Tag Archive | horror

Brighter Than the Sun, A Charley Davidson Novella Darynda Jones

Brighter Than the Sun, A Charley Davidson Novella Darynda Jones 

Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews

Genre:  Romance, Fantasy,  Paranormal

If you haven’t read the Charley Davison series you’re missing a real treat. It a mix of humour and pathos, prophecies and adventure, mysteries and murders, fantastic characters – human and not so human – and a sensual, searing passion that transcends time. Literally as Reyes, Son of Satan, changed his fate to be with Charley.

Who is Charley? Well, she’s the Grim Reaper, she helps people pass, can see ghosts and runs her own PI agency, with the help of Cookie, her scatty BFF and a few ghostly sidekicks. she’s an amazing woman, incredibly generous spirited, loyal, warm hearted, funny,  and a total magnet for danger. Reapers don’t usually survive long on Earth, but Reyes is determined to change that and has the ability to drop in to her life incorporeally. He’s saved her a number of times now and she doesn’t yet realise it. Reyes thought he’d grow up with Charley but plans, even those of the Son of Satan, go awry and he ends up with the most horrific childhood. This book tells us more of his journey so far, more of what we’ve gleaned from Charley’s stories, and we see things from his side, from his first sight of Charley being born, his awful, tragic childhood, his sister Kim and long time friend Amador, he gives us the story right up to where he’s comatose and in danger of the life support being switched off. That’s when Charley finds him, I think that was about book two, maybe three.

If you haven’t read the main books read them first, find out what is so special about Charley that the Son of Satan falls in love with her, goes against his fathers plans and spends his life trying to be with her, drawn in to her Light that he describes as being brighter than the sun. Its a fabulous read, a terrific insight into the mind of the man Charley loves, who we usually see only from her viewpoint or in tiny glimpses from his.

This is a wonderful series and one I bought, not a review series!! Paid out Real Money 😉 Its one for my keepers file and the books are excellent value, being really full of story, of plots that keep the reader guessing, and some terrific humour to lighten the sadess of the murders and attacks that surround Charley. As we’ve got to later books things from the earlier ones that puzzled me have come clear. I haven’t actaully read book eight yet, its on my kindle waiting for book nine to come out, so I can read them back to back, because this one ends on a doozy of a cliff hanger and I know I need to be able to read what happens in the next book. Fortunately Darynda doens’t keep readers waiting years for next in series!

Stars: Five, a great addition to the series.
If you enjoyed my review I’d love it if you would please click “Like” and if you didn’t I’d love to know why, so I can make future reviews more helpful.

The Courtesan, Alexandra Curry

The Courtesan,  Alexandra Curry

Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews

Genre:  Literature/Fiction Adult.

I’ve read some fabulous historical books about life for girls in Japan and China. Initially this reminded me a few of them and I really enjoyed the first half. Its a fictional account of the life of a real person, based loosely around events that did happen to her. Once Jinhua married though it lost some of the attraction for me, odd as I thought the travel part would be an area I’d enjoy, but the book just lost much of the magic it had, the have to keep reading even though events are grim and shocking.
The early part is tough, harsh, cruel and at times very emotional. I felt for poor Jinhua, traded off to a brothel at just seven years old, to endure years of harsh training, and the horrors of foot binding even though she’s past the age it’s usually done. Its something that always shocks me, how parents put their girls through such pain, supposedly loving them and yet allowing their bones to be broken so the foot could be “reshaped,” and the growth stunted to produce tiny three inch long feet,( four inches in western measurement) revered by Chinese men of the time and a sign of a Lady, someone who couldn’t do any manual work of course because of her feet. Horrifically cruel and yet if they didn’t do it then the girls would grow up shunned for ugly feet, not make good marriages and end up in a life of poverty. Weird how we humans are sometimes…it didn’t really die out until the early 1900’s.
Anyway, there’s poor Jinhua. gone from having a father who adored her, who is killed on a moments whim by order of a child emperor, and that changes her whole life. We see how she gets sold, trained as a “money tree”, how tough her life became and how her only friend was the maid Suyin. Suyin also had her feet bound when she was older, and in her case it went wrong and left her with permanent deformities and a limp, so she’s only fit for life as a maid, someone to be beaten when Lao Mama, the house owner, loses her temper and can’t hit one of the girls in case she marks them. The friendship that developed between Suyin and Jinhua was very real, when both the girls had no-one else. Again it reminded me of scenes in other books. They were living in an intense situation, and neither had anyone else, and I could feel just how close they were. This early part was my favourite, despite how horrific some of it was, how causal life was treated – it echoes reality of those times ( and probably now too in some places) I felt very close to Jinhua and her situation, but as she grew older and that changed the story just lost its magic for me.
Stars: three, that early part felt very real but somehow as it went on I felt detached from the story and became less and less interested in Jinhua’s predicaments.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers.
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Exposed, Brighton Walsh.

Exposed, Brighton Walsh.
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Genre: New Adult
Second book in the series and though I hadn’t read book one that wasn’t a problem, as each novel focuses on different characters, so the couple from book one appear here in cameo roles, and the main crux is Riley and Evie.
So, having got that out of the way what did I get from this? Well, I love the drama that usually pervades NA reads, but though there was drama here it didn’t feel properly connected to the people involved. I didn’t really connect to Riley or Evie, and couldn’t really see why Evie did what she did. I understood Riley’s anger at the deception far better. Somehow I wanted Evie to care more, to want to live, connect, be part of life but she kind of feels to me likes she’s drifting, letting things happen, although of course she’s had to do some strong planning to get where she is. I felt there was a huge gap from where she left the criminal group who she’d been with since a young teen, and where she is now, engaged to a prominent character. given she wanted to stay hidden why on earth get with someone who’s going to attract publicity?  I wanted to know how she got there, how she’d passed the deception and how on earth she moved in the circles where she met her fiancé. That seemed a big gap to me, huge and I needed more there. I was also at a bit of a loss about the gang itself, who they were and why/what they did, though maybe that’s covered on book one. I felt so sorry for her when her past came out – that must have been tough and explains her need to control her life, except that I didn’t feel she had got control of it….and now with Riley and everything happening at once its all about to crash and implode.
Overall its a well written and decent read for the right reader, but for me it didn’t really work.  I wasn’t really invested in the characters or the outcomes, the story felt a bit detached for me, and though the plot had drama I wanted it between the characters too and just didn’t feel it. As ever though it’s just my personal view and will be very different for other readers.
Stars: Two and a half, there were some parts I enjoyed but overall it was a miss.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Dead Secret, by Richard Milton

Dead Secret, by Richard Milton
Genre: Paranormal, thriller/mystery
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
I love paranormal/fantasy reads so started this one eagerly. I never read horror though, or anything approaching it – I’m far too much of a wimp, have nightmares from the tiniest of scary stuff, so when this began to take a darker turn I was a lot more cautious. Those made of stronger stuff will rate this a five, not my four, but for me it was a scare too far. Its done so realistically that for people like me, it’s too easy to believe this scenario could happen…and that’s terrifying. If I’d taken more note of the horror part I’d not have started this.
Anyway there’s Tony,an investigative journalist, trundling along in his job as we all do, when his mum dies. She’s an ordinary suburban housewife so he’s staggered at what he’s been left in her will, a human skull, some strange and very old research papers, and he’s now a trustee of a very wealthy and secret organisation. The more he seeks out, the deeper the secrets go, and for a sceptic like himself, who needs science to back claims, he’s introduced into a world where there are are some pretty astonishing things he learns. I enjoyed the way the reader was taken back to the past, to read it as if it was current time, rather than a telling of history. That kind of action works far better for me, the Show the reader what’s happening and not Tell device. I was holding my breath at times, anxious for what came next.
I liked Tony, liked his approach in seeking the truth but Eve…no – I disliked her from the start. She’s a scary lady, and a very dangerous one. Its hard at first to see how all the different lines tie up – but slowly they knit together and the result is for someone like me – terrifying! Parts of the story are somewhat familiar to me in the way I’m interested in the oddities of history and science, in the study of the human body and how we use it. Its a like palm reading, reflexology, cranial therapy, where practitioners believe in manipulating the skull to cure illness. There are always alternative remedies and thoughts separate from the conventional ones, and sometimes I feel maybe its not that they don’t have scientific backing, but that we just haven’t discovered it yet. Think how electricity was regarded as magic, how back in the days of horse transport a car was unthinkable, how penicillin and painkillers were made from plants purely from observed effects, and not because science showed they work. The downside to being so open minded is the scary part where I feel so much is possible….and thus the nightmares, and why I shy away from anything like this usually….I enjoyed reading it, its a well played out and balanced thriller, with some graphic and dangerous sex scenes, but it’s not one I’d re read. Being scared once is enough for me.
Stars: Four, read with caution if like me you scare easily!
ARC provided by author

Penumbra, The Spook Squad 3, Keri Arthur

Penumbra: Spook Squad Trilogy: Book 3


Penumbra, The Spook Squad 3, Keri Arthur
Review from jeannie zelos book reviews
I was lucky enough to get book two for review and loved it. I’m a great fan of Keri’s work anyway, and this world is such fun, though at times confusing….with the shape-changers, shape-shifters ( yes there’s a difference) and multi-shifters.  Its bad enough just sorting them out,  but now we’ve clones too it seems…and of course there’s Sam with her unknown background and abilities. Then there’s Joshua and Joe, who is Joe, where does he fit in and what does he want with Sam, and is Joshua – her dream person – real? They seem to share memories or is it all a figment of imagination. The more Sam seeks answers the deeper the danger to her seems to get.Throw in the Gabriel problem – there’s a connection between them that he won’t acknowledge, more than just the weird bond they share that lets them feel what the other is feeling – and Sam’s had enough of being pushed aside by him. He doesn’t want her as a partner so she asks for and gets a transfer. He’s shocked though at where she’s going. It’s placing her in very grave danger and finally he needs to look at how he feels about her.
Its a great read. I was wary as I’d read that this was intended to be a four book series, and it stopped at three leaving things unresolved. I was afraid I’d be left in some weird book limbo, with a cliff-hanger ending and no resolution coming. For some people the book of the moment is all, and they don’t mind reading unfinished series or waiting ages for next book. Not me, I feel I’ve wasted my reading time when that happens. I need an ending of some kind, and though there are question unanswered here the basic ones are given an insight, and we got a form of ending. The Sam/Gabriel conundrum is resolved and that made me happy!
Its a fun read, some complex problems to work out, but I enjoy that. Its interesting speculating who was behind what, and for what reason. I’m a bit of a cynic when it comes to governments and Military so this kind of world where things happen feels very possible to me – maybe I’m not just a cynic, bit too gullible  but it makes for a book I really enjoyed and a series I’d re read despite it being “unfinished”. I’d rather that than Keri pick it up now, many years and other books later and make a poor fourth book. Writing is tough – I’ve tried and failed miserably, so when she says she can’t get back into that world again I’m OK with that.
Stars: Five.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Rogue, Eden Bradley

Rogue (The Midnight Playground)


Rogue, Eden Bradley
Review from jeannie zelos book reviews
Well, two days running I’ve been caught by a new series that’s actually turned out to be a continuation/extension of an existing series. Though this is Midnight Playground International, book one, its got all the characters and world building from the original Midnight Playground series. Of course not having read that I knew nothing about it…it’s not that hard to pick up though, but I think readers will enjoy it more if they read the others.
As it was it’s a novel that didn’t really work for me, being a very short book of around 150 kindle pages. That doesn’t really give a story a chance to get set, and I found this was mainly a succession of M/M sex scenes ( fine, I like those) set inside a very thin story line, and that doesn’t work for me. I need the sex to be a part of the story, not the whole thing. More story and less sex is what works for me, and this is more sex, less story IMO.. Its really just an introduction of how Rogue joins the existing group of vampires, by way of lots of sometimes very rough and bloody sex and beatings. I didn’t find the sex scenes very erotic, missed the tenderness of a proper romance, and found the back story just too thin. Sadly a book that wasn’t for me though I can see already its got lots of four and five star reviews. Still, that’s how it goes, and that gives us a good range of books to enjoy.
Stars: Two – just didn’t suit me.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

The Curse Merchant, J.P. Sloan


The Curse Merchant, J.P. Sloan
Review from jeannie zelos book reviews
Genre: Sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal
Dorian, he has this kind of careworn, cynical front going on, but as we get to know the man behind the facade we see he’s really a genuinely nice guy, he’s ready to help people – not just because it’s his job and they’re paying him, but because he really wants to make their lives better. He stays on the side of “clean” magic, that which depends on the goodness or otherwise of the user of his charms, and he’s very anti the Dark side, the type which carries great power but at the cost of his soul. I loved the description of his charms and hexes, and the way he explained how they were tailored to the user.
He seems to have been letting things slide though in both his business and personal life over the last couple of years, and it comes to a head when he’s threatened at gunpoint by an angry lady. It proves a catalyst for change, and he starts to look at how he’s living his life, and begin picking up his work again. That brings him to the attention of a local Netherworker. Dorian knows he’s far more skilled that Osterhaus but is shocked by how much of his work the man has picked up. Never the less he’s back now, and not stepping down. Then some things happen that lead him into danger and the temptations of Netherwork – his old girlfriend Carmen needs his help, and he still feels bad about their acrimonious breakup.
Its a fun read, full of interesting snippets of the history of magic interwoven with descriptions of the spells used. Its not a fast paced novel, and takes the time to thoroughly embed in the scene the various characters that we’ll meet in later books. I’d rather it be that way than a series start with a fast pace that leaves reader wondering “what? who? how?” A solid foundation works well, and the roots for a great series are here IMO. I love the whole idea of magic being attainable by study and not just a few select people with talent. Dorian makes for a great lead, and the side characters of Abe his tenant, Ben from the club, Osterhaus his business rival, Julian from the Mayor’s office are all people I hope will be in future reads. I’ll be looking for more from Dorian and JP Sloan.
Stars: I’m hovering between four and five…Four and a half it is.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

The Curse Defiers, Curse Keepers Series Book 3, Denise Grover Swank

The Curse Defiers (Curse Keepers Series Book 3)


The Curse Defiers, Curse Keepers Series Book 3, Denise Grover Swank
Genre: Paranormal, Romance, YA
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Well, this is one of those YA trilogies that’s suited to adults too – well written, and with an exiting plot. I really enjoyed books one and two and now its the conclusion – or is it? The way it ends it’s the finish – for now…but its left open for more, and I’m pleased about that as I think there’s life yet left in the story.
I like David, he’s a great character but somehow he seems so …good…whereas Collin, he’s the bad boy, the one who we all want to reform and come good. So I’d love to read more of them and Ellie of course. She’s grown so much in the short time the books cover – I guess fighting Demons and Ancient Gods will do that to a girl! Its an action packed instalment, where some of the threads introduced earlier and left open have reached the point where they close sections in the story. I love to re read books such as this just to see on second reading how I missed some of the clues. Once again Ellie is left wondering if she can trust Collin – he seems sincere but then he seemed like that before, and what happened then. She meets some new characters, finds out more information about the curse and how to deal with it but of course where did the info come from and can she trust it to be true? Once again she’s placed in life-threatening danger. The deaths are stacking up, and she’s distraught that she can’t protect her friends and family. She needs to make a decision on what to do sooner rather than later, and then – a new group appear who force her hand.
Its a fantastic finish and I love the way its a completion for now and not a total ending, so we could get more from the group in future books. Some stories end naturally and there isn’t room for more, but this trilogy can be read as just that – or can be the start of a longer running series.
Stars: Five, a well written, exciting read.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers.

Dust to Dust, Karina Halle


What a rollorcoaster ride to the end, some laughter, some tears, some scary bits ( as ever!) and some light and tender moments. Looking back to the first book, how much more confident Perry is and how Dex has changed, grown into himself. Its that they’re a team, work on each others strenths and weaknesses, that make them so good together and you can feel their love. Agfter all they’ve been through to get this far they deserve it.
This picks straight up from the last book and plunges everyone – inclding Ada and Perry’s parents – into danger. Michael has come calling, and he’s got Dex and Perry in his sights, and doesn’t care who gets taekn down along the way…there’s some real tearjerking monents in store….

I love this series, its been a fabulous journey with Dex and Perry. To think I almost missed it as I didn’t think it was a series for me! I’m a wimp, so anything with a horror tag tends to get passed by, and the first book sat on my kindle for ages, I’d got it as it was free but…kept putting off reading it. Finally plucked up courage and found it was very different to what I’d imagined and LOVED it – bought the rest and have been waiting anxiously for this one. I’m torn between being happy they finally got a resolution and a HEA – they’ve been through so much together – and then again, no more Dex and Perry 😦
Still, Karina is one of my favourite authors and I’ve bought more of her other books now too – and I’m sure she’ll have plans for another series to hook us devotees in!
One thing I have to say – a HUGE thanks Karina from readers who love that you don’t take ages – years for some authors – between books. The quality of writing is always excellent, and yet she turns out books after just a few months – this series hasn’t taken long, not sure when Darkhouse was first out but I bought it ( free!) in december 13, and there’s been over a dozen in the series including the novellas…along with some other fantastic books.

A Curse Awakened: A Weird Girls Novella, Cecy Robson


A Curse Awakened: A Weird Girls Novella, Cecy Robson
Review from jeannie zelos book reviews
Having just requested the latest book in this series while not having read the earlier ones, this was a really useful book. At 49p for 94 pages its excellent value too. It introduces us to the four sisters and how they gained their unique abilities, while still giving us an exciting and engrossing story. We also get to know the girls personality types too,not just their special abilities,  and see how close they are to each other. They’ve learned to rely on themselves, having been scorned and ridiculed by peers at school, and cast out by their parent’s family so have become very close knit as a result. Danny, their long time friend who is still close to Celia, needs their help and they discover in order to rescue his father from the vampires they need to know more about their origins. Luckily Danny is a scholarly type and used to research, so with his help they end up back at their roots – and straight into some real dangers. Throw in Danny’s fathers capture and its a short but fully packed read.
Its a great introduction to this world and I certainly want to read more from this author.
Stars: five, great escape from reality.
ARC supplied via Netgalley and publishers.

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