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Friday, April 30, 2021

Book Review: Jukebox Hero (SledgeHammer: A Rock and Roll Fable #1) by Jason Stuart

Jukebox Hero (SledgeHammer: A Rock and Roll Fable #1)
by Jason Stuart
April 30th, 2021
Genre: 80s Mashup/ Superhero Fantasy
Publisher: Burnt Bridge
It’s Back to the ’80’s like never before!

Things aren’t all rainbows and cupcakes at the corner of Elm and E streets. Molly Slater just wants to forget everything she can’t remember and play heavy metal with her best friend in the garage. And maybe get a date for prom if he’s not a skeeze.

But someone in this ‘burb has been killing redheads, and Molly has the reddest hair of them all.

When a night of babysitting gone wrong gets her in the crosshairs of the local gang scene, Molly discovers fabulous secrets about herself.

The hunted becomes the hunter as she prowls the darkness that has crept into her sleepy town. But a far more sinister force, some thing from another world, has other plans in store for her…

Well, first thing, I think this author (although 4 books in) shows promise. I was intrigued by the direction of his storyline and most times I thought I knew the purpose. I rather think though, that it likened the ‘80’s and was a little “chaos trying to find itself”. Perhaps that was deliberate. I thought the chapter intros with a song title (though not all originals from the ‘’80s) were a nice touch even if I couldn’t immediately see the correlation to the text.

It definitely made me think of comic book heroes. “Sledgehammer”? Really? I had young children in the ‘80’s and I suppose that might be one of the weird names they might dream up. And the descriptions of the outfits definitely fit in the era.

That’s about as far as I could go. I always try my hardest to finish any book I start but this one just could not keep my interest and I have read many in the YA genre. I got to about 43% then abandoned ship. I still at that point didn’t really see a main theme of the story but perhaps that was the point and I am just too far removed from enjoying the “blast from the past”.

I am sure there is a viewership right around the corner but I have many other places to visit with so little time....not a real patient reader have to pique my interest with something like a great main character or strong storyline.

Best wishes to this author and I will be on the lookout for future works to watch the progress.

Getting 2.5 confused sheep


“Sister Christian”
—Night Ranger, 1983
Three standing grandfather clocks gazed down at her that morning, ten years to the day since they found her wandering alone with no memory—not even a name.

There, at the corner of Elm and E Street, Molly Slater (the name they’d given her) gripped her Fender Stratocaster like it were a weapon forged for her hands. Her fingerless gloves whispered at the strings, ready to saw down some serious noise. Jordache jacket with the sleeves ripped off at the shoulder. Purple lipstick and double-earrings. Corvette red hair. Bette Davis Eyes.

The garage smelled like the early morning—no other sound but her Cons slapping the dewy concrete. She kicked away shorted out gizmos and various half-finished contraptions littering the cold slab floor. Hoyt, her foster dad, fancied himself the inventor. Any day now he’d invent their way into riches untold. Any day now.

Those grandfather clocks ticked at her as she plugged into the Peavey. More of Hoyt’s tinkering, thinking he could set his machines by them. Each triggered a different chain reaction every morning. One fed the dog. Another opened the garage to the day. A third…well it never worked anyway. She stared at them, as did they her in return. They held no judgment, only the looming doom of the impending hour.

As the garage doors groaned, opening to the dim autumn light outside, she cranked up and twist-tuned her axe. She gave it a gooseneck and sliced right in. Mötley. Halen. Bowie. Duran. Whitesnake. Saxon. Maiden! Fluidly, she moved from one riff to another. She was totally, epically zoned.

She lived in that fifteen minutes.

Those granddads thundered their terrible news.

The parentals shouted.

“Shut that racket off! You’re gonna be late, I swear to every god,” the mother said. As if there were gods. Molly just shook her head, put up the guitar and grabbed her bag. “And put on a hat on that red hair. I don’t want you getting murdered by that maniac!”

So dramatic. Like anything that interesting could ever happen.

She always knew it would be like this.

About the Author
Jason Stuart is from the ’80s. He came through that cocaine-fueled fever dream and lived to tell this story. Find him on Twitter: @raiseaholler on IG @80sinsane and This is his 4th book. And, no, that’s not his real hair.

Book Tour Organized By:


This is to remind you that tomorrow...


Thursday, April 29, 2021

Book Review: Lightning Game (Ghostwalker Novel Book 17) by Christine Feehan

by Christine Feehan
March 2, 2021
361 pages
Book 17 of 17: Ghostwalker Novel
'The queen of paranormal romance . . . I love everything she does' J. R. WARD

Danger and passion fuse in this electrifying GhostWalker novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan.

GhostWalker Rubin Campo's rough upbringing made him into the man he is today: strong, steadfast and wary of outsiders. When he and his brother return to their family's homestead in the Appalachian Mountains, he can immediately sense that a stranger has taken up residence in their cabin-a woman who just happens to be a GhostWalker too.

Jonquille looks deceptively delicate but is clearly a fighter. She also doesn't seem to care that Rubin could kill her where she stands. She sought him out, wanting to connect on their shared interest in electrical charges. As one of the first failed GhostWalker experiments, Jonquille can produce lightning with her body-but she can't control it.

Their connection is magnetic, their abilities in sync. Rubin knows she's his match, the answer to a lifetime of pain and intense loneliness. But Jonquille came to him with hidden intentions, ones that threaten to destroy their bond before it can truly begin....

Everyone's talking about Christine Feehan . . .

'[A] dark and seductive paranormal romance series.'

'Heart-stopping action. Crazy sexy-time scenes. Tender emotions.' Harlequin Junkie

'Hot-blooded . . . intense and thrilling . . . you don't want to miss it!' Joyfully Reviewed

'With a Feehan novel you know you will get well-developed characters and...a dose of sizzling unbeatable mix.' RT Book Reviews

When Diego and his brother Rubin go to their childhood home like they do each year, they know someone has been using their cabin. They are cautious as they look through the cabin, but when Rubin gets a look at the woman that comes in, he's instantly attracted to her.

Jonquille was one of Whitney's first group of experiments and is considered a failure. She was able to escape from Whitney's lab and has searched for a way to be normal again. When she hears Rubin speaking at a conference, she thinks he might help with her particular problem, so she gets to know him and follows him, ending up at his cabin.

If you've been reading this series, you know that Whitney has been experimenting on people for a long time. Jonquille was part of his first group of girls who were kidnapped and experimented on. Her DNA was changed, and she was psychically and physically enhanced. Diego and Rubin were also enhanced, but they were thought to be successes and are now part of the Ghostwalker team, a team of highly trained and enhanced individuals sent on missions that no one else could accomplish. Diego and Rubin both have psychic gifts of their own, Rubin's being a psychic surgeon, but he can also redirect lightning. So when he finds out that Jonquille can produce lightning, but she can't direct where it goes, he knows that she is his mate. Whitney has been known to make two people with similar gifts so they'd be good together. He knows that Whitney has paired them together. He also made it so they would be physically attracted to each other, which explained that right away.

It doesn't take long for Rubin to realize after talking with Jonquille that she had an ulterior motive for coming to the cabin when she did. She thinks that Whitney has trackers on his tail, so she leads them to the cabin thinking she can outwit them and take them all out or at least try to keep him safe. At this point, Rubin and Diego knew they could trust her and make a plan to take out anyone who comes looking for them. But Jonquille finds herself in danger, and we get to see Rubin, Diego, and Jonquille all work together to figure things out.

When a new villain is made known, and we find out that others are being experimented on because someone else wants their own Ghostwalker team, we see Rubin's team come together to help the men being experimented on.

I really enjoyed the romance between Rubin and Jonquille. They are meant for each other....literally. If you've liked this series so far, you will love this latest book.

I give this book 5 sheep!

Mary Kirkland

Dark Thoughts Blog

About the Author:
I write every day and have done so since I was old enough to pick up a pen. (I spent a lot of time getting in trouble at school for writing instead of doing the things I was supposed to do.) Once I create my characters, I try very hard to have them react to situations as they really would. Sometimes I have preconceived ideas of what I would like them to do, but they don't mind me, because it would be out of character for them. They take on a life of their own. Sometimes when I throw difficult situations at them in the hopes I'll get a certain reaction and they don't do what I want, I complain bitterly to my husband and he laughs at me. Still, it is important to me to have them be real, not perfect people, so they make mistakes we lesser mortals might make.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Selah's Manga Mania Reviews: Failed Princesses Vol. 1 by Ajiichi

Failed Princesses Vol. 1
できそこないの姫君たち | Dekisokonai no Himegimi-tachi
by Ajiichi
August 11, 2020
Publisher: Seven Seas
Genre(s): Romance, Yuri, 
Teens & Young, LGBT
168 pages
Volume 1 of 3
Fujishiro Nanaki is super cute, super popular, and super annoyed with anyone as plain as her classmate Kurokawa Kanade. When Nanaki finds out her boyfriend's cheating on her, however, her life makes a complete 180 -- as does her relationship with Kanade.
Opposites attract in this new high school yuri manga!

Fujishiro Nanaki is super cute, super popular, and super annoyed with anyone as plain as her classmate Kurokawa Kanade. When Nanaki finds out her boyfriend’s cheating on her, however, her life makes a complete 180—as does her relationship with Kanade. This all-new yuri manga series explores the budding romance between the cool girl in school and the “plain” girl she once brushed off!
Friendship is an integral part of manga, but it can take a lot of forms. Tropes still reign, and so often, you get used to the popular girl and unpopular girl being at odds with each other.

And then there’s Failed Princesses.

Nanaki is popular and always has to be cute. While this seems obsessive at first, as the first volume goes along, you learn she actually has to put a lot of effort in. This is something she works at because it’s how she sees herself. Even so, it doesn’t prevent her boyfriend from dumping her. Kanade is the quiet, shy, ugly ducking otaku (fangirl) type and overhears the breakup. While she dislikes Nanaki because of a bad encounter with a popular girl in her past, she empathizes and reassures Nanaki that the situation isn’t her fault. Nanaki latches onto this and decides that they need to be friends. Kanade has absolutely no idea what to do with that.

The good: There’s a lot of emotional exploration and shifting in this one. The characters are decently self-aware while still being a bit ignorant of others’ feelings, which works. Kanade just wants to live her life even if Nanaki intrigues her. But the moment Nanaki befriends her, the popular girls laugh it off, thinking she just wants a servant and Kanade’s friends drop her. This possibility had never occurred to Nanaki, and so there’s a learning moment there as their friendship develops. In turn, Nanaki helps Kanade update her wardrobe and slowly gain a smidge of confidence. Kanade was under the impression that looks and popularity just happen, and Nanaki destroys that illusion as they bond over bad eyebrow grooming experiences. In the first volume alone, there’s just enough growth between the two of them to be interesting without shifting the dynamic too much too fast. The punchline at the end is Nanaki takes Kanade clothes shopping and then suddenly discovers that she may actually out-cute Nanaki, herself.
There’s also a great relationship between Nanaki and her brother. While Nanaki has things come somewhat easily to her because of her popularity and is a little insulated, she’s not a bad person. Her relationship with her brother really showcases her ability to have normal relationships. She’s also invested enough to want to borrow manga from Kanade and learn about her, in turn. It’s also a cool choice to not make Kanade totally friendless. Hence, she actually has stakes to lose due to the friendship with Nanaki. While she may not care about her appearance, she is intrigued by how Nanaki is so well put together, and her epiphany that people aren’t just born that way is honestly really nice to see in a teen series. The fact that it’s addressed makes the obligatory makeover scene feel truer than it would in a 90s movie sequence. I was impressed that Nanaki’s friends' snideness is very minimal compared to a lot of bullying scenes in other titles, and Nanaki immediately shuts it down. There’s no going back and forth for her. She does not stand for it, which is really refreshing. If anything, it’s Kanade trying to tell her how the world works and Nanaki reinforcing that it doesn’t have to be that way and that they both can learn from each other.

The bad: Nothing, really. The characters are still a bit tropey, but this is just the first volume, and it’s obvious that the intent is to have them grow.

Things to be aware of: Nothing so far. I haven’t fully researched this one, so I’m not totally sure if the intent is they become besties or end up together. But honestly, I could see it working well either way.

All in all, a fun title that takes standard plotlines and dares to do something a bit different without taking It completely away from the feel of a shojo title.

Four made-over sheep

About the Author:
Selah Janel is a writer who is trying to start doing that again instead of reading manga all the time.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Interview: PNR Author Brenna Harlow + giveaway

How to find time to write as a parent?
Simple, write while she plays, eats, and sleeps. Haha. We take walks, and go outside. I read her bedtime stories at night, and watch Disney movies with her. She knows when Mommy is working she has to go and play with her millions of toys inside of her bedroom.

What inspired you to write this book?
I would say that reading a million books with tropes that I loved inspired me to write one of my own. Also, vampires have always and will always be my favorite creatures of the night. I cannot help it. It’s ingrained in my soul. I grew up on Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, The Vampire Academy, True Blood… I may or may not enjoy blood and biting tropes LOL.

Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
Um, yes! Of course I read, how in the world would I get better at my craft otherwise? My go-to tropes are fated mates, captive romance, protective/possessive alpha males, anything with vampires, blood bonds, yadda yadda. I’m a hardcore romance reader and writer, through and through.

A day in the life of the author?
*Opens front door* Hello, and welcome to a day in my life. *Gestures wildly to the debris of toys that cover the living room, put there by one tornado of a toddler.*

In this home, we drink coffee non-stop. Here, have an espresso. *Shoves cup of triple shot into your hands* Let’s get on with the tour! Oh, don’t mind my messy bun and leggings, I always look like this.

Here is where you’ll find my computer, which currently has sixteen tabs open, most of which serve as a distraction from the writing I need to be doing. Never mind all that, hows your coffee? *Child screams in the background*

You get the gist.

Advice they would give new authors?
Just don’t stop, and do not get caught up in all of the marketing advice that can easily consume all of your time- time that would be better spent just writing the damn book. Write, and write more, and for the love of all things holy, please do not create your own cover. Yes, you need an editor. Yes, you need a marketing plan- but only once you have the book! Or multiples, if you want to try your hand at rapid releasing. Do NOT get caught up in all of the marketing tactics like I did. Yes, you need to know them. However, you don’t need to know them all in the first month. Slow down.

Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Witchy, Moody, Anxious, and Nerdy.

Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?
Why yes, I’m glad you asked! Sometime at the end of the year, I have plans for a novella featuring my two main characters for book one. ;) I’ll leave it up to the imagination on what exactly it’s about, but here’s a clue. “Happily Ever After can be rounded, by two.”

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in (Name of book)?
Of course! Book one, Blood at Dusk, follows the life of a woman named Kora and a Vampire named Aldeon. Their paths cross, of course. (It wouldn’t be a love story without that, haha). Kora was a Senior at Nashville State Community College before the end of the world came. She was a vegan, bookworm, and partied with her sister on the weekends. Nowadays, she deals with a lot of anxiety and grief (as to be expected).

Aldeon is a vampire from the world know as Azure. He doesn’t remember how he, or his people, got to earth. His mind has cleared from the fog of bloodlust, but his species is still mad, tearing through the human and animal population on this new planet. He wants to help the, but when he meets his fated mate- a human, he has to choose. Save her, or stay true to his kind.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
My most favorite thing about writing this book was sharing my struggles with a select group of writing friends. They have grown into an amazing community that lends a helping hand to all those who need it. Without them listening to my endless rants, I don’t know what I would do. I especially wouldn’t have been able to get this book written without my amazing friend and critique partner, Winter. I owe this all to her.

Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Yes, for sure. My books are not meant for young readers, and there are very mature themes involved. Also, I hear a lot of smack about ‘weak’ heroines. Let me be clear, my characters may seem weak in the beginning (I mean they’ve survived an apocalypse, I feel like they deserve a little credit for that already) but each and every one of them turn their weaknesses into strengths by the end of the book. This is called a character arc and for me, it’s important.

What is your writing process? For instance, do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first? What are common traps for aspiring writers?
I do a basic outline. I like to know what ‘beats’ I need to hit, and I know how the story starts and ends. Those points never change while I draft, but before each chapter, I do a summary. Things change while I write, but I roll with it. I’m not sure what I would do without a simple outline.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?
It takes me a month on average to write my first draft. Most of my drafts tend to be around 45-50k. After that, I’ll decide how much needs to be rewritten and then focus on that for another month. At that point, the manuscript is normally clean enough that I can manage a couple of weeks of self edits before sending it to my editor. From the first line to hitting publish, it normally takes 2-3 months. (That is for a full length novel.)

Blood at Dusk (The SoulBlood Series Book 1)
by Brenna Harlow
April 27, 2021
Genre: Vampire Paranormal Romance
206 pages
Will she forgive him of his sins, or fight their bond until her last dying breath?

Kora was left alone when the world crumbled, and the bloodsucking monsters invaded.

The vampires killed her family, her friends; everyone she had ever loved.

She waited for the moment they would enter her hideaway and snuff out her miserable existence for good. They never came though, and the revelation that she would be alone was too much... until she saw him.

Aldeon finds himself in a world that isn't his own.

A place filled with so much of the crimson liquid that keeps his species sane, that even he cannot resist feeding.

Dhampirs have been ravenous for eons, delving into madness as their minds grew weak with hunger. But now he is full again, left to await the time when the others return to their senses and join him.

A single scent dissipates all of his newfound revelations, and suddenly the tantalizing aroma is all that he can think about.

Everything changes when he gazes into the terrified eyes of a human woman, and another instinct takes hold.
Protect. Serve. Mate.

"Adult fans of Twilight and Darklight by Bella Forrest will love this new Vampire Paranormal Romance."

Content Warning: This book does contain mature themes, such as but not limited to; sexual content, suicide and suicidal ideations, violence, and strong language. Not suitable for ages under 18+.

About the Author
Brenna Harlow (if that's even her real name) lives happily in her own fantasy land, drinking way too much coffee and reading an endless amount of smutty paranormal romance. She joined the land of the living only to share her love for the creatures of the night, and henceforth has claimed her throne at the Kingdom of Vampires and Fated Mates.

You can find Brenna in any coffee shop that provides free Wi-Fi, drinking her triple shot espresso and stabbing her keyboard to death.

Paperback of Blood at Dusk + Swag Pack, $15 Amazon giftcard – 1 winner each
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

Book Review: Purrfectly Dead (A Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Mystery Book 5) by Dixie Lyle

Purrfectly Dead (A Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Mystery Book 5)
by Dixie Lyle
April 27, 2021
Publisher: St. Martin’s
ISBN: 9781250078445
When zillionairess Zelda Zoransky throws a party, she means business. Assistant extraordinaire, Deidre “Foxtrot” Lancaster knows she’s in for a night when anything can―and will―happen. The evening’s festivities include a high-stakes game between two escape artists locked in a bitter rivalry.


The magic turns tragic when one of the escape artists ends up dead. This is no disappearing act―it’s murder. The suspects include a scientist with a 3D printer, a psychedelically-impaired rock star, and a serpent-tongued ghost with ties to the Garden of Eden. Now it’s up to Foxtrot, Tango, and Whiskey to figure out which guest committed the crime before they reach they end of this deadly game of Clue. How will this tail end?

Deidre “Foxtrot” Lancaster works for Zelda Zoransky, making sure the zillionaire’s guests are happy and things run smoothly. Sometimes, Foxtrot and her animals, Tango the cat, and Whisky, the shapeshifting phantom dog, have to do more, like solved a murder when a naked man, who is also rival escape artist Lockley Hades, is found dead in her latest contraption. Even more so, when Maxine’s assistant, Summer Coyne, is found dead in the refrigeration trailer parked in the parking lot of Zoransky’s mansion. Suspects are the guests and employees, plus two Thunderbirds, one of whom is Foxtrot’s boyfriend. The murdered Hades is a huge shape-shifting snake race that is enemies of the Thunderbirds. Deidre has her hands full.

With animals, both living and the dead, a mystery, and even some romance, this light paranormal mystery novel makes a good light beach read. Although I wonder how Foxtrot and her boyfriend got together or when he found out he was a Thunderbird. I did not need to read books 1-4 to understand and enjoy this book.

I gave PURRFECTLY DEAD: A Whiskey, Tango & Foxtrot Mystery 4 (mystery-solving ghost) sheep.

Reviewed by Pamela K. Kinney

About the Author:
Dixie Lyle (Don DeBrandt) author of A Taste Fur Murder and To Die Fur from the Whiskey, Tango and Foxtrot Mysteries from St. Martin's Books, loves animals, mysteries, books, reading, words, bad puns (are there any other kind?) and once had a torrid summer romance with an entire library. Did I mention the books? Oh, and definitely doesn’t believe in the supernatural. Nope, not me. Hey, what was that sound? Where’s that spooky green glow coming from? Oh, hello, didn’t see you standing there in the corner, what with you being all see-through and everything. Want a cup of tea? Moan once for yes, twice for no.

Allegations that Dixie Lyle has a goofy sense of humor are entirely unfounded, and should be forwarded to the unfounded and unlost department.

New Release: Hidden Dragon (The Treasure of Paragon Book 7) by Genevieve Jack + excerpt

by Genevieve Jack
April 27, 2021
266 pages
No one ever promised forever would be easy.

Dianthe's second sight has always been both a blessing and a curse. She can't control her visions, yet they're unerringly accurate... until an erroneous prophecy results in the destruction of her homeland. The revelation crushes her spirit and endangers her role as an officer in the rebellion to take back the kingdom of Paragon.

Sylas, dragon shifter and exiled prince, is the leader of the rebellion, but he can no longer rely on his mate Dianthe's psychic powers. His inner dragon is secretly pleased to relegate her to the sidelines. Even if his decision temporarily drives her away, he'd rather have her angry than dead or worse.

When changing circumstances accelerate the rebellion's plans, Dianthe’s fairy roots make her the only one who can perform a dangerous and necessary task. Her need to prove herself soon collides with Sylas's desire to protect her and strains their connection to the breaking point. Dragon mating bonds are eternal, but if Dianthe and Sylas don't find a way back to each other, not only will their marriage fail, their mission to reclaim Paragon will as well.

He joined her at the kitchen table and dipped his finger into the batter inside the powder-blue bowl she worked over. He stole a taste. “Mmmm. You’re making crizzle rolls. My favorite.”

“Sylas!” Dianthe smacked his shoulder. “That’s for the party tonight. You don’t want to show up at Elder Tree empty-handed, do you?”

“They won’t miss a mouthful.” He smacked his lips. “There’s something different.”

“I added a little lemon and fever fruit. Trader’s spice.”

He scooped up another dollop and popped it in his mouth. “Yes, the trader’s spice makes it,” he mumbled around his finger.

“Goddess have you, Sylas, I’m serious! Get your hands out of my bowl.” She turned the full weight of her heavily annoyed stare on him.

He took it as a challenge. “Hmm. If I can’t have the batter, what can I do to keep my mouth busy?” Reaching for her, he traced along the skin of her shoulder with the back of his nails.

She lowered her chin and stared up at him through impossibly thick lashes. “If I hadn’t known what I was getting into mating a dragon, I’d tell you to go suck an egg.” Wings fluttering, she allowed the spoon to clink against the side of the bowl. She wrapped her arms around his neck. “Lucky for you, I knew exactly what I was getting into mating a dragon, and I have far better uses for that naughty mouth.”

A deep, vibrating purr rumbled in his chest when her mouth met his, her full lips tasting of crizzle batter and the remains of her smile. He hoisted her up his body, felt her legs wrap around his hips. The world melted away. All his responsibilities, the horrors he’d seen over his years leading the rebellion, all of it retreated to the back of his mind and pure joy filled his heart. Goddess, he wanted her. Wanted to bury himself in her for days. Wanted to taste every inch of her.

He pushed the bowl aside and lowered his mate to the table, reaching for the buttons of her dress.

“Sylas, stop. Wait.” Dianthe’s lashes fluttered.

Sylas froze. Her eyes rolled back in the way they did when she was seized by a vision; her stomach tensed rigidly. A tremble rattled her body. He supported her with his arms as the magic rolled through her.

“What is it? What do you see?”

Her eyes widened in terror, her entire body quaking under him.

He held her tighter. “I’ve got you. I’ve got you. Tell me what you’ve seen.”

“Everfield… on fire. The Obsidian Guard is coming.”

About the Author:

USA Today bestselling and multi-award winning author Genevieve Jack writes wild, witty, and wicked-hot paranormal romance and fantasy. Coffee and wine are her biofuel. The love lives of witches, shifters, and vampires are her favorite topic of conversation. She harbors a passion for old cemeteries and ghost tours thanks to her years attending a high school rumored to be haunted. Her perfect day involves a heaping dose of nature and a dog.

Monday, April 26, 2021

TV Series Review: Shadow and Bone (Netflix)

Shadow and Bone TV Series (2021– )
April 23, 2021
Based on the novel Shadow and Bone: Book 1 (THE GRISHA) by Leigh Bardugo 
Stars: Jessie Mei Li, Ben Barnes, Archie Renaux |Freddy Carter
Genre: Action, Drama, Fantasy 
Episodes: 8
Dark forces conspire against orphan mapmaker Alina Starkov when she unleashes an extraordinary power that could change the fate of her war-torn world.

Last week Netflix's Shadow and Bone was released and I like many spent the weekend watching the 8 episodes. Based on the book series by Leigh Bardugo, the series dives into a fantasy world torn apart by war and an ominous dark cloud-like wall known as The Fold. I'm going to say right off that I've never read the books. I didn't even know they existed. I decided to watch the show because I love a good fantasy story. So I can't say if the show is faithful to the first book. But I can say that while the show was interesting it wasn't without its problems.
At the heart of Shadow and Bone is the story of teenager Alina Starkov, an orphan in the war-torn, Russia-inspired kingdom of Ravka who only has only had her best friend Mal to count on through life. Alina’s life drastically changes when she unexpectedly uses a power she didn’t know she had in order to save Mal. Alina is separated from Mal and quickly taken to the capital in order to train as it’s revealed that she has a powerful, unique gift that makes her both valuable and a target for enemies of Ravka. Along the way, Alina experiences love, betrayal, and finds her courage to begin a long fight to save Ravka.

From the first few minutes of the first episode, it becomes clear that Alina’s story isn’t the only one that’s being told. There are A LOT of characters introduced in the first episode. So many. If you’re not familiar with the books then you won’t know what’s going on. It was a little overwhelming to have so much tossed at you when you’re a newbie to the entire story. It could be a turnoff for new viewers but for me, it was a minor setback that was easily fixed with a quick Google search for a “Beginner’s Guide” to help me understand the who, what, where, and when.

But even with the guide, I have to say that with so many characters and more than a few stories being told alongside Alina’s it may be too much too soon for viewers who don’t know anything about this world. I also have to question whether eight-episode seasons will be enough to be able to tell each story with respect and consideration for not only those characters but for book fans, all of whom will know if they’re being shortchanged. This would be a shame because one of my favorite things about Shadow and Bone though is that the cast is talented and diverse, each actor is a treat to watch and brings something special to the show. I hope the writers can give each actor a chance to shine in their roles as the show progresses.

The multitude of characters is only one issue I had with the show, another is that the pacing is a tad slow in the beginning and spends a lot of time on Mal and Alina’s friendship, most of which is just Alina mooning over her friend and him being oblivious. I know it’s based on a YA novel but I thought this was overdone and there should have been more character-building scenes for both Mal and Alina. Both characters are more than just their teenaged romance.

It’s still too early to say whether or not Shadow and Bone has the right stuff to make it into the stuff of legends, but the potential is there. The first season leaves off right when things are getting interesting so with a second season that is well adapted from the second book I could see this show gaining new fans who will probably want to read the books the show is based on.

Rating: 3 ½ sheep

Sunday, April 25, 2021

The Realm of the Vampire Council Series by Damian Serbu + giveaway

The Vampire's Angel (The Realm of the Vampire Council Book 1)
by Damian Serbu
March 19, 2018
386 pages
Genre: M/M Paranormal Romance, Dark Urban Fantasy
As Paris devolves into chaos amidst the French Revolution, three lives intertwine.

Xavier, a devout priest, struggles to hold on to his trust in humanity only to find his own faith threatened with the longing he finds for a mysterious American visitor. Thomas fights against the Catholic Church to win Xavier’s heart, but hiding his undead nature will threaten the love he longs to find with this abbé. Xavier’s sister, Catherine, works with Thomas to bring them together while protecting the family fortune but falls prey herself to evil forces.

The death, peril, and catastrophes of a revolution collide with a world of magic, vampires, and personal demons as Xavier, Thomas, and Catherine fight to find peace and love amidst the destruction.

Thomas walked back to Paris after Anne pushed him out the door. Of course she was right. If he planned on eternity with Xavier, waiting for even a couple of years meant little. The only risk was Xavier’s mortal safety, but Thomas could protect him.

Still, he hated that Xavier fought his true nature, and despite the peace within him, his passion against the church intensified. Against his better judgment (he heard Anthony scolding him in his head), he headed for the Seine and the glorious Notre Dame Cathedral. It took no effort to locate the bishop. He scaled a wall, opened a window, and seated himself on the end of a bed. The figure at its head slept soundly so Thomas wiggled the mattress.

The man woke and screamed in terror. With superhuman haste, Thomas covered his mouth and ordered him to stop. “I won’t kill you if you obey,” he said. He let go of the bishop, who cowered under his sheet.

“We need to chat.” Thomas got up and walked around, taking in the room’s opulence: the expensive furniture, the ornate china left from dinner, the silk vestments, all the finery that one would find in the homes of Paris’s elite. He compared it to the sparse conditions of Xavier’s room: the blank walls and broken desk. Thomas ran his hand along the crucifix, mocking its inability to protect the allegedly holy man. After a grand pause, he turned back to the bishop.

“I know I woke you and it’s late, but I didn’t think that you’d accept my request for a visit.”

“What do you want? Take anything.” The bishop’s voice shook.

“Do I look like a common thief?” Thomas waved his hand at his own expensive clothing. “You and I have other business.” He took a seat on the bed next to the quivering man and ran his fingers along the wrinkled cheek, delighting in the bishop’s terror.

“It’s about a mutual friend. But I warn you, our friend has no idea I’m doing this. If you utter one word to him, I’ll break your neck. The same will happen if you speak of this to any other soul or seek retribution. Agreed?”

The man nodded, hands trembling on the sheet.

“I need you to write a letter of retraction regarding the things you’ve said about Abbé Saint-Laurent. You must admit you were incorrect and commend him for his fine work.”

“He defies the laws of the church.”

“That’s not why you harass him,” Thomas said, leaning forward, tone dangerous. “I couldn’t understand it before I saw you. Why would someone insult a priest who serves a parish few others would even enter? You tried to seduce Xavier and he rebuked you.”

The bishop’s pallor faded even more at Thomas’s words. “I don’t know what—”

Thomas nestled up to the man, put his face nearby, and massaged his leg. Though Thomas glared, the bishop refused to look at him. Thomas blew into his ear and then grabbed his genitals.

After a second, he released them and jumped off the bed. “Still want to deny it, Father?”

By now, the bishop was weeping as he shivered. Thomas marched to a desk, snatched a parchment, and thrust it at him. The bishop obeyed every command. He wrote three letters: one for his official files, one to the Vatican, and one to Xavier, apologizing for his mistaken condemnations and instead praising the young priest for exemplary service. Thomas took them when he had finished, sealed them with the bishop’s emblem, and slid them into his coat pocket.

“You have what you want. Leave me,” the bishop said.

“Do you understand what I mean to do if this isn’t the end of it?”

“Go away. You’ve won.”

Unconvinced that the bishop grasped the severity of his threat, Thomas grabbed the foot of the bed and broke it from its hinges. The mattress crashed to the floor and the bishop rolled to Thomas’s feet. He cried and quaked anew. Thomas reached with a swift motion and broke the man’s little finger. As the man howled in pain, Thomas smashed through the window and jumped two stories to the ground.

Now, to celebrate. Time for a kill.

As usual, people crowded the bars and drank, gambled, had public sex, and railed against Louis. The tawdry scene would produce a worthy victim or two. Thomas entered an establishment and took a seat. Nothing unusual caught his eye. No one longed for his fangs to end an unseemly life, until he heard a familiar voice. He turned, slowly, and saw Marcel seated nearby and talking to the likes of whom Thomas never wanted to even touch. They stank of men hired for dirty, illicit, and violent tasks.

There was a group of worthy victims. He could kill all of them, including Marcel, and rid himself of a major problem. Then Thomas remembered those damn ethical guidelines Anthony pronounced: never meddle in human affairs. Killing Marcel, even in a vial setting, violated that principle. And he had already gone too far in violating the ethic with his visit to Notre Dame. But that logic seemed faulty, until he recalled his conversation with Marcel. What if the demon placed some spell on Xavier to protect himself if Thomas came after him? Was such a thing possible? Thomas had no idea what to do.

Frustrated, Thomas listened.

“You’re fine gentlemen, as always,” Marcel was saying. “I hardly believe you dispatched that customer so fast and without a mess. I appreciate your efforts on my behalf—”

“Enough talk, old man, get to the point,” said one of the men. His breath hit Thomas from two tables away, stinking of tobacco, rum, and a gross assortment of decay.

“Don’t take that tone with me. I have a spying assignment, to watch two men. I need to know their patterns, their friends, and their beliefs. Discover any weaknesses, any material for blackmail, anything they conceal. Try to find out where they keep their money and when they sleep. I must know anything and everything about both of them. Monitor the two Saint-Laurents. One of you watch Michel, the other take Xavier.”

“How long do you want us to do this? It’ll cost you,” the other added.

“I’m well aware of your prices, and believe me, this is worth the cost. I’ll expect a weekly report. One more thing. Never go near their sister. When they visit her, walk away.”

Marcel described Michel and told them where to find him and Thomas pictured the route to Xavier’s church as Marcel gave it to the other man, depicting him, as well.

Thomas let Marcel leave, against his better judgment, as the rules haunted him and his magic concerned him. He followed the other two, however. He sensed enough to know that killing them would not violate the ethic, at least not as much as if he had gone after Marcel. These two had never met anyone from the family, so Thomas decided they stood outside the ethic’s prohibitions. They walked a few blocks, singing drunken songs, proud of Marcel’s coins and then entered a salon with rooms for rent. Thomas stayed close behind when they entered their room. He waited a few seconds and then burst in as they counted their money.

In a complete fury, he first grabbed the one intended to spy on Xavier. He almost failed to notice the terror on his face as he crushed the man’s skull between his hands. He paused as the cranium crunched like a seashell and gore exploded all over the room. He dropped the corpse and swore under his breath. He’d waited too long. The second man had escaped the room, and his screaming brought other patrons into the hall to see about the commotion. Thomas kicked the dead body before he swiftly went into the hall and vacated the building. He could not risk going after the remaining man as he stood among all these onlookers. Instead, he went to feed, once again hungry for blood after several nights of depriving himself.

The Vampire's Quest (The Realm of the Vampire Council Book 2)

The Vampire's Protege (A Realm of the Vampire Council Novel)

The Bachmann Family Secret 
(A Realm of the Vampire Council Companion Novel)

The Vampire's Witch (The Realm of the Vampire Council Book 3)

About the Author
Damian Serbu lives in the Chicago area with his husband and two dogs, Akasha and Chewbacca. The dogs control his life, tell him what to write, and threaten to eat him in the middle of the night if he disobeys. He has published several gay horror/romance/humorous books with NineStar Press. Keep up to date with him on Facebook, Twitter, or at

$15 Amazon giftcard,
ebook copy of Santa's Kinky Elf, Simon
- 1 winner each
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Saturday, April 24, 2021

Urban Fantasy Author Kat Stiles: The Common Theme in My Books + giveaway

The Common Theme in My Books

I’ve written several series – Modified, Enhanced, Connected, and now The Vampire Cure series. At a glance, the most obvious commonality is they all have some kind of superpower in them. And it’s true—I’m kind of a superpowers junkie. I’ve watched all the superhero movies and even have a Deadpool omnibus collection of comics. But superpowers aside, there’s another common theme: strong women with issues.

And sometimes those issues are HUGE. Take Kate, from my Modified series. She’s a textbook antihero, inspired by my love of Deadpool. She makes poor life choices and has even killed people. She doesn’t have all the answers and sometimes doubts herself, as she’s learning to live with a power that’s inherently evil. I’ve gotten criticisms about her, that she’s too broken. But honestly, that’s what I love about her. She’s no Captain America, but yet she still manages to save the day and protect the people she cares about. Her many flaws and her attitude problem resonate with me. It makes her seem more human and stronger because of them.

Even with my more “normal” characters, like Cass from A Fated Exception, have issues. Hers is simply being around other people. Highly introverted, she prefers the company of computers to people—her main power allows her to communicate with computers. But for Cass, it’s more than introversion, it’s more about trust. She acquired an ability to detect when a person was lying, and for me, that power seems like an awful one to have. I mean, how could you trust anyone when you know they’re lying? Cass found it refreshing to deal with something so straightforward—inputs and outputs, on or off. Computers don’t lie or attempt to deceive, they just work off the instruction set given. Introducing an android into her world that was both human in appearance and a computer, who could possibly deceive was a fun wrench to throw in.

I love writing flawed characters with real-life issues, many of which I struggle with myself. It makes the character more believable, and the victory that much sweeter when she not only overcomes the villain but also battles her own inner demons and wins.

The Vampire Cure (The Vampire Cure Series Book 1)
by Kat Stiles
March 12, 2021
Genre: Urban Fantasy, SciFi
In the search for a cure to a viral pandemic, scientist Liz Meyer discovers something far more deadly…Vampires exist.

And what’s even more amazing, they’re immune to the virus.

Liz is both afraid and intrigued. Gifted with dreams that reveal the future, she sees how bad the pandemic will become. A blood sample could be the solution to a cure.

Sexy vampire Ryan awakens a desire within Liz, something she's never felt before. Too bad the rest of the coven want nothing more than to feast on her blood.

Can Liz get the blood she needs to find a cure? Or will it be her blood that’s taken instead?

Please note: If you're a die-hard believer in the MAGA movement, for the love of God don't buy this book. You will NOT be amused.

Fans of The Vampire Diaries series and authors like Ivy Smoak, Richelle Mead, and Bella Forest will love this sci-fi take on vampires.

Kat Stiles is a USA Today Bestselling Author, and huge fan of both sci-fi and urban fantasy. Nearly all of her stories include a super power of some kind and a strong, funny heroine. If you like The Vampire Cure, check out her other series:

Enhanced series
Connected series
Modified series

**Only .99 cents until Mar 29th!!**

Pre-order book 1

“You fight dirty,” he said, his brown eyes meeting mine. “I’ve always been a sucker for the feisty ones.”

I gulped. Maybe I could run past him. In my totally freaked out state, it was the only thing I could think of.

I faked to the left, then took a sharp turn to the right, sprinting next to the wall. I was almost past him—he made no movement to stop me, only stared, still grinning like a total creeper. But then I got the wind knocked out of me as he was suddenly on top of me, pinning me against the wall. How was he able to move so quickly?

One of his large hands held both of my wrists above my head. I tried to knee or kick him, but he pressed his body against mine, rendering me completely immobile.

“Now, I finally get to taste you…” he said, and then took a deep inhale through his nose. He opened his mouth, and his canines appeared larger and sharper than the rest of his teeth. Almost like…fangs. A forceful tilt of my head with his free hand rendered my line of sight negligible. I closed my eyes, helpless. A single tear rolled down my cheek, as I begged him to let me go.

“Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you,” he assured, and then added, “…much.”

About the Author

USA Today Bestselling Author of Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, and Young Adult Fiction.

Originally a Jersey girl, sunny Texas is where I now call home, in a town way up north in the panhandle called Wellington. I write super-powered urban fantasy that's sexy, fun and dark. For fun I like to read urban fantasy, horror, and existentialist fiction, as well as watch cartoons, movies, and sometimes even cartoon movies. I try not to take anything in life too seriously and I tend to smile often. Hop over to my website, for bonus material, fun blog posts, news about upcoming releases, and awesome giveaways!

$20 Amazon
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