Fantasy, Non Fiction

The Folklore of Discworld by Terry Pratchett and Jacqueline Simpson

In this book, Terry Pratchett and his friend Jacqueline Simpson (who happens to be an experience folklorist,) get together and talk about the folklore that went into Discworld. They talk about how Sir Terry changed it, and what it is like in our world. There are chapters on each of the major races up until about Thud. For example the trolls. In that chapter they talk about how a lot of our world’s folklore has trolls turning to stone in the daylight and how on the discworld heat slows them down and makes their brains function less well. And also the differences, like how in our folklore trolls are close to human and often attracted to humans but on the discworld they are literally made of rock and interspecies romance is just not a thing.
Good for a non-fiction book, even though it wasn’t telling stories it was still talking about the shapes of stories. So that helped.

~Naomi

Literary Fiction, Mystery

The Chief of Rally Tree by Jennifer Boyden

This story follows Roal, a college professor, whose wife recently left him. Roal’s wife, Dina, left him to go into the forest to “embrace the consciousness of trees”. There is an element of danger and mystery as Dina left to go help a man who spent significant time living with wolves and is thought by some to be a bit crazy, perhaps dangerous. Roal is concerned about Dina’s safety and goes in search of her, at turns quite adventurous. Along the way, Roal uncovers and learns about his true self, coming to terms with his life and gaining a sense of focus even amidst his loss. I loved the eco-conscious topics throughout, especially with the main focus on trees. Thought provoking for sure. An enjoyable read by a local SJI author.

~Lisa

Historical, Non Fiction

Europe’s Inner Demons: The Demonization of Christians in Medieval Christendom by Norman Cohn

I usually don’t include books I have to read for work in the Reading Revels category. As it turned out, however, this book was not useful for work but was totally fascinating so I read it anyway. In a nutshell, Norman Cohn (more famous for “The Pursuit of the Millennium”) explains why the persecution of witches/women arose in the 15th and 16th centuries. He traces the history of popular beliefs in people/ women, practicing “maleficium”—that is, evil deeds—on their neighbors; and contrasts it with the beliefs of the intelligentsia that women were making pacts with the devil. It was these latter beliefs—confirmed by people/women under torture—that killed the most innocent victims. I really liked the way Cohn demolished other historians by demonstrating how dishonest they were in their use of ellipses (. . .), leaving out what disproved their arguments entirely. Dense but really interesting (to me).

~Rebecca

Historical

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

Told from the perspective of Joey, a horse, this story is set during World War 1. Due to hard times, Joey is sold to the army and is forced into battle on the Western Front. Joey witnesses the horrors of the war, along with forming strong friendships both human and fellow horse. The friendships and bonds that can be formed between human and animal made this an emotionally charged story. I loved the unique perspective as told by Joey the horse. I listened to this on an audio book and highly recommend the audio version.

~Lisa

Short Stories

The Balcony by Jane Delury

This novel really comprises a series of short stories with overlapping characters. The pivot point is an old manor house in the country and the various people who inhabit it off and on for more than a century. So, for example, the child Alexis in one story reappears as the young man Alexis in another. And then Alexis’ children appear in yet another chapter. The book really should be titled “Le Balcon,” since it’s very French, and here and there French phrases are used (though always understandable in the context). I’m not sure quite why, but I rather liked this book. I’m grateful the Reading Revels program has reintroduced me to the short story format, which makes a reader really have to think about “what just happened.”

 

~Rebecca

Non Fiction

The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down by Haemin Sunim

A delightful book broken into 8 chapters, each with a specific theme. I took my time reading through this book and am glad that I purchased a copy so that I can read it again and again. I think it has found a semi-permanent home on my kitchen table. I found myself reading it each morning and am about to start reading it through now a second time. Simple, yet meaningful messages throughout make this book a gem.
~Lisa

Fantasy

Scourged by Kevin Hearne

The last of The Iron Druid Chronicles. I have been waiting to read this book for a long time! I thought it did really well as a conclusion to the series, it didn’t try to draw out individual fight scenes so it managed to show the whole War without either dragging on or abbreviating it too much. The title character, Atticus, deals with the fallout for his actions and calls in old favors, debts, and obligations. Granuaile learns from The Monkey King while helping to defend Taiwan. And Owen bounces across the world helping where he’s needed and makes friends with the sweetest of sloths. I know there won’t be any more books in this series, but if there are any more in this universe I will gladly read them.

~Naomi