If a boxed set of Harry Potter were to fall through the looking-glass, what came out the other side might be a lot like the “Bartimaeus Trilogy,” of which this is Book 2. The fantasy world in this series is somewhat of a bizarro, backward-land version of Harry’s wizarding world, which forms a secret enclave within the present-day world of us ordinary muggles. In Bartimaeus’ world, the British empire is openly run by magicians, while the majority of the population—dismissively called “commoners”—toils in a condition not far above slavery. The press and the schools feed them a steady diet of pro-magician propaganda. The scales of justice are rigged in favor of the magicians. The security and police forces keep the people too frightened to rise up, including an elite squad of werewolves known as the Night Police—without even the ironic touch of a silent K...Read More
5 lightning bolts tagged posts
It’s the fifth and final “Fablehaven” adventure, and the world is coming to an end. More of the world’s magical game preserves are falling to the Society of the Evening Star, which is collecting the five hidden talismans needed to open the demon prison of Zzyzx. Young Kendra and Seth Sorenson, along with their family and friends, are charged with protecting these powerful objects, and the five “Eternals” who must die before the bad guys can turn the key in the lock. But after a death-defying visit to the Australian preserve where the last artifact is housed, Seth is taken prisoner by the so-called Sphinx—actually a centuries-old Ethiopian slave who rebelled against his masters and now holds most of the keys to Zzyzx...Read More
As most loiterers in library or bookstore children’s and young adult fantasy sections are aware, there’s a whole series of sequels to Peter Pan authored by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson—a series backed by Disney. What fewer readers know is that the owners of J. M. Barrie‘s original book and play commissioned only one sequel to Peter Pan: Geraldine McCaughrean‘s Peter Pan in Scarlet. In a similar way, Laurie R. King‘s “Mary Russell” mysteries and Carole Nelson Douglas‘ “Irene Adler” mysteries are successors to the Sherlock Holmes canon created by Arthur Conan Doyle. But no official Holmes sequel was ever sanctioned by the estate of Conan Doyle—until this 2011 book by the author of the “Alex Rider” adventures and the creator of the BBC detective series Foyle’s War...Read More
Book 13 of (so far) 14 in “The Dresden Files” finds Harry Dresden—detective, wizard, guardian of all things Chicago—tasked with solving his own murder. It’s not easy, being dead. When you’re only a shade of your former self—an intangible, invisible, inaudible presence made up of memories, thoughts, and a pinch of will—there isn’t much you can do. Even with loads of raw magical power, you’re limited to spells that affect denizens of the spiritual world. Unless… well, there are a couple of exceptions. Having friends who can see (or at least hear) dead people, for example. Friends like “ectomancer” Mortimer Lundquist, who doesn’t even need a magically doctored walkie-talkie to converse with ghosts, and who is the first person who seems even remotely capable of helping Harry...Read More
In the imaginary village of Hayslope, on the frontier between the nonexistent English counties of Loamshire and Stonyshire, round about the year 1799, a strong, manly carpenter named Adam Bede lives with his doting mother (who becomes a widow in an early chapter) and his gentle, sensitive brother Seth. The brothers love the two pretty nieces of a prosperous farmer and his wife who live nearby. Adam’s intended is a vain, saucy, but irresistibly pretty little thing named Hetty Sorrel; the girl Seth wants to marry is a tender, modestly beautiful Methodist lay preacher named Dinah Morris. But (SPOILER ALERT!) Dinah would rather have Adam than Seth; and as for Hetty, she fancies the young heir of the local squire, Arthur Donnithorne by name, and he fancies her too—though the wide difference between their stations in life mean that he can never do the honorable thing by her.
And so the stage is set for a novel that mixes u...Read More
Standish Treadwill sees the world differently, through his one blue eye and one brown, the letters dancing around in a dyslexic swirl. Yet it is his steadfast Gramps and his wonderful friend Hector who encourage him to continue fighting for all that makes him different. Against the backdrop of the harsh regime of the Motherland, with the help of a small band of rebels, Standish observes and questions and refuses to let the Greenflies stop him. And what exactly is going on with that moon landing propaganda?
In this unique Dystopian vision that doesn’t pull it’s punches, Sally Gardner has given voice to a wonderful protagonist. Standish is a visionary; the way life works through his eyes spots the sparks of hope in a hopeless world. When everything is literally rotting and festering around him, he nurtures love, family and a strong sense of self...Read More
When you’re following as many series of books as I am (which is currently a three-digit number), you’re bound to get a little behind on some of them—especially when their author is as prolific as Terry Pratchett. This book, for example, is the 37th novel of Discworld out of (at this writing) a total of 39. That’s not too bad. I’ll probably get caught up soon… just in time for another book to come out! If I were thinking about just starting to read this series (say, with The Colour of Magic), I might be a bit intimidated. But reading the next new Discworld book will always be a high priority for anyone who has ever read one, or 10, or 36 of them. Once you get started, you won’t feel so much intimidated as thrilled to anticipate so many weird, funny, and exciting books. Their entertainment value is hard to beat, especially if you’re reasonably bright reader with an off-center sense of humor...Read More
According to Fantastic Fiction, this is the 39th novel of Discworld—taking all the novels featuring Tiffany Aching, Granny Weatherwax, Rincewind, Death, the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, and whatnot in one heap. It’s an amazing achievement, especially given that I was hoaxed into believing that Terry Pratchett was done writing them half a dozen books back. After all these books about a flat world balanced on the backs of four huge elephants perched, in their turn, atop a giant tortoise, Pratchett continues to break open new territory, find new depths, and conjure a unique blend of thrills, laughs, fantasy-world-magic, and real-world social commentary out of them.
Samuel Vimes is many things: husband, father, Captain of the City Watch, Duke of Ankh, and blackboard monitor (don’t ask). Until now, country gentleman hasn’t been one of them...Read More
This book by the author of The Firework-Maker’s Daughter and The Ruby in the Smoke combines a fairy-tale concept with elements of the picaresque novel. That is to say, it presents a hero from humble origins, making his way through a corrupt world in a series of funny, ironic adventures. Seemingly set in Italy around the time of the Napoleonic wars, this story pokes fun at the foibles of people in an age quite different from our own – but not so different that we don’t feel the satire poking at us!
The Scarecrow of the title – Lord Scarecrow to you – comes to life one stormy night, and immediately sets out to make his fortune. From the first step of his journey, he is followed by a loyal and honest boy named Jack, whose wits are often the only thing between Lord Scarecrow and disaster...Read More
This is a delightful tale, full of charm and laugh-out-loud humor. Plus, the theme of a “blended family” resonates with the personal experience of many of us.
The Brants and the McIntyres are living under one very British roof, since Mrs. Brant (a widow) married Mr. McIntyre (a divorced, single Dad). But after only a couple months, things aren’t going too smoothly. Sally, the mother of Caspar, Johnny, and Gwinny, was swept off her feet by Jack, father of Douglas and Malcolm. Only the kids weren’t swept off their feet, either by their new stepparents or by their new stepsiblings.
Forced to share a crowded house with surly older brother Douglas and sneering twerp Malcolm, the Brant kids start calling their stepfather “the Ogre” because he is apallingly sensitive to noise, messes, and other things that happen when kids are around...Read More