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review 2016-06-02 19:07
Endless Days of Summer by Stacy O'Steen
Endless Days of Summer - Stacy O'Steen

Penelope is a young woman ready to start college, and falling in love with her best friend, Summer. The story is largely a continuous cycle of Penelope’s angst over being emotionally manipulated by her unavailable best friend. Penelope is finding herself, learning about asexuality, and meeting new friends.

The dialogue overall isn’t bad, but there are quite a few times characters speak like clinical psychologists instead of 19 year old college students. It could get quite mechanical and not particularly believable. The book is primarily about Penelope learning more about who she is, but everything about her feels more like a reaction to everyone else. She tends to move forward as a reaction against something, as opposed to an indicator of any personal growth until the very end. Secondary characters use emotional manipulation at some/many points in the book, which got tiring, particularly how quickly Penelope forgave them their transgressions. Additionally, there are some fairly drastic personality changes involving Summer and Penelope’s mother. It didn’t feel believable, as I didn’t get to watch any of their personal growth until they were suddenly very different people.

By the end, I felt very little empathy for any of the characters. Although at the beginning I did like Penelope (and her friends Alyssa and Nate), the ease with which she felt into the same trap over and over made me lose my patience with her. I think the general idea of the book was interesting and I was excited to read a book with an asexual character, although the execution of it was lacking.

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review 2016-04-17 11:33
The Inside of Out/Jenn Marie Thorne
The Inside of Out - Jenn Marie Thorne

For fans of Stephanie Perkins, Meg Cabot, and Glee comes a hilarious, romantic, whip smart young adult novel about your best friend finding love before you do, and the lines you'll cross to stay part of her life.
When her best friend Hannah comes out the day before junior year, Daisy is all set to let her ally flag fly. Before you can spell LGBTQIA, she's leading the charge to end their school's antiquated ban on same-sex dates at dances—starting with homecoming. And if people assume Daisy herself is gay? Meh, so what. It's all for Hannah, right? It's all for the cause. What Daisy doesn't expect is for “the cause” to blow up—thanks to Adam, the cute college journalist whose interview with Daisy for his college newspaper goes viral, catching fire in the national media. With the story spinning out of control, protesters gathering, Hannah left in the dust of Daisy's good intentions, and Daisy's attraction to Adam practically written in lights, Daisy finds herself caught between her bold plans, her bad decisions, and her big fat mouth.
A Clueless or Emma for the modern age, this is a breezy, charming, incisive tale of growing up, getting wise, and realizing every story needs a hero—sometimes it's just not you.

 
Overall, this book was a well-intentioned read that raised interesting topics, but my dislike of Daisy and her portrayal of asexuality made it hard for me to really enjoy it.

 

I really can't get over the portrayal of asexuality in this story. This is a very personal problem as I myself am asexual and am crazy about awareness; as such, I expect that most others wouldn't notice that anything was at fault and would enjoy the book nonetheless. However, a very 2D portrayal of asexuality was made, and the main character at some points pretends to be asexual. At another point, she admits that she is crushing on a boy and apologises to asexual community for appropriating their title. This is a complete misportrayal. She was claiming to be /asexual/ not /aromantic./ Contrary to popular belief, it's entirely possible for asexuals to be heteroromantic (or homoromantic or panromantic or anything) and her complete dismissal and her complete lack of desire to even learn about what the identity meant just really angered me. She uses the label for her own good without even thinking about the challenges that asexuals might face or what it would mean to be ace. I'm sure this is unintentional and maybe the author is unaware of the extent of the asexual spectrum, but I detest the information this could spread and wish that she had taken a few paragraphs to clear it up.

 

Other than that, the author did a good job of having Daisy clear up most of the appropriation she did. I really appreciated that there was a bit of talk about privilege and how even without realising it, people may have privileges they're unaware of or take for granted. I also adored Daisy's dad, and the theme of not having to be the hero of a story. I loved Daisy's friends and the members of the Alliance at her school--from a wannabe lawyer to a sweet girl who has trouble expressing anger, they were a bundle of delight to read about. I wanted to hear more about Adam, his experiences moving from New York to down south, and why the hell he was hanging around a high school junior and not out socialising with his new college friends.

 

I mainly didn't like Daisy. At all. She irked me entirely for many reasons. She has commitment issues and is horrible at following through, which just makes me antsy. She's assumptive and kind of imposes her visions of people onto them. And she doesn't stop to ask others what they think. Maybe without these traits there wouldn't have been a story; however, by the end I was ready to punch her.

 

I also felt like the plot, especially the ending, was really hard to buy into. This is set in South Carolina, which is one of many states known for being more conservative, so I doubt the whole entire country would get really enthused about one alternate homecoming when it's something very common across the country. The ending--well, I won't spoil it, but I don't buy it.

 

The topic dealt with was a very important one--a lot of people struggle with how to act as an ally and even if they're completely okay with someone belong to the "quiltbag" as Daisy's friends put it they want to express that they're okay with it and really prove it. I also found Hannah to be a really believable character in that she just wanted to be normal, something that resonated to past personal experiences.

 

There was a lot of high school drama in this book and I think if you're willing to put aside political correctness and suspend your disbelief, this could be an enjoyable read.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

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text 2016-02-13 21:58
"Asexuality in fiction" news

"Archie Comic Reveals Jughead Is Asexual":

 

I have little-to-no interest in Archie Comics, and this doesn't really change that. Still, interesting news.

 

Less Than Three Press will soon have 21 works with asexual characters in its catalog:

 

I would be so much more excited about this if the one Less Than Three Press work I read (Wings of Destruction, the last one on the list) hadn't been overpriced and in desperate need of a complete overhaul. Still, 21 items means lots of choices, and I'm cautiously (very cautiously) optimistic about a couple of the sci-fi and fantasy ones.

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review 2016-02-07 12:46
Asexuality: A Brief Introduction - Asexuality Archive

Good that this book exists. It's quite repetitive if you read it linearly, but it's good if someone just wants to pick some subjects.

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review 2015-07-14 07:37
The Alpha and His Ace by Ana J. Phoenix
The Alpha and His Ace - Ana J. Phoenix

Brandon is the alpha of his werewolf pack, but lately he's had trouble holding onto their respect. Everyone knows a good leader needs a mate by his side (don't look at me, I'm just writing what the story said), and Brandon still hasn't managed to find his. Since going to gay bars doesn't seem to be cutting it, he decides to try regular bars, too. Almost immediately he's hit on by a very drunk woman named Ruby. He's not interested, but it's also pretty clear that she's drunk enough to get herself into trouble, so he helps her get back to her apartment only to discover that her roommate, Aidan, is his mate. Just one problem: Aidan is asexual. Brandon's not about to run away, but, as he learns more about asexuality, he wonders if his mate will ever be able to become a werewolf, a process that would involve having sex.

This was apparently based on a prompt from someone in a Goodreads group. If the picture I saw was what the story was based on, it's a good thing it wasn't included with this e-book file, since I'm reasonably certain it's someone's Wolf's Rain fan art.


Okay, moving on. This story did not get off to the best start, and I was worried it would turn out to be completely awful. Although it did improve, I still had lots of issues with it.

I disliked that the world rules were set up so that sex was required for someone to be turned into a werewolf. What aspect of sex was it that turned someone into a werewolf? Was it a magical thing tied to, say, orgasms? Or was it more of a sexually transmitted disease? Was it transmitted via semen or blood? None of this was mentioned, probably because exploring those world rules too deeply would have meant admitting that maybe some activity other than penetrative sex could have done the job just as easily.

The asexuality aspect was handled clumsily, but better than I'd feared. I'd have preferred it if the author had chosen a less clunky way to communicate information about asexuality than having Brandon consult the AVEN website a few times. On the plus side, asexuality was not presented as a “one size fits all” thing, and the werewolf soulmate bond did not “cure” Aidan of his asexuality. Brandon made some assumptions and screwed up a bit, and it was emphasized that, for his and Aidan's relationship to work, they had to be open with each other.

As I was reading this story, I had an epiphany: in the process of exploring an asexual relationship, this story was not saying very good things about sexual relationships, or at least Brandon's views on them. Sexual attraction doesn't negate the need for things like good communication, dating, and getting to know each other, but you wouldn't know it from the way Brandon thought. Although he'd slept with tons of guys, he'd never dated anyone and hadn't thought he'd ever need to use romantic words or gestures. Not because he didn't think he'd ever find his mate, but because he just didn't think all of that was necessary. I had the feeling that, had Aidan not been asexual, Brandon would have expected the two of them to have sex within 5 minutes of meeting each other.

I kept waiting for Brandon to realize that, not only did he not know Aidan very well, he hadn't yet made much of an effort to change that. Every time he met Aidan, he learned something new – that he had a little sister, taught fencing, and owned a motorbike. Rather than slow down and take the time to learn more, Brandon just fretted over how to convince Aidan to like him when he wasn't going to be sexually attracted to him, and worried that he wasn't going to be able to keep his own desire in check. It was incredibly frustrating. I mean, it wasn't like he had some kind of deadline. Brandon struck me as being both impatient and oversexed.

I've read far worse asexual romance stories than this, but that still doesn't mean this was very good. The world-building was sketchy at best, I couldn't fathom how someone like Brandon could be pack leader, and Aidan's reaction to Brandon suddenly shapeshifting in front of him was unbelievably chill. Also, Brandon spent more time worrying about Aidan's asexuality than really getting to know him as a person, and the romance suffered as a result. There was no real feeling of intimacy and closeness between the two of them. Even the cake Brandon brought Aidan was more a thing inspired by AVEN forum posts than by him actually getting to know Aidan.

If I pick up the sequel, My Alpha and His Cake, it'll be because it's cheap and I'm a completist.

 

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

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