Category Archives: books

Genesis of a Voracious Reader

If I had to pinpoint where my love of reading came from it would have to be because of my father. As a kid he’d read me bedtime stories like the typical fare: Jack and The Beanstalk, Hansel and Gretel, etc, mixed in with tales of Brer Rabbit and stories he’d made up on the spot.

Growing up I always saw him with his head in a book and this sparked my interest in reading. At first I raided his book collection, picking what I liked and then when I was in middle school I discovered the library and practically lived there.

I devoured the horror and science fiction sections until discovering the Mythology section and falling in love with it. Roman, Greek, Egyptian, and Norse I read about them all and couldn’t get enough.

When I stop to think about it now I completely skipped young adult books and dived right in to adult books. I guess I found them more interesting than the books for kids my age.

In high school I discovered a whole new world of stories online and would spend hours on end reading one after another. These stories let me know it was OK that I was attracted to other guys and that I wasn’t alone.

I was deathly shy and theses stories provided me a safe space to explore my budding sexuality and not feel like such a freak, but at the same time I couldn’t help but notice that the characters in these stories were all the same blond haired, blue eyed muscle bound guys who instantly found a lover on page one.

After awhile I grew tired of these stories that tread the same path and never finding protagonists like me, so I decided to try my hand at writing for the other geeky LGBTQ kids out there who were longing to see diverse character like them.

Review: Chausiku : Nightmare of The Clans

image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu
image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu

Introduction

Chausiku: Nightmare of the Clans is Book one of the Chausiku series by Pamela E. Cash and centers around teenager Chausiku “Chassie” Moreau who develops supernatural abilities on her sixteenth birthday.

It is revealed that Chassie’s mother Adamma was a member of the sakombi clan who are one of six clans throughout the world that have supernatural abilities.
In her case Chassie has inherited telepathy telekinesis and the ability to disintegrate and reconstitute any object.

Chassie’s abilities make her the target of Rasul who is responsible for the death of her mother and has designs of controlling her due to a prophecy detailing her birth.

The Good
It was nice to see a protagonist who was a person of color for a change who wasn’t either a walking stereotype or being white washed. I liked that Chassie had flaws and I could relate her struggle to keep grounded given everything she had to go through.

The premise was interesting all be it done before in series like Avatar: The Last Air Bender and Naruto, but still enjoyable.

The Bad
Overall while I enjoyed the premise of this book it was executed poorly and the writing was sub par. This book could have used another round of editing before being published. Often times I found myself picking out typos and generally editing the book as I read, which broke immersion for me.

I also wasn’t a fan of how easily Chassie mastered her powers. Except for a scene at the beginning of the book she doesn’t struggle at all controlling her abilities.

In my opinion it should have taken her awhile to master her abilities instead in a matter of weeks she’s so powerful she can block Rasul’s ability to locate her, robbing the story of any tension.

I also wasn’t a fan of how Cash built up Rasul only to have the final confrontation between him and Chassie to be so onesided it was laughable and anticlimactic.

I also disliked how Chassie and John got together in the end of the story. Their romance added nothing to the story and could have been cut without losing a thing. Not only was it the cliched best friends who are secretly in love with each other trope there was no real chemistry between them and we’re just told they love each other.

The Verdict
Overall I’d say pass on this book.

 

Review The Last Suvivors

image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu
image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu

Introduction

The Last Survivors: A Dystopian Society in a Post Apocalyptic World is book one of a pentalogy by Bobby Adair and T.W. Piperbrook. Set in the three cities of Brighton, Davenport and Coventry the story centers around the various people as they struggle to live in a society reduced back to medieval times in terms of technology and knowledge(most people don’t know who to count higher than they have fingers), and plagued by demons(zombies) created when people are exposed to plant spores that bloom in the fall.

The story primarily centers around Ella and her son William who has been exposed to the plant spore and has the characteristic smudges that identify the afflicted from the general populous.

Every year the three cities hold the Cleansing, a mandatory public ceremony where people disrobe and have their bodies examined for smudges. Having already lost her husband to the previous year’s Cleansing Ella is distraught when she discovers her eleven year old son, William, is infected by the spores . Rather than lose him too she plots an escape to her aunt and uncle’s farm in Davenport.

The good
I couldn’t put this book down. Even though it lacked diversity in characters I still found it a good read. Ella’s fears were real and palpable and I readily identified with her struggles.

For essentially a zombie story the authors found a believable way to present the demons without falling into the stale tropes, such as being infected by their bite.

Also I thought it was a good call of their part not to have the people killed by the demons to come back as ones themselves. In this way the demons were made a potent threat without overdoing it and breaking suspension of disbelief.

The bad
Aside from a few typos the book was otherwise flawless, however I did have issues with the story. For example Father Wintrope was the cliched lecherous priest and only believed in the Word, the in universe dominant religion, so far as it enabled him to live the good life while the masses slaved away just to scrape by.

Also General Blackthorn was the trite blood thirsty soldier and his actions made little sense given that people were barely getting by and should have revolted given Blackthorn’s heavy hand. Yet you’d be hard pressed to see anyone brave, or stupid enough to go against either Wintrope or Blackthorn.

I also take umbrage with the lack of diversity in the characters. It wouldn’t have killed them to have a few people of color in there instead of the wall to wall white characters.

I also didn’t like how the book just abruptly ends once they arrive arrive in Davenport. Without spoiling the ending for you i’ll just say it could have been handled better after all that build up it just stops.

The Verdict
Overall this book was a fun read and if you’re looking for a good read to tide you over get it. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the series and will review them as I finish them.

Review: Elements of a Broken Mind

Introduction
Elements of a Bro

image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu
image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu

ken Mind is book one of the Clear Angel Chronicles by Heidi Angell. Set in small town America the plot revolves around a serial killer targeting women in the area. In charge of the case is Grant Anderson. Formerly from the city he moved to town to get away from the craziness only to have it find him in the end.

With no leads to the case Detective Anderson gets help in the form of the eponymous Clear Angel, resident horse trainer and psychic. She is drawn to the case by visions of the missing girls which she can’t control.

Grant is reluctant to believe in her abilities until she proves it to him by predicting his promotion to lieutenant.

The Good
Overall the book was enjoyable, the plot engaging and the characters well rounded. Once I was able to turn off my inner editor(more on that later) I was hooked and couldn’t put it down.

I found Grant to be very likable and related with his longing to see his daughter again. As for Clear she was strong willed and independent, yet I could relate to her fear of being used and ridiculed for her gift.

It was refreshing that she didn’t have full control of her abilities, unlike in most stories where the psychic has no problems with their abilities and are never shown struggling to use them like Clear does.

The chemistry between Clear and Grant was there from the beginning and was a natural part of the story without overshadowing the plot like in some books.

The Bad
In all honesty the book could have used another pass with the editor. I found a few typos and the sentences were a bit on the wordy side for my tastes, but overall nothing that impeded me from enjoying the story.

I also found some of the plot twists predictable, like how the killer was also psychic, or how Clear would go after him and wind up being the last sacrifice.

I found the killer’s motive to be on the vague side and really didn’t get why he’d go through all the trouble of kidnapping the girls just because he was crazy.

Conclusions
Overall I’d recommend this book to fans of thrillers, cop procedural shows, and anyone else looking for a good read. Check out Heidi Angell’s site here

for more information.

Phoenix Diaries Update

Good morning,

I hope all is well with you this Friday as you’re gearing up for labor day weekend. I’m going to my parents house and I’m a bit scared because I’m going to show them my writing for the first time.

I’ve been sharing more my writing with the critique group I’m part of and figured it was about time my family read some of my work. It’s part of what Jeff Goins calls performing in public.

Anyone can write but the only way to get better is by showing it to other people. This is why I’ve set a goal to finish the first draft of Paligenesis, book one of the Phoenix Diaries by my birthday which is in a bit over two weeks’ time.

After this I plan to switch over and rewrite/edit my first book Pinky&The Brain and then begin work on Phoenix Diaries Book Two: Ouroboros. Also I have two pieces which I plan to submit to Writer’s Digest Magazine for their column Five Minute Memoir.

For those of you who have been keeping up with the story thus far expect chapter 15 and 16 to be posted to silentbutcudly.com this weekend. Instead of making you guys wait so long between chapters I’ve decided to break each chapter into smaller parts and post those every other day or so at nifty.org so as to build a following and get my name out there more.

Well later and again enjoy the weekend.

 

But Not Too Gay

We all wear masks even if we don’t realize it. Sociologist Irvine Gauffman asserts all interactions are performances which we play. Putting our best face to the world and hiding who we really are behind the curtains. For a long time LGBTQ people have had to hide who they are for fear of violent reprisal, and though things have certainly changed for the better many of us still have to wear masks.

Often in literature and other mediums LGBTQ characters are forced to hide for fear of alienating audiences. Sure they can have relationships and even families, but only in the context of adhering to the hetero-normative dichotomy.

Case in point the current trend in male-male romance written by woman for woman in which a formerly straight male falls for the new effeminate gay guy in his life. For all purposes the effeminate guy is a woman with a dick. He talks about his feelings, is into fashion, and resents his lover isn’t as emotionally open as he.

Sorry but while LGBTQ people run the spectrum of mannerisms the problem with these characters is they play into age old stereotypes. Namely gay guys are actually women trapped in male bodies and that you can choose your sexuality.

Moreover same sex relationships, while similar to their straight counterparts carry with them unique challenges and dynamics that can’t be brushed aside because the author doesn’t know how or care to explore them.

You can’t take a relationship between two guys and map it to a straight one because neither of them is female. You have to address things like how their family and friends will react to them and also the giant issue in the room that’s avoided altogether in these stories.

The main issue with these stories is that they’re not realistic. Most of the plot revolves around them getting together, sharing chaste kisses and spooning. While that’s nice and all it’s not true to life.

Go to any site geared towards guys into guys and you’ll see the meme most repeated is where are decent guys who care about more than hooking up. So to treat sex like it never happens, is something only mentioned in conversation, or happens off screen is ridiculous.

If the issue is ignorance about the bedroom behavior of these couplings than there are plenty of people these authors could ask to get the details right.

However I think this is more a case of but not too gay. They’re fine with reading and writing about same sex relationships, so long as it doesn’t get outside their comfort zone. If that’s their prerogative, whatever.

But these authors should remember they’re writing about a group of people who exist and are still struggling for acceptance and visibility. While I think it’s great we’ve gotten to a point some straight people are cool with reading about LGBTQ characters there is still a genuine lack of diversity in the characters displayed. Not just in terms of their mannerisms, but also their race, geographic locations, worldviews and class status.

The main thing I take issue with is the commercialization of us, as if LBGTQ people are the latest commodity to be packaged and sold to the masses to make them hip and spice up their vanilla lives. Sorry but we are not some exotic novelty for your amusement or curiosity.

Our lives are often wrought with obstacles you couldn’t imagine and it’s belittling when you appropriate our narratives without giving them or us the respect we deserve. This isn’t to say no one but LGBTQ people can write about us, but if you’re going to do it then get it right.

Remember when people read your stories they’re not just looking to be entertained but to find validation in who they are. So when they seldom find characters like them it makes them feel like they don’t matter. The last thing any writer ought to do is alienate readers, especially ones who are already marginalized as it is.