Sleep with the Lights On by Maggie Shayne

SleepWithTheLightsOnThrough the eyes of a killer.
Rachel de Luca has found incredible success writing self-help books. But her own blindness and the fact that her troubled brother has gone missing have convinced her that positive thinking is nothing but bull.
Her cynicism wavers when a cornea transplant restores her sight. The new eyes seem to give her new life, until they prove too good to be true and she starts seeing terrifying visions of brutal murders crimes she soon learns are all too real.
Detective Mason Brown’s own brother recently died, leaving behind a horrific secret. In atonement, Mason donated his brother’s organs, though he’s kept the fact quiet. Now he wants to help Rachel find her brother, but when he discovers the shocking connection between her visions and his own brother, he suddenly has to do everything in his power to save her from a predator who is somehow still hunting from beyond the grave.

This was a book that I knew had me pulled in from the time I started reading the Prologue. I really couldn’t put this one down… for a lot of reasons.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1One of the things that kept me reading was the characters themselves. Rachel was such a vivid, ‘in your face’ kind of character. Blind or not, she couldn’t be ignored. I loved her from the beginning. She was strong, smart and took nothing from anyone. She was also extremely loyal and fiercely protective of those she loved.  I loved Mason too. He was put in an impossible situation and he dealt with it the only way he knew how. He could have crumbled, but he didn’t. He stayed strong because he had too and regardless of how wrong the decision was that he inevitably made, it was for all the right reasons. It was easy to admire him for that.

The supporting characters were just as important to this story as Mason and Rachel. This was definitely a character driven story and they drove it well. Even the characters that seemed to be minor played important roles. No face time was wasted in this one – even when that time was spent with Rachel’s pet dog Myrtle. There was also plenty of humor, romance and witty dialogue. It all added to the drama and intrigue and at least kept this reader on her toes. At one point I was a little disappointed because I thought the outcome was going to be obvious… I should have known better.

Maggie Shayne took twists and turns to the extreme. Nothing was sugar coated, especially the imagery used to describe the violence. The premise was unique and nothing was even close to what it seemed. I loved every minute of it. For the record, I could have read this one at night, but I’m kind of glad that I read it during the day. (Let’s just say the book is aptly titled.) I’m also really glad that this is going to be a series. It doesn’t end in a cliff hanger but it’s obvious at the close of the Epilogue that things are far from over between Mason and Rachel. I can’t wait to see what is in store for them next.

DragonFlyGreen4-5

Ironskin (Ironskin #1) by Tina Connolly

Jane Eliot wears an iron mask. 
It’s the only way to contain the fey curse that scars her cheek. The Great War is five years gone, but its scattered victims remain—the ironskin. 
When a carefully worded listing appears for a governess to assist with a “delicate situation”—a child born during the Great War—Jane is certain the child is fey-cursed, and that she can help. 
Teaching the unruly Dorie to suppress her curse is hard enough; she certainly didn’t expect to fall for the girl’s father, the enigmatic artist Edward Rochart. But her blossoming crush is stifled by her own scars, and by his parade of women. Ugly women, who enter his closed studio…and come out as beautiful as the fey. 
Jane knows Rochart cannot love her, just as she knows that she must wear iron for the rest of her life. But what if neither of these things is true? Step by step Jane unlocks the secrets of her new life—and discovers just how far she will go to become whole again.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Ironskin is a book that took me totally by surprise. I read the synopsis and thought it sounded interesting. I purposely didn’t read any reviews because I try not to before I read a book (on purpose anyway *blush*.) Since I read this as an ARC from NetGalley, that wasn’t hard. The point is, because I didn’t have any background info on Ironskin, I had no idea that it is actually a steampunk, paranormal take on Jane Eyre. Tina Connolly does an amazing job in weaving this familiar tale into something amazingly new yet just as poetic.

The iron mask that Jane wears in Ironskin is not just to hide the scarring from the Fey curse that she sustained during the Great War. It’s there to protect everyone else. The iron is the only thing that can keep the curse in check because if she exposes the scarring, the curse that she fights within herself will be transferred to others around her. Everyone who is scarred and cursed is saddled with a different curse. They even introduce themselves by their particular curse. Some of the cursed stay hidden among themselves, but Jane wants to live a normal life. That’s how she ends up at the Rochart estate. What she discovers there changes her forever in a multitude of ways.

Edward Rochart is just as damaged as Jane but he hides it well. He lost his wife and is left with his young daughter, Dorie. Jane’s task is to help Dorie control her ‘curse’ and live a normal life as well. The events that unfold once Jane arrives and discovers what she is left to deal with turn this book into one that is impossible to put down.

The action and mysteries revealed don’t slow down. The fey in Ironskin are truly evil with no conscience and quite an agenda. That coupled with Tina Connolly’s poetically descriptive writing style ensure that the pages keep turning.

Ironskin is the first book in a series and is due to be released on October 2, 2012.

Loramendi’s Story (Lords of Shifters #1) by Angela Carlie

Lora wants nothing more than to be the wind behind sexy windsurfer Chance’s sails. But fulfilling that wish just became…complicated. After seventeen years of normal life, someone wants Lora and her family dead. And the attempted massacre isn’t nearly as strange as the reason behind it.

Loramendi’s Story was a combination of shifter/romance/fairy tale all rolled into one. It had pretty much everything. Romance, action, danger and mystery.

I really liked Lora as a main character and her friends were a great balance. I liked Chance too, but at times he was so formal it was annoying. I suppose coming from where he did (I don’t want to give anything away) may have had something to do with it, but the dialogue still seemed a little awkward coming from a teen.

There is definitely more to this story. The next book in the series is Spider Wars and it features Jess’, Lora’s best friend. Since a lot of Jess and what was going on with her was part of the mystery in Laramendi’s Story, I can’t wait to see if the second book clears some of that up.

I received Loramendi’s Story as a free download from Amazon on August 29, 2012.

Dearly, Beloved (Gone with the Respiration #2) by Lia Habel

Can the living coexist with the living dead?

That’s the question that has New Victorian society fiercely divided ever since the mysterious plague known as “The Laz” hit the city of New London and turned thousands into walking corpses. But while some of these zombies are mindless monsters, hungry for human flesh, others can still think, speak, reason, and control their ravenous new appetites.

Just ask Nora Dearly, the young lady of means who was nearly kidnapped by a band of sinister zombies but valiantly rescued by a dashing young man . . . of the dead variety.

Nora and her savior, the young zombie soldier Bram Griswold, fell hopelessly in love. But others feel only fear and loathing for the reanimated dead. Now, as tensions grow between pro- and anti-zombie factions, battle lines are being drawn in the streets. And though Bram is no longer in the New Victorian army, he and his ex-commando zombie comrades are determined to help keep the peace. That means taking a dangerous stand between The Changed, a radical group of sentient zombies fighting for survival, and The Murder, a masked squad of urban guerrillas hellbent on destroying the living dead. But zombies aren’t the only ones in danger: Their living allies are also in The Murder’s crosshairs, and for one vengeful zealot, Nora Dearly is the number one target.

As paranoia, prejudice, and terrorist attacks threaten to plunge the city into full-scale war, Nora’s scientist father and his team continue their desperate race to unlock the secrets of “The Laz” and find a cure. But their efforts may be doomed when a mysterious zombie appears bearing an entirely new strain of the virus—and the nation of New Victoria braces for a new wave of the apocalypse.

Lia Habel’s spellbinding, suspenseful sequel to Dearly, Departed takes her imaginative mash-up of period romance, futuristic thriller, and zombie drama to a whole new level of innovative and irresistible storytelling.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1You know how you wait desperately for a sequel to a book and then you hold on to it for a while before you read it? There are usually a couple of reasons for this hesitation. One is because you loved the first book so much you just know that you are going to breeze through the next one and then it will be over and you’ll have to wait an eternity until the next book comes out. Another is that you loved the first book so much that you’re scared to death that the sequel isn’t going to come close to living up to your expectations. Just so you know. Dearly, Beloved doesn’t come close to falling into that second category. Yes, readers, you guessed it. That was my not so subtle way of warning you that this will indeed be a gushing review. *sigh*

I mentioned when I reviewed Dearly, Departed that I was hesitant in starting a zombie book. Actually, up until I read the first book in Lia Habel’s Gone with the Respiration Series, I hadn’t read a single zombie book. Sorry zombie lovers and bullies, I’m still not a huge fan of zombies, but I have fallen in love with Ms. Habel’s zombies. That’s a start, right?

One of the things that I like about this series is the fact that each chapter is dedicated to another character’s POV. The chapter titles indicate whose POV you are about to read. I know, I know. I can hear the groans already. Some of you really, really don’t like it when a writer lets you in another character’s head, especially when it isn’t one of the two main characters. I’m not one of those readers. I like finding out what makes another character ‘tick.’ Those glimpses, to me, give even the secondary characters a depth that they may not have had if they weren’t given their own voice. I even found myself sympathizing with characters in a way that I know I wouldn’t have if I didn’t know what made them do or act the way they did.

As for the story itself? Dearly, Beloved was so much more than I expected. The love story between Nora and Bram is both beautiful and heart breaking. It’s not just them though. Their friends and family are so connected and dedicated to each other because of everything they have been through. They are there for each other in a way that makes you love and respect them all. The other thing is that as desperate and dire as their situation may be. No matter how easy it would be to just throw their hands in the air and surrender to the inevitability surrounding them, they keep fighting. They had their moments of course. They weren’t all strong all the time and some of the characters are left in an unknown limbo at the end. Yet, for the most part, they draw strength from each other and carry on.

In Dearly, Beloved readers are also given a glimpse into the darker side of being a zombie. Not that we weren’t shown that with the mindless, ravenous zombies in Dearly, Departed. It was different this time because readers were shown how easy it would be for even a zombie like Bram or any of his ‘dead’ friends to give in to their anger. It makes the world that Lia Habel has created all the more fragile, unpredictable and intense. It also ensures that this is one series that I will stick with until the end.

Speaking of endings… it’s been a long time since I’ve read a book that left me feeling as good as I did when I finished Dearly, Beloved. It was a surprise, at least to me. It also made perfect sense and made everything Nora and Bram had gone through up until that point totally worth it. There’s a lot more to Nora and Bram’s story and the other characters are left with their own lose ends, which is great. There are mysteries to solve, secrets to uncover, people to save and all that means that Gone with the Respiration has at least a few more books until it ends.

If you are someone who is on the fence when it comes to zombie reads, Dearly, Departed is the perfect place for you to start. I’m not saying that you will suddenly fall in love with the zombie genre. It hasn’t happened to me yet. However, it’s a great introduction and if you like the first book in the series, don’t hesitate to pick up Dearly, Beloved as soon as you’re done. You can thank me later. 😉

I picked up my copy of Dearly, Beloved from NetGalley in June. I loved getting my copy early in exchange for an honest review, but there was one draw back. I didn’t get to sit and stare at the gorgeous cover. My copy didn’t even have the finished front cover, much less this great back cover featuring Bram. *sigh*

Run the Risk (Love Undercover #1) by Lori Foster

Nothing can shake a cop from pursuing justice-except a beautiful witness marked for death, in New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster’s sexy new series… When Detective Logan Riske goes undercover to find Pepper Yates, a potential link to his best friend’s unsolved murder, he vows to gain her cooperation by any means necessary. But the elusive beauty is more suspicious-and in far more danger-than he expected. And the last thing Logan needs is to start caring for her…. Pepper has spent the past five years dodging the corrupt club owner who will stop at nothing to keep her silenced. She can trust no one, not even the handsome new “construction worker” who’s moved in next door. The heat between them is undeniable. But will surrendering to passion bring her the safety she so desires-or will her feelings for Logan draw them both into a killer’s crosshairs?

I have to confess that I am a new fan of Lori Foster. I have some catching up to do, because the only other book of hers that I’ve read was A Perfect Storm, which was the 4th book in her Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor Series. Like I said, I have some catching up to do. Luckily, Run the Risk is the first book in her Love Undercover Series so at least I’m starting at the beginning this time. 😉

Logan and Pepper are great together. They both have their secrets and they are big ones. Not a great way to start a relationship, but the added tension keeps the story going. The attraction and between these two is intense and surprisingly sweet. They were the perfect couple to launch this series.

One of the great things about Run the Risk is the depth of the characters. Not only did I become emotionally vested in Logan and Pepper, but I found myself just as interested in the lives of the supporting characters as well. Some readers don’t like it when author’s switch the POV between several characters, but I enjoy it. Lori Foster’s approach to the POV switch in Run the Risk works well. It left me wanting to know more about each one of them.

Along with the romance, there were twists and turns, plenty of mystery and a fair amount of action. Pretty much something for everyone. This is definitely a series that I will be continuing.

Wolf Signs (Granite Lake Wolves #1) by Vivian Arend

Robyn Maxwell doesn’t care that her brother has to cancel out on their backcountry ski trip. She can do it alone. The fact she’s deaf doesn’t make her survival skills any weaker. The chance to get away from it all and relax in the Yukon wilderness is just what she’s been craving. Meeting wilderness guide Keil at the cabin starts cravings of another kind. Keil’s one hot hunk of ripped, tasty male. Now she has to deal with raging hormones as well as strange questions about wolves and mates and challenges to the death.

Keil was trying for a nice reflective retreat before challenging for the Alpha position of his Alaskan pack. He wasn’t planning on meeting the woman destined to be his mate, or finding out she’s not aware she has the genes of a wolf. Between dealing with his accident-prone younger brother, a deaf mate with an attitude and an impending duel to the death, his week–and his bed–is suddenly full. Far from the relaxing getaway any of them had in mind.

This was another one of  those books that took me by surprise. It sounded interesting, so I picked it up. From the first chapter I was hooked.

There was little not to like about this story and it was a great way to begin a series. I loved Robyn and her strength combined with her spunk. I loved Keil and his patience and obvious love for Robyn. I loved TJ and his fun side and I loved Tad and his protective streak over his adopted sister. These are characters that I am going to enjoy following.

The next book in the series is Wolf Flight and it’s Tad’s story, followed by two novellas, the first featuring Keil and Robyn. Guess what just ended up on my TBR list? 😉

I received Wolf Signs as a free download from Amazon on April 22, 2012.

Vampire Love Story (Vampire Love Story #1) by H.T. Night

Josiah Reign is an up-and-coming mixed martial arts fighter who’s never said no to a fight in his life. Tonight is no different. Out for a simple jog, he happens upon a young woman who needs help. So Josiah does what he does best. He takes on her attackers…all five of them, in fact. Little does Josiah know that this one act of goodwill will introduce him to a very strange world, a world of dreams…and nightmares. For this woman, Lena, is not who she seems, and her friends are the stuff of legends. Worst yet, Josiah finds himself falling for not one, but two of these deadly creatures of the night. And as Josiah suffers a devastating loss that rocks his world, he will fight for what he believes in. And fighting is what Josiah does best.

This is the first book that I’ve read by H.T. Night and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. The premise sounded good and so I thought I’d give it a shot.

There were things that I liked about Vampire Love Story and things that I didn’t. The main thing that I didn’t like was that the story seemed kind of disjointed at times. It was almost as if something was missing, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I think that basically I just wanted to know more.

The fact that the story did get better as it went on intrigued me enough to want to continue the series. I think it may be one of those that both the author and the reader have to grow into. I’ve already picked up Werewolf Love Story so I can get a little bit background on Tommy, Josiah’s best friend. The descriptions of the rest of the books in the series make me want to pick the next few up. I’m hoping that it’s one of those series that gets better after the opener. The fact that even this one got better as it went gives me hope.

I received Vampire Love Story as a free download from Amazon on September 5, 2012.

Timeless (Parasol Protectorate #5) by Gail Carriger

Alexia Tarabotti, Lady Maccon, has settled into domestic bliss. Of course, being Alexia, such bliss involves integrating werewolves into London High society, living in a vampire’s second best closet, and coping with a precocious toddler who is prone to turning supernatural willy-nilly. Even Ivy Tunstell’s acting troupe’s latest play, disastrous to say the least, cannot put a damper on Alexia’s enjoyment of her new London lifestyle.

Until, that is, she receives a summons from Alexandria that cannot be ignored. With husband, child, and Tunstells in tow, Alexia boards a steamer to cross the Mediterranean. But Egypt may hold more mysteries than even the indomitable Lady Maccon can handle. What does the vampire Queen of the Alexandria Hive really want from her? Why is the God-Breaker Plague suddenly expanding? And how has Ivy Tunstell suddenly become the most popular actress in all the British Empire?

I can’t believe it’s over! And what a finale 😉

As some of you know. It seemed to take me forever to finish Timeless. It wasn’t because I didn’t enjoy the book or the characters. Not at all. Some of it was because I have never been able to read a Parasol Protectorate book fast, but this went even beyond that. I honestly think that I had a mental block. I really didn’t want to be done with Alexia and crew. 😦

That being said, what are my final thoughts on this entertaining series? It was actually everything that I expected and then some. There was comedy, drama, romance (from unexpected characters *gasp*) theatrics, danger, twists, turns, a few surprises and more than a few tears – which is something that came totally unexpected.

Prudence turned out to be everything that a child of Alexia’s should be and Alexia was as exasperated a mother as you would expect. Some things never change. There is actually nothing that I would change about any of it, unless of course I could get more. As it turns out, there will be. Of course, not of the Parasol Protectorate variety, but Gail Carriger does have more in store for readers. Her YA Finishing School series is set to release in 2013 with the first book, titled Etiquette and Espionage. The series is set 25 years before the Parasol Protectorate series. There is also another series that is a direct spin-off of the Parasol Protectorate. The first book is titled Prudence and the series title is The Parasol Protectorate Abroad. That’s enough to keep me from getting too depressed about saying goodbye to these beloved characters. After all, even though readers were given a satisfactory ending in Timeless, there is still much more to their story I’m sure.

Muse by Janica L. Stoff

The last thing Callie expected to receive for her sixteenth birthday was the power to freeze time. Before she can adjust to her new talent though, she discovers that her worst enemy, her best friend, and six other girls are all descendants of the nine Greek Muses, and are now blessed with various magic abilities.

Between visions of the future and ghosts of the past they come to realize not everything is at it appears and something wicked is pursuing them. Can they learn to put aside their childhood jealousies and fears in order to take control of their new found powers and fight together or will the wretched creature get his way by pitting them against one another.

I had heard absolutely nothing about this book until I received a request from the author asking me if I wanted to read it. Janica L. Stoff then sent me a paper back copy in exchange for an honest review. It took me a while to actually pick it up and get started. For that I am genuinely sorry because it was a refreshing read.

I love paranormal and fantasy stories and I’m a sucker for anything that deals with mythology. Because of that, it should be no surprise that I liked Muse. Callie was one of nine descendants of the original Greek Muses. This generation marked the first time that all nine would be together. It also marked a time when an evil power would come to destroy them all.

The story flowed well and the characters were fairly easy to relate to. At times the dialog switched a little between being casual and formal, but it wasn’t enough to distract the reader from the tale that Stoff has woven. I probably caught on to who the ‘bad’ guy was a little earlier than I was supposed to, but I could have just as easily have been wrong. It always keeps things interesting when the players switch back and forth. The pace was pretty quick, especially in the last chapters and I got to a point where I just had to know what was going to happen with these girls.

There’s no mention of whether or not there will be a sequel to Muse, but from the way the book ends, I’d say that there is more in store for this group of friends.

Salem Moon by Scarlet Black

When Gabriel Blackstone, a young man living in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692 is sentenced to death for the crime of witchcraft, a mysterious man appears to him, just before death comes to claim him; promising to change his fate if he will only agree to take his hand and go where he leads.

Miraculously, Gabriel is transported to 21st century Salem where, he not only escapes his fate, but meets his destiny! He falls in love with Lily Snow, a descendant of the very family that falsely accused him of witchcraft! They both know theirs is a forbidden love, but they cannot deny it!

Gabriel is shocked to learn that the man who saved his life is, in reality, an evil Fallen Angel, named Lucien, who wreaks havoc on the city of Salem with his unbridled lust and violence. He wants Gabriel’s very soul and will do whatever it takes to get it, including going after Lily!

Gabriel and Lily’s story is one of love that defies all boundaries, as they come together in a steamy passion neither of them has ever known and a love that transcends time, brutal injustice and evil itself!

Have you ever finished a book and really liked it, but there was just something about it that kept you from loving it? That’s where I was at the end of Salem Moon.

I think Scarlet Black did an amazing job of bringing the reader back to 1692 Salem. The history of the witch trials through first hand experience was gripping and horrific. The irony of the world that Lucien transports Gabriel to made for a fantastic story. It really was a wonderful concept and parts of it flowed quite well. I didn’t feel like the relationship between Gabriel and Lilly was forced. I actually liked their connection. It was magical, as it should be. I also didn’t have a problem with the evilness that surrounded Lucien. Yes his actions were awful and what he did throughout the book was unforgivable, but he was evil incarnate. He acted pretty much how I expected him to. That doesn’t mean I accepted his actions, it just means that I know evil exists and sometimes it appears in the books that I read.

So, what didn’t I like about Salem Moon? What exactly kept me from loving it? I guess if I had to put my finger on it, I’d have to say that some of the situations and solutions were just too convenient and lose ends that I didn’t feel were tied up enough by the end had a lot to do with it. I know that this is the beginning of a series and some of this will probably be resolved in the next book, but I would have liked to have felt just a little less ‘lost’ at times.

Having said all that, I still really did like Salem Moon. I will probably pick up the next book in the series and not just because it ended in a huge cliff hanger. I honestly want to know what happens to Gabriel and Lilly.

I received Salem Moon as a free download from Amazon on April 29, 2012.