These Witches Don’t Burn (These Witches Don’t Burn #1)

These Witches Don't Burn

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Hannah’s a witch, but not the kind you’re thinking of. She’s the real deal, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she’s ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly by Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans. 

But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah’s concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire. Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah’s sure it’s the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.

While the pair attempt to smoke out the Blood Witch at a house party, Hannah meets Morgan, a cute new ballerina in town. But trying to date amid a supernatural crisis is easier said than done, and Hannah will have to test the limits of her power if she’s going to save her coven and get the girl, especially when the attacks on Salem’s witches become deadlier by the day.

Thoughts:

I went into this book not really knowing much about it. I didn’t read any reviews or anything. Just went into it which is the best way to be I think. I really enjoyed reading this book. I don’t think it necessarily did anything different with the witch trope, but it was still a highly enjoyable read that I’m pleased I made time for over summer.

It follows an Elemental witch called Hannah. She lives in Salem, hoping to avoid her ex-girlfriend Veronica over summer. However, dark magic pops up around town and Hannah wonders whether her past has come back to haunt her.

The plot is full of mystery and I thoroughly enjoyed following Hannah and her coven as the story twisted and turned. They had to find out the identity of the person or people behind the dark magic and try to stop it once and for all. Hannah’s also dealing with a crush on Morgan, a new girl in town. I think you’d enjoy this book if you love contemporary. It definitely has a contemporary vibe to it with magical elements which is ideal if you don’t want full on fantasy.

Hannah is a great character. I immediately warmed to her. She’s always trying to do the right thing. For me, she was a perfect balance of being incredibly caring towards others but she definitely had a feisty side to her. I loved seeing that side of her. I loved that there was a really strong friendship between Hannah and Gemma too. I loved reading their interactions. I’m all for strong female friendships in stories.

The only reason I haven’t rated this book any higher, is because despite the ending, I’m fine with not knowing how things end up in future books. There’s something about it that doesn’t compel me to continue the series. I don’t know if it’s just because I’m into standalones at the moment. It is probably a personal thing, so please don’t let that put you off if you’re on the lookout for a magical contemporary read.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A fantastic debut! 

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Again, But Better

Again, but Better

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal—but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that?

Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change—there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure!

Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart.

Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic—the possibilities are endless. 

Thoughts:

I have to admit that I haven’t watched or followed this author on YouTube, although I’ve always been aware of her. I was intrigued to see what this book would be like after reading the synopsis. I thought it was important to put it out there that I’m not a follower of this author, so my review is completely unbiased.

Again, but Better centres around a girl called Shane. Shane has pretty much had her future dictated to her by what her parents want her to do. They want her to become a doctor even though Shane’s desires lie with writing. Shane lies to her parents and ends up spending some time aboard in the UK studying creative writing and interning at a travel magazine. Shane wants a ‘do-over’ with her college experience. She wants to be more outgoing, make friends and truly experience college life. The book is told in two parts. One where Shane is 20 and is studying in the UK and the next set 6 years later.

I thought Again, but Better had an interesting story line. There’s a magical element to this story, which I wasn’t expecting. I hadn’t read about the book or read any reviews before reading the story for myself. I liked the characters even though some of them had silly names. Babe? Pilot Penn? I felt like our main character, Shane, really developed as a character. She felt different in the two time frames and I think that’s so important.

The reason why I haven’t rated this book any higher, is because I had a real issue with the relationship between Shane and Pilot. I felt like it was borderline cheating and further into the book… their relationship just didn’t sit right with me. I also didn’t like the way Pilot’s girlfriend was treated.  I also felt like Shane’s parents were the worst. I know she lies to them and that’s awful, but the way they reacted when the truth was revealed was very uncomfortable for me.

I did like how this book encourages you to live your life your own way, despite what others may think. Such an important message. It also didn’t take me long to read at all. I may not have agreed with the relationship, but I was invested enough to continue reading.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

A promising debut!

The Hating Game

The Hating Game

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.
2) A person’s undoing
3) Joshua Templeman

Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual.

Trapped in a shared office together 40 (OK, 50 or 60) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything—especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking.

If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua, and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth-shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong.

Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game. 

Thoughts:

I haven’t read a book like this for a long time. I used to read a lot of women’s fiction but stepped away from it a while back. However, I do like to dip into the genre now and again. I’d heard so many good things about The Hating Game, reading so many rave reviews, so I thought it was time to check it out.

The Hating Game centres around Lucy and Joshua who work in the same office. They’ve struggled with their relationship for a while now and are constantly trying to better one another. There’s lots of games being played and both of them don’t want to give in. An opportunity for promotion comes up and Lucy and Joshua find themselves in another battle. Lucy decides that if she doesn’t win the promotion game then she’ll resign. She can manage being Josh’s boss, but she couldn’t bare for him to be in charge of her. If there’s so much hate between them, why is Lucy beginning to look at Josh in a different way? Is there really a thin line between love and hate?

I don’t think you’d enjoy this book if you’re not into romance/women’s fiction. It is very romantic and is full of cliches. It has some very common tropes such as office romance and enemies to lovers. I knew pretty much what was going to happen right from the start, but it didn’t bother me. I was still eager to find out how things were going to unravel.

Lucy and Josh’s relationship is funny to read about. Their daily arguments were entertaining and you could see the underlying chemistry between them. Their banter really did make me smile at points.

I think if you’re looking for something light and contemporary, then this book could be for you.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

Although predictable, this book was highly enjoyable!

Soulmates

Soulmates

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Standalone

The Spinster Club 

Synopsis:

Every so often, two people are born who are the perfect matches for each other. Soulmates. But while the odds of this happening are about as likely as being struck by lightning, when these people do meet and fall in love…thunderstorms, lightning strikes and lashings of rain are only the beginning of their problems.

Enter Poppy, the 17-year-old cynic with a serious addiction to banana milk, and Noah, the heart-throb guitarist; residents of mediocre Middletown, sometime students, and…soulmates.

After a chance meeting at a local band night, Poppy and Noah find themselves swept up in a whirlwind romance unlike anything they’ve ever experienced before. But with a secret international agency preparing to separate them, a trail of destruction rumbling in their wake, (and a looming psychology coursework deadline), they are left with an impossible choice between the end of the world, or a life without love…

Thoughts:

I’ve read a few Holly Bourne books now, but had been shying away from her debut, as it was over 500 pages long. I don’t have a lot of time to read unless it’s the holidays, so I tend to stick to shorter books so my concentration doesn’t wane too much. I decided to put Soulmates on my holiday TBR and I’m so pleased I did, because I thought it was an excellent debut from Holly Bourne.

Soulmates may seem like a really overdone topic in YA, but Holly Bourne takes a new twist on it. In Soulmates she explores whether meeting your soulmate is a bad thing. The main characters Poppy and Noah find themselves swept up in a whirlwind romance. However, their love is dangerous. A secret international agency is working on separating the couple, because their love is causing destruction. Poppy and Noah have to decide between the end of the world or a life without their love.

Even though this book is quite a beast, it’s so easy to read! The writing is delightful and I got easily captured within its pages. The characters are so easy to love. I always love the strong feminist tone in Holly’s books. It’s something I really appreciate. Poppy is a great character. I loved how she was so cynical about love but was totally open to it happening when she met Noah. It was a little bit insta-love, but for some reason it worked for me. I also appreciated how Poppy experienced panic attacks (although they seemed to disappear when she met Noah and I’m not sure that sat quite right with me!) It’s always great to read mental health representation in YA stories.

I loved how we occasionally got a different point of view from the secret international agency, it kept me interested as to why Poppy and Noah couldn’t be together. I was desperate to find out why. Soulmates is different because it has this almost sci-fi aspect to the story. It was a really interesting take on love! I would highly recommend this book, if you’re looking for something different in YA!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A wonderfully gripping read!

Little Darlings

Little Darlings

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to HQ

Synopsis:

Everyone says Lauren Tranter is exhausted, that she needs rest. And they’re right; with newborn twins, Morgan and Riley, she’s never been more tired in her life. But she knows what she saw: that night, in her hospital room, a woman tried to take her babies and replace them with her own…creatures. Yet when the police arrived, they saw no one. Everyone, from her doctor to her husband, thinks she’s imagining things.

A month passes. And one bright summer morning, the babies disappear from Lauren’s side in a park. But when they’re found, something is different about them. The infants look like Morgan and Riley―to everyone else. But to Lauren, something is off. As everyone around her celebrates their return, Lauren begins to scream, These are not my babies.

Determined to bring her true infant sons home, Lauren will risk the unthinkable. But if she’s wrong about what she saw…she’ll be making the biggest mistake of her life.

Compulsive, creepy, and inspired by some our darkest fairy tales, Little Darlings will have you checking―and rechecking―your own little ones. Just to be sure. Just to be safe.

Thoughts:

I have to admit that I hadn’t heard much about Little Darlings. I do think it’s one that’s going to be everywhere soon though and deservedly so! Even though it took me longer to read than I wanted it to (super busy teacher here!) if I had the time, I could’ve devoured it easily in one sitting. It’s gripping, creepy and so, so easy to read.

It centres around Lauren Tranter who has recently had twins. She’s understandably exhausted but she’s not going mad. Everyone around her thinks that she is, because they believe she imagined a woman trying to exchange her twins for…creatures. Lauren is certain that the woman was there and won’t let it go. After a month or so, Lauren’s babies (Morgan and Riley) disappear from Lauren’s side as she falls asleep. After a while, the babies are returned to Lauren, but although they may look like Morgan and Riley… Lauren is insistent that they certainly aren’t. She is determined to get her real children back, no matter what it takes.

This book is so incredibly well written. It’s astounding to me that this is a debut. It’s so creepy. I was seriously freaked out every single time changelings were mentioned. Honestly, there are some moments in the story that sent a shiver down my spine. I would’ve loved to have filmed my reaction to reading this book as I’m pretty sure I made some very expressive faces. I imagine I looked like this at many points:

The characters in this story are phenomenal. Lauren was a wonderful unreliable narrator. Did she really see what she did? Was she mentally ill? Her husband seemed super shady. I just didn’t trust anyone. It was really interesting to read the police procedural element to this story. Harper was a fantastic addition to the story and I felt like she really pushed the story on.

Being a fan of the fairy tale, I adored the dark nature of this story. Changelings are terrifying. I was so impressed with this debut.

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

A cracking debut novel! I’m so impressed and look forward to more from Melanie Golding!

The Kiss Quotient (The Kiss Quotient #1)

The Kiss Quotient (The Kiss Quotient #1)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

It’s high time for Stella Lane to settle down and find a husband – or so her mother tells her. This is no easy task for a wealthy, successful woman like Stella, who also happens to have Asperger’s. Analyzing data is easy; handling the awkwardness of one-on-one dates is hard. To overcome her lack of dating experience, Stella decides to hire a male escort to teach her how to be a good girlfriend.

Faced with mounting bills, Michael decides to use his good looks and charm to make extra cash on the side. He has a very firm no repeat customer policy, but he’s tempted to bend that rule when Stella approaches him with an unconventional proposal.

The more time they spend together, the harder Michael falls for this disarming woman with a beautiful mind, and Stella discovers that love defies logic.

Thoughts:

I had heard really mixed things about The Kiss Quotient. I’d heard some rave reviews and some rather negative reviews as well. I was really intrigued to read this book to see where I would lie with it. Admittedly, the biggest draw to this book for me was the autistic main character. I have a wealth of experience with autistic children and have read books where children have autism, I haven’t read many with a female adult that has autism.

The best way to describe The Kiss Quotient (as many other bloggers have) is a gender flipped Pretty Women. Stella, our main character, hires a male escort to help her learn how to seduce men and be in a relationship. Stella has pressure from her parents to settle down, but she feels as if she’s bad at relationships and everything that comes with them. Stella doesn’t expect to connect with Michael, the escort, as much as she does. Michael has his own problems and is an escort for a reason. Both Stella and Michael learn a lot from one another, but their journey is certainly not an easy one.

I have to say, even though there was an escort involved in this book, I didn’t expect there to be quite so much focus on sex. If you don’t like reading steamy romance then this might not be the book for you. There’s certainly quite a lot of explicit moments. It’s not usually my sort of thing, but Stella was such a loveable character that I couldn’t stop turning the pages to find out what was going to happen to her. I felt like the writing was addictive and easy to read. I believe that Stella’s autism was well represented in this book. Not every autistic person is the same, but Stella’s experiences seemed very realistic.

Stella and Michael’s relationship is mainly physical but there are some more tender moments between them. I felt like Michael came across as little too perfect with his perfect body and it made me roll my eyes a little. I liked how everything between them centred around consent. That was so important. I liked the moments when Stella got to know Michael’s family. It wasn’t clear cut for her and she made mistakes. Utterly believable!

So why didn’t I rate this book any higher? Well, I wanted a bit more depth from the story. I felt like it had some glimpses of some deeper moments but there wasn’t enough substance for me. Perhaps I’m just super picky? I am definitely interested enough to read The Bride Test which I read is about different characters but still has the autistic voice that I loved from this book.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

Usually explicit content isn’t for me, but this story pulled me in! A very accomplished debut!

Fat Girl On A Plane

Fat Girl on a Plane

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Fat.

High school senior Cookie Vonn’s post-graduation dreams include getting out of Phoenix, attending Parsons and becoming the next great fashion designer. But in the world of fashion, being fat is a cardinal sin. It doesn’t help that she’s constantly compared to her supermodel mother—and named after a dessert. 

Thanks to her job at a fashion blog, Cookie scores a trip to New York to pitch her portfolio and appeal for a scholarship, but her plans are put on standby when she’s declared too fat to fly. Forced to turn to her BFF for cash, Cookie buys a second seat on the plane. She arrives in the city to find that she’s been replaced by the boss’s daughter, a girl who’s everything she’s not—ultrathin and superrich. Bowing to society’s pressure, she vows to lose weight, get out of the friend zone with her crush, and put her life on track. 

Skinny. 

Cookie expected sunshine and rainbows, but nothing about her new life is turning out like she planned. When the fashion designer of the moment offers her what she’s always wanted—an opportunity to live and study in New York—she finds herself in a world full of people more interested in putting women down than dressing them up. Her designs make waves, but her real dream of creating great clothes for people of all sizes seems to grow more distant by the day. 

Will she realize that she’s always had the power to make her own dreams come true?

Thoughts:

I was really intrigued by this book based on the title alone. Fat Girl On A Plane? What? I was eager to find out what this book was going to be about! I’m so pleased I read it. It was really easy to read! Perfect if you’re looking for a YA contemporary book to add to your TBR for the summer.

The story is told by the same character but from different points of time. This is the time when she was fat and the time when she was skinny. It starts with our main character, Cookie, getting the opportunity to fly to NYC to interview the designer Gareth Miller. She is told by the airline that she has to buy another seat because they deem her unable to fit into a single seat. Urgh. After finding the money, Cookie arrives in NYC but her trip doesn’t go the way she planned. Cookie believes that if she loses weight then she’ll be better accepted in the fashion world. She believes that skinny=happy. She’ll have more success and land the man of her dreams. Everything seems to be going the way she had planned, but Cookie soon finds out that skinny doesn’t always = happy.

Cookie is a fantastic character and there are lots of laugh out loud moments in this book. The author explains that this isn’t a ‘get-thin-be-happier’ story and I’m glad of that. We should learn to be happy in our own skin and thin doesn’t always mean happier. I did like that this book challenged the way we see happiness. I don’t think many people are truly happy with everything on their body and think the grass is always greener on the other side.

I think this book is well worth reading if you’re looking for a light YA contemporary read.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

A solid debut! I enjoyed this book!