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! 

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- The Dreamsnatcher (Dreamsnatcher #1)

The Dreamsnatcher (Dreamsnatcher #1)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Twelve-year-old Molly Pecksniff wakes one night in the middle of the forest, lured there by a recurring nightmare – the one with the drums and the rattles and the masks. The Dreamsnatcher is waiting. He has already taken her dreams and now he wants her life.

Because Moll is more important than she knows… The Oracle Bones foretold that she and Gryff, a wildcat that has always been by her side, are the only ones who can fight back against the Dreamsnatcher’s dark magic. Suddenly everything is at stake, and Moll is drawn into a world full of secrets, magic and adventure. 

Thoughts:

I had heard good things about this author, so I was intrigued to pick up a copy of The Dreamsnatcher. For me, it was a little slow to start but when it picked up the pace, it was hard to put it down.

Our main protagonist is a 12 year old girl called Molly. She wakes one night in the middle of the forest, having being lured there by a nightmare. The nightmare that keeps on recurring. When she arrives there she realises The Dreamsnatcher is waiting for her. He has taken her dreams and wants to take even more. What Moll doesn’t realise, is that she’s actually very important. She and the wildcat, Gryff are the only ones that can battle The Dreamsnatcher’s dark magic. We’re thrown into Moll’s world as she begins to unravel secrets through her journey and adventures.

I really enjoyed the world in which this book is set in. Abi Elphinstone’s writing is superb and so easy to read. There’s so much to get stuck into and enjoy. I really think it would capture the attention of both adults and children. The chapters are fairly short so it leaves you eager to find out what is going to happen next.

For Beth’s wonderful review, please check out her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit Challenge (August):
The Royal Rabbits of London- Santa Montefiore and Simon Sebag Montefiore

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- The Titan’s Curse (Percy Jackson and The Olympians #3)

The Titan's Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #3)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

It’s not everyday you find yourself in combat with a half-lion, half-human.

But when you’re the son of a Greek god, it happens. And now my friend Annabeth is missing, a goddess is in chains and only five half-blood heroes can join the quest to defeat the doomsday monster.

Oh, and guess what? The Oracle has predicted that not all of us will survive…

Thoughts:

I am late to the party with Percy Jackson but it’s a series that I’m pleased that we’re reading for this kid-lit feature. I have to admit, I don’t quite ‘get’ the love as much as some super fans do. Please don’t get me wrong. There’s no denying that it’s an excellent adventure series and I adore the Greek mythology, it’s just not a series that I see myself re-reading. That said, I am enjoying my step into Percy Jackson and I thought The Titan’s Curse was an excellent addition to the series so far.

In this book, we follow Percy, Annabeth and Thaila as they try to help Grover sneak two half-bloods out from a military style school. As you can imagine, things go wrong and they come across another problem. Annabeth is kidnapped during a battle. It’s another mission for Percy. Another chance to save someone!

There are some really intriguing characters in this instalment. I always love to meet the Gods and Goddesses and they are there in abundance in this tale. I also enjoyed the character Zoe. She’s prickly and a bit of a brat but I thought she was interesting. I think you learn more about why she is the way she is as the story progresses.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how this story continues. I adore how the author incorporates Greek mythology so seamlessly. It certainly keeps things interesting for me. Rick Riordan is a fantastic writer and its his writing that keeps me glued to the pages. He’s effortlessly funny and keeps the story moving at a great pace.

For Beth’s wonderful review, please check out her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit Challenge (April):
Demon Dentist- David Walliams

Banned Books #56- Northern Lights/The Golden Compass

Banner made by Luna @ Lunaslittlelibrary

Welcome to this month’s edition of Banned Books. This month we read Northern Lights/The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman.

Northern Lights (His Dark Materials, #1)

First published: 1995
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2008 (source)
Reasons: political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, violence.

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: Of course not. I’m one of those people who never experienced reading the His Dark Materials series as a child so I only came to it with an adult mentality. Either way, I think I would have had the same opinion. There is no reason on earth why this book should be challenged or banned, ESPECIALLY for the reasons mentioned. As always, I tried to guess the reasons why this book, the first in the series, might have been difficult for some people to stomach and once again, I was completely wrong. I assumed that the fantasy/magical aspect might have offended a few people (even though children clearly love a good, imaginative narrative that doesn’t necessary have to be believable!).

CHRISSI: I have to say no. It’s a load of poppycock. I have no idea why this book was challenged. Like Beth, I thought it might be about the fantasy elements, I know some of the parents of children at my school don’t like fantasy because of religious reasons and I wondered whether that could be it. No. Political viewpoint? Religious viewpoint? This confuses me.

How about now?

BETH: Northern Lights was challenged over ten years after it was published and to be honest, I’m struggling to see why if there were challenges from concerned readers, they didn’t appear prior to 2008? If anyone has any ideas, please do enlighten me! Additionally, it really does irritate me when the reasons for challenging a book point towards a political or religious viewpoint. Now, I’m not a particularly political or religious individual BUT I do like to learn about different attitudes/cultures and viewpoints and I very much enjoy it when there’s a difference of opinion to my own in a novel, unless I feel like I’m being preached to. Saying that however, I really didn’t think there was a strong viewpoint either political or religious in Northern Lights and I’m a bit confused as to where this reasoning has come from?

CHRISSI: I am utterly confused by the reasons for challenging this book. I didn’t think it had a particularly strong political or religious viewpoint. Even if it did, why does it matter? Why should it be banned? Shouldn’t we be allowed to make our own minds up? Shouldn’t we open our minds a little to other’s views?

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: I really love His Dark Materials as a series but particularly this first novel, Northern Lights. Lyra is a wonderfully rich character who never fails to make me laugh, the world-building is imaginative and thought-provoking and I adored the adventure aspect of the entire novel. Plus, I absolutely love the idea of having a daemon companion as a unique part of your personality. I’d love to know what yours would be in the comment below if you’ve read this book? Mine would be a ring-tailed lemur!

CHRISSI: Ooh. This is a toughie. Whilst I appreciate that Philip Pullman is a talented writer and that this story is fabulously creative… there’s something about it that I don’t connect with. I have a disconnect with it and I can’t tell why. I usually like fantasy/magical reads but this one leaves me quite cold. I know I am in the minority with that. I certainly wouldn’t dissuade anyone from reading it! Oh and my daemon would definitely be a lop eared rabbit!

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Yes!

Magic Under Stone (Magic Under #2)

Magic Under Stone (Magic Under, #2)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Magic Under Glass

Synopsis:

For star-crossed lovers Nimira and Erris, there can be no happily ever after until Erris is freed from the clockwork form in which his soul is trapped. And so they go in search of the sorcerer Ordorio Valdana, hoping he will know how to grant Erris real life again. When they learn that Valdana has mysteriously vanished, it’s not long before Nimira decides to take matters into her own hands—and begins to study the sorcerer’s spell books in secret. Yet even as she begins to understand the power and limitations of sorcery, it becomes clear that freeing Erris will bring danger—if not out-and-out war—as factions within the faerie world are prepared to stop at nothing to prevent him from regaining the throne. 

Thoughts:

Oh my goodness! I have been meaning to read this book for years. Literal years. No hyperbole. I read the first book in 2013. 2013!!!! It’s ridiculous that this book has been on my shelves for so long. I certainly think it’s a lesson to myself- don’t leave books too long. However, stepping into this story, it didn’t feel like it had been as long. I was super happy to return to Nimira, Erris and the world that Jaclyn Dolamore created.

Erris is trapped in clockwork form. He goes with Nimira to find the great sorcerer Ordorio Valdana, hoping that he will be able to give Erris a real life. They soon found out that Valdana has vanished. Nimira starts to study Valdana’s books in secret, but she realises that freeing Erris brings danger and possible war between the worlds…

It’s always hard to read a sequel of a book that you loved so dearly. Whilst this book didn’t quite capture my heart as much as its predecessor, it was still such an easy to read book.

The characters are incredibly complex, although I’m sad to say some of them did grate on me a little towards the middle of this book. I felt that their actions somewhat brought the book to a slower pace and I just wanted them to get on with saving Erris. I did really enjoy the inclusion of Ifra, a new character to this duology. He was a very interesting character and added something exciting to the story that’s for sure.

I’m not sure that I was overly satisfied with the ending. It felt a little rushed for my liking. I felt like I had a lot of unanswered questions. Whilst I wasn’t disappointed by this book, it lacked some magic of the first.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

I’m thrilled that I finally got around to reading this book. It didn’t quite match the first, but I’m pleased I managed to read it!

RoseBlood

RoseBlood

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera. 

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

Thoughts:

Hmm.. this is going to be an interesting review to write because I have very mixed feelings about it. I had read a few mixed reviews so I had prepared myself that I might not like this story. I always like to give a book a go though, so I did. I wasn’t sure about a Phantom Of The Opera reimagining. However, I thought it was something unique and A.G Howard’s story was definitely that.

In A.G. Howard’s reimagining, The Phantom is very much live and kicking. There are references to the original story, but RoseBlood definitely doesn’t read like a retelling. It’s A.G. Howard imagining what could happen next. There are some very ‘interesting’ plot twists which I don’t want to mention, as I don’t want to spoil the story for those that do want to give it a go. There are also some very heavy issues included in the story, making me think that this story would be best for the higher age range of YA.

Rune is the main character and I can imagine she’s going to grate on some readers. I didn’t mind her though. I enjoyed her interactions with her new friends and I felt like she grew throughout the story. I actually preferred reading from the point of view of the Phantom’s adopted son. I wonder if the narrative had followed him alone, whether I would have enjoyed this book more?

I think this book is far too long. I felt like if it was 100 pages lighter, then my rating might have been higher. I just felt like some of the events were dragged out and unnecessary which is a shame. It affected the pace and I think if it had been shorter, the pace would have picked up, for sure!. I think RoseBlood is worth a try, especially if you’re a fan of the author’s writing.

Would I recommend it?:
It’s not for me!- 2.5 stars- I found it a bit slow and strange in places…

Sadly, this book didn’t work for me!

How To Hang A Witch

How to Hang a Witch

How did I get it?:
Received from Walker Books, in exchange for an honest review!

Synopsis:

After Sam’s father is hospitalised, she has to move from New York to Salem with her stepmother, Vivian. Unfortunately, Sam is related to Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for the Salem Witch Trials, and to say she feels unwelcome in Salem is an understatement… She is particularly unnerved by The Descendants, a mysterious and tight-knit group of girls related to those persecuted in the Trials. At the same time, she must deal with Elijah, the handsome but angry ghost who has appeared in her house, and her new neighbour Jaxon only complicates things further.

Thoughts:

I’m not going to lie, I do love a good witch-y read. Quite often though, they make me cringe. I had heard good things about How To Hang A Witch so when I had the opportunity to read it, I quickly snapped it up. I really enjoyed reading this book. It didn’t take me long to read it at all. I thought Adriana Mather had a very addictive writing style. Her writing is incredibly easy to read. I loved how it was a little bit paranormal but also had element of historical fiction.

How To Hang A Witch is set in Salem. We all know Salem as the place where the infamous witch trials took place. Our main character is Sam who is related to Cotton Mather, a man who practically encouraged witch-fearing. Salem is pretty proud of its history. The town is not happy about Sam’s arrival. Right from her first day she suffers bullying and harassment, especially from a group of girls called The Descendants who are descendants of the convicted witches. Sam also had to deal with a spirit who has appeared in her house and then there’s Jaxon, another complication.

I absolutely adore historical fiction, so the element of the story that involved the witch trials really captured my attention. I loved the descriptions of Salem. A place that fascinates me. It came across as so eerie which I adored! I also loved that the author was a Mather. It gave a personal feel to the story for me that I really enjoyed.

I liked Sam as a character. I didn’t enjoy the relationship with her stepmother though. I found their arguments a little tedious to read. I found Sam’s attitude quite frustrating at times but I liked her determination. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the romance element of this book. It felt to me like the author was trying to make a love triangle happen. I’m not a fan of love triangles at all. It actually turned me off the story a little.

I’m interested to read the next book in the series. Adriana Mather has me intrigued!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

I’m intrigued to see where this series goes next!