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So, we moved.

Sold our old house and bought a new one across town (and it took a minute, too, because the housing market here is fucking ridiculous). Got more room for me, V, and the kids. Commutes are still well within workable times/distances. We’re in the process of unpacking, and it’s probably going to be a bit, but that’s okay. We’re planning to stay put for a while now.

It’s a little weird, honestly. I have a tendency to be very much a stereotypical Taurus and get very set in a place or a set of behaviors, and in the last couple of months I’ve been upending a lot of that. Now that I’m not in the same house I was in for the last five years, a lot is starting to change for the better. Granted, I’ve been doing new things in old ways, so there’s that. Old habits, etc. But I’ve been trying to get myself into some new rhythms. A new work schedule, more time at home with the kids. Time to get some yard work and other home improvement tasks done on the weekends.

Right now, it’s a lot of figuring out what goes where, and with my and V’s combined book collection, that takes quite a bit of doing. Not going to lie, this was the worst move I’ve gone through in the last fifteen years. This was mostly because we had two weeks of limbo between vacating the old house and getting access to the new house. I couldn’t just load one box of books, move it, unload it, and then reuse it. Stuff had to get moved into storage, then out again later in the month. It was a lot more logistically difficult, and quite frankly, I burned myself out really hard by doing 90% of the lifting/hauling by myself (my many thanks to my father-in-law and my friends who helped with some of the boxing of stuff and the lifting of my desk). V and the kids helped as much as possible too, but the timing made it difficult for V to take off of work when I was able to. I’m done doing the self-moving, though. Next time, whenever that may be, I’m hiring pros. Insisting on doing as much as I can by myself is another one of those habits I need to kick.

But hey, the house is coming together really well, and we’re all feeling much better about the whole thing. I’m getting some more reading and writing done, and looking forward to the years we have to come. It’s going to take some time to get decorations and whatnot in place, but it’s great to be building a new home for me and my family.

I was in middle school the first time I saw the word “kaiju” in print. I was on a Godzilla kick, because I was in middle school, and Godzilla books had been readily available for a few years at that point, thanks mostly (I guess) to Roland Emmerich’s 1998 film. I had been to my parents’ bookstore and found a couple of mass market paperbacks of other Godzilla titles, and started to learn my way around the other residents of Monster Island. A love of the giant creatures was born that has persisted to this day, across films like Pacific Rim and the films and comics within the Godzilla franchise. Now imagine my joy when one of my favorite sci-fi writers announced an upcoming novel titled The Kaiju Preservation Society.

John Scalzi is a remarkably fun writer to read, and since it’s been a while since the last time I read one of his books, I’d forgotten that. TKPS is a ridiculously fun ride. When Jamie Gray loses his job in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, he turns to delivering food around New York in an attempt to keep up with his bills. This brings him into contact with Tom, an old college friend who tells Jamie that he has a job opportunity for him with a group that does preservation work for large animals. What Jamie was not expecting was for that job to be on the other side of a dimensional barrier separating our Earth from an alternate one populated by nuclear-powered creatures the size of apartment buildings.

Jamie emerges on the other side of the barrier to find a small scientific research base, where he will serve as a gofer for the numerous scientists studying the kaiju that inhabit this parallel world. He quickly makes friends and becomes acclimated to the bizarre biology of the local populace, learning what a threat virtually everything on that side of the barrier is (in short, everything will either kill you or try really hard to do so). Rapidly changing circumstances lead Jamie to understand, however, that not everyone associated with The Kaiju Preservation Society is as well-intentioned as he is, as an impending disaster threatens everyone and everything on both sides of the rift.

This was a fast-paced, very fun novel, that reads like a mashup of Pacific Rim and Jurassic Park. My only complaint is that we don’t get to spend a lot of time in the world, and I would love to see Scalzi release a sequel at some point down the line. The Kaiju Preservation Society is out in stores tomorrow, March 15th. Go get yourself a copy asap. My utmost thanks to Macmillan/Tor and NetGalley for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Gallant is the tale of a young orphan girl named Olivia Prior, and the ghouls that she can see. Olivia lives at Merilance School for Independent Girls in London, and she has no idea who her parents were, or why she was left there. Her only connection to her heritage is a journal that once belonged to her mother, filled with notes that seem to slowly veer into madness as they go on. “I’m so sorry I don’t know what else to do…you will be safe as long as you stay away from Gallant.”

Born without a voice, Olivia communicates via sign language (and occasionally writing, but she rightly refused to wear a chalkboard around her neck). Her inability to speak and the refusal of others to learn to sign has caused her more than a few conflicts with the other students and the matrons at school. Her only real companions at Merilance are the ghouls, partial shades of the dead who linger in our world. While she’s the only one at the school who seems to realize they’re there, they do not speak to her, and vanish from her view when told to go away.

Then one day, everything changes when a letter from an unknown uncle arrives for Olivia. “You are wanted. You are needed. You belong with us,” it reads. She is whisked away from Merilance by a driver who was sent to take her to the family home, Gallant, far from London. There, she meets her cousin, Matthew, and finds that her new home is also filled with ghouls. Ghouls that look like the family portraits hanging in the hallway. And there’s the issue of the mysterious, crumbling wall at the back of the garden, and the iron door that is set in the middle of it. There are many secrets held by Gallant, and Olivia’s mother’s journal ended with warning her to stay away.

The far side of the wall has more in store for her than she ever could have imagined, for there, Olivia finds a dark echo of the grand house. This shadow of Gallant is crumbling, and the master of the house is hungry for something only a Prior can provide. “Do you know what you are, Olivia Prior? You are amends. You are a tithe, a gift, and you belong to me.”

Gallant is an absolutely phenomenal Gothic fantasy, showcasing Schwab’s talents at writing for younger audiences. I loved every minute of it, and I’m very grateful to NetGalley and HarperCollins for the eARC in exchange for an honest review. It’s out in the world as of March 1st, so go grab a copy!

Wow.

I mean.

Where do you start a review for a book like Manhunt? I’m going to have to say it starts like this, because I’ve literally never read a book like Manhunt before.

The world has ended, at least for cis men. A virulent plague has torn through humanity, attacking people with higher levels of testosterone and turning them into violent, feral monsters. The survivors do what they can to get by, rebuilding where they can. Beth and Fran navigate through the New England wilderness, tracking and killing the men and harvesting their testicles and kidneys to bring back to their friend Indi. She processes hormones for the two trans women so that they can prevent the disease from transforming them into mindless beasts as well. Together, they might be able to hold on.

However, the wild men aren’t the only threat to Beth and Fran in this remade world. Militant TERFs (trans-exclusionary radical feminists) are sweeping the eastern seaboard, killing anyone who isn’t a cis woman. Their leader, Teach, is out to leave her own mark, and she’ll destroy anything or anyone who might even consider helping trans folks.

Gretchen Felker-Martin has crafted a horrifying, violent apocalypse that skillfully wraps its way around gender and sexuality. She blends beautifully erotic scenes with the grotesque, and leaves you terrified, but somehow still wanting more. Manhunt showcases the power of found family, even in the face of utter destruction. “Community is when you never let go of each other. Not even after you’re gone.”

This book is definitely not for the faint of heart or the delicate of stomach, but it was an absolute blast. It’s out now. My thanks to Tor Nightfire and NetGalley for an eARC of the book in exchange for an honest review.

It’s my WordPress Anniversary! I usually forget the exact day I started this whole project, and so it was a pleasant surprise to see the notification that I’d made it back on time when I signed in today.

I’ve been writing here for eleven years, as of today. In the last year, I finished my master’s degree and welcomed another child to my and V’s family. I’m looking forward to having some time to dedicate to writing things for myself (and all of you lovely readers) during the next year. I’ll be catching up on some media that I’ve missed thanks to school, so stand by for some upcoming reviews. First up is going to be Manhunt by Gretchen Felker-Martin, shortly followed by John Scalzi’s The Kaiju Preservation Society.

I’m in the middle of buying a house right now. It’s not a fun process, per se, but it does have its own sort of charm. We’ve been in our current place for almost five years, but with the arrival of additional children since moving in, we’re out of space. Thanks to buying our current home, we’re in a decent place financially to be upgrading, despite the volatility of the housing market right now. This does add somewhat to the general disorder of life, but that’s part of things, isn’t it? Wouldn’t change it for the world. Hello, sweet chaos…

Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for sticking around for the last eleven years. Let’s grow and change and improve ourselves together, shall we?

Final papers are submitted, and grades are in.

With a 4.0 GPA for my last semester, I’ve completed my graduate school career with a 3.83 cumulative average. My status has moved from “Graduation Pending” to “Degree Awarded,” and my actual physical diploma will be mailed out within the next few weeks. Now, I can rest.

You know. Sort of.

You see, yesterday was my first day back at work in almost three months. My parental leave/FMLA time has come to an end, and so I’ve begun the long process of getting back into the rhythm of the outside world. My Tiniest Child arrived in October, and I’m already missing being at home with all of the kids. It’s almost a month since the last school paper was turned in, and I’m still trying to make peace with the fact that I didn’t really do a lot other than take care of them during the last few weeks. I didn’t really need to do anything beyond just being Dad. It was peaceful.

So, what’s next?

I mean, ideally I’ll keep working in my current position in Young Adult Services until a titled “Librarian” position opens, and throw applications at them for the next year or two. I have no plans to leave the area within the next decade, so I’m perfectly content to keep working where I am. The shift in position would be nice, of course, and include a pay raise, so I’m not going to say no to an opportunity to move up.

This is the end of the Dispatches From Library School, but I’ll be able to return the blog to more of my standard content of book reviews and original fiction/poetry. I’m pretty excited about not having to spend every spare moment trying to carve out concentration time for school. Thanks to all of you for sticking around.

It’s November 30th, and I’ll be finishing my last projects for grad school within the next week. My final research project is due on December 8th, and that will be that. I’m conditionally approved for graduation, with the condition being that I pass my two remaining courses for the semester. As I’m currently sitting at a 96% or better in both, I think I’m going to be okay.

This is kind of surreal. Two years ago, I threw myself into this program with a heavier course load than I needed. I did it because I wanted to test myself and see if I could handle the full-time schedule on top of full-time work and a new baby at home. I made it, but it’s not been easy for me or for my family. I’m ready to see the end of that extra stress.

I’ve not written a lot about school this semester. I’ve been struggling a lot on my final research project. While I got approval from the library to poll my teen patrons, I didn’t get approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) until a few weeks ago. As soon as I did, I got my surveys printed out and set out in the teen area at my library, but it was almost a month after I’d hoped to be done collecting data. While I have had access to other data sources, the core idea behind my research was to see how COVID had impacted my teen patrons. Without their input, I felt like I was missing the entire point. I got pretty heavily depressed for a few weeks while I emailed updates back and forth, trying to get everything that the IRB requested. I was starting to feel like this whole thing had been a waste of time.

When I finally got the email containing my official IRB approval, the relief in the house was palpable. It was amazing how much better I felt, and I realized just how wrapped up in it I’d been. I hadn’t been able to focus properly on anything, and suddenly that block was just gone. I feel like I’ve been a different person for most of the last two years, and I’m finally going to get to be me again.

I’m still on parental leave, since Tiniest Child is almost two months old. I’m looking forward to a few weeks of vacation time to just hang out and enjoy the holidays with my family before diving back into work in January. Some day soon, I might start remembering what free time feels like.

Now I haven’t just been doing school work this semester. I’ve been doing guest work on the second season of The Sudden But Inevitable podcast discussing the classic anime series Cowboy Bebop (and I’ll be back soon to talk about Netflix’s live-action adaptation thereof). I’ve been working at my library (up until the beginning of October, when Tiniest Child arrived). I’ve been playing Metroid: Dread (two complete playthroughs at 100%, now learning some of the speedrunning quirks). I’ve not been attempting NaNoWriMo, because I do still have some semblance of sanity. I worked through a bunch of classic slasher movies (Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Children of the Corn, Scream, Candyman, etc.) during October. I got my COVID-19 booster shot. I spent time with my kids, just playing with Duplos. It’s been pretty damn good, but it’ll be better once school’s done. Stay tuned.

It’s October, and the month that I spend in celebration of Hallowe’en is one of my favorite times of the year. Nearly five weeks of spooky stories, movies, games, all building up to a night spent in costume asking strangers and friends alike for candy? I’m 100% in.

This year, one of the best scary stories that I had the pleasure of reading was Cassandra Khaw’s new novella, Nothing But Blackened Teeth. I’m a big fan of horror novellas, as I love seeing how an author can build suspense over shorter texts, and Khaw absolutely shines here. They skillfully blend Japanese myths and history with a modern setting, leaving me wanting so much more.

Nothing But Blackened Teeth is the story of a group of friends, horror fans all, who have overcome their intertwining pasts to gather at an ancient Heian-era mansion so that two of them can get married. Why not have a destination wedding in a haunted house? After learning about one of the spirits that is said to occupy the grounds, the friends soon find that their planned night of drinking and telling ghost stories may have gone a step too far. An ohaguro-bettari, the ghost of a bride-to-be, has claimed one of them as a replacement for the man who died before he could become her husband a thousand years ago.

Khaw presents us with a group of protagonists who are clearly genre-savvy, but their own interpersonal connections have grown strained, and may prove to be their undoing. “This is the problem with horror movies: Everyone knows what’s coming next but actions have momentum, every decision an equal and justified reaction. Just because you know you should, doesn’t mean you can, stop.”

I loved Nothing But Blackened Teeth, and devoured the novella in a couple of hours. It’s available for you to buy today!

My sincere thanks to NetGalley for an eARC in exchange for a fair review.

So, you’re planning a trip to England.

You’ve watched Midsomer Murders from start to finish, and read every Agatha Christie. You know what to expect.

Or so you think… Maybe there’s one more thing you should read first. Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village is a short but brilliant tongue-in-cheek book, preparing you for your inevitable demise in, well, Tongue-in-Cheek, or whatever little town you’re preparing to visit on your holiday. Maureen Johnson presents a very quick read with Gorey-esque illustrations provided by Jay Cooper. The guide introduces you to the titular village and its denizens and their various quirks (beware the vicar) before moving on to the nearby manor and the residents therein.

I loved this book. It took me maybe 30 minutes to read from beginning to end, but I vastly enjoyed every minute of it, spending a large portion of the time stifling my laughter so as to not wake my sleeping family members. Johnson’s humor is spectacular, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s out in the world today. Go find it. Just… Maybe don’t go to the little bookshop in the quaint English village to pick up a copy.

My utmost thanks to NetGalley for an eARC of this book in exchange for a fair review.

Okay, y’all. This was one weird book, and I absolutely loved it.

When Rainbow wakes up, she doesn’t remember anything. She doesn’t know who she is, where she is, or how she got there. She finds herself in a video game-like world, with memories slowly being returned to her. In order to fully regain her memories and (maybe) return home, she has to complete a quest. Chad01, the warrior assigned to escort her, is tremendously upset about being paired up with a Nobody, a character without an assigned class. They reluctantly set out across a bizarre world full of nightmarish creatures and magic that no one seems to fully understand.

Rainbow manages to retrieve some more of her memories along the journey, leading her to remember her time with her brother CJ and her struggles with her own mental health and suicidal ideation. The quest to find herself may be more destructive to her than she initially would have expected.

Sean McGinty has crafted a unique story here, with some parallels being drawn to The Wizard of Oz as far as a quest within a questionable reality. It’s a difficult story to describe, and a difficult one to read, but it pays off pretty well. 4/5 stars. It’s out in the world as of *oops* yesterday, so go check it out.

My most sincere thanks to NetGalley and Clarion Books for an eARC of Rainbow in the Dark in exchange for a fair review.