Icon Tag: Must Read

Review: The Prophet by Amanda Stevens

Posted October 12, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Review:  The Prophet by Amanda StevensThe Prophet by Amanda Stevens
Series: Graveyard Queen, #3
Published by Mira on April 24th 2012
Genres: Ghosts, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 347
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Rating:4.5 Stars
Heat:two-flames

My name is Amelia Gray.
I am the Graveyard Queen, a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. My father passed down four rules to keep me safe and I've broken every last one. A door has opened and evil wants me back.
In order to protect myself, I've vowed to return to those rules. But the ghost of a murdered cop needs my help to find his killer. The clues lead me to the dark side of Charleston—where witchcraft, root doctors and black magic still flourish—and back to John Devlin, a haunted police detective I should only love from afar.Now I'm faced with a terrible choice: follow the rules or follow my heart.

I am back with a review for the third installment in the Graveyard Queen series and I have to say, I think I have an addiction problem. I can’t seem to stop reading them. The only reason book four is on hold is because it got delayed in transit, which I guess is okay because I am totally lacking sleep.

The Prophet picked up on some of the events that occurred in the first book. The ghost of Robert Fremont is back and he wants Amelia to find his killer because he wants to move on. To make things worse, Shani – Devlin’s dead daughter is haunting her as well because she is also in desperate need of Amelia to help her move on.

We are thrown back on the mystery behind the death of Devlin’s wife and daughter as well as his partner that ironically occurred on the same night. Amelia is facing trouble because neither of the ghost seem to want to leave her alone and now Shani is actually haunting her, so she needs to find a way to help the scared little girl move on.

This installment was good, I really enjoyed it. It did lack in the creepy atmosphere that the other two books centered around, making it very easy to read in the middle of the night. Despite that, the writing was still so beautiful it just draws you in, Steven’s tells an amazing story and her skills in writing just make me oh so happy on the inside.

Can we just talk about how each book in this series is as strong as the one before it? I am completely blown away and happy about it. It makes picking up each book easy known that I am going to come away satisfied long after the pages are done.

I love Amelia, and I love the growth of her character.. Sure, she had a few juvenile moments when it comes to John Devlin, but overall, she is growing as a character. I also enjoyed how realistic her approach to going back to Oak Grove Cemetery was after the events that occurred in book one. She is slowly developing, growing and learning how to fend for herself. It makes me a bit mad that her father did not prepare her for the world that she is forced upon, since clearly the rules are doing nothing to help her and from the hints in the book – it seems it didn’t help him much in the past either. (Thought this is just my assumption)

Darius a new character enters into the plot-line and Amelia finds herself in the world of voodoo, palm reading and a bit of African shaman magic. This opens up a whole new possibility for the next couple of books, ups the stakes and makes it that much more interesting.

As far as romance, I liked the unexplained connection between Devlin and Amelia, which makes for some really amazing chemistry.

Honestly there was very little in this book that I didn’t like, that being said… what the hell was up with the ending? Is it me or the killer was kind of random? Like Stevens just threw together the ending the last minute. It felt like I missed a page or two of information in the end there and for a second I was worried I got the wrong copy. Everything happened so damn fast that chunks felt missing. It was like she was just in a hurry to finish it up.

Also, that revelation in the end about Shani – woah… totally did not see that coming.

Memorable Quotes

“You’re very light,” he said. “You’ve lost weight since last spring.”

“That’s because I’m haunted.”

“What haunts you?” he asked softly.

“You do.”

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Review: The Crawling Darkness by J.L. Bryan

Posted October 8, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 Comments

Review:  The Crawling Darkness by J.L. BryanThe Crawling Darkness by J.L. Bryan
Series: Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper #3
Published by Self-published on February 5th 2015
Genres: Ghosts, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 222
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Author
Rating:4.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Ghost removal specialist Ellie Jordan must face a dangerous, shape-shifting entity that she and Calvin have encountered once before, with tragic results. The spirit has the power to reach into the minds of living and feed on their fears, taking the shape of their worst nightmares, and it has awoken in search of new victims.
Now Ellie must try to succeed where she and her mentor failed before, and try to defeat the twisted and powerful old ghost before it can claim another soul for its collection.

Stacy and Ellie are back, but this time they are square off against a ghost that Ellie and Calvin have faced and failed to capture in the past. The ghost is dangerous, it feeds off people’s biggest fears and it seems to pry on the weakest the most, like children. Worse is the fact that it disappeared on the night that Calvin and Ellie had tried to capture him, hurt Calvin and is now years later moved into a new home.

Ellie must find a way to stop the ghost and get rid of it for good. It won’t be easy since years of darkness had turned the ghost into something dark, creepy and unidentifiable with the person this creature once was.

I enjoyed this, it was extremely creepy, but well done. This one really brought chills up my spine, and made the darkness of the night even more scary. In its essence, this was the story of a boogeyman and the history was not only interesting but disturbing. There is a lot more evil in the house than Ellie had originally bargained for and it does seem like the case is not yet closed.

We also get to meet Michael in this book, who becomes a sort of love interest of Ellie. I am very excited about the potential here and I loved the connection the two shared. I am looking forward for him appearing in other books, his hobby of restoring old clocks is fascinating.

I’ve been reading a lot of ghost stories lately with it being October and so close to Halloween. I’ll try to slow down and do something different for you guys but these books that I have been picking up are just amazing in writing and the authors have a real way of just sucking you right into that world.

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Review: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Posted October 1, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 43 Comments

Review: The Hating Game by Sally ThorneThe Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Series: Stand-alone
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on August 9th 2016
Genres: Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating:5 Stars
Heat:three-flames

Debut author Sally Thorne bursts on the scene with a hilarious and sexy workplace comedy all about that thin, fine line between hate and love.
Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.2) A person’s undoing3) Joshua Templeman
Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual.
Trapped in a shared office together 40 (OK, 50 or 60) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything—especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking.
If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua, and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong.
Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

Oh my god! This book is so good, so good you guys. I picked the book up on the whim when the bloggers that I trust and follow, sang such high praises for it. I knew I had to try it out, and although it started out a little slow for me at first, after 20% I was completely in love.

Anyone who has ever loved romance should give this one a try. Sally Thorne absolutely nails it with her humor and talented story telling. The writing was hysterical, smart, emotionally charged, filled with snarky banter and sexual tension.

Lucy and Josh are both assistants to two CEO’s of two book companies that had merged, Bexley and Gamin. Josh is a Bexley through and through, he is well dressed, he appears well calculated and the staff is scared of him. Lucy is a Gamin, and is quite a bit of a dork – which was one of her redeeming qualities as the book went on. She collects Smurfs, she is from a family who owns a strawberry farm, she is nice and also a bit easy to push around. They share an almost antagonistic relationship that had me laughing through the book.

I will be honest, I didn’t like Lucy as much as I wanted to, but maybe it was because I felt a little protective of Josh – especially when his intentions and feelings were starting to become a bit clearer. I was a little worried that Lucy might be a bit mentally challenged, because I didn’t understand how she kept failing so helplessly at picking these said signals up. I really, really wish Thorne had implanted Josh’s point of view in this book, I think it would have been an A+.

Or as Lucy would have put it;

“I want to know what’s going on in your brain. I want to juice your head like a lemon.”

Her dorky personality did redeem her character for me later on, because it was something I could relate to. But the number of times she wouldn’t stop talking about Josh’s body felt at times over the top.

I loved Josh. I wanted to know what was his story. Josh came off a bit damaged, which was clear by the way he handled himself around Lucy – he didn’t know how to. The moments that Josh did expose himself were sweet, raw and left me with a lot of feeling.

Nor did I understand or fully believe the issue between Josh and his dad and how Lucy handled it, but that’s just a small gripe.

I can’t describe the amount of love I felt for this book, it was nearly perfect. It is now my top favorite read of 2016. I loved the banter, I loved the tension, I loved the hate to love romance. I literally went two days with only a few hours of sleep because I couldn’t stop reading this late into the night. I didn’t want it to end, even if the ending was sweet and near perfect. I am feeling like I am not going through a book withdrawal. This was Thorne’s debut novel and she blew it out of the water and earned herself another loyal fan! I already cannot wait to see what she has in store for us next, even if I am going to miss Josh oh so much.

If you love romance, I highly recommend you read this book if you have not yet. It is worth it. Just take the plunge and let it surprise you, because this book is big must read.

Memorable Quotes

But Clark Kent is such a darling; all bumbling and soft. Joshua is hardly the mild-mannered reporter. He’s a sarcastic, cynical, Bizarro Clark Kent, terrorizing everyone in the newsroom and pissing off poor little Lois Lane until she screams into her pillow at night.

“What are you imagining? Your expression is filthy.”

“Strangling you. Bare hands.” I can barely get the words out. I am huskier than a phone-sex operator after a double shift.

“I love strawberries. So much, you have no idea.” He sounds so kind that I feel a wave of emotion. I can’t open my eyes. He’ll see I have tears in them.

“My evil brain is thinking about grabbing some dinner soon.”

“Mine is thinking about strangling you.”

“I’m thinking if we plunge off a bridge I won’t have to go to this wedding.” He looks at me, perhaps only half joking.

 

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Review: My Kind of Wonderful by Jill Shalvis

Posted September 26, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 41 Comments

Review:  My Kind of Wonderful by Jill ShalvisMy Kind of Wonderful by Jill Shalvis
Series: Cedar Ridge #2
Published by Grand Central Publishing on December 22nd 2015
Genres: Romance
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars
Heat:three-flames

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

UNEXPECTED AND UNDENIABLE...
Bailey Moore has an agenda: skiing in the Rockies, exploring castles in Europe, ballroom dancing in Argentina. Now that she has a second lease on life, she's determined not to miss a thing. What she doesn't realize is that item #1 comes with a six-foot-one ski god hot enough to melt a polar ice cap. She doesn't want to miss out on him either, but Hudson Kincaid isn't the type of guy to love and let go. And as gorgeous as Cedar Ridge is, she's not planning to stick around.
As head of ski patrol at his family's resort, Hud thinks he's seen it all. But never has he run into someone like Bailey. She might look delicate, but her attitude is all firecracker. And her infectious joy touches something deep within him that he's been missing far too long. Now he'll just have to convince Bailey to take a chance on her biggest adventure yet . . . something rare and all kinds of wonderful.

Guys! I cannot believe that as a lover of romances that it took me this long to pick up a Jill Shalvis book. No, really, I am quite embarrassed. Once I read My Kind of Wonderful, which of course I was unable to put down, I have crowned Jill my new Queen of Romance.

Jill’s writing in romance is exactly what I crave.  I love the humor, I love the banter and I absolutely adore the quirky characters that dig their way into your heart.

Bailey and Hudson were the main characters of this book, though the rest of the Kincaid clan pops up in the book – with the exception of Jacob. Hudson was wonderful, even if he does come with a bit of baggage. He feels terrible about what happened between him and his brother Jacob and feels completely and utterly responsible for his mother and her state of mind. Between taking care of his mother, worrying about the whereabouts of his twin brother and taking care of the resort – Hud has no space for anyone in his heart.

Bailey was fantastic. She is a cancer survivor who has a list of things she wants to do in life, especially since she is now free of cancer. She is hired to paint a mural for the Kincaids at the resort, where she runs into Hud. The attraction between the two is crackling, and no sooner do they start a small fling, that quickly develops into something more, a lot more than either of them are willing to admit.

This book was quite a ride. The interaction between the Kincaid clan alone just made the entire journey worthwhile. The way they pick on each other is both endearing and amusing. There is a lot of love there, even if for the most part they are all step-brother’s and sisters. The Kincaids significant others fit into the series perfectly. The book made me laugh, it brought joy into my heart and had me completely hooked. I am now looking forward to more from Jill and I will be reading the books that I have missed out on.

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Review: Cold Shadows by J.L. Bryan

Posted September 25, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Review:  Cold Shadows by J.L. BryanCold Shadows by J.L. Bryan
Series: Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper #2
Published by Createspace on October 29th 2014
Genres: Ghosts, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 178
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Footsteps in the attic. Toys that play by themselves. A dark presence in an upstairs room. Paranormal investigator Ellie Jordan faces a difficult new case. Her new clients are a family haunted by multiple ghosts and a poltergeist that wrecks their home at night. Their seven-year-old son's invisible friends may not be imaginary at all, but the restless spirits of dead children. To clear her clients' house of the dangerous entities, Ellie must unravel the mysterious deaths of another family who lived in the old mansion more than a hundred and sixty years ago-and she must do it before the ghosts can carry out their malevolent designs on her clients and their children.

I cannot believe it took me nearly a year to finish Cold Shadows, but once I had the time to pick it up again, I found that I had a really hard time putting it down. It doesn’t help that I can only read this book dead in the middle of the night, because J.L. Bryan weaves a story so realistically creepy, it really brought a chill up my spine.

Stacy and Ellie are back at it again and this time the ghosts are far more dangerous and terrifying. Upon investigating their new clients house, they run into restless ghosts of dead children and malevolent entities that are out to harm the family living in the house. As Ellie and Stacy unravel the mystery behind the death of the family who once lived there, the haunting spirals into a very dangerous territory that leaves them running low on time.

Adored this book so much.. Bryan really knows how to tell a realistic ghost story with an interesting background that just hooks you from the start. It’s extremely engrossing and I for one have a hard time untangling myself into the real world. I love everything about the writing and the way the story and the characters progress.

Ellie is a great character, with a lot of heart. She really cares about her friends, but due to a very complicated past and her very dangerous job, she has a really hard time letting people in. She is also quirky, as well as Stacy which creates really fun banter between them that leaves a smile on my face. I love the connection between them, they feed off each other as friends so well and I believe Ellie really needs that in her life.

I cannot wait to see what Bryan has in store for these two. This has easily become one of my all time favorite series. Did I mention that I truly enjoy learning the history behind the haunting? I think it’s so fascinating and so well thought out and put together that it just delivers a really good ghost story. Bryan did not hold back with this one, the haunting was sinister, it was so creepy that any fan of ghost stories should really give this series a shot.

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Review: The Impostor Queen (The Impostor Queen #1) by Sarah Fine

Posted December 8, 2015 by Lily B in Reviews / 0 Comments

Review:  The Impostor Queen (The Impostor Queen #1) by Sarah FineThe Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine
Series: The Impostor Queen #1
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on January 5th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, High Fantasy
Pages: 432
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Sixteen-year-old Elli was only a child when the Elders of Kupari chose her to succeed the Valtia, the queen who wields infinitely powerful ice and fire magic in service of her people. The only life Elli has known has been in the temple, surrounded by luxury, tutored by magic-wielding priests, preparing for the day when the queen perishes—and the ice and fire find a new home in Elli, who is prophesied to be the most powerful Valtia to ever rule.
But when the queen dies defending the kingdom from invading warriors, the magic doesn’t enter Elli. It’s nowhere to be found.
Disgraced, Elli flees to the outlands, home of banished criminals—some who would love to see the temple burn with all its priests inside. As she finds her footing in this new world, Elli uncovers devastating new information about the Kupari magic, those who wield it, and the prophecy that foretold her destiny. Torn between her love for her people and her growing loyalty to the banished, Elli struggles to understand the true role she was meant to play. But as war looms, she must choose the right side before the kingdom and its magic are completely destroyed.

I think I am in love with Sarah Fine’s writing and I have Ali @ My Guilty Obsession  to thank for that. The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine ended up being a buddy read with Ali, to whom I am thankful for introducing me to Fine’s writing.

I loved The Impostor Queen, a well crafted story about a sixteen-year-old girl named Elli who is a Saadela and the next in line to take over when the Valtia of the Kupari passes and leaves her magic to be passed on to the Saadela. When Elli’s Valtia suffers a terrible tragedy and the young girl ends up witnessing the horrid moment of her Valtia’s final breath, the Elders blame Elli for rejecting the magic when it does not enter her. With a help of her handmaiden, Mim, Elli escapes the temple and the cruel fate that awaits her and disappears beyond the village walls where she is rescued by a boy named Oskar.

Now Elli is living among the very people the Elder’s have been trying to force out of the mines, while trying to learn about her own ability that she is asked to keep a secret by the mysterious old healer.

I won’t lie. The story started out kind of slow, but this is a high fantasy, and it is kind of expected. When the story finally picked up, and boy did it pick up, not only was it impossible to put down but I found myself wanting to savor it. I admit, I was a little disappointed and sad that the book has ended. I went through a book withdrawal and it’s been a long while since any book has caused such a reaction out of me.

Fine’s writing is brilliant, her imagination runs wild in the beautifully crafted magical world. I love that there are two forces that make up the magic, fire and ice, and how the two effect the Valtia as well as the magic wielders.

The plot itself was amazing and interesting. It had me so hooked, I wanted and needed to know how it was all going to turn out, what was going to happen next and how Fine was going to leave us at the end of the book. I was so glad to learn that this is part of the series, though as of right now Goodreads lists the series as the Untitled. I also loved that the ending did NOT feel like a cliffhanger.

Let’s talk about Elli for a second. Elli lived a sheltered life in the temple because she was being molded to do what the Elder’s wanted her to do. The only knowledge she really had about anything was what the Elder’s wanted to tell her, so she comes off very naive. Boy does she learns her lessons quickly when she is forced out of the shelter of the home she knew forever and onto the streets and into the winter cold. I really enjoyed watching Elli develop as a character. Her struggles when she is brought to the camp are real. The fact that she suffers a physical “disfiguration” maker her character appear flawed, but at the same time very human.

Though the book is listed under glbt genre under Goodreads, and does have references to it (Elli’s love for her handmaiden) the book mainly follows the romance between a boy and a girl.

Oskar was amazing. Brownie points to him for taking Elli in. Their meeting in an unusual circumstance ended up being quite entertaining. I loved their interaction and the slow simmering romance that had me holding my breath more than once.

The world-building in this book was remarkable, original and very interesting. It is one of those fantasy novels that you cannot help but fall in love with everything, the writing, the world-building, the well fleshed out characters, it just keeps you wanting more. It kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time and I cannot wait to see where this story goes from here, because the ending totally blew me away.

If you enjoy a high fantasy novel with an incredible world, with talented writing, what are you waiting for? I strongly recommend this book

 

 

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