Title: Into the Heartless Wood Author: Joanna Ruth Meyer Rating: ★★★★
Thank you to Page Street Books for sending me an ARC!
“He will die thinking the monster in the wood never lost her heart to the boy who is lost in the stars.”
Joanna Ruth Meyer’s standalone fantasies have impressed me a lot thus far. Echo North quickly became one of my favorites after I read it last year, and now I find myself enchanted by Into the Heartless Wood as well. This book can easily be described as a gender-swapped loose retelling of Beauty and the Beast featuring an astronomer’s son and a monstrous tree siren.
The writing is absolutely stunning. The story gives off fairytale vibes and the gorgeous, vivid descriptions and prose reflect that. Everything about the story is magical: the wicked wood, the tree sirens, the changing stars in the sky. The atmospheric setting draws the reader in easily. The relationship between Owen and Seren was both heartbreaking and heartwarming. Their love is doomed from the start but that doesn’t deter the reader from wishing them a happily ever after. I really loved how the author handled the romance aspect of this story.
Into the Heartless Wood is a dark, fairytale full of magic and forbidden love. The lyrical writing, atmospheric setting, and extraordinary storytelling make this an enchanting fantasy. I loved every second of reading this and cannot wait for more people to read it too.
Title: You Have a Match Author: Emma Lord Rating: ★★★★½
ARC provided by Wednesday Books through NetGalley.
Emma Lord is beginning to become an auto-add author in the world of YA contemporary books. Tweet Cute was a stellar debut and–dare I say it–You Have a Match was even better. Her sophomore book was full of heart and put such smile on my face!
You Have a Match had some serious Parent Trap vibes and I was loving it. The story is about two sisters who find out about each other accidentally through a DNA ancestry site. They decided to team up at summer camp and do some digging to find out what secrets their parents are hiding from them.
The book is full of all kinds of drama which made it such an entertaining read. From the familial drama, to the unrequited pining between best friends, to the camp shenanigans, there was enough happening to keep me coming back for more. I really loved Abby and Savvy’s storyline and the friendship they build between each other, despite the strange circumstances.
You Have a Match was a sweet, heartwarming book about family and friendship. This book is perfect for fans of Tweet Cute and other YA contemporary books! If that sounds like you, definitely give this book a read when it releases.
Gelya is a Vessel, a girl who channels the word of the One True God through song. Cloistered with the other Vessels of her faith, she believes—as all Ovinists do—that a saint imprisoned Elath the Great Demon centuries ago, saving humanity from earthly temptation.
When Gelya stumbles into a deadly cover-up by the Ovinists’ military, she reluctantly teams up with Tavik, an enemy soldier, to survive. Tavik believes that Elath is actually a mother goddess who must be set free, but while he succeeds in opening Her prison, he inadvertently turns Gelya into Elath’s unwilling human vessel.
Now the church that raised Gelya considers her a threat. In a race against the clock, she and Tavik must find a way to exorcise Elath’s presence from her body. But will this release stop the countdown to the end of the world, or will it be the cause of the earth’s destruction? And as Tavik and Gelya grow closer, another question lingers between them: What will become of Gelya?
Megan Bannen continues to impress me with her masterful storytelling and beautiful characters. Soulswift was a story full of intriguing world-building, opposing religions, and self-discovery.
The heart of Soulswift revolves around spirituality and beliefs. The story follows two characters, Tavik and Gelya, who are from opposing sides of a religion-based war. Circumstances force the two of them to reluctantly work together and attempt to save their world. I really loved the presence of mythology/religion here. Tavik and Gelya are both forced to examine their faith and question their beliefs. The book heavily focuses on self-discovery and the uniting of different ideas was perfectly executed and added depth to the characters’ development.
I absolutely loved the relationship that developed between Tavik and Gelya. They start out as enemies, but they way they change their opinions about each other during their journey and grow together was beautiful. Without spoiling too much, their relationship follows another one of my favorite tropes (other than the enemies-to-lovers) and I was completely on board! The romance aspect of the book was perfectly incorporated into the story; it had importance to the characters and yet wasn’t the focus of the story.
The ending was heartbreakingly, achingly beautiful and I would have expected nothing less from Bannen after The Bird and the Blade. Soulswift was a wonderful story with engaging writing, wholesome characters, and important themes about faith and self-discovery.
★ ★ ★ ★ ½
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Megan Bannen is the author of SOULSWIFT and THE BIRD AND THE BLADE, a Kirkus Best Young Adult Book of 2018 and an Indies Introduce selection. An avid coffee drinker and mediocre ukulele player, Megan lives in the Kansas City area with her husband and their two children. She’s a full-time writer, but her librarian heart will always belong to the reference desk.
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Last year I dedicated the Halloween freebie to covers featuring snakes, so this year I decided to go with another element common to the spirit of Halloween: skulls! 💀 Skulls always look so cool on book covers and I had a blast finding my favorite ones!
Serpent & Dove was one of my favorite reads in 2019 and an absolute spectacular debut novel. I loved everything about it and so Blood & Honey quickly became one of the most anticipated releases for this year. I began to check my expectations when reviews started coming in and readers were finding the sequel disappointing. And while I didn’t seem to dislike Blood & Honey as much as other people, I’m sad to share that it did not live up to my hype and expectation.
Let’s start with everything I did enjoy and all the good aspects the book had going for it. First of all, Shelby Mahurin is a very talented writer and there is no disputing that. Despite not much going on throughout the story, I was still enchanted by the writing and easily transported in the world. The heartwarming friendships and relationships between the characters I loved from the first book remain, and new characters and friendships/relationships were formed that I really loved. One of the most important parts of Blood & Honey is Lou’s “descent” into darkness and becoming more and more like her mother as the story went on. This is super important for her character arc and I really liked how Mahurin handled it.
Now on to what didn’t work with this book. You cannot call Blood & Honey anything other than a filler. This series went from a planned duology to a trilogy and it shows. A whole lot of nothing happens for the majority of the book. And because nothing really ever happens, I found myself struggling to figure out what the point of most of what happens here is. There are many smaller subplots that I honestly believe could have just been nixed altogether and would not have changed the course of the story in any way.
Did I enjoy this as much as I had been hoping? No. Did I dislike this as much as many other people did? Also no. Blood & Honey was mediocre. I still really loved the writing, the world, the overarching plot, and the characters. It was just a disappointment. I remain hopeful, however, that the third book will blow us all away again!