Review: No Place Like Home (Resident Witch #4)

no-place-like-home-kindleNo Place Like Home (Resident Witch #4) by Angelika Rust

In less than a year, main character Alice Adams has grown from a shallow, mindless member of the popular, mean-girl clique into a hardworking Resident Witch-in-Training who takes her responsibilities seriously. Still grieving the loss of her parents, she’s trying to move forward with the next steps toward adulthood. And also find a name for her band. Of course her relaxing spring break will be interrupted with monsters and mayhem, because for some reason, her small pleasant town is a magnet for that sort of thing.

I love the mix of comedy and heartbreak in this series. Most of the characters have suffered terrible losses and have heavy responsibilities, but they still joke around in a way that is unforced and natural. The theme of terrible band names woven through serves to lighten the mood. (My favorites are Shit Magnet Theory and Resident Nuisance.) Most of the established is cast is back, though several characters are out of town or otherwise engaged and participate mainly by text, hinting at the near future when they will graduate and go their separate ways. I was pleased to see side character Finn take a larger role this time out. He plays the part of Sassy Gay Friend to a T, but proves a loyal friend to Alice while revealing his own deep longings. The introduction of a new character, Bastian Wolfe, helps explain why this small town attracts so many baddies while also adding another tool to Alice’s magical toolbox, not to mention a fairy tale ending for a beloved character.

Another aspect I like is that our heroes, for all they mean well, make plans, and work hard, are capable of monumental, boneheaded mistakes for the same reasons any of us are: overconfidence, too little sleep, forgetting to eat. And they don’t just brush it off. They have to learn to forgive each other, and themselves. The ending promises “to be continued” but like the young characters, the series has matured. I expect it will grow and change as it proceeds. To get the full effect, I recommend that readers start with book 1 and read the whole thing to get the full flavor. The characters and their relationships are so lovable, it would be a shame to miss out.

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Review: Little Red is Coming Home

Little Red cover

Little Red is Coming Home: A Collection of Almost Fairy Tales by Angelika Rust

First things first: I received a copy of this book from the author and this collection of almost-fairy tales is NOT FOR CHILDREN.

Angelika Rust was the first indie author to prove to me that selfpub could be done extremely well, so I’m always happy to read her latest. This clever, charming, and compact collection does not disappoint. Although all the stories are based on Little Red Riding Hood, each one has its own voice and style as it plays with some twist on the theme of a girl in red headgear taking cake and wine to her grandmother and meeting a wolf. “Tradition” is a comic action-adventure in which the characters are forced by family tradition (or the story itself) to go through the same ridiculous acts over and over until one of them breaks out. “Rich Little Bitch” takes laughably awful characters for a humorous erotic spin. “A Cautionary Tale” is exactly as labeled. “Another Body” purports to be about a monster, but who is it, really? “Never Too Old” casts Red as the monster; or as a supernaturally powerful protector of the innocent. “Little Red Queen” has the flavor of ancient saga with roots in human savagery. “The Other Leg” inserts the mythic into a contemporary domestic almost-comedy. “There Were Roses” brings real magic into play as a deceased grandmother comes to the aid of the Duke’s daughter. “Let Them Eat Cake” forges redemption out of malice.

These stories do not answer the inciting question of what would have happened if Red had simply shared her cake (or “basket of goodies,” as it was told to me) with the wolf. Each one raises its own questions and is satisfying on its own or in conversation with the others. The whole collection can be read in an hour or two, or each story read and savored on its own. Either way, this is a worthy addition to the library of any reader who enjoys a grown-up take on a childhood classic.