Why I removed thousands of books from my library
Reading Life / February 28, 2017

Straight to book hell. On a bus. I am doomed by my actions. Yet, I am unrepentant. We’ve all broken a few of the rules of the bibliophiles, committed a few venial sins such as claimed we read a classic when we didn’t, secretly hated the book everyone loved, spoiled a mystery for someone (or ourselves — but I don’t get that particular kink). Some of us even belong to a more heretical branch of book devotees: e-book lovers, audiobook ‘readers’ or comic book readers, but ultimately, we are still part of the faithful, the devotees of bibliolatry. Given that as a community we can be judgmental (we rate books, covers, genre’s, we review, we rank, we recommend) it doesn’t shock me that all it took to for people to stare in horror, call me a blasphemer, and question my status as a bibliophile was to commit the mortal, grievous sin of ridding myself of the bulk of my library. (I hear the hisses, the sharp intakes of breath as you read that…) Let me confess. Working class roots meant a stable but modest home life. Dad worked shifts in a mill, mom in a bank. Mom read to us…

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9.1/10
Review: Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld et al.
Fiction , Reviews / July 16, 2017

Title: Zeroes Author: Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, Deborah Biancotti, Genre: Young Adult Publisher: Simon and Schuster Release Date: September 27, 2016 Format: Kindle / Audio Pages: 576 Narrator: Amber Benson Read Date: 09 July 2017 Told from separate viewpoints, teens Scam, Crash, Flicker, Anonymous, Bellwether, and Kelsie, all born in the year 2000 and living in Cambria, California, have superhuman abilities that give them interesting but not heroic lives until they must work as a community to respond to a high stakes crisis. Mix strange, difficult to control powers in with adolescent angst about fitting in, and an action packed plot and you have the basic recipe for a good novel.  Add in adult bad guys, less than great parents, and a whole lot of bad decisions and you’ve got Zeroes. Westerfeld, Biancotti and Canagan have created an ensemble cast of teenagers that have powers that seem more a burden than a gift.  There is Crash who can destroy modern technology but sees no positive purpose to it.  Anonymous is literally forgettable and faces an extreme form of adolescent loneliness because his power is that no one remembers anything about him.  Physically blind, Flicker can jump into others to see, but…

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7.2/10
Review: The Paper Magician Series by Charlie Holmberg

Title: The Paper Magician Author: Charlie N. Holmberg Genre: Fiction Publisher: 47North Release Date: July 8, 2014 Format: Kindle Source: Amazon Read Date: Feb 17, 2015; May 11, 2017; May 23, 2017 Under the tutelage of magician Emery Thane, Ceony Twill discovers the wonders of paper magic, but when her teacher’s life is threatened, she must face the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic to save him. The Paper Magician Series — Charlie N. Holmberg In The Paper Magician, set in an alternate turn of the 20th Century, Holmberg has created a unique magical world for the series.  Trained and licensed magicians work with only one particular medium among those available — all involving man-made materials. We first meet Ceony at the close of her education when she is to begin her apprenticeship.  Ceony wants to work in metal — to be a smelter. However, after completing magic school (all theory because students can’t perform magic until they bond with their material) she is instead assigned to apprentice with a folder — a paper magician because there are only eleven left in England. Ceony is not happy about it, but finds that she wants to please her teacher, Magician Thane. The…

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9.8/10
Review: An Untamed State by Roxanne Gay

Title: An Untamed State Author: Roxane Gay Genre: Adventure stories Publisher: Corsair Release Date: January 8, 2015 Format: Kindle + Audio Pages: 384 Source: purchased Narrator: Robin Miles Read Date: 26 August 2015 Mirielle Duval Jameson’s fairy tale life is shattered when, during a visit to Haiti with her American husband and their child, she is kidnapped. Her father, a self-made millionaire, refuses to pay the ransom; and so Mirielle’s captors take their revenge – pushing her beyond what she previously thought possible to endure. In An Untamed State Roxanne Gay takes a hard, unsparing look at race, complicity, privilege, violence against women, and how one woman survives the horror of an abduction. Mireille is Haitian-American, a daughter not of poverty but of wealth and a sheltered life. She admits that she has a fairytale life. That is, until visiting Haiti from their home in Miami, when she is abducted by a group of men seeking a ransom from her father. At first, she wants to believe that such kidnappings are business transactions and that no serious harm will come to her. She desperately wants to believe her father will pay the ransom and she will be returned home. But, the…

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9.1/10
Review: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
Fiction , Reviews / April 2, 2017

Title: Rebel of the Sands Author: Alwyn Hamilton Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult Publisher: Viking Childrens Books Release Date: March 8, 2016 Format: Kindle Pages: 320 Source: purchased Read Date: 07 February 2017 “Amani is desperate to leave the dead-end town of Dustwalk, and she’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to help her escape. But after she meets Jin, the mysterious rebel running from the Sultan’s army, she unlocks the powerful truth about the desert nation of Miraji…and herself”– In her excellent debut fantasy novel, Rebel of the Sands, Alwyn Hamilton sets us in a depressed desert village of miners and rough characters.  A wild blend of outlaw western and Middle-eastern based mythos with a dash of political intrigue, Rebel of the Sands engaged from the opening chapter to the closing pages, with a blend of well-drawn characters, magic, adventure, and a fast-paced, twisting plot. Amani, the narrator, is an orphan raised by an aunt and uncle who want nothing to do with her except marry her off, or in the case of the uncle, marry her.  Determined to leave, Amani disguises herself as a boy and attempts to win money in a shooting competition.  She ends up competing with a…

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9.5/10
Review: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Title: Neverwhere Author: Neil Gaiman Genre: Fiction, Fantasy Publisher: Harper Collins Release Date: July 1, 1997 Format: Kindle + Audiobook Pages: 352 Source: Purchased Narrator: Neil Gaiman Read Date: 06 April 2016 Richard Mayhew is an unassuming young businessman living in London, with a dull job and a pretty but demanding fiancee. Then one night he stumbles across a girl bleeding on the sidewalk. He stops to help her–and the life he knows vanishes like smoke. Several hours later, the girl is gone too. And by the following morning Richard Mayhew has been erased from his world. His bank cards no longer work, taxi drivers won’t stop for him, his hundred rents his apartment out to strangers. He has become invisible, and inexplicably consigned to a London of shadows and darkness a city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, that exists entirely in a subterranean labyrinth of sewer canals and abandoned subway stations. He has fallen through the cracks of reality and has landed somewhere different, somewhere that is Neverwhere. For this is the home of Door, the mysterious girl whom Richard rescued in the London Above. A personage of great power and nobility in this murky, candlelit realm,…

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9.9/10
Review: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Best Reads , Fiction , Reviews / March 12, 2017

Title: The Underground Railroad Author: Colson Whitehead Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Publisher: Doubleday Books Release Date: August 2, 2016 Format: Kindle Pages: 320 Source: Hartford Public Library Read Date: 06 March 2017 From prize-winning, bestselling author Colson Whitehead, a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave’s adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned—Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted. Colson Whitehead first learned about the Underground Railroad as a schoolboy and visualized it being like the NYC Metro.  That visual is key to his tackling the horrific history of slavery in the US and the attempt of one woman to find freedom in a world that does not…