Yay Gay January

I don’t have any major life changing reason to want to do this, but I’m thinking that in January of 2012 I’m making it a goal of mine to read nothing but LGBT books. Why? Just because I like LGBT books a lot and want an excuse to spend an entire month reading nothing but them :p And when I say I want to read LGBT books, I mean just that…book that fall into the Lesbian category, Gay category, Bisexual category AND Transgendered category. I’m giving everyone a little air time here. I’m super super excited about this 😀 So…I have a question for you guys! What are some of your favorite LGBT books? Any genre! Non fiction, fiction, YA, fantasy, mystery, etc. etc. I had no plans to make this a challenge and still have no plans to do so, but if you want to join along and read some lgbt books in January or commit the whole month to reading nothing but lgbt books like I’m doing, please feel free to join in!! I’ll post some of my favorite lgbt books sometime soon and then post some books I really want to read. Feel free to add to my wishlist :p

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The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook

This book is absolutely a thing of beauty. It’s the brainchild of those fabulous Beekman boys, Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell, accompanied by gorgeous photos by Sandy Gluck. I’m not much of a cookbook fan…not that I don’t LOVE to cook (and eat, of course), but I usually get totally overwhelmed by all of the choices that a cookbook offers. Not so with this book. The recipes are as warm and inviting as the design of the book is.

I bought this book because, frankly…I have a total crush on the Beekman boys…particularly cute little Josh and his amazing vegetable garden XD. I also love the aspirations behind their line of books, housewares, linens and foodstuffs – to create things of an heirloom quality that can be passed down for generations. Seriously…I want EVERYTHING on their website, Beekman1802.com…particularly the amazing fruit spoons and that picnic blanket which I just think is gorgeous.

The cookbook follows in the tradition of their other goods…it’s an heirloom product. It’s bound beautifully, has some of the most gorgeous food photography I’ve ever seen, has space to add your own recipes from the family and is filled with timeless recipes that aren’t likely to ever go out of style. Many of the recipes do have a modern twist to them, but nothing that makes it anything but a classic.

I’ve already bookmarked probably about 50 recipes and I plan on trying one a week from the cookbook starting with Dandelion Salad with Slab Bacon, Croutons, and Hot Bacon dressing. Mostly all of the recipes use exclusively things that you can harvest from your own garden or farm or find on a neighbor’s garden or farm. Well…living in New Orleans, I’m stuck with what I grow in my own backyard garden and will have to go to Whole Foods for the rest :p But all of the ingredients are fresh, for the most part, not packaged things.

The book has numerous vegetarian options as well and for those meat lovers, there are PLENTY of mouth watering choices to devour. I seriously can’t wait to make their baked ham, meatloaf burgers and roasted pork loin recipes. They all sound amazing…what am I talking about…everything in here sounds amazing! Except for the recipes with eggs :/ I was kind of fearful when I saw the first recipe was for deviled eggs, lol. I really despise eggs…except for in cakes. Anything you put in a cake I will basically eat :p

If you buy one cookbook this year, I’d make it this one. It’s definitely a thing that can be passed on through the generations and it’s filled with recipes that are separated by season that can keep the table happy year round. Love it!

Habibi by Craig Thompson

Have the tissues ready when you read this one for multiple reasons. The story…heartbreaking…the art…gorgeous. Neither is a surprise after reading Blankets, one of my favorite graphic novels, no…BOOKS, ever. This book isn’t one that I can compare to Blankets, his earlier work, though. It has a complete life of it’s own and might be the most in depth graphic novel I’ve ever read. It’s story is completely epic while still remaining completely intimate. It’s one that will stay with me for a long time.

Habibi is a boy who’s name is Zam. Habibi is a nickname he’s given by Dodola, a woman who adopts him in a way. Dodola is a young woman in the middle east who is sold to a husband at the age of 9. When she escapes that marriage, she meets a young boy named Zam who’s a slave at the time. The adventures that they go on are sad and horrible, but there are lights of sunshine throughout the novel. This is a novel of slavery, rape, anti-feminism, religion, poverty, and so much more. Like I said…have the tissues ready.

Habibi is a very smart book too that educates without preaching. Thompson shows the similarities between Islam and Christianity. How these two religions that seem to be constantly at war actually have so much in common. The art…it’s stunning. I don’t even know that I have words to properly convey how gorgeous of a book this is. I cannot even imagine the amount of time, energy and work put into something like this.

I read a review of this on the Guardian’s website that says basically all of what I said but then goes on to say that the book is too long and ultimately tiring and exhausting. I couldn’t disagree with that more. It’s tiring and exhausting because of the tragedies that go on in the book. But if you think for one minute that this stuff doesn’t happen every day not just in the middle east, but hear in the US too, you are sorely mistaken. I personally think it’s offensive to call this tiring and exhausting and too long. That’s basically saying “I can’t deal with all of that horrific stuff…I’ll just ignore it.” That’s what I get from that at least. These are things that HAVE to be talked about. No change can happen without talk.

I’ll leave you with some images from this gorgeous book…I think they speak for themselves on how amazing it is and how badly I want you all to read it.

 

Geez…Another Bad Bad Bloggers…

It never ends, does it? Can I blame it on RIP???? Please??

1. RASL by Jeff Smith – I didn’t even know this series existed!! But it looks gorgeous..and yes, that’s the same Jeff Smith that wrote Bone! (Bought it)

2. The Nymphos of Rocky Flats by Mario Acevedo – So when I went to visit Debi and fam, Rich bought this book. That title. And the description just keeps getting better…really. Point to Rich! (Paperback Swap)

3. Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table by Ruth Reichl – The blame for this one goes to my local indie, Octavia Books. I hadn’t heard of her books, but she’s coming to sign at the bookstore! Sadly, I won’t be able to go, but looking forward to reading the books! (Paperback Swap)

4. Comfort Me With Apples: More Adventures at the Table by Ruth Reichl – Same as above (Paperback Swap)

5. The Radiation Sonnets by Jane Yolen – OMG you guys, this book was amazing! If you missed it, I reviewed it already and loved it. It’s a book of poetry by Yolen that she wrote as her husband was going through radiation treatments. (Paperback Swap)

6. A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban – Becky wrote up a post of all of her favorite books since she started blogging and needless to say, I added them all to my wishlist :p Can’t go wrong with Becky!! Point to Becky! (Paperback Swap)

7. Valley of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – To feed my sherlock obsession (Paperback Swap)

8. The Dragonfly Pool by Eva Ibbotson – A point to Ana for making this one sound so damn good!! (Paperback Swap)

9. His Last Bow by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – More sherlock goodness…(Paperback Swap)

10. The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – And yet more…(Paperback Swap)

11. Spooky South by S.E. Schlosser – I was really hoping to like this one, but it just didn’t work for me at all 😦 Aside from the art! I reviewed this one already too! (Bought it)

12. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – I will never need to buy more Sherlock again…(Paperback Swap)

13. Walden by Henry David Thoreau – I listened to Michael Pollan’s Second Nature on audiobook and he mentioned this NUMEROUS times throughout the book. I’ve never read Walden, so I thought that maybe it’s time! Point to Michael Pollan! (Paperback Swap)

14. From the Ground Up by Amy Stewart – Because it just sounds good and Amy Stewart rocks! (Paperback Swap)

15. Blood Wounds by Susan Beth Pfeffer – This is her new one! I had preordered this ages ago actually and it just came in! Hooray 😀 I love Pfeffer!! (Bought it)

16. The Dreaming Volume 1 by Queenie Chan – Read this one already too and absolutely loved it!! Point to Annie for this one as I know she totally loves it 🙂 (Paperback Swap)

17. Every You, Every Me by David Levithan – Another that I had preordered. I reviewed this one already too. Really enjoyed it 🙂 Good lord…it’s preorder season! I’m going to have lots of books coming in, lol. (Bought it)

18. When She Woke by Hillary Jordan – laksdjflasdjf;lkadjs That was my reaction when I got this in the mail!! Nancy sent me her review copy 😀 But the point for this one goes to Heather who had me dying to read it!! (Gift from a friend)

19. The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine by Alina Bronsky – And Nancy, being the sweet woman that she is, sent this little gift with When She Woke 🙂 I haven’t even heard of this one, but Nancy gets a point for putting it on my radar :p (Gift from a friend)

20. The Call of Cthulu and Other Dark Tales by H.P. Lovecraft – So Jill and Heather are doing Dueling Monsters again this year!! And Cthulu is one of the books!!!! YAY!!! I had to go pick up a copy to read along today 🙂 Point to Jill as this was her pick! (Bought it)

Two RIP Mini Reviews

I read two books over the past couple of days that both fit really well for the RIP challenge! And yet they were both books that I had no plans on reading before the RIP challenge…funny how that happens, huh?

The first was Volume one of The Dreaming by Queenie Chan. This book is a manga and was PERFECTLY creepy! It’s basically about two twin girls who go to a boarding school and get a weird feeling about the school right off the bat. For one, they can’t let it be known that they are twins..for some reason that we still don’t really know..number two, there’s a creepy as all shit headmaster…and third..well, weird shit just happens at the school. The two sisters begin having the same dream of standing in the woods that border the school with blood dripping down the trees. And they come to learn that many a student has disappeared in those same woods never to be heard of again. I really cannot wait to get volume two of this three part series!!

The second book I read was David Levithan’s new book which came to me in the mail last night. It’s called Every You, Every Me (yes, after the Placebo song). I didn’t think that this was going to be an RIP book at all, but the mystery of it and the haunting feel of it definitely fit. Though maybe not in the traditional way. And there is nothing traditional about this novel as Levithan is always pushing the envelope. It’s a novel filled with photographs, short chapters and a whole additional story that’s told in text that is crossed out.

It’s the story of a young boy who has lost his best friend. We don’t know why…is she missing? Is she dead? We know from the beginning that mental illness is involved…depression..maybe psychosis. Clues unravel themselves as we go on through the form of pictures that are left for the narrator. Pictures that bring back everything that happened between him and his best friend, Ariel. It’s a book that cannot be put down! I read the whole thing in the matter of about an hour and a half today. I just love the goodies that Levithan always gives us. Highly recommend this one!

And with these two books I have officially completed Peril the Second for RIP! Though of course I’ll keep reading 🙂

Spooky South by S.E. Schlosser

Oh book, I wish I would’ve liked you better. I went to Barnes and Noble last weekend and picked this up from my favorite table of the year…the Halloween table. The fault in this book lies entirely in the reader. I’m sure there are many other people who would love this type of book..but it’s not me. Mainly, I thought this book was going to be actual ghost stories from the south. I happen to believe in ghosts…I’ve had some strange experiences that have attributed to that belief. But this book wasn’t what I thought it would be, hence my disappointment.

What Spooky South focuses more on are folklore and urban myth type stories. Sort of like a Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark type book. Which is fine…it’s just not what *I* wanted. Add to this the cheesy endings to a lot of these stories. It’s always bugged me when people are telling a creepy story and it ends with something really stupid like “And you can bet that was the last time he ever did that!” For me, that just totally rips you out of the atmosphere of a good story.

Having said all of that…there actually were a couple of stories in this 30 story collection that did give me the creeps. And I don’t get the creeps very easily. The one’s that did so were the ones that sounded like actual ghost stories. Not the ones with made up creatures and ridiculous rendezvous with “the devil himself.”

I think what this book had going for it more than anything though were the incredible illustrations by Paul G. Hoffman! Each story had a one page illustration and I looked forward to them with each story. They were just fantastic!! Had a wonderful southern folk art vibe to them.

So while this one didn’t work for me, it may work for some others. If you’re into folklore (though I really didn’t see how this was particularly southern folklore aside from that each story said it took place in the south) or urban myths/legends, then you might like this one. If you want a real ghost story based on history though, I’m afraid you’ll have to pass this one up.

Ivan and Misha by Michael Alenyikov

I really can’t thank TLC Booktours enough for thinking of me when looking for reviewers for this book. What a true gem this book was…a rare find. I had a feeling I would enjoy Ivan and Misha based on the cover and the title alone. I’m a sucker for a good cover and I have always adored Russian names. And if you DO adore Russian names, then this is a book for you. But it’s a book for you for many other reasons as well.

This book is a collection of short stories that work their way into somewhat of a novel. The stories all focus on the same characters at different points in their lives and bring everything together to paint a larger picture. Ivan and Misha are brothers, twins. They traveled over seas from Russia with their father at a young age and have known most of their lives to exist in New York. Their father holds on to his Russian roots while Ivan and Misha embrace their new culture. What doesn’t change is the brothers’ bond. A bond even more intense than what’s normally shared between brothers.

Misha’s sexuality is straight forward…he’s gay. While Ivan’s sexuality is sort of open to what he’s in the mood for at the time. Ivan lives with bipolar disorder and is often manic going days without sleep and coming up with elaborate plans. The stories that we here are really “day in the life” stories, focusing on Misha’s relationship with his partner, his partner’s past relationships, Ivan’s bipolar disorder, their father’s history and time in America and the bond that all of the above share.

From an LGBT point of view, this book is really gorgeous. It touches on sensitive subjects…relationships with family, AIDS, and acceptance…but I never looked at the book as specifically lgbt. Which I really loved. So many gay books overdo the gay! This one didn’t at all. It was simply part of who these people were and that’s that. And I think that’s how it should be.

I have to say the book was gutwrenching at times. Dealing with some of the above topics, you would imagine it would be. The ending of the first story particularly was upsetting. And ending that I won’t give away here. I’ll let you discover it for yourself. But Alenyikov’s (I love his last name) writing is close to poetry. But not in that hard to read way…just in that he captures moments so perfectly with so few words.

Michael Alenyikov has graciously offered up a signed copy of this book to one lucky person (living in the US or Canada only unfortunately). Just let me know if you’d like a copy and I’ll pick a winner in a week and send the name on to Mr. Alenyikov.  Whether you win a copy or not, I hope you read this one…I don’t bias my reviews based on the fact that they were offered for review. I truly did love this one and would love to hear more of Ivan and Misha’s stories.