erin johnson

Review of “Grimoires, Spas, & Chocolate Straws’

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After exposing the perfidy to the king, Imogen Banks, her boyfriend, the former Prince Hank, and their friends have been banished to Badlands Island, a place that is infected with monsters that the king also banished there. Out on a monster patrol with the local defenders, Imogen falls in a raging river and is swept downstream, where she’s saved by a member of her brother Horace’s Badlands Army. She implores her savior to take her to her brother, who, despite his enigmatic and sometimes violent nature, she still wants to find. He shows her the Badlands Army encampment, but reneges on taking her to see Horace.

Later, when friends suggest a spa vacation, Imogen is all to ready for the diversion. But, as often happens with our heroine, when they arrive at the spa, a dead body appears, and Imogen, Hank, and the crew set about solving the murder.

Grimoires, Spas & Chocolate Straws by Erin Johnson is book 8 in the Spells & Caramels series, and not so surprisingly, given the fantastic job the author has done with this improbably plot, it does not disappoint. You’ll be delighted as Imogen, her flame—yes, literally a fire—Iggy, Hank, and a whole host of believably unbelievable characters, including a vampire in love with a sorceress, frolic, fumble, and finesse their way from the frying pan to the fire to the baker’s shelf.

Kudos to Johnson for keeping the interest going for eight books. Looking forward to number 9. I received a complimentary copy of this book. I give it five stars.

Review of ‘Full Moon, Dunes & Macaroons’

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Imogen Banks, a witch who can bake, or a baker with witch’s powers, keeps telling herself that she’s fine with Prince Hank’s engagement to Princess Shaday, but at the engagement dinner in the Fire Kingdom, which she attends with her other royal kitchen colleagues, she’s feeling conflicted. The festivities are only slightly disrupted when one of the guests, a hated prison warden, is found murdered in his tent, but when Imogen’s foul mood affects her cooking, she’s banned from the kitchen and decides to solve the murder. There is a long list of suspects; the journalist the warden was blackmailing, his ambitious assistant, and even his daughter, Eve, Shaday’s best friend. And then, there’s Imogen’s brother, Horace, a rebel and the most wanted man in all the kingdoms. He makes contact, and begins to teach her new magic, but is he up to something else?

Along with Iggy, her trusty, and sometimes crusty, baking flame (that’s right, flame as in fire) Imogen sets out to untangle this knotty problem, almost getting herself eaten by a bat in the process. You’ll have to read the book to figure out that one. What book, you ask? Why, Full Moons, Dunes, & Macaroons by Erin Johnson, of course. The fifth book in her Spells & Caramels series, she keeps the energy flowing and the plots twisting most effectively, giving us another strong, though sometimes ditzy, female main character to cheer for. My seven-year-old granddaughter who, like me, has been reading since she was four, is also, like me, a diehard fan of this series—although the previous volume had a rather adult theme, so I’m holding it back for at least two or three more years. This, though, will give you a clue—this series can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

I received a free copy of this book. Another five-star performance.

Review of ‘Airships, Crypts & Chocolate Chips’

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Things have gotten both better and worse for Imogen. Her bakery is thriving and she can now openly acknowledge her relationship with Prince Henry. On the negative side, though, she must spend time with his awful family. Just when she thinks things could get no worse, her wayward brother, Horace, a member of the Badlands Army, approaches her and her colleagues with an offer they can’t refuse—because he uses threats—break some prisoners out of the impenetrable prison of the Water Kingdom.

Airships, Crypts & Chocolate Chips by Erin Johnson is book five in a series that I’ve come to love. The author takes us on a madcap journey as Imogen and her friends take on an impossible mission, one that will change the future of Imogen and the magical kingdom that she has come to call home forever.

While this can be read as a stand-alone story, it would be far more interesting if you went back and started reading with book one—just a suggestion, but you’ll thank me for it if you do. Nonstop action, suspense, and double-dealing in a story that will have you chuckling and shivering by turns.

I received a free review copy of this book. Another five-star offering from an outstanding author.

Review of ‘Mermaid Fins, Winds & Rolling Pins’

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Murder and mayhem follow Imogen Banks everywhere she goes. Still trying to learn to control her witch powers, under the tutelage of Prince Hank, and worrying about Horace and his minions of the Badlands Army, she sees a trip to the Mermaid Kingdom to cater the wedding party of the Mermaid queen and the Pirate king as a welcome diversion. But, when a member of the mermaid court is found murdered and entangled in a pirate’s net, and a confection from their kitchen is thought to be the murder weapon, Imogen must find the real murderer before she and her friends become fish food.

Mermaid Fins, Winds & Rolling Pins by Erin Johnson is book three in the Spells and Caramels series, and it builds on the previous two books, but with a refreshing difference. As Imogen and her cohort has to deal with the licentious behavior and secret scandals of the mermaid court, smuggling of illicit substances, and a deadly octopus; while Imogen struggles with her romantic feelings for Hank, who is betrothed to another, and their susceptibility to an intoxicating monster’s brew, this story will hook you from the opening pages until you get to the startling conclusion, when Imogen discovers more secrets from her own past.

This story makes a shift from the relative innocence of the first two volumes, as intimate relationships are explored in a more explicit manner, raising the series from one that appeals to fantasy lovers of all ages to one that is aimed at a more mature audience.

I was attracted to this series from the beginning, but am now irrevocably hooked. I received a free copy of this book.

It promises a lot from the opening, and delivers on every page.

Review of ‘Black Arts, Tarts, & Gypsy Carts’

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The Summer Sea Carnival is coming to the magical island of Bijou Mer, and Prince Harry has decided that it would be nice if the royal bakery had a booth at this year’s festivities. Imogen Banks, witch-in-training and master baker, jumps at the chance to help run the booth, in order to avoid Prince Harry—Hank to her—because of her strong feelings for her being all complicated by the fact that he’s engaged to be married . . . to someone else.

Things quickly get out of hand when the famed necromancer, Madame Zerna, is found sawed in half in the magician’s tent, and her arch-rival, Rhonda, is found standing over the body with a bloody saw in her hand. Rhonda appeals to Imogen for help, and having previously been wrongfully accused, Imogen understands her friend’s dilemma and decides to try and clear her name.

In Black Arts, Tarts & Gypsy Carts by Erin Johnson it’s always darkest before the dawn, and only slightly overcast afterwards. You’ll fall in love with Imogen and most of her friends, especially Iggy, the irreverent flame who helps her bake some of the most amazing dishes, and you’ll roundly boo the villains—as soon as you figure out just who they are. Johnson has a way of masking the bad guy (or gal) until the very last minute, so the reader is as surprised as Imogen when the mask comes off.

This is book 2 in what is quickly becoming my favorite mystery series. I received a free copy of this book.

I give it five stars.

Review of ‘Seashells, Spells, & Caramels’

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Imogen Banks has scrimped and saved to amass enough money to open her own bakery. Just when she’s reached her monetary goal, her dreams go up in flames. But, she has somehow managed to become a contestant in a mysterious baking contest at an island off the coast of France. With nothing to lose—literally, as everything burned up in when her apartment went up in flames—she buys a ticket to France.
Once at the mysterious island, she encounters something she’s never believed in before, magic. Her skills are put to the test as she contends with magical creatures, including a wise cracking cooking flame, and a contestant dropping dead in the middle of the competition, and her humble self being looked at as the prime suspect.
Time is running short for Imogen. She must find the real killer, dig deep to find the baking skills to prevail in a contest she has no hope of winning, and learn to deal with the fact that, despite her inability to cast even the simplest spell, she is herself a creature of magic.
Seashells, Spells & Caramels by Erin Johnson is a delightful cozy mystery, with liberal doses of murder, mayhem, and magic, that will entertain you on every page. This book will delight both mystery fans and those who like the supernatural. It is unnaturally entertaining.
I received a free copy of this author’s first novel, and give it five stars for its sheer entertainment value.