Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Once Upon a December Nightmare by Cherie Reich

Wild Child Publishing

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A chilling story of an urban legend dating back to the Civil War.

Four friends travel a seldom used back road in the middle of a cold December night on a joyride straight to hell. Two are sisters, two are boyfriend and girlfriend, and two are best friends. Only when the claws come out do we see where the loyalties lie.

Once Upon a December Nightmare is very scary. Reich plays upon what we all fear most: the unknown. She incorporates a neat dose of Civil War history, and creates her own urban legend. The characters are excellently done with well rounded back stories and secrets that lead them to their own brutal ends.

The imagery is stark and chilling with “brake lights” that “ bathe the trees in red” and a forest of trees that “lines the path like enemy soldiers”. Sounds are littered throughout deep silence like a great horror movie. The forest “cracks like a gun shot” and you hear the sound of “clothes ripping.”

Don’t read this story in the dark!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Grounded by Sandra Cox

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Class Act Books
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A Wonderfully Original Paranormal Romance

Gillian Stone is beautiful, rich, and trapped. One of her ancestors wished on a genie without thinking of consequences and she carries a heavy duty curse grounding her in a statue everyday. On top of that, if she gets pregnant with a girl, she will die in childbirth and her daughter will carry the curse on. That’s quite a dark harbinger in which to live a life.

Darth is a newly appointed servant at Gillian’s mansion. Although he’s got a chip on his shoulder and is rough around the edges, he’s handsome, charming, and tied to Gillian by fate. She rescued his sister from a bunch of thugs and he feels forever in her debt. He’s consumed with a desire to hunt these thugs down and make them pay, and to protect Gillian from their clutches. If Gillian is ever to be with Darth, she must confront the Detective bent on revenge and break the curse.

Grounded is a wonderfully original paranormal romance with two characters that have a whole bunch of chemistry and wit. Gillian is a kick butt heroine who rides a black Harley and has a soft spot for a unique talking cat, and Darth is a big sweety at heart who wants to set things right. On top of it all is one hilarious cat who steals the show with his internal dialog. I loved him the most of all!

Grounded is not only about Gillian being grounded in a statue, but about her finding a way to be grounded in life: a true modern day fairytale.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Starquest by Hywela Lyn

Book Info
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Genre: Space Opera, Sci fi, Romance
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Jess wakes up to disaster. Her ship is about to reach critical mass and everything in it will be destroyed. In a last minute escape, she is rescued by a mysterious Starship with telepaths assuring her she will be okay. As the starship pulls her escape pod in, she wonders if she walked right into a trap. Indeed the people aboard the ship will change the course of her life forever.

Starquest is a space adventure novel with a sweet romance at its core. A neat point of view switch to journal entries part way through is an effective technique and very originally done. The story has a flavor of political commentary much like that of Gulliver’s Travels as Jess finds her way through different planets and civilizations studying their societal structure and their theological ideals.

My heart went out to Jess as I read her plight through her own words. She suffers through torture, and meets so many dangerous creatures and evil beings in her journey. And she learns so much, not only about the universe, but about herself and the nature of love.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Troubled Hearts by Donna Hatch

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Book Info:
Genre: Romance, historical
Publisher: Wild Rose Press

Troubled Hearts by Donna Hatch

In an era where it was ruinous for a woman to leave her husband, Julia takes her chances and flees her stagnant marriage. To heighten the trouble, she is accompanied by her childhood friend who would rather abandon his job as head stable master to protect her.

Troubled Hearts is a highly emotional romantic tale told in a historical setting. Ms. Hatch instills deep emotions into her characters and provides excellent reasons behind them. Julia is plagued by the death of a stillborn child, and that event has brought a rift in her marriage. Can two hearts repair the damage done by the loss? The drama is intense throughout the short story, keeping me scrolling to the very last page.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Timestone Key by Pamela Hearon

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Book Info:
Genre: Romance, fantasy
Publisher: Lyrical Press

As a young child, Halley made a deal with Merlin by accepting a white feather from an owl visiting her room one night. Although she has no memory of the exchange, all her life she’s been drawn to King Arthur and unable to settle down and get married. Finally she decides to live out her dream and visit England for a trip back into the past. Torn between a mysterious vision of Arthur, a Manor Lord, and a doting finance, I read ahead eagerly to see which one she would end up with!

Ms. Hearon weaves history and an age old legend with a modern day fairytale. I’ve always dreamt of going back to the days of King Arthur and meeting all of the characters in the legends. By reading the Timestone key, I got to live out my fantasies through Halley and I learned more about King Arthur at the same time.

Sensual and spiritual, The Timestone Key is a wonderful journey of self realization that ends in pure bliss.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Firefly Beach by Meira Pentermann

Book Info:
Genre: Mystery, Commercial Fiction
Publisher: Lyrical Press
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After the death of her mother and a disappointing divorce, Beth moves to a small cottage in Maine to restart her life and pursue a dream she’d buried in her youth as an artist. She follows a firefly down to a secret beach and finds the journal of a teenage girl who disappeared years ago. Her story leads Beth on a journey that brings her into the pasts of all the townspeople. At first the young girl’s writing inspires her painting to new levels and then it challenges Beth to face her own past.

The details of Firefly Beach give Beth’s story meaning and make it come alive. Ms. Pentermann transports the reader to a cozy town on the breathtaking shores of Maine. As a New Englander myself, I can say her descriptions are spot on and vivid. Underneath all the beautiful description is a mystery that unravels slowly and powerfully. Her novel is about personal relationships and how people are shaped by their past and the decisions they’ve made throughout their lives.

I very much enjoyed sharing in Beth’s success as she overcame her past and her dream as an artist took shape. The townspeople were three dimensional, interesting characters with their own pasts and triumphs and tribulations. The story was a beautiful puzzle to put together and remained a mystery right up until the very last pages where it unwound in profound emotions and truths that came full circle. It was not the way I thought it would be, in fact, the ending pages were far more satisfying!

Firefly Beach is a soothing read that heals at the same time. I recommend it to anyone up for a good mystery and in need of a vacation in which to escape.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Ink in the Blood by Chandra Ryan

Book Info:
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Romance, Paranormal
Publisher: Lyrical Press
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Isabella has special abilities to change her appearance, but she’s going to need more than her magic to confront her past demons. After a stint in rehab, she’s back on the streets working for the DEA to find local drug sellers. She’s willing to face her past in order to seek revenge on her half brother who’s caused havoc in her life. What she doesn’t expect is falling in love with the human assigned to her brother’s case. Now she has to keep him alive while resisting temptation.

Ink in the Blood is a dark and edgy urban fantasy where potions and magic are considered deadlier weapons than hand guns. There’s a constant, lurking danger that stalks Isabella throughout the read, creating a suspenseful atmosphere that kept me scrolling down to read more. Her chemistry with the human, Jacob, is sizzling and well paced. Their love crosses the boundaries between Asura and human, and cop and former addict. They have a lot to overcome and the tension is palpable. I found myself wondering how Jacob will react to the truth of what she is and how the two of them can outsmart a man that can turn a normal woman insane.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Chompy by Ralph Piccolo

Book Info:
Genre: Children's, Fantasy
Publisher: Gypsy Shadow Publishing
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Anna is a vibrant little girl that likes to explore enchanted forests with her best friend, Mike. They have wonderful adventures with hide and seek underneath tall mushrooms and through thick trees. Mike is her “Dark Knight” of the Pentacle forest and she enjoys pretending to be a princess that he saves. Suddenly, Anna gets sick. Her only hope is a mythical creature hidden deep within the forest. Mike must journey by himself to prove that he truly is her knight and save her.

Chompy is a charming story told in the style and rhythm of an age old fairytale. Although it has magic and a furry little animal that squeaks, it is also very serious with a real life message for children and adults alike. I enjoyed reading about all of the details of the forest and my heart clenched for Anna as she was forced to eat only soup and take x rays at the doctor’s office. The ending left my heart shining.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Forest of Hand and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Book Info:
Genre: YA, Horror, Post Apocalyptic
Publisher: Delacorte Press

Mary lives in a secluded village surrounded by wire fences that keep out the Unconsecrated, an army of living dead. Ruled by the Sisterhood and the Guardians, the village may be the last one of its kind. Life is not about love and risk, but commitment and adherence to the policies dictated by the Sisterhood. Betrothed to a man she doesn’t love and tempted by her best friend’s intended, Mary has trouble believing in the Sisterhood’s rules. Even more, she craves what lies beyond the village walls, seduced by her mother’s tales of a vast ocean beyond the forest of hands and teeth.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth is gruesome and dark with love at its core. Set in a post apocalyptic society of religion and fear, the story draws on freedom verses imprisonment and predestination verses choice. Ryan weaves a complex web of passion, love, and jealousy. Filled with tension, strained relationships, and lots of teen angst drama, this tale is hard to put down. A great sense of irresolution keeps page after page turning at light speed. But if you want answers, this book is not for you. Written in a literary style with elegant prose and poignant descriptions, Ryan is more focused on the journey than the end result. Perhaps she will give us more answers in the second installment, The Dead-Tossed Waves.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Sidhe and the Dragon-Lost Jewel by SilverValkyre

Book Info:
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Gypsy Shadow Publishing
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Mahshon, the immortal prince of the elves, must protect the land from all things, including dragons. His duty brings him to faraway glens and lodges, ancient passes, and magical forests. Along the way he meets beautiful young women but only one lovely lady has captured his true heart. And that special woman is no where to be found. As he answers a tricky dragon riddle, he finally understands what she meant to him. But does his realization come too late?

SilverValkyre weaves an enchanting tale that flows like lyrics to a love ballade. Her prose is graceful and ornately decorated with rich description. Each word is a jewel to marvel at and savor. The story whisked me away to another land. I could almost feel the wind on my face and catch a glimpse of the ravishing elfish prince as he turned my way.

The Sidhe and the Dragon is an indulgence in magic and passion, a real treat to read.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Shades of Green by Rhonda Parrish

Book Info:
Genre: Fantasy/sci fi
Publisher: Sam's Dot Publishing
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Rescued by Reptars at a young age, Z’thandra is the last swamp elf of her kind. A cataclysmic event called the Curse rattled her land. The elves died of fever, and the Reptars’ technology and advanced society crumbled. Now all they have is a mystical stone, rumored to be a dragon’s egg that hovers in their council hall, their last ray of hope.

Z’thandra lives a life plagued by prejudice from her foster sister and the untrusting villagers in the Reptar council. Driven by ignorance, the Reptars are fierce and quick to condemn. After a chance meeting with a handsome human in the swamps surrounding her village, Z’thandra is faced with the decision of her life. Will she leave the only home she’s known and doom the Reptars to extinction, or will she suffer for their own sins and lead them to a better life?

Set in the fantasy world of Aphanasia, Shades of Green is a unique and unsettling tale of life after an apocalypse. The descriptions are exotic and fun to read, and I felt for Z’thandra’s plight throughout. Amongst all of the prejudice and hatred she is able to forgive, and that is truly heroic. The ending is unexpected and left me with much to think about. This is no fluffy fantasy tale, but a powerful and emotional journey with a profound message at the end.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Land of Entrapment by Andi Marquette

Book Info:
Genre: Detective/Adventure/Lesbian Fiction
To Purchase

This unique detective book is intensely emotional and hilariously witty while dealing with a serious subject that is severely overlooked in modern society. Neo-nazi’s are extremists bent on hating anyone that isn’t white, straight, or shares their same belief systems. Their actions are hurtful and violent, and they prey on innocent minds, recruiting the next wave of terror. Not only does Ms. Marquette deal with this subject in an eloquent and informational way, she shows the reader how someone as normal as we are can get sucked into their schemes. Ms Marquette presents a complex portrayal of seducement and brainwashing that is well researched and well conveyed, making for suspenseful reading.

K.C’s ex, Melissa, has lost her younger sister to a group of Neo Nazis. After a messy breakup and three years of silence, Melissa finds K.C. and pleads with her to help find her missing sister. Because of her research on extremist groups, K.C. agrees to travel to New Mexico and help her ex. What she doesn’t know is that this adventure will turn dangerous and bring her to dark places both physical and psychological, dealing with crazy people that will stop at nothing to have their warped views be heard.

Ms. Marquette’s characters are so real and three dimensional that sometimes I had to remind myself that it was fiction and I wasn’t reading an episode of Dateline NBC! K.C. felt like my own friend, trying to explain to me how she got stuck in a crazy situation. I loved reading about all of the detective work and the profound relationships that develop during the course of the novel. The descriptions convince me to visit New Mexico sometime for a vacation. I can almost taste the chili peppers on my tongue!

Ms. Marquette is a brilliant story teller with a strong voice and a message that everyone should hear. I look forward to reading more of her work.