Tag Archives: magical realism

magic for liars

Book Review: Magic For Liars, by Sarah Gailey

It was chore day, so I wanted to listen to an audiobook while I slogged away at them. But none of the ones I have on my Audible cloud looked appealing. Thus, I borrowed Sarah Gailey‘s Magic For Liars from the library.

magic for liars sarah gailey

Ivy Gamble has never wanted to be magical. She is perfectly happy with her life. She has an almost-sustainable career as a private investigator, and an empty apartment, and a slight drinking problem. It’s a great life and she doesn’t wish she was like her estranged sister, the magically gifted professor Tabitha.

But when Ivy is hired to investigate the gruesome murder of a faculty member at Tabitha’s private academy, the stalwart detective starts to lose herself in the case, the life she could have had, and the answer to the mystery that seems just out of her reach.

I’ll admit that this was a tad on the slow side, but I generally enjoyed it. And I’ll tell you what I liked about it. I too am a salt-n-pepper woman (like the main character). That makes me 43. I figure Ivy was a bit older, though it’s not explicitly stated. She’s stuck in a high school dealing with teenagers. I have an almost 14 and almost 12 year old. They roll they eyes at me constantly, and generally think they know everything and parents are idiots, as teens are wont to do. The teens in Magic For Liars are the same. And like adults everywhere, Ivy sees right through their act. But because she has a mystery to solve she uses her adult knowledge to get the information she needs. She doesn’t posture and ensure the children know they’re children. As is always so tempting when their mien of superiority gets to be too frustrating. She lets them go right on thinking they’re the smartest people in the room. What parent hasn’t had that feeling while dealing with their teen? Maybe because I too am stuck dealing with tweens/teens in my real like, I found her manipulation of them with their own artifices superbly satisfying.

I did feel sorry for Ivy. She wanted to desperately to be loved, not too unlike all those teens. But her sister just wasn’t capable of it. I really hope the open ending, with the possibility of happiness on that front comes to fruition for her.

Interestingly, this could be read as a parable on the importance of providing access to safe contraceptives and/or abortions. There are certainly some interesting reflections of life and death, beginning, middle, and end of life going on in the book.

All in all, a winner for me.

 

 

Review of Practical Magic, by Alice Hoffman

I borrowed an audio copy of Alice Hoffman‘s Practical Magic through my local library. I finished it several days ago and forgot to write the review!

Description from Goodreads:

When the beautiful and precocious sisters Sally and Gillian Owens are orphaned at a young age, they are taken to a small Massachusetts town to be raised by their eccentric aunts, who happen to dwell in the darkest, eeriest house in town. As they become more aware of their aunts’ mysterious and sometimes frightening powers — and as their own powers begin to surface — the sisters grow determined to escape their strange upbringing by blending into “normal” society.

But both find that they cannot elude their magic-filled past. And when trouble strikes — in the form of a menacing backyard ghost — the sisters must not only reunite three generations of Owens women but embrace their magic as a gift — and their key to a future of love and passion.

Review:

If you’ve seen the 1998 movie by the same name you know the plot of this book. It was fairly loyal to the book. Though the book isn’t quite as intense as the movie, preferring a more modulated and thoughtful tone that I very much enjoyed. I appreciated the realness of the sisters, especially when contrasted with the everyday occurrences of magic in their and their ancestors’ lives. I thought the writing was lyrical and the narration on the audiobook lovely to listen to.

Review of Land Mammals and Sea Creatures, by Jen Neale

I won a copy of Land Mammals and Sea Creatures, by Jen Neale through Goodreads.

Description:
Almost immediately upon Julie Bird’s return to the small port town where she was raised, everyday life is turned upside down. Julie’s Gulf War vet father, Marty, has been on the losing side of a battle with PTSD for too long. A day of boating takes a dramatic turn when a majestic blue whale beaches itself and dies. A blond stranger sets up camp oceanside: she’s an agitator, musician-impersonator, and armchair philosopher named Jennie Lee Lewis — and Julie discovers she’s connected to her father’s mysterious trip to New Mexico 25 years earlier. As the blue whale decays on the beach, more wildlife turns up dead — apparently by suicide — echoing Marty’s deepest desire. But Julie isn’t ready for a world without her father.

Review:
Do you have a book club? Does it like to read those kind of obscure books that put metaphors and symbolism over…say, making sense and calls itself meaningful? Yea, that’s Land Mammals and Sea Creatures. I can see some literary book clubs that appreciate teasing out nuances liking this.

Me? I really just wanted to know what was happening with the animals and why no one seemed to investigate it, why JJL was so all knowing as a child and then as an adult, what was happening at the shows, and why no one ever tried get Marty into therapy if he’d been suicidal for almost 30 years. I actually really like Magical Realism, but I’m not willing to let it explain away everything. I still want answers in of some sort in the end.

I thought the writing was pretty. I love the cover. I liked some of the characters, especially Alan (the probably gay friend of Marty who’d spent Julie’s whole life stepping up to father on the side). But overall this book was a bust for me.