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phoenix
16 July 2017 @ 07:33 pm
I'm moving to Dreamwidth!

http://rainwaterspark.dreamwidth.org

Since April was a haze of rushing to finish my law school requirements and stuff, I totally missed out on the changes to LJ's ToS, and since I often review queer fiction/talk about asexual issues, I was worried about my LJ getting deleted or something because of that. (Also, I'd wanted a name change for my journal forever, but didn't want to shell out the $$ to change it.)

I'll keep this LJ as a backup/record. I've imported all of my entries, though on DW I'm deleting a few (seriously only a few) entries that I regret writing.

EDIT: Forgot to add that I'll still be cross-posting here, for the time being.
 
 
phoenix
18 January 2018 @ 02:44 pm
My original review is here. I'll copy some of my original thoughts, but add others that occurred to me in light of other people's reviews. (Previously, I considered Whiteout a 3-star read out of 5 stars, but now I think it's closer to 2 stars.)

Whiteout by Elyse Springer
Genre: Contemporary, mystery
Pairing: MM
Orientations: Gay

So. I am a sucker for amnesia stories. They're my kryptonite. The fastest way to get me to read a book is to say the main character has amnesia.

I enjoyed the twist of the book. It's rare that I'm surprised by a twist and it used the amnesia in an interesting way, so that was cool.

Other than that, though...the book was nice, but very romance-trope-y. Too much so for my tastes. The second half of the book was boringly predictable, everything wraps up very neatly, and so on.

I also felt that the writing didn't wring out the emotional responses enough in certain places, and Noah felt way younger than a 29-year-old to me. Plus, Jason didn't strike me as more than a 2-dimensional character, and because of that, I never felt really enthusiastic about Noah and Jason's relationship. Jason even makes a comment at some point along the lines that he likes the fact that Noah is distant, because it keeps Noah interesting to him. My reaction to that was "WTF?" A relationship in which the partners have to keep distant from each other to keep things exciting...doesn't strike me as a long-lasting relationship.

What lowers this book to 2 stars, for me, is the fact that when you think about Noah and Jason's relationship in retrospect, it's actually severely messed up, which makes Noah's attempts to win Jason back in the second half of the story feel disingenuous. (Not to mention, the way he went around it felt very YA to me, not what I would expect of two adults.)

Cut for SPOILERSCollapse )
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phoenix
16 January 2018 @ 03:55 pm
...where we celebrate white authors for writing a book that has two white leads, "but the secondary characters are all people of color!!"

This is such a minimum bar of representation that I feel like we really shouldn't give white authors cookies for, considering how overwhelmingly white LGBTQIAP+ romance is.

If you're a reader of color, and you feel empowered by a secondary character who's a PoC? More power to you. But if you're a white reader, please don't hold this up as "great representation for PoC." I'm not nearly as moved seeing an Asian secondary character as I am seeing an Asian protagonist or love interest.
 
 
phoenix
14 January 2018 @ 12:08 pm
Until the bar exam is over, right now I'm just scouring my favorite indie publisher to see if they have any cool books coming out. (I haven't seen anything that's caught my personal eye, but hope springs eternal.)

After the bar exam is over, I'll be super super SUPER excited by editing my novel for publication!! And when that's done, I'll both be excited about the upcoming release and excited/anxious about pitching my PNR featuring an autistic vampire hunter and his demisexual vampire BF to my editor.

Basically, right now everything sucks, but I'm trying to hang on by reminding myself of all the exciting things that are going to happen this year. :)
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phoenix
I realized I'm still behind on my book reviews, but hopefully I'll have caught up with this latest batch.


A World Apart by Mel Gough

This book is very slice-of-life, without much plot except Ben's divorce and Donnie's struggle with being HIV-positive.

I didn't like the italicized, present-tense excerpts from Donnie's POV. I kept wondering what the point was of the POV tense shift and why these scenes had to be italicized if they were basically contemporaneous with Ben's POV.

By far the biggest detractor from the book was the dialogue. British-isms were used for characters who were US Southerners, and it was extremely jarring. Not to mention the author tried to convey a Southern accent with Donnie's dialogue, but I don't think she spent enough time researching what Southern accents (particularly Georgian accents, since the book is set in Georgia) sound like. I'm not a Southerner, but I'm fairly certain that US Southerners do not say "ya" instead of "you." Also, no one would ever say "ya okay" because it's too linguistically awkward.


Escaping Indigo by Eli Lang

This book aggravated me on a visceral level.

First of all, nothing really happened. The entirety of the plot is “Micah falls in love with Bellamy while on tour with Escaping Indigo, Micah realizes Bellamy has some unnamed kind of mental illness [which is not exactly great representation, by the way], then they talk about it a little” and that’s it.

This read to me as a book that prioritized Micah’s hurt feelings rather than Bellamy’s feelings about his mental illness. (By the way, “anxiety or depression or something” is not great mental illness rep, to put it mildly.) The way Micah kept insisting that Bellamy should’ve trusted him not to make a big deal of his anxiety was insulting to me, as though being acknowledged as a gold-star ally was more important to him than actually, you know, making Bellamy feel safe and comfortable enough to talk about his mental illness.

Also, while in general it’s understandable, there is no compelling in-text reason for why Bellamy resists any kind of treatment for his anxiety except...to create drama, I guess? There is no meaningful engagement with ableism and the reasons why mentally ill people often find it so hard to seek treatment. I’m so tired of reading books with mentally ill characters who never even think about seeking treatment Just Because and skipping over the obvious opportunity to address a very important issue.

I’m trying not to be snarky or overly cynical in this review, but I suppose it didn’t help matters that I disliked the writing style and the dialogue, which, to me, felt extremely stilted. And I’m sure my feelings about this book are very much colored by the fact that I was in Bellamy’s position once. From that perspective, I felt like this entire book was trying to lecture me on How To Be A Good Ally To Mentally Ill People without actually considering how a person with mental illness feels or what they would actually need.

Sure, they talk about treatment, and Micah at least meets the bare minimum requirement of giving Bellamy some agency over that choice (though, the fact that Bellamy seems to have completely resisted the idea of treatment until Micah came along and reassured him still read to me as “Neurotypical Savior”). But they never talk about, like, what should Micah do if Bellamy is having an anxiety attack or depressive episode? There are only affirmations thrown around that felt hollow without these discussions. I get that these conversations are not considered “sexy” or “romantic” to most people, but they are necessary to convince me that a relationship between a neurotypical and person with mental illness is going to actually last. They are necessary to convince me that the neurotypical person actually has accepted their love interest’s mental illness, instead of just glossing over it.


A Matter of Duty
by JC Long

I think I’m going to go ahead and call this a DNF. I really did want to finish this book for the purposes of this review, but after 50%, it’s just kind of a drag to keep reading. The writing style wasn’t very engaging to me, and the instalove romance put me off since that’s 100% not my thing.
 
I myself can’t directly comment on the depiction of Hong Kong, as I’m not from there. However, my brother-in-law grew up in Hong Kong, and so I ended up peppering him with questions about this book’s depiction of Hong Kong (mostly because I was curious, and I tend to obsess over details). So, here are some notes:
  • Given that English isn’t Hong Kongers’ native language, they really shouldn’t be saying things like “ain’t”...
  • I have been informed that “pour the yum cha” is NOT something actual Hong Kong people would say, first because “yum” is a verb in this context, and second because “yum cha”, despite literally referring to tea, actually means “brunch.”
  • I have also been informed that public baths don’t exist in Hong Kong. Or at least, my brother-in-law, who is Hong Kong born and raised, has never heard of them.
  • Some of the romanization of the Cantonese might be off; “char siu pau” is one that I noticed (should be “cha siu bao”).
  • The author seemed to be trying to decentralize the white character from the narrative set in Hong Kong, based on some things Noah says in his internal narration; however, I don’t think the author was entirely successful. For example, some Dragons initially call Noah “gweilo” and, based on Wei’s extremely angry reaction and insistence that they apologize, I thought it was a racial slur. However, it’s...apparently not to the level of a racial slur at all, which makes it feel kind of like the narrative is going out of its way to coddle the white character’s feelings.
  • Nitpick: At some point, Noah says it was hard for him to pick up emotional tones in Cantonese because it’s a tonal language. That’s NOT what a “tonal language” means—tonal languages can still carry emotion in a speaker’s tone of voice.


Loneliness/Justice by LC Mawson

And now for something completely different...

This is a free novella to LC Mawson's excellent Aspects series. It's cute and I appreciated learning more about Justice and Loneliness before they became Aspects.

A few notes about the Asian representation (sorry, I can't not comment on this stuff):
  • Loneliness's name is Lex Lau. Lau is a Cantonese last name, but this confused me since I'm pretty sure Lex/Loneliness was described as having blond hair and blue eyes?
  • I also had no idea where Lex and the twins lived. Do they live in a Mandarin-speaking place, or does Justice/Wang Wei only address Lex's mom in Mandarin because both of them know Mandarin? Either way, "Lau" is a Cantonese last name and therefore wouldn't be used if they're speaking Mandarin (the Mandarin equivalent is "Liu").
  • Zhang Wei and Wang Wei are...weird names for twins? The traditional naming convention for siblings in Mandarin is that, for a 2-character name, the first character is shared and the second is unique. Unless "Wei" is their surname. Again, it's confusing because I don't know where exactly this novella was taking place, because if they're in an English-speaking country, and the twins' surname is Wei, they should only be referred to by their given names.
  • Justice/Wang Wei calls Lex's mom "tai tai." However, assuming everyone can speak Mandarin, Wang Wei should really call her "a yi" instead of "tai tai." "Tai tai" is WAY too formal for this kind of situation.
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phoenix
06 January 2018 @ 09:58 pm
Unfortunately, everything will be (officially) on hiatus until after the bar exam, for now.

After the bar, though, I anticipate that my other beta reader will be done with my vampire x vampire hunter PNR, and will hopefully give me some useful feedback. I plan on finalizing the book as soon as possible—by pushing it up to 50k words, and making whatever other edits I want to make—and then pitching it to my editor when I'm done editing E. So, in other words, I hope to finalize the PNR by the end of March or so.

Once the PNR is finalized, then I can finally work on outlining, and then hopefully drafting the sequel for the rest of the year.

I have a few other ideas for stories right now—namely, a queer contemporary romance between two Asian Americans, and a YA novel that I've been trying to write for a while—but we'll see what happens after my first novel gets published (!!). (Also depending on what's going on with my day job, eck.)
 
 
phoenix
02 January 2018 @ 07:20 pm
Recently, I saw an author on Twitter who was like, "If I follow you [the equivalent of "friending"] and I promote your books but you don't promote mine, then I will unfollow you."

And I just feel like...that's such a mercenary way to view friendship, or even online acquaintance-ship?

I'm the kind of person who won't promote someone else's books unless I truly like the book. That's just who I am. Conversely, of course, I would never say my friends HAVE to promote my books simply because they're my friends. If they liked it, I would appreciate positive word of mouth, but if they haven't read it/didn't like it, I wouldn't expect them to advertise for me.

(Heck, I don't even want people to buy my book ONLY because they know me, because I don't want them to be disappointed if the book is just totally not their taste.)

And I mean...I don't think that's an unreasonable attitude to have.

So...yeah. I kind of wanted to try becoming friends with said Twitter person, but now I think my chances are zero. Oh well.
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phoenix
30 December 2017 @ 08:01 pm
Get Up by Reece Pine

This book is...really difficult to describe.

It's a slow-moving contemporary romance for most of the book, and then it sort of turns into a horror/thriller out of nowhere during the last 20% or so. I felt like the antagonist came completely out of the left field, and their motives were never explained.

I never quite bought the romance between Cam and Guy. Maybe it's because it started with really heavy instalove/instalust and...it was a bit difficult to see how their feelings progressed from there.

I liked the way Cam talked about his gender identity. Everything else about the book was sort of a miss for me. I felt like many of the sentences were long and quite wordy, which sometimes made it difficult for me to follow what was going on. The dialogue also felt...strange, too me. Like I often couldn't follow the logic as for why they were saying the things they did.
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phoenix
28 December 2017 @ 08:54 pm
Sometimes, it's hard to wait.

Right now, it's hard for me to even go on Twitter because I see people talk about their already-released or soon-to-be released books, and sure, my book is under contract for publication, but I haven't even started the editing process yet. And it probably won't be released for another half a year.

And...yeah, it stings a bit, just because I've waited so long to find a home for my book, and the ending feels so close and yet still so far.

Sigh.
 
 
phoenix
26 December 2017 @ 09:11 pm
Obsession by Theophilia St. Claire

(Trigger warnings: This book contains rape, physical abuse, and mention of childhood sexual assault.)

This book billed itself as a dark psychological thriller. In the end, unfortunately, it fell short of that goal.

I wasn't entirely sure whether this book was really trying to play an abusive relationship straight or not. Although it definitely showed the sexual assault and physical abuse as being not okay, the ending—with Nick forgiving Claude just because Claude gave him money and came to his senses, I guess?—makes me think the whole thing was somewhat romanticized in the end, which was...disturbing. In a sense, it wasn't "dark" enough—in its search for a conventional romantic HEA, it fell into something of the same trope that it initially seemed to be deconstructing. And that's disappointing. Nick, the protagonist, deserved better.

Also, in a baffling turn of events, the climax ended up being rather racist. Plus, having a white character nicknamed "Little Asian" is also...kind of racist.
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