Protagonist Quentin Coldwater is depressed, brilliant, and enamored with Fillory, a fictional fantasy world. As Quentin has always felt distanced from reality, he is elated to learn that not only does magic exist, but Fillory is real as well. Not only that, but Fillory is a dangerous place...perfect for a magician to practice his craft.
McCarthy gives us the appropriate dark, violent, and disturbing details of the west often missing from traditional "western" novels. The Kid, a 14-year-old Tennesseean, joins the Glanton gang, a real historical gang that sold the scalps of both violent and peaceful Indians to the U.S. government. One particular character, Judge Holden, will haunt you.
Far more than an investigation into a grisly tiger attack, Vaillant gives us a detailed account of survival in the Russian "taiga". Things do not go well for poachers who disrespect the balance between Amur (or Siberian) tigers and man. The setting, northeast Russia, is almost mystical in its plant and animal diversity. Some scientists suspect the area wasn't frozen during the last ice age.
An indispensable book for the adventurous. My copy is beat up and re-read many times. While nothing about outdoor adventure is completely safe, reading and understanding this book will help prepare you for just about any situation you may encounter. Everything from gear recommendations to self-rescue, climbing, ice climbing, and training is covered in detail with useful illustrations.
John Muth is one of my favorite artists. His watercolors are magnificent and endearing. Couple that with a giant panda that imparts Zen advice and you have one lovely children's book. The short stories that Stillwater, the giant panda, tells us are short meditations rooted in Zen Budddhism and Taoism. His admirable goal is to calm readers' minds, so we may see the true world more clearly.
Murakami's "meganovel" is pure genius. While initially slow to develop, this distopian homage to Orwell's "1984" is moving and intricately plotted. It's a lovely mix of fantasy, noir crime drama, love story, and magical realism.
Bacigalupi, a relatively new author, has won me over; as well as many prestigious awards. "Ship Breaker" takes place after the cataclysmic effects of global warming have ravaged the world. The US is a dangerous swamp crawling with newly evolved, and some man-made, creatures and warring factions. Fans of "The Hunger Games" will enjoy this dystopian landscape.
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"Ghostman" is a well-researched debut novel about a guy who helps criminals vanish. This skilled "ghost" is tasked with solving a bungled casino robbery to settle a debt. One robber is dead; another is injured and missing with $1.2 million. The clock is set at 48 hours, as the money will detonate if its anti-theft failsafe isn't disabled. This is a fast-paced, tech-savvy, dark thriller that really grabbed me.