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 Grimoire for Gamblers, (The Trove Arbitrations Book 1), Amanda Creiglow
This sounded unusual, and that’s good in a market saturated with so many fantasy reads that are almost copies…so I dived in.
The magic here is different, very different to the usual, and I liked that, it was good to read a protagonist that wasn’t instantly transformed into someone more skilled than others hundreds of years older. Magic here – for humans at least – relies on skill, practice, accuracy- and intention. I really felt that part was one of the things that sets this novel above so many others.
I liked Elizabeth, and understood her grief for her father even though he’d been trying to end his life for some time. Her curiosity – that would be me, I couldn’t leave such interesting papers and items alone either….The grief provides a convenient excuse for her not being at work too, which gives her time to sort out this mess she’s inadvertently involved in. I didn’t see the point of the boyfriend, Faisal, he’s away for most of the novel and doesn’t add anything. Their relationship doesn’t feel like a very solid one, there’s no real pull between them, they feel more like flatmates than lovers.
I did get a little confused by all the different magical creatures, and I’m still not entirely sure what/where the Gravelings come from. That kind of brings up the weakness in the story for me, I have several unanswered questions. I didn’t understand the relevance of some incidents, felt others were too slickly glossed over. Max seems almost manic at times, yet terrified of his masters – why? What was the significance of the train, other than to begin events? The solutions occasionally seemed a bit slick, though the end result, the big problem, worked excellently for me. Complex enough to make me think, yet with a logic that I could understand.
Overall this was a fun read, and the issues I had could easily be put down to first in series syndrome. Those books have a tough ask, delivering a story interesting enough to hook the reader, but a world wide enough to carry future books. I think its successful here, I’d certainly like to read more.
Stars: Three and a half, its a fun fantasy, but with some darker edges. Holds promise for an interesting series.
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
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.
A Coven of her own, Saskia Walker.
I liked Sunny, incredibly trusting of her gran’s friend Celeste. I wasn’t entirely happy about Celeste’s actions, she was quite manipulative even though she though she was acting in everyones best interests.
The story is fun, light and at times very steamy. Cullen settled really well, accepted everything Sunny told him. I’d like to have known more about the coven wars than we had, about others in the coven, and the whole story was quite light on details.
Things happened, Sunny gets to grips with the supernatural world really quickly, and for me I would have liked a bit more info, a bit more depth on that. Much though I like hot sex I’d have happily sacrificed some of that for more solid background and day to day stuff. Likewise Sunny’s parents visit – and the “humour “ there – it wasn’t needed, the story was fine without, it didn’t add. IMO of course 😉
It feels like its all critisism here, and its not, there was much to enjoy. The journey back to the 1800s, the story behind Cullen, why Sunny was dreaming of him and of course the magic itself. I love magic in books, and really liked how these folk connected it to nature. Nature is important to me, and much of their magic resounded with me that way.
The big bad, Fox. I wanted more of how he changed, why, the connection between him and Celeste. I do like a “good” bad chantacter in a story, and Fox had the potential but I didn’t feel he quite lived up to it.
I’m hoping we meet these folk again in later stories, assuming they are all connected through characters that is – I haven’t looked yet. Hang on, I’ll be back…..Right, it doesn’t say, but it must be so, surely the coven is their common connection? The next books centre around it, so hopefully we will meet these characters and maybe learn more about them.
The ending was neat, but did feel a little rushed to me. I wasn’t quite ready for it.
Stars: Three, its a fun read, quite light but easy to go along with. Especially right now, mid covid and with a brain thats finding concentration hard…
ARC supplied via author.
Wild Sign, An Alpha and Omega Novel. Book 6, Patricia Briggs
Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy
Well, Patricia Briggs is by far my favourite author – in any genre. Her books are as fresh now as when I first read Moon Called back in Sept 2010!! I had to look that up, can’t believe it was so long ago…I’ve re read bother the Mercy Thompson ( Hauptmann) and the Alpha and Omega ones many times now. I discover things I’d missed in earlier reads each time, there is so much detail and subtle clues.
As these books have advanced in series I’ve noticed they’ve become closer, with characters from each series making cameo appearances in the other. Of course Bran, Charles and Samuel have always featured in both, and the more major secondary characters take appearances and get referred to, but now even the plots seem to be connected, and get referenced to in each story. I love that connection.
So having done my fan-girling about PB and these fab stories what about this book.
I made sure to read in daytime only, as one review mentioned parts verged on horror – and I’m a complete wimp. I get nightmares from the slightest things, My kids laughed when I couldn’t even watch The Mummy with them 😉
However I needn’t have worried, its got mo more “horror” in that the MT one with the Hardesty witches, and as usual everything here fitted the story line perfectly.
What I love is that its not just Charles and Anna, but others that creep in, and along the way seeds are sown for characters, plots in later books. With the story overlaps now, that could be in either series, its become a kind of game for me, trying to see people and events that may become more. One of my favourite “newish” characters from the MT series, Sherwood Post, makes an appearance here, not in person but as a character that’s been involved in the current plot in the past, and some of the mysteries about his past have come forward. I’ve a fleeting thought from this book of who he might be really, given he’s lost his memory and no-one knows – apart from Bran, who may know, but is saying nothing. That man is a real enigma.
Of course there’s the usual slow burn plot development, where things seem relatively simple, but turn out to be anything but, and Anna, Charles and Tag are in real danger. We’re introduced to yet another new supernatural entity, well two really, one is a group rather than one ..person? Creature? I wonder if the new group will take a greater part in later stories? I get the feeling by now that when PB introduces someone or something new its for a reason. Sherwood is a great case, he crept in fairly innocuously and yet he’s become a major, essential character in recent books. As a fellow one leg amputee I have a kind of feeling of kinship with him…though sadly wolf changing is beyond me. Leah features more here, usually she’s just the cold, unfeeling person in the background, the Alpha’s Mate who hates Mercy. PB did what I thought wasn’t possible, made me feel sorry for her.
Its a cracking read, and reminds me its been a while since I revisited the whole series. Over Xmas I reread all the Mercy novels and had a fabulous immersion into that world, so I think its time for an Alpha and Omega immersion, my favourite way to read books like this, allowing me to get totally lost into that world for a while.
And the end..what can I say about that? Nothing, sadly, without spilling too much, but its incredible, unexpected, though again the clues were set in earlier books from both series. Its not a cliffhanger, just a huge surprise ending. Bittersweet in that some folk are very happy and others will be very sad, and of course it makes me wonder whats going to happen about this new development..
Stars: Five. Another riveting, drama filled suspense from Patricia Briggs. A fantastic read, bring the series forward and setting openings for future plots. Thank goodness, what would I do if PB stopped now??
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers
The Charmed Wife, Olga Grushin
A beautifully written, powerful re-imagining that picks up thirteen years after Cinderella and Prince Charming said ‘I do”
Genre: General Fiction ( Adult), Sci-fi and Fantasy, Women’s Fiction
Sigh…women’s fiction. Again. C’mon guys, its 2020 not 1820, men read books like this, men write books like this, lets get rid of this genre please?
So, having got that off my chest, what did I think of this book? Well, I’m not really sure, that sounds like a cop out but I’ve some very mixed feelings.
I enjoyed the idea of “what happened next”, the more in depth look into the fairy tale, and of course the way the story brought in so many other fairy tales, with the original endings, Grimm’s grim ones, not the sanitised Disney version. At times though that got just a bit too much, felt a bit overworked,. It reminded me of going to an art class years ago, where the tutor described when he was learning, and saw how a few highlights really brought his work to life. So added more, and more and then in his words “ it looked like Blackpool Lights instead of a gentle evening landscape” sometimes Less is More.
The mice suffered from this too, they were fun to begin, I really enjoyed them and their part in the tale ( or tail!!), but then it began to drag, getting so in-depth, tied up in yet more stories of right and wrong, and almost feeling like a moral lecture.
The Witch and the Fairy Godmother had some terrific lines, they really were great. Some of their interactions were the best parts of the book.
The main characters though, Cinderella and the Prince, well, we hardly met the Prince, mostly through secondhand stories and the odd interactions with Cinderella.
Cinderella herself, well, I wasn’t sure what to make of her. Was she always this meek and mild person, content with afternoon tea and telling fairy stories to the children, or did she really want more from life? As we didn’t know her before I couldn’t tell. And then slowly her discontent comes through, and she takes action, and the twists begin.
There are long journeys, a quest almost, and that’s where many of the other fairy tales get woven in. Cinderella isn’t totally blameless yet as the book says “ we’re all heroes in our own story”. That really resonated with me, its so true. How we see things isn’t necessarily how they are, and that brings me to another part that I’m uncertain about. The last twenty per cent maybe, everything gets turned on its head, all we’ve read and believed so far takes a different viewpoint, and though for others it’s perfect, it works, I felt kind of cheated.
I didn’t expect that, and for me it explained a lot but I just didn’t like it 😉 It reminded me a little of the Dream trope, and that’s one I really don’t like.
Stars: Three, I enjoyed parts, its well told, but for me personally it had too many issues, things I dislike but that others won’t necessarily, and I found it hard to really enjoy.
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
The Once and Future Witches, 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