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Hi,  I'm Dani!  And I read, love, and blog about YA books!

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The Faerie War
Rachel Morgan
The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy)
Sherry Thomas
Amanda Gray
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Family Magic (Hayle Coven, #1)

Family Magic (Hayle Coven, #1) - Patti Larsen Born into powerful magic and next in line to lead her coven, Sydlynn Hayle has never been able to embrace who and what she is and how to reconcile that with what's expected of her. At sixteen, Syd wants nothing more than to be a normal teenager, to find a place where she truly belongs, and to do that she plans to leave the coven once she turns eighteen - when the choice is finally hers. However, when her family and coven are threatened by an unknown source, will Syd choose the life she wants or the life she was born to lead?Though Family Magic boasts an intriguing, well-developed, well-paced plot, the book focuses more on the personal growth of Syd throughout the story. Syd is so believably sixteen. Often at odds with her perfect, coven-leader mother about her continual refusal of all things magic, she can be surly, rash, petty and spiteful in the heat of the moment. And yet, she also has moments of extreme maturity, determination, courage and self-sacrifice. She's a flawed character, and so perfectly personifies teenager-hood - that weird no-man's land between childhood and adulthood - simultaneously prickly and vulnerable, with fits of childishness mixed in between displays of admirable maturity. As a quick aside, I love that Larsen developed Syd's little sister, Meira as a large part of the novel. Syd adores her younger sister and Meira's character does a fantastic job at softening some of Syd's rough edges and putting Syd's behavior into perspective for both Syd and the reader. Ultimately, Syd is just a girl who's searching for who she really is, in spite of what she is, and is someone who's trying to figure out what she really wants. A concept that many readers, no matter their age, will be able to identify with. So, all that to say: I really enjoyed the authenticity of Syd, and loved watching her develop throughout the novel.Another developing plot point I enjoyed reading about was Syd's relationship with her mother. Sydlynn's mother, Miriam, is the Hayle coven leader, and as her eldest daughter, Syd is the obvious next choice in continuing the Hayle magical dynasty. However, Syd wants no part in it. And yet, because of certain circumstances that arise throughout the book, Syd is pushed further into the world she's so desperately trying to escape, and many times because of her mother's urging or decisions. And so magic, their drastically contrasting opinions on the issue, and the question of Syd's future are all huge points of contention between them. And yet, they love each other. No matter how much they hurt each other, Syd and Miriam both seem to honestly yearn for some understanding and reconciliation and I love that about Family Magic. So often it's easy to portray family relationships in a bad light, and I love that Larsen shows tension and disagreement between family members, but also shows the love that ultimately binds them together despite their differences.In terms of the romance, Larsen lays a foundation for the rest of the series, but I must say... my inner-romance junkie wished for just a little bit more. On the one side you've got normal, all-American jock Brad who embodies everything Syd thinks she wants and wishes she could be. On the other mysterious, new-to-the-coven Quaid who's infuriating beyond belief, yet has a vulnerable side that she identifies with and with whom she has a strange magical connection. As I said before, this book mainly focuses on Syd, so the romance isn't necessarily the focal point, but I wish that the boys had been given a bit more page time and a little more development. Or at least one in particular. I definitely have a favorite between the two, and I can't wait to discover how Larsen develops this plot line and that character throughout the series.Storywise, Larsen builds the tension and mystery at a nice, steady pace until it reaches the climax of the novel. Some of the conclusions Syd comes to at the conclusion felt a bit on the predictable side, but there were definitely many pieces of the puzzle that I didn't see coming. Larsen did a good job of making the all the pieces click together and creating a great conclusion while also staging the story for the second novel in the series, Witch Hunt.Overall, with a fantastic, empathetic heroine, plenty of magic, an intriguing mystery and incorporating themes involving the search of self, familial relationships, duty and free will, Family Magic is an enchanting and enjoyable read.