Ramblings of an Avid Reader

I'm a QUILTBAG reader, writer, and book hoarder.i've got a passion for the unknown, and studied Religion, Nursing, Philosophy, and Psychology in University. I run a small company making decadent bath & body products. 2 Wyrd Sisters is the place to start spoiling yourself and others. I'm a reviewer at Net Galley, and a writer at Pop Culture Beast.

Professional Reader

Reviews Published

Isis Orb

Isis Orb (The Xanth Novels) - Piers Anthony

Isis Orb, the 40th installment in Piers Anthony's wildly successful Xanth series, is a comfort novel. Filled with the types of characters and puns we've all grown to love, Isis Orb is like a warm hug from an old friend.


It is a story Anthony has told several times, that of a bit of a bumbler who has a wish, who goes to visit the Good Magician, and sets out on a quest. It's a tried and true plot for Anthony, but it holds up to the the new characters and situations. With characters like Cylla Cybin, who has the power of causing hallucinations (Psilocybin, a chemical that causes hallucinations), to Faro Heights, a winged centaur who is afraid to fly, Anthony doesn't disappoint his readers.


The story focuses on Hapless and his party trying to take a magical orb from Isis. Yes, that Isis, the Egyptian Goddess. They meet interesting characters along their way, driven by Hapless and his magic box. The box is a reminder to him to "think outside the box", which he does in order to meet the other five members of his party. Each party member is introduces separately, which gives readers a chance to get to know each new member before the next one arrives, which is nice. The confrontation with Isis was rather interesting. Rather than direct confrontation, the encounter took an educational bent, allowing the reader to see a side of a mis-remembered deity. 


The puns are plentiful, as anyone who has read an Xanth novel will tell you. This is no different. There are ones that will make you groan, and ones that will give you a moment's pause until you decipher what it is. And the "Adult Conspiracy" is alive and well here too. The Adult Conspiracy is a natural feature in Xanth to "protect" all characters under the age of 18 from "knowledge that could being them great harm". It's another continuing theme in all the Xanth books.  


It's another Xanth novel, one that I highly enjoyed reading, and that will get talked about and passed around in some circles. I've been a fan of them since the mid 80's, so picking up Isis Orb wasn't a stretch, it was a bit of a comfort back to my formative years of just starting to read fantasy novels. It's not the best Xanth I've read, it's not the worst either. It's fun, it's entertaining, it reads fast, and it'll make you smile and groan. Give it a shot, it's a fun little story.



Isis Orb
Piers Anthony
Series: The Xanth Novels
Paperback: 300 pages
Publisher: Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy (October 18, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 150403631X
ISBN-13: 978-1504036313


In the interest of disclosure, I was provided an ARC by the publisher.

The Next

The Next: a novel of love, revenge and a ghost who can't let go - Stephanie Gangi

The Next is the debut novel by Stephanie Gangi. The tagline is "A novel of love, revenge, and a ghost who can't let go", which sums up the book quite thoroughly. Joanna DeAngelis is on her deathbed. Literally. The book opens just before Joanna passes, and has her stalking her ex on social media. He has a new life now. A new girlfriend who is super famous, and also happens to be expecting his baby. Something Joanna couldn't do.


Joanna eventually passes, a few chapters into the book. She finds out that because she's got some unfinished business, she doesn't get to move on, but rather gets sent back to earth as a ghost. Which is where things start to get marginally better.


Joanna attends her own funeral, and watched how her daughters begin to grieve. She also visits her ex, who goes back to the apartment he shared with Joanna. And she has a few not so nice surprises in store for him. 


The rest of the book chronicles Joanna's obsession with trying to ruin her ex's new life, and continue to check in on her daughters to see how they are coping. 


I can't say that I enjoyed The Next, it jumped location and tone so frequently that it was tough to keep up with, and made me put the book down several times. Which then required re-reading the chapter before so I could figure out where the POV was. Nothing particularly stands out about the book that is positive, but nothing negative stands out either. It was just kinda "there". But, just because the book didn't appeal to me, doesn't mean that the next person won't enjoy it. There are great reviews for it, so I know there is a huge audience that it will really enjoy it. Unfortunately, I wasn't one of those people.


The Next
Stephanie Gangi
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (October 18, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1250110564
ISBN-13: 978-1250110565


In the interest of disclosure, I did receive an ARC of this book from the publisher.

The Ferryman Institute

The Ferryman Institute: A Novel - Colin Gigl

The Ferryman Institute is the debut novel by Colin Gigl. And a fine debut it is. Very much in the vein of Jasper Fford and Christopher Moore, containing dry wit, tongue in cheek humor, and a liberal splash of sarcasm.


Ferryman Charles Dawson is very good at his job of helping the souls of the recently departed go to what is beyond. About 250 years good at his job. He's never lost a soul, he's jumped into emergency intervention, and is sick of it. He's immortal, and as such, all he can do is continue to do his job. 


Until the night when he gets a sealed envelope from the president of the Institute. It's a short directive, but one that changes the course of Charlie's career irreparably. He is then sent to the bedroom of Alice Spiegel, who is planning on shooting herself momentarily. And at that moment Charlie knows this is the chance he's been waiting for. 


Saving Alice, on the run from the Inspector General of the Institute, and coming to terms with what he's going to do with the rest of his "life" keeps Charlie busy. The story is filled with snappy remarks between Charlie and Alice, enough to keep them going through situations that get more and more improbable. There are some predictable plot twists, but the tone of the story makes up for it.


For fans especially of Jasper Fforde, you'll really enjoy the book. It's got a similar fantastic world layered on top of the world we know exists, and slipping between those worlds can bring some serious satisfaction. I highly recommend the book, and fans of snarky humor, semi-supernatural stories, medium fantasy, and both YA and adult readers will find it at home on their bookshelves.


The Ferryman Institute
Colin Gigl
Publisher: Gallery Books (September 27, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 150112532X
ISBN-13: 978-1501125324


I was provided an ARC of this book, in the interest of disclosure.


Possessed: The Infamous Texas Stiletto Murder - Kathryn Casey

Possessed, The Infamous Texas Stiletto Murder is the  latest work by True Crime author Kathryn Casey. Mx. Casey has written a number of True Crime books, and Possessed is yet another gripping, gritty case.


Early in the morning of 09 June 1993, Houston police responded to a 911 call. The first officer on the scene was taken aback at what he saw. Stefan Andersson was lying in a pool of drying blood, the victim of some terrible attack. The only other person there was his girlfriend Ana Trujillo. 


Possessed gives us a comprehensive look into the past of both Stefan and Ana. Describing their childhoods, and focusing mostly on the last 10ish years of their lives. Stefan was a professor and researcher at the University of Texas, and Ana was usually out of jobs, relying on the men in her life to support her. And Stefan was a brilliant mark for Ana.


The book gives a quite detailed look at what happened the last six months that Stefan and Ana were together, disclosing their fights, their drinking problems, and Ana's continuing spiral into the spiritual practices that she'd cobbled together from a number of other practices. Stefan is painted as the victim, not only because he was the person murdered, but because of his lifestyle. He was, according to friends and family, a generous, caring human. Ana on the other hand was portrayed by her friends and family as manipulative and always twisting events in her life to portray herself as the wronged party, as the victim.


A fair portion of the book is dedicated to Ana's murder trial, where she did not testify on her behalf, but rather her attorneys played the police interview from the night of the murder. The rambling interview and history given by Ana Trujillo's friends and family seemed to seal her fate. After only a few hours deliberation, the jury reached a decision of Ana being guilty of Stefan's murder. On 11 April 1994, Ana Trujillo was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Stefan Andersson.


Possessed is a solid book, and it's very clear that Mx. Casey was an ardent fan of Ann Rule, as her books are written in much the same style. Clear, filled with enough detail to describe events, but not over filled as to bog down the book. I'd recommend Possessed to fans of true crime, of murders, of Ann Rule, or of biographies/memoirs. Solid book, and well worth the time to read it.


Possessed, the Infamous Texas Stiletto Murder

Kathryn Casey

Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (September 27, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062300512
ISBN-13: 978-0062300515


In the interest of disclosure, I was given a copy of this book by the publisher.

Wicked Path Media Blitz!

Wicked Path - Eliza Tilton

Title: Wicked Path

Author: Eliza Tilton

Genre: YA Fantasy

Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR




In Wicked Path: Book Two of the Daath Chronicles brother and sister are forced to opposite sides of Tarrtainya on a fast-paced adventure where the wildlife isn't the only thing trying to kill them.


Three months have passed since Avikar defeated the Reptilian Prince, and he still can't remember his battle with Lucino. On the hunt for answers, he returns to the scene of the fight and discovers a strange connection between his family's dagger and the mysterious kingdom of Daath, and it seems only his distant father can reveal the truth behind it all.


Before Avikar can travel back home, Lucy assaults him in the market and forces him to flee to Nod Mountains--a place few dare to enter, and even less return from. With Raven and her childhood friend by his side, they must survive the treacherous journey through the pass with a vengeful Lucy hunting them. If they don't, they'll never see home again.


Jeslyn's new life in Luna Harbor is the perfect remedy for her confused and broken heart. But when a group of mercenaries kidnap her beloved Grandfather, interrupting her daily routine as his jewelry apprentice, she's forced to join forces with the one person from her past she tried to forget.


And his assistance comes with a price.


Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22452354-wicked-path



Author Bio:
Eliza graduated from Dowling College with a BA in Visual Communications. When she’s not arguing with excel at her day job, or playing Dragon Age 2, again, she’s writing. Her stories hold a bit of the fantastical and there’s always a romance. Her YA Fantasy series, The Daath Chronicles, is published by Curiosity Quills Press.


Author Links:

Web: http://elizatilton.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ElizaTilton

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/elizatilton13/

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1So0CgQ

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Eliza-Tilton-YA-Author-245765852217133/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7047768.Eliza_Tilton


Buy Links:

Broken Forest: http://amzn.to/1Tzv6ar

Wicked Path: http://amzn.to/1Og5nHC

Crimson Tides: http://amzn.to/1rSWmd9

Deadly Dance: http://amzn.to/2dowHCZ



Our ship was gone, leaving us alone in an empty sea. Out here with nothing but calm water, I felt deserted; terrified. All those mornings I’d wished to venture out into the sea, to explore its beauty and splendor, I had no real understanding of the danger. How easily it was to be lost—and what about the creatures? We had no weapons, and if a shark attacked, how would we survive?


I wrapped my arms around my sides, praying and wishing this was all a horrific dream—that Grandfather was safe in his bed, snoring, and none of this was real.

Because if it wasn’t a dream, I was going to die.


Only Daughter

Only Daughter - Anna Snoekstra

Only Daughter, the debut novel from Anna Snokestra, is taughtly written, and gripped me from the introduction. 


Rebecca Winter disappeared in 2003. The only clue, her smashed cell phone, found in a ditch. Eleven years later, a woman, claiming to be Rebecca appears. The impostor eases herself into Bec, fooling everyone. At least, at first.


Trying to stay one step ahead of the investigator, to keep him from learning about the deceit. Trying to reassure the family that it's really her. Trying to pretend that she's Bec keeps the impostor busy. Too busy, as she begins to find out that things in Bec's life were not what they seemed. And that she's in as much danger now as Bec was eleven years ago.


Snokestra does a great job with POV and timeline shifts. The present day is narrated by the impostor, who is never given a name, and the events in 2003 are narrated by Bec. Too much detail into the plot, and the twists will spoil everything. But it's an entirely different mystery/thriller/crime story. There was some great foreshadowing, that was well covered with innocuous details, as well as a few lovely red herrings. You will figure out the twist a few chapters before the end, but knowing how it plays out will keep you reading till the last word.


As a warning, there are a few scenes of graphic animal cruelty and of violence towards people. They are pretty essential to the plot, but they are very graphic, and stomach turning. Be warned. They are near the end of the book, and in chapters from Bec's POV. 


Only Daughter
Anna Snokestra
Publisher: MIRA (September 20, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 077831944X
ISBN-13: 978-0778319443

The Silver Baron's Wife

The Silver Baron's Wife - Donna Baier Stein

The Silver Baron's Wife is a historical fiction novel by Donna Baier Stein. It's a fictionalized account of Elizabeth "Baby" Doe Tabor, one of the most infamous women on Colorado history. 


This is an amalgamation of actual notes written by Baby Doe and of conjecture of her reactions to other factual events of her life. In the book, Elizabeth and her first husband Harvey. They came from Wisconsin to work a silver mine to try to make a fortune before returning home. Harvey wound up becoming addicted to opium, due to an injury. Due to this, Elizabeth began working in the mine to supplement their income. The men she worked with gave her the nickname of "Baby", and it followed her the rest of her life.


She met Horace Tabor after divorcing Harvey, and the two fell in love. Horace eventually divorced his first wife, Augusta, to marry Baby Doe. The scandal painted the Tabors in a poor light, and they were never to obtain the level of social acceptance that Horace enjoyed with Augusta. 


Horace and Baby Doe enjoyed a life filled with luxury, and had two daughters. Then, when the government decided to base the economy on the gold standard rather than silver, the Tabors lost their fortune. The family moved back to Leadville, where Horace soon died. He told Baby Doe to hold onto the last mine they owned, and she did just that. Her daughters grew up and moved away, leaving Baby Doe to grow old alone. 


As Baby Doe aged, she wrote thousands of notes that she kept in her cabin. These notes became additional basis for this book. They give insight into the later years of Baby Doe's life, including her increasing religious fervor and declining mental state. She eventually died alone during the winter of 1935, estranged from her daughters, living is abject poverty. 


Baier Stein does a wonderful job of entwining the factual and fictional into a tale with as many peaks and valleys as the life of Baby Doe. It's very ovbious that the author did copious amounts of research into the lives of the Tabors, and into the lives of people in Denver, Central City, and Leadville in the late 19th century. There is so much fact written into the book, that it reads much like a biography. Only it holds so much personal feelings, intent, and love that can only come from fiction. But it's beautifully written.


Baby Doe Tabor is one of the most, if not the most, infamous woman in Colorado history. Her rags to riches to rags story is taught to school children, was immortalized in movies, books, and an opera. The Tabor Opera House, built while Horace was married to Augusta, is still in operation in Leadville, and is being restored to the former glory it once held. The mansion the Tabors lived in in Denver has been since demolished, but their infamy lives on.


I highly enjoyed The Silver Baron's Wife. The ending was heartbreaking, as it summed up the last thirty five years of Baby Doe's life into just a few chapters, mostly taken from the notes written and kept by Baby Doe. (The notes are being catalogued and some are on display at the Colorado History Center in Denver. Some of the Tabors personal items are also on display.) I'll highly recommend it to fans on Colorado history, to fans of Colorado's infamous women, to infamous women in general. Give it a try, I think you'll like it.



The Silver Baron's Wife

Donna Baier Stein

Publisher: Serving House Books (September 15, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0997101067
ISBN-13: 978-0997101065

Sprinkle Glitter on my Grave

Sprinkle Glitter on My Grave: Observations, Rants, and Other Uplifting Thoughts About Life - Jill Kargman

Sprinkle Glitter on my Grave: Observations, Rants, and Other Uplifting Thoughts About Life is the latest memoir/essays by Jill Kargman. She's an author of books for teens and adults as well as an actress, the star of Odd Mom Out on Bravo.


Kargman is a NYC girl, born and bred. And it shows in her writings. She's talkative, opinionated, and funny. Her show Odd Mom Out is based on her novel Momzillas. She discusses life as a mom in NYC, stories about growing up, and anecdotes about her family. 


She's best when she's talking about her family and growing up. Her writing style isn't as "I'm trying to be the cool mom" in those essays/chapters. It's more poignant and funnier than when she's dropping btdubs, awks, or insuffs. 


She's got chapters dedicated to all kinds of things, from things that keep her awake at 3am, her style evolution from "Miami Vice" to "Goth mom/rocker chic", to musings on getting her kids into the cutthroat world of kindergarten in NYC. There's a jot of judgmental stuff in here, nothing that's particularly vicious, just bordering on holier than thou. 


It's not particularly easy to review a collection like this, as each essay is completely different than the others. There's very little continuity, aside from the very jarring slang that she uses. Which was enough to make me roll my eyes every time I read it. Btdubs is just the most innane thing on earth. Well, the chapter where she name drops John Kerry, who was married to her Godmother, over and over again. That chapter was amusing, it was about her family trying to get plots in a very exclusive cemetery, and their repeated rejections. Until Senator Kerry wrote them a letter of recommendation to get in, then all was fine with the cemetery.


If you're a fan of Odd Mom Out, which I'd never heard of before picking up Sprinkle Glitter on my Grave, you'll probably enjoy the book more. You'll already be accustomed to her linguistic flow. And her name dropping of places in NYC and the surrounding areas. And of the problems faced by the rich in a city surrounded by the even richer. It was funny, but I won't be going to the bookstore to pick anything else of hers up.



Sprinkle Glitter on My Grave: Observations, Rants, and Other Uplifting Thoughts About Life
Jill Kargman
Publisher: Ballantine Books (September 6, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0399594574
ISBN-13: 978-0399594571

Haunted Bridges

Haunted Bridges: Over 300 of America's Creepiest Crossings - Rich Newman

Haunted Bridges: Over 300 of America's Creepiest Crossings is the latest book by paranormal author Rich Newman. It's a list of 300ish bridges in the US that are reputed to be haunted. 


The different chapters are on: hangings and lynchings, invisible hands, sad suicides, crybaby bridges, phantoms from the past, the dead hitchhiker, scary creatures, scene of the crime, mysterious lights, unfortunate accidents, and unaccounted oddities. Each chapter is listed alphabetically by state then city. 


This isn't the kind of book that goes in depth on the hauntings at any specific bridge. It's much more of a travel guide, if you will. It lists approximate area, what kind of bridge (suspension, train, covered, etc.), how safe the bridge is (a number of the bridges are railroad trestles, and as such should not be crossed on foot/by car, some are demolished, and others are unsafe for people to access due to the bridge falling apart), and a general idea of what kind/s of hauntings are there.


The author has a very matter of fact description for each bridge. It's not overly verbose, it doesn't detail the supposed hauntings, there aren't stories of personal experiences. It's just a short, sweet, and to the point listing of bridges that have paranormal oddities associated with them. 


Some bridges have supposed hauntings as well as urban legends surrounding the haunting. For example, on bridge XYZ, to contact the ghost of a woman who drove her car off the bridge you must drive to the center of the bridge, honk your horn four times, flash the lights three times, and get out of your car and walk around it eleven times with your hands held over your head. Then you'll briefly see a ghostly car flash the lights and attempt to run you off the bridge. (This isn't actually a contact method in the book for any bridge, I'm making this specific one up. But honestly, some of the "contact rituals" are about that silly.)


All in all, I enjoyed the book. Newman has a writing style that is conversational and descriptive without veering into the territory of oversimplifying or overanalyzing the stories presented. It's descriptive of each place, but short enough that he can put information about 300+ bridges into less than 300 pages. If you're looking for a travel guide of (mostly) scenic places to visit, with some hauntings to explore, this is a book for you. If you're looking for a book that describes every single type of haunting at a location, complete with the entire history of the place, you're not going to find that here. But it does make a handy reference for things to see when you're in a particular area. Pick it up if you've got the time, it's a nice strong book.


Haunted Bridges: Over 300 of America's Creepiest Crossings

Rich Newman

Publisher: Llewellyn Publications (September 8, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0738748471
ISBN-13: 978-0738748474 

The Devil's Prayer

The Devil's Prayer - Luke Gracias

Siobhan Russo's mother disappeared six years ago. Leaving her and her younger sister Jess to be raised by their grandmother. Siobhan tried to create an explanation for why her mother left, but nothing she tried to comfort herself with was anywhere near the truth of why Denise Russo vanished.


The Devil's Prayer is Luke Gracias' debut novel. A gripping mix of horror, suspense, intrigue, a touch of the supernatural, and a female protagonist whirled into one stunning novel.


Denise Russo was having the time of her life. Newly engaged, celebrating her 28th birthday surrounded by her closest friends, and making a birthday wish that turned out to come true. Just not in the way she ever expected. But, that's what happens when the Devil overhears your wishes.


Her wish, that the night would never end turns into her worst nightmare. After a grisly "accident" that leaves her mute and a quadriplegic, Denise is again visited by the Devil, who offers her the thing she desires most. Revenge and justice. But the cost is her daughter Siobhan's soul. Six souls in six nights. Denise will recover fully, and lead a normal life with her daughter. 


Only the Devil keeps intervening in Denise's plans. She is forced to leave her daughters, and run. And run she does, back to the Catholic church of her youth. Where she begins to unravel the story of the missing 12 pages of the "Devil's Codex", an ancient manuscript written by another person who sold their soul to the Devil.


Flipping back and forth between Siobhan's present and Denise's past, all written in a diary given to Siobhan at the memorial service for her mother. In the diary is the details of the last six years, and everything Denise has done to help prevent the Devil return to power is unfolded. 


I can't go into great detail, because there are so very many points that are essential to the plot, and I don't want to spoil this book entirely. But it's a great read, and the wheels are turning to make it into a movie already. The book is a bit like The Name of the Rose and DaVinci Code, but a touch less conspiracy theory and more grounded in researchable, verifiable fact. The historical characters in the book are real people, the Codex Gigas is a real book, and Gracias weaves his tale so deftly that the line between historical fact and modern fiction is blurred. The prose is wicked sharp, skillfully teased into something that is much bigger than what is written on the page.


If you're a fan of Dan Brown, Stephen King, The X-Files, etc...you'll find this book enticing. Historical fiction fans, those who like fast paced action with a female protagonist will also enjoy this story. There is so much more to it that I haven't even begun to touch on with the review, it really needs to be read. And, hopefully, soon, watched. In the meantime, keep an eye on Luke Gracias' Instagram The Devil's Prayer to see pictures from the historical places described in the novel, and visuals of the movie!


I received a review copy of the book from the author in exchange for a fair review.


The Devil's Prayer

Luke Gracias

Publisher: Australian eBook Publisher (February 18, 2016)
Publication Date: February 18, 2016
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English
ASIN: B01BXR4838

America's Most Haunted Hotels

America's Most Haunted Hotels: Checking in with Uninvited Guests - Jamie Davis Whitmer

America's Most Haunted Hotels is the second book by Jamie Davis Whitmer. It details visits the author and her husband have made to some of the most haunted hotels in the US.


With chapters dedicated to The Myrtles Plantation, the Queen Mary, the Copper Queen the Kehoe House, the Copper Queen, the Crescent Hotel, the Jerome Grand Hotel, the Farnsworth House Inn, the Lemp Mansion, the Stanley Hotel, and the Palmer House Hotel, the author has traveled across the US conducting investigations.


The author does state that at the time of her visits, some of the hotels were occupied, and some weren't. This statement allows for some wiggle room in claims, predominantly in the EVP (Electric Voice Phenomenon) realm. She also clarifies that when she does EVP sessions, she keeps them short because it's easier for her to hear and understand responses. However, she does also state that she and her husband clear themselves before going into a haunted location and explicitly state that they only want to contact beings on the same positive wavelengths as them. The first part is great. Allowing a person who is interested in investigating a location know ahead of time that your EVP's and personal experiences could have been corrupted by other living beings is important. As is knowing that ghosts aren't like a carnival ride. You can't go in expecting them to perform for you, they either will or they won't. You can't expect hauntings to be handed to you.


There are nice descriptions of the different hotels, the decor, and of the first impressions of the author. There is also a blurb at the end of each chapter detailing the location, contact information, and website (if available) for each hotel, as well as a few suggestions of other places to visit in the area. 


On the other hand, much of the stories the author passes along from each hotel is rehashed from stories told on the ghost tours of the location, or from other paranormal researchers visits. There is some good research thrown in, mostly about the history of the buildings, the families that lived there, and some geology. But the ghost stories are the same ones that have been passed around. And some of the research is flat out false. The claims that the Stanley Hotel is built on soil heavily laden with quartz has been proven false by the USGS. And proven before the book was published. That was a touch disappointing, as I'd hoped that maybe that falsehood could be put to rest.


Taken as a personal account of someone who has read all the ghost stories about a location, gone on the haunted tours, and then conducted some research of their own, America's Most Haunted Hotels isn't bad. But it is just that, a personal account. There are things that happen that the author can't explain, and that the conditions don't account for, but some seem to be a touch overhyped by the author. It's not a book for everyone, but for a very casual investigator with money to spend staying at some very luxurious hotels, America's Most Haunted Hotels makes a pretty good little guidebook of where to visit.


I did receive an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review.


America's Most Haunted Hotels: Checking In with Uninvited Guests
Jamie Davis Whitmer
Publisher: Llewellyn Publications (October 8, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0738748005
ISBN-13: 978-0738748009 

Bury the Living

Bury the Living (The Revolutionary Series Book 1) - Jodi McIsaac

Bury the Living is the latest work by Jodi McIsaac, and the first book in her new Revolutionary series. It's a bit of a hodge-podge genre-wise, but it all fits together, and creates a cohesive tale.


Nora O'Reilly is a rebel, born and bred. From her family fighting in the Irish Civil war, to Nora's working with the IRA, rebellion is in her blood. After losing her father and older brother during the "Troubles" in Northern Ireland in the 1990's, Nora joined with the IRA to help in the fight. That desire to fight carried her through to the present day, with Nora working in refugee camps in war torn countries.


Then Nora begins having strange dreams. Of a young man with grey hair, calling for her to help him. Telling her that she's the only one who can. Nora goes back to Northern Ireland, not for the express purpose of helping the man, Thomas Heany, but to help him nonetheless. 


Transported back in time to 1923, by the mysterious Sisters who follow St. Brigid, Nora finds herself in the middle of the Irish civil war. She also finds Thomas, and a whole mess of trouble as well.


Nora may have the key to saving her precious Northern Ireland, but she's got to convince Thomas to go along with her plan. And he has one of his own, that he's not revealing to Nora just yet.


Will Nora and Thomas prevail in their mutual want to save Ireland, and alter the course of history? Will Nora be able to return to her life in the modern day? Will Thomas be able to find his path? These are some of the questions left unanswered by McIsaac at the end of Bury the Living, and it makes a good cliffhanger in anticipation of the next book in the series.


Bury the Living was a good read. There was brilliant research done for it, from the IRA gangs in the mid 1990's, all the way back to the Civil War in the 1920's. Places were described, and people fleshed out so that the past seemed to be the present. Nora had to use the history she remembered from her lessons in order to not stick out like a sore thumb, and she succeed fairly well. It's quite obvious that McIsaac has some great love of Northern Ireland, and attention to detail. It's very well portrayed, and convincingly presented. And all the different themes, from Nora's teen struggles, Thomas's revelations, the war, Brigid, time travel, all were woven together in a believable manner, which I was a bit surprised by. Very pleasantly surprised. It's a book that I've mentioned to several other history fans, and those who enjoyed the Outlander series, and it's got some similar themes. 


I received a copy of Bury the Living from the publisher in exchange for a fair review.



Bury the Living
Jodi McIsaac
Series: The Revolutionary Series (Book 1)
Paperback: 302 pages
Publisher: 47North (September 6, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1503935515
ISBN-13: 978-1503935518 

Dark Spirits

Dark Spirits: A Man Terrorized by the Supernatural - Stephen Lancaster

Dark Spirits is the latest book from paranormal researcher and investigator Stephen Lancaster. This is a collection of some of the stories/investigations that have stuck with Lancaster the most during his career as an investigator, and he presents them with commentary of what he learned, felt, saw, and feels.


There are eleven chapters in Dark Spirits, and most of them are intertwined with "something" that may well have attached itself to Lancaster. The first story, "The Fascinating Case of Mrs. Weller", is the most hopeful of them. It concerns a prediction a woman made just before her death, the evidence of the predictions written in a letter to her son dated one week before her passing. There are corroborating accounts from multiple people confirming some of the details, including pictures with unexplained artifacts in them. 


The second, third, and fourth are intertwined as they happened at the same location. A large estate with large fields that were worked by slaves, a strange wooded grove where the slave cabins were supposed to be located, and a house that some residents seem to have never left. These were the most striking stories in the book. The terror is palpable as the group tries to flee an unseen pack of...something...Something who has eyes visible in the IR camera, but not to the naked eye. This is the investigation that began to pull apart his team, and from which "something" attached itself to Lancaster


The rest of the chapters are from after the core investigation team fell apart, and some investigations have Lancaster accompanied by former members of his team. These aren't incredibly remarkable, save that there are some lingering attachments from the horrors of the investigation detailed in chapters 2-4.


There is come compelling threads presented that point to the presence of something existing after death, but as it is a book, detailed photographs, video, and audio recordings aren't available. Nevertheless, this is a book to make you wonder just what those bumps in the night are from. Or, rather, who those bumps are from.

Summoned & Stifled

Summoned - Rainy Kaye Stifled - Rainy Kaye

Summoned & Stifled are the first books in the Summoned series by author Rainy Kaye. They're an interesting take on two different fronts. The first is that it's a paranormal/urban fantasy novel that isn't about a vampire, werewolf, shifter, ghost, or witch. It's about a Jinn. And that's the second interesting front, the new perspective on a Jinn.


Dimitri is a Jinn, but you may better know what he is as a Genie. But they prefer Jinn, it's the Arabic name for them, and they are of Middle Eastern origin. But Dimitri isn't what you'd expect a Jinn to be. He's not the jolly big blue guy from that Disney movie we all know. He's hard. He's detached. He's at the mercy of his Master. Always.


Summoned is where we learn about Dimitri, about what he does. And what he does is any request from his Master that ends in those three words...This I wish. And those three words bind Dimitri to finish his master's command, no matter what it is. Kidnapping a young girl? Done. Killing a college professor? Done. Blowing up a research facility? Done, done and done.


But Dimitri meets Syd. And all his plans for a solitary life fly out the window. As their relationship progresses, and Syd eventually learns Dimitri's big secret, the two are determined to find out why his master is sending him on such odd and seemingly unrelated tasks. Until they realize that the master is sending him out to kill other potential Masters for Dimitri.


Together Dimitri & Syd chase loose ends, disobey a direct order from Dimitri's Master, and literally bring his house down upon his head. Only then can Dimitri be freed from his curse. And only then can they travel to Italy for a Happy Ever After.


Stifled is where we learn that Happily Ever After never happens for a researcher like Syd. Not when she discovers that there is a Jinn on the loose in San Diego. So Syd and Dimitri return to the States to investigate more about the Jinn, and where Dimitri came from.


They find that there is not only one Jinn loose, but a number. And they're all tied to a strange society called J-Net. The duo decides to infiltrate J-Net by posing as Master and Jinn. They discover that the ringleader of J-Net is as corrupt as they come, and has not only helped cover up the murder of Jinns, but is running a school for the offspring of those Jinn.


Dimitri and Syd work to try to free a horribly wronged Jinn, end the corrupt leader, and it's starting to work out. Until a face from Dimitri's past shows up to try to twist all his plans to help herself. But maybe helping her will will allow him to work towards his goals. Working with a known force is better than working alone, right?


But will Dimitri and Syd be able to help the other Jinn? Will they be able to get out of this new predicament? Will they be able to make it out alive?


I enjoyed these two books, the use of Jinn was a nice change from the normal supernatural characters in the genre. And telling the story with the Jinn as the focus was also nice. There was no non-consentual sex, no being pressured into sex, no consent grey areas at all, which is really refreshing. And the way the books ended leave things open for another, which I'm assuming is what the author has planned. At least I hope she does. I want to know more about Dimitri & Syd, and their continuing adventure.

Skyships Over Innsmouth

Skyships Over Innsmouth - Susan Laine

Skyships Over Innsmouth is the latest book from Susan Laine. It's an interesting take off on a post-apocalyptic world meeting H.P. Lovecraft. And it works.


Dev is the captain of the Smoke Swallow, a scout airship from Canal City, looking for resources to replenish the dwindling stores as well as survivors of the Cataclysm. With his crew: Shay, the scholar, Malia, the fighter, Stork, the jack of all trades, and Wren, the youngest member of the crew, and another one who jumps in wherever needed.


Our crew sets off to find a mystical city. One only talked about in books. It never appears on any map, and even the books on it seem vague about any details. But they are determined to find Innsmouth, MA. And to unlock any secrets it may hold, including why its location is so secret.


The crew finds Innsmouth, and descends to the ground, leaving Wren aboard ship. Just in case of trouble. And trouble finds them shortly, in the guise of a young girl. A girl who looks oddly like a mix of human and fish? Malia is taken by the residents of Innsmouth, and Dev and Shay wet out to find her, with the help of Stork.


It is revealed that Innsmouth is a dream city. Or rather, a nightmare city, populated mostly by frightening hybrids of humans with fish, and a few hybrids of humans and other animals. And a few other beings that defy explanation.


Skyships Over Innsmouth borrows very heavily from the Lovecraftian universe, using locations, stories, and beings that were popularized by Lovecraft and his fellows. As such, there are things in the book that don't make lots of sense, unless you've got a little bit of knowledge of the lore. Non Euclidian geometry is touched on, as well as you can describe something that can't exist in our grasp of the universe, but not explained.And that bit of the book is difficult to wrap ones head around, but only because of the descriptions of how that "style" of geometry could look.


There's much more to this book, but going much deeper will take away from the mind bogglingness of it. But there is some lovely non-explicit romance, that isn't tiptoed around. It's very obvious what's going on, but there's no explicit sex, which was interesting and very well written. I was very pleased with the book, and how it juggled the two realms of existence. And the wink and nod to other Lovecraftian stories was great.


Skyships Over Innsmouth should be put on your to-read list if you're a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction, Lovecraftian fiction, LGBTQIA fiction, old school horror, and just plain weird creepy fiction. I give it two fins up. And a couple tentacles as well.

Wild Licks

Wild Licks - Cecilia Tan

Wild Licks, the second book in Cecilia Tan's Secrets of a Rock Star series, is a wild, sexy spin into the "unconventional" lives of Mal & Gwen.


We met Mal and Gwen in the first book, Taking the Lead, but we get to know them in this one. Mal is the broody bad boy of The Rough, a "one and done" guy. Until he meets Excrucia that is. A masochistic bottom, who loves what Mal dishes out. Gwen is a proper lady, an aspiring actress, and way out of Mal's normal tastes. They keep getting put together for publicity outings, and begin to be interested in one another.


Mal and Excrucia continue their lovely kinkfest, until the accident happens. Excrucia is revealed to be Gwen, and Mal bolts. He's afraid of damaging another person, afraid of his "unnatural urges", and afraid of the growing feeling he has for Gwen. Leaving the country to record a new album seems to be the best idea he's heard in a while, so Mal jumps on the chance.


Mal's bandmates begin to realize that it was a mistake. That Mal not being able to indulge himself in his BDSM needs causes him to be a raging jerkwad. Cue his bandmates calling Gwen to come and see if she can help. After flying in, and surprising Mal, Gwen begins to show him that his urges and needs are normal for him. That he's not going to damage her, and that she likes the way they role play.


There's some drama that then unfolds, mostly revolving around Mal and his stubbornness. His inability to trust himself was severely broken, and needs to be rebuilt before he can move on into the relationship he wants with Gwen.


Wild Licks was a really good book. Great portrayal of BDSM, role playing as part of that relationship, and some great Master/sub dynamics. There's not a whole lot of communication and negotiation in that relationship, which is/can be a strong basis in and kink relationship. All in all, I enjoyed it. Well written, fun read, hot sex, and a big heaping ladle of kink. Again, as expected, Cecilia Tan hits it out of the park. (Which is only a semi-intentional pun referring to her "day job".)


I did receive a copy of Wild Licks from the publisher in exchange for a fair review.

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