Reading Challenge: New to Me Challenge

Review: Spellbound After Midnight by Jenna Collett

Posted September 8, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Spellbound After Midnight by Jenna CollettReviewer: Holly
Spellbound After Midnight by Jenna Collett
Series: Ever Dark Ever Deadly #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: April 2021
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fairytale, Fantasy
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2021 New to Me Challenge
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

A spellbinding mystery leads an unlikely pair on the hunt for a killer.

Tessa Daniels needs a miracle. Preferably, the kind that comes with cold hard cash. Her magic shop is failing, and she'll be tossed into the street unless she clears her debt.

When a financial boon arrives in the form of a young woman determined to attend the prince's ball, a risky spell turns out to be the miracle she needed. That is until the woman is found dead at the stroke of midnight, and Tessa comes face-to-face with the kingdom's cold, and way too appealing, lead detective.

Detective Derrick Chambers has no use for the supernatural. As the rising star at the Royal Agency, he won't let magic, or the pretty witch that deals in it, get in the way of solving a murder.

His logic tells him to steer clear of Tessa's chaos, but a forced partnership soon turns into an attraction neither can resist.

With the body count rising, and the kingdom in a panic, an exposed secret will tear them apart and put Tessa in the sights of a killer where no amount of magic can save her.

Spellbound After Midnight is an enemies-to-lovers, slow burn romance, with a puzzling mystery, strong female heroine, and fairy tale elements.

Spellbound After Dark is the first book in Jenna Collett’s Ever Dark, Ever Deadly series. I found this while browsing Kindle Unlimited and decided to give it a try based on the reviews. This is my first read by the author. I really enjoyed the writing and the story. I easily fell into it.

Tessa Daniels is a down-on-her-luck witch. Her mother was renowned in the kingdom for her powers, but Tessa has never had very good control of hers. More often than not, her potions and spells go wrong (sometimes seriously so). As a result, the magic shop she inherited when her mother passed away is on the brink of bankruptcy. In a moment of desperation, Tessa borrowed money from the local kingpin, and he’s calling it due.

When a young woman she casts an illusion spell for turns up dead, Tessa realizes she can help solve the young girl find justice and solve her financial problems by collecting the reward money. The catch? She has to work with Royal Detective Chambers, a total stick-in-the-mud who also happens to be attractive as sin.

Derrick Chambers isn’t thrilled about being forced to work with a witch, but they end up making a good team. Both on the case and off it. Unfortunately, Tessa forgot to mention that whole “in debt to a gangster” thing, and there may be no coming back once he finds out.

This story was an unexpected delight. I liked the fairytale twist (“Cinderella” died at midnight, and the “fairy godmother” has to solve the murder case), and I really loved the romance. Derrick was really wonderful to Tessa, despite them getting off on the wrong foot. He was kind and caring, and it was obvious he was struggling with his feelings, but he was never cruel.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t love that Tessa kept secrets from him. I understood her reasons, but I didn’t agree with them. Aside from that, I don’t have much to complain about. I loved the friendship Tessa had with Vivian, a medium. I also enjoyed the world and the mystery behind the murder. I figured out the suspect early on, but I still liked the way the story unfold.

I’m really looking forward to the next book in the series.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Ever Dark, Ever Deadly

four-stars


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Review: The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He

Posted September 6, 2021 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan HeReviewer: Rowena
The Ones We're Meant to Find by Joan He
Publisher: Roaring Brook
Publication Date: May 4, 2021
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2021 Goodreads Challenge, Rowena's 2021 New to Me Challenge, Rowena's 2021 Review Pile Challenge
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three-half-stars

One of the most twisty, surprising, engaging page-turner YAs you’ll read this year—We Were Liars meets Black Mirror, with a dash of Studio Ghibli.

Cee has been trapped on an abandoned island for three years without any recollection of how she arrived, or memories from her life prior. All she knows is that somewhere out there, beyond the horizon, she has a sister named Kay, and it’s up to Cee to cross the ocean and find her.

In a world apart, 16-year-old STEM prodigy Kasey Mizuhara lives in an eco-city built for people who protected the planet―and now need protecting from it. With natural disasters on the rise due to climate change, eco-cities provide clean air, water, and shelter. Their residents, in exchange, must spend at least a third of their time in stasis pods, conducting business virtually whenever possible to reduce their environmental footprint. While Kasey, an introvert and loner, doesn’t mind the lifestyle, her sister Celia hated it. Popular and lovable, Celia much preferred the outside world. But no one could have predicted that Celia would take a boat out to sea, never to return.

Now it’s been three months since Celia’s disappearance, and Kasey has given up hope. Logic says that her sister must be dead. But nevertheless, she decides to retrace Celia’s last steps. Where they’ll lead her, she does not know. Her sister was full of secrets. But Kasey has a secret of her own.

The Ones We’re Meant to Find isn’t the kind of book that I would normally be interested in but after browsing Goodreads and reading the blurb, I was curious enough to get it for review. It took me three tries to finish this book. I kept putting it down because the first part, through the middle of the story moved super slow for me. Like, at a snail’s pace and I had trouble trying to keep paying attention because I just didn’t care. I almost gave up completely on the third try but I am glad that I finished it because the second half of the book is much better and moves much faster than the first.

This book is about two sisters. Cee is stuck on a deserted island, trying her damndest to get back and find her sister, Kasey. Kasey lives in a dystopian world, in these eco-cities that keeps them safe from living on actual land where there is a number of climate damage and is probably where our earth is headed if we don’t get our shit together. There’s a mystery that is woven throughout the story and I’ll admit that a lot of that shit was lost on me in the first half of the book.

Of the two sisters, I connected more with Cee on that deserted island. Kasey wasn’t a bad character but there was something that kept me from completely loving her as much as I did Cee. Kasey is smart as hell and I did eventually warm up to her character but yeah, I was still Team Cee.

I will also say that there’s a huge twist that I didn’t see coming but when it started coming together, I stood up and took notice. I won’t say what it is but I will say that it surprised me and I was delighted with the twist. There’s an open ending to this book as well that might rub some folks the wrong way but I was surprised, that I was okay with it. I did wonder a bit over Kasey’s last words to Celia in her dreams but I let it go as I was ready to move on.

Overall, this was a solid story. If you make it past the first half then the author rewards you with a very strong second half. Things come together, other things are revealed and both Kasey and Cee’s stories reel the reader in and I’m glad that I finished it. The story highlighted some stuff that I already think about climate change and made me take notice of what I’m doing for my part in trying to clean up our planet. The story really does come together in a satisfying and meaningful way but the slowness of the first half kept this book from getting rated higher. Still, I’m not mad that I read this.

3.25 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Review: Whiskey Holiday by Crystal Daniels and Sandy Alvarez

Posted September 3, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Whiskey Holiday by Crystal Daniels and Sandy AlvarezReviewer: Holly
Whiskey Holiday by Crystal Daniels, Sandy Alvarez
Series: Mistletoe Montana #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: December 16th 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: Alternating
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 68
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 New to Me Challenge
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It’s Christmas all year in Mistletoe, Montana, and magic is in the air.

Winter Holiday wants nothing more than to have a man sweep her off of herfeet but doesn’t have time in her busy life to fall in love.

Until an attractive stranger with a panty-melting smile walks through the doorsof Whiskey Holiday.

Tannon Christmas moved to the Christmas themed tourist town on a newbusiness venture, seeking a fresh start in life. He wasn’t looking for love until hekisses his new client.

Tis the season!

Get ready for a sweet and steamy insta-love romance.

Winter Holiday is restoring her old home and needs a contractor to help. She meets a sexy guy in the bar her family owns and he sweeps her off her feet – literally – and out to his place where they share a night of sexy-times. She sneaks out, but it turns out he’s the contract she just hired to replace her furnace and give her a quote for some additional work, so he ends up on her doorstep the next morning.

This read more like a cautionary stalker tale than a romance novel. I was seriously concerned when the hero sees the heroine across the bar and immediately thinks “I need to keep her with me always” and then proceeds to move in with her -without her permission- the next day after a one-night-stand. It was meant to be a cute “love at first sight” tale, but it didn’t work for me at all.

Rating: 1 out of 5


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Review: Wicked Wish by Veronica Douglas & Linsey Hall

Posted September 1, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Wicked Wish by Veronica Douglas & Linsey HallReviewer: Holly
Wicked Wish by Veronica Douglas, Linsey Hall
Series: Dragon's Gift: The Storm #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: February 22, 2021
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

I’m at the mercy of a fallen angel.

I work for the Order of Magica, the supernatural version of the FBI. Sounds fun, right? Except I spend my days chained to my desk, writing reports, and wishing that I was out solving crimes.

Well, be careful what you wish for.

When my best friend is abducted, my life in Chicago turns upside down.

I’ll do anything to get her back—even work with Damian Malek, a wanted criminal, notorious crime lord, and dangerous fallen angel. He’s hot, lethal, and he's the only one who can help me master my dangerous powers. I don't want anyone to know about my magic, but I have no choice if I want to save my friend.

Here's the catch: if the Order finds out that I’m working with Damian, I’ll get canned. Maybe even hunted for what I am. But if I don’t give him what he wants, he’ll reveal my secret to the world.

It appears this is a spin-off of another series, but it’s the first book by the authors I’ve read. I enjoyed it and didn’t feel like I missed anything by starting here.

Neveah Cross works for the Order as a researcher, but she’s trying to get promoted to investigator. When her best friend, Rhiannon, (who is an investigator) calls to say she’s needed in the field, she rushes out to help contain two demons, thinking this may be her chance. The problem? She’s half-djinn and if the Order finds out there’s a good chance she’ll never be seen or heard from again. So she has to keep her power hidden.

When Damian Malek, a crime boss and fallen angel, contacts her and asks for her help containing an evil djinn who keeps kidnapping Supernaturals, Neve has to decline. She can’t risk being found out…Until Rhiannon goes missing. Then Neve will do whatever it takes to get her back, even work with Damian. Neve has spent her whole life hiding her power, but now she has to learn to master it – and quick – if she’s going to save Rhia and contain the Djinn.

I enjoyed Neve as the MC. She’s smart and capable, though unschooled in her powers. She did feel kind of young to me at times. Not sheltered, exactly, but lacking in maturity about some things in the world. I really loved her friendship with Rhiannon, and how she would do anything for her.

Damian was an enigma, dark and mysterious, but also caring and protective. A bad boy with a heart of gold, or someone with his own agenda who is using Neve? I enjoyed getting to know him through Neve, and I’m curious to see where things go in the next book. I didn’t love the way this ended – cliffhanger, ugh – but the world, action, adventure and characters kept me glued to the pages. I’m looking forward to learning more about the world and discovering what’s really going on with Damian.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Dragon’s Gift: The Storm

four-stars


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Review: Just Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane

Posted August 23, 2021 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Just Last Night by Mhairi McFarlaneReviewer: Rowena
Just Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: May 4, 2021
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 416
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars

Eve, Justin, Susie, and Ed have been friends since they were teenagers. Now in their thirties, the four are as close as ever, Thursday night bar trivia is sacred, and Eve is still secretly in love with Ed. Maybe she should have moved on by now, but she can’t stop thinking about what could have been. And she knows Ed still thinks about it, too.
But then, in an instant, their lives are changed forever.

In the aftermath, Eve’s world is upended. As stunning secrets are revealed, she begins to wonder if she really knew her friends as well as she thought. And when someone from the past comes back into her life, Eve’s future veers in a surprising new direction...

They say every love story starts with a single moment. What if it was just last night?

Mhairi McFarlane is an author that I appreciate. She always writes the kind of books that pull me in, sucks me dry of emotions, and leaves me with a giant smile on my face. This book was no different. From beginning to end, I was invested in what was going on and though I wouldn’t necessarily classify this book as a romance, there were enough romantic elements to keep my romance novel loving ass happy. This book wasn’t an easy read by any means and it covered a wide variety of topics that seriously had me engrossed from start to finish.

This book covered the topics of love, heartbreak, friendship, and loss in a way that kept me up late at night, reading page after page after page. This book was a little darker in tone than her other books but there was still McFarlane’s witty humor weaved throughout the story and that made me happy. I thought that McFarlane did a great job of writing full-bodied characters that I connected with whether I liked them or not and I felt Eve’s every emotion throughout the entire story. Eve does a lot of growing throughout this story and I was here for it all. At every point in this story, I was either crying along with her, cheering her on, or laughing because seeing her with her friends was pretty great. Her friendship with Ed, Justin, and Susie was such a treat for us readers and probably one of my favorite things in the entire book. Their friendship was far from perfect and there was a lot of struggles but honestly, that made me love them all the more.

This book made me cry and it made me laugh and I felt Eve’s every emotion. I was scared that because we knew going into the book that tragedy was going to strike, that the book would be a lot heavier than what I’m used to from Mhairi McFarlane, that Eve’s grief would be too much for me but I shouldn’t have worried at all because like I said earlier, McFarlane does a great job of spreading her trademark humor throughout the story so the sad parts didn’t bog the story down for me. There’s a great mix of everything inserted in this book and I’m glad that I picked this one up for review.

The romance was done well, too. Eve’s journey to self-discovery played a huge part in the book, and the love interest isn’t really revealed until well into the story, but I still enjoyed it. Seeing Eve fall in love and find her person made me happy. This was a great way to spend a few hours. I enjoyed getting to know everyone in Eve’s life, I enjoyed all of the pets, the complicated mess of everything, and seeing Eve really come into her own. This was another hit from McFarlane for me and I definitely recommend it.

4.25 out 5

four-stars


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