tweets for 2015-10-03

October 4th, 2015 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Stacking the Shelves: September in Books

October 3rd, 2015 12:00 pm by Kelly Garbato

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The special Queers Destroy Horror! edition of Nightmare Magazine arrived on October 1st – right on the dot! (Rennie is uncharacteristically unimpressed.) Now I’m just waiting for Queers Destroy Fantasy, which comes out in December.

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September was a huge month for pre-orders! Amazon “only” messed up 40% of them: The Golden Compass was late (thanks USPS!), so they gave me a free month of Prime; and Amazon packaged Buffy with two other, completely unrelated orders – one of which was a two-pound bag of arrowroot powder – and of course the cover got all scuffed up in transit. Like, who wouldathunkit? One scathing email later and I got a refund on all the three items. Which is pretty rad, I won’t lie, but all I really want is for them to up their packaging game. It seems like I have a problem ever fourth or fifth order at this point. ARGH.

Remember when they shrink-wrapped books to a sturdy cardboard backing? Those were the days…

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Soooo excited for this one! I almost requested it on NetGalley, but the crafty-book-is-crafty, interview-style format made me nervous. (I had such awful luck with Illuminae; even on the iPad, the “scanned documents” were nearly unreadable. I ended up just preordering a finished copy.) Luckily Shelf Awareness came through for me!

(By the by, there aren’t any graphics in the ARC, so it looks like it should do okay on an e-reader.)

(More below the fold…)

tweets for 2015-10-02

October 3rd, 2015 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Mini-Review: Moletown, Torben Kuhlmann (2015)

October 2nd, 2015 7:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Stunning Artwork, but the Ending Comes a Little Too Soon

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic copy of this book from review through NetGalley.)

The story of Moletown begins with a lone mole, who tunneled underneath a lush, wild meadow. He was quickly joined by other moles. Content to live simply at first, development slowly spun out of control – and before they knew it, the green fields above their heads had been reduced to barren earth. Meanwhile, the tunnels below grew crowded, the air choked by cars and industry. (Much of which has a wonderful steampunk vibe.) On the brink of collapse, the moles saved their underground paradise at the 11th hour, thanks to a series of green initiatives.

The artwork here is absolutely breathtaking. DO NOT READ THIS ON A KINDLE. Seriously, you’d be downplaying the best part. Kuhlmann’s tiny mole protagonists are simply adorable, and his cityscapes are quite lovely. (Almost deceptively so, given the moral of the story.) He manages to take a mostly monochromatic landscape and imbue it with life and excitement. The story’s presented as a history of Moletown, complete with scrapbook-style pages at the beginning and end. If you can, spring for the hardcover edition: Moletown is a piece of artwork that’s meant to be held, stroked, and savored. Otherwise read it on a laptop, iPad, or similar: anything with generous screen size and color capabilities. A Kindle doesn’t come anywhere close to doing Kuhlmann’s art justice.

Less impressive are the solutions promised in the final pages. The text is quite sparse – there’s only six sentences in the entire book – and Kuhlmann lets his illustrations do the talking. For the most part, this works magically. But the end could have been a little longer, I think. The moles’ climate change initiatives are presented as snapshots at the end of the scrapbook; those positioned on the top and bottom are cut off, and others are partially obscured by overlapped photos, such that they’re difficult to fully make out. Best I can tell, the solutions include wind energy, planting flowers, and preserving green space – not exactly a recipe for change. (The ending is so abrupt at first I thought my review copy was damaged or incomplete!)

Buy it for the gorgeous artwork, but brainstorm some additional talking points for storytime with the kiddos.

(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 2015-10-01

October 2nd, 2015 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

2015 Dive Into Diversity & LGBT Reading Challenges: September Recap

October 1st, 2015 11:01 am by Kelly Garbato

This month’s Dive Into Diversity & LGBT Reading Challenge roundup comes with the usual disclaimer: In several instances, I’m not 100% certain that the book’s diverse enough to be included in the challenge (for example, how to judge a book of short stories? Is one or two diverse tales out of a dozen or more acceptable?) – so I’ve included a brief note about each book’s qualifications at the end of the post, so you can judge for yourself.

Pro tip: these notes may contain spoilers.


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(More below the fold…)

2015 Real Book Challenge: September Recap

October 1st, 2015 11:00 am by Kelly Garbato


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  • Plumdog by Emma Chichester Clark (2015); reviewed here
  • A Cup of Water Under My Bed: A Memoir by Daisy Hernandez (2015); review coming soon


  • tweets for 2015-09-30

    October 1st, 2015 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

    Twenty-Eight Little Kaylee & Jayne Things

    September 30th, 2015 12:00 pm by Kelly Garbato

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    I thought that continuing these birthday posts after you and Ralphie had passed would be difficult. And it was, for a while.

    But this year I found myself…smiling. Laughing, even. For the first time, the joy at having loved you outweighed the sadness of losing you. As I scrolled through years of pictures and memories, I felt an unexpected lightness in my heart. And also a paradoxical fullness. It’s a weird feeling. Nice, but strange and unfamiliar.

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    I think about you every day, my sweet girl.

    I see you, freshly sprung from jail and with a grin that’s as crazy as it is infectious, every time I gaze at Jayne.

    I see you in Mags’s face, especially her “get bent” expression, and in her fierce love for me.

    I see you in Rennie, sunbathing alone (or sometimes with Finnick) on the picnic table, or graciously accepting a good face scrubbing from Mags. (I know where you stand on THE MAGS ISSUE, but I think you’d be grateful on Rennie’s behalf, if only you could see how Mags cares for her in your absence.)

    I see you in bags of Dandies and pictures of baby seals and every Wonder Woman cartoon, ever.

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    Some days, I feel you in my heart, dancing an excited lawn dance just for me. Those days are the best days of them all.

    You are my daemon, forever and always.


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    There’s nothing I can say that will top Kaylee’s address, so I won’t even try. I do love you, even though I’m not always quick to show it. Although, to be fair, that’s usually on account of you’d rather I not. And that’s okay! I love you just the way you are, social awkwardness and all.

    Whenever you’re ready for that belly rub, I’ll be right here waiting.

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    (More below the fold…)

    Book Review: The Heart Goes Last: A Novel (Positron), Margaret Atwood (2015)

    September 30th, 2015 7:00 am by Kelly Garbato

    Tiptoe Through the Tulips

    four out of five stars

    (Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through Edelweiss. Trigger warning for rape and violence. This review contains clearly marked spoilers.)

    “Never mind which wife is whose,” says Jocelyn. “We can’t waste time on the sexual spaghetti.”

    How bad are things when you can get nostalgic about living in your car?

    The dystopian society at the heart of The Heart Goes Last is surprisingly mundane – which makes it all the more chilling. Stan and Charmaine live in the northeastern United States, which has been hit especially hard by the latest recession. Things went to ratshit seemingly overnight (“Someone had lied, someone had cheated, someone had shorted the market, someone had inflated currency. Not enough jobs, too many people.”). Charmaine’s company, an upscale retirement chain called Ruby Slippers, scaled back its eastern operations, leaving Charmaine out of a job; Stan’s position at Dimple Robotics soon followed. They held onto their cozy starter home as long as they could, but before you can say “outsourcing,” they’d lost that too. From solidly middle class to homeless, in the blink of an eye.

    Now they sleep in their car, surviving on the meager wages Charmaine earns waiting tables in a seedy bar, desperately searching for work and trying to stay ahead of the roving gangs of thieves and rapists that own the streets come nightfall. So when Charmaine spots an ad for the Positron Project – an experimental city/prison in Consilience – the two are understandably quick to sign their lives away. Full employment, zero crime, free housing – and the only way you can leave is in a pine box. But why would anyone want to abandon the safety of these walls to go back out there? You can’t eat freedom, yo.

    (More below the fold…)

    tweets for 2015-09-29

    September 30th, 2015 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

    Creamy Lemon-Dill Roasted Potato Salad

    September 29th, 2015 1:17 pm by Kelly Garbato

    2015-09-26 - Lemon-Dill Potato Salad - 0001 [flickr]

    An exaggerated hat tip to whoever shared this recipe on Facebook. (I think it was Mylène, but I can’t be sure.)

    I was a little skeptical of a potato salad absent both vegan mayo and dill pickles – both of which are potato salad staples, imho – but I gave it a shot, and you know what? IT WAS AMAZING. I love the idea of roasting potatoes instead of boiling them; not only is it easier (no more standing over a steaming pot, splashing hot water all over the place), but you get much more consistent results, without any potato loss.

    I didn’t have any baby potatoes, so I used four baking potatoes – a little more than the recommended two pounds – but the dressing seemed to be *just enough* for this amount. I also didn’t bother adding water to the dressing, but other than that I think I followed the recipe to a t.

    I usually prefer cold potato salad, but I’m with Janet – this tastes so much better when enjoyed warm.

    tweets for 2015-09-28

    September 29th, 2015 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

    Book Review: Menagerie, Rachel Vincent (2015)

    September 28th, 2015 7:00 am by Kelly Garbato

    “I deal in morality, not in law.”

    five out of five stars

    (Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through NetGalley. Trigger warning for rape and other forms of violence.)

    “She won’t serve her dish cold,” the oracle mumbled, almost giddy with joy as chill bumps rose all over her skin. “And two graves won’t be near enough…”

    What was I, if I had no name, no friends, no family, no job, no home, no belongings, and no authority over my own body? What could I be?

    In a sudden surreal moment of epiphany, I realized I was incubating not a child, but a cause.

    The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer? – Jeremy Bentham

    I have a curious affinity for circus stories: tales that unfold under the Big Top, or books starring carnival performers. Thus far 2015 has been a great year to be a fan of such stories. Kirsty Logan imagines a world vastly transformed by climate change in The Gracekeepers. After her parents were mauled to death by the captive bear featured in their act, North was forced to take up their show, alone – save for the bear’s cub, North’s only companion. Two orphans, traveling the world with the floating circus troupe known as Excalibur. Leslie Parry’s Church of Marvels follows Coney Island sideshow performer Odile Church as she travels to Manhattan in search of her sister, who fled The Church of Marvels when it burned to the ground, taking the sisters’ mother – and their livelihood – with them. In The Book of Speculation, Erika Swyler weaves an imaginative tale about a librarian named Simon who comes into possession of an old book – a circus ledger dating back to the 1700s. Only by unraveling its secrets can he lift the curse that’s plagued his family for generations. And then there’s Anna-Marie McLemore’s The Weight of Feathers – which I’m currently a quarter of the way into – a retelling of Romeo & Juliet featuring two rival families of performers, the Palomas (mermaids) and Corbeaus (tightrope walkers/tree climbers). There’s also The Wanderers, by Kate Ormand, which I didn’t enjoy nearly as much (I DNF’ed at 41%), but I’ll get to that one in a moment.

    (More below the fold…)

    tweets for 2015-09-27

    September 28th, 2015 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

    This Week in Pictures #19

    September 27th, 2015 1:55 pm by Kelly Garbato

    – SUNDAY –

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    Sunday night = movie night! We saw the YA combo: The Scorch Trials and Paper Towns.

    2015-09-20 - Going to the Drive-In - 0025 [flickr]

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    tweets for 2015-09-26

    September 27th, 2015 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

    tweets for 2015-09-25

    September 26th, 2015 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

    Book Review: Plumdog, Emma Chichester Clark (2015)

    September 25th, 2015 7:00 am by Kelly Garbato

    It’s a Dog’s Life

    three out of five stars

    (Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through Blogging for Books.)

    I know she means well but if I wasn’t on a lead – I would pretend I didn’t know her.

    Emma Chichester Clark is an illustrator, as well as the author of the Blue Kangaroo children’s series. She resides in London, along with her husband Rupert, and Plum, their whoosell (whippet + Jack Russell terrier + poodle) furkid. This is not Plum’s first brush with fame; she has been sharing her wry observations and flaunting her social engagements on the Plumdog blog since 2012. With a little help from Clark, of course: Plum may run the show, but she relies on her mom the artist to supply the illustrations. There’s only so much you can do sans opposable thumbs, dontchaknow.

    If Plumdog is any indication, I can almost guarantee that this adorable little dog is having more fun than you. Plumdog chronicles one year in the life of Plum: trips to Paris and Scotland; romps in the river with her canine friends Rocket, Esther, and Liffey; birthday parties and Christmas celebrations; errands to her mom’s publisher; working the room at book signings; brunches and tea parties; visits to the pet store and spa; and lots and lots of walks. There’s also some sad stuff, too, like the death of Plum’s human grandmother, and a cautionary tale of a dog who got into the holiday chocolate and died. And, oh yeah, the indignities of being peed on by a rival dog, and having the vet stick things up your bum. (*shudder*)

    (More below the fold…)

    tweets for 2015-09-24

    September 25th, 2015 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato