Book Review – Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett

Interesting Times is the 17th novel in Terry Pratchett’s comic fantasy Discworld series and the 5th novel in the “Rincewind” sub-series. The Patrician of the city of Ankh-Morpork has received a vexing message from the reclusive Agatean Empire, simply reading “Send Us Instantly The Great Wizzard.” Tasking Archchancellor Ridcully of the Unseen University with finding him, he and his faculty deduce that this “wizzard” can only be one man: the infamously hapless Rincewind. They retrieve him from his life as a castaway, goading him into visiting the mysterious Agatean Empire to see what it is they want. Magically transporting him there, Rincewind is placed smack in the middle of a polite rebel uprising, a barbarian invasion, and the schemes of an ambitious Grand Vizier who is pulling the strings.Read More »

Book Review – The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is a science fiction novel by Becky Chambers, the first in the author’s Wayfarers series. Rosemary Harper is a young woman with a troubled past that she is all too eager to get away from. She finds the escape she’s looking for aboard the Wayfarer, a patched-up ship that’s seen better days. The crew have an important job, however, as the ship can create the hyperspace tunnels that make long-distance space travel safer and time-saving. As the ship’s new clerk, she seems to find exactly the peace and quiet she was looking for, albeit alongside the Wayfarer’s chaotic yet affable crew made up of a mishmash of different species. Their relative comfort in close quarters is put to the test, however, as they take on a riskier, more lucrative job: creating the first tunnel to a distant planet. They’ll have to take the long way to get there first, however, contending with each other’s secrets and whatever the galaxy can throw at them along the way.Read More »

Book Review – Into the Unbounded Night by Mitchell James Kaplan

Into the Unbounded Night is an upcoming historical fiction novel by Mitchell James Kaplan. Set in the first century Roman Empire, the story follows a myriad of characters from different walks of life and cultures. The most prominent perspective character is Aislin, a young woman native to Albion (Britain) during the Roman conquest of her land, who becomes a refugee as a result. Second to her point of view is Yohanan son of Zakkai, a studious and thoughtful young Judaean man living in Roman-occupied Jerusalem who philosophically struggles with keeping to the traditions of his faith and respecting the institution of the Temple, which seems more concerned with pleasing their Roman overlords. Other characters include a disgraced Roman soldier turned artist, the Roman general Vespasian, and the condemned angel Azazel.Read More »

Book Review – Different Seasons by Stephen King

Different Seasons

Different Seasons is a 1982 collection of four novellas by Stephen King. At the time, this book marked a bit of a departure from horror for King, the stories within telling more dramatic tales. Each novella is headed by a sectional title that assigns a season of the year to it: Hope Springs Eternal for “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption”, Summer of Corruption for “Apt Pupil”, Fall from Innocence for “The Body”, and A Winter’s Tale for “The Breathing Method”. In the first story, a wrongfully imprisoned convict manages to rise above his destitute fate, in the second a gifted teen becomes obsessed with the dark past of an elderly local, in the third four rambunctious boys go on a quest to find a dead body, and in the final a single mother-to-be goes beyond the natural in order to save the life of her baby.Read More »

Book Review – Hellboy: Unnatural Selection by Tim Lebbon

Hellboy Unnatural Selection

Unnatural Selection by Tim Lebbon is the 4th standalone novel in the Hellboy series of books, based on the characters from the comic book series of the same name. As with the third novel, this book is apparently considered to be non-canon with the comic book series. Mythical creatures have suddenly appeared all around the world: a werewolf stalks the streets of Baltimore, a dragon perches on the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, a giant alligator lurks in the canals of Venice, and many more. Hellboy and his fellow BPRD agents (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defence) are spread thin, trying to contain the situation before more lives are lost. As things go from bad to worse, however, they come to learn that the emergence of these creatures across the globe is simply a diversion, meant to distract from a more concerted plot that, if successful, could change the world forever.Read More »

Book Review – White Tears by Hari Kunzru

White Tears

White Tears is a 2017 literary horror novel by Hari Kunzru. Seth and Carter are two young white menwho share a passion for music; particularly black music. Thanks to Carter’s trust fund and wealthy family, and Seth’s technical skills and talent, the two run a successful recording studio in Brooklyn. Their lives take a turn, however, when Seth records an unknown singer in the park. Carter mixes the lyrics in their studio, making it sound like an authentic recording of a blues musician from the 1920s, and releases it online as a song by a lost artist of his invention named Charlie Shaw. It seems harmless enough to them, until somebody online reaches out saying that their fictional song and musician are somehow very real. What begins as the two humouring a seemingly confused old man sends their lives spiraling down into the darkness of the nation’s heart.Read More »

Book Review – Other Minds by Peter Godfrey-Smith

OtherMinds

Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness (alternatively subtitled The Octopus and the Evolution of Intelligent Life) is a science and philosophy book by Peter Godfrey-Smith, a professor of philosophy of science and an avid scuba diver. We recognize the intelligence of many animals among us, from our closest relatives in apes and monkeys, to the dogs and cats that live in our homes, and even some of the birds that live in our backyards. Yet there are creatures on this Earth, distantly related to us, that have anomalously developed surprising intelligence on their own. These are the cephalopods: squids, cuttlefish, and especially octopuses. This book is two-pronged, discussing just how consciousness and intelligence arrived on the evolutionary stage in the first place, and the ways in which it has emerged in cephalopods and what science has uncovered in studying their minds.Read More »

Book Review – Soul Music by Terry Pratchett

Soul Music

Soul Music by Terry Pratchett is the 16th novel in the author’s Discworld series and the third in the Death sub-series. After a tragic carriage accident kills his adopted daughter Ysabel and his son-in-law/former apprentice Mort, Death becomes distraught and bemoans his inability to forget anything, wishing to quell his grief. Death wanders off into the world, leaving his vocation unfulfilled. It is soon foisted upon his bewildered granddaughter Susan, who was kept away from him for the sake of living a normal life. She struggles with the duties of the vocation, however, feeling she ought to use it to make the world a fairer place. Meanwhile, a young musician named Imp has traveled from his distant home in the mountains to make a name for himself in the city of Ankh-Morpork. Unbeknownst to him, something powerful and ancient has set its sights on him, shifting reality to make his dreams comes true…on its own terms.Read More »

Book Review – The Strings of Murder by Oscar de Muriel

The Strings of Murder

The Strings of Murder by Oscar de Muriel is a 2015 mystery novel, the first in the “Frey & McGray” series of books. Set in 1880s, the story follows Ian Frey, an inspector for London’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID). After a series of personal disgraces largely outside of his control, Frey is sent by Scotland Yard to Edinburgh, Scotland, where they fear a copycat Jack the Ripper has made his first murder. With the Ripper still eluding apprehension in London, the pressure is on to solve the case quickly and quietly. This will not be easy however, as the violinist victim was somehow butchered in his own sealed bedroom, after taking all of the keys inside with him. There’s no clear evidence of how the murderer got in or out, and the presence of occult symbols at the crime scene only serves to excite the interest of Adolphus “Nine-Nails” McGray, the head of the paranormal subdivision leading the investigation, much to Frey’s chagrin.Read More »

Book Review – The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor

The Faceless Old Woman etc

The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor is the third standalone novel set in the world of the Welcome to Night Vale podcast series created and written by the authors. The Faceless Old Woman is a mysterious, spectral figure who has haunted the homes of Night Vale in the series for years now. Often menacing, yet sometimes obtusely helpful, who she might have been and where she came from had always been an unknown. Narrated by the Faceless Old Woman herself, this novel tells her entire life story, from her birth in the Mediterranean in the early 19th century all the way to how she first came to Night Vale, intercut throughout with her meddling in the life of Craig, a young man living in Night Vale in the 2010s.Read More »