Friday, November 15, 2019

Mini-Reviews: 2019 Releases

The Babysitter's Coven by Kate Williams (2019)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets The Babysitter's Club in this fun story about two teenage girls who realize they're witches that need to protect the world from danger.

Esme and her best friend Janis formed a babysitter's club years ago, and now the new girl in school, Cassandra, wants to join.  Strange things seem to be happening around Esme, but maybe Cassandra can help explain them.  The girls discover that they are witches, and they'll have to learn quick because something evil is coming.

I wanted to like this book more, although it was a fun and cute story.  At the beginning, I was a little thrown off by Esme's "voice" - I'll admit, I haven't been a teenager in a long time, but I felt like the author didn't really capture the teenage feel very well.  It felt like how an adult thinks teenagers talk - or maybe kids today really do just talk in acronyms?  It smoothed out as the book went on, though.  The pacing was a little off, too.  It took a long time for the action to start, and then there wasn't really enough of it.   However, this is the first book in a series, and I'm interested to see where the story goes next, because there were some good threads that were introduced - the potential is definitely there.  I especially liked the storyline with Esme's mother.  It was also fun seeing the girls learn to use their powers and perform spells.  3.5 stars

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig (2019)

 A retelling of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses," House of Salt and Sorrows tells the story of Annaleigh, one of twelve daughters of a duke of an island in the sea.   When we meet Annaleigh, four of her sisters have died, and she begins to wonder if something sinister is at work.

This book was the creepy story I was looking for this fall.  At turns gory, eerie, and spooky, it didn't shy away from the darkness, but rather embraced it and made it a part of the story.  I appreciated that the author wasn't afraid to push boundaries.  Annaleigh was a bit of unreliable narrator - she was haunted by ghostly visions and seemed convinced that at least one of her sisters had been murdered, although no one else seems to believe her.  The sheer amount of sister characters was overwhelming at times and only a couple of them really stood out to me, but I thought the author did a good job of creating a sense of unease and fear in the girls, especially as they are convinced that they're cursed and doomed to die early deaths.  As the story goes on, a few twists are revealed, and although I didn't really expect the religious aspects, I liked the way the story played out.  If you're looking for an atmospheric retelling, this is it!  4 stars

28 comments:

  1. House of Salt and Sorrows sounds wonderful. I love retellings! ♥

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  2. House of Salt and Sorrow sounds compelling. I read a retelling of the "12 Dancing Princesses" a few years ago and it didn't work for me. This one sounds more promising; plus, the setting sounds really good! Thanks for putting this one on my radar.

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  3. Both of these books are on my TBR. I am really excited to get reading House of Salt and Sorrows. It sounds like such a fantastic retelling. :)

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  4. I didn’t realize The House of Salt and Sorrow was a retelling. I think that it’s based on a somewhat lesser known tale since some stories/fairy tales seem to have been told again and again. Sounds like it really nailed the creepy vibe!

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    1. It really did! I had never read the tale it was based on, but it still interested me.

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  5. House of Salt and Sorrows has been on my radar for a while, and I'm so glad to hear it's as atmospheric and creepy as it sounds!

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  6. Hopefully the Babysitter's Coven series will get better as it goes! Sounds like it definitely has potential. And glad House was good.

    Happy weekekend!!

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  7. I actually love Esme, and I knew kids like her back when I was teaching. I agree, that it took a while to get into the meat of who and what the Babysitters were, but I was still entertained the whole time. I rated the book the same as you, but I think I was a bit forgiving because this was a first book, where the author had to lay out some background.

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    1. Agreed - knowing it's the first in a series, it makes sense that it was a little slower.

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  8. Putting House of Salt and Sorrows on my Christmas wishlist most def, it looks so good :D

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  9. House of Salt and Sorrows sounds SO good!

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  10. I was utterly hooked on the combination of Buffy and The Babysitter's Club -- so I am very much wanting to get to that on my TBR (Famous last words lol!)

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  11. I didn't even realize House of Salt and Sorrows was a retelling. I'll definitely have to check this one out!

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  12. House of Salt and Sorrows just popped up on my phone! I'm listening to the audiobook through my library as soon as I finish Opposite of Always. I'm glad it embraced the spooky, although I'm less enthusiastic about the religious undertones.

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? 💬

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  13. I really loved House of Salt and Sorrows too! It was really good. I have always loved that fairy tale and this retelling went beyond and it turned out amazing.

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    1. I actually never read the original fairy tale but I still liked it!

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  14. The Babysitter's Coven looks interesting, but I am a little wary about it, especially when you mention concerns about the narrator's voice. Will have to sample that one before I decide to dive in or not.

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I'm so glad you stopped by, and I would love to hear your thoughts! Comments are always greatly appreciated!