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Listen Up! Three Light-Hearted UF/PNR Series

Since it’s been a while since I’ve posted, I thought I would play catch-up with a multi-book review. My goal lately has been to listen to audiobooks I’ve already purchased instead of buying something new. I have over a thousand audiobooks in three accounts, after all. I should be able to find SOMETHING entertaining, right? I landed on three light-hearted urban fantasy/paranormal romance series that had good mysteries and fit my mood perfectly.

I’m not going to include the story descriptions in this review to save space, but I’ll include a link to the series’ Goodreads page for descriptions. I highly recommend all three of these series if you’re in the mood for belly laughs, mysteries, relatable problems, gorgeous men, and a touch of romance.

Ordinary Magic series by Devon Monk

I decided to listen to Devon Monk‘s Ordinary Magic series again. I like this series a lot. It’s quirky and fun, and Khristine Hvam, who also voices the Jane Yellowrock and Soulwood series, does a fantastic job. I’ve liked Devon Monk’s writing since her Ally Beckstrom series. Ordinary Magic is lighter-hearted than Ally, but the mystery is good and I’m eager to see where it goes.

While the first three books in this series are published in the unabridged, single-narrator format, Graphic Audio has the first five books available. Graphic Audio produces full-scale dramatizations, though somewhat abridged. I like both types of productions, but I’d like to stay consistent within a series, so I hope the rest of Ordinary Magic gets made with Hvam narrating. Please, Audible? Pretty please?

Betwixt and Between series by Darynda Jones

After Ordinary Magic, I tried several different audiobooks. Either the story or the narrator wasn’t fitting my mood until I landed on Darynda Jones‘s Betwixt, and I realized I was wanting some light-hearted brain candy rather than my typical serious UF. The signature humor from Jones’s Charley Davidson series is all over Betwixt, and I laughed out loud several times, which was exactly what I needed. Traci Odom does a great job as narrator, ensuring the humor lands just right. My only frustration is that the second and third books aren’t out yet in audio! Bewitched releases on March 30 (a week from now) and Beguiled releases on May 5. All three books are available now in eBook, though, so I might have to switch formats to get more of this delightful series.

Madison Fox series by Rebecca Chastain

I wanted to stick with this lighthearted theme, so I decided to listen to Rebecca Chastain‘s Madison Fox series in audio. Before the audio was released, I had previously read and enjoyed this series in ebook format. So I knew I’d like the story. I just hoped the narrator did it justice. And she did! Elise Arsenault does a beautiful job voicing the characters and bringing the story to life. There are a few shorts and novellas in this series not in audio, and I’d love to see an anthology narrated by Arsenault, along with more Madison Fox adventures. In the meantime, however, I get to reread Chastain’s Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles and catch up on her Terra Haven series, which is starting to appear in audio as well. Thank you, Tantor!

A Fistful of Frost by Rebecca Chastain

In the few weeks, she’s been on the job, Madison Fox has faced imps, vervet, possessed hounds, cito, demons, and other dark creatures of Primordium. Now she must face her biggest challenge yet: a job performance review.

See below for information on a time-sensitive special deal and a giveaway from the author!

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Title: A Fistful of Frost
Author: Rebecca Chastain
Series: Madison Fox, Book #3
Publish Date: May 8, 2018
Genre: Urban fantasy
Cover: Yocla Designs
Source: Provided by the author

Publisher’s Description: Madison’s job—and soul—are on thin ice.

Madison Fox is determined to reform Jamie, her half-evil pooka, but the bond linking her to Jamie works both ways. Already, it has manipulated her into bending the rules. If she continues down this path, she could doom her soul. Since her judgment can’t be trusted, a high-ranking inspector now dictates Madison’s every interaction with Jamie, and each directive drives them further apart.

Unfortunately, Madison has bigger issues than the potential degradation of her soul. Winter has struck with a vengeance. Frost moths plague the entire state, reinforcing the artificially frigid temperature. Worse, cold-blooded, soul-stealing enemies are flocking into her region from the north—creatures Madison has little defense against.

With the inspector scrutinizing her every misstep, Madison is in for the battle of her life. If she hopes to survive, she must make an impossible choice: save herself and her region or save Jamie.

An imaginative urban fantasy filled with heart, humor, and plenty of butt-kicking action—A Fistful of Frost is a book you won’t want to miss!

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

Invested Ivana says…

Madison Fox had only been on the job for a couple of weeks before she bonded with a pooka and caused an upheaval in her region. Now, the Collaborative Illumination Alliance (CIA) wants to test her, fearing that her association with the pooka may have corrupted her soul. So Madison has to face an intense job evaluation while dealing with a close-lipped boss, inadequate on-the-job training, a self-aware and temperamental manual, a misbehaving pooka, resentful co-workers, and supernatural creatures she’s never encountered before. It’s enough to make anyone lose their mind!

Since she’s been thrust into the supernatural world—years later than any of her counterparts and lacking all the information she needs—Madison has been floundering through odd situations and uncovering plots and schemes just by being the outsider. She’s also been used as a pawn because of her ignorance and inexperience, and she’s gained the reputation of being unpredictable, hard to handle, and probably dangerous.

So In A Fistful of Frost, she’s trying very hard to follow the rules, take direction from people who have more experience, and do exactly as she’s told. But doing so drives a wedge between her and her pooka, Jamie, and makes the CIA and her co-workers even more suspicious of her motives.

Because of my own past job experiences, I identified almost too much with Madison’s frustrations about her job—poorly trained and with few resources, she’s trying to do her job while following all the rules and meeting all the expectations of people who may or may not even know what they’re talking about. It’s something everyone who’s ever had a job has experienced at one time and makes Madison’s situation very easy to relate to.

When Madison finally tells everyone to go to hell and does what she thinks is right, she goes from being a vulnerable novice to an empowered enforcer, which is what every frustrated employee wants. As a reader, I felt victorious along with Madison when she declared her independence from everyone else’s agendas. I think we’ll see a different Madison in future adventures; not a perfect one, but one operating under her own agency who casts a more skeptical eye toward other people’s rules.

I enjoy this series immensely, which is why the first two books earned a Standout Award from me in 2015. I’m thrilled we get to see a new chapter in Madison’s life and hope there will be another on the way soon. 5 stars.

Our reviews in this series…

Special Deal

In honor of the release of A Fistful of Frost on May 8, you can get the first book in the series, A Fistful of Evil, FREE in ebook form from May 1 to May 5. Look for A Fistful of Evil and all of Rebecca Chastain’s books on Amazon.


Pre-order Giveaway: Order your copy of A Fistful of Frost between now and the release date on May 8, and you can receive a copy of the Madison Fox novelette, A Fistful of Flirtation.

Madison finally gets her date with Dr. Love—and if they had picked any other restaurant, she might have had a chance to enjoy it, too . . . 

Receive your free gift with purchase here:

Series Giveaway: From May 8 to May 30, enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card or the complete Madison Fox trilogy!

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Curse of the Gargoyles by Rebecca Chastain

2016-standout-award-badge-smallSomeone created a magic device to separate the elements, but it’s powered by the lives of gargoyles. The elite team of magic enforcers calls Mika in to help. Can she save the gargoyles? Can she save the city?

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Curse of the GargoyleTitle: Curse of the Gargoyles
Author: Rebecca Chastain
Series: Guardian Gargoyle Chronicles Book 02
Publish Date: May 18, 2016
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Provided by the author

Publisher’s Description: Mika Stillwater isn’t known for her skills with combat magic. As a gargoyle healer, she spends her days mending broken appendages and curing illnesses in the living-quartz bodies of Terra Haven’s gargoyles. But when a squad of the city’s elite Federal Pentagon Defense warriors requests her assistance in freeing a gargoyle ensnared in a vicious invention, Mika jumps into the fray.

No one could have predicted that her involvement would ignite a chain reaction set to destroy the city, the world, and magic itself.

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel (or, in other words, SPOILERS).

Nervous Nellie says…Nervous_Nellie_100

This is a novella length fantasy story with a lot of magic. There is no sex, a lot of quick thinking and ‘pull it out of your shorts’ technique but no blood and gore. There is a bit of relationship building and no cliffhanger.

IMG_0945A few months have passed and Mika is called to diffuse a ticking time bomb attached to a gargoyle that is dormant. Some stupid, jealous inventor has decided to make her own boost using a poor, sick, defenseless gargoyle for power.  Mika uses her magic to try to work with the “fab five” (my special name for the Federal Pentagon Defense full-five squad) in saving the lives of first the gargoyle and then when the situation turns for the worst, the whole city.

I liked the story because of the unity of the gargoyle family.  I loved to see how everyone worked together to solve a huge problem BUT I felt like Mika, who was really out of the league of the ‘fab five’, was pushed to work magic she had no idea how to work.  It’s like a seamstress trying to sew up a wound.  She could work the magic, but she has no experience to know how the magic will react.  That’s just me, though.  Someone else reading the story may have a totally different spin on the story.

I enjoyed the story and I’ll get novella #3 to see what happens, but the intense description of how the magic was used and how it reacted was way over my head.  That means the author had really thought out how everything worked which makes her a good writer but it also means that I was a reader that was overwhelmed by description.

Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

What drew me to this book: I really enjoyed The Magic of Gargoyles, so I was excited to see what was next for Mika, Kylie, and all the baby gargoyles rescued in Book 1.

Why I kept reading: This installment is packed with a lot more action than the first! Mika is surprised to be called in by the elite magic team for her assistance with a deadly problem. She struggles hard with feeling competent in this group of high-end magic users, waffling between insecure and competent. When things go bad, they all have to run fast to avoid being killed by the chaotic landscape caused by the rogue magic and to save the town and the gargoyles from destruction.

I will admit that I struggled to picture the magic system more in this book than I did in the first. I can tell it is an incredibly well thought-out system, but I had a hard time wrapping my head around what it would look like or feel like. That might be something I’d pick up more in a second reading.

badge4v4Why I recommend it: It’s another fun adventure in this fantastical world! No *baby* gargoyles this time around, but Oliver, one of the rescued gargoyles from Book 1, stays with Mika throughout all the danger. And Mika is still working hard to ensure that all the gargoyles in her city and safe and healthy.

Our reviews in this series…

Other reviews…

If you like this book…

For other adorable gargoyles and great stories, try the Allie Beckstrom series by Devon Monk, the Black Wings series by Christina Henry, and the Hollows by Kim Harrison.

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Secret of the Gargoyles by Rebecca Chastain

2016-standout-award-badge-smallMika risks her life, along with the lives of her gargoyle, Oliver, and her crush, Marcus, to save several gargoyles from a mysterious illness.

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Secret2Title:  Secret of the Gargoyles
Author:  Rebecca Chastain
Series: Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles Book 03
Publish Date:  June 22, 2016
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Source: Provided by the author

Publisher’s Description: I place the lives of all gargoyles into your hands with what I am about to tell you…

In her brief career as a gargoyle healer, Mika Stillwater has faced some daunting challenges, but none have stumped her—until now. A strange sickness infects a handful of gargoyles in Terra Haven, rendering them comatose and paralyzed. Worse, the cure she seeks is shrouded in the gargoyles’ mysterious culture and the secret they guard with their lives.

Gaining the gargoyles’ trust is only the first step. To save the sick gargoyles, Mika must embark on a perilous mission into the heart of deadly wild magic to a place no human has ever survived…

The captivating conclusion to the Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles trilogy, Secret of the Gargoyles will charm readers of all ages, especially those who love extraordinary magic and endearing gargoyles.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

What drew me to the book: Having just read, and loved, Magic of the Gargoyles and Curse of the Gargoyles, I couldn’t wait to read the third book in the trilogy. Book 2 hinted at the plot line of Book 3, and I HAD to know how that turned out. 😉

What kept me reading: Secret is probably my favorite book of the trilogy. It is sad and scary and romantic and lovely. I adore learning about new cultures, and Secret does a great job of creating a deeper culture for the gargoyles than we have yet seen.

Mika gets tested in this book in several ways. First, the whole adventure is a test of her dedication to the gargoyles. But Mika has to be extra brave because she’s taking on her mission with only the help of Oliver, her adolescent gargoyle; Celeste, an adult gargoyle who is mated to one of the sick creatures; and Marcus Velasquez, one of Grant Monaghan’s five Federal Pentagon Defense warriors. The rest of the FPD squad are unavailable and Mika’s friend, Kylie, is out of town as well.

While Velasquez agrees to help, he’s quite cranky with Mika, both for risking her own life too many times and because the romantic tension between them is growing without being acknowledged. Both Mika and Marcus question what the other may be feeling, even though the sparks are obvious to the reader.

When Mika finally reaches her destination, she’s taken over by a magic that is so big, so inhuman, that she is at risk of forgetting who and what she is. The struggle between the independent human and the massive gargoyle magic is what makes this book so intense. The writing does a great job of conveying the difference in perspectives between the two entities; I truly felt anxious for Mika and Marcus during that part of the book!

Mika and her gargoyles remind me of how I felt reading Anne McCaffrey’s Harper Hall trilogy for the first time–I was so in love with the idea of the fire lizards as loyal and loving creatures who were more like friends than pets. I recall thinking how honored I would feel if such a creature chose me over everyone else, and how hard I would fight to defend my friend. I feel the same about Mika’s gargoyles. I’m not yet ready to leave this series behind and hope there may be more Gargoyle Guardian adventures in the future.

badge5v4Why I recommend it: The world and writing are wonderful. If you have a soft spot for magical creatures, gems, and semi-precious stones, or sweet romances, you’ll really enjoy Secret of the Gargoyles.

Our reviews in this series…

If you like this book…

…you might try Chastain’s Madison Fox series, the Glory St. Clair series by Gerry Bartlett, or the Black Wings series by Christina Henry.

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Magic of the Gargoyles by Rebecca Chastain

2016-standout-award-badge-smallA mid-level earth elemental reaches down deep into her very soul to pull out a win against those that abuse mythical creatures. Go Mika!

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Magic of the GargoyleTitle: Magic of the Gargoyles
Author: Rebecca Chastain
Series: Guardian Gargoyle Chronicles
Publish Date: October 20, 2014
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Provided by the author

Publisher’s Description: Mika is a mid-level earth elemental with ambitions of becoming a quartz artisan, and her hard work is starting to get noticed. But when a panicked baby gargoyle insists Mika is the only person she’ll trust with her desperate mission, Mika must jeopardize everything she’s worked so hard for to save the baby gargoyle from the machinations of a monster—and to stay alive…

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel (or, in other words, SPOILERS).

Nervous_Nellie_100Nervous Nellie says…

This is a fantasy story that incorporates a lot of magic and mythical creatures. There is no sex, lots magical violence and an echo of serious animal abuse. Prepare for righteous indignation at the villainous treatment of baby gargoyles.

badge3v4This is a novella length story where Mika has to reach down deep in order to work up the courage and resources to save five little gargoyle hatchlings. This story parallels our world as well so be prepared if you are a serious animal lover.

There is success for the downtrodden heroine and a happy ending for the babies. It’s a good story to spend an afternoon reading.

Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

What drew me to this book: Saving baby gargoyles! I’m up for any book about saving animals, mythical or real, from horribly abusive humans. I’m also a fan of the author’s Madison Fox series.

Why I kept reading: It’s been a while since I’ve read a Rebecca Chastain novel, and I forgot how much I enjoy her writing. Like in the Fox series, the voice in Magic of the Gargoyles is clear and sweet; it’s glossy as opposed to gritty. There’s a lightheartedness to the stories, even though serious things do happen; and there is always humor.

The magic system Chastain creates is well thought-out and a lot of fun. Magic is based on the four elements; each element is good for doing different things. Mika is only a mid-level magic worker, but is particularly adept at working with quartz. Kylie’s magic is air based; I adore how she uses it to support her aspirations as a journalist. While the idea of elemental magic is not new in fantasy, it’s always fun to see how different authors will use the idea of the elements to create practical magic.

Chastain creates some lovable characters. I’m already attached to Mika, Kylie, and the baby gargoyles. Also like Fox, Mika is a normal “everygal” who discovers she has a rare talent. She’s not perfect, but does her best for the people around her. These are the kinds of characters to whom we can all relate.

badge4v4Why I recommend it: Magic of the Gargoyles is a tenderhearted novella that will leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling. It’s a great choice if you’re feeling sad or want a change from the gritty urban fantasy. I enjoyed it quite a lot and am happy there will be more stories to come about Mika, Kylie, and the gargoyles.

Other reviews in this series…

Other reviews…

If you like this book…

For other adorable gargoyles and great stories, try the Allie Beckstrom series by Devon Monk, the Black Wings series by Christina Henry, and the Hollows by Kim Harrison.

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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