Posts By Ron Morris

Book Riot’s Deals of the Day for November 24th, 2017

Book Riot Deals is sponsored today by Lit Chat, a discussion-based party game for book loversCreated to give readers of all persuasions an excuse to talk about books, ideas, and life itself, this deck is a great addition to any booklover’s shelf. Get it here, or just click the image below:

 


 

Today’s Featured Deals

 

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee for $2.99. Get it here or just click the cover image below:

 

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson for $1.99. Get it here or just click the cover image below:

 

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore for $1.99. Get it here or just click the cover image below:

 

 

 

 

Previous daily deals that are still active (as of this writing at least). Get ’em while they’re hot.

The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden for $2.99.

Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick Dewitt for $1.99.

A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan for $3.99.

Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister for $1.99.

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart for $1.99.

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott for $1.99.

A Year by the Sea by Joan Anderson for $1.99.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd for $1.99.

The Nest by Cynthia d’Aprix Sweeney for $1.99.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe for $1.99.

Almost Famous Women by Megan Mayhew Bergman for $1.99.

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina for $1.99.

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout for $2.99.

Gabi Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero for $2.99.

The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra for $2.99.

The End of the World Running Club by Adrian Walker for $0.99.

You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein for $2.99.

A Passion for Books, with a foreword by Ray Bradbury for $1.99.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert for $1.81.

Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie for $0.89.

The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak for $1.99.

Both editions of our very own Start Here series are just $0.99 each

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini for $1.99.

The Guineveres by Sarah Domet for $2.99.

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig for $1.99.

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst for $1.99.

An Exultation of Larks by Suanne Laqueur for $.99.

America, America by Ethan Canin for $1.99.

The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson for $2.99.

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon for $1.99.

The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway for $1.99.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker for $1.99.

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay for $1.99.

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Franweiler by E.L. Konigsburg for $0.99.

Bitch Planet, Vol 1 for $3.99.

Monstress, Vol 1 by Liu & Takeda for $3.99

Paper Girls, Vol 1. by Vaughn, Chiang, & Wilson for $3.99.

The Wicked + The Divine Volume 1 for $3.99

The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin for $9.99

The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith for $0.99

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for $4.99

3 Fantasy Romance Series to Sweep You Away

This is a guest post from Jessica Avery. Jessica grew up in the frosty, but not quite frozen, woods of Western Maine, where for seven or so chilly months of the year there’s not much to do but read. She cut her reading teeth on fantasy and romance, and not much has changed in the last decade or so. Though she did take her reading to the professional level, by adding a B.A. and an M.A. in English. Still, it’s a long road from earning an English degree to getting to use an English degree. So until she can find her niche in the book world, Jessica spends her work time surfing an administrative desk at a small local college in her home state, and her free time putting a few of her critical analysis skills to work by blogging professionally about romance and fantasy novels. Follow her on Twitter @JtheBookworm.


Everyone has their favorite type of book to reach for on long winter nights. For me, winter is the season when I always rotate a greater number of fantasy books into my usual romance reading schedule. I let big, epic stories set in vast worlds of magic carry me through to springtime. But one thing I noticed earlier this year, as I started to step up my fantasy intake, was that I couldn’t seem the find the right balance. Either there wasn’t enough magic in my romance, or there wasn’t enough flirting in my fantasy. Lucky for me, a fellow reader brought the fantasy romance subgenre to my attention.

Somehow I’d let it slip past me, unnoticed! Revoke my reading badge, because fantasy romances are not even a new phenomenon. There have been a number scattered throughout the history of the romance genre. They have, however, seen an upsurgence in interest and in production in the last few years. Veronica Scott of USA Today’s Happily Ever After blog suggested back in 2015 that the popularity of Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and Game of Thrones might be the driving influence behind this new wave of novels. Two years later I’m pretty sure this still holds true. The result of that lasting influence is a small but vibrant subgenre of single-title length romance novels which “include the high stakes, the magic, the swordplay, the ancient civilizations, kings, queens, wizards, sorceresses … and the Happily Ever After romance endings.” (Scott)

That this mashup of genres should work so well or be so popular with readers of romance is unsurprising. After all, both fantasy and romance are fundamentally similar. For one, both genres traditionally insist upon an optimistic outcome and a hopeful world view.

Now is the point where someone goes “Wait. Has she not read the A Song of Ice and Fire series?” Well actually, no, I haven’t. It’s true, there are facets of the fantasy genre, like the grimdark trend generally attributed to G.R.R.M’s series, that challenge the idea that good always triumphs. But much of the fantasy that I’ve seen published in recent years suggests that, as a whole, the genre still adheres to the rule of “Good Conquers Evil.” Just like the romance genre is governed by the rule of “Love Conquers All.”

Fantasy and romance novels also share very similar plot structures, based around the idea of “The Quest.” In fantasy, one or more protagonists set out on a journey during which they contend with external forces as well as their own internal character developments until finally evil is defeated and our heroes move forward into a bright new future that promises happiness (even if only for now). In the romance, two protagonists set off on a journey of a different sort, during which they also contend with both external and internal forces as they progress towards love and the promise of the genre-requisite happily ever after (or, again, happy at least for now).

These parallels of purpose and form mean that romance and fantasy are able to meld together in the fantasy romance, promising both magical, vividly imagined new worlds and epic romance. You want kissing and dragon slaying? Fantasy romance can do that. It intersects with paranormal romance. It intersects at times with historical romance. It can overlap with suspense romance too! This is all thanks to the fantasy genre’s varied themes, many of which dovetail neatly with the subgenres of romance. Political intrigue, assassinations, complex magic systems, mythical creatures and a two people falling madly in love?

Fantasy Romance: You want it, we’ve got it.**

(**Not their official slogan)

A Promise of Fire by Amanda BouchetA Promise of Fire for example, is the first book in Amanda Bouchet’s Kingmaker Chronicles, and in it soothsayer Catalia “Cat” Fisa finds herself going toe-to-toe with warlord Griffin Sinta, all while trying to duck her own God’s-touched destiny. Life’s not easy when you’re the Kingmaker, “the woman who divines the truth through lies”—especially not when ham-fisted warriors suddenly decide that you’re a perfectly travel-sized magical weapon. And when said warrior is as attractive as he is insufferable? Well, tune in for realm-conquering and magical hijinks at 11.

 

song of blood stoneJasminda, the heroine of the first book in L. Penelope’s Earthsinger Chronicles, Song of Blood and Stone is also hiding out from her own identity. You thought being a human lie-detector sounded rough, try being cast out into a “land where cold whispers of invasion and war linger on the wind” because your magical abilities scare the neighbors back home. Add to the mix an isolated cabin, a very handsome captive spy named Jack, a perilous journey, and the mystery of “The Queen Who Sleeps.” The result is a fantasy romance with a core of political and social intrigue—because come on, who doesn’t love a spy love story?

Also, I would like to point out that Penelope’s series is only one of many fabulous fantasy romance options from writers of color. The website WOCIR (Women of Color In Romance) has a whole fantasy tag, for interested parties! I chose to feature Penelope’s Song of Blood and Stone because—exciting!—the book is getting a new, hardcover release from St. Martin’s Press this May. And you can bet it’s high on my spring shopping list.

the winter kingOf the three series starter books in this post, C.L. Wilson’s The Winter King, which is first in her Weathermages of Mystral series, is the most traditionally a romance in terms of form. But that doesn’t mean it’s short on fantasy elements. Khamsin is a rebellious princess whose father the king of Summer (well Summerlea, technically, but you get the idea) marries her to the King of Winter as punishment. Punishment’s name is actually Wynter, and here we return to the warlord model again, because he’s Mr. Conquer 2014. You can also throw in a dark magical power slowly turning his heart to ice (I see your Snow Queen allusion, Wilson), “dangerous forces” gathering in the distance, inter-kingdom struggles, and all the awkward strife of an arranged marriage.

With a diverse array of plots, character types, magical elements, and romantic tropes, fantasy romance is the ideal grab bag for people like me who want to live, sleep, and breathe the intersection where romance meets fantasy. But for those of you who are romance readers OR fantasy readers, and looking to broaden your genre horizons I hope this list will be a jumping-off point. That’s one thing about those long nights of winter reading: they’re just perfect for trying new things!

6 YA Books to Celebrate Native American Heritage Month

Typically, I associate November with NaNoWriMo or Thanksgiving. But recently I learned that there’s another occasion that constantly gets overlooked. And if it weren’t for my friend Weezie and their thread, I’d still be clueless. Weezie is a member of the Mvskoke nation, and they brought Native American Heritage Month to my attention.

November 1st commences the start of National Native American Heritage Month. During the month, the United States celebrates and recognizes the rich histories, cultures, and contributions of Native Americans. To do my part for Native American Heritage Month, I compiled a list of YA books by Native American authors about Native American characters. All blurbs are taken from the Amazon summary.

After the Fall by Kate Hart

“Seventeen-year-old Raychel is sleeping with two boys: her overachieving best friend Matt…and his slacker brother, Andrew. Raychel sneaks into Matt’s bed after nightmares, but nothing ever happens. He doesn’t even seem to realize she’s a girl, except when he decides she needs rescuing. But Raychel doesn’t want to be his girl anyway. She just needs his support as she deals with the classmate who assaulted her, the constant threat of her family’s eviction, and the dream of college slipping quickly out of reach. Matt tries to help, but he doesn’t really get it…and he’d never understand why she’s fallen into a secret relationship with his brother. The friendships are a precarious balance, and when tragedy strikes, everything falls apart. Raychel has to decide which pieces she can pick up—and which ones are worth putting back together.”

Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones

“He was born an outsider, like the rest of his family. Poor yet resilient, he lives in the shadows with his aunt Libby and uncle Darren, folk who stubbornly make their way in a society that does not understand or want them. They are mongrels, mixed blood, neither this nor that. The boy at the center of Mongrels must decide if he belongs on the road with his aunt and uncle, or if he fits with the people on the other side of the tracks.
For ten years, he and his family have lived a life of late-night exits and narrow escapes—always on the move across the South to stay one step ahead of the law. But the time is drawing near when Darren and Libby will finally know if their nephew is like them or not. And the close calls they’ve been running from for so long are catching up fast now. Everything is about to change.”

Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend by Erika T. Wurth

“Margaritte is a sharp-tongued, drug-dealing, sixteen-year-old Native American floundering in a Colorado town crippled by poverty, unemployment, and drug abuse. She hates the burnout, futureless kids surrounding her and dreams that she and her unreliable new boyfriend can move far beyond the bright lights of Denver that float on the horizon before the daily suffocation of teen pregnancy eats her alive.”

 

Feral Nights by Cynthia Leitich Smith

“When sexy, free-spirited werecat Yoshi tracks his sister, Ruby, to Austin, he discovers that she is not only MIA, but also the key suspect in a murder investigation. Meanwhile, werepossum Clyde and human Aimee have set out to do a little detective work of their own, sworn to avenge the brutal killing of werearmadillo pal Travis. When all three seekers are snared in an underground kidnapping ring, they end up on a remote island inhabited by an unusual (even by shifter standards) species and its cult of worshippers. Their hosts harbor a grim secret: staging high-profile safaris for wealthy patrons with evil pedigrees, which means that at least one newcomer to the island is about to be hunted. As both wereprey and werepredator fight to stay alive, it’s up to mild-mannered Clyde—a perennial sidekick—to summon the hero within. Can he surprise even himself?”

If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth

“Lewis ‘Shoe’ Blake is used to the joys and difficulties of life on the Tuscarora Indian reservation in 1975: the joking, the Fireball games, the snow blowing through his roof. What he’s not used to is white people being nice to him—people like George Haddonfield, whose family recently moved to town with the Air Force. As the boys connect through their mutual passion for music, especially the Beatles, Lewis has to lie more and more to hide the reality of his family’s poverty from George. He also has to deal with the vicious Evan Reininger, who makes Lewis the special target of his wrath. But when everyone else is on Evan’s side, how can he be defeated? And if George finds out the truth about Lewis’s home—will he still be his friend?”

Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac

“Years ago, seventeen-year-old Apache hunter Lozen and her family lived in a world of haves and have-nots. There were the Ones—people so augmented with technology and genetic enhancements that they were barely human—and there was everyone else who served them. Then the Cloud came, and everything changed. Tech stopped working. The world plunged back into a new steam age. The Ones’ pets—genetically engineered monsters—turned on them and are now loose on the world. Lozen was not one of the lucky ones pre-C, but fate has given her a unique set of survival skills and magical abilities. She hunts monsters for the Ones who survived the apocalyptic events of the Cloud, which ensures the safety of her kidnapped family. But with every monster she takes down, Lozen’s powers grow, and she connects those powers to an ancient legend of her people. It soon becomes clear to Lozen that she is not just a hired gun. As the legendary Killer of Enemies was in the ancient days of the Apache people, Lozen is meant to be a more than a hunter. Lozen is meant to be a hero.”

Foodie Books to Pair With Holiday Meal Prep

Delicious books that will pair nicely with all of your holiday plans. And they make fantastic gifts for the foodie in your life!

The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen by Sean Sherman with Beth Dooley. Tuck into these great foodie books this Thanksgiving!The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen by Sean Sherman with Beth Dooley

This is arguably one of the most important cookbooks to come out this year! Sean Sherman is a Oglala Lakota chef and the founder of The Sioux Chef, a company that not only creates and caters Native American cuisine but also educates the Minneapolis/St. Paul region on indigenous food. Sherman focuses on seasonal and indigenous ingredients (no European staples like flour and sugar) and the recipes reflect this—they look vibrant and mouthwatering. It’s not just a cookbook, though, and the personal stories and history in the book make it a real treasure.

Check out other Native American cookbooks in this great post by Aimee Miles!

Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine by Sarah Lohman. Tuck into these great foodie books this Thanksgiving.Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine by Sarah Lohman

Eight Flavors is a delightful and utterly fascinating culinary history of America. Historical gastronomist Sarah Lohman examines American history, culture, and what she calls the “changing culinary landscape” through eight flavors that she argues are influential to American cooking. The eight flavors are: black pepper, vanilla, chili powder, curry powder, soy sauce, garlic, MSG, and Sriracha. In each chapter she explores a flavor and the history of how it made its way to the American table.

The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael W. Twitty

I love a good food memoir and The Cooking Gene by Michael W. Twitty is a powerful and compelling memoir of Southern cuisine and food culture. Twitty traces his personal ancestry through food and cooking in this great mixture of stories, recipes, historical documents, genetic tests, and details from his own travels—it’s a combination of everything, but it comes together beautifully. And between the illustrations, the color photographs, and the recipes, it’s a striking book.

Ten Restaurants That Changed America by Paul Freedman

More than just a collection of profiles, Ten Restaurants That Changed America is a social and cultural history of “dining out in America.” Freedman discusses ten historically significant American restaurants and the history and events that shaped them (and that they in turn influenced.) The restaurants include: Delmonico’s, Antoine’s, Schrafft’s, Howard Johnson’s, Mamma Leone’s, The Mandarin, Sylvia’s, Le Pavillon, The Four Seasons, and Chez Panisse. It’s also a gorgeously designed book with photographs and menus scattered throughout.

Cork Dork by Bianca Boker. Foodie Books to tuck into this ThanksgivingCork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste by Bianca Bosker

I’m finishing this list like I’ll be be finishing off my Thanksgiving meal—with a glass of wine. Bianca Bosker’s Cork Dork is the perfect light, fun (but surprisingly informative) read for your holiday weekend. Bosker is no wine expert, but a tech journalist who decides to learn all she can about wine and try her hand at the Court of Master Sommeliers exam. Full of wine history, science, tastings, and more, Cork Dork is an immersive and obsessive, but ultimately delicious read.

Literature’s Greatest Parties

Champagne swimming pools, never-ending fireworks, midsummer bonfires, and handsome strangers: The lavish late-nights of literature.

Like anyone else who’s bookishly inclined, my sleepless nights are usually due to the thought of “just one more chapter.” Ahead of the festive season, enjoy a round up literature’s exciting parties—parties that I’d willingly put my book down to attend. 

Bilbo Baggins’s Eleventy-First Birthday Party from The Lord of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

The tents began to go up. There was a specially large pavilion, so big that the tree that grew in the field was right inside it, and stood proudly near one end, at the head of the chief table. Lanterns were hung on all its branches. More promising still (to the hobbits’ mind): an enormous open-air kitchen was erected in the north corner of the field. A draught of cooks, from every inn and eating-house for miles around, arrived to supplement the dwarves and other odd folk that were quartered at Bag End. Excitement rose to its height.

A hugely stressful party to plan (the sheer number of invitations caused a blockage at the Hobbiton Post Office), but worth the hassle, Bilbo Baggins’s Birthday Party is just the beginning of the adventure. There’s Hobbits from across the shire, dancing, presents, lanterns, food, ale, and fireworks courtesy of Gandalf.

Ending with a thoroughly confusing speech and an abrupt disappearance, Bilbo’s party was one to remember.

Midsummer Party in The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt

The guests began to arrive in the mid-afternoon. They came at intervals, from far and near, in carriages, pony-traps, station flies, on foot, and, in one case, on a tandem tricycle.

Humphry and Olive stood on the steps to receive them. They were dressed as Oberon and Titania. Humphry had a silk jerkin embroidered with Florentine arabesques, black breeches, and a voluminous velvet cloak, swinging at a daring angle from a silken cord across his shoulder. He looked absurd and beautiful. And amused. Olive wore pleated olive silk over pleated white linen, with a gauze overcloak, veined like insect wings. She looked warm and wild.

Held every year on Midsummer’s Eve, the Wellwoods spend the sultry evening drinking, laughing, and talking in the fairy-lit orchard. Attended by authors, scholars, anarchists, playwrights, a puppeteer, and early Suffragettes the night culminates in song and a frenzied jump over the dying bonfire. It’s gloriously pagan.

Satan’s Spring Ball from The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

A low wall of white tulips rose up in front of Margarita. Beyond it she saw countless lights in globes, and rows of men in tails and starched white shirts. Margarita saw then where the sound of ball music had been coming from. A roar of brass deafened her and the soaring violins that broke through it poured over her body like blood. The orchestra, all hundred and fifty of them, were playing a polonaise.

The most surreal party of them all: a welcome party to hell. Arriving by coffin through a fireplace, guests enter the party to find jazz played by apes and polar bears, a champagne swimming pool, live butterflies, and a marble floored ball room lit by glow worms. Yes, one has to be dead to attend, but it sounds like one hell of a night.

The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

The table was a large one, but the three were all crowded together at one corner of it: “No room! No room!” they cried out when they saw Alice coming.

“There’s plenty of room!” said Alice indignantly, and she sat down in a large arm-chair at one end of the table.

Tea, riddles, musical chairs, poetry, conversations with animals—what more could one want in a party?

The never-ending Tea Party is due to Time kindly stopping himself at 6pm (tea time!) in order for The Mad Hatter to escape the murderous intentions of The Queen of Hearts. The Hatter, March Hare, and Dormouse are stuck having tea forever. No wonder they’re mad.

The Meryton Ball from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Mr. Bingley had soon made himself acquainted with all the principal people in the room; he was lively and unreserved, danced every dance, was angry that the ball closed so early, and talked of giving one himself at Netherfield.

A highly anticipated ball due to eligible bachelor Bingley being in the area; the Bennet sisters have a ball at the Meryton Ball. But, with him he brings a snobbish stranger that turns out to be the one and only Mr Darcy. Dances are danced, shots are fired, and the pride and prejudice begins.

Gryffindor Common Room Party from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

There were mountains of cakes and flagons of pumpkin juice and Butterbeer on every surface; Lee Jordan had let off some Dr Filibuster’s Fabulous No-Heat, Wet-Start Fireworks, so that the air was thick with stars and sparks; and Dean Thomas, who was very good at drawing, had put up some impressive new banners, most of which depicted Harry zooming around the Horntail’s head on his Firebolt, though a couple showed Cedric with his head on fire.

Defeating a dragon is an excellent excuse for a party, and the Gryffindors really know how to party. Most forget about this party due to the glamour and melodrama of The Yule Ball, but you can’t beat a classic Hogwarts House Party with your mates.

Gatsby’s Summer Party from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.

Champagne and oranges, fairy lights, marquees, an orchestra, cocktails, girls in gowns, and jazz until the sun comes up. Made even more intriguing with the absence of Gatsby himself, everyone longed to be there. It’s no wonder Nick Carraway romanticised the Summer evening he spent in attendance at one of these infamous parties. Like one of the anonymous girls from the city, I’d like to get rip-roaring drunk on Gatsby’s champagne, dance on the grand piano, and finish the night in the fountain.

Inbox/Outbox: November 24, 2017

Thanksgiving weekend for me has always been a cozy weekend of family and books, of independent bookstore visits and walks through their local park’s rose garden. This weekend is no exception—I am buried in books and bookshelves. My to-read shelf for the rest of the year is a dream of favorite authors, feminist discourse, and highly-recommended 2017 releases. What a dream.

Inbox (Books Acquired)

The cover of the Name of the Wind 10th anniversary editionThe Name of the Wind: 10th anniversary deluxe edition by Patrick Rothfuss

My 10th anniversary edition of this gorgeous epic fantasy beginning of music and magic, signed by Rothfuss, recently arrived in the mail. Kvothe’s tales are an absolute masterpiece of scope, and I’m still in suspense over how Rothfuss will manage to wrap the whole thing up in a single volume in Doors of Stone. For now, I’m just in awe of this beautiful volume and excited to dig into its bonus content.

Outbox (Books Finished)

Excerpts from The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir

De Beauvoir is sarcastic, witty, and engaging, and this abridged version of her text (from the UK) is short and to the point. I wasn’t surprised to find that her feminist discourse was genius, given the popularity and fame of this text, but I was surprised by how accessible this text was to read. I’m considering a commitment to read the full 800-page book in the future, because the way De Beauvoir digs into society, into the way women internalize sexism and the patriarchal system, into the ways economic independence isn’t accomplished but also isn’t enough, is brutal and incredible. The only bad thing about reading this was the realization that it was written in 1949 but could have been written today. The cover of Mostly Void, Partially Stars, a Night Vale Novel

Mostly Void, Partially Stars (Welcome to Night Vale Episodes #1) and The Great Glowing Coils of the Universe (Welcome to Night Vale Episodes #2) by joseph fink and jeffrey candor

I fell in love with Welcome to Night Vale early in 2013, but here’s the thing: I’m not a big podcast person, and as hard as I tried (and I swear, I did try), my fandom eventually faded out with my ability to remember to carry headphones with me when I went places. So when I saw my sister reading the scripts put into book form, I was thrilled—and she noticed, getting them for me for my birthday last year. Both volumes are fantastic compendiums of the episodes, and because I have the voices of Cecil and Carlos rolling around in my head, the only thing I’m truly missing out on is the weather. The volumes cover the first two seasons, and have a lot of bonus content for dedicated listeners about the origins and creative processes behind Welcome to Night Vale.

In the Queue (What I’m Reading Next)

A Writer’s Diary by Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf stole my heart first with the non-binary main character in magical realist Orlando and most recently with the twisty, visual epic that is The Waves, so when I was in London, I made a special trek to Persephone Books, a feminist small press and bookstore where they sell her A Writer’s Diary in their classic minimalist grey. I’m digging into these extracts with a pen, ready to circle and underline and star, ready to be immersed in the mind of a genius.

We Are Okay cover by Nina LaCourWe Are Okay by Nina LaCour

How many times can you hear the people in your life rave about a book and still have not read it despite it living on your to-read shelf? I’m finally going to read We Are Okay this holiday season. I’ve heard that it delves deep into anxiety and grief, and I’m looking forward to reading a character with good anxiety representation.

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

This is another one that I really planned to read earlier in the year, but which I’m excited to see finally approaching my currently-reading list. I’ve followed Rio online for a long time, and am looking forward to her Shakespearean, coming-of-age tale.

What books did you begin or finish this week?

Must-Read Science Nonfiction in Honor of ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES

On this day 158 years ago, a book that gave us the theory of natural selection and revolutionized what we know about evolution was published. Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species came out, and it’s still kind of a big deal.

Darwin shook up the science community way back when, but now let’s look at some other scientists working and writing today, who keep either pushing the envelope of discovery, or do a fine job of raising awareness of the theories, concerns, and state of their subject matter. This list of nonfiction science is also great for any science nerds in your life who totally dig well-written nonfiction in the science fields (and most have a healthy dose of humor thrown in). The holidays are coming up, after all.

Let’s go by subgenre, shall we?

Discoveries in Spaaaaace

How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown

We don’t talk much about Eris, do we? Eris, the planet discovered in 2005, almost became the tenth planet in our solar system? And then not, because we kicked Pluto out of the planet club? Meet the astronomer who discovered it, and who played a role in Pluto and Eris’s demotion to dwarf planet status. Mike Brown discovered a planet, y’all—I think we can cut him some slack for Pluto’s downgrade, and read what he has to say about discovering a new planet, in our solar system, in our lifetime.

Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space by Janna Levin

Two years ago, two black holes collided together and gave us solid proof that gravitational waves exist (what’s more, the collision itself happened 1.3 billion years ago. Just sit on that for a minute). Janna Levin, astrophysicist and professor at Barnard College, writes about the trio of scientists who tracked the waves, made the discovery, and won a Nobel Peace price for it.

Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That’ll Improve and/or Ruin Everything by Kelly Weinersmith and Zach Weinersmith

Now, this one doesn’t neatly fit into one category because it talks about new tech and discoveries in other disciplines, but there’s an entire section devoted to the universe, so work with me. The book starts with “The Final Frontier is Too Damn Expensive,” and only gets funnier from there. Researcher Dr. Kelly Weinersmith and cartoonist Zach Weinersmith walk us through illustrated looks at ten new technologies such as asteroid mining, a space elevator, and programmable matter.

Discoveries in People Organisms

Neurocomic by Hana Roš and Matteo Farinella

You’ll journey through the human brain in this graphic novel courtesy of neuroscientist Dr. Hana Roš and neuroscientist-turned-scientific illustrator Dr. Matteo Farinella. This is a really accessible way to take in all that we’ve discovered about how our brains do what they do.

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

Medicine has changed our lives for the better and prolonged our lives, but when it comes to end of life…we don’t know when to stop, do we? We want to live forever, right? Atul Gawande is a surgeon, and through research and his own experiences, he explores the role medicine plays in aging and end-of-life care—a role that can be counter-intuitive to the improvement of life, even at its end.

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Yong

Let’s go small. Like way small. Microbes live in us and in other creatures and they’re responsible for the illnesses we hate…but also responsible for breaking down our food and shaping our organs. Vital stuff. Ed Yong, a science writer for The Atlantic, wants us to look at microbes in a new light, and focuses on the interconnection that microbes, humans, and all life on earth have.

Discoveries in Non-People Organisms

The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart

This one’s cheating a little, because it’s more of a look back than a look forward, but, well…it’s about plants! Turning into alcohol! We’ve been fermenting and distilling since time immemorial in order to get us some of that, and Amy Stewart is here to show us how we have used every herb, flower, fruit, nut, and grain under the sun to make the hard stuff. And there’s recipes.

Bread, Wine, and Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love by Simran Sethi

Sethi, an award-winning journalist, is here to tell you that your food choices are boring. It’s not really your fault—apparently, the foods we love are victims of genetic erosion, which is why you can get the same exact meal in Juneau that you would get in New Orleans at any time of the year. A whopping 95% of the world’s calories comes from just thirty species. Find out why that is, and what we can do about it, as Sethi talks with scientists, farmers, and chefs from around the world about the food we eat.

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal

Also, we’re not as smart as we think we are, either.  (Wow, ending on a downer note, aren’t we?) Frans de Waal, a biologist, dives into what we know about animal intelligence and how research has expanded our views and knowledge of different forms of cognition present in animals that we lack. Sure, our brains are things of complex beauty, but this book will remind you of the sophistication found in how animals behave, reason, and act.

 

Bookish Gift Guide: Coloring Book Edition

Let’s say you want to give a bookish gift, but it’s basically impossible to remember which books the intended recipient already has. Or maybe your friend isn’t much of a reader at all. Or perhaps that special someone keeps meaning to try mindfulness, but just hasn’t gotten around to it.

Regardless, coloring books make great gifts because there are so many to choose from, plus they’re a gift and an activity all in one. Here are a few ideas for coloring book gifting this holiday season.

If you bonded over the stress of watching The Great British Bake Off… 

The Great British Bake Off Colouring Book is a great way to relive the drama without the risk of soggy bottoms and collapsing showstoppers.

 

 

Bob's Burgers coloring book coverFor the friend that won’t stop talking about Bob’s Burgers… 

Let them color in some friend fiction with Tina and practice punny burger names with Bob in The Official Bob’s Burgers Coloring Book.

 

 

 

 

If they really need some happy little trees in their world…

Free them from the pressure of creating a masterpiece from scratch by letting them color between the lines in The Official Bob Ross Coloring Book.

 

Cover of Wine Life: A Snarky Adult Colouring BookFor the wine lover who’s basically a sommelier…

#WineLife: A Snarky Adult Colouring Book will give them a colorful companion activity on those solo wine nights.

 

 

 

 

 

Cover of The Art of Coloring: The Golden GirlsFor the friend you plan to grow old and silly with…

Grab a copy of Art of Coloring: The Golden Girls so they can dream about the antics you’ll get up to together in years to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover for Married Life: A Snarky Adult Coloring BookIf they’re one of the Smug Marrieds…

Give them the gift of a sense of humor about their relationship, as well as some built-in “them-time” with #Married Life: A Snarky Adult Coloring Book.

 

 

 

 

For the one who’s constantly posting camping photos on Instagram…

Help them enjoy the great outdoors from the comfort of their home with The National Parks Coloring Book.

 

 

 

 

If they can’t get enough of RuPaul’s Drag Race… 

Grab them a copy of this Drag Queen Coloring Book, which features pages upon pages of fabulously colorable images from Rupaul’s Drag Race.

 

 

 

 

 

For your fellow bookworm…

Pair Bookish: A Coloring Book for Book Lovers with some fuzzy socks so they can comfortably curl up with a good (coloring) book.

 

 

 

 

If they’ve had a rough year and/or just love to swear…

Help them chill out with Calm the F*ck Down: An Irreverant Adult Coloring Book.

 

 

 

 

 

So there you have it, a selection of delightfully specific coloring books for your gift-giving pleasure.

36 Of My Favorite ALICE IN WONDERLAND Quotes

For not being a very lengthy story, there are so many fantastic Alice in Wonderland quotes to be found among this beloved tale. It’s hard to pull out “the best” quotes without just copying everything. At the risk of being verbose, here are 36 of my favorite Alice in Wonderland quotes, grouped by character.

Alice in Wonderland quotes From Alice Herself

“And what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversations?” —Chapter 1, Down the Rabbit-Hole

“How funny it’ll seem to come out among the people that walk with their heads downwards! The antipathies, I think—” —Chapter 1, Down the Rabbit-Hole

“Oh, how I wish I could shut up like a telescope! I think I could, if only I knew how to begin.” For, you see, so many out-of-the-way things had happened lately, that Alice had begun to think that very few things indeed were really impossible. —Chapter 1, Down the Rabbit-Hole

It was all very well to say “Drink me,” but the wise little Alice was not going to do that in a hurry. “No, I’ll look first,” she said, “and see whether it’s marked ‘poison’ or not.” —Chapter 1, Down the Rabbit-Hole

“But it’s no use now,” thought poor Alice, “to pretend to be two people! Why, there’s hardly enough of me left to make one respectable person!” —Chapter 1, Down the Rabbit-Hole

“Curiouser and curiouser!” cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English). —Chapter 2, The Pool of Tears

“I wish I hadn’t cried so much!” said Alice, as she swam about, trying to find her way out. “I shall be punished for it now, I suppose, by being drowned in my own tears! That will be a queer thing, to be sure! However, everything is queer to-day.” —Chapter 2, The Pool of Tears

“I suppose I ought to eat or drink something or other; but the great question is ‘What?’” —Chapter 4, The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill

“I do wish I hadn’t drunk quite so much!” —Chapter 4, The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill

“When I used to read fairy tales, I fancied that kind of thing never happened, and now here I am in the middle of one!” —Chapter 4, The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill

“Well! I’ve often seen a cat without a grin,” thought Alice; “but a grin without a cat! It’s the most curious thing I ever saw in all my life!” —Chapter 6, Pig and Pepper

“How do you like the Queen?” said the Cat in a low voice.
“Not at all,” said Alice: “she’s so extremely—” Just then she noticed that the Queen was close behind her, listening: so she went on “—likely to win, that it’s hardly worth while finishing the game.” —Chapter 8, The Queen’s Croquet-Ground

“I don’t see how he can ever finish, if he doesn’t begin.” —Chapter 9, The Mock Turtle’s Story

The Eaglet quotes

“Speak English!” said the Eaglet. “I don’t know the meaning of half those long words, and, what’s more, I don’t believe you do either!” —Chapter 3, A Caucus-Race and a Long Tale

The Lory quotes

“I’m older than you, and must know better.” —Chapter 3, A Caucus-Race and a Long Tale

The Dodo quotes

“The best way to explain it is to do it.” —Chapter 3, A Caucus-Race and a Long Tale

The White Rabbit quotes

“The Duchess! The Duchess! Oh my dear paws! Oh my fur and whiskers! She’ll get me executed, as sure as ferrets are ferrets!” —Chapter 4, The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill

The Caterpillar quotes

“Who are you?” said the Caterpillar.
This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, “I—I hardly know, Sir, just at present—at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.”
“What do you mean by that?” said the Caterpillar, sternly. “Explain yourself!”
“I ca’n’t explain myself, I’m afraid, Sir,” said Alice, “because I am not myself, you see.” —Chapter 5, Advice from a Caterpillar

The Cheshire Cat quotes

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where—” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“—so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.” —Chapter 6, Pig and Pepper

“In that direction,” the Cat said, waving its right paw round, “lives a Hatter: and in that direction,” waving the other paw, “lives a March Hare. Visit either you like: they’re both mad.”
“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you ca’n’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.” —Chapter 6, Pig and Pepper

“To begin with,” said the Cat, “a dog’s not mad. You grant that?”
“I suppose so,” said Alice.
“Well, then,” the Cat went on, “you see a dog growls when it’s angry, and wags it’s tail when it’s pleased. Now I growl when I’m pleased, and wag my tail when I’m angry. Therefore I’m mad.”
I call it purring, not growling,” said Alice.
“Call it what you like,” said the Cat. —Chapter 6, Pig and Pepper

The Duchess quotes

“If everybody minded their own business,” the Duchess said, in a hoarse growl, “the world would go round a deal faster than it does.” —Chapter 6, Pig and Pepper

“Tut, tut, child!” said the Duchess. “Everything’s got a moral, if only you can find it.” —Chapter 9, The Mock Turtle’s Story

“And the moral of that is—’Oh, ‘tis love, ‘tis love, that makes the world go round!’”
“Somebody said,” Alice whispered, “that it’s done by everybody minding their own business!
“Ah well! It means much the same thing,” said the Duchess, digging her sharp little chin into Alice’s shoulder as she added, “and the moral of that is—‘Take care of the sense, and the sounds will take care of themselves.’” —Chapter 9, The Mock Turtle’s Story

“And the moral of that is—‘Be what you would seem to be’—or, if you’d like it put more simply—‘Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.’” —Chapter 9, The Mock Turtle’s Story

The Hatter quotes

“Really, now you ask me,” said Alice, very much confused, “I don’t think—”
“Then you shouldn’t talk,” said the Hatter. —Chapter 7, A Mad Tea-Party

“Take some more tea,” the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.
“I’ve had nothing yet,” Alice replied in an offended tone: “so I ca’n’t take more.”
“You mean you ca’n’t take less,” said the Hatter: “It’s very easy to take more than nothing.” —Chapter 7, A Mad Tea-Party

The March Hare quotes

“Have some wine,” the March Hare said in an encouraging tone.
Alice looked all round the table, but there was nothing on it but tea. “I don’t see any wine,” she remarked.
“There isn’t any,” said the March Hare.
“Then it wasn’t very civil of you to offer it,” said Alice angrily.
“It wasn’t very civil of you to sit down without being invited,” said the March Hare. —Chapter 7, A Mad Tea-Party

The Mock Turtle and the Gryphon quotes

“When we were little,” the Mock Turtle went on at last, more calmly, though still sobbing a little now and then,” we went to school in the sea. The master was an old Turtle—we used to call him Tortoise—”
“Why did you call him Tortoise, if he wasn’t one?” asked Alice.
“We called him Tortoise because he taught us,” said the Mock Turtle angrily. “Really you are very dull!” —Chapter 9, The Mock Turtle’s Story

“And how many hours a day did you do lessons?” said Alice, in a hurry to change the subject.
“Ten hours the first day,” said the Mock Turtle: “nine the next, and so on.”
“What a curious plan!” exclaimed Alice.
“That’s the reason they’re called lessons,” the Gryphon remarked: “because they lessen from day to day.” —Chapter 9, The Mock Turtle’s Story

The Queen of Hearts quotes

The Queen turned crimson with fury, and, after glaring at her for a moment like a wild beast, began screaming “Off with her head! Off with—”
“Nonsense!” said Alice, very loudly and decidedly, and the Queen was silent. —Chapter 8, The Queen’s Croquet-Ground

“No, no!” said the Queen. “Sentence first—verdict afterwards.” —Chapter 12, Alice’s Evidence

The King of Hearts quotes

“I don’t like the look of it at all,” said the King: “however, it may kiss my hand, if it likes.” —Chapter 8, The Queen’s Croquet-Ground

“If there’s no meaning in it,” said the King, “that saves a world of trouble, you know, as we needn’t try to find any.” —Chapter 12, Alice’s Evidence

“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” —Chapter 12, Alice’s Evidence

“If you didn’t sign it,” said the King, “that only makes the matter worse. You must have meant some mischief, or else you’d have signed your name like an honest man.” —Chapter 12, Alice’s Evidence

“Rule Forty-two. All persons more than a mile high to leave the court.”
Everybody looked at Alice.
I’m not a mile high,” said Alice.
“You are,” said the King.
“Nearly two miles high,” added the Queen.
“Well, I sha’n’t go, at any rate,” said Alice; “besides, that’s not a regular rule: you invented it just now.”
“It’s the oldest rule in the book,” said the King.
“Then it ought to be Number One,” said Alice. —Chapter 12, Alice’s Evidence

What are some of your favorite Alice in Wonderland quotes? Want even more Alice? Check out: 

It’s Not A Dream: 18 Works of Alice In Wonderland Art

Down The Rabbit Hole: 5 Alice In Wonderland Retellings

13 Times Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland Got A Little Too Real

12 Reasons To Use a Kindle to Read Your Book Club Book

I read books in all formats—hardbacks, paperbacks, ebooks, and audiobooks. I’m in five book clubs: two face-to-face, two online, and one 2-Person Book Club. There are different reasons for selecting a book’s format for book club reading. Quite often cost is the main factor, so I try to get books from the library first, or buy them in the cheapest format I can find. However, in recent months the Kindle’s advantages for book clubbing are winning out. Here are twelve reasons why I’m willing to pay for the Kindle edition:

  1. The Kindle allows for easy highlighting. I’ve learned to highlight any passage worth discussing. Then at the meeting, I call up all the highlights—they work like a script for what I want to say. It is true that you can use a highlighter on a physical book and a sticky note at each place highlighted to achieve the same goal, but it damages the book and is less convenient.
  2. The Kindle allows copying a scene or section of dialog from a book into an email. This is great for online book clubs. (I wished Amazon would keep the line formatting because I must carefully add carriage returns to reformat the pasted quote.) I can use a scanner and free OCR software to do the same task with physical books, but it takes more work.
  3. The Kindle also allows readers to share highlighted quotes on their smartphones, letting members discuss books between meetings. This is best for small groups. Sharing quotes via smartphones is great for intensive close reading.
  4. I have found books on my phone, either the Kindle or Audible, are ones I’m most likely to frequently read during the day. I love listening to books and feel audiobooks are the best way to experience great fiction, but to be honest, unless I take notes while listening, I don’t recall as much from audiobooks. And I seldom take notes while listening. Whenever I listen to an audiobook that I want to seriously discuss I end up aching for the Kindle version. (I wish audio/ebook combo editions were standard for one fair price.)
  5. It’s easier to find passages in books at face-to-face book clubs when using the search feature inside the Kindle book. Keyword searching is much faster than flipping pages.
  6. For 2-person book clubs that meet on the phone, the Kindle is fantastic. We put each other on speaker and then use all the features of the Kindle book while we talk.
  7. Because the sample chapters of Kindle books are free, it makes it easier to get club members to try a book when campaigning for next month’s book.
  8. I often blog about the books I’ve read at book clubs, so the Kindle highlighting and quoting features make it much easier to remember and cite passages.
  9. When I buy the Kindle edition I find myself more committed to reading and participating in the group.
  10. The built-in dictionary makes serious reading easier.
  11. Wikipedia and Google are just a double-tap away.
  12. Because interacting with the Kindle edition makes it a smartbook, I work harder to understand the book, and that makes me feel like a better book club member.

Now for some truth in advertising. There are disadvantages to using a Kindle book for book clubbing.

  1. Physical books are much nicer for passing around at meetings.
  2. A physical book is better for campaigning for next month’s read during the meeting.
  3. Carrying a hardback is far more stylish.
  4. People talk to you more when you’re holding the hardback.
  5. In some of my book clubs, audiobooks are the main reason why some members participate. If the book is not available on audio it gets fewer votes to be selected.
  6. Many bookworms still prefer paper.
  7. Not all books are available on the Kindle.
  8. Kindle books can be expensive. In some of my book clubs, members won’t vote for a book if they can’t get it for free at the library or very cheap. Most older books can be bought used online for $4 including shipping while their ebook price keeps rising.
  9. A high price Kindle edition will turn me off from participating that month.