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Author: Celeste

Book Review: Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader

Book Review: Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reading a book about books are among the coziest experiences a bookworm can have, in my opinion. Even if you don’t share all or many or any of the author’s views on books at all, there’s something about the knowledge that this person took the time to write an entire book for the soul purpose of expressing their fervent love for the medium that produces instant camaraderie between writer and reader.

“I have never been able to resist a book about books.”

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Book Review: The Dry (Aaron Fawk, #1)

Book Review: The Dry (Aaron Fawk, #1)

The Dry by Jane Harper
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

If I were asked to describe this book in one word, I would reply with a single syllable: meh. The Dry is a lauded debut with a respectably high rating, but I was obviously missing something. It wasn’t a bad book, I just couldn’t quite manage to connect.

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Doctor Sleep (The Shining, #2)

Doctor Sleep (The Shining, #2)

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Revisiting a famed story over 35 years after its original publication has to be terrifying for any author, even the King of Horror. However, King handled this with great aplomb and, though I was skeptical in the beginning, I feel that he did right by Dan Torrence. In his author’s note King said that this story spawned from two questions: “Whatever happened to that kid from The Shining?” and “What would have happened to Danny’s troubled father if he had found Alcoholics Anonymous instead of trying to get by with what people in AA called “white-knuckle sobriety”?” Through Doctor Sleep, we get answers to both of these questions, but with Danny himself standing in for Jack Torrence in the alcohol department.

“There are other worlds than these.”

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Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

Educated by Tara Westover
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Tara Westover’s Educated is a case of truth being stranger than fiction. I seldom read nonfiction because I often have a hard time connecting to a book if it doesn’t have a compelling story to tell, and will find myself fighting boredom and finally abandoning the book. That was never a danger with Educated. Westover’s memoir is horrifying and poignant and powerful, and it captivated me in a way that few books outside the fantasy genre have. It’s a story that I can’t stop thinking about, and I truly believe that it will stay with me for a long time to come. It also made me insanely thankful for my family and upbringing, my freedom and education.

“My life was narrated for me by others. Their voices were forceful, emphatic, absolute. It had never occurred to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs.”

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Celeste’s Top 10 Books of the Year so Far (January 1st, 2019-June 30th, 2019)

Celeste’s Top 10 Books of the Year so Far (January 1st, 2019-June 30th, 2019)

The featured image above was specifically designed by Felix Ortiz for Novel Notions’ Top 10 Lists. His work is amazing, and we feel incredibly fortunate to have been favored with it. Thank you so much, Felix!

So far, 2019 has been an incredible reading year for me. Between January 1st and June 30th I read right around 60 books, and have found a number of new favorites. It was incredibly difficult to narrow my list down to ten 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. That being said, every single book on this list was a 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 the past six months.

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Novel Notions Classics Club reads: Jane Eyre

Novel Notions Classics Club reads: Jane Eyre

Isn’t it amazing how much smaller the internet has made our world? This little blog, started a bit over a year ago, has become a shared home for readers from Indonesia, Malaysia, France, the UK, and the United States. The ladies of the blog have decided to start a cyber book club, reading through the classics together. This book, Jane Eyre, was our inaugural selection. Whether the novel was new to us or a favorite we were revisiting, it was a wonderful experience to share. Here are some of our thoughts on what we read:

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Last Argument of Kings (The First Law, #3)

Last Argument of Kings (The First Law, #3)

Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve read some dark stuff in my life, but I believe that Last Argument of Kings is the bleakest, most brutal book I’ve read, ever. Joe Abercrombie undoubtedly earned his title as the King of Grimdark. If it wasn’t for the humor Abercrombie had been deftly layering into the story since The Blade Itself, I don’t know that I could’ve finished this final installment. I joked with my fellow Novel Notions bloggers that I felt like I needed to bathe in kittens and rainbows when I read the last pages, and that honestly wasn’t far from the truth. I started half a dozen or more books in the aftermath of this book, only to put them down again because they weren’t bright enough. I finally settled on rereading a Nora Roberts trilogy that I’ve read over and over since my teenage years. Nora’s charming descriptions of Ireland could not be further removed from the Union and the North as Abercrombie detailed them.

“I have learned all kinds of things from my many mistakes. The one thing I never learn is to stop making them.”

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Recursion by Blake Crouch

Recursion by Blake Crouch

Recursion by Blake Crouch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m so amazed by Blake Crouch. With Dark Matter, he enthralled the reading world with a wild plot and breakneck action. With Recursion, he proves that Dark Matter wasn’t a fluke. Crouch delivered a level of intensity that I’ve rarely encountered in the written word via a fascinating, disturbing premise. More surprisingly, he crafted a romance unlike any I’ve ever read. After reading Recursion, Crouch has become an insta-buy sci-fi author for me.

“Nothing can be controlled. Only endured.”

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UR by Stephen King

UR by Stephen King

UR by Stephen King
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I don’t know that I’ve ever yearned from something as terrifying as Wesley’s pink Kindle.

“A crazy certainty had arisen in his mind: a hand – or perhaps a claw – was going to swim up from the grayness of the Kindle’s screen, grab him by the throat, and yank him in.”

Imagine a world ten years in the past. Electronic books and e-readers are just beginning to take the world by storm. Wesley Smith is a college English literature professor who, after a nasty breakup partially over his distaste for the new trend of reading on a device, has decided to bite the bullet and purchase his first ever Kindle from Amazon. It arrives sooner than it should, sans instructions and sporting an odd pink color instead of the white of all other Kindles. Also unusual is the fact that, under the ‘Experimental’ section is a handful of subsections called Urs. Ur is evidently representative of alternate realities in which authors lived longer or died younger, attached themselves to different genres or penned more and greater works than are present in our reality. If this doesn’t sound like an incredible and awe-inspiring addition to the Kindle store, you and I view the world very differently.

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One Word Kill (Impossible Times, #1)

One Word Kill (Impossible Times, #1)

One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

One Word Kill is my first experience with Lawrence’s science fiction and, while it didn’t resonate with my soul as deeply as his Book of the Ancestor, it was a solid, fun, fast-paced read that I very much enjoyed. Here we have a nerdy group of friends, similar in dynamic to the crew that has taken the world by storm in Netflix’s Stranger Things. This group finds themselves facing external strife through contact with a plot that could have come straight from the pages of Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter. But just as harrowing is their internal turmoil as they learn that one of their number is currently in a battle for his life against the grimmest of foes: cancer.

In hospital they ask you to rate your discomfort on a scale of ten. I guess it’s the best they can come up with, but it fails to capture the nature of the beast. Pain can stay the same while you change around it. And, like a thumb of constant size, what it blocks out depends on how close it gets to you. At arm’s length a thumb obscures a small fragment of the day. Held close enough to your eye it can blind you to everything that matters, relegating the world to a periphery.

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