A Dead Man’s Eyes (Lisa Jamison: Book 1) by Lori Duffy Foster

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Publisher: Level Best Books

Date of publication: April 13th, 2021

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Series: Lisa Jamison

A Dead Man’s Eyes—Book 1

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Apple Books

Format Read: ARC

Received From: Author


Goodreads Synopsis:

Lisa Jamison has done well for a single mom who got pregnant at fifteen.
She’s a reporter at a well-respected newspaper and her teenage daughter is both an athlete and honors student. Though their relationship is rocky these days, Lisa has accomplished what she set out to do. She has given her daughter the kind of life she never had.
But all that changes when Lisa sees her daughter in the eyes of a dead man.
The cops call it a drug killing, but Lisa doesn’t believe it. She knows her ex-boyfriend was no drug dealer even though she hadn’t seen him in sixteen years. Lisa ignores warnings from her medical-examiner friend. She fails to heed barely veiled threats from the sheriff of a neighboring county. Instead, she risks her life and the lives of her daughter and their closest friend on a dangerous quest for answers.
The investigation leaves Lisa fighting for her family in a morbid, black market world she never knew existed. She learns that trust is complicated and that she, despite her cynical nature, has been blind. She trusted the wrong people and now she might have to pay with her life.


First Line:

It pays to be friends with the medical examiner.

A Dead Man’s Eyes by Lori Duffy Foster

I was intrigued when I read the plot for A Dead Man’s Eyes. A reporter shows up at the city morgue to view the body of a man she hadn’t seen in 16 years. That man is her ex-boyfriend and the father of her 15-year-old daughter. When told that his death was drug-related, she refuses to believe it. That starts her down a path where she soon finds that trusting the wrong people will kill her and the people she loves. Can she find out why he was killed?

A Dead Man’s Eyes is the first book in the Lisa Jamison series. Since it is the first book in a series, readers can read it as a standalone.

A Dead Man’s Eyes does get off to a somewhat slow start and stays medium pace until a little past halfway through the book. Don’t let the slow start and the pacing fool you; the author packs a lot into those chapters. Once Lisa watches the DVD, and the incident happens at the animal clinic, the book picks up pace. That pace doesn’t let up until the end, and then it explodes into something huge. Something I didn’t see coming and took me 100% by surprise.

I admired Lisa. She had overcome so much in her life to get to where she was now. She was the child of addicts and a teenage mother. She had made a good life for herself as a reporter. But, I wasn’t surprised when she decided to investigate Marty’s death. I mean, he was the father of her child. I would have done the same thing. I also like that while she was tough, she was also vulnerable. While it didn’t show at the beginning of the book, her vulnerability showed in the middle and end.

The mystery angle of the book was well written and gripping. The author did a fantastic job of keeping who killed Marty under wraps until the explosive climax. I couldn’t put the book down; it was that good.

I will warn that there is some gore in the book. There are a couple of scenes that made me shudder while reading them. The author also has in-depth explanations about the black market for human body parts. It was eye-opening and saddening.

The book didn’t end when the killers were caught. Nope. Instead, it amped up for a second, slightly less explosive climax. I figured something would happen with that person; I wasn’t expecting what happened to happen (if you know what I mean).

I am looking forward to reading book 2, even though the author didn’t leave any clue about what it was going to be about.


I would recommend A Dead Man’s Eyes to anyone over the age of 21. There is language. There is violence.

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

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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.

A Duke in Time (The Widow Rules: Book 1) by Janna MacGregor

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Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Date of publication: June 29th, 2021

Genre: Romance, Historical Romance

Series: The Widow Rules

Where There’s a Will—Book 0.5

A Duke in Time—Book 1

Rules of Engagement—Book 2 (publication date TBA)

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | WorldCat

Format Read: Unedited ARC

Received From: Publisher


Goodreads Synopsis:

Get ready for lost wills, broody dukes, and scorching hot kissing all over London in A Duke in Time by Janna MacGregor.

Katherine Vareck is in for the shock of her life when she learns upon her husband Meri’s accidental death that he had married two other women. Her entire business, along with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be a royal supplier, is everything she’s been working for and now could be destroyed if word leaks about the three wives.

Meri’s far more upstanding brother, Christian, Duke of Randford has no earthly clue how to be of assistance. He spent the better part of his adult years avoiding Meri and the rest of his good-for-nothing family, so to be dragged back into the fold is…problematic. Even more so is the intrepid and beautiful Katherine, whom he cannot be falling for because she’s Meri’s widow. Or can he?

With a textile business to run and a strong friendship forming with Meri’s two other wives, Katherine doesn’t have time for much else. But there’s something about the warm, but compellingly taciturn Christian that draws her to him. When an opportunity to partner in a business venture brings them even closer, they’ll have to face their pasts if they want to share each other’s hearts and futures.


First Line:

“He was a good man.” Katherine patted the family solicitor’s arm while the poor man hung his head in grief.

A Duke in Time by Janna MacGregor

When I saw that Janna MacGregor had a new series out, I was pretty pumped about it. I had read (and loved) The Cavensham Heiress series. My expectations were set high for this book because of that. I am happy to say that A Duke in Time did not disappoint me at all.

A Duke in Time takes place in 1815 London, England. Katherine’s husband, Meri, has passed away, and she is attending the reading of the will. To her surprise, two other women, both claiming to be Meri’s wife, also show up. Katherine, being a much better person, allows both women to move into their house while deciding who the legal wife is. Aiding her in this is her husband’s half-brother, The Duke of Randford. Unfortunately, Katherine is also hiding secrets. These secrets could destroy everything that she has come to hold dear, including her growing love for Christian.

I liked Katherine. She dealt with everything that life threw at her with grace. I mean, if I found out my husband married two other ladies, I would have flipped my lid. But, instead, she took them (and their companions) into her house and made them family. But she was also tough. She forced Christian to help her with untangled the mess that Meri left. She also dealt with business rivals with that same toughness.

Christian, I was a little more on the fence about. At the beginning of the book, he came across as kind of a jerk. He wanted nothing to do with Katherine (or Meri’s other wives). But, as the book went on, my initial first impression of him changed. He was a war hero and was dedicated to helping the soldiers that served under him. But, he also became dedicated to helping Meri’s wives, seeing who was the legal 1st wife, and keeping the other two from becoming “ruined.”

The main storyline was well written, and it kept my attention. I got involved in the plotline and couldn’t wait to see how everything turned out. There were a few twists and turns in the plotline, but I was delighted with how it turned out.

The romance angle of the book was terrific. Instead of having Katherine and Christian fall immediately in love, the author chose to have their love grow over time. It made me feel that their romance was true.

There is sex in A Duke in Time. For a Regency novel, the sex is explicit. There is a very hot mutual masturbation scene that made me fan myself. The author kept up that sexual tension until Katherine and Christian had sex.

The storyline with the secrets (both Christian and Katherine) was hard to read. Christian was just sad, and I couldn’t wrap my head around what his father asked him to do. Katherine’s was heartbreaking, and I couldn’t believe that it was used against her. But, how her’s was resolved left me shaking my head in disbelief.

The end of the book was terrific. The connection that Christian and Katherine have came across the pages. I had tears in my eyes. But the epilogue made the book!!


A Duke in Time was a great romance to read. I connected with both main characters, as well as the secondary characters.

I would recommend A Duke in Time to anyone over the age of 21. There is explicit sex and mild violence.

Ember of Night (Ember of Night: Book 1) by Molly E. Lee

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Ember of Night by Molly E. Lee

Publisher: Entangled Publishing, Entangled: Teen

Date of publication: May 4th, 2021

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

Series: Ember of Night

Ember of Night—Book 1

Shadow of Light—Book 2 (expected publication date: November 30th, 2021)

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Format Read: Unedited ARC

Received From: Publisher


Goodreads Synopsis:

I am a weed.

Unloved by my abusive, alcoholic dad. Unwanted by my classmates. Unnoticed by everyone else.

But I’d suffer anything to give my kid sister a better life—the minute I turn eighteen, I’m getting us the hell out of here. And some hot stranger telling me I am the key to stopping a war between Heaven and Hell isn’t going to change that.

Let the world crumble and burn, for all I care.

Draven is relentless, though. And very much a liar. Every time his sexy lips are moving, I can see it—in the dip of his head, the grit of his jaw—even if my heart begs me to ignore the signs.

So what does he want?

I need to figure it out fast, because now everyone is gunning for me. And damn if I don’t want to show them what happens when you let weeds thrive in the cracks of the pavement…

We can grow powerful enough to shatter the whole foundation.


First Line:

Even from our position on the roof, the alleyway reeks of cured meats and rain-soaked garbage, the stench curling upward like it’s as desperate to leave this place as I am.

Ember of Night by Molly E. Lee

I am going to start this review with a warning. There are graphic scenes of child abuse in Ember of Night. Not only did it trigger me, but I was shaking mad at every adult in the book (including Harley’s boss). How many black eyes and burn marks can you see before thinking, “Well, maybe something is going on, and I should get involved.” Shame on them (and yes, I was invested emotionally at this point). Because of how graphic the abuse got (in one scene, Harley’s father beats her unconscious), I highly recommend that older teens read this book.

Before you all go, “Oh wow, graphic abuse, yeah, not for me,” I do want to add that the author did mention the abuse in her author’s note, AND she gave resources out if you/someone you know is being abused. So a huge kudos to her for not only the warning but for making those resources available at the beginning of the book.

Harley was my hero for the entire book. Understandably, she had almost no self-esteem, and there were times where she wanted to commit suicide. But, she had a lifeline. She had her 7-year-old sister, Ray, to protect and take care of.

Harley dealt with the supernatural part of the book better than I would have. I mean, she was attacked by three different types of demons, found out that her martial arts instructor was a demon, and learned what Draven was all within an afternoon. I would have been in a corner, sobbing my eyes out and rocking back and forth. But not Harley. She went out and kicked ass (all while making sure that Ray was safe).

I loved Draven too. He was hot and broody. He had an instant connection with Harley that he tried to ignore. I mean, he was supposed to find out if she was the Key (it is explained in the book) and then kill her if she was. He wasn’t supposed to develop feelings for her or protect her from the demons trying to get at her. His backstory was even more tragic than Harley’s. He wasn’t abused like she was, exactly. Instead, he was an outcast because of his unique abilities.

Harley and Draven’s romance was sweet. They were not looking to fall in love with each other. There were sparks whenever they were together. I expected them to admit their feelings sooner but was pleasantly surprised when it happened later rather than sooner.

There is sexual content in the book. Harley and Draven do get together in Ember of Night. The author does a great job of leading up to them having sex with some heavy petting scenes before ending the chapter. It wasn’t graphic, but it was implied.

The main storyline was well written. The author did a fantastic job of keeping me guessing at what Draven was going to do when Harley grew into her powers. A massive twist in that plotline (involving Harley’s father) took me 100% by surprise. I had to put down my book and take a minute to process it, and it was that big of a surprise.

Several more minor storylines were well written and were successfully merged into the main storyline by the end of the book. These secondary storylines fleshed out certain characters and explained why certain people did things in the book.

The author did a fantastic job of creating a complex and diverse world where demons and angels intermingled with humans. I couldn’t get enough of the different races of demons or angels.

The end of Ember of Night was a shock. Not only because of the big battle scene, which was truly magnificent, but with what was revealed.

My only complaint about the ending was it was a cliffhanger. I hate cliffhangers!!!


I enjoyed reading Ember of Night. It was a well-written book that kept me glued to the pages.

I would recommend Ember of Night to anyone over the age of 16. There are graphic child abuse scenes. There is implied sex. There are scenes of heavy petting. There is violence, and there is language.

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

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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.

Hidden Fury (Annie Fitch Mysteries: Book 2) by Marie Flanigan

Hidden Fury (Annie Fitch Mysteries Book 2)
Hidden Fury by Marie Flanigan

Publisher: Red Adept Publishing

March 2nd, 2021

Genre: Romance, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Series: Annie Fitch Mysteries

Exposed Fury—Book 1 (Review Here)

Hidden Fury—Book 2

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Format Read: unedited ARC

Received: from Author for honest review

Trigger Warnings: Mild violence, talk of past child abuse, speculation of incest/rape


Amazon Synopsis:

As a former cop turned private investigator, Annie Fitch hopes to never be in the line of fire again, so she’s expanded her business to include installing security systems. She’s thrilled to be hired by Preston Farr, a farmer with a vandalism problem on his family’s historic apple orchard and farm.

Preston’s roots in the community run deep. His family has held the same property in Leesburg, Virginia, since the 1700s. The two get to know each other over the course of the job. When Preston asks her out after the work is done, she accepts. After all, Annie’s on-again, off-again love affair with her childhood best friend, Ford, is currently off. Why should she mope until he decides it’s on again?

What she intended to be a fun, casual romp with Preston turns serious quickly when Annie’s newly installed security cameras record startling footage. Family secrets begin to unravel, echoing over two hundred years of heartache and violence.


First Line:

They say when you’re dying, you see a light at the end of a long, dark tunnel, but when I was dying, I didn’t see that.

Hidden Fury by Marie Flanigan

My Review:

I like a good mystery. I like it when the mystery I am reading sucks me in and keeps me on edge for the entire book. I also like it when the characters are relatable. Sometimes, when I read a mystery, the characters are a little over the top. While in some cases, it is what the book needs, in other cases, it is a distraction. Fortunately, for Hidden Fury, I was kept on edge, and the characters were relatable.

Hidden Fury is the 2nd book in the Annie Fitch Mystery series. It takes place several months after the events of Exposed Fury. Annie, a PI, has expanded her business to include installing security systems. One of her first customers is Preston Farr, the owner of a historic orchard. His business is being vandalized, and he wants to find out who it is. Annie and Preston have an immediate connection and start a romantic relationship shortly after the system is installed. But, there is more going on at Preston’s orchard than just vandalism. After a skeleton is found in an abandoned, historic church on Preston’s property, Annie is compelled to solve the mystery of who it was. Will she solve the mystery? Will her relationship with Preston survive the truth?

The plotline for Hidden Fury was medium-paced which was fine with me. I like medium-paced plotlines with mysteries. It gives the plotline time to evolve (and in this case, it did) and for me to become engrossed in the book.

There is one main storyline with several secondary storylines in Hidden Fury. The primary and secondary storylines were well written. What I enjoyed is when the main storyline ended (when Annie caught who was vandalizing Preston’s farm and why), the author then had the storyline for the church become the main storyline. I enjoyed it, and I enjoyed how the author did it!!

There were a couple of twists in the plotlines. One was revealed in the middle of the book. I can safely say with that twist; I saw it coming. The other twist I saw coming but was stilled surprised (and saddened) when it was revealed.

The characters in Hidden Fury were well written and had a depth to them. Annie, by far, was my favorite. I was a little disappointed that her brother and Ford weren’t featured in this book.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Preston. He came across as a very indecisive man. I also wouldn’t have doubted the story that my great-uncle was telling. But, I can understand why he acted the way he acted. He was a decent person outside of the drama. I hope that Annie and his relationship are still ongoing in book 3 (if there is one).

As I mentioned above, I thought the mystery was well written. The author did throw some red herrings out to try, and they did distract me, but in the end, I figured out both. I still enjoyed the lead-up to both reveals.

The end of Hidden Fury was terrific. The author wrapped up the storyline and plotline. She also left some wiggle room for a book 3.


Hidden Fury is a well-written mystery. Even though I was able to figure out both mysteries, I enjoyed the lead-up to the reveals. It had an excellent medium-paced storyline.

I would recommend Hidden Fury to anyone over the age of 21. There are flashbacks to how Annie got her brain injury. There is also a mention of child abuse, insect, rape resulting in pregnancy, murder, racism, and a church’s desecration. There are sex scenes but nothing explicit.

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.

Ash Princess (Ash Princess Trilogy: Book 1) by Laura Sebastian

Ash Princess (Ash Princess Trilogy, #1)

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Date of Publication: April 24th 2018

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance

Series: Ash Princess Trilogy

Ash Princess-Book 1

Lady Smoke-Book 2

Ember Queen-Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | AbeBoooks | Alibris | Powells | IndieBound | Indigo | Audible

Format read: eBook

Got Book From: Library (via OverDrive)

Trigger Warning: Violence, child abuse (one very graphic scene towards the end of the book)

Goodreads Synopsis:

Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia’s family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess–a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner.

For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She’s endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.

Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn’t always won on the battlefield.

For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.


First Line:

The last person who called me by my true name was my mother, with her dying breath.

Ash Princess by laura sebastian

My Initial First Impressions of Ash Princess

Ash Princess has been on my radar for a while. I had requested it from NetGalley before it was published and got declined. I was pretty irritated by that since I had been reading posts from other bloggers about how good it was. Then, a couple of months ago, a lightbulb went off in my head. Why don’t I use the LIBRARY and see if they have it through Overdrive? So, that’s what I did, and after a month’s hold, I was able to get my digital fingers on Ash Princess.

I started Ash Princess by crying. Yes, crying. I sobbed my way through the prologue and the first few chapters. What Theodosia was forced to go through broke my heart. It also made me want to jump into the book and beat the living out of the Theryn and the Kaiser. When Theodosia was forced to kill her father while he was singing her a freaking lullaby, I lost it. I had to put my Kindle down and let myself cry it out.

I was suspect at Cress and Theo’s friendship from the beginning. Yes, I was that cynical person who couldn’t quite believe that the Kaiser’s executioner allowed his daughter to be besties with the deposed Queen of the land they had just taken over. My suspicions were somewhat confirmed when Cress became jealous when the Prinz started paying attention to Theodosia.

Speaking of the Prinz (or Soren), I couldn’t help but be cynical over his and Theo’s relationship evolved. He watched her being abused (whipped and beaten). He must have known of his father’s plans for Theodosia. Heck, I knew about them from the beginning. The Kaiser wasn’t subtle. Even the Kaiserina knew….smh. To have a romance, all of a sudden blossom between Soren and Theodosia, didn’t feel right to me. I mean, I knew it had to happen, just like I knew that there was going to be a triangle (Blaise, Theodosia, and Soren). It doesn’t mean that I had to like it.

Blaise, Heron, and Art showing up towards the end of the first half of the book was interesting. I say interesting because they were all escaped slaves they were all marked by the mines in some way. They were also dedicated to overthrowing the Kaiser and restoring Theo to her rightful place as Queen. I wouldn’t say I liked Art’s attitude towards Theo during this part of the book. She seemed to think that Theo lived this pampered life while her countrymen toiled. It annoyed me that Art would talk to her Queen that way.

The first half of Ash Princess flew by for me. The author did a great job of keeping my attention to the plot. There was no needless subplots or secondary characters cluttering things up, which I enjoyed.


Mid-book Impressions

As much as I loved the first half of Ash Princess, I thought the middle of the book was a little boring. I understand that the groundwork had to be laid for Theo and her group’s plan to work. It still bored me. I stopped reading the book for a couple of days because I got bored. But, once I got over that small bump, the book did pick up speed.

Theo and her group had a well thought out plan that Theo kept waffling on. Kill the Theryn, Cress, and Soren. Theo was OK with killing the Theryn. I mean, he was the one who slit her mother’s throat while her six-year-old self watched. But killing Cress, who was innocent, and Soren, who she was falling for, seemed like overkill.

Cress and Theo’s friendship did falter in the middle of the book. I was expecting it, primarily since Theo was tasked with killing the Theryn and Cress. But it still hurt to read. Cress was an innocent, and in Theo’s mind, shouldn’t be touched. I will say, though, I liked the 180 that Cress did towards the end of the book’s middle. But even then, Cress was looking out for Theo.

I was a little iffy on Soren and Theo’s romance. It was too sudden (like I said above). To go from him being apathetic to loving her within a couple of weeks made me go “meh.” It screamed of Instalove. Honestly, I thought that Theo was too emotionally damaged (from the abuse) even to form those kinds of attachments. But she did. That night on Soren’s boat was sweet, and it did show a different side of Soren then what I expected.

Blaise, Heron, and Art’s characters became a little more fleshed out. I loved Heron. He was a gentle giant who was a badass. I did feel bad when he explained his backstory. To lose his love to mine madness made my heart hurt. Art was still a raving bitch, but even that was explained. I felt that there was more to her character than what the author was letting on.


End of Book Impressions:

The end of Ash Princess was not what I thought it was going to be. A couple of twists in the plotline made me go “Huh” and “No way.” The author did an excellent job of wrapping up plotlines and setting new ones in motion.

I will warn you all that there is a very graphic scene where the Theryn whips Theo in front of the Kaiser and his court. It was a brutal scene to read. I was crying by the end of it. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Theo was ready to do whatever she could to free her people.

Cress and Theo’s friendship took a sudden and drastic turn at the end of the book. I did not blame Cress or Theo for how they felt. I mean, Theo did try to kill Cress, and instead, something else happened. I do think that if Theo acted differently instead of rubbing what happened in Cress’s face, maybe things would have been different? Who knows. All I know is that Theo’s actions created Cress, and Theo will have to do something about her.

I will say that Soren did come through for Theo after she was imprisoned. I figured that Blaise, Heron, and Art would be the ones to rescue her. So when Soren appeared, I was surprised. I wasn’t surprised at who Theo let loose in the dungeons, nor was I surprised at what was said to her. And I wasn’t surprised when Theo did what she did after the escape.

There was one twist in the plot that was left for last. I was taken by surprise, as was Theo. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it was like for her to have that surprise sprung on her. Poor Art did try to tell her but was always cut off.

Like I said above, individual storylines were wrapped up, and new ones were started at the end of the book. There was enough not written for me to want to read book 2. I need to see what will happen to Theo, Soren, and everyone else in the book.


My Overall Thoughts on Ash Princess

I enjoyed reading Ash Princess. It was a fast read with complex characters. Theo was incredibly strong, and she was lucky to have people who were willing to help her. Some scenes made me uncomfortable (the implied rape of Art and the death of her younger brother was one of them). I didn’t get Theo and Soren’s sudden romantic relationship, but I got why the author had it happen so suddenly.

I would recommend Ash Princess to anyone over the age of 21. There is violence, implied rape, slavery, and child abuse (implied and otherwise).