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review 2017-12-17 14:15
ARC Review: Amid the Winter Snow by Grace Draven, Thea Harrison, Elizabeth Hunter, Jeffe Kennedy
Amid the Winter Snow: A Holiday Anthology - Grace Draven,Jeffe Kennedy,Thea Harrison,Elizabeth Hunter
Amid the Winter Snow

Grace Draven, Thea Harrison, Elizabeth Hunter, Jeffe Kennedy
Paranormal Romance - Science Fiction - Anthologies
Brightlynx Publishing
December 12th 2017
eBook
454
ARC Review Copy

 

As the snows fall and hearths burn, four stories of Midwinter beginnings prove that love can fight its way through the chillest night...

 

THE DARKEST MIDNIGHT, by Grace Draven
The mark Jahna Ulfrida was born with has made her a target of the cruel and idle all her life. During the long, crowded festivities of Deyalda, there’s nowhere to escape. Until a handsome stranger promises to teach her to save herself…

 

THE CHOSEN, by Thea Harrison
In her visions, Lily sees two men fighting for her tiny country’s allegiance: the wolf and the tiger, each deadly, each cunning. One will bring Ys chaos and death, one a gentler path—but she’s destined to love whichever she chooses. The midwinter Masque is upon them, and the wolf is at her door…

 

THE STORM, by Elizabeth Hunter
When her soul mate died in a massacre of the half-angelic Irin people, Renata thought she’d never feel happiness again. She’s retreated to the snowy Dolomites to remember her hurts—until determined, irrepressible Maxim arrives to insist on joy, too. And before she can throw him out, they discover a secret the Irin have to know…

 

THE SNOWS OF WINDROVEN, by Jeffe Kennedy
As a blizzard threatens their mountain keep, the new Queen Amelia of the Twelve Kingdoms and her unofficial consort Ash face their own storm. Ash knows a scarred, jumpy ex-convict isn’t the companion his queen needs. But when a surprise attack confines them together in their isolated sanctuary, the feast of midwinter might tempt even Ash into childlike hope…

 

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Overall Rating of Amid the Winter Snow: 4 Stars

 

Amid the Winter Snow features four novellas that where charming, delightful, and engaging to read. Thea Harrison is the only author in this anthology I’m familiar with, so the other three were new to me. I was drawn into the stories and taken for a whirlwind ride of heartache, conflict, healing, and love. Each novella is distinct, special, and focuses around a winter holiday. Out of all the novellas featured the only one I didn’t care for was The Snows of Windroven by Jeffe Kennedy.

 

Below you will find my individual reviews for each novella in this anthology.

 

The Darkest Midnight by Grace Draven – 5 Stars

 

I very much loved The Darkest Midnight. I couldn’t put the story down and devoured from begging to end.

 

When we first meet Jahna she is only fifteen and being tormented by a group of girls. The Delyalda celebration is never a fun time for her; because of this. As the years move on we see her learn swordsman ship along side her brother as well as becoming an accomplished scholar by writing down all the stories she is told. At the begging we also meet Radimar he is seven years older then Jahna and to be her brothers sword master teacher for four years. We see how their relationship develops over the years. How the romance blossoms between them. It’s sad and sweet.

 

I liked how the author made the time move on and how the characters change and grow throughout years. It was also very sweet how Radimar helped coax Jahna to be more confident and have courage.

 

The Darkest Midnight was a remarkable, sweet, and captivating read.

 

*****

 

The Chosen by Thea Harrison – 4 Stars

 

I very much enjoy the Elder Race series and this novella was no exception.

 

Lily can see things and she’s been having dreams about two men battling. Now that Wulf has arrived on her doorstep she must choose sides. One will lead to happiness, while the other will lead to despair.

 

Wolf is a bad and good man wrapped up in one. He’s formidable and honorable too. Lily is the Chosen and leader of her people. I liked Lily and Wolf. Both knew the hardship of being leaders for their people and living with chooses that may not always turn out. Their chemistry together was wonderful, these two complemented each other, and their romance was enchanting.

 

The Chosen is a magical story full of confrontation and desire.

 

*****

 

The Storm by Elizabeth Hunter – 4.5 Stars

 

I was a bit unsure going into The Storm, but the more I read the more interesting the novella became and now I’m curious about reading the series this one takes place in the Iron Chronicles.

 

Renata & Maxim from what I got are side characters in the series or so it seams to me. Since I haven’t read the series I’m not positive. A lot happens; before these two meet and after they meet as well. Their courtship spans over 18-years.

 

The author showcase Renata and Maxim throughout the years. We get some of their backstory as well as little parts of information on what happens in the Iron Chronicles series too. I cried in a few parts throughout this novella. It’s hard to move on when your lose is so big, but Maxim never gives up on Renata and their love is captivating.

 

The Storm gives us loss, heartache, healing, love, and learning to let go and move on. It keeps up with the series it’s part of, but also stands very much on it’s own.

 

*****

 

The Snows of Windroven by Jeffe Kennedy – 2.5 Stars

 

This one was my least favorite. Why? Well we’re coming into the middle of this couples relationship or whatever it is between them. The backstory is lacking and from what I’ve discovered this novella is part of The Twelve Kingdoms series. Ami has her own story, The Tears of the Rose.

 

Ami is Queen and also an Avatar for a Goddess. She’s also got two young children from a previous marriage, not sure on how that relationship was, but we know her husband is dead. Ash is a low born, a half-blooded something, and was thrown in prison as a child for who knows what. Their relationship is push and pull. He knows deep down that he will have to let her go, even though he loves her and she loves him, but he keeps pulling away. It’s so back and forth. Also their is mention of a waking dragon at Castle Windroven, but that storyline/plot isn’t completed.

 

It feels like the reader is missing a lot if they haven’t read at least Ami’s book. The Snows of Windroven doesn’t feel like it can stand on it’s own. It needs the series to put things fully into view.

 

Was this review helpful? If so, please consider liking it on Goodreads (Angela)!

 

 

Challenge(s): New To Me (Authors) | Pick Your Genre (PNR) | New Releases (2017)

 

 

 

 

I was born and raised in Northern Indiana. I’m an outdoor sun loving reader living near San Fransisco. I’m a mother, wife, dog owner, animal, and book lover. I’m the owner, reviewer, and mind behind Angel’s Guilty Pleasures. My favorite animals are horses & dogs. As for reading I love all things paranormal & urban fantasy. My favorite shifters are dragons!

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Source: angelsguiltypleasures.com/2017/12/arc-review-amid-the-winter-snow-by-grace-draven-thea-harrison-elizabeth-hunter-jeffe-kennedy
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review 2017-12-17 07:57
Ask The Passengers by A.S. King
Ask the Passengers - A.S. King

Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother's pushiness and her father's lack of interest tell her they're the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn't know the passengers inside, but they're the only people who won't judge her when she asks them her most personal questions...like what it means that she's falling in love with a girl. As her secret relationship becomes more intense and her friends demand answers, Astrid has nowhere left to turn. She can't share the truth with anyone except the people she imagines flying over her at thirty thousand feet, and they don't even know she's there. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection will affect these strangers' lives--and her own--for the better.

Amazon.com

 

 

 

Teenager Astrid Jones is in quite an emotional pickle right at this moment in her life. The family had to be all uprooted and relocated to small town New England because Astrid's mother is struggling with some sort of intense depression that affects her ability to work in a traditional workplace setting -- social anxiety? depression? agorophobia? a specific trauma that broke her? To be honest, the mother's situation is not explained in very much depth so I'm not entirely sure, but it's definitely put a strain on the family as a whole.

 

Then there's stoner dad constantly getting baked when nobody's looking but then acting like that's totally not what he's doing... only Astrid's mother seems to accept the act. 

 

Astrid herself is struggling in the normal "who am I and what are all these emotions all of a sudden?" teenage sense but between these two parents who can she turn to? She's muddling through a period of confused sexuality as she navigates her first relationship with a female co-worker but a solid, non-judgmental support system seems to be quite the unicorn in small-town, gossip-y UNITY (seriously, that's the name of the town here, of all things! lol), Pennsylvania. 

 

As a way to cope and to channel her inner pain and confusion into something good, she develops a two part system. Her days are spent studying philosophy (even creating a sort of imaginary friend out of Socrates, naming him "Frank" and imagining him next to her during her toughest moments), then spends evenings laying in the backyard waiting for planes to fly over her house. Once she spots one, she sends loving thoughts or questions up to the passengers, not expecting a response of course... but every so often she swears she can feel something bounce back. It's then that the story cuts to a passenger on one of these flights. The perspective switches from Astrid's first person voice to that of the passenger and we see the thin filament of thought that links them to Astrid.

 

When joining these stories, King uses just the lightest touch of magical realism. Their stories, whether it's through their inner thoughts or conversations with others, hint at the possibility that maybe Astrid's kind thoughts and questions are, in fact, somehow subconsciously reaching them and affecting their lives in the most subtle of ways, influencing their personal narratives. 

 

It seems impossible these days to be a Booktuber and not hear the name A.S. King come up at least once in awhile and I feel like this one got especially hyped when it first came out. Finally trying out King's work for myself, I did end up enjoying this story but at the same time was a little underwhelmed. The plot itself had a slow start for me but it did pick up as I progressed, but the writing was a little on the bland side. Or maybe it was the plot that was not edgy enough but something about this book felt like there was an opportunity to really take these themes somewhere big but in the end we just stay in the safe zone. 

 

That said, I did enjoy the characters (I just wasn't gut-wrenchingly invested in them) and I applaud King for the themes that were addressed here -- the concept of turning pain into thoughts of love for others, the ridiculousness of homophobia and the damage it causes when people have to keep the truth of their soul locked up to feel safe in this world, the pain of experiencing friends who will throw you under the bus, as the saying goes, to keep their own secrets safe from seeing the light of day. I even liked how the interludes of the passenger stories illustrate the idea that we're all maybe just a little more connected to each other than we realize. All super important topics to incorporate into a novel, I just wish they would've been delved into even more. 

 

* For those who wish to use this book as a book club pick, a reading discussion guide is included in the back of the book. 

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review 2017-12-16 20:13
Quick Holiday Read
Make My Wish Come True A Christmas Romance - Jade Cooper

Make My Wish Come True by Jade Cooper is a short Christmas story.  Ms. Cooper has given us a well-written book.  Quinn and Olivia's story is more sex than story.  It's a fun, steamy, quick holiday read.

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review 2017-12-16 19:05
Review: "Draakenwood" (Whyborne & Griffin, #9) by Jordan L. Hawk
Draakenwood (Whyborne & Griffin Book 9) - Jordan L. Hawk

 

~ 4.5 stars ~

 

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text 2017-12-16 07:05
Cover Reveal - Pretty As A Peach

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