Genre: Magical Realism

Review: The Looking Glass by Janet McNally

Posted March 29, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Review: The Looking Glass by Janet McNallyThe Looking Glass by Janet McNally
Series: Standalone
Published by HarperTeen on August 14, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Magical Realism
Pages: 336
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:3.5 Stars

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.

GIRLS IN TROUBLE.
That’s what Sylvie Blake’s older sister Julia renamed their favorite fairy tale book, way back when they were just girls themselves. Now, Julia has disappeared—and no one knows if she’s in trouble.
Sylvie is trying to carry on Julia’s impressive legacy at the prestigious National Ballet Theatre Academy, but Julia, ever the star of the show, can’t stay hidden forever. And when she sends Sylvie a copy of their old storybook with a mysterious list inside, Sylvie begins to see signs of her sister everywhere she goes. She may be losing her grip on reality, but Sylvie has to find out if the strange, almost magical things she’s been seeing have anything to do with Julia’s whereabouts.
With the help of her best friend’s enigmatic brother and his beat-up car, Sylvie sets out to the beat of a Fleetwood Mac playlist, determined to return to New York with her sister in tow. But what Sylvie doesn’t expect to learn is that trouble comes in lots of forms—and that the damsel in distress is often the only one who can save herself.

The Looking Glass was a book that I found hard to put down. It was a beautifully written story weaved with magical realism to handle some difficult topics.

Sylvie always idolized her older sister Julia, until she broke her leg dancing and spiraled into addiction. After nearly losing her life, Julia disappears, leaving behind Sylvie to pick up the mess she left behind and some big shoes to fill. When Julia sends Sylvie a book with a mysterious message, Sylvie thinks Julia is in trouble and is on the mission to find her sister. Along the way, she learns a little more about Julia, who she was, how she dealt with it and a lot more about herself as a person.

I enjoyed most of this book. It kept me hooked. McNally is a wonderful writer, there is something really beautiful about the way she tells her story. But where I found this book well written and beautiful, it lacked in depth and ultimately felt a little lacking.

As always, there were the absentee parents present in a YA novel.

I kept waiting for something to happen and the conclusion of the book was lackluster, unsatisfying and ultimately pointless and abrupt.

I didn’t understand how the names in the back linked to anything in the story, especially how the ending was handled with Julia’s reaction.

I think the ultimate aspect of this story was about everyone working through Julia’s addiction and the destruction she left behind after almost dying and how these people move on from it. I thought that part was well done, but some things just fell short and didn’t connect well. There was a lot more potential to this book and it just scratched the surface.

I like how working through it Sylvie digs into herself and becomes her own person as she uncovers what is important to her instead of living in her sisters’ shadows.

The romance was cute. I enjoyed it. I was glad it wasn’t the main point of the book.

Overall. I liked how the author managed to keep the book light despite such a heavy subject. I am looking forward to seeing what she writes next.

 

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Review: The Deepest Roots by Miranda Asebedo

Posted January 29, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 14 Comments

Review: The Deepest Roots by Miranda AsebedoThe Deepest Roots by Miranda Asebedo
Series: standalone
Published by HarperTeen on September 18, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magical Realism
Pages: 320
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:3 Stars

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.

Cottonwood Hollow, Kansas, is a strange place. For the past century, every girl has been born with a special talent, like the ability to Fix any object, Heal any wound, or Find what is missing.
Best friends Rome, Lux, and Mercy all have similar talents, but to them, their abilities often feel like a curse. Rome may be able to Fix anything she touches, but that won’t help her mom pay rent or make it any easier to confide in Lux and Mercy about what’s going on at home. And Rome isn’t the only one. Lux has been hiding bigger, more dangerous secrets.
As Rome struggles to keep her friendships close, she discovers the truth about life in Cottonwood Hollow—that friends are stronger than curses, that trust is worth the risk, and sometimes, what you’ve been looking for has been under your feet the whole time.

I went into this book blindly, but I was given a story that hooked me from a very first page.

Rome, Lux, and Mercy are best friends who live in Cottonwood Hollow, Kansas. Cottonwood Hollow, is a strange place. The women of Cottonwood Hollow have certain special abilities, like Fixing an object, Healing wounds or even finding what is missing.

I thought the book was a quick and enjoyable read. The writing was wonderful. I absolutely loved the idea implemented behind the plot, so much so that I craved more.

The characters were interesting and had depth. I loved their friendship, but hated it at the same time. I loved the closeness of the three girls and how they had come to each other’s aid. My issue with their friendship was the fact that I never quite understood why they kept secrets from each other, or better yet. Why they kept alienating one of the girls from the truth.

The book provided me with everything I wanted. Magical realism, secrets, a bit of action and a cute romance. I enjoyed the fact that this book focused more on the relationship between the three girls and not the romantic interest.

I did struggle with Rome’s mother’s actions. I understand she had Rome when she was young and was doing her best to take care of her, but I feel like her character was at times crossing that annoying line that parents seem to have in YA books.

Overall, this was a pleasant read.

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Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Siobhan Dowd (Conception), Jim Kay (Illustrator)

Posted April 1, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 21 Comments

Review:  A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Siobhan Dowd (Conception), Jim Kay (Illustrator)A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Siobhan Dowd, Jim Kay
Series: standalone
Published by Candlewick Press on March 12th 2013
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magical Realism
Pages: 206
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor.
At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting-- he's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It's ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd-- whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself-- Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.

Guys, I am going to be honest here. I picked this book up because a ton of people asked me if I read it, with the movie out, I finally stumbled upon this book in the library and decided to give it a shot.

I went into this blindly. I never read the blurb or asked people what it was about and stayed away from detailed reviews. I was told when it comes to this book, that was the best way to go about it anyway. So I am having a hard time writing the review. I am going to keep it short and sweet and basically tell you that if you had not read it yet, read it. Don’t just pick up the ebook either. Go to your local library if you have to and get the physical book because the drawing in the book really add to the experience.

The actual idea of this book came from Siobhan Dowd, but it was Patrick Ness, who brought her vision to life after she was taken too soon by cancer. Patrick Ness did a beautiful job bringing her beloved characters to life, leaving us with a book that I will think span generations. When I read the book last night, I was rocked with emotion, but it wasn’t until the day after that I got to sit down, let it sink in and truly experience its effect.

The story is about a boy named Conor and his ill mother. It is haunting, it is beautiful, atmospheric and downright emotional. If you have dealt with loss, it’s grief and pain, I strongly suggest you read this. Even if you haven’t experienced loss yet, I strongly suggest you read this. But I think it’s safe to say most of us did at one point or another and this book just captures most of what we go through so well.

I expect this book will have a different experience and effect on everyone. Which is okay. I believe that’s the whole point anyway, as we each experience the monster and its interpretation differently in the moments of weakness and hopelessness.

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Review: The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

Posted October 30, 2015 by Lily B in Reviews / 0 Comments

Review:  The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-DoyleThe Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Series: standalone
Published by Kathy Dawson Books on August 18th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Magical Realism
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

Every October Cara and her family become inexplicably and unavoidably accident-prone. Some years it's bad, like the season when her father died, and some years it's just a lot of cuts and scrapes. This accident season—when Cara, her ex-stepbrother, Sam, and her best friend, Bea, are 17—is going to be a bad one. But not for the reasons they think.
Cara is about to learn that not all the scars left by the accident season are physical: There's a long-hidden family secret underneath the bumps and bruises. This is the year Cara will finally fall desperately in love, when she'll start discovering the painful truth about the adults in her life, and when she'll uncover the dark origins of the accident season—whether she's ready or not.

This book, wow, I am pleasantly surprised! I honestly picked this one up because it sparked my attention and it looked like it might be an enjoyable read for the Halloween season. I got everything I wanted to wrap up in a nice package and delivered! Boy did this book deliver. Moïra Fowley-Doyle writing is hauntingly beautiful and creepily atmospheric! I was hooked, totally hooked from the start and once I got to the Halloween party and the last what 40%? I could not put this book down. I totally needed my sleep, but it was hard to let go I needed to know what happens in the end. I found myself chomping through the pages until I hit the end.

So let’s raise our glasses to the accident season,
To the river beneath us where we sink our souls,
To the bruises and secrets, to the ghosts in the ceilings,
One more drink for the watery road.

It’s October therefor it’s Accident season, something that has been plaguing the Cara’s family for years. They have lost many loved ones due to the season so Cara’s mother is exceptionally protective. Unfortunately, not a lot of kids in school believe them so they get a bunch of funny looks every time something happens and they get a little more banged up.

I loved the character’s in this book, including the secondary and supportive. I thought they really added to the book as a whole and deepened the already creepy plot. Bea is Cara’s friend, who reads tarot cards. I really enjoyed her character and the whole tarot card reading was a kind of a great addition to the story. Like the rest of the characters in the book Bea isn’t any different. She has her secrets and she hides them all behind her tarot cards, but she is an excellent and supportive friend to Cara.

Sam is Cara’s ex-step-brother who is also plagued by the accident season even thought they are not blood related. I found that oddly interesting. I liked Sam, he is very protective of Cara and has his own demons when it comes to his father.

Alice is the older sister of Cara, and is very troubled and probably sees things more clearly when it comes to the accident season over Cara.

The story itself was creepy and hauntingly beautiful, the writing was fantastic a bit lyrical and filled with magical realism. The story was fast paced and I did not find it dull, even with the well done descriptions, especially all the scenes in the haunted house. Cara’s comparison to the changelings that shed their human skin for one night a year was so different and freaky. Alice’s struggles with the boyfriend was well done, especially in the situations like this, not only was it realistic it was a bit frightening in its own way.

The mystery behind the Accident season had me hooked until the very end. Especially wanting to know more about this mysterious girl named Elsie, who happens to pop up in all of Cara’s pictures, no matter where she takes them.

Accidents happen. Our bones shatter, our skin splits, our heart break. We burn, we drown, we stay alive.

There is romance in this book, it’s a bit unusual. I was honestly mostly surprised this subject made it into the YA genre. I was recently amused to myself how popular it is right now. It’s a bit taboo, but it works. My husband and I had a discussion about it, because I did not know it was considered a taboo, given the circumstances, but I get it.

The teens in this book felt realistic, even if I was particularly grumpy that they drank and smoke. Looking back at my teen years, I realize it is part of the “teen culture” it does happen, and it’s stupid to remain ignorant.

I am still lost about this, metal, tin? Man that Cara has several run’s in with. I am not sure that part was ever explained fully.

Overall, if you are looking for at least one book to read this Halloween, I do strongly recommend this one. The hauntingly beautiful, creepy writing, the characters, the mystery and the magical realism wrap this book up nicely and make it worth the read!

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