Maria Dahvana Headley – Magonia Review

Magonia is about a teenage girl named Aza who has a lung disease. Aza is about to turn sixteen years old and was told she wouldn’t live this long. She has a rare, one in a million, disease that affects her ability to breathe. She is fairly grown up about it and deals with it far better than I think most teens would. She has had her breathing issue for her entire life and she hopes a cure will be found in time. On day in class Aza is daydreaming, and sees a ship in the clouds. Aza’s best and lifelong friend Jason tells her she is having a hallucination. He tells her a story from ancient history about people who claim they fell from a ship in the sky called Magonia.

Aza is a character that has great self-awareness about her medical condition.  Her attitude is a bit flippant but I enjoyed that she doesn’t take life too seriously and let it get her down. I really enjoyed the first third of the book along with the very real way the author approaches Aza’s impending death. The author writes with what feels like first-hand knowledge about losing someone very close. It is packed with emotion and heart-felt. I thought the relationship between Aza and her best friend Jason was really well done. They had the kind of friendship you don’t see often. He is the only one who isn’t afraid to speak on the topic of her death.

The history of Magonia and the ships in the sky was interesting. It felt like I was learning some secret part of history believed by an ancient civilization. The relationships between Aza and her family and Jason were really well done. I was really invested in the characters until… well no spoilers here. Without giving away too much of the story, Aza’s time on the ship was where I checked out on the book. The relationship with her ‘Mother’ on the ship in the clouds never worked for me. In addition her relationship with the other crew on the ship felt awkward and didn’t work for me either. I lost interest in the story pretty quickly. The last two-thirds of the book was a strange mix of fantasy and fairy tale along with something else I can’t put my finger on. I’m not sure if I missed the boat, no pun intended, or if this book was just too out there for me.

Book Info

Length:  325 Pages

Publisher:  Harper Collins

Release date:  April 28, 2015

To Purchase Magonia Click Here

Maria Dahvana Headley’s soaring YA debut is a fiercely intelligent, multilayered fantasy where Neil Gaiman’s Stardust meets John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars in a story about a girl caught between two worlds . . . two races . . . and two destinies.

Aza Ray Boyle is drowning in thin air. Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live. So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn’t think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia.

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—but as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war between Magonia and Earth is coming. In Aza’s hands lies fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?

John Brhel – Marvelry’s Curiosity Shop Review

Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review

They call him Dr. Marvelry and he was a legend among his fellow magicians until he retired two decades ago. Now Marvelry owns his curiosity shop which he fills with antiques, oddities, macabre books, and strange objects from people with even stranger stories. Every customer finds more than they are looking for in Marvelry’s Curiosity Shop. Each story in this collection is a short tale about a customer who is visiting the curiosity shop or has made a recent purchase. Some customers are in search of a unique item, others find them without knowing they were looking for them. A few of the stories are connected in a small way, a call back to a previous character or item from the shop. John Brhel and J. Sullivan fill Marvelry’s Curiosity Shop with intriguing and entertaining stories, many containing twists that sneak up on you. The story telling is clever and the characters are always full of surprises.

A few of my favorite stories were The Victor Talking Machine, it’s a bit of the outer limits mixed with the twilight zone. An old Victrola record player has a link to the past. It holds a message that was captured and hidden within a song. This was the first story and a great start to the book. It does a great job setting the tone for things to come. Echo’s Reflection was the next story I really enjoyed. It’s about a mirror that shows mysterious reflections of those who look in the mirror. It also shows the viewer visions, maybe one of many possible futures yet to come. This was a fun story to read and see how fast things can go wrong for anyone taking a vision too seriously. The Magician’s Complex was straight up a magic show playing out on the pages. A struggling magician buys a bureau hoping to find the perfect magic trick and soon finds the illusions are beyond his control. The Painter’s Premonition was another very cool story. An easel and paint brushes hold a bit of magic that allows a painter to remember a scene he had long ago forgotten. The Letterbox and Seams of Consequence where also on my list of favorites. I loved the twists of magic and the paranormal elements of the stories making this a fun and quick read. Brhel and Sullivan have certainly given us an excellent follow-up to their debut book Tales From Valleyview Cemetery. These two are a pair to keep an eye on and Marvelry’s Curiosity Shop is well worth reading.

Book Info

Length:  156 Pages

Publisher:  Cemetery Gates Media

Release date:  July 16, 2016

To Purchase Marvelry’s Curiosity Shop Click Here

A thrilling paranormal fantasy novel revolving around a mysterious shop owner and his shop full of hexed antiques.

Retired stage magician Dr. Marvelry prefers to stock his antique store with strange and occult items. He has always enjoyed meeting odd people and hearing their stories, the legends attached to mysterious objects. A phonograph that seemingly replays a tragedy. Fertility dolls that are more than decoration. A bedeviled mannequin. These are just some of the relics this eccentric shopkeeper has collected over the years.

No two customers will have the same experience in his curiosity shop — some walk away satisfied, others are never heard from again. But one thing is certain – when you purchase an item at this store, you often get more than what you paid for.

Follow Marvelry and his hexed objects through twelve tales of suspense, magic, terror, and transformation. Meet his new assistant, fellow illusionists, and some irregular characters along the way. Whatever macabre artifact of the human psyche you’re seeking – you’ll find something special in Marvelry’s Curiosity Shop.

John Brhel, biography

John Brhel is a writer of fiction from Binghamton, NY. He is the co-author of two books (“Tales From Valleyview Cemetery” and “Marvelry’s Curiosity Shop”), a vampire hunter serial titled “Rita’s Midnight Rides” and numerous short stories.

Follow John on Twitter at @JohnBrhel. Visit his website at