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review 2020-06-07 15:41
"January River", by Bernard Jan
January River - Bernard Cornwell

“January River is a heartwarming story you should not pass. A simple tale of a boy growing up in the picturesque little town of Greenfield till many years later he is invited to come to New York.

If you think this story may be boring…....think again. The beautiful landscape of words and emotions will grab you and won’t let you put the book down till you reach the conclusion. The words flow smoothly through the page and highlight how passionate the author’s is about his subject. The narrative is descriptive and endearing and focusses on the life‘s up and down, a life study of sorts. We travel with Ethan on his journey from child to adult through a series of joys and sadness. The loss of a close friend and of his beloved dog will leave you heartbroken. This is an emotional roller-coaster ride of emotions. No doubt, “January River” is an exceptionally well-written book in tone and content, much care is taken to sentences as much as it is for the plot. The characters populating the story are darlings, especially Ethan.

“All rivers carry their secrets, but not every river keeps its secret forever.”

What a compelling story told by a true master. Thank you Mr. Jan for this wonderful story I thoroughly enjoyed .

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review 2020-04-11 11:43
The Ten Thousand Doors of January
The Ten Thousand Doors of January - Alix E. Harrow

Things that attracted me to this book:  the title (I first saw it in January, around my birthday); the cover; and the blurb mentioning a book.  I picked it up because the only books appealing to me right now are fluffy, preferably magical realism plots.

 

This book was both and neither.  I have no idea how to describe it.  A grown-up fairy tale sounds too trite and too superficial, though its roots are firmly in myth and legend.  The writing is lyrical, the tense is fourth-wall-breaking second person.  It's a happy story, a heart-wrenching one, and a magical one all at once. It's both predictable and surprising; cynical and fantastically idealistic.  It genuinely shocked the hell out of me because it wasn't at all what I expected.  

 

As the ward of the wealthy Mr Locke, January Scaller feels little different from the artefacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored and utterly out of place.

 

But her quiet existence is shattered when she stumbles across a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page reveals more impossible truths about the world...

 

It's both a perfect and perfectly inadequate description.  The closest I can come is a story with very faint shades of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, only for grown-ups.

 

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review 2020-02-04 10:22
The Ten Thousand Doors Of January
The Ten Thousand Doors of January - Alix E. Harrow

The Ten Thousand Doors of January has a title that immediately made me want to read it. However, this always unnerves me a little bit, because I'm afraid I will be disappointed by a book that I'm looking forward to reading so much. I got it in an end of year sale, and planned to read it in January, as the title suggested, but in the end ended up finishing it just in February.

Luckily I didn't need to worry, because once I started reading I knew it was going to be a good one. Immediately I was drawn to January and her Doors (and other capitalized words). I don't want to say too much about the story, for fear of taking some of the magic away. But I will admit I recommended this book already to people, while I was only half-way the book, even to those who normally steer clear from Fantasy.

What I didn't know at that point though, was that it would touch me as much as it did. Definitely recommended and three euros very well spend.

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review 2019-10-27 22:59
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
The Ten Thousand Doors of January - Alix E. Harrow

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

What a fantastic book! I knew that this book was going to be special on the very first page. There is just something about the way that it is written that really pulls the reader into the story. I was completely captivated and didn't want to put the book down for any reason. I am so glad that I took a chance and decided to give this book a try.

January lives in the home of a wealthy businessman, Mr. Locke. Her mother is gone and her father works for Mr. Locke searching the world for treasures which means he is rarely around. She doesn't quite fit in but tries to be what Mr. Locke wants her to be. Her only friends are a local boy named Samual and eventually, a big mean looking dog, she names Sinbad but always addresses as Bad. January finds a book, The Ten Thousand Doors, which she knows is meant for her. The book alternates between January's story and the story told in her book. Both stories were completely compelling. I was completely amazed by the story January's book held as its true origin was revealed.

I loved January! She was tough and resourceful. She tried really hard to do what was expected until she realized that may not be her best option. She never gave up and she cared greatly for those around her. I also really loved how her dog, Bad, was a big part of the story. Bad had great instincts and was fiercely loyal to January. I was really impressed by how completely his personality was developed.

This is a fantasy and one that was very well done. I loved the idea of these magical doors that allow individuals to travel from one world to another. The descriptions were so well done, I almost felt like I could smell the air along with the characters. I thought that the author did a fantastic job of incorporating fantastical elements into a historical story in a manner that seemed completely plausible.

I would highly recommend this book to others. I loved the journey that I took with January in these pages. There were surprises, some heartache, a few moments of pure joy, and some precious hope. I will definitely be looking out for future books by this incredibly talented author!

Initial Thoughts
So, I have slept on it and this is definitely a 5-star read. So, so good!

This was fantastic. I am putting 4 stars for now but might bump it up to 5 after I give myself some time to really think about it. I loved January and I was intrigued about the doors and magic in her world. There were some pretty big surprises that popped up over the course of the story. I was pretty much glued to the pages of this novel every chance that I had. I will definitely be watching for more books from this talented author.

Book Source: Purchased

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review 2019-05-28 00:00
The Magazine Of Fantasy & Science Fiction, January/February 2014
The Magazine Of Fantasy & Science Fiction, January/February 2014 - Gordon Van Gelder,Andy Stewart,C.C. Finlay,Claudio Chillemi,Paul Di Filippo,Albert E. Cowdrey,Oliver Buckram,Bruce Jay Friedman,Moira Crone,Alex Irvine,Robert Reed A new year and a new issue of ‘The Magazine Of Fantasy & Science Fiction’ with which to celebrate it. Hurrah!

The first thing I scanned was ‘The Via Panisperna Boys In “Operation Harmony”’, co-authored by Claudio Chillemi and Paul Di Filippo, two fellows clearly not frightened by quotation marks. Unless Germany invaded Czechoslovakia in 1934 and Marconi invented an iconoscope television that lets the watchers be watched, this is set in an alternative history. The lads of the title are a bunch of Italian physicists who flee to the USA to develop a weapon to fight Hitler. Quite a nice weapon really. Enrico Fermi is their leader and they enjoy playing music together. The other band members are Ettore Majorana, Emilio Segrè and Bruno Pontecorvo, all of whom can be found in Internet encyclopaedias. One of those stories that are good fun to read and was probably even more fun to write.

These historical fantasies are often entertaining, as is the case again with ‘The Man Who Hanged Three Times’ by C.C. Finlay. Consarn it, if this one ain’t set in the old west. Dagnabit, a fine tale of a drunk and no good citizen, who is accused of killing the Chinese woman with whom he lived in sin. He denies it but is found guilty and they try to hang him. The narrator of this one is interesting and it did not feature Hollywood made-up swearwords. That’s just me.

‘The New Cambrian’ by Andy Stewart is definitely my type of thing and might have been printed in one of those great SF magazines of the fifties such as ‘Astonishing’ (now ‘Analog’), ‘Galaxy’ or even ‘The Magazine Of Fantasy & Science Fiction’. It’s a good old-fashioned story of engineers and biologists working on Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons. Dr Schneider, a female biologist, has been lost in a tragic accident in the ice-covered ocean, the first death on the planet. It shakes everyone. Our first-person narrator is her former lover, Ty. Their affair ceased when his wife Ana came to join them at the base. Human feelings interact with the complexities of life in alien waters to make an interesting yarn that borders on horror.

There’s more Science Fiction in ‘For All Of Us Down Here’ by Alex Irvine which extrapolates the continuing separation of society into the haves and have-nots. Perhaps I should say renewed separation. We got a bit more equal for a while. Anyway, in a not too distant future, the ‘haves’ can upload themselves to the Sing, which seems to be an orbiting computer complex. Their bodies are cared for but they soon lose the knack of using them properly. The story is about an encounter between a lad in Orono, Maine (that crossword puzzle favourite, as Stephen King once called it) and a Singular. It’s a neat family drama, but the context of the story is more interesting and I am sure there are other tales, probably a novel, to be extracted from this fascinating concept. Once the technology exists, I have no doubt there will be people delighted to upload themselves into their favourite computer game and spend eternity there, especially as the condition of planet Earth deteriorates.

Moving from the Sing to Song, Seth Chambers gets the editorial mature content warning for his novella ‘In Her Eyes’ and, rightly so, as the language is crude and direct. That suits the character of the lady in it. The gentleman and first-person narrator is Alex, who works in a museum, and it’s there that he meets Song, a not very pretty woman. He likes her, despite her looks, they go out and then there are some surprises. To say more would be to ruin it for the reader but it is a raunchy yet emotional story based on an interesting Science Fictional concept. A strong contender for the best story this issue, if the magazines still ran polls.

Paul Di Filippo has the regular ‘Plumage From Pegasus’ spot as well as the aforementioned collaboration and gives us ‘The Very Last Miserabilist In Paradise’. Science has solved all mankind’s problems and there is boundless energy, food for all and no work unless you want to, and all the benefits once dreamed of by SF writers. But one SF writer is not happy. Good fun as usual.

Albert E. Cowdrey is a welcome regular in these pages, often with comedy, but ‘Out Of The Deep’ presents him in serious mode. After an incisive description of fifties America, the protagonist, Pete, tells us how he met Alistair McCallistair, a rich kid, whilst on holiday on the Gulf coast. Time passes and Pete is a Viet-Nam vet and a bit messed up. McCallistair has avoided the war, as rich kids did, and now hires his old friend as a bodyguard because one of the bad guys is out to kill him. The fantastical element comes from McCallistair’s cook and concubine, a lady from the Caribbean with that ol’ black magic. It’s a great story with interesting characters, not least, the messed up ‘hero’. Cowdrey is a good old-fashioned storyteller who gives you a definite beginning, middle and cathartic end. You know exactly what’s happened and there’s none of that woolly vagueness that sometimes plagues the genre. He deserves to be on the bestseller lists and many of his yarns, because they are so strong as stories, would make good films, including this one. He could easily write straight thrillers, I think, and achieve mainstream success but clearly, he has a fondness for fantasy. We are lucky to have him.

‘The Museum Of Error’ is a longer entertainment from Oliver Buckram, who has contributed hilarious short stories in the past. Herbert Linden is the Assistant Curator for military history in the museum and is called upon to investigate when the petrified cat goes missing. The cat was turned to stone by the gorgon gun of mad inventor Theophrastus Morhof who accidentally petrified himself, too, and is also an exhibit. Evil rivals at the Science Institute may be responsible for the theft. Buckram’s inventiveness in dreaming up the exhibits for the Museum of Error is almost unbelievable and there’s a good gag in nearly every paragraph. It also works pretty well as a detective story. Thoroughly enjoyable.

‘We Don’t Mean To Be Kind’ by Robert Reed is set in a distant future when the universe is winding down and some creatures catch up with the Creator. The conflict is told from both points of view. An interesting concept at the far reaches of the fantastical and I’m not sure if I liked it or not. I’m pretty sure it’s good and that my hesitancy is based on residual Catholic guilt and the fear that He might be watching me read and judging.

Moira Crone gets away with ‘The Lion Wedding’ one of those fantasies set in the ‘real’ world that are generally written by and appeal to sensitive ladies. Well-crafted and some will like it but not really my type of thing. Likewise ‘The Story Teller’ by Bruce Jay Friedman in which a professor of literature finds himself in an afterlife where a story is demanded from him. It was okay but writers writing about writing should probably be confined to non-fiction.

The stories by Cowdrey, Buckram and Chambers more than compensate for the cover price of the magazine by themselves and the additional worthy material is a bonus. I should also mention the non-fiction articles but my electronic preview does not include the current ones and by the time I get a hard copy the review is done. Generally, they are excellent. The intelligent book reports of Charles De Lint and Elizabeth Hand give me good lists of books I don’t have time to read and so are frustrating. Readers with fewer tomes to be done will find them useful. On the other hand, a movie takes up less lifespan and the film reviews, by various contributors, highlight DVDs to look out for, often ones that have not been commercially successful but are well worth a watch. Also, they are not snobbish and will allow that a half-decent Hollywood action movie of the sci-fi sort can be entertaining, too.

So, ‘The Magazine Of Fantasy & Science-Fiction’ is keeping alive several worthy traditions. For the Creator’s sake buy it and keep them going!

Eamonn Murphy
This review first appeared at https://www.sfcrowsnest.info/
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