Book Review

Book Review: Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult urban fantasy
Length: 336 pages
Author: Shea Ernshaw
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: November 5th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Be careful of the dark, dark wood…

Especially the woods surrounding the town of Fir Haven. Some say these woods are magical. Haunted, even.

Rumored to be a witch, only Nora Walker knows the truth. She and the Walker women before her have always shared a special connection with the woods. And it’s this special connection that leads Nora to Oliver Huntsman—the same boy who disappeared from the Camp for Wayward Boys weeks ago—and in the middle of the worst snowstorm in years. He should be dead, but here he is alive, and left in the woods with no memory of the time he’d been missing.

But Nora can feel an uneasy shift in the woods at Oliver’s presence. And it’s not too long after that Nora realizes she has no choice but to unearth the truth behind how the boy she has come to care so deeply about survived his time in the forest, and what led him there in the first place. What Nora doesn’t know, though, is that Oliver has secrets of his own—secrets he’ll do anything to keep buried, because as it turns out, he wasn’t the only one to have gone missing on that fateful night all those weeks ago.

For as long as there have been fairy tales, we have been warned to fear what lies within the dark, dark woods and in Winterwood, New York Times bestselling author Shea Ernshaw, shows us why.

From New York Times bestselling author of The Wicked Deep comes a haunting romance perfect for fans of Practical Magic,where dark fairy tales and enchanted folklore collide after a boy, believed to be missing, emerges from the magical woods—and falls in love with the witch determined to unravel his secrets.

VERY ATMOSPHERIC.

Well, I’m a bit disappointed in this because I think I hyped it up too much. I had heard how great it was and while I did like some parts it mostly fell flat for me.

I loved the atmosphere of Ernshaw’s novels. I feel the cold air, snow, witches, and everything else. She builds a well constructed small world that you can let yourself into. I liked getting the history of Nora’s family throughout the book and the mystery it left in solving what Nora’s gift would be.

Overall though, I found myself skimming portions. I thought it got really repetitive over the story line. Yes, there was a boy missing and a boy dead. And this fact was said over and over and over again. I wanted the characters to do something about it, not mention it one more time. When the action started to pick up in the last third of the book is when I was most invested in the mystery of the woods.

I did not see one of the twists coming because i had planned on a whole different scenario. I really enjoyed this and thought it fit right into the plot. A little bit creepy, a little bit sad, but the ending was great. I liked how it was written and gave the happy ending I’m always searching for.

Oh yes, the romance. I always struggle in one-book fantasy romances. I always think more should be added. In this case, I appreciated that the romantic aspects didn’t play a HUGE part, but were subtly woven in. They had a dark and charming aspect together that added to the whole vibe of the book.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult urban fantasy
  • Language: some strong language throughout
  • Romance: kisses, a make-out in bed
  • Violence: murder by drowning, physical, forest fire, hypothermia

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Damned (The Beautiful #2) by Renée Ahdieh

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Paranormal + Romance
Length: 456 pages
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: July 7th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

New York Times bestselling author Renée Ahdieh returns with the second installment of her new sumptuous, sultry and romantic series, The Beautiful.

Following the events of The Beautiful, Sébastien Saint Germain is now cursed and forever changed. The treaty between the Fallen and the Brotherhood has been broken, and war between the immortals seems imminent. The price of loving Celine was costly. But Celine has also paid a high price for loving Bastien.

Still recovering from injuries sustained during a night she can’t quite remember, her dreams are troubled. And she doesn’t know she has inadvertently set into motion a chain of events that could lead to her demise and unveil a truth about herself she’s not quite ready to learn.

Forces hiding in the shadows have been patiently waiting for this moment for centuries. And just as Bastien and Celine begin to uncover the danger around them, they learn their love could tear them apart.

Thank you to Penguin Teen for the eARC. All opinions are my own!

MAYBE I AM INTO VAMPIRES.

I have been long holding the belief that I was over vampires. This duology has given me hope that maybe I can try some of the new vampire books coming out! I love the way this was written. Vampires weren’t IN MY FACE, but I also love the way the interacted with their world and the group of friends turned family themselves.

The Damned also went in a different direction than expected. I guess I was thinking I was getting more romance (typical, I know), but instead, there was a lot more whimsy and fantasy aspects to it that brought the paranormal/urban fantasy combination together. Still wished there was more romance, and more Celine, because she didn’t even show up til over 30% of the way through!

Watching the push and pull between Bastien and Celine was the kind of will they/won’t they, that I loooooove. Every time they were in the same room together I was glued to the page wanting to know what would happen next. I wanted more of them together, yet the writing was beautiful anytime I did get them. Ah, yes. Love a good romance component in a book!

One of my issues was how open ended the last few chapters were. I didn’t feel much closure with this installment because it was abundantly clear, a new series is coming, with a spin-off following another character. While totally here for it, I wish somethings had been more solidified. I’m curious where the enemies are going to rise from, how the other realms will play into it, and if I’ll get to see some of my favorite character again.

Ahdieh creates some of my favorite duologies and I love her writing. Can’t wait to see what’s next!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult paranormal + romance
  • Language: occasional strong
  • Romance: kisses / heated make-outs; one love scene with minimal detail
  • Violence: murder, physical, magical; not incredibly gory

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Book Review

Book Review: One Christmas In Winter (Winter, Montana #1) by Bell Renshaw

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Christian contemporary romance + holiday novella
Length: 152 pages
Author: Bell Renshaw
Publisher: Pine Mountain Publishing
Release Date: November 30th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Reba Farwell is finally getting a chance to live out her dreams. Sent to Winter, Montana to direct filming for a crucial, on-location shoot, she knows the next two weeks will make or break her career. And she could definitely use a break. As if that isn’t enough, she’s got a secret that none of her crew knows. All she’s asking for is two weeks of small town, Christmas beauty and a little bit of on-camera sizzle.

Five years ago, Hoyt Bradley’s heart and future shattered in one fell swoop that landed him back in Winter. Thankfully, making lemonade—or his father’s famous lemon meringue pie— out of lemons is what he does best. Running Bentley’s Diner has filled the gaps left in the wake of his heartbreak, even if it hasn’t healed him completely. Not wanting to relive memories of his rocky start in the film industry, Hoyt does his best to steer clear of the dreaded film crew, but Winter has a way of bringing people together.

After one fateful delivery and a score of icy bad luck, Reba finds herself in a bind and at the mercy of what Winter can offer. Will she pull the film together in time to salvage her name as a director? Or will the sparks flying off-camera create more of a distraction than she knows how to handle?

Come visit Winter, Montana in this Christmas Novella where the Christmas lights are always on and the snow falls most frequently when loved ones share a kiss.

A CHARMING NOVELLA.

This is one of the few novellas I can think of in recent memory that I truly had a good time reading. It was sweet and I was easily smitten with Hoyt and the entire town of Winter, Montana.

I think this book was able to get a lot fit into a small amount of pages. I felt the characters were well developed and the plot worked well to provide a charming meet-cute and other meetings. The plot focuses around acting/movie making and what I loved was that there wasn’t any actual scenes from the movie depicted. I feel like that always takes up unnecessary space so it was a nice breather to focus on the characters rather than the movie filling up the plot.

The romance between Reba and Hoyt was simple and sweet. There wasn’t a ton of nonsensical drama and they actually had some really cute moments together. The Christmas/winter vibes really added a cozy touch to them. Going sledding, walking through a tiny town down Main street. So precious.

If you’re looking for something holiday related, clean and sweet, definitely a good pick.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance novella + holiday
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: falling from a ladder
  • Trigger warnings: cyber-bullying used to manipulate someone

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Book Review

Book Review: Windwitch (The Witchlands #2) by Susan Dennard

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 384 pages
Author: Susan Dennard
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: January 10th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Sometimes our enemies are also our only allies…

After an explosion destroys his ship, the world believes Prince Merik, Windwitch, is dead. Scarred yet alive, Merik is determined to prove his sister’s treachery. Upon reaching the royal capital, crowded with refugees, he haunts the streets, fighting for the weak—which leads to whispers of a disfigured demigod, the Fury, who brings justice to the oppressed.

When the Bloodwitch Aeduan discovers a bounty on Iseult, he makes sure to be the first to find her—yet in a surprise twist, Iseult offers him a deal. She will return money stolen from him, if he locates Safi. Now they must work together to cross the Witchlands, while constantly wondering, who will betray whom first?

After a surprise attack and shipwreck, Safi and the Empress of Marstok barely escape with their lives. Alone in a land of pirates, every moment balances on a knife’s edge—especially when the pirates’ next move could unleash war upon the Witchlands.

I HAVE SO MANY CONCERNS.

This book left me hanging. And not in a bad, huge cliffhanger that drives you up a wall, but more in a, I have many questions and am concerned for all my characters, give me answers, kinda way. I found this to be a great second book, kept me interested, and the audio books are fantastic.

I am SO VERY UPSET that all of my loves are split across the lands and everyone thinks everyone else is dead and I JUST CAN’T. This is the worst feeling when reading a series. I need everyone happy, together, conflicts resolved and I know I can’t have that yet. While upsetting, I always remember how great it is an author can make me feel this way about their characters. SO YAY.

Pretty obsessed with everyone currently. Except Vivia. I am still not sold on her. Granted, it was the first time I was getting her POV so I’m figuring in Bloodwitch I might get behind her more. I can’t decide how villainous she actually is and what her plans are. Which makes her ambiguously nerve-wracking. We’ll see. I AM IN LOVE WITH AEDUAN THOUGH. For real. He’s my sweet favorite and you can’t convince me otherwise. If you can’t feel the vibes between him and Iseult then we need to talk. I am the captain of their ship and need more. Need.

Also I have an intense amount of time invested in my love of Merik. And I am very concerned for him. I’m going to need some answers. ASAP. There will probably be a Bloodwitch review sooner rather than later. I love these characters and how they’re developing. I wish we had Safiya and Iseult in the same location for a bit because I missed their bond. But good things come to those who wait. And wait I will (because apparently there’s 5 books all together?!).

Needless to say, I’ve become hooked on this series and am confident they’re going to only get better from here.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: none
  • Violence: magic, physical, swords, poison, skirmishes
  • Trigger warning: two characters remember their mother passing away from suicide

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