Book Review Memoirs of a Road Warrior

Title: Memoirs of a Road Warrior

Author: Fred Klein
Genre: Humor
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Andrew Livingston, a young, naive college graduate gets a job as a sales engineer for a crazy company. Set in New York in the corporate raider 1980’s this humorous book is a recounting of all the strange history of a high-tech company with an eccentric CEO.

This character gathers together a strange assortment of employees who endeavor to manufacture and sell their products to an equally strange collection of customers. The book tells of their amusing conflicts and experiences throughout the decades.

Follow the company’s encounters with Chinese agents, horse trailers, rocket fuel disasters, con-men, bedbugs, and airplane crashes. Learn how not to run a business!

In Memoirs of a Road Warrior, the reader follows the life story of Andrew Livingston, a college graduate who is quite naive about his expectations from life. Andrew gets a job as a sales engineer for a company that is slightly odd, and with a CEO who is even weirder. As Andrew and his colleagues try to get their company off the ground to customers who are as strange as the employees, hilarity ensues.

Memoirs of a Road Warrior is a rollercoaster of hilarious situations, one rapidly following the next, and this book brought more than one smile to my face. The writing was fluent and entertaining, and if you’re looking for a book that’ll make you smile, this is definitely it.


Book Review: Scooter Nation by A.B. Funkhauser

Author: A.B. Funkhauser
Genre: Humor / Noir
Age Group: Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Aging managing director Charlie Forsythe begins his work day with a phone call to Jocasta Binns, the unacknowledged illegitimate daughter of Weibigand Funeral Home founder Karl Heinz Sr. Alma Wurtz, a scooter bound sextenarian, community activist, and neighborhood pain in the ass is emptying her urine into the flower beds, killing the petunias. Jocasta cuts him off, reminding him that a staff meeting has been called. Charlie, silenced, is taken aback: he has had no prior input into the meeting and that, on its own, makes it sinister.

The second novel in the UNAPOLOGETIC LIVES series, SCOOTER NATION takes place two years after HEUER LOST AND FOUND. This time, funeral directors Scooter Creighton and Carla Moretto Salinger Blue take centre stage as they battle conflicting values, draconian city by-laws, a mendacious neighborhood gang bent on havoc, and a self absorbed fitness guru whose presence shines an unwanted light on their quiet Michigan neighborhood.

When I started reading Scooter Nation, I had no idea what to expect and quite frankly, I’m still a bit shocked by how much fun the book turned out to be. The book starts by introducing a bunch of characters, and finally settles on Scooter Creighton and Carla Moretto Salinger Blue as the main characters. They’re funeral directors, but handling funerals is only one of the struggles they have to get through during the course of the book.

The book is full of surprises. The characters are three-dimensional and entertaining, in particular Scooter, but it takes a while for the readers to really get to the bottom of a character’s personality and connect with them. The writing flows nicely, and it’s quite fast-paced. The plot is filled with surprises, and I honestly had no idea where the book would go next or what direction it would take. A lot is going on at the same time, and there’s always one conflict or another, making it a very entertaining read.

Book Review: Facial by Jeff Strand

23353557Title: Facial

Author: Jeff Strand

Genre: Horror, Dark Fiction, Dark Humor

Age Group: Adult (18+)

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Greg has just killed the man he hired to kill one of his wife’s many lovers. He’s now got a dead body in his office.
Carlton, Greg’s brother, desperately needs a dead body. It’s kind of related to the lion corpse that he found in his basement.
This is the normal part of the story.
From Jeff Strand, the author of Benjamin’s Parasite, The Sinister Mr. Corpse, and Fangboy, comes a tale that’s weird even by his standards.
Facial. It’s not about what you’re thinking. Well, okay, part of it is…

In Facial, Greg killed the man he hired to kill one of his wife’s lovers, which leaves him with a dead body in his office. That comes in handy considering Carlton, Greg’s brother, could really use a dead body. The reason why is related to a lion corpse he found in his basement, and a face that mysterious appeared in his basement floor. The face demands dead people, in particular their heads, and because when a face appears on your floor and starts making insane requests, you better start doing what it says, the brothers start feeding the face. Next thing they know, a new face appears. And another. All those faces, demanding food, demanding dead people.

This book is messed up. The brothers have little qualms about killing people, and they actually start enjoying it. The author has a real talent for mixing the macabre with humor. Making serial killing sound hilarious is a rare talent. The humor is weird and bizarre, and you need to be a special kind of crazy to enjoy this book, but turns out I’m just that.

It’s entertaining even though you don’t want it to be. The writing is excellent, and the plot is definitely original. Fans of bizarro fiction will enjoy this one.

Book Review: The Bleaklisted Books by Donna M. Brown & David Brown

BleaklistedBooksTitle: The Bleaklisted Books
Authors: Donna Brown, David M. Brown
Genre: Non Fiction: Humour/Pets & Animals
Rating: 4,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

My mini-irons,

I urge you to embrace the goose-spell of Animal Farm and you will find sanctuary when our difficult war is over. I will add, of course, that given that conquering the world means a long, long, long, long, long war, I will permit you to read another book every now and again.

Just remember which books are bleak-listed; e.g. Barry Potterer, 100 Years of Silly Tudor, Prude and Perjury, The Hungary Olympic Games, The Chronicles of Nerdia and Of Mike and Ben.

In the meantime, here is a list of books I have vetted and will reconsider for approval if the appro… apprap… proper changes are made. Read this manyule carefully mini-irons.

Your Cat-tain

Charlie Brown

Oh my God. What can I say about The Bleaklisted Books except that it’s AMAZING? This is one of the most original, laugh-out-loud hilarious books I’ve ever read. Charlie Brown is a cat who likes reading literature and giving comments about it, and bleaklisting several books, like Barry Potterer, Prude and Perjury, The Hungary Olympic Games and more. Other books however, are almost approved by this literature-savvy cat.

It’s hard to describe this book because it’s just so unique. I would recommend it to anyone who loves to read, and who wants to view literature from the unique and hilarious perspective of a cat.

Book Review and Giveaway for I Am Ella. Buy Me. by Joan Ellis

cover-4-1Title: I am Ella. Buy me.

Author: Joan Ellis

Genre: Humor / Chick lit / Romance

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.


‘I am a ginger tom. I am a boy racer. I am a housewife. I am a pain in the arse.’

Ella David is Bridget Jones meets Peggy from Mad Men.

Working in Soho’s mad, bad Adland in the sexist 80s, Ella is a rare beast – a woman in a man’s world, dodging her sleazy boss, Peter.

Based on Joan’s experiences in Soho’s mad, bad Adland, this fast-paced, funny tale is set against a backdrop of Thatcher’s Britain when money trumps morals
and lust is a must. Thankfully, Ella knows love is more powerful but can two unlikely friendships help her go from a girl in the firing line to a woman calling the shots?

I Am Ella. Buy Me. is the story of Ella, a woman who struggles to find out what she wants in life. She works as a copywriter, but gets anything but fulfillment from her job. Her boss is constantly harrassing her, trying to get her into his bed, and Ella has trouble continuing to deny his advances when he gets more and more persistent. Ella’s world ranges from frustrating to hilarious. The 80s form an interesting setting, with sexism, the power of money, and lack of morality. This is one of the first books I’ve read set in that time period, and it’s a real eye-opener.

The writing is down-to-earth, not too fancy, but this style makes it easier to relate to the characters, in particular Ella, and her two unlikely friends, who each add a different layer to the story. Ella also has some love troubles – she’s in love with Tom, an up-and-coming rock star, but the rock lifestyle might make his morals more questionable than she’d like to believe.

Yet despite all the drama and frustration, Ella is still just the girl-next-door. She could be anyone, which makes it so easy to connect with her as a reader. She’s just an ordinary person.

This is a hilarious chick lit novel that I would highly recommend if you want to have a laugh, or if you want to find a character you can easily connect with.


I’m giving away one .Pdf copy of “I Am Ella. Buy Me.” The contest ends on December 8. Please leave a comment below to participate.

Book Review: Adventures with Ragweed by Linda Lou Crosby

RAGWEEDCOVERTitle: Adventures with Ragweed
Author: Linda Lou Crosby
Genre: Young Adult, Humor, Short Stories
Age Group: Young Adult and Younger
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Whimsy – Humorous Tales of Adventure, Friendship and Outdoor Ventures For Young Adult Readers and those young at Heart Adventures with Ragweed is a collection of humorous short stories filled with adventure and family themes.

Ragweed is a tribute to the whimsical part of each of us. Follow this young teen and her best friend, Marney as they travel to Mexico for a fishing trip, where the family is to shoot a pilot for a television show, instead, find themselves in an unexpected sea storm.

Laugh out loud as Ragweed takes on the tennis elite at the country club or attempts to rearrange their perfectly cut lawns.

Always one to learn new things, this young freckled face gal with the unruly blonde hair, builds a float, rides a horse and grows a garden – always getting into unintentional trouble and conning her friends to partake. Each task done with her own unique vies of the world.

Light Hearted and Funny

These stories are meant to entertain. It’s difficult to narrow it down to one specific genre as the book is a collection of short stories suitable for young adults as well as for an older crowd with a sense of humor. Family Relationships, Friendships, Essays and Humor are categories all presented within the pages of this book.

If you like the outdoors you might enjoy reading about Ragweed’s horse riding exploits or her compost-creating stunts. She spends a great deal of time playing sports and in the garden. Most of the stories are based on the author’s own experiences when she was a young adult but some of us know that inner youth tends to follow us into adulthood – so if you have similar backgrounds, these tales will make you grin.

Beautifully Illustrated

Adventures with Ragweed is a different kind of book. It’s a humorous short story collection aimed at young adults, although I thought it would be more appropriate for a younger audience. The stories read more like shorts for middle graders, but the younger age range of young adults could enjoy it as well.

Ragweed, the main character, is a quirky, enjoyable heroine. She stumbles from one adventure into the next. All stories are complete with a good dosis of humor. They also focus on regular day to day things, like riding horses, or building gardens, but it makes everything sound like an adventure.

Great writing and beautiful illustrations too. Recommended for kids, and adults who want to feel like a kid again.

Book Review: The Emperor’s New Clothes by Aldous Mercer

RR1ATitle: The Emperor’s New Clothes

Author: Aldous Mercer

Genre: Science Fiction, M/M Romance

Age Group: Adult (18+)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Purchase: Amazon, Smashwords

Imperial Agent Royce Ree needs to pull off the biggest heist the Universe has ever seen, or it’s bye-bye cushy government job, hello cleaning toilets in a dive-bar on Baga-V.

To succeed, he will need help from the last person he’d ever ask: his ex.

The Emperor’s New Clothes is amazing. It’s so hilarious, imaginative, and refreshingly original that I couldn’t put it down once I started reading. The main character, Royce Ree, has a sense of humor that completely matches my own.

Here’s an example from one of the first pages.

“Retrieval of what, agent?” asked the Spymaster, finally.

“Their impeccable sense of style, sir.”

“And yet…and yet what you actually brought me was their Royal Princess, intent upon marrying the Emperor.”

Royce didn’t dare shift his gaze from that perfectly neutral wall to look at the other occupant of the room.

“You also,” continued the Spymaster, “brought me half of Baldasshi’s parliament, six hundred Nova class battleships, and a menagerie of wild animals.”

“Psychic wild animals, sir,” ventured Royce.

Don’t tell me you can read that without even a hint of a smile, because I certainly can’t. Anyway, the book is filled with humoristic quirks like that, so I had a smile plastered on my face for most of my time reading. It’s also a very fast read. It was 328 pages in my .epub reader, but it went very fast. Now, back to the story.

Royce Ree is an imperial agent, who has a mission he can’t fail. Unfortunately, right at the start of it, he bumps into Les, the man he was once married to, and the last person he wanted to see. What happens next is of course, an argument, in the ventilation ducts of all places. They’re forced to work together, which means arguing more than cooperating for most of the time.

There were some minor flaws. The first was the ominipresent narrator. The book is told mostly from Royce’s POV, but every so often, the narrator jumps into Les’ mind, giving us his thoughts. Now, the omnipresent narrator (or whatever you want to call it, that’s the term my English teacher used in high school) isn’t always bad, but it’s not necessary here, and is actually a little confusing, because it doesn’t happen very often, almost like it happens without the author noticing.

Secondly, there are some typos. For example, on page 14 of my copy, right after the small introduction, there’s a sentence telling us where the characters are at (each chapter starts this way, which I don’t think is necessary either, it’s quite obvious where they are. It should only happen if we change perspective to other characters, not stick with the same ones) saying “Ventination Duct, Institute of Research and Development, Baldessh”. Which should actually be “Ventilation Duct”. Now, it’s no biggie, but the error glared at me from my screen because the words are bold and caps.

Anyway, those tiny annoyances didn’t really ruin anything. The plot was great, the characters were intriguing – I kind of want to invite Royce to every party I’m going to throw for the rest of my life, because he’s plain awesome – and the humor added an extra dimension to the story. The author is definitely very talented, and he’s crafted an imaginative, entertaining world, which I long to revisit. Please write more, and please hold on to that sense of humor.


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Book Review: Perpetuating The Species by Spencer Phelps

15704144Title: Perpetuating The Species
Author: Spencer Phelps
Genre: Humor, Fiction
Publisher: Book Baby
Publication Date: July 1st 2012
Goodreads | Author Website | Amazon | B&N

On one hand, Mike Lynch hates kids. He can’t stand how they scream all the time, poop themselves, everything. That probably comes from his father reminding Mike throughout his childhood that he was never wanted. On the other hand, that ice of indifference surrounding Mike’s biological clock starts to thaw after his girlfriend gives birth to someone else’s child.
Mike believes everything has a reason for existing, including our naughty bits. He now has a desperate urge to fulfill his basic human duty by using those bits to procreate. He just doesn’t want to deal with the aftermath. To get around this self-imposed dilemma, Mike takes a three-day weekend trip to Indiana, finds some women who are also looking to get laid, and tries to get them pregnant. He justifies his actions by assuming the people he encounters are going to get pregnant during one-night stands anyway. At least with his being the sperm donor, their child will be born to serve a greater purpose: Mike’s.
When he returns to Indiana a year later to see if the scheme was a success, confronting the results of his actions elicits more emotions than he knew he had. Now Mike has no idea how he’ll react when he discovers his child.

Perpetuating The Species is a humorous fiction novel that talks about a journey of self-discovery. At the start of the novel, we meet our main character, Mike. Working at a tourist agency in Marion, Ohio, Mike has a pretty normal life except for one thing – his girlfriend, Sarah, is pregnant. Mike isn’t prepared to become a Dad at all. In fact, he’s confident he’d be the worst Dad ever, following his own father’s example. But still, he loves Sarah, so he wants to give this kid thing a try. Until the baby is born and it turns out Mike isn’t the Dad at all.

Wallowing over the break-up, Mike feels depressed, until his best buddy Ben comes up with a “genius” idea. What about they go on a weekend trip, and Mike tries to impregnate three women during the weekend? Instead of seeing why this is the more horrible idea ever, Mike goes along with it. The two men end up driving all the way to Marion, Indiana where over the course of a weekend, Mike sleeps with three women – beautiful Phoebe, depressed gothic girl Dana and middle-aged Trisha who lives in a trailer park. Will the experience change Mike’s view on life, or will he still be as adversed toward children as he was at the beginning?

Perpetuating The Species is a well-written, humorous account of a man scared to become a father, and terrified of being as bad at it as his own father was. The writing is fluent, and the pace is high and consistent. Most of this novel is written from Mike’s POV, and the only problem with that was…I really didn’t like Mike. Not only is he an egotistical, superficial human being who goes on the most idiotic quest I’ve ever heard of to try and do – what exactly? Procreate? Create life? Become a Dad? Figure out if he’s Dad material after all? From an outsider’s point of view, it just looks like he wants to hurt people. Alright, maybe not intentionally, but as soon as you sit down to think about it, you realize almost instantly that nothing good can come from Ben and Mike’s quest. Also, the way Mike describes women is sometimes, well, sexist. He dotes on Phoebe because she’s beautiful, but then can’t wait to get away from Dana because she’s not.

Now, I really don’t like Mike, but I doubt it was the author’s intention to make us like his main character, especially at the beginning. That’s why the main purpose of this book is Mike’s road to self-discovery, filled with some humor and hilarious situations along the way. I definitely applaud the author for taking a chance and making his character not instantly likeable. That takes a lot of courage, and it makes it that much harder to get your audience to continue reading. I had to read this from start to end though, so that definitely wasn’t a problem.

Along the way, I began to warm up to Mike. Some men will probably recognize themselves or part of themselves in Mike. I do think this book is aimed primarily at men, and since I’m a woman, I often had more trouble with understanding Mike’s sense of humor (which is often mildly degrading toward women). I loved one particular scene with Mike and Dana, when he finally shows us a bit of another side to him, a warmer, heartier side. I was a bit dissapointed to see that side disappear that quickly, but was glad when it resurfaced.

Perpetuating The Species combines humor and an interesting story, with intriguing characters, and makes for an entertaining read.

Book Review: A Vampire’s Deadly Delight by Liv Rancourt

13438160Title: A Vampire’s Deadly Delight
Author: Liv Rancourt
Genre: Vampires, Paranormal, Clicklit, Novella
Publication Date: January 11th 2012
Publisher: Black Opal Books
Rating: 3,5 stars
Review copy thanks to Bookish Snob Promotions.
Smashwords | B&N | Amazon

She’s a quiet, unassuming bookstore owner by day, but by night…
Kristen has a deadly secret—when she smells a vampire, she turns into Jai, a beauti-licious babe who makes vamps permanently dead. To a vamp, Jai is like ambrosia. They can’t resist her. She uses this attraction, plus her super strength and her trusty blade, Mr. Sticky, to end their undead lives. The thrill of wearing miniskirts without worrying about cellulite stifles any qualms Kristen might have about killing the undead. Being Jai is the most fun she has ever had—until they come up against the one vampire Jai can’t kill. If he and Jai have a history, as he claims, Jai can’t remember it…or him.
But when her work catches the attention of some old enemies—who won’t hesitate to destroy Kristen if it also means the end of Jai—this vampire may be their only hope. Can Kristen and Jai learn to tell the difference between good and evil in time to defeat Jai’s ancient nemesis? Or will being Jai’s hostess cost Kristen more than just a little sleep?

I’m not a big fan of chicklit, and A Vampire’s Deadly Delight is definitely chicklit. But surprisingly enough, I found myself enjoying the story. It’s a bit short, hence why it’s a novella of course, but this time I wasn’t too bothered with the fact that it was a short book. It’s like you realize from the start that this is meant to be a novella. It’s light-hearted, funny and cute, and just a light read for a casual winter afternoon.

This book actually has two heroines. Tricky part? They both share the same body, which of course leads to hilarious circumstances and events. The body apparently belongs to Kristen, one of these two heroines, and is sometimes inhabited or possessed (whatever term you prefer) by Jai, our other heroine. To help keep things simple, Kristen and Jai’s POVs are in different fonts. They both talk in first person, and they’re actually surprisingly easy to relate to. I found myself likin both Kristen and Jai, and finding it hard to decide who I should like more. Kristen is a shy, quiet and calm book store owner who, duh, loves books. That’s why I could relate to her almost instantly. But then, as soon as she smells the undead, she morphs into Jai, vampire slayer extraordinaire, who reminded me a lot of Buffy, my favorite heroine ever. So deciding between a fellow bibliophile or a kick-ass vampire slayer was a bit too hard, so I settled to like them both.

Of course there are enough hot guys to make this story interesting, and the wit and humor of both the author and characters kept me turning page after page. However, this isn’t just some brainless chicklit. There’s actually a story behind all of it, as Jai’s powers seem to be taning and an old arch nemesis of hers resurfaces. Kristen and Jai have to team up to fight him, and they’ll have to learn how to put their differences aside – something which sounds easier than it is. If you’re looking for a light read that will bring a smile to your face, and sometimes even cause you to burst out laughing, then A Vampire’s Deadly Delight is a great choice.

Book Review: Random Magic by Sasha Soren

6773540Title: Random Magic
Author: Sasha Soren
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Humor
Publisher: Beach Books, LLC
Publication Date: January 1st 2010
RMT Tour – Pirates! | Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 4 stars
Review copy provided by author.

When absent-minded Professor Random misplaces the main character from Alice in Wonderland, young Henry Witherspoon must book-jump to fetch Alice before chaos theory kicks in and the world vanishes. Along the way he meets Winnie Flapjack, a wit-cracking doodle witch with nothing to her name but a magic feather and a plan. Such as it is. Henry and Winnie brave the Dark Queen, whatwolves, pirates, Struths, and fluttersmoths, Priscilla and Charybdis, obnoxiously cheerful vampires, Baron Samedi, a nine-dimensional cat, and one perpetually inebriated Muse to rescue Alice and save the world by tea time.

I was contacted about Random Magic a couple of weeks ago, and I was quite excited to be part of the tour. It was only when I visited the RMT Tour – Pirates! website that I realized the author has been touring with Random Magic on and off for the last year. It must have really taken a lot of time and effort, and I find it pretty amazing and wonderful that someone goes through all that trouble to promote their book. It shows that the author really loves his work, and is still as passionate about it as in the beginning. After I signed up for the tour, I got an entire package in my mailbox approximately a week later. In the package there was the book (of course!), but much more as well. Naturally, I didn’t get the references at first, but it became clear enough when I read the book. There was a rubber ducky, a garland with hearts, a pirate card, a beautiful red feather, a wonderful bookmark and much more. It was quite the surprise, and I felt very happy with it. Not every author puts together an entire box full of goodies referencing to their book. It was highly original, and it raised my expectation for the book.

Just a warning ahead, I promised that I would do a dual language review for this book, as a special bonus feature for the Pirates Tour. This is a one-time occassion though, and I’m not going to write dual language reviews for every book I read from now on. One time occassion, people, so enjoy it while it lasts 😉 My English review will be first, and then I will add my review in Flemish/Dutch below. There’s also an additional bonus feature, which is an extremely cool Pirate’s Game! I made an extra post for the bonus feature.  Aye, matey! Which reminds me of how very suitable this is, a pirate-theme post, right in the release week of Pirates of the Carribean 4: On Stranger Tides. On another note, go see that movie. It’s amazing. And now, on to the review.

English Review

I had trouble deciding whether Random Magic was actually, as the title suggests, completely random, or, as I have been inclined to believe after reading the book, utterly brilliant. I vote for random brilliance. And I must admit that this is one of the most difficult reviews I’ve had to write in like, ever. It’s hard trying to put my thoughts into words, because in all honesty, my thoughts about the book are probably just as random as the book itself.

First, there’s a reference to haunted houses, which doesn’t really make all that much sense, but is hilarious all the same. Next, we see that the family sollicitor has been called because Henry Witherspoon has been missing for three weeks. While his friends worry about his whereabouts, a young girl comes strolling in, a girl who looks exactly like Alice from Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland. She tells Henry’s friends not to worry, because he is exactly where he should be, in a place where he has been before, and where he always wanted to return. It’s pretty clear by now that Alice loves to talk in riddles, or that she has a very awkward way of explaining herself. She then confides them with the story of how Henry first travelled to Edgeland, a land between the pages of a book, because Professor Random – who is everything his name suggests him to be – was stupid enough to put Alice back in the wrong book. Unfortunately, the professor puts Henry in the wrong book as well, Myths and Legends rather than Alice in Wonderland. And Henry, who probably thinks his luck must have run up a long time ago, ends up in the middle of the mob scene, the mob’s target Winnie Flapjack, a self-proclaimed doodle witch. What Henry doesn’t know is that he probably ran into the person most capable of helping him find his way in this strange, mystical world. Because if someone can take Henry to find Alice back, then it’s probably Winnie Flapjack.

After escaping the raging mob, solving riddles to cross a chasm, riding on the back of a whatwolf, visiting the castle of the notorious De Morgue’s family and having a rendez-vous with none other than the Muses, they are only half-way in their adventures. They still have to cross the Peculiar Sea, get rid of a bunch of annoying Pirates, find the house of the Baba Yaga, escape a floating city where people turn into hideous monsters, defeat the Red Queen in a chess match…and that all before tea time.

The creativity of Sascha Soren knows no boundaries. She finds inspiration in Greek mythology (the muses for instance, but more about them later), today’s urban legends (vampire, the De Morgue family), Alice in Wonderland itself (the riddles, the Red Queen), folklore (Baba Yaga) and her own imagination. How much more funnier and interesting can it get? This by far the most original novel I have ever read. It would not surprise me if teachers were talking about it in their literature classes ten years for now, and call it something like the “random genre”. I know that there’s currently this movement in poetry, of poets slapping random words together to make a poem, and I can well imagine Random Magic being the first prose work in the “random genre”. It fits with the 21st century style of wanting everything and getting nothing, our lives itself being a mismatch of all different things. No one is “something” anymore, we are all several “somethings”, randomly put together in constructions that miraculously work. Random Magic works a bit like this as well. It’s mostly dialogue-driven, and at first it seems utterly random and hard to make something out of it, but then it all clicks together and you realize you’re looking at a piece of utmost brilliance.

Sascha Soren takes Lewis Carroll’s sparkling, bright and imaginative story of Alice in Wonderland, and practically puts the lightbulb on. We see a world that’s even more crazy, even more random, even more unreal, and all the more fun than the world we have grown accostumed to. Just take a second to imagine it: rubber duckies changing into actual submarines, a real-life chess game with actual people as the pawns that can only be compared to the chess game Harry Potter was submitted to in one of the first books in the series, the muses actually come to life, a strange and peculiar family that reminds you instantly of the Adams Family. As soon as you open Random Magic, you’re in for a rollercoaster of events, all equally bizarre and yet strangely familiar. Searching for the references to classic works of literature or more modern things like TV shows and popular book series of nowadays, is basically a sport on its own. The humor is amazing, and I had a smile on my face from page one till the very end. Of course, it’s completely and utterly random – but that’s the fun of it.

Winnie Flapjack is a cheerful, determined and intelligent character. I instantly liked her, with her quirky attitude and light-hearted humor. And she’s a doodle witch. Is there anything remotely more interesting than a doodle witch? I don’t think even Baba Yaga can beat that in terms of coolness. Henry on the other hand, is of course unfamiliar with the strange world he has been trapped in, and is constantly wondering “why this” “why that”, while he should probably just shut up already and let Winnie do the talking. They’re an odd pair by definition, equally random as their surroundings, and their friendship turning into love seems a random event as well. I was glad to see Henry finally becoming more independent towards the end of the book – it was about time! Their adventures are hilarious, their interactions ranging between “kill Henry now” and “aawww, so cute”, and they fit the rest of the theme of the book. Random.

I must admit that there were two scenes I enjoyed the most in this book. The first being the scene at the house of the muses. May I introduce you to H.P. (Lovecraft, for the non-litterate amongst us), Shakes (Shakespeare), Bauds (Baudelaire), Poe (Edgar Allen Poe), a bunch of gloomy Russian poets, quite a few Georges, and other notables, who hang around the House of the Nine Muses. Also, all of the muses have nicknames, some of which are so random, they will make you crack up with laughter. Note also that H.P.’s comment on just about everything is “ghastly”, and Bauds actually says “zut alors” occasionally. The second of my favorite scenes was the scene at the home of the DeMorgue family. I’ve always loved the Addams family, and the DeMorgue’s made me think back about how much fun it used to be to watch an episode of the Addams family. That said, the DeMorgues are probably even more ghastly and gaunt.

There’s an additional chapter added at the end of the book describing how Lady DeMorgue got into the state she is now. I really enjoyed reading that chapter, and although it’s several tones darker than the light-heartedness of the rest of the book, I found it highly amusing and extremely original as well. How many times can one cheat death, or challenge someone as terrifiyng as Death itself or the God of the Underworld? Anyway, I must agree with the author’s and editor’s decision that adding that chapter in the book would have made the pace slow down significantly, but it was a nice bonus at the end.

Now, there’s a reason why I gave this book four stars rather than five. I felt like I couldn’t get an actual grasp of the characters because they were a bit too random. As their surroundings, they’re a mismatch of feelings and emotions, and it was hard to actually understand some of their actions. I also felt like sometimes the plotline was lacking (it’s all about the journey here, not the destination) and there were too many secondary characters to keep track off. Also, the cover really doesn’t fit the book. It’s too normal, too ordinary for that. Not that I’d make any book lose points because their cover isn’t great, but it’s just a note I would like to add.

If you’re tired of literature the way it’s always been, and you’re up for something so completely random, so completely hilarious and so completely mind-blowing that it’s going to change your perspective on books forever, then Random Magic definetely is the rigth book for you. It offers everything from an imaginative plot to hilarious characters to brilliant dialogues and references to popular authors, musicians, myths and legends. I would recommend it to everyone who’s not afraid of something new and shiny, and isn’t wary of the peculiar and the strange.

Flemish/Dutch Review

Het was moeilijk voor mij om te beslissen of Random Magic nu eigenlijk, zoals de titel suggeerde, compleet willekeurig was of, zoals ik neigde om te geloven na het boek gelezen te hebben, subliem en brilliant. Mijn stem gaat uit naar willekeurige ‘random’ genialiteit. En ik moet toegeven dat dit ook een van de moeilijkste recensies was ooit om te schrijven; het is lastig om mijn gedachten in woorden om te zetten omdat ze, als ik eerlijk ben, bijna net zo ‘random’ zijn als het boek zelf.

We beginnen met een referentie naar spookhuizen, wat niet veel belang heeft voor de rest van het verhaal, maar toch een zeker niveau van hilariteit bevat. In het volgende hoofdstuk zien we dat de advocaat van de familie is opgeroepen omdat Henry Witherspoon, één van de hoofdpersonages uit het boek, al drie weken spoorloos is. Terwijl zijn vrienden zich zorgen maken over waar hij nu weer uithangt, komt een jong meisje argeloos binnenwandelen. Dat meisje lijkt sprekend op Alice uit Wonderland, uit het gelijknamige boek van Lewis Carroll. Ze vertelt Henry’s vrienden dat ze zich geen zorgen moeten maken, omdat hun vriend precies is waar hij behoort te zijn en met wie hij behoort te zijn. Het wordt al snel duidelijk dat Alice graag in raadsels praat, en dat ze een nogal vreemde manier heeft om zichzelf uit te drukken. Ze vertelt de bezorgde vrienden een verhaal over hoe Henry de eerste keer een reis maakte naar Edgeland, een land dat zich bevinden tussen de pagina’s van elk boek. De reden waarom Henry zo’n bizarre reis maakte was omdat professor Random – die alles is wat zijn naam betekent – niet oplettend genoeg was, en zo Alice in het verkeerde boek terugplaatste. Blijkt dat Random nog steeds niet leerde uit zijn fouten, want hij slaagde erin ook Henry in het verkeerde boek terecht te doen komen. Henry, die tegen dan van mening was dat hij het minste geluk had van wie dan ook in de hele wereld, komt terecht in het midden van een achtervolginsscène door een uitjouwende massa. Winnie Flapjack, een doodle heks, is degene naar wie de massa op zoek is. Wat Henry echter nog niet beseft, is dat hij net die persoon is tegengekomen, die het meeste kans heeft om hem in één stuk terug naar huis te krijgen. Want als er iemand is die Henry kan helpen Alice terug te vinden, dan is dat wel Winnie Flapjack.

Nadat ze ontsnapt zijn van de woedende massa, raadsels opgelost hebben om een brug over te steken, gereden hebben om de rug van een whatwolf, een bezoekje gebracht hebben aan het kasteel van de beruchte familie DeMorgue, en terechtgekomen zijn in het Huis van de Negen Muzen, zijn ze nog maar halfweg hun avonturen. Ze moeten nog steeds de Vreemde Zee oversteken, een bende bloeddorstige piraten verslaan, het huis vinden van de Baba Yaga, ontsnappen uit een drijvende staf waar mensen veranderen in afschuwelijk monsters, en de Rode Koningin verslaan in een spelletje schaak…en dat allemaal voor theetijd.

De creativiteit van Sascha Soren is eindeloos. Ze vindt inspiratie in de Griekse mythologie (bijvoorbeeld de negen muzen), hedendaagse urban legends (de vampires, de familie De Morgue), de originele versie van Alice in Wonderland door Lewis Carroll (de raadsels, de Rode Koningin), folklore (Baba Yaga), en haar eigen inbeeldingsvermogen. Hoe grappiger en interessanter kan het nog worden? Dit is het meest originele boek dat ik ooit gelezen heb, en het zou me niet verbazen moeten leerkrachten hier binnen tien jaar in hun literatuurlessen over praten, en het dopen als het eerste boek in het ‘random genre’. Op het moment is er een beweging aan de gang in hedendaagse dichtkunde waarin de dichters willekeurige woorden samenplakken om zo tot een gedicht te komen, en ik kan me goed genoeg inbeelden dat Random Magic het eerste proza-werk zou worden om tot dit genre te behoren. Het past ook goed in de 21e eeuwse stijl van alles willen en niets krijgen, onze levens zelf een subliem voorbeeld van hoe men dingen kan samen gooien om met iets origineel en ‘random’ op te proppen te komen. Niemand is één iets, we zijn allemaal verschillende dingen, op een willekeurige manier samengesteld in constructies die op wonderbaarlijke wijze toch werken. Random Magic werkt een beetje op hetzelfde principe. Het zijn vooral de dialogen die het boek maken, en in eerste instantie lijkt het enorm willekeurig en moeilijk om er iets van te maken, maar op een bepaald moment klinkt het allemaal samen en kom je tot het besef dat je werkelijk een briljant werk aan het lezen bent.

Sascha Soren neemt Lewis Carroll’s prachtige, creatieve en originele verhaal van Alice in Wonderland, en het lijkt alsof ze plots de grote lamp aansteekt. We zien een wereld die nog gekker, nog willekeurig, en nog surrealistischer, en des te hilarischer, is dat de wereld die we al kennen uit het originele boeken. Beeldt het je gewoon eens in: rubberen badeendjes die veranderen in onderzeeërs, een spelletje schaak met echte mensen in plaats van pionnen een beetje zoals Harry Potter moest ondergaan in het eerste boek in de gelijknamige serie, de musen die als het ware tot leven komen op de bladzijden van het boek en een vreemde familie die je doet deken aan de Addams Family. Van zodra je Random Magic openslaat, kom je van het ene avontuur in het andere terecht, allemaal even bizar and toch op een rare manier bekend. Zoeken naar de referenties naar klassieke literaire werken of meer moderne dingen zoals TV Shows en populaire boekseries, wordt een sport op zichzelf. De humor is fantastisch, en ik had een lach op mijn gezicht vanaf de eerste pagina tot aan het einde. Natuurlijk is het volledig willekeurig – maar daar zit dan ook de humor.

Winnie Flapjack is een positief ingesteld, vastbesloten en intelligent personage. Ik mocht haar graag vanaf het begin, met haar positieve instelling en luchtige humor. En, ze is een doodle heks. Henry aan de andere kant, is natuurlijk niet bekend met de vreemde wereld waarin hij terecht komt, en stelt continue vragen zoals “waarom dit” en “waarom dat”, terwijl ik het gevoel had dat hij beter kon zwijgen en Winnie aan het woord kon laten. Per definitie zijn ze een vreemd paar, beiden net zo ‘random’ als de wereld waarin ze zich bevinden, en hun vriendschap die verandert in liefde lijkt eveneens willekeurig. Ik was blij om te zien dat Henry zich meer en meer onafhankelijk gaat opstellen naar het einde van het boek toe – dat werd tijd! Hun gezamenlijke avonturen zijn hilarisch, hun interacties variëren tussen “doe Henry nu dood” en “awww, zo schattig”, and ze passen precies bij het thema van het boek. Willekeurig. Random.

Ik moet toegeven dat er twee scenes waren die ik het leukst vond in het boek. De eerste was de scene in het Huis van de Muzen. Mag ik je voorstellen aan H.P. (Lovecraft, voor de niet-literaire fanatice onder ons), Shakes (Shakespeare), Bauds (Baudelaire), Poe (Edgar Allen Poe), een groep melancholische Russiche dichters, een handjevol Georges, en andere noemenswaardigen, die rondhangen in het Huis van de Muzen. Ook hebben alle Muzen bijnamen, waarvan sommige zo willekeurig zijn, dat ze je meteen in lachen doen uitbarsten. Let er ook op dat H.P.’s commentaar op bijna alles is “ghastly”, en dat Bauds geregeld terugvalt in “zut alors”. Mijn tweede favoriete scene was de scene in het huis van de DeMorgue familie. Ik ben altijd al een fan geweest van The Addams Family, en de DeMorgue’s lieten me terugdenken aan hoe leuk het altijd was om naar een episode van deze serie te kijken.

Er is een extra hoofdstuk toegevoegd op het einde van het boek, dat weergeeft hoe Lady DeMorgue geworden is zoals ze nu is. Ik vond het echt heel leuk om dat hoofdstuk te lezen, en ook al is het dan verschillende tonen duisterder dan de luchtigheid van de rest van het boek, ik vond het vrij interessant en origineel. Hoeveel keren kan men de Dood te slim af zijn, of iemand uitdagen die zo afschrikwekkend is als de Dood zelf of de God van de Onderwereld? In elk geval, ik moet het wel eens zijn met de beslissing van de auteur en de editor dat het toevoegen van dit hoofdstuk in het boek zelf, het boek significant zou vertragen. Het was toch een leuke bonus op het einde.

Er is wel degelijk een reden waarom ik dit boek vier sterren geef in plaats van vijf. Ik had het gevoel dat ik geen echte grip om de personages kon krijgen omdat ze een beetje te random waren. Net zoals de wereld rondom hen, zijn ze een samenloop van gevoelens en emoties, en het was moeilijk om sommige van hun acties te begrijpen. Ook had ik soms het gevoel dat het plot te wensen overliet (het belangrijkste is de reis, en niet de bestemming), en er waren teveel personages om ze allemaal te onthouden. De kaft was ook niet perfect voor het boek: ik vond hem veel te normaal.

Als je het beu bent om literatuur te lezen die normal en alledaags is, en je ziet het wel zitten om iets te lezen dat zo volledig willekeurig, zo volledig hilarisch en zo volledig fantastisch is dat het je perspectief op boeken voor eeuwig zal veranderen, dan is Random Magic zeker een geode keus. Het biedt alles van een creatief plot tot hilarische personages, briljante dialogen en referenties naar populaire auteurs, muzikanten, mythen en legenden. Ik zou het aanraden aan iedereen die niet bang is van iets nieuws en anders.