BBW & The Magician King

This week feels like it’s full of so many things and it’s only Wednesday. Yesterday I talked a little bit about Banned Books Week. Today I thought I’d provide the links to a couple of the lists that I thought were interesting: Classics & Last Year’s. Strangely, I’ve read more of the classically banned literature than the modern stuff. I went through an Oscar Wilde phase during the early summer (mainly because of Jersey Shore Gone Wilde) and sometime last year I read through Lady Chatterly’s Lover because it was referenced in the Starbridge Series (I believe it was referenced in Scandalous Risks, actually). So, I guess I need to catch up on what’s considered modernly controversial?

When I planned this week and last week’s blog posts I guess I was feeling thematic. I realized that I would be blogging about The Magician King by Lev Grossman, a book which I pretty well enjoyed a couple weeks ago, and this spiraled my thought process off in the direction of the formative role fantasy fiction played in my development as a reader and as a writer. So that’s what you’ll get to read about this week, if you’re so inclined. Anway, Onward!

The Magician King by Lev Grossman

Continue reading “BBW & The Magician King”


The Dalemark Quartet



Mertz! By the way, adding images to these posts is about the most frustrating thing I do, ever. So make sure you look at them, soak them up, take it all in, cause after this we’re moving on and you’re not allowed to scroll back up and take another gander.


Anyway, these two volumes hold a collection of four books that I absolutely adore. They’re full of the types of things any good fantasy should have: made up words, political intrigue, folk gods, and names that have vaguely Welsh spellings. (ALL fantasy names should have way too many vowels and throwing a y in unexpectedly makes it ten times better).

The series starts with a family of traveling minstrels. The kingdom of Dalemark is divided between the North & South. The earls in the North are comparably free-minded and allow their people more personal freedoms than the earls of the South. Thus there’s a sort of political tension between the two. Travelling back and forth is restricted except for business related travel which makes the Moril (the main character)’s father the perfect spy. Unsurprisingly, he is killed pretty early in the story. Continue reading “The Dalemark Quartet”

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

I found this book a couple years ago and dove into the challenge. It weighs in (in one volume) at about five pounds, or about 782 pages. And it’s a lovely masterpiece of intricate work.

The setting is Victorian England and the main characters are the first magicians in England in a thousand years or so. Mr Norrell is an academic magician who prefers a theoretical study and practice in his library. Mr. Strange is briefly Mr Norrell’s pupil but their views on a mysterious historical figure (The Raven King) and his role in magic clash as well as their views on the purpose of magic. Strange ends up with the Duke of Wellington on the continent fighting in the Napoleonic War while Mr Norrell is taunted by a fairy gentleman who helped him bring a young woman back to life. (After reading this book I came up with the idea for my short story & poem about Lord Nelson, The Duke’s contemporary). Continue reading “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell”

curious incidents

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon

So it appears that the internet and I (or more specifically WordPress and I) are friends again. Which is good, because I don’t think I could handle a break-up that big…

I’m only kidding. Don’t worry…

Let’s get to this thing. For starters, I love titles like this: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. It just makes you so intrigued. So you find the book, and you read it, and you discover that it’s a solid book worthy of enjoyment. Then you go to write a blog about it and realize that you’ll be typing that title over, and over, and over, and over again. And then you, like me, grow to hate the title of that book and wish the author had been slightly less inventive. Then a bit of guilt sets in because you realize that’s making negative wishes toward another creative AND diminishing the book you previously so greatly enjoyed. It’s a vicious cycle. This is why you should all be glad that I review books for you and you don’t have to do it yourself (wink). Continue reading “curious incidents”

a brief foray in Southern American Literature

Early in my career as a college student I chose classes with all the acuity of an epileptic baby seal. I was young in the process of figuring out that my love of reading was useful and not just a past-time I indulged on weekends. I was a Public Relations major taking about 9 out of 12 hours in Literature. Like I said, acuity of an epileptic baby seal.

One such class was Southern American Literature, an interesting genre for sure, not to be confused with Literature from South America (the continent). No, we spent the 18 weeks of the semester reading book after book filled with the insecurities and insanities of Americans raised in the Southern part of the United States. I read Other Voices, Other Rooms by Capote, John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain, and Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and of course William Faulkner’s The Sound and The Fury. It was a depressing semester.

In high school I’d taken an American Literature course. We started that class with a collection of essays written by an explorer traipsing through the swampy bits of the South. In college I got to revisit these essays. It turned the swampy, sandy landscape of Florida into a monster inhabited, humidity soaked, land of the crazies. (Just imagine the description of Alligators from a guy who had never seen anything like it before.)

Continue reading “a brief foray in Southern American Literature”

the elegance of the hedgehog

It seems to me that in recent months the hedgehog has become the hipster pet of choice. I’ve seen this picture on almost every website I frequently visit:

baby hedgehog

I’ll admit that a baby hedgehog is fairly cute. I’m not sure how much I’d thought of hedgehogs until recently with their rise as popular pets and of course this book entering my world –

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

I can admit, without reservation, and despite the year not having fully drawn to a close, that this is my favourite book of 2011. According to I’ve read about 51 books so far this year, or 13,750 pages. A lot of them were read for classes but since May they’ve all been for pleasure or curiosity. This one drew my attention out of sheer curiosity.

I’ll admit that I am a cover judger. That’s all a book really has to recommend itself if you are not familiar with the author. While I understand the lesson of the adage I do think that choosing books based upon their covers (and subsequently the summary either on the dust jacket or back) are perfectly acceptable ways to choose books. Continue reading “the elegance of the hedgehog”

birds & songs & thinking

I have a confession to make: I sort of miss non-fiction. I hated, loathed, detested, and abhorred non-fiction in high school. Then in college I started reading spiritual non-fiction; a little Rob Bell, a little Shane Claiborne, a little Erwin McManus. I was easily tricked into this genre because I was used to reading Bible Studies and, of course, my Bible. And then Into the Wild blew up (because of the movie) and John Krakauer entered my world.

I was a little behind. I’ll admit, but whenever I find something I enjoy I track down everything else that person has done and devour it. So, along with Ray Bradbury and Frank Delaney, I credit John Krakauer with giving me the courage to start telling stories. And I realized this morning as I began to process how I would review Imperfect Birds by Anne Lamott that I miss reading non-fiction. The last non-fiction I read was Talking to Girls about Duran Duran back in May. It taught me a lot about 80s music and how being a teenager hasn’t really changed since the 80s. Actually, I take that back… I read Love Wins. Continue reading “birds & songs & thinking”