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Pub Date: 12-1-20
Adult - Historical Fiction

The Arctic Fury- Greer Macallister: It's 1853, and there are not many ways for a woman to make her way in the world, but Virginia Reeve has made a name for herself by being a trail guide in California. Her expertise has caught the eye of a mysterious benefactor who has her brought out to Boston for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: lead an all-female crew into the depths of the Arctic in search of the lost Franklin Expedition. Virginia and her team each bring something vital to the dangerous mission, but soon find themselves completely out of their depths when faced with the bracing wilderness, and as time passes it becomes clear that not everyone will make it out alive. Virginia uses every trick in her arsenal to keep herself and her crew alive, but her good intentions fall upon deaf ears as she's put to trial a year and a half later for the lives of the women who never made it back. No one knows what happened out on that ice, and when dark secrets from Virginia's past come to light, any hope she had of going free starts to slip away.

This is a dual timeline story chronicling this group of women as they make their way through the harsh Arctic terrain, and then the sensationalized trial of the crew's leader when not all the women come back alive. The premise sounded like it was going to be this whirlwind adventure/mystery story, and while it had those elements, I couldn't help but feel a little bored at times. The parts showcasing the women's journey were very atmospheric and you could feel how bleak it was as any hope of them surviving just dwindled with each step. It also seemed very true to the time in regards to how women were treated which lead to a lot of frustrating moments especially when it came to the trial. I think it was an interesting reimagining of events, and there were a few twists thrown in that I appreciated, but overall, it just didn't grip me as much as I was hoping for.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 5-23-19
Adult - Fantasy/Romance

A Touch of Darkness- Scarlett St. Clair: Persephone may be the Goddess of Spring, but ever since she was young her powers have been lacking. Instead of being able to nurture things into growing like her mother, Demeter, flowers and plants shrivel from Persephone's touch. Frustrated by this, she instead focuses her time in New Athens, blending in amongst the mortals posing as a journalist. But all hope of living an unassuming life is dashed after Persephone unknowingly enters into a bargain with the God of the Dead, Hades. Persephone is given an impossible task: she has six months to create life in the Underworld or lose her freedom forever.

I didn't have a whole lot of expectations going into this, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I flew through this in almost one sitting because it was just so addicting. That being said, this wasn't without its fair share of issues. The writing itself is pretty simple, and nothing about the characters or world was that mind-blowing. Character-wise, I enjoyed Hades a lot, but Persephone took me a while to warm up to because she could be so annoying with how judgmental she was towards him. My favorite character was Hecate and I hope that we get more of her throughout the rest of the series. I also loved the Underworld setting and how different it actually was compared to what people thought of it. Another issue I had was that I felt the story heavily relied on the physical aspect of Persephone and Hades' relationship, which I mean, I get it, but at times it felt all steam and no substance. I would've just loved to see more emotional development and vulnerability. Aside from that, this was still highly entertaining and I'm interested to see where else the series goes.

Rating: 3.5/5

Pub Date: 7-23-19
Adult - Fantasy

Gods of Jade and Shadow-Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Casiopea Tun has always looked up to the stars and wished for more. She longs for adventure and a life outside the small Mexican village she lives in spending her days scrubbing the floor of her wealthy grandfather's home. Her prayers are answered when she finds a wooden box with strange carvings in her grandfather's room. Throwing caution to the wind, Casiopea opens the box and unleashes the spirit of an ancient Mayan god. After being betrayed by his brother, Hun-Kame will do anything to take back his throne and he requires Casiopea's help to do it. With their future's now entwined, Casiopea and Hun-Kame are set on a quest to reclaim what was stolen. If they succeed, Casiopea is set to receive her heart's desires, however, if they fail, it could mean the end of her life.

I've heard a lot of hype around this book and it's well deserved. I find Moreno-Garcia's writing to be a bit of a slow burn, and it takes a while for me to get into it, but I fell into this one rather quickly. A lot of that had to do with the characters themselves. Casiopea is so willful and Hum-Kame is so stoic, and while they tended to butt heads in the beginning, by the end, they developed this bond that was so strong and satisfying. I liked watching them open up and start to trust one another. Aside from the characters, the plot itself was so adventurous. Watching the pair go on this journey that took them all over and put them up against demons and other gods was fun and I never found myself bored at any point. It was well-paced and easy to read. I also liked how while there was a slight romantic aspect, it didn't overwhelm the story and didn't end in your typical fairy tale way. All in all, it was a charming take on Mexican folklore full of action and highly entertaining.

Rating: 4/5


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