The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan

9781101890585audiobook
The Gracekeepers
By Kirsty Logan
Narrated By: Katy Townsend
Publisher: Random House Audio
ISBN: 9781101890585
Unabridged: 11 hr 20 min

Synopsis:

As a Gracekeeper, Callanish administers shoreside burials, laying the dead to their final resting place deep in the depths of the ocean. Alone on her island, she has exiled herself to a life of tending watery graves as penance for a long-ago mistake that still haunts her. Meanwhile, North works as a circus performer with the Excalibur, a floating troupe of acrobats, clowns, dancers, and trainers who sail from one archipelago to the next, entertaining in exchange for sustenance. 

In a world divided between those inhabiting the mainland (“landlockers”) and those who float on the sea (“damplings”), loneliness has become a way of life for North and Callanish, until a sudden storm offshore brings change to both their lives – offering them a new understanding of the world they live in and the consequences of the past, while restoring hope in an unexpected future. 

Inspired in part by Scottish myths and fairytales, The Gracekeepers tells a modern story of an irreparably changed world: one that harbors the same isolation and sadness, but also joys and marvels of our own age. 


(New) Thoughts

Callanish is a Gracekeeper, charged with seeing that those who have passed are given to their final place of rest in the ocean. She resides on an isolated island resigning her lonely life to a form of punishment for a mistake once made in her past. North travels by ship with the circus Excalibur working to sustain a living and living with her own burdens. When fate entwines the path of these to women, it will soon shed a new light on their opposing worlds and events past.

There are a few elements that when utilized properly can create a genuinely unique and rewarding story. The Gracekeepers catches two of these brilliantly in its superb delivery of magical realism and a floating circus.  My love for this story actually makes it rather difficult to place my experience into words. This is the type of tale that requires savoring and personal exploration. It is as complex as comfortable. I will not attempt to dissect the plot-line for this review, but instead briefly summarize my own feelings.

While sporting a more limited ensemble of characters, they are not without heart. I found Callanish and North to be of great interest and quite honestly, endearing. Though I will admit that their growth felt slow at times, and I found myself drawn more to the world Logan has created. Divided between the land and ship dwelling inhabitants, the damplings and landlockers create an enchanting and atmospheric read that blends fairytale and folklore beautifully. For all of the sorrow and loneliness presented, there is something of great delight to be discovered within The Gracekeepers that will be an individualized experience ranging from fascination to borderline confusion at times.

Logan’s writing is immersive and  with a poetic prose, promising a unique and magical encounter.  Accompanied with Katy Townsend’s smooth narration, each alternating perspective transitions seamlessly. Finding a permanent home in my bookish heart, The Gracekeepers offers something rare and unusual for fans of magical realism and folklore alike.

Untitled design Enjoyed with a nice cup of lavender tea with a hint of vanilla.

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A Million Junes ~ Buddy Read

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A Million Junes
By Emily Henry
Publisher: Razorbill
ISBN13: 9780448493961
Pages: 350
Genre: YA Magical Realism/Fantasy

Synopsis:

For as long as Jack “June” O’Donnell has been alive, her parents have had only one rule: stay away from the Angert family. But when June collides—quite literally—with Saul Angert, sparks fly, and everything June has known is thrown into chaos.

Who exactly is this gruff, sarcastic, but seemingly harmless boy who has returned to their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, after three mysterious years away? And why has June—an O’Donnell to her core—never questioned her late father’s deep hatred of the Angert family? After all, the O’Donnells and the Angerts may have mythic legacies, but for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them.

As Saul and June’s connection grows deeper, they find that the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers seem to be conspiring to reveal the truth about the harrowing curse that has plagued their bloodlines for generations. Now June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored, and she must decide whether it’s finally time for her—and all the O’Donnells before her—to let go.

buddy

This was another buddy read with Debby @Always Booking,  She puts up with me so well ❤ Staying true to our normal approach, we have chosen to exchange 5 questions regarding our time with the book and share our responses followed by our own personal thoughts. You can and should read Debby’s final thoughts here.

My Questions to Debby:

1.If you had to describe A Million Junes in 3 words, which would you choose?Unexpected, romance, besties.

2.There is a lot happening within this plot that is centered around something much larger than Saul and June. Did you take a particular message or meaning away from the story?
This is going to be so hard to do without spoiling the whole thing.. but in the words of Frozen… “Let it go… Let it go!!!!”  You just gotta let all that old crap go. You will be better for it (much easier said than done btw).

3.How would you describe Henry’s writing and character depiction?
I felt a real connection to her writing for the most part which is a very good thing for me. I loved her character depiction, I love knowing a lot about the characters, it helps me build the world better. Although I always miss something and end up making the character look how I want so sometimes it doesn’t matter.  However I think she did an amazing job!

4.About that ending, can you sum up how it felt for you without divulging spoilers?
 I feel it was a bit rushed but definitely resolved.  I feel towards the end of the book she wanted to put so much more into it like she had 8000 ideas and only 100 pages.

5.Would you read more by Henry and who would you be most likely to recommend this book to?
 I’m not sure if I would read more, it just didn’t stick out to me as a must read more of this author, I did enjoy it I just didn’t think it was a must have.  If I had to recommend it to someone, definitely a person who is into magical books with infinite possibilities.

My Answers to Debby’s Questions:

1.Okay not going to lie.. I read like a thousand reviews after I finished this book and everyone keeps comparing June and Saul to Romeo and Juliet.  I uhm completely missed that in the book.  Did you get that vibe??? Star crossed lovers and all???  It felt more Hatfield and McCoy vibe to me.
I can see comparing it to the Hatfields and McCoys scenario with maybe slightly less hostility. I think it was the general idea divided rivalry amongst families with the added element of love that people are attributing to the Romeo and Juliet comparisons. I didn’t walk away with those feelings but I guess I can see how some might. I have seen it labeled as a retelling and feel that is a stretch for myself, but maybe it was?

2.Do you think that Emily Henry weaved a solid story line or was it to all over the place for you?
I am trying to answer this without spoilers. I really did feel that her execution was splendid until the end. The last 25% of the story felt misplaced and disjointed. I am still coming to terms with the conclusion.

3.I really enjoyed the thought of two people being there for each other in grief, even though they couldn’t do anything for each other.  How did you take Saul and June’s little saying to each other??
I appreciated the realistic approach they took with one another. It takes a deeper understanding and respect to be that honest and straightforward without feeling the need to offer someone false reassurances and comforts during difficult times. Too often people feel this obligation to say or do something when there is nothing that can really be done. Sometimes people just need to be and accept. That Saul and June were able to acknowledge this states a lot about them as individuals.

4.Was there a specific part of the book that you really enjoyed or did not enjoy??
I don’t know that I had a favorite part exactly. I enjoyed the encounters with the whites and the revelations of their family histories. Henry’s writing and ability to incorporate magical realism is incredible. It was such an atmospheric read for me.

5.Were you able to connect with the characters? Or was it difficult for you?
They were credible enough and often relatable in terms of emotions and struggles. While there was the heavy element of spirits and magic, Henry maintained viable actions and reactions with the characters that made it easy to connect with them.

My Final Thoughts..

A Million Junes is an intoxicating read. Henry’s poetic prose and unparalleled approach to magical realism creates a surreal and dreamlike experience that lingers long after the final page. Smooth pacing and seamless storytelling facilitate an immersive and somewhat fast read.

My only very minor complaint might lie within the conclusion. I will admit that I did not find it disappointing, but somewhat disjointed and perplexing. It felt almost out-of-place. I think Henry was attempting to express a lot in a limited amount of time. I am still attempting to absorb the final events and draw a more solid opinion. But it is the best books that continue to make us think after we put them down, so that says something.

This is sure to be a satisfying read for fans of magical realism and forbidden love.

Untitled design Enjoyed with a nice cup of Chamomile and a spoonful of honey.

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A Nice Brew & Something New: Visions of a Dream Excerpt


(New)A Nice Brew & Something NewA Nice Brew & Something New
 is a feature that allows me the opportunity to spotlight books and authors that are new to myself and the blog. 
Nothing tops a nice cuppa and new book to explore! Today I am pleased to feature something truly unique to the blog, an excerpt from Justine Johnston Hemmestad’s Visions of a Dream. 

(New)TheBookVOAD Cover
Visions of a Dream

By Justine Johnston Hemmestad

Visions of a Dream focuses on the spiritual fire that ignites Alexander the Great’s actions as he learns from the other cultures he comes into contact with. His closest relationships vie for his love but they also provide the steel he needs to be sharpened spiritually and emotionally, for before he conquers the world he must first conquer his own mind. He is inclusive of all people, all cultures, and all religions and he lives that belief. Alexander’s relationships with his fellow man knows no restrictions, nor does his love of the sublime.
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  (New)ExcerptVisions of a Dream

Deep beyond the cascading waterfalls of the palace stood a marvel of engineering, a wonder of architecture, a dreamland that asked only to be stepped into. For centuries it had beckoned to admirers of no less dwindling numbers to be quenched by its river of beauty, like a road of diamonds sparkling in the sun so that a soaring bird might be tempted by the illusion of luminance and swoop down to drink in.

Slowly, he stretched forth his arm and lay his hand, palm down, upon the marble that was so smooth it may have been mistaken for a drape of Eastern silk. A thin, translucent sheet of water slid over his hand with a chill, pleading with him to become part of this ancient city in more aptitudes than inner knowledge.

He glanced up, toward the umbrella of plants and trees that were as though a sunburst after a storm. He could only imagine how much more lush this mountain garden was in the Spring.

“My ancestors consorted with God here, long ago.”

Alexander whirled around. “Who are you – announce yourself,” he demanded of the man who could not yet be twenty years. “Wait, I did not intend to frighten you, young man, come back. I am interested in what you say. Who are your ancestors and what do you mean by ‘consorted with God’?”

The man raised his head and returned to his previous bold stature before Alexander, cornering a respectfully mild grin. “That,” he answered, “is another story, for another time and place, for all those around you have forgotten.” Alexander took a breath, glanced to the trickling waterfall, the sound of the surging river in his ears, plummeting through his thoughts. But the young man added, “There are those who have tried to remind you, as I am to remind you.”

“What is your name?”

“I am Daniel, of the same name as my ancestor.”

“I have heard of him…from someone else.” Continue reading “A Nice Brew & Something New: Visions of a Dream Excerpt”