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Category: Celeste’s Reviews

Book Review: Rhythm of War (The Stormlight Archive, #4) by Brandon Sanderson

Book Review: Rhythm of War (The Stormlight Archive, #4) by Brandon Sanderson


Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 6 of 5 stars

Rhythm of War is hands down my favorite book of the year, and I’ve read some truly incredible books over the course of 2020. At the moment, it’s also my favorite fantasy book I’ve ever read. That title has been held by The Name of the Wind for over a decade, but in Rhythm of War Sanderson has usurped it.

Humans are a poem. A song.
For ones so soft, they are somehow strong.
For ones so varied, they are somehow intense.
For ones so lost, they are somehow determined.
For ones so confused, they are somehow brilliant.
For ones so tarnished, they are somehow bright.
Radiant.

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Book Review: Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Book Review: Anxious People by Fredrik Backman


Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was very much on the fence about picking up this book. I loved A Man Called Ove and Beartown, but I wasn’t sure I cared to read about a hostage drama. I’m so glad I took the plunge, because Anxious People was incredible. Brilliantly written. It doesn’t quite have the charm of A Man Called Ove or the emotional weight of Beartown, but it’s a pretty great marriage of both. The prose managed to be both amusing and deeply philosophical in the same sentence, which I found incredibly impressive.

“They say that a person’s personality is the sum of their experiences. But that isn’t true, at least not entirely, because if our past was all that defined us, we’d never be able to put up with ourselves. We need to be allowed to convince ourselves that we’re more than the mistakes we made yesterday. That we are all of our next choices, too, all of our tomorrows.”

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Book Review: Beyond the Point by Claire Gibson

Book Review: Beyond the Point by Claire Gibson


Beyond the Point by Claire Gibson
My rating: 6 of 5 stars

I’m not sure I can even express how wildly Beyond the Point surpassed my expectations, but I’m sure going to try. I’ve always had a lot of respect for our military, and for the people who sacrifice their time, dreams, bodies, and lives in its service. I also have a lot of empathy for the family of those who serve, as I can’t even begin to imagine how terrifying it must be to watch someone you love with your entire being fly into a war zone, and how insanely stressful it must be to wait and hope for their return. But this book has increased all of those feelings for me. Witnessing military life from the inside, from the perspectives of three girls as they graduate high school, attend West Point, and embark on their careers thereafter, made for a moving and eye-opening experience.

“Some wounds are invisible. It doesn’t mean they’re not real.”

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Book Review: Rose Madder by Stephen King

Book Review: Rose Madder by Stephen King


Rose Madder by Stephen King
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

This is one of those King books I honestly didn’t expect much from. It’s not one commonly listed as a favorite, or even mentioned that frequently from among his works. I can’t say I would’ve thought to pick it up had I not been so invested in the extended reading list for the Dark Tower. But it was next on that list, so I found myself a copy. Now I’m incredibly glad I picked it up. Though not perfect, Rose Madder is now one of my favorite King novels outside of The Stand and the main Dark Tower series. Talk about a protagonist you can root for.

“It ain’t the blows we’re dealt that matter, but the ones we survive.”

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Book Review: The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams

Book Review: The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams


The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

The Dictionary of Lost Words is a beautiful book. But I was not prepared for the levels of heartbreak that were going to be present. I kept having to put the book down to try to find my way back into a more positive headspace. Had I read the book in any other stage in my life, I think I would have been able to divorce myself more easily from it and enjoy it more. However, everyone knows this year has been horrendous, and for some reason I was just unable to cope with the relentless hard knocks suffered by the poor protagonist. There was something about the bright tone of the book that made those blows even more terrible, and that’s what kept the novel from being a five star read for me. It was emotionally draining.

“Words define us, they explain us, and, on occasion, they serve to control or isolate us. But what happens when words that are spoken are not recorded? What effect does that have on the speaker of those words?”

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Book Review: Tower of Mud and Straw by Yaroslav Barsukov

Book Review: Tower of Mud and Straw by Yaroslav Barsukov


Tower of Mud and Straw by Yaroslav Barsukov
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I received a galley of this book from the author via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

There’s something about the novella as an art form that is so different from its bookend siblings, the novel and the short story. Not as sharp and snappy as a short story, but without as much room for deep dives into development as novels, it can be a difficult and strangely unwieldy medium, for both author and audience. That being said, novellas can also pack an incredible amount of power into a scant few pages when done correctly. It’s a medium full of both promise and pitfalls. In the case of Tower of Mud and Straw, I think that the promise is that Barsukov himself shows a lot of promise as an author, and the main pitfall is the lack of development that would have deepened the story he penned.

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Book Review: The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Book Review: The Midnight Library by Matt Haig


The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices… Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?”

This is the premise of The Midnight Library, Matt Haig’s newest novel. I’ve never read anything by Haig before this book, but I can guarantee that this oversight will be addressed. Because The Midnight Library was wonderful. There’s incredible philosophical depth packed into relatively few pages. And for a book that begins with a suicide attempt, it ended up being surprisingly positive and uplifting. Not only is it a thoughtful novel, it inspired deep contemplation within the reader, but in a way that is comfortingly gentle for the times in which we’re living.

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Book Review: Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Book Review: Piranesi by Susanna Clarke


Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lovely. Odd, incredibly odd, but lovely both in spite of and due to the oddity. There’s an elegance to this book that feels like a rarity. For a novel that is less than 300 pages, Piranesi is quite the slow burn. The first half of this short book took me four days to read. Not that it was boring, mind you. It was meditative, inviting you as the reader to mull and ponder instead of racing forward to see what happens next. But then I read the second half in one sitting. When things finally picked up in the narrative, my attention never wavered.

“The Beauty of the House is immeasurable; its Kindness infinite.”

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Wizard and Glass by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Dark Tower has completely captured my heart and mind. I feel as though I am part of the gunslinger’s ka-tet, making the trek right along with them. And so far, it’s one of the most fulfilling literary journeys I’ve ever embarked upon. Wizard and Glass did nothing but reinforce that feeling.

“And now, all these years later, it seemed to him that the most horrible fact of human existence was that broken hearts mended.”

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Book Review: The Once and Future Witches, by Alix E. Harrow

Book Review: The Once and Future Witches, by Alix E. Harrow


The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’d like to thank the publisher (Orbit/Redhook) for gifting me an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. While I deeply appreciate the gift, the giving of it had no impact on the thoughts and opinions expressed below.

One witch you can laugh at. Three you can burn. But what do you do with a hundred?

The Ten Thousand Doors of January was my favorite book of 2019. I adored Harrow’s way with and respect for words and stories. The tale was such an ode to both that it made my heart feel as though it would burst. I kept having to pause periodically and close the book and my eyes so I could just soak in the exquisite prose. I wasn’t sure Harrow could ever again pen something quite that beautiful. But while I didn’t quite connect to her second novel as deeply as I did her first, I needn’t have worried. The Once and Future Witches is just as lovingly and impeccably crafted as Harrow’s incredible debut.

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