Sunday Stuff (and a new book list)

So. Climate Change is happening. There are maps showing the zone hardiness maps (zones across the country to help gardeners know what grows in their climates) changing over the next ten years as the country gets warmer. There are people talking about the twelve years number, and how climate change is actually probably going to happen faster than that. Articles on sea level rise, and temperature rise, and projected food shortages and mass extinctions.

quarter acre farmAnd my low-grade general anxiety is sitting over here making me research permaculture and edible gardening. Because I like to eat. And we just bought this house, with almost half an acre of good, south-facing land. So I’m learning. I’m reading about swales and rain gardens and water collection, and food forests and tree guilds and helpful species. I’m paying attention to what species will continue to be hardy in this area as the climate changes, and how to provide shelter and food for beneficial insects and animals.

I feel a little bit like a Doomsday prepper. Which is…uncomfortable. But like – I’m not planning on building a bomb shelter, or having shelves upon shelves of food in cans and crates of MREs. I’d just like to be a little more self-sustaining. I’m really sad we don’t have the roof space to put in solar power; Baltimore County laws mandate setting the panels in three feet from any edge, and we have several small sections of roof so there’s nowhere big enough to put more than a couple of panels. Baltimore County laws are also preventing me from getting chickens – no chickens on less than an acre of land. People are lobbying to get that changed, so I’ll keep an eye on it.

All this is to say, I’m reading a lot about permaculture, native plants, and edible gardening, so I’ve made a new book list to keep track of Homesteading books. I’ll try to get more reviews up of the ones I own, since I’ve only reviewed a few of those here on the blog. If anyone has suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

Even going by the original twelve-year number – I’m going to be 49 in twelve years. And the science says our whole world is about to go to shit. We’re already seeing effects in the number and severity of storms. I’m lucky to be in the position I am – in a fairly well-off country, owning enough land to grow food on. Being chronically ill could really suck, if my medicine supply gets disturbed, but other than that, I’m not in a bad situation to be facing this. A lot of people are going to be a lot worse off. It’d sure be nice if our government took steps to help instead of actively making things worse….

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Book Review: Once & Future

once and futureOnce & Future
by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy
Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Young Adult/Retelling
354 pages
Published March 2019

This was March’s Illumicrate book, and it’s fantastic! I’d had my eye on it prior to finding out it was the pick for March, and was super happy when that was announced. It’s an exclusive cover, so I’m including a picture of my book too! I actually like the pink better, so I’m slightly saddened by that, but the content is far more important.

20190419_104939790720406498931650.jpgAnd the content is a riot! Ari is our main character, and she’s King Arthur reborn, as these stories always go. Merlin is aging backwards, as he often is, and he wakes up this time as a teenager and groans. It’s pretty hilarious. Arthur’s knights are various characters, of various ethnicities and sexualities. This is a HELLA queer book, and it’s great. We get bi, lesbian, gay, pan, omni – honestly it seems that in this future, people have just accepted that you’ll love who you will love, gender be damned. One of the knights is even ace!

There is going to be a sequel, though I’m not sure when it’s scheduled to be released. Not soon enough, is the real answer, in my opinion!

I realize I haven’t said much about the actual plot, but – really. It’s King Arthur and her knights, as queer teenagers, in space, fighting a giant corporation. That’s really all you need to know. Go read it!

From the cover of Once & Future:

A NEW KING ARTHUR HAS RISEN AND SHE’S GOT A UNIVERSE TO SAVE.

Coming to terms with your identity is always difficult. But for Ari, as the reincarnation of King Arthur, it just got a lot more complicated. What on Earth (or anywhere in space) can she hope to achieve with a rusty spaceship and an adolescent wizard called Merlin?

Gender-bending royalty, caustic wit and a galaxy-wide fight for peace and equality all collide in this brilliant reinvention of the Arthurian legend.

Friday 56 – Once & Future

once and futureThe Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice. The rules are simple – turn to page 56 in your current read (or 56% in your e-reader) and post a few non-spoilery sentences.

Today’s quote is from Once & Future, a queer retelling of the King Arthur story in space by two non-binary authors. It’s fantastic. I got my copy through Illumicrate, so it’s a different color cover with gorgeous sprayed edges; it’s green, where the official cover is pink. I’ll have a picture on my review. (I actually think I like the pink better, but I do love me some sprayed edges!)

They wove around women who sold things to the incoming crowds. Corsets pushed their bosoms halfway to their chins, roses and daggers tucked into significant cleavage. “Nice robes,” one said in a husky tone, and Merlin perked with delight. “You order those special?”

“They were made by the enchanted spiders of the Near Woods,” Merlin said.

“Good for you,” the woman said, tossing him a free map and a package of nuts. Merlin didn’t recognize the half-moon shape, but they were browned and buttery. He ate them in handfuls as they reached a market lines with open-faced shops. The wind whipped from a new direction, bringing the tantalizing aromas of roasting meat, tangy mead, and spiced stews.

Book Review: Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist

edible landscapingEdible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist: How to have your yard and eat it too
by Michael Judd
Nonfiction/Gardening/Homesteading
143 pages
Published 2013

I’ve been making a habit of checking out gardening books from the library before buying them, so I know what I actually want to have around as a permanent resource. This book has definitely made that list. Other books talk about some of these same principles – swales, herb spirals, rain gardens, tree guilds – but this book actually goes into detail with step-by-step instructions and pictures on how to MAKE many of those things. I also appreciate that the author lives in Maryland, about an hour west of me. So our climate is the same.

I really enjoyed his chapter on uncommon fruits – I’d been reading that pawpaws are one of the fruits that do well with black walnuts, and his description of pawpaw fruit REALLY makes me want to grow one! They’re an uncommon fruit largely because they’re too delicate to ship, but they apparently taste delicious! And they’re native, which is always a plus. I’d love to stick with native plants as much as possible.

His chapter on mushroom growing was also interesting and VERY detailed. (I quite enjoyed that he included “a good beer” in his list of supplies at one point.)

It’s a short book, and it only covers a few topics, but it is EXCELLENT for those few topics he touches on. Definitely want a copy of this in my personal library!

From the cover of Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist:

Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist is a fun-filled how-to manual for the budding gardener and experienced green thumb alike. Full of creative and easy-to-follow designs that guide you to having your yard and eating it too!

The ABC’s of Creating an Edible Landscape
– Herb Spirals
– Food Forests
– Raised Bed Gardens
– Earthen Ovens
– Uncommon Fruits
– Outdoor Mushrooms and much more . . . 

Library Loot Wednesday

This week was a week for diverse books! I picked up two Young Adult lesbian romances, It’s Not Like It’s A Secret and Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit, one LGBTQ anthology, All Out: the no-longer-secret stories of queer teens through the ages, and one Afro-Latino Pride and Prejudice retelling, Pride. Very excited about all of these!

Book Review: Crown of Feathers

crown of feathersCrown of Feathers
by Nicki Pau Preto
Young Adult/Fantasy
486 pages
Published February 2019

Okay first, just gaze at that cover for a little while. Just – wow. We get dragon riders all the time, but phoenix riders? That is new. AND AWESOME. I have been ridiculously excited about this book, and then I received it just as we were really gearing up to move. I have FINALLY gotten around to it, and man. I need the second one now. And it’s not due out until 2020!

The book tells the story of Veronyka, a war orphan who wants to be a phoenix rider, like her parents and grandmother. It is mostly told from her viewpoint, but we also get a few chapters from the point of view of Sev, an animage hiding in the Empire’s army, Tristan, another phoenix rider, and one or two from Veronyka’s sister, Val.

Animages are, as the name implies, mages whose magical power involves talking to animals and making them do their bidding. All phoenix riders are animages; not all animages are phoenix riders. But the empire has outlawed animages anyway, unless they pay a heavy tax. If you’re found to have evaded the tax, you get enslaved as a bondservant until you pay off your unpaid taxes. Sev hid his magic and enlisted in the army to keep from being sold as a bondservant.

In between chapters of current events, we have letters and snippets from history books detailing the story of Avalkyra Ashfire, who was the last Rider Queen before the empire turned against the Riders.

The villain in this story is villainous indeed, but at the same time, I don’t -want- them to be villainous. I -want- them to be good, and noble, and I can see why they’ve done what they’ve done and – I HAVE FEELINGS. I don’t LIKE the villain. They’re quite unlikable. I kinda feel like Obi Wan here. YOU WERE THE CHOSEN ONE. We all had so much FAITH in you. So it feels like a betrayal. And I just – I want to be wrong. I want the villain to do the right thing in the second book and no longer be a villain, but I don’t know how exactly that would happen. I’m holding out hope though.

This book is good. I’m not putting it in my best of 2019 because I’m so torn on the villain. But it’s very good. I am eager to see where the story goes from here.

From the cover of Crown of Feathers:

I HAD A SISTER ONCE . . . 

In a world ruled by fierce warrior queens, a grand empire was build upon the backs of Phoenix Riders – legendary warriors who soared through the sky on wings of fire – until a war between two sisters ripped it all apart.

I PROMISED HER THE THRONE WOULD NOT COME BETWEEN US.

Sixteen years later, Veronyka is a war orphan who dreams of becoming a Phoenix Rider like the heroes of old. After a shocking betrayal from her controlling sister, Veronyka strikes out alone to find the Riders – even if that means disguising herself as a boy to join their ranks.

BUT IT IS A FACT OF LIFE THAT ONE MUST KILL OR BE KILLED. RULE OR BE RULED.

Just as Veronyka finally feels like she belongs, her sister turns up and reveals a tangled web of lies between them that will change everything. And meanwhile, the new empire has learned of the Riders’ return and intends to destroy them once and for all.

SOMETIMES THE TITLE OF QUEEN IS GIVE. SOMETIMES IT MUST BE TAKEN.

Crown of Feathers is an epic fantasy about love’s incredible power to save – or to destroy. Interspersed throughout is the story of Avalkyra Ashfire, the last Rider queen, who would rather see her empire burn than have it fall into her sister’s hands.