Sunday, November 6, 2011

Blood's Voice by Aine Massie

Published synopsis:

Anya Millar had no memory of her life or an instruction manual on how to navigate the insane world of humans, biting, and reality. Instead, Anya has had to learn to navigate the world of love, life, and sanity while avoiding those that would see her dead or enslaved.

This is the ongoing journey of Anya and Nicholas, human loving vampires and the human they love, Declán. What makes it all more complicated is that they are abominations in their own world and Declán is a natural born vampire hunter called a Guardian.

Anya must come to terms with who she is and her missing past, Nicholas must win back the object of his eternal love while dealing with new cravings in his silent heart, and Declán must learn to destroy the very creatures that he has unequivocally given his heart and blood.


Anya Millar knows she’s not a normal vampire. She loves humans too much to be a predator. What she doesn’t know is why she can’t remember a thing before waking up in the house of an immortal who has taken her in and cared for her. As Anya begins to piece together the past, with the help of others claiming to be old friends, she finds that some things are better left forgotten.

In an effort to move forward with her life and live in harmony with humans, Anya decides high school would be the best place to start. She hopes to learn to move effortlessly among them, keeping her vampire traits from being too noticeable. But, she ends up introducing a whole new set of problems into her life. She didn’t plan for the mysterious pull one particular human educed from the very first day. Being near him creates a longing so great, it scares her. Her attraction for him continues to grow, which, unfortunately, complicates the new friendships she has formed with his sister and girlfriend. It also complicates her relationship with a particular vampire whom she had once cared for deeply and is also drawn to irresistibly. Balancing her love life is even tougher when other vampires from her past come looking for her – and they don’t care about who they hurt to get to her. Can she protect all those in her unusual circle of friends and family?

Blood’s Voice by Aine Massie is a fresh take on vampires seen through the eyes of a powerful vampire. Having a natural aversion to harming humans doesn’t make the character Anya unique. Neither does her physical strength, or her fear of accidently hurting humans. It’s her unique gift that makes her special; her voice that can control, and be used as a lethal weapon, against her own kind.

Though I enjoyed reading this novel, there were a few things that kept me from giving the book a solid four stars. Declan’s character, the human part of the love triangle that includes Anya and the vampire Nicholas, could have been developed more quickly. He is slow to become a strong figure who can hold his own in a vampire world, as his character is somewhat two dimensional in the beginning. It was difficult through a good portion of the book to really feel his attraction and desire to be with Anya at any cost. He often seemed more like he was caught in a spell, or a vampire weaved web of compulsion, rather than having the feelings come from his heart. Eventually, though, the reader can feel his love and desire for her.

Declan’s draw to Anya, and his blanket accepting of other vampires, is also troublesome because he is supposed to be a Guardian. Someone born to see vampires as evil creatures that need to be hunted down and killed. This character trait is missing completely in Declan, making his Guardian status hard to accept. He readily accepts the vampire world and embraces a developing love of their race when he should have had at least some aversion to being near them.

A good deal of Blood’s Voice is the internal musing of Anya as her memory comes back in pieces. Sometimes she is strong willed and independent, and other times she has childlike insecurities with no control over her emotions. This is definitely reasonable for a person experiencing amnesia. But, the end result for me, was that she seemed unlikely to be a leader among her kind. As this series moves forward, she will probably head more and more in that direction as her insecurities lessen.

Something I truly enjoyed in this novel was the development of the secondary characters. They each had their own quirks and strengths; those meant to be liked are likeable and the ones meant to be disliked have the reader cheering for their demise. Their support and unique personalities mingle exceptionally well with the main characters, helping to make Blood’s Voice a novel that is definitely worth reading.

I thank the author for a review copy and I give the novel three and a half stars.

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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Crushed by K. C. Blake

Published synopsis:

The Noah sisters rule Titan High with their beauty, brains, and magical powers.

Each year they play a secret game: Crushed. The girls pick their targets carefully and blow enchanted dust into the boy’s faces, charming them, but this year Kristen makes a grave mistake. She chooses the wrong boy and almost dies that same day. Coincidence? Maybe.

But something isn’t quite right about Zach Bevian. He doesn’t behave like a boy who’s been Crushed. He goes from hot to cold, from looking at her with contempt to asking her out on a date. She doesn’t know what to think. Does he hate her or is he truly falling for her? Is he trying to kill her, or is he trying to save her?


Kristen and her sisters aren’t ordinary high school students. They’re witches and they have a harmless game they like to play each school year. At least, they think it’s harmless. But, when Kristen tries to charm the wrong guy, something goes terribly wrong. Is he crushed or isn’t he? If he is, then he’s acting differently than anyone else ever has. He runs hot and cold, vacillating between contempt and adoration, and Kristen needs to find out the truth before it’s too late.

Zach is the bad guy around school. Tall, dark and brooding, he wants nothing to do with any of the Noah sisters. So, when Kristen tries to charm him, he’s more than angry. He’s homicidal. He has to decide – is it more important to keep his secret than it is to expose Kristen’s?

Thrown together, the sparks start to fly, but are their feelings real? Or just the work of magic? With family troubles getting in the way, is it even possible to find out?

In Crushed, K. C. Blake gives the reader a paranormal romance that is impossible to resist. The concept of the ultimate bad boy and the perfect princess trying not to fall for each other might not be a new one, but Crushed makes you forget that. From the beginning, the book draws you in and it’s almost impossible to put it down. The dark circles under my eyes from lack of sleep prove that. K. C. Blake’s characters come to life immediately, engaging the reader in a fast paced story that will make you love some of the characters and hate others. But, do you love and hate the right ones? You’ll have to wait until the end to find out. Filled with just the right amount of paranormal mystery, near death experiences, teenage angst, sibling rivalry, guilt, disillusionment, hope and love, Crushed is a must read for lovers of YA paranormal romance. I thank the author for providing me with a review copy and I gladly give the book 5 stars.

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Drowned In the Grenadine by Dan Gilvezan

Published synopsis:

Fancy cars, a loving wife, a designer home in the Hollywood Hills. Nathan Lindeman had it all, lost it all, and now he’s desperate to get it back. They say there are no second acts in show business, but they just may be wrong. There’s a new TV series being cast that’s virtually guaranteed to be a success, and Nathan has a shot at snagging one of the lead roles. If, that is, he can survive the perils and pitfalls that threaten to derail him along the way. Follow along on Nathan’s journey, as he deals with teenage casting directors, soulless network execs, ego-maniacal fellow performers, hucksters and thieves, a cast of characters so bizarre and unbelievable they could only be based in reality. By turns, funny, sad, heartbreaking and heartfelt, Drowned in the Grenadine explores America’s fascination with celebrity, the nature of success and what it means to be both a father and a son.


Nathan Lindeman is determined to make his star shine in Hollywood. He’s had a taste of fame already, which ended all too abruptly, and he wants it back - desperately. He knows the ins and outs of acting. He has a great agent. Now, all he needs is that ever elusive perfect role. Or is his fifteen minutes already up?

To everyone east of the California border, Hollywood is a great and fascinating mystery. A dream world where everyone is fashionable, every day is sunny and careers bloom overnight. The petals on these careers not browning or curling until age and gravity take their toll. Anyone brave enough to breach the border of acting’s Mecca has a chance to have a successful career, if they can just get that first big break. Or, at least, that’s what we all want to believe. There has to be somewhere that all of our dreams can come true, right?

Dan Gilvezan bursts our bubble in Drowned In the Grenadine. He brings us into a world where careers are doomed by not only past failures, but past successes, as well. As an audience, it seems that we are constantly being bombarded with new shows and movies, leading us to believe that things speed along in a blur in the land of glitz and glamour. What we find out in this novel is that things actually move at a snail’s pace; and at any moment, things can change for the better or for the worse. And the Hollywood dream? A mirage created to hide the undercurrent of greed, backstabbing and loss of morals that many ending up swimming in.

As we read about Nathan’s career, it’s easy to see how people get caught up in it. As they say, the show must go on, right? It’s not until the glitz is gone and his world shatters yet again that Nathan realizes that maybe, just maybe, his priorities are as screwed up as his career. Isn’t it more important to be a son, a father and a husband than it is to be a star? At heart, he’s a really nice guy, but his aspirations are getting in the way of his caring about anyone but himself. Will he realize this before it’s too late?

Dan Gilvezan leads us on a Hollywood journey of self-discovery in Drowned In the Grenadine. The issues in the book are not exceptional – anyone who puts work and career ahead of family and love is destined to ultimately be alone and unhappy if they don’t change. But seeing this as his characters traverse the sea of Hollywood gives the reader a unique look into the acting business that the tabloids never do. The illusion is taken down and we are given a tour of auditions, script changes, call backs, contracts, job security and second chances. The reader is torn between feeling sorry for Nathan, and thinking that maybe he got what he deserved. But, should anyone pay forever for past mistakes? By the end of the book, you will be convinced that the answer is no, and you will be rooting Nathan on.

Drowned In the Grenadine is a well written, thought provoking book that will make you laugh in some parts, and wish you could do something to help Nathan in others. Dan Gilvezan draws you into his world and keeps you there until the very last sentence and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. I thank the author for a review copy and I give the book five stars.

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Happily Ever Afton by Kelly Curry

Published synopsis:

A sexy romantic comedy that explores what happens when two perfect strangers make a deal of faux-mance...

Movie critic, Afton Lanford, had put off picking out her wedding gown until the last possible moment, but once she's all buttoned into her ruffled satin gown she spots her fiance's tongue - deep in the mouth of the dishonorable maid-of-honor's! Her mad-dash pursuit of the cheating pair leads her to run into...and over Cooper Stewart Carrington - the third - on her red motor scooter outside a Seattle coffee shop.

On the run from a persistent suitor of his own, wealthy investment banker, Cooper, agrees to the nutty plan Afton proposes to pretend to be "lovers" to throw off their exes. Their 'Strangers on a Train' deal leads to hilarity and hijinks as Afton and Cooper attend a series of events around Seattle with their former partners in hot pursuit and discover along the way if two perfect strangers can ever... criss-cross ... into perfect lovers...


Afton is getting married but she’s been putting off picking out her dress for some reason. It doesn’t help that her maid of honor keeps avoiding her, and her fiancé is so cheap, she had to buy her own ring as well as the dress. It’s no wonder she’s not excited about it. Things finally click together, though, when she sees her best friend and her fiancé strolling arm in arm and kissing like they’ve done it quite a few times before.

In pursuit to let them know exactly what she thinks of both of them, Afton runs down Cooper who’s looking his scruffiest after just returning from his latest mountain climbing expedition. Suddenly caught between a woman scorned and her cheating fiancé, he does his best to help her save face. Just moments later, he needs her help to fend off a persistent problem of his own. Out of this unfortunate bonding experience, the two concoct a plan to rid themselves of both problems for good as they pretend to be engaged. The problem is – when does the pretending stop and reality begin?

It has been a while since I reviewed a contemporary romance and Kelly Curry’s Happily Ever Afton was the perfect book to jump back into the genre. I immediately became engrossed in Afton’s quirky outlook on life and Cooper’s fascination with everything Afton. From beginning to end, this roller coaster of a relationship had me rooting for criss-cross love.

One of the things that made Happily Ever Afton such an enjoyable read is that Kelly Curry gave her characters real feelings. Afton didn’t just fall into Cooper’s arms after breaking up with her ex. Her emotions are all mixed up, her trust issues are off the charts, and she’s not sure what she wants anymore. Cooper has his own issues. He’s finding himself more and more attracted to Afton, but because of his own trust issues, he mislead her in the beginning. But now, he’s finding it harder and harder to tell her the truth after she mistakes him for a bank teller instead of the investment banker that he is. The more he gets to know her, the less impressed he thinks she’ll be with his success and lifestyle. No, the mistaken identity in a romance is not a new concept, but in this story, you won’t mind. Even though the character’s misunderstandings and self-imposed roadblocks are sometimes frustrating to read - you want to shake them and tell them to get over it, you can understand the hurt feelings and stubbornness that can lead all of us to sometimes make poor decisions. Filled with raw emotion, laughs and passion, Happily Ever Afton is one enjoyable read. I thank the author for providing me with a review copy and I give the book five stars.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Eye of the Crystal Ball by T.P. Boje

Published Review:

When Sara was newborn her parents left her at the doorstep at Mr. and Mrs. Schneider’s house. When Sara was ten she discovered she was telekinetic. She began to move stuff around when she got angry just by her will alone. When Sara was twelve her real parents came for her and took her with them to live like the Gypsy that she was – or Romani as they like to call themselves. They told her she was going to fulfill a prophesy. That it was once said that out of the Romani people the greatest sorceress who had ever lived would be born. When Sara was thirteen she had a baby brother and when she was fourteen he got very sick with a strange illness. To save her baby-brother Sara sets off on a quest to find his cure – well knowing that it will cost her dearly. Soon Sara finds herself going through the Singing Cave, crossing Wild Witches Valley, talking to a ten foot giant snail, rescuing the Beads of Souls from the Hell-hounds, escaping a spell in Vamila, the Forest of Vanity, visiting the king at the City of Lights before she finally reaches the Black Castle where she is told the Eye of the Crystal Ball can tell her how to cure her brother’s strange illness. But nothing is free in this world - and as Sara soon will know - everything has a price.


Sara was left on the doorstep belonging to the Schneiders, a couple who longed for a child but were unable to conceive. Taking the little girl in, they raised her with love and kindness. But as Sara grew, it became obvious that there was something different about her. It is when her biological parents come back to claim her that things start to make sense. The daughter of a strong Romani leader, Sara discovers that she was born to fulfill a destiny – to become the greatest sorceress the world had ever seen.

Eventually, even though she has not come into her full powers yet, Sara makes a dangerous journey to find a way she can save her baby brother from a strange illness. Along the way, she meets magical creatures she had no idea even existed. Some are friendly and helpful, others are definitely not. For this reason, she is glad to have the company of a young Romani boy, Manolo with her. He guides her through both the easy parts of the journey and the scary places she would not have dared try on her own. He also has secrets he hasn’t shared with her.

The Eye of the Crystal Ball by T.P. Boje is a tale that gives the reader a taste of many things supernatural. Filled with gifted Romani, evil witches, giant arachnids and more, there is something for everyone who loves paranormal fiction. The story has a promising premise, one that the author can run with, following this book with sequels.

This being said, there were a few things that held me back from enjoying the book as much as I would have liked. For most of the first part of the book, and many parts after as it goes along, the story is told to the reader instead of letting the reader discover and experience the story through the eyes and voices of the characters. This makes it more difficult to keep the reader’s attention. There were some issues with Sara and her story, as well. The Schneiders, who had waited so long for their first child, easily let her go and Sara went off willingly with strangers claiming to be her parents. There was not a lot of detail about how she handled such a radical transition on a day to day basis. Long periods of time passed in a sentence or two without giving a good idea of the new day to day activities in her new life; what she liked and what she didn’t. Was she making friends in her tribe? Or were other children scared or jealous of here?

I must admit, I never really had a good feel for whether or not I liked Sara. I did enjoy that she was independent with a strong stubborn streak, but sometimes she simply came off as obstinate. In addition, the ability for several types of spells to easily catch her in their snares and not let go without Manolo’s help, gave the impression of weakness instead of the burgeoning abilities of the greatest sorceress of all times. I understand that she is supposed to be young, but as a reader, I had hoped that she would mature into more powers on her journey. Also, shouldn’t her parents have told her about some of these creatures so she could be prepared if she ever came across them? I have to say, T.P. Boje definitely did a good job with the magical creatures found along the way to the end of Sara’s journey. But, being bothered that Sara could hardly use her power to defend herself when needed, it took away some of the effect of having them in the story for me.

All in all, I found The Eye of the Crystal Ball to be a good story with lots of potential, but in need of more details and dialogue. I thank the author for providing me with a review copy and I give the book 3 stars.

Purchase The Eye of the Crystal Ball by T.P. Boje

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Witching Pen by Dianna Hardy

Published synopsis:

Elena is a witch with a very special gift. She can make stories come to life with a pen. When she discovers that imagination can become reality at the stroke of her nib, she thinks it's the best thing to have ever happened ... until she meets Nathaniel. With an inexplicable hypnotic hold over her, he is a demon with a familiar face that lurks in the shadows of her world, impervious to her Witching Pen, and determined to make her create the world as he would have it - with her at his side.

In order to prevent the creation of a demon dimension on Earth, and to keep her soul intact, Elena must uncover all of Nathaniel's secrets to overcome him. But what she uncovers only seems to draw her further into his world and to the demon himself, and when the final stone is turned, what she discovers could be the very thing that ends up killing her...


Elena is a powerful witch, but no one can know that. She hides her power behind new age mysticism and Wiccan ceremonies. The only one besides her mother who knows her secret is her best friend Karl. Karl has loved Elena since they were children, but Elena has always kept him, and everyone else, at arm’s length when it came to romantic relationships. The talk her mother had with her when she was a teenager made it impossible for her to have a normal relationship. But, Karl keeps hoping.

Lies and secrets abound in Dianna Hardy’s novella, The Witching Pen. Elena discovers there’s a lot more to her than she was ever told. With demons trying to seduce her in her sleep and her suppressed feelings for Karl trying to surface, she doesn’t know how to stop her world from crumbling around her. She learns that with great power, there is often great pain. As the story goes on, she suffers losses that may just push her into embracing everything she can become – the good and the bad. Are love and good friends enough to save her?

The Witching Pen is a paranormal romance that packs a lot of action in its pages. Readers enter a world with a pen that can write the future, demons who want to destroy the world, dark skeletons in family closets, and the power of love and magic done for the greater good. While the story is focused on Elena’s relationship with Karl, other characters also seek to discover who they are and who they can be; some learning that love can come in many different packages. Dianna Hardy has woven a tale of passion and intrigue that brings the reader on a magical journey that can’t be put down until the very end.

The Witching Pen is a novella that could easily be turned into a novel with all the intricate details of the main character’s, as well as several supporting character’s, past and heritage. The difficulty with writing a novella is deciding what to include and what can be left out. In this particular case, I would have loved to read more about the characters. The novella is excellently written. The main characters are well developed, all be it with secret pasts. But, I craved more without having to wait to read the sequel. There were a lot of questions left in my mind at the end. Since I enjoyed the novella so much, I guess I will just have to read the sequel to find out more about where Dianna Hardy brings her characters next. I thank the author for providing me with a review copy and I give the novella four stars.

Purchase The Witching Pen by Dianna Hardy