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Book Review: Seeking Snow Falls, by Jenn D. Young

I have had a copy of Jenn D. Young‘s Seeking Snow Falls since 2021. So, my memory of where exactly I got it is vague. However, the book was featured over at Sadie’s Spotlight. So, there is a good chance I received a copy as part of the tour material. seeking snow falls cover

It was supposed to be a fun getaway with my best friend, until I ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere Montana.

There I was, freezing to death, when three men came to my rescue and thawed the icicles around my heart.

There’s one little problem: they aren’t human.

When my own haunted past comes calling, they stand by my side and protect me.

But can I overcome my own demons and accept I have mates? Or will my own fears cripple me?

my review

I wanted very badly to like this book. I went into it with high hopes. They all crumbled pretty quickly, however. I don’t hate insta-lust/love on principle. Sometimes, it is done well, sometimes not. It would have been fine here if the book had enough other development to accompany it. But the lust/love is instant, and there is very little further development in the book, which made the insta-lust/love just one more underdevelopment. It’s the one more that is at issue here and is with most of my complaints.

Most of what I turned out not to like about this book I disliked because of the cluster it is part of, rather than a problem by itself. Here are some examples. Laney is constantly crying. I mean constantly! Everything makes her cry—happy, sad, scared, panicking, sympathy, empathy, acceptance, rejection, everything! I am not exaggerating when I say I think a count of crying-related words (tears, sobbing, crying, etc.) would average out to one per page—AT LEAST—if I were able to count them. I don’t mind crying, but by 55%, I was literally rolling my eyes and exclaiming out loud, “Oh My God, again!? ”

To go with the crying, there is a pretty thin line between an author writing a female character with some trauma and room for growth and flat-out infantilizing that character. This book went with infantilization. All of the descriptors of Laney are childlike. Visualize this character for me. There’s the crying. She curls up on the men’s chests with her fist curled under her chin. She sits up and sleepily rubs her eyes. She never laughs; she giggles. When they get in vehicles, the men always buckle her seat belt for her. They often put their chin on top of her head (because she is so much smaller) and kiss her forehead. She is constantly falling asleep or waking up. They put her to bed repeatedly and often even get her ready for bed (like one would a child at nap time). What does the character in your head look like, a 29-year-old woman or a child?

On a side note, female characters constantly being put to bed is also a pet peeve for me. Because it so often simply serves the purpose of putting the toy on the shelf when the men-folk are busy. It shows precisely how much of an object a female character is. Not in this scene? Put the toy away. From the reader’s perspective, she literally has no consciousness when not in the presence of the men.

And all of this childlikeness doesn’t even address her lack of adult decision-making abilities. She has panic attacks at the drop of a hat. She almost freezes to death in her car while parked in front of a heated building. How many people would freeze to death before breaking a window to crawl into the heat? A person can apologize and pay for the damages later. Or be rescued by the police, who show up when the alarm goes off. Either way, survival is literally 6 feet away, and she never even considers it because she does not have adult mental facilities.

Which makes the explicit sex scenes feel jarring. I’m not making any moral or prudish objection, not even to the child-likeness of the character juxtaposed with sex. It’s just that the sexplicit sex felt out of place when handed a child-like heroine. It felt like a plotting disconnect.

The book also needs more editing to catch all the wrong words. The mistakes aren’t even all homophones. Most are simply close but not quite right words—widely used when wildly is what is meant, for example.

The book is pretty formulaic. There is nothing new here. But people (myself included) read so many such books because we enjoy the formula. This means what I so disliked here was the content itself, and most of that is personal preference (or peeves) rather than outright quality seeking snow falls photoissues. Plus, it ends on a cliffhanger, which wouldn’t be an issue except that it is very clearly labeled as a standalone.

I did appreciate that Laney is a plus-sized character and that there was a pre-existing sexual relationship within the trio of mates that persisted even once Laney is introduced to the dynamic. And the cover is pretty. So, I think my last word is that this is probably great for the right reader. I’m just not that reader. I’m really not the right reader.

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Book Review: Alpha Queen Legacy series, by Laurel Night

I picked up Laurel Night‘s  Wolf Shunned, the first book in the Alpha Queen Legacy series, as an Amazon freebie. I then bought the omnibus of the series so that I could read Pack Claimed, Queen Crowned, and Legacy Fulfilled.

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It’s amazing to be a powerful wolf… if you’re male.

When you’re a nineteen year-old girl who can beat the crap out of every wolf in your pack, suddenly it’s not so great.

Love isn’t everything, I know; but even the most powerful she-wolf submits to her mate. If you can’t be beaten, you can’t be mated.

And an unmated wolf has no place in the pack.

My one hope is the clan gathering in the Blackwood Fortress. Every wolf in the continent attends, and a few seriously sexy wolves catch my eye. I’m bound to find at least one who can match me, right?

Then there’s my other problem: My pack leader is a grade-A jerk. After treating me like a genetic freak my whole life, he suddenly decides to stake a claim. But I can’t refuse the challenge, and my wolf won’t back down. Either I submit to the pack leader and become mated to his skeezy pelt, or I win the challenge and my freedom… by taking his place as pack leader.

Only no one has ever heard of a female pack leader, and if I become one, I’ll never find a mate.

my review

With a few exceptions (which I will address), I really enjoyed book one of this series. I finished it excited to continue the story. However, that excitement wained as the series draggggggggs. Time went on. Days went by, in fact, where I just couldn’t seem to find the end. This despite the plot events slowing down and getting repetitive. I started dreading having to pick the book back up. I honestly think the author could cut enough chaff to reduce the series by an entire book! I never quite got to the point of disliking it. But I sure did get awfully bored.

The writing is clean and easy to read though, and I liked the characters well enough (individually and together). I liked that the men became family among themselves, as well as with Kali. A significant chunk of the books is about them learning to give up their toxic machismo, follow a woman, and come to accept that having some softness doesn’t make them weak. I thought Night addressed some surprisingly heavy topics in intelligent ways throughout the series.

There is surprisingly little sex in the series. It’s not fade to black, but there are not many sex scenes, and none of them are particularly explicit. I definitely wouldn’t call them overly erotic. (All but one of them is a virgin. So, no one knows enough to really get down from the get-go, and no single male mate gets more than one sex scene.) So, those looking for a Why Choose on the “cleaner” side could read this fairly comfortably. (But those looking for a spicy read will likely be disappointed.)

In the beginning, my biggest complaint was the age of the characters. They are all 19, weeks from turning 20. (Something important happens at 20.) Nothing about any of the characters feels 19. Most of them are the leaders of their clan, some having been so for years. They are experienced, jaded, and authoritative in a way that feels at least 35, not 19. This is addressed in the narrative with wolves maturing faster, etc. But it still yanked me out of the narrative over and over again because they so very much do not feel the age they are meant to be. (Plus, maturing faster means things like mating and bearing children are shifted back several years to accommodate, too, and that’s just icky. Especially since the characters are appropriately uncomfortable with 15-year-olds having babies, which counters the whole ‘matures early’ narrative to accommodate modern Western ideals.)

My biggest complaint, however, is not a plot point, per se (though it sure feels like one). I’m not making any allegations against the author, but I do want to acknowledge that there is something seriously hinky going on with race in the books. We’re repeatedly told the heroine is unusual and stands out as more beautiful than anyone else because she is fair-skinned, blonde, and blue-eyed. We are explicitly told that most people are dark (haired, eyed, skinned). So we have a ‘not-a-drop’ blonde who is more beautiful, powerful, and dominant than anyone else, coming to save (and rule) all the muddle skin/hair/eyed people. Read that as not white, though that terminology is never actually used. Even the single explicitly coded black man is never referred to as such.

And if this was just a time or two, I might not say anything. But this happens over and over again. The heroine has five mates, so there are five opportunities to talk about someone seeing her for the first time, narrative descriptions of the societies in general—five different clans, actually—and just a plethora of chances to admire Kali’s looks (imagine Kali from the Game of Thrones show and you’ll be in the ballpark) and talk about people and their looks.

I picked the pattern up fairly early and couldn’t stop seeing it. But then it got worse. [This is a little bit of a spoiler.] The main characters are post-apocalyptic, genetically non-human werewolves. At some point, the group discovers that there are, in fact, still some true humans secretly alive. And, you guessed it, while they aren’t as striking as Kali, their limited genetic gene pool leaves them all fair and blond, and their circumstances have them miles above and beyond the primitive wolves technologically. The only true humans in the book are blond/white (and Christian, as it happens), while the non-humans are not. In fact, Kali even asks if there could have been some intermating between the humans and the wolves since she looks like the humans more than the wolves.

I don’t know that the author made purposeful racial associations here, but she did make them, and it is not even subtle. Frankly, I don’t know if internalizing such racial biases to the degree they slip through into your writing by accident is truly better than doing it on purpose. Lastly, before you consider coming for me to argue such explicit worship of the blond doesn’t necessarily mean white, read some Tressie McMillan Cottom, who writes about blonde as a signifier of race. Or here, have a TikTok primer that crossed my feed with truly miraculous timeliness as I formulated this review:


♬ original sound – The Group Behavior Gal

I also thought that the wolf/shifter aspect of the plot was underutilized. The wolves play very little part in the story. As a result, I kind of feel like the characters could have been genetically modified in ways that would make a lot more sense—just stronger, or heartier, or bigger humans, for example—without going all the way to able to shift into wolves and it would have been a stronger plot element.

All in all, I was super icked out by the race issue, but otherwise enjoyed book one and was apathetic about the last three. I didn’t hate them, but they didn’t light me on fire either.

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Other Reviews:

Wolf Shunned by Laurel Night – A Reread Review

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Book Review: Cruel Shifterverse (1-3), by Jasmine Mas

I picked up a copy of Jasmine MasCruel Shifterverse series (Psycho Shifters) as an Amazon freebie. I purchased Psycho Fae and Psycho Beasts.

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Fight like a girl…or a shifter of lore.

After growing up with nothing, I’ve finally found my path to freedom: I’m a shifter, an elite soldier who transforms into a monster.

All I have to do is survive.

I didn’t count on my three 6’5 roommates. Covered in tattoos, jeweled, and horned, these are like no men I’ve ever dealt with before.

They don’t think I belong.
They don’t think I’m strong enough for war.
They don’t think I can fight.

I’m about to prove them wrong.

The only problem, can I survive them discovering the secrets of my past? In the battle for life and death, everyone is so much more than they seem.

Jax, Ascher, and Cobra are going to be devastated when they discover my truth…just wait until they see my shifted form.

my review

I read all of these back to back, so I’ll just review them as one. All in all, I thought this series began well, but it went downhill quickly. The whole thing started out bonkers and over the top, and I enjoyed it. But then the author just built on that theme, making it more bonkers and more ridiculous. Eventually, the jokes no longer felt like jokes. It was all just too slapstick to enjoy. It felt very much like Mas just needed an editor or BFF or someone to pull her back from the edge and suggest a little moderation. Plus, the plot of book three is basically a book two redux. I’d never go so far as to say I disliked it. But the series definitely lost any cache it might have started with.

But worst of all was just how strongly the author leaned into the ‘every woman except the heroine and her friends are worthless, slutty, and untrustworthy.’ The older I get, the less tolerant I am of this dynamic. And Mas went hard for it here. There are several passages in which we are explicitly told women are nothing but meaningless sluts with no worth. *Several* And those are just the times we’re told outright. We’re also shown over and over and over and over again, as every other female to grace the pages is either trying to get one of the men to sleep with her, betraying the heroine, or just evil in some other fashion. As a female reader, I just don’t enjoy filling my entertainment with paragraph after paragraph of how worthless my sex (and by extension) I am.

If I’m honest, it feels like a mark of immaturity.  Like the pick-me girls in high school who haven’t yet grown up and done the internal work of weeding out their own internalized misogyny. Could female authors maybe grow past doing the patriarchy’s job of them? This in NO WAY endears me to the heroine (or the author).

If I came across the rest of the series for free, I might read it to see what happens to Aron. But I’m not going out of my way for it.

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