Sunday, 16 April 2017

Review: The Best Kind of Magic by Crystal Cestari

The Best Kind of Magic (Windy City Magic #1) by Crystal Cestari
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Released: 16th May 2017
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
Amber Sand is not a witch. The Sand family Wicca gene somehow leapfrogged over her. But she did get one highly specific magical talent: she can see true love. As a matchmaker, Amber's pretty far down the sorcery food chain (even birthday party magicians rank higher), but after five seconds of eye contact, she can envision anyone's soul mate.

Amber works at her mother's magic shop--Windy City Magic--in downtown Chicago, and she's confident she's seen every kind of happy ending there is: except for one--her own. (The Fates are tricky jerks that way.) So when Charlie Blitzman, the mayor's son and most-desired boy in school, comes to her for help finding his father's missing girlfriend, she's distressed to find herself falling for him. Because while she can't see her own match, she can see his--and it's not Amber. How can she, an honest peddler of true love, pursue a boy she knows full well isn't her match?
(from Goodreads)

This book was so cute, I really loved it. It had a little bit of a shaky start, but after a few chapters, I was fully engrossed, and I’m very much looking forward to the sequel.

Amber was a fab main character. Apart from being really funny, she was very relatable. As a matchmaker, she was often looked down upon for not being a “proper” witch. It wasn’t that she wasn’t powerful and good at what she did, but rather that what she did was very specific, and didn’t have many other applications. The other witches viewed her as not really one of them, and Amber often felt left out because she wasn’t allowed to attend coven meetings or really know what was going on in the witchy world. Sometimes she thought her own mother wished she could be different and carry on the family tradition, and I could really sympathise with her. That being said, she was a top notch matchmaker, and seemed to know a lot about the supernatural world. Amber could be a little judgmental at times, but she had a tough time at school and I could understand why she acted that way. I also found myself deeply relating to her on a person level when she was talking about group projects – they really are the worst.

Amani was another great character! She was Amber’s best friend and I really believed their relationship. Amani was very funny too, and she knew that Amber often felt like she wasn’t good enough because she was “only” a matchmaker, and did her best to be there for her. She was often a bit on edge when it came to her precognition though, and I would definitely love to see more of that in the next book, and get to explore her power a bit. It was interesting, and the way she never wanted to reveal anything about Amber’s future had me curious. And her reaction to Vincent! I am very intrigued to see what happens there (is there hope yet?).

Charlie was really lovely, and I very much enjoyed seeing his relationship with Amber develop. He originally approached her for help finding his missing stepmother, but as he became more acquainted with the supernatural world, he and Amber got a lot closer, and it was so cute! I do wish we had found out a little bit more about him (maybe in the next book) but overall, I liked him. He was sweet and had a lot of great lines that made me smile and laugh. I could completely understand Amber’s struggle in regard to her feelings for him – he wasn’t her match, and her whole business was finding people their matches. She kept thinking that surely she would be a fraud, a terrible person for being with Charlie when she knew some other girl was really the one for him? It was a difficult situation to be in!

Plot-wise, this book started off a little slow, and the writing was kind of cheesy to begin with, but as I said, a few chapters in and I was really engaged. I loved exploring Amber’s supernatural world and seeing how she used her matchmaking power. I actually wish this had been explored a little more, because I wasn’t a 100% sure how Amber’s powers worked (but then, neither did she!) and it was strange that she was still putting so much stock in who was and wasn’t a match when she was in such a tangled situation herself. However, I know this is a series (and I am very glad), so hopefully we’ll get some more answers in book two (especially after Kim joined the mix! Kim! And what did the Fate guy mean?! So many questions!). I am personally hoping the next book will be from Amber’s POV again, just because I really enjoyed her narrative, but I’ll still be reading it even if it’s not!

Overall this was a very fun, very adorable read, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for something fairly light-hearted with a bit of magic. Now to wait for book two!

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Blog Tour: Review of Dream Magic by Joshua Khan

Hi everyone! Welcome to my stop on the Dream Magic blog tour. Dream Magic is the sequel to Joshua Khan's middle grade fantasy, Shadow Magic, and contains zombies, ghosts, a gigantic flying bat and lots of magic. If that doesn't appeal to you, I don't know what will! Please see my review of Dream Magic below.

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Dream Magic (Shadow Magic #2) by Joshua Khan
Publisher: Scholastic
Released: 6th April 2017
My Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
In a world ruled by six ancient Houses of Magic, a girl and a boy begin an epic and dangerous journey of discovery...

Lilith Shadow, princess of darkness, is struggling with her growing powers. Castle Gloom is filling with ghosts, zombies roam the country and people throughout Gehenna are disappearing. Then Lily is attacked in her own castle by a mysterious sorcerer known as Dreamweaver and his army of jewel-spiders whose bites send victims to sleep. Thorn, and his giant bat Hades, must save Lily from the realm of sleep and help her overcome the evil Dreamweaver in order for her to reclaim her kingdom. 
(from Goodreads)

After enjoying Shadow Magic, I was excited to start reading Dream Magic, and wasn’t disappointed! It was a fun and action-packed read that will appeal to fantasy fans of all ages.

In Dream Magic, the dead just weren’t staying dead, and Gehenna was overrun by zombies and ghosts and vampires while living people were disappering. Necromancy was the magic of the Shadows – but as Lily was a girl, she wasn’t supposed to have magic. The fact that she did – and that she was a powerful witch at that – initially terrified people, and Lily didn’t really know what to do. She didn’t enjoy ruling, it wasn’t supposed to be her job, but after the death of her parents and her brother, she was the only Shadow left. She had enough problems without some strange dream magic infecting her people; she was only thirteen and she was dealing with so much! All while keeping her great sense of humour too. I liked Lily because she wasn’t your typical ruler – she was nothing like Gabriel (who returned in this book – with no improvement to his personality) and was more concerned with doing what she thought was right than keeping up her appearances. She was also a strong witch and quite clever, and while she might not have liked ruling, I think she was actually well-suited to it.

Thorn was continuing his work as a squire, though he wasn’t seeing much of Tyburn or Lily these days. His only constant companion was his pet bat Hades (whom I adored). Of course, things never stayed calm in Gehenna, and Thorn managed to get involved in trying to solve the dream magic mystery with Lily. Lily and Thorn got closer in this book, which was nice to see, and I liked that Thorn was becoming more confident in himself within Gehenna. It wasn’t a place he was used to, and he knew that as a squire, no matter how many heroic deeds he did, he’d never truly be recognised for them. But even so, he didn’t care, and continued to do what he could to help people. He was also a lot cleverer than people thought, and I liked that he was always proving those who underestimated him wrong. I did miss Tyburn in this book, and would have liked to have seen his relationship with Thorn develop a bit more, but I’m sure that will be explored more in book three.

Plot-wise, there were a lot of twists and turns in this book and I really enjoyed reading about dream magic and the Dreamweaver. The illustrations were a nice touch and I felt they really added to the story. The jewel spiders made me shudder – I hate spiders of all kinds, jewelled or not – and was creeped out every time they popped up! I also liked how the book touched on morality, and whether something bad can be justified if it’s for the good of everyone else. Things weren’t always clear-cut, and while this book didn’t go into detail on the topic, it was interesting to see it discussed. I’m really intrigued by how Lily’s relationship with her father’s ghost will change after the revelations of this book, and look forward to book three!

Overall, Dream Magic was a really enjoyable sequel to Shadow Magic, and I’ll be continuing this series to find out what happens next.

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Joshua Khan was born in Britain. From very early on he filled himself with the stories of heroes, kings and queens until there was hardly any room for anything else. He can tell you where King Arthur was born* but not what he himself had for breakfast. So, with a head stuffed with tales of legendary knights, wizards and great and terrible monsters it was inevitable Joshua would want to create some of his own. Hence SHADOW MAGIC. Josh lives in London with his family, but he’d rather live in a castle. It wouldn’t have to be very big, just as long as it had battlements.

*Tintagel, in case you were wondering.
(from Scholastic)

Website: http://www.joshuakhan.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/writerjoshkhan


Many thanks to Faye and Scholastic for letting me take part in this blog tour! Don't forget to visit the next stop tomorrow at Bart's Bookshelf.

Friday, 31 March 2017

March Wrap-Up

Books I Read This Month:

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller
Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund
The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig
The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon
Shadow Magic by Joshua Khan
Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell*

All links lead to Goodreads. Reviews to come for starred books! I didn't have a great reading month in March, I only read six books (and literally all of them were fantasy, so you can tell what kind of mood I was in). The Song Rising was one of my most anticipated books of the year and it was definitely worth the (loooong) wait! I also really liked Daughter of the Pirate King, and I'm glad we're getting a sequel.

Blog Posts:


I had a bit of a crappy blogging month too - March generally hasn't been good for me. I've not been well, and I've also just been feeling a bit unmotivated - I've been job-hunting for a while now with no luck, which isn't fun, and coupled with being ill, it's made for a bit of a rubbish month!

TV Shows I Watched/Started:

Supergirl season 2 (currently airing on Sky1)
The Flash season 3 (currently airing Sky1)
Legends of Tomorrow season 2 (currently airing on Sky1)
Scorpion season 3 (currently airing on ITV2)
Timeless (E4)
Emerald City (currently airing on 5STAR)
The Magicians season 2 (currently airing on 5STAR)
Shadowhunters season 2 (mid-season break, Netflix)
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD season 4 (currently airing E4)
Legion (FOX)
Riverdale (weekly on Netflix)
The Middle (currently airing on Comedy Central)
12 Monkeys season 1 (Netflix)
Killjoys season 1 (Netflix)
The Replacement (BBC1)
BoJack Horseman seasons 1-3 (Netflix)
Designated Survivor (weekly on Netflix)

So all my usual things with a few new shows. I really enjoyed 12 Monkeys and hope Netflix gets season 2 soon! Killjoys was decent, though way overacted at points. The Replacement had a really disappointing finale and words can't really describe BoJack Horseman... The musical episode of The Flash was pretty cool, but had a weak plot, and I have gotten really into Designated Survivor.

I did attempt to watch Iron Fist but it was so awful, and after reading all the reviews, I thought it wasn't worth even trying to finish it. I also started Big Little Lies but couldn't get into it. In good news, however, we are FINALLY getting season 4 of The 100 in the UK! It starts next week, yay!

Films I Watched:

Back to the Future parts I & II (I have lost count how many times I've seen these)
Cinderella (2014)
Doctor Strange
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

Music I Listened to:

So. Much. Disney
The Maine, old and new (in particular, Diet Soda Society and Black Butterflies & Déjà Vu)
All the songs from the musical episode of Buffy, "Once More, with Feeling"
Hamilton
Ruelle
One Day More - Les Mis
Anime openings (the Yuri on Ice song though?!)
Songs from all the A Very Potter Musicals
At Least it Was Here - The 88 (the Community opening theme song)

Notable Events:

For my birthday last month, my brother and his fiancée got me tickets to a double feature marathon of Back to the Future parts I & II (Back to the Future being my favourite film of all time) at the Prince Charles Cinema, which was so awesome! The Prince Charles Cinema is a really relaxed cinema where you can bring your own food, sit in comfy seats and bring blankets and whatnot. The screen has a curtain like at an actual theatre and it was generally a really cool place to watch the films - especially since everyone else there obviously also also loved Back to the Future.

And that is my month in a nutshell! I really want to read more in April because I have so many books to get through. I'm also taking part in a blog tour for the second book in the Shadow Magic series by Joshua Khan if you're interested - my post will be up Saturday 8th April! More info on the blog tour banner at the bottom of the sidebar.

Also if anyone wants to hire me...I mean, I have a Law degree. And a year's experience in a really busy office. I analysed data and everything...

What are your bookish (and non-bookish) goals for next month?

Friday, 24 March 2017

Review: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch #1) by Rin Chupeco
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Released: 7th March 2017
My Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.

Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.
(from Goodreads)

The Bone Witch suffered from a few cliché tropes here and there but overall, I quite enjoyed it. It’s not the best fantasy book I’ve ever read, but I would be interested in reading the sequel.

Tea was a fairly likeable main character. Okay, at times she was a bit boring and a stereotypical overpowered heroine dithering over what to do, but I was really intrigued by her story, and how she ended up having a black heartglass in present day. We got a few hints (the chapters were set up in a way where bits from the present day were matched with what was happening in past – think The Name of the Wind) but a lot was still left a mystery, and I do want to find out what exactly happened. For example, Tea stated that she had visited the Oracle 28 times, but we only saw a handful of visits in the book. I am wondering when the rest occur (and why!), because there isn’t that much of a time gap between the present day and the story from the past.

I have to say I wasn’t a fan of the romance, but luckily, there wasn’t much of it. There was a hint of a love triangle with Prince Kance and his cousin? Guard? (I have honestly forgotten his name), but I wasn’t really interested. I’d rather have learnt more about heartglasses. The whole idea of giving your heartglass to someone else if you loved them seemed entirely too risky to me, especially since there wasn’t really a benefit, and I would have liked to have learn more about this practice, as well as more about heartglasses in general and the different colours they could be.

Plot-wise, admittedly, not a lot happened. As I said before, the book was split with some scenes from present day, and some in the past, and I was reading mostly for clues as to how Tea changed from a seemingly innocent girl who was just trying to bring back her brother, to a killer who had no qualms about hurting people. Present day Tea was a lot more interesting that past Tea but we didn’t know what caused her to become that way or how things changed so drastically. Not a lot actually happened in the past scenes to show why this occurred, but there were some signs that got me interested. While I had a lot of issues with the pacing of this book and some of the characterisation, I think I’ll read the next one purely because I want to know what happens to Tea to change her so much.

Overall, this was a fun read to pass the time, and while it had its issues, if you like this sort of split narrative with a continuing mystery, you may enjoy this book.