Category Archives: Public Library

The Golem’s Eye by Jonathan Shroud

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series The Bartimaeus Trilogy

Book Review: 1 Treasure Boxes
The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 2
Publisher: New York : Miramax Books : Hyperion Paperbacks For Children, 2005, c2004, 562 pages, Language: English, ISBN-10-0786818603

Bartimaeus is a cynical, 5,000 year old, wise-cracking djinni whose master is a 14 year old magician’s apprentice and a junior member of parliament.  Once again Nathanial (the apprentice,) and Bartimaeus must solve several problems which are affecting London. The first one is the resistance, this is a group of commoners who are rebelling against the magicians.  The second issue is the devastating destruction that is being released by an unknown entity.

This is the second book in The Bartimaeus Trilogy series, there are currently a total of four books, three in the trilogy with a prequel. All the books are children’s fantasy books. The story is told in modern times and takes place in London, but in this world there are magicians who get their power by controlling and enslaving powerful djinni from the chaos plane. The story is told in the first person narrative with Bartimaeus’ voice and thoughts as we follow him around. Bartimaeus also tells the story in the third person narrative when we switch over to Nathaniel’s or Kitty’s saga. Bartimaeus can also refers to himself in the third person when he takes on various animal or human forms.

This book takes a good look at discrimination.  It shows us what the world would be like if there was a powerful ruling class that thinks it is above the law and consequently mistreats the common people.  It shows the common people fighting back and it really makes us feel angry at the injustice. Kitty is a major player in the resistance and this book gives us a really good understanding of Kitty and what drives her. The results of Kitty’s battle are quite sad by the end of this book. Nathaniel, being a magician’s apprentice is part of the ruling class and in this book, he becomes corrupted by the power he is given. Although we do get glimpses of his good side towards the end of the book. There are two major problems that he is trying to solve with Bartimaeus’s help.  The first is the resistance, the second is a golem causing great damage.

Bartemaeus has an interesting view on life and his reflections are humorous and enjoyable to read. It is interesting how the story unfolds.  We learn more about the resistance.  We learn more about the history of the world that the story takes place. There is not a lot of growth in Nathaniel’s character, although he is a much more powerful magician.  We become concerned by the decisions he makes. The story is exciting and there are several battle scenes as well as a chase scene.  The story is part of a trilogy, yet it is also stand alone. 

I enjoyed the story but I did not think it was as good as the first book. There was not as much humour and Bartimaeus played a smaller role. Although it is considered a children’s book, I would recommend it to everyone except really young children. They would find it too scary since it involves murder and there is a fair bit of violence in it. If you enjoy a good story with a bit of humour that is in the fantasy genre and has a social message, then you would enjoy this book.

The Tangle Box by Terry Brooks

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series The Magic Kingdom of Landover

Book Review: 3 Treasure Boxes
Book Four of The Magic Kingdon of Landover Series
Publisher: Del Rey (March 1, 1995), 368 pages, Language: English, ISBN-10: 0345387007, ISBN-13: 978-0345387004

Ben Holiday was a lawyer from our world in modern times, he was unhappy and kind of lost because he lost his wife and their unborn child in a tragic accident. One day he finds a most unusual ad in the paper. It is for the sale of a real live magic kingdom for $1,000,000.  This magic kingdom has fairy magic, witches, trolls, and other strange creatures including a living castle. Now Ben is living as King of Landover with his new wife, Willow, who is a wood sylph.

This is the fourth book in The Magic Kingdom of Landover Series.  To date there are a total of six books in this 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 Kingdon of Landover Series are fantasy books that go back and forth from contempory to traditional fantasy depending on the location of the book.  This book is written and the story is told in the third person narrative from the various character’s point of view.

This book combines three stories together.  Ben Holiday, Strabo the dragon and Nightshade the witch are lost inside the tangle box.  The tangle box is a magical device which confines them both physically and mentally (they do not even know who they really are.) The evil faerie creature which was originally caught in the tangle box is now loose in Landover and causing a great deal of trouble.  Meanwhile Willow has her own task to fulfill. She is pregnant with a child that is part once-faerie, part human and part magic from Landover.  This is not a normal child and it will not be a normal birth, instead the child will be born while Willow is in her tree state and the soil needs to be from the faerie mists, earth and Landover.

Brooks did a good job of maintaining the three storylines and yet also expertly intertwining them, it kept the story interesting.  This is my favourite book in the series. I liked how the story unfolded and I like all the characters.  It was interesting how Ben, Nightshade and Strabo got along with each other in the tangle box. We get a better understanding of each of these characters and their interpersonal relationships form new meaning based on their interactions within the tangle box. In someways this story was similar to Wizard at Large.  In both books an evil creature switches place with one of the main characters in Landover and then creates trouble. I enjoyed the story and thought it had a great ending.   I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

This is a stand alone story which I always find satisfying, yet it is also clearly part of a larger story. I recommend you read the books from the beginning to get a better understanding of the world in which they live.  The story also builds from one book to the other, yet each book can be read independently from any other. If you enjoy reading Terry Brooks, then you will enjoy this book, it is a good fantasy novel that is fun to read.

Night Sins by Tami Hoag

Book Review:1 Treasure Box
First Deer Lake Novel
Publisher: Bantam; First Thus edition (December 1, 1995), Mass Market Paperback: 576 pages, Language: English, ISBN-10: 055356451X, ISBN-13: 978-0553564518

A little 8 year old boy, Josh Kirkwood, has been kidnapped by a clue leaving madman.  It is up to Megan O’Malley, a new officer and Police Chief Mitch Holt to find the boy before it is too late in the small Minnesota town of Deer Lake.

This is the first book in the Deer Lake Series, there was a second book written in this small town, but with different characters called Guilty as Sin.  To date Tami Hoag has written 14 suspense novels including one of my favourites, Don’t Kill The Messenger (see my review at http://books-treasureortrash.com/?p=741.)  She has also written 16 romance novels. Night Sins is written in the third person narrative focusing primarily on our protagonist Megan O’Malley.  The narrative also switches over to Mitch Holt at times as well as our prime suspect and a few of the other characters in the book.

The subject was sad because a small boy has been kidnapped. It tells the tale of a town and family as they deal with the tragedy.  The story covers Officer Megan O’Malley in both her personal and professional life as she tries to find the boy and his kidnapper.  There is also a love story mixed in with the sadness, between Megan and Mitch.

I found that the characters were somewhat one-sided, although there was more depth in Megan and Mitch’s characters.  The story takes place in the mid 1990s and so it is a bit dated. I liked the sexual tension build-up between these two, although I am not sure it is believable. The book takes us on a roller coaster ride as we follow Megan as she tracks down the kidnapper. The ending was ambivalent but still satisfactory. Although it did not answer all the questions, it left gave enough information for us to draw own conclusions.

The story was interesting, but it was not compelling, so if you have nothing better to do and you enjoy reading a bit of suspense then you will enjoy this book.

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series The Bartimaeus Trilogy

Book Review: 3 Treasure Boxes
First book in the Bartimaeus Trilogy
Publisher: New York : Miramax Books : Hyperion Paperbacks For Children, 2004,  462 pages, Language: English, ISBN-0786852550

Bartimaeus is a cynical, 5,000 year old, wise-cracking djinni who has been summoned by a 12 year old magician’s apprentice. The two of them get drawn into a sinister and mysterious plot, that forces them to work together so they can save not only their own lives but those of many others.  However, since Bartimaeus was summoned he is also plotting to get revenge on Nathaniel (the apprentice.)

This is the first book in The Bartimaeus Trilogy series, there are currently a total of four books, three in the trilogy with a prequel. All the books are children’s fantasy books. The story is told in modern times and it takes place in London, but in this world there are magicians who get their power by controlling and enslaving powerful djinni from the chaos plane. The story is told in the first person narrative with Bartimaeus’ voice and thoughts as we follow him around. Bartimaeus also tells the story in the third person narrative when we switch over to Nathaniel’s saga. Bartimaeus can also refers to himself in the third person when he takes on various animal or human forms.

Nathaniel is a very smart, impatient and industrious apprentice with a lame and ineffective master.  His master is the magician that has been put in charge of his upbringing and training. When a strong influential magician named Lovelace is introduced to Nathaniel and then abuses and belittles him without any protection from his master, Nathaniel decides to take revenge with the aid of a djinni.  This then leads to a series of steps that keep going wrong at every turn and unfolds a devious plan. 

There is plenty of excitement and humour as the story evolves. We get to know and understand Nathaniel as the story relays the events in his life that have lead up to the fateful decision which is the catalyst of these breathtaking few days. We also get a glimpse into who and what Bartimaeus is and we get to enjoy reading his interesting view on what is transpiring. Some people compare it to Harry Potter, but I did not see any resemblance other than that the protagonist are young wizards in training. The story is part of a trilogy, yet it is also stand alone.  There is a good build up in the story with a great final climax that comes to a good satisfying end.

I really enjoyed the story and although it is considered a children’s book, I would highly recommend it to everyone except really young children. They would find it too scary since it involves murder and slavery. But if you enjoy a good story with humour that is in the fantasy genre, then you would enjoy this book.

Song of Susannah by Stephen King

This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series The Dark Tower

Book Review: 2 Treasure Boxes
Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah
Publisher:  Donald M. Grant/Scribner; 1st Trade Ed edition (June 8, 2004), Hardcover: 432 pages, Language: English, ISBN-10: 1880418592

As the name implies this book deals primarily with Susannah and it is her path as she journeys through pregnancy with a demon child. At the same time she is possessed by a creature of the Crimson King who has been given the care of the child. 

This is the sixth book in the Dark Tower series, there are currently a total of seven books, and Stephen King announced in 2009 that he has plans for an eighth book, The Wind Through the Keyhole which he plans to write at some point in the future.  Stephen King is primarily known as a horror author, but this book does not fall into that genre.  Instead it is in the fantasy genre and sometimes considered a western.  The story is told with a third person narrative and focuses primarily on Susannah Dean of New York.  Although at times it is also told from the other characters who are on the quest to find and heal the Dark Tower.

They are all Gunslingers and they are Roland Deschain of Gilead (from time unremembered,) Eddie Dean of New York (from 1987) and his wife Susanna Dean of New York (from 1964) as well as their adopted son, Jake Chambers of New York (from 1977.) The story has also added Pere Callahan from one of Stephen King’s previous books, Salam’s Lot and Stephen King himself (from 1977,) is a character in this book.  The Dark Tower is at the centre of the universe and connects all the varying worlds and time-lines together. Most of the books in the series take place in a post-apocalyptic world where things are running down and time has become weird. But most of this book takes place in our world in 1977 and 1999.

Book V, The Wolves Of The Calla, ended with Susannah and Mia (the being who is possessing Susannah’s body,) escaping into our world in 1999 with the evil, magic Black Thirteen. Now Eddie is frantic with worry over Susannah and wants to find her as soon as possible. With the help of the Manni, the door between realities is re-opened, not once but twice. This is good since the gang has several pressing items to deal with.  First they must find Susannah and save her from the demon child and second they must also save the spiritual rose which is growing in the middle of Manhattan. Eddie wants to save Susannah but Ka has a different plan and sends him and Roland to Maine, USA in 1977 to try and save the rose and through the rose the tower.  It is Jake, Callahan and Oy (Jake’s faithful, highly-intelligent, talking  “pet”) who are sent to New York, 1999 to save Susannah. 

 The ka-tet is separated, which weakens them as a whole but it makes the story interesting since there were two plot-lines going on at the same time with an interlocking thread between them.  There was a heavy duty action scene in the beginning when Roland and Eddie first arrived in Maine. This was the only real action in the book. I enjoyed this book although I did not think the overall story really made much progress. It did not seem that much happened, although the cliff-hanger hints of things to come.

I thought it was really interesting the way that Stephen King himself became a character in the book and is tied into what happens to the Dark Tower. Once again the story has ended with a cliff-hanger.  I personally prefer a book that ties up all the story-lines by the end of the book, so in this area the book fell short for me. For this reason and for the lack of excitement within the book I gave the book a 2 Treasure Box rating. This was my lest favourite book in the series todate.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to follow Roland on his journey, but please read the prior books first as this book is not really a stand-alone book.  If you enjoy reading fantasy/science fiction books then you should enjoy this book since it has a bit of both within it.

Toxic Bachelors by Danielle Steel

Book Review: 1 Treasure Box
Publisher: Random House Audio,Listening Length: 10 hours and 26 minutes (336 pages), ASIN: B000BVGTU8


The book was mildly entertaining and the characters were ok, but not as well rounded or defined as I would have liked.  The story centers on 3 male friends who are all very different from each other but they have a bond and they spend each summer together cruising on a luxury yacht meeting girls and partying.

It was fun to read about life on the yacht.  The story shows the progression of relationships with each of the guys as they meet various different girls in their travels both on and off the yacht.  I could not really understand the name of the book and how it relates to the story as I did not feel all the characters were “Toxic”.

The book was pretty mediocre and transparent but the ending was satisfying

To Purchase: “Toxic Bachelors” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

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