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Archive for June, 2014

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Under the Looking Glass by Alisa Tangredi

4 stars

(Excerpt from Goodreads) Maura Reyes survived an almost unbearable trauma—the loss of her family in a home invasion. Two years later, she’s still consumed by grief and acute insomnia, hiding inside her elegant, empty Los Angeles home. No amount of therapy or medication can restore what Maura lost. When her therapist suggests a change of scenery, Maura reluctantly agrees to go on a cruise. But once aboard the luxury liner, she finds herself in a bizarre and terrifying wonderland.

On the strange ship Cockaigne, Maura discovers an artist’s homage to “Alice in Wonderland”, complete with Dormouse, Mad Hatter, Tweedledum and Tweedledee. All that’s missing is Alice herself—and Maura, a pretty blond widow, suits the artist’s vision perfectly. Soon, Maura finds herself sliding between past and present, reliving that deadly night in bizarre and contradictory ways. Desperate for sleep, she first questions her memory, then her sanity. Is someone trying to drive her insane? Or is the truth darker and more twisted than she can possibly imagine?

Maura Reyes was a victim of a home invasion. She is now alone with insomnia and trying to figure out what happened that night. The only time she leaves the house is to see her therapists. They are trying to help her with medication and therapy. Eventually they suggest that she take a cruise.

On the Cockaigne, Maura discovers an Alice in Wonderland theme missing the Alice. Maura takes the place of Alice is begins her adventure to heal from the home invasion and break through to what really happened that night.

This is one heck of a thrill ride. I was hooked when I read Alice in Wonderland in the description. But as you follow Maura through to the truth, you don’t realize how far the human psyche can go off kilter. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough and I admit that I had to back track a little because I got lost. But I never expected the ending.

I’m sorry to say that I have not heard of Alisa Tangredi before, but I will be sure to check out her other books. This is a great short story for those that like great psychological thriller and you don’t want to miss this one.

I received this book for free from the Book Rooster program in exchange for an honest review.

For more information about Under the Looking Glass be sure to check out Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads. For more information about Alisa Tangredi or her other novels check out her website.

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Schism: The Battle for Darracia (Schism – 1) by Michael Phillip Cash

5 stars

(Excerpt from Goodreads) On the planet Darracia, an ever-widening social gap between its inhabitants is causing turmoil that is fracturing a once peaceful world. Struggling with his identity, nineteen year old Prince V’sair must harness the power of the elusive Fireblade, the secret to a warrior’s heart, in order to overcome his uncle Staf Nuen’s lust for supremacy. Will the energy of the Elements guide the young prince to his true destiny or will Staf Nuen conquer Darracia?

The planet Darracia has two classes of people with tension getting higher between the two groups and potential fighting just around the corner. The king, a Darracian, has married below his class to a Planta. Prince V’sair is a mixed breed and is always looked down on because of his size and skin color. But he wants to prove that he is a warrior and wants to go on the quest for a Fireblade, one that only works for a person with a warrior’s heart.

At the same time Staf Nuen, the kings brother, has decided he has had enough of this social disgrace and that he is going to take over the throne. It is up to V’sair to find the Fireblade, learn how to use it, defeat his uncle, and join the classes of his home.

This is a great story. You have the clear social class issue and how the brother is planning on over throwing the throne. I felt for V’sai, born a half-blood and constantly looked down on because of it. I loved how his mother understood why he wanted the Fireblade and encouraged him.

The only thing that I can think of that would be a negative would be that the book was very rushed. There was a lot of area to cover and I think a longer book would have had a better flow. Beyond that, this is a great book that you don’t want to miss. Now I can’t wait to read book 2.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

For more about Schism or Collision check out Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads. For more about Michael Phillip Cash and his other books be sure to check out his website.

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Settling (Solid – 2) by Shelley Workinger

4 stars

(Excerpt from Goodreads) At the beginning of the summer, Clio Kaid was one of a hundred teens brought to a secret Army installation. But it was no ordinary camp and they weren’t ordinary kids…

Picking up where “Solid” left off, Clio and her friends realize that they aren’t ready to go home; they’re determined to stay on campus and continue their journey of self- discovery. But someone doesn’t feel the same way and will do anything to drive them away – even kill.

Friendships will be tested, abilities will evolve, and more secrets will come out as the teens race to stop the killer before he sets his sights on one of them…

Everyone is back in camp. Clio and the rest are learning more about their abilities and seem to be getting closer as friends. But someone is not happy with the group and starts killing people. It seems as more murders happen, Clio’s tight little group is starting to get further and further away from her.

Will this break up the friendships? Will she find the killer before more people are lost? What does this mean for all of the kids?

I really liked Solid. This is a great continuation of the story and it starts out right at the ending of Solid. I really liked getting to know the kids further and being introduced to new people. I loved the hunt for the killer. I felt for Chio, she is trying to stop the killer but the more she searches the more trouble she finds.

This is a great series and an awesome follow up book. I can’t wait to read Sound.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

For more information about Settling or the other books in the series be sure to check out Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads. For more information about Shelley Workinger check out her website.

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Nightmares and Other Therapy (Smithson’s Series – 1) by DW Carver

4 stars

(Excerpt from Goodreads) Hospitals are supposed to help. Michael found that wasn’t always true.

Michael couldn’t understand the nightmares that made him violent on waking, mostly because he didn’t have the courage to think his problem through. Eventually, pressured into entering a mental hospital by his employers he thought that here he would find answers and a way to a better life. He was never more wrong.

Michael suffers from nightmares and complications of violence when he wakes up. He is also mentally unstable. He has lived with this for all of his life but when someone ends up dead from one of these incidents he is given the option of commit himself to a mental institution or be placed there, he willingly goes.

Michael then suffers the horrors of being in a mental institution along with the treatments. But there is more than standard torture and mental illness. There is something wrong inside Michael’s head. The question is if Michael will be able to become the “normal” person that he is hoping for or if he will ever get out of the mental institute.

Part of the story reminds me of One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and all the images of mental institutions in all horror stories and movies. But what really got me was Michael. The poor man had no options. He’s forced into torture and people causing more problems than helping.

This is a dark story but I did like it. It’s not just your normal horror story, there is more depth. I felt for Michael and kept wishing he could get out.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

For more information on Nightmares and Other Therapy check out Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads.

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Mayham

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Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough

5 stars

(Excerpt from Goodreads) A new killer is stalking the streets of London’s East End. Though newspapers have dubbed him ‘the Torso Killer’, this murderer’s work is overshadowed by the hysteria surrounding Jack the Ripper’s Whitechapel crimes.

The victims are women too, but their dismembered bodies, wrapped in rags and tied up with string, are pulled out of the Thames – and the heads are missing. The murderer likes to keep them.

Mayhem is a masterwork of narrative suspense: a supernatural thriller set in a shadowy, gaslit London, where monsters stalk the cobbled streets and hide in plain sight.

We are taken to the time of Jack the Ripper, but this story is not about him. This is about the Thames Torso murders, a series of murders that happened around the same time but with enough variation that the police figured they were a separate killer. Thomas Bond is a police surgeon that is part of the discovery of the first torso in the New Scotland Yard vault.

Thomas, Aaron Kominski, a suspect in the real Jack the Ripper murders, and a priest are paired up to find the killer, but this is not just a plain serial killer, there is a paranormal twist that helps add to the thriller aspect. Thomas is insistent about using science to explain the murders but the priest has a thrilling paranormal creature that he thinks is the reason for the deaths.

I saw the synopsis of this story was based with the Jack the Ripper murders so I thought this would be great. Little did I know, I was up for one heck of a ride with a completely different killer. I loved Thomas. He was so realistic and kid of reminded me of Johnny Depps character in From Hell.

I loved how realistic the setting was. You can tell a lot of research went into this story. I loved the newspaper clips, they really added to the feel of the book. Although the story bounced around between people and different perspectives, I had no trouble following it.

I really loved this book. If you like mysteries/thrillers you will want to check out this book. Now I’m going to read Pinborough’s other books to see what else I have been missing.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

For more information about Mayhem check out Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads or Sarah Pinborough’s website.

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Reveal (Cryptid Tales – 1) by Brina Courtney

5 stars

(Excerpt from Goodreads) Shay could be the key to ending a war that humans don’t know exist. Of a race of beings that aren’t real, or are they?

Shay Tafford’s childhood has been fatherless, filled instead with memories of speaking to the dead. She is forced to hide her unique ability from those living around her. That’s why it’s been comforting to have Jeremy, a child ghost, as her confidante. But recently he’s been absent, perhaps lost as her father is. When Shay meets Hugh, the guy she’s had a crush on for weeks, and finds he can speak to ghosts too she’s just starting to find a normalcy in her life.

But as Hugh reveals the truth to Shay, about who she really is and about what it is she can do, he erases all chances she had at a normal existence. Turns out talking to ghosts is just scratching the surface of her genetically engineered gifts. Shay learns she may be part of an age old prophecy that could save the entire race of cryptids. But can she?

Shay has been able to communicate with ghosts for as long as she can remember. Her guide has been Jeremy, a young boy that perished in a fire at the orphanage he lived at. Then one day she gets upset and accidently banishes him which she has regretted since then. As Shay is finishing her senior year at high school, she runs into a cute guy, Huge, at the college that her mother works at.

She also meets Wendy, a 6 year-old girl that is looking for her father. Through her, Shay learns that she can summon ghosts from another plane and she learns that Huge and she have more in common than she first though. But she has little time to learn about her new abilities. The Darkness, which started the fire at the orphanage is back and is looking to get its hands on her.

This is a great book. I felt for Shay, she lost her father, can communicate with ghosts, and learns there is more to her than just the talking to the ghosts. I also felt for Huge, you can tell that he didn’t really have much and he has this horrible ability to do the wrong thing when it comes to teaching Shay about her powers. But in the end he is a good guy.

I can’t wait to find out what happens in the nest book. This is a one young adult paranormal story that you don’t want to miss.

 

For more information about Cryptid and the other books in the series be sure to check out Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads.

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In April, I posted about Bad Karma in the Big Easy being available on Amazon, for more on that post you can find it here. Today I am going to post my review for Bad Karma in the Big Easy.

Bad Karma in the Big Easy (Andy Broussard/Kit Franklyn Mystery – 7)

By Don J. Donaldson

5 Stars

(Excerpt from Goodreads) Andy Broussard, the plump and proud New Orleans medical examiner, obviously loves food. Less apparent to the casual observer is his hatred of murderers. Together with his gorgeous sidekick, psychologist Kit Franklyn, the two make a powerful, although improbable, mystery-solving duo. Among the dead collected in The Big Easy floodwaters after Hurricane Katrina are three nude female bodies, all caught in the same brush tangle, none with water in their lungs. Broussard knows in his ample gut that this was not an act of God, and not the work of Katrina. But Broussard has perhaps the biggest challenge of his colorful career. The city and all its records are destroyed, practically the entire population is scattered, the police force has no offices, and many of the rank and file (who haven’t defected) are homeless. Soon, Broussard and his sidekick are on a dangerous journey through the obscenely damaged city, leading them to a kind of evil that neither of them could imagine.

Andy Broussard is slowing going through all the bodies that have been gathered after Katrina struck. As he going through them, he finds something irregular. Three women, that recently gave birth, found naked. Something bothers him from the start and when he discovers that they had been frozen he knows that he is going to have to try and find a killer.

At the same time, Kit is helping on a strange suicide that looks like there was more to it. When she starts looking into it, she learns that the victim was a twin that works at a specialized office that creates lab quality livers for children. But when the killer decides to try and take Kit out of the picture, she doesn’t know if she can keep going on. Then Andy realizes that he missed a vital piece of information and starts questioning his abilities. It looks like this may be the last case for both of them.

This is another great story by Don Donaldson. Amidst the horrors of Katrina and everyone own person regrets from the storms aftermath, Andy and Kit are trying to come to terms with some deaths that happened. I felt for both Andy and Kit and what they went through, I don’t wish that one anyone. And the twist ending, I admit that I kind of had an idea on how it was related but it turned out better than what I had thought, creepy but really good.

This is a great book in a wonderful series. Mystery/thriller readers, you HAVE to read this book.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Check out Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads for more information on this and other books in the series.

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Forever My Lady

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Forever My Lady by Jeff Rivera

4 stars

(Excerpt from Goodreads) Dio Rodriguez grew up on the streets and knew all too well the hard, cool feeling of the barrel of a gun tucked down the back of his jeans. But his hard exterior softened when he met Jennifer. Jennifer understands Dio like no one else and makes him want to be a better man. Suddenly a drive-by shooting lands Dio in a prison boot camp and sends Jennifer to the hospital. When Dio learns that Jennifer is pregnant, he realizes that he must find a way to turn his life around and return to his lady. But can trainee Rodriguez get his act together among the hardcases in prison? And will Jennifer be waiting for him if and when he does?

Dio Rodriguez is part of a Latino gang. The gang is basically his family until he meets Jennifer. But then a drive by happens and Jennifer takes six bullets that were meant for Dio. Dio goes to prison where he learns that Jennifer is pregnant. He realizes how important Jennifer is to him and decides to step up and be the person that Jennifer needs.

I had mixed feelings going into this story. I personally don’t have any love for gangs. So when I started reading the story I was frustrated and irritated about Dio’s laments of the gang. I was also lost with the Spanish slang. Half the time I was guessing what was being said.

Having said that, I had to take a step back and look at the story as a whole. This is a really good story about someone changing their life around for someone they loved. It was well written and kept me turning the pages to find out if Dio had it in himself to change or if he would fall back into the gang life.

This is a really good book. I think this is one that many people will like. It’s definitely one you will want to check out.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

 

For more information about Forever My Lady, check out Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads. To learn more about Jeff Rivera check out his website.

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Evening Stars (Blackberry Island – 3) by Susan Mallery

3 stars

(Excerpt from Goodreads) Small-town nurse Nina Wentworth has made a career out of being a caretaker. More “Mom” than their mother ever was, she sacrificed medical school—and her first love—so her sister could break free. Which is why she isn’t exactly thrilled to see Averil back on Blackberry Island, especially when Nina’s life has suddenly become…complicated.

Nina unexpectedly finds herself juggling two men—her high school sweetheart and a younger maverick pilot who also wants to claim her heart. But as fun as all this romance is, Nina has real life to deal with. Averil doesn’t seem to want the great guy she’s married to, and doesn’t seem to be making headway writing her first book; their mom is living life just as recklessly as she always has; and Nina’s starting to realize that the control she once had is slipping out of her fingers. Her hopes of getting off the island seem to be stretching further away…until her mother makes a discovery that could change everything forever.

But before Nina and Averil can reach for the stars, they have to decide what they want. Will Averil stay? Will Nina leave? And what about the men who claim to love them? Does love heal, or will finding their happy ending mean giving up all they’ve ever wanted?

Nina never got to do things for herself. Her mother never accepted responsibility for either Nina or Averil or even her own antique business. Nina had to step up and fill in the roles. Then she had to forget her dreams of medical school when she ended up having to raise Averil. Now things seem to be getting back to a stable area where Nina might be able to pick up those dreams when she is faced with the possibility of two guys that are showing interest in her.

Then Averil comes back to Blackberry Island. She has never seemed to get a grasp on being an adult. Now she isn’t interested in her husband and can’t figure out what she wants to do in life. So now she is back to try to find herself.

This is not my usual type of book I read. It wasn’t a bad book, and I’m sure there are many people that will love it. I had a hard time connecting with the characters. I felt like Nina was getting the short end of the deal having to be the responsible one in the family. I thought Averil was spoiled and lazy and their mother was just about as bad.

It was a good story in the sense of Nina finally getting out and starting to live her life. For those that like contemporary romances, I think this is one that you will want to read.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

For more information about Evening Stars, check out Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads or Susan Mallery’s website.

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Phase

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Phase by Adam Hamby

5 stars

(Excerpt from Author) Thomas Schaefer is haunted by a memory. He has devoted a large part of his adult life to finding his kidnapped daughter. Since Amber’s disappearance ten years ago, Schaefer has become an expert in the recovery of missing people – his particular specialty is rescuing young adults from cults.

Schaefer inhabits a dark world populated by sinister characters. His obsession with finding Amber draws him down a desperate path. His only seeming sources of succor are Doctor Harry Gilmore, a renowned cult deprogrammer, and Ellen Ovitz, a psychic Schaefer once consulted in his desperation to find his daughter. Gilmore and Ellen represent different approaches to life – the rational and the spiritual – and Schaefer finds himself torn between the two.

Against his better judgment, Schaefer takes on a case that Gilmore brings him – the disappearance of a young girl, Katie Blake. The case shares many similarities with Amber’s kidnapping – the two girls even look the same. Schaefer meets Katie’s mother, Sally Blake and says he will find her missing daughter. Schaefer starts by shaking down known pedophiles, but has little success. He also asks a police contact to investigate an occult symbol found at the scenes of Amber’s and Katie’s kidnappings.

As he encounters events he cannot explain, Schaefer turns to Ellen Ovitz, who tells Schaefer that there is a dark cloud around him – that he must give up the search for his daughter if he is to have any hope of salvation. Alistair Mathers, a distinguished occultist, discovers that Schaefer is at the heart of a dark conspiracy. Schaefer cannot give up the search for his daughter, and finds himself struggling with the challenge of an increasingly macabre world. When he is used to kill an innocent man and implicated in the murder of his police contact, Schaefer goes on the offensive and tracks down the people who are manipulating him.

Schaefer discovers that he and his daughter are part of an occult ceremony that goes back hundreds of years, and that there is much more at stake than their lives: their souls face the prospect of eternal damnation.

Thomas Schaefer had his daughter kidnapped ten years ago. Ever since then he has been hunting her down. Since an occult symbol was found in Amber’s room, Thomas has made cults his specialty. Over the years he has helped may people get loved ones back from cults but he is driven by an obsession to find Amber. This has lead to the destruction of his health, mainly drinking until he passes out.

Thomas has a quick temper and prone to beating the truth out of people. Although he thinks he is firmly set in reality, he does have to depend on a psychic and an occult bookstore owner to give him advice on different parts of The Collective. But that just keeps him fighting for the truth.

This is a great book. Thomas is wracked with guilt about the loss of Amber and will to do anything to find her. But things are not going his way but The Collective keep finding ways to stop him at every turn. They even frame him for the murder of a cop. The worst part is that he doesn’t realize how this is doing nothing but eating him up and leaving a shell of the man he used to be

In all honesty, I have not heard of this book and couldn’t find anything except the press material from the author on what this book was supposed to be about. But I’m so glad that I read this book I got sucked in right away and couldn’t wait to find out what happens next. And when it looked like Thomas was getting close, the story would take a turn for the worse.

This is a great book. There may not be a lot of information out on it at this time, but it is one to add to your list.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

For more information about Phase, check out Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads.

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