March 31, 2011

Review: Outcast Mine by Jamie Craig

Outcast Mine
Author: Jaime Craig
Publisher: Carina Press
ISBN: 1426891199
Purchase Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Carina Press

*Novel provided by the publisher via NetGalley

For more information please visit Jaime Craig's website.

There is nothing Aleron Pitre can't steal, nobody he can't con and no situation he can't slip out of—until he's sent to the prison planet Tantoret, where every sentence is death. If the prisoners don't kill each other, they'll die slowly from mining the poisonous drug chojal. Yet Aleron still hopes that he can escape.

Only thirty Athaki guards keep the chaos of Tantoret in check, a race of aliens stronger and faster than their human charges. Most intimidating of all is the head guard, Jasak, who has his own reasons for being sent to Tantoret.

Amidst the darkness and desperation, Aleron and Jasak share an unexpected attraction. An attraction neither can resist when Jasak claims Aleron as his mate to protect him. Then they discover that both guards and inmates are planning a coup, while a traitor from an enemy nation threatens the whole planet. Suddenly escape from Tantoret isn't just Aleron's dream—it's a matter of survival for them both.
Outcast Mine by Jamie Craig is without a doubt one of my favorite books so far in 2011. The writing is phenomenal creating a wonderful science fiction setting filled with action and a romance that held me captive late in to the night. The charismatic characters quickly became some of my favorites proving that this writing team is definitely one to watch!

The world the authors created is was phenomenal with wonderful development that held a great descriptive quality. The unique locale of the Tantoret prison mining planet was amazingly vivid creating an atmosphere that was daunting and filled with danger. At times the claustrophobic details really added a brilliantly malevolent vibe that only added to the wonderful characterization. This was only emphasized by the complex yet easily decipherable social hierarchy made complete with the added aspects of the varies types of social struggles and rebellious agendas.

The character, however, are what truly had me hooked. From the first introductions Jasak and Aleron were completely charismatic, each showing great intelligence and strength. However, while Jasak, a hunter, was more formidable in his physicality, Aleron's strength was more evident in his uncanny ability to reason through problems and read people, skills that came in handy in his thieving profession. The instantaneous connection between these two was a crackling connection that I was eager to see develop.It definitely didn't take long until it turned scalding creating a romance and bond that at times had me holding my breath. The individual histories of these two men was also wonderfully creating with rich details and enthralling emotional appeal, especially Jasak's saddening past. Personality wise, these two couldn't have been more diverse with Jasak's deep sense of honor and Aleron's self serving nature, but together the differences really played off of each other well evolving the characters to creating a dynamic that sucked me in and left me wanting more.

But, while the main characters were by far the best aspect of the story, the supporting cast was no less developed. All the players are given well rounded development as the story slowly reveals their part in the overall plot. Histories are given for some and yet others' personalities are left to allow the reader insight into their motives. Each has a unique voice that can either be quite chilling or startling, but a few others give different perceptions of the role that the prison plays in the intergalactic war that is waging in the space beyond.

The writing style is rich and flowing with great attention to detail. The pace is quick, driven by scalding passion and great action that has an ever increasing amount of intrigue and betrayal. There is definitely a lot going on within the confining tunnels of the toxic mines that created an addictive need to see who would do what and to whom. Some had questionable motives while others are quite direct in their desires. Pair all of this with a highly emotional appeal that tethers you to the characters and by the end of the novel you are deeply invested in the outcome.

Overall, there was nothing about this novel that I didn't like. In fact, I have to say this is one of my favorite Fantasy Romances ever with a great science fiction appeal that was highly developed without being too far fetched. This was my first time reading a Jamie Craig novel, but it will not be my last! Phenomenal is definitely something that I don't say often, but this novel truly deserves it.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Scars

Advisory: Strong sexual content, m/m

March 29, 2011

Review: Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

Author: Jackson Pearce
Publisher: Little, Brown
Series: Sisters Red, Book 2
ISBN: 1444900595
Release Date: August 23, 2011
Pre-Order Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

*Novel provided by Book It Forward ARC Tours

For more information please visit Jackson Pearce's website.

SWEETLY is a modernization of Hansel and Gretel and a companion book to SISTERS RED.

Twelve years ago, Gretchen, her twin sister, and her brother went looking for a witch in the forest. They found something. Maybe it was a witch, maybe a monster, they aren’t sure—they were running too fast to tell. Either way, Gretchen’s twin sister was never seen again.

Years later, after being thrown out of their house, Gretchen and Ansel find themselves in Live Oak, South Carolina, a place on the verge of becoming a ghost town. They move in with Sophia Kelly, a young and beautiful chocolatier owner who opens not only her home, but her heart to Gretchen and Ansel.

Yet the witch isn’t gone—it’s here, lurking in the forests of Live Oak, preying on Live Oak girls every year after Sophia Kelly’s infamous chocolate festival. But Gretchen is determined to stop running from witches in the forest, and start fighting back. Alongside Samuel Reynolds, a boy as quick with a gun as he is a sarcastic remark, Gretchen digs deeper into the mystery of not only what the witch is, but how it chooses its victims. Yet the further she investigates, the more she finds herself wondering who the real monster is, and if love can be as deadly as it is beautiful.

Sweetly is the second novel in the Sisters Red series by Jackson Pearce, a series that breathes new life and brings fairy tale lore into the modern world. In this case, the novel is a great re-imagining of the story of 'Hansel and Gretel' creating a dark and enthralling world that was at times gruesome and mysterious. Nicely written with interesting twists and turns, this was a fun read that is sure to appeal to any fan of fairy tale re-tellings.

Pearce's world building is amazing as the story starts off with a thrilling chase perfectly capturing the finer nuances of the original tale. This creates a wonderful melancholy tone that gives an almost oppressive atmosphere as the heat of the setting and the emotions both serve to weigh heavily on the characters. This atmosphere is a great breeding ground for mystery and suspense, and surprisingly an enticing romance that only adds to the building pace as the sinister aspects of the plot become clear. The descriptive quality of the writing also helps to create the world, from the wonderfully intoxicating smell of the Choclatier to the malevolent and claustrophobic feeling of the woods that surround Live Oak, a deliciously small town full of interesting and often cantankerous characters.

The characters, however, are what really caught my attention. I loved Gretchen. She's such an desolate character with a deep seeded desire to save others from suffering the soul wrenching loss that she and her family endured. But, because of the circumstances surrounding her twins disappearance she is very withdrawn, knowing that to share the truth about that day only serves to make her appear crazy. Her brother Ansel is also quite appealing, though he is more easily swayed to believe that what they saw as children was nothing more then an illusion. But, because of his love of his sister and need to protect and support her, he never questions her convictions and instead trusts her even above his own reservations. There was something about that stalwart devotion that really tugged at my heart. The shared love between them is so pure, and extremely evident as Gretchen watches the romance between Ansel and Sophia flourish with nothing but hope and enthusiasm for her brother's happiness. But, as Gretchen comes to discover all the secrets Sophia is hiding she quickly becomes worried about her brother's unflinching devotion to a woman who conceals so much about herself and her past.

And as the story progresses, Gretchen comes to realize that she hasn't escaped the horrific creatures that stole her sister as she discovers the alarming string of girls that have gone missing from the small town of Live Oak. But, feeling the need to confront her fears she treads into the threatening darkness of the forest only to come face to face with the nightmare that has haunted her since her youth. Saved by local 'madman' Samuel, who plays the part of the woodsman perfectly, she comes to discover that there is someone else who shares in her terrifying knowledge, the witch she has always feared is a werewolf, or rather the Fenris, does in fact exist and is responsible for the string disappearances. The romance that quickly blooms between these two unpredictable allies was definitely one of my favorite aspects of the novel as Samuel allows Gretchen to regain not only her strength and confidence, but herself as well.

There is also a wonderful sense of mystery and suspense throughout the novel that the author perfectly captured. With concise, clipped sentences the tone is nicely set capturing the essence and emotions of Gretchen. There is also a certain amount of distance that comes through perfectly mirroring the disassociated appeal of her emotions. As the story progresses so too does the evolution of the writing, turning from mildly apathetic to more engaged with more confident thoughts as Gretchen comes to choose a new destiny for herself choosing to no longer mirror the path of the missing. As the climax begins, there is a wonderful sense of action creating a thrilling ending that perfectly complimented the build up going on throughout the novel, answering all of the underlying questions that spanned the story, plaguing not only Gretchen but her brother as well. Truly, this was a delicious culmination that was no less satisfying then the title implies.

But, while there was a lot that I loved about this novel, there were still some things that held up the flow at times. For instance, the pace was a major factor for the first half of the novel as Gretchen's character flounders to create a new life for herself leaving her childhood fears behind. It isn't until she meets Samuel that she truly opens up, creating a character that is engaging and far more interesting. Also, there seems to be an odd mentality from Gretchen at times, as she has seen the horrific dangers that lurk in the woods, but seems determined to ignore it. Often times this makes her seem fairly naive in her choices. And finally, the lack of exploration into the supernatural realm of the Fenris sort of nagged at me. They just seem to appear with no explanation in a town that seems plagued by disappearances. It just really seemed odd that they could remain undetected in such a small town where only two people was aware of their presence.

Overall, this was a fun read that captured all the wonderful elements that made 'Hansel and Gretel' a classic. This is a wonderful world full of such great potential with a writer that definitely knows how to spin a yarn unlike any other creating a series that is as addictive as the confectionery treats present within this tasty tale. Definitely a great read for fans of fairy tale re-tellings, or for any fan of Dark YA that is perfect for a quick read that will keep you utterly engaged!

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Scars

March 28, 2011

Review: Shadow of the Sun by Laura Kreitzer

Shadow of the Sun
Author: Laura Kreitzer
Publisher: Obsidian Mountain Publishing
Series: Timeless, Book 1
ISBN: 1450211758
Purchase Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

*Novel provided by the author to Book Lovin' Bitches eBook Tours.

For more information please visit Laura Kreitzer's website

Gabriella's past is a mystery, but that never stopped her from achieving her goals. As a supernatural specialist, and far more intelligent than anyone her age, she has always been ignored by her peers. Because of the isolation she has always felt, she put her life and soul into her job. Being a supernatural specialist hasn't given her the divine intervention she always longed for, until one day a shipment arrives from Italy containing three dead bodies with an uncanny ability to regenerate. Gabriella is frightened and intrigued, but not as scared as she becomes when a dark creature attacks her.

As the bodies come back to life, the plot takes an unexpected twist that you won't see coming. The supernatural world only begins to unfold before her as angels appear, her dreams start to haunt her, and the very past she has forgotten comes back with startling clarity. Romance blooms, escape plans are made, an assassin is out to kill her, and death is only around the corner. But what is more terrifying than all of it is the fact she is the chosen one, the Illuminator, the one who will save them all.

Shadow of the Sun, the first novel in the Timeless series by Laura Kreitzer, was something of a surprise for me. There have been a lot of wonderful reviews and I was eager to give this novel a try, but like most I was apprehensive about a full length novel written by an Indie author. Luckily, it was all worry for nothing! Krietzer's writing ability quickly becomes evident showing her to be just as well versed in characterization, world development and most importantly, story development as any seasoned published author and in some cases better! With wonderful characters, a unique spin on Angelic lore and a great pace, this novel is one that I can honestly say, the hype is extremely justified!

Of course, that's not to say when I started reading this novel that I instantly slid right in to the story. In fact, it took me a chapter to really come to relax into the wonderful characterization and world building within the novel. But, once I was acclimated, I really came to love the world that Kreitzer created. The original spin on Angelic lore was fascinating and I enjoyed the in-depth historical development which really brought the world to life. Yet, even though the world of the Angels is nicely rounded, as the story progresses even more tidbits and insights are given which lead to a wonderful twist in the premise as things become clear that nothing is as it appears. The amount of details within the novel was also something that I truly enjoyed. I've always been a sucker for nicely depicted settings which make the story seem to pop from the pages. But with that said I think I should bring up the old tried and true sentiment of 'moderation' as sometimes the sacrifice of details helps to keep the pace moving. In this way, the descriptive quality of the novel can be a bit too much, hampering the progress and emotional appeal of the writing.

However, there is often a fine line between just enough and too much detail. For instance, I loved the amount of detail in regards to the characters' development. The insights and wonderful emotional appeal were great to see develop and I hesitate to say that anything about the thoughts or actions slowed down the pace simply because of the insight all of the descriptions offer into their psyches and emotional ties. This really helps to build a resilient, strong and intelligent female lead that is easy to like. With lots of emotional turmoil quickly being imposed upon her, Gabriella retains her inner strength with the tender support of her self-appointed protector, and Halo of the Sun Guardian Angel, Andrew. The electrifying connection between the two quickly grows creating an simmering undercurrent of desire and devotion that leads to a flourishing relationship that really draws the reader in. The honest and often times innocent Andrew was definitely a wonderful counterpart to the more practical and skeptical Gabriella. His earnest assessment of the world and the situations they find themselves in adds some stability to even the most dire situation as he oozes confidence and calm with an underlying skein of iron clad strength. But, really this novel evolves into an ensemble piece as the other Halo of the Sun Guardians are drawn into the destiny of the Illuminator and as the ultimate battle between good and evil begins.

But, while I love the secondary characters it often becomes confusing which ones you should truly focus on as each minor character is introduced just as thoroughly as the main ones. I was often mostly confused by the part they would play in Gabriella's journey as many disappeared just as quickly as they appeared. There is also some very definite confusion as to who the main love interest in the novel will be. This led me to do something of a double take as the chemistry and development between Gabriella and Joseph seems to go to waste, though a friendship does develop it often seems abandoned with little interaction between the two. However, by the end of the novel it does appear that the relationship and bond between the two will take on a new dynamic leaving me to believe that all the build up of the varying characters may come in to play later.

The writing style was also something that surprised me a bit. There was a wonderful flow that was a great mix of concise and descriptive. The pace is nicely set with lots of action and build up though the beginning has a nice sense of supernatural mystery surrounding the slumbering Angels. But, sometimes this flow was interrupted by the in-depth descriptions of the settings as well as an unneeded repetition of thoughts and histories. Since the story reads so fast, I often found the repetition to be more of a hindrance then a help as emotions and thoughts can often be run in to the ground. But, I think what nagged at me the most was the ending. It felt that the closer you got to the end, the more the story began to flounder, only to culminate in a climax that was jumbled and sort of anti-climatic given the scope of the story. But, there is still a lot of good in the story that overshadows the more disappointing aspects, leaving me eager to find out more about this wonderful cast of characters and gather some insight into the main characters that tended to remain more in the background.

Overall, this was a rather impressive read with a wonderfully original premise that leaves you wanting to know more about this unique world. The characters are endearing and wonderfully developed with a great emotional appeal that I truly enjoyed reading, making this a great debut to what promises to be a thrilling new series.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Scars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a member of the Book Lovin' Bitches Ebook Tours and a copy was provided to me by the author. although payment may have been received by Book Lovin' Bitches Ebook Tours, no payment was received by me in exchange for this review nor was there an obligation to write a positive one. all opinions expressed here are entirely mine and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, the book's publisher and publicist or the readers of this review. this disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. 

March 26, 2011

Interview with Ashley Christman

About the Author:

Growing up on a farm in sunny Southern California, Ashley M. Christman filled her head with tales of horror, fantasy, and mythology. As she grew, she discovered the treasures of Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles and Mayfair Witches, Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake and Merry Gentry series, and of course good old Neil Gaiman.

Soon enough, Ashley set out to create worlds of her own and the type of stories that she loved so much. Her style is like a mush pot of genres, taking romance and adding horror, mythology and adding modern technology, and always bordering on the dark side. She also set out to create characters who were not so much heroes as they were anti-heroes, but always having that one redeeming quality.

What Ashley quickly discovered, when trying to take a stab at being a published author, is that the publishing world is brutal. One has to be almost masochistic to partake in it. But she kept at it, collecting enough rejections to wallpaper her bathroom and perhaps tile the floor as well. She is now proud to be a multi-published author.

When not writing, she enjoys going on paranormal investigations with her local team, avoiding the gym (though she always gives in and goes anyway), and hanging out with her partner, Tom and their dog, Colby.

About the Novel:

The gods just might be crazy.

Lucky Sands is anything but. His wife is cheating on him, his job sucks, and when she walks out on him and dies in a car crash, the only thing he can think of is drowning himself in cheap booze and cheaper sex. But when he finds his childhood friend Tuesday Peters working in a brothel, his luck takes a steep downward dive after he finds out her twin sister is dead...and that Wednesday's death was no accident. Together Lucky and Tuesday embark on a search for answers, plagued by spirits and deities alike. Every clue along their path points not just to the truth of Wednesday's murder, but to divine machinations that prove everything Lucky knows about life to be wrong--and prove there's no such thing as luck. Only fate...and the madness of the gods.
Content Warning: Murder, mystery, romance, family secrets and the madness of the gods.

Welcome to Black Lagoon Reviews, Ashley!

BLR: To begin, why don't you tell us a little bit about your newest novella 'The Witching Hour'?

AC: The Witching Hour is the story of Lucky Sands, a man whose life hasn't exactly turned out the way he wanted. When his wife leaves him, a series of events begin that lead him into the torrid affairs of the gods and force him to come to terms with the past, the present, and hopefully his future.

BLR: What inspired you while writing this novella?

AC: I was inspired a lot by the old Greek and Roman myths. The idea that the gods are ever-present figures in the lives of mortals was intriguing, especially when I mixed it with my love of film noir type heroes.

BLR: The eclectic mix of mythologies was something quite unique. What prompted you to include so many different beliefs instead of focusing on a single one?

AC: Each pantheon has its own interesting quirks and when dealing with witchcraft (which in this world many were based on wiccan believes) practitioners tend to pick a pantheon whose energies they closely relate to. By understanding the different belief systems, I was able to blend them because I found a nice mix of gods that complimented each other.

BLR: The theme of witchcraft is very predominant within your writing, what is it about the subject that appeals to you?

AC: It's not so much witchcraft as Wicca (though in fiction the reality of Wicca is too mundane to work in a fantasy type-setting). As a practicing Wiccan, it comes down to writing what you know--albeit with a lot of exaggeration.

BLR: Could you explain a bit about the world building you did within the novel? For instance, how you incorporated mythology and witchcraft into the modern setting?

AC: I started off with the concept of the gods and witchcraft and from there took our world, peppered it with elements of fantasy and thus created an urban fantasy--rich in traditional fantasy elements.

BLR: The different aspects of Wicca and mythologies involved within the story are very well developed, what sort of research did you do to prepare for it?

AC: As a practicing Wiccan with many years under my belt, Wicca is a big part of my life, as is mythology. I've spent a lifetime reading myths and tales of heroism from antiquity because there's something relatable in the stories of the gods, their champions, and their worlds. Mythology is storytelling at its most basic and finest--which its proved by hanging around for several millennia.

BLR: When approaching a story like this one with so many different ties to Wicca and mythology, where do you start? Could you walk us through your process of building the story?

AC: Thanks to my background with Wicca and mythology, I was fairly certain I could tackle the concepts in this book with ease. However, I wanted it to be interesting and take on a sort of life as a modern day myth. I ended up doing a lot of rereading of hero myths, especially Greek ones, and kind of applied that structure to my story. I also took some inspiration from film noir, which gave me some good character types to apply to my gods and be able to blend them into a modern world but still maintain a lot of their ancient personalities. The challenge was making the gods, gods, and yet having them be able to live amongst us as unnoticeable figures. I mean a god walking down the street in a Greek chiton, glowing with power is going to be hard to miss. But a god standing in front of a diner smoking a cigarette in a winter coat--that's something you'd never expect. Or even a drunk god at a bar, prattling on about women troubles…that's just strange. Plus, I liked the idea that the gods are flawed and not all powerful.

BLR: This novella focuses on a unique world with some truly interesting characters; will we be seeing more of them in your future novels? If so is there anything that you can tell us about what we can expect to see happen in the future?

AC: When I wrote The Witching Hour, I hadn't planned on using any of them in future novels, however, I've heard some great feedback about some of my more interesting minor characters and I think they might pop up again in future works.

BLR: Do you have any upcoming projects we can look forward to reading soon?

AC: My next novel, Nightingale, will be available this September 2011. I've also been writing some short stories that provide a little bit more background to the characters, which I'll provide as free downloads leading up to its release.

BLR: What advice can you offer to other aspiring writers out there eager to get started working on their own story ideas?

AC: Write the darn thing. You'd be surprised how many people get bogged down in world building (if you have a broad idea, it'll come as you write) and plotting before they ever write a single word down on paper. The result is a story that never gets told and stays in thought form.

Once you get it all down on paper, you can go back, edit and revise to your heart's content--but write it first.

BLR: What are some of your must read books/authors?

AC: Neil Gaiman (Neverwhere, American Gods, and Stardust), Laurell K. Hamilton, Anne Rice (The Vampire Lestat and Interview with a Vampire), Adlous Huxley (Brave New World), Douglas Adams (The Hitch Hiker's Guide, So Long and Thanks for All the Fish, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe), Bram Stoker (Dracula), Jason Beymer (Rogue's Curse), Sonya Clark (Mojo Queen--which I got the opportunity to read an advance copy of)--and that's just to name a few.

BLR: If you could meet any mythological figure who would it be and why?

AC: Surprisingly, that's a tough question because there are so many fantastic ones. Right off the bat, I ruled out Hercules. I imagine he's probably a bit cocky since finishing his labors and all.

Maybe I'd meet Hestia, the Greek Goddess of the Hearth because she gave up her spot as an Olympian to keep peace when Artemis wanted it and she is one of the least mentioned gods in that pantheon.

BLR: Now that we know a bit about your writing, could you tell us a bit about yourself?

AC: Well I currently live in the wilds of Northern Minnesota where I can be found during good weather watching the ships on Lake Superior when not lost in imaginary worlds. I'm active in the local arts community and can be found hanging out in a local park on a hiking trail with my faithful terrier

Thank you, Ashley, for stopping by!

To find out more about Ashley Christman and her novels you can find her here:

March 25, 2011

Review: Monster Story by McCarty Griffin

Monster Story
Author: McCarty Griffin
ISBN: 0011144777
Purchase Information:
Apple iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Diesel |  Smashwords | Sony

*Novel provided by the author via Book Lovin' Bitches eBook Tours

For more information please visit McCarty Griffin's website.

Christy McCauley has returned to West Virginia at last, but her homecoming quickly turns into a surreal nightmare. In the deep hollows and woods of rural Augusta County, something unspeakable is slaughtering people in the dark of night. Authorities don't know if its human or animal, or how to stop it. Christy and her friends only know they must hunt it and destroy it, before it kills again.

If ever there could be a horror story considered as a cozy horror, then Monster Story by McCarty Griffin is it. With a wonderful appeal that matches the campy flair of the SyFy channel's original movies, this book has a back country redneck atmosphere that was at times priceless and at others, extremely visceral. Mixed with some truly humorous characters, this is a light read that still manages to deliver all the graphic horror one could expect!

The atmosphere is nicely captured with a deep back woods 'hillbilly' appeal that was wonderfully written. It often brought to mind the movie Slither, only instead of mutant slugs we get a vicious werewolf. In truth, that's the best way to describe this novel except only with slightly less humor and a disturbing lack of Nathan Fillion. But, that aside, the world is actually pretty well captured, with ample hunting scenes, a very important past time in the back woods. The isolation of the characters' as well as the oppressive atmosphere created by the mysterious and brutal murders are nicely created making settings that were perfectly suited for a vicious monster to roam free.

The characters of the story was an eclectic mix, which isn't surprising given the amount of characters. There are some that only appear for a few pages, some a few chapters and then there are the main characters. At times, all of these characters could become a little confusing as you try desperately to remember who is who, especially when they are getting mauled and torn to pieces. But, the main characters start to become clearer as the story progresses and you come to like them. However, being that the focus is so obtuse, there is a lack of dimensionality, leaving them a bit two dimensional and few just plain flat. Yet, they all seem to play a part within the story with some offering humor, some offering minor insights, and then there's the monster himself exuding heavy doses of crazy.

The writing style is flowing and overall pretty easy to follow given the meandering scope of the novel. There is a very cinematographic quality about it that played out nicely with the amount of characters and scenes making the constant shift of characters and locations create an ever changing pace. While some passages play out more slowly then others the overall effect was actually pretty perfect for the novel despite the fact that I often don't like the use this particular technique. In fact, I found myself liking this one because of the genre of writing with the unique mix of campy horror and cozy mystery. It really seemed to fit.

There were some things that definitely needed some working on though. There were a lot of editing issues with repeated words fragments and places were grammar could be improved, and no, I'm not referring to the southern slang or phrases. I am also not sure if it was just the copy that I was given, but there were a lot of formatting errors as well, with changing fonts and font sizes that could be distracting in the frequency that it occurred. But, as a whole, most of these issues were minor and not a deterrent when reading.

Overall, this was a fun read that had some great horror aspects that at times were campy, graphic and viscerally visual, all things that I greatly loved. The tone was unique and I would say that any fan of B Movie horror, will absolutely love this novel.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 Scars

Advisory: Graphic horror related violence

Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a member of the Book Lovin' Bitches Ebook Tours and a copy was provided to me by the author. Although payment may have been received by Book Lovin' Bitches Ebook Tours, no payment was received by me in exchange for this review nor was there an obligation to write a positive one. All opinions expressed here are entirely mine and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, the book's publisher and publicist or the readers of this review. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

March 23, 2011

Review: Rush of Darkness by Rhyannon Byrd

Rush of Darkness
Author: Rhyannon Byrd
Publisher: HQN Books
Series: Primal Instinct, Book 7
ISBN: 037377558X
Release Date: March 29, 2011
Pre-Order Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

*Novel provided by the publisher via NetGalley

For more information please visit Rhyannon Byrd's website.


Raine Spenser is on the brink. Held prisoner because of her abilities, Raine—a powerful psychic as well as vampire desperately needed a savior. But the last one she expected was the green-eyed soldier who’d once hunted her kind. Since her rescue, she’s tried to forget Seth McConnell, unable to cope with the strange, simmering attraction that draws her to the compelling human.

But their goals—find the Kraven who held Raine captive and destroy him—are the same. The ever-growing web of danger surrounding them draws these two unlikely allies closer together, and anger slowly turns into an explosive passion they’re finding harder and harder to deny....

Rush of Darkness, the seventh novel in Rhyannon Byrd's popular paranormal romance series Primal Instinct,  is an ensnaring and scalding read full of great emotional appeal, endearing and tortured characters and a thrilling plot that leads the pair on a wonderfully written adventure culminating in an epic battle that leaves you craving more!

This installment of the series follows Raine Spenser and Seth McConnell, characters who were brought together in the previous novel, which I hadn't read, and are both about as tortured and traumatized as can be. Their heart wrenching histories are tragic, creating two broken and lost souls who throw themselves whole heartedly into their respective missions. Coming into this series so late with little to no clue about what was going on, I found this story to be absurdly easy to step into. Byrd's writing style is wonderfully descriptive and insightful thrusting you under the characters' very skins. This can also be said of the world itself with the various plots and factions, from the good guys to the bad. The histories are wonderfully recreated to allow for effortless plot development, so even if this is your first transgression into the Primal Instinct series, you are not left behind or confused about anything within the plot of this novel.

The characters are endearing from the first sentence to the last with phenomenal chemistry that had me eagerly anticipating the connection that was to come. Both are completely open, with great emotional appeal that immediately drew me into tho their lives with an almost maddening build up of sexual tension. With tragic pasts that were amazingly revealed I was at times heart broken by the atrocious acts committed against them. Yet, it is this bone deep heart break that binds these characters so irrevocably. Raine, after being kidnapped, raped and brutalized, gives herself over to her underlying guilt over her sisters murder and loses herself in her need for vengeance. Seth, feeling an unexplainable connection to her, seeks her out in order to protect her, even from herself as he is no stranger to the addictive pull of revenge. The immediate chemistry between them is engrossing, the almost constant infighting quickly developing into something more. As both surrender to their desires, the sacrificial love between them grows creating some wonderful moments that I couldn't help but love. Truly, these two create an open, emotionally charged relationship steeped in rich history that can be tender and empathetic, despite or perhaps because of the almost constant verbal antagonism, and turned in to one of the best romances I've had the pleasure of  reading.

The amazing writing style was fluid with a great pace filled not only with the alluring romance between the characters, but action as well. With tensions running high and time running out, the ever expanding scope of the novel was also a great attribute, bringing in more and more characters as the final showdown between the Kraven and the Watchmen come to a head leaving some great openings for the next installment.

Overall, this was my first time entering into the Primal Instinct world, but it will not be my last. As in love these characters as I am, I will definitely be hunting up the previous novels to find out even more about this addictive and simmering world where passion and action run rampant!

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Scars

Advisory: Some sexual content

March 22, 2011

Review: Surrender the Dark by L.A. Banks

Surrender the Dark
Author: L.A. Banks
Publisher: Pocket Books
Series: Angels Series, Book 1
ISBN: 1451607784
Release Date: March 29, 2011
Pre-Order Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

*Novel provided by the publish for a honest review

For more information please visit L.A. Banks' website.
Celeste Jackson has fought all her life against a fog of hallucination and substance abuse, but it's not until she meets her protector, Azrael, an angel who has left the safety of the Light, that she learns of the evil forces that have been trying to ruin her, and why.

A fierce battle for control of the mortal realm is brewing, and only Celeste—with the help of the Remnant, her half-human, half-angel brethren—can stand in the way. Together, Celeste and Azrael must gather an army of sensitives to defeat the dark powers that have ruled humanity for centuries, but time is running out.

If Azrael surrenders to his growing desire for Celeste, he risks being trapped among humanity forever. But the longer he stays, the harder she is to resist. To save the world, Celeste must draw on her own dark experiences with addiction to help Azrael overcome the one temptation that could possibly make him an eternal prisoner-his obsession with her.

Best selling author L.A. Banks' newest novel Surrender the Dark is the enthralling beginning to an angelic series with great themes focusing on good vs. evil and light versus dark. With characters that must rally themselves through blind faith, hope and selflessness this novel was both heart warming and thought evoking with never ending action and a smoldering romance that had me captivated late into the night.

The characters of this story are unique and amazingly well developed complete with flaws and regrets that are easily relatable to readers. Dealing with things such as substance abuse, physical abuse, plight and self worth issues the main character Celeste is the epitome of hopelessness. And yet, despite her situation and in large part due to the appearance of a sexy warrior angel named Azrael, she manages to pull herself from the brink of suicide to accept her frightening and impossible destiny. Suffering from a potential mental illness, she often questions her own sanity about the situation she comes to find herself in and instead finds it necessary to rely on her belief in the Light and her heart, feeling the truth behind the insane story of Azrael's claim to be an Angel. Azreal himself is no less complex as his fall from the Light causes him to question his own faith as well as his convictions that conquering the Darkness is worth the potential of collateral damage. After becoming attached to Celeste, he comes to feel human emotions and realizes that the loss of even a single human life is tragic. Growing from an almost naive mindset, he comes to become a true warrior of the Light, his hope and faith tethered to Celeste's unflinching acceptance of her role as a Remnant, someone who will help influence the battle in favor of the Light. Yet, while the individually they are interesting and complex with an amazingly deep evolution arising from their journey, it is the growing romance between them that was the clincher for me.

From the beginning the potential for their romance is a simmering background noise, subtle yet the tension is unbelievably alluring. The almost instantaneous trust that grows between them, despite the impossibility of the truth, was instantly endearing. As the story progress the tension grows and the questioning nature of the characters makes for an interesting and intense build up as Azreal accepts the cost of falling to be with Celeste. Yet, Celeste's guilt over such an action was marvelously written, tinting every action and thought with unthinkable love and tenderness. As the pace becomes more immediate, so too does the connection between these two characters and the journey they take together is one that is impossible not to be drawn into.

And I also feel the need to mention the secondary characters within the novel. All have a nicely developed history with individual histories full of pain, loss, regrets and flaws. Each of them serves to play a part in the on going war between the Light and the Darkness and yet they all suffer from flagging faith and a severe lack of faith making most of these rogue angels a hairs breadth from being Fallen. The amazing stories that these characters have make you crave to get to know them better, and even in their brief stints, I came to care quite a bit for them and look forward to seeing what happens to them in future novels.

The world this novel takes place in was also quite enthralling. Nicely developed with lush details and vivid atmospheres, Banks' has an unprecedented knack of drawing you into the story making you see the world through the eyes of her intuitive characters. With a great sense of spirituality that is practical and touching, the thought evoking messages within the novel definitely make one consider the benefits of simple random acts of kindness and their effect on those around us. Putting a lot of her own heart felt beliefs about Light and Darkness and their effects on economical and sociological issues, Banks' definitely creates a novel that speaks to its readers encouraging love, faith and hope within one's life.

Like other novels written by Banks' the writing is superb, perfectly catching the pitch and slang of the regions in which she sets the novel. Flowing writing makes it easily accessible and highly engaging creating an amazing emotional and spiritual quality that makes reading this novel not only a journey but an experience.

In fact, the only thing that I found 'wrong' in this novel was the climax. Wonderfully written and masterful, the epic battle lives up to everything readers have come to expect from an L.A. Banks novel. However, in this particular case it felt a bit rushed with chaos erupting all over the place. Subsequently, we are propelled from one scene to the next with a mind boggling lack of transition and fluidity. It was like seeing a highlight reel of the battle that after the amazing journey felt completely at odds with the rest of the novel, but it was only a slight disappointment considering the rest of this wonderful book.

In the end, this novel was touching, heart warming, deep, thought evoking and awe inspiring with a great romance and journey that draws you into the world and the characters that reside within it. This is definitely one novel that I highly recommend to fans of Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy. I can't wait for the next wonderful installment!

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Scars

Advisory: Some Sexual Content

March 21, 2011

Winner! - Lucky Leprechaun

Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop Winners!

Before I announce the lucky winner of my first giveaway hop, I just wanted to thank everyone for making this event so hugely successful. I hope that you all had fun and that you will all return for The Fool For Books Giveaway Hop coming April 1-2.
Now, without further delay, the winner of the Lucky Leprechaun Pot o'Books is:


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Review: Shadow Walker by L.A. Banks

Shadow Walker
Author: L.A. Banks
Publisher: Createspace
Series: Neteru Academy, Book 1
ISBN: 1456537431
Purchase Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

*Novel provided by Book It Forward Arc Tours

For more information please visit L.A. Banks' website.

Set in a post-apocalyptic world following the Armageddon, in Shadow Walker, the teenage children of the world’s Guardians of the Light must learn to hone their extra-sensory talents to one day join in the battle with their parents.

While they are secreted away in the Temt Tchaas Academy, (aka Neteru Academy), these students must learn to fight evil as well as learn to resist the temptation of fighting with each other. Although these young people have super powers, they still struggle with the same dramas and insecurities like any other high school student – and just because their parents may be superhuman doesn’t mean their parents are perfect. Far from it. That only makes life more confusing, as peer pressure, budding romances, decisions about whether or not to snitch, or whether or not to use one’s supernatural gifts for personal gain must be sorted out.

In this coming of age story, Sarah Rivera and her twin brother, Alejandro, must figure out when to use their wings or fangs, how to get along with their compound siblings, how to fit in with others in a huge new school, and perhaps most importantly, how to pick their battles to always fight for what is right.

From the world of L.A. Banks’ popular world of the Vampire Hunter Legends, comes a new young adult series following in the adult versions footsteps. Shadow Walker, the debut novel in the Neteru Academy series is an imaginative and enthralling novel that foretells of the epic battle between Light and Dark, introducing the new breed of Guardians who will protect humanity. Told with truly captivating prose, this novel brought to life a world and cast of characters that were instantly endearing and one of a kind showing exactly why this author’s work has been so hugely successful.

The world building is initially what drew me in. While this was my first time stumbling into Banks’ writing, I was instantly drawn into the history and lore of the Vampire Huntress Legens series. Down to the smallest details, this world is brought to life with epic battles and fascinating creatures that haven’t been dreamt of since Harry Potter, and if ever there was a series capable of matching that particular franchise, this could quite possibly be it. The blending of mythologies and science was truly captivating as Banks describes a world left in chaos after the ascension of the Darkness. Everywhere danger may be lurking, which is only made more palpable by students going missing out of one of the most well guarded buildings left in all of the world. This sets a fast paced tone that propels the characters on a mission not only to save their fellow students, but the school as well.

The characters themselves were instantly identifiable, with a group dynamic that was wonderfully written which truly made this into a spectacular ensemble read. The group dynamics mirror the angst of the main characters which only serves to make the story more compelling as you root for the characters to come together and work out their growing differences. While all of the characters are highly developed and engaging, the story follows Sarah Rivera, a smart and compassionate protagonist who cares deeply for those around her. The daughter of famous warriors Demali and Carlos Rivera, she is thrust into the limelight to suffer through the embarrassment and inner pain of simply having to endure a place within their shadow after being prophesized to become one of the predominant warriors in the next apocalyptic battle. The feelings of inadequacy plague her as she endures being sent into the new environment of the academy which ultimately sets up a fount of emotions as she deals with feelings such as exclusion, lust, and self worth. Likewise, many of her compound siblings also suffer with the feelings of fitting in within a new environment as well as coming to terms with their own individuality outside of their accepted ‘familial’ group. Peer pressure and budding romance serve as only a few of the underlying messages the author tries to impart to readers, making this novel not only dramatic but relevant as the attributes of kindness and consideration are presented to the reader.

The romance development within the novel also deserves quite a bit of mention as well because there is no doubt that Banks’ knows how to write it. From almost the beginning chemistry is brought into play as Sarah is put in the position of experiencing her first feelings of desire for not only her compound brother Val, but for Wil, a friendly and encouraging ally in the social minefield of the Academy. With two amazing suitors that she feels strongly towards, Sarah is drawn into an angst ridden battle between her heart and soul as she tries to decide how to deal with her feelings towards the two equally alluring males in her life.

But, underlying all of this is a great sense of adventure in a world where nothing is ever truly as it seems. The masterfully created action scenes within were colorfully written making them vivid and quite visceral as the students and Guardians alike struggle to find the missing students. The surrounding mystery was full of some amazing twists that I never saw coming and some realizations that made encompassed the phrase ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. The steady buildup through out the novel is perfectly led into a quick but creative climax and left the world ripe for yet another round of drama within the next installment which I can’t wait to read!

Overall, this was a great heart warming novel that kept me enthralled with its imagery and world development. The characters were interesting and endearing and the romance was maddening. With so many things left to explore it can easily be surmised that the following novels will be equally if not more amazing then the first. Fans of urban fantasy, paranormal romance and young adult novels with a heavy focus on a character’s journey will absolutely love this!

My rating: 4 out of 5 Scars

March 20, 2011

Review: His Elle by Jemima Valentino

His Elle
Author: Jemima Valentino
Purchase Information:
Amazon | Smashwords

*Novel provided by the author via Book Lovin' Bitches eBook Tours.

For more information please visit Jemima Valentino's website.

A creature of beauty and intelligence is a rare breed, especially one who so wantonly offers the submission of her soul to another.

Through a chance meeting at an urgent care clinic, Elle and her Master soon fall unintentionally and desperately in love, embarking on a deeply intense BDSM relationship. Knowing they must soon part, Elle is pushed further than ever before. Through one final limitless display of submission, expertly guided by her Master, can Elle truly release her fears and give him all of her heart?

His Elle by Jemima Valentino is definitely a different type of romance then those that I have become accustomed to reading. You would think that it was simply because of the BDSM theme, but no. The end result was that this turned out to be an intense and dramatic read that is certainly not for the faint of heart.

Valentino’s writing style is certainly one of the elements that I enjoyed about this story. With unflinching detail paid to the characters and their proclivities, there is little question about the feelings, emotions or desires of those involved. The simple settings of the story play a large part in creating the down home domestic quality of the atmosphere. Truly, this brings the BDSM lifestyle from the less glamorous clubs to a more accessible setting as the two characters explore the boundary of their soon to be dissolved union.

However, while the creation of the settings was largely successful, I felt that the character development was severely lacking. In large part this was due to the fact that I simply couldn’t connect to them and the more direct explanation is that I really just didn’t much care for them as a whole. Dr. originally comes off likable, or at least until you discover that he has a wedding ring and still pursues Elle to be his sub. Not that infidelity was the true turn off, but it’s definitely one of those niggling details that eats away at me. Add to that the verbal degradation, which yes, I do get people like that sort of thing, but it just made me see him as a complete and utter jerk. And as if those strikes against him weren’t enough, the fact that after this final rendezvous he is to return home to his wife and child leaving Elle high and dry. Of course, she knew it was coming, but it didn’t detract from the selfishness of her master. Elle herself, however, didn’t fair much better in my eyes as all I saw was weakness. What more can I say other then that? I just saw too little there to detract from either participants decisions to carry on an extramarital affair, or from what I would consider an abusive relationship given the brief context of their affiliation.

The romance itself, as can be surmised, was a little lacking in my eyes. With the addition of knife play, something that really, really didn’t appeal to me, I was pretty much just gritting my teeth waiting for their connection to become more emotionally grounded. That’s not to say that there weren’t a lot of emotions flying because I will concede that Valentino captured the fear and arousal of her characters perfectly. In fact, this was about all that saved the novella in my eyes, because without the highly in depth appeal of this emotional insight, I would have probably ended up not finishing this story.

So what could have changed for this novel to appeal more to me? Honestly, it wasn’t that there was anything lacking. Characterization was good; I just didn’t particularly care for the characters. World building was nicely done as well, as was the emotional build up of the novel. Some of the scenes played out within the novel weren’t to my tastes, but again, this wasn’t done poorly, it was just something that personally didn’t appeal to me. The same can be said of the situation that the characters found themselves in. Again, something that bothers me deeply is the lack of trust within a relationship, especially when one member is a Dom. Seriously, trust is suppose to be number one there and I really think instead of philandering with his patients he should have simply discussed what he needed with his wife. Maybe they could have tried to work it into their relationship, or he should have simply allowed her the right to leave.

Overall, while this novel may not have appeal to my sense of romance nor my sense of moral behavior, I can’t argue the fact that this was a well written story. Valentino proves herself to be a wonderful writer and though this may not have been my cup of tea, I would certainly be interested in reading more of her work in the future.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 Scars

Advisory: Strong sexual content, graphic BDSM themes including Knife Play

Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a member of the Book Lovin' Bitches Ebook Tours and a copy was provided to me by the author. Although payment may have been received by Book Lovin' Bitches Ebook Tours, no payment was received by me in exchange for this review nor was there an obligation to write a positive one. All opinions expressed here are entirely mine and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, the book's publisher and publicist or the readers of this review. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.