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Release Day Blitz: Dark Days – Semester 1 by Liz Meldon

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Title: Dark Days: Semester 1

Author: Liz Meldon

Genre: Enemies-to-Lovers Paranormal Romance

Release Day: December 6th, 2018

Dark Days Semester 1 Cover

Blurb

A vampire desperate to escape his past. A wolf shifter determined to protect her future.

A killer on the loose.

One year ago, wolf shifter Emma accepted her dream job teaching PE at a Norwegian international school, finally freeing herself from her mother’s incessant matchmaking. As the alpha’s heir, walking away from her pack, from her obligations—potentially even her fated mate—weighed heavy on her heart. But deep down, she knew it was the right decision.

Unfortunately, her sacrifice may have been for nothing—because the new history teacher has fangs.

With a reputation for kidnapping and selling shifters to research labs, a vampire is the last thing Emma needs in her life, but she refuses to be intimidated. This is her territory and she’s not going anywhere, so that grumpy, gorgeous vampire can suck it.

Forced together at a prestigious boarding school, two supernatural enemies are torn between ripping each other’s clothes off…

And ripping each other apart.

Eager for a fresh start, vampire Calder accepts an invitation to teach history at a private school above the Arctic Circle. Its remote location appeals to his sensibilities, and years of practice have taught him how to charm his human colleagues, but a certain gym teacher is seriously trying his last nerve.

All Calder wants to do is teach, so if the strikingly beautiful shifter refuses to see him as anything but the big bad vampire, perhaps he ought to lean into the part and really give her a show.

As summer turns to winter, humans disappear from nearby villages, gone without a trace and presumed missing—or worse.

Only one thing is certain: there are dark days ahead.

Even for creatures of the night.

Dark Days is a standalone enemies-to-lovers paranormal romance duet. While Book 1 has a cliffhanger, all will be resolved with a supernatural happily-ever-after in Book 2.

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Excerpt

My least favorite staff member had been assigned as a floater, helping wherever he could. Calder had shown up this afternoon the most dressed-down I had ever seen him, sporting a pair of dark jeans and a plain white T-shirt, just fitted enough to contour the muscular outline of his figure. I blamed Casual Friday, the last day of our homecoming spirit week, which had also included such hits as Crazy Hair Day, Crazy Hat Day—the works.

Predictably, there had been a squabble over where the vampire would be placed, groups of teenage girls bickering with one another until Calder graciously offered to share his time between everyone. I’d just rolled my eyes and done my best to ignore him, but he was kind of difficult to ignore with all that muscle normally hidden beneath a three-piece tweed suit on display.

I couldn’t blame the girls for fighting over him, either. The guy was gorgeous. They just didn’t know he was a vampiric ass beneath that shiny, hunky veneer.

After giving my precious gymnasium a onceover, the transformation for the upcoming dance making my inner wolf grumble, I folded the sheet of paper in half again and made my way to the far back corner, toward the door that would open to a hallway, my hallway, at the end of which sat my office. Hopefully the internet would have a suggestion or two for “cooler”, more “authentic”, on-theme drink names to appease the senior class president.

Never mind that she and the student council had come up with these ones in the first place.

One of the major items out of place during the prep stages were the chairs. Stacked some fifteen high, they sat bunched together in the back corner, and a crew of seniors had been moving them into the gym all afternoon, lugging the large black and gold chairs up from the storage room one or two at a time. As I neared the towers, my first thought was that they were stacked too high—that it wasn’t safe.

A suspicion proven correct mere moments later when someone on the other side of the chair wall tripped, their shoes squeaking out a familiar cry, followed by the clunk of chairs colliding with chairs. The row to my immediate left teetered, stacked too precariously tall, and I staggered back, tensed, waiting to catch the damn things, then pretend it had hurt me to do so.

Only the stack never fell.

Because some gorgeous vampire dick stopped it.

Calder appeared out of nowhere, his back to the stack, catching and righting it again in the span of about five seconds. It was a risk, using his speed around all these humans, but the music faintly whumping from the AV club’s speakers carried on, as did the chatter, the clatter of furniture, like nothing had ever happened.

“You okay?” I called, Calder and I no more than a foot apart, my heart in my throat as he stared me down, for once neither smarmy nor smirking.

“Yeah, I’m good,” the culprit on the other side called back, and I caught his shadow moving beneath the chair legs, marching back and forth, walking it off. “Tripped over my own feet.”

“These are stacked too high,” I said, still holding Calder’s gaze, unable to tear myself away, my stomach looping. “Cut them down by half so they don’t fall on someone.”

“Yes, Miss Kingsley.”

Calder smelled earthy today. Sandalwood. Oakmoss. Musk. My cheeks peppered with heat the longer I breathed him in, and when he eased away from the tower of chairs, I took a sizeable step back, crinkling the paper in my hand.

“I could have caught that,” I muttered, then ducked my head down and made a beeline for the nearby door. The metal handle squeaked when I gripped it, but the brightly lit corridor on the other side was mercifully silent. As soon as the door closed, the chaos outside disappeared. His scent vanished. Smoothing a hand over my loose waves, I dragged in a deep breath, then exhaled it slowly, making my way by the trio of closed, locked grey doors, beyond which was all my equipment. Balls. Netting. Rackets. The final door, way at the end of the hall, offered me guaranteed sanctuary, a private place to quiet my hammering heart.

The handle squeaked again, and I whirled around at the sound. Calder stalked in, letting the door slam shut behind him, and I turned away, unable to withstand that dark, brooding look for a second longer than necessary. If he wanted a proper thank-you for doing something I honestly could have done myself, he’d be waiting a long time.

I hadn’t made it more than three steps closer to my office before his hand snapped around my elbow, and my inner wolf snarled when he yanked me back and shoved me against the wall. Hackles up, my lips peeled back as the crumpled paper fluttered to the ground, forgotten at our feet. Calder caged me in with a hand on either side of my shoulders, his face ducking down to meet my eyeline…

Buy Links
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2KYteg1

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Author Bio

Liz is a Canadian author who grew up in the Middle East. She has a degree in Bioarchaeology from Western University, and when she isn’t writing about her own snarky characters, she is reading about other people’s snarky characters, babying her herb garden, loitering on social media, or taking care of her furbabies.

Liz dabbles in both paranormal and contemporary erotic romance. Her paranormals are usually dark and angsty, and her contemporaries are stress-free smutfests, but you’ll find both full of feels. Most of all, she loves writing realistic characters in fantastical settings.

Author LinksWebsite | BookBub | Booksprout | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest | Amazon | Newsletter

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Book Review: Quelling (The Purification Era, Book 2) by Angie Grigaliunas

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, Angie Grigaliunas, for an honest review.  

Genre: YA

Plot: For years, Rabreah has longed to overthrow the power-abusing Hulcondans who control her city. Yet in the wake of an unauthorized rebel attack, Lord Masrekah takes over the hunt for the“terrorists” – and it’s only a matter of time until he figures out her secrets.If he hasn’t already. Resistance leader Sorek’s return is a welcome sight, but his easy infiltration of the enemy kindles Rabreah’s suspicion of where exactly his loyalties lie – and threatens her growing feelings for him.

Unaware of her sister’s double life, Ariliah continues to support the Hulcondans. But as the city spirals into violence, everything she’s ever believed starts to unravel. Afraid to confront her doubts, she clings to her splintering trust and a dangerous new connection with Lord Masrekah.

Yet as the Hulcondans bear down on the resistance and its allies, the truth becomes clear: there aren’t just two sides, the greatest enemies lurk inside the city, and even the most faithful supporter has a breaking point.

Opinion:

*Soft, yet dramatic, whimpering through an endless stream of tears*

*Incessant poking of arms and legs to check if I’m real*

*Attempts at forming words that come out as incoherent mumblings and squeaks*

This series will be the end of me.

The “terrorists” continue to move against the Hulcondan’s and to voice their propaganda by way of posters, attacks, and the most recent attempted murders of one of their most prominent Lords. But with the threats against the city showing no means of slowing, Lord Siserah decides to step aside and let decisions be made by the ruthless and brutal Lord Masrekah. With each citizen under close surveillance and forced to travel with an escort to their assignments and homes, fear is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. For Ariliah, the fear is that the Itzalin monsters will breach the wall to the city and destroy everything she loves. It is the fear of her abusive mother and the fear that the Hulcondans, who she trusts with her life, will parish trying to protect the citizens. But for Rabreah, it is a different form of fear entirely. Staying undetected as a rebel becomes increasingly difficult for Rabreah and her allies, especially when their leader, Sorek, returns to the city posing as a Hulcondan in order to get close to his enemy. Rabreah knows she must trust her leader with her life, even when her feelings for him start to change, but her distrust of men is always in the back of her mind. The truth of what they were taught as children to be right and wrong starts to blur for both of Ariliah and Rabreah, and they are forced to choose which side they want to be on when chaos hits.  

(Click here for my review of book one, Sowing, if you need a refresher haven’t read it)

*Sigh*…where to begin.

I was an Alpha and Beta reader for Angie for the second book in this amazing series, so this is my third time reading Quelling. As this is obviously the final edit, there were a few additions and changes from the copies that I read, but they only added to the splendor that these books possess.

I cannot stress enough how AMAZING this series is.

Angie has this irritating knack for ripping my soul into her characters, making me either trust them or hate them, and then completely twisting my feelings into something that I can barely grasp or fathom. I am a fiercely loyal person by nature, and Angie has made me overly protective of these characters and their lives. I feel every bit of anger and defiance that Rabreah possesses, and every act of pure innocence and uninhibited trust that Ariliah gives to those around her. Angie has put a mirror up to every woman in the world, sliced their beings into two, and thrown them into these fierce and brilliant female characters.

It is taking only the laws of physics to keep me from reaching through these pages and maiming anyone who tries to hurt these girls.

But Rabreah and Ariliah aren’t the only amazing characters in this series. The reader is introduced to several other members of the rebellion that each have heart wrenching and sorrowful stories. As Rabreah begins to meet more rebel members, she is introduced to an array of people with different jobs and backgrounds. This book holds countless eye-opening moments for Rabreah where her character is forced to question what she has been taught with what she can actually see. But of course, one of the most prominent rebel members is their fearless leader, Sorek.

Sorek returns as a Hulcondan in order to remain close to his enemy, and to act as a VERY convincing spy. Not only does this put Sorek RIGHT next to the frightening Lord Masrekah, but it tests the trust of Rabreah as she watches him immerse himself in his performance. Sorek is the epitome of a strong, upstanding and fearless male character. As the story went on I couldn’t help but love and adore him, as I think most of us will or have ended up doing. His tenderness and respect for Rabreah leaves me happily broken and weapy, and the ending to this book just about ripped my heart from my chest. In a good way.

Now on the other side of the fence we have the sweet and delicate Ariliah. Book two is where Ariliah shines, and where readers will REALLY begin to latch onto her. In Sowing Ariliah was a very timid girl who trusted and obeyed the hulcondan’s without question, never stood up for herself, and who seemed to be a shadow of who she could be. But in Quelling, she transforms into a woman who can and will stand up for herself. She is the little sister that we have always wanted, and you can’t help but want to standby her side and root her on.

But what I really can’t get over with this book, is that Angie has done the unthinkable.

She has made me question ALL of my previous opinions of this series,made me rethink one or two of my morals and beliefs, and even lessened a slight part of the man hater buried DEEP in my soul.

Brace yourselves.

I have a SLIGHT liking towards Masrekah now.

So it turns out that this horrible, ruthless, disgusting pig of a man just MIGHT not be the evil scum that he was perceived to be. Sneaky Angie, very sneaky. Lord Masrekah, to my utter shock, has become somewhat of a human being in book two. He has begun to show an interest in Ariliah, and even goes as far as to act almost protective over her but without making it seem beyond creepy…?! Trust me when I say, I am shocked at my changed feelings.Mostly because it took me three times of reading Quelling to have even ONE positive thought toward this guy.  But to make things stranger, I even sort of see the appeal of him now.

You know, like how a really attractive serial killer could be somewhat appealing. -_-

Characters aside, the overall story building in this series is really remarkable. These books keep me tense and hooked the entire time. It feels almost PAINFUL to put these books down and go to work! The countless attacks and threats, the gruesome moments, the literal “what in the actual f**k” moments in Quelling are what really put this series over the edge from great to AMAZING. There is SO much going on in this book and I can’t utter one word of it without revealing everything! This is a series that will force the reader to THINK and QUESTION their own feelings. I am blown away with the detail the Angie puts forth in her writing and the cruel yet beautiful world that she has created.

This is not a request for you to read this series.

This is a demand. Do it. You WILL NOT be disappointed.

 

5-stars

 

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Book Review: Joshua and the Shadow of Death (Berserker Series, Book 1) by Gary McPherson

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Amazon.com – Joshua and the Shadow of Death (Berserker Series, Book 1) by Gary McPherson

Barnesandnoble.com – Joshua and the Shadow of Death (Berserker Series, Book 1) by Gary McPherson

Goodreads.com – Joshua and the Shadow of Death (Berserker Series, Book 1) by Gary McPherson

Bookdepository.com – Joshua and the Shadow of Death (Berserker Series, Book 1) by Gary McPherson

Disclaimer: I was sent an ARC copy of this book by JKS Communications on behalf of the author, for an honest review.

Genre: Fiction/Crime Thriller/Suspense/Mystery

Plot: “I never thought my life would turn out like this. My best friend Richard Brown is dead. Parts of his brain still paint the wall where he shot himself. Eighteen years ago, he and Barbara entrusted me with curing their adopted son, Harold. I was so sure of myself. After all, I had cured his half-brother at the orphanage. I thought I knew what I was doing, but now I’m not sure of anything.

Richard left me a note telling me to help Harold find the men responsible. Richard claims if we fail to solve his suicide that his company and everyone working there will be lost. What does that mean, and does it matter? How can I help? I am a psychiatrist, not a detective. If I fail, what will become of Barbara? Will Harold’s grief unleash the beast living inside him? The berserker is controlled, but he is not contained.”

Join childhood development psychiatrist Doctor Joshua Zeev as he attempts to find the answers to his best friend’s death and help the family through their grief. Can Joshua survive his insufficiencies? Does Maria’s patient love give him the focus that he needs to discover the truth, or will she be a distraction? Does his challenge of a lifetime, bring answers and closure, or even more perilous dangers?

Opinion:

A suspenseful thriller JUST in time for the holiday season!

Put on those trench coats and grab those magnifying glasses boys and girls, there’s a conspiracy afoot!

Joshua has spent many diligent years working with countless young boys at an orphanage in North Carolina. Two of his most memorable cases were that of two half brothers who were both left at an orphanage by their mother. Both boys were diagnosed by Joshua with “Berserker Syndrome”, a condition that makes the person fly into a blind rage so bizarre that it can be described as being possessed. After curing the youngest of the brothers, Bill, Joshua is enlisted by the adoptive parents of the oldest boy, Harold, in hopes that he may also be cured. Years later in California, Harold is a grown man and Joshua is still living with the family and working with Harold on his blind rage. But when the sudden suicide of Harold’s father Richard Brown occurs, Joshua’s concern for the young man is at an all time high. As he tries to find the reason for his friend’s sudden death, while also keeping Harold under control, Joshua finds himself with more questions than answers.

This story has just about everything I could ask for in a suspense thriller; a man with a dangerous blind rage, blackmail, countless deaths, and even a little bit of romance. Did somebody say swoon?! Though I was expecting a story that focused on the slightly disturbed inner workings of a young man who starts beating people to a pulp out of nowhere; I was instead welcomed with a mystery on the suicide of a man who ran a very profitable weapons company. Though I am not upset about this change of events, I must say that I feel slightly derailed from what I was expecting of this story.

I was hoping to have a better understanding of this “berserker syndrome”, which the reader is introduced to right away at the beginning of the story. The reader is taken through a part of Harold’s life as a young boy when Joshua is first treating him for his condition, and the author paints a nice picture of how little Harold can control his rages. But we are fast-forwarded years later to when Harold is a grown man, and the story turns into more of a “who-done-it” rather than focusing on Harold and his condition. It feels like this initial idea for the book to be based more on the psychiatric and mental side of the experiences of this family was thrown by the waste side a little. I wish it would have had bigger role in the overall telling of this story, instead of just going right into being a search to find out the reason for Richard brown’s suicide. I felt like I didn’t get an in-depth look into Harold as much as I would have liked, which in turn made it harder for me to connect with his character.

Our other main character in this story is Joshua, a psychiatrist who specializes in child development and who had coined “berserker syndrome”. I found that Joshua’s character could have also been given a little more depth and attention. Many times, I found myself slightly irritated with the comments he would make about suicide or other observations. He didn’t come across as the intelligent and worldly man that I think the author was trying to mold him to be. Instead, I found him to be a little dim and overly simplistic in the way he thought and spoke. There were a few examples of Joshua and other characters emotions being TOLD to the reader, rather than SHOWN. A book can tell me someone is sad, but I won’t believe it until I see the evidence backed by the actions of the character.

Characters aside, the overall story has an interesting and thoughtful plot. The Brown family runs a very successful weapons company. Now, I think this may be something to do with nuclear weapons, but I am not very clear on that. Anyways. One day Richard Brown shoots himself in the head in his office in front of Harold (super casual), which commences the true question of the story: WHY?! This takes the reader on a hunt to find the cause of Richard’s suicide, which eventually leads to a bigger scandal. Now I don’t want to give anything away, but BE WARNED that this book will reference some not so pleasant things. Nothing graphic, so don’t worry. I found the journey to the truth in this tale to be likable, but at times a bit too wordy. There was a lot of dialogue that wasn’t completely necessary, but I think was used to give the reader a deeper connection to the characters. Unfortunately, it didn’t for me and I just ended up skimming through those parts.

I think Joshua and the Shadow of Death was an entertaining and different read but didn’t quite hit the mark for me in terms of a deep connection and concern for the characters. I think the plot definitely makes it a great book that had me yearning for what really happened, and I found that I rather enjoyed that aspect of the book. I think the writing and character development can use a little work, but it is still very easy to read and enjoy.

3-stars

 

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Book Review: The Myth Seeker by Cory Barclay

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Goodreads.com – The Myth Seeker by Cory Barclay

Amazon.com – The Myth Seeker by Cory Barclay

Disclaimer: I was sent an ARC copy of this book by the author, Cory Barclay, for an honest review

Genre: Fiction/Urban Fantasy

Plot: A banshee who just wants to sing.
A leprechaun with a gambling problem.
A sex-addicted succubus in recovery.
Vampires who want a sunny day at the beach.
And then there’s Steve, the regular Joe who inadvertently brought these flawed mythical beings to our world. But he has no idea how he did it, which is a problem, because it’s his job to bring them home.
All this responsibility is putting a serious damper on Steve’s directionless lifestyle. Then he finds out a dark force is trying to kill him and his friends. And he might be falling in love with one of his charges…
Steve realizes he must get his act together, before it’s too late…

Opinion: If you have been keeping up with my reviews lately, you will know that I am a big fan of Cory Barclay’s Of Witches and Werewolves series. It had grabbed my attention with its imaginative story that is based loosely on true events, the wonderful character and story building, and Cory’s ability to write in a way that transports the reader back in time.

So naturally, when Cory asked me to read and review his newest story The Myth Seeker, I jumped at the chance. I love witnessing an author I enjoy trying something new and stepping out of their writing “norm”, and this new urban fantasy sounded really promising. Unfortunately, this just really didn’t hit the mark for me and I am left feeling a little disappointed and confused.

Steve Remington is trying desperately to make it in the music world and to hold on to his sobriety, just one day at a time. While at his father’s funeral Steve comes across a young girl named Annabel playing a guitar against a headstone, and offers his services to help her make a record. But little do Annabel and Steve know that their worlds have changed forever. Soon strange things begin to happen every time Annabel sings, and even stranger characters begin to pop up in Steve’s life. Leprechauns, angels, vampires, druids are suddenly everywhere, and Steve seems to be at the epicenter of the chaos.

As I had said above, I was really looking forward to reading this story. I love ANYTHING Fantasy, especially when it involves such an array of mythical creatures and magic. I am very fond of Cory Barclay’s writing style in the Of Witches and Werewolves series, as well as his ability to connect the characters and the reader so easily. I have found that this author writes lengthy stories that build a fantastic plot and world, but doesn’t overdo it with giving the reader too much information and “fluff”. His characters are always quirky and somewhat flawed, but feel very real and important to the reader. Not only do I always stay completely glued to his stories, but I often find myself not expecting the ending or what will happen next.

When it comes to The Myth Seeker however, I feel like it is lacking in a lot of those qualities that I enjoy from this author. Though the idea for this story is both thoughtful and intriguing, I personally feel like it missed the mark. This story is an urban fantasy set in present times in Southern California, and combines the world that we know with another mythical plane/realm/world. I felt that this movement from Cory writing historical fictions set in the 16th century to present, changed his writing style to something that felt more forced than natural. The writing felt too wordy at times and focused on one moment or scene for way too long, which in turn made it seem like a lot was being repeated. It felt a bit too wordy during many of the dialogues, and took away from the overall story and what was happening. It seems like a lot of useless “fluff” was put in to fill up space when it came to conversation between characters, or our main character observing or describing something. I would have preferred more story building rather than reading about a lot of things that felt unnecessary, in my opinion.

I also had a hard time connecting with any of the characters. By the end of the story I found Steve to be pretentious, arrogant, overly crude and honestly…he just kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I was a little turned off by the overuse of crudeness and excessive cussing by him. DON’T GET ME WRONG. I cuss like a sailor, and I understand he’s a macho kind of character. But when it comes to writing, I think there should be a distinction between the character being cruder and the entire story adopting that style. I think that an author using more raunchy ways of writing takes away from their writing skills and the story, and it makes it look like that they don’t have the ability to write in a more sophisticated way. Which I KNOW to be untrue regarding Cory Barclay, because I have seen proof of his amazing writing.

The character of Annabel also threw me for a bit of a loop. She spoke in a very formal way that was meant to make her look worldly and to back the notion that her parents (who are vampires) are from a VERY long time ago. All fine and dandy. But for some reason, the way she “spoke” kept making me visualize a pre-teen rather than a young adult. Her character came off as very young and naïve, and even Dale and Steve would speak to her like she was a young child. So obviously when the romance between Steve and Annabel eventually arouse, I was more than a little taken aback and confused. Because of my disconnect for these characters, I didn’t find myself caring about what happened to them.

I think because of those issues that I had while reading, it took away from my appreciation from this story. I found myself predicting the ending and speed-reading through because of the little things that were throwing me off. I think Cory had the right idea for this story, but that it could have been shaped a little better. I am really upset that I wasn’t as enthralled with this story as I was with his other series, but I have confidence in Cory’s writing that he will produce countless enjoyable and interesting stories in the future.

2-5-stars

 

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Book Review: Dead Dog (Zombie Dog Series, Book 2) by Doug Goodman

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Amazon.com – Dead Dog (Zombie Dog Series, Book 2) by Doug Goodman

Goodreads.com – Dead Dog (zombie Dog Series, Book 2) by Doug Goodman

Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this book by the author, Doug Goodman, for an honest review

Genre: Fiction/Horror/Suspense

Plot: He couldn’t run anymore. He was just too tired. And the undead were getting closer. He wondered how long he could survive in the desert heat? His only hope for being found was a woman from halfway across the country and her uniquely talented dog, Murder.

For Angie Graves, hunting the dead was nothing new. She’d hunted them from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the bayous of Houston. But this vast national park the size of Rhode Island? The task seemed impossible. The scents were vanishing. Could Murder find the undead in time? Could she trust her dog?

Opinion:

Trust your dog. Trust your dog. Trust your dog. But never trust a zombie.”

Angie Graves, The Zombie Dog’s Handbook

These isn’t your regular zombie story.

It was in Colorado that Angie first came across a zombie when she was working on a case with one of her Cadaver Dogs, a dog that finds corpses. Nothing could have been more disturbing and grotesque to find that giant wasps had embedded themselves into the skulls of humans, in order to feed on other humans and reproduce. But after a dangerous search in the Colorado wildfires ended in the retrieval of a young girl, the services of Angie and her zombie tracking dog Murder are in high demand. With the outbreak of zombies in Harris county making Houston “Ground Zero”, Angie and her faithful dog are enlisted to help Harris County Wasp Control Unit in eradicating the threat. But a new group called the Missing Lone Stars who have come to Houston in order to help the zombie problem, succeed more in making a spectacle of it and Angie’s work. To make matters worse, a young park ranger frantically comes to Angie in need of dire assistance. He claims that a zombie is in the Big Bend National Park, though it seems impossible that one would have made it so far. But when a young hiker’s life is on the line in Big Bend, Angie makes the decision to change course. Now Angie must depend on Murder to find the trail to the zombies, and to a hopefully still alive hiker.

BEFORE YOU GO ANY FURTHER, be sure to read my review for book of the Zombie Dog Series, Cadaver Dog.

It has been a LONG while since I have had the immense pleasure of following Angie and Murder into the depths of zombie hell! But might I say you guys, it is GOOD to be back. Now let’s first begin with why I love this author, Doug Goodman, so much. I first read Cadaver Dog, book one in this series, back in 2015. So naturally, when I picked up Dead Dog and was about to begin my glorious descent into horror oblivion, I suddenly panicked at the thought that I may need a refresher of what happened! But to my wondrous surprise that included a loud “HAH!” from me, Doug did what no author I had read before or after him had done before.

He put the most beautifully, depressing and haunting dedication I have ever seen.

And then, he put in a recap of book one. Without having to even be asked.

Doug, you amazing man!

So since I was able to jump right into this story, let’s do the same! Our main characters are of course Angie and Murder. Angie has most of her experience in training dogs to find dead bodies, a skill she uses to help find missing people or to solve cases for the police. She is a saucy young woman who has a love for dogs, and a tolerance for her fellow people. Murder is a dog Angie had found abandoned and half dead on the side of the road, having gained his name by being almost eaten alive by a murder of crows. After one of Angie’s cases leads to the discovery of zombies, her services swiftly change and she begins training Murder to track zombies.

But these zombies, are so NOT your regular zombies! Sure. They walk around like gurgling drunk college students, and yes, they like to eat other people. BUT. These zombies are controlled by giant wasps that have attached themselves to the back of their skulls. These things use their giant stingers, insert them in the back of the head to control the body, and just have them walking around finding other humans to gnaw on! To make it slightly more disgusting, inserting those stingers is ALSO how they reproduce

I’ll let that sink in.

Go ahead and vomit a little, I can wait.

Usually I would find myself a tad bored following characters into forests and foliage while they follow scents and tracks. But Dead Dog makes it impossible to get bored or lose interest. There is CONSTANT excitement, turmoil and danger around ever corner. I found myself in a constant state of anxiety while reading, because I was expecting a wasp stinger to come out of nowhere and attack someone’s face! Thankfully, I can report that a stinger to the face doesn’t happen…*gag*. But with a new adventure, comes new characters! A few saucy volunteers, some entertaining park rangers, and even a haughty woman hell-bent on ruining Angie’s career for no apparent reason! OH! Happy day. Our story really picks up when new main character, Tyler, arrives on Angie’s doorstep. Tyler is a young Park Ranger who thinks that zombies may have infiltrated the Big Bend National Park after stumbling upon a dog that was practically ripped apart. His character is quick and intuitive, and I find him to be a great match to work with Angie and Murder. He proves to be an extreme asset to their team when they go out searching for zombies in Big Bend, and he inspires some touching and special moments with our usually tough and closed-off Angie.

“The great big, blue, cloudless sky rained heat down on his isolated hell. He was ostracized by fate and nature’s cruel designs from the world. From technology. From his loved ones.”

But as always, the real gem of these stories by Doug  Goodman is the writing. This author has a true knack for writing a detailed story that the reader feels almost trapped in, but ensures the reader won’t feel confused or overwhelmed in by too much wording. There is one chapter in particular that comes to mind, and it is when our lost hiker is stumbling through Big Bend. He has been lost for days, is being followed by zombies, and quite frankly having one hell of a mind trip. It isn’t a long chapter, just about two pages of hallucinations and sadness. But after I read it I put my book down, blew out a deep breath, and just said “well s**t”.

“By nightfall, he had crossed a desert of sand and stone. He stopped to pull a needle out of his boot, but found that it had impaled his toe. He was bleeding now. He hoped that didn’t attract coyotes, but more importantly, he wanted to drink his blood. It glistened like water. He knew it was a messed up idea. But there it was. Drink your own blood.”

I obviously can’t give much more away about this fantastic follow up to Cadaver Dog, even though I could probably go on about it for another three pages. I am honored to be able to read and review these books for Doug, and to be able to share his amazing work with readers. I can only hope that there is plenty more of his writing in the future, and I cannot wait to get my hands on book three in this series. I HIGHLY recommend you guys try this series out. Even if the genre isn’t for you, the writing will hook you and make you obsessed. Trust me. I know these things.

5-stars

 

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Book Review: Kiss of the Royal by Lindsey Duga

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Entangled Publishing: Teen, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Teen/Fantasy

Plot: Princess Ivy has one goal—end the war against the Forces of Darkness.

Ivy’s magic is more powerful than any other Royal’s, but she needs a battle partner who can help her harness it. Prince Zach’s unparalleled skill with a sword should make them an unstoppable pair—if only they could agree on…well, just about anything.

But Ivy’s magic can only fully unlock with Zach’s help, and he’s not exactly cooperating.

Zach believes Ivy’s magic is dangerous. Ivy believes they’ll never win the war without it. Two warriors, one goal, and the fate of their world on the line. But the more they argue, the more they fall for each other. And only one of them can be right…

Opinion:

Goblins, dwarves, griffins, dragons, curses, witches, magic, Princes, Princesses, KISSES!

Oh my word, it MUST be another fairytale!

But NO! It isn’t! It’s BETTER than JUST another fairytale. This is the tale that puts all those other stories of fairies and….tales…to rest! ENOUGH of those sputtering damsels in distress. Poison apple this, lost slipper that! “But It can all be cured by TWU WUV’S FIRST KISS!”

LADIES! Get a HANDLE on yourselves!

HONESTLY!

By the seventh day of constant agony, I wished I hadn’t already killed the dwarf who cast this locking curse on me. I wanted the opportunity to kill him again. Slower this time.”

Ivy, Kiss of the Royal

In Ivy’s world, the ones with royal blood are the ones that fight on the front lines of battle. With the four kingdoms in a five-hundred-year battle against the Evil Queen and her dark forces, the need for royal warriors is in high demand. A partnership between a Prince and Princess is a force to be reckoned with, but the kiss that a Princess can bestow on a Prince is even stronger. Each kiss can heal a Prince of a curse put on them by a troll or dwarf, and it can also give the Princes the warrior power of ten men. The more pureblood a royal is, the stronger the kiss and magic. As Ivy is a direct descendant of the original Queen Myriana, her kisses are the most powerful. But with the death of her fifth Prince, Ivy must find another partner to go into battle with. Enter, Zach. Zach is unlike any Prince Ivy has ever met, and to say he is unorthodox is an understatement. Soon Zach and Ivy are given a dangerous task that holds every kingdom’s fate in their hands, but Zach refuses to kiss Ivy or cooperate with her in any way. With two very different outlooks, these two must come together to defeat a common enemy.

A prince that won’t kiss a princess?!? Color me SHOCKED and SPEECHLESS, and heavy on the sarcasm! 😉

Let’s just dive right in, shall we?

So where this story differs from our regularly scheduled fairytale programs, is that these Princes and Princesses are bred to be warriors. Literally. Princesses are sent to a place called Frieda to be paired with Princes and produce strong royals to be trained for war. Once a Prince or Princess has gone through training, they are bonded with a partner who matches their skillset or power. The more pureblood a royal is, the stronger they are. In this story, the Princesses are the real heroes. As the Princes charge into battle, the Princesses stay back an act as their eyes and ears; firing at anything that gets close to their Princes. If a prince goes down, their bonded Princess gives them a healing kiss and saves their lives. But these Princesses can kick ass too! They train just as hard as the Princes, and I love it!

Obviously, the main aspect of this story centers around kissing. When I started reading I kept thinking what a funny concept this was. For these Princesses to just be running around kissing Princes like it’s nothing? Oh, no big deal! But due to how these royals are raised, it isn’t a big deal. They believe in lust, but they don’t believe in love. They believe that love is a fantastical thought and idea that the “Romantica” created, and that there is no such thing. For these royals who put their lives on the line each day, kissing is what keeps them alive and fighting. It is a weapon, and that’s it.

But for Zach, that isn’t the case. Zach is a Saevallan Prince who travels to the Crown City of Myria with his Saevallan army to aid in the battle against the dark forces. He is rumored to be the best swordsman and fiercest warrior they have, which isn’t a lie. But Zach is unlike the rest of the royals. He was raised on the streets, didn’t acknowledge his royal blood until recently, and best of all…he was raised as a Romantica. DING DING DING. ROOOOMAANNNCEEE. So naturally the pairing between Ivy and Zach would be a formidable one, except for the part of Zach not wanting a partner. As a Romantica, Zach doesn’t agree with using the “kiss” as a weapon because it means something different to him. Which is true…but there is WAY more to it that I obviously can’t tell you.

As one could guess, a romance develops…but a difficult one at that! A boy who was raised on love and a girl who was raised to not even think it was real? Talk about complicated! As the two set out on their task, they encounter countless battles and dangers. Though I was a bit miffed about that ending, it wasn’t a complete issue for me. I wish the author would have wrapped everything up JUST a little better. I feel like I missed a ton of important moments between the ending of the story and the epilogue. I felt like this could have been elaborated on more because it left me feeling a bit rushed.

There is a ton of action in this story, a few close calls, countless arguments between Ivy and Zach, and a truly different outlook on the normal fairytale. These characters are developed in a way that showcases their fierceness, as well as their innocence and value. The reader is encased in a battle between doing what one is taught, and doing what one wants and feels. It is SUCH a different outlook and take on the “true loves kiss” idea and it is done PERFECTLY! I’m only wishing this was a ten part series…I want more, more, more!

When had I become someone who struggled with the difference between a kiss and a Kiss?”

Ivy, Kiss of the Royal

4-5-stars

 

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Book Review: The Prophecy (The Healer, Book 4) By. C.J. Anaya

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Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this book by the author, C.J. Anaya, for an honest review

Genre: Fiction/Romance/YA/Fantasy

Plot: Armed with memories of her past life and the identity of her true soul mate, Hope is bound and determined to fulfill her destiny and heal the veil…on her own terms, that is. Unfortunately, Hope’s inability to play by the rules causes a rift in the group and discord with Tie. Dark forces are at work fighting to tear them apart, while Victor, Ms. Mori, and Dr. Fairmont attempt to understand Tie’s role in saving the world.

Hope’s inability to sense the veil, Angie’s visions of loved one’s deaths, Kirby’s vulnerability, and an unwanted bond with a dangerous kami are certain to prevent her from ending the conflict once and for all. The group needs answers found in an ancient prophecy and written in a language few understand.

And they have no idea where it is…

And Amatsu’s servants are hunting them…

And the veil is failing…

Opinion:

It has finally come: the end of the road. The last crumb of the pie. The last of the Mohicans.

(This has nothing to do with the Mohicans).

After a long and emotional tug of war between soulmates, centuries, Gods, demons and amnesia; the Prophecy Series has come to an end.

But to be honest, I am left feeling pretty disappointed by this installment.

With every bit of knowledge from her past life, and the dangers in her present, Hope has finally reunited with her soulmate and begun the task of healing the veil. But nothing ever comes easy for Hope. With the Black Blossom binding her to the demon God Amatsu, she struggles to fight against her forced feelings for the God of the underworld and her true feelings for the God of Marriage, Tie. But with the bond between Hope and Amatsu only growing stronger, Hope and her friends rush to find the prophecy in hopes of learning the true translation. Only with the prophecy will Hope and Tie have a chance at healing the veil and saving the world, which means they must travel back to where it all started. In Kagami.

This is the fourth book in The Healer series, so check out my reviews for Book 1 – The Healer, Book 2 – The Black Blossom and Book 3 – The Grass Cutter Sword!

Let me begin by saying how much I enjoyed reading this series. The entire storyline is creative, well developed, and extremely addicting. The separation between past and present lives is so eloquently laid out, and the movement of the story between 1000 A.D. to the present gives this series an extra layer of WOW. I truly commend this author for creating such an exciting and detailed world for us readers. Even though Kagami was a dangerous place for Hope, I couldn’t help but want to be there with Musubi and Victor. This series gave a mix of history into this well created fantasy story, while also showcasing some brilliant girl power and complete badassery by our female characters. My weakness is a strong and capable woman who can do anything, so thank you to the author for…mostly doing that.

I do however, have a few qualms with the last installment of this story. First is with Mikomi/Hope when it comes to her being this strong and fierce female character. In her first life she was Mikomi, and she was a princess of the Kagami empire in 1000 A.D. who was the prophesized Healer meant to heal the veil. This character was beaten by her father, forced to be meek and obedient due to her culture, and given nothing in terms of choices for her future. But was this girl weak, HELL NO. She had strong morals and a wicked sense of what she wanted for herself. She did what she wanted, regardless of the consequences or what path was set out for her. So why, pray tell, does she become such a doe-eyed, man-needing, pre-teen as Hope? It broke my heart a little to see her become this childish version of herself that NEEDED Tie so badly that she became less independent, and more DEPENDENT. Tie’s wishy-washy behavior of “I’ll fight for you” and “I’ll let you go” was nauseating. If he goes, LET HIM GO. BYE!! Heal that damn veil on your own girl, you got this! I know it was love that conquers all, and that was one of the message from this story, but the Tie meltdowns were making me wish Hope would just finish it. THANKFULLY, Angie was my saving grace for a female who doesn’t need a man to do anything.

The only other issue I have with The Prophecy is the reason that it took me so long to get through the last book of The Healer series. I had a hard time with the characters transitioning from their lives in 1000 A.D., to their lives in present times. It wasn’t exactly the flashbacks from then and now, because those were constructed perfectly. It seemed as if the characters went from being these strong and mature people, to immature adolescents. In Hope and Angie’s case, I could understand them acting a bit younger due to them ACTUALLY being teenagers. They had only just remembered their previous lives, so naturally the culture now will have made them a bit more…innocent and childish? Sure, I can get on board with that. Makes sense. But WHY are Victor and Tie acting this way? THESE GUYS ARE GODS WHO HAVE LIVED FOR CENTURIES. They literally went from being MEN to BOYS. Why is Bishu the only character that has kept his eloquent form of speaking, and why is he the only one that still holds himself like he’s had years upon years of walking this earth? This made it incredibly hard for me to read this last book in the series. It made these characters feel so transparent and ridiculous, which is the exact opposite of the people I knew them to be. Needless to say, I am more than a little bummed out about how they turned out.

But with my complaining of characters aside, a review of this story as a whole is what I am really trying to get to. Hope finds herself bound to the demon God Amatsu, with his darkness only growing stronger inside of her. The true question of this book is this: Can Hope overcome this binding and fight for what she really wants? Because that is the REAL question in this entire series isn’t it?! Mikomi and Hope have been suppressed and forced to do so many things through their lives, except choose their own fate. So gold star for that! The real PEARL of this story is Amatsu though. Move over Musubi, Amatsu is my new male love for The Healer series. What can I say? I love a bad boy! I love a hated character, especially one engulfed in darkness and bad decisions! SWOON! Thankfully my boy finds himself a happy ending, though it was a bit unexpected.

Lastly, I would like to comment on the battles and the imagination behind the place that Kagami had turned into. These battles are EPIC and there are a TON of them. Someone is constantly trying to kill Hope and her friends, and I have to be honest, I was feeling it. Demon cat-like creatures coming from the underworld trying to maul them? Um hello, sign me up! We even get to meet Bishu, a demon who was a God once upon a time who lives as a hell cat, but has a heart of gold! Aw. The world of Kagami is where this story really excels though. The trek to Hope’s former home is a dangerous one, and the forest they travel through is crawling with all sorts of dangers. Every aspect of this land can kill you, and everything is alive. This makes for an AMAZING and EXCITING adventure.

All in all, I did really enjoy this series. I was pretty disappointed with this book in regards to the characters, but the story makes up for it. I read a few other reviews from other readers who DO NOT share my opinions on the characters, so keep that in mind. These are just my feelings and observations. This is still an amazing and creative series, and I think it is well-worth any readers time.

3-stars

 

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