Friday, June 30, 2017

The Best Kind of Magic by Crystal Cestari {review}

The Best Kind of Magic 
by Crystal Cestari
♦publisher: Disney-Hyperion
♦release date: May 16th, 2017
♦hardcover, 336 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦series: Windy City Magic, book 1
♦source: from publisher for honest review
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?

Review: If you're in the mood for something cute and charming, a little break from all the super serious high fantasy filling the YA shelves of late, reach for The Best Kind of Magic.  This lighthearted tale of a teen matchmaker trying to survive a witch-dominated family, high school, and first love with a pretty heavy magic wrench thrown into it was just pure fun to read.

Amy Sand is just trying to get a foothold on life, but it's tough when her mother is an amazing witch, and her own power is considered pretty low on the magical hierarchy scale. She's a matchmaker, and while she loves her ability and loves bringing people together, it definitely comes with some heavy drawbacks. Like looking into the eyes of the guy she's slowly falling for and seeing his future wife. So many fun characters all throughout this story and so much great bantery dialogue--it definitely earned it's comparison to Gilmore Girls in that way!  Amber and Charlie are so fun together, and best friend Amani is brilliant and fierce and funny, too. I also really enjoyed the mother/daughter story here, it's complicated and genuine and sweet...very real despite the supernatural twist. The "mean girl" scenario was a little cliche, but with the added twist of Amber's school archenemy being a stuck-up Siren.  The world Cestari has built is interesting, with all manner of mythical being lying hidden in plain sight of our own. Witches and shapeshifters and vampires and goblins, all mixed into our everyday modern society.

As Amber and Charlie work together to find out what happened to his father's fiance, Amber opens Charlie's eyes to the magical world he's been completely oblivious to, and he inadvertently opens her eyes to the possibility that maybe the "end game" is not all there is to love and life. Also, one of my favorite perks to this story---Amber's greatest wish is to open her own bakery and she bakes delicious creations when things get rough. My kind of girl. ;)


Crystal Cestari lives just outside Chicago with her daughter. Her hobbies include avoiding broccoli and wandering the aisles at Target. She holds a master's degree in mass communication, and writes all her stories longhand. Don't miss the second book in the Windy City Magic series, coming soon! 


Purchase The Best Kind of Magic:
 Indiebound   •  Amazon  •  Book Depository

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.
Sweetest Kind of Fate
by Crystal Cestari

hitting shelves Feb 13th, 2018
from  Disney-Hyperion
GREAT. I’ve somehow found myself tangled up with a siren, a mermaid, and a homicidal wicked witch who once tried to strangle me to death. Way to go, Amber!

Amber Sand, legendary matchmaker, couldn’t be more surprised when her arch nemesis, Ivy, comes asking for her help. Ivy’s sister, Iris, is getting married, and Ivy wants to prove her sister is making a huge mistake. But as Amber looks into Iris's eyes, there doesn’t seem to be a problem—Iris has clearly found her match.

It seems happily ever after is in the cards, but when Iris seeks out a dangerous, life-altering spell, it’s up to Amber and Ivy to set aside their rivalry and save the day.

While Iris is willing to put everything on the line for love, Amber continues to wrestle with her own romantic future. Her boyfriend, Charlie, is still destined for another, and no matter how hard she clings to him, fear over their inevitable breakup shakes her belief system to the core.

Because the Fates are never wrong—right?

My thoughts:  So I just finished the cutest little story, called The Best Kind of Magic.  A cute love story, a plethora of mythical creatures, a snarky matchmaker, and baked goods. Seriously, adorable. My full review is coming up soon. But imagine my glee at half-way into giggling my way through this book, I discover there will be a sequel. Yay! :) 

What book are you eagerly anticipating this week? week?

Saturday, June 24, 2017

New Shelf Goodies & The Weekly Nutshell {192}

For New Shelf Goodies, I'll be showing you what lovely books I acquired this week, whether from publishers, or the library, or from whatever half-crazed book-buying binge I happened to go on. :D (Inspired by Tynga's Stacking the Shelves) The Weekly Nutshell will be just week here at Stories & Sweeties, in a nutshell. (inspired by Ginger @ GReads and her recaps at the end of the TGIF posts)

It's been awhile since I've done one of these, in fact I haven't done one all this month!! So lets catch up!  How have you all been?? xD Getting lots of good reading done and enjoying much better weather than I have been here, I hope. UGH with the 108 degree heat already. Please tell me if you live somewhere that doesn't get over 85. I may become your neighbor. :/

So these are all the lovely things I've gotten this month so far.  Some of these were on my list of most highly anticipated books, so let the happy dancing commence!!  I've been amazingly lucky in finding some really awesome trades lately---first pic is all trades! 

From Trades:
That cover. That cryptic synopsis. Fae. Ravens. SWOON
I LOVED The Forgetting so hard. So excited for this companion novel. ♥.♥
This looks so fun, and the cover is just gorgeous! (I have no idea why I love umbrellas so much LOL)
A recent WoW pick...nothing like a good southern gothic. 
I've read a few of this authors books---always enjoy them. 
I've heard this book is just beautifully written--can't wait to see for myself!
Aaaaaaagh---I can't express my insane excitement to have this Practical Magic prequel in my hands!!!
Another recent WoW pick--sisters, graveyards, family secrets...just my cuppa ;)
Cynthia Hand is one my favorites. I have never felt anything less than completely adoration for everything she's written. So, obviously---happy dance!!  :D

From Publisher/Author:
This was a total surprise and I think I stared in awe and disbelief for a good ten minutes when I unpacked this one. LOL
This story looks awesome, but I'll admit---it's the cover that has me smitten xD
This has me so curious!! Especially since I've never read this well-loved author. *hides*
I adore this exciting historical series so far, so I can't wait to read this one! 
Looks so creepy! Spooky mansions, girls in mirrors,...looks like a perfect one to save for Halloween!
This makes me think of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas---sounds like an interesting historical read!
Another author I always really enjoy! The first book in this series was so good!
A family whose lives revolve around fears and phobias---this should be fun! LOL

Huge thanks to Penguin Random House, Flatiron Books, Tor Books, Abrams, Sarah Beth Durst, and all the amazing people I traded with!!

The Weekly Nutshell
This week I posted my WoW pick, The Forgotten Book by Mechthild Gläser--click on over to see one gorgeous cover!!  On Friday I featured Julie Buxbaum's new contemp novel, What To Say Next and I'm offering up an international giveaway for a finished copy! 

It's been a super busy month all around and I feel so bad that I am reading slow as molasses (even more so than my usual slow pace lol) and reviewing even slower.  I finished Carmer & Grit last week and I'm hoping to have my review up soon. This week I'm finishing up Best Kind of Magic (super cute read!) and starting Wild Beauty which, by the way, I have a giveaway happening on Twitter for right now!! Click here to enter to win an ARC and one of my Wildflower Alice book Sleeves!  (and yes, I did pair them together because they just match so perfectly haha)
I also started listening to Caraval on audiobook, and it's absolutely amazing so far. Highly recommend. 

That's all for this week! Happy reading, all! :D

Friday, June 23, 2017

What To Say Next by Julie Buxbaum {spotlight + giveaway}

Today I'm shining a spotlight on a fabulous upcoming title, the second YA novel from Julie Buxbaum, WHAT TO SAY NEXT !!


by Julie Buxbaum
♦publisher: Delacorte Press
♦release date: July 11th, 2017
♦hardcover, 272 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦stand-alone, contemporary
Sometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to make sense of the world.

KIT: I don’t know why I decide not to sit with Annie and Violet at lunch. It feels like no one here gets what I’m going through. How could they? I don’t even understand.

DAVID: In the 622 days I’ve attended Mapleview High, Kit Lowell is the first person to sit at my lunch table. I mean, I’ve never once sat with someone until now. “So your dad is dead,” I say to Kit, because this is a fact I’ve recently learned about her. 

When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?

Julie Buxbaum's Tell Me Three Things was one of my favorite books of last year, and while I'm only about 70 pages into this one, it's wonderful so far! The humor and sentiment  both feel very genuine, the characters and the various relationships are completely refreshing and I can't wait to see how Kit and David's connection grows!  Each of their alternating points of view are compelling and unique, as Kit works through her grief and her disconnection from her seemingly clueless popular circle, and David with his stark and honest observation of the people around him and of his own growing curiosity about Kit.  


Julie Buxbaum is the New York Times best selling author of Tell Me Three Things, her young adult debut, and the critically acclaimed novels The Opposite of Love and After You. Her work has been translated into twenty-five languages. Julie’s writing has appeared in various publications, including The New York Times. She is a former lawyer and graduate of Harvard Law School and lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two young children, and an immortal goldfish. 


Purchase What to Say Next:
 Indiebound   •  Amazon  •  Book Depository

Today I'm giving away one finished copy of 
What To Say Next 
to one person, anywhere in the world! 
Enter below, and Good Luck! :D
Open Internationally, ends 7/7/17

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.
by Mechthild Gläser

hitting shelves January 2nd, 2018
from  Feiwel & Friends

Emma is used to things going her way. Her father is headmaster of her prestigious boarding school, her friends take her advice as gospel, and she's convinced that a relationship with her long-time crush is on the horizon. 

As it turns out, Emma hasn't seen anything yet. When she finds an old book in an abandoned library, things really start going Emma's way: anything she writes in the book comes true. 

But the power of the book is not without consequences, and Emma soon realizes that she isn't the only one who knows about it. Someone is determined to take it from her—and they'll stop at nothing to succeed.

A new boy in school—the arrogant, aloof, and irritatingly handsome Darcy de Winter—becomes Emma's unlikely ally as secrets are revealed and danger creeps ever closer.

My thoughts:  A Jane Austen-inspired tale and even more magical books---I can't help but be excited for this one.  This is not a sequel to Book Jumper, but even though I had a few issues with that one, it was still a fun read, and I'm more than happy to jump into a second offering from this imaginative author. And I have to mention the cover---OMG so pretty. Maybe even prettier than Book Jumper's ! 
What book are you eagerly anticipating this week?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco {audiobook review}

Stalking Jack the Ripper
by Kerri Maniscalco
♦publisher: Jimmy Patterson (Little, Brown)
♦release date: September 20th, 2016
♦hardcover, 326 pages
♦audiobook info: 9hrs, 26mins - read by Nicola Barber
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦series: Stalking Jack the Ripper, book 1
♦source: library
Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord's daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father's wishes and society's expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

Review: I’ve had this book on my shelves for quite some time and I’d always heard such rave reviews, but when the audiobook fell into my hands at work, I figured it was time to dive in. I was not disappointed---only in myself for taking so long to get this fantastic book read!! In some ways I’m giving this reading experience 10 cupcakes---5 for an amazing, gorgeously told story, and 5 for the audiobook performance. (Which is saying something from me---I tend to be very persnickety about audiobook readers.)

This book is clever and ghastly and swoony and mysterious---as heart-pounding as it is stomach-churning. As you can imagine, with it being about Jack the Ripper, there is no shortage of gory details and don’t expect them to be glossed over in any way. Fair warning, this is not a book to listen to while eating (unless you’re trying to lose a few pounds by losing your appetite haha). It is explicit gore from page one. If you can handle that, the story is wonderfully crafted, the mysterious plot unfolds with much intrigue and a wildly entertaining fast pace, and I doubt many will be able to resist falling under the spell of Audrey Rose and Thomas’s charms, both as a bickering, chemistry-heavy pair and as brilliant, whitty individuals. I loved that Audrey Rose has so much passion for the gruesome craft of forensic medicine, while at the same time the Victorian lady in her is shocked at her own comfort with blood, scalpels, and entrails. But she’s more than happy to butt heads with society expectations and gleefully proves again and again that her skills rival the men who doubt her solely because of her sex.  One of the best things about this story is the verbal sparring between Audrey Rose and Thomas, and I love the way he challenges her.  Thomas is as sharp as Sherlock Holmes and just as cocky, but he eventually shows a bit of  a soft side to Audrey Rose. 

The audiobook narration was one of the best I've listened to. Nicola Barber tackled every word with just the right emotional inflection and portrayed every character seamlessly and with distinct voices. I enjoyed it so much that I went on to seek out other books that she's narrated and was thrilled to find one of my favorite series, Jackaby, is done by her! Yay! :D

Stalking Jack the Ripper is a fantastic and thrilling series-starter, and whether you choose the audiobook or the print book, I definitely recommend not missing this one! The second book, Hunting Prince Dracula, will definitely be on my list of most anticipated reads now!


Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside NYC where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats.

Her first novel in this series, Stalking Jack the Ripper, debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. It incorporates her love of forensic science and unsolved history.


Purchase Stalking Jack the Ripper:
 Indiebound   •  Amazon  •  Book Depository

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.
Daughter of the Siren Queen
by Tricia Levenseller

hitting shelves Feb 27th, 2018
from  Feiwel & Friends
My thoughts:  So, there's no synopsis just yet for this one, but OH am I super excited for this sequel!! Daughter of the Pirate King was so fun and so adventurous and I can't wait to find out more about Alosa's siren heritage!! If you want to check out my review for book one, lookie here! :)

What book are you eagerly anticipating this week?

Thursday, June 1, 2017

What's New: June YA Release List & Giveaway!

How on earth is it already JUNE?? Kids are getting out for summer, weather's heating up. It's also BookExpo time--so I hope everyone who is fortunate enough to be attending right now is having a fabulous time! :D  Hope everyone has been finding me okay! As some of you know, I lost my domain name a few weeks ago. I got a pretty BS reply to my inquiries as to why it expired after 7 full years of auto-renewing just fine,  so it looks like I'm not going to get it back unless I want to pay upwards of $200. :(  So I've pretty much accepted the idea of just leaving it at the blogspot address now.  If you happen to have me on your blog roll or link to my blog in other ways (first of all, thank you! 😘), please feel free to update the link!

So if you're new to Stories & Sweeties, here's a little run-down of this feature: at the start of each month, I do a little thing called the "What's New List & Giveaway" where you'll find a full list of the new releases in YA for the month, and entry to the international giveaway. At the end of each month, one lucky winner will get to choose any new release as their prize!

First things first! The winner of May's giveaway is Tammy V.!  Congrats!    
June 2017 Releases:

 I've put a little lve by those books that I'm really excited for!

The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King


All the Stars Left Behind by Ashley Graham
And Then There Were Four by Nancy Werlin
Boy by Blake Nelson
Breaking by Danielle Rollins
The Broken Ones by Danielle L. Jensen
Dividing Eden by Joelle Charboneau
The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber 
Firebrand by A.J. Hartley
Follow Me Back by A.V. Geiger
Here Lies Daniel Tate by Cristin Terrill 
The Hush by Skye Melki-Wegner 
Once and For All by Sarah Dessnen
The Possible  byTara Altebrando 
Romeo, Juliet, & Jim by Larry Schwartz & Iva-Marie Palmer
Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson
Secrets of Skin and Stone by Wendy Laine 
Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser 
Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee
The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone
Welcome to the Slipstream by Natalka Burian
What I Lost by Alexandra Ballard
Why I Loathe Sterling Lane by Ingrid Paulson
Wildman by J.C. Geiger
Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios
Be True to Me by Adele Griffin
Hell and High Water by Tanya Landman
Julia Defiant by Catherine Egan
The Leaf Reader by Emily Arsenault 
Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson 
More of Me by Kathryn Evans
Murder Among the Stars by Adam Shankman & Laura Sullivan
The Next Together by Lauren James 
Obsidian and Stars by Julie Eshbaugh
Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab 
Roar by Cora Cormack 
Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali 
Soldier Boy by Keely Hutton
Summer Unscripted by Jen Klein
The Suffering Tree by Elle Cosimano
Thief's Cunning by Sarah Ahiers
Want by Cindy Pon 
We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan & Brian Conaghan

Dramatically Ever After by Isabel Bandeira 
The Girl in Between by Sarah Carroll
Maybe in Paris by Rebecca Christiansen
Such a Good Girl by Amanda K. Morgan
Trusting You & Other Lies by Nicole Williams
Two Roads from Here by Teddy SteinKellner

Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin
The Beautiful Lost by Luanne Rice
Eden Summer by Liz Flanagan
Generation One by Pittacus Lore
The Gentlemen's Guide To Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee 
Girl on the Verge by Pintip Dunn
Haunted by Alexandra Adornetto
If Birds Fly Back by Carlie Sorosiak

Impossible Vastness of Us by Samantha Young
Into the Hurricane by Neil Connelly
Now I Rise by Kiersten White 
Midnight Jewel by Richelle Mead
Prisoner of War by Michael P. Spradlin
Reign of Serpents by Eleanor Herman

(All links go to Goodreads)
Please feel free to email me if you notice any YA titles missing! :)

Giveaway Details: 
One winner will win a YA June 2017 release of their choice! *see note below
• Contest ends June 30th
, 2017 at 11:59 PM
• Must be 13 or older.
• Open internationally. *International winners will be required to choose a book that is available through or up to $20 value.
•Extra entries can be earned by commenting on 
any May or June reviews, and can be done once per review. Come back throughout June whenever you comment on my reviews and get your extra points!
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