Manga Review: HELL’S PARADISE: JIGOKURAKU (Full Series) by Yuji Kaku (2018-2021)

Genre: Dark Fantasy Shonen
Year Release in English: 2018-2021
Source: Viz Media Digital Subscription

Reminder: The star rating reflects overall opinion of the series.

In this historical dark fantasy, there are rumors of an island containing the elixir of life. Every scouting team sent, however, returns as floral corpses. The Shogunate dispatches a group of their own executioners coupled with a convict sentenced to death. The one who finds and returns the elixir will be given a pardon. Gabimaru the Hollow wants nothing more than to return to his wife. A bunch of monsters both literal and human will not be able to stop him.

A series with beautiful art, compelling characters, body horror galore, and impressive escalation that raises the stakes without introducing nonsense out of left field.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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December 2021 Reading Recap

December went by like a flash. I attended Dis Con III, visited my family for Christmas, and write you from Chicago. Please enjoy this final reading recap of 2021. What a year it’s been.

Tomorrow, we have my annual recap coming up. I hope you’re excited.

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Manga Review: DAI DARK Vol. 3 by Q Hayashida (2021)

Genre: Science fiction horror comedy shonen
Year Release in English: 2021
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

Reminder: The star rating reflects overall opinion of the series.

See my review of volumes 1 and 2 here. My lord, does this series continue to be grisly fun where not everyone can be trusted as far as you can throw them.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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Manga Review: CAN’T STOP CURSING YOU Vol. 2 by Kensuke Koba & Natsuko Uruma (2021)

Genre: Horror Shonen
Year Release in English: 2021
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content warnings: Self-harm, gore, murder

Now that Volume 1 introduced this strange world of curse killers and curse gods, Volume 2 focuses on a specific killer to stop, while introducing a network of antagonists: Cursed Blood.

I really liked the villain here, Yami Akeno. The journey we go on with her descent into villainy really worked for me. Her motives are quite clear, her execution (both metaphorical and literal) are quite chilling. But what really keeps me invested is how Curse Breaker Saeyama keeps both his colleagues and the villain on their toes, keeping his hand close. There’s not enough established yet to have the reader figure out what’s truly at play, but it’s a fun ride and I’ll definitely keep reading.

November 2021 Reading Recap

November featured not as much reading as I’m used to. That’s because I finished my rewrite as my NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) project, rather than writing the requisite 50,000 words. I did it! I completed the rewrite, and it is now sitting in beta readers’ inboxes. The work took a lot out of me, so much so that I’m still feeling vaguely hungover.

December will feature some more things. But also, what do you mean it’s December already?

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October 2021 Reading Recap

October went by quickly. I had the opportunity to go to Sirens Conference where I was on a panel about nonbinary representation in science fiction and fantasy. I also had a hard time reading this month, which was unfortunate, but I did enjoy the books, ARCs, and manga I did manage to read.

I also did three excellent blog interviews:

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Manga Review: HAPPINESS Vol 1-10 by Shūzō Oshimi

Genre: Horror Shonen
Year Release in English: 2015-2019
Source: Azuki Manga Cafe

Sometimes you start reading a series and next thing you know, you’re several chapters in and deeply invested in the plight of the characters. Volumes don’t matter. What is structure anyway? So this review of an entire manga will be slightly different in that I will be talking about the series overall rather reviewing each individual volume.

In short, this vampire horror filled with emotions and the centering of childhood upended by supernatural happenings reminiscent of Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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August and September 2021 Reading Recap

August and September were two months I can only describe as liminal spaces. Long story short, we moved into one apartment, and then transferred to another apartment. I didn’t feel like doing an August recap without having settled in. So here we are. I’ve also been busy otherwise.

I did several author interviews (and there are so many more to come):

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Manga Review: MONSTER AND THE BEAST Vol. 1-3 (2019-2020) by renji

Genre: Fantasy Shonen
Year Release in English: 2019-2020
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

Reminder: The star rating reflects overall opinion of the series.

The letter from the author at the end of volume one says, “I wanted to read a boy’s love fantasy manga about a middle-aged guy and an inhuman creature, but that didn’t exist, so I made my own.” It is the most accurate description of Monster and the Beast. Cavo is a gentle-hearted big scary boi while Liam is a gentlemen who fucks and has a sordid past for unrelated reasons. Perfect for the monster fuckers.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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July 2021 Reading Recap

What even was July? It was my last month in Chicago, I moved to Texas (am still moving in Texas, no, I won’t be getting into more specific details). Reading was a bit fraught. I had lofty goals, like reading everything I borrowed from the library (didn’t happen). But I did enjoy a bunch of what I read, which is always a blessing.

I had two authors interviews on my blog for their debut works. First, horror YA writer Ryan Douglass talked about his debut, The Taking of Jake Livingston, and short story writer Charles Payseur told us a bit about his process of putting a short story collection, The Burning Day and Other Strange Stories.

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