Blogtober Book Review: This Coven Won’t Break by Isabel Sterling

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GoodReads Summary:
Hannah Walsh just wants a normal life. It’s her senior year, so she should be focusing on classes, hanging out with her best friend, and flirting with her new girlfriend, Morgan. But it turns out surviving a murderous Witch Hunter doesn’t exactly qualify as a summer vacation, and now the rest of the Hunters seem more intent on destroying her magic than ever.
When Hannah learns the Hunters have gone nationwide, armed with a serum capable of taking out entire covens at once, she’s desperate to help. Now, with witches across the country losing the most important thing they have—their power—Hannah could be their best shot at finally defeating the Hunters. After all, she’s one of the only witches to escape a Hunter with her magic intact.
Or so everyone believes. Because as good as she is at faking it, doing even the smallest bit of magic leaves her in agony. The only person who can bring her comfort, who can make her power flourish, is Morgan. But Morgan’s magic is on the line, too, and if Hannah can’t figure out how to save her—and the rest of the Witches—she’ll lose everything she’s ever known. And as the Hunters get dangerously close to their final target, will all the Witches in Salem be enough to stop an enemy determined to destroy magic for good?
This Coven Won't Break (These Witches Don't Burn, #2)Review:
My job opened back up when I found that my library had this audiobook. So, basically, I listened to it while I was working (which I’m not supposed to do) and listened to it in almost one shift.
I really enjoyed this book. Probably my favorite part about this book was all of the kissing. Morgan and Hannah’s relationship was the best. They were sweet and new, but also made progress to become a more serious relationship. I liked that their relationship also helped others see how the other witches can use their magic together.
Hannah was very brave. She feels a little responsible for what’s going on and she wants to be a part of the team of agents that are working to take the Hunters down. I really liked how Hannah’s grief over her father was present in the story. She lost her father which is part of her motivation to help, but she also let herself feel that grief. I liked that she ended up being a key part of taking down the Hunters. It was nice to see the adults listening to her ideas.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I liked the first one better, but this one was still good. There was a diverse cast with different sexualities and a trans character. I loved the diversity. I loved, even more, the way the story concluded with the three different types of witches learning that they can use their magic together.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke

GoodReads Summary:
An outcast teenage lesbian witch finds her coven hidden amongst the popular girls in her school, and performs some seriously badass magic in the process.
Skulking near the bottom of West High’s social pyramid, Sideways Pike lurks under the bleachers doing magic tricks for Coke bottles. As a witch, lesbian, and lifelong outsider, she’s had a hard time making friends. But when the three most popular girls pay her $40 to cast a spell at their Halloween party, Sideways gets swept into a new clique. The unholy trinity are dangerous angels, sugar-coated rattlesnakes, and now–unbelievably–Sideways’ best friends.
Together, the four bond to form a ferocious and powerful coven. They plan parties, cast curses on dudebros, try to find Sideways a girlfriend, and elude the fundamentalist witch hunters hellbent on stealing their magic. But for Sideways, the hardest part is the whole ‘having friends’ thing. Who knew that balancing human interaction with supernatural peril could be so complicated?
Rich with the urgency of feral youth, The Scapegracers explores growing up and complex female friendship with all the rage of a teenage girl. It subverts the trope of competitive mean girls and instead portrays a mercilessly supportive clique of diverse and vivid characters. It is an atmospheric, voice-driven novel of the occult, and the first of a three-book series.
The Scapegracers (Scapegracers, #1)Review:
This is a review that if I could, I would love to just write ‘I loved this book’ a hundred million times. I bought this book because I saw two people that I follow on Twitter that just would not stop talking about how much they loved it. Then I read the synopsis and made it as far as ‘teenage lesbian witch’ and knew I had to have it. I am so happy with my decision because this series (which I didn’t know it was a series until the end of the book, but it’s totally okay because I loved it so much that I’m ecstatic to have two more books to look forward to) might just become one of my new all-time favorites. The story was full of teens that are stuffed full of emotions and trying to figure out who they are. I loved everything about this book.
We follow Sideways while she’s setting up a spell that she’s been paid to perform at the first Halloween party of the season. When things get weird at the party because of her spell she finds herself in with the three most popular girls in the school, Yates, Daisy, and Jing. The three become a foursome after they pull in Sideways. They want to figure out what happened, but they also want to learn how to use magic like Sideways does. While I loved everything about this story, from the magic to the things they do with said magic, and the plot, the characters, and their developing friendships were absolutely the best part of the story. The way that Sideways changes her perception of these girls as well as herself after she gets to know them better was wonderful. I also liked that this was a diverse group of friends. They live in a small town, but they’re still diverse in several ways. There was also a really great discussion about sexuality and some characters not really being ready to share their identities. But what I liked most was that these weren’t nice girls. They are girls that are filled with anger and fire. They are teenage girls who talk about how they aren’t supposed to be powerful and they find a way to change that. I really loved all of these characters.
Overall, I think more people need to read this so they can love it as much as I do. I loved that it was full of angry teen girls wanting to make something change. They want power but also happiness. I loved that they fought for what they wanted. I loved that they loved who they were and one another. I also loved the magic. It wasn’t based on a specific magic spell, but with intent. There were words spoken, but it was about feelings and following what felt right and I really liked that. I cannot say enough good things about this book. Please go read it.

Quotes:

“I used to underline passages in my English books, because certain lines crawled off the page, because those lines were magic and they meant something on a cosmic scale.”

“I guess my point is that teenage girls aren’t supposed to be powerful, you know? Everybody hates teenage girls. They hate our bodies and hate us if we want to change them. They hate the things we’re supposed to like but hate it when we like other things even more because that means we’re ruining their things. Were somehow this great corrupting influence, even though we’ve barely got legal agency of our own. But the three of us the four of us, counting you were powerful.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: Blood Magick by Nora Roberts

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GoodReads Summary:
County Mayo is rich in the traditions of Ireland, legends that Branna O’Dwyer fully embraces in her life and in her work as the proprietor of The Dark Witch shop, which carries soaps, lotions, and candles for tourists, made with Branna’s special touch.
Branna’s strength and selflessness hold together a close circle of friends and family—along with their horses and hawks and her beloved hound. But there’s a single missing link in the chain of her life: love…
She had it once—for a moment—with Finbar Burke, but a shared future is forbidden by history and blood. Which is why Fin has spent his life traveling the world to fill the abyss left in him by Branna, focusing on work rather than passion.
Branna and Fin’s relationship offers them both comfort and torment. And though they succumb to the heat between them, there can be no promises for tomorrow. A storm of shadows threatens everything that their circle holds dear. It will be Fin’s power, loyalty, and heart that will make all the difference in an age-old battle between the bonds that hold their friends together and the evil that has haunted their families for centuries.
Blood Magick (The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy, #3)Review:
The final book in this trilogy, Blood Magick, is the one I’ve been most excited for. In this third book, we follow Branna and Finbar. The sparks between them are flying right from the first book. I was dying to get into this finale.
Branna is the responsibile one of the fated three that make up the Dark Witch. She has a strong sense of duty and takes on the role of the leader in the family. I really admire Branna. She takes her duty seriously and teaches the others anything they need to know. I also loved seeing her in her workshop and in the kitchen. In the first two books, we’re told she does the cooking and sort of what she does for her shop in town. But I adored getting to see her thoughts while making new candles, body lotions, or soap scents. I thought it was a great part of this book.
Let’s talk about Finbar Burke. I would die for him. He is the blood of Cabhan but has fought it his entire life. He is as honorable as they get but still doesn’t hide his feelings for Branna. His love for animals, horse, hound, and hawk alike, was one of my favorite things about him. He’s so full of love, for animals, for Branna, and for the rest of their circle.
Seeing these two put aside the past and come together again made me so happy. It truly displayed the growth of each member of the circle. The history the two share, really made this couple what they were. Overcoming that history and coming back to one another was the highlight of this book.
Overall, this was my favorite book in the series. I love Branna and I would die for Fin. I loved seeing the circle come together, with the past and all of the connections they learned, to defeat a great evil.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Shadow Spell by Nora Roberts

GoodReads Summary:
With the legends and lore of Ireland running through his blood, falconer Connor O’Dwyer is proud to call County Mayo home. It’s where his sister, Branna, lives and works, where his cousin, Iona, has found true love, and where his childhood friends form a circle that can’t be broken… A circle that is about to be stretched out of shape—by a long-awaited kiss. Meara Quinn is Branna’s best friend, a sister in all but blood. Her and Connor’s paths cross almost daily, as Connor takes tourists on hawk walks and Meara guides them on horseback across the lush countryside. She has the eyes of a gypsy and the body of a goddess…things Connor has always taken for granted—until his brush with death propels them into a quick, hot tangle. Plenty of women have found their way to Connor’s bed, but none to his heart until now. Frustratingly, Meara is okay with just the heat, afraid to lose herself—and their friendship—to something more. But soon, Connor will see the full force and fury of what runs in his blood. And he will need his family and friends around him when his past rolls in like the fog, threatening an end to all he loves…
Shadow Spell (The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy, #2)Review:
In the second installment of the Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy, we follow two more of the six that this series follows. We already know them all from the first book, but we get to know Connor and Meara a bit better. They’re known one another their whole lives, and after a brush with Cabhan, Meara finds herself unable to resist her lust for Connor after she thought him dead. I liked that this book was sort of the opposite of the first. In the first Iona is new to the area and the people, but with Connor and Meara there’s history. There’s a past there.
Connor is the guy that’s friends with everyone. He’s a loveable flirt. But his loyalty knows no bounds. I love his relationship with his sister and cousin, but I also love the brotherhood he shares with Fin and Boyle.
Meara is the tough girl that you don’t want to mess with. But she has a heart of gold she doesn’t let many see. She fears that she is like her father and finds it hard to let herself be loved. I loved seeing the growth she goes through in working through this issue. I also loved her ferocity when up against Cabhan.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. Not a favorite, but it was fun. There was action and romance, friendship and growth. I will always love Nora’s books and this one was no different.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Dark Witch by Nora Roberts

GoodReads Summary:
With indifferent parents, Iona Sheehan grew up craving devotion and acceptance. From her maternal grandmother, she learned where to find both: a land of lush forests, dazzling lakes, and centuries-old legends.
Ireland.
County Mayo, to be exact. Where her ancestors’ blood and magic have flowed through generations—and where her destiny awaits.
Iona arrives in Ireland with nothing but her Nan’s directions, an unfailingly optimistic attitude, and an innate talent with horses. Not far from the luxurious castle where she is spending a week, she finds her cousins, Branna and Connor O’Dwyer. And since family is family, they invite her into their home and their lives.
When Iona lands a job at the local stables, she meets the owner, Boyle McGrath. Cowboy, pirate, wild tribal horsemen, he’s three of her biggest fantasy weaknesses all in one big, bold package.
Iona realizes that here she can make a home for herself—and live her life as she wants, even if that means falling head over heels for Boyle. But nothing is as it seems. An ancient evil has wound its way around Iona’s family tree and must be defeated. Family and friends will fight with each other and for each other to keep the promise of hope—and love—alive…
Dark Witch (The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy, #1)Review:
I am forever a fan of Nora Roberts. I always love her books and Dark Witch was no different. While there were flaws in the story, I still really enjoyed it. I absolutely adored the Ireland setting and would love to know how accurate it was. I loved all the characters and really just everything about it.
We follow Iona as she picks up her whole life and moves to Ireland to find her cousins. I think I liked her so much because really all she wanted was to find where she belonged. She just wanted to be loved. And that’s something I can relate to myself. I liked that things worked out so easily for her. I know some people might not, but I liked it. She found exactly what she was looking for and just needed to figure out how she now fit into this new dynamic.
Boyle was the big manly man. He was a little bit of a stereotypical tough guy but I didn’t mind that at all. I liked his development with his new relationship with Iona. I think they two are really well matched and good for one another.
I am obsessed with the cousins, Branna and Connor. I hope Connor’s book is next, but I wouldn’t mind if it was Branna’s. Branna is the know it all responsible one. There’s a love/hate relationship with Fin and I frigging loved it. I can’t wait to see how they make amends and reconnect. Connor is the flirty, friends with everyone guy. I adore him. He’s open with his affection and I loved it. Finally, Meara. I loved her from the moment Iona met her in the barn. I love this group of six with my whole heart. I think they’re a fascinating team filled with love and conflict.
I would have liked a bit more explanation of the big bad. We see him in the first chapter but his origins are never really explained. We’re sort of just thrown into the story and sort of stumble along piecing things together. I managed but was still left with questions about the big bad by the end of the story.
Overall, no surprise that I really enjoyed this one. I love Nora’s writing and I probably always will. I definitely suggest this one. I read it at the end of October and it was the perfect mood for Spooktober.

Quotes:

“What’s an adventure if you know all the steps before you take them?”

“Emotions are a magick of their own, aren’t they? Love and hate the strongest and most powerful.”

“You can’t just hope for happy endings. You have to believe in them. Then do the work, take the risks.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Eight: Paranormal Edition

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Hi, lovelies! Today the topic of conversation is paranormal books! October is the perfect time of year to read some good (or not so good) paranormal stories. Ghosts, witches, and vampires, what more could a girl ask for?

Spell on Wheels by Kath Leth, Megan Levens, & Marissa Louise
This graphic novel was the perfect start to my spooky season. Kickass witches that meet all sorts of creatures. It was everything I wanted and way better than I expected.

Storm and Fury by Jennifer L. Armentrout
This one is definitely angsty YA paranormal, but I had to have a few of those on this list of course.

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
This middle-grade story about a girl that sees ghosts is just the perfect Spooktober read.

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
Dystopian vampires. That is all.

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand
This one is technically horror, but I don’t read enough horror to make a whole list so I’m including it here. This has the best atmosphere for autumn and mystery galore.

Moonstruck Vol 1: Magic to Brew by Grace Ellis & Shae Beagle
Such a fun and diverse graphic novel. I loved this first installment.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
The Gansey Gang and their antics are best read in the spooky season. The atmospheric setting and adventures are so fitting for this time of year.

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw
This one doubles as a great summer read and an equally great fall read. Witches and ghosts, drowning, oh my!

A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest
This addicting series is full of mythical creatures you’ve never even thought about. With 30+ books in the series, this is a great one for some binge-reading.

Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter
Supernatural summer camp? Great for the fall, but the summer too.

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
If you don’t read at least one vampire book this month, who are you?

The Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy by Nora Roberts
Witches and mystery and hot dudes. Yes, please.

A Quick Bite by Lynsay Sands
This one fulfills any romance lovers need for some smutty vampires. There are about a zillion books in this series too, so get cracking!

The Devil Inside by Jenna Black
I’ll admit that I haven’t actually read this book or series is quite a few years, but I really remember loving them.

What books of the paranormal variety would you have included on this list? Leave a comment and let me know! Have you read any that made my list?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno

Summary:
Magic passed down through generations…
Georgina Fernweh waits with growing impatience for the tingle of magic in her fingers—magic that has touched every woman in her family. Her twin sister, Mary, already shows an ability to defy gravity. But with their eighteenth birthday looming at the end of this summer, Georgina fears her gift will never come.
An island where strange things happen…
No one on the island of By-the-Sea would ever call the Fernweh’s what they really are, but if you need the odd bit of help—say, a sleeping aid concocted by moonlight—they are the ones to ask.
No one questions the weather, as moody and erratic as a summer storm.
No one questions the (allegedly) three-hundred-year-old bird who comes to roost on the island every year.
One summer that will become legend…
When tragedy strikes, what make the Fernweh women suddenly casts them in suspicion. Over the course of her last summer on the island—a summer of storms, of love, of salt—Georgina will learn the truth about magic, in all its many forms.
Summer of SaltReview:
The only thing wrong with this book was that there wasn’t more of it. Summer of Salt was the group book for the Witch-A-Thon. I’ve had it on my TBR shelf ever since I saw Chelsea Dolling Reads talk about it on her channel. I didn’t really even know what it was about before I picked it up. Queer beachy and witchy? Sign me up.
So, being honest. I was slightly disappointed when I learned that most of this book centers around a bird. I know that the story is more than that. But it just seemed so silly to me. But as the story progressed and certain things happened, I came to appreciate this little bird.
I loved the characters. They were all so vibrant and interesting. The relationship between Georgina and her twin, Mary, was absolutely my favorite part of Summer of Salt. I have two sisters and sibling stories always seem to hit me in the feels. They were a realistic pair of sisters and I adored the family dynamic.
Right along with the family dynamic is the atmosphere of By-the-Sea. I want to live on this spooky and atmospheric island. Witchy and beachy is my preferred environment. I loved the way that the weather was brought into the story. I could help but smile at the tugboat scene.
Overall, I would have liked to learn more about the magic, more about the Fernweh family and their history, more about the island, just more. I also really liked the representation. Georgina acknowledged that the environment she’s in is likely more accepting than what others might experience. I liked that she was aware of the privileged she has growing up on a close-knit island with a family that isn’t totally normal themselves. I definitely will be reading more work by Katrina Leno and soon.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.