BOOK REVIEW: John Carpenter Presents Storm Kids – Sacred Hearts by Steve Niles #graphicnovels #horror #NetGalley

For Chris, Dirk and Shelley, life in their small town has always been quiet. But they have all heard about the Franklin Farm… a place they should never go near. When the three best friends decide to build a tree fort in the woods, they dare each other to go to there in search of wood, and find themselves in a strange world they never expected, setting off a terrible chain of events. In this place, monsters are created, and an ancient evil from an old family curse is rising within their little town. But in all the chaos, they come to learn that not all monsters are bad. Some are special… some are born with a Sacred Heart… From his horrific beginnings, this special Monster was born from a broken pact with evil, and somehow a door to a dark world had been opened. With the help of their new Monstrous friend, the kids try to stop the destructive forces happening all around them, and end the curse once and for all.

Get it at Amazon or Barnes & Noble

MY REVIEW

5 stars!

I admit I wanted to read this because I’m a John Carpenter fan. I loved the artwork and the storyline held my attention from beginning to end. While the story was mostly predictable, there were some unexpected twists that kept me entertained. The artwork alone is enough reason to add this one to my collection. If you’re looking for horror that’s not overly gory, you can’t go wrong with Sacred Hearts. Great for young adults, and adults who are young at heart.

A gripping, fast-paced read with gritty artwork, Sacred Hearts is a must-have for horror fans!

BOOK REVIEW: Mad as a Hatter by Kendra Moreno #darkfantasy #bookreview #fairytales


Descend into Madness… 

Clara spent her whole life fighting in courtrooms for the downtrodden, the strange ones, the abused. It’s only natural that when a man with rabbit ears on his head comes to see her, she doesn’t blink an eye… 
…until he opens a portal and drags her to Wonderland. 

But this isn’t the world she’s read about at home. This world has been twisted, poisoned by none other than the Red Queen. 

There’s a prophecy, the only chance Wonderland has of survival. Clara is foretold to defeat the Knave and claim the Hatter’s heart. But there’s a problem. The Hatter is insane and Wonderland is full of unspeakable horrors. Death waits behind every tree. If the Beezles don’t get you, the Bandersnatch will. 

Can Clara embrace the madness and her destiny, or will the reign of the Red Queen continue? 

This isn’t the Wonderland you know… 

**This is a Horror Romance retelling of Wonderland filled with all the creatures and characters you thought you knew. It contains gore, adult themes, and a sexy Hatter. Each book in the series can be read as a stand-alone, although, it is suggested to be read in order. 

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MY REVIEW:

5-stars!

A stunning, if bloodthirsty, retelling of Alice in Wonderland! By far the best one I’ve read…

Clara leads a relatively normal, boring life, until the day she spots a man in the courtroom with bunny ears. Little did she realize seeing him would be the start of an amazing adventure. But tumbling down the rabbit hole is nothing like the fairytale. Wonderland is full of danger, and Clara is their only hope of survival.

I’ve always loved the character of the Mad Hatter and Ms. Moreno’s version is positively delicious! All dark, brooding, and mad… Hatter is intriguing and sexy. How could Clara not fall for him?

Their path is drought with danger, bloodshed, and death… but their love and Clara’s bravery will help save Wonderland.

Absolutely fabulous! I can’t wait to see what happens next in the Sons of Wonderland series. I’m hooked!

*Disclaimer: The author did not request a review for this title. I purchased a copy at Amazon. The review above is only my opinion.

BOOK REVIEW: Sword of Light (The Four Keys) by J. C. Lucas #yafantasy #bookreview @lucas_author


Bloodthirsty creatures. A vindictive Queen of Elves… And a fierce teenage girl, willing to take them all on.

Andie didn’t expect to be orphaned. Now she has no parents, no Nan, no one but Anne, the weird social worker who carries on conversations with old books and empty purses.

Anne takes her to a small town in Texas to live with her new guardian, Celeste, an eccentric figure among many who seem to know something that Andie doesn’t. One evening, the woods behind Celeste’s house spirit Andie away, and she discovers a secret so incredible that she can scarcely believe it. Her destiny is to find the four Keys that will save the Tuatha de Danann from annihilation.

Worlds collide when two of her new friends from school, the sweet, helpful Teagan and the rude bad boy Hunter, join her on her journey to reach the mysterious place known only as Finias in search of the first Key, The Sword of Light.

As they flee the wicked Fomorians and battle with the Queen of Elves, Andie and the boys forge new alliances and make more adversaries. Will Andie and her friends rise to the challenge, or is the magical realm as good as gone already?

Get it at Amazon:

https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B088DKTL4C/

MY REVIEW:

5 stars!

Sword of Light is an action-packed young adult fantasy with the age old tale of good vs evil. Fae, witches, shifters, and more fill the pages… It was well-written with every chapter leaving me eager to find out what happened next. Can’t wait to read the next book in the series!

BOOK REVIEW: Seeker by Suzana #youngadult #bookreview

Mila meets a boy who is not quite human. He’s drawn to her even though she’s not supposed to see him. Nobody can escape death, but Death can’t escape Mila.
This book is recommended for ages 16+ due to adult content.

MY REVIEW:
3-stars

Death is feared by many, but there’s one girl who captivates him….

The book description sounded like an amazing paranormal read… but that wasn’t what I got.

The story of Silas and Mila took me by surprise. It’s definitely more of a Christian romance than paranormal, if you could call it romance. While I enjoyed parts of the story, there were a few things that made this an uncomfortable read. The relationship between Mila and Silas develops too quickly once she reaches the age of sixteen. She allows his feelings for her to be her guide and Silas’ conviction that they’re destined for one another makes Mila doubt her feelings and herself. She quickly swings from one extreme to the next. For me, that part of the story wasn’t romantic in the slightest.

Silas’ almost overnight transition to talking about God all the time and suddenly wanting to be a minister doesn’t come across as being from his devout faith. It has a more troublesome feel to it, as does Mila’s constant need to defend him and his beliefs. It set off warning bells for me with more of a cult vibe. If the author’s intention was to spread the news about God, she nearly made me want to run far in the opposite direction as quickly as possible. The character of Tara in particular is a great example. She’s exactly the sort of Christian who runs people off. You can be devout in your faith without beating everyone else over the head with your bible.

The relationship between Mila and Silas in the last chapters somewhat redeemed the story for me. Yet even through her excitement over their future, she still questioned her love for him. After they have sex, she’s suddenly madly in love. While I didn’t agree with their relationship, not as it was written, I enjoyed seeing her happy with him toward the end.

The sudden explosion of Christianity aside, the book held my attention. It’s definitely unlike any teen book I’ve ever read. But reader be warned, there are no happy endings here.

*Disclaimer: The review above is my honest opinion. I received an ARC via NetGalley.

BOOK REVIEW: The Haunting of Hartley House by Eve S. Evans #paranormal #thriller

Book cover for The Haunting of Hartley House


What could cause a happy father to commit a horrific murder suicide?
Nadia has spent years in foster care wondering what would have pushed her father to do something so awful. As an adult—and a national bestselling crime writer—she once again encounters her childhood home… in the newspaper.
The home harbors more secrets than she could ever have imagined.
As she researches, an idea comes to her; why not join up with the paranormal team working there to clear the paranormal negative energy from the house? As the sole survivor of a horrific experience, she might help them find what they’re looking for… and it’ll be fantastic fodder for her next book. Except Nadia has no idea what’s in store for her at the house, or what’ll happen when the survivor that shouldn’t have lived returns. 

MY REVIEW:

3-stars

The Haunting of Hartley House lacked the suspense I’ve come to expect from a book about a haunted house. There were times it felt more like the author was telling me what happened instead of showing me. I did enjoy the story, but it came across as very two-dimensional. The “haunting” parts were a bit too flat. I didn’t experience the spike of anxiety or fear when the evil entity was present. Even though we’re told it’s there, a creepy voice and unexplained shadows didn’t lend the book enough of a horror vibe. AI will say the prologue was very well done. It set a tone I’d hoped would carry throughout the book. All in all, it wasn’t a bad read, but it wasn’t thrilling either.

*Disclaimer: The review above is only my opinion. I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

BOOK REVIEW: Of Shadows and Elves (Of Goblin Kings #2) by Emma Hamm #bookreview #fantasy @EmmaHammAuthor

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Freya couldn’t have known she would destroy the entire faerie court by beating the Goblin King. All she wanted was her sister back, not to imprison the king. But with her sister refusing to return home, Freya is left trapped in her own mess. She has to fix what she broke or the faerie realm will get infinitely more dangerous.

Bring the Goblin King back. Save the people she harmed. And do her best to avoid the temptation of falling into the Goblin King’s arms. Considering the Goblin King is locked away in a magical prison, at least one of her goals may be impossible to achieve…

…unless she’s willing to go through hardships unnumbered.

Fans of Sarah J. Maas and the Labyrinth will be left guessing at every turn!

Freya already beat the Goblin King. But can she defeat the Goblin Queen?

My Review:

5 stars

A Goblin King and Goblin Queen, a mortal who is maybe something more, and the adventure of a lifetime…

Freya is on another journey, this time to fix what she’s broken and restore the Goblin King to the throne. When she bested him at his own game, she never realized it would leave the land of the fae destroyed, or put a monster on the throne. As she learns more about the Winter Princess – now turned Goblin Queen – she must decide if she’s capable of seeing things through to the end. Does she have the courage to do what must be done?

The story is full of intrigue, adventure, and romance…although the romance is definitely front and center. Freya’s struggle to admit her feelings about the Goblin King takes up a bit of the story, but the main focus is on Freya herself, and whether or not she has what it takes to bring a happy ending to the tale. Can she free the fae or will she fail?

If you’re looking for an epic adventure with a heroine who is stronger than she realizes, a hero who will happily let the heroine save the day, and an abundance of magic, you can’t go wrong with Of Shadows and Elves. But be warned, you may be somewhat lost if you don’t first read book one – Of Goblins and Gold. It’s my sincere hope there will be a third adventure for Freya, the Goblin King, and all the other wonderful characters we’ve met so far.

*Disclaimer: The review above is only my opinion. I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

BOOK REVIEW: How I Die (Raised by Monsters) by Lili Black #YAfantasy #bookreview

New school means a new, normal, human life. Or, at least, that’s the plan.

After being hunted by a crazed werewolf, Halie’s paranormal parents have promised her a normal senior year full of all the normal, human high school experiences Halie’s always dreamed of.

At her new school, everything is looking up for Halie. She’s dating the quarterback, her best friend is head of the cheer squad, and no one looks at Halie like she’s a freak. She has everything she ever wanted, so why isn’t she happy?

When a new boy appears in school, Halie takes one look at him and knows he’s trouble. He’s tall, dark, and a vampire. Which means Halie’s not interested. So why do their paths keep crossing? And why does he make her feel flutters when the human boyfriend she thought she wanted just isn’t living up to her expectations?

With Homecoming and a full moon drawing near, can Halie keep her tenuous hold on normal? And does she even want to?

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Get it at Amazon

MY REVIEW

5 stars

A fantastic YA fantasy story! It’s a quick read, but the pages are filled with teen drama, romance, and humor. It kept me entertained from page one, and I was sorry to see it end. I’m eagerly anticipating the next installment in the series. This was my first time reading anything by Ms. Black, and while this is book 2 in the series, I didn’t feel lost at all.

Halie is a strong-willed young woman. Although she wants to experience all a “normal” high school life could offer, she permits herself to be emotionally and verbally abused by her so-called boyfriend and best friend. She’s so desperate to fit in with humans, she didn’t stop to think that maybe the magical community aren’t the real monsters and humans aren’t as fabulous as she thinks. Her inability to see the truth puts her in harm’s way, even though there are a dashing werewolf and vampire eager to keep her safe.

The story does end on a cliffhanger, but that’s typical of this particular genre.

Overall, a thrilling read that left me wanting more…

*Disclaimer: The review above is only my opinion. I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

BOOK REVIEW: Of Goblins and Gold (Of Goblin Kings #1) by Emma Hamm #Fantasy #bookreview

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To save her sister, she must beat a goblin at his own game…
Freya knows the sound of goblin bells. She knows to move to the side of the road and let them pass. Never buy any of their wares. And above all else, never make a deal with the monstrous beasts.

But when her sister takes a necklace and is kidnapped, Freya knows there is no other choice. She must journey to the realm of the fae where the Goblin King himself has stolen her sister. Once there, she must perform four tasks to save the only family she has left.

The Goblin King won’t make this easy, however. He always seems one step ahead of her. To defeat him, she’ll have to put everything on the line.

Even her heart.

Fan of Sarah J. Maas and Ursula K. Le Guin will be left guessing at every turn!

MY REVIEW:

5 stars!

It has fantasy, adventure, a bit of romance, and magic…

When Freya set off to save her sister from the goblins, she never counted on entering a game of sorts with the Goblin King. Determined to free Esther from his evil clutches, she meets each challenge — with a little help from a goblin named Arrow and even the Goblin King himself.

It’s clear from a reader’s standpoint the Goblin King is falling for Freya, even though she’s determined he’s the villain of her story. It never occurred to her that perhaps being in the land of the fae was exactly where she belonged. She fights him at every turn, determined to best him, but the end gives us a surprising twist…

Definitely a new favorite series!

*Disclaimer: The review above is only my opinion. The author did not request a review. I purchased/borrowed through Amazon.

BOOK REVIEW: The Cursed Crown (The Darker Woods) by May Sage as Alexi Blake #EpicFantasy

My lips hitch up an inch as the hulking, slender man bends down to whisper in my ear. “A divided kingdom without a leader is weak. You will fall. You will fail. You will all die without my kindness, little girl.”

He expects me to falter, shiver, and drop my gaze to the ground like the flock of gentry buzzing around him.

My eyes widen in feigned dismay. “Kindness? Why did no one think to tell me you had any?”

I have to allow him that one concession: Rydekar is fun to tease.

He doesn’t even smile. I don’t think anyone has taunted him. “I have none. You will beg nonetheless.”

I just may, in his dreams. And in my nightmares.

No one was ever born less suited to ruling than Rissa, the thorn of the seelie realm—a half-fae so wild she’s spent the better part of a hundred years in the woods.

For all her flaws, she’s the last of the high court bloodline, and the southern king seems to think that’s reason enough to slap a crown on her feathered head. He needs her to unify the seelie forces. She needs him to forget about that nonsense.

In an effort to aid her people without condemning herself to a lifetime of misery, she sets off on a journey to find the one person with a stronger claim to the throne than hers: the cursed prince.

Sealed in the mountains of the Wilderness, under many spells, the heir of the first seelie queen is the only royal strong enough to protect the fae lands from their immortal invaders.

Surviving the untamed tribes and awakening a thousand-year-old prince seem a lot easier than ruling an entire kingdom where everyone hates her very nature.

And her choices won’t come without consequences.

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MY REVIEW

5 stars!

Magic. Intrigue. Action. Romance. The Cursed Crown has all this and more.

Rissa is a feisty fae heroine who isn’t afraid to sting with sharp words, but falling for the Unseelie king terrifies her. I loved that Rye accepted her, and loved the unique characteristics Rissa thought made her ugly. She was strong, even though it took an epic journey for her to realize her true worth and unlock all her abilities.

The Unseelie king knew Rissa was his mate long before he sought her help. Despite his need for her, he knows he must put the people before his own desires. His arrogance, and Rissa’s reactions, add humor to the story. She loves disobeying just to see how he’ll react.

The Cursed Crown took me on an epic adventure with magic, danger, and romance. I couldn’t put it down! Definitely a 5-star fantasy read!

*Dislcimaer: The review above is only my opinion. I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

Book Blitz & Review: Shifting Silence by Laura Bickle #UrbanFantasy @Laura_Bickle

Shifting Silence 

Mane Shift

Book One
Laura Bickle 
 
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Fantasy
 
ASIN: B08X51X1RQ
 
Publisher: Syrenka Publishing LLC
 
Publication Date: February 21, 2021

Book Description:

This witch takes in strays. Stray animals, not stray ex-boyfriends, magical cultists, or shifters.

At least, that used to be the rule…

Luna Summerwood has always taken in strays. As a witch who runs a veterinary clinic, she’s healed creatures that fly, swim, and crawl. She’s not the most powerful Summerwood witch; her only magic is the ability to communicate with animals. But when an exotic maned wolf
is brought to her in the dead of night, Luna is plunged into the shadowy underground world of shifter trafficking.

With the help of her ex-boyfriend—who also happens to be a local deputy and someone who pushes all her buttons—she investigates a series of occult crimesinvolving missing farm animals. After her ex is nearly killed, Luna discovers thatthe Casimir, a cult of magical
collectors, plans to steal the maned wolf.

This beautiful maned wolf is more than he seems—he’s a shapeshifting man named Renan.He was once captured by the Casimir and forced to do their dark bidding. Luna is his last chance at finding sanctuary…and perhaps love.

But the Casimir want more than just Renan. Centuries ago, the Summerwoods warred with the Casimir. Now, these sorcerers will stop at nothing to possess the Summerwood land and theburied magic of the witches themselves.

Amazon

Excerpt 1

My skin was crawling. That guy was one of the Casimir sorcerers…I had to warn Sandy and her deputies. I jogged up the gravel driveway, past the mailbox, to the parked sheriff’s car. Something was weird about the car. The windows were rolled up, and water leaked in a stream from beneath the car, too much to be condensation from air conditioning.

“Hey,” I said, knocking on the dirty passenger side window, trying to get the attention of the deputy who sat there, staring through his sunglasses at his phone.

But he didn’t move.

It took me a second to realize that the car was full of water.

Dread pooling in my belly, I yanked open the car door. Water splashed all over my legs, nearly knocking me over. The whole interior of the car reeked of magic. I staggered back to the car to touch the guy’s neck.

I couldn’t feel a pulse. He was dead.

Tires squealed on gravel. Down the road, the Jeep swerved, as if there were a fight going on inside.

I reached into the deputy’s gun belt and yanked out his gun. I had no idea how well it would work after being underwater, but I needed something to protect myself. I slammed my fingers to the radio, but it had shorted out.

I looked up again to see a long-legged canine loping down the road, toward the Jeep. I recognized Renan in the shape of a maned wolf. Running as fast as he could, ears pinned back, he was gaining on the Jeep.

I ran down the road. I couldn’t let Voss escape now. He knew where I lived, and he would surely see Renan alive now. If he told the rest of the Casimir, we were dead.

The Jeep swerved and landed in the ditch, rolling onto its side in about two feet of standing water. Renan jumped onto the Jeep’s passenger door and growled, the hair standing up on his back.

I aimed the gun at the Jeep and advanced slowly. “Come out with your hands up!” I ordered, trying to think of what Dalton would say.

A thumping sound echoed inside the Jeep, sounding like a hammer. Something heavy struck the windshield, and the glass broke into a spiderweb of pieces before the busted sheet of safety glass was shoved out onto the hood.

“Oh, hell,” I whispered as a crocodile crawled out over the hood of the Jeep.

“Freeze!” I shouted, staring over the dead deputy’s gun.

But the crocodile glared at me toothily. With shocking speed for such a chunky animal, it scrambled up the hood toward me.

I pulled the trigger.

Nothing happened.

“Damn it.”

Renan jumped on the crocodile’s back, his teeth scrambling for purchase on the thick reptilian hide. The crocodile swept back and forth, shaking its head and tail, trying to dislodge the maned wolf. The scuffle pushed them off the Jeep and drew them into the mud of the ditch.

As furious as he fought, I knew that Renan was no match for the crocodile. I had to find a way to help. I dove at the passenger door of the Jeep. I ripped it open and yelled for the ranger within.

But he was going to be of no help. The interior of the Jeep was splashed with blood, and Ranger Perkins seemed to be doing his best to hold his guts in with both hands.

“Your gun,” I gasped, and lunged for his belt.

“What the hell is happening?” he murmured weakly. “You gotta get away. You gotta—”

I scrambled through the ruined windshield, gun aimed before me. Renan was holding on to the crocodile’s neck for dear life, while the croc started a barrel roll in the narrow ditch. Dirty water splashed all around them, and I had a hard time sighting the gun in on my target without risking hitting Renan.

I slid down the hood of the Jeep and landed in the ditch, water up to my knees. The croc’s black eye emerged, and its jaws snapped toward me. I aimed at the croc’s head and pulled the trigger not once, but twice, three times…

The crocodile flopped back into the water. Renan jumped to the bank panting, and the croc grew still as the roar of the gunfire receded.

Shaking, I lowered the gun.

“Will that do it?” I whispered. “Will that kill him, or will he heal?”

Renan walked toward me. As he moved, I heard the crunch of his bones reorganizing, limbs lengthening. I stared in fascination, watching that red fur ripple over him and fade, twisting into the shape of a man.

“I think he’s dead. And there’s no healing the dead,” Renan said.

MY REVIEW

5-stars!

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this book, but it was fabulous!

Witches, shifters, dark magic and more fill the pages of this amazing, page-turning fantasy. An epic battle between good and evil, mystery and suspense, along with some romance, make this an enthralling tale.

Luna Summerwood is a strong, talented witch, even if she only feels mediocre. Her gift of speaking to animals made this book a quick favorite for me. Toss in evil witches who date back centuries and I couldn’t put the book down.

The romance between Luna and Renan is understated, but it’s left me eager to find out more about the couple. While the attraction is there, the romantic elements were few and far between in this one with an emphasis more on fantasy. But it worked. The book flows well, with few editing errors.

If you want a gripping fantasy with mystery and romance, you can’t go wrong with Shifting Silence.

*Disclaimer: I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author:

Laura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too
many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. She now dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs and sometimes reads them to her cats. Her books have earned starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus.
Laura’s work has also been included in the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer Project 2013 reading list and the State Library of Ohio’s Choose to Read Ohio reading list for 2015-2016. The latest updates on her work can be found at authorlaurabickle.com.

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