Everyday Enchantments: Musings on Ordinary Magic & Daily Conjurings by Maria DeBlassie is a delightful little read, of short essays. Everyday Enchantments, isn’t exactly a self-help book, but more collection of personal essays from Maria DeBlassie, to demonstrate to readers the everyday experiences we have with magic, without noticing them. This book is very good for helping readers be more mindful, and more aware of the world around you, rather than stuck in your own head. I found it personally help me practice meditation and mindfulness, whilst being outdoors and active. It helped me gain a new appreciation for the smaller things in life and how truly beautiful this world can be, when we aren’t taking it for granted. Though this type of book isn’t something I usually reach for, it was definitely a refreshing and charming read. 4/5 stars.
A Wicked Earl’s Widow is the second book in Aubrey Wynne’s Once Upon a Widow series. A Wicked Earl’s Widow follows Eliza as she is plagued by abuse and loss; abused from her father and forced into a marriage she did not agree to. Accept her husband surprises her with his kindness and caring attitude. Together the two fall in love and prepare for the birth of their child, until his sudden death. Eliza is stuck with her terrible in-laws who do nothing but abuse her and plan to marry her off to the next available bachelor, so she is out of their hair. Then in walks Nathaniel, viscount of Pendleton, who is tall, dark, and charming. He’s smitten by Eliza and her head strong personality. I found both their characters to be very enjoyable and their relationship to be very wholesome, and cute. They blended very well together and made the story fly by, that I was almost sad to see it end. The story was not only engaging but also historically accurate to the time and the customs. I really enjoy Aubrey Wynne’s writing, and can’t wait to see what she produces next. 4/5 stars!
Devil’s Backbone is the most recent installment in T. Birmingham’s hot new paranormal romance series, the Wild Beasts series. Devil’s Backbone is the fifth book in the series, and the by far the best one, in my opinion. I absolutely adored this book and how each one just keeps getting better than the one before it. With higher stakes, bigger plots, more supernatural creatures than you can poke a stick at, and Benjamin Oliver to drool over. I really loved this wild ride of story and could really relate to Tess’s character and her super cool pet lizard, Todd. I really loved her journey and growth throughout the book, as well as Ben’s. Their characters are very well written and were a delight to read about. I highly recommend this fantastical series by T. Birmingham, each book can be read as a standalone, as each follows a different set of characters, but it’s better if you start at the beginning.
Overall I gave this book 4/5 stars.
Happily. Ever After?: An Italian Relationship is the sixth book in Gaia B. Amman’s Italian Saga, that is a wonderfully wholesome read. The series continues to follow Leda as she slowly grows up, with each book focusing on certain parts and aspects of Leda’s life; all set against the gorgeous back drop of Italy. Happily. Ever After?: An Italian Relationship is set in the scenic Milan, with Leda falling hopelessly in love with Sergio, a stoner that flits in and out of Leda’s life, without explanation. Leda and Sergio’s relationship is a heart-warming, realistic love story, that was incredibly relatable and genuine. Both characters are incredibly complex and life like, that will have you falling in love with them despite their flaws. I really enjoyed the sixth book in the series, and found it to be a wonderful edition to Leda’s life story. Gaia B. Amman’s writing gets better every book, and her characters get more and more complex.
I highly recommend the series, and gave this book 5/5 stars!
Reviewed by @erin-davidson
The Devil’s Shadow is the fourth book in T. Birmingham’s Wild Beasts paranormal romance series. Each book can be read as a standalone, as they follow two new main characters and their relationship and a new mystery to solve. The Devil’s Shadow follows Kieran Gimble and Ginny Zolanski and how they begin to slowly intertwine as fated mates. Their romance was very well written and mixed in nicely with all the paranormal elements of the story, that kept me on the edge of my seat. I loved the lore of the book, and the myths and monsters it has created, and Birmingham’s take on these creatures of the night. I loved her descriptions and writing throughout the book. I especially enjoyed her unique take on ‘light versus dark’ trope, and that complex characters aren’t one or the other; that humans always struggle with what is good and what is evil, and always sit in this gray area of morality.
I was a little skeptical when I first bought this book, but was quickly swept up in the magic of the story and the beauty of the writing. I highly recommend this series, and look forward to the next one by T. Birmingham
Reviewed by @erin-davidson
Black Bullet is the second installment in L.D. Rose’s Order of the Senary series. This book can be read as a standalone, as it follows different characters from the first book, but the world building isn’t as strong as the first one. I recommend reading the first one to get a better sense of the world, and how it all came to be with leeches ruling over New York City. This book definitely started with a loud bang, and did not slow down for a second. I found the second book to be better than the first, in terms of Rose’s writing style growing and getting better and better. I found Lawan and Jon to be very interesting and realistic characters, that were written better than Blaze and Valerie from the first book. It’s amazing to see how much Rose’s writing improved between the first and second book, and how complex her characters are now. I loved all the books gory details, that for once weren’t left to the imagination. Rose weaves such a masterful story, that you can practically taste the blood yourself. I really really enjoyed this as a second installment and look forward to seeing how the series grows and develops.
The Light at Dawn by K. L. Montgomery is an emotional, heart wrenching story, that follows two parents that have lost their children due to suicide. The book explores darker themes, discussing sensitive material that may be upsetting to certain readers. But the book does a beautiful job of handling such a sensitive issue with utmost care and support. Montgomery does a masterful job of weaving two stories into one, with evocative writing that will not only have you crying like a baby, but leave you permanently impacted. It is a beautiful tale of heartbreak and strength, and the effects of how deeply people impact your life. I really really enjoyed this book, despite how much I cried whilst reading it. But it is brutally honest and eye opening to see how these two characters handle their grief, and how they try to keep moving forward, when they’ve lost so much. I highly recommend this book to everyone, as well as encourage everyone dealing with mental health issues to seek help. It ain’t weak to speak.
Eight Steps to Alpha by Taylor Sullivan had all the promise of a cute little rom-com, but it fell flat as it relied on sexist themes. I really wanted to enjoy this book that is a slow born, friends to lovers. But the premise of making the nice guy into a misogynistic meany to get a girl, seemed rather backwards. I liked Elliot before the transformation and his relationship to Fe. I thought he was a great guy and don’t know why he had such a ‘woe is me’ mentality, because he couldn’t get one girl. A woman that was his superior at work, and wants to work professionally with her colleagues. I think Sullivan had the best intention when writing this novel, to put a spin on the classic Cinderella trope, and focus on changing a guy into the fantasy of women; but it missed the mark for me. An alpha male isn’t my fantasy. Elliot before the change being nerdy, athletic, kind, and squeaky clean is my kind of jam. Guys that are rude to women, get into fights for no reason, aren’t the type of men anyone needs in this day and age. Personally I would have preferred a more 10 things I hate about you approach, where Elliot was changed from an alpha, to a well-rounded gentleman that makes grand gestures of love whilst singing ‘I love you baby’ by Frankie Valli. Granted in saying all this, I still enjoyed the simple cute moments between Elliot and Fe. Just watching their friendship grow was adorable to read, and really had me savoring those moments, before they were swept away. I gave Eight Steps to Alpha 3/5 stars.
Reviewed by @erin-davidson
An Italian Adventure is the first book in Gaia B. Amman Italian Saga. The story is a beautiful coming of age tale, that deals with all the troubles of leaving childhood behind, and entering adolescents. Set in Italy in the 1980’s it follows tomboy Leda, who wants nothing more than to hang with two friends Peo and Flavio, climb trees and ride their bikes through the fields. Until the newest kid in town, and school bully Nico shows them a porno mag, right before their first communion. Thus starts the biggest change in Lee’s life and friendship, as she makes it through the good times and the bad.
I thought An Italian Adventure was incredibly well written, with magnificent characters that came to life on every page. It was nostalgic to read about the troubles of teen years, and to remember when times were much simpler. When my biggest troubles were eating my vegetables and dealing with a bedtime. This story made me nostalgic for my childhood, and all the days spent playing on a playground, or swimming in a pool till I was blue. I adored this memoir of sorts, and look forward to seeing where the story goes in the future. I gave An Italian Adventure 4/5 stars!
Reviewed by @erin-davidson
Less You Know is the second book in Rowena Holloway’s Ashes to Ashes series. Charlotte is still hell bent on taking down corrupted tycoon Tyrone Garner, and airing out all his dirty laundry. But as Charlotte uncovers more about Tyrone, she digs her grave deeper and deeper. Before she buries herself she asks for help from her best friend Allie. But as things start to unfold and the secrets unravel, Allie vanishes; and Charlotte doesn’t know what to do.
I really enjoyed this second installment of Holloway’s Ashes to Ashes series. It was just as suspenseful as the first book. Equally as engaging and filled with more twists and turns. I could not put the book down, and was sitting on the edge of my seat the whole time. The writing was very captivating and well thought out. Everything was planned to the finest detail and executed perfectly. Highly recommend the series to anyone looking for a gripping suspense series.
Reviewed by @erin-davidson