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    SERIES REVIEW: The ABCs of Spellcraft Books 1.5-4 by Jordan Castillo Price

    The ABCs of Spellcraft is a series filled with bad jokes and good magic, where MM Romance meets Paranormal Cozy. A perky hero, a brooding love interest, and delightfully twisty-turny stories that never end up quite where you’d expect. The books are best read in order, so be sure to start at the beginning with Quill Me Now.

    This is a series that makes you think twice about greeting cards.

    This JCP creation features a unique magic system that combines written words and painted pictures, where the expression ‘a way with words‘ takes on a literal meaning.

    The right part of the magic is the Scrivener, a person who can put together certain words, like a wish for good luck or good harvest. This takes skill because careless expressions are open to interpretation or have loop holes that leave room for things to go awry. The most powerful Scrivener in a family is called the Hand.

    The left part of the magic is the Seer, a left-handed person who can paint the Seen, a picture that captures the essence of the spell. This is where the Scrivener writes his spell in order to activate it. Seers are rare and therefore much valued among Spellcrafters.

    Dixon is from a family of Spellcrafters. He came late into his ability. In the first book, Quill Me Now, he met Yuri, a Seer, when he joined a greeting card contest that was actually a ploy to trap Spellcrafters.

    Dixon is very much determined to see the good side of ANYTHING. That’s in caps because the man is forever brimming with good cheer and positivity. He doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. And he talks, A LOT. Yuri is the menacing, brooding type who doesn’t think too highly of people. He’s blunt, a man of few words and slow to trust but as the series progress, you could see his walls slowly coming down around Dixon.

    The following books continue their story as they search for Uncle Fonzo. Fonzo is the Hand of the Penn Family. He disappeared a year before, leaving his Quill behind.

    This is a review of books 1.5 to 4. Book 1, Quill Me Now was originally part of a multi-author series, Bad Valentine. Review here.

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    1.5 The ABCs of Spellcraft: All That Glitters – Jordan Castillo Price

    Yuri meets Dixon’s parents for the first time.

    He was his usual stoic, manly self but you could tell Yuri’s nervous about meeting Dixon’s mom and dad. You could also tell that he did not shower after having a good time with Dixon. Hence, the glitters.

    This is a must-read for anybody wanting a look at the Penn family dynamics. I love the Penns and their weird food! Yuri totally won them over and not just because he’s a Seer.

    “I can always put some glitter in my 5 o’clock shadow the next time we go there,” Dixon offered. “Make them think it’s something all the cool kids are up to these days.”

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Life, Love and Laughter
    Artist: Donavon Frankenreiter
    Album: Pass It Around

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    2. The ABCs of Spellcraft: Trouble in Taco Town – Jordan Castillo Price

    Road trip!

    When Dixon and Yuri head for Taco Town, they’re hoping to track down Uncle Fonzo. What they find instead is a fiasco. Is it sabotage? A curse? Or is it just a bunch of badly worded Spellcraft?

    The small Minnesota berg is a tourist destination featuring a memorable roadside attraction: The Big Taco. It’s not actually edible, but there’s a flock of birds passing through that never got the memo.

    One thing’s for sure, Fonzo has been there. Not only do plenty of folks recognize his photo, but they paid him to solve certain problems…all of which are now exponentially worse. Dixon wants to chalk it up to a run of bad luck. Yuri knows a con man when he sees one, and while he doesn’t relish the thought of destroying Dixon’s hero, he wouldn’t mind knocking the guy down a few pegs.

    But there’s definitely something screwy about the Spellcraft they uncover. And they’d better figure out how to repair it before the Big Taco is reduced to crumbs—and with it, the livelihood of all their new friends.

    Fonzo is a con-man as far as Yuri is concerned. I agreed with him. Fonzo is a con-man’s name, if ever there was one. A case of bird infestation, exploding tomatoes and risque snowglobes all point to it. Dixon is convinced there’s some other explanation.

    It’s a great mystery that forever left me guessing. My assumptions were turned on their heads. The people they met were delightfully quirky. The story was fun, weird and totally silly.

    Also, they made it official!

    “It sounds better in Russian.” ~ ♡

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: By the Time It Gets Dark
    Artist: Yo La Tengo
    Album: Prisoner of Love

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    3. The ABCs of Spellcraft: Something Stinks at the Spa – Jordan Castillo Price

    Mineral spas are so calm and relaxing…unless they smell like a derrière at a bean-lover’s convention, that is!

    Dixon and Yuri have a hot tip that Uncle Fonzo is taking the waters at Spring Falls Hot Spring Spa. Not only is the spring stinky enough to make your eyes water—but the foul odor reaches peak level just as the resort is gearing up for a visit from an important critic that will make or break its reputation.

    Normally, this wouldn’t be Dixon’s problem…except it appears that a piece of his uncle’s Spellcraft might be responsible. He can’t be entirely sure, though, since that particular slip of paper managed to go through the shredder.

    Dixon and Yuri pitch in to help the spa’s owner appease a jilted bride, an obnoxious businessman, and the world’s most boring critic while they scramble to reconstruct the shredded Spellcraft. Can they fix the wonky spell before it does any permanent damage? Or will all their efforts at saving the spa end up swirling down the drain?

    More spellcraft silliness as Dixon and Yuri stop by the spa Uncle Fonzo ‘helped’. Their improvisation skills were tested when Dixon volunteered to be the aesthetician and Yuri, the masseuse, to help the beleaguered spa owner impress a critic. It was hilarious!

    I love how the situation brought out Yuri’s selfless side. Dixon did not a miss a thing.

    “How cruel would it be for me to drop a massive L-bomb on you when you’re pretty much out for the count?”

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Go With the Flow
    Artist: Queens of the Stone Age
    Soundtrack: Songs for the Deaf

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    4. The ABCs of Spellcraft: Dead Man’s Quill – Jordan Castillo Price

    It’s all fun and games until someone loses a hand.

    Dixon has been dying to introduce Yuri to Uncle Fonzo, the Hand of his family, and now he’ll finally get that chance. All they need to do is meet him at a traveling carnival with an unused piece of Spellcraft. Easy peasy, right? Not even a little. And even worse, they might encounter a clown.

    From a lackluster carnival with a booby-trapped tour bus to the decrepit mausoleum behind an old mental asylum, the Spellcraft leads Dixon and Yuri on a goose chase that’s not only wild…but deadly.

    They finally caught up to Uncle Fonzo who soon involved them in a heist. We meet another spellcrafting family who were a lot more sinister than the Penns. Dixon fell into a trap and you can tell how strongly Yuri felt about his man by the way he willingly sacrificed a Seer’s most valuable assets, his hands, to save Dixon.

    You’re family now, too.

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Price I Pay
    Artist: Jane’s Addiction
    Soundtrack: Strays

    The ABCs of Spellcraft is more humorous than the author’s other series. It is a quest and a road trip where Dixon and Yuri meet quirky characters in quirky places as they pick up Uncle Fonzo’s trail. As promised, it’s very twisty-turny, throwing me for a loop several times just when I thought I knew where it’s going. The world-building flowed seamlessly. I loved all the ridiculous situations the two men get themselves into.

    Alongside all the silliness is a sweet romance between a Scrivener and a Seer who couldn’t be more different from each other. I enjoyed the contrast between their ‘voices’. I especially loved the way the author portrayed these characters. You can tell she wrote them with much affection.

    I had as much fun with this series as Psycop and Mnevermind. I want more adventures for Dixon and Yuri. Recommended if you like tricky magic, wacky road trips and fancy handwriting.


    I don’t know how she does it, but JCP‘s book models on her covers are always on point. It’s a pet peeve of mine when the models don’t match the characters. Those boys there really looked like Dixon and Yuri. Nice!

    JCP books here.

  • song,  Uncategorized

    SOUNDTRACK: Life, Love & Laughter by Donavon Frankenreiter, By the Time It Gets Dark by Yo La Tengo, Go With The Flow by Queen’s of the Stone Age & Price I Pay by Jane’s Addiction

    Soundtrack to The ABCs of Spellcraft: All That Glitters by Jordan Castillo Price

    Soundtrack to The ABCs of Spellcraft: Trouble in Taco Town by Jordan Castillo Price

    Soundtrack to The ABCs of Spellcraft: Something Stinks at the Spa by Jordan Castillo Price

    Soundtrack to The ABCs of Spellcraft: Dead Man’s Quill by Jordan Castillo Price