BOOK REVIEWS

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
By JK Rowling
Reviewed by Suze Campagna

This is the long awaited fourth book, in what will be a series of seven. It is much longer than its predecessors, at over 700 pages; one would think it would not be as easy a read as the previous three. But as the other three, Goblet of Fire is enchanted with a charm that won’t let you put it down. This book represents a turning point in the life of Harry Potter and is much darker than the others, but it still has all your favorite characters including Ron, Hermione, Hagrid, Professor Dumbledore, and the rest of the Weasley clan (even Percy), as well as you least favorite characters, Professor Snape, Crabb and Goyle and the dreaded Draco Malfoy. We get to see much more of the Weasley twins, Fred and George, who provide some wonderful comic relief.
The story opens as all the other have, with poor Harry spending the summer with his muggle “family”. He is soon taken in by the Weasley family who has tickets to the Quiddich World Cup, which is being held in England, that year. Then Harry and his friends are off to Hogwarts, where some secret wizard event, that hasn’t been held for over 100 years, is going to happen. Rowling takes you on the usual twists and turns through the year right to the very end, leaving the reader anxiously awaiting the next book.
If you haven’t read the other Harry Potter books, as my father would say, “What are you waiting for, Christmas?” Which is about the time the next exciting adventure is scheduled to be released.

Dusted: the Unauthorized Guide to Buffy the Vampire slayer
By Lawrence Miles, Lars Pearson and Christa Dickson
Reviewed by Suze Campagna

I know what you are thinking, “there are tons of other Buffy guides, out there, some I even own, why do I need this one?” Well, let me tell you about apples and oranges my friend. Each guide book has its own special perspective. Dusted is written for the real die hard fan, who has every seen every episode and can whip off information from the top of their heads. This book has more useless information than you can hold in your brain, from the slayer death count to a “did you know” section for each episode and character observations. The episode descriptions are brief so there is more room for the fun stuff. It contains first and lasts for each episode, demonology, pop culture, and so much more. All seven seasons plus the novelizations and comics are packed into 336 pages.
There are also side boxes with some wonderfully written reviews and information. Most importantly at the end of the book is an episode by episode breakdown of all the songs and artist features in the program. There is very little nitpicking. This is an enjoyable and humorous look at a wonderful series and should be added to the collection of all Buffy fans.

Slayer, The Totally Cool Unofficial Guide to Buffy
By Keith Topping
Reviewed by Fawn Lebowitz

Keith Topping’s new book Slayer, The Totally Cool Unofficial Guide to Buffy>, lives up to its title. For fans of Mr. Topping’s other non- fiction works, this book will not disappoint, as the layout, writing style and spirit are similar. Although his other works have been written from the British Point of view, this is the first to clearly state it. This does not impede on the enjoyment of the book even if you are a Yank. It covers the film, the unaired pilot, the first three seasons and many of the books.
As always, the commentary is both interesting and informative. One of my favorite sections is “Logic Let Me Introduce You to This Window,” which describes the inconsistencies and plot holes. Sometimes it gets a bit too nitpicky and you have to wonder if the canon keepers of Doctor Who fandom have wormed their way into Mr. Topping’s psyche. However, it makes you realize how good Joss is at interpreting the suspension of your reality. Another favorite section is “Denial, Thy Name is Joyce”. This section wonders how Joyce Summers (Buffy’s mom), lived in denial of what was going on around her for so long. Also, with all the great music and unsigned local talent in Buffy, I really appreciate the “Soundtrack” section and found it very helpful.
I’m not too fond of the “Valley Speak” section, as it doesn’t truly reflect those from the ‘nether world known as the 818 area code’. Joss has created his own language, and if I knew any teenagers who spoke like that, I would be impressed. The “Quote/Unquote” section does not do justice to a show that is so eminently quotable; However, in all fairness, you could do an entire book on quotes, or even just print the scripts. I do miss the random informational sections so prominent in the other books.
Though I enjoyed this book very much (and will need an extra copy), I wouldn’t want to watch TV with Mr. Topping, as I get the impression that with his detail-orientedness, he would talk too much, and be asked to leave. It is fun to play “Spot the Gally reference”. (Hint: They tend to appear in the “It’s a Designer Label” section.” Check out page 126.) Overall this is a MUST HAVE for any Buffy fan.

Witchblade: Talons
by John DeChancie
Reviewed by Suze Camapagna

This is the first tie in novel for TNT’s now defunct series based on the comic book, Witchblade. I case you haven’t seen any forms of the media; it is the story of a woman who is chosen as the wearer of an ancient artifact, possibly not of this earth. When the artifact is dormant it appears a normal brochette, with a red stone in the center. When there is danger it “expands into sort of a protective gauntlet/glove covering the bearer’s entire hand.” Each generation a wearer, always female, is chosen. This time, the chosen one is New York Homicide detective Sara Pezzini, who has no idea how the thing works, but it has saved her life more than once.
Now keep in mind that I have never read the comic book, which I’m told (by John DeChancie) is the basis for the book, and I only saw the pilot film, which wasn’t enough to get to get me to watch the series. So why did I read the book? It was given to me by the author (and friend) who I know to be very intelligent and have an interesting sense of humor. He is best known for his fantasy Castle series of novels. (The Castle Perilous etc.
I approached this book, not as a TV tie in, but as a story with characters I didn’t already know, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It had a little bit of everything: mystery, murder, organized crime, computer hacking, horror and of course, fantasy.
The story begins simply enough-Detective Pezzini is chasing an informant, who may have information on a murder she is trying to solve. In the course of the investigation, she runs into the Russian mob, a nasty assistant district attorney determined to bring her down, a sort of techno mage, a very big bird who seems to be after her, a not so nice werewolf type monster and a dragon. All this makes for a story that will grab your attention and keep you reading form start to finish. It sounds like a lot, and though it is not written at the fifth grade level (As with many TV Tie novels), it is still easy enough to follow. Though there is a lot of seriousness to the subject matter, DeChancie’s humor shows through.
So even if you have never seen the series or read the comic book, this novel may very well have something for you. Through many of DeChancie’s books are out of print, they can be found at used bookstores and I plan to seek them out.

Thor
by Wayne Smith
Reviewed by Suze Campagna

Often times, families consider their dogs and cats as part of the family unit. Ever imagine the dog’s views on this? In his book Thor, Wayne Smith shows us just that, in a truly believable way.
This book is told mainly from the point of view of Thor, a family’s German Shepard. Thor sees himself as the protective member of “The pack.” Dad is the pack leader and Mom and Dad are the pack breeders. The other members of the pack are three children and a cat, bit Thor outranks them. Through his eyes we understand things the way a dog would. He can only comprehend certain words and relies on tone of voice to know what’s going on. Like many dogs, he has a sort of sixth sense. He knows things, like when Dad is coming home and senses danger where no one else can.
All is right in Thor’s world, until one day Mom’s brother, Ted comes to live with the pack. Thor can sense a “bad thing” in Ted, but he can’t tell what it is. Even more frustrating is that he can’t communicate the danger to the family.
Even if you are not a dog person, this is a great book for animal lovers of all kinds. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry but most of all, you will have a great adventure. I found this book in the juvenile section of a used bookstore, but it is enjoyable for all ages.

Why Wait?
Ender’s Game
By Orson Scott Card
Reviewed by Suze Campagna

A few years ago, Orson Scott card was Guest of Honor at Los Con.
I didn’t read it.
A few years ago, Ender’s Game was on SciFi Magazine’s top 100 of the best science fiction of all times. (Which include all medium).
I still didn’t read it.
Two month’s ago, I pulled the book off my shelf and read it. And now I wonder, WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG?

In a future earth, we have been though a war with and alien species commonly know as “Buggers”. I was just a stroke of luck that we won, but the Bugger’s are expected to return, and this time we want to be prepared. One of the ways to prepare is training young children to be part of the military. That’s what they would like you to think anyway.

Ender Wiggin is 6 years old when he is chosen for the elite military battle school. He’s smart and resourceful and the leaders think he might be the one to lead the earth to victory against the Buggers.

The story takes us through Battle school with Ender. Card really gets into the mind of the child and his motivation, emotions, and relationships with the other characters. The plot moves along quickly with clever plot twists and interesting insights.

It was completely enthralling and was one of those books that was nearly impossible to put down. Once it was over, I really missed Ender, and immediately sought out next books, which Card describes as not true sequels.

I waited way to long to read this, If you haven’t read is, don’t wait any longer.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
By JK Rowling
Review by Suze Campagna

After two long years of waiting we finally get the sixth installment of Rowling magical septology. And like its predecessors, this book it also enchanted with dust that will not let you put it down. You may attempted to stretch it out so you can spend more time with Harry, Ron, Hermione, Hagrid, Dumbledore, Ginny, Neville and everyone else, but it just doesn’t work. (But just in case you managed to break the spell, there will be no spoilers here.)

We last left Harry dealing with the loss of his Godfather and dealing with the prophesy that involved him and He Who Must Not Be Named. The book doesn’t, begin as the other have. (With Harry suffering through another summer with the Dursleys.) In fact, we don’t meet Harry until chapter three. But after that there are the usual things we have come to except, Harry is found at the Dursleys waiting for Dumbledore, the annual trip to Diagon alley (This time with a fun visit to the Weasley twins joke shop), quittich, Hogsmead, and all the typical teenage problems. Of course there is now the pending doom cause by the return of You Know Who, and Harry is seeking out Death Eaters who he believes may be present at the school, despite the charms and safety measures but in by Dumbledore. And Harry has special lessons with Dumbledore.

Sometimes it seems like nothing is happening, but when you look back, you’ve read 100 pages, and still feel satisfied. And all the set up, lead to an ending that will leave you in shock.

If you haven’t been following the adventure of Harry and Friends, or have short term memory loss, the book is written so that you can still enjoy it, and enjoy it you will.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
By JK Rowling
Reviewed by Suze Campagna

It’s been two years since fans left Harry and company with the knowledge of the Dark Lord Voldemort’s return to full power. Was it worth the wait? Of course! The Order of the Phoenix is as enchanting and enchanted as the previous four books in the Harry Potter series.

As with the pervious stories, it opens with Harry having an awful summer with his Muggle relative, the Durselys. To make matters worse he has heard no news from his friends and has no idea what is going on in the wizard world. It isn’t long before he learns that something is up, when her and his cousin, Dudley, are attacked by Dementors in an alley. He uses hi wand to save himself and his cousin, but shortly after get gets a message from the Ministry of Magic that he will be expelled from Hogwarts for using magic outside of school. It is then that he is whisked off to the secret headquarters of The Order of The Phoenix and learns that not only does the ministry not believe his story of the return of the Dark Lord, but his name has been slandered on the pages of the wizard newspaper, The Daily Prophet. The Order of the Phoenix was formed by a group of wizards and witches who believe Harry’s story and are working to fight Voldemortt, but they have found themselves working against Fudge and The Ministry of Magic.

After a narrow escape, Harry does return to Hogwarts and faces trouble after trouble. Just when it seems things couldn’t get worse for Harry, they do. He does have a couple narrow escapes but for the most part, Harry’s fifth year seems to be the worst, right up to the end of the 870 pages.

But, the book has an enchanting spell on it, which only allows you to put it down when absolutely necessary. Or maybe it’s just a good read. Either way once you open the pages, it is difficult to stop reading. It’s frustrating to see Harry and his friend going through so much and you read on in hopes that the ministry will open their blind eyes. In the end the reader is left in the same sort of suspense as the last book; and hopes that it won’t be another two year wait.

This book isn’t as dark as it could have been and George and Fred Wesley’s antics keep a bit of humor. The next one looks darker, but at lest it seems Harry will have more allies.

If you haven’t jumped on the Harry Potter bandwagon yet, you should probably start from the beginning, with any luck, by the time you get through The Order of the Phoenix, the next book will be out. But don’t get your hopes up, and you should expect nay sleepless nights following the adventures of Harry, Hermione, Ron and all their comrades; as well as their enemies

The Book of Fours
by Nancy Holder
Reviewed by Suze Campagna

Sometimes the biggest problem with TV tie in novels is that the authors can’t seem to get the characters right. The character do and say thisng that you ,as a viewer, know they would never do or say. As the or co-writer of many official Buffy books, this is not a problem for Nancy Holder. Though sometimes the wittienss is a bit off, it is there and makes you belive that Buffy, Xander and the rest of the Scooby gang are the characters you have come to know and love.

The book takes place sometime during the third season as evident by the presence of Faith, Oz and Angel and the lack of Spike. The story is, as with most Buffy stories, about the life of Buffy Summers and the prevention of an apocalypse. This book could have taken place though the course of a season, but the story actually takes place in three days. It works really well in the Buffy universe, complete with a big bad, known as the Gatherer .

The biggest difficulty is keeping track of where in the universe you are. It goes back and forth from past to present, wanders all around Sunnydale, San Diego, San Francisco, London, Jamaica, the Deep South and the Ghost Roads, which are on an entirely different plain. Several characters are introduced, including the slayer Buffy replace, India Cohen, and her Watcher Kit Bothwell as well as Kendra’s watcher, Roger and a slayer from the time of the Civil War named Lucy.

The basic premise of the story goes back to the beginning of earth when the Gatherer, a black pool, gathers all that is evil. From it, four axes came, one for earth, one for fire, one for air and one for water. As it turns out, each slayer that has existed represents one of the four elements and the ax can onlt be used to kill the slayer of its own element. When that happens the slayer’s essesance of the slayer is absorbed by the Gatherer, making it stronger. The more slayers who exist at one time, the more powerful the Gatherer gains to become solid and rule the earth, but it can also be defeated if Slayers of the four element come together. Are you confused yet? By the end of the book, everything comes together and makes sense.

It’s not a light read, but it is nice to see Oz again.

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