My Kyrosmagica Review of Lola and The Boy Next Door – Stephanie Perkins

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Lola Nolan is a budding costume designer, and for her, the more outrageous, sparkly, and fun the outfit, the better. And everything is pretty perfect in her life (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood. When Cricket, a gifted inventor, steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

My review:

An enchanting book. Stephanie Perkins creates wonderfully captivating characters. This book surprised me, I didn’t expect to enjoy it more than Anna and The French Kiss but I did. For all those teenage girls out there obsessed with fashion, and romance, this is the book for you. (My youngest daughter, would adore, ADORE, this book!)

Lola intends to go to her high school winter ball dressed as Marie Antoinette. Lola’s parents, two gay guys, Nathan, and Andy, worry about Lola going out with Max, her rocker boyfriend as he is so much older than her. Nathan and Andy’s devotion to Lola is touching. With the arrival of the Bell twins, Calliope, and Cricket, Lola’s old feelings for Cricket, her first love, are rekindled.

Lola is confused, by the arrival of Cricket, her emotions, seem to be as out of control as her over the top dress sense. Will she come to her senses? Will she discover the Lola within?

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****BEWARE SPOILERS BELOW****

Cricket is so genuine and cute that Lola can’t stop herself falling for him all over again. Lola’s feelings for Max crumble and her confusion is relatable. It is a shock when she realises that Max is attracted to her child-like self. Lola is no longer willing to be a child. She is now a young woman, on the verge of discovering her identity. Will she go to the ball? She looks at herself in the mirror, and suddenly feels lost in her elaborate costume. Her wig is over the top, dwarfing her personality. Who is Lola? She despairs. Cricket comes to her rescue in the most wonderful way. He enables the Lola that he loves to go to the ball, and then proves that he is “the one,” by re-inventing her, and giving her the most beautiful gift that anyone could possibly imagine.

My rating:

4 stars

Find out more about Stephanie Perkins at http://stephanieperkins.com/books.html

Have you read Lola and The Boy Next Door? Do comment below I’d love to hear from you.

Bye for now,

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Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

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My review of Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Orphaned at birth, Eliza Sommers is raised in the British colony of Valparaíso, Chile, by the well-intentioned Victorian spinster Miss Rose and her more rigid brother Jeremy. Just as she meets and falls in love with the wildly inappropriate Joaquín Andieta, a lowly clerk who works for Jeremy, gold is discovered in the hills of northern California. By 1849, Chileans of every stripe have fallen prey to feverish dreams of wealth. Joaquín takes off for San Francisco to seek his fortune, and Eliza, pregnant with his child, decides to follow him.

As we follow her spirited heroine on a perilous journey north in the hold of a ship to the rough-and-tumble world of San Francisco and northern California, we enter a world whose newly arrived inhabitants are driven mad by gold fever. A society of single men and prostitutes among whom Eliza moves–with the help of her good friend and savior, the Chinese doctor Tao Chien–California opens the door to a new life of freedom and independence for the young Chilean. Her search for the elusive Joaquín gradually turns into another kind of journey that transforms her over time, and what began as a search for love ends up as the conquest of personal freedom.

My Thoughts

At first I was a little unsure whether I would enjoy this book as it is not the usual genre that I read, but all my doubts were quickly swept away by Isabel Allende’s wonderful storytelling.

It is set in the British colony of Valpraiso, in 1840’s Chile and begins in a humorous way by telling us Eliza Sommers two talents: a sense of smell and a good memory. By the end of the book I discovered that Eliza’s character had grown so much that these two meager talents have increased tenfold.

If I have any criticisms of the novel they are few and far between. There were possibly times when I thought that some of the descriptions were slightly long but overall I didn’t find that this bothered me.

Overall I really enjoyed the book, I think in part due to the diverse characters, the cultural references and the skill of Allende’s writing.

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*****BEWARE SOME SPOILERS BELOW*****

Eliza is an orphan who was found on the doorstep, raised by Miss Rose, a Victorian spinster with a hidden past, her starchy brother Jeremy, and an Indian servant, Mama Fresia.  Much to the family’s dismay she falls in love with Joaquín Andieta, an unsuitable young man from a poor family, with political ideals that are at odds with the state. Eliza without a thought to consequence, gives herself to this young man, drugging the household, so they will not hear their passionate lovemaking. She is disconsolate when she finds that he intends to go to California to make his fortune in gold. She can do nothing to stop him. He, like so many others is obsessed by the vision of gold, and wealth. Her lover takes off for San Francisco leaving her behind broken hearted. Eliza discovers that she is pregnant with his child, and decides that she has no other alternative left but to follow him.

Eliza hides in the hold of a ship bound for California. She becomes ill and is attended to by Tao, a Chinese doctor.  Tao began his sailor’s life after being shanghaied. He had been drinking to forget his sorrow at the sad death of his young, beautiful wife Lin. On board ship his wife’s delicate ghost comes to him when he is administering to Eliza and berates him for not doing his utmost to save her. He is so distressed by this ghostly vision of his wife that he does everything in his power to help Eliza. Eliza has a miscarriage but survives and escapes from the ship dressed in male clothing. She continues to pretend that she is male to blend in and safeguard her safety. In this land driven crazy by gold fever, single men and prostitutes make up the population. She has no wish to become a prostitute so she chooses to adopt a masculine persona.  In this new world she finds freedom from the restraints of her life as a woman living in a British household in Chile.

Daughter of Fortune has several strengths, Isabel Allende’s characterisation is excellent, I particularly enjoyed her portrayal of several female characters:  Miss Rose, even though she is constrained by female niceties knows how to get what she wants. Paulina manipulates her husband to get her own bank account and eventually buys a steam ship and becomes a wealthy business woman. Though Tao’s wife Lin is described as being weak her ghost manages to find him across the vast expanse of ocean and convinces him to help Eliza.

I also really enjoyed how Allende played with her characters: the intimidating giant Babula the Bad is really a good guy, with a soft side.  In Eliza’s case this transformation is even more marked, as if she is rediscovering herself in stages as the adventure unfolds. She pretends to be a deaf-mute Chinese boy and then the brother of her Chilean lover, and finally she rediscovers her female identity, but this female is no longer chained by layers of corsetry but free to be herself.

Also Tao’s character transforms from his humble start as fourth son to respected Chinese doctor. He learns that his delicate young wife with golden lilies for feet only brings him a fleeting happiness, cut short by her early death, whereas Eliza with her big feet and sturdy body will give him many years of companionship and love.

DISCLAIMER: “As of 13th September 2017 we are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.”  

My opinions are my own and any reviews on this site have not been swayed or altered in any way by monetary compensation, or by the offer of a free book in exchange for a review. 

Buying Link:

Kindle Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2jE5IdT

Paperback Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2f5PDsA

Audio CD Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2y8MIH2

 

My rating:

*4.5 stars*

Bye for now.

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Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

There are passages in the novel that are gut wrenchingly sad, but there is also a sense that life is a journey of discovery, with many possibilities open to us.

Find out more about the author at http://isabelallende.com

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My Kyrosmagica Review of Harvest by Jim Crace

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Goodreads Synopsis of Harvest:

On the morning after harvest, the inhabitants of a remote English village awaken looking forward to a hard-earned day of rest and feasting at their landowner’s table. But the sky is marred by two conspicuous columns of smoke, replacing pleasurable anticipation with alarm and suspicion.

One smoke column is the result of an overnight fire that has damaged the master’s outbuildings. The second column rises from the wooded edge of the village, sent up by newcomers to announce their presence. In the minds of the wary villagers a mere coincidence of events appears to be unlikely, with violent confrontation looming as the unavoidable outcome. Meanwhile, another newcomer has recently been spotted taking careful notes and making drawings of the land. It is his presence more than any other that will threaten the village’s entire way of life.

In effortless and tender prose, Jim Crace details the unravelling of a pastoral idyll in the wake of economic progress. His tale is timeless and unsettling, framed by a beautifully evoked world that will linger in your memory long after you finish reading.

Here’s an Extract from ‘To Penshurst’ by Ben Jonson that brings to mind the pastural idyll, before the enclosure act was enforced:

Thy copse too, named of Gamage, thou hast there,
That never fails to serve thee seasoned deer,
When thou wouldst feast or exercise thy friends.
The lower land, that to the river bends,
Thy sheep, thy bullocks, kine, and calves do feed;
The middle grounds thy mares and horses breed.
Each bank doth yield thee conies; and the tops
Fertile of wood, Ashore and Sidney’s copse,
To crown thy open table, doth provide
The purpled pheasant, with the speckled side:
The painted partridge lies in ev’ry field,
And for thy mess is willing to be killed
And if the high-swollen Medway fail thy dish
Thou hast thy ponds, that pay thee tribute fish,
Fat aged carps that run into thy net,
And pikes, now weary their own kind to eat,
As loth the second draught or cast to stay,
Officiously at first themselves betray.
Bright eels that emulate them, and leap on land,
Before the fisher, or into his hand.
Then hath thy orchard fruit, thy garden flowers,
Fresh as the air, and new as are the hours.
The early cherry, with the later plum,
Fig, grape, and quince, each in his time doth come:
The blushing apricot, and woolly peach
Hang on thy walls, that every child may reach.
And though thy walls be of the country stone,
They’re reared with no man’s ruin, no man’s groan;
There’s none, that dwell about them, wish them down;
But all come in, the farmer and the clown;
And no one empty-handed, to salute
Thy lord and lady, though they have no suit.
Some bring a capon, some a rural cake,
Some nuts, some apples; some that think they make
The better cheeses bring them, or else send
By their ripe daughters, whom they would commend
This way to husbands, and whose baskets bear
An emblem of themselves in plum or pear.
But what can this (more than express their love)
Add to thy free provisions, far above
The need of such? […]

(Text reproduced from ‘To Penshurst’ by Ben Jonson, 1616)

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This is a book which perhaps I wouldn’t have chosen to read, so I have to thank the book group that I belong to, for widening my appreciation and taste in books! I have to admit that I found the opening chapters a slow and heavy slog, almost like I myself was a member of this village community where the pace of life is dictated by the unrelenting demands of the harvest. I am glad that I persevered as without doubt this is a wonderfully evocative novel. Crace’s often poetic writing carries you along, every word, sentence and metaphor seems to be perfectly sculpted. His descriptive prose is without doubt his forte. I struggled to rate this novel, but in the end I decided to give it 4 stars, as I found the characters, while good, played second fiddle to the prose.

Crace evokes a long-lost village during the time period of the enclosure act somewhere between 1750 and 1860. He creates a sense of belonging, of families with long allegiances, and a deep-rooted suspicion of newcomers, and change. When the master’s dovecotes are burnt down, it is evident who the perpetrators are, yet it is a family of outsiders who are blamed. The main character in the novel, the narrator, Walter Thirsk, realises that the newcomers are innocent, but the community doesn’t want to blame their own, they’re are happy to accept these unwelcome outsiders as a scapegoat. From this duplicity, this harsh and unfair behaviour, a disastrous chain of events follow with terrible consequences for all of the community. This is a moral tale, a tale of the economic power of landowners over their subordinates, a tale in which change is coming, unwelcome change, that will strike at the core of the villagers’ life.

The narrator’s character left a lasting impression on me. He seems well-intentioned, but never has the courage of his convictions to stand up and speak for what is right. I can’t quite picture him, he seems a shadowy figure, living amongst the community but not accepted into the heart of it. This lack of detail has been judged by some reviewers to be a negative aspect of the novel. It is my impression that it was probably Crace’s intention to depict Thirsk in this way, as a man who lives amongst the villagers, but is never quite one of them. Quite a brave move, as this will distance the reader, but for me I think it works, because this is one of the central theme’s of the novel, a stranger is never really accepted into this community unless he has been born and bred into it. This lack of courage attributed to Thirsk is also true of Thirsk’s Master, Master Kent, a kind but weak man. Mr. Earle, a newcomer, invited into the community by Master Kent, shows more pluck and courage than the other characters. He is given several names by the local inhabitants of the village, and the newcomers blamed for the fire, are also given a name that is not their own, suggesting that all newcomers are viewed with suspicion. Superstitions abound, and suspicion and superstition go hand in hand, in this land of rituals, and harvests.

Humour and sexual innuendo are used to enliven the prose. Insight into life in rural England under the rule of unscrupulous landowners is characterised in the arrival of Master Kent’s cousin, a punitive, cold-hearted man. This is a novel of loss, human weakness, destruction of a way of life, and engrained ties to the land.

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There is a heady mix of lightness in the rituals of the harvest, the crowning of the Gleaning Queen, followed by the darkness of all that happens thereafter.

Magic: My Conclusion

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I would say that I found the second half of the novel more gripping, and magical, than the first half. Reviewers have used the terms “hallucinatory” and “hypnotic” to describe Harvest, I believe that Harvest is worthy of these two terms, depicting a bygone age, when time came and went by slowly with each harvest, and customs and rituals were held in great esteem. If this is indeed going to be Crace’s last book, he should be proud that he has ended his long-standing writing career on such a deserved note, with high acclaim, and a place on the Man Booker shortlist. I would recommend this to readers who enjoy the detail of thoughtful literary and historical fiction. Perhaps it will be a book I will return to, it seems worthy of a second reading.

My favourite quotes from Harvest:

“Any hawk looking down on the orchard’s cloistered square, hoping for the titbit of a beetle or a mouse, would see a patterned canopy of trees, line on line, the orchard’s melancholy solitude, the jewellery of leaves. It would see the backs of horses, the russet, apple-dotted grass, the saltire of two crossing paths worn smooth by centuries of feet, and two grey heads, swirling in a lover’s dance, like blown seed husks caught up in an impish and exacting wind and with no telling when or where they’ll come to ground again.”

“On nights like this, when there is anxiety about, there is a glut of lovemaking. Then the moon is our dance master. He has us move in unison. He has us trill and carol in each other’s ears until the stars themselves have swollen and ripened to our cries. As ever here, we find our consolations sowing seed.”

Bye for now,

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Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

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My Kyrosmagica Review of Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

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Here is a short Synopsis of the book courtesy of Goodreads:

I have a curse
I have a gift

I am a monster
I’m more than human

My touch is lethal
My touch is power

I am their weapon
I will fight back

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

I was amused by the author’s About Me on Goodreads:

Tahereh Mafi is a girl. She writes books and reads books and drinks way too much coffee.

Very cute!

BOOKS: QUALITY OF WRITING

Shatter Me is the first in a trilogy by author Tahereh Mafi. When I looked inside I was surprised to see strikeouts within the text of the book. How could such an artistic cover house such odd strikeouts? It seemed almost criminal. What was the author trying to do? As I read on, I found that Tahereh Mafi’s style of writing fitted the style of the book, the strike outs were different, suggesting Juliette’s desperation at the bleakness of her surroundings, the loss of freedom, and her awful predicament etc. The line represented for me a stark black, strike through, like a prisoner counting off their time in captivity, for a crime that they did not intend to commit.

Then to add to this heady mix Tahereh Mafi inserts repeated words. Again, these suggest to me her desperation, and confusion. There are times when I found the extra words somewhat distracting, although Mafi has to be applauded for the originality of her ideas, very clever indeed.

Overall, I enjoyed Shatter Me, even though I found the beginning a bit slow. There are parts of the book that I found quite beautiful. The following quote is my favourite:

“I spent my life folded between the pages of books.
In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction.”

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CRYSTALS: Was there lightness and darkness? A depth to keep me interested?

There is darkness in Juliette’s predicament, she is unable to touch anyone. Can you imagine what that must be like? So it’s not surprising that the story is intense, and the words are lyrical. The lightness comes in the form of the male character in the book, Adam, Juliette’s love interest. I found the romance between the two of them sudden, intense, and at times quite hot! Juliette has the sense to see that Warner, the villain, is a nasty piece of work, a psychopath, who she would do well to avoid.

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MAGIC: Ending and Recommendations.

The ending allows for a smooth transition to the next book in the series. I would recommend Shatter Me to readers who enjoy dystopian or post-apocalyptic fiction, and anyone who enjoys YA. In the sequel, I look forward to discovering more about their dystopian world and about the two factions, and more romance from Juliette and Adam. I will definitely read the second in the series. Great titles too, and fantastic art work on the cover – love the eye!

My rating:

3.75 stars

http://www.taherehbooks.com/

https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/20419289-m-mallon

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My Kyrosmagica Review of Matt Haig’s Echo Boy for Net Galley

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Audrey’s father taught her that to stay human in the modern world, she had to build a moat around herself; a moat of books and music, philosophy and dreams. A moat that makes Audrey different from the echoes: sophisticated, emotionless machines, built to resemble humans and to work for human masters. Daniel is an echo – but he’s not like the others. He feels a connection with Audrey; a feeling Daniel knows he was never designed to have, and cannot explain. And when Audrey is placed in terrible danger, he’s determined to save her. The Echo Boy is a powerful story about love, loss and what makes us truly human.

Did it succeed in my Books, Magic, Crystals ratings, system? Yes it did. A well deserved 4 of 5 stars

BOOK: Quality of Writing

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My Netgalley review of Echo Boy, by Matt Haig. I couldn’t have picked a better book to review for my first Netgalley assignment! I have to confess that I wish I had written this myself, just a tad jealous! The impact of the advancement of technology is of great interest to me. What effect will progress have on humanity? Will we lose sight of ourselves along the way? Will we still retain a thread of what makes us human? So many questions! A topic that is close to my heart.

I don’t usually read science fiction but Matt Haig’s Echo Boy really captured my attention. The narrative delved into the future but did an admirable job of asking those questions. It is a riveting read, with well-developed characters, and a plot that keeps you interested throughout. At the end of the book, I was struck with a touch of melancholy. There must be more. I wanted to know what happens next. I have heard that there is to be a sequel. I am so delighted, this is just such a thrilling book. I enjoyed it enormously, and am looking forward to reading more of Matt Haig’s books.

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CRYSTAL: Is there lightness and darkness in the novel? YES there is.

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***BEWARE MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW ***

The story begins with Audrey’s mind log, two weeks since her parents were killed. Audrey is a fifteen year old living in the future. Her idea of old-fashioned is singing songs from the 2090s. There is a definite sense of human isolation in the novel, “only a hundred years or so’ ago people knew their neighbours. Climate change has had such a devastating impact that Audrey and her family live in a stilt house, above water, and parts of the world are blisteringly hot deserts. There is a magrail outside their house that allows them to travel more than 300 kilometres in less than ten minutes. Life has been reduced to an instant. Audrey lives in a world in which technology has made such enormous advances that there is 4-D footage of her dead parents, in a pod where she can interact with them, as though they are still alive. This cruel advancement of technology adds to her distress.

She knows in her heart that her parents are dead. Her father’s brother is Alex Castle the head of Castle Industries, the leading technological empire in Europe. The two brothers look like each other but have nothing in common, Audrey’s father is a technophobe, who fears that Echos will take over the world. The two brothers are polar opposites in personality, morals, and beliefs. These resemblances and differences are an interesting and important aspect of the novel, cleverly thought out by the author. From the opening chapter we know that her parents deaths are no accident. This is murder. In this futuristic world robots are passe and have been replaced by Echos, Alissa, their family Echo is so human looking that Audrey can’t help but find this disturbing. Like all Echos she is made of human flesh and blood, a picture of perfection, except for a cube of hardware and circuitry in the brain. Alissa, appears to malfunction, she kills Audrey’s parents, this is accomplished in the old-fashioned way with a knife. No technology is required to commit murder just cold hard steel. Audrey manages to get away from Alissa but the technology of the car that she escapes in is controlled by her uncle Alex. She is taken to his house.

In her uncle’s house she meets Daniel, a boy Echo. After witnessing the death of her parents she is terrified of all Echos, but Daniel seems to frighten her more than most. This initial fear turns out to be misplaced, Daniel is a prototype model who knows the truth about her uncle and is trying to help and warn her. Audrey learns that her uncle is a false, scheming man, only interested in augmenting his power and control. He has no soul. His ten-year old son Iago looks cute looking but has psychopathic tendencies like his father. Audrey’s uncle carries on a pretense of being her protector. To begin with Audrey is taken in. But she discovers what he is really like. She finds a message in a book from Daniel, confirming that her uncle murdered her mother and father. Her uncle locks her in her room and arranges for an Echo to kill her. She manages to escape by tricking Iago and blasts her way out of captivity.

Daniel has a lock of human hair in him, this tiny lock of hair is enough to make him experience human emotions, as well as pain. Audrey discovers that her uncle may appear human but in reality he has less compassion and heart than Daniel with his 0.01% of humanity. Her uncle tries to eliminate Daniel’s capacity for human characteristics, and discards him, aware that he may end up in the notorious Resurrection Zone. He controls the Resurrection Zone, a futuristic zoo, where extinct animals, neanderthals, and Echos are subjected to vicious attacks in front of an audience. The passages in the book about the Resurrection Zone, made me think of Rome’s bloody past. The Roman gladiators, and animals in the Colosseum, pain and suffering, existed as entertainment too.

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MAGIC: Did the ending work? Was it worthy of my magic rating. YES it was.

In the end Audrey and Daniel manage to escape to the moon, the last place that Audrey would ever have considered going to, but now everything has changed. Her parents are dead, her uncle is a murderer, there is no longer anything to hold her to planet earth. If she stays her uncle may kill her. Daniel has nothing left. His maker, Rosella who he loved is dead. So Daniel and Audrey are drawn to each other, like lost souls. They Kiss. Fall in love. But there is a price to be paid for freedom, she must become like an Echo herself, and suffer the pain of branding, or else she will be discovered on the shuttle that takes them to the Moon. Audrey makes this sacrifice, a massive undertaking to become like an Echo, overlooked, and insignificant. Especially if you consider that she will age but Daniel will continue to stay young. What can the future hold for them? Daniel is an Echo, of Rosella’s dead son; a tiny lock of her child’s hair lives within him. Rosella, Daniel’s creator, sacrifices her life to save Daniel. Another poignant moment, in the book, a human makes the ultimate sacrifice. Daniel also suffers as he is part human. A typical Echo without this 0.01% of humanity would never feel pain, or fear, or love. He is distressed by these human emotions, but without these, are we really living? Are we human?

https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/20419289-m-mallon

Have you read Echo Boy? Do leave a comment below I’d love to hear from you.

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Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

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My Review of Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

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I am so glad that I joined in the Booksplosion read-along on Goodreads. I really enjoyed reading Attachments and have rated it 4 stars.

I am rating books in a new way under three sub headings, BOOKS, CRYSTALS, MAGIC, a bit of fun!

BOOK: QUALITY OF WRITING

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This is my first Rainbow Rowell book and judging by this I will definitely want to pick up another of her books. I love Lincoln’s character. He appears to me to be like an adult Peter Pan. Still living at home after years of studying, he is stuck in a dead end job. He has a vulnerability about him which makes his transgressions acceptable. He has been hurt before and this is reflected in his choice of work, (which involves a fair amount of solitude working the night shift in a bizarre IT job scouring emails for undesirable flagged references), and in his relationships, (to begin with he only interacts with his sister, his mum and his D&D friends.)

So you can’t help but forgive him that he is reading Beth’s and Jennifer’s emails intruding on their private exchange of friendly banter, because you realise that he is like a big cuddly bear with a warm heart. This is his way of falling in love again, at a distance, so he won’t get hurt. The more he reads their wonderful emails the more he comes alive, and his confidence grows.

The characters are well crafted, and believable. I especially liked Beth, Jennifer, Lincoln’s mum and Doris.

Beth and Jennifer’s warm, caring, relationship comes across beautifully via their unguarded emails.

CRYSTALS: IS THE READ LIGHT HEARTED OR DARK/DEEP?

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This is my lightness rating. Is the book light-hearted or will it leave you in floods of tears? For me, it was definitely a light-hearted read. I found the short chapters drew me into the novel, making me want to turn the page to see what happened next. This is the perfect book for lovers of romance, who enjoy a well written story with interesting characters and observations.

MAGIC: DID I LIKE THE ENDING, WAS IT MAGICAL?

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****BEWARE SPOILERS BELOW *****

Did the ending satisfy or was it a let down? Before I embark on this I just want to touch upon the food references in the book which were really amusing, and therefore it seems appropriate to add them under my magic section! Lincoln’s mother lovingly cooks copious amounts of food, but he is unable to eat it all and shares his food with Doris, an older lady at work. Doris becomes his way to escape his mother’s overbearing love. He willingly shares half of the food, because he wants to grow up, get a life, be an adult. At first, Lincoln’s mother is upset but when she realises how much Doris enjoys her food, she accepts the situation, and Lincoln is now able to move on with his life and become an adult, and find love again. I found this so relatable as my Malaysian mother is a wonderful cook and always makes lots of tasty food!

There seems to be differing opinions on Goodreads about the conclusion, some people found the ending cheesy. But in my opinion the ending works because Lincoln has been hurt, and is longing for love, and falls in love with Beth without even seeing her, via the medium of her emails to her friend. He means no harm, and is guilty about intruding into Beth’s privacy. He is a nice guy. Beth sees Lincoln, is attracted to him, but doesn’t really know him, yet she senses that he has a big enough heart for her. They are suited because they are both equally eccentric as each other and so is the ending! I loved it.

Find out more about Rainbow Rowell at http://www.rainbowrowell.com.

 

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My Kyrosmagica Review of The Cuckoo’s Calling

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A brilliant debut mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel’s suicide. After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

You may think you know detectives, but you’ve never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you’ve never seen them under an investigation like this

My review:

A huge Harry Potter fan I was not disappointed by J.K Rowling’s well written crime debut, penned under the name of Robert Galbraith. Though I must confess that I was quite perturbed by the slow pace of the novel in the opening chapters. Nevertheless this didn’t put me off. I read on and I am so glad that I did. The novel picks up pace as Strike’s shattered confidence grows. I wonder if this is an intentional device? J K Rowling’s amazing gift of story telling is evident in her engaging plot, colourful characters and eye for detail. They are striking!

The main character, Cormoran Strike, an ex soldier, wounded in combat, has been invalided out of the army. Missing the camaraderie of the armed forces he appears to be a little lost. He sets up as a private detective. The pace of the novel is slow in the initial chapters mirroring his struggle to make ends meet. He has few paying customers, and is beset by financial difficulties, and death threats. An unhappy love affair has resulted in him sleeping in his own office. A new temporary secretary, Robin Ellacott, appears just when he feels he can least afford her. Initially Robin comes across as this empty headed girl obsessed with her recent engagement to her accountant fiancé. But Robin’s character doesn’t disappoint. Her kind nature, obvious excitement and involvement in the case, all endear the reader to her.

Strike is investigating the mysterious circumstance surrounding the death of the famous supermodel Lulu Landry. It is not clear whether she fell from the plush balcony of her London home or if she was pushed. Lula Landry’s adopted brother approaches Strike asking him to take on the case. He seems certain that his sister did not jump. To begin with Strike is reluctant to take on the case as the police have clearly stated a suicide verdict. As Strike sets out to investigate, we can’t help but be impressed by his attention to detail and his ability to extract information. The pace of the novel quickens as does our excitement reading it, right up to the stunning conclusion. J.K. Rowling’s wonderful array of characters are portrayed with humour, depth, and believability.

My rating:

4 Stars.

DISCLAIMER: “As of 13th September 2017 we are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.”  

My opinions are my own and any reviews on this site have not been swayed or altered in any way by monetary compensation, or by the offer of a free book in exchange for a review. 

Buying Links:

UK Kindle: http://amzn.to/2hqfcJ5

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Have you read The Cuckoo’s Calling? Do you leave a comment in the box below I’d love to hear from you.

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Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

Photo courtesy of Google Images.

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My Kyrosmagica Review of Vicious by Victoria Schwab

Vicious victoria schwab

Goodreads Synopsis:

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

My review:

A fast paced gripping read. The chapters are short, and punchy throughout so you will not get bored. The characterisation in the novel is brilliant. It is not a flowery read. It certainly made me wince in parts, and don’t expect much in the way of descriptive prose of settings, etc. It left me with a sense of disappointment when the novel ended but I think this is just the very nature of the novel, however it would end would leave you with an empty feeling, a bit like a rollercoaster halting, you’ve taken the ride of a lifetime but now it ends. I have had several thoughts about the ending. I had doubts about it at first, but I came to the conclusion that it would be a brilliant ending cinematically, (the ending is very visual, and graphic), I can just see this becoming a film, it has so much potential. I would really recommend reading this if you like a fast paced exciting read with excellent characters throughout.

My rating:

4 stars

https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/20419289-m-mallon

Photo courtesy of Google Images.

Have you read Vicious? Do leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you.

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Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

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My Kyrosmagica review of A tale for The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

anzr-square-400 A Tale for the time being

Goodreads Synopsis:

This is Ruth Ozeki’s third novel, shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2013.

In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying, but before she ends it all, Nao plans to document the life of her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in a ways she can scarcely imagine.

Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future. 

Full of Ozeki’s signature humour and deeply engaged with the relationship between writer and reader, past and present, fact and fiction, quantum physics, history, and myth, A Tale for the Time Being is a brilliantly inventive, beguiling story of our shared humanity and the search for home.

My review:

I think this is a remarkable novel, well deserved to be shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2013. It is the first time that I have awarded a book five stars. For me it ticked all of the boxes, it is beautifully written. The character of Nao comes alive through the reading of her diary, drawing you into her world, where the brutality of some of the things she has to endure is counterbalanced by the spiritual guidance and love she receives from Old Jiko, her great grandmother. You can’t help but share in Ruth’s determination to find out what has happened to Nao and her family. The novel left me with a heightened sense of the here and now, as each person’s individual destiny can be altered, in a single moment, that’s all it takes to destroy lives. Equally the same moment in time may have no consequences if influenced by a different set of circumstances. It also left me feeling a bit sad and strangely optimistic at the same time too. If you like to think deeply, this is definitely the novel for you. I expect that I will return to this novel in the future and re-read it again, because one reading just doesn’t seem to do it justice.

My rating:

5 Stars

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https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/20419289-m-mallon

Have you read A tale for The Time Being? Do leave a comment I’d love to hear from you.

Bye for now,

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Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

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