Book Review – Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman

Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Did you ever imagine the ways in which time could be different? Did you ever imagine stepping through time to the past, future, or other version of time out of your wildest dreams? This book brings to life so many concepts of time, as I read them I felt like I was truly inside of Einstein’s dreams.
While this book is a work entirely of fiction, one could imagine that these are what Einstein would have dreamt about as he came up with his theory of time. He imagines time standing still, time moving too quickly, time in the form of pictures, time slowing down the higher or the faster you go, time circular and time linear, the consequences of immortality on time, and several others that stir the imagination.

That is what I loved about this book: it stirs the imagination and makes the reader think of all the possibilities the universe could have. Now I must admit that this is the type of book that would mess me up: any philosophy on the nature of time, space, and/or existence makes me think of possibilities, and sometimes what is possible can, shall I say, break my mind.

One other thing I loved about this book is the imagery. Lightman describes Berne and the surrounding areas so well you can imagine being there and seeing the city as Einstein did. You can hear the sounds of the bustling city, see the glow of the sun on the peaks of the Alps, feel it a living, breathing place in time.

The only real criticism I have of this book is that I wish there were more chapters that talked about Einstein himself and his life. There were chapters like this which served as interludes between the dream chapters, but I would have liked to have had more, and perhaps with more speculative analysis of the dreams from Einstein’s character.

I would recommend this book to those who love philosophical science fiction, to lovers of Jules Verne novels, and those who want to experience a different time. I would definitely reread this book again.



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My Favorite Books About Books (so far)

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops

This is a book that talks about all the weird and wonderful experiences booksellers have had with their customers. It will make you laugh to no end, and perhaps you will find some cool reads along the way! Or maybe even find out what not to read!

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth

This graphic novel isn’t really about books, but it is about stories and the way stories shape us. A young man from the farthest reaches of the world travels far and wide from one adventure to another, telling stories of myth and folklore to those he meets. Each tale shows a bit of how each person and culture relates to the stories, and how the young man impacts those who he has met.

Tilly and the Book Wanderers by Anna James

Tilly and the Bookwanderers (Pages & Co. #1)

This is a book about people who love to get lost in books. Literally. Tilly lives with her grandparents, who run the bookshop Pages & Co. Her whole life she has been surrounded by books. Then one day, she discovers that she and many others have the ability to travel within books. Tilly starts by traveling into her favorite stories like Anne of Green Gables, but soon finds that bookwandering can be tricky, and gets into some adventuresome trouble! Wouldn’t we all just love to have a short adventure inside a book?

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451

This is a book about the importance of books. In a dystopian world where books are banned, and anyone caught with them is either arrested or killed, we remember the importance of the written word. Our main character, a fireman (someone who burns books for a living), realizes there is nothing in the ignorance they’ve all been brainwashed to love. He starts to read the books he’s meant to burn, and his attitude towards books, to life even, changes.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

The Little Paris Bookshop

If you need a remedy for a malady of the soul, this book is for you. A man works on a book barge, prescribing specific books for specific maladies of the customers that come to peruse. When the man, depressed at the loss of his love, realizes that his love has not been lost, merely misunderstood, goes on an adventure to discover the truth. On the way he meets new friends, and new books!

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #1)

Everyone likes a good mystery, but a mystery about a book? Even better. In this book we read about the life of a young man in Spain who’s sole mission is to find out everything he can about a book he found in the “Cemetery of Forgotten Books”. The young man finds love and friendship on the way, but most importantly, he finds the truth.

These are my favorite books about books so far. I will update the list once I read more!

Mooncakes – Extended Review

“Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town.

One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home.

Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.” – Taken from the summary on Goodreads.

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu has been recommended so much by the internet book communities, and I was not at all disappointed. The artwork is absolutely gorgeous and the story is as heartwarming as any story could ever get. The diversity included in this novel is amazing as well, including diverse characters both real and mythological.

Overall, there really wasn’t anything I didn’t like in this novel. However, there were elements which I thought could be expanded upon. I feel like some aspects were limited, such as the mythology included in certain parts of the story. We see mythical creatures that live in the nearby forest, though with no explanation as to what they are or where they come from – all we know is that they are friends of the heroes. In addition to this mythology, I would’ve liked to have seen more lore about werewolves, which admittedly the protagonists are not so learned in. This they did a good job with, creating a limited perspective in the narration so that readers are able to learn and go on this adventure along with the protagonists. In any case, I hope perhaps Walker and Xu will go on to expand this universe a bit more, as not only do I want to know more about the mythology of Mooncakes, but I just want to read more of Walker and Xu’s work!

While there is so much explained about Tam’s (the werewolf) fight for self-realization, but not so much for Nova’s (the young witch). We see Nova at some odds with her parents about her not having left home to find herself. In the end she does decide to leave to find herself, but we don’t get much insight into the decision making that went on in her mind. While this isn’t necessarily essential to Nova’s character, I’d still like to have seen some more about her character and personality.

The following are the elements of this book I absolutely loved. One thing this book did phenomenally is portray diverse characters in abundance and depth. Nova Huang comes from a half-Chinese half-Jewish family – portrayed wonderfully by the joint celebration of Chinese New Year and Sukkot. She is raised by two grandmothers. She is also in a queer relationship with Tam Lang who is also, I assume, POC, and is non-binary. Unfortunately we don’t get to meet too many other characters besides Nova’s family and the antagonists, but I have no doubt Walker and Xu would portray them with the same care and depth.

What can I say about Wendy Xu’s art in this book other than that it is amazing. The colors remind me of Autumn (no surprise as it is very themed for Halloween), and while they are simple drawings, they are colored and expressed so vividly. I especially liked the trees and the art of the mythical forest creatures – I just want a whole book of Xu’s mythical creatures!

It is clear from the beginning that Nova and Tam have a history as childhood friends (and perhaps more), and so it was no surprise that they fell together so quickly in the beginning of the book. In addition, the two from the start are willing to work on their relationship, it’s not star-crossed or fated, it’s simply made and worked on by two people who have a lot of love to give. Of course there is a grand kiss at the end, but instead of it being a kiss after a long slow burn, it is a kiss of relief that things can finally settle.

I recommend Mooncakes to anyone who needs a bit of love and magic in their life.

I know this is my first book of 2020, but I can already see it being one of my favorites.

Buy me a coffee.

Book Review – Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu

Mooncakes

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Mooncakes has been recommended so much by the internet book communities, and I was not at all disappointed. The artwork is absolutely gorgeous and the story is as heartwarming as any story could ever get. The diversity included in this novel is amazing as well: you have a non-binary character and their deaf girlfriend who is part of (what I believe is) a part Chinese part Jewish (etc.) family. Not to mention the diverse mythical beings, which I would love to see more of in Walker and Xu’s other works!

Most of all this is a story about love, family, and growing into one’s self.
I recommend Mooncakes to anyone who needs a bit of love and magic in their life.

I know this is my first book of 2020, but I can already seeing it being one of my favorites.



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Book Review – Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King

Cycle of the Werewolf

Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This short novel of Stephen King’s was a fun and chilling read. Very easy to get through due to the pacing of the story and entertainment factor, I read Cycle of the Werewolf in about two hours. The story shows a view of how a town might react to the arrival of a murderous werewolf and, in my personal opinion, King got most of it pretty realistic. There are two big reactions to a kind of upset like a werewolf: everyone going completely ballistic, or, as in this novel, everyone doing absolutely nothing until a child takes matters into their own hands.

The illustrations by Bernie Wrightson perfectly captured the grim atmosphere of King’s narration, though I have one criticism (this would mainly be for the editors): a lot of the illustrations were placed a bit too early in the text, and so the reader would know what would happen in the plot based on the picture before the written event ever actually happened.

I recommend this book to those who want a short and chilling read. The gloominess of the art and the fact that the book starts and ends with snow makes it a perfect winter read.



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My Top 10 Books of 2019

10. Hilda and the Troll by Luke Pearson

9. The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

8. The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton

7. The Rental Heart by Kirsty Logan

6. Pages & Co. by Anna James

5. Jake, Lucid Dreamer by David Naiman

4. The Merry Spinster by Mallory Ortberg

3. Lavinia by Ursula Le Guin

2. Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss

  1. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King

You can find each book review on this blog!

Book Review – The Bookshop on the Shore by Jenny Colgan

The Bookshop on the Shore

The Bookshop on the Shore by Jenny Colgan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


While this book is called The Bookshop on the Shore, it is barely about said bookshop. What it is about is love and family. Set on the shores of Loch Ness, Jenny Colgan has written a beautiful book, where one can see the Loch and the bright autumn colors of the highland landscape.
The book has a premise of Jane Eyre, with a young woman going to a strange house to nanny the children of a mysterious (and handsome man). It is this premise that pulled me into this book.
The only parts of this book I really would complain about are that there are certain passages that Colgan has written very confusingly. They are hard to understand, and could just be written better.

Overall Colgan has written a charming and vivid story, which I recommend to anyone wanting a trip to Scotland and a fresh start.



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Book Review – Stupid Poems 15 by Ian Vannoey

Stupid Poems 15

Stupid Poems 15 by Ian Vannoey

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


The title of this collection is very apt, as these poems of Ian Vannoey are really very stupid. Vannoey does the job well. The poems are silly, funny, totally daft, though sometimes they can reference relevant political happenings (which, in and of themselves, can be very stupid indeed). I think this collection is for those who need a fun brain break, and to be silly for a while.
You can definitely tell, as well, that this is a British collection, which may resonate with readers even more, considering not only the political events of Brexit, but also the tendency of Anglophilia (I also am an Anglophile, hence why I chose to read this collection!).

The reason I gave this book three stars, however, is not because it is a bad collection. There will be so many people who love this collection for what it is; however, it is simply not for me.



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Book Review – Ivy in Bloom by Vanita Oelschlager

Ivy in Bloom: The Poetry of Spring from Great Poets and Writers from the Past

Ivy in Bloom: The Poetry of Spring from Great Poets and Writers from the Past by Vanita Oelschlager

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I think the best part about Ivy in Bloom is that it has the most gorgeous illustrations by Kristin Blackwood. The illustrations start in the Winter, with heavy whites, grays, and browns, and at the end blooms in bright spring colors. The poetry by Vanita Oelschlager is very simple, and wonderful for a child who is just getting into poetry. What is great about the poem, though, is that each line is adapted from or inspired by a poem from a famous poet. These poems are noted and written out in the back of Ivy in Bloom, and such poets include Charles Dickens, John Greenleaf Whittier, E.E. Cummings, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and so many others.

I recommend this book to anyone who needs a little spot of spring in this Wintertime.



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Book Review – The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales by Kirsty Logan

The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales

The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales by Kirsty Logan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Kirsty Logan’s fairytales are at the same time familiar and also completely raw and new. Some familiar stories are told through the opposite perspective. Some new stories are familiar in the ways that emotions can only ever be.
The style reminds me a bit of Francesca Lia Block’s Rose and the Beast, though Logan’s fairytales are much more relatable. They feel like they could be real, even though the reader knows that the threshold is opaque.

I recommend this collection to those who want a fairytale that ends in unexpected ways.



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