Against the Tide of Years: Less fun than the first book

Against the Tide of Years by S.M. Stirling

It’s been several years since “the event” which pulled the island of Nantucket back in time to 1300 B.C. (We read all about this in Island in the Sea of Time, the first book in S.M. Stirling’s NANTUCKET trilogy.) The islanders have been busy learning how to live without all the modern conveniences of the 20th century. They are successfully learning how to farm and fish, breed animals, acquire fuels, build ships and dirigibles, harvest morphine from poppies, make textiles, and develop vaccines and other medical techniques. They’ve instituted a republican form of government and have begun minting coins and regulating industries such as forestry.

The islanders are spreading t... Read More

Memoranda: Original and thought-provoking

Memoranda by Jeffrey Ford

In waking from a dream, we obliterate worlds, and in calling up a memory, we return the dead to life again and again only to bring them face to face with annihilation as our attention shifts to something else.

After the destruction of the Well-Built City (detailed in The Physiognomy), Physiognomist Cley has been living in a village in the wilderness, acting as herbalist and midwife. One day a mechanical bird, obviously built by evil Master Drachton Below, arrives in the village, explodes, and releases a gas that puts many of the villagers to sleep. Cley is the only person who’s equipped to find the antidote, so the villagers supply him with an old dog and an older horse and off he goes (looking a bit like Don Quixote) to the ruins of the Well-Built City.

The City is a real-life construction of Drachton Below’s Memory Palace, which is based on the mnemo... Read More

A Knight of the Word: Give your book money to the poor

A Knight of the Word by Terry Brooks

Even though two stars may seem like a bad rating, keep in mind that it technically means "fair." If stars were a grade in an essay, it would be C+ — a pass, but not a particularly brilliant one. Such is the case of A Knight of the Word, the sequel to Terry Brooks's Running with the Demon, a much more rewarding book.

The basic premise is a good against evil plot, embodied in the forces known as the Word and the Void. Both sides have creatures loyal to them, namely demons on behalf of the Void, and Knights for the Word. The present Knight of the Word is a man named John Ross, who lives a lonely existence; wandering an post-apocalyptic future in his dreams in order to find clues and answers to what transpired to prevent it from happening in the present (kinda like "Early Edition" and "Tru Calling" — remember those shows?) Read More

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: Great read

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

Harry has had a miserable summer. None of his friends have written to him and he wonders whether Hogwarts and the world of wizardry that he discovered the year before is just a dream. Four weeks before he is due to return to school he has a visit from Dobby the House Elf who warns him not to return to Hogwarts. And so we embark on another year at Hogwarts and another mystery — this time involving the Chamber of Secrets.

I enjoyed Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, but not quite as much as I enjoyed the first book, mostly because of the clumsy recapping. The worst instance was when Colin and Harry are walking to the Quidditch pitch and Harry has to explain how it all works — it isn't completely unforgiveable since Colin has only just started at Hogwarts, but I felt it was superfluous nonetheless, and this was not the only instance.
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Tris’s Book: A wonderful character

Tris's Book by Tamora Pierce

This volume is the second in a four-part series called Circle of Magic and is also titled The Power in the Storm. Set in a fantasy realm over a one-year period, Tamora Pierce tells the story of four young mages who are brought together to live at the temple community of Winding Circle, to control and properly use their various powers.

The children couldn't be more different, but their studies bring them closer together till they are bonded magically (unbeknown to their four mentors), each sharing in the other's unique magic. Pierce claims that her inspiration comes from the olde-world handicrafts that are dying from our own world, such as weaving and metalcraft. Such things are channeled through into the mage's powers, with the exception of Tris who is a 'weather witch' and can hear voices on the wind.
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Midnight’s Choice: Good followup

Midnight's Choice by Kate Thompson

Midnight's Choice is the second book in Kate Thompson's Switchers trilogy, concerning fourteen-year-old Tess who has the ability to change into any animal at will. It begins right where the last book ended, several months after Tess and her Switcher-friend Kevin have destroyed the terrible krools, with Kevin alighting at her bedroom window in his last (and now permanent) form: a glorious phoenix. It may be necessary to have read Switchers beforehand, just to sort out the characters, the background history and the abilities of Switching, as it is an important point to know that at the age of fifteen, a Switcher's powers disappear, and whatever form — human or animal — that they choose is theirs for the rest of their life.

But Tess's fifteenth birthday is not for... Read More