Oct 21

Animal Crackers in my Books: An Idiosyncratic Lit List

Idiosyncratic Lit List 12

What does the fox say, Bookworms?

I know, I just went there. You’re welcome to chastise me in the comments. It’s occurred to me recently that a lot of the books I’ve read have animals in their titles. They may or may not have anything at all to do with the animals mentioned, but you know how much I like listing. I didn’t want to trouble myself with content when I could play with titles. I’m sure you understand. Without further ado let’s get to it!

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1. Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood: This is one of my favorite Atwood novels. Truly, of her non-dystopian work, this probably tops my list. And it just so happens to have an animal in the title, though it’s really not about cats. Who could ask for anything more?

2. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen: There actually IS an elephant in this novel who plays a very prominent role. Actually, there are quite a few animals in this novel, seeing as it focuses on an almost-veterinarian working in a circus. Still. An elephant who likes to drink is a winner in my book. Rosie’s a bit of a tippler.

3. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (review): There’s a dog in this book! He’s dead though, so don’t get too excited. A good book with a fascinating protagonist.

4. Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt (review): This book, you guys! I know, I know, I rave about it ALL THE TIME. But it’s still super fantastic. And really not about wolves, except maybe metaphorically. Who cares, though? There’s a really awesome teapot!

5. Frog Music by Emma Donogue (review): It’s a rare book indeed that can combine historical fiction, cross dressing, prostitution, and hunting frogs. Just another reason Emma Donoghue is the coolest.

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6. Saving Fish from Drowning by Amy Tan: Among the things I learned from this book? What a C-Pap mask is, and the side effects of an enlarged prostate. Neither of these have anything to do with the story, of course, though that was plenty interesting too. If I can get a good story and trivia out of a book, it’s a big win.

7. Half Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls: So you think you want to be a cowboy/cowgirl? Read this real-life novel and you might re-think that. They NEVER wash their jeans. Ever.

8. Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson (review): Not a monkey to be found on Monkey Beach. Canada is too cold for that sort of thing. Lots of interesting discussion of fish grease though.

9. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary by David Sedaris: There are all sorts of animals in this book! Animals that talk and do offensive things using offensive language. It is, in a word, glorious.

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Alright Bookworms, I’m SURE I’ve missed BUNCHES of animal titles. Help me fill in the blanks, here!

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I’ll use it to buy animal crackers because they sound delicious right about now.*

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Oct 20

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben H Winters

Audio Books, Classics, Humor 18

Yo Ho Ho, Bookworms!

If I were to write up a personal ad, I would list some of my “likes” as Jane Austen, pirate lingo, audio books, and penguins. Obviously penguins. Because my library rocks my world, I was able to obtain an audio copy of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben H Winters. It’s the Austen story you remember with a steampunk twist… And man-eating sea creatures, naturally.

senseandsensibilityandseamonstersElinor and Marianne Dashwood are, as in the original Sense and Sensibility , lovely girls of extremely modest fortune thanks to their greedy brother and his nasty wife. Of course, in this version of the story, the Dashwood patriarch was taken out by a sea beast. For some reason, all the creatures in the ocean are now PISSED at humanity and seek ways of destroying it at all costs. Because why not? Thanks to their want of fortune, the very worthy Dashwood ladies are not much favored in their search for suitable husbands (despite Elinor’s MAD SKILLS at carving driftwood.) Heartbreak happens. Healing happens. PENGUIN THEMED WEDDINGS happen.

It’s probably only because I listened to Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (review) in fairly rapid succession (as opposed to the gap of several years between when I read the originals), but it occurs to me that perhaps Ms. Austen had her heart broken by a cad whose name began with a “W.” Wickham, Willoughby… That can’t be a coincidence can it?

This book had the funniest descriptions of an evil ocean ever. I mean, “great burbling salt cauldrons of death”?! That is glorious. Truly though, the absolute best thing about this book was Colonel Brandon with a squid face. Sure, there were sexual innuendos, endless creative descriptions of a treacherous sea, an underwater colony, and glorified pirates absconding with native women to keep as wives, but giving Colonel Brandon tentacles was a stroke of pure genius.

If you’re an Austen purist, you’ll probably hate this book every bit as much as you’d hate Pride and Prejudice and ZombiesIf, though, you don’t consider Ms. Austen’s work beyond the realm of satire, you should definitely give these books a try. They are so much fun!

Talk to me Bookworms! What are some of the “likes” you’d put in YOUR personal ad? (You can tell how long it’s been since I’ve been in the dating game, because I’m pretty sure “personal ads” as such no longer exist. Pretend it’s Match-Harmony-Cupid-Face or whatever.)

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

 

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Oct 17

Six Degrees of Separation: 1984

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How goes it, Bookworms?

I’m pretty excited today, because I’m jumping back into one of the coolest memes in the book blogosphere. That’s right. The Six Degrees of Separation meme (hosted by Annabel Smith and Emma Chapman) chose 1984 as their jump-off point this month, and, well, I couldn’t NOT participate. Big Brother would be displeased. (I fear Big Brother! Truly, I do. Especially the reality show. I don’t get it.)

sixdegrees11. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (review): I don’t have to have GOOD reasons to link books together, do I? I borrowed my college roommate’s copy of 1984 and it had one large blue eye on the cover of it. I just don’t read that many books that feature eyeballs as cover art. It made an impression. Thus my decision to link to The Bluest Eye

2. The Color Purple by Alice Walker (review): My reasoning here is twofold. First, The Bluest Eye is an intense discussion of the difficulties of life faced by African American women… And incest. Much like The Color Purple. Seriously heartbreaking stories, the both of them. Also, though, they’ve got colors in their titles. It makes me think of my reading rainbow. I love that rainbow… Siiigh. Speaking of rainbows…

3. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (review): Man, do I love Rainbow Rowell, and not only because her name is FABULOUS. Her books are fabulous, too. Attachments was her first novel, and I feel like it doesn’t get enough love. It’s the sweetest little novel about a couple who falls in love through mild internet stalking. Swoon. Also, the leading man in Attachments is named Lincoln, which leads me to…

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4. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith: I don’t know what it is about putting historical figures and/or classic literary characters into bizzaro situations that makes me so happy, but oh it does! I don’t find it irreverent, I find it wonderful. Well, it’s also irreverent, but I love it. Hence, I’m brought to the next book on my list…

5. Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben H Winters (review): I loved the crap out of this book. It was just so innovative. I mean, sea monsters?! Steampunk underground cities? Swarthy pirates right and left? I couldn’t help myself. One of my favorite elements of this book was that a lot of the respectable wives of the respectable gents were actually kidnapped natives from deserted islands. A fitting metaphor for certain arranged marriages, no? The culinary delights provided by some of these former island princesses put me in mind of the lovely fare J Maarten Troost encountered on his travels through the South Pacific which leads me to…

6. Headhunters on My Doorstep by J Maarten Troost (review): J Maarten Troost has adventures so you don’t have to. This book had me laughing so many times, I just can’t help but demand that people pick up some Troost. Next time you think it’s a good idea to move to an equatorial atoll, think again. It’s a wild ride, y’all. Gooooood times.

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And there you have it! Dystopian England to the equatorial atolls of the South Pacific in 6 easy steps! Have I mentioned I love this meme?!

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Oct 16

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

Fairy Tales, Historical Fiction 25

Bookworms, Bookworms, let down your hair!

I’m eeeeeeeevil and have locked you in a tower and forced you to grow your hair to unimaginable lengths that don’t occur in nature and now I want to use it as a rope, damnit! Heck yes, y’all, I just finished reading Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth, a re-telling of Rapunzel. *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration through NetGalley. May I be locked in a tower if this review is untrue.*

bittergreensBitter Greens begins with a note about how the folk tale Rapunzel originally surfaced in Italy but its best known published version appeared in France. What follows is Forsyth’s imagining of how the tale managed to travel. It gives a fictionalized account of the life of the French author, Charlotte-Rose de la Force as well as a creative interpretation of Rapunzel’s origin story.

Charlotte-Rose was a courtier in Louis XIV’s lavish and fickle court. After a series of scandals, Charlotte-Rose is, for all intents and purposes, disposed of in a poverty ridden convent. Out of sight, out of mind, no? Her greatest love was writing, but even that is denied to her inside the cloisters. It certainly doesn’t help anything that Charlotte-Rose was raised a Huguenot and was forced to convert to Catholicism… And then, you know, unceremoniously dumped in a convent. Bad form, Louis.

In any case, Charlotte-Rose is in a bit of a pickle, but comes to befriend Sœur Seraphina who comes to teach her the glories of gardening and shares her stories. What story do you think she starts with?! Why, a young maiden locked in a tower with a ginormous length of hair, of course!

Fairy tale retellings can be a bit hit or miss for me, but Bitter Greens was a big hit. It had all my favorite historical fiction elements; I felt like I was IN these times. And there was plague. MUAHAHAHAHA! Really though, the best part of this novel from my perspective was that the witch got a fantastically developed back story. I like my villains to have depth, and Selena Leonelli was one complex lady. If you like historical fiction, fairy tales, and interwoven storylines, Bitter Greens is your book, y’all!

Alright Bookworms, let’s talk villains! Who’s your favorite fairy tale villain? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I will NOT be using it on hair extensions, because at the moment, long hair seems incredibly over-rated.*

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Oct 14

I Want to Go To There: Top Ten Tuesday

Uncategorized 36

G’day Bookworms!

It’s Tuesday again and today I’ve got an especially fun list to treat you with. The ladies of The Broke and the Bookish have challenged us to list places we’d like to visit (fictional or otherwise) because books got us utterly hooked on the locales. Pack your bags, Bookworms, we’re going on an adventure! (My photoshop skills suuuuuuuck. But you’re welcome.)

TTT travel

1. Hogwarts from The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling- located somewhere in Scotland (more on this later), the school of Witchcraft and Wizardry is where I feel I belong. I’d be a Ravenclaw and spend my time solving riddles and chatting up the Grey Lady. Pass the pumpkin juice, would you?

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I’ve got an owl, y’all!

2. Elmwood Springs, MO from Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven (and others) by Fannie Flagg- Ooooh Fannie Flagg! She created the sweetest small town in the history of EVER in Elmwood Springs, Missouri. It’s practically Stars Hollow, only, you know, south.

3. Neverland from Peter and Wendy by JM Barrie (review)- Oh I’d go to Neverland alright. And I’d join the dang pirates because Peter Pan is actually a complete jerk. Wendy stays home and does housekeeping and goes on approximately ZERO adventures. Ugh.

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Arrrrrr!

4. Mary Poppins’ chalk painting from Mary Poppins by PL Travers (review)- The movie version of this scene is significantly more whimsical, but I’d accept the book version gladly as well. A jolly holiday indeed!

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Four guesses as to why this is my favorite scene in the movie.

5. Wonderland from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll- I have but one goal in mind. I want to attend a tea party with the Mad Hatter and the March Hare. I have every intention of avoiding any and all royalty.

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A very merry un-birthday to me!

6. Oz from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank L Baum- So there’s a lot of upheaval and chaos and craziness, but I wouldn’t mind a jaunty trip down the Yellow Brick Road.

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There’s no place like home.

7. Scotland- I want to go to Scotland and it’s all Diana Gabaldon’s fault! It’s the only non-fictional locale on my list, but ooooh I want to visit so badly! On a short study abroad to London in college, I tasted Irn Bru and didn’t hate it. AND, because I’m a nutcase I’ve been re-listening to the Outlander books on audio, so my inner monologue currently sports a Scottish brogue. I would like to see all the things and frolic through the heather. Frolicking rules. (Alright so maybe it’s not ALL Diana Gabaldon’s fault… I was in a production of Brigadoon in high school, too. My travel dreams are swathed in tartan plaid.)

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It’s cool. Hubs and I have an arrangement. If I fall back in time and meet a super hot Scotsman, he’s free to pursue the Hollywood starlet of his choosing.

Talk to me, Bookworms! Where have you wanted to travel, thanks to a book? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Oct 13

Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson

Coming of Age, Psychological 7

Greetings Bookworms!

You may have noticed over the past month or so that I’ve been on a little bit of a Native American author kick. Since it’s been such an awesome ride so far, when I was contacted by Open Road Media to check out Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson, I jumped at the offer. *I received a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration. This in no way reflects opinions expressed on the novel.*

monkeybeachMonkey Beach centers on a Native American family in British Columbia. (I can still say Native American when referring to native peoples who reside in what is now Canada, right? I mean, the US kind of bogarted the term “American” despite the fact that there are TWO FULL CONTINENTS who have a claim on it.)

20 year old Lisamarie Hill had a crazy childhood. She finds herself reliving her life’s journey in a speedboat while she travels to meet her parents in the place her brother Jimmy went missing (and is presumed drowned.) The Haisla community Lisa hails from has seen its own share of trials including alcoholism, poverty, domestic violence. and untimely deaths. Lisa’s own predicament is complicated by the fact that she deals not only in the physical world, but the spiritual world as well. She doesn’t understand her “gift” and struggles to reconcile Haisla traditions with contemporary Canadian life.

This book was pretty intense. I mean, what IS IT with the Native American authors bringing the pain? Travelling back and forth between Lisa’s past and present was a bit jarring, but I think it stylistically served to demonstrate how scattered Lisa is feeling while reeling from yet another potential loss. Robinson also has some mad skills with describing scenery. I felt like I could see the beaches and channels and forests described in this novel. Plus the cuisine? I mean, I can’t say that I’m aching to try oolichan grease, but you’ve got to respect a writer who can describe fish grease, soapberry foam, and the intricacies of blueberry picking and make it INTERESTING. Respect.

If you’re looking for a book to break your heart and teach you more than you ever really wanted to know about fish grease, Monkey Beach is where it’s at!

Talk to me Bookworms! What’s the last gut-wrenching book you tackled?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Oct 10

The Bird Is the Word (An Idiosyncratic Lit List)

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Tweet tweet, Bookworms!

It feels like there’s something missing in my life, and that something is a nonsensical book list. In the spirit of doing things just for the heck of it, I’ve compiled a list of books for y’all today that include birds in the title. Because why the heck not?

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 1. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (review 1, review 2)- Fake Spoiler Alert: It’s not about a bird. Well, not a literal bird anyway. It’s about Jesuits in space. And aliens. It’s awesome.

2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee- Fake Spoiler Alert: It’s not about killing mockingbirds, much to the chagrin of every cat meme on the internet. It’s actually about civil rights and non scummy lawyers and neighborhood weirdos.

3. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (review)- Okay, you guys, this book ACTUALLY has a bird in it. Ha! I’m lying again. It does have a portrait of a bird, though, and the greatest ne’er-do-well to grace the pages of modern literature. BORIS, I love you.

4. Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris (review)- Man, I am good at picking books with birds in the title that have very little to do with birds, aren’t I? The only owl to appear in this book is taxidermy, but you guys, it’s a DAVID SEDARIS book and therefore hilarious and wonderful.

5. A Feast for Crows by George RR Martin- Dark wings, dark words, kids. Ravens are the cool birds in Westeros, what with their message carrying and all, but crows like to hang out and pick at carrion, too. And, let’s face it, there’s a lot of carrion to be picking at in Westeros by book 4, you know what I’m saying?

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6. Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater (review)- You didn’t really think I was going to make a list dedicated to birds and not list a book about penguins did you? Silly, silly bookworms! This is among my all time favorite whimsical children’s books. I sent my “nephew” a copy. When he was 3. And unable to read. I just get REALLY EXCITED about books.

7. A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg (review)- I love Fannie Flagg, some books more than others. This wasn’t my favorite of hers, but you know. I like Christmas. I like books with birds in the title.

8. Leonardo’s Swans by Karen Essex- I love me some hist-ART-ical fiction, and this book went back to the Italian Renaissance to get inside the lives of some of DaVinci’s subjects.

9. Wild Swans by Jung Chang- Swans again? Heck yes! This book is AMAZING and it’s about the lives and journeys of three women in China. It’s intense and true and you should read it and learn things. It’s non-fiction and worth all the brain power.

10. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood- A crake is a bird, y’all. A dude who calls himself “Crake” after an extinct bird in the future and goes on to mastermind a new race of sentient beings while bringing about the destruction of humanity is a mad scientist. Subtle distinction.

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I’m sure I’ve missed many a bird. What are your favorite books with birds in the title, Bookworms? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I’ll use it to feed the birds. Tuppence a bag, you say?*

Sorry, I had to.

Sorry, I had to.

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Oct 09

Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

Contemporary Fiction, Friendship 20

Hi ho, Bookworms!

If you’re anything like me, you accumulate books faster than you can read them. I don’t suppose it helps that I enter giveaways on other blogs, but I have a severe weakness for free books. A few months ago I won a copy of Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen from Bookalicious Mama and it taunted me from my bedside table with its pretty cover mercilessly. I finally got around to reading it, and I’m SO GLAD I did!

lost lakeOur heroine Kate recently “woke up” from mourning the loss of her husband. She’s been going through the motions for a solid year and has only just managed to muster the will to participate in life again. While clearing out some detritus to prepare for a move, Kate and her daughter Devin (a budding fashionista, with an eccentric sense of style) find an old post card reminding Kate of the summer she spent at her great aunt’s cabin resort, Lost Lake.

Kate’s re-awakening came with a healthy dose of “carpe diem” so she loads Devin into the car and sets off for rural Georgia to seek out some R&R in the serene environment. Kate’s Aunt Eby is thrilled to see her long lost niece, but Lost Lake is on the verge of closing up shop. Eby, Kate, and a few regular guests set out to make Lost Lake’s final summer one to remember. A little romance, a little magic, and a healthy dash of Southern fried fun make Lost Lake a wonderful escape.

This book is utterly charming and heartwarming. Sarah Addison Allen puts together a cast of quirky characters that can’t be beat (and you know how much I LOVE quirky characters, especially when some of them are cranky old women. It makes my inner Mildred positively gleeful.) I read this tasty morsel in a single day. If you need a little escape from reality, Lost Lake is as refreshing as a cold glass of sweet tea.

Tell me, dear Bookworms. Do you enjoy books that offer an escape?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I will use it to take a flipping vacation!*

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Oct 07

Literary Love Connection: Friend-Zoned

Literary Love Connection 36

Welcome, Bookworms!

I’m putting on my very best Chuck Woolery voice today so I can announce the newest feature here on Words for Worms. I’m going to start playing matchmaker with literary characters in a little game I’m calling Literary Love Connection. The concept is simple. Choose literary characters. Send them on a fake date. Watch sparks fly. Will we make a love connection?!

literaryloveconnectionToday’s Bachelor is Severus Snape from the Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling. Severus likes potions, sneering, and giving detentions. He spends his free time wallowing in self loathing and pining for The One That Got Away And Was Subsequently Murdered By His Boss.

Today’s Bachelorette is Éponine Thénardier from Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. Eponine enjoys long walks through Paris, crossdressing, and recreational stalking. She spends her free time wandering the city while singing songs of loss for The One That Got Away And Fell In Love With That Bitch Who Used To Live With Her Family.

The Date takes place in a quiet cafe in Paris.

Snape: You don’t eat much.

Éponine: My corset doesn’t allow for more than 3 mouthfuls of food a day. I thought you’d have been clued in by my alarmingly narrow waist.

Snape: Pfft. Muggles. You worry about food. I can brew glory and put a stopper in death!

Éponine: How are you with love potions?

Snape: Abysmal, unfortunately. Not that I ever tried one. After Lily married that filthy Potter, what was the point?

Éponine: I know what you mean! Here I am, on the streets, singing the best song in the musical version of my life, and Marius goes for that ninny Cosette. He should have seen her as a child. She looked AWFUL.

Snape: My indifference toward you seems to be waning. More wine?

Éponine: Yes, please. After dinner would you like to take a walk along the Seine? I can show you the spot where that cop offed himself.

Snape: I can think of nothing I’d like better.

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 Now that Snaponine is a thing, I am desperate to create more unholy unions. Chime in, Bookworms. Are there any literary characters you’d like to see set up on a date? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I am also fully aware that both the fictional characters involved in this particular love connection are fictionally deceased.*

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Oct 06

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Audio Books, Coming of Age, Fantasy 23

Pick a card, any card, Bookworms!

Actually, don’t. I would be a hot steaming pile of horrible if I tried to do card tricks. Depressing though it is that I lack actual magical powers as well as the manual dexterity to perform sleight of hand, I still dig books about magic. If it happens to be October, all the better! I listened to the audio version of The Magicians by Lev Grossman to help get me in the spirit of the Halloween season.

The MagiciansQuentin Coldwater is a genius, but at 17, he’s got a serious case of the mopies (I can relate, yo!) He’s obsessed with a series of novels about children who visit a magical land (think Narnia), but he tries to play it off as nostalgia. Quentin is minding his own teen angst business when he finds himself being tested for admittance into a legit, elite, magical college. That’s right. It’s sort of like Hogwarts for the older set. A little less whimsy, a lot more booze, sex, and apathy.

The Magicians had the same darkly mystical tone as The Night Circus (review) which was a delightful surprise. The book was darker than I had anticipated, and it dabbled in some heavy philosophy. When you have immense magical power, the fulfilling stuff of life no longer presents a challenge. Grossman’s magical world doesn’t have the structure that Rowling’s does- magicians are left to their own devices wandering the ordinary world. A few magicians will go in for charitable endeavors or research, but mostly they wander aimlessly searching for meaning, as they have no need for careers to provide them with money or purpose. It was this thoughtful analysis of the human condition that had me loving the first 2/3 of this book.

Then? Grossman went full Narnia on me. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the book now. I’m a little less excited to finish the series, but that doesn’t mean I won’t do it. There are a lot of loose ends I would like to have wrapped up, so I’ll probably get to it eventually. It was a mixed bag for me, but if you liked The Chronicles of Narnia, The Night Circus, and His Dark Materials , it’s definitely worth sampling.

One of the major reasons I related to Quentin and his longing for a fictional world is my own (perhaps unhealthy) obsession with Harry Potter. Is there another literary world you desperately wish you could escape into?

*If You make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Like magic. Only not.*

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