Uniquely Portable Magic

Uniquely Portable Magic

The title of this blog is taken from the Stephen King quote "books are a uniquely portable magic".

4 Stars
The Clay Girl by Heather Tucker
The Clay Girl - Heather Tucker

I loved this story. The language was poetic but not just for the sake of being poetic - the way this book is written is part of the story itself.


The heroine, Ari Appleton, reminded me a little bit of Anne Shirley - another feisty, young girl in Canadian fiction whose life starts out rather sadly. However, unlike Anne of Green Gables, this is in no way a children's book. Ari's abusive father commits suicide and her drug-addicted mother can not look after Ari and her five sisters. The girls are split up and packaged off to various relatives - Ari ends up being sent to her aunt in Cape Breton, an island off the eastern coast of Canada and part of the province of Nova Scotia. At first I wondered what awful situation was in store for Ari but instead, for the first time in her young life, Ari is not being told that she is dirt. Rather, her aunt who is a potter, tells her that she is clay - malleable and full of possibilities.


Eventually Ari has to return to her mother and all the dysfunction that comes with her addiction. This, along with her father's abuse and suicide, shape many of Ari's choices as she enters adolescence in the 1960's - a time filled with drugs, sex and experimentation.

While sometimes dark, often humorous and always powerful, Ari's journey to adult-hood is a story that should not be missed.


I highly recommend this book - a must read.

Importing from Goodreads...

Apologies for the "spam" as I import my shelves and comments from GR.  It's fun to see some of my old posts and ratings but they definitely need some cleaning up!


Hope everyone is enjoying their Saturday as much as I am doing "bookish things".

3.5 Stars
The Nowhere Man by Gregg Hurwitz

I really enjoyed this second instalment in the Orphan X series. The pacing was not quite as frenetic as the first one however, I did enjoy the time spent continuing to flesh out Evan's back story and history. This time Evan Smoak - The Nowhere Man - finds the tables turned as he is abducted and held prisoner.


Taken as a child and trained to be an "off the books" assassin for the U.S. Government, Evan engineered his own exit from the programme and returned as a gun for hire...but not just any gun for hire. Evan is the assassin's version of Robin Hood, giving power to the weak and victimized by killing those that victimize them.


"He comes to those in greatest need of his protection".


I'm looking forward to the next instalment in the series - a definite add to my TBR shelf in 2018!

5 Stars
The Only Cafe by Linden MacIntyre
The Only Café: A Novel - Linden MacIntyre

One of my favourite reads in 2017!  I had absolutely no expectations when I found this at my local independent bookstore @BooksWordsWorth.  What caught my attention was the title because The Only Cafe is a real place - a self-described combination espresso bar and pub made famous by one of my favourite bands, The Lowest of the Low.  Their songs contain many references to Toronto landmarks, including "The Only" on Danforth Avenue in Toronto.  I've even been known to have a beer or two there myself...


"LINDEN MacINTYRE's bestselling first novel, The Long Stretch, was nominated for a CBA LIbris Award and his boyhood memoir, Causeway: A Passage from Innocence, won both the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Nonfiction and the Evelyn Richardson Prize. His second novel, The Bishop's Man, was a #1 national bestseller, won the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Dartmouth Book Award and the CBA Libris Fiction Book of the Year Award, among other honours. The third book in the loose-knit trilogy, Why Men Lie, was also a #1 national bestseller as well as a Globe and Mail "Can't Miss" Book for 2012. MacIntyre, who spent 24 years as the co-host ofthe fifth estate, is a distinguished broadcast journalist who has won ten Gemini awards for his work" - Penguin Random House Canada

In The Only Cafe, we meet Cyril Cormier who was a teenager when his father went missing after his boat exploded.  A successful lawyer, Pierre Cormier was embroiled in a corporate scandal at the time of his disappearance.  We quickly learn that Pierre had many secrets, not the least of which have to do with his country of birth - Lebanon which he fled because of a civil war.  The story starts five years after Pierre's disappearance when at last, he is legally declared dead after the discovery of a bone and piece of jewellery is linked definitively to him.  Instead of a funeral, Pierre Cormier requested a "roast" at The Only Cafe, an east end bar that his family had no idea he frequented.  Pierre also specified a guest list that included a name that his family did not recognize - Ari.


Cyril, now an intern for a television news station, begins looking into his fathers past, his link to the mysterious Ari and his eventual death in the unexplained boating accident.


The point of view changes between Cyril and his father and while I don't always enjoy books with changing POV's, in this case it flowed well and was necessary to the story.  The story switches between Cyril current day, Pierre as he dealt with the scandal just prior to the boating accident and Pierre's past in Lebanon. I knew nothing about the civil war in Lebanon and the massacre at the Sabra and Shatila camps in September of 1982 and while heartbreaking to read about, it should never be forgotten.  Linden McIntyre's knowledge of these events is evident in the details woven through the story.


I couldn't put this book down!  A wonderfully written, compelling story that mixes fact with fiction very effectively.  Highly recommended.  Don't miss it!

4 Stars
Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch

My rating: a solid 4 stars


Smartly written with references you can "geek out" over (from Sir Isaac Newton who in this world, systematized the practice of magic as well as modern science to J.R.R. Tolkien), I enjoyed the book which has a bit of a "Dresden Files" flavour to it. I like stories about wizards in general, particularly ones with apprentice wizards who are learning their craft. The author is obviously familiar with London and I enjoyed both the historical and current-day references to that city. I had to look up some of the "London slang" used and I also pulled out a map a few times to get perspective on the geography but found that an enjoyable part of the read - I actually learned a few things. The world building is interesting with the weaving in of Gods and Goddesses creative and unique.


Set in present-day London, the story is about Peter Grant, a newly minted constable in the London Metropolitan Police who quickly learns, to his surprise, that he can see and speak with ghosts. This earns him a permanent assignment with the magical division of the Met and an apprenticeship with Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale.


If I have a criticism, it's about the pace. I found the story a bit meandering at times although as I'm writing this, I'm wondering if that was intentional - a character trait of Peter's mentioned many times in the book is his lack of focus and certainly as a reader, I felt the same at times.


I will definitely continue reading the series.

5 Stars
The Alice Network
The Alice Network - Kate Quinn
4 Stars
Déjà Dead
Déjà Dead - Kathy Reichs
A rare "re-read" for me - still loved it.
3 Stars
Cannonbridge - Jonathan Barnes
2 Stars
Out - Natsuo Kirino, Stephen Snyder
Incredibly well-written but dark. Very dark.
5 Stars
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore - Robin Sloan
I can not say it any better than Cory Doctorow who described this book as "A geek's love poem to the 21st century....there is nothing in the book I didn't love."

One of my few 5 star ratings = one of my favourite books!
4 Stars
Night Broken
Night Broken - Patricia Briggs
I love this series. This was another great installment - good mystery that moves the overall story line and character development forward.
3 Stars
The Guilty Plea
The Guilty Plea -
Great legal mystery set in Toronto - I loved the familiar places!
4 Stars
The Dirty Streets of Heaven
The Dirty Streets of Heaven - Tad Williams
I am always amazed by this particular author's world building, lore and story. Tad William's ideas are unique. Often I read a book where the lore or plot or even a character seems to be simply a re-imagination from another book - this NEVER happens with a Tad Williams story.

I think this is the first book in a series and I am looking forward to next installment with enthusiasm.
3 Stars
Frost Burned
Frost Burned - Patricia Briggs
I love this series and am totally invested in the characters. This installment however was simply "meh". It felt a bit forced at times and the plot was predictable and without the usual twist at the end. I'm still a fan but looking forward to the next book in the series being more...more.
4 Stars
City of Golden Shadow by Tad Williams
City of Golden Shadow - Tad Williams

Dave has repeatedly urged me to read this book - or more correctly, this series of books (there are four) by Tad Williams.  I was at first overwhelmed by the length - without spoiling, Dave told me that if I read the first book I absolutely, positively had to read THE ENTIRE SERIES...that there was no point in assuming that I could just read the first book (and the first book alone is 790 pages). So this meant that I was committing to reading close to 4,000 pages.

Having just finished City of Golden Shadow (Otherland, #1), I now understand what he was trying to tell me - the four books in this series are really just one big story split into four parts - more so than any other series I have ever read.

However intimidating, I highly recommend the investment - a great cast of characters converge to fight against a secret cartel who create and run the most incredible virtual reality "simulation" ever created in order to achieve their own immortality.

On to book two...

4 Stars
Boneshaker - Cherie Priest
Dirigibles, zombies and a crazy inventor - can a story get any better?! This book has been on my "to read" list for a while now and I'm so glad it finally made it to the top. The author has built a fascinating and unique world. Great read!
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