Monday, January 22, 2018

How to Hang a Witch (How to Hang a Witch #1) by Adriana Mather

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Age Group: YA
Pages: 368
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: 28 July 201y

Salem, Massachusetts, is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials—and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves the Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were?

If dealing with that weren’t enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real, live (well, technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries-old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with the Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it’s Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself.

Being the history buff that I am, I was so excited to read this novel. I kept seeing the book trailer and author video all over my social media, which only made me want to read it more.  The videos left me so intrigued by the premise of the book that I built up very high expectations.  In many ways, the author, Adriana Mather,  surpassed my expectations, in other ways I was left feeling disappointed.

While I had high expectations I was not sure what to expect when I first started reading the novel.  I wasn't sure if it was going to be some kind of paranormal historical fiction or if it was going to be a paranormal romance.  I was pleasantly surprised that while history is important to the book it takes place in present day and uses the past to make parallels to the present.  I personally thought this was a very unique and intriguing way to use history as a plot device.

One of the things that I liked most about this book was the setting she created.  Mather created a world that was so vivid, the description of the homes and the town really gives the reader feel for what Salem looks like in the modern day.  This coupled with the creepy atmosphere that she creates as the reader gets further into the book lend for a visually appealing read.

The characters in the book were rather hit or miss for me.  There were times that I really liked the main character Sam, and there were other times that I felt she was childish and bullheaded.  Then there was the love triangle--if you can call it that.  I personally am just so tired of the cliche that is the love triangle.  It is so overdone in young adult literature, and this one, in particular, was poorly constructed and just felt forced.

The other big miss for me in this book was the fact that many of the characters simply felt too juvenile for me.  I oftentimes felt like the characters were being childish simply for the sake of being childish, and this got on my nerves multiple times throughout the book.  There were some points through the book that I had to sit back and remind myself that the characters are young high school students and not adults.  After trying to alter my mindset a little it did get better.

In total, I did really enjoy this book.  It was by no means a perfect read, and I really had to put myself in the right headspace to read it.  But it was a fun easy paranormal read, that while part a series can easily be read as a standalone.  I think this would be a perfect fall read for a younger audience.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Book of Ivy (The Book of Ivy #1) by Amy Engal

Image result for the book of ivyAge Group: YA
Pages: 304
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Publication Date: 11 November 2014

After a brutal nuclear war, the United States was left decimated. A small group of survivors eventually banded together, but only after more conflict over which family would govern the new nation. The Westfalls lost. Fifty years later, peace and control are maintained by marrying the daughters of the losing side to the sons of the winning group in a yearly ritual. 

This year, it is my turn. 

My name is Ivy Westfall, and my mission is simple: to kill the president’s son—my soon-to-be husband—and restore the Westfall family to power. 

But Bishop Lattimer is either a very skilled actor or he’s not the cruel, heartless boy my family warned me to expect. He might even be the one person in this world who truly understands me. But there is no escape from my fate. I am the only one who can restore the Westfall legacy.

Because Bishop must die. And I must be the one to kill him…

Finally, a dystopian novel that hasn't let me down! I have always loved dystopian novels, but I have been in a bit of a slump with them lately.  All of the recent dystopian books I have read lately have started to feel too similar and have left me feeling unimpressed, until this book...

Due to this slump, I really did not have high expectations for this novel but Amy Engal managed to blow me away.  The book was beautifully written with amazing characters and an even better plot.  Amy Engal paced the book beautifully, the book does not drag nor did it feel rushed. It was just perfect, the plot itself has many twists and turns and a killer cliffhanger.  For those of you who hate cliffhangers, I recommend having the sequel on hand so you are not left in suspense as I currently am.

Overall the best part is definitely the characters.  The main character Ivy is torn; on one end there is her family, the mission she must finish; on the other is Bishop, the man she is meant to kill but instead finds herself loving.  Yet in spite of this, she manages to be a strong and brave and to think for herself. Ivy was so multidimensional and realistic; I found her to be the kind of character that I as a reader could connect with.  For me, she was a refreshing break from the usual wishy-washy love-struck YA main character that is so common in recent literature. Besides from Ivy I really loved Bishop.  He is everything that a romantic interest should be compassionate, respectful, and patient.  His character was a nice change from the cold, aloof, and emotionally stunted love interest that is all too common in young adult literature. 

Overall, this book was amazing.  It really has it all, an interesting world, a great plot, amazing characters, and a beautiful romance. I am so excited to pick up the sequel and see what happens next for Ivy and Bishop.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Somebody Else's Summer by Rachel Bateman

Image result for somebody else's summer rachel batemanAge Group: YA
Pages: 320
Publisher: Running Press Book Publishers
Publication Date: 9 June 2017

Anna's always idolized her older sister, Storm. So when Storm dies in a tragic car accident on the night of her high school graduation, Anna is completely lost and her family is torn apart. That is, until she finds Storm's summer bucket list and decides to honor her sister by having the best summer ever—which includes taking an epic road trip to the coast from her sleepy Iowa town. Setting out to do everything on Storm's list along with her sister’s best friend Cameron—the boy next door—who knew that Storm's dream summer would eventually lead to Anna's own self-discovery?

While this book is definitely outside of my usual reading tastes, I did find myself enjoying the story.  Rather than the depressing read I had expected, I found it to be a touching story about dealing with grief and finding one's self after the loss of a loved one.  The novel itself is about 300 pages, however, it is a very quick and easy read.  I could see this book being perfect for those who want an easy summer read that still has some depth to it. 

 Much of what I liked about this novel comes from Rachel Bateman's writing style.  Her writing is very clean and allows the reader to breeze through the book without feeling confused or needing to re-read sections of the novel.  The author manages to write very poignant scenes without making the entire book feel bleak or depressing, and her writing style lends to the characters feeling authentic.  The characters have flaws, particularly the main character Anna, who sometimes could seem a little selfish and moody, but to me this just made her feel more realistic, I found that it made sense for her to have misplaced anger and mood-swings directed at the other characters as she was still trying to figure out how to deal with the death of her sister. 

The only negative I really have for this book is that it is not very innovative.  The plot, while sweet and well written, does not have a unique or amazing plotline.  Much of the book felt too easy, and to coincidental to be realistic.  I personally just found it hard to believe that a spur of the moment could unfold so perfectly.  

Is it the most exceptional of reads, no.  However, it is a stand-alone novel that requires little commitment on behalf of the reader and would be perfect for someone who is looking for a fun summer read that still deals with an important topic.  

Monday, August 14, 2017

Clear Your Shelf Giveaway Hop!

School is starting, and it is time to create some room on my bookshelf! To do so I am giving away four novels.  This hop will have two winners, the first will get their choice of two of the books pictured below, the second will get the remaining two books. Both winners will be chosen via Raffelcopter.  (US only)

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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Curse of Stars Blog Tour

Curse of Stars
Donna Compositor
(Diamond Crier #1)
Publication date: February 19th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Sabi Perez is the last Diamond Crier, only she doesn’t know it. Not until a crazed ruler from another world comes to collect her priceless tears and won’t take no for an answer.
Living in New York, Sabi’s seen some nasty things, but the lengths to which her captor will go to keep his crown are things found only in the darkest nightmares. Afraid and alone, Sabi finds solace in her cellmate, Anya, and Cabal, a fellow Crier who also has powers, a rare combination that buys his favor from the ruler. Only it’s a favor he doesn’t want.
In a fit of rage, power erupts out of Sabi, the same power Cabal has, and a spark of hope ignites. Together they may have a chance at escape, something no other Crier has done. Except a ruler hellbent on draining them of every last diamond tear isn’t their only hurdle. If they escape they’ll be hunted to the ends of the earth, if they survive the trek to safety. If they stay the ruler will leech them dry. Sabi would rather die trying than lie down and die, even if that means running away into even more danger.
“. . . vividly imagined and deftly plotted dark fantasy . . .” BookLife Prize in Fiction

Author Bio:
Donna has been writing since she was in the single digits when she first realized she needed to do something about all the thoughts in her head. After a stint with bad poetry she finally found her way to novels, mainly of the young adult fantasy variety. When she’s not cranking out more stories she works a regular 9 to 5, reads anywhere from 2 to 3 books a week, drinks copious amounts of tea, eats way too much, and makes her own beauty products because her skin turns into a sentient hive if she uses anything else. This is mostly because she lives in the desert where the air siphons water clean out of her. She lives with a man named Steve and several quadrupeds: three cats named Renfield, Sam, and Dean; and a MinPin named Malfoy.

Fingers dug into her arm and she was yanked to her feet. She grunted as her skin pulled under the man’s grip and she stumbled when he dragged her along the corridor.
“Where are we?” she asked, her voice echoing on the dark stone around her. A well-worn carpet laid under her feet, track marks running the length of it. “What do you want with me?”
“Normally I wouldn’t have the patience for stupidity,” he said without looking at her. “But seeing as how you haven’t lived in Raydin for more than a decade I’ll abide you this.”
“You’re so kind,” she said as she tried to jerk her arm free.
No dice. Instead the man swung her around and slammed her back into the stone. Precious air rushed out of her lungs and panic made her gasp, wheeze, scramble to bring the air back in.
“There is no escape, Sabina. Rest assured, you’re here for life. However long that may be.”
“Why?” She sneered at the immaculate face in front of her. Not a hair out of place. Not a blemish anywhere on his skin. She wanted to rake her nails across his perfection. “Why did you kill my papa? Why did you chase us out of our home?”
He smiled then, a look that crawled up his face and failed to reach his eyes. “Your home, little Crier, is here. Far south from this castle. That’s where your parents ran from the first time. Alas, they couldn’t run forever.”
Sweat broke out on her forehead. She didn’t understand, but Papa said the same thing. They weren’t from a world that had New York. They were from somewhere else. Nausea swirled in her stomach.
“I have all the powers of the stars,” he said as he brushed a piece of hair from her face. She jerked away from his touch. “Well, not all. Most. Most my family took from the Giver when they deposed him centuries ago. He was such a pacifist. It was almost too easy. All that power he just gave away to filth in this kingdom. Such a waste. We stopped that, though. We just couldn’t get diamond tears.”
Sabi’s head spun. “I don’t understand.”
The man frowned and leaned away from her. He yanked her off the wall and continued walking down the corridor. “No, I imagine you wouldn’t. We couldn’t throw a successful coup without money. Lots of money. We had it, of course, but not enough. Not enough to sustain us. With the Giver’s powers, especially diamond tears, our problem would be solved. Instead we were still at his mercy, the decrepit old man.”
No, she wanted to say. That’s not what she meant. She understood why power-hungry people wanted power and money. What she didn’t understand was this Giver, his powers. What this all had to do with her. Her back throbbed. Bruises formed knots along her spine and she already felt their ache.
“It worked out for us and for him. While he’s stored away, nice and safe, he keeps doling out diamond tears and we merely collect those with the power. If he stops, the slaughter of his people would be on him. You understand? Sabina, I asked you a question.”
Sabi choked on the answer and finally said, “Yes.” It was a lie, but this man didn’t seem like someone who was used to hearing no.


Friday, February 24, 2017

As You Lay Dying Tour

As You Lay Sleeping
Katlyn Duncan
Published by: HQ Digital
Publication date: February 22nd 2017
Genres: Thriller, Young Adult

I did it all for you…

Cara’s boyfriend is dead.

When fingers start pointing at her, she knows she’s in more trouble than she originally thought. Because Cara can see that something isn’t right.

As her carefully constructed life begins to crumble, Cara isn’t sure who she is anymore.

But maybe that’s exactly what someone wants her to think…

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

Author Bio:

Katlyn Duncan was born and raised in a small town in western Massachusetts. Her overactive imagination involved invisible friends, wanting to be a Disney Princess and making up her own stories. Her bibliophile mom always encouraged her love of reading and that stayed with her ever since. Even though she works full time in the medical field Katlyn has always made time for books, whether she is reading or writing them.

Katlyn now lives in southern Connecticut with her husband and adorable Wheaten Terrier and she is thrilled to finally share her stories with the world.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

Excerpt: “For the last time, tell me what family she was assigned to and I will untie you.” The portly, balding man in the chair had nearly sweated through his shirt. My request had been simple enough. Yes, the adoption had been closed. The caseworker wanted to protect the girl from knowing about her past and the lowlifes who’d created her. Calling them parents would have been too kind. But that was fourteen years ago and it was about time I found her. “I’m being reasonable here,” I said, lifting the knife from inside my jacket. It had the sheath on, but the threat achieved the desired effect. He mumbled something. “What was that?” “All of the files from that year were scanned into our server.” He indicated the computer on the desk next to him. “I assume it is password-protected?” “Yes.” I placed the knife on the desk, but his eyes never left my face. “Benjamin, was it? Make this easier on yourself and give me the information I need and I will leave you unharmed.” My patience was waning, and I didn’t want to be in the presence of his rank body odor for an extended period. He rattled off his username and password, and I entered them into the prompts. I searched the database for her birth name. There were two girls with that name, but only one of them was born in Tennessee. There was little information about the girl. The fire that killed the mother would have destroyed any important documents, but I knew they didn’t hold onto anything of importance regardless. “There’s a reason these cases are closed,” Benjamin said. “They are to protect the child.” I glanced at him over my shoulder. “That is your job, isn’t it? To protect children. What about those who needed protection and were denied?” He blinked rapidly, tracks of sweat dripping from his brow and into his eyes. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Please let me go.” “Once I get what I need I will.” I looked away. His relief would accompany him in death. I printed the information I needed and closed out of the file and signed out. If the system was monitored, I didn’t want anyone finding him before I was long gone. I crossed the room to the water bubbler and took the powder-filled packet from my pocket and dumped the contents into the paper cup. I filled the cup with water; the powder dissolving quickly. I went to Benjamin, placed the cup on the desk and untied him. “You’re sweating like a pig. Here.” “Thank you,” he said staring at me. I was used to the stares; they didn’t bother me as much as they used to. I handed him the cup. He chugged the liquid greedily. It wasn’t his fault he was going to die. It was an unfortunate circumstance that he had been working late when I arrived. I couldn’t risk his identifying me to anyone. His death would be swift, merciful. I picked up the rope and coiled it around my arm, then shoved it in my bag and lifted the strap over my shoulder. “Goodbye, Benjamin.” He opened his mouth to say something but, instead of words, a wet gurgle filled his throat. I watched him clutch his chest and seize for a few moments before he went still. I pushed his rolling chair so he was situated under his desk. They would say he had a heart attack. No one would be the wiser. I slid the papers from the printer into a large envelope, giving them the care they needed for my travel to Chester Bay, Connecticut.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Ignite (Midnight Fire #1) by Kaitlyn Davis

Age: YA
Pages: 194
Publication Date: 9 October 2011
Price: FREE

When Kira Dawson moves to South Carolina, she meets Luke, a blond goofball who quickly becomes her best friend, and Tristan, a mysterious bad boy who sends shivers down her spine. Kira knows they're keeping secrets, but when she discovers Tristan's lust for blood and her own dormant mystical powers, Kira is forced to fight for her life and make the heartbreaking decision between the familiar comfort of friendship and the fiery passion of love.

From bestselling author Kaitlyn Davis comes a paranormal romance perfect for fans of Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, and Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Ignite is the first book in the Midnight Fire series and it is approximately 65,000 words.

*warning a very small spoiler in the review. *

This novel is just too similar to so many others in the young adult genre.  From the moment I started reading, the novel reminded me of a sad rehashing of twilight. Young angsty teen moves to new school, check; she befriends the “odd” group, check; she develops an infatuation with a young brooding man in school, check, brooding man is not what he appears to be, check; and finally, a book full of clichés, check.  What sets this apart from twilight, is that the romance seemed not only cliché but very forced.  The entire time she was brooding over her love for Tristian, I was trying not to bang my head against the wall.
If it were just the romance and the cliché of the novel I could have read it as light and easy read, but I could not get past some of the obvious inaccuracies this book contained. In the novel, the main character miraculously remembers her parent’s death at an opportune time, even though she was only an infant at the time.  This just struck me as very far-fetched. Some might argue that she is technically a magical being, therefore might be able to retain memories earlier, however, the author never made mention of any other abilities than to channel the sun.  The girl seems to be an average human other than this one ability, and I just found it impossible that she would suddenly regain this memory, and have such clarity about said memory.  My other gripe was toward the end of the novel she is coming out of a coma and seems physically fine.  She seems completely normal, and the coma does not seem to have affected her in any way. I asked some of my family members who work in the medical field if this was usually accurate.  After three months in a coma, she would more than likely need to have some form of physical therapy.  However, I will give her that the coma was induced by her powers, so maybe that is why she came out fine. For me, however, it was just a little too perfect. 
All this aside, the book is free.  So, while I was hard on the book, and it was not my cup of tea, that does not mean that it might not be a fun read for someone else, and it will not set anyone back if they decide to try it.  I still hold out hope that I will like the next book, and will try it out in the near future.