mage4mage

I'm Nate, a 21 year old gay transgender man living in the Pacific Northwest. I left Goodreads for this website after they insisted that transphobia doesn't count as bigotry. (Yes, I'm very bitter.)

 

My main interest is LGBT literature, especially specifically transgender literature, especially specifically gay/M4M transgender man literature. I also love linguistics and translation studies, historical fiction and SFF, especially if it involves LGBT romance (though I'm very tired of tragic trans/gay romance, and LGBT work written by non-LGBT authors), and I love non-fiction about history, biology and animals, and mental health studies. I'm a novice knitter and have been into reading the history of fiber craft lately.

The Ghost Bride: A Novel

The Ghost Bride: A Novel - Yangsze Choo Things I liked:

-The love triangle and insta-love cliches are sort-of turned on their heads, which was a pleasant surprise. I wish Li Lan could have gotten with a guy who was less chauvinistic though, but at least she actually had developed chemistry with Er Lang.
-The world-building is PHENOMENAL, I have no words for how well Choo brought the Realm of the Dead to life (...lol)

Things I disliked:

-There is a really bad issue with telling instead of showing. Also there has to be a better way to describe emotions in first person narratives besides having the character just flat-out say things like "I was in distress/I was so depressed/I was so angry."
-The author uses large, very uncommon words a lot where they don't seem warranted, they don't match the tone of the rest of the writing and dialogue, and I had to keep pausing and looking up definitions. I'm someone who is familiar with a LOT of uncommon words but many of these stumped me and frustrated me. Also, some of them weren't even used right, but probably just randomly grabbed after looking up the thesaurus.com entry for more common words to make the writing seem more impressive and faux-old-fashioned. (For example, the sentence "her horse, caparisoned in her saddlebags" doesn't work, a caparison is a cloth used for decorative purposes and to caparison means to dress a horse for showing or parades... Not something as mundane as a saddle bag.)
-The way the character has to stop and explain almost every Malaysian or Chinese word or cultural symbolism also throws you out of the story. Especially when the character derails a major plot event, and spends two paragraphs to explain something that has absolutely 0 bearing on the plot. Like I'm talking a huge pivotal moment of the story being halted to explain the history of some buildings and that history never actually has any part in the story itself.
-A lot of these could have been put into footnotes, and actually the author makes use of a footnote once. For something that really did not need a footnote because its easy to understand in context as is.
-Some obnoxious gender essentialism, with our heroine Li Lan needing to emphasize multiple times how she as a woman is just so tiny and pale and frail and weak, compared to all the men she interacts with, who are large and strong and HUGE and could break her like a twig.

Manning Up: Transsexual Men on Finding Brotherhood, Family & Themselves

Manning Up: Transsexual Men on Finding Brotherhood, Family & Themselves - Zander Keig, Mitch Kellaway, Heath Adam Ackley, Dustin Ashizz, Loren Cannon, Justin Cascio, Trystan T. Cotten, Lance Cox, Aaron H. Devor, lore m dickey, Scott Duane, Nathan Ezekiel, Jamison Green, Gus, Daisy Hernandez, James C. Knapp, Shaun LaDue, Micah, Chad Ratner, Ezekie My friend loaned me this two weeks ago and I finally finished it... It was not the most impressive of anthologies. The majority of the stories came from gender-conforming men in relationships with women and so I could not relate to a lot of the writing...

One essay I DID NOT like was Max Wolf Valerio's "Why I'm No Transgender." Originally written in 1998 when transsexual was the norm and transgender was mind-boggling. Yes, transgender has basically replaced transsexual in usage, but at the same time the definition never changed from what transsexual stood for, for the majority of society. You say 'transgender' to anyone and immediately the images conjured to their mind is that of grotesque surgeries and strange body modification through mad scientist pills and injections. Even in the transgender community itself, most people are still under the assumption all their fellow trans people want to medically and surgically transition in the same way. The 'sex' may be out of the word but it is not at all out of the meaning and obsession of the public mind.

The submissions that DID impress me and touch me were:

Always Moving Forward by Shaun LaDue. LaDue writes about being a First Nations trans man in Canada's group home system and how that affected and continues to affect coming out, transitioning and his life.

Men Like Me by A. Scott Duane. Duane recounts finding gay/queer male community and getting bottom surgery as a gender non-conforming queer trans man. (I related to the desire for that kind of community a lot as a GNC gay trans man myself.)

Not a Caricature of Male Privilege by Trystan Theosophus Cotten. Cotten writes about transitioning into a visible black Muslim man and how the change in society's treatment of him affected his views previously learned in radical feminist spaces and circles.

A Stranger Handed Me a Business Card by Gavin Wyer, about how connection with an older trans man at Gender Odyssey helped him through his transition. (Meaningful to me because of similar experiences with Gender Odyssey and older trans mentors.)

Did I Ask For This? by Lance Cox, on how moving to college to be out as transgender led him into activism by necessity, as the college had no accommodation or support for trans students. This was extremely relatable and made me so happy to read, as Cox discusses trying to find sexuality label that 'fit' before he realized/came out as male, going from lesbian to pansexual to bisexual, pushed by people's perceptions of him as a masculine woman which must equal lesbian. I had the same experience before finally accepting I was gay and only interested in men.

Just Living by Micah, about being a non-binary person and what that entails in regards to transition and coming out.

Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us

Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us - Kate Bornstein OK, I'm not getting sleep any time soon, so I am going to go ahead and write this review.

I loved this book. I love it a lot. I already knew I was going to, as Bornstein left a hugely positive impression on me during her key-note speech at Gender Odyssey '15. The book is pretty dated, but the message on the gender binary is something that speaks across the years of shifting cultural landscapes of the LGBT community. Her points on the concept of androgyny simply reaffirming the binary by implicating male and female as two natural bases and everything else as an in-between of those bases, were especially nice to see put into words.

While I agree with basically all of the meat of Bornstein's theorizing and critiques regarding the binary gender system, the issue of its enforcement particularly on transgender people, and some criticisms of the cisgender LGB populations, there were a few things I have to criticize.

(ETA: I forgot to include this in the review:)

The big one I disagree with is Bornstein saying that when it comes to homophobia, it is all based on gender nonconformance, and sexual practice has nothing to do with it. As a gender nonconforming gay trans man, I extremely disagree. Yes, when you are noticeably GNC, noticeably read as 'gay', you are opened up to so much more scrutiny, debasement and violence from homophobes. But that doesn't mean gender-conforming, "straight-passing" gay people are in the clear. How many times has a gay person gotten along in life without anyone realizing they were gay, because they don't "look or sound gay", and then ended up dead as soon as they think it's safe to come out?

Hetero perceptions of "gay sex" are absolutely a huge part of homophobia. The very basis for homophobia in Western society comes down to Leviticus 18:22: "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination." How much homophobic rhetoric and insults from straight men directly target sex between men? How many straight men flip out when learning a friend or acquaintance is gay, because "what if he tries to fuck me?" How much of the disgust straight men voice for gay men comes down to the idea of bottoming for anal sex or sucking another man's dick, because it's "the woman's role" and debasing, that to be the receptive partner is a sign of weakness?

"Gay sex" in itself could be seen as transgressing SEXUAL gender roles (gay/bi men taking the "woman's role" and vice verse for lesbians/bi women), which could then fit into Bornstein's theory, but she went out of her way to assert her belief that gender roles are separate from anything sexual in the instance of homophobia. It is just beyond naive to me.

Another issue is the insinuation that BDSM subculture and by association other alternative sexuality/kink subcultures are inherently "queer" and thus face the same issues as LGBT people. Very untrue. I don't know what it was like in the 80s/90s, and I don't know what it was like in Bornstein's particular S/M scene, which she describes as lesbian S/M, but overall kink scenes are definitely dominated (no pun intended) by cisgender-straight kinksters. The sides of these subcultures where cis-straight people make up the bulk of enthusiasts is usually homophobic and transphobic, either overtly or in a fetishistic way spun into a positive light. This isn't even touching on the sexism/misogyny perpetuated by cis-straight male doms. Also I just hate this assumption that overly sexual subcultures all have to do with LGBT people, a group that has been demonized on the basis of our sexual intimacy, which is usually greatly distorted to OVERsexualize us to better be painted as morally depraved by Christian puritans.

Basically, at the end of the day, cis-straight kinksters are still cisgender and straight, and beyond their sexual tastes they are no different than non-kink cisgender straight people, and they get all the same societal and cultural benefits. I don't see why they should ever be grouped with LGBT people.

Other than that I love this book more than I can properly convey in writing at 6am on no sleep.

I really recommend this to all transgender people, especially if you identify as nonbinary, genderqueer, or are gender-non-conforming.



Two Boys Kissing

Two Boys Kissing - David Levithan I read a library copy of this book. When I finally got to the end, I was literally holding back tears. This book is beyond beautiful.

Originally started as a short prose piece to be included in the LGBT anthology How Beautiful the Ordinary, which I also enjoyed, this novel is an amazing testament to Levithan's ability to weave poetry into a full-length story.

Inspired by real-life events, the story finds its center with Craig and Harry, ex-boyfriends who decide to try to break the Guiness World record for longest kiss. Their hope is that the kiss will draw attention to the recent gaybashing of a fellow student at their school, Tariq, and with that draw attention to homophobia in general. Several other characters' stories are explored alongside this, weaving in and out of Craig and Henry and Tariq's story. Peter and Neil, boyfriends dealing with trust issues and their own family. Cooper, closeted and seeking positive attention from myriad strangers of gay dating apps. Ryan and Avery, small-town boys who meet at a gay prom and are immediately drawn together.

All throughout this, the stories are narrated by the spirits of gay men who died of AIDs during the AIDs Crisis of the 90s, a devastating time for the gay community. The most beautiful prose is found in these sections, where the spirits discuss what their lives were like, what their deaths were like, what they hope for the new generation of gay children. It is so heartrending to read, but also at times extremely motivational and inspiring. So many wonderful life lessons come from these narrators.

What really compelled me to read this book, after sitting on it for over a year, was learning that one character was a transgender boy. I myself am a gay transgender man, and let me tell you, I have struggled so much trying to find any representation of this group I belong to in any media. It is extremely few and far between. It makes me so, so happy that Levithan thought to include a character like Avery in his novel, it makes me so hopeful for future gay (and bi) trans boys struggling to figure out who they are, seeking out relatable characters to help guide them. Being transgender is difficult to grasp, and there is a lack of representation in media, moreso for transgender boys and men. There is an even deeper lack of gay or bisexual trans characters, and again moreso for transgender boys and men. I am 21, and I didn't fully understand and accept who I was until after that 21st birthday. When you're gay and trans, gender non-conforming to boot, you see what little transgender rep is there and its all very straight, very gender conforming transgender people, and you think "well, all of my feelings about my assigned gender being suffocating must be wrong. I'm not like them. I'm straight, I like girly things, I must just have issues." And even when I have come out, doctors still try to tell me I am just someone with issues...

So, that is why characters like Avery mean a lot to me, and should mean a lot to everyone. They are so important.

There is one little nitpick I have: Avery mentions being put on hormones before puberty, to keep him from having the "wrong puberty." This is certainly an ideal, but in reality most young children who are pre-pubescent or just starting their first puberty would not get hormones. They would get a special class of medication called puberty blockers, and left on those for a few years before being given HRT.

Also I disliked the use of Avery describing himself as "born in a female body" multiple times, as this is an outmoded conceptualization of gender dysphoria and assigned sex, but I understand these arguments are probably not something people outside the transgender community are privy to. Though there are a great many more medical professionals who are beginning to understand this issue which makes me happy.

TL;DR It is a beautiful and wonderful book, please read it.

Just Add Hormones: An Insider's Guide to the Transsexual Experience

Just Add Hormones: An Insider's Guide to the Transsexual Experience - Matt Kailey This is a really amazing book. While a lot of trans people I see mention it as something that would mostly help ignorant cisgender people, I think they're not giving Kailey's discussions on identity and sexuality enough credit. The first and middle parts of the book are parts I highly recommend trans men and trans-masculine people look into, especially if you consider yourself gay or preferring men, because Kailey's writing on being gay while trans, and what it means to BE a trans man, what it means to live transition to male when you cannot or do not want to relate to traditional masculinity and male gender roles, are extremely engrossing and relatable. Maybe eye-opening if you haven't thought about these issues before.

The language is obviously dated- the book was published in 2005, and even before that, Kailey came out and began his transition in 1997, at 42 years old. The language of his generation at the time of writing is what many trans people would view as offensive or incorrect now. Some of the medical aspects of transition he writes about are dated too. Keep this in mind while reading.

There are a lot of good messages to trans people in general as well.

"It might sound strange to take pride in something that has nothing to do with winning the Nobel Prize, saving a life, or discovering the cure for cancer, but cultivating self-pride is an important step for people who have been shunned, ridiculed, and basically treated just downright nastily for a long time. I've been called "sick" and I've been called "brave," but I don't believe I'm either. I'm just a person struggling to get by in this world, like everyone else, while dealing with life's little practical jokes. In my case, one of my issues, besides the fact that there's never enough money, that I'm getting older every day, and that mechanical things always break down, is that I'm a transsexual. It never goes away, just like impending death and yearly taxes. It's not a curse and I'm not a victim. It's just a fact.

We don't know why some people are trans. Maybe we'll never find out, and if we don't, does it matter? It's simply the way some people are, whatever the reason, and by taking pride in ourselves, we can take back the power that has been siphoned away from us, pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and move on. Let's get over it, already. The choice is ours."


-Page 113, chapter "A Matter of Choice"

Kailey was truly an amazing trans elder, who passed away at age 59 in 2014. He was a staunch advocate for trans rights and recognition, but also a lot of 'radical' opinions for someone in the 90s and early 2000s- the recognition of people outside the gender binary, the encouragement of gender non-conformity even among binary people, and the acknowledgement not everyone wants to transition or needs to transition in the same way, especially not medically. He was a very important voice for all of us. R.I.P.

From the Inside Out: Radical Gender Transformation, FTM and Beyond

From the Inside Out: Radical Gender Transformation, FTM and Beyond - Morty Diamond I bought this because I have developed a fanboy crush on one of the contributors of the anthology and found it while googling him... I'm glad I bought it. Extremely beautiful, and I'm pleased how many of the entries were from the viewpoint of being gay/men attracted men. This is a very diverse collection of writing though- not just trans men but non-binary people, multiple authors of color, disabled authors, speaking on many issues of identity and life. I would definitely recommend this.

A lot of the writing has thoughtful exploration of the gender binary and living within or outside it as a trans man or nonbinary person. I would really recommend anyone who identifies with those identities to look through this.

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster - Jon Krakauer This was a really well-written book and I'm amazed the author was able to write it so soon after the disaster. I'm glad I finally got around to reading my father's copy from years ago.

One thing that bothered me, though it is extremely minor in the grand scheme of things, I'm transgender so I feel like I need to note it:

The author very early on mentions Jan Morris, a writer who is also a trans woman. The way he mentions her involves saying her past name (known as 'dead names' in the trans community), then her correct legal name, and then going on to refer to her as a man even though she had been out for a long time by the time he wrote this book. I'm hoping the writer has had more exposure to transgender people and issues and doesn't think that way about us anymore.

Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation

Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation - Kate Bornstein, S. Bear Bergman Beyond beautiful. Beyond important. I can't even put into words what I felt reading the writing in this anthology. So many wonderful, beautiful words about trans life from such a diverse group of writers. Every trans person should read this anthology.

The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman After 7 years, I finished this book. I originally got a copy when going to a reading in Seattle, when Gaiman was promoting the release of The Graveyard Book (though, honestly, 14 year-old me was more excited for the Coraline film preview.) I don't know why it took me so long to finish this- I got to the third to last chapter at some point and just forgot it in my mire of mental health problems and school troubles, I guess.

I'm glad I finished it though. The ending was perfect when coming down from the climax of the story, and it leaves you hopeful for Bod while also feeling like the story was complete enough to be satisfactory. Many elements of the story are vague enough to leave you wondering but still allow you to draw your own conclusions. (Such as Silas, for example.)

I'm sad about Scarlett- I was very happy for her reaction at the end, it was realistic, but it seemed over too fast with her part in the story.

I've always been unsure about Gaiman- I love his children's books but hate everything he's written for adults. I feel like The Graveyard Book is his best writing honestly, along with Coraline. Top 2 for sure. Followed by those picture books... Then everything else way at the bottom.

Sexual Metamorphosis: An Anthology of Transsexual Memoirs

Sexual Metamorphosis: An Anthology of Transsexual Memoirs - Jonathan Ames, Richard von Krafft-Ebing, Mark Rees, Deirdre McCloskey, Aleshia Brevard, Calpernia Sarah Addams, Donna Rose, Jennifer Finney Boylan, Lili Elbe, Harry Benjamin, Christine Jorgensen, Jan Morris, Rene Richards, Caroline Cossey, Loren Cameron, Mario  Martino A collection of excerpts of various memoirs or autobiographies written by (binary) trans people, mainly women (like three trans men featured), from the late 1800s to the early 2000s. All of it is very focused on surgical transition. Also the majority of the authors are pretty well-to-do, and all white people as far as I can see. The editor, Ames, makes it clear in his introduction he has something of a fetishistic interest in trans women, which was off-putting, but of course all he wrote was the introduction. Worth reading for brief windows into trans life over the last century and a starting point to finding which memoirs you want to read in full. Keep historical context well in mind!

Upgraded

Upgraded - Robert Reed, Peter Watts, Neil Clarke, Madeline Ashby, Tobias S. Buckell (suicide TW)

This was a mixed bag. I liked it for the most part, barring certain stories written by male authors involving sex work, and was pleased there was attempts at LGBT inclusion, and there were a lot of authors of color too.

My favorite stories were:

"Tender" by Rachel Swirsky: This spoke to me so much. I think the narrator is supposed to be someone who is dying slowly, from illness maybe, and that is why they want to die so badly. As someone who has struggled with suicidal ideation and wanting very badly to die, though, I read it from that point of view. The feelings and emotions of someone who wants everything to be over with so badly, but mental health interventions prevent it, and everyone tells you how awful people who commit suicide are, or guilt trip you about THEIR feelings. What about my feelings? Why am I awful for hurting so bad I want to die to escape? Just have a lot of feelings about this story.

"Musée de l'Âme Seule" by E. Lily Yu: I've never gone through severe, limb-damaging physical trauma. But I've gone through trauma. And I've struggled with PTSD for years. I've experienced the isolation, the distancing of loved ones who do not want to bother supporting someone they now see as a stranger, who maybe they come to resent for things outside your control entirely. I've experienced the self-hate and the wishing for normalcy and the breakdowns. And I've experienced the relationships and community-building with others in similar straits, shared experiences, building up a positive state of mind from the shambles of abandonment and mental illness with their support and love and understanding. These are the things this short story made me think about and made me remember to cherish. You lose a lot when trauma and mental illness become a part of your life and person, but you can gain just as much from the ashes.

The Collection: Short Fiction from the Transgender Vanguard

The Collection: Short Fiction from the Transgender Vanguard - Robin Cook, Alice Doyle, Everett Maroon, Carter Sickels, Katherine Scott Nelson, Tom Léger, Riley MacLeod, Ryka Aoki, Susan Jane Bigelow, Imogen Binnie, Casey Plett, Red Durkim, K. Tait Jarboe, R. Drew, RJ Edwards, A.  Raymond Johnson, Donna Ostrowsky, Terence Diamond, Cyd I liked this for the most part, though granted I skipped over at least 5 of the stories. I am pretty sure my favorites were Greenhorn by K. Tait Jarboe (rape tw), To The New World by Ryka Aoki, Runaways by Calvin Gimpelevich, Ramona's Demons by Susan Jane Bigelow, Dean & Teddy by Elliot DeLine, and War With Waking Up by Noel Arthur Heimpel (I cannot explain how utterly accurate and relatable this is to read as a mentally ill trans person).

I didn't like "The Queer Experiment" by Donna Ostrowsky specifically, mostly because THERE IS NOTHING TRANS ABUT THE STORY. Nothing made clear at least. I guess you could read any of the characters as trans if you wanted but literally nothing is stated and it felt like a waste of time to read when I got the anthology to read about trans characters.

Queer Italy: Contexts, Antecedents and Representation

Queer Italy: Contexts, Antecedents and Representation - Miguel Andres Malagreca "Whenever I use the word straight, I am referring to heterosexist individuals and not to heterosexuality per se. In my view, heterosexual individuals who are not heterosexist can be queer as much as gay persons can act in accordance with heterosexism."

lol

lol

lol

Also this person consistently refers to LGBT people as 'queers', not queer people, 'queers', and writes as if transsexuality and transgender identity are compeltely distinct and separate concepts. This was published in 2007.

Everything I hate about ~queer theory~ in a few pages of introduction. What a feat. Not reading this.

Grim

Grim - Jeri Smith-Ready, Tessa Gratton, Jon Skovran, Shaun Hutchinson, Myra McEntire, Amanda Hocking, Christine   Johnson, Julie Kagawa, Malinda Lo, Jackson Pearce, Kimberly Derting, Rachel Hawkins, Saundra Mitchell, Sonia Gensler, Claudia Gray, Sarah Rees Brennan, Ellen Hopkin This is going in my #LGBT tag because there is at least the Malinda Lo story, but unfortunately its 99% hetero shit. Basically the majority of my thoughts on this anthology was "it could have been gayer, also there was an opportunity for a gay trans man and you missed it." Here are my thoughts now that I've finished this:

The Key by Rachel Hawkins: Honestly very boring and forgettable. I didn't even remember reading this by the time I finished the anthology.

Figment by Jeri Smith-Ready: This was okay I guess, not very memorable or engaging, but it felt extremely out-of-place with the rest of the stories.

[vvv these three are my favs! vvv]

The Twelfth Girl by Malinda Lo: I LOVED this story. It has some Girl/Girl fraught romance going on and its great. Malinda Lo is an author I want to like, but whose novels are always impossibly boring to read and never end in a satisfying way (why can't gay couples just be together and be happy?) But for some reason this short story was the best thing by Lo I've ever read, which is a little sad because the writing is still pretty boring. But not NEARLY as boring as her full-length novels. The characters were actually engaging and felt like their own people, the interaction between them was fun, the imagery was repetitive but interesting.

The Raven Princess by Jon Skovron: I've literally never heard of this author before this short story but I think it's one of my favorite stories. The twist that the princess actually prefers to be a raven and the hunter decides joining her in ravenhood is preferable to a life where he would be forced to kill something, that's perfect. I need more stories where shedding humanity and leaving human society is a positive thing. Also of course, the most excellent part of the story: adorable gay giant couple and their tiny human child. I wish we got to see more of them, I would read an entire novel about giant husbands and their baby raising adventures.

Thinner Than Water by Saundra Mitchell: This is a story about parent-child incest. There is a lot I have to say about this short story, and a lot I have said on my personal blog which will never be linked here. What I will say: it is extremely, extremely important to have media that shows anger and violent, vengeful thoughts are an extremely common and normal part of the thought process of a sexual abuse survivor. To see it written out so clearly, with no judgment, so incredibly relatable as if my own thoughts were taken and put into words by a stranger, was amazing in ways I can't properly put into words. Basically every thought the main character had is one I had. And the same thing happened- the total dismissal that there is anything wrong going on even when it is found out. The blame and disgust being directed at me, a child, instead of the guardian who had all the power in the situation. Such an accurately written account of rape culture. It would have been interesting if the story explored how survivors are treated when their violent urges borne out of self-defense are judged more negatively than anything their abuser did too, but the ending with the father being sent to the torture chambers is more than I've ever gotten before so I'll take it.

[^^^ these three are my favs! ^^^]

Before the Rose Bloomed by Ellen Hopkins: I actually don't like Hopkins' poetry so I skipped this after a few pages.

Beast/Beast by Tessa Gratton: While the writing in this story is LOVELY, heterosexual Beauty and the Beast retellings are a dime a dozen. This isn't even a very different retelling, there wasn't anything new. I just pretended Beauty was a boy and mentally replaced all mentions of 'girl' in my mind to get any enjoyment out of the story.

The Brothers Piggett by Julie Kagawa: I appreciate the message this story sends but I don't think I had fun reading it. I would have younger boys read this though, for the message.

Untethered by Sonia Gensler: Didn't leave much of an impression.

Better by Shaun David Hutchinson: This story started out interesting but then it got to a completely and utterly unnecessary rape scene that was so badly written and then totally ignored for the rest of the story. Fuck this author.

Light It Up by Kimberly Derting: AMAZING retelling of Hansel and Gretel. The imagery and atmosphere is very good. The characters definitely sounded like young siblings, though I wish the word 'bitch' didn't need to be thrown around so much to drive that point home. I'm really confused how a giant barbecue grill was in the wooden cabin or how the villain got missing person posters for the random hikers he ate, but am willing suspend disbelief.

Sharper Than A etc by Christine Johnson: Uninterested, skipped.

A Real Boy by Claudia Gray: This was basically the same as every other "boy-shaped robot becomes too human, falls in love girl" story. Why does it always have to be a binary gendered robot? Why can't it be a genderless robot? Think outside the box here people.

Skin Trade by Myra McEntire: Skipped the fuck out of this. If something reads exactly like a PUA fantasy from the get-go with no clear criticism of that thought process, it is not worth the time to read.

Beauty and the Chad by Sarah Rees Brennan: Okay, this was cute, but also I am soooooooooooo sick and fucking tired of these "girl crossdresses as boy, boy falls in love thinking she's a boy, thinks he's ~gay~ but she reveals she's a girl so its okay happily ever after" HOW FUCKING STRAIGHT CAN YOU GET! Oh my god. Just write two dudes falling in love, its okay to write about two guys in love, 99.99999% of media is straight as shit. Throw us a bone. Or hey, you know who has even less media representation? Gay trans men. (Like me, hi!) No, I've literally never ever seen gay trans men in any published work of fiction. The one time is in a German film no one who isn't trans cares about. But these girls-crossdress-make-straight-guys-question-sexuality stories are everywhere and I hate it I hate it I hate it. Cishet default is the worst default.

The Pink by Amanda Hocking: At this point I was totally worn out and done with how aggressively heterosexual and cis these stories were so I have no positive thoughts to this one. It was more normative straight romance and was badly paced and had multiple plot holes, the end.

Sell Out by Jackson Pearce: Boring internal monologue and then he kisses a dead girl. What an anticlimatic end to the anthology.



Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History Without the Fairy-Tale Endings

Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History Without the Fairy-Tale Endings - Linda Rodriguez McRobbie I have a lot of small issues with how this book is worded throughout, but what really made me dislike it was the final chapter about "mad princesses." It was so over-the-top ableist I don't even know where to begin. This isn't my blog or a place to discuss prejudice so I don't want to bother going into it, but just know it was extremely upsetting to read as someone very much affected by ableism against severely mentally ill people. If I have to read the words 'mad' or 'insanity' one more time I don't know what the fuck I am going to do, these terms are so fucking outdated and this would be common knowledge to anyone who read mental illness advocacy literature and activism.

If anyone who sees this is interested about ableism against the mentally ill please look in to the topics of 'anti-pschiatry' (which I am not, but there is very important issues covered by this branch of activism/academia), 'mad pride', and just 'mental illness ableism'.

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life - Bryan Lee O'Malley Just re-reading these comics out of boredom. Middle school nostalgia... Not a perfect comic at all (very straight dude nerd shit) but oh well. I still wish I looked like Ramona in some part of my heart.

Currently reading

A Room with a View by E.M. Forster
The Force Awakens (Star Wars) by Alan Dean Foster
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk
Women in the Language and Society of Japan: The Linguistic Roots of Bias by Naoko Takemaru