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Currently Browsing: paranormal
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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Jul
1

Review: How to Date Dead Guys by Ann M. Noser

Review: How to Date Dead Guys by Ann M. Noser How to Date Dead Guys Author: Ann M. Noser Reviewer: VampBard Rating: B What I’m Talking About: It had been awhile since I’d read a paranormal. I like ghosts. They’re cool. Witchcraft and rites? Yeah. I dig it. A good, strong female main character? All about it. How to Date Dead Guys, by Ann M. Noser, is a great read, and I’d say it’s appropriate for about 10th grade & up, unless you’ve got a mature one on your hands. I’m super close to classifying it as a young adult, but the author didn’t put it in any of those categories on Amazon. Let me preface my ‘meh’ things about this title. I don’t read much young adult anymore, unless I’m in the mood for a good dystopian. This whole ‘new adult’ super-sub genre makes me shake my head because I *really* don’t see titles of this nature as targeting a different demographic than older young adult. A couple things bugged me. There was a plot hole, which irritated me. But, I’m told by friends who are more tech-savvy than I, it is possible for a phone to swim in owner’s pocket and survive. The pacing was…different. The beginning didn’t engage me very much, but it’s probably because I like to read characters different from myself, and Emma’s a lot like me (except I don’t see ghosts…much). Once we got to the paranormal part—actual ghost engagement—it was better. I actually cruised through the last half of the book rather rapidly. I was impressed by the way the paranormal element was handled. Ms. Noser created a world where specific elements are necessary, and totally cleared up most of my ‘oh, heck no’ inner monologue before I even got there in my own head. The dead guys. I found it really intriguing that Emma connects so deeply with each one of them in a different way. All the backstory for each one is well-fleshed out, and substantial enough I didn’t have questions. By the end, that is. After about the 60% mark, when I started in with my constant inner litany, ‘Wait, what? I need more info’, significant details were reeled out in a controlled and purposeful manner. Emma Roberts is initially a little rich girl, and her Eeyore persona made me twitchy in the beginning. I very nearly didn’t finish this title, but then everything kicked into high-gear. Emma’s change was over time, and it appeared gradual to me. I...
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Jun
23

Review: Safe at Last by Maya Banks

Review: Safe at Last by Maya Banks Safe at Last Author: Maya Banks Reviewer: VampBard Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Maya Banks’ Slow Burn series has been a wild rollercoaster of a ride. I had high hopes for Safe at Last, but I ended up being pretty meh about it. First, I read an ARC. I edit books, I know things change. However, I felt like the first 2/3 of the book was slow, rehashed a bazillion things we knew already without much purpose. Maybe this was looked at in the final version (and I hope so). I came VERY close to not finishing this title at about the 45% mark because I just couldn’t stomach the rehashing anymore. Dramatic eye-rolling may have ensued. And I may have groaned in disgust a few times. After about the 60% mark, the story picked up. Things fell in line parallel to how I’m used to Ms. Banks’ stories rolling. I’m not going to tell readers to skim-read chunks of a book, but it really was worth getting to this point for me. The last 40% of Safe at Last saved the title from a D rating from me. Gracie started out as a really timid, whiny character for me. I didn’t even really see her character growth until that last 40%, and it was BAM! There it was. I ended up liking her, because she turns pretty badass at the end. And she loves Zack, who definitely deserves it. She had dealt with an ultimate mind-fu*$ when she was merely a child, and the effects lasted through her adulthood. A long twelve years. Can’t really tell you much about Gracie, without spoilers, except her character growth was worth trudging through the first 60% of the book. It was really intriguing to get to know Zack. We haven’t learned much about him in previous titles of the Slow Burn series, but seeing this highly-trained, and dangerous in his own right dude completely flattened. His vow of vengeance is not taken lightly, and I’m not even sure how Ms. Banks wrote his character, having to bring him and his white-hot need for justice to heel. I clearly liked Zack better than Gracie. He felt so broken from the beginning of the book, and even though the beginning seemed to be just tormenting him more, we ended up seeing Zack’s true colors at the end. Definitely read the first two titles of the Slow Burn series before taking on Safe...
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Feb
5

Review: Master of Plagues by E.L. Tettensor

Review: Master of Plagues by E.L. Tettensor Master of Plagues Author: E.L. Tettensor Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: A- What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una have been on pins and needles, anxiously awaiting Master of Plagues.  Ms. Tettensor did not disappoint!  Though this mystery was a bit different from the first, we still enjoyed the mythology, the world, and the twists and turns of this tightly woven story. The novel opens as a plague is starting to decimate one of the outlying areas of Kennian.  Lenoir and Kody are called in to determine if the epidemic was intentionally caused and if so who might have orchestrated it.  As the clues are slowly uncovered, our heroes find themselves in the sights of the mastermind of it all. Without spoiling the novel, let us just say it was great.  Master of Plagues takes place in the wonderfully gray world of Darkwalker.  This alternate world fascinates us with its combination of different cultures and politics.  Although the paranormal aspect that we loved in the previous novel was absent in this one, we still found it engrossing.  The prejudices that exist between the Adali and Kennians were even more poignant in this story.  The Adali have the ability to cure the plague, but the physicians dismiss their treatment as witchdoctor rubbish.  Watching as Lenoir works to ease the prejudices enough that some cooperation can exist was fascinating. What truly sets off this gray world is the contrast we have between Kody and Zach.  Kody is one of the few people who still sees the world as black or white.  He is young and idealistic – reminding Lenoir of who he once was and will never truly be again.  Zach, on the other hand, can see all of the shades of gray.  His understanding of how the world works allows him to survive and yet still dream of being a hound.  Zach adds the bulk of humor and innocence to this story.  The contrast of Kody and Zach helps to highlight the changes in Lenoir. Upon the conclusion of Darkwalker, we wondered what character growth would manifest in Lenoir as Master of Plagues unraveled.  When Una mentioned to Gikany that Lenoir seemed almost just as he was, her response was, “you were looking for miracles?”  Despite Lenoir appearing almost unaffected by his experiences, there were minute changes that could be easily overlooked.  Without Lenoir’s inner monologue, we would have continued to believe, as those around him do, that he is...
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Jan
26

Review + Giveaway: In His Keeping by Maya Banks

Review + Giveaway: In His Keeping by Maya Banks In His Keeping Author: Maya Banks Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: I ate up this book. Literally. I would have read it in one sitting, if I’d had the time. That’s usually the case with Maya Banks’s titles, though. Especially the Slow Burn series. In His Keeping was no exception. Take a little Alpha male, a damsel-in-distress, some paranormal abilities, a dash of kidnapping and you’ve got the wild roller coaster that was In His Keeping. The action kept me riveted to this title, and looking forward to the next title in the series. What drew me into the story was the love that Ginger and Gavin had for Ariana. The lengths that they would go to, in order to protect their daughter. I think that the exploration of how much Ari was wanted pulled at my mom-heartstrings, and kicked in my mom-instincts as I read. It was pretty cool that Ginger and Gavin played a pretty significant role in the story, too. Ariana is super naïve when the story starts. She knows she has telekinesis, but she’s had to hide this aspect of herself for her entire life. Only her parents knew. Her over-protective parents. She’d never used her ‘gift’ purposely. She’d always been careful, so she wouldn’t be discovered. With an event that happened to bring her powers into the public eye, Gavin and Ginger do what parents do best: protect their kids. Only, things don’t go quite as planned. In the end, Ari ends up being totally kick-ass. I want her on my team. Beau. Broody, Alpha, and in control. He comes into Ari’s life at a time when she needs a protector, and someone to help her make sense of all the chaos that surrounds her. Ultimately, what I liked most about Beau is that he wasn’t afraid to let his emotions show with regard to Ari. And it was totally out-of-character for him. This tough guy, the one who is all ‘protect and serve’, is brought to his knees by a slip of a woman that has wormed her way into his heart. His worry about her is intense, and made my own gut churn with concern. What I liked most about In His Keeping was that differences were celebrated. Ari wasn’t deemed as damaged and didn’t need ‘fixing’. She was believed in and not viewed as a ‘freak’ because of her gift. The fact that she eventually embraced her gift...
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Oct
13

DNF Review: Broken by Traci L. Slatton

DNF Review: Broken by Traci L. Slatton Broken Author: Traci Slatton Reviewer: Una Rating: DNF What I’m Talking About: Broken is the latest release by Traci Slatton. I was intrigued by the premise, but unfortunately I did not care for the book.  Between the contrast of flowery, romantic language and the atrocities of this time period, along with the overt sexual scenes and innuendoes side-by-side with political/historical discussions, I was never able to get into the story and ended up not finishing it. The novel is told from the point of view of the fallen angel Aria.  Since it is told in first person present, I felt as if I was being told what was going on rather than allowing me to experience the journey with the characters.  But what really made me uncomfortable was the flowery language.  Broken reads with a heavy romantic essence, which contrasts with the ugliness of the events. The novel was further stifled in its flow due to the characters discussions regarding the war, politics, and current events.  However these discussions were entwined with sexual non sequiturs taking form in either innuendoes or actions.  These sexual overtures added to my discomfort while the discussions left me disinterested and bored. I did not think that this story would be rainbows and roses.  The history and horrors of this time period are understood enough that I didn’t think I would be spared the ugly realities of war – especially considering the characters and their plight.  But I didn’t think I would the story would contain such graphic detail.  The rape that occurs at the 50% mark was not something I was expecting, and it was overly graphic.  My stomach was just as nauseated as the character’s.  This moment was awful enough, but knowing that these forced interludes continued throughout the book, and that the character tries to find respite in another, was distasteful to me.  Though it seems the ongoing rape affects the character, the fact that she tries to continue as if it did not happen, bothers me greatly.  Especially when a few pages later, it seems this character is most happily engaging in sexual intercourse and firmly in denial. At the 67% mark, my stomach turned so much, I could not continue reading.  There is yet another graphic scene; the torture of a man and the introduction of another rape.  Maybe others can read this without the disgust and horror I experienced, but I do not see how this can be...
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