Garden Spells

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen     description:

The women of the Waverley family — whether they like it or not — are heirs to an unusual legacy, one that grows in a fenced plot behind their Queen Anne home on Pendland Street in Bascom, North Carolina. There, an apple tree bearing fruit of magical properties looms over a garden filled with herbs and edible flowers that possess the power to affect in curious ways anyone who eats them.

For nearly a decade, 34-year-old Claire Waverley, at peace with her family inheritance, has lived in the house alone, embracing the spirit of the grandmother who raised her, ruing her mother’s unfortunate destiny and seemingly unconcerned about the fate of her rebellious sister, Sydney, who freed herself long ago from their small town’s constraints. Using her grandmother’s mystical culinary traditions, Claire has built a successful catering business — and a carefully controlled, utterly predictable life — upon the family’s peculiar gift for making life-altering delicacies: lilac jelly to engender humility, for instance, or rose geranium wine to call up fond memories. Garden Spells reveals what happens when Sydney returns to Bascom with her young daughter, turning Claire’s routine existence upside down. With Sydney’s homecoming, the magic that the quiet caterer has measured into recipes to shape the thoughts and moods of others begins to influence Claire’s own emotions in terrifying and delightful ways.

As the sisters reconnect and learn to support one another, each finds romance where she least expects it, while Sydney’s child, Bay, discovers both the safe home she has longed for and her own surprising gifts. With the help of their elderly cousin Evanelle, endowed with her own uncanny skills, the Waverley women redeem the past, embrace the present, and take a joyful leap into the future.

gardenBook 1: Garden Spells        4 STARS

For a book filled with so much magic, a cast of great characters, and a really fulfilling plot line, the apple tree is still my favorite part. I mean I think that says plenty about the author, to take something like an apple tree (even a magical one) and give it a real personality, and such a vital part of the story in ways that you slowly discover. But that is just still one small part of the story. This book does deal with magic, but it isn’t a generic story of witches. It’s more like a family filled with unique talents that are inherent to each person. Though, how they do affect the world around them, especially within the Waverly’s property, is definitely a bit witchy. Yet, the story is really that of normal people trying to find their place in the world. Two women who have lived through difficult lives and trying to get to know each other again as real sisters. And the little girl, Bay, was so sweet and adorable with how she knows where everything is meant to be, even people, and the fact that she ultimately has the most insight in the end into people was a really moving part of the story. Beyond the Waverly family you also get to discover a bit about small town living, the good, the bad, and the intriguing family legacies. There was just so much to love about this book, it’s really hard to put it all into one review without ruining the story, so I just say go and pick it up as quick as you can.

Some Halloweenish Reading

HAPPY HALLOWEEN

So for Halloween I thought I’d put together a list of books that were spooky, creepy, gave me the heebie jeebies, or  you know deals with the supernatural. Here you go.

phantomsPhantoms by  Dean Koontz

So this is one of those books that just makes you never want to turn out the lights again, and possibly hide in your room the rest of your life. Really freaked me out, because even when you finally get the full story it’s still completely disturbing and really does leave you wondering, especially since it uses bits of real history where weird junk happened and there’s no explanation for it. Never like it when they do that, because even as you may believe that Koontz’s explanation is most likely not even close to what happened in real life, it still leaves you wondering what really happened to those people, and could it happen to you.

skinSkin  by  Ted Dekker

Unfortunately I don’t have an actual review to attach to this. Something I definitely need to remedy. This however is one strange cookie of a book. A group of people who don’t know each other end up in this town, and one moment it’s a town being plagued by a serial killer, and the next their waking up in a deserted version where they’re all alone, and possibly still being hunted by a serial killer, and back and forth they go. You get glimpses into the mind of the  killer as well, which always ups the creep factor of a book, and definitely made me never want to eat mustard again. Either way, it’s an interesting book with a wicked ending.

insatiableInsatiable by Meg Cabot

Yes it’s vampires, but Cabot made it both interesting, amusing, and devious. The 2nd book in the serious definitely goes into creepy territory at times. I do like that the main girl hates vampires, thinks it ridiculous the soap opera she writes for is trying to introduce them, and can also tell exactly how a person is going to die. Plus I love the tie in between angels and demons, so it really took it a step beyond the norm.

forbiddenThe Forbidden Game  by  L.J. Smith

We got evil Shadow Men, and that alone is enough to make it to this list. Mainly cause they love making people face their worse nightmares, and well do a bunch of evil stuff trapping people’s souls in those nightmares or in like creepy fortune telling machines. So many layers of messed up that just keeps coming. It’s sort of like a twisted and even more disturbing version of Jumanji that just keeps coming for you even if you technically win the game. It just wants to play with you… forever… and ever… and ever…

moonlightMoonlight, Madness, and Magic

This is 3 short stories, well 4 if you count the introductory one, each dealing with the descendants of a curse. It’s a paranormal romance as well, but instead of just falling for the vampire or werewolf they’re having to figure out how to break the curse that’s causing them to transform into such, which was a nice switch-up. Plus it’s a little naughty as well, and that’s good any time of the year.

Bitter Demons

BOOK 1: Beautiful Demons  by  Sarra Cannon

BOOK 2: Inner Demons

Bitter Demons   description:

So far, life in Peachville has been tough for Harper Madison. She’s survived attacks on her life, learned how to control her magic and met the most gorgeous boy with an unbelievable secret. After her latest stunt at Brighton Hospital, life has gotten even more complicated. The Order of Shadows is determined to tighten their control on her life.
When a future Prima from a nearby demon gate comes to town, she and Harper decide to use glamours to switch places at a party. All Harper wants is to have a little fun.
But the night will end in blood.
And Harper will find out the attack was meant for her…

bitter demonsBOOK 3: Bitter Demons   4 STARS

We get a lot of answers in this book, and so while there’s still some mystery hanging around, you finally get a clearer picture of the Order of Shadows as a whole, and how they’re structured and how the Prima’s are normally treated in other towns. Which was nice because finally someone comes around and sticks up for Harper. Plus, it was great that the full truth about Jackson and his connection with the Peachville Order is revealed. Altogether this book really helped move the story ahead, and brought the plot to a new level of interest, because it wasn’t just all about who is after Harper, though that’s of course in here too. My main problem with this book, and it’s an understandable issue for Harper to have, but I do hate that Harper is constantly fretting over if Jackson cares about her or just the demon attached to her family line. It does help reveal some of her insecurities, even as she is doing her best to be brave enough to stand up against the Order, and in that way it does show her normal teenage side which I can appreciate, even if it did begin to irritate me after a bit. However, on the whole this book just continued the exciting adventure that is this series.

Inner Demons

BOOK 1: Beautiful Demons  by  Sarra Cannon

Inner Demons   description:

Becoming a Demons cheerleader was the last thing Harper Madison expected when she moved to the small town of Peachville. Now that she’s an official member of the squad, her training can begin. Only, this is no normal group of cheerleaders. Harper isn’t there to learn dances and cheers. She became a cheerleader in order to finally learn how to control the magic inside.

The Peachville Demons cheerleading squad is really a training ground for a powerful coven of witches called the Order of Shadows. The training opens up a new world for Harper. It’s a world of beauty and magic beyond her wildest dreams, but also a world of pressure and impossible expectations.

A world where every secret hides an even darker secret.

inner demonsBOOK 2: Inner Demons   4 STARS

I couldn’t help it, these books are so fast paced, and the stories flow from one to the next that I had to grab up the next book and tear right through it. And that is one thing I do love about this series, how they all flow together. While each book is a full story within itself, it isn’t like one mystery or instance that has to be solved, it’s the constant delving and unfolding of the world around her as it grows and becomes more complicated and dangerous. This book picks up only days after the last one ended, and as she becomes inducted into the Order as a trainee she begins to fully realize how trapped she has become, and how even those around her are as in the dark to the truth of the world they’ve entered into. I love how Harper is intelligent enough to realize that everything isn’t as wonderful as the people are trying to make it out to be, but also recognizes she can’t fight them on her own and has to play along, but she still doesn’t blindly follow their rules. Also, even as we see how much larger this world is, Cannon does a good job of keeping the focus and the main cast of the first book, so that it doesn’t become overly complicated with the introduction of too many people. Though those like Mrs. Ashworth do come more into the light, and we learn more about Harper’s friends and the town, so there is definitely a lot of great development, which is why I couldn’t help but immediately turn to the next book.

Beautiful Demons

Beautiful Demons  by  Sarra Cannon   description:

Harper Madison isn’t like other girls. She has extraordinary powers, but her inability to control them has gotten her kicked from so many foster homes she’s lost count. Shadowford Home is her last chance, and she hopes Peachville High will be the fresh start she needs. But when evidence ties her to the gruesome murder of a Demons cheerleader, Harper discovers this small town has a big secret.

beautiful demonsBOOK 1: Beautiful Demons   4 STARS

I read this series a while back, but I wanted to be able to give them a good review, and I’m glad to see that I’m enjoying them as much the 2nd time round as I did the first. So many YA paranormal romance books tend to be some silly teenage girl falling for a boy whose all supernaturally, but this was so much more than that. First off, Harper is the one with powers, but ones she’s afraid of and has caused her nothing but problems her whole life. And the one town that’s ever accepted her turns out to be a seething bed of secrets and lies. I love that this is told in first person because we only know what Harper knows and so we can experience it all with her, and understand that while she knows something is wrong with the town why she would still desire to fit in. There’s a lot of good character development for her, and you get a good picture of those around her, but they’re all shrouded in a sort of mystery as you try to figure out what everyone’s angle is, while discovering who’s running the show and who’s trapped by it. It’s definitely an exciting plot, but relies more on the intense situations of wondering what will happen next, which makes it a great beginning to an incredible series.

Slightly Spellbound… a Southern Witch novel

BOOK 1: Would-be Witch  by  Kimberly Frost

BOOK 2: Barely Bewitched

BOOK 3: Halfway Hexed

Slightly Spellbound   description:

With two kinds of magick at odds inside her and two gorgeous men vying for her attention, Tammy Jo Trask is used to being pulled in opposite directions. But in the latest Southern Witch novel she’ll have to make some serious decisions—like how she intends to stay alive.

Tammy Jo’s romance with the wizard Bryn Lyons is on hold while her ex-husband is in town trying to remind her of the good old days. Choosing between them isn’t easy, and it doesn’t help that a skeletal creature is spying on her, a faery knight is hunting her, and she just made friends with Evangeline Rhodes—a rich witch who thinks her own family is trying to kill her.

When Evangeline disappears under suspicious circumstances, Tammy Jo is determined to find out what happened. As she uncovers a secret more dangerous—and personal—than she could have imagined, she also discovers that, in both love and magic, you can’t stay neutral forever.

slightlyBOOK 4: Slightly Spellbound  5 STARS

I really love how Frost is moving the series along. She isn’t falling into the tragic flaws of dragging things out too long. I don’t consider it a spoiler to say the love triangle is done. Tammy Jo makes a decision early on, and that really helped the story focus more on the dealings with Evangeline and Skeleton guy. And we’re even discovering more and more about the fairy world, and that helps to understand Tammy Jo as well. Regardless of the love triangle, both Bryn and Zach continue to give a lot to the movement of the story, and the action going on within it. Plus there’s a lot going on, and misdirection that made the tangled plot something that captured the attention and wouldn’t let go. This is a series that is so funny and enchanting that I never want it to end.

Halfway Hexed… a Southern Witch

BOOK 1: Would-be Witch  by  Kimberly Frost

BOOK 2: Barely Bewitched

Halfway Hexed   description:

First, there are the local residents who form a scripture-spouting posse and kidnap Tammy to “defend” Duvall, Texas, against witchcraft. Next, someone saddles her with a secret package chock full of dangerous visions, just as the president of WAM-the World Association of Magic- arrives with his entourage to investigate her. And who worse to examine Tammy’s entanglement with off-limits and drop-dead gorgeous wizard Bryn Lyons than his ex-girlfriend? Not to mention that the clash between the locals and the magical visitors leads to a series of unnatural disasters that may doom them all.
While the fate of the town hangs in the balance, one thing’s certain: this would-be witch is ready to rumble, Texas style.

halfway hexedBOOK 3: Halfway Hexed   5 STARS

I am loving this series… Tammy Jo is just such a fun and unpredictable character… with the way her powers are growing and changing in ways that other witches don’t expect makes it exciting… and I love how Merc has become such an essential character himself… it makes Tammy both eccentric and smart enough to listen to good advice no matter who it’s coming from… plus finally getting to figure out more about the warning against the Lyons family… as well as finding out more about her own family has really helped make the plot thicken… it isn’t just some strange new magical attack… it’s dealing with their history and the importance of that town… plus I like the approach to magic in these books… it isn’t just like memorizing some spell and waving a wand… it’s almost like a science that’s constantly being explored and perfected… altogether can’t wait to get my hands on the next one…

Barely Bewitched… A Southern Witch

BOOK 1: Would-be Witch  by  Kimberly Frost

Barely Bewitched   description:

Tammy Jo’s misfiring magic has attracted the unwanted attention of WAM, the World Association of Magic. Now, a wand-wielding wizard and a menacing fire warlock have come to Duvall to train her for a dangerous mandatory challenge. But is there more to their arrival than they claim?

When a curse leads to a toxic spill of pixie dust, the town comes unglued and the doors between the human and faery worlds begin to open. To rescue the town and to face the impossible magical test, Tammy needs the help of incredibly handsome Bryn Lyons, but WAM has declared him totally off-limits. To avoid deadly consequences, Tammy probably ought to follow the rules this time.

On the other hand, rebellion is an old Texas tradition

barelyBOOK 2: Barely Bewitched   5 STARS

Even better than the first… more secrets are uncovered while more questions pop up leaving you rushing to the 3rd book… it was fun and exciting and romantic all in one… with all new people creating havoc and and old ones getting in the way as usual… and Tamara’s choice between Bryn and Zach become more tangled as her feelings for Bryn grows even though she knows that’s taboo(even if the reason for that remains unknown) and Zach as always remains her first love and clings to the hope that maybe they could make it work eventually… to be honest i’m not even sure who to choose as Bryn understands and helps her at the drop of a hat but can be a bit shady at times… then again Zach just doesn’t get any of it at all but he loves her despite what he thinks is pure craziness… but really the best part of all are the blood thirsty faeries that will forever change your mind of what a fairy tale really is… well, I’m about to go snatch up the 3rd book right now to see what happens next cause i just can’t wait…

The Ruby Circle… The Last of the Bloodlines

BOOK 1: Bloodlines  by  Richelle Mead

BOOK 2: The Golden Lily

BOOK 3: The Indigo Spell

BOOK 4: The Fiery Heart

BOOK 5: Silver Shadows

The Ruby Circle   description:

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

After their secret romance is exposed, Sydney and Adrian find themselves facing the wrath of both the Alchemists and the Moroi in this electrifying conclusion to Richelle Mead’s New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series. When the life of someone they both love is put on the line, Sydney risks everything to hunt down a deadly former nemesis. Meanwhile, Adrian becomes enmeshed in a puzzle that could hold the key to a shocking secret about spirit magic, a secret that could shake the entire Moroi world.

ruby circleBOOK 6: The Ruby Circle   5 STARS

This series was perfect… it never dragged or felt like it was stretching the story on and on… and this book tied up all the story lines beautifully… nothing felt forced like she was just having to make everything come to an end… but it even answered a few questions that you might not even have known you were asking and I liked that… it’s these kinds of books that make me want to become a writer… this world is just so detailed and real with so many different moving parts and layers to it… without being convoluted or feeling like a conspiracy nut… and the way the characters grew and changed it was like you really knew them… and you could run into them on the street and wouldn’t even be surprised… okay maybe a little surprised… though there is just one little bit that I’d honestly love to know more about… don’t want to spoil anything here but lets just say Mead could definitely do some more stories in this world and I wouldn’t complain…

Rereading Harry Potter 3

BOOK 1: The Sorcerer’s Stone

BOOK 2: The Chamber of Secrets

azkabanBOOK 3: The Prisoner of Azkaban   5 STARS

The main reason I’m rereading these books is because I never actually read the last one… but it’s happening now because I keep seeing all these jokes pop up about Harry Potter… mainly aiming at why don’t they fix all their problems with magic… and you know reading them now the only thing that does bother me is the castle being freezing during winter… I can believe that perhaps they don’t want to go overboard with magic and feel the need to control everything because you could turn all psycho like Voldemort… but I think keeping the castle warm so students don’t freeze to death inside would’ve been a good idea… but really I like looking at this again… though it didn’t help that for the first half of the book I was mistaking Lupin for Moody and kept wondering when he was going to start showing his evil side… fallacy of such a series… but this one you can really see how it’s going from a young readers book to a young adult as the characters really do mature and the plot itself is much stronger and complicated because it’s reaching out further into the magical world and building up plots to come… I liked how Hermione wasn’t just the girl who loves the rules, but also began standing up for herself and taking charge… and I never liked her much as a kid but she really is the adult of the crowd… I mean she’s right, a crazy killer is after you and you want to go sneaking off while everyone’s trying to protect you is just no good… but I think that’s where Harry begins to mature… realizing that he can’t just be running around because he wants to but to look at life a bit more seriously… also that seeking revenge isn’t the answer… that the truth must be discovered and justice found… while a lot of it is rather childish there’s a lot of good to be discovered in these books and I’m really enjoying reading them once more…