WINTER MOOD READ: Winterwood Review

Summary (from the publisher): Be careful of the dark, dark wood . . .

51kGgJIqgeL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_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

 

 My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

 My Thoughts:

During the latter half of the fall season and beginning of winter, my bookish soul especially craves books whose atmosphere matches the weather – and makes for the perfect blanket and tea companion. Enter Shea Ernshaw’s recent release, Winterwood. The book follows Nora Walker, whose family is rumored to be composed of witches, when she finds Oliver stranded in the woods after a bad snow storm. Nora is set to determine what led to Oliver being lost and her feelings for this lost boy.

Ordinarily, I feel like Winterwood is the type of book that I wouldn’t like. I often have a love-hate relationship with spooky books set in the woods (it’s a trope, okay?) , but I fell in love with Winterwood. Told primarily from Nora’s perspective, with a few chapters from Oliver’s perspective, I really loved Shea Ernshaw’s writing style. There was such a nice balance between the plot and action, but also Nora’s looking back on her family’s past and the nature setting in general.

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My favorite part of the book was learning more about Nora’s family and their magical history. Nora is both comforted and haunted by memories of her grandmother, who encouraged Nora to understand her family history. On the other hand, Nora’s mother wishes that her daughter would leave their secrets behind. I could never put the book  down when I came to one of the many excerpts from the Walker family spell book. I found the spells to be so clever in how they connected to the described witch’s power, but I also wonder if Shea Ernshaw tested out any! Nora is the only witch in her family whose nightshade, or power, has not come to light just yet. I loved her connection to the woods, the Wicker Woods, and nature overall. I loved learning about the lost items that pop up in the woods.

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When the Stars Lead to You Review & Favorite Quotes

Summary (from the publisher):
Eighteen-year-old Devon longs for two things. starscov

The stars.
And the boy she fell in love with last summer.

When Ashton breaks Devon’s heart at the end of the most romantic and magical summer ever, she thinks her heart will never heal again. But over the course of the following year, Devon finds herself slowly putting the broken pieces back together.

Now it’s senior year, and she’s determined to enjoy every moment of it as she prepares for a future studying the galaxies. That is, until Ashton shows up on the first day of school. Can she forgive him and open her heart again? Or are they doomed to repeat history?

From debut author, Ronni Davis, comes a stunning novel about passion, loss, and the power of first love.

 

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Kobo | iBooks | IndieBound 

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My Rating: 3/5 Stars

My Thoughts:
I’m always up for contemporary romance, not to mention one where the romance begins at the beach. When the Stars Lead to You starts with Devon and Ashton’s summer romance at the shore. The two spend many summer nights under the stars- Devon is a budding astrophysicist after all. But when Ashton breaks Devon’s heart at the very end of the summer, it takes a long time for her heart to heal. After the next summer, Devon enters her senior year ready to enjoy every moment with her best friend and compete for a spot in her #1 college’s astrophysics program—until Ashton shows up on the first day of school.

When the Stars Lead to You starts off with a very sweet romance, as Ashton and Devon spend the summer together. As someone who is trying to brace herself for the upcoming winter weather, I loved being transported to warm summer days at the beach. I didn’t mind the insta-love too much because I knew based off the synopsis that Aston and Devon wouldn’t be starting the school year together. However, that’s where my love for the insta-love ended.

Between their summer romance and the development of their relationship during the school year, Ashton and Devon’s relationship moves very fast. While I don’t mind insta-love sometimes, their relationship moved too far too fast. While I’ll get into their relationship more, I also found some of their dialogue a bit cringe-worthy. Although I guess it was somewhat predictable, I didn’t even understand why Devon decided to rush into another relationship with Ashton. However, I do understand why Ashton decided to end things to the first place because of his struggles with depression.

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Top Five Wednesday: Favorite 2019 Book Covers

2019 has not only been filled with ALL the amazing books, but also ALL the amazing covers for said books. For today’s Top Five Wednesday, I’ll be sharing my top five favorite covers for 2019 releases.

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 Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo– Google Images does not do Ninth House‘s cover justice. I love the way the snake pops out on the physical copy.

Maybe This Time by Kasie West– For a while, I wasn’t in love with real people on book covers, but the 2019 cover game has changed this for me. Maybe This Time is definitely my favorite Kasie West book cover and overall captures the story’s aesthetic.

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 There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon – I firmly believe that Sandhya Menon has some of the best book covers in the YA world. Regarding There’s Something About Sweetie specifically, I love the contrast of those purple and primary splashes of color. I also love the back of the book featuring Dimple and Ashish on the track. As expected, since the Dimple and Rishi books are now considered a companion series, I really love how When Dimple Met Rishi, There’s Something About Sweetie, and now 10 Things I Hate About Pinky flow so well together. While not part of the series, From Twinkle, with Love also falls into their aesthetic. 

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ALL-FAVORITE READ: All-American Muslim Girl Review

Summary (from the publisher):Allie Abraham has it all going for her—she’s a 91AwIiYLSnL.jpgstraight-A student, with good friends and a close-knit family, and she’s dating cute, popular, and sweet Wells Henderson. One problem: Wells’s father is Jack Henderson, America’s most famous conservative shock jock…and Allie hasn’t told Wells that her family is Muslim. It’s not like Allie’s religion is a secret, exactly. It’s just that her parents don’t practice and raised her to keep her Islamic heritage to herself. But as Allie witnesses ever-growing Islamophobia in her small town and across the nation, she begins to embrace her faith—studying it, practicing it, and facing hatred and misunderstanding for it. Who is Allie, if she sheds the façade of the “perfect” all-American girl? What does it mean to be a “Good Muslim?” And can a Muslim girl in America ever truly fit in?

 

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

 It’s safe to say that we’ve all read books that we’d know we love from the get-go. But I think what’s even better than that feeling sometimes is when you pick up a book and it transforms from something you think you’d enjoy to something that you absolutely love. Enter Nadine Jolie Courtney’s upcoming release All-American Muslim Girl, a book that I all of a sudden couldn’t part ways from. This book so would’ve been a binge read for me if my first full draft of my senior English research paper hadn’t been due the same week. Luckily for me, I was still able to eat it up over the course of three sittings.

All-American Muslim Girl follows high school sophomore Allie, who on the outside appears to be your average American girl. She has red hair and a white complexion, a great relationship with her parents, good grades, and a budding relationship with the cutest boy in the school. What most people don’t realize about Allie is that she is Muslim. Since her parents don’t practice and tend to keep Allie away from faith, Allie doesn’t think her secret is too big of a deal. However, as Allie witnesses Islamophobia more and more, including from her boyfriend’s dad, she wants to learn about her faith and finds herself practicing and studying it while trying to understand the hatred and misunderstanding.

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I admit that it took me the first seventy pages or so to fully get into All-American Muslim Girl. Allie talks to her mom about what it was like for her when she decided to convert to Islam when she married Allie’s dad and why the two don’t really practice religion. It was Allie’s interest in learning more about her faith that really gets the plot going on. Allie decides to practice and makes many discoveries about her religion, her family, the way people treat her, and most importantly, herself. It’s been a while since I read a book that involved religion so much. It was really refreshing to see Allie transform from someone who feared about outsiders learning about her background to someone who freely practices and has much reverence for her religion.

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Five Star Predictions Results: 2019 Release Edition

Back in January, I predicted what books that came out in 2019 would earn a five star rating from yours truly. I didn’t start doing five star predictions until this year (my backlist predictions results will be coming shortly), but I definitely foresee myself doing them more in the future. I’ve divided my results by my correct predictions (aka the books that received 5 stars) and my incorrect predictions, going from highest to lowest ratings.

Out of the 11 books on my list, I only read 10- but I have a good excuse, I promise! Siobhan Vivian’s We Are the Wildcats was originally slated, according to Goodreads at least, to come in 2019 but was pushed back in March 2020- here’s a spoiler for one book that will be on my 2020 Release predictions. It also helped that I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of Emery Lord’s The Map From Here to There and read it this year, since the book comes out in early January 2020.

Correct Predictions 

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell & Faith Erin Hicks- In short, Pumpkinheads was nearly everything I wanted from a fall-themed graphic novel by my favorite author. And where it didn’t exactly meet my expectations, it replaced them for more autumnal goodness. For example, I thought the book would be more about best friends Deja and Josie working in an actual pumpkin patch (picture rows and rows of pumpkins), but instead they work at different types of food and activity booths at a pumpkin patch/fall festival.

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Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett- Serious Moonlight was my most anticipated contemporary release of 2019 and it is easily my favorite contemporary book of the year! This book delivered in every single element, from the character development to family to romance to the cravings-worthy pies from the Moonlight Diner.

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Maybe This Time by Kasie West- Maybe This Time completely delivered on its synopsis, following a girl who works for her town’s floral shop and nine events over the year (hello Four Weddings and a Funeral vibes). The unique setting completely sold for me. I loved Sophie for her snarkiness and interests in design and fashion. This book is the perfect five-star bing-read because you won’t be able to part from it for too long.

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Top Five Wednesday: End of 2019 TBR

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” andddddd my TBR is still (wonderfully) going to likely topple over me.

Christmas-themed jokes are always the best way of evaluating what books you need to get to by the end of the year, at least in the Fangirl Fury handbook. I am perfect content with the amount of books that I have read so far this year, but there are definitely some specific books that I need to read before the end of 2019.

I create a decent amount of TBR posts (that I don’t end up following too closely 50% of the time), but I am for sure reading all 5 books on this list before the end of the year. I actually read all the books on my end of 2018 TBR before the new year okay, I Capture the Castle did go into January, but it still counts! I’ve been somewhat planning out my monthly TBRs this fall, thanks to my hectic school schedule, so I can say that I am 100% committing to this one. Since I can dedicate more time to reading in December, I also love knowing what books I want to dive right into once the school break begins

The Toll (Arc of a Scythe #3) by Neal Shusterman- I’m not going to say too much above this one because everyone knows how much I have been anticipating this book since reading Thunderhead back in February 2018. I am for sure making sure I have The Toll  on my end of 2019 TBR checked out from the library for my Thanksgiving break.

The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air #3) by Holly Black- My end of 2019 TBR is apparently somewhat about trilogy conclusions, of course including The Queen of Nothing. This is another trilogy case in which I loved the sequel so much (The Wicked King) that I need book #3 ASAP.

Renegades (Renegades #1) by Marissa Meyer- Renegades is not allowed to show up on any future TBR posts of mine. I usually bring books back to school with me after weekend visits home, and you better believe Renegades came back with me after my latest trip. I am SO committed to finally getting to this one, with the trilogy conclusion, Supernova, out in the world. If I enjoy Renegades enough, I definitely see myself binge-reading Archenemies and Supernova  before the new year.

One Day in December by Josie Silver– I think I tried getting my hands on One Day in December from the library last December, but I was still on the holds list in January. I love reading as many Christmas/holiday-themed books as I can between October and December.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren- A book that I tried reading this summer, but another book that sat on my library on-hold list for too long and then I was back at school for the fall. The Unhoneymooners is many of my friends’ favorite Christina Lauren book.

Top 5 Wednesday is a collaborative group of book bloggers from various platforms who love sharing lists on Wednesdays. The T5W group can be found here on Goodreads.

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What books do you want to read before the end of the year? Have you read any of the books above? Share in the comments!

My Favorite Fairy Tale Retellings: Inspired by Sea Witch Rising

With the colder weather, aka cozy season, approaching, I always find myself reaching for more fantasy this time of year. Fairy tale retellings are among my favorite genres in fantasy, and we fortunately have had some amazing retellings in the YA world over the past few years. I am currently reading the sequel to Sarah Henning’s Sea Witch, Sea Witch Rising. With major The Little Mermaid vibes, Sea Witch Rising continues  Sea Witch’s villainous origin story and emphasizes sisterhood, love, and magic.

Inspired by Sarah Henning’s Sea Witch Rising, today I’ll be discussing my favorite YA fairytale retellings.

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Geekerella and The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston (Once Upon a Con series #1 & #2)- Most fairy tale retellings take place in fantasy books, so I really love how Ashley Poston’s Once Upon a Con companion series takes on the contemporary genre. The series follows a set of characters who are fans of the fictional Starfield franchise and attend the fandom’s annual convention. Geekerella takes on Cinderella, while the Princess and the Fangirl is a Princess and the Pauper retelling. I’m so excited that there is going to be a third book in the series out in 2020 inspired by Beauty and the Beast!

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer- Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles series is deservedly everyone’s go-to recommendation for YA fairy tale retellings with its sci-fi twist. The four main books in the series, Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter, each introduce a new fairy tale heroine while also featuring the cast from the previous installment. Cress (aka the Rapunzel-inspired retelling) is my absolute favorite out of the series because I love the title character so much ,and this installment really brought the world-building and politics (and all the twists and turns) together.

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A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas- I think a few readers, myself included, often forget that ACOTAR was inspired by Beauty and the Beast! While ACOTAR isn’t my favorite in the series (helloooo A Court of Mist and Fury), it’s such a solid first installment and it’s actually one of my favorite books to reread (I think I’m at three times) given how the plot and romance interest changes in ACOMAF.

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A Curse So Dark and Lonely & A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Cursebreakers #1 & #2) by Brigid Kemmerer- Another Beauty and the Beast inspired story, A Curse So Dark and Lonely has received much love in the YA community. While I really enjoyed the first book, I have even more love for the upcoming sequel, A Heart So Fierce and Broken, thanks to its plot and character development and world-building.

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Heartless by Marissa Meyer- Marissa Meyer is seriously the queen of retellings, not to mention villainous origin stories. Following the future Queen of Hearts, Heartless takes place in Wonderland and features ALL the delicious-sounding treats. I still need to learn how to make Cath’s lemon tarts!

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About Sea Witch Rising:81wovwScRVL.jpg

Runa will not let her twin sister die. Alia traded her voice to the Sea Witch for a shot at happiness with a prince who doesn’t love her. And his rejection will literally kill her—unless Runa intervenes.

Under the sea, Evie craves her own freedom—but liberation from her role as Sea Witch will require an exchange she may not be willing to make. With their hearts’ desires at odds, what will Runa and Evie be willing to sacrifice to save their worlds?

Told from alternating perspectives, this epic fairy tale retelling is a romantic and heart-wrenching story about the complications of sisterhood, the uncompromising nature of magic, and the cost of redemption.

 

I received a copy of Sea Witch Rising from the publisher. By no means did receiving this book affect my thoughts or opinions.

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What are some of your favorite fairy tale retellings? Have you read Sea Witch or Sea Witch Rising? Share in the comments!