Books

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

Free Chocolate Is a Sci-Fi Novel That May Cause Cravings

Disclaimer: Free Chocolate is a space opera by Amber Royer, not a promotion for sweet treats. The premise of the book is that in a futuristic world, chocolate is now one of Earth’s most valuable currencies, and it needs to be kept safe. One of the things that I loved is that the main character—a Latina woman named Bo—is highly capable and instigates a lot of action in the novel, from stealing a cacao pod to becoming a fugitive...

12+ Queer Anthologies to Wrap Up Your Pride Month

Pride Month is wrapping up, but it’s always a good time of year to read queer-themed literature. But what do you do if you don’t have time to read a whole novel? Summer is busy, after all, even though it’s supposed to be time off. The solution? Short stories, of course! Here are a bunch of queer-themed anthologies, containing everything from comics to essays to poems to fiction, romance, contemporary, speculative, you name it. 1. Meanwhile, Elsewhere, edited by...

Local Writers Show A Good Time for the Truth about Race Is Right Now

What makes Minnesota the state it is today? If you asked that question to a room of 50 people, I bet you would get at least 50 different responses. Some might mention the sports, the food, the winter (?) . . . others might mention a little thing called “Minnesota Nice.” Many consider the term as one of endearment—a sign of our good nature toward others and comfort in our neighborhoods. To others, however, it may ultimately lead to...

The Perfect Scoop, Now in Its Second Edition, Is Perfect for Minnesota Summer

It’s just spent a week over 90 in Minnesota, a month after the last snowstorm, so it’s definitely time to start thinking about ice cream. If you have made ice cream at home, you have probably at least heard of David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop, originally published in 2008 and generally considered to be a seminal text on the topic. The author is also very generous with sharing recipes on his blog, so even if you haven’t purchased the...

Circe Revisits the Odyssey and Other Greek Mythology from a New Point of View

I have to make a confession: it has been over a decade since I studied the Odyssey. While I do remember enjoying that unit of my college freshman English class, enough time has passed that I cannot recollect as many of the details as I would like. So, when Madeline Miller’s Circe, which tells the sorceress’s perspective on the Odyssey, arrived as part of my favorite book subscription box, I had to refresh myself on who she was. It bothered...

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...
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