Customer Reviews: Wish (Wish (Quality))
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VINE VOICEon January 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a story that transcends reality and makes the reader feel as if they are personally involved with the characters. We are not separated by pages and words in a book. We are engaged and vested in the fate of our character. This is the book that you stay in bed to read a bit longer, and this is the book that you clear your schedule to treat yourself to a quiet afternoon.

I am giving this book 5 stars because Bullen's writing is clear and articulate, and it is a story well-told. I think that she could have written sappier, but she didn't. She respects her readers enough to make this a real story with a magical element. Bonus: I was pleasantly surprised to find out this was set in San Francisco, with the ability to make this book a travelogue for a newbie in town.

In response to some feedback about the drinking in the story, I thought Bullen hit the nail on the head with her description of the children of wealthy parents who attend an exclusive school in a very open city. Teenagers experiment and when they have their own cars, keys to the summer home, and free reign, they are going to emulate adult behavior. It's what they've seen, and it's what they know. These are cues teens pick up from the adults in their lives. Does that mean Bullen is encouraging underage drinking? No. She is simply an observer who is writing about teen behavior. That's what makes this a real story. There is no sugar-coating here. Teens who want to experiment are going to do so.

Onto the story itself:

As the story unfolds, we learn that Olivia has been uprooted from all that she knows to find herself in a new school, in a new state, and without her fearless twin sister to help navigate the social mores. Her parents are distant. Her first friend at school exists only because their two moms work together, and - worse than that - he wears squishy mushroom-colored loafers. And then she sees a boy. One who meets her eyes and smiles like he knows her. But, of course, he is dating the prettiest and most popular girl at school.

In her complete and utter loss, Olivia does the very best she can with what she has. She finds a tailor, Posey, who can fix dresses to suit the wearer in a way that is unexpected. In fact, Olivia has no idea that her bad night had a purpose, and her wish to see her sister again is about to come true. It is only in re-tracing steps and asking questions that Olivia realizes what a gift she has been given.

So, if you had just one wish...what would you wish for?
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on January 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
When I read the description of this book on Amazon Vine, I was curious. It sounded like a very interesting and unique premise for a book. I couldn't wait to start reading it.

Now let me state up front that I am 33 years old, I don't know if 33 is still considered a young adult or not. So it's entirely possible that I am not part of this book's intended demographic. But I have read and enjoyed a variety of other young adult books, so I don't think that is the major problem.

Honestly, I found this book to be repetitious and dull. It was difficult to get through. I never really got "pulled into the story." I wasn't all that excited to find out what was going to happen next.

My major complaint with this book has to do with the characters. I didn't feel that any of them were especially well-developed. In fact, they felt often rather cliched. There is Posey, the mysterious and odd dressmaker, Calla, the popular and beautiful rich girl, Violet the free-spiritied rebel, and Olivia, the awkward, reserved social-outcast, and Soren, the cute, skateboarder/musician. I didn't feel that there were any truly strong characters in this book. For me, the characters fell very flat.

I also thought it was rather strange the way Violet returned to Olivia. In fact, I found it not very believable and somewhat creepy. I think it would have been better if we could have watched violet interact with some of the other characters. It would have been much more interesting if Violet had been angry about being brought back.

In the back of the book, there is a little blurb about donating it to children in need. That's a wonderful sentiment, but I don't know if I would feel comfortable passing this novel on to a child. There is a smattering of profanity present, and I just think that the story might be too complex and overwhelming for a child.

I don't think I will be reading any future works by this author.
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VINE VOICEon January 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Olivia's rebellious, beloved twin sister Violet has died, and Olivia's parents have moved the family across the country to San Francisco to start again. Olivia would love to start her life again in a new city and a new school, but her life seems to have been put on hold when Violet died. Then one day, Olivia meets a mysterious seamstress who makes her a dress which grants her dearest wish, though perhaps not precisely as she would have wanted.

I can't say that I enjoyed _Wish_ especially. The writing is awkward and full of clichés and poor word choices. The magical element doesn't work with the rest of the plot at all; it's just a creaky mechanism to get Violet back and never believable in and of itself. The concept of Violet-as-ghost is potentially interesting, but poorly executed: for example, on one page, we learn that she can't affect anything physical, while soon afterward, she's flipping through a magazine.

On the plus side, the relationships between Olivia and her new friends are fairly well done. She gets in the middle of a breakup, and the angst around that feels real and actually worked better for me than the more fantastical elements of the plot. By the end, I felt as though there was a decent book about grief and moving on somewhere in there, but it's simply buried too deep in the labored writing and the tacked-on magical elements.
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VINE VOICEon December 13, 2011
Things are a little tough for Olivia right now. Her family has moved, partly in order to help themselves heal with the death of Olivia's twin sister, Violet. Olivia is starting a new school, and tries to make some friends, but finds herself wishing she still had her sister. Suddenly, Violet appears to Olivia, and helps her learn that sometimes, when wishes are made from the heart, the come true, and they come with consequences.

Who among us has not made a wish or two? Most of the time they are frivolous, but occasionally, our hearts ache for something with such longing. That is why it is easy to relate to this book. I found that in terms of the targeted young adult audience, this book was well conceived. The characters sound like real teens, and encounter real teen scenarios and dilemmas. I liked both Olivia and Violet's characters. Death of a sibling, particularly a twin, could be devastating for a teen, and I liked that this book centered around such a touch topic, using light humor to soften the blows.

I was a little troubled by the behavior of some of the teen characters, and the fact that there were no consequences for the drinking and sneaking out, but that is part of what makes the story more true to the life of a teen. We all know they encounter that kind of stuff all the time. I think that many adult readers would have a hard time connecting with the book, since it is so focused on the teen world, but for the intended audience, I think the book is great.
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on November 8, 2014
This appears to have been written for the teen and young adult audience. It is been a long time since I left that age category, however I certainly thoroughly enjoyed this book, despite its target audience. It was a refreshing view into what I remember was a very turbulent time in the average young girl's life. The main character is sweet, torn between the loss of her sister, and the gain of new friends and a new love... throw in a little magic, and maybe she can learn to live a little!
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VINE VOICEon January 18, 2010
Olivia hasn't quite been herself since the death of her twin sister Violet. When her parents decide to move what's left of the family across the country to San Francisco, Olivia feels awkward both at home and in her new school. Without her lively sister to forge the way, Olivia doesn't know how to start her new life. When Olivia stumbles upon a small dressmaker's shop and learns that the dress she gets there is somehow magical, the sky's the limit, because with the dress, Olivia also gets a wish, a wish that could bring her beloved sister Violet back. And with two more magical dresses at her disposal, it seems all Olivia has to do to make her life perfect again is wish. But Olivia has to be careful because magic isn't the solution to everything, and what she thinks she wants may not be what she needs to be whole again.

Wish is a cute story of when fairytale collides with real life. Olivia is a grieving, scared girl who's nothing without her twin sister. However, through a very unique fairy godmother, Olivia is allowed more time with her dead sister. Olivia's tale is sad but ultimately sweet coming of age story of loss and learning to stand on one's own legs. It's about making the right choices and fixing mistakes, and it's a story that's extremely accessible because of how easy Olivia is to relate to. Her character may seem uninteresting at first because of her overwhelming grief, but Olivia quickly proves to be a thoughtful and well intentioned girl. Her insecurity and fear of moving on makes readers genuinely care for her. Wish may not be the most romantic or exciting story, but it is one that will touch readers and bring a smile to their faces.

Wish will be enjoyed by fans of traditional fairytales and fairytale retellings as well as by those who liked Saving Zoë by Alyson Noël and A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell. I look forward to more writing from this promising new author.
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VINE VOICEon January 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
There's nothing that Olivia wishes for more than for her vivacious twin sister Violet to be alive again. Olivia is quiet and hesitant, and she is having a hard time adjusting to her new school in San Francisco. When she takes her sister's damaged dress to a dusty seamstress's shop, she doesn't get Violet's dress back, but a gorgeous magical dress that grants wishes instead. Olivia uses her one wish to bring her sister's ghost back, and is overjoyed. As Violet helps Olivia fit in and attract her crush's attention, Olivia grows more confident every day. But Violet can't stay with her forever, and there are still two other dresses (and wishes) left...

Alexandra Bullen's debut, Wish, is an imaginative and layered read. Bullen really makes what might be a tired and overworked premise and turns it into something magical and entertaining. There are many points of conflict though, enough that the book never feels boring or slow, but they are perhaps just slightly overwhelming. Olivia is dealing not only with her sister's death, but her parents' withdrawal and constant arguments, moving to a new city and trying to fit in, all the while juggling three magical dresses, making friends with the popular group, falling for her new friend's ex-boyfriend, and keeping her friendship with her mom's co-worker's son platonic. It's a lot to take it, and occasionally Bullen drops the ball with one or two of the aforementioned issues, but everything comes together neatly in the very end.

It's sweet to watch Olivia's transformation as she learns to step away from her grief and the shadow that Violet left behind and function as her own person. Violet herself is very much alive throughout the course of the book, making Olivia's pain and grief more tangible to the reader. The other supporting characters are surprising but realistic, and make Wish a very entertaining read. Bullen's descriptions of the San Francisco area are also excellent, and she really makes the reader feel right at home, in both Olivia's home and neighborhood; the only thing that seemed unnecessary was the mention of large amounts of alcohol toward the end. The ending has a little bit of a surprising twist, but everything comes together neatly as friends make up and Olivia's family moves toward closure. This is a very sweet, poignant, and entertaining novel, and despite how busy the plot is, readers looking for something touching with a bit of romance, humor, and magic will enjoy Wish.
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on November 22, 2013
The book was interesting from start to finish. The plot, included: happiness, sorrow and a great deal of teenage angst. I thought the story was enjoyable for teens and adults. The emotions, both happy and sorrowful, were well written. As an adult, I went back into time and remembered myself as a teen. The device of having Olivia' s dead twin return as a ghost was ingenious. Violet, the dead twin, gives great detail about Olivia' s younger years. She has returned. because Olivia has Wished her back. To suspend reality and believe in Magic is very easy. The author treats magic as an everyday happening and makes you believe.
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VINE VOICEon March 15, 2011
The funny thing about this book is that it takes place in San Francisco (wait, let me finish...) and I started reading it as soon as I moved to Orlando so imagine how homesick this book made me! The way that Alexandra described San Francisco always felt like I was back home. Standing at the Embarcadero Farmers Market (I love the Ferry Building), I felt like I was there with both Olivia and Soren during their adventures through the city together.

Olivia was a very easy character to relate to. She misses her sister, she stumbles on this really odd opportunity, she makes friends and her love life! I couldn't help but feel bad for Olivia, for all the things she had to go through but as you're reading on, in the back of your mind you know that is all necessary for her to help her grow and for her to get over losing her sister.

I couldn't really connect with Violet. Even though she was "there" it didn't really feel like she was there. In Twenty Boy Summer it felt like Matt was there, even though he wasn't. Does that make sense? I am jealous of how carefree and fun Olivia made Violet out to sound though! I loved Soren (and how cool is his name?!). He seemed like a really cool guy and I must admit, every time he was in a scene, I couldn't help but keep turning the pages.

Wish in all, was a cute read. Even if it was based on Olivia's grief with dealing with the loss of her sister and her parents falling apart it was still a really cute read and very realistic (well, minus the wishes coming true part). And while Soren did keep me turning pages and while I did love the way Alexandra described San Francisco... I didn't find myself reaching for this book constantly or striving to finish it any time soon. I liked it, but I didn't love it. I'm still looking forward to reading Wishful Thinking though!
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on March 3, 2011
Reviewed for [...]

I happened on this book almost accidentally, as Amazon had it available for free for Kindle as some sort of a promotion. I downloaded it, and promptly forgot it. I found it again while looking through my Kindle for something to read on my way home from Germany.

Olivia and Violet were twins, but very different. Where Olivia was quiet and studious, Violet was rebellious and exciting. This book starts a few months after Violet dies, with Olivia and her parents struggling to cope with her loss.

After they move across country to San Francisco, Olivia has even more trouble coping with her new school. Shy and withdrawn without her sister, she has trouble connecting with the teens in her new school, especially the ultra-cool ones. Her parents are no help. Her mother has thrown herself into her high-powered work, and her father putters about the house doing endless projects, but neither seems able to focus on Olivia.

A chance visit to a small and highly unusual shop leaves Olivia with an opportunity she cannot pass up. She has the chance to make three wishes come true, and there is no doubt in her mind what her first wish will be.

Unfortunately, there are three wishes, and the latter two are much harder. Therein lies the story, and it is a clever use of the classic three-wishes scenario. Should she wish for the handsome and cool Soren to notice her? Should she wish for something for someone else? Olivia learns a lot about herself and life as she tries to make those decisions without causing disaster.

I found the book charming and compelling, and there might have even been a tear in my eye at the end (but I'm an old softie). It isn't perfect. Some situations are resolved too easily, and I wish the author had developed the side characters more, but I would still strongly recommend this book to teens who like romance. (Parental note: there is some teenage drinking, although it is not celebrated, just realistic.)

Four stars out of five.
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