If It’s Not A Rant, It’s A Rave: Review of Devils & Thieves by Jennifer Rush

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Title:
Devils & Thieves

Author: Jennifer Rush
Publication date: October 3, 2017
Publisher:  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Synopsis

Power corrupts. Magic kills.

Eighteen-year-old Jemmie Carmichael is surrounded by magic in the quiet town of Hawthorne, New York. In her world, magic users are called “kindled,” and Jemmie would count herself among them if only she could cast a simple spell without completely falling apart. It doesn’t help that she was also recently snubbed by Crowe—the dangerous and enigmatic leader of Hawthorne’s kindled motorcycle gang, the Devils’ League.

When the entire kindled community rolls into Hawthorne for an annual festival, a rumor spreads that someone is practicing forbidden magic. Then people start to go missing. With threats closing in from every side, no one can be trusted. Jemmie and Crowe will have to put aside their tumultuous history to find their loved ones, and the only thing that might save them is the very flaw that keeps Jemmie from fully harnessing her magic. For all her years of feeling useless, Jemmie may just be the most powerful kindled of all. 

LINKS:   Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble |  The Book Depository


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I am so glad I picked up this entertaining book during October. Similar to this Halloween-ish month, this novel is filled with magic, mayhem, and mystery. In Devils & Thieves, every magic user, aka “kindled,” has their own unique power that they inherit from family members, who are linked to local motorcycle clubs. I really felt like this book was a perfect mashup of Charmed and Katie McGarry’s Thunder Road series. The story plot is very straightforward, but it’s the main character’s (Jemmie Carmichael) attempt to figure out her powers and her love life that sucked me in.

One of my favorite characteristics about Jemmie is her unique ability to smell and see power. As a very wallflower-ish type, Jemmie tends to underrate her magical abilities with fear and discouragement. She is very different among the other kindled population, and I can understand why she wants to hide something that she thinks is a flaw in her magic from other people. Jemmie is often predictable in her ways, but I can see her maturing and adapting to new scenarios in the next book, especially after that odd and creepy ending.

In the romance realm of  Devils & Thieves, there’s a strong sense of a love triangle. And what I like about both Jemmie’s “love” interests are that even though they are protective over her as she is over them, they always encourage Jemmie to appreciate who she is and her magical abilities. But with any type of love triangle, I picked my OTP, because deep down I knew who made Jemmie’s heart flutter uncontrollably. I have one word to encourage you to read this novel, and that is “Crowe.” *SWOONS*

Overall, I liked the magic and conflicting havoc that litters the pages of this novel. Devils & Thieves is a great start to a series that I foresee a lot of growth in the characters, more swoony romance scenes, and some more understanding of the kindled magic users. I am a big fan of one of the male leading characters, *cough* Crowe, and I cannot wait to see what other sexy pandemonium he gets into. If you want your reading month of October to be filled with spells and swoons, I highly recommend that you add Devils & Thieves to your TBR. 

4 star rating

My rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

NOTE: Thank you to NOVL for providing me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own. Please note that all graphics and photographs were created by me. All quotes are from the an advanced reader’s edition of the novel and are subject to change upon publication.

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If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

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Title: 
The Hazel Wood
By: 
Melissa Albert

Publisher: Flatiron Books
Release Date: 
January 30, 2018
Genres: 
Fiction, Fantasy

About The Hazel Wood:

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

LINKS:   Goodreads | Amazon Barnes & Noble |  The Book Depository


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You guys, The Hazel Wood is one of the most unexpected, creepy, and haunting reads I have read in a long time. Honestly, I have been pondering this review for several days, and I still do not how to put into words how this book shook me in the best possible ways. My brain feels like I am watching The Matrix; my thoughts are constantly turning, piecing together, and figuring out what I just read. I am mind-boggled: how did this book take me from Point A to Point B, and why is my mouth hanging open with bewilderment and awe? This review may be all over the place, but overall, I want you to know that The Hazel Wood will rattle your thoughts and shatter any expectations you may have for young adult literature.

In regards to pacing, The Hazel Wood pieces together events in chronological order but some scenes often reflect back to missing puzzle pieces and past events that have been overshadowed. The book takes place in modern-day society and interweaves in twisted fairy tale stories. And these fairy tale morsels are dark, staggering, and oftentimes disturbing. You thought the Grimm Brother’s Fairy Tales were wicked and alarming? HA, just wait until you are introduced to the Tales from the Hinterland.

Yes, The Hazel Wood mainly focuses on a book, specifically a collection of dark fairy tales that are very important to the main character’s (Alice’s) past. Throughout the book, we are weaved through Alice’s teenage life as she begins to understand her family’s history and the  Tales from the Hinterland, which was written by her grandmother. Once some of the tales are told and unraveled to us, the reader is cornered into a left behind world filled with a clockwork of eeriness and dispirited characters.

I do not want to give too much away about Alice (no spoilers here!), but she is a very well-developed character. The author, Melissa Albert, put a lot of history and fearlessness into this character. Alice is an introvert—she’s a listener, she’s a thinker, and her best trait is her determination. Her mother is the most important person in her life, and throughout the novel their relationship often parallels the friendship, love, and protectiveness found between Lorelai and Rory in the Gilmore Girls. But from the very beginning the reader will pick up on the oddness that filters into their lives and the bad luck that is constantly plaguing them. 

Also, on another note, this novel breaks the mold of  tropes often highlighted in young adult literature. I love romantic tropes. I love when friends turn into lovers. I am a sucker for hate-to-love relationships. But you guys, this book steers away from any tropes, and I did not know what to do with this book’s unpredictability. Right when I thought some type of “romantic” relationship was forming…NOPE, insert shocking scene here…Oh, wait! Yay something is going to happen…and then NOPE, CASSIE, YOU’RE WRONG! As I pointed out from the very beginning, The Hazel Wood is going to shake you. This book will have your head spinning, your nails biting into your palms, and your mouth slack-jawed.

The Hazel Wood is a story of dark monsters, family secrets, and unsettling twists. My nightmares would have nightmares about the fairy tales and characters that haunt this book. If you are sucker for mysteries and love teetering on the edge of shocking theories, you NEED to pick this book up. I think every reader will take away something different from this novel. Me, I wanted to focus on potential romances and a happily ever after ending. Instead I had the rug pulled out from under me and left blinking uncontrollably from scene to scene. In the end, The Hazel Wood is a thrill ride of shock, horror, and endless courage.

TREAT YO SHELF on JANUARY 30, 2018


4 star rating

NOTE: Thank you to my friend, Angie, for allowing me to borrow her advanced reader’s copy. I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review. I reviewed this book at my own discretion. All statements and opinions are my own.

 

If It’s Not A Rant, It’s A Rave: Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

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Title:
Moxie
Author: Jennifer Mathieu

Publication date: September 19, 2017
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press/ Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Feminism

About the Book:

An unlikely teenager starts a feminist revolution at a small-town Texan high school in the new novel from Jennifer Matheiu, author of The Truth About Alice.

MOXIE GIRLS FIGHT BACK!

Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with a school administration at her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment, and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mom was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

Moxie is a book about high school life that will make you wanna riot!

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble |  The Book Depository


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WHOA! You guys, Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu is so powerful, straight-forward, and the type of book we need in this fist-gripping-teeth-clenching year that we call 2017. I’m not going to lie, I came into this book for a feminist read AND I left the book invigorated, energized, and ready to take on the world. 

Moxie‘s main character, Viv is relate-able on so many levels. She is a good student that never falls out of line and always does what she is told. But she also has a knack for being an alert listener and keen observer. I love that she turns to music for escapism and courage. I love that her mom is her role model. And what I really liked about Viv’s character is how determined and courageous she is, even if she is cautious and over-analyzes all her choices and decisions (because who does not do this?). Viv is stealthy, determined, fiesty, funny, and overall, a kickass character.

And I cannot forget about one of my favorite Moxie characters, Seth. As Viv’s crush and a guy that treats her with respect, I was silently shouting in my head, “this is what a male feminist looks like.” His actions and words never fail to positively impact the book and Viv, herself. Seth is still trying to understand the world around him and he knows he has a lot to learn when it comes to feminism. I love that he opens up his mind and world to question authority, male privilege, and social viewpoints. Seth is not perfect but he never fails to take the steps to understand social injustices–he observes, questions, and reacts. 

In Moxie, Mathieu’s words not only heighten the awareness of sexism, sexual harassment, and rape in a high school setting, but she also provides a outlet for her female characters to  speak out about injustice, take charge, and push against those who downplay equality and social rights. Moxie is more than a “feminist” book. It is a story about maturity, making hard choices, and discovering who you and how you would act in certain situations. This book is equal parts funny and inspiring and awesome and empowering. It is definitely a book that you do not want to pass over this year (or ever).

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My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

NOTE: Thank you to Netgalley and Macmillan for providing me an e-galley/e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.

If It’s Not A Rant, It’s a Rave: ROAR by Cora Carmack

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Title: 
ROAR

Author: Cora Carmack
Publication date: June 13, 2017
Publisher:  Scholastic
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy,Romance

About the Book:

In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage. 

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough. 

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble|  The Book Depository


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***Warning: This review contains some spoilers. ***

Wow, ROAR is the high fantasy young adult book that I did not know I had been yearning for. Everything from the elaborately described world and clothing all the way to the unique Stormling magic had me hooked. And OHMYGOD, do not get me started on the well-developed and fantastically written characters. With every page scorched with complex characters and enthralling scenes, I highly recommend that you pick up ROAR and prepare yourself for an action-packed journey that follows a heroine worthy of all the praise.

In regards to Roar, our main character, she is not set up as the literary snowflake: a character that is special and is destined to save the world. Honestly, she is a princess that knows she is supposed to hold an innate, ancestral power. She knows that she is supposed to have the gift of a Stormling, allowing her the ability to protect her kingdom from the wreck of storms, but for some reason her powers have remained dormant. Roar is often depicted as innocent and inexperienced, but she is also feisty and headstrong. I really liked that she initiates and holds strong to the idea that she must work hard and go beyond the palace walls to understand her powers (or lack of). Instead of waiting for her powers to come to her, she goes out to find them. YES *air fist pump*!!! 

In reference to the romance aspect of ROAR, I was deeply in swoons and sighs. I really enjoyed the chemistry between Roar and Locke, a character who has the gift of Stormling magic but was not born with it. Locke gives Roar hope that she can awaken her innate power, but more importantly I like that he challenges her mentally, physically, emotionally, and magically. One of my favorite parts of watching their friendship grow is that they are both stubborn characters, so of course, I fell in love with their banter and arguments. And as this fantastical story unfolds, their friendship also starts to twist into something new.

At the beginning of ROAR, I thought there was a love triangle brewing, but thankfully that theory is washed away. But I still wasn’t 100% on board for a feisty friendship to twist into a romantic relationship. Do not get me wrong, I love stories that encompass romance and hot, swoony scenes, but once these two characters, Roar and Locke, become something more than friends, their chemistry became irritatingly fluffy. Locke’s ability to challenge Roar slowly fades and I honestly was not a fan that once the kissing scenes start, he begins to coddle and become overly protective of Roar. UGH, no! Yes, she is often portrayed as vulnerable, but come on Locke, Roar is not defenseless;  she is bold and fierce–there is lightning in her heart and she is ready to strike.

Not only are the main characters well-developed, but the side characters are also unforgettable. Roar is surrounded by all walks of life. And on her journey of discovery, she is given the chance to befriend a group of unique and crazy bandits: a witch, a trickster, and a stealthy spy, to name a few. These individuals challenge Roar and give her an outlet to explore the world outside the palace walls with a new lens. 

Another raving part that I liked about ROAR is the ending. Usually fantasy books end in a gut-wrenching cliffhanger; instead, ROAR ends with hope and a swift glance at an upcoming battle. AHHH!!! So if you are ready for one of the most well-thought out series littered with secrets waiting to be uncovered,  a book with the strongest storms to battle along with many twists and turns, I highly recommend ROAR as your next read. Prepare yourself for an addicting read of perilous magic, steamy kissing scenes, and a group of outlaws worth cheering for. 


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Cora Carmack is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. Since she was a teenager, her favorite genre to read has been fantasy, and now she’s thrilled to bring her usual compelling characters and swoon-worthy romance into worlds of magic and intrigue with her debut YA fantasy, Roar. Her previous adult romance titles include the Losing It, Rusk University, and Muse series. Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages around the world. Cora splits her time between Austin, TX and New York City, and on any given day you might find her typing away at her computer, flying to various cities around the world, or just watching Netflix with her kitty Katniss. But she can always be found on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and her website www.coracarmack.com.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest Goodreads

NOTE: Thank you to Netgalley and TOR Teen for providing me an e-galley/e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.

Book Review: Lucky In Love by Kasie West

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Title:
Lucky in Love
Author: Kasie West
Publication date: July 25, 2017
Publisher:  Scholastic
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

ABOUT THE BOOK:

In this new contemporary from YA star Kasie West, a girl who wins the lottery learns that money can cause more problems than it solves, especially when love comes into the picture.

Maddie doesn’t believe in luck. She’s all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment —

She wins!

In a flash, Maddie’s life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she’s talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun… until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now, Maddie isn’t sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn’t seem aware of Maddie’s big news. And, for some reason, she doesn’t want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

With tons of humor and heart, Kasie West delivers a million-dollar tale of winning, losing, and falling in love.

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N |  The Book Depository


Lucky in Love

You guys, I’m so upset that this book did not work for me. Kasie West’s books are always a hit or a miss for me, and Lucky In Love turned out to be my least favorite book of hers. I hate admitting that, but the story did not work for me. I could not connect with Maddie, the main character, at all. Her voice was too “internal” and self-involved for me and I got so irritated with all her irresponsible choices when it came to her lottery winnings. In the end, I could not deal with how naive she was. 

I did, however, really liked the friendship that develops between Maddie and her co-worker Seth. I loved how nerdy, awkward, and cute they act in each other’s presence. Their adorable interactions always lifted my spirits during my reading of Lucky In Love, which made the book tolerable for me.

Another rave for me is the ADORABLE cover. I love how vibrant, cute, and swoony it is. Even if the story did not win me over, this cover definitely did. I wish I could have loved this book, but in the end, Lucky In Love was not a winner for me. But I really do hope it works for other contemporary readers–maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood to read it at the time.

1 star rating

My Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars

NOTE:  I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review. I received this physical ARC copy through a blogger exchange. I reviewed the book at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: Hunted by Meagan Spooner

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Title: Hunted 
Author: Meagan Spooner
Publication date: March 14, 2017
Publisher:  HarperTeen
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling
Format: Physical ARC

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N |  The Book Depository


My Rants and Raves of hunted

Hunted is the fairy tale that I want to read to my future children. It is the retelling that I want every girl to read, and realize, “when the world pushes me down, I can lift myself up.” The author, Meagan Spooner, has molded a beloved classic story, “Beauty and the Beast,” and has shaped it into a book where Beauty (Yeva), a beloved sister and a devoted daughter, sets out into a wilderness where only beasts are guaranteed to survive. And as the heroine of the tale, Beauty is a fighter: a fierce, fearless, and determined woman with a good heart and a quick reflex to persevere. 

One of my favorite aspects of Hunted is the pacing. The story does not move too quickly, with one action domino-ing into a quick reaction. But the story also does not linger with the slow steady steps to a happily ever after ending. Instead, Spooner’s “Beauty and the Beast” retelling, purposely chimes like a steady hand playing Claude Debussy’s “Clair De Lune.” Spooner’s words hit all the high and low notes at the precise duration and location. The book reads like a sheet of music with a steady and heart-lifting tone. 

I also enjoyed how Hunted bridges the reader between reality and the enchanted unknown. As snow hides and blankets the pawed-footprints of a predator, the wind whispers the sad melodies of cursed beasts and creatures who yearn to be saved even if the risk of death lingers in between the whirlwind of snowflakes. Spooner creates a fantastical world that is both pleasing and awe-inspiring to the senses. The world of Hunted smells of musky fur, tastes of crisp air, and crunches with the sound of dried pine needles, all while the sharp bitter frost aches your bones. And although the Beast’s forest is wild and his castle is crumbling, I loved that it is Beauty’s presence that tames his surroundings into a eyeopening world of loyalty, understanding, and compassion.  

This novel will make you believe that magic and fairy stories are real. Hunted is assorted with a dynamic cast of characters; characters who are vulnerable, feral, bewitched, haunted, or even tricksters. The world-building is lush and the characters are so sharp and primitive. I loved every aspect of Hunted, and I cannot wait for readers and dreamers to experience it. 

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NOTE:  I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review. I received this physical ARC copy through a blogger exchange. I reviewed it at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

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Title: The Bone Witch
Author: Rin Chupeco
Publication date: March 7, 2017
Publisher:  Sourcebooks Fire
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Format: e-ARC/Netgalley

ABOUT THE BOOK:

The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer.

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.

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N |  The Book Depository


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This is a story about a girl named Tea.
No, not like the drink, but “Tey-uh,” instead.
She loved her brother, Fox, so much, that she raised him from the dead.

Now necromancy is not a praised trick.
Instead of being in awe of her magic,
Her village called her a bone witch.

Though her witchcraft could help heal sickness and hearts,
A bone witch was feared most of all,
Because no one understands their darkness and their art.

Tea is forced to leave her village, family, and friends.
She is taken under the wing of another bone witch,
Where she starts a new life with a darkening power to spin.

Summoning the dead can be seductive and dark.
Tea is told by strangers that she is soulless from the start.
But our heroine is fierce and remains protective over her heart.   

With the rare gift of death magic, Tea can control others’ minds.
She has the ability to conquer monsters, dragons, the Faceless, and spies. 
But her gift comes with limitations, and love and trust is not easy to find. 

Although this story is very slow in pace,
It is the love interests that might keep you vested and make your heart race.
Or maybe you will fall for the boy who loves to dance and dress in lace.   

Tea’s story is filled with twists and turns; a bewitching tale so deep.
She’s infatuated with a Prince, so prepare yourself for a romance that slowly reaps. 

And I promise you this, when you begin The Bone Witch, you will find no time to sleep. 

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NOTE: Thank you to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire  for providing me an e-galley/e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.