Oct 2019, Media Faves

Well, I finished my novel! (Huzzah!) And then I got ambitious and signed up for Voices on FIYAH. I committed to 5k for Team Other, and so far there’s intergeneration queerness, matchmaking ancestors, and ghosts out for reparations. I still have essay-ish ideas kicking around, but for November, I’m focusing on Voices on FIYAH.

In the meanwhile, my faves from October!

Books

K Arsenault Rivera’s The Warrior Moon (Their Bright Ascendency #3)

I am aware the series has racist/orientalist/problematic depictions of Asia. And yet there are moments where I’m just punched in the gut. Barsalai hits me in the feels of women who are survivors. I don’t know if what I love is part of the racism, or if it can even be separated. I might do some further writing parsing that out as a Chinese disaspora person.

Forthright’s Dragged Through Hedgerows (Songs of the Amaranthine #3)

Forthright hits me in the feels yet again. I honestly don’t know how this series reads to people who don’t have such a soft spot for intimacy but hey.

Helen Hoang’s The Bride Test (The Kiss Quotient #2)

I was ambivalent about the Kiss Quotient, but people were raving about this companion book, so with a flight ahead of me, I checked it out. It was great! Hilarious post-sex scenes, and a hilarious Mr.-Darcy-level-terrible-but-amazing proposal.

Live

Vau du Vire & Jazz Mafia’s The Soiled Dove

Although its run is completed, this was so much fun! I opted into the dinner + show tickets, and the seats I got were bomb. Front row seats to all the cool acrobatics that make you go “holy shit the human body can do that????” plus awesome music from Jazz Mafia. On a personal note, it’s always rad to see East Asian women doing dance outside of ballet.

Movies

Fast Color (dir. Julia Hart)

Reader, I cried. Really moving family drama centered around 3 generations of black women with superpowers. So good, highly recommend. (I’m surprised it got such middling reviews, but perhaps the reviewers were white men?)

Music

Doja Cat’s Rules

Aslfjdksl;jfk I’ve been listening to this on repeat, it’s amazing.

The Prince of Egypt’s When You Believe (West End Cast)

So pretty! I want to see the musical now. I especially love the soloist (Casey Al-Shaqsy) and how incandescent she is.

Sept 2019, Fave Media

Still working on finishing the novel! I’m now one (!!!!) chapter away from finishing it. I have, however, committed to reading poetry at a local event in November, so now I need to work on that. While I work on those, here are my faves from September (aka Virgo season, best season).

Books

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee (Machineries of Empire #1)

Jdksalfjda I know I’m 9999 years late to how amazeballs this series is but asdfklasjfkl;aj. I know some people really struggled with the world-building, but I didn’t, so YMMV. Personally, I really loved his conception of “calendars,” or how certain actions are capable under certain conditions. I found it a pretty tangible metaphor (not sure if that’s the right choice) for the systems we live under.

Reasons I loved it:

  • Lee’s imagination is downright devious in the best kinda way.
  • Despite how serious the topic is, there are excellent moments of levity and hilarity: machines make fanvids, footsoldiers love their soap operas, and assassin bosses love to knit.
  • Tons of LGBTQ characters
  • power play
  • I will now be signing off all my letters as yours in calendrical heresy
  • women who swallow bitterness to survive and make a better future are my weakness

Shoutout to Lee also writing fanfic of his own stuff. Special Assignment is amazing (unsurprisingly I ship Cheris/Jedao, lmao) which was prompted by sartorias no less!

In conclusion, I need this to become a TV series. Preferably with Tatiana Maslany levels of mind-blowing acting. Can you imagine the two actors who play Cheris and Jedao having to mimic each other?? (Daniel Day Kim as Jedao, k thnx pls bye).

Dance

90 Days,” Sophie & Marko, choreography by Talia Favia, SYTYCD S16

I’ve rewatched this a number of times now, and I’m disappointed it didn’t get an encore performance in SYTYCD’s season finale. There’s something so… tightly contained? Abandoned? Controlled (IDK what’s up with the vaguely harness-like costumes)? I love it.

Music

Mahalia’s I Wish I Missed my Ex

I love breakup songs. I’ve also enjoyed her songs Square 1 and the dancing in the music video for Do Not Disturb.

Steven Universe the Movie’s Happily Ever After

Pearl’s part in Happily Ever After gets me every time. “Excuse me, B-a-s-s spells bass” is the most perfectionist Virgo shit ever.

Steven Universe the Movie’s Independent Together

I lost my shit when I saw Steg. Also who doesn’t love Giant Woman Opal, or a song that’s in their range to sing? Really though, I love the message of the song.

Short Fiction

The Weight of a Thousand Needles by Isabel Canas

The prose is gorgeous, and this is the kind of fairy tale I love the most. Beautiful, painfully tender, and it taps into that old part of our brains who love the fairy tales of adventure, terror, romance, and freedom.

If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try, Again by Zen Cho

I laughed at loud while reading Cho’s The True Queen, and I did with this novelette too. Had people told me this story involved the imugi falling in love with a female physicist, I would’ve read this 1000% faster. Also, the fact that the Way the imugi is studying is Physics is amazing.

If you enjoy it, don’t forget to check out the short sequel Cho wrote as well. I died at the JSTOR reference.

The Hundredth House Had No Doors by Laurie Penny

This hooked me from the get-go with its language. But the witty narrator is what really sold me, especially the line from the right hand woman “you gave me no name, of cours eyou’re going about this wrong.”

Aug 2019, Fave Media

As some of you know, I’ve been writing an urban fantasy/romance novel since October 2018. I’m 3 chapters away from finishing it, so I’m trying to focus on that these days. Then I can say I’ve finished a novel-length work!

Until then, here’re my faves from August.

Books

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
ajfdkl;asjfklasjdflasjfdk READ THIS. An enchanting fairy tale that pulled at all my heart strings. What really got me is how Casiopea comes into herself, slowly realizing she wants so much more for herself and her life.

Sapphire Flames (Hidden Legacy #4) by Ilona Andrews
The wife & husband writing team of Ilona Andrews is an insta-read for me. I was ecstatic when my I got to skip the (very long) wait line with the LA public library and read it on vacation! Hilarious, memorable characters, and a determined heroine? Yes please! Also, the IG prettyboy assassin-with-a-heart-of-gold Alessandro can be my future husband.

(Note, while this is technically book 4 in the series, it’s the beginning of a new trilogy. I think it stands alone just fine without having read the previous trilogy, which centers on the heroine’s older sister.)

Podcast

Our Opinions are Correct by Charlie Jane Anders and Annalee Newitz

After hearing about this from its Hugo win, I’ve been binge listening to it. It’s super fun to listen to, mixing science, speculative fiction, and interviews with experts in their respective fields. Plus they’re based in the Bay. I think this’ll also appeal to folks who like the Brown sister’s How to Survive the End of the World. Transcriptions are available. Patreon here.

Short Stories

A Dead Djinn in Cairo by P. Djèlí Clark

Free short story involving a dapper Egyptian lady who wears English suits because they’re exotic. Plus her lady love interest. Swoon! I am SO READY for the novel-length follow up.

July 2019, Fave Media

Usually I have a good idea what I want my non-media roundup posts to be. This time I’m not sure what idea is ready to be given focus (body image? intimacy? salty poetry?). So, I’ll just let my ideas marinate until one of them is ready.

Until then, here’re my faves from July!

Books

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine (Teixcalaan #1)

jadl;fjasl;fdja;l s this book is AMAZING. I knew it’d gotten a lot of buzz and good reviews, but honestly the back of the book and the cover made this book unappealing to me. I can’t remember whose review swayed me to take a chance, but hooo girl am I glad I did. It might’ve been a review that mentioned Mahit has a Trill-like memory of her preceding ambassador (who died under mysterious circumstances) … one that is a decade out of date.

POC, queer people, political intrigue! Intricate world-building from architecture to poetry drawing from both the Byzantine and Aztec empire.

Will absolutely be checking out Martine’s future books and cannot wait for the second book in this series.

Tamiko and the Two Janitors by Forthright. (The Amarathine Saga #3)
My love for this series parallels my love of Nalini Singh’s Psy Changeling series. This series is an insta-buy for me, as well as a big comfort read. I’m not sure what genre this series is though. It’s not a romance, if anything the deeply queerplatonic intimacy between chosen family is more emphasized. And I am here for it.

Game

NixHydra’s The Arcana (Asra route)
MicheleCDraws mentioned this game on her IG, and I wound up playing it (for free; the paid content doesn’t effect the ending you get). I really enjoyed woo-ing my NB POC wizard boyfriend. Plot’s intriguing (you have to play multiple routes to get the full picture), and I like that you had to overcome Asra’s character flaw (how much he cares about you) to receive the happy ending.

Movies

The Farewell dir. Lulu Wang
Or, more specifically, seeing this in Oakland. There’s something about seeing a film in a packed theater, and with people who laugh when you do. Who get it.

Music

Reliably Bad’s If You Feel (The Way I Do)

Erez Zobary’s Before I Knew You

Masego’s Tiny Desk concert

Ashley Jayy & Tank’s Big Ol’ Freak (Megan Thee Stallion cover)

consent in everyday life: family, culture, & in/sincere yes/nos

When articles about enthusiastic consent began flooding my FB feed years ago, I eagerly waited for someone to address it from a Chinese-American perspective (or any POC cultural perspective really).  Finally, I thought, someone will write something that speaks to my life. 

I knew there was something to be said about saying yes and no when you (didn’t) meant it, the strange rules I’d learned from my mother, and being Chinese-American.  I didn’t want to have to sketch out my messy thoughts.   But I never found an article about consent and race, so I did my best here.

Nora Samaran uses her blog to explore “partly formed ideas,” so I’m reminding myself it’s okay to do the same.  It’s okay to post a piece that doesn’t have a clear point/goal in mind. That said, if you have suggestions for a better title, let me know!


I miss my best friend’s wedding because of social nicety.  She asks me once, twice, three times.  If I was really living the fairy tale life, the third time I would’ve said yes.  Instead I say no, times four and five as well.

I tell my mother about it, and she agrees I did the right thing.

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June 2019, Fave Media

Articles

Leena Trivedi-Grenier’s The novice farmer whose search for his roots led to an organic farm in West Marin

“It was also Leach’s participation in a Korean community group that inspired Chang-Fleeman to join the group Chinese Medicine and Magic, which explores the connections of Chinese medicine, plants and nature. In April, before he had planted anything, the group came to the farm for a Qingming celebration, where they honored their ancestors by burning joss paper and incense, offering food and spirits and building an altar.

“My dream is for the farm to evolve into a physical space for Chinese Americans to gather around food and talk about identity,” he says.

Books

Tell Me Who You Are eds. Winona Guo and Priya Vulchi
While not a book I will be re-reading, I do think this is a great entry point for people wanting to learn more about race in America. Extremely approachable, beautiful to look at, and I love its interviewee photos and fun facts. Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want to Talk About Race makes a great follow-up.

Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond #1)
Laugh out loud funny for both kids and adults. The demon women stole the show with amazing one-liners lamenting their sons’ patriarchal tendencies and how ungrateful children give them indigestion. An awesome mix of Indian mythology, magic, and physics.

Music

Raveena’s Stronger music video

Vendulka’s Karma Chameleon cover

Kacey Musgrave’s Tearin Up My Heart cover (via Food 4 Thot)

Halsey’s Sucker cover

Podcasts

Tejal and Jesal’s Yoga is Dead. I’ve been thinking about Yoga Teacher Training, plus I’ve been looking for a yoga resource that was conscious of race and social justice. This podcast is exactly what I’ve been looking for. Even if podcasts aren’t your thing, their curated resources are worth a look. Transcripts also available.

Narratively’s Believable, ep 1 “Proof of a Forgotten Life.” Along with Regina Louise’s original article that inspired it, “I Was Adopted—When I was 41.” Heartbreaking, but also hits all my mother-feels.

hungry (for your touch)

“Oh my love, my darling,
I’ve hungered for your touch,
a long, lonely time.”

–A. North & H. Zyat’s Unchained Melody

Wendy’s presence was larger than life. One of my favorite Aunt’s friends, her laughter filled the room, her smile buoyant. I still haven’t met a woman as charismatic and magnetic before, that I couldn’t help but draw close to. Towards the end of the night, we were on the couch together, and she took my hand in hers. Asked me to massage her hand.

“Isn’t touch so wonderful?” she asked me, watching the rest of the party continue.

I could only blink at her, dazzled, and kept pressing my thumbs into her palm.

I couldn’t have been more than ten. How had she seen the hunger in me so quickly, before I even knew the depth of it?

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