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Author: Celeste

Book Review: The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next, #1)

Book Review: The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next, #1)


The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

This entire series has my name written all over it. A plucky, intelligent heroine. Literary references galore. Dry, sharp British humor. An alternate history where every single British citizen is obsessed with the written word to the point of religious zeal. Tongue-in-cheek character names that fit their eponymous charges perfectly. The essential involvement of one of my very favorite classics, Jane Eyre. And yet, for some reason, The Eyre Affair fell a bit flat for me. I still enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it as much as I had hoped. However, my hope is that my reading mood will have shifted by the time I continue with the series, and that Thursday’s series will become one of my favorites. It deserves to be.

“Take no heed of her…. She reads a lot of books.”

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Book Review: The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, by Ken Liu

Book Review: The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, by Ken Liu


The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I chose to read The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories solely for the title story, which is one of Petrik’s most beloved short stories he’s ever read. Thankfully, Ken Liu proved to be an astonishingly gifted writer. I’ve heard his work referred to as graceful, and I can’t think of a more apt description. The man has a marvelous way with words. You can tell that every single sentence was crafted with care. This collection of stories is unlike anything else I’ve ever read in my life. While I didn’t love every single story, those I did love had a profound effect on me, and I honestly believe that I will still be thinking about them for months, if not years, to come. Below are my (very random) thoughts on each story. I’ve left said thoughts in their raw state. While I wanted to share quotes from the stories themselves, I highlighted far too many to sift through. I highly recommend this collection if you want something that will make you think deeply and treat others with greater kindness. More of Liu’s work is definitely in my future.

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Book Review: City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert

Book Review: City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert


City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I don’t know why I decided to pick up City of Girls. Historical fiction isn’t one of my go-to genres. I don’t care all that much about fashion. I’ve never read anything by Elizabeth Gilbert. But something drew me to this book and I decided to give it a whirl because I was in the mood for something outside of my norm. Thankfully, I thoroughly enjoyed myself while reading it. City of Girls was definitely delivered the “something different” I was craving.

“You must learn in life to take things more lightly, my dear. The world is always changing. Learn how to allow for it.”

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Book Review: Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold (Stephen Fry’s Great Mythology, #1)

Book Review: Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold (Stephen Fry’s Great Mythology, #1)


Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold by Stephen Fry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mythos is practically perfect in every way.

I’ve adored Greek mythology since I was a child. I’ve also always been utterly charmed by Stephen Fry. The combination of these two things was an absolute delight. Fry’s writing is a perfect marriage of class and sass, and he gives the original source material tremendous respect while never taking those sources or himself too seriously. Take this line, for instance:

“Gaia visited her daughter Mnemosyne, who was busy being unpronounceable.”

Isn’t that just the right mix of informative and snarky? And the amount of word origin Fry included in this book was absolutely perfect. I learned tons of fun facts to share with friends and family but was never inundated to the point of boredom.

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Book Review: One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Book Review: One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid


One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

One True Loves wrecked me in the very best way. I loved Daisy Jones and The Six, but I wasn’t sure if any other books from Taylor Jenkins Reid would click with me, since I picked up the aforementioned book solely because it was about musicians. I am so very happy that I was wrong. There’s just something about the way Reid writes that entrances me. I don’t know what drew me to this particular book, because that cover looks like it houses a light, fluffy romance, which is exactly the opposite of what I’m currently craving in my reading life. While there is a lot of sweetness, there was nothing light and fluffy about this story, and I’m so very glad I read it.

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Book Review: Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bourdain

Book Review: Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bourdain


Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am not, nor have I ever been, a foodie. I wish I was. I wish I had a more adventurous palette that loved encountering new things. But alas, such is not my lot in life. However, I’ve always loved cooking shows and food-based travelogues for reasons that honestly elude me. I still remember watching Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations on the Travel Channel when I was in high school and losing myself in daydreams of exotic locales and finding my way off of their beaten paths and into locals-only areas. I thought Bourdain had one of the most fascinating jobs on the planet. Because of this, I was intrigued by his early life and decided to read my first ever foodie memoir about how he got started in the business.

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Book Review: The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead

Book Review: The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead


The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I so wanted to like this book. I appreciate and respect it, but it left me cold.

The enslavement of African Americans in the United States and the horrific ways in which they were treated is one of the two most heinous sins (alongside our treatment of Native Americans) in our national past. I have never been able to fathom how people could treat others as less than human over such a minor difference as skin color. And the fact that these slave owners viewed themselves as good and kind and “Christian” is one of the most appalling and ludicrous things I’ve ever heard. The systematic oppression and abuse of any subset of humanity, whether they are set apart by gender or religion or sexuality or something as simple as a different pigmentation, is so opposed to the teachings of Jesus that I am baffled by how anyone who considers themselves to be one of His followers can possibly rationalize it.

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Book Review: Golden In Death (In Death, #50)

Book Review: Golden In Death (In Death, #50)


Golden in Death by J.D. Robb
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

I think I let my expectations run a little too wild in regards to this book. Because it’s book 50 (which is crazy, right?!) in a series, I was anticipating something mind-blowing for this installment; instead, I got fairly run-of-the-mill. And I’m so disappointed about it. In case you didn’t know, I absolutely adore Nora Roberts. She’s my ultimate comfort read. I’ve read literally everything she’s written, and I can’t think of another author so prolific (she’s written well over 200 books) that I can say that about. There’s something about her books that feels like coming home from the very first page. This is doubly true for the In Death series. Following the same characters through FIFTY books is a wild experience. Eve and Roarke and Peabody and so many others feel like members of my family that I get to catch up with a couple of times a year. If I’m being honest, these characters often feel more real to me than real people in my life. Or at least, they usually do.

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Book Review: Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Book Review: Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata


Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can’t remember the last time I read a book from cover to cover in a single sitting. I found Convenience Store Woman such a compelling mix of heartbreaking and enraging and delightful. Keiko Furukura is a woman in her late thirties who is completely fulfilled by her part-time job as a convenience store worker. However, everyone in her life is deeply concerned by the fact that she has no relationship to speak of, much less a marriage, and no real career. Keiko isn’t quite normal and, though she tries her best to mimic those she believes she should emulate, it never seems to be enough.

“You eliminate the parts of your life that others find strange–maybe that’s what everyone means when they say they want to ‘cure” me.”

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Book Review: The Shadow of What Was Lost (The Licanius Trilogy, #1)

Book Review: The Shadow of What Was Lost (The Licanius Trilogy, #1)


The Shadow of What Was Lost by James Islington
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Shadow of What Was Lost is one of those books that has been sitting on my shelf for years. Islington is an author highly recommended not only to Sanderson fans but by Sanderson himself, so I picked it up on Kindle when it was still self-published and ended up purchasing physical copies of the entire Licanius trilogy before ever reading the first page. Not the smartest way to buy your books, I grant you, but it worked out this time! The Shadow of What Was Lost is a throwback to classic fantasy in the very best way. There’s a brightness and coziness to it even when the plot goes in dark directions. The characters and tropes are comfortably familiar without ever feeling derivative or tired. Best of all, Islington manages to take these tropes and characters and do some shockingly original things with them. I’ve heard this trilogy called ambitious and risky and, by the end of this first book, I could definitely see some of that ambition.

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