Category Archives: In Library

Neuromancer by William Gibson

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Sprawl Trilogy

Book Review: 3 Treasure Boxes
Publisher: Ace Trade (July 1, 2000), Paperback: 288 pages, ISBN-10: 0441007465, ISBN-13: 978-0441007462
First book in the Sprawl Trilogy

Case, a computer hacker, has been permanently cut off from the Matrix. He misses the excitement and thrill of plugging into cyberspace and instead combs the underbelly of Chiba City, looking for drugs and continually flirting with death. Case is  given the opportunity to get his life back, to work once again jacking into the Matrix as a hacker, but there is a cost. The job is elusive but potentially deadly.  This new job requires an unusual crew, including a sociopath able to create holographic illusions, a professional mercenary who is partially fused and augmented with machinery and an insane commander.

Neuromancer, a science fiction, cyberpunk novel, was released in 1984, it won numerous awards and it was William Gibson’s debut novel.  Subsequently he wrote many more novels, some of them critically acclaimed, in a number of different genres including science fiction, steampunk and alternate history. Neuromancer takes place in the future on a dystopian form of earth in Chiba City, Japan. It is told in a third person narrative primarily from the point of view of Case, (Henry Dorsett), a 24 year old man who has fallen from the top all the way to rock bottom.

The story jumps right in without very much exposition. I found it took me a long time to really come to understand the world in which it takes place. The opening sentence immediately captured my interest with its co-mingling of electronic and organic imagery.  This sets the stage for the novel which continues to combine these elements throughout.  I was intrigued with Mr. Gibson’s notions of the matrix, cyberspace and computers, especially considering he wrote this in 1984. Molly is a fascinating character and I really enjoyed reading her back story. All the characters were interesting, complex and unique, each with their own special abilities and corresponding history.

This is a standalone novel which builds up to an exciting, satisfying and thoughtful ending. Once I was able to comprehend the world that the story takes place in, I was hooked and became engaged with the characters, anxious to see where it all would end. I recommend this book as a very good read for anyone who enjoys reading cyberpunk.

Interesting Quotes;

Opening sentence:

“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”

A description of Molly:

“He realized that the glasses were surgically inset, sealing her sockets. The silver lenses seemed to grow from smooth pale skin above her cheekbones, framed by dark hair cut in a rough shag.”

 Question to ponder: Jack Womack has suggested that Mr. Gibson’s creation of “Neuromancer” influenced and helped to create the internet as we know it today.  What are your thoughts on this, do you think this novel helped to bring it about? 

TJo Purchase: “Neuromancer” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

Dreams Underfoot by Charles de Lint

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Newford Series

Book Review: 2 Treasure Boxes
Third Book in The Newford Series
A Newford Collection
Publisher: Orb Books (August 1, 2003), Paperback: 416 pages, ISBN-10: 0765306794, ISBN-13: 978-0765306791

Magic, gemmins, mermaids and ghosts are just a few of the characters we are introduced to in Dreams Underfoot. Each story revolves around a unique and special entity from Mr. de Lint’s imagination and each story is entertaining and well told. This is a universe filled with creatures of urban fantasy.

The Newford series has a different twist on contemporary fantasy. There are no vampires, werewolves, etc, but there is magic which is a melding of Native American spiritual beliefs and urban faerie. This is a collection of short stories in the Newford universe which includes many of the usual characters plus a few new ones. Charles de Lint is a prolific writer and has written 24 books in the Newford series alone, he has also written many other novels, novelettes, short stories and collections.

The last half of the book was much better than the first half, perhaps because these stories focused more on people like Jilly, Jordy, Christy and Wendy. My favourite story in this book is “The Moon is Drowning While I Sleep” and it is Sophie’s story.  She is telling Jilly about a dream. But in this dream she has to make a choice. She can save the moon in the water, which is really the drowned lady, or she can have her heart’s desire.  The outcome of these stories depend upon the choices made by the participants, each is given the opportunity to decide how they will respond to the situations they face.

Each story is standalone and separate from each other, but all the stories are within the universe that Mr. de Lint created. I recommend this book as an introduction to this universe and the people and concepts within. If you enjoy reading contemporary fantasy or are a fan of Mr. de Lint, then you should add Dreams Underfoot onto your list of books to read.

 Favorite quote:

“Small deaths…They’re those pivotal moments in a person’s life that change it forever: a love affair gone wrong, not getting into the right post-graduate program, stealing a car on a dare and getting caught, that kind of thing. They’re the moments that some people brood on forever; right now they could have the most successful marriage or career, but they can’t stop thinking about the past, about what might have happened if things had gone differently.”

To Purchase: “Dreams Underfoot” from Amazon, click here or on picture above.



Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman

Book Review: 2 Treasure Boxes
Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business
Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics); Revised edition (December 27, 2005), Paperback: 208 pages, ISBN-10: 014303653X, ISBN-13: 978-0143036531

What impact does entertainment have on our society?   In Amusing Ourselves to Death, Postman draws parallels between society’s obsession with entertainment and Huxley’s Brave New World where people escape reality in numerous ways.  Postman believed that television was creating a Huxleyan world view where citizens would stop thinking and instead, come under common hypnosis within a “world of technological narcotics”. Postman also felt that watching television was not the problem and “the solution must be found in how we watch”.

Neil Postman (1931–2003) was chairman of the Department of Communication Arts at New York University and founder of its Media Ecology program. He wrote more than twenty books. Amusing Ourselves to Death was first released in 1985 and in 2005 it was reissued, including an introduction by Andrew Postman.

The book is well written and examines the numerous ways that television watching has changed society. He provides an interesting history of media starting in Plato’s time and moving forward.  His chapter on “Typographic America” was insightful. He brings us forward to 1985, the Age of Entertainment, where information is released in 90 second time frames. Programmers want to do whatever is necessary to hold the interest of the audience. Postman felt that “the problem is not that television presents us with entertaining subject manner but that all subject is presented as entertaining.”

This is a good, thought provoking read and I recommend it. In manner ways the concerns that Postman had about television can also be applied to the internet.

To Purchase: “Amusing Ourselves to Death” from Amazon, click here or on picture above.

The Power of Intention by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

Book Review: 1 Treasure Box
Publisher: Hay House; 1 edition (December 15, 2005), Paperback: 272 pages, ISBN-10: 1401902162, ISBN-13: 978-1401902162

This book keeps the reader focused on their thoughts. It is a reminder that the thoughts you think influence how the world around you reacts to you.

The name of the book is a bit misleading. At first glance you think that if you have an intention it can create a power in your life to bring it into manifestation. However, Dr. Dyer changes the meaning of intention to become another phrase for God “In a universe peopled by a creative, divine, organizing intelligence, which I’m calling the power of intention…” “Since intention is being presented in this book as an invisible energy field that is inherent in all physical form, intention, then, is a part of the inexplicable, nonmaterial world of spirit.”

Dr. Wayne Dyer has written numerous books in the new thought or new age genre of self help. He is a teacher, author and speaker.

I really like how he summarizes each chapter and gives practical steps to help implement the information in the chapter. At times I felt that the information he was supplying was just guess work on Dr. Dyer’s part. “I’ll give you my concept of what I refer to as the seven faces of intention. These points represent my imagined picture of what the power of intention looks like” and “again, I’m deducing this from the opposite”.

I found the last chapter to be disappointing and full of platitudes. To summarize how the power of intention can improve your life, Dr. Dyer was using as an example a perfect person. Someone who does not exist and as such this example becomes meaningless as a method to provide help to the rest of us who are struggling through life as best we can.

To purchase: “The Power of Intention” from Amazon, click here or on picture above


The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Book Review: 3 Treasure Boxes
Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics; 1st edition (May 31, 2005), Paperback: 576 pages, ISBN-10: 0060786507, ISBN-13: 978-0060786502

The Prices, an American missionary family of six, attempt to bring Christianity to the Congo in 1959, but things do not turn out the way they hope. Instead, the land, people and customs are so foreign that the Congo imprints itself onto the family and irrevocably changes all of them. This story follows both the Congo’s trials and tribulations during this time as well as the lives within this family.

This historical fiction starts in 1959 in the Belgian Congo and continues through to 1990. The story is told in a first person narrative alternating between the five Price women, Orleanna, the mother and her four daughters: Rachel, Leah, Adah, and Ruth May. Barbara Kingsolver has 13 published books and has received several awards for her various works.

The Poisonwood Bible illustrates how war negatively affects people’s lives. The story shows first how World War II changed and destroyed Nathan’s life and ultimately led them all to the Congo. Since the majority of this book takes place in Africa during a time of war and strife, the heart-wrenching damage done to Africa and it’s people is continually revealed as this tale is told. The story is a clear indication of the evil and harm that greed and selfishness can do. This tale is well written with great character development.

I highly recommend this novel; it gives a really good description of Africa. I loved the picture Ms. Kingsolver draws of the pre-Belgian Congo. This is a standalone story with a great beginning and middle, I found the ending to be a bit weak, but overall still a really good read.

To Purchase: “The Poisonwood Bible” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

The Onion Girl, by Charles de Lint

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Newford Series

Book Review: 3 Treasure Boxes
Eleventh book in the Newford Series
Publisher: Tor Books (August 3, 2002), Paperback: 512 pages, ISBN-10: 0765303817, ISBN-13: 978-0765303813

Jilly Coppercorn, an artist, has been seriously injured in a car accident. She is now the broken girl, both inside and outside. Jilly, like the city of Newford has many layers, that is why she is The Onion Girl.  This story is her journey of self discovery which she must go through in order to heal, with most of her journey taking place in the spirit world.

The Newford series has a different twist on contemporary fantasy. There are no vampires, werewolves, etc, but there is magic which is a melding of Native American spiritual beliefs and urban faerie. The story is told in a first person narrative alternating between Jilly, the main protagonist, her little sister Raylaine, and Joe Crazy Dog, a veteran of the spirit world. Charles de Lint is a prolific writer and has written 24 books in the Newford series alone, he has also written many other novels, novelettes, short stories and collections.

Although horrific, child abuse is examined in this book. The story shows how the same horrendous event can affect different people in different ways. Some people can choose to overcome the abuse, while others can let the abuse destroy their life. When Jilly was growing up she experienced evil in the form of a brother who started sexually abusing her when she was just three years old. Her parents were even more evil, since they not only knew about it, they also blamed and ostracized the young girl for her unwilling participation. Now both Jilly and her sister continue to deal with the evil that was done to them, each coming to terms with the abuse in a different manner.

This is a standalone book, with a great story that examines personal responsibility. If you enjoy reading contemporary fantasy where the majority of the story takes place in a spirit world, then you should read The Onion Girl.

To purchase: “The Onion Girl” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

Book Review: 2 Treasure Boxes
Publisher: Europa Editions (September 2, 2008), Paperback: 336 pages, ISBN-13: 978-1-933372-60-0

Paloma is looking for a reason to keep living and at times she thinks she may have found it only to realize, that no, that is not good enough. Renee is cynical and she is reiterating her dim view of life, with only her art as the highlight. Both characters are completely different, yet each is searching for meaning.

Muriel Barbery is a French novelist and The Elegance of the Hedgehog was originally written in French and is a novel of ideas. The story is told with a first person narrative that alternates between the two main protagonists. Renée Michel is a 54 year old concierge (landlady) of an upper middle class apartment building. Paloma Josse is a 12 year old girl, who lives in one of the apartments.

Both the characters are living a lie; they are pretending to be less than what they really are because neither feels they will be accepted. Numerous times Ms. Barbery uses exaggeration as a means of portraying her point. It was obvious that the book had been translated from French into English because the language selected for numerous words are not commonly used, for example Renee refers to her apartment as a loge. There are some pretty profound thoughts and observations in the final chapter, with both characters experiencing epiphanies.

Although the story slowly unfolds, the book concentrates more on the internal dialogue of each of the characters as they examine the meaning of life then on actual plot. However, things do pick up in the last quarter of the book. There is a lot of philosophising in this book by both characters and at times, Paloma seems much older and far more cynical than most twelve year olds. The story also has both a sad yet uplifting ending. The book is not for everyone, but if you enjoy analyzing life, then you should give this book a try.

My favourite quote: Moments like this act as magical interludes, placing our hearts at the edge of our souls: fleetingly, yet intensely, a fragment of eternity has come to enrich time. Elsewhere the world may be blustering or sleeping, wars are fought, people live and die, some nations disintegrate, while others are born, soon to be swallowed up in turn-and in all this sound and fury, amidst eruptions and undertows, while the world goes its merry way, bursts into flames, tears itself apart and is reborn: human life continues to throb.

  To Purchase: “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris

This entry is part 8 of 11 in the series The Southern Vampire Mysteries Series

Book Review: 2 Treasure Boxes
A Sooke Stackhouse Novel (The Southern Vampire Mysteries), Book 8
Publisher: Ace (TRD); 1 edition (May 6 2008), Hardcover: 368 pages, ISBN-10: 9780441015894, ISBN-13: 978-0441015894

Sooke Stackhouse, a cute, sweet, down–to-earth barmaid becomes involved with several unrelated but life threatening situations involving either vampires or werewolves. This book takes place just after Hurricane Katrina and it deals with the impact this disaster had on the supernatural community.

From Dead to Worse is the eighth book in The Southern Vampire Mysteries series (also known as A Sooke Stackhouse Novel ), there are currently a total of eleven books with book twelve scheduled to be released May 2012. All the books are contemporary fantasy but are also known as urban fantasy. They also fall into the romance genre. The story is told in the first person narrative with Sooke’s voice and thoughts as we follow her around.

The story was engaging and interesting. We learn a couple of more interesting things about Sooke that help to explain why she is telepathic. Sooke’s love life is pretty depressing, but as always, Eric Northman, the gorgeous vampire helps to spice it up a little bit. I loved how this book ended, it left me wanting more and I am going to start reading Dead and Gone as soon as I can!

This is a standalone book, but it should be read as part of the series and in the proper order. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading contemporary, urban fantasy books that focus on life with vampires and werewolves.  I think it is one of the better series in the genre.  So if you enjoy reading about contemporary vampires that includes some romance then try From Dead to Worse.

To buy: “From Dead to Worse” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

Witches’ Brew by Terry Brooks

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series The Magic Kingdom of Landover

Book Review: 3 Treasure Boxes
Book five of The Magic Kingdon of Landover Series
Publisher: Del Rey; First Edition edition (May 1, 1996,) Paperback: 352 pages, ISBN-10: 0345387023,ISBN-13: 978-0345387028

Mistaya, the new daughter of King Ben and Queen Willow is now two years old, but because of her unique heritage she looks like she’s ten year and acts like she’s twenty. When a strange challenger comes to threaten Ben, Mistaya is sent to her Grandfathers for protection with Questor and Abernathy, the only problem is they never arrive.  Instead Mistaya is abducted by Nightshade after she banishes Questor and Abernathy to Ben’s old world.

This is the fifth of six books in The Magic Kingdom of Landover Series. Terry Brooks is also very well known for the numerous books he has written in the Shannara Series, but these two series are totally unrelated.  The Magic Kingdom of Landover Series are fantasy books that go back and forth between contemporary and traditional fantasy depending on the location of the book.  This book is written in the third person narrative from the various characters’ point of view.

This is a fun book to read with the introduction of Ben’s daughter; Mistaya, I think she is an interesting and unique character.  Seeing Abernathy as a man instead of a dog and his reaction to this change is also good reading. We really get to understand Nightsahde as her back story is revealed.  There were several frightening and exciting scenes when Ben was forced to face the numerous challengers.

This is a standalone story, it takes place two years after the end of The Tangle Box and is a very good read. There were several interrelated subplots going on at the same time, each was interesting and the story unfolded to a satisfying and exciting ending.  I highly recommend this book.  If you enjoyed the other books in The Magic Kingdom of Landover series, then you must be sure to read Witches’ Brew.

My Favourite Quote from the book:
We have to accept who we are in this life and make the best of it. Some things we can not change, all we can do is try to help each other when we see that help is needed.

To purchase: “Witches’ Brew” from Amazon click here or on picture above


House of Chains by Steven Erikson

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Malazan Book of the Fallen

Book Review: 2 Treasure Boxes
Fourth Novel in the Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series
Publisher: Bantam Books (2003), 1020 pages, Language: English, ISBN: 978-0-553-81313-5

This book captured my attention from the first page.  We are introduced to a new character, Karsa Orlong.  The first quarter of the book introduces him and follows him through his trials.  Initially, I am not sure if I love him or hate him, but he grows on you until you really start to cheer him on. The story continues immediately after the events that occurred in Deadhouse Gates with the primary focus on preparing for the upcoming battle between Adjunct Tavore Paran heading the Mazalan army and the Whirlwind rebellion in the Holy Desert Raraku.

Steven Erikson is the author of the Malazan Book of the Fallen Series which comprises 10 books and 4 novellas.  House of Chains is the fourth book in this long and complex story-line.  The genre is Fantasy and the multifarious story takes place in a non-technological age with the use of magic involving many different peoples. There are the human people of Genabackis who are descendants of the T’lan Imass. There are T’lan Imass a group of people who are one of the founding races that underwent a ritual (so long in the past that it predated the ascension of humans) and has made them immortal . There is the Jaghut, a race that was so dangerous the T’lan Imass undertook the ritual to ensure complete annihilation of the Jaghut. The Tiste Andii, a non-human elder race that is very powerful and has use of magic. There are also Gods, who are called Ascendants. There are others as well. Some individuals have access to magic.  The magic is accessible through warrens which are pathways that exist outside of the world and are believed to have been created by the Dragons. The Deck of Dragons, which is a deck of cards that is associated with the Ascendants, can be used to foretell the future.  Soletaken are humans or creatures that can change their forms into animals.

Felisin Paran has evolved into the seer of Sha’ik. The Whirlwind, in the Holy Desert Raraku, is a rebellion against the Malazan Empire’s rule that is being lead by the new prophetess Sha’ik and is driven by the Goddess. The Warrens have been poisoned by the Crippled God. New characters are initially introduced, specifically Karsa Orlong, and they are the long-lived people of Aryd.  They are being influenced by evil beings who have been imprisoned in stone and are known as the stone faced gods.

Karsa’s journey weaves in many directions and it is interesting to learn who his gods really are and to watch Karsa as he grows and changes throughout his trials. Karsa was my favourite character in this book. This story is so large and complex with a huge number of different storylines running at the same time that I sometimes had difficulty following them all.

I also found it confusing the way people’s names changed and the fact that there is now a Felisin the younger.  It took me a while to figure out that she is a new character, the original Felisin’s newly adopted daughter. But now that I have waited a few days to digest this story, I am starting to put all the pieces together.  I think, I know what happened, but I am not 100% sure, maybe it is just because I waited too long between books three and four, or maybe the story is just too convoluted.

It was interesting how all the events eventually interlocked throughout the story and I am curious to see where the story is going next. Although I thought that some of the writing was pretty subtle and was not completely clear as to what really did happen at the end of the book.

My favourite quote from the book:

“For you, Bidithal. For every nameless girl-child you destroyed. Here. Choke on your pleasure.”

A few questions to ponder:
WTF, what really happened here?
Who or what is the fallen God, who is the chained God and who is the nameless one?

To buy House of Chains, click here or on picture above