Reigning Magicks by Candace Osmond and J.J. King

An interesting start to the series

Front cover

This is an alternative take on the time-travel romance (from what I’m aware of and have read, anyway), where the female of the pair magically travels into the future instead of the past, in order to find her true love.

Well, OK, it is somewhat more complicated than that, but that is at least part of the basic principle behind the story.

Ashlynn searches for the local seer in order to find a way to not be forced to marry a Warlord from another clan. She is granted one wish, which unexpectedly catapults her into the future. Does she find a way to return to her family, after her sister has taken her place in the union, or does she choose to stay and create her own path?

I was a bit sceptical of the storyline at first, but it rounded off nicely. Am looking forward to the next book!

Final rating: ★★★★☆ – Really liked

*I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.*

Four Bodies in Space by Luna Harlow

Agatha Christy in Space

This book started full of a truckload of well-worn clichés, making it read like Agatha Christy in space. The first murder, particularly. The first two chapters were just cringe worthy with their typical set up. But, instead of the infamous Hercule Poirot appearing to analyse the scene, we have the Spock-like Solaris.

Luckily this character is partly what eventually made the book interesting. Once I got past all of the clichés bouncing from each wall, there was a reasonable story there waiting, with a handful of well-written characters, in between further clichés. It was enough for me to eventually ignore the continuing clichés, and not cringe too much at the ending, to actually enjoy the story.

Solaris is analytical, but has a curiosity that makes her occasionally dance across the line towards insubordination. Good job that others find her intriguing enough to let her misdemeanours pass, especially considering that she appears to lead them in the right direction towards solving the puzzle.

This Poirot-Star Trek cross is good fun, if you can cope with all the clichés (I hope my continued mention of clichés doesn’t turn into a cliché). There’s enough there that I’d definitely be happy to continue the series.

Final rating: ★★★★☆ – Really liked

*I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Grimm’s Dweller: The Complete Trilogy by Arizona Tape

Magical help for Herr Grimm

This story focuses around the stories of Wilhelm Grimm, with a twist – in this version, he receives magical help from a being known as a “Dweller”, a being that inhabits story universes.

I’m not going to review each part separately, as each passes quickly, but I will comment on them.

The first part is dedicated to how Grisella met Will and their relationship at the beginning, creating the stories together, even though she isn’t supposed to get involved in the actual creating of the universes.

The second part involves Grisella watching from a distance, after Will has fallen in love with and married someone else, and the children he has. But she still keeps an eye on his universes, trying to hold onto his memory by dwelling within them as much as she can.

The third part is dedicated to the end of Will’s life, his final stories, and the reuniting of the story companions. It’s this third part that is the best.

The first two parts barely held my attention. They lacked something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. The second part started to improve, with more depth to the story about stories. But it was the third part that really brought it all together. The reason for this is simple – emotion. Suddenly we’re faced with strong emotion as Will comes to the end of his life. How each deal with this is a heartbreaking journey with only one outcome. Suddenly my investment in the story intensified as the emotions did; there was finally a connection for me.

All stories have to end, but Grisella guards the universes so they don’t.

If the story parts had continued on in the slower manner, then this would have received a lower rating. But, purely for that ending, I have to bring it up.

Final rating: ★★★★☆ – Really liked

*I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.*

Rats: Tori (complete) by Laura Greenwood

Fun Steampunk adventures

This book is all three stories in one, so I will review each individual story below.

Ruler of Rats

The series starts us off with Tori and her three husbands looking to take over the “Rats” – the people so low of class that anyone of actual class pretends that they don’t exist. They have no official status or place in society at all. But, they have their own society, of sorts, which has traditionally been organised to benefit whoever is in charge, but Tori wishes to change that. But, in order to take over the Rats, she has to perform a task – steal a well-guarded necklace.

This was a nice, fun adventure, but what I found it lacked was the purpose of the mission; this item obviously has some value, so what is its story?

The book does end with a time jump, but it doesn’t disturb the continuation of the story in the following book.

Rating: ★★★★☆ – Really liked

Collector of Rats

In this second adventure, Tori decides to call in a debt. But, considering how the story has gone so far, it won’t be easy at all. She needs all her wits about her to complete the task, along with the assistance of her beloved husbands. Luckily the target doesn’t know about her relationship status, so they are able to play their difficult mark together.

This, for me, was the least interesting of the three stories. There was minimal adventure, with the main part of the story being the encounter with the “villain”.

This story also ends with a time jump, which left me to start wondering about what their ages must be at this point.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ – Sort of liked/OK

Yuletide of Rats

This, I must admit, was the best of the three stories, most prominently for attacking such a complicated subject. It had a “nice” twist in it, with a historical reveal that actually linked back to one of Tori’s husbands. In fact, two of her husbands were affected by the situation. It is hard to say anymore without actually revealing any spoilers!

This also ended with yet another time jump so, if I’m assuming they’re still around eighteen when they start, it would make them in their late forties by the end of this story. Not such spring chickens anymore!

Oh, and there was a sort of reference to the necklace from the first book, but it was a little bit dismissive, really. In the end, there was no mystery?! That was probably the most disappointing part of it all.

Rating: ★★★★☆ – Really liked

All stories considered, there was some fun to be had across their broad spectrum. With all the usual Steampunk accessories, like steam cars and airships, as well as some steam pistols (I must admit, I still prefer flintlocks). It gave a flirty nod to the genre, rather than bringing flesh blood to it.

And another thing to note, there is a surprising lack of children about. Now, no sex is fine, as you can have plenty of fun in a book without it, making this more a young-adult story, but it did feel a little like there was something else missing.

Final rating (rounded up): ★★★★☆ – Really liked

Beyond the Northern Lights by Arizona Tape

A boy meets girl story with a twist

The boy is a terminally-ill human; the girl is an alien light being. Both are alone and lonely, until they meet by chance under the Northern Lights.

This I found slow to get in to, with the first couple of chapters with Ben and Y’me talking to themselves not really pulling me in. I had to wait until the middle of the book before it actually became interesting, when Ben and Y’me finally meet and start talking to each other.

The funniest part for me was their discussion about “silly human behaviour”, like (paraphrased), ‘why does paper beat rock?’ ‘It just does…’ And, my favourite one, ‘Isn’t ketchup technically a fruit smoothie?’ Haha!

Up until that point, I wasn’t so impressed with the story, but as it started to progress from there on, it slowly warmed to me. Then, the ending – it was probably one of the most profound things I’ve read in a long while. The last paragraph just took my breath away and gave the story such wonderful roundedness.

It’s a story that requires some patience, but once you’re in there, you will be hooked.

Final rating: ★★★★☆ – Really liked

*I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.*