The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

34037113The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

Published October 10, 2017

384 Pages

Goodreads Summary: Find your magic

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 was a little unsure about reading this one because I wasn’t a huge fan of Practical Magic (the book… I happen to love the movie adaptation however). But I actually found myself fully engrossed in this book and read it in less than 2 days. I loved seeing Franny, Jet, and Vincent grow up and how each of them treated the magic that was within them. My heart broke for each one of them at one point or another during the book. Franny was rather uptight, but you could still catch glimmers of the vulnerability she felt, knowing that she could never fully be with her love because of the Owens curse. And Jet, such a sweet girl who loses her way and eventually finds her way back. Vincent at first seemed just like a spoiled rotten youngest child, but deep down he had the same struggles as his sisters.  There were a few parts that I felt moved rather slowly and probably could have been left out but overall I was very pleased with this book and see myself reading it again someday in the future.

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!!

 I was so happy to see Franny and Haylin get to share the rest of his life together.  She really blossomed when he was there with the Owens sisters in the old house. I think one of my favorite things was watching Jet and the Reverence overcome their differences to mourn Levi together.  Seeing Vincent finally come into his true self when he met William was delightful. I was so worried that would have had a sad ending, but Vincent got his happy ending. 

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

4 Stars

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Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw

32452160Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw

Published July 25th 2017 by Orbit

320 Pages

Goodreads Summary: Meet Greta Helsing, fast-talking doctor to the undead. Keeping the supernatural community not-alive and well in London has been her family’s specialty for generations.

Greta Helsing inherited the family’s highly specialized, and highly peculiar, medical practice. In her consulting rooms, Dr. Helsing treats the undead for a host of ills – vocal strain in banshees, arthritis in barrow-wights, and entropy in mummies. Although barely making ends meet, this is just the quiet, supernatural-adjacent life Greta’s been groomed for since childhood.

Until a sect of murderous monks emerges, killing human and undead Londoners alike. As terror takes hold of the city, Greta must use her unusual skills to stop the cult if she hopes to save her practice, and her life.

Review: If you’re looking for a quick supernatural read, I suggest checking out this book. What initially drew me to this book was the cover.  It looks awesome and then after reading the synopsis, I knew it would be something up my alley.  I really enjoyed the author’s take on certain creatures, especially vampires and vampyres, which are actually different from one another in this book. I loved the concept of a human doctor, a Helsing no less, that specifically treats supernatural creatures including vampires, ghouls, and the like. Normally when I think of the name Helsing, I think more of vampire slayers rather than healers. I liked the main characters of the book and the story was definitely interesting, however as I was reading, I felt more as if I was just observing the scenes rather than engrossed in them. I didn’t feel very connected to the characters so while I know that there were scary parts that should have made me really nervous like I normally do but they just didn’t seem to phase me. Overall, I did enjoy reading this book and I will be looking forward to reading the sequel.

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor

34733250Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor, illustrated by Jim Di Bartolo

Expected publication: September 12th 2017 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

256 Pages

Goodreads Summary: In this stand-alone companion to the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone series comes the story of Mik and Zuzana’s fantastical first date—as a gorgeously illustrated gift edition with bonus content included.

Petite though she may be, Zuzana is not known for timidity. Her best friend, Karou, calls her “rabid fairy,” her “voodoo eyes” are said to freeze blood, and even her older brother fears her wrath. But when it comes to the simple matter of talking to Mik, or “Violin Boy,” her courage deserts her. Now, enough is enough. Zuzana is determined to make the first move, and she has a fistful of magic and a plan. It’s a wonderfully elaborate treasure hunt of a plan that will take Mik all over Prague on a cold winter’s night before leading him to the treasure: herself! Violin Boy is not going to know what hit him.

New York Times bestselling author Laini Taylor brings to life a night only hinted at in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy—the magical first date of fan-favorites Zuzana and Mik. Originally published as an ebook, this new print edition will include breathtaking black and white illustrations, plus bonus content in a gorgeous package perfect for new and current fans of the series.

Review: Earlier this year, Strange the Dreamer was my first experience with Laini Taylor’s words.  I instantly fell in love with her writing.  So I was really eager to get into her previous series, Daughter of Smoke and Bone.  When I read Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I really loved Zuzana’s character.   She was so spunky and had a great sense of humor.  Her friendship with Karou reminded me a lot of my own friendship with one of my best friends.  When I heard about Night of Cake and Puppets I was so excited to be able to read about how Zuzana and Mik come together because, let’s face it, they’re absolutely adorable.  I’m a big sucker for romance and big romantic gestures so this seemed like it was going to be a really great read. Plus there is just something special about having Laini and her husband, illustrator Jim Di Bartolo, teaming up to take this book to the next level.  I read this ARC in a few hours because I could not put it down!  The first section is from Zuzana’s POV and it totally took me back to those times when I had a huge thing for a guy and wasn’t sure how to approach that.  I also really loved the little flashback stories of when Zuzana and Karou first became friends. One of the things I really love about Laini Taylor’s writing is that it is so visually descriptive without overdoing it so it is really easy to visualize the scenes in your head.  I’ve dreamed of going to Prague for years and with her help, I feel almost as if I have been there.  When it got to the section from Mik’s POV, I couldn’t help but swoon.  This story was everything I hoped it would be and more.  The illustrations that were included in the ARC were absolutely incredible so I can’t wait to see how they look in the final copies!

5 Stars

I received a copy of this from The Novl in exchange for an honest review.

The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding

33785202The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken

Expected publication: September 5th 2017 by Disney-Hyperion

362 Pages

Goodreads Summary: “I would say it’s a pleasure to meet thee, Prosperity Oceanus Redding, but truly, I only anticipate the delights of destroying thy happiness.”

Prosper is the only unexceptional Redding in his old and storied family history — that is, until he discovers the demon living inside him. Turns out Prosper’s great-great-great-great-great-something grandfather made — and then broke — a contract with a malefactor, a demon who exchanges fortune for eternal servitude. And, weirdly enough, four-thousand-year-old Alastor isn’t exactly the forgiving type.

The fiend has reawakened with one purpose — to destroy the family whose success he ensured and who then betrayed him. With only days to break the curse and banish Alastor back to the demon realm, Prosper is playing unwilling host to the fiend, who delights in tormenting him with nasty insults and constant attempts trick him into a contract. Yeah, Prosper will take his future without a side of eternal servitude, thanks.

Little does Prosper know, the malefactor’s control over his body grows stronger with each passing night, and there’s a lot Alastor isn’t telling his dim-witted (but admittedly strong-willed) human host.

From #1 New York Times best-selling author Alexandra Bracken comes a tale of betrayal and revenge, of old hurts passed down from generation to generation. Can you ever fully right a wrong, ever truly escape your history? Or will Prosper and Alastor be doomed to repeat it?

Review: I normally don’t read a lot of middle grade titles anymore but with Alexandra Bracken behind this one, I couldn’t resist and I’m really glad I took a chance on it. I absolutely loved the atmosphere of the first chapter.  It really reminded me of Stars Hollow around the time of the annual Fall Festival.  Prosper seemed like a misunderstood kid who was kind of the black sheep of the family… never quite good enough to meet his family’s insanely high standards.  Even his twin sister Prue who he stuck by through years of serious illness was rather cruel to him. This made me instantly feel for him.  So when he returned home for dinner and crazy things started happening, I didn’t blame him at all for the terror he must have felt.  With the introduction of Nell, I hoped that Prosper would be able to finally have a good friend who could show him that he is worth more than how he has been treated in the past.  At first she treated him with disdain because he was a Redding, but slowly she gradually realized that he was different than his family in a good way.  Alastor, the demon inside of Prosper, was a little over the top but eventually I got used to it.  That was probably the only thing that bugged me about this book.  There were two big twists in the book which I did not see coming! And that cliffhanger ending!!! I need book two ASAP! Overall I really enjoyed reading this book that reminded me of Hocus Pocus crossed with a little bit of Harry Potter.  A perfect read for fall!

4 stars

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Invictus by Ryan Graudin

33784362Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Expected publication: September 26th 2017 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

464 Pages

Goodreads Summary: Time flies when you’re plundering history.

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far’s birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he’s ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.

But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far’s very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.

In this heart-stopping adventure, Ryan Graudin has created a fast-paced world that defies time and space.

Review: This book was incredible! It was completely thrilling but also thought provoking and emotional.  Far being born outside of time and all of the effects from that event at first just seemed like small annoyances for him but as the story went on more devastating consequences are revealed. I was not expecting to fall in love with the Invictus crew, but I did whole heartedly. Far, Imogen, Priya, Gram, Eliot, and Saffron, the adorable red panda… such a unique cast of characters that fit so well together despite their differences. Their friendship was so strong and I loved seeing them bond over their experiences together but also embracing each others’ quirks.  They stick together through it all. There were so many exciting scenes but one of my favorites was when Far was on the Titanic. I don’t want to say too much more so I don’t spoil things because this book has so many twists and thrills that you need to experience first hand.  If you’re looking for a wild adventure through time with an awesome group of friends, check out Invictus!

5 Stars

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Also, if you preorder Invictus you can get a set of trading cards for the Invictus crew when you upload your proof of purchase here!

(Image from The Novl)