spindizzy: Taiga staring over her newspaper (*reads suspiciously*)
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  1. 2018 round-up [Jump]

  2. Carnacki the Ghost Finder by William Hope Hodgson [Jump]

  3. In/Spectre Volumes 1-6 by Kyo Shirodaira and Chashiba Katase [Jump]

  4. The City Never Sleeps by Andi Watson [Jump]

  5. Sweet Blue Flowers Omnibus 1 and 2 by Takako Shimura [Jump]

  6. Rock Steady by Ellen Forney [Jump]

  7. My Solo Exchange Diary Volume 2 by Nagata Kabi [Jump]

  8. Contract of Cherry Blossom Guilt by Fuyuki Furo [Jump]

Cover of A City Inside Cover of Wotakoi Omnibus 1 Cover of The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House

1. 2018 round up [Top]
I did a bunch of rereads to write my reviews in January and February, and I don’t think you all need me to review them twice that close together, so I’m just going to put the links here for completeness’ sake!

A City Inside by Tillie Walden, No. 6 Volumes 1-9 by Atsuko Asano and Hinoki Kino, Fate/Zero 1 by Shinjiro, Wotakoi Omnibus 1 by Fujita, Horimiya Volume 1 by Hero and Daisuke Hagiwara, The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House by Audre Lorde

2. Carnacki the Ghost Finder by William Hope Hodgson [Top]
I’ll be honest: I picked this up partly because supernatural mysteries are apparently where I live right now, but also partly as reference for a tabletop RPG I’m in. (Yes, this is the sort of nerd I am; I read Edwardian pulp mysteries as homework for RPGs.) And I was actually pleasantly surprised! I found some of the mysteries to be genuinely unsettling, which I wasn’t expecting! I was expecting more stories like The Whistling Room, which is just surreal to the point of ridiculousness. But no, there’s a good mix of stories that have a supernatural solution, stories that don’t, and stories that combine the two in novel ways that I hadn’t expected. And it’s not that the presence or absence of the supernatural changes the actual tension of the story, it’s just interesting to see the different ways that tension is created and diffused based on whether the story actually has ghosts or not.

I was somewhat thrown by the narration though, because it’s technically written in the third person, in that the story is being narrated by Carnacki to his dinner guests, but honestly you could remove the speech marks and about three sentences of framing and have a perfectly serviceable first-person story. … 1913 was a strange time. Especially because the narrative does the Sherlock Holmes thing of casually referring to other (non-existent) cases, or to things like magic rituals as though they’re common knowledge, even when you know for a fact that they’re not. (He created something he calls an electric pentacle and that is simultaneously adorable and ridiculous.)

But yes, I enjoyed Carnacki the Ghost-Finder a lot more than I thought I was going to! Of all of the turn of the century ghost stories I read at the start of the year, this was the one I enjoyed most!

[Caution warning: animal death, reference to torture, standard problems of pulp literature from the early 20th Century]

Cover of In/Spectre Volume 1 Cover of In/Spectre Volume 2 Cover of The City Never Sleeps

3. In/Spectre Volumes 1-6 by Kyo Shirodaira and Chashiba Katase [Top]
Just hypothetically, how many words of griping about not being able to put down a series when it wasn't meeting your expectations is too many? If the answer is over a thousand, uh... I might have a problem? The tl;dr version is that there were so many things about this series that bugged me (the male gaze, the central relationship, the weird pacing issues...), and yet I couldn't stop reading it. I'm so grumpy about this, and the full review will be up in a bit.

4. The City Never Sleeps by Andi Watson [Top]
Oh my darlings, I was not feeling this at all. It’s a tiny graphic novel anthology – and I mean tiny, it’s maybe twelve pages – and the quality is... Variable. The title story was fine, capturing the bustle and busyness of a city and giving it the slightly surreal twist of a city with insomnia, but the rest... Didn’t thrill me. The stand-out in terms of dislike was one called “The Killer Inside Me.” where I understood it, but I still didn’t think it was as shocking or dramatic as it was trying to be; the other two were mostly forgettable. The art style is kinda interesting – very chunkily sketchy and static, so not really my thing, but visually distinctive! I just... Don’t care about the stories or didn’t like them. It might be a good collection for other people, but it wasn’t for me.

Cover of Sweet Blue Flowers Volume 1 Cover of Sweet Blue Flowers Volume 2 Cover of Rock Steady

5. Sweet Blue Flowers Omnibus 1 and 2 by Takako Shimura [Top]
I reviewed Sweet Blue Flowers volume one and volume two for The Lesbrary! It is a sweet high school drama about queer school girls negotiating friendship and relationships, and it's beautifully drawn. There's some stuff that I raise my eyebrows at, but for the most part it's pretty good!

[Caution warnings: outing, incest, sexual harassment]

6. Rock Steady by Ellen Forney [Top]
I read Ellen Forney’s graphic memoir, Marbles, a few years ago, and thought it was fascinating; it documented her initial diagnosis with and attempts to manage bipolar disorder. Rock Steady is her follow-up, where she gives advice on how to remain stable and manage your mental illness after the diagnosis.

It’s pretty good! Some of the advice is specifically aimed at people with bipolar disorder and/or people in America (like “How do I get treatment without any insurance?”), but for the most part it’s general enough that anyone can use it. It walks through the basics of how to get treated and what to expect with doctors/therapists, and has advice on how to do things like remember to take your meds every day, how to stop crying or cry in a less noticeable way, how to cope with insomnia... Some of it was stuff that I’d already figured out the hard way, some of it was new, some of it was stuff that I side-eyed a little (it’s an automatic reaction to ~practice mindfulness~ and ~exercise~, even though the author does acknowledge that), and some of it was really practical or basic, so it might be good for it you’re still reckoning with a new diagnosis and want to see how that works for you. (There are CITATIONS and MULTIPLE TREATMENT TYPES DISCUSSED and acknowledgement that the more marginalised identities you have the harder it will be! I don’t remember the last time I saw a book on mental illness that acknowledged that.) The art is cartoony and does a good job of breaking up the heavier chunks of information, although I could see how the merit badge section at the end of each chapter could come across as twee if you aren’t in the mood for it.

Seriously though, I got Rock Steady out of the library, and I honestly wanted to fill it with post-its for the next person so that I could tell them that things worked. I felt seen and understood, even it did forcibly beat me over the head with the realisation that I too can only manage my mental illness with sufficient meds and sleep.

Cover of My Solo Exchange Diary Volume 2 Contract of Cherry Blossom Guilt

7. My Solo Exchange Diary Volume 2 by Nagata Kabi [Top]
I reviewed My Solo Exchange Diary Volume 2 for The Lesbrary and unsurprisingly, it's harrowing and relatable and a great autobiography about the creator's relationship with her family, independence, and her mental health. If you liked Nagata Kabi's other works, it's definitely worth picking up, just make sure that you're braced for it.

[Caution warning: alcoholism, depression, hospitalisation, self-harm, suicide attempt]

8. Contract of Cherry Blossom Guilt by Fuyuki Furo [Top]
I have no idea how to actually summarise this beyond "Someone actually got paid to publish their historical RPF doujinshi," because it's a vaguely fantasy story about Yoshitsune and his brother, Yoritomo, where dry historical narration about battles is laid over the top of A LOT of banging. (I kept hoping that we'd get to see the battles, but no, which is weird because usually that's the bit that bores me!) The art is... Fine? I was a bit more invested in Yoritomo's storyline because his motivations and plans were a bit more obvious, but I literally couldn't follow the story because it all seemed to be happening off screen.

Currently Reading

  • Elegant Yokai Apartment Life Volume 5 by Hinowa Kouzuki and Waka Miyama — I officially give up on trying to work out what genre this series is (Is a supernatural slice of life series? Is it a magical boy comedy? Is it a mystery? Is it every one of these things depending on which volume you read?), but I'm enjoying it so far and looking forward to an explanation of what's going on with the teacher!

  • Depression of the Anti-Romanticist Volume 1 by Yasuna Saginuma — I am tentatively enjoying this, but I'm also kinda "Isn't this relationship moving a little fast considering you work at a host club, have two kids, and the love interest is secretive about everything apart from the fact that he HAS MAFIA MONEY?" (Plus, the translation is hit and miss on how it deals with the trans background characters – sometimes it'll be okay, and then sometimes it will have the characters misgendering someone while talking about her coming out.)

Reading Goals

Reading goal: 27/200 (27 new this post) Prose: 2/100 Nonfiction: 2/12
#ReadMyOwnDamnBooks: 16/100 (16 read this post)
#unofficialqueerafbookclub: 15/75 (14 new this post; A City Inside, No. 6 Volumes 1-9, The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House, Sweet Blue Flowers Volumes 1 and 2, My Solo Exchange Diary Volume 2, Contract of Cherry Blossom Guilt)

And a picture of my current book blanket progress can be found here!
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