Thursday, 24 April 2014

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

This post contains a review and a bookish manicure.



The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
Published March 27, 2014 by Walker Books AU
Source: the publisher
Rating: 4 stars
From the blurb: Foolish love appears to be a Roux family birthright. And for Ava Lavender, a girl born with the wings of a bird, it is an ominous thing to inherit. In her quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to join her peers, sixteen-year-old Ava ventures into the wider world. But it is a dangerous world for a naive girl - a world which may view her as girl or angel. On the night of the summer solstice celebration, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air and Ava s journey and her family s saga reaches a devastating crescendo.
The title of Leslye Walton’s debut novel, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, perfectly sums up the story within: it is at times strange and magical, beautifully written, and full of sorrow. Ava’s narrative starts out in France, moves to Manhattan, and finally ends up in Seattle. At the age of thirty she decides to look into her family history and it is this story she shares with us, starting with her great grandmother, known to her descendants as Maman.

The beginning of the novel focuses on her mother and grandmother’s earlier lives, the death and heartbreak that came with being a part of their family, and finally the relocation to Seattle and the opening of the family bakery. It was a slow moving introduction but it laid the foundation for the rest of Ava’s story.

For me the story really took flight once Ava starts leaving the house she has been confined to. Ava was born with a pair of wings, her twin Henry was not, but he chooses not to communicate verbally most of the time. Viviane, Ava’s mother, feels it’s better than the twins stay home for fear they will be abused or talked about, and Ava has no issue with this until she is persuaded by her friend Cardigan, and her brother, Rowe, to join them late at night at a gathering at the lake.

There was such a strong undercurrent of sadness to this story and I had no doubt that Ava’s life, just like the women’s before her, would be touched by violence and sorrow. This has a large impact on her family and I appreciated the inclusion of her recuperation and healing process. I got the sense that luck for the Lavender/Roux family had changed for the better.

Thank you to Walker Books for my review copy.


As soon as I saw this cover I wanted to recreate it on my nails - it's gorgeous and so beautifully designed.


I started with 2 coats of Natio Turquoise. Once dry, I used a fan brush and two shades of acrylic paint to create the lines.

I outlined each nail with the darker shade of blue and striper brush.


I used a fine brush and acrylic paint for the feather.


I'm not happy with the feather, but I have major neck and shoulder pain at the moment so painting my nails was probably a bad idea to begin with. I re-did it and was still unhappy with how short it looked compared to the one on the cover, and my pain meant that instead of adding in some orange to match the cover, I just left the feather yellow. Looking back I really should have done half the feather - c'est la vie!

56 comments:

  1. I cannot wait to read this one. I actually really like the feather - it has a cool surreal quality!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

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    1. Thanks, Missie! And I hope you get to read this v.soon!

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  2. I am such a fan! Such cute nails. The colors are perfect! I got a chance to read this one too and I agree about the sadness. This family had it rough!

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    1. The family had such bad luck, right? Thanks, Shannon!

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  3. Ooh, I've had a copy of this one for a while, and I've been meaning to read it so I'm glad to see you really enjoyed it! The story sounds so interesting. And your nails are, of course, gorgeous. I think the feather looks awesome. :D

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    1. I hope you like it when you get to reading it, Rach! Thank you :)

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  4. Ooh love the nails. I think the feather turned out nice. Glad you liked the book. It doesn't sound like the best fit for me though.

    -Lauren

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  5. Thanks for the review, Mands! I was unsure as to whether or not I would enjoy this book, but I've been seeing great reviews of it, so I'm going to have to check it out. Also, those nails are divine!

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  6. I love the title for this, the synopsis sounds so interesting and cool. The cover is beautiful, as is your bookish manicure. Great review :)

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    1. Thanks, Sun! It is a v.pretty cover and title

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  7. A wonderful review Mandee, this sounds like such an interesting book & I love your nails! I hope your neck and shoulder pain eases soon x

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  8. That's amazing nail art! Love those blue nails;)

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  9. Loving the manicure as usual, some wonderful detail in here! As for the book, I read it and thought it was the weirdest thing lol. Loved the wordplay in your review.

    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

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    1. It was a strange story, but I liked the beauty in it, too!

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  10. I've heard nothing but positive thoughts on this novel, but the ambiguity of the plot - the fact that the love for this book stems from so much feeling - has left me unable to muster excitement to pick it up. I will be reading it, and hopefully soon, so I hope I enjoy it as much as you. I absolutely LOVE the blue color of your nails, though, Mandee! Gorgeous!

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    1. Thanks! And I think you could really like this, Keer! It's beautifully written and I am sure you will appreciate that!

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  11. "Strong undercurrent of sadness" is the perfect phrase from your review! I currently have this checked out from the library and I've been really excited to read it, esp because everyone seems to love it. Fab nails! X

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  12. This is one of my favorite covers out right now <3 So beautiful. I'm not a fan of magical realism books, so I probably won't be picking it up. Your nails look awesome, love the feather.

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    1. It is such a pretty cover, such attention to detail!

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  13. Love these. Nails inspired by something are the best! Not just ones that are copied. Love your blog.
    Little Red. x

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  14. I love the nails, I think this one of my fav manicures. I hear this book has gorgeous writing, but I hate that it has such a heavy note of sadness.... still I should try it sometime.

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  15. awesome nails ! my lovely blue color !! you are really true artist :-)

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  16. The cover of the novel looks amazing. As does your nails! Don't worry I think the feather looks fab! Think about it, many people (including me) dream of being able to paint nails like you do. And I'm sure doing your nails is the last thing on your mind with a hurt shoulder!

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  17. I've heard really mixed reviews about this book! I've only recently started reading magical realism, but already I'm hooked and this book caught my eye the moment I heard about it - and that gorgeous cover certainly doesn't hurt!

    You know, I think this manicure is one of my favorites. Even though you weren't too happy with the feather, it all came together beautifully - those colors, the details!

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    1. Thanks so much, Leah! And there have been mixed reviews, I think it'll surprise a lot of readers with how unique it is

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  18. I love love love how you used the fan brush technique here! I've never seen someone use the fan brush technique both horizontally and vertically it looks really nice! I'll have to give this a try sometime :)

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    1. Thanks! It was my first time using a fan brush like this and I'm defo keen to do more manicures like this!

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  19. I'm glad you enjoyed it more than I did, and I think the feather looks great, better than what I could draw on a teeny tiny finger nail. :)

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  20. Wow the nails for this cover are absolutely stunning! I have heard so many positive things about this book recently, and I somehow never knew about it before, so I'm happy to have discovered through this lovely review on your blog and others. This sounds like the kind of story that would absolutely charm me. Lovely review and nails!

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    1. I think this is a very YOU book, Lauren!

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  21. Nails as amazing as ever! I really want to read this book as well - I love magical realism when it's written well. I'm glad you ended up liking it!

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  22. Once again your nails are amazing!!! I really admire your talent as I cannot properly but a simple coat of nail polish without ruining something. Anyhow this book sounds really good and wonderful narrations are my favorite. I really hope I'll get to read this one. Great review, Mands :)

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    1. You are too kind, T! And, all you need is a bit of practice and patience and you'll be great at painting your nails :)

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  23. Wow, this sounds like a really unique and captivating read! I love how the story moves around since both France and Manhattan are both wonderful locations :-) The tone sounds really sorrowful though so I'd have to be in the right mood to get into it though. Fantastic mani to go along with it Mands ♥

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    1. It really is unique and I too loved the settings :)

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  24. Ohhh, I hope your neck gets better soon. Eh, neck/back pain absolutely SUCKS. It's like you can't really focus on anything when it's really bad. :(( The nails still look great though. And isn't the cover gorgeous?? I really didn't get on with the book, but I love the cover anyway. x)

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    1. Yes, it really interferes with life and your mood :(

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  25. I am so glad that you enjoyed this story and your nails are perfect.

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  26. Sorry to hear you were having neck pain- that's awful and I hope you're feeling better now! Internet hugs to you, Mands! x

    I was recommended this book and with the fairytale vibe and how incredibly beautiful, delicate, almost tentative it sounds, I have little doubt I will enjoy it. Also, the idea of a character being called Cardigan sounds amazing.

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    1. Thanks, Romi! I am a little better now :) And I think you would love this!

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  27. Ohhh, best nails yet! Absolutely love them.
    I've tried to start this one several times, but just can't get past the introduction. It's just not sinking in for me. I'm not fond of historical at the best of times, but seeing how much you enjoyed it, I'm.going to try again. Great review Mands and congratulations on the Aussie Twitter chat as well, it was brilliant.

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  28. I'm still gathering my thoughts on this one, because it's one of those reads that leaves you completely dazzled. Despite my scattered thoughts, I will tell you as clearly as possible why I loved this book.

    Marlene
    Top rated Fishing Lodge Alaska Sitka

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