I am Currently at Furry Migration 2016

Hello everybody! I just wanted to inform you that today is day one of me visiting Furry Migration 2016, a furry convention held annually at the wonderful Hyatt in Minneapolis. Today, I’ll be visiting fellow furry writers, including the artistic Ursula Vernon, author of the Hugo award-winning “Digger” webcomic, and the talented Kyell Gold, author of “Waterways” and countless other books!. I hope to give you photos, advice for writers and artists, tales of what I’d been up to, etc. I can’t guarantee I’ll give consistent updates, but I do hope to share my experience at my second furry convention!

Have a wonderful day, and I’ll give you updates soon! 🙂

 

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Top 10 LGBT YA Novels I Recommend

Before you read, I’d like to dedicate this post to all the families and victims hurt in this morning’s tragedy. For those who for some reason haven’t heard, a lone shooter mercilessly massacred fifty people and injured just as many at a gay nightclub (called Pulse) in Orlando, Florida. Police are still investigating into further detail, but it is a known fact that this wasn’t just a random shooting. This was a hate-fueled attack meant to kill and harm innocent people.

If anyone is reading this, don’t pray for repentance or hate, but pray for the families and friends that have been affected by what many are calling the worst mass shooting in United States history. Do not call for gun control. Reports are coming in that the gunman was posing as a security guard and guns were not allowed in the club. If there is anything we should call for, it’s for the acceptance of LGBTQA+ people everywhere, and to fight homophobic attacks like this with love and understanding.

To everyone affected by the shooting, everyone is hearing your cries. And to everyone else, I have a quote for you from a Holocaust survivor named Henry Golde, “Hate is nothing, and love is everything.”

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          Gay literature is an iconic part of the LGBTQA+ community, especially towards teenagers and young adults, so in celebration of LGBT Pride Month, I’ve decided to make a Top 10 list for the best gay young adult novels I wholly recommend. Now, there are a few rules to this for anyone who’s reading. The first rule is that these entries have to have an LGBT person as the protagonist and not just as a side character. Second, it cannot be explicit and must be readable for anyone from fourteen to even nineteen years of age. And third, having no more than two of an authors’ works is acceptable by my standards because granted, I haven’t read every gay book for young adults; heck I’m even including ones I’ve reviewed on here already. And keep in mind that this is a recommendation list and not a list of the greatest LGBT young adult novels.

With that said, here’s the Top 10 List of LGBT YA Novels I Recommend.

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Review: “Openly Straight” (Openly Straight #1) by Bill Konigsberg

For my first post of LGBT Pride Month, I’m reading a gay romance novel that caught my eye while looking in a bookstore. The cover seemed nice, but the idea behind the book and the possibilities of it really caught my attention. I’ve heard of a few people say that they do not enjoy gay literature because according to them it’s the same old awkward romance you see in regular love stories. While it can be true in some cases, I have to disagree. Typically a gay romance doesn’t always have to have the romance as its focus, such as “Willful Machines” (which I reviewed a while ago). Much like zombie stories or horror films, a gay romance can be good with different variety and good characters, as well as an interesting story. And “Openly Straight” by Bill Konigsberg is one of these stories.

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Review: ‘Tri-Angles series: Land Sharks’ by Katharine M. Nohr

So I was asked by a good editor friend of mine if I could review a novel she’s having published next month, and I decided to review this. If you have the time after reviewing this, please be sure to order it via the link below 🙂 Thanks!

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Legal dramas, whether they be on TV, film, animation or literature are practically a dime a dozen in this day and age. And who can blame us? Many people love popular media that takes place in the court room, from old movies such as ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ to modern ones such as ‘Law and Order’. It has become a staple of popular television and literature everywhere. However, if you are going to make your legal drama stand out, it is considered wise to make it creative and new.

Katharine Nohr’s ‘Land Shark’ is in many respects that kind of legal drama.

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Update: New deadline for book reviews

If you’ve noticed recently, I usually have random days I give book reviews on here, so I’ve decided to have a set deadline for book reviews to be posted. Every Thursday evening every two weeks (starting February 11th), basically around 5:00 or 7:00, I’ll post my reviews so you won’t have to come back and forth to see if I’ve posted anything new (which I still recommend XP). If you have any questions, please contact me, and have a wonderful day!

Review: ‘Death Nell’ by Mary Grace Murphy

‘Death Nell’ is another book requested that makes me scratch my head after reading it. The title is a play on the word ‘death knell’, a bell that rings whenever someone dies. I was given the request a while ago but have been busy until now to read it. At first, I was expecting a mildly amusing mystery story centered on a middle-aged blogger, but got something a little bit more in the end.

LaNell ‘Nell’ Bailey is a popular but unknown food critic that owns a blog named ‘Nell’s Noshes up North’. Most of the restaurants and grills she goes to are met with glowing reviews. However, after unfairly giving a well-liked local restaurant called ‘Sam’s Slam’ a bad review, Nell starts receiving awful messages from a troll on her blog regarding her critiquing skills and the review of Sam’s Slam. Not long afterward, the body of a woman also named ‘Nell’ scares her into thinking a killer is after her. With the help of her friends, Sam from the restaurant she gave a bad review to, and herself, Nell must try to solve the case and figure out who wants her dead.

Before, I go on with this review, I should probably state that this book is not meant for everyone. The demographics for this is obviously leaning toward older women, mainly either housewives in their late forties to early fifties and female foodies with too much time on their hands. I’m not saying this is exclusive to those types of people, but ‘Death Nell’ isn’t written for everyone’s interests in mind.

I myself was expecting a serious mystery book centered on a food blogger with dark themes and a big mystery, but instead got something else out of this. Not to say it didn’t have those sort of elements (the reveal of the murderer is surprising and the way the bodies were found shocked me), but oddly enough, the focus of the book was also on Nell’s interactions and daily life while going through this. We see her try to keep a positive attitude, keep her weight down while being a food critic, interact with her dogs named after ‘Seinfeld’ characters, and slowly forming a friendship with Sam. Granted she can be condescending and whiny at times, but Nell makes up for this with her trait of realizing her mistakes and trying to fix them.

One other thing I like about this book is the fact it brings up how influential blogging and reviews are on business, and that a critic should not let their emotions control what they write. So many authors and writers like myself need to take this into heart in order to succeed. I thought it was subtle the way it was brought up.

Much like ‘Sorceress Rising’, another book set in my lovely home state of Wisconsin, so many businesses and landmarks are incorporated in the pages and setting. I’m also not too sure if some of these locations and restaurants even exist, but I have to give the author credit for making these places seem real with real customers. That’s what I like about a book; when they make a place seem too real to be fiction.

So what’s my verdict on this? Honestly, this book isn’t for me. I give it credit for having its own charm and charisma for the characters and a lively setting of Wisconsin towns. However, this type of book isn’t meant for the readings I’m interested. If you like this type of literature, that’s fine. I may even read it once more in the future, but I personally would place it among my favorite novels.

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If you have any questions or already have an opinion on the novel, feel free to leave any comments. Thanks!

Why I hate the film adaptation of ‘The Giver’ by Lois Lowry

I’m just going to say it: I hate the 2014 film adaptation of ‘The Giver’. Good God does it feel so good to say it. Granted I don’t hate it as much as other film adaptations of other media like ‘The Last Airbender’, but I’ve been wanting to say my opinion on this for a while.

Lois Lowry’s bestselling and award-winning novel ‘The Giver’, is a childhood treasure for future fans of ‘Fahrenheit 451’ and ‘1984’ (like me). To those who’ve never read the book, it is a powerful novel set in a distant future where sameness is the rule of a Community, meaning no religion, no sex, no violence, no crime, no individuality, no risk, and even the ability to see color is gone. To do this, the Elders of the Community got rid of the Memories of humanity’s past, and giving all of them to an old man called ‘The Giver’. The main character is a young boy simply named Jonas, who is given the chosen job as The Receiver of Memory. To put it in simple terms, he is to take Giver’s place and hold the Memories, from the beauty of sledding down a snowy hill in winter to the cruel ones such as war and famine. This ultimately leads to Jonas learning the powerful message of how important suffering is to individuals and humanity as a whole. Without pain and emotions, we cannot know the true meaning and appreciation of living our lives. This rings true to adults and especially children. This novel, while not a masterpiece of writing, is a great book that introduces readers to a serious level of literature through creative writing and likeable characters.

But I digress from talking about the novel; I’m here to talk about the film made as an excuse to copy the ‘Divergent’ film trilogy. There’s the sensitive teenager that turns into a rebel (check!), an older female villain with white hair that wants to maintain the system for the sake of maintaining the system (check!), backstories that involve telling about the past as opposed to showing it in a visual medium (check!), a romantic love interest not given much screen time amid the plot (check!), and finally, CGI vehicles that look like they should be in a different movie (check!).

However, I will say that for all the things done wrong with ‘The Giver’ film, they did get the style correct, with the film slowly going from monochrome in a few ways to colorful the more memories Jonas receives. Even the rushed scenes like Jonas absorbing the memories is genuine to watch, with footage of loving families together, celebrations between groups of people, and the interactions of people with animals moving you, especially near the final scene of the film.

Second and lastly, I found the casting pretty decent. I like how Jeff Bridges does everything he can to portray a cynical but intelligent grandfatherly figure, an aging man who has all the memories involving humanity’s past. He even acts very well when it comes to the more heartbreaking scenes. Brenton Thwaites as Jonas is decent as the sensitive main character who wants to learn more than he should, and Taylor Swift as the minor role of Rosemary got her two minutes of glory, but what caught me off-guard was seeing Cameron Monaghan as one of Jonas’s friends named Asher. For a guy who’s playing the Joker in ‘Gotham’, I love seeing Monaghan portray a goofy but innocent role.

Okay, now that I got those out of the way, it’s time to talk about why I hate this movie. While decent casting and perfect visual style are important for a novel, it doesn’t excuse lacking effort.

The biggest problem with this movie involves the changes from the classic source material. In the novel, Jonas was portrayed as a naïve and sensitive twelve year-old boy, not a teenager that looks like he walked off the set of ‘I Am Number Four’. I can understand the reasons behind making Jonas and his friends older than their written counterparts, since having teenagers in a film may bring in a young adult audience.

However, the reason behind Jonas and his friends being kids in the novel is because we see them go from childhood to young adulthood. We see Jonas go through the transition of innocence in childhood to the harsh reality when he becomes the Receiver and is given memories involving atrocities committed by humanity. We see Jonas as he slowly realizes how much Sameness in his Community stole from everyone as opposed to what was gained. Jonas also matures as a young boy and breaks his barrier of ignorance to explore the world and what can be gained from the human experience. With what the film did, it’s like making a film of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ with Scout as a fourteen year-old; it destroys the character development.

Speaking of character development, the film feels less like a film adaptation of ‘The Giver’ and more like a summary of the novel with a length of an hour and a half. The film focuses on the backgrounds and setting more than they do with the interactions between characters, and it feels rushed in important scenes and is less subtle.

Last of all, the biggest problem of the entire movie can be summed up in one sentence: There is no villain in ‘The Giver’! The writers of the film thought creating a villain would be beneficial to the plot (and an excuse to get Meryl Streep casted). But in the book this film is based on, there is no bad guy for Jonas to go up against. Much like ‘Fahrenheit 451’ by Ray Bradbury, Lois Lowry wrote that everyone in the Community chose the idea of Sameness, and didn’t realize the cost of lacking individuality, memories, and emotions. To put a Big Brother-like villain in this novel removes the characters of their complexity and identifiable weaknesses along with their fear of suffering and individual choices, thus whitewashing the message being conveyed to the audience. I know that Meryl Streep is a great actress and is doing her best, but the villain in this makes the antagonist of Divergent look subtle and interesting.

So that’s it. These are the reasons why I have the film adaptation of one of my favorite novels growing up. If they wanted to make the classic read into a film, why improve on it like they did with filming the ‘Hunger Games’ trilogy, or make it timeless like ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. In the future, I want to see a proper adaptation of this novel, and hopefully bring younger readers to love Loid Lowry’s novel more.

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If you have any questions or already have an opinion on the novel, feel free to leave any comments. Thanks!

Review: “Sorceress Revealed” (Clio Boru series #2) by Evan Michael Martin

It’s October, and let’s celebrate Halloween with a book about Wiccans and battles against the forces of evil. If you remember my first review on Reader’s Boulevard, I praised Evan Michael Martin for his ‘Sorceress Rising’ novel, and that I wanted to get my hands on the sequel. I ended up getting my wish with ‘Sorceress Revealed’, and even some new surprises regarding the Clio Boru series.

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Writing and Me

Writing has always been a passion for me. I love fiction most of all, especially the type of fiction that disintegrates your world and creates a new one around you. The type that erases your identity temporarily and gives you a new life and a new persona for 150+ pages. The type that turns your emotions into a roller coaster that loves to torture you to the brink of sadness, then either drag you down into tragedy, or pull you back to comedy and a happy ending.

But what I love more than fiction is writing fiction. On the side of writing reviews, I’ve also been writing short stories, and am currently working on a story series called ‘The Adventures of Peter Gray’, along with others here and there. If you like, you can go to a link below and critique me. Enjoy! 🙂

http://domus-vocis.deviantart.com/

Review: ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ by J.D. Salinger

I can’t think of a book that divides people more than ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ by J.D. Salinger. Almost everything about this book is both praised and controversial over the decades since it was published. I’m not going to go that much into the controversy of this book, especially about the bit involving John Lennon’s murder, but I will talk about the split arguments with this. This is a book that readers either love or hate. Some people call the main character a classic icon of teenage rebellion, while others despise him and his personality all together. Some call this novel a perfect look into the teenage mind while others see it as a trashy, preachy waste of paper. Some even call ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ a masterpiece of American literature, and by God, others don’t even want to mention this book exists.

So what did I think of it? Well…

‘The Catcher in the Rye’ is set in the middle of the 20th century, just after the Second World War. We follow a young sixteen year-old boy named Holden Caulfield, who isn’t upset that he’s been kicked out of Pencey Prep academy. He decides to skip staying until Christmas for his wealthy parents to find out, and runs to the nearby New York City. We follow him walking and sleeping around the city…and that’s about it. Yeah the book is basically about Holden being cynical toward everyone he meets.

Probably the biggest problem with ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ is that there’s basically little to no plot in this. We follow a teenager with a cynical attitude, he roams New York, tries to find a person to hear about his ‘problems’, and it takes 250 pages for me to want to die of boredom. I wouldn’t mind so much if Holden were made more interesting and were put in more interesting environments. Yeah he does risqué things like paying a prostitute to have a conversation with, and even walking through Manhattan when it is pitch black out, but we never see his personality being affected by it. He walks down a street, calls a random person a ‘phony’ (one of many memorable terms he uses), and monologues about how shitty his life and the world is while reminiscing about his brothers and sister. Good god, I was waiting for something different to happen.

Fans of ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ say that this book is the epitome of teenage rebellion and is ahead of its time. However, some readers don’t fully understand what teenage rebellion is. Some see it as a teenager being a douchebag to everyone, but there’s more to it than that. Teenage rebellion is a phase that helps a young man or young woman grow as a person, and helps them create their own identity through breaking the mold they grew up in.

It has been presented well in other novels published recently. Margo from ‘Paper Towns’ by John Green breaks the rules because she’s lived in a suburb house that’s strictly about keeping a façade. Alek from ‘One Man Guy’ by Michael Barakiva breaks the rules because he wants to know who he is outside of being a perfect son in a traditional Armenian family. And in the end, they know their identity.

With Holden Caulfield, he doesn’t even change as a character.

Speaking of which, let’s talk about the iconic symbol of teenage rebellion shall we? To be fair, Holden does have a personality that can be likeable to some people. He’s extremely cynical to phonies, but is kind to the people he cares about. He’s smart, but doesn’t apply himself. He loves his little sister, and even makes promises he tends to keep. However, so many reviewers and readers also say that Holden is very whiny, and…yeah I have to agree that he is very annoying to listen to whenever he monologues about all the phonies and everyone he hates.

So what is it that catches people’s eyes with ‘The Catcher in the Rye’? To the novel’s credit, it has a fantastic grip on imagery. Whenever Holden isn’t being cynical, he describes New York City in a way that almost feels like a beautiful music video. I like the scene where he’s in Central Park, and you can feel the atmosphere dripping around him. Even a few characters in this seem like they have interesting pasts, but we don’t see them very long.

So what’s the verdict on ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ by J.D. Salinger? I don’t regret reading it at all, and loved the style that the author gave this unique character, but teenage rebellion isn’t all about complaining for an entire novel-length book. If Holden Caulfield were put in a better story with an actual plot, it would’ve worked. For me it didn’t work, but I like to think of ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ as a Rorschach test for classic literature. While I see this novel as a misunderstood look at teenage rebellion, others may see it as a masterpiece, and I don’t have a problem with it, as long as they don’t kill anyone in the name of J.D. Salinger’s most well-known novel.

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If you have any questions or already have an opinion on the novel, feel free to leave any comments. Thanks!