Grimm Remains by Eli Celata


Grimm Remains by Eli Celata
Publisher: Clean Reads
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (190 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

Mammon’s summoning turned Rochester into a beacon for the denizens of Hell. As demon activity increases, Jon settles in for a new academic year, and Jordan moves in as the city’s protector. Unfortunately, the young warlock of Rochester might not be around long if the Devil’s marine legion has a say. Havfine, demonic mermaids, don’t often leave deep lakes and ocean waters. They’re better known for drowning mortal sailors than hunting magic users, but something has sent them upstream from Lake Ontario. When three orphans vanish from a magical sanctuary in Toronto, their caretaker – the Wizard Monday – dredges up a part of Jordan’s and Jon’s father’s history that Jordan would have rather forgotten. In this race against the Bane of Hamelin, more than three souls may be on the line.

Jon’s adventures have only just begun.

The new characters who were introduced in this tale were a nice addition to the cast. While I liked having such a strong focus on Jon when I first met him, meeting so many other magic users really fleshed out the world they all lived in. The number of people who has these abilities was so small that I was thrilled to see so many folks like Jon. It wasn’t something I was expecting to see happen, but it was a great way to push the plot forward.

There were pacing issues, and most of them were due to the plot getting off to such a slow start. As much as I liked the first novel in this series, I struggled to get into this one in the beginning because of how much time it took for anything exciting to happen to Jon or anyone else in his life. There were so many interesting conflicts in his previous adventure that I was expecting him to jump right into them in the sequel. When that didn’t happen, I was surprised and a little confused.

With that begin said, the storyline was solid once things began moving along more quickly. One of the things I enjoy the most about this universe is how much freedom it gives readers to come up with our own theories about how certain parts of it works. The basic explanations of magical society were there again this time, but I liked being able to test my ideas on how it all fit together against what the plot and characters eventually revealed to me. Whether I was wrong or right, it was fun to think logically and methodically about this stuff while I was reading.

This book is the second in a series. It can be read on its own or out of order.

Grimm Remains should be read by anyone who enjoys modern fantasy.

Soul Awakening by Paul Lonardo

Soul Awakening by Paul Lonardo
Publisher: Inkspell Publshing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short (53 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Review by Orchid

Something otherworldly is happening in a small Texas town.

As a small Texas town mourns the tragic death of its high school football star, Alecia is struggling to adjust to life without the boy she has dated since sixth grade and thought she would be with forever.

When Braden comes to her as an apparition, she finds herself falling for Riley, Braden’s best friend and teammate. Has Braden returned to spy on her, or for some other reason?

Alecia’s not sure, but she soon realizes she must find a way to accept Braden’s death and welcome love back into her life, or risk losing everything.

The Power of Secret Love changes everything…

Tragedy hits Alecia when her boyfriend dies in an accident. Her mother seems to think she should put the tragedy behind her, while her schoolfriends seem determined to avoid her. Braden was the leader of the football team and because of their loss the team members decide not to play the next important match. Braden’s apparition visits Alecia to ask her to intervene and get the match played, and she begins to wonder about her own sanity.

Although a short novel, this is well rounded and ticks all the boxes needed to make a good story. The author got inside Alecia’s head and showed her thoughts and decisions extremely well. It shows how the tragedy affected her, her fear at going forward from the moment of despair and her acceptance of her loss.

I did feel her mother was a bit harsh and unfeeling, but I believe the author wanted her to appear in this way. Good book.

High Summons by Eli Celata


High Summons by Eli Celata
Publisher: Clean Reads
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (180 pages)
Age Recommendation:16+
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

Jon Blythe is sick of waiting for his Yoda. After years of hiding his magic, he’s ready to retire from his mortal life, drop out of college, and jump into the world of demon hunters. He just didn’t really expect a bleach blond bookstore clerk with light up toys for weapons. Unfortunately, Jordan is Jon’s only hope. When rogue magic users come to Rochester with a malicious plan, the odd couple strikes out to save the day. Jordan might not be what Jon expected, but between demons and Econ homework, the demons win every time. Wild nights drag Jon further from normal into the world where his father vanished. Maybe he’s becoming an addict. Maybe magic just comes with a price. Either way, he’s hooked.

The magic is in him if he knows where to look.

The world-building was phenomenal. It reminded me of the first time I read other classic fantasy series like Harry Potter. The ordinary world that Jon grew up in had nothing in common with the hidden, complicated, and sometimes downright perilous society that was his birthright. Watching him switch between attending class during the day and hunting down demons at night that only people with magical powers can see made it impossible for me to stop reading. The more I learned about the different types of magic users in this universe and what kinds of steep obstacles they faced when it came to fighting the supernatural, the more I wanted to know. I couldn’t imagine a more exciting start to a series, and I can’t wait to continue along with it.

Pay close attention to the descriptions of all of the various types of demons that Jon meets when his training begins. This is a very minor criticism of book that otherwise I couldn’t get enough of, but many of them were introduced at the same time so it took me a little while to memorize all of their names and how dangerous they were. It was an important thing to do, though, and once I figured that out it was smooth sailing for the rest of the plot.

Jon was a well-rounded and fascinating main character. Watching him change as a result of his experiences in this novel was riveting. He often acted like a bored and restless teenager in the beginning, but by the end he’d grown up in so many different ways. While this is a young adult book, it’s something I’d recommend just as strongly to adult readers because of how much time the author spent showing how people start to make that transition to adulthood.

High Summons is a must-read for anyone who loves urban fantasy. This is the best new series I’ve started so far in 2017!

Webster: The Unhinged Edition by Anne Wentworth


Webster: The Unhinged Edition by Anne Wentworth
Publisher: Blue Swan Publishing
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (105 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

Webster Harmon has a gift. When the veils come down, spirits show themselves, and he can communicate with them. Tandy, the woman who runs the group home where he lives, manages to find out about his gift and reports Webster as being mentally ill. As a result of this, Webster is sent to a psychiatric unit.

After being released, the only reason for returning to the group home instead of risking a life on the street, is Webster’s love for Beth, one of the other teens living in the group home. Beth is the one person who makes life with Tandy tolerable.

On his way back to Tandy’s, Webster meets Reggae. Reggae’s been living on the street since his uncle died, so Webster brings him along to see if he can stay at the group home. When Webster returns, he finds Beth terrified because Tandy wants to send her for a trial to live with a couple who may have less than honorable intentions.

With the help of his new friend Reggae, Webster is determined to keep Beth safe. When the spirits reveal Tandy’s secrets, Webster decides to make his move to get all three of them out of there and to a better life–even if it means using his gift to break the rules.

Not everyone cares about what happens to teens in foster care. If Webster and his friends are going to be saved, they’d better take fate into their own hands.

The friendship among Webster and the two other teens currently living in their group home, Beth and Reggae, was so strong. One of the reasons why I enjoyed seeing these characters work together to get out of their terrible living situation so much is that all three of them genuinely cared about each other. Their friendships were so strong that I couldn’t wait to find out if they were successful and if they’d find their happy endings.

There were many pacing issues in this book. The plot moved quickly in some scenes and pretty slowly in others. This made it harder for me to stay interested in the storyline because of how often the pacing changed and how much that affected every other part of the story. Some of the scenes felt rushed, while others didn’t have enough time to explore all of the issues that the characters were dealing with.

It was nice to have some helpful and empathetic adults in a young adult novel. I especially appreciated the fact that the kind adults in Webster’s life played such a big part in it. This wasn’t just one scene. There were many opportunities for this character to meet people who were nothing at all like the abusive woman who ran the group home where he lived.

I’d recommend Webster: The Unhinged Edition to anyone who is interested in books about foster care or the supernatural.

Gargoyle Redemption by Isabel Castruita

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Gargoyle Redemption by Isabel Castruita
Gargoyle Redemption Trilogy – Book 1
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full (163 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: 4 stars
Review by: Orchid

BoM LASR YA copy

18 year old, Shinka Fox moved to California to pursue her music career, her mother Bru Fox is a famous artist traveling the world. Infatuated with a boy named Abel Lapis at her new school Shinka is surprised when the young man always seems to be around when she’s in trouble. A group called the Hunters is out to kill Shinka. But Abel has a secret, he’s a gargoyle. Will Abel rescue Shinka in time or will the Hunters reach her first?

Shinka Fox is about to launch her music career and also attend the private school called Fusion Academy. From day one things go wrong and she has to rely on fellow student Abel Lapis for support and protection. Her faith in him is shaken when she discovers he is half gargoyle and the statues on his balcony are his family. The Hunt is after the gargoyles and Shinka becomes involved in the conflict.

Both main characters are captivating although Abel seems to be a bit “on again” and “off again” with his interaction with Shinka. Danger comes in the form of the hunt whose members are the most unlikely people. A third paranormal element is also introduced which adds spice to the tale.

The only problem I had was with the continuity of the story. At times there seemed to be no depth to the characters. At one stage Shinka is captured by people who want an item which is in her possession. Despite the fact the object is with her, the captors don’t take it and return her with the item still in her possession. Very unsettling and made me question the reasoning behind the story.

A wonderful idea and fairly well executed. The book marries gargoyles with modern day teenage life and this makes it all seem believable.

Curse of the Moon by Beth Trissel

curse-of-the-moon-by-beth-trissel
Curse of the Moon by Beth Trissel
Secret Warrior Series
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full (182 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Review by: Orchid

BoM LASR YA copy

The bad news? Morgan Daniel’s wolf is out of control. The good news? There’s a treatment. She just has to get a potion from a lizard shifter witch–without looking into the witch’s eyes. Easy, right? But when the witch puts a spell on her younger brother, Morgan has to do the witch’s bidding to save him.

Fortunately Morgan isn’t alone. She has Jackson to lean on, a few witches coming into their powers, a secret warlock, and the always mysterious Chief Okema. What could possibly go wrong?

Morgan is a teenager with a young brother but she’s horrified when she discovers she is also part werewolf. Help is offered by Jackson and his Native American tribe. Morgan’s transformation is particularly strong and painful and a potion is needed to calm things down. Unfortunately the only person with the potion is Lilith, the Lizard lady and when they go to her for help she puts a spell on Morgan’s brother.

Werewolves, shape-changing panthers… this book has it all, and just when you think you’ve got it sorted, another unexpected shape changer arrives on the scene. The budding romance between Morgan and Jackson, plus the danger not only to Morgan’s brother, but the tribe as a whole gives the tension and flow to make this a good book.

The story weaves between modern day and myths and legends, providing an exciting and compelling read.

Angel of Night by Julie Simons

angel-of-night-by-julie-simons
Angel of Night by Julie Simons
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Romance
Length: Full (355 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Review by: Poinsettia

He could guard an ancient temple or preside over the gates of Hell….

After enduring years of terrifying nightmares, a mysterious figure has begun to appear in Leah’s dreams. He’s both grim and glorious–lit with the glory of the sunrise, yet his fierce countenance banishes the horrors that haunt her. She recognizes him as the imposing, enigmatic senior who has drawn her interest since first sight. He’s been frequenting her dreams for months but now seems to be watching her day and night, and Leah can’t resist fantasizing that the aloof boy everyone else is afraid of may actually be protectively watching over her. But her friends warn her that he’s dangerous. When Leah’s worst nightmares begin to materialize around her and her world begins to fray at the seams, her night angel is the only one Leah trusts to help her. Angel or demon, with danger closing in on her, she wants to believe that he can save her. But can anyone save her from herself? If she only knew what awaits her. There’s something Leah’s nightmares have been trying to tell her….

Leah’s crush isn’t what he seems, but then neither is Leah.

Poor Leah. She just wants to survive high school and make her parents proud, but no matter how hard she tries, she can’t seem to get anything right. To top it off, she’s experiencing some health issues that are severely affecting her life. Her delicate stomach, sensitivity to light, and nocturnal habits are grating on her parents’ last nerve. Their suspicious and borderline hostile attitude is heartbreaking. It was hard to watch Leah struggle to behave “normally,” but as I read, it became clear that Leah is anything but normal.

I really like Leah. Her love of animals is particularly endearing, especially her friendship with a young deer. The time she spends with animals seems to be the only time she can truly relax. Leah is having a tough time going through her “change” into whatever she’s becoming. Her parents don’t understand what’s happening, and her father is very harsh and seems to have written Leah off completely. I get the impression that she was once close to both of her parents. This makes their broken relationships that much harder to bear. While I have a lot of sympathy for Leah, I think she could treat those around her better, especially her friend Joe and her mother. They have no clue what is happening to Leah, but they are genuinely trying to understand because they love her and want to help her. Leah just pushes them away and shuts them down when they try to talk to her. That being said, I do think Leah’s relationship with her mother can be saved. Leah’s mother is extremely smart and persistent, and I really like that. It shows she cares and will never give up on her daughter.

Asher, the mysterious senior, is a unique hero struggling with the same problems Leah has. While others perceive him as a “bad boy,” he’s really just trying to survive the best he can. Asher has admired Leah from afar for a long time, but never told her. However, he is very protective of Leah and defends her when some other students say and do some particularly nasty things to her. Asher and Leah have an interesting relationship. He is protective and pushy at times, but I never doubt the sincerity of his affections for her.

I must say that Angel of Night, is very slow paced for the first half. In fact, this is the sole reason I didn’t rate this book a five. While the slower pace at the beginning gave me an in depth feel for Leah and Asher and the world they life in, it was drawn out too long. However, Leah and Asher are wonderfully developed characters and my interest in them kept me going. My patience was definitely rewarded. Once Leah and Asher actually connect, the pacing really picks up. I do wish they had more time to simply enjoy being together, but Asher waited too long to approach Leah and they just don’t have time because something dangerous is closing in on them. Consequently, most of their spare time is devoted to teaching Leah how to develop her blossoming abilities. Unfortunately, time is running out.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Angel of Night. I’ve never encountered beings like Leah and Asher in a paranormal book before, and my curiosity is piqued. I hope that Ms. Simons has plans for a sequel because I can’t wait to read the next chapter in Leah and Asher’s story. I highly recommend Angel of Night to anyone looking for a unique paranormal laced with romance.

Abomination by Jane Dougherty

ABOMINATION
Abomination by Jane Dougherty
Book One in the Pathfinders Series
Publisher: Finch Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (210 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

As the end of the world begins, Carla and Tully hurtle through a wormhole five years forward in time­—to find they haven’t missed the Apocalypse after all.

Carla and Tully are picnicking in the quad of their international high school in central Paris when the end of the world begins. They are sucked into a wormhole that spits them out five years later to find that the world is a freezing desolation but still hanging on, waiting for something even worse to finish it off…the something worse turns out to be the Burnt Man and his horsemen.

Taken prisoner by the Flay Tribe to their lair in the ruins of a shopping mall, Tully is forced to become a warrior, while Carla joins the other girls as a kitchen slave and comfort woman.

Tully might like the idea of playing soldiers, but Carla knows what is waiting for the girls when the food runs out, and it isn’t pleasant. The supermarket holy man’s vision of the return of the Burnt Man and his demon friends drags Tully back to reality—when the four fiends are reunited, the Apocalypse will really begin. Carla and Tully don’t plan on being there when that happens.

But in this post-Abomination world where only the young and brutal have survived, where food and fuel are running out, and the climate is plunging into another final ice age, there is nowhere to run—except down another wormhole, with no idea of what might be waiting for them at the other end.

When the end of the world comes, is it lucky to be alive through the chaos or is it better to jump ahead a few years?

Abomination is the first book of the Pathfinders Series and sets the stage for the excitement of the end of the world. The story follows Tully and Carla as the beginning of the end of the world occurs-from volcanic eruptions to massive earthquakes. Tully and Carla find themselves trying to survive the falling building and tumble through a wormhole that places them five years in the future where the last remnants of humanity scramble to form tribes and try to survive in a desolate world.

The story takes place in a dark and foreboding world; one where fear, treachery and power struggles are a daily occurrence. The arrival of Tully and Carla shift much of the day to day lives of those who have lived in this world for the past five years and cause a minor ripple in the power held by those currently.

The author adds great description and paints a clear picture for the reader to understand how the world views have shifted. The dialogue between characters is clear and believable while the actions that the characters take follow the course of the change of humanity’s mindset. The author plays on the last bits of humanity and draws the reader into realistic ethical questions regarding the way the future will play out.

The only parts that may be confusing for some readers would be the storytelling of the past five years where some is narrated in first person view by a specific character and some is told in real time dialogue.

The overall story telling is great and the plot is very plausible; this is one series of futuristic events and time travel that you do not want to miss!

A Single Drop of Perfect & Other Stories by Jesskah Hope Stenson

A Single Drop of Perfect & Other Stories by Jesskah Hope Stenson
A Single Drop of Perfect & Other Stories by Jesskah Hope Stenson
Publisher: Excalibur Press NI
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (45 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

A Single Drop Of Perfect

Carla’s on the cusp of adulthood. As her final weeks in the family home draw to a close she struggles to keep a grip on her true self. With her boyfriend hundreds of miles away, Carla battles with loneliness, finding comfort in unexpected places and experiencing moments of perfection that can never be replicated.

What Isla Did

Isla was young, brave and creative. She is remembered as a golden girl and their beloved daughter, but no one can be perfect.

The Lemon And The Lake

June and Max are exploring the gorgeous countryside of Granada. However, where there’s perfection, there’s horror.

Wounds

Helen’s new husband Steven brings his dog Wilf into the family home. When Helen’s eight year old daughter Maisie finds herself in hospital, suffering from a vicious dog attack, Steven has a lot to answer for. Moral and ethical questions arise when Helen is determined to have Wilf put down in spite of Steven’s desire to keep is beloved pet alive.

The Edge Of A Smile

Walking home at night, university student Heidi is accompanied by a stranger named Bryony. Both of them have secrets which will destroy the other.

Everything can change in a moment.

In “A Single Drop of Perfect”, what I liked about Carla the most was how easy she was to get to know. She shared all of her thoughts and feelings freely, so I felt like I’d learned almost everything there was to know about her by the time her adventures ended. With that being said, I would have liked to see more time spent on her love interest. I never felt like I got to know him well at all, and that made it hard for me to decide if I wanted them to end up together.

In “What Isla Did,” a family faced a series of bizarre events after their oldest daughter, Isla, died suddenly. The plot gave the audience a lot of space to come up with our own theories about what was going on with these characters because of how young the narrator, Isla’s sister, was when everything happened and how subtle some of the hints were. I appreciated the fact that I was free to make my own conclusions based on how I interpreted certain scenes. That was a great choice on the author’s part. It made the ending even more powerful than it would have been otherwise.

June and Kyle explore a mysterious lemon grove in “The Lemon & The Lake.” The descriptions of the setting were absolutely beautiful, but I had trouble figuring out what was going on with the plot. There were so many unanswered questions about it that I was never sure if my interpretation was actually the correct one. It would have been helpful to have more hints about what June and Kyle were experiencing as I did like the characters and setting quite a bit.

A young girl was seriously injured by a family pet in “Wounds.” Helen, the girl’s mother, immediately decided to protect her daughter from ever being bitten by that dog again. The rest of the details were revealed later on in the storyline. Even though I was eager to know more, I enjoyed slowly discovering them because it gave me many opportunities to think of my own explanations for why the girl was injured and what her mother would do next.

“The Edge of a Smile” followed Heidi on a cold and uncomfortable walk home with a girl she’d just met. While I very quickly had a good idea of why their walk home was so awkward, I was still curious to know if my guess was correct. Seeing how everything unfolded was fascinating because of how much foreshadowing the author used. Ms. Stenson transformed what should have been an innocuous walk home into something that made me shiver.

A Single Drop of Perfect & Other Stories should be read by anyone who likes having a lot of chances to come up with their own theories about what really happened in a scene.

This Night Sucks by Elizabeth J.M. Walker

This Night Sucks by Elizabeth J.M. Walker
This Night Sucks by Elizabeth J.M. Walker
Publisher: Mirror World Publishing
Genre: Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (94 Pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: 5 Stars
Review by Myrtle

Lana is a high school senior enrolled in Vampire Education – a class to teach students about the very real presence of vampires in the world. Lana and her classmates don’t really expect to meet up with any undead bloodsuckers. Vampires are a lot like other scary things that supposedly exist but you hope you’ll never come across: nudist colonies, mad cow disease, and your parents’ sex life.

What is part of Lana’s everyday reality is navigating through one last year of high school while desperately trying to be less nerdy. She still loves spaceships, fantasy novels, and cat stickers, but she also recently got her braces removed, grew boobs, and is working on the makeup thing. She never expected her crush-of-a-lifetime Pete to even notice her – let alone ask her out on a date.

The date is going great until Pete’s ex-girlfriend Katy shows up, all bloody and pissed off. Lana quickly realizes that Katy is not just her ordinary bitchy self – she has been turned into a vampire which, in turn, takes Lana and Pete’s date from a hot and steamy make-out session to an unexpected vampire-hunting expedition.

What kind of person takes a Vampire Ed class in high school other than nerds and geeks? Those who want an easy ‘A’ grade? Maybe students who just need extra credit? Or perhaps it’s people who want to be prepared for an apocalyptic vampire invasion!

High schooler, Lana, is a closet nerd-girl who recently got her braces off and doubled her bra size. Now, she realizes she is a “sort-of-pretty-girl” and likes the transformation. Oh, she still loves her “Star Trek fanfiction” in private, but going to the Battlestar Galactica marathons with nerdy friends is out. Worst of all, she has never been able to shake nerdy-boy Alan after kissing him in third grade, and now he wants her to go with him to prom!

Alan is a Hunter. Hunters are kids who take martial arts classes and Vampire Ed seriously. They carry their vampire survival kits everywhere and wear cargo pants with kneepads all the time. According to Lana, they’re more likely to die a virgin than ever face a vampire.

After handsome jock, Pete, breaks up with his girlfriend, he asks Lana out on a date. Her dream guy is finally within reach! So, does this mean Lana has finally broken away from only attracting geeks? Let’s hope not, because she is going to need nerdy Alan and his vampire skills after all!

This is a novella, a very funny and well-written short book! There were actually laugh out loud moments in this story and it was simply impossible to put down. I can’t think of a single downside in the whole book, unless it’s the use of the big expletive and other curse words. It’s a YA, but adults will laugh out loud, too!

If you’re looking for a fun, quick read (an affinity for vampires will be a plus!) then you will not want to miss this one!