Book Trailer Thursday (187)–How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather

Book Trailer Thursday

The school year is about to begin and even though I don’t want to see summer go, I feel myself gearing up for all things fall. And after watching the book trailer for How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather, I’m ready for some chilly weather, cozy on the couch, fall reading.

27405351Summary (From Goodreads):

It’s the Salem Witch Trials meets Mean Girls in a debut novel from one of the descendants of Cotton Mather, where the trials of high school start to feel like a modern day witch hunt for a teen with all the wrong connections to Salem’s past.

Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the 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 weren’t enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real live (well technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with The Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it’s Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself.

Review: Star Cursed by Jessica Spotswood

Star Cursed finalTitle: Star Cursed

Author: Jessica Spotswood

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile

Release Date: June 18th, 2013

Interest: Series / Historical fiction / Paranormal

Source: NetGalley

Summary (From Goodreads):

With the Brotherhood persecuting witches like never before, a divided Sisterhood desperately needs Cate to come into her Prophesied powers. And after Cate’s friend Sachi is arrested for using magic, a war-thirsty Sister offers to help her find answers—if Cate is willing to endanger everyone she loves.

Cate doesn’t want to be a weapon, and she doesn’t want to involve her friends and Finn in the Sisterhood’s schemes. But when Maura and Tess join the Sisterhood, Maura makes it clear that she’ll do whatever it takes to lead the witches to victory. Even if it means sacrifices. Even if it means overthrowing Cate. Even if it means all-out war.

In the highly anticipated sequel to Born Wicked, the Cahill Witch Chronicles continue Cate, Maura and Tess’s quest to find love, protect family, and explore their magic against all odds in an alternate history of New England.

First, if you haven’t read Born Wicked (my review), then please stop reading this review and go get a copy of that to read 🙂

I devoured Born Wicked and have been looking forward to reading Star Cursed ever since!  Jessica Spotswood really knows how to write an engaging story full of suspense, romance, and magic.

Star Cursed picks up not long after the cliffhanger ending in book one.  Cate is with the Sisterhood and understandably unhappy about it.  She misses her sisters, her garden, and of course Finn.  While I sympathized with Cate, I enjoyed learning more about the Sisterhood and the history.  This also opened up the story to more characters and witches, adding some interesting layers.  Some of the characters left me skeptical, while others I really enjoyed and want to know more about.

I had a tough time reading sections with the Brotherhood because they are so harsh and brutal in Star Cursed.  At times I felt like I was reading a historical fiction-turned-dystopian novel.  The laws they created and the way they started treating women is horrible!  I couldn’t help but keep hoping that Finn wouldn’t turn to their side.  A ton happens in this part of the storyline, but I still have no idea what to expect in the third book, especially after reading the ending.  This part of the storyline really draws a line between Cate and Maura and their relationship.

We get to know Maura and Tess in Born Wicked, but I feel like I know each of them so much better after reading Star Cursed.  I absolutely adore Tess.  I have a lot of things to say that I won’t say about Maura.  The situations and conflicts that take place are really defining Cate, Maura, and Tess.  One of the sisters left me speechless at the end, so now I have another thing to look forward to in book three.

The mood is a little darker in Star Cursed than it is in Born Wicked, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Finn is present just enough to satisfy my need for his character presence, but ultimately this sequel is all about learning more about Cate, her sisters, and the Sisterhood.  I tend to worry about books in the middle of a series/trilogy because sometimes they fall flat, but thankfully Star Cursed does not suffer from that.  It’s just as fun and suspenseful to read as Born Wicked.

Book Trailer Thursday (57)–Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Sigh.  I love this book SO MUCH (my review).  I really like the actor they chose for the trailer and the scenes they included.  Some really minor details, but important in my opinion, from Born Wicked are represented in the trailer.  Seriously, if you haven’t read this book make sure you do so pronto! 🙂

Born Wicked Book CoverSummary of Born Wicked (From Goodreads): Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they’re witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship—or an early grave.

Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with only six months left to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word… especially after she finds her mother’s diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family’s destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra.

If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren’t safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood—not even from each other.

 

Review: Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Title: Born Wicked, 330 pages

Author: Jessica Spotswood

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile

Released: February 7th, 2012

Interest: 2012 Debut Author

Source: Purchased

Summary (From Goodreads): Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they’re witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship–or an early grave.

Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with six months to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word… especially after she finds her mother’s diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family’s destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate stars scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra.

If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren’t safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood — not even from each other.

Prepare for some gushing because I positively loved Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood!  I read a number of glowing reviews for Jessica Spotwood’s debut, but I wasn’t sure if it would work for me.  It’s weird, but even though I have a minor in history, I don’t always enjoy historical fiction.  The paranormal twist in Born Wicked really grabbed my interest, so I decided to give it a whirl.  I’m happy to say that within the first couple chapters I was hooked!

Jessica Spotswood has written a novel with lush imagery.  The Cahill sisters live outside of town in the country.  Cate loves to be outside working in her garden, so we get wonderful descriptions of the roses, the trees, and the rest of her garden.  Cate and her sisters often practice their magic in the rose garden, so I often felt like the setting was another character in the novel.  Much of the story takes place in the fall, but with the girls’ magic it often transformed into a spring garden.  I’m always impressed when an author takes the time to describe the setting, especially when this is done without being verbose.  I love the late 1800s time period; Cate’s world is one I’d like to spend a day in.

Like I said, I’m not always instantly drawn to historical fiction, but Born Wicked had me captivated.  A  number of my students really enjoy historical fiction, but it isn’t as popular as paranormal fantasy.  The easy blend of these two genres in Born Wicked could easily appeal to both my historical fiction fans and paranormal fantasy fans.  I’m actually really considering using this debut in my Young Adult II class which will focus on the study of different genres.

I’ve never read Sense and Sensibility, but I love the movie with Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson.  I bring this up because I kept thinking of this movie while I was reading Born Wicked.  The Cahill sisters reminded me of the Dashwood sisters because both sets of sisters are in need of finding a good husband.  The restraints are similar in the sense that they need to marry well-off men, appearances are everything, and women don’t hold much power.  Born Wicked is similar in this regard, but the added supernatural twist and the lore of the Brotherhood and Sisterhood really add to the plot.  Because Cate and her sisters are witches, they are even more intimidated by the Brotherhood because they know they’ll be severely punished if their secret is discovered.  It’s not easy being witches, especially since they’ve grown even more into their powers since their mother’s death.  There are so many secrets and suspicions that really drive Jessica Spotswood’s novel.  Cate doesn’t have many marriage prospects because she’s more concerned with protecting her sisters, but if she doesn’t choose soon she’ll either have a husband chosen for her by the Brotherhood, or she can join the Sisterhood.  Because both groups focus so much on religion and are against witchery, neither options are very appealing to Cate.  It doesn’t take long for some very interesting options to become available and some very unsettling secrets to be unveiled.

I couldn’t put Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood down, and then when it ended I couldn’t believe it.  There’s a jaw-dropping ending that has left me feeling desperate for the second book in the series.  The world of YA is saturated with paranormal fantasy, but Born Wicked is not one to pass up or ignore.  I highly recommend reading it as soon as possible!

Book Trailer Thursday (31)

This week I’m featuring the trailer for Witch Song a debut novel written by Amber Argyle.  I can’t remember exactly when I first heard about Witch Song, but it was quite a while ago and I’ve been looking forward to reading it ever since.  There isn’t much longer to wait because it releases in paperback on September 1st! 😀  Have any of you been fortunate enough to read it early?  If so, what did you think?  Is anyone else excited to read Witch Song?

Summary (From Goodreads): The world is changing. Once, Witch Song controlled everything from the winds to the shifting of the seasons–but not anymore. All the Witches are gone, taken captive by a traitor. All but Brusenna. As the echo of their songs fade, the traitor grows stronger. Now she is coming for Brusenna. Her guardian has sworn to protect her, but even he can’t stop the Dark Witch. Somehow, Brusenna has to succeed where every other Witch has failed. Find the traitor. Fight her. Defeat her. Because if Brusenna doesn’t, there won’t be anything left to save.

 

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

Victoria Schwab The Near Witch

282 pp.  Hyperion (Disney Book Group)  2011  ISBN: 978-1-4231-3787-0

Interest: 2011 Debut Author

Source: Purchased

Summary (From Goodreads): The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.

And there are no strangers in the town of Near.

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.

But when an actual stranger—a boy who seems to fade like smoke—appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know—about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won’t soon forget.

Prior to and during the week of The Near Witch‘s release, almost all of the blogs I follow had glowing reviews for this debut.  After reading all of those reviews, and being in an odd mood on the day of the release, I decided to buy my own copy.

I think all of the reviews spoke of Schwab’s beautiful, lyrical writing and I completely agree.  She created an atmosphere of mystery and magic, very much like a fairy tale.  The imagery is fantastic and painted an easy to imagine setting.  Overall, the writing is gorgeous and impressive.

My only complaint is that the story is too plot-driven.  It was while reading this book that I realized how much more I enjoy character-driven stories.  I never felt connected to Lexi or anyone in the story.  I was interested in the mystery behind who’s kidnapping the children.  And I was interested in the lore of the Near witch.  My lack of connection with Lexi made the story drag on.  I got to the point where I just wanted to know what happened.  Despite the writing, and how much I was enjoying it, I found myself skimming the last couple chapters because I was growing weary and wanted to be done.

Honestly, it makes me feel down writing this review because I wanted to love this book.  I did like it and will recommend it to my students.  Reading is subjective and not every book is for every person.  I already know which of my students will most likely love this book as much as the reviewers I follow did.  I’d love to get some comments from those of you who read The Near Witch and loved it or feel the same as I do.

A few bloggers who enjoyed The Near Witch:
The Story Siren
Novel Thoughts
Reading Teen

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