Review: Practical Magic


Title: Practical Magic
Author: Alice Hoffman
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Purchased
Release Date: June 13, 1995
Rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

The Owens sisters confront the challenges of life and love in this bewitching novel from New York Times bestselling author Alice Hoffman.

For more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in their Massachusetts town. Gillian and Sally have endured that fate as well: as children, the sisters were forever outsiders, taunted, talked about, pointed at. Their elderly aunts almost seemed to encourage the whispers of witchery, with their musty house and their exotic concoctions and their crowd of black cats. But all Gillian and Sally wanted was to escape.

One will do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they share will bring them back–almost as if by magic…

Review:

I picked up this book because I received an ARC of the prequel that just came out, called The Rules of Magic. 

I enjoyed this story. It was very character driven. I usually don’t like stories that are character driven, but a strong plot emerged in the latter half of this book that brought all the characters together. 

I really liked the duos that are in the book. There are three sets of two sisters. There are also dueling kinds of magic. The Owens have a natural kind of magic, while Ben likes doing magic tricks. Ben is also the science teacher, and science is kind of a magic in itself. 

I loved the ending of this story. It felt complete. I like it when all (or most) of the loose ends are tied up by the end. 

Now, I’ll have to watch the movie adaptation!

Review: The Nightmare Before Christmas


Title: The Nightmare Before Christmas
Author: Jun Asuka
Publisher: Tokyopop
Genre: NetGalley
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Jack Skellington is the Pumpkin King, the ruler of Halloween Town and master of all things creepy and spooky. But he’s tired of his life in the shadows and longs for something new. When he accidentally stumbles upon Christmas Town, he decides this is the perfect chance to try his hand at a brand new holiday and is convinced he’ll have the world yelling “Scary Christmas”! With the young patchwork doll Sally trying to dissuade him and the evil Oogie Boogie waiting in the wings to take over Halloween Town in Jack’s absence, he’d better hurry if he wants to get his plan in place by December 25th! You’ve seen the movie, now read the manga for a new twist on an animated classic!

Review:

I’ve wanted to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas for a long time, but I haven’t yet. So when I saw the manga version, I had to read it. 

I really enjoyed the story. I love that it’s a cross between Halloween and Christmas. Though those two holidays are two months apart, they’re so connected, since as soon as Halloween is over, the shelves are filled with Christmas gifts. 

One problem I had (and I’m not sure if this will be the same in the physical copy) is the colouring. It’s in black and white, and some of the panels were so detailed that it was hard to tell what was happening. When only two colours are used, it’s difficult to distinguish between characters, so sometimes I didn’t know what was happening. Also, many of the speech bubbles didn’t have an obvious direction of who it was coming from, so I couldn’t tell who was speaking. These issues may not be as bad for someone who has watched the movie, but since I wasn’t familiar with the story before, I struggled with these visual problems. 

However, I really liked this story. I’m glad I read this manga edition!

Top Ten Tuesday – Ghost Stories

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is a Halloween freebie, so I’m going to list my favourite ghost stories. Here’s my list:

1. The Raven Boys


2. Shadowland 


3. Ghosts


4. The Turn of The Screw


5. The Shining


6. Long Way Down


7. A Christmas Carol


8. Wuthering Heights


9. Doctor Sleep


10. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children


(All images taken from Goodreads)

Blog Tour: Esme’s Wish

Esme's Wish tour bannerEsme's Wish cover[4]

Title: Esme’s Wish
Author: Elizabeth Foster
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Odyssey Books
Source: YA Bound Book Tours
Release Date: October 30, 2017
Rating: ★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

This was her last chance. Her hand twisted high in the air.

When fifteen-year-old Esme Silver objects at her father’s wedding, her protest is dismissed as the impulsive reaction of a stubborn, selfish teenager. Everyone else has accepted the loss of Esme’s mother – so why can’t she?

But Esme is suspicious. She is sure that others are covering up the real reason for her mother’s disappearance – that ‘lost at sea’ is code for something more terrible, something she has a right to know.

After Esme is accidentally swept into the enchanted world of Aeolia, the truth begins to unfold. With her newfound friends, Daniel and Lillian, Esme retraces her mother’s steps in the glittering canal city of Esperance, untangling the threads of Ariane’s double life. But the more Esme discovers about her mother, the more she questions whether she really knew her at all…

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Preview part of the first chapter on Kobo – https://www.goodreads.com/buy_buttons/6/follow?book_id=33634667

Purchase your copy of Esme’s Wish at elizabethfoster.com.au

Review:

As many of you know, I love Greek mythology. So when this book started off with references to Ancient Greece, I knew I would like it. 

This story was fast paced, with Esme constantly discovering new things about her mother. There was also great tension when she discovered things that didn’t match up with her own memories of her mother.

This book reminded me of the Percy Jackson series, particularly The Lightning Thief. Esme is searching for details about her mother, just like Percy was looking for his father. 

I really liked this story. It’s very well developed. If you like YA fantasy books, this is a great one for you!

About the Author:

Elizabeth Foster read avidly as a child, but only discovered the joys of writing some years ago, when reading to her own kids reminded her of how much she missed getting lost in other worlds. Elizabeth lives in Sydney, where she can be found scribbling in cafés, indulging her love of both words and coffee. Esme’s Wish is her debut novel.

Find out more about Elizabeth at elizabethfoster.com.au

Author Links:

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Giveaway:

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Book Tour Organized by: YA Bound Book Tours

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Thank you to YA Bound Book Tours for letting me participate in this blog tour.

Review: Gybe


Title: Gybe
Author: Kristi M. Turner
Genre: Young Adult
Source: YA Bound Book Tours
Release Date: August 28, 2016
Rating: ★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Nicole is an 18-year-old, juvenile delinquent who desperately wants to take control of her life but must find a way to overcome her own self-sabotage and a judge who won’t easily let her escape her past. She keeps food on her plate and clothes on her back by stealing. It is far from the life she wants, but she has known little kindness in her life and, therefore, gives little back. When Judge Newton charges her for the first time as an adult, Nicole recognizes a separating path: She can stay on her path to destruction or she can accept the unexpected generosity of the Kutcher family, whose house she is charged with burglarizing.
Child psychologist, Cynthia Kutcher, believes she can help Nicole confront her anger and build back the self-worth she lost when her father abandoned her to a drunken uncle after her mother’s death.
Along the way to building a more valuable life, Nicole meets Keagan, an affluent young man with whom she begins an often overwhelming love affair despite the conflicts their disparate pasts bring.

Review:

I loved the beginning of this story. It was an original story, with Nicole going to prison but then finding help. It was a unique beginning but the story fell into some cliches by the end. 

I really liked Nicole. I felt attached to her right away. Having her in trouble at the beginning created sympathy for her. At first I wondered who Keagan was, since he is introduced long before he enters Nicole’s story. But I liked the clever relationships between characters. 

Halfway through the story, it skips two months ahead. It wasn’t clear what exactly happened during those two months, but a lot of changes happened in their lives. I wish they mentioned what happened then, because I kept wondering about it.

There were some proofreading errors in the story, such as the continuous misspelling of the word “chick.” But I enjoyed this story. There were some clever twists, which made the story unpredictable and exciting. 

Blog Tour: Carry Me Home


Title: Carry Me Home
Author: Jessica Therrien
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
Source: Xpresso Book Tours
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Rating: ★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Lucy and Ruth are country girls from a broken home. When they move to the city with their mother, leaving behind their family ranch and dead-beat father, Lucy unravels.

They run to their grandparents’ place, a trailer park mobile home in the barrio of San Jose. Lucy’s barrio friends have changed since her last visit. They’ve joined a gang called VC. They teach her to fight, to shank, to beat a person unconscious and play with guns. When things get too heavy, and lives are at stake, the three girls head for LA seeking a better life.

But trouble always follows Lucy. She befriends the wrong people, members of another gang, and every bad choice she makes drags the family into her dangerous world. 

Told from three points of view, the story follows Lucy down the rabbit hole, along with her mother and sister as they sacrifice dreams and happiness, friendships and futures. Love is waiting for all of them in LA, but pursuing a life without Lucy could mean losing her forever.

Ultimately it’s their bond with each other that holds them together, in a true test of love, loss and survival. 

Review:

This book was not at all what I expected, but I really enjoyed it!

This story was an intense rollercoaster at times. There were a lot of serious situations, involving drugs and gangs. These things were even more scary since the story is told from multiple first person perspectives so we get the firsthand account of what was happening. 

I liked how the stories of the two sisters were often conflicting. One would be in a gang fight, while the other was out camping among the wildflowers. These dueling images highlighted the different lifestyles of the sisters and created great tension. 

I didn’t think that the cover of the book suits the story. The light blues and pinks make it appear to be a softer plot than it is. It was actually quite dramatic. I think the cover should have been darker to reflect the story. 

Also, I think the father’s role was forgotten for much of the book. I would have liked to see what happened to him later in the story, rather than them just moving away and forgetting about him. 

I really liked this story. I recommend this book for a thrilling read, that’s reminiscent of the summer. 

About the Author:

Jessica Therrien is the author of the young adult series Children of the Gods. Book one in the series, Oppression, became a Barnes & Noble best-seller shortly after its release. Her trilogy has been translated and sold through major publishers around the world, such as Editions AdA (Canada), EditionsMilan (France), and SharpPoint Press (China).

Aside from her Children of the Gods series, Jessica is the author of a kid’s picture book called, The Loneliest Whale. Her award-winning stories can also be found in a published anthology of flash fiction.

Jessica currently lives in Irvine with her husband and two young sons. She is working on an a YA suspense thriller series and a middle grade fantasy series.

Author Links:

http://jessica-therrien.blogspot.ca/

<p class="textbox" dir="ltr" >https://twitter.com/JessicaTherrien

https://www.facebook.com/jessicatherrienauthor/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5406182.Jessica_Therrien

Giveaway:

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Thank you to Xpresso Book Tours for letting me participate in this blog tour. 

Review: Long Way Down


Title: Long Way Down
Author: Jason Reynolds
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
Source: NetGalley
Release Date: October 17, 2017
Rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

A cannon. A strap.

A piece. A biscuit.

A burner. A heater.

A chopper. A gat.

A hammer

A tool

for RULE

Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator? Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.

And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator. 

Review:

This is such an amazing book. 

It’s an incredibly moving story. It reminded me of other popular books right now, where the main character has to deal with the aftermath of his brother being shot and killed. 

The story is written in verse, which is unique. It made the book a quick read. Some of the phrases were just so beautiful and moving. I loved the lyrical style of writing. 

This is a story about the never ending cycle of revenge. When does it end? 

The ending gave me chills. It was so good! I highly recommend this moving story!