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.

Myths and Mysteries of Washington

Myths and Mysteries of Washington - Lynn Bragg A lot of these books are written by authors who really, earnestly believe what they're writing about and present the text as such, so this was a nice change of pace for paranormal mystery books. The author does not ever make the writing match a positive or negative belief of the events described. I've lived here for 10 years and a lot of these stories I was unfamiliar with, but the locations being familiar was exciting.

I also very much appreciate the sections that involve historical psychiatric institutions (especially the one on Frances Farmer) not being written in ableist (that is, negatively towards the mentally ill) ways. The outdated terminology 'insane asylum' was constantly written in quotation marks which was something I've never seen someone who isn't an pscyhiatry-critical advocate do. And the author didn't play up the 'insane asylums' being scary because of the patients, but instead because of the abusive doctors and nurses that treated the patients as lesser human beings. Thank you very much for that.

Test of Faith

Test of Faith - Aleksandr Voinov, Raev Gray The authors literally just took an ERP they did and made it into an ebook with no editing if the errors and awful excuse for pov changes are anything to go by.

Kafka on the Shore

Kafka on the Shore - Philip Gabriel, Haruki Murakami I hate Murakami, I know this already from trying to read 1Q84 and The Wind Up Bird Chronicle. I hate his sex scenes, his preoccupation with sexualizing teenager and prepubescent girls, his protagonists being obvious self-inserts fucking women he wishes he could fuck in real life, the fact his characters all sound the same and all go on long-winded diatribes about music and art and literature that sound like Murakami is trying way too hard to be deep.

I only tried to read this book because my friend told me there was a transgender character, and I am desperate for trans representation. But not even Oshima can save this book. Oshima is a horrible, horrible, horrible example of a transgender man. Murakami has no idea how to write transgender people and Oshima's monologue to those women about being trans was utterly disgusting and dysphoria-inducing and downright transphobic.

I should have dropped it as soon as Murakami described a girl's breasts in detail while simultaneously calling her child-like. What the fuck is that pedoshit.

Then the sex scene between her and the 15 year old hero was entirely unnecessary. Also this girl is someone the protagonist repeatedly relates to his long lost sister, what the fuck. But it's Murakami, unnecessary sex scenes with bonus pedophile/incest tones are par for the course.

Also the protagonist did not feel like a 15 year old at all.

Then I found out that eventually the story would involve the 15 year old having sex with a 50 year old woman repeatedly, a woman who is likely his long lost mother. Also scenes of cat torture were going to come out. No thanks.

It doesn't help that whoever translated this made some awful translation decisions. The prose is so bland and lifeless, and I imagine the characters had much more distinct voices in the original Japanese. Also the translator made the pointless decision to change all references to yen to USD. Who the fuck does that? Awful.


Revived - Cat Patrick I found this book on a list for books that have transgender characters, and I was really looking forward to it. BUT THEN:

"The format is she said/she said style-- or she said/he-she said, since Megan is transgender."

What the fuck is that shit? You introduce a trans character by misgendering them in one of the grossest ways possible. And these characters are supposed to be long time friends, so you'd think the cis friend would know how to talk about a trans person. But noooooooooooo. I'm not even going to bother to read the rest if this is how the author think you introduce someone as trans.

The Housekeeper and the Professor

The Housekeeper and the Professor - Yōko Ogawa, Stephen Snyder A beautiful story that is at once simple yet deep and thought provoking. The translation amazes me, honestly. Many times I've read a Japanese-to-English novel translation that felt stilted, empty of prose, with remnants of Japanese sentence structure awkwardly lurking in the passages. This book is translated so perfectly that you would never tell it was originally written in a vastly different language.

How Beautiful the Ordinary: Twelve Stories of Identity

How Beautiful the Ordinary: Twelve Stories of Identity - 'Michael Cart',  'Francesca Lia Block',  'David Levithan',  'Ron Koertge',  'Eric Shanower',  'Julie Anne Peters',  'Jennifer Finney Boylan',  'William Sleater',  'Emma Donoghue' I really want to give this more stars, but I was majorly disappointed. I went into this expecting an LGBT anthology. It described itself as anthology of gay, lesbian and transgender stories. But I think a more accurate description would be "a cis gay male romance anthology with a sprinkling of lesbians and trans people thrown in." Seriously, seriously disappointed. Also, would it kill to get some representation gay/bi trans people for once?

Let's break it down:

Cis gay male stories: 7
Cis lesbian stories: 3
Trans stories (none gay): 3 (2 FTM, 1 MTF)

What is up with that? It's not like cis gay men don't already dominate LGBT media already. It's ridiculous.

For what it's worth, I at least liked three of the stories in the anthology: The Missing Person (MTF), First Time (lesbian), and The Silk Road Runs Through Tupperneck, N.H. (gay male)

Otherwise, I'm not going to be recommending this to any lesbian or trans readers any time soon, honestly.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Blue Lily, Lily Blue - Maggie Stiefvater This Tumblr user describes my thoughts on this book/series currently well:

The Pomegranate King

The Pomegranate King - Nishta J. Mehra I finished this book in three days, a record these past few months, depression keeping me from reading much. I've had the book since 2013, when I won it in a Goodreads giveaway, but it has been languishing on my shelf unread until this week. Something happened in November that has ruined my mental health, and since that time I've obsessively thought about death. i haven't known loss personally, outside some pets. The two grandparents who have died did so when I was extremely young. Yet, thoughts of the possibility, the inevitability of being touched by death at some point, any point, plague me. I am scared about losing my mother, my pillar in life. I am scared about losing my father and siblings, constants even if we do not get along perfectly. I am scared of the unknown when I experience it myself, scared of not having a family of some sort who will support and love me on my deathbed. This is really too much for a 20 year old with suicidal tendencies to handle, and it's driving me to a breaking point.

I can't handle reading the fiction I usually enjoy, so looked on my shelf for a non-fiction book, anything to distract me with facts and hopefully little mention of death. I found The Pomegranate King, long forgotten, no idea what was in store for me in its pages.

Oddly enough, reading about Mehra's father's passing, and her discussion of the aftermath, with grief, has helped to ground me. For someone to lose someone so close to them, and to go on and continue to build a life, and the descriptions of grief, of always having it, a constant companion in memory of what happened, that helped somehow to ease my worries. I feel like, in a way, reading about what happened was sort of like a guidebook, a how-to on how to handle the inevitability of the loss of loved ones. For that I'm really grateful.

There's a lot more to be said about the contents of the essays- the discussion of religion and myth, of art and what they all mean for humanity. But my mind is obsessed with death, and so I focus on death in this review.

Other than some typos and grammar errors, the book is impeccably written. I can only wish that more people get to read it and experience it, that Mehra gets some well-deserved attention for her writing.

As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams: Recollections of a Woman in 11th-Century Japan

As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams: Recollections of a Woman in 11th-Century Japan - Sarashina, Ivan Morris The translation is adequate. I wish there were other translations to compare it with available though. I also wish that, in the case of any poetry translations, the original Japanese poems were preserved alongside the translations for comparison and teaching students of the language. You can only get so much out of notes going into literal variations and wordplays. I hope someday my fluency is great enough to read 更級日記 itself. She was an incredibly interesting and thought-provoking woman, and the way the translator sometimes talks of her in notes and the introduction, in this almost infantilizing and chauvinistic way, is quite annoying.

The Raven Boys

The Raven Boys  - Maggie Stiefvater This book was more phenomenal than I was expecting and I am so glad I read it. It really means a lot to me in a lot of ways I can't express. I like the use of ley lines and how everything is so subtly built up to the finale. i wish there were more major female characters? Like around Blue's age, her mother, Neeve and company are great but someone Blue could hang out with as an equal. The boys are all cool characters but it's too much dudes and straightness for me honestly. Not that I still don't like it for what it is. And maybe the sequels will surprise me, who knows. I also really liked how Adam's familial situation was handled, having dealt with similar issues in my life.

Of Metal and Wishes

Of Metal and Wishes - Sarah Fine I wish more of this book centered around the political tensions and less on the typical "boy->girl->boy" straight love triangle that plagues every Young Adult book ever. It's extremely well researched on the plight of workers and suppressed ethnic minorities, the author obviously did a lot of reading into Upton Sinclair and Uyghur oppression. Though I have to say this book did the romantic cliche better than others. I liked that Melik was always respectful of Wen's choice and consent, which is something that I rarely see unfortunately, drowning in "romance" that paints forced kisses and "you belong to me and only me" threats as the height of love.

Lines like these were nice:

'"Wen, don't do this unless you believe me. Don't betray yourself like that."' and 'Melik moves slowly, giving me all the time in the world to pull away.'

Juxtaposed with the constant (and realistic, thankfully) threat of sexual harassment and sexual assault Wen faces, these simple lines of Melik honoring and respecting her boundaries speak volumes.

I'm not sure how I feel about the author drawing "inspiration" from real-life ethnic issues (that is, Uyghur oppression by the Chinese government) to make a story about fictional ethnicities. It feels kind of tactless.

The socialist story of banding together and uprising against the oppressor class is nice to see in YA, even if it doesn't go as planned and the "revolutionary change" doesn't happen the way you would expect.

I'm hoping the (apparent?) sequel will focus more on the political plots and less on the romance (and no more love triangle.)

The Monster of Florence

The Monster of Florence - Douglas Preston The author's history as a fictional crime thriller writer shows through. This reads too much like a pulp thriller and less like a serious discourse on a real life serial killer. It focuses too much on the author's feelings and minor involvement in the issue for me to care for a large amount of pages. The random breaks to talk about the author's family life and the flavor-Italian were annoying too. I did learn a lot about the case I would not have before, not speaking much Italian, but it was a slog to get through this book.


Hannibal - Thomas Harris this was so beyond awful I'm personally offended I'm not even going to bother withproper typing rn, iam so mad what happenedto clsrices character infthisbook wtf was harrs thinking

Edited May 26: OK, now that I have a computer back I just want to add to this some. I wish I could vote this book zero stars. Or even just a half star. This is SOOOOO bad.

I don't even know how it became so awful. It was all going fine, the beginning of the book seemed the same as the last two. Maybe the larger cast of PoV characters made things more confusing, and the constant locale changing too, but it was decent?

But then! The last few chapters, as soon as it gets to the farm, felt like a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT BOOK. The writing quality plummeted completely and just... Clarice's character changed so suddenly, for no good or apparent reason. Other than apparently drugs and daddy issues. I don't even know what was going on. What was Harris thinking, did he just... completely blank on a good ending and went with what I would have taken for bad, wish-fulfilment fanfiction?

Clarice was an important character for me because she was a woman in a male-dominated field who was well-written, whose narrative did not erase the fact of sexism in our lives but constantly brought it to light and challenged it. And then it ends her story with one of the most gross romance cliches I can think of. "She loves him, she loves this sick and twisted cannibal, because she has daddy issues."

I'm going to pretend the last few chapters did not happen. I'm going to pretend Hannibal was eaten by the pigs, Clarice brought Mason and Krendler's plottings to light, everyone who needs to be arrested is, Krendler is totally ruined for life, and Clarice regains her honor and the respect of her peers (to a point) and continues to do good work in the police force.

Not... that ending.

I'm just really angry because I loved the first two so much for once and then a good series has to end with this crap.

The People in the Trees

The People in the Trees - Hanya Yanagihara .


Seraphina - Rachel Hartman This is a perfect book. The heroine is headstrong and gets things done, but she never has to shun being feminine or become "one of the boys" to do so, which I really hate seeing with female leads. And the dragons, the dragons! What a lovely approach to them, the complexities of dragon life in their true form as opposed to living among humans in saarantras... There's so many things in this world, and I love that Hartman didn't do tons of "world-info dumping exposition" like some fantasy writers do, instead letting you find out through glimpses and snippets as the characters go about their life. (there is a glossary in the back though for terms and history so that was helpful!) Also the end made me cry a lot! But it was a really good ending and I was happy with the romance taking that route.

Hartman's prose is amazing and many times I felt like I was reading carefully crafted poetry. There's almost a rhythm to her words, things that flow together and sound so right. Sometimes it was predictable what would happen in the plot, but the way she actually wrote what happened made it all the more interesting.

I really cannot wait for a sequel!


Wildthorn - Jane Eagland I was recommended this as a decent depiction of mental illness in fiction, however it is obvious from the summary it is not a hero with mental illness. Which was very disappointing to me because I got overly excited at the idea of seeing someone who was mentally ill AND gay as the hero, someone I could really relate to. So finding out that no, there's just the gay part, she's not really mentally ill, that dampened my enthusiasm.

In the end I did find the book all right.. I could relate to some aspects of the institutionalization (not entirely obviously) and the way women who are mentally ill are treated.

What I liked most was the romance, being between two women. The ending of the romantic plot is quite unexpected (or at least, for me, it came out of left field.) It felt like it was going to go into typical tropes for lesbian romance, but those were avoided in the best way possible.

The writing was also very good. Sometimes the prose felt dry and I skimmed over the non-dialogue sections. The conversations were very well written and realistic, and written to fit the time period, which I always like. First person narration is not my favorite but it felt OK here, even if the flashbacks were easily confused with the present due to layout.

Overall it was a decent read.

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