• Blog Launch

    July 11, 2019 by

    Hello! My name is Joe Kessler, and I’ve been blogging in one form or another since 2004. This is the launch of my new home for that, where I’ll be posting book reviews and other short pieces of writing. I’m also debuting a Patreon site for anyone who would like to support my efforts through… Read more

  • Book Review: Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff

    January 23, 2021 by

    Book #22 of 2021: Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff (The Red Abbey Chronicles #1) Interesting fantasy worldbuilding, but the characters can seem a bit simplistic at times and the plot doesn’t really kick in until midway through, when a raiding ship attacks the island refuge where the heroine lives as an abbey novice. It gets pretty… Read more

  • Book Review: The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis

    January 22, 2021 by

    Book #21 of 2021: The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia #1) I always think that I like this prequel more than I actually do, because in my memory, only the strong parts stand out. The devious uncle, the rings that take you to the Wood Between the Worlds from which… Read more

  • Book Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

    January 21, 2021 by

    Book #20 of 2021: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman This tale of a lonely old man in author Fredrik Backman’s native Sweden is first heartbreaking and then heartwarming, as he slowly begins to form unwanted connections with the neighborhood community around him. It’s a novel that dares us to love Ove despite all… Read more

  • Book Review: A Promised Land by Barack Obama

    January 20, 2021 by

    Book #19 of 2021: A Promised Land by Barack Obama This memoir is a solid but not spectacular inside look at Barack Obama’s political career, from his earliest run for Illinois State Senate through his ordering of the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound midway into his first presidential term. (That’s a fairly arbitrary cutoff… Read more

  • TV Review: Killing Eve, season 1

    January 20, 2021 by

    TV #6 of 2021: Killing Eve, season 1 I have a lot of open questions about this show, some of which might fall under the category of plot holes, but are perhaps more charitably labeled as simply ‘details the writers aren’t interested in.’ At a minimum, this first season seems to revel in ambiguity, throwing… Read more

  • Book Review: Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire

    January 19, 2021 by

    Book #18 of 2021: Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children #6) I still like this series of novellas about children who temporarily stumble into various fantasy worlds and later yearn to return there, but the past few volumes have been a little underwhelming. I think the format tends to work best… Read more

  • Book Review: The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo

    January 18, 2021 by

    Book #17 of 2021: The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo (The Singing Hills Cycle #1) A quiet but captivating #ownvoices fantasy novella, rich in feminist character work and immersive East Asian-inspired worldbuilding. I’m always so interested in stories like this that can compel the reader’s attention despite a complete lack of traditional… Read more

  • TV Review: Kim’s Convenience, season 3

    January 18, 2021 by

    TV #5 of 2021: Kim’s Convenience, season 3 This sitcom has always had a fairly stable status quo, so I was excited by the genuine potential for change in last season’s finale, when Jung quits his job and finally kisses his long-term love interest, who at first reciprocates but then pulls away when she remembers… Read more

  • Book Review: The Lives of Saints by Leigh Bardugo

    January 17, 2021 by

    Book #16 of 2021: The Lives of Saints by Leigh Bardugo A short collection of dark fables from author Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse, some of which have been referenced before in the main novels and others that merely add further texture to the local cultures of the setting. It’s an interesting addition to series canon, especially… Read more

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