Thursday, October 13, 2016

The One He Wants

book cover
I just finished reading a gay werewolf romance. The book is The One He Wants, and the author is Hollis Shiloh.

The book starts out with Kase making his way in the world alone (in the human world, no less, without a pack). This is after his father sent him away from their pack and clan (individual packs can come together to make a clan) when Kase explained that not only is he gay, but he also will never take a female mate. It's not that his father has anything against gay wolves in general, but it's different when it's his oldest son.

After striking out on his own Kase is found by a new alpha who wants Kase to join his pack, but Kase is rather uncertain about the offer because this pack makes their living off of shady business deals, like running an underground boxing thing and "dog fighting" (of course, the "dogs" are werewolves), and maybe some moonshine. Kase isn't so sure that he wants to join up, but it's complicated by the fact that this new alpha has a gay son of his own, Jody, who Kase has taken a liking to.

The two quickly become mates, which is insane because of how quickly it happens, but I also like it because then the book isn't only about "boy meets boy, boy wants boy, can boy get boy?" It's about the two of them starting their lives together, and how that weaves with the lives of the people around them. Plus, Kase does question whether it's good for a couple to become mates so quickly even though it's the usual way of things for werewolves.

"You can't know it's your mate after just one day. You can't. Certainly some people did, but Kase didn't trust falling into the abyss of such longing and emotion. What if Jody was a fickle thing who didn't want him for long? Or what if Kase proved incapable of giving his heart -- if he had one -- to anyone, and just made Jody miserable? He didn't think he could bear either option, and really, weren't they both more likely than the one he and Jody clearly both wished for -- lifetime mates, devoted and precious to one another?"

I really enjoyed reading the book, and it's one I may revisit at some point. One thing that quickly grabbed me is how Kase thinks so much, some might say too much. I guess I relate. Despite that, he sometimes overlooks important things that Jody has to call him on. Plus, dynamics between the characters are great. You have Jody's parents, his sister who's just a little younger than him, and then the younger kids. You've got relatives. And then Kase's brother shows up and wants to hang around. And then things finally start to really get interesting.

The thing that seemed off about the book was that the writing seemed to change towards the end of the book. It was almost like the author was in a rush to wrap things up, so she didn't flesh out new characters that she introduced, which is kinda sad. Also, a jolting change is that while we certainly knew when sex was happening for much of the book, it was only at the end that the author started writing it out. And while you're probably not going to hear me complaining about sex in a romance novel, the sudden change didn't make sense to me.

Overall it's a good read, and one I liked. If you like werewolves and gay romance, you might like this.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Animorphs: The Visitor

I used to be absolutely obsessed with the Animorphs series. It's all about five kids (plus one friendly alien who quickly joins them) who have to fight off an alien invasion...while still keeping their grades up in school.

The alien invasion takes the form of the Yeerks, who as parasites crawl in through their host's ear, and takes control by wrapping themselves around someone's brain. The host can fight back some, but not for very long. The Yeerks have already taken over the Hork-Bajir and Taxxon races, and have now moved on to humans. For some reason they're being really slow to enslave us...maybe the reason for that is explained in one of the books, but since I'm unable to remember it seems a bit odd that they don't just take us in one fell swoop. Then again, if they did, there wouldn't be much of a story.

Andalites are the enemy of the Yeerks, and they are doing everything they can to prevent more races succumbing to these lovely parasites. Unfortunately the ships they sent to protect earth were wiped out, but not before one Andalite warrior presented five teenagers with the means to strike back against the Yeerks.

Enter: Elfangor and the teenagers.

Elfangor crash landed in an abandoned construction site that the five teens in question were taking a shortcut through. (Moral of the story, don't take short cuts through abandoned construction sites.) He told them the situation, and using Andalite technology gave them the ability to turn themselves into animals (hence, Animorphs...animal morph, morphing into animals) before he died.

So, back to this particular book. To lay out the plot briefly...

The Visitor is the second book in the series, and in the first the teens had discovered that he vice principle of their school was being controlled by one of the parasitic Yeerks. As though he wasn't scary enough already. In this one one of the teens morphs into the cat who belongs to the vice principle's daughter in an attempt to gather information. Various challenges arise along the way, including the question of how to act enough like a cat that the Yeerk enslaving the vice principle doesn't get suspicious.

And now, because the description of what it's like to become a cat is just too awesome...

"You know those old cowboy movies with Clint Eastwood? He's a gunslinger and he walks into the saloon and everyone kind of gets out of his way? And how he's not really looking for trouble, but you'd better not make him mad? That's what it's like. It's like I'm Clint Eastwood" (82).

Given my previous obsession with the series, I still have a fondness for them, and find myself wishing that I hadn't donated all of them (except this one that I kept) to the library years ago. As in my favorite books, one of the best thing is the characters. They're lovable and believable. They have their strengths and weaknesses, flaws and characteristics that make them shine. The only thing I could complain about in revisiting this book was that it started off with a lot of telling instead of showing when it came to introducing the characters, but once it got past that I thoroughly enjoyed everything.

I recommend the books if you want scifi that's geared towards teens or kids, or just a quick read.

Oh, and...I've also been talking about books on YouTube. Here's the video where I talk about this one. :)

Monday, March 14, 2016

Distractible Rose

book cover
This morning I picked up an old favorite of mine, Rose by Jeff Smith. I've written about it before, and have noted how distractible princess Rose is. In this reading I noticed how that tendency can lead to her missing the forest for the trees, so to speak.

SPOILERS

While at Old Man's Cave the Headmaster explains to Rose and Briar that "When you stand on the shore, all you see is the riverbank...but from the height of a sparrow, you can see the course of the entire river" (28). Soon enough he is revealed to be speaking more than literally when Rose finds a sparrow in one of her dreams. She intends to focus on it, so that she can learn to control her dream, but gets distracted by a small stream that she wants to admire. This stream is revealed to be the dreaming, as explained by the dragon she rescues from it: "Do you know what river this is? It is the dreaming itself!" (34)

Rose literally walks away from the sparrow who would allow her to see the entire dream, to look at just a small part of the dream.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Wizard of Earthsea

I just finished rereading A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin recently, and I wanted to talk about it a bit.

What it's about, briefly: A boy named Ged learns the ways of life and magic, and in addition to learning how to use magic he also learns when and whether he should use magic.

The slightly longer version...

A village boy has an unusual gift for magic, and his skills become particularly apparent when he saved the people of his village from raiders by confounding them with weather magic. A wise old man takes Ged under his wing to teach him, but ultimately Ged chooses to learn the art of magic at the wizarding school on Roke. It's there that, through anger and pride, he looses a shadow that would destroy him and others. But more on that shadow in a bit.

There are a few things I really love about this book, just one of which is that it's the beginning of Ged's story (the rest of which are told in the other Earthsea books). And of course, there are the dragons. That's typically enough to keep me happy.

I'm also fascinated by how the book portrays magic and discusses the balance of the world. In my latest reading it seems reminiscent of Star Wars, though I'm not sure if I could explain it at this point in time. (FYI this book predates Star Wars. I checked.) The following paragraph is a brief summary of the nature of magic and the world.

"All power is one in source and end, I think. Years and distances, stars and candles, water and wind and wizardry, the craft in a man's hand and the wisdom in a tree's root: they all arise together. My name, and yours, and the true name of the sun, or a spring of water, or an unborn child, all are syllables of the great word that is very slowly spoken by the shining of the stars. There is no other power. No other name" (164).

SPOILERS

Yep, on to spoilers time now. Brief note: with a true name you can control a person or thing. Everyone and everything has a true name, but people keep theirs hidden.

What really fascinates me is that the shadow Ged looses is ultimately himself. But of course, it takes him a while to learn this. He loses his anger and pride when it arrives, which were the reasons it arrived in the first place, and they are replaced by self doubt and meekness. That is, until he realizes the danger he and others are in if the shadow catches him. At that point I don't know if he searches for ways to fight it more for his own sake or others, but even if he is meek in some cases he certainly has no trouble facing danger when and where necessary.

Ged finally realizes that the shadow is a part of himself and in their final confrontation speaks his own name, which is also the shadow's name. And so, far from trying to destroy the shadow as he had intended when he first set out, he has embraced it as part of himself. It seems to me that it's at this point that Ged truly comes into his own.

book cover

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