Burner (Affinity Series, #1) by J.S. Lenore

Summary:

Homicide detective Kim Phillips isn’t like the other officers of the Chicago Police Department. She’s quiet, isolated, and she can speak with the dead. Born with the ability to see into and interact with the afterlife, she is a Burner: a person tasked with hunting down dangerous spirits and sending them to the other side.

When Kim exorcises the ghost of a young girl, she’s dragged into a new and unsettling case, one where people like Kim are being killed. The only problem? There’s no connection between the victims, and no proof that they were murdered in the first place. Kim has to catch the killer before he finds his last victim and unleashes an unknown evil on the world.

Burner, the first book in the Affinity Series, is a dark exploration of how life and death are only separated by a single breath and how even those with power can be powerless.

Characters

Kim is a bit of a mess, but in a charming way. Her stubborn, almost self destructive drive to make things right and do them her way, is perfectly balanced by Priya. Priya is a bonded ghost (like a supernatural partner) and a sweetie! Cross is a very distinct character and I loved him almost more than Kim. The author created wonderfully diverse characters that, despite their flaws, were easy to love and even relate to.

Plot

The author built a complex world with lots of mediums and types of mediums that is pretty easy to follow. It is confusing a few times in the first few chapters but I got into the grove. Found out there is a glossary in the back that confirmed everything I had figured out, I’d recommend taking a peak there first.

There is a complex detective story that was decent. I figured it out pretty quickly but mostly enjoyed the journey and the action. Boy was there a ton of great action! I also liked the building romance between her and her new human partner…you’ll see how cute they are and I hope to see more of them!

Overall

Wonderfully written. I loved the way the author started the book – right into the action. Besides some repeated paragraphs in the earlier chapters, it was nearly flawless. I wasn’t sure what the point of the random pictures were throughout the book and actually though they could all go because they were distracting.

Relate-able characters, great plot, easy to follow world in an urban setting, and a great balance of romance and action. The ghost scenes were awesome! I wasn’t bored and every word was written with economy. I was very impressed all the way around. I kept wanting to read what was happening next!

Rating

5 stars

I loved this book. I was initially drawn to it because it said it was like the Dresden Series – and it was in many ways – but there were a lot of unique factors that just had that edge. For sure will be looking for more from this author in the future! If you love ghost/supernatural detective stories this is a must read!

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Loved by a Killer by C.F. Rabbiosi

Summary

Raina loved performing upon the London stage, but one night she found herself dancing for only HIM. She froze, and looked to the balcony where the gaslights flickered dimly over his shadowy form. If only she had known that this beautiful monster would soon rip her away from everything in the world SHE EVER LOVED, perhaps she wouldn’t have lingered so long.

Lord Marcus Loxley loved being a blood thirsty predator, but one night his gallivanting brought him to his knees in front of HER. If only he had known what would happen when she danced, that she would remind him of someone who was everything in the world HE EVER LOVED, perhaps he would have turned away.

As he drags her deeper and deeper into his depraved world of torture and violence, she begins fighting her own darkness that threatens to consume her everyday. And oh, how it begs to be released. And though she knows it’s wrong, she desires her captor anyway.

Until she begins falling for someone else…

Meanwhile, prostitutes are being butchered in the streets and she begins to fear: Is her dark lover, the one she is bound to, The Ripper?

With an accurate account of the creepy, gaslit times of London and real Jack the Ripper crime scenes, LOVED BY A KILLER is an exciting read from start to finish. Warning: Hot sexual content and graphic gore. Language.

Characters

There are really two main characters: Raina and Marcus. Marcus is exactly what he is, without remorse, though he does try to change. He is a very depraved individual but that is somewhat to be expected from a very old vampire. I appreciated the complexity of the characters. Raina at times felt like a leaf on the wind. Being pulled this way and that until closer to the end where she takes a stab at making her own happiness.

There were lots of other POVs throughout the book, which was very confusing sometimes because they just changed suddenly. It was very confusing at times because I’d think I was following on character but then suddenly it is another character’s POV. The worse was between Marcus and Raina.

Plot

This book is filled with fascinating plot lines. The big problem was there were too many of them – which I normally like but not all of them felt necessary in this instance. They might be necessary later in the series but some of them wrapped up and kind of felt like they didn’t fit the rest of the story. That being said there were some awesomely described macabre scenes that were super epic. That being said there is the main plot of Marcus wanting to possess Raina, Jack the Ripper, and all of his past coming back to haunt him.

Furthermore there were historical inaccuracies and verbiage that took me out of the era of the book. A ripe example is near the end she takes off her dress by using a zipper. Problem is the zipper wasn’t used widely in clothes until after the 1900s, but Jack the Ripper terrorized London in 1888.

Overall

I wasn’t sure if I liked this book. I really liked Raina and I was sucked in at the beginning but my interest quickly waned. This was partially because I found myself disliking both Marcus and Raina (although I warmed up to her closer to the end but never fully liked her again). I also felt some of the gore and scenes were unnecessary – like repeatedly making a point that was well done the first time. In the end the middle part of the book felt long. However, the sudden and unexpected change at the end was very rewarding.

Rating

3 Stars

Loved the beginning and loved the ending, but struggled through the middle. This book has a lot to offer, but needs some work and is not for the faint of heart. This is dark, but entertaining.

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Themis by Paul Weil

**Cannot standalone**

Summary:

SARAH CASTLE is a young celebrity reporter from London who stumbles upon the mystery of twelve extraordinary teenagers. One of them is HENRY BAXTER, an eighteen year-old unknown runner who just won The London Marathon. She accepts a position as the public relations chief for their new charity—THE THEMIS FOUNDATION. Sarah experiences events that can only be described as supernatural; including a cottage that appears normal from the outside, but is infinitely large inside with doors that open all over the world. However, Sarah’s proximity to this extraordinary family might just get her killed. In THEMIS, Sarah discovers the family she desperately wants, a love she didn’t expect, and herself at the center of events that will change the destiny for all of humanity. Themis is the first part of a five book series that will take the reader on an adventure into ancient mythology, a fantastic mystery, and deep inside the most unusual family on Earth.

Characters
Sarah Castle is the main character…or at least I think she is supposed to be. There are so many characters, which normally I like, but I struggled with Themis because the back of the book only really talks about Sarah but she is almost non-existent in the second half of the book. Really there are twelve ‘main’ characters with other critical characters like Titus. The biggest problem I had was I didn’t really connect with any of the characters enough to be invested…which made them all a little flat.

The switching characters messed with me a few times because of some unexpected POV shifts where I wasn’t sure who was actually the main character in that chapter. Also there is this part where Sarah falls and I just went ‘are you serious right now?’ because it was painfully predictable and made me dislike Sarah a little…in many ways she never rebounded from that.

Plot

Absolutely loved the multi-faceted plot. I was curious where the story was going to go because of all the pieces and I could easily see some of the future threads. I could easily see this being made into a TV series and I’d totally watch it. The first book was chock full of plot threads that I found absolutely fascinating. It is a really slow read in a few parts but I actually enjoyed the depth most of the time. A downside is the action scenes left me scratching my head a few times –  some of the movements happening in the matter of seconds seemed excessively fast. Also some of the scenes seemed over the top (the gore and sequences).

Overall

I enjoyed the writing but there were some noticeable editing errors – particularly in the second half of the novel. I also found myself somewhat bored during some parts because the writing was too drawn out and excessive but this was due to my inability to connect with the characters and not the writing or the plot. That being said the settings were brilliantly executed and even with the shifting places the reader gets to visit were painted in such a way that I could easily envision them. The complex plot was fascinating, but some of the action was jarring and not fleshed out.

My favorite part of the book was how the author could drop hints about what was coming and really get me interested in what was going to come next with the story. Overall the real issue of the book for me was the lack of cohesion of the individual character plots and the underdeveloped characters that all of a sudden became really important near the end, but were a footnote in the first half of the book. It really left me scratching my head.

***SPOILER***

Don’t read this unless you want a spoiler, but I felt that there were some clear threads with the Terminator movie. Now that can be a good thing or a bad things but the main character being a Sarah really reminded me of Sarah Connor and not just her name. There were a lot of facts that fit into that similar plot thread that I quickly figured out where this whole thing was going to go by the end of the book, especially after she ‘connected’ with the reluctant leader. I say this hoping that Sarah Castle becomes as awesome as Sarah Connor did, either way it struck a cord with me.

***SPOILER OVER***

Rating

3.5 stars (rounded down)

I really want to give this 4 stars, but between the flaws and the fact that I think I would only recommend this to a select few people, I’m stuck at 3 stars. To give it that extra edge though, I’m going to add the 0.5 because I actually would consider reading the second book. In the end a highly complex but enjoyable plot with characters I struggled to connect with.

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Small side note only for this blog but I really dislike the cover of this book – I feel like it doesn’t capture what this book is about at all and undervalues how good it is. 

Midnight Over Moores (The Children of Carmen Chronicles Book 1) by A.M.H. Johnson

**This book CAN standalone**

Summary

Jenna Sheffield is an average girl from Savannah, Georgia. However, this year her life is about to change. She’s starting at a new, all-girls boarding school in the middle of high school. She’s having to learn how to deal with a roommate who seems more inclined to torture her than be friends. And on top of all that, she learns she has inherited her family’s ability to communicate with the dead, when the ghost of Christine Wedge starts to haunt her. All Christine wants is her body to be found, but this mystery is shrouded by 60 years of local legends and feuds. Can Jenna crack this cold-case, or will Christine drive her insane, or worse, kill her chances at getting into a good college?

Characters

Jenna is the main character and takes the spotlight for 90% of this book. She is interesting and for sure coming into her own as a young lady becoming a woman. She is very much the typical high school girl who moves halfway across the country. Oh and can see ghosts. I respected her immediately for the very gutsy move she made for her future. Her friend Sarah is a decent of Christine and is the big reason Jenna sees Christine’s ghost in the first place. Sarah and her brother are good supporting characters. Plus I liked the added conflict of Jenna’s snooty roommate Francesca.

Plot

This story had it all. Romance, a ghost story, some adventure, and a mystery. I don’t want to give anything away but the romance was very YA. It was cute and sweet. The turmoil that happens is realistic and not too far over the top. The ghost story was more in depth and the idea behind seeing ghosts even more so. Also I have to say I’m super pleased to say that the normal cliches with roommates who are jerks doesn’t happen here.

Overall

This is such a YA novel. Despite its silliness at times I really enjoyed it. The author did a good job of balancing the progression. I was a little surprised as how some of the story progressed because it was sudden when I thought the resolution would take longer. It took me a little longer to realize that the author was setting this up as an origin story – utterly brilliant. I don’t want to give too much away but I’m totally going to read this second book because if this is the author’s debut then they can only get better!

This book did need work on the grammatical and the word usage (one paragraph and most of the sentences started with ‘she’). Despite the simplicity of the writing, which was to be expected for a YA, it really didn’t detract from the excellent story telling. Not to mention the clever plot. I could have done without some of the romance but it was sweet and I eventually got over it.

Rating

5 stars

This book was not amazing literature but it was super charming and I just loved it. I read it every night and had to put my phone away and not stay up late. I enjoyed reading about Jenna and if you love YA books that are as much about romance as a good story (mystery/ghosts) then this a book for you!

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

 

Until We Lay (Scandinavian Winter Book 1) by Sara-Lisa Andersson

Summary

Supermodel Lainey Cartwright has the perfect life – stunning looks, lots of money, a killer career and a supermodel boyfriend. When she realizes that her runway days might be over and that her boyfriend is screwing her agent, the same agent that apparently has been robbing her blind for years, Lainey panics and runs away, out into the cold and rainy Copenhagen night.

Sociology student Palle believes that money is the root of all evil and is determined to do good and save the world as a social worker, despite the fact that no one believes that he has what it takes to handle the brutal reality of society’s darker side. When a real live damsel in distress crosses his path he seizes the opportunity to show everyone that they’re wrong about him. But is he wrong about her?

Characters

I firmly believe that the author doesn’t want you to like Lainey. Despite her negativity and somewhat selfish behavior I respected her. The author did a good job of creating a complicated character. Her history as well as her future drives her. Palle by contrast was a very naive character. His sweetness and interactions were believable and not overdone. I appreciated that he recognized his strengths and weaknesses. The author did a good job creating believable main characters. There really aren’t much in the way of supporting characters besides Palle’s mom.

Plot

A very realistic feeling plot that is both intriguing, but also entertaining. This is a steady book that doesn’t get too slow to lose the readers interest. Lainey’s history as an immigrant added an extra complexity that was welcome. I appreciated that her choices hurt her as much as helped her. In real life this is very much the case. It as also a different romance then I’m used to with Palle being the sweetie and Lainey the domineering personality. It was refreshing. Their romance and sensual scenes were sweet and endearing.

Overall

I loved the romance, the building to it. It was well written and easy to read. I appreciate the characters didn’t rush into anything and that the author waited. It was a very enjoyable romance. Not to mention the author did a great job playing to the setting.

That being said what I didn’t like was the ending. Without ruining anything that isn’t in the summary, Lainey is robbed by her manager. How they get the money back is just a little too convenient for my book. The problem steamed from how easy it was. As terrible as it is I wanted Lainey to struggle to get her money back but it just fell to a coincidence. Furthermore the resulting ending felt rushed. I did enjoy the very last chapter – that was a nice touch – but the lead up just kind of resolved everything and shoved you over the cliff to the end in one chapter.

Rating

4 stars

Great characters, interesting plot, and a sweet contemporary romance that just I felt had too much of a rushed ending to truly be a satisfying read. If you don’t want more information after they get together and are a ‘just get to the happily ever after already’ this book is for you!

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Boring Is The New Black (The Fashionista and The Geek, Book 1) by Megan Bryce

Summary

Famous name? Check.
Famous face? Double check.
A life locked up tight? Lock and key.

The daughter of a famed supermodel, Nicole Bissette has unwillingly lived her entire life in the spotlight. And she’s learned that to keep unwanted attention from herself, it’s best if she never smiles, never laughs. Never lets anyone close.

Especially her employees. Especially that one employee who lives to make her laugh, who loves to see her smile, and who doesn’t seem to realize that he works for a fashion designer. Does he not know? Can he not see? Is that really what he’s wearing?

This fashionista is about to discover that love really is blind…

Characters

Nicole is an interesting character. She was unique and I instantly liked her. Flynn was just adorable – the perfect nerd! The whole opposites attract idiom came into play here.

Plot

It was an amusing romance. It wasn’t just about the romance but the characters came into play. It was interesting to see the take on what it was like to grow up rich and famous. Well to grow up in a house where your mother is rich and famous. Really put perspective on things for Nicole and Flynn.

Overall

It was a very interesting and engaging read. I particularly enjoyed Nicole coming to terms with everything. Not to mention the whole nerdy jokes from Flynn’s side were priceless! The two things I didn’t like were the ‘conflict’ in the middle about Flynn (hated it actually and made me lose all respect for him) and the sort of non-ending ending.

Rating 

3.5 stars (rounded up)

Great romance that I really enjoyed until the last few chapters. Couldn’t quite give it 4 stars since it felt a little forced near the end, but I’ll round it up to 4. I think I could of overlooked Flynn’s flake moment if there was an actual ending – but it felt rushed. Still love this author though!

I read this on Wattpad.

 

Dead Down East (Jesse Thorpe Mysteries Book 1) by Carl Schmidt

**This book can standalone**

Summary

Dead Down East is a fictional murder mystery. It is both detective noir and smart screwball comedy, rolled into one. Jesse Thorpe, a young private investigator operating out of Augusta, Maine, narrates the tale.

Jesse’s vacation on Great Pond is cut short when he receives a mysterious phone call from a former client, Cynthia Dumais. She begs to be rescued from an island south of Brunswick, within a mile of where William Lavoilette, the governor of Maine, had been assassinated the night before. She insists that her life is in danger, but is unwilling to provide Jesse any further information. Reluctantly, Jesse agrees to help.

Within a week, he has three separate clients, each with his, or her, own desperate need to have the murder solved. Jesse assembles a motley team of compadres, including rock band members, an eccentric psychic and his zesty girlfriend, Angele Boucher, to help him with the case. While the FBI and the Maine State Police investigate political motives, Jesse looks for the woman—Cherchez la femme—as the trail draws him through the lives, and DNA, of seven of the governor’s former mistresses.

Characters

There is a stream of characters at the beginning but they rotate back through them so it isn’t overwhelming. Jesse is a man’s man. He fishes, has misplaced women’s negligee, and names his car/gun. He keeps cheap wine in his cupboards, likes his women a little crazy but passionate, but values people and doesn’t seem to be a judgmental person. I shook my head more than once at his antics but I didn’t dislike him – well maybe a few times but he is a charming character.

What makes him a well-rounded character is the supporting characters. His lady Angele is amusing and adds a passionate edge to the book. His band mates – all of them – add another layer. Michael and his wife added a softer edge to Jesse and are interesting characters in their own right.

Plot

This plot is not a whodunit and it is NOT about fishing. The author doesn’t give any clues and withholds all of the information needed to ‘solve the case’ until Jesse knows more. It is a crime novel that follows Jesse and his process of solving the crime. It was very methodical at times and a little wishy washy at others but overall was a solid crime plot. I did like the realistic aspects of what it took to track everything down. The level of detail that I normally dislike was necessary to show what it takes to solve a crime. Hard work, planning, some lying, and a lot of luck.

Overall

The writing and characters were enjoyable and believable. The pace of the book was steady and there were enough moments of interest to keep me vested as a reader. I prefer ‘whodunit’ books but this was a different type of mystery novel. It showed the process of figuring out who the murderer was. I actually really enjoyed all of that, and the level of detail the author brought to solving the murder. Even the interactions, although sometimes not necessary and a little lengthy, always served some sort of purpose.

The real problem I had with this book was the ending. I just sort of started laughing and saying ‘that’s absolutely ridiculous!’ and ‘you’ve got to be kidding me.’ There is no way they would just get away with it and it was such a gamble. They could have compromised EVERYTHING and to make matters worse an OFFICER OF THE LAW HELPED. Needless to say I was pissed because it was just too far out there. To make matters worse the entire writing style and power behind solving the case just sort of disintegrated into its other side – cornball comedy. The entire last 10% of the book was horrible for me.

Rating

3 stars

This was a solid 4 star book right up until the ending. Good characters, interesting mystery, and easy to read style of writing. The ending just pushed the boundary of reality in too many directions at once and became a true work of ‘fiction’ – to the point I no longer believed it was plausible.

I received a copy in exchange of an honest review.