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Subversive, Colleen Cowley

Amazon link. Subversive (Clandestine Magic Book 1) by [Colleen Cowley]


Genre: Romance, Sci-fi and fantasy

I loved Colleen’s first novel, the Opposite of Magic, which I read some years ago ( and have just reread ) so was pleased to be offered the chance to read this one. I really enjoyed it, a fun, magical story but with a strong storyline.
Some years ago I had an ARC of Charlie Homburg’s first book in the Magician series, and in many ways this has that same feel. Suitable for new adults but appealing to older readers too. The Magician books were also suitable for the teens and YA group, but IMO this book has a little more sensuality and a slightly darker element towards the end, and is suited to slightly older readers.


So, poor Beatrix, she’s given so much for her sister, put her through college after the death of their parents, sacrificing her own chance. Now Lydia has ambitions to make bigger changes for women, by climbing up the rungs of the the Women’s League for the Prohibition of Magic. As ever, Beatrix is there behind, supporting her sister.
Beatrix works in a local store, until omnimancer Peter Blackwell commandeers her services for himself. He’s got plans and needs Beatrix co-operation, but through necessity he sets about it in an underhand way. It leads to a distrust of him, even as she starts to see more than her memories of him, starts to understand him in some ways. He’s up to something, she’s unsure of what, of if its dangerous, she thinks its almost certainly illegal, but she’s stuck, she can’t tell anyone, she can’t trust him even though she starts to want to, and she’s got her own issues. Lydia’s climb up the WLPM has attracted attention. Things keep going wrong for their branch, and the more they overcome the problems that crop up the more dangerous it seems to be getting. It seemed to me that the heart of the WLPM is that only boys who pass a test can be trained as magicians, and only magicians seem to run the country, putting women in a very inferior secondary position.


Its a good story, seemingly unconnected events come together neatly, trusted people are not to be trusted, the Powers That Be, the Wizards running the country, are taking an interest in Lydia, the WLPM and in Peter Blackwell, and poor Beatrix is stuck right in the middle.


I really enjoyed this, a fun read but with some spice to liven up the relationships aspect, and Peter’s secret turned out to be quite a shock, I really, really didn’t expect that, but it fitted the book, the Wizards and the usual Power struggle that always dominates politics everywhere. I look forward to reading more of these people, this town and the groups within.

Stars: Four, a fun read with a serious thread running through. If magic was real, and worked the way the book sets out, I could see some of the more serious parts of this happening.

Arc via author

A Deadly Education, Naomi Novik

link to amazon


Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy

I loved Naomi’s Uprooted, and was so hoping this book would be along those lines. It sounded fun and exciting but….from the start I really disliked El, she’s rude, arrogant, stand offish. When we know more about her I understood much of why she was that way, but I never really got to like her.
The school is just weird and I didn’t understand why parents were so desperate to send kids there, given so many of them died. I’m not sure what they gained from being in all that constant danger that they couldn’t have been taught in safety.
I just found it hard to connect, with the story or the participants and eventually gave up halfway through. A shame as I so loved Uprooted and was certain I’d enjoy this. Still, it won’t put me off trying Naomi’s next book.


Stars: Two, One to miss for me, a shame as I love a fantasy series and this sounded so promising. As always though it works for others, that’s the subjective side of reading.

Arc via netgalley and publishers

Feathertide,  Beth Cartwright

Feathertide,  Beth Cartwright

Feathertide by [Beth Cartwright]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy

I love quirky, unusual reads and this book promised that.
It is both those things but…somehow I felt the story it told was a little flat.
The writing was beautiful, the world unusual and the characters wonderful but for me it just didn’t add up to a great story.
I wasn’t convinced by the romances, didn’t feel there was any real depth to the plots. It was just things that happened to Marea on the route of her journey to find her father, and to discover herself, a kind of coming of age read. A lot of words, lots of things going on but nothing of any gripping interest to me.
I’m sure others will love it but for me it needed more depth, more emotion, more feeling. I felt the end was kind of ambiguous too, and in general that doesn’t work for me, though it does let me imagine my own HEA ending…

Stars: Three, it had the potential for five stars from the beautiful writing, but the lack of depth let it down for me.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Smoke Bitten, Mercy Thompson Book 12, Patricia Briggs.

Smoke Bitten, Mercy Thompson Book 12, Patricia Briggs.

Smoke Bitten: Mercy Thompson: Book 12 by [Briggs, Patricia]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy

Well, wow! This series continues to grow, each book building upon the whole story. With some ongoing series its clear at a certain point they’ve run out of steam, but this one has plenty of potential stories yet.
Patricia Briggs is my favourite author, this series my number one closely followed by her alpha and Omega novels. I could – and have- read them over and over, seeing this I missed each time. This twelfth book still feels as fresh as the first one.
There are so many fantasy reads out there in book-world, some excellent and some ( only imo of course) are just dire. I’d love if Patricia could write faster, I could devour everything she puts out, but what makes these books special is the realistic characters ( even though the are anything but real!), the solid story, the multiple plots, the carefully woven links that grow through each book, and that takes time. I’d rather wait and have quality to read, than for the series to have more books but devolve into some of that dire writing. Actually I don’t think Patricia could ever write like that, its just not in her. Thankfully.

Well, another puzzle for Adam and Mercy here, and as usual there’s not just one plot but multiple ones. A weird and incredibly dangerous creature no-one knows much about, that may have escaped through the door Tilly opened in Mercy’s back yard, some strange werewolves in town, and problems between Adam and Mercy, not with their relationship but which could affect it.
Its always a treat trying to work out just how Marcy and Co will resolve things. Because although Mercy is always the driving force, she’s aided each time by her pack, her friends and somehow she always ends up in the firing line.
I love that we see so many of the old characters here, along with the new ones. I can see how things from earlier books have led to relationships – not friendships but those kind of connections that prove very important when Mercy needs them. As well as the tension and danger, there’s the usual fun and games, the day to day issues that make the story feel grounded and balanced. Fae bargains have to have balance, and for me books need to have balance too…
With some authors I feel they write themselves into plots that only magical solutions will get them out of, and when they just pull those out of a hat, do things no-one has heard of, that have never been mentioned and don’t have any real connections and – bingo- everything’s fine, I feel cheated. With this series though the magic is part of it, and though Mercy has no magic per-se, she has those connections, the Fae, the vampires and of course Adam and the pack, with the Marrok always in the background, and of course her own special heritage from Coyote. When there’s magic involved it always follows set rules that have been brought up in earlier books, so I don’t feel its some new, unheard of superpower solution. Mercy and the pack bonds feature strongly here, and her being pack but not pack, being coyote and something different, means her pack bonds are different too. I found that part really interesting, had me visualising what Mercy was seeing.
I love that Adam has some problems here. I adore the man, the perfect mix of gorgeous, charming, Gentleman and sex, and sometimes guys like that need a few issues to make them real. There’s one point where I was really almost tearful at events, very much moved, and also very much angry that things had gone so far.
Once more its like meeting old friends, and knowing their individual strengths and weaknesses ( Aurielle and Christy!) I can see how they will work in the story. I guess my big fear is that the constant dangers to them mean each book maybe is the last for some of them. We’ve seen people die in previous books, it happens with the constant pressures, it can’t be just the bad guys that die, that would make it unbalanced. The fact so many have died or left the pack because of the dangers is brought up here. The Colombian Basin pack is noticeably smaller, and that brings in vulnerabilities. My heart was heavy that it might happen here to two longstanding characters, and that fear is what makes it real. And I’m not saying if they died or not 😉
So, I finished this yesterday and am already thinking – read again or go the whole hog through the series – I know that these books can stand that constant re reading. Maybe I’ll do both 😉

Stars: five, a cracking read, perfectly paced and balanced, and gave me a story to lose the real world for a time. I adore these books, fingers crossed there’s many, many more to come 🙂

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

A Throne of Swans, Katharine Corr, Elizabeth Corr

A Throne of Swans, Katharine Corr, Elizabeth Corr

A Throne of Swans by [Corr, Katharine, Corr, Elizabeth]

Genre: Sci Fi & Fantasy, Teens & YA

Well…Wow, what an amazing read. It’s classed as teen and YA, but one of those rare few that really appeal to all ages, not just the younger generation. Like Vic James Dark Gifts, or Sarah J Maas a court of ….reads, they are reads to treasure, to reread no matter what age you are.
I’ve never actually read/seen Swan Lake but I guess everyone knows the basics, and I was hoping this wasn’t just going to be a retelling of the story. That doesn’t work so well for me, but I was happy that its Swan Lake inspired but has a story of its own. There were magical scenes, interspersed with some pretty horrific stuff. The Corr sisters don’t shy away from some solid hard facts in the world they’ve created, where those With get to do pretty much whatever they want to those Without ( flighted and flightless in the main). There’s some harsh rules in this world, some that feel almost arbitrary and yet for decades, centuries they’ve been uncontested.
I loved the world created, with its mix of characters, with its people that can transform into birds, with the sheer political intrigues, when grew almost faster than I could read them. Just as I was thinking one thing something happened that threw that chain of thought into disarray.
There were some fantastic characters. Aderyn’s clerk Lucien, tells her “trust no-one” but its hard for her. Lucien has been used to the cut and thrust of royal politics, of the machinations and intriguing that take place constantly, but Aderyn hasn’t spent time at court, hasn’t actually been anywhere since her mother was killed years ago and the injuries and shock left her unable to transform into her Swan shape. In this world that’s something that would get her removed as protector and could even threaten her life if it gets out.
When they first go to the Royal Castle Aderyn is just determined to find out who killed her mother, who was behind it, but the first day isn’t over before she discovers she’s treading on very thin ice, that she needs her wits constantly. Lucien had warned her but she doesn’t like him, and hadn’t realised just what danger she was in. She’s good hearted but at first had been so sheltered she’d never realised just what else was going on in her world, how the flightless were treated in other dominions. She assumed all were like her father, that they were treated fairly, but soon sees unhappiness and cruelty surround her. She grows up very fast, from that naive 17 year old we first meet, to the girl at the end of the story who’s had a sharp shock about the world she inhabits, who now realises just what it means to be a Protector.
And speaking of the end, what an incredible bounce of surprises those last chapters brought. They kept coming, one after another, after another! I hope book two is around soon, I am desperate to know just whats going to happen, how things are going to come through, and suspect its going to get worse before it gets better.

Stars: Five, an amazing read, full of a magical world, intrigue, politics, interesting characters, and one to reread when part two is out.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Brimstone, The Metals Trilogy: Volume I, Justine Rosenberg

Brimstone, The Metals Trilogy: Volume I, Justine Rosenberg

Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy

I was intrigued by the description of this, and as its a debut read there wasn’t anything else by this author I could see to check whether her writing suits my reading. So I took a jump and requested.

Sadly though what I missed is its not even 100 pages, just 92 according to goodreads. That’s far to short for me and the reason I never read novellas is I just find too much crammed in too small a space.
That proved to be the issue here. We’re dropped straight in the world, not knowing anything about they people and creatures that inhabit it, or even the world itself, and its all so very different that it makes it hard to follow.
I wanted to know more about Ava, not just the bare minimum we get fed, but more details about her past with the Knights, and how she became to work in the Paper Houses. Then there’s Sariel, and his people, who are slaves, the necromancers, the geomancers, and more. There’s not just this world either, but others, and places in-between worlds. It became an info dump of places, people and events.

It has so much possibility, but was so complex without any info on who and what was/could happen, that I just couldn’t get to grips with the story. To be honest, that’s not a lot. We meet Ava and Sariel, the knights are after them, and they make a run for it with a couple of others….that’s it folks, more to follow.
That’s not enough for me to engage with the story or the characters, and its a shame because from the style of writing I think this is a series I could enjoy. To me its not so much a novel or a series itself, as a serialised novel, a story broken into small chunks and though others like that, I don’t.

Stars: Two, sadly too much info in too short a space for me. Expanded it could be a story/series I’d love but as it is it just lost me.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Boundary Haunted, (Boundary Magic Book 5), Melissa F. Olson

Boundary Haunted (Boundary Magic Book 5)

Boundary Haunted (Boundary Magic Book 5) by [Olson, Melissa F.]

Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy

I love all Melisa’s stories about the Old World, and this one continues to engage my attention as much as the rest. Sometimes when a series continues a while the stories feel faded, same-ish but not with these. The Scarlett Bernard books follow the same lines as the Boundary ones, same Old World but different city, different issues. That means there’s always something new to bring to the story, and I love both series. I’ve recently done a reread of them all, so events were fairly fresh in my mind from the last book.

This time Lex has to travel to the South, where her talents have been requested. Maven says she doesn’t need to go, its outside the remit of their agreement, but she would like Lex to go, and hopefully persuade Beau, the Cardinal Vampire there, to join the parliament she is hoping to form. She needs strong allies like him, and Lex can see the value of helping him. She’s struggling though after the events of last time, not sleeping well, and hiding it from everyone as best she can. She’s worried about going back into a world that’s stuffed to the gills with Ghosts from the wars.
The first meeting doesn’t go well, dangers soon appear, and Lex has no allies except for a spy of Mavens who can’t be revealed of course. Quinn wanted to come, he and Lex usually work together, but its too close to his human life, where his wife ( widow) and daughter still live. The temptation to seek them out, or the possibility of accidentally meeting them, would be too much. He hates seeing Lex in danger though and boy, does she get into some here….

The story unfolds, opinions change, and the dangers stack up. Lex doesn’t really know where to look but slowly she starts to get a picture of events, although the culprit shocked her – and me. I Did Not see that coming!! I love to be caught out like that.
As usual there’s a mix of info we know and new things, new spells, types of witchcraft, types of ghost, and the world Lex is in seems to be ever expanding. I enjoyed meeting new characters, wasn’t sure about Beau at first, but came to really like and respect him in the end. Even though its mostly new folk we meet, we still are connected to the usual crew by way of Lex’ thoughts, talks with Sam, phone calls and other little means, so it all felt very much a part of the series, not just Lex in a new tale. I like that connection, like the the world is slowly expanding, bringing in more folk – and hopefully lots more stories!
Things happen here that throw light on some past events, and push the whole group further forward. If I’ve a criticism its just a personal one, I adore Quinn, I missed him, although I understood exactly why he had to stay away. Without him though Lex really will struggle.
I look forward to the next from Melissa.

Stars: Five, another cracking read. Roll on the next one.

Self purchase

Second novel by indie author E L Croucher. Horned Winged Blessed

 Indie authors need readers support, and if youre a lover of dystopian type fiction this may be for you. Its out now at £3.99 and also available on KU.

Horned Winged Blessed

Horned Winged Blessed by [Croucher, E L]

Horned Winged Blessed opens in a post-world war three world,with an all-female, all-wiccan government in charge. They are known as theSilver Party, and have led Broken Britain through the war. Now, they are pavingthe way to a utopia in which hate crime and sexual assault are things of thepast.

One of their biggest and most profound laws is the law of 3×3. Three genders,and three sexual orientations. Men are now called Horned ones. Women are called Winged ones. Lastly, every other gender is grouped together as the Blessed ones.
The story follows the protagonist Joan Wood’s journey tounderstand the issues within this society and eventually finds her taking itdown. She is the daughter of the founder that started the Silver Party, and shestarts the novel under the illusion that this is indeed a utopia. However,after various attacks on her home from the rebel party the Grounded, as well asvarious friends warning her that life isn’t a rose-tinted as she thinks, she becomes aware that the Silver Party, and her mother, have indeed taken things too far, and many of the non-binary folk in society feel oppressed and labelled.
In the later half of the book, Joan actually finds her way to the rebel faction, and joins them in their aim to take down her mother and bring a true version of gender equality and LGBT liberation – rather than the erroneous attempts at such by her mother.The book ends with a showdown between her and her mother, eventually with her prevailing to crack her way through the Silver Party, with the help of her Grounded comrades.

Fox Blood, (Moon Marked Book 3), Aimee Easterling

Fox Blood, (Moon Marked Book 3), Aimee Easterling

Fox Blood (Moon Marked Book 3) by [Easterling, Aimee]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy, Romance

Well, adventures galore after the antics at the end of books two. Trouble in the pack for Gunner, Trouble for Mai with Kira excelling herself in brat mode here. Honestly, at times I wanted to shake her. She a kid though and gone through such a lot. And because she’s a kid then social services are always overlooking what the two do, and checking Mai is looking after Kira properly. Of course she can’t tell them whats going on “ ah well, you see, actually we’re fox shifters, Kitsunes…” – “ right, OK dear, now lets just give you a nice shot to clam you down….”
There are possible relatives for the girls who though they had none, Gunner has pack troubles, getting wolves to accept him having a fox mate. Kira’s mum is still throwing in unhelpful tips, and its really chaos all round. All Mai wanted was a quiet life for her and Kira, then she met Gunner and he convinced her they could make a life together. The pack has been through such a lot though and they are not happy.

Stars: four, its a fun finish, packed with action and suspense, but the actual ending did feel a little rushed. I’m not usually one for books following the ending of a story but I think a longer epilogue with a peek into the future would have finished this off well, just to let us know that after all the chaos and disasters things did work out, that the pair had not just a HFN but a HEA.

A bought book!

Shadow Wolf (Moon Marked Book 2), Aimee Easterling 

Shadow Wolf (Moon Marked Book 2), Aimee Easterling 

Shadow Wolf (Moon Marked Book 2) by [Easterling, Aimee]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy, Romance

So, after the last adventures Mai and Kira are hiding out with Gunner and the pack. Of course that doesn’t go down well with many of them, historically the two Do Not Mix….and Kira is fading fast. Trying to be helpful we saw in the last book things she did that are now affecting her badly. Kira is desperate to help her sister, but can see her sickening daily. Kira is still a brat though, in a nice way, she adores her sister but it seems the fox/kitsune playfulness and trickster genes came out in force in Kira. She means well, but somehow ends up doing the opposite, causing chaos. If she was a NI spirit she’s be Coyote!
Its a fun read, I loved the fact the Pack weren’t happy and the issues that brought. I did feel a bit confused at times, sort of lost the thread of where the story was going, and it took me a while to get back “into” the story. There was a patch where I lost it completely, got confused and just kind of switched off and skimmed a couple of chapters, and of course that didn’t help. “But I wanted to see what would happen” she explains plaintively…
There’s some more surprises for Mia and Kira here, mum’s voice is still throwing cryptic comments at Mia, and some of those made me smile and think “what on earth does THAT mean??”. Its good to have some lighter moments 😉 Gunner is doing his best to help but he’s Pack and his leader brother makes it clear he needs to choose where his loyalties lie. While Mia and Kira continue to help the pack in their search they’re there in sufferance but its a thin line he treads.
I enjoyed this installment even though like other reviewers there were parts where I got a bit lost, but I love to read a series back to back, and to reread good ones, and find that works well for me. I’m sure when I get to reread this one those foggy moments will be clearer, especially as I’ll know the ending and be able to resist skipping to there 😉
And, I’ve bought book three. It takes a lot to make me buy books with getting lots of lovely arcs ( thanks authors and publishers), free kindle reads and KU.

Stars: four, a fun read, some terrific characters – including Kira’s social worker! I doubt in real life that would swing but she’s a gem. I did find parts a little hard to follow but as I’ve said I’m sure re-reading will clear that up.

A bought book!

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