The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton. Kate Beaton is much loved for her comedic take on history through the webcomic Hark! A Vagrant., and she brings the same irreverent adorableness to her first picture book. Princess Pinecone is a tiny girl in a land of large warriors, and when she asks for a warhorse for her birthday, well meaning parents get her...a pony. A fat little pony. A cuddly pony that Princess Pinecone will do her best to turn into a horse worthy of helping her win a Great Battle.
Sometimes great warriors need cuddling too.
Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming. Alan Cumming is perhaps the actor who most embodies the “dramedy”. Known for embracing the ridiculous and plucking the occasional heartstring, he is not someone the average person would point out as having the sort of childhood he did. An excellent actor, he hid it well, even from himself for a long time. In Not My Father’s Son, Cumming takes the reader on a parallel exploration of memories from his childhood in rural Scotland and the discoveries made during the television program Who Do You Think You Are? The dual journeys rocked me to my core. Touching on the difficulties of forgiveness, the early training in putting on a face familiar to anyone well versed in hiding from a young age, and legacies left in the most unexpected of places, Alan Cumming’s memoir feels like a balm for a wound left to fester long enough, you forgot you even had it.
The Soul of an Ocotopus by Sy Montgomery. I cannot recall a time when I was not fascinated by cephalopods (of which the octopus is my most beloved). Naturally, when I saw Sy Montgomery’s book on the subject, I could not get it in my hands fast enough. Told in true interactions between researcher and subjects, the first thing anyone must know about octopuses (and yes, it is octopuses not octopi) is that they are smart. Incredibly so. In a work that feels almost more science fiction than reality, Montgomery explores the unique personalities of each octopus encountered in a way that feels more like a novel about love and family than any animal. Perhaps it is.
Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood. A Cinderella story like no other, Cinderella dreams of fixing rocket ships, but is kept down by her stepmother and sisters and relegated to fixing zoombrooms and robot dishwashers. When her fairy god-robot comes to give her tools so she can go to the prince’s ball, Cinderella uses her trusty socket wrench to fix his ship too! Can he find the girl who can fix any spaceship? Or will Cinderella be trapped in an attic like spare parts?
The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brother's Grimm: The Complete First Edition translated and edited by Jack Zipes. What makes Jack Zipe’s edition of the Grimm folk tales so important is that it is the first English translation of the original First Edition of the tales. The folk tales most English speakers heard were the latest forms they took, and any quick comparison between those and the versions in Zipe’s edition throw the dramatic changes they underwent into sharp relief. Some as different from the last edition as the last edition is from a Disney movie, this book is a must for any lover of fairy and folk tales. Andrea Dezso’s illustrations only add to the surreal feeling of reading a book you feel you know the bones of and encountering so much that is painfully different.
Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone. Set in the same world as his other novels in the Craft Sequence (Two Serpents Rise and Three Parts Dead), Full Fathom Five manages to pull together the Aztec inspired fantasy world into a coherent narrative. The plot centers on Kai, a craftswoman who creates idols to be worshipped and profited from. When she is declared unstable by those around her, Kai is launched into the path of a conspiracy surrounding all she has dedicated her life to. Gladstone’s world building shines in this book, managing a convincing take on the reality of everyday magic, resulting in a world as complex and varied as our own.
Mem, by Bethany C. Morrow, is a breath of fresh air. In fewer than 200 pages, Morrow builds a complete story world just left of the 1920s where memories can be removed and housed in semi-living reflections of the original until those reflections eventually fade away. The main character is a reflection, or MEM, who can make memories of her own. Morrow makes the bold choice to set the events of MEM 19 years after Dolores Extract #1 first came into being, allowing the reader to jump right into a life rather than being bogged down in the novelty of Dolores Extract #1’s creation. Skillfully extracting emotion, tragedy, and questions about what it means to live rather than just be alive, Morrow’s science fiction debut is a promise of great things to come.