Saturday, December 29, 2012

Review (Short Story): Ho-Ho-Homicide by John G. Hartness


Genre: Humor/Paranormal/Short Story
Formats available: ebook (single short), print (omnibus)
Publication Date: December 10, 2011
Word Count: approx. 8,000
Print Length: approx 21 pgs (estimated)
Epub pages: 24 (story text ends at 19 pgs)
Kindle Locations: 384 (story text ends at 85%)  
Series: Bubba The Monster Hunter
Source: My Library

MY THOUGHTS: Bubba the monster hunter goes undercover as a mall Santa to a catch some vicious man-eating pixies in his own humorous redneck way. Pixies beware! Bubba's gone a-hunting with his buxom novice nun sidekick who also sidelines as Santa's elf assistant. Bubba shows a little Christmas spirit in this story when he Santa helps out a homeless family. I thought that was a nice touch and I'm curious if it is unique to this particular Bubba episode or if he displays a little heart in all his adventures. I guess there is only way one to find out.

There were about 10 typos in this story, which I think is a bit much for a short story but 5 were actually a repeated name misspelling. It is probably something that many readers may not even pick up on. A fun read. This is my first Bubba story, but I'll be looking for more!

My favorite line: 
"Yeah, I'm not ashamed to use the death of a hundred pixies to cover up the sound of a good long fart. Sue me."

Rating: 3.5 stars 
Typos found: 10

Side note and apropos to nothing: The title, Ho-Ho-Homicide, sounds more like a Christmas murder mystery to me than a humorous paranormal story.

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Purchase at:  Smashwords | Amazon 
Find John G. Hartness on the web: WebsiteTwitter 


Friday, December 21, 2012

PROMO: Cursed by Lynn Ricci - Release Day Blitz!

Click on the image above to see a list of all blogs hosting this blitz!

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Cursed
by Lynn Ricci

Genre: Paranormal Romance

The story takes place over the Christmas holiday… it involves a witch . . . and other surprises…

Book Description-

When Sarah Carter moves to Boston to escape her past she realizes there's more than meets the eye with the landlord and her mysterious new best friend.

What happened to the owner of this Boston brownstone and what secrets lie within its walls and continue to torment?

And is she actually running back to her past instead of from it?

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Excerpt Chapter 1
2012 Copyright Lynn Ricci

Staring out of the small dormered window, he could just see the corner of the street. Leaves on the trees lining the sidewalk were moving past their prime of orange and red and turning brown as autumn made its way through Boston. The ones still clinging to the trees blocked part of his view. Absentmindedly he pulled his pocket watch out of his pants and checked the time although he instinctively knew it was still early. Purposely, he had chosen this spot to watch the street for a sign. He didn’t want to miss a thing.

Mrs. Casey was nearly three stories below waiting on the sidewalk next to her white BMW. He gazed down at the plump woman in her camel jacket and brown plaid scarf. She had just arrived and was on her mobile phone, trusty bag over her shoulder. As he watched from above, he wondered if he might keep her for a while. She had proven to be discreet and respectful in their dealings thus far –always keeping her eyes conveniently averted. That was a big plus in his book.

The sky had been bright blue and clear all morning but now the sunlight dimmed and small gusts of wind kicked up from time to time, stirring up the brittle leaves, scratching at the sidewalk and causing drifts against the wrought iron fence. He would go out and clean up the two small patches of grass in front of the building later, when it got dark. After all these years, he was comfortable working outside after nightfall.

A flicker of yellow caught his eye as a taxi turned from Columbus Avenue onto Dunhill – a small side street in Boston’s South End, lined with fashionable brownstones. He straightened his bent frame as best he could and intently watched the cab's approach, completely absorbed in his surroundings and on high alert. Below, Mrs. Casey tucked her phone away and pulled her coat closed. Is it getting colder, he thought, touching the glass pane in front of him, the chill spreading through his fingertips.

The yellow checker taxi glided to a stop in front of the building and a young woman with ash blonde hair stepped out but held the door and leaned back in. His heart clenched as if it had been submerged in cold water and he grasped the windowsill to steady himself. From his vantage point, he could see the cabbie handing her some bills. She closed the car door and turned to Mrs. Casey, shaking hands. He wished he could hear the conversation, but knew that it would be pleasantries and then the expected basics.

Both women squinted up towards the window and he faded back as quickly as possible. He was sure he was a moment too late, but what did it really matter? He snuck another quick look and relaxed, realizing Mrs. Casey was pointing out items on the ground level – most likely the security system, or flower boxes. But as he continued to watch he finally saw it: the sign he had been waiting for.

Small gusts that had been making the crunchy, dry leaves rise and dance with their still colorful counterparts whipped up again a few buildings further along the street and came towards the women like a mounting wave. The leaves blew up waist high, swirling and twirling onto themselves until the force reached the women and spun around them in a leaf tornado. Mrs. Casey stepped back towards her BMW parked at the curb to get out of the maelstrom and the leaves continued, picking up energy and speed; surrounding the flaxen-haired woman, lifting and tossing her long hair like a Medusa at the center of the funnel. In reaction to the onslaught, the young woman covered her head with her arms and ran up the front walk toward the building to get out of its path. The wind disappeared and the leaves fell to the ground on the sidewalk as quickly as it had started. Overhead the sky was once again blue.

She’s here, he thought.

The leaves settled gently on the sidewalk. Sarah laughed, removing a few dry leaves that had snagged on her scarf and sweater.

“My goodness! It’s getting blustery!” Mrs. Casey exclaimed as she hurried across the brick sidewalk to the open gate that Sarah ran through, moments before. “Are you ok, dear?”

“I’m fine, really.” Sarah said almost to herself while smoothing her hair. “Just a little wind.”

“Well, dear, if it was any more wind it would have swept you away to Oz.” Sarah heard the deep Boston accent in the woman’s voice and felt immediately comfortable with the realtor. The cadence was almost like she was listening to her maternal grandmother, Rose. Growing up in Connecticut, her grandmother's Boston accent was fodder for jokes, but she always associated the distinctive pronunciations with happy childhood memories. Sarah waited as Mrs. Casey reached into her oversized bag and easily pulled out a business card.

“Thank you, Mrs. Casey,” Sarah said as she examined the card. “I’m so glad you were able to meet me on short notice.” Sarah stood on the bottom step and waited as Mrs. Casey dug paperwork out of her briefcase. Glancing around the small front enclosure she wasn’t sure was big enough to qualify as a yard, she noticed the black wrought iron flower boxes mounted below the bay windows, full of deep russet, red, and burnt orange mums. Mrs. Casey finished pulling out the listing sheet and noticed where Sarah was looking.

“The flowers are lovely, aren’t they? You should see this place in the summer! I don’t know how he does it. No one ever sees him working in the garden but it’s always immaculate.” She leaned over and pointed to the side of the building indicating she actually meant around the corner. “Over there are the rose bushes. This is actually one of the few brownstones that has a little side yard since the alley cuts through there.”

Sarah looked at the old-world cobblestone alley. Mrs. Casey continued her garden tour, “Not big enough to do much with, but he keeps pink roses in the summer all along those wooden trellises.”

“It’s very nice. You can tell the property is well kept; it’s wonderful that he cares so much for the landscaping.”

“Everything is kept well. This was a grand house in her day.” Mrs. Casey stressed the last sentence as she looked lovingly up to the front door. The realtor continued with a tone of letting Sarah in on a fact already well known in certain social circles, “This is one of the prime rental properties in the South End, dear.”

Mrs. Casey started to climb the front steps slowly. Sarah wondered if it was her age that slowed her down but this seemed different, almost hesitant. As if on cue, the woman turned and looked down at Sarah, two steps below. She put one hand on the railing to steady herself before speaking.

“Before we go in, I must tell you something. We will be meeting with the owner in a few minutes. He’s very particular about his renters since he lives on the first floor.”

Sarah started to say she would make a good impression but the woman laid her gloved hand on her arm to quiet her.

“There’s more.” Mrs. Casey looked down at her feet in discomfort with what she was about to say. “He had an accident . . . of some sort. I am not sure exactly what happened but he is disfigured and very, very self-conscious.” Her eyes darted back to Sarah’s and locked. “Don’t act like you pity him. Don’t ask any questions about it. And, whatever you do, don’t look straight at him.”

“Is it that bad?”

“I really don’t know the extent of it. He tries to cover as much he can and I pretend like nothing is wrong. But it’s bad. I always keep myself busy and interested in looking at something else.”

“I will avoid looking at him. Promise.”

“I’ve lost some good tenants by them being too interested in him. He’s a proud man. He has done a lot of beautiful work; everything in this home has been lovingly maintained. The whole building possesses a charm you just don’t see anymore.”

Mrs. Casey searched Sarah’s face, making sure all this had settled in.

“Ready, dear?”

“Ready.”
---oOo---

About the Author:

Lynn Ricci was born and raised in the Greater Boston area. Her professional background is in financial communications and she pursues her artistic endeavors of writing and painting while enjoying an active family life with her two children and dog, Fenway.

A writer of several published short stories including Daydreams, The Dating Intervention was her debut novel. More information on novels available and underway can be found at www.lynnricci.com

Website: http://www.lynnricci.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Lynn.Ricci.Author
Twitter: http://twitter.com/lynnricci



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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Review: Vampire Wardens and Werewolf Society Box Set by Lisa Renee Jones


Genre: Paranormal Romance
Bundle of 5 Novellas
Formats available: ebook
Publication Date: August 13th 2012 (Box Set)
Kindle Locations: 5752 (total)

Series: Vampire Wardens #1, #2,  #3
Series: Werewolf Society #1, #2

Source: My Library







DESCRIPTIONS:

Hot Vampire Kiss
Vampire Wardens, #1 (Evan's Story)

Kindle Locations: 61-62 thru 1217-25 (1% thru 21%)
Word Count: approx. 25,170 (Novella)

The werewolf population is entrenched in a century long civil war, and now they are plagued by a virus that is turning wolves into killers. The Brooks brothers pursue one such rogue werewolf to Temple, Texas. It is in Temple that Evan encounters a beautiful nurse named Marissa who instantly melts the hundred years of ice running through his veins. When she is brutally attacked by the wolf, he breaks the rules of the Vampire Council and uses his blood to save her. Now, if he doesn’t kill the wolf by the next full moon, Marissa will become a killer wolf, and he will be sentenced to death.


Hot Vampire Seduction
Vampire Wardens, #2  (Aiden's Story)

Kindle Locations: 1225 thru 2580-27 (21% thru 44%)
Word Count: approx. 27,961 (Novella)

The underground vampire population of Austin, Texas has taken to hosting orgies with human women who've been forced to indulge in a new aphrodisiac. The drug, Blood Red, is a mixture of a rare type of werewolf blood and that of a vampire. Blood Red creates an insatiable desire for sex in the user to the point of pain in the absence of pleasure. Sometimes that pain leads to death.

Vampire Warden, Aiden Brooks, has spent more than a hundred years enforcing the laws of his race, and life has taught him that anyone that he allows into his world ends up dead. Despite knowing this all too well, having painfully loved and lost in his past, when his search for the creator of Blood Red places coroner Kelly Riggs directly in both his path, and that of a dangerous clan of vampires, his desire for her goes well beyond offering her protection. He's drawn to her bravery, seduced by her feisty spirit and beauty, but he is determined to resist her, fearing he will put her in harms way.

But Kelly is already on the radar of the enemy, and when she gets too close to the evil vampire clan's secrets, she is given Blood Red. Now Aiden's hunger for her might be the only thing that can keep her alive but who will save her from him?


Hot Vampire Touch
Vampire Wardens, #3 (Troy's story)

Kindle Locations: 2588 thru 3886-93 (44% thru 67%)
Word Count: approx. 25,100 (Novella)

Troy, a Vampire Warden betrayed by the werewolf he loved, now not a Vampire or Wolf…but something dangerous. Can a woman, another wolf heal him or will he destroy them both? 


Wicked Werewolf Night
Werewolf Society, #1 (Nico's Story)

Kindle Locations:  3893-94 thru 4828-36 (67% thru 83%)
Word Count: approx. 19,690 (Novella)

A witch after his secret. A wolf after her pleasure.

Nico Moore is the leader of of The Werewolf Society's elite Royal Guard. Aylia Richardson is the witch who calls to the beast in Nico, but destiny has also made her the keeper of a gift that threatens the very existence of his race. To destroy this gift will destroy this woman...the only one he has ever dared to call 'mate'.


Wicked Werewolf Secret
Werewolf Society, #2 (Kole's Story)

Kindle Locations: 4836 thru 5735-43 (84% thru 99%)
Word Count: approx. 18,630 (Novella)


Kole Smith will soon become the leader of his pack, and not just any pack. He will lead the Royal Guard of the Werewolf Society. Before he accepts his role, he has unfinished business and her name is Sarah.

Sarah's family ran the Casino Operation used as a front for The Werewolf Society, until the greed of the rebels trying to overthrow their government led to her families murder. Kole saved her life, gave her the opportunity to live, and to deliver the vengeance she craves against the rebels.

When they meet again, their passion will explode in a firestorm that will either heal the pain of the past or destroy them forever. 

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MY THOUGHTS: 
I have a book or two by Lisa Renee Jones on my shelves and though I haven’t read them yet I was familiar with the name. So when I saw this box set on sale at Amazon, I was quick to one-click!  Vampires, werewolves, romance, and smexy times…right up my alley. The box set is made up of five novellas. There are three novellas in the Vampire Wardens series and the other two novellas are from the related Werewolf Society series. The characters will often cross over from one book to the next and one series to the next. The novellas combined probably equal one good size novel.

This set is not a serial so you won’t be left hanging at the end of each novella. It is more like a regular series where each one gets wrapped up with an HEA for that story, but there is also an overarching story line that runs through them all. The stories are standard paranormal romance fare and focus more on the romance aspect at the expense of the suspense and conflict. Threats to the main characters were often resolved easily leaving me to say to myself “That’s it? It’s over?” Even when it was building up over a couple of books, it just seemed to end quickly without a lot of effort. Though I did like the storytelling overall, I personally don’t think there was always a good balance between the romance and the plot. So if that doesn’t bother you and you read more for the romance than the intrigue, you’re good to go.

I did find myself becoming invested with some of the characters. I liked the brothers Evan, Aiden, and Troy, but probably enjoyed Troy’s story the best. His character felt like it had some extra depth that the others did not due to his unique situation. It added some more layers to explore though I can’t say they were really explored that much. His story is also the last one of the three brothers to be told so you get more page time with him and have more time to connect. 

The stories did keep me reading and I can say I enjoyed them but I did find some issues that frustrated me at times and that I just can’t overlook. There were inconsistencies in character actions, plot holes, and about 70+ typos for the entire box set which is about the size of a novel if you combined all the novellas. That is quite a bit and not just a “handful” that you can expect from most any book. Almost half of them occurred in the last novella alone. Not sure what went so wrong with that one compared to the others. It became quite distracting in the last book since they were popping up so frequently at that point.

So now for the tough part...what to rate this boxed set. I am torn between actually liking the stories, the world, and the characters, and being frustrated and disappointed with the lack of editing/proofreading, which sometimes distracted me and pulled me out of the stories. I didn’t dislike them, but I can’t say I really liked them as much as I could have if they had been polished. Even with all the typos and issues I still liked the set as a whole so I will give this three stars.

There are more Werewolf Society novellas out or coming out and it is likely that I will pursue them if the price is right because after reading five of these books in a row, I do have some investment in the series and would like to see what happens next. I will be doing so knowing what to expect polish-wise but also hoping that the quality will improve.


Rating: 3

Typos found: 70+

Heat Level: Spicy to Erotic - Second book has a menage scene (m/f/m)

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This box set is available as an ebook.  You can find Lisa Renee Jones on the web at:

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/73977.Lisa_Renee_Jones


Get the book!
This particular box set was not on Smashwords but individual novellas and the 3 Vampire Wardens Box Set are available.
Find it on Goodreads


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Review (Short Story): Killed by Darkness by Anna Sanders

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Horror/Short Story
Formats available: ebook
Publication Date: July 12th 2012
Published by: Red Iris Books
Wordcount: approx. 4,000 (about 6,000 including back matter)
Kindle Locations: 303 - story text ends at 63%
Epub pages: 24 - story text ends on pg 17
 - Remainder of file is mainly an excerpt of Cursed by Darkness
 - No Table of Contents

Source: My Library




DESCRIPTION:
It's uncommon for daevors to leave the safety of their enclave. But when Deja Rowan gets a job offer in New York, she can't resist the glamour of a fabulous life in a new city.

Her body is found mutilated a year later--and nobody will take action against the killers, since it would risk exposing cryptids to all of humanity.

The victim's little sister, Winx, isn't afraid of the consequences. And she will do anything to get revenge.

Killed by Darkness is a 4000-word prequel to the Befallen Tides series. It contains a preview of Cursed by Darkness by Anna Sanders.


MY THOUGHTS:
After I picked up Cursed by Darkness from a giveaway I noticed that there was a short story prequel available, Killed by Darkness, so I decided to start with this short story first. On one hand I’m glad I did, but on the other hand, I’m not so sure. I actually read this back in October so hopefully I won’t make any egregious factual errors.

Killed by Darkness starts out focusing on Deja and Winx (love that name!), a couple of Daevor demon sisters. They have a close relationship and when Deja is murdered, Winx takes it pretty hard. Justice needs to be served…even if she has to do it herself.

What starts out as an Urban Fantasy quickly takes a left turn down Horror Lane when things start to get a bit, no… a lot gory. Words like “ewww!”, “Ick!”, “Gross!”, “ZOMG, why are they doing that?!” flew out of my mouth. I wanted to squinch my eyes shut like I do when watching a gory movie (which I try to avoid) but that would most certainly obstruct my reading… okay, squinch the brain, yeah… that will work *squinch*. Okay, it didn’t work that well. It was really gross but it was also kind of intriguing because I kept wondering why they were so compelled to do that. Of course, if I read the blurb a little more closely the reason would be obvious, but it was also revealed in the end, at which time I had a bit of a “doh!” moment.

I think the story does a good job of setting up the first book, Cursed by Darkness, as far as I can tell by the story blurb, but I’m a little hesitant now to go ahead and read it because I’m not sure if it is going to have the same level of gorysauce (note to self: never use that word ever again!). I can handle it, I guess, for a short story; I just don’t know if I could take a whole novel of it. I am actually a little intrigued about what happens next, but I dunno… I may give it a try but tread lightly. 

I liked Winx (and boy does she have some major power!) and I thought the story had some good suspense and build up to keep the reader guessing what the heck was going on, but I can’t say I liked the gore even if it was relevant to Winx’s motivation for revenge. I also wasn’t sure how Winx knew who Deja’s killers were (maybe it was explained in the story but I don’t remember since it was awhile ago that I read it). I really can’t say I didn’t like it, but I can’t really say I did either due to the gore. So I’m going with a more neutral rating of 2.5 stars on the blog, but it will be rounded up on sites with no half stars.

Rating: 2.5

Typos found: none, I think (no highlights on my ereader but I don’t remember if I was marking them when I read it as I did not intend to review at that time.)

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This short story is available as an ebook.  Anna Sanders does not appear to have a web presence at the time of this post and I could only find a facebook page, which does not appear to be a public page. 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Anna-Sanders/421902014507139


Get the book!

Find it on Goodreads HERE



Monday, December 3, 2012

Review (Short Story): Hell Hole by Marie Loughin (bonus story by JW Manus)


Genre: Paranormal Humor/Short Story
Formats available: ebook
Publication Date: October 28, 2012*
Published by: Ottertail Publishing
Word Count: unknown (Short Story)
Print pages: 55 total (estimated)
Epub pages: 51 - Hell Hole pgs 1-15; The Devil His Due pgs 19-29
Kindle Locations: 740 - Hell Hole 1%-28%; The Devil His Due 32%-53%
- Includes 1st chapter of Loughin's novel, Valknut: The Binding
- Includes Table of Contents

Source: My Library

* Originally published in The Anthology from Hell (March 1, 2012)


DESCRIPTION:
Whoever said, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” probably shouldn’t have said it to Dent Bergman. For twenty years, he’s been trying to beat Peter Gaston—at golf, women, anything. Peter always won. But today, Dent Bergman's unlucky streak is about to end. Or is it?

Plus bonus story The Devil His Due, from Jaye Manus:

Bub works for the devil. In fact, he’s the Big Boss’s top producer. This month, he’s on track to make quota in record time. All he needs is one more soul…

Also included—the first chapter of Marie Loughin's Valknut: The Binding, a dark urban fantasy about hobos, trains, and Norse gods.


MY THOUGHTS:
With my recently realized attraction to hellishly humorous books, I was quick to grab this demonic duo of short stories when I stumbled across it on Amazon. Yes, I'll stop with the alliteration now. Sometimes it just happens and you have to go with it. ;)

The title story, Hell Hole by Marie Loughin, and the bonus story, The Devil His Due by JW Manus, both explore the humorously hellish happenings (damn it...I did it again) that result from bartering one's soul. Sometimes the consequences happen to the one selling their soul and sometimes it happens to the one buying the soul.

I liked the trollish devil (or whatever it was) in Hell Hole. The character jumped off the page for me and I could easily imagine this character in my head-movie right down to the gravelly voice. In The Devil His Due, the demon starts his day on top of the world but then his unlife rapidly spirals down to a bittersweet end. I guess all it takes is one bad deal to completely ruin a demon's day. I almost felt sorry for him...almost ;)

Hell Hole and The Devil His Due both have a devilish twist at the end and I was happy with how the scope of the stories fit the length. They were an enjoyable and fun lunchtime read for me.

Rating: 4 

Typos found: none!
* * * * *

This short story is available as an ebook  You can find Marie Loughin on the web at:

Website: http://marieloughin.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/mmloughin

 Get the book! 
Find it on Amazon HERE
Find it on Goodreads HERE