What I’m Reading…

Book Review: Shell Shaker by LeAnne Howe

Shell Shaker by LeAnne Howe

Shell Shaker by LeAnne Howe

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This novel makes an indelible impression, and it is so, so good. This book was recommended to me over a decade ago and has been sleeping since then on my bookshelf, waiting for the right moment. When the moment came, I tore through it in two days, totally transfixed at Howe’s storytelling–powerful, intimate, surprising. The way Howe approaches the ideas of legacy, birthright, redemption, and healing over the centuries simply blew me away.



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Book Review: The Unfamiliar Garden by Benjamin Percy

The Unfamiliar Garden by Benjamin Percy

The Unfamiliar Garden by Benjamin Percy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I absolutely love the cinematic, pulp-meets-literary quality of Benjamin Percy’s writing. His pacing is fearless and fast, and this second installment in his Comet Cycle is a wild, dark, slippery ride filled with horrors and lots of very wonderfully gross mushroom action. But also banter. I liked this book even more than the first (would totally work as a standalone). I’m excited to see even more of Percy’s twisted imagination unleashed in the next installment. What on earth… or elsewhere… could be next?



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Book Review: Deep by James Nestor

Deep by James Nestor

Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us about Ourselves by James Nestor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Beyond fascinating–part memoir, part pop science thematic compilation, James Nestor’s Deep makes you feel suspended in the dark pressure of the sea. Even as an ocean science nerd, I learned so much. Spoiler: the ocean and the human body are both even more insane than you thought. I hope this book continues to inspire conservation efforts and a gentler relationship between humans and the sea.

One correction I have to mention because I can’t stop myself: in the photo inset, it says “Whale sharks are neither whales nor sharks, but the world’s largest fish.” Actually, whale sharks are definitely sharks. All sharks are also fish. So yes, they are the world’s largest fish and also shark. Thank you for listening.



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Book Review: We Have Always Been Here by Lena Nguyen

We Have Always Been Here by Lena  Nguyen

We Have Always Been Here by Lena Nguyen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


We Have Always Been Here is a brave, inventive debut that is full of slow simmering suspicion and robot secrets. Structurally interesting, packed with contemplation and action alike, Lena Nguyen’s novel tackles the classic AI science fiction questions from a perspective I’ve never seen before–that of a protagonist who is very much physically human, but feels more like she herself is an android. Both a hard sci-fi mystery and an allegory for coping with emotional isolation, this story takes new angles on the standard discussions of the genre. Favorite part: Glenn backstory.



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Book Review: Find Your Artistic Voice by Lisa Congdon

Find Your Artistic Voice by Lisa Congdon

Find Your Artistic Voice: The Essential Guide to Working Your Creative Magic by Lisa Congdon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


A solid read with great advice for any creative who is trying to establish their own style and way of bringing their work to the world. Nothing earth-changing here, just a beautiful little book with lots of sense-making guidance to return you to the basics of finding yourself while/despite/in the midst of consistent creative practice.



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Book Review: Summerwater by Sarah Moss

Summerwater by Sarah Moss

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Sarah Moss is a master of close third person perspective. In this novella that rotates between different strangers’ perspectives while on a dismal, rainy holiday in Scotland, we become so tightly entwined in the idle thoughts of our characters that it’s almost disorienting, nearly uncomfortable. I admire the way Moss understands and explores human flaws. In way of plot, there’s little, but that’s not the point. The point is: What if you could see and understand how everyone was thinking, all at once? It’s a power I’m sure I don’t want to have, but I’m confident that Moss has it.



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Book Review: The Necessity of Wildfire by Caitlin Scarano

The Necessity of Wildfire by Caitlin Scarano

The Necessity of Wildfire by Caitlin Scarano

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Caitlin Scarano’s offerings in The Necessity of Wildfire are open-eyed and as full of grace and blood as ever. Her poetry consistently astonishes me. In this book, the heaviness and hauntedness of place is one of the most rewarding aspects, as the landscapes of Virginia and Washington assert themselves as roaring forces that accompany the speaker’s experience. Scarano’s poems are both unforgiving and tender, filled with scorching power. Some of these lines, I’m telling you.



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Book Review: Find your Artistic Voice by Lisa Congdon

Find Your Artistic Voice by Lisa Congdon

Find Your Artistic Voice: The Essential Guide to Working Your Creative Magic by Lisa Congdon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


A solid read with great advice for any creative who is trying to establish their own style and way of bringing their work to the world. Nothing earth-changing here, just a beautiful little book with lots of sense-making guidance to return you to the basics of finding yourself while/despite/in the midst of consistent creative practice.



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Book Review: Summerwater by Sarah Moss

Summerwater by Sarah Moss

Summerwater by Sarah Moss

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Sarah Moss is a master of close third person perspective. In this novella that rotates between different strangers’ perspectives while on a dismal, rainy holiday in Scotland, we become so tightly entwined in the idle thoughts of our characters that it’s almost disorienting, nearly uncomfortable. I admire the way Moss understands and explores human flaws. In way of plot, there’s little, but that’s not the point. The point is: What if you could see and understand how everyone was thinking, all at once? It’s a power I’m sure I don’t want to have, but I’m confident that Moss has it.



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Book Review: Singing Lessons for the Stylish Canary by Laura Stanfill

Singing Lessons for the Stylish Canary by Laura Stanfill

Singing Lessons for the Stylish Canary by Laura Stanfill

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I can’t pinpoint the exact origin of the magic by which Laura Stanfill creates her enchantment of a novel Singing Lessons for the Stylish Canary. It might be the delectably detailed knowledge of a little-known instrument’s history woven into the plot. It might be the sumptuous descriptions of Old Word France village life in the 1800s. It might be the is-it-or-isn’t-it? treatment of superstition and fate. It might be the determination to create a book that is both relentlessly positive and relentlessly real about the human heart. It’s probably all of this and more. If you’re looking for something to whisk you away–something entirely free of cell phones and instead draped with bobbin lace–this is it.



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