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Book Review: "The Best Kind Of Magic" by Crystal Cestari

Title: The Best Kind of Magic
Author: Crystal Cestari
Published: May 16th, 2017
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Find the Author: Goodreads 

Disclosure: I bought this book myself! As always, my reviews are fair and unbiased.

Amber Sand is not a witch. The Sand family Wicca gene somehow leapfrogged over her. But she did get one highly specific magical talent: she can see true love. As a matchmaker, Amber's pretty far down the sorcery food chain (even birthday party magicians rank higher), but after five seconds of eye contact, she can envision anyone's soul mate.

Amber works at her mother's magic shop--Windy City Magic--in downtown Chicago, and she's confident she's seen every kind of happy ending there is: except for one--her own. (The Fates are tricky jerks that way.) So when Charlie Blitzman, the mayor's son and most-desired boy in school, comes to her for help finding his father's missing girlfriend, she's distressed to find herself falling for him. Because while she can't see her own match, she can see his--and it's not Amber. How can she, an honest peddler of true love, pursue a boy she knows full well isn't her match?

The Best Kind of Magic is set in urban Chicago and will appeal to readers who long for magic in the real world. With a sharp-witted and sassy heroine, a quirky cast of mystical beings, and a heady dose of adventure, this novel will have you laughing out loud and questioning your belief in happy endings.

First Thoughts 
When I saw this on Wordery, I was really enticed. The cover, for one, is freaking beautiful and then to match it - that blurb! I couldn't believe I'd finally stumbled upon a Realistic Fantasy Novel that sounded totally plausible and unique. I posted my reading progress on social media and SO MANY of my followers were really excited to see my views on this. 

Amber Sand isn't a witch. She's not mad over it, but it's a little disheartening. The Sand family gene seems to have skipped her (almost) and left her a somewhat matchmaker. With this power, she can see your perfect match and your future together. But there's not a lot of perks of the job, telling people that their significant other isn't the one for them doesn't sit well with a lot of the public. Although, much to her dismay, she can't see her own perfect match (but she gets closer and closer to seeing her best friend's love story every time they meet up, despite Amani - a fellow supernatural - not wanting to find out). But that doesn't stop her from being a crucial part of the Sand family Wicca shop, enchantingly named Windy City Magic. 
When Amber's Mom starts acting odd, hanging out with a frequent visitor into the shop, the Mayor, she desperately wants to find out what's happening. But because Amber isn't a witch, she's magically sealed off from listening in and whenever she tries to dig for details, she gets nothing but stale information. But when the Mayor's son, Charlie (the most desired boy at school) comes into the store wanting to find his Father's missing girlfriend, Amber ties the two situations together. The more that they start hanging out together, trying to solve the mystery of their Parents secretiveness and the actual mystery at hand, Amber can't hide her feelings any longer. She's falling for Charlie, hard. But she's seen his perfect match, and it's not her, so she feels like the magnetic pull isn't enough to dispute the Fates plan for his own match. As they work together in a bustling, lively Chicago, it's more than clear that they're in for startling revelations and intriguing supernatural enigmas.
I just can't stop thinking about this book (and the next in the series!) and it definitely shows. I finished it a little while ago, but it's taken me so long to try and sum my words up into a considerable amount and not reel on for pages. Crystal has written a world of wonder with down-to-earth characters, sass (lots of it) and a killer vein of romance with an eager pulse on magical elements. As much as I loved Amber and Charlie, Amani was definitely my favourite character. I really loved her personality SO much. Overall, this is probably the best Fantasy book I've read this year, or maybe even longer than that. Huge five-star read! 

Rating & Recs
For fans of Magic Realism and Fantasy! For younger to older YA readers.

Have you read The Best Kind of Magic?

Let me know what you thought in the comments or on twitter @LittleMemoirs!

happy reading!
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Book Review: "The Fall of Butterflies" by Andrea Portes

Title: The Fall Of Butterflies
Author: Andrea Portes
Published: May 10th, 2017
Publisher: HarperTEEN
Find the Author: Goodreads 

Disclosure: I was sent this book for review purposes. As always, my reviews are fair and unbiased.
We Were Liars meets Looking for Alaska in a uniquely funny and heartbreaking teen novel about a passionate-yet-doomed friendship, set against a backdrop of wealth and glamour.

Willa Parker, 646th and least-popular resident of What Cheer, Iowa, is headed east to start a new life. Did she choose this life? No, because that would be too easy—and nothing in Willa’s life is easy. It’s her famous genius mother’s idea to send her to ultra-expensive, ultra-exclusive Pembroke Prep, and Willa has no intention of fitting in. But when she meets peculiar, glittering Remy Taft, the richest, most mysterious girl on campus, she starts to see a foothold in this foreign world—a place where she could maybe, possibly, sort of fit in. When Willa looks at Remy, she sees a girl who has everything. But for Remy, having everything comes at a price. And as she spirals out of control, Willa can feel Remy spinning right out of her grasp.

Andrea Portes, author of Anatomy of a Misfit, spins a similarly incandescent, heartfelt story that explores the meaning of friendship, new beginnings, and the precarious joy and devastating pain of finding home in a place—a person—with wings.
First Thoughts
When a book is described as We Were Liars meets Looking for Alaska, you don't think about reading it - you just do it. That's the first thing that stood out for me, aside from the gorgeous autumnal cover and provoking blurb. I just want to take a moment to thank Harper360 and the whole team for their amazing opportunities that they give me to read these incredible books. I feel so much more than blessed to get to read these books ahead of time (even though most of my reviews are late, so sorry!) and really get to hold these characters so close to my heart. It's one of the best feelings in the world!

Willa is somewhat of a misunderstood character. She lives with her Dad, but her whole academic life has been put under close and precise orders by her famously smart Mother. She's not popular, far from it, and she's consumed in a cloud of never-ending depressive clouds above. Her life in Iowa is simple and consistent, but then her Mother decides that Willa will be attending a new school: a high-class, exclusive prep school that cost more than Willa can contemplate thinking of those kinds of numbers. 
Pembroke Prep is different. Willa meets Remy there, a highly popular girl with more than a few problems of her own. When Willa sees Remy, this girl who has everything she could ever want in the world, she can't understand why she would ever need to feel this troubled. But Remy knows the true price of having everything she could ever want, and it's not pretty. They start a twisted, borderline crazy friendship that brings Willa's live to turmoil as she follows a crowd that she shouldn't be in. Pembroke Prep isn't like Iowa, and it's more than clear that it has it's deep, dark secrets. 
I just loved this book so much that it's hard to think of a time when I hadn't been consumed by these characters and this friendship. It's not your usual kind of friendship - it's borderline doomed, on the verge of complete failure. But Willa finally feels a part of her is home, and that changes everything. Remy is out of control most of the time and Willa can feel their connection slipping in parts, despite their unbreakable bond. Still, there's something magnificent about this book, a feeling that makes me want to cry and smile and just fall into the pages over and over. 
Overall, The Fall of Butterflies will make your heart soar with compassion. The POV is a different kind, but it just makes it all the more unique. I was really going to give this book such high standards to live up to the books it's compared to and although it didn't blow them out of the water, it landed right among the greats perfectly. So much love for this book! 

Rating & Recs
I'd recommend this book to YA readers that loved Jessi Kirby, E. Lockhart and John Green.

Have you read The Fall of Butterflies?

Let me know what you thought in the comments or on twitter @LittleMemoirs!

happy reading!

Blog Tour & Review: "The New Mrs Clifton" by Elizabeth Buchan

Title: The New Mrs Clifton
Author: Elizabeth Buchan
Published: August 11th, 2017
Publisher: Penguin 
Find the Author: Goodreads 

Disclosure: I was sent this book for review purposes. As always, my reviews are fair and unbiased.
As the Second World War draws to a close, Intelligence Officer Gus Clifton surprises his sisters at their London home. But an even greater shock is the woman he brings with him, Krista - the German wife whom he has married secretly in Berlin.
Krista is clearly devastated by her experiences at the hands of the British and their allies - all but broken by horrors she cannot share. But Gus's sisters can only see the enemy their brother has brought under their roof. And their friend Nella, Gus's beautiful, loyal fiancée, cannot understand what made Gus change his mind about their marriage. What hold does Krista have over their honourable and upright Gus? And how can the three women get her out of their home, their future, their England?
Haunted by passion, betrayal, and misunderstanding these damaged souls are propelled towards a spectacular resolution. Krista has lost her country, her people, her identity, and the ties that bind her to Gus hold more tightly than the sisters can ever understand... 

First Thoughts
I tend to stray toward Young Adult literature, but for a refreshing change every now and again, I'm totally open to other types of reads. So when I was offered the chance to be on Elizabeth's blog tour for her new novel, I thought it would be the perfect one to seal in the end of Summer and the start of darker reads, twined with mystery. 

I started reading The New Mrs Clifton with an open mind, intrigued by the historical fiction genre. I haven't read any of them recently, and neither anything from Elizabeth Buchan, so I was going in for a totally blank slate. The storyline opens with a picture painted for us - set shortly after the second World War, everyone's lives changed by the devastation that's happened. Gus returns back to home in London with his new wife Krista, but with a twist, that he's still got a fiancee at home called Nella. His family are distraught, particularly his sisters, by his actions, but Gus and his wife know the truth of why he did it - but that's just the tip of the iceberg of the events that would unravel.
From a few chapters in, you could definitely say that I was hooked. The more that I breezed through the chapters, the more that the truth began to tell itself, and the cultural divide of The New Mrs Clifton, Krista, felt in London as a German. The way that Elizabeth described the emotion of the aftermath of the War, raw and heartbreaking, was totally believable and I loved the way that she takes the readers to that very place in time. She didn't comb over the harsh details and told everything exactly how it is. 
Overall, The New Mrs Clifton was passionate, eye-opening, inviting and truthful. If I only read a few Historical reads in the year in Adult Fiction, I am so very thankful that this was one of them. Although at times I felt the plot dipped off and became less interesting than other parts, the story as a whole was more important and didn't effect the way that I feel about this book as readable, because it was a major four star page-turner with a certain kind of spark that filled my heart with remembrance and enthralment. Adult fiction readers, you don't want to miss this one. 


Have you read The New Mrs Clifton?

Let me know what you thought in the comments or on twitter @LittleMemoirs!

happy reading!
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DIY Bookmarks!

If you’re thinking of ways to brighten up your reading time, there’s nothing better than a cute bookmark to slip between the pages when it’s time to take a break. Of course, there’s always Etsy, Waterstones and Barnes and Noble for your bookmark needs, but if you’re feeling creative but you’re not the best artist in the world, DIY Bookmarks are easier than you think.

I wanted this tutorial to be something that anyone with any skill level or budget can achieve. That's why I’ve loaded this tutorial with alternatives to some of the items I’ve used and I will link all the products that I own too. I bought most of these items at either Hobbycraft (for the paper) and Amazon (for the sharpies) but for countries that don’t have these stores, feel free to comment below and I will do my best to find you some substitutes where you’re from.

So let’s get started!

All you’ll need for this tutorial is:
-     Sharpies (or colouring pencils, felt-tip pens or crayon)
-     Thick card or paper (craft store card over 180gsm works best)
-     Scissors (please be responsible)
-     Laminator (totally optional, but adds a professional touch)

First you’ll need to find out what kind of size you’d like your bookmarks to be. I chose bookmarks to be 2 inches to sit nicely in the book. I’m making these with A4 paper. Feel free to customise this part of the tutorial to suit your bookish needs! In this picture below, you can see the blank piece of coloured card. If your card is white, you can colour in your card with the sharpie, or leave it it’s original colour. I feel like the coloured card gives the bookmark a bit more quirkiness, but I like to play up the shade using metallics (which I’ll be using as a POP of colour - but if you haven’t got metallic sharpies, gel pens are a cheaper and great alternative).

Second, after you’ve cut your card into a bookmark size using steady, precise lines to make sure it’s nice and straight, you’ll want to get that pen on paper! I like to start by adding a background. For this tutorial, I’ll be making a floral design that’s perfect for reading a cute YA book in the sunshine. I’ll add the colours one by one (as shown below in step 3) and fade the different shades of pinks, purples and reds into an ombré. Be sure to add something behind the paper as you do this to make sure that the colour doesn’t bleed through too much, as this can happen sometimes with wet colours.

Third, DECORATE IT! This step is my favourite, when you get to add some pretty touches to your design. I’ve opted to draw some flowers and metallic dots around the edges, but this is totally up to you. If you’re not that great at drawing flowers, swirls are your new best friend. They can take up those little free spaces that you don’t want to leave blank. If you want to add quirky little sketches, those can look so adorable, too!

Fourth is where the magic happens. You’re ready to add your text! Personally, I love making bookmarks that feature a nice scripted message or title, like above. Below are some bookmarks that I made as a beginner at bookmark DIY. If like me, you’re a huge fan of big and bold letters, go ahead and write what you want to make a statement about. For those of you who are looking for a sentence or mini message to write, you can use alternating scripts and styles to create your masterpiece. When you’ve written your fabulous text on your bookmark, feel free to let it dry for a little while to make sure that your design doesn’t smudge if you’re using felt-tips or any sort of Sharpie calligraphy.

Your final and fifth step is totally optional: to laminate your design! I’m using a TEXET laminator for this tutorial, and some A4 pouches of the same brand. All you’ve got to do is follow the instructions for your laminator settings and then you’re done: you’ve made your own bookmark! Now that wasn’t too bad, right?!

If you’re skipping the laminator step, make sure to let your design dry fully before using it in your book pages because of the risk of smudging. If you’re laminating, also wait a small while before putting them through the laminator because the heat might make your design bleed and smudge.

Thank you so much for reading my DIY Bookmark tutorial! Stay tuned for another bookish tutorial coming very soon that will feature even more ways to get creative while you read. This post was in no way sponsored and everything was bought myself!

happy reading!
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Book Review: "Once And For All" by Sarah Dessen

Title: Once And For All
Author: Sarah Dessen
Published: June 6th, 2017
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers 
Find the Author: Goodreads 

I bought this book myself and was not gifted in any way! As always, my reviews are fair and unbiased.

As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen's thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine. 

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that's why she's cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm's length. But Ambrose isn't about to be discouraged, now that he's met the one girl he really wants. 

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humour, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself.

First Thoughts
Sarah Dessen is a staple author for those books that make you feel all the feels. I've read a few of her books before I started blogging a few years ago, and since then, collected her releases. But Once And For All just appealed more to me than anything else when I saw it in Waterstones. It just had one of those gorgeous covers and intricate, delicious sounding blurbs that I couldn't help but fall in love with. So ultimately, I had to feature it. I finished it a few weeks ago but because of some busy IRL stuff, my blogging schedule has been all over the place. So I'm back with a bang!

Let me just start by saying that this is THE novel you want on a summer vacation, cooped up on a beach somewhere or at a Lake House, absorbed in another beautiful Sarah Dessen world (or maybe to take along to a destination wedding?). I finished it in three sittings, mainly because I was busy, but I would have devoured it in one sitting if I had the time, trust me. 
Despite the happy cover, our main character Louna doesn't have a bright and beautiful life. Her story is hard-hitting and emotional, working at a wedding planning business and keeping everyone's special day the best day of their lives. She wants everything to go smoothly, but it doesn't always, and the stress that she was under definitely echoes though the pages to me as a reader. Bonus; I loved Louna's relationship with her mother and business partner. They had this chemistry all together as a dynamic and it was just so realistic, you know? Like I could honestly believe every word. 
But, enter Ambrose. He's Louna's love interest and the kind of boy that's your typical bookish boyfriend material. He's charming, suave and kindhearted through and through. After Louna's bad relationship in the past, she's forced to feel like she needs to distance herself from Ambrose - so they become friends instead. In fact, they begin caring for each other in ways Louna feels bittersweet about. She can't help but remind herself he's got female attention all the time and enjoys it, but this changes the more that they spend time together. He becomes more attentive and drops the annoying act, and they click and spark like a wildfire together. Something inside Louna tells her that she can open her heart back up to love, in many forms and ways, if she believes that she deserves a little happiness, too.
I love, love, loved Once And For All. Although at times I felt it was slow, or a tad predictable (it's not hard to be in YA romances, though) I can't deny that this was such a pleasantly sweet book that I fell head over heels for. Overall, you will definitely benefit from reading this! Sarah Dessen has truly outdone herself with characters, words and romance to make your heart soar with love.


Perfect For
YA romance and contemporary fans!

What do you think of Once And For All? 

Have you read it?

Let me know in the comments or on twitter @LittleMemoirs!

happy reading!
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Book Review: "Dreamfall" by Amy Plum

Title: Dreamfall
Author: Amy Plum
Published: May 2nd, 2017
Publisher: HarperTEEN  
Find the Author: Goodreads 

I received this book for review on my blog! As always, my reviews are fair and unbiased.

Cata Cordova suffers from such debilitating insomnia that she agreed to take part in an experimental new procedure. She thought things couldn’t get any worse...but she was terribly wrong.
Soon after the experiment begins, there’s a malfunction with the lab equipment, and Cata and six other teen patients are plunged into a shared dreamworld with no memory of how they got there. Even worse, they come to the chilling realization that they are trapped in a place where their worst nightmares have come to life. Hunted by creatures from their darkest imaginations and tormented by secrets they’d rather keep buried, Cata and the others will be forced to band together to face their biggest fears. And if they can’t find a way to defeat their dreams, they will never wake up.

First Thoughts
When I got this in the post, you can surely say that I was FREAKING OUT. Amy is one of my favourite authors and her Die For Me series is still one of my epic loves. If you haven't read it, go check out my reviews for them and go get it! You won't regret it - I swear. So upon reading a little and book stalking Dreamfall online, I really got into the sound of it. Recently, when it came to the top of my TBR, I was more than excited to start it. 

Dreamfall is the first in a new duology by the amazing Amy Plum. I've always been significantly intrigued by dreams and nightmares and the whole lucidness of remembering them, controlling them and knowing what dreams and nightmares actually mean, so Dreamfall ultimately sounded like it was going to gel with me completely. 
Cata is our predominant narrator, a sixteen year old girl with severe insomnia and other forms of mental anxieties (but we also meet Fergus and other patients soon). She suffers greatly with nightmares and it's noticeably distressing for her and reading about it, as I also suffer with severe insomnia and anxiety disorders, with occasional nightmares: but Cata and the other teens are very different to just your typical sleep disorders. They want out of it - and so they move to a clinic where experimental doctors confine that they have a cure. First, the teens are hooked up to these weird things that I would run from, and they begin their cure - but it goes terribly wrong, and suddenly their worst fear comes true and they are stuck in the nightmares, completely helpless. Without a way out, they have to face their deepest and darkest fears and things that have scared them for this long, to find a way to return to their reality. 
I was expecting something completely different when I started Dreamfall - something much more Die For Me, but I was surprised by a twist in this different tale. The characters are intricate and very well written and Cata and the other characters were written on point. While I didn't love it as much as I was hoping to, it was still a fierce horror with science fiction aspects that made this a genre I couldn't put my finger on - something unique and almost life-like. I totally believed the genuine terror of the characters, and Amy (queen of YA Fantasy romance?) wrote a little something between Cata and Fergus that I'm hoping to see more of in the next book. 
Overall, Dreamfall is a series I'll definitely be continuing. I was on the edge of my seat at the cliffhanger so I'm desperate to read the next instalment! If you love intrigue, steady pace and a plot to make you keep a night-light on, this is your next read. Huge love for this.


Perfect For
YA Horror fans.

Have you read Dreamfall?

Let me know what you thought in the comments or on twitter @LittleMemoirs!

happy reading!
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Why YA: the life of a Young Adult Lit Lover

We've all been there, enamoured by our bookshelves bursting with adventure, love and mystery. But have you ever wondered why you love a certain type of read? I'm first and foremost addicted to Young Adult (YA) Literature. It's my first love, the one genre I can always count on for security and a thoroughly great read. So, if you're like me and you love YA above anything else, I've been thinking about this post for a while. After talking with some fellow book lovers, I settled on the idea. Why YA: the life of a Young Adult Lit Lover, for example, all the reasons why I love YA (and you might too).

So, sit back and relax, grab a cup of tea (or coffee) and read on...

The Characters are role models
It's touch-and-go who you can count on to look up to these days. For people who haven't got a female or male role model in their lives, book characters can be a ton more reliable than celebrities that from reading on social media, can sometimes commit actions that lose a little of our respect for them. 
When I read Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door and Isla and the Happily Ever After, they remained fixed in my mind as stand-up, kind-hearted girls that had my respect. When I read them, the girls were around my age (and still kind of are at twenty one) and I found myself finding myself looking up to them. They made mistakes, sure, but they were human and had this lifelike personality that made them feel like my best friends. Just because they're fictional doesn't make them any less of a role model, and I think they're pretty cool. 

The community is like family
I've made so many friends because of the YA community, mainly on Twitter and Instagram (shout-out to my bookstagram family!) and they're the sweetest, most passionate people you will ever meet. I love that I can tweet a question and get a response from people that share the same mindset. Recently, YALC took place and I wish more than anything EVER that I could have been there, but I sadly had other commitments I made months before. I'm determined to go next year, because all those tweets I saw from the event made me so book envious! But being a part of the YA community made me feel like I was there, because of all the pictures and videos and talking to people who were right there in the heart of it. I'm lucky to know some amazing book bloggers who share my great love of YA and without that community, YA would be nothing but a sub-genre - it's the people within it that create a ying and yang balance with authors that makes some kinda of magic. 

The authors get it
When I'm reading an Adult book, sometimes I just can't relate and that can make me stray away from the plot..but with YA, I can always feel some kind of magnetic pull to the characters who share my thoughts and mindset. Yes, some authors can totally miss the point of teenage and young adult years, but others? They TOTALLY get it. It just makes reading all the more enjoyable when you can relate to the main character (or secondary ones) and feel some kind of belonging amongst the plot. I'm not saying adult authors don't get it, because they do (just for adults, more than YA readers) but it's open to discussion. I remember reading the Morganville series by Rachel Caine and even though it was a fantasy novel and Vampires totally don't exist, I still felt like I shared the same thoughts as Clare, who was in college when I was reading (and so was I at the time). 

So, do you feel the same way about these things? 

Let me know in the comments or on twitter @LittleMemoirs! I'd love to know your thoughts on why YOU pick YA. 

happy reading!
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