Review: Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw

Winterwood Winterwood
by Shea Ernshaw

ISBN-13: 9781534439412
Publication date: November 5th, 2019 by Simon Pulse
Purchased through Owlcrate

Be careful of the dark, dark wood…

Especially the woods surrounding the town of Fir Haven. Some say these woods are magical. Haunted, even.

Rumored to be a witch, only Nora Walker knows the truth. She and the Walker women before her have always shared a special connection with the woods. And it’s this special connection that leads Nora to Oliver Huntsman—the same boy who disappeared from the Camp for Wayward Boys weeks ago—and in the middle of the worst snowstorm in years. He should be dead, but here he is alive, and left in the woods with no memory of the time he’d been missing.

But Nora can feel an uneasy shift in the woods at Oliver’s presence. And it’s not too long after that Nora realizes she has no choice but to unearth the truth behind how the boy she has come to care so deeply about survived his time in the forest, and what led him there in the first place. What Nora doesn’t know, though, is that Oliver has secrets of his own—secrets he’ll do anything to keep buried, because as it turns out, he wasn’t the only one to have gone missing on that fateful night all those weeks ago.

pencil divider

I very much enjoyed Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw. The story takes place over less then a week, in a snowed in cottage area in the mountains. There’s a spooky,aggressive forest, a bottomless lake and a camp for wayward boys. Add in our main character Nora, and we have the makings of a moody, tense, mystery with a smaaaaall love story. Just the way I like it!

If you like character driven plots with wonderfully detailed backstory teased throughout, mysteries and only the simplest of teenage romance than I think you’ll enjoy Winterwood. The writing is beautifully descriptive and I lost myself in Nora’s witchy world. Oh yes; did I mention the witches? 😉

Review: The Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy

The Creeping The Creeping
by Alexandra Sirowy

ISBN-13: 9-781481-418867
Publication: August 18, 2015 from Simon & Schuster BYR
Source: publisher
Rating: 4 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it
Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

If you look for monsters, you’ll find them.

Eleven years ago, Stella and Jeanie disappeared. Only Stella came back. Now all she wants is a summer full of cove days, friends, and her gorgeous crush – until a fresh corpse leads Stella down a path of ancient evil and secrets. Stella believes remembering what happened to Janie will save her. It won’t. She used to know better than to believe in what slinks through the shadows. Not anymore.


The Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy is not my usual read. But between it and Survive the Night, I think I’ve managed to getout of my reader slump! There’s something to be said about reading books different from your usual. I’m not one to like horror – either movies or books – but The Creeping was horrifically great, and exactly what I wanted.

When Stella was six, she and her friend Jeanie went missing. Only Stella returned, with no memory of what happened. Now, years later, things start happening which bring up past events. It’s the anniversary of when the girls went missing and another girl has just turned up dead. Stella is rightfully freaked out! Especially with the return of Daniel, Jeanie’s older brother, who over the years has blamed, stalked and tormented Stella. With the help of an old friend, Stella is determined to fifure out what really happened the day she disappeared. But that’s not always a good idea.

I was holding my breath throughout most of this book, wondering at what would happen when Stella recovered her memories (if she recovered them) and who or what kidnapped the girls. Alexandra Sirowy does a fantastic job at setting the mood. The nights were dark and creepy, Stella’s thoughts and memories were sporadic and abrupt, the forest was looming and terrifying and the cast of characters were unforgettable. I could have done without some of the Sam/Stella romance, but it was realistic. Stella is in high school, trying to solve Jeanie’s disappearance, yes, but also navigating popularity, friends and boys. One doesn’t stop because the other starts. So Sam and Stella were believeable, if not my favourite parts. Zoey was not my idea of a best friend. I can see why Stella stuck with her, loved her and would do anything for her, but oh man was she bossy, rude and a bit self-absorbed. You basically have to trust Stella that she’s a good person.

4 heart
I was definitely surprised by the end of The Creeping. Even with everything seemingly wrapped up and explained, there is that small little tidbit left behind that makes you wonder: was it really? Could there be more to this? I was hooked from the beginning, and engaged until the end. I don’t suggest reading this one while you’re home alone in the dark, especially if you don’t like horror, but outside on a deck in the bright sunshine withpeople around? Go for it! If you like, horror? You’ll like this one.

ARC received from Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!

Review: Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano

Perfect Ruin Perfect Ruin
by Lauren DeStefano

ISBN-13: 9-781442-480612
Publication: October 2013 from Simon & Schuster BYR
Source: publisher
Rating: 4 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it!
Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

On Internment, the floating island in the clouds where 16-year-old Morgan Stockhour lives, getting too close to the edge can lead to madness. Even though Morgan’s older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. She tries her best not to mind that her life is orderly and boring, and if she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in best friend Pen and her betrothed, Basil.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially when she meets Judas. He is the boy being blamed for the murder — betrothed to the victim — but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find — or who she will lose.


Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano is fantastic! The idea of a city that floats in the sky, on an island, not connected to anything or aware of the world below them? Crazy but wonderful. I highly enjoyed the mythology behind the city of Internment, and Morgan is a compelling main character.

Despite the method of their relationship, I enjoyed that Morgan and Basil are a stable couple, and Pen is an intense best friend. When the murders begin, the mystery surrounding the deaths, Judas and what can be found on the ground, below Internment, heats up. Morgan is swept up in events that are quite beyond her control. Morgan’s family has been through the wringer, and Pen has her own history that needs exploring. Lauren DeStefano does an awesome job in upping the suspense has Morgan gets deeper and deeper into the secrets of Internment, and in creating some interesting characters. The prince and princess of Internment are sufficiently creepy!

4 heart

Perfect Ruin manages to capture and maintain the reader’s interest through pretty great story-telling. I’m invested in these characters and want to know more about their backstories (Pen, I’m looking at you) and also what will happen next. I’m anxious for the sequel to find out what will become of Morgan and the rest of our cast of fugitives. There is so much potential for world building and character growth – I hope book 2 lives up to book 1!

ARC provided by Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!

Review: The Beautiful and the Damned by Jessica Verday [guest review]

Beautiful and the Damned The Beautiful and the Damned
by Jessica Verday

ISBN-13: 9-781442-488359
Publication: October 2013 from SimonPulse
Series: companion to The Hollow trilogy
Source: Publisher
Rating: 3.5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I liked it
Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Cyn’s blackouts have deadly consequences in this sexy, suspenseful spinoff to the New York Times bestselling Hollow series. Cyn and Avian are far from a perfect match. She’s a witch who casts spells on men so she can steal their cars. He spends his time being judge, jury, and executioner to the truly evil in the supernatural realm.

When the blackouts Cyn’s been having ever since her time in Sleepy Hollow start escalating, she finds herself unable to remember where she’s been or what she’s been doing. Frightened, she seeks guidance at a local church, and it’s there she meets Avian.

The unlikely pair soon discovers that her blackouts are a side effect of what she truly is — an Echo — a conduit for souls of the dead. The only way to prevent Cyn from losing complete control is to return to Sleepy Hollow and vanquish the source of her power — but she may not survive the process. And if she does? She won’t ever be the same…


The Beautiful and the Damned by Jessica Verday is a novel steeped in suspence and the macabre.

This being a companion novel to The Hollow trilogy I would highly recommend going back and re-acquainting yourself with Abbey’s life in Sleepy Hollow. This story deserves to be read without that annoying feeling of not quite remembering what a revenant actually is, or the first time we were introduced to Cyn, our main character.

Although I found this story to be much more intense and quite a bit darker than The Hollow trilogy, Jessica Verday still allowed me to live alongside Cyn and Avian and hope for the best for these characters. Cyn believed she was doing all these awful things, but doesn’t remember them. She’s a good person who doesn’t want to be doing harm, but she blacks out and doesn’t remember. Avian, caught between heaven and hell, does his own thing. He fights for what’s right, and though he is really old, is very appealing. There is a small hint of a romance between Cyn and Avian, though both won’t admit to it. It just makes you want everything to go right, since they’ve had such bad things happen.

3.5 heart

I’m hoping there are more books to follow The Beautiful and the Damned because I feel as if Jessica Verday has just scratched the surface of this story and has left me needing to know more. The whole book builds up to who these characters are, and you get up to really knowing them and then it ends. Is it going to continue with a romance or more information about Cyn and Avian and what their roles are? A sequel is definitely wanted!

ARC provided by Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

A big thank you to my guest reviewer, Kathleen! Be on the lookout for more reviews from her (as long as I can convince her to do them!)

Review: Linked by Imogen Howson

Linked Linked by Imogen Howson

ISBN-13: 9-781442-446564
Publication: June 2013 from Simon & Schuster BYR
Source: publisher
Rating: 4 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it
Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Elissa used to have it all. But for the last three years she’s been struggling with terrifying visions, phantom pains, and mysterious bruises that appear out of nowhere. Finally, she’s promised a cure: minor surgery to burn out the overactive area of her brain. But on the eve of the procedure, she discovers the shocking truth behind her hallucinations: She’s been seeing the world through another girl’s eyes. Elissa follows her visions, and finds a battered, broken girl on the run. A girl – Lin – who looks exactly like Elissa, down to the matching bruises. The twin sister she never knew existed.

Now Elissa and Lin are on the run from a government who will stop at nothing to reclaim Lin and protect the dangerous secrets she could expose. With nowhere left to hide, Elissa is forced to take a drastic step to get Lin to safety – but it could take away her home forever. Lin is too valuable to let go, and Elissa has knowledge too dangerous to let her keep. And the government will stop at nothing to get them back.


Linked by Imogen Howson is a debut sci-fi novel that takes place not just in the future, but on another planet – and I was hooked from the beginning. Elissa is having very creepy and dangerous visions that actually result in physical harm. From the start, I had ideas that the doctor Lissa sees to try and get answers knows more than he’s letting on. As must her parents.

When Elissa finally realizes what her visions mean, and meets her twin Lin, the action really takes off. There are some very suspenseful scenes running from cops (all while letting the reader explore a very nifty new planet and technology) and some moments where I thought that was it for them. But Elissa’s dad gives some surprise help, as does Caden – Elissa’s brother’s best friend (her brother, by the way, seemed to be a very throw-away character. We hardly see him at all, and it feels like he was there so Caden wouldn’t have to be a stranger to Elissa, but someone she already knows and can hopefully trust). The pace of the story unfolds at a good rate with some crazy fight scenes, space travel and surprising reveals. I felt the main characters of Elissa and Lin were very well developed to the point that I was often frustrated with their decisions, proud of their choices, scared for them and excited for them throughout the course of the novel. With Caden, we get a fairly good sense of who he is but what we see of him is through Elissa’s perception and so his personality fluctuates a bit depending on her feelings for him at the time (it is easy to see that he is level headed and dependable in an emergency though!). The idea behind Elissa’s visions and connection to her twin Lin is really neat and quite unique. I definitely wasn’t expecting some of the reveals in the end.

4 heart

I was definitely swept up in Linked by Imogen Howson, from the action to the mystery of Elissa and Lin, to the sci-fi aspects of the novel and the small beginning romance between Elissa and Caden. The end was left wide open for the sequel, of which I’m ridiculously happy because despite being engrossed in the story I definitely had some questions about how the link between Elissa and Lin (and all twins, apparently) works and their mysterious power, as well as some confusion about the final explanation/solution/twist/reveal at the end that I’m dying to discuss but don’t want to spoil for you! Final verdict? Solid read (even with leaving me with questions) from a promising debut author – I’m excited to read more in Elissa and Lin’s universe.

ARC received from Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!

Review: Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz

by Hannah Moskowitz

ISBN-13: 9-781442-465329
Publication: January 2013 from Simon Pulse
Rating: 5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I loved it!
Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Rudy’s life is flipped upside down when his family moves to a remote island in a last attempt to save his sick younger brother. With nothing to do but worry, Rudy sinks deeper and deeper into loneliness, and he lies awake at night listening to the screams of the ocean beneath his family’s rickety house.

The he meets Diana, who makes him wonder what he even knows about love, and Teeth, who makes him question what he knows about anything. Rudy can’t remember the last time he felt so connected to someone, but being friends with Teeth is more than a little bit complicated. He soon learns that Teeth has terrible secrets. Violent secrets. Secrets that will force Rudy to choose between his own happiness and his brother’s life.

When it comes to Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz, I have really only three words: Magic. Gay. Fish.

I think by this point I’m a Hannah fan for life. I loved the previous two books I’ve read from her and this one was no exception to that love. I will say that this book will most likely not be for everyone, but if you’ve read and liked any of Hannah Moskowitz’s other books or think the synopsis sounds great, then definitely pick it up. Not only is Hannah’s writing amazing, but the characters and plot are wonderful. And guys, when I say the writing is amazing I mean it. The way words and sentences are strung together and flow is beautiful, and you can easily feel the desperation, loneliness, love, friendship and fear that is present in the story. The writing easily lets the characters come alive.

Rudy’s family has moved to a remote island in order to save his sick brother. Why? Because this island is home to a species of fish that has magic properties and can cure any sickness. Rudy hears screams at night that he’s told is just the ocean – but he meets Teeth and realizes that he was hearing screams all along. Rudy jumps off the pages. He’s so smart, loving and caring, both selfless and selfish at the same time, and though he makes lots of good choices he makes some bad ones too. And Teeth – half boy, half fish, Teeth is endearing. He tries so hard to protect the fish from being eaten and likes to pretend things are fine when in reality the fisherman catch him every night and do reprehensible things to him. Honestly, throughout the book I just wanted to give him a hug. He desperately just needs a hug. He’s so innocent but world-weary.

There’s a lot of emotion and depth to this story, with questions of what you would give up or do to keep a loved one safe and what happens when it comes down to family or friends. There are tough situations involving rape, and when to know what’s Right or wrong. Teeth has had such a difficult and undeserved life – it’s heartbreaking. The relationships here are all so different as well. It’s interesting to see and explore the dynamics of them. Teeth is an engrossing read and the ending of the book comes quickly and is so resigned and sad. There is a moment that is so abrupt it’s jarring, but fits the situation.

Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz is an impressive, heartbreaking, page-gripping, emotional book. It’s almost hard to place it in a specific genre. I would go with magical contemporary. It is such a showcase of intense important issues twisted with a merman element in Teeth. You will cry with and for these characters and if you’re looking for a perfect happy ending, it’s not to be found. It’s difficult to explain how Teeth reaches out and pulls you in. So many feels to be had in one book and I loved it.

ARC received from Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!

Review: Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger

Keeper of the Lost Cities
by Shannon Messenger

ISBN-13: 9-781442-445932
Publication: October 2012 from Aladdin
Rating: 4 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it!
Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Twelve-year-old Sophie Foster has a secret. She’s a Telepath – someone who hears the thoughts of everyone around her. Everything changes the day she meets Fitz, a mysterious boy who appears out of nowhere and also reads minds. She discovers there’s somewhere she does belong, and that staying with her family will put her in grave danger. In the blink of an eye, Sophie is forced to lave behind everything and start a new life.

Not everyone is thrilled that she has come “home.” There are secrets buried deep in Sophie’s memory – secrets about who she really is and why she was hidden among humans – that other people desperately want. Would even kill for.

Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger is one of those middle grade novels that I can see being well-loved. Much more of a straight-up fantasy than the synopsis led me to expect, I highly enjoyed the mythology, setting and characters in this nail-biting mystery.

Sophie is basically a genius. Only thirteen, she’s almost finished high school – and can read minds. After meeting a mysterious boy on a class trip to a museum, Sophie finds herself part of a whole new world, with new friends, foster family and a brand-new school. The bulk of the story takes place in another world, hidden from our own “real” world, where there are majestic cities like, oh, Atlantis. Yupp, Atlantis. And there are elves. Think Lord of the Rings type elves – it’s pretty neat. Sophie gets to attend a school where she takes such subjects as Alchemy, the Universe, gym (of course) and tutoring on how to control and use her mind-reading skills. While I really liked Sophie – she’s smart, curious, kind, loving, a little naive and reckless at times (but what tween isn’t?) – as the book continues it seems as though she is almost treading on all-powerful territory. Now there is a bunch of mysterious backstory surrounding Sophie that she and the other main characters are trying to figure out, so I’m thinking that subsequent books will explain her powers. I’m interested to see where it all leads.

The mystery of Sophie, these crazy fires in the human world, and some incidences in the hidden world is well spread out through the story with lots of interesting hints and dropped information. And no one is spared from the questions – I was wary of all adult characters and most of the teens throughout the whole book, trusting no one. Even finished, I still don’t trust half of them! There seem to be two different secret groups that have interests in Sophie, and any character could belong to one group or the other. While I think there are a few I am definitely safe to trust, others are still on the suspect list (at least for the reader, if not Sophie), and I can’t wait to find out if I’m right or wrong in guessing loyalties. The mystery behind Sophie being hidden in the “real” world and her past is the driving force behind Keeper of the Lost Cities. There are some interesting action scenes, but most of the story is low-key and focuses on Sophie at school learning about her new home, powers, friends/family and trying to figure everything out.

I enjoyed reading Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger and will definitely be picking up the sequel. I was a little disappointed in the climactic kidnapping scene (in which Sophie is mostly unconscious and conveniently rescued after days) but felt it fit with the over-all tone of the story, and Sophie does get to kick some butt running around France. I think Sophie as a character and all the questions surrounding her will endear the book to many (it did to me!), and the friendship-with-possibilities-for-more relationships between Sophie and new pals Dex and Fitz is very well done – perfect for the book and targeted audience age. With some great descriptions of new worlds, fantastical creatures and magic, Keeper of the Lost Cities is a story that keeps you reading and is over too quickly – I would have been all too happy to keep reading about Sophie.

ARC received at Book Expo America through author signing.