Many Kinds of Magic

                    When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find                   their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of          Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative.            There’s magic in that. It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be            different, and it will affect them in ways they could never predict. From the                mundane to the profound….
              There are many kinds of magic, after all. -Erin Morgenstern (The Night Circus)

Hi! Thanks for joining me for my literary rants. Let me tell you a bit about myself.

First of all, I’m a nerd. A huge nerd. Like, a Dungeons and Dragons, Magic the Gathering,  quote-Firefly-and-proudly-call-myself-a-Browncoat nerd. I’m also a voracious reader, a homeschool mom, and an introvert. I’m more than a little awkward, and I express myself better in writing.

I’ll read pretty much anything, with the exception of romance novels. Sadly, I’m bereft of any sense of romanticism. I tend to gravitate towards fantasy, YA, and sci-fi, but I’ve been branching out more into nonfiction lately.

Because I homeschool two book loving little goobers, I’m also pretty up-to-date on children’s books, so I’ll discuss those here from time to time as well.  Honestly, I’d read picture books anyway, but having kids is a good way to browse the children’s section at the bookstore without getting too many weird looks.

I absolutely LOVE hearing bookish opinions and reading suggestions from other people. If you read a review and think it’s total bunk, tell me so. Tell me why. If you agree, props are good too. More than anything, I want to connect with other readers. Join me in discussion and let’s have some literary fun!

* On Twitter @WS_BOOKCLUB
*Browsery app: Witty and Sarcastic BookclubMany Kinds of Magic


The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow- ARC Review

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In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds 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 turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book, in exchange for my honest opinion. This book will be available on September tenth.

This book was both magical and beautiful. Diving into its pages, I immediately forgot everything but the gorgeous storytelling. I felt January’s desperation and discontent, as well as her insatiable curiosity. I wanted to escape into the pages of her book with her–only a reader can understand how this is completely possible.

I love the themes present throughout this book. There is a subtle yet present focus on relationships and how they can shape us- both positively and negatively. It got me thinking a lot about the power we give to others without even realizing it.  How what happens in our lives can affect us but doesn’t have to define us. January had both some lousy examples of “love” and experiences with loss, as well as the kind of love that is selfless and pure.

The writing was astounding. This story is so vast, yet I never felt like it got away from the author. It’s so wonderful that I’m having a hard time articulating my thoughts. A book like this is so hard to review because at some point it stops being characters, plots, and turns of phrase, and becomes something more. It’s magic.

Read this book.

Doors, he told her, are change, and change is a dangerous necessity. Doors are revolutions and upheavals, uncertainties, and mysteries, axis points around which entire worlds can be turned. They are the beginnings and endings of every true love story, the passages between that lead to adventures and madness and- here he smiled- even love. Without doors the worlds would grow stagnant, calcified, storyless. (quote from arc, and might change in final copy)

Universe Awakening (Redux Edition) by D. Ellis Overttun

The year — 526,780. A probe is deployed from ISV Intrepid at the outer edge of the universe. It is the last of a complement of twelve that is part of the Deep Exploration of Uncharted Space or DEUS. Its mission: collect data on the redshift of light and spatial distortions. Time horizon: 1,000 years. 

Before ISV Intrepid can return to base, something goes wrong. There is an accident. The ship is later salvaged but its pilot is missing, its copilot in a coma. 

The probes collect their data with uneventful regularity. 

Fast-forward to 526,880. A sole-surviving probe still sits in the darkness at the outer edge of the universe. Now, unseen to the naked eye, the space around the probe begins to stretch and distend. Then, the probe disappears, engulfed by an energy of unknown origin and unknown composition. However, it manages to transmit one final message. 

CD3C has monitored the disappearance of each probe over the last three years. While the interpretation of the data remains a mystery, speculation is that something has invaded the universe and is moving a superluminal velocity. Its effects could be manifested in as little as the next thousand years. To the Celesti, this is one lifetime. 

What can be done? 

The one person who might be able to solve this problem is the copilot of ISV Intrepid. He has been lying in stasis suffering from mental trauma. He has been this way for the past century, the longest recorded case in medical history. His unchanging condition has been a convenient solution to stall any inquiry into the accident that put him there. 
This threat changes everything. Now, he is needed. 

Is it possible to unlock his mind? 

The task falls to Auberon, a career nobody inhabiting the lower level of the hierarchy of the Ministry of Science. Can something be awakened in him to allow someone ordinary do something extraordinary? 

Universe: Awakening answers this question. In the process, it explores the world of the Celesti, a highly evolved humanoid species with advanced technology, physiology and a unique way of procreation. It blends science and political intrigue to reveal the interplay of storyline and character development that forms the staging ground for the Terra Nova Series. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to the author for providing me with this book, in exchange for my honest opinion.

This book is smart. Like, “stop and ponder every few pages” before moving on smart. It’s a sci-fi unlike any other, more intent on making you think than giving you aliens and spaceships (although it has those too). And let me tell you, it definitely succeeded.

This book was incredibly interesting, although be aware that this isn’t the sort of book you’ll read in an afternoon at the beach. It’s introspective and well written. I found myself pondering the relationships between characters and thinking about how tough times can change or build relationships (I’m being deliberately vague so that you can form your own thoughts).

Give it a go and tell me what you think!

Epiphany- The Golding by Sonya Deanna Terry

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It is midnight, and you are sleeping.
I am here at the table with a candle at my elbow, penning the most difficult letter I have ever had to write.
They are coming for me. Samuel Withers saw them in the village…

Edward Lillibridge is writing a farewell letter to his son. The controversial author faces trial for heresy after revealing, in a book, the true beginnings of money.

…six months before the Global Financial Crisis rocks the economy. Lillibridge’s Our True Ancient History, published under the guise of fiction, is out-of print, available only at antiquarian bookshops and largely overlooked.
Until now.

Rosetta Melki, an idealist whose hope of starting a worldwide charity has been crushed by her sole-parent struggles, is enchanted by Our True Ancient History. Lillibridge’s tale about a gold-obsessed kingdom (and the sprites they enslave: elfin clan dwellers whose currency of choice is kindness) has ignited a memory Rosetta cannot explain.

Rosettta’s website surrounding the reading group she’s begun with friends has inspired the emergence of other Lillibridge book clubs. Her own Sydney group meets fortnightly at a vintage bungalow, the rental home she secured to escape a gruesome intruder.

In a more affluent part of Sydney, finance executive Matthew Weissler (polished, successful, admired) has been questioning his slave-to-the-dollar existence and his marriage to a tantrum-throwing shopaholic. And now he’s questioning his sanity after finding he’s been followed by an elf. 

Rosetta’s intruder still lurks in the shadows, but who could the stranger be? A prowler from the suburb Rosetta and her teenaged daughter fled…or a traveller from the past, determined to suppress an ancient memory that will change the world forever? (taken from Amazon)

                Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book, in exchange for my honest opinion.

Dear Epiphany The Golding,

It’s not you, it’s me. You are wonderful, with a unique and intriguing premise. You’re well written, and your storyline is very complex. You’re just not what I need right now.

I did read you cover to cover. I don’t know; maybe I was hoping you’d share your secrets sooner, or that I’d be drawn in. I kept finding my head turning at other books, though, which just isn’t fair to you. You deserve more than that.

You deserve a reader who is sucked in and fascinated, not someone who was confused by large parts of your writing. I honestly didn’t love your hippie new-agey romance, and I found you to be a heavy read.

Maybe it’s just not the right time for us. Maybe we should consider this a break and I’ll try again in a few months or so. I think you need what I can’t give: a reader who has uninterrupted time to devote to you, not someone who is also busy with family and homeschooling.

I wish you the very best, Epiphany- The Golding. I know there are readers out there who will love you. I just can’t be that reader right now. I hope you understand.

Your Faithful Reader

In all seriousness, though, give this book a try. It really is just a matter of the book not fitting the reader.

Blogger Influences: Books I’ve Read Thanks to Blogger Recommendations

I know that lately there have been many bookbloggers who feel like they aren’t being read, or that their voice doesn’t matter. I think it’s easy to look at follower stats, or compare the number of comments on a post vs. what is on someone else’s . I wanted to add my two cents’ worth, in the only way I know how: by listing just a few of the books I’ve picked up and enjoyed, all thanks to the recommendation of a wonderful bookblogger.

Take heart, friends! Your opinions are needed!

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I credit The Irresponsible Reader for this one. I picked it up based on his fantastic review (I did read them out of order, though: sorry).

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I picked this up thanks to an awesome review by Paul at Pauls Picks. It’s one of my absolute favorites of this year.

Image result for two like me and you This is another book that I read thanks to Paul.

Image result for middlegame   Middlgame is a direct result of an excellent review by Beth at Before We Go.

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I saw reviews for this one floating around on several different blogs, prompting me to pick it up. I loved it.

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Last, but most certainly not least, I’m currently tearing through this book. I’m well aware that I’m going to be incredibly emotional at the end of this one (there have already been a few sniffly moments). Jeez, guys!

These are just a few of the books that I’ve read thanks to you awesome bookbloggers. I’ve got many, many more on my to be read list that I’m excited to dive into. I hope this post encourages you to keep on doing what you love: reading and writing!

**There are so many other book blogs that I love reading. I can’t include all of you in this post because it would turn into a novel, but a few that come to mind at this particular moment are:
Off The Tbr
Devouring Books
Hooked On Bookz
The Tattooed Book Geek
Way Too Fantasy
Fiction No Chaser
The Orangutan Librarian
First Book Love
Like Herding Cats
Grimdark Dad

Little Big Nate Draws a Blank by Lincoln Pierce- ARC Mini Review

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Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. It’s available on September third.

My oldest loves the Big Nate books. He’s read all of them. So when I saw a little reader version, I just had to grab it to read to my Toddler Tornado.

This book is cute. It’s very simple: each page has an illustration of something little big Nate thinks to draw, but then changes his mind about, and the reason why (“A Penguin? Too chilly”). The pictures are fun and engaging. This is the sort of book that’s perfect for encouraging communication from your little one.

Short and fun, this would be perfect for one and two year olds. Pick it up, and while you’re at it,  grab one the older kid counterparts for big brother or sister.

Fairy Tales for Fearless Girls by Anita Ganeri- ARC Review

This inspiring collection of 15 stories from around the world showcases narratives that celebrate strong, independent women. These heroines aren’t reduced to being wives or witches! They run free and possess the qualities we would hope for in our daughters and friends: self-confidence, strength, wits, courage, fearlessness, and independence. They live freely, happily ever after, without restraint or narrowly defined roles. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book, in exchange for my honest opinion.

I adore fairy tales. I grew up on them, and firmly believe that you’re never to old for them. So, of course I was excited to read this collection. Some of the stories I already knew, such as Feng Mian, the Head of the Family, but many were new to me.

Alas, while I liked this book, I didn’t love it. I think the reason I enjoyed it but don’t feel the urge to gush is simply the arrangement of the stories in the book. The first two or three are incredibly similar, which diminished my enjoyment a bit. If they’d been spread out among other, different types of tales, I would have liked each one much better.

There were a few tales that I felt were much more interesting than others: Unanana and the Elephant being one. It follows a mom, first of all, and she’s both clever and determined. I could relate to her willingness to do anything to protect her kids. I also really liked Tatterhood and Dacia, which teaches a lesson about the importance of personality over looks.

Where this book really shines is in the gorgeous illustrations. After I finished the book, I went back through just to see them again. Khoa Le captured the feel of each story in a fascinating and original way.

Even though I didn’t love it, this book is still a worthy addition to any fairy tale collection.

The Oddmire book 1: Changeling by William Ritter- ARC Review

With this book being released on the 16th, see what I think of it.

Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub

Image result for the oddmire book oneMagic is fading from the Wild Wood. To renew it, goblins must perform an ancient ritual involving the rarest of their kind—a newborn changeling. But when the fateful night arrives to trade a human baby for a goblin one, something goes terribly wrong. After laying the changeling in a human infant’s crib, the goblin Kull is briefly distracted from his task. By the time he turns back, the changeling has already perfectly mimicked the human child. Too perfectly: Kull cannot tell them apart. Not knowing which to bring back, he leaves both babies behind.

Tinn and Cole are raised as human twins, neither knowing what secrets may be buried deep inside one of them. Then when they are twelve years old, a mysterious message arrives, calling the brothers to be heroes and protectors of magic. The boys must leave behind their sleepy town of Endsborough and risk their lives in…

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A Pilgrimage of Swords by Anthony Ryan- ARC Review

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                ENTER THE EXECRATION, WHERE THE DAMNED AND THE DESPERATE COME TO PRAY TO THE MAD GOD… It is two hundred years since the deity known as the Absolved went mad and destroyed the Kingdom of Alnachim, transforming it into the Execration, a blasted wasteland filled with nameless terrors. For decades, desperate souls have made pilgrimage to the centre of this cursed land to seek the Mad God’s favour, their fate always unknown. Now a veteran warrior known only as Pilgrim, armed with a fabled blade inhabited by the soul of a taunting demon, must join with six others to make the last journey to the heart of the Execration. Allied with a youthful priest, a beast-charmer, a duplicitous scholar, an effete actor and two exiled lovers, Pilgrim must survive madness, malevolent spirits, unnatural monsters and the ever-present risk of treachery, all so that the Mad God might hear his prayer and, perhaps, grant redemption. But can sins such as his ever be forgiven? Set in a world where demons and gods walk the earth, A Pilgrimage of Swords is a dark and exciting fantasy adventure from the New York Times bestselling author of the Raven’s Shadow and Draconis Memoria trilogies. (taken from Amazon)  

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This will be released on September 30th.

Wow! Reminiscent of Tad Williams or Sean Russell, this book has everything I look for in an epic fantasy. The world building- especially the religious beliefs and how they’ve affected everything over the years- was masterful. It was well-thought out and delivered, without turning into the dreaded information dump. I loved the idea of the Mad God granting one prayer if you can survive the Execration. The stakes are high; the Mad God will only answer the prayer of one person.

I was immediately drawn in to the desolate feel of the setting, and the desperation of the characters. It was hard to really pick a favorite character because they all had their own, valid to them, reasons for the journey. Pilgrim was fascinating, complex and multi-faceted. His character was filled with conflict; was he a monster, or a man?

Seeker was also fantastic. She had a hyena companion! That is by far the most original animal sidekick (for lack of a better term) that I’ve read in any fantasy book. In fact, each character had something that set them apart from those in other fantasy books.

The book sucked me in; I finished it in a day. I highly recommend this book. I know I’ll be checking out other books by this author since I enjoyed A Pilgrimage of Swords so much.

Tempest Blades: The Withered King by Ricardo Victoria – ARC Review

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Thank you to the author and Shadow Dragon Press for providing me with this book, in exchange for my honest opinion. This will be available on August 20th.

This book is centered around Fionn, wielder of the sword Tempest Blade. He has kind of dropped out of life after his past fills him with loss and an overwhelming sense of guilt. He gets a chance to set things right when his friend, Harland asks for help finding a missing person. Fionn has unique abilities that make him an invaluable asset, especially where magic is concerned.

Fionn was a fun character. He had that self-loathing part of him, but he was also well aware of his abilities and how useful he could be. It was a good juxtaposition, one that was balanced skillfully. On his own, Fionn might have been too much, but the addition of two other characters- Alex and Gaby made the story work. Alex was well written  but Gaby is the one who stood out. Her skills at butt-kickery made her a blast to read. It’s always a pleasure to read a character like that.

The story read a bit like a video game- and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. It was a fun, fast book, full of action beats. It was also surprisingly introspective and deep. As entertaining as it was, this is ultimately a book about second chances. I found it highly enjoyable.

Duckett and Dyer: Dicks for Hire by Ganesh Nair – A Buddy Read

Thank you to Ganesh Nair for providing me with a copy of this book, in exchange for my honest opinion. All guffaws are my own.

When Ganesh Nair emailed me, he assured me that Duckett and Dyer: Dicks for Hire was witty, sarcastic, AND a book. He was correct on all counts. He did, however, fail to mention the choking hazard from laughing too hard. I could have died. I feel like there’s a law suit in there somewhere.

I’m so excited to be doing my first buddy read post with Beth from Before We Go. We had a blast talking about this brilliant book! I’m pretty sure Mr. Nair must have recorded conversations between Beth, myself, and our respective spouses before writing his book. I know my hubby has mentioned adding a door to a cubicle on at least three occasions.

This book follows Duckett, your run of the mill average Joe, who works his butt off with very little to show for it, although some of that is due to his roommate, Stephanie Dyer. Stephanie is the sort to enjoy the fruits of everyone else’s labor- she does add a certain something, though. I’m thinking the certain something is trouble.

Duckett finds himself fielding cases for the detective agency he runs with Dyer. The problem is, they don’t run a detective agency. Things quickly go sideways, and they find themselves hopping through multiple universes, trying to solve a mystery, or- in Duckett’s case- get back to the status quo.

As Beth mentions in her post, we’ve both had a Stephanie in our lives. We also found ourselves trading stories about our horrible first apartments. If you replace Duckett’s missing apartment brick with a front door that would randomly trap me inside, you’ve got my first apartment.

Quippy, and completely bonkers, this book was an epic mash-up between comedy-noir and the weirdest sci-fi you’ll ever read . I loved every wacky moment of it. I only have one complaint: the sequel isn’t out yet.

Check out Beth’s fantastic review here.