Category Archives: 2016 Book Reviews

Book Review 99: Trader by Charles de Lint

Sometimes the best books are not the ones you get the most amazing reading experience from.  But, the ones that touch you at the right time or season in your life. Trader by Charles de Lint fits that description.

“I’ll tell you about art. Do the best job you possibly can. Have something to say. And stop equating it only with what you find in libraries, galleries, and foreign film festivals.”

Words of wisdom from a conversation near the end of the novel where one of the minor characters, Tanya, is getting advice on pursuing a career as an actress.  Also, the quote sums up how one should view art and having it revealed through a character is the best way to bring home a truth.

Truth. Identity.  Those are the main themes in Trader.  Max Trader is a luthier, maker of guitars and has created a comfortable life for himself in the fictional city of Newford.  (De Lint has written a series of novels based in Newford and all are worth checking out.) Johnny Devlin is a ne’er-do-well living on the edge in the city.   Somehow, both men’s identities get switched and they live life in each other’s bodies.  Johnny assumes Max’s life without no trouble. While, Max becomes homeless, poor, friendless, and has to pick up the pieces from his new identity.

De Lint does an excellent job in using both first person (for Max) and third person (for Johnny and the other characters) to create a sense of how switching identities would effect both men and the people in their circle of friends.  Also, there is several subplots with some of the Newford characters that have appeared various books and a mother and daughter who have lost connection with one another.  All the characters were engaging, believable and kept me turning the pages.

I have to admit that I was a little disappointed in how De Lint resolved the switching identities of both men as they entered the spirit world based on a combination of Celtic and Native American mythology. I had a different expectation on how that issue would be resolved and De Lint took it in a different direction.  Beside that issue, I enjoyed Trader and it brought me back to when I read a lot of De Lint novels in the mid 1990s as a bookseller.  It had been a long time since I’ve read a De Lint novel, and it did not disappoint me all these years later. Trader is one of my favorite reads of 2016 and I recommended it for fans of contemporary and urban fantasies.

Book Review 97: Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay

Ned Marriner, the fifteen-year old protagonist in Guy Gavriel Kay’s tenth novel, Ysabel  uncovers a startling discovery in an Aix-en-Provence cathedral.  He is in the Southern France city with his father, a famed photographer who is shooting photos around the city for a new book.  Upon his discovery, Ned gets drawn into an intertwining of… Continue Reading

Book Review 96: A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami

I read my first Murakami novel, Dance Dance Dance, earlier this year.  I learned from that book why Murakami has become an international favorite for many literary fiction readers.  I decided I wanted to read another Murakami novel before the year ended.  I chose A Wild Sheep Chase, the precursor to the aforementioned Dance Dance… Continue Reading

Book Review 95: The Successful Author Mindset by Joanna Penn

Digital Publishing has spawned the rise of the indie author movement over the past several years.  As a result, there is a lot of books these days about how to become a successful indie author and how to make a living with your writing. However, there are only a few of those books dealing with… Continue Reading

Book Review 94: Deep Work by Cal Newport

“Great creative minds think like artists but work like accountants.” (David Brooks) “When you work, work hard. When you’re done, be done.” Those two quotes from Deep Work by Cal Newport summarizes my feelings toward this excellent book. Newport introduces deep work as to counteract the distracted world we live with in the social media… Continue Reading

Book Review 92: Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler

There has not been a novel that caused such discomfort, challenge my assumptions, or made me defensive while reading like Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler. It is the sequel to Parable of the Sower and continues Lauren Olamina’s quest to create a new religion, Earthseed, in a believable and frightening post-apocalyptic America reminiscent… Continue Reading

Book Review 91: Masterminds by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Masterminds is the eighth and final book of the Anniversary Day Saga in the Retrieval Artist Series by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. All the threads of the previous seven books in the saga finally comes together as we find out who is the mastermind behind the Anniversary Day Bombings on the Moon’s colony of Armstrong. You… Continue Reading

Book Review 90: Starbase Human by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Can an old and dilapidated starbase be the key to solving the Moon’s Anniversary Day Bombings and it’s survival? Starbase Human, the seventh book in the Anniversary Day Saga of the Retrieval Artist Series, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch attempted to answer that question. Long ago, this starbase became a clone-testing ground intent on destroying humanity… Continue Reading