Good Books and the Random Movie

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26 February 2012

The Magicians' Guild (Black Magician #1)

The Magicians' Guild by Trudi Canavan is the first book in her Black Magician Trilogy.

In a world where magic is controlled - both for the safety of society and of the magician - is has been centuries since someone came upon magic on their own. Usually a magician will check a child for magical potential and then release his or her magic. And this only happens to children within the Houses, the upper parts of society.

Each Winter the king orders the Purge of the city where city guards and the magicians' guild moves the homeless and lowest classes out of the city walls. There is a huge city outside of the walls at this point, but it is has none of the luxuries of the city like running water, sewage systems, etc... So people move back into the city to find work each Spring.

The last hold out is always a square near the city gate. The magicians form a protective barrier and slowly push people toward the gate. Each year there are street kids to throw rocks at the magicians in protest, but they just bounce off of the shield. This year, when Sonea hears a rude comment one of the magicians makes about people like her, she throws a rock herself. She hopes with all of her being that the rock passes through the barrier. And it does.

Now the magicians are looking for her. They say they are trying to help her control her magic, but the lower classes have never seen the magicians do anything good for them. If the Thieves will help hide her in the underground tunnels she may have a chance - unless her magic gets too strong for her to control without training.

Canavan has written a great first book this trilogy. The characters and society are well thought out and compelling. Readers will be anxious for book two to see what happens to Sonea next. This is a great choice for fantasy readers.

Canavan, Trudi. (2001). The Magicians' Guild. New York: EOS.

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20 February 2012

Rapunzel and the Seven Dwarfs

Rapunzel and the Seven Dwarfs by Willy Claflin, illustrated by James Stimson, is a mixed up fairy tale as told to Maynard Moose.

After Rapunzel was locked in the tower and then escaped, her hair became a problem. It got caught on everything as she tried to make her way through the forest. Luckily, the dwarfs (Clumsy, Snoozy Cheerful, Fearful, Hyper, Hungry, Grizelda, Ambidextrous, and sometimes Bewildered) helped her and hid her in their cabin.

But when the witch asked her mirror to find Rapunzel and sent her rhinoceros to give her a poisoned watermelon to put her into a deep sleep. Rapunzel slept for so long that the dwarfs set up an amusement park around her and charged admission to see her.Luckily, the Moose finally freed her from her slumber.

Since the story is told by Maynard Moose, using must of the old Moose language, the story varies a bit from the more traditional human telling. Claflin has created a fun way to revisit many loved fairy tales in one fell swoop.

Claflin, Willy. (2011). Rapunzel and the Seven Dwarfs. Atlanta: August House Books.

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19 February 2012


Orbit by Thomas Block is the intense story of an airplane mishap - one that sends a Concorde-like jet into low Earth orbit.

The Star Streak Superliner flies faster than the speed of sound due to two rocket engines in addition to the regular jet engines. The idea being that when the plane reaches its normal flying height the rocket engines take over and take the plane along at hypersonic speeds. However, on this particular flight something goes wrong with the rocket engines and they will not shut off. In order to save the plane from overheating (in spite of the extra cooling science used in the wings) the pilot pulls them up higher to try and reduce speed.

Soon the plane is trapped in a low Earth orbit. The regular jet engines are no use because they need oxygen to function. And the rocket engines are out of fuel. The plane will loop the planet every 94 minutes until it is rescued or falls out of the sky. But the people only have a limited supply of oxygen.

Will NASA be able to launch a shuttle to resupply oxygen while passengers can be ferried back to Earth or will one hundred six people suffocate?

Block, Thomas. (1982). Orbit. New York: Coward, McCann and Geoghegan. 

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17 February 2012

The Night Circus

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is a wonderful, magical book and has joined the ranks of my favorite books.

Le Cirque des Reves arrives without warning. One morning when you awake it may be in a field of the edge of town. It posts no flyers or advertisement of any kind; it simply appears and draws a crowd.

All within the circus is black or white (or a shade of grey) but lack of color only adds to the magical feel. There are tents that will delight all of your senses, from the maze of clouds to the garden of ice. There are performers who will astound you, from the beautiful illusionist to the tattooed contortionist.

The circus is a stage - not just a stage for the performers - but at its heart it is a contest between two people who were placed there to compete within some vague rules with no clear idea of how to win. But the contest is not adversarial. Each side creates pieces that delight and amaze not only the patrons of the circus, but each other as well.

Morgenstern has created beautiful characters that readers will love, a unique and magical setting that will delight all who visit, and an overall novel that is to be treasured. Buy a copy and start reading it today. Allow yourself to be amazed by this book that I am sure will soon be considered a classic of modern literature.

Morgenstern, Erin. (2011). The Night Circus. New York: Doubleday.

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15 February 2012

Wink: The Ninja Who Wanted to Be Noticed

Wink: The Ninja Who Wanted to Be Noticed by J.C. Phillipps is a book about finding your place.

Wink was happy when he was accepted to the Summer Moon School for Young Ninjas. But Wink had a problem being stealthy. First he could not be quite. Then he could not become invisible. He was sent home often.

Finally he was so stealthy that no one noticed him... so he made them notice to show how stealthy he was before.

On his way home, he passed a boy trying to balance. Wink helped him out and in the process found his place.

Phillips, J.C. (2009). Wink: The Ninja Who Wanted to Be Noticed. New York: Viking.

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14 February 2012

Forever Buckhorn (Buckhorn #3 and #4)

Forever Buckhorn by Lori Foster is a reprint of two books in her Buckhorn series: the books Gabe and Jordan.

Gabe is the youngest of the four brothers. He is a handyman - both because he can fix anything and because it allows him to work only when he wants. The rest of the time he can be found laying by the lake. When Elizabeth Parks asks to interview him about saving someone from a runaway boat for her thesis he declines. But when Gabe realizes that if he doesn't answer her questions she will just talk to everyone else in Buckhorn, he decides it may be worth spending the time with her.

Jordan is a veterinarian. People say his voice could soothe a charging rhino. When he is voted to approach a bar just outside of the county - one that is contributing to drunken accidents - he does not expect to find the woman of his dreams dancing upon a stage inside. Georgia Barnes, mother of two, dances at the bar because she needs the money to fix up the house he just bought. She counts on every cent she gains in tips. While Jordan is determined to close the bar, he will do what he can to make Georgia's life easier.

Foster, Lori. (2011). Forever Buckhorn. New York: HQN.

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