A Few of My Favorite (Gay) Things

1. Lover At Last by J.R. Ward

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Ward has tackled a lot of difficult subjects in her Black Dagger Brotherhood Series. Her newest novel (released today) has our favorite almost-never-kind-sorta warrior couple Blay and Qhuinn finally getting their shit together. This couple isn’t just important as two gay men, they’re important as two gay military men.

2. The Miseducation of Cameron Post by emily danforth

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Cameron is relieved when her parents are killed in a car accident because they’ll never know the horrible truth: their daughter likes girls. When Cameron’s secret is discovered, she’s sent to a camp that promises to “fix what’s wrong with her.” Of course there’s nothing wrong with Cameron at all, but ironically enough, it takes that very same camp to show her that.

3. Fun Home by Allison Bechdel

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We all want to think our parents would be totally fine with our choice of whom to love. In Fun Home we follow a girl who’s father didn’t accept his daughter’s choices and the consequences of losing that relationship.

4. John Barrowman/Captain Jack Harkness

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He’s sexy and suave, he wears a uniform and his name a pickup line. Enough said. Also this:

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5. This video of Amanda Palmer and Margaret Cho

Amanda Palmer Kissed a Girl

 

The Scorch Trials/The Death Cure by James Dashner

I finished The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure pretty quickly after wrapping up The Maze Runner. The Scorch Trials I was done with immediately but I ho-hummed through The Death Cure (mostly because I got sucked in by another book to be reported on momentarily.)

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The Scorch Trials picks up right where The Maze Runner left off, aside from the few preview chapters. And it should be said, if not for the previews, I may not have read the second novel. I was happy enough with the conclusion of the first novel, but I am glad I read the second. Things just get worse for Thomas and his friends. We find out that WICKED doesn’t even seem to know what WICKED is up to. There are multiple mazes, the scope of which is mind-boggling. Just when Thomas thinks he can breathe a little bit, he has to walk 100 miles through Crank-infested lands. His girlfriend “betrays” him (I’m still not sure what was going on there.) This book left a lot of questions that I don’t know that I got answers for. What was the green smoke that Teresa trapped Thomas with? Is Brenda really on his side? Why is she so touchy with him? Why is everyone so surprised that Thomas is reacting to things in this way, I mean, they took his memories….

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Anyway, I practically had to read The Death Cure which still left me with just questions! I get that Thomas was infected with the Flare but immune to it, as were a handful of others. What I didn’t get is how the blueprint worked. I’m good at suspending reality, it’s science fiction after all, but the brain thing threw  me. Did his brain physically produce something that worked as a cure? Did they make some sort of implant that would correct the Flare? Why would they have had to remove his brain to study it? What made Thomas so special?

My theory is that Thomas died at some point. It could have been in the Maze but I think it happened as they were taking Thomas to surgery. He’s already drugged and we know he goes unconscious for a while, and I don’t think he ever wakes up. In my opinion, Thomas invents a story for himself where he escapes and manages to find all of his friends (located a little too conveniently close), gets revenge on Rat Man, kills off Teresa, and escapes into Paradise (no really, it’s called that in the book) with Brenda, Minho and the others. It was all coping.

This, in turn, reminded me of the Buffy episode where she’s poisoned and flips between reality and the asylum and we’re left not knowing which is actually which. Of course, this made me look back at the whole Maze Runner  series making me think…maybe they were in Thomas’s brain the whole time. Maybe he never physically did any of it. We know WICKED is capable of anything (Flat-Trans, liquid-metal-decapitators) it’s not too shocking to think they put Thomas in some sort of coma and mapped out his brain’s reaction that way. They finally got their blueprint and were able to let Thomas die, so he invented a Paradise for himself and his friends.

If that was Dashner’s goal…that is absolutely brilliant.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

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I rarely finish a book and think, “Man, I wish I would have written this.” There’s always something I would have done a little differently, conversations I would have extended or cut out completely.

But holy hell I wish I had written this book!

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a Romeo and Juliet meets Underworld meets…I don’t even know. For such a recycled story, Taylor tells a stunningly unique novel that hooked me from the beginning. The protagonist, Karou, grew up in a chimera’s lair and now runs errands for said chimera. She’s becoming disillusioned, wanting to know more about this “other” world but being firmly shut out.

Where The Maze Runner drew me in with being as confused as the protagonist, Karou is the opposite. She seems (at the beginning) aware of her other world and the reader is introduced to it slowly. But when Karou’s link to that world is cut off, she’s thrown into a spiral of uncertainty, not knowing who she can trust.

The writing is stunning. I felt like I was walking the streets of Prague (and Paris, and Marrakesh) and it’s smattered with little colorful details that bring the setting to life. The characters are just as intriguing, proving that devils are not always bad, nor angels always good.

Read it! Read it now!!!!!! And then dye your hair blue.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

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I usually try to go into a book with an open mind. If it’s an author I’m familiar with or a novel that’s gotten a lot of attention my expectations are always a little skewed. It took me forever to read The Hunger Games because everyone was raving about them (with good reason, of course).

I hadn’t heard anything about The Maze Runner before picking it up a week ago. I liked the cover and I’d scanned the last few pages at work one day and decided it was worth a read. Luckily, I loved it!

It’s a fast-paced Lord of the Flies meets Jason Bourne. Our protagonist, Thomas, arrives with no memory, into a group of boys who have done their best to survive in a giant maze they don’t understand. They’ve created a society, choosing leaders and assigning jobs, and aside from a few barbaric moments (far less than Lord of the Flies, at least) have retained their civilization.

My favorite thing about this novel is that the reader is just as lost as Thomas. We learn along with him and find ourselves frustrated when other characters won’t answer his questions. Dashner’s strength is his grasp of mystery, giving the reader just enough to keep them reading.

The writing isn’t anything fancy. Dashner is descriptive enough to give us a sense of setting and we’re aware of Tom’s feelings of fear and uncertainty, but we never get sidetracked from the actual story. I did have to Google some things to see what artists were putting out there. For example, I had no idea what a Griever was supposed to look like. If they make this into a film, it’ll be interesting how they chose to portray them.

I was halfway through the book last night and had to go out this afternoon to pick up the sequel, The Scorch Trials, before I finished. I hate to be left hanging.