“And as much as I’d like to believe there’s a truth beyond illusion, I’ve come to believe that there’s no truth beyond illusion. Because, between ‘reality’ on the one hand, and the point where the mind strikes reality, there’s a middle zone, a rainbow edge where beauty comes into being, where two very different surfaces mingle and blur to provide what life does not: and this is the space where all art exists, and all magic. And—I would argue as well—all love. Or, perhaps more accurately, this middle zone illustrates the fundamental discrepancy of love. Viewed close: a freckled hand against a black coat, an origami frog tipped over on its side. Step away, and the illusion snaps in again: life-more-than-life, never-dying. Pippa herself is the play between those things, both love and not-love, there and not-there. Photographs on the wall, a balled-up sock under the sofa. The moment where I reached to brush a piece of fluff from her hair and she laughed and ducked at my touch. And just as music is the space between notes, just as the stars are beautiful because of the space between them, just as the sun strikes raindrops at a certain angle and throws a prism of color across the sky—so the space where I exist, and want to keep existing, and to be quite frank I hope I die in, is exactly this middle distance: where despair struck pure otherness and created something sublime. And that’s why I’ve chosen to write these pages as I’ve written them. For only by stepping into the middle zone, the polychrome edge between truth and untruth, is it tolerable to be here and writing this…”

-The Goldfinch, location 12466

Book review: Foundation

Book Review

Foundation, Book 1 of The Foundation Trilogy

By: Isaac Asimov

Science Fiction
5 Stars

For twelve thousand years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying. Only Hari Seldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future—a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare that will last thirty thousand years. To preserve knowledge and save humanity, Seldon gathers the best minds in the Empire—both scientists and scholars—and brings them to a bleak planet at the edge of the galaxy to serve as a beacon of hope for future generations. He calls this sanctuary the Foundation.

But soon the fledgling Foundation finds itself at the mercy of corrupt warlords rising in the wake of the receding Empire. And mankind’s last best hope is faced with an agonizing choice: submit to the barbarians and live as slaves—or take a stand for freedom and risk total destruction.

As a lover of classic sci fi it seems inconceivable that this is my first read of Foundation, by: Isaac Asimov. It’s been on my list to read for decades, and there was always some nuance that got in the way of my finally reading it. Finally is here, and I’m so glad I got to it.

Waiting so long to read a book, especially a book that might fall to dating, had me a little nervous. Had style-of-writing changed so much over the years that I wouldn’t be able to appreciate a slower-paced story-telling? Had my love of quicker, more action reads ruined me for someone like Asimov?

Not to worry. I was instantly at home, pulled through page after page. This book is an award winner for real reasons. Sure, it’s a little male character heavy. Sure, there’s a few things technologically that might change if written today, but the story remains solid and relevant.

Lovers of science fiction, and more especially, those who love looking into human society and planning, might want to take a look at The Foundation Series. I’m looking forward to diving into the next book of the series.

Book Review: The Rage of Dragons, The Burning, Book 1

Book Review

The Rage of Dragons

By: Evan Winter

5 Stars

Fantasy, Military

The Omehi people have been fighting an unwinnable war for almost two hundred years. The lucky ones are born gifted. One in every two thousand women has the power to call down dragons. One in every hundred men is able to magically transform himself into a bigger, stronger, faster killing machine.

Everyone else is fodder, destined to fight and die in the endless war.

Young, gift-less Tau knows all this, but he has a plan of escape. He’s going to get himself injured, get out early, and settle down to marriage, children, and land. Only, he doesn’t get the chance.

Those closest to him are brutally murdered, and his grief swiftly turns to anger. Fixated on revenge, Tau dedicates himself to an unthinkable path. He’ll become the greatest swordsman to ever live, a man willing to die a hundred thousand times for the chance to kill the three who betrayed him.

This book truly had it all. A well-created world with well-crafted characters that had me laughing and crying and wailing and cheering. The perfect anti-hero we can’t help but love. A blend of tragedy and fortune, camaraderie, and villainy. As Blood Song, by Anthony Ryan made me love stories of sword brothers, Winter gives us another group to laugh and cry with. All with a pinch of magic that elevates military strategy to another level.

Rooting for the underdog is our favorite thing, and this book is chock full of that. The most savage thing I’ve ever read a character decide happens in this book, and from that moment on I could not put it down. While there were plenty of times I was wishing I could step in and intercede some rash decision, it never reached a point that turned the story. What a fine line that is. Can any of us truly describe it? I imagine it’s different for all of us. Why else would someone rate this book 1 star while I give it 5? 🙂 Whatever that line, Mr. Winter tread it perfectly and I can’t wait to re-read this book.

Buried beneath a suberbly crafted story is a great commentary on social structure and how those structures are an injustice to every citizen involved. How we too easily believe the lies of a majority, and most especially, believe the violent strength that maintains such structure. While the fight against systemic injustice is hard, while the decision to do evil for the sake of some greater good is easy, neither should be how we decide. History should be known, so we all understand where we come from and that no matter our gifts, we all have equal value in the whole.

Happy Reading 🙂

Book Review: The Starless Sea

Book Review

The Starless Sea

By: Erin Morgenstern

5 Stars

Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them.

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable knowledge that he is meant for another place. When he discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library he begins to read, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood impossibly written in this book that is older than he is.

A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book lead Zachary to two people who will change the course of his life: Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. These strangers guide Zachary through masquerade party dances and whispered back room stories to the headquarters of a secret society where doorknobs hang from ribbons, and finally through a door conjured from paint to the place he has always yearned for. Amid twisting tunnels filled with books, gilded ballrooms, and wine-dark shores Zachary falls into an intoxicating world soaked in romance and mystery. But a battle is raging over the fate of this place and though there are those who would willingly sacrifice everything to protect it, there are just as many intent on its destruction. As Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian venture deeper into the space and its histories and myths, searching for answers and each other, a timeless love story unspools, casting a spell of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a Starless Sea.

Stories within stories within stories all connected.

I loved reading this book. While I tend to binge read, I could not do that with this one. I’d find I’d have to put it down and go away to let it simmer and melt in my brain before returning.

The narrative was so vulnerable. Like the layer we hold ourselves on when speaking to each other in real life, that layer where fear of being misunderstood and judged lives large, was peeled back and a whole new kind of communication was established. I loved how each seemingly unrelated nuance actually added more layers to the entirety. If forced to look up concepts in a dictionary, like you might a word or phrase, this jumble of tales is what you might find because every sidebar enriched the rest.

While in these pages, I felt like I could believe in fairies and unicorns and real magic again and for even a moment, I was sad that maybe I had missed my door without the second chance Zachary received. That maybe this wasn’t some story, but a recount of what we all might find.

I loved how the personal relationships mattered. Pairs grounding each other to “reality,” to motivate beyond a bigger picture none were entirely clear on.

Around half-way through, the book stumbles a bit. There was a point when I lifted my head and wondered if maybe we weren’t about to fall into redundancy. But don’t worry. That’s where it picks up and the pieces start really coming together.

Such a richly crafted chronicle that reminds us the end is never the last, and all beginnings stem from what was, to become what might be.

Book Review: Delivering Evil for Experts (The Guild Codex: Demonized, #4)

Book Review

Delivering Evil for Experts, Book 4 of The Guild Code: Demonized

By: Annette Marie

5 Stars

A Great Magic System and unique take on Magical Realism

I promised to avenge my parents.

But their killer is still on the loose, and he’s stolen more than my parents’ lives. Now, as he draws closer to his mysterious goals, he’s poised to destroy what little I have left.

I promised to translate an ancient grimoire.

But it holds the secrets of my family—and the secret history of demon summoning. I fear its answers as much as I need them. Who was the foremother of Demonica…and who am I?

I promised to send my demon home.

But the way he watches me, the way he protects me, the way he touches me⁠—how can I cast him away forever? I swore I would do this for him, but can I? Should I?

But I promised—and I will keep my promises even if they cost me my heart, my soul, and my life.

This series was adorable. I loved our main Miss Nerd forced to become a power to save herself and especially loved the slow-burn romance I kept changing my mind on. Some days, I thought ‘Don’t do it!’ while others had me hope things worked out. I also enjoyed that the romance angle didn’t overshadow the story. I appreciated the entire world and magic system. Definitely my favorite of the series.

THE GUILD CODEX: Demonized Series:
Taming Demons for Beginners (#1)
Slaying Monsters for the Feeble (#2)
Hunting Fiends for the Ill-Equipped (#3)
Delivering Evil for Experts (#4)