[Review] Choco Strawberry Vanilla [チョコストロベリー バニラ] by Delico Psyche (manga)

Choco Strawberry Vanilla
Choco Strawberry Vanilla

Delico Psyche

What rating would you give it?
5 of 5 Stars

Give us a summary.

Hiroi always shared what he liked, things and people alike, with his childhood friend Take. Take always returned Hiroi’s affections. Mine, who because of his deep love for Hiroi, accepts both of them. The relationship of these three classmates was in a good balance, but because of a subtle change in their feelings, this balance slowly gets unhinged…?!

What did you think of the book?

That was delicious. I am so glad I decided to read this. I’m not one to read threesome stories, but this one was DELISH. The relationship between the three MCs is not one of love per se, but it is addicting to watch unfold as the chapters progress. Abusive at times, tender at others, twisted throughout.

I totally get Hiroi’s need to “share” his things with his best friend Take, although I can understand why other people don’t. That’s actually the most fascinating part of this story, the relationship between Hiroi and Take. How they see themselves and how they see themselves fitting into the world and WHY this sort of relationship and behavior for them is natural. Also like parasitic or even conjoined twins, except in verse. They almost share one mind while inhabiting two bodies and somehow navigating through life in this manner. For them, “what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is yours and you are me and I am you” is just their perpetual state of being.

Mine is also a strangely complex character, namely for being able to not only put up with this bizarre relationship, but also for eventually finding his own rhythm in it — one which he even finds to “dislike less” than he once did (which is actually his tsundere self saying he’s lovin’ it, freak that he be, bless his soul. <3)

Such great storytelling without getting into too much. Letting us see into each character’s mindset, getting to know their very different, but also similar personalities. Seeing how important each one is in different ways and just… UGHHH

This was good. This was SO. GOOD.

All the stars. ALL OF THEM.

Delico Psyche you haven’t failed me yet. Another great job!!

PS – For those of you planning to or already giving this a one star rating b/c you were looking for some sappy lovey-dovey shit, go elsewhere. This story has a HEA ending of sorts, but it’s not all roses and butterflies and puppy dog tails. There’s a reason it’s called “CHOCO STRAWBERRY VANILLA.” Choco = sadomasochist, Strawberry = Sadist, Vanilla = Masochist. I’ll let you all decide who’s who in this savagely beautiful throuple.

Any warnings you wish to make for your readers?

God, if you only knew. XD I can’t even begin to describe what to warn about. Umm… let’s just say there isn’t anything like… torture or anything like that. It’s just REALLY messed up with SO MUCH EMOTIONAL MANIPULATION GOING ON. LORD.

Does it count towards any reading challenges?

Just the two…

Would you recommend this book?

OHMYGOD

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GO GET IT.

(Just keep all the warnings in mind before you read it. That’s all. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

Reviewed by AMS (amomentsilence)

Publisher: —
Publication Date: September 2013
Format: Paperback
Pages: 190
Genre & Themes: Yaoi, Erotica, M/M/M Threesome, Romance,
Slice of Life, Smut, Dubcon,
LGBTQUAI+, Polyamory, Bisexual, Jealousy, Group Intercourse, Emotional Manipulation
Age: Adult (18+)
Reviewer: AMS (amomentsilence)
Source: Bought
Challenge: 2019 GoodReads Reading Challenge, 2019 M3W2 Reading Challenge 

[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.

giphy.

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

[Book Review] Losing Ground by Sasha L. Miller

23904009
Losing Ground

Sasha L. Miller

What rating would you give it?
3.75/4 of 5 Stars

Give us a summary.

(Goodreads Description)
Carter Bellwood’s family has Earth-claimed the Bellwood territory for generations and they’ve always had an excess of Earth energy to back it up. Until Carter, whose energy is barely a fraction of that his mother has. But he’s the only Earth wizard in his generation and set to inherit the territory—if there’s anything left of it. The territory is being ravaged by a disease that kills all plant life it comes into contact with. They can’t cure it, can barely contain it, can only watch as their territory turns into a barren landscape.

Then a new Earth wizard shows up. Tai is everything Carter is not when it comes to the strength of his magic, and more importantly he knows how to cure the disease. But he’s also terrified and clearly on the run from something, and Carter’s not sure Tai’s help is worth the risk of him trying to stake his own claim on the territory—or the risk that whatever he’s running from finds him…

What did you think of the book?

I honest to goodness enjoyed this story.

I found the world-building satisfying enough, although I would have liked more of it.

The pacing was good, a little slow at times, but still okay. I actually didn’t find this story boring like some readers did. It was actually kind of refreshing actually to see a real “slice of life” kinda story revolving around earth elementals that didn’t involve them fighting monsters or being warrior elves or being super badass or anything like that. Just… regular folk who take care of their territories, people, and land.

There was just enough intrigue about who Tai was and his mysterious power tho keep the story from getting truly boring or dragged out. (Although I do wish had been explained as to WHY…)

Plus the friendship and relationship between Tai and Carter was worth it. Much more believable than some of these insta-love situations M/M books are so often guilty of.

So yeah. That’s my take on it. Definitely one I’ll revisit at a later date to see how I still feel about it. For now? I’m loving it.

Any warnings you wish to make for your readers?

Nothing particularly out of the ordinary.

One of the main characters gets hit by a car, but y’know. No big deal.  (His words, not mine! xD)

Does it count towards any reading challenges?

Tons and tons, per usual.

Would you recommend this book?

Yeah, I’d say so. But I’d warn that if you don’t like books that don’t have action driving them or if you get bored easily, this might not be the book for you. The biggest issue with this book for me (besides the anti-climate ending) was that there were more than enough slow moments. I know that’s a deal-breaker for many readers, so just be aware.

Otherwise, enjoy! 🙂

Reviewed by AMS (amomentsilence)

Publisher:  Les Than Three Press
Publication Date: March 2015
Format: eBook, RvC
Pages: 140
Genre & Themes: Fantasy, M/M Romance,
Bisexual/Gay Sexualities, Magic, Elemental
Powers, Wizard, Diseased Lands
Age: Adult
Reviewer: AMS (amomentsilence)
Source: Provided by NetGalley
Challenge2015 Good Reads Reading Challenge (156),
52 Books in 52 WeeksYou Read How Many Books?,
Read A Million Pages105 Reading Challenge,
2015 New To You Reading Challenge,
NetGalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge,

[Book Review] The Dragon’s Curse by Victoria Zagar


25080011
The Dragon’s Curse

Victoria Zagar

What rating would you give it?
3 of 5 Stars

Give us a summary.

(Goodreads Description)
War is brewing between the Greenlands and the Summer Kingdom, despite the efforts of Lord Aidan and Prince Varion, who have been meeting in secret in an attempt to maintain peace. When war proves inevitable, Aidan offers Varion asylum, loathe to see the man he’s come to care about become his enemy.

But Varion refuses, sacrificing safety and his own desires to stay in the Summer Kingdom in order to protect his little brother from their ruthless father. The two men instead declare a blood oath to always protect each other, an oath that will see them through war, transformation, and a deadly curse…

What did you think of the book?

I liked it. I mean there were moments when I just couldn’t, but it was still a satisfying read. It started out soooooooo strong and promising, even as it began to taper off at the end and eventually fizzled out with that ending. But all in all, I enjoyed it while it lasted.

World-building was acceptable, though I would have preferred to see more of it better visualized.

Characters, save for the brother Tiernon, were all quite likeable, and I was seriously rooting for a good many (especially two very old dads). That being said, that damned kid though made me wanna vomit. I can understand where he’s coming from with his decisions in life, especially since it was driven by fear of their father, but damn. A true survivalist would have taken the offer from Varion and left with him a long freaking time ago. Tiernon’s ultimate decisions just made him an unforgivable little shit.

Lastly, I will end by saying one thing though:

“MAGNIFICENT SCALED COCK”

Yeah…. the answer is NO. A RESOUNDING, EMPATHIC NO.

Me and this book could have done without that, thank you very much.

Any warnings you wish to make for your readers?

Sexual situations (eventually) and some general violence, but nothing really out of the ordinary or trigger worthy.

Does it count towards any reading challenges?

Tons and tons, per usual.

Would you recommend this book?

 

Uhh… I’m torn. Though I liked how it began, I can’t really say I’d definitely recommend it to someone who asks. It fell short in too many areas, only just getting the “like” status for the characters – which I really DID like quite a bit.

So… toss-up?

Reviewed by AMS (amomentsilence)

Publisher:  Les Than Three Press
Publication Date: June 2015
Format: eBook, RvC
Pages: 86
Genre & Themes: DRAGONS!!!, Fantasy,
M/M Romance, Bisexual/Gay Sexualities,
Magic, Politics, War, Paranormal, Betrayal,
Terrible Dad Of The Year Award, Greatest Dad
Of The Year Award, Family, Vows, Promises,
Goddesses,
Age: Adult
Reviewer: AMS (amomentsilence)
Source: Provided by NetGalley
Challenge2015 Good Reads Reading Challenge (155),
52 Books in 52 WeeksYou Read How Many Books?,
Read A Million Pages105 Reading Challenge,
2015 New To You Reading Challenge,
NetGalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge,
2015 LGBT Reading Challenge

[Book TBBReview] In Despair (Princes of the Blood, Book 3)

In Despair

(Princes of the Blood, Book 3)

Megan Derr

What rating would you give it?
4.5 of 5 Stars

Give us a summary.

(Taken from GoodReads)
Prince Telmé Guldbrandsen has been groomed since childhood to become a Prince of the Blood and Commander of the Legion. He will be the youngest person to ever take the Blooding—if he can behave long enough to prove he can be trusted with the responsibility. But behaving is difficult when he is constantly forced to endure Korin: heir to the Reach of the House and the Temple of the Sacred Three, and the snotty brat Telmé is expected to someday marry.

Then the unthinkable happens, leaving Castle Guldbrandsen—and the Legion—in pieces. Overwhelmed by fear and grief, Telmé convinces Korin to help him attempt the impossible. But rather than relief, Telmé’s triumph is met with anger and rejection …

What did you think of the book?

Note of point, I originally sorta skimmed In Despair on 1/22/15, but didn’t actually pick up the book to read until later. 🙂

Now, onto the review!

I gotta say, this wasn’t what I was expecting. AT ALL.

Thankfully, that means it was FANTASTIC and HIGHLY ENTERTAINING and WHOLLY PRECIOUS all rolled up in one.

I think, this one might just be my favour–second favourite in the series. XD I don’t know if I can ever like it better than the first book, which absolutely captured my imagination and made me fall in love with the wonder of this world, its characters, its customs, and its obvious build-up of potential storytelling that only grew and grew with each and every book. As I mentioned before in my review of With Pride, I truly love the aspect of moving backwards in time as you read each novel of this series, how with each book it builds on the last even as you descend further and further back in the original cast of characters’ lives. This story tells of the fateful events that led to Telme and Korin becoming the serious power-couple they are, as the youngest EVER Commander of the Legion and High Priest of the Sacred Three. I always wanted to know how they came to be who they were, ever since the first book when it was so obvious there was a story to be told there. I couldn’t have been happier with the results this book provided.

Now, lemme first start by saying — what little shits you both were! XDDD

god i hate you

oh my GOD you are both SO annoying but I can’t help but love you even more anyway ❤

What I really, REALLY did not understand, or perhaps didn’t grasp from the first novel, was that they were betrothed and – at least in Telme’s case – Blooded so young. (Telme wasn’t so bad since he was at least 17, but damn! Korin was only 15!) Furthermore, I didn’t realize they were such… oh, what’s the word? oh yes – BRATS for pretty much the duration of their ENTIRE younger lives. XD Hell – in fact, they never grew out of it (which I LOVE, by the way! XD) and continued to be as infuriating as they grew older. They just got a lot better at hiding it in front of others. XD I was really happy to be able to see them in a light that showed… that they were normal, average teenagers too. (Well, as normal and average as one could be given their circumstances.) They fought each other. They got emotional. They were both the most adorable crybabies, completely warranted for crying at the horrifying, COMPLETELY UNWARRANTED, fucked up, unbelievable events that literally turned their lives upside-down in a matter of days. And then kept their lives IN DESPAIR (aha? Aha? See what I did there? ;D ;D ) for longer than I think MY OWN sanity would have allowed before I tore the whole kingdom down and showed them what it means to be a half-demon.

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Which only shows that Telme is seriously a better person than me. I wouldn’t have endured that crap for as long as he did. And Korin, too – although he needed to stop whining so much throughout the book. That’s probably my only quip. That, and the abrupt… uh… sorta ending because I would have really liked to see what happened after they walked into that hall [highlight for spoiler] after they defeated the Incubus and went to check to see if people still hated their guts or not[/end spoiler]. I also think the book would have been better had Korin’s side of the story been seen as much as Telme’s… Y’know. So we could get the chance to sympathize a little more with his troubles and worries, instead of just hearing him complain about it or only seeing it from Telme’s occasional glimpses into the disrespectful actions of the Priests and the rest of the Legion towards him. Those mere glimpses seemed overshadowed by the utter ridiculousness of Telme’s situation, and I think if we had followed Korin around in some chapters instead of Telme, seen how bad it was for him as well, I (at least) would have had a bit more sympathy for him. As it was, I often found myself groaning whenever I heard Korin once again go off in a rage, and only sometimes caught myself to remember that he had it just as bad, if not worse in the long run.

That being said… I really enjoyed this book. I wasn’t quite expecting some of the theatrics those two pulled in their misadventures or the turn of events that transpired in the walls of Castle Guldbrandsen, but hell, was it an amazing ride!

Highly recommended!

Any warnings you wish to make for your readers?

Ehh… not really. There’s the usual blood and gore and youngins in bad situations, but nothing too horrific or graphic that you’ll lose your stomach. Some underage sexual situations, but no actual sex in this book.

Does it count towards any reading challenges?

As per usual:

Would you recommend this book?

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I think I said that already!

A P.S. for any potential readers: Although this series does NOT have to be read in order, I have the feeling that the reader would enjoy it better if read in its proper book order (books 1-2-3) and not in its time order (books 3-2-1). And if anyone wants to completely skip around, I would still suggest this book be read last. Something about… getting to meet these two in their older and, ehem, “wiser” selves first AND THEN reading about their teenage bumbling (and super-duper-holy-crap-rockin-woozers! heroics, too) makes it so much more… refreshing, I guess? It all sorta comes full circle to see that underneath those masks of professionalism are still two boys, who are still brats, but are also still so very much in love.

Reviewed by AMS (amomentsilence)

Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Publication Date: July 2014
Format: ebook, RvC
Pages: 221
Genre / Themes: Medieval Fantasy, Bisexual,
Paranormal, M/M Romance, Magic, QUILTBAG /
LGBTQUIA, Shifters, Demons, Pseudo-vampires,
Coming of Age, Idiot Teenagers, Royalty,
Nobility, Misunderstanding, War, Monsters,
Arranged Marriages, Love+Hate Relationships
Age: Young Adult / Adult (I think…)
Reviewer: AMS (amomentsilence)
Source: Provided upon request by Publisher/Author
Challenge2015 Good Reads Reading Challenge (21),
52 Books in 52 WeeksYou Read How Many Books?,
Read A Million Pages105 Reading Challenge,
Readathon Day 2015, 2015 LGBT Reading Challenge,
2015 Monthly Motifs & Keyword Reading Challenge,
Ethereal 2015,

[Play Review] The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer

The Normal Heart

Larry Kramer

What rating would you give it?
4 of 5 Stars

Breakdown is as follows:

Actual rating is both…
3.75 Stars (mostly due to the unremarkable writing)

and 5 stars (for the incredible, heartbreaking tragedy that can’t even be described as a “story,” for it effected too many lives, brings rage to my heart some thirty years later, and tore apart a man who was simply trying to be the voice of a denied people)

Thus, to be fair, it gets a rounded 4 stars so we’re even.

Give us a summary.

(From Goodreads)
THE NORMAL HEART is the explosive drama about our most terrifying and troubling medical crisis today: the AIDS epidemic. It tells the story of very private lives caught up in the heart-rendering ordeal of suffering and doom – an ordeal that was largely ignored for reasons of politics and majority morality.

Filled with power, anger, and intelligence, Larry Kramer’s riveting play dramatizes what actualy happened from the time of the disease’s discovery to the present, and points a moral j’accuse in many directions. His passionate indictment of government, the media, and the public for refusing to deal with a national plague is electrifying theater – a play that finally breaks through the conspiracy of silence with a shout of stunning impact. As Douglas Watt summed it up in his review for the New York Daily News,THE NORMAL HEART is “an angry, unremitting and gripping piece of political theater. You are bound to come away moved.”

What did you think of this play?

Now, I want to say something about this understandably powerful play – I think… seeing it would have been more beneficial and successful an endeavor than simply reading it. Watching the actors put on the performance of a lifetime and searing into your eyes, your mind, your… very soul the profound impact of a government turning its back on its own people, simply because of their sexuality or social-economic backgrounds. Realizing that had they done something sooner, helped – people sooner… much of the tragedy of AIDS would not have spread so quickly or so staggeringly throughout the U.S.; a country supposedly in the height of First World privilege.

I was über curious about this play from the moment I heard Mark Ruffalo would be making a movie from a play of the same name. I can’t say I ever heard about it prior to that (which – I know – is a tragedy all in itself) but I’m thankful to have been able to read this and have the events through this play now part of my life.

I try not to read books about the HIV-AIDS epidemic (or the horrors of black slavery, or the Holocaust, or native american “relocation”), not because I want to close my eyes to the situation, but because I am too acutely aware of exactly what is going on. Sometimes, to have to relive it again and again in books sometimes more appalling than one might expect, is just too much.

This play has that sort of effect on you. You read it, and suddenly you are there in 1981, and you live through that four year period of utter hell. You see a government… a free, representative democracy, a “by the people, for the people” government…literally fuck everyone over by ignoring the cries of their gay citizens, by refusing to be involved with the gay cancer, by default… aiding in the spread of the disease. The overall writing might have been mediocre, but – let me tell you – the message was loud and clear.

My heart goes out to Ned, who feels like he hasn’t done enough; to Dr. Brookner who’s righteous anger mirrors my own so clearly; to all the men, women, and others of varying genders who suffered because their voices weren’t heard. We hear you. Even if it took thirty years – gods… we hear you.

Does it count towards any reading challenges?

Sure does~ Although it was specifically read for the 2015 Play On Reading Challenge, it also fits these challenges as well:

Would you recommend this book?

ohyeahIf for no other reason than to educate yourself on a topic very often pushed under the rug. As I said before, the writing itself could use some work, but the message definitely outweighs the faults in this one.

So, GET TO IT!

Reviewed by AMS (amomentsilence)

Published: October 29, 1985 (by Plume)
Format: PDF
Pages: 128
Genre & Themes: Play, Theatre, Queer, LGBT,
QUILTBAG, Drama, AIDS epidemic, American
History, Politics, Human Rights, Activism,
Closeted Gays, Morality (Or The Lack Thereof)
Age: Adult
Reviewer: AMS (amomentsilence)
Source: jcc rochester. Click here.
Challenge2015 Good Reads Reading Challenge (79),
52 Books in 52 WeeksYou Read How Many Books?,
Read A Million Pages105 Reading Challenge,
2015 Play On Reading Challenge2015 LGBT Challenge,
2015 New To You 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

[Manga TBBR Review] The Antique Bakery v.1

Antique Bakery v.1

(Antique Bakery, #1)

Fumi Yoshinaga

What rating would you give it?
4 of 5 Stars

Give us a summary.

(Taken from Goodreads)
Ono has come a long way since the agonizing day in high school when he confessed his love to handsome Tachibana. Now, some 14 years later Ono, a world-class pastry chef and outed playboy has it all. No man can resist Ono’s charms (or his cooking skills!) but he has just found a new position under a man named Tachibana. Can this be the only man who resisted his charms, and if so, will the man who once snubbed the “magically gay” Ono get his just desserts? And how in the heck did a former middleweight boxing champion wind up as Ono’s cake boy?

What did you think of the book?

First off – I’d like to mention that this is a RE-READ. I originally read this book back when it first came out in the US in 2005 (and the rest of the series thereafter). I think having seen the anime – which did a fabulous job capturing the nature of the manga – really helped with this secondary read-through. I followed the story better this time, laughed at their antics and the idea of someone being “magically gay” (such people do exist, ya know! I’ve met a couple of ’em xD), and even picked up some things I didn’t catch the first time (which are later revealed in the following books or focused on in the anime).

It’s a light, fluffy, entertaining story with surprisingly deep characters (as will be revealed later on as the series progresses). I think the major reason I originally picked up volume 1 was because I was finished with everything else and needed another yaoi/shounen ai book to read. The fact that it was a foodie manga really didn’t cross my mind until I started reading it and it dawned on me that I was beginning a new series… entirely about food.

And gays.

But mostly food.

These-Things-Happen-Calligraphy-l

Now I’m generally not a “foodie” by any standard. I think this book may very well have been one of the first I ever read where the plot or featured story/setting revolves around food. I was already watching an anime called Yakitate!! Japan…. which is about bread. Yes, you read right: BREAD. Only MasterChef style with competitions and crazy challenges and competitors and shit. And comedy. DID I MENTION COMEDY?!

So naturally I figured, “If I can watch a show about BREAD (THAT’S IT, MAN! That’s ALL THE SHOW IS ABOUT), then I can definitely read a book about pastries. And demonic gays—WTF.”

It was probably a good thing that I already had Yakitate!! Japan under my belt because Antique Bakery definitely went off on an entirely different tangent, one that – while being interesting, amusing to all hell, and mellow at the same time – would probably not have held my interest as much Yakitate!! did. I’d never once considered the thought that food books would be something of interest to me. So starting off with Antique may or may not have worked for me otherwise.

Some things that resonated with me quite strongly though, was the character’s struggles to be accepted for all their reasons. At the time when I first read this book, a lot was going on in my own life that – strange as this sounds – paralleled the situations of the main cast.

Thankfully no one was magically gay.

Okay so that might not be true.

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As it was now, I felt quite a bit of nostalgia reading volume 1. I kept thinking back to the crazy antics of my own mates and I, and how hard it was for us to be accepted for the things we did or liked to do. Breaking stereotypes or living up to them. Both very difficult feats to accomplish, if you ask me. So I, once again, applaud the cast of Antique Bakery for sticking to their guns. Even if it cost them dearly.

In the end, everything works out. And that’s something to celebrate. 🙂

Any warnings you wish to make for your readers?

Not that I know of. I mean… there’s some domestic violence stuff that happens later in the series, but… this book is pretty clean. It’s just really spazztastic, or downright silly, at times. XD

Does it count towards any reading challenges?

OH yeah. Waay more than I originally thought. xD I was really just re-reading this one again for the 2015 The Eclectic Reader (#6 Fiction For Foodies) reading challenge, but it ended up also fitting all of these challenges as well:

Would you recommend this book?

Yeah. I would say so. I don’t see why not!

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Reviewed by AMS (amomentsilence)

Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing
Publication Date: July 2005
Format: Paperback
Pages: 200
Genre & Themes: Love, M/M Romance,
QUILTBAG / LGBTQUI, Food, Pasteries &
Desserts, Bakery, Homophobia, Domestic
Violence, Manga, Shounen Ai / Yaoi, Drama,
Sports (Boxing), Josei, Comedy, Culinary
Age: It’s a Josei manga so… New Adult? Adult??
Reviewer: AMS (amomentsilence)
Source: Bought
Challenge2015 Good Reads Reading Challenge (32),
52 Books in 52 WeeksYou Read How Many Books?,
2015 LGBT Reading Challenge, Read A Million Pages,
105 Reading Challenge (Category: 1, 3, 4, 8, 13),
The Eclectic Reader (#6 Fiction For Foodies),
2015 Graphic Novel and Comic Reading Challenge,
The Re-Read Reading Challenge

[Book Review] Mercy’s Prisoner

mercysprisoner6x9Mercy’s Prisoner

(Life Prison, Volume 1)

Dusk Peterson

What rating would you give it?
4.5 of 5 Stars

Where can you buy or borrow the book?

[Amazon] [Gumroad] [All Romance]
[Smashwords]

Borrow the ebook: [Scribd]

 

Give us a summary.
(Provided by Author)

“‘You have committed a vile and savage act, one that any other nation would punish with death. Our punishment, on the other hand, will only be to give you what you want. You have sought to live in a world without boundaries of civilization, and such a world shall henceforth be your dwelling place.'”

A cold-hearted murderer. A vicious abuser. A young man hiding a shameful secret. A bewildered immigrant. A pure-minded spy.

All of these men have found their appointed places at Mercy Life Prison, where it is easy to tell who your enemies are. But a new visitor to Mercy is about to challenge decades-old customs. Now these men’s worst enemies may be hiding behind masks… and so may their closest allies.

A runner-up in the Rainbow Awards 2014, the book bundle “Mercy’s Prisoner” can be read on its own or as the first volume in the Life Prison series. Friendship, desire between men, and the costs of corruption and integrity are examined in this multicultural speculative fiction series, which is inspired by prison life at the end of the nineteenth century.

What did you think of the book?

Alright. So, I may have gotten a little over-excited reading this book.

I'm_Just_Sayin_Misha

Also, just FYI, this volume is a collection of five novellas/short stories all taking place with the Life Prisoner series. A second volume (possibly also a collection) is said to be published in the summer. Do not confuse this title with the novella Life Prison (as it is just first story/novella in this collection).

I was SO unsure of it originally… hoping beyond hope that it would blow my socks off, or at least not be a complete flop. I even had hopes of another Under Grand Hotel situation going on –which it wasn’t, by the way, but still. No UGH, but I might have just gotten something even better. (Or at least on par.)

This historical speculative fiction novel easily captures the minds of any reader, even those who might not think this to be “their thing,” with its dark setting and even darker themes. But there is a point to all this seemingly unnecessary suffering and pain. Reformation is at hand and with it comes a serious call to action, to the re-examination one’s own sense of morality and of right and wrong. Believe you-me, this book makes you THINK – about topics of discussion most would prefer never to think about or take into account. To consider the circumstances of those everyone prefers to not even think of. To ponder the basic human rights denied to those who violate others’ rights with their actions and deeds.

To consider that a murderer is also a human being too… and does that not mean they, too, deserve to be treated as such with basic human rights?

There’s a lot of philosophy and activism going on in here, a lot of moral discussion that doesn’t really have easy answers. I can’t say I believe prisoners – especially those that have done truly horrible things for selfish or unthinkable reasons – should be allowed to go free or be treated kindly, but I do believe they have the right to be treated with some decency and the basic human rights that no one should be denied.

This book makes you think about the hard questions no one wants to ask or bring to light in discussion, and I AB-SO-LUTELY LOVE IT.

I cannot wait to read the next book in the series!

Any warnings you wish to make for your readers?

The stories are dark. I think I explained that already, so expect DARK THINGS. XD Other than that, the third of the five stories in the volume showcases some BDSM. It’s not too intense, as it is more of master/slave story than anything else. Other things that occur either in passing (not detailed) or minorly: non-con, rape, blood, some torture, lots of punishment, sickness & illness, and otherwise horrible living conditions.

Does it count towards any reading challenges?

Yep! A whole bunch~

Would you recommend this book?

ReadHunny

Hell YEAH! Though, of course, I would absolutely warn whoever I recommend it to about just how dark and violent this book can be at times. It’s not alarmingly graphic, detailing every vicious act… but it IS still disarming and poignant in a way that might leave the reader who is more inclined to the visually graphic quite disturbed, so it might be best to read it, knowing full well how disturbing some imaginary within can be.

Reviewed by AMS (amomentsilence)

Publisher: Love in Dark Settings Press
Publication Date: August 2014, reissue December 2014
Format: eBook, ARC
Pages: 229
Genre: Historical Speculative Fiction,
Crime Fiction, M/M “Romance,”
Prison / Prison Life, BDSM, Master/Slave,
Reformation, Penal Code, Love Mates,
Punishment, Whipping, Non-con, Torture,
Consumption, Fair Treatment, QUILTBAG
/ LGBTQUIA, Friendship, Corruption,
Morality, Integrity, Nineteenth Century Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: AMS (amomentsilence)
Source: Provided by Author in exchange for an honest review
Award(s): Runner-up, Gay Fantasy category, in the Rainbow
Awards 2014. Honorable Mention in the Rainbow Awards 2014.
Challenge2015 Good Reads Reading Challenge (9),
52 Books in 52 WeeksYou Read How Many Books?,
2015 LGBT Reading Challenge, Read A Million Pages,
105 Reading ChallengeNew To You

[Comic / Graphic Novel Review] Wonderland (Volume 5)

wonderland_volume_5-gregory_raven-30449518-2069220791-frntlWonderland (Volume 5)

(Age of Darkness series, Wonderland #21-25)

Raven Gregory & Eric M. Esquivel (Writers); J.G. Miranda (Artist)

What rating would you give it?
2/2.5 of 5 Stars

Give us a summary.

(Taken from Goodreads)
As an “Age of Darkness” spreads across the realms, pushing the Queens of Wonderland into conflict, Calie must take a final stand. Journeying into Wonderland to save her daughter Violet, Calie assembles a team of warriors in effort to take control of Wonderland… for good. Wonderland: Volume 5 collects Wonderland #21-25.

What did you think of the book?

That was…. interesting. I’m gonna go with… with that. On my blog this graphic novel is probably going to get a 2.5… because… because… I just don’t know what to make of half of that nonsense (and not the good kind of nonsense either!) that takes place within its pages.

I feel like most of this story was just a lot of bad puns taken from the media, stereotypes, and a perverted mind, with bucket-loads of gratuitous and wholly unnecessary fanservice. There wasn’t much working for it. Neither was there much originality, either. A couple concepts were interesting and new (at least to me), but the majority of what paraded about as a “plot” was confusing, disjointed, and lacking sense of purpose. I understand that this is Wonderland, and things are supposed to be nonsense, and I also know this is the last(I think???) collection of the Wonderland tales, BUT. This just didn’t work for me. The story jumped around too abruptly without giving the reader a chance to follow along. I think if it had just done that, I would have been more into it. As it were, I just wanted to get through reading it so it could end.

I have the feeling some things may have been explained in the precious collected volumes, so I won’t be as harsh on rating it as I might usually be. Perhaps I can get my hands on the earlier chapters to see if this disjointed storytelling (and weird paneling) is a consistent thing or just in this book. Then I might change the rating, for better or for worse.

What was your favourite aspect of the book?

PFfft—! The line, “Have Chris Hemsworth’s babies” and “Date night with James Franco,” because… Wow…. are you serious?? xDD

Although I’m not sure if any of these are positives or not, The Queen of Spades reminds me of a Mord-Sith. (Sword of Truth/Legend of the Seekers fans, anyone???) Am I right or am I right? Seriously. Also [highlight for spoilers regarding this book and the TV show The Librarians]the entity known as “Wonderland” itself reminds me of the Mystery Houses episode of The Librarians. Annnnnd the manifestation of Wonderland does NOT look like whoever he’s supposedly supposed to look like, but instead looks like Tony Stark, and I mean it. Come on! You can’t tell me to my face that he doesn’t look like Stark FROM THE COMICS. Not RDJ. Though he does kinda look like him a bit too…[/highlight]

Any warnings you wish to make for your readers?

Don’t be surprised by anything. That’s all I’m gonna say.

Does it count towards any reading challenges?

Yup! A whole bunch. xD

Would you recommend this book?

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Doubt it. :/ Unless you’re a hardcore fan of the series, I definitely wouldn’t suggest anyone start with this book (too much weird shit goes down here for anyone to make sense of it out of the blue).

Reviewed by AMS (amomentsilence)

Publisher: Zenescope
Publication Date: January 2015
Format: eBook, ARC
Pages: 148
Genre: Graphic Novel, Comic, Fantasy,
Fairytale Classics Retold, Alice In
Wonderland retelling, F/F Romance,
M/F Romance, Horror, Scantily Clothed
Women, Mental Disorder/Illness,
Surrealism, Action/Adventure, Alternative
Worlds/Realms/Dimensions
Age: Young Adult / New Adult (I think…)
Reviewer: AMS (amomentsilence)
Source: Provided by NetGalley
Challenge2015 Good Reads Reading Challenge (18),
52 Books in 52 WeeksYou Read How Many Books?,
2015 Graphic Novel and Comic Reading Challenge,
2015 NetGalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge,
Read A Million Pages105 Reading Challenge,
Readathon Day 2015, 2015 LGBT Reading Challenge,
2015 New To You Reading Challenge