January 31, 2014

Sage's Book Tour: Invoking Nonna by Sage Adderly

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If you can imagine two witches living under the same roof, but neither acknowledging the other's practice of witchcraft, then you'll be able to get a glimpse into my life. My name is Maggie, and I am a teenage witch. My mom, Laura, is also a solitary witch, but we don't talk about it. I know it sounds weird and maybe a bit impossible, but we pull it off.
-from Invoking Nonna by Sage Adderly

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Amazon | Goodreads

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Maggie Sloan is a free-spirited teenager growing up in rural Georgia. Unlike her peers, Maggie is a witch and so is her mother. In addition to normal teenager rites of passage, she must learn about her family lineage and witchcraft. Her mother, Laura, keeps a tight lid on their family secrets - like the mysterious life and death of her grandmother who passed away before Maggie was born.

Practicing the craft will test solid friendships and introduce Maggie to new realms. While seeking the truth about herself and her family, Maggie is faced with danger from churchgoing classmates who will stop at nothing to make sure she is found out. Laura and Maggie strengthen their bond through witchcraft and work together to overcome their enemies. Are their magical gifts enough to keep them safe?

I don't have a lot of experience reading paranormal, so Invoking Nonna by Sage Adderly was a little bit outside my comfort zone; however, it was an enjoyable read with a lot of themes common in YA literature that made it completely identifiable to me as a reader, no matter the genre. While Invoking Nonna could be classified as your standard YA coming-of-age story about a teenager dealing with friends, family and identity issues, the special twist is that Maggie is a witch and she must come to terms with that and how it affects every other aspect of her already complicated teen life.

I found that the real heart of this story are the mother-daughter relationships, which were my favorite parts. I enjoyed seeing how Maggie's evolution into witchcraft opened up her relationship with her mom, Laura, so much that the adjustment almost seemed painful in reflection of how cold and closed off her mom was before. Their commonality of being witches creates a whole new relationship for them. I look forward to seeing how this is fleshed out in the sequels and if there will be more understanding for why Laura guarded herself from her daughter before. Additionally, Maggie is able to learn more about her family, especially her grandmother Sophia, than ever before. I really enjoy how Sophia's history is presented as a journal that she left behind; this was a very creative way of lending her a voice amongst the narratives of her daughter and granddaughter. I also look forward to learning more about Laura and Sophia's mother-daughter relationship and how it shaped Laura to be Maggie's mother.

The characters I didn't care for very much were Maggie's friends. Even Ruby, who the reader is supposed to love, was not as likable as I feel was intended; she felt very dull and one-dimensional. Ruby kind of annoyed me while the other friends amongst Maggie's group were more interesting despite being less likable. Another problem I had with the friends is that I didn't find their chapter point-of-views necessary. I would have preferred only hearing Maggie, Laura and Sophia's perspectives; I think readers would be able to decipher what the minor characters' perspectives contributed to the story through Maggie and/or Laura's retelling of the events. It might have even seemed more mysterious and fulfilling.

While I didn't love the characters of the friends, I did appreciate what they stood for in the craftmanship of the book. Aside from exploring the relations between the women in Maggie's family and the difficulty growing up a witch, this book explores spirituality versus religion; more specifically witchcraft/Wicca versus Christianity. I was a little bit nervous about this because I'm an inclusive Christian and was worried this book might smear religion as a whole using the label of Christianity. But it doesn't do that at all; in fact it uses Maggie's friends to show that not all are created equally under the blanket of religion: As Christians Ruby symbolizes the loving nature of religion and Gillian symbolizes self-righteous religion. Even Rhiannon seemed to present a well-intentioned albeit misguided symbol of religiosity. For this, I appreciate the minor characters in the story, I just wish I enjoyed reading about them as much as the mother-daughter storyline.

I really enjoyed the premise and ideas explored in this story, especially with all of the loose ends that excite me to hear what will happen next. However, there are a few things I think could be improved upon. First, I didn't care for the dialogue in this story, there wasn't enough use of contractions so it didn't sound like real people talking. Even the narrative could have used a more casual voice or else be changed to third-person. It felt very sterilized, like it wasn't a real person telling the story. Secondly, I didn't find that the different point-of-views sounded distinct; they all sounded like they were the same character. For as many narrators as there are, I hope the next book infuses some personality into their distinct narrative voices.

Overall, I think this is a great beginning to an exciting series. I especially enjoy the idea that one must navigate through their past to enhance the experience of the present. I think Maggie has a lot to learn from her mother, Laura, and her grandmother, Sophia. As someone who doesn't ordinarily read paranormal YA, I can recommend this as a great book to get your feet wet in that genre. It's even piqued my interest to read more paranormal books!

Bottom Line: If paranormal YA isn't your thing, this book is still a safe bet for the themes of identity, family, friendship and spirituality. It handles religion respectfully and looks to be the beginning of a great series! 3.5/5 stars

About the Author:
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Sage Adderley is a single (and very busy) mom of three humans and one cat. She is passionate about kindness, coffee, mental health, fat activism, and the DIY lifestyle. Sage is the owner of Sweet Candy Distro & Press, Sage's Blog Tours, and writes the zines Tattooed Memoirs and Marked For Life. She is also the creator of FAT-TASTIC! Sage currently resides in the magical land of Olympia, Wa.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a great book! I will add it to my wish list. :)


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