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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

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The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell

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This is one of those many books that I decided I wanted to read…then never got around to. I finally did, but only after seeing the movie  by the same name. I rarely read a book after seeing the movie (I prefer to do it the other way around), but the movie was so well done, I was dying to read the book and compare. My wonderful husband kindly let me read his copy while he was also reading it.

The book did not disappoint. It’s about Tommy Wiseau, the writer, director, producer, and star of the cult classic movie The Room. I haven’t seen The Room, and I probably never will. Based on the few clips I’ve seen, it’s embarrassingly terrible. That’s what makes The Disaster Artist so compelling. As much of a train wreck as the movie was, it’s become a phenomenon. And Tommy Wiseau is fascinating. Despite having some serious scumbag moments, I couldn’t help but like him. He’s an incredibly private person, and there are so many mysteries to unravel. Where is he really from? How on earth does he have so much money to throw away on a passion project? How old is he actually?

Another interesting thing is the unlikely relationship between Greg Sestero, the co-author, and Tommy. It’s engrossing. One difference between The Disaster Artist book, and the movie by the same name, is that Dave Franco portrays Greg as a naive, kind, boy-next-door character. In the book, Greg came across as manipulative, self-centered, and lazy. I wonder if he’s aware that he seems that way.

This book will stay with you long after you finish it. I ended up looking up acting clips of the real Tommy Wiseau, searching to see what the main characters are doing now, and basically dissecting the entire thing over and over in my mind.

The verdict: Read this book! Put it on top of your “to be read” pile! Once you’ve read it, see the movie with James and Dave Franco. Tell me in the comments what your thoughts are. I would love to discuss this book!

My Five Favorite Magic-users in Literature

Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub

I saw a similar post on waytoofantasty’s blog and loved it, so of course I had to add my own. Fantasy wouldn’t be the fantastic genre it is without the addition of an epic spellcaster. Here are some of my favorites – and be sure to check out the original awesome post here: waytoofantasy

Raistlin: The Dragonlance Chronicles, Legends, the Raistlin Chronicles, and many others

For me, Raistlin is the epitome of what a mage should be. He’s cunning, enigmatic, incredibly strong, and fascinating. Raistlin is also flawed, narcissistic, and grows more as a character than many other characters I’ve read throughout not just the fantasy genre, but any fiction.

Image result for soulforgeMarco: The Night Circus

I love Marco’s particular brand of magic! It’s incredibly unique; in fact, I’ve never read a book where magic is written quite like his. He’s also a great character. I like his quiet strength, as well…

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One Day: The Extraordinary Story of an Ordinary 24 Hours in America by Gene Weingarten- ARC Review

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On New Year’s Day 2013, two-time Pulitzer Prize–winner Gene Weingarten asked three strangers to, literally, pluck a day, month, and year from a hat. That day—chosen completely at random—turned out to be Sunday, December 28, 1986, by any conventional measure a most ordinary day. Weingarten spent the next six years proving that there is no such thing.

That Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s turned out to be filled with comedy, tragedy, implausible irony, cosmic comeuppances, kindness, cruelty, heroism, cowardice, genius, idiocy, prejudice, selflessness, coincidence, and startling moments of human connection, along with evocative foreshadowing of momentous events yet to come. Lives were lost. Lives were saved. Lives were altered in overwhelming ways. Many of these events never made it into the news; they were private dramas in the lives of private people. They were utterly compelling.
 
One Day asks and answers the question of whether there is even such a thing as “ordinary” when we are talking about how we all lurch and stumble our way through the daily, daunting challenge of being human. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. It will be available on October 22nd.

I was immediately drawn to the idea of this book. I love things that remind us that, although the world is big, we are all part of it and we affect each other’s lives- often in ways we never even know about. When it comes right down to it, the world isn’t as big as it often seems. We all love, fear, grieve, and hope. This books is an excellent reminder of that.

At the beginning of the book, the author lamented the day that was picked. It was during what is normally a slow news week, and nothing of note was known to have happened on that day. However, as this book proved, there is no such thing as an unimportant day.

This isn’t a light read. It will make you think. It will make you question every interaction you’ve had during the day. Was that smile you gave a stranger what gave them the courage to call a suicide help-line? How do “insignificant moments” affect lives down the road? We will never know what’s going on with others around us behind closed doors, what people keep private, but we aren’t islands. This book was a reminder of that.

The writing was superb, the lengths the author went to in order to get first- hand accounts was astonishing, and the book was wonderful. This would make a great Christmas gift. While you’re at it, pick up a copy for yourself.

The Whisper Man by Alex North

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After the sudden death of his wife, Tom Kennedy believes a fresh start will help him and his young son Jake heal. A new beginning, a new house, a new town. Featherbank.

But the town has a dark past. Twenty years ago, a serial killer abducted and murdered five residents. Until Frank Carter was finally caught, he was nicknamed “The Whisper Man,” for he would lure his victims out by whispering at their windows at night.

Just as Tom and Jake settle into their new home, a young boy vanishes. His disappearance bears an unnerving resemblance to Frank Carter’s crimes, reigniting old rumors that he preyed with an accomplice. Now, detectives Amanda Beck and Pete Willis must find the boy before it is too late, even if that means Pete has to revisit his great foe in prison: The Whisper Man.

And then Jake begins acting strangely. He hears a whispering at his window… (taken from Amazon)

Yowza! First of all, thank you to all the bookbloggers whose posts brought this book to my attention. Your raves were not exaggerated. This book was chilling, but also surprisingly deep. Somehow, on top of making my pulse race, this book also touched me. That’s the mark of a good writer- the ability to make your readers feel.

As much as this book is a creepy thriller, it’s also about relationships, and how people deal with grief. All the characters were well-written. I liked Tom in particular. He was trying to hold himself together while being a good father to Jake, who was dealing with the loss of his mother in his own way. It felt very real, and his vulnerability was both heartbreaking and inspiring. Despite everything, he continued. It made him very likable.

This book’s pacing was brilliant. The author knew when to pause and draw out the creep factor, but he also knew when to pick up the pacing. By the end, things were hurtling along.

My only complaint is the whole “kid draws weird things” trope. I’ve hated that for years, ever since I saw it in The Ring movie. It seems a little overdone in thrillers and horrors. I guess “updating” it would be having the child build eerie things in Minecraft, which definitely wouldn’t have the same effect.

This is an excellent book, one that will stick with me. I highly recommend this creeptastic read!

Firefly Book Tag

Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub

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I thought I’d try my hand at a my own book tag, for the first time. Of course it has to be Firefly-related, to make my nerdy heart happy. So… take me out to the black, tell ’em I ain’t coming back!

Malcolm Reynolds- A Book with a Conflicted Character

“Mercy is the mark of a great man.” (stabs defeated opponent) 
“I guess I’m just a good  man” (stabs opponent again)
“Well…I’m alright.”
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The Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman: Tanis is a very conflicted character. He’s often at war with himself, just like Mal. He’s also in a leadership role and feels that weight immensely.

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Zoe- A Book With a Hardcore Female Character:
Mal: “Well, look at this! Appears we got here just in the nick of time. What does that make us?”
Zoe: “Big damn heroes, sir!”
Mal: “Ain’t we just.”

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Three Dark Crowns by Kendare…

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The Whispered Tales of Graves Grove by J.S. Bailey, Mackenzie Flohr, Elise Manion, D.M. Kilgore, et al- ARC Review

Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub

Image result for the whispered tales of grave groveGraves Grove isn’t your ordinary town…

Nestled within the folds of the Canadian Rockies, Graves Grove probably isn’t the picturesque place you’d like to stay for long. Peculiar things happen here. The citizens seem normal superficially—they function well enough. But each one is deeply disturbed, wrapped in secrets and neuroses which drive them to strange behaviors.

And then there are all the missing children. And why is everyone afraid of that sycamore tree?

The Whispered Tales of Graves Grove is an anthology of stories taking place throughout the history of this mysterious town, from its founding to its future. Read them…if you dare. (taken from Amazon)

                    This book was provided by Netgalley, in exchange for my honest opinion. It will be available on October thirteenth.

If Twin Peaks had a more horror-based neighboring town, Graves Grove would be it. Bizarre…

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Warrior of the Altaii by Robert Jordan

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Epic fantasy legend, and author of #1 New York Times bestselling series The Wheel of Time®, Robert Jordan’s never-before published novel, Warrior of the Altaii:

Draw near and listen, or else time is at an end.

The watering holes of the Plain are drying up, the fearsome fanghorn grow more numerous, and bad omens abound. Wulfgar, a leader of the Altaii people, must contend with twin queens, warlords, prophets and magic in hopes of protecting his people and securing their future. Elspeth, a visitor from another world, holds the answers, but first Wulfgar must learn to ask the right questions.

But what if the knowledge that saves the Altaii will also destroy them? (taken from Amazon)

The unthinkable has happened: I finally read a Robert Jordan book that I didn’t love. Be on the lookout for flying pigs and hell freezing over. That being said, the book is still good. It’s just not great.

I’m pretty sure that it’s simply that The Warrior of Altaii is Jordan’s first novel, so of course his books improved over time. The writing is still excellent- Robert Jordan is a master storyteller- but Wulfgar irritated me. It’s difficult to really fall in love with a book if the main character isn’t likable, and Wulfgar is not. Not even a little bit.

He complained, justifiably, over certain things that happened to him, but didn’t seem the least bit fussed when he or his warriors did the same to others. It was jarring and made me uncomfortable. There was also torture of a sexual nature which I just skipped over.

The use of prophecies to move pieces around in the story was clever and fascinating. My favorite thing about this book, however, is that I could see the bones of ideas that would come to define The Wheel of Time series. That alone made this book one worth reading.

I recommend reading it, but don’t judge Robert Jordan’s talent based solely on this book. It isn’t his best.

 

 

The Throne of the Five Winds by S.C. Emmett- ARC Review

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Two queens, two concubines, six princes. Innumerable secret agendas.A single hidden blade.
The imperial palace — full of ambitious royals, sly gossip, and unforeseen perils — is perhaps the most dangerous place in the Empire of Zhaon. Komor Yala, lady-in-waiting to the princess of the vanquished kingdom of Khir, has only her wits and her hidden blade to protect herself and her charge, who was sacrificed in marriage to the enemy as a hostage for her conquered people’s good behavior, to secure a tenuous peace.
But the Emperor is aging, and the Khir princess and her lady-in-waiting soon find themselves pawns in the six princes’ deadly schemes for the throne — and a single spark could ignite fresh rebellion in Khir.
Then, the Emperor falls ill — and a far bloodier game begins… (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 October 15th.

Admission: I judged a book based on its cover. The cover is incredible and immediately piqued my interest. That it’s a politically-charged fantasy didn’t hurt either. Beautifully written, if a bit dense, this east-Asian inspired fantasy was the only of its kind I’ve read this year.

It took me quite a while to become invested in this book. I was almost halfway through, and considering not finishing, before I found myself interested in the story. There’s that much setup. The pacing was much slower than with many fantasies, and takes some getting used to.

The writing was flowery, which alternated between annoying and impressing me. What can I say: sometimes I’m hard to please. That being said, I am of the opinion that if I had cloistered myself away for a few days and read this book straight through, I would have enjoyed it more. The subtle chess-like moves made throughout this book were very well done and it’s apparent that the author has an intricate plan for the series and knows exactly where everything is going.

My biggest complaint is less of a complaint than an observation: it was really difficult to keep track of all the characters for the first bit. Next time I pick up a book of this scope, I’ll write down character names and relationships if there isn’t a glossary of characters in the book.

If you like slow-building books, political intrigue, and flowing language, this is a fantasy to read.

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub

Imagine if the show Stranger Things focused more on the Upside Down. Picture the sense of growing desperation when those meant to protect people from The Gray are unable to do so.  Add a group of town Founders who are definitely not what they seem, and teens with uncanny abilities, and you’ve got the perfectly creepy cocktail that is The Devouring Gray.

After the unexpected death of her sister, Violet Saunders and her mother move to the small town of Four Paths. There, she learns of The Gray- and the horrible monster that lives there. She also finds out things about herself that she hadn’t known before, things that are a wee bit unsettling, to say the least.

Along with Justin Hawthorne, Isaac Sullivan, and Harper Carlisle, children of the founding families with secrets of their own, Violet is thrown into the midst of a violent struggle against The Gray.

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Pussycat Palace by Clive Lilwall

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Pussycat Palace is an Animal Farm-like satire on a recent event in American politics.

The incidents are strangely similar to those of the 2016 US Presidential Election involving Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

The members of a feral cat colony in Louisiana vote for a new leader. All hell breaks loose when Ace, a hefty outspoken ginger tomcat, fights for supremacy against Catty, a crafty female tabby.

Fake news happens! The influx of immigrant cats into the colony, the roles of males and females, sexual issues and defense against enemies are key election topics.

And the results are just as unbelievable as Trump vs. Clinton in 2016! (taken from Amazon)

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

Sardonic and on-the-nose, this book managed to capture the jaw-dropping events of 2016 perfectly. Fyodor was a perfect window into the “election” of the next leader in a cat colony in Louisiana. Watching the lengths these cats went to in order to gain their version of supremacy was eerily familiar to me.

It was told in a simplistic, matter-of-fact style that I found charming. In no way was it pretentious or preachy. Parts of it reminded me of a lighthearted Watership Down. I love that book, so that’s high praise.

I don’t talk politics on my blog as a general rule, but I will say this: if you are a Trump supporter, or lacking in a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, this book isn’t going to make you happy. Personally, I loved the book.

Sometimes things get to be so unbelievable that it’s ripe for a good parody, which is what happened in this case. This was a good read.