Review: The Rules of Magic

Title: The Rules of Magic
Author: Alice Hoffman
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
Source: NetGalley
Release Date: October 10, 2017
Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man.

Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk.

From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Back in New York City each begins a risky journey as they try to escape the family curse.

The Owens children cannot escape love even if they try, just as they cannot escape the pains of the human heart. The two beautiful sisters will grow up to be the revered, and sometimes feared, aunts in Practical Magic, while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy.

Review:

I really enjoyed this book. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a prequel to Practical Magic, but I loved it.

The pacing was good. The beginning was a little slow for me when Franny, Jet, and Vincent were children. But it became more exciting as they grew up.

I liked the way the curse followed them wherever they went. In their teenage ignorance, they didn’t think it would affect them but it did.

Throughout the whole book, I kept looking for hints to the characters in Practical Magic. I loved the way that the magic is passed through the generations of Owens women.

Though the story followed a similar format of Practical Magic, you can definitely read this as a standalone novel. I think I got more out of it since I was familiar with some of the characters in the town, as well as the aunts when they are old and mysterious witches, but the story could be read by itself. Since this is a prequel, I think you could read The Rules of Magic first and then follow the story chronologically.

I really enjoyed this novel, and I will look out for Alice Hoffman in the future.

Review: One S’more Summer

Title: One S’more Summer
Author: Beth Merlin
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Ink Monster Books, LLC
Source: Xpresso Book Tours
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Since that first bus ride to Camp Chinooka twenty long years ago, Gigi Goldstein has been pining for her best friend’s guy. She knows her crush is wrong and has to stop, but her heart won’t listen to reason. To escape the agony of their impending wedding, Gigi accepts a summer job at the only place she’s ever been happy.

But working at Chinooka isn’t all campfire songs and toasting marshmallows. Gigi’s girls are determined to make her look bad in front of the boys’ Head Counselor—the sexy but infuriating Perry—and every inch of the campground is laced with memories.

When Gigi realizes she can’t fix the present by hiding in the past, she’s forced to reexamine her choices. Maybe everything she thought she wanted wasn’t what she actually needed… But if she can get her act together, Gigi might have one last shot at the summer love of her dreams.

Review:

This book is a great romantic comedy.

I really liked the way that the plot had many layers. Gigi told her story at camp, while also reflecting on her relationship with Joshua and her career as a designer. There was also drama with her family, so many aspects of life were explored.

The different age groups were represented well. Even though Gigi is 27, she interacts with many teens at camp. So there was a lot of adolescent drama (sneaking off, meeting boys) to go along with Gigi’s own problems.

Though I never went to a camp like this one, the story brought back memories of TV shows and movies I watched when I was a kid. TheParent Trap was one of my favourite movies, and they even reference it in the story.

I loved this book. I’m so excited that I will be reviewing the sequel for a blog tour next week!

Blogmas – Day 2

The ideas for my Blogmas posts are from a post on the blog Diary of a Stay at Home Mom. You can see the list of ideas in my Day 1 Blogmas post here.

Christmas is a cozy, family holiday to me. I like to spend time with my family and friends, who I don’t normally see through the year. I also like to stay inside and watch movies while drinking a nice hot chocolate.

What does Christmas mean to you?

Blogmas – Day 1

I’ve seen many people posting about blogmas, and I want to join in on the fun. I found an old post on Diary Of A Stay At Home Mom with a list of Blogmas posts that I’m going to use. The link is here https://familycorner.blogspot.ca/2014/11/blogmas-2014-25-days-of-christmas.html?m=1

Here is the list:

I’m so excited about Blogmas!

I will also be doing my own 12 Days of Christmas, where I will post a review for a Christmas themed book in the 12 days leading up to Dec. 25. This is a busy month for blogging!

So without further ado, here’s my post for day 1 of Blogmas!

When I was little, Christmas was my favourite day of the year because I got to see my entire family in one day. In the morning, we would visit my dad’s family at my Nana’s house. Then we would go home and open our own presents. And for dinner we would go to my mom’s parent’s house for dinner.

Unfortunately, now that I’ve grown up, many people have moved to different cities so it’s not possible to see everyone in one day anymore. But it was a nice tradition when I was a kid.

What is your favourite Christmas tradition?

Blog Tour: A Pearl For My Mistress

Title: A Pearl for My Mistress
Author: Annabel Fielding
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: HQ Digital
Source: NetGalley
Release Date: August 9, 2017
Rating: ★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

A story of class, scandal and forbidden passions in the shadow of war. Perfect for fans of Iona Grey, Gill Paul and Downtown Abbey.

England, 1934. Hester Blake, an ambitious girl from an industrial Northern town, finds a job as a lady’s maid in a small aristocratic household.

Despite their impressive title and glorious past, the Fitzmartins are crumbling under the pressures of the new century. And in the cold isolation of these new surroundings, Hester ends up hopelessly besotted with her young mistress, Lady Lucy.

Accompanying Lucy on her London Season, Hester is plunged into a heady and decadent world. But hushed whispers of another war swirl beneath the capital… and soon, Hester finds herself the keeper of some of society’s most dangerous secrets…

Review:

I love books set in England. I was excited to read this new historical fiction novel.

Because it was set in the 1930s, it kept reminding me of Downton Abbey. I kept picturing Lucy and Hester’s relationship like Mary and Anna from Downton, at least from their early friendship.

There were a bunch of parts that had high tension, such as someone being chased through a dark alley. But they were often resolved in a calm way. These parts had the potential for a lot of drama if they ended with more exciting twists.

I found the romantic relationship between two main characters unbelievable (I don’t want to give details to give away spoilers). There didn’t seem to be a valid reason that they loved each other. They just suddenly said it so it had to be true. I didn’t see their relationship grow and develop, so I wasn’t rooting for them.

I also thought the beginning of the story wasn’t a good introduction. It talked about characters that disappeared for quite a while, so I was lost when Hester’s story began. If that prologue wasn’t there, it would have been a much stronger beginning.

I would have liked to see Lucy’s parents. Lucy talked about them but they never appeared in the story. I also wondered why Lucy was being given a lady’s maid. Typically, only married women had a lady’s maid. And if the family could only afford a housekeeper and one housemaid, how could they afford the extra expense of a maid for their daughter? These things didn’t make sense.

This story was a unique historical fiction, though questionable at times.