Pacat; Illustrated by Johanna the Mad
Fence #1 - C.S. Pacat,Johanna Lindsey Fence #1 - C.S. Pacat,Johanna Lindsey

As you know (if you've been following my reviews for a while now), I am a huge fan of C.S. Pacat. I love her Captive Prince trilogy. Those are some of my favorite books of all time and since I've read them, I've decided that I will read everything else she has ever written in whatever form of media she chooses. So when I heard she was creating a comic about queer fencers, I pre-ordered my copy right there and then. When I discovered Johanna the Mad was the artist for this comic, I jumped for joy! Johanna is known in the fandom world for her many contributions to various different anime and manga. Basically, these two are a force to be reckon with and I was so excited to read their work.

 

Well, FENCE does not disappoint. I can't talk about it too much since it is the very first issue of the comic, but I will say this comic is everything I've hoped for. It's everything I love about sports anime, from the love of the sport to the rivalries to the ambition of always striving to do better! It's incredible! Plus, it's about a sport I know very little about: fencing. I love that the reader will not only be invested in the characters and their struggles, but they will also learn about fencing as a sport. I'm curious to learn more about fencing and seeing how the characters develop their skills. 

 

Speaking of characters, we are introduced to the main two. Nicholas Cox and Seiji Katayama. Nicholas is a character who grew up in poverty, is a bit of a loner, and has an attitude but loves fencing. Seiji seems to be someone who has it all and is a bit full of it because of his talent. These two, naturally, butt heads and a rivalry ensues. I can tell these two are going to have quite the relationship. >:3 

 

The artwork adds to the enjoyment of the story. It's so gorgeous and stunning! Johanna has done an amazing job at bringing these characters to life. Both C.S. Pacat and Johanna the Mad have worked really hard to bring this comic to life and it shows.

 

If you are a fan of any of these ladies, if you love their work, if you love sports anime, if you love queer content, then I highly recommend you check this comic out. It's such an amazing first issue and I am so looking forward to reading the other issues as they are released!

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review 2017-05-22 16:47
One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva
One Man Guy - Michael Barakiva

I'm always on the lookout for cute LGBTQIAP+ books to read. I heard about One Man Guy a couple of years back but never got around to reading it. When my partner read it and told me that it was a cute read, I went looking for it at my library. I found it, read it, and agree. It is a cute book. However, I do have my problems with it.

 

The first being the writing. I am not in love with this writing style. It's almost too simplistic. To the point where I feel some sentences don't make sense. One sentence in chapter four reads, "He cheated his eyes open a sliver." Reading that is awkward. It doesn't flow well and you feel you need to reread it to make sure you didn't read it wrong. Barakiva did a great job in telling a coming-of-age story about an Armenian teenager discovering himself and his sexuality and I loved learning more about Armenian culture. but his writing style I just could not get behind. 

 

Another thing I had a problem with are the characters. Not so much the main character, Alek. He was sweet, kind, moral, and understanding. I liked him. But the object of his affection, Ethan, is another matter entirely. I didn't see the appeal to him. Seeing as how Alek liked him so much, I wanted to like him, too. And there were some things he did that I just was not a fan of. The way he talked about gay culture was a part of it. His use of the F-word rubbed me the wrong way. He said that if you're a part of that culture, it's okay to use such a word. And, yeah, okay, I get it, but I haven't met many people in the gay community who uses that word as if it were nothing. So it bothered me a bit. Another thing that upset me about Ethan was how he explained it's quite common for gay men to experiment with more than one person, even when they are already in a committed relationship. No. Just no. That's a harmful stereotype that's been perpetuated by our society. To say that gay men CHEAT on their partners is not only wrong but harmful. There are many gay couples who are in committed relationships and DON'T CHEAT ON EACH OTHER. As I've said in other reviews before, if you're in a polyamorous relationship, then it's fine if both partners involved are okay with having other partners. It's NOT okay to lump in every gay couple into being "experimental" with other partners without the other's consent! I did not like that Ethan was teaching Alek this terrible stigma about the gay community. And the last problem I had with Ethan was how misogynistic he was. He made comments when Alek didn't want to do something, he was acting like a girl. I didn't like how he treated Becky, Alek's best friend who is pretty awesome by the way, and thought of her immediately as "lesser" because she was a girl. It took her having to "prove herself" in order for him to show her respect. Just everything about his character was disgusting and I just didn't understand why Alek liked him so much.

 

An aspect that I did like about the book was getting to learn so much about Armenian culture. Especially the food! The food in this book sounds delicious. I've never had Armenian food before but I want to have some now! It was also interesting learning about the Armenian Genocide that happened in Turkey. That is a part of history I am not aware of. It was never taught to us in school, but I'm glad I know about it now. I love learning about history. Especially history that is different from my own culture.

 

Another aspect that bothered me, though, were how Alek's parents were. Oh, the hypocrisy with those two. And the fact that they complained about any little thing to the point where they didn't even want to drink water out of a plastic bottle, I was about to flip. Good thing they eased a tiny bit up towards the end. People like them upset me. DX

 

In short, I thought this book was good. I would recommend it to people who want to learn more about Armenian culture and food, who want to read a cute coming out story, and want a pretty quick read. Keep in mind that there are some homophobic slurs and racism towards Turkish people. These things are questioned and rebuked within the text and shows how it's not okay to do those things. The only thing not ever questioned is the sexism, which is a shame. Other than that, it's a good read so give it a shot if you're curious.

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review 2017-05-21 06:29
Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening by Marjorie M. Liu (Writer) and Sana Takeda (Artist)
Monstress Volume 1: Awakening - Marjorie M. Liu

So many people have been talking and raving about Monstress. I've heard so many good things about this comic that I immediately placed an order at my library so I could read it ASAP! ...only to wait for months and still not have them contact me to let me know when the comic will be in... only to find it on the shelves as if no one placed a hold on it at all! Ugh... no. No. It's fine. I'm not bitter. (I'm a little bit bitter.) Well, I finally was able to read it and I must say it is well worth the hype.

 

I almost don't want to tell you anything about it. I went in blind and I think that's the best way to go into it. You will appreciate the world more and the characters more. In this world there are humans, monsters, and half-breeds. Throughout the entire comic, you're able to see the mistreatment monsters receive for being "other" and how they're a people being oppressed. I love that this comic touches on inequality, racism, sexism, etc. I love that it's so expressive in the art and story! I will not tell you any more of the story because you HAVE to read it for yourself to fully enjoy it.

 

The artwork, however, I will talk about. Sana Takeda is incredibly talented. The art in this comic is one of the best artwork I have ever seen in any given comic. I am blown away by how stunning it is! It's detailed down to the very last lead in the forest scenes in this book. The colors are breathtaking! It's such a beautiful color palette with browns and greens and golds to match the "earthy" feeling to the story. I could go on and on about the art in this comic. It's just so beautiful!

 

And the characters are great. The main character is Maika Halfwolf. She is bold, strong, a bit sassy, and loyal. She is not without flaws. She tends to be a longer and can be a bit stand-offish but, considering her circumstances, I don't blame her. She is a wonderful character that I cannot wait to get to know. There's also my favorite character, Ren. He's an intelligent, magical, smart-mouth, talking cat. Yes, a talking cat, and I love him. He serves as a guide for Maika and what she can do in order to save herself and her world. I adore him so much and many of the ladies in this comic/  There are so many strong female-characters and they are strong not because they are cruel, but because they have their own goals and ideas and they will fight until they see those goals become a reality. I really enjoyed seeing these women shown to be in leadership roles without falling into the "cruel woman" trope.

 

I highly, highly recommend this comic. If you like strong female leads, action, adventure, magic, and talking cats, then I highly recommend you read this comic. There is swearing, violence, gore, and talk of sexual abuse so keep that in mind when picking this up. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy reading this comic. I had quite a fun time being in this world for a while~

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review 2017-05-16 19:09
The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere by John Chu
The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere - John Chu

This year I wanted to change a few thing about my reading habits. I have always read a ton of books but not much else. Well, if you've been following me for some time now, you may have noticed I started reading more graphic novels, manga, and non-fiction books. Along with them, I've also wanted to read a few more short stories and I've read a couple that were part of series I was reading, but never a stand-alone short story. Well, today I've decided to change that! I decided to read The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere by John Chu. It's a short story that got a lot of buzz a few years back during the 2014 Hugo Awards and I wanted to see what the story was all about.

 

The story follows Matt, a Chinese biotech engineer, who lives in a world where if you lie, copious amounts of water rains down upon you. In this rain-filled world, Matt must spend a Christmas celebration with his family and work up the nerve to tell them he and his lover, Gus, plan on getting married. However, things become more complicated when his sister gets involved and refuses to let Matt have the chance to come out to his family. It's a hard-hitting tale most queer people must overcome with sci-fi elements thrown in.

 

I really enjoyed this story. John Chu has a very straightforward writing style. What I enjoyed most about it is how he incorporates his own language into the story. I don't read or understand Chinese, be it Mandarin or Cantonese, but I loved seeing Chu's language throughout the story. And he uses the language unapologetically. Mind you, he doesn't leave the reader hanging. You can figure out what the characters are saying either by the author giving you the translation right after the Chinese, or with enough context clues. I'm glad he decided to write his story in such a way.

 

The characters are all beautifully developed, complex characters! Matt is struggling with who he is as a person and not wanting to disappoint his family. He also is having a hard time admitting what he feels because of years of shame and guilt. His lover, Gus, is so loving and supportive but he, too, has his limits. He loves Matt and will do anything for him but also knows when he needs to give space to the one he loves. Matt's family also have many layers to them. I love Matt's mother so much for reasons I cannot describe because it's a HUGE spoiler to the short story but she is amazing! Michele, Matt's sister, is the only one that seems to have a problem with Matt being gay. It's mentioned multiple times throughout the story that she treats him poorly because she loves him and only wants what's best for him. But from the reader's point of view, she is selfish, cruel, and close-minded. One message that I took away from this short story is that, yes, you can love your family but if they are causing you harm, then a bit of separation is healthy for everyone involved. I love this short story.

 

If you love reading short stories about coming-of-age LGBTQIAP+/racially diverse characters with a sci-fi twist, then I highly recommend you give this one a read. The only downside to this story is that I, ironically, found it to be too short. If there were about five to six more paragraphs showing what happened after the last event, then I think it would have been a solid short story. As it is, it's a good story with a bit of an abrupt end. Still, I do recommend this short story. It's such a beautifully told tale about two men in love and the obstacles they must face just to be together.

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review 2017-04-19 17:04
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda - Becky Albertalli

This has been a book I've been meaning to read since its publication date. So many people have talked about how it's such an amazing book about LGBTQIAP+ characters and their struggles being in a high school environment. And I've wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Well, I finally read it and I have to say that it is a very good book indeed!

 

The writing is so refreshing. Albertalli writes in a way that most teens write/talk. I enjoyed her writing style quite a bit. It's a fun style. It's easy to read through. In fact, I read this book in one sitting. I don't think it's anything mind-blowing, but that's not what Albertalli was aiming for. She was trying to capture the essence of what it is to be a teenager and I think she succeeded fairly well. My one complaint about her writing was whenever she talked about Tumblr. If you have a Tumblr, you know that it's main focus/use is for people to connect with their fandoms. However, within the story, Albertalli uses it more as a tool for gossip... which is an aspect that is used on FaceBook, not Tumblr. Also, Tumblr users don't tend to say "I saw it on the Tumblr." We just say Tumblr. It came off as someone who has heard of Tumblr but never really used it. You know "trying to be hip with the kids" and all that. It was not necessary and felt completely forced.

 

The story itself is quite entertaining. Simon, main character, is closeted and talks to this other boy, nicknamed Blue, about what he's feeling and going through as a gay teen. However, another boy, Martin, finds out about Simon being gay and uses it to blackmail Simon into helping him woo Simon's friend, Abby, and the story goes on from there. It's filled with drama, rivalries, angst, and the like. It's a great contemporary novel about high school life and struggling with sexuality. I also love this novel for not being completely bleak either. That's not to say Simon doesn't deal with some turmoil; there's a bit of that, too. But I like that it's not all tragic. I am sick and tired of reading LGBTQIAP+ fiction and it always ending in tragedies. Queer people are not tragedies waiting to have for heterosexuals entertainment. And I feel that this book understood that and actually gave hope and happiness for the characters, which is something I appreciate tremendously.

 

Now let's talk about the characters! Simon is our lead and he's trying to figure out who he is whilst trying not to change in a constantly changing world. I like him. He's fun and energetic if a bit stupid. No, seriously... he's dumb. Throughout the entire novel, he was trying to figure out the true identity of Blue and it took him until the end of the book to figure it out. The reader is able to figure it out before the half-way mark of the novel so it was just his own stupidity, really, that he couldn't figure it out. Also, there's a thing that happens in the end that involves a T-shirt that I couldn't help but roll my eyes at. I mean, really, Simon? You didn't check the bloody shirt for two weeks? If you read the book, you know what I mean. Anyway, he's a good kid. He's just a little dumb.

 

Martin is a douche. He does so many unspeakable things for no other reason than jealousy. He's a very shallow character who is self-entitled and annoys the crap out of me. Abby is cool. She's a character that was very sweet and loving and I adore how she doesn't judge anyone. She is my favorite character by far. Leah is Simon's other friend and I love that she likes anime/manga. The one thing about her character that I don't like was how she was always treating Abby so coldly because, you guessed it, of jealously. Why is it that female characters can't be friends with each other? And yeah, there are other female characters in the book that are awesome, too, but the main ones are Abby and Leah, and Leah spends the entire book hating on Abby. This trend where females are always at each other's throats because of some GUY really needs to end. Women are more than bratty, bitchy characters fighting over men. Please write better female characters! DX

 

Overall, I did enjoy this book. I had problems with how Simon acted and how the women were sometimes portrayed, but other than that, it was a fun book. I love how Albertalli called out how wrong it is for people to consider being white and straight as the default to all. She did have interracial couples within the book and she had more than two gay characters. So it's a pretty solid read despite what I stated previously. I do see potential for this author to grow and be even more inclusive. So if you're looking for a fun light read about teenagers in high school, then give this a shot. I think you might like it.

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