“I loved the first book and was so excited to learn that the story didn’t end there.”
Review by Renae Powers
THE GAME IS CHANGING.
It’s been three years since Saff made the life-changing decision to embrace her Seeder nature and move to the Green Lands. She loves her job, her husband, her Seeder family, and everything about this enchanting new realm. Life couldn’t be more perfect. Except for the disturbing new war tactics displayed by their enemies, the Ivies.
Rachel’s senior year in high school is anything but typical. Discovering her true identity as a Seeder means learning new abilities, hiding from Ivy assassins, and preparing to leave the human world behind. But something’s not right with her powers, causing crippling self-doubt and leading her to make unlikely allies. Rachel’s ready to join the rebellion, helping to put an end to centuries of unrest amongst the green folk.
But people and promises are rarely as they seem in a war filled with secrets and misdirects.
Far from being on the same page, Rachel and her new mentor, Saff, realize they can only take the needed leap of faith by trusting each other. The ultimate goal for them both is to stay alive, find out who they can trust, and just maybe, if they can manage that, they can stop a never-ending war.
I received this book from the author/publisher for free. All comments and opinions are entirely my own and this review is voluntary.
When J. Houser offered to let me review the next book in her Seeder Shadow Wars series, let me tell you guys, I was THRILLED. I loved the first book and was so excited to learn that the story didn’t end there. Trouble in the Green Lands picks up a few years after the first book ends and since it had been a few months since I read the last one, J. Houser’s flawless job of integrating a smooth recap into the first couple of chapters was super helpful. Most authors are a bit obnoxious when they do this, but it felt seamless and natural in this book and I was super grateful for it. “Remember the glass isn’t just half full, it’s three quarters full. And you get to be the one that fills it up.” The story itself takes readers much deeper into the Green Lands, showing us not only the Seeder side of things, but giving us a peek into Ivy life, too. That’s all I can really say about it without giving spoilers, but just know that Houser does a great job of world-building in this second installation of the series! Any questions I may have had about life in the Green Lands were answered in this book. And the world she builds is so similar to ours in so many ways that Houser effectively tackles some big everyday issues we deal with in real life. Examples include assault, racism, ableism, PTSD, self-harm, and more (also consider this a trigger warning. The author also includes a good trigger warning before the book starts, FYI). “That’s what hate does to us. It makes us forget how much we have in common, and that we all have our own struggles.” As far as the characters within the world go, we get a lot more of Saff’s post-bloom life, as well as introductions to several new characters. Rachel, a Seeder going through the blooming phase, shares the MC spotlight with Saff, so the book is a dual-POV. Rachel goes through a LOT of traumatizing moments, but what I love most about her is her choice to stay soft and keep her heart open to forgiveness and grace, despite what happens to her. She could go dark or give up completely, and she has moments where it seems like that might happen. But ultimately, she chooses healthier paths forward in her life, and I love that, as it shows greater depth of character. “That’s the big difference between you and her, you know. You’ve been hurt but you still have hope. And you forgive. Some people just get bitter.” While I did really enjoy this sequel, I also found myself wishing that the story wasn’t such a whirlwind. I’m sure the author wanted to avoid Rachel’s story just feeling like a repeat of Saff’s story (and I can assure you, it wasn’t), and wanted to get to the meat of the story faster, it just felt too fast for the first half. Like reading on fast-forward instead of normal mode. I honestly felt like this book could’ve been split in two so that the first half could’ve been given more attention. The overall story was great, but the first half read more like a detailed overview of a book than a finished book. To be fair, the latter half of the book was really well done and felt like better pacing. Overall, I definitely really enjoyed jumping back into the world J. Houser created! Her stories so far have been beautifully told and hold unique ideas and characters. I already bought book 3 so I can see what happens next!
Action & Gore:
3. Mild action (common injuries with some detail).
Romance & Spice:
2. Mild content (holding hands and mild kissing).
Cursing & Vulgarity:
3.Infrequent mild cursing.
Other Trigger Warnings:
Romance includes: kissing and clothes-on cuddling, references to sex, but nothing explicit. Gore includes: blood, torture, death. Again, not explicit or super descriptive. Cussing: I counted 5 instances of cuss words. Houser effectively tackles some big everyday issues we deal with in real life. Examples include assault, racism, ableism, PTSD, self-harm, and more (The author also includes a good trigger warning before the book starts, FYI).
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