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The Didymus Contingency
The Didymus Contingency
by Jeremy Robinson
Edition: Paperback
28 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars The Didymus Contingency is a unique and entertaing thriller, June 16 2006
'd heard a lot about "The Didymus Contingency," and being acquainted with Mr. Robinson through our mutual relationship with Lulu Press, I've been watching his book's success for a while now. I finally got around to reading his book, and I'm very glad I did.

"The Didymus Contingency" is a time-travel adventure first and foremost. While it is a Christian thriller as well, it should be highly entertaining to anyone except those who are blatantly turned off by the ideals of Christianity, as the book's plot does center around these concepts and beliefs.

But the story isn't preachy, and it gives both the perspectives of both a true believer, and a non-believer as well. The science aspects are well developed, though not the primary focus, and the overall plot is very good. There were times when I found myself wanting David and Tom to be a bit more serious about the dangerous and frightening situations they found themselves in, but admittedly, the interaction between these two characters, during both good and bad times, is what really drives the story.

Mr. Robinson also did an excellent job of bringing Jesus and his disciples to life, depicting them as not overly dramatic Shakespearian actors, but as real, living beings. And yet throughout the author makes it clear that Jesus is no less divine because of his physical humanity.

"The Didymus Contingency" is uniquely told Christian thriller, and there seemed to be the hint that more of these adventures are yet to come. And I for one can't wait to read them.

- Gregory Bernard Banks[...]

A Civil Campaign
A Civil Campaign
by Lois McMaster Bujold
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.69
56 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Going on "A Civil Campaign", July 12 2004
For fans of Ms. Bujold in general, and her highly popular character Miles Vorkosigan in particular, this book takes her writing to a new level as we go on a highly entertaining adventure, following Miles Vorkosigan as he wages war against an enemy unlike any he's ever faced before--Love.
For those unfamiliar with this series, "A Civil Campaign" is set on the planet Barrayar, a conservative, militaristic society with a turbulent past. It's slowly being transformed into a modern, liberal society, much of which is caused by Miles' mother, Cordelia Naismith, who comes from the highly liberal society of Beta Colony. The relationship that formed over thirty years ago between her and Miles' father, Aral Vorkosigan, the legendary war hero often referred to as "the Butcher of Komarr," resulted in an upheaval that over the years has opened Barrayar's once closed society, a transformation whose growing pains still show today.
Miles Vorkosigan is a member of the powerful Vorkosigan family. He's a living example of Barrayar's violent history, having been poisoned while still in his mother's womb. The attack resulted in Miles being being born with many handicaps, including dwarfism and extremely brittle bones. Driven by the desire to live up to his father and grandfather's military legacy, Miles managed to over-achieve, using a combination of strategic brilliance, indomitable spirit, and more than a little luck to carve out his own legacy as a member of the Barrayan secret service.
After an incredible galactic military career, Miles is discharged, having survived death itself, but resulting in crippling seizures, a result of being frozen and later revived. He then finds himself grounded on Barrayar, but still highly involved in the inner intrigues of the government, serving as a Lord Auditor, one of the legal justices of the Emperor.
After his first task as Lord Auditor in the book Komarr, where he meets Ekaterin. Miles later returns home, and in A Civil Campaign, launches his greatest strategic assault ever, to win the love of the recently widowed Ekaterin, who's currently struggling to find her own identity after years with a domineering husband. Of course, nothing ever comes easy for Miles. In the course of trying to win Ekaterin's heart, they both become embroiled in political intrigue and a wild business venture by Miles' clone brother Mark, who's also pursuing a lady love of his own.
This book has romance, politics, humor, and above all, characters that you'll fall in love with in just a few pages. The book stands well on it's own, but if you ever pick this one up, you'll find yourself in the bookstore looking for the rest of the series. I'm a long time reader of SF, and this is one of the most creative and fun series I've ever read.
Give A Civil Campaign a try!

The Fantasies of Robert A. Heinlein
The Fantasies of Robert A. Heinlein
by Robert A. Heinlein
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.39
16 used & new from CDN$ 0.47

5.0 out of 5 stars Heinlein, a Master of Fantasy, July 12 2004
Robert A. Heinlein is considered one of the greatest, most influential writers of all time in the genre of Science Fiction. He was a master of weaving fantastical tales of wonder and depth that often left the reader reflecting upon its social relevance to society as a whole. He had the ability to blend elements of both Science Fiction and Fantasy to create imaginative new worlds that were drastically different, yet strikingly similar to our own world. Though Heinlein was chiefly known as a writer of SF, he was also quite an accomplished fantasist.
"The Fantasies of Robert A. Heinlein" is a collection of eight of his best fantasy stories and novellas. In this book, the author of such books as "Stranger In A Strange Land," "Starship Troopers," and my favorite, "Have Space Suit, Will Travel," fully displays his unique ability to write about the mundane, ordinary people like ourselves and bring them to life in vivid, tales of fantasy and the supernatural.
The stories of this collection cover a broad range of themes, from the tongue in cheek portrayal of an average businessman dealing with demon troubles in "Magic, Inc." to the eerie tale of a man believing that the whole world is plotting against him in "They--" to the provocative and touching story of an old man rediscovering love in "The Man Who Traveled In Elephants." Heinlein's style is distinctive, straightforward, and strong. He easily achieves what so many of would-be writer's like myself yearn to, which is to paint pictures with our words. Once you've read this book, you'll understand why "The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction" says that Heinlein "...rewrote US SF in his own image..."
If you're specifically a Heinlein fan, a lover of Science Fiction and Fantasy in general, a writer aspiring to write in this field or merely a reading enthusiast (personally, I qualify for all of the above), this book is a wonderful addition to your library.

The Toughest Indian in the World
The Toughest Indian in the World
by Sherman Alexie
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.00
70 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Meeting "The Toughest Indian in the World", July 12 2004
I'd been hearing a lot about Sherman Alexie prior to reading this. His work has been talked about frequently, and The New Yorker has selected him as one of the best American fiction writers under 40. As an aspiring writer myself, I decided to pick up one of his books to judge for myself. And I'm glad I did.
In Alexie's collection of short stories, The Toughest Indian in the World, he takes a look at the world from the perspectives of various Native American characters from all walks of life. From Assimilation, the story of an interracial couple, an Indian woman and a white man, trying to wade through societal pressures and cultural differences to rediscover their love for one another, to Dear John Wayne, the amusing and touching story of an elderly Native American woman recounting her alleged, brief love affair with the "real" John Wayne, these stories are about everyday people trying to find their place in this multicultural, yet divided world.
If you have fragile sensibilities, you may find this book a bit overwhelming at times. Many of the stories in this collection deal with controversial subjects such as race and sexuality with a bluntness that can be surprising to say the least. Mr. Alexie writes about these things with such frankness, never treating them with any hint of the shame or stigma often attached to them, that the reader is given the opportunity to explore them from a perspective he or she may not have considered before. Alexie treats them naturally, as normal aspects of our daily lives. And this is how it should be.
I noticed a surrealistic, sometimes tongue-in-cheek quality to Alexie's work. Some stories will leave you with a gentle smile, while others will linger in your mind long after, perhaps causing you to look at the world around you differently. Some of my favorite stories are South By Southwest, which takes us on an odyssey with Seymour, a disillusioned, heterosexual white man desperately searching for excitement and love. In his quest to find them, he holds up a House of Pancakes, demanding one dollar from each of its patrons and a traveling companion who could possibly fall in love with him. Surprisingly, he leaves the restaurant with forty-two dollars and a fat Native American man he dubs "Salmon Boy." The two travel from Spokane, Washington to the state of Arizona on a "non-violent killing spree," all the while exploring the possibility of finding true love with one another.
The very next story, The Sin Eaters, is the powerful story of an Indian boy snatched from his parents by an invading troop of soldiers, and along with hundreds, maybe even thousands, of others, is taken to a secret government facility to be used for experiments that neither the child, or the reader, ever fully understands. But the underlying emotions of despair, confusion, and the overall sense of violation and outrage at the mistreatment of a proud race of people, ring crystal clear.
Finally, perhaps my favorite is One Good Man, about a teacher who returns to the reservation in which he grew up to care for his father, who is dying of cancer. The love between these two is strong, and Alexie paints a beautiful portrait of a man struggling to cope with the impending loss of his father, while trying to understand his role in the world, often posing the question, "What is an Indian?" to himself throughout the piece. This story's poignancy will likely leave you with a smile on your face and tear in your eye. There are nine stories in all in this collection, and every one is a definite must read.
The Toughest Indian in the World is a broad, blunt, yet touching journey into the frustrating yet glorious things that make us human. Sherman Alexie's previous collection, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (which was the basis for his award-winning screenplay for the film, Smoke Signals), won him much acclaim and millions of fans around the world.
And now that I've read, The Toughest Indian in the World, he has one more.

Castle in the Sky (Bilingual)
Castle in the Sky (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Anna Paquin
Offered by info50725
Price: CDN$ 32.00
20 used & new from CDN$ 11.83

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Castle in the Sky...., July 12 2004
Is it just me, or do those very words, without even knowing what they refer to, contain a whimsical, imagination-inspiring power to them?
"Castle in the Sky" is by Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, who I've come to believe is one of the most masterful storytellers alive today, and maybe of all time. It begins with a young girl, Sheeta, drifting down from the sky into the arms of a young miner named Pazu. From there begins an incredible adventure as these two search for answers to the girl's origins while running from both air pirates as well as mysterious agents. I don't intend to reveal much of the plot here, but suffice it to say, this movie reignited the feelings I used to have as a child when watching such classics as "The Wizard of Oz" and the "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" (which I also just recently purchased on DVD.
The movie was created several years ago, but was recently brought to America, with a wonderful redubbing into English, thanks to Disney Studios. If you're looking for visuals like the mind-blowing, computer simulations in recent Disney hits such as "Finding Nemo", this isn't it. However, if you're a fan of traditional cel animation, this film may be one of the best ever produced. Miyazaki's attention to detail, his ability to bring these two dimensional characters to life, is awe-inspiring.
For me, the greatest thing about this movie is that it's reminded me of the kind of fictional magic I hope to create myself one day, and makes me wonder if it's too late in my life for me to become an animator. The bad thing about seeing a movie like this, is that I know that I could never produce anything nearly as beautiful.
Fortunately for me, if I ever get the opportunity, I'm just stubborn, determined, and delusional enough to give it a shot anyway.

Grave of the Fireflies (Collector's Series)
Grave of the Fireflies (Collector's Series)
DVD ~ Tsutomu Tatsumi
Offered by OMydeals
Price: CDN$ 98.75
15 used & new from CDN$ 20.95

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grave of the Fireflies. A masterpiece of the creative form, July 12 2004
Ever since I became a writer somewhere around 1996 or 1997, I've had an intense fascination and desire to create things that touch readers, whether through saddness, fear, or happiness, because I think that when a piece, either written or on screen, touches you emotionally, it leaves a lasting impact on you that can lead to a better understanding of the world around you, and even possibly yourself as well. I think that as a creator, this is the greatest achievement one can reach, and I have the utmost respect and admiration for anyone who accomplishes this very thing which I so eagerly wish to achieve.
"Grave of the Fireflies" is the sad tale, based on the semi-autographical book "Hotaru no Haka" by NOSAKA Akiyuki, which tells of the author's experiences during the aftermath of World War II, in which he lost his little sister to malnutrition, for which he blamed himself.
In "Grave of the Fireflies," 14 year old Seita and his 4 year old sister Setsuko lose their mother after the Allied forces bomb their village. Their father is in the Navy and at sea, and hasn't been heard from in a long while. Without going through the entire plot, suffice it to say that the story is a moving and frightening look back at the lives of two young children who should never have to face such horrors at their tender ages. The tone and mood of this heartwrenching piece is set from the very first scene, when Seita utters the fateful words "September 21st, 1945. That's the day that I died."
Before watching "Grave of the Fireflies" I'd heard that it'd been referred to by many, like movie reviewer Roger Ebert, as one of the greatest war films made, and after watching it, I have to agree. Only a person with the emotional depth of a gnat or the heart of block of wood could watch this film and not feel the emotional power of it. It's the kind of story that lingers in your consciousness long after, and forces you to see the true face of war, the REAL consequences and victims of the violence we seem all too quick to inflict upon each other these days. And the most incredible thing about this movie is its subtleness, its complete lack of political propaganda or any attempt to try to blantantly force a moralistic ideal down the viewers throat. Director Isao Takahata shows supreme trust in the story itself, choosing to use the beautifully illustrated film to portray the tale in all its moving glory.
In Japan this movie was shown in schools as an educational piece. I don't know if this has been done in America, but I think that it should. We need to learn to understand the entire spectrum of war, and on an even more basic level, we just need to teach our children the lessons of empathy and compassion so that when they find themselves in positions in which their decisions impact others, they'll take care to consider the consequences before making those decisions. I also think that every world leader should be forced to sit down and watch this film over and over until its message is ingrained into the nooks and crannies of their brains, because it often seems that compassion and empathy are qualities sadly lacking these days.

Confessions Of Max Tivoli
Confessions Of Max Tivoli
by Andrew S Greer
Edition: Hardcover
44 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars My Confessions About Max Tivoli, June 30 2004
The Confessions of Max Tivoli, by Andrew Sean Greer, is a book I first heard about one morning on The Today Show. After hearing the intriguing premise of the story, about a man who internally ages like the rest of us while his body does the exact opposite, I just had to read it right away. I had no idea the kind of impact the book would have on me, however.
Max, born an infant-sized old man at birth, and growing bigger, but younger, physically as he ages, is an outsider, a misfit, a freak who finds himself never really fitting in. Encouraged at a young age to be who others perceive him to be, he spends most of his life living a lie. I've never had to live a lie, but I know what it's like to be and feel different, having to accept the realization that this state will never change. Max, despite his flaws, is a good man desperately trying to carve out a good life for himself as he spends most of it pining over his one true love, Alice.
The story takes place in the late 1800's and early 1900s in the city of San Francisco. Greer does a tremendous job of dropping us into this world from page one and weaves a poetic tale of life, love, and loss that somehow manages blend humor, sadness, and enchantment in a way that will make you never want to put the book down once you pick it up. You'll find yourself loving Max, sympathizing for him, even rooting for him when he finally gets the chance to win over his beloved Alice. And yet, despite the overall tale being a sad and tragic one, you'll never find yourself pitying or hating Max for some of the harsh choices he makes along the way. In fact, if you're anything like me, at times you'll find yourself identifying with this character all too well.
And that's truly what great fiction is all about, isn't it?

Dancing Barefoot
Dancing Barefoot
by Wil Wheaton
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 11.51
44 used & new from CDN$ 4.37

5.0 out of 5 stars "Dancing Barefoot" is a short but sweet read, June 6 2004
This review is from: Dancing Barefoot (Paperback)
I still remember Wil Wheaton from his days on Star Trek: The Next Generation (something I'm sure he's only heard a zillion times). You hear such horror stories about child stars who grew up in the spotlight and how it ruined their lives. Wil's book, Dancing Barefoot, is not only a glimpse into some of the turmoils that he's gone through, but also an uplifting book in that we see how he came out on the other side, healthy, happy, and a much better person for it. His writing is engaging, his sense of humor is sharp, and his honesty about himself and the personal growth he's gone through is refreshing.
As a precursor to the upcoming book, Just A Geek (from which the five stories in Dancing Barefoot were cut from due to length), reading this book has left me more anxious to read the next all the more.
- The WheelMan

Dark Corner
Dark Corner
by Brandon Massey
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.00
24 used & new from CDN$ 2.76

5.0 out of 5 stars Visit to a "Dark Corner" of Mississippi..., April 30 2004
This review is from: Dark Corner (Paperback)
The book is a vampire novel that takes place in Mason's Corner, Mississippi, a small town built around the old Mason Plantation. The story centers around David Hunter, the son of famed author Richard Hunter, from whom David was estranged from birth all the way up to his mysterious death at sea. David comes to Mason's Corner, also known by some as "Dark Corner", to live in the home his father left for him in an attempt to learn more about just who his father truly was.
Meanwhile, a vampire named Kyle Coiraut comes to Dark Corner, also to find the fearsome warrior father Diallo, whom he'd previously thought was dead. As the story unfolds, we discover that David's family has an unfinished destiny that's leading him on a collision course with Kyle and Diallo, and the town of Mason's Corner will be the battle ground.
I won't go into further details because with a great horror novel, the twists and turns of plot are integral to the enjoyment. But suffice it to say, the book pays off on a number of levels, and has several layers of complexity going on that Massey handles with great skill. As a writer myself, one thing I really appreciate is something fresh, something that's puts a whole new spin on my view of things. In Dark Corner, Brandon Massey somehow takes elements of classic vampire tales and explores them in exciting new ways.
Not only do I look forward to seeing what Massey has in store next, but I'm also hoping he will explore these charcters further. There's plenty of groundwork laid for compelling looks into the past and the future of these characters, and if he chooses to pursue them, I'll be first in line to purchase them.
You should be too.

Collected Stories of Carson McCullers
Collected Stories of Carson McCullers
by Carson McCullers
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.12
45 used & new from CDN$ 1.10

4.0 out of 5 stars A master of characterization and setting, Feb. 17 2004
What strikes me most about McCullers is the simple yet rich complexity of her characters. While some of the earlier stories in this book felt too incomplete for me, as if they were more vignettes than stories, the tales grew stronger as I read on. The Haunted Boy is my favorite because it resonates with a sad truthfulness as a boy struggles to cope with a tragic event from the past which he's yet to deal with emotionally.
I think any true fan of literary storytelling will admit that, though perhaps not always perfect, Carson McCullers' writing as a whole is a sample of this genre at its best.

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