Tag: magic

Book Review: The Goblins of Bellwater, by Molly Ringle

goblins
Image belongs to Central Avenue Publishing.

Kit is the local mechanic in tiny Bellwater, Washington and an artist. He’s also the liaison to the goblins who live in the woods. But Kit doesn’t talk about that. Most people have no idea the goblins even exist, much less that Kit does his best to keep them protected from the goblins and their twisted temptations.

When Sky, a barista and an artist, falls victim to a goblin curse one winter’s night, she is rendered almost mute and in danger of drifting away. Her sister Livy is desperate to find out what’s wrong with her sister, but has no idea where to turn. When she starts dating Kit, the two of them are soon drawn into a web of magic that has ensnared everyone they love. Livy is the only one with a prayer of freeing them, but she’ll have to travel a magical path of her own to do so.

Ms. Ringle wrote The Goblins of Bellwater inspired by Christina Rossetti’s poem, Goblin Market. The novel has the same spooky, sensual feel as the poem does. The setting is magical and almost dreamy, but brimming with life. Readers who ever imagined that there was something else out there—like Sky and Livy’s “Teeny-tinies”—will understand the lure of magic in the woods. This story is full of magic and mystery, wonder and love, and tinged with darkness. A must-read for anyone looking for a story about the unseen things hovering at the edge of your vision.

Molly Ringle writes novels that mix half-familiar stories from legend and fairy tales with the real word. The Goblins of Bellwater is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Central Avenue Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

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The Bone Witch, by Rin Chupeco

the bone witch
Image belongs to Sourcebooks.

Rin Chupeco writes books that mix fantasy with dark thrillers. The Bone Witch is her newest novel.

The women in Tea’s family are witches, but when teenage Tea raises her brother Fox from the dead—unintentionally—she learns she’s far different from the others. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, both feared and shunned by everyone she knows. Then an older bone witch arrives to take Tea and her brother far away for training.

Becoming an asha—one who wields magic—is the hardest thing she’s ever done, but Tea wants it more than anything. The intricate rituals, the esoteric knowledge, the combat training all prepare Tea for her new role. But training isn’t all that waits for Tea, and dark forces are rising in secret, set to destroy everything she holds dear.

From the book’s website: Memoirs of a Geisha meets The Name of the Wind…” This is exactly what this book is! And since I loved both of these books, it stands to reason that I’d love this one. Which I did. I started off a bit confused, but gradually I got a grasp on everything. The cultures in this book are rich and intricate, especially the ashas’. There’s action, history, a little bit of romance, and a lot of magic…everything to keep the reader entranced until the very end. I highly recommend this book!

tbw

(Galley provided by Sourcebooks via NetGalley.)

Clay Tongue, by Nicholas Conley

claytonguenov
This image belongs to Nicholas Conley.

Nicholas Conley is the award-winning author of Pale Highway. Fueled by coffee, he’s fascinated by science fiction novels, comic books, and horror movies. Clay Tongue is his new novelette.

Katie Mirowitz isn’t very big, but her love for her grandfather is. After suffering a stroke, he can no longer talk, but Katie’s relationship with him is still a bright spot in her life, as her family struggles to keep things together. Then Katie finds her grandfather’s old journal, full of tales of a creature from myth. She also finds a key. So Katie sets off into the woods in search of the creature, desperate to have her wish granted, a wish that will save her family.

Clay Tongue isn’t very long, but has plenty of room to draw the reader into Katie’s tale. Katie’s just a kid, but her view of the world is bigger—and far more clear—than the adults in her life. Her love for her grandfather is fierce, as is his for her. There is magic in the pages of this story; magic both large and small, as well as love, hope, and vision.

(Galley provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Enveloping Shadows, by Lauren D.M. Smith

enveloping-shadows
Image belongs to Carina Press.

Lauren D.M. Smith is the author of The Emperor’s Arrow, winner of Harlequin’s 2015 So You think You Can Write contest. Her newest novel is Enveloping Shadows.

Terrwyn is a knight and the chief bodyguard of the princess. Her sword skills are all she needs. Until a stranger cloaked in darkness snatches the princess right in front of Terrwyn before she can even move. Now Terrwyn can no longer ignore the rumors of monsters and dark monsters as she sets out to rescue the princess.

All alone and in an unfamiliar land, Terrwyn cannot afford to refuse help from the mysterious stranger who steps from the shadows. Zelek, full of secrets and after the same man who kidnapped the princess, is a shadow-whisperer intent on avenging his family. Together, he and Terrwyn must face Zelek’s old enemy and a sorceress with a demon at her side if they are to save the princess and repay a debt from Zelek’s past,

I loved the premise of this book, and Zelek’s power was intriguing—he can talk to shadows! I also loved the idea of Terrwyn being a female knight, and that being no big deal at all in this world, even if slightly unusual. Zelek on the whole was a far more interesting character than Terrwyn, whom I found to be somewhat inconsistent:  experienced with men yet super shy with Zelek (this was more on the “Ah, how cute!” level than anything.), a stellar warrior who runs into situations without thought, super focused yet oblivious to the obvious at times. I liked the world itself a lot, and would be interested in reading more set in it, but the character inconsistencies and the caricature villains were troublesome for me.

(Galley provided by Carina Press.)

Heir of Thunder, by Karissa Laurel

heir-of-thunder
Image belongs to Evolved Publishing.

Karissa Laurel is the author of The Norse Chronicles. Her newest book, Heir of Thunder, is the first book in The Stormbourne Chronicles.

Evelyn Stormbourne is left reeling by the sudden death of her father amidst an attack by revolutionaries. Her only ally is Gideon, her father’s horse master, who helps her conceal her identity as they flee to the safety of the coast to find a ship to the Continent.

When a horrific storm washes Evie overboard, she finds herself “rescued” by slavers collecting girls from all cultures. Though Evie escapes, she’s determined to save her fellow captives, with the aid of nomads who live in airships fueled by lightning. Add in a cabal of Dark Magicians intent on using her to create a new god, and an ancient family intent on claiming Evie’s birthright, and the likelihood of disaster is high, as Evie struggles to embrace her identity as well as her powers.

Heir of Thunder is an engaging read set in an intriguing world. The airships are fascinating, as is the culture of the people who live in them. Evie starts off as a sheltered, spoiled brat, but grows so much as a character throughout the novel. A great epic fantasy read for YA or adult readers alike.

(Galley provided by Evolved Publishing via NetGalley.)

Labyrinth Lost, by Zoraida Cordova

labyrinth-lost
I do not own this image. Image belongs to Sourcebooks Fire.

According to her website, Zoraida Cordova says, “(I) write YA Urban Fantasy about mermaids and other things that go bump in the night. I also write about 20-something-year-old-girls searching for love and the meaning of life. I often wish my life were a cross between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sex and the City. I’m a contributing writer to Latinos in Kid Lit because #WeNeedDiverseBooks.” Her newest novel is Labyrinth Lost.

Alex is a bruja in a family of powerful witches. But Alex doesn’t want her powers. She wants to be normal. She’s hated magic for years, ever since it made her father disappear. Instead of a Quinceañera, Alex prepares for her Death Day:  the most important event in a witch’s life, and her one chance to get rid of her magic.

But the curse she performs during the ceremony goes wrong, and her entire family disappears, leaving her alone and with all of their magic. Nova is the only one she can turn to, a brujo with ambitions of his own. They must travel to Los Lagos, a land in-between two places that makes Wonderland look like a cartoon fairy tale.

The characters in Labyrinth Lost are so vivid they almost step off the page. The magic system is unique (with a hint of the feel of voodoo). Alex is conflicted over her heritage, but not her love of her family, and she grows so much in this book. There are a few twists in the book that will catch the reader by surprise.

 

(Galley provided by Sourcebooks Fire via NetGalley.)

Suddenly Spellbound, by Erica Lucke Dean

suddenly spellbound
(I do not own this image. Image belongs to Red Adept Publishing LLC.)

 

Erica Lucke Dean dropped her career as a business banker to pursue writing in the North Georgia Mountains. Her newest book, Suddenly Spellbound, is the second book in the Ivie McKie Chronicles.

Ivie McKie has a lot going on. Her job as a kindergarten teacher is always hectic. Her marriage to Jackson is fast approaching. And her father is back from the dead. A little magic would make things so much easier. Too bad she promised Jack she wouldn’t use magic.

But growing up without her father means when her dad asks her for help with a spell, she reluctantly agrees, and finds herself in the wreckage of her dad’s lab with his hot new apprentice. Soon she finds herself drawn to the mysterious stranger with forces beyond her control, as a promise made long before she was born threatens to alter her life forever, and a clan of Scottish sorcerers appear to make sure someone gets a happily-ever-after.

Suddenly Spellbound is a light-hearted read full of Ivie’s mishaps and mistakes, as she struggles to get her life back on-track despite her father’s interference. Disasters abound, in the spirit of Bridesmaids and the Stephanie Plum novels.

(Galley provided by Red Adept Publishing LLC.)

Blonde Eskimo, by Kristen Hunt

(I do not own this image. Image belongs to SparkPress.)
(I do not own this image. Image belongs to SparkPress.)

Kristen Hunt is from Alaska, but now lives in Arizona, because she believes anything below 64 degrees is freezing. Her new novel, Blonde Eskimo, is a young adult novel set in Alaska.

Neiva Ellis would much rather have toured Europe with her parents. Instead, she is sent to stay with her grandmother in Spirit, Alaska. She’s always known there was something special about Spirit, but now that she’s living there, she realizes everyone in the town, including her grandmother, is keeping something from her.

On the night of her 17th birthday, the Eskimo rite of passage, Neiva discovers the truth, and falls into a world of traditions, mystical creatures, and magic. When an ancient evil threatens everything that she loves, Neiva must work together with her best friends to discover the truth behind tradition, and stop the enemy from destroying the entire world, and everything that she loves.

Blonde Eskimo is full of the rich heritage of a culture that most know little about. Ms. Hunt brings this culture to life with vivid descriptions and fascinating characters living a life most never imagined. The relationship between the characters is dynamic and strong, changing as the characters grow. The mystery surrounding Spirit will have the reader riveted to the page.

(Galley provided by SparkPress via NetGalley.)

Writing Inspiration: What Do You Use?

I’m not an expert or anything–well, I’ve been writing for around 15 years, so a semi-expert?–but I do have a few tips for when you need writing inspiration. Give them a try if you’re stuck, hopefully they’ll work for you.

Music. For me, it requires music without lyrics, so I don’t get distracted (although sometimes Enya works). YouTube is a good place to find new things that fit whatever you’re working on. If you go to the Music page, you can find songs grouped by genres, themes, or or even seasons. This could be really useful if you need a soundtrack to get in the heads of your character. (And I really have to start using music when I write again. Duh…).  Warning:  YouTube is distracting, so you can end up watching tutorials on obscure or impossible subjects if you’re not careful, eating your writing time.

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Pictures. Specifically, pictures of beautiful, magical places (if you’re wondering what to write about), or pictures of the place you’re writing about (if you already know). For Chasing Shadows, my story set in New Orleans, I looked at tons of pictures from the city. I also–since I lived nearby at the time–visited the areas I was writing about (Yeah, I know that sounds like a convenient excuse to spend time in the Big Easy. It was. Perhaps that book needs editing…). Pinterest is a good place to find awesome, inspiring pictures. I have several boards for this. Warning:  Pinterest can EAT YOUR LIFE, so you might want to set a timer or something to make sure you escape alive.

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Pay attention. Seriously. If you’re paying attention, you can find inspiration in the tiniest, most random things. My Muse loves to grab meaningless fragments and put them together. I can almost hear an audible click when this happens, and I know there’s a story idea brewing. This happened just a couple of weeks ago, working on my final essay for British Lit. I chose to re-write a scene from Morte Darthur from Guinevere’s POV. Boom! My Muse said “Hey wait, I’ve got an idea!” and suddenly my WIP isn’t quite enough to keep her occupied anymore, because she has a shiny new idea. (That will get written, I promise.) Just pay attention. Inspiration is like lightning. It strikes randomly.

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Any suggestions for getting or staying inspired?  I’d love to hear them!

Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic, by Meghan Ciana Doidge

Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic by Meghan Ciana Doidge
Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic by Meghan Ciana Doidge

 

Meghan Ciana Doidge is a writer from Vancouver, Canada. She writes about magic and the supernatural, fantasy with a tint of romance. The newest book in her Dowser series, Cupcakes, Trinkets, and other Deadly Magic, is out now, and mixes werewolves, vampires, and cupcakes for a sweet twist on the urban fantasy genre.

Jade’s life was normal: bake cupcakes for her boutique bakery every morning, get in the occasional bit of trouble with her sister, Sienna, create art out of the magical items that seemed to find their way to her. Well, maybe not normal, but when you’re a dowser, half-witch and half…something else, “normal” is relative. Right up until the moment the vampire showed up on her doorstep.

Someone has been murdering werewolves in Vancouver. Someone with a lot of power at their disposal. Someone whose magic smells a whole lot like Jade’s.

She manages to convince the vampire investigator of her innocence, but is swept up into the search for the black magic murderer. Jade discovers that everything she has always thought she’s known is not the truth. Her family has been hiding things from her, things that will affect her life, her abilities, and her future…if she manages to stay alive at all when her barely-tested powers battle black magic for high stakes. And chocolate.

Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic is a light-hearted urban fantasy with darker shadings. The characters are unique and well-realized, and the setting does not have the traditional feel of most urban fantasies. Instead, the author offers up appealing glimpses into the quirky setting of Vancouver that will have the reader eager for more. The tasty cupcake descriptions aren’t bad, either.