Healer – B.N. Toler

healerB.N. Toler has single-handedly restored my faith in the vampire story. While I expected to like Healer did I expect the Twilight does M. Night Shyamalanesque story I read? No, not even close. Aldo is a healer, a very dangerous thing to be in her world. Her talents are more psychically based than our traditional understanding of the word. Aldo can literally use her own life-force or preferably channels that of a host to heal someone who is not critically injured or terminally ill. When a young girl is hit by a truck in front of her, she reacts immediately, unwittingly revealing her true nature to forces she doesn’t know or understand. The driver of the truck is not what we expect either, he is another healer, the first that she has met outside of her family. The question is, is he one to be feared the way she has always been taught, or trusted?

There is balance in life most know nothing about. Some are put here to simply exist, while others have been placed here to ensure life. Healers such as Aldo Lawson understand the power of their gift, although at times, it seems more a curse. Upon meeting a handsome young healer named Thomas, Aldo’s life heads into a tailspin. With his arrival, Aldo’s aunt is forced to share a hard and scary truth—vampires exist. And not only do they exist, but they thirst for healer blood.

Despite this new and frightening information, Aldo longs for a normal senior year. So close to achieving her goal, her world turns upside down when her aunt is murdered and Thomas disappears. Riddled with questions, she sets out to find him.

Submerged in a world filled with sex and danger, Aldo hopes to find the vampires that will lead her to Thomas. When they find her first, she is forced to piece together truths, deal with her pain, and find that not everything is what it seems.

Following the accident Aldo is in equal parts horrified and fascinated by Thomas, the driver of the pickup truck. She, her twin brothers and her aunt Lucy have lived on the fringes of society most of her life on the run from what exactly she doesn’t know. The temptation of meeting Thomas and finding out more about their unique gift proves irresistible. Thomas is an enigma revealing enough about healers and the threats to them to captivate her completely but is it enough to save her from the threat that she has been sheltered from her entire life?

Healer was a satisfying read unfolding slowly and each time you think all has been revealed another layer would be uncovered. Part love story, part mystery, with a dash of horror thrown in Healer is an excellent addition to the genre and a exemplary beginning to a series.

AUTHOR: B.N. Toler

RATING: 4  Stars

GENRE: Paranormal Fiction

Note – Novel kindly provided by author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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Be Careful What You Wish For – Fall Preview

I have a problemHelp Me! I am buried under my TBR pile and I can’t get up! If my posts have been somewhat erratic lately it is not because  I have abandoned my fellow bibliophiles for greener pastures, it is because I have been reading A LOT. I know, it doesn’t sound so bad and for all intents and purposes it’s not and when I manage to finish and review everything …okay not everything because that is like saying “when the house is done”, it will be awesome, I hope.

When I started the blog it was with the intention of promoting not only established authors but also to explore what was available from independent and as yet unpublished authors as well. The response has been spectacular, amazing even but overwhelming at the same time now I am scrambling to keep up. I would like to thank the authors who have so graciously shared their work with me, and for the blog followers here is a preview of reviews you can expect to see in the next few weeks or so.

The Waking DarkThe Waking Dark – They called it the killing day. Twelve people dead, all in the space of a few hours. Five murderers: neighbors, relatives, friends. All of them so normal. All of them seemingly harmless. All of them now dead by their own hand . . . except one. And that one has no answers to offer the shattered town. She doesn’t even know why she killed—or whether she’ll do it again.

SugarMan’s Daughter – is a 85,000 word work of literary fiction with a plot-line that explores the effects of betrayal and blind love. It celebrates the resiliency of the human spirit even as it explores the darker side of human nature.

The Altar (Timeless Generation #1) – Ava Cook is a vibrant senior in college, is about to be, thrust into two different worlds that she never knew existed; a world of sacrifice, blood lust, power, and immortality that she will likely never return from.

Sia-cover200x299Sia – When seventeen-year-old Sia wakes up on a park bench, she has no idea who or where she is. Yet after a week of being homeless, she’s reunited with her family. At school, she’s powerful and popular. At home, she’s wealthy beyond her dreams. But she quickly realizes her perfect life is a lie. Her family is falling apart and her friends are snobby, cruel and plastic. Worse yet, she discovers she was the cruelest one.

Family Portrait – Lady Amelie Wainwoode’s secret identity is secure until the arrival of the scandalous Lord Stratfield. Determined to protect her good name and clandestine art career, she counters his blackmail. Now she must leave the sanctuary of her aunt’s home in London for his estate at White Ash to fulfill the bargain. Her presence unveils more than the hushed history which binds their families.

More – Ava Michaels used to think she was special. As a child, she fantasized about having magical powers . . . making things happen. She felt different from others her age, and just knew she was meant for something important. But, like most kids, Ava grew up and eventually accepted the fact that her childish dreams were just that, and maybe a normal life wasn’t so bad after all.

The Siren – Notorious Nora Sutherlin is famous for her delicious works of erotica, each one more popular with readers than the last. But her latest manuscript is different—more serious, more personal—and she’s sure it’ll be her breakout book…if it ever sees the light of day. Zachary Easton holds Nora’s fate in his well-manicured hands. The demanding British editor agrees to handle the book on one condition: he wants complete control. Nora must rewrite the entire novel to his exacting standards—in six weeks—or it’s no deal.

Most Wanted – Kady Winter

This month’s Most Wanted spotlight features Kady Winter author of the upcoming Poteet Chronicles. Book One – Golden Apples won the Young Adult category of the Virginia Romance Writers’ 2013 “Fool for Love” Contest.

Golden Apples – In antebellum Missouri, 18-year-old Abby Stafford needs both mystical intervention and her indomitable spirit to break free of her powerful, slave-holding father and melt her frozen heart.

I found this gem on Kady’s website and as this month’s featured author I thought it would be a great piece for review. Subscribe to Kady’s mailing list to get a copy at http://www.kadywinter.com/my-young-adult-fiction/

Silver Moonlight – Irene, whose family maintains one of the grand hotel resorts in the New Hampshire mountains year-round, reluctantly agrees to help end the misery of her fiance, who suffers shell-shock from the WWI battlefield. But before she will participate in his desperate plan, she makes him agree to skate with her at a patch of ice deep in the forest, which they both remember from their childhoods – a special place where help just might be found.

As children Irene, her brother Dewey and Roy were inseparable, with age that friendship turned to love. Before they could marry, war was declared and Roy and Dewey joined the army, only Roy returned alive but not unharmed.

Now, more than eight months later, she had to face it. The Roy she knew and loved had died in the war, and trying to rebuild a life with the empty shell that had taken his place was killing her, too.

It is a testament to Ms Winter’s talent that within twelve short pages she constructed a story that could transport the reader to another place, in another time, to care about a traumatized soldier and if girl who loves him can save them both.

 

 

Return to Me – Mae Archer

RTMLana Walters is haunted. Haunted by her old life, a life that doesn’t exist anymore. All it took was one moment of inattention and she was taken away from all she knew to wake up in a body that is not her own, with a husband she doesn’t know or does she? Has she lost her mind? Or has she been given a second chance?

After a fatal car accident Lana Walters is transported to a parallel world for a second chance with her dead husband. But her husband – and the world itself – are very different to her own.

In her other life, Lana was married to Frank, who had a terminal heart condition and died at thirty. In this new world, she is Alannah Walker, and her husband is Tristan, a man who had a heart operation as a child. But Tristan is nothing like Frank.

Born Frank Walters, Tristan hides his past under a new name. His relationship with his wife, Alannah, is fraught with anger. But even though Alannah has seemed like a different person since the car accident, lessons of the past have taught him not to trust too easily…

Will Tristan and Lana learn from their past mistakes? Does this new life give them a second chance at love?

Mae Archer‘s Return to Me explores redemption and the possibility of second chances not only between lovers but between families as well. Ms Archer has taken a unique approach to the classic ghost/reincarnation story. Lana’s beloved husband Frank had succumbed to the damage his heart sustained as a child from a bout with rheumatic fever.  After his funeral Lana’s brooch falls into the street and when she steps into the street to retrieve it she is  struck down by a passing bus. She awakens in the hospital surrounded by people she knows but who do not know her and the man they tell her is her husband is hostile and aloof.

He turned away and ushered in the man they said was her husband. She held her breath as the black wavy hair came into view and she had a faint sense of recognition, but when she saw the stranger’s thick eyebrows and taut face the sensation faded.

Return to Me was a compelling fast read with an interesting likable heroine. I found Tristan’s character was harder to emphasize with, his cruelty at times made me question why Lana would even want to be with someone so very closed off. But overall the “what if” story line had a fascinating Twilight Zone type feel to it that will appeal to a wide variety of readers.

AUTHOR: Mae Archer

RATING: 4  Stars

GENRE: Romance

Note – ARC kindly provided by NetGalley on behalf of the publisher.

The Other C-Word – M.K. Schiller

AUT_SchillerMK_THEOTHERCWORDIn The Other C-Word by M.K. Schiller the company that Marley works for is bringing in an efficiency consultant. It is enough to strike fear into the heart of any worker whose job could be easily outsourced. Come the day of his arrival, her catty co-worker, Kathy decides that she is “too sick” – translation – she can’t be bothered to pick up Mr. Randy from the airport and in a deft “Mikey will eat it” move leaves Marley holding the bag or keys if you will.

As is the law of Murphy, Marley is late getting to the airport and of course has no idea what the expert she is picking up looks like. She is struck by a gorgeous Chris Pine lookalike, who couldn’t be her consultant, her mental image is that of someone at least 60 and who looks not look a day under 80. Lost in a field of suits she realizes that this problem is easily rectified, why not make a sign like all the rest of the chauffeur types. With lurid pink lipstick she scrawls “R U RANDY?” and is immediately accosted by a geriatric somewhat senile Lothario. “Green eyes” aka – the lookalike saves her from an incensed daughter and a possible kidnapping charge revealing that he is in fact Rick Randy the efficiency expert.

Marley Mason is dreading the arrival of the new business consultant. After all, this man will most likely outsource her job to China. The last thing she would expect is a case of mistaken identity, leading to false accusations of kidnapping when she attempts to pick up the wrong man at the airport, or worse…that she would have such a visceral reaction to the right man.

Rick Randy is super sexy, scandalously flirty and perfect masturbation material, but a relationship is out of the question. Rick is contracted on a temporary basis to fix Marley’s ailing company, then pull out, although as he expresses to Marley, pulling out is difficult for him, in more ways than one! Marley’s feelings range from utter confusion to intense contemplation as Rick charms his way into her life. All of those C-words Marley can control, but it’s the other C-word she fears—commitment.

Chris Pine wallpaper
Chris Pine wallpaper (Photo credit: i heart him)

Do you remember that infamous Sex and the City episode, you know the one where Charlotte coined the now legendary phrase from the seemingly innocent acronym “See you next Tuesday”? We all know that’s the c-word you were thinking, admit it, but you would be wrong. If you still don’t know what I am talking about then I give up. Despite the very provocative cover, the central theme of M.K. Schiller’s light hearted romantic read features Marley Mason’s very real phobia of commitment and how this could ultimately cost her the man that she secretly wants but is afraid to keep.

There were a number of things that I enjoyed about M.K. Schiller’s novel, particularly the members of Marley’s family and the character of Rick himself. Often times in books the “quirky family” becomes almost a farcical caricature more of a distraction than adding to the whole, however in The Other C-Word the Mason family is just odd enough to be realistic. Marley’s vegan mother, style obsessed and Little Women loving sisters coupled with the boy turned fiance next store and her obsessive compulsive gay best friend all come together to paint a picture of genuinely appealing yet slightly wacky family.

This is the second book that I have read recently that dealt with some very dark and intense themes in a light, artful manner, without minimizing their significance and neatly avoiding the self important overly dramatic soap opera like scenes that can result from subjects commonly touched on in New Adult fiction. I hope this trend continues as I finished The Other C-Word and rather than feeling conflicted I felt contented and curious to see what M.K. Schiller’s catalog of work might contain.

AUTHOR: M. K. Schiller

RATING: 4  Stars

GENRE: Romance

Come Alive (Experiment in Terror #7) – Karina Halle

 

Does love conquer all? It’s the central theme in Come Alive Karina Halle‘s ninth entry in the Experiment in Terror franchise. Well, all I can say is this ostrich pulled her head out of the sand and it was well worth it.

CA

I know the above statement may not make sense but once you read the rest of the post it should. It was ridiculous to think I could wait until winter for more EiT but unfortunately now I have no choice.

ORIGINAL POST (August 25, 2013) Consider this an interim review because I have not in fact finished Come Alive, the seventh installment of the Experiment in Terror series. I adore this franchise and I am beginning to wonder if Karina Halle is some sort of god, at least of the demi variety. I have raced through each of the eight previous books and loved every minute of it and actually expected to be caught up more than a week ago but I am procrastinating.

The reason, I think, is two fold, one I quite simply am not ready to leave Dex and Perry… okay I will be honest, Dex, I am not ready to leave Dex. I have nothing against Perry and other than her fragile self-esteem, which makes me want to sit down and have a long talk with her about getting a grip and in the event that that fails then I would have no choice but to slap her but I digress. Second, I have a bad feeling, I never watch Gone With the Wind after Rhett and Scarlett marry, well other than the first time of course and I am still scarred from how spectacularly that went wrong and all for ASHLEY for goodness sake! Thus in light of my bad feeling, could be just GWTW flashbacks I am not sure but I have no other choice than to opt for the effective although somewhat cowardly approach of my best ostrich, find sand and insert head firmly at least until Ashes to Ashes comes out this winter or possibly until next May when the ninth and final installment Dust to Dust is released.

It’s one thing to bring the woman you love back into your life. It’s another to try and keep her there. For Dex Foray, convincing Perry Palomino to open herself to their burgeoning relationship has been more challenging than hunting ghosts, battling demons and stalking Sasquatch combined. Add in the fact that the only way they can keep their Exper­i­ment in Terror show running is to take on a third partner in the form of the mys­te­ri­ous Max­imus Jacobs — all while investigating a sinister voodoo sect in New Orleans — and you’ve got the perfect Southern storm and a recipe for dis­as­ter. Luckily, Dex has never been one to back down, even when his life –and heart — are on the line.

New Orleans VooDoo
New Orleans VooDoo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Following the disastrous loss of the Sasquatch footage the only way Jimmy will allow Dex and Perry to continue shooting Experiment in Terror is with Maximus at the helm. This is not entirely unexpected as his appearance in Portland a few months prior was to convince Perry to come back to Shownet sans Dex. Neither is happy about this situation but to appease Perry Dex agrees to try. Their destination is New Orleans aka Ghost Capital USA, and it is not long before it becomes apparent that ghosts are not the only supernatural thing afoot as there are rumors of the dead walking and connections to a powerful voodoo priestess. When a bar patron dies suddenly in front of Perry then reappears later not quite so dead but not alive either that there may be a link to one of the three of them.

Come Alive is told from Dex’s POV, which may not appeal to some but considering my affection for his character I enjoy it immensely. It is illuminating to understand Dex’s struggle to be the man that he believes Perry needs and you can’t help but hope that he succeeds even when it is apparent that forces greater than themselves may be trying to keep them apart.

Rosalie Alley, Bywater section of New Orleans....

AUTHOR: Karina Halle

RATING: 5  Stars

GENRE: Fiction

Friend-Zoned (Friend-Zoned #1) – Belle Aurora

Friend-ZonedI never heard the term “friend zone” before 2005 when I watched the hilarious movie Just Friends starring the delicious Ryan Reynolds and though I am sure it is a construct of the 2000s how I wish my teenaged self could have read Friend-Zoned by Belle Aurora. Tina owns a high end clothing shop, each day she sees a very attractive but dour looking man smoking outside the bar across the street. On a whim she sends a bag of candy and a note. Nik, the owner of the White Rabbit isn’t used to to dealing with people who don’t have ulterior motives. The gift of a bag waxed candy lips is highly suspect and before he has a chance to even think “thanks but no thanks”, to another what he thinks is a thinly veiled come on, Tina has neatly placed him in the “friend zone”.

Nikolai Leokov never thought he’d fall in love with the only girl he’s ever befriended. Valentina Tomic has issues with commitment after the ultimate betrayal. When Tina decides to make broody Nik’s day better, she never thought she would end up friends with the hard man. Nik has never had a woman be so affectionate to him without expecting something in return.
Nik and Tina cordially invite you to read Friend-zoned.
A story of friendship, humor and love.

Despite her attraction to Nik, Tina’s declaration of friendship is not the brilliant strategy to seduce him that it may seem initially, instead it is an evasion. After a devastating betrayal Tina has sworn to avoid romantic entanglements at all costs. Nik also has his reasons why he is avoiding romantic entanglements, in short they are perfect for each other and as is typical everyone knows it but them.

Belle Aurora has penned a nice story, instead of the all too common heavy handed angst ridden approach, she has deftly and subtly touches on weighty subjects like death and disability. Perhaps Tina’s character is at times overly sweet and a touch naive but again this is a pleasant change from the over wrought melodramatic themes that have dominated a number of novels available recently. She reinforces the strength of the bonds of friendship and family in a fairly realistic if not slightly idealized manner. Reading this story made me want to of all things revisit my kitchen and see if I could brush up on my baking skills because as Tina says really who doesn’t want a cupcake?

AUTHOR: Belle Aurora

RATING: 3 1/2  Stars

GENRE: Romance