TOP TEN TUESDAY
HOSTED by The Broke and the Bookish
This week’s topic is…
Top Ten Great Beach Reads
(Click the book cover link to the book’s Goodreads’ page)
(Click the book cover link to the book’s Goodreads’ page)
W…W…W…Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words and includes Three Ws:
(Click the book cover link to the book’s Goodreads’ page)
FRIDAY RAVES is a feature on my blog, in which I “RAVE” about important news, authors, books, novelties, and other bookish announcements that all bibliophiles should know about.
If you don’t know already, I am a self-proclaimed Subscription Box addict *cough cough,* I mean fanatic, especially when it comes to bookish subscription boxes. This month I bought and tried out Yureka Books‘ subscription box. In regards to subscribers in the USA, there are three box options to pick from:
Personally, after selecting the $15.00 Subscription Box, I took a survey/questionnaire regarding books and genres that I have enjoyed, loved, and disliked. And around mid-May I received this beautiful package in the mail:
As you can see, I received a beautifully written welcome letter, which explained the books I received this month: a fantasy novel and a dystopian novel (both of which I do not already own…WOOHOO!). I also enjoyed the little bookish items that came along with the package: a magnetic owl bookmark and some pretty bookplates. After scrolling through Instagram pictures of other people’s Yureka packages, I noticed that a lot of subscribers received different books than me, which is awesome, because Yureka sends out books based on genres that you like reading. I also noticed that some subscribers even received extra swag like The Winner’s Trilogy items. I sadly did not receive these extra items.
Overall, I am happy with the books and bookish items I received, the great pricing of the subscription package, and more importantly, I was really blown away by the packaging/wrapping.
If you love books and bookish items, this inexpensive subscription box is for you.
Note: I bought this box with my own money. I was not asked or paid to write a review for this subscription box or company. All statements, pictures, and opinions are my own.
Title: The Witch Hunter
By: Virginia Boecker
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genres: Fiction, Paranormal, Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 362 (Hardcover
Source: Won from NOVL newsletter (2015)
The magic and suspense of Graceling meet the political intrigue and unrest of Game of Thrones in this riveting fantasy debut.
Your greatest enemy isn’t what you fight, but what you fear.
Elizabeth Grey is one of the king’s best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. But when she’s accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to burn at the stake.
Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can break the deadly curse that’s been laid upon him.
But Nicholas and his followers know nothing of Elizabeth’s witch hunting past–if they find out, the stake will be the least of her worries. And as she’s thrust into the magical world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and one all-too-handsome healer, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, of friends and enemies, and of love and hate.
Virginia Boecker weaves a riveting tale of magic, betrayal, and sacrifice in this unforgettable fantasy debut.
The Witch Hunter is a beautifully written and action-packed, debut novel about a young girl named Elizabeth Grey. Elizabeth has grown up learning the art of witch hunting. In the craft of witch hunting, she is inculcated with the idea that she is providing justice and purification for a kingdom that she is willing to protect. However, through life’s unexpectancies, Elizabeth’s world is put through a whirlwind, and she finds herself being accused of witchcraft. After weeks of incarceration, she is saved by the single wizard that she was told was her worst enemy–Nicholas Perevil. In Perevil’s protection, Elizabeth is healed by magic–something she was conditioned to loathe. More importantly, she discovers that she plays an important part in breaking the curse casted on Perevil by someone she trusted.
Elizabeth’s journey is filled with betrayal, a handsome healer, jolly pirates, whimsical forest parties, fancy ball gowns, cursed tablets, mythical swords, giant red-eyed rats, the crumbling of old friendships, and the growth of new friendships.
The Witch Hunter is a fast-paced, fantasy novel that will engross you in an enchanting world of betrayal, redemption, and a passionate heroine set forth to change a world she once loved.
NOTE: This review was previously posted on my Goodreads account in May 25, 2015, and has been updated for my blog. I received an Advance Reader’s Copy (ARC) as a winner of NOVL’s monthly newsletter giveaway. Thank you, NOVL and Little, Brown Books! All statements and opinions in this review are mine.
(Click the book cover link to the book’s Goodreads’ page)
Aspiring love charm maker Hijiri Kitamura was excited to come back to Grimbaud for her sophomore year-until she learns about the upcoming charm making competition. Grimbaud has just started to recover from the tyranny of Zita’s love fortunes and it would be too easy for the winning charm maker to take Zita’s place. The only solution is for Hijiri, with the support of her friends and fellow rebels, to win the contest herself.
Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done, especially when Love itself has decided to meddle in Hijiri’s life. Concerned that it’s favorite charm maker has given up on finding a boyfriend of her own, Love takes matters into its own hands and delivers the perfect boyfriend to her in a giftwrapped box…literally.
Get ready to be charmed by this magical, quirky sequel to Love Fortunes and Other Disasters by Kimberly Karalius.
YAY, the Grimbaud life continues in Love Charms and Other Catastrophes! Once again, Kimberly Karalius, a word enchantress, has created another magical novel. This sequel is filled with love, longing, mystery, courage, magic, soothing tea, and chocolate drizzled waffles. With beautiful and comforting sentences like, “…September cooled the town. Leaves browned, cardigans came out of closets, and chocolatiers added ginger and cinnamon to warm the insides of their pralines,” how can you not fall in love with the world of Grimbaud all over again?
Karalius’s setting, characters, and love-story are sweet and addicting. I was ecstatic to find out that not only does this sequel bring back the characters that we love, like Fallon and Sebastian, but the whole book follows our favorite love charm-maker, Hijiri. If you’ve read Love Fortunes and Other Disasters, you will remember Hijiri as the smart, shy student with a true craft in making love-charms. Even though I adore Hijiri, I did find myself irritated with her every now and then. Throughout the novel, she often puts herself down, because she honestly believes that she is not capable to fall in love. But when Hijiri becomes a contestant in the town’s search for an eccentric and gifted new love charm-maker, her disheartening beliefs are challenged.
Hijiri is selfless, but she also has a very solitary demeanor. I like that Hijiri uses her innate gift to help other people’s love lives; however, when it comes to her own, she can be very aloof and very frustrating. Through her friends and Love’s gift, a charm-boy named Kentaro, I really appreciated how Karalius is able to develop and mold Hijiri into a strong heroine. More importantly, I love that Hijiri is surrounded by so much friendship and love, which helps her discouraging thoughts to recycle into an action of perseverance and a tenacity to stop underestimating herself.
Unlike the first novel, which I found to be fast-paced and quirky, Love Charms has more of a serious undertone. This book is not just about a town infatuated with love; it is a story focused on friendship and self-discovery. Even though Hijiri is very smart and studious, I sometimes found her actions and words very disheartening, especially when she was interacting with Kentaro, a sweet, allegiant, and trusting boy that knows a little something about second chances. The conflicts and challenges Hijiri endures in this book—a mysterious gift-wrapped boy, a love charm-making contest, and a rampant robot—are all great obstacles that test her beliefs. Karalius has definitely created another great novel that has perfectly woven fantasy and contemporary together. And this time around, she has gifted her readers with a story about courage, friendship, and discovering confidence in oneself.
“Sometimes you know what you like. It’s called trusting your heart.”
“Love is magic, she thought, and nothing can change that.”
“Your heart needs bending and stretching to grow. Not that it wasn’t already a proper size before…Your heart is not ruined. It’s stronger than ever.”
W…W…W.. Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words and includes Three Ws:
In the tradition of Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic, one girl chooses to change her fortune and her fate by falling in love.
Love is real in the town of Grimbaud, and Fallon Dupree has dreamed of attending high school there for years. After all, generations of Duprees have successfully followed the (100% accurate!) love fortunes from Zita’s famous Love Charms Shop to happily marry their high school sweethearts. It’s a tradition. So she is both stunned and devastated when her fortune states that she will NEVER find love.
Fortunately, Fallon isn’t the only student with a terrible love fortune, and a rebellion is brewing. Fallon is determined to take control of her own fate—even if it means working with a notorious heartbreaker like Sebastian.
Will Fallon and Sebastian be able to overthrow Zita’s tyranny and fall in love?
INITIAL RAVES: Magic realism. Fate. Charms. A quirky heroine. A town infatuated with the fortunes of love. And a love to die for. So much goodness!!!
Love Fortunes and Other Disasters left me giddy and wanting more shenanigans in the town of Grimbaud. For a while, my thoughts of Kimberly Karalius’s novel could only be described in short phrases and words, and I still do not think I can do the book justice in sentence form, but I am going to try.
As a person seeking out contemporary reads but in love with fantasy/magic realism, Love Fortunes is the perfect book that interweaves both of these genres. Karalius somehow discovered an elaborate formula to perfectly combine elements of Pushing Daisies, The Night Circus, and Francesca Lia Block’s modern spin on mythical entities into one–and alas Love Fortunes and Other Disasters was constructed.
As a novel in the Swoon Reads publishing company, Love Fortunes and Other Disasters entwines different snapshots of swoon-worthy moments and memorable characters. The heroine, Fallon, is willing to fight against a love fortune that fate has given her, and change her destiny in the realm of love. As she commits to changing her own destiny, she also begins to help her friends and other people in town who are fated hopelessness and ill fortunes in their “love” lives, including the swoony, “I’m-too-good-to-fall-in-love” classmate, Sebastian.
If you are in the mood for a fun, fast-paced story about a quirky and determined female, Love Fortunes and Other Disasters is the book you are destined to read.
NOTE: This review was previously posted on my Goodreads account in April 11, 2015, and has been updated for my blog. I received an Advance Reader’s Copy (ARC) through the publisher in a Goodreads giveaway. All statements and honest opinions are mine.
A Criminal Magic
Publication date: February 2nd 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Young Adult
THE NIGHT CIRCUS meets THE PEAKY BLINDERS in Lee Kelly’s new crossover fantasy novel.
Magic is powerful, dangerous and addictive – and after passage of the 18th Amendment, it is finally illegal.
It’s 1926 in Washington, DC, and while Anti-Sorcery activists have achieved the Prohibition of sorcery, the city’s magic underworld is booming. Sorcerers cast illusions to aid mobsters’ crime sprees. Smugglers funnel magic contraband in from overseas. Gangs have established secret performance venues where patrons can lose themselves in magic, and take a mind-bending, intoxicating elixir known as the sorcerer’s shine.
Joan Kendrick, a young sorcerer from Norfolk County, Virginia accepts an offer to work for DC’s most notorious crime syndicate, the Shaw Gang, when her family’s home is repossessed. Alex Danfrey, a first-year Federal Prohibition Unit trainee with a complicated past and talents of his own, becomes tapped to go undercover and infiltrate the Shaws.
Through different paths, Joan and Alex tread deep into the violent, dangerous world of criminal magic – and when their paths cross at the Shaws’ performance venue, despite their orders, and despite themselves, Joan and Alex become enchanted with one another. But when gang alliances begin to shift, the two sorcerers are forced to question their ultimate allegiances and motivations. And soon, Joan and Alex find themselves pitted against each other in a treacherous, heady game of cat-and-mouse.
A CRIMINAL MAGIC casts a spell of magic, high stakes and intrigue against the backdrop of a very different Roaring Twenties.
Book trailer (created by Claribel Ortega)
GUEST POST by LEE KELLY:
Real-Life Gangsters that Inspired the Tough Guys in A CRIMINAL MAGIC
The pitch for my latest book, A CRIMINAL MAGIC, is THE NIGHT CIRCUS meets THE PEAKY BLINDERS, and for anyone who’s seen that twisty, violent BBC drama, you’ll know this means there’s some pretty hardened criminals in this one. My story takes place during an alternative Prohibition-era America, but instead of alcohol, magic has been prohibited. And just like during real Prohibition, gangsters have created an extensive, lucrative underworld to make sure people still get what they want, despite the letter of the law.
Because the magic in this novel is tricky and dangerous by nature, I knew I needed gangsters that weren’t just ruthless – these wise guys had to be clever, driven, and one step ahead of the sorcerers they employ in all aspects of their illegal trade. For inspiration and ideas, I naturally turned to history. Here are some of the notorious, hardnosed gangsters that most inspired me while writing A CRIMINAL MAGIC:
Owen “Owney” Madden was a New York gangster nicknamed “the Killer,” and aptly so as he was known for his very public executions. Madden more than once gunned down his rival gang members in the streets, and he allegedly shot a man on a trolley for flirting with his date. Despite being a hothead, he was also a shrewd businessman, and ran The Cotton Club (as well as some other swanky speakeasies) in New York City. In my novel, Erwin McEvoy, the boss of the Irish Shaw Gang, is loosely based on Madden (with a little Boo Boo Hoff thrown in there too. Boo Boo’s up next).
I have to admit, I was first attracted to Max “Boo Boo” Hoff because of his name, but the more I read about this Philly-based crime boss, the more fascinated I became. Hoff was a boxer turned gangster, and his bootlegging operation was so successful during Prohibition, it’s claimed he had an office of operations with 175 phones and a weekly payroll of $30,000 (in the 1920s)! Also known for his partying and extravagant lifestyle, Hoff frequently rubbed shoulders with celebrity types at his lavish affairs.
Also intriguing was Guiseppe “Joe the Boss” Masseria, the head of the New York Italian-American mafia – the city’s powerful crime alliance known as the Five Families – during the later years of Prohibition. But Masseria was a bit of an underworld dictator: he even required monetary tributes from other Families as testaments of their loyalty. His reign naturally didn’t last: several families declared war on Masseria, which broke up the crime dynasty and led to his execution. I loosely based my novel’s Italian-American gang, the D Street Outfit, on Masseria’s New York operation.
And of course, no list of Prohibition-era gangsters would be complete without Al Capone. Though my novel’s young gangster-on-the-rise, Harrison Gunn, is actually nothing like media-hungry Capone was, I couldn’t believe that Capone was at the height of his power and became a Chicago crime boss in his mid-twenties. So I made Gunn younger (originally he was going to be middle-aged), to help rev up the tension between him and my female protagonist, Joan.
Lee Kelly has wanted to write since she was old enough to hold a pencil, but it wasn’t until she began studying for the California Bar Exam that she conveniently started putting pen to paper. An entertainment lawyer by trade, Lee has practiced law in Los Angeles and New York. She lives with her husband and children in Millburn, New Jersey, though after a decade in Manhattan, she can’t help but still call herself a New Yorker. She is the author of A Criminal Magic and City of Savages. Visit her at http://www.NewWriteCity.com.