Archive: April 2016

Stacking the Shelves: April 2016

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

2016-04-26 - Gilda Stories - 0003 [flickr]

City Lights was nice enough to send me a copy of the expanded 25th anniversary edition of The Gilda Stories! This one’s been on my wishlist for at least a decade, so I am understandably stoked.

2016-04-26 - Gena-Finn - 0001 [flickr]

I won an ARC of Gena/Finn through Library Thing’s Early Reviewers program, but Chronicle Books accidentally sent me two copies! I guess I’ll donate the extra to RBC, since I already have a box going for them? Or maybe it’s time to host a giveaway?

2016-04-19 - Fuck That - 0001 [flickr]

From Blogging for Books: F*ck That: An Honest Meditation by Jason Headley. (Personally, I think Calm the F*ck Down! has more of a ring to it!)

2016-03-20 - Book Mail - 0002 [flickr]

An ARC of Some Possible Solutions: Stories by Helen Phillips, also for review through Library Thing. (I forgot to include this in last month’s roundup. Ooops!)

For review on NetGalley:

  • The Mermaid Girl: A Story by Erika Swyler
  • The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley
  • We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl®, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement by Andi Zeisler
  • The 100 Year Miracle: A Novel by Ashley Ream
  • The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North
  • Three-Year-Olds Are A**holes by Sarah Fader
  • The Unseen World by Liz Moore
  • The Many Selves of Katherine North by Emma Geen
  • The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis
  • Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
  • The Wolf in the Attic by Paul Kearney
  • What We Talk About When We Talk About Clone Club: Bioethics and Philosophy in Orphan Black by Gregory E. Pence
  • A Song to Take the World Apart by Zan Romanoff
  • Listen to Me by Hannah Pittard
    For review on Edelweiss:

  • A Robot In The Garden by Deborah Install
  • “All the Real Indians Died Off”: And 20 Other Myths About Native Americans by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker
  • The Underground Railroad: A Novel by Colson Whitehead
  • Night of the Animals: A Novel by Bill Broun
  • Gemini by Sonya Mukherjee

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    Saturday, April 30th, 2016

    Book Review: The Accident Season, Moïra Fowley-Doyle (2015)

    Friday, April 29th, 2016

    Superb idea, so-so execution…

    three out of five stars

    (Trigger warning for child abuse, domestic violence, and rape. This review contains clearly marked spoilers.)

    It’s the accident season, the same time every year. Bones break, skin tears, bruises bloom. Years ago my mother tried to lock us all up, pad the hard edges of things with foam and gauze, cover us in layers of sweaters and gloves, ban sharp objects and open flames. We camped out together in the living room for eight days, until the carefully ordered takeout food—delivered on the doorstep and furtively retrieved by my mother, who hadn’t thought how she would cook meals without the help of our gas oven—gave us all food poisoning and we spent the next twenty-four hours in the hospital. Now every autumn we stock up on bandages and painkillers; we buckle up, we batten down. We never leave the house without at least three protective layers. We’re afraid of the accident season. We’re afraid of how easily accidents turn into tragedies. We have had too many of those already.

    So let’s raise our glasses to the accident season,
    To the river beneath us where we sink our souls,
    To the bruises and secrets, to the ghosts in the ceiling,
    One more drink for the watery road.

    — 3.5 stars —

    I can’t remember the last time I had such mixed feelings about a novel.

    On the one hand, the story’s premise – every October the Morris-Fagan family is beset by a series of seemingly random accidents, from cuts and bruises to more serious calamities, like car accidents and drownings – is fabulous. The invention of a so-called “accident season” is creative and compelling and provides so many potential avenues of exploration. Are the accidents merely coincidence? Bad luck given meaning by a family who sees what it wants to see? (We humans have a way of forming patterns out of randomness.) A self-fulfilling prophecy? (The worst.) Or perhaps the accidents are the work of a sinister force, either supernatural or more worldly? (Not all monsters are nonhuman, you know.)

    The plot gets even weirder than the synopsis hints at with the introduction of Elsie, a plain Jane, mousey girl who mysteriously appears in all of Cara’s photographs – even those taken on a family vacation on the Mediterranean. As the accident season of her junior year draws to a close, the narrator Cara; her older sister Alice; their ex-step-brother Sam; and Cara’s best friend Bea scramble to find Elsie, who’s suddenly gone missing from school and whose presence/absence seems somehow connected to the family’s ill fortunes.

    (More below the fold…)

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    Friday, April 29th, 2016

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    Thursday, April 28th, 2016

    Book Review: Down With the Shine, Kate Karyus Quinn (2016)

    Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

    “May all your wishes come true, or at least just this one!”

    five out of five stars

    (Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through Edelweiss. Trigger warning for sexual assault.)

    “Lennie, you do know what your uncles and I do for a living, right?”

    I laugh more out of nervousness than anything else. “You sell moonshine and it’s illegal. And I know it was bad to take it to the party.”

    Uncle Jet looks angry now, but thankfully his stare isn’t directed at me. He’s pointing a finger at Uncle Dune. “I thought you talked to her. What was it . . . three or four years ago? You drew the short straw and then a few days later said you and Lennie had a good talk.”

    “I was gonna!” Uncle Dune roars. “But then you had to stick your nose in and tell her first!”

    “I sure as shit didn’t!” Uncle Jet shoots back. “Who told ya I did?”

    “Well, Lennie …” Uncle Dune’s voice trails off and once again the focus is on me. Worse, Uncle Dune is looking at me with a look reminiscent of Bambi after his mother got shot. “Lennie … you lied to me?”

    I gulp. “A little lie. I thought you were trying to give me the sex talk.”

    Michaela leaps, like her insane love for Todd is some kind of superpower, and lands with her body spread over Todd. Protecting him. Absorbing Zinkowski’s fall. Making sure that Zinkowski’s fingertips do not connect with Todd. That they find her instead.

    Michaela shimmers and glows orange. That lasts only for an instant, and then all three of them disappear in a sudden and explosive burst of orange cheese.

    Smith and I instinctively fall back, pulling our shirts up to cover our mouths and noses from the noxious smell.

    I wish I was making that up. I wish I was making all of this up.

    Tired of always playing it safe, Lennie Cash is determined to kick off her senior year with a bang. Armed with a case of her uncle’s infamous moonshine (“Hinkton Family Moonshine: Brewing It in Bathtubs and Selling It Out of the Living Room Since 1923”), Lennie plans to bribe her way into Michaela Gordon’s annual Labor Day party – and not only avoid an unceremonious bounce, but own that bad girl.

    It’s what her best friend Dylan would have wanted. Dyl, who loved her no matter what everyone else said about her criminal father, her sketchy uncles, or her low social standing. Dyl, who seized life by the balls and refused to let go. Dyl, who – just like Lennie – yearned for escape. Dyl, whose dismembered remains were found stuffed in a suitcase last April. Dylan with the hot twin, who now blames Lennie for his sister’s death.

    What Lennie doesn’t realize is that the Hinkton family moonshine isn’t just special – it’s downright magical. Her uncles Jet, Rod, and Dune have the power to grant wishes, and that’s what they’re really selling to the people who crowd their living room couch. As Lennie plays bartender for her classmates, making a show of repeating her uncles’ ritual, she unwittingly grants a whole slew of ill-conceived wishes, all of which will come true by sunup the next morning: Class predator W2 gets balls of steel. Little Seanie O’Hara is a little bit taller (and a baller), while emo Devon Stringer wakes up with a shiny new pair of bat wings. And (my personal favorite) stoner Zinkowski wishes for the Midas touch – but with Cheetos instead of gold. (CHEETOS ARE PEOPLE!)

    Worst of all, someone wishes for the party to never end, so all these newborn freaks are trapped together in the chaos of Michaela’s mansion until Lennie can find a way to undo the chaos she caused. All while being pursued by her sociopath of a father – and stuck, hand-in-hand, with Dylan’s grieving brother Smith.

    (More below the fold…)

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    Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

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    Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

    Book Review: Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1), Sylvain Neuvel (2016)

    Monday, April 25th, 2016

    Already jonesing for the sequel!

    five out of five stars

    (Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through NetGalley. Possible trigger warning for medical rape.)

    My deepest wish is for this discovery to redefine alterity for all of us.
    The concept of “otherness”. What I am is very much a function of what I am not. If the “other” is the Muslim world, then I am the Judeo-Christian world. If the other is from thousands of light-years away, I am simply human. Redefine alterity and you can erase boundaries.

    Definitely a girl! I couldn’t stop grinning when they brought the chest in. Her breasts aren’t that large, given her size, but they’re still bigger than my car. Perky … She must have been the envy of all the giant girl[s] back in her day.

    —You’ve seen her a thousand times. She’s blindfolded holding a scale in one hand and a sword in the other.
    —Is that who we call Lady Justice?
    —More or less.

    On her eleventh birthday, little Rose Franklin takes her new bike out for a spin in Deadwood, South Dakota…and ends up falling into what appears to be a massive crater. Only the walls are decorated in mysterious hieroglyphics, and at the bottom sits a giant metal hand.

    Seventeen years later, Dr. Rose Franklin – now a physicist – finds herself at the University of Chicago, in charge of studying the very hand that cradled her so many years ago. It turns out that the hand is just one piece of a much larger puzzle (a message? a statue? a spaceship? a robot? all of the above?), and someone – or something – scattered the other dozen-odd pieces around the globe. Primed to react to argon-37, some of the pieces have begun “activating” now that humans have discovered how to “tap the power of the atom,” as it were, causing metal body parts to ascend to the earth’s surface from their hiding places some 900 feet underground. A phenomenon U.S. Army pilots Kara Resnick and Ryan Mitchell stumble onto quite unwittingly when their plane loses power over a pistachio field in Harran, Turkey – and crash lands right next to a forearm.

    (More below the fold…)

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    Monday, April 25th, 2016

    (Slightly Modified, Almost) Fat-Free Minestrone

    Sunday, April 24th, 2016

    2016-03-20 - VI Minnestrone - 0007 [flickr]

    I enjoyed this soup more than a month ago and finally decided to share it. (IBTD. D, as in depression. It saps you of your will, man.)

    Anyway, it’s another one from Donna Klein’s Vegan Italiano: (Almost) Fat-Free Minestrone. Modified by me, because I am a fussy, hard to please mofo.

    This recipe calls for zucchini, which I didn’t have, and celery, which I don’t like: so I swapped them both out for more carrots, which I have in spades and love love love. It also has shredded cabbage – two cups – but I used pulverized spinach instead (hence the soup’s dark, greenish color).

    I’ve been trying to sneak spinach into more and more dishes. It amazes me how some of the prominent, healthy vegan bloggers I follow can (claim to?) consume a pound of leafy greens a day. Like, I can’t even. How do you find the time to eat anything else?

    I guess that, when you cook them, they wilt down to a more manageable volume. But I either have to eat my leafy greens fresh and crunchy or shredded until they’re unrecognizable; easily mistaken for spices. Cooked greens have a texture entirely too similar to spoiled greens for my taste.

    Luckily, since spinach doesn’t have a strong taste, it’s easy to slip into other foods. Pasta sauce is a favorite, and when combined with basil it goes well in pesto. I’ve even made banana ice cream with a hint o’ spinach!

    Since this minestrone has cabbage, I figured it’d be an easy swap – and it was! Aside from the coloring, you don’t even notice that the spinach is there. My food processor made such quick work of the spinach that it looks like extra basil. Like, a crazy amount of basil!

    The soup is savory and filling, like minestrone should be. There aren’t a ridiculous amount of ingredients – Klein’s recipes are usually pretty simple and no-nonsense – and the whole thing doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to throw together. (Although you do start out by simmering the veggies for an hour, so there’s that. But there’s very little babysitting involved!)

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    Sunday, April 24th, 2016

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    Saturday, April 23rd, 2016
    • 📷 florenceofalabia: etcillustration: kevinwada: micdotcom: Watch: Complaining about political… ->
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    • 77% done with Winter, by Marissa Meyer ->
    • (More below the fold…)

    Book Review: The Star-Touched Queen, Roshani Chokshi (2016)

    Friday, April 22nd, 2016

    Oh my stars!

    five out of five stars

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

    Staring at the sky in Bharata was like exchanging a secret. It felt private, like I had peered through the veil of a hundred worlds. When I looked up, I could imagine—for a moment—what the sky hid from everyone else. I could see where the winds yawned with silver lips and curled themselves to sleep. I could glimpse the moon folding herself into crescents and half-smiles. When I looked up, I could imagine an existence as vast as the sky. Just as infinite. Just as unknown.

    “I want your perspective and honesty,” he said, before adding in a softer voice, “I want to be humbled by you.”

    Heat flared in my cheeks. I paused, the stick in my hand falling a fraction. Perspective and honesty? Humbled by me? Rajas never asked for anything other than sons from their consorts.

    “My kingdom needs a queen,” he said. “It needs someone with fury in her heart and shadows in her smile. It needs someone restless and clever. It needs you.”

    “You know nothing about me.”

    “I know your soul. Everything else is an ornament.”

    In the kingdom of Bharata, seventeen-year-old Mayavati is known as “the one with the horoscope” – cursed by cold, distant stars that promise a marriage of Death and Destruction. Maya is something of an outcast; though her father the Raj doesn’t place any credence in such superstitions, the Raj’s harem and the larger realm believe that one’s horoscope speaks the truth, if only we mortals deign to listen. And so Maya is scorned, treated like an outcast and a pariah, and blamed for the realm’s misfortunes, large and small.

    Yet her morbid horoscope also promises Maya a life of (relative) freedom: unlike her many half-sisters, Maya is not expected to marry. Instead, she delves into academia, burying her nose in the kingdom’s dusty archives and delighting in chasing away a series of stuffy old tutors. She looks forward to becoming a “scholarly old maid” – better than being sold into a marriage of political convenience, just one of many wives left to beg scraps of attention from a near-stranger, no?

    (More below the fold…)

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    Friday, April 22nd, 2016

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    Thursday, April 21st, 2016

    Book Review: Wink Poppy Midnight, April Genevieve Tucholke (2016)

    Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

    A Different Kind of Fairy Tale

    five out of five stars

    There was an evil in me too, a cruel streak. I don’t know where it came from and I didn’t really want it, no more than I’d want big feet or mousy brown hair or a piggish nose. But fuck it. If I’d been born with a piggish nose, then I would own it, like I own the cruel and the mean.

    THE FIRST TIME I slept with Poppy, I cried. We were both sixteen, and I’d been in love with her since I was a kid, since I was still reading monster comics and spending too much time practicing sleight-of-hand tricks because I wanted to be a magician. People say you can’t feel real love that young, but I did. For Poppy.

    I’d put out a trap in the woods.
    I’d caught a wolf.
    And now it was screaming.
    If Poppy was the Wolf, and Midnight was the Hero . . .
    Then who was I?


    Poppy Harvey is as beautiful as she is cruel. You could call her a bully or a mean girl – or even THE Mean Girl – but neither does Poppy justice: she’s more like a cross between Regina George and Dexter Morgan, with the snotty, rich girl attitude of the former and the sociopathic tendencies of the latter. She once chopped off Holly Trueblood’s white-blonde hair at the skull – “all because someone said that Holly’s hair was prettier than her own.” Poppy’s the kind of girl who could grind your face in the dirt and then charge you for the privilege of spending time with her. She is the Queen and the Temptress and the Wolf, all rolled into one.

    With silky, golden blonde hair, milky white skin, and a knack for social manipulation, Poppy is loved/adored/worshiped by adults and teenagers alike. All but one: Leaf Bell, the oldest and fiercest of the Orphans. Leaf sees beyond Poppy’s surface beauty, all the way down into the ugly, black rottenness of her heart – and he despises her for it. Naturally, Poppy is hopelessly in love with him.

    (More below the fold…)

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    Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

    Barley Soup with Roasted Red Peppers and Mushrooms

    Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

    2016-04-19 - VI Barley Soup - 0001 [flickr]

    Can you believe that I’d never had mushroom barley soup before last night? It seems like all the canned versions contain milk. Or maybe that’s just an excuse, and I’d been too persnickety to bother up until now. Either way, I have been MISSING. OUT.

    This recipe’s from Donna Klein’s Vegan Italiano, which I love more and more with each passing meal. (I make the Green Beans with Tomatoes and Garlic so often that I have the recipe memorized.) It’s easy to throw together, with less than a dozen ingredients and only about 35 minutes of cooking time. And if you let it simmer a little long, don’t worry: it’s very flexible! It’s nearly impossible to overcook.

    I had to make a special trip to find quick-cooking barley and roasted red peppers, but it was so worth it. (Usually I roast my own peppers, but I wanted to get the weight just right.) It’s hearty and savory, and much more flavorful than I expected, given that there are only a few spices.

    The leftovers are heating up on the stove top as I write this. I may or may not have drooled on my keyboard while typing that last line. THE VISUALS.

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    Tuesday, April 19th, 2016