The Beast of Talesend

The Beast of Talesend  by  Kyle Robert Shultz  description:

Private eye Nick Beasley lives in a world where fairy tales ended a long time ago – where zeppelins now soar the skies instead of dragons, and where the first automobiles have taken the place of flying carpets. He’s made a name for himself across the Afterlands by debunking fake magicians and exposing fraudulent monsters. This is the modern age, after all. Magic and monsters are long gone.

At least, that’s what Nick believes. Until he gets magically transformed into a monster, that is.

The only person who may be able to help Nick is Lady Cordelia Beaumont, one of the last enchantresses in the Afterlands. But in order for her to cure him, they’ll have to retrieve a powerful artifact from a ruthless crime lord – who is also Cordelia’s father.

The fate of the Afterlands lies in the hands of a runaway enchantress and a monstrous ex-detective. What could possibly go wrong?

BOOK 1: The Beast of Talesend  4 STARS

This is like a hard boiled detective got tossed into the darkest and bloodest of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales, then made it darker and more horrifying, and then someone decided it should be a comedy. Surprisingly it works. Honestly the twists Shultz has taken on the fairy tales was rather surprising and far different than anything I’ve read before, and I’ve read my fair share of retellings. I would love it if he would go back and write books on the stories they talk about in here as their history. Because while this is obviously a Beauty and the Beast retelling, since it’s a land of fairy tales, they’re all mixed in in varying ways, and the truth about Snow White honestly made a lot more sense than a lot of the other reasons for why the step mom would want her heart. Like I said, it’s dark, but the humor brought to it by the characters going through this, and Nick and Cordelia’s banter help really lighten it over all, even while they’re fighting evil and saving the world from darkness and destruction. Though it did start out a bit overly goofy in the beginning, once you really get into it, the tale does find a good balance and you get taken on quite an adventure. I even rather enjoyed Crispin’s involvement, as Nick’s little brother, there’s a lot going on there that I’d love to see developed and to find out more about their past. But it was the last line of this book that sealed the deal on me snatching up the next as soon as I can. I don’t want to spoil it, but I liked how Shultz got there and then left you hanging with that OMG moment. There’s just so many ways this series can go from here, and I look forward to the journey ahead.

Bride of the Dragons

Bride of the Dragons  by  Selina Coffey  description:

Elokon and Siron have yet to find a mate.
Elokon became the alpha of his tribe three months ago, and since then, the human towns nearby have sent a dozen women in tribute, and even the women of nearby dragon tribes have sought them out. Elokon’s tribe is powerful and any dragon would be pleased to bear a child of his bloodline.

But neither he nor Siron has seen a single woman that awakens the mating instinct. At long last, the High Dragon has passed down an edict: find a mate, or Elokon will be stripped of his power and banished. There is no place in the Dragonlands for an alpha who will not carry on the old bloodlines.

As the third daughter of an impoverished Earl, Adelina has no dowry and no prospects.
Desperate not to become a priestess, she makes a plan: when the High Dragon’s court comes for their historic meeting with the human king, she will be so alluring that she can steal the heart of one of the richest noblemen at court. She has worked late into the night, sewing herself a dress that will catch anyone’s eye.

During the festivities, she knows she can tempt someone into an indiscretion…
But much to her shock, that someone isn’t human. Furthermore, it’s not one someone, but two. And now that they’ve found their mate, Elokon and Siron aren’t planning to let her go.

Bride of the Dragons   3 STARS

It was like Coffey wasn’t sure if she was writing a novel or a short story. This is more than just a fluff story about Elokon, Siron, and Adelina, but even with a whole world of dragons, Naga, and a war brewing between the 2, this story was very underdeveloped. Everything was rushed and just happened in the style that short stories like these do, but for how much you invest into the story and all that’s going on it just ends up leaving you wanting more, and not in a good way. With the 3 you get them meeting, marrying, and Adelina having a baby before you’re more than a few chapters in. While I get the rush of the marriage due to Adelina’s situation and the dragons traditions, but afterwards it would’ve been nice to see how they got to actually know each other, and Adelina learning how to fit in with the dragons once she’s in their kingdom. Even the war was rushed, regardless of what a formidable foe the Naga were built up as. She had this whole world that we’re introduced too, but we never really see the full breadth of it. Honestly this is the sort of story that could go on into a series, which would be helpful to then see where this all leads too, not just with these characters, but other dragons and dragonflights. If so I’d definitely be willing to check it out.

Also I hate it when the covers don’t even try to represent the characters. Not that that affected this review, it’s just a side note.

The Peach Keeper

The Peach Keeper  by  Sarah Addison Allen  description:

It’s the dubious distinction of thirty-year-old Willa Jackson to hail from a fine old Southern family of means that met with financial ruin generations ago. The Blue Ridge Madam—built by Willa’s great-great-grandfather during Walls of Water’s heyday, and once the town’s grandest home—has stood for years as a lonely monument to misfortune and scandal. And Willa herself has long strived to build a life beyond the brooding Jackson family shadow. No easy task in a town shaped by years of tradition and the well-marked boundaries of the haves and have-nots.

But Willa has lately learned that an old classmate—socialite do-gooder Paxton Osgood—of the very prominent Osgood family, has restored the Blue Ridge Madam to her former glory, with plans to open a top-flight inn. Maybe, at last, the troubled past can be laid to rest while something new and wonderful rises from its ashes. But what rises instead is a skeleton, found buried beneath the property’s lone peach tree, and certain to drag up dire consequences along with it.

For the bones—those of charismatic traveling salesman Tucker Devlin, who worked his dark charms on Walls of Water seventy-five years ago—are not all that lay hidden out of sight and mind. Long-kept secrets surrounding the troubling remains have also come to light, seemingly heralded by a spate of sudden strange occurrences throughout the town.

Now, thrust together in an unlikely friendship, united by a full-blooded mystery, Willa and Paxton must confront the dangerous passions and tragic betrayals that once bound their families—and uncover truths of the long-dead that have transcended time and defied the grave to touch the hearts and souls of the living.

The Peach Keeper  5 STARS

This is a wonderfully whimsical story, with a hint of magic that makes anything possible, and a mystery to keep you turning pages late into the night. I loved the balance between Willa and Paxton. Willa is haunted by all the things she’s done in the past, while Paxton lives with the regrets of all the things she hasn’t done. And while this does deal with the two falling in love, this book is more about the power of friendship, about why it’s so important to be their for your friends, and how that relationship never has to fade away. It’s definitely not your average sort of novel. The thing I love most about Allen’s writing is that she doesn’t just give you this one story, she gives you a whole world in this town, but it never gets bogged down. She lets you see all these people and all the things that have led them here, and created them, and it really gets you involved in all of their lives. They become people you feel like you knew, and being from a small town I can definitely relate to this sort of world, though I wish we had the strange occurrences that happen there, would’ve been interesting. And while you don’t need to read Garden Spells before this, because it’s not tied into that series, some of the characters do show up. Which is another thing I love authors to do, to have their books all within this same world, which makes each story you read by them just suck you in even further.

Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book

Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book   by  Jennifer Donnelly  description:

An original addition to the beloved Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, Lost in a Book follows the lonely, bookish Belle as she finds an enchanted book in the Beast’s library called Nevermore that carries her into a glittering new world. There, Belle is befriended by a mysterious countess who offers her the life she’s always dreamed of.

But Nevermore is not what it seems, and the more time Belle spends there, the harder it is to leave. Good stories take hold of us and never let us go, and once Belle becomes lost in this book, she may never find her way out again.

This deluxe hardcover novel expands upon the beautiful story and world seen in the new Walt Disney Studios’ film, Beauty and the Beast.

Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book  4 STARS

This was a fun sweet young readers book. While you don’t have to see the new movie to enjoy this book, there were references and things brought up that do come from the movie, so I would recommend doing such. If you have seen the movie, the book mentioned has nothing to do with the book used in the movie, rather this is an adventure that’s right in the middle of the story. You don’t get the story of how Belle ended up there, although it’s brought up, nor do you see how the story ends for Belle and the Beast. This does help you get to know the characters a bit more, but because so much of this story takes place in Nevermore we’re really seeing more of what’s going on with Belle and what’s really keeping her in the castle, and how she feels being pretty much trapped there. However, even as simplistic as this tale is at times, it really does a good job of looking at what real relationships, both romantic and friendly, and how they aren’t always perfect and sparkly, that they have their ups and downs. That’s life and that being there for someone when they’re down is when they tend to need that connection the most, and that’s a pretty good moral for a fairy tale, and definitely makes this worth the read. My one complaint was the number of typos in the book. You’d think a book like this would’ve been edited a bit better.

Beauty and the Beast

No surprise if you’ve read anybody’s review, but this movie is amazing. As pointed out by this youtube video, a lot of the silly mistakes made in the cartoon version were fixed or clarified. And yet they still managed to pay homage to them as they kept everything that was so wonderful about the original alive. They didn’t go trying to rewrite it, but instead magnified the magic. If you’ve seen the cartoon then there won’t be any surprises, instead you’ll enjoy getting to fully know the characters. They gave them background stories and fuller lives to help you better understand them. Like why the Beast was so cruel and yet had servants who truly wanted him to be happy, not just to break their curse but because they cared for him. We get to know about Belle’s family more and how they came to be in a town that never really accepted them. The acting was on point with Watson perfectly playing a loving and bookwormish Belle, who also shows plenty of backbone, and Dan Stevens is a gruff and grumpy yet with a dry sense of humor Beast that you can’t help but fall in love with. Not to mention the songs will have you wanting to sing and dance along to them. Altogether, it was a well done movie that I can’t wait to see again.

Spy Glass

BOOK 1: Storm Glass  by  Maria V. Snyder

BOOK 2: Sea Glass

Spy Glass  description:

Opal Cowan had been willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to save her friends and rid the world of blood magic. Though she survives, she is forever changed…

Opal Cowan has lost her powers. More than that, she is now immune to magic. Opal is an outsider looking in, spying through the glass on those with the powers she once had, powers that make a difference to the world and were her whole world…

Until spying through the glass becomes her new power. Suddenly, the beautiful pieces she makes fl ash in the presence of magic. And then she discovers that someone has stolen some of her blood and that finding it might let her regain her powers. Or learn if she’s lost them forever…

spy-glassBOOK 3: Spy Glass   5 STARS

There are two things I love about Snyder’s books. How it shows characters overcoming the most horrible of abuses, and coming out of it stronger than ever. First Yelena, and now Opal, show that if you keep fighting, and find those people you can trust in and holding onto them, you can survive whatever the world throws at you. More so, I like that she shows that any who truly seek redemption can find it, one way or another, which is shown in Devlen. I’ve read several reviews that don’t like the relationship that forms between Opal and Devlen, but I understand it. I see it as someone finally getting sober after having done things while in the midst of addiction that no sane person would do, but once sobering up are ashamed of their actions. It was more than just being free of his magic,  because Ulrick who went through similar circumstances shows no ability to take responsibility for his own actions. But you can see how Devlen is one of the few who can understand what Opal is going through, and he tries to help her in the way he was trained to be a Story Weaver. While I’m glad that the characters from the Study series continue to be a big part, I also love how Snyder does mainly focus on the new friends and enemies Opal has gained in her own journeys, and ties up the full arc of the story that we’ve been following through this trilogy. I’m just so happy that she continued to write more in this world with the continuance of the Study series, can’t wait to see what happens next.

Alien Former

Alien Former  by  Ashley L. Hunt   description:

Joanna Angeles is ready for anything. Sent to Chalice, an alien world, with state-of-the-art equipment and a ten-year time limit, she is determined to change the harsh environment of her new world into a welcoming home for the hundred-thousand colonists that are depending on her. How will she survive the most brutal environment she has ever faced? Can her Artificial Intelligence companion, Barbas, truly be the perfect lover? Can she succeed in her mission when her new home seems to be determined to kill her?
Join Joanna & Barbas in their mission to survive to this exotic and new harsh planet…
Readers should be 18 and over due to mature situations and language.

alien-formerBOOK 1: Alien Former   4 STARS

This book was like an futuristic astronaut got dropped into a Beowulf epic. Joanna is being sent by the Pan-American government to get a new planet ready for more people to come live on. She’s got all this advanced technology, the best of which is Barbas, an AI who’ll have you questioning what it means to exist. Plus the relationship between Joanna and Barbas is kind of wonderful in how they become best friends and are struggling together to survive on this harsh world. Yet, instead of her landing amongst a super advanced alien race or barbarians, they land in a world where the aliens are basically at the stage of vikings, and hold that warrior ideology, which is enhanced by their own magic and mythos. And magic is the best way you can explain it when you have groups of people who can create storms or bring a person back from the dead with shaman talismans. Instead of the sci-fi and fantasy worlds clashing, they’re just woven wonderfully together. In an infinite universe with worlds evolving in different ways, magic should be a possibility. My main complaint is that while I love Joanna, and you do feel for her, it feels like there’s not enough explanation about the Earth she is leaving behind, and even when it comes to describing her, you only get the barest image. Which is strange considering Hunt does a great job of building Chalice/Ravanur, letting you know exactly what the people look like. Which is nothing like the cover, cause they’re all white and wear leathers from what they’ve killed and armor, so really don’t get the cover. Also they’re stories of how life came to be on their world, their beliefs of why it’s frozen there, and the scary hints that it may not all be stories, was all very in depth. In the end it had me snatching up the next book as quick as I could.

Skipping Midnight

BOOK 1: Desperately Ever After  by  Laura Kenyon

BOOK 2: Damsels in Distress

Skipping Midnight  description:

One part Sex and the City. Two parts Desperate Housewives. Three parts Brothers Grimm.

For the women of Marestam, “happily ever after” has always come with a grain of salt. Be it infidelity or aging, deferred dreams or lost love, or even the pressures of raising a family, they have always seen each other through life’s trials with laughter, wine, and a brand new take on old-fashioned chivalry. But when rage and treachery take over, everything they hold dear comes under attack.

Suddenly, the monarchies are crumbling, Cinderella is missing, Belle is harboring the secret of all secrets, Rapunzel is facing the one dilemma she spent her whole life trying to avoid, and Dawn could lose everything she’s finally learned to love. In order to save everyone and unmask the wolf in their midst, this iconic group of friends must follow a dogmatic fairy no one trusts, invoke a magic no one understands, and face a past they thought they had buried long ago.

Rapunzel, Belle, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and the rest of Marestam’s favorite females return in this third and final novel in Laura Kenyon’s Desperately Ever After series, which takes a whimsical look at our most beloved fairy tale princesses several years after true love’s kiss.

At heart, it’s a tale of ordinary women coming to terms with how their lives have turned out. They just happen to live in castles.

skipping-midnightBOOK 3: Skipping Midnight   5 STARS

This is one of my favorite series, and one of the best twists on fairy tales that I’ve read. How she has weaved this story in a modern sort of setting, and yet so enriched with the kingdoms and magic, has been so much fun to read. This book does a great job of tying up all the loose ends. Kenyon rotates through all the characters with such ease that it keeps the story moving along and engages each one of them in this search for the truth. I love how she keeps you guessing until the end, as they gather bits and pieces of the full story, and how they begin to try and understand what’s really happening to all of them, and what the ultimate end game is. But what I think helps set this series apart from so many others is how Kenyon is able to take these old fairy tale princesses and make them so relevant for today, and for anyone searching for their own happily ever after. Not every relationship is the same, not everybody needs the same things, and not every happy ending is wrapped up in a tidy bow. Each of these princesses are dealing with problems in their life, whether it’s the struggle of having a child or trying to decide if the one they married is the one they’re supposed to be with. These aren’t stereotypes, it’s not some glossed over love story, it’s a look at what so many of us have to face on our path to true love and so much more. Can’t wait to see what Kenyon does next.

Garden Spells

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen     description:

The women of the Waverley family — whether they like it or not — are heirs to an unusual legacy, one that grows in a fenced plot behind their Queen Anne home on Pendland Street in Bascom, North Carolina. There, an apple tree bearing fruit of magical properties looms over a garden filled with herbs and edible flowers that possess the power to affect in curious ways anyone who eats them.

For nearly a decade, 34-year-old Claire Waverley, at peace with her family inheritance, has lived in the house alone, embracing the spirit of the grandmother who raised her, ruing her mother’s unfortunate destiny and seemingly unconcerned about the fate of her rebellious sister, Sydney, who freed herself long ago from their small town’s constraints. Using her grandmother’s mystical culinary traditions, Claire has built a successful catering business — and a carefully controlled, utterly predictable life — upon the family’s peculiar gift for making life-altering delicacies: lilac jelly to engender humility, for instance, or rose geranium wine to call up fond memories. Garden Spells reveals what happens when Sydney returns to Bascom with her young daughter, turning Claire’s routine existence upside down. With Sydney’s homecoming, the magic that the quiet caterer has measured into recipes to shape the thoughts and moods of others begins to influence Claire’s own emotions in terrifying and delightful ways.

As the sisters reconnect and learn to support one another, each finds romance where she least expects it, while Sydney’s child, Bay, discovers both the safe home she has longed for and her own surprising gifts. With the help of their elderly cousin Evanelle, endowed with her own uncanny skills, the Waverley women redeem the past, embrace the present, and take a joyful leap into the future.

gardenBook 1: Garden Spells        4 STARS

For a book filled with so much magic, a cast of great characters, and a really fulfilling plot line, the apple tree is still my favorite part. I mean I think that says plenty about the author, to take something like an apple tree (even a magical one) and give it a real personality, and such a vital part of the story in ways that you slowly discover. But that is just still one small part of the story. This book does deal with magic, but it isn’t a generic story of witches. It’s more like a family filled with unique talents that are inherent to each person. Though, how they do affect the world around them, especially within the Waverly’s property, is definitely a bit witchy. Yet, the story is really that of normal people trying to find their place in the world. Two women who have lived through difficult lives and trying to get to know each other again as real sisters. And the little girl, Bay, was so sweet and adorable with how she knows where everything is meant to be, even people, and the fact that she ultimately has the most insight in the end into people was a really moving part of the story. Beyond the Waverly family you also get to discover a bit about small town living, the good, the bad, and the intriguing family legacies. There was just so much to love about this book, it’s really hard to put it all into one review without ruining the story, so I just say go and pick it up as quick as you can.

In Harm’s Way

In Harm’s Way  by  M.H. Snowy   description:

Nightmares or waking dreams? Only the keeper of the Legend knows…and it’s up to him to keep them from Harm!

By day, Jeffery is the best friend of Montague the magician. By night, he’s the powerful warrior, Harm, The Legend, who leads a band of Berserkers—ridding the land of evil while saving villages by the score. Only Montague knows the villagers also have to cough up a hefty pouch of coin for the privilege of being rescued!

All Jeffery knows is he has no memory of any battle he fights. Under the Spirit of Lohocla, he awakens the morning after the battle barely able to think for the pain in his skull and the lethargy in his body. The more Jeffery tries to discover his lost memories, the vaguer Montague becomes until it’s too late not to tell the truth—at least part of it. But how could Jeffery ever imagine his entire life may be smoke and mirrors…just ephemeral fragments of dreams?

IN HARM’S WAY– enter a world of magic, mayhem, and mystery you may never be able to leave…if the Spirit of Lohocla captures you in its embrace!

harms wayBOOK 1: In Harm’s Way   3 STARS

I quite enjoyed this book. The premise was interesting, Montague thinks the world isn’t quite right and is trying to figure out why. And the characters were an eclectic bunch. From the grouchy but caring lead figure, Montague, to Nolsun, who’s just so happy to be apart of a quest he doesn’t even mind that he doesn’t seem to recall wanting to join the group. It builds to an interesting ending, that does leave you wanting more. My issues with this book though are some inconsistencies, and even the few answers you get come a bit late from when you really needed to understand what was happening. But more so you don’t get much depth to the world. For the first book of the series, I feel Snowy rushed it a bit, and there wasn’t enough world building to fully understand what’s going on. While answers may come later on, it was kind of like being dropped in the middle of a story and just trying to piece it together as you go, and that’s frustrating.