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Sep 29 2014

Star Cursed by Jessica Spotswood

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Novel: Star Cursed by Jessica Spotswood | Goodreads
Series: The Cahill Witch Chronicles, #2
Release Date: June 18, 2013
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

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.

Jessica Spotswood’s spellbinding series continues in this beautifully woven novel, sweeping readers back into its mystical but plausible world. But while Star Cursed‘s setting is just as atmospheric and richly built as its predecessor’s, readers soon realize that things are not quite the same for Cate and her sisters.

Cate is wiser now, and her powers are flourishing into what could make her one of the most powerful witches in history. And with the Brotherhood stronger than ever before and the threat of a prophesy looming, the stakes are higher, creating dangerous situations that the author could have easily used her protagonist’s powers to solve. Had a lazier writer penned this story, Cate’s magic could have been the key to solving any problem, but thanks to Spotswood’s masterful storytelling, this is not the case.

Instead, the author uses Cate’s growing strength to build rather than reduce conflict. The main character’s circumspect approach to using her abilities not only clashes with Maura’s recklessness, resulting in sisterly fights that rip at the characters’ relationship, but torments Cate as she wonders whether or not fighting the Brotherhood with her magic is the right choice. Situations in which the line between good and evil is nonexistent drive the plot, forcing readers to consider the way morality warps itself in the face of deadly implications.

However, even better than this story’s open-ended questions about ethics are the elements of the plot that are clearly portrayed as wrong. The Brotherhood is egotistical and corrupt, and their book-burning and cruel treatment of those they consider beneath them will send readers into a rage. Star Cursed is not a book for those who cannot stand being offended, but the anger it produces gives the plot a beating urgency and purpose. Spotswood manipulates readers’ fury brilliantly, giving her tale an edge that will horrify yet engage readers.

When Spotswood places a building plot against the gorgeous backdrop that is the Cahills’ home, she produces the same richly atmospheric setting that makes the first book in the series so breathtaking. Star Cursed is a story full of questions, conflict, and confusion with scenes guaranteed to break your heart and challenge your morals. Fans of Born Wicked will be enthralled.

Emily
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Sep 28 2014

The Weekly Blaze {56}: September 22-28

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This week marked the last full week of September, which meant the end of our September Spotlight Book Club. We’ll be announcing our October selection soon, so stay tuned! In the meantime, here is everything that happened this week.

Monday, September 22: Grace’s discussion post about whether or not English class matters: “I’ve had teachers that have encouraged my love of reading, made me think more critically, who have made me a better writer. I can’t attribute that all to a raw love of it.”

Tuesday, September 23: Willa’s review of Jackaby by William Ritter: “That’s right, Sherlock and magical creatures. That’s Jackaby.”

Thursday, September 25: Ten Illuminations on books that will make you laugh: Again, we only had two! How embarrassing!

Saturday, September 27: Our September Spotlight Book Club wrap-up: We read (and loved) Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid!

Emily
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Sep 27 2014

The Spotlight Book Club Presents: The Let’s Get Lost Showcase

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spotlightbookclub

The “Spotlight Book Club” is one of the most exciting things we do on the blog! As avid teen readers, it’s hard to find a book club that features books we haven’t read yet and that is full of avid readers like ourselves, so we decided to start an ONLINE book club with readers like us all over the world! Each month we choose a book, and we will give you the entire month to read it. On the last Saturday of the month we will each post a mini-review along with (we hope) an author interview, giveaway, or something else fun! Throughout the month, you can start threads on our Goodreads group to interact with other book club members. The only rule is you can’t spoil the book for everyone else!

September’s selection is Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid!

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Five strangers. Countless adventures. One epic way to get lost.

Four teens across the country have only one thing in common: a girl named LEILA. She crashes into their lives in her absurdly red car at the moment they need someone the most.

There’s HUDSON, a small-town mechanic who is willing to throw away his dreams for true love. And BREE, a runaway who seizes every Tuesday—and a few stolen goods along the way. ELLIOT believes in happy endings…until his own life goes off-script. And SONIA worries that when she lost her boyfriend, she also lost the ability to love.

Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia find a friend in Leila. And when Leila leaves them, their lives are forever changed. But it is during Leila’s own 4,268-mile journey that she discovers the most important truth— sometimes, what you need most is right where you started. And maybe the only way to find what you’re looking for is to get lost along the way.

Here are our mini-reviews!

Emily-sig

Let’s Get Lost may appear to be a light, fun road trip book – and it is. But it is also so much more. Each of its vignettes bursts with emotion, and Adi Alsaid weaves the stories together masterfully. My only complaint about this novel stems from Elliot’s story. His tale follows his desperate attempts to force his crush to fall in love with him, despite her explicitly saying she only wants to be friends. His sense of entitlement made it difficult for me to enjoy his section of Let’s Get Lost, but it far from ruined my love for the book as a whole. Alsaid’s debut is magical; after reading it, you won’t be quite the same. (Read my full review here.)

Willa-sig

 

 

I was expecting a light, happy, maybe a bit emotional, story from Let’s Get Lost, but I got oodles more. Adi Alsaid portrays Leila through other people’s eyes, which is such an interesting way to portray a character. You learn about her life, her story, and her personality, through Hudson, Bree, Elliot, and Sofia, which was my favorite part of the book. The friendships that stemmed from this novel were so unique, and made it a million times more enjoyable for me. You get this diverse cast of characters who come from different points of view, lifestyles, socioeconomic classes – you get a blimp of teenagers in America. And this book is just absolutely magical, as Emily says. It casts a spell, and is impossible to put down. I couldn’t recommend this book more!

Sep 25 2014

Ten Illuminations {12}: Books that will Make You Laugh

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“Ten Illuminations” is a bi-weekly feature hosted by Lit Up Review where we recommend our ten favorite books that fit under one topic. Inspired by The Broke and The Bookish’s “Top Ten Tuesday,” “Ten Illuminations” gives you five people’s recommendations in one!

Today, because we all love a little hilarity, we are recommending some of out favorite funny books.

Emily-sig

10755314Sparks by S.J. Adams | Goodreads

A girl who is feeling a bit lost becomes the third member of a new religion founded by two fellow detention-attenders, “Bluedaism,” and spends one epic night chasing down her crush in an effort to confess her undying love. As you might have guessed, this task is not as easy as it seems, and the protagonist encounters a plethora of awkward situations and strange people throughout the course of her mission. With a plot like this, how could the story not be hilarious?

Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales | Goodreads7775824

It can be difficult to find a book that can make you laugh on every single page, so I will make it easy on you and tell you that this one will. This book’s premise is not particularly funny, so it is a testament to Leila Sales’s writing talent that she created such hilarity simply with her fresh, engaging voice.

Emily
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Sep 23 2014

Jackaby by William Ritter

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20312462Novel: Jackaby by William Ritter | Goodreads
Release Date: September 16th, 2014
Publisher: Algoquin Young Readers
Format: ARC
Source: BookPeople Teen Reviewing

“Miss Rook, I am not an occultist,” Jackaby said. “I have a gift that allows me to see truth where others see the illusion–and there are many illusions. All the world’s a stage, as they say, and I seem to have the only seat in the house with a view behind the curtain.”

Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary–including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police–with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane–deny.

Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.

Abigail Rook and Jackaby are an interesting match in every way – he’s disorganized and a social outcast, she’s organized and daring. Both are searching for someone who understand them, and as Jackaby’s assistant, Abigail proves herself to be keen, willing to do anything, and happy to accompany crazy Jackaby about the town. Their case revolves around a nonhuman serial killer, and at first I was suspicious of the whole nonhuman element, but it quickly grew on me. Ritter doesn’t overly-explain the nonhuman world, but rather presents information as Abigail learns of this world, and allows the reader to follow along with her. This, in addition to some humor and good writing, made me adore this book.

While I don’t necessarily agree with the promotion that this book is similar to Doctor Who (it literally has no Doctor Who whatsoever) I do agree with the claim that it is similar to Sherlock. And, as a fan of Sherlock, that element of this book appealed to me on so many levels. Imagine Sherlock but instead of hunting criminals, he’s hunting magical creatures who commit crimes.

That’s right, Sherlock and magical creatures.

That’s Jackaby.

Willa
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