A Witch’s Handbook of Kisses and Curses (by Molly Harper)

After the death of her grandmother, Nola becomes the head of her coven of witches. Her first duty is to travel from Ireland to Half Moon Hollow, Kentucky and retrieve four magical items –– talismans that contain the power to bind their arch rivals, a coven of witches who would use their powers for evil.

On arrival she literally runs into Jed, her enigmatic neighbor who goes to ridiculous lengths to avoid being outside when the moon is out. He’s hiding something but exactly what it is she can’t quite figure out.

Molly Harper returns to Half Moon Hollow, Kentucky for what I think must be the sixth or seventh novel. I honestly have no idea how she does it. This series should be getting tired but once again she manages to deliver a book that enthralls from beginning to end with a very healthy dose of Molly Harper’s trademark snark. She’s a favorite author and this book is a good example of why.

Many thanks to Edelweiss and Pocket Books for providing me with this ARC

Levitating Las Vegas (by Jennifer Echols)

At the age of 14 both Holly and Elijah suffered mental breakdowns. They have been on medication ever since. But when they are forced off their meds by a delayed shipment, they realise their delusions might not have been delusions at all.

Levitating Las Vegas is difficult to define and almost impossible to review. It’s Mandrake the Magician, meets X-Men, meets Barbarella. There is some serious mind f_ckery going on in this book and at times it’s a very uncomfortable read…and there are times which are just so bizarre I have no idea what to do with them.

The ratings for this book are all over the place and I can see why. It’s a book you’ll either love or loathe, there won’t be any in-betweens.

Many thanks to Pocket Star Books and Edelweiss for providing me with this ARC

The Dukes Tattoo (by Miranda Davis)

Disgraced many years earlier by the Duke of Ainsworth, Prudence Haversham has resigned herself to living as a spinster, but she’s not averse to exacting her revenge on the man who sullied her reputation. Her co-conspirotors drug and kidnap him and put a ribald tattoo on his private parts.

The Duke of Ainsworth is determined to track down the culprits and exact his own revenge, but the only clues he has are Prudence’s startling blue / green eyes which he caught a glimpse of through his opium haze, and a jar of medicinal cream.

When he finally tracks her down he sets his plans into motion, but she isn’t at all what he expected and as they clash wits he comes to value her and then love her.

I don’t really read historical romance. I’ve tried a few times but my over-active imagination gives all the characters bad teeth and the smell you would expect when you consider toilet paper wasn’t invented for another 100 years. But this book is great fun…it works on nearly every level. I even started to enjoy the language which admittedly took a little getting used to. It’s a game changer, one of those rare books that can introduce people to a new genre of fiction.

If I have one criticism, it’s the cover. Great book, but the cover is a disaster.

Binds (by Rebecca Espinoza)

(Disclosure:  Rebecca Espinoza is a Goodreads friend of mine. Because I have that relationship with her I was a bit nervous about reading this, her debut novel and I read it quietly and without telling anyone.)

“Mages are split into two groups, Naturals and Ascendants. When a Natural is born, they already have all of the ability that they will ever have in their lives. They can’t acquire any new abilities and they can’t perform Binds on anyone. Ascendants, on the other hand, come into their powers around the age of five. They all have a certain level of power. Some children will show an immense amount from the get-go…”

Ophelia is a mage of unparalleled power. As a child her mother placed binds on her powers in the hope of hiding her from those who would use her. But after her mother disappeared she found herself in the hands of the very people her mother was trying to protect her from. After escaping with her chauffeur she enters into an underground she never knew existed, and discovers she is the main weapon of an army that aims to overthrow the tyranny of her husband and his father.

This book is kind of amazing. I read books that come out of major publishers that aren’t as polished as this independently released novel. OK, it’s a debut novel and as you would expect her influences come through in this book and occasionally they come through quite strongly…but this book completely blew me out of the water. In 10 years time I think I’m going to be the coolest person in the room when I say, ‘Oh Rebecca Espinoza?  I knew her way back when.”

On the Jellicoe Road (by Melina Marchetta)

At the age of 11 Taylor was abandoned by her mother on the Jellicoe Road.  Now 17,  the closest person she has had to a mother for the past 6 years, Hannah has disappeared without a trace. As Taylor starts to pull at the threads she finds that her past is interwoven with that of five friends who met on the Jellicoe Road nearly 20 years earlier.

It’s hard to avoid superlatives when talking about this book. It’s nothing short of a masterpiece. From page one I was completely drawn in and overwhelmed by Taylor and her friends.

5 Amazing Stars.