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Title: Witch Eyes
Author: Scott Tracey
Number of Pages: 336 pages
Book Number/Goal: 25/50 for 2011
My Rating: 3.5/5

Amazon Summary (edited for spoileriness): Braden's witch eyes give him an enormous power. A mere look causes a kaleidoscopic explosion of emotions, memories, darkness, and magic. But this rare gift is also his biggest curse.

Compelled to learn about his shadowed past and the family he never knew, Braden is drawn to the city of Belle Dam, where he is soon caught between two feuding witch dynasties. Sworn rivals Catherine Lansing and Jason Thorpe will use anything--lies, manipulation, illusion, and even murder--to seize control of Braden's powers. To stop an ancient evil from destroying the town, Braden must master his gift despite a series of shocking revelations.

Review: This isn't a book I would have picked up on my own, but it was the first book for [personal profile] rachelmanija's Permanent Floating YA Diversity Book Club, so I decided to give it a go. Aside from the fact that the romance is between two boys, there isn't a single original thing about it. I felt like I was reading an amalgam of a bunch of current supernatural-themed things, including Supernatural, but also Lost Girl and Twilight, which are not terribly original things to begin with. But despite kind of rolling my eyes at everything, I found myself getting drawn in, and as it is unsurprisingly the first book in a series (no one has any love for stand-alone books but me, or at least no writers/publishers), I will definitely be checking out the next one when it's released. If nothing else, it's nice to see a book with gay characters that's not about being gay (as much as I do enjoy those stories, too).
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Title: Sea, Swallow Me
Author: Craig Laurance Gidney
Number of Pages: 199 pages
Book Number/Goal: 16/50 for 2011
My Rating: 2.5/5

Jacket Summary: Ancient folklore and modern myth come together in these stories by author Craig Laurance Gidney. Here are found the struggles of a medieval Japanese monk, seduced by a mischievous fairy, and a young slave who finds mystery deep within the briar patch of an antebellum plantation. Gidney offers readers a gay teen obsessed with his patron saint, Lena Horne, and, in the title story, an ailing tourist seeking to escape his troubles at a distant shore, but who never anticipates encountering an African seagod. Rich, poetic, dark and disturbing, these are tales not soon forgotten.

Review: Honestly I wasn't really impressed with this book. There were a few stories I really liked and the rest were just okay. Also, the copy I have is an ARC, so it's got a lot of mistakes, which hopefully were corrected in the final proof (the most annoying one was in the Japanese story, where Amaterasu was misspelled as Amaratsu throughout the story).
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Title: Bible Camp Bloodbath
Author: Joey Comeau
Number of Pages: 78 pages
Book Number/Goal: 42/40 for 2010
My Rating: 3/5

Jacket Summary: Bible Camp Bloodbath is a story about a boy named Martin. Martin is going to Bible Camp, and he's going to make a lot of new friends. He's excited, too, but that's probably because nobody told him what the book is called.

Review: I love A Softer World and think Joey Comeau is pretty awesome in general, so I really wanted to like this more than I did. I really love the prose, but the story was It was a decent story and kept my attention, but I just kept waiting for it to be something more, I guess. I don't quite see the point of it.
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Title: Tell-All
Author: Chuck Palahniuk
Number of Pages: 179 pages
Book Number/Goal: 37/40 for 2010
My Rating: 1/5

Jacket Summary: Soaked, nay marinated in the world of vintage Hollywood, Tell-All is a Sunset Boylevard-inflected homage to Old Hollywood when Bette Davis and Joan Crawford ruled the roost. Our Thelma Ritter-ish narrator is Hazie Coogan, who for decades has tended to the outsized needs of Katherine "Miss Kathie" Kenton--veteran of multiple marriages, career comebacks, and cosmetic surgeries. But dangers arrives with gentleman caller Webster Carlton Westward III, who worms his way into Miss Kathie's heart (and boudoir). Hazie discovers that this bounder has already written a celebrity tell-all memoir foretelling Miss Kathie's death. As the body count mounts, Hazie must execute a plan to save Katherine Kenton for her fans--and for posterity.

Review: I never did read Pygmy and I don't know that I ever will, and while I enjoyed Snuff okay, I found it really disappointing after the awesomeness of Rant, so while I grabbed this because it's a new Palahniuk book and I still consider myself a fan, I wasn't really excited about it. I...guess that's good? Because if I'd been excited, I would have been really disappointed. As it is, I'm just meh, whatever.

As for the supposed plot (you know the real plot is always not what it seems), my first thought was wasn't that a Simpson's episode? The book was not that interesting, and the twist was predictable, but what really annoyed me was the last few chapters where it's all about Hazie the ugly girl who befriends Kathie the pretty girl and blah blah blah, women! Crazy, amirite? This is definitely one to skip. Hopefully he'll get back on track and do something cool again at some point.
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Title: Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity
Author: José Esteban Muñoz
Number of Pages: 222 pages
Book Number/Goal: 34/40 for 2010
My Rating: 2/5

Jacket Summary: The LGBT agenda has for too long been dominated by pragmatic issues like same-sex marriage and gays in the military. It has been stifled by this myopic focus on the present, which is short-sighted and assimilationist. In a startling repudiation of what the LGBT movement has held dear, Muñoz contends that queerness is instead a futurity-bound phenomenon, a "not yet here" that critically engages pragmatic presentism.

Review: I picked this up off the new-books shelf at the library because the title caught my eye, but was really disappointed in it. Since he is explicitly critiquing the current LGBT movement, I had hopes that his "queer" wasn't a synonym for gay men as it (and LGBT, really) so often is. Alas, while there are a handful of lesbians here and there and an aside about a trans friend, this book is totally about gay men, mainly pre-AIDS gay male culture and art.

I could have rolled with that if the book had otherwise been interesting, but the academic language made it difficult for me to read, plus the whole thing lacked cohesion and just felt more like a collection of essays about this art/period he liked rather than something that was building towards a whole. Also, mainly he talked about what he liked about queer movements in the past, and what I had picked up the book hoping for was a critique of the current LGBT movement. But other than saying he doesn't like it, he doesn't really go into it at all.
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Title: Bent
Author: Martin Sherman
Number of Pages: 80 pages
Book Number/Goal: 33/40 for 2010
My Rating: 4/5

Jacket Summary: On December 2, 1979, Martin Sherman's controversial and deeply moving play abuot the persecution of homosexuals in Germany opened to extraordinary acclaim on Broadway. Moving from a Berlin flat in 1934 to Hitler's camps, the play stirred audiences as shock piled upon shock, revealing a little discussed horror of European history.

Review: I watched the movie years ago, and from what I can recall, it's pretty faithful to the original play. I liked the movie and I liked this script as well, though I definitely have mixed feelings about it. It's very much a "tragic dead queers" story.
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Title: Off Colour
Author: Jackie Kay
Number of Pages: 64 pages
Book Number/Goal: 22/30 for 2010
My Rating: 2/5

I love Jackie Kay's novel and short stories, so I figured I'd give her poetry a try even though I am not a fan of poetry in general. This was a bad idea! It turns out I am still not a fan, even if it's an author I really love. :( I just don't really get poetry at all. But if you like poetry, you might like it! A lot of the same themes that show up in her prose (being black, being a lesbian, being Scottish) are present here, too.

If you want my copy, just leave a comment. I can only ship within the US, though.
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Title: Tim and Pete
Author: James Robert Baker
Number of Pages: 256 pages
Book Number/Goal: 12/30 for 2010
My Rating: 5/5

A year after they broke up, Tim still isn't over his ex-boyfriend Pete. When a date goes wrong and he's left stranded in Laguna Beach with nothing but his swim trunks, sandals, and sunglasses, Tim uses that as an opportunity to look Pete up, hoping that if he can beg a ride home, maybe it will lead to something more. And it does, but not exactly in the way Tim had hoped.

I loved this so much! [personal profile] gloss recommended it to me ages ago, but my library doesn't have it and it never showed up on BookMooch, so it took me a while to finally get my hands on a copy (found someone selling it through Amazon Fulfillment, so I could get my free shipping and use my Amazon credit). I'm really glad I finally had a chance to read it, though, and I will definitely be reading more of his books.

Although this is a story about a relationship, it's not a romance and is about as far from "original slash" type gay fiction as you can get. This is about being gay in the early '90s, about the toll AIDS had taken/was taking on the gay community, about rage and despair and sometimes being able to find happiness despite all that.

It is a book about white gay guys, though, and as you would expect from that, there's quite a bit of racism, misogyny, and transphobia. The racism is the worst, if only because there are more people of color in the story than there are trans people or women.
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Title: Just So You Know #2
Author: Joey Alison Sayers
Number of Pages: 32 pages
Book Number/Goal: 10/30 for 2010
My Rating: 5/5

This is the second volume of Sayers' comics about her transition. Just as funny and touching as the first one. My only complaint is that these are so short! (But they're also only $6 each ($7 outside of the US), so, you know.)
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Title: Rainbow Boys, Rainbow High, and Rainbow Road
Author: Alex Sanchez
Number of Pages: ~250 pages each
Book Number/Goal: 6-8/30 for 2010
My Rating: 3.5/5

This trilogy focuses on three boys, Nelson, Kyle, and Jason, following them through their last year of high school and the summer after. Alex Sanchez is really not a great writer. His prose is often clunky and cliched and the characters sound more like someone's idea of how Kids Today talk rather than real kids. But his stories are still engaging and I hope he keeps churning out books about queer kids for years to come because it's really a genre that needs to be bigger.

I wish there wasn't so much casual, unchallenged misogyny and I was uncomfortable with the repeated use of the word tranny when the boys met a trans girl (I think it's entirely plausible that they would use it, but I wish there had been someone to say it's not okay) and it would be nice if there were people other than whites and latinos in his books, overall they're enjoyable. And very quick reads.
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Title: Keeping You a Secret
Author: Julie Anne Peters
Number of Pages: 250 pages
Book Number/Goal: 70/75 for 2009
My Rating: 5/5

Holland is the student body president, on the swim team, a straight-A student, and has a great boyfriend who's also one of her best friends. Everyone thinks her life is perfect. But when she falls in love with Cece, a new girl at school, that all starts to change.

I read another book by Peters earlier this year and liked it a lot, so I was hoping this would be as good and it definitely was. It felt a little less textbooky than Luna, which I think has to do with the fact that the author is writing from personal experience here, where she wasn't with Luna. There's a subplot in this with Holland's stepsister Faith, who's a goth, and that part has the same "let me show you my research" feel to it that all the transgender stuff in Luna did.

Mooch from BookMooch.
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Title: Push
Author: Sapphire
Number of Pages: 192 pages
Book Number/Goal: 65/75 for 2009
My Rating: 4.5/5

Precious is sixteen, illiterate, and pregnant with her second child by her own father. But when she gets kicked out of junior high and starts attending an alternative school, her life finally starts to turn around.

This is written in an experimental style, very stream-of-consciousness, with lots of dialect to mimic the way precious talks. Some parts are even written as if Precious had written them herself, complete with spelling errors, which gradually improve over the course of the book. I didn't find that a barrier at all, though. It was really easy to read (I zipped through it in two sittings). The last fifty pages or so of the book are essays and poems written by Precious and the other girls in her class.

Pretty much everything bad you could imagine happening has happened to Precious and it sometimes seems like overkill, but overall I really enjoyed the book. And I'm glad the ending was optimistic but realistic and not all magically wonderful.

I'm definitely interested in seeing the movie, though probably not til it's out on DVD. I was looking at the cast, though, and The teacher is described as dark with dreads, yet somehow in the movie she is really lightskinned and has wavy hair. It's like they made her as close to a Nice White Lady as possible without actually casting a white actress. D:

(This is something else I would totally have nominated for [ profile] yuletide! Damn it! I'd especially love fic about Jermaine.)
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Title: The Last Time I Wore a Dress
Author: Daphne Scholinski with Jane Meredith Adams
Number of Pages: 211 pages
Book Number/Goal: 61/75 for 2009
My Rating: 5/5

Note: The author now goes by Dylan, but I will use Daphne and female pronouns for the purposes of talking about the book, because that's how the book is written.

Daphne's father beat her. Her mother abandoned her. She was sexually abused many times as a child. She essentially had to raise herself and her sister. When she unsurprisingly acted out, instead of anyone actually caring, she was locked up in a series of mental institutions for most of her teenage years.

Because she was tomboyish, the doctors focused on that, in some cases forcing her to wear makeup every day as part of her treatment. She suffered from depression the entire time she was locked up, was raped several times by male patients, and her parents barely kept in contact with her, yet the doctors continued to focus on the fact that she didn't act like their idea of what a girl should be. She was looked on with suspicion for not having sex with the male patients, as most of the other boys and girls paired up. She was punished for having a female best friend, as they thought the relationship was inappropriate.

This book is really, really depressing to read and basically will make you hate the medical establishment. This quote from the last chapter really sums it up best:

I still wonder why I wasn't treated for my depression, why no one noticed I'd been sexually abused, why the doctors didn't seem to believe that I'd come from a home with physical violence. Why the thing they cared about the most was whether I acted the part of a feminine young lady. The shame is that the effects of depression, sexual abuse, violence: all treatable. But where I stood on the feminine/masculine scale: unchangeable. It's who I am.

Oh, and as if that wasn't bad enough, go to the Amazon reviews and you'll find that all the negative reviews are filled with victim-blaming. Fun!

The book is a really good read, though, and I highly recommend it.
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Title: Transgender History
Author: Susan Stryker
Number of Pages: 190 pages
Book Number/Goal: 59/75 for 2009
My Rating: 3.5/5

A better title for the book would be Transgender History in the US, as there's barely any acknowledgement that other countries exist, much less that there might be trans people living there. It's also really short. The last forty pages are notes and such, and the first thirty are defining terms, so only 120 pages are actually devoted to the topic at hand. But for what it is, it's a pretty good read. While focusing primarily on white trans people, it does include PoC fairly often and acknowledges their contributions (which is frankly better than I expected when I saw it was published by the now infamous Seal Press).

Oh, and one thing I really didn't like was that it was written in a sort of textbook form, with lots of insert boxes. I hate those, because you either have to stop reading in the middle of something to read them, or you have to remember to come back to them at the end of a section/chapter.
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Title: Funny Boy
Author: Shyam Selvadurai
Number of Pages: 316 pages
Book Number/Goal: 49/75 for 2009
My Rating: 5/5

When adults say Arjie is "funny", he knows they don't mean it in any way he's familiar with the word. It's not until he's fourteen and falling in love with his best friend that he realizes what they meant and why he's always felt different. Set in Sri Lanka during the '70s and '80s, the book also deals with the racial tensions at the time, as Arjie becomes more and more aware of the growing conflict the older he gets.

This is not a young adult book, but rather a book about children/teens, and while there have definitely been YA books I've enjoyed, this sort of story is really much, much more my thing. The writing is excellent and I am eager to read more by Selvadurai (I have one book here, and at least one more on my wishlist).

Mooch from BookMooch.
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Title: The God Box
Author: Alex Sanchez
Number of Pages: 248 pages
Book Number/Goal: 45/75 for 2009
My Rating: 5/5

Paul is a Christian teen who has been dating his best friend Angie since middle school, but while he loves her, he feels no attraction towards her. Every night he prays that God will make him attracted to girls and take away his feelings about guys. Then he meets Manuel, who is a Christian and gay and sees nothing contradictory about that. As Paul and Manuel become closer, he starts to question what he's been taught about the evils of homosexuality.

I won't lie. This book is as subtle as a brick and Manuel is unbelievably wise and perfect for a teenager, but I loved it to death. I don't really consider myself a Christian anymore (and I was never this sort of actively-Christian Christian myself), but this is how I grew up and Sanchez portrays the conservative Christian community perfectly. Reading this felt so familiar to me. The Christians in this book aren't parodies; they're real people, and I loved that the story wasn't about choosing between being a Christian and being gay, but about being a gay Christian.

You should also check out [profile] sanguinuity's really excellent and detailed review here.
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Title: Southland
Author: Nina Revoyr
Number of Pages: 348 pages
Book Number/Goal: 44/75 for 2009
My Rating: 5/5

When Jackie Ishida's grandfather dies, her aunt finds in his closet a box of cash from the sale of his old store, along with an old will leaving the money to someone they've never heard of. Jackie agrees to help find this guy, only to find out he died. Was murdered, in fact, along with three other boys, in her grandfather's store during the Watts riots in 1965. As she and James Lanier, a cousin of the boy, look into the murders, Jackie learns more than she expected to about her grandfather.

I really loved this book a lot. It's set in LA, but not the Hollywood LA that you usually see in books and movies (it's so rare to see a portrayal of the LA I know and love). The main character is a lesbian, but it's not The Plot, just a fact about her (what? You mean there can be stories about gay people that aren't about being gay???). She's also Japanese-American, but this isn't a story about internment camps (they are mentioned, during some flashbacks in her grandfather's POV, but it's not the point of the story, and boy is that rare).

It's also a really neat story. My one complaint is that it's really tell-y. Like, it could have been cut down by at least a third if the author had just trusted the readers instead of having so much internal exposition about what people were thinking and feeling every step of the way.
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Title: The Sophie Horowitz Story
Author: Sarah Schulman
Number of Pages: 158 pages
Book Number/Goal: 35/75 for 2009
My Rating: 3.5/5

Sophie is a reporter caught up in a story about radical feminists Germaine Covington and Laura Wolf. The more she tries to get to the bottom of things, the more she finds herself tangled up in everything.

This is Schulman's first novel and it's very obvious. It's not nearly as well-written as the other books I've read by her and the plot's a little muddled and everyone but Sophie feels more like a prop than an actual person, but I still enjoyed it quite a lot. I'm glad this wasn't the first book I read by her, though.

Mooch on BookMooch
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Title: Just So You Know #1
Author: Joey Alison Sayers
Number of Pages: 36 pages
Book Number/Goal: 34/75 for 2009
My Rating: 5/5

By the author of Thingpart. Excellent comic about the author's transition from male to female. Funny and touching and generally awesome. I just wish it were longer!


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