The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses by K.N. Smith

Publisher: Two Petals Publishing

Date of Publication: September 15th, 2015

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Adventure, Action, Urban Fantasy, Supernatural, Thriller, Mystery, Contemporary

Purchase Links: Amazon | AbeBooks | Alibris | Powells | Indigo | BetterWorldBooks

Goodreads Synopsis:

Welcome or unwelcome. Fate has arrived.

A suspenseful incident in a forbidden preserve heightens the senses of five friends. Sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell become super-gifts that forever change the world. But furious battles confront the boys as they try to understand their sensory super powers in a race to save mankind. With light beings and mysterious strangers complicating their plight, can the boys defeat the evil Druth before it’s too late? Get prepared for the twisting and grinding of this award-winning, action-adventure story — an edge-of-your-seat narrative for young and mature readers alike.


First Line:

An alluring midnight seeped through the preserve, where huge, wavy leaves dances beneath the moonlight.

The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses by K.N. Smith

Fantasy has been one of my go-to genres to read since I was a child. I remember reading The Hobbit for the first time and thinking, “I like this!” But I wasn’t a contemporary or urban fantasy fan until I was a little older. And when I say a little bit, I mean in my late 30’s, lol. But, once I started reading them, I liked that subgenre. When I was approached to read/review The Urban Boys, I considered how I felt about the genre/subgenre and decided to accept the invite. I am glad I did because this book was a great read.

The Urban Boys had an exciting and somewhat complex plotline. Five boys acquire magical powers that affect their five senses. They also learn that they are responsible for keeping a peaceful alien race secret and protecting the human race from a being determined to enslave them. But it isn’t easy because the boys need to learn how to control their powers and work together. Can they do that? Can they overcome Druth and save the world?

The pacing of The Urban Boys went from fast to medium and back to fast. It didn’t bother me because I could keep up with the shifting pacing. Plus, when it did shift, it allowed me to take a breather (as a reader) and process everything that had happened up to that point.

I loved that there were five teenage boys (all of various ethnic backgrounds) as the heroes/main characters of the book. The author did something I considered difficult and gave each boy a distinct personality. So, if the book shifted to that character, I immediately knew who it was.

As stated, each of the boys acquired a heightened sense that turned them into superheroes (for lack of a better word). They are (in no particular order):

  • Hearing—Jordan
  • Sight—Kinsu
  • Touch—Chase
  • Smell—Rhee
  • Taste—Alex

I enjoyed reading as the boys discovered what had happened to them. It was interesting to read each boy’s response. The responses went from thinking it was cool to wishing they never had it.

The villain in this story was an evil person, but I felt terrible for him simultaneously. He felt neglected by his parents and forgotten by people that mattered to him. But, it doesn’t excuse what he did. He used the powers he was given by the Naculeans and exploited them. He turned that power into a weapon of destruction and used it to hurt countless people.

There were a lot of secondary characters in The Urban Boys. I did have a minor issue keeping them straight until I realized I could make notes of them on my Kindle (and so I did). The main secondary characters were The Dark Stranger, Mason, and Alina Alcaraz Olivas. The other secondary characters consisted of Druth’s main thugs, the Naculeans, the parents/guardians of the boys, and Alex’s girlfriend. They were all well written. Some I wished I had more info on, and others I wanted were more involved in the plotline. But all added an extra depth to the overall plotline. I will say that I wouldn’t have been as cool as the parents/guardians were when they found out the truth.

I do want to mention the Naculeans. I found them and their backstory fascinating. They were genuinely peaceful beings who tried to help humans. But, I liked that the author made them make mistakes. The big one was telling Druth a half-truth about his powers. They realized that and ensured they had the right people (the boys) before they again bestowed the powers.

There is a lot of action in The Urban Boys. It primarily centered around the boys learning about their powers and fighting Druth’s thugs. I did enjoy it because it showed the boys’ growth as people and as a fighting unit.

A substory line was running in the background of The Urban Boys. It involved the parents of a couple of the boys, Druth, Alina, and The Dark Stranger. I was wondering how the author was going to tie everything together. I wasn’t disappointed and was very surprised by what was revealed.

The end of The Urban Boys was interesting. I loved how the author resolved the main storyline. It was a classic good versus evil battle, and I was on the edge of my seat. Of course, there is a lead-in to the next book, which I can’t wait to read.

I recommend The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses to anyone over 13. There is violence, mild language, and some kissing scenes (otherwise, a clean book).


If you enjoy The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Fives Senses, you will enjoy these books;

Shadowed Spirits (The Guardians: Book 4) by Reily Garrett

Publisher:

Date of publication: August 19th, 2022

Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

Series: The Guardians

Shadowed Horizons—Book 1 (review here)

Shadowed Origins—Book 2 (review here)

Shadowed Passages—Book 3

Shadowed Spirits—Book 4

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

One man’s curse is another man’s weapon.

Genetic engineer Neah Haversham thought unlocking the code to her psychic gift would ease the way to blocking it, something she’d wanted since puberty.
Unable to turn off heightened senses means experiencing life on a different level. Shiya, her golden retriever, is the only companion tolerated.
Within months of finishing her studies, she learns the life she planned has vanished with the rescue of a sarcastic, hardheaded teen with an unprecedented ability.
Ouray Bernard is a healer and warrior, a Native American who uses his skills to train other uniquely talented individuals. When called to help the woman invading his dreams, he can’t refuse.
Loyalties collide as each defends their position in the battle against a secret society determined to dominate them all.


First Line:

Concrete is porous. Most people think it’s the same as cement.

Shadowed Spirits by Reily Garrett

I was immediately sucked into the book when I started reading Shadowed Spirits. I was thrilled that Ouray was getting his HEA, and I couldn’t wait to see who Neah was and what abilities her character would have. I wasn’t disappointed!!

Shadowed Spirits are the 4th book in The Guardians series. Technically, readers could read this book as a standalone mainly because the author does go over what happened in the previous books in the beginning. I would, however, strongly recommend reading the first three books before reading this one.

As noted in the first paragraph, Shadowed Spirits are the love story between Neah and Ouray. This book starts shortly after the last book’s events and introduces Neah. Neah is a genetic engineer coming close to cracking the code of not only her psychic gift but everyone like her psychic gifts. But Neah is on a mission from her mentor when the book starts. That mission is to rescue a gifted teenager from people who wish to harness her ability. But that mission goes sideways, and Neah finds herself joined to Ouray’s group. Determined to keep the teen safe and finish her research, Neah doesn’t have time for romance. But as she gets to know the group, Neah realizes that maybe her research wasn’t for the greater good and was selfish. When her research is stolen, and the teenager kidnapped, Neah must put aside everything she thinks about her gift and use it. Will Neah and the group be able to rescue the teen? Will Neah come to terms with her gift? And more importantly, will Neah and Ouray recognize their feelings for each other?

I liked Neah. From the minute she was introduced in the book, I was fascinated with her. Her gift was unique, and I could sympathize with her frustration with it. It must have been not very good to live with heightened senses. I understood why she went into genetic research. She wanted a way to turn it off. It made sense to me. She mildly annoys me when she refuses to listen to reason with her research (it could put people like her at risk). But other than that, I enjoyed her character.

I was super happy that Ouray got his love story. A little of his background was released, and I wish the author had released more of his background. He was a stabilizing force with Caspar and Neah once they overcame their initial distrust of him. Plus, he trained them (which they both needed). I enjoyed his character a lot.

I wasn’t expecting Caspar and her abilities. Just for the record, Caspar is not her real name. She got the nickname because of her ability. Caspar can phase through inanimate and animate objects. She reminded me of my almost 17-year-old daughter: headstrong, spunky, and with a heart of gold. She cared more than she let on. I also was in awe of her ability. The more the author released, the stronger it got. She phased through a mountain to escape the bad guys while holding Neah in one memorable scene. In another memorable scene, she could phase her hand through a chest and grab a heart in her hand as an intimidation tactic. I cannot wait to see where her story ends up.

The romance angle of Shadowed Spirits was very slight and almost overlooked. I didn’t feel Neah and Ouray liked each other that way until nearly the end of the book. And that was only after Christine’s vision that Neah saw herself with a black-haired toddler boy.

There were zero sex scenes in Shadowed Spirits. Ouray and Neah kiss, but it is towards the end of the book. Honestly, I liked it like that. I felt that sex would have taken away some of the storylines with everything going on.

The author very well wrote the plotline regarding Neah, her research, the two groups helping her, and the group kidnapping people with abilities. Some of those scenes were gripping, and I couldn’t put my book down. I also loved what happened with Pandora towards the end of the book. Let’s say that she deserved what she got.

The plotline centered around Neah; her background and her abilities were interesting. I did figure out who Neah was related to by the middle of the book. But, I was still surprised when the author made the grand reveal at the end. It did make sense.

The plotline centered around Caspar, her background and her abilities were well written. I enjoyed watching her character flesh out during the book. As I mentioned above, I was in awe of her abilities. She was one of the more powerful, gifted people I have read in the series. Her background is revealed at the end of the book. She found out where she came from and how she ended up in the foster system. The only thing that the author didn’t release was her true name.

The end of Shadowed Spirits was terrific. The author wrapped up Neah and Ouray’s storyline and part of Caspar’s. But she left all the rest open and threw in a shocking bit of information that made my mouth drop. I have a feeling I know who the next couple will be, but I’m not going to say.

I would recommend Shadowed Spirits to anyone over 21. There is no sex. There is language and violence. There are also scenes of people being held against their will and drugged and kidnapped.

A Spark of Ash (Ember of Night: Book 3) by Molly E. Lee

Publisher: Entangled Publishing, Entangled: Teen

Date of publication: May 24th, 2022

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult, Paranormal

Series: Ember of Night

Ember of Night—Book 1 (review here)

Shadow of Light—Book 2

Spark of Ash—Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

The Seven―the Divine beings meant to protect the world―just declared war. On me. They took Ray, my baby sister, and now they’re using my boyfriend to do their dirty work.

Well, screw that.

I may not be able to wipe them off the face of the earth now, but I know what can.

Thanks to an Ather connection, I know about the Seven Scrolls. An ancient incantation made by the Creator to counteract the Seven’s great power, scattered into pieces across the world.

With the help of my new crew, we’re on the hunt. And with each located scroll, I face new battles, bloodier and harder than I’ve ever known before. But now the stakes are even higher, because Ray has always been my bright light in the darkness, and Draven is my hope when all seems lost, and if I don’t get them back?

Well, then I might just become the scariest legend the world has ever known.


First Line:

Harley giggled as I lean over her on the bed, laying a line of kisses down her neck.

Spark of Ash by Molly E. Lee

When I got the invite to review Spark of Ash, I almost didn’t accept it. I had read Ember of Night (and loved it) but didn’t get to read Shadow of Light. What ultimately made my mind up was that I was intrigued by the synopsis. I hoped the author would review what happened in Shadow of Light so I wouldn’t be lost. While that didn’t happen, I could still follow the plotline.

Spark of Ash is the 3rd (and final) book in the Ember of Night series. Readers cannot read this book as a standalone. I also strongly suggest reading the series in order.

Spark of Ash had an exciting plotline. Harley and Draven live peacefully on a plane in the Aether when Draven is kidnapped by the head of the Seven, brainwashed, and then kidnapped to kidnap Harley’s baby sister, Ray. Harley is given a quest that could save both Ray and Draven: She needs to find the Seven Scrolls. These scrolls, when united, can be used to counteract the Seven’s power. The scrolls are located in various parts of the Aether and Earth, and each comes with dangers. But Harley is determined to find them, even if that means facing the demons of her past. Can Harley find the scrolls? Can she counteract the Seven’s powers? Can she defeat the head of the Seven? Can she free Ray and Draven? And most importantly, can Harley get through to Draven? Or will she fail?

As I mentioned above, I almost didn’t accept the review invitation because I didn’t read Shadow of Light. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to follow the storyline. I was fortunate because the author briefly reviewed what happened in Shadow of Light before diving into Spark of Ash. Some parts confused me because I didn’t understand what was happening. But that was only for 3-4 scenes. The rest of the book flowed smoothly.

I loved Harley. She was a badass b*tch who would do anything for her family (found and otherwise). It was showcased when she didn’t hesitate to rescue Draven and Ray. She agreed to get the scrolls, knowing she could get hurt or even die. She was willing to risk everything to find them. I really can’t say anything bad about her.

I loved Draven, too, even though he spent 90% of the book with his memories wiped. He cared for Ray, even though he had no clue who she was. I wouldn’t say I liked seeing him as a mindless machine, though. After reading the first chapter and seeing how much he loved Harley and knowing he was in Ember of Night, I couldn’t come to terms with how he was in this book. But, once he got his memories back, man, he was something else.

The storyline with Harley and Cassiel looking for the scrolls was interesting. But I did feel slightly let down by how easy it was for Harley to get some of the scrolls. I was looking for more battles than what was shown. The only one that put me on edge was when Harley returned to her abusive stepfather’s house to get a scroll.

The storyline with Ray, Draven, and the Seven was interesting. I liked seeing how the Seven was splintering on the inside. I was curious about Ray and her abilities, but the author didn’t get into them. I am hoping for a book (or series) when Ray is a little older that will explore them. As I mentioned above, I wouldn’t say I liked seeing Draven without his memories, but that did serve its purpose.

The romance between Harley and Draven was terrific. It showcased that true love can overcome everything. I loved seeing Harley trying to reach Draven on so many levels while looking for the scrolls (thanks to the mate bond), and when she did, it was incredible!! I also liked seeing the beginning of a romance between Ryder and Wallace. Again, I hope for another series or a standalone book in this universe.

I thought the fantasy angle of the book was well written also. Having Hell (aka Aether) be a whole other dimension with layers was fascinating. Harley’s journey through those layers was eye-opening and made me want to read more about this universe.

There were several twists in the plot towards the end of the book. The one with a significant character broke my heart. I kept saying “Oh no, no, no!!!” when it was revealed what that person did. There was a twist with Harley that left me with my mouth open. Mainly because I couldn’t believe what Harley found out; not only did I not believe it, but I also couldn’t believe that this person had stayed in the shadows for so long. The biggest twist, though, was the end of the book. I did not expect it to go the way it did. It only made me want to read more from this universe.

As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, the end of the book took me by surprise. Mainly because of everything that happened and was revealed. The author did wrap up Draven and Harley’s storyline, but I am hoping for more books in this universe.

I would recommend Spark of Ash for anyone over 16. There are mild sexual scenes (kissing but no sex), violence, and language.

The Date from Hell (Not Your Average Hot Guy: Book 2) by Gwenda Bond

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

Date of publication: April 5th, 2022

Series: Not Your Average Hot Guy

Not Your Average Hot Guy—Book 1 (review here)

The Date from Hell—Book 2

Genre: Romance, Paranormal, New Adult, Contemporary

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

“The apocalyptic beach read that everyone needs.” – Alix E. Harrow, Hugo Award-winning author on Not Your Average Hot Guy

In The Date from Hell, the sequel to Not Your Average Hot Guy, New York Times bestselling author Gwenda Bond brings the journey of Callie, Luke, and their friends to a wonderful close. This is another laugh-out-loud, action-packed romantic adventure you won’t want to miss.

After saving the world and stopping the apocalypse, Callie and Luke are looking forward to a quiet, romantic weekend together. When you’re human and dating the Prince of Hell, quiet moments are hard to come by. But their romantic weekend in Hell takes a turn when Lucifer tasks Callie and Luke with chasing a wayward soul around the world. If they can prove it’s possible to redeem a soul, Lucifer will allow the two of them to make some changes in Hell.

But this wayward soul, Sean, doesn’t have any interest in being redeemed. Instead, now that he’s back on Earth, he’s decided to take a leaf out of Callie and Luke’s book and wants to find the Holy Grail. Now Callie, Luke, and their friends—and enemies—must race Sean around the globe on a Grail quest and bring peace between Heaven and Hell before they can finally (maybe) get around to that date.


First Line:

I stand on my tiptoes to slide a book with a thick black spine adorned with golden skulls – Being the Rules of the Kingdom of Hell, Vol 99 – back into its place on the shelf.

The Date from hell by gwenda bond

When I finished Not Your Average Hot Guy, I immediately wanted to read the next book in the series. That is how much I loved Callie and Luke’s relationship. I kept checking Gwenda Bond’s Goodreads and when I saw that The Date From Hell had its own Goodreads page, I prayed to the book gods that I got an ARC of this book. My prayer was answered when SMP contacted me about reading/reviewing The Date From Hell. I was so excited about reading this book. And, I am happy to report that this book more than lived up to my expectations.

The Date From Hell takes place a couple of months after the events of Not Your Average Hot Guy. Callie, Luke, and her family are almost at the end of rebuilding the escape room business destroyed by the events in book 1. Callie has also wanted to change one of Hell’s rules regarding people who commit morally gray crimes and end up in Hell. Satan surprisingly agrees when she brings that up but gives her a 3-day quest to redeem a soul of his choice. If she succeeds, he will allow the changes. But if she doesn’t, she will have to forfeit something. But, dealing with Satan is always tricky, and he wasn’t exactly honest about who the soul was and if it even wanted to be redeemed. As secrets come to light, soon Luke and Callie are fighting for more than a single soul. What is that secret that they discovered? And is it worth risking everything (including their lives) to go through with the quest?

The Date from Hell is book 2 in the Not Your Average Hot Guy series. While you could read this as a standalone book, I highly suggest reading book one first. That way, you could understand the backstories referenced in this one. If you don’t want to read the book, then I suggest reading the reviews for a quick overlook.

I loved Callie in this book. She continued to be this badass who wasn’t afraid to go toe to toe with Satan. She had no filter, which was generally hilarious but sometimes got her into trouble. The only thing I did fault her for was that she was almost too stubborn, and she seemed to like poking Soraya the Rude all the time. I loved seeing how passionate she was about redeeming those souls she felt got the short end of the stick by being stuck in Hell.

I loved that the author chose to go the route she did with Luke. While I loved Luke, I felt that he was afraid to get seriously involved with Callie from book one. The part of the book where Luke was human was huge because his feelings were more real to me. He did come across as overprotective at times, but I wasn’t surprised. His character had some tremendous growth to it throughout the book.

I couldn’t understand why the author had so much focus on Sean until the middle of the book. Then a giant lightbulb went on over my head. I got a little grumpy with Satan at that point too. That was one of the many times after the middle of the book that I got cranky with him.

The storyline with the quest to redeem Sean’s soul that morphed into a quest to find the Holy Grail was interesting. I enjoyed seeing The Guardian’s city (even if I did think that people were bloodthirsty). I also loved how the author introduced Guinevere and Arthur and how they were involved in that quest. It was an exciting way to do that part of the quest, and I loved it.

The storyline with Callie wanting to change some of the laws in Hell had a fascinating twist. I was astonished when it went the way it did and felt I should have seen it coming. But it was perfect and very fitting for Callie!!

Callie and Luke’s romance was one of the sweetest that I have read. I loved that the author took it slow with them, that there was no Instalove. Instead, their relationship was allowed to progress naturally. That alone made this book enjoyable to read for me.

There is sex in The Date from Hell, but it isn’t graphic. And, surprisingly (well, to me at least), it is Callie and Luke’s first time after dating for months.

The end of The Date from Hell was interesting. I liked the twist that the author put in there with Callie. It did make sense, but at the time, I was internally screaming, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?????

I am looking forward to reading book three and seeing where all the different relationships are and if that twist is working.

I would recommend The Date from Hell to anyone over 16. There is mild language, violence, and sexual situations/scenes.

In a Garden Burning Gold (Argyrosi: Book 1) by Rory Power

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Ray

Date of Publication: April 5th, 2022

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, High Fantasy, Paranormal

Series: Argyrosi

In a Garden Burning Gold—Book 1

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

Twins imbued with incredible magic and near-immortality will do anything to keep their family safe—even if it tears the siblings apart—in the first book of mythic epic fantasy from the New York Times bestselling author of Wilder Girls.

Rhea and her twin brother, Lexos, have spent an eternity helping their father rule their small, unstable country, using their control over the seasons, tides, and stars to keep the people in line. For a hundred years, they’ve been each other’s only ally, defending each other and their younger siblings against their father’s increasingly unpredictable anger.

Now, with an independence movement gaining ground and their father’s rule weakening, the twins must take matters into their own hands to keep their family—and their entire world—from crashing down around them. But other nations are jockeying for power, ready to cross and double-cross, and if Rhea and Lexos aren’t careful, they’ll end up facing each other across the battlefield.


First Line:

A week was too long to be a widow.

in a garden burning bright by rory power

When I got the invite for In a Garden Burning Gold, I was intrigued by the blurb. A book about near immortals who control the tides and seasons of their country? It was an immediate yes from me. I was super hyped to read another book by this author (having read The Wilder Girls), and I did expect something very similar to that book. But, this book was very different from that book.

In a Garden Burning Gold is the first book of the Argyrosi duology. This book lays the foundation of the different families, their powers, and how they came by them. It also explains a complex religious system. The author was kind enough to include a glossary at the beginning of the book that details the different families and countries. But, even with that, I still had an issue keeping people/countries straight.

The plotline for In a Garden Burning Gold was interesting. Rhea and Lexos are twins who serve their father in ruling their country. Each has a magical power: Rhea can control the seasons, and Lexos can control the tides and stars. Their father uses their powers to his advantage. Rhea is married several times a year and uses her husband to usher in the seasons as a human sacrifice. Lexos only controls the stars and tides when directed by their father. But there has been stirrings of unrest in their country and other countries. As Rhea is married off to the only son of a northern ruler, Lexos is left behind to deal with his father’s increasingly erratic behavior. But some secrets will impact Rhea and Lexos’s relationship with not only each other but their father. These secrets are explosive and could rewrite everything they thought they knew about their family. But are Lexos and Rhea willing to let that happen?

I am going to put a trigger warning in this review. I usually don’t, but I feel that certain situations in the book warrant it. Per the author’s post on her blog, these triggers are emotional and physical abuse by a parent, death, manipulation/discussion of loss of agency, discussion of state violence and war, a history of imperialism, and mention/description of blood. If any of these could potentially trigger you, I highly suggest not reading this book.

Out of all the characters in In a Garden Burning Gold, Rhea was my favorite. She wasn’t a precisely likable character, but I loved seeing her evolve from a self-centered, father-pleasing woman to a woman who embraced everything about herself and found the courage to become who she was destined to be. It was like watching a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, it was a little painful to read, but the result was terrific. I am curious to see what she will do in book two since she has embraced her mother’s legacy.

I wasn’t that fond of Lexos, on the other hand. Outside influences easily led him (certain scenes with the ruler of a different country showed that), and he was terrified of his father. Now that I understood. His actions were directly related to his fear of his father. So, I was surprised when he decided to do what he did in the second half of the book. He meant well, but I wasn’t surprised when it blew up in his face. I also wasn’t surprised when Rhea had the reaction that she did.

The younger siblings intrigued me. I thought Nitsos’s powers were terrific (even if his father didn’t). I wanted the author to explore his character a little more. But I feel that he will become a significant player in the second book. Chrsyanthi was an enigma. I couldn’t quite place her power (it was something to do with paint), and I hope that the author thoroughly explains it in book 2. I could have missed it, but I expected her power to be very obvious.

The storyline with Rhea being Thyspira was engrossing. I was fascinated by the fact that she needed to have a sacrifice to bring about winter and summer. It made me wonder how human sacrifice was brought into play and if the author would explain that in book 2. I also loved how it evolved. I can’t say anything without giving away spoilers, but I will say that I found it very fitting.

Lexos’s storyline was also exciting, but I was a little bored by it. I am not a hugely political person, so the talk about overthrowing rulers bored me a little bit. But it did get interesting towards the end of the book. I can’t wait to see where Lexos ends up in book 2.

The end of In a Garden Burning Bright was exciting. Again, I can’t say much about what happened, but I will say that I agree with what Rhea was doing. I didn’t quite agree with the other thing she did, but I understood why she did it. It hooked me in for the next book.

I would recommend In a Garden Burning Bright to anyone over 21. There are several triggers (see above). There is also mild language, violence, and non-graphic sexual situations.

I Am Margaret Moore by Hannah Capin

Book Cover

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books

Date of Publication: March 15th, 2022

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Paranormal

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

Lyrical and haunting, Hannah Capin’s I Am Margaret Moore is a paranormal thriller that tests the hold of sisterhood and truth.

I am a girl. I am a monster, too.

Each summer the girls of Deck Five come back to Marshall Naval School. They sail on jewel-blue waters; they march on green drill fields; they earn sunburns and honors. They push until they break apart and heal again, stronger.

Each summer Margaret and Rose and Flor and Nisreen come back to the place where they are girls, safe away from the world: sisters bound by something more than blood.

But this summer everything has changed. Girls are missing and a boy is dead. It’s because of Margaret Moore, the boys say. It’s because of what happened that night in the storm.

Margaret’s friends vanish one by one, swallowed up into the lies she has told about what happened between her and a boy with the world at his feet. Can she unravel the secrets of this summer and last, or will she be pulled under by the place she once called home?


First Line:

It is summer again and we are alive.

i am margaret moore by hannah capin

When I got the email from NetGalley that I Am Margaret Moore was available to “Read Now,” I jumped on it. I had this book on my TBR since I saw that Hannah Capin was publishing it. I had loved Foul is Fair and had high expectations for this book. Well, I Am Margaret Moore fell short of my high expectations.

I Am Margaret Moore is the story of Margaret and her friends. The summer before, Margaret was involved in a scandal with another camper and was sent away. This summer, she was going to move past the drama and enjoy her summer. But things don’t go the way she wants. Her friends want the truth about what happened last summer, and Margaret isn’t telling them. Because if she tells the truth, she’s afraid no one will believe her. What happened that night?

I will be very blunt; I wasn’t a fan of how the author wrote this book. There are no chapters. Instead, once a scene ended, some headers separated them (example: The Girls with paragraphs describing Margaret’s friends). I get why the author chose to write the book she did, but I like cut-and-dry chapters.

The flow of I Am Margaret Moore was choppy, and the timeline jumped around a lot. I couldn’t tell if I was in the past or present. Again, I get why the author did this, but for me, it didn’t work.

I wasn’t too sure about how I felt about Margaret. During the first half of the book, I couldn’t connect with her at all. But, by the second half of the book, I did start to like and pity her. Yes, pity. She had so much happened to her in a short amount of time.

Margaret’s friends were the true backbone of the book. They were determined to find out what happened to Margaret. That led to disciplinary action from the naval school, but that didn’t deter them.

There are a couple of twists in the plot that I saw coming. I guessed the first one right away, and once certain events happened in the second half of the book, I figured that out too.

I wasn’t a fan of the end of I Am Margaret Moore. Again, it was choppy, with events playing out of order—the choppiness and the fact that the HEA seemed thrown on as an afterthought.

I would recommend I Am Margaret Moore to anyone over the age of 16. There is implied sex, some kissing scenes, mild language, and mild violence.

Golem by P.D. Alleva

Publisher: Quill and Birch Publishing

Date of publication: October 5th, 2021

Genre: Horror, Paranormal

Purchase links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

Detective. Angel. Victim. Devil.

A haunting tale of suspense, loss, isolation, contempt, and fear.

On November 1, 1951, war hero John Ashton was promoted to detective. His first assignment: find the district attorney’s missing daughter. But his only lead is Alena Francon, a high society sculptor and socialite committed to Bellevue’s psychiatric facility.

Alena has a story for the new detective. A story so outlandish John Ashton refuses to heed the warning. Alena admits to incarnating Golem, a demonic force, into her statue. A devil so profound he’s infiltrated every part of New York’s infrastructure. Even worse, he uses children to serve as bodily hosts for his demonic army, unleashing a horde of devils into our world.

When Alena’s confidant, Annette Flemming, confirms the existence of Golem, John is sent on a collision course where fate and destiny spiral into peril, and the future of the human race hangs in the balance.


First Line:

Annette Flemming sat on a wooden stool with a large round salad bowl filled with candy – Charleston Chews and Tootsie Rolls – at her feet waiting for the next trick-or-treater.

golem by p.d. alleva

I am a massive fan of the horror genre. But lately, I haven’t been reading much horror. I haven’t found a book in the genre that interested me. That was until I read the blurb for Golem. I thought that this book would be a perfect way to break back into the genre. And guess what? It was!!! I couldn’t put it down.

Golem had an exciting plotline. Alena is a well-known high society sculptor and socialite in Bellevue. She had set fire to her family’s legendary hotel after suffering a mental collapse. John is a newly promoted detective who has been tasked with finding the missing daughter of the local DA. His investigation leads him to Alena, and she tells a story that seems impossible. But the more John investigates, the more Alena’s story seems the truth. Will John find the daughter? Will his investigation find out if Alena is telling the truth? And who or what is Golem, and what role does he play in Alena’s descent into madness?

Golem was a fast-paced book that kept its pacing up for the entire book. There was some lag towards the middle of the book, but that did not take away from how much I enjoyed the book.

I liked John but found him naive at the beginning of the book. I also felt terrible because he was given such a complex case. But, as the book went on, he lost his naiveness and progressed into a character willing to solve this case no matter what. And he did, but it was at such a cost that it did change him.

I liked Alena. She came across as such a simple character at the beginning of the book. I mean, she was at Bellevue for a reason. But her character grew during her chapters, and I loved it. She went from a somewhat shallow character to one with so much strength (inner and outer) that I was amazed by it.

Golem was such a fascinating character to read. Of course, he was pure evil, but I still hope that he wouldn’t end up that way when he was created. He had layers that I didn’t think a villain would have. He scared me to the point where I had to finish this book during the daytime, and I don’t scare easily.

The horror angle of Golem was wonderfully written. There is so much that I want to say here, but I can’t. I will say that I haven’t been this scared while reading a book in a very long time. I was sufficiently spooked during Alena’s retelling of how Golem came to be and his rise. A couple of scenes will never leave me, but the one that stands out to me the most is with the newborn baby. I knew during that point that I had to read this book during the day, and I had nightmares about it at night.

Golem is full of trigger warnings. I will warn you that you should go into this book knowing about them. The trigger warnings are child abuse, gore, and talk of pedophilia. There might be more, but I remember these major ones. I strongly suggest not reading this book if any triggers you.

The end of Golem was not what I expected. There was a massive twist in the plotline. It was so huge that I didn’t see it coming, and I wasn’t a fan of what the author had the main characters (well, mainly John) do. This book did not end with a happy ending. I was shocked by the very last chapters of the book. So shocked that I did wonder if the author was setting up for another book.

I would recommend Golem to anyone over the age of 21. There is sex, gore, violence, and mild language.

The Voinico’s Daughter (The Vanator Vampire Hunters: Book 1) by Sallie Cochren and Elsie Marie Cochren

Book Cover

Publisher:

Date of publication: December 23rd 2021

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Thriller

Series: The Vanator Vampire Hunter Series

The Voinico’s Daughter—Book 1

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

Watch out, vampires! There’s a new girl in town!

Nicoleta has never taken a life before, but she will have to make her first kill soon. Typical of girls her age, her concerns are boys and college. But when she takes a trip to Romania with several of her classmates to celebrate graduating from high school, Nicoleta is going to discover who she really is. When Nicoleta learns that she is adopted and that her biological parents live in Romania, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Finding out that her birthright is hunting and killing vampires, Nicoleta has to decide if she will remain in Romania and fulfill her destiny or if she will return to America and try to forget about the nightmare of a world that she has been thrown into.

Adding to Nicoleta’s problems, a notorious vampire named Varujan has been waiting for Nicoleta’s arrival. Her parents are called voinicos because they survived being bitten by a vampire. By birth, a voinico’s child becomes a vampire hunter, also known as a vanator. Varujan has known that the voinico’s daughter would eventually return to Romania, and he is looking forward to meeting her and killing her. With his vampire mistress, Antanasia, Varujan seems unstoppable.

Is Nicoleta ready to face Varujan and Antanasia? The other vanators have been training to kill vampires since they were children. Will Nicoleta be able to catch up with her training and be ready for the battle that is inevitably coming? Can she keep herself and her friends safe, or will they become the vampires’ victims before their trip is over? Whatever happens, one thing is for sure. Nicoleta’s life is never going to be the same again!


First Line:

As she walked along the abandoned pathway, Nicoleta had an overwhelming feeling that she belonged here, that the road she was traversing on somehow linked her to her destiny.

the voinico’s daughter by sallie cochren and elsie marie cochren

I was intrigued by the blurb of The Voinico’s Daughter when I read it. See, I had just finished reading a book that covered the history of Romania, and here is a book about vampires set in Romania. So, I knew once I read the blurb that I needed to read this book.

The Voinico’s Daughter is a medium-paced book. It is also a long book (about 500 or so pages). So, coupled with the pacing and a couple of other issues, it took me a few days to read.

I thought that the main storyline (Nicoleta, her heritage, and the vampires) were fascinating. But, I kept having issues keeping my attention focused on the story. The characters weren’t as fleshed out as I thought they could be, and honestly, I wouldn’t say I liked Nicoleta. Also, I thought the writing was choppy and stilted in some areas.

As I mentioned above, I wouldn’t say I liked Nicoleta. She was immature, impulsive, and couldn’t make up her mind at points during the book. She was written as an actual teenager, which I appreciate (having a teenage daughter myself). But it took away from the story. If the author had toned it down some, I wouldn’t have cared, but it was too much for me during specific points in the book.

I did appreciate the author included a glossary of Romanian words/phrases at the beginning of the book. It did make it easier to understand the terms that were being used.

The storyline with Nicoleta, her adoptive parents, and her birth parents were sad. I understood why her birth parents gave her up for adoption. I could also understand why her adoptive parents were so against her going to Romania.

The vampires were truly evil beings. I enjoyed how the author portrayed them, and I appreciated that they went through stages to becoming a full-fledged vampire. They interested me, and I wanted to know more about their backgrounds.

I was also fascinated by the vanators and the voinicos. They were created when someone bitten by a vampire resisted the urge to drink blood for three days. Then they are turned into voinicos. A vanator is the child of a voinicos, and they have powers that exceed the voinicos. It was so fascinating to me, and I couldn’t get enough of the training that they went through.

The end of The Voinico’s Daughter was interesting. None of the main storylines were resolved, but instead, the author hinted at a book 2.

I would recommend The Voinico’s Daughter to anyone over the age of 16. There is violence and mild language.

My Fair Queen: Allies of the Fae Realm (Paranormal Misfits: Book 6) by C.J. Anaya

Book Cover

Publisher:

Date of publication: August 31st 2021

Genre: Romance, Paranormal, Fantasy

Series: Paranormal Misfits

My Fair Assassin—Book 1 (Review Here)

My Fair Traitor—Book 2

My Fair Imposter—Book 3

My Fair Invader—Book 4

My Fair Princess—Book 5

My Fair Queen—Book 6

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

It’s not every day an obscure orphan girl becomes a fae queen.

Crysta and her companions have found the diadem and stone, but just when it looks like the tide has finally shifted in their favor, Crysta is sucked into Terise’s sleeping curse with no way of escape and nowhere to hide from Titania’s ruthless attacks.

And now she is permanently bonded…to the wrong fated mate.

Jareth is not only heartbroken at the loss of his fated mate bond, his mating frenzy is in overdrive, preventing him from functioning. He and Kheelan must overcome their differences if they hope to free Crysta, but they are faced with more setbacks as Titania takes faerie captives by the hundreds, building her army and growing her powers.

And the diadem, the key to Moridan and Titania’s undoing?

Tainted by Titania’s curse.

But a cursed relic isn’t the only surprise the wicked queen has in store for Crysta. The battle for control over the minds and hearts of the fae is one Titania intends to win by any means necessary.

Can Crysta and Jareth unite the Unseelie and Seelie Courts before Titania and Moridan destroy the Fae Realm?


First Line:

“Oberon will never allow this,” Titania said, pacing the floor of her bedroom, her tears flowing as she thought of her sons, their bodies torn in battle.

My Fair queen by c.j. anaya

I have said this on my blog before, and I repeat it, I don’t particularly appreciate picking a book up halfway through or at the end of a series. I feel that I am missing out on storylines and character arcs. Unfortunately, I did feel the same way about My Fair Queen, but the author did do a fantastic job of slipping in background stories of the secondary and main characters. So I didn’t feel that out of sync with the book.

My Fair Queen is the last book in the Paranormal Misfits series. It cannot be read as a standalone book. If you do (like I did), you will be left feeling that you missed out on something important (like I did).

The pace of My Fair Queen was lightning fast. Everything happens within a couple of days of the books starting. There is some lag towards the middle of the book (when everyone has a chance to breathe for a minute), but it didn’t affect how I enjoyed the book.

It did take me a little while to get into My Fair Queen. I want to say I started to get interested when Crysta and her friends go visit the vampires. Then the book got interesting.

The storyline with Titania was heartbreaking. The author does reveal why Titania did what she did at the beginning of the book. For the author to get me to feel pity for the bad guy is good writing.

The storyline with Crysta, Jareth, and Keelan was sad also. There were references to what Keelan did to Crysta and Jareth (and I don’t know if I could forgive and forget). There were also references to why Keelan’s fated mate has bonded to another (again, another sad story). That storyline was resolved at the end of the book. But there were some things left up in the air. It makes me wonder if there will be a series with Keelan in it.

There is some mild language in My Fair Queen. I didn’t mind that, but some people do, so the warning. There are also some heavy petting situations with Jareth and Crysta. There is sex, but that is during the last chapters of the book. It isn’t graphic, but you know what they’re doing.

The end of My Fair Queen was exciting. I loved the big showdown between Crysta and Titania. I also loved how Crysta defeated Titania. The same with the battle scene between Jareth and his father. The author wrapped up those storylines, but I have some questions that the author didn’t answer in this book.

I would recommend My Fair Queen to anyone over the age of 16. There is violence, mild gore, and language. There are also some kissing scenes and one sex scene.

Hexes & Hairballs (The Faerie Files: Book 3) by Emigh Cannaday

Book Cover

Publisher: Black Feather Publishing

Date of publication: October 9th, 2021

Genre: Romance, Paranormal

Series: The Faerie Files

Wiretaps & Whispers—Book 1 (review here)

Catnip & Curses—Book 2 (review here)

Hexes & Hairballs—Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

I can’t believe Logan’s been my partner for over a year. Actually, he’s been more than that for half as long.
I know he’ll always have my back.

But when a routine monster eviction goes horribly wrong, he’s furious that I didn’t run when I had the chance.
What’s his deal? The way I see it, the FBI didn’t hire me to run away.

They hired me to get the job done.

Plus, I’m not the type to run from anything. I did it once when I was a kid and I’ve regretted it to this very day.
I suppose that explains why I’m taking this latest case so personally.

Funny how some things come around full circle…especially when you least expect it.


First Line:

“Carl, you got a spare flashlight? The batteries keep going dead in mine.”

Hexes & Hairballs by Emigh Cannaday

I was very excited when I opened my email and saw the ARC for Hexes & Hairballs. I have read the first two books in the series and couldn’t wait for book 3. So, yes, I fangirled out a little bit. I believe there was dancing around the living room and some booty shaking before I sat back down to download it. Unfortunately, though, life got in the way, and I couldn’t read Hexes & Hairballs right away. It got pushed to the back burner while I did Mom things and collapsed in an exhausted puddle at night. Then my schedule cleared, and I was finally able to sit down and read this book. And let me tell you, it was definitely worth the wait.

Hexes & Hairballs is a fast-paced book. The author starts fast and doesn’t let up the pace for the entire book. There was no lag which is always a plus, and the flow of the book was fantastic!!

Hexes & Hairballs is told from Logan and Elena’s POV. It is also written in the first person. I had no issues with telling whose POV I was reading. The author put either Elena’s or Logan’s names at the beginning of the chapter.

The plotline for Hexes & Hairballs was simple. After defeating a supernatural entity under New York City (and yes, the author got everything right, including the rats), Elena, Logan, and the rest of their team head back home. But they don’t get to rest. Instead, they are sent to England to investigate why a child reappeared after 40 years and hasn’t aged. What they find over in England is something that they weren’t expecting. Also, there is an old enemy who is waiting in the shadows to strike. Will Logan and Elena make it through? Will they have their happily ever after?

Elena was her typical bundle of fire during this book. She took charge of the situations and did her best to resolve them. I disagreed with what she did when she was in the hospital with the boy. It should have been left to the professionals. But in the end, it did work in her favor. I did feel bad for her during the last few scenes of the book. What was revealed was a huge shock. I put my Kindle down and said, “No, effing way.”

I liked Logan in Hexes & Hairballs. Like in the previous books, he tended to get himself into situations that were a little dicey. I can’t go into what was dicey in this book, but he bore the brunt of everything.

Logan and Elena had insane chemistry in Hexes & Hairballs. That chemistry didn’t fade during the book. Instead, the author was able to build it back up after they were doing the nasty.

What surprised me the most about Hexes & Hairballs was the depth of the secondary characters. I felt that I got to know Solana a lot better and, in turn, understood why she was the way she was. I pitied her. The same with Sluagh. He showed a more human side when he was telling Solana’s story, and I got the feeling he disagreed with the kidnapping of human children.

The paranormal angle of the book was well written. The author took the stories of changelings and Fae abductions and made them her own. What I enjoyed the most about it was portrayed in a way that made it feel realistic. The emotions that the little boy went through came off the pages. I was in tears when he asked for his “mum” and when Elena told him what had happened.

The end of Hexes & Hairballs was well written and action-packed. But I did get the impression that maybe this wasn’t the last book in the series. I hope that it is the case because I would love to see what Elena and Logan do next!! How the author wrote the ending made me wonder that.