Paranormal

Little Rabbit

Little Rabbit
Published: May 19, 2016
Absinthe and drugs at a vampire wake. Tensions are running high at the Winslow house party, and as the past is dragged out into the night, accusations begin to draw venom. The vampire marshals are already in town. Drawn by the scent of suspicious deaths and asking uncomfortable questions. Which means Eloise Winslow has to walk a dangerous line. One where she works to act like everything is normal while she covers up the brutal murder she has just committed.

4 Stars

This is an intriguing story, with a strong plot and compelling characters. It revolves around Eloise Winslow, a vampire who has lived in America since colonial times when she, her sisters and their friend Crow were ‘turned’ on Dark Day. Imprisoned in a silver mine for murdering her sister, Tabitha, Eloise is given a chance for early release if she will provide the details of the crime, and agree to work with the Vampire Marshals.

Little Rabbit by Barb Ettridge is a slightly different take on the vampire story. Part fantasy-thriller, part mystery, and part romance, it shows the ‘human’ side of vampires—human weaknesses in a near-immortal shell.

The way the story starts with Crow, a Vampire Marshal, offering Eloise release more than seventy years before completion of her sentence, if only she’ll provide details surrounding her murder of Tabitha, her older sister—also a vampire. In addition, she must agree to work with the marshals after her release. This forces Eloise to come to grips with things in her past she would rather forget—if only she could.

The first chapter shows Eloise’s reluctance to dig up the pain of the past, but she chafes about being held by the power of the silver in the mine to sap her strength. The narrative then transitions immediately to the events leading up to her sister’s demise, and this is where the real strength of the story lies. The author does a fantastic job of letting the speech and actions of characters show us their motivations. By the middle section of the book, the reader feels—at least this reader did—an intimate association with Eloise, and in-depth understanding of the characters who revolve around her.

Told entirely from Eloise’s point of view, the suspense is electric as Crow comes closer to solving Tabitha’s murder. Crow’s love for Eloise is also clear, as is her affection for him, leaving the reader to wonder until very near the end if Crow will be able to fulfil his duty. Even though the opening chapter makes it clear that Eloise was caught and punished, we do not know the agency of that punishment until near the end.

The setting was probably the weakest part of the story. We know where we are, a small town in New England, not far from Boston. But, other than knowing the approximate date when Eloise and the others were ‘turned’ to vampires, we can’t be sure when the events in the story take place. There are some popular culture references that hint at late twentieth century, but it’s never made clear. The geographical setting, descriptions of the town and its environs, is great, and adds to the dark tone of the story.

A great job of showing rather than telling. The British (or Australian) spellings and grammar stick out, especially as the story is set in America, which wouldn’t be an issue if it had been set in colonial times, when one can assume that colonial Americans still retained English forms, but it was a bit unsettling at the outset. The story is so compelling, though, that by the one-third mark, I no longer paid spelling or unique non-US constructions much mind.

I give this book a solid four stars.

 

The Ahe’ey Series

The Ahe’ey Series
Author:
Published: March 8, 2017
Author's Twitter: @JamieLeFay
Thirty-four-year-old Morgan is a dreamer, change maker and art lover. She is a feisty, slightly preachy, romantic feminist full of contradictions and insecurities. Morgan uncovers a world where women have the power, and where magic is no longer just a figment of her wild imagination. Sounds like a dream, but it may, in fact, turn into a nightmare. The world of the Ahe'ey challenges and subverts her views about gender, genes, and nature versus nurture. The strong and uninvited chemistry between her and the dashing Gabriel makes matters even more complicated. His stunning looks keep short-circuiting her rational mind.

4 Stars

 

The Ahe’ey Series by Jamie Le Fay is a tale of paranormal romance that takes the reader on a fantastical journey while encompassing the narrative in subject matter heavily anchored in our own political reality. This is a book (series of episodes) with something for everyone, and many readers will be able to comfortably find a home here. There is a special attention paid to feminist ideals that this reader thinks will resonate most powerfully with younger female readers, but readers of other demographics should not be turned off by this, as the adventure that unfolds is chock full of suspense, allure and strong characters that attend to heroic quests while simultaneously tackling real human issues.

Readers should be aware that throughout the majority of the story, the narrative is very much in flux. This is a book that reflects the current political landscape, and as such the characters, motives, and landscape can change seemingly instantaneously. Fortunately, the driving idea does not change, and this results in a book that powerfully reflects one author’s view of modern soceity – albeit through the lens of fantasy. Morgan, the main character, is a foil of herself, and full of all the conflict that makes great heroes. While she is well-drawn and interesting, some of the secondary characters can fall into stereotypical roles. As this book can be viewed as political commentary, this doesn’t take away from the intent, but could draw the reader’s attention away from Morgan’s journey.

The world that Le Fay crafts is intriguing and desirable, but like any envisioned utopia has sustainability issues. The author doesn’t shy away from discussing complex matters, and dedicated readers will be rewarded with an entertaining story that also sends a message. This book isn’t for everyone, but I think most readers will be able to get into the story, and at the very least learn something, from giving The Ahe’ey Series a shot. I give the collected series 4 Stars.

 

Feast of the Epiphany

Feast of the Epiphany
Publisher:
Published: November 7, 2016
Author's Twitter: @KathrynMHearst
Immortal and a member of the Sinistra Dei, a secret order designed to eliminate threats to the Vatican, Giovanna was created to do the dirty work of the Church. This requires creative thinking and the ability to tap dance on the line between right and wrong. As the commander she loves slowly sinks into insanity, she learns that dark immortals—the Execrati dedicated to destroying her kind— have snuck into New Orlean’s legendary French Quarter to hunt her friends. With the further discovery that one of Rome’s own has faked his death, and the unexpected evolution of her supernatural powers, Gia is no longer able to play by the rules. How can she defy the man she loves, break the trust of a close friend, and explain the new set of wings on her back? The answer is simple… she can’t.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Currents of Change

Currents of Change
Categories: ,
Author:
Published: March 20, 2015
Author's Twitter: @DarianWordSmith
Haunted house. Haunted heart. When Sara O’Neill goes on the run, she believes the tiny New Zealand town of Kowhiowhio is just the sanctuary she needs. Her family’s old colonial house needs repair, but it’s safe from the abusive husband she left behind. However, a hostile local holds a grudge and a dangerous presence haunting her new home threatens Sara’s chance at peace. How can she create a new life while dealing with ghosts from the old? For local electrician, Nate Adams, parenting his young daughter alone has not been easy – particularly in a town where he is still seen as an outsider. When he meets his new neighbour, he sees a chance at a new start for them both. Even with his help, can the house – or Sara’s heart – be repaired? Someone doesn’t want an O’Neill in Kowhiowhio. Sara’s return is awakening secrets hidden for generations. Why has the house never had electricity? What was the fate of Sara’s ancestors? Can she discover the ghost’s story before it’s too late? The truth will set…something…free.

Reviewed by Tahlia Newland

5 Stars

Fabulous book. Not only is it well written and thoroughly deserving of the hard-to-get Awesome Indies Seal of Excellence (which was why I bought it) but also, I personally love it. As a Kiwi, I find the mix of celtic lore and Maori law particularly intriguing. It makes for a unique story that is essentially a quality paranormal romance that, thankfully, avoids the over-used vampire and werewolf characters.

The author skilfully reveals the true story bit by bit, keeping one reading, then builds the pace and suspense to a riveting conclusion with a satisfying ending. Well done.

 

 

 

The Source
Author:
Publisher:
Published: December 15, 2015
Author's Twitter: @Dragonwriter11
The portals are closed. The Evil have lost their pathway between their home and ours. No longer does humanity need to worry about extradimensional bodysnatchers with a thirst for pain and terror pouring through to wreak destruction on Earth. The problem is, while there might not be any new Evil coming through, a whole lot of very powerful, very angry Evil are still stuck on our side. Desperate now, they’re forced to put aside their differences and work together to come up with an ambitious plan to get their pipeline of soldiers up and running. And now they’ve got a dangerous ally on their side: a black mage with a longstanding hatred of Stone. Will Stone and his friends figure out what the Evil are up to before they can set into motion something that can’t be stopped–and that will end up killing thousands of people in the process?

 

Reviewed by Tahlia Newland

Another excellent book book in the Alistair Stone Cronicles. This series is a must read for urban fantasy fans. The author has the wonderful ability to write exciting action-packed books that also give sufficient weight to character development.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Commons: Book 1: The Journeyman:

The Commons: Book 1: The Journeyman
Series:
Publisher:
Published: June 19, 2014
Author's Twitter: @michaelapeck
 “Paul Reid died in the snow at seventeen. The day of his death, he told a lie–and for the rest of his life, he wondered if that was what killed him.” And so begins the battle for the afterlife, known as The Commons. It’s been taken over by a corporate raider who uses the energy of its souls to maintain his brutal control. The result is an imaginary landscape of a broken America-stuck in time and overrun by the heroes, monsters, dreams, and nightmares of the imprisoned dead. Three people board a bus to nowhere: a New York street kid, an Iraq War veteran, and her five-year-old special-needs son. After a horrific accident, they are the last, best hope for The Commons to free itself. Along for the ride are a shotgun-toting goth girl, a six-foot-six mummy, a mute Shaolin monk with anger-management issues, and the only guide left to lead them. Three Journeys: separate but joined. One mission: to save forever. But first they have to save themselves.

Reviewed by Katt Pemble

4 Stars

I don’t really know what to say after finishing The Journeyman… my mind is still whirring around putting things together, rehashing scenes from the start that held hidden meanings that only revealed themselves after you’ve finished the book.

My first thought was around how instantly engaging and interesting the story was, even though it began as a slice-of-life type of story. The first few chapters welcomed the reader into Paul’s world, showed a young man who had struggled through life, had been beaten to the curb time and time again.

Annie and Zach also added to the delightfully well-constructed characters. I especially liked that they were both a bit different from the traditional characters. Zach appeared to be on the spectrum, while Annie is a strong minded, single mother, data analyst and injured war veteran.

Brilliantly different and yet, someone that just about anyone could relate to on some level.

The idea of a purgatory or interim afterlife has been done before, but not with this sort of fantastical element. When the book changes from slice-of-life to The Commons the whole world is turned on its head. This left me a little lost as to what was happening, and while a little disorienting, the fast pace meant you really couldn’t stay focused on that for too long.

This will either encourage the reader to just ‘go with it’ or potentially put them off completely (which is what I’ve seen in a couple of the other reviews). For me, the unanswered questions around what was happening and who all the new people were, was more intriguing than annoying. But I can completely understand how some people would get ‘over it’ quickly.

My biggest criticism, and probably the only one really, is to do with the pace of the book. The action starts at chapter 5, and it does not stop until you read the last line of the book. Now, at times, this works brilliantly. The epic battles and racing through dark tunnels was fantastic at a frantic pace, but normally as a reader you need some slower parts. Parts that allow you to digest what has happened and to form intricate and emotional bonds with the characters; It’s a part that was almost missed because of the frantic pace.

The emotional impact of one of the pivotal sad moments in the story was a mere molehill to me because of my lack of emotional attachment to the characters. The reaction that should have occurred was nowhere to be seen because my level of emotional commitment to the character was still in its infancy. Had there been a few softer, quieter moments with this character, ones to forge emotional bonds with, then I’d probably have been crying like a baby at that climatic scene. I wanted to, I really did.

Are you crying?

This isn’t to say that Michael can’t make the reader care about the characters, because he does. I really felt for little Zach and felt my heart lurch along with Annie’s as she worked her way through the puzzles along her journey, but these scenes were about characters that’d been with me the whole way through the book. I knew something of them, I wanted to read more about them and experience things with them.

When it comes to antagonists, Michael really shone. Mr Brill was insidious in his evilness and yet, still not out and out creepy. There was an intelligence about him and a polished exterior that was somewhat misleading. I also liked his little side-kick Gerald Truitt, he was an interesting character. I can see bigger things for him too.

All in all, this is a fantastic book. One that is well written, flawlessly edited and thoroughly engaging. If you want to try something that’ll get your imagination flowing, pick this book up today, you will not be disappointed.

**Note: I was provided an electronic copy of this book in return for an honest review***

Eye Spy

Eye Spy
Published: November 25, 2013
Eye Spy is a 106,000-word paranormal thriller about a psychic agoraphobe, the bodies he visits, the sister who saves him, and the people they protect. CJ lives in fear. Fear of the outdoors. Fear of strangers. But his fear disappears when his mind secretly hitchhikes in someone else’s body. Undetectable, he goes where his hosts go, and he senses what they sense. As a spy hidden beyond others’ eyes, he has foiled robberies and solved murders with the support of his sister Steph. Now, they must save a kidnapped teenager from a cult leader who believes the teen is destined to bear his child. But when CJ’s mobile mind is noticed by other psychics, CJ and Steph’s attempted rescue becomes a struggle for survival.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Destiny

Destiny
Author:
Published: October 4, 2014
Author's Twitter: @SMSpencerAuthor
Set in Australia this YA paranormal romance is the story of Lili who, while looking for her destiny, finds herself in a world filled with vampires and ghosts. Destiny: ‘The predetermined or inevitable path a person must follow.’ When nineteen year-old Lili McIntyre decides to trade her California summer for a mid-winter visit to Australia, it’s in hope of finding inspiration and direction in the country where her father was born. But when she arrives in Melbourne, the first thing she finds is the last thing she’s looking for—a brooding man who makes her heart race every time she sees him. Against her better judgement, Lili finds herself drawn into a relationship that tests her very beliefs about life, reality and fantasy. But the real test is how to follow her destiny as she faces some of the hardest decisions of her life.

Reviewed 

4 Stars

Lili McIntyre just ended a difficult relationship and is now on a much-needed summer vacation to Melbourne, Australia for a few months. Her aunt Debs welcomes her Down Under and provides her with a chance to clear her head. On the plane, Lili meets Claire, and that new friendship introduces her to more than she dreamed of. Though Claire doesn’t know it, her new boyfriend, Tom, has an enormous secret. The oblivious Claire introduces Lili to Sam, Tom’s close friend. As a natural double-date, Sam and Lili find themselves thrown together and soon discover a growing attraction.

Soon, Lili discovers why Sam and Tom behave so strangely. They are vampires! Suddenly a world of the supernatural opens up to Lili and her heart will lead her to help Sam keep his secret identity and defend the city from conflicts begun in ages past.

Destiny is an enjoyable book with a fun take on the vampire genre, full of characters created with affection and care. Lili’s struggle to determine her future and the pressures from home struck a chord with me. She feels the urgency to decide her future and move forward, although the hugeness of the decision overwhelms her.

The American/Australian crossover made me wonder through the tale about the author’s origins, but I think I know. Some telling word choice clued me in. I loved hearing about life in Melbourne and all the interesting trips the characters took nearby. Though some of Melbourne’s history appears in the book, I would have like to learn more.

I appreciated the potential for the tale to discuss the subject of abuse. I think that young women, especially, need reinforcement that abuse is real, encouragement that they don’t have to endure it, and illustrations of what it really looks like. Plenty of speakers and nonfiction writers share about abuse, but tales of people enduring and overcoming it reach us in a different, sometimes more personal way.

Lili wonders through the tale why she isn’t scared that Sam is a vampire. I know why: it’s because none of the vampires in this book are the slightest bit scary. Romance and good looks trump blood-drinking. Any slip of the teeth is slight and polite to the extent that Claire never once discovers their identity. Even the scenes that should be thrilling and terrifying lose their teeth because of the detached and passive way the author describes them. My take is that the trouble lies in the author’s unwillingness to make the characters suffer. She loves them too much. Any problem is short and quickly resolved without the pain that blood-drinking romantic interests should pose.

Aside from the pressured calm of the tale, I enjoyed the book and look forward to the second book in the trilogy to find the answers to the problems that Lili hasn’t solved yet. Four stars.

Chasing the Dead

Chasing the Dead
Categories: ,
Author:
Published: October 16, 2014
Author's Twitter: @ketadiablo
A revengeful spirit tracks Deacon and Madrid across New Mexico, seeking the Indian maiden traveling with them. The story is set in 1886 and is a western (paranormal) romance.    

Reviewed by Awesome Indies

March 2, 2015

Fantastically Original

What a fantastically original plot and story idea! If you like westerns, American history, the native American Indians or just want a read with some seriously sexy Bannister boys (cowboys!!), well then this one is for you.

The plot moved along at a cracking pace, it kept me interested and had plenty of action. There are bigger plot arcs that aren’t really finished in this one, which gives Keta plenty of opportunity to bring these boys and girls back for more. The female characters, Maddie and Sacheen are headstrong and know themselves well. It was a lovely thing to see strong women in a romance novel with such strong males. This was just as important as their softer emotions. Despite the heroine needing to be rescued, it wasn’t because she was helpless, like a lot of bodice-ripper romance.

The mixing of Indian folklore/beliefs with Mexican and Christian beliefs worked really well. Given the setting, and the little Indian translation list at the start I was initially concerned that there’d be too much in Indian or Mexican and I’d miss plot points because I don’t speak/read either. Thankfully, Keta took care of me, and the different languages ended up giving the story a lovely exotic spice, without being too much. There wasn’t any point where I didn’t understand what was going on.

There were a couple of points that might need a bit of attention (hence the 3.5-4 star rating). It seemed too easy for Uday to lure Sacheen away (a little too convenient that Maddie knew the answers but it’d slipped her mind to share with anyone else), and the story became a little rushed at the ending. It didn’t draw enough of a picture for the reader in the final battle/action scenes before zooming to the ending. A little more exposure to the last action scenes would give them greater weight. As they stand it came across as a bit ‘tacked on’ to the other story arc (Maddie and Deacon).

Minor things really, just the last rough edges of an otherwise enjoyable read. The manuscript needs another once over, to catch some minor typos, but it was mostly really well written.

I would recommend it for romance lovers, paranormal fans and general readers who are interested in an engaging plot, strong characters and action with a fantastic setting.