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  • Writer's pictureGrace A. Johnson

March Mini Reviews (Part 1)

Well...this mini reviews post is sooo long that I've divided it into two parts. The next part will come sometime before the end of the month (I make no promises).

Y'all can click on the covers to view the book on Goodreads!

The Girl Who Could See – Kara Swanson

If there’s one thing I’ve heard, it’s that Kara Swanson is a fantabulous author. All of the amazing reviews and recommendations of Dust have piqued my curiosity in Swanson’s stories, so naturally I started out small: her free short story. Seaglass didn’t exactly capture my attention or really say much about her talent, but it wasn’t so bad that I was deterred from ever reading anything of hers.

So, when I started my three free months of KU, Swanson was on the top of my list. Now, Dust is not available on KU, so I had to settle with The Girl Who Could See.

And I use the term “settle” loosely, because this story was amazing!

After reading Sara Ella’s books, I’ve developed a hankering for clean YA fantasy romance. My hunger had gone unsatisfied for nearly a year (mostly because I don’t have to heart to spend money on something I’m not sure I’ll enjoy; I am more historically inclined, after all) before I finally picked this novella up.

Guys, everything’s there, just as it should be. The writing—with that modern slant that’s so relatable and sarcastic, but not as cookie-cutter as most. The story—that’s fast-paced and unique, sucking you in from Page 1. The heroine—who’s mature but still acts her age and is just altogether so lovable. The HERO—who is all hot and macho yet so, SO sweet and caring. (I mean, he’s no Ky Rhyen, but he beats nothing.)

I really did enjoy reading this novella. I loved Fern and Tristan—their relationship was so cute, but they were also strong characters separately, which is oftentimes hard to find in characters these days. I loved the story, the plot, the concept, the secondary characters—all of it! And, assuming I ever turn a profit off of these books I’m trying to write, I will definitely be reading more from Kara Swanson in the future!

(Side note: is that not the most amazingest cover EVER?)


Era of Shadows – Daisy Torres

Wow. I don’t know where to begin. Daisy Torres has certainly surprised me with her debut novel! As a fellow teen writer, I’ve had the opportunity recently to read the story she’s currently working on, and just a taste of her writing has revealed that she is chock full of talent at such a young age.

When I found out that she actually wrote and published a novel a couple years ago, I jumped at the chance to read it! I’m not an Alice in Wonderland fan by any stretch of the imagination—I’ve watched the Tim Burton film, but was never drawn into the story, and I’ve obviously never read the book.

So maybe I come into Era of Shadows with less bias, but that doesn’t change how engaging this story was! I loved how Wonderland came to life, even with my limited knowledge of it, and how Torres put her own touch on Carroll’s fantasy world!

The story was fast-paced and intriguing, rife with suspense and betrayal and turmoil—all that good stuff. Everything flowed so smoothly, and there were twists! Scratch that—unexpected twists!

But what I loved most of all? Torres’s flare for characters! Her ability to create such strong voices and lovable, relatable characters is astounding! The Queen of Hearts was so...alive and real, her voice so defined and unique. All of the secondary characters, particularly Alex, stood out. Within a few sentences and some dialogue, Torres established every character’s personality and voice, regardless of how large or small their role. (Side note: I am rooting for her current work-in-progress to be published one day, because woo-wee! are those characters fantastic!)

With such developed characters, especially the POV character, Torres’s prose was very smooth. Her descriptions are simply amazing—vivid and vibrant, different and interesting. However, there were several typos and grammar errors (particularly it’s being used instead of its), but some things can be excused in light of (1) a fantastic story, (2) a self-published book, and (3) a young author. I mean, who am I to judge?

Overall? Y’all, overall, Era of Shadows captured my attention from Page 1! Over and over again, I am shocked by how spectacular an author Daisy Torres is! You have got to read this book!


Meet My Boyfriend – Willowy Whisper

I’ve been raving about Willowy Whisper ever since I first read her short stories back in January/February. Her storytelling prowess is phenomenal!

I finally decided to take a crack at her longer works, and I happened to be in a contemporary mood one day (which does not come often, I’ll admit), so I download Meet My Boyfriend and settled in! Admittedly, this is a novella, and I read it in roughly twenty to thirty minutes, so I didn’t do too much settling!

Before we dive into the gushy part, I have to say that Willowy’s contemporary works are not as good as her historical ones. She just is a historical author, so this novella kind of lacked that modern aura I was expecting. For instance, “dame” was used in reference to a woman, and Levi mentions having Claire on his arm. Sweet, yes, but so 1920s! I kept imagining everyone in suits, puffing on cigars! They’re pretty subtle things, but as a historical author myself, I quickly picked up on them, and it jarred me out of the story (and, hence, dropped me into the 19th century).

Back to the good stuff!

Willowy’s writing is so good! Everything is perfectly balanced, perfectly paced, and can I just say that the suspense was pulled off PERFECTLY! She has truly mastered not only the balance of narrative—emotion, action, dialogue, and description—but also the art of suspense writing, which most long-time suspense authors have yet to do!

First, she established the characters and got the reader interested in their lives and personalities. Then she foreshadowed later events by slipping in a few seemingly inconsequential incidents and remarks. In the last third of the book, she dove headfirst into the action and suspense, but nothing was left feeling lifeless, one-dimensional, or undeveloped! This is the kind of technique all suspense authors need to apply, the technique romance authors like Roseanna M. White and Karen Witemeyer use to create such powerful, scintillating stories!

She gave me Levi Grant.

Cue the swooning.

I mean, what’s not to love about a cute introverted guy with one arm who feeds the homeless and acts like he’s pre-1960? Nothing. Levi might possibly be too perfect.

I mean, it took a bit for me to imagine a college campus in modern-day America. Claire wasn’t my favorite heroine ever (I only have, like, three of those, so…). And maybe some of the dialogue was unrealistic at times.

But, y’all, Willowy Whisper can pull. you. in. It’s amazing! Her talent is awe-inspiring. Even though Meet My Boyfriend didn’t have that contemporary feel I was looking for, it was still an awesome work of fiction and a sweet, inspirational story. I love how well-balanced and fast-paced her writing is, and I especially love how she can so seamlessly incorporate a bit of action and suspense!

I kept it short this time, guys! Whoop!

Have y'all read any of these books? If not, which one(s) would you like to?

Reviews of The Princess Companion by Melanie Cellier, A Groom for Gracie by Heather Blanton, Angel Gate by Willowy Whisper, and Bookishly Ever After by Sarah Monzon coming soon!

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