Book Review: Wildseed Witch by Marti Dumas

Wildseed Witch by Marti Dumas

A Middle-Grade Fantasy Novel published by Amulet Books (05/10/22)

Summary:

Hasani is all about growing her makeup YouTube channel this summer and getting to 100 followers. When an emotional outburst sets a bridge covered in vines, she’ll have to change her summer plans. She’s offered a scholarship to a charm school for witches. And Hasani is a wildseed witch. It’s a whirlwind for her as they get her ready to go to this school and her arrival at Les Belles Demoiselles is just as chaotic. Hasani just learned she was a witch and doesn’t know how to control her powers, while most of the other girls have known they were witches their whole lives.

Keywords:

Magic, Witches, School, Charm School, Old-Money, Control, YouTube, Influencer, Makeup, Power, Influence, Family, Friendship, Bullying

My Review:

After arriving at the charm school, this book continually challenged my assumptions of what magic can be. Just like Hasani, I had to learn what magic looks like and how it can be controlled at Les Belles Demoiselles. And just like Hasani and her mother, I did not know how to pronounce this charm school. We both had a lot to learn! The author keeps the reader in the dark as much as Hasani is in the dark about what to do, where to go, how to behave, what’s right, what’s wrong, and most everything else! I felt her frustration and confusion. And she didn’t even know where the bathroom was. Hasani is clueless. The other girls think her ignorant and wild. The teachers are reserving judgment, mostly. I would be crying myself to sleep every night in this situation.

There are some big lessons to learn from reading this book about controlling emotions and learning restraint, making friends, etc. The lessons feel very intertwined with the story and the main character’s growth.

I loved the details about the setting. The book takes place in New Orleans and carries with it the historical weight of the area.

This novel was published by Amulet Books on 05/10/2022 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.5

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Marti Dumas’ Website

Book Review: The Beauty of Perhaps by Eryn Scott

The Beauty of Perhaps by Eryn Scott

A Romance Novel published by Kristopherson Press (05/02/17)

Summary:

Molly has her life together… Same dinner dates every week. Same boyfriend. Same job. Smooth and predictable. Until her boyfriend breaks up with her because she’s boring. No boyfriend, no job, and nothing holding her back from trying out some impulsivity in her life. She gets accepted for a teaching job on the remote Scottish island Lilliebrae. Will she defy her predictable-loving nature or learn to accept some adventure and newness in her life?

Keywords:

Chick Lit, Romance, Contemporary, Love at First Sight, Friendship, Scotland, Travel, Painting, Parents, Baggage

My Review:

This book felt like a coming of age for a middle-twenties protagonist – which I absolutely loved! Like a quarter-life crisis that happens post-college. It was so rewarding to watch Molly’s growth as she changed throughout this book. There was as much self-growth for Molly as there was romance, which I appreciated. It wasn’t just Molly going through growth, but also her romantic partner Gates. I was pleasantly surprised that both Molly and Gates were fleshed out and given depth as characters. They were each compelling and flawed in their own way.

I absolutely loved the setting. I was instantly transported to the island of Lilliebrae. I could see it in the picturesque views and feel it in the tone of the place and the way the local townsfolk talked and acted. At times the local brogue was a bit difficult to parse and it took me out of the story as I tried to interpret what the characters were saying.

I really enjoyed how unique each of the other minor characters was, especially all the children! This really added to the meatiness of the novel. Solid contemporary read.

This novel was published by Kristopherson Press on 05/02/2017 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.25

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Eryn Scott’s Website

Book Review: Daughter of Magic (The Daughter of Magic Trilogy Book 1) by Karen Eisenbrey

Daughter of Magic (The Daughter of Magic Trilogy Book 1) by Karen Eisenbrey

A YA Fantasy Novel published by Immortal Works (05/22/18)

Summary:

Luskell doesn’t think she has magic, even though her parents are both powerful wizards. They leave her behind in Deep River as they go to the city for their annual work trip as interpreters. Luskell has had strange dreams at night and during the day she starts to get into the small town feel of the place. She participates in gossip, makes new friends, and even names a new horse. Meanwhile, there’s something strange and concerning going on in the capital, but neither of Luskell’s parents can pin down what’s really going on. And then the strangest thing happens to Luskell and she decides to take action.

Keywords:

Coming of age, action, magic, wizards, transfiguration, spells, power, leader, small town, gossip, friendship, chores, sneaking out

My Review:

This fantasy is full of the YA feels. Luskell is your typical teenager. She rolls her eyes at her parents, argues with her mom, sneaks out, and speaks her mind. She is such a rebellious teenager who is headstrong, stubborn, acts before thinking, is competitive with others, and is impatient with herself. As soon as she thinks of an idea, she acts on it. On the other hand, she is brave and loyal and doesn’t pause to consider the potential danger and harm to herself if someone she loves is in danger. She is a YA main character to the max and I really enjoyed how well she is written and how much of a filled-out personality she has. Because Luskell (and other characters) are fully sketched out, I would enjoy reading more of this series.

I would also continue reading the next book in this trilogy because this first book has a hook beyond the in-depth characters. It has a plot that has action and intrigue. It has an arc that has a satisfying ending but also the potential to continue expanding the storyline and world through more books.

Though this book was a bit more difficult to get into at the beginning due to rapid character POV changes with almost every chapter, the writing style is easy to read and the world-building is slowly fleshed out. I had a hard time keeping the characters straight for a number of chapters but as the story slowly developed I became more and more engrossed and the characters and their relationships started to make more sense. Some of the characters shared names or name structures and most of them are introduced in the beginning.

Luskell is a main character who discovers her magic midway through the book and with a short training montage is able to quickly master several spells without issue. She is a main character who seems like she might be the most powerful wizard and it’s not that difficult (one afternoon of intense training) for her to learn to use her magic (to learn to use less power at one time). Since I was already invested in Luskell and the story and the dire situation, I looked past this trope but still noticed that it was happening. At this point in the book, I already loved the three teens and wanted them to succeed.

There is a hint of a romance and a potential love triangle, but this element is not given nearly as much attention as Luskell coming into her magic and her desire to use it immediately to help the ones she loves. Perhaps in further books, this romance will be more developed. Since the characters were my favorite part of the book, I would love to see where this romantic development goes.

This novel was published by Not a Pipe Publishing on 05/22/2018 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.25

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Karen Eisenbrey’s Website

Book Review: Strange Gods by Alison Kimble

Strange Gods by Alison Kimble

A YA Fantasy Novel published by Immortal Works (07/20/21)

Summary:

Spooky is at a summer camp for troubled teens. She’s waiting for The Change – a big moment that starts the rest of her life. Maybe sneaking out for her first kiss will be The Change. Instead, she gets pulled into another dimension and confronted with a trickster God. Either she tells him stories for the rest of her life or she finds a way to appease him and supply him with endless stories. After a few hours, she’s already hoarse. Can she talk her way out of her predicament?

Keywords:

Weird Mythology, Portal, Lessons Learned, Summer Camp, Troubled Teens, Bargain, Travel, Journey, Strange Gods

My Review:

What an extraordinary out-of-the-ordinary book that I didn’t even know I needed in my life! I absolutely adore well-written strange and creative books and this one is no exception. The characters – especially Spooky – were given depth, personality, and realism. I wanted to know what made Spooky tick. The fact that she’s at a camp that exploits the campers’ biggest fears added another dimension. What motivates Spooky to conform to her parent’s expectations? Why is everyone else in this camp? This camp is both a terrible place and a terribly fascinating place (to those not currently stuck there that is). The world-building drew me in immediately and the way the author slowly unraveled the mystery of this camp and some of the other campers’ backstories was expertly done.

 

It’s hard to believe this is a debut novel because it’s so well written and well edited. It’s fast-paced and has a definitive story arc. There are setbacks and obstacles. The main character has to learn her lesson along the journey. There are high stakes. Though the main plot is highly fantastical, the logic and the journey are very realistically written. The characters eat and never forget their bruises or their snark.

 

If you enjoy a book that isn’t totally mainstream but a little creepy and strange, you’ll love this YA novel.

 

This novel was published by Immortal Works on 07/20/2021 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Allison Kimble’s Website

Book Review: In Her Way by Eryn Scott

In Her Way by Eryn Scott

A Romantic Suspense Novel published by Kristopherson Press (09/08/15)

Summary:

Julep is in the midst of launching her first business – a dentist’s office. Everything is going to plan until it isn’t.

Keywords:

Chick Lit, Romance, Mystery, Contemporary, Love at First Sight, Dentist, Friendship

My Review:

The characters were not that interesting. I didn’t feel very invested in them or the outcome of their relationships. I did not relate to them or care what happened to them. They felt flat and with very little depth. The main character’s thoughts were too surface level and there was too much inner monologuing and speaking directly to the reader.
I wanted more action and less telling. Even with what little was going on (there was a definitive beginning, middle, and end) I just didn’t feel engaged in the story. There didn’t seem to be much going on in the beginning half of the story and by the time the main plot was revealed, I just didn’t care. It was cliche, not very well thought out, and not very well written. It didn’t feel like there were any stakes in the first half and by the time there were stakes, they didn’t feel believable.
Kaylee and the way she was written annoyed me the most. She didn’t feel realistic. It seemed like she was the glue holding the plot together amidst this laughable romance between Andrew and Julep. I wouldn’t have finished if I wasn’t reading a physical book.
I loved the premise of the book but the execution fell far short.

This novel was published by Emlin Press on 09/08/2015 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 2.50

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Eryn Scott’s Website

Book Review: The Kraken of Cape Madre (Lorestalker #2) by J.P. Barnett

The Kraken of Cape Madre (Lorestalker #2) by J.P. Barnett

A Thriller/Suspense Novel published by Evolved Publishing LLC (06/03/19)

Summary:

Spring Break should be a time for relaxing and having fun, but it’s not long before Miriam saves another spring breaker from some mysterious water monster. The town doesn’t want to panic but soon teenagers start disappearing and it seems this unknown Kraken may be the cause. Can Miriam, trained as a monster hunter, crack this case or will it be the death of her?

Keywords:

Summer Vacation, Sea, Ship, Boat, Suspense, Thriller, Victims, Blood, Monster, Monster Hunter, Fishermen, Small Town, Police, Murder, Disappearances

My Review:

I really liked the fast, tight pacing of this book. I also really enjoyed the descriptions of the sea creature and the way she attacked her victims. This monster felt so real and lifelike and somehow utterly realistic. For those who enjoy swimming in the ocean, you might think twice after reading this novel.

I love the gorgeous cover. The fonts, colors, and art style seem perfect.

It does seem like the novel straddles YA and Middle Grade. Some things are simplified and surface level while other times the tone is darker. Miriam felt older at times and younger at other times. I couldn’t quite seem to gauge her age.

I was rubbed the wrong way when an explanation for something was based on females vs. males and the implicit and accepted idea that there are only two genders. This may be just a simplified explanation for this beginning book of the series and maybe the author will go into more depth later but it seemed like a throwaway explanation. I’m tired of the “It’s because (s)he’s a (wo)man” explanation in books and movies. It’s also a surface-level explanation that’s an easy guess for the reader/viewer and a letdown moment for the climax/resolution.

This book was like Jaws meets Stranger Things, entertaining and easy to read.

This novel was published by Emlin Press on 06/03/2019 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 3.75

Links for more information:

Goodreads

J.P. Barnett’s Website

Book Review: Kissing Games (Kinloch Series, #3) by Evie Alexander

Kissing Games (Kinloch Series, #3) by Evie Alexander

A Comedic Romance Novel published by Emlin Press (09/22/22)

Summary:

Valentina has worked her whole life as an actress – taking small parts and demoralizing roles alike – so she will have enough money set aside for her dream. Charlie is a bodyguard fed up with almost everyone, especially the nitwits he sometimes works for. He takes a job to protect Kinloch from the crazy Hollywood crew, meeting Valentina on the way. Opposites attract, but will that be enough to overcome Hollywood and disaster?

Keywords:

Romance, Contemporary, Standalone, HEA, Scotland, Castle, Sweet, Sex Scenes, Humor, Opposites Attract, Hollywood

My Review:

I was pleasantly surprised that this third book in the series is almost a companion novel to the second book, Hollywood Games, and some of the plot points match up between the books. I absolutely love seeing some scenes and characters and action from this new book and a new point of view. Even getting to know the main characters and side characters from book two through Valentina and Charlie in book three was delightful!

This third book doesn’t let up with the fast-paced plot and steamy scenes. The idea and main plot, just like the previous books in the series, was well-executed, simple, and clean yet there’s always something going on.

I am very drawn to the romance, the writing style, and the intriguing plot of the Kinloch Series.

If you love over-the-top dreamy protagonists – even flawed they seem so unattainable in their perfection – you will absolutely enjoy this book and this series.

This novel was published by Emlin Press on 09/22/2022 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75

Author Bio:

Evie Alexander is the award-winning author of best-selling sexy romantic comedies with a very British sense of humor. She takes a method approach to her work, believing her capacity to repeatedly fail at life and love is what has given her such a rich supply of material for her writing.

Her interests include reading, eating, saving the world, and fantasizing about people who only exist between the pages of her books. She lives in the West country with her family.

Links for more information:

Book Review: Delta (The Apex Cycle Book 2) by M.T. Zimny

Delta (The Apex Cycle Book 2) by M.T. Zimny

A YA Sci-Fi Novel published by M.T. Zimny  (10/12/21)

Summary:

Samantha now knows the truth about her past, but she’s still not an Apex and her abilities will only help her so much on the Apex Team. She’s trying to balance school, being on the Apex Team, and the continued anti-Apex attacks on New Delos.

Keywords:

Superhero Science Fiction, Fantasy Adventure Fiction, Romantic Action & Adventure, Super Human, Enhanced, Powers, Friends, Boarding School, Island, Secrets, Classmates

My Review:

Delta picks up right where Beta left off plotwise, with well-executed pacing and action to keep you on the edge of your seat.

I loved how this book seemed even more intense than book one. The stakes are higher. The characters seem even more real and their personalities are still unique and consistent from book one. I really liked how Sammy had to work through an identity crisis in this book. I really enjoyed seeing more of book one’s antagonists as well.

I did feel like I had to suspend my disbelief a bit more with this book, but like all superhero action movies/books, I was too sucked into it to step back and critique any of the individual story elements. Do they really train for hours every day and go to classes and fight crime? I was way too enthralled by the characters and completely strapped in for the story and the exciting conclusion.

This novel was published by M.T. Zimny on 10/12/2021 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.00

Links for more information:

Goodreads

M.T. Zimny’s Website

Book Review: Beta (The Apex Cycle Book 1) by M.T. Zimny

Beta (The Apex Cycle Book 1) by M.T. Zimny

A YA Sci-Fi Novel published by M.T. Zimny  (09/27/20)

Summary:

Samantha and her family are moving to the island that’s the Apex epicenter of the world, but not everyone is happy about the Apex. Even on the ferry ride over, there are people protesting against the superpower-enhanced individuals known as the Apex. Samantha doesn’t have to worry about that though, because she’s completely normal, except for her fainting spells. After being dropped off at boarding school, Sam quickly discovers there’s more going on with the Apex, the Island, and some mysterious man called Adrestus. Swept up in the mystery by her old friend and current new roommate, Sam will quickly find out there’s so much more going on with the Apex. She will even discover more about herself along the way.

Keywords:

Superhero Science Fiction, Fantasy Adventure Fiction, Romantic Action & Adventure, Super Human, Enhanced, Powers, Friends, Boarding School, Island, Secrets, Classmates

My Review:

The very first chapter sucked me right in. It was well executed. Immediately the story and the main character Sam piqued my interest. When I first grabbed this book, I was dismayed at its 600+ pages, but I quickly got into the story and finished in one weekend, ready to continue with the next book in the series. It is a big book. There is a lot going on and still, the pacing is excellent throughout the beginning, the middle, and the end.

I loved all the twists and turns the story took. I loved the training montage. I loved the buildup and mystery leading to the climax. I loved the ending.
There was just enough complication and depth to the plot to keep me guessing but not too much to confuse me. There were enough unique characters that I cared about all of them (though of course disliked Sam’s rival) but not too many that I lost track of who was who. I really loved how the author created such uniquely different characters.
I really enjoyed the worldbuilding on this remote man-made island and I can’t wait to learn more about the powers. The book was lighter on the science fiction superpower elements and I’m sure the next book in the series will delve even deeper into the powers, along with the friendships, romance, family, and Apex secrets. I know there’s more politics in there and I’m glad this first book was a solid action-adventure YA coming-of-age type book. I can’t wait for the next one!

This novel was published by M.T. Zimny on 09/27/2020 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.00

Links for more information:

Goodreads

M.T. Zimny’s Website

Book Review: Ugly by Kelly Vincent

Ugly by Kelly Vincent

A YA Novel published by KV BOOKS LLC  (06/07/22)

Summary:

Nic has never been self-confident and only has one friend, Sam. People often mistake Nic for a boy. It’s not just the kids at school who call Nic names because Nic also refers to herself negatively. Sam keeps trying to coax Nic out of her introverted shell and has cooked up a plan. The plan is Operation Social Interaction for Nic and they’re running out of time before Sam leaves the country. Meanwhile, Nic is prepping for the school’s art contest and has begun questioning more than just her sexuality. Is there even a label for how she feels and would people accept her as a gender nonconforming individual?

Keywords:

YA, Contemporary, Bullying, Gender Nonconforming, Identity, Art, Introvert, Questioning, Labels

My Review:

Nic’s perspective is so true and raw and heartbreaking at times. She has repetitive and increasingly negative thoughts about how she’s a loser and ugly. There are multiple and repetitive scenes where she’s mistaken for a boy. Her mind tends to gravitate to the negative and the worst-case scenarios because she’s been burned so many times before and has a healthy distrust of others. Nic is also relatively shy and a bit socially awkward. As an introvert-extrovert, I’ve totally been there!

In some ways, I identify so much with Nic’s experiences and her introverted head talk. “Eye contact was dangerous. It triggered interactions.” (10%, Kindle Edition). Yes, Nic, this is so true! In other ways, I think she’s too black and white about her thoughts. On the one hand, she’s so harsh about gender and its binary-ness, “… but it would be so awesome to be a person without all the stupid trappings of girl-ness.” (60%, Kindle Edition). On the other hand, she’s just voicing her own experience and frustration, “… even if I tried to wear feminity, it would come off all wrong on me.” (74%, Kindle edition).

At times the book was hard to read because of all the self-doubting and self-hate thoughts. There is a lot of repetition of Nic’s thoughts. At times, it seems like she’s being whiny while other times it is wholly justified. At all times she is a teenager questioning her own identity. Towards the end, we learn that there is a reason for her repetitive thoughts and it makes her much more endearing as a character. Her most redeeming characteristic was her unwavering love of art.

This book was slow-paced, very much a contemporary coming-of-age book.

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this story in exchange for my honest review.

This novel was published by KV BOOKS LLC  on 06/07/2022 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 3.75

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Kelly Vincent’s Website