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Book Review – Pooka in My Pantry (Monster Haven #2) By R.L. Narquin

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Ok I know I know… I just reviewed the first book in this series last week. You can read all about it HERE. But I did warn you that I had these next 2 instalments lined up to read… And sometimes you want to be reassured that the subsequent books are worth your commitment to the series. So we’re back with Zoey after she’s dealt with her Incubus issues and the fact that the ‘hidden’ have decided she can help them all. This time there may or may not be a sea serpent giving birth in her pool… and fairies laughing…a lot….

You might think fairy laughter would be light and bubbly and tinkling, like tiny bells. In truth, what greeted me on my lawn were raucous snorts, high pitched squealing and a smattering of applause from hands so small it sounded like someone popping bubble wrap two rooms away. Apparently, my purple, green and gold glitter-fairy costume was freakin’ hilarious.

This book was totally enjoyable, almost as good as the first! The style kept to the light and fun formula that made me a fan first time round. Nothing too heavy or too complicated, which is certainly the charm of this series. It’s reading for pure enjoyments sake and I’m definitely not above that! We get to see our favourite closet monster, Maurice again and I love how Zoeys relationship with him is deepening. We also see the other usual suspects; Riley is back as current love interest/Reaper and it’s actually his involvement with Zoey that is what drives most of the storyline in this book. (Insert a gripe, they seriously need to go hide somewhere just so they can pash in peace for a second! Sheesh) Throw in some new very outlandish characters such as the Pooka (had to Google that one!) and some Leprechauns and you’ve got a very interesting array of beings entertaining you.

It does delve a bit deeper into the disappearance of Zoey’s mother. I really enjoyed how the author put the time into fleshing out the past bits, because they obviously impact a lot on the current day predicaments that Zoey is facing. Nothing worse in a story than a vague reference to something in the past that then is never fully explained! So in this book we start to build up a picture on what her mum was doing and we meet some new characters that were involved and knew her. Pages well spent in my opinion. There has been effort put in to weave some long term storylines into this series and that starts to become evident in this book, this instalment ends with a bigger cliff-hanger than the last, with many more unanswered questions. It was a good attempt at layering the story with depth, because I suspect as the series progresses even though the charm of this book is it’s light and easy fairytale like quality, you still really do need something to grip onto otherwise it could start to lose pace.

All and all it was a good Easter Sunday read. It hasn’t changed my world, but I didn’t need it to. I just needed to be entertained, and Zoey, Maurice and the rest of their clique were exactly what I needed to go with my Creme Eggs.

Book Review – Monster in My Closet (Monster Haven #1) By R.L. Naquin

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Wow! So I’m back in my Fantasy headspace. I ‘accidentally’ bought a few too many books on the weekend in this genre to prove it. This book was in that bunch of purchases, I’m not even 100% sure how I stumbled across this series, but I am SO glad I did! For me this was a match made in heaven. Most of the UF I’ve been reading lately have been serious business, intense and sometimes a bit scary (I’m a big fraidy cat!) So what a welcome change it was to read one that was exactly what I’d imagine fairy tales for adults would be like.

I knew those hands. I clutched the toilet brush against myself as if it had the power to ward off nightmares. In the flash of a forgotten memory, I could see those hands grabbing at my doorframe, reaching to snatch out my eyes. My skin was clammy with terror ripened by over twenty years of repression and denial. I was five again, and monsters were real.

Erm… sounds a bit ominous doesn’t it? Real monsters! Trust me, this doesn’t turn out how you’d expect at all. Turns out that yes monsters are real, in this case the monster is a closet monster named Maurice… But don’t worry the whole thing about ‘snatching out eyes’ was a misunderstanding because actually Maurice is a big sweetheart. And a kickass chef. Which has pretty much made me certain that I in-fact NEED a closet monster in my house. Especially if he can cook like this:

The flavours mixed together on my tongue as if the muffin was made from a magical fruit that grew on an orangeberry tree situated in a vanilla-scented orchard shaded by double rainbows and watered exclusively with unicorn tears.

Uh…also there’s this…

“Did you mop the floor? It’s all…clean.” – Zoey to Maurice

So yes, I’m obsessed with Maurice. I actually need to recruit a closet monster. I cannot live another day without being able to eat such delicious sounding muffins…. and clean floors are always a bonus in life! Of course there is much more to this story than Maurice and his amazing cooking/cleaning skills! SO…. The story is based around Zoey, She’s a wedding planner who lives quite happily alone and unaware of anything even vaguely supernatural, until Maurice shows up and soon after more weird and wonderful creatures as well, all needing safe haven and help. From here life gets very very interesting!

In this book you’ll encounter everything from a demon incubus to reapers, dragons, brownies and a few things in-between. The beauty being, that all of these creatures have an almost quirky whimsical fairy tale feel to them. There are definitely good guys and bad guys, definitely serious situations and threats and death. The story is by no means one dimensional. There are poignant moments and there is sadness. But overall it’s fun. Amongst even the most serious or sad parts it’s still upbeat. It doesn’t dwell on the horrific. Even the bad guys resolution is quick and to the point so we can get back to enjoying Zoey and her strange assortment of creatures. And I LOVED this about it. Sometimes you just want to enjoy the make-believe. Like the most fictional make-believe you can lay your hands on. Nothing that could ever occur in everyday life but sometimes you wish it could. This book was like a recaptured childhood imagination.

My BBH and I have a few female lead characters who we LOVE. For me, Zoey is definitely on her way to having a spot up in my most loved lead characters. For reasons that include the following (But are certainly not limited to):

Why is it, the more you brush a Barbie’s hair, the grosser it ends up getting? – Zoey’s musings

I tried to take a swallow from my wine glass to cover my silly smile, but it didn’t work. He was making me laugh. If I took a sip now it would likely spew out my nose. Aside from the extreme embarrassment involved, it would probably hurt like crazy. Not to mention, a waste of good wine. – Zoey on a date

A woman after my own heart…

This book really was an awesome read, In fact, I’ve already got the next 2 installments ready to go on my Kindle. I was going to try and spread them out…but I’ve decided I just can’t since I saw that book #4 is out April 21st…

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Book Review – Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate #1) – By Gail Carriger

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I have a soft spot for history, always love to read about it and totally don’t discriminate over which era or storyline it’s set in. So imagine my excitement when last Saturday night (because what else would I be doing on a Saturday night) I found this series, The Parasol Protectorate. Set in the 19th Century in London it follows the adventures and mishaps of a Miss Alexia Tarabotti. She is a spinster, an Italian with an apparently too prominent nose, a preternatural amongst humans, vampires, werewolves and ghosts. Being preternatural, her touch can ‘neutralize’ supernaturals back to human, another characteristic of being preternatural….she has no soul.

In Soulless, the first book of the series it sets a lot of the groundwork, background and character building for the series. The main story revolves around missing vampires, appearing vampires, agencies trying to get it all under control, scientists trying to experiment every way they can and Alexia being dragged into the middle of all of it.

I have to admit for the first 4 or so chapters I was wondering whether I was really going to get into this book. It was a pleasant enough read but I hadn’t been gripped into that ‘must read can’t put it down state.’ That changed soon enough. I was hooked. Alexia, the type of girl we think we would totally be if we were living in that world, wearing that many petticoats and dresses, fainting at this that and the other and worrying that someone might see our knees…. There was a description at one point about her that secured her as a kindred spirit to me:

“Miss Tarabotti, once composed, was generally of a peckish proclivity”

Food lover. What more can I say! Any girl, who orders food at a ball from the butler because there were no snacks, is a friend of mine.

The use of terms, language and niceties from that era mixed with the comedic relief of a girl who followed her own tangent wove to create a really unique character and reading experience. Yes I had to concentrate more to follow the story, but if it hadn’t been written in the tone correct for its time then the story wouldn’t have been nearly half as good. For example, From Alexia’s mother:

“You must make him marry her! Call for the parson immediately! Look at them… they are…” she sputtered, “canoodling!”

And from Alexia’s storyline:

To put the pudding in the puff: she had retreated to the library, her favourite sanctuary in any house, only to happen upon an unexpected vampire. She glared at the vampire. For his part, the vampire seemed to feel that their encounter had improved his ball experience immeasurably. For there she sat, without escort, in a low-necked ball gown.

As for the other characters, which include, Lord Conall Maccon, Earl of Woolsey (Alpha Werewolf) Professor Lyall (Beta Werewolf) Lord Akeldama (Probably the most flamboyant Vampire of those times) and that creepy automaton (I still cannot get this things description out of my head) They were all written with such distinct characteristics and voices that there was no chance of one blending into another.  Lord Maccons character does follow the general lead male gist and his and Alexia’s storyline does go much as you would expect it to in the paranormal romance genre but it was well balanced, fun and for those times, very very outrageous! (Far too much canoodling you could say!)

It was one of those nice quick reads you could get through in a couple of nights or less. Maybe a bit slow to get into but definitely worth it and riveting once you were in deep enough. So all and all, my history loving geek self and my urban fantasy geek self are both pretty pleased with what my Saturday night self picked. Even if you’re not sure about reading about petticoats, bloomers and proper manners, think about giving it a try. The humour and characters have a lot to give.

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