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As of 28 February 2016, due to decline in my health and chronic illness

Friday, August 31, 2012

THE CRUCIBLE by Ruby Barnes_Review

The Crucible (Part 1)The Crucible by Ruby Barnes

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Review of The Crucible by Ruby Barnes
Reviewed for Making Connections Goodreads Group, of an ebook copy received from the author on July 26 2012, in exchange for my provision of a fair and impartial review.

From the first novel I read by Ruby Barnes, which was “The Baptist,” I have been a convert. No matter the subject matter, if Mr. Barnes wrote it, I’ll read it. “The Crucible” is no exception. Jam-packed with historical, cultural, geographical, societal, and technological information, filled to the rafters to bursting with adventure, thrills, emotion, and deep backstory, “The Crucible” is nonetheless incredibly fast-paced and definitely a page-turner. Even though the engineering detail didn’t penetrate (I’m sorry, I’m just not gifted in that respect ) the story still carried me right on through. Yes, there’s violence, yes, there’s sensuality, yes, there’s an untold number of deaths (the vast majority of which are probably unnecessary and unwanted), but the story! Mr. Barnes has an incredible grip on the process of making a novel work, and deftly demonstrates it here. From the heart-stopping reader’s hook of Page 1 right on through to the riveting end, this is a roller-coaster ride and a fine example of the inimitable writing style of Ruby Barnes. I highly recommend it (and all his novels, as well).




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AT THE END by John Hennessy_Review

At the End - a post-apocalyptic novel (The Road to Extinction, #1)At the End - a post-apocalyptic novel by John Hennessy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Review of At the End
Reviewed via Basically Books Goodreads Group, of an ebook copy received August 4 2012 in exchange for my fair and impartial review.

Through the first couple of pages, I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book (I prefer the reader’s hook to reach for me immediately) but once I read just a few pages, I was hooked-and no complaints after that, this novel is literally non-stop page-turning. There is no deceleration of tension; the plot line moves at nearly hyper-drive speed, carrying the reader along with total engrossment.

It’s finally here: the danger that’s been discussed, and scoffed at, since the 1950’s: alien invasion. Yes, folks, you read that correctly. Aliens have invaded planet Earth, and everything you think you know about alien abduction is probably accurate. In the first two nights, 99% of the population is “taken.” Those that remain are quite often adolescents or younger, but not being abducted certainly doesn’t indicate safety, for the aliens seem determined to eradicate humanity. Those not abducted are hunted; in fact, like the predator species the aliens so resemble, some of the Earthlings are “marked” for prey, hunted down, and consumed.

Enter a trio of frightened yet determined young people: Daryl, Felix, and Maggy, who won’t just lie down and wait to be fodder. Instead, they’re bent on survival, no matter what the cost, and no matter if it’s even possible. They’re trying, and they’ll save all whom they can on the way.




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Thursday, August 30, 2012

OTHER SYSTEMS by Elizabeth Guizzetti_Review

Other SystemsOther Systems by Elizabeth Guizzetti

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Review of Other Systems
Reviewed for Making Connections Goodreads Group

I reviewed an ebook copy of “Other Systems” provided to me by the author, Elizabeth Guizzetti, on July 30 2012, in exchange for my fair and impartial review.

As a child and adolescent, science fiction was one of my favoured genres. Then in adulthood, for some reason I diverged and only read it occasionally (in my 40’s I devoured Star Trek novels-go figure). But on the rare occasions lately when I do pick up a sci fi story, I remember how much I love the genre and why. Perhaps I should better term this “speculative fiction,” because good sci fi (or horror or Supernatural, paranormal, fantasy, etc.) asks THE BIG QUESTIONS. Such is the case in “Other Systems,” author Elizabeth Guizzetti’s debut novel, which sets those philosophical, social, and cultural queries against a background of intense, complex, delightful world-building. There are a number of different “environments” constructed here: from a futuristic Earth (mostly, but not entirely, Seattle) to outer space (life lived in relative time, meaning very sloooooowww aging), to an extraordinary planet in an “other system,” a planet whose populace interacts with an overgrown Earth, in ways that purport to be beneficial and pleasant-but oh what a surprise when that’s not so.




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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

THE TOMB by Dave Ferraro_Review

The TombThe Tomb by Dave Ferraro

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Review of The Tomb by Dave Ferraro
Reviewed for We ♥ YA Books!

I received an ebook copy from Smashwords, via We ♥ YA Books! Goodreads Group in exchange for my fair and impartial review.

I really appreciate the gentle notching of the reader’s hook accompanied by the subtle escalation of suspense. So much in this novel depends on the psychological aspect of horror, which to me is much more poignant that splattering the reader with gore. Author Dave Ferraro is well aware of the inside-and-out of his characters, drawing them deftly and empathetically. When one or more of the individuals on Black Forest Island, among the archaeological crew and support staff (the supply boat captain) begin to act “out of character,” it’s not done obviously but subtly, inspiring the reader to think about what’s happening, and why-and then the intermittent tie-ins with Rachel’s seemingly faulty memory lend yet another layer of suspense. For readers who prefer their horror flavoured with the Supernatural or paranormal, there’s plenty of that here too; but I must marvel at the psychological insights. Once again I am reminded of Henry James in “Turn of the Screw,” and Saki in “The Open Window,” because sometimes what is to be feared is within, not always external.
I highly enjoyed and recommend this book. The author has a very smooth writing style which encourages me to go read all his other stories as well.





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BLOOD HEAVY (BLOOD HEAVY #1) by S. L. J. Shortt_Review

Blood HeavyBlood Heavy by S.L.J. Shortt

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Review of Blood Heavy by S. L. J. Shortt
4 stars
Reviewed for Basically Books, received from author via Basically Books August 1 2012, in exchange for my fair and impartial review

What a great reader’s hook! From the first page this story launches it into space (not literally, now) and the reader is yanked along for the ride-what a great ride it is. I was immediately engrossed and that’s always a sign to me that the book will take me to new and unexplored realms. Indeed that is the case with “Blood Heavy.”
High school isn’t just boring classes and lot of parties when you’re the guy with “special” blood, the kind that means you’re being tracked by both good guys and bad guys. Such is the case with Daniel (nicknamed “Jerry”), raised by his uncle since his dad died eight years earlier (his mother had passed in childbirth). Jerry is ready to get out of school and work on cars, but life is very close to taking some sudden and bizarre turns.
Author S. L. Shortt has a handy way of delineating characters, then peeling off their external facades to reveal the real person underneath. Coupled with the thriller roller-coaster plot ride, “Blood Heavy” keeps readers “glued to the page” and ready for more. “Blood Heavy” is the first in a series.




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OH HOLY GHOST (MELLOW SUMMERS #5) by Janet McNulty_Review

Oh Holy GhostOh Holy Ghost by Janet McNulty

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Review of Oh Holy Ghost (Mellow Summers #5) by Janet McNulty
Reviewed for Making Connections Goodreads Group
The ebook copy has been provided to me by the author in return for my fair and impartial review.

This fifth entry in the Mellow Summers series, about the ghost-magnet college co-ed, can be read as a stand-alone or enjoyed as part of the series. Mel is feeling a little lost as Christmas approaches, because there haven’t been any crimes lately needing to be solved, and no ghostly encounters (or so she has thought). Her ghost-sidekick, Rachel, hasn’t been around lately either. But riding on a float in the Christmas parade, Mel spots a murder-in-progress in an upstairs apartment of a run-down building, and hastens to the scene-only to find the place empty not just of inhabitants but even of furniture or any sign of life.

This time around Mel attracts an unearthly presence which terrifies her, as well as, once again, a killer who believes she needs to be eradicated. But feisty Mellow won’t be stopped-she is on the trail of a murderer, and nothing-on earth or beyond-will get in Mel’s way.




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THREE LITTLE GHOSTS (MELLOW SUMMERS #4) by Janet McNulty_Review

Three Little GhostsThree Little Ghosts by Janet McNulty

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Review of Three Little Ghosts (Mellow Summers #4) by Janet McNulty
Reviewed for Making Connections Goodreads Group
The ebook copy has been provided to me by the author in return for my fair and impartial review.

Even though this is the fourth in a series, enough backdrop is subtly woven in that the reader can come to it fresh, as I did (though I do intend to go pick up the first three in the series). Feisty Mellow Summers is a college co-ed in Vermont, rooming with her wealthy but unassuming friend Janet. Mellow has an unusual talent-she is a ghost magnet, and even has a ghostly sidekick, Rachel (who does not, however, appear in this novel). Mel also is almost obsessed with solving crimes: present her with one, and danger, police detective’s warnings, and threats, will not turn her aside. Mel is nothing if not determined. She also has a boyfriend Greg, a really decent guy; and an entire biker gang on her side. In fact, in this entry, one of the gang, Tiny, is confronted by the ghost of a little girl, in the town library, and as Mel sets off to soothe the ghost and perhaps help her to move on, she soon discovers that there is not just one Library ghosts, but three-and of course, she finds herself head deep in a murder, and herself targeted by the killer.




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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

DEATH WHISPERS by Tamara Rose Blodgett (Death #1)_Review

Reviewed for Free Book Dude for Aug. 27 2012

5 Stars!

I totally enjoyed this book and plan to immediately move on to the other books in the series. Author Tamara Rose Blodgett constructs an intricate framework in which her characters interact. Attuned to the adolescent patois, attitudes, and emotions, she skillfully draws both her young characters (most in eight grade and at or near puberty-a crucial factor in the plot) and the adults: parents, educators, school administrators, law enforcement personnel, and government bureaucrats). Each is well-tuned and comprehensible-many are likeable. Even the “villains” are well-rounded.
In this milieu, the Human Genome was successfully mapped in 2010, and not just the predilections for cancer, diabetes, and Parkinson’s were discovered. Paranormal talents also seem to be genetically-based, and beginning in 2015, a government-mandated program inoculated every child entering kindergarten. At or near puberty, these talents become apparent, and adolescents are tested in their 13th year, then shuffled into different high school according to their talents. The rare talents, such as pyrokinesis and “Affinity for the Dead,” are especially singled out, because of their potential for military activation.
Caleb Hart is the only child of the scientist who mapped the Human Genome-and his talent is off-scale for “AFTD.” He knows he has to modulate it, if possible to conceal it, or the secret government agencies will step in and hide him. But it’s hard to hide, when the bullies are everywhere he goes, he’s just got a new girlfriend to whom he’s devoted, and he has to protect friends, old and new. Come along for a roller-coaster ride in “Death Whispers”-I guarantee you’re gonna love it.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN VAMPIRE HUNTER by Seth Grahame-Smith_Review

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire HunterAbraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


August 2012 Pick4Me

I had had such high expectations for this book. I totally enjoyed the author’s “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” on the one hand; and on the other, Abraham Lincoln is my very most favourite president of all time. What’s not to love in this combination? Well, this novel is what’s not to love-I was quite disappointed, for both of the above criteria. The initial segment of Seth-in-Rhinebeck-with-mysterious-wealthy-customer-Henry was excellent, and I really anticipated moving on into the life and journal entries of Mr. Lincoln. But-the book wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t great after that, although the segment of Abraham at the flatboat and subsequently (I can’t be too specific, in order not to give anything away), of Abraham’s aunt, uncle, and mother; and of Abraham learning the true tale from his father; were all quite intriguing. Just the novel as a whole did not capture and maintain my interest sufficiently. But due to the fact that several sections were really good, as I’ve expressed, I give it a 4. Maybe it was just me: hoping for too much.



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BOTANICAUST by Tam Linsey_Review

BotanicaustBotanicaust by Tam Linsey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Review of Botanicaust

Reviewed for Lovers of Paranormal Goodreads Group

I just want to say “Wow-what a job of world-building”-it really stretched my imagination, plus the novel is a very enjoyable read. Set some distance into the future, four centuries after the “botanicaust,” in which the world’s total crop output is destroyed, by manmade mistakes including pesticides, leaving only a plant that is toxic, and a few other scattered types of plant life. By genetic modification, a species of modified humans exist, who are themselves photo-synthetic: they are very similar to plants, thriving on sunlight, but plant life is toxic to them. They seldom need to eat, either; and oddly, their skin is green-again like plants.
Other ethnic groups also exist: the Holdouts, who are similar to Amish, speak German, and follow only “Gotte Wille” (God’s Will); and the Fosselites, famed scientists and researchers who have survived intact since before the Botanicaust, very long-lived individuals indeed.
Author Tam Linsey has worked an extraordinary world-building in this novel, and I am thankful to see it will be a series-I’m eager for the next installment.




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Monday, August 27, 2012

PROJECT ELE By Rebecca Gober and Courtney Nuckels_Review

Project ELEProject ELE by Rebecca Gober

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Review of Project ELE by Rebecca Gober and Courtney Nuckles

Reviewed for Books4Tomorrow Facebook Event, ending September 9 2012. Ebook copy provided via Books4Tomorrow.
5 Stars +

I so totally enjoyed this most riveting and likable dystopian novel that I want to give it 16 or 18 stars. This is in the “champion class” of Dystopian sub-genre, and here’s why:
Like every “good” dystopian, there’s plausibility (yes, Virginia, our reality could experience something exactly like this or very similar); it’s near-futuristic (yes, Virginia, our grandchildren, children, even our generation, could experience this); it’s peopled with characters ranging the gamut of human attitude and experience.

Like the “best” dystopian, it doesn’t leave us depressed, gasping for breath to overcome despair. No, “Project ELE” (despite the terribly horrific meaning of its title) sings of hope, of faith-of trust and of love, of survival and of the will to overcome, not just to exist but to live. It even has an anti-bullying platform theme (yes, who would think in advance that bullies would be worrisome when the world is about to end? Well, most of us might not, but our very imaginative authors sure did!) This novel plucked the strings of all my fears about global warming, pandemic plague, and certain governmental agencies and policies-and I loved it! I absolutely gloried in this novel! Can’t wait to push everything aside and go read it again!




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EVER FIRE (DARK FAERIE TALES #2) by Alexia Purdy_Review

Ever Fire (A Dark Faerie Tale, #2)Ever Fire by Alexia Purdy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Review of Ever Fire by Alexia Purdy
Reviewed for the author via Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy Fanatics Goodreads Group.
This review is based on an e-book version.

An eventful continuation of Author Alexia Purdy’s A Dark Faerie Tale series, which commenced with “Ever Shade” and will continue in “Ever Winter,” “Ever Fire” is a rollicking and rousing tale of the Faerie World. Ms. Purdy is superb at world-building, giving us an entirely new version of the Fae, while still maintaining the separation of and character types from the Unseelie and Seelie Courts-the Seelie being not evil, yet not good in the human sense; the Unseelie being sadistic, torturous, and cruel-not to mention dictatorial and tyrant-ish.
In the earlier novel, Shade discovers that she is a “part-Fey Changeling,” that the father she never knew had been Fey. Now as her magical powers continue to develop (at astronomical rates on each visit to Faerie), so too does her scrying ability, and she quickly discovers that she is a wanted individual, wanted by the evil Unseelie Queen-and that she has a grandmother (and more kin to be discovered).
Readers who love Fae will glory in this new installment, which is fast-paced and lively, suitable for YA audiences as well as older.




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Sunday, August 26, 2012

WHEN COPPER SUNS FALL by KaSonndra Leigh_Review

When Copper Suns Fall (Lost Immortals, #1)When Copper Suns Fall by KaSonndra Leigh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Review of When Copper Suns Fall
By KaSonndra Leigh

I read this novel as a chapter a day read, and let me tell you, it was really difficult to hold back and not race on through! The last five chapters I did read in one setting-I simply could not wait longer.
This is a very complex, incredibly well-thought-out, urban fantasy/paranormal/supernatural/alchemical/scientific/dystopian story, which I am happy is to be the first in a series-because there are a lot of secrets, multiple characters, and backstory of which I wish to read more! There is so much content in this book, a fully-imagined and fully-articulated world-building, much to be admired and enjoyed. Set in a future area which we today would consider eastern North Carolina, society following “the Tidal Wars” is very restricted, according to genetics rather than by wealth or merit. Life is as rigid as during the Middle Ages, and those “without” (commoners) are restricted to living outside the walled enclaves. Those within the walls are subject to the governmental entity of the enclave, and the border guards and “dark soldiers.” It is much worse than the Orwellian creations of “1984.” Even in such a society, though, rebellion exists, and here it takes the form of descendants of angels-both the good and the fallen.

I won’t say more because I don’t want to reveal any of this totally complex and astounding novel-I’ll just say-if you’re read it, well, read it again. If you’ve missed out so far-what are you waiting for? “When Copper Suns Fall” rocks!!




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REVENANT by Jeffrey Kosh_Review

REVENANTREVENANT by Jeffrey Kosh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This short novel is full of very poetic imagery, very lyrical-I really appreciated the author’s analogies. And the reader’s hook: ahh, scrumptious! How engrossed I was immediately, and by the end of the first section, I was ready to follow along and rock with the action, eager to discover the plight of the protagonist. From reading Mr. Kosh’s earlier novels, specifically “Feeding the Urge,” “Kamp Koko By Night,” and “Spirits and Thought Forms,” I remember that this author has an inimitable touch when describing the swamps of Florida-yet here he has taken on swamps of a rather different sort, those of Southern Louisiana. Once again, our senses are awakened, and we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch all the sensory input of these swamps, even as we are witness to the thoughts of this walking yet demised protagonist.

The story has a lovely escalating tension, first shifting the veils of secrecy, then recloaking, keeping the reader enthralled-rather like watching a silent film of the 1920’s, but without the printed dialogue on screen. The character of the protagonist is deftly revealed through his attitudes and beliefs concerning those who surround him: wife, best friend, personal valet, and the mistreated slaves. Author Kosh brings out the prevailing slaveowning beliefs of this era quite well, as well as succinctly. Character delineations are unpeeled in depth, making the story memorable and a keeper.




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Friday, August 24, 2012

THE CRISIS ARTIFACT by Gordon Massie, James LaFleur, Rich Dalglish_Review

The Crisis Artifact (The Crisis Trilogy)The Crisis Artifact by Gordon Massie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Review of The Crisis Artifact

An electrifying thriller, and just as promised by the publisher, it doesn’t take long at all to read (of course not, the pages flew for me). I was reminded of some of the thrillers of Alex Archer, but “The Crisis Artifact” seems to have more impact because it is so compact, yet deep. Here we are treated to archaeology, death, divorce, mythology, paranormal, South American drug lords and military, and history stretching so far back (before the Inca, before the Maya) that it is actually pre-history. There is even apocalypse-yes, Virginia, there really are apocalpyses that don’t involve either zombies or plague viruses. I totally enjoyed this novel and am already planning on acquiring the next two in the series. We’ve got a great batch of characters-both the “good guys” and the “bad guys,” magical displays of power, jungle temples, loyalty, instantaneous personality evolution-I don’t want to give anything away, but I do urge you to go get this novel and quickly!




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PIERCING THE FOLD BY Venessa Kimball_Review

Piercing the FoldPiercing the Fold by Venessa Kimball

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Review of Piercing the Fold
Reviewed for Making Connections Goodreads Group

“Piercing the Fold” is a rather complex YA novel, which tosses a young Georgia university student into literally, worlds beyond her very imagination. Jesca Gershon Sera has long known of her adoption, but she has enjoyed a happy and fulfilling life with her adoptive parents and one younger sister, the family’s own child. Now a student, she is engaged in study of astrophysics, quantum physics, and cosmology, to which she is drawn-and with good reason.

Jesca is the natural daughter-and the adoptive daughter-of guardians of another planet, one found in the Andromeda system. One might wonder why such guardians are necessary; and the answer is that the son of the quantum physicist, Sebastian, who originally discovered the method to construct a wormhole (or, to fold space via negative mass) has himself stolen the father’s data and followed those instructions, finding a “new” planet of his own, in the same system. Yet Balthazar’s natives are more evil than those of his father’s discovered planet, and much more interested in colonizing Earth, for whatever nefarious reason. So Guardians have been assigned to protect Earth, and of course, the adversaries have their entities on Earth as well.

As Jesca reaches a certain age, her abilities begin to manifest, and so do those around her who are Guardians acknowledge themselves to her, while the opposing entities step up their campaign to render her useless, or worse. Almost immediately, she finds her life upended, as she is shipped out for training in a subterranean Nevada desert compound.

“Piercing the Fold” is quite an engrossing story. Readers should be aware, though, that due to the nature of the plotlines (quantum physics, wormholes, event horizons, different planets), there are some complex propositions and explanations put forth in the context of the novel, as explication of the backstory and of the characters such as Sebastian and Balthazar (and Jesca’s biological parent, Anna Gershon) who have inspired the chain of events that lead to his point in time, and to Jesca’s changed life and her discovery of her purpose.




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Thursday, August 23, 2012

FOG by Caroline B. Cooney_Review

Fog (Losing Christina, #1)Fog by Caroline B. Cooney




I received an advance review copy from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for my impartial review.


Review of Fog by Caroline B. Cooney

First of all, I must confess that I became a major fan of Caroline B. Cooney’s YA and MG novels back in the 1980’s, as a single mom of 3. It was important to me to introduce my children to good books, as I had been (and continue to be) such a voracious reader since early childhood. Well, I got hooked on Ms. Cooney’s novels: good characterizations, fascinating locales, sprightly plotting (who hasn’t pondered “The Face on the Milk Carton”?), and much more more render Ms. Cooney a consistent champion in the YA/MG sweepstakes. Obviously, since I was already well past that age when I discovered her books, she appeals to adult readers too.
So when I discovered “Fog” on offer via NetGalley, I did not even wait to read the blurb! Of course, “Fog” lives up to my expectations.

A story of “gaslighting”-the procedure of psychologically manipulating one or more individuals to convince the targets, and their loved ones and friends, that they are in actuality either already insane, or becoming so. The term derives from a 1944 film, but the practice is no doubt much older than that. The problem is that only the controllers and the target know the facts are not apparent-“outsiders,” including family and friends, don’t see a difference. “Fog” is also a story of courage-of what it means to find courage in oneself, when one is under attack (psychological, verbal, or physical) and when no one else sees a problem, instead blaming the victim. As such, “Fog” should become must-reading for those victimized by bullying, or for those proactive in bullying prevention. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.




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THE GORGE by J.L. McPherson_Review

The GorgeThe Gorge by J.L. McPherson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Review of The Gorge by J. L. McPherson
Review requested by author via Mallory Heart Reviews FB Page

What an electrifying, vividly scenic, Supernatural thriller! I truly raced through this book in one sitting. I loved the background, the Supernatural elements (all of them), the good character delineation, and the way in which author J. L. McPherson has manipulated a multiple-plot thread story without once losing control of what he is attempting. The novel begins with the tribulations of Nathan Mires of Western North Carolina, but although Nathan is an important person throughout the plot, he is not the only one, nor is he the central character. Instead, the story centers around a locale, Weeping Rock Gorge in the Pisgah National Forest of the Southern Appalachians, still a wild and isolated location, despite the rampant overdevelopment of the past 80 years. It is around that Gorge and its existence and those “tools” through which it works-both otherworldly and human-that the plot lines of this story revolve and evolve. The ending was so incredible that I wish I could mention it, but for the sake of the avid readers to come, I shall not explain it.
“The Gorge” is graphically violent, but in the context of this novel as Horror and Supernatural, I did not consider the violence overdone or unnecessary (although I did grit my teeth on a couple of occasions). Rather, what happens here makes sense in the context of the novel. I will, however, rate it 18+ due to the violence and some situations.


The author provided a copy of this book in return for my fair, honest, and impartial review.



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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

HOTEL NOIR by Casper Silk_Review

Hotel NoirHotel Noir by Casper Silk

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I reviewed a copy provided to me by the publisher on July 30 2012, via the Goodreads Group Making Connections, in exchange for my fair, honest, authentic review.


Review of Hotel Noir by Casper Silk

I consider this novel literary fiction in the vein of Graham Greene, a study of a small island culture, not so much forgotten by time as strangling in the chords of its own history and of the chains inflicted by the burgeoning drug culture combined with eternal poverty. Francis Stein is a failed literary lion, widowed years ago when his beloved pregnant wife died of a brain aneurysm, taking her life and that of their unborn son. Francis remains a rather solitary figure-a writer of philosophy rather than a novelist, he retains some wealth, but the direction of his heart and moral creed have put him on a serious cliff edge. Francis, like Germaine, the shepherdess saint from whom the island takes its name (and who figures over and over throughout the story), is a person too good for his life: every step he takes seems to cause only misdirection, confusion, and misunderstanding. His moral path is mostly righteous, yet he finds himself accused repeatedly of the worst crimes (of which he is not guilty), blackmailed, and threatened with grievous bodily harm. His is one of those lives which becomes irretrievable and irredeemable, a man who is a virtual Sisyphus, rolling a stone up the mountain only to find the boulder continually rolls back onto his head and smashes him.




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K.W.McCabe: FREE hehe :)

K.W.McCabe: FREE hehe :): It's free today :) Check it out HERE!

DEVOURED (COLD GROVE TRILOGY #1) by S. J. Everett_Review

Devoured (Cold Grove, #1)Devoured by S.R. Everett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This review copy was provided to me on August 13, 2012, by Lovers of Paranormal Goodreads Group, from the author, in exchange for my provision of a fair, honest, authentic review.


Review of Devoured by S R Everett
4 Stars
Reviewed for Lovers of Paranormal GR Group

An engrossing reader’s hook drags in the reader immediately. I turned the pages quite quickly and paid no attention whatsoever to the “outside world” till I finished this book. The author deftly juggles a number of plot lines, quite a few characters, AND a changing time era, managing both the contemporary plot lines and the historical background era, which is itself essential to the current thread of events. Here we have outstandingly paranormal and Supernatural elements, as well as crime, mystery, thriller, police procedural sub-genres, all of which expand the story and add to the reader’s continuing intrigue.

There are so many plot lines here, it is difficult to choose which to mention. The community of Cold Grove, situated near a swamp, is a character all on its own, and the author brings the town vividly to life (both in its historical facets and in its contemporary styling). Cold Grove has never been “much of a town”; it’s the kind of locale people prefer to move away from and not move into. Back in the early days, the marsh was home to generational witches, all female, who were ostracized publicly but sought out under cover of darkness for herbal cures and more-even poisons. When a greedy, arrogant, wealthy, town resident decides to pervert religion and rid himself of unwanted family members, he chooses the current herbal woman/witch, Bella, as his scapegoat. That’s a mistake for which he, and his subsequent descendants, are going to pay in the coin of blood.

Rated 18+ for multiple instances of graphic violence; occasional profanity and sensuality. Not suited for YA readers under age 18.














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Giveaway for Willow Rose's SAVAGE: DAUGHTERS OF THE JAGUAR

Don't miss! Stop in today at "Savage" by Willow Rose Review and Huge Giveaway

My Review of "Savage" will follow shortly.
Meanwhile: don't miss the Giveaway and Review!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

REVEAL (CRYPTID TALES #1) by Brina Courtney_Review

Reveal (Cryptid Tales)Reveal by Brina Courtney

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This copy was provided to me via the Goodreads Group Lovers of Paranormal on August 10, 2012, from Smashwords, in return for my provision of a fair, honest, and authentic review.


Review of Reveal by Brina Courtney
A Cryptid Novel/Cryptid Tales #1
Reviewed for Lovers of Paranormal GR Group

I really enjoyed this fast-paced and engaging novel, with empathetic characters and a good reader’s hook. Shay is eighteen, finishing her senior year, and a ghost-talker. That is, since her father inexplicably disappears one day when Shay is six and her brother Chad is a toddler, she has seen, been visited by, and had dialogue with ghosts-the first is Jeremy, a boy left in an orphanage at age three, and dead at six in the orphanage fire which took so many lives in 1942. The book starts out with a bang, and just keeps getting better. Shay is a likable protagonist, and not “quite-the-usual-YA”-she has only one good friend, she avoids high school drunk-outs, and she’s close to her mother and younger brother. Of course, she also has a dad missing for 12 years, and she experiences ghost encounters on a regular basis. Not to mention, she’s crushing on a University student who fills out the category of Tall, Dark, and Handsome-and is also a ghostly encounterer himself!

I think any readers of YA Paranormal are going to love this book, and believe this one, I am sure hoping it’s a series! “Reveal” is very well-written, intriguing, and I had no trouble turning the pages as quickly as I could read-my interest never once flagged. Thank you, Brina Courtney.




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DEMON INHIBITIONS by Gary Starta_Review

Demon InhibitionsDemon Inhibitions by Gary Starta

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reposting, as the author has newly republished this novel.

The author provided me with a review copy -in exchange for my fair, honest, and authentic review.


Review of Demon Inhibitions by Gary Starta

4 Stars

A delightfully engrossing novel with much more than a hint of paranormal, “Demon Inhibitions” proved to be much more than I expected, and happily so. I enjoyed the book, but a few of the characters I found myself wanting to shake senseless; amazing our protagonist put up with them! Guess that’s what makes for tension in fiction, though, and makes it more believable-certainly in real life everyone doesn’t mesh smoothly. My irritation stems from these individuals’ desire to hold their cards close and not reveal too much, in effect tricking protagonist Caitlin into situations that might otherwise have been potentially avoidable.

Author Gary Starta weaves multiple sub-genres into this story, including paranormal (witches-demons-off in the backstage, lycans and vamps) and science fiction (parallel universes, doppelgangers, alternate dimensions), plus mystery-but keeps it all balanced as he juggles several subplots and many characters. I appreciated the novel’s revelation of bigotry as rooted in the human condition-as characters in the alternate reality both experience and discover, bigotry simply means denigration of any other group-including divergent species (including, in this case, demons).




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Monday, August 20, 2012

MYTH WEAVER by David J. Normoyle_Review

Myth WeaverMyth Weaver by David J. Normoyle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This review is based upon a copy provided to me by the author on July 29, 2012, in exchange for my fair, honest, and impartial review, via Goodreads Group Making Connections.


Review of Myth Weaver by David Normoyle

A lovely and lyrical reader’s hook and an endearing protagonist, pathologically shy but yet quite brilliant, commences an intriguing story line. I would judge the protagonist, Jagger, as being autistic yet functional (if he wished to be, that is). He very much lives “inside his head,” in the dream worlds that he imagines and delineates-first, managing a fictional soccer team, then later, after being shunted from his University Creative Writing & Literature program to Mythology-where he’s not wanted, either-he finds himself on the field witnessing Zeus and Odin battle it out. Clearly Jagger has a high intelligence level, but he disdains what his high-powered executive guardian terms “the realwhirl,” and I think if he could, he would ask to leave the real world entirely and just remain permanently inside his mind.
Author David Normoyle draws Jagger so sympathetically, yet makes clear the contrast between how we, the readers, see him-and the view of others who surround him. To us, he has a vivid imaginative life-is sometimes well-read, and is able to think and plan. To others, though, Jagger is practically a “dunce,” never answering, avoiding eye contact, not speaking even when addressed.
I’ve also very much appreciated the author’s clever and well-delineated rendering of the Norse and Greek myths and deity figures, and the way in which he has given mythology a solid foundation by applying it to Jagger’s life, via the discussions and narratives of the gods.
I can well recommend this book for YA readers and adults-it’s well-written, good reading-and encouraging, not to mention the education in myths we glean throughout the story. Mr. Normoyle brings to clarity the legends of both Ancient Greece and of Norse mythology.

This copy was provided to me by the author, David Normoyle, via Goodreads Group Making Connections-YA Edition, in exchange for my agreement to provide a fair, honest, and authentic review.




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Saturday, August 18, 2012

THE GIRL (SOUTHERN HAUNTINGS SAGA #2) by Bryan Hall_Review

The Girl (The Southern Hauntings Saga)The Girl by Bryan Hall

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The publisher, Angelic Knight Publishing, provided me with a copy in exchange for my fair, honest, and impartial review of this book.


Review of The Girl (The Southern Hauntings Saga #2) by Bryan Hall

Author Bryan Hall distinguishes himself in this series for making a ghost story much more than just a temporary scare. Mr. Hall’s ghosts are terrifying, yes (especially this one!) but more than that, they are individuals with issues, hidden agendas, and purposes. Itinerant ghost-handler (he’s not a psychic, he’s not a medium, he just helps folks who have hauntings-he’ll tell you) Creighton Northgate (Crate) stops off in a mountain hollow near Gatlinburg, Tennessee, called on by the father of two daughters. Tom lost his younger daughter in the summer, and she hasn’t been found. Her mother claims she’s a runaway, her older sister Angie won’t talk about her, but Tom has “seen” her at the edge of the woods, repeatedly. Crate sees her too, and now that Crate’s at her home, young Amy becomes much more intent-and Crate’s determined to find out the truth, despite angry mountain dwellers and the shifting allegiances and uncertainties in Amy’s household.

Even if a reader doesn’t find ghost stories appealing, Bryan Hall’s Southern Hauntings Saga is a must-read series!




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THE VAGRANT (SOUTHERN HAUNTINGS SAGA #1) by Bryan Hall_Review

The Vagrant (Southern Hauntings Saga)The Vagrant by Bryan Hall

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Review of The Vagrant (The Southern Hauntings Saga #1) by Bryan Hall
Published by Angelic Knight Publishing

“The Vagrant” is a winner undoubtedly, a thought-provoking novelette that introduces author Bryan Hall’s “The Southern Hauntings Saga” with a rip-roaring initial entry. This story carries a depth of philosophical content not always available in a ghost story-and of course, is both more and less as well as beyond, a simple story of haunting. Questions such as: what constitutes victimization? When is a person making her or his own choice, or being victimized? Who carries the instrument of vengeance, the living or the dead? What is the proper moral response to the victimization of a loved one?

Creighton Northgate grew up in the Appalachian Mountain region of North Carolina, son of strict fundamentalists whose narrow-minded viewpoint results in Crate’s expulsion from the family after older brother Martin disappears and presumed dead. The problem is that Crate sees Martin-every night-but that’s not acceptable in a rigidly religious household like the senior Northgates. So young Crate takes to the road, living an itinerant life in which he disclaims psychic abilities and instead “helps” those who are subject to hauntings. On his way to a new client, Crate stops at a gas station and finds two men, one a homeless unhappy drifter, one a ghost. Crate’s empathy gets the best of him, and then the “fun” begins-for this ghost is much more than he seems, and Ed the drifter is hiding major secrets.




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THE ROAD OF THINGS TO COME by Benson Phillip Lott_Review

The Road of Things to ComeThe Road of Things to Come by Benson Phillip Lott

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This review is based on a copy provided to me by the publisher, Untreed Reads, on August 2, 2012, in exchange for my fair, honest, and impartial review, via Goodreads Group Making Connections.


Review of The Road of Things to Come by Benson Phillip Lott

Scary, scary, scary. That thought runs through my mind from the first page of this story to the last. Not just that-in my sleepless mode last night, I couldn’t help reprising this story-and still thinking, “Scary. Scary. Scary.” This is true psychological horror-who needs splatterpunk-this novella stood my hair on end from first word to last word. Think Henry James in “Turn of the Screw.” Think Saki in “The Open Window.” Then think “The Road of Things to Come.” Get it-read it-get scared-stay scared. What a story!
Complex, riveting, frightening-and maybe even possible! Highly recommended.




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A CARTOGRAPHIC ANALYSIS OF THE DREAM STATE by Pat Murphy_Review

A Cartographic Analysis of the Dream StateA Cartographic Analysis of the Dream State by Pat Murphy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This review is based on the copy provided to me by the publisher, Untreed Reads, on July 30, 2012, in exchange for my fair, honest, and impartial review, via Goodreads Group Making Connections.


Review of A Cartographic Analysis of the Dream State by Pat Murphy
5 Stars

A literate and lyrical exploration of the polar cap of the planet Mars, of the art and science of cartography (map-making) and of the human psyche and its capacity for imaginative dreaming and projection, “A Cartographic Analysis of the Dream State” simultaneously intrigues and soothes, leaving readers blinking at the end and wondering why it is over so soon.

Sita, a cartographer of the Martian landscape, is the descendant of Tibetan refugees, raised in India by a university-educated father, but she holds close the stories and legends passed on of the great-grandfather, a mountain guide in Tibet, who led expeditions on searches for the yeti-the snow creature sometimes called “the abominable snowman.” Sita believes yeti are real, not so much as they are pictured, but as inhabitants of the dreaming state, nocturnal messengers; and she believes the polar regions of Mars are just as likely to sport yeti as are the Himalayas of Tibet, if she dreams them into being-and just maybe, she will be proved accurate in thinking so.




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BLOOD MERCURY by Malachi King_Review

Blood MercuryBlood Mercury by Malachi King

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This review is based on a copy provided to me by the publisher, Untreed Reads, on July 30, 2012, in exchange for my fair, honest, and impartial review, via Goodreads Group Making Connections.


Review of Blood Mercury by Malachi King

5 stars

This novella contains so much more than its length might imply, more than I expected. To begin with I experienced sadness on behalf of the characters, empathy, and sympathy. Soon I passed into a stage of dystopian despair, thinking “oh, I can see how contemporary society could devolve into this, and oh I sure hope and pray it does not.” But before the end, I found hope-hope in the characters, hope that someone could anchor in moral uprightness and “do the right thing.” That is what the story left me with: hope. I also hope-that there will be sequels. I really hope to find out how the lead characters come out.




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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

PEACE BLOG TOUR AUGUST 2012

Some pertinent quotes I've found to keep close to my heart, a heart for peace:

Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.
Albert Einstein


Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.
Buddha


I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.
Martin Luther King, Jr.


If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.
Mahatma Gandhi

When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.
Jimi Hendrix


The Peace Blog Tour has been inspired by author M.C.V. Egan, whose novel THE BRIDGE OF DEATHS commemmorates the plane crash on August 15, 1939, in Danish waters of an English plane. My review: THE BRIDGE OF DEATHS

THE BRIDGE OF DEATHS by M.C.V. Egan_Review

The Bridge of DeathsThe Bridge of Deaths by M.C.V. Egan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



The author, M. C. V. Egan, is very forthright in explaining that she is not any expert on world history of the period she relates; in fact, she says that when she began her quest to discover events she knew very little of that era. So as readers we are reassured that the author is not spouting regurgitated history texts, but fictionalizing her own experiences and discoveries. She has no hidden agenda here, no goals except discovery. Instead she is forthright, sharing her explorations and their results with us, her readers. I enjoyed the manner in which she made of herself a character, sharing her actual quests and discoveries and setbacks, just as the fictional characters express their lives throughout the story.

I fell in love with the characters each from their first introduction. Although Ms. Egan uses quite a bit of narrative in introducing them, it’s neither boring nor unsubstantiated, for within the narrative she includes dialogue (running in the background, as it were) and a substantial amount of action. She draws her characters in such a way that they are immediately understandable, and the reader easily relates and empathises. The author also has a very clever mode of relating her characters and their events to a background of actual world history in their particular era, which makes the book seem down-to-earth even in the midst of a metaphysical discussion.

She mentions in one spot “the most extraordinary feeling of comfort in simply being with her,” and this is the experience I have of “The Bridge of Deaths.” I am reminded of all those wonderful books I’ve read in which I feel as if I have just settled into a comfy armchair beside a roaring fireplace-I can relax, enjoy, and relate to the adventures in the novel as an “Armchair Traveler.” This novel made me feel safe and warm, even while exploring the question of past lives, hypnotic regression, and the effects past life events and encounters have on our present and future.

This novel is fascinating: it has intrigue, romance, love that bridges lifetimes, soul mates, history, mystery, the thrills of the unexpected, philosophy, Spirituality, and metaphysics. It is a warm, cozy, comforting story, with the conviction running throughout that there is an Answer-and answers-if we can just persevere to find out. I eagerly await further novels from this special author. I know in the meantime I will be rereading “The Bridge of Deaths” just for the sheer pleasure it brings me.




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GUEST POST by Author MIKE EVERS_GMTA Publishing

Today's Guest Post is by GMTA Publishing prolific author, Mike Evers, whose most recent novel, Campaign of the Gods, released this month. My review link is below.


Vikings, Norse Mythology and Campaign of the Gods

My name is Mike Evers and I’m honoured that Mallory has given me an opportunity to talk about my brand new novella on her excellent blog. My new book is called Campaign of the Gods and it is the second story in a collection of work I plan to call The Hopfield Tales. The first story is called The Spirit Archer, and both have been published by the wonderful GMTA Publishing.

Perhaps my main motivation for writing these urban fantasy tales is that I have a toddler son and I’m imagining what I think he’d like to read when he’s about 12-years-old. The stories feature characters who are medieval soldiers, Viking berserkers, Norse gods etc. Real boys’ stuff, I suppose. I’m trying to imaging what I’d like to read if I was that age. I’m attracted to the idea of magic and wonder in the world around us, and seeing that I live in Yorkshire I am applying actual local history, legends and locations to my stories. For Spirit Archer there is the very real location of Robin Hood’s grave in the ruins of a nunnery near my home. Norse mythology is a rich seam to mine for urban fantasy and, like with Spirit Archer, I’m trying to bring new angles to the subject matter.

For Campaign, there is the fact that Vikings did live in Yorkshire hundreds of years ago, and the main hero, Ivar Ragnarsson, is a Norse commander who changed history in England over a thousand years ago. At one time England was divided into an Anglo-Saxon half (the south) and a Danish (Viking) half, which was the north part, including Yorkshire. In the north of England a lot of the dialect and place names have a Scandinavian influence. Towns ending in –by or -thorpe, for example, are Norse in origin (Whitby, Grimsby, Scunthorpe...). Furthermore, some words are used in spoken northern-English dialect, such as the word ‘beck’ for river and ‘scran’ for a bite to eat. That’s not even including the huge number of every day English words used throughout the world today that are Viking in origin e.g. sister, window, happy – the list is endless.

Most of the Vikings who lived in Britain were a peaceful bunch. They were farmers, town dwellers and craftsmen – everyday people. You could say they were simply settlers from Denmark and Norway who integrated fairly easily into the population. But, everyone is more fascinated with the Viking raiders and warriors. We would be, wouldn’t we? Despite the fact they caused all sorts of misery and carnage when they decided to loot and plunder Merrie Olde England. Ivar Ragnarsson and the Great Heathen Army were not Vikings of the early raider type, but were part of a later, major force of Viking who invaded Britain and Europe and shaped medieval history and politics in a big way. For me they are perfect candidates for my story. And they are not the villains of the piece, they are the heroes.

The world of Norse people was a world before science and enlightenment. Their beliefs were shaped and augmented by a pantheon of gods and goddesses, who helped explain and govern the world around them – from fertility, plants and crops, through to love, prudence and anger, amongst countless other things. The gods gave meaning to their life and put it in a context of past, present and future. Norse mythology helped bring light to a life full of unexplainables (e.g. thunder and lightning) and pointed the way to an afterlife. It became part of the English way of looking at things and the Norse gods worked their way into the language. Tuesday is derived from an anglicised version of the Norse God of Battle, Tyr (Tyr or Tiw’s day); Wednesday is derived from Odin (Wotan’s day); and Thursday is the day of Thor.

So, when writing a story about Vikings, Norse mythology offers a fascinating and rich body of characters and legends to work with. Tyr, Thor and the others provide the reason why events in Campaign of the Gods are happening and help show us the world that Ivar and his men belong to. And for me it is wonderful to write about them. My Thor is not the awesome warrior god that we know about – he is the leisurely, over-indulgent Thor that sits in his palace playing, feasting and drinking when he’s not off slaying trolls and giants. My gods are all-powerful, but prone to misjudgements and emotions. I hope you warm to them.

I could ramble on for hours about Vikings and Norse mythology, but I guess it’s time to tie it up. I like to inject a bit of history to my stories (I have a degree in History) and there is quite often a message which I hope my young son will take on board - be it being decent, working-hard or the value of self-sacrifice. Finally, I just have to say I love legends and mythology. If I could have my way, I’d be living in a Britain that still had vast ancient forests, swirling mists and mischievous fairies – but that wouldn’t be very practical, would it?

My debut novel is also out on Amazon. It’s called The Chaosifier.

Thanks again, Mallory.





You can read my review of Campaign of the Gods

EIGHT MILE ISLAND by Tony Talbot_Review

Eight Mile IslandEight Mile Island by Tony Talbot

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Review of EightMile Island by Tony Talbot
5 Stars

A new super-stunner from prolific and excellent YA author Tony Talbot, “Eight Mile Island” kept me on the edge throughout, with its intricate interweaving of cutting-edge scientific experimentation and paranormal elements, realistic characters, isolated (even spooky) locale, beautiful setting, and 1000-mile-an-hour plotting. I could not put this novel down until I’d finished it, and once I’d reach the denouement and thought, “Well-so it’s over,” I had more surprises. Absolutely loved this story.

Genius-level intellect Dylan James possesses some useful skills: hacking computer databases, an eidetic memory, and escaping boarding schools. He won’t find escaping so easy now, on Eight Mile Island, an isolated locale off the Oregon coast, with an abandoned lighthouse at one end, and an equally abandoned former nuclear-era bunker underneath the surface. Advanced placement courses aren’t sufficient to keep Dylan’s interest, nor assuage his continuing rage over the death of his father-and the nightmares and other bizarre events, in the forest and in his own mind, as well as the mysteries of the other students, the administration and faculty, and whoever lurks in those woods.

I highly recommend this exciting story, for both YA readers and adults.

Reviewed for Goodreads Group Making Connections YA Edition, copy received from the author Tony Talbot, in return for my fair and impartial review.



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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

RIVALS AND RETRIBUTIONS (13 TO LIFE #5) by Shannon Delany_Review

Rivals and Retribution (13 to Life, #5)Rivals and Retribution by Shannon Delany

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Author Shannon Delany is a lyrical delight, and none of her “13 to Life” series ever disappoint. “Rivals and Retributions” is no exception-and I am delighted to once again make my acquaintance with Ms. Delany’s lyrical writing and intense understanding of character. The author juggles quite a number of themes and plot situations and ever-mutable characters, and not only does she manage to keep them straight-she aligns them properly for the reader as well, so that there’s never any confusion, only a gentle unraveling of mysteries (usually accompanied by even more mysteries which keep the reader both guessing and enthralled). Not every author of YA fiction can peer beneath the surface of her young characters with the same ability which Shannon Delany demonstrates; and the protagonists, and secondary characters, in her novels immediately become our friends-in some cases, our “enemies,” because the enemy of our friend is our enemy. There is a wonderful three-dimensional rendering of character which Ms. Delany applies, giving a depth to her individuals not found everywhere-in YA or adult fiction.
Since this is a series, I don’t want to give away any plot. Suffice it to say that the characters of the earlier books who have enraptured readers-Jessie, Pietr, Amy, Sarah, and Jessie’s beloved horse Rio-continue here, delighting readers with their return. If you haven’t read the earlier books in the series, this one can function as a stand-alone, but take it from me, do yourself an immense favour, and read the entire series! You’ll always be glad you did, and never regret it.

Review copy was provided to me by the author's publicist in exchange for my fair and honest advance review.



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THE ARCHIVED by Victoria Schwab_Review

Advance Review:


The Archived (The Archived, #1)The Archived by Victoria Schwab

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A delightful fantasy/paranormal, about our world with the addition of The Archives, a tremendous Library where not the deceased themselves, but their Histories, are shelved, and accessible by the Librarians. Keepers are those who live outside the Library (in our “real” world) and track down the dead who try to escape; Crews are pairs of Keepers. MacKenzie’s Bishop beloved grandfather (“Da”) was a Keeper, and trained her to be one, even though she was four years too young at the time of his imminent demise. When the Bishop family move into the Coronado, a former glamour hotel converted in the 1940’s to apartments (and then “disappearing” from notice), MacKenzie discovers how much history one building can hold-and she also learns that now she is not alone, despite the sudden loss of younger brother Ben a year earlier, and its deleterious effects on her parents.

I’m sure that YA and MG readers will delight in this book; I certainly did, and am way past those ages. I eagerly anticipate the next in the series. Author Victoria Schwab has a lyrical and poetic touch; she takes each reader gently by the hand and walks us through a world that ought to seem strange, but is yet familiar.


I received this review copy from the publisher, Disney/Hyperion, via NetGalley.com.



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SUPER SPIES AND THE HIGH SCHOOL BOMBER by Lisa Orchard (SUPER SPIES #2)_Review

The Super Spies and the High School Bomber (Super Spies #2)The Super Spies and the High School Bomber by Lisa Orchard

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Review of Super Spies and the High School Bomber
By Lisa Orchard
9781621350637
http://blogspot.us5.list-manage1.com/...

In this second entry in the “Super Spies” YA series, sequel to “Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer,” sisters Sarah and Lacey Cole, grieving their parents’ recent disappearance, supposedly on a cruise ship off Florida, find they have even more trouble. Living with their aunt and uncle, the new school year is about to begin, when the high school is bombed during a faculty meeting, and their Uncle Walt is one of the missing. Together with Lacey’s heartthrob Scott, son of the city’s Chief of Police, and Sarah’s best friend Jackie, the “Super Spies” four go into action, chasing the bombers, looking for the mysterious fireman who warned them away and then disappeared into the woods, and enlisting the FBI agents on site to find the bomber AND triangulate their parents’ cell phones to discover their last location before they went missing. There’s not a dull moment in this clean YA novel (no profanity, no overt sensuality), just tons of action, adventure, good fashion sense, sibling rivalry and sibling attachment, good friends-and a very cooperative local police department and FBI. I think even slightly younger readers (i.e., middle graders) could enjoy this one too, as it reminds me of the original Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries, with strong heroines who are feisty and plucky and never back down. I anticipate the next in the series.





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DARK EARTH by Jason Halstead_Review

Dark EarthDark Earth by Jason Halstead

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Review of Dark Earth by Jason Halstead
Reviewed for Freebookdude.com for August 13 2012
5 Stars

A fascinating novel, “Dark Earth” had me riveted from the first sentences. A winning and delectable combination of contemporary culture, intense familial bonding, magic, superstition, high fantasy, and sword-and-sorcery-along with parallel dimensions and dimensional portals-“Dark Earth” will satisfy almost any readers looking for a story that will entrance and compel. Author Jason Halstead doesn’t scruple to do some philosophical and moral questioning, either, as protagonist Eric Baxter, single father of a now thirteen-year-old witchy daughter (and I mean that in quite the literal sense), struggles to make sense of first, the attacks on his daughter and himself by humans, and then by an oversize, over-powerful wolf. If that isn’t bizarre enough, he discovers that, well, fairy tales really do come true-good or bad.

Strong characters, great description, and exciting adventure make this a compelling novel that will encourage readers to be eager for a sequel.




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GUEST POST by Author Brian D. Anderson_Author of THE GODLING CHRONICLES








HOW THE FANTASY GENRE READERS HAVE CHANGED AND CREATING STRONG FEMALE CHARACTERS
(BY BRIAN D. ANDERSON)



When I was young, I was enthralled by Tolkien, mystified by Asimov, and captivated by Jordan. But back then, the fan base of that particular genre was male dominated. You could peruse the sci-fi/fantasy section of your local bookstore, and scarcely bump onto a member of the opposite sex; which was too bad really, considering I was at the age when the opposite sex was all I could think about. Today, things are much different.

When I looked at my own fan base recently, I noticed that well over half were female, and many were avid fantasy readers. At first I didn't give it much thought. Then I received a comment regarding the female characters in my book, and I began ponder it a bit more. A young lady who stumbled upon my work online wrote me that she loved how strong the women in my book were, and that it made her want to read more fantasy. As pleased as this made me, it was not something I had done intentionally. Though I have never been a fan of the “damsel in distress”, and have always felt it detracted from an overall storyline, it is not the reason I wrote Kaylia, Dina, Maybell, or even Salmitaya, the way I did. The truth is; weak characters, male or female, are not very interesting to me, and unless needed as part of the story, are not worth writing about. Though The Godling Chronicles is a fantasy series, it is not driven by the fantasy aspect. It is driven by the characters.

Kaylia, an elf, is deadly yet sensitive. Her enigmatic past and strong convictions have caused her to become an outcast. As her exposure to human’s increases, she is forced to re-evaluate everything she once held as true.

Dina, (I can't reveal too much about her. It would ruin the story for you), though not a warrior, is resourceful and courageous. Her dedication and determination makes her a force to be reckoned with.

Maybell, though at first thought to be soft and weak, shows that her heart is true and her wisdom vast. She is capable in ways that makes her an invaluable asset.

Salmitaya...well you're just going to have to find out about her yourself.

That more fantasy writers are cluing in to the fact that weak female characters are neither appealing or interesting, has made fantasy more accessible to women, thereby creating an entirely new generation of fantasy lover. I am happy to have contributed to this, and am thrilled that my work appeals to such a broad audience. I intend to keep working hard to make the series exciting, and I'm looking forward to sharing this world of Gods, humans, elves, and other fantastical creatures, with readers of all ages and genders.



AUTHOR BIO’S

Brian D. Anderson was born in 1971, and grew up in the small town of Spanish Fort, A. He attended Fairhope High, then later Springhill College where his love for fantasy grew into a lifelong obsession. His hobbies include chess, history, and spending time with his son.
Jonathan Anderson was born in March of 2003. His creative spirit became evident by the age of three when he told his first original story. In 2010 he came up with the concept for The Godling Chronicles that grew into an exciting collaboration between father and son. Jonathan enjoys sports, chess, music, games, and of course, telling stories.

THE GODLING CHRONICLES (BOOK ONE): THE SWORD OF TRUTH
It has been five hundred years since the Great War between Elf and Human ripped the world apart, and the Dark Knight of Angrääl has stolen the Sword of Truth. With it, he has trapped the Gods in heaven. If left unchallenged he will kill the Gods and reshape the world into an unimaginable hell. The only hope for all of creation is a boy named Gewey Stedding, the only being born from the union of two Gods. Aided by Lee Starfinder, the son of Saraf, God of the Sea, and a mortal woman, he must discover the true nature of his power. However, this will not be easy. He is bound to the earth a mortal man, and in many ways is very human. When Kaylia, a young elf woman, joins their party, Gewey discovers that perils of the heart can be as treacherous as any sword. Gewey, Lee, Kaylia and other friends they meet on their journey, must battle the Dark Knight, find a way to heal the hatred between elf and man, and restore heaven itself.

“THE GODLING CHRONICLES (BOOK ONE)” BUY LINKS:
AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/The-Godling-Chronicles-Sword-ebook/dp/B008WA4ZQA/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1344718323&sr=8-3&keywords=the+godling+chronicles
CREATESPACE: https://www.createspace.com/3960958

BRIAN D. ANDERSON’S LINKS:

Brian’s Author Page: http://www.greatmindsindependentpublishing.com/#/brian-anderson/4566993174
Brian’s Blog: http://briandanderson.blogspot.com/
Brian’s Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/brian.anderson.39750
Brian’s Twitter: @GodlingChron
Brian’s Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/TheGodlingChronicles

Monday, August 13, 2012

THE HERMITAGE HOUSE MIRACLE by Malcom Ater_Review

The Hermitage House MiracleThe Hermitage House Miracle by Malcolm Ater

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Review of The Hermitage House Miracle by Malcolm Ater

Reviewed via NetGalley.com

“The Hermitage House Miracle” is an appealing mystery, aimed at middle-grade readers, but enticing to adults as well. A young boy, twelve years old, loses the woman he knows as “mother” in a one-vehicle driving-intoxicated accident, shortly after she flings accusations at him while simultaneously promising she loves him. Jamie cannot understand why she claims to have spent “six years” of his life dealing with him, when he knows he is twelve. Since there seems to be no other next of kin, and no records earlier than Jamie’s first day of first grade, social workers bring him to the Hermitage House for Children, once a bustling, thriving, orphanage, now nearly condemned and soon to close if a miracle of funding and renovation doesn’t take place.

A heartwarming and touching novel, “The Hermitage House Miracle” explores issues that in other hands could inspire despair, fear, and resignation. Here, though, a thread of hope runs consistently, inspired by empathetic characters, most of whom spend their lives trying diligently to do what is right as they perceive it. Readers will be immediately caught up with Jamie, who has had such an incredible life, yet who is a good and decent individual despite all.




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VENGEANCE OF THE WOLF by Solitaire Parke_Review

Vengeance of the WolfVengeance of the Wolf by Solitaire Parke

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


“Vengeance of the Wolf” is a terrifically lyrical book, with vivid imagery which makes the reader feel both part of the scene, and in tune with the characters. The Paranormal elements and the intrinsic mystery are capably interwoven, keeping the reader riveted, anxious to find out what’s next. A seemingly implacable force of doom is destroying politicians in office, yet doing so in a method that seems physically and medically impossible. Yet, like a juggernaut, the killer continues, hopscotching from one U.S. locale to another, seemingly without rhyme or reason, at least none apparent to the local law enforcement communities, nor to the F.B.I. agent in charge of this multi-state case.

I especially liked the escalation of the Paranormal elements, beginning with what might be possible and moving on to become both deeper and more extensive. Of course, any mystery that so baffles law enforcement (think Jack the Ripper) is going to be conducive to reader enjoyment, because we know that eventually we’ll find out the facts, whether the police agencies do so or not.

This is a novel that will engross readers of many different genres, and I highly recommend it and anticipate more from author Solitaire Parke.






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PARTIALS by Dan Wells (PARTIALS #1)_Review

Partials (Partials, #1)Partials by Dan Wells

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Review of Partials by Dan Wells

I read this 468 page novel in one afternoon/evening, because I was not going to sleep until I finished it! Usually I can only manage that speed with a Cassandra Clare novel. “Partials” is a totally fantastic, engrossing, Dystopian, futuristic, realistic, novel. Set in 2076, eleven years after the war in which the genetically-engineered “perfect soldiers” termed Partials nearly eradicated humanity (leaving approximately 40,000 in the U.S., all hiding out on Long Island, N.Y.) society is well-tyrannical and fascistic. Living in constant fear of another Partial attack from the mainland former U.S., and under consistent attack by a rebel group which terms itself “the Voice,” survivors move on as best they can, with a past, a present, and no future. The RM virus, which has always been attributed to the Partials, destroyed almost all of humanity except for the 40,000 or so who demonstrated immunity-yet the survivors are carriers, no infant has survived in eleven years, pregnancy is mandatory, and eleven years of research have not saved any infant.

This novel is so riveting that I am thankful there will be sequels. In fact, a “prequel” will be published August 28, explaining the Isolation War, for which the Partials had initially been engineered, and a sequel will be published in February. (Too long away, in my opinion!) Author Dan Wells has a special touch; it can’t be easy for an author to pen a dystopian novel, especially one in which the survivors literally have no future, no hope of progeny, and keep the reader from falling into deep despair (which happens, for me, with many entries in the dystopian genre.)

This review is based on a Library edition.




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JOCELYNN DRAKE_GUEST POST

Today I am very happy to host a Guest Post by author Jocelynn Drake, in which she interviews Trixie, one of her stunning characters from The Asylum Tales:




Trixie Interview
By Jocelynn Drake


As the stories for The Asylum Tales started hitting e-readers and shelves, I found myself traveling back to Low Town for a meeting with Trixie Ravenwood. Gage hired the tattoo artist a couple years ago, completing the staff for the Asylum. This was only my second visit to Low Town (the first being a series of interviews I conducted to celebrate the release of The Asylum Interviews: Bronx), but I was feeling a little more at ease in this strange city overflowing with shifters, trolls, vampires, sirens, elves, and warlocks. I think it helped that it was just past noon rather than late at night for this visit.

Trixie agreed to meet me at Asylum a few hours before her shift started so that we could talk. The neighborhood that housed Asylum was relatively quiet as pedestrians wandered up and down the sidewalks as they headed to their various shops and restaurants in the area. For the most part, everyone looked human to me, but I knew that looks can so easily be deceiving here.

At the end of the block, Asylum sat in a small, old-fashioned two-story building with a large picture window. A soft chime echoed through the lobby as I pushed open the door. A blast of cold air hit me in the face, threatening to steal my breath away, but it was a welcome cold after baking out in the last of the summer heat. The wooden floors creaked under my feet as I stepped inside and closed the door. Puddle of Mudd was blasting through the speakers hidden about the shop, but I could still hear the steady buzz of a tattooing gun humming in the next room.

“Hey, Joce! Come on back!” Gage shouted from the next room and I smiled. The tattoo artist apparently saw me on the security monitor. I walked around the glass case that served as a counter at the back of the lobby and stepped into the main tattooing room. A tall, shirtless skinny man was stretched out along his side in the tattooing chair while Gage tattooed some script along the man’s ribs. Gage paused, lifting the tattooing gun as he looked up at me. “How’s it going? Trixie mentioned you’d be by today.”

“Everything’s good, though I could do without this heat,” I said, pushing a sweaty strand of hair out of my face.

Gage sighed. “We all could.”

“Trixie here?”

“Yeah, she just went upstairs to crank up the air conditioning. You remember the way?”

“I’ve got it.” Patting him on the shoulder as I walked past, I cut through the main tattooing room and headed down the hallway to the back room. I used the back door and stepped into the small open area behind the shop that led to another alley. Both Gage’s SUV and Trixie’s hybrid were parked out there. On my left, a set of wooden stairs lead to a second floor apartment. Gage had lived in it for the first year after opening Asylum, but had since moved out. He never bothered to rent it out because he preferred to hold private meetings in the apartment as well as crash there after a night of drinking.

At the top of the stairs, I knocked on the door before pushing it open. The warning was probably unnecessary since my footsteps weren’t exactly quiet on the way up. Trixie smiled at me as she stepped out of the kitchen with a couple of glasses. Her long brown hair is up in a pony tail, pulled away from her beautiful, heart-shaped face. She was in a pair of short shorts and a light blue tank top, revealing lots of tanned skin.

“Hey! Sorry about the heat. I just turned on the air conditioner,” she said as she handed me a glass of ice water.

I took a grateful sip before looking at the glass in confusion. “I thought Gage only kept plastic cups up here.”

Trixie sent me a rueful smile as she walked over to the sagging couch mended with silver duct tape. “Over the past year, we’ve started using the apartment more. Bronx brought a little TV in for Sofie and I’ve brought some extra kitchen items here as well as some towels for the shower. We’ve also left a spare change of clothes here.”

“Bronx too?”

Trixie nodded.

“Things been getting crazy?”

Her smile slipped a little. “It’s gotten quiet again, but we’re learning that it helps to be prepared.”

“I can understand that.” Sitting on the couch, I set my ice water on the table before reaching into my purse to pull out my digital recorder and a small notebook. “Thanks for meeting up with me. Gage’s novella about how you met is coming out on September 4 and I wanted to give readers a chance to meet you with an interview.”

“Not a problem. After everything that has happened during the past few years, I can understand why Gage wants to tell his story.”

Jocelynn: Let’s begin. When you met Gage you were new to Low Town, correct?

Trixie: Yes. I was living and working in the San Francisco area when I met Jo, who happened to be Gage’s ex-girlfriend. Her band had come to town for a few weeks and Jo and I hit it off. She told me all these stories about how great Low Town was. At the time, I was thinking about moving, but hadn’t decided on a place. Before Jo left San Fran, she told me she was heading back to Low Town and that I should come as well. (shrugs) It seemed like a pretty good idea so I did.

Jocelynn: And do you like living in Low Town?

Trixie: (smiles) Definitely. I’ve moved around a lot during my life, and Low Town has become one of my favorite places to live. It’s a nice, medium-sized city. It has everything you could want from a big city in terms of diversity, but there’s a lot of forest land around Low Town as well. If you’re in the mood for going to a night club, we’ve got it. If you want to go camping, there’s that too.

Jocelynn: I’m sure the company helps make it a nice place to live as well.

Trixie: (flashes me a wide, knowing grin) Yeah, there’re some cool people hanging about as well. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without Bronx and Gage. They are the best friends I’ve ever had.

Jocelynn: Let’s talk about work for a moment. I understand that you’ve been tattooing for a very long time. Is there one species that is harder to tattoo than others?

Trixie: It seems like every client has the potential to be … entertaining. I’d have to say that vampires are consistently problematic. It’s very rare one will come in for a tattoo. They quickly heal from everything, so the ink doesn’t always take. As a result, you have to put garlic oil in the ink. That, of course, causes a lot of screaming and squirming in the seat. Most tattoo artist won’t tattoo a vampire because it’s dangerous. The best to tattoo are always the shifter, though it usually requires a lot of shaving. They tend to have a high pain threshold, clear skin, and fast healing that doesn’t reject the ink.

Jocelynn: Are there any types of tattoos that you’re tired of doing?

Trixie: Good luck. I am so sick of tattooing shamrocks and horseshoes. Everyone wants good luck, but the kind of good luck everyone is expecting is extremely rare and damn expensive. Most people don’t understand how good luck works either. Sometimes bad things happen, but it works out for the best in the long term, which can be good luck. People only focus on the short term. Also, the good luck potions never last long. I just think that luck is one of those things that you shouldn’t mess with.

Jocelynn: Are there any potions or tattoos you wish you did see more of?

Trixie: I know it’s going to sound strange, but there’s an awareness potion that I wish people used. It’s a small thing, but it helps to enhance a person’s awareness of their surroundings. People get so caught up in their little electronic gadgets and personal problems that they get distracted. The awareness potion would help reduce car accidents and other potentially fatal mistakes by making people more aware of what they are doing. Unfortunately, most people don’t know about the potion, don’t consider how helpful it would be. You don’t need to be lucky if you’re just aware of the opportunities around you.

Jocelynn: Switching gears just a little. It is my understanding that the first time you met Gage was in an attempt to help his ex-girlfriend. What was your first impression of him?

Trixie: Gage? I thought he was an arrogant, condescending, self-absorbed, insensitive asshole.

Jocelynn: And now that you’ve known him for a couple of years, what do you think now?

Trixie: I think he’s an arrogant, condescending, self-absorbed, insensitive asshole. (big grin) No, I’m just teasing. He can definitely be arrogant at times and he’s still pretty good at being an asshole when he’s pissed about something. But he’s also pretty damn smart, sneaky, and frighteningly talented when it comes to stirring potions and inking. He cares a lot about his friends. He’ll do whatever he can to help a friend in need, no matter what it costs him. I count myself very lucky to know him.

Jocelynn: Yes, but knowing Gage has also brought a lot of danger into your life.

Trixie: True, but the joy I get from being his friend far outweighs the danger.

Jocelynn: After that first meeting, did you expect you’d be working for him? And for this long?

Trixie: No! (laughs) After that first interview, I didn’t like being in the same room as him. I never thought I would work for him and definitely not for this long.

Jocelynn: You said that you’ve moved around a lot. Do you think you’ll be staying in Low Town for much longer or are you getting ready to move again?

Trixie: I think I’m going to be staying for a while. It seems that I have more reasons to stay in one place for once and no reason to leave. I’m even considering buying a house.

Jocelynn: Well, I’m sure that Bronx and Gage would be happy to hear that you’re considering a more permanent home while you’re in Low Town. Do you have any advice for a person thinking about visiting Low Town for the first time?

Trixie: Do your research before you come to the city. Make a list of the things you want to do and see. Come with a plan and be organized. There’s a lot to see and do here, but with so many different peoples, you have to be prepared or you’re going to waste all your time in meetings and filling out paperwork rather than enjoying the sights. Oh, and don’t piss off the werewolves. Jack’s been really cranky since his last run-in with Gage.

I laughed as I reached for my digital recorder. “Thanks for the advice,” I said as I turned off the device and stowed it in my purse along with my little notebook. “I’ve recently been tempted to ask Gage for a story about Jack, but he’s been grumpy with me since we finished the last book.”

Trixie’s grin faded before my eyes and she looked worried for the first time since I had come into the apartment. “Yeah, I get the impression that things didn’t end well. There’s things he’s not telling me.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, wishing I could say more. It wasn’t my place. Gage needed to tell her what had happened to him.

Trixie forced a smile on her lips and nodded. “He’ll talk to me when he’s ready.”

I pushed to my feet and shouldered my purse again. “I should get going so you can get ready for work.”

“Okay, but will you be back for All Hallow’s Eve?”

I shook my head with a smile. “Not a chance. This place is strange enough already. I don’t think I’m ready for Halloween here.”

Trixie’s laughter followed me out the door as I headed back down to the parlor. Ducking back through the rear door, I returned to the main tattooing room only to find it empty. Gage was now seated on a stool behind the glass case as he fiddled with an MP3 player.

“Interview done?” he called.

“Yep.”

“Need to talk to me?”

“Nope. I think you need a break.”

“Good idea,” he said with a smirk as he looked at me over his shoulder. “But I’ve got some more stories to tell you … when we’re both ready.”

With a chuckle and a wave, I cut through the lobby and hit the street again, ready to leave Low Town and head home. It’s a nice place to visit, but with the warlock, witches, trolls, ogres, shifters, vampires, and heaven only know what else running around, I’m not ready to live there.


The Asylum Tales follows the adventures of warlock-turned-tattoo-artist Gage Powell and his friends Bronx and Trixie as they fight the Ivory Towers and try to stay alive in their dangerous world. If you’d like to read more about Gage’s adventures in Low Town, check out the first prequel novella The Asylum Interviews: Bronx. Gage’s story of how he met Trixie and helped his ex-girlfriend Jo is called The Asylum Interviews: Trixie and will be released as an e-book on Tuesday, September 4. The first full-length novel for The Asylum Tales series is called Angel’s Ink and will be released on Tuesday, October 16.



Jocelynn Drake’s bio:

Love comes in many varied forms. There is the love of family, love of country, and love of chocolate. But for Jocelynn Drake, one truly treasured love is the love of a good story. This Midwestern native spends the majority of her time lost in the strong embrace of a good book. When she’s not hammering away at her keyboard, frowning at her monitor, or curled up with a book, she can usually be found cuddling with her cats, Harley and Demona, walking her dog Max, or flinging curses at the TV while playing a video game. Outside of books, cats, and video games, she is completely enamored of Bruce Wayne, Ezio Auditore, travel, tattoos, explosions, fast cars, and Anthony Bourdain (but only when he’s feeling really cranky).





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