Review: Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance

Hey Readers,

I went into Ruth Emmie Lang’s Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance not knowing very much about it and I have to say I’m kind of happy I went into it that way. I knew that it was about a boy who was raised by wolves who seems to have some magical abilities and that it was a mix of fantasy and magical realism and with that, I was sold.

“Don’t leave anything you can’t come back to.”

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance is the story of Weylyn Grey told through the perspectives of some of the people in his life who love him. Each chapter rotates between different perspectives however the novel is also split into books, and each of those books only focuses on two of the characters. I feel like that’s a convoluted way of saying what I’m trying to say, but I felt that while there were a lot of different perspectives in the novel, the fact that we were only focusing on two at a time helped keep it from getting overwhelming, and helped the story flow.

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This novel has a classic “once upon a time” feel to it. It reads like it is a modern day fairy tale with the different relationships that Weylyn Grey has, not only with humans but the animals that become his family, like Merlin the magical pig.  Lang writes Weylyn’s story full of vivid and beautiful descriptions and brimming with hope. It made me cry all of the happy tears.

“Actually, it’s kind of a love story.”

I will say that the only reason I didn’t give this book a full 5 stars was that I wish that we had gotten some more depth when it came to the magic that Weylyn had.

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

– Hannah

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Review: Once Upon A River

ONCE UPON A RIVER
BY DIANE SETTERFIELD
http://onceuponariverbook.com/
Atria Books Hardcover | 480 pages | ISBN: 9780743298070| December 4, 2018 | $28.00
eBook: 480 pages | ISBN: 9781501190230| $13.99

 

Hey Readers,

I was lucky to receive an advanced reader copy of Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield this month from Atria Books in exchange for an honest review.

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Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield is fantasy, mythology, folklore, and an homage to storytelling all wrapped up in one novel. It is the story of three missing children, and when one is returned under mysterious circumstances, three families are left wanting to claim her as their own. I had never read any of Setterfield’s works before, I had no idea what I was getting into but with words like atmospheric, magical, and fairy tales, being used to describe it I knew that I had to read it.

There are a lot of characters in this book, and they all are interwoven in some ways. Some are there for you to dislike, others like Robert Armstrong and Rita whom you can’t help but love. I also loved how the river felt like it was in itself its own character. Not only did the river guide the story along but it almost seems to react to what is happening in the story, ebbing and flowing with the changes and twist and turns of the story.

One of my favorite aspects of the story was its quiet discussion about grief. Without going too much into it for fear of spoiling anything, all of a sudden we are talking about grief, and the hard ways in which we do and don’t process grief, and I was shocked that I had not noticed it until that point.

At first, I thought this was a book that I was going to fly through, and I think I made an error for the first half of the book in not slowing down as I was reading it. As I started getting towards the middle of the book, I slowed down significantly, I took my time with the prose and the language and let the words wash over me. This book has a river at its center, and just like a river, the turns and courses that it might take and the changing currents, I never knew where this book was taking me. This is a slow burning novel, more character than plot driven, it’s a novel that is worth slowing down and letting the story guide you.

Overall, I wish I had gone into the novel with the awareness that it was a slow burn and not a book that one should devour and binge. Skimming will be your worst enemy when it comes to Once Upon A River, you may realize that you’ve missed something important tucked away in those beautiful descriptions. This is a novel that I would recommend if you’re in the mood for allowing yourself to be swept away in the magic of the river that is and is not the river Thames and if you love rich and traditional storytelling.

And now, dear reader, the story is over. It is time for you to cross the bridge once more and return to the world that you came from. This river which is and is not the river Thames, must continue flowing without you. You have haunted here long enough, and besides, you surely have rivers of your own to attend to.

 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

– Hannah

  

Grab your copy of ONCE UPON A RIVER:
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Osmegh
Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/2NLDxDy
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Indiebound: https://bit.ly/2PCzriX
Kobo: https://bit.ly/2P3QFIV
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Nook: https://bit.ly/2CkjJp3

Review: The Immortalists

I’ll be honest with you, the thing that first drew me to this book is the cover. I mean look at it, it’s stunning. I kept seeing it on my Instagram feed and I wanted it. I marked the date it was going to be released on my calendar and I picked up that day. What I was expecting was a book of fantasy, filled with magical realism, but thats not exactly what I got.

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Synopsis; from Goodreads:

“If you were told the date of your death, how would it shape your present?

It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.

Their prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in ’80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11, hoping to control fate; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.”

Chloe Benjamin sets her novel up in four acts. One for each sibling, from the sibling who dies first to the sibling who dies last, each their own period piece as well. Simon, embraces his identity and sets out to find love in San Fransisco’s queer community in the 80’s. Klara, a traveling magician in the 90’s. Daniel, a man who seeks the security of domesticity, in the wake of 9/11 America. And Varya, a female scientist in 2018, who ultimately denies herself any sense of a fulfilled life.

I was fully invested in both Simon and Klara’s stories, finding myself crying as I finished each of their sections. My fiancé, who witnessed one of these moments proceeded to look at me like I was crazy as I wept over my book. However, I was less than interested in Daniel’s story and I was disappointed with Varya. I expected more from Varya. Set to live a long life, she refused to live one at all. It felt unfair to Simon and Klara especially. Both of them robbed of long lives, Simon dying at 20 and Klara dying at 32, both of them tried to live as much as they could while they had the chance.

I gave this book 4 stars. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. Like I said, I was hoping for magical realism, more of a fantasy read, it was not that at all though. It was much darker than I was expecting. I don’t mind dark novels, they are actually some of my favorite, I just wasn’t expecting that from this book. The way Benjamin stays above giving a direct answer is what I enjoyed the most. Were the Gold’s always set to die on those specific dates? Did the fortune teller tell the truth about their deaths, or did the Gold’s, believing the date to be unchangeable, hurtle themselves towards their own deaths, each decision they made pushing them towards what would eventually lead to their deaths?

– Hannah