Book Review: The Scarecrow King
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The Scarecrow King by Jill Myles

5 stars!
Category: Adult (though appropriate for children, like the famous fairytales)

Summary: In the country of Balinore where everyone can perform some sort of magic, Princess Rinda is the common brown-haired, minor magical daughter of the woman from the Rumplestiltskin story who could spin straw into gold. After the death of her mother during childbirth, her father snubs her at every chance he gets in favor of her beautiful blonde haired sister who can call water from the ground with her own magic. Princess Rinda has grown up stubborn, difficult, and determined to teach her father a lesson, regardless that it has cost his kingdom far too much money. Her father suddenly hits on the idea of marrying her off. He holds a lavish ball to introduce Rinda to all the available suitors, but she loudly points out the faults of each and every person introduced to her, including the king of neighboring Lioncourt who has shown up straight after traveling a week to get to Balinore, still dusty and grimy from their trip and without bothering to trim their beards in any way. Rinda’s father decrees that he will force her to marry the next person to arrive at the palace, no matter what their rank. Rinda is awoken in the dead of the night and presented to a newly arrived poor minstrel. And so Rinda is forced to cope with her new status without any money, and being banned from the castle, and the long trip to her new husband’s homeland in Lioncourt. She concocts the idea of throwing herself on the mercy of the king of Lioncourt, though the long trip turns into an adventure and she finds herself finding a friend in her new traveling companion.

Comments: The Scarecrow King is a beautiful, romantic, sweet fairytale. And in the spirit of the famous fairytales, it’s clean, which I do appreciate when everyone seems to be writing erotic spins on the fairytales lately. It reminded me of various other fairytales and stories, the spoiled princess that Rinda was in the beginning reminded me of the princess in The Frog Prince, even the trek through the cave reminded me of several scenes in The Lord of the Rings. I loved Rinda’s attitude, which did grow and change over the course of the story. And Alek, her new husband, was such a sunny, warm, good-natured trooper no matter how difficult and stubborn and scared Rinda was (though I did wish we could see things from his perspective from time to time, though I don’t know if that would have ruined all of his secrets even though the audience could guess who he was straight from the beginning). And the adventure was excessive fun! I loved their slowly building romance and truly felt for both Alek and Rinda during the course of the adventure. And I really did love the ending! This is definitely going to remain one of my favorites!

Book Review: Wild Wild Ghost
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Wild Wild Ghost by Margo Bond Collins

4 stars
Category: Adult
Note: Only $0.99 cents on Kindle. Novella-size

Summary: Tremayne Agent Trip is told to meet up with his new partner in a small town in Texas to take care of ghosts that threaten the town. He finds his new partner in the center of a small hurricane of glass animated by the ghosts. The two agents form an uneasy partnership with Ruby still recovering from the loss of her previous partner and lover. But the further the investigation delves, they suspect that it might be the very same demon that plagued her and her previous partner.

Comments: Wild Wild Ghost is a delightful short paranormal story with a Western setting, and a good opening to what feels like will be a fun series. There are further secrets to uncover in the series, as well as the budding relationship between Trip and Ruby. The town feels like it’s one of those prop towns straight out of the old-fashioned spaghetti westerns, while both Trip and Ruby are fun strong characters to follow. My main quibble I had with it (and mind you, I got an advanced reader copy, so this may have been changed with the purchase copy) was that the people in the German town all had Swedish accents. It also felt like it was paced a little too leisurely for a novella-size. I mean, we didn’t actually have any major spirit activity (outside of the one introductory moment) until the halfway mark. But in all, it is a fun read if you like paranormals, and even like a dash of different time period.

Book Review: Rest for the Wicked (The Claire Wiche Chronicles - Book 1)
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No Rest for the Wicked (The Claire Wiche Chronicles – Book 1) by Cate Dean

4 stars
Category: Adult
Note: Only $0.99 cents on Kindle. I obtained this as included in The Paranormal 13 collection.

Summary: A mysterious evil force has sent Eric to retrieve Claire Wiche, owner of a small Wiccan shop. He arrives at her shop with the intent of murder, but finds that Claire has friends willing to defend Claire, even when the evil force shows its face as her cousin Natasha.

Comments: I thought this was a fun read, though nothing spectacular that makes me need to continue the series. The most enjoyable character in this book had to be Marcus the Jinn, who seemed attached to Claire, though nothing actually happened between them in terms of romance. He was just totally fascinating with the exotic sand and mysterious abilities, though nothing about him seemed to be concretely talked about. I will say, I absolutely loved Annie and Marcus, during their short date and the fallout afterward. There were things about this story that didn’t seem to hold together. Like Natasha sending Eric to get Claire for her. I don’t know why she would think Eric would simply capture Claire for her when she had be-spelled him to think Claire had killed his sister, which made him want to kill her outright (which would have wrecked her plans from the start. Doesn’t make sense). All the characters were likeable people, especially warm, sunny Annie. Claire herself seemed very Mary-Sue without too much in the way of personality. But all in all, it was a nice, light, magical read.

Book Review: A Fairy King
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A Fairy King (Fairy King - Book #1) by C.J. Brightley

5 stars!
Category: New Adult
Note: Novella-length. $0.99 cents on Kindle.

Summary: Young Hannah finds a mysterious letter sitting on her desk from a young boy who claims to be a fairy prince. She writes a letter in answer to his, but there is no address written on any of his letters. But yet, they still continue to arrive to her, appearing mysteriously wherever she is, and they keep with her through the years, even after she has gone to college and after she has moved out and taken a job. And then on one particularly lonely Christmas, she wishes to see him, only to have a mysterious, now fairy king, suddenly appear on her doorstep with the wistful hopefulness of meeting his long time pen friend in person.

Comments: A very short, very sweet story. I loved every charming minute of it. The letters and moments while growing up are tender and innocent as Hannah wonders about her new friend, and tries to wrap her head around the imaginative things contained within the mysterious letters. I loved how they grew up together, each in their own way with the two lives comparing each other. And then the final meet in person reminded me of the romance of Labyrinth (yes, one of my very favorite movies!), complete with the goblins (though Caedryn in a whole lot more loveable in his tentativeness and wariness and nowhere near as forbidding as Jareth, but just as magical). Their tentative romance is a beautiful thing to read as they try to reconcile their long friendship on paper and their preconceived notions of each other, to actually meeting each other in the flesh and finding out who the real person is. I am definitely looking forward to reading the next book in the series and spending more time with Hannah and Caedryn (though $2.99 seems a bit high of a price for just 100 pages for the next book).

Book Review: The Witch's Hunger (The Fay Morgan Chronicles - Book 3)
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The Witch’s Hunger (The Fay Morgan Chronicles – Book 3) by Katherine Sparrow

5 stars
Category: Adult
Note: Novella-length

Summary: Morgan Le Fay has reunited with the Holy Grail and become obsessively addicted with it. Not a day goes by that she doesn’t pull out the Grail and drink the couple of drops that have accumulated in it. She even goes to the length of putting a sleeping spell on her beloved Merlin while they are on their romantic getaway just so she can sneak back to her shop for her daily sip from the Grail. Her old friend Cleopatra drops in on Morgan in search of her missing lover Ada Lovelace. The mystery thickens as Morgan and Merlin do some digging and find that there are other missing immortals with the only common thread between them that they were all made immortal in some way from water from the Holy Grail.

Comments: I do so enjoy these Morgan Le Fay stories. Morgan is such a fantastic, strong, powerful female heroine and Merlin does make for a wonderful romantic interest for her (though I really have a hard time imagining him as other than with a long white beard). This book was a hard read with the topic of addiction, though I thought it was wonderfully captured with Morgan really in complete denial of her addiction, even though it was making her irrationally hostile to everyone around her. And I did love the touches of Merlin referencing Tolkien (of course he’s a Gandalf fan!) and Duncan the Highlander (though I was itching for him to swing a sword around). One thing I thought was off was that Duncan was just dropped from story shortly after he came into it. No word on where he went, he just simply wasn’t in it any more. And this one ends on a to be continued note, but then since this is a series, I should be surprised more of the installments of this wonderful series don’t end on a cliffhanger.

Book Review: Doctor Who: The Crawling Terror
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(I've got so many unread Doctor Who books it's astonishing! So, I'm going to try to put a more concerted effort into getting them read this year).

Doctor Who: The Crawling Terror by Mike Tucker

5 stars
Category: Adult

Summary: The Doctor and Clara arrive at a small town in England which boasts it own small circle of ancient stones. But on this particular day, the village has been overrun by gigantic insects. A rather industrious giant spider has surrounded the entire town with a web, cutting it off from any incoming reinforcements as well as keeping the villagers from escaping. It’s up to the Doctor and Clara to save the village and put a stop to the gigantic insects determined to prey upon the people, and figure out exactly where the bugs came from and what forces are behind them.

Comments: I loved every moment of this book! I’ve read quite a few of the Doctor Who novels put out by the BBC and Virgin. Most of them have bored me or didn’t quite capture the Doctor or the companions, but yet I continue to pick them up since I’m such a fan of the show. But there are some, every so often that capture the spirit of the show perfectly (as well as the portrayal of the Doctor and companions) and this is definitely one of those special ones. It had the feel of a fun, campy monster flick, which I associate with the earlier Doctor Who series, as well as keeping it in step with the newer incarnation of the Doctor. The author did his research and the military felt authentic and I loved the brief mention of UNIT and why they couldn’t be part of this particular book. Yes, all the insects were so much fun to read, and though the villain felt a bit flat and typical for villains, he still fit the story well. And I did love the incorporation of the villagers as characters as well. The only thing that I have to complain on was that I did run across quite a few typos, which I was surprised to find in a professionally published, officially licensed book. In all though, a wonderful, fun adventure and caught the spirit of the old Doctor Who episodes.

Book Review: Skeleton Lake (The Hollows - Book 1)
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Skeleton Lake (The Hollows – Book 1) by Angela Kulig

4 stars
Category: Teen
Note: Only $0.99 cents on Kindle!

Summary: After a disastrous party when Marlow catches her boyfriend kissing another girl, she runs into the forest and jumps into a lake, intending to drown herself. When she wakes up, she is told that she actually has died, but the lake turned her into a Skeleton (though she still looks human on the outside). And with being a Skeleton, she automatically gets a soulmate, in the form of a cute boy who goes to her school who had recently lost his girlfriend. The Skeletons are also currently at war with a rival group of Skeletons known as Hollows (because they are missing something in their chests) who are determined to steal all of the female skeletons to mate with.

Comments: I adored the beginning of this book! I loved the early descriptions of Raiden, and the flashbacks of Marlow trying to remember him from school (and I love his name!) I loved the desolation of Marlow as she attempted to commit suicide and was rescued, only to have her world turned upside down as she was told that she was now a skeleton. And I loved that the author attempted to create an entirely new supernatural creature for once. Everything out there right now is vampires, and werewolves, and dragon shifters. But that in itself creates the problem of having to create new rules, which quite a few of them contradicted each other (like if only Lake water reveals the skeletons underneath, how were we able to see the Hollow’s skeletons without any Lake water? And honestly, I didn’t see just why the Hollows were so much different from the regular skeletons since they both appeared as skeletons (honestly, I wasn’t getting a good mental image of the Hollows and then when I realized they looked like regular humans, it didn’t seem right fighting them and even trying to kill them). After a while, I realized there actually wasn’t too much special about the skeletons themselves. I mean, they jump into the lake, get brought back from the dead and we can see their skeletons with the lake water, and they automatically have a soulmate (which here just seems like lazy way of giving Marlow a true boyfriend, rather than have her fall in love), and it’s hard to break their bones once they’re skeletons. But beyond that, they’re like normal teenagers and humans. They look human, they still age normally, they don’t have any super strength or abilities, they still have all the emotions and then some of normal humans, and they can still be killed by all of the usual methods. This piece isn’t absent of typos. I was finding them every couple of pages. And then there’s the larger problem of Marlow is a major waterworks. She cries at the drop of a hat and she is beyond over-emotional, even for a teenager. In fact, most of the kids seemed more like 13 year olds rather than late teens. I think I had the largest problem that the kids didn’t seem to have anything in their lives other than obsessing about their dramas with each other (and swimming in the Lake), they didn’t even seem all that worried about the Hollows in comparison to being with their partner. And I got all the parents confused. They didn’t really seem all that differentiated from each other, especially the women, other than their names. In all, though I do like Raiden, I probably won’t be continuing on with the series.

Book Review: Scales (A Falling in Deep Novella)
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Scales (A Falling in Deep Novella) by Pauline Creeden

5 stars
Category: YA
Note: Free on Kindle!

Summary: After suffering years of being labeled an idiot, dependent “bottom feeder”, Verona, one of the aquatic Mer-kind, is exiled for a year from her village at the bottom of the ocean in Bermuda. She has to learn to fend for herself in shark-infested waters without any contact with her own kind, or pull herself onto dry land and learn to walk among the humans and study them for a year. But her irrational fear of humans keeps her underwater. One young Mer-man takes pity on her and tries to help her, but Verona longs for love and knows that it might not exist among her own kind.

Comments: I honestly expected this to go the route of all the other Little Mermaid wannabes, since everyone loves a fish-out-of-water tale as the heroine tries to understand and find her way in a new unknown world. So, imagine my happy surprise that it went in a different direction and never actually took her on land. I loved that it tried to bring to life what the world underwater looks like (I’ve always pictured it as a lot more colorful looking, but then that might be because I’m out in the Pacific), but in this world it seemed rather monotone and even Verona commented that the world on television looked more colorful than her grey world underwater. I loved her experiences as she investigated the coastline of the small cluster of islands, and, yes, I loved the dash of possible romance. And, of course, Verona learning to stand up for herself, how to hunt and keep herself alive out in the world, and all the bits and pieces about her life as a Mer before the exile. I thought the entire story was well written, Verona was a strong heroine, even with her fears and innocence, and I easily sped through it. I should warn that it does end on a to-be-continued note, but I’ve searched through Pauline’s books and there doesn’t seem to be any continuation for it (Please, do continue this story! I’d like to see which of the three options Verona chooses and where her further adventures take her!)

Book Review: Surviving the Evacuation - Book 1: London
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Surviving the Evacuation – Book 1: London by Frank Tayell

4 stars
Category: Adult
Note: Free on Kindle!!!

Summary: In diary format, we follow Bill as he has to deal with being laid up in his London apartment with a broken leg with a zombie apocalypse going on outside. Before he runs out of water and food, he has to figure out how to get out of the house while still hobbling along, and evade the zombies and find somewhere safe with more food and water.

Comments: I loved this story! Everything I could want in a Zombie book. It had plenty of zombies that the hero had to dispatch, the hero having to make his way through zombie infested London (BTW, that was my favorite part of 28 Days Later where the hero sees the abandoned and zombie infested landmarks of London), plenty of adventure, and courage by the hero, as well as thinking on his feet of how to get around with his foot still in a cast, and the desperation of what to do when food and water run out and what to do to ensure future survival. Why didn’t I give it 5 stars then? Because as others have pointed out before me, it is very slow moving. The book is told in diary format, which while it makes it more personal, also runs into the problem of the diarist writing about every little thing that he does, and a lot of the time he’s just rambling philosophically about the inner workings of the zombies, why the zombies do what they do, or what happened to the government, or how much he wishes for warm water to make tea. Another problem is that the hero didn’t have any living relations or any real close friends, so all that he had to worry about were his tenants in the building he owned who he barely saw and they ditched him anyway, and Jen who he seemed to not be on very good terms with anyway, which made him seem rather disconnected to emotional connections and humanity in general. The book is told in two parts with the first half (100 or so pages) is him hobbling around and confined to his apartment because of a broken leg (think Hitchcock’s Rear Window, but where the people he’s watching out the windows are all zombies). The second half of the book does pick up as he finally ventures out into the zombie infested streets and manages to bring some down every so often. But he does often try to compare his situation to the other fictional zombie books and movies, and he’s right, they never seem to have too much problem acquiring food and water, and guns and weapons, and finding other survivors to partner up with. I really did like his ironic sense of humor.

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