7 min read

Stone Soup Digest 07.22.22

With special guest host Sarah Hollowell

Hello, lovely people, and welcome to a special installment of the Stone Soup Weekly Digest! Henchlady Jen here, reporting for duty. Sarah Gailey is in the midst of their Just Like Home hybrid book tour, so we’ve got a treat: the marvelous Sarah Hollowell is guest hosting this week!

Sarah Hollowell is the author of A Dark and Starless Forest, a powerful novel about magic, family, and what we are willing to face and sacrifice for the people we love – if you haven’t picked this book up yet, you should definitely add it to your tbr, especially if you like strong sibling relationships, complicated feelings, and stories that will haunt your thoughts long after you’ve turned the last page.

Check out some of Sarah Hollowell’s favorite things from around the internet this week, and find me at the end with an update on the state of Gailey!

Hello, Stone Soup subscribers! You may notice that I am not the usual Sarah but instead another Sarah. Some might say an Other Sarah. It's release week for the incredible Just Like Home and, as you might imagine, your usual Sarah is extremely busy being brilliant and promoting their new book, which I assume you've already bought.

In the meantime, I'm here to give you some neat things from around the internet that I've enjoyed recently.

My Mental Health Is Like Playing a Metroidvania Game—I Take It One Step at a Time by Martin Cahill

This article about the video game Hollow Knight (one of my all time favorites), and its genre of games in general, resonated with me on a deep level. I've sometimes wondered if it's silly that I connected so deeply with a video game and struggled to explain why that little knight meant so much to me. Martin’s words are wonderful and insightful and made me feel seen.

Every Zelda is the Darkest Zelda by Jacob Geller

I'm not intending to have a video game theme but here we are. I love long YouTube video essays, and Jacob Geller’s on games and movies always make me feel a little smarter after watching them. His newest, about the Zelda series, is extremely worth watching.

JWST has found the oldest galaxy we have ever seen in the universe

I'm pretty sure the James Webb Space Telescope is going to be leading to constant discoveries, but this is one of the newest ones and I think it's pretty cool! This newly discovered galaxy, GLASS-z13, is 100 million years older than the previously oldest galaxy we knew about.

Hangman Adam Page - a Twitter thread by Chris Brosnahan

This is an older piece of the internet, but I re-read it recently and was filled yet again with joy. This Twitter thread chronicling the AEW wrestling storyline of Hangman Adam Page and the Dark Order was part of what made me decide to try out wrestling, and now I watch it twice a week. And I still love Hangman Adam Page! I got to watch him win the championship title, wailed when he lost it, and was yet again filled with joy when his relationship with the Dark Order (which had waned after his title win) showed signs of repair.

Visit a Neighbor: Courtney Summers

Highly recommend Courtney Summers’ author newsletter. Along with keeping you up to date on the work of a truly incredible author, Courtney also sometimes shares insights into her writing process or reactions to her books. A recent newsletter discussed why she writes books about extremely raw, vulnerable topics, and her ceaseless efforts to make people care about girls, even (or especially) the “unlikeable” ones.

Sign up here!

I’m Reading: Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston

Amari Peters has never stopped believing her missing brother, Quinton, is alive. Not even when the police told her otherwise, or when she got in trouble for standing up to bullies who said he was gone for good.

So when she finds a ticking briefcase in his closet, containing a nomination for a summer tryout at the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, she's certain the secretive organization holds the key to locating Quinton--if only she can wrap her head around the idea of magicians, fairies, aliens, and other supernatural creatures all being real.

Now she must compete for a spot against kids who've known about magic their whole lives. No matter how hard she tries, Amari can't seem to escape their intense doubt and scrutiny--especially once her supernaturally enhanced talent is deemed "illegal." With an evil magician threatening the supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she's an enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn't stick it out and pass the tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton.

I think it would be cheating to say I'm currently reading Just Like Home - even though I am, and the audiobook is wonderful (here's an excerpt to try) - so instead let me gush about another book I'm reading.

When I asked my Twitter followers for magical middle grade book recs, Amari came up over and over. I'm not far in but I can already see why so many people told me to read it. It took no time at all for me to feel delighted and swept up in the magic and attached to Amari, a young girl who just wants to find her missing brother. It has a whimsy to its magic that I love. I'm excited to see where the story takes Amari, and then to anxiously await the sequel.

Photographer Cassie Harris loves her job--her company Buxom Boudoir makes people look beautiful and feel empowered with her modern twist on classic pinup photography. Cassie's best friend, Dana, is about to launch her own dangerously dreamy lingerie line and wants Cassie to shoot and direct the career-changing national campaign. But company politics and Dana's complicated pregnancy interfere, and Cassie finds herself--a proud plus size Black woman--not behind the camera but in front of it.

Though she's never modeled herself, Cassie's pretty sure she can handle the sheer underwear and caution tape bralettes. She's not sure she can work so intimately with the chosen photographer, her long-time competitor in the Chicago photography scene, Reid Montgomery. Their chemistry is undeniable on set, however, and feelings can develop faster than film…

Just Like Home would be another cheat but oh my God seriously did you obtain it yet?

High on my TBR list is the recently released The Accidental Pinup by Danielle Jackson. I was interested the moment I saw the cover. It's so rare to see a fat character in a full body, detailed, non-silhouette pose on a book cover. The description brought me all in. I'm so excited for this romance between a fat Black woman who finds herself in a modeling gig and her photographer.

Add The Accidental Pinup to your tbr here. Order it from your local independent bookseller, or order it via Bookshop.org to support independent booksellers throughout the US and the UK. For international shipping, you can try Barnes & Noble. If you prefer audiobooks, here’s a Libro.fm link. You can also request The Accidental Pinup from your local library — here’s how to get in touch with them. And if you need to order from the Bad River Website, here’s a link that will leverage your order for good.

Gailey Update

Jen here again! A warm thank you to Sarah Hollowell for sharing her recommendations this week! I’m so glad that she was able to join us. You can find more of her work on her Patreon, and find her on Twitter @sarahhollowell.

On the Gailey front, I’ve got quite a bit of news for you! Sarah Prime has not one but two essays out this week, one on CrimeReads On Loving Monsters and one on Tor.com called I Don’t Know What A Sympathetic Character Is Anymore. These pieces ask us to reflect on what monsters teach us and what our feelings about a character can tell us about the things we fear in ourselves. Like all of Sarah’s work, both are confrontational in the best way.

In addition, check out these great reviews of Just Like Home, in Paste magazine by Natalie Zutter and on Tor.com by Lee Mandelo.

The comingling of gothic, shadowy secrets with true crime’s halogen-light glare creates a disorienting effect on the reader. We think we know everything, that it’s already been sold to us, but… we really, really haven’t heard the whole story.
- Lee Mandelo, for Tor.com

If you weren’t able to catch Sarah at their book events this week, worry not! Sarah has two virtual events celebrating the release of Just Like Home coming up next week:

As usual, if you’re a paying subscriber, come by the Stone Soup Supper Club for the weekly chat. We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming in no time, but I’m glad I was able to be here with you.

I’ll leave you with this ever-relevant reminder from our dear Gailey: Care for yourself and the people around you. Believe that the world can be better than it is now. Never give up.

❤ Jen