Book Report Corner

by Zilla N.

The Things We Couldn’t Save by Nicole Bea is a book about me in high school. This is what it felt like to fall in love the first time, and then what it felt like to fall out of love again. This is what it felt like to have a best friend who was more precious to me than air but to know that time was pulling us apart, that we were going different directions and turning into different people, and that our friendship might not survive.

This is me, the good girl, trying to be cool by drinking – but puking in front of the people I was trying to impress. Trying to figure out who I was by making a lot of mistakes and only realizing afterwards that I wasn’t the kind of person who did *that*. If you, like me, tried in high school to be cooler than the dork you actually were (and still are!), this book might be about you too.

Nicole is a masterful writer. I’ve read it twice and I teared up both times. I want to give Clarke a hug. I want to give my teenage self – all our teenage selves – hugs too.

You can find it here.

Book Report Corner

by Rachel R.

Assassin of Reality cover

I am truly honoured to be one of the first people who gets to read the Advance Copy of Assassin of Reality in English after waiting several years for there to be a translation. As such I’ll try to restrain my actual reaction, which was an elated squeal so high-pitched that only dogs could hear it.

A few years ago, I read Vita Nostra, and it absolutely blew my mind. It’s a shimmering gem of a novel—inventive, atmospheric, transcendent. It gave me nightmares. I had to make everyone I knew read it. It’s also a very complete book, and without spoiling the ending, I couldn’t imagine how Sasha’s story could continue from its brainmelting conclusion.

But, continue it does, in a novel that is every bit worth the wait. Fifteen years after the events of Vita Nostra, a different Sasha, one who made different choices, dies in a car accident. The night before, she catches a vision of our Sasha, whose third-year exam at the Institute of Special Technologies did not exactly go as planned. “Our” Sasha is forced by her sinister mentor Farit to return to the Institute, where she must correct her mistakes before she is allowed to graduate. The stakes, this time, are not just the lives of her loved ones, but the very nature of reality itself.

I fell in love with the Sasha of Vita Nostra, and her persistence and ambition in the face of her own terror and the perplexing, overwhelming absurdity of the Institute. Assassin of Reality gives us an older, wearier Sasha, one who pushes back against the Institute’s structures and fights for her life, her humanity, and her agency, even if that fight comes at a tremendous personal cost. I also loved the deeper glimpses we get into the lives of those around her, especially Lisa, who is just a fantastic character. It’s a complex, philosophical, challenging book, but it’s grounded in the raw fallibility of the people (and metaphysical constructs) at its heart. Sasha’s fragile and fraught relationships with her classmates, her burgeoning love for Yaroslav, a pilot with secrets of his own, even her growing friendship with Yaroslav’s aging father are rendered with sympathy but never romanticization. The Institute, too, is a character in its own right, claustrophobic and uncanny.

I couldn’t rave about this book without also mentioning how wonderful the translation is. I can’t imagine how challenging it must have been to translate a book in which language plays such a central role. Without giving away too much of the story, language is a major plot point, there’s wordplay, and Russian and English are not exactly similar languages. And yet it doesn’t feel like a book in translation—the prose absolutely sings off the page.

Assassin of Reality is a worthy successor to what’s probably my favourite fantasy novel of all time. Its sole flaw is that I know there is a third book and I still speak neither Russian or Ukrainian. I would give it more stars if I could, stars that only exist on planes of reality that we mortals have yet to explore.

If you need this book as much as I did, pre-order your copy in e-book and hardcover.

Book Report Corner

by I. Merey

The cover of the sad bastard cookbook. It has a photo of uncooked ramen and a plastic knife, but no spoons.

I’ve never reviewed a cookbook before, but there is a first time for everything!

Let’s start with the cover: This design took me back to the cookbooks my parents used to have–the composition, the color–the ramen… with ketchup on it? Siracha? Is that blood??? Ok, this isn’t my parents’ cookbook. Childhood and nostalgia is over and cooking is actually a bitch (and if you live alone/are broke/are sick/unlucky at feeding yourself or some intersection of multiple of those, it’s just that much worse). Luckily, the authors get that entirely.

So this is a collection of not so much recipes (which promise to make a delicious presentation in fantasy, but in reality, often provide more stress with complicated ingredients and preparations and PRESSURE to not fuck up)–it’s more a collection of tips; concrete looser guidelines that result in meals, without strict measurements. Which results, hopefully, in another day where one of us could feed our sorry asses and feel a little less like a fuckup. It’s also funny! And this book is free ❤ So I recommend you give it a download; the recipes are great to peruse and to collect ideas for those mental rainy days :/ (weeks?? :////)

Get your free e-book PDF here.

Book Report Corner

by Sabitha F.

Cover of A+E with Ash and Eu

A + E by Ryszard Merey. This one gets a trigger warning from me, although it’s less the scenes of sexual violence (of which there are a few) and more that the author—who wrote this book well before he met me—somehow knows about my teenage life in startling ways.

Allow me to digress on one of the reasons why I tend to dislike YA—the characters are blank slates, meant for the reader to relate to. I know a lot of teenagers. Very few of them are blank slates. Very few of them fit neatly into “jock” “artsy” “popular,” etc. categories. They are, in fact, people. And the choice of nearly an entire marketing category to eschew specificity for broad appeal is, I believe, doing a disservice to young people.

Anyway this book isn’t YA, it’s just about teenagers. It’s a book I would have wanted when I was that age (I was deeply uninterested in books for my age range because they weren’t like this.) Two gender non-conforming kids—the effeminate, artsy Ash and the loud, brash goth Eu—meet and become friends with the kind of passionate intensity that happens when you’re smart and mentally ill and young. They fall in love, kind of, and they fuck up, and they hurt each other in devastating ways. I felt Seen. It’s also just gorgeously written.

A note for people attempting to read this (and you really should read it): There are two versions, a graphic novel and a novella. I’m talking about the novella, which you can find here. I haven’t read the graphic novel (yet).

Book Report Corner

by KaptenSiri

The cover of the sad bastard cookbook. It has a photo of uncooked ramen and a plastic knife, but no spoons.

I received an Advance Reader Copy in return for an honest review.

Some days, there’s not enough time. Some days, you just don’t have the energy. Some days, you feel like a sad bastard and literally don’t know what to do. That’s when you pick up The Sad Bastard Cookbook and just read. It will make you laugh. It will keep you company. It will help you find something to cook, on your level for the day. Make the core recipe, add something if you feel for it, or—on a good day—go all in.

The Sad Bastard Cookbook has already saved my ass several times when it comes to solve the “what’s for dinner” question. The recipes are simple and you’ve probably made most of them before. But here’s the thing; it’s up to you where you set the bar. You don’t have to follow the recipe strictly, but, if you need it, there are a lot of suggestions how to pimp your food. And, it will taste good!

Get your free e-book PDF here.

Book Report Corner

by Dale Stromberg

The cover of the sad bastard cookbook. It has a photo of uncooked ramen and a plastic knife, but no spoons.

Depression can feel like being the body during an out-of-body experience. Or like being a rickety boat sailing a beam sea. You can find it an ordeal to do even the simplest things—like eating. This cookbook understands that you might be broke or even poor, beaten down by fatigue, unable to cope with basic physical tasks, and/or lacking the wherewithal to open a jar of jam. The book prods you, with a gentle humour that is sympathetic to your depressive paralysis, to get something down your gullet. 

Some of the recipes here satisfy the minimum requirements of what might be called actual recipes—but then there are “Peanut Butter on a Spoon” or “Eat a Dill Pickle Out of the Jar While Standing in Front of the Fridge”. How do these qualify as recipes? Well, I myself have experienced spirits low enough that basic life tasks went undone simply because there was nobody standing there telling me, “Now do this. Next do that.” The Sad Bastard Cookbook recognises that, some days, you’re probably going to max out simply by taking one thing (hopefully not mouldy or expired) from your cupboard and choking it down raw. 

But remember, you could take not one but two things, or at the God-Tier level three things, combine them, zap them in the microwave, and satisfy basic caloric intake requirements in a slightly less sorry-ass way, even as you continue to stagger under the crushing burden of your depression. Which is a way, maybe, to be slightly less sad.

Get your free e-book PDF here.

Book Report Corner

by Nicole Northwood


I illustrated this cookbook which was created with neurodivergent, mentally ill, and disabled folks in mind!! Find it on Am@zon or get it for free at #fyp #foryou #fypシ #foryoupage #mentalhealth #actuallyautistic #illustration #cooking #cookinghacks #foodtiktok

♬ original sound – Marten

Our amazing artist, Marten Norr, made this Tiktok to tell you a bit about The Sad Bastard Cookbook. A work of Art.

Get your free e-book copy here.

Book Report Corner

by Anna Borisovskaya, MD

The cover of the sad bastard cookbook. It has a photo of uncooked ramen and a plastic knife, but no spoons.

As a psychiatrist taking care of patients with severe and treatment-resistant depression, I was delighted to find The Sad Bastard Cookbook, as I felt I could easily recommend it to the patients struggling with lack of motivation, those who skip meals and lose weight because cooking feels so overwhelming.

This cookbook, while mostly catering to vegetarians and vegans, would probably get quite a few people feeling more confident in their ability to open their fridges and cupboards and find something to put together, no matter how long ago their last shopping trip had been. The recipes aren’t complex at first glance, but they’re also endlessly customizable, with something so simple as an egg or Sriracha sauce capable of transforming a package of Ramen noodles into an easy and nutritious meal. I also appreciated the absence of measurements – when was the last time a depressed person had the energy to measure cups and tablespoons? My favorite recipe, I’ll admit, is peanut butter on a spoon – which I indulge in every time I’m doing thirty procedures in a day. I don’t have a lot of time or options for an afternoon snack, but the hospital does provide peanut butter in little plastic packages. It also provides spoons. It’s a nutritious, filling meal that the authors are correct in proudly including here – as I’m sure it could keep people alive in a pinch.

The authors also display an impressive sense of humor and empathy—it’s a book that understands the struggle of having to eat—and make—several meals a day. But one doesn’t have to be depressed to appreciate the craft on display here—many of these recipes, especially those in the God tier, are delicious and would be an excellent addition to any family’s weeknight meal. And I’m looking forward to being able to buy it as gifts for my friends and colleagues.

Get your free e-book PDF here.

Book Report Corner

by Rohan O’Duill.

The cover of the sad bastard cookbook. It has a photo of uncooked ramen and a plastic knife, but no spoons.

Being a chef for the last 25-odd years means I have amassed a vast collection of hundreds of cookbooks. I have all the classical French cookbooks. I have cookbooks from cuisines around the world. I have cookbooks on ancient techniques and ones on modern cooking hacks. But The Sad Bastard Cookbook is the only one tos ever made me laugh out loud.

While this book provides very handy and quick recipes, it is so much more than a cookbook. It is a companion through tough times, a crutch when you are struggling, and a shared smile when you need just that.

Saying that, these recipes still provide essential nutrients and energy. The Peanut Butter on a Spoon recipe is a great example of that. Two tablespoons of peanut butter provides you with almost 200 calories, it is high in healthy fats and protein. It is a dense, high-energy food source that also tastes great and requires no preparation whatsoever.

The frozen yoghurt recipe is another favourite of mine. The yoghurt provides you with protein and calcium to keep your body running. The freezing process does not destroy the probiotics, so you still gain the digestive benefits and the advantages to your immune system. The added banana is packed full of vitamins and minerals to really round out the meal.

These are not gourmet recipes, and it would be advisable to create more diverse and balanced food plans when you are able. But this book will get you by and introduce variety when you just can’t make that extra effort.

The real beauty of this book is that many of the recipes and anecdotes were crowd sourced. There is an unquestionable authenticity to them that is refreshing and charming. This book is a survival guide written by survivors. It is a heartfelt resource that many people will draw on for years to come.

Get your free e-book PDF here.