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Reviews Written by
A. Wolverton (Crofton, MD United States)

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Nebula Awards 33: The year's best SF and fantasy chosen by the Science-fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
Nebula Awards 33: The year's best SF and fantasy chosen by the Science-fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
by Connie Willis
Edition: Hardcover
20 used & new from CDN$ 14.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Always Entertaining, Often Mind Blowing, Dec 31 2003
It really doesn't matter which volume of the Nebula Awards you pick up, you know that you're going to discover some great SF stories. That is certainly true of NEBULA AWARDS 33. Sure, you might find one or two that you don't care for, but those stories are probably the exception to the rule. Out of the works selected for inclusion in this volume, I found six of them to be outstanding, with a couple of them blowing me away.
The SF stories that I enjoy the most teach me about myself and the world around me. These stories did that and more.
James Patrick Kelly's "Itsy Bitsy Spider" is a touching, thought-provoking look at our relationships with our children and our parents. "The Flowers of Aulit Prison" by Nancy Kress is immediately readable, enjoyable, and yet full of depth. With a title like "Three Hearings on the Existence of Snakes in the Human Bloodstream," you know you're NOT in store for a boring read! A masterful look at the battle between science and religion. Michael Swanwick's "The Dead" is a wonderfully disturbing look at the corporate world. And what can you say about Karen Joy Fowler's "The Elizabeth Complex," except that it's brilliant? (Man, this woman can write!)
To end the volume, Willis hits a home run by picking Grand Master Poul Anderson's "The Martyr," a story that I just can't stop thinking about.
270 pages

John Adams
John Adams
by David McCullough
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 20.25
83 used & new from CDN$ 5.73

5.0 out of 5 stars John Adams � Action Hero!, Dec 30 2003
This review is from: John Adams (Paperback)
John Adams? Action Hero? You bet. If all you remember from history class is "his rotundity," you missed the boat on one of our greatest, most influential presidents.
JOHN ADAMS proves that history doesn't have to be boring. McCullough is a masterful storyteller, dropping us into the action on Page 1 with a scene any expert novelist would envy. Here is Adams, mounted on his horse, about to ride through a harsh winter to an event that would forever change the course of American life and liberty. And it only gets more exciting from there.
Before the publication of this wonderful biography, Adams was largely forgotten in the grand scope of American history. That's all changed. McCullough has shown us that Adams was either present or highly influential at nearly every important event in early American history. Whether we realize it or not, Adams' presence continues to influence our country.

I can't tell you what a great time I had with this book. Every topic covered - Adams and his family, his relationship with Jefferson, his diplomatic career, his views on France and Holland, his early law practice, his presidency, his final days -they're all handled in expert fashion. Not to be missed.

Evening With John Denver
Evening With John Denver
Offered by thebookcommunity_ca
Price: CDN$ 41.47
11 used & new from CDN$ 4.32

5.0 out of 5 stars Far Out? You Bet!, Dec 23 2003
I can think of very, very few performers today who can convey a true love of performing in front of an audience. For those who can't, audiences can see right through it. So many performers today simply go through the motions, and so many audiences put up with it. Anyone who saw John Denver perform live know that he enjoyed giving of himself. I can almost hear Denver saying to himself after the final song, "What? It's over? Where did the time go?"
You'll wonder where the time went after listening to this disc. Every song, from "The Music is You" to the touching "This Old Guitar," come across as a heart-felt treasure. Denver had talent, desire, and showmanship. He can deliver hits ("Annie's Song," "Take Me Home, Country Roads," "Rocky Mountain High"), humor ("Toledo," "Forest Lawn"), and songs of beauty and depth ("The Eagle and the Hawk," "Poems, Prayers and Promises"). After hearing Denver's comments in between numbers, you'll understand why so many people loved him and continue to love his music.
One moment stands out for me and has ever since I first heard the song nearly 30 years ago. You can't miss the pure joy that exudes from Denver in "Thank God I'm a Country Boy." His excitement is addictive and the audience picks up on it immediately. I've never been able to hear the crowd's jubilation at the end of the song without smiling and thinking, "I wish I'd been there." I wasn't, but I'm grateful that RCA was. This is a wonderful concert by wonderful entertainer.

Price: CDN$ 18.00
30 used & new from CDN$ 4.35

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Last Great Chicago Album, Dec 23 2003
This review is from: VII (Audio CD)
I'm probably not alone is saying that the music of Chicago was my first exposure to jazz of any kind. At the time, I didn't know there were jazz elements in the band's music. I just knew that what I was hearing sounded different from all the other stuff I was listening to. And that it was very, very cool.
After buying this CD today and listening to it for the first time in probably 20 years, I was delighted to find it still fresh, alive, and exciting. And it's still cool.
The album opens with "Prelude to Aire," an outstanding combination of Walter Parazaider's wonderful flute playing mixed with some mesmerizing percussion from Danny Seraphine and (then) new member Laudir DeOliveira. The jazz-influenced instrumentals that follow, "Aire" and "Devil's Suite," are so compelling that you don't care that the boys aren't singing. In fact it's not until the sixth song that you hear vocals at all, but when you do, Robert Lamm's voice delivers with a satisfying impact.
The amazing thing about this release is that Chicago was already a well-established group that didn't need to do any experimentation with their music. This is less rock n roll than any of their previous releases and carries very progressive musical ideas. Three singles are included, which today still sound fresh and vibrant: "Wishing You Were Here," "Call On Me," and "I've Been Searchin' So Long." Pop, funk, Latin, and jazz are all represented on the disc and they're all done well. How many groups can do that today? How many would even ATTEMPT to diversify their sound? What a creative project! Give it a listen. You won't be sorry.

Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883
Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883
by Simon Winchester
Edition: Hardcover
60 used & new from CDN$ 2.31

4.0 out of 5 stars Often Fascinating, Sometimes Sluggish, Dec 22 2003
Readers who pick up KRAKATOA will find a great, exciting, well-researched story of the volcano that literally ripped apart a body of land, killed thousands, and possibly created fanatical religious and political turmoil. Sound farfetched? It's not.
Winchester asks some fascinating questions and also speculates on some extraordinary theories. For instance, did all of Earth's continents originally come from one land mass? Can any area of land that undergoes such a catastrophe as Krakatoa did experience regeneration in just a few months? And can the political turmoil of that part of the world during that time REALLY be "blamed" on the eruption of the volcano?
Winchester is a rarity: A scientist who is also a pretty good storyteller. I always appreciate a scientist who can explain any science (geology, in this case) so that the general reader can understand what's going on. Readers who exercise a little patience will find that the science behind Krakatoa's eruption is indeed approachable and interesting.
Several critics have accused Winchester of not writing strictly about the volcano and it's eruption. Many believe that much of the book has nothing to do with Krakatoa itself. I disagree. Everything in the book is about Krakatoa. Winchester is obligated to discuss both what brought about the eruption and the consequences of it. Readers who don't want to read about those aspects of the event are like kids who want to hear about July 4, 1776, but don't care anything about the events leading up to the date or its ramifications.
I will agree that Winchester does sometimes get a little long-winded and sluggish in relating the details of the story. But, I chalk that up to a writer who is truly enthusiastic about his subject. Why can't all writers act like that?

The Dogs of Babel: A Novel
The Dogs of Babel: A Novel
by Carolyn Parkhurst
Edition: Hardcover
92 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Great Idea That Doesn't Quite Deliver, Dec 11 2003
THE DOGS OF BABEL begins with a fascinating premise: a woman died from falling out of an apple tree in her backyard. Was it accident, murder, or suicide? There was only one witness - the family dog.
Linguist Paul Iverson, the husband of the deceased woman, narrates the story, giving his thoughts as to what might have happened. While trying to solve the mystery, Paul also gives us background on how he and the woman met and married, describing their relationship's highs and lows. Then odd things begin to happen to Paul...letters from prison...strange phone calls...
THE DOGS OF BABEL is Carolyn Parkhurst's first novel. I hesitate to be too critical (especially since I'm about to finish my own first novel), but I will say that Parkhurst is an excellent writer. Her descriptions, characters, atmosphere are right on target. For me, the problems are only two: 1 - Parkhurst simply tries to cram too many ideas (although they are great ideas) into one book. There are easily enough ideas here to sustain two books. Confining them to one means that the important elements of the story either don't get the attention they need or they lose significance. 2 - The payoff didn't work for me. It may work for other readers, and it obviously has for some, but I couldn't buy into it. Parkhurst sets up a very difficult premise in the first chapter, one that's tough to deliver upon without descending into absurdity. The solution is not absurd, but it's also not entirely satisfying either, based on the original premise.
THE DOGS OF BABEL is both an entertaining read and a page-turner. Although I wasn't wild about the book, Parkhurst's writing is certainly good enough to make me want to read her next book.

Pops Christmas Party
Pops Christmas Party
Price: CDN$ 12.67
29 used & new from CDN$ 8.61

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Soundtrack for Your Christmas, Dec 11 2003
This review is from: Pops Christmas Party (Audio CD)
POPS CHRISTMAS PARTY, like Santa's bag of goodies, has a little bit of everything. You'll find traditional carols (Joy to the World, Deck the Halls, Silent Night, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, etc.), popular Christmas favorites (Sleigh Ride, Rudolph, Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, White Christmas), and classical Christmas pieces (selections from 'The Nutcracker,' 'Hansel and Gretel,' etc.)
Whether you're listening while writing Christmas cards, trimming the tree, hosting a Christmas party, or any of a hundred holiday activities, POPS CHRISTMAS PARTY is a great way to bring you into the Christmas spirit.

by Nancy Kress
Edition: Hardcover
20 used & new from CDN$ 3.30

5.0 out of 5 stars Another Home Run for Nancy Kress, Dec 5 2003
This review is from: Crossfire (Hardcover)
Nancy Kress has the rare ability to combine interesting characters, moral dilemmas, and approachable concepts of science, fusing them into books that are impossible to put down. CROSSFIRE certainly fits that description.
A large, diverse human colony has settled on a distant planet, only to find that their new world is inhabited. To their relief, leader Jake Holman and his team discover that the aliens are primitive and passive. It also seems that the aliens aren't native to the planet. As he investigates further, Jake uncovers some startling truths about the aliens, the members of his team, and himself. But he has more immediate concerns: trying to stop an interstellar war.
I once heard Orson Scott Card say that good science fiction isn't about the future, it's about the present. In CROSSFIRE, Kress tackles moral issues with an expert hand. This novel is about rights, strained relationships, standing up for truth, sacrifice, redemption, and many more complex issues that we face today. Kress never writes with a heavy hand, but she always gives the reader plenty to think about in the midst of a great tale.
Highly recommended.
364 pages

So Many Books So Little Time
So Many Books So Little Time
by Sara Nelson
Edition: Hardcover
29 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Ah, Someone Who Understands, Nov. 28 2003
Sara Nelson understands. Not many people in my life do, but she does, even though I've never met her. She understands that not only do book fanatics have to have at least one book in their hands at all times, but that it must be the RIGHT book for the right time.
Nelson took on the task of reading one book a week for a year and writing about the experience. She read a little bit of everything: biographies, novels, children's books, classics, and more. The most interesting aspect of SO MANY BOOKS is not the books themselves that Nelson chose, but how she selected them and how they were the right books at the right time.
Have you ever put on a CD only to take it out before the first song was finished, knowing that you weren't in the right mood for that particular music/artist? Or hit STOP on a movie that you rented, knowing that you weren't in the proper frame of mind for it? Sara Nelson understands. She also latches onto books that connect in some way with what she's going through at a particular moment. Her chapter on how A MILLION LITTLE PIECES relates to a fight she had with her husband is revealing and priceless. And what can you learn from a kids book like CHARLOTTE'S WEB that you haven't already learned? Give it to your kid and you'll see.
SO MANY BOOKS, SO LITTLE TIME reminds those of us who hunger and thirst after not only great books, but great books at the right time, that our quest can be frustrating, funny, sad, exhilarating, exciting, and much more. And after reading this book, you'll realize that you're not alone. Sara Nelson understands.
242 pages

Artemis Fowl
Artemis Fowl
by Eoin Colfer
Edition: Paperback
62 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A Nice Blend of the Familiar with the Unusual, Nov. 27 2003
This review is from: Artemis Fowl (Paperback)
Eoin Colfer took something very familiar, gave it a twist, and ran with it. The result is a very original, hard-to-put-down adventure for all ages.
Artemis Fowl is a brilliant, yet criminal 12-year old. He comes from a dysfunctional family, has a loyal servant, and a mind that never relents from his one goal: restoring the family fortune, at the expense of all-out war between the human and fairy worlds.
Kids know all about fairies, trolls, leprechauns, and the like, but nothing they've learned from bedtime stories will prepare them for ARTEMIS FOWL. This book is so unusual, so unpredictable, that explaining the plot would be pointless. In fact, the less you know going into the book, the better. Just jump right in and enjoy...regardless of your age.
280 pages

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