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!

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Eliza and Her Monsters

Eliza and Her Monsters

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Made You Up

Synopsis:

Her story is a phenomenon. Her life is a disaster.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.

But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

Thoughts:

I really enjoyed the author’s debut novel, Made You Up, so much so that I had Eliza and Her Monsters pre-ordered. I may have only got around to reading it this January, but I still had faith that I’d enjoy it based on her debut. I wasn’t wrong. Eliza and Her Monsters is a fantastically geeky YA read. I lapped it up!

The story centres around Eliza who, online, is LadyConstellation. She is the anonymous creator of the very popular webcomic ‘Monstrous Sea’. Eliza is very different in real life. She’s quiet, weird and without friends. She really is the polar opposite online, but Eliza wants to keep her online world purely online. Eliza is made to look out for a new transfer student at school named Wallace. She finds out that he’s a super fan of ‘Monstrous Sea’ and writes fanfiction about it! Wallace begins to bring Eliza out of her shell (he simply thinks she’s a fan of the webcomic) and Eliza wonders if a life offline would be so bad. Unfortunately, Eliza’s identity is revealed and life turns completely upside down.

Eliza and Her Monsters is unique because of the way it’s told. It uses illustrations from her webcomics and online chats with her friends on the ‘Monstrous Sea’ forums. It was really important to see this in the story because it made it so much more realistic. Eliza’s life was online and this made it totally believable. I love books that experiment with social media/internet extracts. It’s modern, it’s fun but it doesn’t always work. However, Francesca Zappia really writes it well!

Eliza is a fabulous character who I can imagine many people relating to. I know I saw a lot of myself in Eliza. Eliza found life online much easier to handle than the real world. Eliza was completely different to the rest of her family. She was quiet and anxious and didn’t get social cues as much as others. I loved that you could still tell how much Eliza’s family cared for her even if they left her to her own devices. They knew that’s what Eliza wanted. Wallace was a good addition to the story and I loved how he was bringing her out of her shell and encouraging her to step outside of her comfort zone. He never forced her and was patient. I loved that.

I also appreciated the portrayal of Eliza’s panic attacks. In general, her anxiety was incredibly well represented. The reader could clearly see how it was affecting Eliza’s life and how there wasn’t just a magic fix.

This is a fabulous second novel from Francesca Zappia. I was impressed!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A wonderfully geeky story, but one that also has a 10/10 representation of anxiety!

Banned Books #43- Summer Of My German Soldier

Welcome to 2018’s first edition of Banned Books. Each month, Beth and I review a book that has been on the Banned Books list. This month’s read was Summer Of My German Soldier by Bette Greene.

Summer of My German Soldier (Summer of My German Soldier, #1)

First published: 1973
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2001  (source)
Reasons: offensive language, racism, sexually explicit

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

BETH: Summer Of My German Soldier was first published in 1973, before I was born and it’s one of the older titles on the ALA’s top ten of banned/challenged books, challenged in 2001 which I still think of as fairly recent, I’m not sure about any of you? I was intrigued to read this book, especially when I found out that it was about a young girl and a German Nazi soldier and as with many of the books on our Banned Books list, I don’t agree with many of the reasons for challenging it. For example, I don’t remember any incidences of offensive language (perhaps I just glossed over them?) but I’m actually sitting here, racking my brain right now and I really don’t think there were any “bad words,” that shocked or offended me. Eye roll.

CHRISSI: I was really interested to see why Summer Of My German Soldier was challenged. As Beth mentioned, it is one of the older titles on the list. I didn’t find any of the language offensive in the slightest. There were some moments that were racist, but given its subject matter and the characters, it wasn’t really a surprise to me? I certainly don’t think it’s something that we should shy away from.

How about now?

BETH: As I mentioned, I still think of 2001 as being fairly recent (that probably shows my age!) but it was in fact seventeen years ago. I would have hoped attitudes have changed for the better in those years in that a lot of us are more tolerant and accepting and less racist but sadly, this is not true in all parts of the world or for all groups of people. In 2001, I would not have described this book as sexually explicit in the slightest and I certainly wouldn’t now. Excuse me while I rack my brain once again for even a slight mention of graphic sexual content because there wasn’t one! The only thing I am a little uneasy about in this novel is the racism, which I do agree is there and I don’t particularly like it or condone it. However, I think everyone should have access to all kinds of books, with some stipulations for younger or more sensitive children and in one way, it might educate people about how terrible people of another race were (and still) continue to be treated.

CHRISSI: I could kind of see why it would be banned or challenged but that’s not to say I agree with it. The racism did make for some uncomfortable reading. I know it’s not something that has been eradicated. Goodness knows we still have racism around in 2018, but it’s something that does make me uncomfortable. I don’t think it’s a book that should be banned though because it’s a good talking point and could potentially be educative. It just has to be used with sensitivity and with caution with impressionable readers.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH:  This is such a difficult one. Parts of it I really enjoyed, I loved Patty’s relationship with the housekeeper, Ruth and conversely, absolutely hated her relationship with her parents which made me incredibly uncomfortable and uneasy at points. The thing I had most problems with in this novel however was Patty’s relationship with the German soldier, Anton. She is twelve at the time when she meets him and he is twenty-two. She falls in love with him quite quickly, which is fine and he never outwardly reciprocates her love but there is hints that he feels the same way and that just feels very, very wrong to me. This book is also quite bleak at points so don’t go into it expecting a great resolution and a happy fairy-tale ending.

CHRISSI: Unfortunately, it’s not a book that I enjoyed. I didn’t like the relationships in this novel and it made me feel rather uncomfortable over all. I wouldn’t describe it as a pleasant reading experience!

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: Not sure.

CHRISSI: It’s not for me- I didn’t enjoy reading this book and I think there are better ones out there with the same subject matter.

Literally

Literally

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Annabelle’s life has always been Perfect with a capital P. Then bestselling young adult author Lucy Keating announces that she’s writing a new novel—and Annabelle is the heroine. 

It turns out, Annabelle is a character that Lucy Keating created. And Lucy has a plan for her. 

But Annabelle doesn’t want to live a life where everything she does is already plotted out. Will she find a way to write her own story—or will Lucy Keating have the last word? 

Thoughts:

I had heard so many things about this book that I knew it was one that I wanted to read. Being a book blogger though there are so, so many books that I want to get to it. I finally found time for Literally though and I’m glad I’ve read it. I can see that it would appeal to loads of readers, especially fans of YA.

Literally centres around Annabelle who has always been pretty perfect. She’s clever and well liked. However, one day she finds out that bestselling YA author Lucy Keating (yes, the author) is writing the story of her life. Annabelle doesn’t want to live her life plotted by an author. She wants to live her own life. Annabelle’s life has become drama filled with her family home being sold, her parents’ separation and a love triangle. It really does seem like Annabelle’s life is right out of a YA novel.

This was such a strange book, but different at the same time. I’m not quite sure whether I think the author being in this book is cringy or cool. Sometimes I thought it was genius and other times it seemed a little awkward. I’m sure it was meant in a tongue-in-cheek way. I think the Lucy Keating in this book was an exaggerated version of herself.

At the heart of it, Literally really is your typical YA story. It’s love triangle, romance and drama galore. If that’s what you want in a book, then you’re in for a treat with this one. I did enjoy this book, especially for the risk that Lucy Keating took in writing herself into the story.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

A very unique book. It’s not one I would rave about, but I’m glad that I read it!

Windfall

Windfall

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes. 

At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall. 

As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined…and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect.

Thoughts:

I enjoy Jennifer E. Smith’s writing so I was looking forward to reading it. I was especially intrigued about the subject matter… winning the lottery. It’s not just about the good parts of winning the lottery, it’s about the trouble that goes with it. The fame, those that crawl out of the woodwork and the way it undeniably changes you.

Windfall centres around Alice, Teddy and Leo. Alice buys Teddy a lottery ticket for his birthday as a joke. She never expects him to win, but when he does she worries about him changing. Teddy really wants Alice to take some money, but she is stubborn and doesn’t want the money to change things. Alice has liked Teddy as more than a friend for a long time and is longing to be with him. Will the money change the Teddy that she has loved for a long time?

The thing I love about Jennifer’s writing is the characters that she creates and Windfall is no different. Alice, Leo and Teddy are such fabulous characters (even if they do irritate at times, but who wants a perfect character?) Alice in particular, has gone through a lot in her life after losing her parents not long after one another. Alice lives with her Leo (her cousin) and his parents that took her in when her parents died. They’re incredibly close and so is Teddy, their friend. They look out for one another and it’s adorable.

This is a book that it is heavy with the plot. Not much happens, but at the same time it is an exploration of family and what that means.  The plot is pretty predictable, but I didn’t mind that. I wanted to see how things would turn out for the three. To me, it’s definitely a character driven novel. It’s a story that doesn’t take long to read at all.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

A very sweet, easy to read YA story!

Love, Hate & Other Filters

Love, Hate & Other Filters

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Hot Key Books/Bonnier

Synopsis:

A searing #OwnVoices coming-of-age debut in which an Indian-American Muslim teen confronts Islamophobia and a reality she can neither explain nor escape–perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Jacqueline Woodson, and Adam Silvera.

American-born seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: attending a college close to their suburban Chicago home, and being paired off with an older Muslim boy her mom deems “suitable.” And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and maybe (just maybe) pursuing a boy she’s known from afar since grade school, a boy who’s finally falling into her orbit at school.

There’s also the real world, beyond Maya’s control. In the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.

Thoughts:

I have heard so much about this book over the past few months. I wanted to read it because I knew it was an important story for the author. One of my best friends is Muslim and Islamophobia is something that I feel very, very strongly about. This book wasn’t quite the amazing read that I wanted it to be. It was incredibly powerful at points and heart-breaking at times.

It centres around Maya who is torn between two paths. There’s the path in which her parents want her to be the good Indian daughter, get a respectable job and marry a suitable Muslim boy and the path where she wants to follow her dreams and go to NYU to study film and pursue a guy that she’s interested in. Alongside Maya’s confusion, there’s a horrific crime. Her peers, neighbours and community become consumed with fear and hatred. She experiences Islamophobia. Maya has to find her way in a world that seems to hate her and parents that are determined for her to be a certain way.

Maya came across as a teen very well. Apart from the mention of being Muslim, I don’t feel like she had much of a Muslim identity. I don’t know if that was intentional by the author- making her seem like all her peers. It was just something I observed.

I really enjoyed reading a story from a different voice. I do think I expected more about Islamophobia and I got more about the romance. Don’t get me wrong, it was good to read. I enjoyed Maya as a character and thought her romance was very sweet. I liked how this book had important messages about not judging those on their race and religion. Maya and her parents were often discriminated against, even though they’d been in the community for a while, they weren’t fully accepted due to their religion which is infuriating.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

A fabulous debut about love but also sadly, hate!

Wait For Me

Wait for Me

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

It’s 1945, and Lorna Anderson’s life on her father’s farm in Scotland consists of endless chores and rationing, knitting Red Cross scarves, and praying for an Allied victory. So when Paul Vogel, a German prisoner of war, is assigned as the new farmhand, Lorna is appalled. How can she possibly work alongside the enemy when her own brothers are risking their lives for their country?

But as Lorna reluctantly spends time with Paul, she feels herself changing. The more she learns about him—from his time in the war to his life back home in Germany—the more she sees the boy behind the soldier. Soon Lorna is battling her own warring heart. Loving Paul could mean losing her family and the life she’s always known. With tensions rising all around them, Lorna must decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice before the end of the war determines their fate.

Thoughts:

I have read so many books about World War II so I always get very excited when new books come out. Imagine my excitement when I heard about Wait For Me which was YA based. I do love YA and I’m not afraid to admit it!

Wait For Me centres around Lorna who lives on a farm in Scotland. It is 1945 and alongside going to school, Lorna is helping her father on the farm whilst her two brothers are fighting in the war. Life changes for Lorna and hr family when Paul, a German prisoner of war is sent to help at the farm. Lorna is very hesitant at first, but over time she learns more and more about Paul and finds herself falling for him. This is a dangerous relationship, but Lorna is completely drawn to Paul.

I absolutely devoured this book. I loved Lorna and thought she was such a great character. I loved her determination and her acceptance of Paul as he was. Paul is completely likeable as well. I loved how Caroline Leech portrayed his story and showed the reader his history. They were a likeable, believable romance. As well as Lorna and Paul, there were some more fabulous characters. I really liked Nellie, who helped them on the farm. I also enjoyed reading about Lorna’s dad.

This story is definitely more about the romance and not so heavy on the World War II content. It is there, but it’s more about the relationship developing between Lorna and Paul. So if you’re into romantic historical fiction then this book could be for you!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A sweet WWII romance. A fantastic debut!