The Magicians: A Trickster Trilogy

I’ve had a hate-hate relationship with Lev Grossman since the mid-2000s. I read his novel Codex and promptly awarded it the second worse book I’d ever read prize. Thus, when the hub-bub about the Magician’s Series began, I duly ignored all the things I was told.

However, the raving persisted. I had numerous people who knew I was a big reader recommend these books to me. Finally, when the Editor purchased them I relented and finally agreed to give the first of the trilogy a go.

I admit, I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t terrible. It wasn’t fantastic, but it intrigued me enough to read the second one. So, I read it, and Mr. Grossman burned me again. I felt like I had been sucker punched. His “not-so terrible” first book caused me to give him just enough rope that he could hang me with the second one. I was disturbed and annoyed.

I was very unsure if I would read the final book in the series. I didn’t need more trauma, but I am a completionist. The Editor read it first. She really liked it and thought I should give it a try. She said it had a different vibe than the others.

She was correct. The last book does have a very different feel and on the whole is really good. It is the best book in the series. It’s probably one of the best finishes to a trilogy I’ve read. This is really unusual. My experience with trilogies is that the first book is wonderful, but they lose steam and disappoint in the end. So, the fact this series doesn’t graph in a linear decline but rather a heart rate monitor where the last super cedes the first is interesting and rare.  But where does this leave Mr. Grossman and me?

Well I think I can say that the relationship has been promoted to love-hate and that I will consider his future novels. But I’ll probably have the Editor read them first before I dive in.

In the end, I’m glad I read the series middle book and all. I’ve also realized that some authors do deserve a second maybe even a third chance. People grow in their writing just like readers do in their reading. It’s just something to think about the next time someone recommends a book to you by an author who’s previous work wasn’t your cup of tea.

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Something to Chew On

At the book swap a while back, I saw Choke sitting on the shelf.  Chuck Palahniuk’s name stuck out.  While I, of course, have heard of the famed Fight Club I have not read the book or seen the movie. Nevertheless, I was intrigued by the infamous Chuck.

When I mentioned the book, my friend said it was great. She yanked it off the shelf and threw it in my to-be-read pile.  It’s a short book, so I figured it might be a good introduction to his style.

Mr. Palahniuk did not disappoint. I would equate him with the likes of Quentin Tarantino. Their work is stylistic, brazen, and pushes the boundaries of all decorum.  It seems that Chuck is not seeking to be known as a great or even a good writer although he is.  He is seeking for you to pay attention.

Weirdly, while the main character, Victor, appears to have little to no redeeming qualities, there is something gripping about him… Namely the fact that he knows he has very few redeeming qualities.

Yeah, he’s a con man with a sex addiction; yet, he’s strangely human. He demonstrates the rawness of humanity and while he is far from being a hero, he is also far from being a villain despite his best efforts.

Choke is not a book for all.  It, like Pulp Fiction, is a great work but not something everyone is going to be able to stomach.  It’s vulgar and unrelenting.  There is a message and there isn’t a message, all at the same time.

I think Chuck probably gets a good chuckle out of screwing with people’s heads, and the angrier he can make you, the better.  Chuck plays a game where you shouldn’t look too deep because if you do, you’ve fallen victim to wanting there to be more. But you should try to look below the surface, because there’s a hint of something going on behind the façade. Just what exactly that is, however, is difficult to determine. What I’m trying to say it’s a game. Are you smart enough to figure it out or are you going to be the poor schmuck that gets duped? If you’re up for a different kind of book and understand what you’re getting into, Choke can be a very enjoyable read.

A Bite-Sized Review: A Movable Feast

Here is little review to munch on this Tuesday morning!  Happy reading everyone!

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Title: A Movable Feast; Author: Ernest Hemmingway; Genre: Non-Fiction/Memoir

The Gist- Musings and anecdotes about Mr. Hemmingway’s experience of living in Paris in the early 1920s.

What Stuck- The book struck me as a bit odd.  It’s disjointed and seems random.  And yet philosophical. I mentioned this to my mother who informed me that this was Hemmingway’s style. Since I haven’t read anything else by Mr. Hemmingway I was unaware of this, but not particularly fond of it.

Should you give a flip?- I can’t say you should. I want to say that it’s an interesting read, but I can’t describe why I feel compelled to say that.  I guess it was comforting to read that many of the greats out there struggle as much as the average joe. There…that lack of clarity pretty much reflects the book. Use your own discretion.

An Action Adventure: The Templar Legacy

Happy Friday everyone! We’ve made it to the end of the week. And since there is a lot of Friday-ness to celebrate, I thought a quick little review might be nice just in case you are in need of some weekend reading recommendations.

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Title: The Templar Legacy; Author: Steve Berry; Genre: Fiction

The Gist– An action-packed adventure about lost treasure and the Knights Templar.

What Stuck A new take on a secret brotherhood’s story that never gets old. I never get sick of this tale and Berry gives it a new angle making it all the more interesting.

Should you give a flip?- Yes.  If you liked The DiVinci Code or the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, this is going to be your kind of book.

A Little Extra Love

In my last post, I gave a quick review of The Little Paris Bookshop. I acknowledged that I could go on-and-on about this read and one of the reasons was due to its elegant prose.  Ms. George seems to have the ability to say things in ways that make me envious.

While I loved this book, I almost did not post a review because it’s one of the rare books I’ve read and enjoyed so much that I’m afraid to share it.  I’m afraid to shout to the world about this book for fear that people will not like it nearly as much as I do.  This thought is quite unbearable to me.

However, I feel that not telling the world is just as unjust.  Thus, I wrote the review, and I have decided to take it one step further and technically break my own rule about book reviews and over-pontification.  But what are rules without an exception or two?

I do not wish to spoil the plot, character-development or all the wonderful verbiage, but I would like to offer a taste.

From the very beginning, George sets a standard of striking comparisons.  A character tells the protagonist, “You are cashmere compared with the normal yarn from which men are spun.”  I will fully admit that it’s lines like this that make my eyebrows meet my hair line, and my head cock to the side in interest and intrigue.

The story, as mentioned in the review, is an emotional one and probably relatable for most of us who have loved and lost. Perhaps that’s why for me certain lines seemed to ring so true.

“It’s amazing how unimpressed people are by being loved when it doesn’t fit in with their plans.  Love irks them so much that they change the locks or leave without warning.”

I read this line about four times in utter awe.  We are so thunderstruck when someone doesn’t love us, but we can be so indifferent to being loved.  Perhaps because it’s too accessible and easy.  There is definitely some truth in the idea of playing hard to get.  Just nobody had put it to me quite this starkly.

I will not ruin it by saying anymore; that is the taste I will offer. And if this was intriguing then I would say this wonderful novel is one for you.  I realize this post was in many ways self-indulgent, but I feel that words that strike me like this are rare and deserve some pointed praise.

Checking Reading Snobbery

I need to be knocked down a peg in my reading attitude.  I recently read The Templar Legacy by Steve Berry. It is an action/adventure type story centering on the myths surrounding the Templar knights and the Crusades.  I went into it thinking that it would be like every other action/adventure book I’ve read.  But I was low on reading material, and figured it would fill the void until I could get something “better” to read.

However, once I began, I found the story to be exciting and intriguing. It then struck me I had begun to look at books of this type as “low brow.”  I felt ashamed, and I scolded myself about this.  A good story is a good story and that’s all the matters.  Furthermore, who am I to dub things as low or high on the brow spectrum?

These books might not have flowery verbiage, and probably won’t ascend to the place of Sense and Sensibility or A Tale of Two Cities. However, they still took a tremendous amount of effort and research to produce, particularly books like Mr. Berry’s where he mixes a sizable helping of history into his plot. They may be somewhat formulaic, but they keep me reading and that’s the whole point of a good book.

These books are a bit like the Die Hard movies.  Everyone knows they won’t be winning Oscars or other notable film accolades, but the general population will love them because they are action packed with a splash of comedy.  They are pure entertainment and that’s simply wonderful.

I don’t want to read these exclusively like I once did when I was in high school, but these books should not be looked down upon.  And I sometimes need to remind my occasionally snobby arse that reading anything and everything has merit and adds perspective to a reading repertoire.  Things are gained in mysterious places, so keeping a broad range of reading is not only rewarding, but important.

I’m going to delight in these reads to the nth degree because all books deserve a chance, and I’m glad all types of books exist.  It keeps life interesting, and that’s what I’m looking for.  So, here’s to entertaining action novels.

Yippee ki-ay mother fucker.

Throwing it Back- The Curious Incident…

Book review round two! It’s an older one, but for those of you who missed it initially like I did.  Here’s a quick look to spark your interest.

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Title: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time; Author: Mark Haddon; Genre: Mystery/Fiction

 

The Gist– An interesting and unique story told through the eyes of an autistic teenage boy.

What Stuck The main character is shown to be a striking combination of genius and disabled simultaneously.

Should you give a flip?- Yes.  This is a short read that opens a little understood world to the general masses.