Review: A Wicked and Beautiful Garden (Katie McGarry)

A Wicked and Beautiful Garden
Series: Witches of the Island, #1
Author: Katie McGarry
Publication Date: May 5, 2021
Publisher: Katie McGarry LLC

Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, Romance, Paranormal
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Twenty-eight year-old Cassie Strega can’t escape fate.

All she wants is to live a normal, quiet life delivering the babies in her small town. But when she discovers she comes from a lineage of witches, her life becomes extraordinary—in the gravely dangerous type of way.

Then, she’s reunited with her first love.

Orion, the sultry Fae warrior who broke her heart years before, is searching for a baby. Not just any baby, but the queen of the Fae who will one day lead them in their final battle against the demons determined to rule the world. The same baby who has been calling to Cassie for help in her dreams.

Fighting the intense attraction of their former blood bond, Cassie and Orion work together to find the child. But when the heartbreak that nearly destroyed Cassie nine years before looms once more, she’ll have to decide whether getting involved in the supernatural war is worth losing everything, including her life.


I don’t normally reach for fantasies, but when I heard Katie McGarry was releasing one I knew I had to read it. I’ve loved everything she has written and I expected no different from A Wicked and Beautiful Garden. I have to admit that it took me a bit to get into this tale and that at times the fantasy stuff overwhelmed me. There’s some info dumping and world building that needs to occur and that stuff always slows me down. Once I got more into that stuff, I was locked into finding out about Cassie, Orion, and the baby. I really liked Cassie. Orion wasn’t my favorite at the start, but he redeemed himself for the most part. I’m still not sure about their relationship, but they had some great chemistry. I guess I just need more time to believe in their romance. As for the baby…Well, that’s the big mystery. I liked how the mystery of the baby was involved in Cassie finding out more about herself. I am curious to find out where the story goes from here.

Review: Layla (Colleen Hoover)

Layla
Author: Colleen Hoover
Publication Date: December 8, 2020
Publisher: Montlake
Genre: Paranormal
Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover comes a novel that explores life after tragedy and the enduring spirit of love.

When Leeds meets Layla, he’s convinced he’ll spend the rest of his life with her—until an unexpected attack leaves Layla fighting for her life. After weeks in the hospital, Layla recovers physically, but the emotional and mental scarring has altered the woman Leeds fell in love with. In order to put their relationship back on track, Leeds whisks Layla away to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. Once they arrive, Layla’s behavior takes a bizarre turn. And that’s just one of many inexplicable occurrences.

Feeling distant from Layla, Leeds soon finds solace in Willow—another guest of the B&B with whom he forms a connection through their shared concerns. As his curiosity for Willow grows, his decision to help her find answers puts him in direct conflict with Layla’s well-being. Leeds soon realizes he has to make a choice because he can’t help both of them. But if he makes the wrong choice, it could be detrimental for all of them.


I am not a paranormal romance reader. I gave this book a chance because it was CoHo. I don’t even know what to say about it or what I can without giving anything away. Reading it actually stressed me out. It felt more thriller than romance at times. Leeds and his dilemma made me mad. I didn’t even know what to think about Layla. Their relationship was so cute at the beginning and then…paranormal popped in. I didn’t like that until I finally got to the big surprise. I didn’t see it coming until right before it happened. I honestly think I might have disliked this book if things hadn’t gone down the way they did. In the end, it was a great read. It challenged me a bit. That’s a good thing.

Purchase Link:
 
Read in KU or purchase a copy now!
 
 
About the Author:
 
Colleen Hoover is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of several novels, including the bestselling women’s fiction novel It Ends with Us and the bestselling psychological thriller Verity. She has won the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Romance three years in a row—for Confess (2015), It Ends with Us (2016), and Without Merit (2017). Confess was adapted into a seven-episode online series. In 2015, Hoover and her family founded the Bookworm Box, a bookstore and monthly subscription service that offers signed novels donated by authors. All profits go to various charities each month to help those in need. Hoover lives in Texas with her husband and their three boys.
 
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Q&A with Author Colleen Hoover:

You have written in many different genres and always keep your fans wanting more. For Layla, you are dipping your toes into a paranormal story that has lots of secrets. How do you describe Layla without giving anything away? #spoilerfreezone 
 
What is supposed to be a short, romantic getaway for new couple Leeds and Layla turns into an extended vacation full of bizarre occurrences. But no matter how much Layla wants to leave, Leeds is more focused on finding answers for the unexplainable.
 
The paranormal elements in your story are faint…just a whisper…until they take over. What was it like adding another worldly twist to your writing for the first time?  
 
It was HARD. Super hard. I love using my imagination, but I also love realistic stories, so I found myself trying to pull back on things I didn’t feel were realistic. But then it got a lot easier when I decided to just make Leeds’s reactions sort of mirror what I would do orsay in those early moments. I put a lot of my own thoughts in Leeds’s character. He finds it hard to explain some of the things that happen, so his reactions are probably what my reactions would be at first. Until there was no room left for doubt, anyway. Then his actions veer very far from what mine would have been.
 
Love-at-first-sight is such a mundane phrase for what these two share. Their passionate relationship seems to move in fast-forward. What is it about these characters that make their connection so instantaneous?  
 
I knew where the story was going to go, so I needed their meet-cute to be believable, fun, and I wanted them to be a couple readers would root for. I probably rewrote that first chapter dozens of times,but I focused mainly on their banter. Sometimes we meet people we instantly click with on so many different levels. Leeds and Layla clicked with their sarcasm, their humor, their taste in music. And she read him without even knowing him. To Leeds that was special. I think he felt seen in a world where he’s often overlooked. 
 
It becomes somewhat of an inside joke between your couple that, before Layla, Leeds’ always wore a look like he was“dying inside.” The truth is that he was deeply unhappy before meeting Layla. How does she change his life? 
 
Leeds is lonely and holding back on his dreams because of doubts. Leeds sees something different in Layla. She’s carefree, fun and gives him confidence to follow his dreams. In a sense, I think she’s his missing puzzle piece. She fills the parts of him that are empty.  
 
Before Leeds, Layla doesn’t have a real direction in her life. What does this romance provide to her and why is she so grateful to have found her hero? 
 
Layla is fresh out of college, living with her parents and unemployed. Leeds’s career gives her focus, and being with him inTennessee got her out of a place where she probably felt useless and unproductive. 
 
Can readers expect more paranormal elements in your books moving forward?
 
I’ll never say never!