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Currently Browsing: paranormal
Feb
13

Review: Darkwalker by E.L. Tettensor

Review: Darkwalker by E.L. Tettensor Darkwalker Author: E. L. Tettensor  Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A What We’re Talking About: Darkwalker is the debut novel in the Nicholas Lenoir series.  It seems the series will chronicle Nicholas Lenoir, a detective in a dark, historical fantasy world.  We were wary at first, but we found ourselves rooting for this anti-hero and really loved this first offering that left us hungry for more! Gikany and Una have a habit of diving into a book without much research (unless you count reading the book’s back blurb).  As we started Darkwalker, it started to dawn on us that not only is it historical, it is taking place in a fictional world.  Take Sherlock Holmes’s London, change the name and place it somewhere else, with another cultural group nearby that transects it, and take the dark, dreary factor way up.  This is where our story takes place…and it is mesmerizing.  We really enjoyed the landscapes that were created in our mind’s eye – the descriptions are rich and they greatly enhance the atmosphere of the novel.  The conflict and prejudice that exists between the “whites” and the Adali is compelling, reminiscent of those conflicts between Anglos and Africans as well as Anglos and Gypsies in our histories.  We found the tension between these two groups authentic, enriching the world and storytelling without any sign of preaching.  It truly added another element to the world-building, giving it a foundation as it alluded to our own historical pasts. However the most compelling element in Darkwalker is most assuredly Nicholas Lenoir.  This is the author’s take on the five things you need to know about Lenoir (taken from a guest post linked on her website): He’s the smartest person in the room. In his mind, at least. He doesn’t believe in redemption—least of all for him. Wherever you come from, Lenoir’s hometown is better. You’re just going to have to trust him on this. Words are weapons, but silence is power. We all have our demons, but his are darker. And in the room. Right now. We have read other novels where the main character is not well liked by others, but to the reader is captivating and enchanting.  That is not Lenoir.  As we started Darkwalker, we disliked him (we have some colorful pejoratives we could use, but we’re sure you get the gist).  In fact, we were so angry with him, we almost stopped reading.  But, this shows how well the...
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Dec
27

Review: Shatter by Joan Swan

Review: Shatter by Joan Swan Shatter Author: Joan Swan Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: I have enjoyed Joan Swan’s Phoenix Rising series since the first book, Fever. The series is a sublime mix of action/adventure and strong, palatable sex appeal. Each book chronicles the adventures of a close-knit group of friends who is being hunted by a power-hungry US senator. The long-awaited conclusion of their trials culminates in Shatter. Due to this fact, and that there is a complex back story, I do not suggest a new-to-the-series reader start with Shatter; however, if one really wanted, it could be read as a stand alone. The story opens just after the conclusion of the third book, Rush, when Mitch Foster discovered that the one woman he ever loved (who left him for her Russian husband seven years ago), was intimately involved with his nemesis, Senator Schaeffer, and the project that ruined his friends’ lives all those years ago. Now that he knows their past was a lie, he tracks down Halina to recover any information she has that will help him put away Schaeffer for good. I enjoyed the opening of the story. I laughed as Mitch spied on Halina and Halina spied on Mitch (not knowing who he was). There was some mistaken identity humor that made me smile. Much of the early part of the story is told from Mitch’s POV, so we know she is the only woman he’s ever loved and that her lies shaped the lonely man he is today. Mitch’s hurt and the feelings of betrayal are well documented, allowing me to feel sympathetic towards his situation. However, I did not feel the same of Halina’s plight. Although she left Mitch for his own protection, I honestly could not connect with her reasoning. She really did a number on Mitch, and although she may have “had the best intentions,” we all know the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Her actions were near unforgivable, and I found little sympathy for her. For me, her cold-hearted behavior damaged the relationship and made it difficult for me to connect with the pair as a romantic couple. While they did share some steamy sexual moments, I felt that their actions and behavior overshadowed the romance. In addition, there is a possible pregnancy subplot that didn’t sit well with me. The story is also a bit overwhelming to read at times. With so many characters and voices...
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Dec
24

Review: City of Lost Dreams by Magnus Flyte

Review: City of Lost Dreams by Magnus Flyte City of Lost Dreams Author: Magnus Flyte  Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: I was excited to read City of Lost Dreams, sequel to City of Dark Magic, by Magnus Flyte. What I wasn’t counting on, however, was the time it would take me to savor this beautifully written novel that reaches my classical artistic and musical sides that are so frequently tucked into a tiny drawer, waiting to be let out to play. However, this title is so skillfully written, I fear that others will become as entranced with the music and art mentioned as I have been. Which means that the websites I usually visit to feed the art monster are going to load a bit slower. The story opens with a great summary of the previous title. I’m not  counting the Prologue – I’ve not figured out how that piece fits in quite yet. I like the way Flyte recaps Pollina and her delicate medical condition and her history with Sarah. How Nico is so old and little and about his gregarious attitude and demeanor (as well as his alcoholic tendencies). We also see Max again. And that familiar spark between Sarah and Max sparks. Helga? Helene…Harriet. Yes, It’s Harriet. “He was about a half step away from seeing Rudolph II on a piece of toast.” Sarah was talking about Max here. I laughed-out-loud remembering the GLEE episode where Finn has a grilled cheese sandwich that he believes has the face of Jesus on it. I thought this sentence totally captured the essence of Max. He’s a dreamer that is looking for his Holy Grail – one day, he’ll find it. I was a little sad that we didn’t see more of Max in this title. I surely hope that there’s a third book that will fill us in on what’s been going on with him! What I like most about Pollina – Pols – is how direct and honest she is. Her observations about a situation seem to be spot-on, and while she can’t see – due to her blindness – she seems to be quite intuitive. And she’s more self-aware than others realize. I cried at how beautiful her soul is. “…it’s not hard to make history come alive in Prague. The hard part is making history stay dead.” Sarah says this to Harriet, Max’s new girlfriend when she talks about writing a historical fiction novel about Elizabeth Weston, a contemporary poet...
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Nov
6

Review: Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield

Review: Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield Bellman & Black Author: Diane Setterfield  Reviewer: Nima Rating: B, 3 stars What I’m Talking About: Having loved Diane Setterfield’s debut book, The Thirteenth Tale, I waited anxiously for her to give us a second offering.  During that lengthy six year wait, I recommended it to others, reviewed it for book club, and extolled the virtues of Setterfield’s craftsmanship with words.  Really, that book was an ode to the love of reading. With that as predecessor, Bellman & Black had a lot to live up to and the longer the wait, the higher the expectations.  Fair or not, for me, Bellman & Black did not quite rise to the occasion. What I did want most and got was Setterfield’s methodic way of observing and describing people, moving within the spheres of their influence.  In this book she highlights how they overlap now and again, exhibit strengths and weaknesses, and within a generation or two are all but forgotten. I especially loved this passage: Dora’s nights of remembering grew less profitable as time passed.  She still did it sometimes, but the practice gradually lost its ability to comfort.  In part, she told herself, it was because she had worn the memories thin from overuse.  Like some of the coins they used to clean, the relief had been worn away. It’s a book that whispers rather than yells, making the point, if none other: that what you do in life matters more than the pace at which you accomplish it.  Bellman works at frenetic pace, making sacrifices right and left that impact his health and relationships.  He doesn’t do it because it makes him happy per se, but rather as payment for the happiness he has previously enjoyed and the success which seems to follow him in everything he does.  If he pays enough, can he cheat death?  Can he so justify his own existence that he puts death at bay? His happiness and his success, which he had taken to be solid things, hewn out of his own effort and talent, had proved as fragile as a dandelion clock; all it took was for this unsuspecting competitor to release his breath and the seedhead disappeared. As much as I enjoyed chewing on her apt descriptions and felicitous characterizations, the story dragged slower and slower until its conclusion. Think Meet Joe Black, but without the love story—more Hitchcock, more cerebral.  Still, its worst crime is that it opens itself to multiple questions...
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Oct
11

Review: His Lordship Possessed by Lynn Viehl

Review: His Lordship Possessed by Lynn Viehl Disenchanted & Co., Part 2: His Lordship Possessed Author: Lynn Viehl Reviewer: Twimom Rating: A-, 4 Stars What I’m Talking About: Note: this review will contain spoilers from the first title, Her Ladyship’s Curse, which is actually the first part of the two part story making up the novel Disenchanted & Co. If you plan to read the novel in its entirety when it comes out in January – or – if you haven’t read Ladyship, please be warned! His Lordship Possessed truly is the second half of a larger story, and I do not recommend reading it as a stand alone story. His Lordship Possessed picks up immediately where Her Ladyship’s Curse ends. In the first half of the tale, the reader was introduced to Kit Kittredge, a sort of “private eye” who debunks magical curses and spells. Lucien Dredmore is her nemesis who is terribly attracted to Kit and wants her all to himself. After a brief weakness of spirit resulting in exciting sexual encounter between Kit and Lucien, Kit finds herself locked away in his estate. Relying on her mysterious grandfather, she makes a daring escape, only to find that Lord Walsh is attempting to ruin her. I completely devoured His Lordship Possessed in a matter of hours. I could NOT put this exciting story down for more than a moment. After doing a fabulous job laying the groundwork and creating an interesting and intriguing world in the first book, Ms. Viehl sends her characters on a non-stop adventure, full of unforeseen twists and amazing revelations. The purposeful actions and events are well-planned and masterfully written. One really doesn’t need more from a book, right? But wait… that’s not all! As I stated in my review of Her Ladyship’s Curse, the characters of this tale are an exciting aspect of the book that make it so much more than just an adventure. Each of the characters undergoes further development and adds heart to the story. However, it is Kit herself that truly makes this story a wonderful piece. Seeing everything from her point-of-view, I was heartbroken as Kit watches her life unravel due to the machinations of Lord Walsh. Her feelings and subsequent actions add complexity to the story and give readers a character to root for and admire. Add to this her complex feelings towards Lucien and their growing affections, and you have a beautiful romance as well. Meanwhile, we learn the true nature of...
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Oct
10

Review: Rogue on the Rollaway by Shannon MacLeod

Review: Rogue on the Rollaway by Shannon MacLeod Rogue on the Rollaway Author: Shannon MacLeod  Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+, 5 stars What I’m Talking About: I’m not quite sure exactly what draws me in about a hot Scot displaced in time.  Whatever it is, however, Shannon MacLeod has totally entranced me with Rogue on the Rollaway. With a strong hero and a believable heroine, I found that I was rooting for the couple and their star-crossed relationship throughout the title. I really enjoyed the fact that Faolan and Colleen built a relationship before jumping into bed.  Yes.  That means they’re not rolling in the sheets in the first 30 pages.  It’s still hot.  I was entranced at the way Ms. MacLeod showed the inner conflict of the characters – Does he like me?  Does she like me? – at the beginning of the title.  The fantasies, the descriptions of how the characters felt about the other, I found to be heartwarming and quite honest.  Yes.  I like a healthy dose of reality with my fantasy.  Thankyouverymuch. Colleen was a completely believable and realistic female lead character.  This. Was. Fabulous.  Many times, we have female leads that are either wishy-washy, or they’re so head-over-heels in love with the hero that they lose themselves.  Not so with Colleen.  She kept her job, she maintained her connections (at least superficially) with other people.  She actually taught Faolan about this new place in time where he’d landed.  Instead of him magically understanding everything, we watched her fret over the little things, like not burning down the house using appliances.  We watched her open-mouth, insert-foot a couple times and ultimately recover and reconnect with Faolan.  Making her a very relatable, honest and intense character for me.  Which I enjoyed. Faolan is really one of the most honest male characters I’ve read this year.  Sure, he’s cursed.  Sure, he’s too nice to just manipulate someone into ending his curse.  Sure, he’s hot as hell.  But in the grand scheme of things, Faolan trusts his heart, and damn all the nay-sayers.  He believes in true love, and with that belief, anything is possible.  He begins the story thinking he could finally end his curse but realizes rather quickly that there’s entirely too much going on with this woman for things to be simple.  Protecting her as much as possible, Faolan puts Colleen and her safety first at all times.  That’s one of the things I absolutely adore about him.  Even though he isn’t completely...
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Sep
23

Review: Forged in Dreams and Magick by Kat Bastion

Review: Forged in Dreams and Magick by Kat Bastion Forged in Dreams and Magick Author: Kat Bastion  Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+, 5 stars What I’m Talking About: It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book that completely captivated my attention like Forged in Dreams and Magick.  As the first title of Ms. Kat Bastion’s self-published Highland Legends series, readers are certainly in for a pleasant surprise. I went back and looked at my Goodreads updates while I was reading this title.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so up and down and all around emotionally for a dudes-in-kilts title as I was while reading this one.  Which is a good thing.  Ms. Bastion’s writing is tight, and able to transport the reader to 13th century Scotland or to the ancient Pict villages with her vivid descriptions and her attention to details needed to bring the reader into the time periods in question. In reflecting on Forged in Dreams and Magick, there’s nothing that irritated me.  Which. Is. Amazing.  Most of the time, even when I’m reading a fabulous book, something just doesn’t sit right with me.  You know, that one thing that makes you go, “Hrmmm…”  Additionally, I spent days revising this review just so I could write it spoiler-free.  VERRA difficult.  Here’s what I came up with. Characterization and setting were the primary focus, for me, while reading Forged in Dreams and Magick.  Without ever having been to Scotland, I felt as though I were riding through the woods on a trusty steed, wind in my face, the smell of the sea filtering through my lungs.  I could nearly smell the aromas in both time periods.  The tactile experiences were nothing short of amazing.  I could practically feel the fabrics and furs beneath my fingers.  I relished the experiences of Isabel, which can be two-fold.  The reading experience is EPIC.  Sometimes, however, vivid experiences such as this, throw me into the dreaded book hangover.  Not this time.  Ms. Bastion expertly resolved everything to my satisfaction, for this storyline.  Gently bringing her reader out of author-induced story hypnosis, and sending us on our merry way, with a smile on our faces.  A spoiler-free passage needs to make its way into my review; however (and seriously, I marked MANY passages I loved…this was the only one that was spoiler-free).  The illustration of emotion Ms. Bastion has masterfully crafted should convince any reader of the genre that this is a must read: Iain masterfully orchestrated every note of...
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Sep
19

Review: Darke London by Coleen Kwan

Review: Darke London by Coleen Kwan Darke London Author: Coleen Kwan Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A-, 4 stars What I’m Talking About: Darke London was a great little historical distraction.  With a different flavor than my normal reading fare, I thoroughly enjoyed this novella. There really wasn’t anything specific that caused me to rate this title four stars; it just didn’t grab me like those that are a five.  I need an intense emotional connection for that perfect rating.  However, it was an expertly crafted story that had excellent character development. While not truly bothersome, I prefer a bit more setting description than Ms. Kwan chose to use.  I’m OK with that, but in this instance, my imagination could have taken a little break and focused more on the steampunk aspect of the story. Poor Nellie!  Besides surviving attempted murder, unbeknownst to her assailant, this little spit-fire has guts to spare.  Eager to learn the circumstances of her attack, Nellie took matters into her own hands.  I liked her.  She was of the mindset of 1800’s London, and that upbringing and the conventions of that time period were evident. Julian, the dashing doctor and engineer extraordinaire, fell head-over-heels for Nellie.  I thought he loved her inner beauty, and that was evident throughout the story.  Julian was tormented with his own inner demons surrounding his parentage, and that dominated about a third of his storyline.  Provided some great conflict, and a resolution that’s I adore. This novella is definitely worth the read!  I look forward to reading the next installment of Ms. Kwan’s Uncanny Chronicles series in the future. 4 stars: Enjoyed – strongly recommend (A-) About the Book: Julian Darke was only a newborn when he was abandoned on the doorstep of a gentleman doctor. Though raised with love, he is driven to discover his true origins. Convinced Sir Thaddeus Ormond knows something, Julian shadows him one night—and is shocked to see a young woman thrown from Ormond’s carriage and accosted by a thug. Julian manages to save her life, but not her face and hands from horrific injuries. Nellie Barchester doesn’t recognize the scarred, disfigured stranger in the mirror. Though the gifted doctor and engineer has done his best to repair the damage, scars ravage her body, and chill her soul with the realization that her own husband may have plotted her death. Julian’s tenderness is a balm to her soul, and Nellie is drawn to the edge of passion by a man not repelled by her...
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Sep
10

Review: The Protected by Shiloh Walker

Review: The Protected by Shiloh Walker The Protected Author: Shiloh Walker Reviewer: Twimom227 Rating: 4 Stars, A- What I’m Talking About: FBI agent Vaughnne MacMeans has a special ability – she can communicate with others without actually speaking. While her “talent” is fairly minor compared with many of the others on the team headed by Agent Taylor Jones, she has developed her instincts and honed her skills, making her a deadly agent. She is put to the test in her latest assignment: protecting 12-year-old Alex, whose psychic abilities have made him the target of an extremely dangerous man. Going undercover, Vaughnne moves next door to Alex and his “dad,” Gus. Gus Hernandez has one mission in life, to keep Alex safe from those that hunt him. At the dying request of Alex’s mother, Gus has done everything to protect Alex for over four years, including constantly moving, killing and even using Alex’s abilities. Although he is attracted to new neighbor Vaughnne, he will not act on his desire, nor will he allow her to become a distraction in their lives – even if it means he has to eliminate her. In general, I enjoyed The Protected from start to finish. The overall story involving a suspenseful race to protect Alex is exciting and well-written. Reyes, the primary bad guy is portrayed as an evil man – someone a reader loves to hate. I would have enjoyed a few more scenes developing his nasty persona, providing me more reason to cheer for his demise. Instead, Alex is hunted by henchmen and goons-for-hire, giving the reader an array of chase scenes, killings, and mayhem, some of which feature others with psychic talents. The story is thrilling – but not so tense that I was unable to breathe. Keeping Alex safe became increasingly harder as the book progressed and the stakes grew higher. At times, the number of “bad guys” one-after-another felt over done, but it kept an accelerated tempo in the story. I also liked how the entire situation was resolved – it was done in such a way that made “things” okay. One part that gave me pause was the inclusion of FBI freelance psychic Nalini. It wasn’t her part in the story – that was pretty interesting and entertaining, but rather that many of the sections told from her POV were overly vague and too loose, which made them difficult to follow. I also felt she had a bit of a split personality – I...
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Jun
2

Review: Josh of the Damned Vol. 1 & 2 by Andrea Speed

Review: Josh of the Damned Vol. 1 & 2 by Andrea Speed Josh of the Damned Author: Andrea Speed  Release Date: Volume 1, Josh of the Damned – April 16, 2012 Volume 2, The Final Checkout – April 29, 2013 Publisher: Riptide Publishing Josh of the Damned Volumes 1&2 ISBN: #978-1937551353  and #978-1626490062 Genre: GLBT, Comedy, Horror, Urban Fantasy/ Paranormal Format(s): e-book Book Source: NetGalley About the books: Volume 1 – Josh of the Damned What most people call a hellish shift, Josh Caplan calls a normal evening. After all, he works nights at a convenience store beside the mouth of hell, selling snacks to zombies and lizard men.  Some monsters are odder—and more dangerous—than most. Like the rampaging, oversized mustache who skips the Pringles and eats the customers instead. Or Cthulhu’s half-brother Stan, who doesn’t know how to take no for an answer . . . or where to put all those tentacles.  But killer facial hair and inept hentai beasts pale in comparison to the monster even other monsters fear. When hell’s big boss demands a sit-down with Josh, she reveals a destiny bigger than he’d ever imagined—or wanted. You’d think preventing the apocalypse would net Josh more than minimum wage and a hot vampire boyfriend, but it turns out saving the world can be a pretty thankless job.  Volume 2 – The Final Checkout Josh Caplan thought he’d solved his home office problem and stopped the Quik-Mart Corporation from expanding into hell, but it turns out a guardian’s work is never done. Medusa has plans for him, and she’s not the only one.  What’s a poor night clerk to do when he’s besieged on all sides by deluded vampire slayers, angry zombies, crazy gods, and the most terrifying enemy of all: a dickish CEO?  To survive this, Josh will have to do more than just rely on his necromancer boss, his hot vampire boyfriend, and his yeti stalker. This time, he’ll have to find his own inner hero to save the day.  What B is talking about: Volume 1 of the Josh of the Damned series includes the shorts “Pretty Monsters,” “Peek-A-Boo,” and a third, which is further broken down into three parts titled “Night of the Mustache,” “I was Cthulhu’s Love Slave,” and “Interview with the Empire.” As far as openings go, this just might just be one of my favorites yet: “The first time the hell vortex opened in the Quick-Mart parking lot, Josh very seriously considered quitting his job. But all that came out of it...
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