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Valo, Neighbors, & My Fave Reads of January

Stone Soup Digest 02.05.2024
Valo, Neighbors, & My Fave Reads of January
Photo by Emma Frances Logan / Unsplash

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.

It was my birthday last week! I am currently at the end of my three months of travel, finishing my time on the road among friends in a lovely house in a beautiful part of my home state of California. It’s been a transformative few months for reasons both painful and lovely, and the most important thing I’ve taken away from it all so far is this: We are capable of mending each other through the hardest of times, just by showing up for each other as best we can.

We have neighbors around the world who need us to show up as best we can, right now, today. Here are some ways you can show up:

This incredible new middle grade novel came out on Tuesday! Featuring the cowriting brilliance of two incredible authors, Daniel José Older and Alyssa Wong, this is one you must not miss: 

Journey to the embattled Occlusion Zone in this action-packed adventure set hundreds of years before the Skywalker saga! It's a dark and dangerous time for the galaxy in which communication has been rendered nearly impossible in Nihil-controlled space as the nefarious pirates continue to threaten the Republic's very existence. Join Jedi Padawan Ram Jomaram – and some Jedi younglings – as they plot their escape from enemy territory.

Barnes & Noble | Bad River Website | Local Library | Find an Indie Bookstore

A Different Sarah Took Over for a While

Sarah Kuhn guest-hosted the digest last week, sharing some of her favorite things from around the internet. Don’t miss the spotlight on her Darkling one shot for Archie comics. 

Shing Yin Khor’s Beautifully Unique New Journaling Game

Friend of the newsletter Shing Yin Khor’s The Bird Oracle is on Backerkit right now. It’s about divination, MLMs, and becoming a bird. Plenty of levels from PDF to super fancy special editions with in-world props. I backed it and maybe you’ll want to back it, too!

My Favorite Reads of January

Pearl by Josh Malerman

There’s something strange about Walter Kopple’s farm. At first it seems to be his grandson, who cruelly murders one of Walter’s pigs in an act of seemingly senseless violence. But then people in town begin to whisper that Walter’s grandson heard a voice commanding him to kill.

And that the voice belongs to a most peculiar creature: the pig named Pearl.

Walter is not sure what to believe. He knows he’s always been afraid of the strangely malevolent Pearl. But as madness and paranoia grip the town and the townspeople descend on Walter’s farm with violent wrath, they begin to discover that true evil wears a human face.

I read this book in one sitting, on an airplane, and haven’t really stopped thinking about it since. This one has a premise that borders on sounding goofy, but in execution, the story is brutal and deeply frightening. It features a villain that unfolds into shockingly nuanced layers that never undermine his malevolence. Surprising, propulsive, expansive.

The Price of Salt, or Carol by Patricia Highsmith

Based on a true story plucked from Highsmith's own life, The Price of Salt, or Carol, tells the riveting drama of Therese Belivet, a stage designer trapped in a department-store day job, whose routine is forever shattered by a gorgeous epiphany―the appearance of Carol Aird, a customer who comes in to buy her daughter a Christmas toy. Therese begins to gravitate toward the alluring suburban housewife, who is trapped in a marriage as stultifying as Therese's job. They fall in love and set out across the United States, ensnared by society's confines and the imminent disapproval of others, yet propelled by their infatuation. The Price of Salt is a brilliantly written story that may surprise Highsmith fans and will delight those discovering her work.

Oh dear god, this book. I should have read it twenty years ago; I’m not totally sure that I was prepared to read it now. Carol is a love story, deeply so, but it’s also an un-love story – a story of what it means to recognize how much of the love in one’s life is reflexive, unwanted, and false. It’s a story of what it means to awaken to the self and to the deep yearnings of the self, and what it means to have those yearnings answered. Transformative, profound, romantic.

The Last Delivery by Evan Dahm

An anonymous parcel delivery boy arrives at a sprawling, chaotic mansion, in search of The Resident, who must sign for the package he bears, but this isn’t nearly as simple a task as it should be. The mansion hosts an endless, frenzied party, and the partygoers impede his every step. As the quest takes him further into the dripping, black bowels of the labyrinthine house, his mission galvanizes into his single purpose for existence, and his determination to find The Resident may well prove his undoing.

I got to read an advance copy of this book and found it to be completely unique. The art is in turns adorable and confrontational, and I find the story to have a perfect combination of inevitability and tension. It’s a fun, strange, disorienting world Dahm has built here, and I’m both glad to have gotten to see it and relieved that I don’t have to visit it. Brutal, relentless, tender.

If you’re a paying subscriber, come by the Stone Soup Supper Club! I can’t wait to find out how you’re doing.