Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: These Witches Don’t Burn (These Witches Don’t Burn #1) by Isabel Sterling

*No Major Spoilers*

Trigger Warnings: Toxic Relationship/Emotional Abuse

Hannah’s a witch, but not the kind you’re thinking of. She’s the real deal, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she’s ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly by Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans.

But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah’s concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire. Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah’s sure it’s the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.

While the pair attempt to smoke out the Blood Witch at a house party, Hannah meets Morgan, a cute new ballerina in town. But trying to date amid a supernatural crisis is easier said than done, and Hannah will have to test the limits of her power if she’s going to save her coven and get the girl, especially when the attacks on Salem’s witches become deadlier by the day.


Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I saw this book on TikTok, and it caught my eye because it reminded me of a book I read in the past, Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson. The cover also caught my eye having each of the girl characters as Tarot cards gives off a good vibe for what’s to come! So let’s summon the energies for my review of These Witches Don’t Burn.

First off, I have to say 3/4s of this book focuses on the breakup between Hannah and Veronica. Veronica is a toxic partner and she keeps trying to beg for Hannah’s forgiveness and tries to coerce her into them getting back together. I hated these parts of the story because Hannah is trying to stay strong against the things Veronica is saying, but having been raised together doesn’t make this an easy task. I almost gave up on this book because of the toxicity and remembering the event that caused this breakup.

However, after a major turning point in the story, the toxicity goes away and we go back to focusing on the mystery at hand. The mysterious person stalking Hannah and Veronica was somewhat predictable, however I felt like the clues were misleading a bit and the villain was in my pool of suspects, but after process of elimination, you’re only left with one option. So the mystery element of this novel overall is okay.

However, certain points in the book was powerful emotionally with negative and positive ones. I felt like I was Hannah in those moments and not just someone observing her story. Even though this story is told in first person, I often feel like more of an observer of the events in the story rather than living through the character. Not sure if that’s a quirk of mine or just not being able to relate to characters sometimes.

Overall, this book was alright, I remember Undead Girl Gang more fondly even with all of it’s moments of melodrama, but These Witches Don’t Burn is saturated with melodrama and it makes so much of the story suffer in my opinion. So if you’re a fan of melodrama with a dash of mystery then this book is for you. If not then I’d check out Undead Girl Gang.

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Honky Tonk Samurai (Hap and Leonard #9) by Joe R. Lansdale

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*No Major Spoilers*

Only Hap and Leonard would catch a cold case with hot cars, hot women, and ugly skinheads.

The story starts simply enough when Hap, a former 60s activist and self-proclaimed white trash rebel, and Leonard, a tough black, gay Vietnam vet and Republican with an addiction to Dr. Pepper, are working a freelance surveillance job in East Texas. The uneventful stakeout is coming to an end when the pair witness a man abusing his dog. Leonard takes matters into his own fists, and now the bruised dog abuser wants to press charges.

One week later, a woman named Lilly Buckner drops by their new PI office with a proposition: find her missing granddaughter, or she’ll turn in a video of Leonard beating the dog abuser. The pair agrees to take on the cold case and soon discover that the used car dealership where her granddaughter worked is actually a front for a prostitution ring. What began as a missing-person case becomes one of blackmail and murder.

I was recommended this series through a user on Reddit. Someone was looking for novels about gay detectives, and this was one of the recommendations. I chose this novel purely on the title, the other novels in this series have unique titles as well so let’s jump into Honky Tonk Samurai!

This novel is one of the more memorable detective novels I’ve read. Honky Tonk Samurai is filled with colorful characters, non-stop action, and redneck/Texas humor. I will say that the language used is very vulgar. So if you’re not into that kind of thing, you might want to pass on this one. In defense of the choice words and jokes, I felt like that was part of the charm.

Hap and Leonard have great chemistry! You can tell they’ve been through a lot together. Leonard made me laugh at his love of vanilla cookies and Dr. Pepper. That kind of reminds me of myself, I love cookies and Dr. Pepper.

The main plot twist left me baffled, but in the end, it all made sense once all of the pieces were put together. So bonus points for me not guessing the mystery! Usually, I’m able to figure out the mystery about halfway through the book. This one kept me guessing and I really liked that about it.

More on Hap and Leonard’s chemistry, with them being like brothers from another mother, it was a nice change of pace from a lot of the other stories I’ve read in recent weeks. Leonard, I’d say, is the rougher of the two characters even though he’s gay. He’s one that does not mess around when it comes to protecting those that need it. Hap, on the other hand, is more of the mediator type, kind of like keeping the rough part of Leonard in control when necessary.

Overall this book was something new and interesting that I’d never heard of or thought to look up, the subject matter was a bit different but extremely interesting! If you like a story about rough and tough southern boys and some redneck action, this is most definitely the book for you! Although, like I said if crude and vulgar language isn’t your thing then this book is kind of a pass.