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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: 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

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Book Review: The Dragon’s Midlife Mate, by Haley Weir

I picked up a copy of Haley Weir‘s The Dragon’s Midlife Mate on one of it’s Amazon free days.

the dragon's midlife mate
Welcome to Cress, a mystical small town with magic, mystery, and golden-eyed men…


Who says you can’t restart your life in your 40s?

I’m trapped in a loveless marriage. When my husband discovered that I’m a dragon shifter, he twisted my secret to keep me bound to him. He treats me like a circus animal. His prized possession.

It’s time for me to dust off my wings and fly.

I packed my bag and ran. I didn’t know where I was going, just that I had to get out of there. I left the big city and stumbled into a small town lost in time.

The last thing I expected was to run into one of my own kind. Zachary is a sexy-as-sin bartender with shimmering golden eyes.

But can I trust him the way my heart desperately wants to?


I came to Cress as an orphan. The people of this small town took me in. They accepted me for what I am–a dragon shifter. They protected me.

And now I protect them.

I never thought I’d want anything more…until she shows up on my doorstep. She’s scared and tired, but far from helpless. When her gaze meets mine, it hits me.

I’m staring into the eyes of my mate. And I’d do anything to keep her safe.

my review

This simply wasn’t very good. It’s not sloppy bad, it’s just all tell (no show), which creates a distance between the reader and the characters, and it has a really simple, shallow plot. Everything happens in a linear manner. This happens, which leads to this, which leads to that, and then this happens and then that happens. There are no red herrings, no mysteries, no need for characters to consider or figure anything out. Everything is presented on the surface and proceeds in an orderly (and there fore boring manner). There are also loads of inconsistencies, especially around time and distance. And the plot just makes no sense. Why Marko was allowed to do ANY of what he did when they had the power to prevent it? It felt artificial. No way I believe Zachary let that happen one chapter after we were shown him go all alpha male on Cornelius.

I’ll be honest, I read the first half and skimmed a lot of the second half. And I’m not often a skimmer. I consider it cheating myself out of a book. But I just wanted to be done with this without having to give it much more of my time.

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