Tag Archives: YA fantasy

The Awakening Kaylee Johnston

Book Reviews: The Witch & The Awakening, by Kaylee Johnston

I first came across Kaylee Johnston’s The Witch & The Awakening when Sadie’s Spotlight had a Release Day Blitz for The Awakening. I read them as part of my Awakening Challenge, where I set out to read eight books titled Awakening. (Or rather, I read The Awakening for the challenge and read The Witch because it’s the preceding novella.)


the witch kaylee johnston

Description from Goodreads:

Magic always has a cost.

In a world where humans aren’t meant to know about witches, Ella Louise Duncan just wants her boyfriend to know who she truly is and what she can do before they take their relationship to the next level. When she shows him her true identity, she doesn’t expect him to completely reject her — or send a posse after her and all of the other witches in town.

With the humans wanting to do away with witches for good, Ella Louise is ready to bring the fight to them. When her parents and all the other elder witches force her to run with her sisters, she’s not exactly happy. She is ready to fight for her right to live out of the shadows, but nobody else agrees.

When she runs into a stranger who reveals he’s not who he says he is, she has to learn how to take responsibility for her actions, follow directions even when she doesn’t want to, and protect her friends and family. Does Ella Louise have what it takes to bring the witches out of the dark and into the light…or will it all end in ruin — and her death?


Not all out horrendous, but sloppy and inconsistent. I appreciate that Ella Louise was strong and willing to stand up for herself, but I disliked her to the extreme. She was selfish, stubborn, and ultimately ignorant to the obvious, a fact I found implausible.


the awakening kaylee johnston

Description from Amazon:

Not everyone wants magic.

In a world where humans hate witches, there’s no one who hates them more than Jameson Tyler – they are the reason his mother and little sister are dead. Then one morning, he wakes to find those he’s hated for his entire life are now his only hope to understanding his new identity, his new life…as a witch.

Jameson has to get to the witch’s side of town – a place he’s never been and has loathed his entire life – and give up everything he’s ever known before the Witch Special Forces (WSF) captures him. On top of avoiding the WSF, when his new Headmistress attacks him, things get even more complicated.

He must accept his new fate and life before being killed, letting the Magical Community fall into the wrong hands. Can Jameson put his hatred aside or will he let his prejudice destroy them all?

my review

I hate to do this. I mean really, really hate to do it. I abhor having to leave a bad review as the first review a book gets and every second it sits as the only review a book has bothers me. But I’ve promised myself to be honest in reviews, so I’m not going to pull punches. This book is A MESS. I often read ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) that haven’t had a final edit yet. I am accustomed to overlooking a few editing mishaps. This is not an ARC as far as I know, since it was published in February. But even if it was, I’d call it too much of a mess to have been sent out for review.

I’m talking homophones (passed and past are misused a lot), repeat words (scoffed used in subsequent sentences, for example), inconsistencies (has it been 1000 or 50 years since the last Guardian), and timeline quagmires. At one point a new un-introduced character shows up and then in the next chapter the main character meets her (and there’s no time travel involved).

Then there’s just the story itself. The main character is literally homicidally anti-witch. He tries to kill one. Then he meets a witch and in less an hour is laughing and making friends with him. The plot leaps around, focusing on the minutia and literally skipping over the important events. At one point the main character is kidnapped and rescued, resulting in a death of someone important, and the author literally doesn’t show it, just lets the friends relate the events in about 3 paragraphs. But we’re told about cooking a roast over several pages.

I think even if someone came to me and said, “Hey, you actually did read an ARC” or “turns out the author uploaded the wrong file, not the final one” and I had to ignore all the editing problems, I’d probably still give this a 1 or 2 stars based on the jagged writing and overblown emotions. No one talks, everyone yells. Peoples’ miens swing from calm to exaggerated in seconds. The pacing is inconsistent, etc.

I hate to say it, but skip this one…at least if or until a new edition comes out.

a curse so dark and lonely

Book Review: A Curse So Dark and Lonely, by Brigid Kemmerer

a curse so dark and lonely

I purchased a copy of A Curse So Dark and Lonely, by Brigid Kemmerer.

about the book

Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

my review

This was a perfectly passable YA book. It fits the standards of the genre to a T and the writing was skilled enough for a fast reading experience. But I guess I was hoping for something exception. And while it might not be fair to ding a book for that, my disappointment was still very real. I wanted something more than the cliched ‘she’s so special because she’s not like other girls (because other girls are useless in a myriad of way)…he fell in love with her because she’s the only girl to resist his charms…she saved the day by being kind and self-sacrificing…the villain is a scorned woman.’ *Yawn, so many cliches.*

I mean, I liked the characters, Grey especially. If I read the next book it will be wholly to see what happens to him. I appreciated the cerebral palsy and small LGBT rep. As I said, it’s an easy book to read, since it’s nicely crafted. It’s not by any stretch of the imagination a bad YA Beauty and the Beast retelling. It’s just not anything new and exciting either.