Spellbreaker by Charlie N. Holmberg (2020)
Elsie Camden lives in a Victorian England where people must pay to use magic and cast spells, but the ability to break spells is a gift only some are born with. Elsie is a spellbreaker, but as she is unregistered, technically the work she does is illegal. One day she is caught by a magic user, and she strikes a deal with the mysterious (and handsome) stranger. I always enjoy Holmberg's stories; she creates unique and interesting magical systems that merge well with their settings. The magical system in this book really highlights the class differences of the Victorian era. I liked Elsie's character; she believes she's using her spellbreaking abilities to help the common people. The plot was a mix of a historical fantasy and a cozy mystery. There were some unexpected twists and turns that took the story in some interesting directions, and it sets up the second book of the duology nicely. 4 stars
Layla by Colleen Hoover (2020)
This is not going to be an easy review to write; I've been ruminating on my feelings for a couple days and I still don't have a firm grip on how I feel about this book! For Leeds and Layla, it's love at first sight, until an attack leaves Layla with a traumatic brain injury. To help her recover, Leeds takes her back to the B&B where they first met, but while working on their relationship, Leeds meets Willow, and he's torn between the two women. I think it's common knowledge by this point that this book is a paranormal romance, but I don't want to say too much more than that because it really is better to go in as blind as possible. Hoover's writing is great, as always, but I couldn't help but really dislike Leeds; he makes so many questionable choices! The story definitely held some surprises, too - each time I thought I knew what was going on, Hoover threw a wrench into it. But - I can't decide if this book was totally brilliant or totally cheesy! I do feel like the ending came on really fast and would have liked a little more closure. 3.5 stars
The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett (2020)
In the 1930s, a young woman searches for her adventurer/historian father, with the help of her former beau, after he disappears while searching for a mystical ring that formally belonged to Vlad the Impaler, aka Dracula. This book is basically the YA/lite version of The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, and since that's one of my favorite books, I was both excited and nervous to read this story. The Lady Rogue is a quick-moving historical fantasy, as Theodora and Huck search Romania for her father and dive into the history of the region. It had a lot of spunk and humor, which made the sometimes dark topics more palatable. Although I understood the unresolved feelings Theo and Huck had for each other, I thought the story relied too much on their romance. It just felt unnecessary in a story that was so heavily focused on danger and adventure. Not every YA book has to have romance! Can we focus instead on how intelligent Theo is? The ending was super rushed, but maybe we'll get to see these characters on another adventure! 3.5 stars
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Spellbreaker sounds great! I'm curious about the magical system and that mysterious (and handsome) stranger 😏ReplyDelete
I didn't actually knew Layla is a paranormal romance. I guess I just don't connect CoHo with paranormal but I am intrigued!
A mystical ring that formally belonged to Vlad the Impaler?! I would read this book just for that. Too bad that the ending was rushed. I don't like that either.
Yes, I think this was something new for CoHo!Delete
The Lady Rogue was a really fun historical read!
That is the only Bennett book I have not read (not a contemporary), but I don't think I would object to the romance. I love romance always.ReplyDelete
That I do know!Delete
Spellbreaker is definitely on my list! I was kind of on the fence about Layla - i really liked the beginning and end by the middle fell flat. I do love CoHo though and it was fun seeing her branch out. I really loved The Lady Rogue - it did seem to set itself up for a sequel so hopefully we will meet these characters again!ReplyDelete
I tend to enjoy when writers try something new!Delete
The Jenn Bennett one sounds kind of interesting! I love the 1930'sReplyDelete
Yes, such a fun time period!Delete
I have honestly never read a Colleen Hoover book that I loved and this is one I've been on the fence about trying. It makes me nervous that you think it might've been cheesy. XD Spellbreaker sounds great!ReplyDelete
I think you might enjoy the paranormal aspects, though!Delete
Spellbreaker looks good. I liked Layla, thought it was so different from a lot of Hoover's other books. I think The Lady Rogue is on my TBR as well. Thanks for sharing these!ReplyDelete
Lisa Loves Literature
Thanks for stopping by, Lisa!Delete
I enjoyed The Lady Rogue but agree about the ending feeling rushed.ReplyDelete
Yeah, it kind of came out of nowhere!Delete
I totally agree with you about romance in YA. I do love a great romance, but sometimes it just seems plunked in. ;)ReplyDelete