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The Once and Future Witches, Alix E. Harrow

The Once and Future Witches, Alix E. Harrow

The Once and Future Witches by [Alix E. Harrow]

Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy

I was so intrigued by the description, so eager to get started on this. I adore fantasy reads, and witchcraft and witches are a huge draw for me. Sadly, though I restarted several times I just couldn’t get into the story and abandoned it at about 40% in. Life’s too short 😉 Its perfect for others of course, as can be seen from reviews but for me it just wasn’t a good fit.

It was well written, but at times even so I found myself drifting away from the story, a good read has me gripped to the page, reading “ just one more chapter/just to see what happens to…” but this was such a struggle I had to keep flicking back to refresh my mind over connections.
The little fairy-tales in the chapter openings were fun, but I didn’t always connect them with the section that followed, maybe my mind runs on a different track.
I was really disappointed not to get along with this story, it held such promise and I was sure it would be perfect for me.

Its one of those novels where its reader taste, not an issue with the book that makes for the low stars. One of those stories folk will either love or be indifferent to. For me it was indifference. I could have made myself finish, I just wasn’t invested enough in the lives and actions of the characters.

Stars: two. I just wasn’t invested enough in the lives and actions of the characters.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

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

The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales, by Jacob Grimm, Wilhelm Grimm

The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales, by Jacob Grimm, Wilhelm Grimm

Grimms' Fairy Tales by [Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm]

Genre: General Fiction (adult)

First thing I noticed was the Genre category. Adult! Yet we think of fairy tales as childrens reads.
As a kid I devoured anything like this, many of these tales, the Greek and Roman legends, Aesop’s fables and more. If they were a little gruesome at times I coped, I certainly wasn’t scarred for life. They were my bedtime reading, torch under the covers as I was supposed to be asleep…..
I think we need to give kids more credit for understanding fiction, not pretty up old fairy tales ala Disney versions. Stop mollycoddling them, and let them enjoy fiction that can be a little darker at times.

So, TBH rereading this was a bit of a let down. I remember being absorbed by these tales, fully immersed in another world, but reading them as an adult I found them entertaining, interesting at times but ultimately a bit of a let down. That magic that had me so gripped seems to ave been lost, but I guess that what growing up does for you, throws in life and reality.
There were times with some of the stories when I though “ that wasn’t fair”, when I noticed that yet again the protagonists were young, handsome, beautiful, talented, treated badly by others, while the “bad” guys were always ugly, scarred, not very clever, in a place of power gained by evil means. Stereo-typing clearly started a long time back. Its odd because I don’t remember noticing when reading as a young girl.

If you’ve an interest in the real stories, not the pretty Disney versions then this is a great read, but if like me you loved it as a child, you might want to leave those happy memories untrammeled by the logic of adulthood, the cynicism of age.
Am I glad I read it? Well, a mix, I am disappointed at losing the childhood magic, but set against that it was fun to read the true versions, not the sanitized ones peddled now. And there were several stories I’d forgotten so that was fun, I guess its a 50/50 situation. What I lost in past magic was balanced by finding tales I’d forgotten.

Stars: Three, a good book, but I was disappointed at losing some of that magic surrounding the stories.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

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

Midnight Temptation, Shari Nichols

Midnight Temptation, Shari Nichols

Midnight Temptation (Ravens Hollow Coven Book 2) by [Shari  Nichols]

Genre: Romance, Sci-fi and fantasy.

I enjoyed book one but had a few reservations about the central characters. This book doesn’t have that issue for me, I was easily convinced of the burgeoning romance between Garret and Gillian.
Although they don’t get along, to the degree they really dislike each other, I could feel the attraction between them and once they really got talking the reasons for that dislike they each held were explained. Unlike book one where I felt they moved on too quickly, this time the romance was very convincing.

I loved Gillian in book one, and here she really comes into her own. She’s a very talented witch, and a loyal friend, and when her cousin is taken she will do anything to get her back, risking her own life in the process. I loved her anti vampire spray and the reactions when she used it 😉
Garrett doesn’t do human relationships, as a vampire that’s just too hard. He’s a good guy, could turn to the dark side like so many of his brethren and his sire, but he’s chosen to use his talents to fight for good. The attraction with Gillian is a struggle though, he avoids human relationships but what he feels for her is too strong to ignore.

Its a neat story, a solid romance, with the suspense of rescuing Brooke, and the link via the Du Sang guys to book one. You can read it as a stand alone, but I think you’ll get more if you’re read book one. I love that unlike so, so many fantasy reads, these characters are older, not teens. Somehow its difficult to take so many reads seriously when some 17 year old is calling the shots, ruling over hundreds of years old supernaturals. I can’t recall learning her age but Gillian feels to me to be about late twenties, maybe early thirties. Old enough to be believable, and to have learned much from life, unlike the teens that populate this genre. She’s a character I can identify with easily, ( though sadly I’m way past her age in years, just not in my heart).
Both books are easy to read, there’s no heavy, complex plots so its perfect for those times when you just want a story to escape everyday life with, one that’s easy to read and won’t have you flipping back and forth to work out who fits where in the tale. Sometimes I want a read that’s heavy and detailed, other times I want this, a simple beach read type story. ( I say simple – I couldn’t write it, I don’t mean simple in that way, just simple as in straight forward, no tricky plots waiting to turn everything on its head).

Stars: Four, another fun read from Shari, with a genuine romance and a suspense filled backstory.

Arc via author

Midnight Temptation, Shari Nichols

Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews


Genre: Romance, Sci-fi and fantasy.

I enjoyed book one but had a few reservations about the central characters. This book doesn’t have that issue for me, I was easily convinced of the burgeoning romance between Garret and Gillian.
Although they don’t get along, to the degree they really dislike each other, I could feel the attraction between them and once they really got talking the reasons for that dislike they each held were explained. Unlike book one where I felt they moved on too quickly, this time the romance was very convincing.

I loved Gillian in book one, and here she really comes into her own. She’s a very talented witch, and a loyal friend, and when her cousin is taken she will do anything to get her back, risking her own life in the process. I loved her anti vampire spray and the reactions when she used it 😉
Garrett doesn’t do human relationships, as a vampire that’s just too hard. He’s a good guy, could turn to the dark side like so many of his brethren and his sire, but he’s chosen to use his talents to fight for good. The attraction with Gillian is a struggle though, he avoids human relationships but what he feels for her is too strong to ignore.


Its a neat story, a solid romance, with the suspense of rescuing Brooke, and the link via the Du Sang guys to book one. You can read it as a stand alone, but I think you’ll get more if you’re read book one. I love that unlike so, so many fantasy reads, these characters are older, not teens. Somehow its difficult to take so many reads seriously when some 17 year old is calling the shots, ruling over hundreds of years old supernaturals. I can’t recall learning her age but Gillian feels to me to be about late twenties, maybe early thirties. Old enough to be believable, and to have learned much from life, unlike the teens that populate this genre. She’s a character I can identify with easily, ( though sadly I’m way past her age in years, just not in my heart).
Both books are easy to read, there’s no heavy, complex plots so its perfect for those times when you just want a story to escape everyday life with, one that’s easy to read and won’t have you flipping back and forth to work out who fits where in the tale. Sometimes I want a read that’s heavy and detailed, other times I want this, a simple beach read type story. ( I say simple – I couldn’t write it, I don’t mean simple in that way, just simple as in straight forward, no tricky plots waiting to turn everything on its head).

Stars: Four, another fun read from Shari, with a genuine romance and a suspense filled backstory.

Arc via author

The Night Girl by James Bow

The Night Girl by James Bow

The Night Girl by [James Bow]

Genre: New Adult, Sci Fi & Fantasy

I love quirky, unusual reads and this book promised that. I’m not the target demographic, but I often enjoy YA reads, good ones appeal to all ages. While I enjoyed this I found it wasn’t one of those IMA, its one that’s a great read for YA/NA I think, but for we folk past that age its a little too simplistic.
Its got some fun characters, a bit of mystery, a lot of whimsy, and a kind of moral theme about acceptance and rights of minority groups. That’s particularly interesting given I’m writing this while the world is seeing the impact of BLM. Being in a minority group myself I understood some of the fears the supernatural folk had, and of course the frustration. I found the Amnesia Reset particularly sad, to have life wiped away like that, all knowledge of your past gone.
Its a quirky read, some fun moments and subtle humour, and though I don’t know Toronto it was easy to visualise from the descriptions given. Overall I felt it was a great reader for the target age group, but just a little too YA simplistic for me to really enjoy.

Stars: Three, its a strange read at times, some quirky events and good but weird characters, and a theme of acceptance that’s particularly poignant right now.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The Chalice and the Crown, Kassandra Flamouri

The Chalice and the Crown, Kassandra Flamouri

The Chalice and the Crown by [Kassandra Flamouri]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy, Teens and YA

I’m way past the target age range, but reviews suggested that this book would still appeal and I’ve loved other fantasy reads aimed at this age group. Sadly I’m on the fence about this one.

I really liked the sound of this, a very different fantasy read and was excited to start. I found Sasha hard to like though, she’s really not a particularly nice girl to those around her. I know she’s worried about becoming ill like her mother, but that’s more recent and her behaviour seems to have always been like this.
I was puzzled at how things changed, how she actually got pulled in to the other world, it seemed one page she was in this world, worrying about illness, feeling strange and then she was in the next, though her body remained here. I didn’t see the transition, needed a bit more detail there.
Then she’s in a horrible situation, has become a thrall, among thousands more. For a time she simply doesn’t realise who or what she is but slowly that changes. Even then she’s still a hard to understand person, there are flashes of when she knows there’s something wrong, but mostly she carries on. As with the best war/slave/fantasy reads there’s an underground movement though and they see Sasha as someone they can help…..

I found the writing absorbing but the actual story very difficult to follow. I didn’t wholly see how things worked, how they found potential thralls, how they pulled them in. Sasha still remained someone I found difficult to understand.
I felt this book had a lot going on, but jumped too quickly from one situation to the next without fully explaining how things happened or worked. As a reader I had to follow the text and guess. There were explanations for parts, but other things just had to be accepted and the reader just go with. Its hard to explain, the apostate for instance, this person/name just popped up without explanation of who or what he was, ( other than he lived on an island) and yet he was a fairly important part of the story.
Overall for me it was an ok read, not one I’d re-read, and one that left me with questions as I was reading that largely seemed to be unanswered. If things like that don’t bother you, then like others you may love this unique fantasy read.

Stars: Three, an on the fence read for me. I loved parts but there were too many unanswered puzzles for me.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The Age of Witches, Louisa Morgan

The Age of Witches, Louisa Morgan

The Age of Witches by [Louisa Morgan]

Genre: Sci fi and Fantasy
I love books about witches and magic, and loved the connection with the salem witch trials here. Its true, what we don’t understand we fear, and I suspect there are those today who would act that way if they could.

Hands up – a little part of me still believes in the possibility of magic, and reading this, the two sides of it, good and evil, felt very real.
The spells, manikins, herbs, all were so well done I could visualise them. It wasn’t simple easy magic but one which required study and determination, and the knowledge of how to put that study into practice. Spells too had physical effects on the caster as well as those influenced, as if they had to pay a price for the magic.

The ladies were all very strong characters, Annis, Frances, Harriet and of course Lady Eleanor. In contrast the men were weak and fickle. Even James, so strongly disliking Annis at first, ( I could feel his shock – it made me smile) seemed to be quite a weak person. Once he finally stood up to his mother he did seem to be growing a bit of back bone, and was making some firm decisions of his own. I did like him and was glad things worked out in the end, but for a while I could see him knuckling under.
The story unfolds well, interesting female characters, Annis, tomboy, would be horse breeder ( a horse lover myself I understood her feelings), her step mother Frances, highly ambitious and happy to manipulate events to benefit her, Harriet, Annis great aunt but she doesn’t know it til deep in the story and of course Grace, Harriet’s …companion/help. The have more a friend relationship than that of servant and mistress. The asylum – horrific places, and of course a convenient place to stash unwanted female relatives. Note, in a society ruled by men its only ever the ladies that get committed.

Its quite a simple story, and that let the focus be on the witches, the craft and how they worked so differently. I loved the added bonus of the Strega, the lady who ran the supplies shop. She had a special insight into people that was interesting and which let Harriet have the things from her she would need to counteract Frances.

Stars: Four, Its an enjoyable read, not one I’d reread now I know how it plays out, but one which I did enjoy very much.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Midnight Desire, Shari Nichols

Midnight Desire, Shari Nichols

Midnight Desire (Ravens Hollow Coven Book 1) by [Nichols, Shari]

Genre: Sci fi and Fantasy. romance
I enjoy books in the fantasy genre and where there’s romance too, that’s me happy. I enjoyed this book but didn’t love it as I’d thought. To be fair, as with other reviewers I’m writing this, reading this in the midst of the Covid19 crisis and my mind isn’t where it usually is so that could affect my enjoyment.

I loved the characters, the story flowed well and was a quick, steamy read. What I had a really hard time with is Alex being a – well, rabid witch hater wouldn’t be too strong, and yet within the first meeting he’s attracted to Willow and they’re quickly hot and heavy. I couldn’t see how he could put his years of hatred behind him, and how Willow could be with someone who’s held those views for so long. Lust only goes so far. Then there’s the way Willow was assimilated back into the coven with very few questions asked and apart form the initial snarky, hurtful comments its almost like a girls bonding party.
Get past those issues though and its an easy to read novel, a neat story, wrapped up properly, a little magic, a lot of mystery, and plenty of heat.

Stars: I’m hovering between three and four, I liked the story a lot, but the things I had issues with were for me pretty big. Three and a half.

Arc via author

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