#Bountygate

Well. 2020 is shaping up *nicely*, wouldn’t you say? And by “nicely”, I mean it’s this:

And every. single. time I think it can’t get worse? It does. But the latest thing, well…I don’t know that *anyone* saw this coming. Let’s chat about Mango Mussolini (MM) and #bountygate, shall we?

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/04/09/pentagon-ids-3-reserve-marines-killed-ied-attack-afghanistan.html

I served. My husband did 25 and retired. We have friends and family from all the branches spread out all over the place. BUT EVEN WITHOUT ALL THAT – the idea, the *possibility* another country would offer literal BOUNTIES for the lives of American and allied troops is (or SHOULD BE) abhorrent. Sickening. Wrong at the highest levels. That this administration has apparently known about this since *2019* is something I’m literally having trouble wrapping my brain around. Why? Because in the meantime, MM and Putin have chatted on the phone like besties, the Taliban (the actual killers in this insanity) were invited to Camp David, Putin was invited by MM back into G8…AND NOTHING WAS DONE ABOUT OUR PEOPLE. Not even a sternly worded tweet.

The excuse that he didn’t know isn’t gonna wash. Either he knew and decided he’d once again go with his BFF’s word over our (and our allies’!) intelligence agencies, *or* he’s such a fool that they were afraid to tell him.

People. I shouldn’t have to say this, but – NEITHER OF THOSE OPTIONS IS GOOD. And the sickening part, to me, is that there were some bounties collected. At last count – that I know of – at least three. Three Marines whose families will never have their sons, their brothers, their husbands, their daddies come home again. Three Marines who signed on the line to risk their lives, but NOT to be PURCHASED LIKE MEAT.

And the GOP? They’ve enabled this. Every step of the way.

Look. The long and short of it is this – if you’re a veteran, or active duty, or have family that are, and you’re still supporting MM after this? You really need to evaluate why. What is that support getting you? Because cheering on another country that is literally paying to kill your people is…sickening. Un-American. Disloyal. Possibly even traitorous. And THAT shouldn’t need to be said, either.

And yet. Here we are.

It’s my B-B-B-BIRTHDAY. Almost.

Miss Addie & Nyx

Good morning! So those two yahoos up above? They are the two dogs I’m currently fostering for an organization called Northwest Battle Buddies (NWBB). By now, we’ve *all* heard the statistic: 22 veterans PER DAY end their lives. PER DAY, PEOPLE. These are folks suffering from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), and not seeing any other way out of their pain but to end their lives. It’s horrifying that this number is as high as it is, though ANY number other than ZERO is too high. Here’s where NWBB comes in.

Nyx likes bean bags. On couches.

This amazing group, led by a multiple award-winning dog trainer, trains service dogs for veterans with PTSD. The veterans DO NOT pay for their dogs. The org covers the costs, fueled by donations and fundraisers. These pups get more training than *any other* PTSD service dog program, culminating in a 6 week training session with their new partners.

Addie gets herself…stuck. Again.

Here’s where YOU come in. I’m doing a fundraiser on Facebook (don’t @ me, please) for my birthday – and you can donate! When COVID showed up, all training had to stop, and you can imagine the pain this has caused all of us involved. Donations have slowed as well, making their job just that much more difficult. And here’s the thing:
Some of these veterans, that get these dogs? They may have barely left their house FOR YEARS. These dogs give them a freedom that they can barely remember, and a HOPE that they’ve long been denied. These brave folks helped to ensure *we* have our freedom, so now it’s OUR turn to help them have theirs. And YOU can directly take part.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE

Another donation option is their new drive, Operation Never Quit. $22 a month. $1 for each veteran who dies. Here’s the link:

https://www.northwestbattlebuddies.org/operation-never-quit/

For more information, I *highly* encourage you to visit their website and watch their 5-part Vision of Hope video series. Each video is short, but gives a great overview of their mission, and very powerfully shows how their mission is making a direct impact on the lives of struggling veterans.

https://www.northwestbattlebuddies.org/a-vision-of-hope/

My dear friend Phil, with his NWBB service dog Rimfire

Not everyone is suited for battle, but we can ALL make a difference in the life of someone who made the decision to write that blank check for their country.

And how can you deny THIS:

Happy Monday!

Well. It’s been…a while…hasn’t it? I have felt for quite some time like I was just in survival mode, and really struggling to read and to want to write. I’m *slowly* creeping out of that, though I firmly believe we’re DEFINITELY still in *crisis* mode. I’m reading a really great book, I’m facing the fact that I may never get my beloved job at Powell’s back, and…I’m feeling like functioning is something I can do again. πŸ˜‰

I honestly don’t know how creatives are functioning AT ALL right now. All I have to say to that is – KUDOS TO ALL OF YOU. Seriously. To the authors and the artists and the graphic designers and the songwriters…and to everyone else I didn’t name that relies on a creative outlet…I salute you. And I also *beg* you, please keep creating for the world. Because we all need you and the amazing journeys you can provide, like this squirrel needs to find a better spot to hide his nuts.

So having said all of that – I will absolutely try to be more regular in my posting. I haven’t read any books that have set my hair on fire (literally *or* figuratively) lately, though that may be changing…and it will probably continue to be a mix of book reviews, random thinky bits, some yelly bits…my regular. But for those of you who have stuck around, and for those of you who have reached out – thank you! And it’s off to the races we go…

Review: Deal with the Devil

https://bookshop.org/a/4814/9781250209368

So…I haven’t been much in the blogging mood. I know I’m not the only one that this quarantine is sitting heavily on. I haven’t been doing a ton of reading, either, for the same reason. BUT – I did reach for a book yesterday, one of the many in my stacks, hoping to find something I could enjoy for a little while. What I got instead was a book that kept me up until a little after 1am.

So, straight up – Kit Rocha’s books are not something in my typical reading list. I am NOT a romance fan. Period. The last romance I read, under duress from a co-worker, was one of the Honey Badger Shifter books by Shelly Laurenston. I will admit to highly enjoying that series, because there was very little actual canoodling and more snark and humor. But I couldn’t turn this one down – MERCENARY LIBRARIANS, PEOPLE.

This is definitely a dystopian read. It takes place in 2086, when everything has changed. There were the Flares, which did damage – severe, but recoverable. However, immediately following those came another threat – and the infrastructure of the U.S. was so weak, that much of civilization as we know it just…collapsed. This particular story takes place around the area of what used to be known as Atlanta, GA – a place where biotech and medical companies took over and basically own all essential services. Food, water, safety – they control it all, and they use hacked soldiers to do it.

Nina is an information broker – she steals the information, and gets paid for doing so. She’s also what passes for a librarian during a time when books have essentially all been destroyed. An ignorant populace is a controllable populace, and so every effort has been made to ferret out and get rid of anything related to books. She does her best, along with her team, to help those around her with the knowledge that she gains – even knowing she risks all their lives doing so. When she’s presented an opportunity to track down one of the fabled Rogue Libraries of Congress – a treasure trove of documents and books, hidden since the Flares – she’s thrown in with a group of AWOL “supersoldiers” with a hidden agenda. Let the games begin.

This is a fast-moving book. Once things kick in – and it doesn’t take long – it just *hauls*. There were a few times I looked up at the clock and thought, “Hm. I should go to bed.”. But I just couldn’t drag myself away from the book. At one point, it was about 11:15pm – the next time I looked up, as I was turning the last page, it was almost 1:30am. Which honestly was great for me, because again – having a hard time finding something that really captured my attention and let me think about something else for a while.

The setting, as I mentioned, the good USofA – though in a vastly different time and with very different circumstances. Having said that – there were times when I read something and recognized it as a possible future from where we are now. Frightening and instructive, all in one. Rocha did a great job really allowing the reader to get a feel for both the changes and the similarities, both in the city and out of it, which truly helped to feel more immersed when dealing with a time so far ahead of our own.

However, in all of that speed, Rocha did not neglect the characters. Nina and Knox – the leaders of their teams. One honest and idealistic, one convinced there’s nothing good left. These are our main characters, both struggling with demons they try to hide from their teams – and from each other. Both are fleshed out more and more as the book goes on, as well as the people around them. I was thankful by the end that this is a series, as I’m anxious to learn more about them all, and while Knox and Nina were central here, it didn’t feel like any of them got shortchanged.

Ok, so the story. Yep – there’s romancey bits. Yes, there’s sex. But honestly (and thankfully for me), none of it felt gratuitous or over the top. I wasn’t reading pages upon pages upon pages of mooning or innuendo or descriptions of body bits doing things with other body bits. Remember – I’m *not* a romance reader. In fact, when I mentioned to a co-worker that I had gotten this arc, I thought she was going to die laughing – she IS a romance reader and knows my tendency to shy away. I think to some degree, the action and adventure toned down the romance some? And the focus wasn’t the romance itself, but the story in which there happened to *be* some romance. If that makes sense? Anyway, there were unexpected twists, there is *definitely* more past to be revealed, and I’m pretty sure there’s a secret person doing hidden deeds in the background and possibly coordinating from a bigger picture than anyone knows? SO MANY POSSIBILITIES! Short version? The sequel will be an insta-buy next year when it’s released.

I’m really glad I focused on the “mercenary librarians” part and NOT the “romance”, because this was a fun, quick, entertaining read that really let me step out of my own brain for a while and enjoy someone else’s. And really – isn’t that what reading is all about? Living – and learning – vicariously, as we journey with someone else?

One last thing – I’m just going to throw this here as a small…clue…to the story. No spoilers, but it’ll make sense after you read the book. Which, by the way, is due out July 28th of this year – so add it to your TBR lists, peeps!

Thank you to Tor for the arc. And if you click on the link under the cover at the top to pre-order, it will take you to bookshop.org – a great way to support indie bookstores everywhere!

Review: Sixteenth Watch

Coast Guard in space. That’s *literally* all it took to get me excited about reading this. Full disclosure? I spent seven years in the Coast Guard, most of them as…well, first I was a Radioman, then they changed it to Telecommunications Specialist, and they were in the process of changing it yet AGAIN when I left. Basically? I was the one that was on the other end of the radio, answering mayday calls, and keeping comms with the small boats, the helos, and whoever else happened to be out there. I was that voice that let everyone know they’d be ok, and made sure my crews had what they needed. But, it didn’t end there – when I got out, I got married to a Boatswain’s Mate, who eventually retired as a Chief. So…what I’m saying is…I have a perspective on the Coast Guard that many of the novel’s readers may not. Most people are labeling Sixteenth Watch as military sci-fi. And, well – they’re not wrong. But for me, while reading it, it was simply exactly what got me hooked – Coast Guard in space.

Sixteenth Watch is also, at its heart, what the Coast Guard is – about its people. The stories, the people, the adrenaline, and the job. Here, we have Capt. Jane Oliver, who suffered a horrific tragedy and is just biding her time until retirement. However, in the age of space, the Coast Guard’s natural mission is being taken over by the Navy, with disastrous results. Jane ends up heading a team destined to try and win the latest and greatest reality show, Boarding Action, in the hopes that their position will be reevaluated. Jane is flawed, but absolutely human. She is that rarest of CO’s – one who trusts in, and believes in, her people. She’s also still haunted by her tragedy, and that comes into play as well.

But it’s not just about Jane – Myke Cole does an *exemplary* job conveying the TEAM that is at the heart of the Coast Guard. Jane’s XO, and the sailors she is training, are more than just words on a page. They are as human as any characters I’ve read, and as the reader goes through the book, the highs will have them cheering and the lows will have them gasping.

Having said all of that – what really had me going in this story is that, as a former Coastie whose life was tied to the Guard in one way or another for almost 20 years? I *felt* that action. I lived it along with the characters on the page. Sure, they’re in space, so some details are necessarily different. But the overall pieces? The search-and-rescue, and the boarding teams? The communication and the nitty gritty? IT’S THE SAME. I did some boardings before I went to school while stationed in Florida – and that tense build-up, waiting to see if the ship you were hailing is going to follow instructions? Nailed it. And even *after* I went to school, I promise you this – the one on the radio is just as tense in the station as those on the boat. Because if shit goes sideways, it’ll be the radioman calling for more units to assist – or ambulances to meet at the dock. Cole really took his Coast Guard experience and was able to capture the feels, and the emotions, and the teamwork that ENCAPSULATES the Guard and its mission to the core.

Not only that, but to be honest? Cole captures the competition between the services as well. It’s no secret among the military that Navy and Coast Guard compete. Generally the Marines like the Coasties – but much of the Navy has little use for us, and vice versa. There’s A LOT I could go into on *that* subject, but…suffice to say that there is no shortage of inter-agency rivalry going on here. Definitely ratchets up the investment in the action.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, honestly, though I hoped it would just be a good read. It was far better than I hoped, and now my hope is that it will give others who read it a better idea (or even *some* idea) of what the Coast Guard is about. Far too many people are unaware of just how broad their mission is, and this seems like an excellent way to help bring awareness in a fun and engrossing way. It’s a fast-paced read, and anyone simply looking for basic military sci-fi will certainly get that here. But anyone who has any background in the Guard will feel right at home – even on the moon.

#FeelGoodFriday

Another week in paradise, right? And by paradise, I mean weird snows in April, desperate people cutting their own hair (or, in my case, cutting my daughter’s), and finding SOMETHING to cook for the 13,000th meal in quarantine. So, that brings us to our weekly update of *actual* good things – stories that make us smile, or laugh, or giggle, or maybe even tear up a little bit. Truly happy things, because we all need that right now – maybe even more than ever. So…here we go!

First up, straight up “awwwww” power. Because WHO DOES NOT WANT TO BE THIS LITTLE MAN RIGHT NOW?! Dogs – animals in general – can be the best comforts around, and this little boy *knows* this.

Amidst all the talk about illness and death – it’s easy to forget that some of those who are very, very ill DO survive. Those patients mean *a lot* to the hospital workers who have helped care for them – I’m certain it’s got to be emotionally and mentally draining to have people dying left and right. So when a patient survives, and is actually well enough to be discharged? It seems a party is in order!

What needs to be said about this, other than ALL THE FEELS. This gentleman, in his suit and flip-flops, is a DAD. His daughter will remember this moment for the rest of her life – while many of us barely remember the *actual* prom, she will always have this memory. And she will NEVER doubt that she is loved.

And to close us off today, what was it Mr. Rogers said? Look for the helpers? Here’s a great story about one of those very people – a man who never went out of his way to be a helper before, but has stepped up now. Even better? He’s planning on continuing when all of this is over.

It can be hard to see the good through the ever-present cycle of bad news, but that just means we have to try a little harder. I hope that at least one of these strikes a chord with you, because we all need that little extra bounce of joy. And remember – be kind to others, but also be kind to *yourself*.

Re-Evaluate The Connection

It’s day 1,634 of quarantine, and people are getting tired. You have folks like the wannabe Walking Dead in Michigan, protesting the governor’s attempts to keep them safe. You have folks that are trying to do their job, and can’t because said Walking Dead *were blocking the hospital*. This gentleman was not exactly eloquent, but I ABSOLUTELY appreciate his passion:

You have folks who have lost friends and loved ones to COVID-19, and truly understand the toll it takes, knowing those people died very sick and all alone. You have folks like my family – *extremely* lucky to live in a state that was reasonably proactive, and who – to the best of our knowledge – do not know anyone who has been ill or died from this virus.

But through it all, we have people trying to work from home. People who typically work in an office setting, where they can hold regular meetings, and where the internet connections are generally SUPER reliable. Folks who assumed that their home connections were “just fine”. And, reader – they may have been, Before COVID-19. But now? We’re seeing just how NOT fine they really are.

I’d love someone to do a thorough polling or study of how many people who are trying to hold Zoom meetings have struggled with it dropping or slowing down to the point of ridiculousness. How many people who are working on something and suddenly notice their internet has…disappeared. AGAIN. Mine did just as I started working on this. Essentially – how many Americans are finding, suddenly, that their “just fine” internet service is not really just fine, and certainly can’t hold a candle to places like South Korea. And I know for a *fact* it can’t hold a candle, because we had an exchange student from there who simply could not understand how AMERICA had slow-ass internet. I guess they didn’t talk about that at orientation…

Look, this is definitely a first-world problem. But here’s the thing – WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE A FIRST-WORLD COUNTRY. And good, reliable internet connection is – these days – a necessity. Numerous studies have been done on why this is so important, particularly in rural communities. Here is an article that discusses some of that:

https://theconversation.com/reaching-rural-america-with-broadband-internet-service-82488

My hope is that people all over this country are complaining – to their local government, to their state government, and ESPECIALLY to their internet providers, about just how terrible they’ve discovered their service really is. I hope people in rural communities are doing the same, because with so many libraries closed, they are really struggling right now. Looking for jobs, ONLINE SCHOOLING (which we’re *all* struggling with to one degree or another) is virtually impossible. Accessing services for health right now, when so many clinics and offices are doing virtual calls for basic care means they’re left out. So many things that so many of us are taking for granted right now, that have moved to virtual out of necessity, are struggles still for far too many people. Which naturally means that, when the country begins to try to get back on its feet, they’re going to struggle even further with delays and difficulties.

So, people – YOU HAVE PERMISSION TO COMPLAIN. Long and loud, if you please. And if you’re so inclined, please reach out to groups like the one listed below to find out more about how you can help!

https://www.ruralstrategies.org/broadband

Events in the Time of COVID

While COVID is a scary thing (well, more scary than it should be, based on the level of “expertise” at the helm), there *is* one kinda cool thing to come out of it as a reader. So many author events and festivals and Cons have gone virtual, which means – I can actually “go” for the first time. Now, as a bookseller, I get that this is less than ideal – particularly for debut authors. Which is jut one reason why I’m doing my best (especially on Twitter) to help get the word out. However, as a reader, there’s a new equal opportunity availability that just wasn’t there before. And it’s been super exciting to see how different folks have stepped up and really helped to not only get the word out about upcoming titles, but to create these amazing virtual festivals. Talk about lemonade out of lemons!

One of the ones I’m *most* excited about just released their schedule yesterday. And I am NOT ASHAMED to say that I already signed up for a majority of the panels. And honestly, that is another thing that has – by necessity – changed with the virtual setting. Rather than having to pick and choose between panels, because there are usually at least a couple happening at a time, we can attend them ALL. I’m wondering (hoping?) if someone, somewhere isn’t taking note of this, and even after life starts getting back to normal, at least one large virtual con becomes the norm. I WOULD EVEN PAY FOR THIS, PEOPLE. *ahem* Just sayin’.

Anyway, Y’allWest has become Y’allStayHome, and I AM HERE FOR IT. Considering the amount of panels I signed up for, I mean that quite literally. But there are some REALLY awesome panels and authors and books on the two days that this is happening. There are even some giveaways that are gonna happen! I know that something like this is a *lot* of work, and I give the HIGHEST kudos to the folks that decided to make it a thing. And it’s not just this one, either! Here’s just a partial list of virtual bookish events:

Y’allStayHome 2020
April 25-26 – https://www.yallwest.com/schedule

NOVL CouchFest 2020
April 20-24 – https://www.thenovl.com/blog/2020/4/9/couchfest-2020-schedule

Virtual Con
April 24 – https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/articles/virtual-con

Social Distance Book Fest
April 25 – https://twitter.com/SocDistBookFest

Random House Book Club: April Happy Hour
April 29 – http://www.randomhousebooks.com/event/rbc3/

Even CoNZealand is going fully virtual, though they’re still working out the details – https://conzealand.nz/blog/2020/03/25/conzealand-special-announcement

Basically – it’s a whole new world out there, and I hope that once COVID has become less of a threat to the world and organizers are working on planning their next year’s events, they really take a step back and pay attention to what was able to be accomplished virtually during this time. Give some thought to those of us who may not be able to travel to all these awesome events, but would certainly LOVE to sign up for a virtual panel (or…umm…13). It *is* possible to have in-person WITH virtual, and that would be such an exciting bonus for those of us who will be able to get all dressed up but have nowhere to go.

Review: A Deadly Education

I don’t know about y’all, but I’ve been having a very difficult time reading lately. I mean, it’s almost like it’s hard to concentrate when the world is burning around me? As I was discussing this with a friend and former co-worker of mine (also laid off at Powell’s), we decided to do our own mini book club. The hard part was finding a book we both wanted to read and had amongst our STACKS of titles. And, because that’s how we roll, we ended up agreeing on an e-arc instead.

That e-arc was A Deadly Education, by Naomi Novik. I am a huge fan of her novels Uprooted and Spinning Silver (my favorite of the two), and when I read the synopsis of this one, I was pretty much ALL. IN. So, we agreed to read 2 chapters a day. Something easily attainable as we tried to get our reading groove back. Reader, we did NOT read 2 chapters a day. Or, I should say – we did for 2 days. AND THEN WE RACED TO THE END BECAUSE IT WAS JUST THAT GOOD.

So – A Deadly Education. You’ve got a school for magic kids that sort of…runs itself? It’s absolutely deadly, between the monsters – *and the other students*. Competition is a given, and both your fellow students and the school itself will punish you in a variety of ways should you not be up to the task. Best part? Make it through alive, try to form an alliance, and on graduation you might STILL die because there are beasts waiting below to eat the slowest, weakest, least cunning, and alliance-less. It’s like a magical hunger games on drugs.

Hunger Games Katniss GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

But there’s no Katniss Everdeen here. Instead, we have El – an antisocial “loser” who has no enclave backing her up, little chance for an alliance…and hidden power. She bitchy, cranky, stubborn, and tough – and I LOVE HER. She is the anti-hero we all need right now.

The book balances El’s story and that of the school and students very nicely, and there really is a feel of high school/early college years. All the insecurity, power games, frantic studies…and even a hint of romance…all rolled up into emotional chaos. It’s great! I mean, from a distance. Like, through the pages. You couldn’t PAY me to go back to that messy time of my life

The characters are the focus here, as is often the case with Novik’s writing. And here, even the school is as much a character as it is the setting of the book. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I don’t care how good the story idea itself is if I can’t deal with the characters. El has a GIGANTIC chip on her shoulder, the school is…well…one of those people you see from across the room and know *instinctively* that you really do NOT want to get to know any better – and the cast of supporting characters is just as good. Honestly, El may be the “main” character here, but all those surrounding her are just as well-written and *human* as she is. They feel true to life, like I could pass them on the street and know them for who they are.

Having said that, however, the story was GREAT. I was hooked by the second chapter, by the 4th chapter I didn’t want to put the book down, and by the 6th chapter…I just…didn’t put it down. I kept on reading until the end. And THEN I told my reading buddy that I had finished. Thankfully, she had done the same thing (great minds), because neither one of us wanted to stop. Oh, and that 6th chapter I mentioned? HOLY HELL IT’S A DOOZY. Just sayin’. Anyway, I finished the book, thinking that it was a stand-alone, as were Uprooted and Spinning Silver. I mean, totally doable as a stand-alone, though the ending was like

BUT READERS – IT IS *NOT* A STAND-ALONE. My book partner informed me that Goodreads has it listed as Scholomance #1, and I AM SO VERY HAPPY ABOUT THIS. Not because I feel that there had to be more with this book, but because I WANT more. I want to spend more time in this insane asylum of a school, with these characters I’ve enjoyed (mostly) getting to know. I want to find out more about the school itself, and maybe learn more about El *and her grandmother’s warning*. Yep. There’s some maybe bad mojo coming her way. Or is *she* the bad mojo? I’ll never tell…

Suffice to say that this book has me excited about reading again. I had a great time with it, and now I would like to ask WHEN IS THE NEXT ONE?! Downside to reading an e-arc, of course. Finding a really great one and knowing it’s THAT MUCH LONGER before there’s another book in the series. *sigh* But, it was worth it. I’m seriously thinking about re-reading this, because I’m guessing there may be *clues* that I missed. Signals. Signs. Anyway, Naomi Novik has done it again – crafted a superb book with awesome characters. And if I was working (I miss you, Powell’s!), I would 100% be making sure that this book was on the buy list. Which is, frankly, what YOU should be doing too.

So: here’s a link to indiebound so you can support struggling indie bookstores! It’s open for pre-order, and YOU WANT THIS TO SHOW UP IMMEDIATELY.

Trust me on this one. https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780593128480

Thank you to Edelweiss and Del Rey for the arc!

The Babies, They’re Still ‘a Comin’

Happy Monday, folks! It’s day 471 of self-quarantine, and people are doing weird things like buying asparagus and brussel sprouts (at least according to one very good friend of mine). But even with all of this COVID and quarantine stuff, you know what is FOR SURE still happening? *The babies are coming!*. That’s right – unlike us, the literal adults in the room, the babies are refusing to stay in the ultimate self-quarantine, and are rebelling like all the cats who are sick of their owners BEING HOME 24/7 WHY WON’T YOU GO AWAY NOW. No? Just mine? Huh.

Anyway! Since babies are a celebration, even in times like this, and gifts can still be sent via mail – I’m going to share a few of my absolute favorite books to give as gifts to those expecting. These happen to be books that many may not have heard of as well, and while everyone has their *favorite* book, I like to boost the smaller ones when possible. If you find one on this list, I make no money off of the links I share – I just use links for independent bookstores whenever possible. Two reasons for that: First, they’re struggling right now. Most indies run on *razor-thin* margins, even in the best of times. Second? If you’re going to order from The Evil A, you can do the work to (I mean, not THAT much work…but still…) search for it. SO! Links will be the caption under the images. And now! On to the books!

This board book, written by Inuit throat singer Celina Kalluk, is my absolute favorite of the newer titles out there. “Kulu” is a term of endearment in the Inuit language, and refers to babies and little children. So, essentially, Sweetest Baby and the rest of the book lives up to that little piece of wonderful. The illustrator, Alexandria Neonakis, did a FABULOUS job, and the colors are light and flowing and lovely. The story itself is essentially all the animals in the Arctic coming to greet the new baby, and to bestow gifts – tenderness from the Arctic Char, spontaneity from the Narwhal and Beluga, heritage and empowerment from the Muskox…and the list goes on. If I only had ONE book I could give to someone for their baby? IT WOULD BE THIS ONE. It’s destined to be a title that gets passed on from child to child to child.

This is a title that is just beautiful in its simplicity. The artist is First Nations, and there are Native images of nature spread throughout the book. Children will learn colors and seasons from the perspective of the natural world, and frankly, as an adult? I find the book absolutely soothing and lovely even *without* a little to read it to. Another great gift option that won’t steer you wrong.

Dear Girl, (There is also a Dear, Boy) is a picture book vs. a board book but – it’s another more recent favorite of mine. It’s a lovely reminder to a young girl (and a NOT-SO-YOUNG ONE TOO!) that she is strong and powerful and that she is important in this world. Honestly, I bought it for my pre-teen daughter when I found it, and I occasionally read it as well. It is truly a book that will last beyond just the small child years, because the message and artwork hold true for ALL ages. This is one I recommend *a lot* to aunts and uncles and grandparents and BFFs when they’re looking for a book as a gift, and don’t want to repeat one that’s already been given. And the majority of them buy it – because it’s just that good.

Ok, so there you have it. My top three books for gift-giving when someone I like is having a child. For people I’m not-so-fond-of? That’s another blog post for another day. *wink* Truly, you can’t go wrong with any of these books, and the beautiful thing about the top two is that it doesn’t matter if you don’t know the sex of the baby, because they’ll work regardless. Bottom one has a girl *and* a boy version, so really – I’VE COVERED ALL YOUR BASES FOR YOU. You can thank me later.

What about you guys? What are some of your favorite titles to purchase for new parents?