Reading Fanatic Reviews

All Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Paranormal Reviews



Rapunzel Untamed by Erin Bedford

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Rapunzel Untamed*

Dystopian Fairy-Tale-Inspired Urban Fantasy

I absolutely love reworkings of the classic fairy tales. I’ve read several different ones by various authors in the last couple of years. But I haven’t read any revamps of Rapunzel or any other books by this author. So I was looking forward to a new fairy tale twist and a new-to-me author. Neither disappointed I am happy to say. This version of Rapunzel is a dark dystopian urban fantasy. Now, don’t let all that heaviness make you think that it is all dark; I have read some retellings that I like that. This one had a surprising amount of humor, especially when Rapunzel/Eva is rescued. There are other parts that are quite funny as well, like the discussion about Eva wearing a bra.

The author did a very good job describing the world from Eva’s perspective, even though Eva is confused about her circumstances. This isn’t easy to do, to get information across while the perspective character is in a confused state. But the author seems to do so with absolute ease. I found Eva’s head an interesting one to be in, and I really enjoyed the various personalities of her rescuing mages. The descriptions throughout the book are well done, not too much yet just enough to get across the character’s state of mind as well as what is happening. The writing at times feels immersive. The end has a surprising twist; the book ends on a cliffhanger. So if you aren’t a fan of books that end on cliffhangers, you might want to skip this one. But it is a very well done inspired-by-fairy-tale story, so you might want to consider it anyway.

Movies, Moonlight, and Magic by January Bain

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Movies, Moonlight, and Magic*

Heavy on the Cozy, Light on the Mystery

This is the second book in the Manitoba Tea and Tarot series, and the second book that I have read in it. I will admit that I love the concept of this series because tea and tarot are two of my favorite things! I would love to frequent that little shop. I thoroughly enjoyed the first book, so I was looking forward to the next. The series revolves around three sisters who have magical powers, each different. Charm, the heroine in this book, is only just coming to understand and work with what she can do. She has an interest in the new Mountie, but a gorgeous friend of his family has shown up, making Charm a little jealous. A film crew comes to town, and their accountant turns up dead. Other issues come up as well, and someone close to Charm is one of the suspects, leading her to want to investigate to clear their name.

As in the first book, the characters and the relationships between them are a delight. The paranormal aspect is fun. Unfortunately, as can happen in cozy mysteries, the mysteries themselves seemed to take a back seat to the quirky characterization and magical worldbuilding. For instance, the dead body wasn’t found until about the 21% mark. As that is the inciting incident for a murder mystery, not a lot of room was left for the mystery to be fully explored. This is already a short book, so not much space is given to the mystery. The other “mystery” shows up quite a bit later. All in all, I like the world and the characters that the author has created; I just wish that the mystery itself was more emphasized.

The Blood King by Amber K. Bryant

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The Blood King*

Not Quite What I Thought But Still Good

I’m not quite sure what I was expecting after reading the book description, but what I got wasn’t quite it. I don’t think the author was wholly honest in the blurb about the actual nature of some of the characters in this book. Rather, she danced around what they were, perhaps hoping that the reader would draw their own conclusion or might not connect the dots. Despite feeling like I was somewhat tricked into choosing a book that I would not normally have chosen, the authors’ writing style is actually quite good. She has a command of the use of descriptive words; they truly do create a word picture without feeling as if they are overly descriptive, making the writing feel ponderous. She has crafted a complex paranormal world here. The heroine is strong in a take-no-prisoners way. She is definitely is the boss and in control. There were several scenes in this book that were really evocative, allowing you to feel as if you were actually immersed in the world and experiencing it. It is rare when authors can do this, so I quite enjoyed that aspect.

Princess Avenger by Bernadette Rowley

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Princess Avenger*

Fantasy Romance Fun

This story pulls you in right away, beginning with a scene where the princess is fleeing in a poor disguise after she has been injured. We soon learn more about her and her circumstances. I thought the author described things well, allowing you to feel you could see the scenes without it being overly descriptive. I thought, though, that some of her word choices weren’t appropriate, so it pulled me a little from the narrative flow as I was trying to determine why a particular word was being used and what the author was actually going for with it. The couple at the core of the story was fascinating to watch as their relationship grew and shifted and as they went up against those opposed to them. The book had some issues with grammar, punctuation, and usage, but I didn’t feel overly distracted by them. All in all, this is an enjoyable fantasy romance that will keep you turning the pages, especially the closer you get to the end.

Wings of Prey by J. P. McLean

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Wings of Prey*

And So It Ends

Over the past couple of months, I have read every book in this series, including the alternate version of book one. I wasn’t sure what I thought about the series at the beginning, but I’ve stuck with it. I am glad that I did. It is unusual in a most delightful way. The author does have a way of storytelling that is compelling; how she comes up with such a world is beyond me. Over the course of these seven books, she has created a very complex overarching plotline that was reflected well in each individual book of the series. She has managed to create characters who feel realistic even though they live in a fantastical world that is parallel to our own. In this particular book, there’s more emphasis on the paranormal/fantasy aspects of the story. If you are looking for another series to sink your teeth into and enjoy steamy thrillers with a touch of fantasy, this series could be right up your alley.

Magic and Mystery Box Set by Lily Webb

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Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, Mondadori, and Angus & Robertson

Magic and Mystery Box Set*

The First Books of the Series

I was a latecomer to the Magic and Mystery series, so I was delighted to be able to pick up the first three books in the series as a single box set. Zoe is a witch who has only just coming to realize the extent of her powers, and I liked watching her evolution. It is sure a bumpy ride for her. I enjoyed seeing, too, more of the backstory and interactions between her and the other characters. These books are relatively light and are easy reads. The author does a good job setting up a paranormal world, make it seem completely logical that magic is an everyday happenstance because, in the world of the books, it is. So the author has managed to make the paranormal aspect seem integral and not fantastical, which I don’t think is always an easy thing to do. Well balanced, nice set of books.

The Dragon’s Witch by Lola Gabriel

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The Dragon's Witch*

Intense Shifter Romance

What an intriguing plot and a sexy yet sometimes sad read! Unusual, but in a good way. The hero and heroine seem to be at cross purposes in their ultimate goals in life. He is an immortal dragon shifter who wants to die because he feels burdened by immortality. She, on the other hand, is actually dying unless she finds an ancient artifact. She’s a particular kind of witch that has historically had issues with the type of dragon shifter he is. They have the ability to kill each other; yes, the “immortal” dragon can be killed by a Gaia witch. But they meet as humans, not knowing of the other’s background, and the sparks really do fly. They do have a palpable chemistry. They’re actually a great couple together. But there are lies and secrets, most often coming from a good place of wanting to protect the other. It is a surprisingly intense love story for a shifter paranormal romance, and as you are reading along, you really do wonder how they will get to their HEA.

The Immortality Trials: Skies of Olympus by Eliza Raine

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The Immortality Trials: Skies of Olympus (trials 1-6)*

Twelve Trials to Amuse Bored Gods

What a very fascinating read! I enjoy tales that are spin-offs of Greek or Roman mythology, and this a particularly enjoyable one. The author has set up a good premise that will see this series through twelve novellas: The Greek gods are bored and decide to choose heroes to face twelve trials, and the victor’s team will win immortality. Each of the twelve gods will choose a champion, but only four will be chosen to compete in the trials. One of these is Lyssa, daughter of Hercules, and she very much wants to win against her father, whom she sees as a brute who murdered her mother and brother. She certainly does not want him to be immortal.

I thought the author set the scene very well, showing Lyssa’s life as a smuggler before Athena comes to her ship to choose her as her hero to put forth for the trials. The goddess believes that Lyssa is the only one who could beat Hercules. Lyssa has made quite a life for herself, skirting the edges of the law as a captain of a smuggler ship. The author also did a good job showing how Lyssa is physically strong with her quarter-god ability to feel rage and channel it. She is a strong and believable heroine who is uncomfortable being thrust into the limelight after so many years in the shadows after she chose to flee from her father. The author also wrote good descriptions of the above-Olympus world; I could imagine it quite easily. I look forward to reading more about these trials.

Fate of the Goddess by K. N. Lee

Fate of the Goddess*

Violent Start but Okay Story

I have quite enjoyed some of this author’s books in the past. This one, I had a hard time getting into because it just felt so needlessly violent at the beginning. Once the twins got to the human realm, I found it more accessible. A lot is going on in this story, and it is quite a fascinating world that the author has created here. I was surprised at the number of grammar and consistency issues in this book. It wasn’t just the normal ones with punctuation and grammar, but sometimes the characters were called the wrong names. In at least one place a near word was used instead of the right word, shall instead of shawl to describe a garment. Since I didn’t know the characters’ world, I did find the issues with character names to be confusing. That said, after the initial violence, the story of the young, future ruling gods as they await their time to be a fascinating one.

Lethal Waters by J. P. McLean

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Lethal Waters*

More Danger for Em

When you review a book that is a part have a long series, there’s always the danger, it feels like, of telling too much. So, I’m going to try to avoid that. Em’s adventure continues. One thing I can definitely say is that the author does create a very different plot for each book of this series. In this one, Em has to make a hard choice that definitely puts her in danger. She interacts with some new people as well as some old ones. The author does do a good job showing this parallel paranormal world that exists within the greater nonparanormal society.


The asterisks (*) by the book title denote the source of the book copy.

One star = I received it as a free advance/review copy or directly from the author.

Two stars = I borrowed it through my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Three stars = I purchased the book outright (sometimes for free).

The Amazon book links on this site are affiliate links, which means I make a tiny percentage if you choose to buy a book linked from this site.

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