Avoiding the Abyss by A.C. Ward

Too much abuse

This book starts straight off the bat with Aubrey getting a beating by her mother. It is given under the guise of “training”, because Aubrey is a bad fighter, but it is very clear that her mother detests her. Yet, Aubrey remains throughout her staunch defender.

Others amongst the rebels pity her, but do very little to defend her, because her mother is the “hero”, the one who rules the rebels and is renowned as the best fighter.

Everything is turned on its head when she is captured by government, yet not at all in the ways that she expects. She keeps on supporting her mother, even secretly, right up to the last. Even when she does find out the truth, can she keep supporting someone who her entire life has seen her as useless until it’s discovered she has powers?

The ending, or perhaps more late middle to end, were the only redeeming parts of this book. The way the abuse is treated just appalled me that I nearly stopped reading after the opening scene. The latter parts made the universe interesting, enough that I want to continue the series, but I can’t ignore that beginning.

Final rating: ★★★☆☆ – Sort of liked/OK.

*I received a free digital ARC via NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Catching a Warlock by Laura Greenwood

Great finale

Yes, seriously, what a great ending to this mini spin-off from Mona’s story! And I will say again that it’s great that the books run in tandem with each other!

Daphne has been suffering from some side effects to the spell that they performed, but luckily one of her soon-to-be boyfriends is on hand to give a bit of assistance in controlling it. Plus problems with this damned jealous vampire are resolved – her attempts to ruin Daphne’s reputation backfired on her big time, courtesy of Daphne’s new-found talent (aka spell).

In the end, it appears that both Daphne as well as Mona have boy trouble alongside cat trouble…!

Final rating: ★★★★☆ – Really liked.

*I received a free digital ARC via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.*

Catching a Wizard by Laura Greenwood

Yet more paranormal drama

I was firstly so happy to see that the Grimalkin Academy books run parallel to each other, as it makes it so much easier to follow (I’ve heard that timelines and planning help a lot!). So there are no spoilers in Mona’s story, as long as you have also been keeping up to date with the progress on that side, too. Any spoilers to be found are minor, anyway, so it shouldn’t spoil reading either way.

Anyway, we are here about Daphne, who is struggling with a troublesome vampire and two warlocks. Suddenly she’s not only caught in the middle of three men after her attention (well, the vampire needs some convincing), but also has to contend with her brother’s continued pressure to find this damned spell!

And, typical for this gang, things aren’t going to go quite as planned…

Final rating: ★★★★☆ – Really liked

*I received a free digital ARC via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.*

Catching a Vampire by Laura Greenwood

The other side of the story

It was seriously great fun reading into Daphne’s story, which we got glimpses of during her escapades with Mona. Book one flows alongside of book one of the Grimalkin Academy: Kittens series, without any heavy spoilers on other side. I wasn’t too sure at first if it would work, as I much prefer to read multiple-character stories all in one book, but being as these are short stories, I guess that it does work, really.

And, as with Mona’s story, this is a sex-free slow-burn reverse harem. Although in this story she only has eyes for one, which proves to be a problem considering the one she’s interested in actually is the one she’s supposed to be bribing to help them find the family spell. Add to that a malicious betrothed of the said love interest, whether he’s interested in keeping to his parents set up or not, and things start to get a little hairy.

At this academy, things are never quite as expected.

Final rating: ★★★★☆ – Really liked

*I received a free digital ARC via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.*

Second Time’s a Curse by Laura Greenwood

Even more magical kittens!

Well, yes, what should we expect from a cursed witch who produces kittens with every spell? More kittens, of course! Wow, I’m not really sure how’s she’s going to have space for all of them if this keeps on happening!

Mona is slowly coming to terms with the fact that she has more than one love interest, partly buoyed by her best friend (and what doesn’t help is that one of the love interests happen to be said best friend’s twin brother…). Yet she has other things on her mind, namely this damned curse! Yet, despite the curse, she doesn’t want to do anything that might jeopardise the lives of her kittens, even if she’s frustrated that she keeps on producing them. I mean, they’re all seriously cute and all that, but a dorm room is only so big!

So, her friends pool together to try and find a fix for this wretched curse, in a less-than-legal manner, which, of course, doesn’t quite go to plan, or solve the problem of the curse itself.

Things not quite going to plan appears to be the name of the game, as serious trouble falls upon them once again. Well, there’s no “I told you so” in there, but there appears to be no clean way out of things this time.

Just as fun as the first book, with just as much cuteness, awkwardness, and trouble, this series is turning out to be fantastic so far! I just wish that the characters could see past the end of their noses sometimes…

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

First Time’s a Charm by Laura Greenwood

Lots of squee moments!!

The basis of my review for this book can probably be summarised so:

1. Cute kittens!!
2. Harry Potter references!!!
3. MORE cute kittens!!1! Squeeeee!!!11!!

OK, ahem, I’ll calm down a bit now, and try to write my thoughts in a more orderly manner.

This is the first book in a new series, which is roughly based in the broader Paranormal Council Universe. Of course, the whole paranormal school/college/university trope has been used a lot, but I’m lucky to not have read too much of it (aside from Harry Potter, but this was quite gleefully filled with HP references. And, of course, those cute kittens). Ooops, got a bit distracted again but, for me personally, this does bring something new to the table.

We have a young, eighteen-year-old witch, who has been relatively brilliant at magic, until one day, she isn’t. She’s been cursed to reproduce kittens with every spell. Except, she is completely clueless as to what’s going on with her magic. But, despite not really being a cat lover, falls completely in love with these balls of fur that keep appearing with every spell.

You have the class bitch, a “harem” of potential boyfriends, and a brilliant and quirky best friend. Plus, yes, those cute kittens…! Tell me – what more could you ask for?!

A nice, good, fun read, with plenty of mishaps and shenanigans. Considering the language used, it fits quite easily into the young-adult genre, yet I’m not so sure the sequels will be, if our young witch is going to get her men…!

Final rating: ★★★★★ – Loved it/couldn’t put it down

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