Tag Archives: paranormal women’s fiction

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Book Review: Gypsy Magic, by H.P. Mallory & J.R. Rain

I picked up a freebie copy of H.P. Mallory and J.R. Rain‘s Gypsy Magic. It’s been sitting in my cloud for a while until I found time to dedicate to an audiobook. Luckily, I’ve started walking on the treadmill in the mornings, and I’m giving myself permission to listen to audiobooks as I walk. I started with this one.

@seesadieread They say #sittingisthenewsmoking and I #sitallday. So, I’ve committed to #walkingeveryday. This is #day2 ????. #im listening to #gypsymagic by #hpmallory. The title is giving me canniptions, the fact that it is a slur is even addressed in the book. So the author can’t claim ignorance ????. Anyhow, here hoping there is a day 3. #walking #lowimpactworkout #walkingisgoodforyou #fyp #walkingisgood ♬ i want it i got it – Official Sound Studio

The book:

Gypsy Magic cover

Welcome to Haven Hollow, a town of monsters…

After dating a string of losers and banishing a poltergeist, I packed up my Los Angeles life and my eleven-year-old son, and moved… to a town in Oregon with a population of 680. Well, 682 now.

Culture shock anyone? Ahem, never mind that… New starts can happen anywhere, right?

I hope so because I need to start the next chapter of my forty-three year life pronto. So, why Haven Hollow? For one reason—there aren’t any witches here. And a witch can make a gypsy’s life… complicated.

Oh, right, I’ve put the cart before the horse…

Hi, I’m Poppy Morton and I come from a long line of Scottish gypsies—gypsies who possess magic and make potions to treat any and all ailments. It’s been my dream to open my own potions store and I’m finally going to do it—in the picturesque and small town of Haven Hollow.

Once my son, Finn, and I get settled in our two-story ramshackle, decrepit and rickety farmhouse (that happens to be bordering a cemetery), the nightmares start. And they won’t stop. Almost every night, I find myself face to face with a shadow monster—and its victim. And I’m fairly sure it’s the victim sending me the night terrors, wanting me to figure out the mystery of who or what murdered him.

But, I’m not really sure I want to get involved. Between facing a huge remodel of the above mentioned “house,” getting my son situated in his new school, opening my potions store and dealing with one of the ghosts from my last house who somehow thumbed a ride to this one, I’ve got my hands full. Actually, more than full.

Good thing I’ve got a few handsome neighbors to call on—Marty Zach, a self-professed ghost exorcist who just happens to have the sexiest smile, and Roy Osbourne, a bear of a man who looks like he alone coined the word ‘lumberjack.’

While I’m taken by Marty’s charm and Roy’s really-really-really broad shoulders, I can’t help but feel like this whole town is hiding a secret… and that’s the mystery I mostly want to solve, ghost visions be damned.

my review

Overall, this was a cute read, though it felt like a prologue to the larger series. The meeting and making fast friends was a little unbelievable, and I had trouble accepting some of the basic premises of the plot, though. Poppy has strong magic and has apparently been educated in how to use it well enough to open a shop and make a living with it. But there are some HUGE gaps in her knowledge, most notably that other supernaturals exist. It made no sense that she could be ignorant of this fact, and she maintained this ignorance FAR longer than was believable throughout the book. Similarly, if a town has 680 people in it, I do not believe anyone who grew up there remained ignorant of the supernaturals in their small community. Unfortunately, considering the importance of these points to the plot, this compromised much of my enjoyment.

Pair that with the frankly, galling use of Gypsy in the title and throughout the book. The word is gypsy magic photoa slur. The authors know this. It is addressed in the book. So, I know that they know it. Given that it is still used liberally, I take it as a purposeful statement on their part, perhaps something along the lines of “We refuse to cave to the woke crowd” or some BS like that. The point is the pointed use and incorporation of a word known to be offensive to the people it describes is a choice with a message. Especially since Poppy herself is not a Traveler of any sort, she has no tie to the culture beyond inheriting magic from a Traveler ancestor.

The narrator, Kelley Huston, did a nice job. Her accent for Lorken wasn’t great. But everything else was well done.

Other Reviews:

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Book Review: Monsters of Midlife, by Melle Amade

I picked up a copy of Melle Amade‘s Monsters of Midlife as an Amazon freebie.
monsters of midlife

I’ve dreamt about dark, ravenous monsters my entire life. Last night I found out…all my darkest dreams are real.

At forty-five I didn’t think life had many surprises left, but I was so, so wrong. Monsters do exist and last night their demigod, Ryder, came to me asking for help.

I would have been more willing if Ryder wasn’t my younger, too-hot-to-handle ex-husband.

Apparently, he was hiding a few things during our marriage. I thought it was girlfriends when I divorced him. But according to him he’s been protecting the world by keeping his kind at bay. I wouldn’t have believed him except he turned into a creepy black monster with fangs, three glowing eyes, shiny black horns, and pointed ears right in front of me!

Having Ryder back in my life releases something inside me I didn’t realize existed. It’s overbearing, angry, and chaotic. And I realize I still have feelings for him, but this time, they’re unleashing the monster buried deep inside myself.

I’ll help him save the world, but the one thing I can’t afford to do is fall in love with him again.

Not now. Not ever.

I’ll lose more than my heart, I’ll lose my humanity.

my review

Look, I fully expected this to be a silly, ridiculous read. I was not looking for great literature or anything serious. But the simple fact is that this book is poorly done. No one is likable. He shows no moments to appreciate, and she is consistently too-stupid-to-live. The emotions are all overwrought and over-amplified. You feel no chemistry between the characters. The world is not fleshed out. The dialogue is cringy. (So is the single sex scene). The plot jumps around willy-nilly, and then the book just ends practically in the middle of a scene. So, the whole thing feels incomplete on top of everything else. I will not be continuing the series.  

Other Reviews:

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Book Review: Becoming Crone, by Lydia M. Hawke

I purchased a copy of Lydia M. Hawke‘s Becoming Crone.
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She wanted purpose. She found dark magick and war.

For Claire Emerson, there is nothing ordinary about turning sixty.

First, there are the crows. Then, a pendant that unlocks a gate to a house in the woods–which comes with a snarky gargoyle, an entirely too-sexy wolf shifter claiming to be Claire’s protector, and a legacy that turns her reality upside down.

Because divorced, menopausal grandmothers with creaky hips and hot flashes? They don’t just randomly discover they’re next in a long line of powerful women protecting the world from the dark magick of Mages.

Claire’s first instinct is to turn tail and run back to the safety of baking cookies and reading bedtime stories. But when it becomes clear the Mages have targeted her, she may have no choice but to accept her calling. There’s just one problem: she never got the lifetime of training she was supposed to have, and her magick is… well, unreliable would be an understatement.

With the Mages threatening everything she loves, can Claire learn what she needs to in time to become Crone? Or will she be the one to lose an ancient war—and her life?

my review
While I liked this book, in the most general sense, I don’t suppose it’ll make much sense to say that I love that the is a book about a 60-year-old woman, but wish it was less about a 60-year-old woman. I really wanted Claire to be a badass woman who happened to be 60-years-old. Instead she’s a 60-year-old woman who happened to be badass (or was working towards becoming badass…ok, she wasn’t badass but has the potential to be in the future). And while that might seem like an impertinent difference, it wasn’t for me.

Too much of the book is “Woe is me, I’m 60,” “I need my reading glasses, I’m 60,” “My hips/ankles/toes/joints hurt, I’m 60,” “I haven’t had a libido for decades, I’m 60,” etc. I want 60-year-old heroines. But this book seemed to make being 60-years-old Claire’s whole personality. And that focus felt much more like… maybe tokenizism is the word I want, maybe. It certainly wasn’t a full engagement and purposeful subversion of society’s tendency to erase older women or truly encompassing and embracing the power of the crone. It 100% wasn’t making Claire feel anymore like a true, fleshed out character than the young Chosen Ones we all have read ad nauseam. All of which disappointed me.

I was also simply bored by a lot of this story. Claire doesn’t even come to accept her situation until past the 60% mark and all of the action is in the last 10% or so. Having said that, I like the idea of Claire and, if I accept that this first book set the stage and gave her the training and knowledge, I can hope that the next book in the series will be more interesting. The writing and editing is perfectly readable and the overarching plot has me curious. So, I think I’ll give book two a shot and see how it goes from there.

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Other Reviews:

Bea’s Book Nook: Review Becoming Crone

Mini-Reviews of Books I Requested Through I Smell Sheep June-July 2021