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Some days are harder than others.  I tend not to talk about my bad days.  It’s not what people want to hear and we’re trained from a young age to say “I’m good, how are you?” And we all lie and walk around thinking no one else is lying to cover up their own misery.  I’ve noticed that a lot of other people seem to be struggling lately, and it occurred to me to share some links for things that lessen the weight of sadness, at least for me.  These links never get old and I go back to them again and again.  Maybe one of them will make you smile too.  If you have a link that always makes you feel a little better, please share in the comments!

Mystery Science Theater 3000 MAN NAMES

Sailor Moon Theme Song

Nyan Waits

SAIL cat

Critical fail

Curse of the weggy board

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I’m behind on pretty much everything I should be doing.  So here’s a blog for further procrastination.

I’m super stressed out right now, so I’ve been looking for new recipes to try to distract myself.  I read this recipe for stacked polenta, and it seemed simple enough.  And it was sufficiently distracting as well as delicious.

I also made brownies.  Someone sent me a link for Katherine Hepburn’s brownie recipe.  I made it this morning and took it to work.  They were fudgey and amazing, and it only took about 3 hours for my co-workers to devour the entire thing.  And it’s a surprisingly simple recipe.  Here’s a link. 

So if you’re looking for a great dinner/dessert combo, this is a pretty killer one.

Only two months late!  Improvement!  But seriously, it’s a long list this year and it was taking forever to compile them all, so I decided to break it down: young adult and children’s books in this post, adult fiction and non-fiction in the next post.  So here you go.  Hope you find something you like.

Young Adult

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)Lazlo Strange was a war orphan, a nobody. But he had his dreams. He found his calling in the great library, and in his spare time he researched the lost and legendary city known only as Weep. Then, for the first time in hundreds of years, a convoy arrives from the lost city and it seems Lazlo may get his heart’s desire: to visit the city of Weep.

Meanwhile, above the lost city, five survivors of a massacre hide and plot revenge.

Another Laini Taylor story built of wonder, loss, fable, and dreams. I love that she says the dream chooses the dreamer, as I’ve always felt that way myself. Dreams give up on the dreamer, not the other way around, and some dreams refuse to die.

The Creeping Shadow by Jonathan Stroud

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AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!! An amazing revelation at the end of this book!  A lot of little clues start to add up.  This is book four in a series so a summary won’t mean much if you haven’t read book one, The Screaming Staircase.  But basically if you like kids versus adults, ghosts, and adventure, this is a great series.

 

30724132Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Cinderella, the geek version. Cinder was a great retelling, but this is the version that was written just for girls like me. It has nearly everything I love: space opera, vegan food, lesbians, a fan convention, a buncha geeks, cosplay, a fairytale retelling, and a love story with an attractive, sensitive prince. If only there’d been a vampire unicorn too, but I guess you can’t have everything. 🙂 Anyway, If you like the stuff I like, this book is for you.

 

23299512This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Kate and August live in a near future where acts of violence spawn monsters. August lives with the Flynns, who run one side of V City, and Kate’s father owns the other side. At the moment, the city exists under an awkward truce, but everyone knows it can’t last.

A dark urban fantasy full of new kinds of monsters. Kate’s ferocity offsets August’s kindness, and each of them is trying desperately to be something that they are not. I really enjoyed the characters, the world, and some of the twists the plot took.

29236380Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

An unflinching story about loss, self harm, addiction, and ultimately hope. And it takes place in Tucson! I found myself driving down Fourth Avenue trying to find the approximate location of the fictional coffeehouse, Grit.
Charlie Davis was only 17 when she found herself with nothing left, and nowhere to go. She was living on the street until she landed in the hospital, bleeding out. When the hospital realized that Charlie’s wounds were all self inflicted, they sent her to a mental ward; but her story doesn’t end there. Charlie’s struggle continues outside the hospital as she tries to put herself and her life back together.

Children’s Books

542688Chip Wants a Dog by William Wegman

Weirdest. Book. EVAR. And I loved it. Chip wants a dog, but his parents won’t let him have one. And yes, that is Chip on the cover.  Spoiler alert, his parents also have Weimaraner heads. This is a beginning reader so it might be a little long for a younger storytime, but it’s silly enough that it could probably keep the attention of some older storytime kids.  Kids old enough to read this book sometimes find the total lack of logic difficult to follow, so they might need a little guidance to get the humor.  Or maybe your kids are weird enough that they’re fine with it.

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I Will Not Eat You
by Adam Lehrhaupt

Noisy animals disturb Theodore in his cave, and he tries to decide if he should eat them. Fun and cute in a slightly twisted way 🙂

I’ve been posting on Thanksgiving for several years now.  Honestly, I lead a life of great privilege and I try hard to be thankful for that.  Many of my friends did not grow up with the advantages that I had.  My friends are people of different colors, sexual identities, gender identities, religions, nationalities, and probably some other things I’m not thinking of.  I don’t think a lot about how my friends are different from me because it is our similarities that make us friends.

I looked over my post from last year for inspiration, and fortunately, many of the things I was thankful for last year are still true.  I am thankful that none of my family members are in the hospital this year.  I am thankful that gay marriage is still legal despite some serious civil rights set backs.  I am thankful that people are still fighting for those civil rights, and sometimes even winning.  I am thankful that I can still vote, and call my representatives to express my opinion, and for all the things I have learned this year.  I am also still thankful for net neutrality while I have it.  If you don’t know what that is, look it up, read about what’s going on right now, and consider calling your representative about it.

I am also thankful for my cat, meeting my medical deductible, and all the wonderful things pharmaceuticals can do.  I am thankful for all the opportunities I’ve had this year to do things I love, like drawing and writing, to make money for charities I care about and believe in.  You can find the anthology here.  Lastly, I am thankful for my friends and my family. You guys never cease to amaze me with your talents, your humor, your resilience, and your kindness. Thank you for sharing yourselves with me, helping me when I needed you, and reminding me that truly good humans exist.  I continue to live a life of privilege because you are in it.  Thank you.  And happy Thanksgiving!

Hey look, it’s October.  How did that happen?  It’s not like I’ve been busy or anything.  I mean, I only submitted art to 6 different shows, went to 3 conventions, and started querying literary agents.  Oh yeah, and I have another short story being published, and another family member slipped this mortal coil.

28449207I try to blog every month, but I want to have something to say that might be interesting or useful for people other than myself, and it takes time to compose something like that.  Time has been in short supply.  I don’t have a full book list to share, but I have read a few good ones.

One of those was Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor.  It is full of the horror and wonder that we all look for in fantasy.  Lazlo Strange was a war orphan, a nobody.  But at least he had his dreams.  He dreams of great things, but fears his dreams have chosen a poor dreamer.   He found his calling in the great library, and in his spare time he researched the lost and legendary city known only as Weep. Then, for the first time in hundreds of years, a convoy arrived from the lost city and it seems Lazlo may get his heart’s desire: to visit the city of Weep.

Meanwhile, above the lost city, five survivors of a massacre hide and plot revenge.

That’s all I got for now.  I too should dream.  Goodnight.

Here are my favorite adult reads in 2016.  Only 6 months late 🙂  Hope you find something you like.

Non-fiction

20696006Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

A doctor writes about both his professional and personal experience with people facing terminal illness, and discusses different approaches to dying. As a doctor he’s trained to fix problems, but when the problem is not fixable, what then? Should patients spend small fortunes on treatments that may or may not extend their lives, suffering terrible side effects and giving them false hope? Should they do nothing at all? And what about those who are not technically dying, but too ill to care for themselves? What does research and experience tell us about how to spend our final days?

This is a book for everyone. We are all mortal, all dying one minute at a time. And so are our friends, our family, and everyone we love(dark, I know). This is a book about how to deal with the practical and medical problems of facing the inevitable.

 

26072609The Rainbow Comes and Goes by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt

A conversation between Anderson Cooper and his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt. It’s fascinating to hear Gloria Vanderbilt, 91 at the time, talk about her privileged but lonely childhood, and her tumultuous youth. She reflects on the life she was born into, and how it influenced her decisions, while Anderson Cooper reflects on how her life in turn affected his own. The point of the conversation was to deepen their relationship and understanding of each other as parent and child, and inspire others to do the same. I think they succeeded.

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David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell on advantages, disadvantages, and how sometimes they are not what they seem. Fascinating, as always.

 

 

 

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You’re Never Weird on the Internet(Almost) by Felicia Day

Fantastic biography, especially if you get the audio because it’s read by Felicia herself! I loved hearing about her weird childhood, her anxiety and insecurities, and how she began working on The Guild. She’s infinitely relatable in her enthusiasm for all things geeky, her frequent moments of mortification, her hopes and her fears. It’s all in there, including her struggles with gaming addiction, depression, and Gamergate. When I finished, I just wanted to hug her and thank her for sharing such personal memories. I have a great empathy and respect for anyone who can acknowledge that they are struggling with mental illness, get help and recover, and then share their story despite all the social stigma. Felicia, I adore you more now than ever.

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Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

This was probably the best book I read all year.  If you or anyone you care about has suffered from mental illness of any kind, you should read this book. And if you don’t know anyone who has suffered from mental illness, then either you don’t know that many people, or more likely, they’re just afraid to tell you. Basically, I’m saying you should read this book. Jenny tells funny personal stories about her strange life and her experiences with depression, anxiety, and other disorders. But she also talks about how mental illness lies to you, tries to hurt you, and promotes a wonderful idea: if depression can make you sink low enough to want to die, then maybe you also have the capacity to rise to the height of being crazy with joy too. She wants to spite her depression by being furiously happy. I love this idea(and this book), and I’ve tried to incorporate furiously happy into my own life.  I’ve had ballgown themed birthday parties, kissed people just because I wanted to, wore a dinosaur hat at work, and just generally tried to be unrestrained with things that make me happy.  It doesn’t solve anything, but I’ve found it to be a useful tool in coping with depression.  Thank you, Jenny Lawson.

 

Fiction

25735012Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

This is book 3 in a series, and I love it, so I’m gonna list it even though it’s not the first one.  Get used to this.  Cormoran Strike and Robin are up against their first serial killer while Robin and Matthew’s wedding date looms… Once again, I wasn’t sure about the killer until Strike revealed his hand, but oh, the ending!  Gah!  I want the next one already.

 

 

 

16071701Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaason

A fisherman off the coast of Florida reels in a human arm flipping the bird.  A disgraced police detective demoted to restaurant inspector starts investigating, hoping to earn his badge back. A Bohemian fisherman and his spiteful pet monkey try to put a voodoo curse on a the white man who’s bought his family home out from under him. There’s also a sexy morgue doctor, a fugitive sex offender, a drunken voodoo hag, and a few unscrupulous land developers. Wackiness ensues. I love the crazy character back stories, including the monkey’s back story, and the way all the characters find that their paths cross in a satisfying ending.  A very fun read if you don’t mind a little crude humor.

 

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Timeline by Michael Crichton

Classic Michael Crichton, and definitely one of his better stories. A big tech corporation funds a historical dig of a medieval castle while doing research on time travel. Then a history professor steps into the past and his graduate students must go back in time to get him. But of course, everything goes wrong, and they are caught between warring medieval factions with no way home…

 

 

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Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Fat Charlie Nancy is easily embarrassed, gullible, and kind-hearted. He is also, unbeknownst to him, the son of Anansi, the spider trickster god. Then he gets word that his father has died, and learns of a brother he doesn’t remember, and everything starts to get weird.

This was touching, hilarious, mysterious, and filled with wonder, all of the things I love about Neil Gaiman.

 

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Saga volume 6 by Brian K. Vaughn, illustrated by Fiona Staples

One again, a book that is pretty far into a series, but there’s nothing stopping you from going out and getting volume 1(and you should).  This volume made up for the sucker punch at the end of volume 5. Reunited with many of my favorite characters, and Hazel is finally old enough to begin speaking her mind.  Loved it.

 

Happy reading.

Only like 5 months late this time.  Improvement!  In an effort to put something out sooner, I’m posting this now, and I’ll post the adult books later.  It seems I finished off a few great series this year, so I’ve mentioned the first book in each series in the description.

Children’s Books

25745002Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins

Bruce the bear accidentally becomes a mother. Very silly. Very cute. Good for storytime, with fun jokes for kids and parents.

 

 

 

23281865I’m Trying to Love Spiders By Bethany Barton

Great storytime book with lots of humor and actual information about spiders. Try to learn about spiders instead of squish them! Though I’m a little sad about all the spider squishing(because I DO actually love spiders), I’m just twisted enough to laugh.  It has lots of good opportunities for audience involvement too.

 

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Nuts in Space by Elys Dolan

Captain Moose and his crew have obtained the Lost Nuts of Legend, and now all they have to do is get home. But they’re lost, and they’re very hungry! A silly combination picture book and graphic novel with jokes for kids and adults. Fans of Star Wars or Star Trek will especially enjoy.

 

 

I really want to eat a child by Sylviane Donnio, illustrated by Dorothee de Monfreid
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A baby crocodile wants to eat a child. Funny and cute, and just a little twisted.  Good for storytime if the kids(and their parents) aren’t
too sensitive.

 

 

 

Teen Books

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Winter by Marissa Meyer

A good ending to a great series. Can’t wait for the next book 🙂  Book one of the Lunar Chronicles is Cinder, a science fiction retelling of Cinderella where Cinderella is a Cyborg.  And just to up the ante, there’s also a deadly plague killing tons of people and an evil sorcereress queen.  Each successive book builds on the story by adding another fairy tale retelling.  Book two is Red Riding Hood, book three is Rapunzel, and this last book is Snow White.  Seeing how all the characters from all the books come together through fate and friendship, each one using their own unique skills to build a formidable team, is heartwarming.  I especially liked that Winter’s skill was her overwhelming kindness and empathy, and that she was stunningly beautiful even with her facial scars.  Kindness, empathy, and friendship are not often considered skills outside of children’s books, and I like that this series values them.

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Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

If you like the Lunar Chronicles, this is a must read, if only for the short epilogue story at the end. A lot of the stories are back stories for the characters, but there are two new stories, and they’re both worth reading.

 

 

 

 

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Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

You know all those kids who stumble through doorways to other worlds like Oz and Wonderland? Ever wondered what happens when they come back to our world? Nancy’s family doesn’t understand and they think she’s crazy, so they send her to a special school. It turns out everyone else there has been to another world too. Nancy thinks she may have found a refuge, but then someone gets murdered…

This was a great little story, and it’s nominated for a Hugo.

 

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Manners and Mutiny by Gail Carriger

A satisfying ending to a very fun series.  The first book is Etiquette and Espionage, and it’s a comedic, steampunk adventure about a girl’s finishing school that doubles as a spy school.  Highly recommended.  The audiobooks are especially good, partly because you don’t have to figure out how to pronounce some of the ridiculous names.

 

 

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Dream Thieves, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, and The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

The first book in this series is The Raven Boys.  I loved that first book, but didn’t get around to the second book, The Dream Thieves, for a couple years.  And then I just couldn’t stop.

The main characters are Blue, Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah.  Blue is a girl raised in a house of women psychics, but who’s only psychic ability is to magnify the abilities of others.  Gansey is a rich prep school boy with a fascination for history, and an obsession with a legendary Welsh king.  Ronan is foul mouthed, perpetually angry, but fiercely loyal and truthful to a fault, and he has very unusual dreams.  Adam grew up in a trailer park with his abusive father and he works hard to be allowed to stay at the prep school with Gansey and Ronan, hoping to someday leave his small town life behind.  Noah is quiet and gentle, but has a very dark secret.

Living with psychics, Blue has always known that she will kill her true love with a kiss. When she sees Gansey’s future in a graveyard, she knows he will be dead within a year, and most likely he is the true love she’s destined to kill.  Completely unaware how little time he has, Gansey pursues the grave of the Welsh king Glendower, and the legend that whoever finds and wakes the king is granted a wish.  Ronan, Adam, Noah, and Blue are caught up in Gansey’s obsession, and consequently they’re pulled into the magic surrounding the search and the ruthless people who will do anything to control the magic themselves.

I love Maggie Stiefvater’s writing style, and I love how complex the characters are.  I truly care about what happens to them all.  I also like that the magic is dark and alien, and each book had at least one moment so creepy that I literally got goosebumps.  Some mysteries are solved, but many things remain strange and unknowable.  I was left with many questions at the end of The Raven King, but apparently Maggie Stiefvater will be writing a couple more books about these characters, so maybe I will get my answers eventually.  If not, I’m finding Maggie and asking her!

 

Because I work in a library, these may never stop coming.

 
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Shalala, don’t stop now, don’t try to hide it, how you want to… KISS THE EARL!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#SexyMistakes!  Ok, not gonna lie, this is both ridiculous and awesome.  I might actually read this at some point.  I’d also kinda like to feel the need to use that hashtag at some point in my life.  Seems like an important mistake to make at least once in your life…

 

 

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Why this one?  Because it reminds me of my friends, that’s why.

 

 

 

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Once again, I’m twelve.  And this book is called Mocha Dick.  Haha, dick.

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Honestly, I think it’s that earnest, adoring look on the lady’s face, combined with the pensive, confused look on the guy’s face.  And somehow I think this is supposed to be a romance?  I dunno, confusion isn’t super romantic for me.  And neither are Amish beards while we’re at it.20160107_175624

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What?! You’re giving it away Macbeth, quit tweeting about your murder plot!  And hashtags, srsly?  lol

 

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Adorable, but deadly.  Look at his little face!  Just look at it!  I’d be super dead.

 

 

 

 

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It’s a chihuahua in a tiny sailor outfit driving a boat!  Can you stand it?!  And his name is Pepe!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m not actually surprised that this book exists.  Indeed, by all rights, it belongs in this world more than I do.  Mostly I’m just super entertained that my library system carries copies(plural) of it.  This is amazing.  Such times we live in that you can go to your public library and pick up a book of Star Trek alien philosophy on war.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But what deserves to exist even more than the Klingon Art of War book?  The scratch and sniff wine book of course!  I leafed through it, and yes, I sniffed. It describes in detail many types of wine and how to tell them apart by appearance and by smell.   Such a combination of sophisticated connoisseur and childish glee may never have existed in book form until now, and my library owns copies.  You’re welcome.  I would have checked this out if a co-worker hadn’t beaten me to it.

 

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Quickly, before it’s too hot for soup!  I make this soup when I don’t really feel like cooking or eating, but I still want something hot to make the belly rumbles stop.  It hardly takes any time at all if you use frozen vegetables.

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2 cups water

1 veggie bullion cube

1 TBSP cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup of water

2 TBSP frozen peas

4 baby carrots sliced into coins(or just get a bag of frozen peas & carrots, toss in 4 Tablespoons and call it done)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 egg

Put the water in a pot and set it to boil.  Throw in the bullion cube and peas and carrots and minced garlic. Let it boil for about 2 minutes, then add the cornstarch mixture, stirring continuously.  Then break the egg in a cup and stir it real good.  Stirring the soup slowly in one direction only(clockwise only, or counterclockwise only) add the egg a little at a time.  Then you can turn off the heat and keep stirring for about a minute.  At this point, I usually add a lot of soy sauce, but that’s only because they don’t make salt licks for humans and I have to get my sodium somewhere.  Then I stare at the steam for a bit and wait for it to cool off enough to eat while trying to keep the cat out of it.  It’s a fast, warm meal for a rainy day if you’re not very hungry.

I don’t usually consider salads recipes, but I haven’t really posted a recipe in a while and a friend mentioned looking for low starch, vegetarian recipes.  Also, this salad is pretty filling as salads go, and I know this friend has access to Trader Joe’s(our secret, shared lover) where you can buy all the ingredients.  This salad is a really good mix of sweet and savory flavors, and if you use the roasted squash while it’s still hot, an interesting mix of temperatures too. 20170201_151837

Ingredients

fresh arugula

5-8 cherry tomatoes cut in half(if you cut them in half they don’t pop in your mouth and squirt tomato seeds across the break room at your co-workers during lunch)

crumbled feta cheese

handful of walnuts

handful of dried cranberries

1 bag of cubed butternut squash

3 mushrooms, sliced

2-4 TBSP oil(enough to lightly coat the butternut squash)

1 TBSP dried basil(you could use fresh too)

Trader Joe’s Champagne vinaigrette

Directions

Toss the butternut squash with the oil and the dried basil.  Put it in a roasting pan and roast it at 375 for about 45 minutes.  It’s done when you can cut a cube in half easily with a fork.  You can turn up the temperature or roast them for a little longer if you want them to have crispy brown edges(which is sometimes nice for texture).

Fill a large salad bowl with arugula.  You can really pack it in there if you are a hangry, greedy wildebeast like me. Toss in the dried cranberries, walnuts, mushrooms, and tomatoes.  Pile the roasted squash on top and garnish with feta cheese.  Or pile the cheese on too if you’re super hungry. Drizzle with champagne dressing.  I also sprinkle some salt on because I love me some sodium.  It’s super pretty, and you get to feel virtuous about eating salad.

I make this a lot for lunch, but when I make it for lunch, I let the squash cool completely before putting it on the salad and closing the Tupperware.  You can prepare it the night before and it stays pretty crisp as long as you don’t put the salad dressing on until you’re ready to eat it.