Book Review: A River Of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy

Book: A River Of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy

Published October 2019 by Putnam|368 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: A River Of Royal Blood #1

Genre: YA

An enthralling debut perfect for fans of Children of Blood and Bone set in a North African-inspired fantasy world where two sisters must fight to the death to win the crown.

Sixteen-year-old Eva is a princess, born with the magick of marrow and blood–a dark and terrible magick that hasn’t been seen for generations in the vibrant but fractured country of Myre. Its last known practitioner was Queen Raina, who toppled the native khimaer royalty and massacred thousands, including her own sister, eight generations ago, thus beginning the Rival Heir tradition. Living in Raina’s long and dark shadow, Eva must now face her older sister, Isa, in a battle to the death if she hopes to ascend to the Ivory Throne–because in the Queendom of Myre only the strongest, most ruthless rulers survive.

When Eva is attacked by an assassin just weeks before the battle with her sister, she discovers there is more to the attempt on her life than meets the eye–and it isn’t just her sister who wants to see her dead. As tensions escalate, Eva is forced to turn to a fey instructor of mythic proportions and a mysterious and handsome khimaer prince for help in growing her magick into something to fear. Because despite the love she still has for her sister, Eva will have to choose: Isa’s death or her own.

A River of Royal Blood is an enthralling debut set in a lush North African inspired fantasy world that subtly but powerfully challenges our notions of power, history, and identity.

I liked A River Of Royal Blood!  It’s like a combination of Children Of Blood And Bone, Throne Of Glass, and Three Dark Crowns.

It’s definitely an interesting book, and I really want to know more about Eva’s magic.  Hopefully, we’ll see more of her magic and learn more about it.  Her magic seems like the sort of magic that people are wary of it, and that makes me want to see it more.  I totally get why we didn’t, and I’m hoping there’s a way for Eva to use her magic without too much trouble.  Honestly, it’s not looking good, but hopefully, things will work themselves out.

Isa’s magic actually scares me more than Eva’s.  The control she has over people, and the way she’s able to bend them to their will is much more terrifying than killing.  I mean, it seems like that’s what Eva’s magic is, but it’s hard to say because I feel like we get so little about it.  But for now, what Isa can do is a lot more scary.  I really want to see what any challenge or battle would look like between the two.

I did feel bad for Eva, because it seems like she was kept in the dark about so many things.  I can’t imagine being close to a sibling and then finding out that one of you won’t survive the fight for the throne.  It made me sad for Eva.  And finding out that my magic was bound, and can only be removed by someone who’s no longer around to do it?  That would also be a terrible thing to know.  I can get why these things would be kept for her, but it made things harder for her, especially at court.  But I also felt like, in the end, she also decided she had to fight for her life.  Hers is a world where it’s killed or be killed, and I feel she really made the decision to fight after everything that happened.

Not that it wasn’t there before, but it seemed like she lived in Isa’s shadow.  It was like she accepted that Isa was going to be queen, and was everyone’s favorite.  I think it took a while for Eva to believe in herself, and hopefully, she’ll continue to do so.

This book is definitely Eva’s journey, but there is part of me that wanted to see more of Isa.  I’m not always a big fan of multiple narrators, but I think seeing a few chapters from Isa’s POV would have been interesting.  Still, I’m glad we got to follow Eva, and I definitely find myself rooting for her.

3 stars.  I liked A River Of Royal Blood.  While I don’t think I’ll be rushing to read the next book in the series, I’m still interested enough to see what happens next for Eva.

Book Review: Serpent And Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Book: Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Published September 2019 by HarperTeen|513 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: Serpent & Dove #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.

Serpent & Dove was just okay.  I wanted to like it more, because overall, the story was pretty cool.

I mean, a witch marries the man who’s hunting her.  It actually bothered me that she was pretty much forced into it to make the Chasseurs look good.  It was hard to get past that, especially once we learn a lot more about the witches and the church.  The church, by the way, reminded me a lot of the Catholic church, and something about how witches are hunted down made me think of the Spanish Inquisition.

I didn’t care for the relationship between Lou and Reid, and I think it’s because of how they’re forced together.  I just had a hard time rooting for them, knowing what I know about Lou and how she had to hide it.  How she managed to keep it hidden from Reid for so long surprised me, but then again, he seemed oblivious at times.

The beginning and the ending were interesting but it was hard to get through the middle of the book.  We learn a lot at the end of the book, and there’s a lot of action at both the beginning and the end, but it felt like the middle was full of nothing I cared about.  I’m actually surprised I finished it, because there were times I wanted to just not finish the book.  I did want to know how everything came together but I don’t know if I’ll be picking up the next book.  It just felt really slow and long.

I felt like, even though there’s more than enough story for a sequel or two, that the story did wrap up pretty well.  It would work well as a stand-alone novel, in my opinion.

2 stars.  Serpent & Dove was okay, and really long and slow-paced.

Book Review: The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton

Book: The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton

Published March 2019 by Freeform|344 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: The Belles #2

Genre: YA Fantasy

In this sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller, Camille, her sister Edel, and her guard and new love Remy must race against time to find Princess Charlotte. Sophia’s Imperial forces will stop at nothing to keep the rebels from returning Charlotte to the castle and her rightful place as queen. With the help of an underground resistance movement called The Iron Ladies-a society that rejects beauty treatments entirely-and the backing of alternative newspaper The Spider’s Web, Camille uses her powers, her connections and her cunning to outwit her greatest nemesis, Sophia, and restore peace to Orleans. 

I have really mixed feelings about The Everlasting Rose.  I really liked The Belles when I read it almost two years ago- enough to pick up the sequel and see what happened next.  But I’m not sure how I feel about the sequel.

I really liked the world and we see more of it in this one.  I felt like the underground resistance randomly came up but I also feel like it sort of makes sense, considering how little Camille actually knew.  We learned some stuff at the end of The Belles that is the focus in this book.  Sophia really takes things to a different level, and part of me wishes we had spent more time closer to Sophia to actually see what happens.  We do get it in bits and pieces throughout the book, which is fine, and works okay enough, considering what’s going on with Camille, Edel and Remy.

I did like the significance of the Everlasting Rose, and how it had a few different meanings.  I really liked the moments where I got to see each meaning of it.  One is definitely better than the other, that’s for sure.

There’s definitely more to the Belles power than I originally thought.  It was hinted at in The Belles, and I did kind of like how it was used throughout the book.  It makes me wish we saw it earlier in the series, because I wanted to see a little bit more of it, but I think it worked well here.  Just because the first book had a different focus than this one, and it might have been a little out of place in this book.

Changes are in store for Orleans, and under Sophia’s rule, you see how much it affects everyone.  What people think about the changes under Charlotte’s rule remains to be seen, and hopefully, we’ll see that in the last book.  Even though my overall feeling is…meh…I still want to finish out the series and see how much has changed.  I won’t be rushing out to get the next book, but at some point, when it is released, I’ll pick it up and read it.

I wanted to like it more, but considering how fast I went through this book, I didn’t like it as much as I could have.  It did keep me reading, though, so I’ll give it that.

2 stars.  Overall, The Everlasting Rose was okay.  The world is interesting but I lost interest in Camille’s world in this book.  Hopefully, the next book get my attention a lot more than this one day.

Book Review: Only Ashes Remain by Rebecca Schaeffer

Book: Only Ashes Remain by Rebecca Schaeffer

Published September 2019 by HMH Books For Younger Readers|432 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: Market Of Monsters #2

Genre: YA Fantasy

After escaping her kidnappers and destroying the black market where she was held captive, all Nita wants is to find a way to live her life without looking over her shoulder. But with a video of her ability to self-heal all over the dark web, Nita knows she’s still a prime target on the black market.

There’s only one way to keep herself safe.

Nita must make herself so feared that no one would ever dare come after her again. And the best way to start building her reputation? Take her revenge on Fabricio, the boy who sold Nita to her kidnappers. But killing Fabricio is harder than Nita thought it would be, even with Kovit by her side. Now caught in a game of kill or be killed, Nita will do whatever it takes to win.

I was really excited about Only Ashes Remain, and it ended up being an okay book.  I didn’t like it as much as Not Even Bones, to the point that I’m not sure if I want to finish the series and see how it all ends.

Usually I finish a series if I make it past the first book, but I was pretty uninterested in what was going on.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about Nita in the first book, and in this one?  She was really frustrating.  I get her need to take revenge on Fabricio, but as it would turn out, she was so very wrong about everything that had happened.  There’s a lot that she didn’t realize or see, and I wonder if being at home so much hurt her.

Nita is pretty naive, but that makes sense considering the world she lives and how she grew up.  She trusted the wrong people, and was so focused on going after Fabricio that she didn’t realize the real danger until it was too late.  I don’t know that I would have acted any differently if I were her, and I did like seeing her finally figure things out.

I don’t really have strong thoughts about any of the characters.  Kovit is interesting, and I want to know more about him.  Kovit and Nita have a lot to work out but hopefully they’ll be able to agree to disagree.  It felt like everyone was just…there, and even though we meet quite a few people along the way, I could not begin to tell you anything about them.  I couldn’t even tell you names, much less anything about them.  That’s how little they stuck out.  It’s also been a few days since I’ve finished the book, so that might be part of it too.

I was so curious to see what would happen next, and now I’m not sure if I even want to know how things work out for Nita, Fabricio and Kovit.  I just wasn’t into this book, which is sad because I was so interested in reading it.  Maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood for it, or maybe I just wasn’t into this book.  Either one is possible, and I’m thinking it’s a little bit of both.  I wish I had more to say about this one, but I don’t.

2 stars.  Only Ashes Remain was just okay, and even though I like the world Nita lives in, I just don’t know if I want to keep reading.

Book Review: Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon

Book: Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon

Published October 2019 by Delacorte Press|416 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: Gravemaidens #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

The start of a fierce fantasy duology about three maidens who are chosen for their land’s greatest honor…and one girl determined to save her sister from the grave.

In the walled city-state of Alu, Kammani wants nothing more than to become the accomplished healer her father used to be before her family was cast out of their privileged life in shame.

When Alu’s ruler falls deathly ill, Kammani’s beautiful little sister, Nanaea, is chosen as one of three sacred maidens to join him in the afterlife. It’s an honor. A tradition. And Nanaea believes it is her chance to live an even grander life than the one that was stolen from her.

But Kammani sees the selection for what it really is—a death sentence.

Desperate to save her sister, Kammani schemes her way into the palace to heal the ruler. There she discovers more danger lurking in the sand-stone corridors than she could have ever imagined and that her own life—and heart—are at stake. But Kammani will stop at nothing to dig up the palace’s buried secrets even if it means sacrificing everything…including herself.

I really liked Gravemaidens!  I was drawn in by the cover, which is really pretty.  And it sounded like something I’d like to read.

I loved how Kammani just wanted to save her sister.  I also loved that she sees the selection of her sister to be a death sentence.  Everyone- or most everyone- sees it as an honor but Kammani wasn’t one of them, and that was nice to see.  She really does everything she can to save the ruler of her country, though it seems to be to save her sister from dying, and not because he’s a good ruler or anything like that.

She’s definitely trying to figure things out, even though it ends up being pretty dangerous for her.  Things go in a completely different way than she expected, and things weren’t what they seemed.  The book stands on its own pretty well, though I’m curious to see how the second (and final) book goes.

Gravemaidens does have a lot of elements that I’ve seen in other fantasy books, so nothing was particularly surprising as far as characters or plot goes.  It didn’t get in the way of me enjoying the book at all, because I did like Kammani and how she was willing to figure things out.  You could tell she cared about her sister, and they do have a really great moment towards the end of the book.

Something about going into the afterlife made me think of Greek mythology.  Maybe it’s because Netherworld was mentioned frequently, and paying the Boatman coin came up several times.  I know the afterlife isn’t a concept solely related to Greek mythologies, because it comes up in a lot of religions.  But I did finish Outrun The Wind recently, and that’s a Greek mythology retelling, so maybe I just have Ancient Greece/Greek mythology on my mind.  Now, I’m curious to know if she was inspired by any kind of mythology.

Still, I wanted to know more about Kammani’s world.  You get an idea of what it’s like, and I hope we see more of it in the next book.

I liked Kammani but I didn’t love her.  I’m not sure why I didn’t love her but you could tell saving her sister was important.  I wasn’t a big fan of her sister, Nanaea, who came across as spoiled for most of the book.  She did make more sense and I understood her better by the end of the book, but I still haven’t warmed up to her.

Speaking of liking or not liking characters, I wasn’t a fan of Dagan.  Something about how much he wanted to be with Kammani was off-putting to me, and even though he said he didn’t want to push her, he also seemed much more interested in her than she was in him.  I wasn’t interested in anything romantic between Dagan and Kammani but I was intrigued by the possibility of Naru and Kammani.  I feel like anything romantic has been set up for Dagan and Kammani, but if it does, it’ll take a lot of convincing to get me on board.

4 stars.  I really liked Gravemaidens and considering that things seemed to be wrapped up pretty well, I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Book Review: Outrun The Wind by Elizabeth Tammi

Book: Outrun The Wind by Elizabeth Tammi

Published November 2018 by Flux|302 pages

Where I Got It: I own the paperback

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy/Re-Telling

The Huntresses of Artemis must obey two rules: never disobey the goddess, and never fall in love. After being rescued from a harrowing life as an Oracle of Delphi, Kahina is glad to be a part of the Hunt; living among a group of female warriors gives her a chance to reclaim her strength, even while her prophetic powers linger. But when a routine mission goes awry, Kahina breaks the first rule in order to save the legendary huntress Atalanta.

To earn back Artemis’s favor, Kahina must complete a dangerous task in the kingdom of Arkadia— where the king’s daughter is revealed to be none other than Atalanta. Still reeling from her disastrous quest and her father’s insistence on marriage, Atalanta isn’t sure what to make of Kahina. As her connection to Atalanta deepens, Kahina finds herself in danger of breaking Artemis’ second rule.

She helps Atalanta devise a dangerous game to avoid marriage, and word spreads throughout Greece, attracting suitors willing to tempt fate to go up against Atalanta in a race for her hand. But when the men responsible for both the girls’ dark pasts arrive, the game turns deadly.

I thought Outrun The Wind was just okay.  I wanted to like it more, but I had a really hard time getting into it.

I was bored the entire time I was reading the story.  If you’re looking for any action, this is not the book for you.  It moved at what felt like a snail’s pace, and I had a hard time staying interested in the book.  I wanted something more to happen, and it didn’t.

I liked the setting, though.  Kahina’s world is one where gods and goddesses roam the earth, and are living, breathing people.  It’s too bad we only got a glimpse of Artemis, but this book wasn’t about her- it was about Kahina and Atalanta.  I’ve heard of Atalanta, but I don’t know her story, so I can’t speak to this book as a re-telling of her story.  I felt like I was in Ancient Greece the entire time, and though the setting didn’t feel like an additional character, I think the world was still one I wanted to spend more time in.

I don’t know how I feel about Kahina or Atalanta.  I didn’t feel particularly interested in their stories or what happened to them, and I wish their backstories felt a little more clear.  Their pasts felt really muddled, and we get some tidbits about what happened, but it seemed a little fuzzy to me.  Maybe I just wasn’t paying enough attention.

It seemed like it was supposed to be a romance, but I didn’t pick up on that at all.  The description made it seem like there was going to be romance involved, but it felt like they went from enemies to friends and never quite made it beyond friends.  Unless I’m massively missing out on something, and I’m completely and utterly clueless.  Maybe I just need to be hit over the head with it, because any romantic connection that was in this book went over my head.

Kahina and Atalanta just didn’t feel completely fleshed out to me, though I felt like we knew Kahina a little bit better.  Atalanta felt a little more guarded and closed off, but I still feel like we didn’t get to know them as much as we could have.  Maybe that’s why I felt like they never moved past the friends stage.

2 stars.  Outrun The Wind was okay, and I wanted to like it more than I really did.  It wasn’t for me, but if you like Greek mythology, this might be worth checking out.

Book Review: Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer

Book: Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer

Published September 2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt|368 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: Market Of Monsters #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

Dexter meets This Savage Song in this dark fantasy about a girl who sells magical body parts on the black market — until she’s betrayed.

Nita doesn’t murder supernatural beings and sell their body parts on the internet—her mother does that. Nita just dissects the bodies after they’ve been “acquired.” But when her mom brings home a live specimen, Nita decides she wants out — dissecting living people is a step too far.

But when she tries to save her mother’s victim, she ends up sold on the black market in his place — because Nita herself is a supernatural being. Now Nita is on the other side of the bars, and there is no line she won’t cross to escape and make sure no one can ever capture her again.

Nita did a good deed, and it cost her everything. Now she’s going to do a lot of bad deeds to get it all back.

I really liked Not Even Bones!  I was intrigued by the plot, and I went through this book pretty fast because I wanted to keep reading.

I thought Nita was interesting.  I don’t know if I like her- I haven’t quite decided on that yet- but her character was an interesting one.  I mean, she can heal herself, in a world that doesn’t look kindly upon people with unnatural abilities.  Yes, she helps her mother by dissecting magical creatures so her mother can sell them on the black market, and yes, she realizes that there is no line she won’t cross to get her life back to normal.

She had lines she wouldn’t cross, and ends up throwing all of that out the window once she ends up on the black market.  I don’t know if I like her but I really want to see what she’ll do to get her life back to where she wants it.

I really want to know more about Fabricio and her mom.  Fabricio pops up at the beginning and the end, so who knows what he’s doing for most of the book?  What’s he really up to?  Whatever it is, I hope we find out.

As for her mom, selling her to the black market seems like something she would do.  What happened to her mom, and will we ever find out if she’s dead or alive?  We definitely find out what happened to her dad, but her mom?  What’s she been doing since Nita got taken?  I have so many questions about her, and I hope at least some of them get answered.

I did like Kovit, though.  I wasn’t sure about him for a while, but he’s a pretty cool character.  I like that he won’t hurt friends or family, and I want him to be okay.  He definitely grew on me, and he and Nita have a pretty interesting but understandable agreement/relationship.

I’m hoping there isn’t a love triangle.  There isn’t one in this book, but I feel like this book is setting one up for the rest of the series.  At the beginning of the book, I thought that Nita and Fabricio might end up together, but knowing what I know now, I do not want them to end up together, should romance come up.  I don’t know what would change my mind about him, but at this point, it’s going to take a lot to get me to change my mind.

4 stars.  I really liked Not Even Bones, and I can’t wait to read the next one, if only to see what happens with Nita and Fabricio.

Book Review: Five Dark Fates by Kendare Blake

Book: Five Dark Fates by Kendare Blake

Published September 2019 by HarperTeen|464 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: Three Dark Crowns #4

Genre: YA Fantasy

After the battle with Katharine, the rebellion lies in tatters. Jules’s legion curse has been unbound, leaving her out of her mind and unfit to rule. Arsinoe must find a cure, even as the responsibility of stopping the ravaging mist rests heavy on her shoulders, and her shoulders alone. Mirabella has disappeared.

Queen Katharine’s rule over Fennbirn remains intact—for now. But her attack on the rebellion exacted a high price: her beloved Pietyr. Without him, who can she rely upon when Mirabella arrives, seemingly under a banner of truce? As oldest and youngest circle each other, and Katharine begins to yearn for the closeness that Mirabella and Arsinoe share, the dead queens hiss caution—Mirabella is not to be trusted.

In this conclusion to the Three Dark Crowns series, three dark sisters will rise to fight as the secrets of Fennbirn’s history are laid bare. Allegiances will shift. Bonds will be tested, and some broken forever.

The fate of the island lies in the hands of its queens.

I liked Five Dark Fates.  Not as much as the other books but I did want to know what happened, and if all of the queens made it through alive.

This book was definitely full of twists and turned, and while I wasn’t surprised by some of the things that happened, I did enjoy the book a lot.

Well, what I remember.  It’s been a while since I’ve read it, so I’m having a hard time remembering it.  I did like the ending and I thought, overall, it was pretty fitting.  I was glad things worked out for the island, though there are a lot of changes in store for them.

Things are definitely going to be different for them, and part of me wishes we got to see what happened decades later.  But I’m also glad we didn’t, because it means I get to come up with my own version of how things changed.

I’m having a hard a time with this review.  That’s what I get for putting it off, and now I feel like I can’t remember anything about it.  Clearly, this book didn’t stick with me, and for a series finale, that’s not a good thing.  You’d think there would be some excitement or something that would really stand out but the book was pretty slow.  I wanted more action and excitement, especially because we had that in the other books.  I wanted a more exciting conclusion, and this was a lot less interesting than I thought it would be.

Katharine was interesting- the dead queens didn’t seem to have the same hold over her in this book, and it makes me wonder why we didn’t see it before.  I don’t know if it took some time for it to happen, and I’m not completely sure what to make of it.  It was different but I don’t know what to think of it.

Not everyone makes it out alive, which didn’t surprise me.  I think I would have been disappointed if they had.  I wasn’t necessarily surprised by some of the deaths, but with a series like this, I felt like it had to happen.  And I feel like, to a certain extent, it had to mirror what had happens hundreds of years earlier with the Blue Queen.

3 stars.  I liked Five Dark Fates, and I liked seeing what happened to all of the characters, but it wasn’t the exciting finale I thought it would be.

ARC Book Review: Find Me Their Bones by Sara Wolf

Book: Find Me Their Bones by Sara Wolf

Expected Publication Is November 5, 2019 by Entangled Teen|Expected Number Of Pages: 400 pages

Where I Got It: I received an advanced reader copy from netgalley.com in exchange for a fair and honest review

Series: Bring Me Their Hearts #2

Genre: YA Fantasy

No one can save her.

In order to protect Prince Lucien d’Malvane’s heart, Zera had to betray him. Now, he hates the sight of her. Trapped in Cavanos as a prisoner of the king, she awaits the inevitable moment her witch severs their magical connection and finally ends her life.

But fate isn’t ready to give her up just yet.

With freedom coming from the most unlikely of sources, Zera is given a second chance at life as a Heartless. But it comes with a terrible price. As the king mobilizes his army to march against the witches, Zera must tame an elusive and deadly valkerax trapped in the tunnels underneath the city if she wants to regain her humanity.

Winning over a bloodthirsty valkerax? Hard. Winning back her friends before war breaks out? A little harder.

But a Heartless winning back Prince Lucien’s heart?

The hardest thing she’s ever done.

I really liked Find Me Their Bones!  I’ve been looking forward to reading this book, especially with how the first book ended.  I really wanted to know what happened.

We learn a lot more about Veria, and I’m glad we did.  She had a really interesting story, and it was nice to learn so much more about this character we’ve only heard about.  Getting her backstory was a really good thing for this book, because I felt like things started to fall into place.

Find Me Their Bones picks up right where Bring Me Their Hearts left off.  There is no gap in time between the ending of the first book and the beginning of this one, and that made me happy because I was pretty desperate to know what happened.  Things definitely changed for Zera and Lucien but there’s a lot going on for all the characters.

Zera is still her snarky self, though I loved the moments with Yorl and with the valkerax.  I loved the concept of true names.  Granted, the idea of true names isn’t unique to this book, but I loved how it was used.  Names really do have power, and it makes me wonder if it was something specific to this book or if we’ll see it again in the next book.

The mythology gets an added dimension in this book, and I loved what it added to Zera’s world.  There is so much more to this world than I ever thought possible, and I’m glad we saw more of it in this book.  I hope the world gets a little bit bigger in the next book, but if the next one is the last one, then I don’t know how much more we’ll see since things need to get resolved.  Still, I feel like what we learn in this book moves the story forward, and I’m definitely interested to see how everything gets wrapped up.

There’s a lot of twists and turns and I’m having a hard time talking about this book without giving anything away.  I am glad I read it and it was interesting, from start to finish.

4 stars.  I really liked Find Me Their Bones, and I can’t wait to read the next book!

ARC Book Review: Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw

Book: Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw

Expected Publication is November 5, 2019 by Simon Pulse|Expected Number Of Pages: 320

Where I Got It: I received an advanced reader copy from netgalley.com in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Wicked Deep comes a haunting romance set deep in the magical snow-covered forest, where the appearance of a mysterious boy unearths secrets that awakens the enchanted, but angry, woods.

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.

I really enjoyed The Wicked Deep when I read it around a year ago, and I’ve been looking forward to read Winterwood for quite a while.  I liked it but not as much as I thought I would.

I really liked the atmosphere.  There’s something quiet, creepy and isolating about the woods and the houses that are nearby.  With the snowstorm, and not being able to leave, it felt suffocating.  Gothic comes to mind, and there were times when I forgot that this book wasn’t set decades ago, but was set in our present.  Something about the woods and lake felt so old.

The setting is as much as a character as the actual people we see.  I’m amazed Ernshaw was able to do it, and do it well but this book was the perfect book to read this time of year.

I knew something was going on with Oliver but I wasn’t sure what it was.  You think you know what happened, but you really don’t.  Unless you’re better at guessing and figuring things out than I am, which is possible.  In all honesty, I’m not sure how I feel about him.

I don’t have strong feelings either way, and I honestly couldn’t tell you much about him.  Even though he does narrate part of the book, not a lot stands out.  You do see him struggle with telling Nora about what happened the night that led him to being in the woods, and seeing the mystery unravel was interesting but I wasn’t super-interested in that part of the book.

Don’t get me wrong, I was interested in unraveling the mystery of Oliver but it wasn’t what kept me reading.

What kept me reading was the magic and the forest.  Nora’s family had quite the history, and I loved seeing the sections of the book that described someone in her family.  I was wondering if Nora had anything magical, and it turned out she did, but it’s not something we see until the end of the book.  I was surprised by her abilities, and it makes me wonder why we didn’t see it before.  But maybe there wasn’t a need for her ability to make an appearance until the events of this book.

Some things were repetitive- like how weird people thought her family was, and how her mom didn’t acknowledge they were witches.  It didn’t detract from the book, but it did get tiring to hear it throughout the book.

3 stars.  Winterwood is definitely slow-paced, and not a lot happens in terms of plot, but the atmosphere and the setting were amazing.