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review 2017-05-15 18:03
Knots not worth untangling
The Lace Reader - Brunonia Barry

Copy obtained through local public library.  I don't know the author nor have I ever had any communication with her about this book or any other matter.


I began reading the book a couple of weeks ago, but only got a few pages into it before being interrupted.  I set it aside, then went back and started over when I was sure I would have more time.  By page 103 of 385, I knew the struggle wasn't going to be worth it.  I always think it's my fault that a book isn't working, so I checked out some of the other reviews -- I almost never read reviews before I read the book -- and found I wasn't alone.


No spoilers here, because I didn't finish the book and I'm not likely to.


Towner Whitney, whose real name is Sophya, comes back to Salem, Massachusetts, after 15 years in California.  Her grandmother/great-aunt Eva has disappeared.  I think Towner was raised by Eva, but I'm not sure.  Towner admits she lies a lot, and also that she doesn't remember things well because she had a nervous breakdown after her sister Lyndley died.


I think Towner's mother is May, who lives on a little island and rescues abused women and their children, but the family relationships aren't really clear.  Auntie Emma is Eva's daughter, I think, but again I'm not sure.  Beezer is Towner's brother.


Quirky characters are great if you can keep them straight and each becomes a real person.  None of these people did, not even Towner.  Her quirks were too inconsistent, too unexplained.  She can read people's minds and she hears voices -- especially Eva's and Lyndley's -- and she can read lace (it's kind of like reading tea leaves or some such) but there doesn't seem to be any purpose to it.


Towner dwells on her mental illness but doesn't really seem to care very much about it.  She doesn't have any direction or motivation or even any emotion.  And yet I got the impression that she wanted people around her to care about her.  I'm not sure that that's the impression author Brunonia Barry intended to convey, but it's the one I got.


As a result, I just didn't like Towner, and it's difficult for me to continue to read a book when I don't give a shit about the main character.


The book is well written in the technical sense, and I'm assuming the details of Salem and its environs are accurate, but everything fell flat for me.  It's like a book that a bunch of ladies read for their Tuesday afternoon book club, and they all think it's wonderful and deep and literary and quirky, but they really don't understand it and aren't sure they even like it.  They read it to impress their friends.  The sexy parts embarrass them -- though to be honest, I hadn't encountered any really sexy parts in the first 103 pages -- or horrify them, but for the most part they really don't understand the sexy parts.  They read books like this because it makes them feel somehow superior, even though as soon as they reach the end and move on to the next book, this one is forgotten.


I'll probably forget it, too.


Also posted at


and I may expand it there.

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review 2017-03-17 14:35
Great Story and Characters
Some Practical Magic - Laurie C. Kuna

Cassandra/Cassie is a witch and had turned ninety and her mother was on her butt because she wanted to see Cassie married. Then her mother reminded her witches didn’t live much past two hundred and twenty years. Cassie’s mother was Medusa. Cassie was a journalist but also wrote some nonfiction books. She was going on a book tour . Endora was Cassie’s car/ familiar. For the last ten years Cassie had written a column on household hints ( also what her books were about)  called “ The Kitchen Witch” for the Salem Evening News.Cassie was proud of her writing skills. Her Book “When Dust Bunnies Attack” was already tenth on the nonfiction bestseller list.Mirak Sanders/ Mick was known to his fans as M. S. Kazimer  was a horror/suspense author. Jennifer was Mick’s former fiancee but still his publicist. Cassie and Mick were seated next to each other on the book signing part of the tour. Mick asked Cassie to autograph a book for him and told her he had her other books. Mick was having dinner with Robert Whitman who was suppose to be an author but was actually an FBI agent. A serial killer had started murdering people that duplicated crimes in Micks novels and using his murders as blueprints for his own murders. There had been fifteen in a five year time span. Mick was definitely attracted to Cassie and it was only getting stronger and Cassie was also attracted to him. Jennifer had finally ended their business association and flew back to N Y to pack her stuff and find her own apartment. It was never a good time for a witch to start a relationship with a  human so Cassie’s mother and other witches had said.

I loved this story . It had a great plot and held my attention from the beginning to the end. I loved how this had the paranormal aspect but also the suspense of the  serial killer in it. This story made me laugh at times. I was not happy to see Endora hurt in cat form by the killer. I liked how Medusa accepted Mick and the witches were all willing to help catch this killer. This was a great book to read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved the characters and the ins and outs of this story and also how it very successfully covered two genres and I highly recommend.

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review 2016-10-14 15:17
Quick Thoughts: Practical Magic
Practical Magic - Alice Hoffman

Practical Magic

by Alice Hoffman



For so many reasons I couldn't quite pinpoint--and had required a long, thorough think--this book was both frustrating and fascinating at the same time.  I went through a roller coaster of thinking: "Man, this book is not working for me" to "Hmm... this is actually quite interesting."

Practical Magic is a fairly well-known book-turned-movie that was celebrated during the years I'd been growing up.  When mentioned, many people had stated, quite happily that they really loved the movie.  I never actually saw the movie myself, as much of a Sandra Bullock fan as I am.  It just never really appealed to me, and I'm sad to say that even after reading the book, I'm not sure I'd search out the movie to compare--many others have expressed that this is one instance in which the movie is actually more enjoyable than the book.

Practical Magic spans many years from the childhood of our protagonists, Sally and Gillian Owens, on through their teenage years, and then into adulthood.  The entire book is written in four separate parts without chapter separations, detailing the childhood and adolescent years of the sisters in the first two parts, and then transitioning into a brand new conflict in the sisters' adulthood.  In fact, it almost feels like two separate stories... although at the same time I could probably argue that the entire book is a series of small anecdotes and story tangents melded together.

At times, it got very confusing because I wasn't entirely sure where we were going with the story.  When something seemed to be happening, the next paragraph or two (or ten) would meander into a completely different setting with a different character and a different story line.  I admit, I really, really got lost sometimes when the transition was a bit awkward.  Other times, the transition wasn't so bad and I had an idea what the story was getting at.

It probably also didn't help that I had a hard time relating to or liking any of the characters in the book.  And it also probably didn't help that my attention wandered as well since the story itself seemed to wander so much.  This book was written in a very narrative-heavy fashion with a very small amount of dialogue, but somehow maintaining a good amount of showing rather than telling, as hard as that is to believe.

Practical Magic is well written--I will give it that.  It's a great, magical concept and I DO like the premise of it.  But other than that, this book really just wasn't something I found all that enjoyable.


2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Bookish Resolutions Challenge
2016 Halloween Bingo



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/10/quick-thoughts-practical-magic.html
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text 2016-09-23 06:20
I'm just reminding myself again that I don't believe in omens . . .

So the internet was out for about four hours this morning.  I used the time to hunt up my copy of "Somebody's trying to kill me. . .  " and a few other research materials.  And I put a few things away.


I also took the advice of that "omen" and did some more writing.  I had quit last night because I was at a minor block, but it worked itself out and I made progress while the internet was off.


Of course, there is also the TBR staring me in the face, and I have a whole bunch of reading I wanted to do before the week-end.  At the very top of the list was to finish Gloria Steinem's My Life on the Road, because I was close to being done, because it's an electronic library book, and because it's a really fascinating book.  Even if it doesn't fill a Bingo square, it was a priority.


Being a multi-tasker -- and one of those people who if she's reading one book is probably reading six at a time -- I was flipping back and forth between Steinem and Joanna Russ and Kay Mussell, as well as working on my own book, which I briefly mentioned here in the Mansions, Moonlight, and Menace discussion group.  My own contemporary gothic romance, set on Whidbey Island, Washington.


Real life interrupted me frequently, as it always does, but as the day wore on, I made progress on all fronts.  I put up a couple of posts here on BookLikes.  I ran a few errands.  I demolished the gigantic cobweb on the corner of the big bookcase.  And I got within striking distance of the end of the Steinem book.


Then, on page 267 out of 285, this:



The very real Hedgebrook is located no more than two miles from the location on Whidbey Island where I had mapped my fictitious sites; the photos on their website could have been extracted from my own imagination.


I don't believe in omens.  I don't believe there's some cosmic entity that is dropping little personal hints to me that hey, Linda Ann, you need to write this book.  Nope, not even the scenes from Practical Magic are omenic enough.  I knew before I saw the film that it had been shot there, that the house had been built there just for filming.  So it was no surprise to see the scenes of Sandra Bullock walking the streets of Coupeville.



It's not an omen if you're expecting it, right?


But if you're not expecting it, does that make a difference?





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review 2016-06-09 19:16
Practical Magic
Practical Magic - Alice Hoffman

I saw the film of Practical Magic, which was made, I think, in 1998, years ago, and it's a fun movie.  It is, however, rather different from the novel, and I can see why. 


Both the title and set-up are solid movie material (there are witches among us, and one of them has a very nasty ex-boyfriend, who causes trouble from the grave, is what Hollywood concentrated on - concepts ripe for film storytelling, particularly when you cast Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman) but the novel itself is very different.  It is dreamy, mystical, fluid, sometimes languid, with more magical realism than straight-out "magic."


The book works well as a book, and the movie is a fun picture, and I'd recommend either to anyone in the right mood.

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