Gork, the Teenage Dragon || A Book Review

 

Cover of Gork, the Teenage Dragon

Cover of Gork, the Teenage Dragon

This novel follows Gork a teenage dragon as he attempts to woo the “luscious chick” Runcita to be his Queen for the EggHarvest, a tradition for teenage dragons before they leave to colonize their own planet to continue the domination of dragon-kind over the rest of the galaxy. Moments of this book were a ton of fun, learning about dragon history from a teenage dragon who just wants to set the record straight was a blast, the tone hit the right amount of disappointment and snark to make a believable teenager: “The most offensive book out there about us dragons is the lunatic ravings of a man-creature that goes by the name of Mr. J.R.R. Tolkien” (4). The world that Hudson has built is fascinating and all encompassing, throughout Gork’s tale he gives us flashbacks to important moments in dragon history. This world creation was the strongest thing about this novel.

 

Spoilers under the cut

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Uprooted || A Book Review

cover of Uprooted

Cover of Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Naomi Novik’s novel Uprooted reads like a Fairy Tale. It follows Agnieszka, who loves her home despite the corruption of the Wood that surrounds it. The people of her village and within the surrounding valley give a young woman to the “Dragon” (human wizard, not a large reptile) as a tribute for their protection from the Wood. Everyone knows that her friend Kasia will be taken, that is until the day of the choosing when he instead takes Agnieszka. The story follows her and the Dragon as they work to protect the kingdom and wage war against the growing Wood. The world created by Novik is all encompassing, and I was most drawn to her depiction of natural places overtaking man-made ones with a vengeance.

SPOILERS BELOW THE CUT

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Bedlam Stacks || A Book Review

Cover of the Bedlam Stacks

Bedlam Stacks is the second novel by Natasha Pulley, author of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street. I received this galley at Winter Institute 2017 in Minneapolis, and the final book will be released August 1, 2017. It follows injured, ex-East India Company smuggler, Merrick Tremayne as he looks for another adventure while trapped at his home in Cornwall, England. The India Office recruits him to fetch quinine, a treatment for malaria, from deep within Peru. He knows this is a bad idea, but accepts in a last-ditch effort to leave his home and the plotting of his brother to send him into service of the church. He heads off and ends up at a village on the edge of the Amazon where a salt line separates the village from the forest. “Surrounded by local stories of lost time, cursed woods, and living rock” he must work to separate fact from fiction, while earning the trust of the village and more importantly Raphael, a young priest, and entering the woods to get the quinine for the East India Company.

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Modern Romance || A Book Review


In Modern Romance Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg has taken on the ever changing concept of romance in the 21st century with humor and wit and facts. I listened to the audiobook while walking to and from work and had to frequently stop walking to almost double over in laughter (and remembering that I was in public untying and retying my shoe so as to not draw attention to the silent laughs) or walk along with a stupid smile on my face and needing to overcompensate with an almost comical frown.

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What it Means When a Man Falls From the Sky || A Book Review

what it meansIn this debut collection of short stories Lesley pulls the reader out of the world they are in and places them into the universe of each story so artfully that coming back to wherever you’re sitting and reading as you finish each story is almost upsetting. These stories focus on what binds us in relationships—parents and children, cousins, neighbors, lovers—and the places that we call home. And even at their darkest moments the world of these stories is compelling, magical, and demands to be read. Many of these short stories look at potential futures, near and distant and how these could affect out personal lives and relationships.

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Exit West || A Book Review

exit westExit West is a novel by Mohsin Hamid, author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist (which I’m only mentioning because I read it in a college English course and didn’t realize this was the same author, despite it being printed on the cover, because I listened to this book on audio, but more on that later), published by Riverhead Books in March of 2017, with the audio recorded by Penguin Random House Audio. The story follows lovers Saeed and Nadia as they flee from a war-ravaged city to become refugees in Greece, London, and California. This feels like a very timely story with the refugee crisis, and reactions to it among the global community if magical doors with no set destination were opening in places around the world. This reaction seems to be what I’m hearing about this book, and was all that I knew about it coming into the story.

Before I go under the cut and talk about what I thought of the writing, and this book in general I wanted to mention that this was the first book that I listened to on audio using the OverDrive app. I don’t think I could have asked for a more pleasant re-introduction to audiobooks. Often while listening to podcasts on walks I find my mind wandering and when my attention returns to the show I’ve missed something crucial (the real reason I’ve yet to finish Welcome to Nightvale). While listening to this book on my many walks across the city of Minneapolis it held my attention, and I could enjoy the story without any internal intrusion.

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What is Not Yours is Not Yours || A Book Review

What is Not Yours is Not Yours was published in March of 2016 by Riverhead Books and came out in paperback March of 2017. Helen Oyeyemi is the author of five novels, and I’m angry at myself for never having picked up her work before this collection of stories, if this is any indication of her talent—which I’m sure that it is—because this style of writing and the world that is created in each of these stories is something that I’ve been looking for for a long time. These stories take place in different times, places, but the main character in one story will be mentioned in passing in a later as a family member, or ex-lover. This leads the reader to meditate what worlds we’ve created around us and how we don’t always realize the intersections with other worlds and stories. These stories are each built around the idea of keys; keys to a home, to a heart, to a garden, a library, books, anything that could possibly need a key to open is in this collection.

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Things That Are || A Book Review

This is a collection of essays, by Amy Leach,things-that-are-cover about the beauty of the natural world and how it intersects with our everyday lives. It allows the reader to look at the world around them with wonder once again. The essays look at everything from the sea cucumber, to fainting goats, to the shapes we see in the space between stars.  These essays take the reader to places deep in the ocean, on the highest mountain top, deep into space, asking the reader to take nature’s perspective from events into account. To think about how the things that we do affect nature; from assigning names to the shapes we see in the sky, to yelling at a sea cucumber, and always reminding the reader that no matter what nature needs us as much, if not more than, we need it.

“Whether people need nature or not, it was clear that nature needed people. But perhaps nature needs us like a hostage needs her captors: nature needs us not to annihilate her, not to run her over, not to cover her with cement, not to chop her down. We can hardly admire ourselves, then, when we stop to accommodate nature’s needs: we are dubious heroes who create peril and then save it’s victims, we who rescue the animals and the trees from ourselves.”

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The Night Circus || A Book Review

“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not”

This is a story the-night-circus-book-reviewsabout magic, romance, and the power of stories, all set up in a vague competition requiring the two participants to hold everything in balance. Celia Bowen and Marco Alisdair have been bound together as part of a game set on them by their enchanter mentors. They each are to maintain parts of the vast Night Circus while creating new exhibitions of magic and wonder, and they cannot know the rules of this game, or how the winner is decided. As the circus grows so do the pressures, Maro and Celia begin to seek each other out and fall in love, but time begins to work against them as they fight harder to finish the game and hold the circus in balance.
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