Review of ‘Enchanted Autumn’ by Ursula Klein

‘Enchanted Autumn’ is an engaging romance, full of magic, interesting characters and the perfect setting. Hazel is a Salem witch – and a real one at that. With a black cat, her very own broom stick and a penchant for potion-making, she is proud of who she is. That is until English academic, Dr Elizabeth Cowrie, arrives in town. The history researcher has an interest in the Salem witch trials, but does not believe in magic. In fact she scoffs at the very idea that it may exist. Hazel’s attraction to her is going to be a problem, as she must decide if she’s willing to give up her true self in pursuit of love. 

I loved that the story was set in Salem. The author managed to weave some historical details from the witch trials into this modern romance. But it was ultimately about the triumph of magic, of love. Hazel was an astute businesswoman, but still managed to stay true to her roots. Her witchcraft was important to her and to the whole community, even if some of them were not aware of her true nature. Elizabeth may have been a sceptic, but she was kind, passionate and intelligent. I adored the ‘Britishisms’ scattered throughout the story. They were spot-on. I also enjoyed the writing style, which pulled me into their world, a world I’d like to revisit. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘A Letter To Three Witches’ by Elizabeth Bass

‘A Letter To Three Witches’ by Elizabeth Bass is a delightful story that is sure to be the first in a much anticipated series. Gwen’s family have been forbidden to practice witchcraft by the Grand Council of Witches. Nearly one hundred years ago her great-great grandfather cast a spell that caused havoc and since then his descendants have been watched closely. Any whiff of magic and they are in big trouble. Although Gwen and her cousins, Trudy and Milo, have avoided being caught for minor transgressions, things change when Gwen’s adopted sister puts a spanner in the works. She sends a letter to each stating that she will steal one of their partners by the end of the week. Who will it be?  And how will they stop her? The stress results in the magic they have been denying surfacing, with disastrous consequences. Long buried secrets threaten to change everything they thought was true.

This was a lighthearted, funny and totally enchanting read. It was the perfect escapism, and one I really appreciated in these difficult times. It was a wonderfully conceived story, with some laugh out loud moments and some poignant ones too. I loved the characters and the world Elizabeth Bass has imagines. I want more of these characters and I can’t wait to read the next one.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Keepers’ by Kelli Jae Baeli

‘Keepers’ book one in the New Harbor Witches series by Kelli Jae Baeli is a fantastic start to the series, with plenty to grab the reader’s attention. Dane and her sister have been estranged for years, after Penny fled her home town. Dane was left to look after the family bistro and their grandmother, a woman whose very presence sucked the joy out of life. When grandmother dies life changes for the women, and they become aware of a part of their inheritance that is completely unexpected. Strange things begin to happen to them both, and slowly the unexplained becomes clear. How will Dane and Penny cope with their new reality – and how do those around them fit in? 

I felt invested in Dane and Penny’s story from the start and couldn’t put the book down. It’s an excellent mystery with fascinating characters, set in a world the reader can believe in. It’s also very funny and sexy and downright addictive. It left me wanting a whole lot more, so I’ll be reading book 2, ‘Ravens’, ASAP. 

Review of ‘Threadneedle’ by Cari Thomas

ThreadNeedle is stunning. The writing is intensely beautiful, and carried me off into a world of magic and love, secrets and lies. Anna has been warned of the dangers of magic, but as she approaches her sixteenth birthday, things begin to change. Effie and Attis come into her life, and it becomes more difficult to resist that magic and believe what she has been told. Joining The Binders has been her fate. But is she ready for a life of pain and denial? Her Aunt is determined she will do as she is told, but Anna’s eyes are opened to new possibilities. As the story unfolds we enter a world of wonder, of magical libraries, of underground secrets hidden from the ‘real’ world. I was hungry for more. The story was brilliantly conceived and I couldn’t put it down. I want more and more of the same. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Golden Sea’ by Emma Sterner-Radley

Golden Sea is the second in the Mapmaking Magicians series by Emma Sterner-Radley. I’ve been eagerly awaiting its release, as I loved the first book, Silver Beasts.  The four friends are back at the Hall of Explorers, but things have changed. The King is determined to carry on with his agenda and is now less willing to stick to the original plan. No wonder the students are worried. As well as dealing with their forthcoming dangerous mission, their emotions cause them further confusion. Dealing with them will not be easy.  

Wonderfully descriptive language takes the reader into the world of Cavarra, a world that has been meticulously created. I loved how the story opened out and in some ways things became clearer. We learned more about the history and backstory, but the author also teased us with tantalising titbits of adventures to come. It’s a YA story, but its appeal goes far beyond that audience. The fantasy, magic and mystery within the story makes it a great read for a much wider audience. I really enjoyed it and look forward to the next in the series. 

Review of ‘Silver Ravens’ by Jane Fletcher

‘Silver Ravens’ is a fascinating story of puzzles, magic, folklore and adventure. I.T. professional Lori Cooper has had a rough time and needs something to take her mind off relationship and job problems. Coming upon a set of interesting puzzles in a computer magazine gives her the distraction she needs. But there’s more to them than just a bit of fun. Leather-clad stranger Tamsin tries to tell her she commands a troop of warriors working for the queen of the fay. Unsurprisingly Lori’s having none of it.  That’s until her puzzle-solving skills mean she’s in demand – and Tamsin won’t take no for an answer. 

Jane Fletcher’s excellent world-building and knowledge of  folklore really made this book for me. Her imaginative writing never fails to drawn me in. I loved finding out about Annwyn through Lori’s eyes. Her descriptions of the strange world were beautifully written and it had a few twists that ensured the story had an originality and flair of its own. A wonderful book, full of fantastic magical mythology , well-drawn characters and puzzles galore.  I really enjoyed it. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘A Hint of Hope’ by Nita Round

‘A Hint Of Hope’ is the second prequel in the Towers of the Earth Fantasy series. I loved being back with Magda and Ascara, as they join with pirates to free thousands of captured slaves from a tyrannical regime – and in the process try to capture the world’s most advanced airship. The mixture of steampunk, the gifted with special powers and an exciting adventure had me hooked from the start.  We get to find out more about the world they inhabit and about the people living in it. The more I find out the more I want to know. This enthralling story was full of wonder and imagination and it has made me desperate to find out what comes next for the pair. Roll on the next instalment.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Silver Beasts’ by Emma Sterner-Radley

‘Silver Beasts’ is the story of four teenagers chosen to represent their respective counties at the Hall of Explorers, a prestigious training academy. Their aim is to learn all they can before they leave for new lands, where they hope to find a way to escape the silver beasts that threaten their very existence. Cavarra has been blighted by these insects, mutated into metal by absorbing magic. Avelynne, Hale, Sabina and Eleksander must work hard if they are to save their people. Do they have what it takes? And is everything quite as clear cut as they are lead to believe?

This story had impressive world-building, magic, a steampunky vibe and mysteries and secrets that kept me engrossed. But it was also about finding out the truth and discovering who they really were and what they were capable of. The young people began to learn their strengths and weaknesses. I liked seeing how they they grew in confidence and changed as they got to know each other. The writing was skilled and imaginative and I really enjoyed being in Cavarra for a few hours.

It’s obviously the first in a series and left me keen to find out what happens next. I hope Emma Sterner-Radley doesn’t keep us waiting too long.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Floodtide’ by Heather Rose Jones

‘Floodtide’ by Heather Rose Jones is a historical fiction story, set in a land where magic and mystery has its place. Told from the point of view of a teenage servant girl, it lets the reader see all echelons of society, and how they deal with an impending flood – and the serious health and societal implications it brings. Roz was dismissed from her previous job as a laundry maid after being reported for indulging in indecent acts with another young woman. What looks like the worst thing that could happen turns out to be the start of a new life, with its share of challenges – but with new friends and a new purpose.

I was transported to another place and time by the author. Heather Rose Jones has a talent for meticulous world-building and her writing shows intelligence and a flair for her craft. The story was beautifully teased out, with secrets we get to know as Roz does. Roz was an interesting character. She knew what she could expect from life but there were some things she was willing to defy expectations for.  And that could get her into a lot of trouble. Liking girls was always going to be a problem – but she wasn’t the only one. The hierarchy of society was integral to this story, and adding that to the idea of charms and mysteries made it a fascinating read. The word that comes to mind when finishing this book is exquisite. I loved it.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘The Book Witch’ by Annette Mori

‘The Book Witch’ is funny, quirky and full of surprising twists. The first book in the series ‘The Book Addict’ introduced us to Elle and Tanya, who are now all loved-up. When Imara, a book witch with the power to bring characters to life, appears in town things begin to get exciting again. She wants to help Jai, a local teacher, find love at last. But she needs her friends to help. Things are never that simple though and enemies, old and new, try to put a spoke in the machine. 

Ms Mori uses some unique plot devices to take this story in very unexpected directions. Fans of the author will be thrilled to find some of their favourite characters from other series turn up. This really worked for me. In a book about the supernatural I was was surprised to find myself suspending belief and really going with the premise. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if book witches did exist and our beloved characters came to life? This was exactly the kind of book I wanted to read and I salute the imagination of Annette Mori. 

I was given this ARC for review.