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Portable Magic

Reading, for me, is entertainment and an escape from the real world. But it can also inform and stretch the boundaries of the life I live.

Currently reading

The Island of Sea Women
Lisa See
The Deep
Alma Katsu
Progress: 73 %
Dear Life: Stories
Alice Munro
Progress: 175/336 pages
Invisible Man
Ralph Ellison
Progress: 28 %
The Mystery at Lilac Inn
Carolyn Keene
100 Hair-Raising Little Horror Stories
Gary Raisor, Richard Chizmar, Al Sarrantonio, Avram Davidson
Progress: 70/512 pages
Leading Change
John P. Kotter
Peanuts Classics
Charles M. Schulz
Progress: 66 %
The Bungalow Mystery
Carolyn Keene
Progress: 192/192 pages
The Bungalow Mystery #3
Carolyn Keene
Progress: 192/192 pages

The Deep - 17%

The Deep - Alma Katsu

This book is just all over the place. The combination of timeline-jumping and character-jumping and retrospectives during the character-jumping leave you with no coherent narrative to follow. A few of the characters are at least mildly interesting, so I'll keep soldiering along, but if things don't start settling down and coming together and telling a single story, I'm out of here. 

Dear Life - pg 91/336

Dear Life: Stories - Alice Munro

She had existed and now she did not. Not at all, as if not ever. And people hurried around, as if this outrageous fact could be overcome by making sensible arrangements. He, too, obeyed the customs, signing where he was told to sign, arranging - as they said - for the remains.



Oh how I love Goodreads

I just flagged it. No need to feed the trolls. 

A Scandal in Bohemia ★★★☆☆

A Scandal in Bohemia -  Arthur Conan Doyle

I appreciate the intrigue, and that Holmes was actually a little delighted that he was outsmarted (and out-acted) by a woman, but I'm a little puzzled as to why the Grand Duke insists that a woman who has been blackmailing him is a "woman of her word" and won't expose him now.  


Audiobook, part of the enormous Audible "Sherlock Holmes" compilation of works read by Stephen Fry. I'm slowly working my way through it. I'll be listening to the rest of the short stories in "Adventures of" later. 

Dear Life - pg 47/336

Dear Life: Stories - Alice Munro

Ahhh. I love Munro's ability to write a simple story about normal people in normal situations and to somehow make them so very interesting. 

PM’s BL-opoly – Update #2

Well my first roll was a bust and didn't net me any BLopoly dollars. But I think I'll have better luck with my second roll.


Books with trees on the cover are pretty easy to come by, so I decided to limit it to books that actually had a woodsy sort of cover and came up with a collection of short stories that I've had on my TBR for a while. 


Dear Life: Stories - Alice Munro 

Everneath ★★☆☆☆

Everneath - Brodi Ashton

I'm not sure it's possible for a book to fail the Bechdel test when there are no actual conversations in the first 50 pages, but this one seems to fail the intent, anyway. This re-imagining of the Persephone myth has an interesting premise and (what I read of it) is well-written. But our main character is wholly defined by (and obsesses over) her relationships to people with penises, with a token "best friend" with whom she exchanges three sentences, outside of hellos and goodbyes. 


I just am not the target audience for this kind of book. DNF at page 50.


Hardcover, signed by the author, who seemed like a very engaging person at her book tour. 


I was reading this for the Booklikes-opoly 2020 game, for the lot Stay-cation 8: Read a book that was published during the months of May, June or July, or that contains an item that would be used as a school supply or an article of clothing or an accessory pictured on the cover. This book has a girl in a dress on the cover. With half her head cut off, in true YA cover fashion. Since I DNF'd early, I don't earn any $$ for it. 

Agent to the Stars ★★★★★

Agent to the Stars - Wil Wheaton, John Scalzi

Okay, maybe not objectively 5 stars, but this book was just exactly what I needed right now. It's a little silly on the surface, but the goofy premise and light humor and bantering dialogue camouflage some serious themes, one of which surprise-smacked me in the face towards the end. Because it was there all along, I just didn't notice because I was laughing. 


Audiobook, via Audible, and Wil Wheaton's performance was as perfect as always. 


Thanks for the rec, Char. You never steer me wrong. 

PM’s BL-opoly – Update #1

Yes, I'm using the coronavirus for my marker. Sorry. 




Everneath - Brodi Ashton 


I have relatively low expectations for this book. YA romance really is not my thing, but I met the author at the book tour and brought home a signed copy and some promotional swag, so it's been sitting on my bookshelf for 8 years, unread, staring accusingly at me every time I pass it over for another book. I guess it's time. 

I love used book surprises

I forgot to mention the happy surprise I found tucked into my copy of The Smith of Wootton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham! It's just a promotional paper bookmark for a now-defunct local bookstore chain that revolutionized bookselling in the 1980's, before it was (ironically) run out of business by the big box stores like Borders. But I love bookmarks, and this is a fun little piece of local history. 

100 Hair-Raising Little Horror Stories - 70/512 pg

100 Hair-Raising Little Horror Stories - Gary Raisor, Richard Chizmar, Al Sarrantonio, Avram Davidson

This anthology has been the perfect palate-cleanser between books for me. None of the stories are more than a few pages long, and it's a fun mix of classic and modern authors, with very few duds so far. I just finished stories by Henry Slesar, Richard Chizmar, Avram Davidson, and Gary Raisor. Chizmar is the only one I'd even heard of. 

Smith of Wootton Major / Farmer Giles of Ham ★★★★★

Smith of Wootton Major / Farmer Giles of Ham - J.R.R. Tolkien

I admit I'm biased, but I loved these two short stories as much now as I did when I was a little kid just discovering Tolkien. I feel as though they represent both his love of the heroic and the mysteriously romantic nature seen in LotR, but also his affectionately scathing take on human nature seen in The Hobbit. With SoWM illustrating the first and FGoH the second. I think these would be a good intro to Tolkien for anyone hesitant to make the larger commitment to his novels. 


Paperback version, found at my public library's Friends of the Library sale. 

Fear of Flying - pg 0/480

Fear of Flying - Erica Jong

LOL book genie what are you trying to do to me? I somehow got my hands on this when I was still in elementary school and had NO IDEA what I was reading. Let's see what I make of it now...

Gods of Jade and Shadow (DNF) ★★☆☆☆

Gods of Jade and Shadow - Silvia Moreno-Garcia

This was mildly interesting but there were just too much teenaged angst and too many YA tropes for me to enjoy it.


DNF at 25%

Audiobook, borrowed from my public library via overdrive.

Reading progress update: I've read 25%.

Gods of Jade and Shadow - Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I don't know if I'm going to finish this. It's not bad, and mostly enjoyable, but very YA-ish and I'm not in the mood for mawkish teenaged angst. 

Invisible Man - 29%

Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison

Well, OB was definitely right about this one. My attempt to read the text version was not nearly as exciting as listening to Joe Morton angrily declaiming in my ears. So I'm back to the audio, but it is slow going, because there is so much emotion that I can only take it in with very small sips. 


I wish I could find a clip of him on one of the rants, but you can get an idea of his cadence and emotion in this sample of him reading Ellison's explanation of invisibility