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Friday, May 22, 2015

Book Review: Sense the Darkness (The Dark Series Book 2) by L A Wild

Sense the Darkness (The Dark Series Book 2)
by L A Wild

Kindle Edition, 305 pages
March 28th 2015
What if the most terrifying thing imaginable lived inside you? 

I’ve made a mistake. And it’s a big one. After my ex-best friend stabs me with my own blade then topples us both through the portal— leaving Glasgow overrun with ghouls and other evil creatures—I land in the middle of my worst nightmare. Burnt soil stretches out to my sides, my heels teeter on the edge of a sheer cliff that drops into nothingness, and a hoard of humans rush at me with spears and axes. I’m pretty sure they want my head on a pike.

Worse? Someone has tampered with my memories. How that’s possible, I have no clue. But if I had to guess, I’d say Black is behind it all. Tumultuous, deadly, our insane chemistry borders on explosive. If only he’d get rid of the goddess he’s been banging.
My life is nothing like it used to be. Somehow, it twisted into a sick mess of family secrets, my sister’s murderer, and a crumbling wall inside my mind, which sets a homicidal psychopath loose on the world.

It is recommended book one, Chance the Darkness, to be read prior to Sense the Darkness

Book 3 is scheduled for release July/Aug 2015

Sense the Darkness picks up where Chance the Darkness left us — high and dry. The cliff-hanger conclusion of book one demands the reader seize and devour book two. Sense packs the same thrilling action and all-encompassing plot line as Chance giving this new series incredible momentum. Book two opens with Summer trapped in another world, perilously close to death. Shortly after her haphazard escape from the other-worldly portal, Summer finds she’s not same girl. Unable to control the changes in and around her, she is consistently one step behind. Pursued by a barrage of vile villains, both sexy and gruesome, the reader starts to see Summer’s slow, but steady transformation. Steadfastly undeterred on her path to find her sister’s killer, Summer tries to desperately cling to independence while making deals with some pretty devilish characters. The magnetic pull of the ever-present, seemingly all-powerful Warwick Black is making it increasingly difficult for Summer to maintain her autonomy. Given that Black regularly generates more questions than answers, Summer is understandably wary of her handsome and mysterious benefactor. Nevertheless, the tension between these two is explosive and Summer’s resolve is weakening. 

I loved this book, as I did the first. It’s been a long time since I’ve been this excited about a new series. I love the setting of urban-fantastic Glasgow. I adore the characters, even the seemingly unredeemable Marinus. But what I love most about this series is its creativity. I have no idea what’s going to happen next. It’s puzzling, riveting, and wonderful. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there were times I had serious questions; like how do the residents of quaint neighbourhood not notice a hoard of wraith-like creatures, or a giant dragon? But, these books are just so damn fantastic, I’m willing to shut off my over-analysis, as least temporarily.

If you’re a fan of urban fantasy and you’re looking for an amazingly entertaining read, start this series. A word of caution, however, book three isn’t due out until July. And I’m dying.

Review: Chance the Darkness (book #1)

5 Effusive Sheep

Bianca Greenwood

About the Author:
L A Wild is an urban fantasy novelist who grew up in England, then later lived in Greece, Glasgow and Milton Keynes before moving to Australia in 2006. She is the creator and writer behind the Dark Series.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Book Review: Hot Alphas (Wounded Warriors #3) by Lora Leigh, Laurelin McGee, Shiloh Walker, Kate Douglas

Hot Alphas (Wounded Warriors #3)
by Lora Leigh, Laurelin McGee, Shiloh Walker, Kate Douglas
Paperback, 368 pages
May 19th 2015 by St. Martin's Griffin
In Erin’s Kiss by Lora Leigh, ex-Marine Turk has become Erin’s sworn protector. The consistent target of her CIA-operative brother’s deadly foes, Turk is the only port Erin has to cling to in a storm. He promised her brother long ago never to touch her—but how can he resist a woman who aches to be with him as much as he burns for her?

In misTaken by Laurelin McGee, Jaylene Kim is a strong independent woman whose feminist values run deep. Even though attractive men are her weakness the last thing she wants is one telling her what to do. Until she meets her mysterious new neighbor. He makes her realize that you can still be strong and relinquish control . . . in the bedroom. But as their passion consumes them both Jaylene isn't so sure he is who he says he is.

In Burn for Me by Shiloh Walker, Tate longs to spend his nights with Ali, a woman he’s loved for years. But while Ali’s heart pines to be with Tate, her head has reservations. Ali knows that Tate has never forgiven his father for the fight he had with his mother right before she left the house—and was never heard from again. Tate's unresolved anger is a force to be reckoned with . . . but the heat that blazes between them is undeniable. Now both Tate and Ali are left to wonder: Can love really conquer all?

In Tangled by Kate Douglas, Nate shows up to work at Tangled Vineyards ready to do all the things he loves best—work with his hands, grow the grapes, and craft award-winning, full-bodied wines. But when something better comes along in the form of Cassie, the winemaker and former owner of the vineyard, Nate becomes completely love-drunk. Getting involved with Tangled’s number-one mixologist is a bad way to start off a new job, but with Cassie as a constant temptation, Nate doesn’t stand a chance.

I don’t read a lot of contemporary romances because they don’t appeal to me, unless they are gay romances. Can’t tell you why either…they just don’t. But every once in a while I find one, so when I was given the opportunity to review Hot Alphas I thought Hey, I love alphas and I’ve never read anything by these four authors. Win-win! But it was not to be…

Erin’s Kiss- This was your basic troupey romance. Big-alpha-Special-Forces-type group of guys and one little bitty feisty woman bringing one of the men to his knees. In this story everyone was barely holding in their anger the whole time. Grrrr….Arrrrg! Internal thoughts were too repetitive. I know lots of people enjoy the overboard Grrr…sex stuff, but this just wasn’t for me.

misTaken- And yes, this is how the title is spelled, which is clever. But I didn’t care for this story either. It went overboard on the character's personalities. One big feminist cliché after another. It seems the author might have intentionally made the heroine extreme to give the story a silly sort of humor. I just couldn’t buy it. So, again, not my cup of tea.

Burn for Me- I enjoyed this story a little better. I liked the story line, but I think having all the events happen is such a short story made it hard to emotionally connect to the characters and I didn’t like the emotional abuse the heroine endured until the meathead got his s*** together. Maybe if there weren’t kids involved. Again, not my type of story.

Tangled- Win! This story redeemed the whole anthology for me. The mystery, action and romance were well paced within the confines of the short length. Most of the conflict came from outside forces and the conflict between the hero/heroine was more realistic and kind of sweet. It was refreshing to see the other men in the story were good guys too, except the bad guy of course. There was no crazy contrived angst. Grab a glass; you will savor the romance and be surprised by hints of mystery and suspense.

You should take my opinion of the first three stories with a grain of salt, remembering my bias of contemporary romance. All four stories are completely different so if you are looking for variety this one could make you happy.

Overall I give this anthology 2 Sheep

But Tangled gets 4 “pass the bottle” Sheep

Book Review: Chance the Darkness (The Dark Series, #1) by L A Wild

Chance the Darkness (The Dark Series #1)
by L A Wild

Kindle Edition, 285 pages
November 20th 2014
by Smashwords Edition
In the depths of half-human, half-unknown, twenty-year-old, Summer Keese’s mind, the walls are beginning to crack....

I must be going mad. When my twin sister dies, my whole life begins to unravel in ways I never could have dreamed. A crazy lady ranting in my head, blood-drinking ghouls, a psychotic cult demanding I channel some powerful objects, dangerous men who want to control me.... Total insanity, right? Except, it’s all real.

Then I meet him. Black. Tall, handsome, godlike. The man harbors sinister secrets and lives by his own set of rules—rules I can't begin to comprehend. One minute, he seems to want to save me. The next, I swear he's going to bury me six-foot under. Why can't he just tell me what's really going on?

While searching for my sister's killer in a seedy part of Glasgow, I discover nothing about my life is what it seems. Family secrets, betrayal. Emotions running hot, I make some seriously bad choices. And with the heart of Scotland becoming a paranormal battlefield, I have to wonder.... When did staying alive get so damn hard?

Art student Summer Keese takes an abrupt break from her studies in Glasgow when she must fly to Amsterdam to identify the body of Carla, her murdered twin. Carla’s unprecedented death starts a chain of events in Summer’s life that leave the telepathic twenty-year-old forever changed and constantly on the run. In Summer’s new life as both the hunted and wannabe hunter, she encounters a cast of characters seemingly benevolent and violently malevolent, but all enigmatic. Frenetic plot twists and turns leave the reader entertained, puzzled and wholly absorbed.

I adored this book. In fact, I hazard to say that it’s the best series opener I’ve read in years. Fans of Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series will love Chance the Dark. Wild is undoubtedly influenced by Moning as the books share some similarities. What Fever was to Dublin, The Dark could be to Glasgow. The series are different enough, however, to provide the reader a fresh, but almost equally stunning experience. When I started Chance the Darkness, I did find myself slightly confused by the highly descriptive, dense language. Initially, I had to reread sections to clarify; however, once I got use to Wild’s style, I became lost in the text. There are a lot of facts, elements, and characters, that are revealed first, explained later, and I came to really appreciate this as a reader. It was a more interesting way to tell the story and created loads of dramatic tension during the reading experience.

As a character, Summer is a work in progress. She’s young with a naivety that comes from youth and inexperience. Her most irksome trait has to be her stubbornness. She has tools at her disposal that she refuses to utilize, and I found this beyond frustrating. But in this respect, Summer is not at all unlike other heroines in similar books of this genre. Summer isn’t the born-to-kick -ass assassin. In fact, she gets her ass kicked and sometimes there’s no one there to bail her out, except herself and her own spontaneous instinct. Warwick Black as the brooding alpha is a cold SOB; totally edgy, completely clandestine, and sexy as hell.

Chance the Darkness ends with a cliff-hanger. You will immediately need book two. Good news. Book two, Sense the Darkness is already available, with book three set for July release. Our wait will not be long. I highly recommend this abundantly creative, completely spellbinding book. Take a chance on The Dark Series. You won’t be disappointed.

Four and a half sheep

Bianca Greenwood

About the Author:
L A Wild is an urban fantasy novelist who grew up in England, then later lived in Greece, Glasgow and Milton Keynes before moving to Australia in 2006. She is the creator and writer behind the Dark Series.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Book Review: The Ghostcrow: A Tale of Andor by M.K. Theodoratus

The Ghostcrow: A Tale of Andor
by M.K. Theodoratus
Publisher: Smashwords
Pages: 55
Genre: Supernatural Fantasy
Format: Kindle/Nook
Seeing ghosts has plagued Dumdie Swartz since early childhood.

Afraid that ghost guts might stick to her if she stepped through them, thirteen-year-old Dumdie Swartz still cringes when she encounters them.

Her strange attempts to avoid spirits create a lonely life.

Her sisters constantly mock her strange behavior, her parents are clueless, and her social life is zero. Dumdie finds solace working in a shared garden with her elderly neighbor, Mr. Carson. When teens from her high school steal pumpkins from his garden, Mr. Carson is hurt during the theft, and later, dies.

Dumdie’s life takes a dark turn.

She learns there are stranger things than ghosts, when she senses something evil living in Kyle, one of the boys who had raided the pumpkin patch. Kyle bullies Dumdie to scare her into silence. The more Kyle threatens her, the clearer she perceives the evil thing possessing him. Dumdie finds support in an unlikely group of girls who befriend her when she helps them with their costumes for the Pumpkin festival. During the festival, Dumdie’s fears explode when the thing possessing Kyle decides it wants to possess her.

A prequel to The Ghost in the Closet. Read about Dumdie, young and old.

Dumdie Swartz (a.k.a. Dolores Swartz, but because she liked to sing 
when she was younger, her older sisters gave her the nickname Dumdie) has had the ability to see ghosts since she was a baby. She sees them and fears them. Now at fourteen and beginning high school, the psychic abilities haven’t stopped. Neither have her fears and how she manages them. Her family wants her to quit being strange. None of them are sympathetic, even the parents. She is alone in this, and when she enters high school, she finds herself up against a football jock, Kyle, who is also acting strange and vicious. When he steals some pumpkins from a joint garden her family and their neighbor, Mr. Carson own, Mr. Carson is hurt during the theft and later dies at the hospital. Kyle threatens Dumdie about talking to the police and suddenly, one day, she sees something behind his eyes—someone else. A demon. Suddenly, ghosts are the least of her problems.

The novella was good and the story hooked me until the end. Though, in my opinion, this could have been a novel and I hope Ms. Theodoratus takes my suggestion. I'd like to see more adventures of teenage Dumdie, in YA novels. Though since she is in high school, maybe write the story that is less of a middle school read as this one felt to me, and upgrade the next ones to young adult.

I admit I'd like to take her family—especially her parents—and knock their heads together. All are such unsympathetic people, all about themselves and not wanting her to embarrass them, and not even trying to understand her. But this makes it easy for Dumdie to act on her own against her protagonist and even to learn how to manage her ghosts and learn not all spirits are out to get her.

I give Ghostcrow: A Tale of Andor 4 stars.

Pamela K. Kinney

About the Author:
Hooked by comic books at an early age, M. K. Theodoratus’ fascination with fantasy solidified when she discovered the Oz books by L. Frank Baum with his strong female characters. She has traveled through many fantasy worlds since then. When she’s not reading about other writer’s worlds, she’s creating her own.

Most of her stories are set in the Far Isles where she explores the political effects of genetic drift on a mixed elf human population. Lately, Theodoratus has been setting her stories in an alternate world of Andor where demons stalk humankind.

A sixth grade English assignment started her writing. The teacher assigned a short story. Theodoratus gave her an incomplete, 25-page Nancy Drew pastiche which turned into a full novel by the next summer. She’s been writing happily ever after ever since…for four or five writing careers. Most recently she’s been concentrating of her Andor stories, set in an alternate world where demons and magic plague humans.

Book Review: Grey (The Romany Outcasts Series, Book 1) by Christi J. Whitney

Grey (The Romany Outcasts Series, Book 1)
by Christi J. Whitney
Pages: 400
Sebastian Grey always thought he was a fairly normal teenager – good friends, decent grades, and a pretty sweet job in his foster brother’s tattoo shop.

But when strangers arrive in town, Sebastian soon realizes that his world is nothing at all what it seemed. Secretive gypsies surround him, shadowy figures stalk him, and the girl he’s been dreaming about turns up at school.

Now Sebastian must protect this girl at all costs, even if it means he will never be normal again.

Most high school boys dream about girls but for Sebastian he is shocked to find out that the girl of his dreams is real! When a caravan of gypsies turn up in Sixes, Sebastian is faced with the girl of his dreams. But about the same time that she shows up strange things start happening to him. It’s hard enough being a teenager without weird and unusual things happening at the same time!

Whitney brings to the table an imaginative and secretive story that will hold your attention until the end and will keep you guessing. Looking forward to the next book in the series.

Getting 4 sheep

Denise B

Book Excerpt:


I hear my name, but I can’t answer. I’m trapped by the image in my head.

It flashes again.

Rainbow-scorched leaves. Gypsy music.

Caravans of faded paint.

‘Sebastian Grey!’

Dark and nothing.

I struggled for words. ‘Yes, sir?’

Are you joining this group or not? I need to get a list . . . ’

Another flash.

Bonfires. Starless night.

A girl dancing. Ribbons in her hair.

‘For the last time, Mr Grey, wake up!’

My mind ripped free. I jolted, launching papers into orbit. For a split second, I wasn’t convinced of my surroundings. Then, as fluorescent lights bored through my skull, it hit me.

I was in the middle of class.

And twenty-five pairs of eyes were staring straight at me.

All my school supplies littered the floor – textbooks, papers, colored index cards. Everything except the pencil that I’d somehow snapped between my fingers. I coughed and hunkered in my seat. Across the aisle, Avery leaned sideways in his desk, giving me the look I’d seen way too many times: the one that questioned my sanity.

‘Crap,’ I whispered.

I’d done it again.

Mr Weir moved closer. He glowered at me from under spidery eyebrows. I prepared myself for the tirade. But just as he took a wheezing breath, the bell rang. I shrugged and gave him my best smile as the room reverberated with slamming books and screeching chairs.

Mr Weir grunted and waddled back to his desk, my outburst promptly dismissed as more important matters – like the end of the school day – took precedence. I dropped to one knee and recovered my textbook.

‘Hey, Sebastian, you okay?’ Avery towered over me. ‘What just happened there?’

I blinked away the lingering haze. ‘It appears I must have dozed off.’

‘Seriously, man,’ said Avery, his brows shooting up. ‘Who talks like that?’ He knelt and picked up one of my library books, examining it with a shake of his head. ‘I swear, sometimes I think you read way too many old books. They’re messing with your head.’

I snatched it out of his hands. ‘I don’t read old books.’

‘You read Shakespeare.’

‘That’s different.’

Avery laughed, shoving papers at me. ‘Sure it is.’

I stuffed them in my bag, taking care to hide my tattered copy of Hamlet from Avery’s prying eyes. We squeezed into the crowded hall, avoiding locker doors banging open and shut around us.

‘You never answered my question, you know,’ Avery continued.

‘I realize that.’

We strolled in companionable silence down the hallway. Okay, maybe I was the one who was silent. Avery Johnson – senior superlative and social giant – had something to say to everybody we passed. At the end of the corridor, he stopped.

‘Okay, what was it this time?’

‘Nothing,’ I replied. ‘I fell asleep.’

‘Yeah, right,’ Avery said in an amused huff. ‘That wasn’t a nap. That was a complete zone out. Same as this morning in gym, when you stood there like a zombie until Alex Graham smacked you in the face with the ball.’

‘I’m athletically challenged.’

‘Try strange,’ he replied.

‘Can you maybe find another expression to stare at me with? It’s not helping.’

Avery went dramatically serious. ‘Sorry.’

‘Oh, that’s better,’ I replied. ‘I feel much more comfortable now.’ Avery’s features didn’t change. There’d be no avoiding it this time. I worked out my confession. ‘Okay, so you know when you stare at a camera flash and then you keep seeing the glow, even after it’s gone?’

‘Yeah . . . ’

I gripped the strap of my backpack. ‘Well, I keep seeing this same thing in my head, like a camera flash. Only not a light. An image. It used to just happen at night, but now I’m starting to see it during the day.’

‘What exactly do you keep seeing?’

‘A girl.’

Avery whistled slyly. ‘Must be some dream, eh?’

‘No, it’s not like that.’ My head throbbed. I pinched the bridge of my nose between my fingers. ‘It’s not a dream.’

‘A vision, then,’ said Avery, lighting up like Christmas. ‘You can see the future! Or maybe the past. You know, like that guy on TV. The one that helps the cops solve cases and junk.’

I grinned sideways. ‘If only. ’Cause that would be kind of cool.’

‘And profitable,’ added Avery. ‘We could totally . . . ’

‘Hate to disappoint,’ I said, holding up my hands before he could spout off some money-making scheme that I would – mostly likely – lose cash on. ‘But I don’t have dreams, visions, premonitions, or anything worth printing up business cards for. It’s just an image. I probably saw it in a book somewhere.’

‘Well, whatever it is, when you come out of it, you do this jerking spaz thing.’ He demonstrated for my benefit. ‘Like a bad episode of Sebastian Can’t Dance. Maybe you should ease up on the caffeine.’

‘Oh, you’re hilarious,’ I said, shoving him towards the exit doors. I wasn’t about to tell Avery I’d seen the image every night for two months, and I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had any decent sleep. I’d reached the limits of sharing. ‘Glad to know I covered all the basics of self-embarrassment. Maybe next time I’ll work up a drool.’

Avery pushed open the set of metal doors, flashing a Cheshire grin as he passed through. ‘Hey, don’t worry too much about it, Sebastian. It’s not like it’s the first time you’ve done something weird.’

About the Author:
Christi J. Whitney is a former high school theatre director with a love for the arts. She lives just outside Atlanta with her husband and two sons. When not spending time with them or taking a ridiculous number of trips to Disney World, she can be found directing plays, making costumes for sci-fi/fantasy conventions, obsessing over Doctor Who, watching superhero movies, or pretending she’s just a tad bit British.

Her latest book is the young adult urban fantasy novel, Grey (The Romany Outcasts Series, Book 1).