Interview about and review of: Perfect Rhythm by Jae

 Series: Standalone

Genre: Romance, Contemporary

Diversity: LGBT (f/f, asexual character, lesbian character, aroace side character, queerplatonic side relationship)

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Cover: A friend of mine said it looks like a Taylor Swift cover. She’s kinda right, isn’t she?

Links: goodreads

Trigger warnings: acephobia

Description: Pop star Leontyne Blake might sing about love, but she stopped believing in it a long time ago. What women want is her image, not the real her. When her father has a stroke, she flees the spotlight and returns to her tiny Missouri hometown.

In her childhood home, she meets small-town nurse Holly Drummond, who isn’t impressed by Leo’s fame at all. That isn’t the only thing that makes Holly different from other women. She’s also asexual. For her, dating is a minefield of expectations that she has decided to avoid.

Can the tentative friendship between a burned-out pop star and a woman not interested in sex develop into something more despite their diverse expectations?

A lesbian romance about seeking the perfect rhythm between two very different people—and finding happiness where they least expect it.

Review: I’ve got a love-hate-relationship with this one.

I can’t promise this review will make much sense, but I’ll try my best. I’ve got a special treat for you though!

But let’s start with the review itself:

I love Holly. She is a great and interesting character. Her being ace is simply a part of who she is. Leo is harder to love… a part of this may be the way being seen as a sex object has shaped her…

Anyway, I really enjoyed their romance, because guess what? No love at first sight! Instead they have a kinda rocky start and then they begin to get to know each other. Slowly. And they fall in love. Slowly. I’m all for slow burn romances, because they always feel more real and they really show and don’t tell.

And thanks to this book being all about character development we get to read about other than stuff than love as well. I like more plot than simply see-for-the-first-time-fall-in-love-instantly-little-bit-of-drama-the-end, okay? There usually are other people in a person’s life than their love interest. And one has going on more than simply being in love.

Leo’s father for example plays an important role and I loved how his health is not a one time only scene.

So, this sounds like a 5 stars read, doesn’t it?

Well.

There is the asexual part. And this is the part why I don’t really know how to rate this book. Every rating feels wrong and unfair. I don’t think I felt this helpless and mixed up about a review before. Luckily I had the chance to meet Jae at Frankfurt Book Fair 2017 and she was very nice about me asking questions about Perfect Rhythm. So I could find some clarity (gosh, that sounds so dramatic!).

Holly herself is greatly portrayed in her asexuality and I enjoyed how she isn’t sex-repulsed. Because asexuality is a spectrum and there are asexuals, who enjoy sex. I loved how Jae put a trigger warning before the sex scene in her book as well. Way more authors need to do this!

But when she first told Leo about being ace, she used liking chocolate to make her understand. And I felt really disappointed because up to then everything was great. Asexuality isn’t about liking or not liking sex. It’s about not feeling sexual attraction.

So I asked Jae why she used this analogy and she said, she wrote Perfect Rhythm because a good friend of her is ace and there aren’t enough ace romances out there (so fucking true!). This friend uses chocolate to make people understand a little. Most people don’t know about romantic and sexual identities. Everything is the same for them and they think, everyone wants to have sex. So telling them “hey, I don’t feel sexual attraction, but I can love as deeply as every romantic person” confuses them.

I can get behind that.

Then there is Leo who reacts very acephobic in her thoughts. Being like “can I really date an asexual?!” is not nice. Annie told me how one can judge if that’s a good thought or not if you exchange the asexual for black for example. I wasn’t sure if I am ‘allowed’ to feel pissed about that thought. Well, now I feel like I am allowed.

I asked Jae about this as well. She portrayed Leo as an allo with absolutely no information about asexuality as well and she says this reaction is sadly realistic. People think like this. This doesn’t mean it’s a good way of thinking but they do.

I can get behind that.

Leo ends up dating Holly of course. I would have liked it more if Leo kinda apologized for this? Or told herself how fucking stupid she was to think like this because it’s wrong and acephobic and so so so stupid.

You may be wondering why I waited this long to review Perfect Rhythm if I was that unamused by it.

I felt like Jae is not acephobic. So I put writing this review off for weeks. And then I saw she would be a the Book Fair and I knew that was my chance!

I got this feeling, because of several things:

  • Holly later explains asexuality to Leo in a way better way
  • Jae hat sensitivity readers (she told me 4 ace spec total, one demi, one aroace and if just one sensitivity reader would have said anything she would have changed the thing that they didn’t like)
  • her talking about asexuality at the end of Perfect Rhythm and this post on the Ylva blog

How to end this wannabe review? I don’t know. I’m not sure if it helps you in any way? But at least we get reasons for the way asexuality is portrayed in Perfect Rhythm by the author.

There was never a more difficult to write review than this one believe me! And I’m not proud of this one. But sometimes feelings are confusing and in this case they are very confusing. I think I’ll read Perfect Rhythm again in a year or two and then come back to this review.

Jae: Thank you for being this honest and patient with my questions. I enjoyed our talk a lot!

Disclaimer: I received a free copy through the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.

Merken

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Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

 Series: Standalone

Genre: YA, contemporary, drama

Diversity: POC, Asian American character

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Cover: I love how powerful the pink cover is.

Links: goodreads

Trigger warnings: drugs, violence, racism

Description: Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Review: Very thought-provoking YA.

I had some slight troubles getting into this book, but the reason for this is not the story. I’m just not used to the used language, since most books – or most books I read – aren’t using slang. It didn’t hinder my enjoyment of The Hate U Give though. Okay, enjoyment is not the right word…

This book enraged me, frightened me, gave me goosebumps and made me teary-eyed. And that’s exactly what I think should happen. Not only when reading THUG but hearing the news of or being present when racist police officers misuse their job.

I had to look at the book’s information while reading because I kept thinking to myself ‘This book has been published in the US?!’ Well, it didn’t. Or at least the version I’ve read didn’t.

You see, it just seems so real and since it’s #ownvoices I believe that it is real. Honestly, here in Germany we don’t get a lot of information about US racist cops, but we see enough. Put this together with the things I see with Social Media? It’s been fucking time for a book like THUG to be published! And I’m hoping for way more.

Just because it’s YA doesn’t mean a book can’t have a powerful message. Not only adults experience racism, so why shouldn’t it be written about in YA?

I feel like I’m going down a political route… not that that’s bad but I want to talk about The Hate U Give.

And I really love this book but for one thing.

Remember how I just talked about it being real? There is one thing that doesn’t feel realistic at all. It’s a small thing but kinda spoiler-y so if you want to stop reading my review here, that’s alright. You won’t miss anything important.

 

Starr doesn’t talk to her boyfriend about the things she has experienced. And I don’t know why. Of course she’s being like “he’s white!” but… he’s your boyfriend. Talk to him before going on television and having him find out that way?! You like him, maybe even love him… why shouldn’t he be a comfort to you in this time? And if you think he can’t or maybe even react racist… why be with him?

Merken

Finally Becomming Professional

How many blog posts have I started this last few months with something along the lines of “I’m sorry I wasn’t more active, …?” Way too many, that’s for sure.

And I don’t want to do this anymore! I love writing for my blog, I love writing and reading comments, being with you all on twitter and everywhere else.  I’ve really missed it this past weeks and I’ve made some changes to ensure I’ll post more.

I can’t promise they’ll help since the reason for my absence is mental health related, but I really want them to work!

First Adjustment

I’ve finally written an editorial calendar. Yes, I know, I know. I should’ve done that in the beginning, but I thought I could work without one. Creative chaos and all that. Turns out I can but I can’t work well without one.

So, I’ve written one. I’ll probably make a pretty one as well and if I do I’ll post it for you. In this calendar I’ve put down everything I could think of – Writing and posting of reviews of course, but there’s a fixed day for replying to emails and noting things down as well. Among other things. So you may expect a regular-ish posting theme from now on! Yay.

Second Adjustment

Social Media needs to become a bigger part of Books to get lost in. I am active on twitter (that’s the one I’m most active on), but I’ve got accounts on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram as well. If you’re interested you can follow my tumblr as well, but that’s a big mess of everything so be prepared.

Third Adjustment

I’m self-studying modern calligraphy (if you follow my Instagram you may have seen it already). But I didn’t make enough time for it. And since I want my reviews to look more like my reviews I’ll use calligraphy for them. I don’t know why I haven’t thought of this way sooner… But I’m starting right away with this adjustment – as you have seen at the beginning of this post. But I need a free hosting site for this. So if you know any…?

Forth Adjustment

It’s a thing I’ve done before, really. I will blog about my hauls and write a monthly overview as well. But I won’t show you books I’ve bought, or not just books I’ve bought. I’ll blog about additions to my TBR from now on as well. I’m thinking of doing this once a month right now… So now I’ll have to note when I put which book to my tbr. Luckily Goodreads has a date added feature!

Fifth Adjustment

The Top Ten Tuesday meme will appear on my blog again. But only if the week’s theme is of interest to me. So there will be Tuesdays without a TTT. Why should I blog about things I don’t enjoy blogging about? Which brings me to my last adjustment:

Sixth Adjustment

Find the fun in blogging again! Because it’s there. Blogging is fun and interesting and challenging and I just really enjoy doing it. I just need to remind myself from time to time of this.

 

Are there any things you have changed about your blogging style?

Or maybe you even have some tips for me?

Merken

Frankfurt Book Fair 2017

Starting Tuesday I’ll be at Frankfurt Book Fair again and I won’t be able to do any blog related stuff. Well, okay, I might tweet a lot but other than that…

I’ll get back late Sunday evening and I will write reviews after again! I’m thinking about doing a discussion post as well. It’s been ages since the last one…

I’m so sorry for not really writing a lot of reviews right now, but I’m so busy and exhausted all the time…

 

Blog Tour: Would it be okay to love you by Amy Tasukada

 Series: Would it be okay to love you

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Diversity: LGBT (m/m)

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Cover: Shouldn’t Aoi be way smaller? I’m confused…

Links: goodreads

Trigger warnings: homophobia mention

Description: A robot fanboy. An erotic voice actor. When love comes calling, will they shed their armor?

Sato’s only long-term relationship is the one he shares with his Gundam collectibles. He dreams about the kind of unconditional love his parents enjoy. If only he could break out of his shell, he might find his special someone…

Outgoing playboy Aoi has sworn off relationships. He knows they only distract him from his budding voice acting career. He’s earned a few loyal fans, and if he keeps at it, he may even earn enough to never worry about being evicted again…

When Sato meets Aoi at the local anime store, there’s definitely a spark. But even as they tread carefully, their commitment issues and Aoi’s troubled past soon muck things up before they can start. In order for Sato and Aoi to have their happily-ever-after, they’ll both have to take a leap of faith… and hope to be caught.

Review: I love this book’s title!

It really represents both characters. Both Aoi and Sato are insecure in their own way and both think they do not deserve the other.

This sounds like a sweet love story, doesn’t it? And it is one, but the specialness I expected at the beginning wasn’t delivered. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice read and it does not fetishize japanese men or culture (I’m totally sub-reviewing a different book here, but I couldn’t help myself).

We get a good look at living in poverty (or at the edge of it) without it being aggressively in your face. Instead it’s simply there, being shown in the way Aoi lives and thinks which makes is even more heartbreaking in my eyes. And then there is Sato who is just so awkwardly nerdy and cute. They make a great couple.

But the ending kinda ruined it for me. “Aoi’s troubled past soon muck things up” (quote taken from the description) isn’t as big of a plot point as I thought. It is there, but there isn’t enough detail… or feeling… in it. It’s just solved too easily and too fast. Because of this the ending feels really rushed and not finished somehow.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy through Signal Boost Promotions in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.

 

Make sure to visit the other blog tour participants!

 

Review: His Quiet Agent by Ada Maria Soto

 Series: Standalone

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Diversity: LGBT (m/m, demisexual character, probably asexual spectrum character, lesbian side character)

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Cover: It portrays them perfectly.

Links: goodreads

Trigger warnings: Kinda eating disorder-ish

Description: Arthur Drams works for a secret government security agency, but all he really does is spend his days in a cubical writing reports no one reads. After getting another “lateral promotion” by a supervisor who barely remembers his name, it’s suggested that Arthur try to ‘make friends’ and ‘get noticed’ in order to move up the ladder. It’s like high school all over again: his attempts to be friendly come across as awkward and creepy, and no one wants to sit at the same table with him at lunch. In a last-ditch attempt to be seen as friendly and outgoing, he decides to make friends with The Alien, aka Agent Martin Grove, known for his strange eating habits, unusual reading choices, and the fact that no one has spoken to him in three years.

Starting with a short, surprisingly interesting conversation on sociology books, Arthur slowly begins to chip away at The Alien’s walls using home-cooked meals to lure the secretive agent out of his abrasive shell. Except Martin just might be something closer to an actual secret agent than paper-pusher Arthur is, and it might be more than hearts at risk when something more than friendship begins to develop.

Please note this book has a Heat Rating of zero.

Review: Give me more!

I wasn’t sure if I should buy this book, because it’s so short and rather pricey considering its length. But dear fellow book reviewer Annie told me to read it and she never misguided me, so I bought it.

I don’t regret investing even one cent! His Quiet Agent is everything I wanted and more. I really don’t understand how Ada Maria Soto managed this, but those 156 pages present some of the most well-developed characters and relationship I’ve ever read. It doesn’t even feel like under 200 pages. If you’d tell me I read over 400? I would believe it.

I fell in love with Arthur right from the beginning, especially after him wondering if the plants at the office were real or fake. I’m known to touch flowers and plants because I’m always wondering this myself. I really enjoyed his awkwardness as well. It doesn’t come across as forced Oh-I-need-an-awkward-character, he simply is awkward. (Typing awkward three and now four times in a row is awkward btw).

Martin was a little bit harder to love at first, because you know next to nothing about him but he was so interesting and I was excited every time Arthur chatted him up. Or didn’t chat him up because he respected Martin’s wishes.  Sadly this isn’t often the case in romance books.

Speaking of romance. Oh my God, the romance in this book…So my cup of tea! It’s totally innocent but so true somehow. And the love declaration scene? God yes! If you read nothing else, you have to read that scene.

But there isn’t only romance and a healthy romantic relationship in this book. We’ve got a fun, badass lesbian character, mystery and a nice pinch of drama. Is there anything else you need?

Give me more real asexual romances!

 

 

Review: Antisocial by Heidi Cullinan

 Series: Standalone

Genre: LGBT (m/m, ace character, aroace character), Romance

Rating: dnf

Cover: Typical Manga Look.

Links: goodreads

Trigger warnings:  Bullying, Sexual Harrassment, bad ace rep (maybe more)

Description: A single stroke can change your world.

Xander Fairchild can’t stand people in general and frat boys in particular, so when he’s forced to spend his summer working on his senior project with Skylar Stone, a silver-tongued Delta Sig with a trust fund who wants to make Xander over into a shiny new image, Xander is determined to resist. He came to idyllic, Japanese culture-soaked Benten College to hide and make manga, not to be transformed into a corporate clone in the eleventh hour.

Skylar’s life has been laid out for him since before he was born, but all it takes is one look at Xander’s artwork, and the veneer around him begins to crack. Xander himself does plenty of damage too. There’s something about the antisocial artist’s refusal to yield that forces Skylar to acknowledge how much his own orchestrated future is killing him slowly…as is the truth about his gray-spectrum sexuality, which he hasn’t dared to speak aloud, even to himself.

Through a summer of art and friendship, Xander and Skylar learn more about each other, themselves, and their feelings for one another. But as their senior year begins, they must decide if they will part ways and return to the dull futures they had planned, or if they will take a risk and leap into a brightly colored future—together.

Review: I don’t even know what’s the worst part of this book. It’s horrible.

I’ll try to make sense of my notes for you, but summing it up: NO! You could stare for an hour into nothing and you would get more than from reading this book.

Sounds mean? Maybe. But this book is not only badly written, it makes a fetish of Japan and the so-called asexuality representation is plain harmful. So imagine how affected readers will feel with being portrayed this way. It’s more than ‘mean’.

So where to start… I really don’t know where to start so I’ll try to go chronologically through my notes. There is a slight spoiler but I feel it’s very important to know about this. I will mark it though, so you can decide for yourself.

So. First thing I wrote down: Antisocial states that it’s unusual and totally a Japanese/Manga/Anime thing for high schoolers to be without their parents. Have you read english YA? How often are there parents present? There are so few where the parents have a role in a story that I tell you about this in my reviews. Maybe that’ll give you a hint that it is not a Japanese thing.

Japan itself is so fetishezed in this book it’s not even funny anymore. Everything is Japanese but the people. There is not one character who is Japanese. Or Half. Or a quarter. No, that’s not true. There is one, but he is dead and has been way before this story started.

Okay, I can get being interested in Japanese Culture. Being a teen it may be understandable to fetishize it a little. But it’s still not right. Having an adult author be that way? Not cool.

I mean, one of the characters speaks like maybe 3 Japanese sentences. He uses it for sex talk. If my better half spoke in their mother tongue to me, yes totally okay for sex talk. Using a language you don’t even speak? Not okay!

There could be said way more about that Japan Fetish but I want to talk about something that’s very dear to me.

The ace rep. Or the NOT ace rep. I do not accept anything I have read in this book as ace rep. If you want to read about ace spectrum characters DO NOT READ THIS BOOK! DON’T DO IT! Says the ace spectrum reviewer. Or screams at you. Whatever you prefer.

First it states that all men are sexual beings. Wrong?! And even an allosexual man does not think about sex 24/7?

And then the allosexual character is portrayed as a saviour for accepting the other character’s kinda maybe asexuality. The allo one knows this before the person themselves btw. But okay. Maybe. Sounds totally unrealistic to me, because I suspected it myself even though I didn’t know the actual word or that it is a possibility and I kinda thought everyone felt this way and I therefore was always very confused when people were like “I’d fuck that” without knowing the ‘that’. But enough about this. Because I could go on for hours and I maybe will but not here and not now.

Before I read Antisocial I read an article by Heidi Cullinan in which she talked about being not ace but having a low libido or something. I have forgotten the actual details. Or rather I made me forget about it. Anyway, having this article in the back of my mind and reading this book? Tainted the book even more for me. But it would have been bad either way.

I was very pissed that the aroace side character – someone who knows how it is to be stereotyped – stereotypes all fraternity guys. Because you can’t be in a relationship with them. They are all the same! Sure.

I HATE THIS BOOK WITH THE WHOLE OF MY HEART AND SOUL AND BODY AND EVERY LAST DROP OF ACENESS IN ME!

How about having sensitivity readers? Huh?! Have people who know the stuff read over your “Hm, I think that could be the way it is”?! I would have done it for free fucking hell!

Okay, calming down. Or trying to. Give me a minute. Or an hour, I don’t know.

Those things alone were dnf worthy and I thought about dnfing so many times… But then there was a certain scene. And it reminded me of something from my past that I thought I was kinda okay about but apparently not.

 

 

SPOILER HERE with explicit language

One of the characters is in a fraternity and the new maybe members are at a party with everyone when one person is like “you have to blow our guys here and the first to make his finish gets to fuck a prostitute!”

And I was like “I’M OUTTA HERE!”

 

Disclaimer: I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.