Magic and Wisdom Rise in ‘Defensive Baking’

I haven’t held back on my love for T. Kingfisher, though I’ve not been particularly tempted in reading her fantasy or her work for children under her “real” name, Ursula Vernon. What I liked about Kingfisher’s horror was the sarcasm and how masterfully humor and horror entwined themselves into one deliciously disorienting plot that wasContinue reading “Magic and Wisdom Rise in ‘Defensive Baking’”

Bigfoot and Big Scares in ‘Devolution’

One of the greatest, most terrible, most amazing parts about reading is when you find yourself absolutely immersed in a book and nothing—not responsibilities, relationships, or reasonable bedtimes—can draw you out of it. Which is why I was flipping ebook page after ebook page at 1:30 a.m. as I raced to reach the end ofContinue reading “Bigfoot and Big Scares in ‘Devolution’”

‘The Golden Age’ Glitters

I have waxed long about my pure and ardent love of graphic novels, about the interplay between picture and words creates a new depth to storytelling and how seeing multiple interpretations of the narrative on the page prompts me to be more engaged in my own reading of it. I make no apologies for suchContinue reading “‘The Golden Age’ Glitters”

‘Space’ Does SciFi Proud

I’m not sure how much Michaiah Johnson knows about architecture, but if The Space Between Worlds is any indication, she sure can construct a plot. The debut novel has an immaculately constructed plot with parallels upon parallels to itself and real life—which, as it happens, you almost forget exists after being immersed in Johnson’s world.Continue reading “‘Space’ Does SciFi Proud”

‘There There’ a Gut Punch in the Best Way

There are a lot of characters—a full dozen POVs and a smattering of side characters—to keep track of in Tommy Orange’s There There. But even though reading the novel means keeping track of this person and that person as they appear and disappear within There There‘s various narratives, Orange’s considerable skill as a writer meansContinue reading “‘There There’ a Gut Punch in the Best Way”

It’s Easy to Fall Under the Spell of ‘Gothic’

One of the most pleasurable threads running through Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic is that the book’s heroine, Noemí Taboada, can be in the throes of spooky secrets and acutely in danger and still take a moment to consider her outfit. For example: “Noemí changed into a polka-dot day dress with a square neck. She hadContinue reading “It’s Easy to Fall Under the Spell of ‘Gothic’”

‘Exhalation’ is a Breath of Fresh Air

The thing that is striking about Ted Chiang’s work is how well thought out everything is. His are not stories that blossom from a singular thought. His are not suppositions of a singular event spun out a different way. When reading his stories, you get a strong sense that the ideas and the characters areContinue reading “‘Exhalation’ is a Breath of Fresh Air”

Summer’s Over but ‘Beach Read’ Still Sizzles

I have mentioned before how I’m not usually drawn to romance novels (and Kath, if you’re reading, I’m sorry for being a disappointment). It’s not that I hate love, I just struggle with several aspects of the genre. Namely, the heavy reliance on miscommunications and deus ex machina to provide a happy ending, as wellContinue reading “Summer’s Over but ‘Beach Read’ Still Sizzles”

‘Don’t Want to Die’ Isn’t Poor on Prose

If there’s one thing Michael Arceneaux isn’t, it’s coy. His second collection of essays, I Don’t Want to Die Poor, minces no words as he talks about the dire financial straits he found himself in after college and the various ways debt has made his life harder. Through that lens, he talks in about sexContinue reading “‘Don’t Want to Die’ Isn’t Poor on Prose”

The Sea Witch Enchants in ‘Circe’

It’s been a long time since I raced to get back to a book not to find out what happens next but instead to return to the world found only within its pages. I remember feeling that way about the Chronicles of Narnia series as a kid, for example, or Alice in Wonderland. But IContinue reading “The Sea Witch Enchants in ‘Circe’”