Tag: Book Review

Book Review #18: Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh

Posted 11th January 2018 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 10 Comments

Book Review #18: Slave to Sensation by Nalini SinghSlave to Sensation by Nalini Singh
Series: Psy-Changeling #1
Published by Gollancz on March 10th 2010 (first published September 1st 2006)
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 356
Format: E-Book
Source: Owned
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars
Heat Level: 3 Flames

In a world that denies emotions, where the ruling Psy punish any sign of desire, Sascha Duncan must conceal the feelings that brand her as flawed. To reveal them would be to sentence herself to the horror of 'rehabilitation' - the complete psychic erasure of her personality . . .

Both human and animal, Lucas Hunter is a Changeling hungry for the very sensations the Psy disdain. After centuries of uneasy co-existence, these two races are now on the verge of war over the brutal murder of several Changeling women. Lucas is determined to find the Psy killer who butchered his packmate, and Sascha is his ticket into their closely guarded society. But he soon discovers that this ice-cold Psy is very capable of passion - and that the animal in him is fascinated by her. Caught between their conflicting worlds, Lucas and Sascha must remain bound to their identities - or sacrifice everything for a taste of darkest temptation . . .

Yes. It took me forever to start this series. Let us ignore the fact that I’m yet to continue it (I’m going to!)

Not gonna lie. I enjoy reading about alpha males for the most part. Unf. Lucas. A couple of things happened where I thought ‘that could be problematic if taken out of context…or if I read too far between the lines’. But fiction is good for figuring out what makes one uncomfortable (does this make sense?) I was fine with Lucas’s dominant attitude on the page, but wouldn’t dig it in real life.

So. Lucas is our alpha shifter. Sascha is a Psy with a secret. She’s broken, and has to fight to keep it together so as not to reveal herself – it would have dire consequences which would cost her life. I loved these two together. Sascha exploring new things and what it was like to feel; I really connected with her. Lucas was charming, so sure of himself; though he also has secrets.

The secondary characters were great as well. I guess I’ll be able to learn more about them as I continue reading!

I was quite fascinated with the Psy and changeling worlds to be honest. There’s a familiarity of course (there’s also humans in this world), but it had some really interesting elements, like PsyNet and the links between people.

Slave to Sensation had an interesting premise that intrigued me. I’m not a huge fan of romance, but I think paranormal romance might be my thing (or is this Urban Fantasy? Teach me the difference lol). Nalini Singh has a way with words that sucks you right in to the story, I’m so glad I finally came to the party and read this!

Rating Report
Plot
four-stars
Characters
four-stars
Writing
four-half-stars
Pacing
four-stars
Overall: 4.1

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Book Review #17: Fright Court by Mindy Klasky

Posted 4th January 2018 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 10 Comments

Oh my gosh, after more than a month I am posting a review. Whaaaat?! I feel very rusty though, sorry if this seems stuttery (it sure felt that way writing it).

Book Review #17: Fright Court by Mindy KlaskyFright Court by Mindy Klasky
Series: Fright Court #1
Published by Res Ipsa Press on March 22nd 2011
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance
Format: E-Book
Source: Owned
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: four-half-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

Sarah Anderson has found her dream job: Clerk of Court for the District of Columbia Night Court. Dream job, that is, until she’s attacked in the open courtroom by a vampire defendant. And until she’s forced to take self-defense lessons from her boss, the enigmatic vampire James Morton. And until she learns that she can’t share the truth about any of that with her best friend, Allison Ward – even over delectable cupcakes from the Cake Walk bakery.

Soon, Sarah is surrounded by vampires, griffins, and sprites – all members of a secret supernatural court. And when a deceptively easy-going reporter starts to ask questions, Sarah wonders just what answers she is supposed to give….

Fright Court is a reader-supported, serialized novel about lawyers, vampires, and cupcakes.

My new fave! Sign me up for this ride! I need to read more of the series ASAP – and then I discovered there’s only one more book, written 6 years after the first. Am I allowed to be worried?!

Fright Court is apparently set within another fictional world created by Klasky in the Jane Madison Series (which I’ve not read, but I’m going to!) You definitely don’t have to have read one to get the other.

In Fright Court, Sarah has landed a new job as a clerk for the night court. But what she doesn’t know is that as well as the regular court proceedings, there’s also supernatural trials. Vampires? Check. Fae? Definitely.

Sarah manages to get dragged into vampire politics (of course). There’s a reporter sniffing around who wants to do a story on the Night Court, which James agrees to, as it might give them leverage against those that think the court being open at night is a waste of time.

There is a twist (that I will not reveal, because spoilers) and I thought it added a great element to the story. I am so curious about where it goes next!

I really enjoyed Sarah, and her boss, James. What I assume are the beginnings of a love triangle develop – however, as much as a loathe those, I can work with this.

The writing and pacing were great. Sarah has human drama as much as supernatural, and I liked how her worlds clashed. As much as I enjoyed this, it did feel a little incomplete (or maybe I’m projecting, because I just wanted more!) It was a very amusing read – I caught myself laughing out loud more than once.

Definitely recommend if you’re a fan of light-hearted paranormal/fantasy reads.

Rating Report
Plot
four-half-stars
Characters
five-stars
Writing
four-stars
Pacing
four-half-stars
Cover
four-stars
Overall: 4.4

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Book Review #15: A Fatal Collection by Mary Ellen Hughes

Posted 8th November 2017 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 19 Comments

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review #15: A Fatal Collection by Mary Ellen HughesA Fatal Collection by Mary Ellen Hughes
Series: Keepsake Cove Mystery #1
Published by Midnight Ink on November 8th 2017
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 264
Format: E-Book
Source: NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Callie Reed makes a long overdue visit to her aunt Melodie, who lives in a fairy-tale cottage in quaint Keepsake Cove, home to a bevy of souvenir and collectible shops on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Just as they’re beginning to reconnect, Callie discovers her aunt’s body on the floor of her music box shop. Grief-stricken, Callie finds she can’t accept Melodie’s death being called accidental. How could her strong and healthy aunt take such a fatal fall? And why was she there in the middle of the night?

As Callie searches for the truth, signs seem to come from her late aunt through a favorite music box, urging Callie on. Or are they warnings? If Callie isn’t careful, she could meet a similar deadly fate amid Melodie’s collection.

A Fatal Collection is my first experience of Mary Ellen Hughes and it certainly won’t be my last! I was a bit worried because this started at breakneck speed, and I thought it would continue that way and be a nightmare pacing wise; but it was really enjoyable.

The mystery starts almost straight away. Callie is visiting her Aunt Melodie for the first time in years, they spend an evening catching up; but the next morning Callie awakes to find her Aunt dead in her own store. Her death is quickly ruled an accident, and as Callie is preparing to return home she’s told that she has inherited everything.

She sees this as an opportunity for a fresh start and to leave her deadbeat boyfriend (I’m so glad he only featured in phone calls!) But she’s unsettled by how quickly everything was resolved, and wonders if there’s more to her Aunt’s death.

Keepsake Cove is a community of people with stores that sell collectibles (I found that a bit ridiculous, but I guess perhaps somewhere it could be a thing). Melodie’s store sells music boxes, and Callie takes her time to learn all the stock in the shop and goes on a mission to meet the other shop owners in the area.

There’s some interesting small community dynamics going on here, with some bickering between parties and some suspicious folk around. I enjoyed the secondary characters and I hope we see more of them in the future. There’s also a slight hint at a potential romance that was pretty cute, but in no way impacted on the main plot.

I liked that Callie wasn’t chummy with the police, and indeed, they barely featured at all. I did peg the murderer soon after meeting them, they just didn’t seem right to me. And I do enjoy being right haha

After the initial ‘whoa this is happening really quickly!’ moment at the start, the pacing turned out to be great. It flowed at a steady pace and the writing certainly kept me engaged.

This was a really enjoyable cozy mystery, though a bit predictable. I’m definitely looking forward to continuing the series!

Rating Report
Plot
four-stars
Characters
four-stars
Writing
four-stars
Pacing
three-half-stars
Cover
four-stars
Overall: 3.9

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Book Review #13: A Scone to Die For by H.Y. Hanna

Posted 30th October 2017 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 12 Comments

Book Review #13: A Scone to Die For by H.Y. HannaA Scone to Die For by H.Y. Hanna
Series: Oxford Tearoom Mysteries #1
Published by Wisheart Press on January 17th 2016
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 335
Format: E-Book
Source: Owned
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

When an American tourist is murdered with a scone in Gemma Rose’s quaint Oxfordshire tearoom, she suddenly finds herself apron-deep in a mystery involving long-buried secrets from Oxford’s past.

Armed with her insider knowledge of the University and with the help of four nosy old ladies from the village (not to mention a cheeky little tabby cat named Muesli), Gemma sets out to solve the mystery—all while dealing with her matchmaking mother and the return of her old college love, Devlin O’Connor, now a dashing CID detective.

But with the body count rising and her business going bust, can Gemma find the killer before things turn to custard?

A Scone to Die For is the first book in a cozy mystery series – Oxford Tearoom Mysteries. I was drawn to it because Lola reviewed it on her blog, and the cover is so cute! I’m a sucker for a cutesy cozy cover.

Cozy mystery staples: Cats? Check. Baking? Check. For some reason the main character finds herself investigating a murder despite police involvement? Check.

This little novel was very easy to read and went along at a good pace, but some things I found weird/annoying. For example:

  • Cassie’s exasperation at Gemma’s simple curiosity about a piece of paper she saw felt too strong and really odd.
  • Gemma missed Jaffa Cakes while in Sydney. If I can go to a supermarket in Perth (and before that, an independent grocery or British food shop) and find them in every international section, I’m SURE you can get them in Sydney! I love Jaffa Cakes, and have been getting them here for 20 years.
  • Am I nitpicking? I feel like I’m nitpicking.
  • Devlin’s need to over-explain things felt like he thought Gemma was stupid, which in turn made me dislike him a bit. And why would he even discuss a case with her in such detail? They’ve not seen each other for 8 years!

On the plus side, I liked much of it:

  • The old ladies were a delight; sticking their noses in and doing a bit of sleuthing.
  • I twigged who the killer was right before Gemma did, talk about stressful! This one had a pretty good mystery, and it kept me guessing. I had conversations with myself that went: “No…wait…could it be? Too obvious. Or is it? Maybe the author is trying to psych me out…” and so on.
  • Gemma herself is a good main character, she’s believable and likeable; even if she does make some questionable decisions.
  • Cats! Recipes! Is it a true cozy without at least one of these things? Bonus points for both haha. I love that Muesli is based on the author’s cat (who is adorable) look at that face!

Overall this was a good cozy mystery, but had a few flaws with characterisation in my opinion; not everyone seemed natural. But I’m sure as the series goes on and I get to know everyone better, it will all gel together (having now read a few of these books, I am correct. This seems to be the case with a lot of cozy series!)

It did make me realise that I prefer my cozies set in the UK. I’m not entirely sure why, it’s probably all the BBC tv shows I watch starring amateur detectives (or maybe it’s just Midsomer Murders, which seems to always be on, and I always watch it!) I’ve read a number of American ones, but quaint and English is definitely my preferred setting.

If you like cozy mysteries (and sweet foods) I would definitely recommend this for a lazy day of reading! It’s a good start to a series that just gets better as it goes along.

Also, the first book is currently free on Amazon (kindle) 🙂

Rating Report
Plot
four-stars
Characters
four-stars
Writing
four-half-stars
Pacing
four-stars
Overall: 4.1

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Book Review #12: Taken by Jennifer Dawson

Posted 23rd October 2017 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 12 Comments

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review #12: Taken by Jennifer DawsonTaken by Jennifer Dawson
Series: Undone #4
Published by Jennifer Dawson Publishing on October 24th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica, Romance
Pages: 407
Format: E-Book
Source: Author
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: four-stars
Series Rating: five-stars
Heat Level: 4 Flames

Brandon Townsend III

Rich, beautiful and entitled, once upon a time he was king of the trust fund babies. He took anything and anyone he wanted, until one day, he walked away without explanation. Now, he’s an untouchable mystery, one I’m determined to crack. And I’m not talking about anything mundane like his bed. No, I want something far more valuable.

I want into his head.

*

Veronica Westwood has blown into my life creating chaos in her wake, and I don’t know quite what to do with her. Rich, beautiful and entitled, she represents everything I’ve sworn off in life, and her being unexpectedly clever doesn’t change that. Instincts warn me to stay away, and that’s just what I intend to do, no matter her attempts to wear me down. I’m good at saying no, or at least I was until I met her. I don’t understand it, but she’s like a weakness, and a man like me can’t have weakness.

I simply won’t allow it.

Taken is the fourth book in the Undone series by Jennifer Dawson. You can find my reviews for the previous novels here:

1) Crave   2) Sinful   2.5) Unraveled   3) Debauched

I think…though I could be wrong, that this is also the last book of the series 😮 *sobs*

Brandon has always intrigued me, he’s the most detached of all of our dominant men, but perhaps the most interesting. I was excited to see that we were going to get his story, and jumped at the chance to read an ARC copy when it was offered.

Taken is dual POV, both Brandon and Veronica give us insight into the story. Brandon was born into a rich family; but opted to shun his status as the #1 trust fund kid and hit out on his own. He still appears at events every so often to appease his parents, and it’s at one of these events that he runs into Veronica. Or rather, she tracks him down.

Veronica, like Brandon, wants out of her privileged life. She’s determined to venture out into the world on her own, but to do that she needs a job. And that’s where Brandon comes in. Veronica is relentless in challenging him to hire her for a management position he’s had open for almost a year. And while he puts up a fight, Brandon loses and against his better instincts caves and gives Veronica what she wants. But it turns out they want so much more from each other. Try as Brandon might, they just can’t resist and it’s explosive (in more ways than one!)

It was great seeing all the characters from previous novels again, and to have a little more continuation to their stories and where they’ve all ended up.

I think Taken was a wee bit more kinky than the other instalments, but I didn’t find it as hot? Which probably makes no sense; I think the last one, Debauched, was a bit steamier. But it might just be how my brain works.

While Brandon and Veronica aren’t my favourite couple of the series, they were sure fun to read about! There’s a bit of drama toward the end that sort of threw me off the pace a bit. I could understand Brandon’s reaction, but it also perplexed me. I wanted to reach into the pages and give him a shake; he drove me (and Veronica) crazy for a short amount of time.

Dawson’s writing is addictive as usual, and I was up until just before 2:30am to finish this novel. I could not put it down! And then I woke up thinking about it, and then I just kept thinking about it.

At some point in the near future, I’m going to give this entire series a re-read. It’s worth it!

If you like your romance on the kinky side, I cannot recommend this series enough!

Rating Report
Plot
three-half-stars
Characters
four-stars
Writing
five-stars
Pacing
four-stars
Overall: 4.1

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Book Review #11: Christmas at the Gin Shack by Catherine Miller

Posted 18th October 2017 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 12 Comments

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review #11: Christmas at the Gin Shack by Catherine MillerChristmas at the Gin Shack by Catherine Miller
Published by HQ Digital on October 13th 2017
Genres: Adult, Christmas, Holiday
Pages: 384
Format: E-Book
Source: NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: two-half-stars

Welcome in the festive season with love, laughter and the perfect G&T in Christmas at the Gin Shack – the most uplifting holiday read of 2017!

Gingle bells, gingle bells, gingle all the way…

Olive Turner might have lived through eighty-four Christmases, but she’ll never get bored of her favourite time of year. And this one’s set to be extra-special. It’s the Gin Shack’s first Christmas – and there’s a gin-themed weekend and a cocktail competition on the cards!

But, beneath the dazzle of fairy lights and the delicious scent of mince-pies, Olive smells a rat. From trespassers in her beloved beach hut to a very unfunny joke played on her friends, it seems that someone is missing a dose of good cheer.

Olive knows she’s getting on a bit – but is she really imagining that someone in the little seaside town is out to steal Christmas? More importantly, can she create the perfect gin cocktail before Christmas Eve – in time to save the day?

I wasn’t aware at the time of requesting this book, but it’s a sequel to The Gin Shack on the Beach, which I have not read. And I think my experience suffered because of this.

After reading a couple of chapters I figured out something must have come before, so ended up googling and getting a brief rundown of the first book. Because we dived right into Olive’s life, without any recap at all, I had no idea who was who, who I was meant to like or who was relevant to the plot. There were so many side-plots and so many characters I really strugged to connect with anyone, and therefore didn’t really care about the distracting drama.

This would have been a cute, Christmassy read; but there was apparently evil forces at work, trying to take down the Gin Shack. A health scare for another character. A blossoming romance between another pair. A family drama. And uncertainty about a couple of characters motives.

It was just too much! The first 40% of the book I was mostly bored as it was all plodding along, then the next 20% was pretty good, and then everything just became so dramatic and a bit silly.

There were some humerous moments scattered throughout, Olive’s idea of a mobility scooter really made me laugh. But it just wasn’t enough to keep me interested for the whole novel.

If this had just focused on Christmas at the Gin Shack, with the Christmassy cocktail competition (which sounded fun!) and the sub-plot of someone trying to undo all their hard work with their bar; this would have been great. Alas, everything but the kitchen sink was thrown in, so it came across as rushed and it didn’t really feel like things were resolved properly at all.

The writing was okay, but the pacing was all over the place (due to everything that was going on), and it did get a little repetitive at times; though I assume that is just the nature of it being an ARC.

I’m afraid it’s just a 2.5/5 read for me, it had so much potential, but there was simply too much going on and not enough actual plot to sink your teeth into.

Rating Report
Plot
two-stars
Characters
three-stars
Writing
three-stars
Pacing
two-stars
Overall: 2.5

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Book Review #10: Debauched by Jennifer Dawson

Posted 16th October 2017 by Wattle in Reviews / 10 Comments

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review #10: Debauched by Jennifer DawsonDebauched by Jennifer Dawson
Series: Undone #3
Published by Jennifer Dawson Publishing on April 26th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica, Romance
Pages: 256
Format: E-Book
Source: Author
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: five-stars
Series Rating: five-stars
Heat Level: 4.5 Flames

One night in a moment of sheer madness I confessed my secrets to him.

All my life I’ve been pretending. Pretending to be the woman I thought I should be instead of the woman I really am. I’ve been faking it and I am good. No one has ever guessed. Except him. He just looked at me and knew.

Chad Fellows is not the man I want, but he’s fast becoming the man I need.

*

One night in a moment of sheer madness I held her in my arms and let her cry.

I did the right thing, letting her walk away, no matter how much she calls to the part of me that wants to rescue her. We are nothing alike, and she’s a mess of complications in a life I’m trying to keep simple. But then I touched her and made her tremble and now I can’t turn away.

Ruby Stiles is not the woman I want, but she’s fast becoming the woman I need.

Debauched is the third book (or fourth, if you count the Unraveled novella) in the Undone series by Jennifer Dawson. My reviews for the previous books aren’t on my blog, as they were on the previous incarnation of Whimsical Nature, but you can find them here:

1) Crave   2) Sinful   2.5) Unraveled

This series is admittedly not what I would consider my tastes. It’s borderline erotica (I’m hesitant to call it erotica outright, because I’m sure there’s more full on ones out there haha), there’s BDSM elements – dominance and submission, and the plot is the romance.

And I love it. All of it!

Dawson creates such great characters in the world of these novels, and Debauched is no different. We’ve already met Ruby and Chad in Unraveled and this is a continuation of their story which delves deeper into their lives – characters from the other instalments pop up of course, and it was nice to see them all again.

Ruby has convinced herself that Chad is all wrong for her; and she most certainly doesn’t want to buy into the dom/sub scene, but her friends relationships with their partners cannot help but pique her interest. Ruby starts out uncertain, and Chad is sure he knows just want she needs, but isn’t convinced a relationship is a good idea. They’re not sure if they can make it work; or if they even want to make it work.

Chad is patient and sweet with Ruby (I think he might actually be my favourite), while she had mildly irritating moments because she had an image in her head of how she was meant to be, and just couldn’t figure out that wasn’t her at all. They are actually kind of adorable together, and the wilder side of their relationship is just…it’s hot, I’m not sure how else to put it, keep a cool drink on hand 😆

Debauched is told in first person with dual points of view, and it works really well (as it has in the previous books). It feels like you get the whole picture and get to know both characters. I don’t think it would be as effective if it was told any other way.

The writing is excellent and there is something addictive about it for me. Each time I’ve read one of these books I’ve had an awful lot of trouble putting it down to go and do things I need to; and I often stay up late reading them.

I’m actually thinking about re-reading them all, and I hardly ever do that!

I definitely recommend this series if you’re a fan of steamy romance with a bit of kink.

Rating Report
Plot
four-half-stars
Characters
four-half-stars
Writing
five-stars
Pacing
five-stars
Overall: 4.8

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Book Review #9: Here Comes The Witch by Ani Gonzalez

Posted 11th October 2017 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 12 Comments

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review #9: Here Comes The Witch by Ani GonzalezHere Comes The Witch by Ani Gonzalez
Series: Main Street Witches #1
Published by FAC Publishing LLC on September 5th 2016
Genres: Cozy Mystery, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 178
Format: E-Book
Source: Lola's Blog Tours
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: three-stars
Series Rating: three-stars
Heat Level: 0.5 Flames

Jewelry designer Kat Ramos has come to Banshee Creek to break the famous Hagen House curse and, in order to do that, she must marry Liam Hagen. A vengeful ghost with a deadly history isn’t part of the deal, and neither is love. Will Kat be able to handle both? Or will the mystery of the cursed Hagen House remain unsolved?

 

This is apparently a cozy mystery (I think?) but it didn’t really read like one, it’s more a lighthearted paranormal. Cozy paranormal? That should be a thing!

It is a spinoff of another series, Banshee Creek, which I haven’t read. I don’t think I missed out on anything though – and indeed, it made me curious about that series itself, which I will have to check out at some point.

Our main character is Kat Ramos, she’s in town for an unusual business arrangement. To marry Liam Hagen, in the hopes of breaking a long held family curse on Hagen House. Then it can be sold and everyone can move on (one of Kat’s ancestors put a curse on the place). She’s doing this to make her dreams of owning a jewellery shop become a reality, as they will split the proceeds when the property sells.

There’s some quirky characters in this. The PRoVE team (Paranormal Research of Virginia Enterprises) were a delight, as was Amy from the Chinese restaurant (I hope there’s more about her in future instalments!) I liked Kat well enough, although her and Liam both made me roll my eyes. For a couple of people who had researched this place very well, they were both pretty dumb about it. Also, it was established that the house only had a grudge against Hagens, but then it seemed like it was against both families. Perhaps I interpreted it incorrectly to begin with?

Anyway. The writing was engaging, but the pacing was a bit slow at first, but then it ramped up and was a bit too fast. Things happened and suddenly it was over! I would have liked to seen the mystery of the house drawn out a bit more. We weren’t privy to Kat’s ‘solving’ of the ghostly mystery, which was disappointing. She was also one of those characters that just gets everything right first go, there wasn’t much tension at the climax. And the romance was…okay. It was just there, I didn’t feel strongly about it either way.

All in all it was a cute, fun read; if a bit short. I am curious enough to read more though!

I read this book thanks to Lola’s Blog Tours 🙂

Rating Report
Plot
three-stars
Characters
three-half-stars
Writing
three-half-stars
Pacing
two-half-stars
Overall: 3.1

About Ani Gonzalez

I write paranormal romantic comedy and cozy mystery (whew, that's a mouthful!) set in Banshee Creek, Virginia, The Most Haunted Town in the USA. My books feature feisty funny heroines dealing with a host of paranormal critters (ghosts, cryptids, pagan gods...the sky's the limit) and mysteries. They find magic, love and laughter and readers get to follow them every step of the way.

I love quirky towns with spooky stories, and, thanks to my books, I get to "live" in one year-around. In real life I live in a Minneapolis suburb (which is sadly lacking in ghosts) with my husband and three children and I'm still trying to adjust to the cold.

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Book Review #8: Pressed to Death by Kirsten Weiss

Posted 2nd October 2017 by Wattle in Reviews / 11 Comments

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review #8: Pressed to Death by Kirsten WeissPressed to Death by Kirsten Weiss
Series: A Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum Mystery #2
Published by Midnight Ink on March 8th 2017
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 338
Format: E-Book
Source: NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: three-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Paranormal museum owner Maddie Kosloski has the perfect exhibit for the harvest festival—a haunted grape press. But when she’s accused of stealing the press, and her accuser is murdered, all eyes turn to Maddie. Knowing the perils of amateur sleuthing as she does, Maddie is reluctant to get involved . . . until her mother insists she investigate.

Does her mom have a secret agenda? Or is she somehow connected to the murder? Facing down danger and her own overactive imagination, Maddie must unearth the killer before she becomes the next ghost to haunt her museum.

For the love of…this one was a victim of my site move it seems, I thought I had reviewed it already but I hadn’t!

So here it is, my long overdue review (I’m so sorry!)

And the first note I have on this book is: ‘The continuity is shite.’ Oh my.

I’ve had this problem with a couple of cozies lately, now that I think about it. A character will say they’re going to do something later, or tomorrow, or the next day. Then in the next chapter the time passes and they never do it! With this one it could be because it was an ARC though, so I suppose I can let it slide…even it does seem sloppy.

The first book of the series, The Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum, was a strong start. But Pressed to Death suffers a little from second book syndrome. It was a quick read, but it was also entirely forgettable. I enjoyed it while I was reading it, and I really do like Maddie as a main character, but I never really connected to the story. It felt a bit slow, and like we were treading water for a while, waiting for something interesting to happen.

The second half of the book was better than the first. I like that there’s a mystery in the present, and one in the past, however there wasn’t really much paranormal about this one. It was a little disappointing after enjoying the first book so much. There weren’t enough twists, and it focused on Maddie’s love life a bit too much.

While I will be continuing the series when the third book comes out, that one will make it or break it for me. So far it’s promising, but just hasn’t delivered like I thought it would.

Rating Report
Plot
three-stars
Characters
two-half-stars
Writing
three-half-stars
Pacing
two-half-stars
Overall: 2.9

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Book Review #7: Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

Posted 21st June 2017 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 16 Comments

I’m back! Uni has finished for the semester, and it ended horribly. I’m 99% sure I failed my Chemistry exam, given I only answered half the paper. But that’s okay! I can do it again! I’m not sure what it was about the first half of 2017, but I’ve never been less motivated to study in my life. Onwards and upwards though!

So here goes, a book review *gasp* last time I looked at my Goodreads account I was 4 books ahead of my goal, now I’m 4 behind. Oops!

Book Review #7: Practical Magic by Alice HoffmanPractical Magic by Alice Hoffman
Published by Penguin on August 5th 2003 (first published 1995)
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 286
Format: Paperback
Source: Owned
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: two-stars

The Owens sisters confront the challenges of life and love in this bewitching novel from New York Times bestselling author Alice Hoffman.

For more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in their Massachusetts town. Gillian and Sally have endured that fate as well: as children, the sisters were forever outsiders, taunted, talked about, pointed at. Their elderly aunts almost seemed to encourage the whispers of witchery, with their musty house and their exotic concoctions and their crowd of black cats. But all Gillian and Sally wanted was to escape.

One will do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they share will bring them back—almost as if by magic...

At 85 pages in, I knew how I was going to rate this book. I decided to read Practical Magic as I love the movie (and re-watching it made me go looking for the source material). Usually I prefer to read novels after seeing film adaptations, because they are much richer and add more to the world on the screen. Well. Most of the time.

This is not one of those.

The film is vastly different, the relationships are similar but the setting is not. On paper, those relationships that made the movie for me had absolutely no depth, and there isn’t much in the way of magic (I was really disappointed by this). Alice Hoffman’s writing is beautiful, but the characters felt so lifeless and flat.

I liked Sally until the focus of the story moved elsewhere; when it shifted back, she was lost to me. I didn’t connect with her, Gillian or Sally’s daughters. It was surprising to me how much it focused on the daughters actually, I quite disliked that element.

As for Gillian, she’s the beautiful one; but she’s so weak and spineless! Running away, getting into one relationship after another until she ends up with an abuser she knows she should leave, but won’t. Then he dies and she runs to Sally for help. She’s irresponsible, supposedly a ‘free spirit’, but she just came across as sad and pathetic (whereas in the film, she was rather charming).

And Sally always helps. ALWAYS. Ugh.

The point of view seemed to change from one character to another halfway through a paragraph, which was super disorienting. Unless I read it wrong (which is possible) but it was bizarre, I never usually have a problem with POV changes.

I almost DNF at 206 pages, and then thought that would be a waste, so finished it ASAP just to move on.

I simply cannot recommend this novel, it was lifeless and bland. The movie on the other hand, A+.

Rating Report
Plot
one-star
Characters
one-star
Writing
four-stars
Pacing
one-star
Overall: 1.8

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