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Author: Celeste

Book Review: Black House (The Talisman, #2) by Stephen King and Peter Straub

Book Review: Black House (The Talisman, #2) by Stephen King and Peter Straub


Black House by Stephen King and Peter Straub
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For some reason, I wasn’t expecting much from Black House. While I really enjoyed The Talisman, the first novel in this duology, I feel like I’ve heard a good bit of negative commentary about this particular book in the past. Can I actually pinpoint any of said comments? Nope. Not a one. Maybe I was thinking about a different book. Because Black House was everything I should have expected: scary, moving, and vital to the Dark Tower.

“I must not be so bad if I have a friend like that.”

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Book Review: Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

Book Review: Ariadne by Jennifer Saint


Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Jennifer Saint penned a lovely, if depressing, novel in Ariadne. It will definitely appeal to the same audience that loved Madeline Miller’s Circe. However, there was some magic imbued into Miller’s work, some fierce beauty behind the pain, that wasn’t present in this novel. It felt like viewing a work of art through a fog instead of clear glass. While it was a very well written mythological retelling, I couldn’t quite love it.

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Book Review: Night Came with Many Stars by Simon Van Booy

Book Review: Night Came with Many Stars by Simon Van Booy


Night Came with Many Stars by Simon Van Booy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher, HighBridge Audio, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I had few expectations of Night Came with Many Stars when I received the ARC on NetGalley. It’s not a book that had been on my radar at all; I hadn’t heard it mentioned on any of the sites and podcasts I follow for book news. I was immediately and completely captivated by the prose. But that’s not to say that said prose outshone the story itself, which was equally engaging. I knew very little about this book going in, and was pleased to discover that it was actually a multi-generational family saga. However, it’s a family saga presented in a way that felt fresh and unique. I ended up loving everything about it, and am so thankful for whatever serendipity brought it to my attention.

The writing style, especially in the first few chapters, is breathtakingly pretty, and very unique. I was reminded of Where the Crawdads Sing, but only slightly. The further the story progressed, the more clearly original it revealed itself to be. The author employs some truly unique metaphors and similes that had me going back and rereading (and re-listening) to lines, just to get my head completely wrapped around the comparisons. Every single one of them worked, even though I would never have come up with them myself.

I love the juxtaposition in perspectives and time periods. Life was so radically different for a thirteen year-old girl in the 1930s than it was for a boy of the same age in the 80s. This is a fact that anyone would know if they took a moment to think about that scenario, but the back-to-back jumping between the two drove that truth home on a far deeper level.

I also loved how the author kept pace as he swapped between these two perspectives. We see Carol and Samuel alternatively at similar ages and stages of life, which just further drives home how different their lives were based on gender and time period. And yet there were some beautiful parallels, as well. I very much enjoyed watching both of them grow.

What makes a family? Does shared blood mean more or less than love developed over the course of years? Watching Carol slowly build herself a family without noticing, and watching Samuel grow to appreciate his own family more and more, was absolutely lovely. The side characters in this story were just a beautifully full of life as the main characters, with a couple of notable exceptions. I found anyone with a villainous role in the novel to be a bit two-dimensional, but even that decision served the story well. While I loved all of the supporting cast, I developed a serious soft spot for Eddie and Joe, in particular.

Night Came with Many Stars is a hopeful, beautifully written story with a lot of depth and even more heart. I didn’t expect to be adding it to my list of favorite books of the year, but that’s exactly where it landed. Also, I can’t recommend the audio version highly enough. I’ll definitely be buying myself a physical copy in the near future. This is a book that deserves a place on my favorites shelf.

You can purchase this book from: Blackwell’s | Bookshop.org (Support Independent Bookstores)Amazon US | Amazon UK | Audible | Libro.fm (Another way to support independent bookstores!) | Book Depository (Free shipping worldwide!)

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Book Review: The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

Book Review: The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly


The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I have always been fascinated by fairy tales. From an early age, any book I could find filled with fairy tales or fables, myths or legends or fables, immediately drew me in like a moth to flame. I have well over two dozen collections of such stories in my physical library, and I’m scared to even count those on my Kindle. Something about these stories, from the morals they attempt to convey to the questions they seek to answer. about the ways in which the world works, tells readers just as much about the society they come from as an historical text. And I’ve always had a soft spot for more modern tales inspired by these stories. Because of this, I’m not really sure why it took me so long to pick up The Book of Lost Things, but it was every bit as whimsical and melancholy and lovely as I hoped it would be. Some fairy tale retellings, or stories inspired in some way by fairy tales, can come across as too saccharine, but that was certainly not the case here. There was a charm to the story, for sure, but it was by no means sweet.

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Book Review: The World’s Wife by Carol Ann Duffy

Book Review: The World’s Wife by Carol Ann Duffy


The World’s Wife by Carol Ann Duffy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The World’s Wife is utterly fascinating. I’m not commonly a consumer of poetry, though I tend to enjoy it when I do think to pick it up. But this collection is unlike any poetry I’ve ever read. The theme here, peering into the minds of fictional, classical, historical women, often overshadowed by their more famous spouses, or gender-bent versions of famous male characters, is incredibly unique. And every single poem in the collection delivered something witty or clever. They made me think, which I think is one of the best compliments I could give this type of work. I’ve never reviewed a book of poetry before, so the thoughts below are a bit… untamed, if you will. So I’ll sum up my thoughts like this: if you’re looking to dip your toes into the waters of poetry and you happen to love fantastical stories with a strong female voice, The World’s Wife is the collection for you.

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Book Review: Revival Season by Monica West

Book Review: Revival Season by Monica West


Revival Season by Monica West
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Revival Season is not the kind of story I can read completely objectively. My faith is a huge part of my identity. I’m a Christian, and I’ve attended Baptist churches my entire life. When something is so integral to who you are, it’s difficult to remove yourself from a story that centers so profoundly around that trait or belief. And that was one of my biggest problems with this book. There were so many religious red flags that I wanted to take the whole fictional family to counseling. This was a twisted, maimed version of my faith staring back at me from the page, a funhouse reflection of what I believe.  I just wanted to look away.  I didn’t.  I finished the book.  But it was a struggle for me.

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Book Review: Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Book Review: Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty


Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nine Perfect Strangers was not a book I intended to pick up. The idea of a novel this long set at a health resort sounded tedious to me. But after seeing the trailer for the Hulu series, I found myself intrigued. I enjoyed another of Moriarty’s books, Big Little Lies, and it was also a story whose premise did nothing for me, so I decided to give Nine Perfect Strangers a try. I’m glad I did, because it ended up being one of the best non-fantasy novels I’ve read all year. I was honestly incredibly surprised by how much I ended up enjoying this book.

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Book Review: Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King

Book Review: Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King


Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I read this book and wrote big portions of this review while ill. So if it doesn’t make a ton of sense, that’s why. In my defense, the book made less and less sense as I read it, the stories flowing less effortlessly and feeling more forced. Which is common with King. Sticking the landing just isn’t his strength.

Out of all of the Stephen King books I’ve read, this one is by far the strangest, at least in terms of set-up. It’s not a novel, per se, nor is it a collection of short stories. These interconnected novellas become more and more dependent on one another as they progress, telling different facets of the same story in a way.

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Book Review: The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

Book Review: The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo


The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher, Tordotcom, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was immediately intrigued when I heard that a fantasy retelling of The Great Gatsby told from Jordan Baker’s perspective was in the works. I’ve always been fascinated by The Great Gatsby, both by the characters and Fitzgerald’s writing style. It’s not the most accessible of novels, despite its brevity, but there’s something magnetic about it, much as there is that same special magnetism surrounding the title character himself. I was very interested in seeing how these characters translated in the hands of another, with magic added to the mix. The author did a pretty great job capturing the tone and feel of the original while still making the story their own.

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Book Review: Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann

Book Review: Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann

Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann
My rating: 6 of 5 stars

The premise and cover of Olympus, Texas immediately grabbed my attention, but I wasn’t expecting anything earth-shattering. I figured I was in for an interesting story that would hopefully keep me engaged but which I would most likely forget about soon after. I was incredibly mistaken. It’s closing in on mid-June, and I can unequivocally say this is the best book I’ve read so far this year. And I started off the year with The Labyrinth of the Spirits, which blew my mind. I can’t believe I found this book even more impactful. Not only was the story excellent and the characters impeccably crafted, this book was a masterclass on the psychology of fictional beings who have been around for millennia without being this thoroughly exposed and explained. I feel like an entire college class could be taught on the Greek pantheon using Olympus, Texas as a textbook. It’s incredible, and it changed the way I think about stories I’ve known for decades.

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