Friday, June 24, 2016

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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.

Well, that was just creepy enough to give me nightmares every night while I was reading it. It's not the jump out and scare the bejeezus out of you,'s the kind of eerie story that sneaks up on you, digs down into your subconscious and makes you start seeing and hearing things when left to your own devices. Or it did me, anyway.

I've had this book on my shelf for ages. I'm a huge fan of Victoria Schwab's work, so I don't know why I resisted picking this novel up until now, except that I do tend to focus more on newer releases these days rather than backlist titles. Luckily, I have a great friend who just got a copy of the book and did her very best to make me jealous that she was starting this book, and I caved to peer pressure. But peer pressure from bookish friends is rarely a bad thing.

This entire story just had this ethereal quality to it, most especially Cole, the love interest. I sometimes forget how great Schwab is at creating romance because her stories are so full of, well, everything else that it doesn't matter if there's a romance at the heart of the story or not. But I so very much appreciated the relationship between Lexi and Cole, especially because Cole was an outsider, ostracized simply because he was not from Near and also because their entanglement develops in spite of the fact that another boy in town thinks he's already laid claim to Lexi and her future. What a horse's ass.

But this story takes place in a time when the men did the hunting and the women tended to the meals and the children. Lexi may not have many options in a village so small, but she knows what she doesn't want. And that's to be trapped. Her father made sure to teach her hunting and tracking and the stories of Near, and so she's pretty well-prepared to take care of herself. But she's the only one who thinks so.

I really enjoyed this book of witchcraft and windy moors and nights that sing you out of your bed. It was enchanting and utterly captivating but also haunting and eerie, to the point that I had to make myself stop reading right up until bedtime if I didn't want to dream of witches made of loamy earth or see things skulking in my peripheral vision when I got up in the middle of the night to get a drink. Even so, it was a lovely fairy tale, done in the vein of the Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Anderson and I'll be recommending it from here on out.

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Revenge is worth its weight in gold.

When her father is murdered for a journal revealing the location of a hidden gold mine, eighteen-year-old Kate Thompson disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers—and justice. What she finds are untrustworthy strangers, endless dust and heat, and a surprising band of allies, among them a young Apache girl and a pair of stubborn brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, a startling truth becomes clear: some men will stop at nothing to get their hands on gold, and Kate’s quest for revenge may prove fatal.

I never intended to read Vengeance Road. I couldn't even make it through Bowman's Taken. And I'd already ready Walk on Earth a Stranger and Under a Painted Sky, both of which were YA westerns centered around the Gold Rush, so I felt I had little use for another, especially coming from an author I'd already had a bad experience with. But people kept raving about this book, and it was always checked out from the library, and I assumed there must be a reason for it.

There are definitely some similarities between the three books: murdered parents, vengeance, girls dressing as boys. But I think this book was the most violent of the three, and on one hand, I want to applaud it for some great shoot-out scenes, but on the did nothing to make the story better than the other two. I try not to compare books, instead allowing each book to stand on its own, but I also feel like the release of all three of these books in the same year was purposeful, and so maybe it's a little fair to make comparisons.

Amy Rubinate narrated this audiobook, and while I don't dislike her narrative style, it can be over-the-top at times. This is the first time I've heard her speak in the vernacular of the period, and it wasn't terrible.

Vengeance Road definitely has the prettiest cover of the three, but that's not enough to make it my favorite. I'm also not sure how I feel about a sequel in the works, since this book ended on a pretty satisfying note. I don't know if I would have liked this book more or less had I read it before the others, but I do know that as it stands, this was my least favorite.

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A long, hot summer...

That's what Macy has to look forward to while her boyfriend, Jason, is away at Brain Camp. Days will be spent at a boring job in the library, evenings will be filled with vocabulary drills for the SATs, and spare time will be passed with her mother, the two of them sharing a silent grief at the traumatic loss of Macy's father.

But sometimes, unexpected things can happen—things such as the catering job at Wish, with its fun-loving, chaotic crew. Or her sister's project of renovating the neglected beach house, awakening long-buried memories. Things such as meeting Wes, a boy with a past, a taste for Truth-telling, and an amazing artistic talent, the kind of boy who could turn any girl's world upside down. As Macy ventures out of her shell, she begins to question her sheltered life.

Is it really always better to be safe than sorry?

It's not summer without a Sarah Dessen...or two.

I'm slowly plodding my way through her backlist -- while throwing a re-read in here and there -- and I'm discovering new favorites along the way.

Her love interests are always terribly sa-woon-y, but Wes is definitely among my favorites. And I loved the catering crew, too. Might be one of my favorite casts of characters from her books, period. :)

Funny story...I heard someone say spinnerbait at a family gathering recently, and my first thought was HATE SPINNERBAIT, even though I'm almost 99% sure they were talking about fishing. ;0)

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Last year, Annabel was "the girl who has everything" — at least that's the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf's Department Store.

This year, she's the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong.

Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen's help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.

Thanks to my library, I've really been making it through some Sarah Dessen novels. I think there are only two or three that I haven't read yet. But I've read all of the ones I really wanted to get to. Including this one, which was high on my priority list because so many mention it as a fave of Dessen's novels.

And I understand why. With the focus on music and secrets and sisters and holding it all inside, this novel is entirely relatable. It definitely rivals The Truth About Forever for my fave Sarah Dessen novel. Plus, it's always nice to get glimpses of characters you know from her other stories.

As always, #hatespinnerbait. :D :D :D

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What if your town was sliding underwater and everyone was ordered to pack up and leave? How would you and your friends spend your last days together?

While the adults plan for the future, box up their possessions, and find new places to live, Keeley Hewitt and her friends decide to go out with a bang. There are parties in abandoned houses. Canoe races down Main Street. The goal is to make the most of every minute they still have together.

And for Keeley, that means taking one last shot at the boy she’s loved forever.

There’s a weird sort of bravery that comes from knowing there’s nothing left to lose. You might do things you normally wouldn’t. Or say things you shouldn’t. The reward almost always outweighs the risk.


It’s the end of Aberdeen, but the beginning of Keeley’s first love story. It just might not turn out the way she thought. Because it’s not always clear what’s worth fighting for and what you should let become a memory.

I live in a small, rural town on the edge of a major river. And I could see the events of this book playing out similarly where I live. The fight against turning the town into a lake would start out strong. Residents would rally and pretend that everything would go on the same as it always had, knowing it would all come to an end eventually, understanding that the battle was already lost before it had begun.

Despite that, this novel was still uplifting when it came down to it. Keeley was one of those unlikable characters that I just couldn't help but like. Because she makes mistakes. Because she's genuine and inevitably remorseful and just trying to do what she thinks is right. Yeah, she's selfish. And she turns a blind eye to everything until it's too late. But that's what makes her real and makes her realize what she really wants and needs.

This was the first Siobhan Vivian book I've read, but I have a feeling I'll be checking out her backlist soon.


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