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Sep. 28th, 2016

Garden TimeGarden Time by W.S. Merwin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A simply beautiful book of poetry. Merwin, one of our greatest living poets, writes brilliantly about growing older and contemplating existence, nature, and love. This is one of those books you just want hand out to everyone and demand that they read it. Simply put, it is a classic. Highest recommendation.



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Upstream: Selected EssaysUpstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


An essay collection from Mary Oliver in which she explores several of her usual themes - nature and man's place in it, her writing process, and her influences such as Whitman, Emerson, Poe, and Longfellow. Some of the essays are so beautifully written they could stand as prose poems. The essay form allows for more elaboration and more straight story-telling and serves her well, particularly the nature pieces. The pieces on her process are fascinating while the essays regarding her influences, while interesting, feel a little short.

[I received an advanced e-galley through Netgalley. The book is due to be published October 11, 2016.]



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Sep. 7th, 2016

The Spectral LinkThe Spectral Link by Thomas Ligotti

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book consists of two long short stories (each around 45 pages) by the contemporary writer of existential horror. "Metaphysica Morum" is an expression and discussion of the nihilistic and pessimistic philosophy by a man disenchanted with the world (much like Ligotti himself). "The Small People" is the stronger story focusing on the limits of human knowledge and confronting the "unreal." This is the kind of writing that gets under your skin and in your head more than jumps out at you with visceral scares and Ligotti is a master of making the reader question assumptions about the world.




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Sep. 7th, 2016

A Small Porch: Sabbath Poems 2014A Small Porch: Sabbath Poems 2014 by Wendell Berry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Gathering poems Berry wrote during his sabbaths of 2014 and 2015, this book serves as a follow-up to This Day: New and Collected Sabbath Poems 1979 - 2012 which gathered previous years. While a long essay makes up half the book, I found the poetry strong, exhibiting Berry's characteristic reflections on the relations of man and nature. This is not the place to start with Berry but it is an excellent addition to his body of work.



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Sep. 7th, 2016

This Present Moment: New PoemsThis Present Moment: New Poems by Gary Snyder

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


His first collection since 2004, this book finds Gary Snyder to be a strong, vital poet speaking on nature and spirit. The longer poem, "Go Now," written about the death of his wife is a devastating and powerful piece that only increases Snyder's already strong reputation. A strong entry in the work of an important American poet.



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Sep. 7th, 2016

The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library, #1)The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The Invisible Library exists between alternate dimensions and gathers important works from each of them for posterity and preservation. Irene is a Librarian and she and her assistant Kai are sent to a chaos-infested version of England to collect a book of Grimm's tales. This book is a fun start to a new series with a lot of potential for more adventure and I enjoyed it immensely. I'm already excited for book #2.



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Aug. 10th, 2016

Whereas: PoemsWhereas: Poems by Stephen Dunn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Stephen Dunn is one of our best contemporary poets and this book finds him exploring life and nature, finding both beauty and confusion as he ages. His poems are deceptive and alluring in their analysis of the everyday and finding more. Always thoughtful and provocative, this book further cements Dunn's already strong reputation.

[I received an advanced e-galley from the publisher in exchange for this review. The book is due to be published February 21, 2017.]



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Pay The GhostPay The Ghost by Tim Lebbon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


A short story to be sold as a Kindle Single. A year after a young girl goes missing, her father has abandoned hope of ever finding her when her mother returns, saying she knows where she is. What they find is horrific and gruesome. This story layers on a lot of creepiness and horror in a short span, but I felt it would have been more effective if it had been flushed out even more. A movie starring Nicholas Cage has been made (I haven't seen it and do not know if I will).

[I received an e-galley of this book through Netgalley.]



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Jul. 13th, 2016

Grief Is the Thing with FeathersGrief Is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Two young boys and their father cope with the sudden unexpected loss of the mother/wife. They are visited by a crow who assists them in coping with their grief. This brief novel reads fast and the chapters do have almost a poetic quality, but I found little resonance with the characters or their grief. The whole novel feels more conceptual than real, some beautiful writing rather than a story.



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Times Alone: Selected PoemsTimes Alone: Selected Poems by Antonio Machado

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Antonio Machado holds a special place in the world of poetry and the literary culture of Spain. This book, translated and with remarks by Robert Bly, includes a selection from each of Machado's books, in Spanish and English. A wonderful introduction to this important poet of nature and the working class of his culture.



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