🌹 Reviews: Permanent Record by Mary M.K. Choi

The first fifty to hundred pages on this book are fantastic. There was so many good lines about identity, depression, race and how all of those things are intermix in a confusing fashion that make it really hard to explain unless you are living it. At one point our main character Pab says, “I don’t even know what we’re arguing about at this point, but it’s clear that being locked in an idiot’s arms race of saying ignorant things is easier than having a real discussion.” That’s a fucking brilliant line, and contextually an even more brilliant summary on how important discussions often get handled.

The next hundred of pages however? A mess. The author’s acknowledgements make a point to say that second books are really hard and she broke her brain trying to write it and I think this book needed more time to actually bake in her mind since she did not what you wanted to say with this story so says nothing for most of the book, leaving us with this raw contradictory rambling of a book.

Reviews will highlight the gems in this story. Show the strength of Mary H.K. Choi’s writing style, but I don’t really see any reason to going to find those gems myself. An honest summary of the book would be two characters with self made problems who aren’t working together as much as they’d like because they aren’t honest with each other or themselves. Mary H. K. Choi’s first book, does not have this problem. Which makes Permanent Record come off more as an author deeply confused trying to empathize with both these two extremes and unable to bridge her own thoughts.

I want to end on a good note so I’ll say now and always, the hardcover of this book is a work of art. The dust sleeve being part of the cover, but yet not. The work that is hidden underneath the dust cover is amazing. I got my copy for like ten bucks versus the nineteen cover price so I don’t feel like the time or money was a waste. I just wish I had popular highlights in my paperback version that marked the hidden treasures so I could view the collective thing as work of art. More then any other book I’ve read that ability would also better reflect the theme. The online listing doesn’t do the cover justice, go look at it the next time you are in bookstore.

I’m officially calling this #spelunking trip over at 205 pages, when writing the review I tried to flip through the book but felt it fall even more apart. If you make it to the bicycle seen I feel like Lee over the idea of finishing this. If you’re the Pab here, or both at once, maybe this book is what you needed, like I hope it is what the author needed even if I’m left with more concerns then I started out with.

🌹 Reviews: Asexual Erotics

As you can imagine this book discusses erotics with a focus on asexuality. It’s introduction focused on how the meaning of erotic had changed since Freud and how more modern queer theorists define it to mean more than simply the “sexual”. The great thing but about it hitting such a specific note is this discussion is all but nonexistent when it comes to social ace places. It asks what are we missing when we make ‘erotic’ be a single note. 

The book definitely is not an introduction to asexuality, it has a strong academic voice at times that make the points less clear than they could have been, but if you hang around queer spaces and think your life could use more theory, history, or a look at discussions of human development then this is definitely the sort of book to pick up. 

In my opinion the book also does a good job explaining how white women were rewarded for being “sexually liberated” while in the same decade people of color were and are punished in a number of ways for even the appearance of the same. In doing so, this book showcases that social change is not an absolute for all people, but varies along intersectional lines.

The book also goes over ‘political celibacy’, why it exists, how it often differs across race, and why it’s often grouped under asexuality history. It’s the first time I’ve seen a reason it’s so casually grouped and a spells out those reasons instead I’d just casually glossing over.

I feel like the chapters on childhood and ageism could have been combined for a stronger point instead of a more vague “this is a thing that people debate about”. I also found the epilogue featuring the discussion of violent entitled sexism felt like an afterthought more then an ending note. 

Despite my less than rave review for some chapters, overall the book left with me new things, ideas, often history nearly lost to time to consider when discussing how complete freedom can be gained for all. Here’s a few quotes I haven’t posted in our “ref” tag or on twitter that I enjoyed. 

“It is only through asexuality that a sufficient critique of compulsory sexuality as limiting to people across spectrums and different positionalities can be developed.” 

“Where there is queerness there is also asexuality.” 

If you’re curious to read more you can get your own copy here.

🌹 Reviews: Waking Up The Sun

Waking Up The Sun front loads a protagonist who has anxiety and has already learned ways to cope with it. It mentions magic almost right away too, but my favorite part of that is that a potion is considered magic instead of just having a spell go “cure” him. It’s a great bit of world building I wish more things had. Having a lead character who has to consider their racing thoughts and find medicine because that’s part of their basic needs is so a plot point, instead of a casual one off line. That’s amazing to see.

Around the 20% mark you see the consideration of being lost in the woods and having to wash your clothes. These are such small things that most writers just ignore because they think it will ruin— whatever. But these are the exact things that makes Waking Up The Sun real and something that feels new.

The only criticism I have of this was I thought the writing could be tighter. Sometimes I thought why is this being mentioned now, or at all. It may not be the best read for the sex repulsed for similar reasons but maybe this review can serve as your content warning.

With that said, this book is why I like to read from LGBTQ authors, generally found from small publishers. They have a number of important things that aren’t found elsewhere. Both men in the pairing are sweet. Awkward only in an realistic way instead of being an often sexist adorkable trope. I think my favorite thing is how much they check in with each other, ask if the other is okay.

[Learn more or buy your own copy here.]

🌹 Reviews: Our Bloody Pearl

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Our Bloody Pearl cycles in ace places because Dejean is an ace of color and everything is respectfully done when it could have easily been a trash fire if written by someone who didn’t care about the community. But ace rep isn’t the only plus this book has going for it. The story ✨ shines ✨ as it talks about disability and healing from abuse. That’s where the heart of this novel is to me and almost every line about accepting your disabilities is a popular highlight for good reason. If you even passively like mermaids and pirates I’d absolutely recommend this book. Also, I love Dejean v much, kthxbuy!

The First Ten Photos – (instax mini 9 tips and review)

I am by no means an expert on film photography if anything I know how blessed I am by the accessibility of digital photography and the tech that already exists in my pocket. The DSRL camera I had years ago is outmatched by my phone, but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss film. So as an early Christmas gift I got to pick the camera of my choice.

Here’s a record of my first ten shots, and tips to help you not waste that limited film.

Tip #1:
The instax mini 9 flash resets every time 

This camera is super low tech and because of that when you push the lens in it also doesn’t keep what settings you had and automatically is set to indoors once again. That’s why those two white-washed photos happened.

Tip #2:
The viewfinder is a liar

In the second blunder of a photo above, I had lined up a shot that would have been a top to bottom flowers but since the viewfinder is higher and to the right, every photo you take is up lower and to the right of what you saw.

Tip #3:
Focus on what now?

There’s no availability to change where the camera focuses. Mix that in with the lighting and viewfinder placement and it’s often tricky to capture the details you really wanted. It’s best to take photos of an object a bit in front of you with a landscape in the back.

Tip #4:
Flash a-ah!

I tend not to use flash because I don’t like the reflection it can cast but because the camera doesn’t allow you to turn it off you always have to consider what the flash will do. Christmas lights? Faded. Glass ornaments? Weird black dots. While you can’t turn the flash on, I did find an article of tips about this flash specifically.

Tip #5:
Go on a photoshoot

I enjoyed this camera the most when I just went to the park and walked around. For the forgetful flash setting problems I mentioned, the suggested setting normally does work out well. The camera comes with tips so you can play around with it but I love this trio of photos and I think I’d love most that are taken with similar lighting and distance to my object which is about 3 feet or more.

Tip #6:
Leftovers are important too

The photo on the left I didn’t take. I actually found it on my honeymoon just in the wild, but it gave me the bug. Knowing what I do about this camera this photo was probably a mess up given how white it is but I love it. Send your not completely horrible mess ups to someone in the mail or leave them for a stranger to find.

On the right is the empty film cartridge, pull out the black plastic bits and black tape on the bottom and it holds a dozen photos and even can stand on its own as a frame. Given that this sort of thing is usually sold as an accessory it’s a free bonus.

Final verdict

In retrospect, I might have gotten a bit higher end one, but there’s value in stripping everything back and making me pause to think about the shot and then hold my breath and hope it turns out just like I planned. Since none of these are going to rival a serious professional camera maybe we shouldn’t pretend they will and simply have fun with film again. With you want to get experimental, find one of this type that will easily allow you to do double exposures.

Bonus tip
Check out bags in person

I ordered all of this online on a Black Friday sale, so when I ordered the bag I didn’t get to see much of it besides what it looked like. And it does look cute, I’ll give it that. It’s just extremely badly designed. To take a photo while in the case one has to do this.

I already feel silly enough taking photos in public, this would end me. You are able to remove the front flap and it had snap on clips which don’t make it easy swap back and forth. Magnets. The solution would be put magnets instead.

I know this camera is treated like a toy, but I’m an adult which means I want to keep my toys nice. It’s definitely a gift that is going to keep giving as I load in that second pack of film.

Undeath & Taxes Review!

 

About Undeath & Taxes:
After discovering just how filled with magic, intrigue, and adventure the parahuman world of being an Undead American can be, Fredrick Frankford Fletcher did exactly what was expected–he became a certified parahuman accountant. Myths and legends, as it turns out, are not so great at taking appropriate deductions and keeping their receipts, and Fred is more than happy to return to a life others view as woefully dull, expanding his accounting business to cater to various monsters and their respective financial needs.

Said monsters are, unfortunately, still spectacular at pulling Fred into trouble, though. And despite merely wanting to stick with simple paperwork, Fred once again finds he is going to have to deal with enchanted weaponry, government agents, possessed houses, and one enigmatic dragon’s interest. In the parahuman world, any business can turn deadly, even one as mundane as accounting.

Available on Amazon and other retailers.

Review:  ★ ★ ★ ★

Here is the one negative thing I’m going to say. Feels a little less epic than last time. Now I can spend the rest of the review on things I love! I’ve been in a reading slump. Nothing was grabbing me, that is until Fred came back into my life. I really love Fred and his friends. This time around seems to focus more about their adventures than Fred himself, which really works for Drew Hayes’ episodic style.

I particularly enjoyed Albert this time around. I didn’t dislike him last time, but while reading Undeath and Taxes I keep thinking Albert is a dear, the sweetest zombie around, a  cutie pi– ahem. I’ll continue on.

The following is a slight spoiler, so slight spoiler warning and what not. Drew Hayes had urban fantasy down. ‘Need a weapon of destiny? Check out the newest paranormal convention!’ These are literally the ideas that make urban fantasy one of my favorites genres. That seamless merging of fantasy and modern life.

I definitely recommend this series to lovers of the genre and skeptics. You can even win a signed paperback copy over on goodreads. Still not convinced look at this ridiculously awesome author bio.

Drew Hayes Author Photo

Author Bio:

Drew Hayes is an aspiring author from Texas who has written several books and found the gumption to publish a few (so far). He graduated from Texas Tech with a B.A. in English, because evidently he’s not familiar with what the term “employable” means. Drew has been called one of the most profound, prolific, and talented authors of his generation, but a table full of drunks will say almost anything when offered a round of free shots. Drew feels kind of like a D-bag writing about himself in the third person like this. He does appreciate that you’re still reading, though.

Drew would like to sit down and have a beer with you. Or a cocktail. He’s not here to judge your preferences. Drew is terrible at being serious, and has no real idea what a snippet biography is meant to convey anyway. Drew thinks you are awesome just the way you are. That part, he meant. Drew is off to go high-five random people, because who doesn’t love a good high-five? No one, that’s who.

See Drew talk about himself in first person on his website and twitter.