Tag: paranormal

Book Review: Entangled Secrets, by Pat Esden

entangled secrets

Title:   Entangled Secrets
Author Pat Esden
Genre:   Fantasy
Rating:   3 out of 5

The Northern Circle coven’s future is in question once again. But this time, hearts and souls are on the line, making the stakes higher, the magic more crucial, and the battle more fateful than ever before . . .

Pregnant and alone at twenty-one, Chandler Parrish sought refuge within the Northern Circle coven’s secluded complex. Never revealing the identity of her child’s father, Chandler has raised her now eight-year-old son, Peregrine, in peace, and used her talent as an artist and welder to become a renowned metal sculptor. But her world is shaken to the core when Peregrine shows signs of natural faerie sight—a rare and dangerous gift to see through faerie glamour and disguises that could only have come from his father’s genes. Worse yet, the boy has seen a monstrous faerie creature trailing Lionel Parker, a magic-obsessed journalist determined to expose the witching world.

But the very man who threatens the witches’ anonymity may also be key to healing Chandler’s long broken heart. As dangerous desires and shocking secrets entangle, new faerie threats and demonic foes close in on the coven and High Council. Loyalties will be tested. Fierce magics will be called upon. And Chandler will have to face her past to save all she holds dear: her coven, her child—and perhaps even her own soul.

This is the first book of the Northern Circle Coven series I’ve read…and probably the last. I loved the parts talking about the metal sculpting, because I find that fascinating, but the rest of this was just “meh” for me. I’m not a fan of insta-love, and that’s exactly what this felt like to me. This is probably a case of the book just not being a good fit for me, not an actual problem with the book, but I didn’t really care for this. I’ve gotten away from reading paranormal romances like this, so I probably should have skipped this for that reason alone.

Pat Esden lives in Northern Vermont. Entangled Secrets is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Kensington Books in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: What We Do for Truth, by C.L. Mannarino

what we do for truth
Image belongs to C.L. Mannarino

Title:   What We Do for Truth
Author:   C.L. Mannarino
Genre:   Fantasy
Rating:   3.5 out of 5

In Northam, Massachusetts, the world is falling apart. 17-year-old Zara de Jaager’s lost one of her moms to a vampire. The other is struggling to make things seem as normal as possible. And Scott Whitney, the only person who knows the truth about her mom’s death, has gone missing.

Zara’s read the notes. She’s studied the lore. She’s even made a connection between Scott’s story and a job her mom was working on. Except no one wants to talk about it. And when she finds out that there might even be an entire village of vampires existing under their noses, her family shuts her down. So Zara pushes back, hard. But when she realizes what’s at stake, she’s left wondering:  is taking up her mom’s job really worth it?

It’s been a while since I’ve read in this world, so it took me a bit to get up to speed. Honestly, Zara and her attitude were a stumbling block for me. I understand she’s grieving in the beginning and trying to find an explanation, but she was pretty hateful to everyone around her, and that made it very difficult for me to continue reading about her.

Lots of secrets in this book. Secrets are a given in books like this—well, a requirement, if the supernatural isn’t an open fact—so that wasn’t a problem. As I said, Zara was a stumbling block to me, and I think my mood/outlook on society when I was reading this really affected how I felt about the book.

C.L. Mannarino has been writing books since high school. What We Do for Truth is the third book in the Almost Human series.

(Galley courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Seekers, by Heather Graham

The Seekers
Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

Title:   The Seekers
Author:   Heather Graham
Genre:   Mystery, suspense, paranormal
Rating:   4 out of 5

Kerri Wolfe writes meticulously researched books about crimes of the past, but she’s been invited to join The Seekers, a team of paranormal investigators, as they investigate a supposedly haunted old inn. In the 1920s, the inn was the site of brutal ax murders—and that investigation uncovered even more ghastly crimes.

Kerri wants to find out the truth about the old murders. She’s not there for ghosts. But when the team discovers a horrifying—and recent—murder scene in the basement of the inn, she finds herself involved in a murder investigation in the present. What she really wants is an explanation for the apparition she keeps seeing.

Joe Dunhill knows how she feels. As the newest member of the Krewe of Hunters, he’s still adjusting to being able to see and talk to the dead. The small town where the inn is located is full of old rumors, legends, and superstition, and he’s not sure how to find the murderer without knowing the truth of the past.

I rarely read anything creepy or scary—because I’m a chicken—and the beginning of The Seekers is a bit of both…but I made it through. The setting was fascinating, although I’ve no plans to stay in a haunted inn anytime soon (or ever).  Lots of threads tangled together here, past and present, and this was an engrossing, thrilling read.

Heather Graham is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. The Seekers is her newest novel, #28 in the Krewe of Hunters series.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/MIRA via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Specter, by Katie Jane Gallagher

specter
Image courtesy of author.

Title:   Specter
Author:   Katie Jane Gallagher
Genre:   YA, paranormal
Rating:   4 out of 5

Lanie loves horror movies, so the appearance of two ghosts in her room—from the 80s, clearly—should be something she enjoys. Except it’s not. Because the third ghost that appears isn’t quite so friendly…or so human. So Lanie does her best to avoid the ghosts—and the questions she has from forgotten memories of her childhood.

When she meets stoner Ryan in the library, she soon finds herself telling him all about the ghosts—and hatching a plot to figure out their secrets. But Lanie and Ryan’s questions stir up things that someone in her hometown would prefer to stay hidden, and soon the ghosts aren’t the only thing threatening them.

I’m not usually into ghost stories, but Specter was much more than that. I enjoyed Lanie’s personality—she did have a few moments that seemed a little out-of-character, but hey, she’s a teenager—and Ryan was a good foil for her. I found that third ghost creepy, but the way everything twisted together just made sense:  the missing persons, the murder investigation, the past and the future. This is a solid read with a little bit of chills to it.

Katie Jane Gallagher is a life-long writer and an avid read of YA. Specter is her newest novel.

Book Review: Lunar Court, by Aileen Erin

lunar court
Image belongs to the author and Ink Monster LLC.

Title:   Lunar Court
Author:   Aileen Erin
Genre:   YA/ paranormal
Rating:   4 out of 5

Chris is the funniest, sweetest boy Cosette’s ever met. Despite the trauma he’s suffered, he still manages to brighten up everyone around him—even when he’s fighting a chapel full of demons. He’s exactly what Cosette needs in her life. He’s also a werewolf—and she’s from the Lunar Court, the only fey court with control over the werewolves, so she knows they can’t be together.

But when Chris goes missing, Cosette will do anything to find him and bring him home safely. Even if they can’t be together, she wants him safe and happy. She has no safety in her own life—not with assassins trying to kill her at every step and her mother trying to force her into marrying—but she wants Chris to have it. She finds Chris in the darkest of fey courts, where the truth is twisted and she can trust no one. It will take an archon to keep the two of them safe—and even that might not be enough to make sure everyone gets out alive.

I think I read the first two Alpha Girl books a few years back and enjoyed them but got distracted by something else. I need to go back and catch up. Lunar Court was a solid read, and I love the world here, combining my favorite creatures in intriguing ways. A solid, entertaining read!

Lunar Court is Aileen Erin’s newest novel, the eighth book in the Alpha Girl series.

(Galley courtesy of the author via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Witch of Willow Hall, by Hester Fox

the witch of willow hall
Image belongs to Harlequin/Graydon House.

Title:  The Witch of Willow Hall
Author:  Hester Fox
Genre:   Fiction, paranormal, mystery
Rating:   4.2 out of 5

The Montrose family left Boston to escape the rumors claiming a family scandal. Now ensconced in their new country home, Willow Hall, middle daughter Lydia wants nothing more than peace and quiet, to take care of her younger sister Emeline, and no more family scandals.

At first, things at Willow Hall are peaceful. Emeline cares only about looking for mermaids in the pond, and Catherine can’t seem to make up her mind if she’ll pursue their father’s new partner, John, or his best friend. Reading sounds much better to Lydia, at least at first.

But soon Lydia hears a woman wailing in the night and sees a pale boy in the gardens. The oppressive air around Willow Hall closes in around the family, and darkness hovers, along with memories from Lydia’s childhood. Lydia will have to discover the truth about Willow Hall—and herself—to grasp peace.

This novel is almost Gothic, almost a romance, and all spellbinding. Lydia was a wonderful character. I loved her from the beginning. She cares so much about her family—even the horrible ones—and does her best to save them from themselves. She’s dutiful, but she’s not blind to the faults around her. I’d actually love to read more about her. The Gothic feel of this novel is well-done, without being overpowering or too creepy. Catherine was such an inconsistent character. Sometimes, I almost liked her. The rest of the time, not at all. A very enjoyable book that I read straight through!

Hester Fox is an artist and author. The Witch of Willow Hall is her first novel.

(Galley provided by Harlequin/Graydon House in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Mesmerized, by Candace Camp

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Image belongs to harlequin/HQN.

Olivia Moreland, one of the “Mad Morelands”—what society names her eccentric, independent, and forward-thinking family—spends her days trying to expose mediums for the charlatans she believes them to be. She knows all their little tricks, from phosphorescent gloves to hidden music boxes playing the dearly departed’s favorite tune, and she thrives on shining a bright light on their shady practices. Until one night, Lord Stephen St. Leger accuses her of conspiring with a medium—and they both end up kicked out of the party.

Stephen’s apology means nothing to her, until, a few days later, he asks her to help him expose the medium preying on his own mother, and she finds herself in a house party at the St. Leger estate, Blackhope Hall.

Blackhope Hall has secrets dating back hundreds of years, and when Stephen and Olivia both start seeing visions from the past—visions where they are living the lives of a pair of star-crossed lovers—the skeptical pair start to question if the supernatural world really exists. Is the dark spirit that haunts the Moreland family responsible for the death of Stephen’s brother, or is the psychic who does his bidding to blame? Stephen and Olivia must work together if they are to stop their visions from the past of coming true again, and only love is strong enough to combat the darkness.

Mesmerized was a well-plotted read twining romance and paranormal together in a Regency setting. Olivia, at first too rebellious against the customs of society, learns that she can still be a smart, independent woman, even if she does her hair and wears feminine clothing. Stephen, determined to save his family from more hurt, is close-minded about anything that falls outside his realm of experience, but exposure to Olivia softens him up a bit. The secondary characters, especially the “Mad” Morelands, are vibrant and entertaining, adding depth to the story that I enjoyed.

Candance Camp lives in Austin, Texas and loves writing about the Regency era. Mesmerized is the first book in The Mad Morelands series, re-released on December 26th.

(Galley provided by Harlequin/HQN via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Murky Pond, by T.L. Haddix

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Image belongs to Streetlight Graphics Publishing.

 

T.L. Haddix is the author of the I. Ronik series, the Sunset Motel series, the Shadows collection, and the Firefly Hollow series. Murky Pond is the 12th book in the Firefly Hollow series.

Lily Campbell does not want to go home. Months ago, she spent one night with Warren Sullivan, and a years-long friendship ended as Lily ran away to travel the world. Now her job is over, and it’s time to return to Dragonfly Creek Farm. And Warren.

Warren has lost more than most people can imagine, but he found home at Dragonfly Creek Farm. When his best friend ran away from him after their night together, he was wounded to the core. Now Lily is back on the farm, and Warren is determined to ignore her—and what happened between them. If only it were that easy.

I did not realize ahead of time that Murky Pond (and the Firefly Hollows series) is “romance with light, folklore-paranormal elements,” so when, about halfway through the book, there was an offhand reference to some of the family members being shapeshifters…I had to re-read the sentence and re-evaluate in my mind. I love paranormal, so I didn’t mind, but nothing else had indicated this aspect, so it caught me off-guard. Also, this is the 12th book in a series, and the first of the series I’ve read, so there’s that. This actually made me more interested in reading the series, as I love a good group of interconnected stories and characters like this. This was a very enjoyable book, and I love the cover!

(Galley provided by Streetlight Graphics Publishing via NetGalley.)

Fire Danger, by Claire Davon

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(I do not own this image. Image belongs to Samhain Publishing.)

 

Claire Davon began writing as a teenager, then life got in the way for a while. She has since shoved life out of the way and started writing urban fantasy, paranormal, and contemporary romance. Her newest novel, Fire Danger, is the first book in the Elements Challenge series.

Rachel Quinn doesn’t remember much of her early years, only vague memories of her parents and faint images of fire. Since her parents died years ago, Rachel has never been able to ask anyone about these visions of fire, and she withdraws into herself, afraid of her memories and the blackouts she has.

Then she finds herself cornered by a pack of werewolves—werewolves!—and rescued by a man with wings, and something comes to life inside of Rachel. She isn’t human, which she never knew was an option, but she doesn’t know what she is—or who—until the gorgeous Phoenix helps her find out. Phoenix is in the midst of his Challenge, the battle with his Demonos counterpart, but Rachel and her mystery add a deeper meaning to this Challenge than Phoenix has ever seen. Phoenix and Rachel must find out the truth about what she is, and stop the Demonos’ plot to destroy the human race.

Fire Danger begins with Rachel’s attack by werewolves and Phoenix’s rescue, and the pace never slows through the course of the novel. The many layers in this novel twist together with danger as the relationship between Phoenix and Rachel grows deeper.  An entertaining read set in an intriguing version of our own.

Blonde Eskimo, by Kristen Hunt

(I do not own this image. Image belongs to SparkPress.)
(I do not own this image. Image belongs to SparkPress.)

Kristen Hunt is from Alaska, but now lives in Arizona, because she believes anything below 64 degrees is freezing. Her new novel, Blonde Eskimo, is a young adult novel set in Alaska.

Neiva Ellis would much rather have toured Europe with her parents. Instead, she is sent to stay with her grandmother in Spirit, Alaska. She’s always known there was something special about Spirit, but now that she’s living there, she realizes everyone in the town, including her grandmother, is keeping something from her.

On the night of her 17th birthday, the Eskimo rite of passage, Neiva discovers the truth, and falls into a world of traditions, mystical creatures, and magic. When an ancient evil threatens everything that she loves, Neiva must work together with her best friends to discover the truth behind tradition, and stop the enemy from destroying the entire world, and everything that she loves.

Blonde Eskimo is full of the rich heritage of a culture that most know little about. Ms. Hunt brings this culture to life with vivid descriptions and fascinating characters living a life most never imagined. The relationship between the characters is dynamic and strong, changing as the characters grow. The mystery surrounding Spirit will have the reader riveted to the page.

(Galley provided by SparkPress via NetGalley.)