ARC Review: The Magical Imperfect by Chris Baron

Special thanks to Feiwel & Friends for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads: The Magical Imperfect
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publish Date: 15 June 2021
Genre: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction

Panda Rating:

(3 pandas)

Etan has stopped speaking since his mother left. His father and grandfather don’t know how to help him. His friends have given up on him.

When Etan is asked to deliver a grocery order to the outskirts of town, he realizes he’s at the home of Malia Agbayani, also known as the Creature. Malia stopped going to school when her acute eczema spread to her face, and the bullying became too much.

As the two become friends, other kids tease Etan for knowing the Creature. But he believes he might have a cure for Malia’s condition, if only he can convince his family and hers to believe it too. Even if it works, will these two outcasts find where they fit in?

BUY A COPY:

TL;DR: Ultimately, while I might not recommend this for its disability rep, I appreciated the historical context and the representation of cultures and the immigrant perspective This was very different from what I expected after reading the blurb but I was pleasantly surprised by the nostalgic vibes it gave me. This did read a bit on the younger side of MG for me but I do think that it would be suitable and enjoyable for MG readers across all ages, even older readers such as myself.

This was a very different middle-grade read compared to what I normally pick up in this genre. It’s historical fiction but also has aspects of magical realism that leant the story an even more whimsical atmosphere. It’s written in verse and though the prose is simple and without unnecessary flair, it was also evocative and I could easily picture the neighbourhood form in front of my eyes. The community was diverse and there was a sense of camaraderie between all the neighbours that made the pages feel full of warmth and joy.

While I expected a touching story about the friendship between two young misfits, and we got that, it also went beyond that and there were many elements to the plot and setting that I didn’t expect to find—from religious to historical and cultural, and I was see it in a MG. I was intrigued by the late 80s setting in San Francisco and by the historical event that occurred during the time period of the story. What I found most refreshing though was seeing the Filipino representation in a historical setting and I was pleasantly surprised to read about the immigrant journey to America from a different (non-Western) perspective! Etan’s Jewish and Maia’s Filipina cultural heritage also played important roles in their story and as I grew up in the Philippines, I found reading about Maia’s family—her Lola and the food!—was comforting and made me a little nostalgic, too.

I found the friendship between Maia and Etan to be very sweet and full of youthful optimism and joy. As their bond grows closer, Etan finds the strength in his own voice again. Maia also finds joy in being able to have someone her age who doesn’t see her as “The Creature” but can look beyond her eczema to the loving, precocious and vibrant little girl she is. I really loved her sass and confidence, as well as her connection to nature and the trees surrounding her home.

Another aspect that I thought was interesting was the representation of Maia and Etan’s disabilities—severe eczema and selective mutism, respectively. I’ve never read a book with these disabilities represented (whether it be adult, YA or MG) so I found it interesting to read about and have it be part of these characters. However, what disappointed me was the use of the magical healing clay as a “cure” for these disabilities to make Maia and Etan ‘normal happy kids’. It made it seem like people with disabilities are not ‘normal’ and that you need to look and act like others to be happy. Yes, Maia wasn’t 100% ‘cured’ but the message is still the same and it’s not one that I would want any person to read and believe that they’re less than because they have a disability or live with chronic illness. The topic of mental health was also explored a bit through Etan’s mother but I wish it was done in more depth as it impacted Etan and his family so greatly.

Even though I didn’t end up loving it as much as I thought I would, it was still a quick, engaging and easy read. I loved the diversity and the historical context and in the future I’d be interested in seeing what else Baron has written.

Have you read The Magical Imperfect or is it on your TBR?

Goodreads Monday – Small Favors by Erin A. Craig

Welcome back to Goodreads Monday! It’s been a very hot minute since I did one but I figured I might as well get back into it! This weekly meme was started by @Lauren’s Page Turners and it invites you to pick a book from your TBR and explain why you want to read it. Easy enough, right? Feel free to join in if you want to! I’ll be using a random number generator to pick my books from my insanely long GR Want-to-read list.*

*Sorry if a book has been featured twice. I need to make better note of which ones I’ve done already!

This week’s featured book is Small Favors by Erin A. Craig. This is actually an anticipated 2021 YA historical fantasy release. It apparently has horror, supernatural, magical realism and retelling elements to it? It’s scheduled to be published 27 July 2021! 😍

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Goodreads Monday – In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens

Welcome back to Goodreads Monday! It’s been a very hot minute since I did one but I figured I might as well get back into it! This weekly meme was started by @Lauren’s Page Turners and it invites you to pick a book from your TBR and explain why you want to read it. Easy enough, right? Feel free to join in if you want to! I’ll be using a random number generator to pick my books from my insanely long GR Want-to-read list.*

*Sorry if a book has been featured twice. I need to make better note of which ones I’ve done already!

This week’s featured book is In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens. This is a YA historical fantasy that comes out mid-April 2021!

Continue reading “Goodreads Monday – In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens”

Goodreads Monday – The Songbook of Benny Lament by Amy Harmon

Welcome back to Goodreads Monday! It’s been a very hot minute since I did one but I figured I might as well get back into it! This weekly meme was started by @Lauren’s Page Turners and it invites you to pick a book from your TBR and explain why you want to read it. Easy enough, right? Feel free to join in if you want to! I’ll be using a random number generator to pick my books from my insanely long GR Want-to-read list.*

*Sorry if a book has been featured twice. I need to make better note of which ones I’ve done already!

This week’s featured book is The Songbook of Benny Lament by Amy Harmon. This is a historical fiction that comes out tomorrow (16 March)!

Continue reading “Goodreads Monday – The Songbook of Benny Lament by Amy Harmon”

First Lines Friday – 12 March

Happy Friday book lovers! We’re back with another First Lines Friday, a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines? Here are the rules:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

First lines:

“I saw my mother raise a man from the dead. “It still didn’t help him much, my love,” she told me. But I saw her do it all the same. That’s how I knew she was magic.”

Do you recognize the book these first lines come from?

Continue reading “First Lines Friday – 12 March”

Goodreads Monday – The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara

Welcome back to Goodreads Monday! It’s been a very hot minute since I did one but I figured I might as well get back into it! This weekly meme was started by @Lauren’s Page Turners and it invites you to pick a book from your TBR and explain why you want to read it. Easy enough, right? Feel free to join in if you want to! I’ll be using a random number generator to pick my books from my insanely long GR Want-to-read list.*

*Sorry if a book has been featured twice. I need to make better note of which ones I’ve done already!

This week’s featured book is The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara. This is a literary historical fiction with elements of magical realism and is Yanagihara’s debut back in 2014.

Continue reading “Goodreads Monday – The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara”

ARC Review: Spellmaker by Charlie N. Holmberg

Thanks to NetGalley and 47North for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Spellmaker (Spellbreaker Duology #2)
Publisher: 47North
Publication Date: 09 March 2021
Genre: Historical Fantasy, Romance

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

England, 1895. An unsolved series of magician murders and opus thefts isn’t a puzzle to Elsie Camden. But to reveal a master spellcaster as the culprit means incriminating herself as an unregistered spellbreaker. When Elsie refuses to join forces with the charming assassin, her secret is exposed, she’s thrown in jail, and the murderer disappears. But Elsie’s hope hasn’t vanished.

Through a twist of luck, the elite magic user Bacchus Kelsey helps Elsie join the lawful, but with a caveat: they must marry to prove their cover story. Forced beneath a magical tutor while her bond with Bacchus grows, Elsie seeks to thwart the plans of England’s most devious criminal—if she can find them.

With hundreds of stolen spells at their disposal, the villain has a plan—and it involves seducing Elsie to the dark side. But even now that her secret is out, Elsie must be careful how she uses the new abilities she’s discovering, or she may play right into the criminal’s hands.

*Note: There might be minor spoilers for book one if you haven’t read it yet!*

TL;DR: Spellmaker was an action-packed sequel to Spellbreaker and a satisfying conclusion to this historical fantasy duology with a little bit of mystery and romance. I was a little worried when I got to the 80% mark and felt that a lot still had to be resolved, and although I thought the climax was a little too simplistic for the build-up, I was still enthralled by the story and characters, and ultimately thought the conclusion was done well.

Continue reading “ARC Review: Spellmaker by Charlie N. Holmberg”

Goodreads Monday – Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malindo Lo

Welcome back to Goodreads Monday! It’s been a very hot minute since I did one but I figured I might as well get back into it! This weekly meme was started by @Lauren’s Page Turners and it invites you to pick a book from your TBR and explain why you want to read it. Easy enough, right? Feel free to join in if you want to! I’ll be using a random number generator to pick my books from my insanely long GR Want-to-read list.*

*Sorry if a book has been featured twice. I need to make better note of which ones I’ve done already!

This week’s featured book is Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo. This is a YA LGBTQ+ historical fiction that was released just last month (January 2021) and it has some a pretty high rating!

Continue reading “Goodreads Monday – Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malindo Lo”

Book Spotlight + Excerpt: The Tobacco Girls by Lizzie Lane

Today I’m delighted to share a book spotlight and excerpt as part of the blog tour organised by Rachel’s Random Resources for The Tobacco Girls by Lizzie Lane.

Be sure to click on the banner below to check out the rest of the bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: The Tobacco Girls
Publisher: Boldwood Books
Publish Date: 05 January 2021
Genre: Historical Fiction

Bristol 1939. School leaver Maisie Miles suspects her father, a small-time crook, has an ulterior motive for insisting she gets a job at the W. D. & H. O. Wills tobacco factory but keeps it to herself.
She’s befriended by effervescent Phyllis Mason and kind-hearted Bridget Milligan who take pity on her and take Maisie under their wing.
But beneath their happy go lucky exteriors they all harbour dreams and worries about what the future holds.
Engaged to be married Phyllis dreams of romance and passion but when it comes there are dire consequences.
Bridget seemingly the level headed one harbours a horror of something unspeakable that she cannot easily come to terms with.
There’s great comradeship at the tobacco factory, and with the advent of war everything is about to change and even the closest friendships are likely to be strained.

BUY NOW: Amazon

Continue reading “Book Spotlight + Excerpt: The Tobacco Girls by Lizzie Lane”

Blog Tour Review: The Fortunate Ones by Ed Tarkington

Special thanks to Algonquin Books for inviting me to be on tour and for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads: The Fortunate Ones
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Release Date: 05 January 2021
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

When Charlie Boykin was young, he thought his life with his single mother on the working-class side of Nashville was perfectly fine. But when his mother arranges for him to be admitted as a scholarship student to an elite private school, he is suddenly introduced to what the world can feel like to someone cushioned by money. That world, he discovers, is an almost irresistible place where one can bend—and break—rules and still end up untarnished. As he gets drawn into a friendship with a charismatic upperclassman, Archer Creigh, and an affluent family that treats him like an adopted son, Charlie quickly adapts to life in the upper echelons of Nashville society. Under their charming and alcohol-soaked spell, how can he not relax and enjoy it all—the lack of anxiety over money, the easy summers spent poolside at perfectly appointed mansions, the lavish parties, the freedom to make mistakes knowing that everything can be glossed over or fixed?
 
But over time, Charlie is increasingly pulled into covering for Archer’s constant deceits and his casual bigotry. At what point will the attraction of wealth and prestige wear off enough for Charlie to take a stand—and will he?
 
The Fortunate Ones is an immersive, elegantly written story that conveys both the seductiveness of this world and the corruption of the people who see their ascent to the top as their birthright.

Continue reading “Blog Tour Review: The Fortunate Ones by Ed Tarkington”