A Snicker of Magic: A Book Review

Hello!

A Snicker of MagicTitle: A Snicker of Magic

Author: Natalie Lloyd

Published: February 25th, 2014 by Scholastic Press

Pages: 320

Genre: Middle Grade / Magical Realism {is that a thing? let’s go with it.}

Source: Library / Hardcover

Series: Nope!

Summary: Midnight Gulch used to be a magical place, a town where people could sing up thunderstorms and dance up sunflowers. But that was long ago, before a curse drove the magic away. Twelve-year-old Felicity knows all about things like that; her nomadic mother is cursed with a wandering heart. 

But when she arrives in Midnight Gulch, Felicity thinks her luck’s about to change. A “word collector,” Felicity sees words everywhere - shining above strangers, tucked into church eves, and tangled up her dog’s floppy ears - but Midnight Gulch is the first place she’s ever seen the word “home.” And then there’s Jonah, a mysterious, spiky-haired do-gooder who shimmers with words Felicity’s never seen before, words that make Felicity’s heart beat a little faster.

Felicity wants to stay in Midnight Gulch more than anything, but first, she’ll need to figure out how to bring back the magic, breaking the spell that’s been cast over the town . . . and her mother’s broken heart. {Goodreads}

My Thoughts: A Snicker of Magic seems entirely too promising. From the whimsical cover to the intriguing synopsis, I figured little could go wrong with another middle grade small town story. And, while I enjoyed the book, I was neither blown away nor left with a memorable impression. Further more, I question if this will be a hit with the intended audience: elementary school readers.

Felicity Pickle and her little sister and mother never stay in one place fork long. Always moving from one home to the next, Felicity doubts she’ll be living in Midnight Gulch for long. However, when she arrives, Felicity believes her luck might change. From the variety of words she collects in the town, including the word home, to her new friend, Jonah, Midnight Gulch starts to look more and more like a place to stay. Felicity is a the type of protagonist I love to read about. She’s quirky, but delightfully so; she isn’t perfect, but I wouldn’t expect her to be. Felicity deals with a LOT in the story, and I loved seeing her grow as a character. And her word-collecting ability? I thought it was such a unique aspect to the story, and it added quite a bit of imagery to the setting.

I think what might make young readers put this down is the plot itself. For myself, I found it difficult to immerse myself in the story, and it took me a bit more than usual to finish it. With the intended audience’s smaller attention spans, the slower moving story could be the factor that makes it a did-not-finish. However, if readers can get past that “hump,” for lack of a better word, I am sure many will adore the citizens of Midnight Gulch.

The supporting characters of A Snicker of Magic had such fun backstories, even though I can’t call any of them entirely remarkable. My personal favorite was Jonah. He and Felicity were adorable together, and I love seeing strong friendships in the middle grade genre. Actually, family was emphasized as well, always a plus in my book! Not everything was perfect, but the variety of characters leads me to think that the author will only improve with her next few books {hopefully, there are some in the works!}.

Overall, A Snicker of Magic did have its pros, don’t get me wrong. The lovable protagonist and wide cast of supporting characters showed a lot of skill, but the plot, mainly the beginning, need some tweaks. It was not a loss in reading, however, because Natalie Lloyd has made my list of authors to watch out for :)

Pros: The main character was wonderful; I not only loved her narration, I also saw terrific character development. The secondary characters added much to the setting with their wacky and enjoyable personalities.

Cons: The beginning might not entice young readers right way – it might be the “deciding factor” for them.

Heads Up: A Snicker of Magic is very family friendly.

Overall: I give it 3 1/2 stars {*** 1/2}, and I recommend it for ages 11 and up.

Have a lovely night!
Bella

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Cropped & Cute

Hello!

Style SnapshotIt’s Style Snapshot time yet again! I love putting these posts together, as was the case with today’s round-up of capris and shorts. Now that we have FINALLY enter sixty and seventy degree weather {no tears have been shed over the going of winter, I promise}, I have slowly started incorporating my beloved capris back into my wardrobe. Even though I doubt I will stray too far from my denim norm, I’ve been keeping an eye out for fun patterns, textures, and colors of pants and shorts because they are just so fun to wear. With any bold piece, top or bottom, I keep the other half simpler for contrast. Some of my recent favorites are shown below; do you have any stylish capris or shorts to share?

Cropped & Cute

1 > Factory Skinny Jean in Sky Oasis from J.Crew Factory

2 > Frankie Short in Navy Eyelet from J.Crew

3 > Sunkissed Floral Chambray Shorts from Gap

4 > AE Rolled Midi Short in Pink from American Eagle Outfitters

5 > Boyfriend Jeans from Boden

6 > Ankle Grazers in Coral Reef from Boden

Have a terrific night!

Bella

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Pros & Cons / Going Rogue by Robin Benway

Hi!

Pros and Cons

Today, I’m here to announce yet another review feature! In an effort to shorten some of my reviews to just the main points {which is quite a task for me as I could ramble on forever :)}, I created “Pros & Cons,” which are simply, the pros and cons of the book. In the future, I will alternate between my review styles, so they won’t all be the same; I have quite a few reviews to write up! Anyhoo, for the first Pros & Cons, I have reviewed the second book in the Also Known As series, Going Rogue.

Pros and Cons Going RogueLet’s discuss, friends! Have you read any of Robin Benway’s books? I’ve read them all, and it’s getting harder and harder to choose a favorite.

Have a lovely night!

Bella

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loving >> week 117

Hi!

The Love ListI’ve started my last school vacation before summer, and I couldn’t be happier! I love kicking off a break right. Anyhoo, I’m loving…

Twenty Feet From Stardom1 ♥ 20 Feet From Stardom I watched this amazing documentary a few weeks ago with my family, and I am still surprised and impressed with it! I truly wasn’t expecting to enjoy the film as much as I did. The movie provided a fascinating and unique look at the lives of backup singers; it also included interviews with famous performers, such as Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Wonder. Having little knowledge on the topic before, I loved learning a bit more about the people who add so much to popular music.

Wheat Thins Popped

2 ♥ Wheat Thins Popped I have been snacking on these all week long! There’s not much to say other than that they are one of my new food obsessions :) I love packing a few for lunch or for a mid-rehearsal snack break.

OPI Brazil Collection3 ♥ Brazil Collection by OPI While I am still waiting for temperatures to warm up beyond 60, I also know that it will be summer before I know it. The current collections for sale in stores have been no help either, as everything seems to be extremely summer-y! Case in point? OPI’s “Brazil” collection, made up of gorgeous peaches and pinks, a fun yellow, and a bold turquoise, to name just a few. My mom picked a few polishes at the store to use as goodies for my family’s annual egg hunt and, because I didn’t end up with one today, I feel a trip back to Ulta is in order.

Good Books{there’s no more accurate statement! from HERE}

4Library Hauls I honestly think there is no better feeling than leaving the library with lots of new books to be read! With my school vacation this week and all, I stocked up on plenty of new reads, and I hope to get to a lot of them this week! Have you read any of the following? If so, I would love to hear your thoughts! I snagged…

  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
  • The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
  • Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
  • Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
  • Greetings from the Graveyard by Kate and Sarah Klise

Easter Bunny

5 ♥ Easter Finally, I am looking forward to celebrating Easter on Sunday! We’re keeping it low-key, which is how I like it best :) Have a most fabulous weekend! {That cute clip art, by the way is from The Jones Design Company HERE.}

Bella

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Basil Risotto with Grilled Chicken

Hello!

Risotto with Grilled ChickenA trip to a grocery store is made for me when free samples are involved. I love trying out new foods, no matter how small the sample size may be, and sometimes, I find a new meal, snack, or recipe I love in the process! :) Such was the case when I tried this risotto sample; as soon as I tasted it, I knew I wanted to make it at home as well. Risotto, by the name alone, first made me nervous, as I thought it would be complicated {cooking, compared to baking, is not something I do as often anyways}. Thankfully, my initial opinions were totally off the mark! This recipe is simple and quick to complete – I imagine it would make a perfect weeknight dinner. This risotto can also be easily adapted to fit your preferences. A few swaps of ingredients could be an interesting experience to try out! The bottom line? There are very few reasons for you not to try this, so what are you waiting for?

Risotto with Grilled Chicken Loosely adapted from Venda Ravioli

ingredients

  • 2 pound chicken cutlet, grilled at 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup white wine {obviously, have an adult buy this if you are a teen like me! The alcohol will then evaporate as it cooks.}
  • 2 cups risotto
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 pint pesto
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup canned sliced mushrooms
  • salt and pepper

to make

  1. Chop your chicken into bite-size pieces.
  2. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the shallots and garlic. Sauté until translucent.
  4. Add the wine, and reduce heat. Add in the dry risotto, and mix. Cook the rice until only the edges are translucent.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the stock over low heat.
  6. Mix in the pine nuts to the rice mixture, and increase heat.
  7. Begin adding the stock to the rice, one ladle at a time. Only add in another ladle once most of the stock from the previous scoop has been absorbed. Continue this process for twenty minutes, or until the rice is tender.
  8. Stir in the chicken, pesto, cheese, and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Serve immediately, and enjoy!

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Bella

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