All Aboard the ARC: Little Astronaut: Poems by J. Hope Stein

***Note: I received a free digital review copy of this book from NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing in exchange for an honest review. I have not received compensation for the inclusion of any links for purchase found in this review or on any other page of The Voracious Bibliophile which mentions Little Astronaut: Poems, its author, or its publisher.***

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Review

A lot of small joys are captured herein: running barefoot on the beach; discovering language for the first time; and all the other triumphs of new life, of becoming a person. The bond between a mother and her child is perhaps the most holy covenant we as humans partake in, and J. Hope Stein restores the hallowed realms of motherhood to their much-deserved apotheosis. In this collection, Stein has given words to what can only be described as a miracle, and we as readers are more the blessed for her contributions. I don’t think I could recommend this collection highly enough, and I’m looking forward to putting it in the hands of my customers.

The bond between a mother and her child is perhaps the most holy covenant we as humans partake in, and J. Hope Stein restores the hallowed realms of motherhood to their much-deserved apotheosis.

Little Astronaut: Poems by J. Hope Stein

Little Astronaut: Poems is due to be released on September 20th, 2022 by Andrews McMeel Publishing and is available to preorder wherever books are sold.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

All Aboard the ARC: Musical Tables: Poems by Billy Collins

***Note: I received a free digital review copy of this book from NetGalley and Random House in exchange for an honest review. I have not received compensation for the inclusion of any links for purchase found in this review or on any other page of The Voracious Bibliophile which mentions Musical Tables: Poems, its author, or its publisher.***

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Review

My first introduction to Billy Collins and his work was in my high school sophomore English class reading “Introduction to Poetry”. I’m including the text of it below, courtesy of Poetry Foundation:

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

© 1988, 1996 Billy Collins. Source: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46712/introduction-to-poetry.

Since that fateful day, I myself no longer try to “torture a confession” out of the poems I read. I simply spend time with them, ruminating on them. Some poems reveal all of their truths at once while others can take anywhere from years to never to come into the light. The best poems, at least in my opinion, are the ones you can’t explain but that make you feel something deep stirring within you.

The best poems, at least in my opinion, are the ones you can’t explain but that make you feel something deep stirring within you.

All of that said, I think that Musical Tables is one of his best collections yet. More than 125 new poems are contained therein and all of them are short. If brevity is indeed the soul of wit, there’s enough wit in these 176 pages to confound King Solomon. Don’t expect any of the poems in this collection to smack you over the head with their profundity. While some of them are indeed deeply insightful, oftentimes whimsical and playful, none of them are preeners. They simply stand in front of the reader naked and say, “This is what you get, like it or not.” Some made me chuckle. Others made me pause ever so briefly to think. It’s exactly that brand of self-effacing yet utterly winning that keeps me coming back to Billy Collins and his work through the years.

It’s exactly that brand of self-effacing yet utterly winning that keeps me coming back to Billy Collins and his work through the years.

While I can’t share the text of them here, not just yet anyway, I will tell you that my favorite poems from Collins’s newest collection are (in no particular order): “The Dead of Winter”, “Headstones”, “The Sociologist”, “Twisting Time”, “Eyes”, and “Orphans”.

Musical Tables: Poems by Billy Collins

Musical Tables: Poems is due to be released on November 15th, 2022 by Random House Publishing Group – Random House and is available to preorder wherever books are sold.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

All Aboard the ARC: We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds

***Note: I received a free digital review copy of this book from NetGalley and Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. I have not received compensation for the inclusion of any links for purchase found in this review or on any other page of The Voracious Bibliophile which mentions We Deserve Monuments, its author, or its publisher.***

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Review

You know who really deserves a monument? Jas Hammonds, for writing such a breathtaking, heart-stopping, rip-out-your-soul-and-stitch-it-back-together-into-a-magnificent-tapestry gem of a book. I have been struggling for something like a month now to write a review that would do this book justice and you know what? It’s just not possible. So I want you to take me at my word when I tell you that We Deserve Monuments is *the* book you have to read when it comes out later this year. Actually, go ahead and preorder it right now. I’ve already got my copy pre-ordered. It is a testament to Queer Black girls everywhere and a shining example of how love can bring people together, how it can heal the deepest of wounds even when the odds are stacked against them. Rarely does a book contain near-equal doses of mystery, romance, and adventure, but Jas Hammonds understood the assignment and got the mix just right.

Rarely does a book contain near-equal doses of mystery, romance, and adventure, but Jas Hammonds understood the assignment and got the mix just right.

Avery Anderson has a plan. That plan involves staying focused on her studies and getting in and out of her mother’s hometown of Bardell, Georgia as fast as she can. Her plan is to get into Georgetown and study astronomy like her mother, Zora. Moving from Washington, D.C. to Podunk MAGA country at the beginning of her senior year was not in the plan at all, but when her mom receives a letter from her old friend and neighbor Carole that reveals her Mama Letty is dying, the whole Anderson family uproots their lives to go and care for her in her last months.

Avery knows very little about her Mama Letty, especially since her mother never talks about her. Their first meeting doesn’t go very well. When Mama Letty nicknames her Fish after spotting her lip ring and questions whether or not she’s a lesbian now, Avery is ready to run not walk back to D.C. Mama Letty is cantankerous, gruff, and has her walls up so high not even Jericho could compare. How is Avery supposed to get to know someone who won’t even talk to her other than in grunts and monosyllables?

At the same time, Avery was hoping for a break from her old friends Kelsi and Hikari, but she didn’t envision the break being so permanent. Ever since her breakup with Kelsi, fueled by Kelsi’s racist micro-aggressions about Avery being “barely Black” (she’s biracial), things haven’t been the same. Now that she’s in Bardell, D.C. feels like a completely different galaxy. The rules are different. The scenery is different. The people are different. Who will Avery become if she lets all of it in—and who will she become if she doesn’t? The move throws Kelsi and Hikari’s lives into stark contrast compared to her own and there’s nothing that can be said or done to remedy that. And why should she even try to remedy it when they scoffed at her lip ring? When they begged her not to shave her head? When they minimized and tried to erase her Blackness from the equation of her identity? What’s the point of being friends with people who don’t want you to be the most authentic version of yourself possible?

Who will Avery become if she lets all of it in—and who will she become if she doesn’t?

It doesn’t help that something is rotten in the state of Georgia on Sweetness Lane. There’s something that’s being kept from Avery by Zora and Mama Letty, something they don’t talk about but which fuels their arguments and resentments. Avery has vague flashbacks back to when she was little. She can see things being thrown and hear raised voices. She can remember the dissonance of the family fighting while they were supposed to be celebrating Christmas. But neither Zora nor Mama Letty wants to talk about it. No one wants to rip off the bandaid so the wound can heal.

And then there’s Simone, Carole’s daughter. Simone stirs longings in Avery from the first time they meet, but they’re not in Washington, D.C. They’re in Bardell, Georgia, where anti-Black racism and homophobia are alive and well. Thriving, even. Should Avery act on her feelings or tamp them down? Catching feelings for someone new was not part of the plan, but Avery soon discovers that life cares little for our plans.

Catching feelings for someone new was not part of the plan, but Avery soon discovers that life cares little for our plans.

Avery befriends Simone and Simone’s friend Jade. She’s quickly initiated into their friend group and made a part of their rituals. She learns what real friendship looks like, the kind where you don’t have to separate the different parts of yourself out like straining something through a sieve. She also learns that there are weird connections between her family and Jade’s family, who are rich and white and own The Draper Hotel and Spa. In fact, everything in Bardell seems oddly connected to different parts of Avery’s family and their history. Learning hard truths forces Avery to accept that nothing is what it appears to be on the surface and that everyone has something to hide. Will the truths she learns help to heal the fractures in her family, or will Mama Letty die without things being set right? I lost all of my fingernails racing through the pages to find out.

Will the truths she learns help to heal the fractures in her family, or will Mama Letty die without things being set right? I lost all of my fingernails racing through the pages to find out.

It’s so hard for me not to give up too many of the plot details but I just want you to know that I will be talking about this book until it comes out and harassing everyone I know to read it when it finally does.

We Deserve Monuments is due to be released by Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group on November 29th, 2022 and is now available to preorder wherever books are sold.

We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

All Aboard the ARC: HBR Guide to Crafting Your Purpose by John Coleman

HBR Guide to Crafting Your Purpose by John Coleman

***Note: I received a free digital review copy of this book from NetGalley and Harvard Business Review Press in exchange for an honest review. I have not received compensation for the inclusion of any links for purchase found in this review or on any other page of The Voracious Bibliophile which mentions the HRB Guide to Crafting Your Purpose, its author, or its publisher.***

If I’m being honest, I approach most self-help and/or personal growth books with a healthy dose of skepticism. It’s not that I’m a Negative Ned or a Pessimistic Paul, per se. It’s just that the market is so saturated with hundreds (probably thousands) of these titles that contain basically identical content that I can’t help but roll my eyes whenever I see a new one hit the shelves. Even the anti-self-help, cool, trendy, swear word-laden titles have started to reach critical mass. At first it was cool to read these because you could be like, “Look at me! I’m bettering myself but in a cool hipster way. F$&$ yeah!”

Even the anti-self-help, cool, trendy, swear word-laden titles have started to reach critical mass.

Even worse than the typical fare one finds in the Personal Growth section of bookstores are the ones that purport to help you find your true purpose in life. Purpose. Such a heavy word. Just listen to anyone who’s achieved a modicum of success in any given field and they’ll tell you all about how they found their true purpose in life. For the rest of us, these people serve as shining examples of our own glaring mediocrity. If only we could find our purpose, maybe we too could enjoy the level of personal and professional fulfillment that these people have.

Just listen to anyone who’s achieved a modicum of success in any given field and they’ll tell you all about how they found their true purpose in life.

The truth, however, is a little more complex than that. I recently got the opportunity to read and review the HBR Guide to Crafting Your Purpose by John Coleman, published by Harvard Business Review Press. In it, he managed to dismantle some of the skepticism I’ve accumulated over the years through the careful analysis of his own research, plenty of evidence from other reputable sources to back it up, and more than a few real-life examples to provide illustrations for the concepts he lays out in his book. All in all, I was impressed.

Coleman begins his book by discussing the “crisis of meaning” modern society is currently experiencing. Many (if not most) people go to work simply to earn a paycheck. They find no meaning in the work they perform and their days are filled with drudgery and the overwhelming sense that nothing they do matters or provides value. Because of the proliferation of information technologies which allows them to be accessible at all times, they also have no work-life balance. When life is all work and no play, misery quickly ensues.

When life is all work and no play, misery quickly ensues.

One of Coleman’s main assertions throughout his book is that purpose is not something inherent or static. It is fluid and malleable. More than anything, it is something that can be crafted by each individual to provide meaning and happiness in each area of one’s life. It is not always something that one finds, but rather something that can be designed to fit the needs and desires of each individual based on their backgrounds and values.

More than anything, it [purpose] is something that can be crafted by each individual to provide meaning and happiness in each area of one’s life.

Another thing I liked about Coleman’s book are the numerous exercises he included to allow the reader the chance and space to put to work the concepts which he discusses. Whether someone is fresh out of high school or college or already somewhat (or even mostly) established in their chosen career field, I can’t think of anyone that wouldn’t benefit from Coleman’s wisdom.

Whether someone is fresh out of high school or college or already somewhat (or even mostly) established in their chosen career field, I can’t think of anyone that wouldn’t benefit from Coleman’s wisdom.

The HBR Guide to Crafting Your Purpose was released by Harvard Business Review Press on January 11th, 2022 and is available to purchase wherever books are sold.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

All Aboard the ARC: unlock your storybook heart by Amanda Lovelace

unlock your storybook heart by Amanda Lovelace

***Note: I received a free digital review copy of this book from NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing in exchange for an honest review. I have not received compensation for the inclusion of any links for purchase found in this review or on any other page of The Voracious Bibliophile which mentions unlock your storybook heart, its author, or its publisher.***

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Review

Reading a book by Amanda Lovelace is kind of like settling in for a nice heartfelt chat with a friend that you’ve not gotten to talk to in a long time.

Reading a book by Amanda Lovelace is kind of like settling in for a nice heartfelt chat with a friend that you’ve not gotten to talk to in a long time. There’s familiarity, kinship, and the kind of confessions you can only make when you know someone truly and deeply. When I first found out I had been approved to read a galley of unlock your storybook heart, which is the third and final book in Lovelace’s you are your own fairy tale series, I immediately texted a friend who also loves her work and intentionally filled them with jealousy. Evil? Perhaps, but it was worth it.

You’re already the prize you’ve won.

I enjoyed every page of this collection. Its truths bear repeating and Lovelace expands upon her themes with each successive page. Throughout this collection, and indeed throughout all of Lovelace’s work, we see that the most profound truths and the best practices for living one’s life to the fullest are not complex at all. All you really need to do is let go, trust your inner voice, and chart your own path. It’s nice to have a partner to share that journey with, but as Lovelace often shares, you only need yourself. You’re already the prize you’ve won. You don’t need a charming prince in a fortified castle or a knight in shining armor. You can slay the dragon yourself and ride off into the sunset as your own hero and that’s perfectly okay.

You can slay the dragon yourself and ride off into the sunset as your own hero and that’s perfectly okay.

unlock your storybook heart will be released by Andrews McMeel Publishing on March 15th, 2022 and is now available to preorder wherever books are sold.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

All Aboard the ARC: Broken Halves of a Milky Sun: Poems by Aaiún Nin

Broken Halves of a Milky Sun: Poems by Aaiún Nin

***Note: I received a free digital review copy of this book from NetGalley and Astra House in exchange for an honest review. I have not received compensation for the inclusion of any links for purchase found in this review or on any other page of The Voracious Bibliophile which mentions Broken Halves of a Milky Sun: Poems, its creator, or its publisher.***

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Review

Theirs is a fiercely political poetics which centers the Black Queer experience and names the many violences committed by Western governments in the name of Christianity, “progress”, and the status quo.

In their daring and evocative debut, Aaiún Nin leaves absolutely nothing left unsaid. Theirs is a fiercely political poetics which centers the Black Queer experience and names the many violences committed by Western governments in the name of Christianity, “progress”, and the status quo. Where other writers would dance on the line between truthful testimony and placating respectability, most likely due to a reflexive need for self-preservation, Nin forges a path of their own through a tangled web of desire, trauma, history, and their personal immigrant experience—in their case, one that has been rife with racism, homophobia, and other intersecting axes of oppression.

What Nin refuses to do in Broken Halves of a Milky Sun is cater to an audience that would never listen to them anyway, at least not in any substantive or constructive way. In fact, they anticipate the not all men and not all white people responses and throw it back in the faces of their would-be detractors. This is not a space for the oppressors to have a say. Sit down. They are not accepting questions or comments at this time.

So moved was I by the poems in this collection that when I made it to the end, breathless and aching, only one response would suffice: Amen.

Broken Halves of a Milky Sun: Poems was published by Astra House on February 1st, 2022 and is available to purchase wherever books are sold.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

All Aboard the ARC: The Moonflower Monologues (Revised and Expanded) by Tess Guinery

The Moonflower Monologues (Revised and Expanded) by Tess Guinery

***Note: I received a free digital review copy of this book from NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing in exchange for an honest review. I have not received compensation for the inclusion of any links for purchase found in this review or on any other page of The Voracious Bibliophile which mentions The Moonflower Monologues, its creator, or its publisher.***

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Review

Before reading Tess Guinery’s newest collection The Moonflower Monologues, I didn’t know anything about night flowers. I didn’t know that there were even such flora in existence. These nocturnal beauties, these children of the moon, bloom only under the cover of night, illuminated by nought but pale slivers of moonlight. Because they bloom only at night, they cannot be pollinated by the usual insects. Bats and moths, then, being nocturnal creatures themselves, are primarily responsible for pollinating these fragrance-heavy flowers. These flowers, as you can see, easily lend themselves to metaphor.

These nocturnal beauties, these children of the moon, bloom only under the cover of night, illuminated by nought but pale slivers of moonlight.

In The Moonflower Monologues, Tess Guinery illuminates for us a simple but complex truth: It is only in our darkest moments that we see what we are truly capable of, that we become who we were meant to be. Truthfully, we can only become the best version of ourselves after having been through the kind of reflection and introspection that she details in her book. I must admit, I read this collection through one of the darkest periods of my life. Having survived COVID-19 and been forced to live with my own limitations after the fact, I really needed something bright and beautiful to pull me out of my malaise. I needed, as one of my favorite authors Cheryl Strayed has said before, to be put in the way of beauty.

It is only in our darkest moments that we see what we are truly capable of, that we become who we were meant to be.

Part of putting yourself in the way of beauty more often than not requires getting out of your own head and admiring the wonder of creation around you. It requires you to do the deep and laborious work of excavation, to get at the truth of the wonder of life. What is that truth? For me, and I’m sure for Tess Guinery as well, it’s love.

What is that truth? For me, and I’m sure for Tess Guinery as well, it’s love.

The Moonflower Monologues was published by Andrews McMeel Publishing on January 4th, 2022 and is now available to purchase wherever books are sold. This collection is perfect for fans of Rupi Kaur, Amanda Lovelace, and Lang Leav.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

All Aboard the ARC: On Tyranny Graphic Edition: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy D. Snyder (Author) and Nora Krug (Illustrator)

On Tyranny Graphic Edition: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy D. Snyder (Author) and Nora Krug (Illustrator)

***Note: I received a free digital review copy of this book from NetGalley and Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed Press in exchange for an honest review. I have not received compensation for the inclusion of any links found in this review or on any other page of The Voracious Bibliophile which mentions On Tyranny Graphic Edition: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, its creators, or its publisher.***

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Review

When On Tyranny first came out in 2017…I called it the “most powerful and timely book we’ve got right now,” and I stand by that assessment.

When On Tyranny first came out in 2017, I remember reading it in my bathtub, absolutely riveted and completely terrified. I remained that way, completely terrified that is, through the remainder of Trump’s presidency up until the present day. In the short review I posted on Goodreads at the time, I called it the “most powerful and timely book we’ve got right now,” and I stand by that assessment. In it, Snyder presented us with a model of political rectitude, elucidating the present by drawing parallels from the past in the hope that we might steer ourselves toward a more just and equitable future.

Democracy does not offer roadside assistance.

To return to my terror, I suppose Snyder himself would say that an alert citizen is a good citizen, but only if that citizen is proactive rather than reactive. Like most forms of social good, democracy does not self-correct when it encounters flaws in the mechanism. The people in charge of its maintenance, which is all of us, have to pull over on the side of the road, lift up the hood, and put in a little elbow grease to fix it. To further labor the metaphor: Democracy does not offer roadside assistance.

To lessen our chances of breaking down in the first place, however, it’s important to practice good citizenship at all times, not just in times of crisis. We should advocate for the causes important to us all the time, not just during an election year. We should lobby our legislators to pass laws that strengthen our democracy, that protect human rights. We should make calls, donate when and where we can, and show up to participate with our bodies every chance we get.

I have done my best to be a proactive citizen and I’d like to think that my efforts helped us to avoid another four years of Trump, at least for the moment. I’m holding my breath thinking that putrid orange tyrant will try to run again in the next presidential election. If he does, and heaven forbid, wins, God have mercy on us all.

On my not-so-good days, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think we were doomed beyond saving, but I don’t like to back down from a fight. It’s not good for your digestion.

The good news is I’m not that much of a cynic yet. On my not-so-good days, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think we were doomed beyond saving, but I don’t like to back down from a fight. It’s not good for your digestion. Actually, I’m not sure what pugnacity does for your digestion, but I’ve always found it winsome to follow the revealing of a questionable character trait with something ameliorative to make myself more palatable.

Timothy Snyder is not only a historian of the highest echelon, but a prescient prognosticator of our possible political futures.

I was so excited when I found out that a graphic edition of Snyder’s book was being released and having now read it, I can assuredly say it did not disappoint. Timothy Snyder is not only a historian of the highest echelon, but a prescient prognosticator of our possible political futures. I intentionally used futures, plural, because our course is not set. We the people, the body politic, are the cartographers drawing the map toward our future. What the future looks like is based on the collective decisions we make today to either defend or neglect democracy. Don’t let’s make it easy for the tyrants, orange or otherwise.

We the people, the body politic, are the cartographers drawing the map toward our future. What the future looks like is based on the collective decisions we make today to either defend or neglect democracy.

Nora Krug’s illustrations are sometimes macabre and at other times breathtakingly beautiful, and sometimes they are both in equal measure. All of her illustrations are elegant in their simplicity and deftly executed on the page. Her inclusion of historical photographs, many of which were found in photo albums and other ephemera at flea markets and antique shops, add depth and pictorial veracity to Snyder’s narrative of the history of tyranny in the twentieth century.

Nora Krug’s illustrations are sometimes macabre and at other times breathtakingly beautiful, and sometimes they are both in equal measure.

Although a review is not and should not necessarily be a summary of a work, I’d like to include here the twenty lessons Snyder gives in his book, if for no other reason than to pique the interest of would-be readers.

Snyder’s Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

  1. Do not obey in advance.
  2. Defend institutions.
  3. Beware the one-party state.
  4. Take responsibility for the face of the world.
  5. Remember professional ethics.
  6. Be wary of paramilitaries.
  7. Be reflective if you must be armed.
  8. Stand out.
  9. Be kind to our language.
  10. Believe in truth.
  11. Investigate.
  12. Make eye contact and small talk.
  13. Practice corporeal politics.
  14. Establish a private life.
  15. Contribute to good causes.
  16. Learn from peers in other countries.
  17. Listen for dangerous words.
  18. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives.
  19. Be a patriot.
  20. Be as courageous as you can.

© 2017, 2021 Timothy Snyder. All rights reserved.

On Tyranny Graphic Edition: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century was released by Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed Press on October 5th, 2021 and is available to purchase wherever books are sold.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

All Aboard the ARC: Blossom and Bud by Frank J. Sileo (Author) and Brittany E. Lakin (Illustrator)

Blossom and Bud by Frank J. Sileo (Author) and Brittany E. Lakin (Illustrator)

***Note: I received a free digital review copy of this book from NetGalley and Magination Press, the children’s book imprint of the American Psychological Association, in exchange for an honest review. I have not received compensation for the inclusion of any links found in this review or on any other page of The Voracious Bibliophile which mentions Blossom and Bud, its creators, or its publisher.***

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Review

Mr. Baxter’s flower shop is full of gorgeous flowers of every imaginable shape, length, and hue, giving Blossom and Bud plenty of opportunities for negative self-comparison.

Blossom and Bud begins in Mr. Baxter’s flower shop. Blossom is a long-stemmed sunflower ashamed of her height and Bud is just that—a bud—who hasn’t blossomed yet and feels self-conscious about it. Mr. Baxter’s flower shop is full of gorgeous flowers of every imaginable shape, length, and hue, giving Blossom and Bud plenty of opportunities for negative self-comparison. The other flowers, which remind one of the Technicolor hecklers in Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, tease the two about their insecurities relentlessly.

What Blossom and Bud learn is that everyone, no matter their size or composition, has a place and a purpose unique to them and them alone.

At the end of the long day, Mr. Baxter goes home to rest up for what will be a big project starting the next morning. What our heroes don’t realize is that they will be central to this project. Mr. Baxter arrives in a joyful mood of rapturous anticipation, for a wedding is afoot! He pulls out a list of different flowers he needs, and there are two in particular that are especially important. He needs a long-stemmed flower to be the center of the bride’s bouquet and a bud (our Bud) to be the groom’s boutonnière. What Blossom and Bud learn is that everyone, no matter their size or composition, has a place and a purpose unique to them and them alone.

Dr. Sileo’s lovely tale, beautifully illustrated by Brittany E. Lakin, is sure to delight and inspire children of all ages to accept themselves for who and what they are, and to celebrate their differences with pride.

Blossom and Bud was released by Magination Press, the children’s book imprint of the American Psychological Association, on April 13th, 2021 and is available to purchase wherever books are sold.

Dr. Frank J. Sileo, PhD, is the Founder and Executive Director of The Center for Psychological Enhancement, LLC in Ridgewood, New Jersey. In addition to Blossom and Bud, Dr. Sileo is the author of twelve other books, eleven of which are children’s picture books exploring topics related to children’s growth and development. You can read more about him and his work on his website.

Brittany E. Lakin is an award-winning children’s illustrator based in the United Kingdom. She is represented by Plum Pudding Illustration and has done work for Firefly Press, Magination Press, and Worthy Kids, among others. You can read more about her and her work on her website.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

All Aboard the ARC: Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall (Author) and Lisa Sterle (Illustrator)

Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall (Author) and Lisa Sterle (Illustrator)

***Note: I received a free digital review copy of this book from NetGalley and Greenwillow Books in exchange for an honest review. I have not received compensation for the inclusion of any links found in this review or on any other page of The Voracious Bibliophile which mentions Squad, its creators, or its publisher.***

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Short Blurb: Maggie Tokuda-Hall takes everything you think you know about werewolves and their lore and gives it a feminist (and sapphic) bent. The result is a graphic novel that’s just a lot of fun to read (and talk about with your squad—no incels allowed, unless of course they’re on the menu).

Review

Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s Squad is a perfect blend of horror, suspense, and believe it or not, romance. It’s sort of like if Mean Girls had a baby with Teen Wolf that grew up to be super freaking gay and not a little sarcastic. Combine that with Lisa Sterle’s vibrant art style reminiscent of the best of the Archie Comics and what you have is a delightful romp just ripe for adaptation. Does anyone have Netflix’s number?

It’s [Squad] sort of like if Mean Girls had a baby with Teen Wolf that grew up to be super freaking gay and not a little sarcastic.

It all starts when Becca moves with her mom from LA to Piedmont in her junior year of high school. Becca has always wanted to fit in, so when a clique of popular girls takes her in, she feels like she has a place for the first time in her life. It turns out though that Becca’s new squad is less of a clique and more of a pack. Of werewolves, that is, with bites far worse than their barks. These werewolves don’t hunt the innocent, though. Their prey are the predators. Sleazy boys oozing generational wealth and privilege who take advantage of girls at parties. Boys who know history and the law is on their side telling them they’ll get away with it because most of the time they do.

Their prey are the predators.

Becca discovers her friends’ secret at a party outside underneath a full moon. A skinny incel named Bart O’Kavanaugh (Tokuda-Hall’s character naming is very tongue in cheek) gets Becca away from the larger group and tries to assault her. Their exchange really is rape culture in a nutshell:

Bart: You’re hella pretty.

Becca: Okay.

Bart moves in to kiss her and Becca squirms away from him.

Bart: Don’t make it weird.

Becca: Don’t make it rapey.

Bart: Why’d you even come with me then?

Becca: Boredom? I don’t know why I even believed you when you said you were gonna show me something cool.

Bart: Yeah, my dick!

Becca tries to turn away from him.

Becca: Let’s go back to the party.

Bart puts his hand on Becca’s shoulder.

Bart: I can tell you want it.

Becca turns again, trying to dislodge his hand off her shoulder, and Bart violently grabs her by the arm while she tries to free herself. She smacks him in the face, tearing up.

Becca: Let me go, dude!

Bart grabs Becca once again and tears are streaming down her face.

Bart: Jesus, don’t be such a bitch!

There’s a rustling nearby. Suddenly Arianna, Marley, and Mandy step into view.

Marley: You know, you gotta be careful around bitches.

The three girls start transforming into wolves, growing fangs, claws, and fur, tongues lolling in anticipation.

Marley: We roll in packs.

You know, you gotta be careful around bitches. We roll in packs.

If that scene isn’t the most patriarchy-toppling in any piece of media ever, I don’t know what is. There’s something extremely satisfying about seeing boys with names like O’Kavanaugh and Weinstein get eaten by girls-turned-werewolves. After they rescue her from Bart, Becca joins the girls’ pack and has to learn to cope with this new aspect of her identity and all it encompasses. Along with being a newly-turned werewolf, Becca also has another secret to keep that’s gurgling just beneath the surface. When you’re young, or any age, really, having to hide part of yourself to stay safe does damage that takes a long time to heal. Sometimes it doesn’t. That’s true for gay people, women, and werewolves.

When you’re young, or any age, really, having to hide part of yourself to stay safe does damage that takes a long time to heal. Sometimes it doesn’t. That’s true for gay people, women, and werewolves.

Fear not, though, dear readers—Squad doesn’t disappoint and isn’t a tragedy by any stretch of the imagination. In this hybrid horror-romance story, the girls get mad, the boys get eaten, and love triumphs over all. And if only for a moment, everyone who’s ever had to say #MeToo feels just a little bit better.

Squad was released by Greenwillow Books on October 5th, 2021 and is available to purchase wherever books are sold.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.