Tag Archives: Sparkler Monthly

Orange Junk Volume 2

The awkward feelings between Louise and Bruce are growing, though it seems like Louise will never realize what’s going on in Bruce’s head. But when Bruce’s family runs into even more financial trouble and he needs money fast, a modeling competition may be the best–and most embarrassing–way to solve all his problems at once.

Orange Junk Volume 2
orangejunk_vol2_ebookcover_finalBy Heldrad
Publisher: Chromatic Press
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Price: $6.00/eBook – Free at Sparkler Monthly
Rating: ★★★★½

The second volume of Orange Junk starts a new arc that takes the characters out of school and into a modeling competition. The change of venue brings in new characters, including a rival for Louise’s affections, and plenty of new opportunities for comedy and drama.

I really enjoyed this second volume, possibly more than the first. While the series does use the shojo tropes well, all the time spent at school was starting to drag. This volume changes that as the characters move into new environments. Bruce’s mother has to be hospitalized, and as the bread-winner with no insurance, it’s up to him to try to find a way to cover everything. Enter the male modeling competition with a cash prize for 1st place. While Bruce is away, Drew and Louise spend more time at Bruce’s helping out with his siblings and being all domestic. Drew is really cute with the kerchief on his head, baby on his back and broom in his hand. While Louise isn’t much help domestically, it is a chance to get out of her house and away from the drama brewing there. While we don’t see it as much in this volume, there are subtle hints that things may be getting worse instead of better.

The modeling competition is really where all the fun and excitement is. Bruce’s change from tough guy to chic is amazing, though I do like his “hedgehog” hair better. It’s cute seeing how uncomfortable and vulnerable he was answering the personal questions, going through the makeover, and walking the runway in a speedo. A couple of new characters are also introduced. Ryan is one of modeling competitors, who Louise calls Flower Boy. He looks much younger than his stated 21 years, and isn’t really interesting in winning the competition. He becomes friends with Bruce. Miles Reagan, who Bruce’s sister Jenny calls “Refined Boy,” is the son of the man who cause Louise’s family to go bankrupt. He has feelings for Louise and thinks he can turn her around and get her to reciprocate them. The scene where he first talks to Louise with Ryan and Bruce is really funny and shows everyone’s level of comprehension of the situation. It was great.

Miles’ declaration to win Louise back is going to be a problem for Bruce and Louise as the pair have been slowly realizing their feeling for each other. Both spend a lot of time blushing as Bruce dreams of Louise, and through the competition, Louise sees a lot of more of Bruce’s body. It’s hard to imagine Miles having any kind of chance getting between them, but some things he says to Louise implies more was going on than she knows between their families. But he comes off so smarmy that I really don’t want to see him either win the competition or even Louise’s friendship.

This second volume of Orange Junk was very addicting, making it hard for to pull away. The competition should really start heating up now that Bruce has decided to get serious, and the stakes were raised by Miles. I love that it’s the guy that gets to be the model and objectified instead of the girl. This twist is part of what really made this volume fun for me. I’m really looking forward to seeing where the story goes in the next volume, and am really glad Sparkler added it to the magazine, so I can get in monthly chunks.

Become a member and get Sparkler Monthly every month with a $5 monthly subscription, pay for a year for $50 and save $10, or become a VIP for $125 and get back downloads of serialized titles as well as Cherry Bomb adult stories.

Orange Junk Volume 1

When Louise’s wealthy family loses everything, she has to pull herself up by her bootstraps and start over in a new high school – where the smartest boy is the meanest, and the hottest boy is the weirdest. But Louise needs tutoring, so the three become a team…and it’s heaven, hell, and everything in-between.

Orange Junk Volume 1
orangejunk_vol1_ebookcoverBy Heldrad
Publisher: Chromatic Press
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Price: $6.00/eBook – Free to read at Sparkler Monthly
Rating: ★★★★☆

In general, I don’t care for the riches-to-rags stories. I don’t find financial hardship to be funny no matter who is writing it, so I had my doubts about Orange Junk when it was announced as a new addition to Sparkler Monthly. But I have a terrible case of curiosity and decided to check the series out on my lunch break at work. I ended up reading all 7 available chapters over lunch and break. Orange Junk spins an engrossing story filled with appealing characters and a story that balances the humor and drama just right.

The protagonist of Orange Junk is Louise Barton. Her family used to be wealthy, but her father’s company went bankrupt and they lost everything. They move into a regular neighborhood where Louise has to go to the local public high school. It’s like a whole new world for her, but she does adjust and makes friends. Bruce Daniels starts out as Louise’s nemesis. He is quick to anger and is always getting into fights. He also hates rich people, so sees nothing good in her. Andrew Grey is the third member of the trio. He is a new student like Louise. He lost his parents and now lives with his Grandmother who spends a lot of time traveling. He is good-looking and a bit clumsy. The trio become friends when Bruce is forced to tutor Louise in math to keep their teacher Jack from telling his mother about his fighting and Drew lets the use his house when rumors start to fly at school.

I really like all three of these characters. I wasn’t sure I would like Bruce at first. He was so quick to judge and jump to conclusions about Louise. He is hyper-sensitive about his family’s financial situation, while Louise isn’t. She seems to have accepted the change in her lifestyle, though she does hold a bit of a grudge against her father’s partner who was responsible for the family’s downfall. For most of the first volume they spend a lot of time bickering. I loved that Louise called Bruce and hedgehog, and imagined him as a pineapple when his mother described him as tough on the outside but sweet on the inside. They do finally come to an understanding, mostly with the help of Drew. He starts to hang out with Louise and Bruce during their tutoring, and the reason why is not one you would expect. I thought is was a good twist.

The humor is strong emphasized in this first volume, but dramatic elements still get dropped in. The trios’ back story is revealed as well as glimpses into their family lives are shown. Bruce is tricked into revealing his when Louise opens up to him first. All three have very different homes to go to. Bruce’s is lively and happy. Louise’s is still filled with anger and resentment. You can’t see the bonds in Louise’s that you can in Bruce’s. Drew’s family quickly becomes Bruce and Louise since he is essentially alone, but he always has an upbeat attitude and smile.

The art of Orange Junk is charming. It has a shojo feel to it, while having a life of its own. Both Bruce and Drew are good-looking in their own way. Louise is comely, though I like her better with her hair down. I also really like Bruce’s hedgehog spikes. The characters also have their own fashion styles, and I enjoyed seeing them in different outfits.

Orange Junk is a fun series that delighted me, all the more since I wasn’t expecting it to. It has a lot of shojo manga tropes, but handles them in a way that they don’t feel old or tired. I was riveted as I torn through the pages, the story and characters growing on my with every chapter. If you are a fan of shojo manga or just good stories, check this series out.

Become a member and get Sparkler Monthly every month with a $5 monthly subscription, pay for a year at $50 and save $10, or become a VIP for $125 and get back downloads of serialized titles as well as Cherry Bomb adult stories.

Sparkler Monthly Year Two

sparklermag 01It was one year ago that I first spoke about Sparkler Magazine, mentioning it as one of the stories on my podcast. It was just one of the news stories, but I used the cover of the premiere issue as my featured image and got the attention of the editors, which got me a  review copy, and the issue an in-depth look on my next podcast.

I really enjoyed that first issue. Back then, the issue was broken down into 6 features; two manga, Dire Hearts and Off Beat, two prose novels Gauntlet and Tokyo Demons Book 2, an audio, Awake, and a subscriber only feature. Dire Hearts was very intriguing. Gauntlet was heart-pounding. Awake set up a great sci-fi thriller. I enjoyed the magazine and digital format so much that I dropped my subscription to Yen Plus, and picked up Sparkler, even though Sparkler cost more. But I was getting more of what I wanted and enjoyed with it.

sparklermag-aug2014Twelve months of updates later, a lot has changed. Dire Hearts sadly has to go on hiatus due to health issue for its creator Christy Lijewski. Off Beat, then Gauntlet and Tokyo Demons Book 2 ended. Plenty of new titles have taken their place. Dead Endings, Dusk in Kalevia and Skyglass joined as regular prose titles. We started to see short stories as well with The Maiden and the Fish in prose, and Dinner Ditz, Before You Go and Rings of Saturn in Comics. With the start of Year 2, new titles Windrose and Gatesmith have joined as well. The have forums on the site where readers could not only talk about their favorite series’, but subscribers had access to the editors who would answer questions about writing and drawing, and they would post articles to help creators improve in areas they saw as weak in the submissions they got. Because they openly accepted submissions. Certain months were dedicated to a different form, comics, prose, and audio.

SparklerSamplerIssue_coverThe key to this venture succeeding though, is dependent on its readers; getting subscribers. As the magazine moves into year 2, the editors have laid things out for us. They need 2,000 people subscribing at least $5 a month to keep the magazine going past this second year, so their running a membership drive. That’s really not a lot of money. What’s the comparison that always gets thrown out? The same as a cup of Starbucks coffee? It should be easy to skip on cup a month to give these women who are working to provide us with something few other publishers are; a magazine focused on the female gaze. They’ve done some great work so far, and really deserve the chance to keep doing more. Not so sure about that? There is a sampler issue available for download for free that features the first chapter of every series available so far.

And they are making it worth your subscribing while. They have dropped the full year price to $50 and thrown in a free eBook from their shop, and added a new tier, VIP that can download every chapter of every series anytime for a yearly price of $125. And like a kickstarter, for every subscriber goal met, new perks open up, such as raffles, dropping the paywall, adding more title slots and even a video game!

But even with all the perks, really, you should just subscribe for the content. It really is great and there is so much variety that just about anyone will find something they enjoy. And with support there can be even more.