Tag Archives: lgbt

Book Review: The Fox’s Quest

Last year, I reviewed YA LGBT book The Fox’s Mask, the first in the Kitsune Trilogy, by Anna Frost. I really enjoyed it, and was interested in seeing how the story would progress.

I received a copy of the second book, The Fox’s Quest, and was really excited to jump in. I will do my best to talk about the book without giving away any spoilers! If you haven’t read the first book though, I recommend doing so before reading this review, because I have to talk about some things that happened there.

Okay, did you read the first book?

Did you?

Alright, I warned you!

The book picks up not far from where the first book left off. Sanae is dead, but for some reason her soul has stayed on, following around Akakiba and Yuki in her fox form, and helping them on their journey. Akakiba is very much suspicious of the spirit and doesn’t acknowledge who she claims to be, though he still follows her advice, which I find adorable in his stubborn willingness. The dragon Drac is also around, and it is immediately obvious that there is discontent because of the bond between Yuki and his dragon companion.

Nuuuu boys. /tears

Anyways, as the story goes on, we learn more about what is causing the magic to fade from the land, something that is of course detrimental to the Fox Clan and any other spiritual beings in the world. The quest to find the source leads to lots of interesting fights, new characters, and new twists in the story – it was really enjoyable because there were new layers being discovered throughout the book that showed that the plot was much deeper than “let’s kill the Fox Clan.”

What I liked:

  • You know, this time, I didn’t have any twitches to the individual voices of the characters. I thought they were all well done. Part of this might be that I am familiar with the characters now, so I am more comfortable with their voices.
  • I felt like Mamoru had more time within the story, and I like that this character had become such a major plot point.
  • Sanae torturing shinobi was pretty hilarious and amazing.
  • Akakiba did stay true to the gender he identified with – male. Anna had commented on my previous review saying that this would be the case, but I want to say that I really appreciated the dialogue between Yuki and Akakiba on the topic when it was broached. *applauds Anna*
  • Also the boys were just so cute when they finally talked things out *flails*
  • There were a lot of great fight scenes!
  • The story ends with a lot to still be discovered!

What I didn’t like:

  • This is totally my own thing, and I don’t think it’s something that Anna did wrong at all. But I really wish that the boys had resolved things sooner rather than later. BUT that leaves room for more in the third book, right? [RIGHT?!]

The book is already out, so make sure you get your hands on it! I can’t wait for the third one to come out. 🙂

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Book Review: The Fox’s Mask

I don’t consider myself a reader of YA novels. That’s not because I have anything against the genre, though. I just generally tend to lean toward books that are more *clears throat* adult in content.

Okay look, I like some smutty stuff, I admit it. It’s not all I read, but these days my time for reading is limited, and maybe I’m drawn more to smutty fiction than anything else.

The only YA book I have previously read [aside from the Harry Potter series] is Cinder, by Marissa Meyer [Tori did a review of it you can check out here]. I keep walking past the young adult section of my local Barnes & Noble, eyeing all the different novels, slightly overwhelmed, and also not quite sure if I will find something that really catches my interest.

And I’m babbling. What I mean to say is, I was pleasantly surprised when I was sent a review copy of The Fox’s Mask, by Anna Frost. This book is labeled as young adult, but it is also labeled as being LGBT, and set in an alternate reality feudal Japan. I was instantly curious and excited and jumped right in. I am also an anime fan, so this book seemed to promise a beautiful mix of things I enjoy.

I have to admit that there is one theme in particular that I really want to talk about in my review, especially if anyone else reads it and wants to discuss it further. The problem is that one element is a huge spoiler. So most of this review will be spoiler-free, until that moment.

The book is written in third person but from the points of view of different characters. The text doesn’t shift how it looks to show who is talking, but it is still generally clear whose point of experience we are hearing the story from. I enjoyed Anna’s style of writing – there is a lot of dialogue and inner monologue, but also great descriptions of settings. Though I was immediately picturing a Rurouni Kenshin setting in my mind, it was just the base for the world she described. The dialogue of the characters flowed nicely, and only every once in a while was I jarred slightly when an internal monologue sounded extremely “teenage-angst-ish.”

The main characters are Akakiba and Yuki. Akakiba is Yuki’s tutor, teaching him the way of demon hunting. Akakiba is 18, and Yuki is only 15. The prologue shows that their meeting was unfortunate, but for some reason Yuki has stayed with Akakiba for three years at the time of the first chapter. Akakiba is a very smart-mouthed character who reminded me slightly of Edward Elric – so of course I liked him right away. Yuki was tough, but not as loud as Akakiba. I liked the balance of their personalities and how they worked together.

With the introduction of demons, it is obvious that this story will have a lot of magical/spiritual elements. Anna weaves in a lot of symbolism and words from the Japanese culture that I appreciated – though she used the Japanese terms to describe some things, I felt like it was always obvious what she was talking about. I’m always on the fence about using different languages to describe things within a story, but this is an instance where I feel like it mostly worked. There were only one or two times I had to think about what was being referred to.

The overarching plot of the story is that for some reason, magic seems to be fading from the land. Healing spirits aren’t around their shrines, there are fewer dragons, and even fewer demons, so it seems. The additional points of view are of Akakiba’s younger sister, Sanae, who adds a different view as trouble starts to emerge within the Fox Clan, and also offers a chance to show some of the traditions and special abilities of the group. Other main characters whose views are used are Mamoru and Jien. Mamoru is from a rival clan, and his story eventually reveals how deep the demon problem is becoming. Jien is a friend of the family, a monk who Akakiba had helped save, and often the comedic relief.

What I liked:

  • The feudal Japan style setting
  • The incorporation of a cultural background with the supernatural, spirits, demons, and dragons felt natural with the story line
  • The undertones of attraction between Yuki and Akakiba
  • I was actually caught off guard with how the story progressed and the ending of the book
  • There wasn’t a love triangle o/

What I didn’t like:

  • Sometimes the inner monologue of the characters sounded jarringly younger, which might just be a personal preference
  • While I liked what Mamoru offered in his chapters, I almost wish there was more – I felt like the balance of points of view was weighted heavily on the two main characters, and having multiple points of view I feel should be well rounded

Recommend if: You like anime set in a feudal/Japanese universe, and supernatural type stories. I could see this being an anime, or a manga, any day.

The book comes out tomorrow, Friday October 19!

Okay, if you have read the book or don’t mind spoilers, here is the part I really want to talk about.

No seriously, spoiler ahead, just stop now if you don’t want to be spoiled for an end of the book reveal.

….you got it?

 

Okay…

 

Continue reading

Review: The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is fucking marvelous. Pardon my French, but it’s true. This book, by Emily M. Danforth, is absolutely fucking marvelous. It is exactly the kind of book that young girls – and young boys – should be reading, starting maybe around 13 or 14, whenever it is that kids start their freshman years of high school.  This is a coming-of-age novel with a narrator who isn’t a perfect Mary Sue, but who is incredibly likable in spite of her quirks and faults. Cameron Post is conflicted, intelligent, funny, sensitive, introverted, and athletic, and also somebody I’d truly love to know.

The Miseducation of Cameron PostWhile I certainly can’t profess to have shared Cameron’s experiences – mainly because I’ve never been a teenager in early 1990s small-town Montana who winds up sent to a gay conversion therapy camp – I can certainly relate to her. Her story is all about learning to be who you are, sifting through the nonsense to find a few rare glittering shards of truth. I remember all too well the intensely private internal struggle between the religious dogma that’s dictated your life until you’re old enough to start questioning things and the dawning realization that your sexual orientation isn’t exactly going to be acceptable at prom. To this day, though I’m now closer to 30 than I am 20, I still cringe inside when people ask me tacky questions about lesbians, or talk to be as if I’m some kind of authority on LGBT issues just because I like girls. I turn the serious bits and bats of being queer into broad jokes that even Saturday Night Live won’t bother with because it’s just easier sometimes. Cameron rebels quietly and in a natural, unforced way, which is what I think I admire most about her. She’s a person.

This really isn’t an easy book. But that makes it all the more interesting, with a main character who takes the time to tell us about where she’s coming from – starting with her parents’ sudden death in a car accident when she’s twelve – and where she wants to go. Cameron is plagued by a situation that seems ripped from a blog post gone viral: religious zealots who are not evil but who really and truly just want to help, failing massively thanks to their own ignorance. However flawed they are (and believe me, they are flawed), I love that the characters’ faults are realistic, keeping the book from turning into a morality play stocked with the same old clichés you find all too often in LGBT fiction.

But at the same time, the population of Miles City does seem familiar: Irene, the childhood crush; Lindsey, the budding political activist from Seattle; Mona, the older, experienced college girl; Coley, the gorgeous country girl who always maintains her heterosexuality at all costs, including at Cameron’s expense. We’ve all known girls like them before. (We’ve even loved some of them.) Cameron’s other friends are avid pot smokers whose hobbies largely involve breaking into abandoned hospitals, and they sound like what they are – guys I would have loved to know in high school, but who my adult self knows are the kind of friends who love you but could still get you arrested. Her aunt Ruth has found Jesus and really just wants Cameron to find him too so that they’ll be sure to get to heaven when they die, and she does what she does out of love – it’s clearly depicted as a loving act, although we know how terribly, tragically wrong Ruth is.

The writing is simple without being simplistic, complex without being convoluted. It’s on the longer side, 354 pages in my e-book copy, which is perfect because it allows the plot to unfold naturally. As you’ve seen from other reviews of mine, I can’t take a book that’s too short to really tell the story.  Now, of course, that can go the other way, when a book is overly long and takes forever to get to the point, but this book strikes the right balance. Don’t be intimidated by the length, because the humor and realism will more than make you forget about that. And I love that the author, Ms. Danforth, tells the story of how it’s perfectly fine to be the way that you are, whatever that way is, with subtlety and tact and grace. It’s far more effective than beating her readers over the head with a proverbial shovel, and infinitely more respectful of their intelligence.

But don’t read The Miseducation of Cameron Post just because I’m telling you to read it. Read the book because, like I said at the beginning of my review, it’s fucking marvelous.

Review: A Midwinter Prince

Since this is my first review here, I just wanted to say that I never used to read romance novels. More specifically, hetero romance novels. I couldn’t handle the fluff, the cheesy lines, the bodice ripping. It was all too much for me. However, in discovering m/m novels, I often find an awesome balance of romance, angst, and sexiness mixed with a good story as its backbone. And no bodices to be found. A Midwinter Prince by Harper Fox was an exciting, suspenseful read that held all the aspects that I enjoy in a good romance, without actually being a romance. It’s a story revolving around two men from two totally different worlds, and I have to say it broke my heart at least three times. I ached for these boys so much that at one point I allowed myself only three hours of sleep so I could read on, repeating to myself It has to get better.

It starts off with the main character Laurie, who is the only son in a wealthy family in London, and whose passion for being in the theater [and for men] is overruled by his father’s strict and dangerous ideas on how things should be. Forced into a life that he is too afraid to leave, he takes a step out of his rich world when he sees a handsome young homeless Romanian named Sasha on the streets one winter night and reaches out to him.

It’s from this point that Laurie’s life changes rapidly, as his worry for Sasha leads him through the underbelly of the city that he never really looked at before. But it is also here that he begins to learn that he can fight his way out of the cage that he is in, and it is through Sasha that he discovers that it isn’t so bad, living a little rough. I enjoyed the way that Fox created these two characters, with personalities that meshed so well together despite their different backgrounds and lots that life dealt them. Laurie is determined to protect Sasha from the streets, but Sasha is more worried about what would happen if he left them. They both support each other and I felt there was not one person who was the stronger of the two – they each had their weaknesses that the other held up. These characters were strong and developed, and each time they did something that caught me off guard, even if I didn’t like what they did, I saw how it worked for their character.

Eventually the two begin to settle into a new way of living as lovers after Laurie comes to terms with who he is with his family, and the thought what could possibly go wrong pops up. Then the past that Sasha had been hiding from comes running through the door, disrupting everything and sowing seeds of doubt into Laurie’s mind. Without giving anything away, cue my heart breaking all over the place for him. Hit after hit threatens to tear the two apart and test their new love for each other.

What really got me in this was the amount of realistic angst – the truth behind everything that was slowly revealed as the story went on, the fact that there was so much failure and each step forward for the two of them seemed to be followed by a trip on a hidden crack. There was a point where I actually believed there was a chance that this book wouldn’t have a happy ending, and I was almost okay with it. Almost.

Overall, this book has a storyline that kept me connected to the characters and interested in what happened to them, as well as just the right amount of hot sexy scenes in between the angst. I enjoy tortured souls, what can I say!