Archive: October 2016

tweets for 2016-10-17

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

Book Review: Cold-Forged Flame (Ree Varekai #1), Marie Brennan (2016)

Monday, October 17th, 2016

“The more you remember … the more you might end up losing.”

four out of five stars

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

The sound of the horn pierces the apeiron, shattering the stillness of that realm. Its clarion call creates ripples, substance, something more. It is a summons, a command. There is will. There is need. And so, in reply, there is a woman.

Who has she been, that she recalls so many revolutions?

A woman wakes on a slab of stone, surrounded by the strangers who summoned her. She has no memories, no sense of self, no compass pointing her home … assuming she has one to go to. What she does posses are quick reflexes, a warrior’s instinct, and a healthy distrust of those who bound her to their will, brought her into being to serve as a tool, or a slave.

Her task: retrieve a vial of blood from the cauldron of the Lhian. If she succeeds, she will earn her freedom. Failure means death.

Lhian’s cauldron is located in a cave, in a mountain, on an island. But this is no ordinary island; rather, it’s a place where the landscape shifts and changes, sabers are made of moonlight, and dreams turned sour manifest as physical beasts that can fell a flesh and blood human. The island may or may not be a sentient being, testing those who dare set foot upon it. Either way, the forest has eyes. Yet the narrator’s greatest obstacle may very well be herself – the self she doesn’t know, cannot grasp, isn’t sure she even wants to.

(More below the fold…)

tweets for 2016-10-16

Monday, October 17th, 2016

tweets for 2016-10-15

Sunday, October 16th, 2016

tweets for 2016-10-14

Saturday, October 15th, 2016

Book Review: Yesternight, Cat Winters (2016)

Friday, October 14th, 2016

Supernatural horror + timeless misogyny = a compelling creepshow.

four out of five stars

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

Dreamt I to-day the dream of yesternight,
Sleep ever feigning one evolving theme,
— Of my two lives which should I call the dream?

—George Santayana, “Sonnet V,” 1896

Alice Lind,
Alice Lind,
Took a stick and beat her friend.
Should she die?
Should she live?
How many beatings did she give?

If I hadn’t been a psychologist—if I didn’t find the idea of reincarnation so absurd—I would have wanted Violet Sunday to exist.

A female mathematical genius.

A Victorian female mathematical genius.

What an absolutely delicious idea.

A school psychologist, Alice Lind spends her days traversing the western United States, administering psychological and intelligence tests to children and advising the Department of Education how it can better help students who are being under-served in their communities. While the work certainly goes to Alice’s desire to help kids – especially troubled ones like her younger self – too often she feels trapped, suffocated, and bored.

After obtaining her Master’s degree, Alice applied to multiple doctoral programs, with the hope of one day studying human memory – and its malleability and resilience, particularly where repressed memories are concerned. Despite her obvious skill and passion, Alice was rebuffed at every turn, only to watch her less qualified peers move on to bigger and better things. The year is 1925, you see, a time when higher education for women was considered a quirky anomaly at best – and a sinful rejection of one’s “God given” role as a woman at worst.

Our first glimpse of Miss Lind comes as she steps off the train and into her latest two-week placement at Gordon Bay, Oregon – by the special request of the schoolteacher, Miss Simpkin. Among her pupils is a precocious seven-year-old named Janie O’Daire (to whom Miss Simpkin is also known as “Aunt Tillie”), an exceptionally bright student and apparent math prodigy, who seems to experience memories of another life. A past life.

(More below the fold…)

tweets for 2016-10-13

Friday, October 14th, 2016

tweets for 2016-10-12

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

Book Review: The Secret Horses of Briar Hill, Megan Shepherd (2016)

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

“But there must be more out there. There must be brighter things.”

four out of five stars

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

When the princess had this place built, did she imagine that one day children would die here, crying so loud you could hear it even over a screaming kettle? Did she think, while she threw open the doors and let music pour onto the back lawn, that one day a black winged horse would circle around and around the roof, tirelessly, always on the hunt?

I eye him sideways. He doesn’t look like the type to fatten children for witches, but who does?

Young Emmaline is one of twenty-odd patients at Briar Hill hospital in Shropshire, a sort of emergency quarantine hospital for children suffering from tuberculosis – or “stillwaters,” as Em calls it. Their only companions are Sisters Constance and Mary Grace, who run the show; Thomas, the one-armed caretaker; Dr. Turner, who visits once a week to dispense medication; and the many animals who live on the estate: Bog the dog, the sheep and chickens – and the magical winged horses who live in the mirrors.

Emmaline is the only one who can see those last, of course. Mostly the horses ignore her and go about their business on the other side of the mirror. That is, until one winter day when she finds a winged horse in the sundial garden, injured and stranded. The mystery deepens when Emmaline begins receiving letters from the Horse Lord imploring her to keep Foxfire safe. She is being pursued by the Black Horse, who hunts by moonlight and has but one weakness: color. Emmaline must surround Foxfire with all the colors of the rainbow. But where can she find color – vibrant, lively colors – in her dreary world, ravaged by sickness and war?

(More below the fold…)

tweets for 2016-10-11

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

tweets for 2016-10-10

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

Nineteen Little Ralphie Things

Monday, October 10th, 2016

2002-06-17 - RalphieAtTheGame-12

Oh, Ralphie.

Can you believe that fifteen years ago today we were celebrating your first birthday with us?

Last month was the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11. It’s silly and incidental, but my memories of that day will forever be bound up in you. I was on the phone scheduling an appointment with the dermatologist when I heard the news. We must have gotten into poison ivy while walking the trails next to our house, and I was covered in the stuff. Well, not covered by today’s standards, but by Fairport only semi-rural standards. (Egads, I didn’t know what “covered in poison ivy” meant back then, with one dog and limited green space.) Anyway, the news coverage and photos of search and rescue dogs? Always makes me think of you, and our first years together. Before we became a pack of two and three and five and finally seven.

Your dad and I miss you so much, buddy. Whenever we get a new foster, I wonder what you’d think of her. I picture you with Daisy’s curlicue tail, and we compare the size of Brutus’s paws to yours. (I think they’re nowhere near as big, fwiw.) Every time we find a new trail to explore, my heart shatters for a split second, on account of we’ll never be able to walk it with you.

I don’t want to get all depressive on your big day, though. So instead of saying I miss you (again!), I’ll just say thank you: for being the first in an era, my Other Boyfriend, by little Ralphie Bear. The very first dog I adopted on my own; the very first dog all my own. For being the leader of our little pack, for nearly twelve years. They were the best. You were the best.

Love you so, so much,

– Mom

2002-06-17 - Kelly&RalphieAtTheGame-11

(More below the fold…)

tweets for 2016-10-09

Monday, October 10th, 2016

tweets for 2016-10-08

Sunday, October 9th, 2016
  • RT @JoshSchwerin: To any Republicans suddenly claiming they can’t support Trump:
    Please explain why everything that came before this was to… ->
  • RT @strawberrysingh: Rumor has it that Pence might quit. Shouldn't he be forced to carry Trump's campaign to term? ->
  • RT @Crystal1Johnson: Autopsy finds Tyre King was shot in the back three times. Cops felt threatened by a 13-years-old Black boy running awa… ->
  • RT @saladinahmed: WOMEN SHOULD NOT BE OBJECTIFIED THEY SHOULD BE CHERISHED AND KEPT IN GLASS COFFINS THAT SMELL OF LILACS UNTIL THE BREEDIN… ->
  • RT @JuddLegum: UPDATE: Trump state chair says bragging about sexual assault is something "all men do, at least all normal men" https://t.co… ->
  • (More below the fold…)

Mini-Review: Extraordinary Ordinary Moments: A Journal, Jorey Hurley (2016)

Saturday, October 8th, 2016

Versatile & Very Cute!

five out of five stars

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

— 4.5 stars —

If I had to choose just one word to describe Extraordinary Ordinary Moments: A Journal, it would be “adorable.” Jorey Hurley’s artwork is simple and understated – yet cute as all get out. Her previous titles include four picture books for kids – Nest, Fetch, Hop, and Ribbit – and the illustrations in Extraordinary Ordinary Moments are similar in style to what you see on the covers. (Of course I can’t speak to the interior artwork, seeing as I don’t own any of the books!)

Each page in this thick, 368-page journal features a different image or scene, along with a prompt. The general theme is “extraordinary ordinary moments”: an event, chore, object, person, or experience that’s so mundane that maybe you often take it for granted, or don’t even register it at all.

2016-09-23 - Extraordinary Ordinary Moments - 0006 [flickr]

Some of my favorite examples include:
– something nerdy
– comfort food
– something with nice curves
– something that puts you in a good mood (yeah, because there’s an illustration of a dog! you got me!)
– something silly (^ditto!)
– a good walk (definitely should include a dog, okay.)
– something eternal
– something you carry with you
– a good excuse to order a pizza

2016-09-23 - Extraordinary Ordinary Moments - 0007 [flickr]

You can take the prompts literally, interpret them loosely, or ignore them altogether; that’s what makes this journal so versatile. The prompts are written in a smallish font and are rather unobtrusive so, if you’re not especially partial to one (or all), just use that page for regular journaling. I guess the lack of lines might make this difficult, though all the white space is conducive to drawing, sketching, or scrapbooking, so there’s a tradeoff.

2016-09-23 - Extraordinary Ordinary Moments - 0009 [flickr]

The pages are made of a thick paper stock, and the book has a pliable but bendy cover; it’s softcover, but not quite paperback. There’s an image of an orange peel embossed on the cover, which might sound a little boring, except you can actually feel the texture of the peel when you run your fingers across it.

2016-09-23 - Extraordinary Ordinary Moments - 0004 [flickr]

Many of Potter Style’s journals are tiny, about the size of a mass market paperback; the small size of the paper, coupled with the thickness of the book, makes them very difficult to write in. Extraordinary Ordinary Moments is a little more generously sized, at six by eight inches. New rule: all journals should be these dimensions at the very least!

Though I enjoyed most of the artwork, there are a few pictures of animal-based foods that didn’t come as a surprise, but turned me off just the same. I can pretend that the sizzling bacon strips are Lightlife Smart Bacon (delish!), but the whole roasted turkey is a little harder to rationalize away. I know not everyone’s a vegan like me – I’m not delusional, okay – but it’s still tedious to see images of animal suffering everywhere I look. Even in seemingly neutral places, like guided journals. (I guess maybe I can use that page for all my favorite AR quotes?)

I feel a little weird deducting a full star for this, though, so let’s call it 4.5 stars, rounded up to five where necessary.

(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 2016-10-07

Saturday, October 8th, 2016

Book Review: ‘All the Real Indians Died Off’: And 20 Other Myths About Native Americans, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz & Dina Gilio-Whitaker (2016)

Friday, October 7th, 2016

Belongs in high school libraries everywhere.

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received an electronic ARC for review through Edelweiss.)

Non-Natives thus position themselves, either wittingly or unwittingly, as being the true experts about Indians and their histories—and it happens at all levels of society, from the uneducated all the way up to those with advanced college degrees, and even in the halls of Congress. […]

The result is the perpetual erasure of Indians from the US political and cultural landscape. In short, for five centuries Indians have been disappearing in the collective imagination. They are disappearing in plain sight.

Imagining huge fields of gold, which did not exist, Columbus instituted what later became known as the encomienda system, large estates run on forced labor for the purposes of extracting gold. Las Casas reported that when mining quotas were not met by the Indians excavating the gold, their hands were cut off and they bled to death. When they attempted to flee, they were hunted down with dogs and killed. So little gold existed in Hispaniola that the island turned into a massive killing field.

He [King George] has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

—Declaration of Independence

— 4.5 stars —

Native Americans should be honored to have sports teams named after them.

The Indians lost the war, why can’t they move on already?

Indian casinos make everyone rich.

Whether your ancestors were indigenous to North America or not, no doubt you’re familiar with at least a few of these myths about Native Americans. Actually, that’s an understatement, given that our culture – right down to its founding documents – is steeped in such half-truths, contested theories, and outright lies. They’re taught in our high school history books (Columbus discovered America; the convoluted and decontextualized myth of Thanksgiving), trotted out for celebrations (Native American mascots; cultural appropriation in Halloween costumes), and have been used to strip Native tribes of their lands, power, and self-determination (“real” Indians live on reservations/meet blood quantum requirements/belong to a tribe/adhere to certain spiritual practices).

(More below the fold…)

tweets for 2016-10-06

Friday, October 7th, 2016

tweets for 2016-10-05

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Book Review: Spare and Found Parts, Sarah Maria Griffin (2016)

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

“From my heart and from my hand and / Why don’t people understand my intention?”

three out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received an electronic ARC for review through Edelweiss.)

There are three rules:
1. The sick in the Pale, the healed in the Pasture.
2. Contribute, at all cost.
3. All code is blasphemy.

It came together at her will, and a cocktail of delight and pride swelled inside her. She would hold this hand. She would be held by this hand.

“I am your maker,” you say. I open my eyes again and … love. Yes, this is love. Your hand is wrapped around mine. This is what it is to be alive.

— 3.5 stars —

Nell Crane’s life is tick-tick-ticking away around her. There is the audible, literal tick: the sound of her robotic heart beating. The sound that sustains her life – at least for now – but also sets her apart from her peers. Though almost all of the residents of the Pale are missing limbs, Nell is the only one whose deformity is hidden on the inside. And, unlike the biomechanical prostheses worn by her peers, the failure of Nell’s augmentation could mean her death.

There’s also the metaphorical tick of time, spelled out in painful detail for Nell by her once-beloved (now insufferable) Nan. All citizens of Black Water City are expected to contribute to the city’s progress in some way. Instead of traditional schooling, kids take on apprenticeships; by their late teen years, they’re expected present a contribution to the city council; marry a compatible someone and help with his or her project; move out to the Pasture; or do manual labor on Kate, the city’s answer to the Statue of Liberty. Contributions run the gamut, from nightclubs and bakeries to boost morale, to more practical projects, like health care and scientific advancements.

Nell’s parents did both: Kate is her late mother’s baby, Nell’s other sister; and Dr. Julius Crane invented the prosthetic limbs that everyone so proudly wears today. Their legacy is the albatross wrapped tightly around Nell’s neck, slowly but surely strangling her. How can she – a cranky, moody loner – possibly live up to the Sterling-Crane family name?

(More below the fold…)