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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An charming cast of characters ... the best book I've read this year
Three years ago, Gibby McGraw was involved in a car accident that took the lives of her parents and left Gibby NQR or Not Quite Right. Now twenty year-old Gibby lives with her Grampa in the small town of Cray Ridge, Kentucky, bussing tables at his diner and reporting for Gibby's Gazette, which is available for free at several local businesses. Land of a Hundred Wonders...
Published on July 29, 2008 by Shana Schmadeke

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
After falling in love with Lesley Kagen's novel Whistling in the Dark, I was eagerly anticipating this one. I fully expected it to be as charming, funny, and poignant as her first. I couldn't wait to get my hands on it and I had very high hopes.

Unfortunately I was sadly disappointed with this novel. It was nowhere near as clever as her first, and the plot...
Published on March 8, 2010 by Wendy L. Deppe


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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An charming cast of characters ... the best book I've read this year, July 29, 2008
Three years ago, Gibby McGraw was involved in a car accident that took the lives of her parents and left Gibby NQR or Not Quite Right. Now twenty year-old Gibby lives with her Grampa in the small town of Cray Ridge, Kentucky, bussing tables at his diner and reporting for Gibby's Gazette, which is available for free at several local businesses. Land of a Hundred Wonders by Lesley Kagen is the story of how Gibby tries to become Quite Right, and in the process discovers love, acceptance and that miracles do happen.

There is a lot going on in the little town of Cray Ridge, and in Gibby's life, for that matter. She sees this as the perfect opportunity to prove to herself and everyone else - including her mother who is restless in heaven, worrying about her daughter - that she is Quite Right. Her plan is to produce a superbly written, excellently investigated breaking news story about the murder of local politician Buster Malloy. Gibby found the body, and has pictures to prove it.

But things go awry when some shady local characters interfere with her plan. The disreputable county sheriff, Gibby's pot-smoking neighbor, and Sneaky Tim Ray Holloway, who can't seem to keep his hands of Gibby, much to her disgust. Thank goodness Gibby has plenty of good guys on her side. Her Grampa, gruff and wise, is completely devoted to making sure she is safe and well cared for. Her best friend Clever, despite being a little rough around the edges, would do anything for Gibby. And then there's Billy, not quite right in his own way after what he saw in Vietnam, but handsome, smart, and solid - and it seems his feelings for Gibby constitute a bit more than friendship.

This book easily rates as my favorite of 2008. If I used ratings in my reviews, this one would get a 5/5 rating, which is saying something since the majority of the books I read top out at 4/5. Gibby McGraw is the most incredibly endearing character I've met in a long time. And she's funny - so funny. Without meaning to be, which always makes a person funnier than if they're trying to be, doesn't it? Her sweet innocence and struggle to grasp the nuances of the English language - commonly used homophones and double entendres throw Gibby for quite a loop - result in some misunderstandings that will make you laugh out loud.

Besides Gibby, there are many other memorable characters in Land of a Hundred Wonders. Typically I fall in love with one or two characters in a novel - three is a stretch - but here there were so many well-developed characters - Grampa, Clever, Billy, and a host of others, from Miss Jessie who happened to be in love with Grampa to Miss Florida, who worked at the diner and made the best pies for miles around. I was completely charmed with all of them.

This book has it all, a little suspense, wonderful characters, even a love story or two. What impressed me the most was how very clever it was. The plot lines were varied, yet well developed and fully intertwined. The humor was absolutely brilliant and satisfyingly witty. Kagen's debut novel, Whistling in the Dark, was impressive, but she has outdone herself with Land of a Hundred Wonders.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laugh Out Loud, November 26, 2008
By 
D. Ebratt (Milwaukee, WI USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Funny as hell while still heartwarming,sad and hopeful! Thank you, I needed the many laughs! A genuine story of love, hate, tolerance and acceptance. Very lovable and "hateable" characters. Lesley Kagen portrayed the true flavor of the south and the year (1973)! She truly has a gift to share! I highly recommend this book as another form of anti-depressants! Thank you!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, March 8, 2010
After falling in love with Lesley Kagen's novel Whistling in the Dark, I was eagerly anticipating this one. I fully expected it to be as charming, funny, and poignant as her first. I couldn't wait to get my hands on it and I had very high hopes.

Unfortunately I was sadly disappointed with this novel. It was nowhere near as clever as her first, and the plot seemed awfully contrived and rather unrealistic to me. There were funny parts, but most of it was just pitiable. The author did her best to give a realistic-sounding southern Kentucky dialogue, but the pervasive use of "ya" in place of "you" throughout the book just got on my nerves.

As much as I wanted to like protagonist Gibby, I just simply couldn't connect with her. Her strange behaviors and thoughts just made no sense to me, and I found myself re-reading passages just trying to figure out what she was talking about.

I really can't recommend this book. And I am really and truly sorry to say that, since I was so looking forward to it. I will continue to read Ms. Kagen's works and hope that they return to the glory of her first!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!, February 23, 2009
After finishing - and being super impressed by - Kagen's debut novel, Whistling In the Dark, I anticipated the release of this, her second book with a lot of anticipation. And it lived up to it! I really enjoyed reading it - it's a lovely novel and absolutely filled with wonders - just as the title promised. Well-written, combined with Kagen's wonderful sense of humour and excellent plotting, Kagel truly succeeded here. The narrator, however, truly stole the show.Both original and charming, Kagen created a wonderfully real feeling character. She is such a talented writer, and I cannot wait to see what topic she tackles next! I am really looking forward to reading more of her work, as this was such an absolute joy to read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two for Two....., January 21, 2009
By 
Nancy L (Indianapolis) - See all my reviews
Lesley Kagen, who has recently emerged on the literary scene, has once again drawn a vivid array of characters who immediately engage her audience with a sense of both familiarity and wonder. Like Sally, the main character from Ms. Kagen's first novel, Whistling in the Dark, Gibby, the main character from her second novel, the Land of a Hundred Wonders, is able to quickly draw the reader into her world - in this case, her "NQR" world - where she is seen as "not quite right." This is due to a neurological injury sustained in a horrific automobile accident that claimed the lives of her parents three years earlier when she was just seventeeen. Gibby's injuries left her with an often child-like view of the world and those who inhabit it, yet she will constantly amaze you with her novel insights, her wit, her wisdom, and her endless compassion. Ms. Kagen's ability to capture not only the setting, which in this case is rural Kentucky, but also the depth and breadth of her "cast of characters" is a gift to behold. Her use of jargon, colloquialisms, and poetic, descriptive words and phrases almost make you want to read out loud just to make sure you don't miss any of the rich flavor she is so good at conveying in her writing. Ms. Kagen is able to deftly combine sentimentality, suspense, stereotypes, and the element of surprise into one carefully crafted novel. I encourage you to venture into the Land of a Hundred Wonders - you won't be disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jeanne, August 17, 2009
I read Whistling in the Dark by this same author, I liked the book so much I got Land of a Hundred Wonders and I liked this book even more. I love the way Lesley writes her books. As soon as I put it down I'd find myself wondering what was going to happen next and before I knew it I'd have to pick it up again! Her characters are so down to earth they are easy to connect with as though you've known someone like that before in your own lifetime.
Wonderful author, I can't wait for her next book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This was a surprisingly enjoyable book, given the subject matter., January 4, 2009
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There is comic relief throughout; several times I laughed out loud. Although the history of her injury could be ponderous and sad, Gibby's brain damage protects her (and us) from too maudlin a description of the accident. The way she twists maxims and says words incorrectly is hilarious and cleverly written. And her mental state absolves her from blame as she handles a potential rapist in a most satisfying manner. This is a good book and a fast read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Who is QR?, August 20, 2008
Land of a Hundred Wonders took place in Kentucky in 1973 and had quite a bit of mystery, and I liked that. I related a lot to the main character Gibby having certain memory problems myself. I also like the way she was written when she talked or thought. When she would forget things people didn't keep repeating things to her over and over, which can get annoying if done wrong. The book kept the pace pretty steady too ... although I will say it comes very close to being a story with a stupidity plot, where if people aren't doing obvious, stupid things, then their wouldn't be a conflict in the first place. I think the author was trying to show that, like Gibby, mostly everyone has there NQR moments and not that they were all stupid. But sometimes I did wonder... There were times the characters did things that surprised me, and then there were also some predictable moments. I haven't read many books that take place in the south, in fact the only other one I can think of is Gone With the Wind, and my only real problem with this was I didn't like how everyone seemed to not think things through. Despite that, I did find the book enjoyable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book. Read it!, November 25, 2008
By 
Clover (Knoxville, TN) - See all my reviews
I have read Lesley Kagen's other book, Whistling in the Dark. I loved it. I met some of my favorite characters in that book. Land of a Hundred Wonders is equally wonderful.
With characters you will wish were your friends, you'll want more from this story when you read the last page. Meet Gibby, an innocent and honest gal who can't remember all the details about the accident that caused her to be NQR (not quite right.) She never gives up on her journey of truth. She lets you into her thoughts while talking to other characters causing you to laugh out loud. You will also meet Billy, the sweetest, most patient man content to love and protect from afar until the time is right. Clever, the friend who never seems to make the right choices but is always there no matter what. Need a hug? Fold yourself into Miss Florida's arms. There are the characters that you will hate as well, don't worry. Sneaky Tim Ray is a horrible monster that you will want to shoot.
The plot has twists and turns that will keep you promising yourself "I'll go to sleep after this chapter."
Climb into this book, it is very much worth your time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Captivating Read!!, November 23, 2008
By 
Connie Kittleson (Mequon, Wisconsin United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This book is full of characters that come to life so vividly that you feel you can hear, see [and in some cases, smell] them! Lesley Kagen has that unique ability to write to life characters that feel real, not contrived. In this book we learn from Gibby that to be NQR (not quite right) can take on so many variations and that we are all a little NQR in our own way. We also learn that despite suffering a traumatic brain injury a person can actually be Quite Right.
From that description I may have given you the impression that this is some touchy-feely-sappy book, but hold onto your hat because this book will take you for a ride. Mystery and suspense keep the pages flying by. Like with Kagen's previous novel "Whistling in the Dark", I could not put this book down!!
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Land of a Hundred Wonders
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