Tag Archives: Baba Yaga

Wickedly Spirited by Deborah Blake

Overview

Wickedly SpiritedTitle: Wickedly Spirited
Author: Deborah Blake
Series: Baba Yaga #3.5Baba Yaga World #4.5
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: MythologyParanormal romanceWitches
Pace: Medium
Format: Novella
Publisher: InterMix
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: What if she wasn’t as powerful as they all said?

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideSynopsis

Jazz, the powerfully magical teen first introduced in Wickedly Powerful, is now being trained as a Baba Yaga—and she’s determined to free the Broken Riders herself.

Jazz had a rough life before meeting her guardian, and she knows she’s lucky that Bella is training her to be a Baba Yaga. But the gifted young witch is frustrated by the slow pace of her lessons. Jazz knows she’s capable of even greater magic, and she wants nothing more than to find a spell that will give the Riders back the immortality they lost.

With the reluctant assistance of Bella’s dragon-turned-cat Koshka, Jazz travels to the Otherworld to get the necessary ingredients to perform the spell. A willful young witch, dangerous magic, and one powerful wish—what could possibly go wrong?

Thoughts

Jazz was a fun introduction in Wickedly Powerful. She’s sassy, powerful and full of energy. The fact that there is a novella available that features her was kind of a welcome surprise. Although, it really wasn’t what I expected, and sadly, I read it before Dangerously Charming, which was kind of a mistake – after all, the acts in this take place after Mikhail Day’s story and it kind of had some spoilers.

Teenagers never do what they’re told – or at least, I know that I rarely did. If I was given an order, I needed to understand why, otherwise I’d merely take it as a suggestion. Which is kind of like Jazz. She is told not to play with higher powers again and again. But, because she doesn’t understand why Bella says these things, she’s a little more fluid in her adherence to the rulings. Which is why you can see that she’s going to get into trouble from a mile off. The trouble that she finds herself in is completely unexpected though. Actually, I was quite taken back by the results of her rebellion and I can’t wait to see how this factors into the greater series…

 <- Wickedly Powerful Review Dangerously Charming Review ->
Image source: Penguin Random House

Top 16 Books of 2016

2016 was a good year for me – I got to read a lot of books, both new and old. So here is a list of my favourite sixteen reads for this year.

falling-pomegranate-seeds16. Falling Pomegranate Seeds by Wendy J. Dunn
This is the first historical fiction that I have ever had the privilege of reading, and it has almost made me a convert. The topic is dense and heart-wrenching, but there is such a strength to the characters, that you can’t help but fall in love. The fact that Dunn used real historical figures to create her masterpiece of women’s rights, the relationships of mothers and daughters and a beautiful tale of coming of age just added to the poignancy of this tale.

skinwalker15. Skinwalker by Faith Hunter
I loved the new take on Native American skinwalkers in this story. The fact that it primarily focused on a woman of a minority culture was a great added bonus. To add to the great basis of fantasy, this story was dark and slightly twisted, but frankly honest about it’s chief protagonist – she was never painted as pure, but rather as a flawed human being.

 

Wickedly Powerful14. Wickedly Powerful by Deborah Blake
I found this series this year, and it completely changed my previously sceptical view on paranormal romance. Of the three books and five stories, this was by far my favourite. The lead Baba Yaga in this tale was far pricklier and more awkward around people than the others, and the love interest was a victim of mental illness – PTSD. This combined to create a beautiful love story with a potent message about PTSD that I cherished.

haunted13. Haunted by Kelley Armstrong
I love the Women of the Otherworld series – the heroines are not in any way, shape or form innocent and “good”. At least as books traditionally portray people. Instead they have their own challenges in life and difficulties. Eve Levine of Haunted has so far been my favourite of these characters. She is dead, but that doesn’t stop her from constantly attempting to help and guard her young daughter. This at the beginning of the story appears to be her only redeeming aspect, and as the story progresses, the true depth of her character is slowly revealed. It is a story that will make you fall in love with a flawed woman and this series again and again and again.

Raelia12. Raelia by Lynette Noni
A great sequel to the first Medoran Chronicles story, Raelia is all about the choices that we make. The storyline in this is so much more intense which is why I rated it slightly above the first book in the series, Akarnae. The ability of this story to capture my attention was immensely impressive, and I am constantly double checking what the release date for the next book in the series is.


The One11. The One by Kiera Cass
This story can make anyone believe in true love again. It is the sweetest, most charming love story I have ever read. Although, it doesn’t go over board with the sappy factor. The dystopian future setting helps to create a more fantastical and enhanced world than our own, which I thoroughly enjoyed and the creation of the caste system seriously made me question how I view and judge others. However, it is America and Maxon’s dance of romance that truly had me hooked and this story let me find out how their negotiation of love ended.

bad-blood10. Bad Blood by Lucienne Diver
I have an obsession with mythology, so any story or series that does a good job of recreating one of the ancient mythologies is going to get my attention. However, Diver’s approach to this was so completely unique that I was mesmerised from the first page. The sass and smart-mouthed attitude of the lead only added to my very quick falling for this series. As did her unique ancestry.

 

Kicking It9. Forked Tongues by Rachel Caine
This was one of the best short stories that I read this year – it combined fantasy with a strong woman and love. Not an easy combination to throw into less than one hundred pages. The image of a Cowboy Witch has stuck in my head since I read this months ago. A great, easy read to bunker down with for half hour or so.

 

 

body-double8. Body Double by Tess Gerritsen
The best crime book that I have read this year by far. Not only is it a tale of spine-tingling criminal acts, but it also investigates the nature versus nurture debates – one of my favourite intellectual discussions. Maura’s slow discovery of who she comes from and who she is highlights this, but it also reminds us that we are who we choose to be, not who other people want us to be. The strength of both Maura and Jane throughout the story is astonishing and admirable – it is so easy to imagine them walking around the streets of Boston.

night-shift7. Night Shift edited by Nalini Singh
A great way to find new authors and series is anthologies, which was partly why I bought this collection. I didn’t know that it would introduce me to one of my favourite series. Not one of these four short stories was even remotely tedious, and it was incredibly difficult to decide which author I wanted to read more of. The variety in the stories was enough that they were fascinating tales, but the underlying themes present in all of them still tied the anthology together nicely.

Queen of Shadows6. Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
The Throne of Glass series is such an epic tale of war, love, loss and inner strength, so any book in this series could make it onto this list. However, I loved Queen of Shadows the most because Aelin is able to truly embrace her future and role in life. She is also able to find someone who sees her for who she is and truly accept the fact. One battle in this series is finally over, but a much, much larger one is looming in the future.

black-wings5. Black Wings by Christina Henry
So much sass and blundering in this story, which is probably why I love it so much. There is something that I find so relatable about an uncoordinated heroine that makes me fall in love with a story – probably because I myself am more than a little accident prone. The use of old lore such as Gremlins and Fallen Angels was also a unique spin on a tale of paranormal fantasy.

 

lirael4. Lirael by Garth Nix
I have always felt insanely connected to the character of Lirael in Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom series. She doesn’t quite belong with the people she calls family, and is always an outcast. Even after she finds her true calling in life, she walks a lonely path and isn’t quite able to relate to her peers. Yet, for all of that, I don’t think that her story is a sad one, rather one about finding out who you are and how you fit in the world. And realising that not everyone is going to fit in with others very well.

on-the-prowl3. Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs
I have been in love with Patricia Briggs for a long time now, but there is something about the novella Alpha and Omega that holds my attention every single time. Anna and Charles truly have love and first sight, but it has such a great twist to it. Add to that the fact that they both have some pretty serious inner demons, and it is a really sweet tale of overcoming the odds and finding that perfect fit in your life. Even if it is the last fit that you would expect.

magic-breaks2. Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews
It was so incredibly difficult to choose a favourite story in the Kate Daniels series. I’ve loved every single tale and would check the post office religiously when a new book was going to be delivered. However, I think that this is a good selection. Kate and Curran are not only battling for the children of their people, but they are also being forced to deal with the challenges of a new relationship. I got so emotionally invested in this story that I actually threw it across the room whenever it bothered me.

mine-to-possess1. Mine to Possess by Nalini Singh
Tales of paranormal romance are a new genre to me, and this series is a GREAT introduction. Like the Kate Daniels series, it was incredibly hard to find a favourite, but ultimately, this is the book that I found the sweetest and continue to think about. Aside from the rest of the developing Psy-Changeling drama, the story of Clay and Tally is what a lot of people dream of. Finding that one person in childhood who will always be yours – someone who is able to always understand you on an entirely different level.

So there you have it, my favourite stories from my reading list for 2016. I can’t wait to find some more great tales in the new year!

Feature image source: Now! Bali
Image 1 source: Amazon
Image 2 source: Amazon

Image 3 source: Deborah Blake
Image 4 source: Goodreads
Image 5 source: Lynette Noni
Image 6 source: Wikia
Image 7 source: Goodreads
Image 8 source: Penguin
Image 9 source: Amazon
Image 10 source: Audiobooks
Image 11 source: Live Journal
Image 12 source: Christina Henry
Image 13 source: Garth Nix
Image 14 source: Patricia Briggs
Image 15 source: Ilona Andrews
Image 16 source: Pinterest

Wickedly Powerful by Deborah Blake

Overview

Wickedly Powerful

Title: Wickedly Dangerous
Author: Deborah Blake
Series: Baba Yaga #3Baba Yaga World #3
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Mythology, Paranormal romanceWitches
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Year: 2016
5th sentence, 74th page: She patted the large leather-bound book that had pride of place in the middle of her worktable.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don’t make the mistake of crossing one of them…

The only thing more fiery than Bella Young’s red hair is her temper. She knows that a Baba Yaga’s power without strict control can leave the people she cares about burned, so to protect her heart – and everyone around her – the only company she keeps is her dragon-turned-Norwegian-Forest-cat, Koshka.

But when Bella is tasked with discovering who’s setting magical fires on Wyoming’s Black Mountain, she finds herself working closely with former Hotshots firefighter Sam Corbett – and falling hard for his quiet strength and charm.

Sam may bear the scars of his past, but Bella can see beyond them and would do anything to help him heal. Only before she can rescue her Prince Charming, she’ll have to overcome the mysterious foe setting the forest fires – a truly wicked witch who wields as much power and even more anger than Bella…

Thoughts

So far, this is my favourite Baba Yaga novel. It’s the combination of two severely damaged leads (both physically and emotionally), and fire that seems to claw at my heart and make me want to read this story again and again and again. Being terrified to get close to someone is something that I am all too familiar with, and working through this self-constructed barrier is something that Bella does amazingly well throughout the story.

The other reason that this tale so compels me is the constant presence of fire. Growing up in country Australia, fire is a constant thought and after the bushfires of the past two years, it is all the more present in my mind. So, a story about an ex-firefighter and survivor of fire was uniquely compelling. For me, it’s a primal concern, maybe even fear, and the idea of a man surviving a ravaging fire when no one else does is heart wrenching and leaves me thinking like nothing else does.

The last, but certainly not least, reason for my mild obsession with this book is Bella’s love interest – Sam. He is this gorgeous man who suffers from PTSD and is just as damaged as Bella is. Blake uses this character to beautifully investigate the effects that past tragedies can have on our everyday lives. She uses the idea of survivor’s guilt to create this beautifully multi-layered character that draws you in as much as the heroine.

 <- Wickedly Ever After Review Wickedly Spirited Review ->
Image source: Deborah Blake

Wickedly Wonderful by Deborah Blake

Overview

Wickedly Wonderful

Title: Wickedly Wonderful
Author: Deborah Blake
Series: Baba Yaga #2Baba Yaga World #2
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Mythology, Paranormal romanceWitches
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: An Irish accent made the simple words pleasantly exotic.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don’t make the mistake of crossing one of them…

Though she looks like a typical California surfer girl, Beka Yancy is in fact a powerful yet inexperienced witch who’s struggling with her duties as a Baba Yaga. Luckily she has her faithful dragon-turned-dog for moral support, especially when faced with her biggest job yet…

A mysterious toxin is driving the Selkies and Mer from their homes deep in the trenches of Monterey Bay. To investigate, Beka buys her way onto the boat of Marcus Dermott, a battle-scarred former U.S. Marine, and his ailing fisherman father.

While diving for clues, Beka drives Marcus crazy with her flaky new age ideas and dazzling blue eyes. She thinks he’s rigid and cranky (and way too attractive). Meanwhile, a charming Selkie prince has plans that include Beka. Only by trusting her powers can Beka save the underwater races, pick the right man, and choose the path she’ll follow for the rest of her life…

Thoughts

This is a fantastic sequel to Wickedly Dangerous. Beka is a starkly different heroine to Barbara and this contrast between two sister Babas was brilliantly done. Not only did Wickedly Wonderful take me on a whole new adventure, but it also let me fall in love with a new, and striking female lead. I love chief protagonists that are full of self-doubt, I think that it makes them all the more real and relatable. So to go from Barbara’s cocky self-assurance (and total lack of social skills) to Beka’s open and vulnerable persona was endearing and refreshing.

Where Wickedly Dangerous taps into our need to protect and nurture our children, Wickedly Wonderful emphasises the importance of the ocean in all of our daily lives. The beach-feel of the book and characters is so much more laid back than that of Barbara’s tale and the pages simply ooze relaxation and sweetness. Although, beneath her surfy exterior, Beka shows herself to have a backbone of steel when it really counts.

I’m reminded of the realities of cancer and radiation poisoning throughout this book, they’re such serious issues that touch upon so many lives. So reading about them in a not-so-tragic way brings home the pain and suffering that this can cause, without making you cry. Which I appreciate, sometimes it is good to have a nice sob over a book, but some days not so much.

<- Wickedly Dangerous Review Wickedly Ever After Review ->
Image source: Pinterest

Wickedly Ever After by Deborah Blake

Overview

wickedly-ever-after

Title: Wickedly Ever After
Author: Deborah Blake
Series: Baba Yaga #2.5Baba Yaga World #2.5
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Mythology, Paranormal romanceWitches
Pace: Medium
Format: Novella
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Year: 2016
5th sentence, 74th page: Chudo-Yudo spat out his bone with a thunk.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don’t make the mistake of crossing one…

Having triumphed over a powerful enemy and ended up with both a wonderful guy—Sheriff Liam McClellan—and an adorable adopted daughter to raise as a Baba Yaga, Barbara Yager is ready to welcome her happily ever after.

But first she must bring Liam to the Otherworld and get the Queen’s permission to marry him. The Queen, however, is not so easily persuaded. She gives them three impossible tasks to complete in two weeks’ time—and if they fail Barbara will have to watch Liam slowly age and die like all humans, and kiss her happily ever after good-bye forever.

Thoughts

As with the rest of the books in the Baba Yaga series, Wickedly Ever After reminds us all that we get a happy ending, even not-so-wicked witches. Although Barbara and Liam get engaged at the end of Wickedly Dangerous, their story isn’t quite finished, and it was such a pleasure to revisit their love in this short story. No matter what happens in these stories, I always turn the last page with a huge smile on my lips. Who wouldn’t? They are sweet, endearing tales of triumph and love in the face of numerous obstacles.

The Queen is a great representation of the fae – they are known to be fickle, demanding and at times, uncaring of others. Or at least, that’s how the court fae are represented in folklore. Blake’s use of her as a representative of this supernatural group is not only a great catalyst within the stories, but also a fantastic use of pre-existing mythological notions. I also love how she represents the id in our desires – none of us are truly able to pursue our own desires and whims, the Queen is able to though. This makes things not only difficult for others, but a figure that is both intimidating and enviable. Who doesn’t want to follow their own dreams and desires?

Wickedly Ever After is a great novella in the Baba Yaga universe, it ties in the lives of the three witches and their eventual marriages. I love the small side stories within the main plot line, they add an extra layer of texture and characterisation within the series that continues to make my heart soar and my mind believe in true love.

<- Wickedly Wonderful Review Wickedly Powerful Review ->
Image source: Open Book Society

Wickedly Dangerous by Deborah Blake

Overview

Wickedly Dangerous

Title: Wickedly Dangerous
Author: Deborah Blake
Series: Baba Yaga #1Baba Yaga World #1
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Mythology, Paranormal romanceWitches
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: No matter ow long she lived, she could never get used to the callous disregard with which so many humans treated the natural world.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don’t make the mistake of crossing one of them…

Older than she looks and powerful beyond measure, Barbara Yager no longer has much in common with the mortal life she left behind long ago. Posing as an herbalist and researcher, she travels the country with her (mostly) faithful dragon-turned-dog in an enchanted Airstream, fulfilling her duties as a Baba Yaga and avoiding any possibility of human attachment.

But when she is summoned to find a missing child, Barbara suddenly finds herself caught up in a web of deceit and an unexpected attraction to the charming but frustrating Sheriff Liam McClellan.

Now, as Barbara fights both human enemies and Otherworld creatures to save the lives of three innocent children, she discovers that her most difficult battle may be with her own heart…

Thoughts

I love old mythologies and fairy tales. If you gave me a book about ancient mythologies, I would read it page to page before coming up for air. So, when I found out about a book that took the Russian fairy tale of Baba Yaga and gave it a modern twist, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy. I love when authors are able to take a myth or spiritual understanding of the world that stems from the past and use it in today’s modern context, and Deborah Blake did this brilliantly well. She created a world and series that drew me in from the first moment, and I can’t wait until the next book comes out.

Admittedly, this is a paranormal romance. Aside from the witchcraft and Otherworld influence of the fae, it is very much a boy meets girl, girl meets boy, they fall in love story. Sometimes this can feel a little competitive, but not so in Wickedly Dangerous. Barbara is a prickly and unsociable heroine, Liam a damaged and confused man, both unwilling to commit to each other. And although you just know that they will eventually end up together, the trials and tribulations along the way kept me constantly turning the pages in an agony of fascination. There’s just something so satisfying about two completely damaged people finding happiness in one another.

Having said that, the romance really wasn’t the main part of the story. There was just enough heat between the main characters to raise the stakes, but not enough that the story became boring and irritatingly sappy. It was the mystery of the missing children and Barbara’s power and willingness to solve the puzzle that drives the story.

Even as someone who doesn’t have kids, the idea of missing children is horrifying. There’s something about preying upon the young and innocent in society that is particularly spine tingling. It’s the primal fear for us, we’re programmed to protect our young, and when they go missing or are stolen, we have done something drastically wrong. This, combined with the villain of the story (who was not in the least who I expected), created a fascinating retelling of the role of Baba Yaga in today’s society, and an amazing book to boot.

<- Dangerously Driven Review Wickedly Wonderful Review ->
Image source: Goodreads

Wickedly Magical by Deborah Blake

Overview

wickedly-magical

Title: Wickedly Magical
Author: Deborah Blake
Series: Baba Yaga #0.5, Baba Yaga World #0.5
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Mythology, Paranormal romanceWitches
Pace: Medium
Format: Novella
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: Too busy playing footsie with Jonathan.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don’t make the mistake of crossing one…

Barbara Yager loves being one of the most powerful witches in the world, but sometimes she’d rather kick back in her enchanted Airstream with a beer in her hand than work out how to grant the requests of the worthy few who seek her out.

But when a man appears with the token of a family debt of honor, Barbara must drop everything to satisfy the promise owed by her predecessor—and she isn’t above being a little wicked to make sure the debt is paid in full…

Thoughts

Reading this story left me with an amazingly warm and happy feeling. The bad guy is bested, there is a beautiful happy ending and the ending leads perfectly into the first Baba Yaga book. All in all, it is a beautiful novella that left a smile on my face long after I finished the last page.

This story investigates the relationship between the three Baba Yaga sisters in more depth. They are constantly in contact throughout the tale and Blake beautifully highlights the differences between these characters through their conversations. The kinship between the three practically jumps off the page, and I can only hope that people have this relationship with their own siblings, the ease and camaraderie of familiarity and friendship.

Barbara’s protective tendencies are further highlighted in her rage at the villain within the story. Although she is driven to justice throughout the Baba Yaga novels, her pure rage at the children’s mistreatment in this story is heart-warming. I love her temperamental nature and the fact that her fits of rage are driven by a sense of injustice and neglect.

 <- Dangerously Fierce Review Wickedly Dangerous Review ->
Image source: The Sunset Canyon Post