Blog Tour- Review of A Poison Dark and Drowning by Jessica Cluess

33629245A Poison Dark and Drowning
By: Jessica Cluess
Release Date: September 19, 2017
Publisher: Random House

There are spoilers for A Shadow Bright and Burning in this review.

Summary:
The magicians want her to lead. The sorcerers want her to lie. The demons want her blood. Henrietta wants to save the one she loves. But will his dark magic be her undoing?

Henrietta doesn’t need a prophecy to know that she’s in danger. She came to London to be named the chosen one, the first female sorcerer in centuries, the one who would defeat the bloodthirsty Ancients. Instead, she discovered a city ruled by secrets. And the biggest secret of all: Henrietta is not the chosen one.

Still, she must play the role in order to keep herself and Rook, her best friend and childhood love, safe. But can she truly save him? The poison in Rook’s system is transforming him into something monstrous as he begins to master dark powers of his own.

So when Henrietta finds a clue to the Ancients’ past that could turn the tide of the war, she persuades Blackwood, the mysterious Earl of Sorrow-Fell, to travel up the coast to seek out strange new weapons. And Magnus, the brave, reckless flirt who wants to win back her favor, is assigned to their mission. Together, they will face monsters, meet powerful new allies, and uncover the most devastating weapon of all: the truth

My Thoughts:
I really enjoyed the first book in this series but this one was even better! It had more action, a thickening plot and I really loved most of the character interactions. I feel that Henrietta is really coming into her own more and more and her interactions with Blackwood are some of my very favorite scenes.

The ability Cluess has to write her actions scenes is really remarkable. I was completely enthralled and they are all so easy to visualize as you read. These books really need to be a movie or TV series. The descriptions I see saying this is a mix between Pride and Prejudice and Harry Potter actually fit to me- how often does that actually happen?

There is only one tiny complaint I had with this book and that’s Henrietta’s relationship with her childhood friend, Rook. For some reason I just can’t feel the chemistry between these two and I just don’t see any spark. I think it’s because I’m so heavily shipping her with another character. Rook just seems like a hollow character and I feel that as the series progresses his personality declines- perhaps that is the point? I really did love him at the start of the first book but more and more I don’t care about his outcome.

I really felt that the writing was even stronger in this sequel than the first and there are some really dark moments that I just loved. Things felt really tense and I didn’t know what to expect exactly. I am looking forward to seeing how everything plays out in the third book.

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DNF Review of Glitter by Aprilynne Pike

glittercoverGlitter
By: Aprilynne Pike
Release Date: October 25th 2016
Publisher: Random House
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

DNFed at page 265

I will briefly go into aspects of the book that are mentioned in the summary but some might find it a little spoilery.

Summary:
Outside the palace of Versailles, it’s modern day. Inside, the people dress, eat, and act like it’s the eighteenth century—with the added bonus of technology to make court life lavish, privileged, and frivolous. The palace has every indulgence, but for one pretty young thing, it’s about to become a very beautiful prison.
When Danica witnesses an act of murder by the young king, her mother makes a cruel power play . . . blackmailing the king into making Dani his queen. When she turns eighteen, Dani will marry the most ruthless and dangerous man of the court. She has six months to escape her terrifying destiny. Six months to raise enough money to disappear into the real world beyond the palace gates.
Her ticket out? Glitter. A drug so powerful that a tiny pinch mixed into a pot of rouge or lip gloss can make the wearer hopelessly addicted. Addicted to a drug Dani can sell for more money than she ever dreamed.
But in Versailles, secrets are impossible to keep. And the most dangerous secret—falling for a drug dealer outside the palace walls—is one risk she has to take.

My Thoughts:
Oh goodness where to start? I’ll start with what I did like- the world was interesting. The idea that a group of people in the modern age would live like it’s the 18th century- well at least dress that way is a really interesting concept. I loved the descriptions of the clothing and was excited to see where the story went.

Things went wrong for me fairly early on sadly.  There was a description of the main character’s friend Mei who’s Chinese and it was so very stereotypical. I couldn’t help but feel that it was poorly done. This was in chapter 1 and I thought – oh things will improve. They must. Well, the main character Danica was in such a bad spot. I felt really sorry for her since her father was addicted to drugs and her mother sold her out to the King for a higher status. This poor girl had no one looking out for her in any real way. Because of that she was willing to do anything to escape.

Well, this led to her literally drugging the people around her without their knowledge. All this so they would be addicted to the makeup the drugs are in so they’ll buy more which will give her the amount of money to escape. I can understand the motivation for this but it was really hard to read.  What type of person drugs those around themselves? It showed the complete lack of options Danica had and I found it so sad.

Because of her secrecy and betrayal of those around her this character couldn’t have any really connection with those around her- the only person she did connect with was a love interest that I wanted to ship but sadly I could not.

This novel dealt with such heavy topics- drug abuse, an abusive fiancé, and just wow- so sad. Danica also continually binds herself tigher and tighter into her corset so that she can nearly wrap her hands around her waist. She does this I assume for a measure of control over her life. This was briefly mentioned several times but in the part I read not really addressed or looked at as seriously as I would hope. I’m hopeful though that by the end of the novel it is addressed.

So- I guess this novel didn’t work for me because the subject matter was rather sad though not written that way? It is easier to read than I’d expect. I had so much trouble connecting deeply to any aspect of this book and by page 265 I’d hope that I’d be attached in some way. I figured I’d give up since  I made it that far.

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I wonder- have you read this book? Should I pick it back up?

Blog Tour- A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

ashadowbrightandburningA Shadow Bright and Burning
By: Jessica Cluess
Release Date: September 20th 2016
Publisher: Random House
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

My Rating:
star

Summary:
I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I?

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she is brought to London to train with Her Majesty’s sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she’s the true prophesied one. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city–and the one she loves?

My Thoughts:
I fell in love at first sight with this book’s cover and the title. When I heard this was a fantasy book I knew it was for me. What I didn’t expect was the Jane Austen parallels throughout the novel as well as how fun a book this was.

I expected this to be more of a run-of-the mill fantasy with magic, a fantastical land etc. Ok, yes, had I read the summary I’d have seen that it takes place in LONDON and not a completely made up world. I loved that the setting ended up being Victorian London with dashes of magic and some really evil bad guys lurking around.

I felt this novel was fast paced and kept my interest from start to finish. I found the characters to be likeable and Henrietta was a wonderful main character to follow and learn the world with. She also so happens to be a rarity in that she is the lone female capable of magic. Once her abilities are recognized she’s whisked off to a school for magic and the story really gets going.

Henrietta refuses to go to the magical school unless her childhood friend, Rook, was allowed to go with them. These two characters have a history with one another and Rook’s character was very interesting. He had always been looked down upon and really isolated because of an event that happened when he was a child. I was mesmerized with the details surrounding him and this event.

Who doesn’t love the setting to have a magical school? Her Majesty’s Sorcerers are a small group and, of course, since Henrietta was the only female student she ran into trouble with not being accepted and feeling she’s not capable. I enjoyed reading about her own struggles with coming to terms with her power and the idea that she could be prophesied. Can you imagine the stress and pressure if you were prophesized to save everyone and yet you didn’t really feel you were the right person for the role?

Through Henrietta we meet the other sorcerers and each vary from one another and treat her differently. I wasn’t sure who she should trust or not though I had my suspicions fairly early on. One character in particular really mirrors Austen’s Darcy. I think you’ll know him easily and honestly I wish that the author would have made him a bit more varied from that classical character. I felt that because he so closely resembled Darcy I had trouble taking him for his own character. Regardless, even though I got strong Darcy vibes (or maybe because of it) I couldn’t help but love him.

You would think that one gal being surrounded by all these sorcerers and her male best friend from home there would be a lot of romance in this book but there wasn’t. There are a few hints here and there but really I was surprised by how little presented itself. I’m not entirely sure where things will go in the next book but I’m excited to see (and I have someone I’m rooting for her to end up with).

You can’t have a fantasy without the bad guys and the Ancients were really original and packed a punch. I truly didn’t know what to expect of them or their impact so this upped the tension and my worry for the characters.

Final Thoughts:
I really enjoyed A Shadow Bright and Burning. I felt it was a strong beginning to a new series and I’m really excited to see where things go. This novel successfully played on some typical fantasy tropes but it felt fun and original.

Review of How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather

Math_9780553539479_jkt_all_r1.inddHow to Hang a Witch
By: Adriana Mather
Release Date: July 26th 2016
Publisher: Knopf/Random House
Format: Print ARC
Source: Convention

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials and immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves The Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were?

If dealing with that weren’t enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real live (well technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials.

Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with the Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it’s Salem. But history is about to repeat itself.

My Thoughts:
I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into when I started reading this book. I didn’t notice at first the author’s last name and that she shared it with her main character. Upon realizing that I had to flip to the back and make sure there was an author’s note (which there was). Knowing that the author was a Mather herself really added credibility to the story for me.

This story takes place in Salem present day but the main character has ties to the past- and not in a very popular way. I was really impressed with how the author handled Sam’s disconnect to those around her and the progression of bullying she faced in the town and school. It was hard to read at times but really tied together the past with present and the importance of not standing by while others are mistreated. I found the message to be very powerful and enjoyed that aspect of the book a good amount.

The town of Salem as well as the history of the Witch Trials was really interesting. I loved the little historical tid-bits and found the descriptions to be very vivid and clear. The author obviously knows this time period and history well and she incorporated it very well into her storyline.

Where things went a bit off for me was the romance in the novel. I never really felt anything towards the two and yes…there’s a slight triangle. I’m really not sure if everyone would consider it that but the main character does sort of feel things for two different people View Spoiler » I felt that the main romantic element was rushed and I didn’t feel the chemistry between the characters.

Another thing that fell a bit flat to me was the big reveal. I felt it was pretty easy to predict and though it was dramatic I never really felt the tension I’d expect. I wasn’t all that invested in the secondary cast so I didn’t have the emotional attachment I’d have liked.

Final Thoughts:
Regardless of the issues I had with How to Hang a Witch I did find it to be an enjoyable read and well worth the time. I thought the author did an excellent job adding in historical details. I loved that the author has an actual past with her story and used that to help develop and write this book. I think that aspect really added to the book.

Blog Tour- How to Hang A Witch by Adriana Mather

I’m very excited to be part of the How to Hang a Witch blog tour. I don’t know about you but since I first saw the cover and read the summary I’ve been looking forward to reading this book. Today I’m sharing some thoughts about it with you. Look for it releasing later this month.

Math_9780553539479_jkt_all_r1.inddHow to Hang a Witch
By: Adriana Mather
Release Date: July 26th 2016
Publisher: Knopf/Random House
Format: Print ARC
Source: Convention

Summary:
Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials and immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves The Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were?

If dealing with that weren’t enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real live (well technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials.

Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with the Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it’s Salem. But history is about to repeat itself.

Thoughts:
Are you a fan of witches? Ghosts? If yes, then you’ll enjoy this book. I didn’t notice at first the author’s last name and that she shared it with her main character. Upon realizing that I had to flip to the back and make sure there was an author’s note (which there was). Knowing that the author was a Mather herself really added credibility to the story for me. How cool is it that the author shares ties to the Salem and has included it in her story? I really loved this aspect and be sure to read that author’s note.

This story takes place in Salem present day but the main character has ties to the past- and not in a very popular way. I was really impressed with how the author handled Sam’s disconnect to those around her and the progression of bullying she faced in the town and school. It was hard to read at times but really tied together the past with present and the importance of not standing by while others are mistreated. I found the message to be very powerful and enjoyed that aspect of the book a good amount.

The town of Salem as well as the history of the Witch Trials was really interesting. I loved the little historical tid-bits and found the descriptions to be very vivid and clear. The author obviously knows this time period and history well and she incorporated it very well into her storyline.

Look for How to Hang a Witch July 26th

You can pre-order now

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