“Chimes at Midnight” by Seanan McGuire (DAW, 2013)

Chimes at Midnight

The seventh volume of the October Daye series, Chimes at Midnight, is your typical Toby Daye book, as things seem fine and semi-normal for the first few pages, and then take a lunge to the bizarre and fast-paced, as things heat up. However, this time the stakes seem higher than ever.

Toby and Tybalt, the King of Cats, are now an item and can’t keep their hands and paws off each other, smooching in dark corners and brightly-lit streets, to the point where it starts to grate on the reader, who wants to just get back to the story and adventure at hand. Dead changelings are showing up on the streets, the victims of an overdose of addictive and dangerous goblin fruit. Toby takes this problem to the Queen of Mists, who she’s pretty sure is behind it all and fueling the whole enterprise. But Toby is soon kicked out on her butt and told she must leave the queendom within three days, banished. And before she knows it, Toby finds herself on the receiving end of an attack of goblin fruit that puts her under its dangerous spell. Then there’s the question of the queen’s valid claim to the throne, which seems to be in doubt.

As usual, Toby has a lot to deal with, under the spell of the muddling goblin fruit, it’s a tough one for her and time is running out. Things kick into the predictable high gear readers have come to expect from the series, as Toby jumps from place to place to place at an outlandish rate, leaving the reader’s head spinning, and things get nice and easily solved each time, with little threat to the protagonist or her friends. The climaxes and conflicts of the book feel somewhat contrived and are too easily resolved, making it seem as if the book was written in a hurry. While the ending, although predictable, is worth it, the journey along the way leaves a lot to be desired for the reader who has come to enjoy this series.

Originally written on July 30, 2013 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Chimes at Midnight from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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“God’s Facebook” by Najmus Saquib (Innovation and Integration Inc., 2012)

God's Facebook

While Najmus Saquib earned his Ph D. in engineering, he is a philosopher at heart, with deep interests in literature, social dynamics and comparative religion.  In God’s Facebook, Saquib sets out to show the evolution of God through the history of humanity, starting in early primitive times, and continuing up through the present and into the possible future.  He does this partly with his own words, but also with quotes from many different sources, be they sacred texts, personal biographies, or even works of fiction.  His goal is to show that with the many similarities in all religions, with how god is seen at the center, that people will see and understand this and feel that humanity is all one.

The book is divided up into chapters by time period, such as Chapter 3 – God is Born (250,000 to 2000 BC) or Chapter 4 – God Gives Us Religions (2000 to 1000 BC).  In each chapter he covers that period in time with a short history of the religion and beliefs of the time, and what was changing.  In every chapter there are numerous quotations from a variety of texts and people linked to the particular subject of that chapter.  To break up the quotes, there are also “Coffee Breaks” and “Like” sections.

Saquib even addresses atheism in some chapters, though it doesn’t make much sense with the rest of the book, as the quotes are added in there as awkward pieces that don’t the puzzle of God’s Facebook.  What feels missing from the book is a clear message.  If Saquib is hoping to link humanity with just the quotes alone, that is not enough.  It does show some of the numerous similarities with many religions, but as is true with many people of faith, they need guidance, and there seems little of it in God’s Facebook.

Originally written on February 13, 2013 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of God’s Facebook from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Round About the Earth” by Joyce E. Chaplin (Simon & Schuster, 2012)

Round About the Earth

There have been many books written about the notorious explorers from history, like Columbus, Magellan, Cook and even Darwin.  There are also now a fair number of people who can make the claim that they have circumnavigated this globe.  Joyce E. Chaplin presents readers with the first full history on those who have traveled around the world and told their story.

Divided into sections, Chaplin presents the series of historical tales starting with Magellan, giving the ups and downs of the journey.  She points out that it wasn’t until the twentieth century that these round-the-world trips actually returned to their starting point with most of the crew still alive.  All the greats make it into this book, such as Francis Drake, William Dampier, Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, and James Cook.  When sea travel became safer, people like Charles Darwin made the journey, as well as some notable women like Lady Brassey.

With the advent of encompassing railroad travel and exotic cruise ships, round the world journeys became much more achievable and common for a lot of people.  And with the advent of the space race, a new concept of circumnavigating the globe came into play, with an elite few achieving it.  Chaplin has fun exploring these many journeys and why people seem driven to accomplish it.  While her writing can get a little dry and long-winded at points, Round About the Earth still represents an interesting foray into this unique group of travelers.

Originally written on February 11, 2013 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Round About the Earth from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.