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2019 Reading Challenge
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Book Reviews: Black Arts, Tarts & Gypsy Carts and Mermaid Fins, Winds & Rolling Pins by Erin Johnson

Recently I introduced you to Spells & Caramels , a fun magical series by the talented Erin Johnson. Today I’m pleased to tell you about the next two books in the series. Enjoy!

Black Arts, Tarts & Gypsy Carts
I’m pleased to report this second installment in the Spells & Caramels series was just as sweet as the first… The characters are charming, as is the setting/world-building. The mysteries aren’t always that mysterious, but they are cozy and fun to read nevertheless. And there is a HUGE reveal at the end that I totally did not see coming – in fact, I thought it was going to be something in an altogether different direction, so while I knew *something* was coming, was delightfully doubly surprised when I learned what it actually was… (I know, I know – oblique. But I have to be or I’ll spoil the whole thing.) This is a very fun series that I look forward to continuing with once the next title releases!

(I know, I know – short review. I read this one through Kindle Unlimited. When I read a book on my own, rather than as a requested review, the reviews tend to be shorter. I only have so much time and try to devote as much as possible to writing the reviews I’m asked to write, as opposed to the ones I choose to write. But I felt like I needed a review, however short, of this second book since I reviewed the first and third…)

Mermaid Fins, Winds & Rolling Pins
This is such a fun series – I gave this one three stars but don’t think I didn’t enjoy it and that the series isn’t one to pick up. My issues this time were probably not entirely a product of the book itself, so much as of the mindset I was in when I read it. You see, I started this one just after finishing Mira Grant’s newest – Into the Drowning Deep (review coming!) – and its tale of mermaids (which are NOT fun and friendly to say the very least) most likely colored my read of this tale of mermaids (which basically are). So my apologies to Erin Johnson for any unfortunate bleed-over… ๐Ÿ™‚

In this third book, the indomitable Imogen finds herself embroiled in a world of mermaids and, of course, more secrets… The Water Kingdom’s royal baking team has been requested to serve up a feast for the marriage of the Mermaid Queen and the Pirate King. Of course, since this is Imogen’s world, there’s WAY more to it than that – and the hijinks, secrets, and tension are thick on the ground (er, in the water), as per usual in this delightful series.

Frankly, I found the mermaids a little, well, irritating. I suspect that was on purpose. They spoke an amalgamation of regular English and just-off English (wrong verb tenses, mixtures of plural and singular) that was consistent and even throughout, but that I found off-putting for some reason. The flighty and inconsistent nature of the mermaids was a style choice; my lukewarm feelings toward them were (as I mentioned in the opening) probably based at least somewhat in contrast to the other mermaids I’d recently encountered – whatever the reason though, I found the bits of story that featured mermaid conversation and attitudes less able to hold my interest.

I still found Imogen (and her compatriots) to be fun and highly entertaining. There is always at least one reveal in these books that catches me completely off guard – that is no small accomplishment, as I read rather a lot. It’s what will keep me coming back to this series regardless of how I feel about a particular plot line or character. Johnson has a great ability to spin a tall tale that feels somehow still plausible and never over-done or overly reliant on tropes (which are probably getting increasingly difficult to avoid in the supernatural genre, given the number of books published each year). I can’t wait to see where Imogen’s continuing journey to discover her background and the limits of her magic take her – book four is due out soon, and I look forward to seeing where she goes next!

My review copy was generously provided by the author. That provision in no way affected my review.

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