Review: Babel, Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translator' Revolution, by R F Kuang

Babel, Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translator' Revolution, or as we will call it for the remainder of this review- Babel, was nothing short of extraordinary.

Are you a lover of languages? There is no doubt in my mind that the author spent hours, days, months, if not years researching the many intricacies of languages and translation. I love the study of languages. I am fluent in two, and studied ancient Greek at university. So, needless to say, I was very impressed with this author's work and 'geeking out' with the author throughout the whole book. It was fascinating to say the least.

Review: Brave Hearted:The Women of the American West by Katie Hickman

Review by Luanne Clark

Books and books have been written about the American West of the nineteenth century. Most of these are oversimplified accounts of the dominance of man over nature (and other men). Well, move over all you trappers, cowboys, miners, prospectors and soldiers. Katie Hickman gives us a history of the Westward Expansion that tells of the lives of the “ordinary” women of the time.  Using diaries, journals, letters,  and memoirs as primary sources, and supplemented with factual exposition written with the flair of a novelist, Brave Hearted is both gritty and heartfelt. 

The determination and resilience of these women are portrayed against the backdrop of the desolate and unforgiving wilderness of the American West. And Hickman’s stories are all-inclusive. We are very familiar with stories of the Oregon Trail, but the author includes the histories of the Native American women of the era as they battled the ravages of cholera and the loss of their traditional way of life. Hickman also relates the stories of African American women, both slave and freed, as they become part of the new American frontier. Asian women, predominantly Chinese, are a big part of the new California, as are the Mexican women who were there before and after the Mexican American War.

Review: East of the Sun, West of The Moon by Jakie Morris

This cold and, so far, dreary winter makes me long to curl up a good book to lift my spirits. I just want to sit down with some hot cocoa while reading a cozy and fun pick-me-up story. East of Sun, West of the Moon by Jackie Morris was a natural choice. Morris’s beautiful re-telling of the classic Norwegian fairy-tail is one I return to again and again when I need a little bright spot in winter. I particularly love and connect with this story due to my own Norwegian heritage.

Review: Empire of Ice and Stone by Buddy Levy

Review by J.T. Menard

It’s frigid here in the Yakima Valley as I write this. Temperatures are expected to head into the single
digits just in time for Christmas. As I deal with the local cold snap, it gives me a newfound respect for the
turn-of-the-twentieth-century explorers who willingly braved far colder conditions in the Arctic and
Antarctic. Roald Amundsen, Robert Falcon Scott, Ernst Shackleton, these are the well-known names of
polar exploration.

2022 Bestsellers & Staff Favorites

It is that time of the year again, when we reflect on all we have accomplished, or in our case, on all we have read!
Our Bestsellers and Favorite reads for this year are varied in genre, length, and style, and we hope you find a book (or three) in this list to add to your 'must read' pile. 
Our top Bestsellers (instore and online), in order, are: The Luke McCain Mysteries by Rob Phillips; The Dark Olympus Series by Katee Robert; Tanum by Susan Summit Cyr; Criminal Prosecutor: The Fight for Yakima by V. Kusske; It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover; Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens; Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid; Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown; The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy, and Verity by Colleen Hoover.
We have shared all these titles with you in our seasonal bestsellers lists this year through our Reviews at the Yakima Herald Explore. So to diversify things a little, we are going to give our Staff Favorites as well. Our personal favorite reads this year are:
The Warsaw Orphan by Kelly Rimmer (Graydon House, $17.99)
The Warsaw Orphan is a WWII historical fiction novel based on real life events. It follows Elzbieta Rabinek over the course of the war, her involvement with the Resistance, and her love for a young man imprisoned in the Jewish ghetto whose passion leads him to fight in the Warsaw Uprising. 
Bravely by Maggie Stiefvater (Disney Press, $19.99)
Maggie Stiefvater has been a favorite author within the Young Adult genre for a long while and her books are always a favorite. In Bravely Princess Merida embarks in a series of epic journeys trying to save those she loves from a supernatural being that appears on Christmas Eve with the intention of destroying her kingdom. 
The Ballad of Never After is the second book in the Once a Broken Heart Series. The series is a Young Adult tale about love, curses, and what people are willing to do for their happily ever after. A beautiful fairytale full of magic and adventure perfect for the modern reader, that be young adult or adult!
The Birdcage by Eve Chase (G.P. Putnam's Sons, $27)
The Birdcage is "an emotional mystery set in the rugged remote landscape of north Cornwall full of dark secrets and twists, about three unusual sisters forced to confront the past." -publisher's marketing
Late Migrations by Margaret Renkl (Milkweed Editions, $16)
"I always look forward to Margaret Renkl's writing on nature and culture in the New York Times. This collection of essays includes stories of family members she lovingly remembers and keen observations of the natural world in the American South."- Amy Harlvorson Miller, Inklings Assistant Manager
Red Rising by Pierce Brown (Del Rey Book, $17)
This is the only sci-fi in our list and it is loved by many. Pierce Brown's work has been published in thirty three languages! The main character Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. He and his fellow Reds work all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations. Except that has been accomplished generations ago by the powerful. Longing for Justice he infiltrates their prestigious Institute with the intention of bringing them down. 
This book is a wonderful mix of whimsical tale and the macabre. Hart is a demigod and a marshal tasked with the job of patrolling the magical lands of Tanria. He is so lonely he one days writes a letter addressed simply to "a friend". The letter is delivered to the undertaker (a mortician of sorts) who he has a horrible relationship with. But he doesn't know it's her, she doesn't know it's him, and through letters they discover there is more to both of them than what they see at work. 
"Bestselling author Cheryl Strayed has for more than a decade dispensed advice under her pseudonym Dear Sugar in various formats. This book compiles the best of her articles. It's encouraging, funny, challenging, and downright delightful. It's a book for everyone." - Amy Stoothof, Inklings Bookseller
This is the story of three Vampire girls seeking revenge against their mutual ex, who turned them as teens. Holly has been trapped at the age of 16 for over 30 years now, only being able to do crappy jobs and not succeed in life due to her apparent 'age'. When her ex abandons her she discovers she is not the first and they band together to seek revenge and stop him from preying on others. The book is for those that like a vampire story but also those that like books that emphasize female friendship and found family. 

Review: What If 2 by Randall Munroe

Review by JT Menard

In 2014, Randall Munroe, the creator of the popular web comic XKCD released his first book,
“What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions”. The book used
Munroe’s background in physics and experience as a former NASA programmer to answer a
variety of theoretically possible scientific questions. For example, what if a major league pitcher
could throw a baseball at 99% the speed of light? Answer: Nuclear explosion. The book was
popular and paved the way for two other books, “How To?” and “Thing Explainer”. While
unique and interesting in their own way, neither reached the heights of “What If?”. Munroe has
now followed up with a sequel, “What If? 2: More Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd
Hypothetical Questions”.

Review: Now is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson

Reviewer: Lex Weber, Inklings Bookseller

I’m admittedly not much of a literary fiction reader. I find that the story lines of literary fiction in comparison to the epics of fantasy, for some reason, make me more emotional. Maybe that’s just simply because literary fiction is quite a bit more relatable than worlds I’ll never experience, but either way, I tend to avoid them. 

Something about Now is Not the Time to Panic stood out to me though, the premise of two teenage artists accidentally causing mass hysteria in the Satanic Panic-obsessed 1990s was alluring. The majority of the story follows 16-year-old Frankie, who is used to her humdrum Tennessee hometown when she meets Zeke, a goofy boy who’s new in town after being the one to discover his father had not one, but multiple girlfriends around the East Coast. 

Signed Books for Christmas with Rebecca Zanetti and Kristin Vayden

We have been doing the Signed Books for Christmas Event for 3 years now, every December. It is always a lot of fun seeing the store all ready for Christmas, and having authors signing and personalizing their books, making everyone's Christmas present's just a tad more special.
This year we will have two amazing PNW authors here December 3rd, 1-3pm.

Native American Authors in Review

We Recommend:

Title: The Seed Keeper by Diane Wilson

Title: by Robin Wall Kimmerer and adapted by Monique Gray Smith

Title: Keepunumuk: Weeâchumun’s Thanksgiving Story by Danielle Greendeer, Anthony Perry, and Alexis Bunten

The Review:

By Amy Halvorson Miller


During this Native American Heritage Month, let’s hear from some Indigenous authors to expand our knowledge of their many tribes and stories. Listen to what they can teach us about their history, but even more, how we can gain understanding for our future with one another as well as the land, our home.

First, an immersive work of historical fiction, The Seed Keeper by Diane Wilson, won the 2022 Minnesota Book Award for Fiction. The story begins in Dakhóta country, 2002. An alternating timeline across generations tells the history of Rosalie Iron Wing and her ancestors whose land in Minnesota was stolen in 1862. Rosalie, an orphan and later a widow, returns to her childhood house to heal and somehow connect with her people through friendship and memories of her father’s teachings. 

Local Fifth Graders Review The Last Mapmaker

Review by Luanne Clark

Sometimes independent bookstores are offered unique opportunities to partner with their local communities in meaningful projects. This happened for Inklings recently. Random House Publishing provided 25 copies of the newly released children’s chapter book,  The Last Mapmaker, to be given to students to review. We were fortunate to partner with a class of fifth graders at Naches Valley Middle School and their teacher, Michelle Downs. Each student received their own copy of The Last Mapmaker and Mrs. Downs guided the reading and the writing of the reviews. At the conclusion of the project, a group of teachers read the reviews and chose 4 that impressed them above the others. These students received gift cards from Inklings and the whole class enjoyed a celebration of donuts and pizza. A good book and pizza! Two of the greatest!

Here are the reviews that were chosen for publication.