Monday, July 24, 2017

Review: Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

The Rules of MagicThe Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For me, this was easily the most anticipated book in a long while. Was so excited to get invited to read an advance copy. And even more happy to say it completely lives up the hype.

This book is wonderful. I read Practical Magic years ago, before the movie came out. I might have read it in anticipation of the movie. (As readers know, the movie is a bit different from the book, but the spirit is the same and I love them both.) That book turned me into a huge Alice Hoffman fan. I love the books in which she so skillfully weaves magic into every day life. Rules of Magic is one of her best at doing this.

The story begins with Franny, Jet and their brother, Vincent. (Not really a spoiler, but Franny and Jet will eventually be the aunts in Practical Magic.) Their mother, an Owens, tries to keep her children away from magic, hence the rules. But her efforts are in vain.

This is the story of how the Owens children discover magic, and the effect it has on their lives, for better or worse. This story is about family and secrets and uncomfortable truths. It's filled with romance and heartbreak - as is the lot of an Owens witch.

Reviews of books I love are the most difficult to write. It's tough to say much more than, I really loved this book. I can't think of anything wrong with it or anything that bothered me or I felt should be changed. The story is beautiful and of course, magical. I also really enjoyed the New York setting during the 60s.

I found it so interesting to learn about the lives of the aunts, before they became the aunts. They had dreams and plans and lovers and they wanted more out of life than to simply be, the aunts. But the Owens curse is a powerful one.

After I read this, I listened to the audio book of Practical Magic, and as much as I love that book, I believe I like Rules of Magic more.

I am so glad that Hoffman chose to return to this world. I hope she continues to do so.

I read this book in July and have every intention of reading it again, closer to Halloween because what better time to read about magic and witches?

If you like Practical Magic, if you like stories about magic or witches, if you like stories about women and families and struggling to be yourself while in opposition with a past over which you have no control, I highly recommend this book.

I received a copy of this via NetGalley.

View all my reviews

Friday, July 14, 2017

Review: Accidentally on Purpose by Jill Shalvis

Accidentally on Purpose (Heartbreaker Bay, #3)Accidentally on Purpose by Jill Shalvis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was so looking forward to reading this book. Jill Shalvis has written some of my favorite romances. I recommend her books to everyone. And I've enjoyed the other books in this series. In the other books, I'd really liked this particular couple so I thought I'd love their book.

I was saving this for when I needed a great romance to read, when I didn't want to take chances on an unknown or unreliable author. And I'll admit upfront that maybe part of the problem is me, it's been a few months since I've read a romance. They used to be my preferred escape, but lately I've not enjoyed them much or felt any desire to read them - sticking to nonfiction or mystery or historical fiction instead. But whatever the problem, this book did not work for me.

The characters were painfully immature in their behavior and the scenarios were not believable. A group of guys wanted s'mores so much that they call one of their girlfriends and beg her to drive an hour and a half with supplies. Really? S'mores aren't even that good - not good enough to expect someone you care about to drive out into the middle of no where at night.

I found the character of Elle to be so irritating. All we really know about her is that she had a bad childhood and now wears very nice, expensive clothes. Over and over again, we're told that she has on a great dress and shoes and she looks badass. But she's always cold because she's under dressed and feels it's more important to look nice than be practical. At some point, she should maybe start to pay attention to the weather and dress accordingly, but then she wouldn't need to be wearing Archer's jacket all the time. This happened several times in the book. That might have been my biggest problem with the story, it felt so repetitive. The same things kept happening, and the same phrases were used. Elle wanted to "climb him like a tree" multiple times within just a few pages. I grew tired of the word "badass" being used so often. I need to know what makes that person a badass, don't just tell me they are.

We're told that Elle's strong and independent and she cares deeply about people, but I never saw that in her actions. She seemed incredibly shallow and rude most of the time. There's playing hard to get and there's downright mean. I'm not a big fan of the whole - "he/she picks on you because they like you." These are supposed to be adults. That Archer kept wanting her kind of made him seem like a creep who couldn't take a hint. As readers, we know that Elle really likes him, but he can't read her mind, and she keeps telling him to get out of her life. Then later on we find out more about Archer that made him seem especially creepy and I wasn't expecting that because, for the most part, I liked him. Thought he seemed like a nice guy, but not so much by the end of the book. When he was turned on by seeing her barefoot and in his kitchen and "maybe pregnant", I decided he was simply gross.

Then there were her "dancing" "happy" nipples. They could sense when Archer was near and would respond, even though she hadn't realized he was in the room yet. At one point, this is how she knows it must be him in the room, her nipples were happy. What? This, along with the use of the phrase "friend zone" sort of completely lost me. I can't take seriously anything that uses that phrase.

I'm being especially harsh, and feel somewhat guilty about that. Had this not been by one of my favorite authors, and had I not been so anxious to read it, and certain I was going to love it, I probably wouldn't be so critical of it. I have every intention of continuing to read this series and anything else by this author, but I might need to lower my expectations, just as a precaution.