January 27, 2014

Review: Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

After seeing that cover—and that title—I knew I needed this novel in my life. I mean, with a character named Ophelia, what could go wrong, right?

I am glad I read this. I devoured the story.

Title: ‘Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy’
Author: Karen Foxlee
Pages: 240
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Available: January 28, 2014
Source: requested from Netgalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

A modern-day fairy tale set in a mysterious museum that is perfect for readers of Roald Dahl and Blue Balliett.

Unlikely heroine Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard doesn't believe in anything that can't be proven by science. She and her sister Alice are still grieving for their dead mother when their father takes a job in a strange museum in a city where it always snows. On her very first day in the museum Ophelia discovers a boy locked away in a long forgotten room. He is a prisoner of Her Majesty the Snow Queen. And he has been waiting for Ophelia's help.

As Ophelia embarks on an incredible journey to rescue the boy everything that she believes will be tested. Along the way she learns more and more about the boy's own remarkable journey to reach her and save the world.

A story within a story, this a modern day fairytale is about the power of friendship, courage and love, and never ever giving up.

My Thoughts:

The plot of this novel is simple, and yet not so simple at all. Ophelia spends time with her father at his new job, working in a strange museum. As young children are apt to do, Ophelia feels this place is one worthy of exploration.

This is how she encounters The Marvelous Boy. Except, what is so marvelous about him?

This is what the reader discovers as he/she devours this exciting tale. There is much to discover about The Marvelous Boy, the predicament he is in, and the time that is ticking away.

Can Ophelia save him? Or will she find herself another victim of The Snow Queen?

Oh sweet Ophelia, how do I love thee? No really, I absolutely adored her character. This was her story to tell, but Foxlee did a terrific job of balancing the development of Ophelia and her cause with the past of The Marvelous Boy and how he came to be in the clutches of The Snow Queen.

The story of the Marvelous Boy is what readers will devour as they race to the finish line of the novel with expectations of discovery of the true identity of The Snow Queen.

After all, throughout the reading I was questioning whether the Marvelous Boy was a real person or just a figment Ophelia dreamt up to pass the time.

And the Snow Queen? There is nothing I can say about her character without a revealing any kind of plot line. I will say this—it’s good.

As a whole, I enjoyed taking the journey with Ophelia. It was fun to run throughout the museum, searching for the best time to rescue the Marvelous Boy, hiding from the Snow Queen, and delving into a magical world that is nothing like my own. I felt like I was Ophelia, experiencing all the magical wonder that was that magical museum.

Goodreads says this novel will appeal to fans of Dahl, and I completely agree. I also believe this novel will appeal to those who enjoyed ‘The Apothecary’ by Meloy. It has the same feel for world-building.

I definitely recommend this novel to all readers/enjoyers of children’s lit, but most especially those aged nineish and above.

Have you read anything magical lately? If so, comment below and let’s talk about books.
Happy Reading!

-      The Hodgenator

January 26, 2014

Review: Lives of Magic

Title: ‘Lives of Magic’
Author: Lucy Leiderman
Pages: 384
Publisher: Dundurn
Available: January 28, 2014
Source: requested from Netgalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

Seventeen-year-old Gwen is settling into her new home in Oregon and looking forward to senior year when she is kidnapped by Kian, who warns her that she is in terrible danger. An ancient war was fought between magical Celtic warriors and three evil magicians. Those magicians are alive and well and need Gwen's magic to regain their power. If they succeed, they'll be unstoppable. To save the world, Gwen must unlock the magic trapped in her memories of a past life in Britannia.

As Gwen starts to recover her lost memories and awakens to her power, she suffers the consequences of a divided soul. Gwen and Kian travel to New York and then to England to find others of her kind. Gwen, Garrison, Seth, and Moira need each other to solve the puzzle of their last days in ancient Britannia. They are only as strong as what they remember, but a troublesome history threatens to doom the world. One way or another, a deadly showdown is inevitable, ready or not …

My Thoughts:

I love a good mystery story, one wrapped in jogging a memory of a long past full of magical wonder. That’s the reason I requested to read this novel—I felt it would speak to me.

The title and cover of this book is what grabbed me first—the idea that past lives wrapped into magic meets modern day times.

Gwen is a typical high schooler, with a new life in Oregon. All of that changes in an instant when Kian steps on the page. Soon, Gwen is swept up into a world she is unaware she was a part of, one with a connection to magic, and it is up to Kian to help her (1) remember that past and (2) stop the ones who do not want her—or anyone like her—to have a future.

But Gwen is not alone. There are others that are like her. She and Kian are on a quest. They must find those “others” if there is any chance at defeating the three evil magicians.

If only they could remember their past.

This novel was action packed. From natural disasters to love, Leiderman chose for her leading lady to juggle a lot. But if any character can handle it, it is Gwen. I enjoyed the idea that the magical powers grew within each character as he/she remembered their past.

What a clever way to have the magic grow as the character grows. This is a nice change from the “hey, you’re magical and need to figure out how to control your magic” story. It allowed each character to truly tap into his/her magical awareness. And it gave them an incentive to really dig deep into those memories.

It was fun to experience Gwen’s flashbacks with her. We learned of her past life as she did, and it helped bring the story full circle. What was even more fun was trying to see Gwen juggle a love life too. Not only does she need to save the world, but she must also save her heart (and possibly the heart of another).

In this part of the storytelling, the author will keep readers engaged.

I enjoyed the book as a whole, but I do not know if I will continue with the series. It just did not grab my attention in the way I was hoping—and expecting.

While I enjoyed the storytelling and getting to know Gwen as a character, I just did not connect to it. I have read several reviews that feel this was an awesome book. For me, it was okay.

For readers looking for a mixture of magical fantasy meets it’s time to save the modern world, this book will speak to you.

It hits shelves this week.

What’s the most interesting magical tale you’ve read lately?

Comment below and let’s talk about books.
Happy Reading!

-      The Hodgenator