Genre: Magical Realism

Life’s Too Short: Lincoln in the Bardo, Exit West, The Wanderers

March 30, 2017 Bonnie Book Reviews, Life's Too Short 10 Comments

Life’s Too Short: Lincoln in the Bardo, Exit West, The WanderersLincoln in the Bardo: A Novel by George Saunders
Published by Random House Audio Publishing Group on February 14th 2017
Length: 7 hours and 25 minutes
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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The long-awaited first novel from the author of Tenth of December: a moving and original father-son story featuring none other than Abraham Lincoln, as well as an unforgettable cast of supporting characters, living and dead, historical and invented

February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old. The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has begun to realize it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill. In a matter of days, despite predictions of a recovery, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. “My poor boy, he was too good for this earth,” the president says at the time. “God has called him home.” Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns, alone, to the crypt several times to hold his boy’s body.

From that seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its realistic, historical framework into a supernatural realm both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself in a strange purgatory where ghosts mingle, gripe, commiserate, quarrel, and enact bizarre acts of penance. Within this transitional state—called, in the Tibetan tradition, the bardo—a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie’s soul.

Lincoln in the Bardo is an astonishing feat of imagination and a bold step forward from one of the most important and influential writers of his generation. Formally daring, generous in spirit, deeply concerned with matters of the heart, it is a testament to fiction’s ability to speak honestly and powerfully to the things that really matter to us. Saunders has invented a thrilling new form that deploys a kaleidoscopic, theatrical panorama of voices to ask a timeless, profound question: How do we live and love when we know that everything we love must end?

DNF @ 3%

Me: “Wow! 166 audiobook narrators seems insane but that could be really cool. Like a full-cast play!”

Me mid-listen: “Well, it’s kind of convoluted but not too bad. It’s not really interesting though, at least so far. And when the other narrators speak up they kind of sound like they’re detached from the main production… if that makes sense. Like, floating disconnected voices. I’m intrigued though!”

“When we are newly arrived in this hospital-yard, young sir, and feel like weeping, what happens is, we tense up ever so slightly, and there is a mildly toxic feeling in the joints, and little things inside us burst. Sometimes we might poop a bit if we are fresh. Which is just what I did, out on the cart that day: I pooped a bit while fresh, in my sick-box, out of rage, and what was the result? I have kept that poop with me all this time, and as a matter of fact–I hope you do not find this rude, young sir, or off-putting, I hope it does not impair our nascent friendship–that poop is still down there, at this moment, in my sick-box, albeit much dryer!”

Sorry, but uh, that definitely does impair our friendship, kind sir.

Life’s Too Short: Lincoln in the Bardo, Exit West, The WanderersExit West: A Novel by Mohsin Hamid
Published by Riverhead Books on March 7th 2017
Pages: 240
Genres: Magical Realism, Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Library
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In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through.

Exit West follows these characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.

DNF @ 15%

I had high hopes for this one. Romance + war + magical realism… honestly anything magical realism makes my ears perk up even though little of it ever works for me. I wanted to know more about the war itself, the state of the world and how they had reached the point they were at, but by 15% the most detailed information given was about Saeed’s mom and dad’s sex life before he was born. Which, no thanks.

I also had a bit of an issue with the writing that I could have easily ignored if the story itself was captivating. But lines like this:

“He was an independent-minded, grown man, unmarried, with a decent post and a good education, and as was the case in those days in his city with most independent-minded, grown men, unmarried, with decent posts and good educations, he lived with his parents.”

…hilariously reminded me of this meme:

Life’s Too Short: Lincoln in the Bardo, Exit West, The WanderersThe Wanderers by Meg Howrey
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on March 14th 2017
Pages: 384
Genres: Sci-fi
Format: eBook
Source: Library
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In four years Prime Space will put the first humans on Mars. Helen Kane, Yoshi Tanaka, and Sergei Kuznetsov must prove they’re the crew for the job by spending seventeen months in the most realistic simulation every created.

Retired from NASA, Helen had not trained for irrelevance. It is nobody’s fault that the best of her exists in space, but her daughter can’t help placing blame. The MarsNOW mission is Helen’s last chance to return to the only place she’s ever truly felt at home. For Yoshi, it’s an opportunity to prove himself worthy of the wife he has loved absolutely, if not quite rightly.

Sergei is willing to spend seventeen months in a tin can if it means travelling to Mars. He will at least be tested past the point of exhaustion, and this is the example he will set for his sons.

As the days turn into months the line between what is real and unreal becomes blurred, and the astronauts learn that the complications of inner space are no less fraught than those of outer space. The Wanderers gets at the desire behind all exploration: the longing for discovery and the great search to understand the human heart.

DNF @ 5%

There isn’t anything particularly wrong with this one, but when you compare it to The Martian, I’m going to have certain expectations. The Wanderers is more character study than anything and isn’t anywhere close to humorous. The dialogue felt stilted, there was a lot of talk about creating suits for space which could be cool but really wasn’t. I also read a slight spoiler that made me convinced I made the right decision View Spoiler » All in all, it was a snooze fest and I just wasn’t in the mood.

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Waiting on Wednesday – The Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert

February 15, 2017 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 8 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – The Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. ReichertThe Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert
Series: , ,
Published by Gallery Books on May 16th 2017
Pages: 336
Genres: Foodie Fiction, Magical Realism, Romance
Format: Paperback
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Also by this author: The Coincidence of Coconut Cake

Fall in love with The Simplicity of Cider, the charming new novel about an aloof but gifted cider-maker whose quiet life is interrupted by the arrival of a handsome man and his young son at her family’s careworn orchard by the author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake and Luck, Love & Lemon Pie.

Focused and unassuming fifth generation cider-maker Sanna has one desire: to live a simple, quiet life on her family’s apple orchard in Door County, Wisconsin. Although her business is struggling, Sanna remains fiercely devoted to the orchard, despite her brother’s attempts to convince their aging father to sell the land.

Isaac Banks has spent years singlehandedly trying to shield his son Sebastian from his troubled mother. Fleeing heartbreak, Isaac packed up their lives and the two headed out on an adventure, taking odd jobs as they drove across the country from California, pulling up to Sanna’s orchard at exactly the right time...

Isaac’s helping hands are much appreciated at the apple farm, even more when Sanna’s father is injured in an accident, leaving her as his sole caretaker. As Sanna’s formerly simple life becomes increasingly complicated, she finds solace in unexpected places—friendship with young Sebastian and something more deliciously complex with Isaac—until an outside threat infiltrates the farm. Can Sanna save the orchard and her budding romance? Or will she lose more than she knew she had?

From the warm and funny Amy E. Reichert, The Simplicity of Cider is a charming love story with a touch of magic, perfect for fans of Sarah Addison Allen and Gayle Forman.

About Amy E. Reichert

Amy Reichert earned her MA in Literature from Marquette University, and honed her writing and editing skills as a technical writer (which is exactly as exciting as it sounds). As a newly minted member of the local library board, she loves helping readers find new books to love. She’s a life-long Wisconsin resident with (allegedly) a very noticeable accent, a patient husband, and two too-smart-for-their-own-good kids. When time allows, she loves to read, collect more cookbooks than she could possibly use, and test the limits of her DVR.

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Reichert’s debut, The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, was sweet, simple fun. The Simplicity of Cider, her third novel, looks to add a touch of magic mixed in with the romance which is one of my most favorite genre combinations.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Early Review – The Secret Ingredient of Wishes by Susan Bishop Crispell

August 5, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2016 3 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – The Secret Ingredient of Wishes by Susan Bishop CrispellThe Secret Ingredient of Wishes by Susan Bishop Crispell
Published by Thomas Dunne Books on September 6th 2016
Pages: 304
Genres: Foodie Fiction, Magical Realism
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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two-half-stars

26-year-old Rachel Monroe has spent her whole life trying to keep a very unusual secret: she can make wishes come true. And sometimes the consequences are disastrous. So when Rachel accidentally grants an outlandish wish for the first time in years, she decides it’s time to leave her hometown―and her past―behind for good.

Rachel isn’t on the road long before she runs out of gas in a town that’s not on her map: Nowhere, North Carolina―also known as the town of “Lost and Found.” In Nowhere, Rachel is taken in by a spit-fire old woman, Catch, who possesses a strange gift of her own: she can bind secrets by baking them into pies. Rachel also meets Catch’s neighbor, Ashe, a Southern gentleman with a complicated past, who makes her want to believe in happily-ever-after for the first time in her life.

As she settles into the small town, Rachel hopes her own secrets will stay hidden, but wishes start piling up everywhere Rachel goes. When the consequences threaten to ruin everything she’s begun to build in Nowhere, Rachel must come to terms with who she is and what she can do, or risk losing the people she’s starting to love―and her chance at happiness―all over again.

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Rachel Monroe is something of a modern day fairy godmother: she can make wishes come true. Whenever someone makes a wish, a slip of paper flutters down out of nowhere and as soon as she reads the words on the paper, their wish is granted. When Rachel was younger, one of her own wishes came true and it was terribly life changing and she vowed never to make any other wishes come true. That is, until the day her friend’s daughter wished for a unicorn and a pony with a sugar cone strapped to its head appeared on her doorstep.

Terrified that she’s going to cause everything to go wrong again, she packs a bag and leaves town immediately. She finds herself stranded and out of gas in a town in North Carolina ironically named Nowhere. Rachel is taken in by a kind elderly lady named Catch and meets a man named Ashe. Feeling like she’s finally found someplace to call home, she hopes that her wishes cease to plague her.

I am an absolute sucker for any book that manages to include tasty foods. Sure, the summary sounded all sorts of fluffy cute with the fun magical realism bits and a cutesy romance to get all swoony over that completely reminded me of a Sarah Addison Allen novel, but when it was all said and done I was really only thinking one thing:

I was so eager to get my hands on a copy of this because I was completely prepared to adore this one because it had everything I typically love. It really would have been great but there were far too many plot holes and aspects that continued to be distracting to the storyline as a whole. On top of that there was just a bit too much cheesiness for my liking. Let me explain.

So Rachel up and leaves her stable home and job because she made a wish come true. The story started off shockingly somber (not a spoiler — revealed within first 5%) when it’s revealed that the wish that Rachel made come true, that changed her life forever, was the wish that her little brother would disappear. And he did. Literally. Her parents completely forget he ever existed, he was erased from every photograph, even the door to his bedroom disappeared like there was never a room there to begin with. Every last trace of him, gone. Rachel continues to insist she has a brother and she ends up getting institutionalized, her dad leaves the family, and her mother ends up committing suicide. For fucks sake.

So… moving on.

So Rachel up and leaves town and basically begins a new life in a new town thinking that people in a small town won’t have wishes or something. Personally, that just seemed a little drastic and far fetched to me. Especially since it’s not like she went out to live by herself in the boonies to get away from people whose lives she could potentially ruin or something. Suspension of disbelief is mildly required. I trudged on though, continuing to refocus on the important parts: the pie. Alas, the story continued to reveal itself as something akin to a Lifetime movie. Sorry, Lifetime movies just aren’t my thing. But we have the oh so perfect love interest, except he’s carrying some serious baggage. The townsfolk that go to great lengths (minus actual pitchforks) to run Rachel out of town. The mysterious person from Rachel’s past that knows everything and tries to blackmail her. The old lady that meets her and invites her to live with her the same day. There was just a lot of silly and unnecessary drama involved that was more far fetched than anything and really detracted from what could have been a really delightful story. All I know is, I didn’t sign up for all that. I came for the pie, dammit.

Honestly though, there is a ton of pie in this book and the descriptions will have you racing to the closest bakery. My favorite was by far the “salted chocolate tart with a potato chip crust. Drool. But holy hell, other than a single rib cook-off mentioned, pie is all this town seemed to eat. Then again, with all their daily drama, I’d probably eat nothing but pie too.

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Early Review – The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough

July 29, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2016 1 Comment

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – The Language of Dying by Sarah PinboroughThe Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough
Published by Jo Fletcher Books on August 2nd 2016
Pages: 144
Genres: Magical Realism, Horror
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: Mayhem, Murder, Behind Her Eyes

three-stars

In this emotionally gripping, genre-defying novella from Sarah Pinborough, a woman sits at her father's bedside, watching the clock tick away the last hours of his life. Her brothers and sisters--she is the middle child of five--have all turned up over the past week to pay their last respects. Each is traumatized in his or her own way, and the bonds that unite them to each other are fragile--as fragile perhaps as the old man's health.

With her siblings all gone, back to their self-obsessed lives, she is now alone with the faltering wreck of her father's cancer-ridden body. It is always at times like this when it--the dark and nameless, the impossible, presence that lingers along the fringes of the dark fields beyond the house--comes calling.

As the clock ticks away in the darkness, she can only wait for it to find her, a reunion she both dreads and aches for...

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‘There is a language to dying. It creeps like a shadow alongside the passing years and the taste of it hides in the corners of our mouths. It finds us whether we are sick or healthy. It is a secret hushed thing that lives in the whisper of the nurses’ skirts as they rustle up and down our stairs. They’ve taught me to face the language one syllable at a time, slowing creating an unwilling meaning.’

The Language of Dying is a multi-genre novella which tells the story of a dying father and his five children that come together to be with him in his final moments. Blending a contemporary tale of family life with aspects of magical realism and horror, Sarah Pinborough focuses on an unnamed narrator, the middle child of five who has been the one to remain home and care for her father once he realized that cancer was ravaging his body. It’s not until she receives word that her father has mere days to live do her siblings finally return to pay their respects, leaving it up to her to handle things until they can no longer say no. Her siblings have always found her to be something of an odd duck, always has her head in the clouds, but not only is she constantly haunted by a creature she once saw out her bedroom window but of the darkened past that she keeps hidden while is continues to consume her.

‘A black horn grows twisted from between its eye, a thick, deformed, calloused thing, a tree root erupting from the earthy ground of its forehead, the matt texture oppositional to the sweaty shine on its dark hide. I stare at it and our souls meet. It is power and anger and beauty and nature rolled into something other-worldly, waging a war with the night on its four thick hooves.’

The magical realism/horror aspects of this novel were initially curious yet ultimately left me perplexed. The novella mainly centers around the narrators relationship with her father and her siblings as well as her own tragically distressing story that has changed her as a person. Bouncing between past and present tense, the story is a nostalgic one, recalling past times with both fondness and animosity. The inclusion of the fantasy aspect, oddly, never seemed out of place in this contemporary story yet felt mostly like a metaphor that I never fully understood. The Language of Dying is an outlandish yet beautifully written story that effectively illustrates the power of grief and the indelible mark it leaves on us.

 ‘Sometimes there are just too many words filling up space and not enough emptiness left for thinking. I keep a little emptiness inside for when I need it.’

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Waiting on Wednesday – The Secret Ingredient of Wishes by Susan Bishop Crispell

July 5, 2016 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 7 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – The Secret Ingredient of Wishes by Susan Bishop CrispellThe Secret Ingredient of Wishes by Susan Bishop Crispell
Published by Thomas Dunne Books on September 6th 2016
Pages: 304
Genres: Foodie Fiction, Magical Realism
Format: Hardcover
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Secret Ingredient of Wishes

26-year-old Rachel Monroe has spent her whole life trying to keep a very unusual secret: she can make wishes come true. And sometimes the consequences are disastrous. So when Rachel accidentally grants an outlandish wish for the first time in years, she decides it’s time to leave her hometown―and her past―behind for good.

Rachel isn’t on the road long before she runs out of gas in a town that’s not on her map: Nowhere, North Carolina―also known as the town of “Lost and Found.” In Nowhere, Rachel is taken in by a spit-fire old woman, Catch, who possesses a strange gift of her own: she can bind secrets by baking them into pies. Rachel also meets Catch’s neighbor, Ashe, a Southern gentleman with a complicated past, who makes her want to believe in happily-ever-after for the first time in her life.

As she settles into the small town, Rachel hopes her own secrets will stay hidden, but wishes start piling up everywhere Rachel goes. When the consequences threaten to ruin everything she’s begun to build in Nowhere, Rachel must come to terms with who she is and what she can do, or risk losing the people she’s starting to love―and her chance at happiness―all over again.

About Susan Bishop Crispell

Susan Bishop Crispell is not one of those writers who's been scribbling down stories since she could hold a pencil. She didn't read constantly growing up (blasphemy!), and she can still be found in public without a book tucked into her purse (again with the blasphemy!). She is, however, the kind of writer who lives for the imaginative spark that introduces her to a new character or story idea that pushes her to turn everyday life into something magical.

She is the author of THE SECRET INGREDIENT OF WISHES (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, 9/6/2016), and THE PROBABILITY OF FATE (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, 2017). Susan lives and writes near Wilmington, NC with her husband and their two literary-named cats.

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There is seriously nothing better than foodie fiction + magical realism. Sarah Addison Allen made me a devoted fan and I’m always on the lookout for similar styles. So extremely excited for this one, it sounds superb.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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Waiting on Wednesday – The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough

March 30, 2016 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 4 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – The Language of Dying by Sarah PinboroughThe Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough
Published by Jo Fletcher Books on August 2nd 2016
Pages: 144
Genres: Horror, Magical Realism
Format: Hardcover
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Mayhem, Murder, The Language of Dying

In this emotionally gripping, genre-defying novella from Sarah Pinborough, a woman sits at her father's bedside, watching the clock tick away the last hours of his life. Her brothers and sisters--she is the middle child of five--have all turned up over the past week to pay their last respects. Each is traumatized in his or her own way, and the bonds that unite them to each other are fragile--as fragile perhaps as the old man's health.

With her siblings all gone, back to their self-obsessed lives, she is now alone with the faltering wreck of her father's cancer-ridden body. It is always at times like this when it--the dark and nameless, the impossible, presence that lingers along the fringes of the dark fields beyond the house--comes calling.

As the clock ticks away in the darkness, she can only wait for it to find her, a reunion she both dreads and aches for...

About Sarah Pinborough

Sarah Pinborough is a critically acclaimed horror, thriller and YA author. In the UK she is published by both Gollancz and Jo Fletcher Books at Quercus and by Ace, Penguin and Titan in the US. Her short stories have appeared in several anthologies and she has a horror film Cracked currently in development and another original screenplay under option. She has recently branched out into television writing and has written for New Tricks on the BBC and has an original series in development with World Productions and ITV Global.

Sarah was the 2009 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story, and has three times been short-listed for Best Novel. She has also been short-listed for a World Fantasy Award. Her novella, The Language of Dying was short-listed for the Shirley Jackson Award and won the 2010 British Fantasy Award for Best Novella.

I adored this authors Mayhem series and I’m so glad I have a decent backlist of books to still read from her. But this? This dark, magical realism novella sounds fantastic and what a cover.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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Waiting on Wednesday – To The Bright Edge of the World: A Novel by Eowyn Ivey

November 25, 2015 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 6 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – To The Bright Edge of the World: A Novel by Eowyn IveyTo The Bright Edge of the World: A Novel by Eowyn Ivey
Published by Little Brown and Company on August 2nd 2016
Pages: 432
Genres: Historical Fiction, Magical Realism
Format: Hardcover
Book Depository
Goodreads

Set again in the Alaskan landscape that she bought to stunningly vivid life in THE SNOW CHILD, Eowyn Ivey's new novel is a breathtaking story of discovery and adventure, set at the end of the nineteenth century, and of a marriage tested by a closely held secret.

Colonel Allen Forrester receives the commission of a lifetime when he is charged to navigate Alaska's hitherto impassable Wolverine River, with only a small group of men. The Wolverine is the key to opening up Alaska and its huge reserves of gold to the outside world, but previous attempts have ended in tragedy.

For Forrester, the decision to accept this mission is even more difficult, as he is only recently married to Sophie, the wife he had perhaps never expected to find. Sophie is pregnant with their first child, and does not relish the prospect of a year in a military barracks while her husband embarks upon the journey of a lifetime. She has genuine cause to worry about her pregnancy, and it is with deep uncertainty about what their future holds that she and her husband part.

A story shot through with a darker but potent strand of the magic that illuminated THE SNOW CHILD, and with the sweep and insight that characterised Rose Tremain's The Colour, this new novel from Pulitzer Prize finalist Eowyn Ivey singles her out as a major literary talent.

About Eowyn Ivey

Eowyn LeMay Ivey was raised in Alaska and continues to live there with her husband and two daughters. She received her BA in journalism and minor in creative writing through the honors program at Western Washington University, studied creative nonfiction at the University of Alaska Anchorage graduate program, and worked for nearly 10 years as an award-winning reporter at the Frontiersman newspaper. This is her first novel.

The Snow Child was such an absolutely incredible read and I’ve been anxious for more from this author ever since. With that beyond gorgeous cover and intriguing storyline, I’ll be eagerly awaiting August for sure.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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Waiting on Wednesday – A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly

November 11, 2015 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 2 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – A Criminal Magic by Lee KellyA Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly
Published by Saga Press on February 2nd 2016
Pages: 432
Genres: Historical Fiction, Magical Realism
Format: Hardcover
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THE NIGHT CIRCUS meets THE PEAKY BLINDERS in Lee Kelly's new magical realism, crossover novel.

Magic is powerful, dangerous and addictive - and after passage of the 18th Amendment, it is finally illegal.

It's 1926 in Washington, DC, and while Anti-Sorcery activists have achieved the Prohibition of sorcery, the city's magic underworld is booming. Sorcerers cast illusions to aid mobsters' crime sprees. Smugglers funnel magic contraband in from overseas. Gangs have established secret performance venues where patrons can lose themselves in magic, and take a mind-bending, intoxicating elixir known as the sorcerer's shine.

Joan Kendrick, a young sorcerer from Norfolk County, Virginia accepts an offer to work for DC's most notorious crime syndicate, the Shaw Gang, when her family's home is repossessed. Alex Danfrey, a first-year Federal Prohibition Unit trainee with a complicated past and talents of his own, becomes tapped to go undercover and infiltrate the Shaws.

Through different paths, Joan and Alex tread deep into the violent, dangerous world of criminal magic - and when their paths cross at the Shaws' performance venue, despite their orders, and despite themselves, Joan and Alex become enchanted with one another. But when gang alliances begin to shift, the two sorcerers are forced to question their ultimate allegiances and motivations. And soon, Joan and Alex find themselves pitted against each other in a treacherous, heady game of cat-and-mouse.

A CRIMINAL MAGIC casts a spell of magic, high stakes and intrigue against the backdrop of a very different Roaring Twenties.

About Lee Kelly

Lee Kelly has wanted to write since she was old enough to hold a pencil, but it wasn’t until she began studying for the California Bar Exam that she conveniently started putting pen to paper.

An entertainment lawyer by trade, Lee has practiced law in Los Angeles and New York.

She lives with her husband and son in Millburn, New Jersey, though after a decade in Manhattan, she can’t help but still call herself a New Yorker.

City of Savages is her first novel. Visit her at NewWriteCity.com.

I never got around to reading this authors debut, but A Criminal Magic is most definitely on my TBR. Magical Realism and Alternate Reality in the 20s? Oh, yes, please.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

dvd-pearl

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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National Book Award 2015 Finalist – Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

November 6, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2015, YA 1 Comment

National Book Award 2015 Finalist – Bone Gap by Laura RubyBone Gap by Laura Ruby
Published by Balzer + Bray on March 3rd 2015
Pages: 368
Genres: Magical Realism, Mystery
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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four-stars

From acclaimed author Laura Ruby comes a fascinating, powerful, and wholly original novel about a beautiful young woman, a haunted young man, and a secretive Midwestern town.

Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years ago, their mother hightailed it to Oregon for a brand-new guy, a brand-new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?

Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turn up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.

As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap—their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures—Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.

‘Because we don’t have your typical gaps around here. Not gaps made of rocks or mountains. We have gaps in the world. In the space of things. So many places to lose yourself, if you believe that they’re there. You can slip into the gap and never find your way out. Or maybe you don’t want to find your way out.’

Finn O’Sullivan was the only witness to the kidnapping of Roza, his brother Sean’s girlfriend. But when he wrestles with his memories trying to recall the face of the man that took her, he also remembers that she didn’t really put up a fight. So maybe she wanted to leave? It only seemed natural, after their mother left Finn and Sean as well so it would make sense for Roza to do the same. No one in the town believes his story, especially since the only way he can describe the man who took her is that he “moves like a cornstalk in the wind.

Return of Persephone by Frederick Leighton (1891)

Bone Gap, at first glance, appears to be your typical small-town in America where everyone knows everyone’s business no matter how private you strive to keep it. There’s the local brothers that go around bullying people, there’s the rumor spreading and gossip mongering, but then there’s an offhand note about the corn that whispers softly to Finn. The basis of this story stems from the abduction of Persephone myth, which when I realized this made it all the more fascinating. It’s quite evident once you realize this even if it’s only loosely inspired. Pomegranates still manage to make an appearance, there’s the subtle reference to the garden that stopped flourishing as soon as she was gone, and the corns presence in the story becomes much less Children of the Corn when you take into account the connection between it and Persephone’s return.

There are so many enigmatic facets to this story that I could discuss but it likely wouldn’t make much sense to someone who hadn’t already experienced this story. Because an experience is exactly what this story is. Its world-building is obscure, cryptic, and vague. But it’s also fanciful and unconventional and that’s what I loved most about this. Trying to nail this story down to a single genre is a troublesome endeavor, but just know that it’s part mythology, part romance, with large parts of magical realism that is so relentless it often veers into straight fantasy. One of the most innovative stories I’ve read this year.

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Early Review – The Sparrow Sisters: A Novel by Ellen Herrick

August 27, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2015 2 Comments

I received this book free from Library Thing in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – The Sparrow Sisters: A Novel by Ellen HerrickThe Sparrow Sisters: A Novel by Ellen Herrick
Published by William Morrow on September 1st 2015
Pages: 384
Genres: Magical Realism
Format: Paperback
Source: Library Thing
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two-stars

With echoes of the alchemy of Practical Magic, the lushness of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, and the darkly joyful wickedness of the Witches of East End, Ellen Herrick’s debut novel spins an enchanting love story about a place where magic whispers just beneath the surface and almost anything is possible, if you aren’t afraid to listen

The Sparrow sisters are as tightly woven into the seaside New England town of Granite Point as the wild sweet peas that climb the stone walls along the harbor. Sorrel, Nettie and Patience are as colorful as the beach plums on the dunes and as mysterious as the fog that rolls into town at dusk.

Patience is the town healer and when a new doctor settles into Granite Point he brings with him a mystery so compelling that Patience is drawn to love him, even as she struggles to mend him. But when Patience Sparrow’s herbs and tinctures are believed to be implicated in a local tragedy, Granite Point is consumed by a long-buried fear—and its three hundred year old history resurfaces as a modern day witch-hunt threatens. The plants and flowers, fruit trees and high hedges begin to wither and die, and the entire town begins to fail; fishermen return to the harbor empty-handed, and blight descends on the old elms that line the lanes.

It seems as if Patience and her town are lost until the women of Granite Point band together to save the Sparrow. As they gather, drawing strength from each other, will they be able to turn the tide and return life to Granite Point?

The Sparrow Sisters is a beautiful, haunting, and thoroughly mesmerizing novel that will capture your imagination.

I picked up The Sparrow Sisters with some pretty lofty expectations and I suppose I kind of set myself up for failure there. Being that I’ve ran through Sarah Addison Allen’s library, I’m always looking for new magical realism stories but they seem few and far between. This being compared to SAA as well as Practical Magic had me switching this to all signs point to yes. Unfortunately, this was nothing but a disappointment and the magical realism tidbits just didn’t do it for me.

There are two parts to this story, but neither actually work. First, this is the story of the Sparrow sisters and how their family came to live in the town for generations upon generations. They’re known for being a little quirky but they’ve simply just become a fixture of the town and their strangeness is simply “accepted”. They keep to themselves, all living together in their family home until a new doctor comes to town who becomes instantly interested in the youngest Sparrow sister, Patience, for absolutely no reason at all. The second part of the story is the attempt at providing some semblance of a point, so there’s a bit of a pseudo-mystery, some moral conundrums, and all around pointlessness. See, Patience Sparrow is known for her Herbology remedies via the use of herbs from the family nursery. She seems to have a bit of a gift that’s been seemingly passed down from her family and she’s used it to help treat the townsfolk for years on anything from morning sickness to sleeplessness. When a local tragedy occurs, all signs point to Patience’s involvement just out of sheer negligence because of a misuse of herbs.

Patience and the good doctor Henry Carlyle are first introduced and immediately butt heads. Naturally, because we’re all adults here, Henry immediately falls for her prickly nature and insists on getting to know her. The two lack any sort of emotional spark and their attraction to one another remains completely hazy especially with their differing opinions on medicines and treatments. Henry has a secure position on his high horse while he rants and raves about Patience needing to send her patients to a “real doctor”. This is where the moral conundrums are in play.

“Look, you don’t expect me to stand back and let you treat a potentially sick child without some kind of conventional” – Henry emphasized the word – “medical participation?”

High horse. I told you. Henry would go on and on about the possible dangers of what she was doing and how her herbal remedies were going to hurt people someday. His ranking on the annoyance scale was up there with Rick.

I couldn’t help it. So, the book’s stance is natural remedies are evil and you shouldn’t trust them and just go to a “real doctor” instead. From personal experience, I never went to a “real” doctor when I was a kid and was raised on homeopathic (note, different than herbology) remedies. I felt that Henry’s stance on what “proper treatments” are and his constant ranting about “real doctors” was entirely unjustified and encompassed far too much of the book. What made it all the worse was before Henry, Patience was secure in her knowledge and belief of the good she was doing. Enter Henry and suddenly she’s filled with doubt and regret for her negligence. Please. Taking all the good she did and transforming her into a “witch” was only the next logical step, of course.

‘One look at the inscription on the band shell was enough to remind everyone in Granite Point how long it had been since panic seized the town, and how fast it had nearly destroyed it. If there was to be another witch hunt, it certainly had a strong start.’

Yes, because all that was missing was a modern day witch-hunt. The story continued unraveling. In addition to the story/plot itself, the writing felt incredibly stilted. There were some beautifully described scenes and I loved the portrayal of the small New England town, however, it lacked conviction. And good news? This is NATURALLY the start of a potential series.

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