Book Review: “Mystery at Maplemead Castle” by Kitty French

Title: Mystery at Maplemead Castle (Chapelwick Mysteries #2)
Author: Kitty French
Genre: NA/urban fantasy
Date Read: 21/06/2017 – 22/06/2017
Rating: ★★★

Review:

As with the first book in this series, this installment was a lot of fun, though a bit long, and I could have used a bit more focus on the ghosts.

Melody Bittersweet’s second gig with the Girls’ Ghostbusting Agency is to clear Maplemead Castle of ghosts before a film crew shows up the following week. The new owners of the Castle love media attention, so she has to work with her ex, Leo Dark, around again,  as well as put up with the presence of Fletcher Gunn, who is doing a story on her for the local newspaper. Fletcher continues to to seek to discredit Melody’s ghost-seeing abilities, but at the same time, the attraction between them can’t be denied.

If I’m honest, the mystery itself was fairly basic, and could have been solved a lot earlier if some of the characters had just communicated a bit better. However, the way in which the ghosts ended up finally able to move on required the characters to spend time together first, so I guess it is fair that the story was strung out a bit longer. I did still really enjoy the ghost characters, even though their story ended up quite sad.

A lot more of the book was spent on the tricky love-hate relationship between Melody and Fletch. For the most part, the lustful banter was fun and there was a pretty great phone sex scene in there as well. I still felt a little ambivalent about Fletcher, though, and the tragic backstory we learned about in this book felt a little forced and at odds with the snark and innuendo he was throwing around so often.

The other side characters, from Melody’s colleagues Marina and Arthur, to her mother and grandmother, and the owners of Maplemead Castle, were all well drawn and fun. They all have their own distinct personalities which makes for an entertaining ensemble cast. While I don’t feel these books are any kind of literary masterpiece, they are definitely the perfect book for when you need something light and frothy and I will definitely be continuing with the series.


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Book Review: The Dragon in the Garden by Erika Gardner

Title: The Dragon in the Garden (The Watcher Rising Series #1)
Author: Erika Gardner
Genre: NA/Fantasy
Date Read: 10/09/2016 – 16/09/2016
Rating: ★★★

Review:

This book had the potential to get very messy, as it had a lot going on. Fortunately, it managed to never fall off the rails.

Siobhan has been able to see through lies and illusions all her life. When she was five, she had a conversation with a dragon statue in her grandmother’s garnde. When she inherits the house after her grandmother’s death, she discovers the reason for these powers, that she has been chosen to decide the fate of the world in a battle between good and ultimate evil.

The main battle that is going on in this book is between dragons and Lucifer and his band of fallen angels. There is also another group of angels, the Two Hundred, who have fallen for different reasons but fight on the side of good. On top of that, the Fey are also involved, and in the big battle at the climax of the book, many other supernatural creatures also converge to take sides in the battle for Earth. However, it kind of made sense, as many of these creatures were part of myths that pre-date Christianity, and it was Those Who Came Before against the Angels of Hell.

Siobhan was a well-drawn character, though sometimes she did go on a bit about her fate as the Chosen One (I know, I’d probably go on about it, too, but it gets repetitive for a reader). Apart from her, there were four central characters that featured: Turiel, one of the Two Hundred, who acted as both mentor and love interest, Nefta, a Valkyrie, Alex, Siobhan’s brother (I liked him, he was a lot of fun but with a typical brotherly protective streak), and Tim, Siobhan’s exboyfriend, who was a bit entitled at times, but grew on me by the end.

The plot was well-paced for the most part, but it did take a little while to get going. With so many parties involved in the conflict, there was a fair bit of explaining to be done, but mostly this was explained through dialogue with Turiel, and managed to avoid info-dumping for the most part.  Speaking of Turiel, I also thought his relationship with Siobhan progressed a bit too quickly; they had only known each other for a few days. This is fine, I guess, but I prefer a slow-burn romance myself.

While there is still story to be told, I have to admit that when I got to the end, I didn’t feel especially compelled to add any follow-up books to my TBR. This was an enjoyable read, but it was enough on its own.


(Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for a review)

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“Growing up as a Bittersweet, I’ve come to rely on a different set of life skills to most girls.” // Review of “Melody Bittersweet and the Girls’ Ghostbusting Agency” by Kitty French

Title: Melody Bittersweet and the Girls’ Ghostbusting Agency
Author: Kitty French
Genre: NA/urban fantasy
Date Read: 22/07/2016 – 26/07/2016
Rating: ★★★

Review:

melodybittersweetgirlsghostbustingagencycoerI love the cover of this book and it was definitely a cute story. However, there were a few things that prevented it from getting a higher rating.

Melody Bittersweet comes from a family of psychics, and when she opens the Girls’ Ghostbusting Agency with her best friend and young man called Art who came recommended by the ghost of his dead father, their first case pops up nearly straight away. They need to rid an old house of its three ghost inhabitants, but to do that, they would need to solve a 100-year-old murder.

Melody and her two assistants are great characters. Melody’s best friend Marina is loud and outspoken, while Art is painfully shy and only just finding his feet. Melody sits somewhere in the middle of these two, and the three of them make a great team.

The mystery was my favourite part of this novel, though it honestly wasn’t a very complicated one. I did enjoy watching Melody tease out details of the family from the three ghosts, Jasper, Lloyd and Isaac, all three of whom had individual, well-established personalities along with a long family history.

What I didn’t enjoy so much was the romance element, as I didn’t like either of Melody’s love interests. Both Leo Dark, a rival psychic and also Melody’s ex, and Fletcher Gunn (I’m going from memory here, but I think that was his name), a skeptical reporter determined to expose both the Bittersweets and Leo Dark as frauds, are Class A Alpha Male douchebags. Both of them were rude and unlikable, and only redeemed themselves a little by assisting Melody with the case towards the end. To be fair, Fletcher was fully open about the fact that he was in lust with Melody rather than in love, but in a book calling itself a romantic comedy, I expect some proper romance, dammit!

This is a cute series opener, and I recommend if you are in the mood for some light-hearted urban fantasy. I will probably check out the next book in the series when it comes out, but I won’t be waiting with baited breath for it.


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Book Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: YA fantasy
Date Read: 23/12/2015 – 26/12/2015
Rating: ★★★☆

Review:

ravenboyscoverThis was a tricky book for me to rate, and I wavered between three and four, before deciding to split the difference. It was a very easy read, and didn’t take me long to get through, but it did feel like I was reading a lot of set-up for future books.

Blue Sargent comes from a family of psychics, though she has no psychic ability herself. When she sees the spirit of a boy named Gansey on St Mark’s Eve, it sets into motion an association with a group of boys from the local private boy’s school, and a search for the grave of Owen Glendower, a Welsh King that Gansey believes is buried in America.

The characters are all have very individual personalities. Gansey is wealthy and privileged and puts his foot in his mouth a lot because of that; Ronan has a lot of baggage and a lot of secrets; Adam comes from an abusive household and resents the privilege around him; and Noah, the quiet observer. Blue’s character is primarily linked to her psychic family; she was a fairly standard teenage girl character, and something of a means to an end-type character (while not psychic herself, she can amplify psychic energy for others).

While there was some interesting world-building based on the idea of magical ley lines across the world, it was sometimes a bit patchy. Big revelations never really felt particularly huge, or they were easy to predict.

Overall, it was an interesting enough read that I stayed up quite late to finish it, and I actually am still interested enough to continue with the series, but this wasn’t quite exciting enough to be plot-driven, and the characters weren’t quite stand-out enough to carry it as a character-driven one.

 

 

Book Review: Bound by Kate Sparkes

Title: Bound
Author: Kate Sparkes
Genre:
YA/Fantasy
Format: ebook. For a full list of links to the book, visit this post on Kate’s blog
Date Read: 25/06/2014 – 02/07/2014
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

bound_promoDisclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Now that that’s out of the way, I want to say upfront, the reason that this book doesn’t get five stars from me is not necessarily that I don’t think it deserves it, but simply because there are certain aspects of it that are quite popular in this genre and no doubt appeal to a lot of people, but just never quite work for me. I’ll go more into that as this review goes on.

Bound is set in the kingdom of Darmid, where magic is banned, and magic hunters will kill anyone who exhibits magical ability without a second thought. Their neighbours over the mountains use magic quite happily, and are at home with the company of other species such as dragons, griffons and merfolk, and that just makes those from Darmid more suspicious of them. When Rowan, a young woman from Darmid with a love of fairytales and a life-long plague of awful headaches, unintentionally saves the life of Aren, one of her country’s biggest enemies, everything she’s ever known is called into question and she begins to learn that there’s much more to her than she realises.

I really enjoyed the way Kate Sparkes turned some well-used fantasy tropes on their heads, particularly regarding her female characters. They were not required to be pure, medieval maidens (even strong ones), and the fact that Rowan had not yet slept with the man she was betrothed to was considered even a little odd.

Aren was a a rather typical YA hero, and to be honest, I was far more interested in Rowan’s chapters than his (the novel is written in first person split narrative). However, this is one of the aspects I mentioned earlier that I know is really popular in YA fiction, and I know the YA crowd will probably really love him. He’s just not my type. I felt his change of heart and subsequent feelings for Rowan developed a little quickly, but it’s a bit of a catch-22, since without that, there would be no plot. I did, however, enjoy learning about Aren’s magic, and how magic works in his kingdom. Kate has clearly done a lot of work on her world-building.

Bound ends with a nice set-up for Book 2. There is still plenty that Rowan needs to learn, plenty of danger still lurking, and some interesting new characters we don’t know too much about. Kate is certainly a talented writer and I look forward to reading more! 😀