• book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Woods of the Raven by Mary Calmes

    Woods of the Raven – Mary Calmes

    Something wicked this way comes…and it might be too late to stop it. Xander Corey lives simply, sustainably, on the outskirts of Osprey, a small, quaint town in Upstate New York. He’s a librarian when the town’s budget can afford him, a good friend, kind neighbor, and also, a witch. And while that’s of no concern to anyone around him, there are others, non-humans, who have a vested interest in Xander’s family land. Xander knows something dark and dangerous is brewing. He’s just not quite sure what.

    And that’s not the only mystery he’s dealing with. The new chief of police is, by turns, giving him heart palpitations and homicidal thoughts. Xander can’t decide if the gorgeous yet infuriating Lorne MacBain is on his side, or trying to drive him insane. Added to that, the man doesn’t believe in magic, and since that’s who Xander is, their future looks anything but bright.

    But Lorne is not the unimaginative, stick-in-the-mud Xander thinks he is. And a rock to anchor him as his life is turning upside down is just the thing Xander needs. Now if only the two of them can stay alive…

    The cover is gorgeously atmospheric!

    I’m familiar with Mary Calmes as I’ve seen many of her works. Woods of the Raven is my first read from her, and needless to say, I have high expectations from a veteran author.

    The premise (and the cover) immediately caught my attention. A small town in New York with its very own guardian witch watching over the land. It is something I would call a witch procedural. It is very rich in witchcraft with an emphasis on the “craft” part.

    MC Xander Corey goes around town offering advice, explaining arcane stuff, helping people cleanse their homes, making potions, wreaths, and something called witch ladder, which he also sells at the fair. He donates the proceeds to animal charities because his magic is a gift. Therefore he cannot accept payments. The book goes into detail in the makings of the items as well steps in doing the rituals.

    The story reads very much like a cozy slice of life that stumbled upon a murder mystery. Romance comes in the form of the hunky new sheriff, Lorne Macbain, who brought the crime to Xander’s notice because it happened near his property.

    Having antagonistic run-ins with the sheriff before, Xander was surprised to learn that those were rather confusing attempts by the sheriff to get his attention. Apparently, the poor man has been crushing on the town witch for a while but Xander was oblivious.

    Unfortunately, I wasn’t a fan of the storytelling. Whatever plot the novel had was buried under piles of explanations and info-dumps. While I enjoy being educated in witchcraft, the story also felt the need to cram all the possible lore and magical creatures known, in addition to the Corey family background and town history. And so, sadly, the magic is lost in all that telling. Also, a bit confusing to those not very familiar with western folklore.

    I love standalone novels, but this one could use a sequel or two so there would be room to show the other events rather than sacrifice plot, character, and romantic development for explanations. Because heck, even the romance was lackluster in its failure to build palpable chemistry.

    I also felt we only skimmed the surface of Xander’s and Lorne’s characters. Also, Xander’s best friend Amanda was a strong woman in theory but in action was an overbearing caricature. I wished her character was executed better.

    However, the story did exceptionally well in the boss fight scene because it was thrilling and action-packed with awesome displays of wild magic. This is what Xander was born to do, and boy, was he bad ass!

    Woods of the Raven had a great premise but suffered in its delivery. Goes to show a little telling goes a long way.

    2.5 Stars – far from hate but not quite a like

    Soundtrack: When The Raven Calls
    Artist: Spirit of the Woods

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    REVIEW: Hexhunter by Jordan L. Hawk

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    Hexworld: Hexhunter – Jordan L. Hawk

    Detective Bill Quigley fell in love with the familiar Isaac the night they met. But after more than two years, it’s time to admit to himself that Isaac doesn’t return his feelings. 

    Isaac knows he’s too broken by his experiences for anyone to fall in love with. Especially someone like Bill, who deserves a partner unplagued by Isaac’s nightmares and doubts. 

    When children go missing from an orphanage, Bill and Isaac must work together to find them. And as years of yearning threaten to ignite into passion, they must decide once and for all whether to take a chance on love.

    Hexworld is a brilliant Jordan L. Hawk creation set in alternate New York run by hexes and magic is channeled through a combination of witches and familiars. Any witch and familiar may bond but the strongest magic comes from the bonding of a fated familiar and witch pair. There are three books and some novellas released so far, each couple bringing their own unique dynamics. I loved all the stories!

    Hexhunter stood out for having a witch and familiar pair not fated to each other. In this world, familiars have the raw end of the deal, forced to bond with a witch or not even considered human. In book one, Hexbreaker, we learned Isaac was treated horribly by his fated witch and he was forced to quit the Metropolitan Witch Police. He was later forced bonded with another, kept imprisoned in his mastiff form and drained of magic. He was rescued by Tom and Cicero with the help of Bill Quigley, who quickly fell in love with Isaac.

    Isaac and Bill slow-burned their way through several books and every Hexworld fan has been waiting for their moment. After several books, the plot has gotten a bit predictable but I don’t really mind. I’ve been rooting for these two.

    The familiar has PTSD and the book dealt with Isaac’s journey to recovery. Because of past abuses, he is slow to trust and thinks he is tainted because his magic is drawn to bad men. He constantly puts himself down and considers himself unworthy. Bless Bill and his big heart! He was exactly what Isaac needs. With infinite patience and a lot of TLCs, he showed Isaac his true worth. Theirs was the softest romance of them all. Those years finally paid off!

    Isaac ran his hand lightly over Bill’s chest. “Worth the wait?”

    “Aye.” Bill kissed Isaac’s hair. “ Worth everything.”

    The abuse of familiars and the desire to control them has been the main conflict in the series. This book once again tackled this threat. The big bad villain who remained unseen and only spoken in secret, masterminded a plot of manipulating familiar forms with hexes. Children from the orphanage were kidnapped and thought to be subjected to this inhumane treatment. As with other JLH books (e.g. Whyborne & Griffin), long lost relatives were not to be trusted and some parental units are just not worth it.

    The world-building is top-notched as usual and skillfully interwoven with actual historical events and mythological stories, that of the 1900s archaeological excavations in Knossos and the story of the Minotaur. I love how this part was put into good use in the climax. Bill blindly running around in the dark, creepy noises, monsters lurking, all classic edge of your seat fun.

    A big hoorah for all the appearances of the rest of the gang, Tom and Cicero, Owen and Mal (my favorite couple), Nick and Jamie, and Dominic and Rook. Of course, Cicero and his big mouth stole the show in every scene he is in. He got Isaac in trouble once again, this time causing friction between Isaac and Sionn, an owl familiar and Isaac’s officemate, who was also interested in Bill. Sionn’s a good guy so I hope he gets his own book and *fingers crossed* it’s him and Valentine, the journalist.

    All too often, Hexworld magic is blind and connects a familiar and witch seemingly at random. Unlike the other books where it plays a pivotal role in the pairing, Hexhunter is about healing and making a choice. Because sometimes, it’s better to choose a good witch than the right witch.

    Magic ain’t everything .


    Hexworld books here.
    Jordan L. Hawk books here.

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Euphoria, Take My Hand
    Artist: Glasvegas
    Album: Euphoric Heartbreak

  • book,  Uncategorized

    Hexworld: Wild WIld Hex – Jordan L. Hawk

    Can a lawman witch find love with an outlaw familiar?

    After weeks spent tracking down the gentleman bandit Rafael, Hexas Ranger Enoch Bright finally has the outlaw in his sights. He doesn’t expect to find out Rafael is his familiar.

    When Enoch runs afoul of the murderous Bone Gang, he and Rafael strike a deal to take down the gang together. As lawman and outlaw work together, Enoch soon realizes the next thing the gentleman bandit steals will be his heart.

    Can a lawman witch find love with an outlaw familiar?

    After weeks spent tracking down the gentleman bandit Rafael, Hexas Ranger Enoch Bright finally has the outlaw in his sights. He doesn’t expect to find out Rafael is his familiar.

    When Enoch runs afoul of the murderous Bone Gang, he and Rafael strike a deal to take down the gang together. As lawman and outlaw work together, Enoch soon realizes the next thing the gentleman bandit steals will be his heart.

    A Hexworld novella set in the heart of Texas featuring a hawk familiar and the only black ranger in the west. With fast-paced gun slinging action and a train heist, it’s almost as fun as the main novels only that it is too short. The witch+familiar magic is as fascinating as ever and it was interesting to see the dynamics work out there in the wilds. I hope Enoch and Rafael visit New York and meet the other guys 


    Reviews on Hexworld books here


    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: Hello Hawk
    Artist: Superchunk
    Album: Come Pick Me Up

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36489289-wild-wild-hex)

  • book,  Uncategorized

    Hexworld: Hexslayer – Jordan L. Hawk

    Horse shifter Nick has one rule: never trust a witch.

    Nick has devoted his life to making his saloon a safe haven for the feral familiars of New York. So when a brutal killer slaughters a feral under his protection, Nick has no choice but to try and catch the murderer. Even if that means bonding with a handsome Irish witch.

    Officer Jamie MacDougal came back from the war in Cuba missing part of a leg and most of his heart. After his former lover becomes one of the killer’s victims, Jamie will do anything to solve the case.

    Nick comes to Jamie with a proposal: after making a temporary bond, they will work together to stop the murders. Once the killer is caught, they walk away and never see one another again.

    It sounds simple enough. But the passion that flares between the two men won’t be so easily extinguished. And if Nick can’t learn to trust his witch, he stands to lose everything—including his life.

    I was excited to read this installment since there were a lot of hype and 5-star reviews and I could definitely say they were all very much well-deserved! Hexslayer is my favorite addition to this series so far. It was longer than the other books but I couldn’t stop reading it. The action and mystery got me hooked from the beginning. I was also happy that the other couples had a lot of page time and I am looking forward to more of that in the next book (hopefully Isaac and Bill Quigley). This book is everything but missed the 5-star mark by a hair’s breadth meaning I loved everything about it, I liked Nick and Jamie, I like them together but their romance wasn’t quite as squee-inducing as I hoped. However that is just me as other people were pretty happy with the two of them. Overall, still the best book of the series to date.

    P.S. I want a Hexworld movie. Somebody make this happen please!

    4.5 – perfection is only half a step away

    Soundtrack:  Wooden Horse
    Artist: Suzanne Vega
    Album: Solitude Standing

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36225312-hexslayer)

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    Hexworld: Hexmaker – Jordan L. Hawk

    A straight-laced policeman. A lighthearted thief. A murdered millionaire.

    Fox shifter Malachi steals for one of the biggest crime rings in New York City. But when he witnesses the murder of a millionaire, the only person who can keep him safe is Dr. Owen Yates, forensic hexman for the Metropolitan Witch Police—and Malachi’s witch.

    Owen is horrified to discover his familiar is an uneducated thief. Even worse, Malachi threatens to unleash Owen’s deepest desires…desires Owen can’t act upon, as he’s destined for an arranged marriage to secure the Yates family fortune

    Their agreement: Malachi will be Owen’s lover as well as his partner, until the day of the wedding. But as their hunt for the murderer carries them from teeming slums to Fifth Avenue mansions, Owens begins to realize Malachi commands his heart as well as his body.

    With dark forces drawing ever closer around them, Owen must decide whether to bow to the demands of duty, or to risk everything for the man he loves.

    In the Hexworld universe, New York is full of magic, witches and familiars. In book two, Hexmaker, we have Owen Yates whom we met in Hexbreaker, as the forensic hexman of the MWP and his familiar, the thief or should we say the reformed thief  and fox Malachi. I took an instant liking to the MCs as they are both beautiful skinny men and that they are both well-developed characters and Mal’s a ginger. The romance happened fast but was believable with some kinky bedroom play involved. The story was a fast-paced, finished-in-one sitting variety. It’s a mix bag of mystery, family drama and class conflict that also picked up threads from the theriarchy plot from the first book. All of these on top of a deftly written, well-conceived world run by hexes. Overall, a solid addition to the series.

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Heartsong
    Artist: The Paddingtons
    Album: No Mundane Options

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31949586-hexmaker)

  • Uncategorized

    Hexworld: The 13th Hex – Jordan L. Hawk

    Romance. Magic.

    Dominic Kopecky dreamed of becoming a member of New York’s Metropolitan Witch Police—a dream dashed when he failed the test for magical aptitude. Now he spends his days drawing the hexes the MWP relies on for their investigations.

    But when a murder by patent hex brings crow familiar Rook to his desk, Dominic can’t resist the chance to experience magic. And as the heat grows between Dominic and Rook, so does the danger. Because the case has been declared closed—and someone is willing to kill to keep it that way.

    The 13th Hex is the prequel short story to the all-new Hexworld series. If you like shifters, magic, and romance, you’ll love Jordan L. Hawk’s world of witch policemen and the familiars they bond with.

    This is where you get to find out about the witch and familiar whose relationship made Cicero green with envy in the first book, Hexbreaker


    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29474747-the-13th-hex )