Title: The Winter of the Witch Author: Katherine Arden Genre: Adult Fantasy Publication Date: January 8th, 2019 Publisher: Del Rey Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.
“Now Moscow has been struck by disaster. Its people are searching for answers—and for someone to blame. Vasya finds herself alone, beset on all sides. The Grand Prince is in a rage, choosing allies that will lead him on a path to war and ruin. A wicked demon returns, stronger than ever and determined to spread chaos. Caught at the center of the conflict is Vasya, who finds the fate of two worlds resting on her shoulders. Her destiny uncertain, Vasya will uncover surprising truths about herself and her history as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all.” (Goodreads)
The Winter of the Witch was one of my most anticipated reads for 2019 and it did not disappoint. We are swept back into this magical world right where The Girl in the Tower left off. Vasya is trying to make peace with what happened to Moscow the night before while trying to keep her family safe as an angry mob wants her tried for witchcraft. Katherine Arden’s writing is once again captivating and brings to life this world and the characters we have grown to love.
We find ourselves back at recognizable places such as Moscow and the forest but we also are drawn into new magical worlds that feel like a dream. Her world building is breathtaking and imaginative as always.
New and familiar characters come back for this epic conclusion. Vasya is still growing in the beginning and by the end she is finding her purpose which is satisfying to see. She is always full of real human emotions as Katherine has a way of making each character come to life. I even grew to like Medved, the bear, and I didn’t think that was possible. Many of the characters are met with tough decisions they must make and sometimes those decisions lead to fateful consequences.
This book gave me so many emotions and tears were shed multiple times as well as a few laughs here and there. Although I am sad to see this wonderful world end, The Winter of the Witch is a great ending to a beloved series.
Title: The Girl in the Tower (Winternight Trilogy #2) Author: Katherine Arden Genre: Adult Fantasy Publication Date: December 5th, 2017 Publisher: Del Rey Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“In The Girl in the Tower, Vasilisa faces an impossible choice. Driven from her home by frightened villagers, she has only two options left: marriage or the convent. She cannot bring herself to accept either fate and instead chooses adventure, dressing herself as a boy and setting off astride her magnificent stallion Solovey.
But after she prevails in a skirmish with bandits, everything changes. The Grand Prince of Moscow anoints her a hero for her exploits, and she is reunited with her beloved sister and brother, who are now part of the Grand Prince’s inner circle. She dares not reveal to the court that she is a girl, for if her deception were discovered it would have terrible consequences for herself and her family. Before she can untangle herself from Moscow’s intrigues—and as Frost provides counsel that may or may not be trustworthy—she will also confront an even graver threat lying in wait for all of Moscow itself.” (Goodreads)
Edit: This was a reread and I still enjoyed it a lot!
The Girl in the Tower continues to follow Vasya as she tries to find her place in the world without losing herself in the process. Along the way she finds herself disguised as a boy and helping the Grand Prince of Moscow defend the city.
Honestly, I loved this book more than the first. Katherine Arden is such a wonderful story teller and her characters are always so conscious of their actions and sometimes make horrible decisions which is so real and refreshing. Vasya has grown as a character since The Bear and the Nightingale but still has kept true to herself even when the odds are stacked against her.
The world building, as always, is detailed and the pace of the book is well done. I didn’t want to put it down for anything! I am so glad this series was recommended because it has become one of my favorites. It is great to have books written about other fairy tales than the usual ones. Besides, who doesn’t love Morozko?
Title: Once Upon a Broken Heart Author: Stephanie Garber Genre: YA Fantasy Publication Date: September 28th 2021 Publisher: Flatiron Books Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“Evangeline Fox was raised in her beloved father’s curiosity shop, where she grew up on legends about immortals, like the tragic Prince of Hearts. She knows his powers are mythic, his kiss is worth dying for, and that bargains with him rarely end well.
But when Evangeline learns that the love of her life is about to marry another, she becomes desperate enough to offer the Prince of Hearts whatever he wants in exchange for his help to stop the wedding. The prince only asks for three kisses. But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she’s pledged. And he has plans for Evangeline that will either end in the greatest happily ever after, or the most exquisite tragedy…” (Goodreads)
Edit: Reread this one and still love it! The audiobook was really nice.
I was absolutely afraid to start this book. I had seen others who liked Caraval not like this one and I really didn’t want that to happen. I have also been in a slump, not just from reading but from life in general, and so I was scared.
When I did start reading it I wasn’t completely grasped but I kept going because I wasn’t very far. I do think that it’s because I had this dread of not liking it. It seriously had me questioning it. I will say that once Jacks entered for the first time all of that dread disappeared and a grin appeared on my face. Although Jacks isn’t the main focus of the book, he does have a large part. I’m really glad he is back after what happened in Finale. He was my favorite character and I was so excited to know that his story wasn’t over.
Since the story isn’t told from Jacks’ perspective, I’m going to talk about Evangeline Fox first even though I already mentioned him, ha. Evangeline is a great new character to add to the fantastical world that Garber has already created. I liked seeing how the start of her journey correlated with Finale in some way. For me, it was easy to relate to her from the beginning. When I was young and wanted to find the “fairytale love” I would miss signs that it would never work. I was naive and so was Evangeline at times. Even if we do find someone to dote on us it doesn’t mean that it’s the right one either. I just liked seeing her in situations that I could see myself in from my younger days before I found the one. She deals with a lot from heartbreak, love, to making a deal with a fate. Even though she had a lot going on she still had hope and believed everything would work out. She always looked for the good in others even when it didn’t seem like there was any. She never wanted any bad blood. I can appreciate the sentiment.
Jacks is the anti-hero I adore. If it’s wrong then I don’t want to be right! You’ll never be able to convince me that he isn’t worth saving. I’m just as naive as Evangeline like I said above, ha. From the beginning I wasn’t sure how he would fit into the story or even if he would feel like the same guy from the original trilogy. He definitely has a different personality but I think it made me like him a bit more. He is dealing with heartbreak in his own way and it was interesting to see how similar him and Evangeline could be but also how they dealt with it differently as well. It’s hard not to feel for him. I’m still not entirely sure what his full intentions are and because of that and the cliffhanger I really need to have book two ASAP!
There are new characters that are introduced besides Evangeline and I liked learning about each one. Chaos is really creepy but also quite intriguing and LaLa is definitely a favorite! Characters from the previous series also make appearances and I was glad to read about a couple friendly faces even if it was brief.
The setting is very different from the Caraval series. It was still magical in every way and I liked seeing what else this world had to offer. I will say that it did feel more fairytale-like but I think that is why I loved it.
The plot is filled with thrilling and shocking moments that had me that much more excited to continue on and find out what would happen next. I finished 90% of it in one day. I really thought that I had it figured out before the big reveal but I was so wrong, haha. Garber knows how to shock readers and I loved every minute of it!
Overall, I absolutely loved this book for many reasons! Obviously Jacks is one of those! I know this review feels short in certain areas and maybe scattered but it’s hard to put into words what I feel for this book. Garber did it once again! I can’t wait to see what happens next for Evangeline and Jacks.
“All stories are made of both truths and lies, she used to say. What matters is the way that we believe in them.”
“He gave her a real smile, revealing a pair of dimples that briefly made him look more angel than devil. But she imagined even angels would need to beware of.”
“I believe there are far more possibilities than happily ever after or tragedy. Every story has the potential for infinite endings.”
“She wanted to be someone’s love, not their curse.”
“Be thankful for that, Little Fox.” Jacks gave her a smile that was all sharp edges. A drop of blood fell from the corner of his mouth, and something godforsaken washed over his expression. “Hurt is what made me.”
Title: Only a Monster Author: Vanessa Len Genre: YA Fantasy / Romance Publication Date: February 22nd, 2022 Publisher: HarperTeen Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
“It should have been the perfect summer. Sent to stay with her late mother’s eccentric family in London, sixteen-year-old Joan is determined to enjoy herself. She loves her nerdy job at the historic Holland House, and when her super cute co-worker Nick asks her on a date, it feels like everything is falling into place.
But she soon learns the truth. Her family aren’t just eccentric: they’re monsters, with terrifying, hidden powers. And Nick isn’t just a cute boy: he’s a legendary monster slayer, who will do anything to bring them down.
As she battles Nick, Joan is forced to work with the beautiful and ruthless Aaron Oliver, heir to a monster family that hates her own. She’ll have to embrace her own monstrousness if she is to save herself, and her family. Because in this story . . .
For a quick note about this one, it was very unique! I can only think of one book that would come close but it is still very different with the way it uses monsters and time travel. Although there was two things that I thought could be improved on, I did enjoy this book and what it had to offer!
The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Joan Chang-Hunt (I’m pretty sure that is what her last name was but correct me if I am wrong!). She is your typical average teen going on a date until her life turns upside down and things are never the same after that. Joan has to learn quick about who she is and what power she holds.
Joan was a great main character. She had the pull between good and evil and it was interesting to read about her and the choices she would inevitably have to make. I wouldn’t particularly she was morally grey as she knew what was right, but she also knew what was important to her and would do anything to make sure it stayed that way. I don’t fault her for her actions and wouldn’t do the same.
There are many characters mentioned in this book but many have smaller roles than others. Aaron is one that gets a bigger role and I really liked learning about him and his family. He has reminded me of another character and even though sometimes he has his nose stuck up in the air, I couldn’t help but like him. His opinion of Joan changes over time and he really does a lot for her, even if he doesn’t really want to at the start. Nick is another character with quite the role to fill! I wasn’t sure what we were going to get from him, but wow! I do have mixed feelings about him but I also can’t help but root for him? I’m just very conflicted, lol. The scenes between him and Joan though 🙌.
There is hints of romance and some talk about it but it isn’t the full story although you could say that it does have a meaningful part in the plot, especially at the end. It is a tad bit insta but also not at the same time. There is an explanation to it but I also would have liked a bit more. I am very curious to see what will happen in the next book. Do I sense a love triangle? For sure! Do I want it? Oh yes! Am I ready for what may happen? Definitely not, lol. Don’t make me choose!
The ending does have a bit of wrap-up but at the same time it also leaves room for more. I want more. I really liked learning about this world which includes the houses and the monsters that reside in them. I will say that some plot points ended in pretty intriguing spots and it kind of terrifies me for the next book!
Overall, this was a thrilling read. I liked the main character as well as the others. It was a unique plot and I can’t wait for more from this world and the author!
Title:The Singles Table (Marriage Game #3) Author: Sara Desai Genre: Adult Contemporary / Romance Publication Date: November 16th, 2021 Publisher: Berkley Rating: ⭐⭐⭐✨
“After a devastating break-up, celebrity-obsessed lawyer Zara Patel is determined never to open her heart again. She puts her energy into building her career and helping her friends find romance through the wedding season. She’s never faced a guest at the singles table she couldn’t match, until she crosses paths with the sinfully sexy Jay Donovan.
Former military security specialist Jay has no time for love. His life is about working hard, staying focused, and winning at all costs. When charismatic Zara crashes into his life, he’s thrown into close contact with exactly the kind of chaos he wants to avoid. Worse, they’re stuck together for the entire wedding season.
So they make a deal. She’ll find his special someone if he introduces her to his celebrity clients. But when their arrangement brings them together in ways they never expected, they realize that the perfect match might just be their own.” (Goodreads)
I’m always looking forward to starting a book by this author. They usually make my romantic heart happy. I liked a lot of the tropes that were in this book. The characters were also fun but, there was something missing for me. I did still like it overall but it was still my least favorite in the series.
The book is told from two point-of-views: Zara and Jay. Zara is a lawyer and has had trouble finding a job and keeping a boyfriend. She is very much a push-away person who doesn’t see herself in a long-term relationship. Zara is also quite bubbly and full of personality. Jay is a veteran of the air force and now owns and runs a security with another veteran. He is very much a broody grump, but one that you can’t help but love. Obviously both of their personalities make for an interesting time between the two.
The romance starts off with enemies-to-lovers vibes. They are complete opposites and want to win their own way on the paintball field. I think the first few chapters were my favorite. Their relationship quickly turns into her helping him find a match. He doesn’t want long-term and would rather have someone around for events when he needs to bring someone. It was easy to see where it was all going from there. The reason I didn’t like this one as much could be that it moved away from enemies-to-lovers rather quick. Jay showed his soft side too soon. I mean don’t get me wrong, I liked his soft side but I was just wanting more of their banter from the beginning. They do still have cute moments together so I can’t complain too much.
The plot is filled with a lot of weddings and celebrities. It was not what I was expecting but in a good way. I never knew what would happen next which is always a plus. There were some plot twists and I think they were done well. Never too dramatic and made sense.
Overall, this was a good book but just missing something. I still would recommend this series to other romance readers as I feel like this author is underrated and deserves more love!
Title: Winterfast (Bridge of Legends #4) Author: Sarah K.L. Wilson Genre: YA Fantasy Publication Date: February 5th, 2020 Publisher: Indie Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
“Marielle is free from the clock and free from Grandfather Timeless but now that she’s free they’re in a worse situation than ever. Stuck on the back of a city-sized flying dragon with their allies possessed by Legends and hunting them through the burnt-out city, how will Marielle and Tamerlan survive this madness? Because as new information comes to light, it turns out they are the only two people who can save the Dragonblood Plains from distasters that are rooted in decisions made centuries ago. Can Marielle and Tamerlan finally quell the dragons and put the Legends to rest forever? Or are they already too late?” (Goodreads)
Here is another review for a book in this series! I’m still glad I have finally had some time to get back into it. This series is a real gem and definitely needs more love, especially since it is an indie book.
The book is still told through two point-of-views, Mariella and Tamerlan. They aren’t always on the same side when it comes to forming a plan. Etienne isn’t always a fan of them either. He is also too ready to sacrifice anyone as long as it’s not him. Sometimes I’d like to punch the guy, haha. I do think that they all have the same goal in mind. Also, Jhinn is still wonderful!
The plot has thickened in this book and it’s hard to figure out how everything will be set right in the last book. There is seriously so many plot lines going at this moment! I’m glad that we are continuously learning more about the legends. I can feel some sympathy towards them because the predicament they are in wasn’t their choice. It sucks when you no longer get to choose. I liked a lot of the conversations to be had around that and just being a decent human being/friend.
Until now, there hasn’t been too much information involving the dragons besides the basic. It has been expanded on a lot throughout this book. Although it is one-sided, I can see the understanding from their perspective and do feel bad for them. It’s also about choices being taken away. It’s one theme that has been consistent throughout.
Overall, this was another enjoyable installment. Sorry it is a smaller review but I don’t want to give too much away!
Title:Autumngale (Bridge of Legends #4) Author: Sarah K.L. Wilson Genre: YA Fantasy Publication Date: November 5th, 2019 Publisher: Indie Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
“She’s stuck in a clock. He’s going mad.
Tamerlan has lost an eye, a friend, and a future. And with guilt raging through him like the fires destroying H’yi City he has only one pathway to redemption: find the Grandfather, capture him, and release Marielle from his clock. Because Grandfather Timeless has his own nefarious plans for the world. And unless someone stops him – he’ll raise the dragons again and destroy everything. Worse, every city of the Dragonblood Plains is preparing for Autumngale in their own way – and every one of them is under the threat of political upheaval, destruction, and death. Can Tamerlan change the course of history, or will he only be a pawn in the hands of the Legends?” (Goodreads)
Another four star read for this series!
I honestly thought this series couldn’t get anymore action packed but it sure does in this edition.
The book is told from two point-of-views just like in the first two books. They come from Tamerlan and Marielle. They are both in different places again so the change in point-of-views was really nice for that reason. I wasn’t sure how the plot would go with Marielle being stuck in a clock but I liked that there was a lot of background story for characters that have been around and mentioned since the beginning through her time there. I also like Tamerlan’s and Marielle’s continuous growing connection. They are very cute together even if nothing has really been done that. Their words and thoughts are enough!
Etienne continues to be an interesting character as I’m never really sure where he stands on anything. I guess you could consider him morally grey. I am very curious to see where his plot line will go. I also continue to like Jhinn and hope nothing bad ever happens to him or I will be quite sad.
The legends are still around and we learn more and more about them through each book. They also seem to have their own agenda and who really knows what they want. They are always morally grey but some of my favorite characters in the book.
Overall, this was an enjoyable edition to the series. It has a lot of action and we continue to get more character development throughout.
Title: Dreams Lie Beneath Author: Rebecca Ross Genre: YA Fantasy / Romance Publication Date: November 2nd, 2021 Publisher: Quill Tree Books Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
“A curse plagues the realm of Azenor—during each new moon, magic flows from the nearby mountain and brings nightmares to life. Only magicians, who serve as territory wardens, stand between people and their worst dreams.
Clementine Madigan is ready to take over as the warden of her small town, but when two magicians challenge her, she is unwittingly drawn into a century-old conflict. She seeks revenge, but as she secretly gets closer to Phelan, one of the handsome young magicians, secrets begin to rise. Clementine must unite with her rival to fight the realm’s curse, which seems to be haunting her every turn.” (Goodreads)
I recently read another book by this author that was an arc and really enjoyed it. Her covers are always great and the blurbs always make me curious for the story within. This book did exactly that as well. How can you say no to this cover? Magicians dueling and nightmares? Sign me up! I’m glad I was finally able to dive into this book and the unique plot it had to offer.
The book is told from one perspective and it comes from Clementine. She is an apprentice/partner to her father who is the warden of a small town. A warden’s job is to ensure that all nightmares are written down and every new moon they face one of those nightmares. I have never read any other book with this type of job and I enjoyed learning what the job entailed through Clementine and her father, as well as those they would consider their enemies.
Besides her job, Clementine is a wonderful artist. Although this talent wasn’t a large part of the book, it does play into her choices. I liked seeing Clementine be very human with her feelings, especially when it came to revenge. I think we can all relate to her because of that. We all want the final word and she comes up with a wonderful plan to do so. One that had me intrigued from the beginning and all the way until the end. It made the book very hard to put down.
The plot is not just filled with magicians dueling, nightmares, and revenge. There is romance (enemies-to-lovers if I might add!) and a mystery to solve which will hopefully break the curse that plagues them. Even though there is a lot going on, the plot is still easy to follow and it all comes together nicely. I will say that the romance lacked just a tad bit for me but not in a way that made me dislike or anything. I just wasn’t fully enamored by it. If that makes sense.
Overall, this was an enjoyable read! I liked learning about Clementine and what she would do for revenge. The other characters were fascinating, especially towards the end. The plot is unique and had me reading way past my bedtime. If you haven’t tried this one yet, I’d definitely recommend doing so. It’s also a standalone so you don’t have to commit!
Title: The Shaadi Set-Up Author: Lillie Vale Genre: Adult Contemporary / Romance Publishing Date: September 7th, 2021 Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Rating: ⭐⭐✨
“High school sweethearts Rita Chitniss and Milan Rao were the golden couple, until the day he broke her heart. Now, six years later, Rita has turned her passion for furniture restoration into a career and has an almost-perfect boyfriend, Neil. The last thing she needs is for Milan to re-enter her life, but that’s exactly what happens when her mother, an unfailing believer in second chances, sets them up. Milan is just as charming, cocky, and confident as he was back in school. Only this time, he actually needs her business expertise, not her heart, to flip a hard-to-sell house for his realty agency.
While Rita begrudgingly agrees to help, she’s not taking any risks. To prove she’s definitely over him, she signs herself and Neil up on MyShaadi.com, a Desi matchmaking site famous for its success stories and trustworthy enough to convince everyone that she and Neil are the new and improved couple. Instead, she’s shocked when MyShaadi’s perfect match for her isn’t Neil…it’s Milan. Ignoring the website and her mother is one thing, but ignoring Milan proves much more difficult, especially when she promises to help him renovate the beach house of her dreams. And as the two of them dive deeper into work—and their pasts—Rita begins to wonder if maybe her match wasn’t so wrong after all….” (Goodreads)
I was worried when it came to starting this one because I had seen some negative reviews for it. I did go in with an open mind as I had seen some positive reviews too and a book isn’t going to work for everyone. Unfortunately, this book just didn’t hit it off with me in the way I wanted it to but it did have a few good qualities about it.
The book is told from a single point-of-view and it’s from Rita. I did like learning about her job of refurbishing furniture and venturing out into interior design. I’ve always enjoyed channels like HGTV so it definitely got my attention. I understood some things about her like not wanting to be pushed into marriage and doing things at her own rate. I may have married young but I get that everyone is different and will be ready when the time comes. At least she stood her ground on that. Rita did make a lot of poor choices though and I couldn’t really understand what she was doing when it came to her love life.
The romance plot is filled with a lot of drama and some of it just felt way over the top especially as it got closer to the ending. I don’t get why she was obviously happy with Neil but she sees her ex and says, “Hey, let’s make a profile on a dating website. Obviously nothing could go wrong…”. You are literally just begging for some drama! I do wish we would have learned more about Neil before the whole second chance fiasco but it seemed like he was a great guy and then started making poor choices too that just seemed weird if he was wanting to marry Rita.
I think my favorite part of the book was the setting as I had lived in North Carolina for four years. I always love seeing New Bern mentioned because it’s one of my favorite places ever.
I do wish that there was more from the family and also her pets. It seems like they both got pushed to the backburner for a lot of the story.
Overall, this was a decent book. If you like a book caked in drama then this may be for you. There are some cute moments but it wasn’t enough to really save the book for me.
Title: How We Fall Apart Author: Katie Zhao Genre: YA Mystery / Thriller Publication Date: August 17th, 2021 Publisher: Bloomsbury YA Rating: ⭐⭐⭐✨
“Students at an elite prep school are forced to confront their secrets when their ex-best friend turns up dead.
Nancy Luo is shocked when her former best friend, Jamie Ruan, top ranked junior at Sinclair Prep, goes missing, and then is found dead. Nancy is even more shocked when word starts to spread that she and her friends–Krystal, Akil, and Alexander–are the prime suspects, thanks to “The Proctor,” someone anonymously incriminating them via the school’s social media app.
They all used to be Jamie’s closest friends, and she knew each of their deepest, darkest secrets. Now, somehow The Proctor knows them, too. The four must uncover the true killer before The Proctor exposes more than they can bear and costs them more than they can afford, like Nancy’s full scholarship. Soon, Nancy suspects that her friends may be keeping secrets from her, too.” (Goodreads)
I’ve been curious about this book and I’m glad I got the chance to sit down and read it. Although it wasn’t a favorite when it comes to the YA Mystery / Thriller genre, it is still worth reading as every time I stopped reading I would continuously think about what would happen next.
The book is told from the point-of-view of Nancy Luo. She was friends with Jamie but one day Jamie is missing from class and the next she is found dead. The plot does follow other characters that were friends with Jamie as well who had secrets and were present two years ago for the incident. I wouldn’t say that there is a lot of character development so at times it made it a bit harder to understand some characters but I also didn’t totally struggle with a connection because each one is hiding a secret and you can’t help but feel bad when everything starts to unravel. The book also does go back in the past a bit so we can understand the relationship dynamic between the characters and Jamie.
There are a lot of subjects that are talked about and some can be considered on the heavier side. The Content Warning for this book are as followed: abuse, self-harm, violence, parental neglect, panic attacks, drug use, mental illness, inappropriate student/teacher relationship, racism, and suicidal thoughts. The topics mentioned were done well even if some were brief. I think that a lot of the book and some of these warnings just show how much pressure teens feel and sometimes they just don’t know how to ask for help.
Since the plot involves a lot of secrets, it is very suspenseful and keeps you wondering who could be the one that keeps spreading everything on a gossip website. I had no clue who it was and was very surprised when it came to the reveal!
Overall, this was a good read as it was quite interesting and did keep me wanting to continuously read. I’m keeping the review short because it is a mystery/thriller book and it’s always best to go in not knowing much!