2019 Book #79 – The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox

51+pKU74twLTitle: The Witch of Willow Hall
Author: Hester Fox
Date finished: 10/19/19
Genre: Gothic romance, suspense, magic stuff
Publisher: Graydon House
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
Pages in book: 368
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Two centuries after the Salem witch trials, there’s still one witch left in Massachusetts. But she doesn’t even know it.

Take this as a warning: if you are not able or willing to control yourself, it will not only be you who suffers the consequences, but those around you, as well.

New Oldbury, 1821

In the wake of a scandal, the Montrose family and their three daughters—Catherine, Lydia and Emeline—flee Boston for their new country home, Willow Hall.

The estate seems sleepy and idyllic. But a subtle menace creeps into the atmosphere, remnants of a dark history that call to Lydia, and to the youngest, Emeline.

All three daughters will be irrevocably changed by what follows, but none more than Lydia, who must draw on a power she never knew she possessed if she wants to protect those she loves. For Willow Hall’s secrets will rise, in the end…

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. Also I’m reading this book as part of my October Bookish Bingo Reading Challenge, checking of the “a spell goes wrong” box since Lydia does a spell that goes wrong, even if she doesn’t mean to. I’m also reading this book for my Bookish 2019 Reading Challenge: 52 Ways to Kill Your TBR checking off line #1 – a book you bought (requested) for the cover. Since I’m using this checklist to check off some of my previously requested NetGalley titles, I hadn’t bought any of them but so I changed bought to request. And I had originally requested this book in large part based on the cover – I think it’s so pretty and intriguing.

Even though I mostly requested based on the cover for this book. I also thought the story line sounded really interesting too. Plus I’m trying to read as many spooky books as possible for this month so it was a perfect fit for me to read this one. I’m glad I got to read it too – I really liked it. There were definitely a lot of pieces of the book that I didn’t care for but overall I really liked it! Lydia as a character had a lot of layers but she was a bit too much of a doormat for me. And I loved the whole journey to her discovering she was a witch and her long dead ancestor and what not but I wished that it had happened a little earlier in the book. This was definitely a good read for October – it was super spooky and creepy. I thought it was really captivating, I didn’t want to put it down because I wanted to find out what was going to happen next. At the same time the pacing was a little slow for me. Overall I really liked the book but it wasn’t my favorite. Great read for October though!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

Paperback release – The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

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Hi All!

One of my favorite reads from earlier this year, The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden, is now out in paperback!

This was a great continuation of the Winternight Trilogy, and I’ve been loving the magical and dark feel to this fairy tale. I can’t wait for the third book in the trilogy to come out later this year!

If you haven’t started this series yet I would recommend checking it out!

 

2017 Book #37 – The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

515qNGaUTcLTitle: The Bear and the Nightingale
Author: Katherine Arden
Date finished: 4/24/17
Genre: Fiction, fantasy, magical realism
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Pages in book: 336
Stand alone or series: Book #1 of trilogy
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.
After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.
And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.
As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

My rating:  4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Vasilisa Vladimirovich, a girl born with the second sight, whose mother dies right after childbirth. Her father, Pyotr, loved her mother, Marina, fiercely and was devastated when she died. And it made him angry that Marina knew this child would most likely kill her and she chose to have it anyways. Vasya is a sweet and generous child though, and it is almost impossible not to love her. As she grows she learns the ways of her land and learns from the different magical creatures that haunt the stables and the house. As she grows older though she is in danger from a shadow in the forest, and as the old ways are forgotten for fear of God, the whole village is in danger of the Bear devil in the forest.
Overall I really liked this book a lot. The Russian terms made the story a little harder to get into at first but once I was engaged with the story line I didn’t want to put it down. It was a beautifully woven fairy tale with just enough of the fantastical to make it feel perfectly magical. Vasya was fierce and brave, I loved her character. The plot line was thrilling and filled with danger and excitement. I’m excited to see where the story will take us in the next installment of the trilogy.

The bottom line: I loved this book. While it took a little time to get into the story, it turned out to be an utterly captivating story and I can’t wait to read more.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2016 Book #52 – Wicked Whispers by Tina Donahue

61AEh1qCkUL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Wicked Whispers
Author: Tina Donahue
Date finished: 5/25/16
Genre: Erotic historical
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Publication Date: May 24, 2016
Pages in book: 222
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Dangerous Desires series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE:I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Follow the heart through darkness . . .
As the Inquisition gains force, even the faintest rumor can brand one a heretic. In this world it is Sancha’s gift–or curse–to be blessed with the gift of healing. But the villagers are in need of her arts more than ever, and she feels it is her duty to help them at the risk of losing her life. And at the sacrifice of her heart . . .
Enrique has never wanted a woman as he does Sancha. Determined to have her love, he woos her with exquisite passion, giving her refuge to pursue her healing in secret. But their very desire and escape from the ruthless forces of the world may be their undoing. And together, they must pit themselves against a jealous rival and archaic tradition to secure their place in a hopeful new dawn . . .

My rating:  3.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I was invited to read this title through NetGalley and though I don’t usually read novels in this particular genre I decided to give it a try. This book was set in the late 1480’s in Andalusia, Spain. This book is the second in a series by this author, the series so far has featured two sisters from the same family. This book is about Sancha Lopez de Lara, sister to Isabella who was featured in the first book. Sancha is a healer and spends much of her time studying medical journals, which was actually quite dangerous during that time period due to the Inquisition. Regardless of the danger, she spent her time helping those less fortunate, that is until she meets Enrique. She feels an attraction to Enrique unlike anything she’s ever felt before, but he wants her to give up her healing practice to make sure that she’ll stay safe. While she loves Enrique, this isn’t something she wants to consider as she feels an obligation to use her knowledge to help those in need, no matter the cost of herself. When Sancha’s life is threatened by rumors though, Enrique will do whatever it takes to protect her.
Overall I liked this book more than I expected to. I don’t usually read erotic novels because, well, I’m kind of a prude I guess. And there’s a generalization that novels in this genre have no plot line, are just about sex, and for the most part are not meant for recreational reading but for something a little more… involved. To go on a little rant, that’s always been one of the things that frustrated me most in people’s assumptions about romance novels. I think a lot of people confuse romance novels with erotic novels, because they think people are reading romance novels for the sex scenes. No everyone is different but honestly there aren’t usually an overwhelming amount of sex scenes in romance novels. There are a couple (maybe) but the main point of romance novels isn’t sex its emotions, like love. The point of erotic novels is (for the most part) sex. The plot line tends to focus around the main characters’ lust. And while this book did focus a lot on sex, there was an actual plot line and it turned out to be quite interesting. I did find some of the conversations and scenes to be somewhat awkward or they felt forced, but the drama in the last few pages was interesting and felt real. I love revenge plots so the ending of this book really grabbed me. This isn’t the type of book that I would normally pick out for myself to read, but it turned out to be an ok read. There was a lot of commentary about women being obedient to man, which didn’t particularly appeal to me but it was fitting for the time. This isn’t really a genre that usually appeals to me but if you like books in this genre or even if you like historical romances with steamy sex scenes, this book would be a good read for you!

The bottom line: This book wasn’t really one that I would have picked on my own. It had a solid plot line and was ok but probably isn’t something I would read again. If you like erotic novels or even historical romance, this book may interest you. Also if you like a hero that lived during a time when a woman was supposed to be super obedient then this book may interest you.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2016 Book #5 – Return of the Witch by Paula Brackston

81J7cls7VfLTitle: The Return of the Witch
Author: Paula Brackston
Date finished: 1/16/16
Genre: Historical, fiction, time travel
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Publication Date: March 8, 2016
Pages in book: 339
Stand alone or series: Sequel to The Witch’s Daughter
Where I got the book from: BookBrowse NOTE: I received this book for free from BookBrowse in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

 

Blurb from the cover:

Paula Brackston’s debut novel, The Witch’s Daughter, was the little book that could–with a captivating story, remarkable heroine, and eye-catching package, it has now netted over 200,000 copies in all formats. Now Paula returns with its sequel The Return of the Witch, another bewitching tale of love and magic, featuring her signature blend of gorgeous writing, a fabulous and intriguing historical backdrop, and a headstrong and relatable heroine readers will cheer for.
After five years in the Summerlands, Gideon has gained his freedom. Elizabeth knows he will go straight for Tegan, and that she must protect the girl she had come to regard as her own daughter. In the time since she the dramatic night in Batchcombe woods, Tegan has traveled the world learning from all manner of witches, and she is no longer the awkward teenager and novice spellcaster she once was. However, her skills are no match for Gideon’s dark, vengeful power, and he succeeds in capturing her. Will Elizabeth be able to find her? Will they be able to defeat their nemesis once and for all?
In a breathless journey that takes them through history to the 17th and 19th centuries, witch pursues warlock. Three people steeped in magic weave a new story, but not all will survive until the end.

My rating: 4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. Also, this book will count towards my “Holiday 2015 Bookish Bingo” reading challenge, marking off the “Time Travel” square, since much of this book deals with traveling through time. This book picks up 5 years after the end of the previous book, “The Witch’s Daughter.” I didn’t know that this book was a sequel until I started reading it so I hadn’t read the first book ahead of time. While I didn’t find that this hindered me in any way, I think that some of the back story items discussed in this book would have made more sense to me if I had read the first book before hand. I still greatly enjoyed this book though.
From what I was able to gather, Gideon was defeated at the end of the first book and banished to a prison in some kind of witch heaven. In the beginning of this book, Gideon escapes his prison and returns to Earth. Elizabeth follows him, thinking that the first thing he’ll do is go after her young student Tegan not only for Tegan’s part in Gideon’s incarceration but also as a means of getting revenge on Elizabeth. While she is correct on Gideon’s direction, she has no idea that his plans for Tegan involve something far worse than merely revenge. After Gideon manages to capture Tegan, Elizabeth follows them through time to try and retrieve Tegan back from Gideon’s dark forces.
Overall I really enjoyed this book! I have to be honest I was surprised that I enjoyed it so much since the last book I read by Brackston (The Midnight Witch) I did not really enjoy so much because it was very confusing for me. This book was much easier to follow with the story line and it was a great story/plot. I do wish that I had read the previous book to have a better understanding of some of the back story but it was easy enough to figure out the gist of what had happened for the most part. And this book was just so interesting, it was one adventure after another. We learn about Tegan’s journey through the world in search of learning different types of magic and each stop ends up being more fantastical than the last.

 

The bottom line: I thought this was a great book! I would probably recommend reading the first book, well first (which I am planning to read soon) but if you don’t have time this book can technically be read as a book on its own. Was a great adventure! I would definitely recommend!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2014 – Book #37

Midnight_Witch_cover_423x640

The thirty-seventh book I read in 2014 was The Midnight Witch by Paula Brackston. I finished this book on 5/9/14 and it was the first book I’ve read by this author. I rated this book 2.5 stars out of a scale of 5. This is the story of a necromancer witch, Lady Lilith, set in London in the early 1900’s. She falls in love with a young artist, Bram. Together they are faced with what seem to be insurmountable obstacles that get in the way of their love.

This was a hard read for me. There was a lot of very lengthy descriptions that weren’t necessary to set scene. Also the story randomly jumped forward years at a time twice towards the end of the book. And the narration was constantly jumping from Lilith’s point of view in the 1st person and Bram and various other points of view in the 3rd person. Between all of this the story was honestly a little hard to follow. The plot line itself was interesting and could’ve resulted in a much better story I think. Of course there were some parts of the story that I didn’t like. Lilith is described as having such a strength of will and character and she twice defied the creed of the Lazarus Coven. I just found that surprising and couldn’t reconcile these facts.

I considered giving up halfway through this book. At that point I knew there was very little possibility that I would end up loving this book. I decided to finish it to see what happened and how it ended. I have to say that I am glad I finished it because the 2nd half of the book was slightly better than the first. However, the first half of the book was not what I would call fantastic so it would’ve been hard not to have it improve. I just had so much trouble being drawn into the story. I couldn’t get involved in the characters or what drove them. And there are so many loose ends and unresolved issues. Violet is lost to the Darkness in the beginning of the book and is never recovered. Lilith’s dad isn’t heard from at all in the second half of the book. I feel like the soup kitchen and the nuns were important to the story but they were mentioned so little that I had trouble understanding. I feel like there could’ve been more development of the relationship between Lilith and the nuns through conversations and what not. And pieces of the story were so dark. And (**SPOILER ALERT**) at the end Lilith comes back to life and then her and Bram live happily ever after? Even though she’s living in a dead body now and will have to drink the Elixir regularly for the rest of her life.

Overall I was just disappointed with this book. It was definitely not one of my favorites. I read on Amazon that other people were disappointed with this book and said her other two books were much better. I might try one of her other books in the future to see for myself but I’m not sure I can risk it just yet.

Link to author website: http://www.paulabrackston.com/

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Midnight-Witch-Paula-Brackston-ebook/dp/B00FCR3QUC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1399690241&sr=8-1&keywords=midnight+witch