Tag Archives: Magical realism

When The Moon Was Ours – An Enchanting and Enigmatic Modern Fairytale

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When The Moon Was Ours – An Enchanting and Enigmatic Modern Fairytale

Lush and vivid imagery make for a beautifully written, if somewhat enigmatic, modern fairytale.  Fresh character concepts blend with universal and timeless themes to make something that feels weighty and exotic, and yet, still welcoming.  In short, Anna-Marie McLemore spins a pretty and a pretty strange tale that I gave four stars.


Goodreads Summary

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

My Thoughts

The book is paced for a leisurely read – rife with descriptions of pumpkins and petals, well drawn emotions, and pauses where characters ponder how much self discovery they can handle.  Both Miel and Sam are carefully crafted characters that transcend the page, and I enjoyed their journey towards acceptance.  I loved their friendship – the kind that lasts despite  the ugliness of life.  At the same time, the magical realism did, as usual, leave me feeling like I was a step behind.  I never fully understood the mystical bond of the Bonner sisters, and that left me a little frustrated.  Don’t get me started on the glass pumpkins – that is a mystery beyond my comprehension.  However, if you are willing to embrace the tale and let go of some of your rational questions, this is enchanting.  Some language and sexual situations make this most appropriate for the 15+ crowd.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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A Fierce and Subtle Poison – Some mysteries might be better unsolved

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A Fierce and Subtle Poison – Some mysteries might be better unsolved

This sounded so close to one of my favorite short stories, “Rappaccini’s Daughter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, that I couldn’t resist.  I wasn’t disappointed.  Lush prose, exotic Carribean culture  and ghosts tangle with unhinged science and poisoned kisses for a dark, magical atmosphere, and a mystery that you might not want to solve.  Throw in some seriously complex complications for a seemingly doomed love story, and you have a book that is hard to put down.

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Goodreads Summary

Everyone knows the legends about the cursed girl–Isabel, the one the señoras whisper about. They say she has green skin and grass for hair, and she feeds on the poisonous plants that fill her family’s Caribbean island garden. Some say she can grant wishes; some say her touch can kill.

Seventeen-year-old Lucas lives on the mainland most of the year but spends summers with his hotel-developer father in Puerto Rico. He’s grown up hearing stories about the cursed girl, and he wants to believe in Isabel and her magic. When letters from Isabel begin mysteriously appearing in his room the same day his new girlfriend disappears, Lucas turns to Isabel for answers–and finds himself lured into her strange and enchanted world. But time is running out for the girl filled with poison, and the more entangled Lucas becomes with Isabel, the less certain he is of escaping with his own life.

My Thoughts

My only complaint was Lucas, the narrator.  He tried not to be the trust fund jerk his father wanted him to be, but he still came across as over-privileged, cocky, and too much of a player for my taste.  His latest hook-up dies and he seems concerned, but he still keeps romancing girls in the midst of the mess?  I found it hard to take.  I do understand some of the decisions that shaped his character – they were necessary to develop the rather intriguing and light commentary on modern day colonialism.  I just didn’t like those parts of him.  Most readers will forgive him by the end and forget that such an intrinsic change is a little hard to really believe. Overall, this is an engaging mystery and a beautifully written book.  It is a little more magical realism than Hawthorne’s dark romanticism, but it didn’t have that over the top weird or the hard to follow plot twists that I associate with that style.  I think it has an audience for high school readers and adult readers of YA as well.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 9+.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Everything You and I Could Have Been if We Weren’t You and I 

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Everything You and I Could Have Been if We Weren’t You and I 

This book is one I hesitated to blog about simply because I’m not sure there is much of an audience for it in the American readership.  Certainly if you are looking for something experimental or if you just like giving something unique a try, this is a book to consider.  I personally only gave it a three star rating, but that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy this mix of science fiction and magical realism.

 

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Goodreads Summary

Can you imagine a future where everyone has given up sleeping?

From the creator of the television series Red Band Society and author of the international bestseller The Yellow World comes this uniquely special novel.
What if I could reveal your secrets with just a glance? And what if I could feel with your heart just by looking at you? And what if –in a single moment– I could know that we were made for each other? Marcos has just lost his mother, a famous dancer who taught him everything, and he decides that his world can never be the same without her. Just as he is about to make a radical change, a phone call turns his world upside down.

My Thoughts

This is a strange little work of science fiction that reads like a dream – literally, it reads like a strange dream.  That is rather fitting as the book opens with the main character contemplating taking an injection designed to take away the need for sleep.  His mother has died and the idea of dreaming in a world without his mother is too much.  Then a couple of things stop him from pushing the plunger on his dream life.  He sees a girl in the plaza outside his window and his boss calls him to work because a suspected alien life form has been discovered.  These two events will change his perceptions about life and death forever.  Reading this book is quite a lot like watching a foreign film.   The ideas and plot are going to be different from a traditional American novel.  It has the magical realism that is almost entirely absent in American literature, and it takes a more open minded American reader to suspend their disbelief long enough to enjoy it.  It also might make you feel dumb when you don’t “get it” or when you are afraid you didn’t “get it.”  I certainly felt there were parts of the story that eluded me, but overall, I enjoyed it for its strange, dream-like situations and prose. However, I was disturbed by what I inferred about the mother/son relationship in this story, but I wasn’t really sure if I was inferring too much.  I do think that some readers will be annoyed by this story and feel like it was a waste of time.  If you can’t enjoy a strange foreign film, or even an American remake of one like Vanilla Sky, I think you should just skip this.  If, however, you can loosen up your ideas of what a story should be or do and let the words take you to somewhere new and unexpected, you might enjoy this.  While this book was listed as YA on NetGalley, I don’t think this is a YA read.  The experimental feel of the style paired with the leisurely pace don’t really lend themselves to the average YA reader’s expectations.  There is also a lot of thought and philosophy about sex which I didn’t really feel was appropriate for Just any teen reader.  It isn’t graphic, but it is just a casual attitude towards sex that I think some parents would object to.  It would certainly prompt a lot of discussion as a book club selection, though, and I think it is an interesting and thought provoking read.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.