Kat Kiddles, Editor
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
A globetrotting bookworm with a tendency to over-think the scientifically unexplainable, she enjoys gnawing on literary limbs of fiction and fable, while washing them down with glistening goblets of introspective memoir. She’s not one to refuse indulging in the occasional encyclopedia but her passion lies in stories of spirit and sustenance.
Favorite places: airport bookshops brimming with local titles; yoga studios filled with the silent sound of eternity and painted with moments of enlightenment; long stretches of open road cutting through slabs of prickly desert
Weaknesses: subscribing to too many RSS feeds; over-packing books and socks; not knowing when to look away while people-watching
Believes in: unicorns; sales; health benefits of coffee
Refuses to: deny herself the opportunity to be herself
Gareth Long, Uncustomary Reviewer
A compulsive analyser of human behaviour, with a preference for escaping it whenever possible. He is more comfortable lost within the world of a book, a film, a computer game or music than in a room full of people, but cannot prevent his mind considering the social, philosophical or scientific implications of the cultural artefact in which he is ‘lost’. Would prefer to have been born without a brain and is still learning how to cope with its incessant wittering. Because of this, it’s possible to find anything from scientific theory through to classic literature and down into the dirty realm of action thrillers nestling within the pile of books beside his bed. There’s also a disproportionate amount of Michael Moorcock’s work on his bookshelf, which may explain the difficulty he now has relating to other people.
Favorite places: unique and unfamiliar worlds that his mind has never experienced before; a warm, bright, flower-speckled meadow beside a chuckling stream; the time-bending hillside at Delphi
Weaknesses: impatience (particularly with slow technology and people whose lives revolve around television); computer games that allow him to run over sheep-like civilians; a pressing need for catharsis
Believes in: independent thought; evolution; the beautiful, twisting chaos of life and humanity’s responsibility to respect it; the Messianic properties of cheese
Refuses to: blindly follow social expectation; have anything to do with real cars (it’s safer for everyone)
Lisa Abellera, Uncustomary Reviewer
Novato, California, USA
A hunter of tropes, she stalks the wildlife of language, especially for prose that is filled with human complexity, human struggle, and human connection. This obsession causes her to imagine the stories etched in the lines of strangers’ faces, overheard in fragments of conversations, and revealed in the slightest of gestures. She’s a collector of metaphors and similes, of metonymy and synecdoche, incessantly searching for words which paint the human experience. Words which are clear and concrete. Words which offer intimacy and irony. Words which bring together contrasting ideas, raise intriguing questions and take everyday experiences apart to expose greater truths.
Favorite places: neighborhood bookstores; coffeehouses with Wi-Fi; French cafés; anywhere with the sound of the surf and sand under foot
Weaknesses: stray cats; pistachio ice cream; time-swallowing diversions like social media and shopping for shoes
Believes in: life on other planets; the perseverance of the printed, bound book; the healing power of a good belly laugh
Refuses to: stop chasing windmills
Kate Dubinski, Uncustomary Reviewer
London, Ontario, Canada
A print journalist who doesn’t do nearly enough writing for pleasure and believes reading newspapers is a seriously underrated form of education. Can read and write while driving, walking, running and shooshing a baby to sleep. Doesn’t like to be alone with her thoughts for very long; because of this she always has a book at arm’s-length as an escape, a distraction or a relief. Forgets everything that she doesn’t write down, so has notebooks, slips of paper, napkins and dozens of pens with her at all times.
Favorite places: coffee shops big and small; books stores of all kinds, independent and mass-market; airports and airplanes; slightly-worn paths that cut through wooded wilderness; home
Weaknesses: coffee; Lays regular potato chips; getting lost in Twitter links that lead to other links that lead to other links that lead to hours of time wasted on the Internet
Believes in: the value of good mainstream journalism; the power of positive thinking; evolution
Refuses to: like the colour pink; deny herself instant pleasure; stop eating wheat
Heather Rae Butler, Uncustomary Reviewer
Reno, Nevada, USA
An information professional always on the lookout for her next adventure. Her obsession with books has taken her farther than she has dreamed possible and she is looking forward to seeing where it will take her next.
Favorite places: hidden forests and ancient buildings; outside seating at restaurants and cafes; anywhere with cobblestone streets
Weaknesses: Illy coffee; anything pumpkin flavored; creating a never-ending pile of “to read” books; museums; singing in the car while driving (alone); rainy days
Believes in: providing the masses with free access to information; the power of reading; doing what one loves; always having fresh flowers somewhere in the house
Refuses to: give up sending hand-written holiday cards; stop reading books made out of paper
Carol Anderson, D.Min., ACSW, LMSW, Uncustomary Reviewer
Traverse City, Michigan, USA
A psychotherapist who continues to believe in the goodness of people, even while unwittingly attracting sociopaths and other seriously-impaired individuals into her personal life. On a mission of panentheism and integral life practices, she is continually thwarted in her search for enlightenment. With the dilapidated body of a jock and a mind steeped in irreverence, she peruses all things mysterious, psychological, political, and spiritual, while refusing to give up reading said-books and newspapers in print form. She has a love/hate relationship with her computer whose name is FPOS (which may be a clue as to why she’s not reaching enlightenment).
Favorite places: my couch; my house and yard; beautiful northern Michigan; anyplace warm with sand and water; the Earth; the Cosmos
Weaknesses: None—social workers only operate from strength-based perspectives…
Believes in: irreverence; cats; solitude; immanent and transcendent realities; political activism
Refuses to: stop wearing a bikini although most people believe this would be a good idea; become one of the 1%
Rachel Castleberg, Author Outreach Coordinator & Uncustomary Reviewer
Leavenworth, Kansas, USA
A relative infant to the concept of intentional living, she’s dabbling in a bit of everything, trying to find something that inspires her the same way language does. She’s teaching herself the guitar, doodles nudes and geometric abstractions on paper napkins, and sews her own curtains (unaware they’re going to make her bedroom the color of a bordello). She strives for empathy and to live her life as if it were a novel. She’s an eternal student of human behavior and communication, and is therefore an unabashed eavesdropper, to the great embarrassment of everyone who takes her out to dinner. She loves a book, any book, that leaves her a different person after she’s read it, but is a little disappointed if said book can be completely absorbed in one reading.
Favorite places: her own living room, after it’s been cleaned; libraries with ridiculously comfy chairs; her mother’s kitchen; empty cathedrals; the inside of the car on long road trips with her husband
Weaknesses: freshly baked bread; sweet tea; overwhelming anxiety in the face of change; staring into space and accidentally creeping out strangers; her dog’s wagging tail; mint ice cream
Believes in: vulnerability; occasionally letting go of skepticism; Jesus; poetry that is both accessible and good; making your own mistakes; being a little bit pagan; the power of a cup of tea brewed by your best friend
Refuses to: stop learning something new everyday, even if it’s the correct way to make an egg sunny-side-up; stop watching cartoons
Aliza Scheiner, Uncustomary Reviewer
Brooklyn, New York, USA
As a writer, reader, and observer, she feels she’s experienced more of life than she really has. She’s okay with this. She also has a reverse bucket list detailing her actual life experiences. Presumably this helps her separate fact from fiction. She’s always in the middle of at least one book; indeed, she prefers reading one book at a time (unless that book is non-fiction, in which case she likes to offset it with fiction).
Favorite places: inside the pages of a book; amid the bustle of New York City; within sight of any body of water
Weaknesses: spending too much time on tumblr (seriously, it’s like a time-sucking wormhole)
Believes in: lists; the power of music; the importance of humor
Refuses to: stop writing
Kendahl Cruver, Uncustomary Reviewer
Seattle, Washington, USA
A writer with overwhelming curiosity about more things than she has time to explore. Always reading three or more books at once, and never gets confused going from one to the other. Barely wedges in time for her obsession with classic movies. Mother of two little people who inspire acts of rebellion and fancy tricks on the monkey bars. Doesn’t bother to try to remember anything anymore—that’s what sticky notes are for.
Favorite places: windy Pacific Northwest beaches; parks with lots of swings; anywhere with Wi-Fi; coffee and a comfy couch
Weaknesses: fanatical belief in instant gratification; greasy French fries with extra salt; borrowing too many books at one time from the library
Believes in: treating dreams like life blueprints and making them happen; helping people who need me; time alone to recharge; the power of long-term friendships; bargains; the books, movies, art and music people create
Refuses to: go to bed early; iron; save the rest of the chocolate for later
Tomasz Sobolewski, Uncustomary Reviewer (Polish)
Literatura piękna zawsze zajmowała szczególne miejsce w jego życiu nawet wtedy kiedy nie można było jej scharakteryzować jako piękna. Pamięta jego odczucia, kiedy odkrywał świat Williama Shakespeare’a, a poźniej świat książek Gabriela García Márqueza czy nawet Jana Van Helsinga. Jego myśli krążyły poprzez jego umysł, a może jego duszę z różnymi refleksjami na temat własnej osoby i tego w którym z tych światów on czułby się najlepiej. Jego ciekawość świata i człowieka nigdy nie pozwoliły mu zatrzymać się tylko przy jednym autorze, czy epoce literackiej. Fascynacja człowiekiem i jego przetrwaniem w tym świecie pozwala mu odnajdować w sobie swój styl pisarski w różnych jego formach.
Ulubione miejsca: Santorini; Łazienki; Nowy Świat; Egipt; Pieniny; Paryż; Biały Kanion; mój dom; Empik; dzikie plaże i szum morza; Matchu Pichu; Wszechświat
Słabości: łóżko; zielona herbata; Bvlgari; Mozart; paszteciki barowe; czekolada; podróże w nieznane; mistrzostwa w piłce nożnej; konie; Facebook
Wierzy w: miłość; bezinteresowność; lojalność; wspaniałomyśność; szlachetność; samodzielne i niezależne myślenie; dziecko; uśmiech; poczucie humoru; sarkazm i szczypta czego innego
Odmawia: bycia częścią tłumu; zaprzestania jedzenia chrupiących bułeczek z masłem; braku tolerancji; głupocie; braku wiary w człowieka; niezwracania uwagi na piękno kobiecego kształtu; braku własnego rozwoju; zaprzestania bycia koneserem dobrej muzyki; walki z wiatrakami
Alice H. Mayer, Uncustomary Reviewer
Reedville, Virginia, USA
Tiny wife and caretaker of a giant fisherman, mother of a plump and laughing cherub, and reluctant servant to a dragon dog, she uses words both to escape the mundane and immortalize the everyday. An old soul self-conscious in her youth, an eternal child with a maternal instinct cultivated since childhood, her bookshelf tells the story of life, ranging from children’s picture books to teenage abandon in young adult literature; it revels in marriage, and contemplates healing, death, and Heaven. Her never-to-be-returned copy of Peter Pan makes her cry.
Favorite places: her back deck overlooking a quiet creek where eagles swoop, ospreys splash, and cormorants lunch; Colonial Williamsburg in the fall; the ever-elusive idea of home; empty theatres; the abandoned amphitheater on the water; anywhere along the Blue Ridge mountains; Matlacha Island (her honeymoon spot full of pink spoonbills, white ibises, and lemon sharks)
Weaknesses: baby tears; foreign accents; freshly baked anything; sincere apologies
Believes in: chivalry; faith in the face of skepticism; God, and to that end, being remade daily; good manners; double-dipping
Refuses to: count calories; visit a Hooter’s; stop dancing even though she’s bad at it; be forgotten; use the word “hubby”
Jared Dee, Uncustomary Reviewer
New Paltz, New York, USA
An on-again, off-again college student, he plans on becoming the world’s most handsome writer/accountant. He gets aggravated at people who compare movies to the books that they’re based off of, yet is a resounding hypocrite on the matter. He also overthinks everything he writes and will sometimes reread a singular email for up to twenty minutes before sending it. He wonders if anyone can begin to imagine how many times he read this paragraph before sending it to his editor. He doesn’t think so. Rest assured, it was a lot. He’s mostly kept sane by his consistently-supportive girlfriend, a good book on his night stand, and his determination to write and sell a novel before his ideas are inevitably thought of by someone else.
Favorite places: anywhere that has Guinness on tap
Weaknesses: redheads with Scottish accents; Pixar movies released before 2011; whispered rumors about George R.R. Martin’s The Winds of Winter; a perfectly grilled kebab
Believes in: the company of good friends; the usage of Jurassic Park quotes in everyday life; modern medicine; having dogs that are big enough to wrestle with
Refuses to: accept that I can never be Batman
Gaye Kelly, Uncustomary Reviewer
A trainer and lifelong learner, she’s a passionate believer in the power of learning as a means to overcoming social injustice. A lover of words, she’s learned the value of clear and simple expression. She’s driven by both love of family and of freedom, but sometimes wonders if this is a contradiction in terms. Wherever there is a just cause and a barricade, you will probably find her there.
Favorite places: rugged landscapes and hills (particularly in the West of Ireland); any street in Paris; quiet reading rooms
Weaknesses: hording papers and books; becoming indignant too easily
Believes in: the essential goodness of people; the power of individuals to make a difference
Refuses to: cease being indignant or stay quiet in the face of injustice
Viveca Mellegard, Uncustomary Reviewer
A nomad who wants to find home and put down roots but who is happy to live in the magical encounters with friends, family, and strangers in the meantime. Delighting in the flavour of words and the memories, sensations, and emotions they encode, she writes as though no one is going to read her work but secretly, she hopes that her efforts will resonate in hearts, near and far. She’s coming to realise that singing, dancing, and crafts are the fastest way to get the writing juices flowing, which finally give purpose to her collection of handmade notebooks and hoard of ink pens.
Favorite places: my childhood garden; picking blueberries during a Swedish summer; lost in a book
Weaknesses: good vanilla, pistachio, or coffee ice cream; beautiful teacups; letting go of people I love
Believes in: magic lurking just beneath the surface of ordinary life; the kindness of dogs; the power of a story to make everything ok again
Refuses to: let go of her dreams; eat anything from the fast food restaurant known for its golden arches; choose between two things she likes—why can’t it be both?