Tag Archive | paranormal

Review: Night of the Witch by Sara Raasch & Beth Revis

Night of the Witch Book Cover Night of the Witch
Witch and Hunter #1
Sara Raasch & Beth Revis
Paranormal Romance / Fantasy
Sourcebooks Fire
October 3, 2023
E-ARC
416
NetGalley
August 13 - September 10, 2023

A witch and a hunter. Vengeance is their mission. Love is their destiny.

Fritzi is a witch. A survivor of a brutal attack on her coven, she's determined to find her only surviving family member and bring the hexenjägers—zealot witch hunters—to justice for the lives they ended. To do this, she will need to take down their leader—Kommandant Dieter Kirch.

Otto is a hexenjäger and a captain, the second in command to Dieter Kirch—but that's just his cover. Years ago, the hexenjagers burned his innocent mother alive and since then, he has been planning a move against the witch hunters that tore his family apart. And now the time has come for them to pay for what they've done.

When Fritzi and Otto are unexpectedly thrown together, neither is sure they can trust the other, despite their common enemy. But all they have is one another, and they both crave revenge. As truths come to light and trust shifts, Fritzi and Otto uncover a far more horrifying plot at the center of the hexenjäger attacks . . . but their own growing feelings for each other may be the most powerful magic of all.

Review

When I began reading the first chapter of this book, I honestly didn’t think I’d like it. We’re immediately thrown into a battle as the witch hunters (hexenjägers) are storming the witch village. I’m not big on battles in books (or, to be honest, TV/movies either) I find them overwhelming. I knew the whole book was unlikely to be one big battle, so I kept reading. But there was another thing nagging at me from the get go—Fritzi. I couldn’t gauge how old she was. The way she interacts with her mother, I assumed she was a child, 13 at most, this pulled me out of the story.

And that’s where my criticisms end. Once Fritzi leaves the remnants of her village in search of her cousin, who’s been captured by the jägers, I was fully engaged. (The authors also mentioned Fritzi’s age, so that nagging detail was finally put to rest, so I could form a .) 

The story alternates between Fritzi, the witch, and Otto, the witch hunter. When their paths collide, shortly after Fritzi leaves her village, and she becomes Otto’s captive, the real story begins. 

I love Fritzi. I love Otto. I love them together. I love them fighting or not. 

Ultimately they end up on a mission to save Fritzi’s cousin and magic on a whole. I loved the magic system in this book, the wild magic vs the magic of “The Well”. The goddesses and the sanctuary of the well. 

The end of the book? Amazing.

I need the next book in this series.

Content warning: Though this book reads like a YA, there is one sex scene.

Huge thanks to NetGalley, Sourcebooks, and the authors for the chance to read this awesome book! ❤️

Review: The Spirit Girls by Dawn Merriman

The Spirit Girls Book Cover The Spirit Girls
Rylan Flynn #1
Dawn Merriman
Paranormal, Mystery
Second Sky
May 9, 2023
E-ARC
208
NetGalley
April 22 - 30, 2023

“Where are you taking me?” Rylan follows the figure through the trees. The girl’s dark ponytail swings as she turns back, then walks on without answering. Deep in the woods, she disappears… and Rylan finds her body, mouth wide in a silent, final plea for help.

Rylan Flynn has always been able to see what others don’t—the restless spirits haunting Ashby, Indiana. She’s learned to live with her “gift” but sometimes she longs to escape.

The woods have always been a peaceful place for Rylan. But on a visit to her aunt’s cabin, she catches sight of a spirit in the trees. The ghost of a young woman approaches, leading Rylan to her body.

With a flood of horror, Rylan realizes that the girl, Celeste Monroe, has been murdered. An outgoing newcomer to town, Celeste had no enemies. Who on earth would want to see her dead?

When a coin carved with strange symbols is discovered in Celeste’s throat, it’s clear that a twisted, cold-blooded killer is at work.

Rylan’s abilities could be the only way to prevent further deaths. But Ashby’s handsome head detective, Ford Pierce, has made it very clear that he doesn’t want her help.

And any unexplained knowledge of the case could make Rylan the perfect suspect.

When another body is discovered and blood at the scene points to Rylan’s family, she is more determined than ever to uncover the truth. She must race against time to untangle a web of dark secrets… but can she find answers before the murderer claims another victim?

Review

The Spirit Girls is a fun paranormal mystery novel that is very quick, easy, and enjoyable to read.

Rylan sees ghosts. She talks to them, she helps them cross over, and she has a YouTube channel (and a BFF for a camerawoman) to share her tales of ghostly encounters while also picking up clients and helping their ghosts cross over.

Rylan is a great character. She’s both easy to understand, and also complex. What I love about Rylan is that she has secrets and baggage, namely that her mother was murdered in the house and still haunts her bedroom where she was killed. (This is revealed in chapter 2, so not really a spoiler.) Rylan is also a hoarder. It’s hard to tell exactly how extreme her hoarding is, but… it’s pretty bad. I’m super curious to see how this progresses as the series goes on. I don’t think I’ve ever met a book where the protagonist has a hoarding disorder, so this was a unique and welcome addition to Rylan’s character.

In this book, Rylan becomes involved in the ritualistic murder of a teenage girl, when the ghost of said girl guides Rylan to her body and then disappears. As the bodies begin to stack up, and the murder investigation hits closer to home than she’d like, Rylan feels as though she has no choice but to solve the crime herself. 

I loved the mystery in this book. I had suspicions about who the killer was, but I didn’t really know until the big reveal. I loved the characters. I loved the pacing. But I have one major gripe, that I really hope will be resolved before publication—after the first chapter or two, the author quits using contractions, leaving the dialogue feeling very stilted and unnatural. If we were talking about one character who doesn’t use contractions, that would be a character quirk. But no. This is every character from about chapter 3 til the end. It drove me batty. It wasn’t enough for me to quit the book, but it did pull me out of the story. 

With that said, will I continue with this series? Absolutely! There are the beginnings of a potential romance and I’m really curious to see how that progresses and what it could mean for Rylan’s hoarding issues. And I’d love for her mother to cross over and find peace at some point. 

If you can overlook the lack of contractions, this is a paranormal mystery you don’t want to miss! 

Huge thanks to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review!

Whats New With Me

I think spring is finally here in Minnesota. After a brief few days in April of 70* weather, we had yet another snow storm. It was a very snowy winter, and I am forever grateful to have been recruited to a (mostly) work from home day job!

It’s finally back up to the 70’s and as I write this, I am sitting on my back patio with the sun shining and the birds chirping. I don’t think there are any sounds better than this!

Yesterday I hauled compost from the country yard waste site and topped off my raised garden bed, and today I planted some squash seeds (Kuri and Sunrise varieties) that I saved from some squash I bought from the farmers market last year. I’m hoping I get a nice yield, as I’m giving up half my raised garden bed for this trial! (The last time I grew squash, pumpkin, and melon, it was in the ground in another part of my yard that we have grassed over.) The other half of my raised bed will be home to some peas, beans, peppers, and 1-2 tomato plants (last year I had maybe 5 tomato plants and soooo many went to waste because I couldn’t consume them that quickly!) I’m very excited to start growing veggies again.

In the writing world, I’m (very) slowly re-reading Something I’m Good At and taking notes so I don’t make any continuity errors in the yet-to-be-titled stand alone sequel. After essentially 4 years of zero inspiration/motivation to flex my creative muscles with writing, I think I’m ready. I have a lofty goal to finish this book before the end of 2023, but let’s be honest, that’s unlikely. Once I finish my notes from book 1, maybe I’ll set myself some shorter goals, such as: Complete Outline by ___. Write X chapters by ___. You get the drift.

Also in the writing world, I have about 18,000 words written in my “monster” book that I started a few years ago and have been revisiting from time to time. It’s also a YA romance. I’ve hit a wall though, so that’s on the back burner while I work on the SIGA sequel.

In life, like I said before, I’m loving my WFH job. My manager/supervisor are great. The work is typically not too challenging, so my stress level is way down from my previous job. And getting to sit outside on my patio and work in the spring/summer is so good for the soul. I’m also pretty good at my job, so that’s always nice, right?

I’m also very excited because in June I’ll be attending the Taylor Swift Eras Tour in Minneapolis. I have my Folklore/Evermore outfit ready to go! (I’m low key keeping my eye out for cheap tix for the second show. Don’t tell my husband! 🤫) I also won tickets from the radio to see Ed Sheeran in Minneapolis in August, so I’m pretty stoked to take my 16 year old to their first ever concert… and all it’ll cost me is parking!

Aside from that, my time these days is spent keeping my house standing, driving my youngest to lessons, trying to eat healthy and get back in the exercise habit (I’m trying running again… Ahhh!), and working my publishing side gig for Melange Books (and its imprints, Satin Romance and Fire & Ice Young Adult Books). I love the work that I do for them—cover design, web updates, and formatting—and honestly, if it paid the bills I would quit my day job in a heartbeat!

So… that’s what’s new! Leave a comment below if you have anything exciting happening in your life!

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.



Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~


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:

Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited!)

~ Add to Goodreads ~


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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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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(At the time of this review, the ebook edition of this book is only $1.99)

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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! 😉