Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Skin Deep (Paranormal Detective Series #6) by Lily Luchesi

This review was written by: B and C
Received: Ebook from Author
Publication Date of Book: June 12, 2018
Pages: 153 (Kindle)
Stars: 4.5/5

Official Summary:

The animal inside wants to come out and play.

Skin changers are able to look like anyone of any race and gender, which makes them the most dangerous criminals in the paranormal community.  Only one person in modern history has ever successfully captured and executed one.

When a skin changer starts attacking government workers in Chicago, they have no choice but to call in their last resort.  However, their solution might create even more danger for the city and its people.  What does the skin changer want, and how does it fit into a possible Undead uprising?

Our Thoughts:

There are no words that even begin to encapsulate how excited we are to jump back into the Paranormal Detective Series with each and every installment or how much we've come to love them even as the years continue on.  It's a series that is difficult to tire from but instead remains engaging and quite possibly even more gory than the ones that came before!  Luchesi's PID novels are ones that we plan on rereading over and over again (especially book 4 - oh, the feels are somehow still fresh from that one!).  Each round leaves us recognizing character cameos and other fun tidbits that make these books so enjoyable.  

Luchesi's characters are not only entertaining, but they are also deep and complex, which strengthens the plot and makes these stories so hard to put down.  They're gritty, dark, and redeemable - what better combination is there?  Plus, the author incorporates great LGBTQ+ representation, which makes us even more excited to share these books with paranormal lovers and stand by this author who never ceases to capture our imaginations and hearts.

Avid fans will be delighted to see the glorious power couple that is Angelica and Danny, alongside various references to fandoms like Sailor Moon and more.  However, Luchesi does an excellent job of moving the story along with explanations for those who are perhaps new to the story or need refreshers so that the reading experience is not hindered by confusion or memory loss (which is not always done by authors, resulting in frustrating befuddlement when trying to enjoy an otherwise great quality book).  Thus, those familiar with the PID world and those who are given the pleasure to just discover it will be able to follow along.

Skin Deep was, like all other Lily Luchesi novels and short stories, beyond amazing, and January 2018 cannot come soon enough.  This is an author who will only continue to (...cue Hamilton soundtrack...) "Blow us all away!"

Get excited for our review of Skin Deep (Paranormal
Detectives #6) by Lily Luchesi up 6/13/2018!

Skin Deep by Lily Luchesi Release Blitz

The animal inside wants to come out and play.
Skin changers are able to look like anyone of any race and gender, which makes them the most dangerous criminals in the paranormal community. Only one person in modern history has ever successfully captured and executed one.
When a skin changer starts attacking government workers in Chicago, they have no choice but to call in their last resort. However, their solution might create even more danger for the city and its people. What does the skin changer want, and how does it fit into a possible Undead uprising?

Coming June 12th from USA Today bestselling author Lily Luchesi
Published by Vamptasy Publishing
Cover design by Rue Volley
Edited by EAL Editing Services


Lily Luchesi is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of the Paranormal Detectives Series, published by Vamptasy Publishing. She also has short stories included in multiple bestselling anthologies, and a successful dark erotica retelling of Dracula.
She is also the editor, curator and contributing author of Vamptasy Publishing's Damsels of Distress anthology, which celebrates strong female characters in horror and paranormal fiction.
She was born in Chicago, Illinois, and now resides in Los Angeles, California. Ever since she was a toddler her mother noticed her tendency for being interested in all things "dark". At two she became infatuated with vampires and ghosts, and that infatuation turned into a lifestyle. She is also an out member of the LGBT+ community. When she's not writing, she's going to rock concerts, getting tattooed, watching the CW, or reading manga. And drinking copious amounts of coffee.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Evading the Dark (The Cross Chronicles #1) by E.M. Rinaldi

This review was written by: C
Received: Ebook from author
Stars: 4/5

Official Summary:

High school sucks. It doesn’t matter who you ask; jock, cheerleader, computer nerd, or band geek, they will all say the same thing: It’s a nightmare. But Casey is still wondering how she got the short end of the stick. Just a Sophomore at the prestigious Luthos Academy for Magical Beings, Casey already knows more about heartache and fear than any almost-sixteen-year-old should. Orphaned and left to be raised by the Academy, she spends her days training to become a Guardian, but that dream is looking dimmer with every day that passes.Unlike the wand-waving heroines in all her favorite books, Witches in her world don’t cast spells, they are born wielding the power of nature: water, fire, earth, or air; powers Casey never developed. She’ll be lucky if they even allow her to take her final exams.

She is top of her training class, but that doesn’t keep her from being looked down upon by every other being at her school. All Casey wants is to be given a chance, instead she finds the only life she’s ever known targeted by an unfathomable evil. Thrust into the center of an age-old prophecy, a war is coming with Casey at the reins.

Will relying on her hard earned training be enough for her to make it out alive?

My Thoughts:

Okay, so I'm going to admit that I do have a slight problem reading ebooks. I don't know about anyone else out there, but for some reason, ebooks often detract from my reading experience. They take me a lot longer to read and I often get distracted. Reading a book on my laptop or iPad just doesn't feel the same as reading a physical book -- I especially miss the flipping of pages, the fresh smell of paper, and just holding the story in my hands.  Then again, it could just be my vehement disdain for constantly having to read articles, science journals, and many other electronic resources for college. It kind of sucks to feel this way, as digital books are such a great way for new authors to enter the writing scene and it provides a much more economic platform to distribute books to audiences.  Anyway, I often wonder if my preferment of actual books sometimes detracts from my enjoyment of ebooks. Nonetheless, I think I've finally found an ebook that has broken my recent string of digital book woes and holy sh*t, was this book good.

When I initially began to read Evading the Dark, I was definitely deep in my ebook reading slump, but after about 10 to 15 pages, I really began to enjoy it. As mentioned before, I don't usually feel this way with ebooks, but Rinaldi just has a certain jena se qua to her writing that made me want to read more.

First of all, the story follows Casey Cross, the descendant of a powerful Witch bloodline. However, the catch is that she hasn't displayed any signs of magical abilities. Thus, she's the social outcast of Luthos Academy and the student that everyone likes to screw with. I have to say that Rinaldi had a pretty accurate depiction of what my high school career was like -- tons of bullies and no individual in authority wanting to admit that sh*t was going down. Needless to say, I could identify with Casey and her situation and all the crap that can get thrown at someone just because they're not like every other sheep in the herd. Besides, I think that one of my favorite childhood witches sums up this situation pretty well:

Anywho, Casey also has a fabulous best friend named Cedric. And I must admit, this was the first thing that came to mind when this name was mentioned -- good ol' Cedric Diggory :

(Aahhh...the very beginning of Robert Pattinson's acting career. You'll be seeing more of him later.)

I just loved the banter between the two. It was witty and humorous. And you've all gotta know by now that I'm a true sucker for smart-ass character banter. This is just a little taste of what you can find in Evading the Dark:

He blew out a breath and walked over to the little window. He seemed focused, and I could tell that he was throwing everything that happened today around in his mind. After a few tense minutes he spoke, “I think you should listen to this feeling and pay attention to it if it gets stronger. Until we get to the bottom of this, it’s safer to listen to all of our instincts. And don’t go in the woods alone.”

“Okay.” I agreed, “that sounds smart.”

His infamous smirk slowly formed on his face. “I have nothing if not genius ideas.”

 I also love the fact that Rinaldi makes some pop culture references. This book does involve vampires. And everyone knows by now that you can't involve vampires in a book in this day and age without bringing up Twilight -- it's just not possible. Plus, Rinaldi uses the killer scary kind:

"The Normal world has a very twisted view of these creatures, but we know the truth. They do not fall in love with human females and save them, like princes to some damsel in distress. They have no issue being in the sun, and they sure as hell don’t sparkle in it—I would love to know what they think of that— and they are not capable of love or gooey feelings they are portrayed with in the norm."

(Told you he'd be back.)

(It gets me every time.)

All jokes aside, Casey was just a character that I truly connected with. The book is told using a first person perspective and her inner monologue and thoughts were things that I really enjoyed reading. I also didn't mind how Rinaldi often when back and forth between the past and present to fill in or bring light to important details in Casey's past. I guess what I'm ultimately saying is that Casey was a believable teenage character and that's what drew me in. She also stole a special place in my heart with this:

"Due to the awkward shaping of the roof, my room supported a small, pushed out niche that was lined floor to ceiling with bookshelves that housed my mini library. These books were my gateway to another world when mine wasn’t being so nice.

Aside from me gushing over Casey's love of books and great personality, she's a strong female protagonist who can stand her ground when facing odds that aren't exactly in her favor. Additionally, I felt that the pace of the plot was pretty solid and events didn't happen too quickly or at a snail's pace -- it was just right. 

Also, just a heads-up....there is a cliffhanger.

Thus, I can't wait to read the next book! And, I will add that I hope to buy a physical copy of this book in the future. I shall save a spot on my shelf for one of my new favorite reads.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Behind the Lights (Social Sinners #1) by T.L. Travis


This review was written by: B
Received: Ebook from Author
Publication Date of Book: June 9, 2018
Pages: 172 (Kindle Edition)
Stars: 3.75

Official Summary:

Joey Hayes and his best friend Ricky Branson have been together through the good times, as well as the bad. Attending their first concert as teens set the path for their futures in motion.  Shortly after, the pair joined band class where they meet Ethan and Mick and the foursome formed the metal band, Social Sinners.

Things were going according to plan until Lucas Shane entered their lives, disrupting the flow and testing the strength of their friendship.

When Joey spirals down a dark path after catching his cheating boyfriend, this tasked the other three band members with making a difficult decision that could end his career as their lead singer.

My Thoughts:

While some people hate most tropes, I'm a sucker for quite a few. One of them is the friends to lovers trope, which I could read about all day long, and this book sounded like it was right up that ally in terms of it harboring this potential. Thus, I was extremely excited when the author reached out, especially because M/M romance is one of my favorite genres.  (Plus, I LOVE this cover.)

The first thing you should know about this book is that a significant portion of it is seeing Joey and Ricky "Stoli" grow up from childhood to adulthood.  I wasn't expecting this mostly due to the blurb, but I'm in no way complaining.  I loved seeing how their dynamic was formed, what they meant to each other, and everything they went through - both the good and the bad - that made them who they were as individuals, band members, best friends, etc.  Without their backstories, it would have been extremely difficult to connect with them on an emotional level and understand where they were coming from.  Additionally, I realize that some people did not especially enjoy the author's descriptions throughout the childhood portion, particularly seeing them as boring and unnecessary (which I respect and understand), but personally I found them to be significant to the story (whether it was because it highlighted a bonding moment or something that grounded the characters that would eventually remind them of home) - the author wrote with deliberate purpose, which I'm a fan of. 

The dynamic of the members in the band Social Sinners was definitely one of my favorite parts of the novel.  I've gotten the pleasure of reading short stories from Travis but nothing of this length, which allowed for her to develop her characters and truly allow the audience to understand the deep connection the four men (Joey, Stoli, Micky, and Diamond) have been able to form by the end of the first installment to this series, and how they react to trials and tribulations.  Their brotherly camaraderie was inspiring as they built a family that wasn't blood related, placing an importance on how "Family didn't need blood to form a bond, it only needs to have a heart."  I don't think I've ever found an author who summed up one of my beliefs so perfectly!  The love this group had for each other was a true treat to read and one I won't soon forget.  The father-son and mother-son dynamics were wonderful as well!  There's something so intriguing to me about family relations that gets me every single time, and these ones were so endearing and heartfelt that I have to give Travis props. 

I also thoroughly enjoyed what music meant to the characters and the passion they possessed for it.  While I don't necessarily often listen to the genre of music this book focuses on, I can certainly appreciate the power of music, the creativity it allows for, and the way it can bring people together.  However, the music and band's formation and camaraderie seemed to be slightly more focused on compared to the romance portion of the novel (especially in the case of Joey figuring out where his heart was at), which I was not anticipating.  However, this was another aspect that I didn't mind - the plot was intriguing enough for me to wait and find out what would happen in the love department.  The characters kept me going, and the band's journey made me invested regardless of the level of romance.

The only thing I was slightly confused with was why Joey was in a relationship with Lucas.  The instant physical attraction was understandable and undoubtedly a factor.  Plus, as a reader I could wholeheartedly sense that Joey was invested in Lucas as a person, but there was no distinct reason as to why this was in terms of personality or compatibility.  They simply were a thing, but there was little in terms of how the emotional depth Joey invested in Lucas came about.  Perhaps it was because Joey was comfortable with the dynamic, but it was difficult for me to comprehend why he was so into his boyfriend, and it would have been interesting to see how Joey got to this point.  (However, I was on team Throw Lucas to the Curb!)

In terms of the ending, I LOVED it.  The way it came full circle with the opening chapter, and eventually Joey's realization allowed me to breath again.  I had anxiety throughout this whole book waiting for that final moment!  And I was not disappointed!!!  (Joey could have been a bit quicker at picking up the hints someone was putting down, but I'm sure Travis was trying to show how their love was getting established before continuing on with the series.  Plus, some people are sometimes slow at picking up on vibes.  PSA: This fact is not a myth.)  All I can say is that I hope there's a lot more of Joey and his significant other in the books to come because I want more of them!!!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

June Book Theme: Boy Meets Boy

This June we've decided to take our love for LGBTQ+ characters and read and review books that possess either a main or prominent side male character that identifies as gay. We're diving into a multitude of genres -- YA, erotica, BDSM, etc. and will be sharing our experiences with these books. Disclaimer: This event is inspired by the book review blog of the same name -- Boy Meets Boy

Here are some reviews to look forward to:

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Saturday, June 2, 2018

Abby and the Mystic Dancers by L.C. Miller

This review was written by: C
Received: ARC from Author
Stars: 3.5/5

Official Summary: 

As the product of a forbidden alliance between the elemental Mystics and the wand carrying Wielders -- two distinct, often feuding, magical realms -- acceptance is something fourteen-year-old Abby has fought with for the last four years. When an alliance is formed between the Mystic Dancers and the Wielders, Abby is given the chance to live with a Wielder's family and attend Wielder's Academy of Magical Arts. In order to do so, she first has to make three promises to the Mystic Dancers leader...Tell no one she's half Mystic, that her father is a Wielder who also a wanted criminal, or that she can transform into anything she wants. 

Her day-to-day life of secrets, school work, and dancing is interrupted when her mother's murder case goes to trial The Mystics believe they finally caught the killer, who happens to be the father of one of Abby's new friends. Abby has a choice to make -- reveal her secrets, or let a man she knows is innocent go to prison.

My Thoughts:

To give just a bit more information about the book: Abby isn't having the best of luck. She's stuck living with a very cranky foster mother by the name of Eleanor Rable who views her as nothing more than free labor. She's also a child of an "unholy" union between a female Mystic and male Wielder. Thus, neither group will ever fully accept her. However, everything changes when Rable's cousin's family arrives -- Sarah and Jackson Herrin,  their sons Ethan and Brannon, and Ethan's friend Aaron.

It becomes evident that Sarah and her family aren't exactly normal, especially when Sarah saves Bombers, Abby's pet snake, by seemingly magically snatching a broom from Rable. The deal is sealed when Abby overhears that they're searching for the Mystics. It soon comes to light that the Herrins are Wielders and through a turn of events, Abby's Wielder abilities are witnessed by the family. Hence, they offer her a chance to live with them and attend WAMA (Wielders Academy of Magical Arts).

Abby jumps at the chance to live with people like her and things seem to be looking up for her. However, Abby still has to hide many secrets, like the fact that she's half Mystic and an Unrestricted -- an individual who's capable of turning into just about anything they want to. Additionally, many Wielders believe her father is a murderer, which she knows isn't true.

Now that I've got the basic summary of the book outlined, I want to first discuss the magic system. I love the fact that the magic in this world is split into two types -- Wielders and Mystics. Anyone labeled a Mystic uses magic that deals with elements and nature and Wielders use wands and, according to the Mystics, dabble in uncharted magic.

The wands all seem pretty interesting as well -- they're definitely more colorful and unique than those of the Harry Potter universe. Anywho, the two groups have a long history and don't seem to mingle well, as the Mystics do not approve of the type of magic that the Wielders use.  

I love reading books involving magical schools -- The Novice, Earthsea Cycle, The Magicians, etc. However, I especially treasure books with aspects similar to that of Harry Potter. It's always interesting to see how authors are inspired by previous works and utilize different aspects of it to create a new and unique novel. In this regard, WAMA reminded me a bit of Hogwarts. The descriptions of the school were magnificent, and I liked the fact that the students got sorted into various houses: Sea Serpents, the Firebirds, the Earth Dragons, the Stone Leprechauns, and the Sky Griffons.  I also enjoyed the mention of mermen and mermaids swimming under glass floors of the building (this was such a tiny detail, but I thought it was pretty cool. What can I say? I love me my merpeople!). 

One of my only qualms about the book was that some moments felt a bit like information was being added too fast. However, you learn a lot of things as Abby does, so it makes sense that quite a bit of the rules and explanations of the workings of magic would be explained in this way. 

I don't want to give too much of the plot away or reveal any spoilers, so I just want to say that this is definitely a worthy read. It's full of magic, friendship, adventure, and a wonderful female protagonist. It's a tale of exploring who you are and finding those who accept you. So, sit back and enjoy the ride.

If you enjoyed this book, you may also like:

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