Earthless (The Survivors #1) by Jason Letts

earthlessIn 2166, Earth was destroyed. It wasn’t an alien spacefleet firing from above. It was a bomb planted in the center of the planet before humanity even existed. In an instant, the human population dropped from 11 billion to 1,066. 
I’m Loris Roderick, set to take command of the Magellan space station. I didn’t know I was to become the de facto leader of our species when its survival hung by a thread. 
We should run, hide in some corner of the galaxy to eke out what existence we can. But I’d rather we get our revenge. 

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1It’s been a while since I’ve read any books by Jason Letts, but picking up Earthless reminded me why I enjoyed his books so much. His fantasy worlds are complex and intriguing. Even though Sci-Fi isn’t my ‘go-to’ genre, I still enjoyed this fast paced and suspenseful introduction into the Survivors series.

Loris was a commander who was set up to fail, at least he felt that way. He had less experience than others in line for a command position, but he was good at what he did. There were those in the ranks who thought he only got to where he was out of respect for his mother. He had a lot to prove before things got even more out of control and Earth was destroyed.

There were a lot of twists and turns in Earthless. More than one character had ulterior motives and a few weren’t exactly who they seemed. It was hard to know exactly who to trust, which kept things interesting. Loris didn’t take any of this lying down even when he had to fight against pretty much everyone to do what he knew was right.

Earthless didn’t end in a cliff hanger exactly, but there is definitely much more to come. The second book in the series, Sightless, was recently released and I’m sure it won’t be long before I add it to my official TBR list. It so happens I have a couple of other Jason Letts books that are also begging to be read. Stay tuned. 😉

DragonFlyRating4

Conscience (Bellator Saga #2) by Cecilia London

ConscienceAn escape plan foiled….
A determined woman….
One last tiny sliver of hope….
Jack will find me.
The Fed wants answers. And Caroline is determined not to provide them. They pull out all the stops, testing her sanity, testing her strength, testing her humanity.
Jack will find me.
Subject to cruel and merciless treatment at the hands of a government she once trusted, Caroline clings to her sole lifeline, her only chance at maintaining her tenuous hold on reality: her memories of her husband, Jack, her children, Marguerite and Sophie, and the friends who mean the world to her.
Jack will find me.
But what happens when hope starts to fade? How long until her interrogators cross over into the unspeakable sadism she fears? How long before she finally breaks apart?
Part Two of a Six Part Saga. Conscience (approximately 120,000 words) is not a standalone and must be read after the first book in the Bellator Saga, Dissident. All books in the series end in a cliffhanger. For readers 18+. This book contains adult situations including graphic violence, explicit (consensual) sex and light BDSM, psychological and physical trauma, and an oftentimes raw, dark, and gritty plot.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1After I finished the first book in the Bellator Saga, Dissident, I mentioned that I walked away with more questions than answers. In case your curious, Conscience answered a lot of them, but not totally. The second book in this saga gave readers a little bit more insight into what lead to the horrific future that is depicted, but not a full explanation. Since that’s pretty much the definition of ‘suspense’ I can’t get too upset. After all, there are 4 more books left for Cecilia London to play with our emotions. I’m pretty sure she’s up to the task.

Conscience picked up pretty much where Dissident left off. If readers didn’t figure out how ruthless the new government was before, it was pretty evident within the first couple of chapters. This book pretty much brought out every emotion imaginable, but the strongest were polar opposites… Love and Hate. Love – this was probably the strongest of all the emotions and it was felt between Caroline and her children, friends and especially Jack. Hate – there were so many people that brought out this emotion, I don’t even know where to start. Intermingled with both of these were terror, humor, fear, remorse and so much more. I’d be remiss though if I didn’t include lust in that list. As promised, the heat between Caroline and Jack was definitely turned up a notch or two. 😉

The unique formatting of Conscience is pretty much the same as Dissident. The chapters alternate between The Past and The Fed. I not only expected it in the second book, but it was a welcome diversion. The Fed chapters were so intense, violent and emotional that a break into Caroline’s memories into The Past was not only an escape for Caroline, but for the reader as well. As the end of the book grew closer, those glimpses were less of an escape. That’s okay though because by the time I got that far, I couldn’t put the book down.

As the author also promised, Conscience ends in a cliff hanger and more hangs in the balance this time than at the end of Dissident. Even more questions are raised and that makes me want the next book sooner rather than later. As I said before, for being a new author, Cecilia London definitely has this ‘evil author’ thing down pretty good.

DragonFlyRating5

 

Red Fox (Experiment in Terror #2) by Karina Halle

RedFoxIn the for­got­ten town of Red Fox, New Mex­ico, a Navajo cou­ple is tor­tured by things unseen and by motives unknown. Wild ani­mals slink through their house in the dark, a bar­rage of stones pound their roof nightly, and muti­lated sheep car­casses are turn­ing up on their prop­erty. Armed with a cam­era and just enough to go on, Perry and Dex travel to the des­o­late locale, hop­ing to film the super­nat­ural occur­rences and add cred­i­bil­ity to their flail­ing web­cast. Only their show has a lot more work­ing against them than just grow­ing pains. Tested by dubi­ous ranch hands, a ghost from Dex’s past, and shape shift­ing decep­tion, the ama­teur ghost hunters must learn to trust each other in order to fight the most ancient of myths…or die trying.

I’m not ashamed to say that this book scared the crap out of me. I had to keep reminding myself that there are 9 books in the Experiment in Terror series, so Dex and Perry were reasonably safe. The more I read, the more I had to keep reminding myself of that fact.

Red Fox begins just a little while after Darkhouse ends. Their first webcast has broadcast and they can’t let any grass grow under their feet before they start the next one. Perry has even more riding on its success now than ever and her only ally in her new career path is Dex. Trust is kind of tough when both parties keep things hidden from each other. That just adds to the tension built in this story.

I love stores based on mythology and Native American legends are some of my favorites. That aspect of this story totally drew me in and didn’t let go even when things got seriously dark. From the time they entered Red Fox, Dex and Perry were in danger. The biggest problem they faced, other than trying to survive, was that they had no idea who they could and couldn’t trust. No one was exactly what they seemed, so they had no idea where the real danger was coming from. Then, it got worse.

Regardless of how scary these books are, I know that I won’t be able to stay away. Beyond the danger that Dex and Perry put themselves in, there’s also the romantic tension between them. Since the books are told from Perry’s POV readers know exactly where her feelings lie, but Dex is a mystery. He’s unstable, mentally and emotionally. One minute he acts like he cares about Perry as much as she does for him and the next he’s distant and professional. It’s driving me nuts, and I totally love it.

Dead Sky Morning is up next and it’s already ready and waiting for me. 😉

DragonFlyRating5

The Cold Dish (Walt Longmire #1) by Craig Johnson

ColdDishWalt Longmire, sheriff of Wyoming’s Absaroka County, knows he’s got trouble when Cody Pritchard is found dead. Two years earlier, Cody and three accomplices had been given suspended sentences for raping a Northern Cheyenne girl. Is someone seeking vengeance? Longmire faces one of the more volatile and challenging cases in his twenty-four years as sheriff and means to see that revenge, a dish that is best served cold, is never served at all.

I admit that this series probably never would have made it on my reading radar if I hadn’t first watched the series on TV. I also have to admit that I never would have considered watching the series if a group of people I follow on line hadn’t talked about NF picking up the series after A&E network dropped it. The fact that I immediately searched out the Walt Longmire series by Craig Johnson after I ran out of episodes to watch should tell you something. 😉 I’m going to mention the similarities and differences between the two later in the review, don’t worry.

Walt Longmire is not your average literary hero… well, actually, he is average. He’s handsome in a rugged way. He’s over 50 and he’s described more than once as being out of shape. He’s been mourning the loss of his wife long enough in his friends’ opinion, which reinforces the fact that he’s surrounded by people who care about him as much as he cares about them. He’s honest, loyal, well educated, has a strong sense of honor… basically he’s one of the most ‘real’ characters I’ve read in a long time. One of my favorite parts of reading this book was his inner dialogue. I loved it. His thoughts are easy and honest and yes, he tends to ramble, but that keeps it entertaining.

The Cold Dish takes Walt back to a case that has haunted him for a couple of years. Sometimes justice isn’t exactly fair and the punishment comes no where near fitting the crime. That was how most people felt about the boys involved in the rape case. That fact made finding a likely suspect in the death of one of the defendants almost impossible to narrow down. There were a lot of people who could have decided to become a vigilante and not blink an eye. That also meant that Walt probably knew the killer, which made his job even harder.

With the help of his best friend Henry and his staff he goes about the task of finding the killer before the next boy is killed. The story has lots of twists and turns and seems to take them a couple of steps back with every new clue they find. I can honestly say that I had no clue who the killer was until it was revealed. It might have been because I was so caught up in the story, but I think it had more to do with the writing being so good.

Beyond the good story there was a lot of witty dialogue. There are a lot of conversations between Henry and Walt. Some serious, some comical. This one was one of my favorites…

I looked past Henry in disbelief as he turned to hand me the rifle. “If you do not shoot him, I will.”
“We don’t have any bullets, or I would seriously consider it.” He laughed and pulled a gleaming .45-70 from his shirt pocket and held it up. “Where did you get that?”
“Off your desk, where do you think?”
I pulled the handle and opened my door. “We’re trying to keep somebody from shooting him.”
He stated out the other side. “I am beginning to question the logic in that.”

Which brings me to my comparison between the books and the TV series. Honestly, I love them both. There are characters that are in both. Some are similar and some have been changed slightly to fit the TV series. The descriptions of the characters aren’t quite the same in some instances, but that didn’t bother me at all. I will admit that even though I liked Craig Johnson’s descriptions, I found myself picturing the TV characters in my head as I read the book. What can I say, I was introduced to them first. 🙂 One thing that bothers me in reading written dialogue on a regular basis is the lack of contractions. It just seems so formal in normal conversation to not use them. In a strange way Henry’s lack of contraction use made me smile. Not only did Walt mention the fact but that’s exactly how the character on the TV series talks as well. There’s also a strong spiritual aspect that I enjoy in both the book and the TV series. Sometimes familiarity is a good thing. As far as the story line goes, at least for the first book, you may think you know how the story’s going to pan out if you’ve watched the series, but the book takes a totally different slant, which I enjoyed. It kept me on my toes and it allows me to watch and read and not have either outcome spoiled. It’s the little things really. 😉

So, my obvious advice to those of you who have either watched or read about Walt Longmire, treat yourself to both. I don’t watch a lot of TV, but when I find a show I like, I have no problem telling people about it. Reading the book is a no brainer. I can’t wait to pick up the rest of the series.

DragonFlyRating5

Blood Street by Carl Alves

BloodStreetAlexei chose the wrong neighborhood to claim his latest victim. Now Philadelphia mob boss Enzo Salerno is determined to hunt down the man who killed his associate in such gruesome fashion in his South Philly row home.
Perplexed by this unnatural murder, Salerno uncovers clues that lead him to believe that this was not a mob hit, and that a vampire was responsible for this death. Magnus, the leader of Alexei’s brood, must now use all of his resources to save them from both the mafia and the FBI.

I’ve been introduced to a couple of new authors lately. I don’t take every review request I receive, but when the description of one piques my interest, I can’t turn it down. That’s what happened when I received the request for Blood Street. It wasn’t because it was a book like all the others I had been reading lately. It was more because it wasn’t.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Vampires are one of my favorite entities when it comes to supernatural beings, but most of the vampire books I read are PNR. There was nothing romantic about Blood Street… at least not much. The story was basically about a mob boss and the FBI agent whose soul agenda is to catch him teaming up to fight against a ruthless group of vampires. It was full of blood, gore, broken loyalty and shaky alliances. Not a light read by any stretch of the imagination, but a good read nonetheless.

Blood Street was also a book that pushed me into a totally different perspective. Not that the vampires I usually read about are less ruthless than Carl Alves’ version. It’s just that I usually find myself picking a side and forming a connection with one group or character. There were characters that I liked in Blood Street, but none that I really loved. Each one had moments that I sympathized with them, but they also had moments when they made me see the darker side of them and totally understand why they were the villain. For the record, I liked having my perspective shaken a little.

It’s kind of hard to say whether or not good won out over evil by the end of Blood Street. It was definitely a stand alone book, but there was enough left open at the end to make way for the story to continue. Enough that I think I’ll probably be checking out more of Carl Alves’ books just so I don’t lose track of what else he may have in store.

DragonFlyRating4

Dissident (Bellator Saga #1) by Cecilia London

dissident new coverShe once was important. Now she’s considered dangerous.
In a new America where almost no one can be trusted, Caroline lies unconscious in a government hospital as others decide her fate. She is a political dissident, wanted for questioning by a brutal regime that has come to power in a shockingly easy way. As she recovers from her injuries, all she has are her memories. And once she wakes up, they may not matter anymore.

I’m not exactly sure what I expected when I picked up Dissident. Whatever those expectations were, it definitely went beyond them. Although it started a little slow (minus the prologue… there was nothing slow about that) once I got into the story, I couldn’t put it down.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1One thing that you have to understand about Dissident is that you will walk away with more questions than answers. That’s not a bad thing, at least it wasn’t for me. When the author asked me if I’d like to read and review Dissident, I was totally honest with her. It takes me a while to get into a Dystopian book. I just have a hard time wrapping my head around the alternate worlds. She explained to me that there was a lot of back story in Dissident with flashbacks that ease readers into the world she created. Once I started reading, I thought I was going to be totally confused. The chapters alternate between the present and the past. Turns out, it was the perfect way to draw me in.

DissidentMost of the book is focused on the past. It’s Caroline’s personal story and you get to know her and her friends very well. It makes what’s happening in the present hard to understand. That’s the scary part. There’s enough reality in Dissident to make the future that Caroline faces totally believable.

Like I said, there are a lot of unanswered questions at the end of Dissident. Readers still don’t know exactly what events took place to bring Caroline to where she ended up. Her fate and others hang in the balance at the end. One book under her belt and Cecilia London already has the evil author thing down. Conscience, the next book in the Bellator Saga is scheduled to release in August… Needless to say, I can’t wait.

DragonFlyRating4

The Crawling Darkness (Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper #3) by J.L. Bryan

CrawlingDarknessGhost removal specialist Ellie Jordan must face a dangerous, shape-shifting entity that she and Calvin have encountered once before, with tragic results. The spirit has the power to reach into the minds of living and feed on their fears, taking the shape of their worst nightmares, and it has awoken in search of new victims.

Now Ellie must try to succeed where she and her mentor failed before, and try to defeat the twisted and powerful old ghost before it can claim another soul for its collection.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I’ve said it before, but honestly, this series gets better with each installment. The characters are developing as more of their past is revealed. The cases are becoming just a little bit more involved as well as intense. Then there’s the titles… The Crawling Darkness? You have no idea how aptly titled this book really is. o_O

As if scaring the pants off of readers isn’t bad enough, J.L. Bryan decided to take us on an emotional roller coaster in The Crawling Darkness. Just when I thought I knew enough from a character’s past, another one would find a way to break my heart for them. *sigh*

Ellie grew a lot stronger and seemed to work a lot ‘smarter’ in The Crawling Darkness. She also gained some valuable insight about members of her team that she didn’t expect. Then there’s a certain fire fighter that I’m hoping has a recurring role in Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper, but that’s all I’m saying. 😉 As happy as I was for her, I was kind of sad too. Things may be changing for Ellie more than she wants or thinks she’s ready for.

The Crawling Darkness is scheduled to release on February 5. Terminal is the 4th book in the series and it’s due to be released some time in May. Which means you have plenty of time to get your read on and catch up. As an extra incentive, J.L. Bryan has generously allowed me to give away one copy of the first book in the series, Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper. All you have to do is mention one thing that scares you in the comments. That’s it, just one thing. Since my birthday is January 30th and it’s also a Friday, that’s when I’ll pick and announce the winner. Have fun and good luck!

DragonFlyRating5

Surrender (Section 8, #1) by Stephanie Tyler – Bout-of-Books 12.0 Review

SurrenderDesperate, fearless, and hunted

For former Navy SEAL Dare O’Rourke, Section 8 was legendary. The son of one of its missing members, he grew up in the shadow of its secrets. All he knew was that it was a cabal of operatives discharged from branches of the military and reassigned to extremely dangerous, off-the-books international missions. And that their handler was as shrouded in mystery as the missions themselves. 

Nothing can stop them. Nothing can break them. 

Now the handler of Section 8 has given extreme orders to kill any remaining members, along with their families. Dare must save his long-lost half sister, Avery, whom he was never meant to meet. Determined to fight for their lives and find their missing father, Dare and Avery bring together those who are in danger because of their relationship to Section 8 for one last mission—to avenge their families and to survive.

I’m not sure what I expected when I picked up Surrender, but I certainly got more than I bargained for. It’s also one that keeps you on your toes. A lot of characters are introduced, a lot of POVs are shared and a lot happens.

The book opens in the past with Darius, Dare’s father. That prologue pretty much set the tone for the rest of the story. In other words, there wasn’t much down time for any of these characters.

The rest of the story centered around Dare, Avery, Grace, Gunner, Jem & Key. A group of broken misfits that had to form an unlikely alliance in order to survive. It didn’t happen immediately though. There wasn’t a lot of trust among this group. They each had their secrets and most of them were held close. They had all survived horrific circumstances that made them stronger, and maybe a little crazier than they were before.

Grace and Dare were the unlikely couple in Surrender. That’s definitely not how their relationship began, but… you’ll have to read it to understand. Trust me. 😉 As far as the story goes, there was plenty of action, a lot of suspense, pretty much constant danger and some twists, turns and revelations that had me re-reading a couple of chapters to figure out WTH just happened. Yeah, I’m thinking that I’m going to love this series.

The second book in the Section 8 series is Unbreakable, and I don’t really want to tell you who that centers on because there were times during Surrender that I honestly wasn’t sure if any of these characters were going to survive. I will tell you that one of my favorite characters is featured in the recently released 3rd book, Fragmented.

DragonFlyRating4

Stripping Her Defenses (Ex Ops #2) by Jessie Lane

SHD EbookHe can’t change the scars on her body…
but fate will give him a second chance to mend the scars he put on her heart.

Riley Sullivan and the Ex Ops Team are headed to Miami undercover… as bikers. Following up a lead, the men will perform their investigation acting as members of the Regulators Motorcycle Club with the club’s permission. Surrounded by hardcore bikers and investigating missing strippers, Riley finds the last person he ever expected to see again—his ex-wife.

Kara Sullivan left the man she loved after a tragic accident cost them their unborn son. After years of therapy, she’s come to grips with the loss and has re-emerged from the pain a brand new person. That doesn’t mean she’s ready to face the man who inadvertently broke her heart, and who she’s hurt in return.

Riley has never stopped loving her and he never will. He’s ready to fix their marriage and move on with their lives, however Kara’s reluctance to renew their relationship isn’t their only problem. Danger lurks just around the corner… and there’s a chance she could disappear permanently.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1A couple of confessions…. First – I skipped the first book and went right into the second. Yeah, I know. I warn readers about that all the time. Only because I do it all the time and I know how frustrating it can be. The good news is that even though there are things that I really want to know and things that I want to go back and find out, I wasn’t lost. Second – even though I knew better, I judged a character before getting the whole story. So basically, this whole intro is another perfect example of ‘do as I say, not as I do’ and since it’s been a while since I’ve given out that sage wisdom, I don’t feel bad about it at all. 😉 Now, on to the review.

This book covers a lot of ground. It starts out in the past and then jumps to a flashback in the present. Wow! For that reason alone, I have to say, I wish Stripping Her Defenses was just a little bit longer. The back story was necessary. It not only gave readers a glimpse of where these characters came from, it also put them right in the middle of the pain that they both experienced. I have to admit, in the beginning I didn’t really like Kara. The more I got to know her, the more I began to understand her and eventually really liked her. Riley I loved from the beginning. It goes without saying that my heart broke for both of them. For a lot of reasons, this wasn’t an easy book to read. Honestly, with all that these characters went through, it’s amazing that either one of them came through in one piece.

Stripping Her Defenses had pretty much everything you could want in a Suspense/Military/Romance. Too many alpha males to count, danger, heat, action and loss…. the only thing that I wish it had was more… *sigh*

The supporting characters were great as well. I also liked the POV switches between Kara and Riley. It not only kept things interesting, it kept the pages turning.

I can’t wait to go back and pick up Secret Maneuvers, the first book in Jessie Lane’s Ex Ops series.  Honestly though, I can’t decide if I’m looking forward more to the next book in this series, Sweet Recovery, or the first book in the Regulators MC series, Ice – a collaborative series by Jessie Lane and Chelsea Camaron. It’s definitely a toss-up. 😉

DragonFlyRating4

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