Book Review: WOMAN KING by Evette Davis

Woman King

Nobody who works with superstar political consultant Olivia Shepherd knows that she has supernatural empathic abilities—and that’s just how she likes it. But when she wakes up one morning to find Elsa, an ancient time-walker, standing in her kitchen, Olivia can no longer ignore her gifts or the mystical path that awaits her. Soon she is plunged into the hidden world of powerful “Others” who operate beneath the dense fog of San Francisco.

Drafted to work for the Council, a shadowy organization that controls the fate of humanity, Olivia must decide whether to dedicate herself to its cause. Complicating matters further is Olivia’s new love interest, William, a centuries-old vampire who is far too jaded to take an interest in human affairs. As shocking details from Olivia’s own past emerge and her role in the world begins to take shape, will she rise to the challenge of her destiny?

Amazon / Amazon UK

 

My Review:

This book has an intriguing cast of characters – witches, fairies, time walkers, demons, and vampires. It’s also well written. Unfortunately, it fell flat for me in some areas.

“There is a lot about this world you don’t know, Olivia, and that has put you in harm’s way.”

Olivia comes from a family of humans with special powers, but she chose to ignore them until something happens in her life that forces her to get in touch with her gifts. I was never clear on how she managed to ignore these powers until she reached her thirties. Her character sometimes came across as childish and willful, to the point where I expected a full blown tantrum. Other times she was far too naive and easily led, not questioning things or following through on conversations.

And then in a blink of an eye, he was right next to me, kissing me again in that way that made my lips feel like they would catch fire.

The other characters were a fun mix, though I never truly felt their powers. I wanted to see what they were capable of, beyond a bit of demonic mind control.

Staring down a demon is tiring business.

One oddity that stood out for me came with the point of view. This book is almost entirely written in first person, from Olivia’s perspective. This works well for the story. But two short chapters, both coming toward the end, are written from William’s point of view, in third person. Because they came so late, and because there are only two short chapters, these felt out of place and unnecessary.

William thought he detected an almost imperceptible shudder passing through Aidan and Elsa.

The plot is straight forward and moves along at a good pace. There are some issues here though. First, the content is very liberal politically, and perhaps a bit insulting to Republicans. I had no real problems with this myself, but this book would be offensive to anyone with strong conservative political beliefs. The big problem for me was that the story had no real ending. I know this is the first in a trilogy but, for me, each book needs to have closure and this one does not.

“I object because I don’t think we should meddle in the lives of humans, period,” he said. “They’re incapable of learning from history. They’re incapable of resisting their worst urges for power. They should be left alone to their own devices.”

Overall, this is a good first book with the potential to become a great series.

 

Thanks for reading. :)

Book Review: MIRAMONT’S GHOST by Elizabeth Hall

Miramont's Ghost

Miramont Castle, built in 1897 and mysteriously abandoned three years later, is home to many secrets. Only one person knows the truth: Adrienne Beauvier, granddaughter of the Comte de Challembelles and cousin to the man who built the castle.

Clairvoyant from the time she could talk, Adrienne’s visions show her the secrets of those around her. When her visions begin to reveal dark mysteries of her own aristocratic French family, Adrienne is confronted by her formidable Aunt Marie, who is determined to keep the young woman silent at any cost. Marie wrenches Adrienne from her home in France and takes her to America, to Miramont Castle, where she keeps the girl isolated and imprisoned. Surrounded by eerie premonitions, Adrienne is locked in a life-or-death struggle to learn the truth and escape her torment.

Reminiscent of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, this hauntingly atmospheric tale is inspired by historical research into the real-life Miramont Castle in Manitou Springs, Colorado.

Published: February 1, 2015

Amazon / Amazon UK

 

My Review:

The premise for this story intrigued me, but it just didn’t seem to go anywhere. The pace is slow, painfully so at times. The plot, like the characters, has a tendency to wallow in its own tormented weight.

Adrienne’s eyes locked on the window in front of the desk. Sunlight poured through the glass. Golden beams shot from the panes. Adrienne stared, her eyes wide and dark. She relaxed into the vision that pulled at her.

The characters are all drowning in misery. No one is happy, everyone has major secrets, and they all behave as if their situation is an unalterable life sentence. If you’re looking for even the slightest bit of respite from unhappiness, you will not find it within these pages.

“Having family does not ensure that one won’t be lonely.”

The writing itself is fine. Elizabeth Hall is able to pull us into her story and show us her characters’ world. I just wish Adrienne had given me a spark of something worth clinging to.

Each of the three women was trapped, locked in the solitude of their own violent emotions.

 

Thanks for reading. :)

Book Review: BUTTERFLY KILLS by Brenda Chapman

Butterfly Kills

Jacques Rouleau has moved to Kingston to look after his father and take up the position of head of the town’s Criminal Investigations Division. One hot week in late September, university student Leah Sampson is murdered in her apartment. In another corner of the city, Della Munroe is raped by her husband. At first the crimes appear unrelated, but as Sergeant Rouleau and his new team of officers dig into the women’s pasts, they discover unsettling coincidences. When Kala Stonechild, one of Rouleau’s former officers from Ottawa, suddenly appears in Kingston, Rouleau enlists her to help. Stonechild isn’t sure if she wants to stay in Kingston, but agrees to help Rouleau in the short-term. While she struggles with trying to decide if she can make a life in this new town, a ghost from her past starts to haunt her. As the detectives delve deeper into the cases, it seems more questions pop up than answers. Who murdered Leah Sampson? And why does Della Monroe’s name keep showing up in the murder investigation? Both women were hiding secrets that have unleashed a string of violence. Stonechild and Rouleau race to discover the truth before the violence rips more families apart.

Published: January 31, 2015

Amazon / Amazon UK

 

My Review:

Butterfly Kills is a complex story with multiple plot lines and themes running throughout. While I respect the author’s ambition here, I felt a lack of focus that made it difficult for me to stay emotionally connected.

She couldn’t risk him finding out what she’d done. Not yet.

The main character here seems to be Kala Stonechild, who we follow along as she investigates multiple cases. She is aloof and difficult to know. I was lost during some of the references to her past and her life situation. This might be due to the fact that I did not read the first book in this series, or it might be intentional to keep her character mysterious. Either way, this was a challenge because if I can’t connect to the main character, I can’t really connect to the story.

“Where would you go if not here?”
“Not sure. My old job in Red Rock is still open.”
“Is that where you really want to be?”
“One place is as good as another.”

We have a lot of point of view characters, some with small parts and some who are important characters. Through much of the book, everyone’s parts feel insulated, separate from each other, and all these disconnected POV characters made the book feel too scattered for me. For instance, a young girl called Dalal makes an appearance early in the book and continues to pop in and out every so often as we go along. These sections are distinctly separate from everything else going on, to the point that I felt I was reading an entirely different book. In and of themselves, each of these plots and subplots are powerful, but combined they become watered-down and lost within themselves.

Dalal lowered her arm and grabbed Meeza’s hand firmly in hers. “Don’t worry, little sister. I won’t ever leave you. Besides, you are only twelve years old and we’ll be living together for a long time yet.”

No doubt the book is well-written. Brenda Chapman has a knack for capturing people in challenging situations and she does not shy away from the things that make us uncomfortable. This book raises issues of marital rape, family honor and cultural customs, trust, and jealousy. We see how easily appearances can become a cover to fool those who either don’t or can’t look deeper. I would have liked more focus, so that I could have made that emotional connection. Still, this book offers much to think about.

“I’m sorry to say that she’s been murdered,” Kala said. The words never came out soft enough, but how could they?

** I was provided with a review copy by Dundurn Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. **

 

Thanks for reading. :)

Book Review – CREATUS: EIDOLON by Carmen DeSousa

Eidolon

Not all phantoms are myths…

For four thousand years, creatus have concealed themselves from the humans who hunted them almost to extinction. Now, one rogue faction wants the world to know they exist.

Meghan only wants to be normal, and for the first time in her life, she feels she might have a chance to be herself.

As she finds herself between creatus families with different ideals and their roles within the human race, she struggles to find her way. Only, her path leads her right into the arms of a wanted man.

Not only will she have to fight for the man she loves, she’ll have to fight for her very life.

The Creatus Series is not your typical paranormal story…it’s a realistic romantic mystery based on the myths you’ve heard your entire life. Prepare to believe…

Published: October 2014

Amazon / Amazon UK

 

My Review:

Aren’t all myths rooted in basic truths? Carmen DeSousa takes this possibility and runs with it. The premise is original, fascinating, entertaining, and leaves me asking, “What if?”

Strange that the myths about his kind and other fairy-tale creatures always hinted of a full moon. He preferred to move anonymously across the rooftops and streets in search of his prey.

I would swear these characters are real people. They are all unique, with their own little quirks and personality traits. Perhaps most importantly, like people, their behavior isn’t always predictable. They change their minds, hide their true feelings, react badly to situations, and, sometimes, behave heroically in the face of danger.

Jonas rubbed the back of his neck. “Woman, I’m trying to take over the world here. Or haven’t you noticed?”

The plot here has some surprising twists. Just when I thought I knew where the story was going, the author takes us somewhere else. I loved that DeSousa was able to catch me completely off guard, while at the same time I could look back and see that the twists all made sense.

His heart rate increased as he made his slow way down the corridor. Something wasn’t right. He felt it, like a heavy weight on his chest.

While each book could be read as a stand-alone, this series, I think, works best if read in order. The characters and the storyline carry over from one book to the next. Certain subtleties in relationships might not be understood as well if you haven’t read the previous books.

If you like mystery, suspense, adventure, romance, all sprinkled with a supernatural element, this is absolutely the series for you.

 


Thanks for reading. :)

Book Review – GHETTOSIDE: A Story of Murder in America by Jill Leovy

Ghettoside

On a warm spring evening in South Los Angeles, a young man was shot and killed on a sidewalk minutes away from his home, one of hundreds of young men slain in LA every year. His assailant ran down the street, jumped into an SUV, and vanished, hoping to join the vast majority of killers in American cities who are never arrested for their crimes. But as soon as the case was assigned to Detective John Skaggs, the odds shifted. Here is the kaleidoscopic story of the quintessential American murder–one young black man slaying another–and a determined crew of detectives whose creed was to pursue justice at all costs for its forgotten victims. Ghettoside is a fast-paced narrative of a devastating crime, an intimate portrait of detectives and a community bonded in tragedy, and a surprising new lens into the great subject of murder in America–why it happens and how the plague of killings might yet be stopped.

Published: January 27, 2015

Amazon / Amazon UK / Barnes and Noble

 

My Review:

Sometimes I read a book full of alarming statistics, but it fails to move me. Then other times I read a book like this one, when the author weaves statistics and research into a story, when the writing is vivid and the details compelling, when I feel like I’ve learned something in a way that matters, and when that knowledge has, on some level, changed how I think.

For many family members, the nightmare beings with experiences most Americans associate only with war: the sudden death of a loved one on the street outside your home.

Jill Leovy is a gifted writer. She puts words together in a way that paints a portrait of images and emotion. I didn’t just read the words, I felt the anger and desperation of the people caught in this cycle of violence. Perhaps more importantly, Leovy’s writing shines a new light on an old situation. Being a white girl from middle class suburbs, I’ve never had much interaction with gangs or extreme poverty – with any race. And though I read a lot on crime and sociology, I have never come across a book that so expertly dissects the cause and effect of gang violence and black-on-black murders.

“I remember a banner headline in the Los Angeles Times one weekend,” recalled a detective named Paul Mize. “A bomb in Beirut had killed six people. We had nine murders that weekend, and not one of them made the paper. Not one.”

This book reads like the best crime novel. We have two hero cops, going far beyond anyone’s expectations while risking ridicule from their coworkers. We have the victims, innocent kids caught in the crossfire. And we have the killers, not much more than kids themselves, struggling to survive in a kind of inner city Wild West, with no one and nothing to rely on beyond their own code of ethics.

Homicide thrives on intimacy, communal interactions, barter, and a shared sense of private rules. The intimacy was also why homicide was so stubbornly intraracial. You had to be involved with people to want to kill them. You had to share space in a small, isolated world.

Ghettoside is a powerful statement on our indifference and assumptions. It’s an unflinching look at racism and survival. It’s a compelling piece of writing that needs to be read by every person, everywhere.

Take a bunch of teenage boys from the whitest, safest suburb in America and plunk them down in a place where their friends are murdered and they are constantly attacked and threatened. Signal that no one cares, and fail to solve murders. Limit their options for escape. Then see what happens.

 

Thanks for reading. :)

Cover Reveal and Giveaway! FINDING US by Debra Presley

Finding Us Banner

Finding Us (A Nucci Securities Novel) by Debra Presley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: March 2015
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

 

Finding Us Pop star Abby Murphy has fame and fortune and handsome boyfriend and guitarist, Sean. That changes the night she finds him in the arms of another woman. But Sean won’t accept the breakup, and she soon finds out he’s working with her mother, who’s also her manager, to keep him in her good graces.

As Sean ratchets up his threats against her, Abby turns to her bodyguard, Danny Nucci, who will do everything in his power to keep her safe.

But when Abby realizes her feelings for Danny run much deeper than she’d like, she pushes him away as much to keep her own independence as to protect him from Sean’s machinations.

When Abby finally finds the strength to confront all that is wrong with her life, she seeks refuge with Danny, but is it too late? Has she pushed him away one too many times for him to trust her now? Or can he put his own demons aside to help repair them both?

 

Finding Us Trailer:

 

This novel has a playlist on Spotify, where you can stream the music free!

 

Finding Us Snippet

 

About the Author:

Debra is a native New Yorker who made her escape to the suburbs. She often visits her hometown to enjoy a bagel with butter from her favorite deli, because there’s no better bagel than a New York bagel. When not in search of bagels, Debra spends her time running Book Enthusiast Promotions, an online promotions company that helps indie authors spread the word about their books. She’s also the owner of The Book Enthusiast blog.
She started writing lyrics in her wall-to-wall NKOTB bedroom at the tender age of thirteen while dreaming of the day she’d become Mrs. Jordan Knight. That dream never came to fruition, but she has continued to write. Now she’s working on her first novel.

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Book Review – THE RELUCTANT PSYCHIC: A Memoir

Reluctant Psychic

We all, as children, had our imaginary friends and monsters in the closet. But for Suzan Saxman, those friends and monsters didn’t go away—and they weren’t imaginary.

From an early age, Suzan knew instinctively that she had to hide her true self. She couldn’t talk about the specters who haunted her, waking and dreaming. In bed with a childhood fever, winged beings guarded her; bullied and friendless at school, she ate lunch silently under the steps of St. Theresa’s with the ghost of a nun; paralyzed with fear, she woke each night to see a man with no eyes, watching her; and she kept watch at the window, every day, while her real father was at work and Steve, her other father, was with her mother. It was the 1960s in suburban Staten Island and she tried to hide it all—to silence the spirits, ghosts and her own developing abilities to tap into people’s futures. She tried to be a daughter her mother could love.

Now, with Perdita Finn, Suzan tells the story of her journey in The Reluctant Psychic, and tries to make sense of her mother’s own personal buried secrets that were never acknowledged. She tells of the joy and terror in seeing things others couldn’t and understanding what no one else expected—and the loneliness and sadness of possessing a tremendous gift. Through powerful readings of others’ destinies interwoven with compelling narrative, a reluctant psychic emerges into the light.

Published: January 27, 2015

Amazon / Amazon UK / Barnes and Noble

 

My Review:

This memoir is as much, if not more, about entwined dysfunctional families as it is about psychic abilities. Saxman’s relationships with her parents, as well as her relationships with her husband and the men she has affairs with, read like material lifted from soap operas. Consequently, the psychic part of her story is often swallowed up in all the surrounding melodrama.

I was out of my mind. I had let myself be dragged into a kind of hell. I lay on the flowered carpet of the hotel floor weeping.

The writing is direct, as if Saxman is speaking to each of us privately. This style works well and makes for an easy read. At the close of each chapter, Saxman shares a brief anecdote from one of her readings with a client. These passages offer the most insight into her abilities, as we leave the drama behind to focus on the way her abilities work.

As for the content, it is indeed over the top. I commend Saxman for being so open, though I’m left wondering how I feel about it all. If I read this as fiction, I’d accuse the author of being ridiculous with the drama. Saxman makes a lot of odd choices. The men in her life are far too tolerant of her antics. Her husband allows her to carry on intense love affairs, while he apparently remains loyal to her. She spends a large portion of her life pining for and chasing after a particular man, but what she does after connecting with him felt, to me, completely selfish and hurtful. She didn’t seem to care about his feelings at all once she’d gotten what she needed.

He e-mailed me over the next year from time to time, but eventually he was too sick to stay in touch, and I never responded.

Saxman appears to experience a jumble of abilities. She sees spirits, hears them speaking, has premonitions and precognitive dreams, and can also feel connections with past lives. None of these abilities do her much good in her personal life, which is mostly a mess.

I’m left with mixed feelings. The focus is far more on her chaotic life, with her psychic abilities as perhaps an underlying factor. Some things I felt needed to be explored more, while other parts were expounded on to the point of exhaustion. If you are not a believer in anything supernatural, I doubt there is enough here to convince you otherwise. If you are a believer, Saxman’s life choices might make you question her connection to a higher power. Overall, I think ‘Dysfunctional Psychic’ might have been a better title.

We think we are the agents of our own destiny, but there are forces at work in our lives that are so much bigger than we can possibly ever understand.

 

Thanks for reading. :)

99 Cent Sale! SHE BELONGS TO ME by Carmen DeSousa

She Belongs To Me

A passionate romantic-suspense of love, betrayal, and obsession, She Belongs to Me will have you falling in love and wondering if you can trust anyone right up to the last page.

Charlotte police officer Jordan Monroe is used to being in control. Ever since his father died, he has provided for his mother and sisters and even hired his two brothers-in-law to help run his successful construction company. On a chance business trip, however, he meets the one person who throws his life into a whirlwind–Jaynee.

Jaynee has lived a tragic life and has sworn off all men. That is until a rugged southern gentleman lands in her seating area, refusing to take no for an answer. From the moment they meet, Jordan sweeps her off her feet, assuring her that happiness exists. But can she really escape her past?

Five years later, Jordan finds Jaynee on their back porch with a gunshot wound to the head. While Jaynee lies in a coma, Jordan has to go back to their beginning and figure out what went wrong. Did he push his wife to the edge, or has her past come back to haunt them?

Amazon / Amazon UK

 

Grab this book today (January 21) for just 99 cents!

You can also read this book free with an Amazon Prime or Kindle Unlimited membership.

I have this one waiting on my Kindle. While I haven’t yet read this series, I have read many of Carmen’s other books. She is a super talented author, so go ahead and treat yourself!

 

Thanks for reading. :)

#MondayBlogs: One Senseless Murder Leads Us Here – NO JUSTICE – Only Revenge

One act of random violence…

One senseless murder…

She’s gone. Dead. And his life will never be the same.

 

No Justice

For Michael Sykora, killing started as blind rage. Then it became something he’s good at. To most of those who know him, Michael is a software designer, a smart but average guy with a workaholic nature. To a chosen few, Michael is a part-time hit man whose specialty is eliminating hard-core criminals.

Michael has managed to keep his two personas separate. Until now. When Nicki, a close friend, gets into trouble, Michael steps in to help. Having lost his fiance to a brutal crime, Michael will do whatever necessary to keep from losing another woman in his life.

Book #1 in Michael Sykora Series

Amazon / Amazon UK

 

Blood Michael looked at him and considered the concept of enjoying what he did. He’d never thought of it that way, wasn’t sure he wanted to. Enjoyment wasn’t what he’d been after. It was about balance. Tipping the scales for the innocent. Preventing someone else from feeling what he had on the day that cop had told him that Christina had been murdered.

“What’s the job?” Michael asked.

“Guy about your age. Gets his rocks off raping women.”

Michael closed his eyes. He fought off the image of Christina’s battered body. Beaten, brutally raped, badly cut up, then strangled. He’d insisted on seeing her body at the morgue. Crazy. Maybe he’d thought she’d rise off the table in some miraculous moment induced by their intense love. Or maybe he’d been clinging to that shred of hope that the cops were mistaken; it wasn’t Christina.

Wrong on both counts. She was dead and would stay that way forever.

He opened his eyes and anger replaced the sadness. He said, “Who wants him dead?”

 

Thanks for reading. :)

Review – THE HAIGHT: Love, Rock, And Revolution by Jim Marshall and Joel Selvin

The Haight The counter-culture movement of the 1960s is one of the most endlessly examined moments of the twentieth century. Widely regarded as the cradle of revolution, San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury grew from a small neighborhood to a worldwide phenomenon—a concept that extends far beyond the boundaries of the intersection itself.

Jim Marshall visually chronicled this area as perhaps no one else did. Renowned for his portraits of some of the greatest musicians of the era, Marshall covered Haight-Ashbury with the same unique eye that allowed him to amass a staggering archive of music photography and Grammy recognition for his work. In this one-of-a-kind book, the full extent of Marshall’s Haight-Ashbury photography is stunningly displayed. Written by bestselling music journalist Joel Selvin, the story behind each of these incomparable images is disclosed through a revealing narrative, lending the images a fascinating context and prospective.

Bold and beautifully crafted, The Haight offers fresh insight into the Summer of Love, Haight-Ashbury, and beyond.

Published: October 2014

Amazon / Amazon UK / Barnes and Noble

 

My Review:

This book is pure perfection. These pages have something to offer everyone, whether your interest is music, history, sociology, photography, hippie culture, or all of these.

They dressed in post-mod thrift store chic, draped in beads and bracelets.

The photos are a mixture of black & white and color, with the majority being full-page. Many are candid shots, some are posed, and all of them capture one of the most fascinating periods of American history. We have many images of the musicians of the sixties. Many of these are offstage shots, giving us a glimpse into their personal lives. But perhaps even more interesting are the photos of the people on the streets. Some are tourists, some are just young residents hanging out. Jim Marshall managed to chronicle an era by expertly capturing the mood, the feel, and the look of the people making history.

LSD was the catalyst. Into this brewing realm of discontent and yearning, LSD was a grenade that detonated.

The text is well-written, informative, entertaining, and the perfect accompaniment to Jim Marshall’s photos.

They claimed one spot as Hippie Hill and sat around smoking joints and strumming guitars.

I bought this book in hardcover, which I highly recommend. While I love my Kindle, I don’t know that a digital copy would do this book justice. It’s large and heavy, the pages thick. The images pop. It’s a book that demands to be held, the pages touched, the ink smelled. This book deserves a place on a shelf or a coffee table, to be looked at, savored, and talked about.

 

Thanks for reading. :)