Goodreads Monday: The Reader (Immortal: Book 1) by M.K. Harkins

This is a weekly meme where anyone can choose a random book from their Goodreads TBR and highlight it This meme was formerly featured on LaurensPageTurners and was taken over by Budget Tales Book Blog.


Hunted, shot, and without her memory, eighteen-year-old Ann Baker wakes in shallow water on a deserted Pacific Northwest island. She is soon approached by two young men claiming to be her friends. Something isn’t right, but when gunshots sound, Ann is left with little choice but to allow Devon and Archer to help her escape. Soon she finds herself in their North Bend mountain compound, where the higher evolved humans claim to be mind-readers. While Ann heals, she realizes they believe her to be one of the last and most powerful of all – The Lost One.

She’s welcomed by most with opened arms, but not everyone is happy about her arrival. A jealous adversary has plans for Ann, which spirals the entire Reader community into chaos.

As lies, murder, and betrayal threaten to rip apart the once harmonious mountain dwellers, Ann is thrust into making a decision that could save or devastate not only The Readers, but all of mankind. But there’s just one glitch: by doing so it may require her to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Owl Manor: The Dawning (Owl Manor: Book 1) by Zita Harrison

Publisher: Zealous Arts Publishing

Date of publication: October 15th, 2018

Genre: Gothic, Horror

Series: Owl Manor

Owl Manor: The Dawning—Book 1

Owl Manor: Abigail—Book 2

Owl Manor: the Final Stroke—Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon | AbeBooks | Alibris | Indigo

Goodreads Synopsis:

A tale of unspeakable murder, a doomed alliance, and retribution from the beyond
Sometimes the tide sweeps us into a fog where dark forces are at work…suddenly good and evil become blurred. Powerless and defenseless, we swim toward it, and wonder if we’re going mad.

Eva is born in the wrong era. In 1800s America, women are required to obey their husbands without question and to submit to their presumed superiority. But Eva wants more. Willful and ambitious, she considers herself equal to men. But the times are unrelenting, and it is her curse to remain unheard.

Rafe is a misogynist. Born of a demented mother who shattered his childhood and family, he is forever tormented by a scathing mistrust of women.

The tide brings them together at Owl Manor, a place shrouded in darkness, forsaken by the sun. A place where owls breathe in the very fabric of the walls, and shadows wander the passages. Where good and evil blur.

Will Eva make the right choice?

Owl Manor – the Dawning, the first in a trilogy of Gothic suspense novels, is inspired by authors such as Daphne du Maurier (Jamaica Inn), Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Shadow of the Wind), Shirley Jackson (The Haunting of Hill House).


First Line:

The owl appeared from nowhere, its ivory wings billowing like a ghostly cloak against the dusky sky.

Owl Manor: The Dawning by Zita Harrison

Horror, mainly the gothic subgenre, is something that I tend to stay away from when reading for pleasure and reading for reviews. I can get easily unnerved by what I am reading, and with my husband traveling 2-3 days a week, I have learned to stay away from those genres. But with him being home (new job=more at home time), I decided to take a chance and read Owl Manor. I am glad that I did because this book was incredibly creepy and very heartbreaking at the same time.

Owl Manor: The Dawning is book 1 in the Owl Manor series. This is the first book in the series, so there will be no gentle suggestions about reading the previous books.

Owl Manor: The Dawning had exciting storylines. There was Eva’s storyline. Raised by her aunt and uncle, Eva is a headstrong, intelligent young woman determined to make it in a man’s world. But then she gets pregnant, is forced to marry a man beneath her station, and is turned bitter by these events. But, Eva is a dutiful wife and mother who follows her husband to Denver (in Kansas territory) during the gold rush. In Denver, she finds mind-numbing poverty. After her husband becomes ill from working in the mines, Eva is forced to find employment. She is offered a job as a maid at Owl Manor, a mansion decorated with owls in the Rocky Mountains. What Eva finds at Owl Manor is a home and a companion with its mysterious owner.

The second storyline is about Rafe. Rafe is a wealthy Englishman who is damaged. His deranged mother abused him, and he was also forced to witness his father being humiliated by his mother. After his mother leaves Rafe and his father, Rafe is dealt the blow of finding his father after committing suicide. Then, Rafe vowed to kill any woman who was a harlot (aka a prostitute). He thinks that by killing them, he is doing the world a favor. Moving from London to the States for school, Rafe settles in Morganton, NC, and continues his killing spree. He then moves to Denver and builds a mansion in the mountains. Rafe also continues killing. But, this time, something mystical happened, and owls started attacking Rafe whenever he left the house. Soon housebound and covered with scars, Rafe starts having manic moments where he destroys his study and bedroom. That stops when he meets Eva. Taken with Eva, Rafe can forget the horror of his past and suppress his urges to kill. But that only lasts a little while before Rafe has the desire to kill again. Everything comes to a head when Eva discovers Rafe’s secret. What will happen to Eva? What will happen to Rafe? Will his secret be kept at Eva’s expense, or will something terrible happen?

I wouldn’t say I liked Eva for most of the book. I don’t know if the author intended the reader to dislike her, but I did. Eva was very unpleasant until she went to Owl Manor. She was an inattentive mother who discussed why she didn’t want children in front of Abigail (yes, that led to issues). Eva blamed her husband for her financial straights, yet she did nothing (except beg and consider prostitution) until she was offered a job at Owl Manor. But, when she got to Owl Manor, there was a gradual change in her attitude towards life and her family. Her attitude toward life improved, but it worsened for her family. Those scenes where she visited her sick husband were tough to read. Even when she was elevated to companion/mistress to Rafe, I was still “meh” about her. But it wasn’t until the very end of the book that I started to feel bad for her. She had gotten herself and her family into a situation that would be impossible to escape. I wasn’t surprised at what happened to her at the end.

I felt terrible for Rafe, but I wouldn’t say I liked his actions. He was shaped by what his mother did and his father’s inaction. It was a classic case of nature vs. nurture, with nature winning this round. I firmly believe that if he had been treated better by his mother, he wouldn’t have gone down the path he did. I did find his reaction to Eva a little heartbreaking. In those scenes, you could see who he could have become if he hadn’t been abused or witnessed everything he did.

I found the use of the owls in Owl Manor very creepy. It unsettled me a little when the author explained that souls used owls to fly to the Underworld. I got chills whenever there was a scene where owls were involved. They were hanging out on the house, waiting for Rafe to come out, and then would attack him, sending chills through me.

The horror angle was well written. The author was able to scare the heck out of me by insinuating things. A drape that moved or a reflection in the glass. I got goosebumps just reading those passages!!

The end of Owl Manor was a mess. I don’t mean a mess writing-wise (nope, the author was spot on with that), but a mess with everything that happened. Also, add that what happened to Rafe at the end was anti-climactic. I was left shaken by what happened and looking forward to reading book 2!!

I would recommend Owl Manor: The Dawning to anyone over 21. There is violence, mild language, and very mild, non-graphic, sexual situations/scenes.


If you liked Owl Manor: The Dawning, you will enjoy these books.

Goodreads Monday: Pretty Broken Girl (Pretty Broken: Book 1) by Jeana E. Mann

This is a weekly meme where anyone can choose a random book from their Goodreads TBR and highlight it This meme was formerly featured on LaurensPageTurners and was taken over by Budget Tales Book Blog.


Love isn’t always pretty. Sometimes you have to break the thing you love in order to put the pieces back together again.

“Life is all about choices. Do I want pizza or a hamburger for dinner? Should I wear a red skirt or blue slacks to work? Do I take a million dollar check and divorce the love of my life to keep my baby brother out of jail? In case you’re wondering, I took the check. Now my ex is back in my life. He’s still angry and…he’s my new boss.”

Pretty Broken Girl is the passionate retelling of a marriage gone wrong.

From the boardroom to the bedroom, Dakota Atwell and Samuel Seaforth are locked in a battle of wits and desire. One of them will break. One of them will pay. Both of them want to win. Neither of them expects to fall in love…again.

This is Book 1 of a five book series. It contains adult language, adult situations, and hot steamy sex with a HFN ending. Although it can be read as a standalone, it will be much more enjoyable when read with the other books in the series.

The Diseased (Paige Hanson: Book 1) by S. M. Thomas

Publisher: A.R. Hurne Publishing

Date of publication: September 2nd, 2022

Genre: Dystopia, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Series: Paige Hanson

The Diseased—Book 1

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

Where is your husband?

Since waking up from the accident Dr Paige Hanson has been asked that question over and over. By the hospital staff, by her mother in law and by Government officials.

As she struggles to grasp the wisps of memory returning to her Paige learns that there’s more at stake than Leo’s whereabouts.

Turning towards the teachings of the one person she swore never to become she begins to realise that some questions are best left unanswered.


First Line:

“We were drowning. That’s the last thing I remember.”

The Diseased by S.M. Thomas

I like books that keep me guessing what will happen as I read. I also like books that do not fit into what you think a specific genre would be like (if that makes sense). But, most of all, I like books that suck me in, don’t let me go, and make me want more after the ending. Those reasons are precisely what The Diseased did to me as I read it.

The Diseased is the first book in the Paige Hanson series. And what a first book it was!! Seeing that it is the first book, I won’t tell you if you need to read the series first or if it is a standalone.

The Diseased is the story of Dr. Paige Hanson and the mystery of what happened to her husband the night their car drove into a lake. Paige has very fuzzy recollections of what happened and almost none of what led to the accident. Paige, a brilliant scientist, is released from the hospital only to be kept under surveillance at all times. What happened that night? What are Paige’s secrets? Paige realizes she isn’t the only one keeping secrets, but her secrets could kill her.

Paige was a highly complex character which, in my eyes, meant she was complicated to get to know and like. There were several different sides of Paige that were gradually introduced. They were: Paige the scientist; Paige the mother; Paige the wife; Paige the daughter-in-law; Paige the friend; and Paige the daughter/child. The author did a fantastic job of building up each side of Paige and then merging them towards the end of the book. At first, I wasn’t her biggest fan, but the author was able to change my mind about her during the book.

What surprised me the most about this book is that it doesn’t take place on Earth. Nope, the entire story takes place on a planet called Earth 2. There was a disaster on Earth 1, and a lottery was set up to select people to travel to Earth 2. Paige’s mother was one of those who had won the lottery. Nothing else was mentioned about the original Earth, except that it was burning. I figured everyone else died. The new planet was very similar to Earth 1, except there were already intelligent, human-like creatures who occupied it. Those creatures kindly allowed the settlers to build settlements. But, humans doing what they do best and started abusing the original lifeforms, which struck back. When the book begins (about 50 or so years after touching down), there is an uneasy peace. This information was told by Paige, remembering what her mother-in-law and mother had told her about her journey from Earth 1.

I wasn’t surprised by how the ruling government was. The original leaders of Earth 2 decided they didn’t want what happened on Earth 1 to happen again. They decided to remove the settlers’ customs and fundamental rights to make a more cohesive and obedient population. I was terrified and fascinated as I read this book.

I wish the author had gone more into Earth 2’s original occupants. All I knew was that they were human-like, could procreate with humans, and were pissed about what the settlers were doing. There was mention of an influential family with which Paige’s mother was involved, but that was it. Hopefully, in the next book, the author will explain more.

The mystery angle of The Diseased was well written. The author had a stranglehold on where Leo was and why they ended up in the lake. Her remembering those events was terrific and shed so much light on everything!!

The suspense and thriller angles of the book were just as well written. The author kept me in suspense about various plotlines (main and sub) that were going on throughout the book.

The storyline with Regina, Paige, and Franklin was very intense. As a mother, I could see both sides of the coin. I could see why Regina was pushing Paige to remember, and I could also see why Paige was protective of Franklin. Of course, a massive twist in that storyline took me by surprise. It made me rethink Regina (I was not too fond of her actions over most of the book).

The storyline with Paige, Leo, and the mystery of what happened that night was one of the most amazing ones I have read. The author kept me guessing about what happened to Leo and why Paige was driving. She let little details trickle down, gave slight hints, and got everything under wraps. So, when the author revealed everything, I was surprised.

The storyline with the pandemic and Paige hit a little too close to home for me. I did like seeing Paige’s process to develop a vaccine, but at the same time, I kept flashing back to quarantine.

The storyline with Paige and her mother was raw and difficult to read. It was tough to read because of Paige’s emotions. I could see how torn she was between wanting to have a relationship with her mother and, at the same time, she wanted to denounce her. I liked seeing her eventual realization that maybe her mother was on to something and waiting for her mother to do something at the trial.

The end of The Diseased was interesting. I was a little miffed that it ended on a cliffhanger, but it did its job!! I say that because of where Paige ended up and what she did after talking to her friends. I need to read book two and see where Paige goes next.

I would recommend The Diseased to anyone over 21. There are no overtly sexual scenes. But there is violence and language. There are scenes where a baby drowns, a man gets hanged, and another man is forced to denounce his sexuality.

Goodreads Monday: Lost Soul (Harbinger P.I.: Book 1) by Adam J. Wright

This is a weekly meme where anyone can choose a random book from their Goodreads TBR and highlight it This meme was formerly featured on LaurensPageTurners and was taken over by Budget Tales Book Blog.


Alec Harbinger, Preternatural Investigator

I’m the guy you come to when your spouse gets bitten by a werewolf, or your honey is kidnapped by a demon. I’m the guy who knows how to save your ass when an evil sorcerer casts a curse on it.

At least, I was that guy until the Society of Shadows sent me to Dearmont, Maine, a sleepy town that had a zero rating on the supernatural occurrences scale.

My plan was to spend my days sitting in the office with nothing to do except drink coffee and eat apple bakes made by Felicity, my new assistant.

But when a woman hires me to find out if her son has been possessed by a demon at a rich kids’ party, and a young man comes to the office insisting he’s been bitten by a werewolf, Dearmont goes from zero to hero.

Oh, and did I mention that someone in the Society wants me dead?

Time to sharpen the swords and go to work…

Goodreads Monday: Sign of Portents (Graystone: Book 1) by Lou Paduano

This is a weekly meme where anyone can choose a random book from their Goodreads TBR and highlight it This meme was formerly featured on LaurensPageTurners and was taken over by Budget Tales Book Blog.


Portents is a city like no other—and one that Detective Greg Loren can’t wait to escape. Since his wife’s death years earlier, Loren has looked forward to the moment he can leave the city of Portents for good—and never look back.

But fate has another plan for Loren. Called back to duty, Loren finds himself embroiled in a series of murders that has shaken the city. Together with Soriya Greystone, a young woman with unearthly powers, Loren must work quickly to find the otherworldly being that is killing citizens of Portents one at a time. Loren is tasked with deciphering the mysterious signs left at each of the crime scenes…even if it means traveling to worlds not his own to do so.

Fast-paced and thrilling, Lou Paduano’s debut novel Signs of Portents will leave you on the edge of your seat and turning page after page.

The Killings Begin (Spectrum Series: Book 1) by Bradley Pay

Publisher: Bradley Pay

Date of Publication: June 25th, 2022

Genre: Thriller, Romance, General Fiction

Series: Spectrum Series

The Killings Begin—Book 1

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | AbeBooks | IndieBound | Better World Books

Goodreads Synopsis:

Immerse yourself in complex romance and suspenseful serial-killer psychology that bend and break all expectations. Weaving together two innovative plots and completely unforgettable characters, The Killings Begin stands out as one of the last century’s most creative takes on storytelling. Don’t miss this thrilling debut to the Spectrum Series!

Gia Delgado flips her life upside down when she escapes from her arranged marriage and moves to Madrid. Finally, she can live the life she wants… if only it were that easy. When she realizes the lifestyle she craves is just out of reach, she enters into a contract with three complicated men. In exchange for an apartment and stipend, she’ll pretend to be their “no strings” wife, whether they want to display her in public or lead her to the bedroom. There are vital rules, though: They are all bound to secrecy, and no one is allowed to fall in love.

If you think you know what comes next, excuse me… you’re wrong.

Gia doesn’t know it yet, but someone sinister is destined to tear her life to shreds. From the outside, Tracey Lauch looks like the adopted son of a perfect high-society family. Who wouldn’t trust him? He works in the justice system, sits on his family’s art museum board, and even establishes a foster home to keep siblings together. These appearances mean nothing. As he tries to cope with his abandonment trauma, a reconnection to his past triggers him, and he loses control with deadly consequences. Now a serial killer, Tracey panics. Fleeing to Europe, he hopes that a change of venue will quell his murderous desires. Can he heal his past, or will his anger and pain enslave him forever?

Dive into an unpredictable world of secrets, murder, and psychological thrills unlike any other.

The Killings Begin was previously published as Murder in Zaporozhye.


First Line:

Tracey watched the family gathered under the canopy of new leaves and flowers on the red maple trees.

The Killings Begin by Bradley Pay

When I got the publisher’s request to review The Killings Begin, I was immediately interested. The blurb called to me. But, I almost didn’t accept the invite to review because I was going on vacation and didn’t believe that I could get to the book in a timely fashion. But something kept calling me (the publisher kept emailing me for an answer), and I decided to review. I am glad I did because this book was a fantastic read.

The Killings Begin had dual plotlines. One plotline follows Gia as she flees an arranged marriage and enters into an unconventional relationship with three men in Madrid, Spain. The other follows Tracey, a respected judge in Raleigh, as he struggles to keep his serial killer lifestyle separate from his “normal” lifestyle. Gia and Tracey’s worlds collide when they meet on a Spectrum cruise. What happens on that cruise will forever shape Gia and Tracey’s life.

What I liked the most about this book was that the authors didn’t hide anything. Right from the beginning, I knew Tracey was a serial killer and that Gia lived an alternative lifestyle (polyamorous). Instead, the author focused on Gia and Tracey as individuals, which I enjoyed. I learned about their motives (or, in Tracey’s case, triggers) for their choices and how those choices affected them.

I liked Gia. She had a great outlook on life, and she cherished her friendships. My only issue is that she didn’t end her contract with Sal sooner. I understood why she didn’t do it (loving an addict is hard), but in the end, she was forced to. I also loved how supportive she was of her friends. Overall, she was a lovely person.

I thought Tracey was a fascinating character and wished the authors dedicated more book time to him. I was fascinated by how he turned into a serial killer and his reasons. That scene with his mother explained everything. He was remorseful and horrified at what he was doing, and escaping to Europe was supposed to be a reset for him. I knew that it wouldn’t be and was eager to see when he would get triggered into killing. What I wasn’t expecting was who it was.

For 90% of the book, I wondered when Tracey and Gia’s storylines would meet up. When they did, it was a little anti-climatic for me. That is my only major complaint about the book.

The thriller angle of the book was well written. The authors did a good job keeping me guessing at what was going to happen next with both Gia and Tracey.

The end of The Killings Begin was interesting. The authors did wrap up most of the storylines (giving happy endings to Raul and Joseph) but left the other storylines open. But, there was also a teaser with Tracey’s frame of mind at the very end that I couldn’t help but think about after I finished the book. That has made me very curious and excited to read book 2!!

I would recommend The Killings Begin to anyone over 21. There is sex, language, and violence.

Goodreads Monday: The Shadow Rises (Witch-Hunter: Book 1) by K.S. Marsden

This is a weekly meme where anyone can choose a random book from their Goodreads TBR and highlight it This meme was formerly featured on LaurensPageTurners and was taken over by Budget Tales Book Blog.


This Week’s Selection

When a new witch threat rises, only Hunter Astley can stop them…

In the face of dark magic and evil witches, a secret witch-hunting society works tirelessly to keep them at bay. The Malleus Maleficarum Council have strict rules and practises for eradicating magic.
Due to their work, witches have been almost forgotten, relegated to myth; but rumours are starting to emerge of a new power that will throw the world into chaos.

As the only 7th generation witch-hunter, Hunter Astley is the best the MMC has to offer. With the help of his colleagues, it’s a race to track down this new threat and stop them… in any way he can.

Goodreads Monday: Shadows Wake (The Ruadhan Sidhe: Book 1) by Aiki Flinthart

This is a weekly meme where anyone can choose a random book from their Goodreads TBR and highlight it This meme was formerly featured on LaurensPageTurners and was taken over by Budget Tales Book Blog.


This Week’s Selection

Rowan Gilmore and her mother, Anna, have spent most of Rowan’s life running, hiding Rowan’s speed, strength and precognitive powers—but without knowing why she’s different, why they have to hide, or who from.
And Rowan’s sick of running scared. But she has to continue, because she also harbours a dark power that emerges only when she’s afraid or in danger.
A power that can kill indiscriminately.

When she moves to Australia, a street fight reveals Rowan’s abilities to a stranger, Fynn, and she must decide whether to run again or stay and risk discovery by her pursuers. Her mother has found happiness with a new partner and Rowan is reluctant to wreck it. So, after foiling another kidnap attempt, Rowan makes her decision. The time has come to stand her ground.

Fynn becomes and unexpected ally, with promises to help fight her unknown enemy – and to reveal the truth behind her extraordinary abilities. But what’s his agenda? Can he be trusted?
And who are the Mors Ferrum operatives he says are chasing Rowan? What do they want? What is the ocair thing they keep asking about?
Rowan has too many questions and not enough answers; too many unknowns – including herself.
For what happens if the darkness lurking in her mind wakes and comes out to play?

(Author’s note: Not a vampire, shapeshifter or zombie story, in case you were wondering)

Goodreads Monday: The Beholder (The Beholder: Book 1) by Ivan Amberlake

Around the world, people die under mysterious circumstances. Each has a sign. Each is a piece of a jigsaw puzzle. A NYC interior designer Jason Walker receives a message saying he is the final piece.

Emily Ethan, a startling beauty with supernatural powers, appears and tells Jason that powers dormant within him are about to wake. He is the only person who can prevent darkness from enslaving the world. He is the Beholder whose advent has been awaited for many years.

Setting out on a journey with Emily, Jason discovers the world he could have never imagined, but the greatest surprise arrives the moment he realizes he has fallen in love with Emily.