The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin

The Fifth Season is the first in  The Broken Earth trilogy.

“This is the way the world ends for the last time. It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun. It starts with death, with a murdered sonCover art and a missing daughter. It starts with betrayal and long-dormant wounds rising up to fester. This is the Stillness, a land familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.”

This work of fantasy begins with the narrative in the second person, which is a bit disconcerting at first because it is an unusual way to tell a story. The first 100 pages of the book have a lot of world building in them and it can be somewhat heavy and plodding but if you can work your way through this it is well worth the effort. Once I knew who was who and what the setting was it was difficult for me to put the book down. In fact, I read all three books of the trilogy in less than 3 weeks, which for me, is quite a feat.

The protagonist, a girl called Damaya, has been “given” to a guardian because she exhibits characteristics of earth bending which according to the rules of the Stillness, must be harnessed and controlled by those in charge. The narrative flips back and forth from Damaya’s view, told in the third person, and narrative told in the second person, which is actually Damaya as an adult.

The series is action packed and fast moving. It explores the issues of mind control, alienation and subjugation of fringe groups, trust and betrayal, love and loss. The characters are deep and it is easy to identify with each one. All show tremendous growth throughout the series and it is difficult not to be invested in their lives.

For all you fantasy readers this trilogy is a must.

Review by Christine

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 The Island of the Mad

The Island of the Mad by Laurie R King
For fans of author Laurie R. King, here is a fantastic Sherlock Holmes & Mary Russell adventure.
The Island of the Mad is a co-operative effort between husband & wife in the beautiful 36296239city of Venice , to find the missing Aunt of one of Mary’s friends.   By using descriptions of the buildings , canals, cabarets, government agencies & daily life in this lovely city , it brings  this detecting  duo to life. With the mention of figures in history like Cole Porter & Mussolini, the story progresses  with great interest & excitement.
I enjoyed this book immensely.  I love books that take place in Italy. The added history & historical facts seem to be accurate , thus making the story believable.
Review by Romalda

The Silence of the North

The Silence of the North by Olive A. Fredrickson

In this biography we learn what life was like in 1920 in the harsh north lands of Alberta. At the age of nineteen Olive Fredrickson married a trapper and followed him into the wilds  where they led a lonely and perilous life. They survived near-starvation, winter life in a primitive cabin with a tiny baby as well as a terrifying trek in 50 below zero weather.

Nine years later Olive’s husband died, leaving her as sole support of three small children. Without family or friends to sustain her, she single-handedly ran a farm, fed and clothed her children and protected them from the menace of wild animals.

This true story is told in very simple language in the first person, past tense. The story flows naturally and easily. I was gripped by the adventures of this woman’s every day life and found it difficult to put the book down.

The Silence of the North is just one book from our small but mighty biography section here at the Lanark Highlands Public Library. Come on in and check it out. You won’t be disappointed.

Review by Christine

The Paper Bag Princess

The Paper Bag Princess: story by Robert Munsch art by Michael Martchenko

Princess Elizabeth lived in a castle and had expensive princess clothes. She was going to marry a prince named Ronald. Unfortunately, a dragon smashed her castle, burned all her clothes and carried off Prince Ronald. What was a girl to do?

Robert Munsch tells the story of what happened next in his usual zany manner. The book is exciting and Elizabeth shows herself to be resourceful young princess. I especially liked the plot twist at the end.

A great book for 4 to 9 year old children (and their parents).

Review by Christine.

The Pied Piper of Hamlin and Other Favourite Poems

The Pied Piper of Hamlin and Other Favourite Poems selected by Jay Fielden and John Mole

This lovely two CD set of poems is appropriate for young and old alike. It features the works of Wm. Shakespeare, Robert Louis Stevenson, John Keats, Robert Browning and Lewis Carroll  to name just a few. The CD’s are narrated by Anton Lesser, Anne Harvey and Katinka Wolf in a delightfully vivid array of British accents. The poems vary in length from 14 seconds to 16 minutes. There are brief musical interludes taken from the works of Satie, Ravel, Debussy, Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov.The Pied Piper, and other favourite poems audiobook by

Give yourself a treat and sign this CD out for your listening pleasure.

Lanark Highlands Public Library has a selection of children’s CD’s as well as a number of adult fiction books on CD.

Review by Christine

A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L”Engle

Meg and her young, genius brother, Charles Wallace, live with the twins and their mother, who is a scientist. Their father, also a scientist, has gone missing while on a book cover of A Wrinkle in Timesecret mission for the government.  Charles becomes friends with three very strange women from the next house over. One evening the three women abscond with Meg, Charles and their new friend, Calvin. They travel via tesseracts, or wrinkles in time, to look for Meg’s father. They encounter many strange things and phenomena.

This, for children ages 10 to 13, is full of adventure. It is a fast paced read that will be enjoyed by those with vivid imaginations and a tendency toward science fiction. It is the first in Time Quintet.

Review by Christine

 

Ragged Company

Ragged Company by Richard Wagamese

A group of chronically homeless people – the ragged company – Amelia One Sky, Timber, Double Dick and Digger take refuge from a descending Arctic front by taking in movies at an old theatre. They enter the world of cinematic escapism and also meet Granite, a jaded and lonely journalist who has given up writing. Together they form an unlikely band. The bonds between them are made stronger when Digger discovers a winning Image result for ragged companylottery ticket worth $13.5 million, on his daily route digging for cast offs he can exchange for money. None of the four can claim their winnings for lack of a fixed address, but by enlisting the help of Granite they try to change their lives and fortunes forever.

This novel explores the meaning of the word home as Wagamese reconnects his characters to  their various histories and their dreams for the future.

The story is told by each of the characters in turn using first person, past tense. Of the five main characters Wagamese has succeeded in giving a distinct and recognizable voice to only 2. I found myself flipping back numerous times to see who was telling the story when any of the other 3 characters took up the tale.

I found it difficult to believe in the characters as they were often doing things, saying things that were not suited to their particular persona. Wagamese tells us many times that “rounders” (those who have been around a long time on the street) don’t talk about their pasts, don’t bare themselves to others and yet, at the slightest hint of “well maybe you should tell your story” one after the other of the four spills their story to an assembled group of 5 people. Often in these revelations the characters take on, what I assume is, the voice of the author. The vocabulary and turns of phrase are completely out of character for the particular rounder speaking.

The rags to riches story is a popular one and Wagamese gives it a fair go, but again, I found it to be less than believable.

Because of the lack of credence of the story and characters and the resultant lack of trust in the author, the novel quickly became a difficult read for me.

All in all, if I were awarding stars, I would give this book 1 out of 5.

If someone feels otherwise after having read Ragged Company I would love to read your comments.

Review by Christine