tweets for 2015-04-17

April 18th, 2015 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Book Review: Normal: A Novel, Graeme Cameron (2015)

April 17th, 2015 11:25 am by Kelly Garbato

I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel.

three out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic copy of this book for review through NetGalley. Trigger warning for suicide and violence, including attempted rape.)

The truth is I hurt people. It’s what I do. It’s all I do. It’s all I’ve ever done. I’m not…normal.

It’s a rare and fortunate man who can pinpoint precisely the moment his life began to unravel.

Mr. Normal (is it okay if I call you that, unnamed narrator?) is in the midst of an existential crisis. After a lifetime of killing people – mostly women, but occasionally men as needed, starting with his own father – Mr. Normal is in love.

Her name is Rachel, and she works as a cashier at the 24-7 grocery he often frequents. She escaped death twice: once in a car wreck that claimed the life of her younger sister, and again when she slit her wrists a few months later. She’s got dirty blonde hair and an infectious laugh and, bizarrely, she feels the same about him.

But life’s not a fairy tale, and as much as Rachel makes Mr. Normal want to renounce his serial killing ways, there’s just one problem: Erica Shaw, the twenty-year-old woman currently imprisoned in his basement dungeon.

Wait, make that two: the local police may or may not be onto him.

(More below the fold…)

tweets for 2015-04-16

April 17th, 2015 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Mini-Review: Bob’s Burgers, Chad Brewster (2015)

April 16th, 2015 11:31 am by Kelly Garbato

“It’s alive! The Butt is alive!”

four out of five stars

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

3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 where necessary.

My husband introduced me to Bob’s Burgers right before the start of Season 5, and I promptly binge-watched it on Netflix in all of a week.

There’s just so much to love: The burger puns, of course. (SO MANY BURGER PUNS. I may or may not do a Bob’s Burgers theme one of these VeganMoFos.) The butts. (SO MANY BUTTS.) In Tina, a complex, fully realized teenage girl who’s neither denigrated not mocked for her love of horses, fan fic, boy bands, and (wait for it) butts. (Think of how The Family Guy treats Meg, and then imagine the complete opposite.) The evil, scheming genius that is Louise (voiced by a wonderfully screechy Kristen Schaal). Gene and his burger suit. Linda and her penchant for wine.

If you’re a fan of the show, you’ll love the comic book; if you’re not a fan, you might get a kick out of the weird humor anyway, and then go DVR Bob’s Burgers for good measure. (Sunday nights at 7:30 Eastern, yo!) Not only are the comics considered canon, but there’s quite a bit of crossover and continuity between the two (exhibit A: Boo-Boo from Boyz 4 Now).

This collection (and I hope there are more!) includes Issues 1-5, each of which has the following features:
* Tina’s Erotic Friend Fiction
* Burger of the Day Ideas
* Louise’s Unsolved Mysteries and Curious Curiosities
* Letters from Linda
* Gene Belcher Presents

The humor perfectly mirrors that of the show; it’s easy to picture any one of these stories turned into a full-length episode (or, in the case of Bob and Linda’s smaller contributions, featured as a gag). Just as with the show, I have a pretty strong preference for Tina’s Erotic Friend Fic (Battleship Galac-tina, I would watch the crap out of you), Louise’s Unsolved Mysteries (“Louise’s Legacy,” you give me feelings), and Bob’s Burger of the Day Ideas (book-inspired burgers for the win!).

The collection also includes a number of issue covers and pin-up art, all of which are hella fun – colorful, visually striking, and just generally in keeping with the aesthetic of the show. All it’s missing is Gayle and a new installation of her animal butt art.

(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 2015-04-15

April 16th, 2015 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

DNF Review: The Dead Lands, Benjamin Percy (2015)

April 15th, 2015 12:30 pm by Kelly Garbato

Didn’t hold my interest.

three out of five stars

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

DNF at 45%.

As far as they know, the citizens of the Sanctuary – located in what was once downtown St. Louis – are all that’s left of humanity. It’s been 150 years since the H3L1 flu (HELL – get it?) brought about the apocalypse; and several generations since a refugee has approached the Sanctuary’s towering wall, begging for admittance (only to be shot on sight). Surrounded by a desert wasteland crawling with monstrous mutations, squeezed on all sides by an unrelenting drought, what was meant as a place of asylum has devolved into a prison of sorts, marred by hunger, poverty, and inequity.

While some still dare to dream – of connecting with other communities, traveling to places where water falls freely, perhaps one day rebuilding the United States of America – giving voice to one’s hopes has become increasingly dangerous since Thomas Lancer was elected Mayor. Once reserved for murderers and rapists, public executions have become a means of silencing dissent.

But when a strange young woman, with eyes as wide and black as night, arrives at the gate bearing a cryptic letter, a small group of defectors decides to hasten their escape plan. Led by Wilhelmina “Mina” Clark, a sentry/ranger, and Lewis Meriwether (Lewis and Clark – get it?), the curator of the Sanctuary’s museum who seems to possess powers every bit as weird as those of the foreigner Gawea, the group sets off for Gawea’s home in Oregon, battling giant spiders and human-sized bats along the way.

(More below the fold…)

tweets for 2015-04-14

April 15th, 2015 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Buying in Bulk, White vs. Red vs. Black Quinoa, and a Recipe for Savory Red Lentil and Quinoa Bolognese

April 14th, 2015 12:02 pm by Kelly Garbato

Red and Yellow Quinoa, Lago Titicaca

Red and Yellow Quinoa, Lago Titicaca; CC image via twiga_269 on Flickr.

You guys know how much I love ye ole bulk food stores, right? Back when I started that “frugal vegans” series a few VeganMoFos ago (which sadly turned out to be fairly short-lived, since I exhausted all my ideas in under a month), buying in bulk was one of my top/most popular tips.

Whether you’re prepping for the apocalypse or just trying to save some money, buying in bulk can be a great option. Don’t have an underground bunker in which to store all those tubs of extra goodies? Pair up with a friend or two and split your haul!

So when Alexa from IFS Bulk got in touch, I jumped at the chance to try out some of their products and create a few original recipes.* With everything from black chia seeds to dried currants and mammoth pecan halves (my favorite!) to choose from, it was hard to whittle it down. In the end, I went with red quinoa and hazelnut flour. We’ll discuss the hazelnut flour another day (spoiler alert: there will be vegan Nutella!); today it’s all about the quinoa.

Prior to this, I wasn’t even aware that quinoa came in different colors – red and black in addition to the more popular white. What’s the difference?, you might be asking. Good question! I wanted to know too, so I did a little research, and here’s what I found.

(More below the fold…)

tweets for 2015-04-13

April 14th, 2015 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Book Review: Watch the Sky, Kirsten Hubbard (2015)

April 13th, 2015 12:56 pm by Kelly Garbato

“We’re both made of stars, Jory Birch. Everybody is.”

three out of five stars

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

Signs were everywhere.

Everywhere and anywhere, Caleb said. That was the problem. They came at any time. And they could be almost anything.

Red leaves in the springtime. Pages torn from a library book. All the fish in an aquarium facing the same way. A cracked egg with twin yolks.

“How do you know?” Jory had asked his stepdad once. “I mean, how do you know you’re seeing a sign? Instead of a bunch of coincidental fish?”

“You’ll just know,” Caleb had replied.

Caleb was fickle with explanations. Sometimes he shared them. Sometimes he didn’t. But he had no problem giving orders – mostly camouflaged as suggestions.

Eleven-year-old Jory Birch has been looking for signs for the better part of five years – ever since his stepfather, Caleb, swooped in and “saved” him and his mother. From what, Jory’s not exactly sure.

A veteran who served “in a desert war Jory didn’t know much about,” Caleb is convinced that something’s coming. Something big. That’s why he moved his family – mom; Jory; and Jory’s younger siblings, Kit and Ansel – to the farm at the edge of town. Why mom spends most of her day picking and preserving cucumbers and squash from the garden; why Caleb is growing a stockpile in the locked barn; why the kids are discouraged from socializing with outsiders or confiding in anyone outside of the family. Jory’s life is a maze of secrets – secrets which become increasingly harder to keep once Jory starts fifth grade and finds himself (gasp!) making friends: with the affable Erik Dixon and outgoing Alice Brooks-Diaz.

(More below the fold…)

tweets for 2015-04-12

April 13th, 2015 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Mini-Review: A Tale of Two Daddies, Vanita Oelschlager, Kristin Blackwood & Mike Blanc (2010)

April 12th, 2015 12:11 pm by Kelly Garbato

Bold & Vivid Graphics Paired with a Sweet & Simple Message

four out of five stars

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

When a young girl’s classmate inquires about her two daddies, the pair go through a rhyming checklist of tasks to see which daddy – Poppa or Daddy – will likely come to her aid in each scenario.

Who’s the dad who helps with homework?
And which dad helps when you’re covered in dirt?
Both my dads help with my math.
But Poppa’s the dad who helps in the bath.

While it soon becomes clear that each father has his own special strengths and areas of expertise (just as with same-sex couples), there’s no shortage of TLC in this family.

This picture book pairs catchy verses with bold, vivid digital graphics to impart a message that’s as simple as it is (sadly) necessary. It’s a heartwarming little book that’s sure to appeal to younger readers.

Though I feel a little weird singling out a book with such a small cast of characters (two; four if you include the dads, who only appear as disembodied arms and legs) for lack of racial diversity, I think it’s worth noting that the girl and her friend are both light-skinned – a fact which might limit this book’s appeal to white families.

I viewed this on my laptop (a .pdf file accessed through NetGalley) – but the artwork is so clean, and the text so sparse, that it seems like it should be easy to read on a Kindle as well. That said, you’re sure to get the maximum aesthetic impact with a PC, laptop, iPad, or similar device.

(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 2015-04-11

April 12th, 2015 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

tweets for 2015-04-10

April 11th, 2015 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Book Review: Last of the Sandwalkers, Jay Hosler (2015)

April 10th, 2015 11:17 am by Kelly Garbato

A Heroine Like No Other!

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review from the publisher.)

I find myself thinking about this hue-mon all of the time. I wonder if it ever thought about us?

Was there room in here for thoughts about beetles?

Did it ever wonder how some glow?

Or spray liquid fire?

Or dance on water?

Or drink fog?

Maybe someday, if a hue-mon reads this journal, it will help them appreciate all of the amazing little aliens living underfoot.

Lucy may “just” be a junior faculty member at Colepolis University – and a beetle, to boot – but she’s about to change the way her people view the world. Reluctantly granted funding by the scientific ministry, Lucy’s leading a team of five scientist-explorers out into the great unknown – the vast desert that lies beyond the oasis where their coconut tree grows. Colepolis is home, and all its beetle citizens know of the world – all its elite ruling class allows them to know – is contained within its borders. That is, until Lucy breaks with years of tradition and superstition, and insists on proving that the world is more complex and wonderful than they can possibly imagine.

(More below the fold…)

tweets for 2015-04-09

April 10th, 2015 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

tweets for 2015-04-08

April 9th, 2015 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Book Review: The Glass Arrow, Kristen Simmons (2015)

April 8th, 2015 11:16 am by Kelly Garbato

Meet The Handmaid’s Tale’s Younger YA Cousin

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review from the publisher. Trigger warning for rape – including allusions to rape, at least one rape attempt, medical rape, and general rape culture – human trafficking, slavery, and violence.)

My ma taught me one thing from the beginning: My body is mine. My own. No one else’s. Just because someone thinks they have rights to it, doesn’t make it true. I thought I understood that before, but here, in this place, it’s become more clear than ever how right she was. My flesh and blood – it’s the only thing I own, and I’ll defend it until I can’t fight anymore.

Behind us are two or three dozen country people from the outlying towns. With them are cages of chicken and goats, sheep, even cattle. That’s where we fit on market day. Between the executions and the livestock sales.

Fifteen-year-old Aiyana (Aya to her family; Clover to her captors) is a rarity – a free woman living in the forests of Isor. Along with her mostly-adopted family – her cousin Salma; fellow refugee Metea; and Metea’s children, Bian, Tam, and Nina – Aya hunts and gathers the food she needs, prays to Mother Hawk for guidance, and just generally goes about her business, all while evading detection by the feared Trackers.

In the nearby city of Glasscaster, women are items to be bought and sold. Property. Slaves. Young women may be purchased for sex (read: rape) or for breeding, only to be foisted off on pimps in the Black Lanes after they’re all “used up.” Along with “First Rounders” (read: virgins), “wild girls” are among the most valuable of them all – not only do Magnates take especial pleasure in breaking these formerly free women down, but their time outside of the city and its attendant pollution has blessed them with superior fertility. Lucky them.

(More below the fold…)

tweets for 2015-04-07

April 8th, 2015 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Book Review: Etta and Otto and Russell and James, Emma Hooper (2015)

April 7th, 2015 12:11 pm by Kelly Garbato

“…there are reasons to come home.”

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received an ARC for review through Goodreads’s First Reads program.)

He didn’t ask, where are you going, or why are you going. He turned back around to face where the deer might be. She walked on, east. In her bag, pockets, and hands were:

Four pairs of underwear.
One warm sweater.
Some money.
Some paper, mostly blank, but one page with addresses on it and one page with names.
One pencil and one pen.
Four pairs of socks.
A small loaf of bread.
Six apples.
Ten carrots.
Some chocolate.
Some water.
A map, in a plastic bag.
Otto’s rifle, with bullets.
One small fish skull.

One morning, Etta Gloria Kinnick (“of Deerdale farm. 83 years old in August.”) wakes early, before sunrise, well ahead of her husband Otto (“Vogel. Soldier/Farmer.”), and decides that she wants to see the ocean. Specifically, the Atlantic. Born and raised in land-locked Saskatchewan, she’s never dipped so much as a toe in such a vast body of water; let alone the Atlantic, which has nevertheless managed to play a major role in shaping the course of Etta’s life from afar.

When her older sister Alma became pregnant – back in the “good old days,” when unwed mothers were to be shamed and pitied – she fled to a convent on Prince Alberta Island, in order to have the baby in secret and put him up for adoption. Etta never saw her again.

During Alma’s brief stint as a nun, she witnessed a wave of young men – boys, mostly – depart Canada’s shore, swarm over the island, and drift out to sea. Out to war, many of them never to return; the rest, finally coming home bloodied and broken. Among them was 17-year-old Otto – Etta’s former pupil and eventual husband. When he left, she promised to write to him – so he could practice his underdeveloped English skills. They fell in love from opposite sides of the globe.

(More below the fold…)