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Currently Browsing: paranormal
Mar
13

Review: Insight by Santino Hassell

Review: Insight by Santino Hassell Insight Author: Santino Hassell Reviewer: B. Rating: A What I’m Talking About: If being raised in the intolerant, judgmental suburbs of Houston, Texas hadn’t been difficult enough, Nathaniel Black also had to bear the stigma of his family’s name. Though most of them are “gifted” with varying psychic abilities, they are better known for the resulting mental instability, addiction, and suicide that seem to accompany those talents. Nate would rather just avoid them all as much as possible. But, when the death of his identical twin brother, Theo, is labeled a suicide, Nate will do anything to discover the truth, even if it means embracing the very thing he hates most. Having read many of this author’s other titles, I’ve been very excited about Insight for quite some time. Not surprisingly, to say that I enjoyed reading it would be an understatement. While I’ve liked many books in the romance and paranormal genres, I simply can’t resist a good suspense or mystery story, and Insight kept me on edge from beginning to end. In fact, there was so much going on in this story, that this review has to be fairly limited in an effort not to ruin it. One of my favorite things about Insight is that, although there are many layers in the plot, I didn’t feel overwhelmed by a profusion of obvious distractions, which can sometimes be problematic with stories that combine elements of multiple genres. Despite the very “busy” nature of this story, however, every scene appeared to be deliberate, if not economical, in its implementation, while consistently providing enough rich detail and imagery that immersing myself in the narrative was effortless. While Insight should certainly be categorized as “Suspense” or possibly a “Thriller,” there’s no denying the significance of its romantic elements, as well. I found both Nate and Trent to be equally likable, and thought the complimentary nature of their developing relationship fit the story very nicely. Nate’s journey is one of self-acceptance as much as it is about discovering the truth, and watching him learn that he truly can be loved was a highlight of the novel for me. Overall, I think Insight is a finely-crafted exploration of a world where truths and monsters dwell beneath the skin. Nate is an intriguing protagonist, and he and Trent each won me over with little effort from the very first chapter. The many twists and turns proved to be consistently riveting, the tension building...
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Feb
9

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Hell’s Revenge by Eve Langlais

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Hell’s Revenge by Eve Langlais Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Princess of Hell Series Book: Hell’s Revenge Author: Eve Langlais Narrator: Rebecca Estrella Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Princess of Hell #3 Genre: Paranormal Romance / Urban Fantasy Source: Tantor Audio Hell’s Revenge Hell’s Revenge opens with an overlapping scene from the epilogue of the previous book, Snowballs in Hell in which Muriel discovers her mom is none other than Mother Nature, Gaia. Although she hasn’t visited Muriel since leaving her with her father as a small child, Gaia has returned to inform Muriel that she is pregnant, and both of her lovers at the fathers. Gaia intends to take the child from Muriel. There is so much for Muriel, her lovers, and her father to process, which takes them to Hell to get answers. Unfortunately, there is still the “big bad” after Muriel, and her life, along with her quickly growing unborn child, is in peril. Hell’s Revenge continues the overall story arc about a mysterious, powerful force who is after Lucifer’s kingdom, brining the issue to a head. While the entire story felt short, it was entertaining, and I liked how it wrapped up the storyline. However, in retrospect, the dangers and motives behind the entire three-book plot line weren’t as sinister as they came off in the first book. Some of the events from previous two books don’t every tie into the conclusion of the plot line. Regardless, the story was enjoyable. There weren’t nearly as many graphic sex scenes, and the book focused on the overall plot. One important event from Hell’s Revenge is that Muriel and her family learn more about her powers. Her magic is almost its own entity, and if it is depleted, it will seek out new sources of sex for facets of Muriel’s magic not being fed. For example, it sought out and connected with a vampire to feed the cold and dark part of her magic. Once the magic connects, it is permanent. What does this mean in the long run? More men in Muriel’s bedroom. Once again, Rebecca Estrella provides the narration for the story. One thing that changed in Hell’s Revenge, is that there are parts of the story shared from both David and Auric’s point-of-views. Ms. Estrella uses the same general narrator voice for each character, while continuing to provide a unique voice when each speaks. Overall, her performance is good – with unique and fitting voices for...
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Oct
26

Review: Once a Gypsy by Danica Winters

Review: Once a Gypsy by Danica Winters Once a Gypsy Author: Danica Winters Reviewer: VampBard Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Once a Gypsy is the first title I’ve read by Danica Winters. Overall, I really enjoyed the first book of the Irish Traveller series. Because I am really interested in all things supernatural and having to do with the Celts, Druids, and the like, I’m likely to read subsequent titles in the series. I liked the world building and the depth of the characters a lot. The author’s use of description was beautiful in many places: drew me right into the plot and kept me moving forward. The supernatural/paranormal element isn’t over-the-top, either. I read an ARC from NetGalley, though. I will admit I put this title down a couple times and came back to it, because I had to decide if I was going to finish. There was a lot of word repetition I hope was caught in final proofing/galleys. This might be a ‘me’ thing—but it did detract from my reading experience because I felt like the same thing was being said over and over. I liked the premise for the story, and the potential for the series is definitely there. I’d be interested in reading the next Irish Traveller title…if for nothing more than to see how things work out for Helena and Graham. My Rating: B, Liked It   About the Book: Even for a clairvoyant, the future is never a sure thing. Helena has always struggled to fit in with her Irish Traveller family. It’s not just her opposition to getting married or her determination to attend university; Helena also has one talent that sets her apart from the rest of her clan—the gift of the Forshaw, the ability to see the future. Graham is the groundskeeper at a manor in Adare, Ireland. Though the estate appears idyllic, it holds dark secrets, and despite his own supernatural gifts, Graham can’t solve Adare Manor’s problems by himself. Desperate for help, Graham seeks out a last resort: Helena, whose skills are far greater than even she knows. When he promises to teach her to control her powers, Helena resists, afraid both of the damage her abilities might do and her increasing attraction to the handsome groundskeeper. Her entire way of life is at risk: Any involvement, especially romantic, with non-Travellers like Graham is forbidden. But Helena’s future is anything but certain, and fate has other plans for her family, her powers, and...
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Oct
19

Review: Teeth Long and Sharp Anthology

Review: Teeth Long and Sharp Anthology Teeth Long and Sharp Authors: Grace Draven, Antioch Grey, Aria M. Jones, Jeffe Kennedy, Mel Sterling Reviewer: Una Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Teeth Long and Sharp is a chillingly lovely collection of short stories.  Each one stands alone and not everyone has a happy ending – well, depending on which character you align with.  Fascinating, suspenseful, ironically witty, this collection is perfectly timed for a Halloween reading. Ivories was a very short snippet of a contemporary story.  It reminded me of an impressionist painting, you are able to interrupt or derive what you will from it.  As I saw it, the girl and the piano had a connection that was driven apart by the teacher.  The piano had no patience for it.  However, I also wonder (as it is by the same author of The Vampires of Mulberry Street) if maybe there was a connection between the two stories; this one being a bit of an introduction.  Although it was my least favorite (mainly due to the short length) I still enjoyed it. B+ Night Tide is an eerie yarn with a more historical background.  Though still a novella, it had the feel of a fully fleshed novel.  I loved Ziga and her kind-hearted but strong-willed nature.  Her ability to commune with the water was fascinating.  I enjoyed the old fashioned ghost story feel of the narration.  Ms. Draven slowly sucked me and I find myself completely immersed in the world she created. Though the story resolves nicely, I have my fingers crossed that hopefully Ziga and this world has more stories to be told. A The Noise of Fur was a very different story, a somewhat dark and suspenseful coming of age tale.  It took me a few minutes to understand Raven’s tribe.  Once I started to understand who Raven and her people are, the story took on a new meaning.  I really enjoyed this mysterious suspense story.  The ending was fascinatingly bittersweet and hopeful.  The juxtaposition of the old adage of curiosity was ironic.  I really enjoyed it!  A Venetrix was an odd and darkly suspenseful mystery.  We follow Alair and Martis as they are embarking on a mission of revenge.  They know who killed their family member, but in this strange city the law of the land claims there is no proof.  As they discover the whys and hows, we are given a glimpse of this strange island port town filled with paranormal creatures. ...
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Sep
7

Blog Tour + Review: Shatterproof by Xen Sanders

Blog Tour + Review: Shatterproof by Xen Sanders Shatterproof Author: Xen Sanders Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Unique and evocative, I found Shatterproof to be both difficult in many ways, yet important, as well. Rich with imagery—from the brushstrokes of Grey Jean-Marceline’s paintings and water drops forming on Saint’s hands, to descriptions of a cold so deep I felt it through my own skin—it is a beautiful, yet precariously balanced examination of one man’s struggle with depression. Immediately in favor of the story as a whole is the thoughtful forward by the author which gives forthright caution with regard to the various trigger warnings present in the narrative. These should absolutely be heeded, but I still felt that Shatterproof is a wonderful story. Though dark in theme and setting throughout most of the story, Shatterproof is also filled with color, both symbolic and literal. The author expertly paints each chapter with many incarnations of that darkness and their counterparts—black canvas and vibrant oils, the night sky split by flashing lights, and the “ebonwood and silver and gold” of Grey himself. And still, even the varying hues of the unspoken stories that crowd every surface in Saint’s room aren’t enough to “fix” what’s really troubling Grey. A big, fascinating part of Shatterproof has to do with Grey’s love of his heritage and his faith. Despite my own ignorance of Catholic vodou, the beauty of Grey’s reverence was clear throughout the narrative, and I was grateful for the author’s often lyrical explanations of the loa, particularly as they seem to come to life on Grey’s canvasses. Unlike the erroneous depictions used in most “Hollywood” versions of the religion, these spirits are earthy and approachable, and have far more in common with those who would seek their aid than might be expected. Unlike a lot of multitasking novels I’ve read in the past, Shatterproof manages to bring together different matters of consequence without losing the impact of any single one of them. A blend of religious symbolism, Celtic mythology, and the brutally specific nature of depression, among a few other things, it is also an unflinching view of the need to address the severe lack of support for those who live with depression every day, particularly among underrepresented groups. Though dark, Shatterproof isn’t without its moments of hope and love, while reinforcing the belief that learning self-acceptance just might be the most important step of all. My Rating:  A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: Saint’s afraid...
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Aug
22

Review: The Flame by Christopher Rice

Review: The Flame by Christopher Rice The Flame Author: Christopher Rice Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: Hey. Hey you. Fan of super sensual erotic romance? Like a little paranormal tossed in to make things interesting? Get your hiney online and one-click some of Christopher Rice’s erotic romance. Yup. He’s the son of Anne Rice, and to be honest, I like his writing better than his mom’s. So there. Chris’s first erotic romance offering is through the 1,001 Dark Nights project, a pretty cool consortium of authors constructing stories under the guise of someone taking the place of Scheherazade and having to tell the king a new story every day to save their life. I am IN LOVE with this concept! I’d heard about the 1,001 Dark Nights tales, but I’d never had the opportunity to sit down and actually read any of them. I was finally tossed in the melee of these beautiful tales when I found out about Coastal Magic Convention, and because I’d have the opportunity to meet Christopher Rice. Um. Why didn’t anyone point out the fact that Mr. Rice was writing erotic romance to me before now?!? Seriously. If this title is his maiden voyage in writing my preferred sub-genre of romance, we ALL need to sign up for newsletters, or do whatever we have to in order to stay up-to-date on his ER releases. I’m going to attempt to explain why I’m so enamored with his writing, but I fear I’ll fail miserably. I am IN LOVE with Mr. Rice’s voice. I’ve read erotic romance penned by men before, and unless it was M/M, the work has always fallen flat for me. I know I’ll be tapping my Chris Rice folder on my Kindle in the future for a comfort read—because it’s just THAT good. Here: “All of it is just too much. It’s heady smells, the depth of feeling it stirs within her. It’s the aromatic equivalent of a bittersweet song played on a lone violin, and each note animates a desire she would like to stay dormant, the desire to once again be at the center of the raw, animal passion of the two men who own her heart.” Maybe it’s because I closely identify with Cassidy, the main character. The want, the desire, the need for something magical to simply ignite my passion. A magical fix-all for some of the things I can’t quite attain (you don’t need to add in the bedroom to...
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Jun
8

Review: All the Broken Places by Anise Eden

Review: All the Broken Places by Anise Eden All the Broken Places Author: Anise Eden Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: All the Broken Places was a rather interesting read, and unlike my normal fare. I liked it. Reader advisory: our main character, Cate, is dealing with the suicide death of her mom, and has suicidal ideation tendencies. If this is a trigger for you, I don’t recommend reading this title. Even though All the Broken Places deals with some tough content, I felt it was handled honestly and with incredible sensitivity. Cate, practically agoraphobic since her mom’s death ten weeks prior, is struggling to regain ‘normal’. She has a slim support system in a work colleague and her friend-with-benefits. Cate, however, is a social worker. In addition to the strong empathy a ‘normal’ social worker has, Cate is able to sense her clients with some different empathic ability. This ability is causing her additional issues as she recovers from her mom’s death, and continues to check on her clients through their bond. Her boss recommends she see someone to help her process her mother’s death, and she is sent to Dr. MacGregor. In the good doctor’s office, she is eventually able to open up about the ‘weird’ things about her. Fortunately, the doctor and her hottie son are experts in weird. They want Cate to agree to attend an intensive program for three weeks. Cate is cautious, but says she is willing to listen. As the nature of this pretty cool program is revealed to Cate, she becomes skeptical, and wants to leave the program. There’s a couple reasons she doesn’t, in my opinion. One of which is Ben MacGregor, who she is attracted to, but struggles to reconcile the emotions swirling around about him. Ben is also a bit broken, and I think all the participants in the MacGregor Group are, to some extent. I like Ben, and I am really interested to learn more about him in the next title. We got some great formative information about him in this title–just enough to whet my appetite. I was particularly interested in the world building done by the author. Ancient civilizations, alternative belief systems, and some quirky personalities make for some fascinating interactions and created all the questions for the next title. My Rating: A, Loved It About the Book: All of Cate’s problems are in her head. That may be her greatest strength.  Cate Duncan is a promising young therapist, dedicated to...
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Jan
13

Review: City of Light by Keri Arthur

Review: City of Light by Keri Arthur City of Light Author: Keri Arthur Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: C What I’m Talking About: City of Light kicks of a new, futuristic fantasy series from Keri Arthur. In this unique world, there was a five-year race war between humans and shifters over a hundred years ago. The weapons used by the shifters ripped open portals to another dimension, allowing all sorts of dangerous “Others,” such as wraiths and vampires, into the world, making it extremely dangerous to live outside the walled cities of light. The story is shared in first person POV of Tiger, the lone déchet who survived the devastating race war. Déchets were human-created beings with the combined DNA of humans, shifters, and vampires. She lives in an old, underground military bunker that manufactured déchets and was destroyed by shifters during the war. She lives an isolated life, out of necessity for she would be killed if discovered, with only the ghosts of the deceased déchets for companionship. But when Tiger helps rescue a young shifter named Penny from a vampire attack, she inadvertently becomes involved in a massive conspiracy that threatens the lives of children. Now she must decide who she can trust while trying to stop any more children from being taken. Being the first book in a fantasy series, I expected a fair amount of world-building. Luckily, the author effectively uses narration and intense action scenes to help shape her new world quickly. She clearly defined what was good and bad and who the key players were. However, after I hit the 40% mark of the book, I felt that the world-building began to dominate the tale, without the development of a clear and engaging story. I found the unique world fascinating, but in the end, I was underwhelmed and confused by the overall plot. As the main character, Tiger held her own throughout the story. She’s caring and kind, while equally fierce and strong. She protects those she claims as hers, which include the ghosts and children. I loved learning all of her different abilities and how she applied them to figure out what was going on. While I enjoyed Tiger and her fresh and almost juvenile view of the world, I didn’t connect with her sexuality. Programmed to be a spy, she used seduction as her means of infiltration. So when she found a lost lover and they engaged in extra curricular activities, I was actually turned off my her ability...
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Jul
31

Review: Nightlife: Night Terrors Box Set by Matthew Quinn Martin

Review: Nightlife: Night Terrors Box Set by Matthew Quinn Martin Nightlife: Night Terrors Box Set Author: Matthew Quinn Martin Reviewers: Gikany and Una What We’re Talking About: Night Terrors: Nightlife (Nightlife #1) This full-length story was previously released in October 2013. You can read our full review using the link below: Nightlife by Matthew Quinn Martin Night Terrors: Hazardous Material (Nightlife #1.5) It is not often, but every once in a while, Gikany and Una do not agree on a review.  You are in for a treat because we are split on our opinions about this novella in the Nightlife series.  Generally we both liked it, but Una enjoyed it more than Gikany. This novella can be read as a stand-alone story although it is currently included in a boxed set, Night Terrors, with the first two novels.  In fact, it works as a decent introduction to the series.  Hazardous Material deals with an offshoot of the world and gives a deeper look into a mysterious entity from the first novel, Nightlife, the ever-allusive Division.  It does give a good feel for the series – the suspense and creepiness are evident as well as the mystery. As stated, this novella is a little different.  It centers on Jarrod who finds an old arcade video game.  Una enjoyed this ghost-in-the-machine story, although whether it is a possessed video game or just diabolically clever programming is left for the reader to decide.  We watch as Jarrod finds it, plays it, and becomes a slave to it.  The story is creepy and suspenseful.  Una enjoyed the goosebumps it caused.  For Gikany however, it was just strange. The various news clippings included during the novel gave some foreshadowing and clues, but we liked how they added to the overall feel of the novel without taking away from Jarrod’s story.  True to how Nightlife played out, nothing is as it seems.  Although this gives a deeper look at the Division, we still are not sure if they are “good guys” or “bad guys”, but we look forward to the next novel in the series. If you enjoy suspense, a bit of creepiness and with a touch of horror, you may just want to give Hazardous Material a try.  It was delightfully creepy. Our Ratings: Una: A- Enjoyed A Lot Gikany: B, Liked It Night Terrors: As the Worm Turns (Nightlife #2) The second novel in Nightlife series was not quite what we were expecting, although it was not lacking in suspense and horrific monsters. ...
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Jul
7

Review: Ink and Shadows by Rhys Ford

Review: Ink and Shadows by Rhys Ford Ink and Shadows Author: Rhys Ford Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Beautiful and alone (and most likely insane), Kismet understands exactly why he doesn’t belong anywhere. Having a childhood scarred by loss and neglect, combined with the ability to see the dark things that lurk in the shadows, hasn’t made him fit for anything but his own solitude. Yet, when the impossible happens, and he’s caught in the middle of a fight between immortals, Kismet not only gains an unlikely ally, but the deepest friendship he’s ever known. As Pestilence, the youngest of the Four Horsemen, Mal gets that he has a lot to learn. Still, it would be nice if the other Horsemen understood him a little better. The simple truth is that he just doesn’t feel like he belongs. But, when an unknown force threatens the boundary between mankind and the creatures that hunt them, the Four discover that a very special human is the key to unraveling the mystery, and, for the first time, Mal finds something that’s truly worth fighting for. When I saw Ink and Shadows, the first in a new paranormal series by Rhys Ford, in a list of upcoming releases, I was immediately intrigued by the idea of a twist on the Four Horsemen. The blurb and cover were enough to further pique my interest, but after hearing what else was said about Ink and Shadows, my curiosity increased exponentially. I’ve never reviewed a title that came with a disclaimer from the publisher about the things the novel isn’t before. A suspense story with LGBTQ characters, but no promise of a “happily ever after?” Count me in! The author has attempted an expansive undertaking that covers all kinds of phenomena and myths—from Vices and Virtues to the Sidhe courts of the Fae, and, most especially, to the Four Horsemen themselves. Saying that nothing is as it seems in Ink and Shadows is an understatement, but attempting to explain the intricacies of the story in detail would give too much away. The world Ms. Ford has created is complicated and richly textured, and learning about it through the eyes of the characters was an enormously satisfying part of reading the book in the first place. While it isn’t a romance, Ink and Shadows is certainly not devoid of romantic moments. In fact, the novel’s treatment of intimacy, in its many different forms, provided some of my favorite scenes. The personal interactions...
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