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My Year of Bookish Wisdom: 2016

Introduction: A Year of Contradictions This last year was quite a ride. Without doubt, 2016 was one of the most dynamic years of my life, both in terms of personal development and world events. When I look back on it years from now, I expect to experience feelings of deep ambivalence. This was the year [...]

Review: Ilona Andrews’s “Magic Shifts”

It’s understandable that the eighth book in a fantasy series might come off a bit stale. Ilona Andrews’s Kate Daniels series is one of the best I’ve come across, but Magic Shifts is far from its best installment. Fortunately, what constitutes a slump for this story could be the peak of many lesser narratives, so there [...]

Review: Ian McEwan’s “Nutshell”

I’m one of those people who thinks Shakespeare’s Hamlet is the apotheosis of English literature. I’ve never encountered another text that can move me so profoundly, entertain me so thoroughly, or describe the human condition with commensurate depth and clarity. I consider Hamlet to be a once-in-a-civilization––perhaps even a once-in-a-species––creation. So, in one way, I am the perfect [...]

Review: Adrienne Rich’s “On Lies, Secrets, and Silence”

Months ago, my decision to purchase this book was an act of intellectual calculation. I’d heard an excellent recommendation on a podcast, and believed dipping into the mind of Adrienne Rich would be edifying. In the wake of the recent election, however, I grabbed this collection of essays off my bookshelf in an act of [...]

Review: Ilona Andrews’s “Magic Breaks”

One can only gush so much about a series before things get ugly, so I’ll try to keep this brief. Magic Breaks is proof that a creative and heartfelt narrative populated with memorable characters can keep evolving in fresh and meaningful ways, long past the point where lesser stories founder. This particular installment of Kate Daniels’s story [...]

Review: Ilona Andrews’s “Magic Rises”

The sixth Kate Daniels book injects much-needed fresh energy into this terrific fantasy series. Instead of sticking around Atlanta as usual, Kate and her “collection of uncanny misfits” voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in search of a rare substance that can help stabilize the development of the Pack’s adolescents (281). In exchange for this substance, [...]

Review: Evan Osnos’s “Age of Ambition”

Evan Osnos’s Age of Ambition is packed with detailed observations and curious facts that will edify anyone looking to learn about modern China’s domestic structure and growing role on the international stage. Osnos is a talented writer whose style can be described as “humanist nonfiction”––a series of interview-based narratives organized by theme and supported by ancillary research. [...]

Review: Ilona Andrews’s “Magic Slays”

Two-thirds of the way through, I was all set to give Magic Slays a lukewarm review. I felt like I was reading the inevitable slump in Kate Daniels’s story––the one where her clever mouth, kick-ass fighting moves, and romantic difficulties all start to feel more enervating than exciting. And while there is an element of routine in [...]

Review: Ilona Andrews’s “Magic Bleeds”

Better and better. I continue to be impressed with the deliberate and patient fashion in which Ilona Andrews lays out the story of Kate Daniels, an eminently-lovable lady who I’m quickly coming to see as my generation’s Harry Potter for adults. Magic Bleeds is my favorite book of the series so far, and contains several notable [...]

Review: Ilona Andrews’s “Magic Strikes”

Ilona Andrews’s Kate Daniels series is a gift that keeps on giving. After thoroughly enjoying the first two books, my delight continued right up to the final page of the third installment, Magic Strikes. The seductive nature of this world and its characters springs from Andrews’s near-perfect balance between novelty and familiarity. The story continues [...]