Archive | September 2013

REVIEW: Ravenous by Eden Summers

Ravenous by Eden Summers

Jesse left eight years ago the big city, deciding the small farming life wasn’t for him. He left Erin behind. Now he’d returned to Holbrook for his mother’s birthday and Erin was to cater the party.

Three days of nothing but Jesse. For Erin, Jesse had been her heart and soul, but when they turned 18, he decided he wanted work in Sydney. She wanted to stay in Holbrook. He broke her heart, or so she though.

She sees him now and her heart beats in turn with his. In eight years, she should have healed.

Jesse wanted to tell Erin that she had never left his heart or his mind. But that still left the reality: Erin’s life is in Holbrook; Jesse’s in Sydney.  Is there a way for true love to break through the harsh reality of long distance and the unwillingness of either to move?

Eden Summers has the unique ability to create characters that speak to the heart and soul. The reader becomes vested in the lives of these people and begins to truly care about the outcome. Many may remember the heartbreak of leaving someone behind to pursue a dream job and always wondering what might have been. Ravenous brings the heartache and longing clearly to the forefront; combined with the trademark passion and eroticism that only Summers can create and Ravenous is a book that those hungry for love and a dreamy happily ever after must immediately consume.

REVIEW: Hearts of Ishira

Hearts of Ishira by Bethany Aan

Arianna awoke to excruciating pain and screams somewhere nearby. When she opened her eyes, she saw a forest unlike any she’d even. Strange insects and flying creatures roamed the land. Then, from the shadows, other living things emerged – animals unlike anything Ri could have dreamed in her wildest fantasy. She had no idea where she was.

She looked around and saw a corpse with a broken neck nearby. The creatures were almost in feeding frenzy over the woman’s dead body. Ri noticed other women scattered around in the foreign landscape. All were naked, as was Ri. Ri was fighting pain; she had a severely broken leg an broken ribs. She sent a mental cry for help and received a mental reply from a life form nearby.

At last, Thorsani warriors arrived to help the band or women. While the men looked humanoid, they were very tall, with markings on the edges of their faces spreading into their hairlines. Ri caught just a glimpse of the bright green eyes of her savior before she passed out at his feet from her injuries. The men busied themselves getting communicators on the women. There had been no females for their group for more than ten years. They examined the injured group of female creatures with interest as medics went to work attempting to heal the broken and injured.

Bethany Aan created aliens that were kind, sexy, and appealing. I was impressed with the level of culture-building she was able to sprinkle into the novel. She introduced the world of Ishira only a small bit at this juncture, but did so beautifully and with great detail and wonderful explanation as to every area explored.

 Her interpretation and knitting of the Thorsani culture into the fabric of the world of Ishira was extraordinary. I have never before envied a non-existent culture. The Thorsani had beautiful beliefs and a wondrously structured and respectful treatment of women and children. Aan clearly put a great deal of thought into the creation of this world.

Additionally, the respectful handling of various world marital customs was astounding.

This was a very erotic novel, so for those not interested in reading about m/m/f  ménages, this may not be for you. The sex scenes were passionate and exquisite, written with the reader’s pleasure in mind.

I will be anxiously awaiting the next book in this series.

An ARC was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review (through LoP on Goodreads). The opinions expressed are solely my own.

REVIEW: The Breed Chronicles

The Breed Chronicles by Lanie Jordan

Breed of Innocence – Phase 1 – Book One

Jade was living in a girls’ home run by the lovely Mrs. Gill (aka Fishface). Two cops (Holt and Walden) appear at the home and ask to speak privately with Jade. Jade cannot think of a think she’s done to warrant a visit from the cops, but she’s also sure Mrs. Gill or one of the other girls will be more than happy to blame something on her.

Jade’s mother and brother were murdered when Jade was 14. Almost two years have passed since that time, but the crime is still vivid in her mind. She saw the murderer. It was a demon. Of course, no one believed her, and the crime remains unsolved. Jade sneaks out of the group home to hunt demons on a regular basis.

The men who’ve come to see her work for the Consortium of Genetic Engineering, or CGE, and they want to offer her a job hunting demons. At first, she has a hard time believing they are sincere. After they take her on a small mission and actually capture a demon that is in the process of assaulting a woman, Jade’s hesitancy vanishes. She’s in. She still has to finish her education and train extensively prior to being allowed to actually hunt demons, but she’s good with that, as long as she is able to eventually hunt down the demon that killed her family. She will also be required to give DNA for scientific research.

Almost immediately upon her arrival she makes friends with a handsome young man, Linc Stone, and enemies with a young woman named Felecia. The first phase of Jade’s training is not filled with just routine exercises; her life has never been so simple. Danger lurks.

Breed of Envy – Phase 2 – Book 2 **Contains spoilers about Book 1**

The second book picks up about two months after the end of Book One. Jade has discovered that both her parents not only worked for CGE, they also received the genetic treatments to mix various types of demon DNA with their own DNA. Jade is one of the first known cases of a child born from two such genetically-altered parents. So Jade has a variety of demon DNA in her own genetic makeup.

During the last phase, Jade had been bitten by a vampire. Her demon DNA probably saved her life. Jade was the first human ever to survive a vampire bite.

At the beginning of this phase, Director Greene breaks his normal protocol and speaks with the various training levels together, telling them about the new influx of funding he’s acquired. Jade was not at all relieved to discover the majority of the funds were secured to study her and her DNA and its ability to resist that vampire bite.  

Jade’s friendships deepen in this second book, and her relationship with Linc also deepens and becomes something more serious.

Lanie Jordan is an excellent author; sometimes the book has an almost Harry Potter-ish feel to it, at least Book One does, for brief instances, as the descriptions of the students, cliques, and classes are discussed. This is not a bad thing, it is done in an almost teasing manner, lending a comforting feel to the school.

The characters are very well developed, most being multi-faceted. Jade can be an emotional rollercoaster, the kind of person who can be fun and loyal, but also tiring if her moods start swinging. Linc is strong, thoughtful, and an almost perfect friend. Felecia is the most conniving, lowlife enemy one could ever hope to read about.

Jordan portrays these people so well through their interactions, they live and breathe; they become beings the reader can care about or love to care nothing about, as the case may be. The demons are even well developed. They are so vividly and realistically depicted, the reader might expect to find one in their own warehouse district late at night. Thus, the world Jordan has created sparkles with life. It is frightening in its possibilities.

The plot lines remain consistent, while also allowing room for growth (you’ll know what I mean when you read them) across both books. The plot is strong enough to be engrossing and compelling enough to keep readers turning pages. The action is non-stop.

There were a few reading “speed bumps” when words were misused (weary for wary, for instance), but such instances were rare and were probably corrected prior to final printing.

There are very few series I will take the time to actively seek out and follow. This is one of them. I thoroughly enjoyed the Breed Chronicles.

I received a free ARC through LoP via Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.



REVIEW: A Higher Voice

A Higher Voice by Sheri Wren Haymore

Britt Jordan is a famous rock singer. He’s been a hit for more than 20 years. Lately, though, he’s had some issues. He’s hearing overwhelmingly loud noises in his head and feels excruciating nausea. Nothing seems to quiet the noise or calm the sickness except dumping ice water over his head – complete pitchers of ice water. Nothing that is, until he meets Dena Martin.

Dena is the owner of a small-town newspaper and the mother of a 12-year-old daughter. The connection between Dena and Britt is instantaneous. Within days, Britt knows this is the woman he wants to share his life. She has quieted the noise in his head and healed the sickness in his gut by her very presence.

There is more to this simple story, though. Britt is losing his voice. His career will be lost to him without his voice – but Britt has damaged it beyond repair with years of screaming into the microphone.

Add to this ongoing drama a stalker; a psychotic brother who looks eerily like Britt and hates him fiercely and the story gains even more intensity.

Sheri Wren Haymore wrote most of her characters as multi-dimensional beings, making Britt easy to like. He walks off the page and takes on the persona of a “real” person. The reader gets wrapped up in the saga of Britt’s and Dena’s lives. Secondary characters are not as well developed. One example is Phillip, Britt’s brother who is stalking Dena. There simply aren’t enough details provided to make his hate understandable. He comes off as a cardboard cutout of a character.

Dena, though definitely a well-created character, is occasionally too sweet, almost saccharine. I found myself asking how many people are always this kind and always this patient, and found it unlikely any human could be quite this perfect. Dena could be annoying with her sweetness. She was also a really religious person, and brought the “Christian” aspect to the book.

Frankly, I am not a fan of Christian fiction and, as a general rule, do not read or review it. That being said, Haymore never came off as preachy and only had her characters mention “being saved” or church or other traditional Christian terms a very few times. When it came time for Britt to do some soul-searching, at no time was any specific type of religion foisted about. This was a very refreshing change. For those considering reading A Higher Voice (and I encourage folks to do so), I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.

A Higher Voice is an exceptionally well-written novel with a smooth writing style and fun characters. Even though the novel is quite thick, it is so wonderfully engrossing and the tale so appealing, I read it almost entirely in one sitting. The author is able to pull the reader into the story so deeply, the outside world ceases to exist. The reader wants to know what happens to the characters. The characters’ lives take on meaning and importance. Haymore is an author to watch.

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


REVIEW: The Council of Peacocks

Council of Peacocks Book One by Joseph Murphy

Wisdom landed at Niagara Falls after being gone for four months. He thought he had defeated the Council of Peacocks.

Propates said the Council has a way to forcibly evolve humans. Thirteen of his people tore Athens apart. He had Edimmu, his created “angels,” in the tens of thousands and urged people to surrender because the war had been won.

As Wisdom watched events unfold on television, his enemy, Propates, transported himself to Wisdom’s room. Wisdom attempted to hide his multiple wounds from Propates. Propates bragged about having won the war; even having defeated Wisdom’s friend Echo and Wisdom’s beloved Anomalies. Propates approached Wisdom; Wisdom discussed their past work together, stating he hadn’t taught Propates everything – at that point he propelled Propates through the reinforced windows to crash on the street many stories down. Wisdom opened a portal in time, stepped through and went back through the years.

Josh, Jen, and four other friends were going camping when their tires were speared by long, black shards of metal with pictures of peacocks on the sides. Within minutes, one member of the group was killed. The others began to lay blame.

The Council of Peacocks is interesting and moves along at a crisp pace. However, in the beginning, most of the characters are shallow and poorly developed. The details are sparse or spread out over several chapters. It begins to feel like a scavenger hunt to find anything out at all about the characters one is supposed to care about.

It also jumps between casts of characters rather quickly. Since there isn’t a lot of character development, it becomes difficult to keep everyone straight. The information about all the characters does come out later, and the reasons behind the late introductions make sense in the context of the story line, it’s just a bit frustrating for the reader in the beginning. If the reader isn’t willing to invest time and pay close attention to details, this probably isn’t the tale for you. It is definitely your loss if you don’t want to invest that initial bit of patience, because the book is definitely a winner once the pieces start to fall into place.

Joseph Murphy is an author worth watching. Council of Peacocks is an original story in a genre begging for a taste of originality. Murphy writes in a vein similar to the older works of Stephen King. His writing is intense, creative, and imaginative. It has themes of fantasy, horror, mystery, and romance all commingled in a delightful smorgasbord of literary genius.

I received an ARC through Goodreads’ program Read for Review in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

REVIEW: The Guardians Crown

The Guardians Crown by Wendy Owens

The Guardians Book Five (It is advisable these books be read in order.)

This is the final book in The Guardians series. 

The only hope given to Gabe and Rachel by the Oracle to insure that both Gabe and the prophet live through any coming confrontation with Baal is to find the Guardians Crown. No positive outcome is promised, but there is at least slim hope. Gabe, Rachel, Uri, Sophie, and Haim are now on a quest to find the Guardians Crown.

Baal has gained strength; the American government is supporting him and many humans have joined his side. Gabe has become more worried about how he will be able to protect his little family. Rachel continues to amaze everyone with her strength of character.

Wendy Owens continues to surprise in this, the last book of the series. Her writing never faltered throughout. Readers will be captivated as they find themselves faced with demons, traitorous Guardians, vindictive humans, and just wonderful magic.

Owens brings readers a message of hope, friendship, trust, and the power of faith in this last book. She has created characters so full of life they leap from the page. Her descriptions are crisp and memorable. This is a writer to watch and hope for future works.

This ARC was received from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

REVIEW: The Lost Years

The Lost Years by Wendy Owens

The Guardians Series Book 4

On the night Gabe witnessed Sophie, his love, the girl he risked his life to save, and his best friend, Uri, passionately kissing, his world came crashing down, and he left Rampart Manor. He felt he’d been betrayed by his best friend ad he didn’t want to stay and watch love develop between Uri and Sophie when Sophie didn’t even remember who Gabe was. He also felt Michael was not the father figure he’d first thought him to be and he just wanted out.

His friends were left behind to deal with an invasion and ever-escalating warfare. Gabe, in his own little world, knew nothing of what was happening with his friends. He needed time to think, to heal and to become.

This novel tells what happens during the five years Gabe traveled, trying to find his peace and his place in the world. It tells of Dina visiting the Oracle the night he fled and knowing what his needs would be, as well as so very much more. It tells readers about the lives of the characters central to the series for five very important years.

This novel, of all the preceding novels, really showcases the author’s talents. Wendy Owens brings the characters full circle here in preparation for the upcoming “grand finale” and all that it holds. This book is packed with emotions. Readers will realize just how attached they’ve become to these many characters.

It is at this point that readers realize how much they’ve come to think of these characters as living, breathing entities. The pain experienced by one becomes the reader’s pain. When one character acts foolishly, the reader may feel compelled to ask the character what she is thinking, and so forth. Owens’ talent is extraordinary in this capacity. Her character development is unmatched.

So much is packed into what seems to be so few pages when one is reading it. The author has the amazing talent of creating a story that keeps reader enthralled, from beginning to end.

This ARC was received from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


REVIEW: The Prophecy

The Prophecy by Wendy Owens

The Guardians Series Book Three (It is advisable to read this series in order.)

Gabe has been in hiding, alone, for five years. He has built a nice home with his own hands; a tiny log cabin amid the copper-lined mountains, protecting him from psychic wavelengths. He’s named his place “Haven.”

Gabe awakens one morning to find someone there. Uri has shown up with Rachel, the young woman who is prophesied to give birth to the prophet.

Uri needs a place to hide the girl. She isn’t pregnant yet, so he has trouble understanding why Gabe is hesitant to let her stay. After much discussion and persuasion on Uri’s part, Gabe agrees to let Rachel stay for a very brief while.

The first days are rough. Gabe doesn’t want his self-imposed isolation broken or his safe haven compromised. He resents Rachel’s every intrusion. But after a particularly nasty altercation, Rachel says a few things Gabe simply must investigate. Is he selfish? Does he leave a path of death in his wake? Rachel, a kind, lovely girl, is there to pick up the pieces when he gets his answers. From this, the prophecy takes hold.

Wendy Owens manages to find a way to continue to grow this series into something even more than it already was. The Prophecy is a story of love gone wrong, passions righted, love found, and a boy becoming a man. Owens taps into many levels of humanity to create this continuing saga of the Guardians.

In this book, all vestiges of youth indicative in the prior books have vanished. This is a time for growing up. The characters have matured. As such, their pains are those of young adults. Owens is able to write about these emotions with honesty and enthusiasm, without being condescending. It is a refreshing look into an ever-progressing series.

This ARC was received from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


REVIEW: Cursed

Cursed by Wendy Owens

Book Two in The Guardians Series (It is advised to read these books in series order)

Cursed begins in an arena with Gabe taking his tests. He must pass his first and second year exams so he can begin as a third year student and be in classes with most of his friends. Unlike others who’d had years to learn and practice, Gabe learned he was a Guardian only that summer; so he’d had only weeks to learn what he needed in order to pass his exams.

Michael is no longer the doting leader he’d been when Gabe had first moved to the Manor; he’s hypercritical of Gabe when he’s around, and that isn’t often.

When classes start, Gabe and Sophie have half of their classes together, allowing them to spend even more time together. Yet Michael seems opposed to everything Gabe wants, including his relationship with Sophie. Soon, her schedule is suspiciously changed. After that, things go wrong surprisingly quickly.

Some of the classes and references to school activities in this book in the series sound a bit “Harry Potter-ish”, while other parts sound like battle prep for Armageddon, which is precisely what author Wendy Owens aims for in most cases.

Owens continues to expand upon the adventurous theme set forth in the first book of this series. Her imagination is astounding as she sends her characters on ever expanding quests into more dangerous territory. Her work is believable, frightening, yet hopeful. She writes with both passion and integrity. It is definitely a series worth reading.

This ARC was received from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.



REVIEW: Sacred Bloodlines

Sacred Bloodlines by Wendy Owens

The Guardians Book One (It is advisable to read books in order)

Gabe is waiting at the subway station, brooding over the social worker’s words; thinking people must believe he is cursed. As he prepared to get on the subway, he heard white noise, but only inside his head. He froze. Others passed him and before he could rush onto the car, he saw a woman in front of the doors to the subway. She was surrounded by a full-body aura of a strange gray color. She wore a leather trench coat; her short hair was slicked back. As she looked at him before getting on the car, her eyes briefly shone with a touch of red.

Gabe had visions his whole life, though he’d never been believed. His parents died when he was a small child and the lengthy list of therapists he’d been sent to usually attributed everything to their deaths.

Each vision is followed by a catastrophe. The subway car in front of him exploded – just as this vision had been followed by a catastrophe. Gabe hid under the subway bench to count away his fears as his mother had taught him. Shortly thereafter, someone wearing combat boots sat on the bench.

The person offered Gabe a hand (wearing a glove – black mesh, no fingers). The person, who wore a very unusual ring, had eyes eerily similar to Gabe’s. The boy told Gabe that many people knew of him.

The stranger’s name was Uri and he was like Gabe. Soon Gabe is hearing about a prophecy and that he, Gabe, is an important part of it. He agreed to travel with Uri to learn a bit more, but he wasn’t immediately trustful.

Wendy Owens packs quite a bit in this first book of the Guardians series. She is able, in the very first pages, to jerk the reader into the story and along for a very exciting journey. This journey involves quests, healing, hesitant heroes and blustery heroes alike.

I was especially pleased that Owens made many of her heroes fallible. In so many novels, the heroes are people we’d never meet in real life. In this book, Michael, the man in charge of Rampart Manor, an angel on the frontlines of the battle, is far from perfect. Gabe isn’t particularly brave, some of the other students, Guardians all, are critical. This story becomes more believable with each character Owens creates.

This ARC was received from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.