The Search For Synergy (The Talisman Series: Book 1) by Brett Salter

Book Cover

Publisher:

Date of publication: May 31st, 2017

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy

Series: The Talisman Series

The Search for Synergy—Book 1

Riders of Ice and Fire—Book 2

Windy City Ruins—Book 3

The Battle For Verdana—Book 4

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

Format Read: Published Book

Received From: Author


Goodreads Synopsis:

“The Search For Synergy” is the story of two young men who are brought together by design to help save the world from the evil that lurks in the void. Rome and Julian will have to join their fledgling powers and become a fighting duo as knight and dragon working to fulfill a primordial destiny. This will be especially hard for Rome, who up until now, thought he was merely human.


First Line:

School…yuck! School was not always yuck.

The Search for Synergy by Brett Salter

The Search For Synergy is the first book in The Talisman series. The book does start a little slow, but that only lasts for the first two chapters. Then it takes off and doesn’t slow down until the end. That made the book more enjoyable to read.

I liked Rome. His reactions to everything going on were realistic. He had every right not to believe Julian and Mr. Jones when they explained what was happening to him. Instead, he gave them a chance, and it ended up changing his life. I also loved the way he talked to Julian’s father. I know it was rude, but I was laughing my butt off during those interactions.

I liked Julian and connected with him. He was passionate about what he was training for, and he was willing to face ridicule from Rome to tell him the truth. Plus, the kid was beyond brave.

The fantasy angle of the book was well written. I loved that the author used the King Arthur myth and built a fantastic storyline around it. Plus, he dabbled a bit of Greek mythology in too. It made the book so much enjoyable to read.

The fights scenes in The Search For Synergy were terrific!! I did think it was funny that the first one took place in the school (as did Rome’s first transformation). I cheered (internally) when Julian and Rome sent the Garns back to where they came from. I also loved seeing Rome turn to his more animalistic side during the second fight. He saved Julian’s life.

The end of The Search For Synergy was interesting. I have a few questions that I hope will be answered in the next book. Plus, I can’t wait to see how Julian’s younger sister is (seeing that she will be going with the boys to England).


The Search For Synergy was a great middle-grade read. The characters were fleshed out, and the plotline was terrific.

I would recommend The Search For Synergy to anyone over the age of 13. Younger readers can read it, but I suggest that a parent read with them, as some of the fight scenes can be a little scary. There is mild violence.

Wishes by Starlight: A Tale of Cinderella (HighTower Fairytales: Book 15) by Jacque Stevens

Book Cover

Publisher: sjacquebooks

Date of publication: January 1st, 2021

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Series: HighTower Fairytales

Winter Falls—Book 1 (review here)

Cry Wolf—Book 2

Lone Wolf—Book 3

Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing—Book 4

Between Dog and Wolf—Book 5

Wolves at Bay—Book 6

Depths—Book 7

Graves—Book 8

Storms—Book 9

Robin’s Hood—Book 10

Marian’s Man—Book 11

Lion’s Heart—Book 12

Letters by Cinderlight—Book 14 (Review Here)

Wishes by Starlight—Book 15

Purchase Links: Amazon

Format Read: Published Book

Received From: Author


Goodreads Synopsis:

I, Elya Pavlovna, went to the prince’s Maslenitsa celebration, and I’m still not sure who I am or what will happen next.

After running from a fairy and a prince, Elya is on her own for the first time. The unknown wilds are dark and dangerous, but she knows that if she is found she could be used to destroy everything she has come to love.

But with her sisters asking for her help and her beloved prince in distress, hiding might no longer be an option.

The slipper fits, now will she wear it?

If you like inspirational heroines, unique love stories, and untrustworthy fae, this romantic fantasy retelling is for you! One-click now to start the magic, romance, and heart-wrenching emotional journey!

Wishes by Starlight is the direct sequel to Letters by Cinderlight, a twist on the Cinderella story based in Slavic mythology and full of magical fairies with stories of their own.


First Line:

Elya,

Valiant says you ran, that no one forced you to go.

Wishes by Starlight by Jacque Stevens

I was very excited to start reading Wishes by Starlight. After the cliffhanger ending of Letters by Cinderlight, I needed to know what would happen to Elya and if she would get her happy ending.

Elya’s character had a lot of growth during the course. I loved watching her realize her worth and overcome the trauma of the abuse she suffered. That first started when she stopped local boys from teasing her stepsisters and continued throughout the book. I had tears in my eyes when she finally faced Charming.

Charming was the real MVP of the book. He did what the people of her village couldn’t or wouldn’t do; he stood up for her. He also gave her time (well, kind of) while writing letters in the magical book to Elya. I believe he would have waited forever for her if Lady Mother hadn’t done what she did.

The author ended the storyline with Elya’s abuse in a very satisfying way. Finally, Lady Mother got what she deserved. I cheered when Elya did what she did. Lady Mother deserved it.

The end of Wishes by Starlight was terrific. Finally, everyone got their happy endings. I loved when Lada showed up and validated everything. What she said as she left made me laugh (and made me wonder if she would be a regular appearance in their lives).


Wishes by Starlight was a great book to read. It kept my attention, and I loved seeing Elya find her happy ending.

I would recommend Wishes by Starlight to anyone over the age of 16. There is mild violence.

Fool Me Once (Blackhawk Security: Book 3) by Margaret Watson

Book Cover
Fool Me Once by Margaret Watson

Publisher: Dragonfly Press

Date of publication: May 15th, 2021

Genre: Romance, Suspense, Contemporary

Series: Blackhawk Security Series

Once Removed—Book 1 (review here)

Once Burned—Book 2 (review here)

Fool Me Once—Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Google Play

Format Read: Published Book

Received From: Author


Goodreads Synopsis:

When attorney Alexandra comes home early and overhears her husband Jerry hiring a hitman to kill her, she runs. Heads toward Seattle. After being a street kid there, she knows how to disappear.

But a man is following her. After she finds a tracking device, she wonders if tall, compelling Gideon is Jerry’s hired killer.

Alex and Gideon become stranded in a massive snowstorm. Snowed in at a tiny hotel, Alex isn’t sure which is more dangerous – her husband, who is likely coming after her? Or the dark stranger she’s trapped with? A man who’s clearly hiding secrets.


First Line:

Alex curled her fingers around the stem of the shallow glass as the loud, happy voices of her staff bounced off the restaurant’s walls.

Fool Me Once by Margaret Watson

I know that I have said this several times, but I love the romantic suspense genre. There is something about seeing a romance blossom while the main characters either fight for their lives or try to uncover a plot (or sometimes both) that makes me happy. So, it was a no-brainer for me when Margaret emailed me to let me know that book three was available for review.

Fool Me Once is the 3rd book in the Blackhawk Security series. This book can be read as a standalone novel. The characters from the previous books do make appearances, but they don’t take over the storyline, which I liked.

As with the previous two books, Fool Me Once is a fast-paced book. Right from the beginning, when Alex overhears her husband hiring a hitman to kill her, it was super fast. There was a small amount of lag once Gideon and Alex get to the Blackhawk Security compound, but the author could get the book back on track and keep the fast pace up until the end of the book.

Alex was a tough cookie with a backstory that broke my heart. At times, she came across as abrasive, and there were a few times where she was unlikable. But, in the end, I did like her and was rooting for her.

I wasn’t too sure what to think about Gideon. He came across as a bit stalkerish at the beginning of the book. His backstory wasn’t fully explained until they got stuck in the motel. Gideon’s backstory wasn’t as heartbreaking as Alex’s, but it was still sad.

The suspense angle of the book was well written. I liked that the author decided to go the Russian mafia/corrupt federal agent route. It made the book so much more interesting to read.

The romance angle of the book was well written also. I liked that the author didn’t have the characters jump right into bed with each other. Instead, there was a wait. There was InstaLove, but I did expect it.

I loved the end of Fool Me Once. I am not going to get into it, but there is a HEA. Plus, Alex’s ex-husband got what he deserved.


I enjoyed reading Fool Me Once. It was a fast-paced book with memorable characters. Plus, the romance was enjoyable to read.

I would recommend Fool Me Once to anyone over the age of 21. There is non-graphic violence, sex, and some mild language.

Chatroom With A View by Glenn Maynard

Chatroom with a View by [Glenn Maynard]
Chatroom with a View by Glenn Maynard

Publisher:

Date of publication: May 5th 2021

Genre: Psychological Fiction, Psychological Thriller

Purchase Links: Amazon

Format Read: Published Book

Received From: Author

Trigger Warnings: Mental Illness, Bullying, Domestic and Child Abuse


Goodreads Synopsis:

Lizzie Borden took an axe . . . and so goes the song depicting the 1892 axe murders of her father and step-mother. Research indicates that a killer gene could be passed down through generations of family members, and evidence begins with Lizzie’s ancestor who murdered his mother in 1673. Chatroom with a View opens with a bone-chilling episode, and what’s left of Troy Cullen’s dysfunctional family keeps him even further from the normal integration with society. Troy’s life further unravels when his ex-girlfriend, Veronica, announces that she is pregnant. Troy loses control and plots to do unto others as they have done unto him. When Veronica digs into his family’s past, she exposes this killer gene; she must try to balance her obsession for a family with shielding herself and their baby from evil. But Troy has his own agenda, resulting in an epic showdown.


First Line:

The wind gusts reached into the woods and sporadically shifted the little log cabin at its base, and the raindrops thumped the structure with little more vigor when they did.

Chatroom with a View by Glenn Maynard

When the author contacted me to review Chatroom With A View, I was on the fence about reviewing it. I left it hanging in my email for a couple of days while I thought over my decision. What ultimately made up my mind was the blurb. I wanted to know more about this killer gene. I am glad that I read this book, but man, was it dark.

Chatroom With A View is a fast-paced book. The author didn’t build up any backstory; instead, he chose to dive headlong into Troy Cullen’s messed up and complicated life. There was a slight lag in the middle of the book, but the author was able to get the book back on track.

Troy was a complicated character for me to connect to. I did feel bad for him because of the abuse. But as the book went on and I got to know his character, I started not to like him. The things he did were awful, and they just kept getting worse as the book went on.

The storyline with Troy and the girls (the waitresses who bullied him in school) was sad to read. Troy had so much anger from what those girls did to him. I was a little surprised how that particular storyline ended. I was expecting something more dramatic.

The storyline with Troy, his father, and the cabin was truly awful to read. I could understand why Troy was so torn about what to do about his father. I also understood his curiosity about the cabin. When Troy’s father told Veronica and Troy the story behind the cabin, it made sense.

Veronica’s storyline was a mess. She was severely mentally ill, and she started spiraling as soon as Troy broke up with her. She manipulated and lied her way to find him. Once she found him, she hit rock bottom. I won’t say much after that. I will say, though, I was surprised at how her storyline ended.

The end of Chatroom With A View disappointed me a little bit. I figured that what happened was going to happen but still. I wanted something more.


I did enjoy reading Chatroom With A View. It was well written with fleshed-out characters. I felt that everything that happened in the second half of the book was just there to be sensational. Also, I wouldn’t say I liked the end of the book. After a fast-moving plotline, I felt it was anti-climatic.

I am on the fence if I would recommend Chatroom With A View. It is a dark book that explores themes that could trigger people or, in the least, make them uncomfortable. There is sex (not graphic) and violence. There is minimal gore (at the beginning of the book).

The Deadening (Olivia Callahan Suspense: Book 1) by Kathy Peresta

Book Cover
The Deadening by Kerry Peresta

Publisher: Level Best Books

Date of publication: February 23rd 2021

Genre: Crime Thriller, Suspense

Series: Olivia Callahan Suspense

The Deadening—Book 1

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | AbeBooks | WorldCat

Format Read: Published Book

Received From: Author


Goodreads Synopsis

Olivia Callahan’s quiet, orderly life is shattered when she regains consciousness in a hospital and discovers she is paralyzed and cannot remember a thing. The fragmented voices she hears around her help her piece together that an apparent assault landed her in the hospital, but nobody knows who attacked her, or why. After a chilling struggle to survive, she awakens from a coma unable to remember what happened to her or anything at all, except she has been told she is an entirely different person. Or is she?

Now, in spite of a brain injury that has rewired her personality, Olivia is on a mission to reclaim her life. As clarity surfaces and she starts to understand who she was, she is shocked. Had she really been that person? And if so, does she want her old life back?


First Line:

The stiff bristles of the brush grew coppery as he scrubbed back and forth.

The Deadening by Kerry Peresta

Review:

One of my favorite genres to read is suspense/mystery/thriller. I love it when a book gets my pulse up while reading it. I also love it when it shocks me. So, when I was approached to review The Deadening, it was a no-brainer that I would accept it. I am glad I did because The Deadening was a fantastic read!!

The Deadening is a fast-paced book that picks up speed as it goes towards the end of the book. The author did a fantastic job of keeping the fast pace up throughout the book. There was a tiny bit of lag in the middle of the book, but I expected that. The author could pick up the pace again and keep it going until the end of the book.

I loved Olivia, even though I wished that more of her “before” the author showed her accident. The way she handled Monty was golden (and it was even better knowing how she was treated). I also loved that she decided she would try and figure out the events that lead up to her head injury.

I was not too fond of Monty. I would even go as far as to say that I hated him by the end of the book. But, as the author revealed things and different aspects of his character, I wanted to give him a taste of his own medicine. He was so pompous and didn’t understand that Olivia wasn’t the same person. So, I cheered at every little thing that happened to him—even the small stuff.

The storyline about Olivia, her brain injury, and how it happened was interesting. I did figure out who did it by the middle of the book, but I couldn’t figure out why. That came as a massive surprise to me. But it made sense considering who that person was.

The secondary storylines were well written also, and the author did a great job of merging them into the main storyline.

The mystery storyline was fantastic. The author was able to keep me guessing not only about what happened to Olivia but why and who was behind it. She threw out several red herrings (which I almost fell for!!) towards the end of the book.

The end of the book was terrific. Not only was the mystery about how Olivia got her head injury solved, but there were several other mini mysteries solved too. As I mentioned above, I was surprised at who was behind everything.


I enjoyed reading The Deadening. It was a suspenseful read that kept me at the edge of my seat. I am looking forward to reading book 2 (if there is one!!)

I would recommend The Deadening to anyone over the age of 21. It is a clean book (no sex and some kissing scenes). But there are scenes of attempted rape, domestic violence, and drugging a drink.

A Private Heaven by Dave Eagleston

A Private Heaven
A Private Heaven by Dave Eagleston

Publisher: Solstice Publishing

Date of publication: December 13th, 2020

Genre: Adventure, Semi-autobiography

Purchase Links: Amazon | Alibris | IndieBound

Format read: eBook

Received from: Author for honest review

Trigger Warnings: None


Amazon Synopsis:

Helicopter Adventure
Prison Survival
Family Struggle

A Private Heaven is an adventure-filled drama based on a true story. Like Norman Maclean’s A River Runs Through It, this is the story of two brothers as opposite as Cain and Abel.

When Dave, the impulsive, younger brother completes his tour of duty in Vietnam, he moves his young family to Newfoundland, where he embarks on a challenging, often dangerous career as a helicopter pilot. Dave’s older brother, a six-foot-four, muscle-bound convict, has Hollywood good looks, a charming smile, and a serious penchant for violence.

With the stunningly beautiful island of Newfoundland as one backdrop and the Oklahoma State Penitentiary as the other, A Private Heaven is brimming with helicopters, rescues, icebergs, poachers, a prison rodeo, and even a prime minister’s wife.

Dave quickly learns the harsh realities of bush flying and wonders what will explode first-his fragile marriage or his beat-up, antique helicopter.


First Line:

The stars faded as I stood on the breezy deck of the small oceangoing ship that ferried passengers, cars, and freight between Nova Scotia and the Island of Newfoundland.

A Private Heaven by Dave Eagleston

I usually do not read anything autobiographical or semi-autobiographical. They do not hold my interest. But, for some reason, A Private Heaven caught my eye when I read the author’s email. I did go back and forth on if I wanted to read it before I said yes. I am glad I did because A Private Heaven was a thoughtful, sad, and well-written book that kept my attention.

A Private Heaven is told in dual storylines with two different points of view. The first storyline (the one that starts the book off) is Dave’s, and it is in 1st person. The second storyline is Marve’s, and it is told in 3rd person. I had no issues with keeping track of the book when it went between storylines. The alternating POV’s made it easy.

The pacing of A Private Heaven was medium. It took me a couple of days to read the book. The book did have some lag in the middle of the book, but it quickly got back on track and stayed on track to the end.

I did learn more than I ever wanted to know about helicopters and flying them in A Private Heaven. I’m not complaining. I knew that this book was about a helicopter bush pilot from the blurb. But, I am saying that if helicopters came up as a Jeopardy subject, I would know how to answer them!

I thought that Dave’s life was exciting. He followed his dream by moving to Canada and, through hard work and sacrifice, he made that dream a reality. What I liked the most is that his bad times were not glossed over. All the struggles that he and his wife had been clearly outlined. But, also clearly outlined, was the steps that he took to fix them.

I thought that Marve’s life was tragic. It was hard even to imagine Dave and Marve as brothers. There was a point in the book where I thought Marve was going to go straight, but boy, I was proven wrong. I cried during his last chapter.

I enjoyed the end of A Private Heaven, if though I thought it ended abruptly. The follow up (not quite an epilogue). It detailed precisely where several vital characters were today. I loved seeing how these people prospered!!


A Private Heaven was an exciting and compelling read. It was medium paced with a fantastic storyline.

I would recommend A Private Heaven to anyone over the age of 16. There are some scenes of drug use and child abuse. There is one scene where the hero is criticized by someone who was anti-Vietnam War. There are some mild language and mild violence. There are scenes where Marve is incarcerated.

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

The Death of Vivek Oji
The Death of Vivek Ojo by Akwaeke Emezi

Publisher: Penguin Group Riverhead

Date of publication: August 4th 2020

Genre: Contemporary, Fiction, Queer, LGBT+, Africa

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | AbeBooks | Alibris | Powell’s | IndieBound | Indigo | Audible | Apple Books | Better World Books

Format read: eBook

Got book from: NetGalley as a Non Arc

Trigger Warnings: Homophobia, Transphobia, Domestic Violence, Rape, Incest, Violence, Drug Use, Alcohol Use, General Violence


Goodreads Synopsis:

What does it mean for a family to lose a child they never really knew?

One afternoon, in a town in southeastern Nigeria, a mother opens her front door to discover her son’s body, wrapped in colorful fabric, at her feet. What follows is the tumultuous, heart-wrenching story of one family’s struggle to understand a child whose spirit is both gentle and mysterious. Raised by a distant father and an understanding but overprotective mother, Vivek suffers disorienting blackouts, moments of disconnection between self and surroundings. As adolescence gives way to adulthood, Vivek finds solace in friendships with the warm, boisterous daughters of the Nigerwives, foreign-born women married to Nigerian men. But Vivek’s closest bond is with Osita, the worldly, high-spirited cousin whose teasing confidence masks a guarded private life. As their relationship deepens—and Osita struggles to understand Vivek’s escalating crisis—the mystery gives way to a heart-stopping act of violence in a moment of exhilarating freedom.

Propulsively readable, teeming with unforgettable characters, The Death of Vivek Oji is a novel of family and friendship that challenges expectations—a dramatic story of loss and transcendence that will move every reader.


First Line:

They burned down the market on the day Vivek Oji died.

The death of vivek oji by akwaeke emezi

The Death of Vivek Oji is one of the best books that I have read in the past six months (I would say year, but it is only February). I could not put the book down; that is how much I liked it.

I will admit that it took me a chapter or so to get into the book’s rhythm. But once I got the rhythm, the book went fast. There was no lag and no excess storyline. That made for a delightful read.

The Death of Vivek Oji is written mainly from the 1st person perspectives of Vivek and Osika. There are some 3rd person chapters written when describing the events around specific events in Vivek’s life (mainly their death and their mother’s meetings with the Nigerwives). Some people might have an issue with that, but I didn’t, which surprised me. I was quickly able to follow when the book switched perspectives and people.

The author did a great job of showing how repressed Nigerian culture was for gay/trans people. The main scenes that stand out to me were when Vivek grew their hair out, and their parent’s first response was to cut it. Vivek was not allowed out because of how they looked. Their aunt had a preacher beat them to “get the demons out.” It was heartbreaking to read.

I felt for Osita the entire book. He loved Vivek with his whole heart but couldn’t share that love with the world. Instead, the small group of friends Vivek and Osita had known. It must have been so tiring to live like that. My heart hurt for him.

There is sex in The Death of Vivek Oji. I won’t lie and say that it isn’t graphic because it is. 

The end of Vivek Oji’s death was one of the rawest that I have read to date. I am not going to get into it, but it was intense. I do like that Vivek’s parents finally understood their daughter and honored her. But, it was the final scene with Osita that made me cry. That poor, poor man!!


The Death of Vivek Oji was a fantastic book to read. It was fast paced and was able to deliver a heavy plotline with the grace that it was due. I am actively looking for other books by the same author to read!!!

After much thought, I will recommend The Death of Vivek Oji for anyone over the age of 21. There is a scene of attempted rape. There is talk of domestic violence. There is deadnaming. There is graphic sex.

Once Removed (Blackhawk Security: Book 1) by Margaret Watson

Once Removed (Blackhawk Security Book 1) by [Margaret Watson]

Publisher: Dragonfly Press

Date of publication: January 15th, 2021

Genre: Romance

Series: Blackhawk Security

Once Removed—Book 1

Once Burned—Book 2

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Indigo | Kobo

Format Read: eBook

Got book from: Author via BookFunnel

Trigger Warning: Child Abuse (not graphic but talked about), Domestic Violence (not graphic, talked about), mild violence

Goodreads Synopsis:

When Lainey becomes trapped in a burning building with her almost-divorced husband’s body, Brody rescues her just in time. And when she realizes the killer is now after her, she takes refuge at Brody’s Montana ranch.

Lainey and Brody have been fighting their attraction for years. But as the barriers between them fall, Lainey rescues Phoebe, a runaway teen, from the compound where her husband died. Now they’re forced to focus on Phoebe and an invisible threat.

Whoever murdered her husband has eyes on Lainey. Will their fragile new family survive a desperate predator? Can they protect Phoebe, identify the killer and find their happily ever after?


Synopsis Overview:

Lainey is looking for her ex-husband to serve him divorce papers. Knowing that he was working as a security guard at a compound, she heads there. Instead of finding him, giving him the forms, and leavingLainey finds his body. She is then assaulted and left to die in a burning building. Lainey is saved by Brody, a rancher who happened to be in the area.

Under suspicion of her ex-husband’s death, Lainey is forced to move in with Brody when someone tries to break into her house, and the police don’t do anything about it. Deciding to stop at the compound to see if any clues could clear her name, Brody and Lainey find a tween scavenging for food. Deciding to take Phoebe in, Lainey and Brody realize that even a well-fortified ranch can’t protect Lainey from whoever is after her.

Brody and Lainey also have to deal with their growing feelings for each other. Both of them have good reasons for wanting to take it slow. Lainey, it is because her husband physically abused her. Brody, it’s because his ex-wife played games with him. Also, Brody has a secret, and he is afraid that if Lainey finds out what it is, she will reject him.

Will Lainey find out who is after her and why? Will Brody trust Lainey with his secret? And will Phoebe be safe?


Once Removed is the love story of Lainey and Brody. What I liked about Once Removed is that it wasn’t an InstaLove story. Lainey and Brody had known each other for a couple of years before anything happened. Lainey was Brody’s accountant, and their attraction grew over the years instead of over a couple of weeks. Now, saying that, the book did move fast when it came to the relationship. Lainey and Brody were living together for a couple of days. But the author allowed their romantic relationship to grow.

The mystery/thriller angle of Once Removed was well written. The author kept me guessing who was going after Lainey and why that person was doing it. I did have a small suspicion, but that was proven wrong when the bad guy was revealed.

Phoebe’s storyline was well written, and I loved how the author merged them towards the end of the book. It also pulled on my heartstrings. The pain that Phoebe was feeling was transparent. Her gradual acceptance of Brody (and more immediate acceptance of Lainey) was heartwarming. I liked that the author didn’t get into graphic detail about the abuse and neglect that Phoebe endured. The little snippets that were shared were enough to make me go teary-eyed.

I also liked that the author chose not to go into details about the abuse Lainey endured. Yes, she talked about it, but it wasn’t graphic. I also liked that the author chose to tackle a problem regarding law enforcement and domestic violence. Instead of her ex being reprimanded, the sheriff’s office closed rank around him. They ignored what he was doing until they couldn’t. Sadly, this is more common than what we think, and I am glad that the author chose to showcase it.

While Brody’s secret wasn’t necessarily a bad one, it was still significant. I won’t go into what it was, but I could understand why he was hesitant to call DCF about Phoebe.

There is sex in Once Removed. It was tastefully written, and nothing was graphic. I did have to laugh in the events leading up to Brody and Lainey having sex. There were a couple of near misses with Phoebe that made me go, “Yeah, I can relate. “

The end of Once Removed was your typical mystery/romance. The reveal of the bad guy did surprise me. Only because it wasn’t who I thought it was going to be. The author also set up the next book in the series perfectly. And the epilogue was PERFECT!! I loved it!!


Once Removed was a fantastic romance/mystery. It was fast-paced with a mystery that the author kept me guessing until the end of the book. I cannot wait to read book 2!!

I am going to recommend that no one under the age of 21 read Once Removed. There is talk of spousal and child abuse (not graphic). There is an attempted murder at the beginning of the book and an attempted kidnapping at the end. There is sex, but nothing explicit.

Ghost Detective (Myron Vale Investigations Series: Book 1) by Scott William Carter

Ghost Detective (Myron Vale Investigations, #1)

Publisher: Flying Raven Press

Date of publication: June 19th, 2013

Genre: Mystery, Paranormal, Fantasy, Ghosts, Urban Fantasy, Thriller, Horror, Paranormal Mystery, Supernatural

Series: Myron Vale Investigations

The Haunted Breadbox—Book 0.5

Ghost Detective—Book 1

The Ghost Who Said Goodbye—Book 2

The Ghost, the Girl, and the Gold—Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Alibris | IndieBound | Audible | Kobo | Better World Books

Trigger Warning: Death, Drug and Alcohol Use

Goodreads Synopsis:

Everybody dies. Nobody leaves … Award-winning author Scott William Carter returns with his tenth novel, a spellbinding tale of a man who bridges both sides of the great divide.

After narrowly surviving a near-fatal shooting, Portland detective Myron Vale wakes with a bullet still lodged in his brain, a headache to end all headaches, and a terrible side effect that radically transforms his world for the worse: He sees ghosts. Lots of them.

By some estimates, a hundred billion people have lived and died before anyone alive today was even born. For Myron, they’re all still here. That’s not even his biggest problem. No matter how hard he tries, he can’t tell the living from the dead.

Despite this, Myron manages to piece together something of a life as a private investigator specializing in helping people on both sides of the great divide–until a stunning blonde beauty walks into his office needing help finding her husband. Myron wants no part of the case until he sees the man’s picture … and instantly his carefully reconstructed life begins to unravel.


First Line:

The first time I met Karen Thorne, I’d just clicked yes on two tickets to Honolulu for the holidays.

ghost detective by scott william carter

Synopsis Overview:

Ghost Detective had an exciting and somewhat sad plotline. Myron Vale, a Portland Oregon detective, was shot in the head during a robbery. That left him with an interesting side effect after he woke up from his coma. He can see and talk to ghosts. After a bit of an adjustment period, Myron has made peace with his unusual ability. He has also become a PI for the ghosts (use your imagination).

Myron agrees to take on Karen Thorne’s case when she asks him to look into her death and check on her husband. Hoping that her case would be open and shut, Myron is in for a surprise when he sees who her husband is. But obstacles are being thrown in his way by both the living and the dead. But with the help of his deceased wife and with the help of his former partner, Myron is determined to find out if Karen’s death was accidental and find where her husband is.


I enjoyed reading Ghost Detective. I liked that the author took a paranormal mystery and added a different spin to it. There were some parts (and characters) that I didn’t like, but it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of reading the book.

The book itself was well written with a fast-moving plotline. There were some predictable elements to the book, but those happened mainly at the end of the book. There was a bit of lag in the middle, but the book recovered quickly.

The mystery angel of Ghost Detective was well written. The author was able to keep me guessing at who killed Karen and the motive (which was silly when revealed). Also, Myron’s shooting was tied into that mystery. I won’t tell how but it made that angel very interesting.

There were some things I didn’t like about Ghost Detective. I was not too fond of Billie (Myron’s dead wife), and she drove me batshit crazy for most of the book. I figured out her secret, well, most of it, early on. I felt that she was keeping Myron from moving on with his life. Plus, she knew more about his investigation than what she was letting on, and that drove me CRAZY!!!

I would recommend this book to anyone over the age of 16. It is a clean book (no sex or kissing). There are some scenes with ghosts who died in gruesome ways (scalping, shot, drowned are a few examples).


Do you like paranormal mysteries? If you do, what are your favorites? Let me know!!!

Unleash (Spellhounds: Book 1) by Lauren Harris

Unleash (Spellhounds, #1)

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Date of publication: May 5th, 2017

Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult, Magic, Paranormal, Shapeshifters

Series: Spellhounds

Unjust—Book 0.5

Unleash—Book 1

Unmake—Book 2

Purchase Links: Amazon | Better World Books

Format Read: eBook

Got Book From: Amazon

Trigger Warning: Violence, Death of a parent, child abuse (talked about)

Goodreads synopsis:

Craving a gritty, kickass heroine? If you like guns, magic, & heartbreaking drama, you NEED this book!

Helena Martin doesn’t know who she hates more, the sorcerers who fired the magic-laced bullet or the gang-lord master who used her mother as a shield. It’s not the price she expected for escaping magical slavery, nor is the unstable power now pulsing in her veins.

Caught between her former master’s hunters and the Guild Sorcerers determined to kill them, she finds a safe haven at a dog rescue willing to take in a different kind of stray. But Helena’s newly-unleashed power is a beacon for her enemies. And they’re threatening the first place she’s ever thought of as home.


Before I start the Unleash review, I want to let everyone know that I will change up how I do my reviews. The whole beginning/middle/end of the book wasn’t working for me. So, enjoy the new format!!


Unleash is the story of Helena. Helena and her family were magical slaves for a gang lord, Gwydain. When the book starts, Helena, her cousin, and her mother were waiting to be rescued by Guild Sorcerers and Enforcers. As part of a deal, they would help take down the Gwydain and get their freedom back. But it didn’t quite go down as planned. Helena’s mother was killed by the Guild that was supposed to help them.

Those first few chapters were tough to read. The desperation and then terror that Helena felt was palpable. She was forced to watch as Gwydian murders a girl and uses her blood to prime spells. She is forced to act against her will when Gwydian is being attacked. She is forced to watch as her mother is shot by the people who were supposed to her. It was overall sad and a little overwhelming to read. I usually don’t get overwhelmed by events in the book (I have a pretty thick skin), but in this case, I had to take a break from reading. I had to gather myself because I identified with Helena.

Helena’s flight to Minnesota broke my heart. She was forced to leave her mother behind and run. Then, she decided to part ways with Morgan. While it was a smart move, it still broke my heart even more for her. She was 17, alone and scared to death of what would happen next. Meeting Krista and Jaesung was the best thing that could have happened to her.

The pacing of Unleash slowed down considerably after Helena met Krista and Jaesung. After the frantic, almost manic pacing of the first few chapters, it was a relief to see the book go to a much slower pace.

I liked that Helena shielded Krista and Jaesung from what was going on with her. They knew something was up, but they weren’t sure what it was.
I also liked that Jaesung and Krista’s reactions were natural when Helena told them a very watered-down version of what happened to her. What I mean by watered down was that she left out all the magic and shapeshifting. She stuck to the bare bones of what happened.

I did think it was a little ironic that Helena found sanctuary, and then employment, at a dog rescue. Why ironic? Well, Helena was forced into being a shapeshifter by Gwydian (her flashback to that was sad). Her shapeshifter form is an Irish Wolfhound. I also thought it was smart that she kept with Krista and Jaesung. The Guild wouldn’t attack her while she was with “mundanes.

The different types of magic were explained in Unleash. There was a cultural mishmash of the magics used. There were Hindu, Asian, and Celtic featured. I also liked that the author gradually explained the magical part of the book. It gave me time to process what was told.

The secondary characters were well written and fleshed out the story. Krista was one of the main secondary characters that I loved. She was loud and brash. But she was also one of the kindest people in the book. She had a softer side, and when it was revealed what was going on with her, my heart broke.

Let’s talk about Jaesung. He was Korean, having emigrated to the US when he was nine years old. He did Martial Arts (that scene at the wedding was AMAZING). He never gave up on Helena, even when he knew there was more to her story than what she was telling. I think I fell a little bit in love with him during the book. He was gentle and, most importantly, he listened. I wish I could pull him out of the book and clone him….lol.

Helena and Jaesung’s romance was a gradual thing. The author snuck bits and pieces of how Helena noticed Jaesung and how she felt safe with him. There were several near kissing scenes until that hot scene in the bathroom. What I liked is that their relationship didn’t feel forced. It felt natural and realistic (well as real as a YA Paranormal book will feel).

After a calming middle of the book, it picked up its pace again. It didn’t get a frantic as it did at the beginning of the book, but it was pretty fast paced. Helena learned much more about why Gwydain had made her family slaves. I will say that I was surprised by everything that was revealed by the Guild. All I could feel was astonished by what was revealed. A lightbulb went over my head because it made sense why Gwydain was doing what he did.

The real MVP of the last half of the book was Jaesung. He learned about Helena’s past and was cool with it. That did surprise me because I know if I found out that magic was real, I would be flipping out. He also tried, stress tried, to protect Helena several times. I felt he dealt with what happened to him at the end of the book pretty well, to be honest. I would have been flipping out about that too.

The end of the book was pretty good. I was a tiny bit disappointed by what happened to Gwydain. But he got what he deserved. The author did wrap up all storylines, except a couple, and I figure they will feature in the next book. There was enough left open at the ending for me to want to read book 2.

Overall, Unleash was an excellent paranormal YA book. It was fast-paced with a lot of different representation in the book. I am eager to read book 2. I would also recommend this book to anyone over the age of 16. There are graphic violence and talk of child abuse (Helena remembers sleeping with her father at 9 to stop a gang member from raping her). There is some kissing, and Jaesung and Helena have sex. But it is not graphic.