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review 2017-03-29 20:10
Review: The Witch's Tears
The Witch's Tears: (Sequel to The Witch's Kiss) - Katharine Corr,Elizabeth Fernando Corr

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

A delightful follow up to the Witch’s Kiss. A few months later witch in training Merry and her brother Leo are still trying to process the evens of the first book. It’s the summer holidays, no school. Merry is focused on her witch training. Leo has become moody and withdrawn.

 

Merry’s witch training isn’t going quite as well as she would like, she’s got much more power than anyone seems to realize, and she can do things that there aren’t written instructions for. I really like the way witchcraft works in the novel, the way the spells are performed and the history surrounding it. Though it’s a little surprising while there’s a big coven there seems to be so few teenage daughters. Only one other teen besides Merry shows up in the novel. That aside, the coven working together aspect is pretty interesting.

 

Though it’s not surprising that for Merry it can get incredibly frustrating because all these women are trained witches and grownups to boot. So when Merry accidentally stumbles on a file in her grandmother’s house about a women who turns out to have been murdered, and was a witch as well…it’s a new mystery to solve. Of course Merry is told to leave it alone.

 

Merry’s prophetic-like dreams are back as well, this time telling of a fairy-tale monster. But is there something more to this?

 

On top of this Merry’s grandmother has disappeared, more dead witches are turning up, Leo is becoming more withdrawn. Two different new boys turns up, one a drifter who camps in the woods near the Black Lake strikes up a friendship with Leo, which has potential to turn into something more, and the other shows up at Merry’s grandmother’s house around the time Gran goes missing. Both have secrets and mysteries about them.

 

The story telling is as a top notch as the first book, Merry is an incredibly likeable main character. I enjoy her voice immensely. She still manages to be sassy, and snarky, sensible, though not without faults. Her magic for one – still difficult to control and comes out at inopportune moments, especially when she’s pissed off – which happens a few times, leading to a few plot twists.

 

Didn’t like Leo quite as much in this book, he’s pulled away from Merry and has become quite stubborn and moody, he’s struggled to cope with a certain death from the first book, so it’s sort of understandable, but at the same time, his secretive attitude is annoying. He’s not outright mean to Merry or anything, but he’s got a definite chip on his shoulder attitude, and being secretive and shutting her out, which is sad considering how close they were in the first book. At least we get Leo’s point of view, so the reader does get a bit more insight into his character. Plus, Leo gets a romance in this installment, so yay for that.

 

An intriguing mystery to solve and new characters to unravel and get to know. And one hell of a cliff-hanger at the end! I really hope there is another installment ASAP.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and HarperCollins UK, Children’s for approving my request to view the title.

 

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review 2017-03-13 18:33
Bad Blood
Bad Blood - Demitria Lunetta

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I pre ordered this ages before I requested a review copy from Netgalley. I must admit I pre ordered based on cover and the fact that the title is Taylor Swift song. I probably read the blurb at some point and forgot what it was about.

 

And to my immense surprise my Netgalley request was actually approved.

 

Possible trigger warnings for self-harm.

 

This was a fun book about a girl who’s visiting relatives in Scotland while at the same time having strange dreams about twin girls in the time of the Scottish Witch Trials. (I usually don’t like books where the characters have the same name as myself, but thankfully this was a first person novel so it didn’t grate on me too much). The main character Heather has some disturbing compulsions that make her carve intricate designs into her skin, which make her bleed.

 

At the start of the novel she’s been caught by her parents and been sent to a Wellness Centre for recovery. Which at least seems to be working, she’s taking meds, talking to a therapist and come home, and been allowed to go on to her annual vacation to visit her Aunt Abbie in Scotland.  With check ins with her parents and on line Skye sessions with her therapist.

 

Only the need to carve the weird designs into her skin haven’t really gone away. She’s got it under control enough to fool the grownups into thinking she’s okay when she’s really not. To be fair though, she knows she’s doing something wrong, there is something unexplainable about the way the sudden compulsion over comes her. But she can’t cope or do anything until the design is carved into her skin. It’s a weird intricate knot type design.

 

There’s a historical element to the novel telling the story of twin sisters Prudence and Primrose who lived in the 1700s. Their story starts with one of them being burned as witch. Their history is revealed to Heather in the modern day through her dreams. Once loving sisters learning the healing craft of their ancestors with the mother, things turn sour turning the twins into bitter rivals going deeper into magic they should not be messing with.

 

All this is having a big effect on Heather in the modern day. In Edinburgh with her aunt Abbie, Heather gets some bad news about her aunt, and also has to deal with the fact that her grandmother has dementia and has been put into a home. Not fun on top of increasingly frightening nightmares starring Prudence and Primrose.

 

Having been to Scotland every summer for years and years Heather has made some really good friends with some of the other teens in town. She gets to see them in the summer. They’re all quite excited to be together again, though initially Heather is a little disappointed the older boy she likes isn’t there that summer, just his brother Robby who she’s known forever is. They’re good friends, but there’s a definite spark between them that everyone but Heather seems to see.   

 

As the dreams get worse and worse, and a few visits to grandma reveal some surprising information, talk of witches in the family, something bad involving using blood for spells, Heather does some digging. And discovers some home truths she never knew.

 

It’s a good story with a great historical and some really good mystical elements. Some good teen angst added in and with an inevitable romance. My only real issue with this which is why it was a four star rather than a five star read was I found most of the characters very two dimensional. They were all likeable, but I didn’t get much of a sense of personality from any of them really.

 

The novel was exceptionally well written, so it didn’t really matter that the characters were a little flat, the history and mythology worked well, and the magic elements were well done and quite unique. There’s also a really good sense of place, the Scottish setting is brilliantly done. I really enjoyed the descriptions of Edinburgh and the Scottish countryside. Both modern day and historical it felt really authentic, beautifully written and easy to picture.

 

Despite a few flaws, it was a really good read and definitely something I would read again.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Random House Children’s for approving my request to view this title   

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review 2017-02-27 19:15
Review: How To Make a Wish
How to Make a Wish - Ashley Herring Blak... How to Make a Wish - Ashley Herring Blake

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

A gut wrencher of an emotional ride. This novel tells the story of Grace who lives with her flighty mom who goes through strings of bad relationships. Grace only has one real friend, Luca, who looks out for her. When new girl Eva comes to town and moves in with Luca and his mom, she begins a friendship with Grace that slowly turns into something more. All the while things with Grace’s mom go from bad to worse, all the while Grace claiming she’s coping with it all and she’s “fine”. But is she?

 

The novel was deeply moving and very emotional and made me cry more than a few times as Grace struggles to keep her head above water. Her mom is a new contender for one of the worst YA parents. Her dad has never been in the picture, her mom has always followed her “creative” side, flitting from place to place and relationship to relationship, with seemingly little care to how all of this affects Grace. Mom also drinks. 

 

At the start of the novel Grace’s mom has moved in with a new boyfriend, Pete, who happens to be the dad of one of Grace’s ex boyfriends, Jay, who was an asshole when they broke up. Pete actually turned out to be a pretty nice guy. Jay, who was big dick through most of the novel even stepped up to the plate and turned out to be surprising.

 

Grace and Eva start to bond and get to know each other, and it’s a delightful slow burn sizzle as things progress between them. Eva’s dealing with the death of her mom, (I can’t remember why her dad wasn’t in the picture). Grace sort of doesn’t know how to handle that. The more time they spent together the closer they become and it turns into a much deeper relationship. Eva’s completely comfortable and aware of her own sexuality - she makes it plain she likes girls. Grace is struggling - she likes both boys and girls and does eventually come to the conclusion she’s bisexual. Bisexual representation was handled really well. And there were some lovely romantic scenes between Grace and Eva. 

 

But all the while Grace’s mom is flitting about, things start to go missing from Pete’s house.  While Grace is mortified, mom’s like, oh it’s no big deal. Then Mom starts cooing over Eva, focusing most of her attention on helping Eva deal with her grief, which is pissing Grace off to no end.

 

Grace had a bit of a loner complex about her, though she had her BFF Luca, Luca had a new girlfriend Kimber, who was taking up a lot of his time, and while she and Grace got along, they weren’t exactly on the BFF train. More for Grace to deal with. She had a snarky attitude about her, and given her circumstances, it’s understandable, she’s had to deal with some tough situations where her mom is concerned. Grace has always been the responsible one, taking care of her mother, dragging her out of seedy bars, making sure rent and bills are paid. Basically having to grow up way too fast.

 

Though Grace has a dream of being a concert pianist. She’s got the talent, and even has an audition for a fancy music school in Manhattan. Though reality gets in the way and she’s struggling with the idea of leaving mom to cope on her own. Mom never seems to listen Grace. Mom’s been telling her they’ll make a day of it for Grace’s audition and go spend some time together in New York, and Grace seems to be clinging to the hope this of this idea. Yet, part of her isn’t entirely sure of whether or not it will happen due to circumstances in the novel. It’s gut-wrenching to read about Grace agonising over this. 

 

Grace has comforting relief in Eva as their relationship takes a deeper turn, but with mom’s involvement in fawning over Eva, it’s not helping. Grace is pushing her anger and resentment back again and again and there’s only so much of this anyone can take before it inevitably explodes.

 

When it goes wrong, it goes wrong fast and hard and it’s painful to read. It was very emotional in parts, very raw and cut deep. I really wanted to slap the mother and hug Grace a lot.  Grace handled a lot of things with immense maturity, even though she had (and was more than entitled to) a few stroppy moments.

 

While her mom was awful, the saving light adult in the novel came from Luca’s mom Emmy, who was there throughout when Grace needed someone, and really came through like a beacon when things got to the really tough stage. Emmy was the mom Grace really deserved. Though while her own was awful, at the same time, you can understand Grace’s attachment and reluctance to leave her to it, even when things got bad. Until they reached boiling point. 

 

A beautifully, lyrically written novel, though can be very tough. I loved it. 

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group for approving my request to view the title. 

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review 2017-02-22 11:55
Review: Something In Between
Something in Between - Melissa de la Cruz

Review: Something In Between

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

This was an interesting book, as it dealt with a tough issue, but I can’t say I actually liked the main character much at all.  This book is about a Filipino girl Jasmine, who has spent most of her life in America, she’s captain of her cheerleading squad, incredibly smart and when she wins a very prestigious award that comes with a college scholarship, she’s thrilled to pieces, only to discover to her horror when her parents make a shock confession – they don’t have green cards, they are undocumented.

 

I can’t even begin to imagine what that must feel like. Jasmine’s whole world is thrown into total chaos, there’s an immigrant reform bill going on as well that would be helpful, but it’s not doing so well. On top of that Jasmine meets a handsome boy Royce, who just happens to be the son of a very powerful Senator who’s supposedly big on anti-immigration.

 

With the deadline for college applications coming up, getting her cheerleading squad to Nationals, a new budding relationship, Jasmine doesn’t seem to know which way is up and which way is down. Her family are very close, which was nice to see, though her dad is a bit on the strict side.  They banded together to deal with the problems. There was a really good family dynamic, which was believable, Jasmine had two annoying little brothers who at the start of the book were loud irritating and got in the way, but the way the novel was written made them likeable (if annoying) characters. The parents had nicely formed personalities as well.

 

Jasmine herself, I didn’t actually like much after all. She was supposed to be one of these really nice, smart and popular types, but I found her pushy and condescending. I certainly empathised with her struggles as the novel progressed. I read the first hundred pages or so, then the second time I picked it up I finished it in an afternoon, I couldn’t put it down.  Naturally she’s struggling with her family situation, and it’s worrying her to no end – are they going to be deported?

 

They find out what options are open to them, and decide which route to go down.

 

Then there’s Royce, the rich boy she falls madly in love with. Royce at first appears to be your typical senator’s son – rich and charming, but turns out to be a total sweetheart. He was lovely, very considerate and nice and not at all what you tend to expect from the very wealthy background he comes from.

 

The class divide between him and Jasmine seems to be a big issue as the relationship progresses throughout the book. Royce claims he’s not affected by it. She’s the one with the issue. She makes big deals out of little things and whines a fair amount. Yes she’s struggling with something gut wrenching, but she’s not the only character with problems in the novel. Royce is offering her help but she’s too stubborn to take it.  

 

It was certainly an interesting read, if kind of predictable in the plot.  Jasmine wasn’t my favourite character, but I definitely would recommend this for a good read about a tough issue.  I did purchase a finished paperback copy.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Harlequin (UK) Limited for approving my request to view the title.

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text 2017-02-21 07:03
Giveaway Blitz - YA Lit Giveaway Event

YALit Giveaway Event!

 

A bunch of authors who got together to bring you a YOUNG ADULT Big Box of Paperbacks Giveaway! One lucky winner is going to win FIFTY (50) Young Adult Paperback Books! How’s that for an epic Book-Lover’s Prize?!

 

THIS BOX OF BOOKS IS VALUED AT OVER $500! And this giveaway is open worldwide! Our first giveaway went to a winner in ROMANIA–and yes, we’re willing to pay the insane shipping on this oversized, overweight package to get the prize to WHOEVER wins!

Here's a sneak peek from a couple of the sponsors:

Adrenaline Rush by Cindy M. Hogan

 

 

As I hurtled toward my destination at 500 miles an hour, I pulled out a notebook, placed it on the shiny mahogany table in front of me, and scribbled a quick to-do list.

 

Pick out an outfit.

 

Get folders and notebooks.

 

Switch into fourth period drama.

 

I chewed on the end of my pen. Oh yeah—just one more thing.

 

Get kidnapped.

 

According to my pre-mission briefing, kidnappings were up in the States by five percent over the last five years. The significance of which didn’t hit me until I found that the statistics for kidnappings had remained static for a good thirty years. The spike caught the attention of the FBI, and they put their best men on it. The problem? Right when they thought they’d discovered the pattern of the kidnappers, it seemed to change.

 

We hit some turbulence, and the force of it pulled me out of my reverie. I sucked in a deep breath, my hands resting on the soft leather side arms of my big comfortable seat as the Gulfstream jet jumped. I let the rollercoaster feeling wash over me like a wave, forcing myself to enjoy every last tingle. I only had this flight and a few hours tonight to assume my new thrill-seeking alias—the one that would lure the kidnappers and save the day before the pattern changed again. I might as well make the most of it.

 

 

Chosen Wolf (Curse of the Moon #2) Excerpt

 

The full moon inched higher in the night sky, growing bigger and brighter by the moment. One by one, the members of the pack ran behind the Moonhaven mansion to remove their clothes before they tore to shreds as their bodies turned from men to wolves. Howls sounded in the distance.

 

Toby squeezed my hand, holding my gaze. “Maybe this will be the month you can finally shift again, Victoria.”

 

Sharp pains ran through my body. My right hip cracked. I bit my tongue, trying not to cry out in pain. My skin felt on fire as fur tried to poke through, but couldn’t.

 

His face tensed, a pained look in his eyes. “Are you shifting?”

 

I shook my head. There was nothing normal about this, and it was proving to be more difficult and painful than my other months of un-shifts. Each one grew worse than the last.

 

Toby scooped me up, carried me inside, and helped me onto my bed. “I can’t keep my wolf inside any longer. I’m sorry.”

 

“It’s okay.” I fought to keep my voice steady. Tears threatened.

 

He brushed hair from my face and kissed my forehead. “Ziamara’s upstairs sleeping. She said to wake her if you need anything.”

 

“I’ll be fine.” I grimaced, the pain nearly choking me.

 

Toby cried out and the sound of ripping fabric tore through the room. He spun around and dashed out the door. The back of his shirt had ripped, and fur poked through the split material.

 

I gripped a pillow, squeezing it as hard as I could to distract myself from the pain. It didn’t work, and the pillow exploded, filling the air with white feathers.

 

A loud pop sounded and then a horrific pain shot through my shoulders. I slumped down and screamed, unable to take the pain.

 



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