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Strong Women Characters

Under Her Skin (Shifter Shield Book 1)

“Some sons-a-bitches just need killing.” – Detective Daniel Moreland, Under Her Skin (Shifter Shield Book 1)

 

Lindi Parker couldn’t agree more. Some sons-a-bitches absolutely, positively needed killing. Like the father who kept coming into his little girl’s room at night – “He hurts me.” So, finally, she killed him. A ten-year-old girl killed her scum sucking pedophile father. Of course, as a counselor for the Child Advocacy and Protection Center, Lindi has seen horrific crime scenes, the horrors visited upon the most fragile, the most helpless among us. But this one? This one rocks her all the way to her core.

She isn’t alone.

“Solitude, isolation, are painful things and beyond human endurance.” – Jules Verne

Not that she hasn’t known love in her own life. Her adoptive family loves her with all their heart and soul. But understanding someone as ‘special’ as Lindi hasn’t always been easy. Especially when they thought that she was the only one of her kind. Now, not only has she found that others exist – they apparently all want her dead.

Well. That bites.

And hey! Look at that! They even have special people whose whole point in life is to track her down and murder her. Score!

Lucky her, huh?

Yes, this is a shapeshifter tale, with many of the same tropes as you would find in any other. But Margo Bond Collins steps outside the box in this one in ways both horrible and fascinating. And in doing so she writes a paranormal that leans heavily toward a blend of mystery and suspense that raises the bar to something beyond ‘just another paranormal.’

I enjoyed the book very much, and highly recommend it.

 

The Case of the Disappearing Blogger!

““No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”
― Gautama Buddha, Sayings Of Buddha

It is amazing to realize just how long it has been since I last published. As we all know, life has a tendency to get in the way of where we want our present and future to go. Instead, we are at times forced onto other, more winding paths, often into a bleak landscape we fear to tread.

Other times we must put our heads down and hook up to our own personal plow, digging the rows of life, planting crops we wish to one day reap. I can’t say all my rows are planted, but I can say that I am seeing my way through. It will require discipline to start up again, but I can’t tell you all how much I am looking forward to it.

I have been editing books by various authors, Susan Bliler and Michael Angel in particular. If you haven’t checked out their works, I highly recommend them. I have also been editing business manuscripts, as well as supporting COBRA client agents. COBRA is a continuing program which allows employees to continue their benefits after they leave their previous position until they are insured by another employer or health insurance plan. And yes, that does veer wildly away from my love of books, but you do what you can to retain a steady income, right? I have been given the opportunity to work with a publishing house to edit for them, and I am thrilled about it! I will still be soliciting books from Indie Authors, so if you have a book that needs a keen eye, my rates are good! (Hint Hint)

So. I will be posting reviews again, though not steadily I imagine – at least for a while. I have to ‘get my feet under me again’ and get organized, but I am working on it. Currently, I am reading Bad Magic: 10 Novels With Demons, Djinn, Werewolves, Vampires & Rogue Gods . . .”  if you haven’t picked it up yet, I can Highly Recommend it so far. I Have read Chosen The Djinn Wars: Book 1, and Dead Rising The Templar – Book 1 so far, and both were wonderful stories. I am getting ready to start Hidden Blade Soul Eaters #1. I wasn’t familiar with the first story, but I have added the series to my reading list. The second I had already read, as I am a big fan of Debra Dunbar, but that was the only one of the series I had read. Both of these series are going on my “to read” list. If you previously followed my blog you will know that I have widely ranged, very eclectic tastes in books, and a bad case of “Oooooooo! Shiny!!!” so series often drop by the wayside when I find a new toy.

The last anthology I just finished was From the Shadows: 13 Tales of Urban Fantasy, Witches, Werewolves, Magic, Romance, Shifters, Fae, Demons, Vampires, Dark Fantasy & More!  While I can’t say that I will love all the books in any one anthology (who does?) this one was, in a word, stunning. With eleven different authors offering thirteen stories (Annie Bellet offers The First Three!!! of her The Twenty-Sided Sorceress books!) there are plenty of stories here to please anyone with an interest in strong, well-developed female characters, males who don’t run over the top of them but stand by their sides, and storylines that grab your interest and hold it. While I discovered that I am not really a Dannika Dark fan based on the story in the anthology, that is simply a matter of taste, not a snark against the writer. To each her own.

As I have gotten more into reading again after a long drought, I have read books by a wide range of authors, from Margo Bond Collins’ Under Her Skin to Devon Monk’s Ordinary Magic series books one and two.

My favorite stand alone recently was Playing with Fire: A Magical Romantic Comedy (With A Body 

 

Count) by R.J. Blain. I adore R.J. anyway, and this start to a new series is a Hoot!

“You really are a one-track mind when you’re a unicorn.”

Yep. Get it. Read it. Review to follow 😉

Besides, it is free on Kindle Unlimited, and only $0.99 to purchase.

OH! And I read the first three of SM (Sara) Reine’s Preternatural Affairs Series (again!) and purchased the next three books in the series. If you haven’t read it, and you are fond of supernatural policing, this series is wonderful. I know I wouldn’t want to be a witch allergic to magic!

So, that is it for now. Reviews to follow. And if you need an editor or just a beta reader, be sure to drop me a line!

Hugs,

Leiah

 

Inquisitor (Witch & Wolf Book 2) by R J Blain

inquisitor“I have no idea what’s awaiting me, or what will happen when this all ends. For the moment I know this: there are sick people and they need curing.” ― Albert Camus, The Plague

“No one thinks of how much blood it costs.” – Dante Alighieri

“Can you please ask James to return to the lab?”
“I’m afraid that’s not possible, ma’am,”
“Why?
“He just locked himself in containment and started howling.” –
R. J. Blain, Inquisitor

When you are as old as Allison Victoria Mayfield Hanover, you realize that only are few things are truly immutable.  Blood and violence, horrors and hatred. And that one solid, totally immutable, truth of the universe: Everything eventually dies. Except, perhaps, for Victoria. Ah, but you see, someone wants, very much, to see Victoria dead. And they will do anything, kill anyone, to make sure that happens.

Which is a really crappy attitude when you realize who Victoria is. You see, she is the owner of Marrodin, one of the largest companies in the world. A company which goes out of its way to pay a hire those who have ‘special’ needs. You know the sort. Witches. Wolves. Single mothers.

Victoria is living in Atlanta as Allison Ferdinan these days, playing at being an accountant. Too bad money couldn’t buy me a life. Of course, sometimes what you wish for actually comes true – and too often in bad, very bad, awful sorts of ways. It started out as a simple favor for a client/friend, Mark. Let’s dress up and go to a party. You can be my fiancée!

Whoa. Hold the Phone!

Gack. Killing Mark in Central Park really probably isn’t the best idea. But what was a really Bad Idea? Yeah. You got it. Going to a Halloween party as the fake fiancée, only to find out that your fake mother-in-law-to-be is a real witch. No, I mean it. A Real. Witch. And if you want to drop the W and add a B, well, please feel free.

But the party isn’t the only thing wrong in Allison’s world. Pretty soon it seems the whole world is out to kill her. And when whoever it is that hunts her begins going after her employees, well, let’s just say that Allison/Victoria won’t let it stand.

Here’s a hint. Don’t tick off an ancient werewolf. You won’t like the outcome.

I loved this book so much I stayed up way too late into the early morning hours reading when I had to get up early the next morning. In fact, I liked it so much, I immediately downloaded the next one and started on it the next night. I am not saying there aren’t issues inherent in the writing. There are some continuity and relationship logic issues that were frustrating – but you all know how picky I am about that sort of thing. I still think you should at the very least pick it up on Kindle Unlimited for free the way I did. And I look forward to hearing what you think. This isn’t just another Paranormal – great character development, world building and a marked lack of the sort of sloppy writing that is so common in Urban Fantasy makes this series well worth the precious reading time if you like strong women characters. There are several between these pages!

About the Author

RJ Blain suffers from a Moleskine journal obsession, a pen fixation, and a terrible tendency to pun without warning.
When she isn’t playing pretend, she likes to think she’s a cartographer and a sumi-e painter. In reality, she herds cats and a husband, and obeys the commands of Tsu Dhi, the great warrior fish.
In her spare time, she daydreams about being a spy. Should that fail, her contingency plan involves tying her best of enemies to spinning wheels and quoting James Bond villains until she is satisfied.

Legal Wolf’s Mate by Eve Langlais

legallwolf“You’re my lawyer, or maybe not. I’m really beginning to rethink this whole idea.”

“Ah yes, because you’d rather take your chances with your public defenderre, who has advised you to what? Oh, that’s right, plead guilty.” – Eve Langlais – Legal Wolf’s Mate

Fabian Garoux absolutely, positively, without a doubt, is not a sucker for a sob story. No. Really. After all, he is an attorney . . . (Argh!!! Run Away! Run Away!!!!) But when the best friend who found you running around naked in the woods after you were changed against your will, (And ate a rabbit. Raw. Eww.) asks for your help, well, it is hard to say no. Especially when the guy who is apparently framing the ‘Damsel in Distress’ for murder is the very scumbag who turned you against your will!

After all, revenge really is best served up cold with a side of “Got’cha!”

Set-ups, betrayal, revenge, and the most deliciously wicked ending, evah! made “Legal Wolf’s Mate” an actual thrill ride rather than the formulaic Paranormal Romances that are so common today. Oh, and don’t forget the Bounty!

Megan starts out seeming like a downtrodden simpleton, and I pretty much went “Huh? Who wrote this again?!” but as the story progressed, she became more and more interesting. Then more interesting. Then . . . well, you are going to have to read it to figure things out!

I received this book from Eve Langlais in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

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Zadri: Dragons of Preor by Celia Kyle

32354464I have a confession. As much as I adore Celia Kyle, I had never read any of her Preor books. SciFi is just not really my thing. But given the opportunity, and having read another book not really in my genre (horror) and enjoying it, I decided to stretch my genre list. And of course, now I am kicking myself for not reading the others!

Celia has a way with words, a passion for “Happily Ever After” and a deft hand with a storyline. At first I wasn’t sure about the whole ‘you killed my mate and now you expect me to mate you’ arc. But, once again, Ceila does it well.

Delaney Cole is Queen of the country of “My Parents Are Psychos.” Yep, that’s right, I gracefully give up my throne to Delaney. Because, let me tell you – these people are awful. So, when poor Delaney finds herself knocked-up, (well, after a while, you really have to at least pretend you can be loved, right?) her parents send her running for her life. Literally. Straight into Preor Choosing Station Tau, in the hopes of finding a Preor mate. Who better to protect her and her child from evil than a dragon warrior?

But things don’t go as expected for Delaney – not even close, as a web of intrigue, danger, betrayal and pain builds around them that could cost her and her child their lives after all.

I should have known Celia’s world building would be awesome-it always is, after all-and of course her characters are as well rounded as always. Yes, I messed up not starting at book one, not because I was ‘lost’ in the storyline, but because this was just that good. So, Dragons of Preor, then The Ujal are now on my “Read ASAP” list!

I received this book from Ms. Kyle in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

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Made in Hell – Caith Morningstar Kicks Ass – Again!

Made In Hell (Urban Fantasy) by Celia KyleCan a half-demon, half-pixie/holy warrior/unicorn/Father Earth/werewolf (Yeah. Don’t ask.) not get just a little bit of peace and quiet? Just a little? I mean, Come ON People! She already saved the world. Twice, as a matter of fact, in the last couple of years. Can a girl not just enjoy her adopted Brownie son and her half-fallen angel boyfriend for a few bloody minutes before you all go messing things up? Again?

But nooooooo . . . You just have to go gettin’ all rowdy, joining a whacko cult, walking around like zombies (when you aren’t rutting like bunnies) and generally messing up Caith’s life.

Again.

Ugh.

It seems a couple of Caith’s old enemies are up to no good once again. Even if Uncle Lucifer did throw them into the very bowels of the deepest circle of Hell. Of course, if Uncle Dearest didn’t have his mind on the little demon spawn he planted in the brainless twit he just dumped at Caith’s front door, maybe she could have gotten things under control a little more easily?

Nah. No such luck.

Sigh.

That’s all bad enough. But when Caith’s little Bryony, Sam, and best friend Jezzie are endangered? Well, here’s a clue. Don’t. Piss off. The niece of the Morningstar. That will get you just all kinds of pain.

Caith Morningstar is one kick-ass beotch. You would expect her to be, taking into consideration who her mother is, but while she may have set Chicago on fire (Once! It was Just Once!) and maybe started a war (Or two. Maybe.), the influence of all five fathers makes her loyal, protective, and determined to keep Mouse Town, her family, and her friends, safe.

Ms. Celia has written another winner Urban Fantasy in “Made in Hell” I have no doubt you will love! Humor, pathos, love, hate – it’s all here, and all written in that unique Celia Kyle style.

I received “Made in Hell” from the author in exchange fo­r a realistic review. How Lucky am I?!?!

Forgery of the Phoenix is Here! Fantasy and Forensics, Book Five

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“The handwriting on the wall may be a forgery.” –  Ralph Hodgson

“Sometimes you trust someone who turns out not to be honest. There are a lot of things that happen in life that don’t turn out the way you’re given the impression that they will. And I think that’s all kind of a con. But I think we’ve probably all been hurt.” – Sigourney Weaver

Poor Dayna! Isn’t it enough that she has saved the land of Andeluvia over and over, and never gotten even a “Thank you” for her efforts? I mean, come ON guys! You beat a demon, save a couple of races, and keep warning the whole planet that a war, fought long ago, is heating up once more . . . and all she gets is laughed at!? Wow. Talk about disrespectful!

The Royal Court doesn’t listen. Life back home on Earth is going sideways faster than she can say “Great big gobs of greasy, grimy Griffin Poo!” What is a girl to do??? Oh, and don’t even get me started on the King! Not only does he only intermittently have Dayna’s back. Ohhh no! Since Dayna was given the rather dubious title of “Dame Chrissie” the costs for renovating her tower are going up. Who was to know that, when she turned down tenant farmers and lands, not wanting to be responsible for all that, she was also turning down the income that comes with it? And the King? Well, well well. Being the “Kingly” sort, in the “I’m broke and have to pay all these people, so I am going to stick it to Dame Chrissie” (Really. You honestly didn’t notice that certain parties were draining your treasury?! Sigh.) way, Dayna has been awarded the “Great Honor” of becoming the one and only member of the Order of the Weasel. Whaaa?!?!

Yep, the Order of the Weasel. Or, better known as The Order of the Welchers. Who happened to leave behind nearly a quarter million in debt. Which, of course, Dame Chrissie is expected to pay.

You gotta be kidding me!

And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the Phoenix who pops out of the fireplace during a meeting of the Royal Court is determined that Dame Chrissie shall save his whole species from extinction!

Can a girl not get a freakin’ Break?

Join Dayna and her friends, Grimshaw the Griffin, the Fayleene Protector of the Forest, and Galen the Centaur Wizard on their newest adventure, as they fight off the depredations of evil (If they can figure out what the “evil” is), and take on another wonderful, magical adventure!

If you like your fantasy with fun, you will LOVE Michael’s writing, especially the Fantasy and Forensics series, of which Forgery of the Phoenix is the fifth! And don’t forget to check out all the other books in the series. They are best read in order 😉 Enjoy!!!

Click here for the Series on Goodreads!

Click here for Michael Angel’s Website!!!

I work with Michael on his books. All thoughts are my own.

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Review: Vidalia: A ‘Not-Quite’ Vampire Love Story by Julia Mills

27232419“And what? Accidentally cuts off three fingers postmortem? ‘Oops, oh, no, my girlfriend just died! Clumsy me, in trying to perform CPR, I chopped off some fingers! Guess I’ll just take them with me…. Oh, darn, where did that middle finger go?” ― Barry Lyga, I Hunt Killers

(OK, Fine, FINE! The quote has nothing to do with the story line. But hey, it’s funny, right? Right? Oh well. It must just be me. Snort.)

After spending last night (and let’s face it – all morning as well before I fell over and finally slept) with a book filled with tension I wanted to

read something ‘light and fluffy’ to come down off the ‘high’ of having my eyes glued to the page all night. Julia Mills’ Vidalia: A ‘Not-Quite’ Vampire Love Story seemed right up my alley for a light read. I added the books to my tablet the other day after receiving a note from her that the books were now on KU to be read for free. Of course, ‘book’ is a bit too strong. This is a 13,000 word short, just right to read over my tea and bagel out on the porch (hooray… no snow today!)

Vidalia is the heiress to the Vidalia onion fortune, but she isn’t like any heiress I have had the pleasure to read before. A medical examiner in Buckhead Georgia, Vidalia is a true ‘Southern Lady’ through and through. Well, except for the fact that she is ‘not-quite’ a vampire. You see, her granddaddy was a philanderer, just like so many “Southern Gentlemen.” (Cough.) Of course, he should have kept it in his pants instead of sticking it into a thousand year old gypsy/vampire saloon dancer. Oops. Being cursed as a vampire (who can’t grow fangs, hence the ‘not-quite’ in the title) is rather embarrassing for a genteel Southern lady, but hey, she is living with it quite nicely overall, especially with her handsome cop (vampire) boyfriend hanging around. Until the bodies start dropping (literally) from high-rises, drained of blood and with their throats slit.

The story is quick, often humorous, and I truly liked Vidalia. A quick, relaxing, fun read that was just the ticket over breakfast!

 

Review: Tangle of Thornes by Lorel Clayton

27231426“People speak sometimes about the “bestial” cruelty of man, but that is terribly unjust and offensive to beasts, no animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“She had to learn that the day granted hope and happiness, but I stole it. She had to face that the night hid evil and darkness, but my soul was blacker.” ― Pepper Winters, Debt Inheritance

Eva Thorne was born to be a monster, in a country of monsters. The Solhans are a “whole different category of human. One that most other races tended to hate.” Well, you can’t really blame them. Solhans glory in cruelty, dark magic, and buckets and buckets of blood – as long as it isn’t their own. Then, well, the Solhans opened a bit of dark magic that brought back their Dead God. And as a group that worships cruelty and death, their Dead God shouldn’t have been a surprise when he started slaughtering the very Solhans who worshiped him – along with half the rest of the world.

So, they became refugees, fleeing to other countries to escape the very God they were so gleeful to have brought back. Eva’s own family, the rich and massively powerful Thornes, found themselves in the Avian/Elf/Gnome controlled city of Highcrowne, the most ‘civilized’ place in the known world. Well, except for the fact that humans, like Eva, are pushed into the Outskirts, the dark garbage heap at the foot of the fabled city on the hill. Oh, and don’t forget that humans are also the slave labor that keeps Highcrowne’s very SteamPunk society running. Magic and machines, machines and magic. I loved it.

Eva’s family brought its power and dark magic with them when they came. They now rule over the Outskirts, wallowing in power, their hands in every evil, and yes, profitable, industry ripe for the picking. But Eva is determined, from a very young age, not to become what her family is – what her identical twin so easily became. So, she walks away, working in a café and living in a tiny apartment. She may not be rich, she may not be powerful, but above all? Eva is determined to keep her soul as her own.

Then her brother, the one ‘good’ person in her life, is murdered, his heart ripped out and taken away. Soul magic. And unless Eva can find his killer, and hopefully find his heart, Viktor’s soul will forever be captured and used for unknown, but certainly purely evil, purposes. Surrounded by family, who want to turn her to their Solhan ways (well, except for her twin, who just wants her to suffer greatly before slaughtering her), and a variety of human, gnomish, and ‘other’ people hanging around her and offering to ‘help’ for reasons of their own, Eva’s story is harsh, brutal, and obsessively readable. Finding her brother’s killer is going to be hard enough. But keeping her soul intact? That may be impossible.

I picked Tangle of Thornes up for free on May first and sat down this afternoon after wearing myself out with gardening (it was warm today, Yea!!). It is midnight now and I just finished the book. I hadn’t read the description (see what a good cover can do? It caught my eye and I opened it on my eReader) but I also wanted something by an author I hadn’t read before that had a female lead, and I picked it up. The first paragraph caught my attention, then I was all in.

“I’ve read a few of those hard-boiled detective novels. You know, The Maltese Griffin, Murder on the Troll Road … the classics. But none of them ever mentioned the smell. Mr. Hylar, my last hope, smelled like old sweat mixed with fermented stomach contents, some of which stained his shirt collar. City elves were like their country cousins: filthy.”

OK, THIS I can get behind! No tall, willowy Elves with long, shiny locks blowing in a magical breeze? Something Different! Whoot!

The second book in the series is A Thorne for a Crown. 28280519I won’t read the description of this one either, I will just wade right in. I don’t watch the “what’s happening next” at the end of a show I am watching either – I would rather watch it than have it described to me, so I will do the same here. I had to slap my own hand to keep myself from punching the “Read For Free” button when it popped up at the end, but I will wait or I will be up the rest of the night and into the morning!

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