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Conversations with Oscar Wilde: A Fictional Dialogue Based on Biographical Facts

Conversations with Oscar Wilde: A Fictional Dialogue Based on Biographical Facts

Conversations with Oscar Wilde: A Fictional Dialogue Based on Biographical Facts by Merlin Holland
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I received an electronic copy of this book via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

“Give a man a mask and he will tell you the truth.”

I’ve adored Oscar Wilde for most of my life. My parents used to buy my six Great Illustrated Classics every Christmas, and my favorite of these when I was about eight was The Picture of Dorian Gray. I can’t even count how many times I read that little abridged classic, but I would say that number is in the literal dozens. In fact, I loved it so much that I was afraid of reading the unabridged classic as an adult, for fear that it wouldn’t measure up to the book I had loved so much as a child. I couldn’t have been more wrong, while the illustrated classic of my childhood gave me the story, it didn’t deliver Wilde’s prose. I had no idea what I was missing. Today, Wilde’s original, unabridged novel is one of my very favorite classics I’ve ever read.

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The Silent Patient

The Silent Patient

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Her silence was like a mirror—reflecting yourself back at you. And it was often an ugly sight.”

I feel that the domestic noir mystery novel has become almost cliche at this point. After Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl took the world by storm, a multitude of others poured forth that followed the same formula, whether by chance or purposeful emulation. I would consider The Silent Patient part of the same genre, but refreshingly different from many of its compatriots. The setting, the narrator, and the twists all felt unique, and combined in a way that actually surprised me. I especially enjoyed the psychology element, and the way the author ensured that we could see mental health issues and therapy from the points of view of both patients and doctors. Also, I appreciated the inclusion of an Ancient Greek play, and its importance to the plot; this addition felt very cultured, and made me immediately interested in learning more about said play.

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A Brightness Long Ago

A Brightness Long Ago

A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received this book electronically via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

“I knew, once, a woman diamond bright and two men I will not forget. I played a part in a story in a fierce, wild, windblown time. I do have that. I always will. I am here and it is mine, for as near to always as we are allowed.”

This is only the second book I’ve read from Guy Gavriel Kay, but I feel secure in stating that I’ve never come across another author who has his way with words. There’s something about his prose that is both breathtakingly lovely and oddly jarring. In A Brightness Long Ago, Kay paints with his words, writing something that is lush and poignant and real enough to touch. This novel is somewhere between historical fiction and low fantasy, and Kay straddles that divide with great finesse.

“Perhaps it is true of every life, that times from our youth remain with us, even when the people are gone, even if many, many events have played out between where we are and what we are remembering.”

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The Troupe

The Troupe

The Troupe by Robert Jackson Bennett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“What I’m going to do up here, kid, is tell you a story. Like all stories, it’s an attempt to make sense of something larger than itself. And, like most stories, it fails, to a certain degree. It’s a gloss, a rendition, so it’s not exact. But it’ll do.”

I’m going to see Paranormal Cirque this weekend and am insanely excited. In anticipation, I picked up The Troupe. While not about a circus, it is about a vaudevillian troupe, which is similar in feel. And though not exactly in the horror genre, I know from experience with his Divine Cities trilogy that Robert Jackson Bennett often weaves horror elements into his novels, and he does so deftly. I’m so incredibly glad I picked up this book. Because as excited as I am about seeing Paranormal Cirque, I already know that The Troupe will stay with me longer than any performance could. It turned out to be an absolutely beautiful story, and I read the last sixty or so pages through a haze of tears.

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Othello

Othello

Othello by William Shakespeare
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yesterday I had a random hankering for some Shakespeare. Weird craving, I know, but it just hits me every once in a while. However, I feel like I can’t fully appreciate any of his work by simply reading it. So what I do is grab my giant collection of his plays, plug in either a film or dramatized audio version of whichever play I’ve chosen, and read along. Shakespeare never intended for his work to be read; it was written to be performed. Since it was a rainy afternoon, I could afford to devote three hours to simultaneously reading and listening to Othello, and it was by far the most I’ve ever enjoyed this particular play.

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Storm Cursed (Mercy Thompson, #11)

Storm Cursed (Mercy Thompson, #11)

Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher (Ace) in exchange for an honest review. While I’m incredibly thankful, all opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

I was ecstatic to receive a copy of this book. First of all, Briggs’s Mercy Thompson series served as my gateway into truly appreciating urban fantasy. I had previous exposure to the genre, having binge read many of the Anita Blake novels (until it devolved into nothing but orgy after orgy), a handful of the Black Dagger Brotherhood books, and the first five of Moning’s Fever series. While I enjoyed these books in the moment, I always viewed them as junk food, something to be consumed and forgotten, leaving nothing behind but a vague literary equivalent of a stomach ache from overindulgence.

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Rosemary’s Baby

Rosemary’s Baby

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Thanks, Mr. Levin. I hate it.

I had so many problems with this book. Because I feel the need to vent about said problems, there will be an abundance of spoilers in the review below. I’ll try to keep things as vague as possible, but yeah. Spoilers. If you’re unfamiliar with the story and have any desire to read it without prior knowledge, please skip reading this review.

You have been warned.

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Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians (Alcatraz, #1)

Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians (Alcatraz, #1)

Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Is anyone else hesitant to read a favorite author’s work outside of their usual genre? I’ve loved Brandon Sanderson for years, but I’ve been extremely reluctant to try his young adult or middle grade offerings. I know that he writes addictive, immersive adult fantasy and was afraid to find out if that carried over into other genres intended for radically different audiences. I shouldn’t have doubted him. Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians was my first foray into Sanderson’s middle grade books, and it definitely won’t be my last.

“If you don’t believe what I’m telling you, then ask yourself this: would any decent, kind-hearted individual become a writer? Of course not.”

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My Familiar Stranger (Knights of Black Swan, #1)

My Familiar Stranger (Knights of Black Swan, #1)

My Familiar Stranger by Victoria Danann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is not a book I would have ever picked up on my own. First of all, the cover just was not appealing to me. It’s a chick’s face. There is wind coming from somewhere, blowing said chick’s hair across her face. She would probably benefit from a hair tie or a headband. And that’s all there is to the cover. Bland, right? Also, it sounded like a really weird blend of commonly used tropes, such as the combination of vampire hunters and inter-dimensional travel. Furthermore, it involves one of my least favorite tropes: the dreaded love triangle, or in this case, a love square.

So, if I was so opposed to various aspects of this book, why on earth did I pick it up? Because my mom told me to.

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Daisy Jones and the Six

Daisy Jones and the Six

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I didn’t think this book was going to work for me. I read the first 40 or so pages and just couldn’t get past the awkward formatting. Which made me incredibly sad, because music means the world to me and I was raised on classic rock. Before I wrote it off, I decided to give the audiobook a try. I’m so glad I did, because it’s now among my favorite audiobooks I’ve ever experienced. Because it definitely was an experience. It blows my mind that Daisy Jones isn’t a real icon of the Seventies, that The Six isn’t a real band whose back catalogue I can dig into now that I’ve gotten to know them. How Reid was able to create characters and a band dynamic that felt so real blows my mind. This is a book that was meant to be heard, with an amazingly talented and talented vocal cast.

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