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Friday, March 16, 2018

Willow Woods Academy for Witches - Willow Woods Book 1 by R.L.Weeks & Skylar MckinzieBook Tour, Personal Reviews and Giveaway :)

Willow Woods Academy for Witches
Willow Woods Book 1
by R.L.Weeks & Skylar Mckinzie
Genre: YA Fantasy Mystery

An unforgettable YA novel filled with mystery and magic. Fans of Harry Potter and Beautiful Creatures will love this series.

Kat and Angie have just enrolled at Willow Woods Academy for Witches against their parent's wishes. They're thrown into a magical, mysterious world that is everything they dreamt it to be. However, when an ancient book falls into their laps, their worlds are turned upside down.

10 years ago, a rivalry between the covens of Willow Woods Academy and Morwood's School cost many their lives and cast a dark shadow over the academy. Now, Morwood's has opened again for the first time since the incident, and mysterious happenings are occurring - and they all seem to be surrounding Kat.

School's never easy, and with her exams coming up, a stalker in the trees, and her family name shadowing doubt over what side she's on, the first year of school is more of an adventure than she had ever anticipated.

Katarina Ash shimmied down the drainpipe of her parents’ plantation-style home in St. Francisville, LA, and dropped lightly onto the flower bed below her bedroom window. She quickly glanced around to make sure none of her parents’ staff was wandering the grounds, grabbed her duffle bag, and sprinted down the long, winding driveway to the road where her best friend would be waiting. The gravel of the driveway crunched under her feet in the quiet of the darkness. The fight with her mom and dad at dinner tonight had been the catalyst for her and her best friend to finally take action. A security guard strolled up the path in front of her, so she ducked behind one of the huge trees that peppered their property. Her mind drifted back to earlier that night. Her father had been determined—from the time she turned twelve and found out about her parents’secret—that she would never learn of her heritage or set a foot into North Carolina, much less the Willow Woods Academy for Witches. When she asked them why, her dad’s response was always a plain “never happening” and her mom’s was “it’s for the best.” Tonight, however, she was determined that those answers weren’t enough. They were going to explain to her what was so bad about the academy, and why her mother and father had turned their backs on their families and heritages, or she would find out for herself. She walked into the dining room with her head held high. “Tomorrow is my fourteenth birthday, and I will be going to the academy, with or without your blessing.” Her mother sighed, burying her head in her hands. “You’re upsetting your mother, Katarina. You’re not going, and that’s the final word on the subject. We want nothing to do with witchcraft or the school that ruined our family,” her dad said, his eyes clouding over as he spoke the words. Katarina crossed her arms, for once intent on defying the father she had once thought could do no wrong. She tossed her long black hair over her shoulder defiantly, her brilliant green eyes shining. “That’s just not good enough, Dad.” Her father gave her a warning glare. “Katarina—” Her mother hit the table with her fists so loudly that dishes clattered. “Because, Katarina, that school and those people killed your sister. Now, march up to your room and don’t come out until you have a civil tongue in your head.” She thrusted her arm outward, pointing upstairs toward Katarina’s room. “GO!” she yelled, when Katarina started to speak. She turned and fled back up the stairs, as much from the shock that her gentle mother had raised her voice at her as the revelation that she had revealed. She didn’t have a sister and never had. Pulling her mind back to the present, Katarina made her way slowly to where her best friend waited. “Well, it took you long enough. Geez, Kat, what did you have to do?” Angelina Dupree stepped away from the curb, rolling her expressive blue eyes at her best friend. They had been tried and true friends since the day Angelina had beat up little Brian Pillman for pushing Kat down on the playground. Angelina’s mom had been the one to tell both girls about their family history, as Mrs. Dupree was proud of being a witch and her heritage, though they still refused to sign the permission form for Angie to go to the academy. She said it was fair. She had also stopped Angie’s older brother from attending Wandor’s Academy, and would stop Damian, Angie’s younger brother from attending next year too. Angie was the only one determined enough to just go and do it, permission or not. “I’m here now, Angie. Are we going or not?” Kat said, not wanting to get into trying to explain now. “It looks like someone doesn’t want to be left behind.” Angie pointed to where a solid black cat with tons of fur was winding his way around Kat’s feet. She bent down to scoop her cat up, his piercing green eyes seeming to ask her why she thought she could leave without him. “Well, I can’t leave him out here, and I can’t very well take him back to the house or we’re busted.” Angie laughed. “Well, Sebastian, it looks like you’re going on a trip.” “Yes, more of one than I think even we imagined.” After putting Sebastian in her book bag and leaving the zipper open, Kat got out a map of North Carolina and studied it for a moment. “I guess it’s now or never. Our bus leaves at midnight.” Kat took one last look at the rambling plantation house that could be seen in the distance and swore never to come back there again. Her parents may have thought they could stop her from fulfilling her destiny, from becoming what she was meant to be, but they were wrong. She grabbed Angie’s hand and gave it a squeeze before they walked off into the night. “Willow Woods Academy for Witches, here we come.”  

I am giving both of these books five stars each because they are simply awesome!  I am now a huge fan and I want a third book like right now!  If you love fantasy, magic and Harry Potter type books, then you have to pick these up and read them!  Use the links for each book and take them for a spin :)


I love books that run the line between young adult and adult, and this book does that for me.  It's basically a coming of age story about a couple of girls who are witches and they run off to the Willow Wood Academy without their parents' permission.  They think they have it all under control and have exactly what they wanted.  However things start to happen as soon as they arrive that make them start to grow suspicious of what may have happened in the past.  

Kat Ashley is not too happy when she is determined to be a Sirenti, or a water witch.  Her friend Angie ends up being an Ignita, or fire witch.  All 4 elements are represented - air, fire, earth and water and from what Kat has heard the Sirenti's are the "lowest" form of witches and she is very upset when she finds out she is a water witch.  We can easily see that Kat and Angie have been friends for a long time, but there is something going on.  The headmistress Krauss is hiding a secret, something has happened in the past and it involved both Kat and Angie's families.  Kat is told by both her father and another student about her "sister" but she has no idea what that means because she doesn't have a sister ... that she knows of.  The girls are separated for half of each day to do their special classes, and then reunite at lunch and accompany each other to the regular classes.  This is when they hear about the history of the Academy and how Morwood Academy plays a part in the history.  But what does all this mean and why do people look oddly at Kat because of her last name??  

All while this is happening, we also meet a mysterious young woman named "Mona" which is her real name, but at the Academy she goes by "Rana".  We see her spying on Kat and Angie and all we know is that there is something that intertwines her past with Kat and Angie's pasts.  So from the beginning of the book we already see a lot of mysteries to solve and it really makes you want to keep reading because you have to find out how Kat and Angie's family members had a falling out and how things ended so many years ago.  The headmistress knows, and she is hoping that it doesn't reoccur.  She is a complex character because we see her as a cold and distant headmistress in the very beginning, but the more I found out about her, the less intimidating she became.  It became obvious to me that she was trying to make sure that whatever happened before didn't happen again and she felt she needed to keep that distance to keep control.  I was not prepared for the twist that occurs in the middle of the book, it amazed me and I was just hungering for more and to find out how this would all end, knowing of course that there was already a second book and I may not find out the whole truth just yet.  All the while reading this book I kept just hoping that Kat and Angie would be able to figure it out and nothing would come between them, especially after the huge twist.  I was not disappointed with the ending, it was a wonderful book and I could not wait to devour book 2!

Kat and Angie of course are truly the heroines of the story and of course because this is a coming of age story and they are finding themselves, there must be boys :)  There are 2 brothers at a different school for wizards and they both meet the girls before they get to the Academy.  So the race to figure out the mystery is tempered with the boys because they find the magic book that teaches them all a lot more than they are ready to find out about Willow Woods and Morwood and what exactly happened 10 years ago.  So how are the boys connected to all this or are they connected at all?  And what does "Rana" have to do with Morwood?  Why does she have to go by a different name? The fact that Kat in fact DID have a sister and she was considered dead in the fire from 10 years ago, we come to find out that their parents did not know she was alive and so they wiped Kat's memory of ever having a sister.  The distrust between the reunified sisters is heavily felt by the reader.  Kat just can't believe completely in her sister after finding out how she was a part of the deadly fire years ago.  I felt like I couldn't put this book down, I wanted to get to the ending so badly to find out what happened, and I was not disappointed at all.  I won't give away any secrets or spoilers, but it is definitely a good read!

Willow Woods Academy for Witches and Wizards
Willow Woods Book 2

An unforgettable YA novel filled with mystery and magic - Fans of Harry Potter and Beautiful Creatures will love this series.

The girls are back at school, but Angie's dreams about a secret order may be more than just dreams. 

Lara Ash is about to find out that all choices have consequences, and that being back from the dead isn't as fun as she first thought. She catches the eye of Angie's older brother, Grayson, and clings to him as her world falls apart. The rift between her and Angie Dupree, her sister Kat's best friend, causes Kat and Angie to fall out for the first time. 

Angie meets two new friends, the peppy Isolde and secretive Lizzie. However, they seem to be holding secrets of their own. 
When it comes to crunch time, can the group work together to stop an evil from destroying their lives, or will their own secrets be too much? 

This book is recommended for readers aged 13+. 
Warning: This book deals with bullying and has scenes of mild violence.


I was hooked after finishing Book 1, I had to find out what happened next.  The book did not end on a total cliffhanger, but enough of one to keep me interested :)  So we cut to after the events at the end of the last book and we see Kat and Lara's uncle reading a paper about the devastating fire and also articles about whether Lara was victim or villain.  I can't give away the ending of the last book, but I will say that Lara was not killed as everyone thought - her death and her existence were erased from Kat's memory so she had no idea when she went to Willow Woods that her sister was alive or about anything that had really happened 10 years ago.  Now Kat and Angie are back and with the catastrophic events that have happened again, all of the surrounding schools have been affected and the other schools are admitting students that were previously not allowed - such as Willow Woods.  It was a school just for witches, but now it has changed to witches AND wizards, which means that Angie's boyfriend Jake can come to the school.  We see that Angie is having some issues, she seems to be hearing voices telling her to use her powers.  She is fighting them, but I immediately knew that something was happening and she wouldn't be able to ignore them for long.  And then I wondered whether Kat and Angie would once again face a situation where they would be pitted against each other.  

From what I can tell, Lara is not the bad one, she was friends with someone who was evil and got caught in the middle without realizing what was going to happen.  Lara and Kat seem to have developed a really good relationship over the summer at home, but now they are going back to Willow Woods.  Kat is a little nervous to see Jake's brother Doug again, she likes him but isn't sure what she wants.  And of course as soon as the book starts we begin to see what is happening - we find out that Angie has an older brother named Grayson and he is the same age as Lara and of course they meet and there is a connection - and Angie is NOT happy about it.  She and Kat are fighting all the time because Angie thinks that Lara really is evil and she hasn't changed - she doesn't want her brother with Lara.  So if it comes down to choosing between her best friend and her sister that she just met about 4 months ago, who will Kat choose?  And do Angie's dreams have anything to do with what happened last year?  And then when Angie becomes friends with the in crowd who think Lara is evil as well and becomes a cheerleader, it seems as though she might be lost to Kat forever.  But are they her real friends or are they plotting something sinister?  I am thinking that Angie could end up in the same situation that Lara found herself in 10 years ago.  

Things get REAL towards the middle of the book - everything is coming to a head and no one is sure of themselves or anyone else, no one is acting like themselves and I am beginning to wonder if Lara is under a spell or if she really does have an evil streak in her.  But then as things unravel Angie starts to think that maybe she was wrong and when she finds out through a past sequence that Lara was chosen by a dragon (which is significant because a dragon had not chosen a witch in centuries), she watches in horror as the kids go after Lara just because of the dragon.  As soon as this is over Lara and one of Angie's new friends both go missing - what is going on?  Mona is still alive, is she part of this?  Is she working magic again to harm Lara or the other girls?  

By this point in the book I am so confused but I know that somehow the kids are all either being manipulated or are under a spell.  No one is acting like themselves and nothing is certain.  I love the way the author works this, it drives me nuts but it also keeps me so interested that I couldn't even take a bathroom break!  I also love the way the author intertwines the drama but as with all schools real life continues on - the students are still taking classes and the more they learn, the more I learn.  I am a huge fan of the Harry Potter novels, and before I even read the blurbs for these I started reading book 1 and immediately saw the parallels and differences with that series.  The fun of being young and inexperienced, the excitement of attending a new school and finding out that what you fear the most really does exist.  This is probably one of the best fantasy series of books that I have read, I really and truly enjoyed both books and I am really hoping for a third!!!!  I highly recommend reading them and as there really isn't bad language or sexual situations, they are great for young adults and adults :)  Take a trip to Willow Woods, where witches and wizards study, and where the elements reign supreme.

R L Weeks is the bestselling and award-winning author of the Dead Loves Life Series, Bloodlust, The Fallen, Willow Woods Academy for Witches, Cursed, and the owner of Enchanted Anthologies, publisher of Fractured Fairytales Books 1 & 2, A Deadly World: Vampires in Paris, Things Only the Darkness Knows, and Christmas Nightmares.

She lives in a small village in the UK.

When she's not writing, she's traveling, reading (paranormal, fantasy and horror being her go to genres) and designing covers for Dark Wish Designs.

Skylar McKinzie lives in the small town of Screven, Ga. When she’s not writing, she’s cooking, baking, reading, and spending time with her family. She also loves long walks and sitting by the bonfire in October, which is her favorite month of the year.

She writes horror and paranormal romance. She is working on her next novel due to be released by the end of the year.

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts and a giveaway!

1 comment:

  1. I just wanted to say that I am so happy I got to review these books, I loved them and now I can't wait for the third installment plus I am checking out your other books! I loved the covers, the first one is perfect because they are younger and naive - then the second one is more seducing and witchy because they are now not naive, they are growing into their powers :)


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