Well Traveled by Jen DeLuca

Well Traveled by Jen DeLuca

Published December 6, 2022 by Berkley

336 Pages

Goodreads Review: A high-powered attorney from a success-oriented family, Louisa “Lulu” Malone lives to work, and everything seems to be going right, until the day she realizes it’s all wrong. Lulu’s cousin Mitch introduced her to the world of Renaissance Faires, and when she spies one at a time just when she needs an escape, she leaps into the welcoming environment of turkey legs, taverns, and tarot readers. The only drawback? Dex MacLean: a guitarist with a killer smile, the Casanova of the Faire… and her traveling companion for the summer.

Dex has never had to work for much in his life, and why should he? Touring with his brothers as The Dueling Kilts is going great, and he always finds a woman at every Faire. But when Lulu proves indifferent to his many plaid charms and a shake-up threatens the fate of the band, Dex must confront something he never has before: his future.

Forced to spend days and nights together on the road, Lulu’s interest in the kilted bad boy grows as he shows her a side of himself no one else has seen. The stresses of her old lifestyle fade away as she learns to trust her intuition and follow her heart instead of her head. But when her time on the road is over, will Lulu go with her gut, or are she and Dex destined for separate paths?

The Renaissance Faire is on the move, and Lulu and Dex are along for the ride, in the next utterly charming rom-com from Jen DeLuca.

Review: I love this series and was very excited to get a chance to read book 4 about Dex and Lulu. Dex is the Casanova of the Dueling Kilts and Lulu is the cousin of Mitch from the Willow Springs Renaissance Festival. Dex has a new chick at each of the fests they travel to but that all begins to change when Lulu hits the scene. She was a lawyer who realized her boss was a misogynist and was never planning to make her partner of the firm. She quits her job and ends up joining Stacy, Daniel, Dex and the rest of The Dueling Kilts for three months on the renaissance circuit. I absolutely loved seeing Lulu step away from her stressful life and free herself. I think she really blossomed and you could sense the freedom she felt from stepping outside her comfort zone. It was also fun seeing Dex come out of the “manwhore” box that everyone had him placed in. Together, he and Stacy showed each other that they each deserved more from the world. I loved seeing both of their personalities light up. Especially after they finally get together and don’t care if anybody knows it. It was really refreshing to see that neither one of them tried to change the other like you sometimes see in similar storylines. They just accepted each other for who they were and ended up growing together. Overall this story was super cute with a little bit of steam to make a really fun romantic comedy. I have a feeling this is the last book in the series but I wish it wasn’t. I would love to see more from all of the characters and couples of this series.

4 Stars

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Not Your Ex’s Hexes by April Asher

Not Your Ex’s Hexes by April Asher

Published February 7, 2023 by St. Martin’s Griffin

343 Pages

Goodreads Summary: In April Asher’s next Supernatural Singles novel, Not Your Ex’s Hexes, a one-night-stand between a willful witch and a broody half-demon conjures an adventure that wouldn’t be complete without several magical mishaps.

For her entire life, Rose Maxwell trained to become the next Prima on the Supernatural Council. Now that she’s stepped down, it’s time for this witch to focus on herself. And not think about her impulsive one-night stand with Damian Adams, a half-Demon Veterinarian who she can’t get out of her head. Neither of them is looking for a relationship. But when Rose is sentenced to community service at Damian’s animal sanctuary it becomes impossible for them to ignore their sparking attraction. A friends-with-benefits, no feelings, no strings arrangement works perfectly for them both.

After a sequence of dead-end jobs, it’s not until Rose tangos with two snarly demons that she thinks she’s finally found her path. However, this puts Damian back on the periphery of a world he thought he left behind. He doesn’t approve of Rose becoming a Hunter, but if there’s one thing he’s learned about the stubborn witch, it was telling her not to do something was one sure-fire way to make sure she did.

Working—and sleeping—together awakens feelings Damian never knew he had…and shouldn’t have. Because thanks to his ex’s hex, if he falls in love, he’ll not only lose his heart—but his humanity.

Review: Last year I read and loved the first book of this series, Not the Witch You Wed. It was funny, romantic, and utterly cute. I jumped at the chance to get an advance copy of Not Your Ex’s Hexes to continue the fun with the Maxwell sisters and the rest of the Supernatural gang in NYC. Rose is struggling to find her place in the world after giving up the role of Prima Apparent after her older triplet sister Violet finally was able to tap into her powers. One night after she mistakenly tries to rescue a pair of horses that had already been rescued she is charged with serving community service hours at the animal sanctuary she tried to steal the horses from bringing her in close proximity to Damien Adams, the man she had a steamy tryst with several months prior. Damien is a cranky half-demon and Rose is one of the Maxwell witches… definitely some things are about to go down. I loved the banter between Damien and Rose throughout the book. There were a couple of action scenes as Damien and Rose did some bounty hunting for the Supernatural Council and Damien’s half brother Julius who also happens to be the demon representative on the Supernatural Council. One thing I liked was getting to see glimpses of Damien’s past when he was in full-blown bounty hunting mode. You could really tell how much that affected the man that he had become. I think Rose being there helped him become more vulnerable which was terrifying to him because of the hex his ex-girlfriend had put on his soul. The story was fairly predictable in it’s conclusion but that’s one of my favorite parts about romance novels. It’s the ones that have the surprise unhappily ever after endings that I hate and want to throw across the room. I also was enjoying the setup for what I presume will happen in book 3. I can’t wait to read it!

4 Stars

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Daphne by Josh Malerman

Daphne by Josh Malerman

Published September 20, 2022 by Del Rey

262 Pages

Goodreads Summary: It’s the last summer for Kit Lamb: The last summer before college. The last summer with her high school basketball team, and with Dana, her best friend. The last summer before her life begins.

But the night before the big game, one of the players tells a ghost story about Daphne, a girl who went to their school many years ago and died under mysterious circumstances. Some say she was murdered, others that she died by her own hand. And some say that Daphne is a murderer herself. They also say that Daphne is still out there, obsessed with revenge, and will appear to kill again anytime someone thinks about her.

After Kit hears the story, her teammates vanish, one by one, and Kit begins to suspect that the stories about Daphne are real . . . and to fear that her own mind is conjuring the killer. Now it’s a race against time as Kit searches for the truth behind the legend and learns to face her own fears—before the summer of her life becomes the last summer of her life.

Mixing a nostalgic coming-of-age story and an instantly iconic female villain with an innovative new vision of classic horror, Daphne is an unforgettable thriller as only Josh Malerman could imagine it.

Review: My first encounter with Josh Malerman was with his book, Bird Box. I devoured it completely and thoroughly enjoyed the sequel. I struggled a little with Goblin but that’s mainly me struggling with short stories in general. So I was very excited to get an opportunity to read and review his most recent novel, Daphne. I was intrigued by the premise and the main character being a former high school basketball player myself. The majority of the book is told from Kit Lamb’s POV which I enjoyed for the most part with one major exception… a lot of her POV is herself writing in her diary which she named Jolly and she addresses it by name throughout her entries. That was a little strange for me and kind of off putting. There definitely were some scary moments, which I appreciated. I definitely would not want to go up against Daphne, that’s for sure. One of the scariest things was that you weren’t supposed to think about Daphne or she would come for you but when you know you’re not supposed to think about something OF COURSE that will just make you think of it more. I think that affected Kit heavily! She seemed to be constantly thinking about Daphne to the point where she was imaging people around her were speaking Daphne’s name when they actually said something completely different. In some ways it reminded me of a Bloody Mary-esque story. There were times when the POV shifted and it was a little hard to follow. Overall I would say this is a pretty decent horror read and I will continue to look forward to Josh Malerman’s books in the future.

3 Stars

Mini Review: The Wilderwomen

The Wilderwomen by Ruth Emmie Lang

Published November 15, 2022 by St. Martin’s Press

336 Pages

Goodreads Summary: Five years ago, Nora Wilder disappeared. The older of her two daughters, Zadie, should have seen it coming, because she can literally see things coming. But not even her psychic abilities were able to prevent their mother from vanishing one morning.Zadie’s estranged younger sister, Finn, can’t see into the future, but she has an uncannily good memory, so good that she remembers not only her own memories, but the echoes of memories other people have left behind. On the afternoon of her graduation party, Finn is seized by an “echo” more powerful than anything she’s experienced before: a woman singing a song she recognizes, a song about a bird…When Finn wakes up alone in an aviary with no idea of how she got there, she realizes who the memory belongs to: Nora.Now, it’s up to Finn to convince her sister that not only is their mom still out there, but that she wants to be found. Against Zadie’s better judgement, she and Finn hit the highway, using Finn’s echoes to retrace Nora’s footsteps and uncover the answer to the question that has been haunting them for years: Why did she leave?But the more time Finn spends in their mother’s past, the harder it is for her to return to the present, to return to herself. As Zadie feels her sister start to slip away, she will have to decide what lengths she is willing to go to to find their mother, knowing that if she chooses wrong, she could lose them both for good.

Review: Two years ago I had read and loved Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance so when I got the opportunity to read and review Ruth Emmie Lang’s newest novel, I jumped at it. I procrastinated reading it and the longer I let it sit the less I felt like reading it so I finally picked it up one day. I would have thought a book that had characters with psychic abilities would have thrilled me a little more than it ended up doing. I had a very hard time connecting and caring about Zadie. This book has so many emotions running through it but I struggled to feel anything but boredom to be perfectly honest. The plot and characters just never fully gripped me. Overall I was just very disappointed with this book. Maybe if I read it in a more philosophical type mood this would have worked better for me as many people seem to have enjoyed it so I wouldn’t necessarily take my word on this one.

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Luminaries by Susan Dennard

The Luminaries by Susan Dennard

The Luminaries #1

Published November 1, 2022 by Tor Teen

304 Pages

Goodreads Summary: Hemlock Falls isn’t like other towns. You won’t find it on a map, your phone won’t work here, and the forest outside town might just kill you.

Winnie Wednesday wants nothing more than to join the Luminaries, the ancient order that protects Winnie’s town—and the rest of humanity—from the monsters and nightmares that rise in the forest of Hemlock Falls every night.

Ever since her father was exposed as a witch and a traitor, Winnie and her family have been shunned. But on her sixteenth birthday, she can take the deadly Luminary hunter trials and prove herself true and loyal—and restore her family’s good name. Or die trying.

But in order to survive, Winnie enlists the help of the one person who can help her train: Jay Friday, resident bad boy and Winnie’s ex-best friend. While Jay might be the most promising new hunter in Hemlock Falls, he also seems to know more about the nightmares of the forest than he should. Together, he and Winnie will discover a danger lurking in the forest no one in Hemlock Falls is prepared for.

Not all monsters can be slain, and not all nightmares are confined to the dark.

Review: I’ve been reading less and less YA as the years go by but I cannot resist Susan Dennard. I adore her series, The Witchlands, so I knew I had to read this new book. Upon starting the first chapter, I was immediately intrigued by the setting and what Winnie was going to be up against. I’ve been getting more into horror lately so I loved that this seemed like it was going to be fantasy mixed with horror. The Luminaries are located not just in Hemlock Falls but in chapters all over the globe protecting areas against nightmares that are manifested by spirits of certain areas in the world. Almost like a Sam and Dean Winchester meeting the Men of Letters but just in one area of the country. Winnie and her family are currently outcasts of their society because of her father being revealed to be a Diana aka a witch traitor. Winnie desperately wants to be a hunter for the Luminaries so she does what she can to insert herself into the trials that every sixteen year old Luminary does… after all, there is no rule that says outcasts can’t attempt the trials. I absolutely loved Winnie and definitely felt a bond with her over all of the other characters. Everything that she went through in this book was equal parts terrifying and exhilarating. I am also extremely intrigued by Jay…. I feel like there is way more than meets the eye when it comes to Jay and I’m very much looking forward to book two to find out more about him. And I desperately need him and Winnie to just get over their hangups and get together! If you’re a fan of Supernatural, Charmed, or anything else along those lines I highly recommend checking out this book.

4 Stars

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.