TV Shows I Wish Were Real, and Other Stories

Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link


First Look:

It’s not the most striking cover ever, but it does fit the stories in one way:  despite being very similar to fairly well-known painting, on second glance it’s just a little bit different, just enough to make you wonder.  Link’s stories are all about the magic and weirdness hidden in the cracks of life.

Jacket Copy:

The nine stories in Link’s second collection are the spitting image of those in her acclaimed debut, Stranger Things Happen: effervescent blends of quirky humor and pathos that transform stock themes of genre fiction into the stuff of delicate lyrical fantasy. In “Stone Animals,” a house’s haunting takes the unusual form of hordes of rabbits that camp out nightly on the front lawn. This proves just one of several benign but inexplicable phenomena that begin to pull apart the family newly moved into the house as surely as a more sinister supernatural influence might. The title story beautifully captures the unpredictable potential of teenage lives through its account of a group of adolescent schoolfriends whose experiences subtly parallel events in a surreal TV fantasy series. Zombies serve as the focus for a young man’s anxieties about his future in “Some Zombie Contingency Plans” and offer suggestive counterpoint to the lives of two convenience store clerks who serve them in “The Hortlak.” Not only does Link find fresh perspectives from which to explore familiar premises, she also forges ingenious connections between disparate images and narrative approaches to suggest a convincing alternate logic that shapes the worlds of her highly original fantasies. Continue reading


Quick Takes #5: Finishing up 2013

It’s that time again: when I’m so behind, I have to do Quick Takes.  Here’s what I thought of the last few books I read in 2013.  There’s kind of a lot of them, so buckle up! Continue reading

Dark (and Light) Powers, Dark (and Light) Choices

Shadow and Bone & Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo


First Look:

So. Pretty.  And there are major clues to plot points hidden in the drawing, but they really only make sense once you’ve read it, so they don’t spoil anything.  Basically, it’s perfect.

Jacket Copy:

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him? Continue reading