Fox 8 by George Saunders

I recently listened to the audiobook version of Fox 8 by George Saunders, an imaginative, very short book (50 to 60 pages, depending on the format) about the loss of innocence and how we humans treat the world around us. It's written as an open letter from the first-person perspective of a sweet, lovable fox called Fox 8. Fox 8 has a childlike trust that humans are good, but that trust is destroyed in one terrible moment. How do you stay hopeful? Is it possible to keep cynicism at bay once you realize the world is more awful than you ever imagined? Can you move cautiously in the world without sequestering yourself away completely? The audiobook runs only 37 minutes,…


Lord of the Butterflies by Andrea Gibson

I read Andrea Gibson for the first time back in June, and once again, I'm in love with their poetry. Lord of the Butterflies is described in the About the Author section as "a book of protests, panic attacks, and pride parades. These poems riot against gun violence, homophobia, and white supremacy, while jubilating gender expansion, queer love, and the will to stay alive." It also says Gibson is "known for pulling hearts out of chests to either wrench or kiss". Yes, hundred times over, yes. I'm quoting because I honestly couldn't sum it up any better than that. Some of these poems make you want to stop reading and go share them with a friend, now. Others feel like private…


A Drinkable Feast by Philip Greene

Although cocktails (complete with recipes!) make up the chapters in A Drinkable Feast, you can be a complete teetotaler and still enjoy the read. The literary and arts scenes of 1920s Paris come to life through period photos and advertisements and Philip Greene's vivid, engaging storytelling. This is narrative nonfiction at its best. Plenty for Fitzgerald and Hemingway fans, and the musician in me was happy to see mentions of Cole Porter and Les Six. I'll definitely be trying out the Boeuf sur le Toit recipe soon! A Drinkable Feast: A Cocktail Companion to 1920s Paris would make a great gift for cocktail enthusiasts or history/arts buffs alike. Have you ever tried a drink (alcoholic or not) because you read about it…


The Place You’re Supposed to Laugh by Jenn Stroud Rossmann

Somewhat quiet, "slice of life" novels with a bit of family drama are something I can't resist, and Jenn Stroud Rossmann's The Place You're Supposed to Laugh totally delivered. She had me caring about every one of these characters, even the ones we don't see as often. I wanted to know more about some of those supporting characters, but Scot was the only one I felt needed more development. At one point, someone questions something about him. Later on, my creeper alarm went off big-time, but it wasn't addressed. (And you know, the more I think about it, I can actually see the power in leaving it alone ... which kinda creeps me out even more. Y'all, if I were reading this for…

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So You Want to be a Robot by A. Merc Rustad

A. Merc Rustad's So You Want to be a Robot is full of heart with its devastatingly beautiful speculative sci-fi/fantasy stories. I wanted to simultaneously laugh with delight and also...just have a good cry. These stories are all unique, so there was no slump due to homogeneity as you sometimes find in short story collections. Starting each story was like opening a gift, because I never knew what I was going to find. But I always had a feeling it was going to be amazing and unlike anything I'd previously read. The #ownvoices rep here (queer, ace/aro, ASD) really shines. It's full of the kind of love, care, and joy (even when the stories are dark) that simply cannot be…


Shadow Daughter by Harriet Brown

Harriet Brown's Shadow Daughter: A Memoir of Estrangement is more than her own memoir. Brown shares her own story of being estranged from her mother in bits and pieces, surrounded by personal stories from a variety of people (some estranged by choice, others not), as well as research into the psychology and social impact of being estranged from family—why it happens, how it feels, and more. This format works really, really well. This is a tough topic because of intense "family first" social norms and ideas around "forgiveness" that often end up pressuring people into accepting abuse, especially covert abuse. The way Brown has laid out her book makes the presentation of personal stories powerful, while giving just enough distance…


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