Book Review: Dark Designs by Stefanie Spangler

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Twins Ivy and Violet Grant are opposites. Ivy, a hot-tempered redhead, couldn’t wait to get off the farm and see the world. Violet, a quiet brunette, was content to stay home and help their grandmother with the family business. The one thing they have in common is their magic.

Charlie Logan’s sinister obsession with Ivy Grant has ruled his life. When he discovers a book of dark magic during a burglary, he decides to return to Oak Hill and use his newfound power to gain control over Ivy.

Ivy and Violet, with help from their grandmother, need to practice their magic to overcome the evil seeping into their lives. A battle is coming, and Ivy’s life is not the only one at stake.

Purchase: Amazon.com

Goodreads: Dark Designs


Review

*I received a copy for free for an honest review*

Rating: 3 stars

After their mother abandons them, twins Ivy and Violet Grant are raised on a farm by their grandparents. When farmhand Charlie Logan makes inappropriate advances towards eight year old Ivy, luckily her grandfather is there to put a stop to it. Years later, Charlie returns and his fixation with Ivy causes him to turn to dark magic. The twins and their grandmother are gifted with their own light magic and must come together to not only protect Ivy but also their town from the monster that Charlie Logan has become.

I enjoyed reading Dark Designs. It was quite a suspenseful read with likeable protagonists and an interesting side cast. I liked the premise of magic being used in this way and how the twins learned to control their abilities and use it to protect Ivy and the town.

However I did feel that a bit more could have been explained, for example they never did find out what happened to their mother. I started the novel thinking that this was going to be a large part of it and then it just seemed to disappear. Also the ending could have been a little more drawn out. The author took a great deal of time to build her villain and then he was dealt with comparatively quickly.

Overall I did enjoy reading Dark Designs. It is a well-written paranormal/suspense novel with some great main characters and the added twist of magic too!

New Release Blitz and Review: Sorcery of the Blood by Alice G. Holmes

Title: Sorcery of the Blood

Author: Alice G. Holmes

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: May 4, 2020

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 58100

Genre: Fantasy, LGBTQIA+, Romance, paranormal, gay, interracial, vampires, vampire hunters, dystopia, dark, magic, spells, witchcraft

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Synopsis

Kingston St. Louis and Martin Von Brandt are vampire hunters of the highest caliber. That is until Kingston is made a vampire and they discover too late that the city is being taken over by vampires in a bloody coup.

Branded as outlaws, they’re forced into hiding with an unexpected ally. For their plan to stop the coup to work, Kingston will have to overcome his prejudices and train the very vampires he used to hunt, and Martin must learn magic.

All the while, they struggle with their feelings for each other. Love can be a weakness, and they can’t afford weakness when hiding from a powerful enemy.

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Review: A Summer of Smoke and Sin by T.J. Nichols

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To stop a serial killer a detective will need to explore his own vices…

Nathanial Bayard wants nothing more than to find the nobleman creating snuff pornography. If he fails, his career in the recently formed Nobility Task Force will be over and as the youngest son he’ll be forced to obey his father and join the church. But a life of celibacy doesn’t appeal. Nathanial has never even kissed another man, fearing for his soul and his reputation.

Jericho Fulbright has never lived a wholesome life. After behavior unbecoming he was discharged from the army and sent home in disgrace. His inventor and nouveau riche father refused to have anything to do with him, so Jericho turned to what he knew best: opium, gambling and sex.

As the owner of the Jericho Rose, a club for gentlemen who like men, he enjoys a certain notoriety. Some would say he has a golden tongue, but the truth is a succubus lives within him feeding on souls. Once he needed her help, now she is a burden that keeps him from getting close to anyone.

After the unfortunate death of a young noble man in Jericho’s bed, Nathanial is sent to investigate. He is scandalized and intrigued by Jericho, but soon realizes that Jericho could be exactly who he needs to help break the snuff case. Together they are drawn into a web of lies that will result in Jericho facing prison unless Nathanial can unmask the real creator of the snuff, a man with rank and privileges that reaches almost to the King.

Purchase: Amazon.com

Goodreads: A Summer of Smoke and Sin


Review

*I received this novel for free in exchange for an honest review*

Rating: 3 stars

When Detective Nathanial Bayard is sent to investigate a death at the Jericho Rose, he finds himself drawn to the charismatic club owner Jericho Fullbright in a way that he never imagined. Desperately needing a break in a case, Nathaniel enlists Jericho’s help in tracking down the man creating snuff pornography. However, Nathaniel is unaware that Jericho’s ability of drawing the truth from others comes from the demon sharing his body. And the demon has set its sights on Nathaniel as its next host.

I was really drawn to the premise of this novel. It takes place in a regency-era setting which I love, but one that has a different attitude towards same sex relationships. The paranormal aspect was a real draw for me too and I couldn’t wait to start reading. However A Summer of Smoke and Sin was somewhat of a mixed bag for me. I really enjoyed how Nathaniel and Jericho’s relationship played out throughout the novel. The chemistry between them was undeniable and their contrasting personalities complemented the other perfectly. The demon part of the story I felt a little underwhelmed about. For me it felt like an addition rather than a main plot point and could have been expanded on more than it was. Also I felt that the ending was somewhat rushed to the point I was left feeling a bit taken aback by it. This was a shame as time had been taken to build the romance throughout the novel.

Overall A Summer of Smoke and Sin is an enjoyable and well-written read with a paranormal twist, but I would say it’s more a romance than paranormal or mystery.

Review: We Still Live by Sara Dobie Bauer

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We Still Live by Sara Dobie Bauer

Running from a scandal that ruined his life, Isaac Twain accepts a teaching position at Hambden University where, three months prior, Professor John Conlon stopped a campus nightmare by stepping in front of an active shooter.

When John and Isaac become faculty advisors for the school’s literary magazine, their professional relationship evolves. Despite the strict code of conduct forbidding faculty fraternization, they delve into a secret affair—until Simon arrives.

Isaac’s violent ex threatens not only their careers, but also John’s life. His PTSD triggered, John must come to terms with that bloody day on College Green while Isaac must accept the heartbreak his secrets have wrought.

Purchase: Amazon.com

Goodreads: We Still Live


Review

*I received this novel for free in exchange for an honest review*

Rating: 3 stars

We Still Live is the story of two university professors who are both struggling with traumatic pasts. Isaac is fleeing his hometown and the scandal that his divorce left behind and John is suffering from PTS due to confronting an active shooter at the university. The two of them make a connection and embark on an affair that could not only cost them their jobs but their lives as well.

I was divided as how to rate this novel. There were some parts I liked and some I didn’t. I liked the premise and the issues that the novel dealt with. It was hard-hitting in places and brutally honest as it needed to be. All the characters rallied together well to support each other and even in the darkest moments there was hope for a better future for all of them.

However I do feel that the relationship between Isaac and John could have been better developed. For me it fell flat in places and it got on my nerves how many times Isaac reiterated that John was not his normal type. It only needed to be stated once, possibly twice, then it should have moved on from that point. I think a lot of people have fallen for someone who they wouldn’t normally, but the constant making of that point really was needless. Also the professional relationships they had with their students bordered on unprofessional. They acted like the students ages themselves in places and also in front of them. There needed to be further boundaries in place there to make this more realistic.

We Still Live is very well-written and touches some difficult subjects in a sensitive way but whilst being honest and not shying away from the aftermath of these events. I enjoyed reading it but for me there were a few things that could have been better so I can only rate it 3 stars.

Book Blitz and Review: Faith (Graphene #2) by Archie Hellshire

Title: Faith

Series: Graphene, Book Two

Author: Archie Hellshire

Publisher: NineStar Press, LLC

Release Date: October 15, 2018

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 30100

Genre: Contemporary, college, friends to lovers, scientist, athlete, political

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Synopsis

Tuck is switching dorms. He’s had enough of his roommate’s odd hours, strange behavior, and teasing from his football teammates, who think there’s something more between them. He’s just put the last pad into his duffel bag when the campus goes on lockdown and the police swarm in.

They say that Tuck’s roommate, Sam, is a wanted man, but Tuck knows better. Sam is no criminal; he won’t even let Tuck kill spiders. Tuck takes a risk and helps Sam escape from the clutches of the authorities, and together they try to make it off the campus. As they try to evade the search parties, it becomes clear that they’re after something more than Sam; a secret project Sam’s been working on that has billion-dollar implications.

Tuck’s not sure what’s going on. He’s not sure what the truth is or who to trust. He’s not sure they’re going to make it out of this. And as the night wears on, he’s not sure how he really feels about Sam anymore. Sam is always sure about Tuck, though, and Tuck isn’t going to let him down.

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Book Blitz and Review: Shipped by Karrie Roman

Title:  Shipped

Series: Until You, Book One

Author: Karrie Roman

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: June 18, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 69200

Genre: Contemporary, friends to lovers, actors, fandom, ship, beard, slowburn/UST, stalker, attempted murder, family drama

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Synopsis

Ryan Lowe has been a lonely nobody all his life. The only time he ever feels the rush of living is when he’s acting. Wanting to get as far away from his small town life and alcoholic father as possible, he leaves Australia to pursue a career as an actor in the bright lights of Hollywood, never stopping to consider the fame that might come with it.

Lucas Evers understands fame. He’s been a successful actor on the small-screen for years and loves his career. Nothing comes for free though, and the price he’s paid for his success is keeping who he is hidden from the world. He married his best friend to keep both of their secrets, and until now, he has been content with the cost of his fame.

When Lucas and Ryan are cast in a new television series based on a wildly popular book series everything changes for them. The show is a worldwide hit and together they have just become the most popular ship on the planet. As they begin to realize it’s not just their characters falling in love, the cost of their fame rises. Together they must face stalkers, anxiety, panic attacks, and attempted murder.

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Review: The Story of Lucius Cane: Book One

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The Story of Lucius Cane: Book One by Vanya Ferreira 

London, 1794. Lucius Cane, a peculiar sort of vampire, comes upon an opponent the likes of which he has never seen before – a brute with remarkable abilities. But not all is as it seems as their encounter unfolds in a manner that neither of them expected.

Purchase Link: www.amazon.com

The Story of Lucius Cane: Book One on Goodreads


Review

*I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review *

Rating: 3 stars

Lucius Cane is a vampire living in late 1700s London. Book One introduces the reader to the title character as well as antagonist Jack ‘The Hound’ who is trying to kill him.

This is a short, but enjoyable read. Lucius is an intriguing character with a certain amount of empathy for humans. I do prefer vampire novels where the supernatural beings are given a more human side, but still connected to their vampire natures too and this certainly is the case here. Lucius’s vampire side comes across as an inner voice inside of him, which he tries to dismiss, most of the time successfully.

There is a good use of description within the novel and the fast pacing swiftly concludes with the inevitable showdown. This ends on a cliff-hanger and I’m looking forward to reading what happens next!

Review: You Have Been Murdered and Other Stories

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You Have Been Murdered and Other Stories by Andrew Kozma

You Have Been Murdered and Other Stories is a collection of weird, speculative fiction containing four stories dealing with the end of the world, both in terms of the death of the individual soul and the running down of the universe as a whole.

The title story presents a woman who’s been murdered and still has a dinner party to prepare for. In “Teller of Tales,” a young girl must take on the responsibility of being the necessary conscience of her city. “Breach of Contract” describes the plight of an oil man who just wants to insure production quotas, but is roped into saving the world. Lastly, “The Trouble-Men” details what happens when a man trying to survive the end of the world meets up with those who are ending it.

Purchase Link: Amazon.com

You Have Been Murdered and Other Stories on Goodreads


Review

*I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review *

Rating: 3 stars

You Have Been Murdered and Other Stories is a collection of four short and strange stories.

The first ‘You have been murdered’ is my favourite of the tales. It tells the story of a woman who has been murdered and tries to cover up this fact and her denial by still continuing to prepare for a dinner party that she had planned before her death. The author conveys her feelings regarding her death and her anxiety very well and you get a real sense of the pain and confusion that she is going through.

I enjoyed reading the other stories in the collection too, told through the eyes of a variety of different protagonists.

The collection is well-written and the author knows how to build plenty of atmosphere. The twists are surprising and unexpected. A great short read for fans of speculative fiction.

Review: Beyond the Storm by Adam Jones

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Beyond the Storm by Adam Jones

Man tries to remember his past while Jude tries to forget hers.

Years after the nuclear holocaust decimated Britain, Man wakes up, naked and alone but for the murdered corpses whch surround him. Struggling with amnesia, Man travels the wastes trying to piece together his past.

Across the crumbling remains of the city, Jude flees a depraved fiend, running for her life. Beyond the Storm is a journey of horror and suspense which paints a broken future world and the events that made it that way.

Beyond the Storm is the brutal and disturbing new novel from cult bestselling author, Adam Jones.

Purchase Link: Amazon.com

Beyond the Storm on Goodreads


Review

*I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review *

Rating: 3 stars

Beyond the Storm is a post-apocalyptic thriller set in Bristol, England. It follows the stories of Jude and Man, at first on separate paths and then when they come together. Jude is on the run from a monster who abused her terribly, and Man is suffering from amnesia and has no idea who he is or how the nuclear war almost destroyed the planet.

Whilst I did enjoy reading Beyond the Storm, I did find the description generally in excess and my attention was prone to wander, especially in the first half of the novel, and I felt that perhaps less would have been more in places. However, the second half of the story was more captivating and, eager to find out just who Man was and the fate of the rest of the cast, I found it difficult to put down. The truth about Man I never saw coming and there were plenty of twists that did not fail to disappoint. Beyond the Storm is dark, gritty and certainly not for the faint-hearted!

Review: Mercy’s Prisoner (Life Prison Volume 1)

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Mercy’s Prisoner (Life Prison Volume 1) by Dusk Peterson

“‘You have committed a vile and savage act, one that any other nation would punish with death. Our punishment, on the other hand, will only be to give you what you want. You have sought to live in a world without boundaries of civilization, and such a world shall henceforth be your dwelling place.'”

A cold-hearted murderer. A vicious abuser. A young man hiding a shameful secret. A bewildered immigrant. A pure-minded spy.

All of these men have found their appointed places at Mercy Life Prison, where it is easy to tell who your enemies are. But a new visitor to Mercy is about to challenge decades-old customs. Now these men’s worst enemies may be hiding behind masks . . . and so may their closest allies.

A runner-up in the Rainbow Awards 2014, the book bundle “Mercy’s Prisoner” can be read on its own or as the first volume in the Life Prison series. Friendship, desire between men, and the costs of corruption and integrity are examined in this multicultural speculative fiction series, which is inspired by prison life at the end of the nineteenth century.

Purchase Link: Amazon.com

Mercy’s Prisoner on Goodreads


*I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review*

Rating: 3 Stars

Mercy’s Prisoner (Life Prison Volume 1) is set inside a 1800s prison called Mercy. It is a life prison and those who are sent there have committed the worst crimes imaginable. They will die in prison; escape is impossible and they will never be freed.

Mercy’s Prisoner is a dark read. The prisoners have committed horrific crimes (such as child murder) and due to this the guards feel it gives them the right to treat them appallingly (they beat and rape them on a regular basis).  This raises some interesting questions in terms of morals; yes the prisoners have done truly terrible things, but does this give their guards the right to treat them terribly in turn?

It’s clear that the author has done their research and has cleverly woven this into an atmospheric and gritty read.

The novel consists of several interlinking stories. The first of which I really enjoyed, but after that I found myself getting lost. By the end I was struggling to understand how the stories all fitted together. However, this is Volume 1 so the ambiguous ending is most likely intentional and will be further explained in later novels.

Overall I did enjoy reading Mercy’s Prisoner. It’s a dark novel with plenty of atmosphere and I would very much like to read later volumes in the series.