Book Review: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

Book Review: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye WaltonThe Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
Published by Candlewick Press on March 27th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Lyrical, Magical Realism
Pages: 301
Goodreads
five-stars

Magical realism, lyrical prose, and the pain and passion of human love haunt this hypnotic generational saga.
Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird.
In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration.
That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo.
First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.

I came upon this book quite by accident, or maybe it found its way to me. I was visiting my local bookstore and there it was just waiting for me. Shiny and gorgeous (I mean just look at that cover…what a glorious beauty!) it sat on that bookshelf summoning me like a moth to a flame. I walked with it cradled in my arms as I explored the bookstore (it was my first time there, and definitely not my last, though they really should have a cafe). I wanted to refrain myself from buying it right there and then because I was on a book budget and had recently just arrived home a few months before from Book Expo America with a suitcase filled with new books to read and review, but I could not stay away from it for long. It beckoned to me as if it were a siren’s song and I just HAD to read it.

This book is exquisitely written, and it broke my heart into a million pieces. I finished it months ago, but could not write a review for it because I did not have and still don’t quite have all the words and ways I want to express my love for this story, especially for Ava.

Walton writes a story soaked with emotion and atmosphere. As you read it you “feel” with every inch of your being what the characters are going through and this allows you to connect with even the most minor of them.  It’s a story about the history of a family that spans generations, it’s about new love, old love, tragic love. It’s a story about the scars left by love. It’s a quirky and very odd story, and it definitely is quite strange through most of it.

It’s not all unhappiness and gloom either, I promise!

Many might not think it’s a story that has hope, but I believe that hope is there, but first you must heal the wounds left by love before you can move forward.

It is an exceptional and memorable book that lingers within you even after you have long finished reading it. From the moment I opened and read the first few lines I was completely enthralled with it and I haven’t yet quite let it go from my mind.

“To many, I was myth incarnate, the embodiment of a most superb legend, a fairy tale. Some considered me a monster, a mutation. To my great misfortune, I was once mistaken for an angel. To my mother, I was everything. To my father, nothing at all. To my grandmother, I was a daily reminder of loves long lost. But I knew the truth — deep down, I always did. I was just a girl.”

I don’t want to say much more about it. I think this is the kind of story you should jump into without knowing too much and explore its beauty. It should be experienced in the “raw” and felt in the deepest of ways possible.

**This review was originally posted on Reading In The Tardis**

five-stars

Book Review: Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Book Review: Anansi Boys by Neil GaimanAnansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
Published by William Morrow on September 20th 2005
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Mythology
Pages: 336
Goodreads
four-stars

One of fiction's most audaciously original talents, Neil Gaiman now gives us a mythology for a modern age -- complete with dark prophecy, family dysfunction, mystical deceptions, and killer birds. Not to mention a lime.
Anansi BoysGod is dead. Meet the kids.
When Fat Charlie's dad named something, it stuck. Like calling Fat Charlie "Fat Charlie." Even now, twenty years later, Charlie Nancy can't shake that name, one of the many embarrassing "gifts" his father bestowed -- before he dropped dead on a karaoke stage and ruined Fat Charlie's life.
Mr. Nancy left Fat Charlie things. Things like the tall, good-looking stranger who appears on Charlie's doorstep, who appears to be the brother he never knew. A brother as different from Charlie as night is from day, a brother who's going to show Charlie how to lighten up and have a little fun ... just like Dear Old Dad. And all of a sudden, life starts getting very interesting for Fat Charlie.
Because, you see, Charlie's dad wasn't just any dad. He was Anansi, a trickster god, the spider-god. Anansi is the spirit of rebellion, able to overturn the social order, create wealth out of thin air, and baffle the devil. Some said he could cheat even Death himself.
Returning to the territory he so brilliantly explored in his masterful New York Times bestseller, American Gods, the incomparable Neil Gaiman offers up a work of dazzling ingenuity, a kaleidoscopic journey deep into myth that is at once startling, terrifying, exhilarating, and fiercely funny -- a true wonder of a novel that confirms Stephen King's glowing assessment of the author as "a treasure-house of story, and we are lucky to have him."

Hi everyone! Marci here…and as many of you may or may not know I am a HUGE Neil Gaiman fan. I’ve pretty much read all of his more well-known novels, as well as some of his more obscure works. I plan on doing a whole series based on some of my favorite Gaiman books when I start re-reading them a little down the road. For some reason, I never read Anansi Boys until very recently. I owned the book, and actually tried starting it a few times, but just never quite settled into the story (usually because I was either reading another of Neil’s books on the side or re-reading one of his short stories…which are absolutely fantastic by the way).  When searching for a book to download to listen on my way into work and back home again I decided to try the audiobook version of Anansi Boys. I love that Neil Gaiman usually reads his own audio books. First because he is the author and knows how the tone and voice of the character should “sound” and be like, but also because he has an amazing voice (::sigh:: be still my heart). I am however glad that the reader for the Anansi Boys audio book was Lenny Henry who is a Brit of Caribbean descent, and his voice really made the characters come to life.

Anansi boys is about Fat Charlie Nancy, whose father turns out to be  a god, and who has a brother named Spider he has never met. Charlie’s life begins to turn upside down when his father dies suddenly while singing at a karaoke bar and he has to go back home for his funeral. The story goes into how he gets reunited with his brother and the chaos that ensues from being investigated for fraud, as well as going to ” the beginning of the world” to save his family. There are also some interesting little side stories with some of the minor characters in the book too. You get a good insight into African folklore gods, and an analysis of how stories are told and get passed on. The book is actually quite a fast “listen” and there are moments where it is very funny indeed.

I would recommend this book to those that have read American Gods (as it deals with gods and goddesses). I also recommend that you read other of Mr. Gaiman’s books before coming over to this one. It is not a typical Gaiman story, at least not fully, but you can sense him in it if you already know what a Gaiman story should “feel” like. I know some readers that did not like the book because it wasn’t “Gaiman-esque” enough for them, and some love it because it’s slightly different from what you have seen from Gaiman before. I’ll let you be the judge. As for myself, I really enjoyed it. I was taken to new places, learned new things and had quite a few good laughs throughout the book.

**This review was originally posted on Reading In The Tardis**

four-stars

Book Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Book Review: The Maze Runner by James DashnerThe Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1) by James Dashner
Published by Delacorte Press on October 6th 2009
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Goodreads
one-star

If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.
Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.
Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.
Everything is going to change.
Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.
Remember. Survive. Run.

I had heard about this book a while ago, and since it’s now becoming a movie I figured I would read it and go then go watch the movie (I usually do this with all movies that are based on books). I must say that in the case of The Maze Runner, I do believe that the movie might actually be much better than the book, and I haven’t even seen the movie yet. I really did not like this book. It was drawn out, and such a chore to read. Nothing really happens until you are 150 pages deep, I am amazed I kept going that far, but I really hate giving up a book in the middle of it. I know there are lots of people who are big fans of this series, but I can guarantee you I will not be reading any other books in the series.

The main idea of the book is that these kids get sent to a place called “the Glade” where they live while trying to discover a way out through a maze filled with horrible creature called “grievers”. The grievers are slimy, squishy robotic type slugs with spikes that come out of their bodies and metal arms with sharp pincers, saw-like cutters etc. Every month they are delivered a box with supplies, food, and also one more “addition” to their family of “recruit”. To make matters worse, these kids have no memories. For two years (yes TWO years) they continuously search for a way out of this maze (with moving walls…ohh so exciting…NOT!) and they have yet to find a way out. Things start to change after the arrival of Thomas and Teresa.

The characters have no personality, and with the exception of little Chuck (one of the youngest kids in the Glade..probably like 12 or 13), I really didn’t care if they lived or died. I was unable to find any relate-ability to the main character Thomas, and probably only liked Chuck because he was a sweet kid that reminded me of my little brother. All the characters are male, except for the last “delivered” one, who is a girl named Teresa. Of course, the only way she is referred to throughout her time there is as being pretty or “hot” and not much else, besides bringing them a message from the “Creators” that “Everything is going to change”, how super original.

The book is filled with the most annoying made-up slang words like “shuckface” which just made it even more of a hassle to read. Overall what could have been an interesting concept, turned out to be boring, flat and simply put “meh”

This book has been recommended to other readers if they liked The Hunger Games, but this is a far cry from that. While reading The Hunger Games I laughed, and cried and cried some more. Here I just felt like my reading time had been a waste.

**This review was originally posted on Reading In The Tardis**

one-star

A Very Special Announcement: Wedding Bells and Celebrations…

Dear Readers,

 I wanted to address the very important and special reason why I have been MIA for the last couple of weeks. I have been in the process of planning my wedding for the last 9 months and  on September 7th, 2014 (a beautiful sunny day) I was married to my other half  in a cozy little church in Lincoln, MA and proceeded to our reception at the gorgeous Victorian country manor in Stow, MA. My husband and I went on our honeymoon, and though we are now back, we still have family visiting from far and wide, so we had to take a little time to spend with them too. The last month before my wedding was just a whirlwind of activities and last minute prepping, so it was hard to be completely devoted to reading and posting reviews.

I’m BACK now, and I  have lots of reviews to catch up on, lots of reading to do and loads of new books to discuss.  Thank you for your continual support and love, and please share my site with your friends and other bookish folks that might enjoy it.

Here is a special little treat for you all:

My wedding cake topper…(Yes, I  do love the bunnies).

m

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I’d Recommend To Readers Who Have Never Read Fantasy

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish.

I am a very big fan of fantasy, and my bookshelves are a testiment to that fact. Below I am sharing a list of my Top Ten Favorite Fantasy Books that I would recommend to readers that are new to the genre of fantasy. I hope you will enjoy them. I would love to know if you try any of my recommendations or if there are any others you would recommend to me.

 The Night Circus

1. The Night Circus- Erin Morgenstern

I LOVE this book. I have read it at least 10 times (probably more) since it came out. A mysterious circus that only opens at night, with no color but black, white and shades of grey. A battle between two magicians, a love story in the making,  red headed twins, beautiful imagery, and delicious descriptions that lift the scents of the circus right off the page…and so much more. You will not want it to end, and you will return to it often after you finish it. Absolutely Charming!

Now

2. The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicles Book 1)- Patrick Rothfuss

My best friend (Vania..who runs this blog with me) basically took this book off the shelf and literally opened it and placed it in my hands and told me to start reading it, while at a bookstore for another book event. That’s how much she loved this story…and am I glad she did. I fell head over heads for this story. You can’t help but love the hero and his trust sidekicks…and absolutely loathe the villians. There are demons, and sword fights, magic spells and even the fae. You will not want to put this book down. You will be engorged and if you are wise, you will read it slowly…as it is part of three…and the third is not yet written. Which leads us to book 2 and number 3 on our list….

wmf

3. The Wise Man’s Fear- (The Kingkiller Chronicles Book 2) Patrick Rothfuss

Here we continue with the adventures of hero…it starts like this

My name is Kvothe.
I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trehon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.
You may have heard of me….

If just those few sentences don’t grab at you and fill you with curiosity, I have no idea what will.

nw

4. Neverwhere- Neil Gaiman

This is a very odd, and curious book. About a girl named Door who lives in the secret hidden world under London. She is running for her life, when she stumbles right into the arms of our hero Richard and completely turns his world upside down. This is a book about “a city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.” Neil Gaiman never ceases to amaze me at how much of a brilliant story teller he is and this is one of his best works. Filled with quirkiness, and a side of twisted-ness…a truly Gaiman masterwork.

hps

5. Harry Potter Series- JK Rowling

One of the most beloved book series of all time! No amount of words can ever describe how glorious this whole series is. It’s simply magical and you will just have to dive in and fall in love with it yourself. It’s not just for little kids, it will surprise you and enthrall you.

grim

6. Grimms’ FairyTales- The Brothers Grimm

I love a good fairy tale and these boys have them, but they aren’t all sugar and spice. These tales are pretty dark and some even a bit twisted, but if you are like me and not turned off by a little blood or violence. The real version of these stories are not sugar coated like the Disney ones, but they are a much better read.

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7. The Princess Bride- (S. Morgenstern) reconstructed by William Goldman

Loved this book from the moment I read the title, and I was not disappointed with the story I found inside.  ” Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex.” So if that list of things that occur within these pages appeal to you, you will enjoy this book very much. 

got

8. Game of Thrones Series (7 book series)- George R.R. Martin

They are long, and a bit confusing, and some even find it to be too violent, too brash, and far too much swearing. However, if you are looking for a historical fantasy saga that probably will never end because the author has yet to finish the last remaining 2 books…this might be for you. You have people fighting to be rulers of the 7 kingdoms, many sword fights, be-headings, incest, revenge, poison, betrayal, shadow creatures, and ice monsters, plenty of bloodshed, torture, and sex. These books are brutal and you will probably throw them at some point out your window, against a wall or just yell at it various times as you read it. The story and characters will keep you going….even if it hurts too much.

lil

9. Lilith- George MacDonald

This book is weird. It has religious undertones and sort of goes into the Jewish myth about Adam’s first wife “Lilith” as well as Eve (Adam’s second wife). DON’T let that stop you from reading it. If you take it just as a story, (especially if you are not religious) it will be like reading any other myth or fairy tale. It is very interesting, and makes you question the world around you. It’s very philosophical to a certain point. If you like to “read between the lines” and “see” more deeply into secret meanings and symbols you will enjoy this one. Just keep an open mind…

ivp

10. Interview with the Vampire- Anne Rice

I could not compile a list about fantasy and not have my favorite vampire novel on it. I think Anne’s vampires are the epitome of the “romanticized undead” and I love them. Beautiful, deadly, witty, charming, and immortal. Anne’s lovely descriptive writing lures you deep into the story, and before you even get to the middle of the book you too will be begging for Lestat to make you one of them, no matter the price.

Did any of your favorites make the list? Are you going to read of of the ones I mentioned? I would love to hear your feedback!