Book Review: “Cupcakes, Trinkets and Other Deadly Magic” by Meghan Ciana Doidge

Title: Cupcakes, Trinkets and Other Deadly Magic (Dowsers #1)
Author: Meghan Ciana Doidge
Genre: Urban fantasy/cosy mystery
Intended audience: Adult
Date Read: 01/01/2022 – 02/01/2022


I’m not having a lot of luck with urban fantasies lately. Anyone who knows me I will snap up anything that features both baking and magic, but this one really needed a good edit to make it stand out.

There were a lot of things that weren’t really explained very well, and other times where the main character explains too much at a bad time, halting the plot and making the reader forget what was actually happening. Several times, the narration would say something like “Now that I knew how to…” or “so that was why…” and I had no idea where the revelation had come from.

They mystery itself was actually decent enough. I didn’t mind reading the ins and outs of the characters pursuing their leads. The villain was fairly obvious but when it came down to it, I couldn’t quite understand their reasoning, and I’m still not sure what actually transpired at the end. Maybe that’s explained in later books, but I’m not interested enough to continue the series.

I think my favourite character was the vampire Kett. He was the one who seemed to have the most interesting personality, and who seemed like the most fully-formed of the side characters. While there were more werewolves on the scene than vampires, the most interesting one of them ends up dead early on and I never particularly warmed to any of the others.

One more thing to note: a key element of the story is that Jade thought she was half-human, half-witch, but the human aspect may not be correct (she never knew her father). When she finally does get her mother and grandmother to open up at the end of the book, they tell her her father was someone her mother hooked up with while backpacking through Australia and taking part in an “aboriginal fertility ceremony”. Yikes. I’m not an Indigenous Australian, but I would still encourage this Canadian author to not throw around terms like that in the name of humour or a quirky plot point.

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#AusReads Book Review: “Witchnapped in Westerham” by Dionne Lister

Title: Witchnapped in Westerham (Paranormal Investigation Bureau #1)
Author: Dionne Lister
Genre: Urban fantasy/cosy mystery
Intended audience: Adult
Date Read: 10/10/2022 – 16/10/2022


Honestly? If I hadn’t been reading this for a readathon I’m already behind on, I don’t know that I would have finished it.

I will say one thing – I liked the concept of Lily being able to see the past or the future through her photography. That was cool and I liked that it was tied in with her passion.

The characters were annoying and for so long it felt like little was happening. Some character motivations seemed non-existent – such as Angelica making really snooty, snide comments one moment and then swearing that Lily can trust her the next?

Also I had to go back to the book and look up Angelica’s name because I had entirely forgotten, despite the fact that I finished reading half an hour ago. Oops.

Lily is also pretty self-absorbed. I get that her brother’s missing and she’s worried – but literally risking getting shot because she wants a cup of coffee and instant isn’t good enough? I appreciated she got dressed down for that and then I was kind of annoyed when one of the other characters went and got her a coffee anyway.

The villain was so over the top and so cartoonish – not to mention obvious. It wasn’t even that it was obvious to the reader and not to the characters – Lily had accurately figured it out by the halfway mark – she just needed proof, and apart from a couple of setbacks, gets it pretty easily.

Oof. I didn’t intend to get so ranty in this review. I will say that I didn’t realise how established this series was and I only downloaded the book because it was free. I didn’t enjoy it enough to continue with the rest of the books.

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Mini Book Reviews: Cookies and Curses by Rosie Pease, There She Goes by Lynne Shelby, The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

Sometimes I don’t really have a lot to say about a book. It doesn’t really warrant a full-length review. And while I’m sure the authors appreciate the Goodreads and Amazon reviews, I was trying to think of a way to get the word out to my blog followers, too.

This morning it occurred to me to incorporate a few reviews into one post. Duh. So here are three romances I’ve read recently and a few thoughts about each.

Cookies and Curses

by Rosie Pease
(Matchmaking Grimoire #1)

Argh, this book made me crave baked sweets! So many mouth-watering descriptions! I have to admit, the reason I picked this up is because I can never go past books that combine witches with baking. Which is a really niche interest but there seems to be a reasonable amount of it!

I really enjoyed the idea of matchmaking being a witchy skill and seeing how the ghosts interfered with that.

I loved Ken and Ivy, and really appreciated that when Joanie was first embarking on dating Ken, that the book delved into the complexities of dating someone who already has kids.

I did feel like the mystery dragged on a little long, but that was a minor quibble.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go bake some choc-chip cookies!

There She GOes

by Lynne Shelby
(Theatreland #2)

My main quibble with this book was how early the two characters got together, given that the tag line is “Will they ever share more than an onstage kiss?” I was expecting a slow burn and it was not that at all.

There never seemed to be much in the way of conflict, and what was there was usually easily resolved in the following chapter.

Having said that, as a community theatre practitioner, I did enjoy the aspects of the professional theatre scene, auditions, call backs, etc. As well as the waiting for word, the crappy day jobs, the agony of being so close but so far.

And the writing was engaging, even if I did think the plot was a bit light on the ground.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

by Abbi Waxman

This started off entertaining but I have to admit that after a while the whole cute and quirky vibe wore off a bit. I didn’t find myself terribly invested in the romance. I didn’t see any chemistry between Nina and Tom, they just apparently fancied each other and then they were together.

What I did enjoy were the dynamics between Nina and her newly-discovered extended family. I loved how with some of them she slipped right in like she’d never been apart, but others were much more hesitant.

I also really appreciated the sensitive treatment of Nina’s anxiety.

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“I was no one’s sacrifice. Not then. Not now. Not ever.”// Review of “Serpent and Dove” by Shelby Mahurin

Title: Serpent and Dove (Serpent and Dove #1)
Author: Shelby Mahurin
Genre: Fantasy
Intended audience: YA (upper range)
Date Read: 03/10/19 – 12/09/19
Rating: ★★★★


This is one of those books where certain chapters were definitely worth five stars, but there were a few overall issues that meant I couldn’t award that to the whole book.

As far as characters go, I really enjoyed Lou. I loved that she spent a significant part of the book basically trolling Reid. But then she started developing real feelings for him and there was less of the fun stuff…

I also have to admit I find it hard to believe romances where Person A would literally kill Person B if Person A knew the truth about them, and they fall in love anyway. I just… how do you overlook that?

As for Reid himself, he’s honorable and sweet and noble, but… kind of boring?

I could never quite work out where and when the book was set. The religious characters refer to themselves as Christians and carry around Bibles… but the kingdom they live in appears entirely fictional… and not just a fictional country in Europe… truly fictional. They have running water and indoor plumbing, but no electricity… but some of their speech was very modern. So I never got a good sense of place.

But the writing itself is strong and leading up to what I thought was the climax, I couldn’t put the book down. i had to actively force myself to go to bed. But then after that section, the book kept going and the tension didn’t really rise again. I feel that this book should have ended with the attack on the city and the later events should have been the beginning of the second book.

There is lots of interesting set up for the next book and I’ll definitely think about reading it, though at the moment, I’m not completely committed.

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Book Review: “Sugar Spells” by Lola Dodge

Title: Sugar Spells (Spellwork Syndicate #2)
Author: Lola Dodge
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Target audience: NA (upper YA?)
Date Read: 30/10/18 – 06/11/18
Rating: ★★★

I have a pretty terrible memory for the details of books, and I read the first one back in March. But I’m pretty sure I liked this one even more than the first!

Lola Dodge’s culinary descriptions continued to make me drool and once again, the cover is really stunning. The way Anise’s magic is infused with the baking was also described in detail and Dodge was able to expand on the magic system she established in book one. We also got to see more of Blair’s necromancy and Gabi’s cryptoid veterinary clinic, both of which were enjoyable.

Character-wise, my favourite part was the burgeoning friendship between Anise and her bodyguard, Wynn. I love begrudging friendships! And this was definitely begrudging on Wynn’s part. We also got to learn how he ended up in his contract as Anise’s bodyguard and what that meant for him. I loved Anise’s attempts to help him and how he opened up as he realised she was genuine about it.

I never saw the twist coming, but in hindsight, I should have known something was up. And those are the best sorts of twists, I think. The different sub-plots of the story all wove together into the climax, and I ended up taking a longer lunch break than I should have to finish the book. From the sounds of it, it looks like book three in the series follows pretty closely from the events of this one, and I can’t wait until March to read it!

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

“This warlock really should’ve checked out the women in my corner before she made me her target.” // Review of “Deadly Sweet” by Lola Dodge

Title: Deadly Sweet (Spellwork Syndicate #1)
Author: Lola Dodge
Urban fantasy
Date Read: 19/02/2018 – 05/03/2018


Even if I had hated this book, I have to say that cover is going down as one of my all-time favourites. Just look at it. It is everything.

Now that I have that out of the way, this was also a really fun book! I loved the world-building: both the wider idea of the Vortex, and of witches being sneered at by wider society, and the more micro stuff, like the magical bakery. The descriptions made my mouth water every time. There’s also so much more that Lola Dodge can build on in subsequent books.

I also loved the characters. Mostly due to the way this world is set up, the majority of the characters are women, and I loved how much they support each other. Seeing how witches with different powers worked together was really awesome.

Sometimes the plot got a little predictable, or I didn’t feel like there was much going on. I did call the twist chapters before it happened, but predictability is not necessarily a bad thing. This book is nice and cosy. The kind of book I would hug if I had a physical copy and not an e-version. It made me feel happy reading it, and that is by any means a good sign. I also appreciated that it is very G-rated, even though the characters are all college-age or older. I don’t need steam in every book I read.

This was a really enjoyable book and definitely one you could curl up with and read in an afternoon (if you have more time than I currently do). I’m definitely watching out for the next book in this series.

Thank you to NetGalley and the Publishers for a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.

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#StoryADayMay Day 6 – What’s in the house with the purple picket fence?

Click the image to be taken to the Story A Day website

Click the image to be taken to the Story A Day website

A while back, I asked my boyfriend to give me a writing prompt and while I can’t remember the exact wording of it off the top of my head right now, it was something to do with a purple picket fence. From that prompt, a kid’s story evolved in my head, but I never actually got around to figuring out the nitty-gritty and writing it. This is a condensed version of what it might have been. (NB: The run-on sentences? They’re deliberate, yes.)

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