Serafina & The Twisted Staff

It’s been a long time, book lovers! Life has gotten pretty crazy lately what with family, job, and all the goings on of summer vacation. I’ve been lax in my reading schedule (sorry about that) and this blog has suffered for it. But I am trying! And just this week I finished Serafina & The Twisted Staff.

51z482Xyp0L._SX338_BO1,204,203,200_Not too long ago, I wrote about the first book in this series. I wasn’t blown away by it but it was still an intriguing read. Beatty’s second installment is no different. It was very well written and I was excited to read about Serafina’s next adventure but some of the plot was quite predictable and it didn’t hold the same magic for me as the first one did. Still, it’s worth the read.

In Serafina & The Twisted Staff, we pick back up with Serafina and Braeden after they’ve defeated the man with the black cloak. But now there’s a new danger at Biltmore and it’s affecting the animals. Serafina and Braeden work together to solve the mystery of what could be harming the animals of the forest as well as those on Biltmore’s estate. But in the process, Serafina is torn from Braeden’s side and begins to question where she belongs and who is her true friend. Robert Beatty is a brilliant writer who has created a fantasy that every reader will enjoy. While the second book is not quite as powerful as the first, I was still sucked into the story and curious to find out how it would end. I’m very much looking forward to picking up the next book in this series.

Moxie

These days, when you see the word “feminist” thrown around, it puts a bad taste in your mouth. I won’t get into a debate about the connotations surrounding that word, but it’s hard to deny that women are taking a stand these days.

IMG-2310Moxie was the perfect novel to read. It took my a while as I hit a reading lull in the middle of it but that didn’t keep me from loving this young adult novel. Moxie follows Vivian, a teenage girl living in Texas where the football team rules the school, the city, even the county. And I mean literally. The boys are untouchable. Again and again, they are sexist and harassing the girls of the school. But Vivian’s had enough. So Moxie is born.

This thrilling tale of a one girl revolution that eventually becomes an all girl revolution is breath-taking. To see one teenager take it upon herself to do something about the problems in her school without recognition or assistance. Vivian puts herself out there in a way she never has before. Not only hoping to change things for the rest of her time at the school but for all the girls after her as well. If you’re looking for a book about strong women coming together to stand up for one another, this is definitely the book for you.

Carry On

I love books that dabble with magic. Seriously, you wanna be my friend? Suggest a good fantasy novel to read (bonus points if it’s a series). So obviously, I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. Ask my husband. I made him watch the movies and he kept asking questions. All I could tell him is he needs to read the books. (He still hasn’t read them.) So I was excited to pick up Carry On. I’d only read one other Rainbow Rowell book and was in love with her writing style.

IMG-2291Simon Snow has been raised in the Normal world most of his life, hopping from orphanage to foster home, never really knowing where he belongs. Until The Mage comes for him and opens his eyes to the World of Mages and the magic within. But most of the time Simon can’t get a spell out correctly and the rest of the time he’s sitting something on fire. Now it’s his final year at Watford, the wizarding school, and he must face a multitude of troubles, including a magic-eating monster that is terrorizing this place he has come to call “home”.

Sounds very similar to a certain other magic-wielding orphan, right? That’s what I thought too when I started Carry On. It put a bad taste in my mouth because it seemed like Rowell was trying to rewrite the Harry Potter story. While there are some strong similarities between the two, Carry On definitely stands apart. With some intricacies not shown in Harry Potter and an ending that left me unsettled, I was sucked in. Rainbow Rowell is a phenomenal author. Once again I was blown away by her story-weaving abilities. In the end, I absolutely loved reading Simon Snow’s story. If I had to complain about anything, it’s that I wish she had turned it into a series if only so I could stay in that world a little longer.

Serafina and the Black Cloak

Do you ever have those books that you put off reading because they’ve been hyped so much? How could a book be that good, right? I have a few of those and Serafina and the Black Cloak is one of them. I put off reading it and put off reading it but it’s been staring at me lately so I finally decided to pick it up.

51Cpf+z1U+L._SX336_BO1,204,203,200_Serafina is a unique little girl living in the basement of Biltmore Estate as the C.R.C. (Chief Rat Catcher). Her pa helps keep the electricity running as their handyman. Together they’ve made a quiet, private life together. Until children on the estate start disappearing. Risking everything, Serafina allies herself with the young nephew of Biltmore’s owners. They race to uncover who the Man in the Black Cloak is before all the children disappear. In doing so, Serafina also delves into the mystery of her past and who she is.

 

Every person was a hero in his own mind, fighting for what he thought was right, or just fighting to survive another day, but no one thought they were evil.

Robert Beatty has created an enchanting tale filled with suspense and beauty with every page. I found myself wanting to finish this one quickly. Not because I wanted to be over and done with it but because I couldn’t wait to see how he ended the story. Serafina and the Black Cloak is dripping with magic and mystery. Definitely a book everyone can enjoy. I can’t wait to pick up the sequel!

A Monster Calls

“Stories are the wildest things of all, the monster rumbled. Stories chase and bite and hunt.”

Nightmares are living, breathing things. But can they help you through tragedy?

IMG-2103A Monster Calls may be one of my favorite and least favorite books all at the same time. Conor O’Malley is losing his mother to a monster that cannot be fought. As she slips away a day at a time, Conor must go on living his life. But each night there is The Nightmare, the one that wakes him up in a cold sweat, the one he can’t finish. The one he doesn’t want to finish. And each night he’s visited by The Monster. But this isn’t your average Godzilla. This monster was called, he is here for a purpose.

Patrick Ness is a word magician. He creates a story of reality using fantasy. I had no idea how this story would end or the path it would take to get there. I was pleasantly surprised and also devastated. This book is a contradiction beautifully done. The illustrations alone are intricate and gorgeous. If you haven’t picked this one up, I highly suggest you do. But prepare for a ride!

By Your Side

I’m not usually big on teen romance novels. They’ve never rocked my proverbial socks off. Not much was different when reading By Your Side.

IMG-2041Anxiety-riddled Autumn Collins finds herself locked in the local library over the long holiday weekend. She thinks she’s alone until she finds herself face-to-face with Dax Miller, the black sheep of their school. But as the weekend wears on, and left with no other company, Autumn finds herself opening up to Dax in ways she hadn’t even with her love interest Jeff. When the weekend is over, will the feelings that have blossomed wither? And if not, who will hold Autumns heart when she makes her final decision?

Kasie West does a wonderful job of bringing the trials and tribulations of anxiety disorders to the story. She definitely enlightens readers to what their fellow classmates and friends may be going through. While I found myself wanting to finish the story, I didn’t really find myself invested. It seemed from the very beginning who Autumn would choose. Other than the corny lines that seem ever present in teen romances and the predictable outcome, it was an enjoyable read. Definitely a refresher for the senses after some heavy reads beforehand.

When the Moon was Ours

To the boys who get called girls,
the girls who get called boys,
and those who live outside these words.
To those called names,
and those searching for names of their own.
To those who live on the edges,
and in the spaces in between
I wish for you ever light in the sky.

Do you ever have those books that you draw you in with their beautifully written words? Those books that seem lush and eloquent and absolutely breathtaking in their prose? When the Moon was Ours is definitely one of those books.

IMG-1975From a boy who hangs moons in the trees to a girl who grows roses from her wrist, When the Moon was Ours is a tale of two best friends and the strangeness that bonds them. Sam and Miel are inseparable and strange in their own ways, but even as the town spreads rumors about their oddities, they all know to keep their distance from the Bonner sisters. Four girls who run the town and who are now convinced Miel’s roses will give them more power. Using every secret to bribe her to hand over the roses, Sam and Miel must face each other’s darkest secrets and see if they can knock the Bonner sisters down a peg or two.

While Anna-Marie McLemore writes beautifully, I found myself wishing there was a plot to the story…or any plot at all. I felt as if McLemore was covering for the lack of story with her well-written words and her apt for creating a fantasy world. It was hard to pick out absolute truths from the story amidst all the metaphors McLemore filled the pages with. That being said, the story itself is absolutely wonderful. I just wish a little more thought had been put into the plot of it all.