tweets for 2017-01-19

January 20th, 2017 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

tweets for 2017-01-18

January 19th, 2017 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato
  • RT @2020fight: Trump putting up a gaudy Jumbotron that blocks the view of the Lincoln Memorial is a perfect metaphor for his administration… ->
  • I'm #reading The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak https://t.co/nAmPpTpQay ->
  • RT @1followernodad: My peanut butter jar was like "best before Nov 2016" and it's like weren't we all? ->
  • RT @NativeApprops: But we actually do have a problem, @Fusion. I get the article is supposed to be snarky and "HAHA SHE IS SO WHITE HOW IS… ->
  • RT @heidiheilig: Wonderful thread for those who want to learn about the history of the overthrow of the hawaiian monarchy. https://t.co/Qmz… ->
  • RT @stavvers: Reminder that the US have never indicated they want Assange extradited; he's wanted in *Sweden* for *rape*. ->
  • RT @LOLGOP: YOU RAN FOR PRESIDENT https://t.co/AAA5HoOgjY ->
  • RT @brwneyedamzn: Thoughts on #WomensMarch: This march cannot help but continue doing shady stuff.
    First, it was the absence of #WomenOfCol->
  • RT @lkherman: Secretary of Education pick Betsy DeVos' Senate confirmation hearing is a hot mess. I broke it down on @TeenVogue: https://t.… ->
  • RT @sarahkendzior: Map of the protests. Every time someone shows the red/blue states map they should lay this over it. Notice high volume i… ->

Book Review: Imprisoned: Drawings from Nazi Concentration Camps, Arturo Benvenuti (2017)

January 18th, 2017 7:00 am by Kelly Garbato

#Resist

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review from the publisher, as well as an electronic ARC on Edelweiss.)

Humanity continues to kill, to massacre, to persecute, with increased ruthlessness. Before eyes that are increasingly indifferent, passive. When not complicit. There’s no pity for the elderly, for women, for children. There’s no pity for anyone anymore. Man is wolf to man, today as much as – and more than – yesterday.

The older generations seem to have learned very little; the new ones don’t seem to want to learn any more. Wars continue to sow slaughter. Behind the barbed wire of new concentration camps, it has gone one; humanity has gone on being suppressed.

Most of all, this book aims to be – attempts to be – a contribution to the just “revolt” on behalf of those who feel like they can’t, in spite of everything, resign themselves to a monstrous, terrifying reality. Those who believe they must still and always “resist.”

– Arturo Benvenuti, “Without Words”

Born in 1923, Arturo Benvenuti – poet, painter, researcher, accountant, and banker – was just a young man during World War II. Yet his lack of civil engagement haunted him for decades, and the feelings of guilt and powerlessness – reflected in his poetry – eventually proved the impetus for the KZ Project.

In September of 1979, at the age of fifty-six, Arturo and his wife Marucci loaded up their camper and began what would become a lifelong journey: traveling throughout Europe, visiting former Nazi concentration camps (including Auschwitz, Terezín, Mauthausen, and Buchenwald), and meeting with as many survivors and veterans as he could. He also combed through local history museums, public libraries, and public archives, trying to piece together “visual testimonies” of the camps.

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tweets for 2017-01-17

January 18th, 2017 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

tweets for 2017-01-16

January 17th, 2017 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Book Review: History Is All You Left Me, Adam Silvera (2017)

January 16th, 2017 7:00 am by Kelly Garbato

“history is how we get to keep him.”

four out of five stars

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

You’re still alive in alternate universes, Theo, but I live in the real world, where this morning you’re having an open-casket funeral. I know you’re out there, listening. And you should know I’m really pissed because you swore you would never die and yet here we are. It hurts even more because this isn’t the first promise you’ve broken.

I’m a seventeen-year-old grieving his favorite person.

We first meet Griffin Jennings on Monday, November 20th, 2016. It’s been exactly one week since his best friend and ex-boyfriend Theo McIntyre died: drowned in the Pacific Ocean while his new love, Jackson Wright, watched helplessly from the shore. Now Theo’s East Coast/West Coast lives are about to collide – over his casket, no less – as Jackson and Griffin meet for the first time at his funeral. Only things don’t play out exactly how you’d think.

Theo was most of Griffin’s firsts: first date, first kiss, first time, first love. Childhood friends, they came out to each on the L train; weeks later, they came out to their parents, together. (This was a happy scene, the sort of which all LGBTQ kids deserve.) Griffin always knew that he’d have to say goodbye to Theo, who’s one year older/ahead of him in high school – but his early admission to the animation program at Santa Monica College sure upended the timeline. Griff broke up with Theo the day before he left, thinking he’d spare himself the pain of eventually becoming the dumpee – and, just two months later, Theo began seeing Jackson. Drama, heartbreak, passive-aggressive sniping, and betrayal ensue.

We’ve all been there before. Except Theo ups and dies before any of it can be resolved, and Griffin and Jackson (not to mention Wade, the third member of the Manhattan squad) are left to sort through the detritus of a life too shortly lived.

To complicate matters further, Griffin suffers from OCD – mostly manifested in directions (left is good) and numbers (odd is bad) – which is getting progressively worse in Theo’s absence and death.

(More below the fold…)

tweets for 2017-01-15

January 16th, 2017 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

tweets for 2017-01-14

January 15th, 2017 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

tweets for 2017-01-13

January 14th, 2017 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Book Review: The Meaning of Michelle: 16 Writers on the Iconic First Lady and How Her Journey Inspires Our Own, Veronica Chambers, ed. (2017)

January 13th, 2017 7:00 am by Kelly Garbato

A bittersweet love letter to the outgoing FLOTUS.

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through NetGalley. Trigger warning for discussions of racism and misogyny.)

Barack and Michelle Obama served this country for two terms as President and First Lady of the United States of America. Imagine that. America shaped in the image of a black man—with a black woman by his side. Even after eight years of watching them daily in the press, the fact that the most powerful man in the world is a Black man is still breathtaking to me. The fact that he goes home to a tight-knit, loving family headed by a Black woman is soul-stirring. That woman is Michelle. Michelle! That name now carries a whole world of meaning. And a whole world of memory. And a whole world of a magic.

(“Preface,” Ava Duvernay)

Thank you, Michelle, for showing a generation of women, including me and my daughter, what it means to dwell in possibility.

(“Acknowledgements,” Veronica Chambers)

For all of my adult life – the entire time I’ve been paying attention to politics, really – I’ve vastly preferred our president’s wives over their husbands: Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, and now Michelle Obama. (The same will probably hold true of Melania, but it’s an impossibly low bar, okay.) No matter their political allegiances, the FLOTUSes (FLOTI?) tend to be a least a shade more progressive than their men, especially when it comes to “women’s issues” like reproductive freedom. Not that they’re allowed to voice these views: American prefers its First Ladies be seen, not heard, functioning as little more than their husbands’ appendages or cheerleaders. “Stepford Wives-in-Chief,” Tiffany Dufu puts it. Remember how viciously then-FLOTUS Hillary was shot down for daring to advance health care reform?

Michelle Obama is in a league of her own, though. Like many Americans, I was captivated with her from Day 1. I loved that she refused to play the role of the bland, devoted wife; a blank canvas onto which Americans/voters could project their versions of ideal femininity. She spoke of Barack like he was a regular guy, rather than an up-and-coming rockstar politician. Yet it was evident that these two crazy kids were deeply in love. She (and her family) was a lightning rod for every bit of racist and sexist excrement the right could throw at her, yet Michelle handled it with grace and finesse. We watched as Lady O. – and her style – evolved from first to second term; she went from high-power lawyer to high-fashion mom, as described by Tanisha C. Ford (“She Slays”). She had fun, was comfortable in her skin, and was perfectly imperfect.

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Book Review: The Bear and the Nightingale, Katherine Arden (2017)

January 11th, 2017 7:00 am by Kelly Garbato

“Blood is one thing. The sight is another. But courage—that is rarest of all, Vasilisa Petrovna.”

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through NetGalley. Trigger warning for rape and child abuse.)

“What happened?” she asked.

“My fish are gone! Some durak from the village must have come and …”

But Vasya was not listening. She had run to the very brink of the river.

“It’s not yours!” she shouted. “Give it back!” Kolya thought he heard an odd note in the splash of the water, as though it was making a reply. Vasya stamped her foot. “Now!” she yelled. “Catch your own fish!” A deep groan came up from the depths, as of rocks grinding together, and then the basket came flying out of nowhere to hit Vasya in the chest and knock her backward. Instinctively, she clutched it, and turned a grin on her brother.

“A prophecy then, sea-maiden.”

“Why do you call me that?” she whispered.

The bannik drifted up to the bench beside her. His beard was the curling steam. “Because you have your great-grandfather’s eyes. Now hear me. You will ride to where earth meets sky. You will be born three times: once of illusions, once of flesh, and once of spirit. You will pluck snowdrops at midwinter, weep for a nightingale, and die by your own choosing.”

Marina, thought Pyotr. You left me this mad girl, and I love her well. She is braver and wilder than any of my sons. But what good is that in a woman? I swore I’d keep her safe, but how can I save her from herself?

Vasilisa Petrovna is born to a lord and a princess, on the edge of the Russian wilderness, many centuries ago. She comes on the tail of the first howling winds of November, and her mother Marina leaves the earth shortly thereafter. Vasya is raised by her four older siblings – Kolya, Sasha, Olga, and Alyosha – and her mother’s aging nurse, Dunya. And, to a lesser extent, her father Pyotr Vladimirovich: every time Pyotr looks into the face of his screeching child, he sees the ghost of his dead wife. So mostly he avoids dealing with her too much.

With time, Vasya grows wild and bold, just like Marina intended. She can see creatures that others cannot, the chyerty of the old religion: The domovoi, household-spirits who guard the home; the vodianoy in the river and the twig-man in the trees; the vazila, who are one with the horses; the rusalka, the polevik, and the dvornik. Vasya feeds them with bread and friendship; she fortifies their strength and, in return, they teach her their secrets: how to talk to animals, swim like a fish, and climb trees like no human child should be able to.

Marina’s mother, you see, had the gift of second sight. While Marina had only a little of her mother’s gifts, she knew that Vasya would have even more. Much more. A prophecy told her as much. Yet in a Rus’ caught between the old religion and Christianity, Vasya’s neighbors whisper that she’s a witch who cavorts with demons. The arrival of Father Konstantin only deepens the rift between worlds, as do the snow, fire, and famine that follow swiftly on his heels. Though she just wants to keep her family and her village safe, Vasya will soon find herself caught in the middle of a struggle between two ancient forces.

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Book Review: Difficult Women, Roxane Gay (2017)

January 9th, 2017 7:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Stories about survival; stories we need now more than ever.

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free ARC for review through Netgalley. Trigger warning for domestic violence, child abuse, and rape.)

There once was a man. There is always some man.

You too have always been popular. I have seen the evidence in your childhood bedroom, meticulously preserved by your mother. Even now, you have packs of men following you, willing to make you their strange god. That is the only thing about you that scares me.

“I want a boy who will bring me a baby arm.”

“Honey, you’re not crazy. You’re a woman.”

Difficult Women brings together twenty-one short stories by Roxane Gay, all of which have previously been published elsewhere (or multiple elsewheres), most in slightly different forms and some under different titles. (I included the TOC at the bottom of this review; alternate titles are listed last, in parentheses.) However, the publications are so varied that it’s unlikely that you’ve seen, read, and/or own them all.

This is actually rather surprising to me, since the stories – published over a span of ~5 years – gel so well together. It really feels like each one was written specifically with this anthology in mind. The collection’s namesake, “Difficult Women,” perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the whole. Like the short story, this is book about loose women and frigid women; difficult women and crazy women; mothers and wives, daughters and dead girls. Women who have faced the unspeakable – rape and sexual assault; miscarriages or the death of a child; abuse and self-harm; alcoholism and alienation – and come out the other side. Not unscathed, but alive. These are stories of survival.

Usually I find anthologies to be somewhat uneven, but not so here. Every story grabs you by the heart and threatens to squeeze until it pops, right there in your chest cavity. Gay’s writing is raw and naked; grim, yet somehow, impossibly, imbued with hope. While some are straight-up contemporary, other tales are a strange, surreal mix of the real and unreal: In “I Am a Knife,” a woman fantasizes about cutting her twin’s fetus out of her body and transferring it to her own, the way she once did with the heart of a drunk driver who collided with their car, nearly killing her sister.

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Book Review: Love and First Sight, Josh Sundquist (2017)

January 6th, 2017 7:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Not as bad as I’d feared – but not as good as I’d hoped.

three out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through Netgalley. This review contains clearly marked spoilers.)

A door swings open, dinging a bell. I recognize the next sound: the deliberate but controlled steps, treading gently, as if she’s trying not to leave footprints. I’ve never seen a footprint, of course, but my understanding is that the harder you press, the more of an impression you leave behind.

Sixteen-year-old Will Porter has attended boarding schools and summer camps for blind and visually impaired kids his whole life – but now it’s time to go mainstream. Will wants to finish out his high school career in his hometown of Toano, Kansas – even if it’s over the vociferous objections of his over-stressed helicopter mom. Unfortunately, Will’s first day in public school is a bit of a disaster: he gropes a random girl in the stairwell, makes a fellow classmate cry, and plops down on yet another student’s lap in the caf.

But Will quickly finds his niche in Toano High School. He takes a shining to journalism, where the teacher – Mrs. Everbrook – treats him like every other student. He partners up with and eventually befriends Cecily, whose knack for photography complements Will’s way with words. He falls in with Nick, Ion, and Whitford who, along with Cecily, represent the entirety of Toano High’s academic quiz team. Will even convinces Cecily to try out for the morning announcer cohosting gig, despite her obvious – and inexplicable – reluctance.

And then, just a few months into the semester, Will’s mom drops a bombshell in his lap. At the hospital where his father works, there’s an experimental surgery to “cure” blindness that’s accepting applicants. The operation is a two-stage process: a retinal stem cell transplant, followed by a corneal transplant within two weeks. Even if it’s successful, the surgery comes with a whole bunch of risks: Will’s body could reject the new corneas, while the immunosuppressant drugs will leave him susceptible to common illnesses such as the flu. If the new eyes “take,” Will will have to rewire his brain to properly perceive and process all the unfamiliar, overwhelming visual input. It’s not as simple as waking up and being able to see; rather, Will will have to learn how to perform this new task that his eyes and brain have never done before.

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Mini-Review: The Killer in Me, Margot Harrison (2016)

January 4th, 2017 7:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Meh.

three out of five stars

Seventeen-year-old Nina Barrows knows all about the Thief. She’s intimately familiar with his hunting methods: how he stalks and kills at random, how he disposes of his victims’ bodies in an abandoned mine in the deepest, most desolate part of a desert.

Now, for the first time, Nina has the chance to do something about the serial killer that no one else knows exists. With the help of her former best friend, Warren, she tracks the Thief two thousand miles, to his home turf—the deserts of New Mexico.

But the man she meets there seems nothing like the brutal sociopath with whom she’s had a disturbing connection her whole life. To anyone else, Dylan Shadwell is exactly what he appears to be: a young veteran committed to his girlfriend and her young daughter. As Nina spends more time with him, she begins to doubt the truth she once held as certain: Dylan Shadwell is the Thief. She even starts to wonder . . . what if there is no Thief?

(Synopsis via Goodreads.)

DNF at 64%.

Honestly, I just found this book underwhelming. Perhaps my boredom was mainly due to the curse of misplaced expectations: I pictured an antihero in the vein of Alex Craft, but what we get is an indecisive, somewhat timid, and blandly average teenage girl. You know, except for the serial killer whose mind she shares when dreaming.

Making matters worse is the introduction of Nina’s childhood friend/teenage drug dealer, Warren. The story is told from their alternating perspectives, even though Warren really doesn’t add much to the narrative. He has even less of a personality than Nina, and there’s absolutely zero chemistry between the two (though I assume they hook up by the end of the book).

He’s also the one who tries to rationalize Nina’s visions, leading to scene after tedious scene of self-doubt. This also gives rise to some weird plot stuff; for example, even though there’s never been any question in Nina’s mind that her connection to Dylan only goes one way, she sets up a series of tests to see if she can trick him into acknowledging her existence. Like, why though? They…don’t prove anything?

Anyway, the book isn’t terrible; I just couldn’t bring myself to care enough about anyone to finish it. I think if you shaved 100 pages off you’d have a much more tense and compelling psychological thriller.

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

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2016 Reading Bingo

January 3rd, 2017 10:00 am by Kelly Garbato

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So I didn’t participate in many book challenges this year – no time or patience! – but Novel Heartbeat’s 2016 Reading Bingo Challenge was one of ’em. I did better than I expected; I hit 23/24 squares, with the only miss being one I saw coming a mile away: “A book with a steamy romance.” Romance, not really my bag.

It was pretty fun; not super-challenging to the point that I forced myself to read books I’d rather not, but challenging enough that I really had to reflect on the books I did read. It was kind of like a treasure hunt: “Okay, where’s the cat? The shifter? Does anyone have an antihero?!?”

Anyway, after the jump is my completed card (I stamped it with snowflakes! ‘Tis the season!) and a rundown of the books that met the criteria. I had multiples for most of the squares, but just picked one each for simplicity’s sake.

 

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tweets for 2017-01-02

January 3rd, 2017 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

2016 Book Memories Challenge

January 2nd, 2017 12:00 pm by Kelly Garbato


 

So I started doing the Book Memories Challenge last year, and enjoyed it so much that I continued in 2016 – even though Grown Up Fangirl doesn’t look to be hosting it anymore. (Enter: my own shiny header!)

Anyway, the basic premise is this: for every book you read, jot down your favorite quotes on a slip of paper. Stow ’em all in a jar and, at the end of the year, look back and see which ones made you laugh, cry, or shake your fist in anger. (Preferably number one.) Of course, my penmanship is a shitshow, so I opted to record them in a blog post instead. This also allowed me to go a little overboard, but I’ll leave it to you to decide if this is a net positive or negative.

This year’s WP file got so bloated that I’m typing this intro in its own window, on account of there’s such a delay on the original. Maybe next year I’ll post the first batch of quotes at the end of June? Or maybe at the end of each quarter? Thoughts?

Either way, I shall leave you with one of my all-time favorite quotes, one that’s been hanging heavy on my mind thanks to one of my final reads of the year. (The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg.) TELL THEM STORIES. I think good storytelling might be the one superpower we need most in the coming year.

 
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tweets for 2017-01-01

January 2nd, 2017 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato
  • RT @chasingfaes: 2017 brings to us a lot of amazing diverse titles! Here's a thread of all 2017 diverse releases I've discovered so far! ->
  • RT @verysimple: Jesus fucking Christ. May I introduce you to a gentleman named Merrick Garland before you call ANYTHING dems do "unpreceden… ->
  • RT @wordcontessa: #MuslimsInLit are kicking starting 2017 with an incredible movement.
    This 2017 WE are taking back OUR narrative by telli… ->
  • RT @_diversebooks: #ReadDiverse2017 is a reading/reviewing challenge for bloggers. Blog about diverse books, earn badges, & win prizes! htt… ->
  • RT @TeenVogue: Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago made $420,000+ selling dinner, dancing, & access to the President-elect on New Year's Eve https://… ->
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fuck yeah reading: 2016 books

January 1st, 2017 1:00 pm by Kelly Garbato

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This year I set my reading goal at 105 books – the standard two a week plus one for good luck – and absolutely smoked it with 155 books. I even beat my old record of 148 (set in 2014).

I can’t figure out how to embed them (sad!), but here are screenshots of my 2016 Reading Challenge and My Year in Books on Goodreads.

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(The reading challenge is one book off, since I had a whopping one reread and Goodreads doesn’t have a way of logging multiple sets of dates. Also, click through each image to enbiggen.)

As always, my favorites are singled out with asterisks, BUT. To make things extra-easy for you, here are a dozen titles that I think deserve a little TLC above and beyond. Like, if you read nothing else this year, make it these bad girls.

In no particular order:

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Not to get all pushy, but.

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tweets for 2016-12-31

January 1st, 2017 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato