Archive for the ‘ Books ’ Category

Young Wizards Books 1-5


Every now and then, I find myself trying to explain to someone why I’m not a big fan of the Harry Potter series. I still haven’t gotten good at this explanation, probably because I usually change the subject before the other person decides I’m an elitist snob who is trying to over-think their simple pleasures. When I do go into details, I try to explain that it feels like Harry Potter just throws in world-building elements because they are amusing or useful at the time, with no thought for how they fit in to the greater series. It’s not that I’m intentionally nitpicking it, but if I really like a series, the world will keep living on in my head. And it breaks the spell when I repeatedly realize that a conflict from one book could have been resolved easily if the characters had just remembered to use a spell or character from a previous book.

Sometimes, instead of just walking away, the person asks me what alternative I’d recommend to Harry Potter. Usually, I tell them about Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series. Unlike Harry Potter, these books kept kept a foothold in my imagination for years after I read them.

When I discovered the series, there were only three books, and the final one seemed meant as the end of a trilogy. I was happy to discover recently that the series continued after all, and is now up to nine books. I got the first five for Christmas a year ago, and I began re-reading them. It was exciting, but also a little worrisome. Would these live up to the standards that had been set by almost two decades of nostalgia? Short answer: they did sometimes, but disappointed me at other times. They probably aren’t the Harry Potter killers I remembered, but I can definitely recommend them as good young adult fantasy books.

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The Year In Books (Part 2)

Continuing from Part 1 a couple days ago, here are capsule reviews of the rest of the books I read in 2010.

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The Year In Books (Part 1)

For the past several years, I’ve read a lot fewer books than I used to. Most people blame this on a lack of time, but my undoing was comic books. Comics come out on a weekly schedule, each one updating something from the last month. The system is set up to make sure that you keep up on them, while it’s easy to put off a novel for a while, since it will still be on the shelves months, if not years, later.

I realized how bad this had gotten a year ago, when my birthday and Christmas presents included almost 20 books, but I’d only read about 5 all year. I decided to make more of an effort on novels for the year.

In the end, I read 19 books in 2010. It’s not an incredible number, especially since several of them were novellas or children’s books. Considering that I did it without dropping back on my comics reading, though, I’m happy. This year I’m planning on 25-30.

Rather than going back and doing full articles on things I read in the past, here are capsule reviews. It’s still pretty long, so I’ve split it into two parts. The books I read in the first half of the year are below, and I’ll follow up with part two in a couple days. Continue reading

Censoring Huckleberry Finn

A couple of news items have caught the attention of my book-reading friends, so I thought I would deviate from the review format of this blog to discuss them.

The big news, of course, is that a publisher called NewSouth Books is making an edition of Huckleberry Finn with the “obscene” parts removed. This is, depending on who you ask, either laughable or horrible. Mark Twain was fully aware of the evils of the world, and wrote his books to attack those problems. By removing the objectionable content, these misguided people are ignoring, rather than addressing, the point of the book! Do they realize that by making this classic safe to read, they’re weakening the very things that make it a classic?

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