Everything is The Worst. [PINNED POST]

August 17th, 2017 4:06 pm by Kelly Garbato

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tweets for 2018-12-12

December 13th, 2018 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

tweets for 2018-12-11

December 12th, 2018 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Book Review: Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neill (2018)

December 11th, 2018 7:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Oh, the mixed feelings!

three out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through NetGalley.)

After her mother perished in a tragic boating accident, Lana’s father moved them out of the idyllic seaside town they called home and into the city. Now they’re back, if only for a few days, to help the community recover from an especially devastating storm. Yet when she rescues a sick young aquicorn (think: a cross between a seahorse and a unicorn) from a tide pool and nurses her back to health, Lana’s mission ripples outward until it becomes monumental in scope. Not only must she confront the unacknowledged grief and depression that assailed her after the loss of her mother – indeed, everything she’d ever known – she must also save the aquicorn’s home, under assault from climate change, pollution, and overfishing.

So there are lots of things I loved about Aquicorn Cove: The artwork is super-adorable, the aquicorns especially (and unsurprisingly). I appreciate the breadth of diversity when it comes to Aquicorn Cove’s citizens: not only do we see a variety of skin tones, but there’s a refreshing range of body types too, from tiny little old ladies (who are still getting it done, okay), to aunt Mae, who is big and beefy and has the kind of biceps I’d kill for. There’s even an implied same-sex romance between Mae and Aure, the queen (keeper? guardian?) of Aquicorn Cove. I ship it.

While I liked the environmentally friendly vibe, as well as the message that not a single one of us is too small to make a difference, the story lost me in its treatment of its smallest creatures: the fishes. There’s a clear divide between the aquicorns (flashy, majestic, kind, unique) and the fishes (food, natural resource), even though both are someones, not somethings. Whereas I doubt Lana would even dream of killing and eating an aquicorn, somehow it’s just fine to do this to someone who’s “just” a salmon (or whatever). In a word, it’s speciesist.

Granted, Lana’s people are perhaps indigenous to the island, and that’s a conversation worth having. That said, I don’t think it’s helpful to feed kids self-serving pap about how food animals “sacrifice” themselves for you. Most animals, when faced with death, fight to survive – just like human animals. So please just don’t try to romanticize their deaths, or make them appear complicit. They do not exist for your pleasure or convenience.

In summary, Aquicorn Cove is a pretty adorable book, though vegan parents might be better off skipping it entirely. There’s just too much to unpack.

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

tweets for 2018-12-10

December 11th, 2018 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato
  • RT @HoneyDemForce: It’s official: Trump’s asylum crisis is driven by people coming legally
    New stats make clear that the Trump administrat… ->
  • RT @Ocasio2018: Memo to humanity that NOT 👏🏽ONE 👏🏽DIME 👏🏽 should go towards funding the human rights abuses of this administration.
    If any… ->
  • RT @BrittneyMMorris: ✨ GIVEAWAY!! ✨
    YAY! SLAY passed 300 adds on GR! To celebrate, I'm giving away a 2019 debut pre-order! To Enter: Follow… ->
  • RT @BrendanNyhan: Orrin Hatch 2018: I don't care if the President's own DOJ has implicated him in felonies. What is a "crime" anyway?
    Orr… ->
  • RT @chick_in_kiev: https://t.co/S2weZSON00 ->
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tweets for 2018-12-09

December 10th, 2018 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

tweets for 2018-12-08

December 9th, 2018 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

tweets for 2018-12-07

December 8th, 2018 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Book Review: Claw the System: Poems from the Cat Uprising by Francesco Marciuliano (2018)

December 7th, 2018 7:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Welcome to the Catnip Cabal

three out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through NetGalley.)

THE PRESS

There is nothing more important
Than the press
There is nothing more indispensable
Than the press
There is nothing we need more right now
Than the press
Of my paw
Against the lips
Of anyone spewing hatred
Right after that paw has been in the litter box

MENTAL HEALTH DAY

When you can’t lift your head up
When you can’t raise your hopes up
When you can’t get yourself up
To face another day
Remember
You can still bring your leg up
And lick yourself down there
For like hours if you want
Because you have to take care of yourself
Before you can take on this world

The cats are fed up with our bullshit – and, in addition to silly Halloween costumes, tasteless kibble, and sleeping past 3AM, I’ve got to believe that the 2016 election has a little something to do with it. Normally felines would not deign to involve themselves in something as crass as human politics, but come on! The death of democracy and all that jazz. Plus where are they going to get their cat dancers and laser pointers if Drumpf starts a trade war with China, hmmm?

The clues are sometimes subtle, but look closely and you’ll see ’em. With chapter headings like Recognize, Resist, Revolt, and Rebuild, and poems celebrating the “press” and advocating for mental health days, these cats are obviously #withher. They dislike voter disenfranchisement almost as much they hate your best friend’s handsy toddler.

So this is a cute idea that gets stale about halfway through the book. Unsurprisingly, my favorites were the more radical poems in the bunch. Some are straight-up meme-worthy; the rest are good for a chuckle or two, hence the middling rating. The cat photos range from adorable to downright fierce.

Should you find yourself guffawing at the very idea of feline resistance, you owe it to yourself to read Jason Hribal’s Fear of the Animal Planet: The Hidden History of Animal Resistance.

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

tweets for 2018-12-06

December 7th, 2018 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato
  • RT @SchomburgCenter: Are you an educator interested in learning how to best teach slavery to your students? Then join us on 12/11 for a spe… ->
  • RT @LECrockett: In honor of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment passing in the US in 2019, I’m giving away 3 paperback editions of… ->
  • RT @LECrockett: To tide you over till #GrantchesterPBS returns in 2019, I’m giving away a finished hardcover copy of @clarissaharwood’s BEA… ->
  • RT @TheDailyShow: Trevor visits his Grandma Koko in Soweto, South Africa, to talk about his childhood, her life under apartheid, and what e… ->
  • RT @ClaraJeffery: “Over the course of nearly three years, BuzzFeed News has spoken with more than 30 people for this story…” bravo ⁦@azee… ->
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tweets for 2018-12-05

December 6th, 2018 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato
  • RT @mbrockenbrough: I am incredibly grateful for all of the tweets about my Trump bio, UNPRESIDENTED.
    Thank you for supporting this book.… ->
  • RT @DailyBrooklyn99: ☃️ b99 christmas giveway ☃️
    WINNER gets a choice of phone case or 4 stickers
    RUNNER UP gets 4 stickers
    • rt to en… ->
  • RT @GWillowWilson: Somebody legit had the nerve to suggest that Priyanka Chopra, star of a dozen Bollywood mega-hits, is a social climber f… ->
  • RT @AriBerman: Wisconsin GOP voted in wee hours of morning to brazenly strip power from Dem gov/AG & make it harder to vote
    Similar GOP le… ->
  • RT @wagatwe: If you want to read more about how @tuftsuniversity failed me as a Black woman because they took my report less seriously, che… ->
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tweets for 2018-12-04

December 5th, 2018 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Book Review: The Many Deaths of Scott Koblish by Scott Koblish (2018)

December 4th, 2018 7:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Not for the chronically anxious.

two out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free book for review through Library Thing’s Early Reviewers program.)

— 2.5 stars —

The Many Deaths of Scott Koblish is exactly what it sounds like: the author’s weird and varied imaginings of how he might meet his end. The scenarios range from the mundane-yet-tragic (being buried in an avalanche; dying in a festive house fire) to the more bizarre and outlandish (being kidnapped by aliens only to die in a fiery wreck when the US government shoots your flying saucer down; being murdered in the night by your daughter’s adorable stuffed teddy bear). My personal favorites are those that involve nonhuman animals getting revenge (such as the kangaroo boxer who stomps his human opponent to death. down with animal fighting!). There are no fewer than five instances of cats sending an unsuspecting Scott Koblish plummeting out a window to his death.

It’s a cute enough idea, if not terribly memorable. Well, unless you’re scared of clowns, alligators, or dying in unclean undies. Then some of these panels just might keep you awake at night. No death by sheer embarrassment, though, so I’m safe! :)

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

tweets for 2018-12-03

December 4th, 2018 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

tweets for 2018-12-02

December 3rd, 2018 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato
  • RT @wamandajd: Now that billionaire child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein is back in the news, it seems like a good time to take a closer lo… ->
  • RT @AlanaMassey: This idiot hates selfies so when he’s being a codependent loser, I force him to take them, and his dead-Christ-in-the-Piet… ->
  • Congress has the power to force adherence to the treaty if it chooses to act. Email your two Senators and your Repr… https://t.co/E8Xlk1YNWv ->
  • RT @PrisonPolicy: More than 60 of the 95 local jails in Tennessee have eliminated in-person visits in favor of paid video calls. The impact… ->
  • RT @EricHaywood: You had more than enough room left in this tweet to include James Shaw, Jr.’s name. https://t.co/yfx4pONI4b ->
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tweets for 2018-12-01

December 2nd, 2018 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato
  • RT @TakedownMRAs: Reminder that consent is ongoing and can be withdrawn at any time.

    And that Fathers for Justice is a trash anti-feminist… ->

  • Dog Sexually Assaulted by Gang Deserves Justice https://t.co/v01AfF8WFo ->
  • RT @awgaffney: Here’s a fact for you this fine Friday: the two economic analyses of Sanders’ single-payer bill now in existence — from econ… ->
  • Trump's Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta helped billionaire Jeffrey Epstein go free after sexually abusing dozen… https://t.co/0WKGQnOchk ->

tweets for 2018-11-30

December 1st, 2018 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Book Review: How to Be Successful without Hurting Men’s Feelings by Sarah Cooper (2018)

November 30th, 2018 7:00 am by Kelly Garbato

“Conclusion: Be Threatening”

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARc for review through NetGalley.)

This book is not for men. And the title has little to do with how we make men feel. Instead, it’s about how we think we make men feel and how we are consumed by trying to make them feel a certain way or avoid feeling a certain way, as if that should be our number one concern.

So how do you be successful without hurting men’s feelings? You don’t. You be successful whether men’s feelings are hurt or not, because really that’s up to them, not you.

How to Be Successful without Hurting Men’s Feelings is, sadly, just as at home in 2018 as it would have been twenty-seven years ago, during the Anita Hill hearings. That thought fills me with rage – a potent expression of which is sarcasm. Luckily, How to Be Successful has that in spades.

With chapters on Communication (“How to Talk Like a Man but Still Be Seen as a Woman”), Ambition (“How to Advance Your Career Without Shoving It in Everyone’s Face”), and Leadership (“Non-threatening Leadership Strategies for Women”) How to Be Successful is a satirical guide to getting ahead in the corporate environment.

Most of the advice is directed at women, though a few chapters have a more gender-neutral, almost Dilbert-esque feel (minus the general assholery of Scott Adams); see, e.g., the chapter on “authenticity.” There are even some fun interactive elements, like blank pages for doodling out a mansplaining sesh; a choose-your-own-adventure chapter (would you rather: be liked or be successful?); and Men’s Achievement Stickers for allies (get in while the bar’s low, guys!).

Probably the most relevant chapter is that on harassment, namely, “How to Be Harassed Without Hurting His Career.” This one definitely pushes the book over the “would be funny if it wasn’t so damn depressing” line. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll blame the patriarchy.

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

tweets for 2018-11-29

November 30th, 2018 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Book Review: The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark (2018)

November 27th, 2018 7:00 am by Kelly Garbato

This is the alt history Confederacy story you’re looking for.

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through NetGalley. Trigger warning for racism.)

The magic of those old Afrikin gods is part of this city, ma maman used to say, buried in its bones and roots with the slaves that built it, making the ground and air and waterways sacred land. Only we forgot the names that went with that power we brought over here. Since Haiti got free, though, those gods were coming back, she’d said, across the waters, all the way from Lafrik. Now here’s two of them in a bordello in New Orleans. Who knows what that means.

The year is 1884, and the Union is still divided. In this alternate steampunk version of American history, the Union and Confederacy called a truce after eight years of war, in the Armistice of Third Antietam. Any states not already a part of the Union were abandoned, its enslaved citizens left to perish in bondage. As if the reality of slavery wasn’t (isn’t) horrific enough, Clark throws in an especially chilling detail, reminiscent of the Sunken Place: slave owners dose their human chattel with a drug called drapeto vapor, which zombifies them into compliance.

I’ve seen the tintype photographs from inside the Confederacy. Shadowy pictures of fields and factories filled with laboring dark bodies, their faces almost all covered up in big black gas masks, breathing in that drapeto vapor. It make it so the slaves don’t want to fight no more, don’t want to do much of nothing. Just work. Thinking about their faces, so blank and empty, makes me go cold inside.

Against this backdrop we meet a plucky AF heroine, thirteen-year-old Creeper (given name Jacqueline). Orphaned three years prior when her mother died of yellow fever, Creeper lives in the nooks and crannies of Les Grand Murs, the Great Wall that surrounds free New Orleans, protecting it from the superstorms that plague the coast – ever since the Haitians let loose a supernatural weapon called The Black God’s Drums in order to drive Napoleon and the French from their country.

While hiding in her alcove, scoping out some potential marks, Creeper overhears a plot to deliver a Haitian scientist to the Confederacy. Supposedly this Dr. Duval has found a way to recreate The Black God’s Drums, thus unleashing the power of the Gods here on earth once again. With such a powerful weapon in their hands, the Confederacy could actually win the war. Now it’s up to a tween pickpocket, an airship captain named Ann-Marie St. Augustine (previously her mother’s paramour), a pair of renegade nuns, and a feral child descended from plantation owners to foil the plot and save the day.

And oh, let’s not forget the two sister-wife goddesses (or pieces of goddesses, rather) that have attached themselves to Creeper and Ann-Marie.

The Black God’s Drums is amazing, and my only complaint is that we don’t get to spend more time in the spectacularly captivating world Clark has created here. While Creeper shines (I’m a sucker for girls disguised as boys), every single character is multi-dimensional and engaging. I really love the interplay between Creeper and Ann-Marie – and their goddesses, Oya and Oshun. The relationship between Ann-Marie and Rose adds another layer to an already complex situation. And Sisters Agnès and Eunice are all kinds of awesome.

Clark paints a colorful and vibrant picture of 1884 New Orleans, from the mixed-race and gay-friendly bordello Shá Rouj to the crumbling plantations claimed by the swamps. The alternate history is fascinating, though it’s frustrating that we don’t learn more about the circumstances leading up to (and fallout of) the treaty; I really, really hope that The Black God’s Drums won’t be the only glimpse we get into this ‘verse. The titular Black God’s Drums, particularly how Clark weaves it into Haitian history, is just the icing on the cake.

I need more. Maybe a twenty-something Jacqueline, now a college graduate and bonafide member of the Midnight Robber, helping Ann-Marie and the rest of the crew to take down the Confederacy for good? Bonus points if guerilla fighter Harriet Tubman makes a cameo. Not to typecast her, but Aisha Hinds has to play Tubman in the film version. (She’s just too perfect, once you see the monologue episode of Underground you won’t ever be able to picture anyone else as Minty.)

And yes, this needs to be a movie like yesterday. Get on this, Hollywood.

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

Book Review: Watersnakes by Antonio Sandoval (2018)

November 23rd, 2018 7:00 am by Kelly Garbato

A swing and a near-miss.

three out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through Edelweiss.)

Mila is swimming in the forest when she meets a mysterious girl named Agnes. By way of introduction, the mischievous Agnes shouts “water snake!,” causing Mila to jump from the water in fright. For her part, Mila is inexplicably drawn to Agnes’s teeth. If this all sounds weird, welcome to the world of Watersnakes.

Turns out Agnes has been dead for eleven years. Within her resides a black octopus/the former king of the sea. Her teeth are his warriors, determined to restore their ruler to his throne. I’d be worried that I’m dropping spoilers right and left here, if the book’s synopsis hadn’t already spilled the beans.

I wanted to fall in love with Watersnakes – I mean, just look at that friggin’ cover! – but alas, it is a swing and a miss.

Pros: The artwork. MY GODS, the artwork. It’s apologetically weird and occasionally surreal and grotesque, but always in the most beautiful way. It also contains one of my favorite horror tropes – SHE’S BEEN DEAD FOR YEARS!!! – and the LGBTQ elements immediately captured my interest, but…

Cons: The plot is terribly, frustratingly underdeveloped at best, and downright confusing at times. Worse: the FF romance is undermined by a kinda-sorta case of mistaken identity (no want!). Worst: When “picnic hunting” – i.e., dressing in papier-mâché animal masks and robbing an unsuspecting family of their picnic snacks – Mila pinches the ass of (read: sexually assaults) a fellow teen girl. I shit you not, I did about a dozen double takes, damn near certain I had misread the panel. (I didn’t.) Gross.

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)