Tag Archive | paranormal

REVIEW: A Shadowed Beginning by Alice J. Black

A Shadowed Beginning Book Cover A Shadowed Beginning
Demon Hunter #1
Alice J. Black
Teen Paranormal
Fire & Ice Young Adult Books
November 14, 2017
Unedited Manuscript
280

Ruby Dawson is about to discover a whole new world—one of demons and devils.

Following the death of her father four years ago, Ruby is sure her life can't get any harder. Living in a care home for girls, struggling with the last two years of school and working part time at an employment agency seem almost too much at times.

And then she sees the man with the crescent scar. He's a memory from her past and one that she knows will have answers. He's the last link to her dad.

Ruby goes looking for answers but only ends up with more questions as everything she thought she knew was real is turned upside down and her own life becomes all too connected with a world she didn't know existed.

My Review

Wow. This story is everything I love about teen fiction. The badass heroine who doesn’t really want the life that’s been thrust upon her. The smoking hot love interest full of chaste sexual tension. And demons.

Ruby thought her dad died of a heart attack, but years later when a man she recognizes from her fathers funeral walks into The Agency where she works, she takes off on a whim, following him into the streets. It’s there that he reveals that all is not as it seems. He’s a demon hunter working for The Agency… and so was her father.

Things get weirder when Ruby begins seeing things, and she is attacked by shadows. With the help of Vaughn, the son of her father’s former partner, she must train in order to fight the demons and save her town.

This was such a well-written story, all of the pieces weaved together beautifully, giving all the information the reader needs without info dumping or getting boring. The plot moves, information is slowly revealed, and some things the reader may initially read as just scene setting information, only to later discover it was actually crucial to the plot.

The chemistry between Ruby and Vaughn was realistic. The sparks flew. There was so much sexual tension between them, I just wanted them to KISS ALREADY! But do they? Hmm… I can’t tell you that. I can tell you before the end of the book I was mad crushing on Vaughn and shipping R/V.

And what teen book would be complete without the mean girl? This one is no different. She’s not the villain of the story, but she’s certainly not someone the reader is meant to like.

There are 6 more books in this series and I ended this one BEGGING the author to send me the next one!

 

NOTE: I am an acquisitions editor for this publisher and also the cover designer for this book. This in no way changes my opinion of this book. I would not contract a book I didn’t believe in and enjoy myself. In short, this book is AMAZING.


Quotes

“Sheila wants you in the family.”

“You make it sound like the mafia.”

“Not quite. But close…..”

And then finally a picture of Vaughn formed in my mind where I lingered. A smile creased my lips as I remembered what he’d said to me, the way he pressed his number into my hand and the way he looked at me. Tingles spiralled out from my stomach diffusing some of the tension there. Maybe today hadn’t been all bad.

When he came at me, lunging quick as a feral cat, his arms cradled my waist and I was knocked backwards. My arms flailed above my head as I fell to the mat. Vaughn came to rest just on top of me, slightly out of breath and a cheeky grin on his face. His eyes met mine and we stayed there for a moment, his eyes lingering just that second too long, searching for something. 


 


My (Writing) Life

I’ve been MIA from the blog for quite a while and I apologize for that. I’m still reading and have a HUGE list of books that need reviews posted! I’m hoping to really get on that this upcoming week.

I’ve also been making a huge dent in my 12 Days of Christmas reading list. 8 books read, 2 yet to start, and 2 to finish. I still have to review at least half of them though.

In the writing world I’ve been (failing) NaNoWriMo. If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it’s where crazy people like me attempt to write a 50k novel in one month. I was doing really well for about a week, then I fell off the wagon. At this point I need to write about 2055 words per day to reach goal. I’m not panicking yet, and I’m still really proud to have written over 20k this month so far. I’m hoping next week to have a couple REALLY good day where I can pound out 3-5k and really bridge the gap.

This upcoming week I have a very light work schedule at my hotel job, and I’m basically caught up for the year with my publishing job. I just have a few tasks to complete in the coming weeks, and then everything else I do is for 2018. My resolution for 2018 is to NOT let myself fall behind at ALL!

I also sent my first reviewer inquiry for PEACE IN FLAMES. (If you’re a fellow reviewer and up for reading and reviewing an upper-YA contemporary romance novella, hit me up!)

So yeah, that’s what’s going on with me! I’m happy that things are starting to settle down a bit here.

Is life slowing down or getting more hectic for you?

REVIEW: Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

Series: White Rabbit Chronicles #1

Read: March 9 – 13, 2017

Format: Kindle

My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Release Date: September 25, 2012

Genre: YA Paranormal

Pages: 416

Reading Challenge(s): TBR 2017, Beat The Backlist 2017, 2017 YA, Retellings 2017

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

She won’t rest until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.

If anyone had told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.

Her father was right. The monsters are real.

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies.


REVIEW

I can’t remember where I first heard about this book, but from the moment I saw the cover I was in love. It sat on my TBR list for a few months, then I received a sale alert email and it was only 99 cents. You can bet I pounced on that one! The book sat there on my Kindle, alone and neglected, for almost 10 months before I finally decided that this would be a good choice to dig into my backlist with and earn some points for Hufflepuff in the Beat the Backlist 2017 challenge.

Let me tell you, this was $1.07 (after tax) well spent.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t in love with the beginning of this book. It was slow to start and felt very info dumpy. Then Kat showed up and the story picked up pace. The narration sort of glossed over Ali dealing with the aftermath of her family’s death, but it was done in a way that worked, so that we weren’t bogged down with her depression before the meat of the story were revealed.

I loved the characters in this book. Kat is absolutely over the top and amazing. She reminds me a little of Janice from Mean Girls. The other girls in her posse were sort of forgettable, their personalities overshadowed by the more important characters. Cole was an utter ass most of the time, but I still found him absolutely charming. I was intrigued by the strange connection he and Ali share. The clues about their connection that are dropped later in the book really make me want to continue this series.

There is definitely a Twilight vibe to this book, but it’s not a bad thing. Unlike Bella who needs someone to save her most of the time, Ali is a totally kick ass chick she doesn’t really need someone to save her, but will accept the help.

I absolutely loved this world that Gena Showalter has created. Zombie’s that can only be seen by a special group of people? Because they’re on the spiritual plane? Um, yes please! This whole world is so unique and creative, I want to know more. And to add a secondary baddie for Ali to have to fight on top of the zombies? Perfection!

I feel the need to add that this isn’t a traditional retelling of Alice in Wonderland. I’m actually not an Alice fan, so this was perfect for me. There were certainly parallels to the classic tale though, so I would still consider this a retelling – though a very loose one.

 

So, should you read this book? If you’re looking for a YA book featuring a kick ass heroine, a steamy bad boy love interest, a completely new and unique spin on zombies, AND a satisfying ending that still leaves the door open for more books in the series, then YES. This is the book for you.



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QUOTES

 

The forced incarceration at night drove me to spend as much time as possible outside during daylight hours, whether I burned to lobster-red or not.

 

A scream ripped from my throat, followed right on the heels of another and another. I lost track of everything around me, clutched my ears to stop from hearing the utter horror in my voice, and fell to my knees.

 

My thinking on the matter: Mr. Buttle—whom I would forever call Mr. Butthole—was on a power trip, but whatever.

 

“When she and Cole get married in a beautiful prison ceremony, because we all know that’s where Cole will be, she’ll be able to help your cause.”

 

“Have you ever been in a fight?” With his free hand, he pinched a lock of my hair and rubbed the strands together. “Because you look like something out of a fairy tale.”

“The wicked witch?” I couldn’t help but ask.
“Please. The princess.”

 

She battered her lashes at me and lowered her voice to a smoky rasp. “Cole, you big strong minimal. I know the boogeyman thinks you’ll jump out of his closet, but I think you’re—Hey, are you listening to our private conversation, Marcus?” she ended in a shout. “Yeah, that’s right. Run.”

 

Someone so egotistical shouldn’t have been so charming. But then, I loved Kat, so there you go.

 

Because I hadn’t been on an evening drive since the accident, and couldn’t help but clutch the seat, my stomach a writing vomit bubble ready to burst.

 

He’d be doing the world a favor if he never wore a shirt again, but I wasn’t going to tell him that part.

REVIEW: Superstition by Lucy Fenton

Superstition by Lucy Fenton

Series: Arden St. John #1

Read: July 27 – August 16, 2016

Format: Kindle Edition

My Book Rating: 2.5 Stars

Genre: YA Paranormal

Publisher: Lucy Fenton


 

ABOUT THE BOOK

What happens when your childhood nightmares of being bitten by strange creatures in a dark wood aren’t just dreams?

Sixteen-year-old Arden St. John’s life takes a strange turn when she finds an unusual animal injured near her new house on the south east coast of Australia. When she takes it to the local vet, a terrible truth is inadvertently exposed to her. She discovers a secret underworld, where witches are commonplace and trolls masquerade as queen bees, terrorising the other students with impunity. A world where vampires traffic in the lives of children, draining their bodies once they reach maturity. Where adults auction their own children to extend their lives. Arden finds out she’s one of those kids, her life traded by the mother she never knew. Now she’s caught up in this ancient and corrupt economy operating just below the surface of modern society. She’s a hot commodity, and it’s only a matter of time before the vampire who bought her comes to claim his prize. But Arden’s not going down without a fight.


REVIEW

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

Superstition is an ambitious novel. There’s a lot going on and I respect the author for what she tried to do.

Arden is a teenage girl who has moved with her dad to a seaside town, what she soon discovers is that she’s actually a witch. There are also vampires. And she falls for a boy, who happens to be dating the resident mean girl, who happens to be a total troll. (Seriously.)

All of that sounds fabulous, doesn’t it? It is. And the author tackles each subplot just fine. The trouble I have is that it felt like I was reading pieces of multiple books. The subplots weren’t woven together as seamlessly as I’d have liked. First we deal with the witch thing, then the mean girl, then the vampires, add in some ghosts, then back to the witch thing, and so on. It felt like when Arden was dealing with one problem, all of the other problems ceased to exist. They conveniently moved to the back burner. Weaving together so many subplots is not easy though, so I give her points for the effort. I know she must have worked her butt off at it.

I also had trouble connecting with Arden, especially because we’re told that she’s sort of gloomy and never smiles. Somehow she had friends at her old school, but can’t figure out why she doesn’t have friends at her new school. It actually took me by surprise when Arden realizes why nobody wants to be her friend, there really wasn’t much foreshadowing, which sort of blindsided me. Ultimately, I just really couldn’t connect with Arden at all.

Despite not connecting with Arden, I loved her interactions with Nick. He was a genuinely nice guy, and I think he was the Yin to her Yang. I loved their friendship / relationship / connection / whatever. I really don’t see what Nick sees in her, but I like her better when he’s with her.

What I did love was the lore the author has written into this book. The witches powers are awesome. Each witch is different, their powers unique to them. It was really interesting to see this unique take on magic. It was also super cool when Arden’s powers were finally unleashed. I also loved her version of vampires (no, they don’t sparkle, but they’re also not Dracula!)

My favorite character was probably the resident mean girl, Georgia. I loved to hate her. I loved her interactions with Arden, especially…. Well, I can’t reveal my favorite part, because it’s kind of spoilery. 😉 But ultimately, I think Georgia was the most developed character.

I think readers who love paranormal YA novels and can overlook an overabundance of exclamation marks and other editing issues would probably enjoy this book. It really left me with mixed feelings in the end, so I would consider reading the next book in the series, but I wouldn’t put it at the top of my TBR pile.



Get the Superstition here:

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QUOTES

 Arden rode home slowly, the warmth of the setting sun on her back, struggling to make sense of what Sophie had said. She said Arden was a witch, though she didn’t seem to be able to do anything but look antisocial and disappear.

But if witches were real, why not vampires too?

Focusing on him, she could sense hostility and defiance and drew them gently away.

The words sliced through Arden’s protective mental layer to bleed the soft flesh beneath.

(The vampires) are ugly as sin and suck the life out of you to sell it to other people.”

When nothing more came by, she went in search, wanting more of this intoxicating, exhilarating feeling. Nothing had ever felt this good, this freeing.

 

BEHIND THE COVER, Vol 2: Unhinged by Shelley R. Pickens

 

Since 2011 I have been honing my talents as a cover designer for a small press called Melange Books, LLC, as well as their subsequent imprints, Satin Romance, and Fire & Ice YA Books.

It’s been five years and hundreds of covers, and I’m still evolving as a digital artist.

As a cover artist, I am charged with creating an eye catching cover design that accurately represents the theme of the book, while remaining visually captivating to the potential reader, and satisfying the author.

In this series of blog posts, I’m going to showcase some of my cover designs and explain what inspired them; why I chose the elements/images I did, and how they relate to the books theme or tone.

I’d love to hear your questions and comments below!

 

I did not intend for so much time to pass between my first Behind the Cover feature and the second, yet here we are.

I’ve been busy as a bee with my (not so new) part time job, plus my work for Melange Books. Last night I added more to my plate, starting a new in depth revision on my teen paranormal novel, Blood & Magic.

But enough of all that, today I’m here to talk about the process that went into designing the cover for Unhinged by Shelley Pickens.

This cover was created using 2 pieces of stock art; the girl, and the tornado.

Unhinged is another cover I had the opportunity to read prior to publication, due to my job as acquisitions editor for Fire & Ice YA Books.

This is the second in a paranormal/horror series about a girl named Aimee with the power to absorb ones memories with only a touch. In this particular book in the series, Aimee’s loved ones are being trapped in their own minds, poisoned by horrific memories that have been placed there by the story’s villain. Aimee must save her friends by going into their minds herself and removing the memories.

The girl on the cover is, obviously, Aimee. Her powers are being tested to their limits, she’s and she’s not really in control, which shows in the girls pose. She’s becoming Unhinged.

The tornado in the background is both metaphorical and literal. Metaphorically, Aimee’s life has turned completely upside down. It is in total upheaval. The tornado represents the chaos that is taking over her life. On the literal end, when Aimee travels into her loved ones minds, she encounters a literal tornado that she must face in order to save them.

I chose to give the cover that sepia toned look because storms are often devoid of color, and visually it is easier for the eye to focus on the basically two-toned elements.

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 7.28.58 PMAs for the text, the font was an easy choice because it had already been chosen for the first book in the series. I opted to use a white font with a slight drop shadow / glow because the sepia color pallet was so dark I wanted the text to pop.

I love this cover, and it’s honestly one of my favorites I’ve designed to date.

This cover also earned me the bragging rights of ‘Award Finalist’ for the 2016 EPIC Ariana awards.

 

You can see more examples of my covers on my website: www.carolineandrus.com/design/covers.html
And my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/CarolineAndrusDesigns

I’m also available for hire. Shoot me an email or Facebook message!


UNHINGED by Shelley R. Pickens

Being normal isn’t always a good thing, especially if it ends up killing you.

Aimee, the sixteen year old girl who can see your every memory with just one touch, is fresh out of the torture room after risking everything to capture a killer. Despite her instinct to avoid contact with others, she tries her best to find a new normal at school—perhaps even a boyfriend. But for those who are cursed, happiness and normality aren’t easy to obtain. A bizarre illness spreads like wildfire through the school and causes those around Aimee to lose their sanity before falling into a coma. Slowly, all the people she loves succumb to this strange disease.

Alone and terrified, she must use her curse to find a way to save her family and friends. As she delves deeper and deeper into their memories, she realizes David, a delusional person from her childhood, is the bigger threat that could destroy her. Despite the danger that surrounds her, she struggles to solve the puzzle before it’s too late to help those she cares for the most. But as David moves closer to eliminating her, one puzzle still remains. Will she be able to save herself?


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WATCH THE TRAILER


READ AN EXCERPT

I wouldn’t say Mary is a delicate flower per say, but her stint in the hospital almost dying from smoke inhalation has definitely made her more fragile. Hell, it would soften most people. Most normal people at least. For a freak like me, facing death and coming out the other end damaged but alive, changed me. It has made me hard, unbending, and unwilling to let anything I love come to harm. Some would call that strength. Most would call it stubborn. I just call it my life.

“Mary, are you okay?” I ask in a soft voice, careful not to startle her.

Her eyes are vacant as they stare off into space. She begins to rock back and forth in her chair, both hands cradling her head. She begins to murmur to herself, but I can’t make out what she’s saying. The scene from the lunchroom today comes flooding back. I have never been more scared in my short life than I am right now. I have no idea what to do; helplessness consumes me. Then I remember what happened to Logan in Dejana’s basement and how my touch brought him out of his trance. I get up out of my seat and slowly approach her. I gently put my hand on her shoulder, hoping it comforts rather than startles her.

“Mary,” I repeat in a soft whisper. “Please, tell me what’s wrong. What can I do to help you?” I ask, desperate to find a way to get through to her. I’m not sure if she feels my hand on her or not. She doesn’t try to remove my hand, but doesn’t acknowledge it either. Panic boils up inside me. Okay, enough of the careful approach; time for more desperate measures.

“Dammit, Mary, stop it this instant!” I scream in the best scolding mom voice I can muster. I even stomp my foot on the floor for good measure. My voice must have gotten through to her because she stops rocking, removes her hands from her head, and begins to look around. Confusion marks every feature of her face. When her eyes land on me, her sweet smile returns as she pats my gloved hand still resting on her shoulder.

“Aimee, dear, why are you up from your seat? You know you can’t be excused until you’re finished with your food. Is everything alright? Do you need something else to drink, sweetie?” she asks, clearly unaware that five seconds ago she was murmuring to herself like a lunatic.

“Sorry, I don’t know what came over me. I’m not very hungry right now. Can I be excused please?” I ask, hoping she doesn’t notice how my voice shakes.

“Well, of course dear. I’m not feeling well myself, either. I think I may go ahead and go to bed. Do you mind cleaning up the kitchen for me?” she asks, her voice normal with no hint of confusion or idea that something was off.

I nod, still confused by what just happened. Maybe I just imagined it. There’s that avoidance therapy again, rearing its ugly head.

“Thank you, sweetie,” says Mary, giving my head its usual pat since she learned from the beginning I don’t like to be kissed, even if she’s never understood why.

I watch her walk away, my heart heavy with worry for her. I have no clue what’s going on today with people acting so strangely. I am no fortuneteller but I have a bad feeling that something terrible is coming. And I have no idea how to stop it.

REVIEW: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Series: The Raven Cycle #1

Read: May 14 – 25, 2016

Format: Hardcover

My Book Rating: 3 Stars

Genre: Paranormal / Fantasy Teen

 

I heard a lot of good things about this series so I had really high hopes when I began reading. I read Stiefvater’s book Shiver in the past and enjoyed it, though I didn’t love it. That ended up being the case with Raven Boys.

Basic premise: Daughter of a psychic (Blue) is told all her life that if she kisses her true love, he’ll die. So she doesn’t date or kiss boys. Ever. Meanwhile, a group of boys over at the prestigious Aglionby Prep school (aka raven boys) are on the hunt for some magical “ley line” which is supposedly going to lead the leader of the boys (Gansey) to some dead guy who will give him something he really wants. I didn’t really understand all the ley line talk.

Alright, so that’s that. The book starts out in Blue’s POV and I really liked her. She had a unique POV being the daughter of a psychic and living in a house full of other psychics as well. Meanwhile, she’s not even remotely psychic. All was going great, I was loving the book! Then….

We switch to Gansey’s POV and we’re inundated with talk of these ley lines. I was so confused. I was bored. I didn’t care. I just wanted to go back to Blue’s POV!

Finally after about ten chapters Blue and Gansey finally meet and the story REALLY starts. I did end up liking all of the boys by the end, there was a mystery surrounding one of the boys that was really eye opening once revealed. Had I not been bored so much in the beginning I’d be tempted to go back and re-read it just to look closer for the clues.

Finally the book ended. And it was…. Okay. I didn’t hate the ending, but at the same time I wasn’t left with a burning desire to read the next book. Chances are I will read the next book, but I’m not going to go out of my way to get my hands on it any time soon.

In all, this book was meh. There were good and interesting characters, but it took too long to get to know some of them so I didn’t really care what was happening to them, and what was happening to them was interesting, but… again, I just didn’t care.

I’m curious to see what other people thought of this book. I do think Ms. Stiefvater is very talented and has a lot of great ideas, I just haven’t found a book from her yet that really resonates with me and leaves me wanting more.


Quote worthy:

When it finally happened, when she finally saw him, it didn’t feel like magic at all. It felt like looking into the grave and seeing it look back at her.

 

Blue had two rules: Stay away from boys, because they’re trouble, and stay away from raven boys, because they were bastards.


He said, “I’ve always liked the name Jane.”

Blue’s eyes widened. “Ja—what? Oh! No, no. You can’t just go around naming people other things because you don’t like their real name.”

“I like Blue just fine,” Gansey said. “…However, I also like Jane.

“I’m not answering to that.”

 

“Aquamarine is a wonderful color, and I won’t be made to feel bad for wearing it,” Gansey said.

 

“Blue. My name’s Blue Sargent.”

“Blair?”

“Blue.”

“Blaise?”

Blue signed. “Jane.”

“Oh, Jane! I thought you were saying Blue for some reason.”


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REVIEW: Tiger Lily by Wende Dikec

Tiger Lily by Wende Dikec

Read: March 8 – April 17, 2016

Format: Print Book (Goodreads First To Read WIN)

My Book Rating: 3.5 Stars

Genre: YA – paranormal

 

I won a signed copy of this book from the Goodreads First Reads program.

 

First, I have to get this out of the way. When I saw this book on the list of giveaways, I had no clue its as a YA. For whatever reason, this cover doesn’t look YA for me. The cover is very dark and serious IMO, and the book is more light and comedic, though it does address some serious subjects. That said, I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that it WAS in fact teen fiction, because that’s primarily what I read.

The basic premise of this story is a teen girl named Lily crashes her car and dies for a few minutes. Upon being resuscitated, she realizes she’s now plagued by their weird blobby things. They follow her everywhere and are super distracting. Soon after, with the help of Zoe, a psychic medium goth from her school, she realizes they’re ghosts that have come back with her from the Other Side. There’s another presence, that of a really hot teen boy named Nick. She’s sure he’s a ghost, but he claims he’s not dead. He doesn’t look like the other ghost blobs, so what is he? Things are just starting to get weird for her.

Lily was a tough character for me to warm up to. She’s very prissy and OCD. She hordes hand sanitizer like it’s going out of style and likes things prim and proper. The story starts out with her being stupid and crashing her car because she’s staring at the polish on her fingernails instead of watching the road. (It was a really terrible color on her, or so she claims.)

I did eventually warm up to Lily, by about 30% in I was kind of liking her. By the end I did really like her. So, that was kind of cool, going from not really caring about her to actually feeling strong emotions over what she’s going through.

Actually, I think the author did a really good job with all of the characters. At first they appear one way, but then as you get to know them, you realize that there are layers beneath them that make them the way they are. Lily is OCD and perfect because her baby sister died at 3 months old and her parents have never been able to move on, even after 9 years. Afraid to step on any toes, she overcompensates by trying to be perfect. Then there’s Zoe, the goth girl from school who can see the ghosts. Lily always thought she was a super weird freak, but she soon realizes that Zoe is not only super nice, but also sort of insecure. Her parents don’t really seem to care, so perhaps she dresses in the goth style in order to get attention.

Rating this book was really hard. It started off with me not being so keen on the book, we were thrown instantly into the action and I almost felt like I was missing something. Then as it went on, I warmed up to the characters and the plot. But then it would drag for a while and I didn’t feel that “I NEED TO READ” feeling after putting the book down until the very end. I did read the last 45% of the book (some 80 pages) over the course of about 2 hours just because A. I wanted to be done reading this book, and B. There was suddenly a lot of action and I HAD to know what would happen next. If there had been more of that during the beginning/middle of the book, this would have been a 4-5 star read.

In the end, I was left with warm and tingly feelings, so when forced to choose a solid star rating, I will round up to a 4.

(I really liked Nick. I want to read more books with guys like Nick.)

REVIEW: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls #1

Read: October 12-13 2015

Format: Audiobook

My Book Rating: 3/5 Stars

Narrator Rating: 3/5 Stars

Genre: Paranormal Romance YA

 

I’m writing this review for Shiver a little over a month after listening to the audiobook… and I had to look at the Goodreads description to trigger my memory. Not a good sign for a book.

Shiver is the story of Grace and Sam. When Grace was a young girl, she was attacked by a pack of wolves, pulled from her backyard and dragged into the woods behind them. Sam, a wolf at the time, saved her. Years later, Grace is obsessed with the wolves. Despite them having nearly killed her, she loves them with all her heart, especially one wolf. The wolf she will learn is actually Sam.

You see, Grace’s wolves aren’t regular wolves, they’re shifters. When the cold weather comes, they shiver from human to wolf.

This was actually a really interesting take on werewolves, but it was just lacking something for me. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. It didn’t leave me desperate to read the next book in the series.

I did like that it was set in my home state of Minnesota. Not enough books set here IMO!

At times things moved really slowly, especially while Sam and Grace were apart. I wanted a romance, not a tragedy. I think I remember the ending being satisfying, but at this point I honestly can’t remember.

So basically, if you stumble upon the book give it a chance, but don’t go out of your way for it. My two cents.

REVIEW: Pyromancist by Charmaine Pauls

Before I get to the review of Pyromancist by Charmaine Pauls, I have the share the wonderful news I received earlier this week related to this book.

Each year EPIC (Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition) holds two contests, one for books and another for book covers. A handful of covers which I designed were entered in various categories and I am so incredibly humbled and honored to have received word that I was selected as a finalist in three categories of the EPIC Ariana Cover Awards!

One of which is the cover for Pyromancist, in the erotica category. Also in the running are my covers for Unhinged by Shelley R. Pickens (horror) and First Sun by Tara Tolly (romance). Winners won’t be announced until March, but honestly, I’m just so excited to be a finalist, actually winning would be the icing on the cake. I already feel like a winner!

 


 

Pyromancist by Charmaine Pauls (Seven Forbidden Arts #1)

Read: October 6-7, 2015

Format: Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 4/5 Stars

Genre: Paranormal Romance Erotica

Pyromancist is the story of a young woman named Clelia. Her mother, who died in childbirth with Clelia, was an oddity in the town—a Japanese woman who was abandoned in the village as a child—and said to be a witch, due to the mysterious fires that began upon her arrival. Fast forward many years and we find Clelia, now in her early 20’s, living with her grandfather in the village in which she was raised.

Josselin was just a boy when Clelia first met him. A few years her senior, she developed quite a crush on him, especially after he rescued her from a bully. Josselin is quite damaged however, with a very tragic past, and as soon as he could, he left town with no plans to return.

The story finds Clelia on the run, fearful that the fires, which have been popping up in the night all around her village, are her doing. Before she can get far, she’s captured by Josselin and his paranormal crime taskforce.

This is a steamy book. I don’t usually read erotica because it’s just not what I like in books. For me, there was too much sex. For those who like super hot books, trust me, this is the book for you! That said, once I put the sex aside, I did enjoy the story. The concept of the paranormal crime taskforce, and the seven forbidden arts, is an interesting one. Josselin’s power, which is not one of the seven, is a very unique and interesting one as well.

While I liked the build up of the relationship between Clelia and Josselin, I didn’t much care for Josselin and how he treated Clelia in the story. He is very much a domineering alpha male, which I know many readers absolutely love, but he was a little too controlling for my liking. He obviously cared very deeply for Clelia and that was how he knew how to deal with things. And that’s not to say Clelia just let him walk over her, but she certainly didn’t assert herself as much as I would have liked. That said, just as all people are different, so are all characters. Since this is the first in the series, and I know Clelia and Josselin will be popping up in the rest of the books (though not as the main characters), I hope to see Josselin tame his domineering side and Clelia stand up to him a little more.

Ultimately, if you’re looking for a super sexy paranormal story that doesn’t involve vampires or shifters, this might be just the book to hit the spot.

Disclaimer: I designed the cover for this book so I do receive a small monetary compensation for sales of the book. This in no way affects my review of the book. If I wanted to be dishonest, every book I design covers for would be a 5 star read! 😉

REVIEW: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Read: September 2015

Format: Audiobook

My Book Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

My Narrator Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance (Angels and Demons)

 

In my search of my local library’s very limited supply of YA audiobooks on CD, I discovered Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I think, had I read the book instead of listening to it, I would have had a difficult time getting through it (I’ll explain later). However, the audiobook was an addicting joy to listen to.

Karou is the quirky, mysterious heroine to this story. She’s an art student in Prague and seemingly normal—blue hair aside. However, she has a habit of mysteriously disappearing (much to her best friends annoyance), and she is, in fact, running errands for a demon. Karou doesn’t know anything about where she came from, all her life she’s lived with the demons and she’s accepted that’s just who she is. As payment for her errands, Karou is gifted beads that allow her to make wishes. She wishes for silly things such as her hair to grow out of her head blue or she wishes for someone to have an itch. While this story could have been taken very seriously and dark, Taylor has managed to pepper the story with humor. I really, really loved Karou’s character. She just came to life for me and I wanted to be her friend.

Taylor’s writing is beautifully descriptive, to the point where I would probably gloss over it when actually reading it with my eyes, but I loved the details while I had the story read to me. I’m gravely disappointed my local library does not carry the rest of the series on audiobook!

Much of the book is Karou going about her business, with little hints of what Akiva (an angel) is up to. When all hell breaks loose (get it? Hell? Demons? …..sorry) we’ve already seen the seeds planted, but it’s all a revelation to Karou. She is hit with tragedy, sadness, joy… a plethora of emotions all at once.

I don’t have a text copy of the book, so I may quote this incorrectly, but I believe the beginning of the book begins with a quote of: “Once upon a time, an angel and a demon fell in love. It did not end well.” This is truly a tale of Romeo and Juliet, but much more interesting than Shakespeare’s version. The entire world Taylor has crafted is brilliant, when all of the pieces came together in the end I had an “OHHHH!” moment. I never guessed that was where things were going, and I absolutely loved that’s where they went. (I’m avoiding spoilers here!)

I knocked half a star off because at one point we’re given huge chunks of backstory, which I normally hate. However, Taylor mostly pulled it off due to her beautiful prose and her incredibly interesting storyline.

This is a must read in my opinion, or even better, get your hands on the audiobook. The narrator is fabulous, the different voices she used for each character were brilliant.

REVIEW: Finding The Way Back by Jill Bisker

Finding The Way Back by Jill Bisker

Read: September 2015

Format: Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 4/5 Stars

Genre: Ghost Story (paranormal, light romance)

 

I put off reading Finding The Way Back for a while because I don’t typically read adult fiction. I’m pretty sure I’ll be 19 forever, though my body may age. That said, I know Jill Bisker personally and I designed her cover, so I gave it a chance.

Finding The Way Back is the story of Laney, a young woman going through a divorce. She’s picking up the pieces of her life and learning to be herself again now that she’s no longer under the spell of her loser of a (soon-to-be) ex-husband. To help get her mind off things Lancey’s mother invites Laney and her cousin Connie to live in and fix up the old house their grandfather lived in. As it turns out, Gramps had a bit of a hoarding problem, there’s hardly any room to move around the old house he’s packed it so full!

As Laney and Connie begin their mission of clearing out the house—trashing the junk, dispersing sentimental items to the family, and selling the valuables on eBay—things really get interesting. As it turns out, the house is haunted and the women’s mothers’ never bothered to share that little bit of information on them. Let me tell you, there are some creepy moments in this book that made me wonder what I was thinking reading this on my Kindle in bed in the dark late at night!

So, when the ghost makes it’s appearance, Connie does what any intelligent girl does: she calls the Ghostbusters. Okay, not really, but close enough. She invites a guy she knew in high school, Emmett, plus some of his friends, to come scope out the joint. Emmett is a hobby ghost hunter. And hot. Really hot. Laney tries to deny the attraction but it’s there. So as Laney and Connie attempt to cohabit the house with a ghost, Emmett becomes their knight in shining armor.

I liked the romance in this book, it was a slow build that didn’t seem sudden and out of nowhere. The ghosts were the perfect blend of spooky, creepy and wondrous. And Ms. Bisker created a fabulous story for the haunting of the house. As a bonus, there were some local details in the book that made me chuckle because I know those things oh so well. Not to mention the little points of humor scattered throughout the story (I loved the closet scene with Emmett and Laney!)

There were some things I didn’t enjoy as much. I found some parts of the book to be too over detailed (I read YA, remember? We gloss over the details for the most part in YA!) and sometimes it felt a little repetitive.

Overall, I did enjoy this story and I will be reading (and reviewing!) the sequel which is due to come out from Melange Books this fall.

 

Disclaimer: I designed the cover for this book so I do receive a small monetary compensation for sales of the book. This in no way affects my review of the book. If I wanted to be dishonest, every book I design covers for would be a 5 star read! 😉