Manga Review: “Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu”

Junji Ito's Cat Diary: Yon & MuJunji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu by Junji Ito
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What an amazing, relatable, beautiful, hilarious manga! Junji Ito, normally a master of horror, here shares his life’s adventures with the two cats that turned him from a dog man into a cat daddy. The art is, as usual with Ito’s pieces, beautiful and haunting, a little odd, and over all wacky. The facial expressions are to die for, and the art of the two cats–Yon, with the odd face, and Mu, the adorable, fluffy Norwegian Forest Cat–is both heartwarming and frighteningly funny. I loved this manga!

Junji Ito moves into a brand new home with A-ko, the love of his life. She, however, quickly makes up her mind–the house needs cats! Junji has previously met Yon, A-ko’s cat that lives with her family. Surprisingly, not only does Yon come to live with the two, but Junji and A-ko adopt a lovely little Norwegian Forest cat that they name Mu. Once the kitties are used to their new home, they become the best of friends, and both terrorize and love Junji to pieces.

Though most of the story is equal parts roll-on-the-floor funny, heartwarming, and relatable for those of us lucky enough to be cat parents, it does end on a sort of sad note. It should be noted to have some tissues on hand during the last chapter and notes!

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Book Review: “Red Queen” by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen (Red Queen, #1)Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Wow, this book was difficult for me to get through. It has taken me far too long to finish it. At first, I thought this was my own fault–perhaps I was in a reading slump. Perhaps I just was being lazy with my reading, or was too busy with the rest of my life to sit down and enjoy a book. However, as I pushed through “Red Queen,” I realized that, no. It wasn’t me. It was very much the novel.

I feel like the major problem with “Red Queen” was the pacing. On the outside, it offered everything I usually like in my YA Sci-fi/Fantasy reads. A strong female lead. Magic abilities. A dystopian society. War. Political intrigue. The characters were decent (though I do feel like there were a bit too many to keep track of, and many of them were not fleshed out beyond ‘this person is bad/this person is good’). Overall, the plot was well done, though there were a few points where the twists and turns were obvious.

Mare Barrow is a young woman living in a world where there are two types of people–the Silvers, who have literal silver colored blood and magic in their veins; and the Reds, who are the average person with red blood. The Silvers are the ruling class, leaving the Reds as little more than slaves living in their slums.

After a few shenanigans, Mare ends up pretending to be a Silver princess, betrothed to one of the princes of the land. She discovers that she, a lowly Red, somehow was the powers of a Silver. Through the charade, she finds herself thrown into a world of political unrest and rebellion.

There’s also a sort of love triangle, though there is a third love interest that may or may not actually be a love interest.

Where to really begin? “Red Queen” should have been a five-star review, easily. Like I stated before, there was everything in it to be a great novel. However, there is just something about it that lacks the pull a good book has over a reader. Some of the story is bland. Some of it is simply fantastic. The characters are good; those that are fleshed out a really understandable (with a few exceptions), and even the worst of them are somewhat redeemable.

It’s the pacing.

The beginning of the book exists in this odd sort of space where nothing happens, and then suddenly, everything happens. It felt like watching someone get ready to shoot an arrow from a bow. They notch the arrow, they pull back the string, they aim…and then suddenly, everything explodes. It felt like that–disjointed and odd and strange. Then the center of the book, the very middle, is very…eh. Just eh. Toward the last 1/8th of the novel, everything in Mare’s life starts to unravel, and things get good.

I understand that this is the first book in a series, but when the first novel does little more than set up for the next step…it feels a bit hollow. It should have it’s own story, it’s own space. Instead, it just sort of exists for the rest of the series to charge ahead. “Red Queen” ends on a cliff hanger of sorts, but I have so little invested in what happened in this first book that I will probably not continue the series.

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It’s Christmas Time! (In HELL)

Things were going well up until about thirty minutes ago. Things were great! Wonderful! Epic, even! Then–

Family Drama.

I don’t want to get into it. Not really! I just want the holidays to go well. Everyone should be happy, and have fun! Right? So why am I so nervous and worried that everything is going to Hell in a handbag. Ugh!

Getting off of that train of thought…Covey has gotten me into the show Bob’s Burgers. It’s my sort of humor. We are actually watching it right now as we eat (I’m waiting for my dinner to cool while I type). According to one of the quizzes I took online, I am totally Linda–and yes. Yes, I am. Like her, I tend to randomly break out into song (usually making up my own lyrics about whatever I happen to be doing at that moment).

linda

Ugh. I feel so flighty tonight. My thoughts are there, but I just can’t catch them enough to make them into fully fledged ideas. Sentences. Words are hard.

Return of the Loud Music from Across the Hall; Also Book Stuff

Not only do my neighbors think it a good idea to blast their (terrible) music at all hours, but they also enjoy screaming at one another and their children. Straight. Up. Screaming. Sometimes it’s not even words. Just sounds. It’s gotten to the point where I am not sure if the woman in the apartment next to us knows how to speak in a regular tone. She constantly shrieks.

Getting away from my complaints…Books! Loads and loads of books! My wife got me an early holiday gift–a new Kindle! I am so happy to have it. I had forgotten how nice and compact they are. Though I will never stop loving old-fashioned, ink and paper books, e-readers are nice when you travel or go between homes as often as we do. I have already downloaded at least ten books/omnibuses.

I pay for them in a very interesting way! My wife and I do surveys online via a site called Forthright. Every survey gives you between fifty cents to five dollars per one you complete, and often, there are special offers. Since Kindle books are generally between ninety-nine cents to ten dollars, saving up the change from the surveys to get an Amazon.com gift card is pretty easy. The thing I like most about it is that I can just do a survey here or there, like when I’m waiting for the bus or in line at the grocery store, or whatever. If I get accepted into one of the surveys, I am generally able to complete it in between five to fifteen minutes. So! It’s just a simple, easy way to get some quick gift cards to buy books and other things with.

Speaking of ‘other things,’ I did use some of my earnings to buy my wife a special manga for the holiday! I really hope she likes it. Covey is a big fan of Junji Ito, and a huge fan of cats. For those of you that are familiar with the mangaka, I think you know where this is going.

Other books I have purchased are “The Savior’s Champion,” by Jenna Moreci. She is also a YouTuber that offers suggestions and tips for writing and publishing. I believe I have linked a few of her videos in this blog before, but I might do it again!
jenna

I also purchased:
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…and a few others. I am super happy with my buys. I can’t wait to read them all!

Something else I have been toying with is the idea of starting (and maintaining) a new YouTube channel. I would love to start doing book reviews, hauls, and other novel and reading related videos, as well as maybe a few on writing/progress with my book/s. I think it would be nice to do a video once or twice a week. Just for fun, mind; I don’t want to get caught up in it like I was trying to do before with my gaming channel, or with my doll channel. Just something nice, simple, easy. For fun.

I really need to start doing things for fun again.

For example, I just spent the last week and a half getting ready for a craft fair with Coventry. We both made a ton of stuff to sell at it, but in the end, we only made about forty-five to fifty dollars–and we spent some of that on handmade soaps (it’s best for my skin) and other small gifts for each other. It was basically a bust! I used to sew for fun, but now it’s become a sort of chore. I hate that! I just want it to be fun again. Oh, well. I still enjoy it–just not being under the gun.

Making doll related things became like that for a while. I had to take a step back. I’m afraid that writing or reading might end up becoming the same way; it did in college and high school. But! Maybe just doing it for fun, for stress relief…maybe that will do the trick. I don’t know. I guess I’m rambling at this point.

Anyway, I did mention earlier that I would probably link some videos from Jenna Moreci. So! Here are some!

Why Is Your Music So Loud?

Today was the first day in a while that I was able to sleep in. Of course–OF COURSE–today also had to be the day that our neighbor has their music up so loud that it can be heard in our bedroom. Thankfully, they did not start playing it until around an hour ago (11:00AM EST), so I managed to get enough sleep to count. Still. It’s super annoying and management will do nothing about it. I am seriously considering asking Coventry if we can find another place to live. I’m just so unhappy with our neighbors right now.

It would be one thing if it happened to be good music. Instead, it’s all auto-tuned people that couldn’t hold a note otherwise. Beautiful people with terrible voices. Not to mention I think it’s the radio, so there are really annoying ads every so often as well. I suppose it could be worse. It could be Christmas music. Ugh.

Speaking of the dreaded holiday…Last night, my wife and I decorated our tree. We don’t really celebrate Christmas outside of our family–meaning that we, ourselves, celebrate the Winter Solstice instead, but do go to our families’ homes for Christmas–so it’s a little odd. Of course, having a tree is tradition that dates back to Pagan beliefs. Anyway, we decorated Bethany (our tree) with little rubber snakes, spiders, rats, bats, and skeletons, along with a few bits and bobbles that make it look good. Then, to top the tree, we have Janet–our skeletal (plastic) bird with a little Santa hat. Bethany is a tiny tree, only about three feet, but it tries its best and I love it.

Currently, I am reading the book “Red Queen” by Victoria Aveyard. I feel bad about it, mostly because it’s an okay book–not great, but not bad–and I am just having a time getting through it. I want to read it. This is something I should like! It’s just…I don’t know! It feels like reading through taffy. There is just this disconnect for me. It’s so strange. It’s a well written book, the characters are interesting. The setting is a little odd and not what I expected, but that’s good! The plot, so far, is intriguing. I honestly don’t know why I am having such a hard time with it. Honestly.

Eventually, I will manage to finish it. I’m sure of that. I just don’t know when.

Make The Snow Go Far, Far Away

The last two weeks–or has it only been one week?–have been hell. Literal, horrible hell. Even before my cousin, Cassie, passed, my family has been going through some stuff. My grandparents are not doing well at all. For starters, my grandfather is in incredible pain right now. His back is in bad shape. He was also attacked by his dog, Wishbone (which I may have mentioned in a previous post, but I honestly don’t remember), and now, he is having issues with going to the bathroom properly. The doctor he sees wants to run some sort of test on his prostate.

Added to this, both of my grandparents have fallen multiple times over the course of the last few days. It started with my gram, who fell in her driveway. She landed on her bad knee, which, of course, caused her a ton of pain. Then, my grandpa has fallen twice since he returned home from the hospital. One of those times, he came dangerously close to smashing his head on their hug, wooden bench. That probably would have killed him.

Aside from that, my wife and I haven’t really had a chance to just be us. It’s a hard time of the year–my cousin passed, my grandparents aren’t doing well, there was Thanksgiving, and Christmas is coming up soon. I am just feeling really spent and spread thin. I want time to relax without having to worry about this, or that, or the other thing.

The other night, I made it a point to do something for myself. My favorite purse (one that I hand-made!) got dirty, so I threw it into the wash. Bad idea. The poor thing was torn apart. It was destroyed! There was no way I could fix it. Most of the fabric just shredded into strips. Thankfully, the webbing (what I used for the strap) was just fine, so I harvested what I could from the ruined purse.

Long story short, I found a quick and simple pattern online for a new purse. I edited the crap out of the original design so that I could make a bag that suits my needs. After that, I found two fabrics that I liked (one for the outer shell, and one for the lining), and some Velcro for the closure. Though I had originally intended for the purse to be floral pink on the outside and a nice, muted grey on the interior, I later decided to swap the fabrics. This allows the outside to be simple (and allows me to add pins and patches without it looking too cluttered), and it gives a nice surprise pop of color on the inside.

Last night and today, we spent time with my mom. It was alright–my mom and I were feeling like shit, so we really weren’t up to doing anything other than sleeping and watching movies. She made a super yummy quiche for dinner. Her dogs (Sasha and Amstell) are very large and they sort of smell funny, but that might be because I’m so used to our cat, Jasper, and to my grandparents’ small dogs (Wishbone and Rex).

During the night, it snowed. I am not talking about a little dusting–no! It was a ton of snow! It’s snowing now, too. Tomorrow’s commute into my appointments is going to be a bunch of slippery fun. Our city doesn’t really care about the state of the sidewalks, even this close to an elementary school. Usually, they are glare ice or completely snowed in, making it impossible to walk on them. I might have to walk in the road, which is frightening as well, as many drivers don’t watch where they are going.

At any rate, I am getting ready to go into the craft room to work on my new bullet journal. I need to finish making it–binding it and everything. So I will do that before I go to bed. I just need some ‘me’ time. Some ‘Devyn’ time.

Yeah. Devyn Time.

demyxtime.gif

She’s Gone

On Saturday, my cousin lost her battle with cancer. She was just twenty seven years old. My family, myself included, is heart broken. We knew it would happen. We know she is now without pain.

But it fucking hurts.