A Unicorn Attacks Convenience Store

There is blood mixed with cereal under the unforgiving fluorescents.

A unicorn, summoned

Or simply created,

Went rampaging through our convenience store.

No one is dead but one is severely injured.

Now we have to clean up everything before day-shift arrives.

The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu

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This might be changing it up a little bit but The Tale of Genji is an important book in Japanese literature study.

I read excerpts of it in college but this year I decided to read the whole thing. I started it in January and I finally finished it this week.

Another title for this book could be “The Life of a Philandering, Rich, Royal Dude.” It does get a little repetitive and most of the sections of this book are about Genji having issues with his wife and his courtship with other women.

There came a point where I wasn’t really reading this for the plot or characters. I enjoyed reading the culture notes, appendices, and looking at the pictures. That’s what gives this book its longevity and importance. There is a lot to be learned about Heian culture even though this is a work of fiction. Historians and literary critics both find something to value here.

If Heian period culture and history is something you are passionate about and you’ve read other books on the subject, I definitely recommend reading the fancy Penguin edition of this book. If you are interested in the Heian period but don’t know where to start I would recommend The World of the Shining Prince by Ivan Morris which talks about the cultural and historical background of The Tale of Genji and uses excerpts from the book to illustrate points. If you want to know what all the fuss is about but are intimidated by this giant book, you can probably find an anthology with excerpts and you would get the gist. You can also read excerpts from Murasaki Shikibu’s diary if that is more your style, although I will say that her personality is not my favorite. She comes off a little whiny and stuffy at times.

Thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!

Retro Reread #2: Dragon Prince by Melanie Rawn

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The concept of Retro Rereads was created by a writer at Book Riot and the idea is to pick books that you haven’t read or reread in a while and read them again to see if they are still your favorites. (I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe for January. Still one of my favorites.)

This one is also a fantasy novel that could be read on its own or part of a six book series. I read the whole series when I was twelve-ish and I was bawling uncontrollably for about an hour when I finished. So… I’ve only read the whole series once but I’ve read this first book multiple times. My copy has a cracked spine and pages falling out of it now. But I hadn’t reread it in years so I wanted to see how I felt about it (especially after reading her new Touchstone series that I didn’t like at all).

I have to admit that from the first page I felt the magic. We start out with Prince Zehava hunting a dragon with his son-in-law Chay. Very Beowulf. I had a hard time putting this book down to read my library books.

Rohan is his son. There is also Sioned, the Sunrunner. Their marriage is arranged a little by Andrade and also by fate. (“Even if it was written in stone you could still break it.”)

So there is a bit of insta-love but I love the characters so I wasn’t really bothered but I know this situation can bother other people.

Not only are the main characters strong but also the supporting cast. They feel real and human. I love reading about them even when they make some really ugly decisions. They take responsibility for them and have friends around them to knock them back on the right path again. This book celebrates the good in humanity but doesn’t ignore the bad.

Men and women fight together. Back in the day this was not a given in fantasy.

I also love this magic system that has the light of sun and moons at the center.

So I can firmly say that this is still one of my favorite books.

Warning: There is one rape depicted and multiple rapes of another character that are mentioned, not shown. The first time I read this book I had to put the book down for a day before I could continue.

Ten Count Volumes 1-3 Thoughts

***This post will contain spoilers and discussion of mature content.***

So I read the third volume on Valentine’s Day and I didn’t like it and returned it, thus this post.

The first volume was fabulous. I loved the characters right away and I really liked them as a couple. And even though it had an explicit warning on the cover there actually wasn’t any mature content. They didn’t even kiss (although there was an almost kiss, tee hee). Honestly, I was genuinely fine with this. I prefer the cuter side of yaoi. Also, I was on board for the plot and that last scene, where they shake hands and Kurose says goodbye forever and just rides away, made me cry.

The second volume was a bit more than I was prepared for (This volume did deserve the explicit warning. Their relationship goes to the sexual level rather quickly and both penises are out, although their testicles were missing.) but I was still rooting for the characters and there was still a plot I was willing to follow.

But that third volume… A whole lot of awkwardness occurred. Basically, the plot was that Shirotani kept getting overstimulated so oral sex then Shirotani gets a cold, Kurose freaks out a little (that was adorable!) but then the scene was ruined by some dominance stuff that made me uncomfortable. And it all pretty much devolved into an introduction to anal sex. Also, there was a snippet that seemed to be trying to explain why Shirotani is a germaphobe. He accidentally witnesses his father  having sex with one of his students. That would be traumatizing but I’m not sure it explains being a germaphobe. We also still haven’t gotten any background on Kurose. In summary, this volume didn’t have plot, character, or relationship development.

Basically, I was given some reasons to be cautious in volume 2 and then volume 3 convinced me this series is not for me. So I’m a little sad because volume 1 was so fabulous and had a lot of potential but now I can move on to other things.

Top Ten Tuesday: Romance?!

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the theme is romance types and tropes.

I do read romances but I need them a particular way and I can’t define it. I just know from the first page whether or not we’ll work as a couple. If I’m cringing or grimacing at the first sentence then that romance is not for me. If it makes me laugh or intrigues me then, yes, I want a second date and possibly a long-term commitment after that.

One. “I’m looking for a mind at work.”

I normally don’t reference Hamilton when blogging but this quote seems so relevant in this moment. I want to know the writer put some thought (and heart!) into what they’re writing. I’m definitely not looking for a paint by numbers or mad lib to pass the time. I want my mind and heart to engage with the material. If the author didn’t put in the effort, it shows.

Two. I like historical romance, heavy on the historical.

Three. No Jane Austen knock-offs. They can be inspired by her, I have no problem with that. (Gail Carriger is clearly inspired by Jane Austen but she decidedly has her own unique style and voice.) If a writer doesn’t have their own style it’s obvious, like a bad cover of a great song. Jane Austen knock-offs are guaranteed to make me cringe.

Four. I like romantic comedies because they’ve got comedy.

Five. I like the cuter side of yaoi. That super-explicit stuff is not my jam and bread.

Six. I really like making fun of the romantic wackiness that is Fushigi Yugi.

Seven. My favorite fantasy series have romances I actively root for.

Eight.  I tend to ignore descriptions of the leading men. In my head they look how I want them to look. (For instance, Lucivar is blonde in my head even though Anne Bishop keeps telling me he has long black hair.)

Nine. I don’t pick actors to represent the characters in the books I’m reading (but when I’m writing I will think of actors who should play my characters).

Ten. I’m not automatically turned-off by insta-love in books.

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