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. 😉

The Dreaming (Bone Dressing #2) by Michelle Brooks

The time for best friends and midnight escapes to the cemetery Syd calls home is over.

As Syd faces the dangerous mysteries lurking in the shadowed depths of her past, she must sail from the shores of sanity through the rocky waters of the unknown on her journey to the sleeping bones of her next past-life. Caught on a roller coaster ride through mysterious cultures, rogue mercenary pirates, past loves and new-found abilities, Syd must find the strength to listen to her own heart. She must find a way to embrace her destiny, her future … and her past.

Help continues to come through the unlikely team of Sarah and T.J., Syd’s personal time-challenged dynamic duo. Blipping on and off her radar at the worst times, they never seem to be front and center when she really needs them. And Beau … when will she be able to function, to breathe, in his presence? What is her inescapable connection to him? And why can’t he admit his attraction to her?

Off on a race against time, against evil-incarnate, against her own fears and passions, Syd must turn to the strength within. To the strength of Bone Dressing. Bone Dressing: The Dreaming, the second in a series of seven books, will carry Syd and Beau further on their adventure that transcends life itself.

I really enjoyed Bone Dressing – the first installment in Michelle Brooks’ Bone Dressing Series. I couldn’t wait to get more of Beau and Syd, not to mention T.J. and Sarah. I was even looking forward to more confrontations with Mr. ‘A’. What I wasn’t expecting was to be even more enthralled with this story than I was before.

The Dreaming continues the story of Syd and her quest to right wrongs that that occurred in past lives. The concept is totally unique and that combined with Brooks’ descriptive writing style, a flair for action and her flowing dialogue make Syd’s story genuinely entertaining. How entertaining? Well, for this review I decided to try something a little different. Since I don’t really think that I can do the book justice by just talking about it, I thought maybe I should just let the book speak for itself.

So, do you like books that start with bang? How’s this for an opening paragraph?

“Shit! What the hell are you doing?” My body slammed up against the ship’s central mast and bounced off, not slowing down the slightest bit with the sudden change of direction. Immediately I ricocheted against Beau’s chest before crashing right back into the mast, the salt water splashing off the solid wood post, stinging my eyes like a hive full of hostile bees. My eyelids slammed closed in a last-ditch attempt at self-preservation. God, my eyes were on fire! It felt like they were going to burn a hole through my skin and go rolling across the deck any second.

And then there is the romance. Oh yes, the romance. There is a an undeniable attraction between Syd and Beau that transcends time.

As our lips met, the world simply ceased to exist. There was just this moment, Beau, me, the water lapping at our bodies, caressing us with its cool blessings of life and love. Beau’s hands slid up my shoulders, weaving into the hair at the back of my head, pulling me desperately deeper within his kiss… within his embrace… within him.

How about the macabre? An aspect of the story that is so dark it’s actually mesmerizing?

My head turned suddenly, following a couple who’d just come around the path from behind me. They were dressed up like a bride and groom. A rotting, decomposing bride and groom, yes, but a bride and groom nonetheless. Deep, dark eye sockets gazed longingly at one another, full of love and adoration, despite their current decrepit state. As they joined the crowd of dancing bodies he took her bone-drawn hand, twirling her into the center of the skeleton ball.

So, are you convinced? Like I said, I really liked Bone Dressing, but I was even more impressed with The Dreaming. I’m thinking that this is one series that is just going to get better and better with each installment. It has a little bit of everything. Romance, humor, mystery, magic and more than enough action. Because of the language (mainly from Syd… Beau just can’t keep her mouth under control) and the sexual situations and violence, I wouldn’t categorize this as YA. Maybe older teens or New Adult, but definitely not younger teens. Book 2 is a lot more intense in every way, but that intensity was an integral part of The Dreaming. Anything less wouldn’t have stayed true to the characters or the story.

The Bone Dressing Series will include 7 books so there is a lot more action in store for Syd, Beau, T.J., Sarah and Mr. “A” in the coming books. The next book in the series is The Awakening and I can’t wait to see where in the world or the past, this cast of characters ends up next.

Mark of the Witch (The Portal #1) by Maggie Shayne

She was born to save what he is sworn to destroy… 

A lapsed Wiccan, Indira Simon doesn’t believe in magic anymore. But when strange dreams of being sacrificed to an ancient Babylonian god have her waking up with real rope burns on her wrists, she’s forced to acknowledge that she may have been too hasty in her rejection of the unknown. Then she meets mysterious and handsome Father Tomas. Emerging from the secrecy of an obscure Gnostic sect, he arrives with stories of a demon, a trio of warrior witches-and Indira’s sacred calling. Yet there’s something even Tomas doesn’t know, an inescapable truth that will force him to choose between saving the life of the woman he’s come to love-and saving the world.

Hmm… funny how things work out. I read Legacy of the Witch, the prequel to The Portal Series, as a freebie in September. I really enjoyed it and considered it a great introduction novella to a series that had potential. Then, I forgot about it…. As I was perusing the shelves on NetGalley I noticed the 2nd book, Daughter of the Spellcaster, was available for review. It still didn’t jog my memory concerning Legacy of the Witch, but it did lead me to purchase Mark of the Witch, just in case (because of course, I requested it 😉 ) My point in this rambling nonsense? I am so glad I stumbled upon Maggie Shayne again. Even though I picked up Mark of the Witch just as a stepping stone to reach Daughter of the Spellcaster, I ended up totally in love with Indy and Tomas’ story. *sigh* Isn’t it amazing when that happens?

Mark of the Witch had great characters, surprise twists and a couple that was easy to sympathize with and hope for.  Indira was more powerful than even she knew and the reasons for her abandoning her magic turn into major irony as the story progresses. Tomas has his own reasons for not believing in magic or the supernatural and it’s all connected to his faultering faith.

There are so many twists, turns and moments when you aren’t sure who or even what you should trust. This is also a romance that is magical in more ways than one, it literally transcends time. And through it all, Maggie Shayne’s writing style and her charming (and sometimes scary) characters keep the story flowing and give you no choice but to keep turning pages.

There are also a few other aspects of this series that I am really enjoying and are worth mentioning. First, the connection between the books is subtle, but a very important element. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it’s worth paying attention to as you read through The Portal Series. I’ll probably touch on it more when I review Daughter of the Spellcaster, because the connection becomes even stronger then. Next is the actual romance between Tomas and Indy. It’s strong and passionate, but a lot is left to the imagination, which I didn’t mind a bit. Not that I have anything against hot and heavy descriptions in PNR books, it seems to be the norm – and I’ve been known to read a few of them *blush*. It was just a nice change of pace. The other thing that I’m enjoying is the way Maggie Shayne handles the Wiccan aspect of the series. It’s magical, respectful and treated not only as a belief, but a way of life. It gives the series a depth that added a lot to the story.

So yes, this is a series and a story that I am really glad that I stumbled upon. Enjoy!

 

Spell Checked (No Uncertain Logic #1) by C.G. Powell

Broken relationships were a constant in Mae’s life, causing her to swear off men forever. Unwittingly lured to Ireland, Mae finds herself knee-deep in a hidden world she never knew existed and head over heels for the very man that tricked her to coming there. His deception is complicated by his own feelings for the one person that holds the key to merging the ancient races that once ruled the ancient word.
Mae finds herself in an underground world of witches, and vampires, which are half-breeds of aliens long gone. She learns about her own unique parentage and powers, which she must study in order to control, before they consume her.
Beck and Helen’s love for one another spans across a millennium, her human soul reincarnated to match Beck’s own immortality. This time however the body she occupies is of a being that cannot be eclipsed by her return. After waiting two hundred years, Beck finds himself tormented by Helen’s inability to return and his growing love for her new host.
Some of the underworld creatures welcome her with open arms as a savior, while others seek to destroy the abomination they believe her to be. Will the knowledge of her existence cause a race war when the true power of her blood is discovered? Or will love become her ultimate downfall?

This book turned into quite a wild ride. I wasn’t really sure where it was going at first, but it didn’t take me long to catch up. Mae and Beck were an interesting couple. Their ties to each other were unique and I loved the twists and turns that this tale took.

Mae turned into quite the strong character. She took the revelations that she was faced with better than I would have. Her entire world was turned upside down, even without learning the entire story.

As much as I wanted to dislike Beck for keeping things from Mae, I just couldn’t do it. His world was ripped apart too and there probably wasn’t a good way to handle it.

The story, the mythology and the romance along with the friendships that evolved between all the characters was perfect. The best part is that this is a series and there is much more to come. Near the end a couple more revelations were made that only the readers were let in on. I can’t wait to see what happens next with the rest of the characters.

I received Spell Checked as a free download from Amazon on May 26, 2012.

Song to Wake to (Levels #1) by J.D. Field

Sixteen-year-old Maddy Bride starts at a new school in the countryside. She knows she’ll have to deal with sports obsessed rich kids, cliques, and pressure. She doesn’t expect myths from the shadowy past to be taking place around her. Not only are the legends unfinished. They’re starting all over again.

Her new classmate, Eddy Moon, is awkward, and shy, and has lived a life of hardship and loneliness. As his strength and sense of purpose become more and more striking, Maddy comes to believe that he may have a place in the stories. At the same time she realises that the place she wants is by his side.

Closeness to Eddy brings Maddy another shocking realisation. Not only is he a mythic hero returned to life in the countryside, but maybe she too has a place in the legends. Torn between normality and her attraction to the magnificent Eddy Moon, Maddy has to decide who she is, who she is going to be, and whether stories must end the same way twice.

Don’t you love it when an author takes an age-old story and gives it a new twist? That’s exactly what J.D. Field has done with Song to Wake to.

Song to Wake to is the first book in J.D. Field’s Levels Series. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll apologize in advance for being kind of vague. I just want potential readers to have the story open up for them the way it did for me. It won’t take you long to figure out the myths and legends that this series is centered around, but even that little tidbit is worth the wait.

I really liked Maddy. She was determined, smart and had a strong sense of right and wrong. Her little conversations with herself were adorable. Those little quips to herself gave the reader the real sense that she was a typical teenager trying to find herself. Maddy was so much more than that though. Her relationship with her mom was great too. Even when they didn’t see eye to eye.

It was also obvious from the beginning that there was a lot more to Eddy Moon than first appeared. He wasn’t nearly as backward as everyone thought he was and the glimpses that he gave Maddy of his true personality made me smile.

There was a little bit for everyone in Song to Wake to. It had drama, romance, magic, action and heart break. It also made me want to bone up on my mythology and legends of the past. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a sucker for current reads that have a basis in mythology and history. That’s just one of the reasons why I enjoyed this book. J.D. Field has given us characters that I care about and want to get to know better.

There is so much more left to be told in Maddy and Eddy’s story. Lots of mysteries to be solved, battles to be fought and loose ends to tie up. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book, Rock Anthem. My only regret is that I let Song to Wake to sit on my Kindle so long before I finally opened it. I won’t make that mistake with the next one. 😉

Every Last Kiss (Bloodstone Saga #1) by Courtney Cole

17-year old Macy Lockhart has the weight of the world on her shoulders.

For thousands of years, she has been a Keeper in the ancient organization, the Order of the Moirae. She literally holds fate in her hands.

But this is something that she forgets, because her memories are wiped clean when she is reborn each time, until it is time for her cycle to begin again in her seventeenth year in each life.

And for the last two thousand years, this has never been a problem. Until now. But now, fate is being challenged and to fix it, she is forced to return to a previous life, one where she was Cleopatra’s handmaiden, Charmian.

Cue up the second problem: Unless she interferes with the fabric of time, the very thing she has returned to repair, then her soul mate, Hasani, will die leading Marc Antony’s armies against Rome. Can she really stand aside and allow the love of her life to die all over again?

Sometimes freebies pay off, and this one definitely did. Even though this is a preview to Courtney Cole’s Bloodstone Saga, it isn’t lacking in anything. Absolutely nothing.

Cole begins her tale where a lot of YA novels start. Macy is a typical teenager. She has a boyfriend who has broken her heart and she has a best friend who gives her love and support. That is pretty much where the similarities end. She soon finds out that nothing is as it seems and she has lived several lives before this one. The journey that she eventually takes is amazing.

Every Last Kiss is a combination of fantasy and historical YA fiction. When Macy gets sent back in time to the life that she spent with Cleopatra as Charmian, you can’t help but get swept up in the story right along with her. The imagery and emotion that is created just draws you in.

The story weaves and turns and keeps you turning pages just to see exactly what the mystery is behind Macy/Charmian and the power that surrounds her. It took me a while to read this one, but it wasn’t because it was a slow read. I’m not sure why because the descriptions and action were flowing. A lot happened in Every Last Kiss and by the end there were some secrets revealed, but still a lot to learn. It took me by surprise when I found myself in tears near the end. Macy/Charmian was a very easy character to sympathize with and you almost felt as if you even knew Cleopatra a little better by the time you were finished. It gave her a human side, even though it was fiction, that will never have me look at that point in history exactly the same way.

Needless to say, I will be checking out the rest of this series. Cole’s writing style is very easy to read and get emotionally vested in. Well worth the read.

I received Every Last Kiss as a free download from Amazon on April 26, 2012.

Nordic Fairies by Saga Berg

Nordic Liosálfar Svala and Viggo have been in love for a thousand years. After two years apart Svala turns on her TV to find Viggo in the public light, posing as a movie star. She tries to seek him out and the events that follow forces some deep buried secrets to surface…

Svala and Viggo have spent a hundred lives together over the last thousand years. As Liosálfar, Nordic light fairies, their job is to do good and to uphold a balance in the mortal world. A balance, often compromised by the Döckálfar, Nordic dark fairies.

But even good fairies need incentive.

Svala and Viggo are kept apart each life until they fulfill their assignments. Only when, and if, they succeed are they allowed to be together for whatever period of time the powers that be decides. Sometimes they are together for decades, other times years and during the last union once only three weeks.

In this life, Svala turns on her TV and learns that Viggo has become a popular movie star. This is not only highly unexpected, it indicates something is wrong and that Viggo is attempting to contact Svala before their assignments are carried out, an action which is strictly forbidden.

Svala seeks him out, but not without breaking a few rules of her own, and learning that things are not always as they seem.

This novella was a great introduction to Saga Berg’s unique twist on fairies. It is the first book in her Nordic Fairies Series.

Nordic Fairies gives readers just a taste of what’s to come and a little bit of Svala and Viggo’s background. I really liked the premise, and the characters made me want to get to know them better, which I hope will happen in the next book, Freja. Neither book is very long. Nordic Fairies is 11070 words and Freja is a little bit longer at 12170 words. That makes them perfect weekend reads. Berg’s writing style as well as the story kept me turning pages and left me wanting more.

There’s a fair amount of mystery, a little bit of romance and a touch of danger in Nordic Fairies. I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

NEWSOUL
Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.

NOSOUL
Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are suspicious and afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?

HEART
Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?

Jodi Meadows expertly weaves soul-deep romance, fantasy, and danger into an extraordinary tale of new life.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I couldn’t help it. I know that you aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover. Everyone says it. Everyone knows it. But come on, when you see a cover like the one for Incarnate, how can you possibly resist? It’s the first thing that drew me to this book. Then I read the synopsis and I got hooked. Lucky for me, the book lived up to the cover. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, here’s my review.

Incarnate is a YA book with a totally different world than any I’ve ever read. I’ve read books about reincarnation before, but none with this twist. The people who live in the world that Jodi Meadows has created are not only reincarnated, but they remember every past life that they have ever lived. Everyone except for Ana, because she is new. Kind of mind boggling if you try to stop and think about it. Ana had a hard time conceiving it too. It made her character very real to the reader. She was as new to this world as the reader was and it helped make her character easy to relate to and sympathize with. Throw in dragons, other strange creatures, really evil people and mysterious buildings that seem to have a life of their own and you can see why this book was a hard one to put down.

Ana has no self worth, but she is a strong character regardless. She has spent her life being told she served no purpose and wasn’t important to anyone. That’s one of the things that made her relationship with Sam so amazing. He was the first person who treated her as a person and not a mistake. It’s always great when you can watch a character turn into a totally different person by the end of a book. That’s what happens in Incarnate. The Ana we meet at the beginning isn’t the same Ana that we see at the end. Meadows does a wonderful job of not forcing the transition. She’s still struggling by the end, but not nearly as hopelessly as she was in the beginning or for the same reasons. Ana and Sam fed off of each other’s strength without even seeming to notice it.

There was so much unique and wonderful about this book, but I don’t want to give anything away. It was too much fun finding out about all the characters and mysterious aspects of the world that they lived so I don’t want to spoil it for anyone else. The supporting characters all play an important role and there is still some mystery about all of them that needs to be uncovered. We learn a lot in Incarnate, but the story is far from over. I can’t wait to see what Jodi Meadows has in store for the residents of Heart in the next book.

Incarnate is due to be released on January 31, 2012. It is available for pre-order at Amazon.

Remembrance by Michelle Madow

Description: New Hampshire high school junior Lizzie Davenport has been reincarnated from Regency Era, England … but she doesn’t know it yet.

Then Drew Carmichael transfers into Lizzie’s school at the beginning of the year, and she feels a connection to him, almost like she knows him. She can’t stop thinking about him, but whenever she tries talking with him about the mysteries behind her feelings, he makes it clear that he wants nothing to do with her. Reaching him is even more difficult because she has a boyfriend, Jeremy, who has started to become full of himself after being elected co-captain of the varsity soccer team, and her flirtatious best friend Chelsea starts dating Drew soon after his arrival. So why can’t she seem to get him out of her mind?

Even though Lizzie knows she should let go of her fascination with Drew, the pair of them soon find that fighting fate isn’t going to be easy.

Fairy tale is the first thing that comes to mind after reading Remembrance. Even the story behind the making of the story is cool enough to make you want to read Michelle’s book. It was a sweet story that was worth the time to get lost in.

I love the idea of reincarnation and Michelle weaves her story around this concept beautifully. Lizzie’s life seems perfect to everyone but her. She is obviously already questioning her relationship with her high school sweetheart before she even meets Drew, but after that meeting there is no turning back. If it weren’t for the fact that this is teen love that we are talking about I would have had a problem with Lizzie and Drew falling in love so soon. (You have to remember that I am the mother of 3 daughters and at one point I had 3 teenage girls living under one roof. Trust me, love comes and goes in a heart beat at that age.) That and the fact that their past lives were a force that neither one of them could fight.

The push and pull between the Lizzie and Drew kept the story moving. Lizzie’s flashes into her past life made the reader just as curious as her about what was going on. It was hard not to get as frustrated as Lizzie about Drew’s behavior, but Michelle did a great job of using him to keep just enough mystery alive to pull you along to the end.

The only complaint that I have about this book was that it ended too soon. I would have loved to have learned more. I can’t wait to see where Michelle takes us on her next literary journey.

Bone Dressing by Michelle Brooks

Description: Time is running out … the Dark that’s been chasing Syd for many lifetimes has finally caught up with her …

Sydney Roberdeau lost her parents as a young girl. Waiting for her life to start and the freedom that will come with her eighteenth birthday, Syd spends much of her time haunting the local cemetery. It is there, stretched out among the dead, that she feels most alive, most at home. Until one rainy night when Beau, Sarah and T.J. crash her ghostly sanctuary, appearing out of nowhere, turning her already inside-out world one degree past upside down.

Syd must now revisit past lives, dressing in the bodies of her previous selves … bone dressing. Her only chance to outrun the evil breathing down her neck is to face her own worst nightmares and her strongest desires. But if she can’t stay out of trouble in this life, how can she possibly fix mistakes from past lives? And just how many lives has she lived, loved and lost? What is Syd exactly, and what will she risk for the life of a man she doesn’t remember, the man she spent a lifetime with, the man she loves? Everything … including her very own life?

Bone Dressing, the first in a series of seven books, will carry Syd and Beau on an adventure that transcends life itself.

This was a book that was hard to put down. The action and the intense feelings of Syd put you right in the middle of the action. There are few authors that have actually wrapped me up in their description so much that I have actually cried right along with the main character, and this is one of them.
After reading Michelle’s bio, I knew I had to read this book. Her dead on sense of humor was too good to resist and this book didn’t disappoint.
The only reason that Bone Dressing didn’t get 5 stars from me was because at times I found myself lost – kind of like I was missing something important. It may have been just me, and I will read the book again to make sure. It wasn’t enough to distract from the reading or not want to continue following Syd and her new companions in their next adventure. If you like YA fantasy written with vivid descriptions and a wonderful sense of humor, don’t miss this story.
Can’t wait until the next installment!