Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Published: October 10, 2017
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
Here is a thing everyone wants:
Here is a thing everyone fears:
What it takes to get one.
Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.
At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.
They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.
Another Christmas book! And with a beautiful cover!
I’ll admit that this book started very slowly for me. To be fair, I was about 4 hours into an 8-hour flight thru the night, but it was still slow. I was even considering DNF-ing it, but I decided to stick with it. I am glad I did, but I also don’t think I’ll ever read this book again. It was definitely more on the philosophical side, but very vague. I had to try to clamp down on my inner shallowness to make sure I understood everything. I still don’t think I got it all, but by the time I finished, I was satisfied with the story and took a lot of good things from it.
It picked up about halfway thru. I liked the characters, I liked Stiefvater’s writing style, the setting was excellent, the imagination was beautiful. I liked the message that everyone has darkness inside them, nobody is perfect. There was a selflessness that came thru from the Soria family that I really loved. And if everyone could be like Pete Wyatt, I think most of the problems of the world wouldn’t exist! Overall, I enjoyed this book, but I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. Definitely for the more advanced reader.
Author: Leslye Walton
Published: March 13, 2018
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4.5 stars
From the author of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender comes a haunting maelstrom of magic and murder in the lush, moody Pacific Northwest.
When Rona Blackburn landed on Anathema Island more than a century ago, her otherworldly skills might have benefited friendlier neighbors. Guilt and fear instead led the island’s original eight settlers to burn “the witch” out of her home. So Rona cursed them. Fast-forward one hundred–some years: All Nor Blackburn wants is to live an unremarkable teenage life. She has reason to hope: First, her supernatural powers, if they can be called that, are unexceptional. Second, her love life is nonexistent, which means she might escape the other perverse side effect of the matriarch’s backfiring curse, too. But then a mysterious book comes out, promising to cast any spell for the right price. Nor senses a storm coming and is pretty sure she’ll be smack in the eye of it.
In her second novel, Leslye Walton spins a dark, mesmerizing tale of a girl stumbling along the path toward self-acceptance and first love, even as the Price Guide’s malevolent author — Nor’s own mother — looms and threatens to strangle any hope for happiness.
I read The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender several years ago and I really enjoyed it! Plus, the cover is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen! So when I saw The Price Guide to the Occult, the cover jumped out at me and I had to get it. I actually liked it better than I did Ava Lavender! Price Guide was actually far more story-centric than Ava Lavender was.
I wanted so badly to find out what was going on that I barely put this book down. The history of the Blackburn family fascinated me. My inner historian (that’s actually not so inner and incredibly easy to arouse) jumped up and started begging to learn more.
Nor was a likeable character, considering that she’s a teenager who so desperately fights to be differing from what she is. I found myself feeling for her and rooting for her throughout the book. After finding out how horrible her mother is, I felt for her even more. Nor’s grandmother, Judd, may be gruff and bristly, but she really cares for Nor and she became one of my favorite characters. I loved the setting that Walton created and she was able to conjure fantastical elements that still sounded believable.
The fern tattoos were creepy, yet beautiful and I even started considering getting a fern tattoo up my arm . . . ink is addicting, don’t judge me! Overall, this story was interesting and unique and I like how I felt I had never read it before. I think this book is suited perfectly for older teens and honestly, it’s a great one to give to both teens who love to read and to those who don’t like reading. I think this would be a great book to help get them into reading.
If you watched Kim’s monthly video summary yesterday you saw her struggle to remember a book she once reviewed on Bookies. The book was The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton. Kim reviewed this in May of 2016 which was long before Jessica’s Reading Room was even a thought. This would be Kim’s first review and we thought we would share this with you guys today. There is no star rating for this one as this was before Kim was reviewing; but it sounds like a 5 star review to me….
Author: Leslye Walton
Published: March 25, 2014
Reviewed By: Kim
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 naive 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 have a thing for birds. My favorite poem is Emily Dickenson’s “Hope is the thing with feathers.” I plan on decorating my library with birds and feathers, everywhere! So when I saw The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton, I knew that I had to read it!! And I have to begin this review by talking about the cover:
I bought this book and was so excited to read it and when I sat down to begin, I just couldn’t. Not until I took in the absolutely stunning cover!! Look I love nice looking books as much as the next person! I love getting hardbacks simply because they look beautiful on the shelf. But dude!! This cover? This cover resonated with me in ways that I have a hard time describing!! I spent 10 minutes just caressing it! I couldn’t open it because then there would be a crease! The colors, the sparkles, the feel under my fingers!! I had a nerdgasm just sitting there, without even opening it!
Ok, so I was super excited to read The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, I geeked out over the cover, and then I opened it and started reading. She was born Ava Wilhemina Lavender. Holy Crap. Have you ever heard such an amazing name??? I immediately sent a text to my husband to let him know that our first daughter would be named Ava Wihemina Lavender Friant. I was hooked and in love! Emilienne Adou Solange Roux, Beauregard Roux, Margaux, Pierette, Connor Lavender, Widow Marigold Pie, Viviane Lavender . . . another nerdgasm! I’m not sure what world these people live in, but I’d like to live there, permanently!
And get this, Miss Ava Wilhemina Lavender was born with wings. Wings! Feathered, “slight physical abnormality,” speckled wings! Leslye was writing for me! So I kept reading. And reading. And reading some more! I was launched into a family filled with the lovely sorrows that you find in Shakespeare plays! They were too beautiful to even be called sorrows! I was suddenly aware of how permanent regret can be when life takes you in different directions. Lost loves, broken hearts, broken wings, manipulation, exploitation . . . it all takes place in the small world of the Roux/Lavender family.
If I could give you more of the story without giving away details that should only be read by one for the first time, then I would! I can just tell you that it’s a wonderful read! It’s not an action packed book, it’s not a thriller. It’s a beautiful record of sadness, of regret, of redemption, and of learning to let go and fly!