Title: Witch Eyes
Author: Scott Tracey
Number of Pages: 336 pages
Book Number/Goal: 25/50 for 2011
My Rating: 3.5/5

Amazon Summary (edited for spoileriness): Braden's witch eyes give him an enormous power. A mere look causes a kaleidoscopic explosion of emotions, memories, darkness, and magic. But this rare gift is also his biggest curse.

Compelled to learn about his shadowed past and the family he never knew, Braden is drawn to the city of Belle Dam, where he is soon caught between two feuding witch dynasties. Sworn rivals Catherine Lansing and Jason Thorpe will use anything--lies, manipulation, illusion, and even murder--to seize control of Braden's powers. To stop an ancient evil from destroying the town, Braden must master his gift despite a series of shocking revelations.

Review: This isn't a book I would have picked up on my own, but it was the first book for [personal profile] rachelmanija's Permanent Floating YA Diversity Book Club, so I decided to give it a go. Aside from the fact that the romance is between two boys, there isn't a single original thing about it. I felt like I was reading an amalgam of a bunch of current supernatural-themed things, including Supernatural, but also Lost Girl and Twilight, which are not terribly original things to begin with. But despite kind of rolling my eyes at everything, I found myself getting drawn in, and as it is unsurprisingly the first book in a series (no one has any love for stand-alone books but me, or at least no writers/publishers), I will definitely be checking out the next one when it's released. If nothing else, it's nice to see a book with gay characters that's not about being gay (as much as I do enjoy those stories, too).
Title: Sea, Swallow Me
Author: Craig Laurance Gidney
Number of Pages: 199 pages
Book Number/Goal: 16/50 for 2011
My Rating: 2.5/5

Jacket Summary: Ancient folklore and modern myth come together in these stories by author Craig Laurance Gidney. Here are found the struggles of a medieval Japanese monk, seduced by a mischievous fairy, and a young slave who finds mystery deep within the briar patch of an antebellum plantation. Gidney offers readers a gay teen obsessed with his patron saint, Lena Horne, and, in the title story, an ailing tourist seeking to escape his troubles at a distant shore, but who never anticipates encountering an African seagod. Rich, poetic, dark and disturbing, these are tales not soon forgotten.

Review: Honestly I wasn't really impressed with this book. There were a few stories I really liked and the rest were just okay. Also, the copy I have is an ARC, so it's got a lot of mistakes, which hopefully were corrected in the final proof (the most annoying one was in the Japanese story, where Amaterasu was misspelled as Amaratsu throughout the story).

Note: My last post here was book 8/50 for 2011. Books 9-15 for me were a reread of the Harry Potter series, so I didn't bother writing reviews. I'm just skipping ahead here.
Title: Bible Camp Bloodbath
Author: Joey Comeau
Number of Pages: 78 pages
Book Number/Goal: 42/40 for 2010
My Rating: 3/5

Jacket Summary: Bible Camp Bloodbath is a story about a boy named Martin. Martin is going to Bible Camp, and he's going to make a lot of new friends. He's excited, too, but that's probably because nobody told him what the book is called.

Review: I love A Softer World and think Joey Comeau is pretty awesome in general, so I really wanted to like this more than I did. I really love the prose, but the story was just...eh. It was a decent story and kept my attention, but I just kept waiting for it to be something more, I guess. I don't quite see the point of it.
Title: Tell-All
Author: Chuck Palahniuk
Number of Pages: 179 pages
Book Number/Goal: 37/40 for 2010
My Rating: 1/5

Jacket Summary: Soaked, nay marinated in the world of vintage Hollywood, Tell-All is a Sunset Boylevard-inflected homage to Old Hollywood when Bette Davis and Joan Crawford ruled the roost. Our Thelma Ritter-ish narrator is Hazie Coogan, who for decades has tended to the outsized needs of Katherine "Miss Kathie" Kenton--veteran of multiple marriages, career comebacks, and cosmetic surgeries. But dangers arrives with gentleman caller Webster Carlton Westward III, who worms his way into Miss Kathie's heart (and boudoir). Hazie discovers that this bounder has already written a celebrity tell-all memoir foretelling Miss Kathie's death. As the body count mounts, Hazie must execute a plan to save Katherine Kenton for her fans--and for posterity.

Review: I never did read Pygmy and I don't know that I ever will, and while I enjoyed Snuff okay, I found it really disappointing after the awesomeness of Rant, so while I grabbed this because it's a new Palahniuk book and I still consider myself a fan, I wasn't really excited about it. I...guess that's good? Because if I'd been excited, I would have been really disappointed. As it is, I'm just meh, whatever.

As for the supposed plot (you know the real plot is always not what it seems), my first thought was wasn't that a Simpson's episode? The book was not that interesting, and the twist was predictable, but what really annoyed me was the last few chapters where it's all about Hazie the ugly girl who befriends Kathie the pretty girl and blah blah blah, women! Crazy, amirite? This is definitely one to skip. Hopefully he'll get back on track and do something cool again at some point.
torachan: (Default)
([personal profile] torachan Nov. 6th, 2010 02:54 am)
S, so apparently I forgot to crosspost anything here since the beginning of May...? D: I haven't read a ton of books this year, but it says here my last post was books 6-8 and I just posted book 34 on my journal, so it's more than I want to crosspost in whole here. Instead, here's a list of links to the reviews in my journal (along with some basic info) for those interested, and I will try to be good about crossposting in future.

Books 9-34 behind the cut! )
Title: Rainbow Boys, Rainbow High, and Rainbow Road
Author: Alex Sanchez
Number of Pages: ~250 pages each
Book Number/Goal: 6-8/30 for 2010
My Rating: 3.5/5

This trilogy focuses on three boys, Nelson, Kyle, and Jason, following them through their last year of high school and the summer after. Alex Sanchez is really not a great writer. His prose is often clunky and cliched and the characters sound more like someone's idea of how Kids Today talk rather than real kids. But his stories are still engaging and I hope he keeps churning out books about queer kids for years to come because it's really a genre that needs to be bigger.

I wish there wasn't so much casual, unchallenged misogyny and I was uncomfortable with the repeated use of the word tranny when the boys met a trans girl (I think it's entirely plausible that they would use it, but I wish there had been someone to say it's not okay) and it would be nice if there were people other than whites and latinos in his books, overall they're enjoyable. And very quick reads.

In other news, I've lowered my goal for the year from 50 to 30. :( No way am I going to get 50 at this point, but hopefully 30 is still doable.
Title: Keeping You a Secret
Author: Julie Anne Peters
Number of Pages: 250 pages
Book Number/Goal: 70/75 for 2009
My Rating: 5/5

Holland is the student body president, on the swim team, a straight-A student, and has a great boyfriend who's also one of her best friends. Everyone thinks her life is perfect. But when she falls in love with Cece, a new girl at school, that all starts to change.

I read another book by Peters earlier this year and liked it a lot, so I was hoping this would be as good and it definitely was. It felt a little less textbooky than Luna, which I think has to do with the fact that the author is writing from personal experience here, where she wasn't with Luna. There's a subplot in this with Holland's stepsister Faith, who's a goth, and that part has the same "let me show you my research" feel to it that all the transgender stuff in Luna did.

Mooch from BookMooch.
Title: Push
Author: Sapphire
Number of Pages: 192 pages
Book Number/Goal: 65/75 for 2009
My Rating: 4.5/5

Precious is sixteen, illiterate, and pregnant with her second child by her own father. But when she gets kicked out of junior high and starts attending an alternative school, her life finally starts to turn around.

This is written in an experimental style, very stream-of-consciousness, with lots of dialect to mimic the way precious talks. Some parts are even written as if Precious had written them herself, complete with spelling errors, which gradually improve over the course of the book. I didn't find that a barrier at all, though. It was really easy to read (I zipped through it in two sittings). The last fifty pages or so of the book are essays and poems written by Precious and the other girls in her class.

Pretty much everything bad you could imagine happening has happened to Precious and it sometimes seems like overkill, but overall I really enjoyed the book. And I'm glad the ending was optimistic but realistic and not all magically wonderful.

I'm definitely interested in seeing the movie, though probably not til it's out on DVD. I was looking at the cast, though, and um...wtf? The teacher is described as dark with dreads, yet somehow in the movie she is really lightskinned and has wavy hair. It's like they made her as close to a Nice White Lady as possible without actually casting a white actress. D:
Title: The Last Time I Wore a Dress
Author: Daphne Scholinski with Jane Meredith Adams
Number of Pages: 211 pages
Book Number/Goal: 61/75 for 2009
My Rating: 5/5

Note: The author now goes by Dylan, but I will use Daphne and female pronouns for the purposes of talking about the book, because that's how the book is written.

Daphne's father beat her. Her mother abandoned her. She was sexually abused many times as a child. She essentially had to raise herself and her sister. When she unsurprisingly acted out, instead of anyone actually caring, she was locked up in a series of mental institutions for most of her teenage years.

Because she was tomboyish, the doctors focused on that, in some cases forcing her to wear makeup every day as part of her treatment. She suffered from depression the entire time she was locked up, was raped several times by male patients, and her parents barely kept in contact with her, yet the doctors continued to focus on the fact that she didn't act like their idea of what a girl should be. She was looked on with suspicion for not having sex with the male patients, as most of the other boys and girls paired up. She was punished for having a female best friend, as they thought the relationship was inappropriate.

This book is really, really depressing to read and basically will make you hate the medical establishment. This quote from the last chapter really sums it up best:

I still wonder why I wasn't treated for my depression, why no one noticed I'd been sexually abused, why the doctors didn't seem to believe that I'd come from a home with physical violence. Why the thing they cared about the most was whether I acted the part of a feminine young lady. The shame is that the effects of depression, sexual abuse, violence: all treatable. But where I stood on the feminine/masculine scale: unchangeable. It's who I am.

Oh, and as if that wasn't bad enough, go to the Amazon reviews and you'll find that all the negative reviews are filled with victim-blaming. Fun!

The book is a really good read, though, and I highly recommend it.
Title: Transgender History
Author: Susan Stryker
Number of Pages: 190 pages
Book Number/Goal: 59/75 for 2009
My Rating: 3.5/5

A better title for the book would be Transgender History in the US, as there's barely any acknowledgement that other countries exist, much less that there might be trans people living there. It's also really short. The last forty pages are notes and such, and the first thirty are defining terms, so only 120 pages are actually devoted to the topic at hand. But for what it is, it's a pretty good read. While focusing primarily on white trans people, it does include PoC fairly often and acknowledges their contributions (which is frankly better than I expected when I saw it was published by the now infamous Seal Press).
Title: The God Box
Author: Alex Sanchez
Number of Pages: 248 pages
Book Number/Goal: 45/75 for 2009
My Rating: 5/5

Paul is a Christian teen who has been dating his best friend Angie since middle school, but while he loves her, he feels no attraction towards her. Every night he prays that God will make him attracted to girls and take away his feelings about guys. Then he meets Manuel, who is a Christian and gay and sees nothing contradictory about that. As Paul and Manuel become closer, he starts to question what he's been taught about the evils of homosexuality.

I won't lie. This book is as subtle as a brick and Manuel is unbelievably wise and perfect for a teenager, but I loved it to death. I don't really consider myself a Christian anymore (and I was never this sort of actively-Christian Christian myself), but this is how I grew up and Sanchez portrays the conservative Christian community perfectly. Reading this felt so familiar to me. The Christians in this book aren't parodies; they're real people, and I loved that the story wasn't about choosing between being a Christian and being gay, but about being a gay Christian.

You should also check out [profile] sanguinuity's really excellent and detailed review here.
Title: Southland
Author: Nina Revoyr
Number of Pages: 348 pages
Book Number/Goal: 44/75 for 2009
My Rating: 5/5

When Jackie Ishida's grandfather dies, her aunt finds in his closet a box of cash from the sale of his old store, along with an old will leaving the money to someone they've never heard of. Jackie agrees to help find this guy, only to find out he died. Was murdered, in fact, along with three other boys, in her grandfather's store during the Watts riots in 1965. As she and James Lanier, a cousin of the boy, look into the murders, Jackie learns more than she expected to about her grandfather.

I really loved this book a lot. It's set in LA, but not the Hollywood LA that you usually see in books and movies (it's so rare to see a portrayal of the LA I know and love). The main character is a lesbian, but it's not The Plot, just a fact about her (what? You mean there can be stories about gay people that aren't about being gay???). She's also Japanese-American, but this isn't a story about internment camps (they are mentioned, during some flashbacks in her grandfather's POV, but it's not the point of the story, and boy is that rare).

It's also a really neat story. My one complaint is that it's really tell-y. Like, it could have been cut down by at least a third if the author had just trusted the readers instead of having so much internal exposition about what people were thinking and feeling every step of the way.
Title: The Sophie Horowitz Story
Author: Sarah Schulman
Number of Pages: 158 pages
Book Number/Goal: 35/75 for 2009
My Rating: 3.5/5

Sophie is a reporter caught up in a story about radical feminists Germaine Covington and Laura Wolf. The more she tries to get to the bottom of things, the more she finds herself tangled up in everything.

This is Schulman's first novel and it's very obvious. It's not nearly as well-written as the other books I've read by her and the plot's a little muddled and everyone but Sophie feels more like a prop than an actual person, but I still enjoyed it quite a lot. I'm glad this wasn't the first book I read by her, though.

Mooch on BookMooch
Title: Just So You Know #1
Author: Joey Alison Sayers
Number of Pages: 36 pages
Book Number/Goal: 34/75 for 2009
My Rating: 5/5

By the author of Thingpart. Excellent comic about the author's transition from male to female. Funny and touching and generally awesome. I just wish it were longer!
Title: Empathy
Author: Sarah Schulman
Number of Pages: 182 pages
Book Number/Goal: 33/75 for 2009
My Rating: 4.5/5

It's hard to summarise this book without spoiling it. It's about Anna and Doc and psychology and...stuff. Really, I have no idea how to summarise, so that will have to do. It's about a woman coming to terms with being a lesbian and what that means to her. (But not in a "coming out" sort of way.)

Anyway! This is very experimental, with some scenes written in script format, and it took me a little longer to get into than After Delores did, but it did hook me and I ended up really enjoying it. (As for the spoiler, I totally called it.)

I still have three more of Schulman's books here to read and I'm very excited about them.
Title: After Delores
Author: Sarah Schulman
Number of Pages: 158 pages
Book Number/Goal: 32/75 for 2009
My Rating: 5/5

The narrator is broken-hearted after her lover Delores left her for another woman. As she tries to get over Delores, she gets involved in several other relationships and a murder or two.

I really liked this a lot. The characters are all totally over-the-top and everything's a bit unreal, but that's part of its charm. I found it really hard to put down. Every time I did, I'd pick it up again a few minutes later for just one more chapter.

Mooch from BookMooch.
Title: Skim
Author/Illustrator: Mariko Tamaki (author), Jillian Tamaki (illustrator)
Number of Pages: 144 pages
Book Number/Goal: 31/75 for 2009
My Rating: 5/5

It's 1993 and Kimberly Keiko Cameron, aka Skim, is in grade 10 at a Catholic girls' school. She is: Wiccan, biracial (Japanese-Canadian/white), sort of an outcast, overweight, falling in love with her English teacher, Ms. Archer.

I really loved this. It's so...ordinary. It's not a message book, even though there are lots of things (being Asian, homophobia, being queer, bullying, teen suicide, rumors, divorce, being overweight) that could be turned into big Issues to Teach a Lesson, but they're not. They're just part of what happens. That's part of what makes this feel like a story about teens rather than a story particularly for teens (though it's not inappropriate for teens by any means).

I really love the art, too. The style is obviously Japanese-influenced...but not manga-influenced. Instead, it immediately calls to mind traditional Japanese paintings (check out the cover here), which makes for a rather unique comic style and one I really enjoyed.
Title: Wish I Was Here
Author: Jackie Kay
Number of Pages: 198 pages
Book Number/Goal: 30/75 for 2009
My Rating: 5/5

I didn't enjoy this quite as much as I did Why Don't You Stop Talking, but it's still a really awesome book. I just love the way she writes, her use of language, everything.

As with her previous short story collection, most of these are about queer people (mostly lesbians, though the last story is about gay men), though this time they seem to be mostly not about people of color (only two (IIRC) are specified as being PoC and many are specified as being white, with a few that don't indicate one way or the other).

I think my favorite stories were Wish I Was Here, My Daughter the Fox, and The Mirrored Twins.

Mooch from BookMooch
Title: Luna
Author: Julie Anne Peters
Number of Pages: 248 pages
Book Number/Goal: 29/75 for 2009
My Rating: 5/5

Regan's life is complicated. There's family problems and high school problems and then there's Luna, her brother. Or rather, the girl her brother wants to be.

Though the book is titled Luna, this is really Regan's story. It's about her living with this secret all her life and finally accepting what it really means. I liked Regan a lot. Her conflicted feelings felt very realistic.

The portrayal of Luna was really good, too, though I cringed at the mention of Harry Benjamin Syndrome. Yes, Luna is just a teenager googling stuff on the internet, but I wish the author had not gone there. I doubt she even realised that HBS is a rather fraught subject, not just another name for transgender/transsexual.

Overall I really enjoyed this, though I wish there were more young adult books about being trans, rather than just being the sister of someone trans.

Mooch from BookMooch.
Name: [personal profile] chosenmortal
Goal: 75 books during 2009
Definition of "book": anything i haven't read before, graphic novels or comic anthologies count, single comic books do not.
Books read so far: i keep track at goodreads; you can friend me here, just drop a comment here so i know who you are to friend back. XD

Title: How I Paid for College : A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship and Musical Theater
Author: Marc Acito
Number of Pages: 288
Genre: Fiction/Memoir
Book Number/Goal: 30 of 100

Review: from my goodreads page......... there is nothing not to love about this book. first and foremost, it is **hilarious**, it had me actually laughing out loud on just about every page, which is something i haven't experienced since like, Catch-22 or the last David Sedaris book i read. acito's narrative voice is incredibly strong and consistent; from page one, you're right inside edward's head, and there isn't a second you leave it for the entire book. i'm a sucker for good realistic characters, especially teenagers who actually act like teenagers, and acito delivers. i understand why the book isn't shelved in the YA section, though i desperately wish it would be-- there need to be more books like this, portraying kids in their late teens in all their melodramatic feckless hormonal coming-into-their-own glory.

and, of course, i am strongly of the opinion that there need to be way more books that deal with all aspects of teen sexuality as frankly and candidly as this book does. actually, every issue that comes up in the book is handled with great subtlety, showing how edward deals with it without even trying to lay out a lesson for the reader. from questioning your sexuality to following your dreams to hating your parents to dating your friends to being jealous of other people dating your friends... acito puts his main character through a lot, and lets him muddle through it the way most teenagers wade through the drama of their lives-- on their own, recognizing it as a part of the transition from childhood to adulthood.

books like this make me think a lot, but if you're not the kind of reader who wants to dissect a book after you're finished with it, you can still read and adore this book. it is first and foremost a comedy, and so for anyone who lived through high school or ever fought with their parents or fell in love with their best friend, you'll find a lot to laugh about here.


a_reader_is_me: (Default)
A Reader Is Me!


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Powered by Dreamwidth Studios

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags