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Forget Me Not
Belinda Boring
Artemis's Hunt
Lia Davis
Red Hot Obsessions
V.J. Chambers, Sky Corgen, Olivia Rigal, Molly McLain, Lacey Silks, Ember Casey, Daizie Draper, Blair Babylon, Clarissa Wild, J.C. Valentine
Almost Matched
Angela Orlowski-Peart
Snow White Sorrow
Cameron Jace
Learn To Love Me
Dave J. Ford, Simon-Marshall Jones, Sinead MacDughlas
John Carter of Mars, Vol. 6 (Barsoom, #11)
Edgar Rice Burroughs

Emlyn and the Gremlin

Emlyn and the Gremlin - Steff F. Kneff, Luke Spooner Emlyn and the Gremlin is an adorable book, just right for younger kids. I found it to be engaging and well-written. The illustrations are also gorgeous. At 9, my daughter is a little older than the target audience, but that wasn’t a deterrent at all. She read it on the way to gymnastics and enjoyed it enough to ask to read it again on the way home. She was intrigued by the concept of someone who lived underground without beautiful things to play with and wear – she made up a whole story about why the gremlin needed to come into Emlyn’s room to play with her pretties. Ultimately she decided that the gremlin was more likely a fairy or pixie. :-)

Note: I received a free ecopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Jewel Box

The Jewel Box - C. Michelle McCarty 3.5

Exodus 2022

Exodus 2022 - Kenneth G. Bennett Exodus 2022 is an atypical book choice for me – it has been a few years since I read much in the way of science fiction. I signed up for this review tour after a friend and fellow blogger told me she thought I would like the book. And she was right! I did enjoy the book tremendously. It just wasn’t exactly what I was expecting after reading the synopsis. I would term this book an eco-thriller as much as science fiction or anything else. And while I strive to be a friend of the earth – I recycle, don’t litter, and generally try to pay attention to things like household water and energy usage – I had the vague feeling that I was being scolded for being part of the human race while reading this book. For the most part, I was able to ignore the human-beings-are-destroying-the planet undertones and just enjoy the book. It is extremely well-written, with rich characters and vivid imagery. I give is a solid 4 out of 5 stars.

The story takes place in the near future, so there aren’t a lot of technological advances to try to wrap your brain around. The setting is primarily around the Puget Sound area in Washington State and the coastal waters of Alaska. Joe Stanton and his girlfriend Ella are happily vacationing when Joe starts having hallucinations about his dead daughter, Lorna Gwin. But Joe has never had a child. Joe isn’t the first person on the west coast to have these hallucinations; the others have all suffered mental breakdowns and died. Joe eventually hears a voice in his head, one that gives him directions to follow, and imparts specific knowledge to him. He is able to make contact with the consciousness, who leads Joe and Ella in a race against time to find a way to save his own life and to help intervene in the imminent ecological crisis.

The ending will likely surprise you. There are a lot of unanswered questions. (Trying to avoid spoilers here!)

In many ways, this is a classic tale of good-vs-evil. (Sheldon Beck, a former soldier who is now an unscrupulous government contractor, is a good foil for the Episcopalian priest. I absolutely hated him.) It is also a cautionary tale of human greed and lack of respect for our planet leading to an ecological disaster.

Will there be a sequel to this book? Should there be? While I would love to know what happens to everyone, both those who left and those who stayed, I have mixed emotions about the advisability of a sequel. I fear that it would be anti-climactic at best.

I received this book from Novel Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

Skin Deep

Skin Deep - T.G. Ayer I am a big fan of paranormal fantasy books, shapeshifter stories in particular. I am particularly fond of big cat shifters, so I was thrilled to pick up Ms Ayers’ Skin Deep.

The story revolves around Kailin Odel, a young Skin Walker (panther shifter) who is living in the human world after leaving her dysfunctional family. She works as a counselor at a drug rehab center, but her real calling is as a Wraith hunter. She is drawn into a complicated investigation after witnessing a flayed, dying shifter being thrown from a car.

This is a fast-paced, action packed story, with a little something for everyone - mystery, romance, angst, and even a little horror. It felt like a mystery/thriller with a paranormal overlay to me. There are several plot twists and concurrent story lines that keep the reader engaged. Ms Ayer has created an intriguing world, with complicated and refreshing characters; I was completely drawn in. I love the juxtaposition of the various supernatural beings living amongst, and even protecting, the completely oblivious humans!

There were two aspects of this book that I didn’t care for. First, I was a little put off by the torture, although I understand why it was included in the story. Second, I didn’t feel the reason given for Kailin’s mother abandoning the family when her children (especially Kailin) were so young was very plausible.

Overall, I really liked this book, and I can’t wait to dig into book 2 in the DarkWorld series. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Hollow's End

Hollow's End - Marianne Morea I really enjoyed this book. I found it to be well-written, and a great modern version of the legend of Sleepy Hollow. The story is actually written about the modern teenaged descendants of the original characters from the legend. I thought the author did an excellent job of making it relevant for todays young adult readers. She incorporated a fair amount of witchcraft - just enough of the paranormal to capture those readers who are fans of the current paranormal genre. I ended up feeling so badly for the teens who were caught up in events outside their own making; the simple fact that they were descendants was enough to doom them. I particularly hated what happened to Tyler; he wasn't particularly nice, but he didn't deserve to bear the full weight of the sins of his ancestor!

Baby

Baby - J.K. Accinni Baby is the first book in a six book sci-fi series. It is one of the more unusual books I have read in quite a while.

The book begins in 1929, with Netty, a young woman who had escaped from a brutal marriage to a violent man, hiding out on her deceased parents farm in rural New Jersey. She is in poor condition physically, not well-equipped to deal with her situation. She is drawn to the woods, where she meets Baby, an alien from the planet of Oolaha who has crash-landed on Earth. After Netty finds the severely injured Baby in a large cave, she takes him back to her cabin and nurses him back to health. In return, the Oolahan heals Netty as well - a process that initiates Netty's gradual transformation into an Elder. With Baby's help, Netty works the farm and turns it into a successful business. The following winter, Netty stumbles across a young man freezing to death in the woods. Dragging Wil back to her house, she restores him to health. Wil decides to stay on and becomes Netty's hired help. Baby reveals himself to Wil when he heals the broken leg of Wil's horse Maggie. Wil takes the news quite well, all things considered.

Eventually, Netty and Wil fall in love, although their relationship's progress is hindered by her physical changes as she becomes an Elder. It isn't until after Netty cures Wil of multiple rattlesnake bites, which initiates his own transformation into an Elder, that Netty is able to overcome her fears and Wil is able to fully accept their new reality. Some months later, Netty’s prosperous business attracts the unwelcome attention of her estranged husband. Violence ensues, and tragedy occurs, followed by revenge.

The end of the book was disconcerting to me, with a jump forward in time of about 50 years and ruthless revenge that included the deaths of innocent people. I thought the story would have been better without this. But overall, I enjoyed the book, and moved right on to Echo, book #2 in the series.

Valentina and The Haunted Mansion (Valentina's Spooky Adventures, #1)

Valentina and The Haunted Mansion (Valentina's Spooky Adventures, #1) - Majanka Verstraete Valentina and the Haunted Mansion is an adorable children's book. The story is engaging, and the illustrations are lovely.

Valentina and her family move into a big mansion, taking her away from her friends. They are vampires, but Valentina is like any other little girl - afraid of the unknown. Who knows what monsters are lurking in the big, scary mansion, just waiting to be mean to her? Her older brother teases her about it, and she throws a big tantrum. Her parents calm her down and suggest that she look for a room of her own. While she is exploring the mansion, she keeps seeing footprints and hearing noises - such as slamming doors. But no one is there! Eventually she finds a room that will be perfect for her...and comes face-to-face with a little boy ghost, who becomes her new friend.

My eight year old daughter also read this book, and she really liked it. She said she would give it four stars, and didn't think there was anything wrong with it at all.

I received an electronic ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Valentina and the Haunted Mansion

Valentina and the Haunted Mansion - Majanka Verstraete, Noelle Giffin Valentina and the Haunted Mansion is an adorable children's book. The story is engaging, and the illustrations are lovely.

Valentina and her family move into a big mansion, taking her away from her friends. They are vampires, but Valentina is like any other little girl - afraid of the unknown. Who knows what monsters are lurking in the big, scary mansion, just waiting to be mean to her? Her older brother teases her about it, and she throws a big tantrum. Her parents calm her down and suggest that she look for a room of her own. While she is exploring the mansion, she keeps seeing footprints and hearing noises - such as slamming doors. But no one is there! Eventually she finds a room that will be perfect for her...and comes face-to-face with a little boy ghost, who becomes her new friend.

My eight year old daughter also read this book, and she really liked it. She said she would give it four stars, and didn't think there was anything wrong with it at all.

I received an electronic ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Evil Among Us

Evil Among Us - J.K. Accinni Evil Among Us is the fifth book in this unique scifi dystopian series. It takes place almost completely inside the Hive, an underground sanctuary created by an alien being known as The Womb. A ragtag group of human survivors and the wildlife they managed to save (at the Womb's behest) are struggling to adjust to their new reality as they settle in to wait for the Earth's surface to be habitable again after a nuclear holocaust. They are led by Netty and Wil, two 'people' who were once humans but who were transformed into Elders by Baby, an alien who was sent to Earth in book one to perform an intervention - basically to eradicate human beings from the planet because of the wanton destruction they were causing, primarily the extinction of many forms of animal life. Netty, Wil and Baby are joined by Jose, Abby and Scotty, 3 young people who are also well on their way to becoming Elders, and Echo - the offspring of Baby.

This story takes so many twists and turns as it follows the trials and tribulations of the survivors. The reasons for many of the earlier events are explained, and most of the loose ends are tied up. And yet, questions remain. Who is The One, and what is his/her role ultimately going to be? Where does Susie, the 5 year old granddaughter of one of the survivors who was kidnapped by marauding humans, fit in? Will humans be allowed to regain control of the planet or will they be relegated to servant status, in favor of the animals?

You should definitely read books 1-4 in this series before attempting to delve into this one. But I promise, it will be worth your while. I personally can't wait to see how J.K. Accinni finishes the series in book 6 - The One.

Hive

Hive - J.K. Accinni Hive is the fourth book in the Species Intervention #6609 series. I received an electronic copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

As with the other books in the series, Hive takes up where the previous book ends. The group of people and wild animals are traveling from Florida to New Jersey, seeking refuge from the imminent apocalypse. Just before they reach New York City, word comes of the first bombing in Las Vegas. It all goes downhill from there. The group makes it to the Hive in the nick of time, where they must adjust to their new status as secondary citizens, whose only task is to care for the all-important wildlife. The humans on the outside that survive the bombings go through incredible horrors, as one would expect after a nuclear holocaust. Another villain appears on the scene, one that you will absolutely hate.

There are some clichéd moments – why would an intelligent woman with two granddaughters to protect allow a man they didn’t know to ride with them, for example. And this book also has several graphic, violent scenes… scenes that are difficult to read, but serve to ably illustrate the horrific times that any human survivors of a nuclear holocaust would be forced to endure. The book ends at a point where you just want to scream “NO – it can’t end here!”. I can’t wait to see what happens in book 5!

Armageddon Cometh

Armageddon Cometh - J.K. Accinni Armageddon Cometh is the third book in the Species Intervention #6609 series. I received an electronic copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

This book starts out where Echo, book 2, left off. Jose, Abby and Scotty are living in a mansion in Florida and struggling to come to terms with the changes their bodies are undergoing, while Echo is gathering a small pack of dogs under her wing, so to speak. Abby is visited surrepticiously by Netty and given a mission to complete – to liberate the wild animals from a local animal sanctuary and to transport them back to the Hive in New Jersey as soon as possible. The trio adds a few new people to their group – their yacht captain, Capt’n Cobby and his son Kane, their lawyer Peter, his girlfriend Ginger Mae and her daughter Daisy, Chloe, the young adopted daughter of the likely next president of the United States, and Kenya, a pregnant, spunky teenager from the animal sanctuary. There are romances along the way, and several well-deserved deaths as well. The book ends with the entire group on the yacht, and the reader is left wondering – who is The One, and why is he or she important? Will the group make it to the sanctuary of the Hive in time?

There are quite a few story lines in this book, and the author does a good job of bringing them all together. As in the previous books, there are some pretty graphic and violent scenes that I am not sure needed to be as detailed as they were, but they don’t detract from the overall quality of the book. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Echo

Echo - J.K. Accinni Echo is the second book in this series from author J.K. Accinni. It begins about 50 years after book one ends, in 2033. At that time, humans exist in a rather dystopian society, having turned virtually all control over to an uncaring big brotherish government. The story revolves around 3 young people, Jose, Abby and Scotty, and Echo – the offspring of Baby, who has been living a solitary existence in the Hive since her birth 100 years earlier. The youngsters all have sad backstories that shaped their lives. Eventually, a series of horrific and disturbing events take place that result in the three being orphaned and Echo taking up residence with them. Echo is an amazing creature, and she brings great riches to the three. They attract the attention of a psychopath, and end up moving to Florida to try to escape him. Echo, meanwhile, has a mysterious mission to complete…one that may end disastrously for humanity.

This book contains some graphic, violent scenes that are quite disturbing. But ultimately, the reader is left anticipating book three, Armageddon Cometh.