Content / Spoiler Warning: There is no suicide in the book, but there is frank discussion of trans / homophobia and by the end the novella left me with feelings of optimism, and hope. (Full Review)
About The Book: Spiritually divorced from the church, former exorcist Ryan Macy is finding his own path as a ghost hunter. Traveling with only what can fit in his trusty truck, he road trips around America trying to prove the paranormal.
When he’s called to a church to investigate a demon possession, what he finds is unexpected and, perhaps, just as divinely in need: A seventeen-year-old kid named Andrew. Ryan is certain something evil lives within the house: home-grown hate. Kicked out for being gay, Andrew hitches a ride and joins the ghost hunting team. But something is following them…
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.
Asexual Erotics, as you can imagine, discusses erotics with a focus on asexuality. The focus is how the meaning of erotic had changed since Freud. How more modern queer theorists define it to mean more than simply the “sexual”. Packed for with historical examples of black and lesbian activism. The great thing about about hitting such a specific note is this discussion is all but nonexistent elsewhere. It asks what are we missing when we make ‘erotic’ be a single note.
The bookdefinitelyis not an introduction to asexuality.
It’s strong academic voice at times. This makes some points less clear than they could have been. ￼If you hang around queer spaces and think your life could use more theory or history. Maybe even wish those discussions tossed in of human development. Then this is definitely the sort of book to pick up.
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 punished in a number of ways. For even the appearance of the same. By 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. Dig in to find out why those groups are so casually always put together, and glossed over.
My criticism about Asexual Erotics? The chapters on childhood and ageism could have been combined for a stronger point. Instead of a vague “this is a thing that people debate about” tone. 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 those chapters, overall the book left with me plenty. New ideas and history nearly lost to time. Things to consider when discussing how complete freedom can be gained for all. Here’s a few quotes I haven’t posted on our social media accounts.
“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.” – Asexual Erotics
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.
I was given a review copy of this book, because I wanted to be able to review in time for aro week. As you might know, I love aro ace Artemis. It’s something that shines the truest to me so if you also want more a-spec Artemis this is a great option. Just out of the gate, you might like this for that.
I’ve posted Sappho’s poem was about Artemis before, that felt divine in a way. This is from a far more personal standpoint and will connect to those struggling with their identity. It’s not a book of greeting card affirmations, it’s honest and full of things that need to be said just as much.
From a pure poetry style point of view, it’s not my favorite style, but let’s be honest, poetry so wide ranging it’s a matter of personal taste. So if you’re unsure, give it a try because you wouldn’t want to miss something wonderful. I think everyone can find a gem in here that they’ll want to carry with them after reading.
First thoughts about Culture’s Skeleton? What a perfectly small size! So few publishers print in this size, but it’s really great to see as the standard edition instead of having to wait years for a mass market paperback version to come out.
Culture’s Skeleton has the vibe of Hitchkicker’s Guide to the Galaxy while having its own voice. Things in Mur work by their own rules, and this city is really its own character. A lesser writer might have made characters from different time periods become tropes of that era. Instead readers get the feeling of how people are connected despite where (or when) they are from.
If you in the mood for something with a lot of style and heart look no further!
There are so many games and spin offs in this series now, so buckle up for my Assassin’s Creed rewind!
If I said I was a fan since the beginning, that’s technically true. However, I stopped playing after Assassin’s Creed 3. Loving the modern Assassin’s and utterly convinced that Ubisoft was throwing that plot line away. Then add in the release of Blackflag. And my dislike of boats made it the first game I skipped completely. In real time I likely could have been convinced to play the next in the series. But then…
In retrospect, this was a far far bigger fuss than was warranted. But, at the time there was a joke of ‘when will my love of [fandom] come back from war’ which summed up my feelings about the series.
In 2015, I missed Syndicate for no reason besides I was just still unhappy. Ubisoft had let me known plenty. But got praise for its inclusion of women and had the first trans character in the series. Then later confirmed having a bisexual lead.
The following year Pulse happened. I was watching E3 trying to process what was happening to my community. Hoping someone would say something because when bad things happen the world needs a moment. But rarely does.
Ubisoft’s conference comes on. Everyone was wearing rainbow ribbons, and they take a second to express their own heartbreak for the community. And since they had been working on adding LGBTQ characters before this, it was enough of a good faith gesture. It was something.
Come November, Watch Dogs 2 has another trans character who has an even bigger role. Rainbow flags everywhere. You can visit gay clubs and flirt with whatever gender of your choosing. Even buy pride shirts and wear them for the whole game. The last four things are really minor. WD2 is literally the only game that does that. Watching cut screens with PRIDE written on his damn shirt for half the game was amazing.
Assassin’s Creed Rewind Time Is A Go!
2013 wasn’t the greatest time for me. I kept thinking how about how an abusive person got into Assassin’s Creed because of me. Almost wrote the whole series off because of the collective misfired from Ubisoft or personally. But one thing the queer community always does is reclaim things.
I restarted the series with Syndicate. And ADORED it. I cannot fully express my love here. Honestly might be my favorite in the whole series. If you quit Assassin’s Creed, play this one. If it doesn’t win you over nothing will. (At least nothing that is currently out). Everyone’s character feels real. None of the customization mechanics feel clunky for the first time. The DLC has Darwin, and you can go ghost hunting with Dickens!
Working backward I played Unity next. And oh boy, Unity was utterly and completely mismarketing this one. They pushed the multiplayer too much. Which I never even got to play because no one else was playing Unity in 2017. Everyone expected a French company to tell us their history. But Ubisoft didn’t. Almost weirdly avoids it. There is one thing this game better than anything in the series. It shows the gray area of helping historical figures.
Help Napoleon today, and you help the people.
Help Napoleon tomorrow, and you help a tyrant.
It was buggy at launch, but have been completely patched. Unity is about being a person living in a revolution. The hope that you can help. The struggle of not being about to save everyone. A focus on personal choices for a game that isn’t choose your own adventure. I had expected angsty romance and Templar apologist plot lines from the debut trailers, what I got was something truly honest about activism and chillingly timely for 2017. It also includes among the best speeches I’ve heard in my life.
The Creed of the Assassin’s Brotherhood teaches us that nothing is forbidden to us. Once, I thought that meant we were free to do as we would. To pursue our ideals, no matter the cost. I understand now. Not a grant of permission. The Creed is a warning. Ideals too easily give way to dogma. Dogma becomes fanaticism. No higher power sits in judgement of us. No supreme being watches to punish us for our sins. In the end, only we ourselves can guard against our obsessions. Only we can decide whether the road we walk carries too high a toll.
We believe ourselves redeemers, avengers, saviors. We make war on those who oppose us, and they in turn make war on us. We dream of leaving our stamp upon the world…even as we give our lives in a conflict that will be recorded in no history book. All that we do, all that we are, begins and ends with ourselves.
At this point, I’m pretty much on an Assassin’s Creed high so for the first time pick up an my first Assassin’s Creed book. I’ve always been interested in them but skipped the because they were mostly game retellings. That is until, Assassin’s Creed Heresy.
It follows Templars which is a huge red flag for me. But, it’s Joan of Arc. She is my No Templars Allowed expectation. Like Unity, the historical parts are set in France. It also does a very good job of explaining very complex motivations in revolutionary times without excusing the harm that can be done.
I had worried it would be a straight dude pining over Joan but again like Unity does not cheapen its female characters by doing so. My one real complaint is the ending is weak and heteronormative. With those two points aside, it does a brilliant job picking up from Unity. It mentions both Arno, the sword of Eden as well as showing an important Templar shake up we might see in future games. If you do an Assassin’s Creed Rewind with me, orders doesn’t matter much. Just do Unity first, then Heresy.
Unless you only read books, then welcome this as best video game spin off book in your collection.
So far my Assassin’s Creed Rewind was going fantastic. Not a dud in the mix. Having unfairly judged all of the above, I decided to go all the way back pick up Blackflag. The point where I jumped ship before. Quite literally. I figure the boats probably control better, I love the series as much as I did before.. I’m eager to play something before AC: Origins in the upcoming year.
And…. nope. I absolutely still do not understand the appeal. At all. I know that’s a nearly unheard of opinion. But I’m unable to empathize with a character who is driven by profit for so much of the game. I could have gotten on the “He’s doing it because he can” boat if they had literally given me anyone besides a straight white dude who skips town on his wife. I’m only sorry that it apparently takes so long for Edward to be a decent person. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
If you want to see Shaun and Rebecca, play Syndicate.
If you want to know modern lore, read the comics.
This is where my Assassin’s Creed Rewind gets back on track again.
The comics star Charlotte de la Cruz a Latina modern assassin. There’s a whole range of other modern assassin’s, an arc with a gay man who wants to avenge his boyfriend, and you see Erudito. I’m not in love with the art style but otherwise, I don’t know what more I could want out of them, to be honest. There are 3 trades that are out and a spin off series called Uprising (left) that introduces more people of color.
I’ve also read the short run of Assassin’s Creed Locus which only has four issues. I don’t feel like it’s important to know lore wise, but it includes a disabled animus user and the arc covers why he wants to use the animus which I found both unique to the series and important when talking about ableism as a whole.
In conclusion, if you dropped Assassin’s Creed because of too little focus on modern characters, clunky boat or other mechanics, and lack of diversity. Now’s a pretty good time to pick up what you missed without that brand new sticker price.
If you like the series, but want to support an indie publisher our books should do the trick. 😉
Let’s be real here, reviews are hard. Or at least for me they are. They feel even harder when I have to describe something like From Under The Mountain. It starts slow like all of this genre does, but then becomes a friend. The world and the characters bit by bit reveal themselves to you. And my main questions while reading become ‘what are they up to’ and ‘are they okay’?
Another thing I’ll forever be grateful for is there is no shock for shock value here. I got to enjoy the diversity without having to tolerate bull to get there. There was some gory, and spooky things but they all felt like a true part of this world.
While I length of the paperback lends itself akin to a weapon, I just might use it as such if I could have all the questions above answered now. Is Theo okay? Will he stay okay? How about my baby girl Guerline? Ahem, I mean four out of five stars to From Under The Mountain.
If you aren’t convinced yet check out this book’s amazing author: Cait Spivey is a speculative fiction writer, author of high fantasy From Under the Mountain and the horror novella series, “The Web“. Her enduring love of fantasy started young, thanks to authors like Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, Diane Duane, Tamora Pierce, and many more. Now, she explores the rules and ramifications of magic in her own works—and as a panromantic asexual, she’s committed to queering her favorite genres.
Darkly cinematic, From Under the Mountain pairs the sweeping landscape of epic fantasy with the personal journey of finding one’s voice in the world, posing the question: how do you define evil, when everything society tells you is a lie?
I think the first description of LINK I heard was Stargate meets [something]. It doesn’t matter what you say after Stargate because at that point my brain yells sold! Some books have the pitfall of why does the “normal life” matter after this life changing event happens, but the world’s are so interwoven that I didn’t feel that here. In the story, Kira is presented with two very different lives, and the pros and cons of each continue to stack up. This creates a great balance that later on starts rocking back and forth in an increasingly tense way.
LINK sets The Shadow of Light series up in an otherworldly fashion without ever feeling like the whole first book is set up. I now know this cast in a very real way and curious what happens to the whole cast.
The only down side is LINK sets itself up as a bit mystery, one that I try to figure out beforehand to distracting lengths. This likely is just overthinking because I lovingly want to fact check explanations to real astrophysics. The science of this science fiction is strong I just wish I had the answers a bit sooner so I could have bought into the rules faster.
Review: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
If you aren’t convinced yet here’s some more about LINK!
For seventeen-year-old Kira, there’s no better way to celebrate a birthday than being surrounded by friends and huddled beside a campfire deep in the woods. And with a birthday in the peak of summer, that includes late night swims under the stars.
Or at least, it used to.
Kira’s relaxing contemplation of the universe is interrupted when a piece of it falls, colliding with her and starting a chain of events that could unexpectedly lead to the one thing in her life that’s missing—her father.
Tossed into a pieced-together world of carnivals and gypsies, an old-fashioned farmhouse, and the alluring presence of a boy from another planet, Kira discovers she’s been transported to the center of a black hole, and there’s more to the story than science can explain. She’s now linked by starlight to the world inside the darkness. And her star is dying.
If she doesn’t return home before the star’s light disappears and her link breaks, she’ll be trapped forever. But she’s not the only one ensnared, and with time running out, she’ll have to find a way to save a part of her past and a part of her future, or risk losing everything she loves.
Dreamy, fluid, and beautiful, Link pairs the mystery of science fiction with the minor-key melody of a dark fantasy, creating a tale that is as human as it is out of this world.
Summer Wier is an MBA toting accountant, undercover writer, and all around jack-of-all-trades. Link is her debut novel and the first in The Shadow of Light series. She has three short stories appearing in Fairly Twisted Tales For A Horribly Ever After and co-authors the Splinter web serial. When she’s not digging through spreadsheets or playing mom, you can find her reading/writing, cooking, or dreaming of the mountains in Montana.