Category Archives: Magical Realism

DNF Digest [5] – The Lonely Hearts Hotel

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I didn’t intended on making “DNF Digest” a regular thing because honestly? I always hope to finish a book! Lately, though, I’ve been more inclined to mark a book as DNF because there are just soooo many books I need to read (you’ve seen my shelves) so I just can’t afford to be pushing through books that I’m really not enjoying. If I’ve read a lot of the book I finish, it’s sort of a policy of mine to try to write a small “review” saying why it didn’t work for me, but today’s collection of DNF round-ups didn’t quite warrant reviews because I didn’t make it as far as I’d hoped.

I’ve been doing kind of well at not DNFing books lately but I have put a few on hold. Today, I’m just talking about one relatively recent DNF due to the content as well as extremely different expectations.



Title:
 The Lonely Hearts Hotel
Author: Heather O’Neill
Format I was reading: audiobook received from the publisher for review
Started reading: 2/9/17
Date marked as DNF: 2/9/17
Marked DNF at: a few chapters in (don’t know the exact due to formatting)
Reason for marking DNF: (My mini-review from Goodreads) I started listening to this audio and only made it two chapters before I turned it off. I had high hopes with nods to The Night Circus as far as timing, magic, and two orphans (and the fact that it was marketed as a NIGHT CIRCUS comparision)… But I couldn’t even make it past the beginning of the book. Only two or three chapters that only span into the first five years of the two main characters’ lives and the book was already too much for me. Trigger warnings for rape, incest, child abuse, child neglect and more within the first couple chapters. And again, this didn’t even span past the first five years of their lives. It seemed like there was way too much included for shock value and not that I made it far enough to really solidly say, but chances are that all of those horrors were not necessary for the overall plot of the book. I know this book is adult and not YA but I still don’t think that’s an excuse or allowance to include so much so fast. No matter what the target audience or age range, it just felt like overkill.

The writing and possible potential of where the story might go just weren’t enough to keep me reading and being bombarded with so many abhorrent events really didn’t make me want to keep reading. If this was the way the book started, what the heck do I have to look forward to here? It really got me down before the story even started and turned me way the heck off to the book instead of pulling me towards a emotional connection and sympathetic nature towards the two main characters.

As I do with any DNF, I checked out other reviews and they really didn’t seem too positive either. Another reviewer had finished the book and still gave it one star, citing that things really didn’t get better for our protagonists so I surely wasn’t going to stick around for that. If I couldn’t handle the beginning, I couldn’t bear to read a whole book like that.

Maybe check out reviews before picking this one up, but seriously beware of all of those trigger warnings if you’re sensitive to any of them. I’m usually able to stomach quite a bit but they all immediately turned me off and had quite a depressing start to a book that I was expecting to be magical.


This book just really didn’t work for me on many levels and even if the triggers weren’t overwhelming for me, I just am not in the mood for such a painfully dark and serious read at the moment. Thank you the publisher for the review copy of this one and sorry it didn’t work out!

Bone Gap – Laura Ruby

Bone Gap – Laura RubyTitle: Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
Publishing Info: March 3, 2015 by HarperCollins
Source: Borrowed from Hoopla
Genres: Young Adult, Mythology, Magical Realism
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 11, 2016

Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?
Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.
As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap—their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures—acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.

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BONE GAP has been highly praised and sounded incredibly intriguing, often being marked as “magical realism” by several of its readers, so when I saw the audiobook pop in my options from Hoopla, I knew I really wanted to read it! I’ve been getting into magical realism more and more lately and it sounded like something I was definitely in the mood for, especially with its positive feedback.

I guess the biggest thing that stuck with me after finishing the book is that I’m not really sure in what category to put this book! It ended up being on a sort of Raven Cycle plane where it’s kind of magical realism, kind of mythology, and kind of its own genre. BONE GAP felt like took a while to get to the “magical” parts but there were some things that were constantly developing that finally blossomed into their full potential towards the end of the book, sort of causing that magical reveal. I do have to say, though, that I was hoping for a bit more of that throughout the beginning and middle. It definitely had a unique feel and was unlike anything I’ve ever read but I still struggled — as I have with a lot of books lately — in feeling connected to the overall concept in the earlier portions of the book.

The ending of the book seemed like a little too much at all once. The portions of the book with Roza were certainly leading there, and the reader is fully aware that what’s happening to Roza certainly isn’t normal, but the ending almost left me with more questions than answers in some respects. One big issue I also had with this book was my own interpretation of the synopsis.

Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised.

I accidentally took this statement literally, and with so many mentions of magical realism, I was assuming that the gaps were literal gaps in the corn field — like a Field of Dreams sort of concept — and people ended up disappearing. I mean, the town is named Bone Gap so I thought the gap was literal. Whenever I have misinterpretations like that, it really takes me a while to adjust, so that was more of a personal problem and I had to really refocus.

The bright, shining piece of this book for me what the interesting cast of characters! Finn, Sean, Roza, and Petey are such complex and interesting characters, with many different relationships to tie them together. I loved all of the different forms of love that are included in this book and how many different layers there were to each one. Each personality was so different too! The characters all have their strong points and each one really helps the others learn and grow. It’s a beautiful, tangled web and I really enjoyed each character that the book featured!

BONE GAP was cleverly written and wonderfully layered. The whole concept (aside from the magical aspects) was built upon a reveal that I didn’t even see coming until it was almost revealed and it was wholly unique and a little heart-breaking. I was impressed with Laura Ruby’s creativity, depth, and ability to plot out the whole book in ways that I hadn’t imagined. I always feel like it’s super impressive when I’m able to be caught off-guard because being an avid reader, I’ve just read so many different things that it’s always impressive to see even more originality in a book.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Incredibly unique concepts. I love being able to read a book unlike anything else I’ve read before! In a blogging world where I’m constantly looking for read alikes, it’s very, very cool to read something that I can’t even compare to anything else.
Left Me Wanting More: Clarity. I had the minor (well, maybe more than minor) issue that I misinterpreted the synopsis and unfortunately, it did affect how I read the book. I also had the moments in the book itself where I just wanted a little bit more information on the world and the details.

Addiction Rating
Try it

Sadly I didn’t love this book but I also didn’t dislike it. It was a smooth read from start to finish but I do think that some things could have been described a bit more. Others have totally loved it though! I’m definitely interested in reading more from Laura Ruby and I’m excited to see what else she comes up with!

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BOOKS LIKE BONE GAP

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    SHADOWLANDS

Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies – Lindsay Ribar

Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies – Lindsay RibarTitle: Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies by Lindsay Ribar
Publishing Info: June, 7, 2016 by Penguin
Genres: Young Adult, Magical Realism
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 12, 2016

Twin Peaks meets Stars Hollow in this paranormal suspense novel about a boy who can reach inside people and steal their innermost things—fears, memories, scars, even love—and his family’s secret ritual that for centuries has kept the cliff above their small town from collapsing.
Aspen Quick has never really worried about how he’s affecting people when he steals from them. But this summer he’ll discover just how strong the Quick family magic is—and how far they’ll go to keep their secrets safe.
With a smart, arrogant protagonist, a sinister family tradition, and an ending you won’t see coming, this is a fast-paced, twisty story about power, addiction, and deciding what kind of person you want to be, in a family that has the ability to control everything you are.

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As much as I distrust THIS meets THAT comparisons on books, I’m always intrigued when something good pops out at me. When I heard that ROCKS FALL, EVERYONE DIES was Twin Peaks meets Stars Hollow, I knew I had to read it. I just love quirky, a little dark, and small town so this book was calling my name!

I haven’t watched Twin Peaks so I can’t say how accurate that comparison is, but I really was hoping for a little bit more of that Gilmore Girls sass, snark, and clever turn of phrases throughout the book. It was entertaining throughout and did have its own sass but it wasn’t quite as snarky and clever as I hate hoped for. The concept itself was clever and the book took a few turns I wasn’t expecting, but I was hoping for a little bit more in the character development based on that comparison alone (hence why I don’t like THIS meets THAT comparisons unless you REALLY mean them).

ROCKS FALL, EVERYONE DIES was a interesting concept! I loved the magical realism concept which was great since magical realism is really hit or miss for me! It was right on that line that dances between magical realism and urban fantasy but I think it really leaned more toward the former since it’s just Aspen’s family with these unique abilities. The way the powers connected to the town and to nature were really great and I love how it seemed fairly straight forward right off the bat… until the book digs deeper and then everything becomes even more meaningful. I loved Lindsay Ribar’s ability to tell a story on so many levels and then bring you even further into the book than you were expecting.

Aspen’s character was wonderfully complex and I appreciated his struggle with morality when it came to using his abilities. Aspen is able to “take” things from people and this could mean many things — a physical feature (such as a mole or scar), a personality trait (competitiveness), or a fondness/affinity (a love of the water). His ability to do these things, especially without the subject’s knowledge, really brings in a level of morality that we never have to worry about contemplating. The magic to “take” gives Aspen a power that’s higher than human will. Even if he takes a thing that a person finds a negative thing about themselves, is removing that fear/embarrassment/ailment making their lives better or simply avoiding a problem that could make them a stronger person? Does he help improve someone’s quality of life or does that change destiny? It was a really interesting moral argument and I especially enjoyed this part of the book!

The characters had a delightful amount of quirk to them. The families were a bit eccentric, the love interest strong and independent, and the history between everyone long and complicated. The small town setting was really fun and I love how it makes everyone’s relationships that much more complicated. I was hoping for just a few more witticisms — mostly because I just had that expectation set up in my mind about the tone of the book — but it was a solid read and I definitely want to read more from Lindsay Ribar! 
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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Magical Realism. The cool thing about magical realism is how different it can be and yet still be the same concept in so many books. Each book I’ve read that I’d place in a magical realism genre is so different and I’m really loving the different concepts that I’ve read so far! The first few I read were more misses so I’m really excited to see so many more that I’m connecting with lately!
Left Me Wanting More: Wit. I just love snark! And I love witty and clever and snark coming from a male main character. I don’t know why but it’s just SO much fun when male narrators — especially in YA — are clever and funny. I think maybe because I like the funny guys so I just really gravitate towards those books!

Addiction Rating
Read it

This was a solid read! I didn’t fall totally in love with it but again, I think that was maybe due more to expectation than actual content. It was a strong book with some really great history and backstory. The characters were unique and quirky but not overly so.

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BOOKS LIKE ROCKS FALL, EVERYONE DIES

(Click the cover to see my review!)

HOLD ME CLOSER, NECROMANCER    WHITE CAT

10 Things I Felt About This Book | The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

I remembered that I hadn’t yet written a review for THE RAVEN KING (nearly two months later) and when I sat down to write it, I just couldn’t put this book into real sentences. THE RAVEN KING was full of so many moments, so many things, and so many swoons that I just really had a hard time organizing them into long strings of perfectly formed paragraphs. Instead of struggling, I decided instead to switch over to my non-traditional review format with “10 Things I Felt About This Book” and let the feels fall where they may!

10 Things I Felt About This Book | The Raven King by Maggie StiefvaterTitle: The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4) by Maggie Stiefvater
Publishing Info: April 26, 2016 by Source: Audible, Amazon
Genres: Paranormal, Magical Realism
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 29, 2016
Related Posts: Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls #1), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2)

For years, Gansey has been on a quest to find a lost king. One by one, he’s drawn others into this quest: Ronan, who steals from dreams; Adam, whose life is no longer his own; Noah, whose life is no longer a lie; and Blue, who loves Gansey… and is certain she is destined to kill him.
Now the endgame has begun. Dreams and nightmares are converging. Love and loss are inseparable. And the quest refuses to be pinned to a path.

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10 THINGS I FELT ABOUT THE RAVEN KING

  • TERRIFIED. Oh boy, I was just plain terrified to read this. The end of BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE left me with so much anticipation AND I hyped myself up for it so I was nervous that somehow it wouldn’t live up to my expectations.
  • IN LOVE. I am so head over heels for this gang. I’ve never read a friendship that was so amazing and so all-encompassing like it is for Blue and her Raven Boys. Too many times, someone starts to get jealous and it ends up fracturing a friendship and while that was still present in this series (naturally. It happens to the best of us), it was taken to a level where the characters didn’t want it to affect the friendship and they did everything they could to keep the group together instead of letting jealousy take over. I love how much these characters wanted to be together and how important they were to one another.
  • IN DENIAL. THE RAVEN BOYS starts off with the prediction of Gansey’s death so it’s no spoiler that it’s heavy in everyone’s minds during THE RAVEN KING. I was in total denial that it would even happen so I pretty much spend the entire book convincing myself otherwise even though Maggie said it was definitely happening.
  • ACTUALLY FEARFUL. There were some ACTUAL scary moments in this book! I don’t read books about ghosts when it’s taken at a horror angle. I’m way too much of a chicken. There were some very, very creepy things that happened in this book and I will not lie to you — I cried actual tears of fear. I mean briefly, but yeah, it was scary!
  • IMPRESSED. I know Maggie Stiefvater had this all sorted out before she even started but I’m always so impressed to see an author bring a series together for a great conclusion. It was really neat to see how all of the pieces fit together and see so many things from all of the previous book find an explanation in THE RAVEN KING.
  • UNPREPARED. I just really, really, REALLY was not ready for this series to end. Confession? I actually felt SUPER weird once it was over. The cliffhangers from the previous books were so intense and interesting that it was really weird to leave this book with a note of finality. I mean, obviously we needed to but it didn’t leave me with that series hangover feeling because I wasn’t ready for it to end like that.
  • SHIPPY. I won’t spoil anything but obviously in a big conclusion, we get some big ship answers and conclusions as well. I was totally feeling them.
  • ANXIOUS. The hardest thing about reading a huge series finale is that A) everyone is so in love and B) there is no ARC so everyone reads the finished copy all at the same time. In a series like this, I was especially afraid of spoilers and they were so hard to avoid!
  • HOPEFUL. The way the book ended, there was a whisper of hope that maybe, just maybe, we might get more words about this gang in the future. I’m hoping for an adult Raven Cycle book,.
  • SATISFIED. This was such a satisfying conclusion. I actually was a bit — disappointed is too strong of a word but the best I can think of at the moment — at a big moment at the end because it felt too… happy? I mean happy things happen in this book but I think I was expecting a devastating moment and it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I actually somehow hoped for it a little bit but I guess things really did work out quite well and it just wouldn’t have been the ending that it was had the book not played out like it did. Cryptic, I know, but how do you talk about the ending of a book without spoiling it?? 

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Buy it and read it, of course!

This is still one of my all-time favorite series. I really can’t wait until it’s time to re-read the whole series again knowing how it all ends!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE THE RAVEN KING

             UNDER THE NEVER SKY

10 Things I Felt About This Book | The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

THE RAVEN KING is coming out early 2016 and I’m re-reading all of The Raven Cycle on audio before it comes out. I need a refresher on details and feels before I head into the last book of the series and oh boy, are these books sure giving me a heavy dose of both!

Since I’ve already done one formal review of THE DREAM THIEVES back when I first read it, I’m switching things up a bit with a bit more feeling and a little less analyzing with “10 Things I Felt About” THE DREAM THIEVES!

10 Things I Felt About This Book | The Dream Thieves by Maggie StiefvaterTitle: The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater
Publishing Info: September 17, 2013 by Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Mythology, Magical Realism, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 5, 2015
Related Posts: Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls #1), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1), The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4)

If you could steal things from dreams, what would you take?
Ronan Lynch has secrets. Some he keeps from others. Some he keeps from himself.
One secret: Ronan can bring things out of his dreams.
And sometimes he's not the only one who wants those things.
Ronan is one of the raven boys—a group of friends, practically brothers, searching for a dead king named Glendower, who they think is hidden somewhere in the hills by their elite private school, Aglionby Academy. The path to Glendower has long lived as an undercurrent beneath town. But now, like Ronan's secrets, it is beginning to rise to the surface—changing everything in its wake.

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10 THINGS I FELT ABOUT THE DREAM THIEVES

  • EMOTIONAL. Let’s be honest. My re-read of THE RAVEN BOYS stirred up all kinds of feelings and I was prepared to be emotionally wrecked again.
  • INSIGHTFUL. I actually didn’t feel as emotionally wrecked as I had thought (though some parts just killed me — looking at you, Blue & Gansey…) but I did feel like there were a lot of answers and there was a lot more set-up for BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE which was really interesting to see having read the first three books already.
  • IN-THE-KNOW. Like THE RAVEN BOYS, there were sooo many more clues and little things that I was able to pick up on knowing what I know of the series. It was so much fun to see those things and how much more sense they make, as well as how something small really does make a huge difference! (I wonder what I’m missing that’ll be important in THE RAVEN KING…)
  • MORE CONFIDENT. One of the big things I took away from THE DREAM THIEVES during my first read was that the ending was a bit confusing. I think I just didn’t quite wrap my head around what was happening and I was so excited to be reading the book and finishing it that I think I rushed through the ending and ended up confused on the details and these aren’t books you can rush. Knowing it was coming, I paid much more attention and listening to audio really helps because my eyes can’t skip across the page and miss something!
  • FORGETFUL. Not gonna lie… I remembered the things that stood out to me and forgot a lot of the details that actually happened in this book. BUT it was that much more exciting to re-read it! Like the Gray Man. Totally forgot how his story even closed in this book!
  • CONFUSED. … at why Kavinsky’s voice sounded like Christopher Walken on this audio hahaha. It did not seem like an appropriate voice for him, but okay.
  • IMPATIENT. I just didn’t want to put this audiobook down! This series is just so engrossing and all-encompassing.
  • RONAN-CENTRIC.loved learning so much more about Ronan in the book… In a way, it made me feel less and more for him. It’s sort of like the more you know about something, the less mysterious it is BUT those moments of Ronan affection really make you realize exactly how important and extraordinary they are.
  • SHIPPY. With all of the fan art and non-canon things I see floating around Tumblr, it was definitely important for me to re-read and experience each and every one of these relationships again. Not that I have anything against non-canon things but it does muddy things up a bit in my head sometimes!
  • CONTEMPLATIVE. I just keep thinking about ALL the things we learn in this book, what we already know from THE RAVEN BOYS, and what readers will learn in BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE and omg. It’s overwhelming. HOW WILL THIS END. I also fear for Gansey. 

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Re-read it!

You MUST re-read these book if you’re a fan of the series at all. I can tell you they just get even more magical.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE THE DREAM THIEVES

     THE ACCIDENT SEASON        PAPER VALENTINE

Armada – Ernest Cline

Armada – Ernest ClineTitle: Armada by Ernest Cline
Publishing Info: July 14, 2015 by Random House Publishing Group
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 21, 2015
Related Posts: Ready Player One

Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure.
But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe.And then he sees the flying saucer.
Even stranger, the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders. No, Zack hasn’t lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he’s seeing is all too real. And his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it.
It’s Zack’s chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little…familiar?
At once gleefully embracing and brilliantly subverting science-fiction conventions as only Ernest Cline could, Armada is a rollicking, surprising thriller, a classic coming of age adventure, and an alien invasion tale like nothing you’ve ever read before—one whose every page is infused with the pop-culture savvy that has helped make Ready Player One a phenomenon.

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I’m going to be very honest for a second… I didn’t really know what ARMADA was about until I started reading it! I absolutely loved Ernest Cline’s previous book, READY PLAYER ONE, and hearing that Wil Wheaton was narrating another one of his audiobooks, I immediately pre-ordered the audio. By the time the book came out months later, I had almost entirely forgotten what the book was about but since I do like to go into books blind, it wasn’t an issue with an author I trusted!

ARMADA was exactly what I expected and quite different all at the same time. I love that it’s still a video game tie-in/base (like in READY PLAYER ONE) but it’s used quite differently in this case! It really brought the same sort of feel — along with overall tone and character personalities — that READY PLAYER ONE had but didn’t feel like a repeat of the same story at all. I actually didn’t realize that the book revolved around an alien conflict (or totally forgot since I had read the synopsis so long ago) and I actually think that was a good thing! I’m very hesitant about alien stories and tend to steer clear so I’m actually glad that I didn’t really realize that was the main plot of the book  before I started!

ARMADA was really excellently written. Considering video games and aliens aren’t really my “thing” at all, I was totally hooked and interested the whole time and Ernest Cline did a great job of really making me feel like all of this could actually happen! The balance of action, plot, and character development was so consistent and dynamic and I just found myself falling further an further into the book. I’m still a newbie to sci-fi sometimes (sometimes I have issues with really technical concepts or specific references) but the book does a great job of connecting with all audiences and on many different levels.

This is definitely a more plot and action-based book but I really appreciated the attention to characters and character relationships. I really enjoyed getting to know Zack and I especially loved his relationship with his mom. She was one of my favorite characters and I really appreciated how she was portrayed! Zack also had some really great friendships and I loved that they didn’t suffer from friendship drama just to add another conflict in the story. The plot had enough going on by itself and I loved that his friends were there for him no matter what.

Whether you’re a sci-fi fan or afraid of alien books like me, I think ARMADA is enjoyable for so many audiences! If we’re comparing, READY PLAYER ONE is still my favorite of his, but ARMADA was so incredibly enjoyable as well. I think I personally connected more with the concept of READY PLAYER ONE so that gives it the extra push!

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

I immediately pre-ordered this audio knowing Wil Wheaton narrated! He did an excellent job with READY PLAYER ONE and I loved listening to him narrate ARMADA as well! The voicing of Zack and his friends were excellent and Wil Wheaton just really embodies characters so well. He really just goes all out on the narration and I love how authentic it makes the books feel. They really just come alive!

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

armada gr updates

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Zack Lightman // Character Obsessions: Armada, video games, family, friends, the memory of his father.
Zack was a really fun character. I just love these portrayals from Ernest Cline. He just felt like such a genuine and real person and I loved how in combination with the audio, I could just see the whole thing playing out like a movie in my mind too. I really admired Zack’s courage once things started getting real and I appreciated his dedication and loyalty!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Video games & aliens. I don’t really play video games ever (do we count Mario Kart and Guitar Hero? No?) and I usually shy away from any books that mention aliens because I just don’t find them believable but somehow ARMADA had both and I just loved it!
Left Me Wanting More: Story after it’s over? I usually use this spot to say what I was missing from the book but I really couldn’t think of anything! I didn’t quite have that personal connection that I did with READY PLAYER ONE but that’s just me and my experiences connecting to a book so that’s not really anything I wished could change. I WILL say, however, that it seemed like it was left open for another book…? I’m not sure if that’s a future plan but very interesting!

Addiction Rating
Buy it! (Listen to it?)

I definitely recommend this book on audio! It’s simply fantastic and I love Wil Wheaton’s narration. I think without it, I MAY not have enjoyed the book as much just because he brings SO MUCH to the book with his voicing. I do think it’s worth the read and the buy, though, no matter what! It was so entertaining and is starting to change my pre-conceived notions about some aspects of sci-fi!

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BOOKS LIKE ARMADA

(Click the cover to see my review!)

INSIGNIA     THE 5TH WAVE

The Accident Season – Moira Fowley-Doyle

The Accident Season – Moira Fowley-DoyleTitle: The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle
Publishing Info: August 18, 2015 by Penguin
Genres: Paranormal, Magical Realism, Mystery/Thriller, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 21, 2015

Every October Cara and her family become inexplicably and unavoidably accident-prone. Some years it's bad, like the season when her father died, and some years it's just a lot of cuts and scrapes. This accident season—when Cara, her ex-stepbrother, Sam, and her best friend, Bea, are 17—is going to be a bad one. But not for the reasons they think.Cara is about to learn that not all the scars left by the accident season are physical: There's a long-hidden family secret underneath the bumps and bruises. This is the year Cara will finally fall desperately in love, when she'll start discovering the painful truth about the adults in her life, and when she'll uncover the dark origins of the accident season—whether she's ready or not.

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THE ACCIDENT SEASON was a really interesting and unique read for me! My first impressions were that it reminded me of books like PAPER VALENTINE, WE WERE LIARS, and UNSPOKEN and yet it was a book that really stood all on its own. The spooky and romantic atmosphere really brought the book to life and there were some really excellent moments all throughout!

I really loved the concept of “The Accident Season” itself. Every October, Cara and her family suffer countless accidents and injuries — even deaths — and Cara doesn’t really know why it happens. The question remains throughout the book and yes, the ending does provide an answer (thankfully)! The whole concept of it was just so interesting and shocking and curious and I really loved the answer as to why these things were happening and why they were only happening to Cara and her family.

I also really enjoyed the overlying theme of secrets. One character, Elsie, runs a “secrets booth” at school (which turns into a school project every year) so people drop their anonymous secrets there but each character in THE ACCIDENT SEASON is concealing a secret of their own and it was just so interesting to not only see those secrets revealed but also how they all tied into the main story line.  The structure was just great and I really appreciate how cohesive the story was.

I had a bit of struggle in the middle, though, I’ll admit. I was hooked from the beginning by the atmosphere and mystery presented to me but I feel like I got a bit lost in the second third of the book. My interest waned a bit — possibly when the story began to focus more on the characters than the mystery? — but it didn’t last too long because I easily fell back into that excited rhythm once all of the pieces started falling into place.

Overall, I really enjoyed THE ACCIDENT SEASON and it was a delightfully intriguing and spooky read. The book takes place during October (and Halloween) so it’s the perfect book to pick up during the Halloween season too! I can’t wait to hear the responses from fellow readers on this one!

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

THE ACCIDENT SEASON gr updates

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Cara // Character Obsessions: Family, Elsie, secrets, romance, answers.
I really liked Cara a lot! She reminded me of a few other great heroines and I was definitely interested in her story. I liked that she felt like a good balance of normal teenager and concerned sleuth once she started investigating the weird goings-on. I didn’t always love her decisions BUT I also think that’s what made her more realistic!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Spooky vibes. I really loved the whole feel of this book! I’m not a horror person by any means so I love books like this where it’s spooky and a little scary but not enough to make me run away screaming! The atmosphere was dark and suspicious and it only made me want to read more!
Left Me Wanting More: Mystery in the middle. I felt a bit of a lull in the middle of the book when it dipped more into the character’s story lines rather than the mystery. It wasn’t that I disliked getting to know the characters better but I felt like the mystery sort of stopped for a while and it had been a great momentum that paused.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This was a really interesting read and I sort of wish I had read it around Halloween time! BUT now I can recommend it to everyone else for a great spooky or Halloween read!

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BOOKS LIKE THE ACCIDENT SEASON

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PAPER VALENTINE     UNSPOKEN

Re-Read: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) – Maggie Stiefvater

Re-Read: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) – Maggie StiefvaterTitle: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater
Publishing Info: September 18, 2012 by Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Magical Realism, Mythology, Paranormal, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 25, 2015
Related Posts: Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls #1), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3), The Scorpio Races, The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4)

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.
His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

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I really fell in love with The Raven Cycle over the past few years and with the pending release of the LAST BOOK in 2016, I knew I just had to start re-reading them. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I did! (And something I highly recommend for any fan of the series!)

Re-reading THE RAVEN BOYS was such a magical experience and the book was even better knowing all of the things that I do now. It was so much fun to have insight on some little things that I’m sure I didn’t even pick up on the first go around (mostly likely because there wasn’t any significance yet). It was so amazing to relive this story from the beginning, especially having the knowledge of what happens in THE DREAM THIEVES and BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE.

The feelings once again were fantastic. I had a sort of notion in my head how things had happened in this book (after reading the other two, things sort of get muddied since obviously plots start changing and relationships evolve) and it was so great to see exactly how Blue met her Raven Boys and how these relationships started versus how they’ve developed and where these characters have ended up. The friendships and subtle romanticisms in this book are just delightful and it was so great to see the beginnings of these characters knowing exactly how much they grow throughout the series.

Maggie Stiefvater is absolutely brilliant with words. The prose is lyrical and really just flows so wonderfully, carrying the reader through book. I remember when I first read THE RAVEN BOYS, I had no idea what I was getting myself into (in a good way, of course). The only Maggie Stiefvater book I was familiar with was SHIVER at the time and the writing was much different, in my opinion, so I was a bit surprised to see how much more complex THE RAVEN BOYS was. My first read through took me just a bit to get used to the writing style but knowing the exact feel of the books now made it that much more magical for me as a re-read.

I won’t get super detailed since this was a re-read for me but I WILL urge you re-read this series as well if you’re a fan. It’s just such a wonderful experience to go through this story again from the beginning and I immediately wanted to jump into THE DREAM THIEVES! It was so hard to pace myself and not just binge the rest of the books but hey, THE RAVEN KING is still quite a few months away!

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

raven boys gr updates

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Noah // Character Obsessions: Friendship, camaraderie, subtlety.
I think the most interesting character for me to revisit was Noah (for obvious reasons for those who have read the series… no spoilers for those who haven’t). It was really fun to revisit his story again for the first time and to see how he interacted with everyone throughout THE RAVEN BOYS.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Lack of genre? I really love the blend of genres… or really lack of ability to put this series into a category. It’s not strictly paranormal or strictly mythology or contemporary or magical realism or urban fantasy. It’s sort of all of them or sort of none of them.
Left Me Wanting More: JUST MORE. I just need more, more, more of this series. I almost started the second book immediately after because I jUST COULDN’T WAIT. But ultimately I managed to pace myself.

Addiction Rating
RE-READ IT!

You HAVE to re-read these books if you’re a fan of the series! It’s so incredible to see this story start over from the beginning and relive this magic!

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BOOKS LIKE THE RAVEN BOYS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

WHITE CAT     GRAVE MERCY

Re-Read: The Scorpio Races – Maggie Stiefvater

Re-Read: The Scorpio Races – Maggie StiefvaterTitle: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Publishing Info: October 8, 2011 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Library
Genres: Fantasy, Magical Realism, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: November 1, 2014
Related Posts: Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls #1), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3), The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4)

     It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line.
Some riders live.
Others die.
    At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.
    Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn't given her much of a choice. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

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Naturally, I felt the draw to re-read THE SCORPIO RACES in October and November. It’s been a while since my first read and to this day, this is still one of the audiobooks I push the most due to its amazing narrators (Steve West as Sean and Fiona Hardingham as Puck) and of course, Maggie Stiefvater’s gorgeous prose and amazing story-telling.

A book about horse races. Not something I’d normally gravitate to much less fall in love with, but Maggie’s magical realism is supreme. There’s so much more to this book than just horse races — mythical water horses, the first girl to enter the annual Scorpio Races, a fight for the proper place in the world, bravery, loyalty, love. THE SCORPIO RACES is just the kind of book that draws you in and really gets you lost in the world that the author creates. Both times I’ve read this book, I could truly feel like I was on Thisby, watching these characters, running with the horses. I could almost taste the salt of the sea and feel the chilly November wind in my hair. Just thinking back on it now brings all of those feelings back and this book is definitely one I just love to tuck myself into.

This was actually my second time not only reading the book but listening to the audio. After reading it for the first time via audiobook, I couldn’t get it out of my head. The voice actors were just amazing and really brought the book to life. There’s no way I could read this book again and not have it be through the audiobook. It was a very familiar experience re-reading in the same format (lately I’ve been reading in print the first time around and then re-reading via audio, most often) and yet it was really a brand-new experience as well. Firstly, somehow in the this crazy reading world of mine, I had forgotten how the book actually ends. Obviously I knew it ended with the Scorpio Races themselves, but… did Sean win? Did Puck win? Did someone die? Did something insane happen? Somehow I didn’t remember the details and I don’t know how that happened but it did. That was kind of a good thing in a way though. The ending was suspenseful and emotional and like a brand new book. The second thing was that during my first read, I really wasn’t quite sure what I was getting into. I had a brief understanding of what the book was about but I really wasn’t sure what the feel was going to be like or where the story would go. It was nice to know exactly where I was putting myself when picking this book up for the second time (well, aside from the ending, apparently) so it felt much more secure and there was a lot more excitement on my part as well.

I really just LOVE everything about this book. I was a bit hesitant during my first read simply because I didn’t know what to expect. THE SCORPIO RACES does have its action but it’s also a very character-driven book. It caught me by surprise when I first read it and I felt like it took a while to get into but knowing that during my re-read and pining for these characters and the magnetism they have towards one another (and to me as a reader), I was already head over heels for the both of them and for this entire story and setting and feeling before I even started.

THE SCORPIO RACES might end up being a re-read every year book for me! I absolutely loved reading it during the months that it took place. I think the more I read this book, the more I’ll fall in love with it. If you’re looking for a great audiobook, this is definitely one I’d recommend to sweep you off your feet!

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Puck // Character Obsessions: Family, Dove, riding, the house, bravery.
I adore Puck (real name Kate). She’s brave, fierce, loyal, and so dynamic. After losing her parents, she fights to keep the family together, especially when there are so many obstacles in their way. I LOVE her ferocity and determination. She never stands down (almost to a fault) and she goes after what she wants in life. She’s just such a wonderfully strong character.
Sean // Character Obsessions: Corr, horses, racing, freedom. 
Sean — or should I call him Sean *dreamy sigh* Kendrick — MAY be one of my favorite broody characters of all time. He’s definitely broody but not in a pouty or annoying way like some male characters tend to end up. Oh, no. Sean has a reason to brood and he keeps to himself and he’s quiet but strong. (And let’s not forget the strong jawline, oh yes.) I just love him and fell even more in love with him during this read. (Doesn’t hurt that Steve West’s voice is amazing and I may be in love with him a little too.)

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Kept Me Hooked On: Magical realism. When I first read this book, I honestly didn’t even know how to classify it and then I finally read a few books with more magical realism elements and thought that might fit in. Thisby is a unique place. You almost can’t even tell in what time period the book takes place and the wonderful thing of it all is that the only magical element, really, is the presence of the water horses. It’s perfect for those who like a mix of everything and maybe just a touch of fantasy. (I also love how unique and unclassifiable Maggie’s books are.)
Left Me Wanting More: Thisby. I finished my re-read and immediately wanted to listen to it again. This book has really become so magical for me. I want more Thisby, more Sean, more Puck, more everything.

Addiction Rating
BUY IT!

I really enjoyed my first read but this is a book I will want to re-read many, many times! I fell in love with it even more this time and I think it’ll hold that same magic each time I come back to it.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE THE SCORPIO RACES

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        GRAVE MERCY       FAIRYTALES FOR WILDE GIRLS

Belzhar – Meg Wolitzer

Belzhar – Meg WolitzerTitle: Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer
Publishing Info: September 30, 2014 by Penguin
Source: BEA 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Magical Realism
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 20, 2014

    If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be  at home in New Jersey with her sweet British  boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching  old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing  him in the library stacks.
    She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont, living with a weird roommate, and signed up for an exclusive, mysterious class called Special Topics in English.
    But life isn’t fair, and Reeve Maxfield is dead.
    Until a journal-writing assignment leads Jam to Belzhar, where the untainted past is restored, and Jam can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again. But there are hidden truths on Jam’s path to reclaim her loss.

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BELZHAR is a difficult book for me to review. While I enjoyed the book as I was reading it, a few things just didn’t sit right with me in the end and it left me feeling a bit confused about what I had just read and how I felt about it. (Then again, if I actually read synopses through thoroughly AND even remembered what they were before I read the book, I’m sure I wouldn’t have had such big issues. This is, however, a THING I do since I try to leave as many twists alive in a book as possible before I start reading.)

Well, BELZHAR (the “zh” pronounced like the “J” in Jacques, for those who didn’t know!) is a bit of magical realism, which is always hit or miss for me. I’ve loved books like FAIRYTALES FOR WILDE GIRLS which has quite a bit of magical realism, but doesn’t shy away from the fantastical elements and then I find myself on the fence about books like BELZHAR which tend to stick to a mostly realistic world with a specific magical element — and I think that’s the part of magical realism that doesn’t quite work out for me. I love fantasy and I love contemporary but to mix the two in one book is a bit difficult for me. I’m more inclined to believe in the fantasy part of a story if there is more fantasy in it. If it feels too realistic, the magical elements feel too unbelievable. This of course has nothing to do with how the book was written — it was simply an element that was an important part of the book that I just couldn’t connect with as I was reading.

That being said, I actually enjoyed the contemporary romance/realistic fiction aspect of this. I actually had a lot of sympathy for Jam (well, in the beginning) because she had lost her boyfriend and she was going through such a rough time. As the book progressed, I really enjoyed getting to know her, but honestly, I liked some of the secondary characters more than I did Jam. Her despair became a bit taxing for me as I continued to read and as much as I wanted to continue to sympathize for her, by the end of the book (once we really find out the whole story with Jam and her boyfriend since she chooses not to reveal everything to her friends all at once), I was just really frustrated with the whole situation.

I just feel so CONFLICTED. I enjoyed the book as I was reading and yet, once I finished, I felt like I had all of these emotions that I didn’t feel while I was reading. It was a very confusing situation and ultimately, that really changed my overall view of the book. Those little things that just didn’t sit right with me were actually very big things once I really started to think about it so I came off totally torn.

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Jam // Character Obsessions: British boyfriend Reeve, avoidance, despair, being alone.
Oh, Jam. I really wanted to like you. I really tried… But in the end, I just didn’t think you should have been the protagonist of this story.
Once I found out Jam’s FULL story, it actually changed my feelings about her entirely. I just really didn’t like her reactions and I felt like that really weakened her character for me.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Classics? I hadn’t read THE BELL JAR but from the book, I’m actually intrigued! I love when a book gets me interested in some classics again (though let’s be honest. I still probably won’t read it.)
Left Me Wanting More: Realism. Sigh. The magical aspect of this book just didn’t seem to fit for me. I feel like it could have been done a bit differently… but then again, I have no creative feedback as to HOW so what do I know haha. Overall, it just wasn’t something that sat well with me.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

I just feel all over the board on this one. What do you think, friends? I feel like this book incites very mixed reactions amongst readers. I’d love to hear your thoughts as well!

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BOOKS LIKE BELZHAR

(Click the cover to see my review!)

        tandem   nil