6 min read

Stone Soup Digest 02.04.22 & My Fave Reads of January

Welcome to the Stone Soup Weekly Digest! This is where I share what I'm up to and some of my favorite things from around the internet. Subscribe to Stone Soup to get this in your inbox every week.

This week’s digest is coming to you a little on the later side because I spent today teaching a class at Hugo House! I was so thrilled for the opportunity to spend a few hours talking about horror, trauma, sensory input, and neuroscience. There will be a recording available soon; I’ll try to remember to drop a link to it in next week’s Digest.

Meanwhile, mark your calendars for Monday, February 07! I’ll be playing a tabletop roleplaying game called Masks with three of my favorite people in the world — Kate Dollarhyde, Alyssa Wong, and DongWon Song — for Bag of Giving. We’ll be raising money for great causes while embodying teen superheroes. My character’s hero name is RIPTYDE and I am delighted to tell you that his powers are as chaotic as I know how to make them.

Art by Chris Mrozik

This painting absolutely captured me this week. It’s everything I could possibly love, all in one gorgeous piece of art.

Announcing Plant Girl Game (sans kickstarter)

Plant Girl Game is a cozy tabletop roleplaying game  about a family of plant children saving their town from ecological disaster, written and designed by Dominique Dickey and project managed and edited by C. J. Linton. We hope you’ll back it on Gamefound, where it will be crowdfunding on from March 2 – March 23.

As dismaying as it is to see Kickstarter committing to something as profoundly damaging as Blockchain, I’m thrilled to see creators I admire finding other avenues to make projects as cool as Plant Girl Game. I’m so looking forward to this one’s launch!

LeVar Burton Reads ‘Open House on Haunted Hill’ by John Wiswell

The house feels ashamed of the loose wallpaper. It’s vintage painted silk, which Mrs. Weiss says could be a big value-add. Now the house ponders if it can haunt its own glue and help strip the wallpaper away to please him. It’s especially important since he is spending more time here than anyone has yet without Mrs. Weiss wrangling them. It’s like he doesn’t feel the vibes other visitors do, or he doesn’t care about them.

You can read the full text of the story here.

Shing Yin Khor is making little houses

It’s no secret that I adore Shing Yin Khor’s art. This past week, they started carving little houses. Click through to their feed for more like this, plus a really spectacular art series about wordle.

Shing Yin Khor is also making Bird Oracle

The Bird Oracle is a solo journalling keepsake game about creating a personalized divination system, but it is also a game about intentional loneliness, the lineage of your choices, and multilevel marketing schemes. The complete limited-edition physical version of the game comes in a custom made book box, with a brass plated divination spinner, a screen printed throwing cloth, a brass plated planchette, a bundle of the Oraclebird’s notes, the game book, and some other game-related surprises.

I’ve written before about how Shing Yin Khor makes Perfect Objects. This is your opportunity to get your hands on some of them. This thing just looks cool as hell.

My Favorite Reads of January

Sundial by Catriona Ward

All Rob wanted was a normal life. She almost got it, too: a husband, two kids, a nice house in the suburbs. But Rob fears for her oldest daughter, Callie, who collects tiny bones and whispers to imaginary friends. Rob sees a darkness in Callie, one that reminds her too much of the family she left behind.

She decides to take Callie back to her childhood home, to Sundial, deep in the Mojave Desert. And there she will have to make a terrible choice.

Callie is worried about her mother. Rob has begun to look at her strangely, and speaks of past secrets. And Callie fears that only one of them will leave Sundial alive...

I love Catriona Ward’s work. It always manages to skim the edges of a profound darkness; her work haunts me in a lingering way that I’ve never experienced from another writer’s work. Sundial is yet another example of Ward’s ability to create a profoundly unsettling scenario and drive it to a point of explosive terror. Dizzying, intimate, haunting.

Bad Luck Bridesmaid by Alison Rose Greenberg

It's official: Zoey Marks is the cursed bridesmaid that no engagement can survive. Ten years, three empire waist dresses, and ZERO brides have walked down the aisle.

After strike three, Zoey is left wondering if her own ambivalence towards marriage has rubbed off on those she loves. And when her building distrust of matrimony culminates in turning down a proposal from her perfect All-American boyfriend, Rylan Harper III, she and Rylan are both left heartbroken, leaving Zoey to wonder: what is it exactly about tying the knot that makes her want to run in the opposite direction?

Enter Hannah Green: Zoey's best friend, who announces that she's marrying a guy she just met (cue eye roll). At a castle. In gorgeous, romantic Ireland, where Rylan will be in attendance, and Zoey will be a bridesmaid. It'll be fine.

Determined to turn her luck around, Zoey accepts her role and vows to get Hannah down the aisle — all the while praying her best friend's wedded bliss will allow her to embrace marriage and get Rylan back. But as the weekend goes on, Zoey is plagued with more questions than answers.

Alison Rose Greenberg’s debut cements her alongside Emma Lord and Emily Henry as a master of the complicated protagonist. Bad Luck Bridesmaid is a brilliant novel about what it’s like to consider oneself to be a calamitous influence on the world. It’s about secrets, disaster, and — ultimately — the way relationships handle worst-case-scenarios. I devoured it and I know you will too. Funny, smart, confrontational.

When You Get the Chance by Emma Lord

Nothing will get in the way of Millie Price's dream of becoming a Broadway star. Not her lovable but super introverted dad, who raised Millie alone since she was a baby. Not her drama club rival, Oliver, who is the very definition of Simmering Romantic Tension. And not her "Millie Moods," the feelings of intense emotion that threaten to overwhelm. Millie needs an ally. And when an accidentally left-open browser brings Millie to her dad's embarrassingly moody LiveJournal from 2003, Millie knows just what to do – find her mom.

But how can you find a new part of your life and expect it to fit into your old one without leaving any marks? And why is it that when you go looking for the past, it somehow keeps bringing you back to what you've had all along?

I mentioned Emma Lord before, and that was no mistake. I’ll be honest — I tend to flinch away from theatre-kid-books, as a former theatre kid myself. I usually find the treatment of an adolescent person’s relationship with theatre to be overly nostalgic and lacking in complexity. But going into this one, I decided to trust Emma Lord, and I was right to do it. Lord brings her signature sense of complexity and realism to a series of complex, messy relationships in a way that left me feeling like I’d just walked out of a perfectly-executed show. The story is beautifully constructed, and the characters feel like they might have signed my yearbook so many years ago. Vibrant, delightful, grounded.

Kitten update

The kittens went to the vet this week for a sniffle and came home with a diagnosis of “wow, they’re unbelievably chill!” The vet identified the kittens as part Abyssinian, which explains why Bert’s ears have somehow gotten even bigger. Also, both kittens have gained two whole pounds in the last month. They’re gigantic.

That’s it for this week! If you’re a paying subscriber, come by the Stone Soup Supper Club for our weekly chat! I’ve also updated that post with a link to a Supper Club Google calendar so that it will be easier to add our writing dates to your schedule. What books did you read in January that you absolutely loved? I can’t wait to find out how you’re doing.