Exciting Book Releases Summer 2020

Summer might not be the same, but the book releases are? Hopefully? I made a similiar post for Spring 2020, which cut off in April and is why May suddenly became considered summer by accident.

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Release date: 5. May

Why I want to read it: I was impressed by the writing of Acevedo when I read ‘The Poet X’

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

Release date: 5. May

Why I want to read it: I’m really interested in reading more young adult books with trans main character, tbh. And it seems to have been received so well by other book blogs!

The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

Release date: 5. May

Why I want to read it: I mean, that title. I’m promised sapphic pirates, so I’m on-board, even if it hasn’t been getting the best ratings so far.

This Coven Won’t Break by Isabel Sterling #2

My review of These witches don’t burn (book one)

Release date: 19. May

Why I want to read it: The first book in the series gave me all the queer witches it promised!

The State of Us by Shaun David Hutchinson

Release date: 2. June

Why I want to read it: I have a hit or miss record with Hutchinson’s books, but I really like him as an author. Also this gay book with the son of a democrat and son of a republican falling in love is being compared to the other gay president/royal book ‘Red, White and Royal Blue’ that I truly loved.

Loveless by Alice Oseman

Release date: 9. June

Why I want to read it: Oseman is one of my fav authors, I’ve read so many of her other books! And really excited to read what seems like a very personal book, with an asexual-aromantic main character. I’ve seen Oseman seemingly struggle while writing this book, and crossing my fingers it was worth it and turned out like she wanted it to.

Honorary Mention:

I wondered whether to mention Midnight Sun, the 5th long-awaited book in the Twilight series by Stepenie Meyer. ‘I’m never going to read this thing’ I thought, but then I remembered the big chance I’m going to meet one of my childhood friends this summer, where we both were sooo into Twilight growing up. And if so, I have to buy and bring with me this book, there’s no way to avoid it. We have to bash it together. For old times sake.

Also funfact; when the movies came out and also the non-readers of the friendgroup got their eyes up for it, everyone was very into one character, except me. ‘Like Edward was better than Jacob as a love interest in the books, I guess. Why does she even have to be with one of these guys?’, was kind of the vibe. But of course – I just really liked Kristen Stewart/Bella Swan the whole time, without realizing. And that’s on #bisexuality, with a major leaning towards girls.

Once A Witch | Book Review

Genre: YA Paranormal with witches

Pages: 290

Synopsis

“Your daughter will be one of the most powerful we have ever seen in this family. She will be a beacon for us all.”

Tamsin Greene comes from a long line of witches, and on the day she was born, her grandmother proclaimed she would be one of the most Talented among them. But Tamsin’s magic never showed up. Now, seventeen years later, she spends most of her time at boarding school in Manhattan, where she can at least pretend to be normal. But during the summers, she’s forced to return home and work at her family’s bookstore/magic shop.

One night a handsome young professor from New York University arrives in the shop and mistakes Tamsin for her extremely Talented older sister. For once, it’s Tamsin who’s being looked at with awe and admiration, and before she can stop herself, she agrees to find a family heirloom for him that was lost more than a century ago. But the search – and the stranger – prove to be more sinister than they first appeared, ultimately sending Tamsin on a treasure hunt through time that will unlock the secret of her true identity, unearth the past sins of her family, and unleash a power so strong and so vengeful that it could destroy them all.

My thoughts

My rating: two out of five stars

All you expect to happen in this book – it does happen. That’s it. The villain is obvious from the start, and then makes his plans clear and that’s the plot. I kept reading this book waiting for a surprising twist that I felt never came. The world and magic, with each family member having their own power, was cool, but never really used to its full potential. I didn’t expect the time travel, but even that wasn’t exciting as a part of this story.

As for the main character, Tamsin, she made the book start out great with a real insight in how much she hates being the only one without powers in her family and being treated as an outsider because of it. But that whole problem quickly disappears along with Tamsin’s uniqueness.

“We were playing a game,” he mutters. This used to be one of Gwyneth’s favorite defense lines whenever the adults found any of us coated in ice, our lips blue with frost. “You were playing,” I snap. “She wasn’t.” I present the bear to the tear-stained child, who regards me doubtfully with big brown eyes. “You’re just jealous,” he mutters. “Because you can’t do anything.” Before I can stop myself, I whip the toy back from the toddler’s hesitant fingers and mash it over the boy’s head a few more times. 

Once a witch (p. 33)

Also the guys are written strangely? I wouldn’t recommend this book. The first 50 pages was quite promising, and then it just went so far downhill.

I found the worst book as I tried to purge my TBR

Back in June I took a look at my too long list of books I wanted to read, with 432 books, and then I took a look at the single last postponed exam I had that held me back from doing anything other productive – and I decided that time was short and I would pick up books I wasn’t sure about and quickly stop reading them with no guilt if they weren’t working. As to make it both unfair and fair way – my goal was to read one to three chapters of a book and make a decision if it’s worth investing the time in it for me. It went better than expected, as I found the worst and best book of this year. Probably.

And the worst book is Sweet Evil. Just – christian paranormal with extremely bad writing and damaging viewpoints and morals. Why – how – why does this have to be a thing I now have to worry about is infecting my TBR now? Any YA demon-angel book I’m giving suspicious glares, like a bloodhound trying to sniff out hidden unfeministic christian propaganda.

Books I DNF’ed

Defiance by C. J. Redwine

Remove. Been on my TBR for four years. Part of trilogy. YA dystopia.

Why: I’m not often in the mood for dystopias anymore, the writing was just ok and all reviews by people I follow says it’s more YA romance than action, despite its dark cover. The main turn-off was the protagonist starts off in the book being handed over to another guardian, obviously with little rights and not allowed to say much on her own. With the context it all didn’t seem like it would be for me.

Fighting for Flight by J.B. Salsbury

Remove. NA romance. Part of a seven book series. Been on my TBR for four years.

Why: I was 48% in before I gave up, it just didn’t get better at all. Why was this even on my TBR? Probably because I read a similar fighter tense romance that I liked around that time. I can’t bring myself to care for these characters & when *slight spoiler* the mechanic girl protagonist is again taken interest in by her famous pimp dad the story became annoyingly surreal. Also there’s A TON of putting other girls down for being “too slutty” and I want to write a whole post on this because that’s something that just makes me go “ohh fuck you” and that I’ve seen too much of.

He motions to the dark- haired girl with gigantic breasts shoved into a tiny top. Won’t have to worry about her sinking in the pool. 

Fighting for Flight by J. B. Salsbury
*facepalm*

Outrun the wind by Elizabeth Tammi

Remove. YA standalone. Been on my TBR for a year.

Why: Chapter three and I’m not feeling it. We started out the book with a fight scene no one was invested in, then switched pov for a scene to create some mystery with a cousin/kidnapper. The writing isn’t for me.

Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins

Remove. Stopped reading after I felt my eyes burning at the virgin talk. Been on my TBR for four years. I got to chapter eight.

Why: HOW does this get so good reviews? This book is SO VERY christian paranormal where the virgin «not-like-other-girls» girl finds out she’s nephilim, meets a demon and SO MUCH cringy dialogue. Her own thoughts are so weird to follow. It’s so much worse than Twilight and the parts I’ve read of Fifty Shades of Gray. THE PROTAGONIST IS KILLED IF SHE CONTINUES TO BE A VIRGIN? WHAT KIND OF AWFUL DAMAGING SHIT IS THIS? Find your propaganda to not stray from the lord’s path and not do drugs or hook up with handsome biker-demon/nephilim-boys elsewhere.

A sixteen-year-old Neph virgin! How do you expect to be a bad influence to humans if you aren’t behaving badly yourself? I assume you at least partake in substances with your peers?

The Demon Dad of Handsome-Nephilim-Crush to the Protagonist

The Summoning by Kelly Armstrong

Remove. YA Paranormal. Been on my TBR for four years. Got to chapter five.

Why: I’m just not interested in this one, not that it necessarily seem like a bad book. Maybe I’ve read enough books with girls who can see ghosts and are claimed to be insane? The writing isn’t luring me in and also books or anything set in a psychiatric ward isn’t usually for me.

Wicked lovely by Melissa Marr

Remove. Been on my TBR half a year. I got 20% into the book.

Why: Nothing is happening. Nothing. How slow can a book be, especially at the beginning? That’s all I have to say, really, which makes it better than some of the others here, haha.

Books I Continued

(Don’t You) Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn

KEEP! This is what I’m talking about! Standalone YA fantasy. Been on my TBR for four years.

Why I’m continuing reading it: the moment I read a couple pages I was so drawn in and intrigued by where the story was going. Halfway the mystery is still kept up, the writing allows for just the right amount of confusion, secrets and tension. I’ve never seen amnesia, self-made through drugs or not, written in a better way! So excited for this!

Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Continue reading. YA paranormal. Part of trilogy. Been on my TBR for four years.

Why: a mysterious professor that needs help, the protagonist a misfit among her witch family as she has no powers and they keep reminding her. I was sold after the 2nd chapter, ending with the protagonist hitting a child with a teddybear as he used his powers to keep it from a toddler, which seemed like a regular occurence in this strange family. The writing is good with a lot of feeling shown in between the lines.

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Continue reading. YA Fantasy. Been on my TBR for maybe a couple months (I don’t really know how long). Currently eight chapters into it.

Why: It started out a bit original and hopeful, but then again nothing happened as we fell down the hole of human and elf is travelling to a elven court and just talking with each other. Aside from that, the author definitely got talent and while the book feels very unfinished, it also have a few interesting parts so far.

Conclusion

I really enjoyed this, besides the really bad books I ran into. I think (Don’t you) Forget About Me is going to be a favourite read this year! In general the concept just felt so effective and brought less guilt than usual of DNF’ing books or saying they’re just not for me anymore. Hopefully I’ll do this again, even though it required more than the usual review. It felt good to be more ruthless about my “maybe” reads if it also meant giving them a chance I wouldn’t otherwise have.

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling | Review #PrideLibrary19 🌈

I’ve already made a post of queer girls YA book recommendations, if you’re looking for a list of f/f romances. So today, let’s give a review of a new release with more than one f/f romance, that I read and enjoyed very much this month.

The Pride Library 2019 Challenge is hosted by Library Looter, Anniek’s Library and Michelle Likes Things. Join in on it anytime or link your post in the comments so I see it! Also all reviews I’ve written will be linked.

Genre: YA urban fantasy, with lesbian witch protagonist and at least three other lesbian/bi girls, trans minor character.

Pages: 336

Synopsis

Hannah’s a witch, but not the kind you’re thinking of. She’s the real deal, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she’s ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly by Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans. 

But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah’s concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire. Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah’s sure it’s the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.

While the pair attempt to smoke out the Blood Witch at a house party, Hannah meets Morgan, a cute new ballerina in town. But trying to date amid a supernatural crisis is easier said than done, and Hannah will have to test the limits of her power if she’s going to save her coven and get the girl, especially when the attacks on Salem’s witches become deadlier by the day.

My thoughts

Rating: I’ve never had a book be more of a 3.5 out of five stars. I’m giving it a four star because it made me smile so much and was filled with small relatable moments for its queer girls.

I went into this book expecting fun, dramatic moments, a city of witches, covens arguing and lots of lesbians. I got it all. I really liked the protagonist and the voice and writing of this book. The title is so awesome and I was so excited to find out how literal it was, the magic in this book started interesting enough, but then the limits of it was never explored much or explained.

The way the main character’s witch family was incorporated isn’t something you see a lot in YA fantasy and I really liked it. It also annoyed me how the author made them very much go out of their way at the beginning to not see the signs of trouble their daughter did, so that it led to the typical scenario of the main character having to – on her own – investigate if new witches that meant harm had arrived.

My fav thing: Hannah and Veronica’s relationship/friendship, having grown up together and then become a couple and now exes. How they know each other very well and constantly edged the line between it being suspensful & teasing and manipulating. Also how Hannah resolves this in the end, while there also being a love for each other that comes up throughout the whole book. Don’t expect a cute f/f romance book, but it has those moments as well. Friendships in general are a really strong influence in this book and I love that.

It was towards the last half this book dropped to a three stars with the predictable plot and suddenly having to tie everything together to set up for a sequel. But I have my hopes up that it’s going to be great as well, if a bit nervous that the ball is going to be dropped again on the character development and special moments in favour of following a strict plot.

Fav quotes *spoilers below at own risk*

“You and I are going to scry for the Blood Witch.” I pour the water into the bowl and set it on my desk. “That’s why I had you bring your grimoire.” “This is ridiculous.” Veronica reaches into her bag and pulls out her personal Book of Shadows. “Why can’t you be a normal ex and post angry poetry online?”

The Wicked Deep | Book Review

Genre: fantasy, witches, small-town

Pages: 310

Synopsis

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow… Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters. But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

My thoughts

Rating out of five: three

Let’s start with how great the writing was! I really liked it, simple and elegant. Right at the beginning the story really defines itself, the magical realism vibes associated with small-town witches. The setting of the town Sparrow is great and the myth built up around it. The protagonist Penny lives on an island separated from the town, and it really felt like a special place. Much of this laid on the writing, but also the character and the mysteries of the plot being built up and the secrets of the town.

Intertwined with Penny’s story is the story of the three Swan sisters being accused of being witches two hundred years prior, after arriving into the town and how the city goes after them. The city are still haunted by their murders, especially during the Swan festival in the summer.

My big problem with the story was the twist and how it didn’t work because it completely broke with the expectations built up, not just plot-wise, but the characters suddenly changed. In a way that immediately made the story lose its magic. The mystery/plot-twist was maybe resolved to quickly? The pace really changed? It can’t really be character development if we don’t see the development? Looking at you, Bo. (I really adore that name btw.) I could see the twist coming, even if it wasn’t what I was expecting, because people were acting really weird to the point where what was supposed to be “foreshadowing” really bothered me as flaws while reading the book.

If you’re looking for a great summer read about small-town witches and a bit of mystery, with cute characters and settings like an island, lighthouse and bonding over an abandoned orchard being brought back to life – I would recommed to give it a try. But it will be very taste-based how people like it, especially the ending.

SPOILERS: the moment I knew the ending

Or plot-twist, rather.

“It’s our town’s penance,” I say. “We drowned three girls in the ocean two centuries ago, and we’ve suffered for it every summer since. We can’t change it.” “But why don’t people just move away?” “Some have, but the families who’ve been here the longest choose to stay. Like it’s an obligation they must endure.” 


Penny just never associated herself with the town or its “obligation” in such a strong “we” kind of way. Having her established as such a strong character voice early on, which also was much more likeable than what she became, was a problem as well as what I adored about the book.

The fear rimming our eyes. But if he knew the truth—what I see what I peer through Olivia Greene, the creature hidden inside. If he knew the things that haunt my waking dreams. If he saw what I saw. If he saw. He’d leave this is- land and never come back. He’d leave this town. And I don’t want to be alone on the island again. There have only ever been ghosts here, shadows of people that once were, until he arrived. I can’t lose him. So I don’t tell him. 

The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton | Review

Pages: 270

Genre: young adult fantasy, witch

Synopsis

A century ago, Rona Blackburn made Anathema Island her home. She was a witch and her neighbors didn’t want help from her skills. Fear led the original eight settlers to turn against her, which led Rona to curse them. A century later Nor Blackburn is still living with the remnats of that curse, she doesn’t want to be a witch and her mother is horrible. Or was, before she disappeared. Her mother has a special control of people, that Nor doesn’t want to have inherited. As her powers seem to grow and signs of her disappeared mother is everywhere again, Nor tries to be a normal teenager, as long as it will last.

 

The Audiobook

The narrator Whitney Dykhouse did a great job, and her voice is very calming, but also brings out tension and perfect for the varying tone of this book, which switched quickly betwen light to dark and calm to trouble. 

 

My thoughts

Rating out of five: two

to

I started this book wanting to like it. The plot sounded a bit average, but I liked the originality brought in Leslye Walton’s other book “The strange and beautiful sorrows of ava lavender”. “The price guide to the occult” is a fantastic name and the book is full of witches, living on an island and their magical abilities starting to fade with each generation. I should love this book. I didn’t, for a series of reasons.

the writing and plot

The book started out great, with vivid descriptions of the inhabitants of the island, mainly the history of Nor’s family of witches. The writing changed as more “action”, mainly Nor being a teenager and noticing a few a bit out of the place things, were happening. It was obvious in what direction the plot was going, but I was waiting for a surprise, some kind of twist or creative addition. It didn’t come. There were a few bright moments, where I really felt Nor’s and her friend’s emotion was conveyed well. I almost felt that near the end, where Nor is taken in for questioning, was the highlight. It was funny, which would’ve been a nice twist on a much used story of powerful witch trying to take over the world.

the setting

Aside from the introduction that is basically separate from the whole rest of the book, I got to know barely anything about this island the whole plot was bound to. Things like the forest coming alive could’ve been done better.

the characters

I couldn’t buy into the characters either, the main character Nor has some fears that make her more real, but she over-justifies even those. The first time I heard she was afraid of becoming like her mother, especially with her similiar powers, I found it interesting and wondered how it would play out. But you get constant reminders, to justify why she isn’t using or practicing her powers, instead of showing her really being afraid. The other characters mostly lack depth. On a smaller island like this, or in any smaller community, you should play more on the together-ness or icecold enemies living together. Everything that was promised from the start was sacrificed for the sake of having a story of a more “normal” teenager, dreaming about the cute guy, having fights with her friend and very understandably fearing her mother.