The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling

Hello Readers!

In the spirit of almost-Fall, I want you to think about biting into a caramel apple. It’s sticky from the caramel, sharp from the dusting of salt, and tart from the apple underneath the layers of goodness. That’s how I’d like to present The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling – aka Rachel Hawkins, beloved former YA author, twitter aficionado, and cat mama. I recently won a giveaway on Goodreads for the kindle edition of The Ex Hex, or perhaps more widely known by it’s working title, Hocus Pocus but They F.

…I couldn’t not pre-order/enter giveaways for a book titled like that, alright? Although recently, Sterling has admitted to never actually having seen Hocus Pocus. But it’s a vibe, as the kids say. A state of mind, if you’re dated like me.

Let’s set the scene: crisp, autumn air; leaves crunching underfoot, haunted houses, ghosts, and witches. An unimaginable amount of fairy lights strung up in window displays featuring enough pumpkins to put Disney’s After Hours Boo Bash to shame. Also, there’s a sexy warlock – excuse me, witch, as it’s used for both genders now, that’s come to the little village of Graves Glen, much to the dismay of our heroine, Vivienne Jones.

Nestled in the Georgia mountains is a small village that holds a secret. It’s a hot spot for witches, and Rhys Penhallow has come to stand in for his family at the annual Founder’s Day celebration, an event that kicks off the most touristy time of year for it’s residents – Halloween. He’s also in town to charge the ley lines, which give power to the witches that reside in the village, and there’s quite a few of them as the college in town has it’s own spooky division. The normies know nothing of it, and that’s how our resident witches like it.

Vivi hasn’t seen Rhys since she threw a pair of jeans at him. After a passionate three months, Rhys announced he needed to go home and stop his father from moving forward with arranging a marriage for him. Vivi was unsympathetic to his plight, got drunk and cursed his hair, good looks, and sexual prowess. Nine years later they’re back together for a couple of days and the joke curse Vivi placed on him has come to light as an actual curse. Together, the two pair up for misadventures in attempting to contain the magic that’s been let loose on Graves Glen.

I really enjoyed Erin Sterling’s second foray into adult literature. Her quick wit, charming characters, and ability to bring a scene to life with her written words is pretty unmatched, in my opinion. And if you’re amenable, she’s pretty good at writing the sexytimes too.

This is a great read to ring in the spooky season. And I noticed this morning that Goodreads now notes this as The Ex Hex #1 – is this perhaps becoming a series? I’d be down.

Goodreads rating: 5 of 5 stars

Will I read it again? Yes! Definitely will be added into my October rotations.

Has anyone gotten their hands on a giveaway copy or arc? The Ex Hex releases 9.28, so if anyone wants to leave their thoughts on it in the comments, let’s chat.

We can’t kill our way out of this one.

Have you ever done a double take at a quote or a book title? I had that moment a few days ago when I came across this promo image on Pinterest for A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas. Released in 2018, apparently I added it to my never-ending TBR list on Goodreads, and it’s a novella – a side story to Maas’ best selling Court of Thorns and Roses series (also added to my TBR). While I’m currently making my way through some autumn inspired reads, the title and tagline of this have me entirely too intrigued. Hopefully I’ll remember to come back to it in a few weeks, and not leave it lost on a virtual shelf for another three years.

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1) by Cassandra Clare

I originally read Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare when it debuted in 2010. My Goodreads blurb about the book was as follows:

This reminded me a little bit of A Great and Terrible Beauty, and the main characters all have some semblance to the TMI characters, and Cassandra Clare is entirely too fond of cliffhangers, but this is otherwise one of my favorite books read this year.

While I still have issues using a comma appropriately and don’t really remember A Great and Terrible Beauty all that well, the rest remains true. Cassandra Clare knows how to tell a story, and while she does recycle plot lines and characters, her ability to hold your attention from the start is refreshing, especially in the YA world.

Tessa Gray is more than what she seems. An orphaned girl from New York, she lives with her Aunt and brother after the death of her parents. But Nate soon takes a job in London, and when Aunt Harriet dies, he sends for her to join him. Disembarking from the steamboat, her world is flipped upside down as she’s taken prisoner by the Dark Sisters, a pair of Downworlders charged with teaching Tessa to Change. Tessa’s not actually human, and her scalawag of a brother has traded her person for a handful of silver. Her ability has caught the attention of The Magister, who wants the shape shifting girl for his own.

Breaking free of the Dark Sisters, Tessa meets Will Herondale and Jem Carstairs, Shadowhunters who are sworn to protect and fight against those who seek to destroy. Together they begin seeking out Tessa’s missing brother, making their way through the dangerous underworld of warlocks, demons, and other supernatural beings. But what they find is much more than a missing sibling and vampire games.

Chain of Iron (The Last Hours #2) by Cassandra Clare

Months after the Shadowhunter attacks of the summer, old fears return as a murderer walks loose in dawn hours. Patrols are set up, and Cordelia and her friends take personal interest in the deaths as James finds himself in a waking nightmare. Who is killing their own in the early hours? And why are the bodies located in such places? Why are they missing ruins?

For Cordelia Carstairs and the Merry Thieves, life in London continues on in Chain of Iron by Cassandra Clare. Cordelia is married now, and only those closest to her know the truth behind her sham marriage vows. While she loves her husband desperately, she’s unnerved by the fact that he loves another. Together they brave increasingly romantic moments while trying to remind themselves of promises made.

Lucie Herondale discovers a strange new power. She’s always been able to see ghosts as it’s a Herondale family trait, but now she finds she’s able to command them to her will. Together with Grace Blackthorn, the unlikely pair begin to dive into necromancy and illegal magic in effort to raise Grace’s brother Jesse from the dead. Neither trusts the other, but their mutual love for Jesse brings them together in fantastical escapades.

Matthew Fairchild is determined to live his life in an obliterated state. Golden, charismatic, with a cheshire smile – he should have the world at his feet. But between harboring secrets and drowning himself in alcohol, and his friends and family become increasingly worried that he’ll be his own ruin.

While I’ve grown out of Cassandra Clare’s overwhelming descriptions of young love and beauty, I really enjoyed Chain of Iron and was sad to realize there’s no release date for the third installment of The Last Hours series. Clare churns books out like clockwork, but world events have put a damper even on publishing, I imagine. She’s got multiple books in this universe and they have a special place in my heart. I haven’t read all of her side stories, but I do think I’ll revisit the prequel series to The Last Hours, Infernal Devices. It’s been awhile.

Chain of Gold (The Last Hours #1) by Cassandra Clare

I looked up Cassandra Clare recently and had one of those moments where you realize just how old you are. I’ve been reading Clare’s works since 2007 and recently recalled a memory where, upon reading her outline for all her Shadowhunter books, I realized I’d be 30 by the time she finished. It’s been fourteen years; she’s still writing and I’m still reading.

I had to google to see where I’d left off in the universe and was pleasantly surprised to see I was only two books behind. So I’m not terribly late to Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare. I did have to research a little to familiarize myself with the timeline though.

I was pleasantly surprised to find this installment introduced Will & Tessa Herondale’s children, formally of Clare’s Infernal Devices series. I’d forgotten how much I liked the Victorian era Shadowhunters. I might have to reread that series again.

Cordelia Carstairs has come to London under the cover of becoming parabatai to Lucie Herondale. Together, they will be closer than sisters, warriors bound together in a ceremony many young Shadowhunters take part in with those closest to them. But really, she and her mother and brother have come so that she can seek someone to marry. With her father awaiting trial in Idris for a terrible crime, marriage is the only way her family can save their reputation.

She’s lonely, seeing strangers in every face except her girlhood friend Lucie, and Lucie’s older brother James. Soon, she becomes swept up in the lives of the next generation of Herondales, Fairchilds, Lightwoods, and Blackthorns. There’s fancy dress balls, picnics in the park, and explosions in secret laboratories. Sadly, only a whisper of Church, a cat with the lifespan of a warlock, who appears in most Shadowhunter novels.

Demon activity has been quiet for many years. Even though nephilim continue to train, the young know nothing except stories of what it is to be a true hero. But when demons begin to strike in daylight – unheard of behavior, and Shadowhunters become ill from wounds healing ruins can’t fix, Cordelia, Lucie, and the Merry Thieves (James’ group of social miscreants) become entangled in a story with deep and dark ties to their own. With London under quarantine against the attacks, Cordelia learns the true meaning of family and being a hero.