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Gooseberry Bluff Community College of Magic: The Thirteenth Rib

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  1,061 ratings  ·  132 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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3.48  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,061 ratings  ·  132 reviews

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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
Sep 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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
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
Feb 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Dixie Conley
Feb 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
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
Sep 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 14, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: serial
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
Apr 22, 2016 added it
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
Dec 14, 2015 rated it liked it
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 ...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
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.
May 06, 2013 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
MIchael Williams
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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,
Sep 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.)
May 30, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own, ebooks
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.
Mar 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 20, 2014 rated it liked it
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.

Lianne Burwell
Apr 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller, fantasy
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
Courtney Cantrell
Jan 16, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Jul 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, kindle
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
Jun 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Hilary Moon Murphy
May 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, kindle
I liked this book. The story line was well thought out, there was a good amount of character development, and there were elements of surprise as well. I personally have a hard time keeping track of many minor characters, so part of my reading was spent saying, "Wait, who is this person again and what's their motivation?" So if you also have that trouble it's something to keep in mind. Mind you, I still think the book's worth reading, but you might need a refresher when characters change.

For a sc
Jun 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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
Aug 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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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
“The highlight was the three students in a row who hadn’t attended a single lecture yet, each of whom was seeking individualized guidance on how to do the paper and wanted her to tell them how they were doing in her class.” 0 likes
“you were supposed to be in Aber — Aber—” “Aberystwyth, Wales. Yes.” 0 likes
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