Gooseberry Bluff Community College of Magic: The Thirteenth Rib
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Gooseberry Bluff Community College of Magic: The Thirteenth Rib

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  424 ratings  ·  76 reviews
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...

Kindle Edition, 416 pages
Published February 12th 2013 by 47North
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Ziv Wities
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...more
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...more
Sep 10, 2013 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: kindle
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...more
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 va...more
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 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...more
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.
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.

This book sucked me in from the start with its eccentric title. When I started reading, I was amused how well Schwartz captured the feel of a community college setting (both for faculty and students) and then wove in the magic elements along with an entertaining alterna-history for the town and its surroundings.

It's so great when a book exceeds expectations. It was fun, interesting, had a seriously diverse cast of characters (really - if you have ever complained about books lacking diversity, go...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Richard Jones
A very nice, quite intricate adventure tale involving a world where magic works, order is for the bad guys, and our putative heroes are working on the side of chaos and disorder.

Mr. Schwartz does a nice job of creating a main character who feels very relatable, despite the fact that she has a disability that seems so very odd to me. She is face blind. That is, she looks at a face and has no idea who it is, even when she's looking in the mirror. She partly makes up for this disability by reading...more
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...more
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...more
This is really probably a 2.5 star book, but I'm erring on the positive side because I thought it finished stronger than it began (which, since it was published as a serial, is not all that surprising, maybe). I liked the premise and the world of the book, which is essentially our own with the addition of the discovery of magic rather than the atomic bomb during WWII. Unsurprisingly, that discovery causes problems of it's own, but it presents an interesting thought experiment. The main problems...more
This is actually one of the best fantasy novels I have read in a long time. Schwartz steps away from the trite and overdone supposedly fantasy genre vampire and werewolf supernatural novels to create a world of magic where the characters are both believable and fantastical. Having read a good many supernatural thrillers I can tell you that Joy Wilson has become one of my favorite supernatural detectives.

While there were some issues with formatting this is simply the nature of the Kindle translat...more
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,...more
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...more
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...more
I read this book as a Kindle serial.

Joy Wilkins is a member of the FBMA, the Federal Bureau of Magical Affairs. In order to try to find the people behind a rash of magical attacks called Heartstoppers, Joy goes undercover at Gooseberry Bluff Community College of Magic as an instructor.

As Joy gets deeper into the mystery, she learns that very little is as it seemed when her assignment began, and the trouble could be even bigger than they suspected.

This book is full of enjoyable characters, subplo...more
I read this book as a Kindle Serial, starting about 1/3 of the way after the release of the first installment. I'm glad that I started that late though, because it was rather slow to get started. Having the first several installments download at once let me get through the story to a point where things were picking up a bit more before the new serialized installments started to come in, one every two weeks. (Note that the serialization period of this book is complete, and the story is available...more
Jessica Andersen
This is the first Kindle Serial I have read. Unfortunately I didn't start reading until the whole thing was released, not on purpose, I was just reading other things and so maybe did not get the whole experience of a serial.

The story takes place at Gooseberry Bluff Community College of Magic. Agent Joy Wilkins has gone undercover to investigate the disappearance of a professor and also who is trafficking demons through the campus. What initially seems to be a fairly simple case turns much more...more
Erin Hartshorn
I enjoyed the slanted view of what the world could be with magic in it. The characters were compelling -- I've heard of face-blind people before, but this is the first time I've seen one used as a main character. Schwartz did a wonderful job of using a wide range of people, with different personalities, genders, colors, ideas, and goals.

This book was originally published as a Kindle Serial, and every other Tuesday, I would eagerly check my Kindle app again and again to see whether it had updated...more
Magical special agent Joy Wilkins investigates a multi-dimensional conspiracy, posing undercover as a professor at this last-stop community college. This was released as a Kindle Serial (one chapter at a time), which was why I wanted to read it. It was entertaining and an interesting way to put out a story. As noted by most reviewers, the highlight of the book is its unexpected and diverse set of characters, including plenty of women who do something other than talk about their boyfriends.

Two and a half stars, maybe? I've been seeing a lot of books like this lately--all of the parts are there, but it's just not coming to life for me. The characters, for instance, have strong differences on paper, but strong, even unusual defining characteristics don't necessarily help a character to feel more fully realized, y'know?
Mieke Mcbride
My first time reading a kindle serial-- -- and I enjoyed the format. Every week or two, the author uploads a new section of the book. I stayed pretty on top of this one, reading a section every other week then uploading the new section. Just by its nature, this format has a lot of cliffhangers. It would've bugged me if I was reading the book straight through, but I know my enjoyment of this book definitely benefited from reading it with the serial format....more
I chose this book thinking it might be a 'Harry Potter Goes to College' kind of feel, and while I wouldn't describe it like that, it's a very enjoyable read.

Hoping to hear more about the staff at Gooseberry Bluff CCofM.
Meh. I would have liked this a lot better if I'd waited until their stupid serial-release thing was done. It worked for Scalzi because, as far as I can tell, his "episodes" could stand alone, yet built toward a larger picture of the universe. It didn't work here because the "episodes" were just chapters. Try reading a book, putting it down for two weeks, reading another chapter, putting it down for two weeks...and see if you can remember any of what's going on. Yeah, didn't think so.

That aside,...more
Gloria Mccracken
I think that this book was not well served by being a serial. I found I enjoyed it a great deal while I was still catching up, having come in after several episodes had been published. However, there were so many characters and so many subplots that, once I had to wait two weeks for each new chapter or two, I found I got confused. Also, I think that some of the subplots weren't completely wound up. So I'm not sure if there were things I missed or whether the ambiguities were intentional -- perha...more
Jun 02, 2014 ACRL added it
Shelves: motw
Read by ACRL Member of the Week Sara Zettervall. Learn more about Sara on the ACRL Insider blog.
I started this one on the plane back from ICFA in March and it was amusing enough. However, I haven't picked it up again, so I guess I'm not really that interested.
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David J. Schwartz carries Minnesota with him in a small camel-colored attaché with a combination lock; it can only be opened by taking the number of hairs on F. Scott Fitzgerald's head, dividing it by the secret formula on the Kensington Runestone, and adding the ghostly cry of a loon (usually a negative number). If found, please return to the nearest person wearing flannel.

Because his luggage is...more
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