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The Witching Vault

The Witching Vault (Accessory to Magic Book 1) by [Kathrin Hutson]

Jessica Northwood is an ex convict looking for a job. With a rough past and in a rough financial state at the moment, she just wants to forget her tainted past, find a legal job and get paid at the end of the day. With little known to her, she takes a job as an apprentice to Tabitha, the owner of Winthrop & Dirledge Security Banking. Although her employer seems crazy at first, Jessica remains open minded and stays focused on keeping her job and getting paid. When tragedy strikes a twist of fate leaves Jessica as the new owner of the bank. This is not your usual bank, and it doesn’t serve the usual customers. Jessica is tasked with the responsibility of protecting this magical facility which has a mind of its own. Jessica has no idea where to begin, but as an apprentice and the new owner she must step up and run this place.

The Witching Vault by Kathrin Hutson is a thrilling fantasy adventure novel set in the dark world of magic and witches. Every chapter is short engaging and deftly crafts a unique and magical world that rises above the chaos that Jessica finds herself in. Each chapter takes you deeper into a magical world that is well thought out and detailed.

Contrary to the belief that magic and witches come with dark undertones, this book has a sharp wit and comic sense to it. Kathrin Hutson colors each chapter with a bit of charm, some effortless humor, and imbues each character with a unique air of coolness. While the characters are many and varied I appreciated how the story stayed linear, never losing focus on the main story arc, making this story much more accessible and easy to consume.

The Witching Vault has created an intricate fantasy world that has set the stage for readers to uncover a much wider world throughout this series. Kathrin Hutson thrusts readers into a magical world filled with dark secrets that Jessica Northwood tackles in entertaining fashion.

Pages: 260 | ASIN: B08HVT4CNR

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Love & Homegrown Magic

Love & Homegrown Magic by [Patricia Bossano, Kelsey E. Gerard]

Patricia Bossano’s Love and Homegrown Magic is a coming of age novel that encompasses the life of Maggie, a woman caught between the folk magic she was raised with and the Catholic teachings instilled in her during her formative teenage years. The story is told in chronological order, beginning with Maggie’s rustic youth years in Ecuador, continuing with her journey into marriage and motherhood, and culminating with her golden years as a matriarch.

The character development is strong from the onset. Maggie is depicted as a determined and ambitious woman driven by her values. These characteristics make her a natural matriarch once she enters marriage and motherhood. Even when confronted with life-altering changes, she has a knack for making the best out of any circumstance. Her three daughters, Kelly, Lizzy, and Marie, have distinct personalities that are apparent from the time they are young girls. Their individuality is best reflected in the unique floral symbols that both define and connect all three women with their mother – and with the magic that serves as a fixture in the lives.

Bossano does an incredible job at using these floral symbols to depict the strong bond between Maggie and her daughters. This connection is both ethereal and dynamic, changing as each of the four women age and enter different stages in their lives. The floral symbols continue to remind them of not only their love for each other, but their ties to Mother Superior.

Alonzo’s role in the story – and Maggie’s reaction to the idea of him – is particularly interesting. He ultimately serves as a litmus test for her readiness to reconcile with the past. Her persistent decision to lock his letters away and ignore the thought of him is driven by her Catholicism-fueled devotion to her husband, Angelo. Only with Angelo’s passing and her daughters’ persistence that she let happiness in is Maggie able to come face-to-face with the man she left behind for so many years. It is at this crucial point that the story also comes full circle.

Overall, I enjoyed this read. A text does not need to be long to be impactful, magical or give readers a sense of completion. Love & Homegrown Magic is a page-turning tale that blends love, magic, family, womanhood, and purpose.

Pages: 322 | ASIN: B08HYDMDXV

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Demon Heart: Year of the Witch

Demon Heart 3: Year of the Witch (Demon Heart Trilogy) by [David Crane]

In Demon Heart 3: Year of the Witch by David Crane we continue to follow Naoko Kitamura who is a demon hybrid and a government secret agent. After saving Japan from a mad genius who tried to destroy her country, Naoko’s enemies continue to grow. As the world approaches a supernatural singularity in the New Year, known as the year of the witch, she encounters dangerous supernatural entities and human wizards practicing dark magic. The order comes to retrieve a powerful supernatural weapon that is capable of dramatically changing western society. Once again Naoko must make a sacrifice for her country and her family.

David Crane’s characters are, as usual, both emotive and exceptionally developed to create uniquely extraordinary people that enthrall you from their introduction. I continue to enjoy reading about Naoko’s character because even though she is a complicated person she still remains selfless and relatable, if only in her grounded desires to protect her family. Crane has done a fantastic job of showing Naoko’s superhuman side while balancing it wither her sensitive human side. An almost yin and yang balance to her actions and abilities. I loved reading about Naomi’s relationships, especially about her relationship with her mother. I could tell that she appreciated her mother’s sacrifices and meant to honor her well. David Crane takes the reader on a wild journey that involves a exotic country rife with strange characters. The unfolding of events will put you on edge as the author ensures that every page continues to build upon the tension. This series is like a combination of Marvel’s The Iron Fist combined with Jim Butchers The Dresden Files book series. If you’re a fan of either then you’ll enjoy this book, if you’re a fan of both, then this book was written for you.

The plot of the Demon Heart 3 brings a thrilling conclusion to a spellbinding series with both antagonists and protagonists trying to outdo each other. From the start of the book I was consumed by the story. I enjoyed reading about each character and seeing how they evolved and what they became in the end. The chaos, intense action, suspense, and adventure in Demon Heart 3 will leave fans of the series satisfied.

Pages: 340 | ASIN: B088N6L1TW

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The Battle for Summia

The Battle for Summia (Patch Man Book 2) by [Rick Stepp-Bolling]

Rick Stepp-Bolling’s Patch Man II (The Battle for Summia) is quite a read. It mainly follows the journey of Meesha and Ten as they look for Kerash, the Lore princess. It also sees Meesha’s guardians, Var and Zefa discover a life-altering truth from an unexpected friend and start on a journey to find warriors to aid in the Summia fight.

But by far one of the most interesting storylines is the one of Ulan, an assassin commissioned to find an elusive Shola and make things right. This mission takes her on an interesting journey throughout which she encounters unexpected allies and foes. Ultimately, everyone in this book finds what they seek in some shape or form. More interestingly, unexpected love blooms, ending this story on quite a high.

At the heart of it, Patch Man II is a book about patriotism and the constant fight for freedom. As such, like many books of this nature, it is packed with betrayal, tracheary, and a ton of action. Other running themes include family and love, making it relatable for many readers.

While its dialogue is concise and riveting, its scene descriptions are very detailed, its prose has the perfect balance of information and entertainment. Since the story hinges on a lot of science fiction, the details employed are quite helpful. However, it still can be tough to follow for those who haven’t read the prequel. Moreover, if you are not a huge science fiction fan, the plot can be confusing. The greatest issue that I have with this book though, is its several simultaneously occurring storylines. All the back and forth between the action-packed storylines can be disrupting.

But it must be said that the author has gone to great lengths when it comes to character development, especially with regards to the main character, Meesha. Not only do we get detailed descriptions of her physical appearance, but we also understand her giftings and interesting personality. The same is true for the other characters, giving you a holistic view of the narrative. I also appreciate that the story is far from predictable.

Patch Man II is another phenomenal example of Rick Stepp-Bolling’s ability as a writer to entertain readers with an epic story that is spellbinding and stirring.

Pages: 281 | ASIN: B07YS729SV

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Back From The Brink

C.E. Clayton
C.E. Clayton Author Interview

Resistor is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a cyberpunk, fantasy, and a thriller as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?

I knew I wanted to write a cyberpunk novel with a twist from the onset. I love the aesthetic of cyberpunk settings, but I wanted to mix that future tech with magic, because I always find that to be such an interesting mix. What can magic do that smart technology can’t? What kind of relationship would people with magic have in regards to someone who can put that magic into a device they can wield just as easily? The rest, in terms of the other genres that crop up, happened organically. I wanted to write something that was an epic, fun adventure, something that was maybe a little silly when it comes to banter and how serious the story takes itself, but with these moments of really raw intensity. I wanted to have just as much fun writing this story as readers would when they dove in, but while still covering heavy hitting topics like grief and depression, and certain genres and tropes cover those themes better than others, so I tended to pull from those elements when necessary. It does make Resistor a little hard to pin down in terms of genre, but I don’t consider that to be a bad thing, either.

Ellinor is an intriguing character. What were some obstacles you felt were important in shaping her character?

For Ellinor, her biggest obstacle, and what shapes her personality most for this first book, is her anger, her overwhelming sense of loss and betrayal. Ellinor’s grief for what happened to her husband never much progressed past the anger and rage stages, which had to color all of her actions and interactions with the other characters in the book – including former friends. In a way, Ellinor wants to remain angry because it’s safer for her, safer than feeling friendship or attachment again after being so profoundly hurt. But that’s not really her personality at her core, so shaping Ellinor to where she forces herself to be angry and grumpy, and mean, toward everyone when part of her doesn’t want to be was a very fine line both Ellinor, and I as the writer, had to toe. Ellinor has to be mean, and grouchy, and therefore a bit unlikable because that’s what she wants, she doesn’t want people to get close to her again. But if she was too unlikable for the reader, well, that’s just a bad time for everyone! So while this kind of obstacle was important to shaping her character and character arc in general, to show how far back from the brink she has to come, it was also an obstacle for me as a writer!

What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?

I love books that make me feel things; that can just as easily tug all my heart strings as they can make me laugh, or get my heart racing with action. I had also been itching to write a heroine who wasn’t instantly likeable, that wasn’t a chosen one, was violent and angry. You don’t see that often in fantasy, where the main female character is kind of mean! So, because I was already vibing pretty hard with the cyberpunk aesthetic, and my last fantasy series was magic light, I wanted to lean more into the things I hadn’t done before. I started world building and coming up with a world, a magic system, and then figuring out how a character who was going to grow a lot over the course of their arc would fit into that. That’s typically how I write most of my novels, I store all these interesting ideas or creatures, or worlds and then figure out what would happen if I were to put a certain kind of person at the center of it all. I am mostly a pantser when it comes to writing my books, letting the characters drive, with only a vague outline for every 10 chapters or so as I go along, except when it comes to world and character building. That is always meticulously crafted before I start with the plot.

This is book one in your Ellinor series. What can readers expect in book two?

Book 2 will pretty much start right where the first book left off, so Ellinor and those she’s with do have a plan and goal in mind for what they need to do by the end of the next story. But the biggest thing the reader will see is the continuing evolution of Ellinor’s character arc, her, almost reluctantly at times, releasing her anger and prejudices. Of finding a new purpose and reasons to keep living beyond her desire for vengeance. Book two will also see a lot more of Kai and Jelani! Kai goes through a lot of growth and very raw and real moments in the second book, while there is also a lot of evolution in Jelani’s relationships, including more of his little sister who is briefly introduced in the first book. You’ll also see a lot more of the Ashlings and where and how zey live in the next installment which means, while there will still be a lot of colorful magic, readers can expect to see more of the tech side of Eerden as well. Book two is just as action packed, with some of my most cinematic fight scenes to date, according to my early readers. So a lot of what readers enjoyed in this adventure will be back and in greater force in the next book, which is good because a lot of the character growth that occurs is very painful, metally and physically in some cases. But the ending is worth the struggle, I promise!

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Instagram | Website

Ellinor Rask has wanted one thing for the past eight years: vengeance. But when Ellinor is captured, she finds herself dragged back into the world she walked away from, entangled once more with friends she would rather forget.

As if that weren’t humiliating enough, Ellinor learns first hand that her magic can be stripped away by a piece of bio-tech—and her ex-boss is happy to leash her with the technology in order to get what he wants. If Ellinor behaves, the device will be removed. All she has to do is deliver a package. One containing a creature created from raw magical energy and discarded technology. Simple, right?

But when her goals start getting people murdered, Ellinor has to decide if the year’s planning, her honor, and even her own magic, are worth the lives it’s costing. Dodging ruthless gangsters, she finds herself on the run with a creature of immeasurable magical abilities alongside her one-time friends. Now, Ellinor must relearn to trust the people she once abandoned. She must put her faith in technology, and her life in the hands of independent contractors, all while racing to deliver the package before it gets taken by force, or worse, the creature decides to make an appearance itself.

Dark Days

Dark Days is a story about a girl named Maya. who is an outcast because she hasn’t completed a traditional rite of passage known to her people as the Leighesan sect. While being born to the Leighesan sect, she belongs to the Dempsey clan and spends her days training to become the best she can be. Her goal is to achieve knowledge and skill that surpasses people of her age and the elders as well.

Maya must compete in the Cluiche which is an ancient set of games and competitions that, for years, has showcased the best of the best. Little does she know that by competing in the Cluiche, she will not only have the chance to change her future but the prospect of clans everywhere. Learning who she truly is and standing for what she believes is right, she begins her journey with her two friends Jeremias and Willum, and finds support and hardship in places she never thought she would. War is budding on the horizon and the appearance of a figure that for a time only she could see, she knows that time is running out, and her destiny might be coming sooner than she thought.

Dark Days was a compelling read that was consistently entertaining. The book’s ending leaves the reader desiring more as well as wanting to see what happens next. One minor complaint I have is the ending of the book seemed a little rushed. Maya’s strength is inspiring and I admired her ability to not care what others thought of her. It’s a nice change of pace to see such a strong and intelligent female character in a book.

D.W. Saur does an excellent job of developing complex characters such as Maya’s friends Willum and Jeremias. There were times when I wanted to yell at Willum because he wasn’t serious when the stakes were high. This shows the level of attachment I had with the characters and how much I had invested into this epic story line. Maya made some decisions that were a little questionable, and I wish she had been a little more honest with her friends, but I understand where she thought she had no choice. I am still not completely sure who the villain is and am looking forward to finding out in the next book.

Dark Days plunges readers into the depths of a complex dark fantasy world that begs to be explored. D.W. Saur sets up intriguing characters that face some enormous challenges, but watching them overcome them is half the fun of this adventure novel. I look forward to reading the sequel when it comes to fruition.

Pages: 278 | ISBN-10: 1646630491

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Don’t get me wrong!

Nix Damon
Nix Damon Author Interview

Moira follows a woman trying to make it through life without being killed by weirdos or aliens and finds help with a surprising person. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?

I have to thank J.M. Barrie and Disney directly for my inspiration. Moira is ripped from the story of Peter Pan and Wendy. Almost every scene is a murmur of something that happens in Peter Pan. Some nods to Peter Pan are obvious and some take a little more imaginative sleuthing. Don’t get me wrong! I love the sweet and gentle Wendy Moira Angela Darling. However, for my own twisted interests, I sliced her up and pieced her into the confused, teenage monster that is Moira Angela Starling. I left her in a desert for a more dramatic twist when she should have been swept up in an enchanted land of mermaids and pirates. I wanted to see Wendy grow up, essentially. But, to do that, she had to be alone and be okay with it.

Moira is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?

Unfortunately, I don’t have a focused or profound answer! She is in many ways a highly-concentrated version of myself because it was the easiest thing to write. There are elements of my own feelings, topped with lessons I’ve learned through therapy or from scouring my own “inner self.” I let her be a teenager in ways that made me cringe. I let her make me uncomfortable with her language and her behavior, and I even wandered around my house, wondering how she would react to things around me. And then MUSIC! Songs wrote her – not the lyrics, but the combination of instruments and the inflection of voice. Her mood and her personality came to me through sound.

The relationship between Moira and Rafe was enthralling. Was there relationship planned before writing or did it develop organically while writing?

Rafe had always been in the wings and I was hopeful to work their relationship out. I found that the more Moira gained traction in her ordinary life, the more she was empowered to make choices – choices like Rafe! So, I suppose it was wishful planning that worked out organically. Is that dumb? That’s dumb. It was planned, but loosely. I didn’t think it would work out.

This is book one in The Witness Journals. What can readers expect in book two?

Oh, boy. Well, get ready. Book Two leaves Moira and jumps over to the origins of Ravage, Rafe’s foster brother and nearly invisible villain who is actually the coolest, worst dude of all time. The reader will be treated to strong hints of cyberpunk mingled with old earth magic. There will be much human experimentation and fighting for survival, plus the crushing notes of hopelessness and rage. I predict that this book series will wrap up in about seven novels – maybe eight? And each novel gives a glimpse into some part of a character’s life, weaving in and out of Moira’s main storyline, which operates as a kind of treasure map.

Author Links: GoodReads

Moira’s depressing life is interrupted when mysterious tree weirdos attempt to murder her before an ancient jerk named Rafe intervenes to save her life. Oddly attractive (but totally irritating) Rafe eventually makes it his mission to prepare her for any future attacks, claiming that his brother is bent on capturing dear, sweet Moira and using her for unnameable purposes.

Happily, Moira’s life becomes slightly less boring with the rigorous training from Rafe, but she still finds herself struggling to make friends and pay her bills. Keeping boyfriends and eating boiled lizards in the pink salt wilderness is a lot of work when you’re also being told a maniac in space wants to eat your liver and gouge out your eyes. As a result, she is almost always agitated and hitting things (mostly Rafe). Surely, you can see that she is under a great deal of stress.

Will she survive the transition to adulthood and responsibility? She’s got a pretty bad attitude, so probably not.

The Court Of Outcasts

In her latest book, Allison Rose takes us through a roller-coaster of emotions finalizing in a hopeful yet uncertain ending. The Court of Outcasts is a contemporary fantasy novel filled with treachery, betrayal, and a twist of unexpected loyalty. While it begins with the main characters; Nola and Kelty, trying to adjust to their new normal, they are yet to realize how much weirder things could get.

With the introduction of a new foe, everything goes haywire as old enemies become new friends in the pursuit of a common good. Nola, though she looks like an ordinary teenager realizes that she is far from it. Torn between her mundane high school existence and the allure of the mystical faerie world, she embarks on a journey that will eventually force her to choose one of the worlds.

On the other hand, Kelty faces trials of her own. Battling with the uncertainties of her love life and the painful reality that she may never go back home, she has to make difficult decisions about who to trust amid chaos.

While the book does inspire a sense of awe and curiosity, it can be a little hard to follow if you haven’t read the previous book. For instance, the use of mystical language like ara can take a while to wrap your head around. However, the author goes through great lengths to explain foreign concepts in simple terms. She uses a lot of descriptive language to not only explain the woodsy setting of the book but also the emotional and psychological states of the characters.

This book gives you a clear description of both the physical and personality traits of each of the characters. The story begins with gentle explanations and hints about things to come. Yet, little can prepare you for the great plot twists ahead. The story seems to intensify from page to page until it reaches a breathtaking climax. As a reader, I am yet to get the resolution I need and have ended up with great fantasies about what is to happen next.

This is a great motivation to read the sequel if there will be one. Allison has done a phenomenal  job in capturing the emotions between characters and tension in scenes, although more could be done in developing the story of supporting characters like Sayra and Lark. Another aspect that is yet to be fully explored is the romance between Nola and her love interest.

However, I do appreciate that the author could be saving this for the next book. Apart from what is on the surface, there are serious and compelling themes that subtly color the narrative. The ones that truly stand out are the importance of family and sense of belonging and perseverance through dark times. These are themes that I and many others can relate to, and it kept me devouring pages.

Pages: 246 | ASIN: B0851VPMPX

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