Wednesday, 31 October 2018

ARC Review of Sugar Spells by Lola Dodge

Sugar Spells
The Spellwork Syndicate Book 2
by Lola Dodge
Published 30 October 2018
by Ink Monster LLC

For fans of Hex Hall, The Magicians, Practical Magic, and Food Wars!

After her run-in with a jealous warlock, apprentice baker Anise Wise can’t wait to get back the kitchen where she belongs. But thanks to her brush with death, the land of the living isn’t all cupcakes and marshmallows.

Anise’s magical mojo is way out of whack and her evolving powers are stirring up trouble. As the town buzzes with news that Anise can bake deathly spells, unsavory characters start lining up for a taste. They’ll stop at nothing for the chance to use Anise and her witchcraft to further their own plots.

She plans to hole up researching magic recipes until the attention dies down, but then she discovers the horrifying terms of her bodyguard’s contract. Wynn has saved her life so many times, she can’t leave him trapped. But doing the right thing will mean risking death or worse—being cast out of her dream job.

For this witch, justice might not be as sweet as advertised.




Let's just get this one thing out of the way before we do anything else in this review, readers. These covers are killing me! I have died and gone to purple heaven and you cannot make me leave.
I want paperbacks so I can have these books facing outwards on my shelf just facing the room and when I need a bookish pick-me-up, I can just glance over and BAM! Shot of purple power! I'm not saying purple is one of my top 3 favourite colours but I did dye all of my hair purple for a few months a few years ago. No, really. It was a tacky purple explosion of rebellion I enjoyed flaunting in a small Southern Baptist Georgia town. *sigh* Ah, memories. Moving on!
In Sugar Spells, we return to Taos, Arizona and our heroine, Anise Wise, and her compatriots weeks after the events of Deadly Sweet. We quickly learn that Anise has been banned from working at her great-aunt Agatha's magical bakery for the time being as her magic's gone a tad bit awry following her near-death experiences of the first book and she's now filled with death magic. Because you don't want to accidentally sell any tourists a death-laced custard bomboloni, right?
Well, Anise decides that, yes, she's going to sell death-laced macarons to see if that will get the death magic to wear off. To a well-paying shifty customer who actually wants to eat an entire batch on a regular basis, and she's doing it in order to help her Shield, Wynn, pay off his indentured servitude contract.
Now. For the whosits and whatsits. I'm glad to see that Gabi gets more of a role in Sugar Spells than she had in Deadly Sweet where you had to skip back to remind yourself who she was a few times. When her new death magic starts to act up, Anise seeks refuge at Gabi's animal rescue/hospital and stays in a cottage apartment away from other lifeforms. We also see a fair bit of Blair, Anise's other best friend, including a bestie shopping trip with all three of them and their bodyguard contingent.
Thankfully, Anise steps away from the bumbling blonde routine she had developed in Deadly Sweet and it seems as if she's found her feet in Sugar Spells. I'm so thankful for that, too. She doesn't sit about waiting for her mum or Aunt Agatha for Wynn or anybody and everybody BUT her to do the figuring out of things for her this time. Instead of waiting around for someone or something to fix her magic, she takes the magic bull by the horns and keeps trying to find a way.
My favourite part is, of course, the magical baking. I mean, if I could make good fortune blueberry-lemon bars, well, I wouldn't be typing, I'd be baking. And, if anybody wants to try to make macarons after reading Sugar Spells, here's 12 Tips for perfect macaron feet because the feet are important!
Wynn maintains his steadfast role of silent but deadly throughout the story, except for moments where Anise manages to break his stony fa├žade and he gifts us with a full sentence or two. Call the news, it's a miracle!
I'm giving Sugar Spells 4 stars because it improved a lot from Deadly Sweet and it gave me the edge of my seat feeling a few times. You know how much I love that edge of my seat feeling.


Lola is a compulsive traveler, baker, and procrastinator. She earned her BA in English from Stonehill College and MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University—and hasn’t stopped moving since. When she’s not on the road, Lola spends her time indoors where the sunlight can’t melt her, writing or bingeing on K-dramas and cherry soda. She can be summoned in a ritual involving curry, Hello Kitty idols, and a solid chocolate pentagram.
You can find some of her stories at Ink Monster. The rest are in progress and are represented by Rebecca Strauss at DeFiore & Company.
Questions? Concerns? Fears for Miss Dodge's sanity? E-mail Miss Dodge at lola@loladodge.com or visit her at any of her public social media.



Portrait credit to the supermegatalented nomadic photogoddess Katie May Boyle

Other books by Lola Dodge that I've reviewed include the first in The Spellwork Syndicate Series, Deadly Sweet, back when I first started this blog.


I was going to post this yesterday, but I've spent the past 3 days trying to make words into proper sentences. I pretty much had "book good. you buy." for a review until today. I spent the weekend moving from one apartment in my complex to another because they're renovating my old building and my new one is already renovated, we have all tile floors now, so everything echoes now. That's going to take some getting used to. I'm heavy into procrastinating on the unpacking thing. I've gotten my books partially unpacked and that's about it. I have my priorities, right?
Also, here's the one photo left of my purple hair rebellion, there's probably more with my friends back in Georgia and my ex and his daughter but this is the only one I sort of liked. This was right before all the piercings and tattoos, actually. I only had 2 sets of piercings and they were in my ears! I'm actually piercing-free because of all my medical issues right now, but I'm going to re-pierce this winter. I miss all the metal.
Since today is Halloween, I think I'll use this as a time to share Magic Wheelchair, a nonprofit that builds amazing costumes for children in wheelchairs - at no cost to families. You can donate time, money, fundraise, or raise awareness by purchasing Magic Wheelchair t-shirts (which look pretty amazing).
And with that, darling readers, I bid you all adieu. I'm exhausted and headed to bed. Until next time, have a happily ever after!

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