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review 2017-07-12 16:01
Book Review – Waiting for Walker, by Robin Reardon
Waiting for Walker - Robin Reardon

I read an amazing review of this book by Sammy Goode, and bought the book straight off. Ah, the power of word-of-mouth.

 

Loved, just loved this story, about people we so seldom see. With beautiful language and turns of phrase that hit me just so.

 

Beautiful.

 

”You came back to that rock and looked for me, out on the water. I think you want a new friend, too.”

 

Courage, when you realize you can no longer do nothing – but you still haven’t figured out what you can do.

 

We need more stories like this one, to lift us up, to see that it is possible to change, it is possible to take a road less traveled.

 

And that it is possible that other people’s truths are just as valid as your own. Only different.

 

Simply loved it. Warmly recommend it, especially as there was next to no sex in there, and sweet and slow, what was there.

 

Perfect.

 

 

*** Bought this book with my own monies after reading a smashing review.*** 

Source: annalund2011.booklikes.com/post/1578399/book-review-waiting-for-walker-by-robin-reardon
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review 2015-09-17 08:41
None of the Above/I.W. Gregorio
None of the Above - Andrea Di Gregorio

A groundbreaking story about a teenage girl who discovers she's intersex . . . and what happens when her secret is revealed to the entire school. Incredibly compelling and sensitively told, None of the Above is a thought-provoking novel that explores what it means to be a boy, a girl, or something in between.

What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant?

When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She's a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she's madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she's decided that she's ready to take things to the next level with him.

But Kristin's first time isn't the perfect moment she's planned—something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy "parts."

Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin's entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?

 

This book was a solid read that was great at explaining a new perspective, but I felt like the only element to it was that Krissy was intersex.

 

I was excited to read this book upon reading the description, and indeed this did a brilliant job of explaining to me what it meant to be intersex and to have AIS. I learned a lot from reading this and was able to experience a new perspective from doing so.

 

It was very sad to see how Krissy's classmates treated her upon discovering her diagnosis, but I found it uplifting to see the unexpected people who reached out to her and who made a difference and showed they care. Seeing how her relationships with various people changed was very telling. However, a lot of the characters felt a little bland--they had potential to be more exciting and more engaging, but they didn't reach it.

 

However, I felt like there were a lot of moments where I wanted this book to have more depth. Krissy was working so hard to show how being intersex was an absolutely normal thing and how she hadn't changed at all, yet the book in a way having few other plot tropes was showing differently. There was a romance, yes, but other than the intersex aspect, this book had very little plot.

 

By the end, she had finally gotten herself together, but I wanted her to put on a brave face earlier. At some points, Krissy really annoyed me because it felt like she did a lot of self wallowing instead of going out and educating the world. But hopefully that comes following the end of this book.

 

I'm really glad this book was written and that I was able to gain a little more understanding from it, but I think there could have been more substance to it.

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review 2014-01-28 00:38
E.E. Ottoman – Song of the Spring Moon Waning
Song of the Spring Moon Waning - E.E. Ottoman

Reviewed by: Eladio

3.75 Hearts

 

Summary: Upon waking up one morning, Wen Yu is surprised to find a note asking him to return the song thrush given into his care while the owner was sick. The only problem is that Wen Yu was never given a song thrush. Though he has no time for distractions from his studies for the palace examination, Wen Yu goes in search of the unknown Liu Yi who left him the note. What he finds is a beautiful imperial eunuch, a talking tortoise, and a collection of mysterious moon poems that force Wen Yu to question what path in life he is truly meant to be walking.

 

Review: This gentle, delicate tale set in ancient China is about a young student who must choose whether to let his family obligations or his own chance for happiness to determine his future. It starts with a fairytale type of prolog to show the supernatural forces at work underneath the story.

 

The rest of the story is told third-person by Wen Yu, who is renting a room in the poor section of the Imperial Capital while studying for examinations that will allow him to become a scholar-bureaucrat within the palace, which is the destiny that his family has planned for him since he was six years old. Not only is Wen Yu worried about his future, but he has a secret that prevents him from seeking intimacy with anybody.

 

However, he is soon recruited by the beautiful eunuch Liu Yi to translate some poems that might offer some insights into a mysterious health condition that affects Liu Yi with the phases of the moon. Soon the two men are attracted to each other.

 

My problems center on the plot, which introduces elements that never get resolved such as Wen Yu’s examination results, any repercussions from his decision, the resolution of Liu Yi’s health problems, and anything further from the big adventure that seems to be starting at the story’s end. At only 32,000 words, the story seems to want to confine itself to Wen Yu’s decision about his future, but this creates very little suspense because what other choice is he going to make? The real story would lie in what happens next.

 

The things I like include the smooth writing, the beautiful descriptions and details of ancient China, the courtliness of the Chinese culture, and the supernatural touches involving the talking animals. Readers should be aware that this is not exactly your usual M/M romance, but one that contains transgender and intersex elements.

Source: heartsonfirereviews.com/?p=24780
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review 2012-01-08 00:00
Amaranth & Ash by Jessica Freely
Amaranth and Ash - Jessica Freely

This book sat in my wishlist for months because 1) it's kind of expensive and 2) I had some feelings of trepidation over how the author would handle the intersexed characters. In the end, I'm glad I bought and read it.

I was surprised at how often Amaranth & Ash made me think of Ariel Tachna's The Inventor's Companion. I wouldn't have guessed that the two books had very many similarities, but both star a character who is basically viewed as a high class whore by others (Lucio is a courtesan, Amaranth heals through sex, dealing primarily with patients who he feels aren't in need of healing and just want the sex) and both feature a caste system and a cross-caste romance. As far as how the romance was handled, I found I enjoyed Amaranth & Ash more.

The romance between Amaranth and Ash was very sweet. This book was published by Loose Id, so of course the sex scenes were explicit, but Amaranth and Ash didn't fall into bed right away. Ash was still recovering from a brutal gang rape (which was fade-to-black – no worries about reading an explicitly described rape scene), so, initially, all Amaranth worried about was healing him and convincing Ash to trust him. Even after he started to feel attracted to him, he was hesitant about acting on his attraction. Amaranth and Ash's relationship began more as one of mutual comfort rather than sex – Ash allowed Amaranth to sleep with him and learned to trust that Amaranth wouldn't do anything that made him uncomfortable, while Amaranth finally had someone around to help relieve his loneliness. The one thing I can think of that might make some people uncomfortable about Amaranth and Ash's developing relationship is that it occurs while Amaranth is acting as Ash's healer – even though I thought their relationship was sweet, I couldn't help but think of the Florence Nightingale effect.

The caste system was another area where I thought this book was well done. I particularly liked finding out more about how things worked in Chelon (the area where chel live), and I found the idea of soul sellers fascinating. The vasai, too, were interesting. They weren't all perfect little angels – although they were healers, there were still jerks among them. Also, although some characters put them on a pedestal, not everyone did. I had wondered what would happen after the lower castes found out there was a vasai among them. Some people reacted almost worshipfully, but in some cases things did turn darker.

Speaking of the vasai, I liked how Freely handled them as well. The vasai weren't just an opportunity for Freely to write sex involving different combinations of male and female genitalia without having to incorporate menages. I liked finding out more details about vasai life, and I was fascinated by the idea of hidden vasai. In an author's note, Freely writes about the thought that went into pronouns and, now that I've finished the book, I have to say that I'm relieved that Freely chose to use gender neutral pronouns for only one of the vasai – otherwise, the book would have been a slog to get through, since my brain couldn't see to adjust to seeing “sie” and “hir.”

Those of you who hate the soulmate trope may dislike one of the minor romantic relationships that pops up later in the book.

Grail, Amaranth's friend, ends up in a soulmate-style relationship with one of those hidden vasai I mentioned. It was definitely an insta-love situation, and it made me wonder if Amaranth and Ash would be explicitly identified as soulmates as well (I don't think they were).

(spoiler show)


Although I did really like this book overall, that's not to say that it didn't have its weak points. The first one I noticed was that characters voices weren't as clearly defined as I would have liked. At first, I thought Amaranth spoke in a more refined way than Ash, which, considering their castes, made sense. Then Amaranth had a scene in which he started cussing, and he once berated himself by calling himself a “perv.” It didn't seem to fit in with his usual speech patterns. I would have preferred for characters' voices to be more consistent.

Some of the things I disliked about this book were tied in with things I liked about it. For instance, while I was happy that Freely did not write about rape in detail, her vagueness when it came to darker moments in the story sometimes made it difficult to figure out what, exactly, happened. There is a scene later in the book where Amaranth is being forced to heal others. Although it's stated that most of the people just touch Amaranth, I had a difficult time figuring out whether one of the characters had gone further and actually raped him.

Also, while I appreciated that the dream scenes allowed for Amaranth and Ash to continue to have scenes together even after they were separated, I'm one of those readers who tends to prefer fewer sex scenes in my romance novels, and those dream scenes were nothing but sex. It's a personal preference, but those scenes got to be a bit much for me.

I mentioned earlier that some aspects of the world-building could have used some work. It wasn't always clear to me what people did or did not know about vasai. Amaranth had to explain to Ash that vasai are technically neither male nor female and that some choose preferred gendered pronouns while others wish to be referred to using gender neutral pronouns. You'd think this would mean that other chel would be as clueless about vasai as Ash, and yet, later in the book, not one chel stumbled over the gender neutral pronouns and everyone seemed to know which were the proper pronouns to use. The pel that Amaranth encountered were as clueless as Ash had been, sometimes referring to him as “it.”

Then there was the feeling I had, that this book was similar to a video game where the environment seems to be rich and well-defined, until you bump up against the invisible edges of the map and see that there's nothing out there. I found myself wondering about things like whether Amaranth and Ash's entire world was just one big city and whether there was some kind of purpose to character names (chel seemed to have earthy names, like Ash and Soot, pel had task names, like Push and Pull, Elai got more familiar names, like Darien and Elissa, and vasai got...I'm not sure - “Amaranth” and “Grail” both have meanings, but I don't think “Evanscar” does). One of the reasons why I hated that the book ended with a “four years” later epilogue was because I felt a sequel could have opened up the world a little more.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, although I'm not sure it's one I'll ever reread. Amaranth and Ash's relationship was sweet, but there was some quality missing from the book that kept me from really connecting with it. That said, I plan on reading more of Freely's works and would jump on a sequel to Amaranth & Ash if she ever wrote one.

Other Comments:

For as much as Loose Id charges for their e-books, they should edit them more carefully. I caught one verb tense error and one misplaced comma. There may have been other editing errors I didn't catch.

 

(Original review, with read-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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