[TBBReview] @Full Moon series by Sanami Matoh (manga)

Although I’m categorizing this as a Totally Biased Book Review (TBBR), it’s actually much more like an angry chapter-by-chapter reaction rant rather than an actual review.

SPOILERS ABOUND!!  You have been warned…


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@Full Moon (Vol. 1 & 2)

Sanami Matoh

What rating would you give it?
1.5/2 of 5 Stars

Give us a summary.

(Goodreads Description)
VOLUME 1
After ten years apart, aristocratic vampires and childhood friends Marlo and David are back together– as fiancés! Being half werewolf and half vampire, Marlo undergoes a peculiar transformation, becoming a woman rather than a beast under the full moon. So there’s no problem for a wedding and David’s womanizing fangs– right?

VOLUME 2
CAN’T MAN UP!
Half vampire, half werewolf, Marlo is a bit of an anomaly. When exposed to the light of the full moon, HE becomes a SHE! To make matters worse, it seems as though his rivals have plans to keep Marlo trapped as a woman – FOREVER! Join us as this epic vampire romance reaches its dramatic conclusion in this final volume of At Full Moon!

What did you think of the book?

Lord.

The weirdly misogynistic, toxic masculinity, homophobic bullshit of this series. =A=

Let me just start by saying, JUST HOW PROBLEMATIC this whole series (Until The Full Moon and it’s sequel @Full Moon) is TO BEGIN WITH.

Then I’m gonna say how — EVEN THOUGH IT’S PROBLEMATIC — I still, at least, liked the first series, Until The Full Moon.

But this one…

But thing here….

WHAT THE eFF EVEN DID I READ

WHY DID IT–

HOW—

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Okay… Okay…

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Lemme just explain something before I get into my “in-the-moment-thoughts-while-reading-this” commentary.

This series COULD have been REALLY cool and interesting and breaking gender boundaries and empowering towards the LGBTQUIA+ community. Or at least, I dunno, ACTUALLY MADE SOME COHERENT SENSE IN TERMS OF GENDER IDENTITY AND HOW YA DEAL WITH IT AND THE SPECTRUM OF SEXUALITY AND ALL THAT.

But no.

Nooooooo.

It was SO CAUGHT UP IN KEEPING WITH THE “NO HOMO” VIBE THAT IT COMPLETELY MISSED THE MARK ON ALL REGARDS – SAVE ONE.

David continually makes it clear that he doesn’t care which version of Marlo he’s with. He loves him regardless of whether or not he’s in his male form or his female one.

WHICH IS AWESOME.

Except he insists he isn’t gay. (Which he’s not. I’m not concerned with that.)

And Marlo’s “an exception”. (Which I suppose IS true, but not in the way you’d think, or at least hope he’s indicating.)

And Marlo loves David. And David loves Marlo. In fact, here’s where the BIGGEST PROBLEM LIES:

They’ve BOTH HAD THESE FEELINGS SINCE THEY WERE CHILDREN AND DIDN’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT MARLO BEING ABLE TO CHANGE INTO A GIRL ONCE A MONTH.

SO WHY DO THEY INSIST THEY’RE NOT ATTRACTED TO “MEN”? They’re AT LEAST attracted to each other, even if they don’t necessarily find other men attractive or sexually appealing or whatever. And they’re attracted to each other WHILE BOTH BEING IN THE MALE FORM. They both get aroused with each other. There’s no woman in their bed or superimposed their heads when they’re being intimate or kiss.

AND THEY BOTH LOVE EACH OTHER.

HAVE SINCE FOREVER.

SO WHAT IS WITH THE OVERBEARING NO HOMO THEY KEEP PUTTING UP LIKE IT ACTUALLY HAS ANY VALIDITY WHATSOEVER IN REGARDS TO THEM?!?!

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I…. I…..

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Okay… Let’s get on to my chapter-by-chapter reactions before I honestly couldn’t keep them up anymore and was just left with a big “WTeffingF?!”

THOUGHTS AFTER CH.1

Okay, so I’ll be totally honest. It’s weird getting used to the new art style. I LIKE it… like AT LOT. But it’s sooooo different from the previous style that it’s really throwing me for a loop.

Outside of that, I’m surprisingly enjoying it so far. Definitely looking forward to seeing where this goes.

Also, I like that the first kiss scene we see between Marlo and David is with Marlo in his male form, because back then there was A LOT of censoring going on and it was like the mangaka or publisher or whoever was trying to make it a very exclusive “They only kiss when Marlo’s female” kinda thing. I’m glad I’m seeing more of a reverse of that now, this many years later.

THOUGHTS STARTING CH.2

NEVERMIND. Not even 3 pages in and they’re wholly sticking to the whole “we’re not gay” blah blah blah bullshit again. *SIIIIIIGGGHHHHH* Such a disappointment. Ya’ll ARE gay or at least bi or sumthin’, because long before you could transform into a woman, Marlo, you were in love with him and he was in love with you. Suddenly being able to change into a woman only makes it convenient for the world to accept you better (I GUESS????!?) but that’s really about it. Marlo is STILL A GUY SOME 27 DAYS out of EVERY MONTH. He’s not trans or doing this for drag. He still SEES HIMSELF AS A MAN… So then, WHAT THE HELL IS THE PROBLEM?!

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THOUGHTS AFTER CH.2

OKAY… so after reading chapter 2 completely I’m even MORE confused. I mean, it’s not like he only started liking Marlo AFTER he found out he could become a girl. He liked him since THEY WERE CHILDREN. In fact, the reason he was always only “playing” with the girls he went out with was because he was already in love with someone he thought he couldn’t have AKA Marlo. So… I mean… what gives? Why do you guys keep saying “Oh Marlo’s a special case” and all that, when it really doesn’t mean a damn thing since you were in love with him (and him, with you) since ya’ll were children? I DON’T UNDERSTAND and quite frankly, I don’t think the writer or translator does either.

Like… I don’t know if this is just bad translating, westernizing, censoring, or something… but this is someone trying TOO FUCKING HARD to say “NO HOMO!!!” because I’m just like…

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…over here. IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE SO FUCKING COMPLICATED. You’re a guy who likes girls, but fell in love with another dude who happens to become a girl once a month for like 3 days TOPS. Even if your preference is still basically females, it really doesn’t apply to THE DUDE YOU’RE MARRIED TO, now does it? I mean, after all, it’s not like you don’t love him when he’s a guy. That’d be like a guy saying to a girl that he can’t love her or have sex with her unless she’s wearing makeup or looks a certain way or something. And if that’s actually what he’s saying, then that’s some serious denial shit going on there LEFT AND RIGHT. (It’s fine if it arouses you or you like the way they look dolled up, BUT ACTUALLY SAYING YOU CAN’T LOVE A PERSON BECAUSE UNLESS THEY LOOK A CERTAIN WAY IS REALLY… I mean… WOAH.)

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God… I was SO hoping this series would be better than the first. Now it’s looking just a problematic – perhaps EVEN WORSE (even if I *DO* actually really like all of the characters)… *SIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGH*

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THOUGHTS AFTER CH.3/BEGINNING OF CH.4

What even. This is getting ridiculous (And I don’t mean in a good way either…) Why the fuck is Marlo mad at David if he wanted him to be jealous in the first place? This is just plain dumb.

THOUGHTS ON CH.4 – DATE

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Awwwwww… okay. So even if the rest of it is a bit of a tragedy, I REALLY like Chris. He loves his momma and he’s awkward AF and adorable AF and I’m diggin’ him. (Any man who loves his mom and isn’t ashamed to admit it is a good man. Means he’ll treat his woman right, too. <3)

I will say though, I’m curious to find out how he reacts to finding out that Marlo is married (since I kinda think he actually doesn’t know yet and this is all the butler’s doing giving him bad advice… he seems like the really innocent, socially awkward type, y’know?). How he reacts to this news is really how I’ll judge him.

AFTER READING CH.4

Okay… so I don’t know how I feel about reading this chapter. If *I* were writing this, then I know I’d have nothing to worry about, especially in regards to how things are shaping up with Chris’ personality (and the fact that he DID know Marlo’s married but still wants to make him his wife??? Waaaah???). But since I’m *not* the one writing this, and I’ve already seen the HIGHLY questionable life choices the writer/translator/mangaka has been going with in regards to this series and its characters… I’m concerned. I really don’t want to hate Chris (because he’s super adorbs) but I have a feeling I’m going to regret saying anything good about him because this writer is just…

DO YOU EVEN KNOW HOW TO CREATE AND DEVELOP CHARACTERS AT ALL?!

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THOUGHTS FROM CH.5 ONWARD

UGHHHHHHH….

SOMEBODY SHOOT ME NOW

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FINAL THOUGHTS

I sort of want to scratch my eyes out after reading this. I’d actually been fine with never knowing this sequel existed.

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Any warnings you wish to make for your readers?

Dun read it.

Especially if you ACTUALLY LIKED the first series, Until The Full Moon. This sequel series literally ruins it, like you have NO IDEA.

Does it count towards any reading challenges?

Just the two…

  • 2019 GoodReads Reading Challenge

…and my own self-imposed one. Guess I should give it a name or something, huh? Hmm….

  • 2019 M3W2 Reading Challenge

Y’know… M3=Manga, Manhua, Manhwa; W2=Webcomic, & Webtoon

Sounds doable. Maybe I’ll add parentheses or something to it to explain it. Whatevs.

Would you recommend this book?

Like I said before… I certainly wouldn’t recommend it. It seriously does NOT portray a good picture of… anything. And the fact that it also tries to lay on comedy to mask some of the serious issues going on in it really doesn’t help.

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Reviewed by AMS (amomentsilence)

Publisher:  Kodansha Comics
Publication Date: Nov 2011 & Jan 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 384 (192+192)
Genre & Themes: Fantasy, Romance,
Gender Bender, Bisexual/Gay Sexualities,
Comedy
Age: Teen/OT
Reviewer: AMS (amomentsilence)
Source: Bought
Challenge: 2019 GoodReads
Reading Challenge, 2019
M3W2 Reading Challenge

[Review] The Aliens and Their Omega (Volardi Mpreg #1) by Tabatha Austin (FREE BOOK)

the aliens and their omega
The Aliens and Their Omega (Volardi Mpreg #1)

Tabatha Austin

What rating would you give it?
2.5 of 5 Stars

Give us a summary.

(Goodreads Description)
Genre: Gay Alien MPreg / MPreg Non Shifter / M/M/M

James hoped his jump would finally bring his miserable life to an end. It did, but not in the way he intended.

High above Earth, the Volardi – tall, muscular, virile aliens – are in desperate need of males to repopulate their race. Their desperation gives rise to the Omega Program, an active campaign to convert the perfect candidates.

When Melk and Trevah rescue James from a rocky cliff free-fall, they entice him with an opportunity to be the first Earthling Omega and bring Earth into a Golden Age.

Hot gay guys, a science fiction lifestyle, and a family? What could go wrong? Unfortunately for James, everything.

Note: The Aliens and Their Omega is a complete standalone alpha/beta/omega non-shifter mpreg (male pregnancy) romance.
This 31,000-word science fiction m/m/m novella contains detailed descriptions of steamy threesome sex with muscled aliens. Includes anal and oral situations with a firm touch of dominance.

What did you think of the book?

Where to even begin with this?

First, a confession:
I should REALLY, REALLY stop going through Google Play’s free books at, like, 3 in the morning and picking up the first “this-could-be-interesting” free book I find and reading it. It most likely won’t end well. xD

Now onto the review:
I liked the basic concept (this is seemed like SOOOO my cup of tea… A/B/O Aliens? GIMME EVERYTHING YOU HAAAAVVVVEEEE) but the writing was so mediocre that I constantly found myself rubbing my temples just to will myself past all the typos, spelling mistakes, and grammatical horrors that kept popping up left and right and pulling me out of the story. Also, though the BASIC concept was fine, I really didn’t like how it was executed in this story (which makes me cringe to think what the follow-up novels are like).

I don’t think I’ll read any of the other books (although reviews say the last — I think it’s the last — book in the series is the best written of them all). I only read this one ’cause I was bored, it was free, and I had absolutely nothing else better to do.

Any warnings you wish to make for your readers?

Uhhhhhhh… WELL… the synopsis basically lays them all out for you. I mean, it’s gay, mpreg, non-shifter A/B/O, threesome, graphic sexual situations, serious dubious consent, pregnant sex… I mean… it’s… it’s definitely an acquired taste.

If that’s your thing and you don’t mind mediocre writing in need of some SERIOUS editing, plot holes, and a very abrupt ending…

Does it count towards any reading challenges?

Just the one…

Would you recommend this book?

I really would not. But then again, it IS free (or at least it was when I found it on Google Play), so if you want to give it a shot? Go for it.

Do you, my friend.

Get it here FOR FREE:

Reviewed by AMS (amomentsilence)

Publisher:  Self Published
Publication Date: January 2018
Format: eBook
Pages: 112
Genre & Themes: 18+ M/M/M Romance, Fiction, Aliens,
Sci-Fi, LGBTQUIA+, M-preg
Age: Adult (18+)
Reviewer: AMS (amomentsilence)
Source: Purchased on Google Play
Challenge: 2019 GoodReads Reading Challenge

The Re-Read Challenge Review ~ Update 4

THE LIST of Books I Re-Read Last Month (April)

Print ikenai otoko 16159888 12461407 124614191737706410386406 10386503

Haito Diamond 1 Haito Diamond 2 Haito Diamond 3 Haito Diamond 4

  1. Songs of the Earth (Sumeria’s Sons, #2) by Lexi Ander  [Review]
  2. Ikenai Otoko by Hiroi Takao  [Review]
  3. Ore ni Koi Shite Dounsunda by Kou Yoneda [Review]
  4. Jigoku Meguri #1 & 2 by Siam Kuju  [Review]
  5. Dark Prince (The Dark Earth manga, #3) by X. Aratare & T.Wolv  [Review]
  6. Haito Diamond #1-4 by Mika Sadahiro  [Review]
  7. The Abyss: Upon A Midnight Clear by X. Aratare  [Review]
  8. The Erl-King: Jealous Sons and Mistletoe by X. Aratare  [Review]

WHAT I Remember

About Songs of the Earth… that everything was STILL NOT OKAY, NOT OKAY MAN!

About Ikenai Otoko… nothing actually. XD That is until I saw the cover and then one thing led to another and I ended up reading the whole thing in one go. No joke – the title does NOTHING to jog my memory of the story. Only the cover art brings the comedic escapades back in full swing.

About the Jigoku Meguri series… that I… I read it before… but somehow I felt like I hadn’t finished reading it or something? It’s possible that I started this series when it was being scanlated and never got back to it, which could very much so explain away why at least the ENTIRE SECOND BOOK and, maybe… the second-to-last chapter in the first book was such a blank to me.

Either that, or I have shit memory.

S’toss up between the two, fer sure.

About Dark Prince… that I had read most of it when it was being serialized but hadn’t finished it because 1) wasn’t completed yet and 2) membership ran out. Now that both of those things have been rectified, I decided it was about time to catch up on my favourite series.

About Ore ni Koi Shite Dounsunda… that… once again THE TITLE GAVE AWAY NOTHING TO ME. xD Just like with Ikenai, the only thing that helps is the cover art. Once I got a glimpse of that I had the same sort of feeling as I did with Jigoku, knowing that I HAD read it, but not ALL of it, so… yeah. *needs to get a physical copy of this one SOON* Anyone know where I can get one? xD

About the Haito Diamond series… that it will forever be one of my favourite fucked-up series that will live on in infamy till the end of time, because

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About Upon A Midnight Clear (A short holiday tale from The Abyss)… that it was fuckin’ cute and I wanted to re-read it. END OF STORY.

About Jealous Sons and Mistletoe (A short holiday tale from The Erl-King)… that it was EVEN MORE FUCKIN CUTE, AND I WANTED TO FUCKIN’ RE-READ IT. GOD 

WHY I Wanted to Re-Read

I think I made myself clear with Jealous Sons and A Midnight Clear, so I won’t reiterate.

For Haito Diamond, I was actually dusting off my ATF (All-Time-Favourites) bookshelf and ended up picking up one book, dusting it off, reading it. Picking up the rest of the books, dusting them off, and reading all of them one after another. Then upon putting down my dusting cloth, went over to my computer and looked through my scanlations of all four books to compare and contrast the horrible “translating” to the original raws.

It was a gloriously entertaining afternoon. ❤

The rest were basically spurred on by random, “Oh! What’s that title? I don’t remember reading this—OHHH. Yes I do. Yup. Yes, I doo~ooh——fuck, I’m actually already halfway through this one, aren’t I? Might as well finish reading it. 8DDDD”

Only Songs of Earth was re-read again for the sake of refreshing myself for the next book.

HOW I Felt After Re-Reading

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And I think that was pretty much for each and every book on this list. Nothing disappoints. XD

WOULD I Re-Read Again

I think the answer for all of them would be…

can i get a hell yeah

Repost “Kinda” Mini Review – KONOYO IBUN (March 25, 2014)

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Supernatural, Yaoi

Volumes: 7 (complete)

Released in English?: Only up to Vol. 3

In the immediate family of the story’s protagonist everyone seems to die early, and other relatives talk about a curse. When soon after his grandfather’s death he comes down with an incurable disease, and is overwhelmed by grief and loneliness, in desperation he remembers his grandfather’s last words — that somebody was watching over them. He can only find an odd fossil tooth where his grandfather had pointed, but when he picks it up and accidentally gets some of his blood on it, that summons a guardian spirit, who promises to cure him. Maybe he should be pleased, but said guardian has some strange methods for healing.

Side Story (about director Keiichiro & Tetsu-chan): “Konoyo Ibun Sono no San”

Source: MangaUpdates

Alternative Names:  A Strange and Mystifying Story (English); My Demon & Me (French)


My thoughts: I have always loved this story from the very first book. Sadly, however, it would seem that whoever the publisher was here in the States publishing it decides to bail and leave us all hanging at the 3rd book – which, by the way, I thought we were merely up-to-date and waiting for the managaka in Japan to finish making the next book already! @A@;;; I really don’t know what the say in terms of how I’ll get the rest of this series, but somehow or another I will. Basically I’m stuck with either buying it in French – since they finished their publication of it eons ago – or in the original Japanese. I’d probably want it in the Japanese since it’ll be in its completion that way, but I have very few options on where to purchase it. I’ll probably check out BookOff and YesAsia and even Amazon.jp but… I get the feeling I’m going to be hunting for this one for awhile. -A-;

That aside, I really loved this series. Don’t ask me why. It had something to do with the strange nature of the story being told, the genuine yet still fanciful qualities to the characters and their problem/solution to said problem. I’m 100% on how they eventually decide to work things out though. That much is entirely okay by me.

Rating:
5 Stars (for the 3 books I’ve read thus far)

REPOST Review – CRESTING TIDE (from March 27, 2014)

by Brenda Cothern
Format: E-BOOK
Themes: gay mermen, gay romance, nobility/royalty, hermaphrodite, intersex, mpreg
Genres: Romantic Fantasy

Peter, fleeing from an arranged marriage to a woman, stows away aboard a merchant ship only to be discovered and pitched into the sea. Floating upon the current and awaiting death, he is rescued by a mythical sea elf.

Cuke knew his curiosity with humans would only lead him to trouble but he never expected it would lead him to love. A love filled with complications as he is bound to his watery home.

Can the couple overcome the restrictions of their races and be the fathers to their unexpected child or are they destined to be torn apart by their different worlds?

Author Note:
Contains m/m and hermaphrodite sexual practices and is intended for readers of legal age in the country in which they reside.


My thoughts: I really enjoyed this particular story. I wish it had been a lot longer, or even sort of ended in such a way that we knew what happened to Cuke after [highlight for spoiler]he left his new family during the storm[/highlight]. I really hope the author will continue this with a follow-up story of some sort – either a sequel or a short novella thingy. SOMETHING. Ughhh

As of right now there is no sequel but I’ll make sure to be on the lookout for it.

Source: GoodReads | Amazon


2015 UPDATE:
And check this out! It’s got a newer cover image now!

81QF7k+C9ZL._SL1500_Newer review too (JAN 2015):

What a great romance! I have read this short a least a dozen or more times in the span of time since I’ve purchased it.

This story was based off the disney version of The Little Mermaid, and it’s cute. You can’t help but love it if you like anything relating to or even slightly hinting to that fairytale. These merfolk are hermaphroditic and can’t speak the human tongue, but boy are they interesting and the eventual trust, romance, and family building between our two heroes makes for one delightful read!

My one and only serious problem with this book was that it was TOO SHORT. The ending was well done, and I don’t have a problem with it… but I need a sequel. I need something else to help me deal with the events that happened in those last few pages of tragedy.

Rating: 4 Stars

It would have been 5 if it wasn’t so frickin short!!

[Mini Review] Myth and Magic: Queer Fairy Tales

21413938Myth and Magic: Queer Fairy Tales

edited by Radclyffe and Stacia Seaman

What rating would you give it?
4 of 5 Stars

What did you think of the book?

Pretty good considering. Any time I get to read an anthology or collection where half to 3/4 of the compiled stories I like is a sheer miracle! This one fits the bill so 4 stars! A fun and delightful weekend read! :3

Would you recommend this book?

I would definitely recommend, because there can never be enough queer fairytales out there!

Reviewed by AMS (amomentsilence)

Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Publication Date: December 2014
Format: eBook, ARC
Pages: 264
Genre: Fantasy, M/M Romance,
F/F Romance, QUILTBAG / LGBTQUIA,
Fairytales,
Age: Adult
Reviewer: AMS (amomentsilence)
Source: Provided by NetGalley
Challenge: 2014 Good Reads Reading Challenge (100)

 

[TBBR/Angry Rant] Duende (Mechanical Universe #2) by E.E Ottoman

This review took me FOREVER to actually type up. Not because of how long it was, but because of how angry I kept getting while editing it. -A-


Duende by E.E. Ottoman (author) • Less Than Three Press • 2014 •  37 pages

Blurb
(from GoodReads): Famed opera singer Aimé has a lot in common with Badri, the Royal Ballet Company’s most popular male lead. They have both dedicated their entire lives to their art, and struggle to be taken seriously among the Empire’s elite. And both harbor a secret admiration and desire for the other.

This year for his birthday Aimé treats himself to a night at the ballet seeing Badri perform, and after the show decides to meet Badri and confess his admiration for Badri’s skill. But when that first awkward meeting turns to more, they are left wondering if there is room in their lives for both career and romance…

Genre/Themes: Romance, Finding True Love, Castrato, AGS, Music & Theater, Ballet, Historical Fiction/Fantasy/Steampunk/IDK WHAT THIS IS

Got My Copy: e-ARC From NetGalley

Overall Rating: 2/2.5 of 5 stars

Review & Evaluation:
Characters: 3.5
Plot/Concept: 3
Delivery: 2.5
Message: 2.5

Thoughts?

I don’t even know what the hell this is. Short story? Steampunk? Fantasy? Continuation from another novel/book/short story/what-have-you? It just wasn’t clear. I will mention now though, that I haven’t read the first(??) book in this “apparent” universe? series?? whatever??? So maybe that is where my confusion is coming from… but some really simple freakin’ things could have alleviated that confusion. LIKE A SENTENCE SAYING “SERIES MUST BE READ IN ORDER.”

OR SOMETHING.

Because if that is the case, then it ABSOLUTELY needs to be stated or said somewhere in the book. That way other readers like myself would actually be able to understand context in the setting of that world… even if the primary characters are different in each book.

But enough of that. I’ll get more into the details of that later.

Taking into consideration that this e-ARC did not go through final proofing… I would conservatively say that it definitely needs some editing here and there, but otherwise… was a somewhat decent story. It won’t be winning any awards from me. I certainly wasn’t dazzled, but I didn’t hate it either. There were moments in it that I truly enjoyed, so that has to account for something. I guess… :/

Now here’s a bit of warning: This review is half ACTUAL, PROPER REVIEW and half TBBR and ranty and angry and GRRR!ARGGHHHHHLHKMFKD!  XD There is a DAMN GOOD REASON FOR THIS.

It is also long.

Like, REALLY long.

And a bit spoilery.

You have been warned.

Now back to the review…

Truth is, I have so many mixed feelings about this book. For one, I loved the premise and even how it started off, even if it was a little slow. But as it went on, more problems arose and I was just thrown left and right because of things that should have been minor, but ended up really bothering me.

I know the note in the front matter of this ARC said that what I was reading wasn’t the final proof, but still. Unless another 40 pages are being added to this book to:

  1. MAKE IT LONGER (It was far too short. And I’m not even saying this because I WANTED more. The story simply NEEDED MORE TO IT in order for it to even *work* as a finished story…) or
  2. FIX some really obnoxious world-building flaws and pitfalls…

…I doubt this story is going to get any better review from me. Sorry. :/

I was actually really hoping for something great to come out of this book… Not before I started reading it, but just after I got a few pages in. Duende immediately opened up with concepts and terminology I was unfamiliar with (and, as such, ignited my interest and curiosity). I avidly went to research and investigate this and that, because obviously EVERYONE is as much of a nerd as I am y/y?? XD For instance, I didn’t know what a castrato was or what it entailed before starting this book (though I did have a feeling…), and after learning more about them (and having my suspicions confirmed), I was intrigued. I wanted more, and I wanted to see the relationship between Aimè (our castrato) and Badri (our magnificent ballet dancer) really go somewhere—

But it sort of… fell short? I don’t even know. It just didn’t do anything of what I thought it would… And I’m not even talking about lack of sex in the book or anything. The amount was fine. The way it happened perhaps… ehh, not so much. The courtship was also… meh… alright. I had no problem with some of the interesting places they went to for their dates and such. There was just something definitely missing from this book overall, which is a real shame. I wanted to enjoy it so much. In the end, I was just really confused when it was over.

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[Book Review] Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

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This is an old review, but I still feel pretty much the same about it now as I did then.

Maybe even more in love with it, but yeah… XD

I added all sorts of different covers because they all capture the essence of the book in different ways. Plus they’re gorgeous and why not share? 😉

*This book was also used in a booktalk for class.


Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin • 1969 • Ace Science Fiction • 320 pages

“[A] science fiction masterpiece.”

– Newsweek

Genre/Theme: Science Fiction, Social Issues, Gender Identity, AGS, Speculative Fiction, Feminism (or so I’ve heard… 😕 )

Synopsis: On the planet Winter, there is no gender. The Gethenians can become male or female during each mating cycle, and this is something that humans find incomprehensible.

The Ekumen of Known Worlds has sent an ethnologist to study the Gethenians on their forbidding, ice-bound world. At first he finds his subjects difficult and off-putting, with their elaborate social systems and alien minds. But in the course of a long journey across the ice, he reaches an understanding with one of the Gethenians—it might even be a kind of love…

Brief Summary: Genly Ai is an emissary from the human galaxy to Winter, a lost, stray world. His mission is to bring the planet back into the fold of an evolving galactic civilization, but to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own culture and prejudices and those that he encounters. On a planet where people are of no gender—or both—this is a broad gulf indeed.

Evaluation: 5 thousand zillion of 5 stars XD (I would even give it even more stars because… WORLD-BUILDING UNF)

1-2 things you liked:

  • EVERYTHING GDNLSGnkgdnklgndklsndlsgndSNGDLGNdlkndlgkn *FOAMS AT MOUTH*
  • The theme
  • INSANE WORLD-BUILDING (*PTERODACTYL SCREECHING*) I could NOT put it down!
  • Writing style (especially how the story isn’t linear)
  • The characters (and all their surprises)
  • ESTRAVEN. Nuff said.
  • This is one of my favorite books of all time from waay back when.

1-2 things you didn’t like:

  • The ending (because I was rooting for the main characters to somehow stay together)
  • This isn’t a dislike, but a suggestion and warning: This book is not an easy read and might come across as too clinical or even a bit strange to follow. There are several mini-stories that take place at once, which can throw the inattentive reader for a loop.

Would you recommend this book?: YES. Who would I recommend it to? Everyone haha~ XD I loved this book so much. It does have some sexuality to in it, but no actual sex or make-out scenes so even kids could read it (I don’t know how much they’d be able to understand… but I would have no problem recommending this book to an avid reader regardless of age). As already mention, the book follows closely the strangeness of the Gethens, which are a hermaphrodite race of humanoids that sort of go through a heat cycle every month becoming either male or female ONLY during that time. So… yeah. If the reader is interested in speculative fiction, this is definitely a book they need to have in their mental inventory. 😉

Looking Back (Current Thoughts & Eval): As mentioned before and in many other posts, this is one of my favourite books of ALL TIME for execution of theme, writing style, believability, character development, and world-building. Not too many books get a full five out of five stars from me for those five key areas. There is just something really memorable and… special about this book. It stays with you. It haunts your thoughts. I am and always have been highly interested in the fluidity of gender and sex, so this was a spectacular journey into the extra kind of speculative fiction I love reading about. 🙂

The only that still drives me crazy TO THIS DAY is that ending, because FJLSNGDKANGKLDNAKGNDL WHYYYY and also WAS NOT EXPECTING THAT THANKS NO THANKS 

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But yeah… XD besides that, fantastic book.

EVERYONE GO READ NOW.

emma-stone-excited

[Book Review] I Am J by Cris Beam

I-am-J

This is an old review, though I still feel the same about it now as I did then.

*This book was also used in a booktalk for class.


I Am J by Cris Beam • 2011 • Little, Brown Books for Young Readers • 352 pages

“A wonderful addition to the few novels that have dared to tackle a subject that has long lived in the cultural margins. . .a tender, surprisingly relatable story.”

The Los Angeles Times

Genre/Theme: Identity, Gender, Gender Identity, Transgender, Trans Teens, Isolation, Acceptance, Bullying, Self-Discovery, FtM

Brief Summary: This book tells of the young J, a transgendered boy and the struggles he faces as he learns to love himself and become the person he knows himself to be.

Evaluation: 3.75 of 5 stars

1-2 things you liked:

  • That it WASN’T in first person. I feel as though in today’s YA novels, especially the fiction, there is too much first person narrative – namely because it seems the “cool” thing to do, supposedly making the character’s story more personable and relatable to the reader. To me, it seems like such a cop-out. Yes, in some books, it really does draw the reader in, but too often, the author uses the first person narrative to “get away” with not writing decent narration, exposition, character development and individualized characters thoughts. The fact that this book was in third person really helped me see J as a person, not putting me into J’s shoes by using the allegation of “I did this” or “I did that”.
  • J, in general, as a character. He was flawed. He wasn’t perfect. I loved that. I don’t want some perfect transperson who — of course — acts so respectfully of everything and everyone around them. I wanted someone who was a little bit of what we don’t expect. Someone who we might even roll our eyes at and say, “What even, man? Really? You gotta be that way?” J was that person. J felt real to me, and I felt everything J went through in this book without feeling like everything was a pity-party or that the author was trying to preach to me to be accepting and understand J’s situation. J was an ass at times. And he felt sorry for himself at others. And sometimes I hated him. But that was great.
  • That he was Jewish AND Puerto Rican. You really don’t see that sort of combination in books, YA or otherwise. So… diversity! WOO-HOO! 🙂

1-2 things you didn’t like:

  • The aggressive amount of misogyny and homophobia infused in J. Like I said, I love that he wasn’t perfect. But sometimes this was a little excessive. I mean, I can understand where this guy is coming from. Honestly I can. I went through my own period of hating women (I realized later that I just hated everyone, though at the time women were really doing a job pissing me off right and left. 😀 Now though, I can classify myself — with utmost certainty — as an unbiased misanthrope instead of a total misogynist. Hey hey! XD ) J, on the otherhand, held fast to the fact that it’s totally OK to be a dick! Because, “Hey! I’m going through shit and this is a sure-fire way to be a MAN.”

    Yeah, no. Only complete dicks — regardless of gender — act that way. So, y’know, it’s a little irritating to say the least.

Would you recommend this book?: Probably.

Looking Back (Current Thoughts & Eval): For the target age (which is 9 and Up) I think the book might have been a little too graphic in terms of content. Granted, I remember reading books 9000x more graphic, gory, and explicit than this book when I was 9. And even younger. Then again… I was always a little weird. XD Either way, it would depend on the individual, I think. Personally, I think this book’s a little more suited for those a bit older, but hey! Hopefully there are more people out there like me when I was that age and can (1) actually understand the content and material, and (2) not be too freaked out by things like [SPOILER ALERT!! PLEASE HIGHLIGHT]a transgendered boy getting and/or talking about getting their breasts cut off[END SPOILER].

I still believe this book to be a wonderful read (even with J being a really depressing little shit) and definitely enlightening for those going through similar situations, thinking about taking the life-changing process of sex-change surgery, or those who have friends, family, or children that feel they were born into the wrong body or assigned the wrong gender as babies. It also peaks into the mind of a person questioning gender identity, and tackling gender norms and stereotypes, even if they don’t really come to the most accepted conclusion about it.

Normally, I don’t read many trans-themed books (at least not knowingly) but this one really caught my attention and held it from front to back. This book is certainly not for everyone, but I would still recommend it to anyone looking for something poignant, memorable, and glimpsing into the life of someone quite different (or startling similar) to themselves.

 

10 Fantasy and SF Books with QUILTBAG Themes

I feel it important to state that the books compiled for many of my booklists are not necessarily personal recommendations, as I often have not read them all myself. Unless stated as personal favs, or as reviewed material, just presume the books I share are simply intriguing titles I’d like to read or that I’ve recently found and decided to share with you based on the theme, topic, or (most likely) my own random spur of the moment decision.

If anyone has actually read the titles, let me know! Comment or share your opinion. I’d love to hear what you have to say~ 🙂

The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson and Sarah Rees Brennan (YA, Fantasy)

Book description: Ten short stories about bisexual, half-Asian warlock Magnus Bane from Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices trilogies.

The Culling by Steven dos Santos (YA, SciFi)

Book description: Recruitment Day is here…if you fail, a loved one will die

For Lucian “Lucky” Spark, Recruitment Day means the Establishment, a totalitarian government, will force him to become one of five Recruits competing to join the ruthless Imposer task force. Each Recruit participates in increasingly difficult and violent military training for a chance to advance to the next level. Those who fail must choose an “Incentive”—a family member—to be brutally killed. If Lucky fails, he’ll have to choose death for his only living relative: Cole, his four-year-old brother.

Lucky will do everything he can to keep his brother alive, even if it means sacrificing the lives of other Recruits’ loved ones. What Lucky isn’t prepared for is his undeniable attraction to the handsome, rebellious Digory Tycho. While Lucky and Digory train together, their relationship grows. But daring to care for another Recruit in a world where love is used as the ultimate weapon is extremely dangerous. As Lucky soon learns, the consequences can be deadly…

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin (SciFi)

Book description: Genly Ai is an emissary from the human galaxy to Winter, a lost, stray world. His mission is to bring the planet back into the fold of an evolving galactic civilization, but to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own culture and prejudices and those that he encounters. On a planet where people are of no gender–or both–this is a broad gulf indeed.

Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire (Fantasy, Parallel Novel)

Book description: The Wicked Years continue in Gregory Maguire’s Son of a Witch—the heroic saga of the hapless yet determined young man who may or may not be the offspring of the fabled Wicked Witch of the West. A New York Times bestseller like its predecessor, the remarkable Wicked, Son of a Witch follows the boy Liir on his dark odyssey across an ingeniously re-imagined and nearly unrecognizable Land of Oz—a journey that will take him deep into the bowels of the Emerald City, lately abandoned by the Wizard, and into the jaws of dragons. At once a grim fairy tale and an uplifting adventure, Son of a Witch is a true wonder.

The Elemental Logic series (Fire Logic, Earth Logic, Water Logic, Air Logic) by Laurie J. Marks (Fantasy)

Book description: The Elemental Logic series by Laurie J. Marks is set in the world of Shaftal. The series tells the story of Shaftal in four separate but chronological novels. Book 3, Water Logic, is published by Small Beer Press and released June, 2007.

Fire. Earth. Water. Air.

These elements have sustained the peaceful people of Shaftal for generations, with their subtle powers of intuition, healing, joy, and truth. But now Shaftal has been overrun, and the ancient logic of the land is being replaced by the logic of hatred.

Hero by Perry Moore (YA, Fantasy Superhero)

Book description: The last thing in the world Thom Creed wants is to add to his father’s pain, so he keeps secrets. Like that he has special powers. And that he’s been asked to join the League the very organization of superheroes that spurned his dad. But the most painful secret of all is one Thom can barely face himself: he’s gay.

But becoming a member of the League opens up a new world to Thom. There, he connects with a misfit group of aspiring heroes, including Scarlett, who can control fire but not her anger; Typhoid Larry, who can make anyone sick with his touch; and Ruth, a wise old broad who can see the future. Like Thom, these heroes have things to hide; but they will have to learn to trust one another when they uncover a deadly conspiracy within the League.

To survive, Thom will face challenges he never imagined. To find happiness, he’ll have to come to terms with his father’s past and discover the kind of hero he really wants to be.

Cloud Atlas by David Moore (Fantasy, SciFi)

Review From Publisher’s Weekly: At once audacious, dazzling, pretentious and infuriating, Mitchell’s third novel weaves history, science, suspense, humor and pathos through six separate but loosely related narratives. Like Mitchell’s previous works, Ghostwritten and number9dream (which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize), this latest foray relies on a kaleidoscopic plot structure that showcases the author’s stylistic virtuosity. Each of the narratives is set in a different time and place, each is written in a different prose style, each is broken off mid-action and brought to conclusion in the second half of the book. Among the volume’s most engaging story lines is a witty 1930s-era chronicle, via letters, of a young musician’s effort to become an amanuensis for a renowned, blind composer and a hilarious account of a modern-day vanity publisher who is institutionalized by a stroke and plans a madcap escape in order to return to his literary empire (such as it is). Mitchell’s ability to throw his voice may remind some readers of David Foster Wallace, though the intermittent hollowness of his ventriloquism frustrates. Still, readers who enjoy the “novel as puzzle” will find much to savor in this original and occasionally very entertaining work.

Pantomime by Laura Lam (Fantasy)

Book description: R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada. Nestled among the glowing blue Penglass – remnants of a mysterious civilisation long gone – are wonders beyond the wildest imagination. It’s a place where anything seems possible, where if you close your eyes you can believe that the magic and knowledge of the vanished Chimaera  is still there. It’s a place where anyone can hide.

Iphigenia Laurus, or Gene, the daughter of a noble family, is uncomfortable in corsets and crinoline, and prefers climbing trees to debutante balls. Micah Grey, a runaway living on the streets, joins the circus as an aerialist’s apprentice and soon becomes the circus’s rising star. But Gene and Micah have balancing acts of their own to perform, and a secret in their blood that could unlock the mysteries of Ellada.

The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan (Fantasy)

Book description: A dark lord will rise. Such is the prophecy that dogs Ringil Eskiath—Gil, for short—a washed-up mercenary and onetime war hero whose cynicism is surpassed only by the speed of his sword. Gil is estranged from his aristocratic family, but when his mother enlists his help in freeing a cousin sold into slavery, Gil sets out to track her down. But it soon becomes apparent that more is at stake than the fate of one young woman. Grim sorceries are awakening in the land. Some speak in whispers of the return of the Aldrain, a race of widely feared, cruel yet beautiful demons. Now Gil and two old comrades are all that stand in the way of a prophecy whose fulfillment will drown an entire world in blood. But with heroes like these, the cure is likely to be worse than the disease.

The Drowning Girl by Caitlin R. Kiernan (YA, Fantasy)

Book description: India Morgan Phelps-Imp to her friends-is schizophrenic. Struggling with her perceptions of reality, Imp must uncover the truth about her encounters with creatures out of myth-or from something far, far stranger…

Shadowman by Melissa Scott (SciFi)

Book description: In the far future, human culture has developed five distinctive genders due to the effects of a drug easing sickness from faster-than-light travel. But on the planet Hara, where society is increasingly instability, caught between hard-liner traditions and the realities of life, only male and female genders are legal, and the “odd-bodied” population are forced to pass as one or the other. Warreven Stiller, a lawyer and an intersexed person, is an advocate for those who have violated Haran taboos. When Hara regains contact with the Concord worlds, Warreven finds a larger role in breaking the long-standing role society has forced on “him,” but the search for personal identity becomes a battleground of political intrigue and cultural clash.


These look pretty interesting (some of which I’ve already started or finished reading!) Ahhh~ So many books! So little time!