All the Crooked Saints: A Review

Here is a thing that draws everyone to Bicho Raro: The promise of a miracle.

Here is a thing everyone fears after their first miracle: What they’ll need to do to complete their second miracle.

The strange magic of miracles has been a part of the Soria family for generations–long before the family left Mexico for the desert of Bicho Raro, Colorado.

Now, in 1962, three cousins are at a turning point where magic and action intersect.

Joaquin wants many things. He wants his family to understand him, he wants to spend time with his cousins, most of all he wants someone to hear him DJing as Diablo Diablo on the pirate radio station he is running with Beatriz from inside a box truck.

Daniel is the current Saint of Bicho Raro. He performs the miracles and he sets the pilgrims on their paths to help themselves. Despite his saintliness he is incapable of performing the miracle he needs for himself.

Her family calls Beatriz the girl without feelings, objectively she can’t argue the point. But when unexpected misfortune befalls Bicho Raro, Beatriz will have to reconcile her feelings (or lack thereof) with the logical fact of what she has to do next.

Everyone wants a miracle but when miracles go horribly wrong the residents of Bicho Raro might have to settle for forgiveness instead in All the Crooked Saints (2017) by Maggie Stiefvater.

Set in 1962 when radio waves could be stolen and miracles weren’t quite so shocking, Stiefvater’s latest standalone novel is a story of miracles and magic but also family and forgiveness. An omniscient third person narrator tells the story as Beatriz, Joaquin, and Daniel are drawn into the center of the Soria family’s tumultuous relationship to the miracles and pilgrims who shape so much of the Soria identity.

Pilgrims come to Bicho Raro hoping a miracle can change their life, or maybe their fate. The Soria family changed years ago on a lonely night when a miracle went horribly wrong. The Soria cousins–Beatriz, Joaquin, and Daniel–might be the ones to help right the wrongs of that night. But only if they’re willing to risk changing Bicho Raro and themselves forever.

All the Crooked Saints is an evocative and marvelously told story. Wry humor, unique fantasy elements, friendship, and the fierce power of hope come together here to create an unforgettable story. Not to be missed. Will hold special appeal for readers who enjoy character driven fantasy.

Possible Pairings: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert, A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi, The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore, Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor, Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff

*An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher at BookExpo 2017*

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How to Say Goodbye in Robot: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie StandifordIcelandic hairdressers are the happiest people in the world. Unfortunately for Beatrice Szabo, no one knows their secret. And Bea isn’t even a hairdresser, let alone living in Iceland in How to Say Goodbye in Robot (2009) by Natalie Standiford.

Bea is used to moving a lot thanks to her father’s professional wanderlust. But moving constantly is pretty easy once you stop getting attached to things like houses and gerbils. Finding herself in the familiar position of new girl in town (Baltimore this time) is nothing to worry about, especially since Bea knows it will only be a year before college when she can finally be alone.

It’s much worse watching her mother’s slow, embarrassing, breakdown and listening to her constant accusations that Bea is a hard-hearted robot.

Robot girls still have to go to high school where the alphabet conspires to seat Bea next to Jonah Tate–known to most everyone as Ghost Boy. A loner since the third grade, Jonah lives his life apart from the usual bustle and flow of his small private high school’s social circle.

Neither Jonah nor Bea are looking very hard for a new friend. Still they somehow manage to find each other through the unlikely common ground of a late night radio talk show featuring a quirky cast of regular “Night Light” callers. It isn’t a traditional friendship or the usual romance, but it’s definitely love.

The more Bea learns about Jonah and his tragic, lonely world the more Bea knows they need each other; that scary as it seems their friendship might finally be showing her how to be a real girl instead of a robot. But will one former robot be enough to make Ghost Boy into a solid Jonah? Do robots and ghosts even speak the same language?

Bea’s narration is a sharp-witted look at high school from an outsider’s perspective, but also something more. This book offers an authentic look at a type of friendshipnot often seen in young adult novels. There is a theory that in every relationship there is one person who loves a bit more–one partner who loves a little stronger. Standiford examines that kind of relationship in How to Say Goodbye in Robot.

Despite the seriousness of the core plot, this story is charming and surreal even at its grittiest moments. Like the Night Lights, Standiford creates a world here between waking and sleep where–if you believe hard enough–magic might be real and anything could be possible.

How to Say Goodbye in Robot is a beautifully written book. Standiford paints Bea’s simultaneously stifling and fantastical world with beauty and style deserving of its charming flap copy and enchanting cover.

Possible Pairings: The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson, Don’t Ever Change by M. Beth Bloom, Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You by Peter Cameron, Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark, Waiting for You by Susane Colasanti, Last Night at the Circle Cinema by Emily Franklin, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart, Fly on the Wall by E. Lockhart, Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta, After the Kiss by Terra Elan McVoy, The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider