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Search tags: YA-Paranormal
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review 2017-10-20 09:39
Review: The Hawkweed Prophecy
The Hawkweed Prophecy - Irena Brignull

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.

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review 2016-11-24 11:50
Review: The Witch's Kiss
The Witch's Kiss - Katharine Corr,Elizabeth Fernando Corr

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

A very enjoyable UK based YA paranormal novel with some unique takes on witchcraft, a modern day story mixed in with a fantasy like historical side plot made for some really interesting story telling. Sixteen year old Merry has been having scary dreams, involving a boy her age with a scary looking sword, who seems hell bent on trying to kill her. Not helped by the fact there is a serial killer around in her town who is striking at couple in love and taking their hearts. When the boy from her dreams turns up in real life, a hidden family curse is revealed along with the fact that Merry is the latest in the family line to take on an evil wizard who is really responsible for the serial killer taking hearts.

 

All sounds a bit convoluted, but comes together really well. Merry is a likeable heroine, she’s known she’s had witch magic for some time and started using it, the reader learns right away that she won’t any more because something went very very wrong with her magic, and Merry is afraid of it. Though her powers are getting stronger and she finds herself losing control without meaning to. Her dad is out of the picture, left a long time ago, her mum is in complete denial and hates the family magic. Her best friend Ruby knows nothing of the magic, the only solace and comfort Merry has in dealing with it all is her older brother Leo.

 

Initially, Leo comes off as a typical British lad more interested in going to the pub and hanging out with his mates than anything else. But Leo turns out to be one of the best characters in the book. His relationship with his sister turns out to be a really close one, he's there, he listens to her, he helps when he can and even though he doesn't have any magic of his own, he’s by Merry’s side and supporting her every step of the way. The magic comes through the female line, while Mum ignores and wants nothing to do with it, Merry’s grandmother and her coven are the ones who help Merry train her powers once she finally accepts her destiny.

 

Made worse by the fact that the boy from her dreams, turns out to be very very real and part of the family curse. Only the boy has two sides to him, two different personalities one of which he has no control over as it’s tied to the evil wizard and one the normal boy he was before anything happened. Oh, and that boy’s really sweet and Merry might be falling in love with him. Just to complicate things further.

 

Merry’s struggle with her normal school life and her magic duties are very believable. The reader learns a little more about how Merry has handled things with her magic when she first started learning and how things unravelled quickly. She behaved pretty badly, but at least she knew it was wrong and is trying to fix it. Merry has a pretty good moral compass and a good balance of trying to do the right thing.

 

The story also weaves in a family curse, when Merry gets the details from Gran, instead of just being told this is what happened way back when, there’s an evil wizard tied to our ancestors who wants to destroy all lovers because he was jilted a thousand years ago and there’s a curse and an innocent boy tied up in this and turned into a monster and you have to defeat him…the story is actually shown to the reader. In separate chapters, the historical part of the story comes to vivid life like a fantasy novel, then the novel switches back to the present as Leo and Merry learn more.

 

We learn more about the curse and backstory through flashback and Merry’s dreams as she turns out to have a direct tie to one of her ancestors who was involved back then.

 

It’s completely addictive and completely gripping. Likeable characters, deplorable villains and a complex romantic side plot. It’s a really different way of story telling and I really enjoyed it.

 

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

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review 2016-05-26 22:15
Sometimes judging a book by it's cover isn't a bad thing...
The Bridge - Rachel Lou

If you think being a regular teenager is hard then you should try being Everett Hallman. Everett's a witch and not just any witch he's a Bridge Master, he has the ability to help the dead crossover from the land of the living to their afterlife and in spite of the fact that his powers don't seem very strong they're unique and more than one person is interested in his powers and maybe even just in him. Things are starting to get a little strange in Everett's life. Weird things are happening with his powers and then there's Bryce, the cute guy at the marshal arts studio whom Everett likes and who seems to like him back. Now if he could just figure out what's up with him and the weird things that are going on around town.

 

'The Bridge' is first time author, Rachel Lou's entry into the world of young adult fiction and to say the least it's a pretty impressive offering for a first novel. While I'm not new to the world of YA. It's admittedly not my usual playground, but this book captured my attention with it's unique twist on the paranormal.

 

Everett is quiet introverted young man, who's more comfortable with books than people and Bryce is a happy extrovert who seems to have an abundance of self confidence and a definite interest in Everett. I enjoyed both of these characters and was impressed with how much their reactions mirrored those of an average teenager especially when interacting with each other. I liked the slow but steady way that their relationship progressed with both of them exhibiting bits of insecurity and nervousness at different times throughout the story.

 

Everett's struggle to exert his independence while still maintaining his relationship with his grandfather (whom he lives with and something that we learn about in the first few pages of the story) was a constant challenge for him and something that as teenagers most of us are able to relate to at one time or another. At the same time Bryce has his own very different family challenges to face and both of these young men have things they are keeping from each other. Things that will need to be shared if they are to have the relationship that they both seem to want.

 

The connection between the personal relationship that Everett and Bryce are trying to develop and the paranormal events of this story are very strongly connected and the balance that the author maintained between them was impressive. 

 

From start to finish this was a well put together novel. Let's start right at the cover...I love this cover and after reading the book I totally understand why it was chosen, I know there's no bridge but trust me even if there was it wouldn't have made the cover more suited to the story. Next editing anyone who's read my reviews knows that editing is a pet peeve of mine well honestly if there were any editing mistakes in this they were minor and had no bearing at all on my ability to enjoy this well crafted story.

 

And my absolute favorite thing about this book was the lighter moments threaded throughout the story, many of them involving my favorite character, Everett's familiar who to say the least was not your typical black cat...actually he wasn't a cat at all and nope, I'm not giving away that little treasure you'll have to read the book to find out what his familiar was. 

 

***A copy of this book was graciously provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review*** 

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review 2016-04-28 21:44
DNF: The Dark Days Club
The Dark Days Club (A Lady Helen Novel) - Alison Goodman

Calling it quits at 230 pages. It's taken this long to get to the paranormal element and while that bit is rather unique and interesting I'm still bored. It's been almost two months since I started this and not very excited when I pick it up again so time to DNF. I may try this again at another time.

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review 2016-03-01 23:52
Seranfyll - Susan Windsor,Christina Daley

This is a unique story that although has endless turbulent situations, is adventurous and entertaining. Lord Seranfyll is a wonderful character that I really liked and over all the fantasy/paranormal thread weaved together with historic elements adds a pleasant twist to this fun read.

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