How to Talk to a Goddess, (The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic 2),
Emily Croy Barker
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Sci-fi and fantasy
Its so long since I read book one that I decided to reread it. I remembered parts but discovered there was much I’d forgotten, and found that it was still as much fun as first time round.
Then I went straight on to read this and I think having refreshed my thoughts via first book made it easier to get into Nora’s mind, to follow why she chose certain actions. I was a bit sad for her parents who would once more get plunged into a mysterious disappearance, but really, how could she explain it? I think at least leaving them a note would have been kind, even if they don’t believe it.
I liked that Nora’s return was not seamlessly easy, and very believable. I wondered how after accidentally slipping into that world she’d be able to repeat it, and it was done in a way that felt natural.
I loved this book, the first is still my favourite by a small margin, but this has some great parts. I did like the things that happened, good and bad, to Nora and Aruendiel, the separation, the jealousies ( I love a good jealous issue!) I wasn’t so keen on the Goddess parts, and of course that’s a huge part of the story. It wasn’t that I disliked that part, I just felt Nora became someone else at times, and I wasn’t convinced she’d have acted in the way she did.
I’m glad the Faitoren were brought in and a resolution found, that tied up any lose parts from earlier and allowed the story to move forward.
I enjoyed meeting Aruendiel’s friends, and how they pulled together in dangerous times. The magic, I love that, loved the workings of the spells, loved the whole idea but then at heart I can’t help wishing there was magic in the world…..
Its a fun read, a worthy follow up and I would still like more from this world. I think Nora, Aruendiel and their friends could still have lots of adventures.
Stars: Five, A fabulous read, worthy follow up. And please Emily, more??
ARC supplied by author
A Portrait in Ash and Lace, Casket Girls Chronicles, Sofia Aves
Genre: Romance, Sci Fi & Fantasy, General Fiction (Adult)
1) I spent ages looking for casket girls 1-3….Thought I was losing it 😉 but this is a series with each book written by a different author. Found that out from anther reviewer!
That’s why i couldn’t find casket girls 1-3…..i never though to look under different authors!
I felt the story had so much potential but it never quite got there. It is very short, another thing I hadn’t realised, shorts rarely work for me. I felt that everything became squashed into far too quickly over events, whereas the potential for making a longer read was there. Was there is worked well, if a little disjointed at times, confusing at others and that’s where more space would have helped, let the story come out fully instead of being pushed into brief, not always clear, sections.
The ending is very abrupt, in fact for me it doesn’t feel complete. I haven’t read this author before, but I would happily read more if the story was longer.
Stars: Three, its a bit muddled at times, and would benefit from extra length IMO as it has the potential to carry more.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers
Genre: Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy
Well, this is probably my favourite or the trio. Maybe because I feel I know many of the characters. Its good to see how things are growing in the coven, though even with them being witches I’m still pretty sure it wouldn’t be as easy hiding things from the rest of the village as it seems. Still, that’s the beauty of fiction 😉
This book seems to have a bit of everything, the Coven witches of course and then we’ve Ghosts, Demons and Vampires…Vampires. First time they’ve been around in the village and at first the Coven members cant make it out. There’s more issues with Nathaniel Fox, a documentary crew poking into everything, looking for the paranormal, and an old acquaintance from Aveline’s past crops up, and he’s unwelcome. Sadly he’s also very persistent, very suspicious, and tagged into the film crew.
Its a fun read, not just the documentary crew but the Coven, the 1940’s party ( I had to look up Zoot suit – found from Wiki rabbit hole and the images I remember seeing a pic with my dad in that style trousers…See, even fiction teaches us things). Of course there;s Eben, who adores Aveline, and is such a source of strength. She needs it in this book, there are some hard things to deal with.
It ends with a big bang, literally, and some tear jerking moments too.
Stars: Four, a fun read, I enjoyed seeing how the coven and its memebers have grown over the books, and how Fox was finally dealt with.
ARC supplied by author
The Midnight Bargain, C.L.Polk.
Magic meets Bridgerton in the Regency fantasy everyone is talking about…
I wasn’t sure about this book at first, but quickly became hooked and I loved it.
Its a mix, a magical world, but historical in the sense that women are property, and horrors, no matter how talented magically once married they lose that. As spirits can enter unborn children and take over women have to wear a collar to lock out their magic and therefore lock out any harmful spirits. Not just while they are pregnant, but from their wedding day to the end of their childbearing years. Beatrice is horrified, she is talented, thinks the system unfair and would fair rather keep her magic and remain unmarried. However her families future depends on her making a good marriage, thanks to some poor investments by her father, a fact she’s only just become aware of.
Poor Beatrice, stuck between a rock and a hard place. Her only hope is to continue her magical education in secret and get good enough to convince her father she can help mend the families fortunes that way…
There are some great characters here, a lovely mix of friendship and the usual Mean Girls, as Beatrice isn’t quite from the top drawer. I was surprised how things with Ysabeta developed, loved it, it wasn’t what I expected. Ianthe, who couldn’t love him. One of the few forward thinking men of the time, who was prepared to try to understand what Beatrice had issues with. Like most of us, whats accepted as norm isn’t questioned, and though he knew Ysabeta has problems with it he hadn’t really though about it from a woman’s view. Of course he’s in the minority, and his mother certainly doesn’t share his views.
The star for me was Nadi, the luck spirit. I adored her, she made the book really special, her relationship with Beatrice. They both cared about the other, where convention said spirits needed to be kept in place, and didn’t have those sort of feelings.
Its a gentle romance, beset with society problems and a really fun read. I loved the magic, loved the problems that cropped up, loved the gentle mean girls stuff. It ends neatly, everything wraps up with a neat epilogue, and I’d love to read more from this world, see how the things develop with these characters and maybe others a couple of years down the line.
Stars: Five, a really magical read and I love this world. C L Polk, please write more!
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers
Cuckoo in the Coven, Saskia Walker.
Like the first in this series the story is fun, light and at times very steamy. Its an easy read story, not one that’s dark and dense, but a kind of sexy, supernatural M&B read 😉
I liked Rowena, felt for her when she thought she’d been let down by Caleb. She’s somehow they type of person you feel protective of, but she actually has a lot of inner strength.
I wasn’t sure about Caleb, I understood his need to know more of his origins, but using someone to get information isn’t really something that sits well with me. The woman holding the story of his background over his head is deliciously horrible. I do like characters of that type in a story, it adds a sharper edge. Knowing that though, and Caleb does, I wanted him to think a bit more about what she was going to do with the information he found for her. It wasn’t going to be anything good, and I needed him to recognise that but he didn’t want to.
She had connections with people from Raven’s Landing that I didn’t expect, and of course everything comes to a head, both groups meeting, magic being thrown out hard and fast, and a brief appearance of sorts by Fox. I do feel that magic is a little bit of a quick fix solution in this and the previous novel, but that’s a personal issue. I like it best when characters have spent time honing skills, not when they instinctively know what to do. Its a small irritation though.
Stars: Three, its a fun read, quite light but easy to follow, no intense concentration needed.
ARC supplied via author.
Ghost of an Enchantment, Wickwood Chronicles Book 2, J. E. McDonald
Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy, Mystery and Thrillers, Romance
Edit: 15/02/21. I’ve just noticed that this is now classed as paranormal, romantic, comedy on amazon. That makes the criticisms I have a little outdated, though still valid I feel. At least readers know more what to expect. The genre headings I’ve used were what was with the book info when I requested it.
This was a fun read but for me a light one. It lacked the depth to really keep me engrossed.
I did like the characters, and the attraction between Lucas and Stella, but felt he was very ready to accept the explainable.
“She’s a witch, OK, my friend is a paranormal investigator even though I don’t really know what he does. The books are floating? Oh well…There’s weird burn marks on the floor and ceiling? Oh, I wonder what did that? Still, they want us to leave so I can’t ask more questions.
Even seeing it for himself I thought he’d be more shocked, more full of questions and doubts.
Its one of those reads that has so much packed, in but each bit felt almost superficial. The portal, the connections between the families from the past, the creatures that appeared, the police and their actions and comments, Stella’s gran and her issues, and then neighbour’s reaction to floating books. That last bit felt it was added for humour when the story didn’t need it, and for a serious book just felt wrong, though works in a comedy. I felt its a story that doesn’t really know what it wants to be. Is it a romance? A mystery, a book with humour and fun? A serious Sci-fi? Stories can be more than one but this has bits of all in, that would work in a series or trilogy, but for me in just one book it was a muddle and detracted from the story.
I just got the sense it was a story full of events, characters and creatures, connections from past to present and maybe just a little too much packed in a shortish read.
For me I’d rather less events and more detail. As ever though, we’re all different and this is perfect as it is for others. Horses for courses…
Stars: Three, a lightweight mystery, a little too packed with different things for me.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers
Its been weird this last year, I find it really hard settling to anything, where I can ususally lose myslef for hours in a book, my mind is restless, thinking about what weird times we live in, how live has changed so very much in such a short span. So I’ve done a lot of rereading old favourites where my mind doesn’t have to work so hard as I know the story. I’m on the last book in my rereading of PB’s other series ( Mercy Thompson – I’m still in love with Adam though I have a soft spot for Ben, and Sherwood is fast growing on me too) for the Nth time…..so maybe a time to reread this series.
The Awakening, The Dragon Heart Legacy Book 1, Nora Roberts
Genre: General fiction ( Adult).
Its ages since I read a Nora Roberts trilogy, ( or any from her alter ego Nora Robb come to that…) Those I have read have always been when all the books are released. I hate waiting for next parts, and part two is Nov 21 and its scheduled to finish in Nov 22! I find I’ve forgotten much of the story by time next installment is out. Still, when all parts are out its wonderful to get lost in another world, in a back to back reading fest. I can see this story being one of those.
I found the start Very Slow, at times it dragged. There were a few magic elements slid in with Sedric’s interventions but they are few and mysterious as we don’t know then what its all about. I did out aside a couple of times and come back to it another day here…
Then once more we have the obligatory Gay Best Friend. Are there really so many of these? Solid, safe backups, someone who’s protective to death, trustworthy, has the other persons best interests are the front always? And of course, good looking, great friends etc. It seems every other book has one now, and its beginning to feel unreal. They’ve been in the last three books I’ve read, all different genres.
So, once that slow start is past its a story that was great fun and had me gripped. Magic, magical creatures, spells, Good and Bad people, and of course a contender for the male MC’s heart. That’s very early though and may just be wishful thinking on my part, I do so love a good “ bad” manipulative person 😉 The possibilities are there, so I’m hoping it happens.
I love Nora’s writing, full of interest, lots of minor plots, lots of threads to hold my interest. The story doesn’t jump about, just moves through these threads, these different sections, gradually joining them all together.
I loved the characters, in both worlds, and the sheer volume of supernatural in the story. I hate ones that promise magic, and then throw in a tiny speck, a few minor spells and that’s it. Once Bree is in Talamh she’s surrounded by all magics. I loved it. Just hate that wait for next two parts.
Stars: Four. If it wasn’t for that slow, slow start this would be a five star read. Roll on the next book. And the one after 😉
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers
Harrowed (Haunts and Hoaxes Book 2), Irene Preston, Liv Rancourt
Genre: LGBTQIA, Mystery & Suspense, Paranormal
I’d read Irene and Liv’s other series, Hours of the Night, but apart from learning the background to the fire in the first book of this series you don’t need to know those characters to enjoy this series. I’m sure there may be more brief overlaps. Hours of the night was a pretty complex, intense series, this one has a much lighter feel and I found events less confusing, though I really enjoyed Hours.
Noel and Adam are both holding things close, its a newish relationship – I’m not sure how long but that’s how it feels – where you’re both wary of saying or doing the wrong thing. Noel, I do like his rich tastes and the humour surrounding it, isn’t sure of he’s really seeing and feeling past events or just going mad. A natural reaction for most folk who suddenly experience what he is going through. Adam, being “in the trade” so to speak, has noticed him acting oddly, but Noel won’t talk about it, shuts him down and its back to that new relationship where no-one wants to put the other person off.
Adam thinks maybe if they go to where odd things have been turned up, though he’s actually a little sceptical about the supernatural, preferring to rely on historical facts, Noel may be forced to confront whatever is playing on him. Noel isn’t keen, back to that supernatural visions or crazy worry, but agrees and things happen that neither envisaged.
I like Noel and Adam together, but at times I could shake the pair of them. Noel is master of avoidance, of doing something, anything, to avoid facing up to whats wrong ( hands up, that’s me too…), and at times he’s a real jerk to Adam, especially early in the novel. Adam too, I like him but at first I couldn’t help feeling he saw Noel’s issues as something to investigate, as an aside to his supernatural/historian investigations rather than something that’s actually hurting Noel.
Events move forward, and we reach a point where Adam wants to leave it for Noel’s sake, where he can see that whats going on is actually hurting Noel, and Noel is determined to stay, and face up to events whatever the personal cost. It brings the two closer, they move forward into a more secure relationship. The things that are happening are believable, as is the opposition from those making money from the local small town legend. Truth, or a good money making legend, which is more important. As always there are two very definite sides.
This was a fun read, not the scary spooky I feared. I’m a wimp, Stephen King et al are books that scare the c -rap out of me and give me nightmares, not what I want form my reading! I loved the relationship development, that “are we boyfriends or what?” issues, where neither want to voice it for fear of scaring the other off and yet we can feel both actually want more than the current undefined monogamous hookup style thing they have going on.
Stars: Five, a fun read. I wouldn’t reread as a stand alone but when a series I like is finished I love to binge read my way through and totally immerse myself in the characters and I can feel this is going to be one of those series.
ARC supplied for review purposes by authors
Found in Flame and Moonlight, Kat Bastion
Genre: Romance, Sci fi and Fantasy.
Gah, my bad. I should have looked at my review for the last book, but the magic of the first book and the holiday novella still stays with me after so many years back first reading that I jumped in.
I have the same feelings here as with the last book. I can’t connect with the characters, can’t feel the romance, don’t understand much of the story. Gawain I remember but wasn’t convinced of his reasons for no emotions, though certainly when he was with Chelsea I could feel he didn’t have any. Chelsea, for a being however many years old I’m assuming that’s not her original name, we never really get to know much about her, her purpose, her people, and given she too has this no emotions training, she was incredibly accepting of marriage and all the events that happened.
Its all “poof” magical solutions with no explanations, and even with magic I like some answers 😉 I gave up half way through, I’d rather spend my reading time rereading those first two magical stories. As always its my personal opinion, others will and do love the story.
Stars: Another Two. My fault, I should have stopped at reading the first one and the novella. Just because its not for me though doesn’t mean you won’t love it. We all want different things. Thankfully 😉
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers