Sunday, February 23, 2014

Review: Sunkissed by Carys Jones

Title: Sunkissed
Author: Carys Jones
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal
Series: N/A

Paperback, 242 pages
Publication: October 23, 2013 by Kellan

Source: I receive a review copy form the author in exchange for a honest review.

Buy|eBook|Paperback |

Dawn Summers is dying. It’s 1853 and as the seventeen year old continues to fade away she has visions of the father she never knew, urging her to fight for her life.

In the small village of Fandova the only medical care is in the form of the mysterious Dr. Moralus who has a known penchant for bloodletting. Thomas, Dawn's fiancĂ©, is warned against inviting his intervention, but feels he has no choice, he pleads with the doctor to save Dawn’s life…whatever it takes.

Whatever it ‘takes’ has some consequences neither of them expected. Now, it’s a hunt to the death, with both Dawn and Thomas determined to win.

The year is 1853 and 17-year-old Dawn Summers is dying from the common cold/flu. Although, this is nothing new as many people and Dawn’s two other siblings have died because there wasn't an accessible doctor or medicine around.  But luckily or not so lucky Dr. Moralus the village recluse, a fairly new resident of Fandova is around this time, and Dawn’s Fiance Thomas is willing to brave the night to seek medical help from Dr. Moralus.  But the only way to help Dawn is to turn her into a vampire, like Dr. Moralus. 

I don’t really know what to make of Dawn, as the book is so short; it felt like I barely know anything about her. Sunkissed showed readers a glimpse of Dawn prior to her vampire transformation and after the transformation as she copes with what she had become. Dawn was afraid of losing her humanity and resorted to drinking blood from livestock and eventually black pudding (which I think is like congealed animal blood?) and as the book progressed we see her settled into her fate, accepting it and never once losing sight of who she is or her humanity. Then there is Thomas her Fiance who after Dawn’s transformation, decided he should share the same fate as her so that they may live together forever. But unlike Dawn, Thomas lost his humanity and became a monster. He thought of himself as better than all the humans and that they were nothing but food for the taking.

The first 1/3 of the book introduced us to the characters of the book and the rest of the story was more of a cat and mouse chase. Dawn couldn't live with what Thomas has become so she fled Fandova. The story then jumps to present day New York. For over a century Dawn had been on the run from Thomas, able to elude him with her special/unique ability (thanks to her father’s gene) as she works as a waitress in a hole in the wall diner. And like most stories, you can’t run from your past as it eventually catches up to you and in Dawn’s case…Thomas has been searching for her ever since she left him and has finally pinpointed her location on the east coast. 

Overall, Sunkissed was a good read but with some flaws. I didn't like how in the beginning of the story everyone (but Dawn’s mom) was blind to what Dr. Moralus was…everything about him screamed vampire. I was surprised no one accused him of being a vampire; I mean the dude only came out at night and he drained sick people’s blood! I also thought the writing could have been smoother and the formatting a bit better. Everything felt choppy or like it wasn't edited properly. The half of the book took place in 1853 Fandova and the other half present day New York. It would have been better if the first half was more condense, so that the main focus was on the confrontation between Dawn, Thomas and Dr. Moralus...because the plot felt rushed towards the last half of the book.  What I did enjoy was seeing the transformation of Dawn and Thomas’ characters and how much the two contrast one another. The ending was quite a surprised, which I must say I didn't see coming at all. I am intrigued to see what will happen next, as the book ended abruptly on a (somewhat) cliffhanger. I’d recommend Sunkissed to paranormal fans but with some reservation. It’s a good book like I said but not one I’d rush people to go read.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Review: Generation V by M.L. Brennan

Title: Generation V
Author: M.L. Brennan
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: American Vampire #1

Mass Market Paperback, 311 pages
Publication: May 7, 2013 by Roc

Source: Purchased for my own reading.

Buy|Amazon|Book Depo|

Reality Bites. 

Fortitude Scott’s life is a mess. A degree in film theory has left him with zero marketable skills, his job revolves around pouring coffee, his roommate hasn’t paid rent in four months, and he’s also a vampire. Well, sort of. He’s still mostly human. 

But when a new vampire comes into his family’s territory and young girls start going missing, Fort can’t ignore his heritage anymore. His mother and his older, stronger siblings think he’s crazy for wanting to get involved. So it’s up to Fort to take action, with the assistance of Suzume Hollis, a dangerous and sexy shape-shifter. Fort is determined to find a way to outsmart the deadly vamp, even if he isn’t quite sure how. 

But without having matured into full vampirehood and with Suzume ready to split if things get too risky, Fort’s rescue mission might just kill him.…

Fortitude A.K.A Fort isn’t your typical vampire. Well, he isn’t even considered a vampire yet, he’s somewhere between transitioning from a human to vampire. Fort is what you’d called an experimental baby. He was conceived from humans (hosts) that were drained to the point of death and filled back up with blood from Madeline’s blood (Fort’s mom). Fort’s life is pretty shitty. Fort graduated from college with a useless degree (Film Theory), he works in a dinky diner for minimum wage with crappy co-workers, and has a roommate that’s been leeching off of him for 4 months. When anyone thinks of Vampires, they’d think strong, beautiful, mysterious and lethal; Fort is the exact opposites of those terms. Fort pretty much doesn't know what to make of his life; he isn't successful like his two older siblings, Chivalry and Prudence. But when an Italian vampire comes to town and asks for hospitality from Madeline, girls turn up missing and dead. Fort is 99% sure that the new comer is responsible but his mom gave her word and won’t interfere nor will his siblings; who don’t understand why Fort cares so much for the missing girls….girls he doesn't even know. Fort may not know where he’s heading in life but he knows he needs to do something about the missing girls. Fort makes it his mission in rescuing the girls, even when he knows he’d likely die trying.

I've read many books with flawed characters but none like Fort. Well Fort isn't flawed per say but definitely isn't what one would think of as a male lead/hero. At the beginning of the story, Fort didn't have much going for him. He was what’d you say a sad excuse for a vampire; I mean he was getting beaten up and mugged by three humans for Christ sake! He was supposed to be the one terrorizing not the victim. But what Fork lacked in vampire abilities, he made up in heart and personality. I think his name is perfect and a great representation of his growth throughout the book.  Fort is brave and stands up for what he believes in. He knew that he isn't a full vampire yet and that going after Luca was just asking for a death wish but he never once gave up hope in trying to find the missing girls. His family may see his human emotions as a handicap/liability but it was what made him stronger and better than his family. Fort’s family was just as interesting as he was. Readers meet each of the family members, albeit briefly and get a feel of their personality…and like Fort, their names were a great indication of their character.

Brennan’s take on vampire was refreshing. Her vampires were unlike other vampire novels I've read, making hers unique/original. Readers barely scratch the surface of Brennan’s world-building, but from what I've read it shows great potential. The characters were all well-written and realistic and most importantly relatable. Brennan also incorporated Japanese Kitsune folklore/mythology into her story which also made the book stand out from other UF books…I haven’t read many books that featured a kitsune shifter/lore (except one series but the author never delve into the history like Brennan did) and while I’m not really familiar with the folklore; I thought it was fascinating how she built upon the folklore/and the characters (Suzume, Asuko’s family line).

Generation V is a must read for all Urban Fantasy-Paranormal fans. While the book wasn't action packed, it was still an engaging read with much to offer. I am a sucker for an underdog story and character driven books…and Generation V is it. I loved everything about Brennan’s debut book, and highly recommend it. Don’t let the cover fool you. The whole ‘vampire novel’ may seem overdone and tiresome but Brennan proves that the genre can be reinvented. I can’t wait to read the next American Vampire novel. I’m sure it won’t be long till this series finds its place on my favorite series list. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Review: Known Devil by Justin Gustainis

Title: Known Devil
Author: Justin Gustainis
Genre: Urban Fantasy 
Series: Occult Crimes Unit Investigation #3

Mass Market Paperback, 375 pages
Publication: January 28, 2014 by Angry Robot 

Source:  I received a review copy from the Publisher/Author in exchange for a honest review.


My name’s Markowski. I carry a badge. Also, a crucifix, some wooden stakes, a big vial of holy water, and a 9mm Beretta loaded with silver bullets.
A new supernatural gang is intent on invading Scranton – as if I didn’t have enough to contend with!
Supernatural gang warfare? Not on my watch!

I haven’t read the first two Occult Crime Unit Investigation novels, but these books don’t need to be read in order as Known Devil can be read as a standalone. This is a great Urban Fantasy and has one of my favorite aspects…police procedural with a touch of supernatural/paranormal and magic.

Known Devil opens up with Detective Markowski and Renfer at a diner on break when two elves come in to rob it. The elves are high as a kite and need more money to buy drugs. But the thing is, most supernaturals can’t get addicted to drugs (except goblins’ that can get hooked on meth)…until now; apparently elves, vamps and weres are all getting addicted (humans non-affected). To make matters worse, there is vampire turf war between two different crime families and an anti-supernatural political party is gaining attention/popularity among the people of Scranton; making Stan and Karl’s job all the more difficult.

I quite enjoyed this book more than I anticipated. I loved everything about it, the dark-gritty scenes and atmosphere/vibe of Scranton, the hard-boiled detectives and the overall plot/subplots. As I mentioned before, I have never read this series (starting at book #3) nor have I read any other books by this author but jumping into this book was quite easy and comfortable. I was able to follow along with the story without any problems or confusion and understood the gist of everything with the background/recap mentioned throughout the book. Well, maybe one thing I wish I knew was how Stan’s daughter became a vampire LOL but that was a minor detail. I love it when authors incorporate police procedural and supernatural/magic, I think it’s literally the perfect concoction for a story and Known Devil didn't disappoint.

Known Devil was an excellent read; it was fast paced, full of action and with witty dialogue to boot (which was my favorite, because it had me laughing and smiling). If enjoy reading gritty fantasy noir or just looking for an entertaining read, I highly suggest picking up the Occult Crime Unit Investigation series!

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Guest Post by Justin Gutainis

Ley, Lady, Ley

By Justin Gustainis

Detective Sergeant Stan Markowski of the Scranton Police Department’s Occult Crimes Unit, lives in a world like ours, but … different. In this “alternate” universe, virtually all the supernatural creatures of myth and legend really exist. Fearing persecution (sometimes with good reason) these beings kept a low profile for most of human history. But that changed after World War Two, when the creatures of the night began to crawl out of the coffin, er, closet.

Although supernatural entities are to be found everywhere in Stan’s world,

many people have noticed that the area in and around Scranton is home to many more “supes” per capita than a lot of other places. This remained a mystery, until 1966.

That was the year that a couple of scientists at the University of Scranton

published a paper, “Ley Line Intersection in Northeast Pennsylvania: Myth or Magnet?” in the Journal of the American Magical Association. The scientists, Richard Passon and Edward Warner, argued that scores of ley lines intersect in and around Scranton.

The concept of ley lines is derived in part from the Chinese notion of feng shui, which holds that there are invisible forces that bind humans, spirits, and land together. Ley lines, some say, trace the movement of supernatural creatures across the earth tens of thousands of years ago – when it was easier for such individuals to move about undetected. Others maintain that the lines represent the cosmic flow of energy across the planet.

According to Passon and Warner, there are four points in and around Scranton

where at least ten different ley lines come together. More recent research argues that there may be as many as twenty such intersections within a fifty-mile radius of the city. There are those who claim that the extensive coal mining that once was the area’s mainstay had something to do with directing the flow of cosmic energy.

As Stan puts it, “The intersecting ley lines are like a magnet for supes, which explains why we’ve got so many. They were drawn here over the years, even if they didn’t realize why. Weres, vamps, ghouls, witches, trolls – you name it. We’ve got ‘em all in Scranton. Lucky us.”

So, by all means, come to visit Haunted Scranton and see what all of those intersecting lay lines have wrought in this beautiful city. But you might want to bring a few religious icons (any faith will do), some garlic, and a few sprigs of wolfsbane with you – just in case any of the locals you encounter might be … hungry.


Justin Gustainis was born in Northeast Pennsylvania in 1951. He attended college at the University of Scranton, a Jesuit university that figures prominently in several of his writings.

After earning both Bachelor's and Master's degrees, he was commissioned a Lieutenant in the U. S. Army. Following military service, he held a variety of jobs, including speechwriter and professional bodyguard, before earning a Ph.D. at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. He was married to Patricia A. Grogan of Toledo, Ohio, from 1977 until her death in 2007. He misses her a lot.

Mr. Gustainis currently lives in Plattsburgh, New York. He is a Professor of Communication at Plattsburgh State University, where he earned the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2002.

*Photo via author's Goodreads and Biography via author's website

Friday, February 07, 2014

Cover Reveal: Rain by Christie Cote

Publication: May 6, 2014

Taylor Sullivan took her life for granted until she received news that would change her life forever. In a state of denial she met Kyle, who didn't end up being what she expected. She wasn't able to escape her new reality, but with his friendship, just maybe she could survive it.

Christie Cote resides in Vermont with her Husband and their dog. When she isn’t reading, writing, or dreaming up her next story, she can be found shooting targets with her bow, drawing or baking.Christie writes Young Adult Realistic Fiction, Fiction, and New Adult novels. Rain is her first book. 

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Review: Only the Good Die Young by Chris Marie Green

Title: Only the Good Die Young
Author: Chris Marie Green
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Jensen Murphy, Ghost for Hire #1

Mass Market Paperback, 416 pages

Publication: February 4, 2014 by Roc

Source: I received a review copy from the author in exchange for a honest review.

You know the theory that ghosts are energy trapped when someone dies violently? It’s true. I know it for a fact...

My name is Jensen Murphy, and thirty years ago I was just an ordinary California girl. I had friends, family, a guy who might be The One. Ordinary—until I became a statistic, one of the unsolved murders of the year. Afterwards, I didn’t go anywhere in pursuit of any bright light—I stayed under the oak tree where my body was found, and relived my death, over an over. So when a psychic named Amanda Lee Minter pulled me out of that loop into the real world, I was very grateful. 

So I’m now a ghost-at-large—rescued by Amanda (I found out) to be a supernatural snoop. I’m helping her uncover a killer (not mine—she promises me we’ll get to that) which should be easy for a spirit. Except that I’ve found out that even ghosts have enemies, human—and otherwise…

Only the Good Die Young is the first installment in a brand new Urban Fantasy series by Chris Marie Green. I have a couple of Mrs. Green’s novels on my shelf (having won them from her release party) but haven’t gotten around to them yet. But when Mrs. Green offered bloggers a chance to review her new Jensen Murphy series; I immediately jumped at the opportunity because Only the Good Die Young is one of my most anticipated reads of 2014.

Only the Good Die Young is narrated in first person POV by our heroine Jensen Murphy. Jensen Murphy was murdered in the Elfin Woods thirty years ago and was trapped in a time loop reliving her death over and over again until physic Amanda Lee pulled her out of it. After getting out of the time loop, Jensen learns the rope of what it’s like being a ghost and about the world since she last left it; how advanced technology has gotten over the thirty years, people with their cell phones, iPod/mp3, and portable laptops. But the main reason that Amanda Lee rescued Jensen from the time loop is because she needs Jensen’s help in solving a murder case from 3 years earlier; a murder case near and dear to her heart.

I don’t know what I expected when starting this book, but I definitely was surprised at how tamed and light the story was. I guess since the book featured a ghost protagonist, I thought there would be that scary-creep factor but Jensen was more Casper the friendly ghost than the lady from The Grudge. But it doesn't mean that I didn't like Jensen, I do. You’d think that someone that died violently (I’m guessing since there was a hint that an ax was used) and was murdered like Jensen was that she’d be a vengeful spirit but that wasn't the case. When Jensen learned that she was tasked to find who killed Elizabeth Dalton (who died young and horribly as she did) she was really gung-ho about seeking justice for Elizabeth and her friends/family that she left behind on earth. Though I must say I was shocked that Jensen put a stranger’s murder case before hers, and that she didn't ask too many questions regarding her savior Amanda Lee. But the good news is that Amanda promised Jensen that after they find Elizabeth’s killer, they’d work on finding her killer next.

My favorite aspects of the novel were the information on ghosts and the mystery. I do believe in ghosts, especially when everyone in my family experienced or saw something that can’t be explained…but I don’t know much about the make-up of ghosts. I found Green’s explanations on ghost extremely interesting, whether she researched it or made it up. For example some of the things Jensen/and the other ghosts were able to do in the book was not the usual haunting that one might think, although there was the occasional energy fluxes that causes the electronics to go haywire. However, Jensen was able to cause hallucinations when she touched a person or if she delved deeper she would be able to see/feel a person memory or enter their dream state and be more corporal. Also ghosts are somewhat made up of energy, so when Jensen exerted herself too much in a haunting or would travel too far from her death place she’d need to recharge herself by extracting energy from electronics/cable-power lines.

As for the mystery itself, I thought it was well done. It kept me on my toes the entire way through. I was shocked when the killer was revealed and the turn of events towards the end was the biggest surprise. I didn't see it coming at all. The book started out slow with nothing much happening in my opinion…Jensen used some of her new ghost abilities hoping to scare information out of the Edgett family but by the 300 page mark the book morphed into what I was waiting for…a more intense and dark read.

Overall, Only the Good Die Young is a good start to a new series. The first half of the book is more like 3 stars and the last half 5 stars. I would have probably given this book a higher rating if the beginning of the book had match the feel of the last half of the book. While the book got off to a bumpy start, I am happy with how the overall story played out and am interested in seeing where this series goes that I’ll be back for a sequel. If you’re a fan of ghost and Urban Fantasy like I am, I’d recommend picking this series up and giving it a try. It didn't blow me away by any means but I’d say this book is worth reading.