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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-09-20 18:50
Review: Cinderella, Necromancer by F.M. Boughan

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Ellison lost her mother at an early age. But since then, her father has found love again. He's happy and doesn't quite notice that Ellison does not get along with his new wife or her mean daughters. When Ellison discovers a necromantic tome while traveling the secret passages of her father's mansion, she wonders if it could be the key to her freedom. Until then, she must master her dark new power, even as her stepmother makes her a servant in her own home. And when her younger brother falls incurably ill, Ellison will do anything to ease his pain, including falling prey to her stepmother and stepsisters' every whim and fancy. Stumbling into a chance meeting of Prince William during a secret visit to her mother's grave feels like a trick of fate when her stepmother refuses to allow Ellison to attend a palace festival. But what if Ellison could see the kind and handsome prince once more? What if she could attend the festival? What if she could have everything she ever wanted and deserved by conjuring spirits to take revenge on her cruel stepmother? As Ellison's power grows, she loses control over the evil spirits meant to do her bidding. And as they begin to exert their own power over Ellison, she will have to decide whether it is she or her stepmother who is the true monster.

***Disclosure: I received a free copy in exchange for a review.***

 

What’s Good: How about the opening line for starters- “Blood. The blood of my enemies drips down my forearms, fleeing the confines of the spaces between my fingers, traveling toward freedom on the cold, stone floor.” Got your attention, yet?

 

This is a very imaginative twist on the fairytale. Everything old is new again in this one. There’s a few homages to the classic version of the tale, but ain’t no fairy godmothers floating around here. Nope- what comes to Ella’s aid is far more disturbing and best left undisturbed. Author F.M. Boughan cites researching historical texts and grimoires on necromancy, and it shows. Well done!

 

The necromancy comes into play as part of the struggle between Heaven and Hell, the forces of Good vs the armies of Evil. Ella’s struggles with what she’s doing and why are valid and believable. As her power grows, she thinks she’s come to terms with the price of it, but then she realizes that price is greater than she’s willing to pay. But will she be strong enough to do so anyway?

 

There’s several twists on the tale that’ll keep you involved; it’s like a full-on rendering of the original Brothers Grimm version- you know, with the sisters cutting off parts of their feet in order to fit the glass slipper and whatnot. Often gory and gruesome, this one ain’t for the faint of heart.

 

What’s Bad: Ella’s also a bit of a dunce. The author does a good job of putting you inside Ella’s head and making her feel like a vibrant, three-dimensional character, but too many times in the story she never bothered to question anything or stop to consider the consequences of her actions. She’s got a book of demonology/necromancy in her hands, but never bothers to read any further than what she needs to get what she wants yet always wonders about the dangers of abusing such power… maybe ya ought to flip a few pages ahead and find out???

 

She’s constantly skulking about the house trying to sneak around her new stepmother and siblings trying to learn things, only to bump, bang into or trip over something, leading to another Steve Erkel moment, “…oh, did *I* do that?!?” After a while you can pretty much see when they’re coming up.

 

There’s a few WTF moments in the plot that threaten to derail things. The night Ella’s father disappears he gives her something before he leaves- literally placing it in her hand. Does she look at it right away?- no. When does she look at it? Right after she sneaks out of the house in the dead of night, crawls under the locked main gate, runs all the way through the village to her mother’s grave, calls out to her mother’s spirit, meets a mysterious stranger who protects her from some Things That Go Bump In The Night, and sees her back to the village. Only after she’s safely home again after all that does she actually OPEN HER HAND to see what it was her father gave her. *facepalm*

 

The disappearance of Ella’s father made almost as much sense as all that did. For storytelling purposes he had to be out of the picture, sure, but… his reasons made no sense. It’s the usual “I had to leave to protect you” nonsense, except that he’s the one who created the problem in the first place by marrying Celia and knew full well what was going on, so clearly the best solution was to leave a bunch of people- including his own children- who’ve no idea about any of it at the tender mercies of some seriously malicious individuals and hope for the best. *double facepalm*

 

What’s Left: an entertaining, if flawed, work that you’ll enjoy reading. If all the Fairy Tale Re-imaginings are starting to get stale to you, this one’ll be a bit of fresh air.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-09-04 04:22
Review: Ariella's Escape by Carolee Croft

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Ariella had always believed that the life of a warrior should include indulging in wine and men whenever they were on offer… And in Chaldea, the capital of the old empire, they certainly were. … Especially the man she finds in her bedchamber, a slave provided by her hosts to entertain her in any way she wishes.

 

But when betrayed and surrounded by enemies in a strange land, there is only one man she can trust—the slave who was meant only for her pleasure but is much more than he seems.

 

Demetrius had been captured in battle at the age of 15, and slavery was all he had known in his adult life. When his chance for freedom comes along, his fate is bound to the noble warrior maiden whose voice and body he cannot resist. Duty calls him to return to his kingdom, but the journey will take him places that will change him forever.

 

Together, they make their way through a den of thieves and an enchanted elf forest, but the biggest danger of all may be their fiery attraction to each other and the secret that will draw a dividing line between them.

 

***Disclosure: I was provided a free copy in exchange for a review.***

 

This was an odd book. It definitely belongs in the Erotica Fantasy Romance category, even though it's not billed as such, which hurts it because if you knew that going in, you wouldn't feel so let down by it all.

 

What's Good: a female protagonist who swings a two-handed sword, rules her own lands and gets to make use of a sex slave while on a diplomatic mission? Heck yeah- I'm in! But that initial encounter at the start of the book is as good as it gets. The reasons behind the assassination attempt were interesting, showing a deeper game than some of the players knew they were involved in. But it needed more development, more to invest you into it.

 

What's Bad: where to start? How about the stilted, overly formal way everyone speaks all the time? All that was missing was a few doses of 'yea, verily' and we'd have Shakespeare.

 

Or the ridiculousness of the sexual situations? Ariella gets to bang Demetrius while visiting the castle- fine. But an innkeeper who wants a live sex show in exchange for room and board... and protecting them from the soldiers chasing them? Not buying it.

 

Or all the @$$ pull magicks that sound like they came from an all-night D&D session? Ariella happens to possess a magic crystal that creates a yellow-brick road that lets ride over the castle walls...? And that she's descended from a line of legendary magical warriors- a lineage she never knew about- so now she's also the Chosen One? Gotta be kidding me.

 

And that Wild Hunt-style thing with the elves... no, none of it made much sense and just felt like page filler. *smdh* The idea behind the prophecy is kinda interesting, but clumsily handled. It reminded me of a 90's anime called X- where two people were destined to be at opposite ends of a prophecy. And no matter which path one of them decided to take the other would have to automatically oppose them. Because reasons. That's pretty much what's going on here.

 

What's Left: what started out as an interesting fantasy adventure with a strong female lead that devolved into some kind of teenage hormone fest that's pretty much off the rails. Not that it can't be salvaged, but I don't see that happening.

 

2.5/5 stars

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review 2017-07-12 14:26
Glad to Be Finished
Some Enchanted Éclair - Bailey Cates

I did enjoy the book, but it took me longer than usual. Partially due to illness, I got very ill and was sleeping on the couch for 3 straight days and nights. Partially due to my dad (at almost 80 years old) falling off a ladder and getting hurt, so I have been driving down (about 75 miles as the bridge over the river is being worked on and they closed parts of it and traffic is horrendous). I am just glad to be finished because it was a library borrowed book and I really needed to return the book. 

 

This book has Katie and Declan working on their relationship. Steve trying to give them the space to do it, while he still yearns to be with Katie. 

 

A movie has come to town and it has been causing some problems. People who are excited to see actors and actresses close up and others who want to watch how the "magic" happens. Katie's uncle, Ben has been hired to be security for the film. He is using firefighters who are off shift to help keep the area free of visitors. Simon, the movie's fixer, comes into the Honeybee and requests a catered meal for the movie people. The caterer he had hired has just been fired and he needs food for the cast and staff quickly. Lucy and Katie decide that they will take on the job, but after the first day of the "fixer" has been murdered using their knife they sent with a watermelon. 

 

Ben and Katie want to find who murdered Simon since it was on his watch and using their knife. They decide to work together and use all their resources. They even use the main actresses medium, Ursula, to help them try to contact Simon to find out who did this to him. 

 

I have lived in a few towns that have hosted movies (Newport, KY - "Rainman" and another that I can't think of, it had Molly Ringwald. Lebanon, OH - a Hallmark Christmas Movie). It is interesting to see the "magic" and it is always interesting to see how people are willing to let their lives be disrupted for a short time to host Hollywood Elites. 

 

I have some pictures taken on very hot days of August, where all the signs say Merry Christmas and there is "snow" on the ground and many of the storefronts made up for Christmas. 

 

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It was fun to see two seasons at one time in our small town. 

 

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review 2017-05-30 16:01
Never Been So Happy to Quit a Series Before
No Quest For The Wicked - Shanna Swendson

Yeah this one was bad. I decided after this book to just stop the series. The repetitiveness and the utter stupidity of the main character just got on my last nerves. The last book was fairly short and this one was longer, but honestly the author could have cut out a lot of scenes and I would have been okay with that.

 

in "No Quest for the Wicked" we have Owen getting used a world in which he no longer has magic. Katie is bored just working in sales now as an immune. When Owen and Katie are given a task to find two magical objects (one that Merlin created) that can lead to someone ruling the world, they agree to take it on. They have the usual cast of characters (Sam, Katie's Grandma, Rod) and some new ones. We also have the unwelcome appearance of Katie's former boss in this one too.

 

I don't know what to say. I just realized that when Swendson threw in another group of evil magical users that I was out. I just don't care anymore about what happens to Katie or Owen. This book dragged. I seriously wanted to know at one point why the heck didn't Katie or Owen just take a damn magic carpet back to the MSI Inc., building and hide out until they got the magical box that could contain the magical objects. But that was me having common sense. We just follow this group and others as they run around New York trying to avoid people who are trying to steal the objects from them.

 

And this book ends with another twist that made me roll my eyes.  

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review 2017-05-30 15:55
Should Have Been the End of the Series
Much Ado About Magic - Shanna Swendson

Everything gets wrapped up in a bow in this (the fifth) book in the series. Not a lot of it makes sense. I think the author just took parts of Harry Potter and just reworked it here and there. 

 

In "Much Ado About Magic" we finally figure out who the big bad is that is trying to take out MSI Inc. and Merlin. 

 

Katie is back in New York in this one. She's happy to be back with her roommates and to be dating Owen. Honestly this book should have focused more on him since the majority of the plot was about Owen's real parents and his adopted ones. Also once again, not impressed about Merlin.

 

I don't want to get too spoilery in this review, but honestly this book should have been the end of the series. Things get wrapped up so to me it didn't make a lot of sense why this book has 8 books in the series from what I could see. 

 

The writing is so so for me. And I have to say that the book/series has become rather repetitive. We have Katie and Owen not communicating that well. Bad guy does something. MSI Inc. tries to respond. Bad guy does something. MSI, Inc. tries to respond. There is talking. Then there is a lame magical fight. 

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