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Howdy YAL!

I used to be the blogger called YAL Book Briefs, but I grew bored of the handle and changed my name to Howdy YAL. I also respond to MJ. I like to read, write, eat truffles, and watch bad Lifetime movies. 

Calling Amok

Once a Witch - Carolyn MacCullough

I’ve had this one stuffed in the back of my shelves for ages.  I bought it when Walden books (a Borders subsidiary still existed) that should show you how long it was.  But I never read it.  Don’t know why.  Just one of those perpetual backlist books.  But when I decided to participate in Blogger Blackout I decided to focus my attention on backlist titles.  And the fact that this is Halloween week made this title perfect to read. Going in: lots of high hopes.  Witches.  Identity.  Family.  Three things that should’ve made this book awesome.



This book preaching itself to me.


Result: Okay, but flawed. To be fair, it had a lot going for it.  I enjoyed the depiction of magic in this book.  I felt like MacCullough did an excellent job explaining how things worked in her world.  And I liked how magic had a family connection.  And that was another thing I had to give this book credit for: family. It’s rare in a YA book where family plays such a prominent role.  So, anytime there is a book that feature it I give it a big fat plus mark on my score card. However, despite the fact that there is a major dose of family drama and angst in this book, it also suffers from typical YA cliches too.




Ugh, the main character.  At first I really liked Tamsin but then she started to get plagued by the things that your stereotypical YA main character gets plagued with: savior concept, insta love,  you don’t know how special and unique you are, while being TSTL.  Also, while I understood why she was upset for not having a gift.  I grew annoyed with her angsting.  I was hoping she’d be awesome on her own without magic.  But of course not…rolls eyes. I will say that while the romance in this book is insta love at best, I was able to tolerate it.  Mainly becuase overall it was more or less a blip in the book.  If you’re going to do insta love this is how you do it.  It’s not that annoying when the romance isn’t portrayed as one true love nonsense and the love interest isn’t a total jerk. Pacing also plagued this book.  While I like the fact that it is mercifully short, the first half of the book dragged.  And then everything after that….


Hello, whiplash. And whiplash is bad enough on it’s own, but when you involve time travel that has so many plot holes that not even the Back to the Future trilogy can make sense of it, you have issues. Even with these faults though, this is a fun book.  I’m sure a lot of people will love it and continue on to read it’s sequel.  Do I have plans on reading it…maybe if it’s at the library, but I don’t have an imminent need to read it right at this moment.  It’s a good book with faults.  It’s not  the most memorable book, but if you’re in a witchy mood you might want to give this a try.


Overall Rating: B- slightly above average.