Tag Archives: Magic

The Lace Reader

Rating: 3 stars

Genre: Magical Realism

Length: 390 pgs.

Synopsis: The last time Towner read lace, a form of psychic reading, her twin sister drowned and Towner ended up in a mental institution. Now after 20 years(?) Towner’s great-aunt/adopted mother has gone missing and Towner is called back to Salem. After finding out what happened to her aunt, sort of, Towner and a local police detective end up investigating another missing woman and a local cult leader, who just happens to be Towner’s uncle. The plot of this story isn’t linear and is very hard to explain.

Review: I have a problem with unreliable narrators. I’m an incredibly gullible person who tends to take things at face value when I read, especially when the story is told in first person. How could you lie to me when I’m inside your head?! Well…

I liked Towner from the beginning. Towner is in recovery from surgery when she first gets the news about her auntand having just undergone surgery myself, I was very concerned about the amount of traveling and exercise she was undertaking so soon during her recovery. I absolutely loved the secondary characters. Towner’s hermit mother living on Yellow Dog Island infested by packs of wild golden retrievers (Take a minute and picture that. Remote Island. Adorableness running rampant. Ok, back to the story). Having been fascinated with the Salem witch trials since middle school earlier, I’m surprised I didn’t read this book when it first came out.

Until the last 50 pages or so, I would have given this book four stars and then the twist happened. I’m not going to say what it is, just that I did not see it coming. And now I kind of want to re-read the entire book to see if there were any clues and I’m just ambivalent, or if it was just an oddly written book. In any case, the twist changes the entire feeling of the book and it made me doubt everything I had just read. That being said, if you like family drama, the Northeast, and sort-of-witchy witchiness I would actually highly recommend this book even though I only gave it 3 stars.

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane


http://www.neilgaiman.com/works/images/TheOceanattheEndoftheLane_Hardcover_1359996597.jpg
I actually listened to the audiobook of The Ocean at the End of the Lane read by the author, Neil Gaiman. I had read the blurb on the back cover but was still not expecting the story that I actually got.  I’m also still unsure as to how I feel about the book or if I even liked it. The story unfolds with the narrator looking back on a childhood adventure as an adult. In this adventure, he and his neighbor down the lane, Lettie Hempstock, try to send a spirit back who is stirring up trouble, especially for the narrator. This spirit is in the form of Ursula Monkton, the new family babysitter. I can identify with a child’s dislike of a babysitter and seeing her as a sort of monster, so that bit of fantasy definitely appealed to me. I enjoyed the scenes with the Hempstock family as I particularly liked Lettie’s mother and grandmother as characters. The end was quite sad, but it was an ending that suited the story well. Gaiman’s books and fantasies are always so different, but yet very imaginative. This is definitely a story that no one else has written.
On a side note, this book was in the adult fiction section but I would consider it more of a YA book minus the dodgy sexual encounter between Ursula Monkton and the narrator’s father. I think that is part of the reason why I liked it more than American Gods. I just tend to like Gaiman’s younger narrators better.

The Bone Season

To tell you I was disappointed in this would be an understatement. I think it’s pretty safe to say that the publishers are pushing this book like crazy. First book in a seven book series? Intriguing! Steampunk? Yes, please! London? Do you even have to ask? So what is so bad about it?

Well…let me start out with saying I didn’t hate it. In fact, it got a lot better once the plot actually got going. I think one of my biggest problems lies with the fact that I constantly got the impression that the author was trying SO hard to be cool it hurt. She is very young (born in 1991) and this is her first book, so I get it. Pressure so on and so forth. The slang just about killed me. There is a glossary in the back of the book that gives the slang and the meanings. There is a little paragraph at the top of the glossary stating that she kind of modeled it on slang from the London underground and blah blah blah. Que the trying too hard. It’s a nice idea, but it was kind of overkill. I don’t need you to shorten clairvoyant to voyant or clairvoyance to voyance. However, if you choose to shorten these words then stick with it! There can be no waffling back and forth between slang and not slang or I will just be annoyed.

This is also a book for adults, yet it reads like every YA book I’ve ever read. Now, I love YA books so this shouldn’t count against it, but it does a little. This is supposed to be a book for adults and it doesn’t feel like it. It just felt like an extended YA book because it was 452 pages long! I wanted to be surprised, but it all kind of felt cliche because I knew who the love interest would be and what was going unfold with her Rephaite keeper. I just felt kind of sad the whole time.

POSITIVE STARTING HERE (kind of):
Ok, I feel like this post is a bit doom and gloom and perhaps that isn’t fair. Maybe my expectations were too high. So be it. I do have some positive things to say. Once the story really got rolling I couldn’t put it down. I had to know WHERE the story would end. I was still really let down overall, but the plot picked up and it stayed pretty exciting. The author did a great job building a world for these characters and giving everyone a distinct personality. I never felt as though they strayed from the character she was setting up and that was nice to see.

Now, will I read the other books in this too long series? That is debatable. I waffled over what to rate this for so long I can’t really decide how I feel about it. I will decide once book 2 comes out and perhaps I will give this series another chance.

2.5/5 stars

Raven Boys: a taste of psychics, birds, and the kiss of death

Well, it has been quite a while since I’ve read a book that wasn’t part way through a series. I would say that Raven Boys was a good way to start again.

Like all good places to begin, let’s start with that cover. I mean, look at it. I wanted to read this just because of that cover. I don’t like the cover for Dream Thieves quite as much, but my expectations were clearly high after book 1. Now, onto what is actually between the covers.

Blue, our main character, is funny and independent. I liked that the kiss prophecy reminded me a bit of fairy tales. “Kiss your true love and he dies” a bit backwards from the kiss that solves all the world’s problems, but more realistic. Relationships are messy and dating sucks. Anyone that tells you dating is great lies. Run the other way now. I liked that there wasn’t this ridiculous love at first sight passion, but there were so many feelings! You could imagine the kinds of kissing that could go on if people weren’t going to literally die from it. I’m sure Ronan knows all about that since he is totally a loose cannon.

I sort of got this weird Donna Tart Secret History group feeling while I read this book. I couldn’t quite figure it out until I sat down to write this review, but I think that may be why I loved this so much. A group of weird kids, someone new tossed in the mix, murder, plots, magic. I can dig it.

Gansey. Yes. I loved him. I loved everyone in this book. Adam is wonderful. I simultaneously feel bad for him, want to punch him, then hug him, and Noah is great. Even Ronan that totally freaked me out and I worried he was going to go flying off the handle and kill everyone. In fact, maybe that is why I liked Ronan. YA books are usually straight forward and I take what they say at face value, so if they can trick me I instantly love them for it. This could have been that kind of book.

Like all good things the end of the book came and it left me feeling a bit dejected. Not because the ending wasn’t good, but because there wasn’t enough ending! I want the whole story and I want it now!! Ok, fine, I will just wait and read the other books. I look forward to it and I hope I love book 2 just as much.

Scent of Darkness

I really wanted to like this more than I did. I was told to read this book by someone that has very similar book taste to my own and so I thought I would love it. I think this was just a bit weird for me. I liked the idea behind the story but not really the story itself. Fragrance + a grandmother who is a master of scent = super special scent that can change your life. Neat! Well…maybe not to so neat.

I think one of my main problems was that I didn’t really like the main character. Eva was just kind of lame. She was ok but I didn’t really root for her. She got herself into these messes and then seemed so blah. I didn’t care about her love life or her for that matter. I did like the young boy that kept hanging around her and wanted to help her. I would read his story.

The love was lame. It didn’t feel real or passionate. It just existed and you were expected to care about it but I didn’t care at all. Both her potential love interests are lame and not worth the time she was putting into them. She didn’t really know them and the way she met her first love interest was just weird. “Hey, I’m going to go clean out my dead grandmother’s house! *sees boy* What are you doing here?” “Studying….sorry….it’s just quiet in here. I liked you grandmother. Everyone did.” What the hell? Could she not have thought of something less weird that a med student studying in a dead ladies house?

The scent. I understand that she doesn’t know what is happening or how much to read into feelings of attraction towards her but she wanted to get caught up in a disaster because she gets herself in a big ol’ mess and then whines about it. C’mon Eva, you knew what was going to happen and you let it happen anyway.

It also pissed me off that she just let’s the artist use her. I know I said she wanted to get in those sticky situations but really. She just lets him get by being a flipping crazy person when really she should have kicked his ass and said leave me alone. I get it, the scent drove him crazy and he would do anything to get it. Even if it meant killing her to put her blood in his paint. Um…ew. I want that to be cool! It’s gross and interesting and I want to like that but my disdain towards the characters is preventing me from liking that.

I say if you’re really curious give it a whirl but you really could just as well skip this one. At least it’s only 240 pages? I rated this 3 stars on goodreads but would actually give it 2.5. It was creative and I thought it really felt like dark magic and the scent thing was cool. I also believed the atmosphere of New Orleans. This was written well and I would try another book by this author.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

So, if you haven’t heard yet (how’s life under that rock?), Neil Gaiman published a new book last month—‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’. Both of us, Zelda and Madeleine, loved the book.

Zelda: I have no negative things to say except it ended too soon. I read the inside flap description but that doesn’t do the book justice.

Madeleine: I usually read a lot about a book before it comes out—the official description, the blurbs, and maybe a few reviews. When Gaiman first announced the book, there was no description, just the beautiful cover. As the publication date approached, I liked not knowing what to expect, so I avoided all descriptions and reviews. It was a good choice—I went into it without preformed opinions and was blown away by the story.

Zelda: The only thing that could have made this better is if Neil Gaiman read it to me himself.

Madeleine: Neil Gaiman read a bit of it to me! Well, me and a couple hundred other people. I was very lucky to get to see him when he stopped for a reading in Minnesota. Here’s a blurry picture from my phone that proves how close I was (third row).

Madeleine: I almost felt bad going—he had been up until 3 AM the night before signing things. Here I am promoting author abuse by attending his readings. But he was very gracious about everything. The evening as a whole was wonderful. And, you know, I proceeded to contribute to author abuse by getting my copy signed.

Zelda: You mentioned the cover earlier. Let us discuss the cover for a moment. Gorgeous. Just stunning. I love the title, the font…everything.

Madeleine: Did you know? There’s a picture on the back of the book of a child standing on a drainpipe—that’s a real picture of our esteemed author. I’ve heard that the book is a bit autobiographical. I can definitely see the unnamed narrator as a young Neil—bookish, thoughtful and aware, and able to see the supernatural in everyday life.

Zelda: I’ll admit, I cried a little bit before I even really knew the characters. For such a short book I was surprised at how much I cared about the characters and for how well developed they were.

Madeleine: At the reading, Gaiman talked a bit about how the book came about. He usually chooses to write his books, and plans them out. ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ started out as a short story for his wife. He couldn’t tell where the story was going, but kept writing. He finished and looked at this word count and realized he had written a novel. I wonder if the characters and the story felt so real and organic, because they weren’t planned out, but came from some subconscious pool (or is it an ocean?) of story and myth.

Zelda: Gaiman has always impressed me but this was so creative and engaging that he brought himself to a whole new level. This was better than I thought it would be and I just want to tell everyone I see to read it. Maybe I am gushing too much and now someone will read this and then be disappointed, but I can’t help it.

Madeleine: I agree.  ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ may be my favorite book by Neil Gaiman yet. It’s a simple story, but it’s dark and beautiful and evocative.

Zelda: Just go read it. All I can say is you won’t regret it.

Mystic City

Well let me start off with saying I loved this. It didn’t feel like it was written by a guy for most of the book which is kind of cool. I found Aria pretty believable if not predictable. 

There were some things that did bother me. Her constant need to be saved and how naive she was. I know, I know. It is the norm but WHY? She did step up her game the last 1/4 of the book so that was neat. The other thing that bothered me was why are the villains so predictable all the time? I was only slightly surprised by one of the characters but the rest were so obvious.

Let’s talk about the romance. It was pretty awesome. I won’t lie, I enjoyed the Romeo and Juliet thing that was going on. This was fluffy and sort of exactly what I needed for a Sunday afternoon spent reading in bed.

I was a little miffed when I got to the end of the book and it says Renegade Heart Summer 2013. Yet the internet seems to be telling me this is not the case, try April of 2014! I am a little tired of series but this was really addicting! I didn’t want to stop reading until I had finished this.

Even though this is kind of a dystopian book it is way more urban fantasy/science fiction so I wouldn’t really compare it much to the Hunger Games. I think publishers are really trying to push that series way too much on other books of the genre when they only think they have in common is they are both considered dystopian.

I am also started to get annoyed with the main characters falling in love right away. You think he is hot? Awesome, he is. You love him? Not yet. I get where the author was going with it and the memories being erased and the insta feelings but c’mon. C’mon. Thankfully there wasn’t really a love triangle. There was a sort of love triangle but it makes sense versus her debating the whole book of “I love him!” “But I can’t hurt him!” “Oh but I really like both of them!” Blech. I am so over that.

Can we also just take a moment to look at that cover? I loved it. I like the font and the pretty background and the blues and the silvers mixing together. So lovely.

Ok so to wrap this up I will just say I am quite excited to read the next book. Hopefully it doesn’t disappoint. The jury is out on that one since most series have been a bit of a let down lately. 🙂