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review 2017-07-05 14:35
Follow the Moon
The Girl Who Chased the Moon - Sarah Addison Allen

This was a fairly short book (280 pages) so I managed to breeze through it. I read this several years ago, and liked it okay, but honestly didn't recall why parts of the book didn't gel with me. Now reading years later, I get it. I really loved "Garden Spells" and "Sugar Queen". In fact I hope I land on a spot that has me re-read those books again. But "The Girl Who Chased the Moon" didn't really work because it tried to tell two stories and only told one of them reasonably well in my opinion. The other story didn't fit, and I just felt annoyed every time we shifted between Emily's story to Julia's story.

 

In "The Girl Who Chased the Moon" Emily Benedict moves to Mullaby, North Carolina, to live with her maternal grandmother after her mother dies. Her mother never spoke of her home or family, and when Emily moves in with her grandfather, she finds out that her mother was not who she seemed to be to her. The small town actually turned on Emily's mother for something she did in her youth, and now Emily is trying to see where she fits in. When she meets teenager Win Coffey,  Emily can't help being pulled towards him. Unfortunately the Coffey family has issues with the two hanging out.

 

Allen jumps between Emily's story and Julia's. I don't want to spoil much, but I didn't care for Julia's story at all. Having a neglectful father and a terrible stepmother caused a teenage Julia no end of pain. She has a secret she's hiding and wants more than anything else to finish up with her deceased father's affairs so she can leave town. But Emily pulls her to her and she starts to get overly (in my opinion) involved in her life and doing what she can to reject the advances of an old school friend, Sawyer.

 

So favorite characters, Emily, her grandfather, Emily's room that changes wallpaper, and honestly that's it. I wish Allen had focused more on Emily and her grandfather. The book shifts abruptly to Julia and her issues and it takes the focus away from her. 

 

I also thought that Juli and Sawyer didn't work. Sorry. When you read the history between the two of them,I didn't buy it as a romance at all. Also even Emily and Win made me bored. 

 

The writing was typical Allen. I love magical realism books and this is a nice showcase for the genre. Just wished I had liked it more. 

 

The flow was off and that's just from the jumping back and forth. When we finally get secrets revealed I just rolled .y eyes at the Coffey family. 

 

The setting of this small town felt real though. I can see at times why it would be a comfort and smothering depending.

 

The ending was a bit too much for me, but Allen makes sure there's a happy ending for all.

 

 

Bank: 
April 15: $20
April 17: $23. I read "The Wangs Vs the World", electronic pages 368.
April 24: $28. I read "Dream Wedding", electronic pages 512.
April 25: $28. Landed on BL and had to post a vacation photo or tell a story about a vacation.
April 29: $31. Read "Whitethorn Woods", 354 pages Kindle edition, $3.00
April 29: $34. Read "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep", 256 pages;$3.00.
May 4: $37. Read "The Ghost Brigades" Paperback, 346 pages; $3.00
May 8: $42. Read "American Gods" Hardcover, 465 pages; $5.00. 
May 8: $45. Read "Moon Called" 298 pages Kindle edition; $3.00.
May 13: $50. Read "Solitude Creek" 434 pages electronic; $5.00. 
May 14: $53. Read "No Country for Old Men" 320 pages Kindle edition; $3.00
May 19: $56. Read "The Witches: Salem, 1692" 384 ebook; $3.00
May 30: $59. Read "The Good Earth" 372 pages ebook: $3.00
June 4: $62. Read "The Wind in the Willows" paperback edition, 256 pages: $3.00
June 27: $67. Read "The Lincoln Lawyer" kindle edition, 528 pages: $5.00.

 

THE BIG SHAKE UP

 

June 28: $75. Read "That Summer" kindle edition, 174 pages: $8.00.

June 30: $84. Read "And Then There Were None", paperback, 247 pages: $9.00. Multiplier due to second time on BL space. 

July 4: $94. Read "The Changeling" Kindle edition 448 pages; $10.00

July 4: $100. Read "The Girl Who Chased the Moon" Kindle edition, 280 pages; $6.00.

 

 

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text 2017-07-05 04:28
Reading progress update: I've read 5%.
The Girl Who Chased the Moon - Sarah Addison Allen

I love magical realism books. I really have to go back and read some of Sarah Addison Allen's other books. I didn't care for he second Waverly family book though. 

 

I do like the character of Emily whose grandfather is a giant...yep you read that right. And there's a room that changes based on the inhabitants moods. Which I would love. 

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review 2017-06-12 20:58
Review: The Disappearances
The Disappearances - Emily Bain Murphy

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

This book was brilliant. So delightfully different and unexpected. I’d completely forgotten what it was about when I started reading it. It’s an early 1940’s based YA novel, set sometime during the Second World War.  Beautifully written and really really unique, the way the fantasy is woven together could almost boarder on magical realism.

 

The novel tells the story of Aila and her brother Miles, their mother has died and their father is a pilot who has gone to fight in the war. With no other close relatives, the two are shipped off to the small town of Sterling, where their mother grew up and move in with a dear friend of their mom’s, Matilda Cliffton. Her household consists of her husband, Dr Clifton, their son William who is Aila’s age, and a housekeeper named Genevieve. The Clifftons are very nice if formal and clearly wealthy.

 

Though Aila notices something strange immediately, whilst going through the small town centre, they pass people well known to Mrs Cliffton, give them the cold shoulder. They’re polite, but very frosty and it all seems to do with the fact that Aila’s mom left the town.

 

In the house Aila notices more strange things and finds out a phenomenon occurs every year something “Disappears”, touch, dreams, reflections. No one really knows how they started, but there are magical remedies called Variants that can recreate these lost things. Aila struggles to make sense of this mystery, at the same time fitting in in a new school and trying to make friends.

 

All the while there is the underlying hint that her mother may have had something to do with starting The Disappearances. Aila’s mother seems to be the only person who has ever left Sterling and regained the things the Disappearances have taken. Which has caused a great mistrust and dislike amongst the townspeople.

 

As Aila makes friends and gets to know the people in her class, she learns more about the history of the town and the founding families and the other interconnecting towns in the area.  Early in the novel Aila discovers a book of Shakespeare’s works that has notes written by her mother. The Shakespeare connection is brilliant. It’s woven beautifully into the narrative without being too overwhelming.

 

There’s also a second point of view in alternate chapters from a mysterious man who appears to be looking for his father. It’s not all together clear (or at least not for this reader) of whether this is something happening at the time or something that happened in the past. It all becomes relevant later on in the novel.

 

The writing is gorgeous and almost lyrical in its tone, it’s completely absorbing and everything is so incredibly described and so so easy to picture. Incredible history and backstory believable as well. Aila was a very likeable, intelligent lead, head on her shoulders, with some recklessness, a good friend and good sister to her little brother Miles.  All the characters are brilliant, all fully fleshed out from the good ones to the nasty ones. There’s a great sense of family as well, the adults are not just side characters, they have their own importance in the novel and not just relegated to necessary background characters.

 

There was nothing about this book that didn’t absolutely love to pieces. I am definitely looking forward to more from this author.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and HMH Books for Young Readers for approving my request to view the title.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-05-18 21:32
Chasing nonsense
The Girl Who Chased the Moon - Sarah Addison Allen

This one lost a whole rating point simply because the title had no connection to the story.  I hate that.

 

Various spoilers abound, so be warned.

 

I borrowed the book from my local public library, and some previous borrower had done me a huge favor:  She (or he) had neatly underlined in pencil all the instances the author referred to a character tucking her loose hair behind her ear.  There were a lot of them.  Enough to be annoying.  While I chalk part of that up to lazy writing, I put more burden on the editors.  This wasn't a self-published Kindle book; the Bantam editors should have done a better job.

 

The four or five typos didn't bother me as much as the business with the hair.

 

The writing style struck me as more suited to a juvenile or young adult book, and maybe this would be classified as YA.  Some of the themes were definitely more adult, I thought, but I'm not an expert on what constitutes young adult versus adult fiction.  I just thought the author's style was choppy and sometimes awkward.  At least for me.

 

Emily Benedict's mother Dulcie has recently died, so Emily heads to Mullaby, North Carolina, to live with Dulcie's father, Vance Shelby.  Vance, who is eight feet tall, lives on the ground floor of the old family mansion.  He welcomes Emily and tells her to take whichever room she wishes; she settles in her mother's old room.

 

It's the summer before her senior year in high school, and though Emily's education has been received at the Roxley School for Girls that her mother founded in Boston, she has no apprehension about meeting people in Mullaby, a small Southern town notable for its barbecue restaurants.  Within her first few days in Mullaby, Emily meets Win Coffey, a young man her own age, and Julia Winterson, who was a classmate of her mother's.  Julia owns one of the restaurants and bakes cakes for it.  She also takes Emily under her wing, so to speak.

 

So far, so good.  The characters were three-dimensionally solid, if quirky, and I didn't have any difficulty making them come alive in my mind.

 

BUT --

 

Everyone seems to have secrets that they aren't willing to share.  Some of the secrets involve what might be called magic.  This would be fine except that there's no reason given for not sharing these secrets.

 

Now, here's the big spoiler.

 

Emily's mother Dulcie had a romance going with Win Coffey's uncle, Logan Coffey.  Dulcie forced Logan to publicly divulge his family's deep, dark, horrible secret, after which Logan committed suicide.  The Coffey family blamed Dulcie for Logan's suicide, but now everyone in Mullaby knew the Coffey family secret.

 

No one, however, would tell Emily.  Her grandfather warned her to stay away from Win; Win's father wouldn't let the two teens see each other.  Julia knew the secret, but wouldn't tell Emily.  And even though he knew everyone in town knew the secret -- and therefore could tell Emily at any time -- Win procrastinated about telling her.  No one in town ever spoke of it, even though Win and his father Morgan were always out and about around town.

 

And what's the secret?  Why is it that the Coffey men have to be in the house before dark and can't go out again until the sun comes up?  Are they vampires or werewolves?

 

No, not vampires or werewolves.  They have a genetic disorder that makes them glow in the moonlight.  Yeah.

 

 

This was just so silly.  And everyone knew!  So what was the big deal?

 

Well, then there's the business with the wallpaper in Emily's bedroom.  It keeps changing.  First it was just pretty violets.  Then it turned into fluttering butterflies.  Then glittering stars.  And Emily never questions this?  Never asks her grandfather?  Never says anything to her friend Julia?  Nor is there ever explanation given as to why the magical wallpaper matters.

 

Julia, the baker of cakes, has her own little bit of magic, and hers is probably the best integrated to the story.  I liked Julia, and I liked her story of unrequited love, heartbreak, emotional abandonment, and finally her ambition as an adult to succeed against all odds.  Her backstory was also the most believable, the most uplifting, and the twist to her stepmother's revelation was the most emotionally satisfying part of the whole book.

 

If not for Julia, I might have given up on the book at about the 30% point.  Julia had emotional baggage.  The teen-aged Emily, though she had gone through a lot of emotional turbulence in her young life, didn't have the angst necessary to pull this reader in.  Julia did.

 

The silliness of the "magic" aspects of the book pulled its rating down another full point, but there was still another weakness that I couldn't get past: The author had difficulty making her male characters multi-dimensional.  Win was so sweet, and his insta-love for Emily was so precious.  His father was just the opposite, all bitterness and anger.  Even Grandfather Vance, the "gentle giant," was more a caricature than a character -- and his gigantism had no real relevance to the story.  The author just seemed to have stumbled across the fact of the early 20th century giant -- who died at age 22 and height of almost nine feet -- and decided, oh, this is cool, so I'll have a giant in my story.

 

Only Julia's love interest, the handsome Sawyer Alexander, was more than a cardboard figure.  He, too, had emotional baggage that developed slowly and carefully through the narrative, and his little bit of magic was, along with Julia's, crafted to be integral to the tale rather than grafted on.

 

Overall, a light, pleasant read with little substance other than Julia's story.  I wouldn't offer a positive recommendation, but it's not terrible, either.

 

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review 2017-05-18 21:23
Love Spell
Crystal Cove - Lisa Kleypas

We started this on audio, but I finished it on kindle. I liked this one a lot more than many of Kleypas fans. In fact, I liked it quite a bit. I probably helped that I didn't have high expectations. I liked Justine from the other books, but I wasn't particularly attached to her character. She seemed a bit shallow but kind in the other books. I have the feeling that Kleypas didn't have Justine's character fleshed out initially. She must have spent some time with Justine in between Dream Lake and this book and came up with who we see in Crystal Cove.

As Kleypas continues the magical realism theme in this series, this one is very much "Practical Magic." I love the book and the movie, and Kleypas does it justice, with her own spin. Justine is a hereditary witch. She's not heavily into it, although she does at times do some minor spellwork. Justine realizes that the reason why she's hasn't had luck with love is because her mother cursed her to never fall in love. Justine does a spell of her own to remove the geas. This backfires. In the meantime, she meets Jason Black, a billionaire badboy tech genius who buys up Alex Nolan's land to build a retreat for his business. Jason stays at her inn and there is an instant attraction between them. Jason is the kind of man who is dangerous to a woman. He has no concept of love or commitment. And he has a good reason. He has no soul. I can't say that all of Jason's issues arise out of his souless status. It's moreso due to his abusive father and how he treated his mother. I liked that Jason is part Japanese and this culture is part of who he is. They both share some family trauma. Justine's mother is a horrible person. Jason's dad is a horrible person. Both have been shaped by their horrible parents.

What an interesting combination.

I didnt' really get the whole no soul thing. It was pretty darn real. It doesn't make sense for my own spiritual perspective. But okay, I just went along with it. The witchcraft thing is something that you can idea ignore or embrace, but if it's a hard limit, this isn't the book for that reader. Since Kleypas is going with "Practical Magic", it's hard to not have it in this book.

Like always, Kleypas' writing is beautiful and immersive. Jason has a bit of a kinky thing going on with the bedroom, but it's not out of my personal comfort zone. He has some control issues, and that thing he's into delves into this aspect of his personality. Out of the books in Friday Harbor series, this book is the most sexually explicit, but it makes sense with the characters in the book.

I have to admit, I really believed in the love that developed between Jason and Justine. They are both cynical about love, so it's so beautiful the way it develops between them, and it's a sacrificial love. The conclusion is both strange but also very beautiful.

I liked this book a lot more than I expected. I ended up falling for Justine and Jason. While witchy romance isn't my favorite kind of paranormal romance, I think that Kleypas served up a lovely one here. I definitely preferred this to Rainshadow Road. The character of Jason has so much more substance than Sam, in my opinion. I think I prefer Justine to Lucy as well.

My Friday Harbor Book Preference:

1. Dream Lake
2. Crystal Cove
3. Christmas at Friday Harbor
4. Rainshadow Road

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