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text 2014-12-31 06:51
A BAKER'S DOZEN: My Off-The-Beaten-Path Favorites From 2014
All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel - Anthony Doerr
The Girl with All the Gifts - M.R. Carey
By Karen Joy Fowler We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves: A Novel (Reprint) - Karen Joy Fowler
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy - Karen Foxlee
Women in Bed: Nine Stories - Jessica Keener
Perfect - Rachel Joyce
Paperboy - Vince Vawter
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August - Claire North
Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line - Michael Gibney
The Removers: A Memoir - Andrew Meredith

So this year was truly an embarrassment of riches. I had to really pair this list down, because when I went through and selected the books I had given four or five stars to this year, there were more than a baker’s dozen. So, I tried to take off a few of the higher profile books, the ones that really don’t need a nudge from me or anyone else to boost their sales. I chose a variety as well, including a short story collection, a couple memoirs, a lot of great fiction, some awesome middle grade, and of course, a zombie book, all in no particular order. Who would have thought I would have to choose between two zombie books before only one made the cut? I realize there is no solid non-fiction here, so I will have to work on that for next year.

 

Let me know if you have some for me to add to my TBR 2015.

 

  1. ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

 

  1. THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS

 

  1. WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES

 

  1. OPHELIA AND THE MARVELOUS BOY

 

  1. WOMEN IN BED

 

  1. PERFECT

 

  1. THE FIRST FIFTEEN LIVES OF HARRY AUGUST

 

  1. PAPERBOY

 

  1. SOUS CHEF: 24 HOURS ON THE LINE

 

  1. THE REMOVERS

 

  1. THE MOUNTAINTOP SCHOOL FOR DOGS

 

  1. MY COUSIN'S KEEPER

 

  1. THE SLEEPWALKER'S GUIDE TO DANCING

 

 

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review 2014-07-06 02:53
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy - Karen Foxlee

I was pre-approved for this title by the publisher via NetGalley. Thank you for the opportunity to read this book!

Though I didn't read this book from the perspective of someone who has read the original fairy tale, there is so much to love about it. If I had been able to read Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy as a kid, I would have been ecstatic. Swords are and always have been a huge interest of mine, so I really enjoyed that her father is an international swords expert. Ophelia is a great protagonist. She's nerdy, stubborn, and all around fun.

I envisioned the museum from the story's setting as this massive, almost epic place. I loved the descriptions of the different galleries and the museum's seemingly forgotten corners, and loved the concept of the Wintertide Clock.

Foxlee really has a way with words. I was more or less captivated by the story she told. While there were some moments in the prose when it was a bit overly repetitive or where the story was a bit predictable for my taste (which I suspect is partially due to the book being middle grade), I really loved it overall. The descriptions were lyrical and vivid, the characters were distinct and enjoyable, and other than the pace slowing down a bit toward the middle, the book was hard for me to put down.

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review 2014-06-19 00:00
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy - Karen Foxlee I really was not ready for this one to end. The story was unique and interesting and I loved Ophelia and the Boy - I hope there isn't a sequel, as I want to imagine their next chapters myself. I will be recommending tomany students. Grades 3?/4+ Read June 2014
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review 2014-06-06 01:08
Nearly So Perfectly Marvelous
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy - Karen Foxlee

It's not as if I could possibly ignore it if I tried--the cover is simply beyond charming, which was more than likely the reason why I clicked on the Netgalley email months ago, without realizing that the ARC would expire within hours. But I have finally gotten my hands upon the book courtesy of the local library.

 

As the title implies, the story focuses on one Ophelia, a young girl driven by a curious yet scientific and observant mind. After losing her mother to recent tragedy, she, her older sister, and her father find themselves spending most of their days in an extraordinary museum, which houses amongst its numerous possessions, a strange boy locked away in a room.

 

Adventure, of course, ensues.

 

The story was witty and altogether delightful--there is a rewarding, modern fairy-tale feel to the story. I enjoyed the read,  and I felt I would have loved it even more had I been perhaps ten years younger.

 

The plot and storyline are predictable, perhaps even so for the younger folk, but still imaginative enough to keep me reading until the end. I would recommend this book to younger readers who are looking for a light adventure story enhanced with magic reminiscent of classics like  "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe."

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review 2014-05-20 23:24
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy - Karen Foxlee

This was such a wonderfully dark, Lemony Snicket-esque retelling of the traditional Snow Queen faerie tale. I know this is a children's book, but the descriptions and the characters, particularly the queen's minions, were so frightening and well-described it was easy to forget this fact when reading. My favorite parts of the story were the details the Marvelous Boy provides about his homeland and his journey to Ophelia's world. The wizards, the magical owls, and the hardships he endures are so engrossing and fantastically detailed. I almost wish these details were not told as flashbacks, but instead as a prequel, so we could get all the details.

I was also impressed with the subtle way in which Foxlee weaves Ophelia's heartbreak at losing her mother into the story. The "voice in her head" telling her to be strong and the way Ophelia is able to put aside her steadfast dedication to scientific facts in favor of magic was very touching. I am not sure the target audience for this book (middle grade children) will appreciate these details quite as much as I did, however, which is a little unfortunate.

The only thing I didn't particularly care for was the fact that the plot often felt a little formulaic, much like the Series of Unfortunate Events books. Ophelia is given task after task. Each task is rather similar and involves her overcoming obstacles, usually in the form of some kind of magical beast. Other than this minor detail, this was an absolute treat to read.

I'd recommend this book to fans of faerie tale retellings and dark children's books. The writing was rather lyrical in nature, so if you like Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events series, you will adore this book.

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