Sunday, November 12, 2023

Navigating Love: A Candid Review of 'The Revenge Game' by Jordyn Taylor

The Revenge GameThe Revenge Game by Jordyn Taylor
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Year read: 2023

"The Revenge Game" by Jordyn Taylor is a mixed bag that delivers thought-provoking elements and frustrating dynamics. On the positive side, the book bravely tackles feminist themes, engaging in honest conversations about relationships, sex, and bodies while skillfully dismantling toxic masculinity. However, the characters Riggs and Alyson, flawed in their own ways, make it challenging to connect with or sympathize with them even as the narrative unfolds.

One significant drawback for me was the narrative structure. The foreshadowing of a future event from the beginning and intermittent updates weren’t engaging for me. Instead of building anticipation, it created a sense of detachment, making it difficult to immerse myself in the present story without constantly pondering the impending incident.

The predictability of the climax was disappointing, and despite my wishful thinking, the story unfolded as suspected. The "rescue" scene, while believable in terms of the rescuer and their actions, felt implausible in execution.

As a fan of YA fiction, this novel has left me hesitant about exploring more stories set in high school. While the book had its moments, character dynamics and narrative structure flaws impacted my overall enjoyment. "The Revenge Game" offers a unique blend of feminist exploration but falls short of delivering a genuinely satisfying and immersive reading experience.

I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. My opinions are 100% my own.

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Sailing the Seas of Whimsy: A Review of 'Tress of the Emerald Seas' by Brandon Sanderson

Tress of the Emerald Sea (The Cosmere)Tress of the Emerald Sea by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Year read: 2023

"Tress of the Emerald Sea" is a breathtaking departure from the familiar realms of Brandon Sanderson. Yet, it captures the essence of his storytelling brilliance in an enchanting and refreshing way. As a newcomer to Sanderson's work, I was captivated by the whimsical fantasy tale that unfolded within the emerald-green ocean.

The narrative, reminiscent of the classic romance in "The Princess Bride," takes an unexpected turn as Tress, a seemingly simple island girl, embarks on a daring adventure to save her love, Charlie. The audaciousness of Tress's journey, combined with the unlikely-to-succeed nature of her quest, kept me on the edge of my seat, eagerly anticipating each twist and turn.

The choice to listen to the audiobook proved fantastic, as the narrator skillfully brought the characters to life. Hoid, a character in Sanderson's Cosmere universe, took on the role of the narrator—albeit in a different guise than fans might expect. The narration added an extra layer of magic to an already enchanting story.

Sanderson's world-building prowess is fully displayed in "Tress of the Emerald Sea," expanding his Cosmere universe with finesse. The spore oceans filled with pirates and the perilous Midnight Sea created a vivid backdrop for Tress's journey, making every moment feel immersive and full of wonder.

This novel's ability to balance whimsy and depth makes it truly stand out. Initially portrayed as a simple islander, Tress's character undergoes remarkable growth throughout the tale. Her courage and determination in the face of danger inspire, and the story's emotional core resonates long after the final chapter.

"Tress of the Emerald Sea" is a delightful introduction to Brandon Sanderson's work, even for those unfamiliar with his usual writing style. It's a testament to his versatility as an author, showcasing his ability to craft an engaging and unique fantasy experience. This novel is an absolute must-read if you're a fan of adventure, romance, and the unexpected. Sanderson has once again proven his mastery of storytelling.

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Unveiling the Supernatural Layers: The Skinny on the Jinni

The Skinny on the Jinni (Paranormal Case Files #1)The Skinny on the Jinni by Gloria Lesher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Year read: 2021

I received a free copy of the ebook from BookSirens in exchange for my review. All opinions shared are 100% my own.

Blythe Golightly is a retired professor researching the paranormal. It used to be purely academic research until a tragic accident left her with an ability to connect with the paranormal personally. Now, while one of her best friends is dying, Blythe finds herself in the middle of a non-custodial parent kidnapping, international intrigue, and aiding a young woman possessed with a jinni. 

There was a lot going on in this cozy. I loved the older, more self-assured Blythe as the main protagonist in a book that was about 50/50 on characters you will love and characters you will not. Overall, though, I felt like it suffered a lot of first-in-a-series issues, such as trying to hurry through world-building, not fully developing characters, and some timeline errors. For example, a character is said to leave the room to talk to the police but then is still in the room talking to Blythe, then returns from talking to the police! That was definitely missed in editing. I stopped and reread it several times, trying to figure out what was going on in the scene.

The storytelling and writing were clumsy at times as well. A romantic relationship materializes mostly out of thin air toward the end of the book, and some of the descriptions were odd, such as repeatedly referring to a character’s ethnicity long past when the reader should have internalized who that character was and odd turns of phrase such as “beaming at me with indifference”.

That being said, I’ve seen many a cozy series grow and develop over the course of several books. The characters, especially Blythe, Soledad, and Najia, are all likable enough and intriguing enough that I want to know what happens next for them, so I will read the second book, In a Black Monk Funk. I like to give series at least two books before abandoning or committing to them. At this time, there are only two books published in the series.

If you love an older protagonist and a new paranormal entity - a JINNI - then I think you will enjoy this cozy. I have hopes for the series since I think there is a lot of potential for future stories.

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Friday, November 3, 2023

A Tasty Slice of Mystery and Quirkiness: Ashes to Ashes, Crust to Crust

Ashes to Ashes, Crust to Crust (Deep Dish Mysteries, #2)Ashes to Ashes, Crust to Crust by Mindy Quigley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Year read: 2023

I recently delved into the world of Mindy Quigley's "Ashes to Ashes, Crust to Crust," the second installment in the Deep Dish Mysteries series, and I must say, it was a delightful journey through the picturesque town of Geneva Bay, Wisconsin. While I can't quite give it a full five stars, several aspects of this book kept me eagerly turning the pages.

First and foremost, Delilah's character development is a notable highlight. In the first book of the series, she was a bit hard to warm up to, but in this installment, her independence and hard-headedness began to take on a more endearing quality. She's far from your typical sugar-coated heroine, which is a refreshing change. You might still want to smack some sense into her at times, but that's what makes her a compelling protagonist.

The supporting characters also shine in this story. We learn more about Auntie Biz and Sonya, adding depth to the ensemble cast. These characters bring their unique quirks and charm to the narrative, making the book richer and more engaging.

The central mystery, involving poison and a culinary contest rivalry, is intriguing and keeps you guessing throughout. However, the poison's portrayal might require some suspension of disbelief, as it doesn't entirely match reality. Nonetheless, it's a minor issue that doesn't significantly detract from the overall enjoyment of the story.

The way Mindy Quigley weaves the town's gangster history into the narrative is a fun and unique touch. It adds depth and flavor to the setting, making Geneva Bay feel more alive.

One minor complaint is that I wished for more appearances from Butterball the Cat, who has quickly become a beloved character in this series. Butterball's antics add humor and heart to the story, and I hope to see even more of this furry sidekick in future installments.

In conclusion, "Ashes to Ashes, Crust to Crust" is a worthy addition to the Deep Dish Mysteries series. While it may not be a perfect five stars due to minor quibbles, it offers an engaging mystery, well-developed characters, and a unique setting. If you're a fan of cozy mysteries with a dash of humor and a slice of quirky characters, this series is worth sinking your teeth into. I'm looking forward to what Mindy Quigley serves up next!

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Enchanting Adventures and Unlikely Love on Sinner's Isle: A Five-Star Fantasy Tale

Sinner's IsleSinner's Isle by Angela Montoya
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Year read: 2023

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book. My opinion is my own.

Sinner's Isle by Angela Montoya is an enchanting and action-packed adventure that had me hooked from the very first page. This fun and lighthearted read is a breath of fresh air in the world of YA fantasy, and it deserves every one of these five stars!

The story revolves around the spirited and powerful witch, Rosalinda, trapped on the remote and mysterious Sinner's Isle. Under the watchful eye of the power-hungry Doña Lucia, Rosa is preparing to be the centerpiece of this year's Offering, where the wealthy will choose a Majestic to serve them for life. The captivating blend of found family, friendship, and love weaves throughout the plot, making it a heartwarming and emotionally resonant tale.

The fated love elements in the story may be a bit heavy-handed, but strangely, they make you root for the pirate and the witch even more. Mariano, the charming and swashbuckling pirate, is a character that's impossible not to love, and Rosa's strength and determination are admirable.

What sets Sinner's Isle apart are the unexpected twists and turns that left me cheering and shedding happy tears. The whirlwind of the plot keeps you on the edge of your seat, and the diverse cast of characters, both likable and despicable, adds depth and complexity to the story.

This book reads like a Disney movie brought to life in the best way possible. The action is thrilling, the romance is swoon-worthy, and the plot twists are both surprising and satisfying. Angela Montoya's writing feels fresh and original, and this standalone fantasy novel marks a promising start to what I hope will be a new series. I can't wait to dive into this captivating world again and see where the author takes us next.

In summary, Sinner's Isle is a delightful gem of a book that delivers adventure, romance, and unexpected twists. If you're ready for an exhilarating journey filled with magic, intrigue, and unforgettable characters, this is the perfect choice. Angela Montoya has crafted a story worth celebrating and falling in love with. Don't miss out on this fantastic read!

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Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Enchanting and Whimsical: Sorcery of Thorns Delivers Pure Fantasy Magic

Sorcery of Thorns (Sorcery of Thorns, #1)Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Year read: 2019

"Sorcery of Thorns" by Margaret Rogerson is an extraordinary fantasy novel that transported me to a world of enchantment. From the very first page, I was captivated by the imaginative setting and the concept of "hero books" – books with personalities and whims that add a unique charm to the story. The book's blend of whimsy, flirtation, and humor makes it a delightful and emotionally resonant read. Rogerson's characters, especially Elisabeth, are brilliantly crafted, and her evolving relationship with Nathaniel Thorn is filled with complexity and intrigue.

The story's plot is rich with twists and turns, keeping you on the edge of your seat as you follow Elisabeth's journey from a foundling in a library to a heroine battling a powerful sorcerer. As her alliance with Nathaniel deepens, the book becomes a powerful exploration of self-discovery, challenging preconceived notions and the enduring power of love. "Sorcery of Thorns" is a must-read for fantasy lovers, offering a spellbinding tale that will make you laugh, cry, and believe in the magic of storytelling. Margaret Rogerson has genuinely delivered a five-star masterpiece. Bravo!

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Enchanted Escapades: A Journey Through 'The Girl in the Tower' by Katherine Arden

The Girl in the Tower (The Winternight Trilogy, #2)The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Year read: 2023

"The Girl in the Tower" by Katherine Arden, the second installment in the Winternight Trilogy, is an enchanting masterpiece that deserves every bit of its five-star rating. This book takes us on a breathtaking journey through the mystical, snow-laden landscapes of 14th-century Russia. This experience leaves a lasting imprint on the reader's heart.

One of the most remarkable aspects of this book is the character development of Vasya, the spirited and independent heroine we fell in love with in the first novel. Older and wiser, she is a character who has evolved beautifully, but she remains far from perfect. Her questionable choices and their inevitable consequences make her relatable and incredibly human. As a reader, you can't help but root for her and empathize with her struggles.

The blend of magical realism with historical Russia is a true marvel. Katherine Arden's gift for painting vivid and intricate landscapes in the reader's mind is unparalleled. Her descriptive prowess places you right in the heart of ancient Moscow, whether it's the bathhouses, the winding streets, or the imposing castles. It's a sensory experience that immerses you completely in the story.

Morozko, the frost demon, stands out as a captivating character. In many ways, he is one of the most human characters in the narrative, and the dynamics of his relationships with Vasya and others are enthralling. The tensions and intrigues within these relationships, combined with the constant fear of Vasya being discovered, create a gripping narrative that keeps you turning the pages with bated breath.

The Publisher's Description captures the essence of the story beautifully. Vasya's impossible choice, her daring adventures dressed as a boy, and her reunion with her loved ones in Moscow's inner circle set the stage for a tale filled with political intrigue, danger, and the ever-present threat to the city itself.

"The Girl in the Tower" is a book that will linger in your thoughts long after you've turned the last page. It's a testament to Katherine Arden's storytelling prowess and ability to transport readers to a bygone era filled with magic, mystery, and unforgettable characters. If you haven't already, this is a series you must embark on, and I, for one, cannot wait to dive into the third and final book.

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Sunday, October 15, 2023

An Enchanting but Mixed Brew: Review of 'Witch is When The Penny Dropped' by Adele Abbott

Witch is When The Penny Dropped (A Witch P.I. Mystery, #6)Witch is When The Penny Dropped by Adele Abbott
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Year read: 2023

"Witch is When The Penny Dropped" by Adele Abbott is the 6th installment in the series. While it has its merits, I'm still determining if I'll continue with the rest of the books. On the positive side, the series offers quick, easy reads, and a few characters manage to entertain. It's a great way to while away an afternoon.

One of the drawbacks is that there are a staggering number of books in the series (47 at the time of this review), making it feel like a significant commitment. Additionally, the main character, Jill, comes across as a major pushover, allowing various family members to take advantage of her, which can be frustrating.

The "The Dark One" plotline feels a bit contrived. It's somewhat puzzling that a character so dangerous doesn't draw more attention or effort from the witch community, especially given Jill's supposedly powerful grandmother. It leaves me questioning the consistency of the world-building.

On the positive side, I appreciate that not all the mysteries in the series revolve around murders, as this book includes a subplot about a struggling business. It adds variety to the storyline.

In summary, "Witch is When The Penny Dropped" has its merits with its easygoing style and occasional entertainment. Still, the long series and some frustrating character dynamics give me pause about continuing. If you're looking for a light and undemanding way to spend an afternoon, this series might be worth exploring but don't expect groundbreaking storytelling or character development.

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Charming Spellford Cove: Double, Double, Tart and Trouble Delights

Double, Double, Tart and Trouble (Spellford Cove, #2)Double, Double, Tart and Trouble by Samantha Silver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Year read: 2023

Double, Double, Tart and Trouble by Samantha Silver is a delightful addition to the Spellford Cove series and a quick read. I have thus far enjoyed this series, and while it may not break new ground in its subgenre, it's undeniably pleasant and full of characters that you can't help but fall in love with. You know, the ones you just can't help but get attached to.

In this installment, we find ourselves knee-deep in yet another murder investigation in Spellford Cove, and it's clear that the little town has more than its fair share of poisonings.

The only downside of this book is its brevity. The story unfolds quite rapidly, and, much like the protagonist, Robin, we're quickly led to the conclusion about the identity of the murderer and their motivations. The murder plot seems to take a back seat to the relationships between the core characters, which are much more enjoyable to explore.

Ultimately, Double, Double, Tart, and Trouble is a delightful and enjoyable addition to the Spellford Cove series. It may follow some familiar tropes, but the camaraderie and charm of the characters keep us coming back for more.

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Baseball, Cotton Fields, and Childhood Innocence: A Review of 'A Painted House' by John Grisham

A Painted HouseA Painted House by John Grisham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Year read: 2023

"A Painted House" by John Grisham is a four-star novel that masterfully immerses readers in the authentic, day-to-day lives of people in early 1950s America, making it a must-read for historical fiction enthusiasts. This book was a revelation for me, someone whose perception of the early 1950s in America is primarily shaped by television and family stories of well-off urban living.

Grisham's narrative takes us on a captivating journey through the hardships faced by an early 1950s cotton farmer and the even harsher realities endured by sharecroppers, hill people, and Mexican laborers. The stark contrast between these lives is vividly portrayed. It leaves a lasting impact, offering a deep and authentic glimpse into history.

One of the most charming aspects of this book is the choice of a child narrator, Luke Chandler. His perspective adds a fresh and almost innocent lens through which we view the era. Through Luke's eyes, we witness the unfolding events and secrets that shape the lives of the Chandlers. Although, on occasion, I felt that Luke's character came across as older and more mature than his tender age of seven, this might be attributed to my modern understanding of childhood maturity.

As a bonus for baseball enthusiasts, the thread of St. Louis Cardinals and the discussions of baseball woven throughout the story add an extra layer of charm. This aspect of the novel will undoubtedly appeal to fans of the sport, as it provides a nostalgic connection to the era.

In summary, "A Painted House" is a well-crafted piece of historical fiction that offers a moving journey through a challenging period in American history. With its authentic portrayal of everyday life in the 1950s, combined with the innocence of its child narrator, this book is compelling. Its minor flaws aside, it is a book that entertains and profoundly appreciates past struggles.

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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Charming Christmas Connections in 'Love in Winter Wonderland'

Love in Winter WonderlandLove in Winter Wonderland by Abiola Bello
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Year read: 2023

"Love in Winter Wonderland" by Abiola Bello is a heartwarming YA Christmas romance that I'd rate at four stars. The narrative revolves around two teenagers who join forces through social media to rescue a struggling Black-owned indie bookshop, delivering a heartwarming message of friendship, teamwork, and determination.

Ariel and Trey's chemistry was beautifully authentic, evolving from strangers to friends to a deeper, more romantic connection without any forced moments. Ariel, in particular, was a standout character with her multifaceted personality, dealing with weight issues, grief over her father's loss, scholarship applications to art school, and bullies, all while being a vital friend to Trey and helping save the bookshop.

However, while Ariel shone brightly, Trey's character was less likable. His actions in his relationship with Blair, like forgetting her birthday and dancing with another girl in front of her, made it hard to connect with him. Overall, "Love in Winter Wonderland" is a heartwarming read offering an enjoyable holiday-themed journey filled with friendship, love, and support for independent businesses.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Heartfelt and Authentic: A Review of 'Girls Like Girls' by Hayley Kiyoko

Girls Like GirlsGirls Like Girls by Hayley Kiyoko
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Year read: 2023

"Girls Like Girls" by Hayley Kiyoko takes readers on a heartwarming journey of self-discovery and love. At the heart of the story is Coley, a 17-year-old who finds herself grappling with the recent loss of her mother, thrusting her into a new environment and leaving her vulnerable and uncertain. Kiyoko's portrayal of Coley's emotional journey is incredibly poignant, allowing readers to connect deeply with her vulnerability and doubts.

When Coley crosses paths with Sonya, an immediate connection ignites. Kiyoko masterfully weaves their relationship, capturing the exhilaration, tenderness, and uncertainty of first love. Coley's doubts about her own worthiness of love and Sonya's journey as someone who has never been with a girl before adding layers of depth and authenticity to their evolving connection.

Set in a small town in Oregon, this book beautifully explores the challenges of teenage life and the courage it takes to embrace one's true self. With relatable characters and a celebration of LGBTQ+ experiences, Kiyoko's storytelling captures the essence of love and acceptance. "Girls Like Girls" was a captivating read.

Disclosure Statement:

I received a free Advance Reader Copy (ARC) of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influences my opinions or the content of my review. My feedback is voluntary and unbiased. My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an opportunity to read and review this book.

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Glitter, Guts, and Growth: A 5-Star Journey with "Pumpkin" by Julie Murphy

Pumpkin (Dumplin', #3)Pumpkin by Julie Murphy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Year read: 2023


"Pumpkin" by Julie Murphy is an absolute gem and another five-star addition to her Dumplin' series. Julie Murphy's ability to create heartwarming stories with authentic characters is remarkable, and "Pumpkin" is no exception. This book brings Waylon's journey to life delightfully while seamlessly weaving the stories of Dumplin' and Puddin' into the background.

What sets Julie Murphy apart is her commitment to portraying youth with the depth and complexity they deserve. In "Pumpkin," Waylon is a refreshing protagonist—a fat, openly gay boy navigating the challenges of a small West Texas town. His journey towards self-acceptance and embracing his true self is redemptive and touching, making it a story that resonates with readers of all ages.

One of the standout features of "Pumpkin" is the authenticity with which Murphy writes her characters. Rather than resorting to stereotypes, she portrays today's youth as intelligent, self-assured, knowledgeable, and kind. This portrayal is refreshing and reflects the reality of our time's diverse and resilient youth.

Another aspect that deserves applause is how the author handles the high school bully character. Instead of giving him unnecessary page time, Murphy focuses on Waylon's personal growth and the positive aspects of his journey. This subtle yet effective approach allows the story to shine even brighter.

The publisher's description gives you a taste of the chaos that ensues when Waylon and Hannah are nominated for prom court. The mishaps, glitter, and the unexpected connection between Waylon and Tucker Watson add depth and humor to the narrative. It's a story that beautifully showcases the importance of living in the moment and embracing who you are, all while making us laugh and tear up.

In conclusion, "Pumpkin" is a must-read for fans of Julie Murphy's previous works and anyone who appreciates a heartwarming, authentic, and genuinely enjoyable story. It's a testament to the power of self-discovery, friendship, and the courage to be unapologetically yourself. I can't wait to see what Julie Murphy has for us next!

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Monday, September 25, 2023

Unveiling the Potential: A Review of 'Fire & Ice' by Michele Barrow-Belisle

Fire & Ice (Faerie Song Trilogy, #1)Fire & Ice by Michele Barrow-Belisle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Year read: 2015 

Full disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All the opinions I express here are entirely my own.

There's no denying that this book brims with potential. However, this inaugural installment falls short of fully realizing that potential. The primary issue lies in the need for more rigorous editing. There were moments where the dialogue felt hurried and underdeveloped, so much so that I wondered if I had somehow missed pages in my ebook. Numerous plotlines were introduced and then seemingly abandoned, leaving me longing for closure.

Lorelei, our protagonist, struck me as a character who sometimes bore an uncanny resemblance to Bella Swan from the Twilight series. She appeared to lack substantial growth or development, consistently rushing headlong into situations that landed her in the damsel-in-distress role. When we meet her at the book's outset, she presents as a strong, silent loner with hidden talents. The rapidity with which Lorelei succumbs to swooning over Adrius feels somewhat incongruent with the girl we first encounter.

Admittedly, there were moments of frustration in this book. However, Michele Barrow-Belisle has crafted a captivating world filled with intricate details and vivid descriptions. Despite the book’s challenges, I was irresistibly drawn into the enchanting realm of faerie, brimming with magical creatures and boundless possibilities.

Now, in complete honesty, I won't be reading the sequel, "Bittersweet." While this book certainly intrigued me with its world-building, the character development and plot execution left something to be desired. With this series's potential, I earnestly hope it receives the attention of a skilled editor and undergoes revision. Such a revision could elevate it to greatness, but I'll be exploring other literary realms for now.

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Unlocking the Magic of "Secrets and Scallywags": A Five-Star Journey into Cozy Mystery Adventure

Secrets and Scallywags (Magical Mystery Book Club #5)Secrets and Scallywags by Elizabeth Pantley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


"Secrets and Scallywags" by Elizabeth Pantley is a delightful addition to the Magical Mystery Book Club series, and it deserves a solid five-star rating! This book takes the cozy mystery genre to a new level, offering readers a unique and enchanting experience.

One of the standout features of this series is the imaginative concept of book club members stepping into the world of the books they choose to read. In "Secrets and Scallywags," we embark on a swashbuckling adventure alongside the club members as they become entangled in the mysteries of pirates and stolen treasure. It's a refreshing departure from the typical murder-centric cozy mysteries, making it perfect for those who prefer a lighter, more whimsical approach to the genre.

Elizabeth Pantley's storytelling prowess shines brightly in this installment. The island community setting is charmingly vivid, and the mystery of the washed-up pirate boat with its rumored treasure adds excitement and intrigue to the plot. As the club members meet the spectral crew of the ill-fated ship, the story takes on a magical quality that keeps you glued to the pages.

What sets this book and the entire series apart is the camaraderie and diversity of the book club members. Their quirky personalities, unique strengths, and humorous interactions add depth and charm to the narrative. It's easy to become invested in their adventures and root for them as they strive to solve the mysteries that bind them to the books.

The ultimate quest to find the treasure and release the ghosts is a thrilling ride filled with clever twists and unexpected turns. Pantley masterfully keeps you guessing while delivering heartwarming moments of friendship and courage. The resolution is satisfying, and the journey is one you will remember.

"Secrets and Scallywags" is not just a cozy mystery; it's a delightful escape into the world of books within books. It's a reminder of the magic that can be found in reading and the power of imagination. Whether you're a fan of cozy mysteries or simply looking for a unique and engaging read, this book—and the entire Magical Mystery Book Club series—is an absolute gem. I've enjoyed the whole series and can't wait to see where Elizabeth Pantley takes us next!

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Monday, September 18, 2023

Magical Mystery: 5-Star Review of 'Whiskers and Lies' by Sofie Kelly

Whiskers and Lies (A Magical Cats Mystery, #14)Whiskers and Lies by Sofie Kelly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Year read: 2023

"Whiskers and Lies" by Sofie Kelly is an absolute gem in the beloved series that keeps improving with each installment. As a devoted fan, this book deserves a stellar 5-star rating and more!

Kathleen Paulson, our favorite librarian, once again finds herself in a perplexing mystery, and this time, it's a thrilling ride from start to finish. The Halloween-themed backdrop adds an extra layer of excitement to the story, and the author's vivid descriptions of spooky cupcakes had my mouth watering.

The real stars of the show are Kathleen's enchanting feline companions, Hercules and Owen. Their magical abilities and unwavering support make every adventure all the more enchanting. The bond between Kathleen and her cats is heartwarming and beautifully portrayed.

Sofie Kelly's writing is as enchanting as ever, with her knack for weaving an intricate plot while keeping the reader thoroughly engaged. Her characters are relatable and endearing, and her storytelling prowess shines brightly in "Whiskers and Lies."

In summary, "Whiskers and Lies" is a must-read for fans of the series. Fans will also be excited by the surprise ending! It's a delightful combination of cozy mystery, magical elements, and unforgettable characters. I can't recommend it enough, and I eagerly anticipate this excellent series's next adventure!

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Blooming Intrigue: A Review of 'The Chamomile Conspiracy' – A Cozy Mystery with a Botanical Twist

The Chamomile Conspiracy : A Garden Lover Cozy Mystery (Seasons of the Witch Book 1)The Chamomile Conspiracy : A Garden Lover Cozy Mystery by Louise Marvin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am a sucker for cat mysteries - and this one has some pretty adorable cats. I can't wait to learn more about them and follow along on their continued adventures. The real "sidekick" star of this show is the PLANTS, though. Our heroine, Pax, can communicate with plants. The plant facts and the personalities of each plant that help her along the way really add a new and fun angle to the cozy mystery genre.

Pax's world is upturned when she goes to visit her friend, Miss Millie, for the weekend and finds Miss Millie dying - her final words are accusations of murder and poison! Pax has only known Miss Millie for a couple of years but felt a strong bond and kinship with the sweet nonagenarian instantly. Pax is from the Harbor area but left when she was only 6 years old. Her parents passed away, and her hyper-controlling, emotionally distant grandparents took her to Boston. Pax has always longed for family and to know her history - especially her mother's family, whom her grandparents have denied her learning about. Revelations abound throughout the story as Pax finds herself, her people, and her family.

A fun start to a cozy mystery series. A lot smoother than many firsts! The world-building is already very engaging. I look forward to following along for more adventures with Pax, Sam, Angie, the plants, the cats, and the whole Harbor community.

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

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The Witches of Bone Hill: A Spellbinding Tale of Family, Love, and Redemption - 5 Stars!

The Witches of Bone HillThe Witches of Bone Hill by Ava Morgyn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Spellbinding Tale of Family, Love, and Redemption - 5 Stars!

"The Witches of Bone Hill" by Ava Morgyn is an enchanting masterpiece that effortlessly weaves elements of the supernatural, family secrets, and heartwarming romance together. From start to finish, this novel captivated me and left me craving more of the mystical world it brought to life.

One of the standout features of this book is its perfect balance between the eerie and the horrifying. Morgyn's ability to create a palpable sense of unease without diving into gratuitous horror is commendable. The atmosphere she crafts in Bone Hill is tinged with just the right amount of creepiness to keep you eagerly turning the pages without needing to hide under the covers.

But what truly sets this book apart is its portrayal of the bonds between women, both living and dead. The sisters, Cordelia and Eustace, are complex and relatable characters, and their journey of discovery and reconciliation is heartwarming and empowering. The themes of female solidarity and the strength that can be drawn from generations of women coming together to protect one another are beautifully explored throughout the narrative.

The romance between Cordelia and the enigmatic groundskeeper adds a layer of passion and depth to the story. While it may seem fast-paced initially, their connection is palpable. As a reader, I found myself cheering them on, hoping for their happiness amidst the supernatural chaos surrounding them.

As for Eustace and her gifts, I would have loved to delve deeper into her character and abilities. Nevertheless, the story maintains a compelling balance between the different narrative threads, leaving readers eager to explore more of this fascinating world.

The build-up to the climax is intense, and Morgyn expertly keeps the suspense at a fever pitch. You'll find yourself holding your breath as the secrets of Bone Hill unravel, and the resolution is nothing short of redemptive and heartwarming.

In summary, "The Witches of Bone Hill" is a captivating blend of mystery, romance, and the supernatural, all wrapped in a tale of family bonds and self-discovery. Ava Morgyn has crafted a spellbinding story that will enchant you from the first page. It's a must-read for anyone who enjoys stories of witches, family secrets, and the enduring power of love and sisterhood. Five stars don't do it justice; it's a literary gem that deserves all the praise it receives.

Disclosure Statement:

I received a free Advance Reader Copy (ARC) of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influences my opinions or the content of my review. My feedback is voluntary and unbiased. My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an opportunity to read and review this book.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2023

American Royals (American Royals, #1) by Katharine McGee

American Royals (American Royals, #1)American Royals by Katharine McGee
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

American Royals by Katharine McGee had an interesting premise with the idea of an American monarchy, but it left me feeling somewhat unsatisfied. While I was excited about exploring an alternate universe perspective on American royalty, I found the characters to be hard to connect with or genuinely care about.

Throughout the book, the author invests a lot of time building various relationships, only to crush nearly all of them by the end. This left me feeling somewhat frustrated and wondering about the point of it all. The only character who consistently acted in a manner consistent with their personality was the villainous Daphne Deighton, which made her oddly intriguing in a story filled with characters who seemed to lack depth.

As I considered whether to continue with the series, I took a quick look at the reviews for the second book, and they didn't inspire confidence. It seems that my concerns about the characters and their development may persist in subsequent installments.

While American Royals had a promising concept, the execution didn't fully deliver for me. If you're looking for a more immersive exploration of an alternate American monarchy, you might be left wanting.

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Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Playing the Witch Card by K.J. Dell'Antonia

Playing the Witch CardPlaying the Witch Card by K.J. Dell'Antonia
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"Playing the Witch Card" by K.J. Dell'Antonia had the potential to be a captivating tale, blending elements of romance, magic, and family drama. However, it fell short of expectations due to several key issues.

The book's first chapter left me feeling disoriented and disconnected from the story. It was filled with emo foreshadowing and references to unexplained elements, making it a challenging start for readers. Additionally, the protagonist's conflicting desires regarding her hometown felt implausible. Wanting to return but rejecting the day-to-day aspects of her hometown life seemed inconsistent and made it difficult to relate to her character.

One of the most frustrating aspects of the book was the main character's stubborn refusal to acknowledge the importance of magic despite clear evidence that it played a significant role in her life. Her flimsy reasons for rejecting it added to the frustration. Furthermore, her decision to move back to her hometown under the ultimatum of "learn magic or leave forever" felt contrived and questionable.

The character of Flair is unlikable and comes across as a know-it-all who is willing to disregard the well-being of others to achieve her goals. Rooting for her or becoming emotionally invested in her journey was challenging. Ultimately, unlikable characters, a rushed plot, and unlikely and bizarre character choices hindered the story's potential.

While the publisher's description promised a blend of "Gilmore Girls" and "Practical Magic," the execution fell short of delivering on this enticing premise. Overall, "Playing the Witch Card" had potential but failed to live up to it due to these issues.

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Witches Get Stuff Done by Molly Harper

Witches Get Stuff Done (Starfall Point, #1)Witches Get Stuff Done by Molly Harper
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**Three-Star Review: Witches Get Stuff Done by Molly Harper**

"Witches Get Stuff Done" by Molly Harper presents a mix of magical intrigue and charming characters in a debut installment that promises potential for future growth. While the story's premise and characters are engaging, notable issues hinder a complete immersion into the magical world the author is building.

One of the book's main setbacks lies in its continuity and spatial positioning. The occurrence of characters hugging across counters or moving unconscious individuals with implausible ease disrupts the reader's ability to suspend disbelief. The concept of time becomes somewhat muddled, as when a "few days" are only two days. Such discrepancies are distracting and prevent the seamless flow that a fantasy story demands.

The novel's pacing leans toward the brisk side, resulting in whirlwind relationships and difficulty keeping track of time progression. Relationships that develop rapidly might leave readers struggling to invest fully in the emotional arcs. However, despite these pacing issues, the characters shine as the book's redeeming quality. Their likability and distinct personalities contribute to the overall appeal of the story.

As a first installment in a series, some leniency in judgment can be granted, acknowledging the space for growth and development. The publisher's description of the book alludes to a promising foundation, witchy powers, a ghost-filled mansion, and a captivating coven dynamic. This initial offering lays the groundwork for future exploration of the magical world, allowing room for the series to mature and evolve.

One notable misstep in the book is the awkward placement of a single explicit scene. It feels out of sync with the overall tone and pacing, detracting from the story's cohesion. The impression is that the book tries to cater to a broad audience but attempts too many angles, resulting in a slightly disjointed reading experience.

In conclusion, "Witches Get Stuff Done" introduces readers to a world of magic, ghosts, and potential sisterhood, with engaging characters that mitigate some of the narrative's shortcomings. While continuity, pacing, and thematic focus detract from a fully immersive experience, the groundwork laid for future books in the series offers hope for improvement. Those willing to overlook the initial hiccups might find themselves eager to see how the world of Starfall Point evolves in subsequent installments.

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