Size Doesn’t Matter (162): Sorcery & Cecilia; Believe Me; The Lost Letter

Size Doesn’t Matter (162): Sorcery & Cecilia; Believe Me; The Lost LetterSorcery & Cecilia: or, The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede, Caroline Stevermer
Series: Cecelia and Kate #1
Published by Harcourt Children's Books on September 1, 2004
Genres: Historical, Romance, Mystery, Fantasy
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: Gifted
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars

A great deal is happening in London and the country this season.

For starters, there's the witch who tried to poison Kate at the Royal College of Wizards. There's also the man who seems to be spying on Cecelia. (Though he's not doing a very good job of it--so just what are his intentions?) And then there's Oliver. Ever since he was turned into a tree, he hasn't bothered to tell anyone where he is.

Clearly, magic is a deadly and dangerous business. And the girls might be in fear for their lives . . . if only they weren't having so much fun!

Sorcery & Cecilia came highly recommended to me by several friends (Gillian, Lindsey, Morgan), and this is either an instance of a book being overhyped, me being in the wrong mood, or me not having first read this book young enough. I liked Sorcery & Cecilia, but it wasn’t quite as delightful as I’d hoped.

The first half of the book or so, I was rather bored. It’s told in letters between Cecilia and her cousin Kate, who has gone to London for her season. The epistolary method highlights the slow pace of the goings on, because it takes so long to swap letters back and forth. The plot moves slowly and a bit oddly, and there’s a metric fuckton of detail weighing everything down. That said, the resolution is strange but in a good way in that it’s a serious team effort to defeat the bad guys, and very much not a predictable outcome.

Cecilia and Kate get embroiled in a nefarious plot by two evil wizards against the mysterious Thomas. Both Kate and Cecilia have hate to love ships, which are definitely the high point of the book. Kate and Cecilia both insist they loath Thomas and James respectively until the very last moment, and it’s quite cute. I especially enjoyed the running gag of how bad James is at sneaking and spying.

Sorcery & Cecilia is cute but slow. I tried book two but didn’t get through it due to the episodic nature of the books and the lack of character development. In theory these are so completely my thing but it just doesn’t quite click somehow.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (162): Sorcery & Cecilia; Believe Me; The Lost LetterBelieve Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens by Eddie Izzard
Narrator: Eddie Izzard
Length: 14 hrs, 30 mins
Published by Penguin Audio on June 13, 2017
Genres: Nonfiction, Memoir
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Critically acclaimed, award-winning British comedian and actor Eddie Izzard details his childhood, his first performances on the streets of London, his ascent to worldwide success on stage and screen, and his comedy shows which have won over audiences around the world.

Over the course of a thirty-year career, Eddie Izzard has proved himself to be a creative chameleon, inhabiting the stage and film and television screen with an unbelievable fervor. Born in Yemen and raised in Northern Ireland, Wales, and England, he lost his mother at the age of six—a devastating event that affected the rest of his life. In his teens, he dropped out of university and took to the streets of London as part of a comedy double act. When his partner went on vacation, Izzard kept busy by inventing a one-man escape act, and thus a solo career was ignited. As a stand-up comedian, Izzard has captivated audiences with his surreal, stream-of-consciousness comedy— lines such as “Cake or Death?” “Death Star Canteen,” and “Do You Have a Flag?” have the status of great rock lyrics. As a self-proclaimed “action transvestite,” Izzard broke a mold performing in makeup and heels, and has become as famous for his “total clothing” rights as he has for his art. In Believe Me, he recounts the dizzying rise he made from the streets of London to West End theaters, to Wembley Arena, Madison Square Garden, and the Hollywood Bowl.

Izzard is arguably one of today’s top comedians. At the time of publication, he is still performing his Force Majeure show—so far in more than forty countries worldwide and in four languages: English, French, German, and Spanish. With his brand of keenly intelligent humor that ranges from world history to historical politics, sexual politics, mad ancient kings, and chickens with guns, he has built an extraordinary fan base that transcends age, gender, and race. Writing with the same candor and insight evident in his comedy, he reflects on a childhood marked by the loss of his mother, boarding school, and alternative sexuality, as well as a life in comedy, film, politics, running, and philanthropy. Honest and generous, Izzard’s Believe Me is an inspired account of a very singular life thus far.

Once again, I’ve listened to an audiobook by someone with whom I’m not overly familiar. I’d seen pictures of Eddie Izzard, and I knew he was in that show The Riches I never watched because one of my friends was a big fan of his and she loved the show. I think in some ways it really helps me to pick up memoirs for folks I don’t know much about, because all of the information is totally new to me and I don’t have high expectations. Eddie Izzard’s memoir was very fun, and I feel like maybe it’s time to check out something he’s done.

Izzard’s memoir is actually quite funny, which hasn’t always been the case for comedian memoirs I’ve listened to (because apparently I have a very specific sense of humor or something). He’s lived a unique life, and he’s very open about his flaws, failures, and feelings. Especially on god. Religious folks are not going to enjoy this one, because there’s a constant drumbeat about how god doesn’t exist, children. I loved it personally, and his reasons are pretty much the same as mine. The only downside is that certain little anecdotes are related repeatedly, as though the reader couldn’t be expected to remember anything.

The audiobook’s a great choice for this memoir because Izzard adds in additional commentary that isn’t in the print book. And obviously he’s a very vibrant reader and it provides that extra personal touch.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (162): Sorcery & Cecilia; Believe Me; The Lost LetterThe Lost Letter by Jillian Cantor
Narrator: Allyson Ryan, Betsy Struxness, George Newbern, Jennifer Rubins
Length: 9 hrs, 5 mins
Published by Penguin Audio on June 13, 2017
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 322
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-half-stars

A heart-breaking, heart-warming historical novel of love and survival inspired by real resistance workers during World War II Austria, and the mysterious love letter that connects generations of Jewish families.

Austria, 1938.
Kristoff is a young apprentice to a master Jewish stamp engraver. When his teacher disappears during Kristallnacht, Kristoff is forced to engrave stamps for the Germans, and simultaneously works alongside Elena, his beloved teacher's fiery daughter, and with the Austrian resistance to send underground messages and forge papers. As he falls for Elena amidst the brutal chaos of war, Kristoff must find a way to save her, and himself.

Los Angeles, 1989.
Katie Nelson is going through a divorce and while cleaning out her house and life in the aftermath, she comes across the stamp collection of her father, who recently went into a nursing home. When an appraiser, Benjamin, discovers an unusual World War II-era Austrian stamp placed on an old love letter as he goes through her dad's collection, Katie and Benjamin are sent on a journey together that will uncover a story of passion and tragedy spanning decades and continents, behind the just fallen Berlin Wall.

A beautiful, poignant and devastating novel, The Lost Letter shows the lasting power of love.

Jillian Cantor’s a must-read for romantic historical fiction. I mean, anyone who can make a book about philately engaging to me has massive talent.

Katie’s recently divorced because her ex-husband is apparently a massive d-bag who resented her for spending so much time helping her father who has recently gone into a nursing home because he’s losing his memory. She’s inherited his massive stamp collection, and she gets it appraised by Benjamin who discovers a mystery stamp on an undelivered letter. Katie and Benjamin set out to discover the origins of the stamp which lead to Austria in the late 1930s and stamp-maker named Kristoff. Katie’s timeline is set in 1989 coinciding with the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Katie’s POV was exciting, and I love that Cantor focuses on a part of WWII that I’ve never read about before. The use of stamps and stamp-making tools for the resistance was so neat to learn about. That said, Kristoff’s POV didn’t interest me as much. I didn’t really feel his romance or care as much about his plot line. It’s not that I didn’t like those folks and want them to survive, but it’s one of those cases where you pretty much know how things will turn out for that plot line and it’s hard to feel too invested. Though this may have been due to the audiobook performance, because the casting of the male narrator annoyed me because his accent was so strongly American. The additional POVs (of the two sisters in Kristoff’s timeline) happen only once and are completely unnecessary imo.

If you like your historical fiction with a dose of romance, don’t miss out on Cantor, even if stamp-collection sounds boring as hell to you. :-p

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One response to “Size Doesn’t Matter (162): Sorcery & Cecilia; Believe Me; The Lost Letter”

  1. Shira says:

    Awww!! Sorcery & Cecilia brings back such good memories. I loved those books, but I can totally see how they might not be the best books when read for the first time as an adult! I wonder how Patricia Wrede’s Enchanted Forest books hold up. I loved those too!

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