Books

Reviews of both new release and older books from many different genres including science fiction, fantasy, horror, young adult, and nonfiction.

Give a Girl a Knife Gives a Taste of a Minnesota Chef’s Journey

Amy Thielen’s memoir, Give a Girl a Knife, tells the story of a food geek’s journey (with her partner, Aaron) from suburban northern Minnesota to a homestead in the woods, to gritty line-cook gigs in Manhattan, and back again. It’s a harrowing tapestry of hotdish-centric Midwest cooking and reality-show kitchen angst with Thielen at the center, providing a perspective that can only come from deep reflection. I must admit a bias here before going farther: I’m a little burnt...

Children of Blood and Bone Succeeds as a Fantasy Novel and a Call to Action

Children of Blood and Bone follows the tradition of using fantasy as a way to bring light to pressing social issues in our culture. It is an adventure story in which a woman is discovering her magical abilities and the people in her community are looking to her for leadership to rise against the oppressive monarchy. In the world of the book, magic comes from a mystical connection to ancestors, and incantations are used as a way to connect...

A Minnesota-Created Book Series Uses DC Superheroes to Teach Character Lessons

As a parent trying to ensure my child has an understanding of how her actions affect the world around her, it’s always helpful to have examples to make an abstract concept more concrete. If those examples can include things she finds relevant or interesting, then it’s even better. Fortunately, Minnesota publisher Capstone has recently released a series of books aimed at young children that use DC Comics characters to illustrate positive character traits. The books are wonderfully illustrated by...

New People Explores Race and Relationships with Dark Humor

Like her previous novels, Danzy Senna’s New People, released last year, explores race and relationships in 21st-century America. The novel centers on Maria, who is getting ready to marry her college sweetheart, Khalil, but is fixated on someone else—a poet who seemingly doesn’t know she exists. Both Maria and Khalil are mixed race, and are taking part in a documentary about the “new people,” or those who are paving the way for a different and better future at the...

Minnesota Newbery Medalist Kelly Barnhill Writes Captivating Stories for Adults

Could a writer who once put me in a magical trance with a children’s book deliver an equally stunning book for adults? This question was on my mind when I picked up Minnesota author Kelly Barnhill’s new book, Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories, which is a collection of short stories for an adult audience. I loved Barnhill’s The Girl Who Drank the Moon, a children’s fantasy that won a Newbery Medal. So, I picked up Dreadful Young Ladies...

4 Winter-Sports Romances to Kick Off the Olympic Games

Now that that sporting event is over and the eagleBOLTbar can go back to its usual crowd of Bears fans (credit for that joke goes to Jana Shortal, who is more clever than I am), we can concentrate on what is a much, much geekier sporting event: the Winter Olympics. With such events as curling, skeleton, and biathlon, how can the games not be geek approved? And here in Minnesota we know from ice and snow, so here are...

The Fifth Season Explores Nature, Race, and Sexuality in a Postapocalyptic World

At the risk of having my geekdom revoked, I should admit something right up front: I don’t read very much sci fi. I thought, for a long time, that I didn’t like sci fi, which is an even more egregious offense. It turns out, though, that what I don’t like is the overarching white maleness of the genre as it’s presented in mainstream culture. But sci fi written by women, queer folks, and people of color exists, and it’s...

6 Books to Warm Up Your Winter Reading

It’s still winter in Minnesota and will be for some time yet, as much as we all may wish otherwise. While many of us in the Twin Cities got a good dose of snow this past week, some of the city plows are a little too efficient, and I, personally, didn’t get to spend any time being snowed into my house. If I had, though, here are six books I might have read while curled up by the fireplace,...

Music Critic Chris Riemenschneider Unpacks First Avenue’s Legacy

April 3, 1970. That’s the night Joe Cocker and his entourage of over 40 people and a dog formally opened the doors at the Depot, which later morphed into Uncle Sam’s, then Sam’s, and finally First Avenue, the name Minneapolis’s storied live music venue holds to this day. Over five decades, the club has gone through numerous changes beyond its namesake, hosting a bevy of acclaimed artists and bands, including prominent out-of-town acts U2, Nirvana, Ice Cube, and Green...

Artemis Is Lighthearted Sci-Fi Entertainment from the Author of The Martian

In 2014, Andy Weir’s self-published book The Martian was picked up by a major publisher. Just a year and a half later, it was a major motion picture starring Matt Damon that went on to gross over $630 million. Given that history, it’s not too surprising that Fox bought the film rights to Weir’s newest book, Artemis, months before it was even published. The new novel tells the story of Jasmine “Jazz” Bashara, a 20-something petty criminal born and...
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