2016 Book #98 – Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

51kzmkkpjtl-_sy417_bo1204203200_Title: Practical Magic
Author: Alice Hoffman
Date finished: 10/16/16
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Publication Date: June 3, 1995
Pages in book: 317 (paperback)
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: own it

Blurb from the cover:

For more than two hundred years, the Owens women had been blamed for everything that went wrong in their Massachusetts town. And Gillian and Sally endured that fate as well; as children, the sisters were outsiders. Their elderly aunts almost seemed to encourage the whispers of witchery, but all Gillian and Sally wanted was to escape. One would do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they shared brought them back-almost as if by magic…

My rating:  4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I read this book for the Terryville Library’s Fiction Lover’s Book Discussion group discussion for this month (October). This book was about Gillian and Sally Owens, sisters who go to live with their elderly aunts in Massachusetts after their parents death. Gillian and Sally are as different as two sisters can be, but it is their status in the town that ostracizes them from society and forces them to be closer than they might have otherwise. Because there’s something different about Gillian and Sally and their aunts too – they’re all Owens women and they’re all witches. As Sally and Gillian grew into women, neither of them end up where they thought they would be. Sally lives in NY with her 2 daughters and hasn’t seen her sister in years, though they talk on the phone regularly. And Gillian moves through relationships at break neck speed until she meets the one that can make her stay, even though he’s a heartless abusive bastard. And then one night Gillian shows up at Sally’s house with a dead guy in the car, and both sisters lives are changed.
Overall I really liked this book. I’ve read this one before and it was actually my book club pick for this month. This is one of my favorite books of all time, I love how magical it is. For any of you that have seen the movie, the book is very different from the movies. The story lines are very different but I’ve always felt like the idea behind the story line stayed true. I like that the book went into more detail with all of their lives, including Sally’s daughters. There is magic and danger and romance all combined in a great story about love family. This is a great read and I would recommend, especially for those who like a touch of magic in their reads.

The bottom line: I love this book, it is probably my all-time favorite book. It is very different than the movie but I love both the book and the movie! A great read and I would definitely recommend.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2016 Book #70 – The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel

51PUBYCxdvLTitle: The Summer That Melted Everything
Author: Tiffany McDaniel
Date finished: 7/24/16
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: July 26, 2016
Pages in book: 320
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE:I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984: the year a heat wave scorched Breathed, Ohio. The year he became friends with the devil.
Sal seems to appear out of nowhere – a bruised and tattered thirteen-year-old boy claiming to be the devil himself answering an invitation. Fielding Bliss, the son of a local prosecutor, brings him home where he’s welcomed into the Bliss family, assuming he’s a runaway from a nearby farm town.
When word spreads that the devil has come to Breathed, not everyone is happy to welcome this self-proclaimed fallen angel. Murmurs follow him and tensions rise, along with the temperatures as an unbearable heat wave rolls into town right along with him. As strange accidents start to occur, riled by the feverish heat, some in the town start to believe that Sal is exactly who he claims to be. While the Bliss family wrestles with their own personal demons, a fanatic drives the town to the brink of a catastrophe that will change this sleepy Ohio backwater forever.

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. You can see the book trailer for this book here. Also I was lucky enough to get an interview with Tiffany and learn a little bit more about her life and her writing, which you can read here. This book tells the story of Fielding Bliss, whose life changes irrevocably during the summer of 1984. It is during that summer that Fielding meets and befriends Sal, the devil himself in the form of a thirteen year old boy. Over the course of that very hot summer, a number of tragic accidents happen and the townspeople are whisked into a frenzy, all looking for someone to blame. And isn’t it just lucky for them that a colored person recently came to town claiming to be the devil? During that summer of fear and hatred, the townspeople take on the form of an angry mob more than once, all losing their common sense when the “mob mentality” takes over.
Overall I really enjoyed this book. I found this to be a thought-provoking read with a creative plot-line, and the characters all had a great depth and complexity to them. I LOVED Sal’s character, he played a great devil and I loved how the reader gradually learned more and more about his background. Another character I loved was Autopsy (Fielding’s Dad). I thought his narratives about the law and his role in interpreting the law as a local prosecutor were very well written and really made the reader consider the age old ideals of good vs evil and innocent vs guilty. This book had a fantastical feeling to it at the start but I think that there was more to it than that. I think this book really makes the reader examine how people’s perception can affect what they will believe about you and how the public mob mentality inspires more and more fantastical ideas. There was also a number of surprise twists at the end of this book that I didn’t see coming and that really created a lot of tension at the end of the story. While there were some gruesome tragedies in this story, I thought that this was a great novel that is most definitely worth the read. This was McDaniel’s debut novel and I’m very excited to read more by her in the future.

The bottom line: This book was interesting and thought-provoking with what I thought was a very creative plot line. The characters were all complex and the story line was well-paced. I would definitely recommend.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #66 – The Daylight Marriage by Heidi Pitlor

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Title: The Daylight Marriage
Author: Heidi Pitlor
Date finished: 6/30/15
Genre:  Fiction, Thriller/Suspense
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: May 5, 2015
Pages in book: 245
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

She still had time before work. She could go food shopping. She could fold the kids’ laundry and get the car washed and return some library books. Or Hannah could do something else. She could do something that she had never done–drive to a part of town where she had never been, pretend to be someone that she was not.
Hannah was tall and graceful, naturally pretty, spirited and impulsive, the upper-class young woman who picked, of all men, Lovell–the introverted climate scientist who thought he could change the world if he could just get everyone to listen to reason. After a magical honeymoon, they settled in the suburbs to raise their two children.
But over the years, Lovell and Hannah’s conversations have become charged with resentments and unspoken desires. She has become withdrawn. His work affords him a convenient distraction. And then, after one explosive argument, Hannah vanishes.
For the first time, Lovell is forced to examine the trajectory of his marriage through the lens of memory. As he tries to piece together what happened to his wife–and to their life together–readers follow Hannah on that single day when a hasty decision proves irrevocable.
With haunting intensity, a seamless balance of wit and heartbreak, and the emotional acuity that author Heidi Pitlor brings to every page, The Daylight Marriage mines the dark and delicate nature of a marriage.

My rating: 2.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge 2015 checklist under the “a book with bad reviews” check box since there are a number of bad reviews on Amazon, 17% of reviews were for 2 stars and 15% of the reviews were only for 1 star. The one I think I agreed with the most is this one, which touched on many issues I had with the book. I think that the Amazon reviewer hit the nail on the head when they said that it felt “like an unfinished manuscript.” There were just so many holes in the story and so many things that did not make sense and could not be pieced together. It felt like the story had started to develop and then it was over and the reader is left feeling as if there are so many questions left unanswered or even unasked.
Lovell’s relationship with his daughter in the book really bothered me. She was afraid of him the whole book pretty much and the whole time Lovell is trying to convince her that he wasn’t really acting that badly the last night that Hannah was home and then all of a sudden at the end of the book he remembers things the way Janine has been describing them? That didn’t make any sense. And what caused his sudden revelation? And honestly that girl needed a lot more discipline. She was fifteen and she offered to be a surrogate for her gay next door neighbors. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? That is an unhealthy relationship, and they let her get drunk at their party and Lovell is having Ethan stay at a party where two dudes are making out and grinding on a dance floor. Ethan is NINE. TAKE HIM HOME.
That’s really all I want to say about the book. I could go on for awhile I think but I will just leave it here at “this book was not my cup of tea.”
The bottom line: I wasn’t a fan of this book. There just wasn’t much about it that appealed to me, it left me fieeling both unfinished and unsettled.

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page