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Currently Browsing: paranormal
May
17

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Witch Slapped by Danielle Garrett

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Witch Slapped by Danielle Garrett Welcome to our feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Witch Slapped Author: Danielle Garrett Narrator: Amanda Ronconi Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Beechwood Harbor Magic Mysteries #3 Genre: Paranormal Mystery Source: Tantor Audio Witch Slapped takes listeners back to the coastal town of Beechwood Harbor and the adventures of resident witch, Holly Boldt. The holidays are approaching and Holly’s shifter boyfriend Adam shares the news that his parents are coming to town. And if that isn’t stressful enough, Holly’s SPA agent moves into the manor, working on a secret investigation. Unfortunately, Holly’s thriving potions business isn’t entirely legal, and she is worried he’ll discover the truth and send her to prison for good. Toss in a cheating spouse, gruesome murder, and a mafia vampire family, and things are pretty much normal for Holly. I’m really enjoying the cozy mystery with a paranormal twist stories of the Beechwood Harbor Magic Mysteries series. When we last saw Holly, she was finally opening up to Adam and making a home in Beechwood Harbor. However, apparently Holly didn’t really change in the months following the previous book. Once again, she stumbles into trouble while on an investigation with Nick. And while she shares some of what is going on with the out-of-town Adam, she continues to go behind his back and take matters into her own hands. Additionally, being around Nick causes Holly to question her future and where things are heading with Adam. This frustrated me to no end when listening to Witch Slapped. And honestly, at this point, if it becomes a reoccurring theme in each title, I may have to back away. Either put Holly and Adam together and allow their relationship to bloom, or break them up and have Holly move on with life. OR, just drop the romantic entanglements altogether, and focus solely on the engrossing mysteries.  Outside of the romance, I enjoyed the continuing development of camaraderie and friendship between Holly and several of the supporting characters. Here is one place the overall character development is progressing. Additionally, the mystery itself is exciting. I enjoy listening to Holly pull the pieces together or work them over with Nick. I just wish Nick and best friend Cassie could be in the know (about supernaturals).  Although I enjoyed the storyline in Witch Slapped, the conclusion of the mystery went down very quickly and fell a bit flat for me. Holly made big plans on how to bring down the bad...
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Apr
25

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Twice the Witch by Danielle Garrett

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Twice the Witch by Danielle Garrett Welcome to our feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Twice the Witch Author: Danielle Garrett Narrator: Amanda Ronconi Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Beechwood Harbor Magic Mysteries #2 Genre: Paranormal Mystery Source: Tantor Audio Picking up about a month after the conclusion of the first book, Twice the Witch finds our heroine Holly settled into her life in Beechwood Harbor. She spends most of her time working at the local coffee shop, Siren’s Song, having to cut short time spent with new boyfriend, housemate and werewolf, Adam. Holly contemplates her current situation, knowing she doesn’t want to spend her life working at the coffee shop, hoping to grow her mostly illegal potion selling business. She’s weary of confiding in Adam because of her mysterious past. Holly is also dealing with being one of two witches at the manor. She’s a bit jealous of newcomer Evangeline, but more annoyed with her. Evangeline has her eye on Adam, and seems to be up to something nefarious.  The story picks up speed quickly with the introduction of a newly deceased ghost and her connection to a case Nick, the town’s new PI, is working on. Once again, Holly finds herself wrapped up in a murder investigation, determined to help Nick solve the mystery, using her magically enhanced detective skills without his knowledge. The murder mystery is clever and exciting. I found myself engrossed in the guessing game of whodunit, even when I was worried Holly was sabotaging her relationship with Adam because of how much time she spends with Nick. In addition to the murder mystery, Twice the Witch explores more about Holly’s past and the Haven system. Through her interactions with Evangeline and Adam, Holly gives readers clues about what got her evicted from the magical Haven system where most supernaturals live their lives. I appreciate the balance of answers and new questions the author puts into the book. I also really like the direction the overarching story takes by the end of the book, solidify some tenuous relationships and creating a solid cast of characters for the upcoming titles.  As I mentioned in my review of the first book, Murder’s a Witch, I picked up the series because of narrator, Amanda Ronconi, who continues to do a marvelous job with the varied cast of characters. Ms. Ronconi narrates the story in the voice of primary character, Holly, infusing her quirky personality with pep and joy. She nails Holly’s nutty persona, bringing...
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Apr
11

Review: Into the Thinnest of Air by Simon R. Green

Review: Into the Thinnest of Air by Simon R. Green Into the Thinnest of Air Author: Simon R. Green Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B  What We’re Talking About: After the revelation in the previous Ishmael Jones novel, we were surprised by Into the Thinnest of Air.  We weren’t expecting an intermission. Simon Green’s witty mystery/suspense series with a science-fiction twist has fascinated us for four novels.  Ishmael and Penny brave the strange and horrific, sleuthing out the culprit(s) while maintaining witty banter.  After the hint given in the previous book we had hoped to learn more about Ishmael’s mysterious past or see if Ishmael decides to dig into it.  What we didn’t expect is for Penny to surprise him with a holiday weekend.   Into the Thinnest of Air felt like a break in the overarching plot of Ishmael’s past.  Penny and Ishmael go into the country for a fun weekend, visiting a group of Penny’s father’s old friends.  However, nothing for them is ever as it seems and people begin to disappear after dinner.  With no bodies to examine and nothing in the way of clues left, Penny and Ishmael are lost as they try to figure out what is going on.  The majority of the novel is mostly the remaining members of the group arguing about if the disappearances are the work of the supernatural or a more mundane monster.  This group of friends is made up of a handful of once young-dreamers now resigned middle-aged adults chained to the fate that a bad decision left them.  The revelation of the mystery is as fascinating as it is chilling heinous, but it felt as if Penny and Ishmael spent most of the novel either chatting, arguing, or running around in circles.  As a standalone mystery, it is interesting but as the next novel in this series, we were a bit let down.   Although this is our least favorite story in this series, we still really like this series and are eager to see what happens in the next installment.  The mystery/drama may have been a little lackluster, but the humor and wit was still strong.  Hopefully it will be less a battle of words and suspicions and more battling of the evil forces in the world in the upcoming story.  Our fingers are crossed that more of Ishmael’s background will come into play in the next Ishmael Jones novel. Our Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: Ishmael Jones and his partner Penny are attending...
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Feb
27

Review: Dead Eye by Alyssa Day

Review: Dead Eye by Alyssa Day Dead Eye Author: Alyssa Day Reviewer: Jen Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Tess has lived in Dead End her whole life. Although the town is no stranger to the weird and unexplained, she’s a bit of an oddball; able to see a person’s death when coming into contact with another. She runs a pawn shop, which she is now partial owner, and genuinely loves her job. Jack, a tiger shifter, has been away for ten years, leading the human resistance against vampires and working side by side with the Atlanteans. He recently discovered his uncle (and only family member), Jeremiah, was murdered, and after being back in Dead End for less than a day, another dead body is dumped at the door to his deceased uncle’s pawn shop. Now Jack is determined to figure out what’s going on. I absolutely enjoyed reading Dead Eye, the first in Ms. Day’s new Tiger’s Eye Mysteries (although the book was previously released). The story is shared by the first person POV of Tess, and features Jack, one of the heroes from the Warriors of Poseidon series. There are so many delightful surprises in this one… and not at all what I expected after reading the Warriors of Poseidon. Dead Eye is filled with light-hearted humor and has a cozy-mystery vibe. The mystery of who killed Jeremiah and what is happening in Dead End builds slowly and clues delivered sporadically. Tess and Jack do a great job of seeing the interconnected strings that tie everything together. While it’s not a surprise who did what and why by the time the master plan is revealed, it unfolds in a way that is thoughtful and interesting. Tess is a great heroine. She’s an “average Joe” (with a weird gift of being able to foresee a person’s death), who rises to the occasion. She finds courage when she doesn’t expect it. She’s kind and good, but has a wicked side when it comes to seeking vengeance against those who’ve done harm to innocents. Jack compliments her in many ways,  bolstering her and allowing her to be more. Their attraction is slow-burning but obvious to the reader. Dead Eye is a fabulous, engrossing story filled with great humor, interesting adventures, and a hint of romance that has the potential for some serious heat. I found myself cheering for Jack and Tess. I enjoyed meeting all of Dead End’s denizens, with all their quirks and flaws. The...
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Feb
22

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Sightlines by Santino Hassell

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Sightlines by Santino Hassell Welcome to our feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Sightlines Author:  Santino Hassell Narrator: Greg Boudreaux Audio Speed: 1.0x Series: The Community #3 Genre: Paranormal suspense, LBGTQ, m/m romance Source: Tantor Audio 3/10/2018 Edited to Add: Please note, this review was written and posted prior to the occurrences brought to light in recent days (https://thesaltminers.tumblr.com/post/171680546960/the-santino-hassell-debacle). The book was read and reviewed in good faith and as presented at the time. The posting of this review in no way condones the actions of author. ======== In this third, and final, addition to The Community series, author Santino Hassell brings all the conflict and suspense that has been building since the beginning to a compelling and satisfying end. As both prize and project, Chase has been the realization of the darkest machinations of the Community itself his entire life, as well as the common thread between all the other characters we’ve gotten to know so far. Additionally, Chase and Elijah have been favorites, if captivating unknowns, throughout the many twists and turns of the series, so I thought it especially fitting that this part of the arc is theirs. While I had a little difficulty keeping track of how much time passes in the very beginning of Sightlines (which is fitting, since time is a means of control on the farm), the speed with which the plot starts unfolding takes effect fairly early in the narrative. What’s been done to Chase all his life is completely abhorrent, and I found that hearing his perspective in the audiobook version was as devastating as it was during my initial reading of the story. Elijah, too, has unhealed wounds, inflicted by people who should have loved him, making his hidden strengths the inverse—yet perfectly matched—answer to Chase’s necessarily unacknowledged need for support. Narrator Greg Boudreaux likewise sees the series through with just as solid a performance as when he began. With all the characters reuniting for much of the story, eventually leading to an emotionally fraught and fast-paced conclusion, his ability to maintain each distinctive voice was more impressive than ever. His unflinching portrayal of the sometimes wildly shifting emotions of the characters was equally noteworthy, and he remains one of my favorite performers. Although The Community series has been a departure from most of Mr. Hassell’s other stories I’ve read, I believe it is an indisputably successful one. Common themes such as greed and fear are explored in an entirely different way in...
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Feb
22

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Murder’s a Witch by Danielle Garrett

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Murder’s a Witch by Danielle Garrett Welcome to our feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Murder’s a Witch Author: Danielle Garrett Narrator: Amanda Ronconi Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Beechwood Harbor Magic Mysteries #1 Genre: Paranormal Mystery Source: Tantor Audio Holly, a powerful witch, has been tossed from the Haven, a secret system of living for paranormals. She’s been placed in a communal home for displaced paras, living in the small town of Beechwood Harbor. Working at a coffee shop to make ends meet, Holly is shocked when she shows up for work only to find her grumpy boss Peg murdered in the back alley. When her best friend is named as the primary suspect, Holly uses her witchy ways to get to the bottom of this mystery. Murder’s a Witch is a fun, entertaining story. This is the first time I’ve selected an audiobook primarily because of the narrator, and I’m glad I did. I enjoyed the small-town, cozy paranormal mystery with a slight blossom of romance. Even though at first, I found the house infighting annoying, and the characters a bit over-the-top, I grew to like the residents of Beechwood Harbor. Holly is a bit of a mess, and she has secrets, of which we learned very little. Hopefully those answers will come in time, but the immediate mystery of who killed Peg was engrossing. I liked listening as Holly worked to put all of the pieces together. I loved the light-hearted nature of the story, watching friendships develop, seeing Adam’s genuine interest in Holly, etc. Some of the storylines were a bit cheesy – like the vampiress beauty queen, but mostly it is a good mix of fun. As I mentioned, I picked up this story because, while it looked interesting, the narrator is one of my favorites: Amanda Ronconi. She does a wonderful job with the story, creating and maintaining unique and fitting voices for each character. Ms. Ronconi succeeds with the quirky, first-person female lead, and Holly is no exception. I’ve become familiar with most of her voices, yet never did I confuse Murder’s a Witch with another story. In the end, I enjoyed my first visit to Beechwood Harbor. I like that there is still a lot of unknown around Holly, like why she was kicked out of the Haven system, and with town newcomer, Nick… I feel like there is more to him than meets the eye. I will definitely pick up future titles of the Beechwood Harbor Magic...
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Feb
1

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Oversight by Santino Hassell

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Oversight by Santino Hassell Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Oversight Author:  Santino Hassell Narrator: Greg Boudreaux Audio Speed: 1.0x Series: The Community #2 Genre: Paranormal suspense, LBGTQ, m/m romance Source: Tantor Audio 3/10/2018 Edited to Add: Please note, this review was written and posted prior to the occurrences brought to light in recent days (https://goo.gl/Y7WB7F). The book was read and reviewed in good faith and as presented at the time. The posting of this review in no way condones the actions of author. ======== Entitled, gorgeous, and, (somewhat) oblivious, Holden Payne has been an outspoken champion of The Community all his life. Despite his contentious relationship with his father (who happens to be the most powerful of the founders), his devotion to The Community’s ostensible mission to help “lost” psys who flock to his nightclub in NYC is his greatest source of pride. Or, at least it was, until a series of disappearances and murders occurred on his watch, exposing a more sinister agenda at work. Now, inexplicably the focus of an investigation by the very group that raised him, Holden has been given a babysitter in the form of a socially inept, emotionally vacant—and gorgeous—lumbersexual named Sixtus Rossi. Immune to Holden’s usual charms and psychic abilities, Sixtus presents a serious problem—especially since Holden’s attraction to the man becomes more undeniable by the day. With the discovery of another faction working against The Community straining his loyalties, getting closer to Sixtus could either lead to Holden’s downfall or finally allow him to experience the only real love he’s ever known. Once again, Mr. Boudreaux seems to have put a lot of thought and effort into his performance of Oversight, making both Holden’s cultured purr and Sixtus’ deadpan Bronx accent believable and persuasive. One of the most unique things about Six is his inability to process—or express—emotions based on typical cues. As such, he doesn’t have much of a filter, and I found this narrator’s take on the fact particularly amusing as well as more touching than I might have otherwise. Additionally, the accents reintroduced with return of other characters—Nate’s Texas twang, in particular—could have been tempered in deference to those of the main characters, but that’s not the case here. Each remains distinct and vibrant throughout, providing additional strength to the already solid reading. While I enjoyed this version of Oversight tremendously, I think that reading the book first made me fonder of the overall production than if...
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Jan
4

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Insight by Santino Hassell

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Insight by Santino Hassell Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Insight Author:  Santino Hassell Narrator: Greg Boudreaux Audio Speed: 1.0x Series: The Community #1 Genre: Paranormal suspense, LBGTQ, m/m romance Source: Tantor Audio 3/10/2018 Edited to Add: Please note, this review was written and posted prior to the occurrences brought to light in recent days (https://goo.gl/Y7WB7F). The book was read and reviewed in good faith and as presented at the time. The posting of this review in no way condones the actions of author. ======== Being part of the Black Family has always been its own punishment for Nate. As the only openly gay guy in his tiny Texas high school, in addition to his family’s sketchy reputation, he was always an outcast among outcasts. After the presumed death of their mother, Nate and his brother, Theo, ought to have been as inseparable as identical twins are supposed to be, but that didn’t work out, either. But when Nate’s world is turned inside out by visions of Theo’s murder, he heads to New York for answers and discovers a secret society of fellow psychics, conspiracy theories, and more murders. Meeting Trent, a gorgeous, compassionate, protective Engineer along the way—who’s also the one person who’s ever given Nate a sense of peace—must be fate. If only he can find enough faith in himself to believe it. Having enjoyed the entire The Community series by Santino Hassell, I admit to being a little worried about how the audiobook would turn out. Much to my delight, I really liked this version of Insight, and found that everything that initially drew me in was not only undiminished by the performance, but that even more details revealed themselves through listening. Based on a fascinating premise—an attempt at world domination with a psychic twist—there’s an awful lot to keep track of in Insight, but the narration made doing so a pleasure, and I was able to happily surrender myself to the story the author originally created. Although he’s appearing under a different name here, I already own several titles read by Greg Boudreaux. As was the case with the others, I found his performance to be extremely enjoyable. Nate’s Texas twang wasn’t too overdone, and tended to deepen believably when he was upset or excited. The other characters were treated similarly, with Mr. Boudreaux’s inflections and tones shifting and softening almost delicately sometimes, making each character sound unmistakable and distinct. I absolutely recommend the audiobook...
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Jun
28

Review + Blog Tour: Oversight by Santino Hassell

Review + Blog Tour: Oversight by Santino Hassell Oversight Author: Santino Hassell Reviewer: B. Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: 3/10/2018 Edited to Add: Please note, this review was written and posted prior to the occurrences brought to light in recent days (https://goo.gl/Y7WB7F). The book was read and reviewed in good faith and as presented at the time. The posting of this review in no way condones the actions of author. ======== After falling in love with Insight, the first in the Community series, I had high hopes for this story—and the end result far exceeded any expectations I might have had. In fact, I believe that Oversight has elevated the entire series by several degrees, and there’s still one more book to go. With a mix of characters both familiar and new, Oversight is filled with some of the most vivid personalities ever—some good, some bad—and, as was the case in its predecessor, it can be difficult to tell the difference sometimes. Although I didn’t care for Holden in Insight, a more thorough examination of his adolescence and the tactics and motives of the Community gave me a much greater appreciation for him and what he’s currently going through. It was Sixtus, however, that won me over completely. His unique talent is a perfect disguise for what simmers beneath the surface, and I found him to be utterly mesmerizing. Mr. Hassell has given life to someone truly remarkable in Sixtus, his gifts as intriguing as the man himself. He’s an immediate favorite, one who makes the entire novel worth a reread as soon as possible just to ensure that I didn’t miss a single detail. I absolutely adored him. While Nate’s story kept me invested from the beginning, the conspiracy that unfolds throughout Oversight felt even more urgent at times, the building suspense making getting through those moments a white-knuckling affair in all the right ways. From the first chapter, the momentum crescendos in extremely well-timed sequences of recollection and desperation, and once I hit the midway point, the narrative owned me until the very end. Although I think it would be enjoyable regardless, Oversight isn’t a standalone. There’s a momentum that was introduced in the first story that works its way to a frenzied pace here that I couldn’t look away from. The return of quite a few characters from book one means that this series needs to be read in its proper succession, but it’s well worth it. There are layers of secrets and...
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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: 3/10/2018 Edited to Add: Please note, this review was written and posted prior to the occurrences brought to light in recent days (https://goo.gl/Y7WB7F). The book was read and reviewed in good faith and as presented at the time. The posting of this review in no way condones the actions of author. ======== 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,...
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