magic

Book Review: Bat Wings, Rings & Apron Strings by Erin Johnson

Posted on Updated on

Bat Wings, Rings & Apron Strings: A Cozy Witch Mystery (Spells & Caramels Book 10)Bat Wings, Rings & Apron Strings: A Cozy Witch Mystery by Erin Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Erin Johnson is my heroine these days… Ten (10 books) of semi-substantial page content in less than 2 years… all are great, tie together well, and make me yearn for the next release. But now I suffer… because with this 10th one in the Spells & Caramels Cozy Witch Mystery series, we have the final one: Bat Wings, Rings & Apron Strings. Is it okay to cry over the end of a book even though I know the author and she’s already gearing up for another series?

If you’re new to the series, here’s the brief scoop: Imogen is human and doesn’t know she’s a witch. She has an odd baking incident and sets a building on fire, then finds herself magically transported somewhere near France. She learns the truth about her heritage, meets and falls in love with royalty, fights monsters, meets her real family, and solves crimes in the world of witchery!

In this final book, Imogen is finally about to marry her beloved, but disaster strikes. Half the book involves her wedding preparations, the other half is figuring out who poisoned someone she’s close to. No spoilers here! In the end, of course, she saves the day, but the path to it is quite treacherous. I loved getting to revisit characters we missed from earlier books, as Imogen goes to each of them for help. The wedding is such a fun scene, and the ending is touching.

I highly recommend the series. The mysteries are light, the magic is low-level, and the characters are hilarious. When you add it together, it’s a recipe for awesomeness! Thanks for a great series, Erin Johnson. I’ll be with you on to the next one…

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Advertisements

Book Review: Due East, Beasts & Campfire Feasts by Erin Johnson

Posted on

Due East, Beasts & Campfire Feasts: A Cozy Witch Mystery (Spells & Caramels Book 7)Due East, Beasts & Campfire Feasts: A Cozy Witch Mystery by Erin Johnson
When you find a book series you love, it’s hard not to jump on the opportunity to read the latest release. Author Erin Johnson is a fantastic marketer and has kept me interested with each new launch. Her latest in the Spells & Caramels ‘A Cozy Witch Mystery’ series, is called Due East, Beasts & Campfire Feasts (in keeping with the 3 names in the title). If you’re new to the series, Imogen Banks was a normal everyday American chef until something weird happened and she was transported to a world of magic where she became a royal baker… now she’s solving crimes, battling evil witches and beasts, and trying to figure out just exactly what kind of magic she’s capable of!

Johnson’s imagination is amazing. I’m not a fantasy reader, but I do like stories about magic and witches, so this series ultimately matches well to my reading style and favorite genres. In this new installment, Imogen finally transports through the magic mirror into the Badlands after a particularly horrific fight with the former king who almost killed her boyfriend. She unfortunately finds herself (and all their friends) in a place where another cruel group of people might just want to kill her, too. In time, she proves she’s not one of the evil beasts or royal family who helped unleash them… but wow… it takes a long time to convince them (rightfully so).

I really enjoyed this book. Some of the scenes were elaborate and quite powerful. The recurring characters were fantastic, but I wanted to see more of them. We met a whole new group of island people which were interesting, but they took over much of the book and left me missing some of my faves from prior ones. I’m sure they’ll be back tho, I’m not worried. In this one, after an epic battle, everything calms down, but I can already tell by Johnson’s creativity and brilliance, she’s gearing up for something huge in the next book. 4.5 stars… I can’t wait to read it.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Airships, Crypts & Chocolate Chips by Erin Johnson

Posted on Updated on

The Spells & Caramels Cozy With Mystery series written by Erin Johnson just keeps getting better and better with the launch of the 6th book, Airships, Crypts & Chocolate Chips: A Cozy Witch Mystery, published today. I had to get the book as soon as it was available and tore through it in a few hours. What an amazing series with fantastic characters, surprises and major possibilities for the future. You know a series is on the brink of becoming something quite big when you feel that investment brewing deep inside and can’t sit still while reading a book!

In this one, Imogen learns the truth about what happened all those years ago with the Monsters invading her world, turning her into a swallow and leading to her adoption into the non-magic world. And it’s a doozy of a reveal tying in parts of Hank’s past, the royal family and the supposedly inescapable prison we’ve heard about before. From brilliant imagery to shocking partnerships, this story has it all. Johnson has delivered the best in the series with Airships, Crypts & Chocolate Chips. I’m anxiously awaiting the next book now that I’m all caught up… and if you’ve not experienced them before, you must start from the beginning. It will be very rewarding to see the growth in both the characters and the fantastic world Johnson has built with all these magic kingdoms.

40513391

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Cookie Dough, Snow & Wands Aglow by Erin Johnson

Posted on

I’ve become such a fan of the Spells & Caramels cozy mystery series by Erin Johnson and just finished reading the fourth book, Cookie Dough, Snow & Wands Aglow. If you’ve never read the series, it’s important to start from the beginning, but they are light-and-easy, so you should be able to devour each in about three hours. In this edition, Imogen learns important secrets about her family and where she really comes from, but that’s only part of the story. She and the rest of the royal baking team, and her crush, Hank (yes, he’s the prince about to marry someone else!), are trudging through the snowy weather to help promote the many talents in their kingdom, but when Horace, leader of the Badlands Army, stops them, everything begins to go foul! In the little town they find themselves visiting for a few days, everything is turned upside down when someone is murdered in a very specific way — and it can only lead to 1 possible killer who has that ability!37755851

 
There are a lot of cozy mysteries in the market these days, and it’s important to find a few that add in more than just the mystery. Johnson weaves romance, magic, and baking into this wonderful creation, providing a variety of avenues for readers to explore and happily latch themselves to. Between shifters, vampires, and swallows, you’ve got an immense amount of interesting magical dilemmas and cultural topics that help carry the story. It’s Johnson’s ability to dazzle readers with all the details to truly build the setting and backdrop, and that’s where we find ourselves thirsting for more and more hints and glimpses into this magical world. Throw in a bit of saucy humor, sarcastic worldly creatures, and the potential for a very big disaster to happen when the good versus evil war truly heats up… and you’ve got a winner!

I can’t wait to start reading the fifth book when it comes out in April! Kudos to Erin Johnson for a fantastic imagination and incredibly strong cast of characters in the world of the Earth Kingdom.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Seashells, Spells & Caramels by Erin Johnson

Posted on Updated on

4 out of 5 stars to Seashells, Spells & Caramels, the first in a cozy mystery series set to be published on October 29th, 2017 and written by Erin Johnson.

book

Why This Book 
My reading interests are fairly diverse; I often need a balance an intense thriller with a lighthearted cozy mystery, or a direct and clear biography with a lyrical historical fiction book. My head has its limits. When the author reached out to me offering an opportunity to read her novel, I said ‘yes’ for two reasons: (1) I am low on cozy mysteries readily available from my TBR and (2) she’s a new author, like me. The premise, a cross between a Harry Potter wizarding world and Hannah Swensen’s wonderful dessert world, intrigued me. It was time for something new and the story said ‘pick me tonight,’ so I did. And I’m quite glad, so let me get right into the review…

Plot, Characters & Setting 
Imogen’s life is a bit of a mess, mostly because her boss is sarcastic and awful. When she steps up to help cater the woman’s wedding rehearsal dinner, Imogen finally gets a bit of kudos but also realizes something weird is happening around her when she bakes. Her luck improves for just one night when a guest at the dinner convinces Imogen to enter a secret baking contest which will hopefully earn her a chance to get the money to open her own bakery. She submits her entry, falls asleep at the kitchen counter and wakes up to a disaster happening all around her. The only good thing after she loses everything of importance to her is she’s been selected to participate in the final round of the contest. After she finally locates the place in a remote island off the European shores, she learns there really is a world of magic; now she needs to find out where she belongs in it. One by one, she competes against other bakers, learning all about her new world, until another participant in the contest is murdered. There’s foul afoot in her new magic world and she’s desperate to avoid getting caught up in the problem, as she just wants to win the prize or find a way to get home and open her own bakery. But she begins to develop friendships and care about the future of the world she’s come to know.

Approach & Style 
I read the 286 page book on my iPad through Kindle Reader. There are 28 chapters, each one around 10 pages. It’s told in first-person point of view with the perspective always on Imogen, the main character. It’s the first in a series with at least three already written and coming available soon. I read it over three nights in about four hours in total. The writing style is simple and clean, offering good imagery and world-building.

Key Thoughts 
I really enjoyed the concept of the story; it has been done before on some levels, but it’s also handled in a different manner in this book. Imogen accepts she’s a witch, doesn’t try to complain or research so she learns everything at once. A lot is still a mystery at the end of the book, e.g. who were her parents, what magic does she possess, how do people not know witches exist, where is the line between good and evil, etc. When you combine a passion for cooking desserts and a contest, it’s a win for me. I kept picturing “The Great British Baking Show” meets “The Witches” while reading the story.

For a debut, it’s strong; there are several open questions, good characters, lots of opportunity for growth without repetition and subtle humor. I felt transported to a different world for a few hours, which is always a positive reaction to a book like this one. On the flip side, I am curious to see how the author addresses many of the open items. It can’t go on for too long, or we’ll worry that we have to suspend our disbelief and just accept we don’t know the rules to this magical world. But for now, I’m excited and look forward to more action.

Author & Other Similar Books 
There are a bunch of cozy mysteries in the market either about witches or cooks and bakers. It’s hard to choose one, but it falls right within that niche. What’s special about this first book, and we’ll see where the others go, is the main character discovering who she is while also trying to re-build her new life. Imogen isn’t trying to be a detective or solve the case; she’s merely living her life and thinking about everything happening around her. The mystery is two-fold here: who is she in the magic world and what is happening to her fellow contestants. It reads like a fun story about someone re-inventing herself rather than someone with a penchant for trying to find killers.

Summary
If you’ve read my reviews before, you know I’ve only given 5-star ratings to less than 5% of my reads, which are currently over 500 books. A 4-star rating in my world means ‘it’s pretty darn good,’ and this one certainly qualifies in that category. There’s some room for improvement and growth, but it’s a very engaging and style. I recommend it to cozy mystery fans and those who enjoy reading light / creative stories about witches and magic. I am looking forward to book #2 in this series, but I might pace myself so I don’t read them all in one sitting… then I’d have to the author to conjure one up quickly… but as the magic in her books tell us, you can’t conjure something from nothing. To know what that means, you’ll just have to read the book!

About Me 
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/WGS. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

Review: Romeo and Juliet

Posted on Updated on

Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review
As I looked over my previously read books and searched for one that was missing a review, Romeo and Juliet stood out to me. But then I thought about it… who doesn’t know about this play? Who hasn’t read it in school sometime in the past? Who hasn’t watched a movie version or seen some sort of take on the classic tortured romance story? And why on earth would anyone care to read another review, let alone my review, on it? Exactly. So… don’t look for much here as I’m sure most everyone has read it already. And I’m not that funny to even make reading my opinions worth it. That said… a few shared thoughts about what I’ve learned from this play:

1. Parents exist to torture their children. It’s a simple fact. If your child wants X, it is your responsibility to keep X away from him/her.

2. Love will always end in disaster. Don’t attempt it without proper back-up.

3. Even though someone looks dead, they probably aren’t. Kill them again just to be sure.

4. Your bros or girls don’t always have your back.

5. Magic powders are the cure for everything. Always trust what you don’t understand. And just inhale it like the world is about to end.

In all sincerity, I do like the play a lot. I’ve enjoyed countless interpretations. I think parts of it are brilliant and parts of it are pure illogical nonsense. Every TV show and movie has their own re-appropriation to tell. Not everything can be perfect when it comes to love. But this play certainly teaches a lot of lessons and provides a lot of bumps. And this reader still goes along for the ride…

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

View all my reviews

Review: Charmed to Death

Posted on Updated on

Charmed to Death
Charmed to Death by Shirley Damsgaard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4 stars to Shirley Damsgaard‘s Charmed to Death, the second book in the Abby and Ophelia series, for brewing up an even better story and turning on the ways of the witch. While a fun and good example of a cozy and has a lot of potential as a popular new series, it needs another book to fully round out the setting and the characters before I can push it to a 5.


Story

Ophelia has a dream which her grandmother Abby interprets as a need to solve her best friend’s murder from five years ago which was the ultimate driver for Ophelia’s move back home to her small Iowa town from the Iowa big city. Ophelia begins to accept that she and her grandmother are witches and partially embraces her powers to discover who killed Brian. At the same time, Abby is leading a group of townsfolk to stop a big company from changing the landscape of their town and potentially causing disastrous results. Ophelia develops relationships with a few new male characters testing the waters to see who might be a good love interest, but Abby warns that one is dark and one is good. Which one will the witch pick? And what happens when the suspected serial killer who murdered Brian seems to be lurking in Ophelia’s hometown? All the stories come colliding together revealing more bubbling beneath the cauldron’s surface than actually appeared.


Strengths

1. The story was quite clever. It had some complexity but also some simplicity which made it spot on for a cozy mystery read. You know from the beginning that one of the new characters is too good to be true, but you can’t quite figure out what’s going on until the big reveal.

2. Ophelia’s softer side comes out in this book. She’s not as harsh as she was in book 1, especially seeing her worry over her grandmother who has an accident and when she turns to her mother (who makes an appearance!) for comfort.


Weaknesses

1. One of the sub-plots had no conclusion: what happens with the big company coming in to takeover some of the farmland and turn it into a hog breeding facility? After Abby’s accident, her cause seems to have dissipated along with Harley and Edna. I’m hoping this is picked up in book 3 but it was definitely left too open for readers just starting a new series.

2. When one of the charactes falls victim to an accident/killer, no one mourns his death and it really isn’t discussed a whole lot. There is no funeral, no town gossip, no sadness, etc. In order to build the appeal of the town and the people, I think it’s important to incorporate these side stories and themes into the overall series in order to build a large readership. Unfortunately, this example felt mechanical and not emotional.


Final Thoughts

The series really took off in this book from the debut. Characters are developing personalities and rivalries. Families are being integrated with Ophelia’s return home. The town is being flushed out. It has a lot of potential. And if you have any interest in witch history, it’s connecting the story back to the Salem Witch Trials which helps ground it in history. I’ll definitely move on to book 3 to see if this series flies off the handle!

View all my reviews