Book Reviews

In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children, #4) by Seanan McGuire

In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children, #4)  by Seanan McGuire (.jpg

Rating: 🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁

Seanan McGuire is a wise goddamn writer and I don’t know where her soul gleans the emotional energy to keep producing these heartfelt stories.

In An Absent Dream is Book 4 in the Wayward Children series, but it can definitely be read first if you wanted to.

The main character, Lundy, is someone I can’t even remember from Book 1, but it is definitely worth it to visit her door because it is so unique.

The series is about kids who walk through magical doors, or portals (a la Narnia, Wonderland, Fillory, etc). The worlds they walk into are uniquely attuned to their deepest essences as humans, pointing to what feels like home, more than home ever did. But the types of worlds can be categorized in a spectrum between: wicked, logic, virtue and nonsense. (Check out the clever little chart up on Tor’s website: https://www.tor.com/2019/01/16/all-the-known-portal-worlds-of-seanan-mcguires-wayward-children-series-updated/ )

Lundy’s Goblin Market is the first high logic world we’re introduced to, meaning that it isn’t so over-the-top fantastical like the typical fairyland portal you see in books and movies everywhere.

The Market is governed by strict rules of fairness and logic that are both instinctual, yet not so straightforward that one can completely understand them 100% of the time. Fairness and the careful balancing of scales are of the utmost importance.

It’s strange, throughout the series I’ve always felt like the high logic worlds would be stifling and boring, yet with every new book it’s like “THIS!!! THIS IS MY DOOR!!!…” until the next book comes around. You might just feel the same way.

With the Goblin Market it’s as if Seanan McGuire had her hand RIGHT on the pulse of human rights injustices in our world in the last few years, and translated it into a story that could make anyone better understand just how illogical our own world is.

Highly recommended if you like fantasy, portal fiction, if you’ve followed the series this far, or if you’d like to read about a world where injustice is taken seriously, and fairness actually matters.

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Book Reviews

The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) by Holly Black

The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) by Holly Black

Rating: 🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁

The Wicked King is a tad shorter than The Cruel Prince and it is also nowhere near as heart-wrenching and thrilling, but the story is no less intriguing and infuriating because you always know that something awful is going to happen but there’s no way to know until it’s already happening.

The Wicked King focuses on Jude as a badass character who will so not take any shit from anyone, that she ends up distancing herself from absolutely everyone. If literally ANYONE else in the Isles were telling the story, she would most definitely be the villain in their telling. 

This volume also includes a tiny bit more romance than the previous one (and it’s steamy this time). 

If you read and enjoyed The Cruel Prince, there’s no reason not to read this. Definitely recommended. 

I really hope the next book tears through the depths of my soul like the first one did. This one didn’t quite hit the mark. 

Book Reviews

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Spinning Silver by Naomi NovikRating: 🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁

Every blurb mentions how Spinning Silver is inspired by Rumpelstiltskin but frankly that’s an awful comparison and not one I would use to entice you to read this book, so forget about it right away. This is NOT a fairytale retelling. 

Spinning Silver is told from the perspectives of a few characters, but the main ones are three young heroines who display an admirable level of bravery and wisdom, unmatched by anyone else in their surroundings. Naomi Novik is a great writer and it’s interesting how she switches perspectives without outright naming the character (like in Game of Thrones), but you still know exactly who is talking at the time. 

Miryem, the main (and most entertaining) character, is quite cunning and naturally (magically?) skilled in producing and multiplying her family’s wealth. Almost like she can SPIN. SILVER. out of thin air. She goes through the world making advantageous exchanges for the utmost profit, and is someone whose language you have to pay close attention to. She will find the loopholes in everything and her ability to solve problems through smart wordplay instead of through violence or intrigue is a refreshing skill to see in fantasy. 

Miryem’s home is surrounded by magical woods populated by cold oppressive creatures known as the Staryk, who terrorize and starve the humans through never-ending winters. Miryem’s money-multiplying ability quickly catches the Staryk’s attention, and that’s when this book becomes super interesting. 

While I absolutely loved this book and couldn’t put it down for about 4/5ths of it, somewhere near the end I lost interest because the perspectives of the characters switch too often, and as a result, the chronological order is briefly derailed. We lose track of Miryem for longer than I would’ve liked, but in the end it’s all worth it. 

I would recommend this to: people who want intelligent fantasy that isn’t awfully jargony, readers looking for a nice, thick standalone book to last them many nights, people who don’t mind stories told from the perspectives of multiple characters, and fans of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted. 

Book Reviews

Hilda and the Stone Forest (Hilda #5) by Luke Pearson

Hilda and the Stone Forest (Hilda #5) by Luke Pearson

Rating: 🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁

Excitingly, this installment of Hilda veers completely away from the Netflix show! It shows us TONS more of the relationship with her mom, plus all the adventures with magical creatures that Hilda is still somehow able to find within the walls of Trolberg.

This volume ends in a very peculiar and supernatural cliffhanger that I never would’ve seen coming, and I can’t wait until the next one comes out! It has a strong nostalgic feel of dark European fantasy cartoons from when I was little. 

Book Reviews

Van Gogh: The Life by Steven Naifeh, Gregory White Smith

Van Gogh- The Life by Steven Naifeh,  Gregory White Smith.jpgRating: 🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁

The title of this book is a bit misleading. More than just “The Life”, this book is more like “Literally Every Single Day in the Life of Vincent Van Gogh”. 

I am floored by how much information exists on this man, and it’s no wonder this endeavor took a whole decade for the authors to complete. 

One fact is clear though, if you are thinking about reading this to learn more about his artwork, STOP. RIGHT. THERE. The many members of the Van Gogh family were used to sending letters to each other on a regular basis, sometimes multiple times a week, and in Vincent’s case, even multiple times a day. Because of these letters, this book is often able to tell you exactly what happened on every single day of any given week in December 1882.

It is dense and tedious, but if you would like to know every minuscule biographical detail that shaped Van Gogh’s life, this is the book you want to read. But if you specifically want to learn more about his artworks from an aesthetic and technical standpoint, I would not recommend this.

However, this book does tell you <i>exactly</i> where he was and what was going through his head when creating certain artworks. It goes into great detail about The Potato Eaters, for example. Other artworks are glossed over or simply mentioned as being created during a particular time. So if you are doing some research for school, or would like to know about his headspace when creating a certain artwork, I would recommend skimming through until you find the relevant bit. 

These authors were also the first to introduce the theory that Van Gogh did not die by suicide, and the last chapter explains their deductive reasoning thoroughly and convincingly. I, for one, fully agree with them. 

It took me a year to read this and I couldn’t have done it without daily reading goals and mammoth motivation.

Would recommend to: highly motivated readers, researchers and students who just need to browse through it to write or present a biography for school. 

Would not recommend to: people wanting to learn more about Van Gogh’s art specifically. While there is some background information you can glean from here and maybe some hypotheses you could build through this information, this is about Vincent Van Gogh the man, and not just the artwork. 

Book Reviews

Hilda and the Black Hound (Hilda #4) by Luke Pearson

Hilda and the Black Hound (Hilda #4) by Luke PearsonRating: 🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁

This is the first volume in the comics where it veers entirely away from the Netflix series, because this jumps to the events of episodes 12 and 13, and while Hilda joins the Sparrow Scouts, Frida is only briefly introduced, and David is nowhere to be seen yet.

The story is also satisfyingly longer than in previous volumes.

These comics just keep getting better and better!

Book Reviews

The Weight of a Piano by Chris Cander

The Weight of a Piano by Chris CanderRating: 🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁

I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Weight of a Piano is carefully tuned literary fiction. It finds the perfect moment to tug at all the right emotions, leaving you in a reverent, contemplative silence by the end. 

Each chapter switches back and forth between the POVs of Carla, the current owner of the piano, and Katya, the former owner. 

Carla is a young mechanic who lost her parents in a tragic fire; the piano being the only physical object that remains of the fond times with her family. 

Katya is a Russian immigrant who was obligated to leave her beloved piano in Europe when she left to seek refuge in the United States. 

The piano is a metaphor for both of their lives, a placeholder for both of their souls and essences.  

Eventually, and for reasons that she can’t quite articulate, Carla finds herself on a road trip across the desert, trailing behind the moving truck that carries her piano for the photographer she lent it to.

This book is absolutely lovely, gripping and poetic. I highly recommend it, especially if you’re the kind of person who enjoys self-reflective indie movies about cathartic road trips.  

I would recommend this to (see above), as a beach/travel read, or to people who enjoy a little romance in novels but don’t want to read from the romance section. 

The Weight of a Piano comes out on January 22nd 2019!