“My mother, the witch from a fairytale with no happy ending.”
A Spell of Rowans is more of a murder mystery and family drama than a book about witches and magic. It reminded me in a lot of ways of The Family Plot. The Rowans are an unusual family in a small town and boy do they have secrets! When the matriarch of the family dies, her three children are brought back together to deal with her estate. Quickly, they find out their mother was evil to more than just them. The town all has a grudge against the dead woman and her children are trying to right the wrongs. When one of them is arrested for the murder of their mother’s assistant, they use their unusual powers to get to the truth.
I enjoyed this story especially the murder mystery part. I did not see the murderer coming and it made sense whodunit, but there were lots of great suspects along the way. The abuse of the mother to the children was quite hard to read but it gave context to how these three became who they were. I wished there was a little more magic and a little less forced romance for the two sisters. The son’s power to trace the history of items was really interesting, I would have loved to see more of that, or maybe a whole book with him central to the story… ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
Thanks to Netgalley for a copy. All opinions above are my own.
Do you like a little magic in your books or would you prefer books either focus on magic or leave it out altogether?
Pup Culture is a love letter to the canine world, Paul Shaffer’s daughter tells us how she and her family acquired and fell in love with their rescue dogs. Part memoir, part self-help, part how-to and all love, Pup Culture encourages the reader to consider adopting a rescue or fostering a pup. Interspersed throughout are celebrity essays (David Letterman and Dan Levy to name a few!) to their beloved pooches and how their hearts were stolen. Shaffer provides tips for getting your adoption application noticed, how to choose the right dog for you, what supplies to have on hand and how to settle into a training and lifestyle with your new friend. I loved that there were frank discussions of your expectations of having a dog and the realities of less than ideal health or behavioral situations that are the truth of dog ownership.
Pup Culture is vibrant and easily readable and dripping with love for our four legged friends. @happy.herman.the.dog approves… (note no books were harmed in the making of this post 🤣🙈🐾).
Thanks to Simon and Shuster for providing me with a copy.
Fireborn is a middle grade fantasy that throws you smack dab into a world of opposing clans, mythical creatures and fierce fighting. We meet a group of young recruits who are training at a school to defend the clans when suddenly one of them goes missing. Twelve, a bit of an outcast among the students, feels compelled to try to find the one student who was kind of nice to her. She sets off on her own only to be followed by the school’s guardian (a giant magical stone dog) and two other classmates (who are not fans of hers). The rag tag team go deeper and deeper into the wild magical wilderness in pursuit of the missing girl and find themselves in some harrowing scrapes with dangerous creatures.
This story is absolutely action packed from start to finish and the magical creatures are really unique and fun. Each of these youngsters learn lessons about the world, the impact of grief and the search for identity and acceptance. I wanted more of a beginning and an end but I understand that the emphasis here was to keep the pages turning.
Thanks to Harper for a copy. All opinions above are my own.
What an usual story of magic and family! I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like this before. Orquidea is dying and her family collects to honor her and retrieve their inheritance. But that inheritance is not what they expect or something that they would even wish for. Growing up with stories of magic, they never believed that it could be real. Their grandmother living in a small village was nothing special… or was she?
The story alternates between the present time as they face the impending death of Orquidea and the past and the reality of who she is… of who they are.
Beautiful storytelling in this one with unique magic, fierce familial love and loyalty and a great villain. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I listened to it on audio thanks to Libro.fm and the narrator was fabulous. All opinions above are my own.
“The kind that knew even back then that the dark was a whole other world. That it soaked up the daylight one like a biscuit dipped in coffee.”
15 bodies. 15 bloodless bodies. Strewn across four states. Fifteen year old Marie Catherine Hale is taken from the last crime scene covered in blood and she is the only link the law has to discover who’s really been killing these people. She agrees to tell her story to the sheriff’s son, Michael, a boy around her age who wants to be a journalist. He has no idea what he’s getting into sitting with this mysterious young girl. She weaves a tale that is a little fact and a little fiction… or is it? The story is told in that YA way where adults are out of touch and untrustworthy. Not sure how much of it is really a mystery, I’d classify this more as horror. I enjoyed it, I wanted a little more meat in the end but it was a good read for spooky season. ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
Thanks to Booksparks for a copy. All opinions above are my own.
At the Edge of the Haight follows a homeless woman after she discovers a dead body in the park. We see her threatened by the perpetrator, bullied by the cops and her homeless cohorts about the issue. We get a glimpse of life on the streets, how each of the characters came to live the life they have and how they seem to be oblivious or disinterested in any attempts to help them. The murdered boy’s parents take an interest in Maddy and want to do for her what they couldn’t for their son. She repeatedly shirks their help and shows us that while her life on the streets isn’t perfect, she is content.
I just did not get anything out of this book. I think it was intended to help build empathy towards the homeless and their plight but I found the characters really selfish. I am happy with non-conformity to an extent and I get that’s a millennial thing but being lazy and just begging for money to then buy drugs just did not endear me to these people. I think the author was trying to show often times those who are trying to help are just enabling and not truly getting to the root of the issues. But the responses of Maddy and Ash to that help was overly selfish and truly unkind. I would have preferred for this story to focus on the murder and still give us a taste of the plight of the homeless without being as meandering and pointless as it was. Generally, I do not like to give reviews that are overly negative without offering what I liked about the book but in this case, I’m struggling with that. I liked the dog and that while the people were awful to one another, they did treat their animals well. There was an attempt to try to explain the impact of mental illness on this culture but it just didn’t hit the mark for me. ⭐️⭐️
Thanks to Algonquin for a copy. All opinions above are my own.
What recent book did you have high hopes for but just didn’t work for you?
“The way you guys communicate – two adults in their thirties – is f***ing adolescent.”
If that quote appeals to you, you will enjoy this book. If you get frustrated by main characters who spend all their time pretending that they aren’t head over heels for one another and yet keep ending up in bed together, then you might like this one. On Location is about Alia who is a television producer given her first chance to make a show of her own and she has decided to do a series about National Parks in Utah. That part, I loved. She was doing it in dedication to her grandmother and the descriptions of Utah made me want to visit there. I enjoyed the scenes about filming the series, I love behind the veil TV and movie stuff and the host as a foil was fun. Alia was a great female lead who was passionate about her craft and a good leader.
The love story was frustrating. There were times where the two had great charisma and banter but most of the time I just wanted to smack them. Thank god for the friend who gave us the quote above and kept taking them to task about being immature. They met on the subway, which is how my husband and I met, so that part I liked. But they went on hooking up while working together which isn’t the best ethically (they do address this ad nauseum though). Also way to graphic sexy time for my taste. And another unnecessary epilogue (although this glimpsed the Philippine culture which I wanted more of with a Filipino protagonist). This one would make a fun vacation read but don’t expect a ton of depth. Thanks to Booksparks for a copy. All opinions above are my own. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Are you serious about photography or do you just use your phone for everything? As an employee under the Nikon umbrella, you’d think that I would be more serious about it but all of my cameras are vintage ones my grandfather left me.
The Happy Accidents was like watching a season of This is Us. We follow two sisters and their friend as they all confront the stagnation in their lives. One crazy night, they each make a decision which forces them to reassess their lives: careers, relationships, childhood traumas.
The story examines gender roles, self acceptance and the value of true friendship. It was a nice read with characters who dug deep and made real progress during the novel. I personally didn’t resonate with any of the issues in the novel but I think if I had my rating would be higher. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Thanks to Booksparks for a copy. All opinions above are my own.
Do you need to connect with a character in some way to love a story?
“Quick learner,” I said, my mind too tired to keep an annoyed bite from peeking through. “Slow follower.”
Within these Wicked Walls is THE PERFECT read for spooky season. Andromeda is a debtera, an Ethiopian exorcist, who is desperately trying to earn a patronage so that she can continue working. She leaves her mentor and life in the town’s church to take on an impossible job. Magnus Rochester’s house is cursed by the Evil Eye which manifests in all sorts of spooky, hair-raising ghosts and demons. Rooms fill with blood, residents go missing and turn up dead and a terrifying hyena stalks the castle. In order to banish them she must create an amulet to diffuse each one and clean the house of all evil. When she realizes that a lot of the curse resides with Magnus, the owner of the home, who she is inexplicably drawn to, things become complicated.
The imagery in this novel was so immersive, I love a horror novel where you can see the evil in your own mind. I loved the description of the making of the amulets and how Andromeda saw the way to banish each baddie in her mind. I actually wanted more of that… hoping that the print version has some drawings! The main love story part was my least favorite part, it was a bit too contrived and it turned Andromeda from a shrewd exorcist into a bit of a simpering fool at times. But I did love the secondary love story (no spoilers!). I wanted more backstory for each of the other characters in the house, we got a taste of it but I really wanted more of how they came to be in this strange dwelling. Andromeda was a great strong female heroine who well balanced her youth, her courage and her vulnerability.
This one is perfect for fans of Raybearer or A Song of Wraiths and Ruin.
Thanks to Netgalley for a copy. All opinions above are my own.
“You are coming of age in a world that wants you to believe it’s ok to be mediocre,” Arch said, “There are no really great men left, the world tells you, so why bother trying to become one?”
I really enjoyed this book, I can’t exactly pinpoint a reason though. I really enjoyed the writing and story progression. It was one of those books where from page one, I just felt at home in it. Charlie felt and thought like I felt and thought. He begins his life in an underprivileged neighborhood with a single mother. A mother who is trying her best to give him better circumstances. When he is chosen as a scholarship student for a private school, he makes friends with a charismatic rich boy. In no time, he is immersed in a world that he could have never imagined.
He sees these kids his age and their parents completely indifferent to the struggles of the real world around them. They use and abuse others to get their way and Charlie is put off by it and yet, being within their circle changes his and his mother’s lives. So he swallows his criticism. In the second part of the book, we see he’s escaped “those” people and is living on his own terms until circumstances drag him back in. In no time, he is back in the same place, trying to be the conscience of those around him and balancing his own feelings and theirs. Lots of interesting turns of karma throughout (also lots of trigger warnings – message me if you need them.) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Thanks to Algonquin Books for a copy. All opinions above are my own.
What’s the last book you read that just felt easy to slip into?