tweets for 2019-09-14

September 15th, 2019 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

tweets for 2019-09-13

September 14th, 2019 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

tweets for 2019-09-12

September 13th, 2019 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

tweets for 2019-09-11

September 12th, 2019 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

tweets for 2019-09-10

September 11th, 2019 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Book Review: Rebel Girls by Elizabeth Keenan (2019)

September 10th, 2019 7:00 am by Kelly Garbato

“What would Kathleen Hanna do?”

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through Netgalley. Trigger warning for depictions of misogyny, racism, and homophobia.)

I knew what the Riot Grrrl ideals were: Support girls around you. Don’t be jealous of other girls. Avoid competition with them. Being loud and crying in public were valid ways of being a girl. Being a girl didn’t mean being weak or bad. Claiming your sexuality, no matter what that meant to you, was a good thing. And the revolution was open to anyone.

You can tell a lot about a person from how they act during group projects.

The year is 1992, and Athena and Helen Graves are about to start their sophomore and freshman years at St. Ann’s Regional Diocesan Catholic High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It’s not that they come from a particularly religious home; their mom is an ultra-liberal Classics professor in Eugene, Oregon (soon to be NYC), and while their dad did attend a Jesuit school, he cares more about the social justice side of Roman Catholicisms than, say, slut shaming and lower taxes. But St. Ann’s – aka “the School that Suburban White Flight Built” – is arguably “better” than the local high school, so there you go.

Whereas Helen, with her wholesome good looks and active membership in the school’s pro-life club, fits right in at St. Ann’s, Athena and her bestie Melissa are more like unicorns: purple-haired, sparkly-maned, Riot Grrrl unicorns. Melissa sticks right the heck out, and it’s not just because she’s one of a handful of students of color (half-Cajun, half-Vietnamese, a rumor once circulated that “she was the daughter of a Vietnamese prostitute and an American G.I. who was then sold to her current parents for fifty dollars”). She’s an unapologetic feminist who’s vocal about her political beliefs…and to call them “unpopular” at St. Ann’s is the understatement of the year. Over the summer, when Operation Rescue descended upon Baton Rouge as part of its “Summer of Purpose” (fictional as far as I can tell, but firmly rooted in actual historical events), Melissa volunteered as a clinic escort. Athena is a little more low-key about her politics, but she tries to live by Riot Grrrl ideals.

A few weeks into the school year, Helen becomes the latest victim of St. Ann’s rumor mill. Supposedly she slept with an unabashedly racist MAGA prototype over the summer, became pregnant, and (*gasp*) had an abortion – with the help of Athena and Melissa, of course. Athena’s pretty sure she can trace this lie back to its source: Leah Sullivan, captain of the cheerleading squad, and girlfriend of her other BFF (well maybe scratch that second “F”), QB Sean Mitchell. Like all of Leah’s best lies, this one both plays to people’s preexisting prejudices, and contains a kernel of truth. It’s also designed to take all three of them down, especially considering the school’s strict pro-life policy. Never mind that Athena and Helen were both visiting their mom in Eugene all summer.

Even though she abhors Helen’s holier than though, extra-judgey politics, Athena wants to protect her sister. How can they – and the unexpected allies they eventually find at St. Ann’s – do this without leaning into the stigma surrounding abortion? Without sinking to Leah’s level? Without getting expelled from school?

Rebel Girls has a lot going on, and I loved like 97% of it. The ’90s setting – which makes this historical fiction, I guess, but having graduated in ’96, that term feels like a punch to the left boob – is rad and evokes all sorts of bittersweet nostalgic feels. (Even as I took umbrage to Athena’s dismissal of Prince as too middle grade, or Nirvana as too popular. Great things are great no matter how many people recognize their greatness!) Listening to Athena bemoan her lack of access to Bikini Kill cassettes, on the other hand, felt so adorably quaint and reaffirmed my appreciate for the internet, Facebook be damned. At times it felt like Keenan went a little heavy on the “What would Kathleen Hanna do?” notes, but those feels were few and far between.

Athena’s emphasis on taking the high road proved a little harder to swallow. It reminded me of Michelle Obama’s “when they go low, we go high” moment at the DNC…which was hecka inspiring, but has never really worked out for the left. I’m not saying you resort to slut shaming and misogyny to fight slut shaming and misogyny, but maybe rethink your blanket aversion to rolling around in dirt, especially if said dirt isn’t mired in any isms.

All the characters are well fleshed out – even villain Leah, whose possible motivations Keenan explores in detail. The relationship between Athena and Helen is complex and fraught, and it’s interesting to watch how it changes and evolves thanks to their involvement in the “Gang of Five.” Even though they attend a Catholic school, the teachers and staff are not caricatures, uniform in opinion; there’s a lot of nuance there as well. I especially loved Sister Catharine (no surprise there!). I also appreciated how Keenan couched this personal drama in historical political events; the girls’ protests become a flashpoint for a larger debate about abortion restrictions in Louisiana.

The subplots are all engaging too; in addition to abortion and sexism, Keenan addresses racism and homophobia as well.

Rebel Girls is a solid addition to the growing body of abortion fiction, not to mention nostalgic ’90s narratives.

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

tweets for 2019-09-09

September 10th, 2019 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

tweets for 2019-09-08

September 9th, 2019 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

tweets for 2019-09-07

September 8th, 2019 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato
  • RT @41Strange: A woman went camping 30 years ago and heard strange noises in the middle of the night so she stuck her camera outside the te… ->
  • RT @QasimRashid: Homeless Black woman sends 5-year-old to wrong school
    •5 years prison
    Wealthy white woman bribes college officials with t… ->
  • RT @mnqcstl: I might have found the most wholesome YouTube channel ever and I might be crying bc this is the cutest thing in the world http… ->
  • @MusingsOfAGirl I follow you via email. Thanks for the chance! https://t.co/fhPalffCwp in reply to MusingsOfAGirl ->
  • RT @MusingsOfAGirl: GIVEAWAY!
    🎉Follow and RT to win an ARC of The Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen
    🎉US only
    🎉Ends 9/13/19
    🎉No giveaway… ->
  • (More below the fold…)

tweets for 2019-09-06

September 7th, 2019 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Book Review: The Avant-Guards, Volume 1 by Carly Usdin & Noah Hayes (2019)

September 6th, 2019 7:00 am by Kelly Garbato

*heart-eyes emoji*

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through NetGalley.)

After losing her basketball scholarship at state, Charlie Bravo (yes, she’s heard that one before) is a new transfer at the Georgia O’Keeffe College of Arts and Subtle Dramatics (“where everything is open to interpretation!”). Even though she’s vowed to steer clear of team sports, her stubbornness is no match for Olivia, an adorably plucky overachiever who managed to build a women’s basketball league, herself, from scratch. The only thing standing in Liv’s way is Charlie, by which I mean that the Avant-Guards are short just one player, and Liv has decided that Charlie is that woman.

It doesn’t hurt that Charlie is H-O-T and Liv would like nothing more than to mash their faces together in a very non-platonic way.

Sports are not normally my thing, but I do love a) intrepid heroines; b) storylines that celebrate female friendship and elevate it over rivalry; c) worlds populated by diverse peoples, especially when some of them are queer women of color; d) f/f romances; and e) black girl magic. The Avant-Guards has all of the above, in spades, as well as hoop-shooting, curvaceous witches; an on-campus coven; a pretty sexy nonbinary character named Jay; and bucket of rainbow confetti.

This is the sweetest, most adorable and wholesome book I’ve read in quite some time, and I mean that in the best way possible. The Avant-Guards is literally brimming with heart emojis. And the art is just perfect, cute and so very complementary to the story and characters. (You might say it’s an, erm, slam dunk.) Every. Single. Panel. saw me ooh-ing, ahh-ing, and sqee-ing in delight. (And, save for the doggos, I am not the squee-ing type.)

And this was all before the impromptu dog adoption event at half-time in the inaugural game! If I wasn’t already I goner by then.

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

tweets for 2019-09-05

September 6th, 2019 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

tweets for 2019-09-04

September 5th, 2019 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

tweets for 2019-09-03

September 4th, 2019 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Thirty Little Mags and Finnick Things

September 3rd, 2019 10:00 am by Kelly Garbato

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Mags,

So you know the purpose of this exercise, right? I list one thing I love (or love-hate) about you for each of your birthdays. Either until I run out of things or I return to starstuff with you. The thing is, I think I could keep this up forever. Seriously, I can’t imagine ever running out. I don’t know how she did it, but the great Dog above packed so much sass and ferocity and Manic Pixie Dream Grrrl and just sheer personality into such a tiny package. Like, it defies expectations. Or physics. You were one of a kind, sweet babygirl.

(By the by, I discovered Nitty Scott over the summer. Whenever BBYGRL comes on, I imagine a video starring you: “no I ain’t bossy / I just be the boss.”)

I miss you so very much. Seriously, not a day goes by that I don’t think of you. Whether it’s the Dogsure-stained sweatshirt in my closet (which I will never wash!), the wheelchair sitting in the corner of the bedroom, or the Batgirl jammies hanging in the office, the house is brimming with reminders of you. You were such a huge part of my life, and I hope you know that I fought for you as hard as I could. I’m talking bare knuckles, knock-down, drag-out, straight up brawling. I’m just sorry I couldn’t do more. I loved you so, so much, and in that I never failed or faltered.

I wish I could have you back – healthy and whole, of course – but, failing that, these memories will have to suffice. To misquote Lucinda Williams, your memory may not keep me warm, but it never leaves me cold. (Sometimes it does, though. Keeps me warm, that is. Only sometimes, but we’ll get there.)

Say hi to the rest of the pack for me.

Love always,

Mom

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Finnick,

It’s been a rough ride, hasn’t it? I hope we at least landed somewhere good for you, a nice, cozy place where you can enjoy your senior years. I know I’m not dad, but I hope I’m doing right by you. You’ve turned out to be almost as much of a handful as your dog mom, and I promise to fight for you the way I fought for Mags. Even though I’m exhausted beyond reason and don’t have too much fight left in me. Whatever’s left, it’s yours.

I know we haven’t always been BFFs, but the last few years have brought us so much closer, and for this I’ll always be grateful. You may be an AGGRESSIVE PATIENT who’s prone to sudden outbursts (which makes snugging difficult, just sayin’) and has his own monogrammed Hannibal Lecter mask (j/k), but you’re my crazy ass dog, dammit, and I love you. For however long we have left together, and then for infinity after that.

Okay, it’s time I sign off. It’s almost time for your eye drops, CBD oil, and anti-seizure and pain meds. (so many issues!) Happy birthday/gotcha day, my grumpy old man.

Love,

Your human mom

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(More below the fold…)

tweets for 2019-09-02

September 3rd, 2019 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Book Review: After the Flood by Kassandra Montag (2019)

September 2nd, 2019 7:00 am by Kelly Garbato

A promising premise that does not deliver.

two out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through Edelweiss. Trigger warning for rape, kidnapping, human trafficking, suicide, and drug use.)

This is how the water takes us.

DNF at 76%.

Thirty-something Myra lives in a future that could one day very well be our own. Flooding fueled by climate change gradually claimed the coasts before she was born; and, when she just a young woman, the Hundred Year flood reached her doorstep – the plains of Nebraska – sweeping her mother away in a tidal wave. The family – her migrant husband, Jacob; daughter Row; and Grandfather – retreated to the second floor of the house, as Grandfather raced against time to build them a boat on which to navigate this terrifying new world. But before he could finish, Jacob fled with a neighbor, taking Row with him…and leaving a pregnant Myra behind.

It’s been seven years since Row was kidnapped. Without Grandfather and his boat, Bird, Myra would not have survived. Grandfather is gone, though, having passed mercifully in his sleep; and if she and her younger daughter are to survive, Myra has reached the dispiriting conclusion that she must abandon her search for Row. However, a chance encounter with a raider suggests that Row may not only be alive, but in imminent danger: held captive on a colony in Greenland and at risk of being sent to a breeding ship (it’s exactly what it sounds like).

Bird is too small to make such as a treacherous passing – but the Sedna, which comes to their aid, is just perfect. Can Myra convince its inhabitants to make the journey? Should she? Is it okay to sacrifice their lives for that of their daughter? To sacrifice Pearl for Row?

If this sounds like Mad Max: Fury Road, but with too much water instead of not enough, then you understand my initial excitement. I devoured the first 25% or so of the book; the early world building is promising:

We still called oceans by their former names, but it was really one giant ocean now, littered with pieces of land like crumbs fallen from the sky.

The remnants of humanity either live in crowded slums wedged into the sides of what used to be mountain ranges, but are now more like islands; the rest risk weather, starvation, dehydration, and pirate-raiders (the descendants of private military outfits, natch) at sea. Human trafficking is prevalent, as is colonizing, now with the biological warfare!

Sadly, After the Flood breaks down like this: 40% pointless whining about ethical dilemmas (Myra’s gonna Myra, am I right?), 30% boat talk, 10% cringy sex scenes, and maybe, generously, 20% intriguing world building and poetic prose about the natural world.

The characters are either unlikable or not fully fleshed out (or both) – and when I say “unlikable,” I don’t mean in that love to hate ’em, Gone Girl kind of way. Unlikable characters can be super-entertaining, but this is not the case here. Myra is unrelentingly irritating; her internal conflicts are dull and repetitive, and the umbrage she takes at discovering that other people also have their own, sometimes hidden agendas would be laughable if it wasn’t so annoyingly self-absorbed and hypocritical. (Pot, meet kettle.) She flies into a rage with Daniel even though her deceptions are arguably worse; he’s just floating along in the wake of destruction she’s creating in her quest to rescue Row.

Daniel is wholly uninteresting, and Pearl is more of a brat than is reasonable in this world; idk how she could act like that and survive for so long. And for all her whining about how Myrna doesn’t listen to her…didn’t they just spend the better part of a decade trapped on a small boat together, with only each other (and, for a brief period, one other person) for company?

Abran, the captive of the Sedna, is not believable as a leader at all. He’s a bossy, short-tempered alcoholic without the stones to make the hard decisions. I can’t see anyone following him from one Grateful Dead concert to the next, let alone across the vast, empty ocean. Montag forces him into a love triangle with Daniel and Myrna and the whole thing is just yawn.

It hurts to see what could have been an engaging and prescient story go down like this, but it is what it is. Honestly, I’m puzzled at all the glowing early reviews. Were we reading the same book?

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

tweets for 2019-09-01

September 2nd, 2019 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato
  • RT @itsJeffTiedrich: believing that you have a god-given right to military-grade weaponry is probably a good enough reason to take away you… ->
  • RT @clapifyoulikeme: How is this website free https://t.co/r8kfqjwk3p ->
  • RT @amalia_chartres: 📚 G I V E A W A Y 📚
    hey! September is my birth month and I figured why not celebrate it with a giveaway?!
    Rules:
    The… ->
  • RT @JamilSmith: The “Red Summer,” a national campaign of racial terrorism that murdered hundreds of black people, happened 100 years ago. F… ->
  • RT @BettyBowers: Meanwhile, back in the real world . . .
    USA:
    Church Attendance: 47%
    School Shootings (2009-18): 288
    UK:
    Church Attenda… ->
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tweets for 2019-08-31

September 1st, 2019 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

tweets for 2019-08-30

August 31st, 2019 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato