zetasyanthis: (Default)
So... I've been reading a lot this year, and wanted to share a few books that have really hit me hard in the last few months. I'm not going to touch on all of them (see my Goodreads for specific reviews), but I wanted to call out a few that were so very, very special. (As always, my complete (and freshly updated) recommends list is here.)
 
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Technically, I read this last year, but it was so beautiful and so wonderful that I couldn't help but share it. Rue's given a pretty bad hand at the start, but she's amazing and eventually finds her way. I never expected a message of hope so profound from what I thought was a simple adventure book, but I should have known better after reading Ventus. Thanks, Karl. <3
 
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The Slow Regard of Silent Things
The Wise Man's Fear
 
This series by Patrick Rothfuss absolutely blew me away. It's fantasy, and beautifully written, but what really makes it are the characters, torn and broken as they are. If anything, I read these too quickly, and should have given myself more time to cry while reading them. I do not even have the words to explain my heartbreak here.
 
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This broke my heart in myriad ways, and I really needed to cry those tears. In many ways I'm both Regan *and* Luna, and I don't think I've ever cried so hard before.
 
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Respect... Holy moly, is that a loaded word with me. I too grew up in a household that preached respect while really speaking of obedience. Can't say I was as brave as Pen in this book, but I wish I'd been. >.<
 
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Different tack on this one... This is probably one of the most important books I've ever read as far as shaping my world view. It tells the story of a Jewish journalist who traveled to Germany after World War II to find out why what had happened had happened. My therapist actually picked up a copy of this one, and she liked it too. Hard read, but very topical, and I highly recommend it.
 
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And because I follow this subreddit, here are a couple of *awesome* writing prompts that have come up lately!
 
 

Recommends

Aug. 30th, 2015 11:53 am
zetasyanthis: (Default)
[This is a non-dated recommendations link post.]
 
This page serves to document some special links and stories I though are worth a look.  I'll be linking it off my sidebar and updating it frequently, so be sure to check back! Also, if you look and see too many things to check out, know that I've ordered them roughly (within each subsection) by how much they touched my heart.
 
Books
 
Glory in the Thunder is really damned cool. I'm still having a hard time explaining exactly why, but it fits in really well with my inclinations towards magic/spirituality. My Goodreads review can be found here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1504895871

Short Stories

This one is special.  It tastes like rain.  http://365tomorrows.com/08/30/lastly/

Heavily Emotional Comics and/or Webcomics
 
Dumbing of Age... Man, this is one that absolutely leveled me, multiple times. It's a slice-of-life comic about a group of friends going through college together, and living in the same dorm. It's beautiful, and heartbreaking, in ways that will make you wish you could hug the characters right through the page. You'll fall in love with them, hurt with them, and laugh and love with them too. More, you cannot ask. [And since I don't quite know how to segue from that, several of the characters are LGBT, or have PTSD/anxiety/depression/etc... If you struggle with any of those things, this may help you. This comic is also similar in feel to Questionable Content, which is just a little farther down this list.]
 
Rain... Wow. This one hit my like a ton of bricks.. From a transgender protagonist who is absolutely adorable, to an aunt and friends I'd probably fight to the death to protect, this story will warm your heart. You'll cry too, but never for very long, and you'll be happy to trade those tears for the joy this will bring you. Bisexual, transgender, genderqueer, gay... whatever your stripe of rainbow, and even if you're straight, this comic has a way of making you smile. I think it's the artist's love shining through. <3
 
Black Tapestries is probably the most heart-wrenching comic I have ever read. It is also probably the hardest read on this entire list. It takes place in a world where Kaetif (anthropomorphic animals) are looked down upon as vermin by most humans, and follows the story of a drifter, a mercenary for hire, as she attempts to assassinate, and then later, to find out how to reverse, what appears to be a curse. I cannot even tell you how much this comic means to me, especially since I found it so many years ago, but it is a brutal one at times too. You are hereby warned that there is an on-scene skinning as well as a rape that take place as part of the plot. I do not recommend it lightly, but it should say a lot that I recommend it despite that at all.
 
TwoKinds is a very similar story to Black Tapestries, though it does not veer anywhere near as dark (at least not directly). This is a lot more lighthearted, but the Kiedran (similar to the Kaetif from BT above) are essentially separate from human society most of the time. They aren't always looked down upon, but they are considered potentially dangerous, and are even enslaved in some cases. There is so much love and loss in this one I find it hard to adequately describe. Suffice to say that I've purchased copies of all the published volumes to support the artist.
 
Questionable Content is a story about a group of friends in the northeast US who move into an out of relationships with each other.  All of the characters are 'real' in the sense that they all have issues, some of them very serious.  Running the gamut from anxiety to control and OCD, to outright grief, this strip will make you laugh and cry in equal measure.  And all the time you'll be learning, about both yourself and others. UPDATE: There's a transgender character, now, too! And she's awesome! ^^
 
Venus Envy is recent find, but one I wish I had found ages ago.  Both the artist Erin and the main character Zoe are transgender, and though Zoe's struggles take place way back in high school (well before I managed to break out of *any* of my shell), they still mean a lot.  If you've ever wanted to understand a transgender person's desire to just fit in, be normal, and be accepted, you'll want to read this.  Beware though, it's not an easy read.  Lots of tears ahead.
 
Sunstone by Stjepan Šejić is another recent find.  I've actually never considered myself to be interested in BDSM-related material, but this comic caught me a bit by surprise.  The way it portrays an alternate lifestyle in such a positive and loving way, with no fear or judgment, is absolutely huge.  Learning new ways love can be seen and experienced is never a bad thing, and as much as it surprised me, I think it might surprise you.
 
Misc Comics and/or Webcomics
 
Blood Vigil is another fantastic comic by Stjepan Šejić. I don't even know how to describe this one, but it's fucking awesome. Quoting from an Amazon review: "Funny, dark, violent, quirky characters, elder gods, feathered dinosaurs, necromancers, and death herself. What is there not to love about this comic?"
 
Ms Marvel... This one is cool. I'm not usually one for superhero stories, but Ms Khan caught my eye. Specifically, her words did. "Good isn't a thing you are. It's a thing you do." I love her, the art, and the wonderful middle-eastern background she brings to the table. She's the first Muslim superhero I've ever seen, and seeing her family life echo my own Christian upbringing is kind of hilarious in a way that makes me wince. :P
 
Related Blog Entries:
http://zetasyanthis.dreamwidth.org/26094.html
zetasyanthis: (Default)
Just tossing up a few links I've been reading lately, as well as some thoughts on both.

First off is Venus Envy.  This is a comic about a transsexual girl just trying to make it through high school in one piece.  The damned thing hits like a sledgehammer, but it's well worth the read.  The way I put it to a friend was that it's not so much a "I hope you like it!" comic.  It's much more a "I hope this means something to you / resonates with your struggle too" comic.

(NSFW link warning) Second, Sunstone is a *stunning* lesbian BDSM friendship/romance comic.  (That link only goes to the first chapter, but you can find the rest via shiniez main gallery.)  The friendship, positivity, and affection shown in it is beautiful, just like the art.  We need more like this to remind us that alternate lifestyles are not necessarily bad.

Hope

Apr. 25th, 2015 07:06 am
zetasyanthis: (Default)
This journal is about hope... but we're not going to start there.

Some days, the world just sucks.  Okay, maybe a lot of days.

Today, it seems like a toss-up between folks who say that we're going to hell in a hand-basket, folks who are *trying* to send us to hell in a hand-basket, and those of us just trying to make it through.  We're bombarded by elders relating nostalgia about "better times," paired with stories of violence and looming threats of societal surveillance and control. With all that, it's easy to lose our way, and to forget that things are a bit better, and quite a bit more chaotic than we usually admit to ourselves.

I just finished reading Poul Anderson's Harvest of Stars, and I'm here to tell you that they're not going to win. Not the assholes, not the totalitarians, not even those who think that juuust a little tweaking of the human state would somehow make us better people. (We know how that ends, too...)

Yes, there is immense suffering in parts of the world. Yes, there are things terribly broken in our governments, in our relationships with each other, and even our relationships with ourselves. But we are *learning*.  For the first time ever, we are collectively starting to pay attention and see the problems that abound, and our society is (more or less) stable enough that we can start to deal with them. Yeah, it's going to be brutal at times, and yeah, we'll lose our way more than once; but we *will* make it. The message of that novel, and of art in general, is that humanity *will* endure and learn and grow beyond the wildest dreams of those poor souls who seek to control its soul. The stars call to us, and that is a dream that no one can ever destroy.
zetasyanthis: (Default)
I always bring a ton of books with me when I travel, regardless of what I plan to be doing.  So far, of the books I brought with me, I've finished two of them!  Quick little reviews follow:

The Green Fairy by Kyell Gold (6/5 - Masterpiece)
This is probably one of the best books I have ever read, and I don't know if my words can do it half the justice it's worth.  Still, I have to try...  Kyell himself, normally a writer of gay erotic fiction, describes it as a 'non-erotic gay non-love story,' and although that's technically correct, it doesn't even begin to touch on the mastery in this book.  Swapping back and forth from a confessional letter from the days of revolutionary France and a modern day coming of age story, this book manages to mix the two with the help of a little Absinthe and a whole lot of self-reflection.  There are only two things I have ever described as a masterpiece up until this point.  This is now the third.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin (5/5)
Nominated for the Hugo and Nebula awards, this book is a hell of a read as well, though a little jerky to get started with.  The author intentionally switches tense, time, and place at a moments notice, requiring you to stay on your feet and really pay attention, lest you lose important details.  That said, her use of foreshadowing and tiny little nudges/brush-strokes all along the read really pays off at the end.  Gods, godesses, their lovers, and intricate power struggles twist and turn like the great spire of Sky itself being woven from the finest golden thread.  The finish is every bit as amazing as you'd expect it to be, and I can't wait to read the rest of this trilogy!

The Broken Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin (5/5)
I can't say much about it, since it's part two of the trilogy and I don't want to give spoilers, but wow...

The Kingdom of Gods by N. K. Jemisin (5/5)
A finale I could never have imagined when I started the first of these three books...  Absolutely magnificent.

I'll update this as I go and add whatever else I manage to finish this trip.  I'm going to try and log the books I read from now on and see if I can't at least throw out a review from time to time!

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