• manga,  Uncategorized

    MANGA: Until I Meet My Husband

    Until I Meet My Husband – Nanasake Ryousuke & Tsukizuki Yoshi

    Based on a famous essay by a Japanese gay activist, this manga tells the story of his life leading from his childhood up to his marriage to his husband.

    Until I Meet My Husband is not your usual BL manga. It is an autobiographical story of a Japanese gay activist, Nanasake Ryousuke, based on his book of the same name. It chronicles his daily struggles, first, as a closeted child, later, as an openly gay man in a conservative society that views LGBT people negatively.

    This is quite an angsty manga with lots of internal conflict brought about by the way people tend to be cruel to someone who does not conform to typical gender roles. Right from the start Nanasake knew he was different. He was called names because as child, he already exhibited feminine behavior.

    There are a lot of painful memories, a lot of unrequited love for oblivious childhood friends and a lot of self-loathing. The pain jumped off the panels. The scene where he came out to his female friends for the first time had such a huge impact. You can really feel this big whoosh of cathartic feelings sweeping through. His friends were awesome in their empathy and support.

    The story somehow felt lighter after that coming out, although still not without his fair share of dating woes and bad boyfriends. Nanasake looked back at all of these with a positive mindset and even thanked them for the love and happy memories.

    He finally met his husband in one of his usual online hookups. It was probably fate because his name is also Ryousuke but spelled in different kanji characters. You can tell this guy was different because he was serious about pursuing a relationship with marriage in mind. He proposed during the Pride Parade. It took a lot of tries before they got the approval of the government but Nanasake and Ryousuke became the first gay couple to marry in Japan.

    The manga has a more mature vibe than the typical BL. It tackled heavy topics but it does gloss over some details that were in the book. Most BL manga are heavily romanticized and unrealistic. So I recommend this to everyone who’s interested in a true to life story of a gay man in Japan.

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  • book,  Uncategorized

    SERIES REVIEW: Bad Behavior Books 5 & 5.5 by L.A. Witt & Cari Z

    Note: another long post so you can skip to the end for the tl:dr version if you want. looks like this is turning out to be a series review month

    Bad Behavior was one of the best series I’ve read back in 2018. This gritty, partners to lovers, police procedural cemented L.A. Witt and Cari Z‘s status as one of the best writing duos for me. Just when I thought Andreas and Darren’s story was over, we get another awesome installment and a floofy floof short story.

    This is a review of Books 5 and 5.5.

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    Bad Behavior: Protective Behavior – L.A. Witt & Cari Z

    Detective Mark Thibedeau is perfectly happy doing his job in Internal Affairs and going home to his cat. Still, when his assistant wants to set him up on a blind date, he can’t help but be intrigued.

    Dr. Ryan Campbell loves the frenetic pace of working in an emergency department. He likes his life and doesn’t need anyone. But that guy his colleague wants him to meet does sound pretty interesting.

    It’s instant chemistry when they meet—and instant chaos.

    That chaos isn’t just phone calls interrupting dates. When a patient comes into the ED rapidly bleeding out from a gunshot wound, Ryan suddenly finds himself in possession of evidence that could very well put two white cops in jail for killing an innocent black man in cold blood.

    Not sure what else to do, Ryan takes the evidence to the only cop he can trust—Mark.

    Now Mark is investigating a delicate case, and Ryan is a material witness, and putting their fledgling relationship on hold is the least of their problems. Dirty cops stalk Ryan and his colleagues. Higher-ups question Mark’s investigative integrity at every turn. Worse, he’s tugging at threads of a citywide systemic problem of cops getting away with racially motivated murder.

    And there are cops with blood on their hands who will gladly kill to keep that system running.

    CW: Racially motivated violence, white-cop-on-black civilian violence

    This book is #5 in the Bad Behavior series, but can be read as a standalone.

    I read in L.A. Witt‘s post somewhere that Protective Behavior began as series narrator Michael Ferraiuolo‘s suggestion. This book was a pleasant surprise. It’s a story I didn’t realize I wanted because I didn’t really pay that much attention to IA Detective Mark Thibedeau. After learning of its existence, I was like, oh yeah, about time we have a book about Internal Affairs cops.

    We first met Mark in Book 1, Risky Behavior, as the IA detective who thought Andreas was a dirty cop. He and Andreas were both grumpy assholes who butt heads all the time. Andreas’ daughter Erin later worked as Mark’s assistant. She wrangled him into a blind date with a doctor friend, Ryan.

    Mark and Ryan are two very busy men who had no lives outside work. They immediately hit it off but barely got around to their second date, let alone some smexy times, due to ongoing investigations and medical emergencies. They tried. Boy, they really tried but the call of duty always had impeccable bad timing.

    I felt their initial meeting was, deliberately, a conventional blind date, perhaps as a reminder that they were really just ordinary people cockblocked by extraordinary circumstances.

    Some time after they began dating, Mark found himself investigating a suspected murder of a black man by white cops. The more Mark uncovers, the more he realized this could very well be a systemic problem.

    The case was brought to his attention by Ryan. The doctor was the one who attended the victim. The man handed him a recording of the incident as he lay dying . This makes Ryan a witness and thus off limits for any romantic endeavors. It also made him a target of the psycho cops who were looking to get rid of evidence.

    I might have initially overlooked him before but the authors did a good job making Mark a likable character here. He’s not a flash and bang guy. He’s more of a solid, dependable, dogged determination gets the job done kind of guy. He goes home to a spoiled cat. A dead giveaway that this hardened detective is really a softie.

    Ryan’s more of the same, albeit more playful and flirty. Right away, they understood the kind of high stress, demanding job the other man had. They made their relationship work despite those hurdles. I liked that they were kind of low-key compared to the flashier Andreas and Darren because it feels right to their story. I also appreciated that they were both in their 40s and this is not an age-gap romance.

    The story is first and foremost, a police procedural. I really enjoyed this because it’s my first time to read a book that focuses on Internal Affairs. IA investigations are trickier than normal cases. Cops don’t snitch on other cops. Especially their partners.

    The plot was well-written. It was easy to follow but still giving plenty of twists and turns that kept me at the edge of my seat. Any police procedural aficionado would love all the nitty gritty investigative stuff.

    This is a very timely book that reflects real life events, specifically racism and Black Lives Matter. These issues were handled well. I read one review that says the story tries too hard to make a point. I did find some parts repetitive but not preachy.. All in all, gripping and relevant .

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bit

    Soundtrack: Matter
    Artist: For King & Country
    Album: Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong.

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    Bad Behavior: Cuddly Behavior – L.A. Witt & Cari Z

    Detective Andreas Ruffner is less than thrilled when his husband and partner, Detective Darren Corliss, announces they’ll be cat-sitting for a couple of weeks. He’s even less pleased when he realizes the cat in question is a large grumpy thing with razor-sharp claws and no regard for personal space.

    When Darren deploys the puppy dog eyes, though, Andreas is powerless to say no, so they’re on kitty detail… and despite his best efforts, Andreas is a sucker for the critter shedding all over his apartment and stealing his husband’s affection.

    It’s only for two weeks. Plenty of time for the cat to get on his nerves, but not nearly enough for her to trick him into falling in love with her. Right?

    This 15,000 word short story is Bad Behavior book 6, and is best read after Protective Behavior. 

    So I mentioned above that Mark goes home to his cat. The cat is Harley, a giant hairy ball of fluff with no regard for personal space. She jumped on an injured Mark and opened his stitches. So she was sent to live with Andreas and Darren for a couple of weeks while Mark recovers.

    This short story is full of adorable cat antics and besotted humans. It is a demonstration of how cats can win over even the most anti-cat person. Witness grizzled detective Andreas being trained by the cunning Harley to become her personal seat cushion, much to the delight of his husband, Darren. Photographic evidence was promptly obtained for posterity.

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bit

    Soundtrack: Cuddles
    Artist: The Tired Flames
    Album: Cuddles

    Michael Ferraiuolo was right on the money when he suggested Mark’s book. Protective Behavior certainly added another dimension to the series by giving us a peek at the inner workings of the Internal Affairs Department. It is a solid police procedural tackling real life issues with a gentle, low-steam romance that goes perfectly well with the story’s vibe. Cuddly Behavior is the squishy cherry on top, a veritable catnip to all cat lovers.

    Protective Behavior can be read as a standalone but why stop at one? Experience all the different ways to misbehave in the first four Bad Behavior books: Risky Behavior, Suspicious Behavior, Reckless Behavior and Romatic Behavior.

    If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to buy your copy of Protective Behavior and Cuddly Behavior. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.

    Protective Behavior: US | UK
    Cuddly Behavior: US | UK

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    Protective Behavior

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  • song,  Uncategorized

    Soundtrack: Matter by For King & Country & Cuddles by The Tired Flame

    Soundtrack to Bad Behavior: Protective Behavior by L.A. Witt & Cari Z

    The entire song resonates strongly with book. The lines “You felt the pain of a bitter defeat / Where the weight of the grief is more bitter than sweet / It matters, I’m telling you it matters” reminds me of the scene where Mark visited the grieving family, looked the mother in the eye and promised to give her murdered son justice.

    Soundtrack to Bad Behavior: Cuddly Behavior by L.A. Witt & Cari Z

    Cuddly nonsense for the cats who rule our lives.

  • quote,  Uncategorized

    All of the dreams that haven’t come true
    And all of the hurt that happened to you
    It matters, I hope you know it matters

    You felt the pain of a bitter defeat
    Where the weight of the grief is more bitter than sweet
    It matters, I’m telling you it matters

    To the one who spoke and set the sun ablaze
    To the one who stopped the storm and walked the waves
    To the one who took the tree so He could say
    You matter, I hope you know you matter

    I know it’s not easy, not saying it’s fair
    But close as a prayer somebody cares
    You’re a treasure, I hope you know you’re treasured

    So hold your head high, wait for the dawn
    Keep hanging on, your sadness will turn into laughter
    Watch it turn into laughter, yeah

    You matter, heaven knows you matter

    Let the water spill from your eyes
    Let it wash the wounds of those lies
    Oh, let the water spill from your eyes
    All that you are, all that you’ll be
    Someone put the beat in your heart so that you’ll see
    You matter

    You matter, heaven knows you matter
    You matter, I hope you know you matter
    You matter, heaven knows you matter