Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: What The Woods Keep by Katya De Becerra

As always, here is the disclaimer  telling you that there are spoilers within this post. If you haven’t read this book yet, I’d advise clicking elsewhere now. If you are clicking elsewhere, why not click on my spoiler-free review over HERE on GoodReads?

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What The Woods Keep by Katya De Becerra

Published September 18th 2018 by Imprint Macmillan

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Not only am I excited to knock this one off of my January TBR, but I got to Buddy Read it with the lovely Rose (SeventyEight.Sundays). It was a pleasure having her along side me (via Instagram) to read this book! Hopefully we can do it again sometime!

This was my first Buddy Read on Instagram, and I loved being able to talk to someone about what was happening, as well as my reactions and thoughts. Usually I just write them down here, for my review and ramblings posts, so it was lovely to be able to bounce them off of a person and have that person be as lovely as you are Roz! Thank you!

So let’s begin!

Well here I am at 100 pages in, and I feel like nothing has really happened yet? There has been a lot of back-story, but none of it has really given me any insight into what is happening in the book.

I feel like there is so much more to learn about Hayden. That she has some powers or a knowledge of the supernatural, or something like that? Mainly from the obvious, animals killing themselves around her, her ability to make people enter a trance like state when she stares into their eyes. Her ability (maybe not the right word), to completely black out and commit acts of such violence that it shocks everyone. That last one makes her sound rather sociopathic or psychopathic, rather than supernatural but you get my drift. There is a dark energy about her. One that I want to know more about.

Also her friend Dell, I think there is more to her than we are being told also, who else would go to a trip to a creepy old house, to a place where potentially multiple murders have taken place?

I am finding this book easy to read, the writing style is free-flowing, perfectly paced and engaging. I love the inclusion of the therapist’s notes, of Hayden’s journal notes and letters so far, it really breaks up the reading and adds another layer to the novel itself.

I am a little dubious about how trusting Hayden was when the solicitor told her about her mums last wishes for her. Leaving her the house and three requests along with it. Hayden was so trusting, she said okay and then packed her bags and headed up to ‘The Manor’. She didn’t stop to think about the potential threat it may impose. Or even why her mother would send her back there, and what the requests may mean.

Wow, so her mum isn’t even dead, just like Hayden thought! But to make it worse, her dad’s assistant was treating her the whole time! The assistant called the dad in to work on the mums case! This book is finally starting to go somewhere. I like the level of psychological thriller incorporated into this YA fiction novel. I like books that make me think.

Soo Del sleep walks? Or was she sleep walking but also possessed by Hayden’s mothers strange radio-active power, in order to kick Hayden into gear about completing the three requests she made in her will? How creepy that Del was digging exactly where the box of blood vials were!

Side note. I am loving how there is no real love interest. It is so unlike a YA novel, for there to not be a love interest within the first 100 pages. Yes we have mention of the boy-next-door, and I want to know more about him, purely because when Hayden talks about him, she talks about how his mum and her mum had some shady secret that they shared. That His mum didn’t want Hayden anywhere near her son. Why!?

Okay, so Hayden is a Nibelung? What the heck is going on. I knew that Hayden had some magical properties, but she is the thing that her father gave up his official career for? I get that her mum was also a Nibelung, and the whole gosh darn town of Promise has Nibelung blood, but it is sort of under-whelming.

Actually, I am finding this whole book underwhelming. The relationships feel forced or fake. The chemistry between Shannon and Hayden is non-existent. For the first 200 pages, we are told that Shannon is this classic boy next door who was Hayden’s best friend and then she is forced to leave and she never speaks to him again. But when we see him, he is cold, militarised and not the person that Hayden remembered. But them boom, he changes 300 pages in and suddenly decided he cares about Hayden, but it turns out he is following orders from Hayden’s dad. But then he goes against those orders. There are just so many cliché moments in this book, I would have rather Shannon stayed indifferent towards Hayden, it kept things interesting, now it just feels like every other book.

The last 60 pages were action packed, but it felt like too little, too late. I think the first 300 pages were filled with too much back story, too much nothing happening and too much magical inuendo. In the end we didn’t learn anything about Hayden’s dad, about the institute his assistant was working for. We didn’t learn anything new about the Nibelungs, other than 2 remain on the earth after the portal is closed. We learnt a tiny bit about Hayden’s abilities (mind control and intention control) and apparently Shannon can do it too. But nothing was really wrapped up at all. Yes that leaves room for a sequel, but I think I will be giving it a miss…

This book feels like it is trying too hard, it is well written and engaging, but the content, for me, is a little lack-lustre. It feels like the writing is trying to be creepy and scary, that it wants to be interpreted as magical and mystical and mythical, but all it is achieving is a weird tale set in the woods with some magnetic feeling supernatural force.

I feel like I have been a total bitch about this book, in this post, but I did enjoy it. It just didn’t live up to the hype that surrounds it on social media. I love the writing style and the ease that De Becerra has to dump us into this world and have it flow so easily. I enjoyed the folklore elements to this book, and the way that it was incorporated into scientific research. It just didn’t hit any high-notes for me. There was no build up to the climax, there was no issues to resolve. It just felt like here have all of this information, now you are finished the book. Thanks. I don’t feel like I was taken on a journey.

The pacing is also a little weird throughout the book, it is set at a pretty consistent medium pace that makes the book easy to read, but when the action starts to pick up, the pacing doesn’t. So it feels a little off-kilter.

All in all, this was a good book, I enjoyed it, I just feel like it didn’t really go anywhere. It is such an original plot idea, I am a little let down that it didn’t go anywhere, that there weren’t any real magical exchanges or settings until the last few pages. I felt more of a connection with the Manor and the woods, than to the characters. The characters had hardly no progression or real personality, they were hard to feel for, when they themselves felt emotionless.

This book was easy to read and as I mentioned before, I did quite enjoy the writing style. But in the end, this book, just wasn’t for me.

 

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December TBR

This TBR is the one that has me the most worried, I know I am not going to have time to finish all of these bad boys, on my list, I may not even finish two. December is always a flail-fest when it comes to finding a tiny bit of time for myself to read. But lets be optimistic, If I manage to get through 2 of these books, I’ll call it a success!

 

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  The Scorpio Races – Maggie Steifvater

Published October 18th 2011 by Scholastic Press

Synopsis: It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

This book is the only one by Maggie Steifvater that I haven’t read… and may be a little cheeky to add to my TBR seeing as I am halfway through it already…. That being said, it is an incredible read, I love the incoporation of horses and a whole new folklore surrounding them!

 

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Shadow of The Fox – Julie Kagawa

Published October 2nd 2018 by Harlequin Teen

Synopsis: One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos.

Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn.

Raised by monks in the isolated Silent Winds temple, Yumeko has trained all her life to hide her yokai nature. Half kitsune, half human, her skill with illusion is matched only by her penchant for mischief. Until the day her home is burned to the ground, her adoptive family is brutally slain and she is forced to flee for her life with the temple’s greatest treasure—one part of the ancient scroll.

There are many who would claim the dragon’s wish for their own. Kage Tatsumi, a mysterious samurai of the Shadow Clan, is one such hunter, under orders to retrieve the scroll…at any cost. Fate brings Kage and Yumeko together. With a promise to lead him to the scroll, an uneasy alliance is formed, offering Yumeko her best hope for survival. But he seeks what she has hidden away, and her deception could ultimately tear them both apart.

With an army of demons at her heels and the unlikeliest of allies at her side, Yumeko’s secrets are more than a matter of life or death. They are the key to the fate of the world itself.

I received a copy of this book in an OwlCrate, I had seen a few ARC’s floating around the place and thought it sounded cool. So now that I have a copy, I thought I’d add it to my TBR. I’m hoping that the hype doesn’t turn me off the book when I start to read, so often I find myself hating books that are so hyped over on Bookstagram.

 

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LifeL1k3 – Jay Kristoff

Published May 29th 2018 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

Synopsis: On a floating junkyard beneath a radiation sky, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap.

Eve isn’t looking for secrets—she’s too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she’s just spent six months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, and the only thing keeping her Grandpa from the grave was the fistful of credits she just lost to the bookies. To top it off, she’s discovered she can destroy electronics with the power of her mind, and the puritanical Brotherhood are building a coffin her size. If she’s ever had a worse day, Eve can’t remember it.

But when Eve discovers the ruins of an android boy named Ezekiel in the scrap pile she calls home, her entire world comes crashing down. With her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic conscience, Cricket, in tow, she and Ezekiel will trek across deserts of irradiated glass, infiltrate towering megacities and scour the graveyard of humanity’s greatest folly to save the ones Eve loves, and learn the dark secrets of her past.

Even if those secrets were better off staying buried.

A dear friend of mine Tamara (Booked for the Weekend) kindly gave me an ARC of this book, before it was published. But did I get time to read it? No. So here it is, on my December TBR. I am into Sci-fi, but I haven’t really liked Jay Kristoff’s solo books. Hopefully this one is different…

 

27268998New World Rising – Jennifer Wilson

Published January 5th 2016 by Oftomes Publishing (first published August 14th 2014)

Synopsis: Worlds collide in debut author Jennifer Wilson’s graphic dystopian series where Divergent meets Mad Max.

Since witnessing her parents’ murders at the age of eleven, Phoenix’s only purpose in life has been to uphold her mother’s dying words – to be strong and survive. But surviving outside of The Walls – outside of The Sanctuary – is more like a drawn-out death sentence. A cruel and ruthless city, Tartarus is run by the Tribes whose motto is simple, “Join or die.”

Refusing to join and determined to live, Phoenix fights to survive in this savage world. But who can she trust, when no one can be trusted? Not even herself…

The first of a trilogy, New World Rising is an epic tale of survival, instinct, trauma, and the extraordinary power of human connection.

Yet Again, this is a title that I have had in my TBR for too long, so long that the sequel has been published…

 

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What The Woods Keep – Katya De Becerra

Published September 18th 2018 by Imprint Macmillan

Synopsis: On her eighteenth birthday, Hayden inherits her childhood home—on the condition that she uncover its dark secrets.

Hayden tried to put the past behind her, and it worked. She’s getting ready for college, living in a Brooklyn apartment, and hanging out with her best friend and roommate Del. But now it’s all catching up with her: her mother’s mysterious disappearance a decade before, her father’s outlandish theories about a lost supernatural race, and Hayden’s own dark dreams of strange symbols and rituals in the Colorado woods where she grew up.

As soon as Hayden arrives at her hometown, her friend Del in tow, it begins: Neighbors whisper secrets about Hayden’s mother; the boy next door is now all grown-up in a very distracting way; and Hayden feels the trees calling to her. And among them, deep in the woods, Hayden will discover something incredible—something that threatens reality itself.

This book was on my radar before its release. Anything that combines the supernatural, creepy woods, and a coming of age story thrown into the mix has my name all over it. But what made me buy this beauty was Jayse (ItsmeJayse) He loved it and raved about it all over Bookstagram, so naturally, I needed to have it and read it asap. I would love to get to this one this month.

 

And that brings me to the end of the list of books that I want to read this month… I also have a short list from NetGalley that I need to read also. Here they are!

Hannah Who Fell From The Sky – Christopher Meades – Publication date Dec 4 2018 by Harlequin

War Bride – Sal Mason – Publication Date August 2018 by Rapid River Publishing

The Truth Aboout Leaving – Natalie Blitt. Publication Date January 22 2019, by Amberjack Publishing.

Camouflage by Sarah Bargiela – Publication Date 21 Feb 2019 by Jessica Kingsley Publishers

I love NetGalley and am so thankful for the opportunity to read fantastic books for free, in exchange for an honest review! But NetGalley can be overwhelming if you do what I did, when I first joined and requested way too many books. Read my tips on managing your NetGalley titles HERE

 

Well that brings my December TBR to a close. There are 8 titles here, and I am under no illusions that I’ll get to them all… But I like to have a target and a list to check at the end of the month!

Are any of these books on your TBR?

 

Thanks

Julie