Havenfall | Book Review

Oh my goodness, this book! I stayed up two hours too late last night finishing Havenfall because I could NOT put it down!

I should probably start by telling you a smidgen about it. Here’s a quick blurb:

“Hidden deep in the mountains of Colorado lies the Inn at Havenfall, a sanctuary that connects ancient worlds–each with their own magic–together. For generations, the inn has protected all who seek refuge within its walls, and any who disrupt the peace can never return.

For Maddie Morrow, summers at the inn are more than a chance to experience this magic first-hand. Havenfall is an escape from reality, where her mother sits on death row accused of murdering Maddie’s brother. It’s where Maddie fell in love with handsome Fiorden soldier Brekken. And it’s where one day she hopes to inherit the role of Innkeeper from her beloved uncle.

But this summer, the impossible happens–a dead body is found, shattering everything the inn stands for. With Brekken missing, her uncle gravely injured, and a dangerous creature on the loose, Maddie suddenly finds herself responsible for the safety of everyone in Havenfall. She’ll do anything to uncover the truth, even if it means working together with an alluring new staffer Taya, who seems to know more than she’s letting on. As dark secrets are revealed about the inn itself, one thing becomes clear to Maddie–no one can be trusted, and no one is safe . . .

Sara Holland takes the lush fantasy that captured readers in Everless and Evermore and weaves it into the real world to create a wholly captivating new series where power and peril lurk behind every door.”

So, I picked this one up because I loved the cover (I mean, look at it!), and I loved Everless and Evermore that Sara Holland also wrote, but I wasn’t 100% sold on the description. Once I got into it, though, I fell in love. I can’t say I like it more than Everless….but it’s at least a tie. And it was a strong 4.5 star read for me! I loved the contemporary setting (though I do hope we get to somehow explore the other worlds in the next book).

I loved the twists and turns the story took, as well as the way the magic came into play. And I loved seeing Maddie (the main character) learn that the way she saw the world may not be the whole picture, and…well that would be a spoiler, but she had a nice character arc. Maddie states that she likes both boys and girls, but there’s only a small amount of actual romance in the book, and nothing explicit. It’s not the focus of the story, which I liked. I would personally rate the book as okay for ages 12 plus (though obviously all kids are different).  I need to get my grubby little hands on book two NOW, but since I can’t do that yet, I’ll instead just urge you to pick this one up if you enjoy YA fantasy with a contemporary spin, and characters with relatable anxiety, with a good dollop of mystery mixed in.

Thanks Bloomsbury and NetGalley for the free advanced ebook to read and review. All opinions are my own.

The Girl The Sea Gave Back | Mood Board Monday (on a Thursday).

Hey y’all. I love making aesthetic boards for books, but I’ve been busy. I finally have one ready for one of my favorite books of 2019 – THE GIRL THE SEA GAVE BACK! You can read my review of it here.

This was seriously the loveliest book. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. Though you should probably read Sky in the Deep first. Thanks for stopping by, have a wonderful day!

Woven In Moonlight | Book Review

Woven In Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez is a whimsical, lovely book. Here’s a quick blurb about it:

A lush tapestry of magic, romance, and revolución, drawing inspiration from Bolivian politics and history.

Ximena is the decoy Condesa, a stand-in for the last remaining Illustrian royal. Her people lost everything when the usurper, Atoc, used an ancient relic to summon ghosts and drive the Illustrians from La Ciudad. Now Ximena’s motivated by her insatiable thirst.

I loved the unique magic connected to both weaving and moonlight. The turn that the magic took in the second half of the book was especially enchanting. I loved the world building and all the beautiful details inspired by Bolivian life, (and now I’m craving all the delicious Bolivian food).

I appreciated that the violence wasn’t too graphic (though there are some upsetting deaths), and romance didn’t escalate beyond a bit of passionate kissing, so my twelve-year-old can enjoy this one, too, if she wants. I’d recommend this to fans of The Girl of Fire and Thorns series, and YA fantasy set in non-European worlds. As well as fans of magical realism.

Thank you Page Street Publishing and NetGalley for the chance to read a free ebook of Woven In Moonlight in exchange for an honest review.

The Map from Here to There | Book Review

I want to start by saying, I had no idea when I started this that it was book two in a series. Oops. I’d highly recommend reading The Start of Me and You first. By the time I realized I was reading a story that began in a previous book, I’d already spoiled myself on the ending of that book, so I just kept reading, but I think it diminished my enjoyment of the story. My star rating assumes that I would have liked it better if I was reading it as book two, not a standalone.

What I did love about the The Map from Here to There was its inclusion of Paige’s anxiety struggles. It treated the topic of mental health with care and respect. The book showed a rare glimpse into life after the moment when the two people who have been pining for each other all book long finally get together. The big feelings and struggles Paige and her friends were dealing with as far as selecting colleges, applying, dealing with rejection letters from colleges, seeing their group of friends go in different directions and so on seemed incredibly realistic. I feel like this book would be an especially great read for those around the same age as the characters, or a little younger, who are beginning to deal with these same issues, especially as that struggle often seems to be glossed over in fiction. On the downside, this wasn’t one of the YA books that seemed to have as much YA/Adult crossover appeal, for me personally. But that’s okay, because obviously the target audience is teens, and I wish I’d had books that were this honest when I was in High School.

A struggle I had with the book is that it begins with introducing us to a new guy that Paige (the main character) is hanging out with. And since he was the first guy we met, I latched on to him as the love interest. I had no idea book one ended with her dating someone else. I then had a hard time liking the guy Paige was actually dating once he entered the scene. Not having the backstory of how the two of them fell in love, and all his endearing qualities, I didn’t see how the two of them were a good fit. I didn’t connect as well with the story overall as I’d have liked, and I can’t say for sure if that’s simply because I was dropped into the middle of the story, or if I just didn’t fully connect with the writing style. Either way, I love that this story deals with anxieties and worries and emotions that are very real but not often written about, and I recommend it to those beginning to think about college, or even in college and missing friends and family and struggling to deal with everything.

Thanks so much to Bloomsbury Children’s and NetGalley for the chance to read an advanced copy of the ebook for free. Opinions are my own.

Every Other Weekend | Book Review

Every Other Weekend by Abigail Johnson was a poignant, emotionally gripping read.

Here’s a quick blurb about the book:

“Can life begin again…every other weekend?

Adam Moynihan’s life used to be awesome. Straight As, close friends and a home life so perfect that it could have been a TV show straight out of the 50s. Then his oldest brother died. Now his fun-loving mom cries constantly, he and his remaining brother can’t talk without fighting, and the father he always admired proved himself a coward by moving out when they needed him most.

Jolene Timber’s life is nothing like the movies she loves—not the happy ones anyway. As an aspiring director, she should know, because she’s been reimagining her life as a film ever since she was a kid. With her divorced parents at each other’s throats and using her as a pawn, no amount of mental reediting will give her the love she’s starving for.

Forced to spend every other weekend in the same apartment building, the boy who thinks forgiveness makes him weak and the girl who thinks love is for fools begin an unlikely friendship. The weekends he dreaded and she endured soon become the best part of their lives. But when one’s life begins to mend while the other’s spirals out of control, they realize that falling in love while surrounded by its demise means nothing is ever guaranteed.”

While there were some sweet moments, to be sure, the tone was pretty heavy overall. I loved that the story dealt with some serious topics, divorce, separation, grief, loneliness, abuse, and more. Be sure to check for trigger warnings if there are issues that you don’t want to read about.

It was a four star read for me, and I hope a lot of youth who are going through similar situations have the chance to read this. There are some pretty great pre-order goodies available now, and the book comes out on January 7th.

Thanks NetGalley and Harlequin TEEN for a free advanced copy of the ebook. All opinions are my own.