Saturday, October 29, 2011

Magician's Guild - Book One of The Black Magician Trilogy

Author: Trudi Canavan

Publication Date: 2001

Category: Fantasy

What's it all about? In a city of the rich, the merchant class, and the slum dwellers, is the Magician's Guild, where all who have the ability go to learn how to wield it safely. Except, the only people tested for the ability are the rich, and sometimes magic is not a latent ability, awaiting release by a magician.

Sonea was a slum dweller, and through hard work her family earned enough to live inside the city walls and join the tenuous ranks of the merchants. Their crowded lodging was deemed unsanitary, and all occupants were forcibly removed in the annual Purge, sending them back out to the overcrowded, often dangerous, slums. In a moment of fury, Sonea hurls a stone at the nearest magician, knowing it to be futile, as the magicians maintain a protective shield around themselves. So she is completely stunned when it finds its mark, and knocks the magician unconscious.

With a deep distrust for the magicians, Sonea has no wish to join them. The magicians, however, cannot allow a 'rogue' magician, and her abilities could kill her, and others, if she does not learn to control them.

I haven't read anything from this genre in quite a while, as it can get pretty formulaic, and depends entirely on character development and writing skill. While this series generally follows the formula (a nobody is foretold/found/discovered to have amazing ability in some area, and will somehow save the day/world/universe), it is written with wit and humour, and depth of character. I made time to read this series, enjoying the merry dance Sonea leads those magicians on, and I think my family were grateful when I finished it, and rejoined the real world.

Publisher: HarperCollins

Visit Newcastle Region Library's Catalogue and Website.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cocaine Blues (the first in the Phryne Fisher series)

Author: Kerry Greenwood

Publication Date: First published in 1989 by McPhee Gribble Publishers. This edition published in 2005

Category: Mystery

Who'll want to read it? This is a great, quick read, full of fast-paced action and drama. It is slightly over the top, but in a good way, and I found myself grinning quite a lot. Phryne Fisher is outrageous, and FUN!

Classic line: Page 107:
Phryne unbuttoned the brocade robe.
'If you try to take me to any station,' she declared in a cold, remote voice, 'you will have to take me like this.' She dropped the robe and stood revealed, quite naked, pearly and beautiful.

What's it all about? The Honourable Phryne Fisher is a completely audacious single young lady in the 1920s, striving to escape the tedium of the upper class. When given an excuse to travel (back) to Melbourne, and engage in a bit of sleuthing, she leaps at the opportunity. Investigating cocaine smuggling, illegal abortions, and poisonings certainly add some spice, as do the interesting cast she encounters, including a (gasp!) female doctor, two revolutionary taxi drivers, a homicidal maid, a pair of exotic Russian dancers, and the very cream of Melbourne society.

Publisher: Allen&Unwin

Visit Newcastle Region Library's Catalogue and Website.

It's a Book

Author: Lane Smith

Publication Date: 2010

Category: Picture book

Who'll want to read it? If you are inundated by multimedia, or know someone who is, you might enjoy this gentle reminder about the simple pleasure that a book is.

Point of no return: The title page, which introduces the three four main characters of the book: "It's a mouse. It's a jackass. It's a monkey. It's a book." Gorgeous illustrations.

Classic line: The jackass reduces a classic literary moment in Treasure Island to text speak:
Too many letters.
I'll fix it.

LJS: rrr! K? lol!
JIM: :( ! :)

What's it all about? A monkey sits, reading a book. A jackass, laptop in hand, interrupts his reading. Jackass tries to understand the concept of "book" by asking a lot of questions, starting with "What do you have there?", followed by "How do you scroll down?" The jackass is convinced that the book is inferior to his laptop, and is relentless in his quest to understand how this strange technology works.

Publisher: Walker Books Australia
Visit Newcastle Region Library's Catalogue and Website.