Tag Archive | Book review

Saturday Spotlight

saturday spotlight

Cry Standing Up by Valarie Savage Kinney

Cry Standing Up“We had a crowd at the house that night, and even though I was careful about the frailty of my glass; even though I remembered to hold it just tightly enough to keep my grasp, but not so tightly I caused it any more harm; even though I was cautious about the perspiration dripping down the sides… even so, my glass still broke. It broke in the darkness, the deep of the night so black the stars were barely visible. Just before 1 a.m., when the rest of the world had the audacity to be sleeping, that’s when it happened. And the world continued to slumber, just as it always had, just as if my glass, my special, perfect glass, had not just shattered all over the floor.”

My soul had gone to sleep the day my sister died, and I wasn’t keen on the idea of waking it up. Being numb is a whole lot easier to handle than raw, screaming agony.

And then I found out my brother had terminal lung cancer. What follows is my journey through the grief of losing my siblings. I wrote a lot during these years of aching loss and grief, and most of it is not pretty, but it is honest and real. My hope with this book is that others who are mourning might realize they are not alone in the way they feel. Deep grief changes people, that’s just a fact. It’s not an experience one can just “get over.” We can learn to live with it, though, accepting the waves of emotion that sometimes strike us out of nowhere. And in time, laughter will come again.

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My Review:

Cry Standing Up is a book about grief, depression, and anxiety. It’s poignant, and it’s emotional.

I have had depression and anxiety for a long time, and having lost a few people close to me over the past few months, I found many of the author’s thoughts very familiar. Although some parts weren’t easy to read, and I read a lot of the book through my tears, it was reassuring to realise that I’m not alone in my feelings.

Of all the thoughts in this book that struck a chord with me, this one resonated the most:

“If the people around me could stop dropping dead for like five minutes, I might be able to get my head screwed back on straight. But obviously that’s not going to happen”

 
Cry Standing Up also offered a comforting beacon in the dark and an assurance that it was ok to be tired all the time, to cry, to be me, and to grieve.

Thank you, Valarie!

 

About The Author:

Valarie Savage KinneyValarie Savage Kinney is a writer, fiber artist, and Renaissance festival junkie with a wicked caffeine addiction. She resides in Michigan with her husband, grown children, two slightly hysterical dogs, and eight (yes, eight) guinea pigs.

She is the author of Slither, Heckled, Consumption and The Secrets of Windy Springs Series. She puts the “I” in weird.

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Paroled From Heaven by Lily Luchesi

Attractive woman with angel wings on sky background

 

Death is not the end.

 
lily20The Lieutenant of Hell is dead. The vampiric Empire has fallen, and the Paranormal Investigative Division is barely surviving. With no one controlling the demons and humanity left vulnerable, it’s about to become a literal Hell on Earth.

But Heaven has a plan. Angels can’t step in to fight, and only humans can save humanity. With a little grace, and a lot of power, there’s one way to stop the demonic onslaught and impending rise of Lucifer: a temporary parole from Heaven. Who says death is forever?

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Teaser:

      Sean Wireman had fallen asleep at his desk at the Paranormal Investigative Division of the FBI in Chicago. He did that often in the past few months since the deaths of Angelica Mancini (nee Cross) and her husband, Danny Mancini, at the hands of Danny’s great grandson, also named Daniel. Sean figured that Danny’s relations hadn’t been very creative individuals.
      With the vampiric Empire fallen, the PID had greatly diminished. Many people thought the organization was a joke now, something that made Sean’s heart break. Angelica had built the company up in eighteen-eighty-one, and it became a worldwide organization, saving countless lives of both humans and paranormal creatures. He was doing all he could to hold what was left of it together, frequently corresponding with the London branch and its leaders, Mahon Quinn and George Linwood.
      Mahon and George were psychic vampires, or Psis, and they were immortal and also immune to the vampiric purge that had happened when Angelica had sacrificed herself to save humanity.
      All vampires were dead now, but Psis weren’t affected because they didn’t drink blood, they fed on life energy to survive.
      Angelica was the most selfless person Sean had ever met. To sacrifice not just herself, but the species that she led as the Empress, took more guts than he’d ever have. There was one thing she hadn’t counted on: how poorly the PID would fare without her. Or how poorly he would fare without her.
      Sean looked at the photographs he had framed on his desk: one of his old band, Lycancore, before the three other band members had become dinner for the old vampire Emperor; Devon Von Aber, his girlfriend who had died in World War Two, fighting with him and the Resistance to stop the Nazis; him and Angelica, taken at a cemetery where Lycancore had filmed a music video. She had been a vamplet then, her black parasol over her head to protect her from the sun. It had been a semi candid shot: they’d been talking and laughing, God only knew about what. They’d caught the camera being turned toward them at the last minute, and in the photo, you could see Angelica’s long black hair moving as she turned her head, her hand on Sean’s shoulder and his on her leg.
      He accepted that she’d never love him how he loved her, and had been content with being her friend and confidant ever since Danny Mancini came into the picture. With both of them being immortal, they were friends for eternity. Sean had never thought about Angelica dying so soon, or dying before him. Her loss was killing him inside, eating away at whatever was good and useful in him.
      I miss you, Angie. And I’d do anything to get you back, he thought. Her last days on Earth had been wrought with anger and fear and sadness. It had been too long since he’d seen her smile and laugh like she was in the photograph.
      The floor began to shake beneath his feet. He leapt off the chair, thinking that it was an earthquake. They were rare in Chicago, but they did happen. But this felt different, and as it didn’t stop, his concern grew. Grabbing his gun from the holster, he ran out the door. He was the only person on this floor, but he could hear screams coming from below. It seemed no one was any wiser about what was happening.
      He knew better than to take the elevator, but he wasn’t exactly fast, so taking the stairs to the main floor where the cubicles were took what seemed like an age.
      “Does anyone know what’s going on?” he asked loudly, to be heard over the din.
      “The energy readers are going insane,” one agent called. “It’s coming from somewhere below the building.”
      His heart stuttered in his chest. Few people knew that there was a sub-basement to the PID that contained one of the six portals into Hell. If the energy was coming from there, he had a funny feeling they were fucked.
      Without saying another word, he ran down the stairs as fast as he could, while the lights began to flicker wildly above him. The closer he got to the first floor, the stronger the stench of smoke and sulfur became.
      Coughing, he ran around the building to the secret side entrance that led into the sub-basement. The moment he unlocked the door, he was thrown across the alleyway into the next building, whacking his head.
      The door stayed open, the barrier of magic warding weakened, as thick coils of black smoke, so dark it was like looking into the Void, began to pour out in droves.
      Demons, Sean thought. He sent a message to the Grand Coven to get a few magicians in there, but he wasn’t fooling himself. It was too late to remake the wards. The demons had escaped, and now all of humanity was at risk.
      Like so much fiction had predicted, the demonic Apocalypse had begun.

 

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My Review:

A brilliant end to a brilliant series.

Nothing keeps Angelica down for long… not death… not being human!

In this book Angelics struggles to come to terms with human frailties, but that doesn’t stop her taking on demons and even the King of Hell himself.

As sad as I am to come to the end of my journey with Angelica and Danny, this was a super read. I loved that the author brought back Brighton and Mark to help the Mancini’s with their last ‘case’ at the PID.

Lily Luchesi couldn’t have written a better ending.

 

Meet The Author:

LilyNewPhotoLily Luchesi is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of the Paranormal Detectives Series, published by Vamptasy Publishing. She also has short stories included in multiple bestselling anthologies, and a successful dark erotica retelling of Dracula.

Her Coven Series has successfully topped Amazon’s Hot New Releases list consecutively.

She is also the editor, curator and contributing author of Vamptasy Publishing’s Damsels of Distress anthology, which celebrates strong female characters in horror and paranormal fiction.

She was born in Chicago, Illinois, and now resides in Los Angeles, California. Ever since she was a toddler her mother noticed her tendency for being interested in all things “dark”. At two she became infatuated with vampires and ghosts, and that infatuation turned into a lifestyle. She is also an out member of the LGBT+ community.

When she’s not writing, she’s going to rock concerts, getting tattooed, watching the CW, or reading manga. And drinking copious amounts of coffee.

She also writes erotica and BDSM as international bestselling author Samantha Calcott.

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Little Pink Taxi by Marie Laval

Little Pink Taxi Banner

 

Take a ride with Love Taxis, the cab company with a Heart …

 
Little Pink TaxiRosalie Heart is a well-known face in Irlwick – well, if you drive a bright pink taxi and your signature style is a pink anorak, you’re going to draw a bit of attention! But Rosalie’s company Love Taxis is more than just a gimmick – for many people in the remote Scottish village, it’s a lifeline.

Which is something that Marc Petersen will never understand. Marc’s ruthless approach to business doesn’t extend to pink taxi companies running at a loss. When he arrives in Irlwick to see to a new acquisition – Raventhorn, a rundown castle – it’s apparent he poses a threat to Rosalie’s entire existence; not just her business, but her childhood home too.

On the face of it Marc and Rosalie should loathe each other, but what they didn’t count on was somebody playing cupid …

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My Review:
An enjoyable read that’s much more than a romantic comedy, alongside the romance and humour, there’s friendship, history, mystery, danger and a hint of paranormal.

Rosalie is a bubbly and kind-hearted person, and her taxi firm, Love Taxis, is at the heart of the close-knit community. Marc Petersen is a cold and calculating businessman who has got no idea why his late father bought a run-down castle in Scotland.

When Rosalie picks up Petersen in her pink taxi, he’s not impressed with the car or her driving. When she discovers he’s the new owner, not only of the taxi firm but also her home, Raventhorn Castle, and he’s planning to strip and sell the business for profit, she tries to show him that there are more important things in life than a hefty bank balance.

Little Pink Taxi was a well-written, fun read with a mix of quirky characters and a backdrop of the wilds of Scotland.

 

The Author:

Marie LavalOriginally from Lyon in France, Marie now lives in Lancashire with her family. She works full-time as a modern languages teacher, and in her spare times loves writing romance and dreaming about romantic heroes.

She writes both historical and contemporary romance, and her historical romance The Lion’s Embrace won the Gold Medal at the Global eBook Awards 2015 (category Historical Romance).

She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Society of Authors. Her native France, as well as her passion for history and research, very much influences her writing, and all her novels have what she likes to call ‘a French twist’!

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Moon Sworn by J.F. Holland

Moonsworn(The Bound Series #1)

Moon Sworn is an introduction to ‘The Bound Series’, (Heated Shifter Romance). The story and the characters continue throughout the PNR Serial. (Not a standalone).

35267975At 4-years old Maya Rawlings witnessed her own father horrifically murder her mother. Brought up by an older aunt she knows nothing of her family history.

She wants a family of her own to make up for all that she’s lost, but it’s difficult to achieve when she’s not attracted to anyone. That is until the night of her 21st birthday when a strange mark appears on the palm of her hand. The mark was followed by re-currant nightmares of fleeing for her life, and the voice of a man offering her things she’s always dreamed of. Is he real or is she finally losing her mind?

Jaden Matthews is a loner who never settles in one place. He doesn’t do forever, not after the murder of his parents and younger brother. That is until fate decides to step in and a mark appears on his hand, it seems he now has a mate.

After waiting for 21-years for her to mature, the clock is now ticking. First, he needs to find her and his search leads him back to a place he’d vowed never to return. He’s not the only one there hunting her though.

Can he use his skills to not only get rid of the threat to her life but also persuade her to agree to the binding? Or will he be destined to walk a limited lifespan alone, as the animal he becomes?

Contains erotic scenes and profanity.

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My Review:

An entertaining shifter mystery romance with suspense, humour and some steamy scenes.

Even though they had never met, Maya has been dreaming about Jaden for the past five years, and Jaden has been searching for Maya, his mate. Not everything goes to plan however when they meet.

Both Maya and Jaden have tragic pasts, and they’re not the only ones, other members of the supernatural community have been targeted by rogue shifters. When Maya’s life is threatened, her friends, Binks and Sam, help Jaden protect her and her newly found family members from danger.

I enjoyed meeting the cast of diverse and complex characters that are gradually introduced. I hope we get to know more about the other characters in future books. Maya is smart and sassy, and is no pushover and although to begin with, Jaden comes across as a pushy alpha male, he also has a much softer and caring side.

I like the way the author has built a supernatural community in the quiet village of Lunaton, living side by side with unsuspecting humans, and the way she has tied in things like crop-circles to that community.

This is the first book I’ve read by JF Holland, and it was a super introduction to The Bound Series. I will certainly be reading more.

The Author

J_F_HollandI still live in the small town in Partington in Manchester, UK. I was born at home on January 10th 1968. Now a wife and mother, I live with my husband and 6 children, and a small menagerie of animals, still in the town I was born, raised, and attended school.

I’ve always loved the underdog, the fighter. But, let’s face it, we all want to believe in a happily ever after. As a huge fan of books (book nerd is the endearing term, my children use), as I have an immense romance collection (which also includes paranormal romance). It usually means if I’m not writing, I’ve got my head stuck in a good book.

You can’t beat reading. I love watching the plot and characters come to life in my imagination; so much better than television. When I was younger, I tended to re-write books and fairy-tales where I wasn’t completely happy with the ending. It confused the hell out of my children once they learned to read as none of the books matched the stories I’d been reading to them growing up.

Until I became ill, I had a varied career including Admin, Customer Service, and Teaching unemployed adults IT and customer service skills. I’m now at home full time, classed as disabled (neuro fog can make life, and writing fun and challenging at times). So instead of twiddling my thumbs and feeling sorry for myself, I decided it was time I started to do something which I love with my life. So, I began to write my own stories again, it keeps my mind active and it’s fun. I’m also happy to receive feedback about my books (stories) or just to connect :-

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Saturday Spotlight

saturday spotlight

Retriever of Souls by Lorraine Mace

(D.I. Sterling Book 1)

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The first title in a dark and gritty crime series.
Brought up believing that sex is the devil’s work, a killer only finds release once he has saved his victim’s souls. Abiding by his vision, he marks them as his. A gift to guide his chosen ones on the rightful path to redemption.

Detective Inspector Paolo Sterling is out to stop him, but Paolo has problems of his own. Hunting down the killer as the death toll rises, the lines soon blur between Paolo’s personal and professional lives.

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My Review:

I really enjoyed this great British crime drama. It’s the first of a series and I’m already looking forward to reading the next.

Detective Inspector Paolo Sterling’s personal life is a mess. He’s separated from his wife and has high hopes of getting back with her, and his teenage daughter, Katy, is going off the rails. His professional life isn’t faring any better. His new partner, Detective Sergeant Dave Johnson,  is obnoxious and has no respect for women.  Add to that, the fact that someone is murdering prostitutes and dumping their bodies in rubbish dumps and there aren’t any leads.

While we follow Paolo as he deals with his complicated relationships and tries to solve the case, we also get a close look at the murderer. The villain was brought up by a religious zealot who taught him that sex was a sin, and he believes that by killing the women he is saving their souls.

There is much more to this book than the crime and solving of it. It’s a character-driven book and they are well written and relatable… easy to like, or hate. It was interesting to watch them and their various relationships evolve and grow.

This was a gripping, gritty, and, at times, gruesome thriller, with interesting characters, a number of suspects, and plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing.

 

About The Author:

Retriever of Souls - Lorraine MaceWhen not working on her crime novels, Lorraine Mace is engaged in many writing-related activities. She is a columnist for both Writing Magazine and Writers’ Forum and is head judge for Writers’ Forum monthly fiction competitions.

A tutor for Writers Bureau, she also runs her own private critique and author mentoring service.

She is co-author, with Maureen Vincent-Northam, of The Writer’s Abc Checklist (Accent Press). Other books include children’s novel Vlad The Inhaler – Hero In The Making, and Notes From The Margin, a compilation of her Writing Magazine humour column.

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Saturday Spotlight

saturday spotlight

In Memory Trilogy by Joshua Sutton

(In Memory, Shadowborn and Shards of Shaz’uul.)

25867415In Memory

Sarah Summers was normal once, but now she spends her nights plagued by dreams of her dead family. When a demon is sent to possess her, can Sarah fight back against it and overcome the evil that not only threatens her sanity, but humanity itself?

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ShadowbornShadowborn

They thought it was over, but Death disagreed. With Sarah gone and Marcus slowly gaining power, can Teo and his friends find Sarah and stop a war before it even starts?

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Shards of Shaz'uulShards of Shaz’uul

It had been many years since the fighting stopped. Humanity had moved underground, in an effort to hide themselves from the demons on the surface. They thought it was all over. For real this time. They were wrong. After ritualistic murders begin happening Teo must find out what has happened all the while hoping Sarah and Cornelius can complete the Shaz’uul Crystal and seal the demon world away for good.

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My Review:

The premise of the trilogy was imaginative and original.

Marcus has lost the love of his life and will do anything to get her back, including driving people insane and having them possessed by demons. Sarah is one of those people, however, having been possed by Cornelius, she teams up with him and fights back.

As the story moves on, the reasons behind Marcus’ actions change, and he sets out to rule the world(s).

There were quite a few characters in the first book, and more introduced in the following one. I would have liked to get to know the characters better, their reasoning or motivation. As it was, I didn’t connect with any of them and apart from Cornelius, none were particularly memorable.

The entire trilogy fills approximately 400 pages and there’s a lot of action packed into those pages. For me, there was too much action at times in book one, and too many interconnecting events, which got a bit confusing and made the book seem rushed.

I was however intrigued enough by the first book to read the rest of the trilogy.

Book 2 continues the story after a 15-year gap, and book 3 many years after that. Both books still had plenty going on but at a less manic pace.

 

About The Author:

Joshua SuttonJoshua Sutton grew up in Kent in the UK. From an early age he wanted to write books and after taking time away to study Music Technology and Production at university, finally came back and released his debut novel In Memory on July 4th 2015. The sequel Shadowborn was released June 2016, and the final book in the trilogy Shards of Shaz’uul was finished on the 18th Feb 2017.

Joshua writes Paranormal Fiction but dabbles in other genres and is working on other projects as well that you will see in the near future. It was his life long dream to write and now he is fulfilling his dream, he hopes you enjoy his work.

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Saturday Spotlight

saturday spotlight

The Case of the Curious Client by T.G. Campbell

(Bow Street Society #1)

 
30828825The Bow Street Society is a fictional group of amateur detectives operating in London in 1896. Each of its civilian members has been enlisted for their unique skill or exceptional knowledge in a particular field. This ensures the Society may work to solve cases on the behalf of their clients regardless of their client’s social class or wealth; cases that the police either can’t or won’t investigate. From an artist to an illusionist, from an architect to a veterinary surgeon, the Bow Street Society is justice by all and for all.

In The Case of The Curious Client, the Bow Street Society are hired by Mr Thaddeus Dorsey to locate a missing friend he knows only as ‘Palmer’ after he fails to keep a late night appointment with him. With their client’s own credibility cast into doubt mere minutes after they meet him though the Society are forced to consider whether they’ve been sent on a wild goose chase. That is, until events take a dark turn and the Society have to race against time not only to solve the case but also save the very life of their client…

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My Review:

*I won a signed copy of this book at the UK Indie Lit Fest last year.

Although I don’t usually read historical books, I do read mysteries and thrillers, so the crime aspect of this one intrigued me and I decided to give it go. I’m glad I did!

The Bow Street Society comprises a mixed bag of members with different skills, from all walks of life and is overseen by Rebecca Trent.

We join some of those members in this book as they search for Thaddeus Dorsey’s missing friend, Palmer, which leads to them investigating a murder and trying to save their client from being convicted of the crime.

The Case of the Curious Client was a fascinating read with an intriguing plot and plenty of twists which kept me guessing ’til the end. The characters were well-rounded and I enjoyed getting to know them, their flaws, and their quirks.

The author’s patent love of the Victorian era shines through this book, and she has, without doubt, done an impressive amount of research, as the evocative and authentic descriptions transported me back in time to 1980’s London.

I will definitely be reading more of this series.

 
About The Author:

6af07c396b9dfcfbc82b1406bbcc4cf5Tahnee Georgina (T.G.) Campbell wrote her first crime fiction story at the age of sixteen as a gift for her best friend. At only 40 pages long it fell considerably short of a “novel” but it marked the beginning of a creative journey that would eventually spawn the first of the Bow Street Society mystery novels; The Case of the Curious Client. During that time she attended the University of Winchester where she acquired her Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Studies and wrote a dissertation on the social and cultural importance of the works of Agatha Christie.

She also became a volunteer member of staff on an international text-based gaming website where she was responsible for creating, and facilitating, storyline-games in a Victorian Era setting. The historical content of the reference pages for this setting were therefore researched, collated, and maintained by her.

It was as part of her work for this site that she came up with the idea of The Bow Street Society. Though The Case of the Curious Client is a project independent from the website the time she spent as a member of staff there helped her better understand character formation/evolution, effective use of description, and clue-puzzle mystery plot mechanics.

More recently, she attended her very first book signing event in the form of the UK Indie Lit Fest in Bradford on the 28th July 2018. She’s currently planning a schedule of similar events in 2019, to give her readers even more opportunities to meet her and have their Bow Street Society books signed. The second and third instalments of the Bow Street Society mysteries The Case of The Lonesome Lushington and The Case of The Spectral Shot are on sale now. There are also two published volumes of the Bow Street Society Casebook: The Case of The Shrinking Shopkeeper & Other Stories and The Case of The Peculiar Portrait & Other Stories. T.G. Campbell also writes monthly features for Fresh Lifestyle Magazine and releases new Casebook short stories in the monthly Gaslight Gazette. The fourth Bow Street Society mystery is due to be released in 2019.

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