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Author: Celeste

Book Review: Valentine, by Elizabeth Wetmore

Book Review: Valentine, by Elizabeth Wetmore


Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore
My rating: 6 of 5 stars

Valentine is absolutely gorgeous. The writing is so vivid and transporting that I felt like I indwelled each character during their prospective chapters. It’s also one of the most tragic, heartbreaking stories I’ve read in a very long time. My heart almost physically ached during my time reading this book. But most of all, Valentine is immensely powerful. It proclaims an almost rebellious resilience in the face of heinous adversity that is fiercely and unequivocally feminist, and I felt impacted by it at a soul-deep level.

“Mercy is hard in a place like this…”

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Book Review: The Talisman, by Stephen King and Peter Straub

Book Review: The Talisman, by Stephen King and Peter Straub


The Talisman by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been reading a lot of King lately. Very rarely do I binge read a particular author. I feel the need to mix things up in my reading life or I find myself burned out and unable to appreciate a book I should love because I’ve consumed too much of the same thing in a row. I might love pizza, but I would find it far less palatable if I had to eat it for every meal. I feel the same way about my literary diet. So I’m a readerly butterfly, flitting from author to author and genre to genre as they grab my attention. However, this is my fourth King novel in a row, and it’s the fourth in a row I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. I think that’s because each of these four novels, whether King penned them alone or with the aid of a co-author as with this book, vary drastically from everything else I’ve read by him. And yet what makes them so incredible is the way they tie into each other and refer back to things King wrote before them and foreshadow books he would write after.

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Book Review: The Eyes of the Dragon, by Stephen King

Book Review: The Eyes of the Dragon, by Stephen King


The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Eyes of the Dragon is billed as both King’s only high fantasy and his only novel that could be classified as a children’s book. I wasn’t sure how successful he’d be with either of those things, but now I really wish he would write more of both. This book so radically exceeded my expectations that, even though I’ve come to passionately love King’s work, I couldn’t help but be surprised. I loved everything about this, and it’s the first King novel I’ve ever read that I could comfortably recommend to literally anyone of any age.

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Book Review: The Drawing of the Three (The Dark Tower, #2)

Book Review: The Drawing of the Three (The Dark Tower, #2)


The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved everything about this book. I’m not really sure why I’m surprised by this, but I am. I expected to like The Drawing of the Three in the same way that I liked The Gunslinger, but I love it with the same ferocity I do The Stand. It is, in my opinion, the most powerful and successful entry into the portal fantasy subgenre since C.S. Lewis penned The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Yes, it’s really that good.

“Because the difference between seeing and not seeing can be the difference between living and dying.”

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Book Review: My Dark Vanessa, by Kate Elizabeth Russell

Book Review: My Dark Vanessa, by Kate Elizabeth Russell


My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I was so disturbed by this book. My Dark Vanessa is incredibly thought-provoking and raises a ton of great questions. I’m glad that I read it. And I’ll never read it again. (Side note: Everything being explored in this review is pretty much referenced in the book’s synopsis, so I don’t think I’m spoiling anything. But if you want to go into this book truly blind, you might want to skip this review.)

“To be groomed is to be loved and handled like a precious, delicate thing.”

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Book Review: The Sisters of the Winter Wood

Book Review: The Sisters of the Winter Wood


The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Sisters of the Winter Wood was incredibly promising. It’s a heavily Jewish book with lovely fantasy overtones. There are shapeshifters and mysterious newcomers peddling forbidden fruit and a deeply atmospheric forest, as well as a central sibling relationship and deep religious questions to ponder. It sounded made for me. So made for me that I ignored the fact that it’s YA. I should’ve known better. While I enjoyed the plot and the structure, the usual YA all-consuming romances and the characters’ inner struggles with coming to know and accept themselves were cloyingly overabundant and negatively impacted my reading experience. However, I feel like this is on me, not the book. I should know by now that YA usually doesn’t work for me. I was almost as disappointed by this book as I was by Uprooted, which I think is comparable in setting and atmosphere.

“To love means to sacrifice everything that you are.”

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Book Review: The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower, #1)

Book Review: The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower, #1)


The Gunslinger by Stephen King
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.”

So begins what Stephen King considers his magnum opus, The Dark Tower. The line above is among the most well known opening lines in modern literature, and it perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the short novel. This first installment, The Gunslinger, is the only book in the series I’ve read before, and I knew I needed a refresher before I dove any deeper into The Dark Tower. While The Gunslinger isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, with areas that drag and a last quarter that goes too hazily ephemeral to maintain an emotional connection, it’s a fun and very original introduction into what I’ve heard is an incredibly powerful and unique series.

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Book Review: The Hunger, by Alma Katsu

Book Review: The Hunger, by Alma Katsu


The Hunger by Alma Katsu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Readers know how this book will end before even starting the first chapter. After all, the Donner Party is one of the most famous factual examples of cannibalism in the Western world. If you’re reading a book about the Donner Party, you know without a doubt that things aren’t going to end well. No matter how these characters strive toward their goal, you know most of them will not only not make it to the end, they will end up being eaten by the members of the party who remain. Because of this, every page of Alma Katsu’s The Hunger ratchets up the tension and unease as you close in on the inevitable outcome.

“Evil was invisible, and it was everywhere.”

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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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