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

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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Book Review

Book Review: The Dragons of Nova (Loom Saga #2) by Elise Kova

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Sci-fi fantasy
Length: 487 pages
Author: Elise Kova
Publisher: Keymaster Press
Release Date: July 11th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Cvareh returns home to his sky world of Nova with the genius crafter Arianna as his temperamental guest. The mercurial inventor possesses all the Xin family needs to turn the tides of a centuries-old power struggle, but the secrets she harbors must be earned with trust — hard to come by for Ari, especially when it comes to Dragons. On Nova, Ari finds herself closer to exacting vengeance against the traitor who killed everything — and everyone – she once loved. But before Ari can complete her campaign of revenge, the Crimson Court exposes her shadowed past and reveals something even more dangerous sparking between her and Cvareh.

While Nova is embroiled in blood sport and political games, the rebels on Loom prepare for an all-out assault on their Dragon oppressors. Florence unexpectedly finds herself at the forefront of change, as her unique blend of skills — and quick-shooting accuracy — makes her a force to be reckoned with. For the future of her world, she vows vengeance against the Dragons.

Before the rebellion can rise, though, the Guilds must fall.

TOO LONG.

That’s what I felt after I finished this book (and skimmed the last 100 pages). This 500 page book could have been a lot smaller and I think I would have stayed intrigued longer.

Things started out well. I was completely invested in what was happening. The romance brewing. The political back stabbing. All good things. Just dragged out.

I am sooooo here for the romance between Cvareh and Arianna (when am I not?). I was splendidly happy that things actually progressed in the book! We’ve got a relationship going now and that means one heck of a finale awaits me.

The multiple POVs help bring everything to life. They switch often and the chapters are fairly short. I liked being kept in the loop with what was happening on Loom and Nova through Cvareh, Arianna, Florence, Yveun, and Petra. This gave me a lot of angles from the protagonists and antagonists.

ACTION. So much action happens. I felt like every other page someone was getting shot, dragon claws were being dragged across someone’s throat, or locations were getting blown up. All of the politics between the two rival families on Loom are definitely interesting, and keep you on your toes. I was surprised with who died and who survived by the end, because I did NOT see that coming. The traitor that still walks the halls is sure in for the biggest implosion.

I’m not sure when I’ll pick up book three (I do still intend to read it). This slog-fest really took it out of me and I plan to wait a bit to get to it. While I did enjoy the story and the tangled web being woven, there’s almost too much happening to keep my focus in any particular place.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: kisses/make-outs, one detailed love scene (that spans for about a chapter)
  • Violence: dragons fighting (and it’s bloody), poison, physical, swords, guns, explosions; very descriptive and violent

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Book Review

Book Review: Akarnae (The Medoran Chronicles #1) by Lynette Noni

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 436 pages
Author: Lynette Noni
Publisher: Pantera Press
Release Date: February 1st, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

With just one step, sixteen-year-old Alexandra Jennings’s world changes—literally.

Dreading her first day at a new school, Alex is stunned when she walks through a doorway and finds herself stranded in Medora, a fantasy world full of impossibilities. Desperate to return home, she learns that only a man named Professor Marselle can help her… but he’s missing.

While waiting for him to reappear, Alex attends Akarnae Academy, Medora’s boarding school for teenagers with extraordinary gifts. She soon starts to enjoy her bizarre new world and the friends who embrace her as one of their own, but strange things are happening at Akarnae, and Alex can’t ignore her fear that something unexpected… something sinister… is looming.

An unwilling pawn in a deadly game, Alex’s shoulders bear the crushing weight of an entire race’s survival. Only she can save the Medorans, but what if doing so prevents her from ever returning home?

Will Alex risk her entire world—and maybe even her life—to save Medora?

DIFFERENT THAN I THOUGHT.

I went into this book mostly blind because it had been a few months since I added it to my TBR because of someone’s review I had seen. I kind of like when this happens because it makes everything more of a mystery.

The biggest reason this was different than I thought was that it leaned more towards the younger YA side than the older. The main character, Alex, is 16 (turning 17 during the book), but her group of friends and interactions in general throughout the whole book just led me to think that this was for a younger audience.

I’ve decided that I did enjoy this overall. We all know that I don’t love HP, so I’m usually hesitant of fantasy/magic school based books. I didn’t mind this one. I thought the classes were interesting and I liked the teachers too. I really loved Alex’s friends Jordan and Bear. I liked that she had a friend group that were just her friends. It added an amazing version of a found family trope that I was so here for.

For the plot, I found this to give me enough information without over loading it. There was a nice build up of the villain and his background, the larger world surrounding Medora and about how the magic system worked. I liked the way the way the plot moved through classes, friend moments, action, and more. I actually got to see Alex’s entire school year which was fun too.

I’m curious how this series will continue to expand and hope to read the next book soon.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: none
  • Violence: swords, magic, physical; not overly bloody/gory

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