Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Review | Between Us and the Moon by Rebecca Maizel

Between Us and the Moon by Rebecca Maizel 
Published by HarperTeen
Publish Date: June 30, 2015

Source: Book - Library, Audiobook - Library
Find It: Goodreads / Amazon 

Ever since Sarah was born, she’s lived in the shadow of her beautiful older sister, Scarlett. But this summer on Cape Cod, she’s determined to finally grow up. Then she meets gorgeous college boy Andrew. He sees her as the girl she wants to be. A girl who’s older than she is. A girl like Scarlett.

Before she knows what’s happened, one little lie has transformed into something real. And by the end of August, she might have to choose between falling in love, and finding herself.

Fans of Jenny Han and Stephanie Perkins are destined to fall for this story about how life and love are impossible to predict.

Between Us and the Moon by Rebecca Maizel

My Thoughts:  I really don't think the book summary for this book gives enough weight to this book. There is way more here than a summer romance. This is a book about Sarah, the smart girl that wants to be seen as more than just super-smart. Sarah, who reinvents herself so she is seen as smart and pretty. Sarah, who no longer wants to be compared with her practically-perfect-in-every-way sister Scarlett. 

Sarah wants to be social and have more friends. She used to have a boyfriend, but he dumped her just before the summer. She spends most of her time studying the stars and comets instead of being social, and this wasn't a problem until she found herself without a boyfriend and realized that he was the only person she really spent any time with. Before, she was totally okay focusing on science because it was her first love. But she realized that she wasn't living life - she was looking at it - while her sister was always the hit of the crowd with a bazillion friends. 

On summer vacation, Sarah "borrows" one of her sister's cute outfits and likes how she looks in it. She meets a cute older guy on the beach. She tells him she is older than she really is and that she is headed to college (she isn't), and they hit it off.And there is our summer romance. Sarah doesn't stop there, OH NO. She tells lie after lie after lie until she has created a version of herself that doesn't really exist. Before long, her lies have snowballed and she finds herself lying about her lies. 

Things are bound to catch up with her soon and when they do, it will be B-A-D. 


I have come to LOVE books like this. I love books that have a very flawed character that gets herself/himself in trouble and keeps me cringing the entire time. I am always interested in how things will unfold. In the beginning, when Sarah decides to reinvent herself - well, that isn't such a bad thing:

"I want to be able to care about clothes and boys, but be good at science too. I want to be both." Certainly smart girls can be pretty! The problem comes when Sarah just doesn't stop her lying. Ever. She even thinks to herself that she needs to stop and...just keeps lying. I would like to say that it was hard for me to keep reading while she keeps digging herself deeper into a mess that I knew would explode in her face later. It's hard to know that someone would be hurt. But the truth is that I was glued to the pages and couldn't turn them fast enough. 

Making this story more complex are the relationships: Sarah with her family, Sarah with her sister, Sarah with Andrew (the love interest), and Sarah with her new friends. The way that Sarah's sister and family relate to one another and to her is it isn't surprising that Sarah isn't great at relating to other people nor is it surprising that her summer turns out the way that it does. 

But this romance: this was tricky. Aside from how it began, with Sarah's deception over her age (Andrew is several years older than Sarah but he doesn't know it), it truly is very sweet and progressed so nicely. I completely fell for this romance. This made it even harder, knowing that Sarah was just lying to him and that I knew it and she knew it, but he didn't know. I almost kept forgetting about the age thing, because they seemed so right for one another. I think this author wrote this romance really well because I felt so conflicted about it. (Even though there was this one part of the romance that made me cringe because: immaturity and just NO. If you don't mind spoilers and want to know what I'm talking about, you can click thru to see this same review where my spoiler is hidden on Goodreads by clicking here. I HAD NOBODY TO TALK TO ABOUT THIS AND I FELT LIKE I WAS ABOUT TO EXPLODE.)

Just like with this book which I LOVED and was equally hard, I would like to think that Sarah has learned her lesson and come out better on the other side. I would like to think that if the book was just a little longer or if there were a few more chapters, we would see a little more maturity and development. As it stands, the ending broke my heart a little, but sometimes that is how life goes. I knew the fallout could be harsh and it was. 

I picked this book up based on the cover, thinking it was a summer romance. Hoping for a light read. BOY, I got something totally different. But I really liked it. I would imagine some readers won't like Sarah because of her lies, but I think if we can look at the story as a whole here, this is a fantastic one. It is painful. There is betrayal and secrecy and lies and love and jealousy and so many emotions that we felt when we were/are the age that Sarah ACTUALLY is. 

I'm excited to read this author's next book, A Season For Fireflies. I hope to be just as emotionally invested as I was in this one. 

Audiobook Notes
The audiobook format of Between Us and the Moon by Rebecca Maizel is published by HarperAudio and is 9 hours and 53 minutes, Unabridged. It is narrated by Luci Christian, who I also know from Tarryn Fisher's Dirty Red audiobook (one of my favorites). In this story, Ms. Christian does a great job of bringing Sarah to life, of voicing this young character that isn't exactly always likable but is certainly easy to relate to. I forgot that I was listening to a voice actor and felt like I was listening to the character speak and think, and that's exactly what I want when I'm listening to an audiobook. The book is a great read in print (I read part of it that way) but I have no hesitation about recommending this audiobook as a first listen or a reread. 


Between Us and the Moon will appeal to fans of:

Young Adult Contemporary with Issues
Romance: Slowly developing. No triangle.
Flawed characters. 
Character development. 

Between Us and the Moon by Rebecca Maizel
is currently available for purchase. 


Books by Rebecca Maizel: 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Review | The Witch's Daughter by Paula Brackston

The Witch's Daughter by Paula Brackston 
Series: The Witch's Daughter #1

Published by Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Griffin
Publish Date: January 31, 2012

Source: Book - Bought, Audiobook - Library
Find It: Goodreads / Amazon 

My name is Elizabeth Anne Hawksmith, and my age is three hundred and eighty-four years. If you will listen, I will tell you a tale of witches. A tale of magic and love and loss. A story of how simple ignorance breeds fear, and how deadly that fear can be. Let me tell you what it means to be a witch. 

In the spring of 1628, the Witchfinder of Wessex finds himself a true Witch. As Bess Hawksmith watches her mother swing from the Hanging Tree she knows that only one man can save her from the same fate: the Warlock Gideon Masters. Secluded at his cottage, Gideon instructs Bess, awakening formidable powers she didn't know she had. She couldn't have foreseen that even now, centuries later, he would be hunting her across time, determined to claim payment for saving her life.

In present-day England, Elizabeth has built a quiet life. She has spent the centuries in solitude, moving from place to place, surviving plagues, wars, and the heartbreak that comes with immortality. Her loneliness comes to an abrupt end when she is befriended by a teenage girl called Tegan. Against her better judgment, Elizabeth opens her heart to Tegan and begins teaching her the ways of the Hedge Witch. But will she be able to stand against Gideon—who will stop at nothing to reclaim her soul—in order to protect the girl who has become the daughter she never had?

The Witch's Daughter by Paula Brackston

My Thoughts In 2007, Elizabeth Hawksmith befriends local teen Tegan and begins to tell her a tale of witches and what it means to be a witch, which ignites a passion in Tegan for magical things. Elizabeth agrees to teach her in the ways of the hedge witch. As they spend more time together, Elizabeth grows fond of Tegan and feels protective over her; they become friends. As Elizabeth's stories unfold for Tegan, we the readers are also given Elizabeth's backstory: we find out that she is actually Bess, the daughter of a Wessex farmer, and that she has been on the run for centuries. 

Tegan doesn't yet realize that Elizabeth is Bess, but we do. 

In the 1600's, most of Bess' family was lost to the plague that swept through the area. She and her mother were the only survivors, and her mother was accused, tried, and hanged for witchcraft. Her mother made her promise to go to Gideon, a warlock living nearby, for protection. In doing so, Bess didn't realize that his protection required her to become a witch, and she was unhappy about the requirement of adoption of dark magic. Eventually the townspeople came looking for Bess for witchcraft for her association with both her mother and with Gideon, so she fled for her life, successfully. This upset Gideon greatly because he felt like Bess belonged to him since she was under his protection per his agreement with her mother before she was hanged, and accordingly, he has been tracking and following her through place and time, trying to get her back. 

Elizabeth tells Tegan stories of "Bess" in Wessex in the 1600's, in London in the late 1800's, and in Flanders in the early 1900's. She wanted Tegan to know not only the history and uses for magic, but she wants her to know about Gideon because he is likely to show up at any time, causing Elizabeth to have to flee again. She must always be ready. 


I absolutely loved Elizabeth/Bess and I loved that she wanted to use her power for good instead of evil. I loved that she had a protective nature about her. I love how much she loved the earth and nature. At the beginning of the story, she is 384 years old, so she is full of wisdom and things she has learned over the years. She is calm and attentive and I just adored her. She is also a little on the lonely side, never being able to settle into a romantic relationship or friendships because of the constant threat of having to run at a moment's notice if Gideon makes an appearance. I think this made me feel more deeply for her. The author developed her so well and made her so likable. I'm not sure that I connected as well with the other characters - certainly not with Gideon, who is completely and utterly creepy. 

The Witch's Daughter is told in alternating time periods, which worked really well for this story and made it quite fun for me as a lover of history. Beginning in 2007, Elizabeth tells Tegan stories of times past, which is how we learn the story of Bess (Elizabeth and Bess are the same person). I never had any trouble keeping up with this at all - whether I was reading in print or audiobook, because I did actually read with both. I feel like these time-period transitions moved well. I loved the different periods of history chosen throughout the story. The Plague in Europe, Jack the Ripper, and World War I were interesting from Bess' point of view because she placed herself right in the middle of everything, hoping to be able to help. These were dark times in history, sure, but they were perfect chances for Bess to show that she uses her power for good or perhaps to show that she did not choose to use dark power when she had the chance to. 

Ultimately, this was a fun story that I really flew through and I'm excited to continue with the second book. When I started this book, I was not sure how I would feel about the story as I do not often read books with dark magic or witches in them. I was drawn to this one because of the use of historical fiction in the story and also because of the super-charming cover. The Witch's Daughter is a little dark, especially the scenes involving Gideon. (In fact, there is one scene in particular that made me reconsider whether or not I wanted to continue with the book, but I proceeded and ended up enjoying the overall story.) 

I think fans of witch stories or books containing magic will enjoy this one, and also people that enjoy historical fiction. By the time I got to the end of the book, I was really invested in how everything would turn out, so I'm eager to start The Return of the Witch to see what happens next.

Audiobook NotesThe audiobook format of The Witch's Daughter by Paula Brackston is published by Macmillan Audio and is 13 hours and 26 minutes, Unabridged. It is narrated by Marisa Calin, who has such a neat accent for this role! I love the way she read Elizabeth/Bess. She sounded so calm and inviting, which is exactly how I imagined Elizabeth/Bess to be. I would excitedly recommend this audiobook as a first listen or reread - it is excellent! 

Sidenote: The entire time I was listening (I alternated between listening and reading the print copy), I was hoping that this same narrator would read the second book in this series and I just grabbed it this morning because she does! I'm so excited. 


The Witch's Daughter will appeal to fans of:

Fantasy with Witches
Historical Fiction
Great Female Leading Character
Alternating Time Periods
Romance: Not much of a romance here. 

The Witch's Daughter by Paula Brackston
is currently available for purchase. 


The Witch's Daughter Series: 

This book has the cutest cover!