Category Archives: Fantasy

Release Day Review- Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield

Once Upon a River

Title: Once Upon a River
Genre: Historical Fiction/Gothic/Fantasy
Author: Diane Setterfield
Publisher: Atria,Simon and Schuster Digital, Dec. 4, 2018
Source: Free for review from the publisher
Pages: 480
Rating: 5
Sexy Rating: 5
Violence Rating: 5
Description from Amazon.com:
On a dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the river Thames, an extraordinary event takes place. The regulars are telling stories to while away the dark hours, when the door bursts open on a grievously wounded stranger. In his arms is the lifeless body of a small child. Hours later, the girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life. Is it a miracle? Is it magic? Or can science provide an explanation? These questions have many answers, some of them quite dark indeed.

Those who dwell on the river bank apply all their ingenuity to solving the puzzle of the girl who died and lived again, yet as the days pass the mystery only deepens. The child herself is mute and unable to answer the essential questions: Who is she? Where did she come from? And to whom does she belong? But answers proliferate nonetheless.

Three families are keen to claim her. A wealthy young mother knows the girl is her kidnapped daughter, missing for two years. A farming family reeling from the discovery of their son’s secret liaison, stand ready to welcome their granddaughter. The parson’s housekeeper, humble and isolated, sees in the child the image of her younger sister. But the return of a lost child is not without complications and no matter how heartbreaking the past losses, no matter how precious the child herself, this girl cannot be everyone’s. Each family has mysteries of its own, and many secrets must be revealed before the girl’s identity can be known.
**
Infused with the lyrical prose of Diane Setterfield, this mysterious, magical book kept me turning page after page, after page, after page (yes, 480 pages to be exact). I did think the book could have been shorter without losing any of the pacing or characterization, but that is my only complaint. It is a true rendering of the late Victorian era along the Thames River. Much research went into this book which gives the reader the feeling of living alongside the river and the many characters. The river is the main character which runs through the lives of each secondary character; kind and determined Robert Armstrong, the hopeful Vaughans, psychologically and physically damaged Lily White, the well adjusted Inn keepers Joe and Margot and son Jonathan and Rita the nurse who stands in as the village doctor, plus a villain steeped in evil. All play intricate rolls in the mystery that is the lost and found four year old girl.
I have looked forward to reading another book by this author since I read her wonderful novel THE THIRTEENTH TALE; ONCE UPON A RIVER did not disappoint. It is moody, frightening, uplifting, engrossing, perfectly nuanced and superbly constructed. I highly recommend this book.

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Recent Release- The Stone Warriors: Gabriel by D.B. Reynolds

Gabriel

Title: The Stone Warriors: Gabriel (book#3)

Genre: Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy

Author: D.B. Reynolds

Publisher: ImaJinn Books, Oct. 30, 2018

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages:292

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 5+

Violence Rating:5+

Description from Amazon.com:

It was a time when gods walked the earth, when armies fought not for bits of land, but for the very existence of humanity. On such a battlefield, five formidable warriors stood against an evil greater than any the earth had ever seen. But evil is not an honorable foe. Betrayed by someone they trusted, the warriors were cursed, one by one, tossed into the maelstrom of time, imprisoned in stone, their freedom resting on nearly impossible conditions. Until. . . .

Gabriel Halldor. . . one of the fiercest warriors the world has ever seen, but his tremendous skill can’t save him from a sorcerer’s curse. Trapped in stone and left lying in darkness for thousands of years, he is, at long last, brought into the sunlight of a Japanese garden, where a young girl comes to sit at his feet and read him stories as she grows to womanhood.

Hana Himura. . . beloved granddaughter of a Japanese mob boss, raised to the life of a warrior. When death comes for her grandfather, he sends her to the one guardian courageous enough to protect her from a sorcerer who will stop at nothing to have her.

Raphael. . . the most powerful vampire lord on earth, and the only man who can save Gabriel and Hana from an enemy who would enslave them both.
Running from the certain death that awaits them in Japan, Hana and Gabriel flee to Malibu and the vampire lord her grandfather called friend. Raphael is magic and power combined, and Gabriel and Hana will need both if they’re going to survive long enough to defeat their enemy and light the flame of desire that’s been simmering between them for years.
**
Margaret Atwood on vampires, “You used to know where you stood with them-smelly, evil, undead-but now there are virtuous vampires and disreputable vampires, and sexy vampires and glittery vampires, and none of the old rules about them are true any more.”

That is Raphael’s cue to make an entrance; for he is not smelly (thank goodness), he is not disreputable, and he is definitely not glittery. He is sexy and powerful and totally capable of aiding Hana and Gabriel in their fight against evil sorcerer Sotiris. Sorcerer Nicodemus Katsaros is the warrior who led the others in battle in ancient times and has been searching for the four stone warriors since. Nico’s magic will aid Hana in developing her magic control. He will also fight Sotiris along with Raphael.

This offering in The Stone Warriors series starts off with Hana running for her life with Gabriel, newly released from his stone prison, and hardly gives the reader a breath as they fight their way to safety from Japan to Malibu where they hope Raphael can help vampire Gabriel. However no place is safe for Hana as long as the evil sorcerer Sotiris is after her.

Once you start with this series it becomes addictive. The action, suspense, the sensuous sex, the romance and love all add up to pure addiction. You can easily read this book as a standalone but I don’t recommend that. You need to start with THE STONE WARRIORS:DAMIEN and then KATO. I recommend this not because this book lacks sufficient background but because these two warriors appear in this book and I want you to be immersed in their stories as well as Gabriel’s. Then we can all wait anxiously for Stone Warrior Dragan. I also have it on good authority that my heart throb, book boyfriend Nick Katsaros will get his book also in this series.

If you are new to this author you will want to read more of Raphael and his mate Cyn in the Vampires in America Series. Start with RAPHAEL and enjoy sexy, powerful non-sparkly vampires and the women who bring them to their knees. ( search for my reviews of this series in the search box in the left column. Type in D.B. Reynolds.)

Another aside: This blog received a cover quote but let me assure my followers that it in no way influenced my review. It just made me very happy. 🙂

 

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Happy Halloween-The Legend of the Jack O’Lantern

Halloween jack-o-lantern-

Do you know the legend of “Stingy Jack?” It’s a good one…People have been making jack-o’-lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed “Stingy Jack.” According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern,” and then, simply “Jack O’Lantern.”In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack’s lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. In England, large beets are used. Immigrants from these countries brought the jack o’lantern tradition with them when they came to the United States. They soon found that pumpkins, a fruit native to America, make perfect jack-o’-lanterns.Happy Halloween!

from Joe Photo at http://webshots.com

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Review- A Man of Character by Margaret Locke

A Man of Character

Title: A Man of Character: A Magical Romantic Comedy (book #1)
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Fantasy
Author: Margaret Locke
Source: Purchase, Kindle $.99
Publisher: Locked On Love Publishing, May 2015
Pages: 336
Rating: 4.5
Sexy rating: 5
Violence rating: 0
Description from Amazon:

What would you do if you discovered the men you were dating were fictional characters you’d created long ago?

Thirty-five-year-old Catherine Schreiber has shelved love for good. Keeping her ailing bookstore afloat takes all her time, and she’s perfectly fine with that. So when several men ask her out in short order, she’s not sure what to do … especially since something about them seems eerily familiar.

A startling revelation — that these men are fictional characters she’d created and forgotten years ago — forces Cat to reevaluate her world and the people in it. Because these characters are alive. Here. Now. And most definitely in the flesh.

Her best friend, Eliza, a romance novel junkie craving her own Happily Ever After, is thrilled by the possibilities. The power to create Mr. Perfect — who could pass that up? But can a relationship be real if it’s fiction? Caught between fantasy and reality, Cat must decide which — or whom — she wants more.

**
This one will keep you up turning pages into the wee hours. All of Cat Schreiber’s conjured boyfriends are swoon worthy but are they for real? Do they want Cat because THEY want her or because she has made them to want her? Then there is Ben, another swoon worthy man who Cat didn’t invent. Is he the ONE or is the One really another?

I really enjoyed all the men that Cat conjured from her stories of years past. I also liked her interaction with her best friend Eliza (Lizzie). The premise was delightful and the execution was good. My only complaint was that Cat should not have complained about her failing business when most days she was closing the bookstore to go have coffee at the café across the street. She and roommate Eliza seemed unable to make coffee or hot Chocolate for themselves.

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Advance Review- Matchmaking For Beginners: A Novel by Maddie Dawson

Matchmaking for beginners

Title: Matchmaking For Beginners: a novel
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Romance
Author: Maddie Dawson
Source: Free from “Amazon First Reads” for Prime members, otherwise $4.99 on Kindle
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing, June 1, 2018
Pages: 378
Rating: 5
Sexy rating: 5 (behind closed doors)
Violence rating: 0
Description from Amazon:

Marnie MacGraw wants an ordinary life—a husband, kids, and a minivan in the suburbs. Now that she’s marrying the man of her dreams, she’s sure this is the life she’ll get. Then Marnie meets Blix Holliday, her fiancé’s irascible matchmaking great-aunt who’s dying, and everything changes—just as Blix told her it would.
When her marriage ends after two miserable weeks, Marnie is understandably shocked. She’s even more astonished to find that she’s inherited Blix’s Brooklyn brownstone along with all of Blix’s unfinished “projects”: the heartbroken, oddball friends and neighbors running from happiness. Marnie doesn’t believe she’s anything special, but Blix somehow knew she was the perfect person to follow in her matchmaker footsteps.
And Blix was also right about some things Marnie must learn the hard way: love is hard to recognize, and the ones who push love away often are the ones who need it most.

**
There is a bit of magic in the way Blix and Marnie can see auras and “sparkles” that lets them know what couples belong together and those that should get out of the relationship. Maneuvering those that should be together has been elderly Blix’s life work and now that she is at the end of her life she wants to pass on her “projects” to the only person she has ever met who is qualified for the task, Marnie. Reluctant Marnie finds that she is manipulated into a life that she didn’t expect.

Oh my! This is a gem of a book and an absolute delight to read. I was smiling most of the way through, unable to put it down and so sorry to see it end. If you are an Amazon Prime member you can read this book for free now. If you are not a Prime member, at $4.99 it is still a steal but you will have to wait for its release on June 1st. Don’t wait! Go ahead and preorder if you must, I’m guaranteeing one of your best reads of 2018.

 

 

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Advance Review- The Pisces by Melissa Broder

The Pisces

Title: The Pisces
Genre: General Literature/Fantasy
Author: Melissa Broder
Source: Free for review from the publisher
Publisher: Hogarth, May 1, 2018
Pages: 288
Rating: 2
Sexy rating: 5
Violence rating: 4
Description from Amazon:

Lucy has been writing her dissertation on Sappho for nine years when she and her boyfriend break up in a dramatic flameout. After she bottoms out in Phoenix, her sister in Los Angeles insists Lucy dog-sit for the summer. Annika’s home is a gorgeous glass cube on Venice Beach, but Lucy can find little relief from her anxiety — not in the Greek chorus of women in her love addiction therapy group, not in her frequent Tinder excursions, not even in Dominic the foxhound’s easy affection.

Everything changes when Lucy becomes entranced by an eerily attractive swimmer while sitting alone on the beach rocks one night. But when Lucy learns the truth about his identity, their relationship, and Lucy’s understanding of what love should look like, take a very unexpected turn. A masterful blend of vivid realism and giddy fantasy, pairing hilarious frankness with pulse-racing eroticism, THE PISCES is a story about falling in obsessive love with a merman: a figure of Sirenic fantasy whose very existence pushes Lucy to question everything she thought she knew about love, lust, and meaning in the one life we have.

**
“Obsessive love”? I think it was more like obsessive lust. Okay, maybe some love but for the most part this is the story of a woman who went off the rails and searched for love in all the wrong places. The worst place was the ocean. That’s where she met the merman, Theo, whose siren call (his charm and attention to her) she could not resist.

I did not like this book and I think the reason is that I didn’t like any of the women and I did like Theo and he disappointed me. Besides, this is a very depressing book. I’m on a personal campaign to read books that are uplifting and the blurb led me to believe this would be one of those. Unfortunately it isn’t. The author is accomplished at turning a phrase but what comes across is someone who is very unhappy. This is just another man-bashing tirade. Not once did I find anything “hilarious”.

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Advance Review- Eight Simple Rules For Dating A Dragon by Kerrelyn Sparks

8 simple rules for dating a dragon

Title: Eight Simple Rules For Dating A Dragon: A Novel of the Embraced ( #3)
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Author: Kerrelyn Sparks
Source: Free for review from the publisher
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, March 27, 2018 (preorder available)
Pages: 435
Rating: 4
Sexy rating: 5
Violence rating:5
Description from Amazon:

TRUTH—OR DARE?
Gwennore is an Elf able to track down the cause of a certain illness and heal it—a valuable asset to her people. But when she is thrust into the realm of the dragons, she discovers a haunted place of power, passion, and magic—one that is plagued by an ancient curse. When she meets the smoldering General Silas Dravenko, Gwen knows she’s entered a whole new world of trouble. She’s been raised never to trust a dragon. So why does making a deal with the devil feel so good?
Silas has no way of saving the royal family he’s served for years. But when a beautiful, innocent elf comes bursting into his world, Silas is awakened to desire in a way he’s never felt before. But how can he trust a sworn enemy. . .and how can he live without her, in Eigh’s t Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon by New York Times bestselling author Kerrelyn Sparks.

**
This was a bit of a slow start for me but once I got about 100 pages in, it took off. Silas was battling with his brother about the curse on the royals and their people. Silas believed it to be poison and his brother believed it to be an ancient curse. Silas enlists Gwennore’s healing ability to prove his theory. Gwen agreed to stay until she solved the mystery but she was falling for Silas and their love was forbidden because she was of enemy elf lineage.

This book reads like a fairytale but a fairytale with some sexy times. It is total escapism since everything is like a fantasy. I liked the light-hearted feel of the book and enjoyed the tension and mystery concerning the curse. Some of the book is too farfetched for even a fantasy, like a Mead and hot pepper drink to cure the plague, but it was still a most fun read. Dragons might just be my next book boyfriends.

 

 

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Review: The Rules Of Magic by Alice Hoffman

The Rules of Magic

Title: The Rules of Magic (The practical Magic Series)
Genre: General Fiction
Author: Alice Hoffman
Source: Free for review from the publisher
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Oct. 2017
Pages: 384
Rating: 4
Sexy rating: 3
Violence rating: 2
Description from Amazon:
From beloved author Alice Hoffman comes the spellbinding prequel to her bestseller, Practical Magic.

Find your magic.

For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man.

Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk.

From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Back in New York City each begins a risky journey as they try to escape the family curse.

The Owens children cannot escape love even if they try, just as they cannot escape the pains of the human heart. The two beautiful sisters will grow up to be the revered, and sometimes feared, aunts in Practical Magic, while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy. Thrilling and exquisite, real and fantastical, The Rules of Magic is a story about the power of love reminding us that the only remedy for being human is to be true to yourself.

**
I did not love this book as I had Hoffman’s first book, Practical Magic, and the movie by the same name. That said, this was still a page turning read. When you have magical powers there is adventure, mystery and problems. This is also a story of love. I look forward to more in this series.

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Advance Review- The Red by Tiffany Reisz

The Red

Title: The Red: An Erotic Fantasy
Genre: Contemporary Erotica Romance/Fantasy
Author: Tiffany Reiz
Source: Free for review from the publisher
Publisher: 8th Circle Press, July 11, 2017 (preorder available for Kindle)
Pages: 212
Rating: 5
Sexy rating: 5++
Violence rating: 4 (all sex is consensual but very often rough)
Description from Amazon:

** Paperback Not Available for Pre-Order, But Will Be For Sale on Release Day (July 11, 2017) **

The Red is a standalone novel of erotic fantasy from Tiffany Reisz, international bestselling author of The Bourbon Thief and the Original Sinners series.

Mona Lisa St. James made a deathbed promise that she would do anything to save her mother’s art gallery. Unfortunately, not only is The Red painted red, but it’s in the red. She soon realizes she has no choice but to sell it.

Just as she realizes she has no choice but to sell it, a mysterious man comes in after closing time and makes her an offer: He will save The Red if she agrees to submit to him for the period of one year.

The man is handsome, English, and terribly tempting…but surely her mother didn’t mean for Mona to sell herself to a stranger. Then again, she did promise to do anything to save The Red…

**
This is labeled a “Fantasy” but Mona isn’t sure if her involvement with Malcolm is reality or fantasy. She will do what it takes to save her mother’s art gallery and if that means submitting to Malcolm then how hard could it be when he is devastatingly handsome.

There is constant suspense and mystery that is intertwined with all of the extremely erotic encounters of Mona and Malcolm. I initially thought Malcolm was real, then a fantasy, then real and I kept going back and forth wondering. That kept me turning pages to find out what was the outcome of this mystery.

I am a fan of Tiffany Reisz’ books ever since I read the wonderful THE HEADMASTER. She is a wonderful storyteller and there is no one better at writing erotic sex scenes. This is a romance even if not the usual vanilla type. If you are at all squeamish about BDSM, then you will want to skip this one. However the story is compelling enough so that you will like it anyway.

 

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Recent Release Review- Breath of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

breath-of-fire

Title: Breath of fire (The Kingmaker Chronicles, book /32)

Genre: Fantasy Romance

Author: Amanda Bouchet

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca, Jan. 3, 2017

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 448

Rating: 3

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:

SHE’S DESTINED TO DESTROY THE WORLD… BUT NOT IF SHE CAN HELP IT

“Cat” Catalia Fisa has been running from her destiny since she could crawl. But now, her newfound loved ones are caught between the shadow of Cat’s tortured past and the threat of her world-shattering future. So what’s a warrior queen to do when she knows it’s her fate to be the harbinger of doom? Everything in her power.

Griffin knows Cat is destined to change the world—for the better. As the realms are descending into all-out war, Cat and Griffin risk sacrificing everything they’ve fought for. Gods willing, they will emerge side-by-side in the heart of their future kingdom…or die trying.

The Kingmaker Chronicles: A Promise of Fire (Book 1) Breath of Fire (Book 2) Heart on Fire (Book 3, coming Fall 2017)

****

I could not wrap my mind around the disjointed way this book was written.  It starts off with Griffin trashing his bedroom with Cat there and stalking off.  Then she leaves to heal her broken heart in another room.  He comes back and says she got it all wrong.  I don’t think so. From there we go on one action packed adventure scene to the next full of violence and thrills. But it felt like just scenes linked together.  Certainly scenes that were interesting but really didn’t feel like a cohesive story. I kept setting this book aside because it just wasn’t holding my interest.  It took me forever to finish.

This book got a rating of 3 from me because if you are really into the Greek myths and like Game of Thrones then this book is “okay”.  But for me personally it rated a 2 “disappointing”.

 

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