5 stars · Fantasy · middle grade

Nightbooks by J.A. White: a magical middle-grade novel

36425992

Nightbooks

author : j.a. white

pages : [hardcover] 304

favorite character : lenore

summary :

Alex has loved scary stories his whole life.

He never imagined he be trapped in one.

When Alex sneaks out in the middle of the night, he becomes imprisoned by the witch Natacha in her magical apartment. Another child in the apartment, Yasmin, assures Alex that she’s already tried every means of escape. Only Natacha holds the bonekeys that lead back to their world, and she’ll never part from them.

But Natacha likes stories. And Alex’s only chance for survival is to keep Natacha satisfied by reading her one of his own hair-raising tales each night. But Alex is running out of time—and original stories—and he’s desperate for a way out of this twisted place.

review :

All of us know the power of a story.

When Alex sneaks out at night to destroy his stories, instead he ends up trapped in a witch’s lair–er, apartment. To keep her from cursing him, or worse, he must tell her a different scary story each night.Nightbooks is like a combination of 1001 Nights and Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Alex needs to please the witch with his horror stories long enough to escape, or he’ll be permanently trapped in the witch’s apartment.

This story was so unique and magical and absolutely lovely. It’s a middle-grade book and exactly the sort of story my middle school self would have loved. It was very creepy; there were moments that freaked out present-me as well. I think readers will appreciate having Alex as a main character, too, because so many readers are interested in the creation of stories, even if they aren’t writers themselves. Alex experiences many of the struggles typical writers do, and maybe that only occur to horror writers. Plus there’s the whole cursed-by-a-witch threat hanging over his head, which would be sure to give anyone writer’s block.

The setting and the way magic interacts with it is so cool and vivid that I could picture it all. Honestly, I could see them turning this into a neat children’s movie. The way that the setting itself feels like a character and influences the plot so much is done incredibly well.

The writing is fun, too, and I love that we actually get to read Alex’s stories as he tells them. It’s a testament to J. A. White’s skill that Alex’s stories have a completely different voice and feel to them than the rest of the plot. We know when we’re reading Alex the narrator, and we know when we’re reading Alex the writer.

I think that readers will absolutely adore Nightbooks. It’s a standalone and a very quick, magical, creepy read. It’s completely unique, and middle-grade readers will love getting something new on their shelves.

5/5 stars

 

5 stars · fiction · young adult

The Graces by Laure Eve was such a weird and awesome book

25365584

The Graces

author : laure eve

pages : [paperback] 432

release date : september 1 2016

favorite character : river

summary :

Everyone said the Graces were witches.

They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair.

They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different.

All I had to do was show them that person was me.

Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on?

This beautifully-written thriller will grip you from its very first page.

review :

This book was so different from what I thought it was going to be and I loved it.

River is an odd teenager. She doesn’t really have any friends, had to leave her old town under mysterious circumstances, and has a weird home life. Her mom isn’t around much but she desperately wants River to fit in. So when River begins to hang out with undeniably the weirdest–and for some reason most popular–family in town, she doesn’t specify to her mom that she’s hanging with the Graces. Rumored to be witches, they hardly ever let anyone into their inner circle. But River’s in, and she wants to know all of their secrets.

I think what a lot of people will find difficult to digest about this book is that River is such an unlikable character. But she’s interesting. Her way of thinking is kind of crazy, so you literally have no idea what she’ll do next–or what lengths she’ll go to in order to impress the Graces or gain their trust. She’s determined to be the one person who’s worthy of the Graces’ times, so it’s obvious that she looks down on everyone. I know a lot of people can’t push through characters like her, but it’s so worth it and I loved reading everything from her perspective because everything was slightly twisted.

While I didn’t exactly not see the plot twists at the end coming (well, I’d guessed a few, not all), I was excited that the book took the turn that it did. Because for so much of the book, it was so cool to see how everything that could have been magical could also have just been pure coincidence. It was like reading two books at once-a contemporary and a paranormal–that come together at the end into something awesome.

I’d definitely recommend this book. It’s so different from anything else that I’ve read, the characters and narrative are awesome, and the building plot is so great.

5/5 stars

 

4 stars · paranormal · series

Wind and Shadow by Tori L. Ridgewood

Wind and Shadow

The Talbot Trilogy #1

author : tori l. ridgewood

pages : [paperback] 228

summary :

Rayvin Woods, photographer and natural witch. She just wanted to start her life over again after a series of misadventures. She didn’t count on rekindling a lost love when she came home to Talbot…or battling a malevolent vampire and his coven for her life.

Grant Michaels, police officer. He thought Rayvin was a murderer. He will do whatever it takes to protect the community he loves from danger…but will he learn to trust his heart, and the word of a witch, before it’s too late?

Malcolm de Sade, cunning vampire, imprisoned underground for a year by Charlotte Fanning and Pike Mahonen (“Mist and Midnight”, Midnight Thirsts). His accidental release unleashes his hunger and ambition on a small, sleepy town…

***

Facing the past can be a nightmare. It’s worse when a vampire is stalking you.

review :

I really didn’t know what to expect from this book because it seems like there are so many books about witches circulating these days, yet Rayvin manages to make an impression. She’s not your typical witch and she’s not willing to just sit by and let other people take charge, either. I loved reading from her perspective and knowing that she was going to get things done as well as take care of the people she cares about. Rayvin has been hurt, several times, in the past, but I like that she doesn’t dwell on that or let it get in her way.

That said, I don’t feel like I really connected with the book until about halfway through. There was a lot of build-up and I thought that I could see where the plot was going, though some points were confusing and I thought that some of the decisions Rayvin was making didn’t make much sense. But as the action began to pick up in the last half of the book, so did my interest, until I ended the book wondering when I could get the next one. I’m really interested in what happens next to these characters, especially because there were a few twists in there that I hadn’t expected. Because the plot at first seemed so predictable I think they were even more unexpected and made the impact even greater, which might account for why my interest suddenly switched.

There wasn’t much said about Charlotte and Pike, the people who originally trapped the vampire, in this book, so I really hope there’s a lot more about them in the sequel. I think it’d be interesting to see if there are other creatures out there, too, because Rayvin didn’t know for certain that vampires existed until one was trying to kill her! There are so many ways the next book could go and I think, if it picks up the way this book ended, it’ll be fantastic.

I recommend this book to people who are fans of supernatural creatures, romance, and an interesting story.

4/5 stars

action · Fantasy · fiction · romance · series

Every Which Way But Dead by Kim Harrison

 

Every Which Way But Dead

Author: Kim Harrison

Pages [paperback]: 501

The Hollows #3
Book 1: Dead Witch Walking
Book 2: The Good, the Bad, and the Undead

Memorable Quote:
Join us next time for Days of the Undead when Rachel learns her long lost brother is really a crown prince from outer space.

Favorite Characters: Jenks & Ceri

Summary:

There’s no witch in Cincinnati tougher, sexier, or more screwed up than bounty hunter Rachel Morgan, who’s already put her love life and soul in dire jeopardy through her determined efforts to bring criminal night creatures to justice.

Between “runs,” she has her hands full fending off the attentions of her blood-drinking partner, keeping a deadly secret from her backup, and resisting a hot new vamp suitor.

Rachel must also take a stand in the war that’s raging in the city’s underworld, since she helped put away its former vampire kingpin–and made a deal with a powerful demon to do so that could cost her an eternity of pain, torment, and degradation.

And now her dark “master” is coming to collect his due.

Review:

I’ve quickly fallen in love with the Hollows series, and am already trying to get my hands on book four. Every Which Way But Dead picks up a few months after book two ended, with Rachel stuck as a demon’s familiar and a new, powerful threat in town ready to take over while Piscary’s in jail.

A few new characters were introduced in this book, both allies and enemies, and they were all as equally brilliant as the returning faces I was happy to see. And, a few people who mildly annoyed me from before had the good sense to stay out of the plot, making it even better. I finished the book in a few days, because each chapter flowed seamlessly into the next, and kept me rooting for Rachel and wanting to know where the plot would twist next. Because everything I didn’t expect seemed to happen.

I like it when a book can take me by surprise, still make sense, and really stick with me. Some books I read, the characters’ names slip out of my head as soon as I set it down. Not so for this series, and I don’t see it happening anytime soon. I don’t want to anticipate too much and disappoint myself, but I think I’ll definitely read these books through to the end. Which I hope is a long time coming.

SUPERNATURALLY THRILLING. 5/5 stars

5 stars · fiction · romance · science fiction · series · young adult

Happy Birthday to Me Again by Brian Rowe

Happy Birthday to Me Again

Author: Brian Rowe

Pages [ebook]: 174

Book 2 of the Birthday Trilogy
Book 1: Happy Birthday to Me

favorite characters: Cameron & Kimber

summary:

Cameron Martin has a huge problem: he’s aging a whole year of his life with each passing day… again. And this time… he’s going backward!

When Cameron proposes to his beloved witch of a girlfriend Liesel, he thinks life can’t get any better. But when he reluctantly breaks off the engagement just days before the wedding, Liesel angrily unleashes another curse on the unlucky guy, this time making him age backward, from eighteen, all the way to zero.

Making matters worse, Liesel mysteriously disappears, leaving Cameron with no options, except watching himself rapidly shrink into a helpless child. Will Liesel be able to save his life again? Or will Cameron ultimately fall prey to his girlfriend’s wicked spell?

review:

I’ve been looking forward to reading this sequel ever since I finished the first book, and Happy Birthday to Me Again was more than worth the wait! Cameron and Liesel are back and better than ever, this time facing an entirely new set of problems. Now that they’ve worked out most of the problems in their relationship, Cameron is ready to take the next big step forward. So is Liesel. Problem is, everyone else isn’t exactly in agreement. Well, except for Kimber. Add in another curse-this time purely accidental-that sets the clock backward for Cameron, an unexpected nemesis, a friend that wants to turn his life i major motion picture, and a grumpy old librarian he just can’t stop running into . . . Things aren’t looking so well for him.

Packed with as much humor, suspense, and action as the first book, this novel had me flying through the pages, wanting to know what would happen on the next one, and the next day. Some parts had me laughing out loud, and others had me holding my breath as the suspense built.

I don’t think I can recommend this trilogy enough. Even if it’s not what you typically what you read, I recommend you give it ago. It’s a light, satisfying read that’s worthwhile.

AGING BEAUTIFULLY. 5/5 stars

4 stars · Fantasy · fiction · series

Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison

Dead Witch Walking

Author: Kim Harrison

Pages [paperback]: 416

Book 1 in the Hollows series

Memorable Quote: Most of the upper management of I.S. were undead. I always thought it was because the job was easier if you didn’t have a soul.

Favorite Characters: Jenks & Nick

Summary:

The underground population of witches, vampires, werewolves—creatures of dreams and nightmares—has lived beside humans for centuries, hiding their powers. But after a genetically engineered virus wipes out a large part of humanity, many of the “Inderlanders” reveal themselves, changing everything.

Rachel Morgan, witch and bounty hunter with the Inderland Runner Services, is one of the best at apprehending supernatural lawbreakers throughout Cincinnati, but when it comes to following the rules, she falls desperately short. Determined to buck the system, she quits and takes off on the run with an I.S. contract on her head and is reluctantly forced to team up with Ivy, Inderland’s best runner . . . and a living vampire. But this witch is way out of her league, and to clear her name, Rachel must evade shape-changing assassins, outwit a powerful businessman/crime lord, and survive a vicious underground fight-to-the-death . . . not to mention her own roommate.

Review:

Rachel Morgan is one tough witch, and she’s really got me wanting to continue this series. I actually already have book two sitting beside me… The faster this review is done, the faster I can get to reading! (:

Dead Witch Walking is set in a sort of parallel universe where during a time called the Turn, several decades before the book is set, a great majority of humanity’s population was wiped out as a result of a great virus, originating in . . . tomatoes. Although it might be an odd way to have a disease introduced, this does lead to several funny scenes involving tomatoes. Anyway, the non-human species-witches, vampires, pixies, etc.-all decided to reveal their presence in the world, because, being immune to the virus, their numbers were near equal to the humans. What better time would they have to make sure the humans wouldn’t be able to freak out and kill all of them?

Ever since then, both humans and creatures have been working to subdue some of the nastier creatures. That’s where Rachel comes in. She’s been working to help with this for a while, but has decided to quit. And the organization doesn’t exactly let people out of their contracts. Now that she has assassins coming for her, life isn’t looking too well.

The plot in this book is so quick, it had me hooked immediately. Some parts had me wincing, wondering what could possibly happen next. Others had me laughing aloud. I loved the versatility, pulled off smoothly and effortlessly. I fell in love with all of the characters-and can’t wait to see more of the bad guys. This is one series I’ll be following for a while. There’re about a dozen books out so far, I think. That’s enough to keep me happy.

BEWITCHINGLY FANTASTIC. 4/5 stars

5 stars · classic · Fantasy · fiction · romance · young adult

A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn

 

A Kiss in Time

Author: Alex Flinn [also wrote Beastly]

Pages [paperback]: 371

Memorable Quote: “Parents always forgive you. Like sometimes, you see parents on the news, and their kid just got busted for murdering a 7-11 clerk, and they’re like, ‘But my Bubba’s a good boy. He’d never hurt a fly.’ So I’m sure your parents would forgive you for whatever you did.”

Favorite Characters: Talia & Jack

Available now

Summary:

Talia fell under a spell. . . .
Jack broke the curse.

I was told to beware the accursed spindle, but it was so enchanting, so hypnotic. . . .

I was looking for a little adventure the day I ditched my tour group. But finding a comatose town, with a hot-looking chick asleep in it, was so not what I had in mind.

I awakened in the same place but in another time—to a stranger’s soft kiss.

I couldn’t help kissing her. Sometimes you just have to kiss someone. I didn’t know this would happen.

Now I am in dire trouble because my father, the king, says I have brought ruin upon our country. I have no choice but to run away with this commoner!

Now I’m stuck with a bratty princess and a trunk full of her jewels. . . . The good news: My parents will freak!

Think you have dating issues? Try locking lips with a snoozing stunner who turns out to be 316 years old. Can a kiss transcend all—even time?

Review:

Alex Flinn’s Beastly is what really got me interested in modernized fairy tales, so I was happy to find another retold classic by her; this time focusing on Sleeping Beauty. Which also happens to be my favorite princess story.

When first reading, I was afraid I’d be annoyed by the alternating narrators, Talia and Jack. They’re both completely full of themselves and snobbish to the extreme. I knew they were written that way purposefully, but sometimes that sort of character just isn’t enjoyable for me. But I got over that fear within a few chapters, because having Talia experience the modern world was completely hilarious. Everything went wonderfully from then on.

I really loved how the evil presence was introduced in this book-Malvolia, the witch that cast the spell on Talia that made her sleep for three hundred years. She didn’t give up on revenge after Jack’s kiss broke the spell, which I liked because it made sense as well as made the plot more interesting.

I’m definitely going to have to check out Cloaked, another fractured fairy tale penned by Alex Flinn. I have a feeling I’ll eventually read everything by her. She’s a wonderfully creative, fresh, and funny author.

I give A Kiss in Time 5/5 stars. I love this new take on Sleeping Beauty!

Uncategorized

Books to Movies: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, in theaters now, is the third movie released in the world of Narnia. The series is unique in that the books were written, published, and established chronologically in completely different orders. Now, the movie order is added to that list, as The Magician’s Nephew, technically the first of the books, and The Horse and His Boy, the third, have been skipped. Presumably this is because most of the characters in those novels are not in the movies now being shown; viewers would be confused when confronted with the completely different storyline.

That said, when I saw The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (okay, I’ve just called it Narnia 3 for . . . ever, actually. The other title seemed too long), I was disappointed with how much was changed. I expected a difference because that’s the norm, but this whole mysterious ‘mist’ that was . . . attacking everyone? The root of all evil, or something? Yeah, I never heard of it before . . . To give the movie a more structured plotline, the mist was added in. It did add nice moral themes to the story.

I did enjoy seeing Ben Barnes again. 😉 Caspian is definitely one character I’m going to miss.

I loved the Narnia books (they totally made my childhood) and am loving the movies. Though a lot has changed, it doesn’t mean they aren’t fantastically made. The special effects (as well as I can judge, and I know nothing about them xD) were great, and it’s a fun adventure film.

Except for that sea serpent. Ugh, I’m going to have nightmares.