Secrets of the Mermaid by Catherine Stine

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Pages: 288

Series: The Keepers of Knowledge, Book 6

Genres: Paranormal Romance; Urban Fantasy; Supernatural; Mermaids

Publication date: March 15, 2021

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Indigo Rain is regretful of a dark past, leading to a vow to remain alone and focus on researching ancient merfolk tribes. When she unearths a seabed burial site that even she cannot identify, she shares this with a High Council merfolk historian… keeping one shocking secret to herself.

Bay Finley is the flirty Royal merfolk Keeper assigned to teach Indigo on Pyreshore, a glamoured city of supernaturals tasked with keeping their invaluable knowledge alive. Indigo thinks Bay is a haughty know-it-all, but also dangerously handsome. He’s engaged to Abigail Torrent, a Royal, unlike Indigo. But he’s begun spending a lot of time in the lab…

Indigo has three quests:
Uncover the mystery of the burial tablet, resist falling in love, and never, ever reveal her biggest secret, even to the Keepers.

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Another tortured cry rang out. It was a bass howl from a barrel chest, a thick, muscled neck. Bay. Some deep part of her knew it was him and that he was in grave trouble, in agonizing pain. She hurried to the stepladder without turning one last time

Chapter Six

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10 books, 10 authors, 10 keepers, 1 shared world!

Books can be read in any order!

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This story gave me everything I wanted from it and then a little bit more. Maybe it’s the anthropology major in me and maybe it’s just general human curiosity, but I absolutely adored getting to follow Indigo as she unearthed artifacts and looked into her peoples’ past. I adored her unearthing the mystery surrounding her tablet and the secret she’s keeping from everyone.

Following Indigo and Bay was a great way to give two different perspectives into the story as it unfolded. Both people of scientific mindsets, it was fascinating to see the way they tackled the mystery around their artifacts so differently. Yet one ends up believing what they see as fact while the other remains a skeptic way longer than I would have been.

While this is the sixth book in the series, each book is written by a different author about a different supernatural race within this world – vampires, mimics, witches, merfolk, gargoyles, sphinxes, werewolves, fae, and the other animal shifters. This makes it extremely easy to pick up any of the stories regardless of their “order” in the series. I’m thrilled to have picked up Secrets of the Mermaid – clearly, the story about the merfolk – as an introduction to the series as now I can’t wait to continue on with the world. What else will these supernatural creatures have in store?

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Continue reading “Secrets of the Mermaid by Catherine Stine”

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Pages: 406

Series: The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club, Book 1

Genres: Fantasy; Mystery; Historical Fiction; Young Adult; SciFi; Horror; Retellings

Publication date: June 20, 2017

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Mary Jekyll, alone and penniless following her parents’ death, is curious about her father’s mysterious past. One clue in particular points towards Edward Hyde, her father’s former assistant and a murderer, being nearby. Knowing about a reward for information leading towards his capture, Mary knows this reward would solve all of her immediate financial woes.

When the hunt heads her to Hyde’s daughter, Diana, she finds a feral child left to be raised by nuns. Assisted by Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Mary continues her search for Hyde and the truth about her father’s life. She soon befriends more woman, all of whom have been created through terrifying experimentation: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein.

Their investigations lead them to the discovery of a secret society of immoral and power crazed scientists, causing the horrors of their pasts to return. Now it’s up to these “monsters” to triumph over the monstrous.

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Diana: Why do women have to wear such rotten clothes? I mean, you’ve got the chemise, and then the corset and then the corset cover. And that’s before you’ve even put on the shirt waist. What’s the point?

Beatrice: Clothing is one means of enforcing women’s social and political subordination. That is why we must support rational dress.

Catherin: Are you seriously going to have an argument about this in the middle of my book?

Beatrice: OUR book. As you keep reminding us. And I know you agree with me, Catherin.

Chapter Eleven

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I went into this read not knowing much of anything about it. Truth be told, I hadn’t even read the synopsis before I picked the read up. I’d heard a lot of BookTubers talk about the book recently, and many of them that I tend to have the same general taste in books have recommended it. On top of that, the cover is gorgeous and I absolutely love fantastical retellings of classic novels. So, naturally, I had to pick it up.

And I’m so glad that I did. I fell in love with this story almost instantly. The way that this story is told is unconventional, but made it even more enjoyable for me. As well, if you have the opportunity to listen to the AudioBook version I would highly recommend it. Kate Reading did a phenomenal job narrating this story and making it feel alive. Each character is distinct – both in tone and voice – and makes it truly feel like a group of friends talking over each other. It was perfect.

Goss herself did a phenomenal job at making this story feel real. I could picture the scene’s in my mind’s eye perfectly. I could see Mary’s calm anger or disappointment as it was described. I could visualize Diana’s rowdy behaviour and her scampering over the rooftops. Justine’s gentleness was clear as day, her unwillingness to be the monster she thought herself.

The only thing I didn’t enjoy about this story is the fact that it ended. Sure I’m lucky enough that I can jump straight into the second story if I chose to – and believe me, I plan on picking the next story up state! – but still. This mystery was thrilling and I loved every second of it. I loved the clues slowly making their way known. Even having previously read all of the classic stories that are referenced in this one, each character felt new to me. Each story felt unique and new. Beloved characters took a new twist and I loved every new characteristic that Goss gave them.

If you’re looking for a fun and thrilling YA fantasy story, I would highly recommend this one. You don’t have to have read the classic stories – like Jekyll and Hyde, Frankenstein, Sherlock Holmes, etc – in order to enjoy this story. While I adored being able to compare and contrast this “retelling” with the classic tales, it’s a fantastic read all on its own without needing to compare it to the source material. You can certainly believe that I’ll be reading the next story – and posting about it – soon.

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Continue reading “The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss”

Witching on a Star by Erin Bedford

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Pages: 187

Series: Academy of Witches, Book 1

Genres: Reverse Harem; Paranormal; Magic; Witches; Paranormal Romance; Romance; Young Adult; Urban Fantasy

Publication date: August 3, 2018

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All her life, Max knew she was destined for more. On the eve of her high school graduation she finds out that she’s a witch, completely changing her future plans. Now Max isn’t headed to an Ivy League school like she’d always expected, but to the Witch’s Academy to learn what being a witch entails.

If Max hopes to survive her new destiny, she’ll have to deal with a mean girls clique, way too sexy for their own good bad boys, and a popularity contest she didn’t want to win. Turns out magic has more consequences than Max realized. Here’s hoping she’s more prepared than she thinks to handle it.

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“Your mother had quite the head on her shoulders as well. Never was one for political bullshit.” I gaped at the headmaster. Maybe I had assessed him a bit too soon. “Forgive me, my dear, but after doing this job for two decades, your failure to fall at my feet with promises of blessings from your family makes you a breath of fresh air.”

Chapter Six

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I picked up this story as my April Buzzword pick. The prompt this month was “Galaxy Terms”, so I figured a book with star in the title was as good a pick as any. I found Witching on a Star in my kindle account, so picked it up and hoped for the best.

I have to say, I found myself disappointed in this read. I really wanted to love it. It’s got so many things that I adore in a book – magic, mayhem, discovering you have powers you didn’t know you had, a reverse harem… It’s even my favourite genre to read – Urban Fantasy. Yet I just did not enjoy my time in this world.

I’ve been known to enjoy books with a Mary Sue main character, but I just couldn’t get behind Max. For someone who spent her entire life not knowing that she was a witch, everything seemed to be handed to her on a silver platter. She might start out in remedial level courses, but she’s not there long. She breaks countless magical rules in this story but never has to face consequences for her actions.

The “bad boys” that are promised in the synopsis aren’t even true bad boys. Sure, one of the boys she’s interested in can be considered to be a “bad boy”, but the rest really can’t be. The golden boy of the school, a potions major who happens to be physically large, and a boy that works in the main office of the Academy do not make for bad boys in my opinion. I have no problem with the boys all having their own personalities – on the contrary, I encourage it – but they don’t fit the advertisements that were sent my way.

Even the “conflict” in this story wasn’t really compelling. I spent the whole book waiting for something to happen and nothing did. Sure, “something” happened, but it wasn’t something powerful enough for me to consider it worthy of being the main conflict of a story.

As much as I was excited to pick this book up when I saw it, I don’t see myself continuing on in the series. Maybe it’s because I’ve read a lot of amazing books lately and maybe this kind of YA book just isn’t my cup of tea anymore (I doubt it as I still read a lot of YA magical stories, but I want to give this story the benefit of a doubt), but I didn’t enjoy my time in this world. I waited a couple of days after reading the book to actually type out this review, and if I hadn’t taken notes while reading it I honestly wouldn’t have remembered what happened in this story. A forgettable story (to me) isn’t worth continuing a series.

Mistletoe Match by Lindzee Armstrong

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Pages: 191

Series: No Match for Love, Book 6

Genres: Romance; Christmas; Contemporary: Contemporary Romance; Chick Lit

Publication date: October 24, 2016

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Michelle Collins is on a mission to end animal testing and no matter how irresistible a mystery man might be, he won’t stand in her way. It seems like Christmas magic when she kisses a mysterious stranger under the mistletoe – until she finds out he’s Austin O’Neal, the new marketing director of the company she’s sworn to destroy.

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This was not a book for me. Stances were taken in this story that gave me hope, only to be dashed by unjust stereotypes and false narratives. I understand this is a work of fiction, but sometimes carrying on a false narrative hurts the plotline more than it helps it. The story had promise and fell short.

While that might seem like an extreme stance to take on the book, it’s one that I continue to stand by 7 months after having read this story. I was hoping that this story would surprise me and take a turn for the better, but it didn’t. The other books that I’ve read in this series – Miss Match and Strike a Match were much more my speed than this one was. I’m glad that this wasn’t the first book that I read by Lindzee Armstrong otherwise I might not have picked up another one of her works. As it is, I plan on reading more of Armstrong’s works, even continue on in this series, as I still believe that this story was an exception to my enjoyment of her works.

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Other Review on this series:

  1. Miss Match (Book 1)
  2. Strike a Match (Book 5)

The Bird That Sang in Color by Grace Mattioli

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Pages: I’m going to be honest, I listened to this story on Audible so I’m not sure how many pages there are – not even for the eBook version of this story.

Goodreads: The Bird that Sang in Color

Genres: Literary Fiction

Publication date: January 17, 2021

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In her teens, Donna Greco subscribes to a conventional view of success in life – and pushes her freewheeling, artistic brother, Vincent, to do the same. However, he remains single, childless, and subsists in cramped apartments. She harbours guilt for her supposed failure in relation to his happiness until she discovers a sketch-book he’d made of his life. In fact, it prompts her own journey to live authentically.

Focusing on serious issues such as alcoholism, death, and family conflict, Mattioli manages to balance the serious with wit and humour. The story spans decades, beginning in 1970 and ending in the present. Readers will be left wondering “What pictures will you have of yourself by the end of your life?”

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“I just really always thought I had to live a certain way to be happy. I can still hear my dad telling me to be sure to marry rich. You know, it’s funny the voices that get stuck in your head, even when you know they’re wrong. But yesterday it just all hit me. I have all the thing I thought I always wanted and I’m fucking miserable. All I need is myself to be happy. But I don’t have myself as long as I’m lying to myself.”

Chapter Twelve

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I found this to be a very cute slice of life story. It took me about an hour of listening to the story to really get into it, but once that first car ride was over I found myself sitting in my parked car, waiting for the chapter to be over before I turned the story off. I didn’t want it to end, even though I needed to get out of the car and go about my day.

Part of what I really liked about this story is how real the situations felt. Donna’s life wasn’t an easy one but she never gave up. She kept pushing herself forward towards finding her own happiness. She pushed back against societal ideals about “the perfect life” or being the perfect wife. Heck, Donna even learned to push her loved ones towards their own happiness instead of doing what they were told would make them happy. Of course, she also learned when it’s best to hold her tongue and let her loved ones figure things out on their own.

Life isn’t easy and I appreciate the fact that Mattioli didn’t sugarcoat it in this story. She dealt with harder topics and issues people face throughout their lifetimes. She showcased what it’s like to realize you’re unhappy but worth being happy. How getting out of a bad situation can make all the difference in the world in finding your inner happiness.

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Continue reading “The Bird That Sang in Color by Grace Mattioli”

Jukebox Hero by Jason Stuart

JukeboxHero

“PRETTY IN PINK MEETS MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE”

Is that a great tagline or what? Welcome to the tour for Jukebox Hero by Jason Stuart! Read on for book details and a chance to win an amazing giveaway — A signed copy of the book AND in keeping with the theme, a couple of John Hughes box sets (80’s movie classics)!

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Untitled_Artwork

Jukebox Hero

(SledgeHammer: A Rock and Roll Fable #1)

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Expected Publication Date: April 30th, 2021

Genre: 80s Mashup/ Superhero Fantasy

Publisher: Burnt Bridge

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It’s Back to the ’80’s like never before!

Things aren’t all rainbows and cupcakes at the corner of Elm and E streets. Molly Slater just wants to forget everything she can’t remember and play heavy metal with her best friend in the garage. And maybe get a date for prom if he’s not a skeeze.

But someone in this ‘burb has been killing redheads, and Molly has the reddest hair of them all.

When a night of babysitting gone wrong gets her in the crosshairs of the local gang scene, Molly discovers fabulous secrets about herself.

The hunted becomes the hunter as she prowls the darkness that has crept into her sleepy town. But a far more sinister force, some thing from another world, has other plans in store for her…

Available on Amazon

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Excerpt

Sister Christian”

—Night Ranger, 1983

 

Three standing grandfather clocks gazed down at her that morning, ten years to the day since they found her wandering alone with no memory—not even a name.

There, at the corner of Elm and E Street, Molly Slater (the name they’d given her) gripped her Fender Stratocaster like it were a weapon forged for her hands. Her fingerless gloves whispered at the strings, ready to saw down some serious noise. Jordache jacket with the sleeves ripped off at the shoulder. Purple lipstick and double-earrings. Corvette red hair. Bette Davis Eyes.

The garage smelled like the early morning—no other sound but her Cons slapping the dewy concrete. She kicked away shorted out gizmos and various half-finished contraptions littering the cold slab floor. Hoyt, her foster dad, fancied himself the inventor. Any day now he’d invent their way into riches untold. Any day now.

Those grandfather clocks ticked at her as she plugged into the Peavey. More of Hoyt’s tinkering, thinking he could set his machines by them. Each triggered a different chain reaction every morning. One fed the dog. Another opened the garage to the day. A third…well it never worked anyway. She stared at them, as did they her in return. They held no judgment, only the looming doom of the impending hour.

As the garage doors groaned, opening to the dim autumn light outside, she cranked up and twist-tuned her axe. She gave it a gooseneck and sliced right in. Mötley. Halen. Bowie. Duran. Whitesnake. Saxon. Maiden! Fluidly, she moved from one riff to another. She was totally, epically zoned.

She lived in that fifteen minutes.

Those granddads thundered their terrible news.

The parentals shouted.

“Shut that racket off! You’re gonna be late, I swear to every god,” the mother said. As if there were gods. Molly just shook her head, put up the guitar and grabbed her bag. “And put on a hat on that red hair. I don’t want you getting murdered by that maniac!”

So dramatic. Like anything that interesting could ever happen.

She always knew it would be like this.

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Continue reading “Jukebox Hero by Jason Stuart”

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Pages: 356

Series: The Grisha Trilogy, Book 1; Grishaverse, Book 1

Genres: Young Adult; Fantasy; Romance; Magic; Paranormal

Publication date: June 5, 2012

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Surrounded by enemies, the once great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness that just so happens to be crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. To make matters worse, Ravka’s fate now rests on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. When her regiment is attacked in the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life. A power that could very well be the key to saving their war ravaged country.

Wrenched away from everything she’s ever known, Alina is whisked to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha – the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. Yet nothing this lavish is as it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her to succeed, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha… and her own heart.

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“Alina isn’t… She couldn’t…” Mal shook his head. “We’re from the same… village.” I noticed that tiny pause, the orphan’s pause. “If she could do anything like that, I would know.”

Chapter Three, Page 48

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As the Shadow and Bone series is coming to Netflix today – April 23rd – I have to give these books a reread. While I planned on devouring this entire trilogy – and the Six of Crows duology – in time to dive into this series, I ended up prioritizing other reads this month instead. So far I’ve only read Shadow and Bone, and I hope that’s good enough to start watching the series when I get home from work this evening.

I personally adore reading the book/s before watching the show or movie adaptation so I want to make sure that I’ve refreshed my memory on this story before giving the show a watch. It’s been years since I read these books for the first time, so I only had a vague memory of the events in the book before diving back in.

That being said, I fully understand that these will be two separate things since the show will be dealing with both series at the same time. I look forward to seeing the ways in which the series differs from the books, to see how merging the two storylines togethers – and the entire Grishaverse – brings more life to the books. I hope that I’m able to keep an open mind when I watch the show as I can’t wait to see these books come to life.

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Continue reading “Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo”

Borrowed Treasure by Jessica Tastet

Congratulations to author, Jessica Tastet on the release of her latest novel, Borrowed Treasure! Read on for more info and a chance to win a digital copy of the book!

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Borrowed Treasure Cover

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Borrowed Treasure

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Publication Date: April 13th, 2021

Genre: Women’s Fiction; Clean Romance

Publisher: Dandelion Wish Publishing

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Sissy Ames has been driven to succeed her entire life. On her own, she’s turned her Bittersweet Café into a success, and she’s rebuilt a friendship with her cousin Harper after years of going it alone, but her past bad judgement in trusting Hunter Wells during their relationship continues to cast shadows on the future she’s trying to build for herself.

Hunter Wells has been coasting through life, working at the family business and creating the life that his family expects for him. He’d once hoped for a different existence, but he’d been forced to move on and make do after Sissy Ames had ended their three-year relationship without an explanation.

Even in their small town, the two have managed to avoid each other, but then Hunter’s fiancée, Sissy’s nemesis, disappears after a suspicious confrontation, leaving them both looking like likely suspects. The only hope they have of clearing their names and figuring out what led to the disappearance is to find the one item that drove them apart two years ago: The Ames BORROWED TREASURE.

Add to Goodreads

Available on Amazon and other Online Retailers!

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Excerpt

Sissy

Sissy Ames ducked behind the ostentatious flower arrangement with its oversized lilies and Hyacinthian sprays shooting out at unnatural angles. The thickness hid the center of the room but exposed her to the tableclothed tables lining either side where the overdressed elite of Thibodaux and its surrounding areas sat. Tonight represented everything she typically avoided, mainly so that she could stay out of the proximity of the woman commanding the center floor. Why her arch nemesis must flit around the ballroom gloating about her latest accomplishment was beyond Sissy. That woman’s pretentious fake smile and sickly-sweet voice had followed Sissy wherever she went in the large ballroom until her hands had begun to shake and her jaw to ache from the clenching.

Harper, her cousin, approached from the buffet table near the rear of the room. “The lobster bisque’s edible.” Holding out a tiny plastic bowl towards Sissy, Harper shrugged bare shoulders in defeat. Although the food lacked appeal, Harper certainly stunned in the black skintight number Sissy had sent over for her to wear tonight. Sissy had been right to prod the usually casual attired woman into vintage satin as it hugged her hips and showed off the curvy body that Sissy unfortunately did not possess. Sissy had inherited her mother’s straight form among other genetics she wished she could trade in.

Accepting the ecru soup, Sissy’s eyes scanned the crowd, looking for Cecelia Domangue, the bane of her existence since they were fifteen years old and fighting over president of student council. Currently, the petite blonde in a fuchsia Valentino stood chatting with a town councilman and the sheriff, her fake laugh chiming her existence from twenty feet away.

Sissy ran a clear plastic spoon through the watery consistency of the bisque. In her head she mentally critiqued the recipe’s minimal usage of cream. “Anything has to be better than that beef dish.”

Narrowing her emerald eyes, Harper twisted her lips and flashed Sissy a familiar look. Sissy’s cheeks warmed. Her resentment must be showing.

Sissy had submitted a bid to cater the fundraiser tonight in an attempt at a business expansion, but her bid had been accepted under condition. As the serving contract had been awarded to Cecelia’s restaurant Twilight Fare, Sissy would have to submit her recipes to Cecelia for approval and preparation. As if Sissy would ever turn over her recipes to the woman who’d opened a restaurant blocks over in her continuing effort to encroach on every aspect of Sissy’s life. Even if Sissy’s own Bittersweet Café catered to a different crowd than Cecelia’s Twilight Fare, that woman had branched right into catering which Sissy had cautiously tested the waters only a month before Cecelia had gone full blown into advertising her own services.

Harper glanced away to scan the room, and Sissy returned to the soup, which she knew she could have done better. “How long do we have to stay?”

Discarding the bowl, Sissy picked up her champagne glass from the table instead. At least they’d bought the good stuff. “We need to be sure the right people see our faces, but besides from that, the committee already has our hundred bucks a head, so I don’t think they care if we are here an hour or close the place down.”

Tonight’s fundraiser for the Downtown Revitalization committee had the special purpose of raising money to spruce up the downtown area with seasonal decorations to help promote the Christmas festival. The event had filled the local university ballroom with the social society of the small-town area and all its neighboring towns to be sure. As part of the committee, Sissy had aided in promoting the event, even though Cecelia’s recent addition to the committee had managed to sway votes and shut her out of the menu selections.

Harper picked up her own glass from the table and sipped. “I see a few local lawyers from Emmett’s last mixer. I’ll go over and say hello. If I’m lucky, I may get home early enough to speak to Emmett before the different time zones mean he’s sleeping.”

Sissy had Cecelia in her crosshairs, and she waited for her to prance to another unsuspecting guest, so she could emerge from behind the flowers that Sissy had voted against. Currently, Cecelia stood near Rudy Klingman, councilman for her district, who dropped in every Wednesday for a number six special, and she’d promised to propose streetlamps to him on behalf of the committee. Distracted, she asked Harper. “Any indication when he’s going to return from New York?”

Harper shrugged. “He says the case should wrap up in a day or two. I believe he’s enjoying it way too much.”

Sissy waved Harper’s doubt away with her champagned hand. “Pish, Emmett will be home soon, and you two will be making me sick with your sweetness.”

Harper smiled, her olive complexion flushing. “Okay, no arguing with my date tonight, especially since you drove. Let’s make our rounds and be out of here in thirty minutes.”

Sissy nodded and raised her flute in the air as if to toast. “That’s a plan I can drink to.”

Harper clinked her glass against Sissy’s, and then they departed into the mingling crowd.

Avoiding Cecelia’s group, Sissy slunk over to Suzy Rhodes, greeting a few of the lawyers and two judges that frequented her business for lunch during the week. In her two-piece blue suit, Suzy stood removed from the invitees, her eyes watching everyone. Her stance hadn’t changed since high school although she’d updated her attire to pant suits and cut her hair into a short bob she tucked behind her ears. Back then, she’d taken photos for the yearbook and everyone had wanted her attention to get within the pages. Today, she wrote a monthly column in the local entertainment magazine, specifically a review of local eateries. Sissy had attempted getting the café featured for months now, even sending a personalized gift certificate two months ago. The woman had never responded to the invitation nor shown up as even a patron, but Cecelia’s Twilight Fare had been prominently featured, not only as a food review but as a front-page feature on up and coming restaurant owners.

Suzy Rhodes smiled, her cheeks dimpling as Sissy approached. “Why, Sissy Ames, I’m surprised to see you at a swanky function like this. Not your usual soiree, huh?”

Plastering a smile on her face, Sissy drew upon her southern manners she knew lay beyond her desire to give the woman a good tongue lashing. “Since my café is located in the center of downtown, I have a vested interest in its revitalization efforts.”

Laughing airily, Suzy’s eyes wandered the room as if bored with the conversation. “Right, that’s true, your little café is down there. I never remember it’s there.”

Sissy raised an eyebrow, holding her glass closer to her lips. “I know. I’ve invited you several times as part of that little column of yours, but you have yet to accept my invitation.”

A short, fierce laugh escaped as Suzy’s eyes met Sissy’s. She returned to her survey of the room just as quickly though. “My lord Sissy, I can’t accept every invitation I receive.”

“Hmm.” Sissy scanned the room, her eyes naturally falling upon Cecelia, who stood facing Chef Homme from Le Homme, the elegant downtown restaurant. The two’s expressions revealed deep, serious conversation—too serious for a social mixer. “Is that why your material has been repetitive?”

Suzy’s stance shifted. “Excuse me?”

Sissy smiled, tilting her head. “Oh, I thought you were just so busy that you recycled material from the same four restaurants. Everyone has been talking.”

Sissy continued smiling as Suzy’s eyes lit with anger. The dark haired, flat nosed woman bit her tongue though. They’d all been raised too southern to truly speak their minds at events such as these.

“Well, it was nice running into you,” Sissy said, bowing her head in exit. “But I see a city council member I need to have a word with about lamp posts.”

Sissy pivoted, feeling a surge of confidence from the conversation. Moments ago, she’d hid behind hideous flowers to avoid her high school tormentor, but they had grown up, even though some didn’t behave as if they had. Cecelia and even Suzy hid behind country club houses and designer labels still, making others feel as if they didn’t measure up in the circles they all moved in. She had to remind herself in their vicinity that she was proud of her downtown renovated apartment and scavenged consignment finds.

Spotting Cecelia ahead on her path though, she pivoted and turned the other way to avoid her. She told herself that with her new found attitude, she would probably lose her southern manners and regret it later.

Her attention lingered too long over Cecelia, and when she turned, she hit a wall of black cashmere and white softened woven cotton. Reaching her hand out, she pushed herself away, inhaling the masculine smell of sandalwood and musk. From his chest hugging shirt, her eyes followed the Italian silk woven tie in its beautiful pastel green and yellow swirl pattern. The feminine color selection had been a brave choice for a function such as this where the men showcased their masculinity and their pocketbooks. So, he either didn’t know better or his power came with his name.

She continued on up to his tie’s perfectly anchored knot and landed on the chiseled jawline and soft brown, waiting eyes of Hunter Wells.

Her nose flared as she inhaled deeply, an awareness of their nearness. She took a step back.

“Excuse me.” Sissy felt her cheeks burn as the back of her neck flushed.

A light flickered in his warm chocolate eyes.

“Of course.” Hunter nodded, and his lip twitched. “How have you been?”

Hearing her heart pound in her throat, Sissy straightened her spine, bracing herself for the old anger to return, but his nearness tempered any old residual anger.

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Continue reading “Borrowed Treasure by Jessica Tastet”

The Witches of Vegas by Mark Rosendorf

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Pages: 272

Series: The Witches of Vegas, Book 1

Genres: Paranormal; Witches; Urban Fantasy; Young Adult

Publication date: August 5, 2020

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Where can Witches and their vampire mentor practice their powers without being discovered or persecuted?

By using their magic, the Witches of Vegas become the number one act performing on the Las Vegas Strip—a great achievement for them, but not so much for the magicians—who can’t possibly keep pace.

Isis Rivera is the adopted fifteen-year old daughter of The Witches of Vegas. Zack Galloway is the teenage nephew and assistant to the last magician left in the city. Although they should be rivals, when Valeria, a four-hundred-year-old witch with a long-seeded grudge against humanity arrives in Sin-City, both teens act to bring their families together to stop the evil hag in her tracks.

But can the combined witches’ powers and the ingenuity of the magicians be enough to stop Valeria from taking over the city and possibly the world?

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“How… how do you know me?” Isis asked.

“You ask a lot of questions. I like that. A curious mind is a good thing.” Sebastian held out his hand and made circular motions. A tiny rainbow appeared inside the imaginary circle. Isis reached with her left hand for the rainbow. Her fingers went straight through as if it wasn’t there.

“My wife and her sister sensed you. They’re far more connected to the energy than I am. But maybe not as connected as you. We’ll have to see.”

Prologue

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I received this story in exchange for an honest review and I’m glad that this book was brought to my attention. It’s got exactly what I look for in a book – magic and mayhem. Who doesn’t like to watch a good magic show? While I’ve personally never been to Vegas so haven’t seen a magic show on the strip, I can only imagine that this would be even better if the show contained real witchy magic.

While the main plot of this story is certainly the battle against Valeria to save the world from her evil ways, I liked the more subtle lessons that the book dealt with as well. For instance, sometimes it’s hard to picture what consequences your actions will have, how they’ll affect other people. Hindsight is 20/20, but as soon as you’ve been shown the error of your ways, you should do what you can in order to prevent the same mistakes from happening again.

Isis might not have come into her full powers yet, but that doesn’t stop her from being a badass and doing what’s right in order to protect those who can’t protect herself. Even if it means risking her own life to do so.

Rosendorf did a fantastic job at creating a world that was vibrant and full of life. Of creating characters that have true emotions and motivations, family ties that are stronger than life itself. Even the way the story starts – Based on a true story from a different reality – had my attention peeked at once.

I greatly enjoyed my time in this world and look forward to jumping back into it in Journey to New Salem. Isis’ journey is far from over and I can’t wait to see what the crew will do from this point forward.

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Continue reading “The Witches of Vegas by Mark Rosendorf”

The Oracle of Philadelphia by Elizabeth Corrigan

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Pages: 222

Series: Earthbound Angels, Book 1

Genres: Fantasy; Urban Fantasy; Paranormal; Angels & Demons; Mythology

Publication date: March 20, 2013

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Carrie works at a diner in South Philadelphia, dispensing advice to humans and angels wise enough to seek her counsel. But there are some problems that even the best advice can’t solve. Her latest supplicant, Sebastian, is unique among those who have sought her aid – he sold his soul to a demon to save his sister’s life. Yet his heart remains pure.

Carrie has lived for millennia with the knowledge that her immortality is due to the suffering of others and she can’t bare to see another good man damned while it’s within her power to prevent it. In order to negotiate his contract, Carrie must travel the depths of hall and parley with the demons that control pathways. As the cost of her journey rises, Carrie must determine how much she’s willing to sacrifice to save one good soul.

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We’d had what passed for a lunch rush – two whole tables occupied at once – and I was clearing off the tables when I heard the words that were going to change my life: “I’m here to see the Oracle.”

Chapter One

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I stumbled upon this read while looking at one of Corrigan’s other reads, and I absolutely felly in love with the cover. Not only is the cover fantastic, but I’ve always been drawn to stories about oracles and the different planes of existence. In this case, the mortal realm and the hell realm where the demons reside – my terms, the book just calls this being alive and in Hell. 

Even further than that, I’ve always been interested in tales about fallen angels and how the war between Lucifer and God impacted them. While the same characters always play a role – they were, after all, the angels that fought on the opposing sides in the way – I enjoyed the way that Corrigan dealt with them all. I loved the different personalities. Like Bedlam not always trying to cause chaos but always being the chaos that he stands for. Or Gabriel being so pure of heart that he makes Michael – right hand of God – feel inferior at times.

Carrie’s own story took center stage over the story I thought this book was going to tell – the tale of Sebastian and how Carrie was going to travel to Hell in order to save his soul. Don’t get me wrong, the synopsis wasn’t lying when it said that Sebastian’s request for help would be the driving force in Carrie’s life. But I expected more of an epic quest into Hell than what we’re given. Instead, the story is filled with flashbacks into Carrie’s long life and the events that led her to be the person she is.

Although it took me a while to be okay with the lack of an epic hellscape adventure like I was expecting, I ended up enjoying Carrie’s story much more than I think I would have had this story been exactly what I was expecting. Jumping between timelines isn’t always something I follow too well, but Corrigan did an amazing job at it. It not only helped make Carrie’s decisions make sense, but it also made her willingness to change her behaviour for one good soul that much more impactful. I can’t wait to dive back into this story and see when Carrie and her friends take the world.

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Continue reading “The Oracle of Philadelphia by Elizabeth Corrigan”