Counterpunch (Belonging #2) by Aleksandr Voinov

CounterpunchFight like a man, or die like a slave. 

Two years ago, Brooklyn Marshall was a happily married London policeman and amateur boxer with a promising future. Then he accidentally killed a rioter whose powerful father had him convicted of murder. To ease the burden on the prison system, the state sold Brooklyn into slavery. Now he’s the “Mean Machine,” competing on the slave prizefighting circuit for the entertainment of freemen, and being rented out for sexual service to his wealthier fans. 

When barrister Nathaniel Bishop purchases Brooklyn’s services for a night, Brooklyn braces himself for yet another round of humiliation and pain. But the pair form an unexpected bond that grows into something more. Brooklyn hesitates to call it love—such feelings can’t truly exist between freemen and slaves—but when Nathaniel reveals that he wants to get Brooklyn’s conviction overturned, Brooklyn dares to hope. 

Until an accident in the ring sends Brooklyn on the run, jeopardizing everything he’s worked so hard for. With the law on his tail and Nathaniel in his corner, he must prepare for the most important fight of his life: the fight for his freedom. 

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1The Belonging ‘uni’ Verse is not for the faint of heart. These are not easy books to read, but they have an important message. I will admit that Counterpunch wasn’t quite as heart wrenching as Anchored. Maybe it’s because Brooklyn wasn’t born a slave and he had the perfect way to vent his frustration. That didn’t make his existence any easier though. If anything, being born a freeman may have made things even harder on Brooklyn. He knew what had been ripped away from him.

Alternate worlds usually take me a while to get into, but the world that this series exists in wasn’t hard to imagine at all. I also think that is what makes them so scary. It’s probably because our history is riddled with prejudice and slavery. In some ways we’ve come a long way since then, in others we’ve taken more than a few steps back. Nathaniel isn’t naive about the way things work, but that doesn’t mean that he agrees with it. He’s in a position to help Brooklyn, but he also has his own secrets.

There were a few twists in Counterpunch. Some surprising, some not so much. It was a quick read and to say I enjoyed it would be a stretch, just because of the subject. I can say that I’m glad that I read it. It was another lesson in humanity that is well worth the read.

You can read Anchored and Counterpunch separately, but I recommend reading them together. The characters aren’t connected, but the worlds definitely are. The fact that one takes place in the US and the other in London just adds another layer to the world. Plus, the author’s did a great job of keeping true to the concept yet giving each book their own unique voice.

DragonFlyRating4

 

Books that Need MORE Attention Blog Hop & Giveaway

Books-that-need-more-attention-Giveaway-Hop

 

This is a Blog Hop dedicated to books that need more attention. Books that we love and want the world to know about. Books that captured our hearts and imaginations and…. okay, you get the idea. Thanks to Stuck In Books for hosting. Now on to the important stuff.

MR Merrick’s Protector Series

MRMerrickProtectorSeries
I have been a huge fan of MR Merrick since I was first introduced to Chase in Exiled. It’s a Fantasy, but it is also much more. The characters are well developed, the world building is beyond amazing and the author is not afraid to break you. Yeah, through most of this series I had a serious love/hate relationship with Mr. Merrick. These are books that you can’t read without having your emotions all over the place. The characters are smart and witty, sweet and devious, funny and charming. Some of them you’ll love and some of them you’ll hate and some of them you won’t know how to feel about… The books are full of magic, danger a little bit of romance and a lot of amazingly creative world building. Here’s a little bit about each one….

Exiled

ExiledChase Williams is a demon hunter in the Circle, or at least he was supposed to be. On his fifteenth birthday, Chase stepped up to the altar to claim his elemental power, but it never came. Elemental magic is passed down to a hunter through the bloodline, but on Chase’s birthday, the bloodline stopped. 
Exiled without the Circle’s protection, Chase has spent two years trying to survive a world riddled with half-demons and magic. When he has a run in with a frightened and seemingly innocent demon, he learns the Circle’s agenda has changed: the Circle plans to unlock a portal and unleash pure-blood demons into the world. Vowing to stop them, and knowing he can’t do it alone, Chase forms a reluctant alliance with Rayna — a sexy witch with an attitude and a secret. 
In their attempt to stop them, Chase and Rayna find themselves in the middle of the Circle’s plan, leaving one of them to decide what their friendship is worth, and the other’s life depending on it.

Shift

ShiftbyMerrickDevastated by a terrible loss, Chase is trying to balance the life he’s been left with, a family he’s still getting to know, and power he never thought he’d have. He doesn’t understand why the Goddess has named him the Protector and granted him two gifts: the Mark, a tattoo that now covers his back, and the ring. But between getting interrogated by the Circle and psychic attacks from Riley, the Mark is the least of his concern. There’s a demon inside Rayna that’s fighting to be released, and it’s not her inner witch. It’s something else—a monster threatening to tear her apart. 
As Chase struggles to control his magic, his enemies are closing in. Everyone has staked a claim on his ring, and destroying it may be his only chance to stop Riley. But Chase must decide if stopping him is worth risking the lives of everyone he cares about, or if protecting the ring will be enough to save his world.

 

Release

RELEASE Lo-ResAfter uniting the shifters and calling in reinforcements, Chase has to face his toughest challenge yet: learning to control his emotions. But as tensions rise and his powers grow, controlling his emotions becomes the least of his problems. Terrorized by a multi-shifter who is hell-bent on turning him, Chase questions just how far he’s willing to go to stop his father. Meanwhile, Tiki’s virtuous nature has placed him in the middle of Vincent’s past, leaving Chase to oppose a senate of vampires and defend a demon he hates. Trying to balance his friends, his enemies, and his inner demons, Chase is left searching for answers about the Mark, his destiny, and where he can find the next soul piece. Stopping Riley is his top priority, but as more obstacles arise, he finds himself doubting all the decisions he’s made – especially regarding Rayna. One thing is for certain: Chase has finally realized that he doesn’t know anything. The light doesn’t always quell the darkness, the monsters don’t always stay in the shadows, and the past doesn’t always stay in the past – sometimes, the demons inside are the hardest to fight.

Endure

301ed-endure_cover_finallargeWrapped in darkness and woven with defeat, every action Chase has taken since being exiled from the Circle has been met with a devastating response. Now he’s been burdened with a quest that seems impossible, and he needs to evolve into something more, something greater than he ever thought he could be.
Armed with magic, friendship, and an unbreakable will, Chase must build an army and find a weapon capable of defeating the ultimate evil. But he knows that nothing great comes without sacrifice. Blessed by the very gods who have abandoned him and carrying the fate of all the worlds on his shoulders, Chase Williams is about find out just how much one man can endure.

So… have I convinced you? If not, here’s a little more incentive. As the time of this post, Exiled is FREE. Just click on the picture of the book cover graphic and it will take you to the Amazon page. No risk involved. Already started the series and want more? MR Merrick has generously offered to allow me to give a copy of one of his books to one lucky winner. For this giveaway, I’ve chosen Release. All you have to do to enter is to leave a comment on this post during the Blog Hop. (October 1-14, 2014.) At the end of the Hop, I’ll choose one random winner. Since this giveaway is for an ebook, it’s International. Good luck!

Innocent Prey (Brown & de Luca #3) by Maggie Shayne

InnocentPreyTo save innocent lives, they’ll have to risk their own.

Self-help superstar Rachel de Luca and Detective Mason Brown have finally given in to their overwhelming attraction to each other, but neither of them is ready to let physical passion turn into full-blown romance, so they carefully maintain an emotional distance. Then a judge’s daughter disappears, and Mason has a terrible sense that it’s connected to the most recent case they solved together: the abduction of Rachel’s assistant.

The discovery of a string of missing women—all young, all troubled—seems like a promising lead. But there’s no clear connection between the missing girls and the high-profile young woman Mason is trying to find. He realizes that once again he’ll have to rely on his own well-honed instincts and Rachel’s uncanny capacity to see through people’s lies in order to catch a predator and rescue his captives. But can they do it before Rachel becomes his next victim?

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Brown & de Luca is quickly turning into one of my favorite suspense series. There’s just so much to love. Rachel de Luca is not what you would expect from a self-help guru, especially when she doesn’t believe the crap she dishes out…. or does she? Mason Brown is a good cop that did a very bad thing for the right reasons…. together these two are perfect. I love the bantering between the two of them. The self doubt that they both harbor and the total devotion that they have toward each other, even though they don’t want to reveal it. At least not quite yet. Yeah, I’m kinda sorta in love with these two.

Innocent Prey brought Rachel to a new realization. Her ‘power’ wasn’t a fluke and it wasn’t isolated. I don’t want to give too much away if you haven’t started the series yet, so I can’t say too much more. This series isn’t necessarily paranormal, but it does have a paranormal aspect. Her take on the whole thing was hilarious and she had me cracking up more than once. (Her label for what she is – or isn’t – so fits this character’s personality.) That was a nice diversion because a lot of not so funny stuff took place in this book. Kidnapping, murder, political cover-ups and more. This series is definitely not for the faint of heart.

I can honestly say that even though I had an idea early in this book about who some of the bad guys might be, I was still taken by surprise. The story was woven around several characters and even if you figure out who, the why is still a little blurry… and then things twist back around.

I’ve loved every single book in this series so far, but this one is my favorite. The supporting characters are getting even more developed, the romance between Rachel and Mason is heating up (even though I thought that Rachel was going to blow it… she’s now forgiven…. almost) and the story arc is becoming more intense. Innocent Prey had me on the edge of my seat, yelling at the characters (and the author) more than once, laughing and in tears. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for these characters next.

DragonFlyRating5

Father Found (Daddy School #1) by Judith Arnold

FatherFoundJamie McCoy is the ultimate guy: thirty years old, carefree and professionally successful as the writer of a nationally syndicated humor column called “Guy Stuff.” Nine and a half months ago, he spent a week basking on the beach in Eluthera and indulging in a fling with a woman at the resort. Never did he expect to find the unplanned result of that fling—a healthy, wailing baby named Samantha—strapped into a car seat on his back porch, along with a suitcase full of diapers and infant apparel and a note informing Jamie that he’s her father.

Maybe he is and maybe he isn’t. But first things first. He’s never fed a baby or changed a diaper in his life. He doesn’t own a crib or a stroller. In a panic, he phones the nearest hospital, where neonatal nurse Allison Winslow takes his call and tells him about a class she teaches called the Daddy School. 

Classes on how to be a dad are exactly what Jamie needs. But when he attends his first class and sees the tall, earnest, amazingly beautiful and even more amazingly competent Allison, he realizes that he might just need more from her than her lectures on how to hold a baby.

Jamie’s efforts to be a father to this precious baby touch Allison. His sense of humor amuses her. His striking good looks turn her on. But how can she trust the sort of guy who’d sleep with a stranger on vacation, without giving a thought to the consequences? How can she give her heart to such a reckless man?

I am not a reader who follows the crowd. I’m not a reader who is swayed by anyone’s opinion of a book. Yes, I have my trusted bloggers and readers that I depend on from time to time for reading recommendations, but I don’t always agree with them either. My taste is eclectic. Not only that, but I’m a very patient reader. I’ll give just about any book I pick up a fighting chance. Father Found was a book that I came very close to giving up on and that just makes me sad.

This is the first book written by Judith Arnold that I’ve read. I really liked her voice. It was easy to read, the characters were well developed and the story was good. So what made me almost give up on this book? I can sum it up in one word…. Allison. If you read any of the other reviews on this book you will see a theme. I swear I was not swayed by any of them. I just happen to share the same opinion. Allison just wasn’t a likable character. I can understand her having an opinion about Jamie’s character in the very beginning, but she never really lost that opinion of him. It got so bad that I got frustrated with Jamie because both he and Samantha deserved so much better. It’s hard to read and get into a romance when you’re routing for anyone else except for the ‘girl’ to get the ‘guy.’

Since this is the first book in the series, it was free and I actually liked the rest of the characters as well as the author’s writing style, I haven’t given up on the series. Who knows, Allison might redeem herself later in the series.

DragonFlyRating3

Shadow Burns (Preternatural Affairs #4) by S.M. Reine

ShadowBurnsWhen more than a dozen people die at a retirement home, the official story is carbon monoxide poisoning. Cèsar Hawke is convinced the reason is less mundane and more infernal. But that’s his job. As an agent working for the Office of Preternatural Affairs, he’s always looking for supernatural answers to deadly questions.

Isobel Stonecrow agrees to help him find the truth. With her powers of necrocognition, she can speak to the dead and get the real story.

But when they return to the crime scene, they find a lot more than cadavers. They find a nightmare that they can’t escape—a nightmare from Isobel’s past, which even she can’t completely remember thanks to the contract that signed away her soul.

Cèsar will have to disinter Isobel’s secrets to save her. He’ll learn who Isobel used to be, what she’s done, and the price she paid…no matter how deadly the knowledge might be.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Just in case you haven’t been paying attention, if it’s a book written by S.M. Reine it is automatically added to my TBR list. I anxiously await each new release and fill in the short lapses in between (she writes really, really fast) with books from her back list. She hasn’t introduced me to one of her characters that I haven’t liked… at least the ones that I’m supposed to like and some of them were ones that I didn’t like to begin with… well, you get the picture. The point of this little intro is that if I had to pick a favorite character of the many she has written, Cèsar would be at the top of that list. I’ve loved him since Witch Hunt, the very first book in this series. His ‘voice’ is so different than any of Reine’s other characters. I love his wit and his sarcasm. How can you not be entertained by inner dialogue like this?

Pops used to take my siblings and me to a corn maze every Halloween. The biggest damn corn maze that you can imagine. It had been so labyrinthine that the Minotaur would have gotten lost in it. Pops thought it was funny to drop us in there and let us try to figure it out on our own, while he drank with the farm’s owner. It pissed me off at the time, but now I understood it was good parenting. What else do you do with three unruly kids on a Halloween sugar high? Throw ‘em in a maze and go drink hard cider until they’re exhausted.

Yeah, I kinda love Cèsar, but there’s a lot more to love in the Preternatural Affairs series than just one character. He’s surrounded by smart, witty, secretive and mysterious characters. Fritz is full of surprises, Suzi is brutally honest and Isobel… well we learned a lot about her in Shadow Burns too.

There were so many twists, turns and revelations in this one that I can’t really say a whole lot. Just when I thought I had things figured out, it turns out I really didn’t. Just when I thought I certain of a  character’s loyalty, I was disappointed in them. Then, chapters later, I felt like I had to forgive them for my lack of trust. I love that about this author. She pulls no punches, doesn’t sugar coat a thing and isn’t afraid to pull the rug out from underneath anyone. She’s got the ‘evil author’ thing down to a science.

Once again, if you haven’t picked up at least one book by this author, do it now. There are several books in her early series that are FREE so you’ve got nothing to lose and a lot to gain. You don’t have to just take my word for it though. Below you can find a couple of bloggers/reviewers who also give S.M. Reine a high recommendation. Enjoy!

 Witch Hunt Review by Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal

Six Moon Summer Review by Tina Ryan on GoodReads

Death’s Hand Review by @ A Book Vacation

New Moon Summer Review by Sarah-Fae Graham on GoodReads

DragonFlyRating5

The Truth About Riley by Henrietta Clarke

TruthAboutRileyRiley Aylworth’s life has been completely devoid of intimate contact since a fire three years ago left him with horrific facial scarring, so when he finds an ad for a phone sex service, he decides to give it a call. Except that the number is not a phone sex service—it’s the revenge Cameron Kirkwood’s ex-boyfriend took on the uptight advertising executive after Cam forgot their anniversary and accidentally put him in the hospital. Needless to say, after thirty-nine disturbing calls seeking phone sex, Cameron is at the end of his tether and yells at his fortieth caller. What he doesn’t expect is for Riley to hit redial and yell right back.

The argument helps both Cameron and Riley vent about their issues, and when they’ve calmed down, they decide to exchange numbers and talk again. From this decision springs a friendship that, over time, grows into a gentle romance—all over the phone, because Riley is too scared to meet Cam in person. Showing a potential boyfriend his disfigured face is the fastest way to get rejected, right? Even a month of scorching hot phone sex can’t change his mind, no matter how hard Cam tries to persuade him that with their phone chemistry, the sex would be so much better in person.

Meanwhile, Cam is haunted by the scarred blond he seems to be seeing everywhere, and Riley can’t get the handsome brunet who always seems happy to see him out of his mind. It’s a shock to both men to realise that the guy they’re falling for over the phone is also the man who brightens their day with just a smile; but it’s one thing to let a stranger smile at you and quite another to let him close enough to see into your soul. If Riley can’t break down the walls in his mind and believe that Cameron loves him in spite of his scars, their relationship may be doomed before they’ve even had a chance to kiss.

This is another one that falls into the 4 1/2 – 5 star category. For the record, if a book makes me feel… pretty much anything, it’s earned itself at least 4 stars. If it makes me cry, not just a sniffle, but full on tears, it’s pretty much guaranteed a high rating. That’s not the only criteria that causes me to rank a book higher than most, but it’s definitely a deal breaker. The thing about The Truth About Riley is that the tears weren’t caused by the character I expected.

Riley was so broken, yet he was stronger than he realized. I admired that strength. I understood his reluctance to put his heart on the line though. He cared about his friendship with Cam too much to risk it. The fact that he didn’t hide totally and didn’t stay a total recluse when the alternative would have been much easier is where my admiration came from.

I absolutely loved Cam. Not that I didn’t love Riley too, but his feelings and acceptance toward Riley were what made me fall in love with him. He was just a little bit broken himself. He accepted it and moved on… kind of. He didn’t realize how much he was missing until he got a taste of what he could have had.

This romance was layered. The characters didn’t actually meet face to face until the last part of the book. That was okay though. It not only gave them a chance to get to know each other, it also gave the reader time to really get to know not just them, but the supporting characters. Those characters weren’t just filler, they added a whole other dimension to the story. All of them. From Cam’s quirky, nosey co-workers to Riley’s friends and family. I loved them all. If I had to pick a favorite though it would be Riley’s mom. She was amazing and, for the record, that’s where the tears came from. *sigh*

This story’s progression was unique, the characters were fun and well developed and the romance was sweet. I know that the next book in the series is currently in the works and I can’t wait to see more of Cam and Riley and the rest of these characters that I’m eager to get to know just a little bit better. ;)

DragonFlyGreen4-5

Unbreakable (The Legion #1) by Kami Garcia

Kami Garcia/UnbreakableI never believed in ghosts. Until one tried to kill me.

When Kennedy Waters finds her mother dead, her world begins to unravel. She doesn’t know that paranormal forces in a much darker world are the ones pulling the strings. Not until identical twins Jared and Lukas Lockhart break into Kennedy’s room and destroy a dangerous spirit sent to kill her. The brothers reveal that her mother was part of an ancient secret society responsible for protecting the world from a vengeful demon — a society whose five members were all murdered on the same night.

Now Kennedy has to take her mother’s place in the Legion if she wants to uncover the truth and stay alive. Along with new Legion members Priest and Alara, the teens race to find the only weapon that might be able to destroy the demon — battling the deadly spirits he controls every step of the way.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Kami Garcia is half of the Garcia/Stohl duo that created the Caster Chronicles and Dangerous Creatures worlds. Even though I’ve only read the first book in both of these series (Beautiful Creatures and Dangerous Creatures) I’ve now become a fan of this duo, whether they are writing together or independently.

I liked Kennedy. She grew up not knowing anything about the world of ghosts and demons, magic and pure evil. She did know loss though, even before her mother’s death. She also wasn’t quite normal, but she fit in the best she could regardless. The moment that Lukas and Jared walked into her shattered world, nothing would ever be the same…. for any of them.

Her rescue introduced the rest of the Legion. I’m not sure which one of the crew I liked more. I think Priest may have been my favorite, but with each scene each one of them revealed a hidden part of themselves that made me like them even more. Their stories were heartbreaking. In a way I could totally understand why Kennedy’s mom had kept the world that Priest, Alara, Lukas and Jared had grown up in hidden from her. The trust that bonded these kids together came from that past, but it grew with each dangerous task that they had to complete.

The story was fast paced and the mystery kept the pages turning. The 300+ pages went by way too fast. Before I knew it, the story was over and the end…. Yikes! My short review as soon as I finished was ‘I want Unmarked now!’ and that wasn’t an exaggeration. There’s a lot left unknown and the fate of everyone is left hanging. It’s a good thing that readers only have a couple of weeks to wait as of the date of this post.

I supposed for those who are totally turned off by love-triangles, I should mention that Unbreakable does contain one. They aren’t usually a deal breaker for me, so this one didn’t bother me. Maybe because I felt like there was never any doubt who would win Kennedy’s heart. It might have also been because I saw it more as left over animosity between the boys than ‘who’s going to get the girl.’ That’s just my opinion though, so consider yourself warned. :)

DragonFlyGreen4-5

 

Anchored: A Belonging Novel (Belonging #1) by Rachel Haimowitz

AnchoredNetwork news anchor Daniel Halstrom is at the top of his field, but being at the bottom of the social ladder—being a slave—makes that hard to enjoy. Especially when NewWorld Media, the company that’s owned him since childhood, decides to lease him privately on evenings and weekends to boost their flagging profits. 

Daniel’s not stupid; he knows there’s only one reason someone would pay so much for what little free time he has. But dark memories of past sexual service leave him certain he won’t survive it again with his sanity intact. 

He finds himself in the home of Carl Whitman, a talk show host whose words fail him when it comes to ordering Daniel into his bed. Carl can’t seem to take what he must want, and Daniel’s not willing to give it freely. His recalcitrance costs him dearly, but with patience and some hard-won understanding, affection just might flourish over fear and pain. Carl holds the power to be an anchor in Daniel’s turbulent life, but if he isn’t careful, he’ll end up the weight that sinks his slave for good. 

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I knew that Anchored was going to be a tough read before I even started it. In fact, I avoided requesting the ARC for just that reason. I skimmed over the synopsis a couple of times and still shied away from it. Then the reviews started popping up and even though I didn’t really read them, I could tell that this was a book that needed to be read, so here we are. I wasn’t wrong about it being a hard book to read. What I wasn’t ready for was how powerful it would be.

Anchored is set in a world very different from the one we currently live. It’s unbalanced and beyond scary. Daniel is a slave, nothing more than property and that point is driven into him on a daily basis. He is a lesser being. The Masters believe that those beneath them have an inability to feel. They are to be used, to serve and are easily discarded and punished severely when they fail to perform to the standards that the Masters and Handlers set for them. Those punishments far out weigh the ‘crimes.’

Carl is different than most Masters. He treats his slaves almost as friends. I liked him, but I still got frustrated with him. Even though he lived as a Master he was really clueless about how cruel Daniel’s owners really were. He put Daniel in a lot of danger without even realizing he was doing it. Basically, he didn’t belong in the world that they lived in any more than Daniel did. Once he got it, his determination to change things just a little for Daniel made me like him even more.

Anchored was more than a romance…. actually in a lot of ways it was far from a romance. It was more a lesson in humanity. When today’s society thinks of slavery they fall back on history where one race was deemed to be inferior and property. In Daniel and Carl’s society a gene – that scientists couldn’t even isolate – determined whether or not you were a slave. It encompassed all races and generations of those families. There was no rising above it. No chance of freedom unless you were born a Freeman.

Daniel held a spark that touched a lot of people and made them doubt what they had gone through life just accepting. His story can’t be read without making you feel… angry, scared, heartbroken…. Anchored definitely didn’t have a HEA, but it came as close as it could get. There are things, people and circumstances that this book will make me look at in a totally different way for a very long time.

Just a little warning, those punishments are written in detail. Daniel suffered both mentally and physically and no one should go into this book lightly. 

DragonFlyGreen4-5

Inferno Park by J.L. Bryan

InfernoParkCarter was only twelve when he witnessed the disaster that killed more than a hundred people at Starland Amusement Park. Five years later, Carter’s hometown is no longer a busy Florida panhandle resort, but a slowly dying town full of empty motels and attractions rusting behind chains and padlocks.

Now something evil stirs in the ruins of the old amusement park…something with an alluring siren song drawing visitors into the dark mysteries of the forbidden world behind the gate. Something with an appetite for restless, yearning souls. 

Carter reluctantly returns to the old park in the company of a new girl in town, who is obsessed with urban decay and pop-culture ruins, and discovers the evil at work. To stop it, and protect the children of the town, Carter will have to face his oldest and deepest fears.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1You know when you watch a scary movie and you yell at the stupid characters to not go in that abandoned house, not look out the window into the shadows, not to leave their safe and warm bed to see what was making that eerie noise outside? Then, when they do it anyway, you cover your eyes and hope that they aren’t going to end up dead… or worse? Yeah, I spent a lot of time mentally yelling at the characters in this book. If I could have closed my eyes I would have, but that would have made it kind of difficult to read.

It came as no surprise to me that J.L Bryan did scary well. That’s actually part of the reason why I drug my feet in finally reading Inferno Park. His vivid descriptions and his talent at making readers squirm is evident in both his dark Paranormals series and his lighter Songs of Magic series. I had no doubt that the same vivid descriptions and attention to detail would take the horror factor in Inferno Park over the top. I wasn’t disappointed.

Besides spending a lot of time trying to mentally coax characters into doing the smart thing and stay away from the creepy abandoned amusement park, I enjoyed the story and the characters. Carter was a sweet kid at 12 and had grown into an impressive teen. He was pretty level headed as well as compassionate. He could have easily given up, especially with all he had been through. He had a goal to work his way out of town and for a lot of reasons, he took it very seriously.

Victoria was great too. I think I liked her most for bringing a spark back into Carter’s life. She shook things up. I liked her outlook and the unique way she looked at things.

As for the story itself… it was intense. No, the author held nothing back. The gore, the terror and the suspense were all there. Thankfully, there were tiny breaks in the in those moments where things seemed almost normal. There were even a couple of moments that made me smile, but not a lot of them. The different POVs that were divided between most of the characters gave the story a different kind of flow. I liked it. Well, ‘like’ may not be the correct word since most of those POVs didn’t end well…. but you get the idea.

No one came out of this one totally unscathed and there was more than one moment where I wanted to read ahead just to make sure that everyone made it out alive… but I didn’t… and you shouldn’t either. If you’re looking for something scary to read with an intriguing story line, Inferno Park is perfect.

DragonFlyGreen4-5

Sins & Needles (The Artists Trilogy #1) by Karina Halle

SinsAndNeedlesEllie Watt is used to starting over. The daughter of a grifting team, Ellie spent her childhood being used as a pawn in her parents’ latest scam. Now she’s much older, wiser and ready to give her con artist life a rest. But returning to the dry desert town of Palm Valley, California means one more temptation than she bargained for – Camden McQueen. Once known as the high school weirdo, Camden is bigger and badder than the boy he used to be and a talented tattoo artist with his own thriving business. Ellie’s counting on Camden still being in love with her but what she’s not counting on is how easily unrequited love can turn into obsession over time. When Camden discovers Ellie’s plan to con him, he makes her a deal she doesn’t dare refuse, but her freedom comes with a price and it’s one that takes both Ellie and Camden down a dangerous road.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1This book… yeah… well… I don’t even know where, much less how to begin. It was like standing on the sidelines watching a catastrophe about to happen and not being able to do anything about it. Without the ability to help, you know you should look away, but you just can’t help yourself from taking it all in…. yeah, Sins & Needles was a lot like that.

I’ve only read one other book by Karina Halle, but I love her style. It’s unique and gives her characters a realistic edge. I loved that edge in Darkhouse, the first book in her Experiments in Terror series. Experiencing it again in Sins & Needles has planted her firmly on my TBR list.

Ellie was not your normal heroine. She would have actually made a pretty decent bad guy (or girl) because that’s exactly what she was. Without her back story, she would have been really easy to dislike. That back story though was heartbreaking. It was so easy to see how she could have been a totally different person if…  But then readers wouldn’t have been introduced to the Ellie that was created from all that heartbreak. The more I got to know her, the more I liked her and the harder it was to watch…

And then there was Camden. He was no angel either. There were times that I both loved and hated him as well. Honestly I don’t think I’ve ever read a story that kept me ping-ponging between love and hate for the main characters as much as Sins & Needles did.

To say that this book kept me on the edge of my seat would be an understatement. The connection between these two was explosive, electric, at time destructive and surprisingly beautiful. The story itself contained twists, turns, danger, revelations and ultimate choices that changed everything. And then there was the ending …. yeah, pretty much like the rest of the book. I’m both anxious and terrified to read Shooting Scars.

DragonFlyGreen4-5