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Stacey O'Neale

We review fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction books in both young adult and adult. Our website also features contests, giveaways, author interviews, guest posts, and more! http://www.fantasybookaddict.com
Sweep: Volume 1 - Cate Tiernan This review was completed by Amanda Harbin, staff reviewer with the YA Fantasy Guide.Overview of Volume 1:I made a mistake with this book(s). Usually, when I read a series of books I find that it is best to read and review each book as I go, otherwise plots and characters get a little screwy in my head. Well, I’m good and screwy on this one because I read the first book, then because I lack any self control whatsoever, I dove right into the second book, then the third, the fourth, the fifth…oh yes…all the way to book NINE before I slammed on the brakes and forced myself to STOP reading. This book is/was like an addiction. I need rehab! So, long story short I really like this book, volume, series, etc. You might be wondering why I have rated it as a 4/5 instead of a 5/5, so let me get that out of the way first, I actually don’t have anything bad to say about the book. It’s just that for a book to hit 5/5 for me it has to have emotional depth as well as be a delicious read. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this is a shallow series; on an emotional depth level it leaves other YA series in the kiddie pool. It’s just that it never really gets to the deep end, and that’s actually okay, because if it tried to, it would stop being such a terrifically fun read. This author does a phenomenal job of walking that ever so finicky line of not taking oneself to seriously while still being clever. If I had to liken it to anything I would say it’s like one of those state fair apples that’s dipped in caramel, rolled in M&M’s, redipped in chocolate, then rolled in nuts. It’s mostly junk food but deep down there’s a nutritious apple, which is how you rationalize eating the whole thing, in one sitting. Okay, now you’re all probably trying to figure out whether you want to read or eat…sorry.Book 1 – Book of ShadowsThis was a great introduction to the series and the characters. Most of the characters are worthwhile and well developed in the sense that they behave in ways that I would expect kids their age to behave. Their poor decision making skills and the resulting consequences reflect the sometimes tenuous friendships of high school girls. I like that the characters possibly with the exception of Raven, are not caricatures of people. They come across as sincere and this is very important to my reading experience. Wicca itself is a kind of character and the introduction of Wicca is at first believable, which under many circumstances would make the transition into a fantasy version of witchcraft a little awkward. There was one moment in particular (I won’t say when) that I kind of went “….ummm really???” but it passed easily enough and after that it was smoother sailing into the more fantastic realms of witchcraft.Book 2 – The CovenThis book pushes the reader and the main characters deeper into the realm of witchcraft, while also developing some important character conflicts. In this book my distrust and dislike of Cal as a character deepened. Every time I thought that I had caught him in something, I turned out to be wrong, but I know he’s not all he’s cracked up to be. The characters, friendships, romances and triangles balance each other nicely. This makes it difficult to completely take sides in the conflicts even though you want to be rooting for Morgan; it was hard to fully disqualify the emotions of the other characters. I liked that I couldn’t always root for Morgan, it helps keep her character real in the midst of all of the fantasy. The element of witchcraft really starts to develop in this book. In terms of Wicca as a religion, I like that Morgan has to struggle with her identity as a Catholic and as a Wiccan, but sometimes the line between her fantasy witch heritage and her choice to be a Wiccan seem kind of non-descript and I would have liked to have seen the choice to pursue the Wiccan religion be more about her belief system and less about her bloodlines. The conflict with her parents as a result of Wicca is believable and helps to propel the story.Book 3 – Blood WitchWhile books 1 & 2 were a lot of background information and conflict set – up, the third installment of the series brings on the action. Two characters that were briefly introduced in the second book make bigger appearances and are definitely here to stay. I know that I am supposed to dislike them, but I can’t help but like and trust them, which is confusing because Cal has been a pretty decent guy thus far. Throughout the series the author uses the journal entries of other character to illuminate their point of view, but in a clever twist, the journals are all signed with the characters Wiccan name, this works because it allows the reader to see other sides of a story without completely giving away the stories secrets. This was especially true in this book. I was certain I knew who was writing each entry, but since I couldn’t be completely certain I was left guessing about some of the characters intentions. This final book in the volume was a great end, because I was so involved in the nail biting action of the end, I had to know what happened next and instead of waiting for it to come in from the library….I ordered it from my Kindle….Ahhhh instant gratification….and well you know how it went from there!