Anne Z.'s blog

The Perfect Coffee Table Books for the ‘hard to buy’ friends this Christmas

Plantopedia: The Definitive Guide to Houseplants by Lauren Camilleri and Sophia Kaplan 

Last spring, many of us, myself included, went a little overboard with their houseplant shopping. Spring may be long over, but now we need to keep those babies alive or risk having to buy them all over again next spring. So what better than a coffee table book on houseplants for that friend and/or family member that got a new hobby this year as a Christmas gift? This book has over 130 plant profiles with detailed plant care information, tips and tricks to keep them healthy, and it is absolutely stunning! 

 

Big Dog, Little Dog by Seth Casteel 

Do you have a dog lover in your life? Or just an animal lover? This is the book for them.

Seth Casteel is an award-winning photographer and the author of the national Bestsellers Underwater Dogs (I have an awesome puzzle made of 4 pictures from that book), and Underwater Puppies. His photographs have been featured everywhere! 

Big Dog, Little Dog is, as the title suggests, a wonderful collection of expertly timed photographs, each featuring two dogs, one big, one small. Through photographs, the book explores the diversity in dog sizes and their relationships to each other. 

 

The Joy of Watercolor: 40 Happy Lessons for Painting the World Around You by Emma Block

If you're looking for a fun way to spend a relaxing Sunday afternoon, this easy to learn watercolor book is for you! I love that it can be shared between the beginner and the advanced painter. Emma Block provides clear instructions on how to paint your own masterpieces, all while giving you encouragement to see the beauty in the ordinary. From flowers, to objects, to people, you’ll be seeing the world through joyful colors as you paint the world around you. Who knows what inspiring art lies within your heart! This book would be a great addition to your book collection or a thoughtful gift to those you love this holiday season. Happy art making to you! 

 

Black Ballerinas: My Journey to our Legacy by Misty Copeland 

Everything about this book is inspiring; from the stories of triumph contained within its pages to the stunning artwork displayed for the readers to see. Being seen, heard and known is vital to human existence. So many of these powerful women of color had to stand firm in the face of oppression and not give up when the world around them didn’t support their dreams. Because of their courage to fight back, they paved the way for others to experience a better life. Misty Copeland honors those that came before her in a very special way that everyone should read. It is a beautiful tribute to the sacrifices endured and the victories gained from these talented, hardworking, and dedicated women. As you read their stories I hope that it will bring new understandings to your heart and light a fire in you to follow your dreams. 

This Week's Review - Nov 17th, 2021

 

 

Cooking Healthy by Elaina Moon

The conventional wisdom is that home cooking is far healthier than eating out or consuming overly processed foods. I think this is generally true, but one thing left out of this assumption is the fact that many cookbooks contain recipes that are overladen with calories and unhealthy ingredients. Evidently the secret to most tasty recipes is sugar and butter, so much butter. If recipes are not unhealthy, they may require an abundance of obscure ingredients or be incredibly time intensive.

Fortunately for the impatient and health-conscious cooks among us, author Elaina Moon’s new cookbook “Cooking Healthy with Elaina Moon” is full of—as you might have guess from the title—healthy recipes that are inexpensive, simple to make, and don’t take long to prep. Moon is a certified health coach and holds a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from Central Washington University. Since 2015, she has owned and operated Healthy Eats Nutrition Services in Yakima, where she offers individual health coaching services and leads popular community cooking classes multiple times a month. I attended one of Moon’s cooking classes a few months back and was impressed enough to snag a copy of her newly released cookbook when copies arrived at Inklings Bookshop.

The cookbook contains 78 recipes divided into breakfasts, soups & salads, quick meals, easy sides, comfort foods, everyday sauces, and desserts. All the recipes are plant-based, but most can be easily modified to add the meat of your choice, if that’s your preference. Each recipe contains nutritional information, detailing the number of calories and the amount of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, fiber, and sodium contained per serving. Perfect for someone who prefers to count their calories or macros. 

Thus far my favorite recipe in the book is the Indian Red Lentil Soup. The ingredients cost me less than $10 dollars at the grocery store (minus the spices, which will run you more but will also last for many meals), and it took me less than an hour to chop up the vegetables and cook the soup. The result was a warm and tasty soup which complimented the rainy Yakima weather. Best yet, enough leftovers remained to make several more meals.

Moon must be commended for putting together such a simple, yet elegant cookbook. “Cooking Healthy with Elaina Moon” is perfect for individuals or families looking for a cost-conscious way to eat healthy, delicious food. Yakima is fortunate to have her expertise.

Review by J.T. Menard

This Week's Review

The Little Witch Hazel by Pheobe Wahl 

The children’s picture book, Little Witch Hazel: A Year in the Forest, is a delightful and cozy book to cuddle with your kid this winter. The art is what initially drew me into this book; the colorful illustrations are simple, yet striking. It seems reminiscent of Beatrix Potter’s tales and art. If you love the outdoors, living off the land, and anything to do with nature and living in a cottage in the woods away from the hustle and bustle of modern life, you will absolutely adore this book.

The protagonist, Hazel, is a small witch with a bright red, cone-shaped hat who lives in a forest and tends to herself, the land, and her neighbors. Our story carries us through all the seasons, but starts in spring. The forest is refreshing and the flowers are blooming when she finds a large egg and decides to hatch it within her own home. It hatches into an owlet and she helps raise it, soon finding the bird leaving her home. 

Summer comes a time for her to realize that relaxing and taking time to care for yourself is just as important as getting chores done. Enjoying a raft on the river and the racket of being around friends late into the night. Sometimes when life is getting in the way of us doing things we want done, we need to take a step back and give it sometime before starting at it again. 

When autumn arrives, a strange noise is heard throughout the forest. Many of Hazel’s friends have outlandish ideas of what is causing such a ruckus, which makes the forest folk a little scared as they follow Hazel to the noise. The noise turns out to be a new, lonely neighbor. The friends decide to have a nice evening with their new neighbor and share a soup dinner. 

Hazel starts to tend her neighbors’ and friends' health, being a stand-in doctor for them. As she finishes up helping others, it starts to snow. Believing that she can make it through the storm to home, she makes the trekk. As she is starting to feel lonely and lost, a visit from an old friend helps her make it home. 

The heart of this story is a simplistic, community-oriented life, filled with little adages for everyday life and living. People of all ages will find this book charming and heart-warming. A perfect gift for the person who loves rustic beauty for this holiday season. 

Review by Samwise McGinn

October Bestsellers 2021

 

  - Dune by Frank Herbert 

"NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE directed by Denis Villeneuve, starring Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Jason Momoa, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Chang Chen, Charlotte Rampling, and Javier Bardem.

Frank Herbert’s classic masterpiece—a triumph of the imagination and one of the bestselling science fiction novels of all time." - pub. marketing

 - Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

 - Verge by Patrick Wyman

"The creator of the hit podcast series Tides of History and Fall of Rome explores the four explosive decades between 1490 and 1530, bringing to life the dramatic and deeply human story of how the West was reborn." - pub. marketing

- Peril by Bob Woodward

- Fesh Brewed Murder by Emmeline Duncan

"With its entrepreneurial, 20-something protagonist, focus on a hipster-run food truck pod in Portland, Oregon, and real-world issues involving homelessness and gentrification, Fresh Brewed Murder is a trendy, updated cozy mystery that offers strong appeal to Millennial and Gen Z readers.

Master barista Sage Caplin is opening a new coffee cart in Portland, Oregon, but a killer is brewing up a world of trouble..." - pub. marketing

- Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music by Dave Grohl

- Cascade Killer by Rob Phillips

- State of Terror by Louise Penny and Hillary R. Clinton

- The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor J. Reid

"From the New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Jones & the Six—an entrancing and “wildly addictive journey of a reclusive Hollywood starlet” (PopSugar) as she reflects on her relentless rise to the top and the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine." - pub. marketing

- Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff

"From New York Times bestselling author Jay Kristoff comes Empire of the Vampire, the first illustrated volume of an astonishing new dark fantasy saga." - pub. marketing

"Simply put, Empire of the Vampire is an impressively built beast, bursting with supernatural lore and promise. With plenty of detail and twists to keep the reader intrigued, we’re predicting this to be a new favorite of the genre." —The Nerd Daily

 

Other worthy mentions

Bestesellers in:

Young Adult: Girll From the Sea by Molly Knox Ostertag (graphic novel )

Children's Picture Book: Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson

Manga: Fangs Vol. 1 by Billy Balibally

Romance: Neon Gods by Katee Robert 

Children's Chapter: Big Shot by Jeff Kinney

This Week's Review at Inklings

Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren

Can you imagine how different, interesting, and captivating it would be to meet your soulmate through genetics? No more online dating, bar hopping, and guessing. DNA based matchmaking could potentially change the whole dating scene. That is in inessence, the premise of The Soulmate Equation. Christina and Lauren did a great job at explaining, defining, and exploring that world.

Jess is a data and statistics analyst, she understands numbers. That being said, no amount of number crunching can convince her to get back into the dating world. Her and her daughter are just fine alone. Jess has been left behind too often to trust anyone again so easily.  She is smart, kind, and a fighter. It is not easy to make in this world as a single mum but she sure tries her best. Any mother will recognize her morning struggles with her kid. All that being said, it can be hard being alone and doing everything alone all the time. 

When Jess hears about GeneticAlly, this new company doing matchmaking using DNA analysis, she doesn't trust it, but, she does understand it at least. After all, if there is one thing Jess understands is numbers. Except in her case the numbers must be wrong. Her test results show an unheard-of 98% compatibility with one of the founders of GeneticAlly, Dr. River Pena.  River is cold, robotic, distant, rude... how on earth could he be that compatible with her?  

Although this is a ridiculous idea the compatibility score is uncaratelistically high and GeneticAlly has a proposition for Jess: Get to know River and we'll pay you. Jess, who is barely making ends meet, is in no position to turn this offer down. As Jess and River are dragged from one event to the next and get to know each other better, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the cold scientist than she first thought.

The concept was great, the initial hate to lovers interactions were interesting, and even the way they are almost forced to get to know each other was well written and kept you engaged. 

Have a fun read! 

 

And if you enjoyed this one here are some titles to read afterwards: The Honey-Don't List by Christina Lauren and Wait for It by Jenn Mckinlay

This Week's Review at Inklings

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land

Shame is a powerful silencer. It slowly creeps its way into our lives and chokes out our voice. When it comes to intimate partner abuse there is an overwhelming amount of confusion, fear, and the inability to trust your own judgement. The classic question, “why didn’t you just leave?”, forces everyone into the same box of assumptions. The answer to that question isn’t simple, and Stephanie’s memoir “Maid” gives us a raw, unfiltered dose of what it’s truly like to be in her shoes. I think it’s important to read stories like hers because it breaks the cycle of shame around this very real reality. The hard truth is that all of us either know someone or are in the very situation Stephanie was in. Our daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, mothers, and fathers need us to step up and stand tall in the face of injustice. 

Stephanie addresses the obstacles she faced and the wall of challenges in front of her that stood between her and freedom. One of them was her support system. In the book she talks about how she didn’t have anyone in her life that could help her. Her family was stuck in a cycle of toxic behaviors, she didn’t have friends to help her, or a mentor to guide her. Stephanie had to navigate all of these unknowns by herself. Leaving an abusive situation is extremely difficult to do when you are in isolation. 

Another obstacle she talks about is the challenges surrounding poverty. Once she left the abusive situation she didn’t have any money to start over. She couldn’t find shelter, food, or childcare without government assistance. The process to receive any help was exhausting and long. Even though she was working, it wasn’t enough to provide basic needs. Financial security can impact the decision to stay or leave. 

The other obstacle she talks about is navigating the trauma. There isn’t time to address the consequences of abuse because she must focus on survival. She doesn’t have the luxury to process years of trauma because she must focus on finding shelter, providing food for her daughter, and fighting legal action. 

There are many other issues she speaks on in her book, and it’s important that we listen to her story. This book will open your eyes to the struggles people face when it comes to abuse. It will challenge you to confront your own biases, areas where you can extend help and give empathy to others. I hope her story will open a conversation and help us all to find solutions in a dark area. I believe there is power in our stories, and Stephanie has something bold to say that all of us need to hear. Happy reading friends! 

Review by Krystal Griswold

This week's Review at Inklings

History comes vividly alive in Davis grad's 'The Verge'

Inklings guest reviewer this week is not an employee but a Friend of Inklings. Linda C. Brown taught at Davis High School for more than 33 years!

Old English teachers, like me, hope former students find their way, that the ragtag roots that students are given in high school miraculously become polished in college or by life. Clearly, Patrick Wyman, who graduated from A.C. Davis High School in 2003, meets that criteria and beyond. Wyman, having earned a doctorate from the University of Southern California, has developed and produced podcasts called “Tides of History” and “The Fall of Rome” that capture and shape hundreds of amazing adventures into history-rich stories from all over the world. I would have discovered this sooner had I been able to figure out how to download podcasts.

Wyman, son of Yakima’s Kathy O’Meara-Wyman and Tom Wyman, has now added a new achievement: his first book. “The Verge: Reformation, Renaissance, and Forty Years that Shook the World (1490-1530)” takes nine events in history and makes them come alive.

Admittedly, I am a recalcitrant reader of history because often it was presented to me as lists of names and dates that had to be committed to memory, and I couldn’t become immersed in the events because the stories conveyed a bunch of facts, but thank you, Dr. Wyman, for breathing life into what lies in the past and continues to influence the present.

The events covered aren’t surprises. They cover a 40-year segment of history that each of us has some knowledge of, like the explorations of Christopher Columbus, the arrival of Martin Luther and the printing press and the Ottoman Empire as well as Charles V. All of these will remind you of what you studied in high school and beyond; however, here they come alive through the details of daily life that we rarely were told.

Readers will notice immediately the rich sensory sounds, smells, sights, the sense of touch that make “The Verge” vivid and compelling. The stories are painted with incredible detail. In Rome, bells toll, “an incessant pealing” breaking “an otherwise still and silent dawn” with “carts rattling and scraping down the darkened streets”. Boots tramp, swords scrape against steel breastplates, leather scabbards slap, and all the men are “lean and dirty”. You, the reader are there! Thousands of Romans barely awake head to the walls. Martin Luther, who lusts after the rich holdings of the papacy, attacks. Germans, Spaniards, mercenaries raise their ladders against the walls and a battle to redistribute wealth ensues. The Duke of Bourbon (Charles V) wearing a “white coat” (what mother would let that happen?) is the first to scale the walls as the fog is rising from the Tiber. You can hear the sounds, smell the gunpowder exploding from the arquebuses and see the Duke raising his ladder. We feel the dampness from the fog and watch as “a violent shade of red” spreads across that white coat.

It is that real. I promise you that if you are a history lover, this book is definitely for you. But, if you are more like me, a resistant reader of history, it is even more compelling, because history no longer lies limply on the page.

A video produced by Powell’s Books in Portland introduces Wyman and a cohort, Mike Duncan, discussing “The Verge” as well as their shared interests in history. Duncan asks Wyman: Who are you writing for? And Wyman, without hesitation, answers, “I write for an audience of one: my dad, who is the most prolific reader of history I know. He wants history books that are not slow, not dry.” The elder Wyman prefers books that entertain, but the academics have to be there as well and there has to be a compelling story. That’s what “The Verge” brings to the reader.

In the interview, Duncan confesses that he loves the book, but had no interest in a character named Jakob Fugger (pronounced foog-uhr, although yes, for many years it was pronounced like a familiar curse word) until Duncan says that even he has been captured by Fugger’s story. That presents me with a challenge, and I must admit that Fugger has won my attention as well. It turns out that the Fuggers in the early 1500s were bankers and traded textiles with Italy; they were one of the wealthiest families in the world for over a century and their wealth and influence in the 16th century and beyond are astounding. According to Wikipedia, Fugger, in his day, accumulated $160 billion in wealth, which today, with an adjustment for inflation, would be valued at $400 billion. That grabs one’s attention, right?

Today, in Augsburg remain historical buildings from the 16th century like the Fuggerei built by Jakob Fugger the Younger, which had 52 houses at the time for poor, homeless Catholics. It continues today with each apartment having a direct link to the street, but the entire housing unit is apparently contained by a wall and the gate is locked at 10 o’clock each night. Since Fugger made much of his money from manufacturing linen and money lending, I wonder if the fear of being called a “usurer” inspired his generosity or rather his devotion to Catholicism. That’s another question for the next time I see Dr. Wyman.

I’ve more to read, but I promise you that all readers will embrace this book. It’s that good. Did I mention that I was one of his teachers?

Cozy Mysteries for Halloween!

Cozy Mysteries for Halloween by PNW Authors

One of my favorite things is getting to meet authors and finding out the inspiration behind their stories. And so, I am very excited to share that this Saturday, October 16th, 2-4pm, Inklings will have a meet and greet with PNW authors Emmeline Duncan and Alexis Morgan.

Emmeline Duncan is a mystery writer based out of Portland, Oregon. Her novels include the Ground Rules series, starting with 2021’s Fresh Brewed Murder, which will be title she will be signing for us this Saturday, and followed by 2022’s Double Shot DeathWhich ofcourse, you will have to pre-order after falling in love with Fresh Brewed Murder.

"I'm still waiting for the day when I magically turn into an adult" Fresh Brewed Murder by Emmeline Duncan - chaper 1

In this novel we get to know barista Sage Caplin. Sage has high hopes for her new coffee cart, Ground Rules, until she finds the body of one of her very first customers in front of her cart. There are plenty of suspects, from longtime vendors annoyed at Ground Rules taking a coveted spot in the food truck lot, to protesters demonstrating against a new high-rise. But who committed murder? To makes things worse, one of Sage's own box cutter is discovered as the murder weapon. 

Mystery lovers and coffee fanatics alike are bound to be enthralled with this story. 

Alexis Morgan is a USA Today Bestselling author with over 45 novels, novellas, and short stories that span a variety of genres. Her latest venture is the cozy mystery series The Abby McCree Mystery. There are four books out and we will have all four in store: Death by Committee, Death by Jack-O'-Lantern, Death by Auctionand Death by Intermission

Death by Committee is the story of Abby McCree. Abby suddenly inherits her favorite's relative property in the small town of Snowberry Creek, Washington, and soon realizes the inheritance comes with strings attached. The estate is in bad shape, there is a slobey mastiff impossible not to love, a tenant who growls more than the dog. But one could handle those things. It's what she finds in her aunt's backyard that makes things a little too complicated: Aunt Sybil's only known rival is buried in her backyard! But was her beloved Aunt really a murderer? or is the murderer on the loose? 

This one is for the lovers of Mystery and quilting. Abby gets involved with a tight quilting guild and her quirky quilting friends do jump in to help try to solve this mystery. 

Two other PNW Cozy Mystery authors could not join us this Saturday but have sent us some lovely signed bookplates. We will have available, on top of the two authors coming, A Christmas Carol Murder by Heather Redmond and The Witch Way Librarian series by Angela M. Sanders.

Have a Cozy Halloween! 

Children's Chapter for Halloween

 

Happy Halloween! I admit it. I am a horror/suspense/thriller novel junkie from way back. My love affair with the spine tingling genre began as a young reader and has never abated.  

Question: What’s as good as reading a good scary book?

Answer: Sharing a good scary book with  middle grades readers. As an elementary school teacher I was able to share my love of the genre with fifth graders. There’s something special about reading a scary story aloud, using different voices for different characters, and stopping at that cliff-hanger moment. It’s  rewarding to see them leaning forward to listen, bodies tense with suspense, and then see them relax with disappointment at the end of a session. What’s even better than that is when those readers go to the library and ask for other books by that author! 

Question: Are scary stories good for children?

Answer: I say yes.  Scary stories serve a purpose. Stories are a safe place to experience emotions. Children can feel emotions like fear and anxiety through a character’s actions and thoughts without being in actual physical danger. And we know that learning how to feel, express, and deal with emotions is an important part of childhood development. A little suspense and resolution in a safe situation is a release.

Question: How can I share scary stories with children?

Answer:  Of course, it’s important to know your audience. You don’t want to cause nightmares or trauma. After you have determined which book you would like to share there are many options. You can read aloud. Sitting next to someone you love while you share something suspenseful is reassuring and powerful. 

You can listen to an audiobook during car travels. I suggest trying Librofm as an audiobook option.

You can read the same book as your young reader. In this way you can talk about characters and motives and choices. It also validates the youngster as a reader. When a child knows that an adult is reading the same thing they are reading, it leaves the impression that the reading is valuable.

You can have a family book night. I know a family that has a weekly book night. Every Wednesday, for an hour after dinner, the entire family gathers in the family room and reads. They each read their own book, but it’s still a communal activity. I love that idea. If I still had children at home, I think I would adopt the practice.

Question: What scary books are out there for middle grades readers?

Answer: There are choices galore! But let’s talk about one special author. Mary Downing Hahn could be called the Stephen King of children’s literature. She published her first book in 1979 and is still contributing to the genre. Her novels are the standard to which all other children’s thrillers are compared. Here are some of my favorites:

The Thirteenth Cat  This is the latest of Hahn’s 41 published middle grades thrillers. It came out in September of this year. Zoey is spending the summer with her aunt and next to her house is a creepy, overgrown forest. There are feral cats in the forest and rumors of dark forces in the woods. Zoey is in danger as she tries to discover the secret of the cats and the old woman that lives in the woods.

Wait Till Helen Comes was probably the breakthrough novel for Hahn. First published in 1987 it still stands as  a quality ghost story. It’s about Heather, a lonely girl who finds a new friend: a ghost named Helen. And Helen wants to lure children into the pond--to drown! Will Heather’s new stepsister be able to save her? Spoiler: She does.

Took: A Ghost Story  Daniel and his family have moved from Connecticut to rural West Virginia. The kids at school tell him about the scary old auntie in the woods that steals children. They’re just messing with the new kid--right? Then Daniel’s 7 year old sister goes missing. Was she “took”? 

The Puppet’s Payback and Other Chilling Tales This would be a great choice for an introduction to the genre in general or Mary Downing Hahn in particular. The stories are short enough to each be read in one session. Although the plots are more predictable and the characters not as well developed as in her novels, the stories are still fun and a little bit scary.

October is a great time for some fun, scary stories.The air is crisp, it gets dark a little earlier each day, and, after all--Halloween is just around the corner!

 

Review by Luanne Clark

This Week's Review at Inklings

The City We Became by NK Jemisin 

Review by Tony Hoffart

The City We Became is a modern fantasy that pulls heavily from the mythos created by H.P. Lovecraft.  Credited with being the father of modern Horror, Lovecraft wrote a mythology in which there were many alien universes. Sometimes these other places bleed into ours and unspeakable horrors would spill forth to cause destruction and madness.  

Lovecraft was also an unabashed racist.  

Jemisin herself is a well-known civil rights advocate, so it would seem incongruous for her to write a serious work featuring the background created by a self-proclaimed racist.  How to acknowledge great art while denouncing the harmful beliefs of an artist is part of an ongoing discourse. This book shows that such a thing is possible.

The story is set in the modern world where cities, once “mature” enough, adopt a human avatar. The Avatar personifies the culture of their realm, is immortal and has magical powers.  “The City”, this time is New York’s Avatar in the process of being born. A hungry, beautiful, ethnically and racially ambiguous boy who is starting to experience the city speaking to him.  As he comes into his power, a Lovecraftian horror,  its trademarked alien and unknowable evil, attacks the city.  This manifests as a terrorist attack on the Williamsburg Bridge. The boy is a fast learner and manages to beat off the invader, but only barely.  Drained from the ordeal, the avatar of New York, falls into a coma.  This is the story’s introduction.

The main characters of the story are the Avatars of the five official boroughs.  Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklin, Queens, and Staten Island.  They awaken to their newfound powers and connection to the city while also being attacked by horrors as well. The alien creatures affect the real world in the form of racists, litigants and online trolls.  This is where the story really comes alive.  The hidden magical world premise is one that has been done before, but it’s a challenge to balance the wonder and danger alongside the mundane concerns of one’s “secret identity”.  In this story the monsters use the monstrous aspects of human nature to gain a foothold in the real world. And as appropriate for Lovecraftian horrors, in this book that’s racism. 

The overall plot is a simple one; bring everyone together to save the city.  That simplicity becomes daunting because each avatar is a strongly independent persona.  The boroughs of New York are known for intense rivalries.  These rivalries are exploited by the adversary to divide and undermine the boroughs in their attempts to form a united front.  The monsters use bland retail chains to buy out beloved institutions damaging  culture and morale of the city; alt right trolls to dox online personas  and chauvinist protests to jam up pivotal moments.  

It takes talent to make our familiar world into something fantastic and magical.  Jemesin has that talent. But writing a new world uses up a lot of plot bandwidth.  Even though substantial, there is obviously a lot still untold. Many of the other cities’ avatars were hinted at.  (Hong Kong and Sao Paulo feature in the story.)  New Orleans is mentioned as a casualty whose avatar was killed in their infancy which manifested in the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina. Two more books in this series are promised, and I’m excited to see what else this world has to offer.

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