The Magic Spark by Mishka Jenkins

Magic Spark

Successful businesswoman Alex is content with her life in London, and any ideas of romance have been left on the back burner. But when her fairy godmother, FG, waltzes into her office one morning announcing she has come to help Alex rekindle a passion for life and love, she is about to check herself into therapy!

The fairy godmother’s incessant wand-flicking soon lands them in the isolation of the Scottish highlands, where Alex’s next client, Mal Ross, not only stirs her professional interest but her romantic ones too.

Tasked with the enormous challenge of turning a historic castle into a flourishing hotel, the pair must work closely together whilst attempting to avoid the awkward situations the rom-com obsessed fairy godmother keeps forcing them into.

But the path of love is never smooth, no matter how much magic you throw at it.


Review

The Magic Spark was a delightful read. The story was peppered with romance and laugh-out-loud fun, courtesy of FG – the Fairy God Mother.

This is the fourth novel I’ve read by Mishka Jenkins, so I knew I was in for a treat in terms of strong, feisty characters and a well-rounded love story.

My favourite parts were undoubtedly the series of circumstances FG creates in order to throw the two main characters, Alex and Mal, together. Not only were they set-up perfectly, they are beautifully written. As a reader, you cannot fail to see the magic happening.

As well as taking us to Scotland and planting us smack bang in the middle of the action, Mishka also shows us the strength and power of community. There are intriguing twists, with heart-felt emotion and real-life drama. The plot is well balanced and is a definite page turner.

Mishka is skilled at creating tension and conflict between characters. I was rooting for Alex and Mal right from the start – I was totally on FG’s side!

I would highly recommend the book, and know I will gain as much pleasure when I read it again.







Release week adventures – Desert Sunrise by Gina Briganti

Desert Sunrise 2

 

Desert Sunrise Review

Desert Sunrise is like a big book of sunshine. Seriously, it’s a volume of feel-good. The magic, the joy of the characters, and their development is inspiring. I was warmed by the friendships, the love and the romance.

There’s a strong sense of family throughout; the big, happy unconventional kind. The kind I wanted to be a part of and, for a while at least, I guess I was. I certainly enjoyed spending time with them.

The paranormal element is intriguing, especially the Dreaming, and I was thrilled to discover Joe and Dana are a big part of  the story. Their connection is heart-warming, and influential in terms of those around them.

Joe’s son, Carter, undergoes a major transition and his scenes are memorable. I was thrilled to discover he plays the main role in book three of the Natural Gifts series.

But, going back to the stars of Desert Sunrise, I loved Stan and Lucy. Their romance is beautifully written. Individually they are dynamic, completely entertaining, but together they are truly memorable. I know this is going to sound trite, but it has to be said, ‘Stan is the man!’ He charmed me from the beginning and had me rooting for him until the end.

Gina has a way of showing her readers the journey from differing points of view, and this added something for me. It’s a style I particularly like. Though the book can be read independently, I would recommend beginning the series with The Dreaming and discovering the beginning of this magical adventure.


Here are the links for Amazon – The Dreaming and Desert Sunrise – Books one and two of the Natural Gifts Series by Gina Briganti.

Pro-Week Blitz Tour (#2) – Shadow Stalker: Episode 2

Marketing Kit

It’s the second stop for Renee here at Writing Room 101 on her Pro-Week Blitz Tour. The second episode of Shadow Stalker (The Delohi-Saque’ Fate) will be released on Saturday, and I had the opportunity to read an advanced copy.

Here’s my review of the episode.

Shadow Stalker: Episode 2

First off, the prologue started with a bang! It was the perfect hook and left me wanting more. The ensuing chapters were full of tension, excitement, and mystery. The main focus of episode two is a series of trials. It begins with the resolution of Auren’s earlier plight, highlighting the dangers she must face during her rite of passage.

A few well-guarded secrets were revealed in the episode too, which added to the intrigue and progressed the story forward nicely. It ended on a cliff-hanger, but one I could live with, which added a layer of anticipation.

One of my favourite things about the episode is the transition Auren goes through, especially in terms of her relationship with Kado. He is a complex man and I sensed his pain, his indecision and the fact his loyalties are divided. There’s always one character in a series who frustrates you one minute and then earns your respect the next. Kado is that character for me. I know there’s more to him, that he has Auren’s best interests at heart, but it was easy to get caught in the moment!

For the most part, Auren is completely out of her element and you can’t help empathising with her. There are some emotionally charged scenes, which deal with a number of dilemmas for the central characters. I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

I can’t really say any more that that without giving too much away. Oh, but I loved the introduction of the wolf. I’m hoping he makes another ‘guest appearance!’


You can find more details about the book and future episodes by visiting Renee’s site here.

Join us again on Saturday – release day, and the conclusion of the tour.

Thanks for reading

Mel

Reunion of the Heart by Elaine Jeremiah

Reunion of the HeartThis book has been on my list since Elaine generously gave me a copy in exchange for an honest review. It’s taken longer than I would like, but I wanted to give it my undivided attention and actually started reading it yesterday.

Before we get to the review, here’s the blurb.

After a messy breakup with her boyfriend, Anna is feeling fragile. So when her best friend Melissa suggests the two of them go to their school reunion, she’s reluctant as Anna’s school days weren’t her happiest. The evening is going well until she meets the boy who made her school life hell. But the grown up Will is different and Anna is surprised by the direction her life takes. The reunion sets in motion a series of events that lead Anna to realise things will never be the same again. ‘Reunion of the Heart’ is a romance that will lead you to ponder whether love can atone for past mistakes.

I read Reunion of the Heart in two days. It held my attention throughout. The story is primarily about love and friendship and I was caught up in the lives of the characters. It’s a relatable book, fraught with loss and heartache, but also with hope and new opportunities.

The main protagonist (Anna) is likeable; her neurosis adds an engaging element so the reader cares what happens to her and the friendships she relies on.

I enjoyed the scenes with Anna and her friends. The dialogue was genuine and made me feel like a part of the group.

The building romance between Anna and Will is well paced, which adds tension and allows the reader to understand the difficulties they have both overcome, in order to get where they are.

I liked the connections between the characters too. They all go on a journey of discovery, where past mistakes no longer haunt them and they can finally forgive.

It is an uplifting tale and, as I said, a relatable one. I enjoyed spending time with the group and I’m sure you will too.



Thanks for reading

Mel

The Soul: Book One by S. R. Carrillo

The SoulI’m still recovering from the ending of ‘The Soul’ – I don’t know how I’ll find the patience to wait for book two! It was a rollercoaster ride of intensity and emotion, the kind of story that stays with you long after the final page has been turned.

The last angel, Ero, is tasked with the purpose of finding a boy (an abandoned effigy of evil), and raising him into the arms of Grace. Ero is one of the best representations of an angel I’ve read. His complexity, his divinity and power, the way he processes information, had me riveted. Then there is his immense capacity for love, coupled with his sensuality and both drew me in like a moth to flame.

Ero is introduced into the novel at the beginning of his journey, when he meets an intriguing man named Lios. Before he leaves to complete his task, the two spend a little time together (as Ero goes through a kind of transition). I really enjoyed these chapters. Their connection served to demonstrate Ero’s true nature. The way the author describes his internal conflict is poetic in its elegance.   

When Ero finds the boy (he names him Sol), the dynamic between the two is heart-breaking at times. The evil living in Sol, the disregard he has for human life and the brutal, unrepentant way he inflicts pain is dealt with skilfully. This level of malignance cannot be written lightly. The author does not shy away from the violence of such evil, but nor does she make Sol one dimensional. His complexity, the hunger and pain which drive him make it clear to see why Ero is prepared to sacrifice so much to save him.

The novel is beautifully written. The characters come alive on the page and though there is darkness, there is also light. The author managed to evoke a kaleidoscope of emotions and I was completely invested in Ero’s journey. I’m looking forward to spending more time with him.


Review by Melissa Barker-Simpson

 

The Shadow Stalker Blog Blitz: Part 1

Marketing KitWriting Room 101 is providing three stops on today’s Blitz, starting with a review of The Shadow Stalker: The Hidden Truth (Episode 1).

Shadow Stalker – The Hidden Truth: Episode 1

Review by Melissa Barker-Simpson

 

This is the first time I’ve read a serial and I didn’t know what to expect. I was pulled into the story right away. The pacing was cleverly crafted so that while the action had the pages turning, there was enough back story to keep you rooted in the plot. I liked the way it unfolded, how the author allowed us to see through Auren’s eyes – a young girl testing the limits placed on her by her step-father and guardian, Kato. Their relationship is an intriguing one, full of secrets and shared respect, despite the duty they are both bound to.

Although Auren’s emotions are those of a typical teenage girl, her circumstances are not. She struggles to find her place, craving the freedom to stretch her wings, all while understanding the depth of her responsibilities. It is a compelling battle  and as a reader I was easily able to identify with this internal struggle.

Auren’s world is an unfamiliar one, but with the help of some lovely descriptions I found it to be an exciting journey, one I am looking forward to continuing in episode 2.

**

Thanks for visiting.

Mel

Prophecy of Stones by Mishka Jenkins

Prophecy of StonesThis is the third book I’ve read by Mishka Jenkins and I have to say, it had me at the title! I mean, who doesn’t love a story about a prophecy and those fated to fulfil a role which tests everything they believe in.

The book begins with a group of heroes as they embark on a journey to save the world. Enter three characters who embody the heart, strength and soul of mankind, three friends who share their responsibility, and you have an  appealing group who are a pleasure to spend time with.

I particularly enjoyed the fact I got to experience the journey from three unique perspectives. Each of the chosen, separated cleverly by a rune marking the transition, share their insights. It makes for an exciting adventure; full of magic, mystery and intrigue. As the story began to unfold, I was well and truly hooked.

One of Mishka’s strengths is developing relationships between her characters and, right from the start, you could feel the camaraderie. The kind of love and commitment which embodies the heart of the tale. The world in which they live is described so vividly a picture began to build in my head, further adding to the drama and excitement. They sucked me in, became as familiar as old friends, and I was with them each step of the way.

The chosen three are distinct and exceptional in their own right. Milana is a woman worthy of her role. She is a warrior, strong of heart and spirit. I was drawn to her fierce, yet vulnerable nature and she shone with her own special kind of magic. Riff is the kind of person you can rely on; cool, calm and collected, with the kind of quiet strength which makes him a true hero.  Kai’s innocence is part of his appeal and his unique perspective on the journey made the whole thing come together.

The romance of the story is beautifully told, and another of Mishka’s strengths. Her male leads always stand out; lighting up a scene and grabbing a readers attention from the moment they appear. Riff is no different. The connection he has to Milana is a palpable thing. I loved this couple and highly recommend the book.

***

Review by Melissa Barker-Simpson

Heart of the Arena by Mishka Jenkins

Heart of the ArenaI’ve been a fan of Mishka‘s work for a while now, so all three of her books were on my reading list. I chose Stolen Bloodline first, purely because it’s more my usual type of genre. Though I don’t normally read historical fiction, I knew Heart of the Arena was a must read and set aside a weekend to enjoy it.

I was hooked from the very first page and all but devoured the novel in one sitting.

Set in Ancient Rome, the story follows a young woman, Sabina, who is sold by slave-traders into the life of a gladiator.  Armed with a disguise and the training of an old master, she must set her skills against men accustomed to fighting in the arena.

Mishka should be commended for her research on this book; the language, culture and setting are so authentic it’s like stepping back in time.

The fight scenes are intense; a pulse racing view of the action until you become one of the crowd.  I haven’t enjoyed a tale about gladiators this much, since the film, Spartacus. It was one of my father’s favourites and he watched it until the tape ran out (so it’s a long time ago!). The thing that stood out about the film for me can be summed up by the famous line ‘I’m Spartacus’. It speaks of camaraderie, of honour and the true nature of friendship.

It turns out to be one of my favourite things about this novel. The brotherhood among the gladiators is captivating. The relationships as they develop are moving and sincere. As is the romantic element  of the story; Sabina’s growing affection for the gladiator Cassian.

The psychological element is well thought out; Sabina must keep up appearances as one of the men, all the while developing feelings which make her very much a woman.

It’s a sweet, and engaging romance; a story about love, honour, and friendship. When you add all the elements together, the loss, heart-ache and betrayal, you begin to really care about what happens to these characters. From the gladiator with a big heart, to the woman who binds them all together. It’s a pleasure to read.

——–

Review by Melissa Barker-Simpson

An Avid Reader Takeover

Reading Room
Hey, everyone! My name is Fantasy Angel from Avid Reader, and I love reading books – especially fantasy, crime and mystery. I first created a blog on Weebly, almost two years ago now, to share that love by reviewing books and talking about them/their movie adaptations.

After a year and a half I decided to switch to the awesome community that is WordPress, and that’s where you’ll find me now.

So after participating in the Blogging 201 challenge, I thought it would be pretty awesome to become a guest reviewer. After much discussion, Melissa and I got together to hash out the details and here I am!

Before I begin, I must warn you that I create new words or warp them to fit the sentence/meaning/context*. You’ve been warned 🙂

Review of Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell

I must say, the premise behind Dear Killer is pretty good! It’s basically about a high school girl who also happens to be the most fearsome killer in London since Jack the Ripper, and no one knows except her mother.

She receives letters from those wanting her to kill a specific target, and leaves these letters on the body; her signature “move”. When she gets one that threatens to break her first rule – nothing is right. Nothing is wrong. She must decide: follow the rules or break ‘em.

This story was fantasmic*! At first, when I picked it up, I thought it might be a bit to horror-y for me, but as I got into it, I realized it was more like the Women’s Murder Club books I love.

The writing is pretty awesome; with a good amount of character development, dialogue and just pure goodness. Each character is well formed, with my fav being, of course, Kit – aka the fearsome killer.

There are also no boring or dull parts, which upped the goodness quota for me. I really liked it and I think a lot of you will like it too.

For those of you who are a little squeamish, there was only one really gruesome part, so I’m sure it’s nothing you can’t handle!

Rating: 11/10

***

Thanks to Melissa for letting me “takeover” and thanks to you guys (meaning you, the reader/audience).

I hope you liked the review and that you’ll visit my blog for more. Ta ta for now!

FA

Review: The Vessel – by Callum McLaughlin

I’ve been a fan of Callum’s for a while now, and his blog is one of my favourites (Callum McLaughlin).

His poetry never fails to move me, and I highly recommend you head on over to experience his work for yourself.

I recently read his debut novella, The Vessel, and it blew me away. You’ll find my review in the ‘Reading Room’ but I’ve also added it below.

Review

The Vessel gripped me from the very first paragraph. I felt an instant connection to the focal character (Eva Cole), not only because of a powerful first introduction, but because the author allowed me to see through her eyes. Utilising every tool at his disposal, the author also creates stunning imagery so you feel a connection to everything that happens in this fast-paced tale. The language is poetic in its elegance and, as I said, hooked me from the very beginning.

Eva is hunted relentlessly throughout the book, having escaped from a facility that is as harsh as her surroundings. Living in a world savaged by disease, and as dangerous as the prison she has escaped from, it soon becomes abundantly clear how treacherous her journey will become.

The Vessel had me on tenterhooks. I was invested in the outcome of the story, and couldn’t stop reading until I had learnt of Eva’s fate.

I would highly recommend this debut novella. It is packed to the brim with suspense, intrigue and enough twists and turns to make you dizzy!

Happy Reading

Mel