REVIEW – Urban Fantasy // Ghost Electricity by Sean Cunningham

Ghost Electricity
(Hawthorne House #1)
by Sean Cunningham

There is quite a wide cast of characters in Ghost Electricity both main and supporting, all of whom are well crafted and nicely rounded. The story is complex, multi-layered and packed full of intrigue. There are lots of strands that are cleverly woven together at the end, but for much of the book I felt as though I was randomly hopping from one random scene to another.



There were over half a dozen different point of view, featuring only very briefly interactions with other protagonists, if there was one at all. Julian and Rob were together for the majority of scenes, Fiona and Jessica were occasionally together but also apart quite a lot, Alice occasionally interacted with Fiona and Julian, but also with other characters, Justin knew about all these players but was on the periphery or manoeuvring in the background. It all just got a little blurry and disjointed since each person had their own agenda and focus. Just as I got into one part of the story it flipped to another scene, then went back to the previous one.



I definitely enjoyed the author’s voice, dialogue felt natural and descriptions were sufficiently detailed without being overly long and tediously complex. The world building was very smooth and felt very much an organic development of the story. Despite my issues this was still a good story, I really liked how the plot gradually unfolded, revealing new snippets of information, new clues or an answer to one question along with a new puzzle to be solved. If you like Urban Fantasy with a dash of humour I do recommend giving this a try, though it won’t be a series I chose to continue reading.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Urban Fantasy / Paranormal Suspense

Age 15+

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45717303-ghost-electricity


Synopsis
Do you know what happens to ghosts in London?

A girl with a monster in her shadow. A warlock believed dead four years ago. A werewolf outcast from the London packs.

Rob wants a good job, friends to head to the pub with and a solid cage to lock himself in three nights a month. Julian dropped off the face of the Earth four years ago. He’s back and trying to figure out what living looks like. Together they  will face the deadliest of threats hidden in one of the oldest cities in the world.


Fiona has a monster in her shadow but she doesn’t know how it got there. A creature in the shape of a man is on her trail  and he knows things about Fiona she doesn’t know herself. Her ten year old sister Jessica can build machines that defy the  known laws of physics. Accompanied by a brass tortoise and a glass-feathered raven, Jessica will help Fiona unravel the web  of lies that surrounds them both.


And beneath their feet the plague dead of centuries stir in their graves, waiting for the spell that holds them to break…

REVIEW – Speculative Fiction // The 22 Murders of Madison May by Max Barry

The 22 Murders of Madison May
by Max Barry

I’m not quite sure what genre this really fits into. It’s sort of a murder mystery where you already know who the culprit is, what is unknown is which parallel dimension he currently inhabits. However hidden under the surface is a story of self-reflection, personal growth and character development. What I can say without a shadow of a doubt is that I very much enjoyed it. There are layers to this book that are easy to miss if you aren’t paying attention to the small details and little one-liners.



Felicity is a very sympathetic character, one I not only liked but found it easy to empathise with. She is flawed, impulsive and, at times, down-right selfish but her strong moral compass, her compassion and ultimately that realisation of just what she had, also made her likeable. Over the course of the story we also get to know Madison May too. The supporting characters were well written, remaining consistent throughout the book and their interactions with Felicity often raised some very thought provoking moments.



Whilst the book wasn’t perfect, it captivated my attention and soon became a story that I didn’t want to put down. The reader was left to occasionally make their own links, to draw their own conclusions. Some may interpret this as a weakness in world-building or clarity of explanation, but personally I appreciate the author allowing me this autonomy. Finally I want to finish with what for me was quite a profound quote from the book. It summed up perfectly the truth behind this fascinating story.

“They’re all the same, though,” Felicity said.
“That’s what I figured, eventually.”

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Science Fiction/ Alternate Reality

Age 17+, Contains violence and murder.

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56026187-the-22-murders-of-madison-may


Synopsis
From the critically acclaimed author of Jennifer Government and Lexicon comes mind-bending speculative psychological suspense about a serial killer pursuing his victim across time and space, and the woman who is determined to stop him, even if it upends her own reality.

I love you. In every world.

Young real estate agent Madison May is shocked when a client at an open house says these words to her. The man, a stranger, seems to know far too much about her, and professes his love–shortly before he murders her.

Felicity Staples hates reporting on murders. As a journalist for a midsize New York City paper, she knows she must take on the assignment to research Madison May’s shocking murder, but the crime seems random and the suspect is in the wind. That is, until Felicity spots the killer on the subway, right before he vanishes.

Soon, Felicity senses her entire universe has shifted. No one remembers Madison May, or Felicity’s encounter with the mysterious man. And her cat is missing. Felicity realizes that in her pursuit of Madison’s killer, she followed him into a different dimension–one where everything about her existence is slightly altered. At first, she is determined to return to the reality she knows, but when Madison May–in this world, a struggling actress–is murdered again, Felicity decides she must find the killer–and learns that she is not the only one hunting him.

Traveling through different realities, Felicity uncovers the opportunity–and danger–of living more than one life.

REVIEW – Dystopian Future Romance // Omega Awakening by L.V. Lane

Omega Awakening
(The Controllers, #0.5)
by L.V. Lane

This is definitely my favourite book by L.V. Lane that I’ve read so far. Even though it has slight Cinderella themes cleverly woven throughout, this didn’t have a frivolous or fantasy feel to it. Verity and Woodrow were both wonderful characters who I quickly fell in love with. Despite Woodrow’s skewing of the odds, his conditioning of Verity, the depth and purity of his feelings for her were unquestionable, making it easy to forgive this domineering Alpha.


The recurring theme of lessons, along with being broken to produce something stronger, gave this story a richness and depth that simply wowed me. It skirted the line of dubious consent in that Woodrow manipulated Verity’s reactions at times. However there was no malicious intent to harm her in any way, indeed no-one could doubt how much he actually cared for her.


My attention was quickly caught and then easily held throughout reading this story, with a plot that was both challenging and full of unexpected events. The prose flows smoothly, leading to an effortless read, whilst the characters are engaging and interesting – even the disagreeable ones! I was actually quite sad to reach the end of the book just because of how invested I felt in this pair and their love for one another. I already own the next three books and will be bumping them up my TBR stat.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Fairy Tale Fantasy Romance

Goodreads
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56196382-omega-awakening


Synopsis

Omega Awakening, a dark Cinderella Omegaverse romance…
All things must end.
I learned that lesson the day my mother died.
My step-mother was wicked.
My step-sister, spiteful.
It was a relief when I revealed as an Omega because it was a chance to escape.
But it wasn’t the end of my troubles.
What happens to Omegas is a secret.
And my troubles had just begun.
“I can save you from one monster, Verity,” Lilly had said when she accepted me into the program. “But I cannot save you from them all.”
True to her word, she saved me from my step-mother.
Then Woodrow entered my life.
And I realized he was the other monster Lilly had warned me about.

REVIEW – Gaslamp Fantasy // Tools of the Trade by G.L. Francis

Tools of the Trade
The Suntosun Chronicles #1
by G.L. Francis

This was a really captivating series opener. It has left me wanting to read more about Sophie, Kazimir and their adventures. It’s not often that a short story/novella captures me in the way this one did. The story was fast pace, exciting and intriguing, totally capturing my attention from start to finish.



I really liked Sophie, she is a solid character with both depth and an air of believability. I loved her determination and no-nonsense approach and she, along with a good plot, was a big part of why I really enjoyed the book.



There could have been a little more world building but to be honest it would probably have been at the expense of plot and character development, so I was happy to accept it. It also means I have plenty to look forward to in future stories involving this adventurous pair.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Fantasy Fairy Tale

Age 13+

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58476951-tools-of-the-trade


Synopsis
As seductive demons rise from the waters of the Missouri River, Sophie Asher and her family join forces with Kazimir Anastov, a mysterious defender from Russia, to battle this new threat.


~*~


Launching The Suntosun Chronicles, a historical fantasy series, Tools of the Trade is an exciting adventure filled with demons, magical beings, and a clever heroine at the helm.

REVIEW ~~ Dark Erotica // The Prey by Claire Thompson

The Prey
Claire Thompson

How can a book as dark, twisted and tormented as this is leave me on an incredible high with a sappy smile on my face a glistening tear in my eye?


Mara’s story is not an easy one to read, but her resilience, her strength and emotional fortitude left me with a feeling of empowerment, despite the dark themes that run through the book. I really liked her character and was so happy with how the book ended when she got the future she so very much wanted and deserved. There is a romance in here of sorts, though it isn’t a conventional one and we don’t really get to see much of it. The main focus is on Mara’s suffering and the cruel, erotic treatment she is subjected to.


This is a gird your loins, buckle in and pull up your big girl pants read that is not suitable for those with triggers around non-con situations, including sadism. It’s a somewhat uncomfortable ride at times, pushing boundaries and definitely not relaxing. The situations it describes leaves me on edge, uncomfortable, emotions taut and heart pounding. I love that feeling! Whilst this won’t be for everyone it is Claire Thompson at her darkly erotic best and I do recommend it to all dark erotica fans.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Dark Erotic Romantic

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58271648-the-prey


Synopsis
Lured. Abducted. Trained. Hunted…

False pretenses brought Mara to the island, where she’s held captive. Forced to submit, brutally trained and harshly disciplined, Mara is determined to escape.

Dangerous, high-powered men claim her at their whim. Mara’s trainers demand far more than just her service as a pleasure sub to their guests. But nothing can prepare her to become… the prey.


Previously titled: Hunted


Warning: This Dark Obsessions novel is an edgy, explicit captive tale. Read only if you dare…

REVIEW – Cosy Mystery // Hexing The Ex by Susanna Shaw

Hexing The Ex
House of Magic #1
by Susanna Shaw

A very pleasant but not terribly memorable story, a candyfloss read that is sweet on the tongue but soon gone. It was nice, gentle, hints of funny, a bit of mystery, nice touches of world building but it never really engaged me and definitely didn’t wow me.



The authors voice was very pleasant, reading the book never felt onerous, but on reflection I think my issues are because this is more of a plot driven read. This meant I didn’t feel that connection to the main character that truly draws me into a story.

Even in a light, somewhat funny cosy-mystery I still want to experience a depth or range of emotion, and that was where the book lost me. Secondary characters lacked the necessary nuance of personality that can be used to add richness and texture to the story. I would love to see the author give more background to her characters, create a life history for them, along with personality traits and quirks.


If you’re looking for a paranormal cosy mystery then it is still well worth picking up this easy to read and entertaining book.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Urban Fantasy Mystery

No sex scenes, mild profantity

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57397428-hexing-the-ex

Synopsis
I didn’t expect to be evicted the first thing I returned from my holiday, but thanks to my roommate Nick, that’s what I was facing.


It’s not exactly easy to find a new place to live in London, so when Phoebe Thorpe spots a room-to-let sign at the window of a magic shop, she doesn’t hesitate. The room is perfect, even if chores are part of the rent. There is only one thing odd about her new landladies. They seem to believe magic exists.

Phoebe doesn’t believe in magic, but unfortunately magic believes in her. A mysterious statuette is sent to her boss, Archibald Kane, and she accidentally triggers a curse meant for him. Naturally, the first person she curses is her ex-boyfriend. But why would anyone want to curse her boss, a perfectly ordinary antiques dealer? Or is he?

Phoebe sets out to break the curse with the help of her new housemates. But it isn’t easy trying to solve a mystery she doesn’t even believe is real. Then again, that hellhound chasing her seemed pretty solid… Maybe there’s more to magic than hexing one’s ex.

This is the first book in House of Magic, a new series by Susanna Shore blending mystery and magic, with a resourceful heroine and plenty of action.

REVIEW – Historical Romance // Hart and The Villain by Victoria Vale

Hart
(The Villain #0.5)
by Victoria Vale

Written to give readers a greater understanding of Adam, Earl of Hartmoor, since his POV does not appear in the main novel The Villain. This book is available for free from the author’s website, you just have to sign up for her newsletter. It is a short prequel novella and may be read before or after The Villain, book #1.



I really enjoyed this and will definitely be reading the remaining two books, possibly all of the series. Having not read this author before I was unsure just what my experience of her work would be. I’m happy to report that it was a very positive one. The prose flows smoothly and I soon found myself drawn into the story, quickly gaining an understanding of the setting and the main character, Adam.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Regency/Victorian Romance

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39287741-hart


Synopsis

A short story prequel to The Villain by Victoria Vale … offering the back story of the mysterious Earl of Hartmoor, Lord Adam Callahan. What led to his quest for revenge?

The blurb had me quite excited to read this but, urgh, in the end it was a DNF. I only struggled on as long as I did because it was a group buddy read.


Nothing, absolutely nothing, about this story every really engaged me, not the plot, the characters, the setting or the none existent romance. Nor did it ever truly feel historical at any point during the 50% or so I read. It did feel like a continual wash, rinse, repeat of the same thing though, blah, blah, bland. I actually fell asleep reading this, and not in the “because it was 3am and I couldn’t put it down” way


I struggled to buy into the heroine’s decision because she would have literally become a pariah, spurned by all of “polite society”. There would have been zero future for her, other than being spirited away and locked out of sight. Probably in a mental asylum. Nor did I particularly buy into the her teenage explorations either. There was a distinct lack of any emotion other than lust, and even that was lacklustre and barely convincing.


The only positive thing I can say is that the author’s voice was very pleasant and easy to read.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

egency/Victorian Romance

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37848155-the-villain


Synopsis

A short story prequel to The Villain by Victoria Vale … offering the back story of the mysterious Earl of Hartmoor, Lord Adam Callahan. What led to his quest for revenge?

REVIEW – Dark Fantasy Horror // Flame To Frost by Myra Danvers

Flame to Frost
(The Last Triton, #1)
by Myra Danvers

So this is book #1 and the original version of The Last Triton albeit one that has been polished to a good shine. However just to really confuse you, the author rewrote the story and released it a few years ago, beginning with Ravenous Innocence. This version, which is hugely different, was released because fans of the Lit€rotica version refused to be silenced 😂.


I’m glad I read the rewritten version first because whilst this was a fast paced and entertaining read, it didn’t have the lushness, the incredible world building, the powerful emotions that I found in those books. It was still a gripping tale, more savage in feel with a plot that I would describe as dark romance with elements of fantasy. The pace is much faster, so is great for those who are impatient readers, and contained more erotic elements.


The great thing with this release is that you have a choice of this faster moving, darker, grittier story or the more complex and detailed fantasy based books of the Triton Evolution series.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Fantasy Romance

Goodreads
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58267710-flame-to-frost

Synopsis

Sheltered in the lap of luxury, Mila is eighteen when her world dissolves in flames around her. War. A utopia swallowed in a single night.

Orphaned and alone, terrified of being captured, Mila flees the conquerors who have come to claim. To snatch up those gifted few called priestess―Tritan women born with magic in their blood. They are healers. Peacekeepers bound and chained, used as living batteries, they become the fuel that feeds the Caledonian army and creates unstoppable warriors.


The elite. Warmongers. Dogs of the state, they are the perfect soldiers―everything a Tritan priestess isn’t, wielding power that does not belong to them. But Mila is an enigma. A priestess hidden from her own people, hers is a secret her father died to keep. One Mila will use to fight from the shadows, striking against the empire in any way she can. An army of one, with the power of many…


Until she is betrayed. Captured. Sold. To Captain Asher Rawlings. Captor. Villain. Elite. Even without a priestess of his own, Asher’s power lashes at her senses. Dark flames lapping at her nape, whispering of untapped potential Mila didn’t think possible.

Helpless, subject to Asher’s every whim, Mila is made to obey his every sordid command. Left with nothing but her secret. That she is a Tritan priestess―the one thing he needs to seize a legendary power that could tip the scales of the war and ensure an everlasting Caledonian rule.


Now Mila must navigate a world of villains and political conspiracy, endure anything Asher throws her way, and above all else… never reveal what she is.


The Last Tritan is perfect for fans of the Grishaverse. Those who fell completely in love with the Darkling―a smoldering villain we wanted to see win…

Summer Photograph Scavenger Hunt

Today is link up day with the other bloggers taking part in this summer’s scavenger hunt. The hunt is hosted by Patio Postcards – do pop along and say hello! The hunt runs from the 1st of June to the 30th September, so there is still plenty of time to join in if you wish to.

I made a start on the list immediately, as hubby and I had a few days away in Gloucestershire at the start of June. I got #7 What’s in Bloom, #8 Window Views, #9 Something Older Than You, #10 A Delivery Van Making The Deliveries and #19 Steps But Who’s Counting?

I didn’t seem to get anymore taken until it came to #12 Something That Is Cause For Celebration, because the 24th saw me not only celebrating my birthday but also celebrating a promotion at work.

  1. A Breakfast of Champions
  2. Favourite Time of Day
  3. Something To Represent Home But Not The Building
  4. Head In The Clouds; shapes or interesting patterns
  5. The Art Of The Fold
  6. Something That Makes You Laugh or Happy
  7. What’s In Bloom
  8. Window Views
  9. Something Older Than You
  10. The Delivery Van/Truck Making The Deliveries
  11. The Shape of Round/Circular
  12. Something That Is Cause For Celebration
  13. Your Marie Kondo Moment – Or Not
  14. Inside Your Fridge Or Cupboard
  15. Your Best Doodle Art (not public graffiti)
  16. A Guilty Pleasure; Something That Recharges You
  17. An Exit
  18. Upside Down, Right Side Up
  19. Steps, But Who’s Counting
  20. Decades Of Sharing; find something in your home that is from the 70’s or 80’s or 90’s or 00’s

So only 5 so far but I don’t want to rush into things! There are quite a few that I could tick off the list but I am waiting to see if any better opportunities arise before the end of September. Happy hunting!

REVIEW – Epic Fantasy // Shadow Lands by K.F. Breene

Shadow Lands
The Warrior Chronicles #3
by K.F. Breene

Back in the day, the men made the law for their family. Is it so wrong that women have a defense?”
Ruisa shifted, sticking out one hip and adopting an expression Marc had already come to realize was stubbornness.
“You can use swords and knives and muscles, and we’re supposed to… what, be totally fine in our vulnerability? We aren’t allowed to look after ourselves because we have vaginas, is that it?”

Marc winced at the word—female anatomy was still mostly foreign to him.
Even the words embarrassed him.

God I love this series. I really love Shanti, I totally love Cayan and I absolutely love Marc, Leilius and the rest of the Honor Guard. I massively have a soft spot for Marc. These characters have become real people to me, from the slightly mad Burson, to the soft-centred Rohnan and the take no $**! Sanders. Even some of the animals wove their way into my heart. This is one of those books that you want everyone you know to read, just so you can fan girl and sigh over it endlessly with someone who loved it just as much as you.



The whole story is rife with humour from the gentlest of touches to the most cutting sarcasm, yet at the same time it has a well paced plot, amazing world building, a cracking story and captivating writing. As soon as I finished this I wanted to immediately jump into book 4, even though I have a TBR of already owned books longer than my arm. Shanti and Cayan’s journey to the Shadow Lands gave me all the feels, it smashed my emotions and left me with a huge book hangover. This took me back to my days of reading David EddingsMercedes LackeyKatharine KerrAndre Norton and Melanie Rawn but with more sarcasm.



And have I said yet just how much I loved this or how much you need to read? After you’ve read Books #1 and #2 of course.

Sanders glanced at Marc, red-faced and looking at the ground.
The youth said, “S’am always jumps out at us. If you don’t strike first, you get punched really hard.”
“And the running?” Sanders asked as he checked his weapons.
Marc shrugged. “I was always too slow to get her, so rather than getting thumped after I struck out, I ran.”
“Ruisa got the other one.” Tobias threw her a proud wink. “Who says girls are only for cooking?”
“Not me. She’s a terrible cook,” Marc mumbled. Ruisa shoved him.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Fantasy Adventure

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25617383-shadow-lands

Synopsis
***Book three in the bestselling series.***

In order to finally claim her title of Chosen and lead the Shadow People out of the Land of Mist, Shanti must make it through a century’s old system to test her battle awareness, her fighting skill, and her ability to stay alive. She’s about to enter The Trials, and she must do it alone.

Separated from Shanti on a dangerous island, Cayan must learn to use his mental skill while keeping his men safe from the people set out to kill them. But as more Inkna and Graygual flood the island, Cayan hears of a sinister force deep in the woods, rigging The Trials and killing any who venture too close.

It is now a race against time. The battle to become the Chosen has begun, and the victor is anything but decided.