Book Review: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton


Title: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
By: Leslye Walton
Release Date: March 27, 2014
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Genres: Fiction, Young Adult,Magical Realism, Romance, Fantasy
Pages: 320 (Hardcover)
Format: Hardocover
Source: Purchased

Magical realism, lyrical prose, and the pain and passion of human love haunt this hypnotic generational saga.

Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird.

In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration.

That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo.

First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.

MY RANTS AND RAVES OF The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

I have given myself over two weeks to think about this book before writing about it. And still today, I’m having a hard time comprehending or expressing how I feel. There are several elements in The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender that I love, but there is one big moment in this novel that had me screaming, “WHY?!” 

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is beautifully written. The imagery, the language, each strung together sentence wistfully gathers on the page as whispers and secrets meant to be grasped and yearned for. The prose and the magical realism elements are intriguing and beautifully sprinkled throughout this story, which is centered on a young girl, Ava, born with wings and her twin brother who rarely speaks. But when he does speak, his words are foretelling.  

Ava begins her story with hundreds of pages plotting out her family history–a history consumed with generations of love, secrets, death, marriages, beloved recipes, and ghosts. I found the meshing of past familial memories integrated with Ava’s innocent worldviews, both enchanting and overwhelming. But it is the ending of this book that engrossed me in an emotional wreck; it is an ending that is daunting, disturbing, and very disheartening.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is enamored with magical elements and captivating characters that yearn for the unthinkable–consumed with the hunger for love, miracles, and religious revelations. This novel is immersed with memorable scenes. Scenes like Ava’s tongue sparking the fire of an unleavened wafer are unexpected, complicated, shocking, but alluring. I loved this book from Manhattan to a long journeyed train ride to the state of Washington, but it is the novel’s ending that has me trying to justify my overall feelings.  I cannot rationalize the vexing ending,  but I’m quite troubled with why such a beautifully written story has such an infuriating ending.  

3 star rating

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Note:   I bought this book with my own funds. I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review; I reviewed it at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

REVIEW: Love Fortunes and Other Disasters by Kimberly Karalius


Title: Love Fortunes and Other Disasters
By:  Kimberly Karalius 
Release Date: May 12, 2015
Pages: 368 (Paperback)
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Contemporary, Magical Realism


In the tradition of Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic, one girl chooses to change her fortune and her fate by falling in love.

Love is real in the town of Grimbaud, and Fallon Dupree has dreamed of attending high school there for years. After all, generations of Duprees have successfully followed the (100% accurate!) love fortunes from Zita’s famous Love Charms Shop to happily marry their high school sweethearts. It’s a tradition. So she is both stunned and devastated when her fortune states that she will NEVER find love.

Fortunately, Fallon isn’t the only student with a terrible love fortune, and a rebellion is brewing. Fallon is determined to take control of her own fate—even if it means working with a notorious heartbreaker like Sebastian.

Will Fallon and Sebastian be able to overthrow Zita’s tyranny and fall in love?


INITIAL RAVES: Magic realism. Fate. Charms. A quirky heroine. A town infatuated with the fortunes of love. And a love to die for. So much goodness!!!

Love Fortunes and Other Disasters left me giddy and wanting more shenanigans in the town of Grimbaud. For a while, my thoughts of Kimberly Karalius’s novel could only be described in short phrases and words, and I still do not think I can do the book justice in sentence form, but I am going to try.

As a person seeking out contemporary reads but in love with fantasy/magic realism, Love Fortunes is the perfect book that interweaves both of these genres. Karalius somehow discovered an elaborate formula to perfectly combine elements of Pushing Daisies, The Night Circus, and Francesca Lia Block’s modern spin on mythical entities into one–and alas Love Fortunes and Other Disasters was constructed.

As a novel in the Swoon Reads publishing company, Love Fortunes and Other Disasters entwines different snapshots of swoon-worthy moments and memorable characters. The heroine, Fallon, is willing to fight against a love fortune that fate has given her, and change her destiny in the realm of love. As she commits to changing her own destiny, she also begins to help her friends and other people in town who are fated hopelessness and ill fortunes in their “love” lives, including the swoony, “I’m-too-good-to-fall-in-love” classmate, Sebastian.

If you are in the mood for a fun, fast-paced story about a quirky and determined female, Love Fortunes and Other Disasters is the book you are destined to read.

star rating

My Rating: 5 out 5 Stars


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NOTE:          This review was previously posted on my Goodreads account in April 11, 2015, and has been updated for my blog. I received an Advance Reader’s Copy (ARC) through the publisher in a Goodreads giveaway.  All statements and honest opinions are mine.


TOP TEN TUESDAY: If you are in the mood for…


HOSTED by The Broke and the Bookish

This week’s topic is…

Top Ten Books If You Are In The Mood For Something with Magic Realism


Bone Gap by Laura Ruby


Love Fortunes and Other Disasters by Kimberly Karalius


The Passion by Jeanette Winterson


The Rose and the Beast: Fairy Tales Retold by  Francesca Lia Block


The Love that Split the World by Emily Henry


The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman


The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern


The Accident Season by  Moïra Fowley-Doyle


The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater


Down with the Shine by Kate Karyus Quinn

Magic Realism or magical realism is one of my most favorite genres to read. They’re mysterious, enchanting, and overall, plain magical. Definitely give these above books a read if you are ever in the mood to read magic realism. 

What magic realism books have you read and would definitely recommend? 


Waiting On Wednesday: Love Charms and Other Catastrophes


Love Charms and Other Catastrophes

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that highlights pre-publication/upcoming releases that readers cannot wait to get their hands on. It is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week my most anticipated read is…Love Charms and Other Catastrophes by Kimberly Karalius

A picture of the AMAZING cover and a brief summary provided by Goodreads are below:


Goodreads’ Summary: 

Aspiring love charm maker Hijiri Kitamura was excited to come back to Grimbaud for her sophomore year-until she learns about the upcoming charm making competition. Grimbaud has just started to recover from the tyranny of Zita’s love fortunes and it would be too easy for the winning charm maker to take Zita’s place. The only solution is for Hijiri, with the support of her friends and fellow rebels, to win the contest herself.

Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done, especially when Love itself has decided to meddle in Hijiri’s life. Concerned that it’s favorite charm maker has given up on finding a boyfriend of her own, Love takes matters into its own hands and delivers the perfect boyfriend to her in a giftwrapped box…literally.

Get ready to be charmed by this magical, quirky sequel to Love Fortunes and Other Disasters. 

Waiting on Wednesday’s Top 5 Rants and Raves of why I need this book in my life…

  1.  ♥ Kimberly Karalius‘s first novel,  Love Fortunes and Other Disasters, was a well-crafted mixture of Young Adult contemporary, romance, and magic realism. After reading the synopsis, I have a strong feeling that Love Charms and Other Catastrophes is going to reflect this same powerful concoction. ♥
  2.  ♥ The romance, the characters, their motivations, and the friendships established in LFaOD were so well contructed and executed, so I can’t wait to see what the author has in store for Hijiri Kitamura’s story and the little town of Grimbaud. ♥
  3. ♥ Speaking of Grimbaud…THE GRIMBAUD LIFE CONTINUES! After reading the first novel of this series, I fell deeply and madly in love with this cute, charming, and obsessed-with-love town. Even though Grimbaud is the setting of Karalius’s novels, it is definitely a character itself. Please, can I live there?! ♥
  4. ♥ Kimberly Karalius has created a fantastical world with smart and witty characters, and I look forward to once again experiencing character dialogue and banter that is quick, clever, and, most importantly, swoonworthy.  ♥ 
  5. ♥  I have to comment on the cover. The color scheme is bright and phenomenal. But OH MY GRIMBAUD, I can not get over how cute and intricate the details are, and more importantly how accurately the people, potion bottles, etc. reflect the synopsis and setting. Well done, cover gods! ♥

Release Date: May 17, 2016 A.K.A. TOO FAR AWAY! 

Check out my review on Goodreads of the first book, Love Fortunes and Other Disasters, by clicking here