The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling

The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 3. Title starting with the letter “E”

Other Possible Prompts: 14. A character with superhuman ability, 34. An author’s photo on the back cover, 37. Set in a rural area, 41. Involves a second chance, 42. An indie read, 43. Author who’s published in more than one genre, 45. A book with illustrated people on the cover

I’m on a streak of some really *meh* books, which SUCKS because I was quite excited for this one! I was hoping for The Hating Game meets Payback’s a Witch, but no such luck.

Nine years ago, Vivienne and her cousin cursed her ex-boyfriend with a Bath & Body Works candle. After a wonderful three months, she broke it off with witch Rhys Penhallow and promptly labeled him a dickbag – but now he’s back, home to charge the ley lines that power the witchery of Vivi’s town, and the curse she didn’t really think worked apparently very, very much did.

Now, the pair have to work together to shut down living toys and ghosts, and other witchy antics haunting the little town as a result of Rhys’ curse, which he passed on through the ley lines. The proximity and the unresolved feelings make Rhys and Vivi’s relationship sizzle with some lightning intensity.

Without a doubt, this relationship was *sizzling*. The romance in this book is steamy and entertaining, if nothing else. Truthfully, I didn’t initially like Rhys and Vivi for each other…and I still didn’t really, by the end of the novel, but it mattered less because they never turned out to be super round or relatable characters so I wasn’t even mad. I felt like their backstories were generic and their reactions to things very neutral/unimaginative. I don’t know how else to describe it, other than I legitimately did not care about either of these characters, but Sterling writes some good romance *scenes*. That’s where all the magic happens.

I really want more from my witch books than The Ex Hex had to offer. I enjoyed Payback’s a Witch so much because it did a great job blending the romance and the witchy world; there was a lot of substance to that story and a lot of magic interspersed. That’s a series that will carry itself on the magic alone. The Ex Hex falls flat in comparison. I didn’t even really get the cozy vibe of a fall novel from this one, though I am reading it in 80 degrees…so that could be my fault. I just expect more from books about witches than Sterling was able to deliver.

I feel like I’m just entirely trashing this book here, but I evidently enjoyed it at least a little bit. And it really wasn’t that bad, it just wasn’t that good. The romance part was really solid, as I mentioned, but the rest of it was not stellar.

I think I will still pick up The Kiss Curse, especially because I really liked Gwyn’s character more than I liked Vivi. I had the potential to like Vivi more; I liked that she didn’t grow up as a witch, that she was coming into her own power in this book…but it was poorly executed. Gwyn had more warmth, character, and personality, so I’m excited to see her story play out on the page. Though I have to say, somewhat disappointed that we went from the f/f lead up created in The Ex Hex to whatever f/m magic is happening in The Kiss Curse.

And in conclusion, I would like to say that Sir Purrcival the cat was my very favorite character. He reminded me of my own kitties. I would be a witch in another life, and Eloise would be my Sir Purrcival.

Have a lovely week, friends!

Mooncakes by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker

Mooncakes by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker

Rating: 4 out of 5.

As I’m sure the name “The Charmed Librarian” suggests, I love anything witchy! So when I saw the cover for Mooncakes I just couldn’t resist.

Werewolf Tam has returned to their hometown to deal with a mysterious demon in the woods. Teen witch Nova is still around, doing her magic apprenticeship with her grandmas at their magic bookshop. When the pair of childhood friends reunite in their effort to stop an evil force much bigger than they imagined, sparks fly in an adorable romance full of magic and whimsy. 🙂

This graphic novel is the perfect Halloween read! I was so excited to see that its release date will give readers the time to enjoy it and get in the Halloween spirit. I love a little magic in my books all year long, so I enjoyed it in mid-August all the same!

I have to share this little tidbit from the letter to the readers: Mooncakes was written by best friends. As Xu and Walker moved far apart, they used a creative partnership in creating Mooncakes to keep their friendship alive, and I could see it on every page. The connection between characters, the way they felt about one another and interacted, was really sweet and earnest and I was glad I began the read knowing this about them and their story!

I particularly loved the cast of characters in this book: Tam and Nova were lovely, but they were supported by friends and family with a lot of heart. I loved Nova’s grandmas sweet and supportive demeanors, and her friend Tat played the perfect friend role, without jealousy or confrontation for Nova’s new romantic relationship and rekindled childhood friendship. It was a feel-good book, if only for the sweet way these characters took care of each other.

There is also something wonderful to be said about the diversity of these characters! All but Tat are part of Chinese-American culture, giving shape to the name of the story. Tam is non-binary, both characters are queer, and Nova is hearing-impaired. I loved it – it was really authentic, and gave the story some awesome representation.

My biggest complaint, and the reason I didn’t give this book five stars, is because I felt like those characters lacked a certain depth. You don’t see it often with graphic novels, but I think there’s a level of character development required to really get absorbed into any book. I need to feel connected and attached to them. I didn’t get enough background to Nova and Tam’s story, didn’t get thrown straight into the witch and werewolf world like I wanted to, and my feelings about the book reflect that. The story is clearly coming-of-age set on a magical stage, and I think it sets the scene for more. There’s a lot of room for growth in a sequel story, or a whole series of adventures, and I would certainly read them!

Mooncakes will be available on October 15, 2019! An advance copy of the book was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley for review.