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This has been a hectic year for me, as evidenced by my rather sporadic posting schedule. Despite this, I’ve been attempting to take in as much literature as is humanly possible. That means that I’ve been tackling a lot of novellas. Tor has been publishing loads of new novellas over the last few months, and I’ve loved every one that I’ve read this year.

Among my favorites:

The Builders by Daniel Polansky
Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones
River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey

The Builders is a revenge story at heart, about a group of friends attempting to overthrow a corrupt leader and identify the member of their group who betrayed them the last time they tried. It’s gritty, violent, and dark, and it’s fabulous to watch the team come back together. Why? Because they’re all animals. That’s right. The Builders is essentially Redwall crossed with your favorite grim western film.

Mapping the Interior starts humbly, introducing the reader to a young Native American boy whose mother, following the suspicious death of their father, has moved him and his younger brother into an off-reservation trailer house. Junior sleepwalks, and one night he sees someone while in the middle of his wandering. His father. It’s a haunting story in the truest sense, and the voice is one that’s sorely missing in much of contemporary literature.

River of Teeth hooked me on premise alone. A debut piece from Sarah Gailey, River of Teeth is an alternate history of the Deep South, a what-if tale in which hippos were imported to the bayous of Louisiana to be bred for meat in areas that were too swampy for cattle. Much like The Builders, this one is a tale of revenge featuring a motley crew of adventurers, trading the galloping stallion of the more traditional western for the lumbering but ferocious hippopotamus as a mount. This one has a sequel, Taste of Marrow, that picks up immediately where the first leaves off, and I can’t wait to read it.

Next in line to read: All Systems Red by Martha Wells, book one in a series called The Murderbot Diaries. I’m hooked!

Do you have a favorite novella? Tell me about it in the comments!

“A Chance Meeting”

 

I saw her only for a brief moment,
Stopped in the left-hand turn lane.
And in that moment, as I glanced at
Her face, I saw the life we could have
Lived together. A thousand thousand
Possibilities and perhapses flitted
Through the space between my car
And hers, mingling with the what-ifs
And if-onlys. And then, as the light
Turned green, I realized that moment
Flashes between each and every
One of us on any given day.

Hey all,

It’s been an eventful summer in the Krogmeier house. It all started when we bought a house. That’s right, folks. As of mid-May, we own a house. No more apartments, at least for the foreseeable future. Woohoo! Now it’s the end of August, and we’re still unpacking, but you know, we’re off to a good start.

In June, our little family got a little bit bigger, as our son Wodan was born. Thankfully, there were no major complications, and he’s fitting in very well. Life as a parent (and not just a step-parent) is a new adventure for me, and I love it. Yes, there are challenges, but I have the best spouse in the world, and a strong support network in my friends and family. I’m not the only new dad in my friends group, and that is also kind of awesome. Side note: paid paternity leave is amazing, and should absolutely be included as a benefit at any job, along with paid maternity leave.

Then the last weekend of July was the end of the 41st annual Colorado Renaissance Festival. I worked for the faire for as many weekends as I could (that whole thing about having a baby arrive in June did mean taking some days off). It was my fourth year working for the same shop, and I couldn’t have been happier. I got to see so many of my friends and faire family this season, and got to introduce most of them to Wodan.

August also means that the library’s summer reading program has wrapped up for the year. Between my leave time and a co-worker moving away,  it was a bit rough. Thankfully, the rest of the staff stepped up, and it made my return to work in July so much easier.

I’m getting back into my reading pile at long last. The DC Rebirth titles have been stacking up, and I’m gearing up for another round of YA booktalks in local schools for this fall, plus I’m hoping to re-read a few favorites before the end of the year. I’ve got A Game of Thrones on audio, and it’s filling in some of the hours and getting me back up to speed. I may take that approach with a few others I’ve already read.

There’s some sad news, though. Because of various scheduling things and expenses, I’m going to have to cancel on the one convention I’ve gone to every year since I first started cosplaying. Dear friends who will be at NDK this weekend, I’m sorry I am not able to make it this time around. I hope to be back in full form next year. It’s going to be weird missing out on it, since I’ve been going since 2009. All the same, it’s better for me to take a bit of time to gather myself before diving into cosplay/costuming stuff again. That said, all of my cosplay goals from last February still hold true.

Finally, I’m sorry I’ve not been writing much this year. I’d intended to utilize my new work schedule to try to get more stories cranked out, and I’ve barely managed to get blog posts written. It’s good that I’ve been busy with my day job, but I’ve got to be better about my creative outlets too. Thankfully, work is giving me all kinds of opportunities for new outreach stuff, letting me meet new people in the community and encouraging me to move outside of my comfort zone. Growth is good, y’all.

In the 18th century, it was rather common for young wealthy English folks to embark on a Grand Tour of continental Europe between their school years and their careers or higher education. Henry “Monty” Montague’s Grand Tour, however, is anything but common. Monty’s formal education at Eton ended rather abruptly, due to being caught in a rather compromising situation with another one of the boys. Now his future as his father’s heir is in jeopardy, and his tour is his last chance to redeem himself.

So it is that Monty departs for the continent, knowing that if he doesn’t manage to behave himself (at least in his father’s eyes), he’ll be left penniless. He’s accompanied by his younger sister, Felicity, herself off to a school in France, and his best friend Percy, who will be leaving England for law school at the end of their tour.

Monty naturally feels a bit overwhelmed by the mounting pressure on him to completely turn his own life around. However, understanding the plights of others isn’t something he’s ever been good at, and Felicity and Percy each have their own deep concerns about what awaits each of them at the end of their trip. None of them expect Monty’s knack for attracting trouble to draw them into a web of intrigue that leads them from France to Spain to Italy, pursued by highwaymen, pirates, and vengeful nobles. And none of them, least of all Monty, expected him to fall desperately in love with Percy along the way…

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee was everything I wanted it to be and more. Adventure, mystery, and romance all fall neatly into place in this YA treasure. It’s available now, so do yourself a favor and pick it up.

Note: I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review.

“Clouds”

I went for a drive last night,
When there was a pause in
The rain, and as I looked out
At the mountain I saw great
Clouds clinging to her sides,
Like giants playing at being
Goats on cliff edges, fearless
And watching over the sprawl
Of the city below.

Today is March 31st. That means that today is Trans Day of Visibility. Coming around four months after Trans Day of Remembrance, TDOV is a day of recognizing and empowering the trans community. It’s also a good day to donate to your favorite trans support fund. My go-to is Trans Lifeline.

I’ve been reading some absolutely phenomenal trans fiction and non-fiction lately. If you’re looking to boost your own understanding, check these out. I’m also always open to additional suggestions for titles to read.

If I Was Your Girl

George

Being Jazz

Wandering Son

More here.

And always remember, no matter the day: Trans men are men. Trans women are women. Trans rights are human rights.

I missed my blog anniversary last month, and while this is a milestone I usually like to celebrate, this year on January 20th, I was a bit preoccupied.

I’m a month in to my new position with the library, and I could not be happier. I feel like I’m making a really positive impact on my teen patrons here, though I really miss my old group. I’m gearing up for my first book club meeting, and we’re reading Neil Shusterman’s Unwind (meanwhile, I’m tackling his new title, Scythe, for my own sheer joy). I’m helping plan programs and events for Teen Tech Week in March, putting together bulletin boards and book displays for the teen area, etc. It’s been great!

Plus, you know, there was this whole wedding thing that happened last week. So, V and I finally got married. It’s been officially in the works since August, when I finally proposed to the girl who’s been my closest friend for over a decade.

I’m working on more book reviews, I promise. There are so many coming out soon! I just finished reading M-E Girard’s Girl Mans Up, and I can’t wait to tell you more about it. Plus a follow-up to my review of The City Stained Red when I review the sequel, The Mortal Tally (because the final book, God’s Last Breath, is out in July). And A Conjuring of Light is out in two weeks! So many good books lately, I’ve barely been able to keep up.

Anyway, thanks for sticking around for so much of the last six years. I’ll try to get the anniversary post in on time next year.

It’s the first day of a new year, and it’s a good time to look back at some of the big positives of 2016, and see how I did as far as achieving my goals for the year.

Per last year, I said I wanted to write more. Well, in 2015, I wrote 12 blog posts, down from 51 in 2014. I know that a part of that was the end of the Trifecta Writing Challenge. So in 2016, I got myself back into writing with a lot more book reviews and non-fiction posts. I got myself back up to 43 posts. My goal for this year is a minimum of 52 posts, one per week. There are some things that are going to facilitate that, and I’m pretty excited.

I mentioned that I’d like to submit more work. I only came close on this one, didn’t really hit it as well as I would’ve liked (I lost track of several deadlines for submissions to magazines, and that’s no one’s fault but mine). Still, I did manage to send a piece to a local counter-culture newspaper for a zine that they were making, which was a fun way to get my work out to a new audience. This year, if more time allows for writing, I’d like to send some new stories out.

Goal #3 from last year was to draw more. To an extent, yes, I got more drawing done. I did some more doodles, but also worked on some new costume designs. I’m not sure when I’ll have the time to start assembling more costumes and cosplays, but I’ve got a pretty good start to the look of several. It’s fun to find more inspiration in things around me and start working on transforming that into a physical bit.

Communicating more was another goal that I set for 2016. I think I did okay there, but you can always tell me differently if you disagree. I got to meet a new nephew and see the other before he went off to Europe, so that was definitely a good thing. Now I’m going to be relying on things like Skype a lot more to keep in touch with my family, but it’s fun to look forward to those moments. It feels more important to me to talk more now that we’re farther away.

Goal #5 was to vote. Been there, done that, and I’m not going to get into politics in this post. I want to continue to increase my political literacy over the coming year, though, because there are a great many challenges that will have to be overcome.

I didn’t manage to hit my sixth goal until almost the end of 2016. It took many tries over the year, but my determination paid off. I start my first full time job with my library tomorrow morning. It’s bittersweet to be leaving my old location, but I’m super excited about having a regular schedule. This is one of the biggest changes in my life in years, and it’s going to make it much easier to accomplish a lot of my other goals. No more dependence on substitute hours to bring in the income I need, and no more moving from location to location, putting in split shifts six or seven days a week.

My final goal for 2016 was to read more. Per goodreads, I got through 187 books in 2015, and bumped up to 217 last year. Again, my current reading list contains a lot of comic books, but I’m working on a lot of teen fiction for this year. I’ve got a couple of books I’d like to revisit this year too. I’ll be aiming for at least 200 titles this year, so we’ll see how that goes.

I’m looking to learn a couple of new games this year, as I picked up my first Malifaux crew. It’s something that V has been telling me about for a while now, so I’m going to eventually be assembling and painting these: rasputina

There are a lot of other big changes on the horizon, folks. Thanks to all of you for sticking around. I’ll be keeping you updated.

Earlier this year, I read If I Was Your Girl, and it is one of the most timely books I have ever encountered. Meredith Russo’s tale of a young girl moving to a new town is so much more than your standard teen romance.

Amanda just moved to Lambertville, a small Tennessee town where the big events are high school football games and church socials. She’s nervous about getting a fresh start for her senior year of high school, but she quickly makes a handful of friends. However, she’s hiding two big secrets. One, she attempted suicide while she was at her old school. Two, Amanda is transgender. Amanda is not expecting to fall in love, but encountering Grant, a young man with secrets of his own, leaves them both struggling to be honest with each other.

Amanda’s parents are separated, and she moves from a larger city where she lived with her mother to a small town where her father is still coming to terms with his daughter’s identity. If I Was Your Girl tells Amanda’s story almost flawlessly, interweaving flashbacks to her old life and helping the reader understand Amanda’s reasons for transitioning and her acceptance in her new home. Meredith Russo blends some of her own life experiences into Amanda. As readers, we’re shown an incredibly deep look. We see the psychological effects, glimpses into the recovery from the surgical procedures, and her experiences with a local support group prior to the move.

As has been mentioned in many reviews of this book, If I Was Your Girl covers a fairly easy take on transition. Amanda knows from a young age who she is, and has no trouble covering the costs of hormone therapy and various surgeries while she is still young. It’s an idealized version of transition, and it is important to note that this is currently quite rare in reality (I personally was waiting for tragedy to strike throughout my read, because everything seemed to be going too well). This is also noted by the author. “I’m worried that you might take Amanda’s story as gospel, especially since it comes from a trans woman. This prospect terrifies me, actually! I am a storyteller, not an educator. I have taken liberties with what I know reality to be.” However, this does not diminish the importance of a book by a transgender author, starring a transgender character, and featuring a transgender model on the cover in a year when transphobia is at a terrifying high.

All in all, I loved this book. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Is it perfect? No. But it’s a much-needed beacon of hope in what has been a very dark year for LGBT+ folks around the country.

November is Transgender Awareness Month. If you’re able to make a donation to GLAAD, please do so.

Want to read more like If I Was Your Girl? Check out Bookish’s list of 21 books to read for Transgender Awareness month.

Update: This review can now also be found here and on my goodreads page.

“We Are The Meteor”

We are the meteor
We are bringing change
We will see the end
Of the dinosaurs’ reign

We are the meteor
We can not be stopped
We just pick up speed
And we’re coming in hot

We are the meteor
We are the reset
And you won’t believe it
When you see our impact

We are the meteor
We are bringing change
We will see the end
Of the dinosaurs’ reign