Wildwood by Colin Meloy

Colin Meloy is a name you are probably not familiar with, but for any Decemberists fans out there, Meloy is the lead singer. I first hear of this book on the Design*Sponge blog, and decided it was a must have based on Grace’s brief review. I found it difficult to set down the book once I began reading and ended up reading it through the night on my birthday. It was a delight to be pulled in to such an interesting place and story with such ease; I curled up with a blanket and a cup of hot chocolate and began reading at 10:30 and looked up after a while only to find that my hot chocolate was cold and it was 3:00 in the morning. I had no idea that many hours had passed, but if the saying ‘time flies when you’re having fun,’ I was definitely having fun!

Wildwood is a coming of age story that reminded me of the best aspects of C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia series, Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, and Madeleine L’Engle’s the Wrinkle in Time quintet, and still manages to be a lovely and unique story. In addition to this fantastic combination of some of the books I remember most fondly from my childhood, Wildwood charmed me with the beautiful illustrations scattered on pages throughout the book. I don’t often seek out illustrated stories, but the craftsmanship that went in to these illustrations really impressed me from the beginning. The inside cover has a detailed map of the story’s world, but Meloy’s storytelling is good enough that it isn’t necessary to see the map to be familiar with the area. The style of the illustrations and map is demonstrated nicely on the sleeve of the book, but as interesting and nicely done as it is, I find the smaller illustrations embedded within the story much more appealing.

As for the story itself, the main character, Prue, must venture in to the Impassable Wilderness (aka the I.W.) in order to rescue her younger brother who has been abducted by birds. Similar to Narnia, the Impassable Wilderness is inhabited by speaking animals that have organized themselves in to governments/fractions, but there is conflict brewing and Prue finds herself in the middle of it. The Impassable Wilderness is a place that is enchanted in such a way that humans are not supposed to be able to wander in, but Prue’s journey teaches her about family, responsibility, and something new about herself along the way.

I think this novel is something than could be appreciated by young readers and adults alike, especially is you’re looking for an engaging, imaginative, and indisputably well-written story. For people interested in artistic illustrations and a flashback to the books of a bygone era, this is a book to add to the shelves. I have no doubt that this will be a book to share with friends and families for many years to come. I hope you enjoy it!

Lucky Peach

First and foremost, let me apologize for the long delay in new posts. Visiting family for Thanksgiving left me sniffling and feverish for about two solid weeks; when I finally recovered, I got so wrapped up in my long reading list that I am only now convincing myself to part from my books long enough to get back to writing.

That being said, I have been reading a lot of awesome books and quarterly magazines which means I will have many excellent recommendations in the very near future. First up on my list, is McSweeney’s newest publication, Lucky Peach. I happened across issue two in my local grocery store by pure chance, and am incredibly happy that I bought it based purely on the magazine’s subtitle: “A Quarterly Journal of Food and Writing.” I rushed home and barely finished putting the groceries away before sitting down and reading the magazine from cover to cover. However, I will say this: the cover of issue two was definitely a little discouraging, but not enough to deter me from buying the issue anyway.

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The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins

I rarely trust people who urge me to run out and by a whole series of books because I’ll not only be unable to put them down once I start reading, but I’ll be desperate to keep reading as soon as I finish these books. Today, however, I am going to be that person. Suzanne Collins has created one of the most engaging and though-provoking worlds that I have ever encountered. Add to this the incredibly interesting, somewhat unlikeable, and at times tragic characters that react so believably and yet often unexpectedly to the plot and the The Hunger Games series is among literary giants in the top tier of fiction that I have read.

Suzanne Collins has said repeatedly in interviews that the concept for these novels was born out of flipping channels between reality shows and news reports of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Add in a dash of mythology (Theseus) and viola, we have a spark that rekindled my ability to and love of getting completely absorbed in a series. I think the idea of merging and/or juxtaposing reality tv and war reports, two very socially complicated things, would create an interesting and challenging discussion in and of itself, but Collins takes it to a new level. She has created this dystopian future in which there are, essentially, twelve towns (districts) completely isolated from each other and one all-powerful capitol that create the country of Panem. Once a year, during the harvest festivals, the capitol unites the country by collecting two “tributes” from each town to compete in the Hunger Games which are televised and required viewing for every citizen. I will not explain the many questions that the above sentence probably raises, because to say more is to detract from the phenomenal, moving experience of reading the novels.

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