Tag Archives: 5 lightning bolts

Review: Railsea by China Miéville

Railsea

Railsea by China Miéville Recommended Ages: 12+ I’m just going to come out and say this. It’s Moby-Dick, only without the boring bits. Well, no. What I just described would be an 80-page novelette. This is a full-size book, filled wall-to-wall with thrilling action, squirm-worthy tension, weird discoveries, and warm, appealing characters. Also, instead of water, the ocean in this version of Moby-Dick is a seemingly endless landmass filled with merging, splitting, tangling, and criss-crossing ... Read More »

Book Review: The Idiot by Dostoevsky

Idiot

The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky Recommended Ages: 14+ Published in a series of magazine issues in 1868-69, this is one of the masterpieces by the author of Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov. It made me laugh a great deal, but it is not a comedy. Its climax is mysterious and chilling, but it is not a thriller. Dickensian in its large cast of vividly colorful characters and in its satire on the society ... Read More »

Book Review: The Sign of (the) Four by Arthur Conan Doyle

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The Sign of the Four by Arthur Conan Doyle Recommended Ages: 12+ The second book of the Sherlock Holmes canon was first published in 1890 under the five-word title The Sign of the Four. Since then, it has often been republished under the four-word title The Sign of Four. The confusion actually originates in the book itself, in which both phrases are used interchangeably. Although Holmes did not really become a hit until Conan Doyle ... Read More »

Book Review: The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan

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The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan Recommended Ages: 12+ In Book 2 of the “Kane Chronicles,” the Texas-based author of the “Tres Navarre” mysteries cleverly uses hilarious, romantic, magical, and thrill-packed entertainment to educate young adults about ancient Egyptian mythology. He’s very sneaky that way. But we’re not surprised, since he did the same thing with Greek mythology in the “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series. Ditto Roman mythology in the “Heroes of Olympus” ... Read More »

Book Review: The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo

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The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo Recommended Ages: 13+ Published in 1831 in French, under the title Notre-Dame de Paris, this book has been made into an opera, a ballet, several stage plays, two musicals, and at least fifteen films, including TV and animated versions. One conclusion I could draw from this is that it’s a very popular tale, and so there is a good chance that you already have some idea of ... Read More »

Book Review: Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

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Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy Recommended Ages: 14+ If I had read Anna Karenina after this book, it would have cheered me up. Hardy’s last novel, written in 1895, stirred up such harsh criticism that its author never wrote another novel, although he lived until 1928. In me, listening to the audio-book while driving a sales circuit of convenience stores in rural Illinois, it stirred up feelings of failure and disappointment in life. The ... Read More »

Book Review: The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

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The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens Recommended Ages: 12+ Kate P barely remembers her parents. Heck, she doesn’t even remember her last name; only the letter P. Mostly she remembers the night her parents disappeared, when her mother gave her a cherished locket, told her to take care of her younger brother and sister, and promised to return someday. Since then, Kate, Michael, and Emma have spent ten years moving from one orphanage to another, ... Read More »

Book Review: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

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Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy Recommended Ages: 14+ Over the past few years, I have frequently experienced the advantages of having audiobooks in my car while commuting or traveling. In that way I have found time, at last, to take in many great works of literature that I might otherwise have skipped because they were too long, too serious, to difficult to focus my mind on during the sleepy time of day when I do ... Read More »

Book Review: The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

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The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde Recommended Ages: 12+ In a twisted alternate world, the Dragonlands are situated between the Kingdom of Hereford and the Duchy of Brecon, in the west of a balnkanized version of England and Wales known as the Ununited Kingdoms. It’s a world where magic is slowly dying out, its practitioners reduced to delivering pizzas on flying carpets and rewiring houses by spell. A world where knights in shining armor are ... Read More »

Book Review: Pegasus by Robin McKinley

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Pegasus by Robin McKinley Recommended Ages: 12+ She has won the Newbery Medal (for The Hero and the Crown). She has won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award (for Sunshine). She has entertained us with tales of vampires, fairies, dragons, and Robin Hood, as well as folk tales spruced up as novels. As the wife of Peter Dickinson, she dwells in a reactor-core of magic and beautiful storytelling that could reach critical mass at any time. All ... Read More »