book blog

Book Blog: A Cheesemonger’s History of The British Isles by Ned Palmer

Posted by on Oct 1, 2021 in Blog, book blog | 0 comments

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

A Cheesemonger’s History of The British Isles by Ned Palmer

out now in print and ebook; BookShop, B&N, and Amazon [affiliate link]

A fun frolic of a book for those, like me, who love cheese and history! Palmer is a cheesemonger and he knows his subject well, having not only sold the cheese but interacted with and even made cheese with the small-operation makers. There’s no snobbery here, though–the mood of the book is enthusiastic for cheese. That’s something I can totally get behind.

There is mild overlap with some other books on cheese, notably Kinstedt’s Cheese and Culture, but not that much, as Palmer goes much deeper into historical British cheese than any other book I have read. He hones in on some specific cheeses like Wensleydale, Cheshire (new life goal: become a cheese pirate), and Lanark Blue to explore the revolution of cheese as a food and as an industry, bringing the narrative right up to the present day. The book is fascinating throughout, a breezy read that is also informative. I felt the need to share factoids with my husband as I read in the evening.

I highly recommend this book to other cheese lovers, but be warned–if you’re not in the UK, it will torment you to read about so many cheeses that are not readily found abroad! Oh, how I yearn to find that Stonebeck cheese…

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Book Blog: Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune

Posted by on Sep 24, 2021 in Blog, book blog | 0 comments

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune

out now in print and ebook; BookShopB&N, and Amazon [affiliate link]

I received an advance copy of this book via NetGalley.

The skin around my eyes remains stiff from tears because this book made me SOB, but in the best of ways. This is a beautiful, extraordinary book that will crush your heart and put it back together, too.

Wallace is a jerk. He’s like Scrooge brought into the modern-day–a high-powered lawyer who is callous, cold, and not the slightest bit loved. When he keels over dead, he attends his own funeral and rages, unseen, at the way his ex-wife and law firm partners disrespect him. A reaper arrives–a young woman, Mei, who can see and hear him, and takes him to a strange tea house in the middle of nowhere. It’s a waypoint for the recently dead to come to grips with their new state of being before they move on through a door set in the fourth-floor ceiling. The purveyor is Hugo, a man with a knack to choose the right tea for anyone–and also, a ferryman, a person with a genuine, empathetic heart. He helps the recently-dead move on.

But Wallace doesn’t want to move on. He stays. He rages, he grieves, and slowly, he starts to change. And fall in love.

I fell in love, too, with every character. The deep feels of this book remind me of Becky Chambers’s novels–stories that truly capture the complexity and the goodness of people and somehow manage to reaffirm your belief in humanity. I like that this took the Scrooge trope and made it more realistic–there’s no overnight change. It’s gradual, it’s painful, it’s full of regret. Ultimately, it’s a queer love story, too, and again, one that feels realistic (because honestly, anyone and everyone can and will fall in love with Hugo).

This will be one of the best books I’ve read this year, and probably an all-time favorite.

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Book Blog: Becoming a Writer, Staying a Writer: The Artistry, Joy, and Career of Storytelling by J. Michael Straczynski

Posted by on Jun 18, 2021 in Blog, book blog | Comments Off on Book Blog: Becoming a Writer, Staying a Writer: The Artistry, Joy, and Career of Storytelling by J. Michael Straczynski

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

Becoming a Writer, Staying a Writer: The Artistry, Joy, and Career of Storytelling by J. Michael Straczynski

out now in print and ebook; BookShop, B&N, and Amazon [affiliate link]

I received an early copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

I’ve read many writing books. Straczynski’s new release approaches the subject of writing from a fresh angle: his own life, with his diverse experience in Hollywood and in publishing, as he discusses the tenacity and work necessary to “make it” within the industries–and then how to hang after that. His tone is easy and conversational, and the book is a fast read.

I’ve adored the man since I was a Babylon 5 fan as a teenager, and this book increased my esteem for him even more. As a writer myself, one who is definitely at the “trying to hang on” stage, this book felt both timely and personal. Straczynski gets it. Even with all his success, he’s still working hard because he loves what he does, as challenging as it is at times.

He begins with a Stephen King quote that I hadn’t seen before: “In the end, you don’t even do it [writing] for love, although it would be nice to think so. You do it because to not do it is suicide.”

That sets the tone for the book. Everything here is for people who NEED to write, even though it’s hard, enough though life and rejection grind you down. Even more: even when writers grind down themselves. As he notes, “A writing career can survive rejection, ridicule, starvation, and loneliness, but fear or complacency will kill it every time.”

He doesn’t claim to possess any shortcuts or special methods. He actually, with exasperation, describes people he’s dealt with time and again who insist otherwise. When it comes down to it, the book is about tenacity and hard work. Other writing books address that, sure, but Straczynski’s words really resonated with me. This is the kind of volume I think I’ll reference again in the future when I need his honest outlook to motivate me.

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Book Blog: A Master of Djinn(Dead Djinn Universe #1) by P. Djèlí Clark

Posted by on May 28, 2021 in Blog, book blog | Comments Off on Book Blog: A Master of Djinn(Dead Djinn Universe #1) by P. Djèlí Clark

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

master of djinn

A Master of Djinn (Dead Djinn Universe #1) by P. Djèlí Clark

out now in print and ebook; BookShop, B&N, and Amazon [affiliate link]

I received a galley of this book via NetGalley.

P. Djèlí Clark is one of the best historical fantasy authors out there right now, and his debut novel proves it yet again. I’ve enjoyed his novellas set in this same magical, steampunk-tinged Cairo as well as his Nebula-nominated Ring Shout, but this novel is even better because it delves deeper into the setting, into the characters.

The set-up of the book uses the formula of most mystery novels: it begins by showing a murder, though the victim’s perspective. It then switches to the investigation. Fatma is a dapperly-dressed woman, one of few who work within the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities. She’s called to the scene of a disturbing mass murder that reeks of magic, and soon encounters something she finds even more disturbing: she has been assigned an enthusiastic new partner. The gruff detective wants no part of this arrangement, but together they start an investigation that abounds in dark magic, conniving angels, and powers no human should command.

The book doesn’t shy away from the horrors of colonialism, homophobia, and racism. The world feels realistic, even filled as it is by djinn and spirits and old gods reborn. Fatma is a fantastic heroine–a rare lesbian lead character. She’s smart, impeccably-dressed, and I couldn’t help but root for her from the very start. The plot of the book has many twists and turns, and while I predicted the identity of the Master of Djinn early on, that didn’t spoil my enjoyment one bit.

I hope there are many, many more books set to come in this world.

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Book Blog: The Last Fallen Star (Gifted Clans #1) by Graci Kim

Posted by on May 7, 2021 in Blog, book blog | Comments Off on Book Blog: The Last Fallen Star (Gifted Clans #1) by Graci Kim

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

the last fallen star

The Last Fallen Star (Gifted Clans #1) by Graci Kim

out now in print and ebook; BookShopB&N, and Amazon [affiliate link]

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

Rick Riordan has done wonders for the lit world, not simply through his own books, but his support of other authors. I’ve read several middle grade books in his new Presents line, and there hasn’t been a bad one in the bunch. Graci Kim’s fun yet meaningful romp The Last Fallen Star is an incredible new novel inspired by Korean mythology and set in Los Angeles.

Riley is a relatable, great heroine from the start. She was adopted into a family of Gom, witch healers, but has no magic herself, much to her vexation. In an incredibly pleasant twist to familiar tropes, Riley has a fantastic relationship with her family, including her almost-the-same-age sister, Hattie. In fact, Hattie loves her so much that she’s willing to do forbidden magic to split her magical power with Riley. Of course, everything goes wrong. The Gods and the supernatural get involved. Hattie is in terrible peril. Riley ends up on an urgent quest to save Hattie before her sister is lost forever.

The pace of the book is fast and punctuated by moments of humor and levity, but what I loved most was the story’s genuine heart. The people here feel real and complicated. There are major messages of belonging and family, but they are not heavy-handed or suffocating. Plus, hey, the book is loads of fun, and a great way to learn about Korean mythology and culture. I not only want to read the next book in this series, but I want to read more of Kim’s writing, too.

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Book Blog: Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

Posted by on Apr 30, 2021 in Blog, book blog | Comments Off on Book Blog: Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

out now in print and ebook; BookShop, B&N, and Amazon [affiliate link]

I read this as part of my Norton finalist packet.

What a fantastic YA book! Elatsoe has an urban fantasy vibe, kinda, but spins everything in a brilliant, original way. A big reason for that is the dynamic, smart heroine, Elatsoe aka Ellie. She’s still a high schooler but she has big dreams of becoming a paranormal PI. She knows the paranormal well, as she was raised on the stories of her incredible Lipan Apache ancestress Six-Great, and her near-constant companion is the ghost of her beloved dog, who she raised herself. When her cousin is in a terrible car accident, he reaches out in a dream to tell her this was no accident, but murder. Ellie goes along with her parents to take care of her cousin’s widow, and finds herself investigating not the murderer but an entire creepy town.

I loved how smart this book was. Ellie is a kid, sure, but she is competent, and she is respected for her competence by her parents and those who know her. That is so refreshing! That doesn’t take away from the tension in the book, either, because Ellie still has a lot to learn. This is a story packed with twists and turns, and the world Little Badger established is endlessly fascinating. I mean, I tend to avoid books with vampires because I feel they have been so overdone, but the way they come across here feels fresh and new, and I LOVED a scene where Ellie and her mom banish an unwelcome vampire.

I hope there are more books set in this world. I would love to visit here again!

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