Review of ‘The Spirit of Prophecy’

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Rosetta Barrett is a psychic detective, but she can’t tell her family or the public. Then, when a young girl and a horse are brutally killed by an aggressive driver, and it looks like it was a deliberate assassination attempt, her skills are tested to their limits. The Spirit of Prophecy by J. J. Hughes is a mystery with a bit of a paranormal and sci-fi twist—well, actually, more than just a bit. It involves a centuries-old atrocity that took place across the ocean from England, in New Mexico during the 1870s, has alien visitors with unknown agendas, and pits Rosetta against her husband who, after divorcing her, arranged to keep her away from her children.

I suppose I’d call this a piece of experimental fiction, given the fusion of genres. The author takes the reader through the story from multiple perspectives, and keeps one guessing until all—or, almost all—is revealed.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. It was an enjoyable read that engaged me from the start. I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Blame the Devil’

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DI Julian Fleetwood is assigned the case when the blood-drained corpse of a schoolgirl is found in London. In the course of his investigation, he meets Varya Dean, the daughter of a slain police officer, who has a brilliant mind, but troubled emotions. Working together, they discover a dangerous cult which threatens not just their lives, but their sanity.

Blame the Devil by L. K. Moore is a riveting mystery with more than a slight touch of the paranormal that will hook you from the opening paragraphs, and not let go until you reach the surprising ending.

For either mystery or paranormal fans, this is a must read.

I give it five stars.

Review of ‘Ash Addict’

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Arthur ‘The Hat’ Salzman can’t get a break. He’s practicing summoning demons—out of curiosity, mind you—when an unwanted guest arrives at his little hideaway. As if he doesn’t have enough problems, his guest wants his help finding the ashes of the First Vampire, and Arthur suspects his motives are nefarious. How right he is! Vampires addicted to ashes want to acquire the First’s ashes to usher in a new vampire era, a quest that pits vampire against vampire, and involves a whole host of other beings with powers; and greet. And, right in the middle of this battle that could destroy the world as they know is no one but Arthur himself.

Ash Addict by Al K. Line is book eight in the Wildcat Wizard series, and it doesn’t disappoint. Lots of action, magical and otherwise, as Arthur tries to bring a chaotic situation under control with the minimum amount of damage. Of course, where Arthur’s involved, degree of damage is a malleable concept, especially when he feels his family threatened.

I received a complimentary copy of this book, and, what can I say, I loved it as usual. Don’t let this one slip away.

I give it five stars.

Review of ‘Cursed Magic’

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Cursed Magic by Antara Mann is a quick read, not because it’s a short story—which it definitely is not—but because it moves at the breakneck pace of a hundred-meter dash. Half-goddess Alexandra Shaw, with the help of her lover, the fae, Kagan, battles one hybrid dangerous demon after another, while trying to find a cure for the curse put upon her by the dastardly infiniti. The action never stops from page one, and by the time you reach the last page—which, like I said, is mercifully quick for the faint of heart, you’re breathless. If you like fantasy and speed, this is the book to read. Deliciously entertaining. I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Kinky Bones’

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Wizards and witches don’t mix very well. Arthur ‘The Hat’ Salzman, wizard enforcer and all-around gangster, knows this, and usually avoids them. But, when Selma (aka Mrs. Pink), a young witch, impersonates Ivan, brother of his sidekick, Vicky, and head of the vampires, and hacks their bank accounts, and then impersonates his daughter, George, Arthur finds himself up to his fabled hat in witches. Mabel, queen of the witches, is up to something that’s definitely not good, and wants Arthur’s help, but, being witches, she and her coven go about it in all the wrong ways until the appearance of the kinky bones, the skeletal remnants of an all-powerful witch, complicates things beyond imagining. As if this wasn’t confusing enough, Arthur meets Penelope, a citizen who has never seen magic, wizards, or dead bodies, and falls in love with her. From that point, things just go downhill.

Kinky Bones by Al K. Line is number 7 in the Wildcat Wizard series, and if you’ve read and liked the first six, you will be totally captivated by this one. The Hat at his best (or worse, depending upon your point of view) as he deals with batty witches, devilish plots, and murderous bones. Just as the bones get Arthur around the throat, and other sensitive, but unmentionable parts of his body, this book will grab your attention and not let go until you reach the end.

I received a complimentary copy of Kinky Bones in exchange for my unbiased, honest review, and honestly, what can I say; it’s one heck of a great read. Don’t let this one get away.

I give it five stars.

Review of ‘Prophecy of Ashes’

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Doing tarot readings to earn extra money, Diane suspects that she has psychic abilities. When her special-needs brother, Josh, tells her that she does not need the tarot cards, she’s loathe to believe him, until she’s visited by the ghost of a young woman who informs her that she comes from a long line of witches. When she’s kidnapped by Jacob, a wraith who has engaged in a cycle of murder and theft of life from a virgin every fifty years for hundreds of years, she must quickly master her new abilities, or die. Her quest is added by the father-son team of Connor and Liam, bounty hunters from an ancient order whose mission is to find and destroy wraiths, her Nana, and a young nursing student who also has psychic powers.

Prophecy of Ashes by John R. Monteith is a gripping paranormal tale of treachery, death, and magic that will captivate you on every page, and hold your interest until the bloody climax.

I received an advance reader copy of this book. A compelling read that I give four stars.

Review of ‘Lost Hope’

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After concluding a messy battle with a slimy beast, and completing the assigned retrieval, Arthur ‘The Hat’ Salzman, and his sidekick, the homicidal housewife, Vicky, go to get their payment. But, their client, ‘Juice’, has decided that he wants some ‘excitement’ in his life. After summoning the Hangman, and ordering him to kill his mother, Martha, Juice hooks up with Arthur and Vicky, and gets them started on a dangerous escapade that threatens not only their lives, but the lives of their loved ones.

Lost Hope by Al K. Line is book number six in the Wildcat Wizard series, and, just like the first five, has a generous helping of matricide, monstercide, and just about every other form of offing bad guys. Whipped back and forth between his normal plane of existence and a few unimaginable other worlds, Arthur decides that his only way out is to send Juice and his minions to their final rest. But, his plans are complicated by the appearance of an old nemesis with an agenda of his own.

If this book doesn’t get your juices flowing, you, my friend, are juiceless. This is without a doubt, the best book of this series, and I can’t wait to see what The Hat gets up to next.

I received a free copy of this book, and I give it five stars. It shines in the universe of paranormal adventure books.

Review of ‘Honor Bound’

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Arthur, the Wildcat Wizard, is back and as brash as ever. With his life approaching something like normalcy, and in new digs, he’s offered a job he can’t refuse from the vampire First. Honor bound to complete his new mission, but as usual, things go from bad to worse, and the bodies quickly start piling up.

Honor Bound by Al K. Line is the fifth book in the Wildcat Wizard series, and Arthur and his hat are mired in the usual controversy, with enough action to get your blood pumping and the heat flowing on a cold winter’s day.

Lots of supernatural hanky-panky to jazz up your reading. I received a free copy of this one, and it doesn’t disappoint.

I give it five stars – what else!

Review of ‘Extreme Heat Warning’

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FBI agents Roger Dance and Paul Casey must reopen what they thought was a closed case. Killers, James Devon and William Patterson, with high-level help, have escaped on the eve of their trials, and their trail leads to the teeming streets and steaming swamps in and around New Orleans. The two agents, with the help of a band of angels, must brave voodoo, corruption, and doubt as they pursue two of the deadliest perps they’ve ever encountered.

Extreme Heat Warning by Vicki Graybosch, et al follows them as they cope with things they were never taught at Quantico. This is book 2 of the Shallow End Gals series, and I have to admit the plot is fascinating. The prose, however, tends to choppiness, and the switches from third to first person are confusing at first. A bit too much telling, and not enough showing for a story that begs to be ‘shown,’ with the exotic locales and quirky characters—main and supporting.

I worked my way through it, and, unfortunately, found the ending a bit too murky for my taste. I give this one three stars, but must admit, it does show promise.

Review of ‘The Amulet Thief’

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When her mother was murdered, young Alex Kelley was spirited away from NYC to Indiana by her mother’s best friend, Ava. After 21 years of a secretive existence, Alex returns to New York seeking answers to her mother’s death. She first encounters shadowy beings who seem to be following her, and then she meets Greer Sinclair, a mysterious man who seems to know more about her and her past than he should. The more she delves into her past, the more questions she has. Who are what is Greer, and more importantly, just what is she? The key seems to be an amulet her mother gave her just before she died, and when it goes missing, things heat up for Alex. Can she find the amulet, and unlock the dark secrets of her past before unknown forces end her life? Only time will tell.

The Amulet Thief by Luanne Bennett is an eclectic blend of the modern and the supernatural that makes for captivating reading from start to finish. The dynamic between Alex and Greer, though never fully explained, appears to be the point around which all other actions revolve. An exciting book that is hard to put down.

I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Seashells, Spells, & Caramels’

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Imogen Banks has scrimped and saved to amass enough money to open her own bakery. Just when she’s reached her monetary goal, her dreams go up in flames. But, she has somehow managed to become a contestant in a mysterious baking contest at an island off the coast of France. With nothing to lose—literally, as everything burned up in when her apartment went up in flames—she buys a ticket to France.
Once at the mysterious island, she encounters something she’s never believed in before, magic. Her skills are put to the test as she contends with magical creatures, including a wise cracking cooking flame, and a contestant dropping dead in the middle of the competition, and her humble self being looked at as the prime suspect.
Time is running short for Imogen. She must find the real killer, dig deep to find the baking skills to prevail in a contest she has no hope of winning, and learn to deal with the fact that, despite her inability to cast even the simplest spell, she is herself a creature of magic.
Seashells, Spells & Caramels by Erin Johnson is a delightful cozy mystery, with liberal doses of murder, mayhem, and magic, that will entertain you on every page. This book will delight both mystery fans and those who like the supernatural. It is unnaturally entertaining.
I received a free copy of this author’s first novel, and give it five stars for its sheer entertainment value.

Review of ‘Awaken’

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Chloe Kowalski lives in Kansas, but she has an obsession with the ocean which she can’t explain. To complicate matters, her parents have an almost insane aversion to water, and won’t even let her learn to swim. One summer, she runs away—although, it’s not her intent to run away, she just wants to see the ocean, so she sneaks off with her best friend to her blended family’s home on the coast.

Once there, though, strange things begin to happen. Her attraction to the ocean grows stronger, and one day, while out for a boat ride, the ocean acts up and the vessel capsizes. Underwater, Chloe sees a strange boy, and finds that she can talk to him; underwater. Then, she’s attacked in a bookstore by a clerk acting mad, and soon she learns that a band of killers are after her. Her only way to survive is to come to grips with what she really is, a mixture of human and mermaid.

Awaken by Skye Malone is a riveting paranormal tale that explores the intersection of the human world and the world of the inhabitants under the sea, and the conflicts that plague both. The characters, human and nonhuman, are rich in detail and motivation, and the action is nonstop. I only had one gripe about the story, a point of logic; while Chloe’s parents have gone to great lengths to conceal her heritage by keeping her away from water, it’s not explained how they dealt with bathing, drinking, or mundane tasks like washing dishes. This small point notwithstanding, it was still an entertaining story.

I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Ephemeral

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Ephemeral by best-selling author Addison Moore is, well, ephemeral. Laken Stewart remembers being on a road, driving madly, angry at her cheating boyfriend, then, the last thing she remembers is the headlights of the oncoming car, and kissing her windshield as she plows through it. Two months later, she finds herself . . . somewhere else, with a new name, and a new family—people she neither recognizes nor remembers, until Wesley, her long-dead first love, shows up, and tries to convince her that she’s been suffering amnesia as the result of a fall, and being in a medically induced coma for two months. Addison, though, remembers. She died on that highway, and has somehow been resurrected—or, has she?

What follows will keep you flipping pages, trying, along with Addison, to make sense of what’s happening. Is Wesley real, and has he also been resurrected and placed in a strange place, hundreds of miles from their home in Kansas? And, what is she to make of Cooper Flanders, son of the resident shrink, who says he believes her when she recounts her memories, while everyone else continues to maintain what she knows deep down inside is a fiction? Snatches of humor, as post-hormonal teens play out the drama that is the lot of teens everywhere, and stretches of outright horror as Addison contends with the zombies prowling the forest surrounding her new home.

The story ends in a cliffhanger of sorts, as Addison, Wes, and Cooper face off against hosts of warring angels and other mythical creatures, among which they must also count themselves. This is not mere escapist entertainment. Buried within the surrealistic scenes are gems of truth, and ferreting them out makes it worth the read.

I give Moore four stars for this entertaining read.

Review of ‘Adored by the Alpha Bear’

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Alice Lenore is a popular romance writer, but she’s unable to deal with the real thing. She hires a housekeeper to help out around her house, but when it turns out to be Luka Oxendine, a hunk of a man, who also happens to be a bear shape shifter, her life is turned upside down and inside out.
Adored by the Alpha Bear by K.T. Stryker is a paranormal romance mystery comedy farce, and if you think that’s a mouthful, you have to read the story. Alice is adorable as a slightly klutzy, dysfunctional protagonist, while Luka is conflicted in his role as alpha male who finds himself in love with the apparently (but not really) weak heroine. The rest of the characters are not quite as fully developed, and their fates are left undetermined for the most part, but the story’s worth reading for Alice and Lukas’s parts.
I received a free copy of this book. I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Missy the Werecat’

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At the age of thirteen, while away at soccer camp, Missy experienced a dramatic ‘change.’ The onset of puberty triggered genes within her, transforming her into a mountain lion. Afraid of possible danger to her family or others, she ran away into the mountains, where, for two years, she learned to deal with the change, and developed the ability to switch between human and cat at will.

On the way back home, Missy came to the attention of the authorities when she staged a dramatic, almost unbelievable rescue of a family trapped in a wrecked car. Doctors learned that, despite potentially life-threatening injuries, she had an amazing ability to heal, and the FBI agent who had been investigating her disappearance believed she’d been abducted, had somehow killed her abductor, and was unwilling to provide the details because of the trauma.

Reunited with her family, Missy begins to develop her skills, and uses them to help others, including going up against a notorious crime boss. All the while, the FBI’s Paranormal Division is keeping an eye on her.

Missy the Werecat by P. G. Allison is a charming story; a mystery with violence and death, but also with interesting touches of humor. While the theme, a strong female character able to hold her own against all comers, is fascinating, there is entirely too much ‘telling’ rather than ‘showing,’ especially in the first half of the book. This is definitely movie material, a la ‘Cat Woman,’ but the book would be infinitely better if there were more showing of Missy’s transformation, rather than straight narrative ‘telling.’

The author gets high marks for the theme, but the excessive telling forces me to drop the rating to three stars.

Review of ‘Southern Spirits’

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Verity Long, a freelance graphics designer, is out of work and, because of a vengeful ex-fiancé whom she left at the altar, and his mother, she’s in danger of losing her home. One day, she accidentally traps the ghost of a dead mobster on her property, setting off a chain of events that forever change her life.

The ghost, Frankie the German, enables her to see other spirits, and when Ellis Wydell, the sheriff of Sugarland, TN, and brother to Beau, her ex, asks her help in exorcising ghosts from a property he bought, her changed life gets dangerous. Not only must she contend with angry spirits capable of doing her great harm, but there’s a live person out there trying to kill both her and Ellis.

Southern Spirits by Angie Fox is the first book in a planned series featuring Verity and her sidekick, Frankie, dealing with wayward spirits and other assorted bad guys and gals. It’s well-paced mystery and to use a southern euphemism, as funny as a bucket full of crabs. Verity is a main character, a la Kinsey Milhone with ghosts and goblins thrown into the mix, who you simply cannot help but like. Even some of the vengeful ghosts arouse a certain amount of sympathy.

If you like stories about things that go bump in the night, and give you goose bumps, you’ll love this one. Can’t wait to read the next offering in the series.

An easy five-star rating.

Review of ‘Bite of a Vampire’

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Emily Johnson is a PI who specializes in catching cheating spouses. Her life changes when she witnesses a vampire attacking one of the spouses she’s tailing. When she meets Michael, a ‘good’ vampire, she’s plunged into a world of supernatural madness, and she’s not sure she can survive.

Bite of a Vampire by Anna Belsky is a paranormal romance that follows Emily as she and Michael, with the aid of an ancient vampire hunter, set out to find and defeat an evil vampire who is breaking all the rules of vampire protocol. Along the way, she finds romance can really take a ‘bite’ out of you.

An interesting story, but the grammar really needs polish. I forced myself to read it all the way through, and found the plotting not too bad, but some really intensive proofreading would improve it immeasurably.

I received a free copy of the Kindle version of this book.

I can only give this book three stars.

Review of ‘Blood Warrior’

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Alexa Montgomery is not your regular 17-year-old. She has a quick temper, and in her school where she’s a junior, she has only two friends, her sister, Nelly, and Jackson, like her, an outlier. Her mother ‘trains’ her in fighting almost every day, in the roughest way imaginable, and insists that she and Nelly run to and from school every day. She understands none of this until their home is attacked by vampires, and she’s forced to flee with Nelly, leaving her mother to certain death.

During their escape, aided by Jack, Alexa learns that she’s the last of a race of supernatural warriors, people who possess the positive traits of nearly all other supernatural races, and she’d apparently the ‘chosen’ one whose destiny is to ‘save’ all the others. What this means, she has no idea, but she quickly discovers that she has abilities not possessed by others—she’s inhumanly fast, and capable of defeating fighters twice her size. Her problem, she’s not sure what she’s been ‘chosen,’ for, nor is she sure she wants this responsibility.

The more she learns, though, the more she is determined to ‘fix’ the world she knows, even if it means leaving those she loves behind.

Blood Warrior by H. D. Gordon is a pulse-tingling young adult fantasy. The graphic violence and blunt discussion of male-female relationships demand that parents exercise discretion about allowing young teens or pre-teens to read it; but it’s an entertaining story that will delight maturing and mature readers. I particularly liked the way the author integrated the supernatural world with the modern world in a way that is almost believable.

I give it four stars.

Review of ‘What She Inherits’

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During her junior year in college, Angela Ellis’s mother dies, and she returns to her childhood home in South Carolina to settle the estate. In her old home, she encounters her mother’s ghost, and strange messages that unsettle her. Enlisting the assistance of a ghost hunter, she tries to decipher the messages. What she learns is disturbing; was Deb, really her mother, or was her entire life a lie?

In the meantime, on Devil’s Back Island in Maine, Casey, living with her aunt, is also troubled. Hesitant to make human connections, she lives a life adrift.

As Angela learns more about her background, the lives of the two women slowly intersect until they both discover what they lost two decades earlier.

What She Inherits by Diane v. Mulligan is an intriguing story that is part paranormal, part coming-of-age, and part epic fiction about human relationships, and the enduring impact they have on people’s lives. The author switches between Angela and Casey in a story that builds the suspense chapter-by-chapter until it reaches a satisfying conclusion. You’ll become so invested in the two women’s quest for closure, you’ll find the supernatural elements taking a distant background role in the story.

I found this to be a thoroughly entertaining read. I received a free copy of this book.

I give this story four stars.

Review of ‘Fade to Black’

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Jeff Grobnagger is a 27-year-old slacker who wants nothing more than to be left alone. His problem, though, is that he keeps blacking out at the most inopportune times and having the same dream; he’s strung upside down in an alley and a hooded man keeps killing him—many times in fact.

Jeff meets mustachioed Glenn whose daughter, who was involved with some arcane cult, is missing, and Louise, a PI who is investigating the various cults interested in astral projection among other things. To further complicate matters, Jeff learns that someone is interested in him because of his dreams, and they just might be trying to kill him for real.

Fade to Black is book one in the Awake in the Dark series by Tim McBain and L.T. Vargus. This is a book that defies genre categorization. It has elements of the paranormal—actually, more the para-abnormal—mystery, and macabre humor. The characters are captivating, and the plot doesn’t unfold; rather it folds and refolds in a most byzantine way, leaving you wondering just what the heck is going on. You reach the end, and you’re still not sure what just happened, only that you thoroughly enjoyed it.

I give it four stars.