Book Review - The Art of Happiness

The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living by The Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, MD

Rating: 2.5/5

I read this with my brother and we had discussions about each chapter, which worked well since we were able to bounce ideas off one another and make sure we really understood what was going on. I'm glad to have read the book, but it's probably not one I'd keep on hand to read again. It started strong, then the last few chapters were really slow. The last section re-established my interest, but that was because it was discussing religion and spirituality.

I didn't agree with everything the Dalai Lama (DL) said or proposed, but I tried not to let that color my experiences.

What I liked
I enjoyed hearing the DL speak about different topics such as happiness, contentment, selfishness, and religion. I felt he had some good ideas and life would be better if people applied those ideas more often. Of course we can't force them to, but I think the DL makes some good points for what these behaviors/thoughts are beneficial to the individual as much as the larger community.

Cutler backs up much of what the DL says with studies, which my left brain congratulates while my right brain ignored it.

What I didn't like

Cutler was a little love-struck with the DL, which tainted his writing and influenced what he said and how he felt about the DL. Of course this could taint the reader in favor of the DL, but it just annoyed me.

When he quoted studies, he rarely gave the number of participants. There is no reference section. While this isn't a scientific work, I am often surrounded by articles that try to use a study for their own purposes. If the study only had 40 participants, it's not as impressive as if it had 400. Not to mention differences in set up, etc. This won't bother the average reader, most likely.

I felt like the author was talking down to me sometimes, which is a giant "NONO."


Book Review - Zowie It's Yaoi

Zowie It's Yaoi edited by Marilyn Jaye Lewis


Waste of money. I purchased it because it was my genre and I was making several other purchases and it was a good price. I was incredibly disappointed. Some of the stories were good/interesting, but even those felt blocky, almost clumsy. They didn’t feel like professional works to me. I read better stories here.

Reviewed by story

“Kai Stubborn”

This was the first story, so I had no concept of what to expect. I enjoyed it about equal to what I read by “amateur” writers and the story felt similar (this is in no way offensive, I read high-quality unpublished stories). The tale picked up as it went and ended pleasantly enough. I had a slight sensation of the author trying too hard not to reveal too much information, but it wasn’t detrimental to the story.

“The Hungry Ghost”

I enjoyed the beginning and the end of this story, but the majority of the center I didn’t. The main characters do nothing to appeal to me and I can’t even work up the energy to pity the main character, because he does little to warrant my pity. He isn’t a bad kid, but he isn’t anything I enjoyed reading. I ended up skimming a large chunk of the story because the wordy storytelling was tiresome and I wanted to move on.

“A Princely Gift”

This was one of my favorites in the book (although that’s not saying much). It was very basic and straight forward in both writing style and relationships. It gave us a beginning, middle and end. The tale of a peasant and prince falling in love is pretty common, but was worked well here and nothing felt off. The end drug out a little bit, but I can understand the author’s reason for doing so, and it was peaceful enough (matching the rest of the story) that I didn’t mind.


I’m middle of the road on this one. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t amazing either. It didn’t waste my time, but I don’t know if I’d return to it again.

“The Winged Leopard in a Foreign Land”

This felt like the worst to me. Half the time I didn’t know what was going on, I didn’t know why it was going on, and I didn’t particularly care. The confused writing didn’t work to entice me, it worked to bore me. At the end, when much is revealed, I was happy for the relationship, but still a little confused about everything else. The sex felt obscene and unnecessary. I’m reminded of a very bad porn based on Alice in Wonderland.

“Legacy of Boy”

I probably short-changed this story because it was last and after “The Winged Leopard” I just wanted to finish the book. The concept of the story and the tale it tells seemed interesting, but I ended up skimming/skipping large chunks of it. I think it probably deserves a closer read than I gave it, but I just didn’t have the energy to. I think what I liked about the story was that it was a happy ending without being a happy ending. My biggest complaint was that the names were awful.


Book Review: Zero at the Bone

Zero at the Bone by Jane Seville

If left to my own devices, I probably wouldn't have read this book. As a mystery/action novel, it isn't my usual genre, and “gay for you” is not my favorite type story. As it happens, this was the July novel for my one book group and after debating briefly with myself, I bought the book, because the purpose of me joining this group was to try new things.

What I liked:

Plot: Strong, well thought out, complex. There were multiple characters doing work in the background, even the a large portion of the book involved the two men being stuck together in hiding. Everything was also wrapped up nicely so we weren't left wondering about anything.

Sex: A good balance. Not too much, both in quantity and in description. Was well fit into the story and didn't disrupt the flow. Never felt like a scene was forcing sex just to have sex in it.

Characters: Everyone had good depth. There were good relationships (outside of the pairing) and interactions. People grew, changed, and learned.

What I didn't like:

Ending: I didn't feel like the novel had an ending so much as a teetered off telling of their lives. The main action happens, then a chunk of time follows and then the falling action happens. I understand the need for this and was content to have this delay before everything finished up. However, after the ending there was still 2 chapters after what I consider to be the end (one chapter and one epilogue). They were interesting, but bogged down the ending from a nice clean cut to a meandering (which is explained by the fact that she was short stories involving these characters, which is what the last two chapters feel like.

Relationship: Sudden. I'm not against their relationship, and I'm glad they get together, but the actual event felt sudden. I could see things forming a little on at least one side, but the abruptness still felt forced. Like, “I'm getting too far into the book, need some action to happen now.” But once it was started, things paced well.


Enjoyable. I'd recommend this to people in the genre (M/M) and even those outside of it, assuming they don't mind gay sex (although I'd probably recommend skipping the last two parts, unless they want more gay sex).