WWW Wednesday: May 12th 2021

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Personal:

Allergies and that awful cold has been banished from the house. Mr Z was the last one to get it and wouldn’t you know, he got it the worst. He is also my one kid that NEVER gets sick. So it figures that he got laid out with this cold.

Mr. Z has his end-of-grade testing coming up. He did his math today and ELA next week. I’m expecting him to pass both with flying colors. Put it this way, he has a 96 in Math and a 97 in ELA. His GPA is 4.0.

Miss B’s end-of-course testing starts next week. She has one EOG on the 24th. After that, she’s out of school. Well, according to her she’s out of school for the rest of that week. I do plan on emailing her EC (special Ed) teacher to confirm

Because Miss R is in 1st grade, they don’t do end-of-grade testing. Instead, they see how proficient the kids are in math, ELA, writing, and science/social studies. Because Miss R’s teacher contacted me last week, I know that she isn’t proficient in writing. Honestly, I am not that worried about it. I will work with her over the summer break (I got workbooks). Considering how messed up the school year was, I am happy that she is on grade level for everything else.

BK is in Baltimore/Washington D.C. this week. I am worried about how he is going to get home with the gas shortages. He took his company car there yesterday and had problems finding a gas station. He’s hoping that by tomorrow that there will be gas.

Speaking of the gas shortage, we’re good with gas. BK fills the cars (Dodge Journey and Dodge Grand Caravan) up every Saturday/Sunday. So, we’re good for a while if I only drive when I have to. They are expecting everything to be OKish by the weekend (according to the news).

BK and I finally got to watch another episode of The Nevers on Sunday. I am really enjoying that show. But, because of the shitstorm that is around Joss Whedon, I am wondering if it will be canceled….sigh. Hey, at least I still have The Magicians and Lovecraft County.

I have stopped playing Black Desert Online. The game got boring for me. I decided to redownload Elder Scrolls Online and play that. So far, I am liking it!!

I made Slow-Cooker Savory Roast Chicken and Vegetables with garlic mashed potatoes for supper last night. It was a bust. None of the kids ate it. Miss B didn’t like the taste of the chicken, Miss R didn’t like that there were mushrooms in it, and Mr. Z doesn’t like chicken, period. I thought it tasted good….shrug. Gotta love having picky kids.

Blog

I had posted this on Monday (on the IMWAYR post) but I am going to restate it here. I am finally able to edit my posts without having to scroll through all of them. I was so excited about that and I did about 5-6 posts before closing shop for the night. I am hoping to get all my posts edited/links fixed by the end of the summer!!

Reading:

I didn’t do a lot of reading last week. As I mentioned in that IMWAYR post, I had an awful migraine that lasted two days. Then it was my birthday/Mother’s day. Then on Monday, my Kindle died (that happens when you don’t charge it….lol). But I was able to finish one book last night and I am almost done with another.


What I Recently Finished Reading:

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Ten thousand years ago, a mysterious race that we only know as the Overseers took primitive humans and scattered them on dozens of worlds across the galaxy. Now, some of those people have found their way back to Earth. A young Justice Keeper named Anna Lenai has tracked a criminal through unexplored regions of space in the hopes of recovering a symbiont that grants its host the ability to bend space and time. Her search leads her to Earth, where she befriends a young man named Jack Hunter. Together, they will face enemies with advanced technology as they struggle to recover the symbiont before its power falls into the wrong hands.

I wasn’t a huge fan of this book. I loved what was promised in the blurb. But once Anna and Jack got the symbiont, the book got very, very weird.


What I am currently reading:

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What to do when your crush turns out to be a monster (and other such problems).

Just when correctional nurse October Grace has a handle on her stressful job and taking care of her mentally ill mother, a shapeshifting warrior and a half-vampire plunge her into a foreign land that’s on the brink of starvation. Now, with a ticking clock and a target on her back, October takes up the mantle of becoming one of the rare Omens who can bring hope to a dying world.
Mason and Von remain by her side to shield the national treasure while she sacrifices herself to reap the souls that will feed the nations of Terraway. As the death toll rises daily, October finds herself tangled up in a cutthroat world where fairytale creatures run wild… and every day is a new bloody battle.

I am enjoying this book, even though it isn’t quite what the blurb promised. Yes, October is a nurse but the blurb fails to mention that she has severe OCD. That is brought on by being raised by an abusive hoarder of a mother. As for her being an Omen, October wasn’t even aware of it until the night she met her mother’s new boyfriend. Other than that, I am loving it. Von is one of my favorite characters (the scene where he is trying not to feed on October was pretty funny…mainly because of what he was saying). Mason, I am not sure of, and I do NOT like Danny. He’s a little too free with his hands if you know what I mean.


What books I think I’ll read next:

I finally have new books on my TBR list for this next week. I will have a book come off hold from the library at some point this week, so I am including it on this week’s list. The order in which I will be reading these books are NetGalley ARC, Author ARC, Library book, TBR, TBR, TBR.

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At twenty-six, Dahlia Lighthouse has a lot to learn when it comes to the real world. Raised in a secluded island mansion deep in the woods and kept isolated by her true crime-obsessed parents, she has spent the last several years living on her own, but unable to move beyond her past—especially the disappearance of her twin brother Andy when they were sixteen.

With her father’s death, Dahlia returns to the house she has avoided for years. But as the rest of the Lighthouse family arrives for the memorial, a gruesome discovery is made: buried in the reserved plot is another body—Andy’s, his skull split open with an ax.


Each member of the family handles the revelation in unusual ways. Her brother Charlie pours his energy into creating a family memorial museum, highlighting their research into the lives of famous murder victims; her sister Tate forges ahead with her popular dioramas portraying crime scenes; and their mother affects a cheerfully domestic façade, becoming unrecognizable as the woman who performed murder reenactments for her children. As Dahlia grapples with her own grief and horror, she realizes that her eccentric family, and the mansion itself, may hold the answers to what happened to her twin.
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I, Elya Pavlovna, am a horribly wicked and unfortunate girl.

After her governess is fired for teaching her to read, Elya writes in a secret journal to continue her lessons on her own. Though, as an unwanted scullery maid, she doubts she will ever have much to say.

But when a charming stranger answers her private messages, Elya’s world turns upside down. He calls her sweet. He calls her strong. He challenges her to come to a palace celebration and leave her abusive past behind.

Each small push reveals more risks and hidden heartache. Will the magic of their words be enough to rewrite their story together, or will it all fade away at midnight?

If you like inspirational heroines, unique love stories, and untrustworthy fae, this romantic fantasy is for you! One-click now to start the magic, romance, and heart-wrenching emotional journey!

Letters by Cinderlight is a twist on the Cinderella story based in Slavic mythology and full of magical fairies with stories of their own.

What are HighTower Fairytales?

HighTower Fairytales lean more toward the original sources (NOT Disney) with rich semi-historical settings. They have magic. They have scary monsters. And, most importantly, they have unique and complex characters who are trying hard to improve themselves.

They also include plenty of humor and all the heroes marry their prince/princess charming and live happily ever after at the end!

Basically, these stories meant to inspire, but have a very difficult and occasionally dark tower to climb. They are conservatively marked at 14+ and are appropriate for teens and young adults.

Currently these stories include:

Winter Falls: A Tale of the Snow Queen (2017)
Cry Wolf: A Tale of Beauty and the Beast (2020)
Depths: A Tale of the Little Mermaid (2020)
Letters by Cinderlight: A Tale of Cinderella (2021)
Robin’s Hood: A Tale of Sherwood Forest (2021)

And more on the way!!!
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Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.
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As the captain of the Chicago Aces, Marc Dupuis is all business. The apartment he shares with his teammate and best friend, Duncan, is a refuge from the pressures of fame. But when the sexiest woman he’s ever seen interrupts his early morning coffee wearing only a skimpy cami and matching panties, Marc can’t exactly say he minds. Their chemistry is off the charts. Unfortunately, this girl’s no random puck bunny. She’s Duncan’s little sister—and she’s moving in.

Lovey Armstrong could stare at Marc’s chiseled abs and listen to his French-Canadian accent all day. She just has no idea what’s going on inside his head: When he’s not charming her pants off, Marc makes a Zamboni machine seem warm and cuddly. Lovey knows the team’s bro code says no messing with sisters, but all these mixed messages are hard on a girl’s self-esteem—especially since she’s finally getting her new life together in Chicago. She decides he’s worth another shot . . . because if anyone can melt the ice around Marc’s heart, it’s Lovey.
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Can a broken Alpha save her from the Big Bad wolves?

Lucas has lost his mate, and he’ll never claim another—his kind of broken can’t be fixed. He’s still alpha enough to rescue a young woman from the predatory Red wolf pack, but when she shows up at his office—as his sexy new intern—she stirs up feelings that need to stay buried…

Mia’s just trying to earn her degree and dig her way out of poverty. Keeping her shifter nature secret is key, but her internship at the hottest dot-com development firm in Seattle also has the hottest boss… and he’s a wolf. Who just happened to save her life.

She’d break all the rules for this guy—except he wants nothing to do with her. And the wolves who do are the Big Bad Wolf kind. The kind she’s always heard about.


Mia’s in the middle of a pack war with nowhere to turn… but to the one guy who doesn’t want her at all.
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Leaving the Navy after the death of his best friend in the line of duty, ex-SEAL Ben Harper has returned home in search of some form of normalcy. He’s good at hiding his thoughts and feelings and is positive he has everyone around him fooled. After all, no one ever brings his service career up to him, and he likes it that way.

Presley James is drawn to the new Director of Security at the hospital where she works, just like every other nurse and employee in the building. Tall, dark, dangerous and sexy as hell. With a wicked grin and happy hello for everyone—he is a total contradiction. After spending most of her life caring for people, something about Ben is pulling at her. Something about his smile just doesn’t equal up to the rest of him. No matter how hard he tries, she isn’t fooled.

Will she be able to help him find his way when her own baggage is more than even she can handle?

Mature content, not intended for under 18 years of age.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Titles That Sound Like Crayon Colors

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

How it works:

She assigns each Tuesday a topic and then posts her top ten list that fits that topic. You’re more than welcome to join her and create your own top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.) list as well. Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you! Please link back to That Artsy Reader Girl in your own post so that others know where to find more information.


When I saw the topic for today’s TTT, I was happy. Crayola Crayons always have the most interesting names for their colors. I couldn’t wait to see what I could pull out of my read/tbr pile for crayon colors.


Red

Flesh and Blood by Willow Rose

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Orange

(I had an issue finding a good Orange title but this one seemed to fit)

Elixir Project by Kary Oberbrunner

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Yellow

The Burnt Sunset by Chris Ledoux

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Green

The Queen’s Opal by Jacque Stevens

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Blue

Foam on the Crest of Waves by Silke Stein

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Purple

Starswept by Mary Fan

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Black

Darkest Night by Tara Thomas

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Brown

Whispers in the Woods by Victoria Lynn Osborne

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White

A White Picket Fence by Laura Branchflower

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Fairy Ring: Changeling of Janderelle (Fairy Ring: Book 2) by Jacque Stevens

Fairy Ring: Changeling of Janderelle (Book Two) by [Stevens, Jacque]

4 Stars

Publisher: sjacquebooks

Date of publication: May 23rd, 2019

Genre: Dark Fantasy

Series: Fairy Ring

Fairy Ring: Shards of Janderelle—Book 1

Fairy Ring: Changeling of Janderelle—Book 2

Where you can find Fairy Ring: Changeling of Janderelle: Amazon | BookBub

Book synopsis:

Queen-bee of her freshman class, fifteen-year-old Grace is no angel. 

That spot was reserved for her brother, Gabriel. But now that Gabe has died, it seems everyone has forgotten him. Even her mother would rather focus on her new boyfriend than plan a funeral.

Grace can’t forget, and after discovering a way into the fairy world that killed her brother, she is ready to take her revenge. Even if that means befriending the trolls of that world and becoming their queen, their changeling child. 

But as accessing her full magic requires her to draw others through the fairy ring, it seems her revenge may come at an even higher price—her soul.

Sequel to Fairy Ring: Shards of Janderelle.

Clean Read. References to substance abuse, nonexplicit sexual references, and other more serious issues. Recommended for young adults and teens fourteen and up. 


My Review:

My brother, Gabriel, was a saint, right up there with whatever angel our parents named him after

I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to read this book when I came across it. I took one look at the cover and went, “Ugggh. Another YA fantasy.” Then I read the blurb, and my feelings changed. I couldn’t wait to dive into this book.

The author did a fantastic job of explaining why she wrote Grace the way she did in the author’s note. She drew on her experience of a mental health nurse to make Grace as realistic as possible. She also made it clear that in no way is Grace a hero, which I loved.

Like I stated in the above paragraph, Grace is not a hero. Grace was damaged. She was a bully who took pleasure in tormenting Livy. She never dealt with the car accident and then Gabe’s death. She was a hot mess. I did feel bad for her. She was hurting, and her mother wasn’t there for her.

You do need to read book 1 to understand this book. I didn’t, and I was lost for most of the book. Kaito does go into what happened the night that Gabe died, but that still wasn’t enough detail. This isn’t a stand alone book.

Grace caused a lot of harm in this book. She was going to do anything to get back at Kaito. Anything. That’s how she ended up becoming the Ogress of the trolls. That was also how she ended up with shards from Jaron and Cody. And finally, that is how she got in trouble in the human world for trying to kill Briar.

The end of the book was heartbreaking. Her confusion over what exactly happened that night was palpable. I will say that she didn’t have any regret for anything that she did. I am curious to see what her character will be like in the next book.


I would give Fairy Ring: Changeling of Janderelle an Older Teen rating. There is sex. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 16 read this book.

I would reread Fairy Ring: Changeling of Janderelle.  I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

The Queen’s Opal (Stone Bearers: Book 1) by Jacque Stevens

The Queen's Opal: A Stone Bearers Novel (Book One) by [Stevens, Jacque]

4 Stars

Publisher: sjacquebooks

Date of publication: December 5th, 2017

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Series: Stone Bearers

The Stone Bearers—Book 0 (review here)

The Frog’s Princess—Book 0.5

The Queen’s Opal—Book 1

The Queen’s Gift—Book 2

The Queen’s Heir—Book 3

The Queen’s Bane—Book 4

Where you can find The Queen’s Opal: Amazon | BookBub

Synopsis:

Elves never use magic or leave the forest.

They aren’t supposed to get sick either, but Drynn’s mother just died from a mysterious illness, which has targeted the elven queens for generations. With no female heir left, the symbol of the curse—a green stone called the Queen’s Opal—passes to Drynn. Unwilling to lose another family member, Drynn’s impulsive and overprotective brother drags him out of the forest to search for a cure. And the oft-diseased humans seem the most likely place to start.

But the opal isn’t all that it seems. Once outside the forest, it shows Drynn visions of the first queen—a time when the mortal avatars of the lost gods walked the earth and the humans and elves lived in peace. Much has changed in the human lands since then. It’s a darker world, ruled by power-hungry wizards who covet any kind of magic. Magic like the opal. Magic like the natural energy the wizards can see inside the elves.

More than healing one illness, Drynn’s visions call for him to restore the world’s former peace, but if the wrong wizard learns about the elves’ innate gifts, even the forest will no longer be safe. 

Family bonds will be tested. Friends will become foes. With two kingdoms spiraling into chaos, can a shy bookworm conquer his fears to bring peace to the realm?

The Queen’s Opal is book one in a new high fantasy adventure series set in the same magical and exotic world as The Stone Bearers (2016).

This coming of age story will appeal to teen and young adult fans of the TV show Avatar: The Last Airbender, Cinda Willams Chima (The Demon King), Christopher Paolini (Eragon), and other works of epic sword and sorcery.

Clean Read. Fantasy violence and a few darker themes. Recommended for young adults and teens twelve and up.

Stone Bearers:
0. The Stone Bearers (2016)
0.5. The Frog’s Princess (2016)
1. The Queen’s Opal (2017)
2. The Queen’s Gift (2018)
3. The Queen’s Heir (2018)
4. The Queen’s Bane (Coming 2018)
5. The Queen’s Rite (Coming 2019)

Please Note: The Queen’s Opal is Book One. The Stone Bearers is a standalone novel that can be read before or after the full series.

The short story, The Frog’s Princess, can also be read in any order. Find it in The Fantastic Worlds Anthology (2016) or have a free digital copy delivered to you after signing up for my email list at sjacquebooks.com. Those on my email list will receive monthly emails with updates on deals, review opportunities for new releases, and other exclusive content.

Fairy Ring:
1. Fairy Ring: Shards of Janderelle (2017)
2. Fairy Ring: Changeling of Janderelle (Coming 2018)
3. Fairy Ring: Prince of Janderelle (Coming 2019)

Others: 
Winter Falls: A Tale of the Snow Queen (2017)
Depths: A Tale of the Little Mermaid (Coming 2018)


My Review:

The Queen’s Opal is the story of Drynn and his journey into the human world. It is also the story of Tayvin and the reason why he wanted to leave the forest. Finally, it is the story of Kol, his secret and his hatred of the robes. What happens when Kol meets Drynn? What happens to Drynn in the human world? Will Tayvin find what he is looking for? Can Kol overcome his hatred for the “robes“? Or will that hatred be his downfall?


Drynn (Aldrayndallen-Falberain): I liked Drynn. The main character in The Queen’s Opal, he was my favorite. I did feel bad for him. His mother dies, his brother forces him on a trip out of the forest and he gets kidnapped. On top of that, he starts to have these strange dreams about the first Queen and her life. He had a lousy couple of months. There was a point in the book where I wondered if he would ever be free of those people. I also was kinda hoping that Tayvin would find him first. I wanted to see a couple of those thieves get drop-kicked into next Monday (Picc and Cain mainly).

Tayvin (Tayvinaldrill-Falberain): I understood why he wanted to go to the human world. He wanted to save his brother. He couldn’t deal with losing another family member. He was impulsive and hot-headed at the beginning of the book. But, that tempered as the book went on. By the end of the book, he showed a lot of restraint. Even when Drynn told him what happened to him. I was half expecting him to go off and avenge Drynn.

Kol: I wanted to shake Kol during certain parts of the book. The way he treated Drynn at first. He wasn’t exactly nice. He was also afraid of the robes (wizards). That fear was understandable. He watched his mother burn to death, protecting him from his father. But to act the way he did after Xavien got guardianship over him was jerky. He refused to heed the advice that the dragonet gave him until it was almost too late.


The Queen’s Opal as a great read. The author did a great job with world building. She took what was a flat 2d world and built it up. I can’t wait to see what this world is going to look like in the other books.

She also did a great job with character building. Drynn, Tayvin, and Kol were complex characters with many layers. They were as realistic as two elves and a halfbreed can be.

Any issues that I had with The Queen’s Opal were minor ones. I wished that more went into how the stone chose its bearer. During Drynn’s dreams, Saylee was called to the temple. But how? I also wanted to know why someone so young? With my luck, it will be answered in the next book.

The Queen’s Opal can definitely be read by kids as young as 12. The only thing that I could even see being traumatic for anyone younger are the beatings that Drynn and Kol endured. They were somewhat graphic. There are also scenes where Drynn was chained in a cart and a scene where Drynn was drugged. Other than that, this book is a great starter book for someone starting to read fantasy.

The end of The Queen’s Opal was intriguing. Some storylines were wrapped up. Other’s were started and other’s were left open. It made me want to read book 2 and see where everyone ends up. Also, I loved the epilogue. It was a different way to do things.


I would give The Queen’s Opal a Young Teen rating. There is no sex (only one kiss). There is violence. There is mild language. I would recommend that no one under the age of 13 read this book.

I would reread The Queen’s Opal. I would also recommend this book to family and friends.


I would like to thank the author for allowing me to read and review The Queen’s Opal.

All opinions stated in this review of The Queen’s Opal are mine


Have you read The Queen’s Opal?

Love it?

Hate it?

Let me know

Winter Falls: A Tale of the Snow Queen by Jacque Stevens

Winter Falls: A Tale of the Snow Queen

Title: Winter Falls

Author: Jacque Stevens

Publisher: sjacquebooks

Date of publication: January 24th, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fairy Tales, Mental Illness, Depression

Number of pages: 288

POV: 1st person

Series: No

Where you can find this book: Amazon

Goodreads synopsis:

Katie knows better than to believe in happy endings.

She learned there was no such thing after her mother died. In the postindustrial town of Riverside, Katie struggles to care for her distant father and his failing hotel. Her only comfort lies in the arms of her true love, Shay.

Yet one evening, he disappears without a trace.

Devastated, Katie jumps off a bridge in the dead of winter, expecting to meet death at the bottom. Instead, her fall transports her to a snowy netherworld, where trapped souls take on the form of animals and the only thing that matters is survival.

When Katie discovers that Shay has been kidnapped by a deadly witch called the Winter Queen, she goes on a journey to find him, traveling through the realms of storybook fairies, princesses, thieves, and monsters to bring him home. But the path is harsh and dangerous. Will Shay and Katie be reunited? Or be forever trapped within an eternal winter?

A retelling of the classic fairytale The Snow Queen, WINTER FALLS is a young adult epic fantasy romance which examines the trials of depression and mental illness in a magical world of action and adventure.

Teen fans of C.S. Lewis and Shannon Hale will love this inspirational novel by author Jacque Stevens

My review:

What a great retelling and imaginative retelling of the Snow Queen.

Told in 1st person and through flashbacks, after Katie jumps off of the same bridge that her mother, Winter Falls explores depression, suicide and how it affects the people left behind. The way the author wrote about it and the sensitivity that she showed about such sensitive subjects was amazing. I also like that she didn’t glamorize suicide, as I have seen in some books. Beth’s reasons for committing suicide were awful and I cried when the reason was revealed.

I liked how Katie’s character wasn’t perfect by any means. She is a snob, keeps herself away from her family and openly mocks her stepmother as she tells fairy tales to Katie’s younger brother and sisters. You are hard-pressed to like her in her flashbacks because of how she is.

But, everything does change when she enters the land of fairy and starts on her quest to get Spring, Summer and Autumn’s tokens of powers. You could just see her come into her own and you could see her processing how closed off she was, how rude and how snobby she was as she is retelling her life story and how she fell in love with Shay.

Shay’s character was as flawed but he was aware of it and he did try to better himself. I felt awful when he was talking to Katie about how bad his home life was after his mother died and when Katie’s stepmother basically told his father to get lost.

Katie’s quest was different and full of surprises. The people/animals that she met and helped/were helped by stood out to me. Each season was basically her finding herself and her understanding that she didn’t need to live her life the way she was and that only she could change her life.

The climax of the story was great and I was put on edge. I did get slightly emotional during a certain scene with Shay and Katie.

All of the storylines were resolved by the end of the book. I really liked how they were resolved in realistic ways. Not every storyline was a HEA and it was refreshing to read that.

The end of the book was great. It was pretty standard but the changes in Katie and Shay was there for everyone to see.

How many stars will I give Winter Falls: A Tale of the Snow Queen: 5

Why: This was a book that I really got into and it has to be the most creative retelling of the Snow Queen that I have ever read. The characters are engaging and the storyline was great. I really liked that the story was told, in part, by flashback. It made for an interesting read. The author also did a great job of covering the sensitive subjects of suicide, mental illness, child abuse, and rape.

Will I reread: Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age range: Older Teen (16+).

Why: This is not a book for a tween or younger teenager. Because of the content (suicide, mental illness, child abuse, rape), I would suggest that older teens (16+) read this book.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**