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Witches

Review: Grumpy Old Wizards by John O’Riley

Grumpy Old Wizards
Kindle Cover (click for Goodreads Link)

When you are an 80-year-old Wizard with top-notch rating in a world gone wonky, where magic is rated in categories like tornados and just because you are 80 it doesn’t mean you don’t look like a 20-year-old, life can get a bit interesting. Such is the case with Josephine. She and her two best buds, Alice and Helen, live in a retirement home, and the first time you meet them they are playing gin rummy. Josephine has two of the aces, and life is looking good – until the phone rings. Obnoxious Detective Whiney (well, Detective Riley, but he really is Obnoxious and Whiney) has a case for her. (Being a category six wizard, the highest category there is, means that her retirement is frequently interrupted by Obnoxious Detective Whiney. Them’s the rules, if you are a wizard, the government owns your ass.) Uh. Anyway. With a serial killer on the loose who appears to match Josephine in strength, it will take a lot of work to track him down and stop him.

The idea of Grumpy Old Wizards is quite good. There is humour, it isn’t really bloody, per se, and the idea of elderly ladies, while done before, are done uniquely. But then, there are the problems. There is an overall flat choppiness to the writing that pretty much left me cold. Sort of a ‘See Spot, see Spot run, run Spot run’ delivery that had me skimming through the pages shooting for the end. And as other reviewers have said, the very fact that everyone was surprised at the identity of the killer at the end was sort of “Well, duh. Figured that out a long time ago.” I hate that in a book that is supposed to be a mystery – it defeats the purpose and makes the rest of the book, after you saw the big red flashing billboard, mere filler. And what is UP with that cover??? It should be on the cover of a YA romantic 18-year-old witch story, not the cover of this book. I almost didn’t accept the book because the cover literally pushed me away. Goodreads shows two other covers:

 

Grumpy Old Wizards
Createspace Paperback Cover #2
Grumpy Old Wizards (Grumpy Old Wizards, #1)
Createspace Paperback Copy #1

 

♥Which cover do you like? And if I could look like the one on Createspace Cover #1 at 80, I would want to be a wizard, too!♥

Overall, the idea was good, the delivery mediocre, the mystery nonexistent, and the writer needs an editor. However, I am not totally throwing the idea of this series in the trash. With a good editor and good beta readers this could be a funny, interesting series.

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Review: Defensive Magic, A Lost Library Novel, Book Three by Kate Baray

24771540When people want to win they will go to desperate extremes. However, anyone that has already won in life has come to the conclusion that there is no game. There is nothing but learning in this life and it is the only thing we take with us to the grave—knowledge. If you only understood that concept then your heart wouldn’t break so bad. Jealousy or revenge wouldn’t be your ambition. Stepping on others to raise yourself up wouldn’t be a goal. Competition would be left on the playing field, and your freedom from what other people think about you would light the pathway out of hell.”  ― Shannon L. Alder

“There are many hidden truths behind a lie” ― Arlin Sailesh Kapadia

 

It’s magic, Lizzie. Science twists and turns when magic is applied. Lizzy has learned a lot about magic since she first learned what she truly is – a magical being. In Lost Library: Book One of this amazing series, I wrote Kate Baray has written a fast paced, interesting book which I glad to say is much more story than ‘romantic scenes.’ Her magical world building is both unusual and comprehensive, and made me smile over the creativity. Book Two continued the story in the same magically creative manner. Now, with Defensive Magic, Kate Baray pulls out all the stops and sharpens the focus of her series as things come to a head – for good and bad.

Returning from Prague after Lizzie’s kidnapping and the near death of John and others, Lizzie and John are travel worn, exhausted, and barely functional. Which makes things worse as they walk into not one, but two challenges to John’s position as Alpha of the Texas Pack. Rumours had been coming hard and fast while they fought Worth in Prague, but when they arrive back in Texas, things are much worse than expected. For challenges aren’t the only problem. The saying is you aren’t paranoid if they really are out to get you. And someone – or multiple someones – is out to get John, and the Texas Pack. There are those who don’t want to 22041005move out of the middle ages when it comes to pack politics. And they are willing to do anything – even destroy the whole pack, to make sure that contemporary thought and management doesn’t bring the pack into the present day.

edd8a-spiritedlegacy-1900x2850But the problems aren’t  only internal. There are outside influences which are bent on destruction of the pack as well. But is it only the pack that is under attack? Or is something else happening? Are larger actions moving politics and magic, larger goals and intentions surrounding John and Lizzie? Evil magic, nasty politics, hidden agendas. And not surprisingly, things, and people, are once again not whom they appear. It’s all here, and done in Baray’s beautiful style. Fast, exciting, and eminently readable, this is a great series and well worth your reading time. You can read my reviews for Lost Library and Spirited Legacy – and of course, purchase these three books at your favorite outlet!

Highly recommended! I would love a positive response on Amazon if you like my review. 😉

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Maria E. Schneider Is Saving Your Life!

And in “Only In Texas News”

It’s The Zombie Apocalypse!!! RUUUNNNN!!!!!

HAPPY ZOMBIE HUNTING!

Thanks to Bear Mountain Books for the warning! And check out her newest book, Dragon Kin: Dragons of Wendal Book 2. Of course, you should read the first book as well, Dragons of Wendal.

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Heck, read ALL her books! I ADORE her Moon Shadows Series.  Here is a surprise for you as well!

Popular Answered Questions

Maria E. Schneider The fourth book in the Moon Shadow series (Under Witch Moon, Under Witch Aura, Under Witch Curse…and the forth will be Ghost Shadow) and the sequel to Dragons of Wendal.

Woooo Hoooo!!!!

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Review: More Than Magic (Books Of The Kindling #1) By Donna June Cooper

Indubitably, magic is one of the subtlest and most difficult of the sciences and arts. There is more opportunity for errors of comprehension, judgment and practice than in any other branch of physics. – Aleister Crowley

Processed sugar is poison. – Sandra Tennison (Ben’s mom) – Ben 10: Ultimate Alien
More Than MagicDoctor Grace Woodruff is special. A newly-minted doctor, she works hard and cares for her patients. Especially Isabella, better known as Tink, or Tinker Bell, the young cancer victim who wraps her tiny hands around Grace’s heart. Tink, whose time is so very, very short. Grace wants desperately to do something, anything, to help. And she does.

Now, terrified by what she has done, and suffering the agony of losing her beloved grandfather, Grace returns to her mountain home to take over the family’s herb business, the business they have run since the time of her great-great-great grandmother Lily, the famous Woodruff Herb Farm. But peace is not to be found.

There’s something wrong with our mountain, Gracie-girl. You’re the only one who’ll hear it too.”

Frightened and confused, Grace has no time or patience for the author who shows up on her doorstep, unannounced, with a reservation to stay for a week at the Woodruff cabins – a reservation that should have been cancelled when Grace sent her workers away for a two week vacation so she can get her life, and her blooming powers, under control. Nick Crowe is supposed to be writing a book on how the meth trade affects families – but it soon becomes apparent that he is a lot more than he claims.

More Than Magic is AWESOME magical urban fantasy. Donna June Cooper grew up the granddaughter of a coal miner in the Appalachian Mountains, and her knowledge of and great love for the mountains shines through in her work. Poverty and the misery, grief and destructive nature of the meth trade is a strong theme. But the beauty of the land, the magic and history, the Appalachian Granny Women who heal all those who are in need, all these things play a part in creating this marvelous first book in the Books of the Kindling series.

And, there are the stars. The vast expanses of the universe, spinning above the mountains, the immeasurable depths and brilliant lights.

Pops had told her the new name (Star Crossing) was much more descriptive than the old Woodruff Meadow, since he often had to stop on the road to the house to let a few stars cross.

This is a magical tale, a tale of wonder and joy, of loss and heartbreak, and the ties of the miraculous nature of the Earth. Make a cup of cocoa, gather up a quilt and a soft pillow, and turn on your favorite soft music. Then curl up in your favorite chair and simply immerse yourself in a world of beauty and magic. It is well worth it.

A Snippet From The Black Swan Inheritance By Marigold Deidre Dicer

Enjoy this snippet! The book comes out December 1, and you are in for a total treat!

This is an early scene from The Black Swan Inheritance:

Black SwanI found the body where the werewolf had left it. Black blood stained the ground, as well as my clothes. I worried if I had stopped to shower and change I would lose my nerve. Nerves were about all I had now. Nerves and necromancy.

Kneeling down next to the dead creature, my bare legs soaked up the heat of the day from the bitumen. I swallowed audibly and picked up the head to reposition it. That done, I took the small pocketknife I had been given when I joined scouts (I left after about a month) and opened the blade.

“Blood of the Black S-swan.” I was trying to command the dead to rise, and I couldn’t manage that through chattering teeth. I cleared my throat and started again. “Blood of the Black Swan binds you to me. I call you from the grave and into the night. If you shall accept, rise.”

I sliced the inside of my left palm and blood pooled. I coated my red blood against his black, running my hand around his severed neck. Then, finally, I placed my wounded palm over his mouth.

I looked away when I heard movement of flesh against stone, but forced my eyes back upon the scene. I watched as his blood coagulated with mine and brought the head back to the body. I watched as the fatal wound healed itself. I watched as the skin and muscle knitted before my eyes. I watched as the vampire’s eyes snapped open, and he grabbed my hand with both of his and pressed it hard against his mouth.

The feeding was disgusting. The vampire rose a little but only to force more of my blood into his mouth. It reminded me of a man bucking during sex. He drank with greedy desperation, as if frightened the blood be taken from him at any moment. I let him feed, but when I felt my strength wane, I had to put a stop to it.

“Enough.”

The vampire stilled with the command.

“Release me.”

He relinquished my wrist, and I checked my palm. The clean cut was marred with hickeys – bruising from the vampire sucking so desperately he brought the blood up through the skin. My vision became spotty, so I let my hand drop to my side, hoping that if I hid the sight of it I could manage to remain conscious.

“I have claimed you, do you understand?”

He nodded, but his eyes were glassy.

“Are you still hungry?”

“Yes,” he whispered in a weak voice.

“You can no longer feed on me. Is there anything else that can be done to heal you?”

“No blood?”

“No blood.”

He didn’t answer for a moment. Then he said, “Bury me. I need rest.”

I blinked. “Bury you? Bury you where?”

“Somewhere safe.”

I didn’t even own a shovel. I lived in an apartment, after all. Where would be safe?

There was a park right next to where we were, but that could hardly be safe. There was sort of a common, a grassy back garden at the apartment block where the clothesline was. How was I to dig up the ground?

Wait, the management hired a gardener. He came every week and kept his tools in a little shed, next to the hot water systems. There should be a shovel in there.

I just hoped I wasn’t caught.

“C’mon.” I helped the vampire to his feet. “You’re coming home with me.”

The Black Swan Inheritance will be out 1st December 2014!

Copyright © 2014 Sarah Thomas writing as Marigold Deidre Dicer

Review: Hotter Than Helltown by S.M. Reine

hotterthanhelltownAh! César and friends are back again – and this time, his murder case may just kill him. That is, if his boss doesn’t kill him first. After the action in the second in the Preternatural Affairs series, Silver Bullet, César is in big trouble. He used a cell phone he shouldn’t have, and the VP of the Office of Preternatural Affairs is out for César’s guts – literally. And if César doesn’t pass his Aspis exam, to become Shield to Director Fritz Friederling, she just might have said guts for garters.

Could things get worse? Well, sure they can! For there is a vicious demon on the loose, a demon strong enough to kill a Kopis by simply being in the area. With more bodies dropping, all brutally savaged, the race is on as César, his partner Suzy, Isobel the necrocognitive, and Fritz all scramble to find the demon. A demon who may be unkillable.

As always, Reine does a wonderful job of writing a tight narrative that keeps you on the edge of your seat, using a level of creativity that I truly admire. There is terror and blood, but also a great deal of subtle humor in Reine’s works. I enjoyed the first two in the series, and can hardly wait for Sara’s next César book!

Highly recommended. If you haven’t read the first two, I would suggest reading them first. They are really good books, but if you haven’t read them, you can catch up easily enough in this volume. However, it won’t be nearly as much fun!

I received Hotter Than Helltown from the publisher in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

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About the Author:

saraHi everyone! My name is Sara, and I’m the NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestselling author of urban fantasy known as SM Reine. I collect swords, cat hair, and typewriters (which I do use for writing!). You can usually find me writing on my treadmill desk at 2am on any given day.
If you would like to know the instant I have a new book available, you should enlist in my Army of Evil! I’ll only email you when I have a new release, which is generally no more than once a month. I can’t write any faster than that. 🙂

http://smarturl.it/armyofevil

List of my series, including title reading order:

SEASONS OF THE MOON (completed)
Six Moon Summer
All Hallows’ Moon
Long Night Moon
Gray Moon Rising

THE CAIN CHRONICLES (completed)
New Moon Summer
Blood Moon Harvest
Moon of the Terrible
Red Rose Moon
Darkmoon
Of Wings and Wolves
Alpha Moon

THE DESCENT SERIES (completed)
Death’s Hand
The Darkest Gate
Dark Union
Damnation Marked
Dire Blood
Defying Fate
Paradise Damned
Deadly Hearts (prequel short story)

THE ASCENSION SERIES (completed)
Sacrificed in Shadow
Oaths of Blood
Ruled by Steel
Caged in Bone
Lost in Prophecy
Torn by Fury
Sins of Eden

PRETERNATURAL AFFAIRS (in progress)
Witch Hunt
Silver Bullet
Hotter than Helltown
Shadow Burns(coming soon!)

TAROT WITCHES (in progress)
Caged Wolf
Forbidden Witches (coming soon!)

Review: Hard Spell: Occult Crimes Unit Investigations, Book 1

hardspell“My name’s Markowski, a Detective Sergeant on the Scranton PD’s Supernatural Crimes Investigation Unit. I carry a badge. Also, a crucifix, some wooden stakes, a big vial of holy water, and a 9mm Beretta loaded with silver bullets.”  – Markowski, Hard Spell

Death is when the monsters get you. – Stephen King

Scranton, Pennsylvania fifty years after WWII is a different place than one might expect.  When millions of Americans poured into Europe to fight in the war, they picked up a little something extra to bring back home besides war wives and interesting STD’s. Quaint little things like cases of werewolves and vampires and zombies (oh, my!) Needless to say, it changed the way life is lived in the good ol’ US of A. Instead of McCarthy going after ‘Commies’ he gets to do real, honest-to-goodness witch hunts – for real witches. . .

There is a lot to like about Hard Spell. There is humor and a great deal of creativity that I got a kick out of. Gustainis writes an engaging tale with a strong noir flavour which reminds me quite a bit of the feeling I get from the Nightside stories by Simon R. Green – one of my favorite series of all time. There is a feeling of reality in the very unreal situations of the book, which was pleasing. However, the role of women characters in the book was, well, I hesitate to say “demeaning” but it comes very close to the razor edge of treating women as lesser beings – something that I found less than enjoyable. Even the female SWAT team member was portrayed in a less than admirable manner – something that irritated me to no end. I wanted to shake the author and remind him that “noir” doesn’t equate with “testosterone poisoning.”

I listened to the book – the Audible edition. As much as I enjoyed Gustainis’ work, I cannot say the same for the narrator. He was, in a word, completely irritating. What narrator worth his salt cannot be bothered to check pronunciations?!?! The guy STINKS at pronunciation! Come on – you don’t know how to pronounce “were” as in “werewolf??” Weer (like a Bostonian we’re)  is not even close to correct, Peter. It is rather insulting to the author that you can’t be bothered to take a moment to learn pronunciations.  Especially for such common terms.

Overall, I knocked a full star off for poor narration. Another half star for some problems with trite characterizations (especially the handling of Markowski’s first partner) and with his tendency to treat his characters with something less than respect. Overall, however, this was a completely bad introduction to the series. I hope to find a more well rounded volume with the next in the series, Evil Dark: Occult Crimes Unit Investigations, Book 2 – though I won’t be buying the Audible edition. Five more minutes of Peter Brooke and I may have been forced to throw my reader across the room. . .

 

Review: Season Of The Witch By Natasha Mostert

seasonofthewitchOnce upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.”
―Edgar Allan Poe

[I am] the pen merely of [God] Whose Spirit, quickly writing these things through me, I wish and I hope to be. – John Dee, Monas Hieroglyphica (‘The Hieroglyphic Monad’)

 Who will live in this place between door and window? A mummer with a heavy heart and blind eyes turning, turning.

 I must meditate upon my name. – Season of the Witch, by Natasha Mostert

 

Doors. Doors upon Doors upon Doors. Doors into memory. Doors into dream. Doors into magic and mystery and heartbreak. Doors into eroticism – Doors into death.

I first found Ms. Mostert when I was offered The Midnight Side by the publisher back in February. As I said in that review, The Midnight Side is . . . a brooding, atmospheric tale of suspense and psychological thrill, full of the kinds of fear and gloomy atmosphere sure to lure in even the most jaded of readers. Mostert speaks to deep waters of the mind, dark corners of the soul, the ruin brought on by wounded and damaged souls.

 With my reading of Season of the Witch, winner of the 2009 Book To Talk About: World Book Day Award, I was again pulled into the deep waters of the mind, the dark corners of the soul. And once more, I was enthralled by Ms. Mostert’s grasp of language, her ability to paint a picture with words upon the page.

The book actually starts rather oddly for what I had expected from Mostert, as we meet Gabriel Blackstone, an accomplished cyber thief, as he practices his craft. Gabriel knows what he is – nothing more, or less, than a thief – but a masterful one; a savant of ones and zeroes, algorithms and cyphers, pulling cyber magic from the very air. But that is not all Gabriel is. Gabriel is a Remote Viewer. And now, his former girlfriend needs his help. For though she too is a RV, she has nowhere near the strength or skill of her once-beloved. For her new beloved, her dying husband, wishes to know the fate of his son, who has disappeared without a trace.

Though reluctant to return to this skill he has left behind, a happenstance pulls him back into this world of dreams and visions, of minds touching across space and time and realities one upon the other like the petals of a rose. And here, Mostert shows her amazing skill in crafting worlds of wonder and terror, of loss and mystery.

And as he slowly spiraled downwards, he wondered with a strange sense of detachment if he might not still be on a journey, still searching for the path that does not wander . . .

Many have spoken of the theme of the story, the happenings and characters. What I wish to address is her stunning vision of the occult, of witchcraft and psychology, seduction and passion, mysticism and the mind, all richly crafted into a world both heartrending and sublime.

A white horse neighed madly and tossed its blood-soaked mane.

None of Mostert’s characters are purely evil, none are purely good. Instead, she revels in creating characters of depth, both moral and immoral, sinner and chaste. Through talismanic images and mysterious sigils, fantastic signs and the infinite patterns of code, she drives Gabriel through the palaces of memory and the mind, wrapping the story into an atmospheric, poetic whole.

Natasha Mostert has permanent residence on my “Keepers” shelf, a place few Authors gain within my own Palace of the Mind.

I received my copy of Season of the Witch from the publisher. All thoughts are my own. Don’t fail to add all of Ms. Mostert’s books to your “Must Read” shelf if you love atmospheric, poetic writing.

Purchase Links:

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About the Author:

natmosWhen one of my publishers asked me to submit a 200 word biography for their authors’ website, I thought about dropping the usual bio platitudes and submitting the following:

“Natasha Mostert is a spectacularly brilliant, raven-haired psychic who saw her first ghost at the age of four. She likes to take midnight rides on horseback and practices levitation twice a day.”

However, upon reflection I didn’t think my editor would be too amused by this flight of fancy. So here it is, the official (and much less exciting) Natasha Mostert biography:

Natasha Mostert is a South African novelist and screenwriter, who specializes in contemporary psychological thrillers with mystical and paranormal themes. She grew up in Pretoria and Johannesburg but currently lives in London with her husband, Frederick. She still keeps an apartment in the university town of Stellenbosch in the Cape province.

Contact Natasha:

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Keeper of Light and Dust Season of the WitchWindwalker The Other Side of Silence The Midnight Side

 

Review: Spirited Legacy by Kate Baray (Edited:Links Work Now)

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The library, with its Daedalian labyrinth, mysterious hush, and faintly ominous aroma of knowledge . . . – P. J. O’Rourke

I understood right from the start that every set of library doors were the sort of magic portals that lead to other lands. My God, right within reach there were dinosaurs and planets and presidents and girl detectives! – Deb Caletti

When I first met Lizzy in Lost Library, the first in Kate Baray’s wonderful Urban Fantasy Romance series, I was, in a word, charmed. As I said in my review, Lizzy is much like me – She works at home, rarely sees even her own clients, and has a terrific best friend, Kenna. She just never sees herself as anyone who is brave or anyone who could be spectacular in any way.

Of course, in the manner of all things, Lizzy’s comfortable little world blows up in her face when a seemingly ancient book shows up on her doorstep. Well, she supposes it could be a book. If it weren’t blank, that is. And when a hotty McHotterson of a werewolf shows up on her front porch looking for the book, well, all thoughts of safe, calm comfortable Lizzy are blasted right out of the metaphorical water.

Now, in Kate’s second book, Spirited Legacy, both Lizzy and her Alpha werewolf (Boyfriend? Mate? Pack Member? Maybe?) John are back in Prague, ensconced in the Library, drawn there once again by Harrington, Director of the Inter-Pack Policing Cooperative, or IPPC. Just as friendly as ever, if you find controlling stuffed-shirts to be amenable, Harrington has called Lizzy back to the Library to continue her work on translations of the magical books found within. But to a much more serious purpose than simple research. For at the end of LL Sarah, Lizzy’s co-kidnapped from the first book, was injured, severely, saving Lizzy’s life. And the only way to save Sarah’s life may be to find a cure within the Library itself. And the fact that Harrington, a top caster, has offered to mentor Lizzy, is yet another encouragement.

Come, come, time calls our close complots to action.
Go, Proximus, with winged speed flie hence,
Hye thee to Wales: salute great Vortiger
With these our letters; bid the king to arms,
tell him we have new friends, more forces landed
In Norfolk and Northumberland; bid him
Make haste to meet us; if he keep his word,
Wee’l part the realm between us. –
Ostorius, The Birth of Merlin, or, the Childe Hath Found His Father, ACT III SCENE V – Ascribed to William Rowley, and occasionally (most likely spuriously) to William Shakespeare

Of course, life isn’t getting any easier for Lizzy than it has been since the happenings in LL. Even the resident ghost is throwing rocks at Lizzy’s head – literally!

I *do* believe in spooks, I *do* believe in spooks. I do, I do, I do, I *do* believe in spooks, I *do* believe in spooks, I do, I do, I do, I *do*! The Cowardly Lion, The Wizard of Oz, 1939

After injuring the evil Zach Worth, soul sucker extraordinaire, at the end of the last book, Lizzy and her compatriots don’t know if he is still even alive – but all bets are on that he is – and that he has something even more evil up his sleeve than anyone ever imagined. What is a poor Caster to do? Is it not bad enough that John slipped in a, “Oh, BTW, you are my mate now and Female Alpha of my Pack and also BTW, my Pack hates you, even though they have never met you?” smack upside her head? Oy.

The previous cast of characters are all present-and-accounted-for, and we get to meet some awesome new characters, like Harry, Sarah’s healer (Yes, yes, “Harry the Healer.” Well, at least he thinks it is funny.) Oh, and did I mention the dragons?!

Kate’s writing remains crisp, her character development spot-on, and the intensity in this book keeps the reader enthralled from first page to last. There is a bit more relationship building between Lizzy and John, her Alpha boyfriend who is trying to pull his pack out of the Dark Ages in terms of their view of the world. John is one of the more interesting Alpha characters on the scene today. Much like Kate Daniels’ Curran, John comes off at first as all macho-macho man, and yet, if you look closer, there is a great deal of compassion and understanding underneath all that drool-worthy body and drive to protect. Independent Lizzy is having a heck of a time managing the transition from Totally Independent Lizzy to part of a couple, and John is having a hard time learning that sometimes being the full-time protector isn’t the right way to go. But they are getting there, and again, this is one of the more interesting couples that I have read in Urban Fantasy recently.

I highly recommend both books in the series, and would suggest that you grab a copy of Lost Library and read it now. And don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway to win a copy of Spirited Legacy. If you can wait that long, that is. Once I ended LL, I couldn’t wait to start SL!!

I received an ARC of Spirited Legacy from the author, Kate Baray. This fact does not influence my reviews of either book.

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