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2021 a wolf is not just for christmas

Book Review: A Wolf Is Not Just For Christmas, by J.F. Holland

I received an Audible code for a free copy of J.F. Holland‘s A Wolf Is Not Just For Christmas. It was a perfect addition to my Christmas Reading Challenge.

a wolf is not just got christmas

Syd Shepherd doesn’t do holidays – not since losing so much just before Christmas 3-years ago. Instead, she spends her holidays alone in the wilderness away from the celebrations and pitying looks from friends and her co-workers at Carter Marketing.

This year, against her better judgement, she attends the Christmas works party. After her boss Riley Carter kisses her under the mistletoe, she’s running scared to the only place she finds solace – her cabin.

Hearing pained cries – even alone and as remote as she is at the cabin – Syd can’t ignore a hurt animal somewhere out there in the cold and snow. To her surprise, the animal is a wolf with a damaged leg, but with no way of calling for help and a flat tire, she’s his only hope. Taking the wolf in, Syd tries to heal him and in turn finds he helps her too.

However, what is Syd going to do about her new four legged friend when it’s time to go back to civilisation?

After all, a Wolf is not just for Christmas…

my review

I think whether people like this book or not will come down to personal tastes.The characters are likeable and the writing is readable. Watching Syd unthaw was sweet. It even has the requisite “It’s a Christmas miracle” ending. But I can’t help looking back at it and recognizing that the two characters who are supposed to be fated mates almost literally don’t speak for the whole book. What kind of romance is that?The reader doesn’t get to see them fall in love AT ALL.

He’s a wolf and she doesn’t know he’s a shifter. So, while he may have gotten to observe her, she didn’t have the same opportunities. They didn’t get to know one another even a little bit, even by the end of the book. There was no spark between them because there was almost literally no them for there to be a spark between.

The only sex scene happens while she is asleep (consent issues anyone?) and there is no build up to it. And then when he finally was human again, he stormed off in a petty huff before she’d even had time to get her head around the existence of shifters. It was absurd. Lastly, I didn’t see any reason why, after Syd idolizing her dead fiance for the whole book, the author would then go and undermine the importance of their relationship at the end.

I have to address the narrator, Michael Sharp, too. He did a fine job. But, in my opinion, he was the completely wrong narrator for the book. For one, the book’s main character is female. So, why was a male narrating her story? It created a lot of unnecessary distance between the reader/listener and her. Secondly, he sounds like an older man. (I don’t know if he actually is, only that he sounded like he is.) Which means it felt like having my dad read a sex scene to me.

All in all, this wasn’t a winner for me. But there is a heartfelt message here about grief and moving on. So, I think the book will find an audience. I’m afraid I just wasn’t it.

a wolf is not just for Christmas photo

Come back tomorrow. I’ll be reviewing A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong, by Cecilia Grant.

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Book Review: Ginger Storm, by J.P. Rice

I received an Audible code for a copy of The Scarlet Dragon Saga (books 1-3), by J. P. Rice. However, I chose to listen only to Ginger Storm (book 1) at this point. It was narrated by Liz Brand.

ginger storm audio

I’m the most notorious magic thief in the world.

I shouldn’t have let the Morrigan teach me how to steal black magic through blood rituals. Now that I’m filled with deadly magic, I struggle to control the darkness.

My powers also make me a prime target for jealous Gods and the stupid magic councils.

But when an enchanted relic that has haunted me for most of my life goes missing in my old city, I shove fear aside and return to the place where everyone wants me dead.

To find Lugh’s Spear, I’ll need to team up with former enemies and figure out which one of my allies is lying to me. The Bounty Huntress from the Supreme Magic Council is hot on my heels too.

With several powerful entities closing in on me, I could leave town and take the easy way out.

To the chagrin of some supernatural tough guys, that’s not happening. I never take the easy path. I plan to find Lugh’s Spear and return it to the Celtic Gods.

My black magic blood can turn me into a murderous maniac at the drop of a hat. If I can control my inner darkness, I might be able to solve the mystery.

my review

I hate to say it (especially since what I actually have is the compilation of books 1-3), but I was not a fan of Ginger Storm. Is this a spin-off of another series, or something? I really feel like nothing was developed enough for me to be invested in…or sometimes even understand. Mythical characters came and went, creating a disconcerting soup and no notable world-construction.

Plus, I spent most of the book waiting and waiting and waiting for a plot to pop up. And when it finally did (way, way, way late in the book) June seemed able to manifest abilities at will. I didn’t feel like she was a well-delineated character, so much as if the author just randomly pulled whatever out of their hat when they needed it.

But worst of all—for me—was that it’s so cliched in the way every man either loves or perves on June (for real or with ulterior motives) and almost every single woman in the book (other than June) is either nameless arm candy, slutty, murderous, or just vile in some other way. I don’t actually know anything about J.P. Rice, but I’d bet dollars to donuts they’re a man. The unconscious male-gaze is that kind of strong in this one. Not misogynistic, just subtly but clearly from the mind of a man. Which isn’t a bad thing, in and of itself. But it’s not something I enjoy, personally.

I don’t know that I hated this enough to not finish the compilation (because unfinished audiobooks linger and annoy me). But I disliked it enough to not want to listen to another right now.

ginger storm photo

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Book Review: Monster Midwife, by Lumen Reese

I accepted a copy of Lumen Reese‘s Monster Midwife for review as part of the Love Books book tour. It was also featured over on Sadie’s Spotlight.

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Alanna Rhee believes that all mothers deserve to deliver safely, even the monsters of the world. As a human enslaved to the fairies of Aerin, she made a pact with the king when she was just a child. She signed in blood. After studying midwifery, and for ten years attending to the most dangerous births of other magical creatures -earning wealth and prestige for the kingdom- she would win her freedom. With three years left to serve, multiple fairy kingdoms are on the brink of war. Queen Esmera of the Westlands is hated, feared, and called a ‘classless woman’. Worse still, she carries a child with no father, conceived from a deal with an ‘Old God’. Not knowing what deformities the baby may show, only the most experienced midwife in the land will do.

Alanna is trusted by all. She is asked to attend to Esmera. She is also asked not to intervene in the difficult birth, and by her inaction, to cause death. Alanna must decide if even her freedom is worth the horror of allowing a woman to die in her most vulnerable moment.

When I saw Monster Midwife, I had to pick it up. You see, my mom is a midwife. And while that doesn’t make me an expert by association or anything, it does mean that I grew up surrounded by midwifery, pregnancy, and birthing. So, I was curious how it would play out among the supernaturals.

Having finished it now, I find that I have very middle of the road feelings about the book. On one hand, I really like Alanna. I liked her dedication to women and children. I liked the complexity of her situation—a slave, more privileged than most, and painfully aware of it, but still a slave. I liked the romantic interest and I thought the writing readable and the story engaging.

On the other hand, I found the prince’s shift in demeanor too dramatic. Sure, abusers are often charismatic, but I feel like Alanna was too smart to have missed the signs for so long if he was truly so vile underneath. And…I’m not even sure how to phrase this second point (especially without spoilers)…while I liked Alanna and it was nice to see the commoner (socially less than a commoner, actually, a slave) get to be center stage, instead of the royals, Queen Esmera and her story feels like it would have been the more interesting one. Alanna helped Esmere facilitate the delivery of her god’s child, sure. But Esmere went and sought out a god, made a deal to birth a societally changing demi-god. She showed agency, determination and grit. It feels odd to focus on Alanna and her comparatively small drama when that big one is sitting IN THE BACKGROUND.

Despite that, I enjoyed Monster Midwife and would happily read more of Reese’s writing.

Monster Midwife Schedule

Other Reviews:

Book Reviews by Ford & Sky: Review Monster Midwife