lessonsinescapology: (Blue)
A good article on gay novels and the role/effect of shame on its characters: https://psmag.com/the-new-gay-novel-401ee9e318b1#.g8mxie9al

While it's good to find happy and well-adjusted characters in fiction, I do sometimes find it unrealistic that authors don't want to discuss the more thorny issues of exploring and accepting one's sexuality and its effect on the character's life.
lessonsinescapology: (Blue)
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever by Marie Kondo (Author), Cathy Hirano (Translator), (UK Edition-2014)

A book that could only be written by a Japanese person and I mean that as a compliment. I picked up this book because the cover resembled the Japanese flag and was surprised upon leafing through it that it was a book to teach people how to de-clutter their homes and lives.

Far from being a self-help book, though it certainly is that, the charm lies in the short chapters, simple prose, and the insights Kondo offers into human psychology. The West may not believe in Animism but that concept is prevalent, not to mention alive and well, in most of South East Asia and beyond. Kondo offers anecdotes from her life and the lives of her clients, where clutter and compulsive shopping and accumulation of goods and items are merely a symptom of larger problems.

A delightful read with the lesson that ultimately possessions possess you.


Oct. 26th, 2015 12:27 am
lessonsinescapology: (WTF)
I recently bought and read a book called Coming Home Texas by Laura Harner and halfway into the book thought the lead acted like a woman in a harlequin romance. Well, my gut feeling was right. Apparently Harner plagiarized Becky McGraw's My Kind of Trouble, almost verbatim. Merely replacing the female pronouns and making one character a man to turn the novel into m/m fiction. I am angry for even buying Harner's novel!

Link: http://jennytrout.com/?p=9685
lessonsinescapology: (Stormy)
Accidentally found myself following two new series both published by Viz Media.

Requiem of the Rose King by Aya Kanno, Vol.1-2: I have only read Blank Slate by Kanno and that was a brutal but dramatic manga to read so I wasn't sure what to expect here but what an interesting interpretation of Richard the Third's life. The mangaka says she drew inspiration from Shakespeare's plays. Somehow I don't remember Richard being a hermaphrodite^^ but the mix of drama, historical characters, the supernatural, and Gothic horror and violence seems to work. Of particular note is Joan of Arc as an evil witch and spirit haunting Richard and taunting him since his childhood; it's the English view of her that Kanno is using here. If I had a complaint, it would be the densely packed scenes and panels which make it hard to understand what's going on. The story seems rushed in the first two volumes as presumably the mangaka wants to finish setting up the world and introducing its characters.

Hopefully Vol.3 will have a more leisurely pace. I'm following this series as it's different enough that it's intriguing. History tells us it doesn't end well for anyone involved in the Wars of the Roses.
P.S.: Benedict Cumberbatch is Richard the Third next year on the BBC's Shakespeare mini-series.

The Demon Prince of Momochi House by Aya Shouoto, Vol.1: New mangaka to me. This has many clichés and elements from supernatural/shoujo manga and I feel the title is misleading after reading it. The art is very pretty with big panels, clean lines, and screentone. God, how I miss the use of screentones in manga!

The first volume teases with a mystery about a cursed house, likely a cursed lineage too, as the main female character, Himari, inherits a house on her 16th birthday only to discover the house is in ruins and three gorgeous men occupy it. I liked both Himari and Aoi. Their interactions are funny and awkward due to them being teenagers and living alone for such a long time (she grew up in an orphanage and he's been living alone for years) that it would be interesting to see how the romance progresses. The ending of the first volume is perfect with negative space dominating the panel and a dramatic revelation by Aoi. It makes the reader want to immediately pick up the next volume!
lessonsinescapology: (Default)
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller won the 2012 Orange Prize for fiction. It's a UK literary prize annually awarded to a female author for best novel.

Reading this novel, it's easy to see why Miller won. Spoilers, if any, after the cut. Though everyone knows this legend.
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lessonsinescapology: (Winter Soldier)
This is a list I compiled of Ed Brubaker's run on the Captain America comic with the main plot/sub-plot of Bucky Barnes as the Winter Soldier. I wanted to compile a list in chronological order since I found the numbering of US comics to be very confusing, just to be sure that the story is comprehensible when reading from one book to another.

CA is short for Captain America and the numbers between brackets indicate the issues collected in each volume.
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lessonsinescapology: (Default)
Read: Captain America issues 1-9 and all the way to 628.

I finished Brubaker's entire run on Captain America which really should be called "Winter Soldier". I admit to being pleasantly surprised by the writing. More character-based than most American comics I've read. A dark, gritty real world feel to it. Morality is painted in many shades of grey and there's a heavy dose of espionage and politics. The plot is based on issues left from the Cold War, WW2, and shows the human cost of war. Huh... not what I'd expect from a Captain America comic.

The relationship between Steve Rogers/Captain America and James Buchanan aka "Bucky"/Winter Soldier couldn't be more pivotal to the series or more slashy if they tried to intentionally make it that way. There's only so many times I can read about Steve beating someone because of something related to Bucky, or how his on and off girlfriend comes second to Bucky, or various villains taunting Steve with the death of "your boy"... it makes a fangirl wonder^_~

The end of issue.628 ties most of the loose ends in the series and sets the stage for the Winter Soldier comic; the collected volume is out in late September.

The only complaint I have is I wish they wouldn't change artists every few issues. It's so frustrating and the entire tone of the series changes with the art. Personal favourite is Steve Epting followed by Mike Perkins. I enjoyed the series and the slash relationship between the two characters. The villains were incredibly outlandish, their costumes are guaranteed to make a reader's eyebrows climb higher and higher, and made me roll my eyes but I can't blame them on Brubaker since they're a Marvel creation.

I'll post a chronological list of issues later in case anyone wants to read this before the film comes out.
lessonsinescapology: (Slash)
Note: This is a gay fiction, e-book review.

The Last Concubine by Catt Ford

Okay I confess. It was the pretty cover that lured me into reading this book. Spoilers ahead.
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lessonsinescapology: (Default)
I've just received vol.2 of the new compilation by Viz. It's so gorgeous! Better paper quality, original right to left format, colour pages from the artbook/Japanese DVD covers/etc, with terms explained at the back and comments by Clamp in the illustrations. This is definitely the edition to keep. I can't wait until Viz releases it all in this format.

Translation is average at best with no honorifics and I think some phrases could have had a better translation but oh well... Viz is not DarkHorse.
lessonsinescapology: (Default)
X Omnibus, vol.1: Let's start with the bad news. There are no honourifics and the translation is average at best. But with its bigger size, good paper quality, right to left format, multiple colour pages& tarot card illustrations, 3 volumes combined into 1, this is the edition to buy for posterity. I'm going to be collecting the omnibus editions as my normal X manga has very much deteriorated over the years since its original release.

Gate 7, vol.1-2: This series seems to promise a return to the old Clamp before they went all commercial. Mystical beings abound who are contracted to major Japanese historical figures with an epic ancient war about to erupt and a whole cast of characters with unclear allegiances and personalities. The art resembles the latter parts of X too. What I dislike are the real photographs being used as backgrounds, it's jarring to see it with hand-drawn characters superimposed on it. Chikahito as the main character/narrator is bothersome as well because he's like a carbon copy of Watanuki's personality which I never found endearing, plus he keeps stating the obvious like a dim-witted child.

If you like Kyoto/Japanese history& culture with a dash of the supernatural, this is a good series. Dark Horse's translation is good and there's a wealth of translation notes at the back of each volume. Something I immensely love as a fellow translator.
lessonsinescapology: (Default)
This is a gay fiction, e-book review.

Summary: Professor of Environmental Science/Wildlife studies at UNLV, Jack McBain, has spent his adult life trying to track a legend overheard during his youth. Jack remembers his grandparents telling stories of a race of people eradicated by European settlers in 1829. According to the legend, the Beothuk people didn’t die out as first thought, but were transformed into wolf shifters.

So far it sounds promising but it quickly crashes after that into poor writing.
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lessonsinescapology: (Default)
This is a gay fiction, e-book review. Life Lessons and its direct sequel Breaking Cover are by Kaje Harper. The length is between a novella and a novel so no worries about the story being too short to develop.

That said, Kaje Harper surprised me with her excellent writing. Spoilers ahead.
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lessonsinescapology: (Default)
Works read: Wolf Town series: Wolf Town, Push Pull, and Moon Run. Northern Shifters series: Marked, Feral, Lynx.

The author has created a world where shapeshifters of all kinds, not just werewolves, exist and writes about their relationships with other shifters, Normals aka ordinary humans, and psychics called Minders. All her series seem to feature a cameo appearance or mention of characters from other works. It reminds me of Clamp.
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lessonsinescapology: (Default)
I read the following works by Anderson: Broken Boundaries, The Assignment, Forever Broken, The Last Bite, and The Lost Books1-2.

To give Anderson credit, she writes m/m fiction with a wide variety of settings and characters. There are detectives, vampires, werewolves, and even space pilots.
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lessonsinescapology: (Default)
The Demon's Covenant and the Demon's Surrender are book.2 and 3 of Sarah Rees Brennan's trilogy. Unfortunately, they don't live up to the promise of the original.
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lessonsinescapology: (Default)
In m/m original fiction circles, the name that pops up very often is that of writer Josh Lanyon and his/her Adrien English Mysteries series. The series is comprised of 5 novels which in chronological order are:

1. Fatal Shadows
2. A Dangerous Thing
3. The Hell You Say
4. Death of a Pirate King
5. The Dark Tide

I finally had the chance to read the books and they don't disappoint.
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lessonsinescapology: (Blue)
Various spoilers for Ghost Story by Jim Butcher, Hounded by Kevin Hearne, Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth, Lover Avenged (vol.7), Lover Mine (vol.8), and Lover Unleashed (vol.9) by JR Ward.
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lessonsinescapology: (Default)
XXXholic by Clamp, vol.1-9: As far as I can tell, only 9 volumes are published in Thailand and it seems to indicate the series' unpopular nature considering the magic of having Clamp's name as a creator. I can't say I'm a fan either. The art is gorgeous in the spread pages and cover images but the way limbs resemble long chopsticks just looks silly. The cryptic comments and lack of a plot aside, the series' stance on issues bothers me. There isn't the moral sympathetic tone of Tokyo Babylon or the the "free will" idea of X, but a strange disregard of what's right and wrong. A certain ambivalence towards what befalls characters and the implied belief that they deserve their misfortune makes me really dislike the tone of Holic. I find myself strangely hating Yuuko too. Some fans say she's a feminist figure but frankly I can't see it. Her overtly sexual poses and clothes and the way she flirts with Watanuki, her drinking, laziness, lack of empathy for the people who come to her store, I can't sympathise with this character. I don't find her funny when she tries so hard to be humorous.

And if the ending of the series is like I heard about from fans, this is nearly 20 volumes of unresolved plot and characters. Ugh, thanks a lot Clamp.

Natsume Yuujin-Chou or Natsume's Book of Friends by Midorikawa Yuki, vol.1-9: I'm reading Viz's English edition and the translation is good even if I wish they'd kept the honorifics. I was introduced to this series through its animé series which must be popular in Japan considering the 4th season is coming in January 2012. That's rather remarkable for a show that isn't magical girl fluff, fanboy service, or shounen tournament style animé.

Natsume Takashi is the kind of character who is so unremarkable and ordinary that you are a bit surprised when you like him. He can see ghosts, youkai, etc and this makes his life hard as he gets shuffled from relative to relative until he lands at the kind Fujiwaras' household. He meets a powerful yokai who agrees to protect him from other spirits in exchange for receiving the Book of Friends (a contract book binding Yokai to service) from Natsume if the boy dies. While this all sounds familiar to any one who's been a manga/animé fan, Midorikawa's treatment of this premise distinguishes the series from anything currently available on the market. The manga and anime are both lovely in their own ways and feature a slow exposition of Natsume's life in the town, his relationships with humans and yokai, and dealing with the consequences of having a foot in both worlds.

The mangaka takes her time developing the characters, the dialogue and plot are obviously well-thought out and written with a sensitivity that is both mature yet childishly idealistic at times, and there's no patronizing tone or overt morality here. The reader/viewer sees both sides of the situation and it's left to them to decide. The series is ultimately about relationships and connections with the world and other people/entities. Natsume's kind and quiet nature is contrasted against several supporting characters, not least is his deceased grandmother who had the same ability but a very different life.

I highly recommend this title. It won't win over people who want action, fanservice, or pretty art, but for a beautifully crafted story then this is the best that's come out in years.
lessonsinescapology: (Default)
The best thing about this book is the gorgeous cover art by Anne Cain. I wish more gay fiction books would go beyond depicting two naked men on the cover.

Miles and the Magic Flute is written by Heidi Cullinan and it seems to be a book that's confused about its identity.

Some spoilers ahead.
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lessonsinescapology: (Default)
There are a few books I should review before this one but I've just finished reading the first volume of Del Rey's collected stories of Elric which are written by Michael Moorcock.

There will be spoilers here as it's unavoidable.
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