“The Best Kind of Magic” by Crystal Cestari

There is so much that I loved about this book!! ‘Windy City Magic #1’ felt like a cozy mystery for teens and it was my JAM!!! Or you could look at it as Urban Fantasy/Romance for teens just the same. A couple of my little pet peeves showed up and made my eyeballs twitch a bit, but overall, I can’t wait for the second book! Or third or fourth! Let me first give a brief synopsis, and then I’ll cover my opinions:

25436641The Best Kind of Magic gives us a tour of all kinds of magic in the Windy City of Chicago. We see goblins, fairies, leprechauns, werewolves, vampires, sirens, and of course, witches. Amber Sand is a not a witch. Her mother is, but Amber is a matchmaker, meaning that she can look into people’s eyes and see their true love. One day, the mayor’s son (who is also the most talked-about boy in school) comes in to visit Amber at her mother’s shop, Windy City Magic, and requesting her help in finding his father’s missing girlfriend. Thus begins an adventure with romance, humor, bad guys, a twist and a turn and a to be continued in book 2!! (not a cliffhanger! This book wraps up nicely…..mostly.)

The first thing I liked about this book was the genre feel. I am a sucker for a cozy mystery, I enjoy paranormal romances, and then put those things in a YA format….have I died and gone to heaven?! Almost too good to be true. I loved it. I wish there was more of this writing out there. So with this genre comes the characters. There was a good mix of humans and paranormals. I liked how Amber and her mother, and even their coven, had a certain struggle with Amber’s matchmaking talents. It was a very different and clever spin on the traditional “coming of age story” that you usually get in YA books and I really liked that. Amani (Amber’s best friend) has her own struggles with her magical gifts of being a precog. Their friendship in the book is wonderful, by the way. I just saw a meme the other day that went something like this:

Friend: Oh, I’m so sorry, what can I do?
Best friend: 1/2 price shakes at Sonic. Get your butt in the car, I’m driving!
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That’s the kind of friends Amber and Amani are. Partially because of their mystic powers and partially because they are comfortable and secure in their own selves (which other high school students find “weird” and “different” of course), the two friends are outcasts and have a very close friendship. Back on track. Charlie is a human and he does a great job taking in everything in the PRN world. You almost wonder every once in a while if he and his father have trace amounts of supernatural in their blood somewhere. Of course, the biggest wrench in the story comes when Amber sees that Charlie’s match is not her, but could she be wrong? That’s why we’re eagerly awaiting book 2!

Ok, I will speak of my one biggest pet peeves that occurred in this book: immature language. I hate when authors frequently use immature language. If you want to call it that. To me, its almost Valley Girl…rich snob…Pretty Little Liars…I barely hear kids talking like that and I work in a private high school myself. Granted, not in Chicago, but in Northern Illinois within 60 miles of Chicago. I do not hear students commonly using the words “natch” instead of natural (I’ve never heard that), or “cas” for casual (I have heard this, but not frequently). In the first 100 pages of the book when we are first meeting the characters, this kind of abbreviated language is EVERYWHERE. It DEFINES Amber’s personality and sense of humor. Toward the middle, it fades out and she is more just sarcastic and witty with Charlie but in the beginning, we are NOT talking to a lowly girl. I just didn’t see her as having that much of a consistent attitude. Ivy, the blonde cheerleader mean girl? For sure. But Amber? No. I hated that. I like to read full English words and sentences. Maybe that’s the adult in me reading a YA novel so excuse this paragraph if so. But I’m just saying. I HATE abbreviated teen-speak. Ugh! Not appropriate for books, IMO.

I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Soundtrack: “Dancing in the Street” by Martha and the Vandellas

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Upcoming Challenges & Readathons

All right, friends, I am charging ahead at full speed with my reading. I found myself some more mischief to get into (wink-wink). I’ll start small and get big.

20616344_992337268009_763503611_oSo first off, for this week, I am participating in the #Alphabethon . This is the third year for the event, which was created by @banterbooks. This round’s “theme” revolves around the letter C so all books should be connected to the letter C somehow. Author, character, title, setting, cover item, etc. There are seven challenges going on throughout the week as well as sprints being hosted through Twitter and overall it seems fun! I have already posted my TBR and completed one challenge (read a book in a location that begins with ‘C’ other than a couch for an hour…I read in my car).

For the first two weeks in August, I am participating in the #Unhaulathon . Since I am on a buying ban for this month, this is a great time for me to participate in a challenge and readathon like this. Basically, the goal of the readathon is to read books that have been on my TBR for over a year. The hosts encourage readers to then “unhaul” (give away, sell, trade, etc.) books once we finish them or decide we just won’t get around to reading them…but I doubt I will be going that far. I recently went through a culling of my shelves so I’m in a pretty good place. However, I do have plenty of books on my shelves to choose from and I do not need to buy more right now as much as all of the new releases (and old releases and just all books in general) I see are tempting. So that’s that. I have not come up with an “official” TBR for this readathon yet, though I plan to within the next couple of days.

The final event I am signed up for (so far) is ARC August. As the title suggests, this runs all month. I will dedicate a full post to this within the next few days as I round up the ARCs that I have that are “due” in August and early September that I will be prioritizing. I have a couple that I am really excited about. I will aim a little high, knowing that I probably won’t hit them all.

And there you have it, folks. That’s how August is rolling in! Let’s keep it strong, shall we? Game on!

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The Wrapping Up of All the Things

As always, the end of all things came too quickly. More specifically in this case #24in48, the Biannual Bibliothon, and even more significantly, JULY!! How did July get by us? I guess we say that every month. Ah, well. Time to wrap it all up.

o7f2dlnf_400x400To begin the recap, for #24in48, I completed my full 24 hours of reading plus just a little more and I felt so accomplished! In those 24 hours, I finished All Things New, and I came close to finishing Sarah Dessen’s Once and For All. I also made some progress on The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, but for whatever reason, that is a really slow read for me. It just doesn’t hold my interest very strongly.

dcj4gyko_400x400Next up was the weeklong Summer Biannual Bibliothon, which just wrapped up yesterday. My week was busier than I anticipated, unfortunately, but I did get some reading done and some books wrapped up. So during the Bibliothon, I finished Once and For All, I started a new cozy series (because they tend to keep me out of slumps and I am really anticipating fall!) called Curse the Day and I finished that book as well, I started and finished Erin Watt’s When It’s Real, and I have been reading First We Were IV and When I am Through With You. So that’s 3 finished and 2 progressed through. All things considered, I’m pretty happy with that!

And now for the overall July breakdown:

★★★★★ The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana

★★★★ Hook’s Tale: Being the Account of an Unjustly Villainized Pirate Written by Himself by John Leonard Pielmeier

★★★★ When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

★★★★ All Things New by Lauren Miller

★★★ Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

★★★★ Curse the Day by Annabel Chase

★★★★ When It’s Real by Erin Watt

So that’s it, folks. 7 books total finished for the month. 3 of them were ARC’s read before their publication dates. Average rating = 4.0

Its so weird for me to be reading so many contemporaries. As I mentioned earlier, I was craving that cozy/witchy mystery with fall coming up because I just felt a slump coming on and I think it is partially because of the genres I’m reading. I tend to read more YA contemporary romance in the summertime. It just feels right to me. I’m glad that I have been because I have been finding some gems and obviously, from the ratings above, I recommend them as well! Until next time, I also highly recommend finding yourself a readathon or two to participate in. It boosted my reading from 4-5 books read per month to 7! Sure it takes a little organization if you are going to commit and there are optional challenges you can participate in but they are all in good fun. Goodluck and as always, happy reading!

Currently watching: “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”

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Day 4 Blogger Challenge ~ Biannual Bibliothon

How did we make it to day 4 already?! We’re basically halfway through the week!! Yikes! For today we’re talking about a book or books that we gave less than 3 stars. I want to back up to a book I read before I had a blog for this because I think its a bit redundant to reblog about a book I already blogged about. So I’m consulting my Goodreads reviews (thank heavens for Goodreads, right??) for some juicy negative reviews…

28962906Book: Stalking Jack the Ripper

Read: November 22, 2016

Rating: 2 stars

My Review: Please don’t hate me. I was really looking forward to this one and then to me, this was just a flop. “Audrey Rose”/”Wadsworth” was so snobby and easily offended it just drove me insane. Thomas was okay but his character seemed shallow to me. It took me forever to read this book because I was BORED. See also: predictable. I got into the ending a little bit, and the asylum visit was exciting. But otherwise…meh. If this was just a first in series, I really, really, really, REALLY hope this picks up. I like the premise and the setting but MAN did I dislike this first installment!! I’m so bummed!

15748293Book: Eighty Days Yellow

Read: March 25, 2017

Rating: 1 star

My review: There are not many books that I have given 1 or 2 stars to but this is one of those few. Even though I saw that this book had relatively poor ratings, I still had a bit of hope for it because it was a “steamy romance” and the main characters were a) a professor so he should be smart, right? and b) a musician so she should be interesting, right? Well, yes, that was sort of true. But it just wasn’t true enough to float the book and save the rating. The music part in the beginning was interesting for me as a musician myself. I enjoyed that. Then of course its all sex, sex, sex and drama, drama, drama for the other 65% of the book. Now speaking of the drama, it happens…..and then it drops dead. Nothing really resolves. Charlotte just sort of disappears after Dominick gives her her “scene”…there isn’t a big hissy fit and “we’re done forever” big breakup resolution moment. Whatever happens with Victor? Summer and Dominick find each other and then leave each other and the book ends and then that’s it? Uhhhh……yeah. NO connection. NO romance. NO nothing. 1 star.

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So there you have it, folks. My day 4 post. If you are curious, I am currently listening to When its Real by Erin Watt and reading First We Were IV by Alexandra Sirowy for the Bibliothon. I also just started When I Am Through With You on my iPad. 

♫ Listening to: “Stone Cold” by Demi Levato

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Day 3 Blogger Challenge ~ Biannual Bibliothon

Today’s challenge is (dun dun DUNNNN!!!) the Villain Synopsis. This one is hosted by Dominique at Pirates and Pixie Dust and this one is, indeed, a doozie. The directions are:

1️⃣ Pick a book you love

2️⃣Imagine that the story was written from the antagonists perspective.

3️⃣Rewrite the books synopsis from the VILLAINS point of view.

So I think I’m going to choose “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.” Cliche but….I don’t want to do a fairy tale because there are SO many fairy tale villain tellings and a lot of YA villains aren’t very strong. In HP, however, we all know how that goes.

Synopsis:

P-p-p-poor St-st-st-stuttering P-p-rofessor Quirrell. Oh, they have no idea what I can do. How strong I am. Who I came across in the woods one stormy day last summer and how he would change my life forever. As a professor at Hogwarts, I went about my days teaching students and going about my seemingly average life. However, I always knew I was destined for great things. Ever since my days as a student at Hogwarts when I first heard about the dark arts, I felt them tingling in my bones and just knew I was fated to be a servant of the Dark Lord. But then he found me, and my fate would never be the same….

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#24in48 Read-a-thon Wrap-up

Hello everyone!!! As of about 10:15pm this evening I hit my goal of 24 hours of reading!! I know this because I used the BookOut app to track the books I was reading on my iPad as well as my physical books, plus I added those totals to the times in my audiobook and voila! 24 hours and counting!

So here’s what exactly I finished reading:

  • All Things New* by Lauren Miller (a NetGalley ARC)
  • Once and for All* by Sarah Dessen (review will be posted tomorrow morning)
  • Curse the Day by Annabel Chase

And I made some progress in The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley. The books with an asterisk* I had already started reading, and I just finished them during the read-a-thon.

Here are the wrap-up questions posted by Rachel, Kristen, and Kerry:

  1. How many books did you read? Pages? (If you didn’t keep track, tell me that too!) Not sure about exact page #, but I finished 3 books and was working on a 4th.
  2. How many hours did you read? I read for +24 hours! Close to 25.
  3. What do you think worked well in this readathon? Using the hashtag on social media, especially Twitter.
  4. What do you think could be done to improve the readathon for next time? Instagram could be more active.
  5. Will you participate in a future 24in48 readathon? Absolutely!

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Let the Summer Biannual Bibliothon Begin

6b602617cb4c30652a0f969cee83cbc0Its finally here. We now embark on this Bibliothon, which lasts an entire week, so hopes are high that much reading will get done! Already the BB team has prompts up for the full week for our blogs and social media accounts so you better believe I’m trying to keep ahead of the game because that means more time for reading! So for day 1 we have a Book Blogger Tag hosted by Nana @4teenliars :

Blogger Book Tag Questions:
1. What are you planning to read for the Summer Biannual Bibliothon?
. “Once and For All,” “The Watchmaker of Filigree Street,” “The Flame in the Mist,” “First We Were IV,” “Windy City Magic,” “Dividing Eden”
2. What is your favourite genre to read in Summer?
. I tend to read more contemporary books in summer than the rest of the year, especially in audiobook format. I also try to read at least one full series each summer.
3.Where is your favourite place to read in the summer?
. I enjoy reading outside whenever possible. I love the summer air, the birds singing, the wind in the trees
4.What is your favourite challenge done in the Summer Biannual Bibliothon?
. I like tags and group reads. They require me to think, but not too much. Usually my brain is so focused on reading that I need a break, but not too much of a distraction.
5.What fictional character would you hang out in the summer if you could?
. Katniss or Luna
6.What are your plans for summer?
. Currently I’m unemployed (sad) so all I’m doing is applying for jobs (boring) and reading (fun!)
7.Do you have summer reading playlist, If not what would be on it?
. Mostly I use a playlist that someone made for Dewey’s 24-hour read-a-thon. Its 24-hours of amazing music for reading and I LOVE it!!
8.What is your favourite summer movie?
. Always the Marvel movies. I still haven’t decided how I feel about the DC characters yet.
9.What book do you read every summer, if not what thing do you do every summer?
. Go camping with family and/or friends.
10.What other book tags are you planning to do this summer?

Honestly I’m new with the tags so I just plan to do what I come across.

If you’re curious and interested in joining the Biannual Bookathon, check them out on Twitter @BBibliothon or Instagram @BiannualBibliothon !

Sing on!

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24 in 48 Read-a-thon

We interrupt your regularly scheduled set of preparations for the Bibliothon next week to participate in the 24 in 48 Read-a-thon! This event is a perfect prelude to the Bibliothon, in my opinion, and I’ve been really looking forward to it! I love these marathon events that give me an excuse to block out the rest of the world for a full weekend, stay up late at night, and then snuggle up all day and just do nothing but READ!!! So that is my plan!

The goal of 24 in 48 is to keep track of the amount of time that you’re (I’m) reading and reach a total of 24 hours over the 48-hour span of the weekend. At this time, I’m listening to an audiobook recording of Sarah Dessen’s “Once and For All” so that pretty much keeps track for me. My other resource for this is an app I recently found called BookOut. Its pretty sweet. You can input whatever book you are reading and then keep track of your pages read, quotes you like, and time spent reading. Its pretty sweet. As of right now, the free version has tons of pop-up ads but whatever. I haven’t decided that I’ll use it enough to pay $4.99 for the full version yet.

So for now, I will leave you with what I am currently working on reading for the RAT. I am hoping to finish at least one if not all of these over the course of this event so I can move on to bigger and better things for the Bibliothon.

 

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Royalty Readathon + “Wires and Nerve” by Marissa Meyer

royalty-readathonSo first off, let me just announce that this week I have been participating in the Royalty Readathon! This readathon is being hosted by Kati (@toberead) and her gang. I applaud Kati’s enthusiasm for getting this up and running and her theme is so unique, its just been super fun to stick with the “royals” theme. I’ve been making some good progress (much better than the last RAT I did….oops….!!) and I’ve finished 2 books already!! So a big shoutout and thanks to Kati for everything she’s doing and I wish her all the success and growth in future reading and readathons!!

wiresThen, of course, I finished Wires and Nerve, which is Marissa Meyer’s graphic novel. It is set right after the the end of the Lunar Chronicles books so yes, you should finish Winter before you pick up this book. I had never read a graphic novel (nor a comic book nor anything of the sort) before this so I was skeptical about whether I would be able to even figure this out but it was fine. I even really enjoyed it!! The story is written from Iko’s point of view and between Iko and Thorne (who gets a lot of book time), this novel had me literally laughing out loud! Of course there is conflict and all of the heroes make their appearances but the humor and adorability factor is high. I absolutely loved seeing these characters come to life!! I was in no way disappointed. And the book is very much set up for book #2 so I am very highly anticipating that. Marissa Meyer, don’t keep us waiting too long!

Listening to: “Colors in Space” by Explosions in the Sky

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