web site hit counter Gooseberry Bluff Community College of Magic: The Thirteenth Rib - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

Gooseberry Bluff Community College of Magic: The Thirteenth Rib

Availability: Ready to download

Gooseberry Bluff is not a school for the chosen ones. It's a school for those who have run out of choices. An unlikely place for an international conspiracy. But after suspicious paranormal signatures are reported and a professor of magical history goes missing, the possibility of demon trafficking seems more and more likely... GOOSEBERRY BLUFF COMMUNITY COLLEGE OF MAGIC: Gooseberry Bluff is not a school for the chosen ones. It's a school for those who have run out of choices. An unlikely place for an international conspiracy. But after suspicious paranormal signatures are reported and a professor of magical history goes missing, the possibility of demon trafficking seems more and more likely... GOOSEBERRY BLUFF COMMUNITY COLLEGE OF MAGIC: THE THIRTEENTH RIB, the first season set in Schwartz's fantastic contemporary world, begins the tale of Joy Wilkins, an undercover agent with the Federal Bureau of Magical Affairs, as she starts her first semester of teaching and investigating the alarming activity at this school of magic on the border of Wisconsin and Minnesota. The deeper she goes, the closer she gets to dangerous secrets that could threaten her entire world.


Compare

Gooseberry Bluff is not a school for the chosen ones. It's a school for those who have run out of choices. An unlikely place for an international conspiracy. But after suspicious paranormal signatures are reported and a professor of magical history goes missing, the possibility of demon trafficking seems more and more likely... GOOSEBERRY BLUFF COMMUNITY COLLEGE OF MAGIC: Gooseberry Bluff is not a school for the chosen ones. It's a school for those who have run out of choices. An unlikely place for an international conspiracy. But after suspicious paranormal signatures are reported and a professor of magical history goes missing, the possibility of demon trafficking seems more and more likely... GOOSEBERRY BLUFF COMMUNITY COLLEGE OF MAGIC: THE THIRTEENTH RIB, the first season set in Schwartz's fantastic contemporary world, begins the tale of Joy Wilkins, an undercover agent with the Federal Bureau of Magical Affairs, as she starts her first semester of teaching and investigating the alarming activity at this school of magic on the border of Wisconsin and Minnesota. The deeper she goes, the closer she gets to dangerous secrets that could threaten her entire world.

30 review for Gooseberry Bluff Community College of Magic: The Thirteenth Rib

  1. 5 out of 5

    Standback

    Very mixed opinions on this book. My thoughts are a little fragmented - somewhat like the book itself. The Good: * First and foremost, the book is fun. The setting is a huge potpourri of all kinds of different magical wackiness; at its strongest, the book takes those wacky elements, pumps them up to 11, and gives us incredible, kickass scenes. * Gooseberry Bluff is cram-packed with unusual, inventive characters, used in interesting ways. There's a lot of great surprises to look forward to - ju Very mixed opinions on this book. My thoughts are a little fragmented - somewhat like the book itself. The Good: * First and foremost, the book is fun. The setting is a huge potpourri of all kinds of different magical wackiness; at its strongest, the book takes those wacky elements, pumps them up to 11, and gives us incredible, kickass scenes. * Gooseberry Bluff is cram-packed with unusual, inventive characters, used in interesting ways. There's a lot of great surprises to look forward to - just to pick an early example at random, the protagonist, Joy is face-blind, unable to recognize faces by sight. This unusual disability shapes Joy's character and has some interesting consequences all throughout the book. * The author has clearly made a point of celebrating diversity in his cast of characters. The mere fact of having a black, female protagonist with a disability drives home how absent such characters are from typical light adventure fiction. I sometimes feel this goes a bit awry - one character seems to exist solely to serve as a poster boy poster person for genderqueer-ness - but to be honest, just seeing the bias go in the other direction for a change is awfully refreshing. The Not-So-Good: * The biggest problem I had was that the book feels awfully scattered. It jumps between very different elements so frequently, that I didn't feel like the plot or the setting were consistent or plausible. The setting balloons very, very quickly from "sleepy, second-rate college with a vague threat of mystery hidden somewhere" into a hysterical "OMG an epic reality-spanning battle is being fought and every single person on campus has a humongous, world-altering secret." It's fun, but it's also pretty ridiculous. I started reading a bit past half-way on the serialization, and I'm kind of wondering if the author was writing the novel as episodically as I was reading it - it didn't feel cohesive; it felt as though the author was making up something brand new every couple of chapters, and tossing it right into the mix. * The ending - or rather, the complete lack thereof. The book doesn't conclude, it just has a brief flurry of action, then ends with practically every single one of its threads dangling. I was kind of shocked when I realized that this episode was the last one - it just didn't feel like a conclusion of the story, in any sense. I'm guessing the author might be planning sequels, but really, I'd like to know that the author's capable of tying up one story arc before I follow him on to another. * There is an element of preachiness to this novel that I can live with, but I don't enjoy. There's an overpowering anti-authoritarian theme here which is never justified, just assumed to be correct - anybody associated with government is suspect; Order is inherently bad and Chaos is inherently awesome; anybody genderqueer is a saint while anybody who dislikes LGBTs in any way must be reviled in return; etc. etc. Bias in fiction is very hard to avoid, but in this case I felt like it stood out very strongly without actually being examined - neither to justify it by demonstrating how bad whatever's bad is, nor to temper it by providing limited counterexamples. In other words, the viewpoint gets somewhat cartoonish and soapbox-y at times. That's a shame - this is purely subjective, but the parts of the book when the writing manages to express the same viewpoint without getting dragged up on the soapbox, I find it much more powerful and compelling. Bottom line: A book with much to recommend it, but also with some major flaws. I was happily planning to give it four stars until it completely and utterly failed to end. Particularly recommended for fans of Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair - the mix of fantasy action, covert operations, and lots and lots of different fantasy tropes strikes a familiar chord.

  2. 5 out of 5

    terpkristin

    Audiobook from Brilliance Audio Narrated by Janina Edwards Length: 12.25 hours Gooseberry Bluff Community College of Magic: The Thirteenth Rib (hereafter referred to as Gooseberry Bluff for the sake of saving my fingers!) is a book that had a lot of good ideas, but suffered a bit on execution. I was originally attracted to it because it seemed like a cross of modern urban fantasy with mystery--and in many respects, it was just that. The issues I had with it are more about how it wrapped up the vari Audiobook from Brilliance Audio Narrated by Janina Edwards Length: 12.25 hours Gooseberry Bluff Community College of Magic: The Thirteenth Rib (hereafter referred to as Gooseberry Bluff for the sake of saving my fingers!) is a book that had a lot of good ideas, but suffered a bit on execution. I was originally attracted to it because it seemed like a cross of modern urban fantasy with mystery--and in many respects, it was just that. The issues I had with it are more about how it wrapped up the various plot lines, and what was left to the imagination. The premise is simple: Joy Wilkins is the new professor of history at Gooseberry Bluff Community College of Magic (GBCCoM), but she's also an undercover agent for the Federal Bureau of Magical Affairs (FBMA). Joy's job as an agent is made somewhat more difficult by the fact that she has face blindness; luckily, she is very good at reading auras, so her disability isn't the end of the world. Very few people (relatively speaking) are good at reading auras. She is assigned to GBCCoM ostensibly to investigate the disappearance of the previous history professor, Prof. Drake, and to investigate the source of demon trafficking within the school. There are some other side stories in the book, and some character- and world-development that is done through the course of the narrative. The characters are rather interesting and varied. Schwartz emphasized diversity in his characters, something relatively few authors seem to feel comfortable with, and that's to his credit. The characters--whether they're the narrator (Joy, the face-blind African American woman who's also an agent in the FBMA), Andy (the transgender assistant who is biologically a male but self-identifies and dresses as a female and prefers to be referred to with feminine pronouns), the gay president of the college, the Indian FBMA case handler, or the (apparently stereotypical white male) FBMA case handler, to name a few--are all believable and deeply developed. On the one hand, it felt like Schwartz may have been trying "too hard" to be SO DIVERSE but on the other, the diversity and the character traits opened up by this diversity were well-handled; rarely did it seem like a character was diverse just to be diverse. The world didn't need much development in general, given that the book takes place in modern-day "Gooseberry Bluff, MN" (a city on the St. Croix river). The rules for the various types of magic weren't particularly well-defined, but this book wasn't as much about the magic as it was about the mystery, so that can be forgiven. When needed, such as when explaining the demon-summoning, the rules were at least internally consistent. The biggest issue I had with the book is that it had a lot of plot lines, and they weren't all wrapped up particularly well. In addition, perhaps because of all the parallel plot points, the wrap-up to the main story line felt rushed. Some of the plot lines were: -The main plot line, Joy trying to solve the disappearance of her predecessor at the school and the demon-trafficking -Related sub-plots of assassination attempts and trying to determine why Joy's FBMA case manager is trying to keep her off the job -The president of GBCCoM's time away from the school -A romantic relationship between two other professors at the school -A student (Margaret) who is very strong, magically-speaking, but very novice -Another professor at the GBCCoM trying to bring back her sister's soul In the end, the main plot line was wrapped up but the sub-plots weren't particularly discussed. I was left thinking that the case manager is just a jerk (he was certainly painted that way), but a lot of time was devoted to him. The main plot line was wrapped up, though with a lot of things falling into place "at the right moment" or Joy "figuring it out" suddenly at the end. The other plot lines were not specifically wrapped up--in fact, one of them was left wide open (the last one I listed). It seems like Schwartz spent so much time doing the world-building, that by the time he needed to wrap up the story, it felt rushed. I wasn't exactly sure how Joy connected the dots or what exactly happened. The narration by Janina Edwards was pretty good. There were a few times when I had to back up my recording and re-listen to a few sentences, but I think that was more attributed to awkward phrasing or unusual words than the actual narration. When I closed my eyes, I could see a confident African American woman as Joy--I actually had the picture of my 7th grade reading teacher in my head (thank you, Mrs. Barrett!). If you're one who likes to listen at greater than normal speed (1.25x, 1.5x, 2x), you might have a hard time--I did. But the book was short enough that I didn't mind listening at 1 or 1.25x speed. It will be interesting to see what (if anything) else Schwartz does with this world. I would like to know how some of the other plot lines wrap up, and why Margaret seemed so "important" in this book. I would hope, though, that in future books, less time is spent on world-building and more time is spent telling the story evenly, so that it doesn't need to end up rushed as this one did at the end.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    First, let me say: this is one of the best-edited books I have read for some time, and that was why I bought it, despite some warnings in the reviews I read about a non-conclusive ending. I thought I could at least enjoy the ride to that ending, and I was right. I spotted four extremely minor errors, two of them typos and two of them usage issues, which is excellent. However, the ending itself didn't disappoint me either. Certainly, not everything is resolved, but to me, that's good news; it impl First, let me say: this is one of the best-edited books I have read for some time, and that was why I bought it, despite some warnings in the reviews I read about a non-conclusive ending. I thought I could at least enjoy the ride to that ending, and I was right. I spotted four extremely minor errors, two of them typos and two of them usage issues, which is excellent. However, the ending itself didn't disappoint me either. Certainly, not everything is resolved, but to me, that's good news; it implies sequels, and I want to read more in this setting. The book has been described as "Harry Potter meets X-Files", which is almost completely inaccurate. Yes, it involves a college of magic and a federal agent investigating the uncanny, but that's the extent of the resemblance to either of those franchises. The college is mostly a backdrop, and mostly (apart from the fact that magic is taught there) a standard American college. The agent is not a student there, but a teacher. She's nothing like Mulder or Scully, and her case doesn't have an X-Files vibe either, to me at least. So that's what it isn't. What is it? It's a well-written urban fantasy/alternative history, in a world where Aleister Crowley cleaned up his act, had real magic, and deployed demons against the Japanese and Germans to end World War II. It's set in the present day, and the main character is a federal agent in magical law enforcement. Her own magical skills are not great, but she can read auras, which mostly makes up for her neurological inability to recognise faces. Yes, the protagonist is disabled. She's also black and a woman. Several other characters are bisexual or gay, and one is genderqueer. If all of that bothers you for some reason, don't read it, but personally I didn't notice any of the soapboxing that one reviewer on Amazon complained about. Seanan McGuire had a great answer to a reader who complained "Why did you make X character gay when it made no difference to the story?" Her reply was to the effect that she didn't "make" him gay, he was gay, and it didn't have to be significant to the story any more than someone being straight. There are gay people. They're people. You'll meet them at some point, and they have all the characteristics of other people. Their sexual orientation is just one thing about them, and if they're characters in a story, that doesn't have to be what the story is about. If this book had a weakness, for me, it was that the magic system didn't come across as having been completely worked out (so there's another parallel to Harry Potter, then). It was used more or less as a convenience. The magic theory lectures didn't seem to translate into plot points. Sometimes magic just replaced technology, like the crystals which were cellphones (though at one point the author apparently slips and mentions a telephone). Sometimes it did things that the plot needed. It didn't, to me, give the impression of having been planned out in advance, in detail, with all the implications for how it would change society taken into consideration. That's extremely hard to do, by the way, and it's not like magic was used as a deus ex machina on every page. It caused as many problems as it solved, too, so points for that. When I was looking at the author's other books, I saw that he's done a supers book which I looked at a while back and didn't get because the sample didn't quite hook me. I think I might take another look at it, having read this one, because overall I'm impressed.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Erin (PT)

    More a 3.5. Gooseberry Bluff Community College of Magic: The Thirteenth Rib is both a mouthful to say and a difficult book to talk about. I came across it after reading John Scalzi's serial novel, the Human Division, when I was looking for another serial novel to fill the void left by The Human Division's conclusion. Gooseberry Bluff and The Human Division are unlike in genre—The Human Division is space operatic Sci-Fi; Gooseberry Bluff falls more loosely into Urban Fantasy, as it takes place in More a 3.5. Gooseberry Bluff Community College of Magic: The Thirteenth Rib is both a mouthful to say and a difficult book to talk about. I came across it after reading John Scalzi's serial novel, the Human Division, when I was looking for another serial novel to fill the void left by The Human Division's conclusion. Gooseberry Bluff and The Human Division are unlike in genre—The Human Division is space operatic Sci-Fi; Gooseberry Bluff falls more loosely into Urban Fantasy, as it takes place in an alternate reality Earth where magic is real—but I really wanted the continuing experience of serial fiction and, of the options Amazon/Kindle had available, Gooseberry Bluff sounded/looked the most interesting. The conceit of Gooseberry Bluff is that Joy Wilikins, a fairly rookie government agent in a bureau that handles magical problems, is sent to work undercover at Gooseberry Bluff Community College as a professor, trying to trace a connection with a terrorist organization known as The Heartstoppers. Things, naturally, expand from there. After having read the entire thing over a period of months, I find it's an experience I don't regret, but that I also don't think was entirely successful. The thing is, when talking about this book, I have to talk about it both as the story itself, and about it as a piece of serial fiction, because that is/was its presentation and, ultimately, one affects the other. I feel that, although I mainly enjoyed the story, it was definitely impacted (and not really for the better) that there was two weeks between installments (unlike Scalzi's story, which came out every week). Gooseberry Bluff as an enormous cast of characters, and a central plot that spirals out like a hydra. Keeping track of everything that was happening and everyone being mentioned got more and more difficult as time went on. And though I think it might have been the same if I'd read the story as a single entity, getting it with such relatively big gaps between installments made it a lot harder. I also feel like the sheer volume of plotlines—because the main plotline branched into the original problem and a much larger threat and then there were a number of sub-plots—made it hard to keep it all straight, even before you throw in the 2 week lag. I originally didn't know how many "episodes" the story was supposed to have and was about halfway through the book when I realized, and the book felt as though it had just barely started. From then to the end, I suspected that Schwartz was not going to have enough room/time to wrap up all the threads he'd spun out (or he was going to have to totally shoehorn it into the final chapter) and yeah, that turned out to be the case. It feels a little unfair to keep comparing Gooseberry Bluff to The Human Division, because, again, other than both being serials, they're not much alike, but as stories, I think Scalzi does a much better job at keeping his cast and narrative tight—tight enough to be memorable in the down time, and for the pieces to fit/come together smoothly as the story moves toward climax and resolution. With Scalzi, I didn't have any trouble keeping track of the plot or the characters, it was clear to me, when the story's puzzle pieces came together to show a larger picture, and the story's denouement felt appropriately ratcheted up—action-wise and emotionally—and dramatic. Gooseberry Bluff was significantly less successful on all these fronts. Once I'd finished it, I could see what notes he was trying to hit, to give the story some resolution—because the story isn't nearly complete—but they were mainly only visible in retrospect and less so while the story was actually happening. I do wonder if any (or all) of my impressions will change if/when I read the entire story all the way through, but I do feel it's important to look at the presentation as much as what's presented. Gooseberry Bluff is decidedly less serial in nature than the other three serial projects I've read: the aforementioned Scalzi story, Seanan McGuire's Indexing (currently ongoing) and Margaret Atwood's Positron series (also ongoing). The latter three's episodes are more discrete in nature, more like a TV procedural in that each episode can more-or-less stand alone, even as they advance the overall story mythology, while Gooseberry Bluff's episodes read more like what they are: chapters of a book, doled out in finite, timed doses. Which, given that and the other problems I had with the story, raises the question of whether Gooseberry Bluff really should have been a serial. In any case, despite my above-named dissatisfactions and disappointments, Schwartz did write a story that kept me interested and involved to the very end…beyond, since I'll probably pick up the sequel when he comes out with it. I enjoyed that he chose to make a Black woman with face blindness his protagonist, and though she's somewhat literally a Magical Negro, given the universe, she never comes across as any kind of reflection of the stereotype. Or any of the other stereotypes, for that matter. Joy is written as I'd like to see any protagonist written, where her race is neither fetishized nor forgotten, but is simply as much a part of her as her face-blindness, or ability to read auras. I really enjoyed that he included gay and genderqueer secondary characters with similar matter-of-fact cognizance. Despite it's flaws, this is a world I very much enjoyed and would like to delve deeper into and despite my disappointments, this is definitely a book I plan to recommend to others.

  5. 5 out of 5

    nikki

    while the story itself is entertaining, & i look forward to more of it, i think the real merit to this book was the amount of diversity in its characters. rarely do you get to read a book where so many different types of people are explicitly represented, and that was a real delight for someone who doesn't get to see themself in books very often. many of the characters are people of color, whose races are stated in the text, and many of them are also LGBT+ , also explicitly said & not vaguely hi while the story itself is entertaining, & i look forward to more of it, i think the real merit to this book was the amount of diversity in its characters. rarely do you get to read a book where so many different types of people are explicitly represented, and that was a real delight for someone who doesn't get to see themself in books very often. many of the characters are people of color, whose races are stated in the text, and many of them are also LGBT+ , also explicitly said & not vaguely hinted at, including a lovely genderqueer character, not something i have seen in a novel before. now, the book itself (& not just the characters) is very good too. i think that the multi-dimensional aspect of it leans more towards science fiction than i would've liked in a novel about a magic community college, but the system of magic is very interesting, and the way that magic having been around is integrated into our society is well done and great to see. it reminds me a bit of jonathan strange & mr. norell in that it talks about our history & magic, with instead of magic being thought of as something superstitious it's thought of as a fact of life, or at least a fact at life for some of the population. i would definitely recommend this book to many people- anyone who is a fan of n.k. jemisin, anyone who likes modern fantasy, and definitely anyone who has been to community college. the story may not be my perfect kind of story, but it's brought me enough happiness seeing myself & people who do not usually get to see themselves in stories represented, that i would give it more than five stars if i could.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    2020: I really enjoyed the world building and characters. I loved how Joy’s face blindness complicated her life and wasn’t just a magical gift. The other characters were complex, and there was good representation. However the ending was rushed. This felt like the first and second books in a series smashed together. I wish there had been more quiet moments. I would read anything else in this series, though!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    A perfectly decent book that did almost nothing for me. It's harder to unpack indifference than love or dislike, but let's see... I have a hard time engaging with adventure stories. If I go to a summer blockbuster (and I rarely do, anymore), I'm looking for impressive scene setting, some explosions, and maybe a good-looking actor or two. A week out from the movie, I could tell you about the characters' appearances, outfits, or personalities/personality clashes, but not what the plot was. This book A perfectly decent book that did almost nothing for me. It's harder to unpack indifference than love or dislike, but let's see... I have a hard time engaging with adventure stories. If I go to a summer blockbuster (and I rarely do, anymore), I'm looking for impressive scene setting, some explosions, and maybe a good-looking actor or two. A week out from the movie, I could tell you about the characters' appearances, outfits, or personalities/personality clashes, but not what the plot was. This book is like that. At first I tried to read it serially, a chapter a week, more or less how it was intended to be read, but got frustrated fast because I couldn't remember specific events and had to use the search function on Kindle, or reread entire chapters to recall them. Very plot-driven, with a mystery that I'm sure was landmarked clearly but whose landmarks were lost on me in a sea of other details such that its revelations seemed to come out of nowhere. Also, there were too many characters. A decent number of them get some backstory, others get names and almost nothing else. But even for the central characters, their personalities and the events in the story seemed irrelevant to each other, which made me care little either about them or what was happening. I was glad to see this behind me so I could move on to something actually fun. So, with some resentment toward the time it took, but with no real malice, one star it gets.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    This is honestly probably more 3.5 stars. I'm guessing there is a sequel in the works? While the main plot point was somewhat resolved, there were a lot of side stories that really had no resolution. What I liked: I found The Thirteenth Rib to be well-paced and an interesting alternate universe-type tale, with a lot of characters that (for the most part) are distinct and well-developed. These were some of the more unusual characters I have come across for a story that doesn't incorporate a lot no This is honestly probably more 3.5 stars. I'm guessing there is a sequel in the works? While the main plot point was somewhat resolved, there were a lot of side stories that really had no resolution. What I liked: I found The Thirteenth Rib to be well-paced and an interesting alternate universe-type tale, with a lot of characters that (for the most part) are distinct and well-developed. These were some of the more unusual characters I have come across for a story that doesn't incorporate a lot non-human creatures beyond a couple of gods and a major demon. I wouldn't call it a grown-up Harry Potter, because there just aren't as many fantastic elements, but it's a solid work for a bit older reader. Having a main character who was face-blind was an interesting twist, and there is a ton of diversity among the characters for race, gender, and ability. What I didn't like: First off, there's a lot of what I consider unnecessary foul language. I think the book would have read the same without most of it. I'm not against swearing altogether, but there seemed to be a lot of it in The Thirteenth Rib. And while I praised the diversity just now I also found the portrayal a bit heavy-handed. And it didn't help that the white male characters were pretty stereotypical. The overall tone was a touch preachy and I'll admit I skimmed most of the classroom lecture passages. I'm interested enough that if there is, in fact, a sequel in the ether I would check it out.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dixie Conley

    First of all, this book isn't about magic and it isn't humor. It's a thriller, with magic as a backdrop, as flavor to the whole story. Otherwise, I'd describe it as something like Harry Potter, but following a teacher rather than a student. Except it isn't like Harry Potter, aside from the fact that it centers around a school. The book is about two things. First of all, an inter-dimensional war between Order and Chaos. It's pretty clear from the book that we don't want either side to win. Balance First of all, this book isn't about magic and it isn't humor. It's a thriller, with magic as a backdrop, as flavor to the whole story. Otherwise, I'd describe it as something like Harry Potter, but following a teacher rather than a student. Except it isn't like Harry Potter, aside from the fact that it centers around a school. The book is about two things. First of all, an inter-dimensional war between Order and Chaos. It's pretty clear from the book that we don't want either side to win. Balance, yes, we want that. But winning, no. And order is currently winning. It's also about the search for a missing teacher. Our heroine is a federal agent who replaces the woman while trying to discover what happened to her. Which brings up the first thing that the book is about. There are a large number of characters, all surprisingly well-detailed and not even a little bit cardboard. The plot is somewhat confused, as it's unclear what Order's plan is. However, events just keep right on happening and they're interesting enough to keep the book moving. I didn't like that the book is a thriller rather than science fiction or fantasy. I also didn't like the muddy nature of the threat Order poses. It has to be that way because finding out the nature of the threat is one of the mysteries the book is meant to solve, but I think it should have come clear in the end, rather than still being muddy. The bits about magic were fascinating. Wish there was more of it in the book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Olivia

    This book reads less like a novel than a really detailed treatment for a TV show--a T.V. show I'd watch the hell out of. It was originally released in an episodic format, which is probably why it feels that way. That said, it is really a great ride once it gets going. One warning: The title reads like it might be humor, or at least implies a lighter tone. That's misleading--this book is serious, full of drama and a large, diverse cast of characters. So many characters, in fact, that I had a little This book reads less like a novel than a really detailed treatment for a TV show--a T.V. show I'd watch the hell out of. It was originally released in an episodic format, which is probably why it feels that way. That said, it is really a great ride once it gets going. One warning: The title reads like it might be humor, or at least implies a lighter tone. That's misleading--this book is serious, full of drama and a large, diverse cast of characters. So many characters, in fact, that I had a little trouble keeping everyone straight for the first 200 pages. All that said, I REALLY enjoyed it. It's like a mash up of a Harry Potter-ish magic-is-real world with an X-Files flare, only for grown ups. Not in a Bamp-chicka-BAMP sort of way. I mean that it has real, interpersonal drama that feels true to life. I believe it would be even better as a T.V. show, with more room to get to know the characters (and tell them apart, for those of us not face blind, as is the protagonist). If I knew anyone who made T.V. shows, I'd send this their way with a pleading note.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kristine Gift

    This is one of the most original books I've read in a very long time. The non-typical characters (black woman with face blindness, genderqueer secretary, characters with origins all over the globe) made this a breath of fresh air, and the plot was twisty-turny and always kept me on my toes. But I am giving this 3 stars only because the book dragged on and on. I was interested, but I wasn't necessarily engaged. I was halfway through and feeling like I should be so much closer to the end. Normally This is one of the most original books I've read in a very long time. The non-typical characters (black woman with face blindness, genderqueer secretary, characters with origins all over the globe) made this a breath of fresh air, and the plot was twisty-turny and always kept me on my toes. But I am giving this 3 stars only because the book dragged on and on. I was interested, but I wasn't necessarily engaged. I was halfway through and feeling like I should be so much closer to the end. Normally a book like this would be a quick, easy read, and instead I felt like I was slogging through it despite the fun plot and amazing characters. I would be interested to read a follow-up book, however. Maybe with a second book Mr. Schwartz will hit his stride with the pacing and I'll get the riveting ride with Joy Wilkins I'd been expecting.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra

    This was actually better than I expected. There were some major flaws that prevent me from rating it any higher than three stars, but it's a fun book. There's a remarkable diversity in the main characters of the book, which is pretty well done but occasionally seems forced and token-y. I appreciate the effort, though, to bring diversity in several forms to the world of fantasy writing. I liked the way that magic was woven into the world's culture and history - WWII was ended by unleashing demons This was actually better than I expected. There were some major flaws that prevent me from rating it any higher than three stars, but it's a fun book. There's a remarkable diversity in the main characters of the book, which is pretty well done but occasionally seems forced and token-y. I appreciate the effort, though, to bring diversity in several forms to the world of fantasy writing. I liked the way that magic was woven into the world's culture and history - WWII was ended by unleashing demons on Germany and Japan. Unfortunately, the book had absolutely no ending at all. There was some quick semi-resolution of the major arc, but all of the side storylines (that were so interesting) were left to dangle. I figure there must be a planned sequel or something, but it's still a sloppy way to end a book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Cat

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The story had a lot of potential and was very enjoyable until the last installment. The ending is what dropped it down to three stars for me. After I read it, I was like "that's it? That can't be the ending?" I was positive there has to be at least one more installment but there won't be. It was rather unfulfilling and it felt as though the author took possibly one of the lamest ways to end the tale. The story had a lot of potential and was very enjoyable until the last installment. The ending is what dropped it down to three stars for me. After I read it, I was like "that's it? That can't be the ending?" I was positive there has to be at least one more installment but there won't be. It was rather unfulfilling and it felt as though the author took possibly one of the lamest ways to end the tale.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Raymond

    Sometimes a book tries to do too many things at once and it just doesn't work. Thus is the problem with Gooseberry Bluff Community of Magic, a book that tries to ride the paranormal school wave into the adult arena by attaching social commentary and a murder mystery to its robe. It doesn't do the trick at all. I found it exhausting almost immediately, and by the time I got to a significant point in it, I just stopped. It wasn't for me at all. Sometimes a book tries to do too many things at once and it just doesn't work. Thus is the problem with Gooseberry Bluff Community of Magic, a book that tries to ride the paranormal school wave into the adult arena by attaching social commentary and a murder mystery to its robe. It doesn't do the trick at all. I found it exhausting almost immediately, and by the time I got to a significant point in it, I just stopped. It wasn't for me at all.

  15. 4 out of 5

    MIchael Williams

    One of THE BEST Modern Science Fiction Books! Mr. Schwartz has BRILLIANTLY crafted a completely, 100% original storyline, complete with characters wholly original; no amalgamations of characters gleaned from other source material -- encountering these characters is like being transported into a corner of your home country, a place unbeknownst to you. They speak your language; they don't, however, remind you of anyone you've ever met. It's thrilling, exciting and wonderful -- the longer your visit, One of THE BEST Modern Science Fiction Books! Mr. Schwartz has BRILLIANTLY crafted a completely, 100% original storyline, complete with characters wholly original; no amalgamations of characters gleaned from other source material -- encountering these characters is like being transported into a corner of your home country, a place unbeknownst to you. They speak your language; they don't, however, remind you of anyone you've ever met. It's thrilling, exciting and wonderful -- the longer your visit, notwithstanding, the more eerie and frightening things around you become...until you are forced to utilize your instincts as to WHO you can trust, and what chances you must take to survive. Wow...WOW!!! This book THRILLED me, entertained me, scared me, challenged some of my preconceptions, and had me involved and entranced throughout its entirety! I HIGHLY recommend "Goosebberry;" I'm also wishin'/hopin'/thinkin'/prayin'/ for a sequel! *****

  16. 4 out of 5

    Andria

    So, there's a lot going on in this book. A community college for magic! Ghosts intercepting conversations between the living! A missing teacher wrapped in a conspiracy! Duels across dimensions! Demons used as weapons! Shadowy undercover magic societies! Order vs Chaos! Curses that hurt anyone you help! Killer cats! I would have gladly read a book on any of the above topics. But one book trying to tackle all of the above? It was a lot, especially in 400 pages. I like the ideas separately, and I li So, there's a lot going on in this book. A community college for magic! Ghosts intercepting conversations between the living! A missing teacher wrapped in a conspiracy! Duels across dimensions! Demons used as weapons! Shadowy undercover magic societies! Order vs Chaos! Curses that hurt anyone you help! Killer cats! I would have gladly read a book on any of the above topics. But one book trying to tackle all of the above? It was a lot, especially in 400 pages. I like the ideas separately, and I liked some storylines more than others. (Ingrid and Selma!!! 😥) But too many plotlines + not enough development = a watered down, meh experience for me.

  17. 4 out of 5

    BMR, LCSW

    This was a fun novel. It was a little bit difficult for me to follow all the action, there were so many characters and sub-plots, but I enjoyed it immensely. Lots of diversity from nearly every domain, and none of it was distracting or intrusive to the story. There is NO EXCUSE for people to avoid making their fiction universe(s) more broadly inclusive. I look forward to reading more from this author! Recommended for: fantasy and fiction fans who want something different that won't insult them. This was a fun novel. It was a little bit difficult for me to follow all the action, there were so many characters and sub-plots, but I enjoyed it immensely. Lots of diversity from nearly every domain, and none of it was distracting or intrusive to the story. There is NO EXCUSE for people to avoid making their fiction universe(s) more broadly inclusive. I look forward to reading more from this author! Recommended for: fantasy and fiction fans who want something different that won't insult them.

  18. 4 out of 5

    J

    I really enjoyed this book, and would give it an extra half star if I could. I'm looking forward to seeing what the author does next! There was a refreshing variety among the cast of characters that made them memorable and distinctive, and I hope the author revisits them - I'd love to see more of them. (Naturally, I have a particular soft spot for nonbinary sweetheart Andy, but also for SO many of the others - I started to list them but stopped because the list was getting out of hand.) I really enjoyed this book, and would give it an extra half star if I could. I'm looking forward to seeing what the author does next! There was a refreshing variety among the cast of characters that made them memorable and distinctive, and I hope the author revisits them - I'd love to see more of them. (Naturally, I have a particular soft spot for nonbinary sweetheart Andy, but also for SO many of the others - I started to list them but stopped because the list was getting out of hand.)

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    "We have resources," said Cyril Lanfair. Lutrineas groaned. "My sister has assassins, or did you forget that already? She has librarians. Police officers. Meter maids. Army captains. Agents provocateurs." Something flashed outside the window, followed a moment later by a sound like something igniting. "Like that one, probably." "We have resources," said Cyril Lanfair. Lutrineas groaned. "My sister has assassins, or did you forget that already? She has librarians. Police officers. Meter maids. Army captains. Agents provocateurs." Something flashed outside the window, followed a moment later by a sound like something igniting. "Like that one, probably."

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jillian

    This book is delightful and just what I needed right now. Whimsical and silly, in that it's about magicians in Minnesota being dorky people (teaching classes, trying to go on dates, getting mad when their cars get wrecked). But also there are demon-summonings and secret societies and parallel universes with epic plots to ruin the world. Marvelous escapism! More please! This book is delightful and just what I needed right now. Whimsical and silly, in that it's about magicians in Minnesota being dorky people (teaching classes, trying to go on dates, getting mad when their cars get wrecked). But also there are demon-summonings and secret societies and parallel universes with epic plots to ruin the world. Marvelous escapism! More please!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    Yikes. DNF. Got 5% in. The audiobook reader's voice was SO bad and I just couldn't get past it. It was rough and so lacking in inflection and intonation I hard a hard time even listening and differentiating between narration and dialogue. Yikes. DNF. Got 5% in. The audiobook reader's voice was SO bad and I just couldn't get past it. It was rough and so lacking in inflection and intonation I hard a hard time even listening and differentiating between narration and dialogue.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Good fun. A fun fantasy thriller. I liked the separate plot threads and the way they were interwoven to serve the larger plot. Will be recommending.

  23. 5 out of 5

    K.F.

    Solid writing but SO LONG I realize this was a serial novel and it FELT that way--it probably should have been broken up into two separate collections. But I do love David Schwartz, and this was solid, and definitely got an extra star just for the sheer diversity of the cast (seriously soooooo good!) so...yeah.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nathanael

    Imagine a world in which instead of nuclear bombs, we just dumped a bunch of demons on Japan and Germany and called it a day. This is the world Gooseberry Bluff is set in. It's part alternate history, part mystery, part urban fantasy, with a smidgen of cosmic horror stirred in. It starts with an undercover mission in academia trying to track down a group of demon smugglers involved in magical terrorist attacks and opens up into a multiverse-spanning battle against incredibly powerful opponents. T Imagine a world in which instead of nuclear bombs, we just dumped a bunch of demons on Japan and Germany and called it a day. This is the world Gooseberry Bluff is set in. It's part alternate history, part mystery, part urban fantasy, with a smidgen of cosmic horror stirred in. It starts with an undercover mission in academia trying to track down a group of demon smugglers involved in magical terrorist attacks and opens up into a multiverse-spanning battle against incredibly powerful opponents. There were a lot of things to like about this book. The worldbuilding is fairly well-done and while the magical system is a bit too vague for my taste, I did enjoy the pieces of the wider world we got to see as the protagonist worked her way through the story. I also enjoyed the fact that the cast was diverse without being cliched or verging too strongly into Very Special Episode territory. Many of them get their own viewpoint chapters, which serves well to make them more rounded characters. The story itself is creative and fast-paced. It's the ideal rainy afternoon book; something you can read in one sitting. Ultimately, I had to give the book one less star than I wanted to for the simple fact that the ending is not particularly satisfying, verging on anti-climactic. This book is clearly the first in a series, but I still feel like some things should have been addressed in more detail. The book is very episodic due to the nature of its serialized publication and as a result, it almost feels like there's an episode missing. I think that due to this, it wouldn't be a bad idea to keep this one on the to-read stack until the next book in the series is out.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lianne Burwell

    Joy Wilkins is a new professor at Cooseberry Bluff Community College, replacing a professor who disappeared under mysterious circumstances. She's also an undercover agent for the US Government, trying to track down trade in illegal demons that have been used to kill people in terrorist-style attacks. She is also handicapped: she has face-blindness (an innability to recognize faces, including her own), but her strong ability to read auras means that she can recognize people by their auras. Well, Joy Wilkins is a new professor at Cooseberry Bluff Community College, replacing a professor who disappeared under mysterious circumstances. She's also an undercover agent for the US Government, trying to track down trade in illegal demons that have been used to kill people in terrorist-style attacks. She is also handicapped: she has face-blindness (an innability to recognize faces, including her own), but her strong ability to read auras means that she can recognize people by their auras. Well, except when she runs into people whose emotions have rendered their auras identical. The who is smuggling demons is actually solved pretty early on in the book (about 1/3 of the way through), but it leads to deeper things, including the murder of Joy's handler, her suspicions about his replacement, a secret society who may or may not be bad guys, and a danger from outside their reality. All in all, I loved the book. The main character is matter-of-factly black (and it's only actually brought up once, and for a good reason). There's also a woman whose sister was killed in the first of the attacks, another woman who is under a curse that there is no hope of breaking (the caster is dead), a gay couple who are at the heart of the secret society plot, a transgender assistant, and over-powered student, shape-changers and tricksters. I'm really hoping that there will be a book two somewhere along the line, since there are a *lot* of dangling threads at then end.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Courtney Cantrell

    I hesitate to say this, but it's the main thing that comes to mind: In many ways, this book is like Harry Potter set at a university in a world in which "muggles" know that magic exists, plus detective work. Schwartz's story is missing the light-hearted elements of Rowling's universe, and yet Gooseberry Bluff isn't a dark world, either. In the midst of a bizarre and increasingly dangerous mystery, there are grown-up people having grown-up relationships and dealing with grown-up problems. Schwart I hesitate to say this, but it's the main thing that comes to mind: In many ways, this book is like Harry Potter set at a university in a world in which "muggles" know that magic exists, plus detective work. Schwartz's story is missing the light-hearted elements of Rowling's universe, and yet Gooseberry Bluff isn't a dark world, either. In the midst of a bizarre and increasingly dangerous mystery, there are grown-up people having grown-up relationships and dealing with grown-up problems. Schwartz presents these in a very real way without getting too gritty. That's refreshing. In general, I did enjoy this book, although honestly not enough to pursue the series further. The magic system is original and enjoyable to read, and the premise of the main character's magical job is rather fun. But there were so many scenes from so many difference POVs that I was frequently unclear on how Character B related to the story, when I'd just spent so much time with Character A. They did all have their distinct voices, but I still found it very difficult to remember how each one related to the story. That made it difficult for me to invest in the story emotionally. I'm glad I finished it, but I suspect it would be more enjoyable for someone who reads more detective fiction than I do.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cale

    This book so didn't go in the direction I was expecting. With a title like Gooseberry Bluff Community college of Magic, I was expecting a silly Community-esque experience, but with magic. Instead, I got a fairly strong procedural story as Joy Wilkins, undercover for the Federal Bureau of Magical Affairs, finds herself getting deeper into a variety of interconnected issues. Her story is fairly strong, and Joy is an interesting character (I don't think I've ever read a story with a protagonist who This book so didn't go in the direction I was expecting. With a title like Gooseberry Bluff Community college of Magic, I was expecting a silly Community-esque experience, but with magic. Instead, I got a fairly strong procedural story as Joy Wilkins, undercover for the Federal Bureau of Magical Affairs, finds herself getting deeper into a variety of interconnected issues. Her story is fairly strong, and Joy is an interesting character (I don't think I've ever read a story with a protagonist who is face blind, but it works really well here), but there are also a number of secondary characters whose stories kind of detract at the beginning, but then pay off later as they start interconnecting more. The writing style isn't showy at all, but it is eminently readable - usually I save my ebooks for weekend reading at the gym, but I tore through this one whenever I had a chance. It went in very unexpected ways very often, with some strong action moments, interesting mysteries, and a fascinating cast. While the ending gives some resolution, it's definitely just the first section of a longer story, and I look forward to reading more.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Marlene

    Quite enjoyed this. Found myself even bringing my Kindle to work so I could keep reading. I found the writing to be enjoyable and not cheesy. It felt as if it was more mystery than fantasy and I liked that. (Sometimes the fantasy is the whole point of the writing and the mystery gets lost.) There was a sub-plot that intertwined itself through the main story of the book. We got some partial closure on this but it was left open, presumably for future stories. The book seems to be set up to be a se Quite enjoyed this. Found myself even bringing my Kindle to work so I could keep reading. I found the writing to be enjoyable and not cheesy. It felt as if it was more mystery than fantasy and I liked that. (Sometimes the fantasy is the whole point of the writing and the mystery gets lost.) There was a sub-plot that intertwined itself through the main story of the book. We got some partial closure on this but it was left open, presumably for future stories. The book seems to be set up to be a series as there was quite a bit of (and yet not enough) of world-building and a few major plot lines set up but only partially resolved. A lot was introduced and yet not necessarily followed to completion. The book was originally sold as in Kindle serial format, so it has that feel to it - even the "chapters" are labeled "Episodes." I am hoping that there are more books to the series. Actually, this felt like an exciting first season of a new television show. I don't think this book's going to be enough for die-hard SFF fans. But to me this was just great - a quick and run and engaging read. I could totally see this as a series on SyFy.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    I started reading this book as an experiment with the Amazon Serials format. They sell you the whole book up front, but you only receive an "episode" at a time. The author estimates how many episodes there will be so you have some idea of the length. At the moment I’m four episodes in out of an expected 12. I’m enjoying the story and the waiting isn’t the worst thing in the world. An optimistic person might say the waiting increases the enjoyment what with expectation and all. A pessimist might I started reading this book as an experiment with the Amazon Serials format. They sell you the whole book up front, but you only receive an "episode" at a time. The author estimates how many episodes there will be so you have some idea of the length. At the moment I’m four episodes in out of an expected 12. I’m enjoying the story and the waiting isn’t the worst thing in the world. An optimistic person might say the waiting increases the enjoyment what with expectation and all. A pessimist might say that it’s trying and they really want to read the rest and are frustrated to be waiting. A reader will look at both and say, “Hey, the story is good enough that your paying money for it and enjoying yourself, I’m sold!” I guess I’m a reader because the prospect of getting a great book for $1.99 is very enticing, delayed satisfaction or not. So, I’ll revise this review to include more commentary about the book once all is said and done, but until then just know that I’m really enjoying reading this book whether it’s owing to or in-spite of the serial format.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Hilary Moon Murphy

    I picked up this book primarily because it had been recommended to me by two Minnesota authors that I respect, and one awesome librarian. I must say, it hasn't disappointed me yet. I was not certain that I would enjoy the serial format, but the updates come quickly and are always quirky and enjoyable. One of the things that I like about it is its originality. This is not a Harry Potter retread, though it does share the HP books sense of fun. Some of the things that I have enjoyed so far: 1) Conver I picked up this book primarily because it had been recommended to me by two Minnesota authors that I respect, and one awesome librarian. I must say, it hasn't disappointed me yet. I was not certain that I would enjoy the serial format, but the updates come quickly and are always quirky and enjoyable. One of the things that I like about it is its originality. This is not a Harry Potter retread, though it does share the HP books sense of fun. Some of the things that I have enjoyed so far: 1) Conversations with obnoxious and co-dependent ghosts 2) Learning how law enforcement integrates magical psionics as part of their daily protocols 3) A well thought out demon smuggling ring 4) A diverse cast of odd characters, all with their own engaging problems, curses and neuroses 5) Library stacks that one can truly lose oneself in 6) A modern magical world that makes sense, and is unlike others that I have seen in fiction. This serial makes me laugh out loud, and continually surprises me. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.