I received a copy from Netgalley. An interesting quick read with a switched at birth plot with a magical twist. A UK based YA paranormal romance.
Teenager Poppy has always been awkward and never seemed to fit in anywhere. Whenever she gets stressed, angry or upset, strange things just seem to happen. And as a result Poppy keeps getting expelled from school. Even though she has no idea what happened most of the time. Doesn’t help that her dad is a workaholic and almost never home. Her mum had some sort of breakdown and is an institution convinced that Poppy is not her daughter.
Another teen, Ember lives with a coven of witches in caravans who live off the grid and by their own female only society rules. Ember is really pretty, sweet and innocent and made fun of by the other girls. She’s by far the worst witch in the group and seems to have little to no magical talent whatsoever. Her cousin Sorrel is the meanest of the mean girls. Sorrel’s supposedly destined to be the next Queen of the Witches. Sorrel’s mom Raven is the sister of Ember’s mum Charlock. T
here’s some sort of prophecy and Raven has interpreted it to her favour. The witches only take normal men as lovers in order to become pregnant, only the girls are allowed to live. They seem to know when its going to be a boy and the mother is given a potion which kills the baby in the womb before it can be born. Raven’s been manipulating Charlock with potions and spells to make sure if she gets pregnant it’s only ever boys that she knows will never be born. Until something changes and Charlock finds herself pregnant with a girl. Raven is furious at this, she wants her daughter to be the next Witch Queen so the two of them to conspire to make Ember as miserable as possible.
Which sucks because not only is it unecessarily cruel, Ember is really nice. Very naive, but good and pure and wants to believe the best in everyone. Ember has a secret little hang out just on the edge of the witch’s property. By chance Poppy finds her way there one afternoon and meets Ember. They become fast friends, a connection sparking between them immediately. I really enjoyed the friendship between Ember and Poppy. How they connected with each other, Poppy tells Ember about her normal ever day world and even though she’s not supposed to tell, Ember tells Poppy about hers. Poppy’s world suddenly starts to make sense. She becomes obsessed with magic and witches and convinced that that is why the things around her happen as they do.
While all this is happening Poppy meets homeless teen Leo when a couple of nasty men try to mess with her. Leo intervenes and saves her. I can’t say I really liked Leo all that much. Compared to Poppy and Ember he didn’t seem to have much of a personality, he seemed like a generic love interest with a tragic background, and didn’t do much, while Poppy and Ember and the other background characters all seemed to leap off the page and to life. Leo has an instant connection with Poppy and feels like they were destined to meet. It’s eye rolling YA insta-love at it’s best. Sometimes insta-love works, sometimes not and for me, this one was just annoying.
Poppy starts spending more and more time with Leo, and eventually brings him to meet Ember, who of course having never actually met a boy before is fascinated with him. Meanwhile, Sorrel has noticed Ember’s been sneaking off to hang out with Poppy and blabs to her nasty mother. So Raven has Sorrel spy on Ember to find out where she’s going. And Sorrel spots her with Leo. Next thing you know, Sorrel is suddenly consumed with jealousy. She’s falling for Leo as well.
The plot takes a few darker twists as Poppy learns more about magic and some home truths are revealed. Silly love triangles aside, this was actually quite a good read with some interesting takes on magic. I really liked Poppy and Ember as main characters, both were quite unique and full of life. She makes some interesting choices towards the end of the book. Some of the plot twists were kind of obvious right from the start, but either way, it was a well written book and I’m looking forward to seeing where this story is going.
Thank you to Netgalley and Hatchette Children’s Books for the review copy.
I admit, I judge a book by its cover. As a graphic designer, it comes with the territory, and a habit it's too late to change at this point. Having said that, I will also say that this habit has only rarely let me down. This book had the tremendous advantage of 1. featuring the Eiffel tower on the cover (compelling for me after staying within feet of it in Paris last summer), and 2. bearing a remarkable resemblance to the cover of All the Light We Cannot See, a huge favorite of mine. While I don't condone knock-off covers, this one, with a similar type layout to Doerr's book, subliminally convinced me it was going to be good. Normally I might feel manipulated, but Colin was able to follow through on the promise I felt when I first laid eyes on this cover, so I'll forgive her (and the cover designer).
I am a fan of historical fiction, inspired by real events with larger than life characters and their creations. Before I visited the Eiffel Tower, I didn't know much about the controversy surrounding its creation, and the fear of it being an eyesore is surprising knowing what an icon it has become for the city, many years after it was supposed to be dismantled. There are a couple of plotlines going on here, and of course a little romance thrown in for good measure, but the true story does not require a whole lot of embellishment to make for an interesting tale. The politics of the drawing room and the social scene in Paris provide a backdrop for what becomes a compelling story with a surprisingly satisfying untidy ending.
I was not really familiar with Trevor Noah when this book became available on NetGalley, but the title stood out. Later, when it was still on my to-read pile, I got a "you should read this" note from my sister-in-law through Goodreads. Since this was unusual, I moved it to the top of my list.
I was at the University of Maryland during the height of the Anti-Apartheid protests, and I was a (very small!) part of the protests outside the South African embassy in DC. Nevertheless, my concept of life in South Africa was very limited. Noah's essays provide a unique perspective of a life on the fringes of so many different cultures. They are at turns heartbreaking and hilarious, for every outrageous thing Noah does there is an equally outlandish story about his mother. Mother and son are almost, as they say, two sides of the same coin. I agree with Noah when he describes the book as a love letter to his mother, it is all that and so much more. A must read, sure to move and inspire.