Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy #2) by Deborah Harkness

Picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night takes Diana and Matthew on a trip through time to Elizabethan London, where they are plunged into a world of spies, magic, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the School of Night. As the search for Ashmole 782 deepens and Diana seeks out a witch to tutor her in magic, the net of Matthew’s past tightens around them, and they embark on a very different—and vastly more dangerous—journey.

Well, that was an interesting… journey… Not only did Diana and Matthew learn some interesting things about what they traveled in time to discover, they also learned some interesting things about each other and themselves.

It wasn’t surprising that Diana didn’t know everything there was to know about Matthew’s past, but some of what she learned was more shocking than others. The fact that they both learned more about Diana was no surprise, after all, that’s mostly what the trip to Matthew’s past was about. To find out as much about Diana’s magic and how to control it.

During their journey, they made some other interesting discoveries and made some unexpected alliances. It was fun to get a creative take on some familiar historic characters. I think that may have been what I enjoyed most about Shadow of Night.

Time will tell how their trip into the past will affect their future and the future of others. Although Shadow of Night didn’t end in quite the cliff hanger that A Discovery of Witches, I still can’t wait to read, The Book of Life, the last book in the All Souls Trilogy.

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.


Vampire Seeker (Samantha Carter #1) by Tim O’Rourke

Samantha Carter believes that a vampire is responsible for the brutal deaths of four women in her hometown.

Desperate to prove this, Samantha accepts the friendship of a Preacher, two Cowgirls, and a Cowboy. Together, they are hired by the mysterious Englishman, Spencer Drake, to travel by steam train into the mountains in search of gold. It’s on this journey that Samantha finds romance with a man who keeps a dark and terrifying secret and discovers that vampires are not only very real, but are far more dangerous than she ever imagined. In order to stay alive, Samantha needs to figure out why things have gone so terribly wrong for her. But more importantly, why is she out of time?

**This is a mature New Adult Novel for ages 17 and up. Contains sexual situations and scenes of horror**

This is the first book by Tim O’Rourke that I’ve read. Jumping on the band wagon late has its advantages though. Mainly, I get to go back and see what I’ve been missing if I run into an author that sparks my interest. I’m happy to say that I can now add O’Rourke to that list.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Vampire Seeker and even if I had a preconceived notion, I wouldn’t have come close.

This book was like no other Vampire book that I’ve read, at least not that I remember. It was an interesting combination of historical Western, mystery, time travel, a touch of vivid gore, vampires, danger for everyone involved, shape shifters and romance.You also shouldn’t pick this one up expecting smexy vampires. O’Rourke’s are anything but smexy. These vamps are straight out of your worst nightmare. *shivers* Needless to say, nothing about this book was what you would expect and sometimes that’s a very good thing.

The characters were interesting, to say the least. There was plenty of action, lots of mystery and enough twists and turns to keep readers wondering up until almost the very end exactly who the good guys and bad guys really were. Throw in a hot little romance and there was more than enough packed into this book to keep almost any reader’s interest.

Just a warning, even though Vampire Seeker doesn’t end in a huge cliff hanger, it does end leaving readers with a gnawing desire to know what could possibly happen next. Needless to say, I will be watching for the second installment.

I downloaded Vampire Seeker from Amazon under it’s previous title Cowgirls & Vampires. Between the time I read it and this review, the title changed to Vampire Seeker. Hmm… which cover and title do you like best?

I received Vampire Seeker under the title  Cowgirls & Vampires as a free download from Amazon on October 26, 2012.

Hourglass (Hourglass #1) by Myra McEntire

For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn’t there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents’ death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She’s tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.

So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past.
Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he’s around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?

Full of atmosphere, mystery, and romance, Hourglass merges the very best of the paranormal and science-fiction genres in a seductive, remarkable young adult debut.

This book has been around for a while and it’s been on my radar for just about that long. Of course the premise of the book got my attention, but I think it was the cover that actually grabbed me. It’s just so striking and unique. I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover, but when you see one this creative and eye catching you can’t help but be drawn to it. *sigh* The pages beyond the cover though… wow! I can’t remember the last time a YA book affected me as emotionally as this one did. Myra McEntire is definitely on my list of favorite authors that I will be keeping my eye on in the future. (No pun intended.)

I’m not exactly sure where to start. I guess I should begin with the standard ‘gush’ warning. There is no way that I will be able to get through this review without gushing and rambling and …. well, you get the idea. Hourglass was just that amazing.

Okay, now that we’ve gotten all the preliminaries out of the way, let’s start at the most logical place – Emerson. She is such a great teen MC. I’ve said before that I like ‘smart’ teen characters and Emerson falls into that category. Part of that comes from the fact that she has been through so much, but part of it is just her personality. She is a character that you can’t help but like and really want to get to know. I love her love and devotion for her family. I also love the fact that she picks her battles. She respects her older brother and his wife, but she also treats him like a brother. They have such a special relationship. Even though he’s the ‘big brother’ and could pull the guardianship card, he proves more than once that even though he’s protective, he still respects Emerson as a person. She accepts his role as guardian and even though she doesn’t like it, she knows when she’s pushed him to his limit and accepts the consequences. I really loved the way that McEntire portrayed their relationship.

Then there’s Michael. *sigh* He is the kind of YA male that I desperately want to find for any one of my daughters. There is an instant connection between Emerson and Michael that neither one of them can deny. Michael, however, does his best. The fact that he keeps secrets from her drives her crazy, but he does it out of a sense of responsibility to her. He’s the kind of character that you have more and more respect for the longer you’re ‘with’ him. He’s human, and he does make some not so smart decisions, but that just made me like him more. His dedication, responsibility, respect and love for his friends make him the perfect hero.

The supporting characters were well written. I loved the friendship between Lily and Emerson. They truly loved and supported each other in ways no one else could. Kaleb was so broken you couldn’t help but love him. Even when Michael was ‘mad’ at him you could feel the love and respect between them. Thomas and Dru, Emerson’s brother and sister-in-law were great too. None of the relationships were forced and they all fit perfectly into the story.

The climax of this book was heartbreaking and so full of emotion it pretty much tore me up. Tears? Oh yeah, there were tears and the worst part was that they were totally unexpected. There were twists and turns near the end that would put any roller coaster to shame. I kind of figured out who one of the ‘bad’ guys were, but their ‘partner in crime’ totally blew me away. You literally don’t see any of it coming until you are right in the middle of it. It was amazing!

Hourglass doesn’t end in a cliff hanger, but there is so much more left to the story. I’m not sure how long it will be before I pick up Timeless but I can’t wait to read it. A recovery period would probably be good though. This was definitely an intense read, but one that I am so glad I finally picked up.

FYI – I’m not sure how much longer it will last, but I purchased my ebook version of Hourglass for less than $2 at Amazon. Run, now and grab it while it’s still available for this amazing price. You can thank me later. 😉 

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.

Powerful Magic by Karen Whiddon

Kenric of Blackstone is tormented. Not entirely human, he cannot live with his past or with that he truly is. When he is needed to help in a battle that could destroy the earth, it is Megan who gives him strength, Megan whose kisses heal him…

In a strange land and time, it became clear to Megan Potter why she’d been summoned. This wasn’t about Faerie prophecies or wizardry, or even a desperate struggle to find her way home. This was a quest to save a man’s heart. And for the first time ever, she felt destined to prevail, because with her help she knew this handsome prince could discover the most powerful magic of all – Love.

Every once in a while a book will totally take you by surprise. Powerful Magic falls into that category. I love it when that happens. 🙂

This is going to be a hard review to write, simply because I don’t want to give too much away. There are so many twists, turns and secrets slowly revealed that happened as the story unfolded. *sigh*

Megan finds herself thrown into the past. She’s instantly attracted to Kenric, her unwilling savior. Kenric, however, has no time for anything other than his own personal quest and vengeance. Watching the wall that he has built around himself begin to crumble was part of why Powerful Magic turned into such a page turner for me. The world building and mythology also peaked my interest and kept the story moving at a steady pace.

This is the first in Karen Whiddon’s Magic Series. From reading the other book descriptions, it looks like the only common thread between the books is the magic element. Even though I’d love to get more of the story between Kenric and Megan, I will still probably check out the rest of the books.

I received Powerful Magic as a free download from Amazon on March 9, 2012.

11/22/63 by Stephen King

On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy died, and the world changed. What if you could change it back? Stephen King’s heart-stoppingly dramatic new novel is about a man who travels back in time to prevent the JFK assassination, a thousand-page tour de force.

Following his massively successful novel Under the Dome, King sweeps readers back in time to another moment a real life moment when everything went wrong: the JFK assassination. And he introduces readers to a character who has the power to change the course of history.

Jake Epping is a thirty-five-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching adults in the GED program. He receives an essay from one of the students a gruesome, harrowing first person story about the night 50 years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a hammer. Harry escaped with a smashed leg, as evidenced by his crooked walk.

Not much later, Jake’s friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane and insanely possible mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson and his new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars and sock hops, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake’s life a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.

A tribute to a simpler era and a devastating exercise in escalating suspense, 11/22/63 is Stephen King at his epic best.

I finished 11/22/63 last night, but wanted to wait until I was fresh to write this review. I’m still not sure I can do the book justice. Those of you who have been following my reviews will notice that this isn’t my usual read. I’m not sure when I would have picked it up if I hadn’t won a copy. It’s not at all what I expected from a Stephen King novel, but it’s been a while since I’ve read Stephen King. I still don’t remember getting as lost (in a good way) in one of his books as I did in this one. It was just that good!

I’m not going to summarize 11/22/63, you can read that in the description I got from goodreads. What I will try to do in this review is let you know why I liked it so much.

A central, driving theme in 11/22/63 is ‘The past is obdurate. It doesn’t want to change.’ Throw in a healthy dose of ‘everything happens for a reason’ and you get the gist of the lesson King is trying to convey in this book. You can probably guess that from the premise. Every time travel book and show that I’ve ever seen or heard about warns us to be careful of what you change when you visit the past. Even the least little change can throw everything off. I guess in essence what I’m trying to get across is that the story is a great one, the lessons that are learned are important and life changing, but the real story and what made the telling of it so great was the journey the characters had to take to get there. It was a beautiful and heart breaking journey and King did a wonderful job of leading the reader through it.

There was so much to love about this story. You had to admire the need Jake felt to right wrongs from the past, regardless of how he had to do it. His love for Sadie was fierce and beautiful. Sadie’s love for Jake (George) was just as fierce. What I didn’t expect from this story was the emotion that all of these character evoked in me. The back stories of both Harry and Sadie were heart breaking. There were several moments that both tears of happiness and tears of sadness were shed and I never saw it coming. (Who expects to cry when reading Stephen King?) There were moments that I literally breathed a sigh of relief because what I was afraid was going to happen didn’t. I’m still feeling the emotion from this book and I finished it over 12 hours ago. I suppose that pretty much says it all. It was a great read and even though it was a long read – I could have read more.

If you are a fan of Stephen King, I know you will read this book. If you haven’t read King for a while and you want to revisit his writing, 11/22/63 is a great place to start. If you aren’t a fan of horror and that’s one of the reasons why you have avoided King and his works, don’t be afraid of this one. There are scarier things than monsters under the bed, however. Sometimes real life is scarier than the monsters in our dreams.