New Release: Axiom, (Summoned Prequel Novella), by Rainy Kaye

axiom header

Today is the release day for AXIOM by USA Today Bestselling Author, Rainy Kaye. AXIOM is a 15,000 word companion novella for readers of the SUMMONED series, following Dimitri’s descent into the genie bond.

In celebration, SUMMONED is also on sale for 99 cents.

about

Fifteen year old Dimitri’s life changes when his father is murdered, causing him to inherit a family curse.

Now he’s left at the mercy of rules he doesn’t understand and the sinister side of people he thought he knew. Forced to commit crimes that increase in severity, Dimitri struggles to find his place in a world where he doesn’t exist.

Find it on Amazon.

about summoned

Twenty-three year old Dimitri has to do what he is told, literally. Controlled by a paranormal bond, he is forced to use his wits to fulfill unlimited deadly wishes made by multimillionaire Karl Walker.

Dimitri has no idea how his family line became trapped in the genie bond. He just knows resisting has never ended well. When he meets Syd—assertive, sexy, intelligent Syd—he becomes determined to make her his own. Except Karl has ensured Dimitri canít tell anyone about the bond, and Syd isnít the type to tolerate secrets.

Then Karl starts sending him away on back-to-back wishes. Unable to balance love and lies, Dimitri sets out to uncover Karl’s ultimate plan and put it to an end. But doing so forces him to confront the one wish he never saw coming—the wish that will destroy him.

A dark twist on genie folklore, SUMMONED follows a reluctant criminal as he unravels the mystery of the paranormal bond controlling him.

SUMMONED is represented by Rossano Trentin of TZLA.

Find it on Amazon.

about rainy

Rainy Kaye is an aspiring overlord. In the mean time, she blogs at RainyoftheDark and writes paranormal novels from her lair somewhere in Phoenix, Arizona.

She is represented by Rossano Trentin of TZLA. Someone told her she’s a USA Today Bestselling author. She thought there would be cake.

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Book Review: Death Lies Between Us, by Jody A. Kessler

deathLiesBetweenUsRelease Date: March 2013
NA Paranormal

Saving the life of someone you love should not be the worst thing you have ever done, unless you are an Angel of Death. Disgruntled with his position in the afterlife and conflicted by his feelings toward his new client, Nathaniel Evans forgoes the rules and saves nineteen year old Juliana Crowson from being hopelessly stuck in Forge Creek. This alters Juliana’s destiny and she finds herself in a series of near death accidents.

In the mountains of Colorado, Nathaniel comforts Juliana as she struggles to understand her paranormal abilities while coping with her brother’s drug addiction. When an ill-tempered Native American Shaman teaches her the difference between ghosts and place memories, she decides she wants nothing to do with the supernatural world. Too bad she doesn’t know that Nathaniel is part of it. Will fate bring these two together, or has Nathaniel made the biggest mistake of his afterlife?


When Nathaniel Evans first sees Juliana Crowson, she’s writing in a notebook while a boy that resembles her plays a guitar. Her face is hidden from Nathaniel by her long black hair and eyelashes. The poetry she’s writing in her book give him an ominous feeling, like she may have a death wish. It wouldn’t surprise him. He’s an Angel of Death and he’s there to help her make the transition into the hereafter.

Her time has not come yet, and because he has to be there when it does, he has the only excuse he needs to follow her. It’s in his job description, but he quickly realizes it might be bad for his soul. He was wrong about her death wish. On the contrary, she’s full of life. Within an hour of walking into her life, Nathaniel finds her in three potentially life threatening situations, and with each one, he feels the moment he’s waiting for draw nearer and dreads it. But when people who know Juliana leave her with her foot caught between a log and a rock in an ice-cold creek, Nathaniel can no longer watch. He makes himself visible and flesh enough to free her from her predicament, but fears that his interference may set her up for a death worse that the hypothermia he’s helped her avoid.

Death Lies Between us is a New Adult novel centered on a theme of unintended consequences. Every character in this story does something that impacts other characters, sometimes in undesirable ways, even across time and dimensions. There are moments of innocence, selfishness, cruelty, fear, greed, love, pity, and forgiveness, all of which come from characters one might least expect. This gives the entire cast a very human quality.

Nathaniel is a desirable hero with a tragic past that allows the reader to pity his mortal life and sympathize with his present situation. With two dangerous incidents averted, superstitious Juliana is on her guard and waiting for the third to come and claim her. Once introduced, they are subject to quick, mutual infatuation. The reader can only hope that she avoids the fate that Nathaniel’s presence promises.

Yet, it’s in the love story arc of the story where a latent flaw inherent to any romance with a ghost lies. The only “happily ever after” requires the death of the living partner, and the thought of Juliana’s death was Nathaniel’s conflict. How could he do his job when his instinct was to protect her? Appearing to her is not a huge deal, because the girl has supernatural talents that she is struggling to come to terms with, but manifesting as a touchable person takes a lot of effort for him. Basically, I didn’t feel that Juliana was at risk of dying, but neither did I feel there was hope for a future with Nathaniel. A happily-for-now was possible if she survived the novel, but I found myself hoping for the development of a third scenario that involved Chris, a cranky, 25-going on-70-year-old Native American shaman.

Without giving anything away, I will say I was satisfied.

In her debut novel, Jody Kessler has written a solid paranormal novel that bring together Native American folklore, restless spirits, supernatural gifts, and angels on missions. It is the first of a planned series, and there are a number of loose ends left to be tied. The haunting of Castle Hill, (one of the primary settings of the book), Juliana’s brother’s drug addiction are both realistically still in play, as is an apparent fall from grace for Nathaniel, who seems unable to follow rules where Juliana is concerned.

I would recommend Death Lies Between Us to fans of NA Paranormal Romance, particularly readers who enjoyed Avery Olive’s “A Stiff Kiss” or Toni de Palma’s “The Devil’s Triangle.”

I was given an e-book copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.

★★★★

About My Book Reviews

Excerpt of The Forever Girl, by Rebecca Hamilton #bbf

SHERIFF LOCUMB AND I sat in a small room with a table and two chairs and a cheap light embedded into the suspended ceiling overhead. I wiped my palms on my pants, but the sweat kept coming.

He pulled up a picture on his cell phone. “Look familiar?”

Maybe he should’ve gotten an eight-by-twelve print. What was the picture of? Wood? A reddish-orange figure eight and a cross? I frowned and shook my head. “Should this look familiar?”

“Someone spray-painted this on the abandoned grain elevator,” he said coolly. “Why don’t you tell me what you know?”

“What I know about spray-paint?”

“Look.” He leveled his gaze at me. “Mrs. Franklin said one of the women in her congregation—well, her daughter got sick. They think you had something to do with it.”

“Mrs. Franklin thinks I have something to do with everything.”

“Well?” he asked.

“Well, what? I didn’t get anyone sick.”

He puffed his cheeks and blew out a breath. “I’m not saying you got anyone sick, Sophia. They think you hexed their child by spray-painting this satanic symbol.”

“You think I hexed someone? You’re kidding.”

Belle Meadow might be a small town, but surely it wasn’t so dull that they needed to call me down to the station for this.

“You’re here because Mrs. Franklin suggested you might be the one who vandalized the abandoned grain elevator, not because you ‘cursed’ someone.”

“And?” I asked.

“Well, did you?”

“I’m Wiccan.”

He stared blankly. “What’s that have to do with the case?”

“Wiccans don’t believe in Satan.”

“Listen, lady. I don’t care what you believe in. Why don’t you just tell me where you were when the offense took place?”

“Which was when?”

“May tenth.”

“At Colorado State, taking my senior year finals.” Something a few minutes of research would have told him without dragging me down here. Besides, how did Mrs. Franklin know the date? Did she take daily drives around town with her calendar and journal, looking for signs of demonic worship?

Sheriff Locumb leaned back in his chair, slapping his hands against his knees before standing. “I’m sure you wouldn’t mind waiting here while I check with the school?”

I gestured toward the door. “Go ahead.”

I would like to say I enjoyed the silence while he was gone, but the constant hushing in my brain made that impossible.

Sheriff Locumb returned with a cup of coffee and an apology. I didn’t drink the coffee, but I did ask him about the sick kid, and he told me it’d just been a case of chicken pox. Not a demonic plague or anything like that.

After squaring everything away, I returned outside to my Jeep and gripped the steering wheel. I couldn’t deal with Mrs. Franklin’s crazy accusations and the damn hissing. Something had to give.

Taking three deep breaths, I pushed the hissing as far into the back of my skull as possible. I wasn’t about to go back to work. Someone was bound to interrupt my relaxation efforts with a request for a drink refill or a complaint that their jalapeno loaf was too spicy or their ginger-lime chicken wasn’t chickeny enough.

As I drove home, I concentrated on the road—on one mailbox after another, on the way tree branches laced overhead, even on the glare of traffic lights, counting the seconds until they turned green. Anything to distract me from the noise.

My Jeep shushed along the pavement, but the roll of the road didn’t do me any good. The quieter the world around me, the louder the buzzing in my brain. Coping was no longer a viable option.

At the last major cross street before my neighborhood, the noise in my head roared. I slammed my palm against the steering wheel, gritting my teeth.

Enough was enough. I flicked my turn signal in the other direction and veered onto the highway before my courage fled. It was time to turn away from caution and toward Sparrow’s Grotto. Toward something that might silence the hissing forever.

For more information, view Rebecca Hamilton’s Book Blogger Fair – Summer 2013 page.

Cover Reveal: Entangled, A Novel, by Annie Brewer


Entangled, A Novel by Annie Brewer CoverMaddy Walker has lived a difficult life in a small town in Colorado. After losing her mother in a horrific car accident as a child, her father becomes nonexistent due to the aftermath. She has to pick up the pieces of her crumbled life and move on. For all intents and purposes she’s an orphan. But thanks to her best friend Andi and her family, she’s not completely alone; spending most of her childhood and adolescence with them. After turning 18, she and Andi move in together and she makes a decision to move forward with her life, working and putting her past behind her. Only, another tragedy hits her world and she must relive everything she has tried to forget.

Noah Parker is ready to move away from the busy New York City life…and his dark past where he is harboring a lot of guilt and pain. He just wants a fresh start and being the destructive bad boy in town is not a way to do that. He doesn’t ever date girls; it’s all about sex for him. He figures if he could block his pain and bury it, it will go away. Little does he know, it never just goes away. Moving to a small town close to his aunt, he’s hoping for a good change.

What he doesn’t expect, is to meet Maddy. She turns his world upside down. He finds himself wanting to get to know her, not on a sexual level but a deep, emotional one. It seems they have more in common than they ever imagined. And they are both having a hard time denying their attraction to one another. But the more time they spend together, the more they learn about themselves and that in order to move on, you have to learn to let go. Can Noah and Maddy make their growing relationship work together in the midst of more heartbreak and tragedy, or are their lives already too complicated as it is? In both Maddy and Noah’s POV, this is their story of loss, pain and learning to overcome it all-through love.

Recommended for mature audience 17+ due to language and sexual content.

Add it to your TBR list: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17375089-entangled-a-novel

About the Author

Annie Brewer

Annie Brewer(29) leads several lives. At home she’s a caring mother of two with a heart of gold. Online, she’s a best friend to several and puts a smile on her many fans every time she utters a word. In her own world, she’s a dreamer. But the biggest part of her is made of books, books, and more books. It’s not a surprise she’s turned out to be such a talented young author. Some of her many hobbies include reading, drooling over Ian Somerhalder, Channing Tatum,and Christian Grey (etc.), reading, reviewing, reading, watching Vampire Diaries, reading, and last but not least WRITING like a maniac. She currently resides in Texas, where she dies of heat-strokes every few seconds, with her many books and book-boyfriends, and her two adorable little girls.

Connect with Annie online here…

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/anniebrewer82?ref=hl

Blog: http://www.anniebrewerwrites.com/

GR Author Link: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2739138.Annie_Brewer

Twitter: https://twitter.com/goddess793

Book Review: Static Shock, by Eilis Flynn

Static Shock, by Eilis Flynn
Crescent Moon Press, March, 2012

Can you live without your computer? Can you wear a watch? Do you know anyone who can’t?

In a time not long from now, there are people whose life paths are determined by such simple details. Legally recognized as electromagnetics, or “Readers”, they are a twist in evolution, an anomaly in a society that has become technologically dependent. Considered second-class citizens because of their heightened electromagnetic fields, Readers can’t wear watches, get too close to a TV, or even drive for fear they will shut down the car’s electrical system. Computers become worthless doorstops quickly around Readers. Career prospects are limited.

Reader Jeanne Muir decides to expand her horizons when she’s unexpectedly offered a new job opportunity. But she hasn’t been told that her job description includes being framed for a crime she didn’t commit. Because Readers are not held in high esteem, Jeanne’s an easy scapegoat, and law enforcement definitely is not on her side. Knowing she was set up and the odds are against her, Jeanne can’t let herself be taken in-and risks asking mysterious, sexy Ran Owata, a fellow Reader who is no longer accepted among their kind, for help. The problem is: Can she trust him? Does she have a choice?


Abandoned by her normal parents at age eleven, EM-charged Jeanne Muir spent her teen years between a university research lab and the streets of Seattle. An adult now, she does part-time work for the Geller Institute consulting on energy leaks. Six months ago, she was arrested for being in the wrong place at the wrong time and it earned her an abrupt change in duties. She was remanded to testing (that she dislikes), training (that didn’t interest her the first time around), and boring consulting jobs.

Static Shock opens with Jeanne on two critical missions. First, she must reach her destination without overloading every single thing that runs on an electrical charge. It’s a challenge for her anywhere in urban Seattle, but today, points A and B are on the U of Washington campus. Second, she has to ask something of her boss. She’s optimistic, but there’s a good chance that he will say no. The boss that greets her in the Gellar Institute director’s office, however, isn’t the one she’s expecting. That man, Sam, was peeled off a campus statue a few hours earlier and carted off to a mental institution. The new director is a sexy younger man who puts her on her guard. He’s a reader who doesn’t behave much like one, which tips her off to who he is.

Ran Owata serves as a bridge between readers and normals, but his name has become a dirty word among those like him and Jeanne. Because their EM fields magnify each other in close proximity, readers are prohibited from congregating in groups…a violation of their Constitutional right to assembly that does not escape Jeanne. Ran’s advocation of self-control for integration purposes rubs most readers the wrong way, but that’s the bright side of his problem. He’s also associated with a controversial law that would see readers interred into camps. At the least, he’s viewed by readers as the enemy, at most, the boogeyman. At the thought of his name, Jeanne freaks out, and her EM field blows half of the light bulbs on the director’s floor.

Static Shock has an intriguing premise. The extra-normal condition of Jeanne, Ran, and the other readers is a byproduct of an evolutionary change colliding with a technological society where that this new property of the human condition negatively affects. As such, the readers are ostracized by the other 80% whose lives are built upon the electronic backbone of modern societies’ critical infrastructure. The views of norms, as the readers call them, range from wariness to prejudice to outright fear. Politicians, whether caving to the masses or earning brownie points, have written increasingly restrictive laws inhibiting where they can go, when they can go there, and who they can meet. Other laws have upgraded the wiring in apartment houses to sensate wiring…a technological advancement for which landlords charge their tenants more. Landlords who don’t have it can charge readers a premium that makes renting nearly impossible in one of the America’s most expensive cities. The gloves that readers wear to shield both them and the devices they handle from shock are the new badge of discrimination and segregation…like the Stars of David and colored triangles of Nazi Germany, or racial identifiers throughout history.

The details, great and small of this world makes the not-so-distant-future in Static Shock tangible for the reader. The social issues and concerns are contemporary, relevant, and I very much appreciated the focus given to civil rights. In addition, the author’s style is fluid and clean, which allowed me to read the bulk of the story in four hours, and the interaction between Jeanne and Ran was, for the most part, believable and appropriately paced. My problem with the book lies in one particular scene with Jeanne and Ran that I found un-believable. Ran does something that I feel…based upon his behavior to that point…was very much out of character. And Jeanne’s response to it felt out of character as well. After this very short, very odd scene, they find their groove again and the relationship continues exactly as I had expected it to. If the scene had been written slightly differently, or taken out completely, I would have given this book five stars.

Jeanne is enjoyable as a beleaguered smart ass, and Ran is charming as an understated, older, wiser counterpart. Clearing Jeanne’s name of the crime she’s wanted for may be the point of their adventure, but it would be hard not to cheer on bond that forms between them along the way. Static Shock is a solid book that I believe my fellow fans of made-for-SyFy movies will enjoy.

★★★★

Book Review: Wilde’s Fire, by Krystal Wade

I’m at Ciara Knight’s blog today giving my two cents on the disappointing phrase, “I just didn’t love it enough.” I hope you check it out, but don’t go yet! (There’s a link at the bottom of this post.) Here’s my newest book review.

Wilde’s Fire, by Krystal Wade
Noble Young Adult, 2012

Katriona Wilde has never wondered what it would feel like to have everything she’s ever known and loved ripped away, but she is about to find out. When she inadvertently leads her sister and best friend through a portal into a world she’s dream of for six years, she finds herself faced with more than just the frightening creatures in front of her. Kate’s forced to accept a new truth: her entire life has been a lie, and those closest to her have betrayed her. What’s worse, she has no control over her new future, and it’s full of magic and horrors from which nightmares are made. Will Kate discover and learn to control who she really is in time to save the ones she loves, or will all be lost?


Katriona “Kate” Wilde got home from her first year of school at Virginia Tech yesterday. It’s Memorial Day weekend and the family had plans to go camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains, same as they do every year, but this year her mother is very ill. After waking up from a nightmare about a lover named “Arlan” being brutally murdered in front of her, Kate, her sister Brittany “Brit”, and her BFF Brad go on their own. On the road together, Kate and Brit pass the time singing, but Brad is very quiet. This is his first trip back to the woods after getting very lost at the age of ten. The girls know the trail very well, but before they reach their destination (a two day hike), she has a fainting spell, a strange dream, and discovers that Brit and Brad both want to talk to her, but neither with the other around. She also notices strange gold lights, which flash in the woods, and eventually lead her to her favorite swimming hole and an underwater cave.

The three enter the mouth of the cave together and fall face first into a midnight massacre of women and children. Kate pushes her sister back into water, now a portal behind them. Brad kisses Kate, and believing they’re going to die, she kisses him back. They’re attacked; Brad is impaled by claws that go right through him. When she wakes up next, it is two days later. Brad is hanging onto life by a thread, slowly succumbing to poison for which there is no antidote. And the bed she’s been sleeping in belongs to the underground bunker’s commander, Arlan, the same man she’s seen die a thousand times over in her nightmares.

Let me talk a little bit about Arlan Maher. I don’t know what I was expecting from the hero of this book, but I really wasn’t expecting him. He’s been commanding soldiers in a bunker for years waiting for Kate Wilde to return to their world, and when she’s finally in his house, he manages to avoid being either bumbling, insecure, or obnoxiously confident. Arlan is a gentleman, a warrior, a man whose life has been defined by destiny and duty, and he’s comfortable in his own skin. His secrets are simply withheld data; they never amount to masks. Responsible for the lives of 47 people under his roof, he succeeds in protecting them with a combination of decisive action and charm. All, that is, but Kate.

In one key scene of the book, Brad has woken from his drug-induced coma after three weeks and finds Arlan and Kate locked in a steamy kiss. Brad, whose obsession with Kate has led to a delusion that they’re together, is furious that she’s betrayed him. In stark contrast to Brad, Arlan is not a child. The sunless world in which he was raised never afforded him even moments of immaturity. Though only five years older, Arlan confronts Brad with a true leader’s wisdom…stern, quiet, and fully resolved to put the kid in his place. But Kate steps in front of Arlan just as Brad throws a punch, earning a quick trip to the floor and a shiner for her trouble. Protecting her is Arlan’s foretold destiny, and given that he loves her deeply the fact that this is just one of the moments recently that she’s saved him, he questions whether he’s worthy of being her guardian.

Kate is a very naive, very innocent; twenty-years-old and never been kissed until Brad plants one while thinking they’re going to die. When Kate loves someone, whatever the nature of that love, she gives with her whole heart. Looking back on her life, she remembers a boy who has been in every day of her life since grade school. Others around her see Brad’s behavior differently, and while they’ve tried to tell her, she either misses or dismisses their concern.

Setting the manly-men problems aside, Kate is also an independent girl who doesn’t like to be told what she will or will not do. People try to cover her escape; she stays behind to fight or die, which really is admirable. For a college sophomore who falls through the bottom of a river into pitch black hell, she handles the news that it’s her destiny to save this strange world rather well. What she doesn’t take well is learning all the secrets that have been kept from her, particularly the twenty-year-old betrothal to the creepy albino soldier in Arlan’s bunker. Perth serves as multitasking plot device. First, he symbolizes the complicated politics that surround Kate and the war being fought with Darkness to save what remains of humanity. Second, he’s an obstacle standing between Arlan and Kate. But there’s something about Kate’s mother, who joins her in the dark world, that makes me think that Perth will be either a big problem, or a persistent one…but not both. That’s pure speculation on my part, and speaking of that, this book left me with a lot of suspicions that I can’t wait for the sequel to answer.

Wilde’s Fire, written in first-person present tense, is a young woman’s adventure into the unknown. As past tense generally serves to tell a story remembered, even when there is great conflict or danger, the reader may rely upon those verbs as assurances that the narrator pulls through…like a tight-rope walker high above a waiting safety net. But Kate’s story leads the reader blind from one moment to the next, with only her remembered nightmares of Arlan dying to hold onto for hope that they survive the unfamiliar battle they fight now. Krystal Wade truly is a hot, new talent.

And I hope you’ll check out Ciara Knight’s blog.

Book Review: Stealing Breath, by Joanne Brothwell

Stealing Breath, by Joanne Brothwell
Crescent Moon Press, March 2012

Deep in the backwoods of North Dakota, twenty–one year old Sarah Ross is searching for a missing child when she is attacked by a glowing–eyed, transparent… creature. Sarah survives, destroying the monster by using mysterious abilities she didn’t even know she had.

Bloody and bruised, Sarah flees the scene and runs directly into Evan Valente, a handsome, charismatic stranger who helps her back to safety. But what is Evan doing out in the forest at five in the morning?

Turning to a healer, Sarah is shocked to learn her eyes bear the mark of the Indigo Child—an evolved human with the ability to feel the emotions of others. But her indigo aura also makes her an easy target for those who wish to consume her powerful essence.

Soon, Sarah is falling deeply in love with Evan and wants nothing more than to follow her heart and trust that he is the man he says he is. But she can’t ignore the lingering feeling that Evan is hiding a terrible secret. The deeper she digs, the more danger she faces, leading her on a course that will force her to face the darkest, innermost parts of her soul.


Sarah Ross is an empath. She can feel the emotions of other people near her as if they are her own. In fear of being misunderstood, she doesn’t talk about it ever. On one summer day, while partying camping with friends, she wakes to a child’s cry for help. The news has been reporting for days that a ten-year-old girl is missing from the Native American reservation, so Sarah ventures into the woods calling out Jessica’s name. But as she gets further into the woods, the tone of the voice changes from fearful to taunting. She walks into a clearing to find an abandoned house, ravaged by elements and drunk teenagers. She follows the voice inside, up the stairs, and falls through weak wood. It’s while injured that she is confronted by something she can’t explain. It’s human-ish, transparent and shimmery, like a mirage, with eyes like yellow bile. And when it touches her, she feels yucky and suffocated. Reacting on instinct, she pushes the foreign feelings out, and the creature retreats.

She stumbles out of the house and runs into the owner of the property, a gorgeous specimen of male with dark hair and blue eyes, named Evan Valente. He helps her back to his SUV, patches her up and returns her to her friends. Sarah cannot read him the way she does most other people, but she feels a connection with him the moment they touch.

Sarah learns through her native friend’s mother, and the woman’s contacts on the reservation, that the thing that attacked her was actually a person. The Navajo, they say, have people called Skinwalkers who practice dark magic and who use it for astral projection. In their disembodied state, they seek out souls to consume, which increases their power. The natives have known that Skinwalkers are in their town for a while. They are certain that the intruders are responsible for the disappearances of the missing girl and her mother. They believe that Sarah, who they call “The Indigo Child” for the violet glow of her spirit, is their next target.

While Sarah finds the information hard to believe, Evan is incredibly receptive, which gives her the confidence to tell him things she normally wouldn’t tell anyone. But he’s more than he seems to be…which could be taken for granted given he’s tall, dark, handsome, and the object of affection in a paranormal novel. He’s not in Slave Lake to develop land, as he claims. Nor was his presence at his woodland property during Sarah’s attack a coincidence. However, Sarah’s challenge with Evan isn’t coming to terms with these deceptions. Her wealthy Italian hottie from Navajo country has dangerous secrets lurking in deep, dark places. Despite them all, she’ll have to trust him if she plans to go on breathing.

I found the concept behind Stealing Breath very intriguing. The extraordinary power in this story, while having a magical component, is untapped human potential. Some characters are taught magic to wield power, but others are drawing upon energies naturally, instinctively, and even obliviously. The connection between Sarah and Evan is palpable, particularly in my favorite scene of the book, where he dives off a bridge, catches her and rolls into the water below. At a time when she thought she couldn’t trust him, the moment she feels his arms around her, she knows without thinking that she was safe. And if you read books for sex and fights, the author has included several scenes that bring down the house. I actually mean that literally.

This book has much going for it, but there were a few things that I found distracting from the story. For one, the author uses conversation in many places where it gets underfoot. Another, the pacing of the revelations is rather quick. I’m a fan of slow reveals, so I preferred to be strung along a bit. These are both personal preference; other readers may not share it.

Otherwise, Joanne Brothwell has woven an intriguing story using Native American and Italian folk tales, and set her characters up nicely for a sequel.

Rating: ★★★★

Book Review: Wasteland (Lynn Rush, 2011)

Wasteland, by Lynn Rush
Crescent Moon Press (August 23, 2011)

Bound by the blood contract his human mother signed four centuries ago, half-demon, David Sadler, must obey his demonic Master’s order to capture fifteen-year-old Jessica Hanks. But as he learns more about her, he realizes she may be the key to freedom from his demonic enslavement.

The only obstacle—Jessica’s distractingly beautiful Guardian, Rebeka Abbott. He must not give in to their steamy chemistry, or he will lose his humanity. But fresh off a quarter millennia of sensory deprivation as punishment for not retrieving his last target, he may not be able to resist temptation long enough to save what’s left of his human soul.

The thing that attracted me to Wasteland was the cover. The blue glowing within the black is haunting, and the feather floating to the ground is light and beautiful. I had a visceral reaction when I saw it and wanted to read it instantly. I’m not a fan of the typeface, though. I would have preferred a font that reflected the Old World origins of most of the characters, maybe some sort of compromise between blackletter and a roman face. Don’t mind me…I’m a type snob and I know it.

Wasteland opens in a small town in Arizona, at a dance club where locals are getting their drink and flirt on. In the center of this mass of bodies and alcohol is 400-year-old David Sadler, a sort-of bounty hunter who’s spent the last 245 in solitary confinement as punishment for missing his last Mark. He dreams of being free of the contract on his soul, while his demon-half tries every second to claw out of his skin for good.

For that to happen, David would have to give into the temptation he’s so far succeeded in resisting. That’s actually written into the contract his mother signed in blood before he was born. Letting down his guard, giving into a woman’s charms, or losing hold of his demon for even one moment and failing to stop the beast from taking what it wants…it makes no difference. Sex will wipe out what remains of his humanity.

Consider for a moment what 245 years means. The last time David walked among humans, it was 1767. And, the past 200 years of his punishment were spent in sensory deprivation. And now, here he is…2012, in a club where the women wear next to nothing, drink, dance, and flirt with strangers. Master wants the rest of his soul; David’s determined to not let him have it.

Wasteland is initiated as a thriller with frequent battles and relentless pacing. But in this story, there are two games in play. There is the obvious race between demons and guardians both looking for a child messiah, and the tug of war between the same demons and angels for David’s freedom and soul. As for David himself, he is tormented by metaphorical demons more powerful that the literal ones that surround him. Finding himself worthy of the love and trust of the guardians is the biggest one of all.

Wasteland is a good book. I very much enjoyed reading David’s story, particularly one scene where he holds Beka’s head in his hands and begs her to live. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, Awaited, and when I’m done, I’ll tell you what I think about it.

My rating: ★★★★

Book Review: "The Forever Girl" by Rebecca Hamilton

*Sophia Parsons’ family has skeletons, but they aren’t in their graves…*

Isn’t that catchy? I love it!

I’ve mentioned before that I met Rebecca Hamilton on Authonomy. That means that I’ve been waiting for 16 months to read her book. You may wonder why I didn’t run out and buy it the moment it was released. Happy to explain.

My husband told me that getting books from Amazon to my iPad was a little tricky, and I took his word for it. A thing you have to understand about Robert is that he’s *that* guy with all things hardware/software. It’s not just me; most people take what he says about technical things at face value. (Some take it as gospel and still live by it years later, which is a great way of getting my husband to dislike you if you wanted such a thing.)

I should know well by now that when he says it’s tricky, he means that it will be tricky *right now*…for *me*. (He knows me very well.) However, it won’t still be tricky later, not even for me, because he’ll resolve what’s tricky in between reading Jalopnik and ogling pool cues and guns. Our conversation will turn to cars, then politics, then why I don’t like making chocolate chip cookie balls, and then how Nicki Minaj makes me want to stab something just by opening her mouth, and well…. A few weeks later I actually won The Forever Girl in a game of Twitter hangman shortly after remembering that I still haven’t bought it.

What’s your excuse?

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The Forever Girl. First thing…Look at that cover! Seriously, look at it. I’m not just fan-girl squealing here. Covers sell books, and this one is killer. It’s pretty and edgy. And sharp. I’m referring to pixels here…so many images are soft these days, and not in a pleasant romantic way. The model is dainty, and projects the self-consciousness and troubled soul of a woman caught between worlds. She is lovely inside as she is misunderstood without. The cover captures Sophia, so the book is off to a great start!

Cover: ★★★★★

Flip the virtual book over and read The Blurb:

Solving the mystery of an ancestor’s hanging might silence the clashing whispers in Sophia’s mind, but the cult in her town and the supernaturals who secretly reside there are determined to silence her first.

As Sophia unknowingly crosses the line into an elemental world full of vampire-like creatures, shapeshifters, and supernatural grim reapers, she meets Charles, a man who becomes both lover and ally.

But can she trust him?

It’s not until someone nearly kills Sophia that she realizes the only way to unveil the source of her family’s curse: abandon her faith or abandon her humanity. If she wants to survive, she must accept who she is, perform dark magic, and fight to the death for her freedom.

The blurb is…meh. It describes the book, but unlike the cover, it doesn’t capture either Sophia or her plight. For example, the noise in Sophia’s head is the catalyst for everything that follows in the book. “An ever-present static” are the first words of the first chapter. But the blurb mentions the hanging of an ancestor first thing. I think it undercuts the severity of the problem that the reader will encounter first. I’d have moved her desire to solve the mystery to the second paragraph, as what throws her into harm’s way.

Also, there’s nothing in the blurb that indicates she performs spells at all until the 4th paragraph, when it’s clear that dark magic is what will resolve her conflicts. The book introduces her Wiccan practice very early, so the progression towards dark magic is very organic in the story. But in the blurb, it feels very sudden.

Blurb: ★★

First Page:

Ms. Hamilton starts us off in a small town near Denver, Colorado. Sophia is on shift at a local diner, trying to drown out the buzz in her head with Pink Floyd. The effort is thwarted when a Christian cult leader demands to pay her check and leave before the secular music corrupts her.

There’s already so much world building here. The buzz is a hook, and Mrs. Franklin’s audacity sweetens the deal. There’s no way I’d put this book down, so the first page is a winner. And the rest of the chapter has a lot to offer the New Adult audience.

Sophia is a college graduate with a BA in History, looking for a job teaching that she can’t find. She needs experience to get a job and needs a job for experience. It’s THE catch-22 of Generations X, Y, and Z (or whatever they’re called). There is a missing piece here, and I applaud Ms. Hamilton for leaving it out. Many liberal arts fields…history included…are stepping stones toward graduate degrees. Most students don’t know when they declare these majors that they will need additional schooling to put their education to work. Even teaching will require certification, which involves more school. Many, like Sophia, will find themselves back home four years later, waiting tables or something. I find Sophia’s frustration at not being able to find a job, and ignorance of what her education has actually qualified her to do in the workforce, to be incredibly realistic.

In addition, doing something rash to put an end to something you just can’t take anymore, that’s a very relatable, too.

First Page/Chapter: ★★★★1/2

Story:

The Forever Girl spans six months of Sophia’s life, during which she battles a family curse, loses a dear friend, picks up a hot guy that she resists committing to, and wrestles with issues that most of us would need a therapist, (or a grandmother), to untangle. But, that’s really just the window dressing. Sophia’s story is an exhaustive exploration of acceptance. Innocents are hung for witchcraft to calm fears and satiate jealousy. Grudges and wishes are carried for desperate centuries in vain. A ruling council of immortals lay down a strict law that on its surface protects humans, but underneath designed to upset the balance of universe. And Sophia herself, who bristles at the persecution of her neighbors for her Wiccan faith, must learn to trust things she doesn’t understand and embrace herself for who she really is.

Ms. Hamilton illustrates this evolution by having Sophia make foreshadowing observations about herself. My favorite is when the young woman realizes that she wants nothing to do with Charles’ world, but everything to do with him, and that she can’t have both. But that world wants her, for a lot of reasons good and bad, to the same degree that our world, which she holds onto for months, wants her gone. Ms. Hamilton threads the supernatural through every page, every subplot, so when she pulls that string toward the end, Sophia’s life turns completely inside out. Sophia leaves our world behind, and the supernatural world becomes home. It’s ironic, then, that this transition actually has less to do with Charles than with her. Without giving away too much, the supernatural world has been hers longer than it has been his, so I find the fact that she wanted nothing to do with it rather poignant.

Story: ★★★★

The Ending

There are twists and turns in this book, and many of them in the final chapters. With the progression of reveals at the end…and my personal affection for snowballing climaxes…I enjoyed the pace. Things about the world that weren’t quite settled for me fell in to place. Charles, who had some flat spots until the end, finally rounded out for me. Most important for the first book in a series, it ended in a place that resolves the first set of conflicts while setting up the story and major players of book two nicely. All in all, it was a very satisfying ending to a fresh, creative story.

Ending: ★★★★

So, how do I grade The Forever Girl, by Rebecca Hamilton? It’s a solid 4 of 5…on her scale.