Tuesday, February 20, 2018

11:11 Wish, The Beginning Woods

35181316Tomsic, Kim. 11:11 Wish
February 13th 2018 by Katherine Tegen Books
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Megan and her family have moved to a new town in Arizona after the death of her mother, and Megan is desperate to fit in to life at Saguaro Prep. Unfortunately, she gets caught between the two girls who are running for Spirit Week captain, Rhena and Ally. Oddly, there is a cat clock very much like one her grandmother had in her kitchen, and when 11:11 hits, Megan makes a wish on it the way she once heard her grandmother do. It works, and while this is exciting, Megan is also worried and attempts to contact her grandmother, who is on a low-tech senior biking tour in France. She cautions Megan to be careful, but Megan is so desperate to be liked that she uses the magic more than she should, and suffers various consequences. Despite these, she makes several friends at the pet shelter where she volunteers, and starts to hang out with a cute boy who likes her. She also manages to talk to her father about the way he is handling her mother's death with her and her sister.
Strengths: This is a different twist on the age-old "moving and fitting in" story, and instead of a haunted house we have some magic. That was fun. A lot of the story was set at school, and althought the mean girls were over the top, I rather enjoyed the teachers. The clock is fun, and the grandmother was fantastic.
Weaknesses: If the mother had to be killed off (which was totally unnecessary. If the father was handling things so poorly, why weren't the girls in grief therapy?), the grandmother totally should have moved in with the family and been there to help Megan, because she was the most intriguing character.
What I really think: This was a solid book with magical realism, which is fairly popular, and the cover is very appealing. I just wish that more of the magic had gone RIGHT for Megan before it started to go wrong.

34138362McNeill, Malcolm. The Beginning Woods
January 9th 2018 by Sky Pony Press
Copy provided by the publisher at ALA

Max is in an orphanage, where he is hard to place because he is a Kobold-- sort of a devilish imp with sharp teeth. Despite that, Alice and Forbes Mulgan adopt him and take him home. With their loving care, he becomes more and more human, but the Vanishings that are being investigated by scientists are somehow attributed to Max's appearance. There is a pandemic of adults just disappearing, but no one knows why. Max is very interested in finding his birth parents, and gets drawn into a very complicated search for them that takes him to other, even less pleasant worlds and puts him in contact with witches and dragons in the titular beginning woods. Will he be able to find out about his true parentage and his ties to the Vanishings?
Strengths: If your readers like Grimm's Fairy Tales, especially the Gidwitz version, this is a great book to hand them. It's dark, and involves all manner of very unpleasant fantasy characters. Very dark, but the world building is exquisitely detailed, and the characters have all manner of quirks.
Weaknesses: This is on the long side, and a bit hard to follow, since there are multiple worlds and all sorts of characters.
What I really think: This is just not the flavor of fantasy that my readers request. I can see it being popular, but I just don't have the readers for it.

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