Exploring Etsy: Neko Atsume edition.

Neko Atsume Pickles in a bucket

Neko Atsume Pickles in a bucket

Neko Atsume Tubbs plush

Neko Atsume Tubbs plush

Neko Atsume Snowball with red ball

Neko Atsume Snowball with red ball

Neko Atsume cat head pillows

Neko Atsume cat head pillows

Neko Atsume log pillows

Neko Atsume log pillows

Neko Atsume felted cats

Neko Atsume felted cats

Neko Atsume Lady Meow-Meow button

Neko Atsume Lady Meow-Meow button

Neko Atsume Xerxes button

Neko Atsume Xerxes button

Neko Atsume Tubbs Cross-Stitch pattern

Neko Atsume Tubbs Cross-Stitch pattern

All of the images above should link to their respective item pages, and there is, of course, lots of other ridiculosity available as well.

New children's book award: The Klaus Flugge Prize.

Illustration by Satoshi Kitamura from Angry Arthur. In the Telegraph article, Klaus Flugge is credited with launching Kitamura's career, among others. 

Illustration by Satoshi Kitamura from Angry Arthur. In the Telegraph article, Klaus Flugge is credited with launching Kitamura's career, among others. 

From the Telegraph:

Established in honour of Klaus Flugge, an influential and long-serving figure in picture books publishing, the award's full title is The Klaus Flugge Prize for the Most Exciting Newcomer to Picture Book Illustration. It is the only prize to reward a published picture book by a debut editor, with the winning illustrator to receive £5,000. 

...

The panel of judges for the 2016 Klaus Flugge Prize will be announced in February, when submissions open. It will be open to all picture books illustrated by a first time illustrator, first published by a UK publisher during 2015. The shortlist will be announced at the end of April and the winner will be revealed in September.

Lagoon, by Nnedi Okorafor

Lagoon, by Nnedi Okorafor

Lagoon, by Nnedi Okorafor

Lagoon, by Nnedi Okorafor

Lagoon, by Nnedi Okorafor

Lagoon is everything I want in a first contact book, and everything I want in a book, period.

On the first contact end of things: The aliens are ALIEN. Like, they aren't just deely-bopper-wearing human beings in green suits. They can look human, but their movements are different, their perspective is different, their general energy is different. And they don't know everything there is to know about people—through their ambassador, they're learning about humankind.

Also on the first contact end of things: Okorafor goes into how people react to the news of first contact, as individuals, as groups, as nations. She introduces such a huge cast—some characters who appear throughout the book, others who only appear for a page or two—and every single person she creates feels entirely real. It's so cinematic and so emotionally and psychologically astute.

And now it seems that I've veered into the Everything Else portion of the program. 

It's the story of a biologist, a soldier, a rapper, an alien ambassador; it's also the story of a city and a country and of the entire world. Okorafor tells it on a micro level and a macro level; she tells it through the filter of technology and the filter of myth. 

Akata Witch, by Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Witch, by Nnedi Okorafor

The setting—Lagos, Nigeria—is very much a character unto itself. It feels real and vibrant and you can hear the sounds and smell the smells and Okorafor incorporates class—from people who have NOTHING to people who have EVERYTHING AND THEN SOME—and religion and sexuality and politics and code-switching and Nollywood. She writes from the perspective of multiple people as well as animals—and even a portion of a highway—and those perspectives all feel entirely different and again, emotionally complex and again, real. Some of the characters speak entirely in Nigerian pidgin English, and that adds to the ENTIRELY IMMERSIVE feel of the whole book.

*fans self* SO GOOD. SO GOOD.

Where I'M TOTALLY GOING TO GO from here:

Akata Witch, by Nnedi Okorafor: This one is about twelve-year-old Sunny, the American daughter of Nigerian immigrants who move back to Nigeria. Sunny has albinism, is an outcast among her new peers... and then she discovers that she has magical powers.

AND AFTER I READ THAT I'M GOING TO WORK MY WAY THROUGH THE REST OF HER CATALOG.

Two comedy recommendations.

The Detectorists (streaming via Netflix):

British comedy written and directed by Mackenzie Crook—who we've both adored since he played Gareth on the BBC Office—it stars Crook and Toby Jones (Dobby and ONE MILLION OTHER ROLES, he's in EVERYTHINGGGGGG) as two guys who spend all of their free time metal detecting. It's SO funny and SO warm and occasionally SO painful. Rachel Stirling (Diana Riggs' daughter!) plays Crook's girlfriend, and she is especially fantastic—so smart and funny and REAL—I admit to yelling HE'D BETTER FIGURE HIS GARBAGE OUT SOON BECAUSE SHE'S NOT GOING TO PUT UP WITH THIS FOREVER at the tv more than once. 

We got so invested that at the end of the season, we CHEERED because the ending itself was so excellent and because we loved it so much in general, but then were immediately sad that we didn't have more episodes to watch. I just watched the trailer before embedding it here and I want to watch the show all over again.

Schitt$ Creek (streaming via Amazon Prime):

Thanks to Kelly for this recommendation—if you follow one or both of us on Twitter, you may well have seen one of our MANY back-and-forths about it.

Canadian comedy created by Eugene Levy and his son, Dan Levy—who co-star with Catherine O'Hara (who, let's face it, should be crowned Queen of the World) and Annie Murphy—as a hideously rich family who lose everything and have to move to a town that Eugene Levy bought for his son as a joke.

Basically, it's Arrested Development, but warmer, starring characters who are actually decent(ish) human beings. Bonus points for casting father/son as father/son, because so many of their mannerisms and facial expressions are so similar and it just makes it even better; bonus points for Catherine O'Hara's wardrobe; and double bonus points for writing David as pansexual.

Can't wait, can't wait, can't wait for season two.

RECOMMEND MORE TV IN THE COMMENTS. I NEED TO DISTRACT MYSELF FROM THIS WHOLE WINTER THING.

Added to the TBR: 2016 Edgars edition.

The Walls Around Us, by Nova Ren Suma

The Walls Around Us, by Nova Ren Suma

Little Pretty Things by Lori Rader-Day

Little Pretty Things by Lori Rader-Day

The Sin Eater's Daughter, by Melinda Salisbury

The Sin Eater's Daughter, by Melinda Salisbury

Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA and More Tell Us About Crime, by Val McDermid

Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA and More Tell Us About Crime, by Val McDermid

A Madness So Discreet, by Mindy McGinnis

A Madness So Discreet, by Mindy McGinnis

Luckiest Girl Alive, by Jessica Knoll

Luckiest Girl Alive, by Jessica Knoll

Endangered, by Lamar Giles

Endangered, by Lamar Giles

The nominees for the 2016 Edgars have been announced, and after perusing the various lists, these are the books that I've added to my TBR:

Luckiest Girl Alive, by Jessica Knoll: Blurbed by Megan Abbott? SOLD.

Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA and More Tell Us About Crime, by Val McDermid: Hugely-lauded crime novelist on the nitty-gritty of forensics—from early days up until the present? Don't mind if I do.

Endangered, by Lamar Giles: Teen photoblogger catches her classmates up to no good, and then plasters their exploits on the internet... all anonymously, of course. AND THEN THERE'S A MURDER. I'm getting a distinctly Veronica Mars-y vibe from that description, and it's been praised for diverse representation, and that's always something I'm looking for, so.

A Madness So Discreet, by Mindy McGinnis: The pub copy describes it as a "beautifully twisted gothic historical thriller", which is really all I need to know. Actually, I THINK I'LL PUT IN AN ILL REQUEST RIGHT NOW.

The Sin Eater's Daughter, by Melinda Salisbury: GIRL WITH POISON SKIN? YES, PLEASE.

Little Pretty Things, by Lori Rader-Day: Booklist recommends this one—about a woman working a dead-end job who ends up a suspect in the murder of her high school frenemy—to fans of Tana French, so YAY!

And finally, it's not on MY TBR list, because I've already read it, but you might want to think about adding it to YOURS: The Walls Around Us, by Nova Ren Suma.

What other titles are you eyeing?