Circle of the Moon by Faith Hunter
I feel so torn about these books. I love the characters, the setting, everyone’s different magical abilities. But. After reading about mysterious ailments throughout so many books between the Soulwood and Jane Yellowrock series, I don’t think I can take anymore. They seem to get weirder and more unexplained as it goes on and the novelty has worn off for me. Unfortunately I think this is my last Faith Hunter book, for now.
Keeper by Jessica L. Randall
Despite loving all of the other books I’ve read by Jessica L. Randall, I put off reading this one because it just didn’t sound like something I’d be into. The description came across as more sci-fi than cozy magical realism but I should have known better. Lexi falls off a cliff after being startled while running, and the next thing she knows she is waking up the following morning with odd memories of the night before. She recalls a dream of someone in a white coat and distinctive eyes, and when those eyes show up on the new kid in her class she suspects that it may have been more than just a dream.
Because the main characters are in high school and the story is clean with an approachable story line, this could be considered YA. It is an exciting, romantic read and I’d recommend it to anyone who likes magical realism and a great story.
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
I avoided reading this book because of an initial comment I heard about the book: that the way traditional Russian nicknames are used makes knowing which character is being referred to confusing. It does take a little getting used to, but usually it is obvious who the name is for (Vasochka for Vasya or Olya for Olga) and I hope that this doesn’t deter anyone from reading this.
This book is part harsh Russian Winter and part magical folklore. It is set in the fourteenth century and I feel that it was written in a way that reflects how they would have spoken during that time in Russia while still making it accessible to today’s readers. It satisfies a specific want I have in a book without knowing how to look for it: old pagan practices without spells. A large part of the story are the various spirits that people in the time and place would leave offerings to in exchange for protection. Vasya is unique because she can see and speak with these spirits that no one else can see.
This is a wonderful story and best read carefully to fully appreciate the culture and looking up words you may need to in the glossary provided.
The Paris Secret by Karen Swan
I waited this whole book for the main character, Flora, to make a decision that made any sort of sense. The premise is interesting: an art dealer goes to Paris to catalogue an apartment that has been abandoned since WWII. There are some interesting twists and turns in getting to the bottom of the mystery apartment but I am still unclear at how Flora got to the conclusions that she did. It’s as if the author made her think of just the right thing at the right time to get the next clue. Just like writing the answer to a math problem without showing how you got there. The love interest situation wasn’t logical either. We heard for most of the book how ridiculous and immature one person thought of the other and that changed in an instant when suddenly they were in love and proud of each other. I’m surprised this book got published in this condition.
The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer
I picked up The Age of Light at my favorite local bookstore on Independent Bookstore Day. I had never heard of Lee Miller or Man Ray but when I saw “photographer” and “Paris” after picking it up because of the beautiful cover, I knew it was for me.
This is a novel based on two real people and in the author’s note she mentions that she has created this story inspired by how she imagines these people to be based on research she has done. The photography details made me so nostalgic for a darkroom and my 35mm.
This book feels very real to me. While I don’t agree with all of Lee Miller’s actions, I feel that they are justified based on the version of her the author has built for us. It exudes emotion, passion, and drive that couldn’t help but inspire me to make my own art. It doesn’t end in a fairy tale, but you might like this one if you care more about feeling while reading rather than a happy ending. This book is one of a handful of favorites so far in 2019.