March 2020, fave media

So… I started sheltering-in-place this month, so I’ve been reading a ton because of the free time and because it’s a go-to when I’m stressed. If you need good books, please consider purchasing them from your local indie bookstore, or using your library card to access ebooks. I have multiple library cards, and I’ve been using them a ton for their ebooks.

Reading in the sunlight has been an unexpected joy, and the tight neck from reading so much an unexpected pain, lol. Other unexpected pleasures have been revisiting some old faves that you’ll see below!


The Queen’s Bargain by Anne Bishop (Black Jewels #10)

I haven’t dipped my toes in this universe in probably 10 years. I had some apprehension because of Spoilers, but man oh man am I glad I picked this up. In all the stress of shelter-in-place it was such an immense joy to revisit this world and its characters. There’s never been another fantasy world quite like it.

The Chaos Curse by Sayantani DasGupta (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond #3)

I stand by my previous reviews. Smart, funny, feminist. A fun blend of pop culture, myth, and a physics-based magic system.

When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey

Okay, I’m recommending this just because I see so much of my experience in a women’s college here. Down to the parts that seemed ripped straight (har har) from my life.

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first times, false starts

This was supposed to be a lulzy recounting of my first time having sex, but then the examination of my sexuality took a turn elsewhere.

Word count: ~2,600.


“And if they feared the power, would they try to cut her off from it by breaking her? A Virgin Night performed with malevolent skill could strip her of her power while leaving the rest intact.”

– Anne Bishop, Daughter of the Blood

It’s been years since I read Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels books, but here’s how I remember it going down: a witch’s first time having sex is a make or break experience. Men looking to destroy a witch’s power rape her. For the others, sex is a rite of passage to be navigated with a safe (cis male) partner to ensure her power continues growing.

There’re problematic parts of this of course. The absence of pleasure, the cis hetero normative narrative, sex as a universal, the absolutism of it. But I do think there’s some truth to it. Our first times matter in the same way first impressions do. Have a shitty first time, and it’s harder to recover from than an underwhelming one.

It’s a rite of passage to be born, not done in pleasure. And isn’t that what sex is right now anyway?

Which is why I’m glad I chose the circumstances of my sexual first time by placing an ad on Craigslist*.

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Feb 2020, Fave Media

When I released the expectation of writing a non-fiction blog post a month, one flew right out of me for February. So I spent the back half of February just letting myself write slowly on whatever struck my fancy. Honorable reading mention to Stephanie Garber’s Caraval.


Fed Up by Gemma Hartley

Hartley got this book after her article on Harper’s Bazaar went viral. I read the book because I struggled immensely with the article (for personal reason). I was very surprised at how much I loved the book, and was even more surprised when it took a Brené Brown-like turn into perfectionism.

The Assassin’s Curse & The Pirate’s Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke

These books were damn fun and a breeze to read. I love Annanna’s voice as our 1st person narrator, that she’s a pirate, and she bucks her arranged marriage. Also love the manticore who just wants to be groomed and eat manflesh. XD Also, magic/psychic bonds. Also also, kudos to the author for that ending, which would usually drive me to fanfic, but instead made me sigh wistfully.

Note: both books were subsequently republished in one volume as Magic of Blood and Sea.

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Jan 2020, Fave Media

Like many people, I started the new year off with the cold that went around. I did however, get to binge watch 3 seasons worth of Killjoys. Which gets an honorable mention for the utterly hilarious and amazeballs villain/villain lesbian romance that begins in S3.


K. Eason’s How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse (Thorne Chronicles #1)

While I wouldn’t describe it as Princess Leia-like as others have, it’s a fun (and funny thanks to the narrator) space fairy tale. I will be picking up the next book whenever it comes out! I hope it follows the same characters.

ed. Angie Manfredi’s The (Other) F Word

Beautifully laid out, and a broad range of voices, races, and genders reflecting on fatness.

Nahoko Uehashi’s Beast Player (Beast Player #1)

Think early Robin McKinley and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. __ just wants to learn more about the animals in her world (and love them!). But when she hand-rears a rare animal, others wants to co-opt her skill for political gain. This isn’t an adventure novel, but a quiet novel about a young girl growing up and just loving animals. That quietness reminds me of McKinley’s early fairy tales novels. Note: This book ends on a minor cliffhanger. While the Beast Player duology has been out in Japan for awhile, the next book will not be translated into English until 2021!


Just Liv ft. Budda Foster’s Big Time

Jordan Rakei’s Mind’s Eye (Live at NPR’s Tiny Desk)

Vienna Teng’s Mercy Street (Peter Gabriel cover)

I don’t like Peter Gabriel’s original version, but I am obsessed with the moodiness of Teng’s cover. Also, the subtext of the lyrics is kinda wild? Looking for mercy, asking for your daddy a ton, and “the tremble in the hips of kissing Mary’s lips,” plus a confessional described as a “warm velvet box”??


KinkMedia’s network

Raquel Savage is producing a number of (NSFW) podcasts under the title KinkMedia. B Nasty’s Toybox (sex toy reviews), Domme Nation (black Domantrix Ashley Paige & Mistress Marley talk shop), and the Savage Life (BFFs shooting the shit about sex). Note: all of these are behind a paywall on Savage’s Patreon and B Nasty & Domme Nation are short videos with subtitles.

Family Ghosts

I just listened to the 3-parter on the Clotilda in S3, and that was enough for me to subscribe. This gets plugged in a lot of other podcasts, but I held off thinking it was going to be like the Moth, but so far it’s more NPR-like than I expected. (Patreon here.)


Ashley Garza and Ai-jen Poo’s new podcast! I’ve subscribed to see where it goes. Their first interviewee was Chani Nicholas.


UMI’s Youtube channel

She has a short film/music video series I thought was super interesting, and she does full moon witchy videos. Both are a joy that leave me feeling happy after I watch them.

flaky, buttery, and delicious: me and my eczema

Thinking out loud about my relationship to others, myself, and my eczema. Snippets of this previously appeared on FB & IG.

Wordcount: ~3,000.
Content Note: Humiliation (?) and NSFW due to sex.

I don’t like the horror genre, because I don’t like being scared. But every now and then I press through it, like Annihilation for Gina Rodriguez and Tessa Thompson, or Get Out to be culturally competent. I watched both with the lights on, in broad daylight, after reading the summary on Wikipedia.

I have a particular aversion to body horror though. I don’t fuck with that. I’d list some examples here, but you’ll just have to go to the Wikipedia article instead, because even thinking of listing them makes the back of my skull tingle in bad ways.

My body is already a horror, after all.

A selected list of monstrosities:

  • thickened skin, darkened skin, combine the two and you get dragon scales
  • a body full of open wounds, ready to ooze and weep and bleed at any moment
  • skin dappled with scabs in various states of repair
  • my hands, smelling of raw meat after I’ve scratched them raw
  • my fingers, stiff and brittle leaving me two options: 1) delicately applying lotion to my joints to bring movement back to them 2) clenching my hands into fists, snapping the skin open like a glow stick lit bright with my blood
  • my lips, my nipples, splitting open like overripe fruit

Does that satisfy your criteria? Do you know why my body is marked off with yellow caution tape? It’s not because of any of these, it’s because of the way you treat me.

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2019, Fave Media

Despite working part-time in 2018 and full-time in 2019, I’m very pleased as punch that I read only 7 books less in 2019! Everything I read can be seen on Goodreads here.

Please note this list is not limited to books published in 2019, just books I read in 2019. Where possible, I’ve linked Patreons.



Alyssa Cole’s A Prince on Paper (Reluctant Royals #3)

Alyssa Cole’s Can’t Escape Love (Reluctant Royals #2.6)

Sayantani DasGupta’s The Serpent’s Secret (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond #1)

Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire series, particularly the “Glass Cannon” novella in Hexarchate Stories

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha’s Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice

Arkady Martine’s A Memory Called Empire (Teixcalaan #1)

Honorary mention:

Eds. Caorlynn Calabrese & Rachel Weiss’ Eternal Witchraft: a Comics Spellbook (POMEpress/mag)

P. Djèlí Clark’s A Dead Djinn in Cairo

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

Bethanie Deeney Murguia’s Toucans, Too

Eds. Winona Guo & Priya Vulchi’s Tell Me Who You Are: Sharing Our Stories of Race, Culture, and Identity

Jeffe Kennedy’s With a Prince (Missed Connections #2)

Kiese Laymon’s Heavy: An American Memoir

Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Gods of Jade and Shadow

Aarti Sequeira’s Aarti Paarti: An American Kitchen with an Indian Soul

Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings: Hungry for More

Mariana Zapata’s Luna and the Lie

Fave Authors / Sequels

Ilona Andrews, Diamond Fire (Hidden Legacy #4)

Seth Dickinson’s The Monster Baru Cormorant (The Masquerade #2)

forthright.’s Tamiko and the Two Janitors (Amaranthine Saga #3), Followed by Thunder, and Dragged Through Hedgerows (Songs of the Amaranthine #2 and #3 respectively)

Nalini Singh’s Wolf Rain (Psy-Changeling Trinity #3)

Tasha Suri’s Realm of Ash (Realms of Ambha #2)

KB Wagers’ Down Among the Dead (Farian War #2)



Duolingo Spanish

How To Survive the End of the World (Patreon)

KPFA’s Letters and Politics, particularly for its impeachment coverage (Donate)

Our Opinions are Correct (Patreon)

Where Should We Begin?

Yoga is Dead (Patreon)


Dir. Julia Hart’s Fast Color

Jane the Virgin S5

Good Eats The Return

Watchmen HBO

Dec 2019, Fave Media

Hi friends! January has me working on a submission for an Asian-American mother-daughter zine that anakrael sent my way. I’m also kicking around a blog piece on desire and eczema.


Jessie Mihalik’s Aurora Blazing (Consortium Rebellion #2)

The third work of Mihalik’s I’ve read, but this one blows the rest out of the water. Adventure, romance, banter, and secrets (that each person figures out, but waits for the other to broach). What’s there not to like? Will definitely be keeping up with Mihalik’s releases after this.

Courtney Milan’s Unraveled (Turner Brothers #3)

I read this back in 2017, but forgot why I’d given it such a high rating. Well, I’m happy to say the high rating was well-deserved! There’s really nothing to complain about in this book. Interesting characters, gruff hero who secretly pets kittens, a heroine determined to seize life and call the hero on his BS, and a delightful rebuttal of a blackmail plot.

K.B. Wagers’ Down Among the Dead (Farian War #2)

Ooof, Wagers was not playing with the content warning at the beginning of this. I’ve loved Hail and her adventures since the Indranan War Trilogy, and I still love her, her tenacity, and the people who love her.

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Reflections from completing a novel

As some of you know, I’ve been working on a novel-length project since October 2018, and I finally finished it in October 2019! It’s a paranormal romance, heavy on the smut. Here are some reflections on finishing my first* novel-length work!

  1. Writing while working with a part time v. full time job
  2. Writing in 15 minute increments
  3. It took me a year!
  4. I used writing prompts
  5. Octavia E. Butler’s wisdom
  6. bonus lesson: people are surprisingly chill with fanfic

The long version under the cut.

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Nov 2019, Fave Media

I completed the first draft of my short story for Voices On FIYAH! While I didn’t meet my goal of 5000 words, I got pretty close at 4500. Now I just need to let the draft sit and come back to it later. I also want to do some research on Chinese immigrants in the (late?) 1800s and Mexican immigrants during the Bracero Program. …of course, I am now desperately reading anything that’s not Takaki’s Strangers From a Different Shore, lol.

Now that I’m done with writing commitments, I’m hoping to get back into some blog posts. Definitely looking forward to relaxing and write whatever I want (or not write at all for a little!). In the meanwhile, here are my faves from November!


Hexarchate Stories by Yoon Ha Lee (Machineries of Empire #3.5)

So I love “Gloves” for the kinky smut, but the ending. T_T

BUT! GLASS CANNON, friends. GLASS CANNON. As I said in my Goodreads review, Lee somehow reached into my id and gave me hella shit I enjoy: hilarity, Cheris and Jedao sniping at each other and trying to outfox each other but they know each other too well, gut wrenching moments (the Dhanneth convo, oof), tentacular monster boyfriend, Jedao being all smart and scornful of Mikodez, Cheris hand-feeding Jedao not once but TWICE, and the *spoiler* trope that proves Cheris and Jedao aren’t through with each other yet. I will read Cheris & Jedao antics forever, and need a sequel please.

Figure Skating

Gabrielle Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron’s 2019/20 Free Dance to Find You

Apologies for the video quality, but NBC is locking down all of the official footage. I know it’s hokey to call this ice dance so dance-like but it is. It’s mesmerizing every time I watch it.


Celeste’s Strange (Live)

Haunting. And Wrabel’s lyrics are mesmerizing in their simplicity.

Sister’s Love Me Right

This has me in my feels. I even made it my November monthly spread in my Passion Planner.

Oct 2019, Fave Media

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!


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.


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.


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?)


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.