Master storyteller Alice Hoffman brings us the conclusion of the Practical Magic series in a spellbinding and enchanting final Owens novel brimming with lyric beauty and vivid characters.
The Owens family has been cursed in matters of love for over three-hundred years but all of that is about to change. The novel begins in a library, the best place for a story to be conjured, when beloved aunt Jet Owens hears the deathwatch beetle and knows she has only seven days to live. Jet is not the only one in danger—the curse is already at work.
A frantic attempt to save a young man’s life spurs three generations of the Owens women, and one long-lost brother, to use their unusual gifts to break the curse as they travel from Paris to London to the English countryside where their ancestor Maria Owens first practiced the Unnamed Art. The younger generation discovers secrets that have been hidden from them in matters of both magic and love by Sally, their fiercely protective mother. As Kylie Owens uncovers the truth about who she is and what her own dark powers are, her aunt Franny comes to understand that she is ready to sacrifice everything for her family, and Sally Owens realizes that she is willing to give up everything for love.
The Book of Magic is a breathtaking conclusion that celebrates mothers and daughters, sisters and brothers, and anyone who has ever been in love.
Release Date: October 5th, 2021
*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review! Huge thanks to Simon & Schuster for the opportunity!*
* I am an affiliate with Bookshop.org and any purchases made through the link will help independent bookstores and earn me a small commission *
Let me tell you, I am madly in love with the Owens family and this saga, so when I received the ARC for the final book in the series, I SQUEALED and almost cried. These characters hold such a tender space in my heart and it felt so good to be back with them. The Book of Magic brings us back to the present day with Franny and Jet, Gillian and Sally, and Kylie and Antonia as they try to break their family’s curse once and for all. In pure Alice Hoffman fashion, this book, once again, delivers an engaging plot while it really delves into the human condition and what it truly means to love and be loved. Her prose is stunning, as always, and is imprinted strongly on my soul. Reading this book feels like that first sip of coffee on a crisp fall day- comforting, energizing, and full of hope. My only complaint is that it is the last book in the series because I could read about the Owens family forever.
If they didn’t want to get turned into beasts and used to fuel a ritual, they shouldn’t have attacked a witch. That’s all there is to it.
There’s something strange brewing in this tinder-dry forest – a girl with a sword and a secret, a troupe of vicious bandits vanished without a trace, beasts that don’t belong and a witch with a macabre plan.
Elodie hasn’t been learning witchcraft for long, but she knows enough to be worried, and the fact that her mentor Aleida wants to pack up and leave in short order isn’t helping to settle her nerves.
Elodie just hopes to get everyone out of this mess unharmed, but it’s looking more unlikely with every passing hour. And when the strange witch’s ire falls on her, Aleida’s wrath sparks a fire that threatens to scorch the earth itself…
*I am an affiliate of Bookshop.org and any purchases made through my links will help independent bookstores and earn me a small commission*
* I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review! *
I really enjoyed the first book in this series, A Curse of Ash and Embers and was excited to be back in the world of the Blackbone Witches. I absolutely love our two main characters, Aleida and Elodie, and how magic works in this universe. In this book, Elodie is continuing her training as a witch when they’re attacked by bandits on the road, setting in motion a series of troubling and exciting events. Although I didn’t like the plot of this one as much as the first, it was still fun and full of action. It sort of felt like a transition book, setting up a bigger story arc for later in the series. I liked the new characters that were introduced, especially getting to see another type of witch. The ending was very cinematic and exhilarating, and while it wrapped up nicely, the story still has room to build and expand. I would definitely read on in this series and am looking forward to the next book!
Spooky arrives at a wilderness boot camp for troubled teens with two suitcases and an ultimatum: either she keeps her head down over the summer or she won’t be allowed home at the end of it. All she wants to do is survive the pyros, bullies, and power-tripping counselors, get through senior year, and start her life somewhere new. She’ll do just about anything to protect that future.
But when an encounter with another camper goes awry and ends with Spooky hiding in the woods, something else finds her. Something ancient and powerful has sent out feelers, hoping to catch a human alone. For its purposes, one human is as good as any other. Even a delinquent teen will do.
If Spooky wants to survive to see any kind of future, she will have to figure out how to gain leverage over a god. And as if the one wasn’t bad enough, a pantheon of dark entities are lining up between her and the life she’s always wanted…
For fantasy fans, comes one girl’s journey through dark worlds of magic, gods, and monsters.
* I received this book from the author in return for an honest review! Thanks to Alison Kimble for the opportunity! *
Strange Gods is a quirky and weird YA fantasy/Sci-Fi novel about a “delinquent” teen named Spooky on a quest to save Earth from destruction at the hands of, you guessed it, strange Gods. And strange they are. Alison Kimble’s writing style was easy to read with its youthful voice and had some truly clever moments, but overall I found this book to be kind of boring. It follows a traditional fantasy quest format, with new obstacles added throughout, but the action seemed to get a little convoluted in the strangeness of the characters and the world. The ideas here have the potential to be incredibly interesting and different, but they sometimes got lost on the surface level and there was a lightness to the storytelling that felt mismatched to the oftentimes gruesome and bizarre events and descriptions. As a whole, while there were some great elements in this novel, it never gripped me enough to get seriously invested in the characters or the story.
Ellerie Downing lives in the quiet town of Amity Falls in the Blackspire Mountain range–five narrow peaks stretching into the sky like a grasping hand, bordered by a nearly impenetrable forest from which the early townsfolk fought off the devils in the woods. To this day, visitors are few and rare. But when a supply party goes missing, some worry that the monsters that once stalked the region have returned.
As fall turns to winter, more strange activities plague the town. They point to a tribe of devilish and mystical creatures who promise to fulfill the residents’ deepest desires, however grand and impossible, for just a small favor. But their true intentions are much more sinister, and Ellerie finds herself in a race against time before all of Amity Falls, her family, and the boy she loves go up in flames.
Release: July 27th, 2021
*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review!*
You guys. I am so surprised by how much I loved this book. It was definitely out of my comfort zone with the ultra-spooky vibe, but I dug it, even if I was afraid to read it before bed. I was obsessed with the setting- the old-fashioned, conservative, Children of the Corn-esque isolated community created the perfect atmosphere for this story and it really drew me in. Ellerie was a terrific narrator and I loved seeing this world through her eyes and how deeply she cared for her family and how she dealt with the chaos. The romance was a welcome relief from the horrors happening in the town, and Whitaker was an interesting and mysterious love interest. This book was a simmering, sinister ride, and I was honestly pleasantly shocked by the grit and darkness- especially towards the end. Some of the secrets were predictable, but the story definitely took a turn that I was not expecting. That ending stays with me, and I’m still not quite sure how I feel about its ambiguity, but I also kind of love that. I’m not usually one for scary stories, but I’ll gladly let this one haunt me.
Stevie Rosenstein has never made a true friend. Never fallen in love. Moved from city to city by her father’s unrelenting job, it’s too hard to care for someone. Trust in anything. The pain of leaving always hurts too much. But she’ll soon learn to trust, to love.
Drew and Shane have been best friends through everything. The painful death of Shane’s dad. The bitter separation of Drew’s parents. Through sleepaway camps and family heartache, basketball games and immeasurable loss, they’ve always been there for each other.
When Stevie meets Drew and Shane, life should go on as normal.
But a simple coin toss alters the course of their year in profound and unexpected ways.
Told in dual timelines, debut author Jennie Wexler delivers a heartbreaking and hopeful novel about missed opportunities, second chances, and all the paths that lead us to where we are.
Published on July 6th, 2021
*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review*
Where It All Lands is a story about two best friends who fall for the same girl. A classic, right? Well, this book has a unique twist. At the start, the boys both want to ask Stevie on a date, but being best friends, they don’t want to step on the other’s toes, so they decide to flip a coin to determine who asks her out. The proceeding story is told in two parallel timelines, showing us the results of each side of the coin toss. I loved this format and found it to be very well crafted. The little things that remained the same or differed in each one were almost as compelling as the big differences and I honestly had a hard time deciding which timeline I liked better. I loved both Drew and Shane, and their friendship, and getting to read from both of their perspectives gave us so many different layers and discoveries about their characters. Stevie was the constant throughout both timelines and seeing how her relationships with both boys altered her in different ways was fascinating. There was a depth to all of these characters that impressed me and gave the book a serious yet youthful tone. It really makes you think about life’s choices and how seemingly little ones can make a big difference, leading your life down a new path. This book packed an emotional punch that I was not expecting but fully appreciated. I came in anticipating a teen love triangle romance but came out with a really beautiful and thought-provoking story.
By day, Emilia is a field hockey star with a popular boyfriend and a mother obsessed with her academic future. But by night, she’s kicking virtual ass as the only female member of a highly competitive eSports team. Emilia has mastered the art of keeping her two worlds thriving, which hinges on them staying completely separate.
When a major eSports tournament comes to her city, Emilia is determined to prove herself to the male-dominated gaming community. But her perfectly balanced life is thrown for a loop when a member of a rival team—Jake—recognizes her . . .
From an exciting new talent, this sweet and charming YA romance will win the hearts of gamers and non-gamers alike.
*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review! Thanks to Bloomsbury YA for the opportunity!*
I enjoyed every minute of Don’t Hate the Player. Popular smarty, Emilia, is leading a double life as a gamer-girl and is ripping apart at the seams trying to hold it all together. When a childhood gamer friend, Jake, recognizes her at a gaming tournament, her bubble is threatened to burst. It was a funny, nerdy, and heartwarming story full of witty and intricate characters. I wasn’t sure how I felt about Emilia, as she had a hard and snobby exterior at first, but she really grew on me as she let her guard down to Jake, who was one of the most endearing characters I have ever seen. The book was mostly told from Emilia’s POV but was intermixed with lively chat logs from Jake’s teammates and a few chapters from Jake’s perspective that really elevated the storytelling to another level. The plot was fast-paced and exciting while still being entirely character-driven, and the twist at the end was fantastic. This book had me literally laughing out loud the entire time with its dialogue, earning me a few questioning looks from my boyfriend. I found myself thinking about it whenever I wasn’t reading it and couldn’t wait to get back to these characters. Don’t Hate the Player was an enchanting YA contemporary and I am really looking forward to more books from Alexis Nedd.
For centuries, witches have maintained the climate, their power from the sun peaking in the season of their birth. But now their control is faltering as the atmosphere becomes more erratic. All hope lies with Clara, an Everwitch whose rare magic is tied to every season.
In Autumn, Clara wants nothing to do with her power. It’s wild and volatile, and the price of her magic―losing the ones she loves―is too high, despite the need to control the increasingly dangerous weather.
In Winter, the world is on the precipice of disaster. Fires burn, storms rage, and Clara accepts that she’s the only one who can make a difference.
In Spring, she falls for Sang, the witch training her. As her magic grows, so do her feelings, until she’s terrified Sang will be the next one she loses.
In Summer, Clara must choose between her power and her happiness, her duty and the people she loves… before she loses Sang, her magic, and thrusts the world into chaos.
Practical Magic meets Twister in this debut contemporary fantasy standalone about heartbreaking power, the terror of our collapsing atmosphere, and the ways we unknowingly change our fate.
*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review!*
Elemental magic has always fascinated me and in The Nature of Witches, it was given a unique twist, making it an enjoyable read. The story centers around the idea of self-love and acceptance, and the prose was beautifully written and had some extremely poignant moments. That being said, it did get a little slow in parts.
In this book, different types of magic are associated with each of the four seasons, and a witch’s power is tied to the season they were born in. The witches’ purpose is to maintain the Earth’s atmosphere, but with the lack of care to the planet, it is in trouble. I absolutely loved this concept. It is so creative and was justified beautifully in the world-building.
The protagonist, Clara, has the mysterious tie to all four seasons and unlike the other witches whose powers weaken during their off-season, Clara’s magic never loses strength. However; what Clara does lack, is the control of her own power, which attacks anyone she has ever loved. Clara was an easy character to empathize with, and the juxtaposition of being the most powerful witch who is terrified of her own abilities made for an interesting arc.
From the start to finish we get to feel a lot of Clara’s emotional turmoil, but there were times when it seemed to get a bit repetitive, ultimately falling flat. I think there was room for more action to continue the momentum of the story and Clara’s journey.
In the end, I enjoyed how the author wrapped things up, however it felt surface level due to the lack of detail and clarity. The ending left me puzzled, questioning how or why it worked out the way it did, considering what had already been established earlier in the book.
Overall, I think The Nature of Witches was a creative and lovely story, and I look forward to seeing what else the author writes.
Freaky Friday meets The Parent Trap in New York Times bestselling author Christine Riccio’s Better Together, a sparkling and heartfelt story about sisters, second chances, finding romance, and finding yourself.
Jamie’s an aspiring standup comic in Los Angeles with a growing case of stage anxiety.
Siri’s a stunning ballerina from New Jersey nursing a career-changing injury.
They’ve both signed up for the same session at an off the grid Re-Discover Yourself Retreat in Colorado. When they run into each other, their worlds turn upside down.
Jamie and Siri are sisters, torn apart at a young age by their parent’s volatile divorce. They’ve grown up living completely separate lives: Jamie with their Dad and Siri with their Mom. Now, reunited after over a decade apart, they hatch a plot to switch places. It’s time they get to know and confront each of their estranged parents.
With an accidental assist from some fortuitous magic, Jamie arrives in New Jersey, looking to all the world like Siri, and Siri steps off her flight sporting a Jamie glamour.
The sisters unexpectedly find themselves stuck living in each other’s shoes. Soon Siri’s crushing on Jamie’s best friend Dawn. Jamie’s falling for the handsome New Yorker she keeps running into, Zarar. Alongside a parade of hijinks and budding romance, both girls work to navigate their broken family life and the stresses of impending adulthood.
Released: June 1st, 2021
*I received a copy of this book return for an honest review. Thanks to Wednesday Books for the opportunity!*
I liked Again, but Better, so I was looking forward to Riccio’s next book. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. Better Together was a NA, bittersweet, mash-up of TheParent Trap and Freaky Friday. It focuses on two sisters, Jamie and Siri, who were separated in their parent’s nasty divorce and haven’t seen each other in years. When they re-meet at a wellness retreat calamity ensues. I loved the concept of this book, but I thought the overall execution of the plot left a little to be desired. The first half was slow going, and it started out with some pretty unlikable characters- Jamie was obnoxious and Siri was in the midst of a nervous breakdown. The second half definitely picked up, and both Siri and Jamie went through personal transformations, but plot-wise not a lot happened, and it felt like very little of the action actually acted as a catalyst for their changes. By the end, I genuinely enjoyed Siri as a character, and I was rooting for Jamie to be better and work through her issues. I thought both love interests were endearing, and felt the connections between them, but I wish they would have dealt more with their parents. Wasn’t that the whole point of them switching places? My favorite thing about this book was that it really showed the complexities of dealing with deep trauma and how much personal effort it takes to work through it. Though there was a definite sense of resolution, none of the problems magically went away by the end, which I appreciated because it was realistic and 100% human. Overall, there were moments in this book that I really liked, but as a whole it was just kinda meh.
Hunter and Mercy Goode are twin witches, direct descendants of the founder of their town of Goodeville. As their ancestors have done before them, it is now time for the twins to learn what it means to be Gatekeepers–the protectors of the Gates to different underworlds, ancient portals between their world and realms where mythology rules and nightmares come to life.
When their mother becomes the first victim in a string of murders, the devastated sisters vow to avenge her death. But it will take more than magic to rein in the ancient mythological monsters who’ve infected their peaceful town.
Now Hunter and Mercy must come together and accept their destiny or risk being separated for good.
Release Date: May 25th, 2021
* I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review! Thanks to Wednesday Books for the opportunity! *
Spells Trouble was a solid witchy novel. I absolutely loved the way magic worked in this book, and as someone who has done a good amount of homework looking into witchcraft and its history, this book seemed very realistic and well researched in its magical theory. The concept of the five gates to different underworlds was a really cool idea, and the history behind them helped highlight the gravity of the plot. It was a fast-paced and quick read, but I wish it would have gone a little deeper in detail to give it some “wow” moments. The characters and their relationships were nuanced and interesting, especially the twins, Hunter and Mercy, and their sister dynamic was layered well and fluctuated a lot as the story progressed. I also appreciated their supportive friendships with Jax and Emily, and Mercy’s conflicting, and somewhat drama-filled, relationship with her boyfriend, Kirk. The ending climax, along with the cliffhanger epilogue, was exciting and set up the next book very nicely. Overall, this book was an enjoyable read, and while it lacked a wow factor for me, I would like to continue on in the series and see what else is in store.
Everyone knows the Ivies: the most coveted universities in the United States. Far more important are the Ivies. The Ivies at Claflin Academy, that is. Five girls with the same mission: to get into the Ivy League by any means necessary. I would know. I’m one of them. We disrupt class ranks, club leaderships, and academic competitions…among other things. We improve our own odds by decreasing the fortunes of others. Because hyper-elite competitive college admissions is serious business. And in some cases, it’s deadly.
Alexa Donne delivers a nail-biting and timely thriller about teens who will stop at nothing to get into the college of their dreams. Too bad no one told them murder isn’t an extracurricular.
Release Date: May 25th, 2021
*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review! Thanks to Crown Books for Young Readers and Random House Children’s for the opportunity!*
I have been so excited about TheIvies ever since Alexa Donne started talking about it on her YouTube channel, and I was beyond thrilled to get an ARC for it. First of all, the boarding school trope always draws me in and I loved the murder mystery/thriller take on it. The Ivies were an interesting clique, and I definitely got Mean Girls and Heathers vibes from them. Avery was probably my favorite, as the leader and most complex of them all. Our narrator, Olivia, is the typical scholarship student brought into the popular clique, but I loved her internal struggles with the clique’s actions and her own ambition. The backstabbing, conniving antics of The Ivies was fascinating to watch unfold and added great layers to the mystery. The plot was super fun, and while some of the twists were a bit predictable, I was still caught by surprise at a few of the big ones, and she kept me guessing who the killer was to the very end. Overall, a truly exciting and enjoyable read.