The Aeronaut’s Windlass (The Cinder Spires, #1) by Jim Butcher

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The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher is a Steampunk novel that, for the most part, takes place on somewhat retro-futuristic airships powered by crystals and the Spires where the people of this time are living in, away from the dangers of the ground. A war is brewing between Spire Albion and Spire Aurora, and the kaleidoscope of the main characters are set to fight to protect their home Spire.

Rating: 4/5

I must say that this is the most inventive science fiction/fantasy novel I have ever read, and though you still get glimpses of Jim Butcher’s distinctive signature writing style, this book could not be more different from his other works. I cannot put into words how beautiful and humorous and hilariously polite the writing is. Sometimes I would reread a sentence or a paragraph 17 times, because the beautifulness of it would leave me utterly mesmerized.

“Oh,” Folly said, surprised. “I thought Bridget and I were returning to the master in the inn. But now we’re hiding in a dark alley instead. I wonder why we’re doing that?”

“If you go exploring, you might find something that could hurt you.” “If one doesn’t, one is not truly exploring.”

And can I just say that I respect Jim Butcher for portraying women as tough, smart, observant, curious, intriguing, provocative, courageous, and multidimensional? His female personages are incredibly interesting, each with their own personality and beliefs, and even the pure evil ones are very fascinating to read about!

I think she rather enjoys letting everyone believe she’s too self-absorbed to notice anything that’s happening around her.

A still-life image of her was something of an oxymoron. Calliope was never still. Even when she was seemingly motionless, he could see her mind at work, sorting ideas, seeking solutions, cataloging the space around her.

“HOW CAN YOU KNOW THIS?” the Voice demanded. “I look at things and think about them,” Folly replied.

The Aeronaut’s Windlass is told from multiple points of view, which is also refreshing after The Dresden Files. We have several main characters’ points of view, and then there are also some others thrown in at some points. And reading from the point of view of a cat (!) is a surprisingly refreshing experience.

I feel like The Aeronaut’s Windlass is a very strong beginning of exceptionally epic series. I loved it so much that a lot of times I giddily jumped up and down not being able to contain my emotions towards the awesomeness that this story is. That being said, I really wanted to give it 5 stars, but it did not really reach that point for me. This book has a remarkably strong beginning and unusually and surprisingly thorough world building that could not help but pull me in, but at some point I started to feel less invested in the story. And then something very awesome would happen and I would get pulled right back in and enjoy it once again. Thus, I constantly went back and forth – at points really loving it, and at points being kind of bored.

All in all, I enjoyed The Aeronaut’s Windlass and cannot wait to see where the story takes our main characters.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

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Station Eleven tells a story about the first steps of the human kind after the world they knew and were sure of was suddenly taken from under their feet.   

Rating: 5/5

The atmosphere of this story is enchanting and otherworldly (just look at that cover!). Where do you find solace when the world you thought you knew becomes a wasteland? When you have nowhere to go, nowhere to live, nothing to do, and the people you love are not around any more? Station Eleven is terrifying in the sense that it seems absolutely possible. There is no zombie apocalypse, no alien invasion, no horsemen of the apocalypse. And the world still ends. Electricity ends. Technology ends. And people go back to their roots, trying simply to survive at first, and then realizing that survival is insufficient.

Station Eleven is a beautifully written, quiet and enigmatic story that portrays resilience of people. It is not action-packed, rather very slow and unhurried, and wonderfully descriptive. I don’t feel it is possible to describe it in a way that does it justice; it is positively unputdownable. Reading about this clean slate of a brave new, ancient, tough, lonely, empty and dark world makes you feel like right now there is just too much world, too much noise, too much stress. It screams “Pay attention!” to what is truly important, because it is not going to be around forever; “Be present!” and don’t hide behind screens and walls and fears. See, touch, taste, feel, live!

Hell is the absence of the people you long for.

I’m sorry, I’ve just realized that I’m as minimally present in this world as you are, I had no right to judge.

No more Internet. No more social media, no more scrolling through litanies of dreams and nervous hopes and photographs of lunches, cries for help and expressions of contentment and relationship-status updates with heart icons whole or broken, plans to meet up later, pleas, complaints, desires, pictures of babies dressed as bears or peppers for Halloween. No more reading and commenting on the lives of others, and in so doing, feeling slightly less alone in the room. No more avatars.

This book is like a breath of fresh air, and I recommend it to everyone!