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Book Review: A Discovery of Witches

Deborah Harkness’ first novel A Discovery of Witches has proved to be a true breath of fresh air and an intellectual delight.

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In a time when the thirst for vampire stories and wizard tales has captivated millions of people across the globe, Deborah Harkness’ first novel A Discovery of Witches has proved to be a true breath of fresh air and an intellectual delight. Unlike many of the magically-themed novels of our time, Witches goes above and beyond the restraints of fiction. Harkness – a professor of European history and the history of science at the University of Southern California at Los Angeles – brings a wealth of education and scholarly experience to her endeavors as a novelist. 

Witches is the first of three books that Harkness has named the “All Souls Trilogy”. The story begins in Oxford, England – home to the famous Oxford University. Dr. Diana Bishop, the novel’s main protagonist, is a scholar and descendant in a very long line of witches. While she is there conducting research, she unearths a 15th century alchemical manuscript that will prove to completely upend her life and her choice to opt-out of the magical community to which she naturally belongs. She can no longer avoid the reality of her existence and her powers, especially now that she has accidentally summoned such an important document that all of her magical kin in Oxford wish to get their hands on. 

Dr. Bishop is just one of many highly interesting people in the book. Harkness’ creation of such a rich group of characters is something that makes this enchanting story unique. Anyone who has ever read other novels about witches, vampires, and daemons will most likely find similar traits in the characters of Witches. However, these creatures are far from one-dimensional or predictable; they have been crafted through the combination of Harkness’ brilliant imagination and academic knowledge. The novel’s second protagonist is a vampire who is so much more than a typical blood-thirsty nocturnal creature. Professor Matthew Clairmont was born in the year 500 A.D. and reborn as a vampire in 537. He is a highly refined individual, and probably the most sophisticated vampire in fictional existence; he has wined and dined with historical philosophers and exchanged ideas with Charles Darwin. Harkness’ choice to design a character that has existed for over 1,500 years allowed her the space to fill this novel with many fascinating and highly accurate historical references. 

Throughout this story, Harkness takes her readers on a journey through time, culture, and the wide world of academia. Her ability to weave the elements of fiction with historical facts makes reading this book both an educational and pleasurable experience. A Discovery of Witches is food for the soul, the brain, and great fun for the child inside us all that is a firm believer in magic.

– Morgan Dysinger

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Star Wars™ Pinball: Star Wars Rebels™

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Zen Studios has concocted a ruse of amusement, it’s a trap—of fun. Star Wars™ Pinball: Star Wars Rebels™, established by the critically acclaimed animated TV show on Disney XD, Star Wars Rebels™, releases endorphins chock full of nostalgia and bliss. With all of the Star Wars talk going on as of late, it’s nice to get in your daily need of pew pew! Stormtroopers assemble and try to take down the hero of Lothal, the whole mission thing is a bit nuts. This pinball table goes to a galaxy far far away by delving into an age that has yet to be traversed by the films. Zen studios gets the balance of the force just right, do not try to get this table, do it.

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Pinball FX-2 Avengers: Age of Ultron

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Zen Studios does it again with Pinball FX2 – Marvel Avenger’s: Age of Ultron. This table is available on PC, Xbox One, and Playstation 4. Avengers Assemble! Age of Ultron quenches a thirst for adventure you didn’t know you had. Players assist Iron Man in finishing his most aspiring venture to date. The profound and climactic soundtrack will rip you out of the comfort of your chair and into the Age of Ultron. Enjoy this audacious addition to the Avenger’s universe, Thor’s might is on your side. The Incredible Hulk, Hawkeye, and Black Widow make a gargantuan attempt at arresting the nefarious Ultron. Pull yourself together and check out this game, you can’t afford more mistakes. The god of thunder favors you.

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Shaking the Habitual, The Knife | Album Review

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By The Knife

Shaking the Habitual is something every person needs more of in life. Stepping outside of boundaries and entering a new experience can have a confounding effect on the senses. Rhythm and movement resonate from the deepest depths of the soul and project outward in an array of vibrancy. 

What starts off like a indigenous ceremony quickly changes to a post apocalyptic nuclear wasteland by the third track, “A Cherry on Top.” Then, finding semblance in a 19 minute interlude, “Old Dreams Waiting to Be Realized,” the brother-and-sister duo reemerge in ritualistic fashion with the deep bass line of “Raging Lung”. Ending with an unsettling aptitude, Fracking Fluid Injection precedes the final track, Ready to Lose; providing insight to a larger contextual effect this album has in a world seeming “Full of Fire.” 

Although difficult to fully embody the composition of electronic and aboriginal noise heard in The Knife’s new album, Shaking the Habitual, any movement to the music is sure to conjure emotion. At times, the May release represents a more archetypal sound in the art of music. 

Tying together components of old and new, the Swedish duo creates a spellbinding effect with the first track, A Tooth For an Eye. Amalgamating dominant instrumentations, subtle synth lines and underlying vocals, A Tooth For and Eye entices the listener with something seldom projected over the airwaves. 

Coming off a seven year hiatus, the duo can predominate with an electronic influence, but, ultimately the seamless transition across a spectrum of sound grasps the ear. Delivered in its entirety, the lasting impression might leave one feeling like a participant of a seance.

— Rob Donovan

 

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