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review 2015-01-02 19:08
It's complicated.
Beastkeeper - Cat Hellisen

          Arc provided by Henry Holt & Company through Netgalley

                   Release Date: February 3 rd


I had to re-read this story immediately after I had finished it for first time, because with only one read, I honestly did not know what to say.


First of all, I loved its first pages: They had that bitter-sweet tone of well done magical realism, and they held so much promise.

We get immediately thrown into this family's live, and we can see that something isn't quite right. Besides the obvious that is...


 Page after page we get sucked into Sarah's life, and how in the span of a few days everything she knows gets replaced by something out of a fantasy book.


Sarah is only thirteen, and she's not ready for what is coming into her life...in fact, I don't think anyone would, because all of a sudden she finds herself surrounded by a strange reality and sharing an existence with characters that aren't exactly loving, or trustworthy.

This means that there's a lot of crying, which is comprehensible.

Especially since this tale follows the path of the "old school of fairy tales", the one in which things happen because so...in which events mostly take a turn for the worse...where most characters are as flawed as possible, and finally where HEA is mostly a vague dream.


There are however some elements here whose presence, I found somewhat strange considering this is a supposed middle grade book ...

First Sarah has some serious tstl actions. Number one, the walking alone in a wood part, because doing things that adults say you shouldn't do are appealing...

 Then there's meeting a strange older boy in those same woods because so.



*shakes head*


For me this book has a serious identity crises.

First of all, I don't think this will appeal to the middle grade readers: the writing, the plot, the *oh, there goes my heart!* part. Too cruel for them, I think.

For the YA audience?

They want romance. Thankfully there isn't one in here. There's seeds _really strange seeds considering the characters ages. THE DIFFERENCE! _, but there isn't an actual romance.



Yes, I think we are the most logical target, but once one starts analysing this and that.. *sight*

For instance, there's a part in which we are told that the curse affects the women and the man differently ...but in reality that's not quite so.

Then we have characters who apparently have thousands of years, and I wanted to know more about their lives.

I needed more backstory.


For me this had everything to be a five star book, but I could have used more development in certain parts of the narrative...however, _and especially with the re-read _ I have to say that despite the TSTL moments, and other elements, I ended up "falling" for this book.

And, now I am curious about the author's other works.


 Author's Official Site








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review 2014-12-31 18:26
Exactly my cup of tea :)
The Changeling Sea - Patricia A. McKillip

Heart-breaking, atmospheric and unforgettable.
This story was all I could ask for, and more.
It doesn't need three hundred or four hundred pages, much of them filled with boring details to tell its story.
It slowly arrives, it tells its tale, it imprints it in our hearts and minds, and calmly goes away...

A coming of age punctuated by loss and finding what's important in one's live.

"It’s an odd thing, happiness. Some people take happiness from gold. Or black pearls. And some of us, far more fortunate, take their happiness from periwinkles.”

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review 2014-04-29 18:29
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender - Leslye Walton

My grandmother fell in love three times before her nineteenth birthday. My mother found love with the neighbor boy when she was six. And I, I was born with wings, a misfit who didn't dare to expect something as grandiose as love.

...my story, like everyone's, begins with the past and a family tree. The following is the story of my young life as I lived it…. I have traveled through continents, languages, and time trying to understand all that I am and all that has made me such.

I have been processing my feelings on this book for two days and I am still not quite sure what to say or if I can explain how it was for me. It is, on the one hand, one of the most beautifully written books I've read in a very long time, and on the other hand, also melancholy and so very strange. Reminiscent of movies I've seen that feature magical realism (e.g. Big Fish, Amelie, The Mysterious Case of Benjamin Button) it is at once captivating and disconcerting.

The synopsis on this book promises "Magical realism, lyrical prose, and the pain and passion of human love haunt this hypnotic generational saga,"and omg, does it deliver.

In the same way that fairytales do not explain how magical things happen, but presents them as fact, this strange and beautiful story of Ava Lavender and her strange and beautiful family is unapologetically magical.

It is the story of three generations of the Lavender family, their loves and losses, and all the events that lead up to the sorrowful climax of young Ava's life. It is told in a matter-of-fact way, as though Ava is conversing with you, but sprinkled with prose that plucks at your heartstrings with delicate and earnest beauty.

Happiness had a pungent scent, like the sourest lime or lemon. Broken hearts smelled surprisingly sweet. Sadness filled the air with salty, sea-like redolence...

If she thought of her love as a commodity and were, to say, eat it, it would fill 4,745 cherry pies… if she were to drink it, she'd drown.

This is a book that I would have given ten stars to when I was seventeen, the age when melancholy and angst and gloriously beautiful tragedy made my heart sing. At that age, when I carried a marked-up, dog-eared, crinkle-covered copy of Romeo & Juliet everywhere with me and gleefully wept for days over movies that captured the beauty and heartbreak of love, I would have eaten this story up with a spoon.

For a moment, she saw in him a common soul and smiled at the thought of spending the next fifty years sleeping in the crook of his long arm or walking together in stride…. but then she remembered… all those months spent waiting for a love that never returned, and she wrapped her heart in its burial shroud once again.

Sadly, though, I'm not seventeen anymore, and while I fully appreciate the unique beauty in the writing, my rating comes down to this-- did I actually enjoy myself while reading this book?

I don't know.


I don't believe every book has to give you warm and fuzzies, and sometimes an unpredictable and introspective read really hits the spot, but you have to be in the right mood for it. For me personally I found myself marveling at the writing and wondering where it was going, but it wasn't until the last 15% that it really got a rise out of me. The climax in this book was shocking and dark, horrifying really, yet the author came through in the end with enough resolution for some of my favorite characters to satisfy me and just enough hope to save this from being an utterly depressing read.

I would recommend this for people who enjoy generational sagas, coming-of-age stories, and particularly for those who know they like magical realism. This is a beautifully written book and I think it will strike a chord with many people, but it may leave others wondering what the point of it all was.

I keep wanting to click the four stars button, because the things I liked I really liked, but 3 stars just feels more honest.

I will say, though, that not only would I read another book by this author, but I will be looking forward to whatever she puts out next. Bravo.

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