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review 2018-02-11 14:06
Blood, Dirt and Lies (Death Witch #3) by Rachel Graves
Blood, Dirt, and Lies (The Death Witch ... Blood, Dirt, and Lies (The Death Witch Series Book 3) - Rachel Graves

Mallory the Death Witch can talk to ghosts which should really help her as a murder detective. But cryptic messages from a drowned ghost aren’t that helpful in actually solving their murder

 

When a second almost murder happens nearly right in front of her - and both victims seem to be heavily politically connected which brings even more of a level of pressure and complexity - and personal risk. These are powerful enemies to make

 

This book adds nicely to the world building in nicely gentle, non-info-dumpy ways. I really like how the book expanded on Selkies, giving us lots of hints about their culture without necessarily sitting us down for a lecture. Similarly the references to how magical beings had obviously faced brutal persecution and predation was referenced - and by referencing it we got the full history and ideal without actually having to lay it all out there. Similarly we have references to different magical creatures beyond the immediate ones we’ve seen as well as the different gods of the witches: and how those can blend with other traditions (one of Mallory’s friends is Jewish and a witch)

 

I really like how the world building is done in this book - in this series - this general gentle build, the exposure to many elements of the world time after time but never actually throwing a lot of it at us in a way that is false or confusing or irrelevant, making it all grow naturally


And I really like its depiction of police work, complete with so many red herrings, frustrations, complete lack of leads, going back, trying again, and again, looking for some clue. No easy fx, not quick answer with lots of wild theories on the way. And at the same time the police actually have lives, none of this idea that they should all spend every waking moment on the job. Yes they have lives and friends and hobbies and exercise and go running on a full moon through werewolf haunted woods (hey I didn’t say they did sensible things in their free time. Though, honestly, while I this is the kind of decision that would normally make me roll me eyes, I really like how this was portrayed. With mallory planning her perfect day, having it disrupted and promising herself that she could still salvage it, she could still get in that run, even as it increasingly became obvious she couldn’t, she promised herself it and couldn’t let it go. I can see that - because it’s the sort of thing people who do. Who like running, I guess. I mean, i find the whole thing quite bizarre, but if you sub in “pizza” for “run” then it makes a lot more sense). And they don’t spend all their time focusing on one case either. This murder matters - but there’s a lot of crime out there!

 

The plot just works with all this, her friends work with this and I love the world building

 

An element about Mallory and Jakob’s relationship - it is rare and interesting to have a series start with a relationship rather than have them fall in love and build a relationship during the series. I like the idea of that as it starts us in a very different place and also avoids fast forwarding the relationship. We also have Mallory and Jakob living very different lives which is also very different from most of the genre. Jakob is a vampire but he’s also a businessman, he has his own life and job and it doesn’t really intersect with Mallory’s job as a police detective. This is, again, really unique and I like it - I like that they have a relationship and don’t constantly live in each other’s lives and Mallory doesn’t have to fall back on Jakob’s woo-woo, resources or anything else. It’s surprisingly unique and I like it a lot

 

 

But… and I feel nitpicky saying it… I don’t have a huge sense of their relationship. Certainly not that they’re in love to the point of her moving in with them because they don’t seem to spend a lot of time together… I mean they spend time together - and have sex. He cooks for her - which is nice; and I really like how this goes into his past about how he faced famine and lost family members. This is excellent on several levels because it stops romanticising the past and adds an extra level of pathos to what living hundreds of years means and how it can leave long lasting scars. I mean it’s great about his development - but for their relationship? The one thing they willingly share together is now kind of pathologised… and it was all they had was sex (and they have a lot of sex - and I’m not against sex but they need something other than sex, desperate feeder obsession and Painful Conversations About Vampires). The few social occasions they spend together - going to his church for mass (she’s not religious), a birthday party for E (which Mallory spent all evening being kind of a less than pleasant grump), watching the super-bowl (which Jakob isn’t really interested in). I get tolerating your partner’s hobbies, believe me, I’m endured a lot of inept attempts to learn how to play musical instruments - but your relationship needs to be more than sex, deep-seated insecurity and then tolerating each other.

 

I really like that they have seperate lives and we didn’t see the beginning of the relationship - but now we need to see that actual relationship

 

 

 

Read More

 

 

Source: www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2018/02/blood-dirt-and-lies-death-witch-3-by.html
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text 2017-09-05 13:10
Children Books I've Read Recently

Recently I decided to go on a binge of reading children stories. I was just in a nostalgic mood and ended up reading some books I never got around to reading when I was younger, and some that are newer published.

 

Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows, Sophie Blackall (Illustrator) 

#1 (4 stars)

I was browsing through the kid section of the overdrive library, because I was in the mood for some children/middle grade (possibly nostalgic stuff from my past) and I saw the cover for this book. I thought it looked cute, so I checked it out. I liked it. I think it was silly and fun, and of course cute. I'm in my 30s, but I like to believe I still have a firm grasp on my inner child. I can still relate to younger characters. In the case of these two, I can relate to their imagination and how they get along with family; especially annoying a sibling.

 

----

 

The Adventures of Captain Underpants Dav Pilkey

#1 (5 stars)

I think this book is fun, silly, weird, but I can see why it is a hit or miss with some people. I enjoyed the artwork.

 

----

 

Scream Street by Tommy Donbavand

Fang of the Vampire #1 (5 stars)

 

I thought this series looked interesting and it turned out pretty fun and cute.

Blood of the Witch #2 (4 stars)

I'm on the fence if I liked this one better than the first one or not. It was quite silly, but not in a bad way, and the author is obviously going with his own vampire lore of how vampires are made

and cured.

(spoiler show)

At least they don't sparkle. ha ha

A fun, quick paced read.

 

----

 

The Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne, Salvatore Murdocca (Illustrator)

 

Dinosaurs Before Dark #1 (4 stars)

I never read this series as a kid. It is just one of the ones I over looked and never thought about. But I thought this was cute and fun, especially for the age group it is intended for. The only reason adult me would give it a lower rating is because I would love more details and I believe even as a child reading this, more details couldn't hurt!

The Knight at Dawn #2 (3 Stars)

The only reason I give the volumes after #1 a 3 star instead of a 4 star is because of the repetitiveness. The summery of past books within the new story would be really helpful for a person who hasn't read the series in a long time. I will give this series that! So I understand why it happens, but it takes something from me as an adult reader.

However the books are cute and fun. I can relate to them, even as an adult, because I love books and would love to be in their shoes, to see all the worlds in the books, and who wouldn't want a magic tree house?

Mummies In The Morning #3 (3 Stars)

Now that I have finished the 3rd book in the series, I am starting to wonder... is the magic tree house really there, or are the children making up everything in their heads? Either way, I really like it!

Pirates Past Noon #4 (3 Stars)

So now we know who "M" is. I still wonder if the children are making up everything in their minds. Imagination is a powerful thing! Either way, this series is really fun. Sure, it's simple and short for adult readers, but that is completely fine by me! It is nice to sit down with some books without all the young adult drama. Also, I feel like these "children" books and other nostalgia type books are really good when you are in a reading slump.

 

----

 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

#1 (4 stars)

I think I would have rated this higher if the kid hadn't been such a brat. I know kids can be bratty, but he seemed way over the top! I would even say he has a meanness to him and doesn't care what the coincidences of his actions are. I felt sorry for his so called best friend.

I do like diary format in books. I might read more in the series. I hope he grows as a character as the series goes on.

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review 2017-04-17 23:18
Fire in Her Blood (Death Witch # 2) by Rachel Graves
Fire in Her Blood (The Death Witch Series Book 2) - Rachel Graves

There’s an arsonist in the city – an arsonist wielding lethal magical fire

 

But the fire witches in the city seem to be losing their power – except for the Fire Mage she has to work with who seems connected to her boyfriend Jakob – who Mallory has to work with despite the awkwardness.

 

Throw in some lethal vampire politics, friend issues and Jakob being determined to buy Mallory a car and she’s got a lot on her plate.

 

 

 

This book had many of the elements of the last book Iloved – especially the detective work. We have the twist, we have the distraction, we have the chasing down of various leads, coming up with theories, discounting them, coming back to them, then not finding evidence and having to go back to the drawing board.


And having more than one case! Even if they are related. How many police shows/books/etc have the character get to focus all of their attention on one case like there’s absolutely nothing else on their case load?

 

I really do like the police work and investigation in this series so far. I don’t think I was quite as much a fan of the police work in this book because I guessed what had happened rather a lot before I was supposed to which meant a lot of the red herrings felt more like distractions. I was almost frustrated with Mallory for not seeing what seemed to be pretty obvious

 

I do really love the idea that you can build all of these super elaborate theories about a criminal’s motives but how often do people do things for such petty, minor reasons? I like that a lot –I like the humanness of it, even when it’s so banal. I think this works so well because it both makes it very real but it also is a nice contrast from so many other books where the scale and stakes are always so high. Seriously you can have an interesting story without the entire world being in balance, or the city about to be eaten by sea serpents or something. I really like that, the closeness of it –but it still mattering because people were dying, people were hurting. It still matted without the spectre of apocalypse.

 

I also really like Mallory and her friends interacting. They’re really good together, great fun – and lo a protagonist with friends, a protagonist with a social life, a protagonist with a life outside of work.

 

This should not be a rare thing. Really, it shouldn’t be a rare thing, Really. But sadly it is – and her having a circle of so many female friends who are all awesome in their own way is really rare. A woman who doesn’t live for her work and who even has friends who *gasp* care about silly female things and fripperies? Yes we have it here

 

 

I also like the explorations of the different gods and the witches as well as how this bleeds over into social issues and society (like he Fire witches, their insular nature, wealth and class biases as well as how they regard family members without magic). Or spirit witches and how their senses change how they react to different things is also really excellently done


I also admire how the author restrains themselves from using ALL THE THINGS. We’ve already established that there are many many shiny magical creatures in this world. And though we see a lot of them we see them briefly and the whole book isn’t swamped by a gazillion creatures and details. Instead we have a nice, slow, build as more and more of this world is introduced as and when it becomes relevant. And, just like not needing to use epic events to keep the story interesting, it equally doesn’t need to use every creature and power to make the world interesting.

 

I still don’t like Jakob or Mallory’s relationship with him. I like his cooking – but I don’t like that nearly every interaction between them is basically sex. They’re together? Sex tends to happen

 

Here we do have the introduction of E, an old friend/family member of Jakob’s which makes things even worse. Because now we have this shallow relationship with extra jealousy – which keeps happening over and over again even when it’s long since clear that there’s no reason to feel that way. I also wish we’d explore more of brutal vampire society and how Mallory feels about that. Instead we have a kind of studied denial – she’s not going to look too hard at the bad stuff in case, well, she seems to deliberately avoid the whole thing.

 

This book has a mix of approaching diversity and prejudice. Witches are shown to be facing prejudiced which has issues with the supernatural being conflated with real world prejudice (remember, actual real world prejudice would be vastly different if marginalised people could throw fire around) but at the same time addressing real world prejudice, not just the overt and the vicious but also the banal and daily macroaggression POC often face to conflating of different ethnicities.

 

I also have to say while it is not an ideal to compare magical prejudices to real life ones, the way they deal with Mallory and her PTSD over werewolves is interesting: because she knows she has to deal with werewolves despite the trauma she’s suffered. She recognises that judging all wolves because of these experiences she had is wrong. She has issues with them, she needs help – and equally recognises this is something she has to deal with and fix within herself: not that all werewolves need to stay away from her or how it’s totally ok for her to hate them

 

We have decent racial diversity among the side characters: Ben is a native Hawaiian and taking more of an involved role in the book and being closer to Mallory’s friends. Her friends are different figures, but all considered attractive at their different weights, one is Jewish, one is Latina. We also have Mallory’s boss who is a Black man and Indigo who is a Latino man. Along with this we have bit characters like Djinn and Yuki-Onnna. This is one of the books where we do have several POC but when you look at the focus – Mallory, Jakob, Danny, Mark – are White

 

 

Read More

 

 

Source: www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2017/03/fire-in-her-blood-death-witch-2-by.html
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review 2016-10-06 07:01
Don't Mess with the Snowflake: Blood Prophecy | Review
Blood Prophecy: Witch Fairy, Book 2 - Bonnie Lamer,Bonnie Lamer,Emily Durante

Another YA Contemporary Fantasy sequel that I liked better than its predecessor.

 

The Fairy mercenaries may be back in their own realm, but the Witches still want Xandra dead. Fearing an ancient prophecy, the Witches are determined to keep Xandra from destroying the world. Still new to her magical powers, she must learn to use her Witch magic in order to protect herself and those she loves.

 

Now, if only she can get her magic to cooperate. Once again, Xandra is tasked with determining who is friend and who is foe as she faces this new threat. Not to mention digging around in the family skeleton closet to find out what else she's never been told. In the end, will she be powerful enough to take on the eight most powerful Witches in the world?

 

Buy Now | +Goodreads

Disclosure: GMB uses affiliate links, clicking and making a purchase may result in a small commission for me.


Source: I purchased the book myself from Audible. It is available exclusively from them.

 

BOOK DETAILS:

Blood Prophecy by Bonnie Lamer, read by Emily Durante, published 2014 / Length: 6 hrs 4 min

 

SERIES INFO:

This is Book #2 is the (very long) "Witch Fairy" series. So far, the first 4 are available on audio, and there are indications that more are coming.

 

**This review contains spoilers for the previous book.**

 

SUMMARY:

I liked this one more than the first. There is more going one & more people involved. Plus the initial antagonism between the original characters is mostly resolved.

 

CHARACTERS:

Xandra: We know from the start that she's a special snowflake with a prophecy about her. I like that her unique heritage continues to cause as many problems (magic/power wise) as it solves. (Although I do think that things are sometimes resolved a bit too easily, and that the others should be allowed to participate more.) She continues to be more than a bit of a smart-alec.

 

Kallen: There are novellas that tell each story from his POV. I quite liked the one for Book #1, which is the only one I've read so far; and which actually improved my rating of the original book. The problem (for me) is that they aren't available on audio. So I personally wish the material was simply integrated into the main books.

 

Without the information in that book, he is a very typical YA hero - tall, gorgeous, powerful, adoring. With it, he is much more interesting. I like that he takes her emotional temperature, and defends her father.

 

Xandra & Kallen: They really still barely know each other (and come from very different backgrounds), so they naturally have misunderstandings of various magnitude throughout the book. I like that, typical teenage response aside, they always get around to talking about it.

 

It is interesting to watch Xandra & her parents try to find a new dynamic. She is still only 17, but has become very powerful. And their foolish choice to keep her in the dark about her heritage still stands between them somewhat. I really like her (human, ghost) Dad.

 

WORLDBUILDING:

Like the first book, this takes place almost entirely on the mountain where Xandra was raised. The first one introduced witches & fairies, this book eventually adds a third group (I won't say who, to avoid spoilers).

 

We learn quite a bit more about the witches government here. And also more about their kinds of magic. Note: I was thinking that the poetry of the witch spells was kind of lame, when Xandra called out that very thing.

 

PLOT:

This book beginning the next morning after the previous one ended. The beginning did a good job of getting you up to speed (Xandra even says, "long story short")

 

The ending resolves the current problem completely, but then throws in a new element.

 

HIGHLIGHTS / CAUTIONS:

  • Kallen is safe from one of her spells (and the reason).
  • Zack (her little brother). I wish he was in it more.
  • Xandra fit the punishment to the crime (and recognized that there's a legitimate need for some of her opponents).

 

I COULD HAVE DONE WITHOUT: I still seriously question the wisdom of sleeping together when you don't intend to have sex. (This is especially true when a lapse in control would mean you were automatically married, and you aren't ready for that. Note: Xandra specially expresses that she thinks the whole sex = marriage thing is out dated.)

 

OTHER CAUTIONSCaution: There is some heavy making out.

 

NARRATION:

Character voices differentiated = Yes / Opposite sex voices acceptable = Yes. The grandfather sounds gruff and very grandpa-ish to me / Accents = She does a good "bad British accent" / Phrasing, Pacing & Pronunciation = Good / Emoting = Good / Speed = Good. My usual 1.25 speed is a bit fast

 

BOOK DETAILS:

Blood Prophecy (Witch Fairy #2) by Bonnie Lamer, read by Emily Durante, published 2014 / Length: 6 hrs 4 min Buy Now | +Goodreads

Talk to Me (pretty please)

  • Who's your favorite younger brother or sister character?
  • Do you read sequels of books that you merely liked?

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review 2016-08-13 07:01
Good Enough to Go On: True of Blood | Review
True of Blood: Witch Fairy Series, Book 1 - Bonnie Lamer,Bonnie Lamer,Emily Durante

I liked this YA Contemporary Fantasy better after reading more of the series.

 

Xandra Illuminata Smith has lived for the last three years with ghosts as parents but her life gets even stranger after her seventeenth birthday when she finds out that her mother is actually a Witch in hiding and her biological father, whom she knew nothing about, is a Fairy and King of the Fae realm.

 

Xandra is the first Witch Fairy to be born in thousands of years for very good reason. No one should be able to control that much magic and Xandra was never meant to be born at all but her mother has managed to keep her hidden away until now.

 

The Witches want her dead and the Fairies want her blood, for only her blood will reopen the gateway to the Fae realm and allow them back into this realm to take revenge on humans and Witches alike for having banished them hundreds of years ago.

 

Buy Now | +Goodreads

Whispersync Deal Alert*: Kindle + Audible = $2.98.

Disclosure: GMB uses affiliate links, clicking and making a purchase may result in a small commission for me.


Source: I purchased this book myself from Audible

 

BOOK DETAILS:

True of Blood by Bonnie Lamer, read by Emily Durante, published 2013 / Length: 7 hrs 35 min

 

SERIES INFO:

This is Book #1 of more than a dozen books in the ongoing "Witch Fairy" series. Books #1-4 are available in audio so far.

 

SUMMARY:

I had some issues with this book the first time I read it, but I liked it better after reading #1.5 (which tells this part again from Kallen's perspective) and #2. My biggest problem with the book is that it contains one of my strongest pet peeves - parents who keep dangerous, potentially life threatening, secrets from their children. If it weren't for Kallen, her mother's failure to prepare her would have ended with her death on the first day. (I have a rant post planned on this subject, so I won't say more here.)

 

I chose to read the next books in the first place because, even with the problems, the book had a lot of memorable scenes that I enjoyed.

 

 

CHARACTERS:

Xandra: Secretly wanted to be Hermione when she was younger. She strikes me as a very typical teenage girl in a very untypical situation. She makes the best of what she has, and does her best to be a good older sister to her brother. I didn't always agree with her decisions though.

 

Kallen: A typical YA hero - rude, arrogant, and not unlikely to kill Xandra to stop her from fulfilling the prophecy. He grew on me as the book went along.

 

Xandra & Kallen: This is not a case of InstaLove, but InstaAttraction with lots of dislike. Nevertheless, the romance does go from 0 to 60 much too fast for my taste, and without enough details regarding why they each develop feelings (other than each is so attractive).

 

Despite his initial actions, there are several things I like about how Kallen behaves: He owns up to his bad behavior and sincerely apologizes; he doesn't move forward without checking that she is truly has feelings for him; and he makes sure she fully understands the fairy customs and implications of various actions.

 

WORLDBUILDING:

This is our world with witch & fairy realms within it. Their magics have similar origins but very different methods of use. The geographical setting of the book is very limited (Xandra's house and the mountain where it is located) but well described.

 

PLOT:

The beginning did a good job of giving the background on their current circumstance and I really like the way the "story" of her parents is told. Everything moves very quickly. The ending resolves the current situation but sets up a cliffhangerish new one.

 

HIGHLIGHTS / CAUTIONS:

  • Her ghostly parents follow the internet connections to make sure her online friends aren't creepers.
  • Xandra puts the smackdown on Kallen for his behavior and attitude.
  • Her response to the darts.

 

I COULD HAVE DONE WITHOUT: Minor swearing / All the stuff about the fairies being naked after shifting / Their sleeping together without "sleeping together" - I never think that's a good idea. Plus, they end up pushing things to the point where they could have ended up going further than than they were ready for.

 

OTHER CAUTIONSCaution: Xandra's biological parents weren't married and had barely met. / The witches were going to force an abortion before her mother used violence to escape.

 

NARRATION:

Character voices differentiated = Yes / Opposite sex voices acceptable = Yes / Phrasing, Pacing & Pronunciation = Good / Emoting = Good, captures Xandra's slight snarkiness / Speed = listened on 1.25, my usual, and it was just a touch fast

 

BOOK DETAILS:

True of Blood (Witch Fairy #1) by Bonnie Lamer, read by Emily Durante, published 2013 / Length: 7 hrs 35 min Buy Now | +Goodreads

Talk to Me (pretty please)

  • Can you recommend any books were the parents actually prepare their kids for danger (and the kids don't disbelieve)?
  • What's your biggest bookish pet peeve?

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