What We See in the Stars – Kelsey Oseid

9780399579530.jpeg

Publisher: Ten Speed Press

Publication Date: September 26th, 2017

Page Count: 160 (Hardcover)

About the book:

A richly illustrated guide to the myths, histories, and science of the celestial bodies of our solar system, with stories and information about constellations, planets, comets, the northern lights, and more.

Combining art, mythology, and science, What We See in the Stars gives readers a tour of the night sky through more than 100 magical pieces of original art, all accompanied by text that weaves related legends and lore with scientific facts. This beautifully packaged book covers the night sky’s most brilliant features–such as the constellations, the moon, the bright stars, and the visible planets–as well as less familiar celestial phenomena like the outer planets, nebulae, and deep space. Adults seeking to recapture the magic of youthful stargazing, younger readers interested in learning about natural history and outer space, and those who appreciate beautiful, hand-painted art will all delight in this charming book.

I am blown away by the beauty of this book, starting with the cover, and continuing with the absolutely beautiful illustrations throughout. I’ve always been fascinated by the night sky, and had a telescope at a very young age. What We See in the Stars is a wonderful resource for both children and adults, and makes these topics accessible for any knowledge level.

The book is meticulously organized, beginning with an introduction about where we are in space. That is followed by sections on the constellations, the Milky Way, the Moon, Sun, and planets, as well as asteroids, comets, and meteors, and finally concluding with deep space. Each new section opens with full color, hand painted art depicting the topic to be discussed, and there are additional pieces of art as well as colorful diagrams throughout the book.

The section about constellations, covers Ptolemy’s constellations as well as the Modern constellations and discusses the tools and technologies used to view and study them. Each constellation gets a full page with artwork depicting the actual stars as well as the shape that inspired their name, as well as facts and the history and mythology behind them.

While I very much enjoyed the entire book, The Moon was my favorite section. The artwork was full of dark, rich colors and I could not stop looking at it. This section goes over the different phases of the moon, down to the day, as well as facts about tidal locking and other interesting moon related phenomena. It also talks about all of the different names used to describe a full moon throughout history.

There are so many fun and interesting details throughout this book and I feel like I notice something new every time I flip through it. I cannot wait to share this one with my kids, and I think it would be a really perfect gift for anyone in your life who has an appreciate for space. I will definitely be looking to see what else Kelsey Oseid has created, and if you’re interested, you can read more about her here.

Rating: Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 10.58.06 PM

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. You can read more about the book here.

Advertisements

The Wolf Road – Beth Lewis

61GODxCcISL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Publisher: Crown

Publication Date: July 5th, 2016

Page Count: 368 (Hardcover)

From the Jacket:

Elka barely remembers a time before she knew Trapper.

She was just seven years old, wandering lost and hungry in the wilderness, when the solitary hunter took her in. In the years since then, he’s taught her how to survive in this desolate land where civilization has been destroyed and men are at the mercy of the elements and each other.

But the man Elka thought she knew has been harboring a terrible secret. He’s a killer. A monster. And now that Elka knows the truth, she may be his next victim.

Armed with nothing but her knife and the hard lessons Trapper’s drilled into her, Elka flees into the frozen north in search of her real parents. But judging by the trail of blood dogging her footsteps, she hasn’t left Trapper behind—and he won’t be letting his little girl go without a fight. If she’s going to survive, Elka will have to turn and confront not just him, but the truth about the dark road she’s been set on.

The Wolf Road is an intimate cat-and-mouse tale of revenge and redemption, played out against a vast, unforgiving landscape—told by an indomitable young heroine fighting to escape her past and rejoin humanity.

The Wolf Road drew me in from the first page and had me on the edge of my seat, white knuckled and breathless until I reached the end. Beth Lewis has fully captured my attention with this stunning debut that is unlike anything I’ve ever read. Using stark, simple prose, the story is brilliantly narrated by Elka, a young girl, orphaned and raised in the wild. Set in a series of small gold rush towns where vigilante justice is law, the Wolf Road tells the story of a post apocalyptic world set back to zero after a cold war mistake.

I’ve had this book on my shelves for MONTHS and at this point I cannot remember why I put it off for so long. I finished it last night and just sat there, mouth agape, saying wow over and over until my wife started to look at me funny. This is the third book I’ve read this year, that has been narrated by a young girl and I’m starting to think it’s my new favorite thing. I initially thought i was going to be put off by the style of language she used, but that only lasted for a couple of pages. Elka is one of the most interesting, flawed, and heart breaking characters I’ve ever read.

The story opens with a scene near the end of the book and then makes its way back to it from the beginning. This is a style I particularly enjoy, and it took what was already a quickly moving plot to break neck speeds as I raced to the end both needing to know and desperately not wanting to find out the fates of the characters. It feels odd to say that I enjoyed this book because so much of it is incredibly dark, but I did. So much. And this is one of those books that you could use as a test of character. Recommend it and if the person loves it as much as you, you’ll know you’ve found your people.

Screen Shot 2017-09-18 at 10.22.58 PM.png

Final Thoughts: If you enjoy post-apoctalyptic fiction but are starting to feel like they’re all sort of the same READ THIS BOOK. It’s full of lush descriptions of nature set against graphic descriptions of the damage caused by the war. The characters are complicated and unforgettable and Lewis has a way of causing visceral reactions that make you wonder how you would handle the same situation. I’ll be waiting with baited breath to read whatever she comes up with next, and you can read more about her here.

Rating: Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 10.58.06 PM

Favorite Characters: Elka, Penelope, Wolf

Memorable Quotes:

I tried picturing all those places on that map of BeeCee. That’s what we call our country now, just letters of its real name what most people have forgot or don’t care to remember. The map said that old name behind all the scribblings, all the new borders and territories my nana drawn on, but I could only read letters then, not whole words. All I know is that one day all the maps became useless and we had to make our own. The old’uns called that day the Fall or the Reformation. Nana said some down in the far south called it Rapture. Nana was a babe when it happened, said her momma called it the Big Damn Stupid. Set everything back to zero. I never asked why, never much cared. Life is life and you got to live it in the here- now not the back- then. And the here- now for little me was the Thick Woods, with night coming fast.

One a’ them rules is don’t go trusting another man’s path…People do it, they do what their mommies and daddies did, they make them same mistakes, they have them same joys and hurts, they just repeating. Trees don’t grow exactly where their momma is; ain’t no room…I weren’t following no one up through life.

Smell a’ bacon. Ain’t nothing in this world like it. Salt-cured, sliced thick, line a’ juicy fat crisping up in the pan. Anyone what tells you they don’t like bacon is either stupid or lying. Either way that ain’t no one you can trust.

Way I reckon it, men killed more wolves than wolves ever killed men. I know who I’m more afraid of.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

 

Goodbye, Vitamin – Rachel Khong

51+SgqT67tL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.

Publication Date: July 11th, 2017

Page Count: 208 (Hardcover)

From the Jacket:

Freshly disengaged from her fiancé and feeling that life has not turned out quite the way she planned, thirty-year-old Ruth quits her job, leaves town and arrives at her parents’ home to find that situation more complicated than she’d realized. Her father, a prominent history professor, is losing his memory and is only erratically lucid. Ruth’s mother, meanwhile, is lucidly erratic. But as Ruth’s father’s condition intensifies, the comedy in her situation takes hold, gently transforming her all her grief.
Told in captivating glimpses and drawn from a deep well of insight, humor, and unexpected tenderness, Goodbye, Vitamin pilots through the loss, love, and absurdity of finding one’s footing in this life.

When I initially read the jacket for this book, I considered not starting it. Expecting a sad, despairing narrative about a young woman watching her father slowly decline from Alzheimer’s disease, I was very pleasantly surprised to find Goodbye, Vitamin really isn’t about that at all. Ruth does in fact, return home to care for her father, Howard, who is losing his memory. However, the plot focuses on a year they spend together, while Khong expertly weaves in details from the past. It’s about love and the complexities and dysfunction of families. Written in journal entires that flow together almost like a stream of consciousness, it is impossible to put down. Khong’s prose is so stark and tender and I think it’s the simplicity of it that pulled me in.

This story is so quirky and bittersweet. Ruth’s father keeps a journal of all of the things she says to him as a young child, and these tidbits were my favorite part. The limitless imagination of children is perfectly rendered in these entries and they pulled mightily at my heart strings. Each one a reminder of how fleeting the time is when children are young and full of wonder. Despite being exhausting, and often feeling like each day is just surviving to the end of it, it made me pause and remember to cherish these moments with them.

Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 9.49.00 PM.png

Final Thoughts: This book is heartwarming and tender and quirky and even funny, despite the dark subject matter. The overall impression is very bittersweet, but I still enjoyed it immensely. It’s a quick read and the writing is truly terrific. I will definitely pick up more by this author in the future.

Rating: Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 11.10.19 PM

Favorite Characters: The Howard who writes the journal entries

Memorable Quotes:

If I were you is something I’ve never really understood. Why say, “If I were you”? Why say, “If I were you,” when the problem is you’re not me? I wish people would say, “Since I am me, ” followed by whatever advice it is they have.

What imperfect carriers of love we are, and what imperfect givers. That the reasons we can care for one another can have nothing to do with the person cared for. That it has only to do with who we were around that person — what we felt about that person.

At one point Dad emerges, shirtless, into the kitchen, to brew himself coffee. I get my nipples from him, I realize, alarmed.