book reviews, crafts, cheap things…

Posts tagged “magical realism

Book Review: Teen Spirit by Francesca Lia Block

Teen spirit

234 pages went by in a flash; if you’ve liked FLB’s other books, you’ll enjoy this one. Like many of Block’s books, this one includes some good magical realism and has elements of a love letter to LA, companionship between weirdos, inspiring sartorial descriptions,  and a female protagonist as an explorer.

Plot-wise, Julie lives a sweet life with her awesome mom and grandma, but then grandma dies so she and mom move to an apartment in a new part of LA. Amidst the change and mourning, mom goes weird and gets a strange boyfriend, and Julie makes a friend at school and tries to bring her grandma back with a Ouija board that she finds in the bedroom closet of her new apartment. But it’s not her grandma who comes back. What happens next is surprising and interesting.

I could have gone for a little more length and depth (maybe a little more magic and more details about Julie’s job), but in all, Teen Spirit was quite good.

find a copy here

Book Review: Wish by Alexandra Bullen

Wish : a novel

The cover of this book is so fairytale blah, but don’t let that deter you!

After her popular and outgoing twin’s death, shy and awkward Olivia and her parents have moved to an old Victorian in San Francisco to start fresh. Alas, the tragedy brings out the worst in each of her parents, their family structure continues to crumble, and Olivia feels terribly sad and alone.

BUT a bit of magic enters her life in a surprising way, and suddenly Olivia has some of the support she needs to start moving on. In addition to the magic, there’s a good deal of real-life stuff that is fairly interesting– and readers who know San Francisco will be amused by identifying different subtle landmarks (and piecing together the sometimes “creative” merging of them). The story is reminiscent of something that Francesca Lia Block might write, but the language is completely different.

In my opinion the mention of clothing brand names weaken the story a bit, as does the too-tidy ending. But all in all, it was a solid amusement that had me looking up the author as soon as I finished.

Book Review: Moon Honey by Suzette Mayr

Moon honey

Don’t be turned off by the weird 1990’s graphic on the front cover. This book will blow your brains straight out of your head, and in a variety of directions (figuratively, of course). I finished this book the other day and I don’t think I’ll be done processing the intricacies of it for a while, still. However, I’m not waiting to post this because I want people to acquire this book and read it soon.

The book begins with a kind of racist white girl who one day turns black after ignorantly saying some racist stuff to her boss. The plot just goes all kinds of places from there; relationships materialize and fall apart, magical things literally or maybe figuratively happen, family histories are explored, there’s a wedding, a death, some transmogrification… All in 212 pages. I don’t know how to describe this writing… but I know that I like it.


If you’re in the USA you can one of the few copies left starting at One Cent on Amazon, or do what I did and borrow a copy from Inter Library Loan. Canadians, Mayr is one of you– so you can get it even easier. No excuses!

Book Review: The Elementals by Francesca Lia Block

The elementals by Francesca Lia Block

I’ve been reading FLB for probably 2/3 of my life now, and the magic is still there. She can still wrap a poem around anything, and the magical realism is still abundant and shimmery. There aren’t really lines between dreams and reality in her recent writing, and maybe that’s kind of the point.

So, Ariel’s super-close best friend disappeared a year ago on a class trip to Berkeley (she lives in LA). Ariel’s mother has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. She is out-of-place and awkward. It’s time to head off to college at Berkeley (where she was supposed to go with her missing best friend).

Distraught, Ariel starts looking for her missing friend when she arrives in Berkeley. She passes out flyers, asks around, gets ridiculed for her persistence. She’s breaking down, on the edge of crazy, unable to find peace in the present because of this. She meets a trio of older people, grad students who have a large house off campus. They suck her in, and she is intoxicated with them and the magic, but still floundering. Additionally, there are other surrounding characters who engage in both terrorizing and trying to save her.

When reading this book it’s hard to determine between metaphor and actuality, and that might be the point because it’s pretty much about where she’s at mentally– furthermore, there’s a constant current of magic and drugs and memory which is both destabilizing and essential. If you take this book literally, you’re going to have a problem. If you just let it wash over you, things will be better.

My one problem (and it might be cruel to place it at this part of the review): The Ending. I don’t know whether the author wanted it or the publisher wanted it or maybe there just wasn’t time to write something better. Maybe just skip the last chapter or two. They’re not terribly necessary.

Find a copy here