Sunday, October 31, 2021

October Flew by and I'm Still Resisting Winter Holiday Reads--Hanging on by a Thread

Well darn it all! Here it is October 31st and I failed at my reading goal this month. I've got four books started and just couldn't finish them, so I'll continue working on them in November. Honestly this month flew by so quickly my head is spinning just a bit. 

I've already started collecting my holiday reads and I'm trying my very best not to start them just yet. It helps if I put them on the bottom of my TBR pile so I can't see them. Thanksgiving Day I'm breaking out the holiday books wahoo! 

Until then, I have a few that I will be diving into this month:

I'm terribly sad this is the last book in this series. It seriously is one of my favorite series, and Karen White is one of my favorite authors. Charleston, restless spirits, and a marriage in trouble. Will there be a happy ending? 

A memoir from food writer Hannah Howard.

Yes, still reading about witches! A remote Scottish island, a weird lighthouse, and a missing sister who sudden appears 20 years later--the exact same age as when she disappeared. Gothic thriller!

I loved Samantha Verant's first novel about Sophie and she's back with more adventures as Sophie has a chance to become even more famous as a chef--if only she can keep a few secrets from being revealed. If you're a foodie fan, this is the book for you! 

I'm finally taking some time off in early November so I will have a chance to read and relax. Once I'm back I'll be posting reviews. Until then, take care and enjoy the changing seasons. 

--The Bookalicious Babe

**“As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases made through links on this site.**

Thursday, October 28, 2021

The Ex-Hex by Erin Sterling


First off, a big thanks to HarperCollins and Avon for a copy of this book. I entered a giveaway and won! This was a fast read and I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially just a few days before Halloween. 

Vivienne Jones lives in the small Georgia town of Graves Glen with her Aunt Elaine and cousin Gwyn. They are all witches. Elaine and Gwyn even own and operate a "witchy" store that keeps them busy with tourists. They are all good witches, of course, and the most Vivienne has done with her magical ability is reheat her tea and set a spell on her student's papers to alert her to any that are plagiarized. She's a professor of history at Penhallow College, a unique place where magic is taught as well as normal college subjects. 

It's the anniversary of the founding of Graves Glen, and Rhys Penhallow of Wales has been ordered by his father to return to Graves Glen to recharge the ley lines that keep the magic flowing peacefully around town. It's also the place where, nine years before, Rhys met and has an intense summer of love with Vivienne. Upon returning to Wales, a broken hearted (and a little tipsy) Vivienne placed a curse on Rhys. 

As her Aunt always says, never mix witchcraft with vodka. 

Rhys returns, and it's one thing after another; near misses, close calls, you name it. For someone like Rhys who is a warlock and never has any issues, it's a bit strange. And when he takes Vivienne to help him recharge the ley lines, disaster strikes-the curse is let lose in the ley lines, traveling all the way to Graves Glen and starting up some crazy, weird off-kilter magic. 

Now it's up to Rhys and Vivienne to figure out how to reverse the curse before Halloween, or the town and possibly Rhys are doomed. 

Of course, through all of this, Rhys and Vivienne can't keep their hands off each other. If Rhys survives the curse reversal, will he return to Wales, breaking Vivienne's heart again?

This was a fun read, with characters I absolutely enjoyed. I'd love to return to Graves Glen for more stories. I kind of hate to say goodbye to this novel, because it just hit me at the right moment and I gobbled it up. I really, really hope Rhys' brothers have their own stories to tell, along with Gwyn and Elaine. 

4/6 for a delightful romance filled with magic, a curse gone very wrong, and a second chance at love. 

Available in hardcover, paperback, ebook, and audio. 

**“As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases made through links on this site.**

Sunday, October 24, 2021

The Moon, the Stars, and Madame Burova by Ruth Hogan


In keeping with my magical, mysterious reads for October, I grabbed Ruth Hogan's latest novel featuring a fortune telling woman who keeps everyone's secrets, no matter what. 

This story bounces back and forth between present day and 1973 in the English seaside town of Brighton. Imelda Burova is young and full of life. She's taking over her mother's fortune telling business on the pier, and she's very, very good at it. Imelda spends her whole life reading fortunes, and after decades of business, she decides its time to retire. 

Only retirement and Imelda just don't quite go together. As a keeper of promises and secrets, Imelda has one whopper of a secret she just can't share. She can, however, do some digging and make contact with the woman who was left as an infant in front of Imelda's storefront on the pier. 

Enter Billie, who has just sold her parent's home and laid her father to rest. Newly divorced and without a job, she is at a crossroads in life. Two letters turn her life upside down. One is from her father, telling her she was adopted, and the second is from Imelda, inviting her to tea in Brighton so she can talk to Billie. Shocked her parents never told her she was adopted, Billie decides that yes, she does want to know where she came from, and maybe Madam Burova has some of the answers she is seeking. 

As Billie and Imelda meet and get to know each other, Billie has more questions than answers. The cast of characters in Brighton are all charming, and all have ties to Imelda's past, and ties to what was once a wildly popular entertainment venue, the Larkin Holiday Park. Are Billie's parents entertainers from the park? 

This was a charming story full of characters who all made some great and not so great choices in their youth. Now, they all have chances to try again. Billie has a chance to start completely over in life; will she remain in Brighton or return to London? Will Imelda finally get the answers her broken heart needs after almost fifty years of heartache? 

This is a great read for an afternoon in front of the fireplace, sipping tea. It took me a bit to click into the story; I confess I was a bit confused at the beginning--mostly because I stopped and started a lot. But once I sat down and read for a bit, it all clicked and I was curious how everything would play out. 

Rating: 3/6 for a charming novel about second chances, secrets, and love. 

Available in paperback, ebook, and audio. 

**“As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases made through links on this site.**

Sunday, October 17, 2021

The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco


I picked up a few creepy tales from B&N a few weeks ago and finally managed to read one of them. I'll confess I've been starting books, then picking up another one, over and over this month so far and not making progress on too many of them. Super restless reading-wise this month. However, I stuck with this and after a few "I'm not so sure about this one" moments, it clicked and wow, this was a great read. Just enough spooky to make you sit up and take notice, but not so much that you can't sleep at night. At least, for me it wasn't so scary. 

This novel is actually the first in a series about Okiku, a three hundred-year old spirit of a young woman who was brutally murdered in Japan. She was tortured, then tossed down a well, breaking her neck. She died upside down. So now, she spends a lot of time upside down, hanging from ceilings. She can look pretty gruesome, too. But sometimes she reverts back to what she looked like as a servant girl all those years ago. Her mission is to seek and destroy (yes, kill) people who murder children. She's pretty brutal about it, too. These serial killers carry the souls of those children with them--literally these souls are chained to these people (who are completely unaware of them). But Okiku can see them, and the only way to free those poor souls is to kill the horrible person who keeps them trapped. 

So, Okiku has been doing this for hundreds of years. Now she's taken an interest in Tark, a young teen boy who moves to a new community with his father. Tark has something strange about him--he has black tattoos covering his arms, chest and back. These tattoos look like they move, which is a bit freaky. Tark's mother gave those tattoos to him when he was five years old, and they are a symbol of something truly horrible living in Tark and trying to get out. Okiku sees what that horrible creature is, and is strong enough to defend Tark against it, but a final showdown can only come about if Tark and his father travel to a special shrine in Japan and undergo a dangerous ritual. 

Tark's cousin Callie can see Okiku, too. Freaked out a bit by her, but eventually gets a little more comfortable once she understands Okiku is there to protect Tark. Callie joins Tark in Japan and together they uncover the story of Okiku and the horrible spirit that lives inside Tark and is desperate to be free and kill, kill, kill. 

Sounds dark, right? It is actually a really well written story, full of Japanese mysticism, ritual, and legends. Fascinating look at how other cultures deal with death, spirits, and the afterworld. Okiku is even referenced as the inspiration for the movie The Ring. Her story continues in the next novel: The Suffering

This novel was published in 2015, so it's not new. Wow, it really was a gripping read. If you're easily queasy, don't read it. It's not super gory, but it has some moments. I'd read more of Rin Chupeco's novels any day. 

Rating: 5/6 for a truly creepy read, based in Japanese folklore and mysticism. Took me a bit to get into it, but BAM! it suddenly became unputdownable and I got completely sucked into it. 

Available in paperback, ebook, and audio.

**“As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases made through links on this site.**

Sunday, October 10, 2021

The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina by Zoraida Cordova


The Montoya family is an interesting group of people; their matriarch Orquidea Divina is especially interesting and different. She's quite magical, too. Appearing in Four Winds decades before as a very young woman, she created an oasis out of nothing, leaving the townspeople to whisper about her and send the sheriff out on occasion to try to get her to leave. 

However, Orquidea stayed. She never left her little oasis, where food was always plentiful, the weather was beautiful, and there was a definite other-worldliness about it. 

Now Orquidea is calling her children and grandchildren back to Four Winds because she is dying and it's time to leave each of them an inheritance. When her family arrives, they are shocked to see Orquidea is not only dying, but is slowly transforming into a tree. Questions abound!

Now it's seven years later, and two of her grandchildren and one great-grandchild have gifts that are definitely odd: Rey, Marimar, and Rhiannon all have flowers growing out of their flesh. None of them understand why or what the flowers mean. 

Soon it becomes clear something is stalking the Montoya family, and it wants to destroy them. Seeking to figure out what is killing family members, they travel to Ecuador, Orquidea's home, to discover where her story began and to uncover the truth before they are all destroyed. 

Wow. This was one heck of a great read. Magic is everywhere in this story, and toss in a circus with a mysterious connection to Orquidea and you've got quite an interesting tale of bad decisions, promises made and broken, and heartbreak that never goes away. Revenge weaves its way through Orquidea's life story, and a big theme is the damage done to children by parents who do not love or care for them. Those children grow up to inflict damage on themselves and others, because of their rage, sorrow, and unanswered questions. 

I loved the mix of legends and magic, folklore and family love and connections. The story goes back and forth between present day (7 years after Orquidea transforms) and decades before, slowly revealing her journey and the price she paid for freedom. It all culminates in a showdown between the evil that stalks the family, and the gifts Orquidea gave her grandchildren. 

If you're looking for books with magic, cultural lore and otherworldliness, you'll enjoy this very much. The cover is just gorgeous. 

Rating: 5/6 for a tale of one woman's choices that create a magic safe place for family that is threatened by an evil that seeks revenge and will stop at nothing to destroy everything. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Witch Please (Fix-It Witches #1) by Ann Aguirre


If you'd like some spice with your romance, pick this book up, the first in the Fix-It Witches series.  Hot hot hot! 

Danica Waterhouse lives with her cousin Clem in the small town of St. Claire, Illinois. They own a repair shop--and use their magical witch gifts to fix anything from toasters on the fritz to refrigerators. The latest generation of talented, magical witches from the Waterhouse family, they are both looking for love. Unfortunately, their grandmother is an interfering busy-body and insists if they fall for a "mundane" (non-witchy person) they will lose their magic forever. Danica's mother married a mundane and Grandmother claims her magic is diluted because of it, and her mother completely lost hers as a result. 

Titus runs a local bakery with his sister Maya. He's known around town as the CinnaMan because not only does he make the most divine cinnamon rolls, but he's one gooood looking man. Titus has never been able to have a successful relationship--they always end after a few months, and he can't figure out why. Until he meets Danica, and sparks fly. BIG sparks. These two would make butter melt in seconds, their chemistry is so sizzling hot. 

Titus is a mundane, however. Danica's cousin and grandmother put the pressure on her to end her flirtation with Titus and find a witchy match. Her grandmother even threatens to hex Titus if she doesn't do her bidding. Can Danica follow her heart and have a happy ending? Will she really lose her magic if she decides Titus is worth it?

Wonky magic spells, electronics on the fritz--Danica's magic is definitely not all working as it always does. But she just can't stay away from Titus. And Titus is head  over heels pretty quickly, too. Has CinnaMan finally found his one and only?

This novel has plenty of heart and zippy do dah a heck of a lot of chemistry and steamy scenes between Titus and Danica. I enjoyed getting to know the players in this novel: Maya, Titus' sister; Clem, Danica's cousin, and other friends and family. The magic of the witches is gentle and not over the top. The best part: there's a second book coming out in 2022 which focuses on Clem and her dangerous romance with an honest to God modern witch hunter. Their story begins in this novel, so I am intrigued to read their story. It's way more complicated than Titus and Danica, so I'm eager to see how it all plays out. 

Rating: 4/6. If you want a modern romance with a lot of heart, a heart-tugger of a hero, and a bit of magic tossed in, grab this one. It does have some explicit sex and there are same-sex relationships and talk of bi-sexuality. 

Available in paperback, ebook, and audio.

Second in the series is out in April, 2022: