The Magicians Trilogy by Lev Grossman: Is It Worth It?


As I am reading this trilogy I will update my thoughts on each book here, so be sure to keep on the lookout!

Here’s a short synopsis:

“Like everyone else, precocious high school senior Quentin Coldwater assumes that magic isn’t real, until he finds himself admitted to a very secretive and exclusive college of magic in upstate New York. There he indulges in joys of college-friendship, love, sex, and booze- and receives a rigorous education in modern sorcery. But magic doesn’t bring the happiness and adventure Quentin thought it would. After graduation, he and his friends stumble upon a secret that sets them on a remarkable journey that may just fulfill Quentin’s yearning. But their journey turns out to be darker and more dangerous than they’d imagined. Psychologically piercing and dazzlingly inventive, The Magicians, the prequel to the New York Times bestselling book The Magician King and the #1 bestseller The Magician’s Land, is an enthralling coming-of-age tale about magic practiced in the real world-where good and evil aren’t black and white, and power comes at a terrible price.”

The Magicians, Book One: I have to say that with this book, I was at constant war with myself over if I was actually enjoying it or just being dragged along. Our main protagonist, Quentin, is a bit of a depressive whiner. He goes on and on about how nothing ever measures up to being good enough, how unhappy he is with his life, etc. Myself, I’m a sees-the-glass-half-full-type and just could not connect with him, at all. Yes, he is a teenager but he’s 18, not a brooding 15 year old. In fact, all of the characters participated in this self-destructive and mopey manner, never fully growing out of it. Time to man up there, son.

Lev Grossman is a super writer and it is pretty obvious why he’s a book critic for TIME Magazine. He certainly has a way with words which may be one of the main reasons that I was able to push myself through to finish this book. He was able to fully create a completely new world that soars above the crowded fantasy genre. I was truly engaged in Brakebills and Fillory, feeling the same need as Quentin to just lock myself away there. But come on, Lev, couldn’t you have done a bit more with Q?

The Magicians, Page 216

If only they had listened to Fogg…

The story did tend to weave in and out of exciting and boring at a steady pace throughout the book. The lulls seemed to be there to induce us into a pessimistic outlook, much like our friend Quentin had. Perhaps, as most critics and reviewers pointed out, my trouble was that I was constantly seeing the comparisons between Harry Potter and Narnia. It was a jumbled, adult mixture of the two stories.

If this was a satire on the fantasy genre in general, as has been speculated, then Grossman definitely succeed at what he set out to do. He gave us a drunken, sometimes misogynistic, self-deprecating Potter, and let him loose upon the literary world.

Final Verdict: 3/5 stars – Will finish the trilogy to see if our characters ever actually grow up. Fingers crossed.

The Magician King, Book Two: Honestly, this book made for quite engaging read when compared to the first story. It takes a while to really get to the exciting parts, but it does have a much better flow than the previous one.

There was more depth to the characters in this book, especially with Julia. She was hands down my favorite character (though Poppy is great, too!). I loved how we got her back story as well, alternating between that and the present. It really helped flesh out her character which I think was a problem when it came to Quentin, though I have developed a bit of a theory on that one. Everyone talks about the misogynistic tones that seem to be found in this trilogy, myself included. However, after reading this one and comparing it to the first book, I think Grossman is actually arguing the opposite. The male characters only perceive the women as fun sidekicks to help pass the time with (if you know what I mean), but in the end, the women end up being the actual heroes and I think that is what Grossman wants us to realize. Yay for heroines!!

Final Verdict: 4/5 stars – I’m actually looking forward to seeing how the one ends!

%22Wishes are for children,%22 Jane CHaTwIN said. %22I grew up.%22-2

The Magician’s Land, Book Three: Alright guys, I take back everything I said – this book was GREAT! Seriously, if you can make it through the first two then you are in for a treat.

You know how I have been complaining nonstop about how everyone is depressive and selfish and whiney? Well that’s the thing about book series I guess, characters actually get to develop. However, you have to wait to wait for Quentin to do it until book three. He finally loses that nobody-really-loves-or-understands-me emo nonsense and actually develops into a character that you can enjoy. I loved Q in this book. Adulthood looks good on him. I appreciated Janet’s POV in this book too. You got to see a different side to her which made me like her just a tiny bit more (though she will never be my favorite).

The plot was much more fast paced in this book than the previous two, as well. It starts out strong and never really slows down any, which I definitely appreciated. I enjoyed how all of the moving parts finally came together, with all of the characters and storylines seamlessly blended. THAT FINALE! Loved it. As the final book in this trilogy, it was definitely a winner for me. All good series should just keep getting better with each book and I am so glad that was the case here.

I definitely recommend this series to anyone if you’re looking for something a little different and/or love you some urban fantasy. If the first book doesn’t excite you, don’t worry and try to stick it out because the third book will (hopefully)!

Final Verdict: 5/5 – YAY!!!

The POPSUGAR 2016 Reading Challenge

I love POPSUGAR. It is a great lifestyle website that has some really good articles, especially when it comes to books. Their annual reading challenges are pretty popular with avid and casual readers alike. These reading challenges help introduce people to some different books that they might not normally think to look at. For me, I always check out the challenge but never stick to it.

This year, I will.

The 2016 reading challenge is filled with some pretty interesting categories, a few that I’m not necessarily excited about, but that’s the whole point. As I go through this challenge and check each item off of the list, I hope that my outlook changes and I start to look forward to the new and different. Poetry? Yeah, not really my thing. Graphic novel? I think that’s like a comic book but sure, why not. Maybe I will learn to appreciate all that the literary world has to offer, not just my little slice of it. Maybe I won’t. But as the saying goes, you won’t know until you try it.

For myself, I’ve already set my Goodreads Reading Challenge for the year at 100 books. Some people may look at that number and balk, thinking I’m a crazy person for setting such an outrageous goal. However, by doing reading challenges like POPSUGAR’s, that number starts to look somewhat reasonable. It’s giving you a goal, driving you to pick up that book to finish your challenge, rather than watch another episode of The Real Housewives (guilty as charged!). For my book reviews, if a particular book helps check off any items on the list, then I will be sure to let you know. Everyone enjoys a hint, right? I’ve already gotten to check off 2 items – A book that’s over 600 pages (thanks Drums of Autumn!) and a dystopian novel (hello, Ready Player One!).

 Reading is supposed to be a journey, an escape. It takes you out of your comfort zone and brings your imagination to life. So join me in this year’s challenge. You never know where it could lead you.


Our wonderful friends over at POPSUGAR even included this amazing printable so that you can check off each item as you finish it. How nice of them!

So, are you in?

Ready Player One: An Oasis for Nerds

Ready Player One: 4/5 stars

Full Disclosure – I am a nerd. Loud and proud. I read every single day (if possible), can quote way more movies than should be possible, and have spent a horrendous amount of hours playing all kinds of video and computer games. WoW? Check. Skyrim? You betcha. LoL? Yeah, I see you over there. Super Mario? Hey-yo! Okay, I’m sure you get the idea. This is probably a reason why I think so highly of Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.

“In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.”

Cline grabbed me immediately with his use of pop culture references and the world he created. Reading this book felt like I was sitting and watching someone play the most epic MMORPG (massive multiplayer online game), and I loved that. However, some people who haven’t played these types of games are unfamiliar with the terms used in them, might find themselves lost or confused at times throughout the book. Cline does do a good job of explaining what most of them mean, so don’t let that deter you from picking up this book! It is fast-paced and exciting, with a very interesting take on the not-so-distant future. So exciting in fact, that Steven Spielberg  is bringing it to the big screen in 2017. Yeah, it is THAT good.

For me, the biggest issue that I had with this book was the main character, Wade Watts. He came across as a bit pretentious with all of his random 80’s pop culture knowledge. He tended to go off on these long inner monologues about each little tidbit that he shared with the reader. It’s obvious that he should know a heck of a lot due to his “gunter” status, which just means that he’s obsessed with solving the puzzle first. In reality, this isn’t really the fault of the character, but with Cline.

By trying to impress us with his immense library of trivia, he tends to disrupt the flow of the novel and push the reader away. I felt my eyes glazing over whenever this occurred and I hated that because I typically love learning about new things. It just became too much for me. I found myself questioning how it could be possible that a teenager would know even a 1/3 of what Wade seemed to know. It just logically didn’t make sense to me. So in some areas, instead of focusing on the book, I was too busy shaking my head in disbelief.

 It is probably most suitable to teens and adults due to some the mature language used, so try not to recommend it to your neighbor’s 12 year old kid just because he enjoys playing Halo. However, as a whole, Ready Player One is a fun-filled futuristic ride. A ride that every gamer probably wishes they were a part of. And thanks to Cline, we can be for a little while.

Have you read Ready Player One? What were your thoughts on the story?

Anyone?… Bueller?

January Owlcrate Review

Owlcrate is a monthly subscription literary box that costs $29.99 plus shipping. It is a bit more costly than some other subscription boxes but they do a very good job of making sure the items you receive are worth the price. Each month, Owlcrate has a theme so all of your goodies go together. Another good thing about Owlcrate is that they ship worldwide! No matter where you are, you will never have to worry about missing out! They also offer different payment plans, such as month-to-month, 3 month, and 6 month plans. They also do gift boxes so you can send a box to your friend of family!

 This month’s theme was MAGIC!


The items received this month included, a POP figure from Funko, an exclusive bookmark and poster from Evie Bookish, some Harry Potter lip balm, the code for the ebook – A Knot in Grain, and a hardcover of the newly released book, Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley.

POP Figure: I have never quite understood the new obsession with POP figures. They make cute bookshelf decor, so maybe that’s the point? Either way, this is the first time that Owlcrate has included one in their boxes. They sent out 5 different figures from Harry Potter and I received Prof. Snape. I actually really like this because with the passing of the great Alan Rickman last week, there was definitely some sentimental value to this for me. He looks wonderful on my bookshelf now!

Patronus Lip Balm: This is a full-sized lip balm from Geek Fire Labs. I love that it’s Harry Potter themed as well. It’s really nice and smooth and does moisturize your lips real well. There is no color to this balm which makes it good for layering and works for guys, too!

Bookmark and Poster: These were both created for Owlcrate by Evie Bookish. I like them both but haven’t yet read the books that they are from. The bookmark is inspired by The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater and the print is a quote from Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. The colors in the print are fantastic and I can’t wait to frame it and add it to my gallery wall.

Book: This month’s book is Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley. It is a fantasy retelling of the lives of the Brontë sisters. In this story, the youth are able to literally escape into the stories that they have created! This is a very interesting story that I cannot wait to read. There is also a beautiful paper doll kit that comes with the book. I also appreciate how the authors of the books included in Owlcrate send a personal letter, which I find very sweet and touching.

This month was fantastic! I encourage anyone who is interested in a literary subscription box to definitely consider Owlcrate as their first choice!

Are you a subscriber? What did you think about the items included in the month’s box? Leave a comment and let me know!

January Uppercase Book Subscription Review

I love subscription boxes. I think they are a really fun way to discover some new and interesting products/companies. And subscription boxes focusing on all things literary? SIGN ME UP. However, sometimes the price tags just do not add up to what each company includes in their boxes. They also can vary from month to month which can lead to some unhappy campers. Well that is why I am here, to give some perspective and helpful advice on what box is for you…

Uppercase Box

This subscription service is a bit different than some of the other ones. They do not ship in an actual box but in a really cute cloth bag. Mine makes a wonderful travel makeup bag! Uppercase offers two different options for your monthly subscription, the Expert ($23) and the Book Exclusive ($17). The former includes a newly released hardback YA book, signed book or bookplate by the author, 1-2 bookish items, a reading experience with exclusive content, and a personal handwritten note from the author. The second (and cheaper) option, includes everything but the extra bookish items. However, fair warning to everyone, they only ship to the U.S. ($6 fee) and Canada ($24 fee) at this time.

In January’s box I received the book, Truthwitch by Susan Dennard, a poster for the book with a quote on oneside and a map on the other, an adorable pair of nerdy socks, and the cutest little literary coloring book. I have read some great reviews for Truthwitch on Goodreads so I am pretty excited to get started on it! I hope it lives up to the hype as there going to be 4 books total in the series. The socks are extremely cute and thin enough where they won’t make your feet sweat (which happens to me quite a bit). As for the coloring book, I am obsessed! It is the perfect travel size, perfect for road trips or plane rides. It has a couple of pages devoted to each of these children’s classic – Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, The Secret Garden, The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I am so excited to add this to my collection of coloring books, as you can obviously tell!

All in all, this month was a great box and I am definitely looking forward to the February box! I highly recommend this box to anyone who loves Young Adult books as it is an exclusive YA box. The books they include are always newly released that month so you never have to worry about already owning the book. So, what are you waiting for?!

A Review: The Outlander Series

**Tiny Spoil Alert**

I’ll admit it, I am a sucker for a good romance. I don’t mean those cheesy Nora Ephron stories that my Nana cannot get enough, no offense to Nora Ephron fans. I am talking about an exciting, well-written, can’t-put-it-down type novel where the romance is just one facet of it. Naturally, this means that The Outlander series and I were meant to be. I’ll leave a trusty Goodreads synopsis here…

“The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord…1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.”

Diana Gabaldon did such an amazing job with blending fact and fiction in her time traveling series. As a history buff, I really appreciate the time she took with her research to be able to toss in such wonderful little details that if you blink, you will miss (kind of like my hometown). Her writing is also superb, painting a vivid picture but never getting so wordy or long that your eyes glaze over, and yes I am referring to our good friend Tolkien.

I will say that the length of the books may deter some from picking them up as they average over 800 pages per book and with around 10 books in the series, that is a serious undertaking. However, I have spoken with a lot of people who quit reading once the series moves from focusing on Claire and Jamie, to their daughter, Brianna. So if length is your worry, then have no fear. Do what works best and feels right for you.

Ah, Claire and Jamie. Gabaldon is a master at character building and you can really see the growth and change of the characters throughout the series. Jamie is epitome of what you picture when you think of Scottish Highlander, tall, red-haired, with the looks and build of a Viking. He’s your typical macho warrior but with some real depth that you immediately connect to. Claire is a no-nonsense, field nurse from WWII that is pretty stubborn and brings a bit of modern feminism to 18th century Scotland, which of course is not going to be easily accepted. Their relationship is quite epic to watch.

This leads me to explain why I probably will not finish out the series. Brianna. She is the daughter of Claire and Jamie and as a character, I just do not connect with her. I find her story a bit boring and her, a tad whiny. I don’t think I can suffer through books that will begin to focus solely on her, so I will probably stop before it gets to that point.

All in all, the series is pretty fantastic but I do want to point out that for me personally, the first 200 pages are the most challenging to get through but once you get past that point things really start to happen and you won’t want to put it down. I found that to be true for almost every book in the series. Also, Starz, has completed the first season of their show Outlander which is based off the books. It is fantastic, nominated for both People’s Choice and the Golden Globes. The second season should be airing this spring so you have plenty of time to catch up. Check it out! And by that, I mean the books and the show.

As I am currently in the middle of this series, I will come back and update as I finish each book. So watch out for new updates!

Outlander (Outlander #1): 4/5 stars

Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander #2): 5/5 stars

Voyager (Outlander #3): 3.5/5 stars

Drums of Autumn (Outlander #4): 3/5 stars – Okay, I just finished this one and in my opinion, it was the worst so far. The plot dragged on far too much where nothing was really happening. It was a struggle to finish and that really upsets me as the series started out so well. I also cannot stand Brianna. She is a bit of a brat and basically causes too many problems. I think I will have to come back later to attempt to finish the series and move on from it, for now.

New Year, New You?

Every year, we decide to make that dreaded New Year’s resolution and if you’re like me, you know well beforehand that the likelihood of it succeeding is next to nothing. Want to lose 30 pounds by the end of summer? Planning to ask for that raise at work? I, for one, do hope to shed a little of that extra winter padding before springtime rolls around. However, have you ever stopped to ask yourself why do so many of these resolutions fall through? I did a bit of soul searching the other night and realized why mine don’t always go as planned… Because in actuality, my resolutions are things that sound really good but not something I will actually ENJOY doing. Hence, leading me to the epiphany of creating this blog.

I love to read. It is one of the few hobbies (in my opinion) that provide more than just some silly entertainment. Reading increases vocabulary, introduces you to new ideas, and most importantly, connects every single one of us. As the old cliche goes, “You are not alone”. Very soothing, huh? All jokes aside, it’s the truth. I immediately feel a connection whenever I see someone browsing a bookstore or reading on public transportation, heck, I even consider every member of Goodreads to be a friend. They know how I feel. We both get excited that first time we sit down to start a new book. We both feel that tinge of pride whenever we glance at our bookshelves. I bet you’re carrying around a book in your purse or backpack right now, just waiting for a few spare minutes? Yeah, me too!

Did we just become best friends? Yup!

See?! The connection is real.

So now that we have become best friends, I hope you’ll join me in creating a new kind of resolution this year. Losing inches or increasing the size of your pocketbook? Nope, not in 2016. This year we are going to expand our minds.

My 2016 resolution is to blog about all of the wonderful books I will be reading this year and share my thoughts on them with you. I am going to embrace and welcome “the connection”! Make a resolution of your own with me and go for that higher reading challenge from last year or maybe try branching out from your little genre corner and grab that murder mystery instead of the same ‘ol science fiction. Feel free to keep me updated on how your literary adventure is going and any thoughts you may have on mine. Hey, you never know, this may just end up being fun. 😉

My reading challenge this year is to read at least 100 books and bring them to you.

What’s yours?