I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed the previous two books in this fantasy Gaslamp novella series – see my review of Delicious Death. So I was delighted when I realised the arc for Spirit Guide was also available on Netgalley.
BLURB: Saddled with a bumbling apprentice, a drunk soldier, and a prickly nobleman who won’t explain why he hasn’t paid a proper call, Elinor must decide if the Society is hiding something from her. When the investigation reveals a connection to an old rival, she finds herself going it alone, something Tristan had demanded she not do. Will her dance with ghosts be a permanent arrangement? And when Tristan Fontaine discovers her missing, who will be able to face his wrath?
Elinor Chalamet uses her wits and her ghost-talking skills to hunt for her father’s killer in Alenbonné, a coastal city where ghosts walk at all hours. The third of a six-part gaslamp fantasy ghost mystery series featuring a Sherlock Holmes-like female character in a slow burn romance.
REVIEW: These books are set in a country resembling France in a Victorian-type era. Nash gives further information on the world in her excellent appendix which works really well with novellas, as it provides information without holding up the pace of the story. And in a book of a shorter length, particularly an adventure, getting the pacing spot on is important.
I really enjoy the character progression from one book to the next. And this time around, we see cracks in the normally imperturbable Elinor. When encountering Tristan Fontaine for the first time in this adventure, she is thoroughly fed up at his tendency to seem increasingly attracted to her – only to disappear completely until he needs her on a case, again. Not surprisingly, she isn’t happy with his behaviour. However, she is also fraying somewhat at the edges due to having an apprentice foisted on her that she didn’t want.
I also enjoyed the introduction of a newbie to scene. We are introduced to Elinor in the first book as someone already highly accomplished and it’s only when watching the flailing efforts of Twyla that we appreciate just how adept Elinor is. It’s also fun to learn more about the mysterious Morpheus Society, which has been mentioned in the previous two book. I would add at this stage – if you’re in the habit of crashing midway into series, I don’t advise it with this particular adventure. While Nash is too experienced to allow you to flounder, too much going on here resonates with previous events for you to get the full extent of the story if you’re only starting here.
Elinor is in real danger in this book – Nash’s villains are always satisfyingly horrible, but this time around, she actually gets hurt by a particularly nasty antagonist. While I never like seeing my favourite protagonists suffer too much – it was informative to get underneath Elinor’s façade of control. Given there are elements of Sherlock Holmes in her character, it’s important that we see her vulnerability and I think Nash did a very good job of humanising her in this slice of the series. I’m not a huge fan of novellas, as far too often I feel that the pacing or characterisation suffers with the shorter length, but Nash has the writing chops to gauge the story beats absolutely perfectly within the word count. This is a series I’m thoroughly enjoying and looking forward to the fourth book in the series. While I obtained an arc of Spirit Guide from the publisher via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own. 9/10
This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books they’ve read and share what they have got up to during the last week.
I was hoping that 2023 would prove to be a kinder year than 2021 or 2022. So far it hasn’t been. I am gritting my teeth, putting my head down and enduring. I’ve been tempted to start howling at the moon at the sodding unfairness of it all. But it’s a tad nippy outside and we have plenty of yapping dogs in the neighbourhood anyway, without my adding to mix. Besides, no one said Life would be fair… Oh well. Thank goodness for books. At least, on that score I’m doing well, in that I’ve had some marvellous reads and listens this past week.
Last week I read:-
All for All – Book 3 of the Cast Adrift series by Christopher G. Nuttall Humanity has won a great victory, liberating their homeworld from the alien Pashtali and convincing many of the alien Great Powers that Earth is much more than a vassal state of a decaying empire, easy meat for the first invader who comes along. But the war is far from over. The Pashtali are gathering their forces, closing down their border wars with smaller powers while the greater ones sit on the sidelines, readying their navy for a final confrontation with Earth. The end cannot be long delayed.
There is one hope left. Allying themselves with the other smaller powers, the Solar Navy sets off on a final desperate campaign to break the aliens once and for all, or lose everything on the final throw of the dice. As ever, Nuttall’s skills in plotting and providing plenty of adventure come to the fore in this gripping addition to this entertaining series. There is plenty here to gladden the heart of old-school fans of the genre… a varied cast of characters, a nicely nasty alien species to hate – and a climactic space battle with lots at stake. What I particularly like is that Nuttall knows his history and uses it to good effect in depicting his scenarios. Initially I was under the impression that this was trilogy – but I’d be very happy to see more in this series. 9/10
AUDIOBOOK – Sweep of the Heart – Book 5 of the Innkeeper Chronicles by Ilona Andrews Life is busier than ever for Innkeeper, Dina DeMille and Sean Evans. But it’s about to get even more chaotic when Sean’s werewolf mentor is kidnapped. To find him, they must host an intergalactic spouse-search for one of the most powerful rulers in the Galaxy. Dina is never one to back down from a challenge. That is, if she can manage her temperamental Red Cleaver chef; the consequences of her favorite Galactic ex-tyrant’s dark history; the tangled politics of an interstellar nation, and oh, yes, keep the wedding candidates from a dozen alien species from killing each other. Not to mention the Costco lady.
They say love is a battlefield; but Dina and Sean are determined to limit the casualties! Discovering this addition to one of my all-time favourite series has been one of the highlights of the year so far! I LOVE this wacky sci-fi/fantasy mash-up that shouldn’t work, but absolutely does because of the attention to detail and sheer inventiveness of the authors. 9/10
Death by a Cornish Cove – Book 2 of the Cressida Fawcett Mystery series by Fliss Chester A seaside party at a Cornish mansion with plenty of fizz, what could be more perfect? But something fishy is afoot… a killer lurks among the guests, and only Cressida Fawcett can stop them.
When Cressida Fawcett is invited to stay at Penbeagle House on the Cornish coast for a fancy-dress ball, she is looking forward to sipping rum cocktails clad as a pirate, watching the red-sailed boats go by and relaxing in the sea air with her good friend Dotty. But before they can raise their glasses to toast Cressida’s former flame Lord Canterbury’s engagement, he drops dead in front of the horrified guests.
The local doctor determines that Lord Canterbury was poisoned, and soon Detective Chief Inspector Andrews is on his way from Scotland Yard. But Cressida is dismayed by the murder of the intrepid explorer who once asked for her hand in marriage, and she cannot simply leave the case to the police. Together with Dotty and her little pug Ruby, Cressida searches for clues only to discover that many of the guests have a motive for murder. Did an irate journalist or a bitter fellow explorer send Lord Canterbury on his untimely final journey? I have thoroughly enjoyed the slew of 1920s murder mysteries I’ve read recently – and this is fast becoming a favourite series. Cressida is a force of nature and Chester has clearly done her homework on period details, which I appreciate. Review to follow.
Spirit Guide – Book 3 of the Madame Chalamet Ghost Mysteries Novellas by Byrd Nash When a nobleman’s daughter goes missing, Elinor Chalamet and Tristain Fontaine, the Duke de Archambeau, must work together to discover who has kidnapped her and why.
Saddled with a bumbling apprentice, a drunk soldier, and a prickly nobleman who won’t explain why he hasn’t paid a proper call, Elinor must decide if the Society is hiding something from her. When the investigation reveals a connection to an old rival, she finds herself going it alone, something Tristan had demanded she not do. Will her dance with ghosts be a permanent arrangement?And when Tristan Fontaine discovers her missing, who will be able to face his wrath?
Elinor Chalamet uses her wits and her ghost-talking skills to hunt for her father’s killer in Alenbonné, a coastal city where ghosts walk at all hours. The third of a six-part gaslamp fantasy ghost mystery series featuring a Sherlock Holmes-like female character in a slow burn romance. This is a series I’ve recently encountered and thoroughly enjoyed to date. Elinor is an experienced and clear-headed young woman who copes with a dangerous occupation by planning ahead for every contingency – until she doesn’t… This slice of the adventure sees our plucky protagonist unusually vulnerable, which gives us insights into her character. Review to follow.
This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books they’ve read and share what they have got up to during the last week.
It’s been a while since I’ve visited – the days trickle by and I’m a bit shaken that we’re already more than halfway through February. The weather has been a lot milder since the beginning of the month, which I’m pleased about. Though we’re about to grit our teeth as our fixed rate fuel tariff finishes at the end of the month – and we will be confronted with a bill that will be nearly triple what we’re paying now. It wouldn’t be so bad if that was the only thing going up in price – but food just goes on steadily getting more expensive, as well as clothing… shoes… electronic goods… you name it!!
Half term is just coming to an end. Though Ethan has been very busy visiting universities and friends, so hasn’t been here all that much. The brilliant news is that he has had an unconditional offer from one of his top two university choices – and it will be the first time that anyone from his college course has been offered a place there. We’re so very proud of him and what he’s managed to achieve. He still has at least two more visits lined up – but now the pressure is off, so hopefully he can relax a bit and enjoy the process. Up to now, it’s been a rather nerve-wracking business!
Oscar has still been struggling with migraine headaches, so we ended up seeing his Dr. She’s prescribing some medication that is intended to actually prevent them from happening. I am so impressed with the care we’ve received from the NHS despite the pressure they’re under – and very much hope that these new tablets will prove more successful. Poor Oscar has suffered far too much since Christmas.
So far, February’s been a trudge. Himself had a shocking cold during his rest days this week, so the trip we’d planned to the Wetland and Wildfowl Trust had to be postponed. Fortunately, he’s recovered well, but we could do with a day out enjoying ourselves and relaxing. What with one thing and another – we haven’t done that since Christmas.
Thank goodness for reading – and writing. I’m now working on the third book in my Picky Eaters series – Problems with Power, charting the adventures of grumpy old Castellan the Black, a grandfather dragon who unexpectedly finds himself in the middle of family life after his grandchildren get him evicted from his lair. It has been a rather stop/start affair, given my health issues, but I am beginning to get some momentum going which makes writing so much more fun.
Last week I read:-
Delicious Death – Book 2 of the Madame Chalamet Ghost Mysteries by Byrd Nash Thwarting an assassination wasn’t on the menu. Elinor’s holiday is ruined when a poisoner targets a royal guest. What’s even more irritating? The duke thinks he can solve the case before she can.
In the southern town of Vouvant, Elinor’s goal was to eat rich food at the Winter Revels, but an attempt on the king’s life implicates her favorite chef. Between saving a young society lady and solving the problem of a widower who grieves too much, she has her hands full.
Trained as a medium by the elite Morpheus Society, Elinor Chalamet uses her skills to aid the police while she hunts for her father’s killer.
The second of a six part gaslamp fantasy ghost mystery series featuring a strong female character in a slow burn romance. I thoroughly enjoy Nash’s writing – so finding this entertaining series was a huge treat. The protagonist is experienced and sure of herself, which is a nice change from all those youngsters rather desperately flailing around, trying to work out who they are while grappling with hidden magical talents. There is a nice sprinkling of humour and the slow-burn romance is well handled. All in all, a solid treat. 9/10
Darkwood – Book 1 of the Darkwood series by Gabby Hutchinson Crouch Magic is forbidden in Myrsina, along with various other abominations, such as girls doing maths.
This is bad news for Gretel Mudd, who doesn’t perform magic, but does know a lot of maths. When the sinister masked Huntsmen accuse Gretel of witchcraft, she is forced to flee into the neighbouring Darkwood, where witches and monsters dwell.
There, she happens upon Buttercup, a witch who can’t help turning things into gingerbread, Jack Trott, who can make plants grow at will, the White Knight with her band of dwarves and a talking spider called Trevor. These aren’t the terrifying villains she’s been warned about all her life. They’re actually quite nice. Well… most of them.
With the Huntsmen on the warpath, Gretel must act fast to save both the Darkwood and her home village, while unravelling the rhetoric and lies that have demonised magical beings for far too long. I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Gretel and her brother, Hansel, are enjoyable protagonists, as are Buttercup and the White Knight – although my favourite has to be Trevor the talking spider. The humour is unforced and funny – and rides alongside the real danger hanging over the villagers of Nearby village so that I burned through this one, really caring about the characters. It is a joy. I’m always a bit wary of humorous fantasy, as Terry Pratchett has cast a very long shadow over the genre and I’ve read far too many paler imitations. The real disgust at political hypocrisy and lust for power that also runs through Pratchett’s work rang through this one without spoiling the story. I’m really looking forward to reading the next two in the series and finding out what happens next to Darkwood and its inhabitants. 9/10
Before I Sleep – Book 24 of the Bill Slider series by Cynthia Harrod Eagles The clock is ticking for DCI Slider when a woman goes missing. Can he find her – and does she even want to be found?
Felicity Holland is missing. She left her handsome West London house to go to her weekly pottery class and didn’t come back. She’s a mature, sensible woman with a stable home life and a happy marriage – no reason to abscond. Her distraught husband is convinced she must have been snatched.
DCI Bill Slider and his team know that when a woman goes missing, you have to move fast if there’s to be a hope of finding her alive. But with no evidence of foul play – nothing to go on at all – where do you even start looking?
The clock is ticking. But as Slider tries to retrace the last known movements of Felicity Holland, he is led ever further down a dark and twisted path into the secret past of this beautiful, enigmatic woman. This is a cracking police procedural that starts with almost a non-event. A well-known writer insists his wife has disappeared and DCI Bill Slider is put on the case before she’s even officially missing. But as he and his team get stuck in, a picture builds up of a lovely, vibrant person who I really cared about. I’ll remember this one for a long time… Review to follow. 1010
AUDIOBOOK – Zahara’s Gift – Book 1 of the Bond of a Dragon series by A.J. Walker Nineteen-year-old Anders lived a fairly normal life until the only family he had was taken away from him. When he finds himself forced to embark on an action packed adventure, he discovers there is more to the world than he was told. The magical force that flows within everything around him becomes revealed. Dragons, elves, orcs, and goblins lurk around nearly every turn along the path as he pursues his two kidnapped cousins.
As Anders discovers more about his family’s past, he learns of their involvement in The War of The Magicians and the circumstances leading up to the attack of his hometown. When Anders is told about his potential involvement in a prophecy involving dragons and their powerful magic, he will need to make a difficult decision. Will he continue to follow the path that is laid out for him or can he make his own destiny? Will he ever be reunited with his family again? And if he succeeds, will he ever be able to return to the life he once knew? The plotting and character progression worked well. But I found the dialogue rather clunky and unrealistic – and when listening to an audiobook, that can be trying. It was never bad enough that I was tempted to DNF, but I’m not in a hurry to tuck into the second book. 7/10
I enjoy Byrd Nash’s writing – see my review of A Spell of Rowans. And since I became ill with Long Covid, I’ve been tucking into Gaslamp fantasy tales as I thoroughly enjoy the vibe and historical backdrop.
BLURB: Thwarting an assassination wasn’t on the menu. Elinor’s holiday is ruined when a poisoner targets a royal guest. What’s even more irritating? The duke thinks he can solve the case before she can.
In the southern town of Vouvant, Elinor’s goal was to eat rich food at the Winter Revels, but an attempt on the king’s life implicates her favorite chef. Between saving a young society lady and solving the problem of a widower who grieves too much, she has her hands full. Trained as a medium by the elite Morpheus Society, Elinor Chalamet uses her skills to aid the police while she hunts for her father’s killer.
The second of a six part gaslamp fantasy ghost mystery series featuring a strong female character in a slow burn romance.
REVIEW: I hadn’t had the pleasure of reading the first book in the series – indeed, I wasn’t aware that this was the second book until I opened it. But I decided to plunge in, anyway. And I got away with it, as at no stage was I foundering. I always enjoy reading tales featuring strong-minded, experienced protagonists who know what they’re doing – and Elinor Chalamet is just that. The era is sort of Regency and the setting is very loosely based upon Europe at that time, with the country an approximation of France. I liked the appendix at the back with the cast of characters and details of the world – it’s a growing trend that works well, particularly in shorter books where there often isn’t the length to add all those reminders throughout the story without coming across as repetitious.
There is plenty of humour within the story – in addition to some poignant moments, as befitting a tale where ghosts who cannot cross into the Afterlife are somehow stuck, often due to a trauma or unhealthy emotional tie. Nash’s smooth prose style kept the story barrelling along at a nice clip and the very slow-burn romance (my favourite sort!) simmered gently without impeding the mysteries – there’s more than one enigma to solve in this eventful tale. All in all, this was a thoroughly enjoyable tale, well written and executed in a length that is technically challenging. And best of all – there are five other books to get hold of and enjoy in this entertaining series. Yippee! While I obtained an arc of Delicious Death from the publisher via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own. 9/10
I saw this one on Netgalley and liked the look of the cover and it didn’t hurt that I’d also thoroughly enjoyed Nash’s romantic retelling of Cinderella. So would this fantasy offering set in the small town of Grimsby have the same fairytale vibe?
BLURB – truncated: As children Mother twisted our magic as part of her games.
My talent for reading other people’s feelings, my sister who could charm men, and my brother who knows with a touch the history of any object.
But when I returned to Grimsby to settle the estate, the police hauled in my autistic brother for questioning. And that hometown boy I dumped way back after high school? He’s in Grimsby and thinks he knows the truth about me.
REVIEW: As you might have gathered from the blurb, this one is told in first person viewpoint by Vic, the middle of the three siblings. And as for their mother, she has to be one of the nastiest villains I’ve encountered for a while. It’s heinous enough when baddies do horrible things to relative strangers – but evil is taken to a whole new level when it’s perpetrated against their own children.
So be warned – there is physical and emotional child abuse in this story, which could have turned this one into a really dark story. But despite all three siblings having been damaged by their mother’s treatment, and without in any way diminishing what happened to them – Nash manages to avoid this becoming overwhelmingly bleak. Indeed, there are moments of farce and humour as Pip, Vic and Liam try to untangle the trail of mayhem that follows their mother’s death. They are well equipped to discover who has done what to whom, given their specific talents.
But I also liked how these so-called gifts are also far more of a hindrance in modern life – particularly poor Vic, whose ability to read people’s feelings means that her love life in non-existent. Just imagine a first date, when you immediately know what your prospective partner is thinking… And Pip’s talent for charming men doesn’t necessarily mean that her choices are ideal, either. Nash’s smart, witty writing quickly turns this paranormal whodunit into something more memorably special than your usual urban fantasy. The characters are all layered and complex, the setting utterly convincing and the writing sufficiently edgy that I wasn’t convinced that the very appealing protagonists were going to prevail.
I read far long than I should have to discover what happens, as the plot twists kept coming, bodies started piling up and exactly what the Rowan’s horrible mother was actually up to gradually becomes clear. I also really enjoyed how Nash handled the denouement and wrapped up the story. All in all, I’m congratulating myself on having discovered yet another talented writer and highly recommend this one to fans of contemporary, paranormal crime. While I obtained an arc of A Spell of Rowans from the publisher via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own. 9/10
This is my fortnightly update on how I’m doing while coping with Long Covid now it’s been 9 months since I first got ill, which I’m adding to my Sunday Post blog, hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Review.
Life has been very busy this last fortnight. The good news is that I’ve now recovered from the flu jab and am definitely feeling a lot better. However, on the same day both our washing machine and hairdryer died. This is a major problem as Himself immediately changes out of his uniform and puts it straight into the washing machine as soon as he comes home from work, to cut down the risk of infection. We were able to order one online that arrived two days after our defunct washing machine joined the great laundry in the sky. And now we’ve found the express programme, I’m a lot happier with it. But I wasn’t pleased when the wretched thing took over TWO HOURS to deal with a load of delicates on a cold-water wash.
As for the hair dryer, I went with Himself to get a new one at the local Tesco’s. It was the first time I’ve been inside a supermarket for months – and when Himself went off on a hair dryer hunt, I froze. Suddenly terrified by the onslaught of lights… noises… complete sensory overload. And then I was shaking with fury. I’ve battled so damn hard to get to this stage – how dare Long Covid take away my confidence to go wherever I need to! I managed to haul myself together, but I will confess to having a meltdown once we got home. Himself, as ever, was endlessly kind and patient and suggested that we get out of the house more often to do things other than attend medical appointments. Which seems like a solid plan. Although the reality is a bit more challenging…
On Monday, I had a hospital appointment for an ultrasound scan of my thyroid. And given my supermarket experience the day before – I was very focused on getting there and back without being overwhelmed. I wasn’t thinking at all about what they’d find on the scan – so I was rather blindsided to be told that I’ve nodules on my thyroid, one of which is pressing on my windpipe. The specialist is reasonably confident they are all benign and have been there a while. What has changed, courtesy of covid, is that my thyroid is quite swollen, which is why I’m now feeling the pressure in my throat. He was also concerned that one of my lymph glands is not just swollen but also misshapen, but I’m not surprised, given that it’s on the side where my ear is still constantly draining. He wants to see me in three months to monitor the situation and I need to discuss further options with my GP.
On Tuesday I was back at our local surgery for a chat about my blood pressure. The nurse was very reassuring that while my readings were a bit on the high side, they weren’t too bad given that I’m struggling with Long Covid which will be stressing my system anyway. I’m not keen for my BP medication to be increased, as the last time they did so I quickly felt very unwell. Right now, that isn’t a complication that I need. She also mentioned that I needed to make an appointment for another blood test, which I did. And then on Wednesday, I received a text from the surgery to say they want me to make another appointment to talk about my BP results with my GP. It seems like I’ve a bunch of outings ahead of me that will be allll about my health, given that I’ve also got to make an appointment tomorrow for a booster covid jab.
And on Wednesday, on the way back from seeing the reflexologist, we were involved in a minor accident. A lady parked on the left swung out as we were approaching a T-junction and the corner of her bumper scraped down my passenger door, leaving traces of red paint and several dents. Fortunately it all happened at very low speed and no one was hurt. But it’s a hassle we don’t need right now. And it didn’t exactly help my ongoing anxiety about going out and about…
This week, it was my eldest grandson’s birthday – I cannot believe he’s now turned 17, and today it’s my mother’s birthday. Right now, I’m not in a position to see either of them. But I’ve been thinking of them a lot. It’s months since I’ve seen Frank and the last time I saw Mum was on Mothering Sunday back in 2020. That’s one of the hardest things about this situation – it’s kept families apart at a time when we could all do with a hug from those we love.
In the meantime, I am focusing on changing my sleep patterns, continuing with my activity journal, meditations and taking supplements. It’s all low key and repetitive – but if it helps me stay well enough to avoid another major relapse, then that’s what I’ll do.
This week I’ve read:- The Alchemical Detective – Book 1 of the Riga Hayworth series by Kristen Weiss Her gargoyle’s got an attitude. Her magic’s on the blink. Alchemy might be the cure… if Riga can survive long enough to puzzle out its mysteries.
Someone’s killing psychics in bucolic Lake Tahoe, and the police think Riga may be connected to the crimes. They could be right. Riga recognizes the sinister hand of a long-dead enemy in the crime scene. Juggling demons, daimons, and a devilish casino owner, can this metaphysical detective catch a killer before she becomes the next target? I thoroughly enjoyed this twisty, urban fantasy whodunit. Riga is an experienced practitioner who has recently lost her magic, which gives the story an interesting dynamic – and I loved the French gargoyle. I’ll definitely be reading more about Riga’s adventures. 9/10
Dance of Hearts: A Cinderella Regency Romance Retelling by Byrd Nash In Regency England, 1816, it is not fashionable to display fairy blood.
Melinda Wychwood managed to stay at her family home after her father’s death by working as her cousin’s unpaid housekeeper. But when a childhood friend returns, playing a game of deception, will she be satisfied acting as the dowdy chaperone? Or will her wild fairy heritage and a magical dress finally win her true happiness?
A Cinderella retelling as a historical romance with a touch of fairytale magic and a happily ever after ending. I’d seen a book on Netgalley by this author and wanted to check out the writing, so downloaded this KU novella. And it’s exactly what it says on the cover – which is often a strength of indie authors. It is also well written and enjoyably paced, and was a welcome break from the gory intensity of the following book. 8/10
Firesky – Book 2 of The Chronicles of Stratus by Mark de Jager Relentless. Unstoppable. Dragon. Desire burns in Stratus’ soul, powerful like an inferno. With his memory returning, he finally knows who—and what—he is. His is a dragon, brought low by the hand of a dark magician known as the Worm King, separated from his true love, tortured for centuries and now trapped inside the body of a human.
But with the memories of his old life comes a return of his true magic, and with it, his true form is slowly returning. And Stratus wants revenge. Bloody and relentless, he slaughters his way through hordes of the undead to reach his archenemy, fighting not only for his own justice but for the whole of humanity… This is definitely on the darker end of epic fantasy with death magic and piles of bodies. But the characterisation of a cornered dragon, who is increasingly out of options in a hostile world, is spot on. Review to follow. 8/10
Magical Midway Paranormal Cozy Mysteries Box Set – Book 4 – Go For the Juggler by Leanne Leeds
A jarring homecoming. An uncertain fate. To save everyone, one witch must perform the juggling act of a lifetime When Charlotte returns home with Gunther, Devana, and Ethel Elkins in tow, she doesn’t think her life can get any more complicated. But when one of her parents’ Animal Shelter volunteers turns up dead, her control begins to slip as her old human life and her new paranormal life collide.
While racing to come up with a plan to defeat the Witches’ Council, Charlotte must defend her family against an intrusive police investigation that risks exposing their true nature to the human world—an act which will condemn them all. When I saw this Box Set on KU, I immediately snapped it up and have been spacing out this delightful magical circus series of murder mysteries amongst other books. There is a strong, overarching threat running through the series that works particularly well reading them close together. Peopled with a wonderful cast of eccentric, strong characters, this entertaining and poignant instalment was yet another reason why Leanne Leeds has become a solid favourite with me this year. 8/10
A Spell of Rowans by Byrd Nash Raised by a narcissistic mother, the Rowan children’s magical talents were twisted to fit her needs. When Rachel dies, her children must confront the past to have a future.
Victoria, whose empathic talent knows everyone’s hidden feelings; Philippa, whose glamour can bewitch; and Liam, the brother who touches objects to reveal their secrets, all find themselves in danger.
When her autistic brother is arrested, Vic needs to discover the truth to set him free. A successful art restorer in the big city, Vic’s made a career of ignoring her past and hiding her strange powers. But with Rachel’s death, she must gamble away her secrets to face down forces determined to destroy her and her siblings. And that hometown boy she dumped way back? He’s in Grimsby, and knows the truth about her. This is a gripping paranormal murder mystery where the family dynamic is at the heart of much unhappiness and lethal violence. It’s also very well done – and while it’s twisty and full of surprises, it isn’t too dark. I thoroughly enjoyed reading something so very different from the romance novella earlier in the week. Nash is clearly an accomplished and experienced author. Review to follow. 9/10
What the Lady’s Maid Knew – Book 1 of The Riftmagic Saga by E.E. Holmes Imagine a London where magic is real… real, but feared. This is Eliza Braxton’s London, and she has always accepted her place in it gladly. As one of the Riftborn, her magic has relegated her to the servant class, where she dutifully serves as the lady’s maid in one of the most powerful households in the country. There, she uses her remarkable powers of persuasion to keep Elder Hallewell’s rebellious daughter in the path to an arranged match of power and prosperity. Eliza has never questioned her loyalty… until now.
Currents of discontent are roiling beneath the city’s surface, and Eliza’s comfortable existence is about to be caught up in the tide. A resistance is building, a resistance that covets Eliza’s talents above all else. But can Eliza betray everything she’s ever known for things she never dared to dream? Think of the class struggle that emerged in the middle of the Industrial Revolution with a magical spin. It’sbeen done before, but I really enjoyed the below stairs perspective of this dystopian fantasy. A punchy, memorable read. Review to follow. 9/10
Thank you so much for visiting and commenting. I’m very aware that right now, it’s a very one-sided relationship and I don’t know when I’ll be able to fully reciprocate. In the meantime, do take care and try to keep well.