Wolf Meets His Fate by N.J. Walters

Wolf Meets His Fate by N.J. Walters
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Moonflower

Orphaned at birth, Jesse is raised in the Louisiana swamp by powerful witch Lottie Broussard. Hated by her father and shunned by the pack that should be hers, she is forced to run for her life after Lottie’s death.

Searching for his life’s purpose, Aaron LaForge has left his pack and is living on a farm in West Virginia.

When their paths cross in a local bar, he sees it as fate. At first, he only wants to help but quickly realizes she’s his mate. Jesse isn’t ready or willing to trust anyone—let alone a male wolf. But Aaron is as stubborn as he is convincing. As their relationship heats up, the dangers around them mount. Can their love survive their fight to stay alive?

There’s no denying the Mate-Bond!

Jesse is on the run – not only from her father who wants to kill her but also from a group of human hunters. She has lived with a witch for the past twenty-five years, but now the witch is dead and Jesse must survive on her own. She has been on the run for a few months when she meets Aaron, who has bought Bailey’s farm and is living there to find himself. Well, the himself he was looking for was actually Jesse.

As with most paranormal books, the insta-love/mate-bond is there, for Aaron at least. Jesse has a (momentary) harder time accepting it, simply because she doesn’t trust easily! Aaron has to pull back his protective instincts once he realizes that Jesse is an independent wolf who is used to taking care of her own problems. Somehow, they manage to meet in the middle and get their HEA but not without plenty of action and drama as her father and the hunters get closer.

For a while, it did feel as though Aaron is the one doing all the chasing and changing. I knew by that point that Jesse hadn’t had it easy, but it takes two to make a relationship work. She did catch up eventually, after leaning heavily on her martyr complex, so it was all good in the end, but I felt as though I’d worked for it!

A great addition to the series and I’m happy to have read Aaron’s story and also see a small follow-up into Nicholas and Bailey. Recommended by me.

Wolf Claims His Pack by N.J. Walters

Wolf Claims His Pack by N.J. Walters
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Erotic Romance, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Moonflower

Half-breed wolf and blacksmith, Bailey Smith’s life is complicated. She’s alpha of a small pack consisting of her teenage brother and three other kids. Her grandfather—a pure-blood wolf—wants her and her brother dead. And now a confrontation with two human males has brought Child Protective Services to her door. If that wasn’t enough, she’s caught the attention of an unknown, sexy-as-hell, male wolf.

Nicholas LaForge has found his mate and purpose. Being a full-blooded wolf is a strike against him, but she marries him to protect her kids. He’ll use whatever sneaky methods necessary—including sex—to convince her they belong together. First, he has to deal with the threats to his new pack. That’s the easy part. Winning her love and trust might be impossible.

Even an Alpha’s shoulders can bow under constant pressure!

And that is what Bailey Smith has been under – constant pressure. Not only is her grandfather trying to kill her and her brother, but she’s also collected three other ‘strays’ who have had hard lives. She lives under the radar, constantly watching her back. It will take a strong wolf to prove to her that he is the real deal. And maybe Nicholas is just the wolf to do it.

All of the characters were well-rounded and had their own quirks and foibles, which just made me like them even more. I really want to learn more about Henry! You feel the tension throughout all the writing, the feeling of something is going to happen, you just don’t know when. This made it a great read that kept me turning the pages.

A great addition to the series and one I’m glad to have read. I have no hesitation in recommending it to all Paranormal Romance fans.

Wish List by Amanda Pampuro

Wish List by Amanda Pampuro
Publisher: Alien Buddha Press
Genre: Contemporary, Science Fiction, Horror
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

You’re talking with a friend, face to face, smartphone stashed safely in a pocket. You mention a trendy restaurant, a dream vacation, some hot piece of new tech. The next time you go online, you’re hit with ads for all three of those things. You’re amused, bemused, unsettled all at once. Amanda Pampuro taps into that feeling in Wish List, narrated by an earnest, efficient AI hive mind striving to bring happiness to account holder ARgurl16 – one “Complete My Purchase” click at a time. It’s a sweet and creepy little tale – sweet because Pampuro deftly sketches ARgurl16’s ups, downs, loves and hopes through the lens of her buying history, creepy because Wish List makes it clear that computers aren’t the only things being programmed.

For a disturbing little read, Wish List meets expectations. The book is clever and fast-paced. It tells the story from the point-of-view of technology tracking the life story of a woman from her childhood to her death.

The technological protagonist is so honest, and this comes across as so authentic that readers are likely to watch what they do online more carefully. The reader learns about the human protagonist through her online purchases. Assumptions are made as “the next good buy” is constantly pushed on her.

The suspense is well-done, too, because there are hints of the young lady’s death throughout, but mostly right after she makes a specific purchase. What is going to happen to her? Why does she die after buying the specific item?

It’s also clever that her husband and child are brought into the scene based on more online purchases.

This book will make you think. It’s a quick and easy read worth a look.

Not Yeti by Kelly DiPucchio

Not Yeti by Kelly DiPucchio
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Genre: Children’s (0 – 6 y.o.), Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Monsters are loud. And rude. They like to smash things and they always need to be right. But not Yeti. Yeti bakes banana bread and sings to whales and always has a nice word to say. But sometimes you find yourself alone when you’re different. And Yeti doesn’t know there’s a special surprise in store for him.

Anyone can change if they really want to.

It was refreshing to read about a monster who was gentle and loving instead of scary. Yeti spent his days making the world a better place for others, from crocheting sweaters for penguins to protecting baby turtles right after they hatched. I adored this character as soon as I met him and looked forward to seeing if his dreams would come true for him.

The ending felt abrupt and confusing to me, especially since this tale was written for such a young audience. While I soon understood the point the author was attempting to make, it was vague enough that I would have felt compelled to explain it if I’d been reading this to a small child. I found myself wishing that the narrator had been more forthright about the benefits of being different and choosing to be kind even if others don’t make the same choice.

Yeti’s character development was handled beautifully. The reader soon learned that he hadn’t always been a nice monster, and the explanation for how and why he’d changed was well worth reading. What made this even more interesting to me were the unpleasant interactions he had with a couple of other monsters. He could have so easily slipped back into old habits, and yet he stuck to his principles no matter how others tried to provoke him. What a great role model he was for anyone who is trying to fix a bad habit or personality flaw.

Not Yeti was a thought-provoking read.

The New Enchantress by Sunayna Prasad

The New Enchantress by Sunayna Prasad
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Poppy

Cursed by a sorcerer’s hex, Alyssa McCarthy finds herself in a fight she can’t afford to lose, or everything she knows will be lost!
After she finishes her final year of junior high, fourteen-year-old Alyssa faces an uncertain future in more ways than one when a sorcerer casts a hex that leaves her with involuntary magical powers that are too dangerous to remove.

Unable to control her newly gained abilities Alyssa’s end-of-middle-school sleepover ends in disaster when she knocks her friends unconscious when her powers go out of control. If Alyssa can’t learn to master her magic soon, she will be cursed to forget her loved ones and serve as the warlock’s slave for all of eternity.

Her only hope is to focus on controlling her emotions if she is to break the curse. However, the difficulties of adolescence, along with the perils and growing disasters she faces, make Alyssa struggle even more. From putting her friends’ lives at risk to losing their trust, she continues to fear what will become of her if she fails.

Will Alyssa be able to break the hex and become the enchantress that she was meant to be, or will she become enslaved to the sorcerer forever?

A cute middle grade fantasy of sorts that I enjoyed. I say “of sorts” because it takes place in our world, but … there’s magic. Didn’t we all dream of having magic powers as a kid? I know I did. This book shows what might occur if that actually happened.

Alyssa is a typical tween, worried about her grades, hanging out with friends, except right at the starts of the book while she’s trying to raise her grades with a special project, magic inserts itself into the story. And so the crazy ride begins.

Alyssa is believable as a character. She isn’t perfect, she has flaws that you’d expect from a girl her age. There are squabbles with friends, doubts and worries. I liked her. The world-building is good, too, and I can see how this would appeal to the target middle grade audience.

I only had a few quibbles. First, I’m not the target audience, and so there were things that happened that were meant to be a surprise that I could see coming. And, sometimes the mom in me wanted to take hold of the kids and give them a good shake. Also, this book is the third in a series and there were times I felt a little lost. I imagine the whole experience would be richer if you started with book one.

Still, this was a good read. It had a solid plot, believable characters, decent world-building and you understood Alyssa’s motivation throughout. As a reader and reviewer, I certainly can’t complain about that!

Death at Dusbar College by Laura DiNovis Berry

Death at Dusbar College by Laura DiNovis Berry
Publisher: Indies United Publishing House
Genre: Middle Grade (8 – 12 y.o.), Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Welcome to the world of Antyfas where invisible monkeys play and dragons fly! Cristiano has just turned eleven, and his aunt has invited him to visit her at the magical Dusbar College. Wondrous acts of magic and fantastical beasts await him, but can he solve the Grand Magician’s riddle?

What could be better than visiting a magical college?

Some of the best scenes were the ones that showed how Cristiano tried to figure out the mystery that everyone else was also trying to solve. There was a riddle attached to it that was the key to everything. I grinned as he worked through the possible answers to the riddle and hoped he’d be the one to come up with the right answer and win the prize at the end.

I would have liked to see more conflict included in this novella. As fascinated as I was by the world building, there wasn’t much going on with the storyline itself other than the mystery that was soon cleared up. There was so much more the author could have done with these characters and this setting. If she writes a sequel, I hope she’ll give her characters more complex problems to solve as the writing itself was wonderful.

The magic in this universe was delightful. My favorite examples of it were the ones that explained how to do ordinary things like summon a fresh glass of apple juice or tailor a shirt to fit perfectly onto the person wearing it. They weren’t the sort of experiences that I’d ever think of trying to make interesting if I had magical powers, so I was thrilled by how the narrator turned those moments into something unforgettable.

Death at Dusbar College was a playful middle grade mystery that I’d recommend to anyone who also loves modern fantasy.

Amethyst by Rebecca Henry

Amethyst by Rebecca Henry
Publisher: Finch Books
Genre: Young Adult (14 – 18 y.o.), Sci-Fi/Fantasy, LGBTQ, Romance, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

She was sent away because of her feelings for another girl. But what she discovered at her aunts’ lake house was a birthright of magic.

Thirteen-year-old Zinnia is about to turn fourteen when her life is flipped upside down. With her parents on the brink of a divorce, Zinnia is sent to spend the summer with her eccentric great-aunts at their lake house away from her home in Manhattan. Zinnia arrives at her aunts’ massive Victorian house with a heavy heart after a recent falling out with her best friend Charlotte, who betrayed her trust by showing the meanest and most popular girl in school a letter Zinnia wrote confessing her feelings for Charlotte. The aunts rely on practical magic, acceptance and old family friends to help heal their great-niece in more ways than one.

What Zinnia discovers on Ambrosia Hill is more than just her birthright to magic—she meets Billie, a girl who conjures feelings inside Zinnia that she can no longer deny.

What’s better than a summer in the countryside?

It can be hard for kids to understand topics like divorce and marital conflict. Zinnia was a smart teenager, but even she struggled with the idea that her parents were fighting and might not stay together. Some of the most memorable scenes in this novella were the ones that explored her feelings on this topic and tried to explain her parents’ anger with each other in ways that were appropriate for a fourteen-year-old to hear. These aren’t easy things to discuss by any means, but they are quite important. The author did a great job of giving Zinnia a chance to understand her parents a little better than she had before and to learn about how adult relationships sometimes work.

I would have loved to see more character development in this piece. As intrigued as I was by the setting and plot, it was disappointing to meet characters whose personalities weren’t well defined and who didn’t seem to grow very much as a result of their experiences even when they were the main focus of the storyline. There seemed to be plenty of opportunities for them to do so. I simply needed more examples of them reacting to those moments, sharing their personalities in more complex ways, and showing the audience how they’d changed.

The world building was delightful. I loved the way magic was woven into every facet of the characters’ daily lives, from the messages that were left in the arrangements of soggy tea leaves in the bottom of a teacup to the spells the aunts cast to help their visitors reach any number of personal goals. It wasn’t always clear to me where the magic ended and ordinary explanations for certain events began. I reveled in how beautifully ordinary the author made certain scenes feel even if they included moments that can’t be explained with modern science or physics. There is something special about visiting a world that accepts these shades of grey and invites the reader to come up with their own explanations for them.

Amethyst was a playful read.

To Court A Queen by H. L. Burke

To Court A Queen by H. L. Burke
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Chamomile

Devin doesn’t want to get married, but he wants to be a frog even less.

Knight errant Devin takes a shortcut through the woods, only to be captured by fairy forces. The fairy queen has run out of breathing males to fight for her hand, and Devin, while not ideal fairy stock, is breathing—for now.

Telling a vain fairy queen you’d rather not be her one true love is a ticket to life on a lilypad, so the knight agrees to face three challenges to win Queen Agalea’s hand. When a clever servant girl offers to help him navigate the trials in order to stop the constant bloodshed of the courtship ritual, Devin jumps at the chance.

Cat-Elf Sevaine’s only goal in life is to stop Agalea from killing off every male she gets her hands on. When cocky but quick-on-his-feet Devin stumbles into her world, she may finally have a champion who can beat Agalea’s cruel games—if she can resist falling in love with him herself.

With Sevaine’s help, Devin balances “flirting” with his “beloved” and overcoming tasks specifically designed to kill him. But even if he defeats Agalea’s challenges, will happily ever after be possible if he’s fallen for his new partner in survival?

To Court a Queen is a quick read and I loved the original take on Fae and Faeries in this fun story!

I read this one in only a couple sittings and found it to be quite an enjoyable read and a humorous romance! A sweet and lighthearted read, I loved reading the adventures (and misadventures!) of Devin the Knight as he finds himself in quite the conundrum! He finds himself promised to be married to a Fae Queen!

Not at all the ‘short-cut’ he had planned, but it leads into this delightful story and one I found myself actually laughing aloud at more than once! Cute and endearing, I’m glad I got the chance to read this one! I look forward to reading more of H. L. Burke’s stories soon!

Caj’s Angel by Nikki Prince

Caj’s Angel by Nikki Prince
Eternal Lovers Book 1
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Erotic Romance, Paranormal
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Caj was once human and in love with an angel named Mercy. Having committed an unforgiveable sin, Caj is punished by The Maker to take on the sins of others so that those souls can be ushered into heaven by an angel. Caj is finding it hard to reconcile who he used to be with what he has become and feels he should let Mercy go.

But can he?

Mercy sees Caj as she remembered him. She knows that he beats himself up daily for his own sins, let alone having to take on others’ sins as a penance. The only way for them to be together is for him to go before The Maker and make amends or their love will be lost forever.

Will The Maker allow them their happiness or are Caj and Mercy forever doomed to have loved and lost?

Short, but packs a punch.

I picked up this book because I hadn’t read one by Nikki Prince yet. I’m glad I rectified that situation. This one is short, but as I said above, it packs a punch. The writing is good and the idea fantastic. This took me a lunch hour to read, but it was time well used.

Mercy and Caj have so much potential and should be together. I loved the almost fated romance of this story. They have history and they have problems, but it’s relatable. We all have things we wish we could change and end up taking on more strife or stress to make up for that–like Caj. I felt for them both and wanted to see them have a happy ending. That’s how much I got involved in this short story.

If you’re looking for something hot, but sweet and good for a quick read, then this is the one for you.

The Rogue and the Peasant by Amberley Martin

The Rogue and the Peasant by Amberley Martin
Publisher: Caveline Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Young Adult (14 – 18 y.o.)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Chamomile

Everyone knows a girl locked in a tower is supposed to wait for a prince—but that isn’t the destiny this girl has in mind.

Esme’s life has been filled with secrets. Her mother says she’s destined to be a queen, but she won’t say when. Or how. Or who Esme’s father is.

When Esme’s imprisoned by the evil fairy godmother, she only has more questions. Who is the young man guarding her? Why is he so interested in her father’s identity? And can she convince him to help her escape before she’s forced to marry whichever self-absorbed prince with a hero complex turns up to rescue her?

Since his father’s murder, Rory’s life has depended on keeping his identity secret. Working for the fairy godmother seems like a fair trade for his safety, until he’s sent to kidnap a girl who wears his family ring, a girl his father’s ghost is suspiciously quiet about.

Unraveling their connection might do more than save them both from the fairy godmother. It might save the fate of an entire queendom.

But can Esme achieve her destiny when Rory’s trying to avoid his own?

The Rogue and the Peasant is a fun, fairytale adventure that blends Hamlet with Rapunzel to make something completely new.

A fantastic debut from Amberley Martin, The Rogue and the Peasant is a wonderful story of hope, redemption, and growing up!

Neither Rory nor Esme have been dealt the life they would have liked, but despite that, both are determined to make something of it! I loved the positive messages and themes in this one! It’s a wonderful story and blends the beloved Hamlet and Rapunzel stories into something both familiar and completely new in a way I absolutely adored!

I did have a bit of trouble with how to place this one, as some places seem to mark it ‘Adult’ but with its slightly more simplistic style it’s more of a YA/NA crossover, which I loved but feel it’s hard to judge what to expect with a story when it’s listed in both groups. That said, after reading it I’d likely place it more YA-Upper YA and can see readers of both enjoying this one!

I loved meeting Esme and Rory and seeing the fun tributes to the original stories while also remaining original in its own right in this one, and felt the story was well written!