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Search tags: magical-realism
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review 2017-02-22 22:50
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
Bone Gap - Laura Ruby

This is a fabulous book. It seems to be marketed as Magical Realism, but I think it slips over the boundary into Fantasy, and if that borderland is a place you like to hang out in, as I do, then this is perfect.

 

The heart of the tale is about belonging and about being an outsider, and how you can sometimes be both at once.

 

It's got a beautifully drawn relationship between two brothers, one who gave up all his dreams to care for the other when their feckless mother took off for a new boyfriend in Oregon, and the other who can't seem to quite fit in with anyone at all, including the big brother he idolises.

 

There's a scary villain (who maybe isn't evil, although certainly bad) and a beautiful maiden (who isn't entirely a passive damsel in distress waiting to be saved), and beasts and a horse who is a literal night mare, but not a nightmare.

 

The writing is lyrical, but not dense, in fact it's eminently readable. Although it took me 2 months to get around to writing the review about it, it's easy as pie to write because the book has stuck with me, and in fact writing this has made me want to go read it again. And I read it in a day the first time!

 

No book is perfect, and there are flaws. They don't matter. For instance, one of the characters is from Poland, and the Poland of the book may have been the Poland of the 1940's, but almost hilariously isn't the modern technologically up to date country of modern times. It jars, a little... but then it doesn't matter, because it's entirely beside the point and the plot.

 

I don't read YA as a rule, but I'm very very glad I read this one.

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review 2017-02-14 20:28
Book 1/100: Sacred Wilderness by Susan Power

I fell off the wagon of uploading my book reviews for the end of 2016, but I'm starting fresh in the new year.

 

Sacred WildernessSacred Wilderness by Susan Power
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was divided into several different story "sections" -- one that took place in present day and followed an older Native American woman who was employed by a wealthy couple as a cook/housecleaner and others that delved into the stories of the main characters' ancestors.

I loved the way this book blended Native American and Catholic spirituality (which is what drew me to the book), particularly the Virgin Mary's intuitive understanding that all beings who forged a path of peace were sacred and would have been "friends of her son." Mary's manifestation appeared in both the historical and the modern timelines, and I liked her portrayal in the historical one better; she felt just a touch too "woo-woo"in her modern incarnation, and I kind of felt as if the privileged, unemployed middle-aged woman she was sent to "awaken" was not really deserving of the honor. On the other hand, her appearance to comfort a grieving mother and clan leader in the historical storyline seemed a much more worthy visitation.

The historical writing was incredibly beautiful and evocative. The modern writing I found to be a little stilted in places, but I liked that it lent some greater insight into the politics of being American Indian and living in the current culture. This is something I still strive to find a deeper understanding of, especially since moving to a state with a significant Native population that still remains mostly a mystery to me.

View all my reviews

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review 2017-02-04 14:21
Enjoyable bit of magic set in reality
Lost Lake - Sarah Addison Allen

Lost Lake - Sarah Addison Allen 

 

I like how Sarah Addison Allen's books always have that bit of magic in them that make you think that maybe it's not so out of the realm of possibility.  People have those "feelings" all of the time.  So maybe for some it's just a little more.

 

I loved the way the past and present came together in LOST LAKE.  Kate, Eby, and Devon were all connected.  And their connection to the lake was fascinating.

 

The story was as much about hope as it was about loss and that is usually the way life is isn't it?

 

I enjoyed all the characters.  Even Selma had her redeeming qualities.  But all of them: Wes, Jack, Lisette, Beulah Dean added such color to the story. I was happy to see that Wes and Kate reconnected.

 

The part where it lost me was about the whole alligator thing.  It was a little bit too "magical" for my taste, but I certainly didn't detract me from the story.

 

I would have like to know what happened after it all.  After everything got settled and they moved forward with keeping the lake open, but I guess it's up to me to decide.

 

So, once again, Sarah Addison Allen immersed me in a world where just about anything is possible and gave me hope that it's true in my world too.

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review 2017-01-25 07:10
The Bone Clocks
The Bone Clocks - David Mitchell

This book was in the back row of one of my double-stacked book shelves. Out of sight, out of mind. I forgot I’d bought it some time ago (and paid extra for the prettiest cover), which is unfortunate, because Slade House would have made SO MUCH MORE SENSE from the start if I had read The Bone Clocks first.

 

Alas.

 

It was the use of the phrase “bone clock” in Slade House that reminded me I had this book. Better read late than never, I suppose, and Slade House was fresh enough in my mind that I was still able to connect a whole bunch of dots. Yay.

 

As for The Bone Clocks, I loved it. I still dislike present tense and Ed’s POV section seemed largely unnecessary, but those are my only complaints. I still love Mitchell’s storytelling, and I think he outdid himself here. Interesting characters with interesting stories (for the most part) tied together by an even more interesting string of events is something Mitchell does really well. In this case, the overarching story is a lot more cohesive than Cloud Atlas or even Slade House, and it builds slowly and almost sneakily to a pretty cool climax. As a bonus, there’s the usual smattering of book recs contained within the text, and while I’m looking for them at the library I might see if I can also discover the symbolism of birds on spades.

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review 2017-01-19 18:56
When the Moon Was Ours
When the Moon was Ours: A Novel - Anna-Marie McLemore

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.]

Enchanting and full of diversity, although the flowery prose didn't convince me.

The book opens on Miel and Sam, a skittish girl with roses growing out of her wrist, and a boy who doesn't exactly know if he wants to be a boy or go back to being a girl. In itself, this was an interesting premise, as both characters were searching for their inner truth, all lthe while being surrounded by lies (or what they perceived at such): Miel's memory—not exactly the most reliable; what Aracely, Miel's adoptive guardian, knows and what she doesn't say; Sam having to hide his body in everyday life; and the Bonner sisters, with their red hair and their mysterious ways, four girls acting as one, enchantresses ensnaring boys and wielding their own kind of power that always gets them what they want in the end.

There's more magical realism than actual magic here, although Aracely's ability to cure heartbreak, as well as her being a self-professed curandera, definitely hint at 'witchcraft'. It's more about the way things are shown and described, in the moons Sam paints and hangs outside people's windows, in the roses growing out of Miel's skin, in the rumoured stained glass coffin meant to make girls more beautiful, in how modern life and themes (immigrants in a small town, transgender teenagers, fear of rejection, or the practice of bacha posh, which I didn't know about before reading this book...) intertwine with poetry and metaphor, with images of rebirth and growing up and accepting (or realising) who you're meant to be. Not to mention racial diversity, instead of the usual 'all main protagonists are whiter than white.'

To be honest, though, as much as the prose was beautiful at first, in the end it seemed like it was trying too much, and the story suffered from too many convoluted paragraphs and redundant descriptions & flashbacks. As it was, even though I liked this book in general, I found myself skimming in places that felt like déjà vu. Granted, it's much more a character- than a plot-driven novel, but I'm convinced all the prose could've been toned down, and it would have remained beautiful without sometimes running in circles and drowning the plot now and then.

Conclusion: 2.5 stars.

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