Tag: Books: Magical Realism

Review: The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly

Posted 19 November, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly: A Novel
By: Sun-mi Hwang [Chi-Young Kim (Translation), Nomoco (Illustrations)]
Format/Source: Advanced Reading Copy courtsey of Penguin Books via NetGalley

The 2-million-copy bestselling modern fable from Korea that is winning hearts around the world

This is the story of a hen named Sprout. No longer content to lay eggs on command only to have them carted off to the market, she glimpses her future every morning through the barn doors, where the other animals roam free, and comes up with a plan to escape into the wild—and to hatch an egg of her own. An anthem for individuality and motherhood, The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly has captivated millions of readers in Korea, where it is a contemporary classic. Now the novel is making its way around the world, where it has the potential to inspire generations of readers the way Jonathan Livingston Seagull or The Alchemist have. And with Nomoco’s evocative illustrations throughout, this first English-language edition beautifully captures the journey of an unforgettable character in world literature.

I think it was the book cover that caught my attention while I was browsing through NetGalley. The premise sounded interesting and whimsical and I don’t think I’ve read much Korean literature, if at all, so I was very happy when I found out that I was approved of a copy to read in return for an honest review of the novel.

The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly was a light, easy and accessible read. It reads like a fairy tale that is rich in themes but also populated with solid characters like Sprout and Greentop. It feels magical (and vaguely reminiscent of George Orwell’s Animal Farm) with the talking animals and the wonders of nature, of growing up, of life in general. Sure, it’s a fable about animals but there’s a lot of themes in this novel that the reader can relate to: of individuality, of fulfilling your dreams and fighting for what you believe in and for survival, of motherhood and belonging. I really felt for Sprout as she fought hard for what she wanted and what she believed in and was constantly put down by the other animals.

I don’t know what else I could really say about this story–it’s relatively short to begin with so I don’t want to risk spoiling a bit of it–but suffice to say it was wonderful and heartbreaking and thoughtful. The illustrations by Nomoco were also wonderful and reflects the story quite nicely. I highly recommend this novel.

Rating: ★★★★★

Learn more about the author from from Wikipedia || Order this book from the Book Depository

Review: The Great and Calamitous Tale of Johan Thoms

Posted 18 September, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

The Great and Calamitous Tale of Johan Thoms
By: Ian Thornton
Format/Source: Advanced reading copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster Canada

A wild, rollicking novel on chance, friendship, love, regret, and the entire history of the twentieth century.

Johan Thoms is poised for greatness. A promising student at the University of Sarajevo, he is young, brilliant, and in love with the beautiful Lorelei Ribeiro. He can outwit chess masters, quote the Kama Sutra, and converse with dukes and drunkards alike. But he cannot drive a car in reverse. And as with so much in the life of Johan Thoms, this seemingly insignificant detail will prove to be much more than it appears. On the morning of June 28, 1914, Johan takes his place as the chauffeur to Franz Ferdinand and the Royal entourage, and with one wrong turn, he forever alters the course of history.

Blaming himself for the deaths of the Archduke and his wife, Johan hastens from the scene, and for once his inspired mind cannot process what to do next. Guilt-ridden, he flees Sarajevo, abandoning his friends, family, and beloved in the fear that he has caused them irreparable grievance. He watches in horror as the Great War unfolds, every death settling squarely on Johan’s conscience. Turning his back on his old life, Johan does his best to fade out of memory.

But the world has other plans for Johan Thoms. As each passing year burdens Johan with further guilt for his inaction, he seeks solace in his writing and in the makeshift family he has assembled around himself. With everyone from emperors to hooligans at his side, and pursued by the ever-determined Lorelei, Johan winds his way through Europe and the Twentieth Century, leaving his indelible mark on both.

The advanced reading copy of this novel actually came by surprise in the post a few months ago from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. It came all wrapped and everything, it was such a pleasant surprise; I actually didn’t unwrap it right away because it amused me so much. But I eventually did get around to opening and reading it some time ago. This book will be available on September 24th.

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Review: The Wishing Thread

Posted 26 August, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 5 Comments

The Wishing Thread
By: Lisa Van Allen
Format/Source: galley courtesy of Ballentine Books via NetGalley

The Van Ripper women have been the talk of Tarrytown, New York, for centuries. Some say they’re angels; some say they’re crooks. In their tumbledown “Stitchery,” not far from the stomping grounds of the legendary Headless Horseman, the Van Ripper sisters—Aubrey, Bitty, and Meggie—are said to knit people’s most ardent wishes into beautiful scarves and mittens, granting them health, success, or even a blossoming romance. But for the magic to work, sacrifices must be made—and no one knows that better than the Van Rippers.

When the Stitchery matriarch, Mariah, dies, she leaves the yarn shop to her three nieces. Aubrey, shy and reliable, has dedicated her life to weaving spells for the community, though her sisters have long stayed away. Bitty, pragmatic and persistent, has always been skeptical of magic and wants her children to have a normal, nonmagical life. Meggie, restless and free-spirited, follows her own set of rules. Now, after Mariah’s death forces a reunion, the sisters must reassess the state of their lives even as they decide the fate of the Stitchery. But their relationships with one another—and their beliefs in magic—are put to the test. Will the threads hold?

The premise of this novel sounded very interesting; it didn’t hurt that the blurb also mentioned that fans of Sarah Addison Allen’s books would enjoy this novel (and if you’re a regular at my blog, you probably know that I love Sarah Addison Allen’s novels ^_~). I was approved of a galley copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This novel will be available on September 3rd.

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Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Posted 24 July, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 6 Comments

The Ocean at the End of the Lane
By: Neil Gaiman
Format/Source: Hardback; my copy

It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed – within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it. His only defense is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.

This was one of those books I have been excited for since last year when I first heard about it (and posted about it for one of my Top Ten Tuesday lists). So excited, in fact, that I bought it in hardback as opposed to my usual wait for the paperback edition. I mean, the cover’s so pretty <3 (but I heard the European hardback is cooler, there’s a design on the actual hardback cover). But yes, exciting!…

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Review: The Watcher in the Shadows

Posted 30 June, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Watcher in the Shadows
By: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Format/Source: Hardback; my copy

When fourteen-year-old Irene Sauvelle moves with her family to Cape House on the coast of Normandy, she’s immediately taken by the beauty of the place–its expansive cliffs, coasts, and harbors. There, she meets a local boy named Ishmael, and the two soon fall in love. But a dark mystery is about to unfold, involving a reclusive toymaker who lives in a gigantic mansion filled with mechanical beings and shadows of the past.

As strange lights shine through the fog surrounding a small, barren island, Irene’s younger brother dreams of a dark creature hidden deep in the forest. And when a young girl is found murdered, her body at the end of a path torn through the woods by a monstrous, inhuman force, Irene and Ishmael wonder–has a demonic presence been unleashed on the inhabitants of Cape House? Together, they’ll have to survive the most terrifying summer of their lives, as they try to piece together the many mysteries and secrets hidden in a town torn apart by tragedy, amidst a labyrinth of lights and shadows.

Carlos Ruiz Zafon became one of my favourite authors after reading The Shadow of the Wind (commentary) and I’ve pretty much have been picking up every novel of his that’s been translated since. He’s apparently written a number of young adult titles prior to The Shadow of the Wind and have since been slowly translated into English. I never got around to reviewing the first two novels in the Nieblas series, The Prince of Mist and The Midnight Palace, which is strange because I thought I did. But anyways, this title recently came out, which was exciting.

This book is part of the Books on France Reading Challenge 2013 that I am participating in.

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