Book Review – The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben

The Hidden Life of Trees

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World is a nature book by German forester Peter Wohlleben, translated by Jane Billinghurst. This book is the first in a series by the author called The Mysteries of Nature. We all understand that trees are alive, but they’re so different from us that it’s hard not to objectify them, especially with how we use them as a resource. While his observations and experiences working in forestry serve as the foundation of his understanding, in this book Wohlleben brings together a wealth of modern scientific knowledge about trees that uncovers the unseen ways that they live and interact with each other, helping to make them relatable to the human experience and fostering an understanding of how we can help them flourish.Read More »

Book Review – On Earth as it is in Hell by Brian Hodge

On Earth as it is in Hell

Published in 2005, On Earth as it is in Hell by Brian Hodge is the third novel based on the Hellboy comic book series and the first not written by Christopher Golden. Unlike the previous two novels, this book is considered to be outside of the accepted canon of stories. It does however work off of established Hellboy continuity up until the point that it was published.

Hellboy, Abe Sapien, and other agents of the BPRD are brought to the Vatican after a fiery attack upon the archives kills a number of people, destroying many priceless texts from history in the process. One survived, however, which Hellboy believes to have been the true target of the attack: The Masada Scroll, purportedly written by Jesus of the Nazarene himself decades after the crucifixion. The culprits? None other than seraphim, having unleashed devasting heavenly fire. But why would agents of Heaven enact such death and destruction? In trying to keep the scroll safe for the Vatican, Hellboy and company come up against heretical fanatics, diabolical deities, and a conspiracy to bring about Hell on Earth.Read More »

Book Review – Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett

Witches Abroad

Witches Abroad is the 12th novel in Terry Pratchett’s comic fantasy Discworld series, and the third in the “Witches” subset of books. Desiderata Hollow knows that soon she will pass on. She’s a witch. Witches are good at knowing things like this. The problem is, she’s also a fairy godmother to a girl far across the Disc in a land called Genua, whose destiny is being meddled with. She passes her wand onto Magrat Garlick, one of the witches of in the kingdom of Lancre, with express instructions to travel to Genua to help this girl, and to not allow the other witches Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg to help her (knowing full well that those two will do the exact opposite of what is asked of them). Their objective vague and their destination clear, the trio commence their long journey to Genua.Read More »

Book Review – Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman

Fragile Things

Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders is a 2006 collection of short stories and poems by Neil Gaiman. Most of the pieces contained within are actually reprints, previously having appeared in anthologies, literary magazines, music albums, and in one case paired with a picture in a photography book. Most relevant to some, perhaps, is the final novella-length story The Monarch of the Glen, which is a sequel to the novel American Gods that takes inspiration from the story Beowulf. This book also contains the story “How to Talk to Girls at Parties” which was adapted into a film in 2017.Read More »

Book Review – The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

The Wonder

Set in the Irish Midlands in the 1850s, Emma Donoghue’s The Wonder is a historical novel following Lib Wright, an English nurse and trainee of the famous Florence Nightingale (the pioneer of modern nursing). She is brought to rural Ireland at the request of a committee of locals to act as sentinel to an 11-year-old girl named Anna O’Donnell. She and her family claim that through God’s will she can live without eating, and has supposedly done so for three months already. Lib’s job, working in shifts with a nun, is to continuously watch the girl for two weeks to see if she is indeed a miraculous child or merely conning her community and the people at large who flock to see her.Read More »

Book Review – Lost Stars by Claudia Gray

Lost Stars

Released as part of the Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens series of media, Lost Stars by Claudia Gray is a standalone Young Adult Star Wars novel with a largely original cast of characters. It follows the lives of two childhood friends, Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree, starting when they are only children on the day their home planet of Jelucan is annexed by the Galactic Empire. Growing up with aspirations of joining the Imperial Academy and one day becoming pilots, the pair are inseparable as they work to achieve their dreams. But war looms on the horizon as rebel forces become more and more prominent, thrusting them into a conflict that forces them down opposing paths and challenges whether bonds of loyalty and love for each other can survive the ravages of war.Read More »

Book Review – The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World by Steve Brusatte is a nonfiction paleontology book published in 2018 that tells the story of the dinosaurs. It starts from their emergence on a dramatically changed Earth in the Triassic period, to their growth into dominance in the Jurassic period, and finally their peak in the Cretaceous period before their catastrophic end. Though surely only a snapshot into an extensive scientific field, what it offers the everyday reader is a vivid look into what scientists currently know about dinosaurs and how they have learned what they know. In doing so the book also presents an equally valuable glimpse into the field and lab work of paleontologists throughout history and in the modern era.Read More »

Book Review – If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino

if on a winter's night a traveler

If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino is not just one novel, but several. Told in the second-person, the frame narrative tells the story of an unnamed Reader who buys a new book, If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino, only to find that there was a binding issue printing the book and after the first 32 pages the same chapter is repeated throughout, leaving him unable to continue reading after a moment of suspense in the story. Trying to find a complete version of this initial novel he is mistakenly given a completely different novel by another author, which he resigns to read anyway. This too stops short at a moment of suspense, leading him further down a madcap pursuit of novels that he simply wants to finish reading.Read More »

Book Review – Fire & Blood by George R. R. Martin

fire & blood

Set in the world of the Song of Ice and Fire series, Fire & Blood by George R. R. Martin is volume one of a history of House Targaryen’s reign over Westeros, including over 75 black-and-white illustrations by Dough Wheatley. Set about 300 years before the first novel, A Game of Thrones, it begins with Aegon I the Conqueror and concludes after the end of the Regency of Aegon III. This book is uniquely set apart from the main novel series because it is written as a historical text from that literary universe, rather than the narrative form fans of the series are accustomed to. As such we see this history through the lens of Archmaester Gyldayn, about whom we know little as a person, yet he serves as a passive in-universe perspective who offers academic commentary and brief tangents when appropriate.Read More »

Book Review – Tales from a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Aliens by Landry Q. Walker

star wars aliens

Tales from a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Aliens is a collection of short stories by Landry Q. Walker set in the Star Wars universe, targeted at a younger reading audience aged 8 to 12. Contained within are six stories about some of the aliens that make up the background characters of the film The Force Awakens, some more conspicuously than others. The book is labeled “volume one,” but whether or not another book is in the works is unknown to me. I don’t typically read books written more directly for children, but as a fan of the franchise I was drawn to it for the promises of stories more lighthearted as well as outside of the norm by focusing more on aliens than humans.Read More »