Escape from Witchwood Hollow

Escape from Witchwood HollowTitle: Escape from Witchwood Hollow
Author: Jordan Elizabeth
Genre(s): Fantasy & Magic, Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 200
Published by Curiosity Quills Press on 2014-10-29
ISBN: 978-1620076712
ASIN: B00OWAZ5T0
Format: eBook
Source: author

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

Everyone in Arnn - a small farming town with more legends than residents - knows the story of Witchwood Hollow: if you venture into the whispering forest, the witch will trap your soul among the shadowed trees.

After losing her parents in a horrific terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, fifteen-year-old Honoria and her older brother escape New York City to Arnn. In the lure of that perpetual darkness, Honoria finds hope, when she should be afraid.

Perhaps the witch can reunite her with her lost parents. Awakening the witch, however, brings more than salvation from mourning, for Honoria discovers a past of missing children and broken promises.

To save the citizens of Arnn from becoming the witch’s next victims, she must find the truth behind the woman’s madness.

How deep into Witchwood Hollow does Honoria dare venture?

My Review

Such an interesting book with a great premise!  The novel centers around three girls of varying ages.  Each of these girls is from a different historical time period… the 1600s, the 1800s and the 2000s.  Each of them is connected in some way to the mysteriously cursed Witchwood Hollow.  Historical novels are not generally among my favorites, but I loved the way the different time periods were woven together to create this fascinating story filled with love, angst, sadness, and a myriad of other emotions.

The girls are connected and very often, when those connections are revealed, it is surprising!  Those reveals are emotional, not just because they are unexpected for the reader, but for the characters as well.  The story is often dark and layered with intense emotion.  It is an emotion-driven story, those being the root of the story and the creation of Witchwood Hollow.

The author played on the inherent “creepy” factor that old woods can sometimes have and turned it into the perfect setting for a story rich with magic.  A cursed wooded area that once they enter, people never leave.  At least not without the witch’s permission.

Although Albertine, Elizabeth, and Honoria are the main characters, there is also a slew of other characters that add so much to the depth of the story.  There is Lynn, trapped in the woods for so long that she seems to have become a bit emotionally stunted.  There is also Shane, a young boy whose story is heart wrenching.  And then there is Paul, a soldier from the past who has been wandering the Hollow for a very long time.  Time is different in the Hollow, slowing to the point of perhaps even stopping.  What feels like just moments for those inside the Hollow is actually decades, even centuries to those outside.  For those inside, there is nothing else for them.  Everyone they once knew and loved is gone.

And the ending!!  Oh, evil author!  Evil for giving such a beautifully brilliant ending that is not at all how I wanted it, yet still perfect for the story!

My Recommendation

This is a great read that I highly recommend to anyone who loves mystery and magc, historical mythology, and a YA novel that is not all about the romance!  Fantastic!

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 5

About Jordan Elizabeth

Jordan Elizabeth, formally Jordan Elizabeth Mierek, writes down her nightmares in order to live her dreams. With an eclectic job history behind her, she is now diving into the world of author. It happens to be her most favorite one yet. When she’s not creating art or searching for lost history in the woods, she’s updating her blog. Jordan is the president of the Utica Writers Club. She roams Central New York, but she loves to travel.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Dirt Daughter

Dirt DaughterTitle: Dirt Daughter
Author: Michelle Shaw
Genre(s): Love & Romance, Mystery & Thrillers, Young Adult
Pages: 292
Published by MuseItUp Publishing on 2015-06-09
ASIN: B00WLEN5ZA
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

In Dirt Daughter, seventeen-year-old Elena Black has concealed the secret to her childhood friend’s murder for eight years. With the possibility of a college scholarship looming, she plans to keep that secret and flee her dysfunctional home; one with a drug-addicted mother, a stepsister she just met, and a bitter, abusive uncle. But, when a detective reopens the cold case and a friend sets her up on a date with the new boy at school, the past and present collide, threatening Elena’s future plans…and her life.

My Review

Dirt Daughter tells the rather tragic story of Elena Black.  She has known a life of tragedy and loss, betrayal and neglect.  When she was young, she lost her best friend Lizzy in a terrible accident, her body never found.  Soon after, she lost her father when he died after a fall from a bridge.  These events forever changed her life in so many ways.  After her father’s death, her mother became hopelessly addicted to drugs and took up with her former brother-in-law, Elena’s uncle.  He was a bitter, abusive, addicted man who took his angst out on whomever was closest.  Elena was left to essentially raise herself and her young brother.  Now, years later, the investigation into Lizzy’s death has been reopened and Elena is forced to face the horrible circumstances once again.

Elena is a girl who posses great strength in the face of a horrible situation.  Instead of allowing herself and her brother to fall victim to their mother’s inability to take care of them, she stepped up and has done those things.  She has done well in school, despite all odds, and ensured her brother was safe and cared for.  She has spent most of her life focused on survival and, almost against her wishes, she falls for a new boy at school.  He is different from everyone she has known, kind and gentle and compassionate.  I loved the romance that brewed between them.  It was beautiful and clean, and the purest thing in her life aside from her love of her brother.  I also loved Angie, Elena’s stepsister who unexpectedly showed up, surprising everyone with her mere existence.  She had clearly not had the best time of it either, turning more than a big rough around the edges.  But there were moments in which it was clear that she was all bluff, with a true, caring heart.  Angie and Elena, no matter how different they were on the surface, were both girls who longed for a true family.

I loved how raw and gritty the story of Dirt Daughter was, a realistic portrayal of what can go on behind closed doors.  The author didn’t shy away from tough topics, but shows them in a way that rings true.  While often uncomfortable to read and to think about, the neglect and abuse was well-written and authentic.  The drug abuse, the selfish choices, the neglect… none of these things made Elena’s mother a particularly sympathetic character, yet by the end of the novel, there was a sense of, if not sympathy, then compassion for her and her history.

Probably the most interesting part of the book was the psychological undertones, seeing how the things that Elena went through affected her.  It affected her views on life, love, friendship, trust, etc. and it added so much depth to her character as she grew and changed over the course of the novel.

My only criticism would be with the mystery aspects to the story.  By the time I was halfway through the novel, I was pretty sure I knew whodunit, although the reasons behind it were not what I had surmised.  But for me, the true draw of the story was Elena’s character.

 

My Recommendation

For me, this is a novel that is more character-driven than plot-driven.  The characters were what made the book for me and made it a story that I would recommend.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4

About Michelle Shaw

YA Author, short story writer, poet. Look for my novels, Scatter-October 7, 2014 and Dirt Daughter- June 9, 2015 from Muse It Up Publishing.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

About a Girl

About a GirlTitle: About a Girl
Author: Sarah McCarry
Series: Metamorphoses #3
Also in this series: All Our Pretty Songs, Dirty Wings
Genre(s): Fairy Tales, Folklore, Legends & Mythology, Gay & Lesbian, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 256
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on 2015-07-07
ISBN: 978-1250068620
ASIN: B00OO10WXG
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

Eighteen-year-old Tally is absolutely sure of everything: her genius, the love of her adoptive family, the loyalty of her best friend, Shane, and her future career as a Nobel prize-winning astronomer. There's no room in her tidy world for heartbreak or uncertainty—or the charismatic, troubled mother who abandoned her soon after she was born. But when a sudden discovery upends her fiercely ordered world, Tally sets out on an unexpected quest to seek out the reclusive musician who may hold the key to her past—and instead finds Maddy, an enigmatic and beautiful girl who will unlock the door to her future. The deeper she falls in love with Maddy, the more Tally begins to realize that the universe is bigger—and more complicated—than she ever imagined. Can Tally face the truth about her family—and find her way home in time to save herself from its consequences?

My Review

About a Girl is the third book in Sarah McCarry’s Metamorphoses series, telling of a third generation.  The first book, All Our Pretty Songs, tells the stories of Aurora and her nameless best friend.  The second book, Dirty Wings, tells the stories of Cassie and Maia, the mother sof Aurora and her friend.  This book tells the story of Tally, Aurora’s daughter.

Tally has never met her mother, who left her as a newborn.  She was raised by her mother’s nameless best friend, whom she calls Aunt Beast, and her aunt’s best friend Raoul and his husband Henri.  No matter how their family was formed, it was one of love.  They have fostered her super intelligence and supported her and between them and her best friend Shane, Tally has never needed anyone else.  But a chance (or is it chance?!) look at a photo of her mother and a once famous musician named Jake sets her on a quest to find answers.

Fresh from heart ache because of seemingly unrequited feelings for Shane, her search takes her to the west coast to a town where strange things seem to happen.  Finding answers is harder than she thought as she forgets why she is there and is drawn deeper and deeper into the weirdness that is this reclusive town.

I love these books, despite their very unusual lyrical styles.  The first book was dark and disturbing, and written in a lyrical prose that seemed as if it came from an altered state of mind… totally appropriate for the themes of drugs and alcohol that were such a part of the story.  It sucks you into the madness, losing sense of time and place, and then brings you back to reality.  The second book rides the edge of sanity and danger, taking the reader back and forth with the lyrical writing.  This last book is a foray into obsession and desire, the lyrical prose rich with description and emotion.

There are threads of mythology throughout these books, with references to various characters of the Greek stories.  While the threads are there, the stories do’t conform to the exact tales, but imagine those characters in today’s world, the aftermath of the stories we all know.

My Recommendation

This is a book, and a series, that requires an appreciation for the dark and the disturbing and a unique way of telling a story.  The prose is beautiful in its own way, even as it takes you down a path that, on the surface, makes no sense.  It is necessary to give yourself over to it and to see it for what it is… a descent into a madness that can overtake us all.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 5

About Sarah McCarry

I’m Sarah McCarry. The Rejectionist is my blog. I’m the author of the novels All Our Pretty Songs, Dirty Wings (summer 2014), and About a Girl (summer 2015). I’m the editor and publisher of Guillotine, a chapbook series dedicated to revolutionary nonfiction. I’m the Media Coordinator for The Doula Project. I’ve written for Glamour, the Stranger, the Rumpus.com, and Tor.com, among other places. I was born in Seattle and I live in Brooklyn.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Bury the Hatchet

Bury the HatchetTitle: Bury the Hatchet
Author: Catherine Gayle
Series: Tulsa Thunerdbirds #1
Genre(s): Contemporary Fiction, Love & Romance, Sports Fiction
Pages: 320
Published by Night Shift Publishing on 2015-07-09
ISBN: 978-1942177135
ASIN: B00VVORD3G
Format: eBook
Source: publicist

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

He was poised to be an elite goalie for a contending team.

Hunter Fielding has long since proven himself to be one of the best goaltenders in the NHL. The problem? His former team had another (slightly better) backstop. They left Hunter out to dry, the upstart Tulsa Thunderbirds claimed him in the expansion draft, and he made a few stupid comments about backasswards Oklahomans. Now the T-Birds say the only way he can redeem himself is to make nice for the media with some local goody two shoes who’s made some mistakes of her own.

Oklahoma’s sweetheart could do no wrong until she could do no right.

Tallulah Belle Roth was the reigning Miss Oklahoma USA until a night of out-of-control drinking, a naked foray in a hot tub with very bad boy, and a bunch of lowlights on TMZ. Now she’s been stripped of her crown and is facing the censure of the same people who made her out to be Little Miss Perfect. Tallie won’t ever get her title back, but her life is another matter—and the only way the public will allow her to do that is if she presents herself as happily settled with someone else under Oklahoma’s eye.

The marriage is to be in name only—one year of sickeningly-sweet lovey-dovey PDA, all to get their detractors to bury the hatchet. Those kisses and tender moments for the cameras take an emotional toll, though. Can in name only be enough?

My Review

I am a huge fan of Catherine Gayle’s hockey-themed romances!  I have read every one that she is written and they are each amazing reads.  The knowledge that the author has of hockey and the behind-the-scenes of it all is obvious and seen in the incredible attention to detail.  But the stories aren’t all about hockey.  The plots are raw and real, stories that many of us have experienced in some way for ourselves.  Bury the Hattchet is the first in the new Tulsa Thunderbirds series, a spinoff from the Portland Storm series.  Along witb a new team and new cast of characters, there are still some familiar faces from the Portland Storm books.

One of those familiar faces is Hunter Fielding, formerly of the Portland Storm.  He is undoubtedly one of the best goalies in the NHL and he has just been traded to the Tulsa Thunderbirds.  The Thunderbirds are a new franchise in the NHL, which translates to an expectation of a few rather less than stellar years in hockey stats.  New team, new players, many of whom aren’t to the level that Hunter himself is.  Needless to say, he is unhappy about the trade and makes some rather unflattering remarks about it in an unfortunate drunken rant that went viral.  That means a whole lot of damage control with the new team… and this happens in a completely unforeseeable way.  A marriage in name only to a fallen beauty queen with some damage control issues of her own.  In comes Tallie, Oklahoma’s favorite pageant queen who had an unfortunate drunken incident of her own that also went viral, tarnishing her image.  Her mother and her pageant coach convince her that the only way to clean up her image is to marry Hunter.

I couldn’t imagine two more unlikely people to be at the center of this book… the rough hockey player and the goody two-shoes beauty queen.  Hunter is rough around the edges and angry and Tallie used to being told what to do and having no input on her own life.  But, as usual, Catherine Gayle creates a story that is full of tension, romance, intense emotion, and plot twists.  Hunter is angry and it is obvious.  He is angry about being shuffled off to a team that he sees as a demotion.  He is angry about being forced into this marriage.  He resents everyone involved, even initially Tallie herself, despite the fact that she, too, has been forced into the situation.  But he has protective, softer side, too, especially when it comes to Tallie.  I loved the interaction between them!  She softened him, opened him up a little.  And he taught her to be her own person.  Until Hunter, her entire life had been ordered by her mother and her coach,  To say that the two were overbearing would be an understatement.  There were times that I wanted to jump into my Kindle and throttle them both and slap Tallie into taking charge!

The incredible character growth is probably my favorite aspect to these books.  They grow and change over the course of the novel, changing without losing themselves to another person.  Too many times, in literature and in life, the dynamic of change within a relationship means that one or both of them lose the who they are to the other person.  I love that Catherine’s characters become better versions of themselves, rather than acquiesing to the other.  This is what keeps me coming back for more!

My Recommendation

This is a great read!  Great romance, great hockey, intense emotions and situations, and fantastic plot twists!

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 5

About Catherine Gayle

Catherine Gayle is a bestselling author of Regency-set historical romance and contemporary hockey romance with a New Adult feel. She’s a transplanted Texan living in North Carolina with two extremely spoiled felines. In her spare time, she watches way too much hockey and reality TV, plans fun things to do for the Nephew Monster’s next visit, and performs experiments in the kitchen which are rarely toxic.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Ink and Bone

Ink and BoneTitle: Ink and Bone
Author: Rachel Caine
Series: The Great Library #1
Genre(s): Alternate History, Dystopian Fiction, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 360
Published by Penguin on 2015-07-07
ISBN: 978-0451472397
ASIN: B00OQS4BQQ
Format: eARC
Source: Penguin First to Read

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

In an exhilarating new series, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine rewrites history, creating a dangerous world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived the test of time.…

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

When he inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn.…

My Review

Ink and Bone is the first book in the new Great Library series and it is such an interesting premise, rewriting history in a way that is absolutely intense for anyone who truly loves the written word.

In this world, knowledge, or too much of it, is seen as almost a disease, the foundation of ruin if put in the wrong hands.  It is the prevailing belief that too much knowledge can cause corruption so it must be contained and controlled, the function of the Great Library of Alexandria and its satellite libraries around the world.  In keeping with that, it is illegal to own a physical copy of any book.  The Great Library employs a paramilitary army that seeks out anyone that breaks that law, along with the help of automaton who will destroy anyone and anything in their path.

But this doesn’t mean that ordinary people have no access to books.  They do.  Each person has what is called a blank on which they can read approved material, much like an e-book.  In fact, knowledge is so important to the Library that each person is given journal in which they write everything about their own lives.  At death, those journals are kept and maintained by the Library, an eternal record of that person’s existance.

The protagonist of the story is Jess, a postulate new to the Library and coming from a questionable past.  His family’s livelihood is smuggling, the black market trade of books… people for whom the very organization he is now a part of is the enemy.  He is torn, loving the written word and wanting it preserved for the future, but also understanding the value of having that knowledge available for everyone.  The control of the Library is so complete that even the idea of mass production is considered heresy.

I love that books were given such significance in this world, expressed in the value not only the Library placed on them, but in the booming black market trade to own physical copies.  The control of knowledge is horrifying to me and the extremes that the Library took to maintain that equally frightening.  But the reality is that, although it was exaggerated and extreme in this book, this kind of attempted control is not a new concept even in our world.  All the time, books are challenged in school systems and other institutions, calling for bans and removals from school reading lists.

My Recommendation

I loved this book so much!  There were scary moments right along with the happy and funny moments.  And it is a book that makes you think, which I love!  A definite must-read for lovers of books and free access to them!

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4.5

About Rachel Caine

Rachel Caine is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 45 novels to date, and many short stories, including fantasy, urban fantasy, science fiction, young adult fiction, mystery, thriller, and horror. Her notable series include The Morganville Vampires, Weather Warden, Revivalist, Red Letter Days, and Outcast Season novels. She graduated from Socorro High School in El Paso, Texas, and earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. Her first short story was published in 1990, and her first novel in 1991.

After a long career in business (including working as an office manager, payroll manager, insurance investigator, web designer, graphic designer, and corporate communications executive) she began writing full time in 2009.

She and her husband, artist R. Cat Conrad, live and work in Fort Worth, Texas.

Rachel Caine is a pen name of Roxanne Longstreet Conrad.

She has also published as:
Roxanne Longstreet
Roxanne Conrad
Julie Fortune
Ian Hammell

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: