Archive for April, 2015

Goodreads.com Description: “Creatures born of a different God, or human beings as we call them, know and understand little about the Universe around them— much less the one that mirrors theirs. Things aren’t always what they seem to the naked eye, especially when you aren’t paying attention. That’s the beauty of their world though, it’s so easy to live and thrive undetected. My brother Cole and I are twin Hybrid Hunters. We’ve lived content and discreetly among and like human beings for so long, that many of us, as well as the Elementals that have become like family, have almost forgotten that— we aren’t. Like any race of living beings, it’s the bad ones that always ruin it for everyone. No good thing can ever last for long no matter what or where you are. The sudden appearance of a deadly Nocturna on our hidden island turned out to be the least of our worries. It was the unexpected attack that left me at the mercy of a disgusting curse and would forever change my life as a born Hunter. The mysterious stranger who simply showed up to claim the undead intruder, turned out to be far more of a dangerous threat to us. I had to learn quickly that even in a perfect world, the hunter becoming the hunted confirms that every being has something to fear—even the Nocturna. And that hunter is . . . Me.”

I received a copy of this book via the Goodreads First Read giveaway program.

WARNING: Mature Readers 17+ due to graphic scenes and language.

My Thoughts:

I found Susan Reid’s H.U.M.A.N.S. to be surprisingly good! I had my doubts after reading another review. But, once I got into the book, I couldn’t put it down.

I have to admit I had a hard time categorizing Reid’s book. At first, I was thinking maybe Young Adult. It seemed an innocent read until I got to the first physical encounter between Kai and Gage. If you’re good with a little kink, this is the couple to read about. Fortunately, I have no problem with that element and pressed on. I actually liked the character of Gage. The mysteries surrounding him made me want to know more. I even appreciated Kai’s character. She was a strong protagonist not afraid to get a little blood on her hands.

I did get lost at one point with all the different characters. The story starts with Kai, her brother Cole, Isis and one other person. They meet a nameless Nocturna and then Gage. In the next chapter, we meet Kai’s ‘not boyfriend’ Marq. Enough characters to keep up with. A little bit further Reid throws in a bunch of other characters and names them. I could have done without knowing the names of all the minor characters.

The Nocturna is an interesting take on vampire lore. The main character, Kai, is bitten by one in the beginning of the book. She starts to transform into a hybrid of a Hunter and a Nocturna. Her Hunter persona is actually a hybrid between humanoid and an animal, Tiger. This new form feeds on blood from pure Nocturnas instead of humans.

Reid does intermingle humor in this book. First, there’s Marq, a Water Elemental, who shows up at the local supernatural bar naked. There are continuous jokes about his appearance. I think the Princess Brownie Faerie is the best. She looks like a child but has a mouth that would shame a sailor. This is the second book I’ve read where diminutive fae have an obsession with phallic symbols. What’s up with that?

H.U.M.A.N.S. was not a real cliffhanger, but it did leave unanswered questions. What happened to the royal Nocturna, Nailah? What happens with the Brownie Faerie? How long will Kai and Gage be able to live in Puerto Vallarta without access to more Nocturnas?

Reid has promised a follow up to H.U.M.A.N.S. I hope these questions are answered along with more about Gage.

Goodreads.com Description: “In this sequel to the bestselling fantasy thriller, Angelfall, the survivors of the angel apocalypse begin to scrape back together what’s left of the modern world. When a group of people capture Penryn’s sister Paige, thinking she’s a monster, the situation ends in a massacre. Paige disappears. Humans are terrified. Mom is heartbroken. Penryn drives through the streets of San Francisco looking for Paige. Why are the streets so empty? Where is everybody? Her search leads her into the heart of the angels’ secret plans where she catches a glimpse of their motivations, and learns the horrifying extent to which the angels are willing to go. Meanwhile, Raffe hunts for his wings. Without them, he can’t rejoin the angels, can’t take his rightful place as one of their leaders. When faced with recapturing his wings or helping Penryn survive, which will he choose?”

I received an ecopy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts:

Susan Ee’s World After was another superb read! I loved this follow up to Angelfall.

Ee used an interesting technique to give insight into Raffe–visions provided by the Sword affectionately named Pooky Bear (P.B.) by Penryn. P.B. helped her learn how to use it in fighting. The visions also helped Penryn to develop affection for Raffe. She was finally able to understand that he was not a bad angel.

The concept of good vs evil was the premise of World After. Raffe represented Good. Beliel (a Fallen Angel) and Uriel (an Archangel determined to become God’s Messenger) were the representatives of everything Evil. Ee added the idea of principles to differentiate between the concepts. Raffe was highly principled. He would not break nor bend the rules no matter how he felt about Penryn. Beliel and Uriel, on the other hand, broke rules if it got them what they desired. And, what prompts this war between good and evil? Power. It’s nice to know that even angels aren’t immune to the lure of absolute power.

World After also included an insight on crowd mentality aka herd mentality. Mob or crowd psychology “describes how people are influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviors, follow trends, and/or purchase items” (Wikipedia). The Resistance was founded on this psychology–angels are bad, we must band together to fight back. The reaction after the attack by the Scorpions hinged on mob psychology. No one listened to Penryn who survived a Scorpion assault. This mentality prevailed when Paige attacked and killed a man and in the treatment of Clare (another Scorpion assault victim).

Ee incorporated great details in World After. I’ve never been to Alcatraz, but she’s probably taken the tour. I got a clear picture of a place I’d never want to visit. She included common detail expertly. Everyone knows that the water is bone chilling and filled with sharks. It kept the convicts on the island. But, she didn’t just tell us that. We got that concept from Penryn’s experience in the water.

Finally, readers got a bit of humor from Ee. I found it hilarious picturing the Sword introducing herself to other swords as Pooky Bear. Even Penryn’s inability to put together a coordinated outfit was funny.

I highly recommend World After. I’m anxiously awaiting End of Days.

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Goodreads.com Description: “Akin to Jennifer McMahon’s The Winter People and Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box, House of Echoes is a debut thriller populated by achingly sympathetic characters, charged with psychological suspense, and rich with a small town’s strange history. A young New York City couple with a boy and a baby in tow, Ben and Caroline Tierney had it all…until Ben’s second novel missed the mark, Caroline lost her lucrative banking job, and something went wrong with 8-year-old Charlie. When Ben inherits land way upstate from his grandmother, the two of them began to believe in second chances. But upon arriving in Swannhaven, a town that seems to have been forgotten by time, they’re beset by strange sights and disconcerting developments…and they begin to realize they might have made their worst mistake yet. But what dark secret is buried in this odd place? And will Ben and Caroline figure it out soon enough to save their young family?”

I received an ecopy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts:

House of Echoes, Brendan Duffy’s debut thriller, reminded me of the traditional suspense stories of Rod Serling. Anyone old enough to have watched “Night Gallery”?

Night Gallery This series featured interesting stories. Back in the seventies, they were considered scary, but without a serious rewrite and modern special effects they don’t cut it for today’s audience.  Unfortunately, Duffy’s story was lacking that element of modern day suspense.

I actually liked the plot and the characters. My favorite was Ben. He was a writer with a lot on his plate–a bipolar wife, a very quiet son who was a magnet for bad things happening to him, an infant son and a mansion to renovate. His character was strong throughout the book. Although he gave himself a mental beating towards the end, he really did put his family’s needs before his own. I didn’t know what to think of Caroline. Even without her condition, I think she would have been a ‘pill’ to live with. She was demanding and a bit of a princess. Her needs always came first. Then, you learn that her condition was exasperated by a cup of tea! Charlie was not a likable kid–too quiet and just plain weird. By the end of the book, I started to like him. He came clean with his dad. The poor kid was just too scared to speak up. Since he had no friends his age, he was willing to befriend anyone. The rest of the cast, the town residents, were throwbacks to the Stepford Wives. And just like those women, they all shared one thought and mission no matter how wrong it was.

The big drawback for me was lack of action. I was nearly sixty percent into the book before it started to really pick up. I kept reading because the story was good. Plus, it was a ‘thriller’ so it had to have a major climax. House of Echoes was reminiscent of the thrillers I read as a kid in junior high–I read above my age level starting in third grade. Those books were slow moving but you kept reading simply to find out how it would end.

I was surprised to find a moral at the end of the tale: A man doesn’t need everything. He only needs those things that he can’t live without. Want to find out what that means? Pick up a copy of House of Echoes. Just be prepared to take a while reading it. You’re not going to finish this traditional suspense story in a couple of days.  But, I think the ending alone gives the book merit.

Goodreads.com Description: “It’s been six weeks since the angels of the apocalypse destroyed the world as we know it. Only pockets of humanity remain. Savage street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When angels fly away with a helpless girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back…”

I received an ecopy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts:

Susan Ee’s Angelfall was one of the most imaginative stories I have read thus far. It was the first book I’d ever read about angels and it was very good.

This is not a dull read. Be prepared to spend a few hours and knock it out. I could have easily read Angelfall in one night, but I reluctantly stretched it over two days. The premise of the story–a war within the angel ranks–was divine (sorry about the pun).

Ee did a fantastic job of interweaving Biblical reference and spiritual myth to create a brilliant tale of strength, relationships and good vs evil. Penryn, a remarkably strong and self-reliant protagonist, acts as the head of her family. Her father is absent, her mother should be and her sister is barely there. Anything Penryn isn’t ready to handle she shoves into her mental vault including her unlikely alliance with the angel Raffe (wait until you find out who he really is).

The relationship that develops between Raffe and Penryn is strained. Neither of them want to admit anything positive about the other. They instantly form a bond risking their own existence to save the other.

Penryn struggles with some real inner demons (oops!) in Angelfall. Her goal is simply to save her sister from the bad angels until she stumbles onto something much bigger. Ee introduces readers to some scary possibilities in Angelfall–the end of the world with angels creating havoc, beasts eating humans alive, and hybrid scorpions with wings!

Angelfall is well-written with great descriptions and details. It deserves a shot at the silver screen. Fallen angels, a Messenger angel, warrior angels, archangels–not a dull moment at all! I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I’m nearly done with the second installlment!

Goodreads.com Description: “Gemma thought Alex was dead, that she’d made an irreversible mistake and would never see him again. But then her father resets time and she’s given another chance to be with Alex, if she can save the world and get rid of the star. Gemma decides to follow in her father’s footsteps and attempt to change the vision of the end of the world. If she can pull it off, then maybe she can have the normal life she’s always wanted and Alex and her can have a chance for a real future. But changing visions is dangerous, and sometimes one small mistake can lead to disastrous results.”

**Mature Content Warning** 17+ for language and sexual content.

(this is a re-imagining of the Young Adult Paranormal book, The Vision (Book 3 in the Fallen Star Series) told as a New Adult Paranormal)

My Thoughts:

So far, “Broken Visions” by Jessica Sorensen is the best book out of the series! Plot thickens, emotions deepen and characters develop further in this paranormal story.

I’ve enjoyed the characters throughout the “Shattered Promises” series. Sorensen gives us more to love in her third installment. Gemma started out as the blank slate main character. In Book One, she found her emotions. In Book Three we learn that Alex was responsible for that development. Now Gemma is dealing with so many emotions that she wishes she could go back in time. But, only for a minute. Alex continues to be a brick wall. He does a great job of hiding his emotions but Gemma is putting all sorts of chinks in the concrete. By the end of the book he’s having a real struggle with his own emotions. “Broken Visions” was clearly only about these two characters. Laylen, Aislen and Shasta have very minor roles. And, poor Nicholas, the mobile Renuzit air freshener fairie, meets an almost tragic end.

The character of Gemma is like a giant rose with many petals. Pull back a petal and learn something new–emotions, powers, relationships. This time we learn about her father, another Foreseer, and more about her mother. Oh, and the little rose has a ‘bud’ in development.

I love Sorensen’s handling of time travel. Instead of the usual contrived and obvious ways of travel, crystal balls and even spontaneous visions send the MC into the past or into the future. Gemma learns that she is a rare Foreseer/Keeper who has great powers. She can concentrate and travel to where ever she needs to be.

The only thing I disliked about “Broken Visions”? The next book in the series hasn’t been released yet! I’ve already pre-ordered mine.

Goodreads.com Description: “Alex thought things were already complicated, but then Gemma shows up possessed by Stephan and she wants to kill him. Normally, he would eliminate someone in Gemma’s position to protect himself, but his feelings for Gemma won’t allow him to do that. She’s too important to him and he knows he has to save her without hurting her. But can he find a way to save her before someone gets hurt?”

My Thoughts:

Unlike some novellas, Jessica Sorensen’s Unbroken is an essential element of the story between Alex and Gemma. It’s not just back story or a ‘behind the scenes’ read.

Unbroken picks up with Gemma’s reappearance after her time with Stephan. Readers learn more about how Alex feels for her and his relationship with Aislen, his sister. When Gemma returns she is now a tool for evil thanks to Stephan. Unfortunately, Alex has to put emotion aside and deal with her. Only a potentially fatal Emotional Exorcism may erase his father’s meddling.

I greatly appreciated this novella. Alex becomes more complete. He turns into a character to really like and sympathize with. Gemma, now twisted, gains another facet to her personality and becomes a dimensional character.

Sorensen adds another twist to the plot by adding a new character, Stasha. Remember Batman’s Poison Ivy? Well, Stasha is a similar version. Instead of her lips being toxic, it’s her hands. She can’t touch a person without killing them. What a gift!

Unbroken is a must read in this series. Readers will be better prepared for Book 3, Broken Visions, after reading this tale.

Goodreads.com Description: “Gemma thought she had said her good-byes and had felt every possible emotion she could before her soul was detached again. Deep down inside, she hoped she’d never wake up from it because, in her eyes, life without emotion and memories isn’t worth living. But she does wake up and discovers she can still feel and remember everything she experienced over the last few months. Alex is also telling her that everything’s okay, that he didn’t betray her, and that what she thought happened really didn’t. Gemma isn’t sure if she can trust Alex, so she tries to keep her distance from him, even though the electric connection and her desire make it nearly impossible. The only person she can trust is Laylen, but even that becomes complicated when the lines of their friendship begin to blur. While Gemma struggles with her emotions and relationships, she searches for her mother, entering a dangerous world of secrets, seduction, and evil. The further she digs into her mother’s secrets and past, the more she wonders what waits for her at the end of her search and if maybe some things are better left in the dark.”

**Mature Content Warning** 17+ for language and sexual content.
(this is a re-imagining of the Young Adult Paranormal book, The Underworld (Book 2 in the Fallen Star Series) told as a New Adult Paranormal)

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed Jessica Sorensen’s Fractured Souls. I felt it was a much better book than the first one, Shattered Promises, in this series.

Sorensen gave the characters more depth in Fractured Souls. This dark, twisted tale was an exploration of their emotions. Gemma, the main character, is still learning about her emotions. And, even Alex is discovering emotions long since hidden. The biggest emotion the two of them face is Love. Although the story is paranormal with an unfathomable situation, Gemma is constantly asking the same question: How do you know it’s love. Much like their situation, it can’t easily be answered.

The characters aren’t the only ones who get to explore emotions. Readers get to feel sympathy and hate. In Shattered Promises it was hard to really like Gemma until her emotions showed up. Alex was such a ‘douche’ he was unlikable. Thankfully, that changes in Fractured Souls. Once you learn their perilous situation, you like them and sympathize with them. Even the vampire Laylen is more likable. Sorensen gives us true villains to hate in this story too–Nicholas, Stephan and the Queen of the Underworld.

Emotions aren’t the only thing explored in Fractured Souls. The conflict between Good and Evil spans the story. For Gemma, does the presence of evil within a family doom her to being Evil? What does that say for Alex whose father is the embodiment of Evil? And, what about Laylen? He’s a tragic soul created from Evil. Can he have Good within? I love how Sorensen explored this concept. All the answers aren’t given in this installment. But, you’ll want to keep reading to find them.

Fractured Souls is a tale with humor, some memorable moments and a few insightful quotes. The best one came from Gemma. “There are things in life that happen that change who we are, things that are hard to come back from, and in the end we never really are the same.” That sums up the whole story.

Be sure to read the novella, Unbroken. Sorensen writes more about Good and Evil and how it impacts Gemma and Alex in this quick read.

Goodreads.com Description: “For twenty-one year-old Gemma, life has never been normal. She knows nothing about her past and has been haunted by the same monsters in her nightmares for the last few months. Unemotional and numb to life, she feels disconnected from everyone. Until the very first day she cries. After that, nothing in her life is the same. Her emotions slowly surface and she starts experiencing love, happiness, and anger, feelings she never knew existed. But they leave her confused and she doesn’t know whether to embrace them or run away from them. Her life only gets more complicated when she meets Alex. Sexy, arrogant, and secretive, Alex can get under Gemma’s skin like no one can. Yet she’s drawn to him by an invisible connection she has no control over. She’s also seen him before. In her nightmares. Every part of Gemma’s mind is screaming at her to stay away from Alex, but every other part of her is begging to get close to him. But the closer she gets, the more she realizes Alex knows more about her than he originally let on. As secrets about her past unravel, Gemma’s life becomes threatened. She needs to figure out what’s going on, before she winds up dead. But the only person she can turn to for answers is the one person she isn’t sure she can trust.”

**Mature Content Warning** 17+ for language and sexual content.
(A re-imagining of the young adult book, The Fallen Star by Jessica Sorensen, told as a New Adult Paranormal)

My Thoughts:

Jessica Sorensen’s Shattered Promises is an interesting paranormal adventure. This book is supposed to be a retelling of a young adult story for new adults. Well, I never read the previous version, but I think this version works.

At first I was skeptical. The cover and description prompted the purchase. Upon reading, however, I got lost. The main character, Gemma, seemed one-dimensional. Then, Sorensen reveals that the MC is devoid of emotion. That would definitely make a person a little one-dimensional. The story picks up when she discovers emotion and meets the electric Alex.

Sorensen’s story line and characters are inventive. The plot involves a quest and the usual girl meets boy scenario. However, the quest involves a fallen star that somehow is INSIDE a person (Gemma). So, naturally the girl is anything but usual and the boy is even more strange. Every time he touches her or comes near they radiate electricity. Of course there has to be a love triangle. But, even Sorensen’s triangle is odd. It includes a sexy vampire!

Shattered Promises had me laughing at parts and sighing in others. It was a book I couldn’t put down–humor, sex and mystery all in story. Thankfully, I purchased the next book! I highly recommend this new adult book.

Goodreads.com Description: “After Katrina “Kat” Summer’s mother dies a mysterious and tragic death, Kat is hurtled into life at Apollo Beach. Her estranged and cryptic grandmother Rose fills Kat with legends of her Ancient Greek Ancestors from which the Summer family descends. Kat’s world begins to unravel as secrets from her heritage are exposed – secrets that her mother purposefully concealed. Leading to her birthday, the day of the Summer Solstice, Kat becomes frightened when enigmatic visions and disturbing dreams haunt her. When her visions become reality, her fear turns to terror as powerful forces threaten the lives of those around her. Amidst the turmoil, Kat meets Alec Stone, her gorgeous neighbor, who becomes her sole solace in an evocative world of mythological enchantment and evil prophecies that lurk around every corner…”

I received an ecopy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts:

K.K. Allen’s The Summer Solstice: Enchanted was interesting. The plot was inventive and the characters developed.

Although the story’s premise was inviting, I found the book a bit slow. When the main character, Katrina, had her sixteenth birthday party on the same day as the Summer Solstice, things picked up. My patience was rewarded with action and a story line that made me wonder what’s next.

I didn’t know what to think of Katrina. At first you’re sympathetic because of her situation. After a while, you start wondering if she’s a little ungrateful towards her grandmother. By the end of the tale, you’re back to sympathetic.

The supporting cast of characters–Iris and Ava–reminded me of the cast of “Mean Girls”. Thankfully, their antics added a little humor to the story. Even Katrina’s moments of discovery were funny (think “Sabrina The Teenage Witch”).

The Summer Solstice leaves plenty of questions which may be answered in the second book, Equinox. Despite the questions, I enjoyed reading the book and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a little light, magical reading.

Goodreads.com Description: “Caitlin McAllister has been keeping a secret. While her clan suffers for lack of a seer, she’s been hiding her gift of second sight—hiding and running away from a destiny she does not want and has done her best to escape. Unfortunately, she finds that keeping secrets carries its own price when she and two of her friends end up in the hands of three evil warlocks who seem intent on using the young witches for their own dark purposes. Far from her clan’s territory, Caitlin turns to Alex Trujillo, whose grandmother is the prima of the de la Paz witch clan and whose own gift is the ability to cast a unique kind of protective spell, to help her with tracking down the warlocks who planned the kidnapping. As Alex and Caitlin work together to save her friends, they find themselves falling under one another’s spell. But their combined talents may not be enough to save the kidnapped witches…or to stop a murderous conspiracy that threatens the safety of all the Arizona witch clans.”

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

WARNING: Sexual content, Mature Readers (17+)

***SPOILER ALERT***

My Thoughts:

Protector by Christine Pope is a paranormal thriller complete with action and romance–loved it!

If you haven’t read the other books in the “Witches of Cleopatra Hill” series, stop and pick them up. Although Protector reads like a standalone, it helps if you know the back story.

I loved how Pope intertwined Angela, Connor and Adam in this installment. It’s been a couple of years since Angela and Connor’s marriage. Their powers as prima and primus have increased. Without them, this tale would have a very different outcome.

I have to admit Protector had a creepy plot–young girls kidnapped and used for some demonic ritual. To make matters worse, the main character kept having visions of what happened to these girls with their captors. It made for an intriguing story that was hard to put down.

If you’ve read the other books, you’ll remember Alex Trujillo. Well, he’s back and handsome as ever. He wasn’t destined to be Angela’s consort, but he does have a bond with the main character of this tale.

Pope doesn’t disappoint with Protector. There is yet another installment in this series due out in the fall. Will it come out in time for Samhain?