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The Book of Spells (Private, #0.5)
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The Book of Spells (Private 0.5)

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  2,604 Ratings  ·  220 Reviews
The year is 1915 when sixteen-year-old Eliza Williams arrives at the Billings School for Girls in Easton, Connecticut. Her parents expect her to learn the qualities of a graceful, dutiful wife. But Eliza and her housemates have a dangerous secret: They're witches. After finding a dusty, leather bound spell book, the Billings Girls form a secret coven. Bonded in sisterhood, ...more
Hardcover, 302 pages
Published December 21st 2010 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
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I've never read any of the Private books, nor do I wish to -- but I was impulse-shopping in the grocery store & this pretty winter-centric cover caught my eye. It reads quickly & the characters are equally flat, but there was enough substance to hold my interest.

Despite the characters' ages (16-17) it reads in a simpler, younger style, neither as creepy-magical as Gemma Doyle or sexy-dramatic as The Luxe. Though most YA is roughly PG-13, this one is barely PG. Though the subject matter
Janelle Dazzlepants
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cora ☕ Tea Party Princess
Mar 11, 2014 Cora ☕ Tea Party Princess rated it really liked it
5 Words: Magic, selfish, silly-little-girls, tragedy, love.

When I first started this, I wasn't so sure about it. But by the end, I knew I'd loved it.

I haven't read any of the Private series itself, but I want to, especially if the writing's as immersing as this. Pity that not a single library in three whole counties near me have the first books. They have books 9-14 though :/ Is it worth reading, fellow readers?

Although the characters appeared to be 15/16 the writing was much younger. But it was
Sydney   LaForest
Feb 28, 2011 Sydney LaForest rated it it was amazing
Honestly, when I decided to read this book I had very low expectations. I didn't even expect myself to finish it! See, I'm not a huge fan of books that are set in the past. They've just never really drawn me in, I guess. However, the intriguing cover and great synopsis filled with tantalizing witchcraft drew me in. OH THANK WHOEVER THAT IT DID!

I'm officially addicted to this book. Everything about it is just perfect to me! Each and every character had a distinct personality -- just because they
To be truthful, I was disappointed by this book. I think I knew in the back in the mind I would be, but I decided to buy it anyways since I had read all of the other Private novels, and Kate Brian is one of my favourite authors. But as I said, I was disappointed. The book was extremely cheesy. The spells were simple rhymes, which girls said holding hands in a circle. Nothing like “Harry Potter” where the spells are in different languages with actual meaning. I suppose it had a good plot line, th ...more
Feb 17, 2011 Morgan rated it did not like it
Holy Cow...I didn't think I'd ever get through this book. Don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of Kate Brian and the Private Series but this book was terrible. Maybe it's because I don't like the whole super natural thing, I don't know. I got bored in the middle and though I can see why the ''Billings House'' is like it is after this book, I just wish there had been a different twist, not the supernatural. Now I am wondering what Vanished will be like, is it going to turn supernatural too???
May 07, 2013 Mahima rated it really liked it
The Book of Spells
Kate Brian

1)I decided to read this book cause i really really really really enjoy reading fantasy books because their awesome!!!! Its like being totally absorbed in another world where i don't even have to think about anything including READING LOGS!The vivid details of the setting, charters,the atmosphere and the fashion of the 1915s made the book feel so surreal. It made me want to travel back in time and live the characters lives, it was like going on a secret adventure! T
Sep 22, 2011 Kale rated it it was ok
Set in the early 20th century Book of Spells introduces Eliza Williams a modern thinking teen ahead of her time. She has more of a romantic view on education and what unladylike books she can read then the silly notion of finding a husband. As she enters the Billings School Eliza is excited for the freedom to learn whatever she wants without thought to decorum only to learn Billings is more of a finishing school for proper ladies than the cultivating institute of academic knowledge she craves. S ...more
Paula  Phillips
Sep 05, 2013 Paula Phillips rated it it was amazing

This book was amazing and I think that any true fan of Kate Brian's series Private will appreciate it just as much as I did :). When I first read that there was to be a prequel to the Private series , I was intrigued as I have grwon up reading the whole series and enjoying it. I would love to see this set of books made into a tv series as it's similar to Gossip Girl but in my personal opinion , I couldn't get that into the Gossip Girl books, though thats not to say I havent read them, just that
Lucy Watkiss
Apr 07, 2011 Lucy Watkiss rated it liked it
As an avid reader of the entire Private series I eagerly anticipated reading the ‘Book of Spells’ however I am sorry to say that I was quite disappointed! Firstly why Kate Brian felt it necessary to completely ruin the perfectly credible murder/thriller plot which had me on the edge of my seat for the first eight books is beyond believe and furthermore could there have been a plot twist as radical and unconvincing as introducing magic? Also, one of the most appealing characteristics of main char ...more
Aug 06, 2012 Rebecca rated it it was ok
What an utterly frustrating book! Brian can write well and has a lot of good ideas, but she rarely completes any of the things she introduces. I was ready to pitch this through the window when I was done.

In this story we follow Eliza off to finishing school. It's 1910, and Eliza's from a wealthy family. Her older sister, May, came back from this school vastly altered but we never get to see why. May's been home all summer and hasn't bothered to tell her sister just why she's turned into a doorma
Annie Ericksen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
loved it ok so there's this girl her name is Eliza and she is sent to a private school here she meets new friends like Alice and gets a new BFF her name is catherine. then there's this really mean girl who basically owns the school cause her family founded it her names Theresa and shes a real b****! ugh! so on the first day Eliza wants to prove to everyone that she's not her sister May who also came to this school and was basically perfect little princess sitting on a thrown so she sneeks out wi ...more
Michaela Osiecki
Oct 03, 2014 Michaela Osiecki rated it it was ok
Shelves: magic-and-mayhem
As a practicing witch myself, I wanted to like this. I wasn't expecting anything on par with the actual occult practices of the Victorian/Edwardian era, but when the girls uncover the chest of "spell books" that highly resemble modern Wiccan practices, I was done.

I mean, a quick Google search can confirm that Wicca didn't even coalesce into an actual structured practice until the mid to late 1950's. And the Victorians thought making their own Ouija boards and talking to spirits was more fun anyw
Apr 11, 2011 Katie rated it it was amazing
The Book of Spells (A Private Novel)
By: Kate Brian

Personally, I loved this book. I think it that it was very well written. I have not read any of the other Private novels so I can’t compare this to any of Brian’s other works. As a stand alone novel, The Book of Spells, is exceptional. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys YA novels like the Gemma Doyle Trilogy, or Clockwork Angel. In The Book of Spells, Kate Brian manages to bring protagonist Eliza Williams to life. Eliza is a very real cha
Lia Marcoux
Nov 16, 2014 Lia Marcoux rated it it was ok
Eliza's not like ordinary girls. She knows love's not a contest, and she's won first prize! Eliza's not like ordinary girls. She prefers books to boys, and when a boy validates this, she knows she's made the right choice! Eliza's not like ordinary girls. She can fall in love with a stranger at thirty paces without exchanging a word! Eliza's not like ordinary girls. She'd never dilly-dally with another girl's fiancé, unless that girl was rude to her, and then she definitely would, immediately! El ...more
Apr 05, 2010 Elisa added it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 20, 2011 Jill rated it it was amazing
I thought this book was really fun and bright. It did get a little dark and scary at the end, but it was really great the way the author ended it. The main character, Eliza, was a really smart character! I loved her! Even Theresa was growing on me throughout the book, even though she did whine a lot about Harrison. The sad part of the book was when Catherine died, but it was good when they finally solved the problem with the books and locket because of what Catherine tried to do with Eliza. But ...more
Feb 20, 2011 Joely rated it it was ok
This book disappointed me a bit. Normally I love Kate Brians books, im a big fan of privilege and private series both, but this one just seemed stale i guess. I feel like the ending felt rushed to me, that may of been because of my fast reading pace, but I dont know. I felt like she just wanted to finish the book and be done with it. For example, the ending with Harrison, i thought that maybe we would get some more insight into what happened with him, but it just ended where it ended. I did not ...more
Jul 27, 2012 April rated it really liked it
This Y&A novel is very interesting. It follows three girls, Eliza, Theresa, and Catherine who find a few trinkets, among other things, that lead them on what appears to be a fascinating journey. At the Billings school for girls, they create a coven and invite others to join. At first things are exciting and fun, then slowly darkness inches in. Then the worst thing happens. The girls wonder if they can fix it... Things get even creepier. This tale cleverly reveals life lessons, with one of th ...more
Jan 15, 2011 Angie rated it really liked it
This book reminds me of why I liked the private series to begin with. I love the fact that it takes place almost 100 years ago. A great YA boarding school book with a supernatural twist. It was a quick read. The ending was not a total cliffhanger, but did leave me wondering if she is going to write a sequel to this prequel!!
Michelle Arrow
Dec 04, 2012 Michelle Arrow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I LOVED this book! Once I saw the cover, I knew I wanted it! I loved it so much that I finished it in one sitting when I was on vacation! Right that moment, I knew I wanted to read the Private series! AMAZING!
Carrie Ann Lahain
Unlike most people who've read this book, I am not familiar with Kate Brian's PRIVATE series of YA novels. THE BOOK OF SPELLS takes place nearly a century earlier. The Billings School for Girls is fairly new and, paired with the neighboring boys school, acts as a sort of marriage market for the offspring of wealthy families. Eliza Williams, 17, starts Billings in the shadow of her beautiful older sister, who graduated with an engagement ring to go along with her diploma. Though bookish Eliza ins ...more
Mar 01, 2011 Sarah-J. rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lea (YA Book Queen)
Jul 05, 2010 Lea (YA Book Queen) rated it really liked it
My Summary: In 1915, Eliza Williams is sent off to the Billings School for Girls by her mother with hopes that the school will change Eliza as it has changed May, Eliza's perfect older sister. But Eliza is not like her sister. She craves adventure, loves to read tragic novels, and would rather die than become a demure clone of her sister. Upon arrival, Eliza quickly bonds with Catherine White and Alice Ainsworth, which also unfortunately means she has to spend time with Theresa Billings, Catheri ...more
Jul 01, 2015 Catterina rated it it was ok

This book was very slow and boring in the beginning but once Eliza got to the boarding school it got better. Elizas thoughts and attitude were sort of relatable with how she held herself, reacted towards meeting new people and making friends, towards Theresa's bossy and rude attitude, and fluttery happy highs with meeting a cute boy. She was fun at her new school and was being rebellious with sneaking out at night to the boy's boarding school with the other girls. After those i
Feb 26, 2017 Karajayne rated it really liked it
I highly enjoyed this book it's one of those nice easy reads I kept it in my backpack for easy leisure reading time. it's got a nice plot and storyline, characters are pretty generic but otherwise I enjoyed it because it was just a fun little fantasy
Kathryn CA
Jun 05, 2010 Kathryn CA rated it really liked it
Okay, this personal review is going to be split up into two different parts, the non-spoiler part will be first and then I will have a spoiler alert and the rest of the review will be spoiler. This is a prequel to a series that has been out for years. The prequel was just published this past December. If you have not read the Private series DO NOT START WITH THE PREQUELS. They will give away much of the plot of the books and take out the mystery. However, if you haven’t read it, I highly recomme ...more
Dec 31, 2010 Jacqueline rated it really liked it
The Book of Spells by Kate Brian Release Date: December 21, 2010
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing
Pages: 336

Rating: A
Ages: 12 and up

The year is 1915 when sixteen-year-old Eliza Williams arrives at the Billings School for Girls in Easton, Connecticut. Her parents expect her to learn the qualities of a graceful, dutiful wife. But Eliza and her housemates have a dangerous secret: They're witches. After finding a dusty, leather bound spell book, the Billings Girls form a s
Jul 31, 2011 Jessica rated it really liked it
I’ll start my review by saying this: when I first began to really, really explore reading there were two sorts of things I’d look for in my reading material. Shallow, easy-breezy plots that you could gossip with friends about (see: The Clique, Gossip Girl, The A-List, The Insiders, The Au Pairs, Private, Pretty Little Liars… Get the point?) or, well, witches. And while this novel is enjoyable, I think I’d have much preferred it when I was in my early teens.

Private has always been one of my favor
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Feb 14, 2015 06:44AM  
Is anyone struggling with the witchcraft aspect? 10 28 Nov 06, 2014 05:59PM  
A book recommendation if you like this series... 1 5 Oct 31, 2012 05:28PM  
What is this about? 7 62 May 08, 2011 05:49PM  
  • Classic (It Girl, #10)
  • Girl Stays in the Picture (Girl, #1)
  • Beautiful Stranger (A-List, #9)
  • Stolen Magic (Daughter of Prophecy, #2)
  • Surrender  (Haunting Emma, #3)
  • The Time Travelers: Volume One
  • The Darkening (The Divided Realms, #2)
  • Top of the Feud Chain (Alphas, #4)
  • Running in Heels
Kate Brian is the author of the SHADOWLANDS TRILOGY (SHADOWLANDS, HEREAFTER & ENDLESS), as well as the New York Times bestselling PRIVATE and PRIVILEGE series, and the wildly popular MEGAN MEADE'S GUIDE TO THE MCGOWAN BOYS. She also writes teen fiction under the name Kieran Scott.
More about Kate Brian...

Other Books in the Series

Private (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • Private (Private, #1)
  • Invitation Only (Private, #2)
  • Untouchable (Private, #3)
  • Confessions (Private, #4)
  • Inner Circle (Private, #5)
  • Legacy (Private, #6)
  • Ambition (Private, #7)
  • Revelation (Private, #8)
  • Paradise Lost (Private, #9)
  • Suspicion (Private, #10)

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