The Winter Witch by Paula Brackston

15702859Title: The Winter Witch

Author: Paula Brackston

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

Publication Date: January 2013

Pages: 340

Genre: Young Adult Historical/Fantasy

Book Summary (from Goodreads)

In her small Welsh town, there is no one quite like Morgana. She has never spoken, and her silence as well as the magic she can’t quite control make her a mystery. Concerned for her safety, her mother quickly arranges a marriage with Cai Bevan, the widower from the far hills who knows nothing of the rumours that swirl around her. After their wedding, Morgana is heartbroken at leaving, but she soon falls in love with Cai’s farm and the rugged mountains that surround it, while slowly Cai himself begins to win her heart. It’s not long, however, before her strangeness begins to be remarked upon in her new village. A dark force is at work there—a person who will stop at nothing to turn the townspeople against Morgana, even at the expense of those closest to her. Forced to defend her home, her love, and herself from all comers, Morgana must learn to harness her power, or she will lose everything.


I wanted to like this book. I really, really did. The premise sounded intriguing, it was historical with some magic, set in Wales, had witches and romance and seemed like a great novel. And it wasn’t bad. Not really. It was just very. very. s  l  o  w.

It starts off well enough. We’re introduced to the slightly mysterious Morgana the day she is to be wed to a man she’s barely met. She doesn’t speak, and there is a hint that there may be something magical about her. Despite her silence, she has very strong opinions about many things. The character is one that starts out likable, and one I wanted to get to know better. The problem was that I don’t feel like I ever did.

Cai, the man who marries her, is another character that we want to like. He actually seems a little easier to “get to know” than Morgana. I don’t know if that’s because he talks, or because of the way his narration is done, or if its just me. That being said, he never develops as much as I’d like either.

Their relationship is set up to have problems. Its an arranged marriage, he does it because he has to in order to keep his position in town, she does it because her mother talks her into it. They both dance around each other for what seems like hundreds of pages. She can’t talk. He doesn’t understand. She acts like a stubborn child, then feels bad, he forgives her though he’s not sure why she did it.

I actually skimmed and skipped most of the middle of the book. The themes of misunderstanding and guilt and more misunderstanding, mixed in with some comments about how much they are beginning to like the other, are overdone for me. What I’m sure was meant to be a slow build up of a relationship just fell flat. The ending wasn’t bad, but some of the twists are easy to see, and the very ending seems totally unlikely. Enough that I had a hard time feeling horror or threatened at all. The villain and the reasons behind it are very loosely done. For a long time you aren’t really sure if her motives are what you think, and they are easy to figure out. I had a hard time buying into them, personally, so it made it difficult to feel anything for the villain.

Their romance is sweet, and the end is definitely a Happily Ever After, but I must admit to being disappointed by this book. If you enjoy slow romance, with a little magic mixed in, this is a good one. Otherwise, you might want to steer clear.


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Accordance by Shelly Crane

12667194Title: Accordance

Author: Shelly Crane

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: Sept 2011

Pages: 314

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance

Book Summary (from Goodreads)

In the sequel, Maggie learns much more about all the strange things that happened to her, and has to face new ones. She rebels against it, but ultimately, must face it for her new families sake and maybe even her life. Bish went from being her biggest supporter to her biggest pain in the butt and Kyle’s intentions to attract her interest may not be so innocent. Caleb and Maggie face many new obstacles together and fight to work through them but will one that should be a good thing be too much for Maggie to handle?


I read Shelly Crane’s SIGNIFICANCE awhile ago, and couldn’t decide whether to continue the story or not. ACCORDANCE is a fun, quick read, and I recommend it if you enjoyed the first book.

This time, the book picks up exactly where book one left off (like, exactly) which is actually kind of nice. As long as you don’t need a super huge refresher on what already happened, its great to just jump right back into the story. I enjoy Caleb and Maggie, though some of the same sort of story line appears here. I like the more detailed look at Bish and his interaction. Anyone who reads this knows where the story with Bish is going. (I’m not saying more than that. Honestly, if you read the end of the first book and didn’t guess it, I’d be surprised.) there is a twist involved that I’m interested in seeing how the author deals with that.

Maggie becomes this amazing thing in the story, and it becomes integral to her life as an Ace. And while its a cool thing, it also makes it hard to believe that she’s really and truly vulnerable, outside of Caleb. She can do all these things, and while that takes time to control, she’s still really helpless at times, which drives me nuts. The way her gift affects others is, however, a really nice touch and gives the gift a “downside,” which helps even things out a bit.

Caleb is too good to be true, but you can’t help but like him. The book is pretty predictable, and the few twists that were there, you can almost guess as soon as it pops up. There are a few surprises, and they are good ones.

I don’t know if I will continue to read the rest of the series or not. I feel as indifferent as I did last time. It was enjoyable, but a bit of a fluff read for me. If you want a quick beach read, go for it!



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The Funeral Singer by Linda Budzinski

18276977Title: The Funeral Singer

Author: Linda Budzinski

Publisher: Swoon Romance

Publication Date: Sept 2013

Pages: 188

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance

Book Summary (from Goodreads)

Being a funeral singer was a dead-end job until it led her to him … Seventeen-year-old Melanie Martin has witnessed her share of lame eulogies and uninspired epitaphs while singing part-time at her dad’s funeral home. She’s determined to be more than a funeral singer, more than just someone’s “beloved wife” or “loving mother.” When Mel’s impromptu rendition of “Amazing Grace” at a local rock star’s graveside service goes viral on YouTube, she becomes an Internet sensation, gains thousands of fans and followers, and snags a hot rock star boyfriend–Zed Logan, bass player for The Grime. But instant fame isn’t easy—and neither is love. Especially when Mel realizes she’s falling for another guy—one who may just want her heart more than her voice …


I had looked at the description for this book several times, but hadn’t decided on buying it because I am not usually a contemporary young adult genre reader. When Mrs. Budzinski contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in reviewing the novel, I took it as a sign and jumped in.

The premise itself is really intriguing. A teenage girl who sings at her father’s funeral parlor getting discovered? That has the potential to be a wild combination. And it was. I enjoyed Melanie’s character (though, I must admit, I kind of wanted her to be smacked by the time the ending came around) and the way that she changes over the course of the novel. She isn’t perfect. She’s a typical teenager who lets fame and notoriety go to her head. I work with teenagers, and I can totally see them acting like this.

She forgets who she is, and in the end she has to deal with what she has allowed herself to become. In the process she finally sees that it isn’t all about her all the time. Which I was thrilled about. By the time the end of the book rolled around, you want her to get that comeuppance. I like that the author puts the reader in a position that is much like what you would imagine her friends, Lana and especially Peter, are in. She’s their friend, but she damages her relationship with them and then has to fix it. I do wish there had been a little more of that in the end, with Peter in particular. That relationship needed fixed, and I didn’t feel like it was dealt with at the end of the book.

The romance portion of the novel is important and tied into Melanie’s behavior and eventual downfall. You see where it is headed from the halfway point on. It’s just a matter of waiting to see when Melanie is going to realize what happened. Without giving too much away, I enjoyed the twist that it took, though it was a little bit out of left field for me. That is probably a personal preference. Highlight between the astericks for a spoiler – skip if you don’t want to know!


Her attraction to Bruno is another case of the snarky, jerky boy getting the girl in the end and he suddenly becomes “softer.” In this case, I can overlook that characteristic which usually irritates me because his behavior makes sense after the loss of his band mate and friend.


Anyway – the book is a great read for anyone who enjoys contemporary YA romance and wants to read something fun. Definitely check it out! Looking forward to whatever Budzinski puts out next!


Where to Find the Book



Book was provided by author/publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

6068551Title: Shiver

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Publisher: Scholastic

Publication Date: August 2009

Pages: 392

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Book Summary (from back cover)

Grace has spent years watching the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf – her wolf – watches back. He feels deeply familiar to her, but she doesn’t know why.

Sam has lived two lives. as a wold, he keeps the silent company of the girl he loves. And then, for a short time each year, he is human, never daring to talk to Grace…until now.

For Grace and Same, love has always been kept at a distance. But once it’s spoken, it cannot be denied. Sam must fight to stay human – and Grace must fight to keep him – even if it means taking on the scars of the past, the fragility of the present, and the impossibility of the future.


Every so often, a book surprises you, and at the same time makes the author in me want to curl up and die because I will never, NEVER, be able to write prose like this. SHIVER was one such book. I can count on one hand the number of books that have made me cry.

I love Grace and Sam and their story. I love the way Maggie Stiefvater uses words to draw you in. She sprinkles poetry throughout the book, but her prose sparkles just as much as the poetry. It sparkles, and describes, and make you see the characters inside and out. They grow, and change, and their interactions and connection are believable and connect with you.

I know most of the world has probably already read this. I’m so, so sorry I missed out on it when it first started, but I can promise I will read all her books soon. I hadn’t read this sooner because all I heard was werewolf, and had read several werewolf stories that just didn’t do it for me. So I passed. But this is a whole other category. Her take on the wolves and why they change and how is fresh and unique and heartbreaking. Sam is a tragic character, and yet you never pity him, because he never pities himself. Grace is also a broken character, in a different way, and yet together they make a whole picture.

The characters in the novel are all separate, distinct people who have their own growth patterns. I enjoyed that while Isabel is still the snotty rich kid, you see that there’s probably a reason, and that she has hidden depths as well. Grace is not perfect. She’s too ananlytical sometimes, but she knows it, and she doesn’t try to change it. The characters are self-aware because they’ve had to be, and they don’t change themselves for the sake of romance or what they think they want. The change and grow with their circumstances, but still stay true to who they are.

There are some twists, but they help to make the whole picture better, and give it even more depth than before.

And did I mention that the prose is amazing. Her descriptions are perfect, and I just want to highlight the whole book over and over while lamenting that my writing will never be up to par.

I love these books. I don’t care if you hate paranormal and magic and fantasy. Go read them. The characters will curl in your chest and then make you cry. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series. I got this one from the library. I’ll be ordering the whole set tonight on Amazon.

An amazing book, which (if you can’t tell) I loved.


Where to Find the Book



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Book was purchased by reviewer.