Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Operation Dark Angel: The Rise of Nicolaitanes (The Apocalypse #1) by Pam Funke

This book is not a genre that I typically read which may go a very long way toward explaining why I had such a difficult time getting into the story. The story revolves around the birth, life and goals of Nicolaitanes Balac and his desire to rule the world. Peripheral characters  are brought into his "camp" to accomplish this goal and become major players in Nicolaitanes' plans.

From a miraculous conception to his meteoric rise to power, the lead male character is quietly ruthless and most of the time, careful to hide the evil within from the people surrounding him.He claims to be working for world peace, but is he really? Why is he bringing together such a disparate collection of individuals? Who is the voice that is talking to people, commanding them?

Once again, I tried to expand my reading "boundaries." Unfortunately, I was not successful this time. The story is well written, and also seemed to be well edited. Without a doubt, the author was meticulous in her research and knowledgeable of her subject as she wove her story. Her characters were believable as was the plot. I was simply unable to connect to either the story or the characters. I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available from Amazon and Smashwords.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Final Hour of the Hunter; Midnight Hunter Trilogy, Book 3 by Bonnie Bernard

Donna, Hunter and all their friends have been enjoying a peaceful two years since the end of the Underworld war. That all changes when Ursula, a vengeful goddess of Chaos shows up making demands. Donna can either provide a lock of hair from each of the twins, or those she loves will start disappearing. Of course, she refuses, Josh and Jaz are the children of two of her best friends.

New characters have come out to play; the Trickster (who stole the original book of prophecy from Raoul and Frederick), Ursula, goddess of Chaos, and Mara (Somebody has a wife they thought had died.). Once again, not everyone is who they seem to be. Alicia (goddess of perfect female beauty) is back and sticking her cute nose in where it doesn't belong, at least according to the rules. But hey, what's a little rule bending if no one else finds out, right?

One by one, people important to Donna start disappearing, each one a little closer to home. Cassie is the first one to go missing and Howie and the kids aren't one bit happy. Bernard has really amped up the volume for the final book in the trilogy. In addition to people going missing, someone is messing with the minds of ordinary humans. Thanks to Ursula, the whole town has just gotten a lot crazier, more paranoid and she's not done yet.

This is the best book of the trilogy with some surprises at the end. I also hope that the ending was just a taste of another trilogy to come. If so, I'm definitely going to pick it up. There were a few errors, but overall, I enjoyed the book enough that I didn't want to see it end. I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Dawn of the Hunter; Midnight Hunter Trilogy, Book 2 by Bonnie Bernard

Donna is happily married to Hunter and raising their first child, Lucinda. Best friend Mo is doing her best to raise her son, not quite alone. She's a frequent visitor and is now seeing Trent. All is not peace and harmony though. Mo still doesn't like Hunter and the feeling is mutual. She also doesn't like Donna's newest friend, Jacqelina, whom she feels is up to no good. Of course, Mo's right.

Lucinda is kidnapped and Donna gets a visit from the disgraced Underworld goddess of beauty. Alicia tells her she will need the help of the demon Howie Evil to rescue her daughter. Instead of waiting for help from the vampires she and Hunter share the house with like she was told, Donna rushes off like the fearful mother she is to demand his help. The contrary, ornery demon comes through, not only restoring Lucinda to her mother, but rescuing the Prophecy Reader as well.

Howie is such a character. He owns a gun shop and creates special weapons for his supernatural customers. He also hates "stupid" humans. Of course, there aren't any smart ones, but that's beside the point. Howie kept me in stitches. He is so hateful you pretty much have to love him. His behavior is contrary to what he says. He makes it his goal to keep the stupid humans afraid of him, but that doesn't last for very long. Howie is full of Bernard's signature wit. Even though he's a supporting character, Howie is one of my favorite in this story. No matter how rude or offensive he gets, I just can't help smiling.

The Child of the Prophecy and the Prophecy Reader must be protected at all costs. That job seems to be much easier than convincing Donna's and Mo's parents of the need to move in with Donna and Hunter for their own safety. They also have to convince their parents demons and vampires exist.

There is no doubt Dawn of the Hunter is just as engaging as the first book. Bernard has done it once again. There were a couple of missed editing/proofreading errors (less than a handful) that created a hiccup in my reading, but I thoroughly enjoyed this second installment of the Midnight Hunter Trilogy. It was definitely worth my time to reread this book. The 3-star rating is strictly due to the missed errors, otherwise I would have happily given this book 4 stars.

This book is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Midnight Hunter; Midnight Hunter Trilogy, Book 1 by Bonnie Bernard

Take a college girl dreaming of a strange man while pursued by another, add a best friend who knows more than she'll admit, throw in a little reincarnation, a few paranormal characters and you have Bonnie Bernard doing what she does best. Welcome to a paranormal romance with a side of prophecy, chaos and revenge.

What's a girl to do when her best friend insists you have to go with her to a club for high school kids? Why, go with her, of course! What Donna McCormick doesn't know about the darker side of town could get her killed. Her best friend didn't tell her she's the bait to catch a serial kidnapper, one who's been grabbing girls from the club that aren't seen again and just happen to fit Donna's description. Anger, hurt feelings, a brief argument later and Donna agrees to be the bait anyway.

There's more wrong in town than tall blonde girls going missing. The police aren't doing anything about it and couldn't care less. Anyone on the force who does, turns up missing. Things are getting strange in town and are about to get stranger and more dangerous. Cryptic warnings from a strange man hiding in the shadows, rescued by the same man after a bizarre encounter with the police and Donna couldn't get any more confused. Her dreams are becoming nightmares that leave bruises behind when she wakes up.

Bernard has created a great fantasy world with a wonderful cast of paranormal characters. She's taken what we thought we knew about vampires and put a new twist on them. And of course her signature wit just makes it even better. I enjoyed this book so much the first time I read it that I immediately bought the sequels and tore through them as well. I've read this book a few times and expect I'll be reading it again sometime. Each time the experience is just as good as the previous.

For me, this was a fun, easy read. I enjoyed her characters immensely. The way they interact with each other kept me entertained all the way through. Dante, Trent, and Samee are a blast. Mo, the best friend is just too much fun, too suspicious of everyone, but a girl couldn't ask for a better best friend. I would so love to see each of these characters get their own book. (Hint, hint, Bonnie).  Make sure to read the other books in the series as well. Definitely worth the time.

This book is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. At the time of this review, Midnight Hunter was free at all three booksellers.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Awaken by HJ Daly

The war with Alphamore is over but Esa still isn't safe. There are people out there who fear the amount of power she wields. If they can't force her to use her power for their benefit, they don't want her running around free. And for them, dead is a better choice.

Early on the friends are attacked and Esa is injured. Thomas stumbles upon them in the aftermath of the fight and takes them to his father's home. As he learns something about how hard the last two years have been for Esa, she discovers not everyone is grateful for her part in ending the war. Feared and unwanted at every turn, Esa finds even love can hide the face of an enemy.

Esa still carries the emotional scars from the war and only her trust in Rootu keeps her sane. Only the knowledge that she is all he has left in the world keeps her from completely giving up. Tired of fighting and death, all she wants is someplace to call home where she can live in peace. That's not going to happen. Another power is rising and everyone needs to be afraid. It has its eye on Esa and will use her to get what it wants. Life altering choices are going to be made and death is in someone's future.

Unlike the first book, I was pulled into Awaken immediately and it didn't let go. I am absolutely not a night person. I like sleeping when it's dark out. Yet this book grabbed onto me and didn't let go until the end, at 3:30 in the morning. Then it ended on a cliffhanger. Daly has earned the fifth star with this book. The next one cannot come out soon enough for me. Although the book will stand alone alright, you will get much more out of it by reading Pulse first. I was gifted this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Coffin Girls, Elegantly Undead by Aneesa Price

I read this after having read the second book in the series and I think that's okay. Both books are complete unto themselves, yet work very well together seamlessly. I loved Price's definition of "coffin girls," aka: casket girls. Nope, not defining it for you, you'll have to read the book.

This book has it all and in spades. There's vampires, witches, vampire witches, a voodoo queen, a werewolf and an interesting collection of other supernatural characters. Stirring everything up is one of the most oddball senses of humor I've come across in a book. Price's quirky humor is all over the place, from the poor distraught maid-of-honor, to the ghosts spying on a delegation of witches. She kept it going. Her phrasing is just exquisite. I laughed out loud (?!), and more than once. Things just pop up out of nowhere at you and you can't help yourself.

From a wedding on the plantation to rescuing kidnapped witches from power hungry vampires, there's nothing slow about this story. The characters are well developed with each one having strengths and weaknesses of their own. The fun the characters have with each other kept me smiling. I enjoyed Miss Suzette and her Cajun mama ways of taking care of the girls and anyone else who stepped into her kitchen. Raulf was my favorite character in this story, so I hope I can look forward to seeing him feature in his own book someday.

There were problems in the editing that detracted from the story somewhat, but I was hooked. I enjoyed the story immensely. I really wanted to give this book four stars. Unfortunately, due to the errors missed in beta reading/editing I wasn't able to do so. The three star rating is strictly due to the errors in the book. I am most certainly looking forward to revisiting these characters and enjoying their escapades in future books. I was gifted this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Pulse by HJ Daly

This story is set in a post-apocalyptic world sometime after a pulse has taken down the barrier between the "first world" (ours) and the "second world." Although the residents of the second world have always been able to see our world through the barrier, humans have never even been aware of another world existing alongside theirs.

The protagonist in this story is a young orphan girl named Esa. Living on the streets and fending for herself, Esa doesn't trust anyone. A hard life of living on the streets and doing what ever it takes to survive has taught her nothing is free, and trusting someone else can be fatal. Night is coming and Esa needs to find someplace to spend it. Having found shelter from the night and pouring rain, Esa finds she is sharing her shelter with Rootu, a spinner from second world. He rapidly becomes one if the few people she learns to trust.

A war is brewing in second world and beginning to spill over into ours. Elves, humans, mages, goblins, and a host of fantastical creatures will be taking sides fighting an evil that wants ultimate power over both worlds. Someone is looking for Esa and she needs to stay alive long enough to find out why. Along the way she meets people willing to befriend and protect her. A life alone hasn't prepared her for the role she must play in the upcoming war. Visions sometimes let her know how a friend is doing and other time offer dire warnings she has to solve.

I had a bit of a time getting into this book. It wasn't until around chapter 3 I realized I really liked this book. The characters are well developed Their personalities came through very clearly. I loved Rootu and his pets, the way he'd scamper off when he saw something interesting. He's probably my favorite support character. Just when I thought I knew what was going to happen, the characters did or said something else.

Although this story wrapped up well, there were comments made by characters that lead me to think the author had left herself open for at least one sequel. I haven't looked yet to see if there is a sequel, but I  certainly hope so. I would love to visit this worldscape and these characters again. I was gifted this book in exchange for an honest review. I've only given it three stars because it took a little perseverance for me initially to get into the story. Once there, I was hooked.

This book is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Luck of the Weissensteiners: The Three Nations Trilogy, Book 1 by Christoph Fischer

This story begins in the decade prior to World War II, in a small town in Czechoslovakia called Bratislava, and follows two families through the war. I've read several books over the years written both by survivors and first hand accounts of witnesses to the tragedies and atrocities committed during the Holocaust. It was obvious to me from the attention to detail in the story that the author was meticulous in his research. The minutiae of everyday life somehow made the events portrayed much more real to me. Sometimes I feel disconnected when I read, that wasn't the case here. I was grateful for the slow pace at which the story moved in the beginning; it gave me time to absorb what was happening and develop a connection to the characters.

Fischer accurately portrays the cares and concerns of life in this time period for people living both in the city and the country. That attention to detail is reflected in the daily lives of the Weissensteiners and Winkelmeiers. Greedy men gobbled up land and possession that had been taken from Jews without regard for the hardships their former owners had to endure because of that loss.

Fischer captures the tension Jews felt as Hitler's armies pressed closer to Bratislava. Wilma's fear after being attacked on the bridge is palpable. The fear of being discovered as Jewish was very real and the penalties were stiff. I couldn't agree with the Winkelmeiers sending Greta and Ernst back to her family. After all, they were his grandparents. But they too had a very real fear of being discovered in the act of harboring and protecting their Jewish daughter-in-law and grandson.

What Fischer accomplished for me that no other author to date has, was present how rational, thinking people could possibly accept the lies they were being fed about the Jewish people in a way that I could almost understand. That has always confused me. Yet, as I watched how Wilhelm responded to the allegations, and gradually began accepting them, I developed an understanding of how thorough the Hitler propaganda machine really was.

This was not a comfortable nor easy book to read. Given the subject matter, I don't think it should be. I was at times tense, nervous, scared, relieved and hopeful. Although I wasn't able to read the book through without putting it down and getting some distance from the story, I am still giving it five stars. The story affected me deeply and helped me to understand a little better a very dark time in human history.

For me, this is a must read book. We should never forget what was done to so many millions of people. Fischer has given a voice to a sector I'd not yet heard from in this era. Well researched, well written, well edited. An excellent story. I would definitely read the other books in this series. I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available from Amazon and Smashwords.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Secrets of the Malkin by Virginia Ripple

Set in a post-apocalyptic world, Nadine is a social worker that tries to help as many families as possible. She is also a Malkin, a cat that talks with the same reasoning skills as the human she is partnered with. Many humans believe the plague that killed so many was caused cats and they should be exterminated. After narrowly escaping an attack herself, Nadine learns she was only hired to because it was good PR and her belief that she can do any good is broken.

On her way home, she hears a story of a Malkin that can heal the spirits of both cat and human and sets out to try to find the elusive healer. Her journey is filled with danger, new friends and lessons in self-discovery. Can healing happen where there is no trust? Can truth be found in a heart that can't forgive?

This is a great short story that parallels so much in our world today. On the one hand, this was an easy read. I loved the characters in the story and their personalities. On the other, the fear and prejudice made it a little more difficult to read. In spite of that, I want to see where Nadine's journey takes her. I will definitely be reading the other books in this series. I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available from Amazon, and Smashwords.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Dragon Wars by Emily Fogle

The story revolves around Danny Warren, a young boy who is frequently bullied by Kevin Brady, "every kids' worst nightmare" in middle school. The one person not afraid to stand up to him is Milly Parker, who has known him since kindergarten. In an attempt to keep Danny off the bully's radar, the principal sends Danny home from school for the rest of the day after a teacher catches Kevin about to punch him. At home, his mother sends him to his room to unpack his things, something he has put off doing for as long as possible.

After his father's death the previous year in a car accident, his mother decided to move to a new house in a new town to escape the memories that filled their old home. All he felt in the new house was lonely and sad; he wanted things to go back to the way they were. While storing his pictures, baseball trophies, and equipment inside a bench under the window, he discovers a hollow space under one of the boards at the bottom. Inside, he finds a box beautifully carved with dragons and a book.

Danny has always loved dragons. Opening the book, he finds a treasure trove in the form of beautifully detailed drawings of dragons and a story of their world. He learns from reading that the way to enter their world is to believe. Just believe. This is a beautiful story about a young boy's trip to a fantasy world with dragons and other fantastical creatures. While there, he is found and befriended by the dragon carved on the outside of the box.

The dragon's world is in trouble and Danny is driven to help fix things. Along the way, he faces trials that place him squarely in the center of a war and finds an inner strength he didn't know he had. This is a beautiful story about a boy who finds the will and strength to stand up for himself as he helps his friends. Well written, well edited, this story was a pleasure to read.

I was gifted this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.While an excellent book, I am only giving it four stars. I enjoyed the story immensely, but I was still able to put it down when it came time to take care of other things. I reserve five-star status for books that pull me in until I've lost all track of time and conscious awareness of anything else going on around me.

This book is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Protectors: Destined, Book 1 by Taylor-Grace Davis

Only eighteen, Taylor Scott has moved to England to live with her godfather while studying to be a surgeon. Instead of taking her home with him, he drops her off at what will be her first apartment as an adult. Taylor quickly makes friends with the girl next door, lands a job in a boutique run by a very nice older woman and gains the interest of a good looking young man in one of her classes. All would be great except for the nightmarish dreams that keep plaguing her.

Unknown to Taylor, she has a role to play in the ongoing fight of good versus evil. When she is finally told of her destiny, Taylor refuses to accept it. Evil is hiding behind some very charming faces. Destined is another twist on a familiar plot.

The author displays a lot of promise in her ability to weave a story. Unfortunately, that potential was not realized in this story. Sections of her descriptive narratives are over done and in other places don't contribute anything of value to the story. In its current state, the story does not live up to the claim in the book blurb of being a masterpiece. A great deal of editing/proofreading is needed before it can stand up to that.

Did I like the story? Absolutely. Would I like to read more from this author and this series in particular? Most certainly. I would like to see the next book in the series have proper editing, and in fact, this book would benefit from the same. Had this book been properly edited, I would have gladly given it four stars. The rating is strictly because of the lack of editing. Due to the fact that the story read more like a work in progress, I am not able to do so. I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 2 stars

This book is available from Amazon.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Supernatural Seduction, Coffin Girls Book 2 by Aneesa Price

I have not yet read the first book in this series. I was gifted this book in exchange for an honest review. The primary focus of this story is Sophie, a vampire-witch who is a very powerful but untrained empath, and Sylvain, a fae prince. Sophie is one of the Coffin Girls, a group of vampire witches in service to the Goddess. As part of that duty, they go after supernatural bad guys, rescue kidnapped witches, run a school to train young witches in their powers and run a wedding planning business out of an old southern plantation.

Sophie is drawn to Sylvain, but is unsure if the feeling is mutual. When he notices her empathic abilities threaten to harm her, or worse, he offers to have one of his subjects train her in the use of her empathic abilities. This turns out to be a good thing all the way around because she gets to spend more time with the very sexy prince.

While I did like the story, there were several errors that got in the way of completely enjoying it. There were several places where the incorrect pronoun was used and one or more words were missing from the text. These editing errors diluted what would have otherwise been a great book. In spite of these problems, I do plan to read the other books in the series. Hopefully, the editing/proofreading will be more thorough by the time I read them. Due to the errors, I can only give this book three stars.

This book is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Wicked Souls by Sabrina Samples

Spencer very clearly remembers her wedding to David and the year that followed. Driving home after a weekend with his parents, she swerves to miss a man dressed in white standing in the middle of the road and crashes. Spencer survives with minimal injuries while David has to stay overnight at the hospital. The morning after coming home from the hospital with David, she wakes up and finds that he has died sometime in the night. Spencer's life is about to get more interesting than she could have imagined.

Or did he? Visits from an angel, a demon, a trip to heaven. Memories of a wedding that didn't happen, no memory of a love that did, murder, angels, demons, and souls are at stake. Samples has put a new spin on the familiar tale of the war between heaven and hell, angels versus demons for control of earth and all souls. She threw a curve ball at the end that I wasn't in anyway anticipating.

This was an interesting book. The narrative isn't quite smooth in some places, but overall, a good novel for a first time author. If Samples continues the way she started, she will have a promising career as an author to look forward to. I hope she does. I want to see what happens in the sequel. I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble (paperback only so far), and Smashwords.

Monday, October 7, 2013

On Shadowed Wings by Amanda DeWees

Gail, a high school senior is helping out Dr. Sumner, her next door neighbor by babysitting his young daughter, Joy, in the months following his wife's death. Other characters in the story are Darryl, an over-controlling boyfriend and Jim, a quiet young man from an area college studying moths and butterflies on the neighbor's property. This story has love, loss, a beautiful myth about butterflies and a magical Beltane night that helps heals two broken hearts.

This is a very short story in the Ash Grove series. While I enjoyed the story, I was left wishing the book were longer. I'm considering reading the rest of the books to see where this story falls in the series. I received this book as a gift in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Bishop Street by Rene D. Schultz

The story centers around Maggie Gray who grew up in Bishop Street Orphanage. Abandoned at seven when her mother chose a boyfriend over raising her daughter, Maggie is now a successful author. An emotional meltdown and recurring nightmares brings her to the decision to locate and reconnect with three friends she hasn't seen in twenty years.

A private investigator has located each person and provided a brief report on how they are doing. Maggie's journey to reconnect with each person is fraught with tension, memories, and fear. Each of the children were at the orphanage for different reasons, reasons that have left mental and emotional scars that have shaped who they are as adults.

This story is definitely not one in my preferred genre, but every once in a while, I try to step outside my comfort zone and explore something else. I was uncomfortable when the characters had flashbacks of the abuse and bullying that occurred the orphanage. None of the four children grew up unscathed by the abuse or the bullying from other kids.

This was not a story that held me in its grip from start to finish. There were points in the story where I had to set the book down and take my mind off what had been done to them as children. Although outside of my preferred genre, this was surprisingly, a good story. It felt as though the author either had first hand knowledge or researched her subject matter very well.

There were several errors missed in the proofreading/editing phase that got in the way of enjoying the story. I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available at Amazon.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

John's LOVE by J.J. Valentin

A story of soul mates reborn to find each other again. John and Sarah say good-bye to each other in heaven as they prepare to be born on earth. But something is wrong when John sees Sarah for the first time at school - he remembers his time in heaven and isn't supposed to. He recognizes Sarah and knows they are meant to be together. Sarah doesn't remember any of their time in heaven.

John and Sarah face one challenge after another. The closeness they developed in high school is challenged by the distance of attending different colleges. Eventually, Sarah tells John she can't handle the separation and breaks it off. Heartbroken, John leaves. Sarah takes up with Lucas and follows him to California. While there, Satan, in his human guise as Lucas, makes every effort to demean her in as many ways as possible. His goal is to keep the young soul mates apart, and make John denounce God.

Although faith is a large part of John's part of the story, it's not so much for Sarah. This comes in to play as she is faced with trials all too often handed to young girls far from home. What follows is drug and alcohol dependency, and prostitution.

This is a sweet story of the redeeming power of faith, love and forgiveness. I found the story an easy read. I was gifted this book in exchange for an honest review. Due to the errors missed in proofreading, I was unable to give this book 5 stars.

This book is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Hunted; Talented Saga - Book 3 by Sophie Davis

Talia's seizures are mostly controlled with a daily shot. However, her mood swings are becoming more rapid and uncontrollable. Erik is standing by her through everything, giving her much needed strength as she struggles to stay in control. She is beginning to ask questions and question the answers.

In an attempt to get her mind off the betrayal and execution of her best friend, the director tells her she will be going with him for the annual testing for Talented children. Already uneasy with how the tests are conducted, twice Talia is told she and Erik must collect a Talented child the parents have hidden. During all of this, Erik has a friend who may be able to provide answers Talia desperately needs.

Secrets are revealed, lies and truths are exposed. Potentially fatal decisions are made. I suspected where the story would go by the title of the book. What I couldn't possibly have anticipated was the way in which the story would get there.There were a small handful of missed proofreading errors in this story, however, by the time I was half way through the book, Davis had such a tight grip on me I couldn't put the book down. How tight? I risked being late to work in order to finish the book. I finished the book and punched in six minutes late.

I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. With the way Davis ratcheted things up in this book, she has earned space in my box of favorite authors the next time (if ever) I move. Hunted is far and away the best of the series so far. She has definitely earned that fifth star, which I rarely give out to books with errors. Make sure to read the first two books in this series, Talented and Caged. They provide the necessary background to get the most out of Hunted.

This book is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.