Cold Shadow (Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper #2) by JL Bryan

ColdShadowsFootsteps in the attic. Toys that play by themselves. A dark presence in an upstairs room.

Paranormal investigator Ellie Jordan faces a difficult new case. Her new clients are a family haunted by multiple ghosts and a poltergeist that wrecks their home at night. Their seven-year-old son’s invisible friends may not be imaginary at all, but the restless spirits of dead children.

To clear her clients’ house of the dangerous entities, Ellie must unravel the mysterious deaths of another family who lived in the old mansion more than a hundred and sixty years ago—and she must do it before the ghosts can carry out their malevolent designs on her clients and their children.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I came to a couple of conclusions by the end of Cold Shadows. One… there is no limit to what J.L. Bryan will put his characters through – Two… Ellie Jordan must have a Guardian Angel somewhere, because there is no other reason why she is still alive and three… This series keeps getting better and better. 😉

I’m not sure if all the books in this series are going to include children in mortal danger, but that aspect has definitely sucked me in. Cold Shadows had two, a seven year old and a rebelling teen. That in itself could be a lethal combination. Couple it with a family of ghosts and a not so friendly possible poltergeist and this book was enough to scare the pants off of you.

Beyond the amazing story I’m also falling in love with the characters the more I get to know them. Ellie is an amazing lead character. Stacey is not only (sometimes annoyingly) adorable but she’s turning into a capable sidekick. Grant is a quirky, adorable historian. Jacob is still the reluctant psychic but becoming more and more a part of the team and I really liked seeing more of Calvin, especially working with the clients. The interactions between all of them, along with the clients, laces the horror with humor and a sense of family. I can’t wait to see where this series goes. 😉

Speaking of which, the next book can’t come soon enough. The Crawling Darkness is the 3rd book in the Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper series. Doesn’t that sound like fun? *shivers*

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Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper (Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper #1) by J.L. Bryan

EllieJordanGhostTrapperEllie Jordan’s job is to catch and remove unwanted ghosts. Part detective, part paranormal exterminator, Ellie operates out of Savannah, Georgia, one of the oldest and most haunted cities in North America.

When a family contacts her to deal with a disturbing presence in the old mansion they’ve recently purchased, Ellie first believes it to be a typical, by-the-book specter, a residual haunting by a restless spirit. Instead, she finds herself confronting an evil older and more powerful than she’d ever expected, rooted in the house’s long and sordid history of luxury, sin, and murder. The dangerous entity seems particularly interested in her clients’ ten-year-old daughter.

Soon her own life is in danger, and Ellie must find a way to exorcise the darkness of the house before it can kill her, her clients, or their frightened young child. 

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Well, it seems that J.L. Bryan has done it again. He’s hooked me on a series with the first book. *sigh*

Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper is told entirely from Ellie Jordan’s POV. For the record, I love her. She’s one of those real kind of characters that you instantly not only relate to, but want to hang out with. She’s snarky, honest, loyal, protective and just a little bit broken.

The rest of the cast of characters is just as real. Stacey the spunky side-kick, Calvin the no-nonsense and slightly mysterious boss and Jacob the reluctant psychic. Thank goodness this is a series because there is so much I want to learn about them all. One book is definitely not enough.

Throw in a a terrorized family (young child included), a vengeful spirit, more than a couple angry ghosts, at least one entity that isn’t quite what it seems and… well, you get the idea. This book was full of twists, turns and chill inducing scary moments. I loved every minute of it. 😉 As expected from this author, he left little to the imagination when it came to descriptions. Nothing was held back and there was just enough reality in the world building that it’s going to be a while before I hear an unexplained noise in my 100+ year old house and don’t wonder… just a little.

Cold Shadows is the next book in the Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper series and it’s due to be released later this month. It’s also high on my TBR list.

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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.

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Tommy Nightmare (Paranormals #2) by J.L. Bryan

AssassinWhile Fallen Oak recovers from the Jenny pox, someone new is hunting Jenny. 
Like Jenny, Ashleigh Goodling belonged to a pair of opposites with powers that mirror each other. 
Now Jenny and Seth must face the opposite of love… 

Yeah, so I am WAY behind on this series. I read Jenny Pox eons ago…. well, not quite that long ago, but long enough. Then I was gifted the audio version and listened to it. That experience was just as mesmerizing. So what’s taken me so long to pick up the rest of the series? I have absolutely no idea. *sigh*

Tommy Nightmare picked up pretty much where Jenny Pox left off…. eventually. First readers had to take a little side trip and get introduced to Tommy. In the beginning I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be sympathizing with him or not. Honestly I’m still not positive even after reading the entire book. Tommy’s background wasn’t easy. The lines between good and evil in Tommy Nightmare. Well, except when there was no question about the evil….

Okay, so I know that this review is vague and seems to be going back and forth, but it’s one of those books that you have to read and experience to understand. There’s nothing simple about this series. The lives of these characters are interwoven in so many different ways it’s impossible to explain. Just know that not everything is as it seems, there is no true ‘good’ or ‘evil’ just a lot of gray and not everyone is who or what they appear to be. The POV changed. Characters that I once liked I started to doubt and some new ones were thrown into the mix that I’m still not sure about. J.L Bryan definitely knows how to keep readers on there toes.

Alexander Death is next and I’m not exactly sure how I feel about his character. So much happened between Seth, Jenny, Tommy and other characters in Tommy Nightmare. Alexander’s character adds a whole new layer, and complication, to the mix.

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Fairy Luck (Songs of Magic #6) by J.L. Bryan

FairyLuckCoverSMALLERWhile the Zebras reel from the loss of Erin, Erin herself makes some troubling discoveries while connecting with her ancestors.
In Faerie, Aoide and her troupe seem to finally be enjoying their big break…but danger is on the way, and nothing is ever what it seems when you’re dealing with leprechauns and the treacherous Queen Mab.

Every time I pick up another book from the Songs of Magic series I’m amazed. Honestly, I’m not being sarcastic. What amazes me is how J.L. Bryan can weave a story that has you giggling about its silliness then just a few pages later have you on the edge of your seat worrying about the characters he’s made you truly care about.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Even though this series is on the light side compared to Bryan’s other books. it still has its dark moments. The band has split up after Erin’s ‘death.’ Erin meets ancestors in Faerie that she didn’t know she and secrets are revealed about others that she never expected. Aoide and her troupe also make some startling discoveries while traveling through Faerie and the description is right, nothing is quite like it seems and people aren’t always who they appear to be.

Fairy Luck is another wild ride in the Songs of Magic saga and the story just keeps getting better and more dangerous. No cliff hanger, but readers are left with lots and lots of questions. What exactly is Mad Queen Mab up too? Why was it so important for Jason and Erin to be pulled apart? What is the real magic that surrounds the instruments Jason stole that started this whole crazy story? And finally, what will Erin discover when her family mysteries are revealed? Evidently we’ll find out all the answers soon because Book 7 will be the final book in the Songs of Magic series. Yes, these books are silly at times, but there’s always something more to them too.

Fairy 3D 1 copyWant to get a taste of the Songs of Magic series? J.L. Bryan has graciously offered his boxed set for a giveaway 😉 All you have to do to win the first four books in this magical series is to tell me in the comments what instrument you would love to be able to ‘magically’ play. That’s it! Good luck! I’ll pick a winner randomly from the comments on August 1.

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Jenny Pox (The Paranormals) by J. L. Bryan

Eighteen-year-old Jenny Morton has a horrific secret: her touch spreads a deadly supernatural plague, the “Jenny pox.” She lives by a single rule: Never touch anyone. A lifetime of avoiding any physical contact with others has made her isolated and painfully lonely in her small rural town.

Then she meets the one boy she can touch. Jenny feels herself falling for Seth…but if she’s going to be with him, Jenny must learn to use the deadly pox inside her to confront his ruthless and manipulative girlfriend Ashleigh, who secretly wields the most dangerous power of all.

Review update: I originally read Jenny Pox in March of 2012. I was debating about whether or not I was going to pick it up for a reread before I started Tommy Nightmare. Since I was given the audio version of the book, my decision was made for me. I don’t listen to a lot of audio books, but I’m beginning to see the appeal. The audio version of Jenny Pox had me just as enthralled as the ebook version. My review stands true from my previous read and now I’m looking forward even more to continuing the series. 

Before I start this review, I need to make a confession. I think I might be one of the few people around who read J.L. Bryan’s Songs of Magic Series before at least starting his Paranormals Series. I’m not sure why I waited, but the good news in all of this is that it was definitely worth the wait and I can now call myself a true J.L Bryan fan. 🙂

I picked Jenny Pox up on a Saturday and finished it before the weekend was over. Once I got into the story, it was an impossible book to put down. Jenny’s story was as heartbreaking as it was beautiful. I loved getting to know her and the other characters. Then there were the not so nice characters – trust me, there was no shortage of those either. I honestly don’t think that I’ve ever read a character that I disliked more than Asleigh.

There were parts of Jenny Pox that were very hard to read. When things went bad, they went really, really bad. The cruelty that Jenny endured was really hard for me to grasp throughout the book. The length that Ashleigh was willing to go to reach her own personal goals was terrifying. The climax of the book took me totally by surprise. I never saw it coming. Powerful, heartbreaking and terrifying. Wow!

Before you read Jenny Pox you need to realize that this is not a YA read. Even though the main characters are teens, they are older teens. The themes are very adult and the emotions are raw and intense and the author doesn’t sugar coat either.

I can’t wait to pick up the next installment of this series. The good thing about waiting to read a series is that you don’t have to wait to read the rest of the books. Tommy NightmareAlexander Death and Jenny Plague-Bringer are ready and waiting for me to pick up. Sometimes procrastination pays off. 😉

Unseen by J.L. Bryan

UnseenCassidy is a young tattoo artist living in the Little Five Points neighborhood of Atlanta. She’s always suffered terrible nightmares, and sometimes the hideous creatures seem to follow her out of her dreams and into her waking life, though she’s the only one who can see them. Drugs and alcohol can blot them out, but never entirely chase them away.

When a demonic cult begins to take control of the people in her life, including her younger brother, Cassidy discovers that the unseen world of monsters is very real. She can no longer avoid it. To protect those she loves, she must accept her own hidden supernatural talents and face the forces of evil before the sinister cult achieves its twisted goals and casts the world into darkness.

Let me just say that I have never picked up a J.L Bryan book that I CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1didn’t like. He’s made me laugh out loud with his whimsical and light Songs of Magic series. His Paranormals series was intense, heartbreaking and brought with it a powerful message. Then there was Nomad that took readers on a scary and intense trip through time. I thought J.L. Bryan had pulled out all the stops with his previous books. I thought I knew what I was in for when I picked up The Unseen. Not. Even. Close.

Okay, I have to be honest here. When I first started reading The Unseen I really wasn’t sure I was going to like it. I expected the horror… that is the genre after all. I didn’t expect the author to hold back in the details. Whether beautiful or violent, being hesitant or ‘careful’ just isn’t this author’s style. What held me back were the characters. I just couldn’t connect with them. Then, as the layers of the story were revealed, some mysteries were solved and secrets were exposed I understood. My whole feeling about Cassidy and her family and friends changed. Once I reached that point there was no turning back. I couldn’t put The Unseen down and before I knew it, the story was over. Wow!

This is not a book for the faint of heart. Like I said, J.L. Bryan is not known for holding back and he definitely pulled out his entire arsenal in The Unseen. It was intense, scary, violent and graphic. It also had very layered, smart, witty and interesting characters that were reckless but loyal, crazy but brave and more than enough bad guys to keep things interesting. It was definitely a wild ride, but I didn’t want it to end. As a matter of fact, my first response when I was finished was ‘it can’t be over!’ It didn’t end in a cliff hanger, things were wrapped up well, but I could tell that Cassidy’s story wasn’t quite finished. I don’t think it will be any time soon, but hopefully this is one character that J.L. Bryan will be bringing back. I want to know that they’re OK. I want to know what happens next. I want more! Thankfully J.L. Bryan agrees, so stay tuned.  😉

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Nomad by J.L. Bryan

NomadThey took everything: her family, her home, her childhood.

By the age of nineteen, Raven has spent most of her life in the sprawling slums of America, fighting as a rebel against the dictatorship. When the rebellion steals an experimental time-travel device, she travels back five decades to the year 2013. Her plan: assassinate the future dictator when he is still young and vulnerable, long before he comes to power. She must move fast to reshape history, because agents from her own time are on her trail, ready to execute her on sight.

Nomad is set to release on July 26, 2013.

Nomad was nothing like I expected it to be. I’ve come to realize that that is the norm for any book written by J.L.Bryan. For the record, I love the unexpected. 😉

This was a book that required every bit of your attention. Not only the world building, but the entire concept was complex. Raven was not only from the future, it was a very dark future. It was a future that she wanted to change, but first she had to put the pieces of her past back together.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I really liked this character. She was strong, determined, smart and sincere. She was also witty and resourceful. As female leads go, Raven pretty much nailed it.

The author took two very complex themes (time travel and dystopian) and melded them together into an amazing story. There was also plenty of action, humor, romance and heartbreak. Yeah, I really didn’t expect that….

There’s also a lot I can’t say because I don’t want to give anything away, so I apologize in advance for being vague. You’ll thank me later, honest. Just know that this journey through time is well worth the trip and it has everything you’ve come to expect from this author and more. And if by chance this will be your first experience with a J.L. Bryan book, it’s a very good place to start.

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Fairyvision (Songs of Magic #5) by J.L. Bryan

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJason, Erin, and the other Zebras go on a world tour with their enchanted instruments, only to encounter the mysterious supernatural Folk of India and the Far East. While they tangle with their record company, Erin tries to avoid dealing with the secrets she’s learned about herself, while Jason pieces together a mystery surrounding a very special golden guitar called Caliburn.

In Faerie, Aoide the Lutist and her troupe finally return home from their long adventure. They’re struggling to get new gigs, but Aoide senses opportunity in the form of special new magic mirrors that can broadcast concerts, plays, and other entertainment all over Faerie.

When I first read Fairy Metal Thunder, I thought it was kind of quirky and cute. As the Songs of Magic series continues, I can’t really say that anymore. Of course it’s still quirky and cute. It’s still centered around a group of teens who stole magical instruments from a troupe of talented fairies. You can’t get much quirkier than that. The difference is that with each installment, J.L. Bryan takes it up a notch. The humor, wit, danger, action, lessons learned… it’s all so much more than it started out to be.

There’s just so much to love about this series, especially the constants. Erin and Jason are still great together. Dred is still the voice of reason. Mitch is still totally ridiculous and the parents of the Zebras are still clueless. Then there are all the new twists and turns, secrets revealed, new character traits and surprises that J.L. Bryan throws into the mix that keep the pages turning. I not a only love the time that readers spend with Eric, Jason, Mitch and Dred, but now Aoide and her troupe have become so much more than the fairies that had their instruments stolen. The bad guys are even fun to hate! 😉

Like I mentioned, the author took this one up a notch. There was sill a lot of silliness, but it was laced with some seriousness too. Despite what’s on the surface, these characters are dealing with real issues. The balance works well and keeps those serious moments from weighing readers down. As for how things were left at the end of Fairyvision? I have to admit that I saw where things were going, but I still wasn’t prepared. The fate of a few characters were definitely in question at the end and there will be a lot of changes that they will all have to deal with in the next book. I can’t wait to see exactly how J.L. Bryan plans on turning this one around….

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Fairyland (Songs of Magic #4) J.L. Bryan

Jason and Erin’s urgent mission takes them deep into the colorful and deadly wilds of Faerie, full of bizarre and rude creatures, and past the glittering volcanic islands of the Southward Sea.

In man-world, Mitch and Dred try to prepare for a live concert in front of millions of viewers while half their band is missing. The record company is furious with them, and so are a certain violet-haired fairy and her banshee wolf friend, who finally catch up with them in Los Angeles.

In Faerie, Queen Mab and the leprechaun Aonghus Mac Lobhar enter into a secret agreement over a new kind of magic that will change fairyland forever.

Fairyland is the 4th book in J.L. Bryan’s Songs of Magic Series and each book draws the reader farther and farther into the world that the author has created.

This book has the reader spending a lot more time in Faerie than any of the others before it. Bryan holds nothing back with his imaginative descriptions and takes readers on a tour of a world that is as amazingly beautiful as it is terrifying. This author’s Faerie is not a place that I would want to go to alone.

I really like where the series is headed. Of course, that may have to do with all the quality time that Erin and Jason are FINALLY spending together. It’s more than that though. As silly as the story gets at times, there is still a lot of ‘meat’ to it. A lot of secrets are revealed. Some of them I saw coming and some of them I didn’t. There are also some alliances formed that should prove to be interesting. From where Fairyland ended, there is still a lot more to come. I can’t wait to see what J.L Bryan has in store for our band of characters next.