Chimera Review of Anubis Gates by Tim Powers

We rate books based on if we would recommend them, as related to the theme, and how much we enjoyed them based on the following criteria:
Ease of read, plot, writing, and resolution.

We learned something interesting with this book. This was one of the original set of book that were first dubbed “Steampunk”. The term  originated in the late 1980s as a tongue-in-cheek variant of cyberpunk. It was coined by K. W. Jeter, a science fiction author himself, looking for a way to describe works by Tim Powers (The Anubis Gates, 1983), James Blaylock (Homunculus, 1986), and himself (Morlock Night, 1979, and Infernal Devices, 1987) All of these books are set in a 19th-century ( and usually Victorian) and had similar conventions like H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine. 

This book was time travel and the steampunk was secondary really, overall we enjoyed it. It’s nice to dip into classics and the mystery in the narrative along with the call back to other pieces to literature was great.

Leave a comment about how you enjoyed the book, and why you rated the book the way you did. How did this book make you feel?

Worst Book You Ever Read

What are some books you just couldn’t get through or are upset that you read?

When I was in high school I used to not read the books that were assigned unless they caught my attention within the first 20 pages. I used to only give a book 20 pages to hook me. To be honest I give songs even less time, they only get 20 seconds. Art and other visuals get 30 seconds. But books got more time. Time for an author to tell me where we were going and why I might want to go there.

Because of this there were many books I did not read in high school because they did not speak to me . There were so many other books to read! I had discovered Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou. I was falling in love with David Sedaris and of course I was being sucked into the world of Harry Potter. So I did not want to “waste” time on books that I did not think would enthrall me or characters I could not care about.

This is how I missed reading many American Classics.

They all seemed to be about a set of people who didn’t know how good they had it and could do nothing but complain. My very least favourite book was “The Great Gatsby”. This was the first time I was presented with a book where there were NO characters I could relate to or even liked. It was then I learned that to enjoy a book I had to have at least one of these things (besides a good plot, world building, or theme).

What is your least favorite book? I’m not talking about books that are just badly written, or books that are in bad taste (though those are good reasons to not like books) but what is a book that you just plain didn’t like an why?

First Book

Discussion post

What is the first book you remember reading all by yourself? Leave a comment and a link to the book. For me it was Corduroy by Don Freeman. I used to pretend to read it before I knew what words were because I knew when to turn the page, based on how my dad used to read it to me and memorizing the words. My aunt thought I was a genius 3 year old. It is still one of my favorite books!

Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings

High Fantasy is what first captured my love of reading. Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings is a classic story that perfectly edifies one of my favorite genres. My book club is currently reading books that were published before 1990. I initially chose this tome because it tells the story of a young man coming of age. It also had three other things that make for intriguing reading: magic, gods and espionage.

World building is one of the reasons I love High Fantasy and Pawn of Prophecy (PoP) does this very well. The story starts by explaining the ancient legend and how it colors cultures of the land. This story has all the mixing to make an epic story. Future kings who are unaware of their destiny, sorcerers, angry gods, and a quest for a lost relic that needs to be found before the bad guys get it.

The characters are mostly well rounded, with a strong female character Aunt Pol who stole the show. While this book is a set up for the rest of the Belgariad Series, in this first book we get enough background of the characters to connect. Think Harry Potter year 1-5, as our young man Garion learns the truth about his background and slowly (painfully slowly in some sections) comes to grips with destiny.

Overall I give this book a 4/5. It hits all the fine points of the genre, however it has the often found problem of a rushed ending. As I stated this is a setup for the rest of the series and it has that first book syndrome: a light resolution but a cliffhanger for the major open questions. Still the characters, world and quest are interesting enough that you are compelled to go on the next book. Have you read this series? What did you think?

The Rook by Danielle O’Malley

First installment in a thrilling supernatural Procedural series

Ever wonder what it would be like to be a Auror after graduating from Hogwarts? Or what exactly one does after  leaving Charles Xaiver’s School for Gifted children? The book, “The Rook” by Australian author Daniel O’Malley gives you a purview of what life is like for a person with special powers who decides to work for the government. Now while at first glance this might not sound that exciting to anyone who’s not Hermonie Granger, add to it a bought of amnesia, some espionage and an organization ranked like a chess board, all set in  backdrop of England and you have a spy mystery that’s a must read.

This book starts with one of the best opening lines I have read in awhile “Dear You, The body you are wearing used to be mine”. We meet Myfanwy (with a silent w) Thomas, but is it the real Myfanwy? We spend the rest of the book trying to figure it out the mystery of what happened to her along with the threat to the organization she works for, the Chequy. This is a secret group that works to fight the supernatural and unnatural forces that cause threats to the United Kingdom.

The organization is ranked by the pieces of a chess board with the higher ranking members represented by pieces such as the King, Queen, Bishops, and Chevaliers.  Myfanwy due to her super powers is a Rook and is a field agent. Through her “new” body she has gained a new sense of self and this allows her a new confidence. This helps her discover that the Grafters group are hatching a secret plot against her organization and the book takes us on an interesting ride to help solve the mystery.

Along the way O’Malley does an excellent job of world building. The author shares so much information, from the history for the countries the governments and the organizations, to the background of the main characters. Still, the author makes it information and out protagonist and witty and very engaging. This book is not for the faint of heart or stomach. It’s got a bit of gore, creepy crawlers and monsters, it is a super natural book after all. However, at its heart is a book about a young woman who is dealing with her past, as she tries to remember it, as well as a good old fashion mystery novel.

The character development is some of the best for a first time writer. Kudos to O’Mally for writing a full story for the first part of a trilogy and not just part of the story. The characters that fill the Chequy are vibrant and interesting. With just enough mystery to make you wish you could hear the story from their perspectives too! The book is well paced, the story is fully engaging and the story is not overly predictable.

The series is currently being translated to a supernatural spy thriller for Starz, starring Jon Fletcher, Joshua Squire, Emma Greenwell and Olivia Munn. The series will debut this summer on Starz , the premiere date has yet to be announced.

This book is available on Kindle and Audible as well as paperback and hardcover. The audible was performed by Susan Duerden, her accents were perfect and spot on. This was helpful with some of the spellings and pronunciations. Over all we give this book 5/5, it hit all the notes. Have you read The Rook? We’d love to hear your thoughts!