Outlandish Lit

8 Books To Look For This December

Monday, December 4, 2017

8 Books To Look For This December :: Outlandish Lit
I'm back with 8 more 2017 books! I definitely did not think there were more than two or three books of interest coming out during December. Publishing pretty much stops in November. But I was surprised by a number of titles that are definitely worth checking out before the year is over. We've got some books in translation, a book by a sf goddess, and even a finalist for the Man Booker Prize this year. We lucked out. Happy holidays, folks!


Record of a Night Too Brief by Hiromi Kawakami (Dec 5)

ADD TO GOODREADS
In these three haunting and lyrical stories, three young women experience unsettling loss and romance.

In a dreamlike adventure, one woman travels through an apparently unending night with a porcelain girlfriend, mist-monsters and villainous monkeys; a sister mourns her invisible brother whom only she can still see, while the rest of her family welcome his would-be wife into their home; and an accident with a snake leads a shop girl to discover the snake-families everyone else seems to be concealing. - I am VERY interested in Pushkin Press' Japanese novella series, and this is probably the collection I'm most interested in.


Elmet by Fiona Mozley (Dec 5)

ADD TO GOODREADS
The family thought the little house they had made themselves in Elmet, a corner of Yorkshire, was theirs, that their peaceful, self-sufficient life was safe. Cathy and Daniel roamed the woods freely, occasionally visiting a local woman for some schooling, living outside all conventions. Their father built things and hunted, working with his hands; sometimes he would disappear, forced to do secret, brutal work for money, but to them he was a gentle protector.

Narrated by Daniel after a catastrophic event has occurred, Elmet mesmerizes even as it becomes clear the family's solitary idyll will not last. When a local landowner shows up on their doorstep, their precarious existence is threatened, their innocence lost. Daddy and Cathy, both of them fierce, strong, and unyielding, set out to protect themselves and their neighbors, putting into motion a chain of events that can only end in violence. - A debut novel AND a finalist for the Man Booker Prize. GOD DAMN.


The Girl in the Tower (Winternight #2) by Katherine Arden (Dec 5)

ADD TO GOODREADS
Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.
- People are RAVING about this book, so I really need to read the first novel in the trilogy, The Bear and the Nightingale.


No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters by Ursula K. Le Guin (Dec 5)

ADD TO GOODREADS
Ursula K. Le Guin has taken readers to imaginary worlds for decades. Now she’s in the last great frontier of life, old age, and exploring new literary territory: the blog, a forum where her voice—sharp, witty, as compassionate as it is critical—shines. No Time to Spare collects the best of Ursula’s blog, presenting perfectly crystallized dispatches on what matters to her now, her concerns with this world, and her wonder at it.

On the absurdity of denying your age, she says, “If I’m ninety and believe I’m forty-five, I’m headed for a very bad time trying to get out of the bathtub.” On cultural perceptions of fantasy: “The direction of escape is toward freedom. So what is ‘escapism’ an accusation of?” On her new cat: “He still won’t sit on a lap…I don’t know if he ever will. He just doesn’t accept the lap hypothesis.” On breakfast: “Eating an egg from the shell takes not only practice, but resolution, even courage, possibly willingness to commit crime.” And on all that is unknown, all that we discover as we muddle through life: “How rich we are in knowledge, and in all that lies around us yet to learn. Billionaires, all of us.” - I don't feel great about publishing blog posts, but it's Ursula so whatever.


The World Goes On by László Krasznahorkai (Dec 5)

ADD TO GOODREADS
In The World Goes On, a narrator first speaks directly, then tells eleven unforgettable stories, and then bids farewell (“for here I would leave this earth and these stars, because I would take nothing with me”). As László Krasznahoraki himself explains: “Each text is about drawing our attention away from this world, speeding our body toward annihilation, and immersing ourselves in a current of thought or a narrative…” A Hungarian interpreter obsessed with waterfalls, at the edge of the abyss in his own mind, wanders the chaotic streets of Shanghai. A traveler, reeling from the sights and sounds of Varanasi, encounters a giant of a man on the banks of the Ganges ranting on the nature of a single drop of water. A child laborer in a Portuguese marble quarry wanders off from work one day into a surreal realm utterly alien from his daily toils. The World Goes On is another amazing masterpiece by the winner of the 2015 Man Booker International Prize. “The excitement of his writing,” Adam Thirwell proclaimed in the New York Review of Books, “is that he has come up with this own original forms—there is nothing else like it in contemporary literature.”


The Vanishing Princess by Jenny Diski (Dec 5)

ADD TO GOODREADS
The stories in The Vanishing Princess showcase a rarely seen side of this beloved writer, channeling both the piercing social examination of her nonfiction and the vivid, dreamlike landscapes of her novels. In a Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale turned on its head, a miller’s daughter rises to power and wealth to rule over her kingdom and outwit the title villain. “Bathtime” tells the story of a woman’s life through her attempts to build the perfect bathtub, chasing an elusive moment of peace. In “Short Curcuit,” the author mines her own bouts in and out of mental institutions outside London to question whether those we think are mad are really the sanest among us.


The Mannequin Makers by Craig Cliff (Dec 12)

ADD TO GOODREADS
Excitement is rare in the small town of Marumaru, New Zealand. So when a young Maori man arrives on the morning train one day in 1903--announcing the imminent visit of a famous strongman--the entire town turns out to greet him, save one. Colton Kemp, a department store window-dresser, is at home, watching his beloved wife die in premature childbirth. Tormented by grief, he hatches a plan to make his name and thwart his rival, the silent and gifted Carpenter: over the next sixteen years he will raise his newborn twins in secrecy and isolation, to become human mannequins in the world's most lifelike window display. - Agreed. Children should be seen, not heard.


Stone Baby by Michelle Sacks (Dec 15)

ADD TO GOODREADS
This debut collection of stories by Michelle Sacks features characters from many walks of life, scattered around the globe—a young Irish woman backpacking in India, an ambitious black South African businessman, a roving killer for hire, a former SS officer. Their stories usually lead them—and us—to pivotal events that reveal unexpected, hidden truths.

Working on a large canvas that encompasses the extremes of rural Africa and urban London, material poverty and the surfeit of privilege, Sacks writes stories peopled by characters whose lives occasionally crisscross, with a protagonist in one story playing a deceptively small role in another. The stories artfully illuminate the rich interconnections and clashes that occur as her characters strike out boldly, yet find themselves at the mercy of capricious waves of circumstance.

Stone Baby explores movement, loss, and reinvention in the lives of people who are in the wrong place, in the wrong body, perhaps in the wrong life—it encapsulates an engrossing and urgent message in our age of migration and dislocation. - Can we talk about this cover??





What books are you looking forward to this December?

11 Books To Look For This November

Monday, November 6, 2017

11 Books To Look For This November :: Outlandish Lit
Well, folks, the worst season ever is upon us. Or at least it is in Minnesota. Fall was a solid one month long and so begins our seven months of winter. I'm not ready. We're also about to hit the seasonal book drought where almost all book production, specifically by major publishers, screeches to a halt after November 14. So you might not see another one of these posts until 2018 if December looks particularly grim for new releases. I don't know about you, but I'll try to spend December catching up on the past few month's new releases.




Houses of Ravicka by Renee Gladman (Nov 1)

ADD TO GOODREADS
Ravicka’s comptroller, author of Regulating the Book of Regulations, seems to have lost a house. It is not where it’s supposed to be, though an invisible house on the far side of town, which corresponds to the missing house, remains appropriately invisible. Inside the invisible house, a nameless Ravickian considers how she came to the life she is living, and investigates the deep history of Ravicka—that mysterious city-country born of Renee Gladman’s philosophical, funny, audacious, extraordinary imagination. - The first book in the series is called Event Factory and I am INTRIGUED. Everything Dorothy, a publishing project does is intriguing to me tbh.


Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone by Juli Berwald (Nov 7)

ADD TO GOODREADS
Jellyfish are an enigma. They have no centralized brain, but they see and feel and react to their environment in complex ways. They look simple, yet their propulsion systems are so advanced that engineers are just learning how to mimic them. They produce some of the deadliest toxins on the planet and still remain undeniably alluring. Long ignored by science, they may be a key to ecosystem stability.

Juli Berwald's journey into the world of jellyfish is a personal one. More than a decade ago, she left the sea and her scientific career behind to raise a family in landlocked Austin, Texas. Increasingly dire headlines drew her back to jellies, as unprecedented jellyfish blooms toppled ecosystems and collapsed the world's most productive fisheries. What was unclear was whether these incidents were symptoms of a changing planet or part of a natural cycle.

Berwald's desire to understand jellyfish takes her on a scientific odyssey. She travels the globe to meet the scientists who devote their careers to jellies; hitches rides on Japanese fishing boats to see giant jellyfish in the wild; raises jellyfish in her dining room; and throughout it all marvels at the complexity of these fascinating and ominous biological wonders. Gracefully blending personal memoir with crystal-clear distillations of science, Spineless reveals that jellyfish are a bellwether for the damage we're inflicting on the climate and the oceans and a call to realize our collective responsibility for the planet we share. - Love 'em.


The Overneath by Peter S. Beagle (Nov 7)

ADD TO GOODREADS
An odd couple patrols a county full of mythological beasts and ornery locals. A familiar youngster from the world of The Last Unicorn is gifted in magic but terrible at spell-casting. A seemingly incorruptible judge meets his match in a mysterious thief who steals his heart. Two old friends discover that the Overneath goes anywhere, including locations better left unvisited.

Lyrical, witty, and insightful, The Overneath is Peter S. Beagle's much-anticipated return to the short form. In these uniquely beautiful and wholly original tales, with new and uncollected work, Beagle once again proves himself a master of the imagination.


Happy Baby by Stephen Elliott (Nov 7)

ADD TO GOODREADS
On a flight from Oakland to Chicago, Theo thinks about two women he left behind: Maria, the girlfriend who shared his troubled youth, and Ambellina, the woman who has been satisfying the masochistic desires that emerged from it. His return to Chicago, and Maria, spurs the backward movement of this innovative novel that chases him ever deeper into the darkness and violence of his past.

As a boy, Theo was shuffled from juvenile delinquent centers to foster homes, picking up odd jobs, addictions, and ill-fitting relationships along the way. Scenes of abuse and heartache are revealed chapter by chapter, but our discovery of his dignity and humanity continues, even when we are finally confronted with the eleven-year-old child who barely remembers what it feels like to be safe.


Mean by Myriam Gurba (Nov 14)

ADD TO GOODREADS
Myriam Gurba's debut is the bold and hilarious tale of her coming of age as a queer, mixed-race Chicana. Blending radical formal fluidity and caustic humor, Mean turns what might be tragic into piercing, revealing comedy. This is a confident, funny, brassy book that takes the cost of sexual assault, racism, misogyny, and homophobia deadly seriously. We act mean to defend ourselves from boredom and from those who would cut off our breasts. We act mean to defend our clubs and institutions. We act mean because we like to laugh. Being mean to boys is fun and a second-wave feminist duty. Being mean to men who deserve it is a holy mission. Sisterhood is powerful, but being mean is more exhilarating.

Being mean isn't for everybody. Being mean is best practiced by those who understand it as an art form. These virtuosos live closer to the divine than the rest of humanity. They're queers. - For the record, this is the one that I'm most excited about. Perhaps the most "me" book on this list.


The End We Start From by Megan Hunter (Nov 14)

ADD TO GOODREADS
As London is submerged below flood waters, a woman gives birth to her first child, Z. Days later, she and her baby are forced to leave their home in search of safety. They head north through a newly dangerous country seeking refuge from place to place, shelter to shelter, to a desolate island and back again. The story traces fear and wonder, as the baby’s small fists grasp at the first colors he sees, as he grows and stretches, thriving and content against all the odds. - I've seen some mixed reviews, but luckily this book is short enough that it'll be worth the risk! It sounds really good to me, though.


They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib (Nov 14)

ADD TO GOODREADS
In an age of confusion, fear, and loss, Hanif Abdurraqib's is a voice that matters. Whether he's attending a Bruce Springsteen concert the day after visiting Michael Brown's grave, or discussing public displays of affection at a Carly Rae Jepsen show, he writes with a poignancy and magnetism that resonates profoundly.

In the wake of the nightclub attacks in Paris, he recalls how he sought refuge as a teenager in music, at shows, and wonders whether the next generation of young Muslims will not be afforded that opportunity now. While discussing the everyday threat to the lives of black Americans, Abdurraqib recounts the first time he was ordered to the ground by police officers: for attempting to enter his own car. - Need this.


Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich (Nov 14)

ADD TO GOODREADS
The world as we know it is ending. Evolution has reversed itself, affecting every living creature on earth. Science cannot stop the world from running backwards, as woman after woman gives birth to infants that appear to be primitive species of humans. Thirty-two-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker, adopted daughter of a pair of big-hearted, open-minded Minneapolis liberals, is as disturbed and uncertain as the rest of America around her. But for Cedar, this change is profound and deeply personal. She is four months pregnant.

Though she wants to tell the adoptive parents who raised her from infancy, Cedar first feels compelled to find her birth mother, Mary Potts, an Ojibwe living on the reservation, to understand both her and her baby’s origins. As Cedar goes back to her own biological beginnings, society around her begins to disintegrate, fueled by a swelling panic about the end of humanity.

There are rumors of martial law, of Congress confining pregnant women. Of a registry, and rewards for those who turn these wanted women in. Flickering through the chaos are signs of increasing repression: a shaken Cedar witnesses a family wrenched apart when police violently drag a mother from her husband and child in a parking lot. The streets of her neighborhood have been renamed with Bible verses. A stranger answers the phone when she calls her adoptive parents, who have vanished without a trace. It will take all Cedar has to avoid the prying eyes of potential informants and keep her baby safe.


Lessons for a Child Who Arrives Late by Carlos Yushimito (Nov 14)

ADD TO GOODREADS
A mascot for an electronics store dreams of making it in the drug world of Rio de Janeiro. A tin man ponders the mysteries of death as a heart starts to take charge of his limbs, while in a place not so far away a boy tries to play the piano like Margarita, the teacher's cruel and beautiful niece. In stories filled with violence and tenderness, love and disconnection, Carlos Yushimito's long-anticipated debut explores the subtle space of estrangement.


Bunk: The True Story of Hoaxes, Hucksters, Humbug, Plagiarists, Forgeries, and Phonies by Kevin Young (Nov 14)

ADD TO GOODREADS
Award-winning poet and critic Kevin Young tours us through a rogue s gallery of hoaxers, plagiarists, forgers, and fakers from the humbug of P. T. Barnum and Edgar Allan Poe to the unrepentant bunk of JT LeRoy and Donald J. Trump. Bunk traces the history of the hoax as a peculiarly American phenomenon, examining what motivates hucksters and makes the rest of us so gullible. Disturbingly, Young finds that fakery is woven from stereotype and suspicion, race being the most insidious American hoax of all. He chronicles how Barnum came to fame by displaying figures like Joice Heth, a black woman whom he pretended was the 161-year-old nursemaid to George Washington, and What Is It?, an African American man Barnum professed was a newly discovered missing link in evolution.

Bunk then turns to the hoaxing of history and the ways that forgers, plagiarists, and journalistic fakers invent backstories and falsehoods to sell us lies about themselves and about the world in our own time, from pretend Native Americans Grey Owl and Nasdijj to the deadly imposture of Clark Rockefeller, from the made-up memoirs of James Frey to the identity theft of Rachel Dolezal. In this brilliant and timely work, Young asks what it means to live in a post-factual world of truthiness where everything is up for interpretation and everyone is subject to a pervasive cynicism that damages our ideas of reality, fact, and art.


Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa (Nov 14)

ADD TO GOODREADS
Sentaro has failed: he has a criminal record, drinks too much, and hasn't managed to fulfil his dream of becoming a writer. Instead, he works in a confectionery shop selling dorayaki, a type of pancake filled with a sweet paste made of red beans. With only the blossoming of the cherry trees to mark the passing of time, he spends his days listlessly filling the pastries. Until one day an elderly, handicapped woman enters the shop. Tokue makes the best bean paste imaginable, and begins to teach Sentaro her art. But as their friendship flourishes, societal prejudices become impossible to escape, in this quietly devastating novel about the burden of the past and the redemptive power of friendship. - Seems as though everybody who has read this book just loves it. It sounds so sweet! And, important note, it's "not overly sentimental." Music to my ears.




What books are you looking forward to this November?

A Readathon Mini-Challenge: #CoverFromMemory Halloween Edition

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Happy Readathon, everybody! I have a mini-challenge here for you...one that I absolutely adored doing last year, but this time there is a minor (Halloween-y) twist. It's the classic, very funny #CoverFromMemory. Here's more on the challenge:

I don't know about you all, but even before I was a bookseller, I prided myself on how I would remember the covers of books. I'm not completely helpless when a customer comes up to me and says that they don't know the name of the book, but it's blue. But how good would I actually be at reproducing these book covers? It's time to find out.

What I want you to do is think of a book. A creepy, scary, and/or vaguely spooky book... bc Halloween. Now, with no googling or shelf-searching, you need to draw it. You don't need to be an artist! Let's be real, the uglier it is, the better. Imaginary bonus points if you use MS Paint. Here's my example where I drew A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay, one of my all-time favorite horror novels.



Drawing probably scarier than the book. God, I was close, though!

Accuracy won't get you the win; just participation! Either post your creation in the comments or share it on social media with the hashtags #Readathon **AND** #CoverFromMemory. The winner will be randomly chosen and will get a $5 Amazon gift card and my Outlandish Lit Weird Ebook Bundle. Good luck and I hope you enjoy this spooky break from reading! The challenge ends at the end of Hour 10.

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon :: October 2017

Hi, book babes! This is my sixth time participating in Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon and I'm as excited as ever. If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out that link to sign up. It's exactly what it sounds like - you try to read for 24 hours. And there are prizes!

For the first readathon ever, I don't have to work!! I'm co-hosting the readathon, so be sure to say hi on the Readathon Twitter between 9 pm and 12 am central time. Also look out for my posts on the Readathon blog! Oh! And I'm hosting a mini-challenge here on the blog at 2 pm central time. Get in on it, it'll be fun, I promise!!


Most of my real-time, v exciting updates will be posted on twitter, instagram, and you can find me on Litsy as OutlandishLit! But I'll be using this post every few hours to update as well. Let me know if you're participating!


UPDATES

Hour 0

1 // What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Minneapolis, Minnesota.

2 // Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Probably The Doll's Alphabet

3 // Which snack are you most looking forward to?

I have some homemade zucchini bread that I remembered to thaw!

4 // Tell us a little something about yourself!

I'm a spooky gal who likes to read weird books. I'm a bookseller and I'm now training to be a used book buyer at Magers & Quinn in Minneapolis. I like forests, intersectional feminism, horror movies, reality tv, propagating succulents, crafting pretty things, and traveling.

5 // If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

I'm going to take some time to read some books in Japanese!

Hour 7

I've been trying to be a little more "chillaxed" about the readathon than I normally am. And so far so good! Since 7:30 I've been listening to the audiobook of the The Visionist, which I'm really enjoying bc it's sort of about a cult. I took a bath, I sat on the couch, it's been incredible. I also started a tiny little scary book called You Should Have Left by Daniel Kehlmann. I LOVE IT so far. I'm like 30 pages from the end, so once I finish prepping my mini-challenge for Hour 8, I'm going to wrap that bad boy up.

Ten in Ten Challenge
I'll be adding to this as I think of them:

2007 - The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (which I didn't love, but that's all I've got for 2007 haha)
2008 - Suicide by Edouard Leve
2009 - Light Boxes by Shane Jones
2010 - How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti
2011 - Embassytown by China Mieville
2012 - The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin
2013 - The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara
2014 - Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
2015 - A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin
2016 - Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt
2017 - Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin

Hour 12

Mid-Event Survey: 
1 // What are you reading right now? 
The Visionist by Rachel Urquhart and Agents of Dreamland by Caitlin Kiernan

2 // How many books have you read so far? 
One!

3 // What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? 
Oh god, I don't know. Maybe Penance by Kanae Minato, because I like to save thrillers for the end.

4 // Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? 
I just kind of audiobook during interruptions if that's possible. Otherwise I just do whatever I need to do and get back to the reading after WITHOUT beating myself up about it.

5 // What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? 
Nothing too surprising!

Hour 19

Well, it just turned Hour 19 here and it's 1 am. I had a great time co-hosting from hours 15-18, but it definitely ate into my reading time. I kept finding myself pausing my audiobook for long periods of time. So here I am now trying to finish up the audiobook I started and I've got probably 20 minutes left in it at double speed. I like this one (The Visionist) quite a bit. The other book I finished earlier was ALSO about a cult, which was kind of confusing when I switched back and forth. Agents of Dreamland had like everything I love in one small book. I definitely need to check out Caitlin Kiernan's other books. Oh, I also read the first 16 pages of Penance by Kanae Minato. I just can't fit everything in!! I'm pretty happy with what I did get to this readathon! Oh, p.s., You Should Have Left is GREAT.
  


TOTAL BOOKS READ: 2
TOTAL PAGES READ: 602
TOTAL HOURS READ: 13 hours

16 Books To Look For This October

Monday, October 2, 2017

16 Books To Look For In October 2017 :: Outlandish Lit
Holy moly, September completely got away from me. Does anybody else feel like it didn't even happen? I don't want to say I did nothing, but did I do anything? It's really hard to know. Anyway, I hope you aren't busy on October 3, because that will be the day to visit your local bookstore to watch the employees get rid of all of the old books and replace them with the 209,348,023,984 new books coming out that single day. Honestly, I don't know where we're going to put all this cool stuff when it comes out tomorrow.




Unruly Creatures: Stories by Jennifer Caloyeras (Oct 1)

ADD TO GOODREADS
In this collection rife with humor and pathos, alienated characters struggle to subvert, contain, control, and even escape their bodies. A teenage girl grapples with pubic hair grown wild, a biologist finds herself in love with a gorilla, a prisoner yearns to escape her biological destiny.

In some stories, the bodies have surrogates: a high-school girl babysits an elderly woman’s plastic doll while negotiating her own sexual awakening, and a young man finds that he can only receive affection from his father when he is in costume. Dark humor and magical realism put in sharp relief the everyday trials of Americans in a story collection that asks, in what way are we more than the sum of our parts?


Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado (Oct 3)

ADD TO GOODREADS
In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. While her work has earned her comparisons to Karen Russell and Kelly Link, she has a voice that is all her own. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women's lives and the violence visited upon their bodies.

A wife refuses her husband's entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store's prom dresses. One woman's surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest. And in the bravura novella Especially Heinous, Machado reimagines every episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show we naively assumed had shown it all, generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgangers, ghosts, and girls with bells for eyes. - SO SO SO SO GOOD.


Haunted Nights by Ellen Datlow (Oct 3)

ADD TO GOODREADS
Sixteen never-before-published chilling tales that explore every aspect of our darkest holiday, Halloween, co-edited by Ellen Datlow, one of the most successful and respected genre editors, and Lisa Morton, a leading authority on Halloween. In addition to stories about scheming jack-o'-lanterns, vengeful ghosts, otherworldly changelings, disturbingly realistic haunted attractions, masks that cover terrifying faces, murderous urban legends, parties gone bad, cult Halloween movies, and trick or treating in the future, Haunted Nights also offers terrifying and mind-bending explorations of related holidays like All Souls' Day, Dia de los Muertos, and Devil's Night. - There are some v solid stories in here so far. Editor Ellen Datlow can really do no wrong.


The Tiger's Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera (Oct 3)

ADD TO GOODREADS
The Hokkaran empire has conquered every land within their bold reach―but failed to notice a lurking darkness festering within the people. Now, their border walls begin to crumble, and villages fall to demons swarming out of the forests.

Away on the silver steppes, the remaining tribes of nomadic Qorin retreat and protect their own, having bartered a treaty with the empire, exchanging inheritance through the dynasties. It is up to two young warriors, raised together across borders since their prophesied birth, to save the world from the encroaching demons.

This is the story of an infamous Qorin warrior, Barsalayaa Shefali, a spoiled divine warrior empress, O-Shizuka, and a power that can reach through time and space to save a land from a truly insidious evil.


From Here to Eternity by Caitlin Doughty (Oct 3)

ADD TO GOODREADS
The best-selling author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes expands our sense of what it means to treat the dead with “dignity.” Fascinated by our pervasive terror of dead bodies, mortician Caitlin Doughty set out to discover how other cultures care for their dead. In rural Indonesia, she observes a man clean and dress his grandfather’s mummified body. Grandpa’s mummy has lived in the family home for two years, where the family has maintained a warm and respectful relationship. She meets Bolivian natitas (cigarette- smoking, wish- granting human skulls), and introduces us to a Japanese kotsuage, in which relatives use chopsticks to pluck their loved- ones’ bones from cremation ashes. With curiosity and morbid humor, Doughty encounters vividly decomposed bodies and participates in compelling, powerful death practices almost entirely unknown in America. Featuring Gorey-esque illustrations by artist Landis Blair, From Here to Eternity introduces death-care innovators researching green burial and body composting, explores new spaces for mourning— including a glowing- Buddha columbarium in Japan and America’s only open-air pyre— and reveals unexpected new possibilities for our own death rituals.


An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon (Oct 3)

ADD TO GOODREADS
Odd-mannered, obsessive, withdrawn, Aster has little to offer folks in the way of rebuttal when they call her ogre and freak. She's used to the names; she only wishes there was more truth to them. If she were truly a monster, as they accuse, she'd be powerful enough to tear down the walls around her until nothing remained of her world, save for stories told around the cookfire.

Aster lives in the low-deck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South. For generations, the Matilda has ferried the last of humanity to a mythical Promised Land. On its way, the ship's leaders have imposed harsh moral restrictions and deep indignities on dark-skinned sharecroppers like Aster, who they consider to be less than human.

When the autopsy of Matilda's sovereign reveals a surprising link between his death and her mother's suicide some quarter-century before, Aster retraces her mother's footsteps. Embroiled in a grudge with a brutal overseer and sowing the seeds of civil war, Aster learns there may be a way off the ship if she's willing to fight for it.


Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor (Oct 3)

ADD TO GOODREADS
Midwinter in an English village. A teenage girl has gone missing. Everyone is called upon to join the search. The villagers fan out across the moors as the police set up roadblocks and a crowd of news reporters descends on what is usually a place of peace. Meanwhile, there is work that must still be done: cows milked, fences repaired, stone cut, pints poured, beds made, sermons written, a pantomime rehearsed. As the seasons unfold and the search for the missing girl goes on, there are those who leave the village and those who are pulled back; those who come together and those who break apart. There are births and deaths; secrets kept and exposed; livelihoods made and lost; small kindnesses and unanticipated betrayals. An extraordinary novel of cumulative power and grace, RESERVOIR 13 explores the rhythms of the natural world and the repeated human gift for violence, unfolding over thirteen years as the aftershocks of a tragedy refuse to subside. - I've only heard incredible things about this from my colleagues.


The Genius Plague by David Walton (Oct 3)

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What if the pandemic you thought would kill you made you more intelligent instead? In the Amazon jungle, a disease is spreading. To those who survive, it grants enhanced communication, memory, and pattern recognition. But the miracle may be the sinister survival mechanism of a fungal organism, manipulating the infected into serving it. Paul Johns, a mycologist, is convinced the fungal host is the next stage of human evolution, while his brother Neil, an analyst at the NSA, is committed to its destruction. Is the human race the master in this symbiotic relationship, or are we becoming the pawns of a subtly dominating and utterly alien intelligence?


The Doll's Alphabet by Camilla Grudova (Oct 10)

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Dolls, sewing machines, tinned foods, mirrors, malfunctioning bodies—by constantly reinventing ways to engage with her obsessions and motifs, Camilla Grudova has built a universe that's highly imaginative, incredibly original, and absolutely discomfiting. The stories in The Doll's Alphabet are by turns child-like and naive, grotesque and very dark: the marriage of Margaret Atwood and Angela Carter. - Sheila Heti and Helen Oyeyemi are into it, so I WILL BE TOO.


In the Distance by Hernan Diaz (Oct 10)

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A young Swedish boy finds himself in penniless and alone in California. He travels East in search of his brother, moving on foot against the great push to the West. Driven back over and over again on his journey through vast expanses, Håkan meets naturalists, criminals, religious fanatics, Indians, and lawmen, and his exploits turn him into a legend. Díaz defies the conventions of historical fiction and genre (travel narratives, the bildungsroman, nature writing, the Western), offering a probing look at the stereotypes that populate our past and a portrait of radical foreignness.

At first, it was a contest, but in time the beasts understood that, with an embrace and the slightest push, they had to lie down on their side and stay until Håkan got up. He did this each time he thought he spied someone on the circular horizon. Had Håkan and his animals ever been spotted, the distant travelers would have taken the vanishing silhouettes for a mirage. But there were no such travelers—the moving shadows he saw almost every day in the distance were illusions. With the double intention of getting away from the trail and the cold, he had traveled south for days.


The Power by Naomi Alderman (Oct 10)

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In The Power the world is a recognizable place: there's a rich Nigerian kid who larks around the family pool; a foster girl whose religious parents hide their true nature; a local American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But something vital has changed, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power - they can cause agonizing pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world changes utterly.

This extraordinary novel by Naomi Alderman, a Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year and Granta Best of British writer, is not only a gripping story of how the world would change if power was in the hands of women but also exposes, with breath-taking daring, our contemporary world.


Infinite Ground by Martin MacInnes (Oct 17)

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During a sweltering South American summer, a family convenes for dinner at a restaurant. Midway through the meal, Carlos disappears. An experienced, semi-retired inspector takes the case, but what should be a routine investigation becomes something strange, intangible, even sinister. The corporation for which Carlos worked seems to serve no purpose; the staff talk of their missing colleague's alarming, shifting physical symptoms; a forensic scientist uncovers evidence of curious abnormalities in the thriving ecosystem of cells and bacteria that made up Carlos's body. As the inspector relives and retraces the missing man's footsteps, the trail leads him deep into the country's rainforest interior, where he encounters both horror and wonder.


I Can't Breathe: A Killing on Bay Street by Matt Taibbi (Oct 24)

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On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner died in Staten Island, New York City, after a police officer put him in what has been described as a “chokehold” during an arrest for selling “loosies,” or single cigarettes. The final moments of his life were captured on video and seen by millions, sparking a nationwide series of protests that built into the “Black Lives Matter” movement that has transformed American politics.

Weeks after Garner’s death, two New York City police officers were killed by a young black man from Maryland, in what he claimed was revenge for Garner’s death. Those killings in turn led to police protests, clashes with New York’s new liberal mayor, and an eventual work slow-down.

Taibbi tells a compelling story of the crime, the grand jury, the media circus, the murder of the police, and the protests from every side.


Above the Timberline by Gregory Manchess (Oct 24)

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From renowned artist Gregory Manchess comes a lavishly painted novel about the son of a famed polar explorer searching for his stranded father, and a lost city buried under snow in an alternate future.

When it started to snow, it didn’t stop for 1,500 years. The Pole Shift that ancient climatologists talked about finally came, the topography was ripped apart and the weather of the world was changed—forever. Now the Earth is covered in snow, and to unknown depths in some places.

In this world, Wes Singleton leaves the academy in search of his father, the famed explorer Galen Singleton, who was searching for a lost city until Galen’s expedition was cut short after being sabotaged. But Wes believes his father is still alive somewhere above the timberline.

Fully illustrated with over 120 pieces of full-page artwork throughout, Above the Timberline is a stunning and cinematic combination of art and novel. - I cannot wait to see this in person.


Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier by Mark Frost (Oct 31)

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While The Secret History of Twin Peaks served to expand the mysteries of the town and place the unexplained phenomena that unfolded there into a vastly layered, wide-ranging history, Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier tells us what happened to key characters in the twenty-five years in between the events of the first series and the second, offering details and insights fans will be clamoring for. The novel also adds context and commentary to the strange and cosmic happenings of the new series. For fans around the world begging for more, Mark Frost's final take laid out in this novel will be required reading. - I had no idea this was happening!!


The King is Always Above the People: Stories by Daniel Alarcón (Oct 31)

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Migration. Betrayal. Family secrets. Doomed love. Uncertain futures. In Daniel Alarcon's hands, these are transformed into deeply human stories with high stakes. In -The Thousands, - people are on the move and forging new paths; hope and heartbreak abound. A man deals with the fallout of his blind relatives' mysterious deaths and his father's mental breakdown and incarceration in -The Bridge.- A gang member discovers a way to forgiveness and redemption through the haze of violence and trauma in -The Ballad of Rocky Rontal.- And in the tour de force novella, -The Auroras-, a man severs himself from his old life and seeks to make a new one in a new city, only to find himself seduced and controlled by a powerful woman. Richly drawn, full of unforgettable characters, The King is Always Above the People reveals experiences both unsettling and unknown, and yet eerily familiar in this new world.




What books are you looking forward to this October?

Two Very Different Books You Can Read In One Day

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

2 Very Different Books You Can Read In One Day :: Outlandish Lit

At first I thought these two books didn't have anything in common with each other, apart from both being short. BUT they were both published on July 11, 2017! Imagine that. I might not recommend pairing these books together in a one day reading spree, even though you could definitely read both in that time, but they are both incredibly refreshing reads for different reasons.


Found Audio by N.J. Campbell
Publisher: Two Dollar Radio. July 2017.
Genre: ??????
Source: Publisher
Pages: 162



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Oh my goodness, this was such a fun read. I really can't help but love stories within stories. So basically, a mysterious man approaches an audio analyst with some tapes. He gives her a huge amount of money to transcribe them and learn what she can from them. She is explicitly told not to share this transcript with anybody. But, of course, she does and then she vanishes. All of this happens within the introduction, I swear I'm not spoiling anything. The vast majority of the book is the transcription, which follows an unnamed journalist telling his story of a bizarre and wildly implausible global hunt for a place called the City of Dreams - and it's great.

The set up was exactly what I wanted. Mysterious with people and locations that may or may not exist. People vanishing. And the manuscript itself contains all these wonderful little details about what's going on audibly apart from the monologue. I'm going to be honest, at first I didn't know if I was going to be able to get on board with the reading a monologue thing (even though every once in a while some other unnamed voices interrupt, which is so intriguing and unsettling). The writing made me a little nervous to begin with, but this dreamy, speculative story was exactly what I wanted. Found Audio is written like the fever dream of an incredibly adventurous travel writer. Once the book got to the second tape (of three) is when it really started to pick up for me. It takes a little while for the narrative to get to the point, which is to be expected considering it's a man telling a story and humans aren't always succinct (especially in this slightly psychedelic adventure context). By tape two, the City of Dreams is introduced and that's when it starts to get really crazy. I truly felt enraptured by the nameless main character's narrative. It's difficult not to get engrossed and just go along for the ride when the story is so confidently itself. By the end of it, I was deep in my own head about this search and what it could all mean. Little things I encounter in real life still make me think about this gem of a story, like the story has placed little mirages of itself into my reality, which is the most fun post-reading experience a person can have.




Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong
Publisher: Henry Holt. July 2017.
Genre: Literary Fiction
Source: Friend
Pages: 196



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Goodbye, Vitamin is such a sweet book, I truly don't even know where to begin. It is a thing that I love: a quirky, contemporary, stream-of-consciousness first person narrative, which generally are a little less than hopeful. So this is truly refreshing. Hopeful isn't really the word I mean, because this book is only realistic and completely grounded. I feel like the word hopeful implies an intentionally "feel good" book, which this isn't. My friend, Annie, put it well: it's kind. This is a book written in diary entries from the perspective of an untethered thirty-year-old woman, Ruth, who just went through a break up and had to move home to take care of her father with Alzheimer's. She is forced into navigating her relationship with her rapidly changing father, as well as navigating her father and her mother's relationship, which she is forced to come to terms with. It is a fun read, often funny, and very honest. Parts might make you cry, but it is never manipulative despite having ample opportunity to be considering the subject manner.


The little snippets of days that we see beautifully illustrate the daily struggles of caring for somebody in declining mental faculties, as well as the small things that make a day bright. In tandem with Ruth's diary entries, every once in a while we get to see a journal that her father used to keep filled with things Ruth would say and do as a child. These definitely got me the most, because even when taking care of her father was getting tough, the snippets of his journal so viscerally overflowed with love for his daughter. On a very personal note, I can't remember what specifically, but something in these journals made me think of how my grandpa would sing "You Are My Sunshine" to me and how loved I feel even now just reminiscing on those moments. Grandpa, you have all of your mental faculties, but I don't know if you remember that because you haven't sang to me in a while (rude). But thank you for emailing me your personal responses to all of my blog posts (I save them all), and I look forward to hearing your thoughts about this one. I love you! If you want to borrow this book, I don't have a copy - sorry!



Update: My grandpa did email me after reading this blog post. Some context: he was a musician in an orchestra. He said "The reason I sang that is in all my music I never had to learn lyrics. So you (and your mom) got to hear the only song I knew.." Then he told me to come over and give him a haircut. RUDE.


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