Book Review: A Constellation of Roses by Miranda Asebedo

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Title:
A Constellation of Roses
Author:  Miranda Asebedo
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: November 5, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Magic Realism
Rating: ★★★

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Synopsis:

Ever since her mother walked out, Trix McCabe has been determined to make it on her own. And with her near-magical gift for pulling valuables off unsuspecting strangers, Trix is confident she has what it takes to survive. Until she’s caught and given a choice: jail time, or go live with her long-lost family in the tiny town of Rocksaw, Kansas.

Trix doesn’t plan to stick around Rocksaw long, but there’s something special about her McCabe relatives that she is drawn to. Her aunt, Mia, bakes pies that seem to cure all ills. Her cousin, Ember, can tell a person’s deepest secret with the touch of a hand. And Trix’s great-aunt takes one look at Trix’s palm and tells her that if she doesn’t put down roots somewhere, she won’t have a future anywhere.

Before long, Trix feels like she might finally belong with this special group of women in this tiny town in Kansas. But when her past comes back to haunt her, she’ll have to decide whether to take a chance on this new life . . . or keep running from the one she’s always known.

With lovable and flawed characters, an evocative setting, and friendships to treasure, A Constellation of Roses is the perfect companion to Miranda Asebedo’s debut novel The Deepest Roots.


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A Constellation of Roses is a well-developed contemporary novel that hints at magic, but provides a serious outlet and tone for realistic, young adult situations. After her mom fails to come back home one day, Trix takes the matter of survival into her own hands. Trix relies heavily on her gift as a undetected thief to take what she needs to survive. Without giving too many spoilers, Trix’s antics are not unseen and she is sent to live with some unknown relatives. 

Now surrounded by three generations of women who also have their own talents and gifts, Trix puts up a hard shell that’s not easy to crack. As Trix adapts to her new surroundings, makes new friends, and slowly starts trusting her newfound family, she begins to explore the truth about herself and her familial past. More importantly, she begins defining and understanding what family truly means. And as the story unfolds, Trix also begins acknowledging that everyone, no matter how happy they seem on the outside, are also going through their own personal struggles. 

Filled with emotionally-curing pie, a dash of magic, and teenage antics, A Constellation of Roses will have you swimming in emotions of heartache, laughter, tears, and swoons. This novel explores some very heavy issues, which makes these characters so realistic and so easy to connect and fall in love with.

Some favorite quotes:

“Fortune-telling isn’t a science. It’s an art. And sometimes art is messy.”

“Scars tell a story, even when we don’t want them to.”

“You know, there’s an old story that back when they founded Rocksaw, the McCabes were one of the first families here. And their daughters were so beautiful and so strangely gifted that people in Buffalo Hills thought they were witches and wanted to run them out of the area.”

“Love is promising Persian kittens. Love is American slang dictionaries for Scrabble. Love is Coke-and-cherry slushes as midnight. Love is watching the lights come on in town from law chairs on Cedar Mountain. Love is lemon-meringue pie on porch steps.”

“Yes, I have gotten what I always wanted. My deepest secrets. Not a perfect family, after all. But a constellation of women, connected by pie and fortunes and roses. And love.”

 

Blogger Note: Thank you so much to Wunderkind PR for sending me a free copy of A Cosntellation of Roses to read and review. 

Blog Tour: Songs from the Deep by Kelly Powell

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Title: Songs from the Deep
Author:  Kelly Powell
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release Date: November 5, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical, Mystery
Rating: ★★★★

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Synopsis:

A girl searches for a killer on an island where deadly sirens lurk just beneath the waves in this gripping, atmospheric debut novel.

The sea holds many secrets.

Moira Alexander has always been fascinated by the deadly sirens who lurk along the shores of her island town. Even though their haunting songs can lure anyone to a swift and watery grave, she gets as close to them as she can, playing her violin on the edge of the enchanted sea. When a young boy is found dead on the beach, the islanders assume that he’s one of the sirens’ victims. Moira isn’t so sure.

Certain that someone has framed the boy’s death as a siren attack, Moira convinces her childhood friend, the lighthouse keeper Jude Osric, to help her find the real killer, rekindling their friendship in the process. With townspeople itching to hunt the sirens down, and their own secrets threatening to unravel their fragile new alliance, Moira and Jude must race against time to stop the killer before it’s too late—for humans and sirens alike.


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Songs from the Deep reads like the steady lyrics of a richly melodic song. Set on an island dependent on tourism and the sea, this novel delves into the a story of murder, mystery, friendship, and deadly sirens.

I found Songs from the Deep to be a constant page-turner. Kelly Powell’s lyrical writing and vivid scenic descriptions, create a very atmospheric setting that makes you want to curl up on the couch and drink warm tea as you read the story’s mysteries unfold. 

I enjoyed reading the reconnection of an old friendship and the subtle love story that unfolds throughout the pages, along with the thrill of the two main characters, Moira and Jude, solving the murders of local islanders. Moira and Jude are the perfect sleuthing pair; they balance out each other’s flaws and secrets, while also using their own ingrained abilities to help save the sirens from being wrongfully accused and then hunted.

As an entrancing novel of unsolved mysteries, dangerous sirens, and unraveled secrets, Songs from the Deep is must read. Along with the small-town lives of the islanders, the steady swooshing of the waves, the enticing song of the sirens, and the scent of the sea, you will easily be bewitched in the dark ambiance of this novel.

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Moira’s mom is a baker, and throughout small parts of the story, I kept craving yummy pastries. So as a great pairing with Songs from the Deep, I bought some scone mix, and decided to make some “Save the Sirens Scones.”

Because I did not bake these scones from scratch, I made sure to follow the directions on the scone mix bag. Along with the scone mix, I only needed butter and milk. After smashing the butter into the mix and stirring in the milk to make a clumpy dough, I formed the dough into a ball and then spread it out on a greased baking pan. I used a spatula to deeply score the dough into wedges. After baking for 17 minutes at 350 degrees F, I let the scones cool. 

If you decide to bake your own scones, be sure to you make yourself a cup of your favorite tea to pair with the pastry. With a scone and tea at hand, you will create the perfect reading setting to enjoy the mysterious and very atmospheric novel, Songs from the Deep.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

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About the author:

Kelly Powell has a bachelor’s degree in history and book and media studies from the University of Toronto. She currently lives in Ontario. Songs from the Deep is her debut novel.

 

 

 

 

 

Blogger Note: Thank you so much to Simon Teen/ Simon & Schuster for inviting me to host a “Raves & Craves” post on this blog tour and sending me a free copy of Songs from the Sea to read and review. 

Witch Book Wednesday: How to Hang A Witch by Adriana Mather

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Welcome to my last “Witch Book Wednesday” post. Every Wednesday, during the month of October, I suggested an atmospheric and witchy book you should definitely add to your October TBR. Today I am highlighting How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather.


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Title:
How to Hang a Witch
Author: Adriana Mather
Release Date: July 26, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy

Synopsis

The more things change in Salem, the more they stay the same.

Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous Witch Trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam is not exactly welcomed with open arms. She is a descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those Trials—and almost 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 wasn’t enough, Sam finds herself face to face with a real, live (well, technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff.

Soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries-old curse affecting everyone with ties to the Trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and work with The Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first alleged witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it’s Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself.

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If you are in the mood for the perfect Halloween or Autumn read, I highly recommend adding How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather to your TBR list. As I was reading, I kept picturing the meshing of my two favorite movies: Hocus Pocus and Mean Girls.  This witchy book is the perfect blend of Salem, Massachusetts’ history, modern-day teenage gossip, family curses, and creepy apparitions.

As a mood reader, I enjoyed the dark and spooky ambiance of How to Hang a Witch. Each chapter was like stepping onto the cobble-stoned roads of the 17th century, hearing the creaks of old houses, and collecting old musty books filled with family secrets and town history. I loved the historical atmosphere that Mather creates for her main character, Samantha, to discover and uncover. Even more, I liked Sam as a character, because she portrays a character that is feisty, determined, and caring.

Overall, I really enjoyed How to Hang a Witch and its “out of nowhere” surprising end. I think it’s a great book that connects the crazed witchhunts of the 17th century with the crazed persecutions that take place in our modern-day society. Additionally, I also loved the ghostly and witch figures sprinkled throughout the pages. Their supernatural and magical presence brought a very eerie feel to the pages and made the book a constant page-turner for me.

Witch Book Wednesday: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

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Welcome to a new “Witch Book Wednesday” post. Every Wednesday, during the month of October, I am going suggest an atmospheric and witchy book you should definitely add to your October TBR.


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Title: 
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
Author: Katherine Howe
Release Date: June 9, 2009
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Mystery, Fantasy

Synopsis

A spellbinding, beautifully written novel that moves between contemporary times and one of the most fascinating and disturbing periods in American history–the Salem witch trials.

Harvard graduate student Connie Goodwin needs to spend her summer doing research for her doctoral dissertation. But when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie’s grandmother’s abandoned home near Salem, she can’t refuse. As she is drawn deeper into the mysteries of the family house, Connie discovers an ancient key within a seventeenth-century Bible. The key contains a yellowing fragment of parchment with a name written upon it: Deliverance Dane. This discovery launches Connie on a quest–to find out who this woman was and to unearth a rare artifact of singular power: a physick book, its pages a secret repository for lost knowledge.

As the pieces of Deliverance’s harrowing story begin to fall into place, Connie is haunted by visions of the long-ago witch trials, and she begins to fear that she is more tied to Salem’s dark past then she could have ever imagined.

Written with astonishing conviction and grace, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane travels seamlessly between the witch trials of the 1690s and a modern woman’s story of mystery, intrigue, and revelation.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & NobleThe Book Depository 

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The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane is the perfect witchy book to read in the month of October. I am so glad that the booksellers at Joseph Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati are such great book-pushers. When someone tells you that a book is like the adult version of Hocus Pocus, how can you say no to purchasing it? YOU CAN’T!

One of my favorite elements of this book is the unraveling of mystery spread through the pages. The author, Katherine Howe, provides a great story plot that allows her characters, especially the main character Connie, to explore their own identities through their ancestors, which helps intertwine new and old friendships.

I also enjoyed the alternating time periods in this book, which explored the Salem Witch Trials and paralleled that time with Connie’s role in the 1990s, who went about collecting information/research from the 1690s for her PhD history degree. I was so enthralled by the idea of linking the past with the present, which helps Connie to discover old family secrets that affect her current situation.

Along with the mystery and historical background, Howe incorporates fantastical elements and a slow burn love story into the mix. I would highly recommend this book to readers who love history, growing friendships, the Salem Witch Trials, romance, and a thrilling mystery.

Witch Book Wednesday: Mooncakes

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Welcome to a new “Witch Book Wednesday” post. Every Wednesday, during the month of October, I am going suggest an atmospheric and witchy book you should definitely add to your October TBR.

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Title:
Mooncakes
Author: Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu
Release Date: October 15, 2019
Genres: Graphic Novel, Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT

Synopsis

A story of love and demons, family and witchcraft.

Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town.

One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home.

Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.

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Well, I hope you are ready for the most adorable, witchy graphic novel that has ever existed. Mooncakes wowed me from the beginning to the very end. I adored this fantasy story about friendship, family, love, and self-acceptance. The pages are filled with vibrant colors, which sketches a well-developed and mysterious plot, spooky and vivacious scenes, and most importantly, the artwork allows the characters to fully come to life throughout the pages.

In addition to a world of witches, werewolves, and demons, Mooncakes depicts a cozy little bookshop in a small New England town. Melded into this setting, the graphic novel provides intriguing (and tragic) backstories for both the two main characters, Nova and Tam. As the characters pursue a spell to battle dark forces, demons, and their very own internal struggles, Nova and Tam are also exploring their past friendship and new relationship. With the most adorable female/non-binary love story I have ever read, this fantasy graphic novel is swoony with a dash of eeriness. It is definitely the perfect graphic novel to pick up during the season of autumn.

Blog Tour: Top 5 Reasons to Treat Yo Shelf to Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo

Into the Crooked Place Blog Tour (1)Welcome to my Blog Tour stop for Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo. Today I am going to share with you the Top 5 Reasons you should TREAT YO SHELF to this amazing book.

INTO_THE_CROOKED_PLACE6Title: Into the Crooked Place 
Author: Alexandra Christo
Pub. Date: October 8, 2019
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy 

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon B&N,  TBD

 SYNOPSIS:

Into the Crooked Place begins a gritty two-book YA fantasy series from Alexandra Christo, the author of To Kill a Kingdom.

The streets of Creije are for the deadly and the dreamers, and four crooks in particular know just how much magic they need up their sleeve to survive.

Tavia, a busker ready to pack up her dark-magic wares and turn her back on Creije for good. She’ll do anything to put her crimes behind her.

Wesley, the closest thing Creije has to a gangster. After growing up on streets hungry enough to swallow the weak whole, he won’t stop until he has brought the entire realm to kneel before him.

Karam, a warrior who spends her days watching over the city’s worst criminals and her nights in the fighting rings, making a deadly name for herself.

And Saxony, a resistance fighter hiding from the very people who destroyed her family, and willing to do whatever it takes to get her revenge.

Everything in their lives is going to plan, until Tavia makes a crucial mistake: she delivers a vial of dark magic—a weapon she didn’t know she had—to someone she cares about, sparking the greatest conflict in decades. Now these four magical outsiders must come together to save their home and the world, before it’s too late. But with enemies at all sides, they can trust nobody. Least of all each other. 


into the crooked place TOP 5

TOP 5 REASONS

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Alexandra Christo
About the author:

Alexandra Christo decided to write books when she was four and her teacher told her she couldn’t be a fairy. When she’s not busy making up stories, she can be found organising food crawls over London and binge-watching Korean dramas.

Alexandra has a BA in Creative Writing and currently lives in England with an abundance of cacti (because they’re the only plants she can keep alive).

 

 

NOTE: Thank you so much to Fierce Reads for inviting me as a host on this blog tour and for providing me a free advance reader’s copy to review. 

 

Witch Book Wednesday: The Witch of Black Bird Pond

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Welcome to a new “Witch Book Wednesday” post. Every Wednesday, during the month of October, I am going suggest an atmospheric and witchy book you should definitely add to your October TBR.

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Title: 
The Witch of Blackbird Pond
Author: Elizabeth George Speare
Genres: Young Adult, Historical

Synopsis

Sixteen-year-old Kit Tyler is marked by suspicion and disapproval from the moment she arrives on the unfamiliar shores of colonial Connecticut in 1687. Alone and desperate, she has been forced to leave her beloved home on the island of Barbados and join a family she has never met.

Torn between her quest for belonging and her desire to be true to herself, Kit struggles to survive in a hostile place. Just when it seems she must give up, she finds a kindred spirit. But Kit’s friendship with Hannah Tupper, believed by the colonists to be a witch, proves more taboo than she could have imagined and ultimately forces Kit to choose between her heart and her duty.

Elizabeth George Speare won the 1959 Newbery Medal for this portrayal of a heroine whom readers will admire for her unwavering sense of truth as well as her infinite capacity to love.

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I remember reading The Witch of Blackbird Pond in grade school and adoring it. During my recent reread, I was just as entranced as I was back then. Filled with American history truths and the hysteria of witchcraft, The Witch of Blackbird Pond provides a very realistic account of women’s placement in Puritan society. It was fascinating to see how men inculcated the ideas of how women should act, dress, think, worship, and behave. 

In regards to the “witchyness” of the book, Elizabeth George Speare positions her main character as an outsider. Kit, an adolescent teen, moves from the warm and beautiful Barbados into an American colony where politics and religion are fiercely stamped into everyday life.  Once in Connecticut, Kit’s world is turned upside down; she is even criticized for the being able to swim and read. But Kit never lets her “oddness” falter her ability to adapt to the new society, learning every chore she can to survive the harsh living conditions of the new world. 

My favorite part of this book is the ending. I don’t want to give too much away, but there is a slow burn romance that fills the pages of The Witch of Blackbird Pond, and when that flame ignites, I was so ready to watch that ship sail.