I would say that I’ve been waiting for this book for a long time, but I covet everything by Heidi Cullinan! When the email went around for the tour of Antisocial I jumped on the opportunity.
Thank so much to Heidi’s Helpers for including me, and special thank you to Heidi herself for a wonderful guest post!
I am honored!
Check out the tour schedule here, and make sure to enter the giveaway below!
M/M Contemporary Romance
August 8, 2017
Heidi’s Guest Post
Let’s Learn Japanese!
Thanks for having me today, Birdie! I’m here to talk a little bit about my upcoming novel, Antisocial, and since the story has so much Japanese culture as a part of it, including a section where one character gives the other a Japanese lesson, I thought I’d give your readers a tiny, tiny taste of the Japanese language too as a part of my stop.
The first thing you need to know about Japanese is that it has three “alphabets.” They’re not technically alphabets but a syllabary, but for our understanding, that will do for a working metaphor. With that in place, there are three alphabets in Japanese you need to speak, read, and write the language: hiragana, a kana system comprised entirely of phonetic syllables which are used to make words. Hiragana is comprised of 46 base characters: 5 singular vowels, 40 consonant-vowel unions, and one singular consonant. There are additional characters which are created by adding diacritics and by lengthening vowels or doubling consonants or changing the vowel sound to a glide. This means learning the hiragana alphabet isn’t as simple as memorizing a,b,c but instead learning a chart. Which, remember, isn’t based on the Phoenician system.
I’ve been learning Japanese since November, and I have a long, long way to go, but I can write out the hiragana syllabary for you.
The first thing I need to explain is that I am a bit sloppy in my writing and you should not use my kindergarten-level Japanese an example of anything other than kindergarten-level Japanese. Stroke order and height are important in writing hiragana, and I am often guilty of abusing both. What I can tell you, though, is that while it’s okay to read the consonants as you’re accustomed to hearing them in English, for the vowels you need to read them as “ah, ee, oo, eh, oh.” So when you form the syllabary for the chart moving down it reads, kah, key, koo, keh, koh, sah, see, soo, seh, sow,” and so on. A few of them are different than you’d expect, such as shi, (S and I) and chi (T and I) and fu (H and U) and tsu (T and U). There are also a number of subtle shifts in Japanese, as in many languages, that are difficult to hear if you aren’t a native speaker. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been speaking with a conversation partner and they’ve tried to correct my Japanese and I simply cannot hear the subtlety they’re trying to get me to comprehend in a word. Of course, that sword often cuts both ways.
The diacritics chart is even more complicated for westerners, or at least this westerner. Because once you learn to memorize those forty-six characters, now you have to memorize that adding little symbols can change the way things sound. Ka becomes ga. Shi becomes ji. (Chi also becomes ji, as it happens.) There are exceptions too, such as tsu becoming zu. And then there are the diacritics with diagraphs: gya, ja, bya, pya—so many ways to make sounds.
This is the thing to remember above all about Japanese: unlike English and many western languages, Japanese is all about making sounds, not words. Or rather, the words are formed out of syllables, not letters. It seems complicated, but honestly, once you memorize the syllables, it’s quite simple and so, so much more straightforward than, say, English. (Many, many things are more straightforward than English.)
There are two more “alphabets” that make up the Japanese language, but I will leave you with this much of the lesson for now and a little hiragana message of my own. For the record, what I’m saying to you is, “Thank you. See you soon!”
Goodness, this woman can write romance! I swooned and swooned, over and over, until I was a gooey puddle on the floor, made up of only squishy sensations from my heart. Antisocial just proved to me that I don’t need sex in a novel to lose myself, I need romance. This one was had no sex, with Skylar being grey-sexual, but my Lord did it have all kinds of romance. An author who can make me weak-kneed just from hand holding deserves all the accolades! I was so committed to these characters I lost myself in the book until 1am! On a weekday! I rarely do that, if ever, which proves just how flipping good it was.
I also prefer my romance novels with a slow burn, as opposed to instalove. I want to read them slowly falling for each other. Not only is it more realistic, but it gives me a chance to fall in love too. Boy oh boy, did I fall in love with Xander and Skylar. They were seriously magical. Xander was cranky, and prickly from the beginning, so reading him slowly melt for Skylar made it hard for me to breathe. Just like how reading about Xander breaking through Skylar’s shell to the sensitive sweet boy inside made me clutch my hands together and squee. They were so adorable I’m running out of adjectives to describe them!
My favorite part was how I started reading with an expectation of which character would go on an emotional journey, there’s a character-type that’s always expected to change. It’s always the character that’s most like me. Except, Heidi chose not to go down that path in Antisocial. Instead, the story gets turned on it’s ear and flipped around the other way. I love how Heidi said it was okay to be introverted! Plus, it was more about how Skylar and Xander emotionally save each other! Even better, in the first couple chapters I felt sure I knew what the final conflict was going to be, the usual romance novel plot device, but Heidi Cullinan just didn’t do it. She gave me what I always ask for in reviews -a healthy, loving, understanding relationship. One built from acceptance and patience. Ugh, these two were just perfect for each other.
All the side characters were pretty great too, but there’s a special spot in my heart for Unc. There’s just something about the loud, silly, giant-hearted best friend that gets me every time. Plus, the entire group made me wish I read more Manga (or watched it!). It’s this whole world of stories that I’ve never even dabbled in. I want to read Fullmetal Alchemist and tour Japan!
I only have one critique. Having been raised by my step-father, and having a little sister who was adopted into our family, I wish there had been a positive blended family in Antisocial. I have a happy and healthy relationship with my step-father, and my parents love my sister completely. It would have been awesome if the author also decided to turn the evil step-parent trope on its head. There’s so few stories that do, I can only think of two, and it would have been nice to read.
Either way, Heidi Cullinan is still one of my favorite romance writers and I will still auto-buy absolutely everything she writes. Everything I’ve read by this author has been exceptional. You should try reading her too.
Thank you to Heidi Cullinan for providing a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.
More About Heidi!
Heidi Cullinan has always enjoyed a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. Proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality, Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. She writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because she believes there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys playing with new recipes, reading romance and manga, playing with her cats, and watching too much anime.
Find out more about Heidi at heidicullinan.com.
Praise for Heidi Cullinan
Heartwarming and achingly beautiful —USA Today
Emotionally heartwrenching…with self-deprecating humor. — Romantic Times
Cullinan balances … love-conquers-all romance in a context full of real contemporary challenges. — Publisher’s Weekly
I fell in love with the sheer beauty of the writing. — Dear Author
Cullinan reached inside and pulled out ALL the feelings: fear, guilt, sadness, anticipation, happiness, love, lust, bitterness, loneliness, togetherness, and coming of age. — The Book Pushers
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