Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Maybe I'm Your Steppin' Stone: Loveliness

by Shiuko Kano

Hellz, yeah! In this super-sexy sequel to I'm Not Your Steppin' Stone, one of my favorite yaoi authors delivers the goods. The stories are pretty easy to follow, and the pretty boys are easy on the eyes. This is the more explicit end of yaoi, with lots of steamy scenes, plenty of grunting and groaning, and nothing left to the imagination. Yowza!

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Night of Your Life

by Jesse Reklaw

A dazzling collection of Jesse Reklaw's "Slow Wave" comics, retelling real dreams in four panels. With endless possibilities and the natural bizarreness of dreams, they run the gamut from funny to eerie and you-name-it. This is a really great book to read while drifting off to sleep, although I must sadly report not remembering any interesting dreams of my own on the nights I fell asleep with this book in my hands.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Yellow 1

by Makoto Tateno

Mail vol. 1

by Housui Yamazaki

I had high hopes for Yellow, which is by a very popular yaoi author, who also wrote the Hero Heel series, which I enjoyed (and about which I wrote here). I was quite disappointed by this jumbled and confusing story line about extra-legal drug snatchers, one hetero and one gay. Sadly, thumbs down.

Mail also is disappointing. It's somewhat similar to, but nowhere near as good as, Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (reviewed here), kind of like when there's a good movie or TV show and then a bunch of lame imitations that go straight to DVD or get cancelled after half a season. The series is about a guy who can see ghosts and has a "spirit gun" to put tortured souls to rest.

Getting the Girl: a guide to private investigation, surveillance, and cookery

by Susan Juby

I absolutely loved this book. So many young adult novels are about girls, when I find one with a really great boy character it makes me quite happy, especially if he's short (like me) and cute (if I may be so humble). The boy in this book is very charming, confident, smart-assed and convincingly boy-ish, despite having been written by a lady author. (Huzzah, to you, Susan Juby!)

It's also nice to read a YA book that's not about personal tragedy but is about a reasonably well-adjusted kid who's concerned about the social tragedies of others and the unfairness of high school clique-ery, and who's aware of the many charms of young women who aren't skinny mean girls and also aren't soon-to-be-swanlike ugly ducklings.

Finally, it's Canadian, which is almost as good as being British.

The Year of Secret Assignments

by Jaclyn Moriarty

I nearly checked this out the first time I saw it... then about a year later a friend recommended it... then another year went by before I actually checked it out... then another year went by before I read it. When I finally did, I got a little nervous about the multiple-narrators thing, but I actually liked all the characters. It's a good and interesting story, told primarily via letters and journal entries, with well-developed girl and boy characters, though the girls get more ink. There's tension and mystery, and there's romance but it's not too much dwelt upon. As well there are cute Australian boys and sassy Australian girls, but no wombats or joeys. I give it an 8 out of 10, keeping in mind that I'm very stingy with 10s.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Naming Nature: the clash between instinct and science

by Carol Kaesuk Yoon

I found this book very frustrating, and I actually didn't finish it. I skimmed parts, but I was still committed to seeing it through — and then I just couldn't stand it any more and gave up about 10 pages from the end. I was hoping the book would have more info on the ways different cultures name, classify and organize the living world. Although that was part of the author's original concept, it apparently fell by the wayside when she picked up the science vs. instinct theme.

The history of scientific classification of the living world is interesting enough for a nerd such as myself, and for sure there are some intriguing connections and conclusions to be drawn from the comparison of functional, pragmatic, amateur, "natural" or "native" classification to the increasingly abstract-seeming minutiae of truly scientific evolutionary classification based on genetics and molecular biology. It is my opinion, however, that the author is exaggerating both the violence and importance of this supposed clash of worldviews. Even to use the word clash is perhaps overblown. And the whole thing about fish not existing is pure claptrap.

I look at it as being a bit like language: anyone, given the right education, can operate in at least two modes of speaking, formal and informal; lean too far to one side, and the other may suffer for that individual, but it hardly rocks the very foundations of language or imperils our aggregate ability to communicate. Scientists may insist that "fish" isn't, in some technical way, a valid evolutionary category, but the rest of us (even those of us who know what the scientists are saying) have a perfectly functional idea of "fish" and suffer no doubts about it; put all your roe in one broodpouch and maybe the other will suffer, but, in the vast majority of situations an ordinary person is likely to encounter, the two can co-exist quite peacefully.

The Archimedes Codex: how a medieval prayer book is revealing the true genius of antiquity's greatest scientist

by Reviel Netz and William Noel

Seems like a total nerd book, and I've never denied being a nerd, but I'd really like to believe that non-nerds would enjoy this book too. It's surprisingly well-written, considering neither author has a (non-academic) writing background. Even though I'm a nerd, I'm not particularly interested in antique books, cutting-edge imaging technology or maths, but the two writers did a good job of conveying the excitement and importance of both discovering and decoding an unknown manuscript and of revealing the breadth and extent of previously unrecognized ancient knowledge.

It's amazing that these treatises could be recovered (partially, at least) after so many years and mistreatment, and it's equally flabbergasting to realize that way back in B.C. days Archimedes was on the verge of inventing calculus, which, after his demise and the loss of much of his work, didn't come to fruition for almost two millennia. Especially astounding in light of the fact that virtually all modern science and technology wouldn't be possible without calculus. What could the world be like if we'd had that 2,000 year head start?

Twelve Long Months

by Brian Malloy

It is very important to mention that fag hags are, in many ways, essential to gay culture and particularly necessary for the support and nurturing of baby-gays. Having acknowledged that, however, it's also important to be aware of the potential emotional pitfalls of the fag-and-hag relationship, including but not limited to: the hag who loves her fag too much, and the fag who relies too much on his hag and takes advantage of her generosity. This book isn't quite about either of those scenarios, but it does brush up against them both. It mostly deals with the related issue of the straight girl who isn't really a fag hag but does have a tendency to date closeted gay guys who later come out of the closet and break her heart.

Are those sort of girls the audience for this book? I don't know that it would be very interesting for a gay male, teen or otherwise, and I don't see it appealing a whole lot to the average hetero teen girl either. It isn't terrible, and it does hit all the usual young adult relationship buttons (romance, neglected friends, heartbreak, re-affirmed friendships), but overall it's just...kinda...meh.