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review SPOILER ALERT! 2019-01-18 20:57
A Whispered Wish is Not What Romance Readers Wish For

Genre: Fantasy

Word Count: 78,230 words

My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Zoe hates camping. She loves air conditioning and staying indoors and cozy, but when her friends and boyfriend drag her out into the middle of the woods, she comes along. But things get even more complicated when she wakes up far away from her tent– as a pixie.

Can she become human again with the help of Prince Crispin, a handsome pixie? Or as feelings grow between them, will she even want to go back to her human life?

I decided to give A Whispered Wish a shot thanks to a ridiculous one-star review on Smashwords, written by someone who hadn’t read past the first two lines. But the novel was so cringeworthy, I almost sympathized with that asshole reviewer.

Just reading the novel was a toilsome task, thanks to the obvious typos and grammatical errors infecting the text, not to mention the random tense changes that yanked me out of the story every other page.

But even if I’d been able to be absorbed into the story, there wouldn’t have been anything to be absorbed into. Nothing freaking happens for two thirds of the book!

The beginning involves flimsy world-building and back story and preaching about how humans are horrible and they “can learn a thing or two from the pixies.” That line appears not once, but twice in a book meant to be read by adults, not five-year-olds.

This would be more tolerable if it was the pixies saying this to Zoe, who, as a human, defended herself and humankind. But instead, it was Zoe who instantly accepted that she and all other humans, including her friends and boyfriend, was hellspawn.

She accepts that humans are monsters about two minutes after realizing she turned into a pixie when she asks the other pixies if she can tell her human friends what’s happening.

 “is there a way that we can let them know? Please? I can’t let them keep looking for me. They will be so worried,” tears still flowing. Only now, she can’t stop them.

Fionna pops up beside them, “I’m sorry Zoë, but we just can’t. To let them know that we exist is very dangerous for us.”

“You have to understand,” Brigid said, “they will exterminate us just to find out what makes us what we are.” Zoë knows they are right about this, anything new or something they didn’t understand as humans they dissected or destroyed.

A Whispered Wish, page 30

Are her friends effing Nazis? I can’t think of another reason for why she would have so little faith in them. I’m not saying they should tell the press, but maybe Zoe’s best friends and her motherfreaking boyfriend won’t kill her just because she sprouted wings and shrank to two inches.

Conflict doesn’t flare up until two thirds into the book, and even then, the conflict is more like brief sparks instead of a raging fire. There are a few action scenes, but the action was over so fast, I had to reread them to actually process them happening.

The main conflict between two pixie kingdoms feels more like an afterthought than an actual plotline.

All of a sudden, the pixies stop being this shining beacon of superiority and start being savage and warlike. Prince Crispin and his friends, who have never seen battle before, become expert fighters the second war is declared. It’s contrived and borderline absurd, but that’s fine because the final battle is over in like two pages.

Perhaps A Whispered Wish could have snatched a third star from me with the skin of its teeth if the characters had good chemistry, funny dialogue, or even an ounce of personality, but no.

All the men are strong, athletic, and ready to save the females while making sexist jokes about how women take forever shopping. The women are all kind, girly, and able to manipulate the men with their puppy eyes.

The two most interesting characters are the Queen of Devonshire, and Jaxxon, a defect from Pembrokeshire, and they only have a couple of scenes. Everyone else absurdly boring. 

So,  A Whispered Wish is a solid two-star read. With some heavy editing and revising, it could have been good, but as is, it’s less interesting than the average hospital waiting room. A Whispered Wish is free on Smashwords.

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review 2019-01-16 21:07
The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic / Emily Croy Barker
The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic - Emily Croy Barker

Nora Fischer’s dissertation is stalled and her boyfriend is about to marry another woman.  During a miserable weekend at a friend’s wedding, Nora wanders off and walks through a portal into a different world where she’s transformed from a drab grad student into a stunning beauty.  Before long, she has a set of glamorous new friends and her romance with gorgeous, masterful Raclin is heating up. It’s almost too good to be true.

Then the elegant veneer shatters. Nora’s new fantasy world turns darker, a fairy tale gone incredibly wrong. Making it here will take skills Nora never learned in graduate school. Her only real ally—and a reluctant one at that—is the magician Aruendiel, a grim, reclusive figure with a biting tongue and a shrouded past. And it will take her becoming Aruendiel’s student—and learning magic herself—to survive. When a passage home finally opens, Nora must weigh her "real life" against the dangerous power of love and magic.

 

Not quite what I was anticipating—which is a bit of an issue when the book is over 500 pages!

Under normal circumstances, I adore books which include the Fae, which this one does. Nora, our main character, bumps into an odd guy on campus and he rather obscurely grants her wish for a complete change of pace in life. One assumes that he is a member of this book’s Faitoren who was inhabiting our world, instead of the alternate world that Nora is transported to.

This is very much an alternate reality book—like Stephen Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant series, H. Beam Piper’s Paratime novels or Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. In this iteration, Nora gets transported into a rather medieval world which relies on magic rather than technology. Of course, she discovers some facility for magic, which saves her life from being total drudgery.

One of my main issues was the character of Aruendiel, the magician who rescues Nora from the Faitoren and assumes responsibility for her in this very, very patriarchal world. He’s no Dumbledore or Gandalf—he’s cranky, prejudiced, and arrogant. His relationship with Nora is a very reluctant one, consisting more of feeling responsible for her than any affection. Then when the balance seems to twist towards Aruendiel wanting more of their relationship, he isn’t willing to unbend enough to verbalize it, leaving Nora really to twist in the wind, wondering if she’s imagining things. Just to confuse things even more, Aruendiel seems to try fairly often to foist her on other men as a wife or he is searching for a “window” to send her home to her own reality. There’s a limited amount of speculation about the magician’s age and I gained the feeling that he was way too old to be a viable love-interest for Nora.

There is some exploration of the notion that Nora, coming from our reality, doesn’t act enough like a (subservient) woman in the magic time line. But the chances to explore the nature of the relations between men and women gets short shrift (except on the many occasions when Nora is pissed off about it). She basically works like a galley slave on Aruendiel’s estate except when he grants her special privileges to study or practice magic.


Although Nora ends up feeling attracted to Aruendiel, I just couldn’t feel the basis for it. He was too old, too arrogant, too prejudiced against women. I could understand some respect for him as a teacher (although he didn’t seem to be all that great an instructor, honestly), but beyond that was beyond my ability to suspend my disbelief.

Nevertheless, there’s a lid for every pot and I’m sure that this book will suit a lot of readers better than it did me.

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review 2019-01-02 16:25
Bone Crossed / Patricia Briggs
Bone Crossed - Patricia Briggs

Marsilia, the local Vampire Queen, has learned that Mercy crossed her by slaying a member of her clan—and she's out for blood. But since Mercy is protected from direct reprisal by the werewolf pack (and her close relationship with its sexy Alpha), it won't be Mercy's blood Marsilia is after.

It'll be her friends'.

 

2018 Re-read:

 

One of my favourite Mercy Thompson novels!  Lots of vampire drama, but most importantly we get to know Stefan better.  Is it wrong that I still wish Mercy had chosen him rather than Adam?  Mercy gets to really draw on her skinwalker powers, proving once again that being a growly werewolf is not necessarily as tough as the wily coyote!  (BTW, I saw a big fluffy coyote over the Xmas holidays, and thought of Ms. Thompson).

 

Re-reading this series has really re-set my internal reading-metre.  I’m enjoying myself again, recovering from a potential reading slump before it really got hold of me.  Thank you, Ms. Briggs, for giving me that oomph to escape the downward pull of the book-slump-undertow!

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review 2018-12-27 15:07
A magical book for readers young at heart. Highly recommended
Tales from the Irish Garden - Sally Cronin

I received an ARC copy of this book from the publisher, and I freely decided to review it.

I have followed the author’s blog Smorgasbord Invitation for quite a while. She is an expert on many topics, including health, media, publishing, and she is a great supporter of other writers and artists. She has also published a large number of books, non-fiction and fiction, and she has shared many of her short stories in her blog. I read and reviewed her book Tales from the Garden a while back (you can check my review here) and had been looking forward to this book since I heard about it.

While the original book contained pictures from the author and her relatives’ gardens, for this book she counts with the collaboration of talented illustrator Donata Zawadzka, who provides a black and white ink illustration for each one of the stories/chapters of this enchanting book. The style of the illustrations suits this wonderful realm perfectly, and the images helped bring the stories to life more fully.

The book follows on from the stories of the fairy realm of Magia. Queen Filigree and her subjects have to leave their garden in Spain due to a new property development. Although some of her stone guardians cannot follow to the new location, in Ireland, we get to meet some fantastic new characters, like the Storyteller, a man with his own magic, who helps our friends in need. We have a prince charming for the queen, magical dressmakers; we also learn more about how the palace works, from the royal pigeons and their carer, to the magical spiders, Queen Bee and her subjects, and the frogs who also help with pest control and building work. Some of our old acquaintances are up to no good, and we also learn more about the queen’s daughters (pretty but not always wise).

The stories follow the seasons of the year, and we have many occasions to join in their celebrations, with new musicians and banquets, and we can enjoy stories set in particular times of the year, from local fairs to Halloween. I cannot choose a favourite because I enjoyed them all, from the piglet races to the touching story of the Storytellers’ daughter.

The style of writing is accessible, fluid and suitable to all ages. These fairy-tales contain gorgeous descriptions of places, costumes, foods, and also characters that go beyond the standard cardboard cut-outs we have come to expect. We have witches suffering from age-related aches and pains, princesses who care for each other but can get into serious trouble, fairy queens concerned about their age, foxes that refuse to kill other animals, jealous bulls… Only some human beings are allowed into the magical realm, and I felt privileged to be one of them.

Another magical book from this author, suitable for anybody who is a child at heart and needs a little inspiration to recover the sense of wonder. Queen Filigree has a magical fountain, and we have Sally Cronin’s books to ensure our imagination keeps us forever young. Highly recommended to everybody.  

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text 2018-12-20 16:01
Iron Kissed / Patricia Briggs
Iron Kissed - Patricia Briggs

Mechanic Mercy Thompson can shift her shape - but not her loyalty. When her former boss and mentor is arrested for murder and left to rot behind bars by his own kind, it's up to Mercy to clear his name, whether he wants her to or not.

Mercy's loyalty is under pressure from other directions, too. Werewolves are not known for their patience, and if Mercy can't decide between the two she cares for, Sam and Adam may make the choice for her...

 

2018 Re-Read

 

Several things struck me as a re-read the third book of the Mercy Thompson series.  Number one, I’m still disappointed that there were no vampires anywhere in this one!  Number two, I’m somewhat disappointed that Briggs resorted to rape as a plot device—I think authors go there entirely too often.  But Briggs did it for a reason: it actually moved the plot along (i.e. brought Mercy & Adam together), and it gave Ben a chance to redeem himself. We learn why he’s such a jerk and we can forgive him to some extent.  Number three, the reader learns far more about Briggs’ version of the Fae, who are dark and tricksy just as I likes ‘em.

 

And I still wish that Mercy had some women friends to talk things over with.  All of us gals need our women friends!

 

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