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The Midnight Library

Title: The Midnight Library

Author: Matt Haig

Genre: post-apocalyptic time travel/science fiction

Everyone has been talking about this book. Seems like I can’t escape the buzz. And, like always, I knew nothing about it when I started reading. I didn’t even know what genre it was. Turns out, it was a book right up my alley. Fantastical, but not really fantasy. Great characters, interesting plot, well-written. Who could ask for more?

From Goodreads: Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?

Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?

In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig’s enchanting new novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.

What was really great about this was that Haig kept the plot fresh. It isn’t just about Nora living in various lives, one after another, until they blur together for her and for the reader. She definitely visits a few lives that you spend some time in, but various other events keep the plot from getting stagnant. Nora, even though she was struggling when we meet her, becomes much more dynamic as the book goes on. You feel her pain in the beginning, and you really root for her to “find” the life that’s perfect for her. I read this one in just a couple days. I really couldn’t wait to see which life Nora found for herself.

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books and reading

The House in the Cerulean Sea

Title: The House in the Cerulean Sea

Author: TJ Klune

Genre: Fantasy Fiction

This book would never had been on my radar if it weren’t to a couple online book clubs I belong to. Really, they are just Facebook groups with several thousand book loving members read and recommend. And this book kept popping up as “delightful” or “charming” or “irresistible.” Too many people loved it for me to keep ignoring it. So, I requested it from my library having zero clue what it was about.

From Goodreads: Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours. 

It’s true. This book was an absolute delight. It did start out a bit slow, much like Linus himself. Plodding along, creating the plot. But once Linus meets the kids, it picks up, again, much like Linus does. The kids change how he sees the world. The last third of the book was just wonderful. If anyone is looking for a book to lift you up, fill your heart, and make you smile, this is the one. Just a joy to read.

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The Deep

Title: The Deep

Authors: Rivers Solomon, Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, Jonathan Snipes

Genre: Black science-fiction

PopSugar Reading Challenge Prompt: A book set mostly or entirely outdoors.

The concept of this book is just so cool. Rivers Solomon heard the song “The Deep” by the band clipping. and was so moved that they wrote this novella in response. You can find the lyrics and a clip (pun intended) of the song here. I wanted to listen to the song before I read the book so I could be in the same frame of mind that Solomon was. And the song was really familiar. I’m a big Hamilton fan, so I knew Diggs had a rap group, but I’ve never listened to any of the songs. When I read the Afterword, I realized that clipping. wrote the song for an episode of This American Life. That’s when the light bulb went off. I heard that episode. It’s an excellent one about Afrofuturism. Here’s a link.

From Goodreads: Yetu holds the memories for her people—water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slave owners—who live idyllic lives in the deep. Their past, too traumatic to be remembered regularly, is forgotten by everyone, save one—the historian. This demanding role has been bestowed on Yetu.

Yetu remembers for everyone, and the memories, painful and wonderful, traumatic and terrible and miraculous, are destroying her. And so, she flees to the surface, escaping the memories, the expectations, and the responsibilities—and discovers a world her people left behind long ago.

Yetu will learn more than she ever expected to about her own past—and about the future of her people. If they are all to survive, they’ll need to reclaim the memories, reclaim their identity—and own who they really are.

I’m not a fantasy/sci-fi person at all. It’s my least favorite genre. Well, romance is way worse. But I read An Unkindness of Ghosts last year, and I have Solomon’s newest, Sorrowland, from Netgalley to read, so I wanted to read The Deep as well. The concept is kind of like The Giver where one person holds the past memories of the community, but that’s where the similarities end. Yetu is trying to find who she is deep down and ends up making connections where she least expects it. This book was great. I love that it’s inspired by a song, because music and lyrics can truly be powerful. This book was impactful and will stick with me for awhile.

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The Fifth Season

I’ve been following N. K. Jemisin on Twitter for awhile and put this series on my “to-read” list because a friend recommended it to me. Back when I was selecting all the books to read for the 2018 book challenge, I needed a book written by someone of a different ethnicity, and I had originally selected the next book in the Young Elites series. I got about 20% through and just hated it. I was so disappointed with the first that I really shouldn’t have bothered, but I wanted to give it another shot. I loved the Legend series, but this one just isn’t nearly as good. So, I dropped it and gave The Fifth Season a shot.

I’m not a huge sci-fi/fantasy fan. I usually need to have some reality mixed in with my fantasy. And this book had very little of the reality aspect, so that was a bit of a turn-off for me, but for absolutely no reason other than personal preference. But Jemisin is a fantastic author. She has created a world that is honest and heartbreaking and fascinating. The book follows the storyline of three women, one is a child, the other two are adults, in a world where orogenes exist. Orogenes can move earth plates, channel energy, and prevent (or cause) earthquakes. Set several hundred years in the future, we see what Earth has turned into.

And without giving any spoilers, I saw one little plot twist coming, but I didn’t see the second. Jemisin let me think I was so clever to figure one out, but then dropped the hammer on me with the second. Jemisin has won the prestigious Hugo Award for this book, and it is absolutely deserved. The writing is tight, the characters are wholly developed, and the plot is pieced together masterfully.  Announced last Aug, this trilogy will be getting a series on TNT, as well. I will absolutely be finishing the series and will eagerly anticipate the television series!

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books and reading

Mistborn

A friend of mine has been bugging me to read something by Brandon Sanderson. A couple years ago, I put The Way of Kings on hold at the library to appease said friend. When I picked it up, I quickly realized I wasn’t ready for this commitment. It’s ridiculously long and I’m not a fantasy fan. At all. So, for the 2017 book challenge, I knew I had to read a book from a genre I don’t normally read. I was in. Ready to go. The Way of Kings here I come. And…… I read Mistborn instead because it was shorter. In my defense, I’m reading several 1000+ page books this year. And TWOK series isn’t finished. But, the good news is that I can’t wait to read more of his work.

Mistborn technically could be a young adult book, but thankfully the characters don’t act like typical teens. The main character, Vin, is a teenage thief trying to make it on the street with other thiefs and just isn’t all that successful. She’s hungry and miserable and abused. A man named Kelsier decides to help her. Not out of the kindness of his heart, but because he needs her and her abilities. She doesn’t even know she has abilities, but he can see it in her. Vin is a mistborn, meaning, she can use metal to control her body, thoughts, the thoughts of others, etc. All she has to do is ingest a few metal flakes and “burn” them using her energy and she can possess near supernatural powers. I realize this sounds really strange and far out there, but it works. Really. I’m the most skeptical person when it comes to this kind of literature, but Sanderson convinced me.

The entire plot revolves around taking down the Lord Ruler (aka God in their world) and the government he controls. Kelsier and Vin are joined by others with similar misting powers. Vin, being the youngest, isn’t treated much differently than the others which is hard for her to adjust to. And she is still a kid, really. There is a bit of a teenage love story in the book, but it isn’t sappy or stupid or unrealistic.

I flew this book in a few days, even though it is fairly long itself. And I can’t wait to read the others in the series and see what happens. I’m so glad I was talking into reading his work. And I really do promise I’ll get to The Way of Kings at some point. I actually own the first two books, so I have no excuse now.