SS: Guest post by Jillian Stone + giveaway!


Today’s post is by Jillian Stone, author the Phaeton Black, Paranormal Investigator series published by Kensington Brava. It’s super sexy steampunk and the third book in the series, THE MISS EDUCATION OF DR. EXETER, has just been released. Jillian is on tour to celebrate this release and is offering a tour-wide giveaway of a steampunk necklace. She’s written an extremely steamy scene for us so make sure you’re ready for mature content before proceeding! And enjoy the post!


The Miss Education of Dr. Exeter by Jillian Stone (Phaeton Black, Paranormal Investigator #3)“What exactly is a superior moon?” Mia asked, untying her cloak and letting it drop to the ground.

Jason Exeter stood on a rise overlooking the Thames. The river sparkled from the light of the moon at perigee. “A superior moon or supermoon occurs but once a year, when the moon is closest to the earth––much larger and brighter than an average full moon, he explained. The fact that this moon happens on the summer solstice is a cosmic coincidence of great importance.”

“The brightest moon on the longest day.” Mia spread her cloak on the cool grass, and leaned back on her elbows to star gaze. “Mr. Ping says that a magic moment will occur at 3:32 a.m. but he did not specify exactly what will happen, in fact he was rather mysterious about this rare confluence of moon and earth.”

She scanned the skies, as he explained. “Many cultures associate the solstice with increased fertility, while others believe the superior moon has certain effects on people’s behavior, even though there is no scientific evidence to prove it. I have never personally felt the effects but I know someone who seems more agitated, more feline every time there is a full moon.” Exeter’s gaze moved from the river to her. “How are you feeling, Mia?”

“She is near.” Mia clawed at her gown. The tingling sensation and urges were back, and the sense that her body was not entirely her own. These unexpected shifts to a feline creature had come upon her rather suddenly last year. And her brave and handsome husband had preformed duties far above and beyond the natural world to bring her through this frightening period of transformation. “I get the feeling you and Ping are plotting something.” Mia’s eyes glowed, and her pupils narrowed into suspicious slits.

She now had Exeter’s full attention.

The Seduction of Phaeton Black by Jillian Stone (Phaeton Black, Paranormal Investigator #1)“Do you need me to undress you?” He lowered to his haunches. “Turn around, love.” She moved her back to him. “Please assure me you will not run off––for as lovely as you are without a stitch on––I would not want the neighbors to view my beautiful wife in the nude . . . again.”

“I often have no control over her . . . she’s—” Mia shifted away and he pulled her back. Gentle fingers loosened the strings of her corset.

His exhale wafted over skin moist with perspiration. “Ping believes the cat will speak to me tonight––I may hear her voice for the first time.” His knuckles brushed against the flesh of her back, causing a shiver she failed to conceal. They had been married less than a year––and his touch still sent a tremble through her, as though it were the first time he caressed her bare skin.
She disrobed and left nothing on. Any clothes on her body would end up in tatters. The evening chill was soothing, even sensuous. She lay back as a gentle wind hardened her nipples and prickled her skin.

Exeter would not touch her now, she was too close to shift. It was too dangerous. He had been scratched and bitten more than once. “Touch yourself, Mia” And she imagined his fingers . . . there.

The shift was instantaneous. Painless.

The sleek black panther stretched, and languidly moved off toward the river. The water rippled with a deep green luminescence––no doubt due the brightness of the evening sky. The cat hesitated––one front paw off the ground as the magnificent, full moon rose above the tree line.

She looked back at Exeter. Slowly she returned to him. Women are like the moon––beautiful––something to be adored, praised––and loved.

This was a new voice he heard in his head. Mia often spoke to him telepathically in cat form, but he had never actually heard the panther’s voice. Exeter sat up straight. What was he to make of the cat’s speech? I love Mia, body and soul, with all my heart.

Aaaaah, but does she feel adored? The cat licked a paw and rubbed her face.

The Moonstone and Miss Jones by Jillian Stone (Phaeton Black, Paranormal Investigator #2)Exeter stared. Of course he had told Mia he loved her––hadn’t he? Well, perhaps not in so many words. Truth be told, he had been rather busy of late, moving back and forth between London and Boston. Mia had college, and she was doing brilliantly. She had all the makings of a fine, compassionate physician. Deep in thought, Exeter rubbed the stubble on his chin. Perhaps they had drifted apart, some.

He gaze returned to the green-eyed panther. What would you have me do?

Bring her back with your words, alone.

He stretched out on the grass, beside Mia the cat, and spoke softly. “…I awoke before you this morning. As most mornings, I often watch you in your sleep––the rise and fall of your breasts as you breathe––the pale sunshine on peach colored cheeks. When I can stand it no longer I pull you close and nuzzle, hoping to wake you gently, for a hint of smile, to feel your lips on mine.”
The cat nuzzled back.

“In those quiet, moments, I yearn for you to wake. And when your eyes flutter open, I am enthralled, for I know I will spend another day with my dear wife––who is both my friend and my lover.” The cat rose and collapsed into his arms. “Mia, I love and adore you with all my heart.”

She slowly shifted back––claws to fingernails, whiskers to nose, sleek black fur to pale ivory skin. Her arms moved around his neck and she pulled him down. As his lips met hers, she whispered. “Make love to me, Exeter––I’ve heard quite enough!”


Thank you so much for stopping by on your blog tour, Jillian! For more of Jillian’s tour, check out the other stops by clicking on the banner below.

The Miss Education of Dr Exeter tour banner



The Miss Education of Dr. Exeter by Jillian Stone (Phaeton Black, Paranormal Investigator #3)Plunge deeper into the curious world of the deadly Nightshades.

The Moonstone is having a destabilizing effect on the time/space membrane leaving Phaeton trapped in a parallel mirror world where everything is opposite or upside down, yet oddly the same. He is held captive by Domina Valour and tested sorely in this darkly sensual third episode of the Phaeton Black series.

Gaspar Sinclair can’t go after Phaeton. His physical body is unraveling before everyone’s eyes. America Jones is large with child, but only she has the preternatural ability to locate Phaeton and bring him back. And Doctor Exeter’s beautiful charge, Mia, has her claws in him. Quite literally.

To accomplish Phaeton’s rescue, the doctor must let loose forces he hasn’t the foggiest clue how to control, including his attraction to Mia.

While in the dimension of magnetic opposites, the doctor and Miss Jones attempt to reverse polarity to retrieve Phaeton and stop Gaspar from unraveling. Can America and Phaeton find a way to return together, or will this final test rip them apart forever?

Read an excerpt

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Here’s the rest of the series:

The Seduction of Phaeton Black by Jillian Stone (Phaeton Black, Paranormal Investigator #1) The Moonstone and Miss Jones by Jillian Stone (Phaeton Black, Paranormal Investigator #2)


Jillian is offering a tour-wide giveaway of a steampunk necklace!

Jillian Stone giveaway steampunk necklace Jillian Stone giveaway steampunk necklace

To enter, obey the Rafflecopter!

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In 2010, Jillian won the RWA Golden Heart for An Affair with Mr. Kennedy and went from no agent or publisher to signing with Richard Curtis and being offered a three book contract by Pocket Books. That summer, she also won the erotica category of the 2010 Romance Through the Ages contest for The Seduction of Phaeton Black and was offered a three book contract by Kensington Brava. Needless to say, she has been busy writing books this past year and a half! Jillian lives in Southern California.

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SS: Interview with Jennifer Estep + giveaway!


I’m always excited when Jennifer Estep stops by because she’s one of my favourite authors. She’s the brilliant mind behind two great series: her young adult mythology-based Mythos Academy books from KTeen and her amazing Elemental Assassin series from Pocket. She has releases from both series in the pipeline for this summer and she’s graciously agreed to an interview to chat about her summer plans. Please join me in welcoming the wonderful Ms. Estep to Supernatural Solstice!


1. Welcome back to the blog, Jennifer! Thanks for taking the time to participate in Supernatural Solstice. You have a ton of stuff coming out this summer: SPARTAN FROST(out today), MIDNIGHT FROST (July 30), an Elemental Assassin story in CARNIEPUNK (July 23), KISS OF VENOM, another Elemental Assassin short from Owen’s POV (July 25), and HEART OF VENOM (August 27). It leads to an obvious question: how do you write so much and so well? =)

Heart of Venom by Jennifer Estep (Elemental Assassin #9)Thanks for hosting me on the blog again. I appreciate it.

I’ve been busy. LOL. But writing is my full-time job, and I’m always working on some project or another. I work at least 40 hours a week, and usually, it’s more. But I love what I do, and I write fairly quickly, so that helps with all of the long hours on the computer.

But everything just sort of came together for this summer, which is why I have so many new releases coming out over the next few months. I hope that everyone enjoys all of the books and e-stories.

2. Do you approach writing young adult novels differently than your adult series?

Not really. I’m a panster, so I write all of my books pretty much the same way. I think about the characters, the magic, and the major turning points of the story, then sit down and start writing.

But I would say that my Mythos Academy books are a little different from my other books in that I’m trying to tell more of a coming-of-age story in those books, especially since my heroine, Gwen, is still learning about herself, her magic, and trying to figure out what she wants her place in the world to be. So far, it’s been a fun challenge writing a YA series and really trying to capture that YA voice and all of the emotions, problems, and triumphs that go along with being a young adult.

3. I’m really excited to read SPARTAN FROST because it’s the first time we get a story from Logan’s point of view. Did this switch present any challenges? Any extra freedom?

Spartan Frost by Jennifer Estep (Mythos Academy #4.5)Thanks. I appreciate that.

For my Elemental Assassin series, I’ve written several free short stories from the points of view of different characters. Those stories are on the Excerpts page of my website. So I thought that it would be fun to do the same thing with my Mythos Academy series. Plus, readers really seem to like the shorter e-stories that many authors are now writing in between their books.

After what happens in CRIMSON FROST, the fourth book, it only seemed natural to write a story from Logan’s point of view and fill in some of the things that happen to him after CRIMSON FROST. Plus, I’ve gotten a lot of reader requests for a Logan story, so this is was a way that I thought I could give folks a little something extra to enjoy in the series.

I write in first-person, and I think it’s always interesting to show a different character’s point of view on something or how he might react in a situation when the heroine isn’t around. In Logan’s case, I got to explore how he feels about Gwen, his dad, and being a Spartan, among other things.

4. With each instalment of the Mythos Academy series, Gwen faces bigger challenges and MIDNIGHT FROST seems to contain the most daunting task yet. How do you come up with these ideas and where will the series go from here?

Any time you write a series, especially if you are following the same heroine through multiple books, then you always want to make the stakes higher and higher in each subsequent book. I really enjoy coming up with new bad guys and new challenges for Gwen to face and then figuring out how she can use her magic and smarts to get out of all of these dire situations.

KILLER FROST, the sixth book in the series, is tentatively set to be released in March 2014.

5. What can you share about your story in CARNIEPUNK?

Parlor Tricks by Jennifer Estep (Carniepunk) My story is called PARLOR TRICKS, and it’s part of my Elemental Assassin series. In the story, Gin and Bria go to a country carnival in search of a missing girl and end up in more trouble than they anticipated. It’s more of a stand-alone adventure, so I hope that it will appeal to both fans of the series and folks who haven’t tried my books yet.

Also, to help promote the CARNIEPUNK anthology, PARLOR TRICKS is available as a free e-download from all of the usual e-booksellers. I hope that everyone enjoys the story and the anthology. It’s been a cool project to be a part of.

6. HEART OF VENOM, your ninth Elemental Assassin novel, comes out at the end of the summer and gives us a look into Sophia’s past. Can you share any exclusive tidbits about what we’ll see in this novel?

Like you said, HEART OF VENOM delves into Sophia’s past and backstory, as well as Jo-Jo’s. I’ve gotten a lot of questions about the Deveraux sisters, so this book will fill in some of their history together and with Fletcher, Gin’s mentor. It will also answer some questions about Gin and Owen’s relationship and where the two of them go after the events of the last few books in the series.

7. Which character has surprised you the most in these two series?

Hmm. That’s a tough one. They all surprise me to some extent. But right now, I will say Phillip Kincaid in my Elemental Assassin series. When I first wrote him back in the third book, VENOM, he was just a minor character, a bad guy who owned a riverboat casino. But then, when I had the idea for WIDOW’S WEB, book seven, I realized that he would make a great character to help me tell more of Owen’s backstory. So Phillip just sort of took on a life of his own, but readers really seem to like his character so far.

And now a couple event-related questions:

8. What’s your favourite part of summer?

One of my favorite parts of summer is cooking out with my friends.

9. Which of your characters would be most likely to celebrate the summer solstice and why?

Definitely Finnegan Lane from my Elemental Assassin series. Finn loves any excuse to have a good time, so I could see him throwing a summer solstice party for Gin and the gang.

Happy reading, everyone!


Thank you so much, Jennifer! It’s always such a pleasure to have you on board!


Spartan Frost by Jennifer Estep (Mythos Academy #4.5)I’m Logan Quinn, the deadliest Spartan warrior at Mythos Academy. At least I was–until the day I almost killed Gwen Frost.

Professor Metis and Nickamedes say that I’m fine, that Loki and the Reapers don’t have a hold on me anymore, but I can’t risk it. I can’t risk hurting Gwen again. So I’m leaving Mythos and going somewhere far, far away.

I know Gwen wonders what’s happening to me, whether I’m safe. I can’t tell her, but this is my story…

Jenn’s thoughts

Read an excerpt

Purchase: Amazon

And here’s MIDNIGHT FROST, out July 30:

Here we go again…

Just when it seems life at Mythos Academy can’t get any more dangerous, the Reapers of Chaos manage to prove me wrong. It was just a typical night at the Library of Antiquities—until a Reaper tried to poison me. The good news is I’m still alive and kicking. The bad news is the Reaper poisoned someone else instead.

As Nike’s Champion, everyone expects me to lead the charge against the Reapers, even though I’m still hurting over what happened with Spartan warrior Logan Quinn. I’ve got to get my hands on the antidote fast—otherwise, an innocent person will die. But the only known cure is hidden in some creepy ruins—and the Reapers are sure to be waiting for me there…

Read an excerpt

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Click on the cover to see my thoughts on the rest of the series:

Jennifer Estep First Frost Jennifer Estep Touch of Frost Jennifer Estep Kiss of Frost Jennifer Estep Dark Frost Jennifer Estep Kiss of Frost


Jennifer is graciously offering one (1) copy of MIDNIGHT FROST to a lucky reader!

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Jennifer Estep is a New York Times bestselling author, prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea. She is the author of the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series for Pocket Books and the Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series for Kensington. She is also the author of the Bigtime paranormal romance series. For more information, visit or follow Jennifer on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


Spartan Frost by Jennifer Estep

Spartan Frost by Jennifer Estep (Mythos Academy #4.5)Spartan Frost by Jennifer Estep

Book stats:
Reading level: Young adult
E-book: 46 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Publisher: Kensington
Release date: June 25, 2013

Series: Mythos Academy #4.5

Source: eARC via Netgalley

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon

I’m Logan Quinn, the deadliest Spartan warrior at Mythos Academy. At least I was—until the day I almost killed Gwen Frost.

Professor Metis and Nickamedes say that I’m fine, that Loki and the Reapers don’t have a hold on me anymore, but I can’t risk it. I can’t risk hurting Gwen again. So I’m leaving Mythos and going somewhere far, far away.

I know Gwen wonders what’s happening to me, whether I’m safe. I can’t tell her, but this is my story…

WARNING: Do not read SPARTAN FROST unless you’ve finished CRIMSON FROST. The book deals with the aftermath of the climax of CRIMSON FROST so you’ll be spoiling it for yourself if you jump to this.

Clocking in at under 50 pages, SPARTAN FROST is a brief glimpse into the life of Logan Quinn, the alpha male of Mythos Academy. I’ve been really excited to get my hands on this story because it’s the first time we get to be in Logan’s brain, and see just how he’s coping with what happened in CRIMSON FROST (the previous novel), when his stepmother betrayed him and helped Loki to possess him, causing him to skewer Gwen (his girlfriend) through the chest with a sword. Free of Loki’s influence, Logan’s been shaken to the core and it gives the reader a chance to see our favourite Spartan off of his game. I’m kind of bummed there’s no Logan on the cover of the e-book, especially since there’s a super busty and cleavage-barring Gwen instead (and she’s not in the story at all).

Logan retreats to his family’s mansion in the Adirondacks but it doesn’t take long for trouble to show up in the mountains. There’s a bit of interaction with some Reapers — and by interaction I mean swordplay! — but the most interesting part of SPARTAN FROST was definitely getting into Logan’s brain and seeing how he feels about Gwen and his father. Logan and Papa Quinn have an uneasy relationship and they’re walking on eggshells around each other now that Agrona, Logan’s stepmother, is gone. She was always a buffer between them and now these two men have to learn how to interact and get over their old feelings. This is what I was hoping to get in SPARTAN FROST and Jennifer Estep delivers.

If you’re a Mythos Academy fan like me, you’ll find SPARTAN FROST both satisfying and frustrating — satisfying because we finally get to know Logan a bit better and frustrating because it’s just too short! I’d suggest reading this just after finishing CRIMSON FROST or right before you start MIDNIGHT FROST (due out next month) because SPARTAN FROST will leave you begging for more time with the Mythos Academy kids!

Read an excerpt



SS: Interview with Jess Haines + Giveaway


Today I have the honour to have my friend Jess Haines here on the blog! She is the author of the amazing urban fantasy series, H&W Investigations and she accepted our invite to celebrate the upcoming release of Forsaken by the Others, 5th book in the series. Please welcome her warmly, and stick ‘til the end for a giveaway!

1- Forsaken by the Others is the 5th book in the H&W Investigations series, is it the final one? If not, how many more books have you planned?

I’m contracted for a 6th book in the series. I’ve got plans brewing for more, but I can’t promise anything yet since they aren’t under contract. Shiarra’s adventures will continue, one way or another.

2- I’ve always had this strong feeling that your series is not getting all the praise it should, it’s such an amazing UF with great characters, what would you say to those out there who haven’t read it yet?

Oh, thank you! I’m blushing over here. *g*

I know some people have been put off by the covers from earlier books. SomeHunted By The Others (H&W Investigations, #1) thought it was just another paranormal romance. Others that vampires are so overdone, yawn.

Honestly? I understand where they’re coming from. What I would like to say is that I have worked hard to write an urban fantasy series that was not all about pantsfeelings or a heroine who starts out as a kickass supernatural with awesome powers. Shiarra Waynest is a human woman in a paranormal world, with all of the problems that entails–both mundane and supernatural. She’s got a failing business, bills to pay, and prejudices and phobias involving Others that she has to face. If you’re expecting Anita Blake or Sookie Stackhouse, you’re not going to find it in my books. Nothing against paranormal romance (I write those, too) but that wasn’t the audience I was looking to cater to with the H&W Investigations books. My vampires don’t sparkle and my werewolves aren’t teddy bears in disguise.

In short, if you’re a fan of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files or Kim Harrison’s Hollows/Rachel Morgan series, I hope you might like my work, too.

3- Shia is stuck between the werewolf and the vampire world, will she finally pick a side (or be forced onto one?)

Ahh, that’s for the author to know and readers to find out. *g* Book 6 will see a lot of unanswered questions and some strings you may have forgotten about from earlier books tied up.

4- You ended Stalking the Others with quite a bomb, what was the feedback from your readers and what can they expect in book 5?

I got a great deal of fans fanning themselves and wanting to know whenStalking the Others (H&W Investigations, #4) the next book was coming out. *g*

Forsaken by the Others is coming soon, my pretties, and the game is changing for Shiarra. With all the heat coming down on her for her vigilante actions in book 4, Stalking the Others, she’s no longer safe in New York. For her own safety, Royce is sending her to Los Angeles, where she’ll meet some karaoke-loving fringe-hobo vampires, giant werewolves who may or may not want to eat her face, and a necromancer with a whole mess of zombies and a grudge. Friends and enemies both old and new are going to surface, and it’s going to be up to Shiarra to find out how to deal with the zombies and their master.

Here, have a taste…

I cleared my throat. “I guess we’ll—ah—we’ll just be going—”


Ha, that was funny. For a second there, I thought he said no.

“Come inside. I want to talk to you.”

Oh. I hadn’t imagined it.

The Viking stood up, towering in the doorway, his towel slipping lower on his hips. Feeling a tad ill, I lifted my hands, not quite sure if it was meant to be a negative gesture or a please-don’t-hurt-me supplication. Sara and I stumbled back, fetching up against a big oak tree shading the yard and some of the street. He moved towards us, and the bark cracked under my fingertips as I clutched at the tree.

He stopped when he was close enough to touch, both of us staring up at him like we were staring down Death come to claim us.

Then he engulfed us in a hug. I’m pretty sure I left a chunk of skin behind on that tree when he pulled us away. I didn’t start screaming and flailing because, much like Analie, he didn’t seem to have any concept of his own strength when he crushed us against him.

The only reason I knew I wasn’t about to die was because the six-foot-plus terrifying werewolf warrior wearing nothing but a towel was crying all over us.

God damn, my life was getting weirder by the day.

(To answer a question I’ve been getting a lot, yes, this book can be read on its own. I strongly suggest reading Stalking the Others first at a bare minimum, but there is currently a deal for Nook and Kindle readers to get all four of the earlier books in a bundle deal.)

5- Do you have plans for a new series when Shia’s adventures are over?

I’ve got a couple of projects brewing in the background, but nothing else sold. I don’t want to talk up a series that might never see the light of day, but I do have some ideas for a few high fantasy and paranormal romance novels that I’ll be taking some time to work on as soon as I’m done with H&W book 6.

6- The summer solstice is the longest day of the year, thus the shortest night, are your characters celebrating it?

Shiarra is most likely counting her lucky stars since it means the fanged, bite-y things of the night are spending more time keeping very much to themselves. She’d probably celebrate with a stiff drink.

Sara (Shia’s business partner) and her boyfriend Arnold (a mage) are going to enjoy every minute of daylight together and most likely spend much of it at the beach or enjoying a party and barbecue.

Chaz the werewolf would be too busy looking for ways to get back into Shia’s good graces (ha!) to celebrate much.

Royce the vampire would be annoyed at the lack of time available to get any work done and how much business he’d likely be losing since his restaurants and nightclubs would have to open later/wouldn’t draw as many patrons without the actual vampires present to draw a crowd.

The White Hats (hunters of supernaturals) would be throwing a party to celebrate the shortest night of the year.

7- Have you ever celebrated midsummer? If not, do you wish to some day?

I haven’t done anything official, though I have gone to beach and pool parties to celebrate. Most of the crowd I hang with are pretty chill about that sort of thing now, so we don’t usually do much to pay any mind. It would be nice if that changed, but I don’t see it happening anytime soon with the way my friends’ schedules look these days. For myself, I’ll enjoy the extra sun, maybe go out for a walk, and toast the sunset with an eye for the changes to come…

Thanks again so much for having me! I hope you enjoy Forsaken by the Others!


Thank you so much Jess for stopping by ❤ It’s always such a pleasure to have you on board!

More about Forsaken by the Others:

Forsaken by the Others (H&W Investigations, #5)

The Others–vampires, werewolves, things that go chomp in the night–don’t just live in nightmares anymore. They’ve joined with he mortal world. And for private investigator Shiarra Waynest, that means mayhem…

Have a one night stand with a vampire, and you can end up paying for it for eternity. P.I. Shiarra Waynest, an expert on the Others, knows that better than most. Yet here she is, waking up beside charismatic vamp Alec Royce with an aching head…and neck. Luckily, Shia has the perfect excuse for getting out of town–namely, a couple of irate East Coast werewolf packs who’d like to turn her into a chew toy.

On Royce’s suggestion, Shia temporarily relocates to Los Angeles. But something is rotten–literally–in the state of California, where local vampires are being attacked by zombies. Who could be powerful enough to control them–and reckless enough to target the immortal? Following the trail will lead Shia to a terrifying truth, and to an ancient enemy with a personal grudge…

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Previous books in the series:

Hunted by the Others (H&W I...Taken by the Others (H&W In...Deceived by the Others (H&W...Stalking the Others (H&W In...Nocturnal 


Jess is offering 2 tour-wide giveaways!

Simply fill the forms below to be included 🙂


a Rafflecopter giveaway


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The author has over 6 years freelance experience in technical writing, editing and screenplays.  More recently, this repertoire has expanded to include short stories and a series of urban fantasy novels in progress.

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Forsaken by the Others by Jess Haines

Forsaken by the Others (H&W Investigations, #5)

Forsaken by the Others by Jess Haines

Book Stats:
Reading level: Adult
Genre: Urban fantasy
Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Zebra
Release date: July 2, 2013

Series: H&W Investigations #5

Source: NetGalley

Reviewed by: Tynga

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

The Others–vampires, werewolves, things that go chomp in the night–don’t just live in nightmares anymore. They’ve joined with he mortal world. And for private investigator Shiarra Waynest, that means mayhem…

Have a one night stand with a vampire, and you can end up paying for it for eternity. P.I. Shiarra Waynest, an expert on the Others, knows that better than most. Yet here she is, waking up beside charismatic vamp Alec Royce with an aching head…and neck. Luckily, Shia has the perfect excuse for getting out of town–namely, a couple of irate East Coast werewolf packs who’d like to turn her into a chew toy.

On Royce’s suggestion, Shia temporarily relocates to Los Angeles. But something is rotten–literally–in the state of California, where local vampires are being attacked by zombies. Who could be powerful enough to control them–and reckless enough to target the immortal? Following the trail will lead Shia to a terrifying truth, and to an ancient enemy with a personal grudge…

Trouble follows Shia around like a dog and its tail, and Forsaken by the Others is no exception. She just avoided turning into a werewolf (or did she really?) and found Royce for comfort. After getting what he craved since he met her, he has to let her go for her own safety. Did he really think she would be safer away though? I bet he didn’t foresee an army of walking dead!

First, let me say that this book was just as amazing as the previous ones and that fans of the series won’t be disappointed! There was a very drastic split at about 25% of the book, moment when Shia and Sara went away to LA, supposedly to stay safe. The first part is all about Royce and I was really surprised. If you remember, at the end of book 4, Shia finally gave in and had sex with Royce. Forsaken by the Others starts the next morning, when she has to face what she did. At first, she’s scared and distrustful and I was knocked off my chair by how easily she gave in to him in the end. By the time she leaves for LA, I’ll dare say she’s almost clingy. It felt really anticlimactic to what I’m used to from her, but it wasn’t bad either, I mean, they have been dancing around each other for four books already. I am really sold to Royce despite everything and I’m afraid to say he is practically absent from the rest of the book and I missed him.

Part two is all about Shia and her best friend Sara forced to investigate a case of zombie attacks against the vampire hosting them at his home. He is hiding things from them and the girls bit off more than they could chew. The action was non stop, Forsaken by the Others was a real page-turner. I was also really pleased to see old friends and heart-broken that Arnold is still not back on the roster. When will Arnold be back Jess? *begs on her knees*

The plot line was smooth and surprising and there’s a particular scene with zombies swarming the highway that particularly felt bigger than nature. Kudos Jess! The end was a real slap in the face and would’ve knocked me on my behind if I weren’t already sitting. I never expected it and I am that much more excited for book six. What will happen to Shia in the aftermath? Will she or will she not turn into a werewolf? Will she finally have a somewhat normal relationship with Royce. And more importantly, will we see Arnold again??? lol

I know the covers of the first books in the series aren’t particularly attractive, but this series is a serious case of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. H&W Investigation series is an amazing urban fantasy series and I am convinced fans of the genre will fall in love with its action and its characters. On a side note, Jess Haines is also made of awesome and I love her very much ❤


Spirit by Brigid Kemmerer

Spirit by Brigid KemmererSpirit by Brigid Kemmerer

Book stats:
Reading Level: Young Adult
Paperback: 301 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Kensington Teen
Release Date: May 28, 2013

Series: Elemental #3

Source: From Publisher for Review

Reviewed by: Lili

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

With power comes enemies. Lots of them.

Hunter Garrity just wants to be left alone. He’s learned the hard way that his unusual abilities come at a price. And he can’t seem to afford any allies.

He’s up to his neck in hostiles. His grandfather, spoiling for a fight. The Merrick brothers, who think he ratted them out. Calla, the scheming psycho who wants to use him as bait.

Then there’s Kate Sullivan, the new girl at school. She’s not hostile. She’s bold. Funny. Hot. But she’s got an agenda, too.

With supposedly secret powers rippling to the surface everywhere around him, Hunter knows something ugly is about to go down. But finding out what means he’ll have to find someone he can trust…

Brigid Kemmerer is back with the third book in her amazing Elementals series and she does not disappoint! I have to say that I was slightly worried going into this one because Hunter isn’t a Merrick brother, but the Merrick’s still played a large part in this one and Kemmerer took advantage of that and decided to steer this story in an entirely new direction.

And by that, I mean that this story was heartbreaking at times. Hunter’s misunderstood and trouble seems to follow him. He can never pick a side because he does love the family make-up of the Merricks, but being a Guide is in his blood. His family situation is falling apart, his life is out of control, and the girl he may have feelings for is a player. Let’s just say that it’s really easy to realize why he is perhaps the most complicated character in this series. While Gabriel is deliciously complex, Hunter is complicated in an intriguing way. His confusion and inability to trust people easily are explained in this one and I can honestly say that I don’t mind his issues anymore because they are so believable when put into situations such as he is.

But I have to say that the best part of this novel was the progression of certain characters…two in particular. Obviously, Hunter. Hunter’s storyline was taken on a really unconventional route that I never would have expected, so I applaud Kemmerer for taking a literary risk that ended up paying off. I can’t explain anything without ruining the plot line for you, but Calla’s back and she’s more aggravating and vile than ever and Hunter also has terrible luck with the ladies.

The biggest surprise in this novel was Michael Merrick. I really, truly love him now. He was inadvertently Hunter’s guiding light in times of need–showing up whenever necessary the way a true big brother and guardian should. And I started to love him for it. It’s making me extremely excited for Michael’s book, book five in this series, when book four has yet to be released! While I understand Hunter and pity him greatly, my love for him does not compare to my love of the Merrick brothers because I think that their struggles to survive and characterizations are absolutely delicious. They are among my favorite characters ever, and Michael has joined his three younger brothers because of this novel. I’d say Hunter is the perfect sidekick to the amazingness that is the Merrick brothers, but you can’t tell Hunter that or there’ll be an all out brawl. So despite the great characterization leap in him, he’s still somewhat the same!

In the end, the new direction that Kemmerer took in this one was well done. Both Chris and Gabriel’s book had a similar overall story arc though the process to getting to the end differed greatly. And if you read Kemmerer’s recent novella, BREATHLESS, Nick’s story is going to differ completely, but Hunter’s story was the perfect way to set this new plot progression of dropping bomb after bomb into motion. While I can’t say I loved it as much as Chris or Gabriel’s story, I greatly enjoyed this one and will definitely always be a loyal Kemmerer fan. I recommend this one to absolutely anyone who is willing to pick this series up, though the first two books must be picked up first.

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Blood and Magick by James R. Tuck

Blood and Magick by James R. Tuck Blood and Magick by James R. Tuck

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
Mass market paperback: 352 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Publisher: Kensington
Release date: March 5, 2013

Series: Deacon Chalk: Occult Bounty Hunter #3

Source: Review copy from Kensington

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Taking out hellish creatures—not a problem. Armed with blessed silver hollow-points and the ability to manipulate magick, he’s ready for anything—except betrayal he never saw coming…

Deacon Chalk knows the biggest danger in fighting monsters is becoming one. Just another day at the office for your friendly neighborhood occult bounty hunter. If keeping three helpless were-dog children safe means battling a malevolent trio of witches by any means necessary, so be it. If that means partnering with a ruthless government agent to stay one step ahead of the allies and friends he must now suspect, he’s not going to cry about it. The only way Deacon can save humans and shape-shifters alike is to embrace a power beyond his imagining, putting his team at stake—and his soul on the line…

Best Deacon Chalk story yet. Hands down. It may not have a tyrannosaurus but it rocks out like some totally awesome but obscure heavy metal star I would name if I knew anything about the genre. (I am in a silly mood as I write this post. Obvi.) The writing is solid, the plot is dynamic, and the pace is relentless. I couldn’t put it down. Those little things that I didn’t love in the previous books are gone and I was completely blown away by BLOOD AND MAGICK. It’s got the plotting and excitement of an action movie and I was positively thrilled by it.

In his third full-length outing, Deacon is facing down a trio of witches who are incredibly powerful and utterly ruthless, which forces him to dig deep to save the day. It’s the first time I really felt like Deacon could fail, which made BLOOD AND MAGICK so compelling. I had doubts about Deacon’s ability to survive his encounter with these baddies and those doubts kept me glued to the (virtual) page. Witches may be pretty standard fare in urban fantasy and paranormal romance but James R. Tuck has done a marvellous job of creating tough, smart villains who pose a significant threat to the entire universe. Kudos, Mr. Tuck!

I also really liked the introduction of the O.C.I.D., a government organization specializing in the occult. At first, I was worried it would have a total Men in Black vibe but the agent we meet reminded me more of characters we might see in a Justin Gustainis novel: he had a more serious mien and skills. The addition of the O.C.I.D. really opens up the world Tuck has created and the possibilities going forward are very exciting, particularly in light of the last chapter. (You’ll figure out what I mean when you get there, because I’m not going to spoil BLOOD AND MAGICK for you.)

There are also some lovely developments on a more personal level. We get some info about Father Mulcahy’s past (though his history is still tantalizingly mysterious) and we also get to see where Deacon and Tiff’s relationship is in the aftermath of the final battle in BLOOD AND SILVER, which I was very curious about. It’s been six months since poor Tiff got put through the wringer yet again and I love the fact that she doesn’t get too beaten down by life — at least not for very long. Fans of Larson and Kat will also see them get some nice page time as the relationships between Deacon and these two characters face some incredible obstacles. We see just how inflexible Deacon can be when it comes to the occult, and what that line in the sand costs him, which makes for some serious emotional punch. Tuck also gives us some really poignant moments involving Deacon and his dead family and now I finally feel like I get why he keeps thinking about them. (You may recall I complained about the repetitiveness of this aspect of Tuck’s debut, BLOOD AND BULLETS.) Now, the depth of his emotion really resonates with me.

BLOOD AND MAGICK is by far the best Deacon Chalk story so far and I can’t wait to see what Tuck has up his sleeve next. He’s always been a fantastic plotter but he’s really levelled up with this book in terms of the tension, action, and scope. If you’re on the fence about this series, make sure you hold out until this one. You’ll be a loyal and true believer for sure after finishing BLOOD AND MAGICK!

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Touched by Corrine Jackson

Touched by Corrine JacksonTouched by Corrine Jackson

Book stats:
Reading Level: Young Adult
ARC: 343 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Kensington Teen
Release date: November 27, 2012

Series: Sense Thieves #1

Source: From Publisher for Review

Reviewed by: Lili

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Remy O’Malley heals people with touch—but every injury she cures becomes her own. Living in a household with an abusive stepfather, she has healed untold numbers of broken bones, burns,and bruises. And then one night her stepfather goes too far.

Being sent to live with her estranged father offers a clean start and she is eager to take it. Enter Asher Blackwell. Once a Protector of Healers, Asher sacrificed his senses to become immortal. Only by killing a Healer can a Protector recover their human senses. Falling in love is against the rules between these two enemies. Because Remy has the power to make Protectors human again, and when they find out, they’ll be coming for her—if Asher doesn’t kill her first.

This is Book One in the Touched trilogy.

I admit, I was hesitant to start this book. The whole “magical powers enacted by touching people” idea has been done before many times in YA lit. I can think of at least two stories I’ve read already with similar concepts and another one that I know about just off the top of my head. But Jackson manages to tell such a unique intriguing story with one of the strongest heroines I’ve come across in a while. I can’t say I loved this one, but I greatly enjoyed it.

To begin, this book is not for everyone. There are many sequences of physical abuse that are pretty detailed. If violence makes you uncomfortable, this certainly isn’t the book for you. Remy’s stepfather, Dean, is an alcoholic. He feeds off of not only Remy’s pain, but her mother’s as well. And instead of allowing him to ruin her life, she allowed him to make her stronger. She wouldn’t break under him, despite the fact that he would break her bones because he was so maniacal. She became emotionally fortified and determined to survive–easily one of the toughest characters (both physically and emotionally) that I have found in a long time. I really enjoyed this aspect of Remy’s characterization because she wasn’t looking for sympathy and pity the way many abused characters do. While the abuse was a huge part of her life that caused her to create a huge shell around herself, when forced to face new situations she slowly opened herself to the possibility of a normal life with friends, family, and most of all, love. It’s safe to say I really, really like her.

But I have to say that the most interesting concept of this novel was her “super-power” and the lore that came hand-in-hand with her enemy. Remy has the ability to heal others by touching them. She simply has to picture their wound and the energy from her body will enter theirs to end their pain, but by doing so she will make their maladies her own. If she goes too far she can experience severe hypothermia and extreme pain that makes it seem as if she herself will die. I really loved the selflessness she exhibited at all times when helping others. And what I found even more interested was the concept of Protectors. They’re pretty much like superhuman ninjas because they’re fast, they’re immortal, they’re drop-dead gorgeous–but they can’t feel anything. The price of immortality? The loss of your senses. Whereas Healers like Remy feel too much, Protectors like Asher and his family feel too little.

While I must admit that Asher was a very great love interest because of his genuine concern, love, and care for Remy, I think that their story was very cliche in the beginning. It’s very new girl moves to town and is immediately fascinated by the town bad boy that is known for using girls so everyone she quickly befriends warns her off him immensely and she ignores everything they say. While I really liked the two of them, I was hoping such a unique story could avoid the cliche aspects of the plot line.

Full of one of the best cast of characters I’ve come across in a while, Jackson tells a story of selflessness and self-discovery with a really great and unique paranormal twist. If you’re looking for a unique romance with a perfect dash of paranormal abilities, this is a book that you will enjoy.

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Breathless by Brigid Kemmerer

Breathless by Brigid KemmererBreathless by Brigid Kemmerer

Book stats:
Reading Level: Young Adult
Ebook: 65 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Kensington Teen
Release date: April 30, 2013

Series: Elemental #2.5


Reviewed by: Lili

Purchase: Amazon

Too many secrets. Not enough time.

Nick Merrick is supposed to be the level-headed one. The peacemaker. Since it’s just him and his three hotheaded brothers against the world, that’s a survival tactic.

But now he’s got problems even his brothers can’t help him survive.

His so-called girlfriend, Quinn, is going quick as mercury from daring to crazy. Meanwhile, Quinn’s dancer friend Adam is throwing Nick off balance, forcing him to recognize a truth he’d rather shove back into the dark.

He can feel it—-the atmosphere is sizzling. Danger is on the way. But whatever happens next, Nick is starting to find out that sometimes nothing you do can keep the peace.

I am normally not a novella girl, but when I saw BREATHLESS on netgalley I knew I had to have it because Kemmerer’s Elementals series is among my favorites. When I was accepted this afternoon, I began to read immediately, and I was not disappointed! So much so, that I simply had to review it as soon as possible. Let’s just say Nick Merrick, the brother that controls the air, has me breathing deeply to calm myself down after that doozy of a 65 page short story.

It’s very hard to hate Nick. Out of all of his brothers, he’s the one that has everything figured out. He’s the level-headed one to in comparison to his twin brother Gabriel’s fiery passion. But, what we quickly learn from this novella, is that there’s a lot more turmoil in his mind than one would think. Told in both Quinn and Nick’s point of views, it has me craving book four in the Elemental series that releases in early 2014. My one complaint is that I wish more was told in Nick’s point of view. While this was a dual pov novella, I was antsy for Quinn’s drama-filled antics to end so that I could see what else happened with Nick because Kemmerer dropped the mother of all plot twists on us. All I’ll say in this regard is new couple alert!

I have to say that my favorite part of this novella was that we realized our normally logical and sane Merrick brother is full of his own type of fire. The character growth was incredible. While I enjoyed Chris’s story in STORM, Gabriel’s experiences depicted in SPARK is among my favorite stories to this day. I never thought that any of the Merrick brothers would compare to the fiery turmoil and intense passion that is Gabriel Merrick’s life until we got this first-time glimpse into his twin’s head. Kemmerer managed to open up an entire world of possibilities in a mere 65 pages full of immense character growth and the beginning of a life altering journey. Our walking SAT book that is trapped by circumstance and secretly craves some passion in his life turns out to be a character more complicated than I could have ever imagined.

While book three in the Elementals series promises to be amazing as always, I can’t help but will the currently unnamed book four to be released, like, yesterday. Nick’s story must continue. If you are anything like me and normally avoid novellas, I highly recommend picking this one up due to the implications it will have on Nick’s future story. Kemmerer is a force to be reckoned with among the young adult fantasy genre. With the ability to create deliciously complex characters, she’ll always leave you begging for more and will easily claim a spot on your must-buy list for life. I know she definitely has a spot on mine!

Read an Excerpt

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Grave Intentions by Lori Sjoberg

Grave Intentions by Lori Sjoberg Grave Intentions by Lori Sjoberg

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
E-book: 586 KB
Genre: Paranormal romance
Publisher: Kensington
Release date: January 3, 2013

Series: Grave #1

Source: Review copy from publisher via NetGalley

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon

He’s handsome, reliable, and punctual—the perfect gentleman when you want him to be. But this dream man is Death’s best agent—and now he’s got more than his soul to lose…

One act of mercy before dying was all it took to turn soldier David Anderson into a reaper—an immortal who guides souls-of-untimely-death into the afterlife. But the closer he gets to atoning for his mortal sin and finally escaping merciless Fate, the more he feels his own humanity slipping away for good. Until he encounters Sarah Griffith. This skeptical scientist can’t be influenced by his powers—even though she has an unsuspected talent for sensing the dead. And her honesty and irreverent sense of humor reignite his reason for living—and a passion he can’t afford to feel. Now Fate has summoned David to make a devastating last harvest. And he’ll break every hellishly-strict netherworld rule to save Sarah…and gamble on a choice even an immortal can’t win.

GRAVE INTENTIONS is a the beginnings of a paranormal romance series featuring grim reapers. It’s a cute book with likeable characters. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it but it didn’t work its way onto my love list because it’s a fairly standard paranormal romance.

In Lori Sjoberg’s world, dead folks become reapers when they have a debt to repay. David has been reaping since the Korean War and he’s lost most of the joy in his life, going through life fairly mechanically. He chafes at the rules he has to live by but dutifully does his job, reaping souls and overseeing a small group of reapers. Sarah is his next door neighbour, a scientist with an unpleasant work situation thanks to a harassing boss. They meet cute and begin a sweet romance that faces one main obstacle: David’s “career”.

I thought the two main characters were decent leads. They were very pleasant and compatible. I didn’t feel serious sparks between them but I think that was because they were both very vanilla. David’s very gentlemanly and honorable, Sarah is very smart and sweet, and they work well together but their romance didn’t leap off the page for me. It didn’t seem incredibly passionate or moving. And that is something of a problem for me in a paranormal romance. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t put off by it and I did like the book but I just didn’t have any strong feelings about it at the end. And I really want to feel something at the end of a story because it means I’ve been engaged by the characters, setting, and/or plot.

For me, GRAVE INTENTIONS is a definite library book. I don’t think I’ll read it again. My recommendation would be to check out the excerpt below and see if GRAVE INTENTIONS is a book for you. It’s a light and conventional paranormal romance that has all of the usual components and is a good choice if you’re looking for something light and fluffy to while away some time.

Read an excerpt