Tag: magical realism

Book Review: If You Could See The Sun by Ann Liang

If You Could See The Sun
Author: Ann Liang

Published: October 11, 2022
341 pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read:  November 5- December 3, 2023
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Alice Sun has always felt invisible at her elite Beijing international boarding school, where she’s the only scholarship student among China’s most rich and influential teens. But then she starts uncontrollably turning invisible—actually invisible.
 
When her parents drop the news that they can no longer afford her tuition, even with the scholarship, Alice hatches a plan to monetize her strange new power—she’ll discover the scandalous secrets her classmates want to know, for a price.
 
But as the tasks escalate from petty scandals to actual crimes, Alice must decide if it’s worth losing her conscience—or even her life.

In this genre-bending YA debut, a Chinese American girl monetizes her strange new invisibility powers by discovering and selling her wealthy classmates’ most scandalous secrets.

Jessica’s Review:

 If You Could See The Sun took me way too long to read, but it’s not the book’s fault: In fact after reading it I wish I had been able to read it quicker. I enjoyed this one and it was a fun read that actually had some unexpected action to it! 

We have a book that deals with the differences in class which is a much bigger deal in China where the book is taking place.  We have Alice who is going to school on a scholarship (with continuing to rise prices) but soon her scholarship might not cover the cost of school! Suddenly she develops a ‘power’ to become invisible!  Alice decides to monetize her new ability by creating an app.  She also ends up working with her crush who is also her highest academic rival. Not being able to control her ‘ability’ does limit what she can do, but the jobs she finds herself doing go from nothing too serious to actual crimes, yes crimes! Alice gets more than she bargained for with the app and her ability. She finds out more than just classmates secrets.  It was refreshing in this time of ‘superhero movies’ that the regular Alice didn’t try to help others, but help herself to be able to stay in school.  Not everyone wants to be a superhero!  That just seems like something most people would do: How can I help myself first of all!  Alice is just a real girl: She’s sarcastic, smart, knows what she wants but also clueless at the same time.  In fact: a regular teenage girl! 

Despite there being an invisibility aspect to the book and not getting any answers in regards to it, the book just seemed realistic.  Teens being teens and the consequences of what they do. 

This is refreshing book! If you are looking for a romance angle, don’t be as it is an extremely slow burn. For a debut novel, this book has so many strengths, I am excited to see where Liang goes next!

Many thanks to the publisher Inkyard Press for sending me a copy to review via Bookish First. I hate that it took me so long to actually read it.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Audiobook Review: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

The House in the Cerulean Sea
Author: TJ Klune
Narrator: Daniel Henning
Published: March 16, 2020
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read:  August 6-13, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars     

Book Description:

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.

Jessica’s Review:

The House in the Cerulean Sea is one that people have been talking about and one several people selected to read in June for Diverseathon.  Two of my friends whose opinions I respect (Yami and Beccie) both read it and loved it so I decided to request the audiobook from my Libby app. It took two months for me to be able to get it, and I loved it as well! 

From the book description this book did not interest me.  But I decided to give it a try and I am glad I did listen to Beccie and Yami!  We have Linus who is a stickler for the rules and he has also worked at his government job as a case worker in the same position for many years (This sounds so familiar!!! ) He is summoned by those at the top of DICOMY (The Department in Charge Of Magical Youth) who are known as Extremely Upper Management (OMG! That is such a government title!) Linus is given a new assignment: He is to spend a month at the Marsyas Island Orphanage, where there are just 6 children, but these are not just any magical children as they are ‘extra special’. One of the children is even the Anti-Christ…..

Cerulean Sea is just so much fun!  You get attached to these children right away. My favorite child is Chauncey then followed very closely by Lucy. Everything is covered in this book, it is heart warming with some mystery in it with fabulous characters. Even Linus as our main character who is just an average nobody, he grows on you as he changes throughout the novel.  This novel is about belonging, family of a different sort, and not hating or fearing what you don’t understand.

I listened to the audiobook version and highly recommend it.  Narrated by Daniel Henning and he played each child with a distinct voice.  His portrayal of Linus sounded similar to Ryan Reynolds, so I pictured a very serious Ryan Reynolds with glasses and slicked back hair as I listened.  And I loved my picturing of Ryan Reynolds as Linus!  (Hint Hint Hollywood: Give Ryan Reynolds this role when it becomes a film/series!)

This is a novel that everyone should read and love and maybe even learn something too!

A home isn’t always the house we live in. It’s also the people we choose to surround ourselves with.”

The House in the Cerulean Sea is highly recommended.

Purchase Links
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Book Review: All the Impossible Things by Lindsay Lackey

All the Impossible Things
Author: Lindsay Lackey

Published:  September 3, 2019
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: June 14-17, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 3 stars

Book Description: 

A middle-grade novel about a young girl navigating the foster care system in search of where she belongs.

Red’s inexplicable power over the wind comes from her mother. Whenever Ruby “Red” Byrd is scared or angry, the wind picks up. And being placed in foster care, moving from family to family, tends to keep her skies stormy. Red knows she has to learn to control it, but can’t figure out how.

This time, the wind blows Red into the home of the Grooves, a quirky couple who run a petting zoo, complete with a dancing donkey and a giant tortoise. With their own curious gifts, Celine and Jackson Groove seem to fit like a puzzle piece into Red’s heart.

But just when Red starts to settle into her new life, a fresh storm rolls in, one she knows all too well: her mother. For so long, Red has longed to have her mom back in her life, and she’s quickly swept up in the vortex of her mother’s chaos. Now Red must discover the possible in the impossible if she wants to overcome her own tornadoes and find the family she needs.

Jessica’s Review:

All the Impossible Things just did not work for me. I did not connect with Red, so that was that for me.  And I am not a fantasy reader, so I think the magical ability just didn’t work for me. I did know about Red’s ability before reading, and had a couple of friends who read this novel and loved it so I gave it a shot despite knowing it might not be for me. 

Red is in foster care and goes from home to home.  She is just waiting for her mother to be released from prison so she can be reunited with her: she even has a countdown. Red is moved to another foster family who run a petting zoo, which provides a different sort of environment and adventures all on their own.   

The ending is a bit realistic and I enjoyed it.  Red finally found where she needed to be. 

It may be that the audiobook is not the best format for this novel as one of my friends said she tried the audio and stopped it and ended up reading it and enjoyed it. Maybe this will be a book I give another chance to and pick up and actually read it. Maybe then I will love it. It is a pity as the cover is gorgeous!

**A few days after I wrote this review previously mentioned friend (Beccie) mailed me a copy of this book! She was the one who tried the audiobook and DNF’d is that way, but picked up a physical copy and loved it.  Hopefully I will have the same reaction to it with another read!**

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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