BLOG TOUR – Black Arts, Tarts, and Gypsy Carts – REVIEW

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4.5 out of 5 stars.

Welcome! Today, I’m hosting another blog tour from Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. This time it’s for the book Black Arts, Tarts, & Gypsy Carts, the 2nd book in the Spells & Caramels series by Erin Johnson.  I absolutely love these books!

BLACK ARTS TARTS AND GYPSY CARTS

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Synopsis

With the Summer Sea Carnival visiting the enchanted island of Bijou Mer, Imogen jumps at the chance to help run the royal bakery booth. It’ll get her out of the palace and allow her to continue avoiding her feelings for a certain engaged prince.

Imogen’s plans to lay low are shattered when the world-famous necromancer, Madame Zerna, is found dead, sawed in half on the dark magician’s table and Imogen’s friend Rhonda is caught red-handed. With incriminating evidence piling up against Rhonda, Zerna’s rival, Imogen promises to help clear her name by finding the real murderer.

But between running the booth, encouraging Maple as she struggles to lead as head baker, and taking spell lessons from the friendly strong man, Imogen’s got her hands full. And it’s no easier getting information from the evasive dark magician or Madame Zerna’s secretive assistant. Even Rhonda’s hiding something.

With the Night of the Dead fast approaching, and Rhonda headed for a maximum security witch prison, Imogen races to unearth the real killer in time to save her friend. But in a mysterious carnival where nothing’s as it seems, will Imogen have the magical powers to keep from being on the chopping block herself?

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Review

I loved this book and even tho’ it doesn’t quite have that extra pizzazz to put it up to a 5-star rating, it’s a solid 4.5 in my opinion.

I adore the characters in this series. Imogen, Maple, Iggy, and Hank have all become almost like friends to me and I really care about what happens to them and how they react to situations. Imogen’s a little too impulsive for my personal taste, but she at least does slow down and think sometimes, just not all the time. I still love her though. I love her enthusiasm and her intelligence. She’s a good friend to Maple and Iggy as well.

The setting of Bijou Mer is great. I love the descriptions of the area and buildings. Ms. Johnson does a nice job of discussing the settings without going overboard with her descriptions. I’m able to easily imagine the carnival grounds, the cemetery they visit, etc.

The plot line moves along steadily.  There were two villains. One I knew from the start. The other wasn’t quite as obvious and I was actually disappointed because I had liked the character a lot and hated to see him as a villain.

All in all, it’s a fantastic installment in the series and I highly recommend it! I do recommend starting with the first book, Seashells, Spells, and Caramels as there is backstory that you need to understand. You can find my review for that book here.

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About the Author

ErinJohnson

 

A native of Tempe, Arizona, Erin spends her time crafting mysterious, magical, romance-filled stories that’ll hopefully make you laugh. In between, she’s traveling, napping with her dogs, eating with her friends and family, and teaching Pilates (to allow her to eat more).

 

 

 

Author Links

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Thanks for joining me today for another wonderful blog tour about a fantastic book! If you wish to visit other sites on the blog tour, please click on the banner below!

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The Swallow’s Nest – REVIEW

4 out of 5 stars.

Today, I’m happy to bring you a review of the newest book by Emilie Richards, The Swallow’s Nest. For the most part, I really enjoyed this book, but I’ll explain why it only received four stars down below.

Book Cover: The Swallow's Nest by Emilie Richards - a young white woman with long dark brown hair holding a curly, blond haired toddler boy.

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Synopsis

When Lilia Swallow’s husband, Graham, goes into remission after a challenging year of treatment for lymphoma, the home and lifestyle blogger throws a party. Their best friends and colleagues attend to celebrate his recovery, but just as the party is in full swing, a new guest arrives. She presents Lilia with a beautiful baby boy, and vanishes.

Toby is Graham’s darkest secret, his son, conceived in a moment of despair. Lilia is utterly unprepared for the betrayal the baby represents, and perhaps more so for the love she begins to feel once her shock subsides. Now this unasked-for, precious gift becomes a life-changer for three women: Lilia, who takes him into her home and heart; Marina, who bore and abandoned him until circumstance and grief change her mind; and Ellen, who sees in him a chance to correct the mistakes she made with her own son, Toby’s father.

A custody battle begins, and each would-be mother must examine her heart, confront her choices and weigh her dreams against the fate of one vulnerable little boy. Each woman will redefine family, belonging and love and the results will alter the course of not only their lives, but also the lives of everyone they care for.

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Review

I really enjoyed the first half of this book. The story moved along at a decent pace, the characters were great, it was a delightful read. However, I only gave this book four stars because I felt the second half of the book was just way too long. I felt like it could have been about a third of the length it was and we still would have gotten all the pertinent information.

Our characters are all very strong-willed women. One of them doesn’t seem as strong-willed, but she finds her way and finds her backbone along the way. I enjoyed the interactions between the women and between the men in their lives for the most part. I’m not big on conflict, so of course those pieces weren’t so fun, but strong-willed women make some of the best characters in the world because they know what they want and they go for it with no punches pulled and no holds barred.

The setting descriptions were enough that I was able to imagine the places where the story took place and weren’t too overdone. I’m not always easy to please in this area, so it was nice to see these done well.

As I said above, the pace in the first half of the book was great. We moved along steadily and yet we weren’t moving along so fast that we missed important details. However, I really felt like the second half of the book dragged on and on. I felt that the second half could’ve been cut down to even a third of its original size and we still would have had enough details about the custody struggle.

The overall writing style is good. The prose flows well from section to section, chapter to chapter. I still recommend this book for those who like to read women’s fiction. Perhaps your view on the second half of the book will vary from mine!

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