Tag: Magical Realism

Aug 10

The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin by Stephanie Knipper

Family, Flowers 4

Greetings Bookworms!

I’ve been a busy reading bee when I’m not out watering my flowers and getting bitten by mosquitoes. Seriously, the fact that I’m so delicious to bugs and also adore gardening is like a cruel, cruel joke. But, the fact that I’m such a flower nerd was a huge part of the reason I picked up my latest read, The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin by Stephanie Knipper. I actually heard about the book at BEA during speed dating, but there either weren’t copies there or not enough or something and I ended up procuring a digital copy through NetGalley. *Which means, of course, that I got the book at no cost from the publisher for review consideration. As per usual, I’ll give you my honest opinion because I’m really terrible at lying and even if publishers were to stop working with me tomorrow, I could still get free books from the library, so. I really have no motive to lie to y’all.*

antoinettemartinLily and Rose were as close as a pair of sisters could be growing up on a commercial flower farm in Kentucky (see? I heard the setting and I was sold. I’m so predictable.) They’ve been estranged for years, but as Rose’s health declines, she reaches out to reconnect with her sister. Rose’s 10 year old daughter Antoinette has special needs. Her diagnosis is murky, but it manifests through symptoms very similar to severe autism. She also has the ability to heal with her touch. You heard me. There’s some magical realism up in this piece. Or science fiction. I don’t know what to call it, but it’s definitely  a bit peculiar. The thing is, this gift of Antoinette’s comes at a price. The more Antoinette heals people, the more health consequences she faces herself. She’s begun to have dangerous seizures as a result of her gift, and Rose is desperate to find a way to keep her daughter safe.

The whole thing had a Sarah Addison Allen vibe, but with a little less quirk and a little more emotional gut punch.  It was a decent read, I just don’t think I was in the mood for something with quite so much emotional weight? I feel like a jerk for not being all effusive in my praise of it. Maybe I’m just a little too cynical for miracle stories, which DUH KATIE, “miracle” is in the title of the book. I probably wouldn’t have picked it up had it not been for the whole commercial flower farm thing, but I’m a sucker for flowers. So. Yeah. If you’re in the mood for a whole lot of feelings and a little big of magic, check The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin out!

Tell me something, Bookworms, do you find that your mood strongly influences your opinions on the books you happen to be reading?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*


May 11

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

Audio Books, Chick Lit, Supernatural 7

Hello Bookworms!

Remember that time when I gushed all over the internet about Scribd? Well, the very first book I decided to listen to with my new subscription was a Sarah Addison Allen. Anybody surprised? You shouldn’t be. My ears devoured The Sugar Queen.

thesugarqueenJosie Cirrini’s life is in a holding pattern. Though she’s 27, she’s never moved out of her childhood home and her social life revolves around chauffering her elderly mother to her various society engagements in their small North Carolina town. Josey is so firmly under her mother’s thumb that she takes solace in snacks and sweet treats she keeps hidden in her closet. Josey’s life looks like it’ll be over before it starts when one evening she finds the rather scandalous town barfly Della Lee Baker hiding out in her closet amongst her guilty pleasures. The arrival of Della Lee sets off a series of events that changes the way Josey views her life and her family’s legacy.

Of course, as a Sarah Addison Allen, there’s a bit of magic involved (in the most whimsical and charming ways, naturally.) I’ve always said that red is my cosmic color of power, but Josey’s claim on that statement might actually be legit. And Josey’s gal pal Chloe has the BEST power/affliction. Books literally find her when she needs them. Where can I sign up for that?!

I’ve mentioned before that I have a hard time reading books where overweight and/or obese people are described by authors in an unsympathetic tone. Sarah Addison Allen is very sympathetic to Josey, who is described as “plump,” but in exploring her addiction to food and comfort eating I found myself getting downright sad. It hit a nerve, I guess. I mean, I’ll probably never truly understand what drives someone to shoot heroin, but mainlining cookies? That is something I can relate to. Ooooh the feelings. Fans of Sarah Addison Allen, whimsy, and baked goods should definitely check out The Sugar Queen

Tell me something, Bookworms. Do you ever get an unexpected punch in the feels while reading? When was the last time it happened? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*


Oct 23

The Night Garden by Lisa Van Allen

Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy, Flowers, Romance 20

Greetings Bookworms!

The weather is changing and it’s making me miss my flowers already. I still have mums out, but it’s not the saaaaaaaame. Shortly after having to pull out my summer annuals, I was perusing NetGalley (a dangerous pastime under the best of circumstances) and ran across The Night Garden by Lisa Van Allen. I saw comparisons to Sarah Addison Allen and Alice Hoffman and simply could not help myself. *I received a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration. May I be stricken with a wicked case poison ivy if I lie in the following review.*

The Night Garden by Lisa Van AllenIs there anything better than an enchanted garden? Lisa Van Allen draws a gorgeous picture of pastoral upstate New York. Pennywort Farms boasts a lovely garden maze that seems to be imbued with magical properties that give visitors clarity on their problems. A little magical realism never hurt anyone! More likely to hurt someone is the beautiful and enigmatic Olivia Pennywort.

Olivia has SECRETS. Despite welcoming boarders into her farm as a matter of course, Olivia keeps everyone at arm’s distance. Her decision to remain aloof becomes more difficult when her childhood friend and adolescent flame Sam Van Winkle comes back to town. The two are (of course) drawn to each other, but there are some significant barriers (and histamines) standing in the way of their happy ending.

You guys, I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down, and I stayed up far too late to finish it. On a work night. Thank heaven for coffee, AMIGRIGHT? Magical realism can be very hit or miss for me, but the combination of love story, garden-y goodness, and mystical whimsy hit all the right notes. I particularly liked some of the weird science/magic fusion elements that went on. I don’t want to spoil it all for you, but if you’re at all interested, take a trip into The Night Garden!

Talk to me, Bookworms. The Night Garden spends a lot of time talking about the garden maze’s ability to provide visitors with clarity on their problems. What helps you work out your dilemmas? Asking for a friend…

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*



Jul 02

Intimidation: Top Ten Tuesday

Classics, Contemporary Fiction 100

Hi Ho Bookworms!

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is going to be great fun. Let’s face it- we’ve all got some books that we’re a little intimidated by. The ladies at The Broke and The Bookish, those clever vixens, have asked us to spill our guts… So? I’m spilling!

toptentuesday1. EVERYTHING by Hakuri Murakami. I tried reading 1Q84 once and I didn’t finish it. I feel like a boob for not trying again because all I ever hear is how ah-mazing Murakami is. Then again, I’m not really big on magical realism, so I’m nervous. I don’t want to finish a book by an author everyone loves and end up hating it.

2. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. Okay, I’ll be honest. This isn’t high on my TBR list, but it’s like the epitome of literature. You’ve got some serious street cred if you can say you have read War and Peace, you know?

3. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. I know! It’s been on my Shelf of Shame since FOREVER and yet? I’m still nervous to tackle it. It’s a big book and I’ve heard so many awesome things about it, I’m frightened to start it and fail.

montecristo4. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron. I’ve not read this but I keep hearing a lot of hype from other book bloggers. I trust their opinions but I’m afraid I won’t be cool enough to “get it!”

5. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. I’ve heard this described as the ultimate hipster novel, which makes me a little nervous. It’s one of those books that’s got enough cultural significance that I probably *should* read it, but it’s REALLY long and if I’m not going to love it, I don’t want to make the time investment.

6. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. I really want to love this one. It’s on every list of classics basically ever. I’ve heard all kinds of amazing things and I worry I won’t appreciate it properly.


7. Middlemarch by George Eliot. This is beginning to sound like a broken record. But this book is LONG. The only other George Eliot I’ve read is Silas Marner and while I liked it, it was teeny weeny. I’m not sure I could handle such a chunkster in that lovely yet difficult language.

8. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. This was mentioned prominently in The Thirteenth Tale (Fellowship of the Worms pick #1) along with Jane Eyre (which I ADORE.) Mentioning anything in the same breath as a favorite makes it tough to guard yourself against disappointment. Plus, again, classic.


9. Life of Pi by Yann Martel. I don’t have a ton of interest in this book. But PEER PRESSURE.  I feel like a banana head for not even trying it,  but… Magical realism… Again. Not my favorite. I just get confused and can’t figure out what’s really happening and what’s imaginary and… I don’t know. Plus, I think a tiger would eat a penguin. That makes me suspicious of tigers.

10. The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg. This book makes me a little uneasy. I’m VERY intimidated by it because it’s about a morbidly obese woman. I don’t know why, but I have a really hard time reading about obese people. I always feel like the language is unsympathetic, even when it intends to be. For whatever reason, it’s my Achilles heel. Some people can’t read about certain types of abuse, some can’t handle animal cruelty, others shy away from the Holocaust. Obesity is my kryptonite.

What about you, Bookworms? What books intimidate you? Do you plan on showing them who’s boss with some acid indigestion tablets?!