Just A Few Things

My friend (and one of the Dungeons Masters that is currently running an amazing campaign), Ayanna, is in the process of updating her webcomic. It’s called “Crossroads Incorporated,” and it is fantastic. I suppose this is a little shout-out to her! She’s a great person, very supportive, but she also doesn’t take shit. Here’s a link to the comic! She updates it as much as she can, considering she has a full-time job, multiple game nights, and, you know, a personal life.

Seeing Ayanna’s art has made me want to draw more myself. I’m getting used to my art tablet again, so that’s a start.

Yesterday was a day! I literally spent ten hours going through and cataloging every single one of our books, comics, and manga. I also rearranged our video game collection so that it makes more sense visually–as well as the fact that I figured out how to shift the physical shelves on the media case to fit more games in the future. Next, I would love to rearrange our bedroom and living room, but those are both bigger tasks that I would need help with. Since Coventry isn’t feeling well enough to aid me, I won’t be able to change the rooms around anytime soon.

So, as a break down, and using the Handy Library app, we have 354 physical novels/books; 83 manga volumes and comic trade-paper-backs/graphic novels; and 182 Kindle books. This is after de-hauling roughly fifty books and manga. The books we are getting rid of are ones that either we read and didn’t enjoy, or we realized we had multiple copies of. There are a few, too, that I had purchased on a whim and am no longer interested in.

The best part of doing this is that we have an entire shelf that is empty. An entire shelf to fill up with new books! On the manga shelf, we have about half of a shelf open as well. …which is good, because I may have just dropped over sixty dollars on new books and manga on Book Outlet. It’s a wonderful site that I found recently. I think I knew of it before, but never really paid attention to it?

Basically, Book Outlet is an online store that sells books that are ‘imperfect,’ overstock, or ‘discount-bin’ quality. They are still perfectly readable! They are still books! The only thing ‘wrong’ with them is that they aren’t perfect copies. The best part is that you can purchase these books for a heavy discount. For example, there is a book on my wishlist that is well over twenty dollars regularly. On Book Outlet, it’s priced to sell at five dollars. That’s a fifteen dollar savings and holy shit, I am all about it. The thing is, too–this site has better prices most of the time than Thriftbooks does.

Don’t get me wrong. Thriftbooks is an awesome site. I just feel like they’ve gotten a bit pricier than I can afford recently, and some of the books I’m really interested in aren’t available for a decent price. On Book Outlet, though, I can find the book I want for mere dollars.

…ugh. I am so tired! If one thinks about it…I must have lifted so many pounds of books yesterday. We’ll say twenty pounds at a time (since I stacked the books up high in my arms as I moved them around) for ten hours? Yeah. My arms are tired, my back hurts, my chest hurts.

I think I’m going to lie down on the couch. Just relax. Close my eyes…

Book Review: “A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Cursebreakers, book 2)” by Brigid Kemmerer

A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Cursebreakers, #2)A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Warning: “A Heart So Fierce and Broken” is, at first, very hard to get into. I would recommend marathoning the first half of the book as soon as possible, just to sort of get it out of the way. By no means is the first 50% terrible, but around that mark the novels gains speed. I went from only reading a few pages every so often to devouring the rest of the book in one night–and staying up rather late to do so!

“A Heart So Fierce and Broken” is the sequel to “A Curse So Dark and Lonely,” which was an amazing, thoughtful, unique retelling of the “Beauty and the Beast” story. Perhaps retelling is the wrong word, as there was so much in that book that certainly wasn’t in the original fairy tale–and it’s sequel is so much so the same. I am not entirely sure, but I believe Brigid Kemmerer may have been going for a loose retelling of the Rapunzel fable this time around. There was so much happening politically and between the characters though that it was hard to pinpoint until a very specific scene within the pages of the book.

Grey–former guard to Prince Rhen of the fantastical land of Emberfall–has discovered that he is the rightful heir to the throne, shortly after helping to break Rhen of his curse as a horrible monster. To protect the crown and his newly realized brother, Grey takes up the name Hawk and disappears, trying to live a normal, uneventful life.

Soon enough, Emberfall is threatened by the bordering country of Syhl Shallow, whose queen is desperate to have waterways open to her people; she attempts to force an alliance upon Rhen by having him wed her younger daughter and the heir to her crown. Rhen refuses, sending the royal family away.

In an attempt to keep peace between the two countries, the eldest daughter, Lia Mara, escapes from her mother’s watchful gaze to try to talk sense into Rhen. Her pleas fall upon deaf ears. At the same time, Grey is discovered and brought to the castle to be questioned, as Rhen does not yet know that they are brothers.

What follows is a very politically driven fantasy with large helping of believable romance and amazing character development.

Honestly, Grey was my favorite character from the first book. He was mostly level-headed, providing a voice of reason throughout most of the narrative. While Harper and Rhen were interesting leads, I don’t remember being quiet as obsessed with them as I became with Grey and Lia Mara. Both Grey and Lia Mara were so unsure of themselves, so passionate about their countries. They are good people who had power thrust upon them–power that they didn’t necessarily want or know how to navigate.

Though the last half of the novel left me wanting so much more…the first half left me bored at times. I understand the need for a build up, but I just felt like it was running a bit too slow. Would I read it again? Yes. Am I waiting for the third book in the series? Hell yes.

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Um, Soooo…

…I managed to snag a Nintendo Switch this morning! The Nintendo Shop online had a few for sale that were refurbished from used, and they were also having a sale on them! I think I managed to grab the very last one. This was at around six o’clock this morning–after which I did the bills and went back to bed.

When I woke up again, I realized that we are going to need games to play! Thankfully, I had previously purchased a copy of Pokemon Shield and two ‘normal style’ controllers in preparation for purchasing a Switch–literally two days after they were sold out everywhere.

At any rate, I hopped onto GameStop’s website and bought The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for Covey (she is a massive LoZ fan, and has been for a good portion of her life), as well as a copy of Death Mark for myself. There are a ton of other games I would love to get for us, but at the moment, we don’t have the money for it.

I am so excited!

I know I’ve mentioned games that I want to get for the Nintendo Switch before on this blog, but I am going to do it again because I freakin’ can. It’s my blog, after all. Also I just like looking up games.

It’s Time to Rediscover Myself–or to Discover Myself, Period.

The last few weeks have gone by in mostly a blur. Between my wife and I, we have not been feeling well at all. I have had severe stomach pains and blood when I use the restroom, so that is a cause for concern. On top of that, my spouse has had horrible chest pains and tightness, as well as a shortness of breath. We have both been super weak and lethargic.

Our fur baby, Jasper, has also been under the weather. I don’t know if it’s because of how the temperature keeps rising and falling, or because of pollen or something else, but she’s had horrible kitty coughs. She has been sneezing a touch, too, but she still has crazy amounts of energy at night. The coughing and sneezing doesn’t keep her from running up and down the hall, chasing her catnip-stuffed avocado.

Anyway, because none of us have really been feeling well, we’ve kept to ourselves a lot. Moreover, in bed or on the couch. Getting up to even do the dishes or cook has been a chore. The last two days have been a bit better for me, at least–I’ve been able to cook and do a few things around the apartment without feeling like I’m going to die. Hopefully that keeps up, as there are things I want to do and need to do.

For example, I have been putting off working on any crafts! Covey purchased dice molds for us to play around with. The idea is to make dice sets for each of our friends who we play Dungeons and Dragons with. The molds are super nice, and we managed to snag a good deal on them. I have wanted to pour some resin since we received them in the mail, but I just…going to the craft room makes me want to cry. Walking has been so painful for me!

I also really, really, really want to work on making a bjd. I have so many ideas for one, but the idea of working on it just makes me sick! I have no energy, no drive…nothing. It sucks hardcore!

There have really been only two things that I have had the energy to do, and that’s only because I could do both of them from my couch while on the computer. The first is play Dungeons and Dragons online via Discord with my friends. We have three games currently, with a fourth game starting this Sunday and alternating with another game. They are a lot of fun, and since we are doing the games text-based (due to some of our players being too ill/mute to speak), it doesn’t take up too much energy to play. Secondly, I have been building my own world and campaign.

This campaign will, hopefully, be played in person. I will be the Dungeon Master, with my brother, my niece’s mother/our friend, and my spouse as the players. It’s based around two events taking place on an island continent called Andhera. The events are that a new Queen has come into power, and in doing so, she must decide on both who will become her personal guards, and who will be sacrificed to the evil Dragon Goddess her family worships; and secondly, one of the priests in a temple to the north had a vision of the Dead Gods returning to the land to destroy those who worship said evil Dragon Goddess.

Speaking of Dungeons and Dragons–rolling new characters for certain games has given me the incentive to dust off my old drawing tablet. I guess that’s a third thing I’ve been able to do as of late–even if it did take me well over four hours to draw one terrible picture of my new half-orc werebear Life Domain cleric, Akudark Sunpelt.

That’s my new baby boy! I love him so much already, and I haven’t even played him yet. In my mind, he is a super sweet, gentlemanly person with a huge appetite. Anything sweet is his favorite, especially honey cakes! In the fall, he starts to gain weight for the winter by instinct, considering he’s a werebear. As a note, he spent a few years basically ‘training’ to become a lycanthrope, meaning that, aside from a few accidents or mistakes, he is completely in control of himself when he transforms.

Once I am finished with this blog post, I think I am going to go work on bjd eyes. September still needs a fresh set of peepers…and a wig…and clothing…and a faceup… She’s sort of just been sitting on my shelf, sadly! I really need to get to work and back on track.

Father’s Day; What It Means For Me, A Newly Self-Discovered Trans Man

This year is the first year that I am celebrating Father’s Day as a (mostly) out of the closet Transgender Male. Meaning? It’s my day. I am a Father (to our lovely fur baby, Jasper Squirrel-Girl), so I am able to celebrate today by cuddling up to my adopted daughter to hear her purr. Unfortunately, my spouse, Coventry, is extremely sick today. She worked very hard in my grandmother’s garden yesterday. The heat reached over 90 degrees! Not to mention that there was no cloud cover until later in the day.

So–what does being a dad mean to me? What does being a man mean to me? It’s…complicated. I’m just barely starting my transition–I’m not even on hormones yet. Added to that, my fashion style is very feminine, even though I no longer wear skirts or dresses. Traditionally, clothing designed for the female figure is more form-fitting, sexualizing women to make them appear appealing to the eye. Men’s fashion is usually designed to be more comfortable, or, if one is going for the business look, to make them look imposing and impressive. I, however, am somewhere in the middle, but enough to the ‘women’s’ side of fashion to be considered feminine.

What I wear has nothing to do with how I view myself, though. I look at my nude body and I see things that are wrong to me. I see breasts that shouldn’t exist–and I would gladly donate them to someone who would want them, if I could! Further down, I see my sexual parts, and I just…It feels wrong. I’ve never known anything else, but I do know that I don’t want what I have. Penis envy? Oh, yes. I have that hardcore.

It’s not just those parts, though. My voice isn’t right. It’s so high, so wrong. I want my voice deeper, more commanding, but gentle as well. That lovely rumble of thunder that men get in their throats–that is what I need. That is what I want to sound like. Facial hair? I was against it at first, thinking that I would look terrible with it, but I realized that a cute, well cared for goatee would be very fitting for my naturally strong jaw. Maybe some thin side burns that led into a sort of chin-strap style? I’ve been looking at more and more pictures of well-trimmed styles. I like what I see.

Also–can we discuss how amazing men’s deodorant and colognes smell? The musky, deep scent, wafting over mild notes of perhaps fruit, or a crisp smell that reminds one of a winter’s night, curled up by a fire? Much better than the baby-powder, flower-laden crap that women are forced to use.

I suppose this all boils down to how women are treated in society, too. Women are considered weak and dainty. They are stereotypically seen as creatures that need protecting, that aren’t able to really think for themselves, that are made for making children… Disgusting views, really. Women–all women, mind, transwomen included!–deserve respect. They deserve to be seen as beautiful, yes, but also smart, strong, funny…anything that a male can be, a woman can be, too. Same for men–anything a woman can be, a male can strive to be as well.

If the world just stopped caring about sex and gender so much, maybe we would be a better race. Humanity is so…stupid sometimes. It’s upsetting, especially since I know that I will be viewed as less than other men because I was born with a vagina.

…this Father’s Day post turned into a huge rant! I truly didn’t mean to do that, but I suppose it happens. I needed to get a lot of this off of my chest. I think I’m nervous, too. Not today, but some day soon, I will have to tell my dad that his ‘daughter’ is actually his son. I love him. I do.

But I am not looking forward to that day.

Book Review: “Field Trips (Dragoon Academy, book 2)” by Carl Hoilman

Field Trips by Carl Hoilman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Field Trips” by Carl Hoilman is the second book in the series “Dragoon Academy.” As a whole, the series so far reminded me of my late-childhood, early teenage years. The novels were both seemingly inspired by 1990’s to early 2000’s anime and RPG games– “Entrance Exams,” the first novel, more of the former while this second entry is very much the latter.

Alex and his friends are attempting to become fully fledged Duel Dragoons–magical warriors with the ability to summon crazy weapons and armor to protect the world. Along the way, Alex begins to dream of a girl with beautiful eyes. Despite this, he remains true to his girlfriend, Ashley, as they travel through the land toward the academy they have been fated to join.

Then, suddenly–a stranger appears. Jessilynn, a beautiful, powerful warrior, joins Alex, Ashley, and the others on their way. However, there is more to her than she lets on. The group fights battle after battle, growing stronger. Ashley and Jessi fight for Alex’s heart, their bickering finally coming to a head that none of the young Dragoons see coming.

Honestly, I enjoyed the first novel, “Entrance Exams.” It was fun and lighthearted, drawing on the joy of action anime-style story telling. This novel, the sequel “Field Trips,” however, is a bit darker. It still has moments of laughter and fun, but honestly, this is a far harsher book. Hoilman focuses more on the relationships between the group of characters than the actual fighting, which, I think, was a good move. There is still plenty of action, but the emotional pulls in this novel is front and center.

There is a twist in the novel that I thought I saw coming. I railed against it for a bit, but when it finally played out, there was a secondary twist that just spun my head.

Is this a perfect novel? No, but it sure is a hell of a lot of fun! There were a few grammar mistakes here and there, but honestly, I stopped paying attention to them as I was pulled into the story more and more. It’s a quick read, so if you have a few hours to kill–or if you’re looking for a novel to enjoy–I’d pick this up ASAP. I cannot wait for the next entry in the series.

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Let’s Make This Last

I have so many things that I want to work on. Mainly, this consists of dolls and clothing for myself, but I also have other things queued up. For example, I want to start working on my novels again. I have had so many ideas lately for story-lines and characters. Perhaps playing Dungeons and Dragons has helped that; I have two new campaigns that I am apart of, so that means two new characters!

The gentleman in green is Xakta, my Yuan-Ti cleric under the service of the Raven Queen. The other gentleman is Thomas Serve-Zhou, a Drow warlock who had once been a butler to a very important family.

Oh, I also finished my Etoile and Muffy dolls!

I am super happy with Muffy, overall. Etoile’s face needs to be redone. I’m not happy with it at all. Her clothing is adorable, and I love her hair, though, so she isn’t a total loss.

As for other dolls I hope to have finished by the end of this year… And, in the order of how I’m making them (with the exception of my D&D characters, as I am not sure when I will be making them…)

So, Yarne (Fire Emblem: Awakening) is being done for a Rabbit Based Collab on Instagram. To go with him, I will be making Lucina afterward, since that’s my favorite pairing in the game. Afterward, I will work on Camilla (her Brave outfit from Fire Emblem Heroes) from Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest. Next up is Grelle from Kuroshitsuji (and yes, I think she is officially spelling her name with the extra ‘e’ at the end?), and finally, for winter, I will be making Vexen from Kingdom hearts.

There are a few dolls in there that I will be making as well that I do not have concept art for yet! Due around Halloween, I will be making Belle from Beauty and the Beast as a villain. My idea is basically–what if she was so vain that, instead of saving Prince Adam (the Beast), she becomes a beast herself? So, I think the doll will actually be an entire piece of art, complete with a base, a dead Prince Adam/Beast, and the transformation sequence for Belle turning into a monster. And yes, there will be roses.

Tons of roses.

Now, between dolls, I will also be working on my wardrobe and some ita bags for different characters and pairings. I would like a Peridot (Steven Universe) bag, a Pearl (Steven Universe) bag, a new Grelle (Kuroshitsuji) bag (as the one I have currently is far too tiny), a Lucina x Yarne (Fire Emblem: Awakening) pairing bag, and a Camilla (Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest) bag. I kind of want to do just a plain black bag as well to hold random pins and things. I don’t know yet, but I really need a larger bag than what I have right now.

For now, however, I need to get off of my butt and make a salad for dinner tonight. It’s getting hot again after a small, cool reprieve, so we thought that something simple for supper would suffice. Hot dogs and pasta salad it is.

As The Days Tick By

June 7th is my 32nd birthday.

This will be my first official birthday as Devyn, instead of my dead name. This year, I feel like I am myself–or, at least, becoming myself. There are so many things that I still need to do and still want to do in being my true self. This is a good start, though.

For example…I am so far behind on starting to sew my new wardrobe. Mostly it is because of the weather–it’s been in the 90’s here, and our landlord isn’t allowing us to put in our A/C until they’ve purchased new brackets to brace the units with. Since we’re on the third floor, I understand–one doesn’t wish to have their air conditioner suddenly fall into the window of the apartment below. Unfortunately, that means that we have to deal with it being insanely hot in our home for the next week or so. Just this morning, according to the thermostat, it was over 80 degrees in here. Our poor cat looked like she had melted into the floor.

Anyway, working in the craft room is a no go for now. At least, not until the sun goes down, considering that when it’s up, it shines directly into that room. It becomes a freaking sauna. What little time I do have to work in there at night has been used for the dolls I’m making for the Animal Crossing collaboration I’m hosting on Instagram.

Covey is making a doll as well. She’s working on an adorable Blathers! I’m making Muffy and Etoile, of course–I think I’ve mentioned that before. Below are the designs I came up with for the dolls’ over all looks.

…okay, so WordPress has a new editing set-up for writing blog posts and I’m still trying to figure out if I like it or not. It feels a bit more clunky than the older editor? I suppose I’ll just have to keep working with it.

Other than Muffy and Etoile, I also joined a rabbit themed collab that will be due at the end of July. For that, I am going to be making Yarne from Fire Emblem: Awakening. His race is based on rabbits, after all, and his secondary form is that of a giant war bunny. Plus, this gives me a reason/excuse to make a Lucina doll as well! Yarne and Lucina are my favorite pairing from the game.

For Lucina, which I will get to at some point after Yarne, I have to figure out which outfit/costume I would like to put her in. I really like the Bride class, and I think she looks adorable in that dress–plus, it would go well with Yarne being her husband.

…then there are other characters that I would like to make, including some original characters and characters from other games and anime. I know that, right after I finish Yarne, I will probably work on the Honeytongue twins (Nox and Balt from our Dungeons and Dragons campaign). I really would like to make a doll of Camilla from Fire Emblem: Fates. Grell from Black Butler/Kuroshitsuji is a must for this year, too. Vexen will be in there somewhere. I feel like there were other pre-existing characters, but it’s late/early in the morning and I don’t want to think about it too much.

Mask! I have to make masks as well, mostly for our online shop. Ugh! There are so many things I would like to do, and yet…not enough time.

Book Review: “Entrance Exams (Dragoon Academy, Book 1)” by Carl Hoilman

Entrance Exams (Dragoon Academy Book 1)Entrance Exams by Carl Hoilman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a wild ride!

“Entrance Exams” is the first book in the “Dragoon Academy” series. Excuse me while I gush over it for a few minutes! I received a gifted copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an open and honest review.

Alex is a relatively normal teenager. He has a best friend–Scott–, a romantic love interest–Ashley–, a super supportive and loving mother, as well as an estranged father who just so happens to be a powerful Void master. This is where things become complicated. As it turns out, there is a prophecy, and Alex fits the bill. His father and his father’s family decide to test the teen with magic, guns, and mayhem.

This book is not perfect. No book really is. There are a few grammatical mistakes. That being said, they do not take away from the enjoyment of the overall story. I have to say this now, just so those reading my review have a good idea of what to expect when going into this series.

This book is basically a ’90’s anime or JRPG. I mean that in the best way possible, of course. While going through the story, I realized right away that this novel reminded me of all of my favorite shows, manga, and games from my early-t0-late teen years. You like Trigun? You’ll love this. You like Inu-Yasha? Yep. Sailor Moon? There’s a bit of that in here, too. As for games–Final Fantasy, anyone? Legend of Dragoon? Add a heaping dash of wit from the author and adorable romance, and you’ve got a great, middle-grade to young adult book.

It’s a series, of course, so the second book is one I am looking forward to starting as soon as possible.

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Book Re-Review: “A Creature of Moonlight” by Rebecca Hahn

A Creature of Moonlight by Rebecca Hahn

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Updated Review, 5/24/2020

DNF at 7%

“A Creature of Moonlight” was a book that I was looking forward to rereading. I borrowed it from an online library that I am a member of. I waited for a bit to receive it on my Kindle, and instantly dove in. Sadly, I did not finish my reread of the novel.

While the book itself is well written, I found that it was simply not as charming or captivating for me on the second pass through. Though I could see how and why I enjoyed the book the first time I read it, I feel that, as a person and as a reader, I have simply grown away from this type of story-telling.

Maybe in the future, I will try again.

‘A Creature of Moonlight’ was a charming novel about a girl named Marni who may or may not be the daughter of a dragon. I liked the novel itself, though the pacing was a little off, feeling slow and sluggish in the middle while the beginning and ending were very rushed. I finished the book in three days, so it was a quick read for me, but at certain points I lingered, just because of the language.

Reader beware: There is magic between these pages!

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