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Author: Celeste

Book Review: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Book Review: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls


The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I’ve discovered that I have a thing for memoirs about wild, unbelievably difficult childhoods and the children who grow up to overcome them. Educated was one of my favorite books of 2019, and I quite honestly didn’t expect to find anything else in its genre to rival it, especially not so soon. The Glass Castle, which is kind of the OG of the rough childhood, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps type of memoir, proved to be just as compelling as Educated. I don’t know why I put off reading it for so long, as I’ve owned a copy for years. Whatever led to that wait, I’m so glad that the wait is over. The Glass Castle was brilliant and beautiful and made me incredibly thankful for the type of upbringing I had and the (very stable) parents who raised me.

“I lived in a world that at any moment could erupt into fire. It was the sort of knowledge that kept you on your toes.”

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Book Review: The Bard’s Blade (The Sorcerer’s Song)

Book Review: The Bard’s Blade (The Sorcerer’s Song)


The Bard’s Blade by Brian D. Anderson
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

“Fate often provides what we need, even when we are denied the things we want.”

When three of your co-bloggers insist that you’ll love a book, you have to read it. Especially when those friends know your reading life incredibly well and understand your love for music, both in literature and reality. And while I didn’t fall as head-over-heels for the story as they did, they were right; I very much enjoyed it. The Bard’s Blade is a compelling introduction to a world that’s lovely at first glance but is teeming with dark forces and hypocritical religion and unforeseen magic below its surface.

“Never allow the wickedness of others to dictate who you are.”

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Book Review: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

Book Review: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara


I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I’ve heard amazing things about I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer. One of my resolutions for 2020 is to read more nonfiction that I find interesting, and true crime is a topic that is endlessly fascinating to me. I expected to be caught up in the chase for an elusive killer. What I didn’t expect was breathtaking, engaging prose dripping with compassion and empathy for the victims. Beautifully written and deeply insightful, this book was an experience unlike any other I’ve yet found in the genre.

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Book Review: The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Book Review: The Secret History by Donna Tartt


The Secret History by Donna Tartt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Secret History is one of those books that I’ve been meaning to read forever. According to my Kindle account, I purchased a copy more than five years ago; somehow, I just never got around to reading it. It’s one of those books that sounds so perfect for me that I’m afraid to read it for fear of it failing to meet the irrationally high expectations I have for it. When my co-blogger Emma informed me that it was one of her favorite books ever, I decided to take the plunge. I’m so glad I did. Far from failing to meet my absurd expectations, The Secret History blew them out of the water and is now happily ensconced on my favorites shelf.

“Beauty is terror. Whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it. And what could be more terrifying and beautiful, to souls like the Greeks or our own, than to lose control completely?”

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Book Review: Rotherweird (Rotherweird, #1)

Book Review: Rotherweird (Rotherweird, #1)


Rotherweird by Andrew Caldecott
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rotherweird is a book that’s been on my radar for a while. The cover is incredibly eye-catching. The premise is unique and intriguing, and the story proved to be just that. I can honestly say that I’ve never encountered a setting quite like it. By turns charming and almost sinister, Rotherweird hides deep secrets and a dark past that is utterly unknown to any of its residents. When outsiders, one in the form of a bumbling history teacher and the other in the guise of a wealthy lord who has just purchased the rundown Manor, elbow their ways into Rotherweird and start asking questions, the town faces unpredictable threats and must be protected by some of the area’s most unusual citizens.

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Book Review: The Overneath by Peter S. Beagle

Book Review: The Overneath by Peter S. Beagle


The Overneath by Peter S. Beagle
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

If I had to choose one word to describe Beagle’s writing, I think I’d have to break the rule and use two: melancholy whimsy. He is absolutely brilliant at mingling the lovely and imaginative with the quietly heartbreaking. Before picking up this collection, I had only read two books by him: The Last Unicorn and Summerlong. I thought that The Last Unicorn was achingly lovely, and I completely get why it’s considered such a foundational classic of the fantasy genre and why it is so beloved by some of my favorite authors. Summerlong, on the other hand, fell flat for me, but I’m beginning to think the reason behind that lack of connection was my reading it in the wrong mindset and with impossible expectations. Both are books I plan to revisit, the first to see if my appreciation for it has changed, and the second to find out if reading it at the wrong time could be why I didn’t enjoy it more.

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Celeste’s Top 20 Books of the Year (2019)

Celeste’s Top 20 Books of the Year (2019)

The featured image above was specifically designed by Felix Ortiz for Novel Notions’ Top 20 Lists.


If you’d like to see more stats about my reading year, click here.

The literary world was kind to me this year.  In 2019, I read over 115 books, and a ton of those have been 4 or 5 star reads. It was incredibly difficult to narrow my list down to my top 20 books, but I finally managed it. There will be a handful of honorable mentions at the end of this post, for those I just couldn’t bare to not include. I’m taking a page from Petrik and following three rules for my list:

1. Only one book per author.
2. Rereads don’t count.
3. The books were new to me, but didn’t have to be published this year.

For the first time, I’m ranking my reads for the entire year. That being said, every single book on this list was a 4.5 or 5 star read and I highly recommend them all.  You can view my full review of each book (including the honorable mentions) by clicking the link in each title.  And now, without further ado, here are my favorite books of 2019.

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Book Review: The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

Book Review: The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes


The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I was so hesitant to pick up this book. I’ve only read one other book by Moyes, Me Before You, and was absolutely infuriated by it. Not because it was a bad book, mind you; on the contrary, it was incredibly compelling and introduced some characters for whom I came to care deeply. But I felt so emotionally manipulated by the ending that I seriously considered burning my copy. I didn’t, because I consider book burning akin to sacrilege, but in my opinion the ending that Moyes chose to go with felt like it was chosen not because it served the plot, but because it was shocking and memorable. I hated it with my entire being. I don’t believe myself to be a reader who demands happy endings, but the final scenes of Me Before You felt like a right hook when I was expecting a warm handshake or something of the sort.

“… some things are a gift, even if you don’t get to keep them.”

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Book Review: Come Tumbling Down (Wayward Children, #5)

Book Review: Come Tumbling Down (Wayward Children, #5)

Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher (Tor.com) in exchange for an honest review.

Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children novellas have quickly become one of my yearly highlights. I love having them to look forward to. I’ve been eagerly anticipating Come Tumbling Down since I read the final page of In An Absent Dream this past January. While I didn’t adore it as much as I have some of the previous installments, Come Tumbling Down is a fast-paced return adventure spanning two of McGuire’s worlds that I’ve come to love in recent years. It was an action-packed read that had me flying through its pages in one sitting.

“…the fact that I’ve been damaged doesn’t make me broken…”

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Book Review: Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children, #2)

Book Review: Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children, #2)


Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Some adventures being easily.

It is not hard, after all, to be sucked up by a tornado or pushed through a particularly porous mirror; there is no skill involved in being swept away by a great wave or pulled down a rabbit hole. Some adventures require nothing more than a willing heart and the ability to trip over the cracks in the world.

Other adventures must be committed to before they have even properly begun. How else will they know the worthy from the unworthy, if they do not require a certain amount of effort on the part of the ones who would undertake them? Some adventures are cruel, because it is the only way they know to be kind.

Portal fantasy is among my favorite things, and Seanan McGuire excels at creating new realms. This book was just as good as Every Heart a Doorway, and yet managed to be completely different in tone and the method in which the story was told. This is the story of Jack and Jill, the identical twins from Every Heart a Doorway, before they were cast back through their door and relegated to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. The novella can be viewed as a prequel or a standalone story in the same series. It should most certainly be read, because it has much to say in its less-than-two-hundred pages.

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