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review 2015-10-03 16:15
Art Criticism by Celeste Spettro
Art Criticism - Celeste Spettro
Art Criticism - Blue GhostGhost

I read this as an online original story several years back, and remembered it as funny and endearing.  So when I saw that it had been made into an audiobook, I decided to get it. Result? Still funny and endearing.  I don't remember the online story well enough to know exactly what changed, but I think it has been polished up a bit, to its benefit.


I don't read a lot of contemporary romance these days, mostly because there are way too many books to read, and I am trying to reduce the potentials by cutting out categories, authors, series that aren't finished yet, books that sound too angsty or dark, etc.  But once in a while a funny contemporary hits the spot.


James is an assistant helping to run an art gallery.  He is good at his job and has an excellent eye for art, but he isn't so good at people.  He is introverted and easily unnerved, and it becomes apparent that the people who are close to him are willing to do the work to maintain the relationship.  James would generally rather hide alone in his room than deal with anyone.  


Turkish is a photographer who has made a splash with his work, and sells photographs at the gallery.  He is confident and friendly, willing to put himself out there, with a lot of friends. 


At the beginning of the story, James can't figure out why Turkish is being so mean to him.  Turkish is smitten, and trying to get James' attention by, essentially, pulling his pigtails. Turkish is willing to break down James' barriers and chase him until James is a little too rejecting, and hurts Turkish enough to give up.  Then James has to decide what he wants and whether he is brave enough to do what it takes to fix things.


Most of the story is told from James' point of view, but there is an epilogue from Turkish's point of view that allows us to see James from his eyes, and it is hilarious.

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review 2015-10-03 02:52
run, run, fast as you -- by branwyn
run, run, fast as you -- - branwyn run, run, fast as you -- - branwyn

** Some Spoilers **



A really excellent story in which Carlos arrives in Night Vale traumatized, fleeing from his violent stalker sort-of-ex, Robert. Cecil falls in love with him at first sight, but it takes Carlos a year to start to warm up to the idea, because of his past - and not just with Robert. Carlos is asexual, and it has been a source of pain and loneliness to him since teenager-hood. He has given up on any kind of romantic relationship. He does want acceptance and love and even affection, but sex is abhorrent to him and he knows (from trying many times) that he can't be true to himself and be in a relationship where there is any sexual activity.


Carlos comes to Night Vale both to escape Robert and because he has always been intrigued by it, in spite of its reputation for strangeness and its high mortality rate. He muses to himself that:


Hamlet might have preferred to bear familiar burdens rather than fly to risks he didn't understand, but Hamlet was a prince, not a scientist. His actions in the play made that very clear; he hadn't even attempted to take an ectoplasmic reading after the first appearance of his father's ghost.


The first half of the book is about Carlos learning to live in Night Vale, and getting to know Cecil and beginning to trust him. At first, Carlos feels responsible (as the town Scientist) for trying to save the town from every crisis and danger, but gradually he figures out that this is how Night Vale always is, and it isn’t his responsibility to ward off destruction. Then he is free to pursue what interests him and piques his curiosity.


There is essentially a time skip of nearly a year from shortly after Carlos arrives to the main events of the story. Those who follow Welcome to Night Vale podcasts will know what happened during that year - this story goes AU after that. I actually don't listen to WTNV much - I like my stories more linear and plot driven - but I really appreciate the world. It is surreal and strange things happen all the time, but it doesn't feel like there are no rules and anything goes. The author, branwyn, does a beautiful job evoking what is like there, both for outsiders like Carlos and natives like Cecil.


Carlos has the most trouble with the temporal fluidity of Night Vale. Time doesn't run consistently there, and it doesn't pass at the same rate as the outside world. He is also very disturbed by the Whispering Forest, which speaks to him in the voices of people he cares about and tries to convince him to become part of it. He has three lab assistants, the most important of whom is Nijeia, a mostly-invisible twelve year old (keeping in mind the temporal fluidity factor – she says she has been twelve for a long time).


At the end of the time skip, the romance begins, and it is really lovely. I don’t know a lot about asexuality, but I found Carlos’ expression of it to be entirely relatable. He has lost hope of finding someone who wants him for who and how he is, because it has caused only anger and resentment – and meanness – in the past. Cecil is a near perfect match for Carlos. He does love him exactly how he is and is able to meet his needs without asking for anything Carlos isn’t comfortable giving. Interestingly it is Carlos who is a bit mean and unfair during this period, because he is such a PTSD mess. Cecil gets him, though. At one point he says, “I can't tell you how much I regret the idea that I might, for one instant, have made you feel unsafe. Just the thought of it makes me feel like I've come down with a case of throat-spiders.”


In one lovely bit, Cecil suggests marking off areas on Carlos’s body where he doesn’t want to be touched. Carlos both likes the idea and is freaked out by it. He retreats, and Cecil says:


"What was I thinking? You only just woke up, and I ambushed you with advanced relationship negotiation tactics. Ugh, Cecil." He rolled his eyes and shook his head. "You go on. I'll make breakfast, and we'll finish later." 


Just as the romance is developing nicely, the action part of the plot kicks in, and the second half of the story is nonstop action, suspense, and violence. It is just as well done as the romance, with themes coming to fruition and clues and hints paying off. The ending is satisfying and well-earned on everyone’s part.


Highly recommended.


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review SPOILER ALERT! 2015-09-09 17:09
Book Review : The Mark Of Noba By GL Thomas
The Mark of Noba (The Sterling Wayfairer Series) (Volume 1) - G.L. Tomas


The Mark Of Noba  By GL Thomas


 The Mark of Noba Cover


The Mark Of Noba By GL Thomas (Book #1 of The Sterling Wayfairer Series)

Cover by: Alice Bessoni

Available for purchase on Amazon



In preparation for a slightly long-winded review, I’ve opted to put all the main details at the top of this post instead of at bottom since this story and series has a lot of context to it. I also decided to include the full Goodreads synopsis instead of a short, piecey and inconclusive one below:


Sterling Wayfairer has one goal for his senior year: make his mark. He’s been slipping into the background his whole high school career—distracted by his mother’s mental health, unsettled by the vivid dreams that haunt him at night, and overshadowed by the athletic accomplishments of his popular best friends. But this year is going to be different. He’s going to break a few rules, have some fun, and maybe even work up the nerve to ask his crush out on a date. But things don’t go exactly as planned. Students are disappearing, Sterling starts losing time, and it all seems to center around Tetra, a girl no one else seems to notice but him. When he finally tracks her down for answers, they aren’t what he expects: He and Tetra hail from a world called Noba, and they’re being hunted by a Naga, a malevolent shapeshifter that’s marked them for destruction. Tetra and Sterling have distinct abilities that can help them fight back, but their power depends heavily on the strength of their bond, a connection that transcends friendship, transcends romance. Years apart have left their bond weak. Jumpstarting it will require Sterling to open his heart and his mind and put his full trust in the mysterious Tetra. If he doesn’t, neither of them will survive…


Reading gifs for blog post


I was lucky enough to have received my copy of The Mark of Noba through a giveaway from the authors of the book, GL Thomas. With out a doubt, anyone can sit down with this book and not realize they’ve been reading for six or seven hours without stopping. 0__0 I do not want this to turn into an essay or anything, but there were a lot of things that were so great about this book.




The GL Thomas duo have fashioned a realistically believable, angsty yet pleasingly comical Young Adult/ Science Fiction story that takes place on an alternate Earth-like planet called Geo.


The authors were smart to not only give us First Person POV, but give us the story from both Tetra and Sterling’s POV so the reader is able to immerse themselves in the story from two different angles without any of the mystery or the story being blatantly obvious or ruined. In addition, the reader will not feel ridged or confided to feeling like they’re reading a YA fiction that’s just for boys or just for girls.


I thought it was funny that when I got to the back of the book, the writers ask the reader which team they were on, #TeamTetra or #TeamSterling, but as it goes back and forth between the two of them in the book I found that I couldn’t just choose one side. The writers do a great job at exploring each character individually as well as they do a unit.

Dutch & Johnny From Killjoys Tumblr site


Without giving too much away, I do not want to say that Tetra and Sterling end up as a couple, because they aren’t. It's just that while reading this book you get to see something so genuine; their relationship and connection is so much more than words. The two of them have this amazing bond {do you see what I did there? ;-) }


If you are the type who enjoys reading/watching a thing/a connection between two people grow, I guarantee you that The Mark of Noba is the book for you.



Moreover, it you are the type of reader who just enjoys reading about characters whose friends, family, or their life in general takes comedic jabs at them, then this is the book for you.


Sterling’s character is clearly the reader/audience of the book as we, like him leave normal, or what we perceived as the norm, after officially meeting Tetra in the book. And although the POV goes back and forth between the two, in Tetra’s POV the reader is not privy to all the answers that Sterling (we) has through out the book. With him, we get to revel in his actions and reactions because he’s basically an average senior at CCI (City Collegiate Institute) that you cannot help but root for while simultaneously laugh at.



Haha, I cannot remember the last time I felt so much second hand embarrassment for someone.  And to be fair, it wasn’t all second hand embarrassment. Reading about Sterling’s life growing up with a Mother whom suffers from schizophrenia is also another enthralling aspect about both him and The Mark of Noba.


Tetra’s character on the other hand is clearly the objective voice in the book o for the reader as she contradicts the social standards and restrictions in Geo that parallel our own.


Needless to say, often reading Tetra’s POV was one of my favorite parts about The Mark of Noba because she strips away and exposes the baseless and fallacious foundations of nearly every reason or excuse Sterling presents to her for ‘how’ or ‘why’ things were the way that they were on Geo, particularly in regards to gender.


Which completely differentiates from Tetra’s home planet, Noba, where its people function in a way that wasn’t rooted with gender barriers, a person—no matter who—is defined by their skill set and their skill set alone.


I am known for my over analyzing things---


but there were a lot of great things about this story.



However, there were a few things about this book that I did not like or felt if-y about but they DO include spoilers, so if you want to continue with a spoils-free impression about The Mark of Noba, then please stop here.



Spoilers for The Mark of Noba

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review 2015-01-05 13:11
This Fast, Unreasonable Spring
This Fast, Unreasonable Spring - hermette,i-claudia

I. I am at a loss for words. I went into this expecting...no I don't even know what I was expecting. Feels of a sort. Likely a happy sort. This. This is not at all what I was expecting. And it is beautiful.

"Oh, fuck no," he says aloud, startled by the sudden clarity of the recognition. It's a horrible idea on so many levels, Merlin can't even begin to count them, but that doesn't change the fact that the thought of Arthur makes him feel giddy and sick and utterly, soppily in love. He wants to wake up next to Arthur and engage in gross displays of public indecency with him and force him to eat vegetables.


The feels in this one though. I was utterly unprepared for the onslaught of emotion. This is romantic and heartfelt and achingly sad in moments. I tried so hard not to cry and for the most part I held the tears at bay but that is only because the authors must have been feeling generous and kind enough not to dwell on the angst as they easily could have.

Arthur swallows hard and turns his face away from Merlin's, heart threatening to beat right off his chest. The terror of Merlin saying no has been replaced by the terror of him actually saying yes. And Arthur can't remember the last time he fucked someone just because he wanted to. This is uncharted, uncertain. He's used to a set of preordained rules that keep him boxed in and keep everyone else out. But Merlin... Arthur has the unsettling feeling that Merlin could peel off all his layers and put them back on in the right order.


And it's 5am and I'm really not feeling coherent enough to string together intelligible sentences in the hopes of conveying how amazing I feel this story is, how much I love it, everything about it, how much it made me feel. If it wasn't so lateearly, fucking hell the sun is coming up soon I might seriously consider rereading this story immediately. Forever on my 'a thousand hearts' shelf this goes!

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review 2015-01-04 07:47
I've Got Nothing To Do Today But Smile
I've Got Nothing To Do Today But Smile -... I've Got Nothing To Do Today But Smile - gyzym

"Today is the day that Arthur grins like an idiot and laughs and blushes and advises people on the amount of vanilla in their scones," Yusuf says. "May 22, everyone. Mark your calendars."

Eames, because he's a bastard, actually marks the calendar.


Sweet, adorable, a bit sad. Perfect.

I'm not feeling very coherent right now because chronic insomnia makes this another late night in a long list of late nights, but any eloquent words I could say about this fic would fall short on how I feel about it. This is the second story by gyzym I've read (The Love Song of the North American Douchebag is also pretty great) and I'm always going to look back on it with fondness. gyzym does a combination of comedy and slight angst so well and it's impossible for me not to swoon over her stories. I highly recommend this one! Also there's a pretty great soundtrack to read this to.

Note: for anyone who cares there are a few editing errors in this, but the number is very low.

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