Review of Spirit Witch by Helen Harper

Spirit Witch
The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Magic Book 3
By Helen Harper

Star Rating: 
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Number of Pages: 268

Date Started: November 19, 2017
Date Finished: November 20, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
If anyone appreciates what it means to be dead to the world, it’s Ivy Wilde.

Barely recovered from her brush with necromancy, Ivy is flung once more into a world of intrigue, adventure and potential death and disaster. It’s not her fault – it just so turns out that she’s now the only person in the entire world who can communicate with the dead. And they’re a chatty bunch with a list of demands.

When the ghosts offer information about a witch-hating mass murderer in return for Ivy’s help, she has no choice but to get involved. She might be getting herself into more trouble than she realises though – and that’s even before she’s dragged to Sunday dinner so she can meet Winter’s family…

Review:
Winter seems to go through a bit of an existential crisis, and it’s interesting to see him so capable but unsure of the direction of his future. It becomes obvious that spending so much time together is rubbing off on the two main protagonists. While Rafe and Ivy work on figuring out a mystery, while trying not to let their relationship get in the way, one finds another relationship far more pressing and urgent–theirs with Brutus. Brutus is, by far, my favourite character in the series. His random quips of intense insight make up for how lazy he is most of the time, not to mention the hilarity of claiming an inability to do more–much like our slouch witch used to do.
“You like Eve.”
“Love Ivy.”

In the end, I felt that everything and everyone was mostly where they should be. I wish it had been a bit more longer, and not thrown into the epilogue. Most of what I’d hoped would happen throughout the entire series had come to pass, though I would have liked to see more happen to Tarquin. I am quite sad to see the series finished, but have since started another book by Harper, and look forward to reading more written by her in the future.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
After teaching English literature in the UK, Japan and Malaysia, Helen Harper left behind the world of education following the worldwide success of her Blood Destiny series of books. She is a professional member of the Alliance of Independent Authors and writes full time, thanking her lucky stars every day that’s she lucky enough to do so!

Helen has always been a book lover, devouring science fiction and fantasy tales when she was a child growing up in Scotland.

She currently lives in Devon in the UK with far too many cats – not to mention the dragons, fairies, demons, wizards and vampires that seem to keep appearing from nowhere.

Advertisements

Review of Star Witch by Helen Harper

Star Witch
The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Magic Book 2
By Helen Harper

Star Rating: 
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Number of Pages: 334

Date Started: November 18, 2017
Date Finished: November 19, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
Ivy Wilde, the laziest witch in the West, is still entangled with the Hallowed Order of Magical Enlightenment. That’s not a bad thing, however, because it gives her plenty of excuses to spend more time with sapphire eyed Raphael Winter, her supposed nemesis. And when he comes knocking because he needs her to spy on the latest series of Enchantment, she jumps at the chance. Hanging around a film set can’t be hard … or dangerous … right?

Review:
The relationships in this novel were spot on! Not just Ivy and Rafe, but the interactions between all the characters were realistic and believable. Seeing Ivy thrown into an uncomfortable situation and need to adapt while Rafe stays nearby, their reactions to each other gave as much entertainment as the reality show bits they were supposed to be enthralled with.

I didn’t see this coming, her going on the television show that had been hinted about in the first book, but once more was learned about the television show, how it was essentially survivor meets people needing to use magic, it sounds like something I would also want to watch. Because of this reality television section, the mysteries were multiplied, and I am not ashamed to admit that I hadn’t figured out who it was before the reveal.

Like any book series, I do have a favourite character. While I empathize with Ivy, wanting to get results without work (who wouldn’t want to do that?!) I LOVE Brutus.

I loved this second book, and I couldn’t wait to read the next in the series! It’s a great series, and one I highly recommend!

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
After teaching English literature in the UK, Japan and Malaysia, Helen Harper left behind the world of education following the worldwide success of her Blood Destiny series of books. She is a professional member of the Alliance of Independent Authors and writes full time, thanking her lucky stars every day that’s she lucky enough to do so!

Helen has always been a book lover, devouring science fiction and fantasy tales when she was a child growing up in Scotland.

She currently lives in Devon in the UK with far too many cats – not to mention the dragons, fairies, demons, wizards and vampires that seem to keep appearing from nowhere.

Review of Slouch Witch by Helen Harper

Slouch Witch
The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Magic Book 1
By Helen Harper

Star Rating: 
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Number of Pages: 342

Date Started: November 14, 2017
Date Finished: November 18, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
Hard Work Will Pay Off Later. Laziness Pays Off Now. 

Let’s get one thing straight – Ivy Wilde is not a heroine. In fact, she’s probably the last witch in the world who you’d call if you needed a magical helping hand. If it were down to Ivy, she’d spend all day every day on her sofa where she could watch TV, munch junk food and talk to her feline familiar to her heart’s content.

However, when a bureaucratic disaster ends up with Ivy as the victim of a case of mistaken identity, she’s yanked very unwillingly into Arcane Branch, the investigative department of the Hallowed Order of Magical Enlightenment. Her problems are quadrupled when a valuable object is stolen right from under the Order’s noses.

It doesn’t exactly help that she’s been magically bound to Adeptus Exemptus Raphael Winter. He might have piercing sapphire eyes and a body which a cover model would be proud of but, as far as Ivy’s concerned, he’s a walking advertisement for the joyless perils of too much witch-work.

And if he makes her go to the gym again, she’s definitely going to turn him into a frog.

Review:
I put off reading this book. It was recommended to me by a good friend that previously recommended a series I really didn’t care for. This time, he was on the mark, and I am in love!

Laziness can only get you so far in life, that is, unless you develop your own hacks to make life that much easier. When suddenly stuck with a workaholic, Ivy is forced to get up and move a lot more than she’s used to.

This novel has some great characters, one of which is Brutus, a cat. While I won’t spoil anything, most will find that Brutus is probably what their own cat must be like. Cats are definitely a force to be reckoned with!

Getting to explore Ivy’s past while she works with Wintry was well done without any parts that were simply thrown in–Ivy never tells Wintry what happened in the past, allowing him to either believe the lies spread, or figure it out himself.

I love one of the messages of this story– you may take a different job, but you can’t change who you are.

If you like magic with a dab of mystery, this book was made for you. I absolutely love it!

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
After teaching English literature in the UK, Japan and Malaysia, Helen Harper left behind the world of education following the worldwide success of her Blood Destiny series of books. She is a professional member of the Alliance of Independent Authors and writes full time, thanking her lucky stars every day that’s she lucky enough to do so!

Helen has always been a book lover, devouring science fiction and fantasy tales when she was a child growing up in Scotland.

She currently lives in Devon in the UK with far too many cats – not to mention the dragons, fairies, demons, wizards and vampires that seem to keep appearing from nowhere.

Review of The Ugly Stepsister by Aya Ling

The Ugly Stepsister
Unfinished Fairy Tales
By Aya Ling

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling
Number of Pages: 452

Date Started: April 25, 2017
Date Finished: April 26, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
When Kat accidentally rips apart an old picture book, she’s magically transported into the world of Cinderella–as Katriona, one of the ugly stepsisters! Life turns upside down now that she’s a highborn lady and must learn how to survive the social season, including how to get through the door in a huge metal hoop skirt. To get back, she’ll have to complete the story, right to the end of happily ever after. But the odds are huge: the other stepsister is drop-dead gorgeous, the fairy godmother is nowhere to be found, and the prince, despite being insanely hot, openly dislikes balls. Can she ever return to the modern world?

Review:
Last night I thought I’d begin a book, not realizing that I would become glued to this novel and not want to put it down. This is the second Cinderella retelling series that I’ve read this month and it was just as amazing as the last, in different ways.

Firstly, Kat joins the story of Cinderella begrudgingly, that is to say, completely against her will. It’s amusing and quite interesting seeing how she tries to combat the old fashioned world she ended up in. All of Kat’s reactions to clothes, as someone who has worn the full effect in Renaissance style clothing, was spot on (do NOT try to have a corset or bodice done up tightly– it IS quite difficult to breathe in!)

Kat is quite the relatable heroine: a girl who isn’t quite comfortable talking to guys, who slowly begins to realize that while things might be seen as the correct way to act in society, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the way one should act. Kat also discovers that when one isn’t as good at something as another, it is far better to move on and not dwell on it.

Kat has the advantage of coming to understand several different types of relationships while she’s in the fairy tale world. She and her “real” family have unconditional love: they want what is best for each other, and want each other to be happy, even if what they do to be happy doesn’t necessarily make sense to each other. Kat and her fairy tale family have more of a “I love what you can do for me” relationship, which, while quite unpleasant, everyone experiences at least once in their life.

Five stars, would totally recommend.

SLIGHT SPOILER:
I absolutely adore how Kat and the prince come to meet and learn about each other. While they have a lot in common, between their need to get away from everything and everyone to escape sometimes, and their desire to help the people, it would have been nice to see them take an interest in each other’s hobbies. Who knows… maybe we’ll see something in book 2?

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Aya is from Taiwan, where she struggles daily to contain her obsession with mouthwatering and unhealthy foods. Often she will devour a good book instead. Her favorite books include martial arts romances, fairy tale retellings, high fantasy, cozy mysteries, and manga.

She is currently working on Ever After, Book 3 in the Unfinished Fairy Tales series, to be released in 2017. For exclusive bonus scenes, giveaways, and new release info, visit ayaling.com

Review of Cinder & Ella by Kelly Oram

Cinder & Ella
Cinder & Ella book 1
By Kelly Oram

Star Rating: 
Genre: YA, NA (New Adult)
Number of Pages: 322

Date Started: April 16, 2017
Date Finished: April 17, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
It’s been almost a year since eighteen-year-old Ella Rodriguez was in a car accident that left her crippled, scarred, and without a mother. After a very difficult recovery, she’s been uprooted across the country and forced into the custody of a father that abandoned her when she was a young child. If Ella wants to escape her father’s home and her awful new stepfamily, she must convince her doctors that she’s capable, both physically and emotionally, of living on her own. The problem is, she’s not ready yet. The only way she can think of to start healing is by reconnecting with the one person left in the world who’s ever meant anything to her-her anonymous Internet best friend, Cinder. … Hollywood sensation Brian Oliver has a reputation for being trouble. There’s major buzz around his performance in his upcoming film The Druid Prince, but his management team says he won’t make the transition from teen heartthrob to serious A-list actor unless he can prove he’s left his wild days behind and become a mature adult. In order to douse the flames on Brian’s bad-boy reputation, his management stages a fake engagement for him to his co-star Kaylee. Brian isn’t thrilled with the arrangement-or his fake fiancée-but decides he’ll suffer through it if it means he’ll get an Oscar nomination. Then a surprise email from an old Internet friend changes everything.

Review:
There is absolutely too much to say about this novel. I’m sure I’ll forget something, because there is SO MUCH that makes this novel amazing.

Firstly, I’ll start off with the fairy tale aspect: the elements of Cinderella are all there, but with an amazing fresh twist. Ella has a lot to worry about, and while she does try to be polite and nice to people, she still has flaws. Ella is stuck with her family, and in this retelling, she simply can’t leave like many likely believe the original Cinderella should have. Brian is every bit a prince with the power to completely change Ella’s life, but things don’t magically fall into place where he sweeps her off her feet– that’s not how the real world works.

This novel does a great job of showcasing how attached two people can become without ever having physically met, how you can come to rely on your friends, no matter how new or old. I absolutely love that this novel shows that meeting people with like interests and not just because you’re in the same general social sphere can give you a much deeper connection.

Written from the perfect perspective, instantly you feel for the protagonists and want them to succeed in life. It’s a book that’s very hard to put down, and I found myself getting quite angry when real life got in the way of my reading.

The story within a story aspect was absolutely thrilling. It’s a great step to acknowledge that nowadays most people form connections with others with similar interests, and loving one particular book series or movie could be the one thing that draws you to someone, forming an irrevocable bond.

Knowing that you should be yourself and do what’s best for you, even if it’s scary, is an amazing lesson I think everyone can learn from.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Kelly Oram wrote her first novel at age fifteen–a fan fiction about her favorite music group, The Backstreet Boys, for which her family and friends still tease her. She’s obsessed with reading, talks way too much, and likes to eat frosting by the spoonful. She lives outside of Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, four children, and her cat, Mr. Darcy.

Review of The Wizard Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

The Wizard Heir
By Cinda Williams Chima

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/YA Urban Fantasy
Number of Pages: 480

Date Started: March 19, 2017
Date Finished: March 26, 2017
Synopsis: (From Amazon)
Sixteen-year-old Seph McCauley has spent the past three years getting kicked out of one exclusive private school after another. And it’s not his attitude that’s the problem. It’s the trail of magical accidents-lately, disasters-that follow in his wake. Seph is a wizard, orphaned and untrained–and his powers are escalating out of control.

After causing a tragic fire at an after-hours party, Seph is sent to the Havens, a secluded boys’ school on the coast of Maine. At first, it seems like the answer to his prayers. Gregory Leicester, the headmaster, promises to train Seph in magic and initiate him into his mysterious order of wizards. But Seph’s enthusiasm dampens when he learns that training comes at a steep cost, and that Leicester plans to use his students’ powers to serve his own dangerous agenda.

In this companion novel to the exciting fantasy The Warrior Heir, everyone’s got a secret to keep: Jason Haley, a fellow student who’s been warned to keep away from Seph; the enchanter Linda Downey, who knew his parents; the rogue wizard Leander Hastings, and the warriors Jack Swift and Ellen Stephenson. This wizard war is one that Seph may not have the strength to survive.

Review:
I picked this book up from a used bookstore not realizing it was the second in a trilogy. That being said, after reading this book and the eluded bits about the first, I don’t feel as if I missed anything or don’t understand what’s happened from having started with the second. If you are going to read this series, I would likely recommend you start with the first book, The Warrior Heir.

This was a book I didn’t want to end. Instantly enthralled, it was very easy to empathize with Seph.  There was a depth to this novel that isn’t always seen in YA pieces, the motivations of what people are doing to achieve their goals not obvious at first, but understandable when revealed. On top of the great characterization and development, this book is also well written in a way that makes you want to know what happens next, and care very deeply for the connections the main protagonist makes.

So many lessons can be learned from this book. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you feel like something is wrong, don’t let anyone pressure you into doing something you’re uncomfortable with. Trust your instincts.

I read this book slowly, putting it off or only reading in small spurts to try to make it last longer, knowing that a find like this doesn’t come that often. I absolutely love this book and highly recommend it to others. I also think this book would likely be amazing for reluctant readers, due to how gripping the plot is.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
New York Times bestselling author Cinda Williams Chima began writing romance novels in middle school, which were often confiscated by her teachers. Her Heir Chronicles young adult contemporary fantasy series includes The Warrior Heir (2006), The Wizard Heir (2007), The Dragon Heir (2008), The Enchanter Heir (2013) and The Sorcerer Heir (2014) all from Hyperion.

Chima’s YA high fantasy Seven Realms series launched with The Demon King (2009), followed by The Exiled Queen (September, 2010) The Gray Wolf Throne (2011) and The Crimson Crown (2012.)

Chima’s latest series, The Shattered Realms, (HarperTeen) is set in the Seven Realms world, and features a new generation of characters. It includes Flamecaster and Shadowcaster (April 2017) with two more coming.

Chima’s books have received starred reviews in Kirkus and VOYA, among others. They have been named Booksense and Indie Next picks, an International Reading Association Young Adult Choice, to the Kirkus Best YA list, and the VOYA Editors’ Choice, Best Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror, and Perfect Tens lists.
Chima lives in Ohio with her family, and is always working on her next novel.

Review of The Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher

The Seventh Bride
By T. Kingfisher

Star Rating: 

Genre: YA Fantasy

Number of Pages: 237

Date Started: March 13, 2016
Date Finished: March 15, 2016 (early in the morning)

Synopsis:(From Amazon)seventh
Young Rhea is a miller’s daughter of low birth, so she is understandably surprised when a mysterious nobleman, Lord Crevan, shows up on her doorstep and proposes marriage. Since commoners don’t turn down lords—no matter how sinister they may seem—Rhea is forced to agree to the engagement.

Lord Crevan demands that Rhea visit his remote manor before their wedding. Upon arrival, she discovers that not only was her betrothed married six times before, but his previous wives are all imprisoned in his enchanted castle. Determined not to share their same fate, Rhea asserts her desire for freedom. In answer, Lord Crevan gives Rhea a series of magical tasks to complete, with the threat “Come back before dawn, or else I’ll marry you.”

With time running out and each task more dangerous and bizarre than the last, Rhea must use her resourcefulness, compassion, and bravery to rally the other wives and defeat the sorcerer before he binds her to him forever.

Review:
This story is an unbelievably cute fairy tale in its own right.  Not only does the protagonist have spunk and pizzazz but she also isn’t fooled into thinking she’s in a magical perfect situation after being randomly proposed to by a lord.  Although she cannot refuse, she shows the fear that most fairy tale females lack, and because of that, she uses caution which is generally overlooked by not only the Brothers’ Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson characters, but also by Disney princesses.

From the beginning I saw glimpses of fairy tales.  There was mention of fantasy creatures doing mischievous things, and with a miller’s daughter, it would be hard not to expect Rumpelstiltskin to jump out.  Though there were several fairy tale and fantasy story connections from Rumpelstiltskin to Alice and Wonderland mixed with The Wizard of Oz, this book is a completely novel piece– innovative, imaginative, down to earth and impossible to resist the charm of.  Five stars.

Author Bio: (From Amazon)
T. Kingfisher is the vaguely absurd pen-name of Ursula Vernon, an author from North Carolina. In another life, she writes children’s books and weird comics. She has been nominated for the World Fantasy and the Eisner, and has won the Hugo, Sequoyah, Nebula, Alfie, WSFA, Coyotl and Ursa Major awards, as well as a half-dozen Junior Library Guild selections.

This is the name she uses when writing things for grown-ups. Her work includes multiple fairy-tale retellings and odd little stories about elves and goblins.When she is not writing, she is probably out in the garden, trying to make eye contact with butterflies.

www.tkingfisher.com