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Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire eARC {3.5 Stars}

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire eARC {3.5 Stars}

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children #2)
Published by Tor.com on June 13th, 2017
Genres: Dark Fantasy
Page Length: 189 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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Twin sisters Jack and Jill were seventeen when they found their way home and were packed off to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.

This is the story of what happened first…

Jacqueline was her mother’s perfect daughter—polite and quiet, always dressed as a princess. If her mother was sometimes a little strict, it’s because crafting the perfect daughter takes discipline.

Jillian was her father’s perfect daughter—adventurous, thrill-seeking, and a bit of a tom-boy. He really would have preferred a son, but you work with what you've got.

They were five when they learned that grown-ups can’t be trusted.

They were twelve when they walked down the impossible staircase and discovered that the pretense of love can never be enough to prepare you a life filled with magic in a land filled with mad scientists and death and choices.

3.5 Stars

Note: I received an advanced copy of Down Among the Sticks and Bones from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Thoughts:
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Seriously Shifted by Tina Connolly {4 Stars}

Seriously Shifted by Tina Connolly {4 Stars}

Seriously Shifted by Tina Connolly (Seriously Wicked #2)
Published by Tor Teen on Nov. 1st, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 240 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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Teenage witch Cam isn’t crazy about the idea of learning magic. She’d rather be no witch than a bad one. But when a trio of her mother’s wicked witch friends decide to wreak havoc in her high school, Cam has no choice but to try to stop them.

Esmerelda is the mean girl of the witches. Valda likes to drop anvils on people’s heads. And Malkin—well, Malkin is just plain terrifying. Their idea of fun is a little game—they each pick a student from Cam’s high school and compete to see who can make their teen the most miserable. But Cam suspects one of the witches may have an ulterior motive…which means someone at school could be in worse danger yet.

Now Cam’s learning invisibility spells, dodging exploding cars, and pondering the ethics of love potions. All while trying to keep her grades up and go on a first date with her crush. If the witches don’t get him first, that is.

Can’t a good witch ever catch a break?

4 Stars

Note: I received an advanced copy of Seriously Shifted from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Strengths:
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The Devourers by Indra Das {Just Hatched}

Just Hatched Book Feature

Just Hatched is a feature where I share my first impressions of a book after the first chapter. Check out the announcement post for more information.

The Devourers by Indra Das immediately caught my attention with the gorgeous cover and the fascinating premise. I also really love finding books originally published in another country that are crossing over into American publishers since they usually reflect a more authentic experience of that other culture. The Devourers is definitely such a book and I recommend it as long as you are in the right mood for something dark and weird along with the beauty ;-).

Note: I received an advanced copy of The Devourers from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

The Devourers by Indra Das {Just Hatched}

The Devourers by Indra Das
Narrated by Meera Simhan, Shishir Kurup

Published by Del Rey on July 12th, 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Fantasy, Dark Fantasy
Page Length: 306 pages
Audio Length: 13 hrs and 31 mins
How I got my copy: NetGalley, Publisher
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Purchases made support this blog

For readers of Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, China Mieville, and David Mitchell comes a striking debut novel by a storyteller of keen insight and captivating imagination.

On a cool evening in Kolkata, India, beneath a full moon, as the whirling rhythms of traveling musicians fill the night, college professor Alok encounters a mysterious stranger with a bizarre confession and an extraordinary story. Tantalized by the man’s unfinished tale, Alok will do anything to hear its completion. So Alok agrees, at the stranger’s behest, to transcribe a collection of battered notebooks, weathered parchments, and once-living skins.

From these documents spills the chronicle of a race of people at once more than human yet kin to beasts, ruled by instincts and desires blood-deep and ages-old. The tale features a rough wanderer in seventeenth-century Mughal India who finds himself irrevocably drawn to a defiant woman—and destined to be torn asunder by two clashing worlds. With every passing chapter of beauty and brutality, Alok’s interest in the stranger grows and evolves into something darker and more urgent.

Shifting dreamlike between present and past with intoxicating language, visceral action, compelling characters, and stark emotion, The Devourers offers a reading experience quite unlike any other novel.

3.5 Stars

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How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather ARC {4.5 Stars} + Giveaway!

How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather is a spooky mystery filled with rich historical details that really bring Salem of past and present to life. Further, How to Hang a Witch brings the effects of bullying to full and painful light and made me instantly connect with Sam as she struggled to survive high school on top of a curse. Don’t miss the giveaway at the bottom of the post!

Note: I received an advanced copy of How to Hang a Witch from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather ARC {4.5 Stars} + Giveaway!

How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather (How to Hang a Witch #1)
Published by Knopf on July 26th, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Paranormal
Page Length: 368 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Barnes & Noble - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

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 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 is about to repeat itself.

4.5 Stars

Strengths:
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Mother of All by Heather Marie Adkins {3 Stars}

Mother of All by Heather Marie Adkins showed up as a recommended book was I was browsing through Amazon to find something similar to Patricia Briggs and Ilona Andrews; so I picked up a copy.  The description of the main character – a hedge-witch – seemed interesting, and I am always looking for something new in the urban/contemporary fantasy genre.

Mother of All by Heather Marie Adkins {3 Stars}

Mother of All by Heather Marie Adkins (Hedgewitch Mystery #1)
Published by Author on September 23, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Page Length: 262 pages
How I got my copy: Purchased
Amazon - Barnes & Noble - Goodreads
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Life is good for modern-day witch, Mena McGinty. After an abusive past, she sought refuge in a small Maine town and established her dream life. Her small off-the-grid cottage is thriving under an herb and craft business, and she’s content with her happily-ever-after.

Idyllic Waterford is shattered by the first murder in years—a pregnant woman, whose battered body is sans her unborn child. This act of violence kicks off a string of similar murders, and all signs point to Mena’s best friend as the next victim.

Mena will do anything it takes to protect the woman who saved her from her awful past, even if it means butting heads with the sexy Chief of Police or putting herself in danger to search for the killer. The only problem is, she suspects it may be the mysterious Irish stranger sleeping on her couch.

A man who arrives in town only days before the first murder.

3 Stars

Strengths:
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Becoming Jinn by Lori Goldstein {Just Hatched}

Just Hatched Book Feature

Just Hatched is a feature where I share my first impressions of a book after the first chapter. Check out the announcement post for more information.

Becoming Jinn by Lori Goldstein is the latest in a string of stories surrounding jinni and their mythology, so of course I had to check it out. I’m really liking the jinni trend, though I’ve yet to find the perfect jinni book ;-). Becoming Jinn is a pretty light fantasy from what I could see, with a contemporary setting and the potential for lots of girl drama not related to cool jinni powers. I found myself getting annoyed with the female teenage characters early on, so decided to stop, but if you’re generally a fan of contemporary with just a splash of fantasy, Becoming Jinn could be a good book for you.

Note: I received an advanced copy of Becoming Jinn from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Becoming Jinn by Lori Goldstein {Just Hatched}

Becoming Jinn by Lori Goldstein (Becoming Jinn #1)
Published by Feiwel & Friends on April 21st, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 384 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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Purchases made support this blog

Forget everything you thought you knew about genies!

Azra has just turned sixteen, and overnight her body lengthens, her olive skin deepens, and her eyes glisten gold thanks to the brand-new silver bangle that locks around her wrist. As she always knew it would, her Jinn ancestry brings not just magical powers but the reality of a life of servitude, as her wish granting is controlled by a remote ruling class of Jinn known as the Afrit.

To the humans she lives among, she’s just the girl working at the snack bar at the beach, navigating the fryer and her first crush. But behind closed doors, she’s learning how to harness her powers and fulfill the obligations of her destiny.

Mentored by her mother and her Zar “sisters”, Azra discovers she may not be quite like the rest of her circle of female Jinn . . . and that her powers could endanger them all. As Azra uncovers the darker world of becoming Jinn, she realizes when genies and wishes are involved, there’s always a trick.

2 Stars

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Seriously Wicked by Tina Connolly ARC {4.5 Stars} + Giveaway!

Seriously Wicked by Tina Connolly is the first in a new series about a girl just trying to survive high school while balancing cleaning out the dragon’s muck in the morning and keeping her witch caretaker from showing up to parent-teacher conferences. Seriously Wicked is much lighter than Connolly’s previous series, but it is perfect when you just want to laugh and reminisce about the first seasons of Buffy ;-). Be sure to check out the end of the post for a giveaway courtesy of Tor Teen!

Note: I received an advanced copy of Seriously Wicked from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Seriously Wicked by Tina Connolly ARC {4.5 Stars} + Giveaway!

Seriously Wicked by Tina Connolly
Published by Tor Teen on May 5th, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 208 pages
How I got my copy: NetGalley
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

The only thing worse than being a witch is living with one.

Camellia’s adopted mother wants Cam to grow up to be just like her. Problem is, Mom’s a seriously wicked witch.

Cam’s used to stopping the witch’s crazy schemes for world domination. But when the witch summons a demon, he gets loose—and into Devon, the cute new boy at school.

Now Cam’s suddenly got bigger problems than passing Algebra. Her friends are getting zombiefied. Their dragon is tired of hiding in the RV garage. For being a shy boy-band boy, Devon is sure kissing a bunch of girls. And a phoenix hidden in the school is going to explode on the night of the Halloween Dance.

To stop the demon before he destroys Devon’s soul, Cam might have to try a spell of her own. But if she’s willing to work spells like the witch...will that mean she’s wicked too?

4.5 Stars

Strengths:
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White Cat by Holly Black Audiobook {4 Stars}

White Cat by Holly Black is the first in the Curse Workers trilogy and introduces us to a world where everyone knows that magic is real, but generally controlled by several families mob-style in the USA. I’ve been meaning to read this trilogy for over a year ever since I met Holly Black at a signing, and I’m so glad that the audiobook was available and of solid quality so that I can finally fit this great series in! If you enjoy the idea of an alternative history mixed with a dash of magic, definitely check these books out and maybe even the audio versions ;-).

White Cat by Holly Black Audiobook {4 Stars}

White Cat by Holly Black
Narrated by Jesse Eisenberg
(Curse Workers #1)
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on May 4th, 2010
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 320 pages
How I got my copy: Purchased
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

Cassel comes from a shady, magical family of con artists and grifters. He doesn't fit in at home or at school, so he's used to feeling like an outsider. He's also used to feeling guilty; he killed his best friend, Lila, years ago.

But when Cassel begins to have strange dreams about a white cat, and people around him are losing their memories, he starts to wonder what really happened to Lila. In his search for answers, he discovers a wicked plot for power that seems certain to succeed. But Cassel has other ideas and a plan to con the conmen.

4 Stars

Strengths:
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The Iron Traitor by Julie Kagawa eARC {2.5 Stars}

The Iron Traitor by Julie Kagawa is the second in the Call of the Forgotten spin-off series in the Iron Fey world. I decided to test the theory that you can start Call of the Forgotten without reading the first four Iron Fey books, so I’ve only read The Lost Prince prior to Iron Traitor. There are some mild spoilers for The Lost Prince in the description for Iron Traitor, so feel free to check out my review of The Lost Prince if you want to be safe ;-). I must admit that Ethan is not my favorite narrator in the world of books, so Iron Traitor didn’t go all that well for me. It felt like major second book syndrome unfortunately, since there is potential awesomeness for the series in the future, but Iron Traitor didn’t accomplish that potential in my opinion.

Note: I received an eARC of The Iron Traitor through Netgalley for an honest review. Some things may be different in the final version.

The Iron Traitor by Julie Kagawa eARC {2.5 Stars}

The Iron Traitor by Julie Kagawa (Call of the Forgotten #2)
Published by Harlequin Teen on October 29th, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 304 pages
How I got my copy: NetGalley
IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

In the real world, when you vanish into thin air for a week, people tend to notice.

After his unexpected journey into the lands of the fey, Ethan Chase just wants to get back to normal. Well, as "normal" as you can be when you see faeries every day of your life. Suddenly the former loner with the bad reputation has someone to try for-his girlfriend, Kenzie. Never mind that he's forbidden to see her again.

But when your name is Ethan Chase and your sister is one of the most powerful faeries in the Nevernever, "normal" simply isn't to be. For Ethan's nephew, Keirran, is missing, and may be on the verge of doing something unthinkable in the name of saving his own love. Something that will fracture the human and faery worlds forever, and give rise to the dangerous fey known as the Forgotten. As Ethan's and Keirran's fates entwine and Keirran slips further into darkness, Ethan's next choice may decide the fate of them all.

2.5 Stars

Strengths:

  • We get to journey to more parts of the Nevernever in Iron Traitor and I quite enjoyed seeing more of the faery realms. It’s always fun imagining that goblin markets are hiding just out of site in whatever major city you are visiting ;-).
  • I’m such a fan of new and interesting critters, and Iron Traitor definitely delivers on that front. We get to meet more Forgotten and more fey of all persuasions.
  • The writing of Iron Traitor continues to be light and fast, making for an easy read when you just want to have fun!

Weaknesses:

  •  Especially at the beginning of Iron Traitor there are a lot of info dumps to tell the reader everything that happened in the Iron Fey series (it seemed, probably not absolutely everything) and a summary of The Lost Prince. I understand giving reminders for important characters from previous books, but Ethan was explaining everything and reminded me of annoying boys I know….
  • Speaking of annoying boys! Ethan had some fairly sexist thoughts in Iron Traitor that really grated on me. He kept obsessing about protecting “the girls” and keeping “the girl” away from danger. The combination of the two female characters being inherently weak due to illness and the way Ethan kept lumping them together just did not work for me.
  • Ethan and the gang were strangely touchy about some things that really didn’t seem like a big deal to me and then didn’t see a problem with other things that were obviously really bad ideas. Priorities people!
  • I understand that teenagers sometimes fall in puppy love quickly, but it still annoys me when characters declare their undying love after a week of knowing each other. They didn’t even know each other before they started dating! One week is not long enough no matter the circumstances.
  • The Iron Traitor mostly felt like a set-up for the next book in the series. Nothing much happens until the end when a whole lot of bad things happen that clearly can’t be resolved before the end of the book. Then there is a huge cliffhanger that is only kind of a cliffhanger (you know what I mean if you’ve read the book, I mean what do you really think is going to happen??) but is clearly declaring the plot of the next book.

Summary:

The Iron Traitor has basically cemented my decision that Call of the Forgotten is not the series for me, though I know a lot of people have been enjoying it. If you don’t mind Ethan as a narrator and enjoy a mostly romance-driven plot, you’ll probably enjoy Iron Traitor just fine. I can see potential for the rest of the series because something interesting definitely has to happen at the beginning of the next book, but it was too little, too late for me.

2.5 Stars
Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

– Anya

 

 Iron Traitor by Julie Kagawa