Tag Archives: witches

Review: The Dark Glamour by Gabriella Pierce

19th November 2012

*I received this book from the publisher Canvas in exchange for an honest review.

From the back cover:

Jane Boyle thought she’d met the man of her dreams. But it’s hard to live happily ever after when your new mother-in-law is literally a witch, determined to steal the magical powers you didn’t even know you had. When Jane discovers that the man she fell in love with is merely a pawn in her mother-in-law’s evil plan, she flees. Now Jane is alone and on the run, but she can’t hide forever.

One magical Park Avenue makeover later and Jane is ready to settle the score. But she is distracted by a mysterious man, the devilishly handsome Andre. The magical attraction between the two is electrifying, but is he all he seems? And will Jane make it into the witches’ den to overthrow her nemesis before it’s too late?

The Dark Glamour is the sequel to 666 Park Avenue, which, let’s face it, is just pure fun. Witches jet setting about New York and Paris in Chanel and Prada, determined to out-witch (or out-bitch) one another? Yes, please. So I was excited about the sequel, even though there were aspects of the first book that irritated me.

Enter The Dark Glamour. After the bang-up ending of 666 Park Avenue, Jane is in constant danger, but she stayed in New York, thinking the familiar would be the last place Lynne Doran would look. But just in case, she needs a makeover…a magic one. No dye job will work on her witch of a mother in law. So after an intense spell, Jane is transformed into Ella:

Her new, model-esque height came with pointed shoulders, small ripples of breasts, a long, flat stomach, and stretched-teardrop hips.

If you’re anything like me, your first response is, Ugh. What a youknowwhat. But my second was, What the heck are stretched-teardrop hips? Seriously, I don’t know what these are and can’t picture them. Why oh why do authors rely on new, weird descriptions for pretty simple things?

And Jane is very aware of her body, mentioning her half-moon cuticles again and again:

She tapped at the dead cell phone with one unpolished fingernail, the half-moon at its base glowing against her tawny skin.

And ok, maybe I’m going on a bit much, but the other thing was Jane is a dolt in this book. She (I promise, no spoilers) decides there’s only one way out for her and discovers something even Lynne Doran is clueless about. In her single-minded way, Jane/Ella plans her escape without really thinking it through, even as it becomes more and more apparent that her plan of action isn’t the most intelligent.

And it’s just…boring. Here’s the lowdown: I like reading fluff every now and again, but it darn sure better keep my attention.

For those who read 666 Park Avenue, you’ll likely want to pick this up just to see what happens. I think, though, this installment will be the end of the line for me.

Check out other reviews or add this to your Goodreads shelf.

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness (& Audio Giveaway)

10th July 2012

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

*Warning: If you haven’t read A Discovery of Witches, you may not want to read further.

“Together we lifted our feet and stepped into the unknown.”

A Discovery of Witches left off with Matthew and Diana traveling to 16th-century Britain, hoping to discover more about Diana’s powers and the now-infamous Ashmole 782, a document that could explain the origins of witches, vampires, and daemons. However, studying the past and timewalking into it are two different things, and Diana quickly learns that every aspect of her – from her voice and accent to her height and features – makes her stand out. As a witch mated to a vampire, Diana and Matthew certainly don’t need any additional attention. Witches are being hunted, and Diana’s powers are not strong enough to protect her. Plus, the Matthew of 1590 has obligations other than educating Diana. He must juggle family, espionage, and his place in the mysterious School of Night, as well as the friends who are curious about his new wife. Neither has an easy task, and life in Elizabethan London as newlyweds, as creatures, and as timewalkers challenges Diana and Matthew in ways they never anticipated.

In the opening pages of A Discovery of Witches, Harkness introduces Christopher Marlowe, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Thomas Harriot, all friends of Matthew’s and all members of the School of Night. Matthew…such a namedropper. Want to make an academic – a historian, no less – squeal with excitement? Put her in the same room as these historical figures. Diana is overwhelmed. She’s thrilled to discover these living, breathing legends, but she’s also tense. A. She’s a witch. B. She’s from several hundred years into the future. and C. People have been hunting her. No big thang. Oh, and there’s a D. Chris Marlowe hates her. He’s a daemon, and he’s in love with Matthew. Two strikes against Diana.

Then, just as Diana grows comfortable with this rag tag group at Matthew’s table, the couple is off to meet Philippe, Matthew’s father. This section is totally Beauty and the Beast. Beast: Don’t look at me. I’m hideous. Belle: Let me love you, dammit.

Matthew is home, not only in place but in time. His father is alive. His home looks and smells and feels right. For this man who has lived centuries, coming home is fraught with emotion. In A Discovery of Witches, the relationship just sort of happens. Tingle, tingle, you’re meant for me. Shadow of Night is the courtship. It’s the makeout session and the listening to your favorite love song on the radio, but it’s also the chance for Matthew to face who he is and to ask Diana to accept it. It’s Diana’s awakening to her powers, her heritage, and her desires. It’s the part that made my heart go pitter patter because it’s so realistic. Ok, maybe you and your significant other don’t have to talk about how many people you’ve killed and drained of blood, but relationships aren’t all simple.

That said, everything changes in London. People are losing heads and being tortured as witches. It’s some treacherous territory. Matthew is in a precarious position as spy, vampire, and secret society member. Diana must find a witch willing to help her without placing her trust in the wrong person. Both must be cautious of their modern way of speech and manner and steer clear of the vampire priest godfather dude who isn’t happy that Matthew is back or that Diana is his wife. And this is where the book became tedious for me.

Understandably, Matthew is concerned for Diana. His protectiveness has increased to the nth degree in this book because torture! Vampire godfather! Witches should burn! But the issues I had with A Discovery of Witches were amplified in this book because of those restrictions. Diana is no bored, boring high schooler waiting to be whisked away. Yet no balance is struck between the two in Shadow of Night. Matthew is overprotective. Diana gets upset. Diana apologizes. I wanted to stamp my foot because each time it almost seemed like Matthew would pet her on the head and have ALL THE SEX and voila! No more pesky independent woman.

Again, these are dangerous times, but I repeat my comparison from my previous review: the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Jamie and Clare deal with very similar circumstances, yet Clare’s spirited nature and fight to be heard and seen as Jamie’s equal are the strongest parts of those books. There are sexytimes, but in the beginning the sex was often more adversarial as Clare fought for an equal partner. In Shadow of Night, Diana plays the role of victim and damsel too many times for my liking.

But even though I wish Harkness had written Diana differently, I can’t help but enjoy these books. I gripe, yes, but I gripe because I’m picky. The history, even though a bit lengthy, is incredibly fun, and the idea of these two strong intellectuals falling in love (a romance for academia!) is irresistible to me.

Verdict: Fun and a definite read for fans of A Discovery of Witches. But if you enjoy this series, I highly recommend Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Just ask Andi. 🙂

And you can win an audio copy of Shadow of Night, courtesy of Penguin Audio. Just leave me a comment (by midnight CST Friday, July 13, 2012) telling me why you absolutely must read/listen to this book.

Don’t want to wait? Buy your copy now for your Nook.

Don’t take my word for it: Jen at Devourer of Books loved this one. Iris, however, felt more like I did.

UPDATE: Congrats, Heather Lindskold! You won the audiobook version of Shadow of Night.

666 Park Avenue by Gabriella Pierce

12th March 2012

*I received this book from the publisher Canvas in exchange for an honest review.

Jane Boyle is in a bit of a whirlwind. Her wealthy New York boyfriend Malcolm Doran has proposed, and Jane decides to leave her architecture job in Paris to take up her place as his wife in Manhattan. But before they make the trip overseas, they go to visit Jane’s grandmother, and Jane finds out she is a witch and that there are those out there who want her power. Trying to digest this information as well as meet Malcolm’s daunting family is unnerving. Add planning a wedding with her future mother-in-law to the mix, and Jane is overwhelmed. Mrs. Doran is…controlling and obsessive, but is she also evil?

666 Park Avenue begins with Jane trying on couture dresses to meet Malcolm for a fancy dinner. Midway through dinner, he proposes, and she says:

The room spun fast….Marrying Malcolm would mean leaving France behind: her job at Atelier Antoine, her adorable apartment in the fifth arrondissement with its charming view of Notre Dame from the fire escape, her friends, her entire life…

The choice was easy.

“Of course. Of course I will.”

Thus began my irritation with this book. Really? It’s an easy choice for her to give up all that?

But Jane also seems to make fun of herself at times, like when she goes to the library to research witches:

It had seemed so straightforward: she had imagined a montage of herself rummaging through the stacks, the Dewey decimal system her new best friend. She was even wearing tortoiseshell glasses, although all she had in reality were sunglasses. Out of nowhere, her witchy blood would draw her, like a moth to a flame, to the one passage that would make sense of it all.

Plus, in a Devil Wears Prada kind of way, Lynne Doran is fun to watch be evil. Her family is powerful, but Lynne wants even more and is ultimately her own worst enemy. This is also a trilogy, so it leaves with a bit of a cliffhanger.

Verdict: If you’re looking for a light, fun read, pick this up. Or maybe you just need a taste of New York glitz and glamour. This would work for that too. Buy your copy from Indiebound.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness: Review and Giveaway!

5th January 2012

*This book was sent to my by Lindsay at Viking/Penguin in exchange for an honest review.

The first novel in the All Souls Trilogy, A Discovery of Witches is Diana Bishop’s story. Linked to witches before her, all the way to Salem, Diana shuns magic…except for every once in a while when her washing machine overflows. She’s stringent, always on guard against it, though her academic studies bely her interests. Diana studies alchemy, those intersections between magic and science. Much to her aunt’s dismay, once Diana’s parents died in Nigeria under mysterious circumstances, Diana has wanted nothing to do with her heritage. However, a strange book she calls for in the Bodleian Library at Oxford will change all that. The book, Ashmole 782, apparently interests all the magical world as its secrets pertain to them, and Diana’s research will lead her much deeper into the world of witches, vampires (and one particular vampire), and daemons than she ever wanted to go.

I have this bad habit. It’s kind of a secret, but when everyone and their mom is reading a particular book or talking about it, I am instantly turned off. Can’t help it. My sister thinks I’m a book snob, but I swear I’m not. You guys see what I read. It’s varied. I don’t only read highbrow books. Anyway, somebody stop this incessant rambling!

So. Discovery of Witches was one of those books. My mom and sis both read it. Every blogger I could imagine read and loved it. It was too much. But the fuss died down, and Lindsay at Viking sent me the paperback. Oh. My. Gosh. I can only liken my response to my total annihilation of Hostess cupcakes, should they ever be near me. It looks a little something like this…

and please, oh please do not Google "animal eating quickly" - it's disturbing

But yeah – that’s about right. I know those Hostess cupcakes aren’t really the best thing for me, but they taste. so. damn. good. Similarly, A Discovery of Witches is not the best thing for me. Why? Because seriously, Diana’s love interest, the vampire Matthew Clairmont, reminds me of one of my eternal loves – Jamie from Outlander, who turns my insides to mush. (Side note: if you haven’t read it yet, shame on you.) I felt like I was making moony eyes every time he walked in the room – Matthew, that is.

Diana meets Matthew when she thinks she’s unobserved in the library and uses just a little magic to pull a book from a high shelf. Instantly, she senses Matthew’s presence. In Harkness’s world, vampires, witches, and daemons don’t associate with one another. However, after Diana has put back Ashmole 782, suddenly the Bodleian library is full of creatures, and Matthew is oddly protective of her. Think Twilight for adults but better written.

That said, I will say there were moments when my gagging from Twilight was brought forth. Similarly to Bella, Diana is often swept into Matthew’s arms somewhat needlessly. Diana is a strong woman, a well-respected academic who has lived on her own and fended for herself. Her personality changes, though, as she and Matthew become involved. Granted, she is overwhelmed at her sudden re-entrance into the magical world and its secrets, but it grated. The story sucked me in nonetheless.

The other thing that bothered me were the sometimes blatant means of exposition. Diana uses the word chimera, but her witch aunt asks what it is, leading to the author’s definition of the creature. First, I already knew what a chimera is, and I was pretty darn sure a witch would as well. To me, this type of explanation is a bit lazy.

BUT. If you’re looking for a can’tputitdownnotgoingtosleepuntilIfinishthisbook, read this one and get ready for the second in the series this July. I assure you I will be.

[P.S. I didn’t want to give anything away, but if you’ve read this, do you see the Outlander parallel? Or is it just me?]

[P.P.S. Don’t miss Steph (from Steph & Tony Investigate) interviewing Deborah Harkness at BookPage. I knew there had to be an Outlander connection.]

Oh wait! I promised a giveaway, didn’t I? Thanks to the people at Viking/Penguin, I am giving away a paperback copy of A Discovery of Witches to one lucky reader. All you have to do is leave a comment, including your email address, telling me your biggest literary crush. So go on, do it!