Tag «witches»

Single Sundays: Escape from Witchwood Hollow by Jordan Elizabeth

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Escape from Witchwood Hollow (from Goodreads):
Everyone in Arnn – a small farming town with more legends than residents – knows the story of Witchwood Hollow: if you venture into the whispering forest, the witch will trap your soul among the shadowed trees.

After losing her parents in a horrific terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, fifteen-year-old Honoria and her older brother escape New York City to Arnn. In the lure of that perpetual darkness, Honoria finds hope, when she should be afraid.

Perhaps the witch can reunite her with her lost parents. Awakening the witch, however, brings more than salvation from mourning, for Honoria discovers a past of missing children and broken promises.

To save the citizens of Arnn from becoming the witch’s next victims, she must find the truth behind the woman’s madness.

How deep into Witchwood Hollow does Honoria dare venture?

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Author: Jordan Elizabeth
Genre: Young Adult, Supernatural, Fantasy, Magic, Witches, Suspense
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 29, 2014
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you Jordan Elizabeth!

disclaimer

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I don’t usually enjoy witch-based stories, though there have been notable exceptions in the past. But what intrigued me about Escape from Witchwood Hollow was the mystery of Witchwood. Who is the witch? What is her hold on the town of Arnn? What happened in the past?

The Concept:

One of my favourite aspects of this story is the flashbacks to the past. I love layers to my story, and by alternating POVs that’s exactly what happens. It was fun trying to take everything in and put it all together to figure out what is happening in Arnn.

The Plot:

Despite the alternating POVs keeping the plot moving, I did find the book to be terribly slow at the start. Not a lot is happening besides Honoria trying to learn about her new school and town. Which is why I appreciated the other POVs because it gave me something to be interested in while building the story.

And once everything comes together and the mystery comes to light, this book is great. I love when I can’t really figure out the plot until the big reveal and that’s what happened in this book.

The Characters:

I feel like the characters take a bit of a backseat because the forest is really the focus of this story. While I felt like these characters are developed enough to contribute to the story, I didn’t become particularly attached to any of them.

Honoria was a bit of a dud but I warmed up to her as the story continued.

The Romance:

There really isn’t a romance in this story! It’s been a long time since I’ve read a YA novel where romance isn’t a main focus of the story so I enjoyed the break!

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My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

I really liked how everything came together in this story. The slower pace of this novel isn’t my preferred style but this book was a refreshing Young Adult Fantasy nonetheless!

Read if You Like: slower paced stories; lack romance; mystery
Avoid if You: want romance, dislike slower stories

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Series Review: Worldwalker by Josephine Angelini

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini | The Worldwalker Series

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Synopsis for Trial by Fire (from Goodreads):
This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying experiences that others in her hometown of Salem take for granted, which is why she is determined to enjoy her first high school party with her best friend and longtime crush, Tristan. But after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class, Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly, Lily is in a different Salem—one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruelest of them all is Lillian . . . Lily’s other self in this alternate universe.

What makes Lily weak at home is what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. In this confusing world, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can’t hope to shoulder alone and a love she never expected.

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Series: The Worldwalker Trilogy
Author: Josephine Angelini
# of Books: 3 (Trial by Fire, Firewalker, Traitor’s Pyre)

There is a novella that is an alternate POV for a scene in Trial by Fire called Rowan

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Witches, Magic
Heat Rating: warm but suggestive content
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Source & Format: Public library–eBook; Hardcover (Firewalker)

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to reflect my conclusion to DNF this series. It will not be further updated.**

Why I Picked it Up/My Expectations:

When I first stumbled upon Trial by Fire, I had marked it as a pass on my Goodreads account. I’m not sure why when I look back at it other than the fact that it features witches and I rarely enjoy witch-focused books. I also think it was because the synopsis made me think about an anime I watched as a teen called .hack//sign. The show follows a set of video game characters that also have alternate “real-world” lives; where one character is, coincidentally, sick in the real world but is of course fine in the game. All I know is that it confused me on so many levels and I still have no clue what the ultimate meaning of the show was .

So I think the alternate universe part of this book turned me off because my less than great experiences with them. However, I stumbled upon a review where this book was given a stellar review so I decided “why not?”. Plus, my library had one last available copy online right after I made that impulsive decision so I figured that was a sign that I had to read this book…

The Concept/World:

In addition, having read Claudia Grey’s A Thousand Pieces of You novel a week or so before I read Trial by Fire made me more receptive to reading a book with alternate dimensions because I really loved A Thousand Pieces of You (ATPOY) and more importantly, it was executed very well. So I went in with a more positive attitude when it came to reading this book.

The difference between the execution of ATPOY and Trial by Fire is that the narrator explains how alternate dimensions work early in ATPOY whereas in Trial by Fire the reader learns as the heroine learns–which I think works for each respective story and adds another level to the reading experience. ATPOY focuses on chasing someone through alternate dimensions to solve a mystery and as such, the reader needs to know how everything works early on to enjoy the journey. Trial by Fire is also focused on a mystery of sorts, but because the heroine doesn’t understand the world she is now in, she learns as she goes and in turn, the reader must do the same.

The world Lily finds herself in is pretty cool. I think my inner science geek enjoyed how the witch-craft was more science based than “magic” based. The world really reminded me of the anime/manga Full Metal Alchemist where they use elemental science for various purposes in a world that is almost medieval but has little touches of the modern world here and there; which is really interesting to read about. So I didn’t mind learning as I was going and even enjoyed learning about this world as I went (which is why I gave it the .5 rating I did because I really loved this aspect).

The Plot:

What did “bother” me about this book was I wanted more focus on why Lily was brought into the world. Character and world building is great and all, but it serves a larger purpose by contributing to the plot. And I felt like Trial by Fire spent a little too much time on all this background building and not enough on figuring out why Lily was there. It reminded more of an adventure/journey story at times because of this aspect. It definitely picks up near the end, but by the halfway point I was ready to have the larger plot become the main focus of the story. In other words: this book moved slowly to me and in turn, I wasn’t able to really get into the story. If the eBook was 30 pages shorter, I think I wouldn’t have had this problem so much. (It took me a lot longer to read this book than it usually does)

The Characters:

Lily wasn’t all that exciting to me as a heroine. But the cast does its job well. I like that there is a villain that you can easily dislike.

The Romance:

As for the romance, it definitely didn’t go the way I expected and it didn’t play as huge of a role as I expected either. So if you are looking for a romance-driven book, this isn’t it!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m interested in seeing where this series is going to go because the last few chapters are where things started to get my attention. I don’t mind slower inaugural books that build up so long as the sequel delivers and I kind of get the vibe that this second book will deliver now that the plot is going somewhere–so I look forward to reading Firewalker in September but I’m not exactly counting down the days until its release either.

updates

–September 3, 2015– Book 1.5: Rowan

I completely forgot that Rowan was going to get his own POV short story until I saw it at my library. I actually really enjoyed it. I thought it brought a fresh perspective to the story. It’s been so long since I’ve read Trial by Fire that I don’t remember all the particulars so it was hard to recall all the details. Considering it was only a couple of pages long, I thought it did a good job getting the point across and recreating the scene. All and all, a good novella to read after Trial by Fire.

–December 4, 206– Book 2: Firewalker

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Firewalker at 26% (90/352). Find out why below…

I really wasn’t sure what to expect with this sequel but what we got wasn’t what I had hoped for.

It was so boring! There were some promising little tidbits at the start but they get pushed to the side to focus on some monotonous day-to-day stuff. And I get it, you needed to establish the circumstances these characters find themselves in; but make it a little more worth my while.

Nothing was happening and I didn’t want to wait around for a great cliffhanger ending to make me feel compelled to read the 3rd and final novel.

My Rating: DNF

Trial by Fire 3/5 | Firewalker DNF | Witch’s Pyre N/A

overall

I did enjoy reading this book and I could see why lots of people like it. But if you are like me and want a faster-paced book that doesn’t focus solely on character building, this series might not be your cup of tea. Those who enjoy lots of character development and world building at a slower pace will love this series!

Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, alternate dimensions
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance, want more action

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Series Review: Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

Series: The Vampire Diaries

There are a number of spin-off series; some written by L.J. Smith, others by a ghost writer. See all here. The Wikipedia page for the series has some interesting statements about how this series and the spin-offs are published.

Author: L.J. Smith
# of Books: 4 (The Awakening, The Struggle, The Fury, Dark Reunion)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Technically, Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance, Supernatural, Vampires, Magic, Witches
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person

Thoughts:

PLEASE NOTE: First and foremost, I read these books a looooonnnngggg time ago. Also, I want to be clear that I am only rating the original 4 Vampire Diaries novels. There are a number of spin-offs that I have never read…find out why below…

I can’t remember if I read these books before or after Twilight; I’m pretty sure it was after but definitely before the show first aired. I had the combined volumes I used for the covers for this post so I really have a hard time differentiating the plot of each book because it just seems like one big story–which is what a series is really–but what I’m trying to say is that it is all one big blur so don’t ask me about individual books!

One thing I really loved about Vampire Diaries is that it is a darker series where evil is always lurking. I know that there is lots of disagreements over how vampires are portrayed in books/popular culture but I’ve never really minded these alterations to what I call “modern vampires”. Yet Vampire Diaries features your blood drinking, bat-changing vampires who are up to no-good. It makes things creepy and darker than some of the other vampire series out there. I like how there is a villain and I like that actual dangerous things happen and sometimes they have disastrous consequences. It wasn’t always happy-go-lucky in this series and I liked that.

What I didn’t really like about the series was the romance. I’m not sure how many of you have read old romance novels from the late 80s/90s but they are drastically different from the romance novels you get today. Elena and Stefan’s romance was super cheesy to me and I think it was a product of it’s time (the first Vampire Diaries novel was published in 1991). I also wasn’t annoyed with the love triangle because, to me, it wasn’t truly a love triangle; it was more a by-product of what was going on plot-wise.

As for the characters, they weren’t anything that exciting or unique to me. They didn’t seem all that complex to me–even brooding, fighting-against-his-nature Stefan. I remember liking one of Elena’s friends more than I liked Elena.

I know a lot of people probably watch the TV or watched it (I stopped after season 3) and want to know how close it is to the books. The truth of the matter is that it isn’t anything close to the books. Sure, the basic ideas are there but things are drastically different. Things as simple as Elena’s list of friends and family are changed and the TV series definitely has a sexier feel. Some of the basic backbones are there but characters have radically different purposes in each. I LOVED the first two seasons of the show; but Season 3 just started to get too complicated for me and with school it was hard to keep up with it all. I plan to catch up on Netflix this summer.

The TV show is the reason I stopped following the book series. I enjoyed the TV series way more than I ever did the books so I never felt the need to pick them up. And I probably won’t ever pick up the books. I don’t like dragged out things and I feel like these spin-off series are just the by-product of the TV show. (Which is great because anything that encourages reading is fantastic but I feel like it takes away from the original spirit of the series).

Conclusion:

Simply put: I’ve read better vampire romances. But I can appreciate the fact that I can probably thank this series for spawning all of the “better vampire romances” out there. Unlike the TV show, it’s cheesy and basic in its delivery. If you want a sexier, danger-filled vampire romance, watch the TV show instead!

Rating: 3/5
Would I Recommend this Series to a Friend: No, I’d recommend the TV show first!

Similar Reads: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (Twilight Saga #1)

Synopsis for The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening (from Goodreads):
Elena: the golden girl, the leader, the one who can have any boy she wants.

Stefan: brooding and mysterious, he seems to be the only one who can resist Elena, even as he struggles to protect her from the horrors that haunt his past.

Damon: sexy, dangerous, and driven by an urge for revenge against Stefan, the brother who betrayed him. Determined to have Elena, he’d kill to possess her.

Series Review: Immortal by Gillian Shields

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Immortals (from Goodreads):
Wyldcliffe Abbey School for Young Ladies, housed in a Gothic mansion on the bleak northern moors, is elite, expensive, and unwelcoming. When Evie Johnson is torn away from her home by the sea to become the newest scholarship student, she is more isolated than she could have dreamed. Strict teachers, snobbish students, and the oppressive atmosphere of Wyldcliffe leave Evie drowning in loneliness.

Evie’s only lifeline is Sebastian, a rebellious, mocking, dangerously attractive young man she meets by chance. As Evie’s feelings for Sebastian grow with each secret meeting, she starts to fear that he is hiding something about his past. And she is haunted by glimpses of a strange, ghostly girl—a girl who is so eerily like Evie, she could be a sister. Evie is slowly drawn into a tangled web of past and present that she cannot control. And as the extraordinary, elemental forces of Wyldcliffe rise up like the mighty sea, Evie is faced with an astounding truth about Sebastian, and her own incredible fate.

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Series: Immortal Series
Author: Gillian Shields
# of Books: 4 (Immortal, Betrayal, Eternal, Destiny)
Book Order: Chronological, Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult/Teen, Paranormal, Witches, Romance, Magic
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: January 2009 – July 2012
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

PLEASE NOTE: I have not read book 4, Destiny, in the series prior to this review. I will probably never read it either.

My Review:

I read Immortals because it was recommended to me by my recent book purchases a few years ago. It had all the makings of a series I would love but it just fell flat for me and here’s why:

1) I didn’t like Evie–at all. She bored me to tears and was a selfish idiot at times. I didn’t like her relationship with Sebastian either. And because the first two books focus mostly on her, I just couldn’t get into them.

2) The plot is dull. Witch stories aren’t my favourite books ever and this is no exception. I just didn’t like the plot as it didn’t grab my attention.

3) I slowly started to dislike characters I had once liked. Sarah was my favourite character in the first two books, so I was excited when she was the focus of the third book, Eternal. But I didn’t enjoy her character development in it and I didn’t enjoy the plot so it was really blah to me.

4) Teenage angst. ‘nough said

Perhaps I was just too old for these books but I think if I read them when I was 16 I would be bored and sad that this is how girls act.

Series Rating: DNF

overall

Those who like slower plots with a dash of mystery to them and can tolerate selfish characters will like this supernatural series. But it can be boring so if you don’t enjoy the first book, Immortal, don’t bother with the rest.

similarreads
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libby Bray (Gemma Doyle Trilogy #1)
Swoon by Nina Malkin (Swoon Series #1)

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Series Review: The Lovegrove Legacy by Alyxandra Harvey

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

 

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Canadian Author
Series: The Lovegrove Legacy Trilogy
Author: Alyxandra Harvey
# of Books: 3 (A Breath of Frost, Whisper the Dead, In a House Made of Bone and Teeth)

In a House… is a novella to wrap up the series after it was dropped by its publisher.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Witches, Magic, Historical, Romance, Mystery
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Once I started the Drake Chronicle Series by Alyxandra Harvey, she quickly became one of my favourite authors. I just loved her writing style, her fun characters and the cute romances. Though I didn’t completely love the last few books in the Drake Chronicles, I still like reading her works so I was excited to read another series by her.

I’m not the biggest witch fan–I tend to not enjoy the books featuring witches but I changed my mind for two reasons: 1) I’ve really enjoyed Claudia Gray’s new Spellcaster series which is about witches and 2) I love historical young adult reads. So I decided to give it a shot.

Overall, I really enjoyed A Breath of Frost. It was fun and had a lot going on so I never found it dull plot wise. I found though that there was too much detail or it would drag in descriptions so my mind would wander and I would miss important plot changes, causing me to have to flip back and reread a few bits to get a handle on what is happening. But once I did, I figured out what was happening.

I really liked all the characters. The cousins are a lot of fun to read about have each have unique personalities that makes reading about them enjoyable. A Breath of Frost mostly focuses on Emma though but there are bits and pieces of the other characters. I see that the rest of the trilogy will focus on a different cousin but still have the other two cousins present as was the set up in this book.

updates

–October 29, 2014– Book #2: Whisper the Dead

I loved reading Whisper the Dead. It was so much fun to read because Gretchen is the best. She is everything you expected in a witch who rejects polite society so I enjoyed her character immensely. But even if Gretchen isn’t your cup of tea Emma and Penelope make numerous appearances throughout. I found this book never slumped; the plot was always moving in some direction. I found the details didn’t bog me down so much this time so I really liked that. I think fans of the first novel will enjoy this one just as much, if not more 🙂

Book 3? It hasn’t been picked up by the publisher but lets hope one day we get to see this series wrap up!

Series Rating: 4/5

A Breath of Frost 4/5 | Whisper the Dead 4/5 | In a House Made of Bones and Teeth N/A

overall

I’m really looking forward to the rest of the series. It was a lot of fun to read and is a refreshing plotline for the young adult genre. Fans of witches and historical fiction will love the blending of the two in this series!

Read if You Like: witches, magic, girl power
Avoid if You: dislike historical fiction

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for A Breath of Frost (from Goodreads):
In 1814, three cousins—Gretchen, Emma, and Penelope—discover their family lineage of witchcraft when a binding spell is broken, allowing their individual magical powers to manifest. Now, beyond the manicured gardens and ballrooms of Regency London, an alluring underworld available only to those with power is revealed to the cousins. By claiming their power, the three cousins have accidentally opened the gates to the underworld.

Now ghouls, hellhounds—and most terrifying of all, the spirits of dark witches known as the Greymalkin Sisters—are hunting and killing young debutante witches for their powers. And, somehow, Emma is connected to the murders…because she keeps finding the bodies.

Can the cousins seal the gates before another witch is killed…or even worse, before their new gifts are stripped away?

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Movie Mondays: Beautiful Creatures

Movie Mondays: On Mondays, I will review a book series or novel that has been made into a movie. I will then answer the question that everyone asks: which is better, the movie or the book? Here is this week’s offering:

Book: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl | Movie: Beautiful Creatures (2013)

Which did I read/see first? the BOOK

Book Cover | Movie Poster

The Book:

Series: Beautiful Creatures or the Caster Chronicles
SERIESous’ Top Book Series: #3
Genre: Young Adult, Magic, Paranormal, Romance, Drama, Gothic, Southern
Point of View: First Person

Thoughts:

Beautiful Creatures is the start to one of my favourite book series of all time though it isn’t my favourite of the series. However, it is a great start to the series and really sets the stage for the subsequent novels.

It’s a bit of a shock to me that a “witch” book is in my Top 3 favourite series. I usually can’t stand witch/magic novels because I find them a bit boring and the logical, scientific part of my brain struggles with the concept of magic. But this series managed to capture my attention, my heart and my time.

The plot continually builds throughout Beautiful Creatures and finally reaches an awesome climax that sets up the rest of the series. Add to it the great, swoon-worthy romance of Lena and Ethan, their maturity and independence as well as the great cast of characters that surrounds them and this book is a winner.

This book is a lot slower than most books out there so it will take a while to get into. That’s partly because parts of the plot are revealed along the way after we get a feel for the town and partly because it is set in the south and things tend to be slower there.

Conclusion:

A great start to an awesome series. It’s truly unlike anything I have ever read before. Well written, great characters and a mysterious, ever-changing plot that sucks you into the world of casters.

Rating: 4/5
Series Review: Full series review here!

Similar Reads: Nevermore by Kelly Creagh (Nevermore Trilogy, #1) and Spellcaster by Claudia Gray (Spellcaster Trilogy #1)

The Movie:

I can’t remember where I was in the series when they announced the movie, but I do remember being excited. It always seems like my favourite series aren’t known by the general population and there are always rumours of movie options but never any movie. So when they started announcing the cast, I was getting super excited and trying to find every piece of info that I could get about the film.

So first, I’ll talk about the cast. Alice Englert as Lena was EXACTLY what I pictured when reading the book in every way and watching the movie reaffirmed that fact. But Alden Ehrenreich wasn’t what I pictured for Ethan. He just seemed too old for the role and the movie trailers didn’t really sell me on him. He made me skeptical to watch this movie because we read the book from Ethan’s POV so he is essentially the story and on a personal side, Ethan is probably my favourite character of the series next to Link. However, I have to say that by the end of the movie, Ehrenreich won me over and I thought he did a great job as Ethan. As for the rest of the cast, they were all what I imagined them to be and did a great job.

Now, I understand that movie adaptations are always going to be different from the actual books (they are called “adaptations” for a reason) but I like them to be as close as possible or at the very least have them make changes that I understand and can eventually come to respect. And it’s a bit of a mixed case for this movie.

I can understand the changes they made to Amma and I should have known that there were going to be changes considering Viola Davis was coming off an Oscar nomination at the time she was cast. Nevertheless, I also feel like they shot themselves in the foot if they were ever planning on making a sequel because the changes they made have serious consequences on future plotlines. But it became apparent to me by the end of the movie that they were going in a different direction from the book based on the unfolding of certain events if a sequel was ever in the works.

I was watching this on the airplane on my way back from my trip and my brother was looking over my shoulder. He asked me what I was watching and told me that it looked a little cheesy. And I would have to agree with him, it was cheesy at times but I think that is the fault of the graphics. While the book isn’t particularly dark, it isn’t the lightest book out there and I felt like they shied away from that a bit with the aspects of the book they choose to exclude.

One thing I have to give this movie credit for is capturing the feeling of the book. Despite the many changes, they really left the romance between Ethan and Lena the way it was in the book and it was awesome to see some of the key scenes from the book on the screen between the two of them. Also, I always had the hardest time picturing Macon’s house so seeing it in the movie was an added treat for me!

So, which is better: the book or the movie?

In this case, the winner is the BOOK. The plot is just so much more intricate in the novel and exciting that there really isn’t a contest. Fans of the book will probably be upset with the plot changes in the movie and rightfully so as it doesn’t do the book justice. However, I give the movie props for visually creating this wonderful world so well.

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!

Synopsis for Beautiful Creatures (from Goodreads):
Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Trailer:

Series Review: Spellcaster by Claudia Gray

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

Spellcaster by Claudia Gray | Spellcaster Series

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Synopsis for Spellcaster (from Goodreads):
When Nadia’s family moves to Captive’s Sound, she instantly realizes there’s more to it than meets the eye. Descended from witches, Nadia senses a dark and powerful magic at work in her new town. Mateo has lived in Captive’s Sound his entire life, trying to dodge the local legend that his family is cursed – and that curse will cause him to believe he’s seeing the future … until it drives him mad. When the strange dreams Mateo has been having of rescuing a beautiful girl—Nadia—from a car accident come true, he knows he’s doomed.

Despite the forces pulling them apart, Nadia and Mateo must work together to break the chains of his family’s terrible curse, and to prevent a disaster that threatens the lives of everyone around them.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Surprise Reads of 2013
Series: Spellcaster Trilogy
Author: Claudia Gray
# of Books: 3 (Spellcaster, Steadfast, Sorceress)

There is also a prequel novella, The First Midnight Spell — see note below

Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Magic, Witches, Paranormal, Mystery, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: March 2013 – March 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

My Expectations/Why I Picked it Up:

Witches are not normally my “thing” when it comes to reading. I’m not sure why, but I’ve never enjoyed witch books as much as I should. The only exception being Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, one of my all time favourite series. However, I did like the CW TV Series “The Secret Circle” (based on books of the same name) and this book was pitched for fans of that so I decided to give it a shot. I also enjoyed Gray’s Evernight Series and like her style so I decided to pick this book up.

My Review:

I’m glad I did. It’s been a long time since I enjoyed a young adult book (but that could also be because of my hectic school schedule cutting out my reading time and/or only reading short, freebies from Kindle ;)) and once I got into this one, it was hard to put it down.

I think one thing that I liked about this book was the writing style Gray uses. One is that it was very mature. Nadia and group are very grown-up for high school students and I really appreciated it. They weren’t focused on who was dating who (though it does come up of course) but the main point is that it wasn’t the ONLY plot of the book–more on that later. They were all very smart and I really liked all the characters we meet. Another thing I really liked was the third person POV and how it switched between multiple people. I like books like this because you get more plot development and you get a better understanding of the characters. I think it worked really well for this book and I’m glad this was the route Claudia Gray took when writing it.

The plot development in this was great. I like how it unfolded as you read it but there were still a few twists that really add to the story. As I said before, it isn’t primarily a romance novel but there is that element. It is more a mystery/suspense plot that keeps you hooked. I don’t want to dive into it, but the plot really builds as you read.

The series reminded me a lot of Beautiful Creatures in it’s delivery (they have similar starts I think with the main characters) but there is enough in this book to make it unique and different. It will do a good job of filling the void Beautiful Creatures left after the final book was published 🙁

The Novella:

Although The First Midnight Spell is listed as a “prequel” novella, I wouldn’t read it until after you read Spellcaster because it will have some spoilers. While it isn’t necessary to read it for the rest of the series, it does shed some light on a particular character and helps explain why things are the way they are in Captive Sound.

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–May 12, 2014– Book #2: Steadfast

When my eReader died in March, the book I was reading was Steadfast and unfortunately, I wasn’t able to finish it just as I really got into the story. So after a few months of waiting, I finally got my hands on a copy.

Steadfast was a great follow-up to Spellcaster. It has the exact same formula that made the first book so enjoyable and addicting. Again, lots of twists and turns throughout the plot so I never found it to be predictable. One thing I really enjoyed was that we got to see more about Verlaine and to be honest it was her story that really drew me in this time around. I’m really excited to see how everything wraps up in the next and final novel of the series.

–March 25, 2015– Book #3: Sorceress

I was first on my library’s list to get Sorceress when it was released but because of school, I wasn’t able to read it for a few weeks. I’m not sure if it was because I was in a rush to finish it before my download expired or if it is because its been a year since I read Steadfast but I just didn’t get into it. I think I was expecting more instant drama/action based on how Steadfast ends so I felt like Sorceress took a long time to build up to what should have been there from the start (in my opinion). Just past the halfway point was where things started to pick up but by then I was a little bored. Overall though I thought it was a solid way to end the series and I liked the way things progressed eventually. I would like to give it the benefit of the doubt and say that my current mood really influenced my reading. (So while I gave it a 3/5 on GoodReads, it’s more of a 3.5/5 because I think fans of the series will be satisfied).

Series Rating: 4/5

Spellcaster 4/5 | Steadfast 4/5 | Sorceress 3/5

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If you like witches and magic with a dash of romance, pick this up!

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Series Review: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: #3
Series: Beautiful Creatures or Caster Chronicles
Author: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
# of Books: 4 (Beautiful Creatures, Beautiful Darkness, Beautiful Chaos, Beautiful Redemption)

There is a novella that takes place between books 2 & 3 called Dream Dark. There are also background story novellas that are to be read AFTER the series: The Mortal Heart.

Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Magic, Witches, Romance, Paranormal, Gothic, Southern
Heat Rating: cool
Movie Review: Catch my thoughts on the movie here!

Thoughts:

This is one of my favourite series, which surprises even me when you look that the other series in my top 5–but of course there is an excellent reason why the Caster Chronicles is in my Top 3 Favourite Book Series of all time.

I am not a huge fan of witch-paranormal reads. They tend to bore me and the subject of “magic” and how it is often used bothers me. But with this series I never had that problem. Garcia and Stohl weave a rich and addicting story of magic, family and fate which makes each book impossible to put down. I liked the powers that are revealed and used throughout the series as they logistically make sense and it is easy to understand where, when and how they can and cannot be used.

Another thing is the pacing of the books. The story takes place in the South (and I have to say Garcia and Stohl have captured the South perfectly!) so understandably everything moves a little slower. Normally, this would bother me but I found with Beautiful Creatures (which is definitely the slowest book of the 4) I liked the pacing as it really built up the suspense for the climax and the big reveal. The rest of the series still has the Southern feel to it all, but the pacing is a little faster as more of the plot is revealed.

I also adored the characters of the series. Ethan and Lena were incredibly mature for high school students and I was never annoyed with them. They thought everything through and acted accordingly which I really enjoyed. The rest of the cast, like Link, Ridley and Amma–just to name a few–were absolutely fantastic and I was just as interested in their stories as I was with the main plot.

The series overall has a great plot. Each book builds upon each other as you learn about the various families’ pasts, the Caster World and the characters themselves. One thing I really liked was the fact that there are little clues or hints about what is going to happen along the way so everything connects. But I never found the books to be predictable which was great.

Beautiful Darkness does a great job of not falling into the trap of most sequels despite the fact that it contains many elements that most sequel books have. The plot in book 2 is just as strong, if not stronger, than Beautiful Creatures and I enjoyed book 2 a lot more than the first book.

I have to make a special mention of Beautiful Chaos. This is by far my favourite book of the series because as you read this book you discover how much you love the characters. Perhaps this is a spoiler warning but I balled my eyes out for this book–and I mean full out sobbing, tears running down my cheeks for an hour as I read it. I have only had that happen when reading one other book since (that book, for the curious, is Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare of the Infernal Devices Trilogy, #3) but all I can say is I am glad my roommates weren’t home to witness my midnight cry-fest 😉

Beautiful Redemption took me a while to get into. I think part of it was my hesitation to actually finish the series. I have followed it since its start so it was hard to say goodbye to some of my favourite book characters. But the last 150 pages really pick up. I recall being slightly disappointed with the ending (not enough closure for my liking) but overall, it was a great ending to a fantastic series.

UPDATED (May 17/15): I randomly stumbled upon The Mortal Heart on my library’s website and HAD to read it. When this revelation of the past was revealed in the original series, I was floored. It was unexpected and I wanted to know more and this novella is the answer to that. I wish it was a full length novel because it would be such a great story, but in the end this was the perfect length and answered nearly all (what can I say? I’m greedy) my questions. It reminded me how much I love this series and all its layers and I can’t wait to read the other two novellas I think they have planned!

Conclusion:

As I said before, one of the best book series I have ever read. If you are looking for a series that is rich in Southern culture, pick this one up. It is unlike any of the other “magic” series out there and has a deep gothic feel that very few books do nowadays and great lead and supporting characters.

Rating: 4.5/5

Similar Reads: Nevermore by Kelly Creagh (Nevermore Trilogy, #1)

Synopsis for Beautiful Creatures (from Goodreads):
Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Movie Monday: Stardust

Movie Mondays: On Mondays, I will review a book series or novel that has been made into a movie. I will then answer the question that everyone asks: which is better, the movie or the book? Here is this week’s offering:

Book: Stardust by Neil Gaiman | Movie: Stardust (2007)

Which did I read/see first? the MOVIE

Book Cover | Movie Poster

The Book:

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Adventure, Science Fiction

Thoughts:

Neil Gaiman is one of those authors that everyone seems to have read and enjoyed. I myself had never read one of his books before so I decided to give it a shot.

I will admit that my reading of this book is skewed as I saw the movie before I read the book. I think I was expecting a novel more like the movie and that isn’t the case. While the two do share some similarities, there are also some key differences and because of this, I was a little disappointed in the novel.

I liked it enough, but I often felt like it was a little too out-there for me. I didn’t connect with the characters as well as in the movie and I didn’t really like the plot twists as well either. I also thought it was missing out on some of the charm the movie had as well.

Conclusion:

Overall, the book didn’t do much for me. It was an interesting story but didn’t capture my attention all that well.

Rating: 3/5
Similar Reads:

The Movie:

I was skeptical about seeing this movie. When the trailers were playing on TV, I thought “this is going to be a weird movie”. However, I was watching Much Music (the Canadian MTV) and one of the VJ kept raving on and on about how excited she was for this movie and then proceeded to play a few clips from the movie. After seeing these additional clips, my interest was peaked and I waited until it was available on DVD to watch it.

I loved this movie–which slightly shocked me I think. There was so much more to it than the trailers had given me reason to believe and I liked the quirkiness to it. I liked the whole adventure that Tristan and Yvaine go on and the banter between them & the other characters. It was adorable to watch the romance between them. The cast was fantastic and I have to say that Robert De Niro made the movie for me. There is something about the characters in the movie that I like so much more than in the book.

The movie reminded me a bit of The Princess Bride in that it has this charm to it that makes you love it (but be warned, it isn’t nearly as funny). I have since seen it numerous times and every once and a while I just get a hankering to watch it (like as I write this review :P)

So, which is better: the book or the movie?

In this case, the winner is the MOVIE. This is definitely just a personal preference and completely subjective. I don’t think it has anything to do with watching the movie first–I think it is just because I enjoyed the plot path the movie takes more so than the novel. I certainly won’t begrudge anyone who disagrees with me as the novel is beautifully written and so creative and unique but I enjoy the movie a lot more.

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!

Synopsis for Stardust (from Goodreads):
Catch a fallen star…

Tristan Thorn promised to bring back a fallen star. So he sets out on a journey to fulfill the request of his beloved, the hauntingly beautiful Victoria Forester – and stumbles into the enchanted realm that lies beyond the wall of his English country town. Rich with adventure and magic, Stardust is one of master storyteller Neil Gaiman’s most beloved tales, and the inspiration for the hit movie

Trailer:

Spin-off Saturdays: Bloodlines Series by Richelle Mead

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

The Bloodlines Series is a spin-off of the Vampire Academy

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SERIESous’ Top Book Series: #10; Favourite Author
Series: Bloodlines

This is a spin off of the Vampire Academy Series.

Author: Richelle Mead
# of Books: 6 (Bloodlines, The Golden Lily, Indigo Spell, The Fiery Heart, Silver Shadows, The Ruby Circle)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Magic, Vampires, Action, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single; Alternating (Fiery Heart onwards)

Thoughts:

After reading the Vampire Academy (VA) Series, I wasn’t sure how I felt about a spin-off. I loved Adrian in the VA books so I was excited for him to be in the new series; but it was Sydney I wasn’t sure about. It’s not really Sydney’s fault I didn’t love her in the VA books. Her character needed to be who she was in order to progress the story. I warmed up to her by the end of the VA series but she was by no means my top choice for a spin-off character.

Well, it’s a good thing I am not the author of these books! Because Sydney is a great character and I have grown to love her in this new series.

Bloodlines takes fan-favourite characters and gives them the stories we all wanted them to have. From Jill to Eddie to Adrian, all these characters make an appearance in the books. Even Rose and crew appear here and there. Despite the fact that the story is told from Sydney’s POV, we still know what is going on with every other character–just like it was in the VA series.

The first book, Bloodlines, is a slow start to the series but is needed. It really establishes the characters and let’s you into Sydney’s life and thought process–seeing as she was only told through Rose’s perspective in the VA series. Book 2, The Golden Lily is where things start to fall into place and the “overarching” (by this I mean it is a plot that spans multiple books) begins to unwind. It also helps that there is a HUGE cliff-hanger that has you begging for the next one. Book 3, The Indigo Spell does not disappoint and I am counting down the days until book 4, The Fiery Heart is released.

It should be noted that this series doesn’t have much physical action as VA series. It’s there, but Sydney uses other methods, like chemicals and magic, to fight her foes. I tend to not like magic series that have witches so I was worried when the series started to focus more on magic (this series focuses more on the Alchemists than the vampires). I should know by now that Richelle Mead does not disappoint and I really like where this series is going with the spells aspect of it.

UPDATED (Dec 7/13): I was lucky enough to get my hands on The Fiery Heart shortly after it was published. I finished it in a day, that’s how much I loved it! While the book is mostly character development, I never found it to be dull. I think it helped that Adrian gets his own POV so for the first time we really get to see his thought process–and with him being my favourite character in the entire series, I was excited and happy to finally get more insight about him. This book has a great buildup into the next two books of the series and I can’t wait! July 2014 can’t get here soon enough!

UPDATED (August 10/14): When my copy of Silver Shadows finally came in from the library, I went ASAP to grab it and then spent the rest of the weekend reading it. I would have finished in a day but life got in the way :P. Overall, Silver Shadows is a bridging novel that is setting up the plot for the final book (The Ruby Circle) in the series. However, this doesn’t mean that it is dull in anyway. Despite a more singular plotline than the previous novels, I found the book moved at a very quick pace and kept my interest throughout. Fans will not be disappointed–the only disappointment is the waiting 6 months until the conclusion in The Ruby Circle.

UPDATED (March 15/15): It’s always really hard to say goodbye to your favourite characters–and The Ruby Circle was a tough one to read knowing it is the last of the Vampire Academy Universe. I think I was 50 pages from the end when I started to cry knowing I only had a few more pages left. I’ve been following these characters for the last 6 years so expectations were high going into this book and I wasn’t disappointed! I thought The Ruby Circle started slowly but once I was about a third of the way through it picked up immensely and I didn’t put it down. There were unexpected twists, a fast plotline (once it got started) and so many great character appearances, fans of both series will be very, very happy with The Ruby Circle. It’s hard to say goodbye but it makes things 20x easier when you are happy with the ending. I definitely plan on revisiting all of these books in the future.

Conclusion:

To fans of VA: Read this! If you loved Adrian and Sydney (or even Eddie and Jill), you will love this series! It has everything VA had but does it in it’s own unique way. To new fans: even if you didn’t read VA (which I suggest you do!) you could probably get away with diving right into this series. A must read for fans of paranormal YA.

Rating: 5/5

Similar Reads: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (Vampire Academy Series #1)

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WARNING: IF YOU HAVE not FINISHED THE VAMPIRE ACADEMY SERIES THE FOLLOWING SYNOPSIS HAS SPOILERS!

Synopsis for Bloodlines (from Goodreads):
Blood doesn’t lie…

Sydney is an alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of human and vampires. They protect vampire secrets – and human lives. When Sydney is torn from her bed in the middle of the night, at first she thinks she’s still being punished for her complicated alliance with dhampir Rose Hathaway. But what unfolds is far worse. Jill Dragomir – the sister of Moroi Queen Lissa Dragomir – is in mortal danger, and the Moroi must send her into hiding. To avoid a civil war, Sydney is called upon to act as Jill’s guardian and protector, posing as her roommate in the last place anyone would think to look for vampire royalty – a human boarding school in Palm Springs, California. But instead of finding safety at Amberwood Prep, Sydney discovers the drama is only just beginning…

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