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!
About the Book:A single stroke can change your world.
Xander Fairchild can’t stand people in general and frat boys in particular, so when he’s forced to spend his summer working on his senior project with Skylar Stone, a silver-tongued Delta Sig with a trust fund who wants to make Xander over into a shiny new image, Xander is determined to resist. He came to idyllic, Japanese culture-soaked Benten College to hide and make manga, not to be transformed into a corporate clone in the eleventh hour.
Skylar’s life has been laid out for him since before he was born, but all it takes is one look at Xander’s artwork, and the veneer around him begins to crack. Xander himself does plenty of damage too. There’s something about the antisocial artist’s refusal to yield that forces Skylar to acknowledge how much his own orchestrated future is killing him slowly…as is the truth about his gray-spectrum sexuality, which he hasn’t dared to speak aloud, even to himself.
Through a summer of art and friendship, Xander and Skylar learn more about each other, themselves, and their feelings for one another. But as their senior year begins, they must decide if they will part ways and return to the dull futures they had planned, or if they will take a risk and leap into a brightly colored future—together.
M/M Contemporary Romance
August 8, 2017
AMAZON US | AMAZON UK | BARNES & NOBLE
ITUNES | KOBO | SCRIBED | SMASHWORDS
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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WOW! That Japanese ‘alphabet’ is way over my head! LOL Glad to see you enjoyed this one. I really need to give her a try.
It seems so complicated, but really cool too. It made me want to learn.
Wow… this sounds way cool. 🙂 I may just have to put this on my “To read” list. 🙂
It was so good! I think it’s currently on NetGalley as a read now. 🙂
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So nice to see such sweet things said about Heidi! I simply adore her!
She’s an amazing author! I’ve loved everything I’ve read so far!
The Japanese writing system was one of the most challenging aspects of living there I found. One fun way of memorising the characters is to make an association between the character and the sound it makes; for example, I always think the hiragana character for ‘ku’ kinda looks like a bird’s beak and ‘ku’ sounds vaguely like a noise a bird might make. Awesome guest post and brilliant review! ❤
That is definitely a clever way of remembering! Association always helps me too. I also think it’s so awesome that you lived in Japan. I know many people would be jealous. 🙂
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I loved all the japanese and manga references in the book, and the fact that I could understand what Xander said in japanese before the translation part came. Ahhh the love, the feels 🙂
Oh man! That probably did make it even more romantic! I’ve never felt a need to try Manga. It’s just never been something I gravitated to, but after reading Antisocial I suddenly WANT to. It was magical and beautiful.
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yes!! totally 😀 I love manga and webtoons, but I must warn you that most BL (boys love/ shounen ai) stories tend to gravitate towards steamy scenes, and other themes that are not as cute and pure as Antisocial. I’m crossing my fingers that Heidi Cullinan makes another story like this one, filled with japanese culture and fuzzy feelings.
I don’t hate steamy scenes, but I just love the fuzzy lovey romance to be stronger I guess. I loved how intimate and gorgeous the hand holding scenes were in Antisocial. Those are probably my favorite moments in any book.
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Heidi Cullinan: Thank you so much for your guest post! This is really fascinating, and I learned a TON!! Do you plan on continuing to learn more about Japanese and integrate it into your novels? How do you ensure your work with Japanese is appropriate and correct?
Birdy: This is a super cool post! I love Cullinan’s guest content. Did you come up with that, or did she? I am all about reading a M/M romance with no sex. The whole concept really intrigues me. I’ll have to check this book out!
She totally came up with all her guest posts for the tour, and they’re all that interesting! She’s honestly one of the most awesome authors out there. One of my favorites. Antisocial is a great book for diving into M/M! I hope you do read it.
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This post reminded me of Thai language which also focuses on sounds & intonations (for Thai’s). It looks really difficult to learn. Maybe if you have a good friend who can be patient & teach you, learning it would be easier. ^_^
LOL! I agree with that. It does look complicated, but it also looks beautiful. I love seeing it written out. So much more elegant.