Category Archives: Speculative Fiction

Tarnished Journey by Ann Gimpel

This is the final book in the Soul Dance Series. Shifters, Romani, and Celtic gods do battle with demons and vampires who have signed on with Hitler in order to save Earth.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

tarnished-journey.jpgTitle: Tarnished Journey
Author: Ann Gimpel
Series: Soul Dance 04
Publish Date: July 18, 2017, Ann Gimpel Books, LLC
Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance
Source: Provided by Publisher

Publisher’s DescriptionLong before Germany rounded up Romani and sent them to prison camps, the Netherlands declared them undesirables. Yara’s caravan disbanded when she was fifteen to avoid being driven out of the country. Ten years have passed, and she’s been alone for most of that time hiding in caves and abandoned buildings. It’s been a lonely life, but at least she still has one.

Stewart conceals his true identity for the best of reasons. He’s not actually Romani, even though he’s been a caravan leader for many years. In a bold and desperate move, he joins a small band of shifters and Rom to fight the Reich’s chokehold on Europe. When they’re crossing the border into the Netherlands, vampires attack.

Yara senses Romani near her cave. The stench of vampire comes through loud and clear too, along with shifters. While not nearly as bad as vampires, her people have always steered clear of them. Another type of magic plucks at her. She can’t identify it, but it draws her from her hiding place. That decision tilts her world on its axis when she comes face to face with Stewart’s raw masculinity and savage presence. She could still turn tail and run. If she stays, it doesn’t require magical ability to recognize her life will change forever.


Luna Lovebooks says…Luna_Lovebooks_100

I am almost sad that this series is ending. I was not sure at first, but it became one I greatly enjoyed. For Tarnished Journey we leave behind the vampires and Nazis (for the most part) and get into another mythos, that of the Celts. I enjoyed that aspect a little more than I did the previous novels.

I love that the author features strong women in her stories. Yara is no exception. She has had to be tough and independent since her caravan disbanded and she has been alone since she was fifteen. Meeting Stewart changes everything for her. He introduces her to a new life and reveals many secrets that have been kept from her such as where her power really comes from. I really enjoyed the romance between them. Stewart is very honest with her and genuine in expressing his love. Even though Yara fights him at first, their love had me rooting for them.

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There is a lot of action in the story and many twists. Readers never know what to expect next as the characters encounter all kinds of danger. Not only do they face vampires demons and the Nazis but now god and goddesses are thrown into the mix.Every chapter the characters face a new and exciting danger.

I liked this story better than the previous installments. I give it 4 talismans!

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

Check out the Dragon Lore series by Ann Gimpel, The Hathaways series by LisaKleypas, Gypsy Lord by Kat Martin

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

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Dragon’s First Rule by Silver Milan

The little warning about this book sums it up perfectly! This book contains explicit love scenes and is intended for mature readers who like their paranormal romance on the steamier side. Inside you’ll find sexy dragons, strong women, and kick-ass magic.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Dragons first ruleTitle: Dragon’s First Rule
Author: Silver Milan
Series: Dragons of Midnight 01
Publish Date: October 1, 2017
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Source: Provided by Publisher

Publisher’s Description: Ariel, a newly turned lion shifter, stumbles into the subterranean City of Midnight, home of the dragon shifters. Alone and vulnerable, she catches the eye of the dangerously attractive dragon king. Jett. He charms her and promises help, but can she trust him? After all, he is the King of the Dragons. Why would such a powerful man come to the aid of a common girl?

When Jett realizes Ariel has no one, he vows to protect her, as the girl has been turned against her will in dragon territory. He plans not only to shield her, but to hunt down the very outlaw who hurt her.

But Jett soon finds himself growing attached to his quirky yet beautiful lion shifter. He begins a dangerous game with her, skirting the razor’s edge of passion. He must take care because if he surrenders to his desire, he will forfeit not only his throne, but perhaps both of their lives.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Luna Lovebooks says…Luna_Lovebooks_100

I must admit, I have read Shifter romances before but none of them involved dragons. I was pleasantly surprised by what I discovered. Often times with these types of romance novels we get the domineering alpha male – literally! But Jett is refreshing in that he wants Ariel to be herself. Sure he has his moments where you don’t touch “his” woman, but honestly, what man doesn’t have those feelings every once in awhile? I love that Ariel is a bad ass in her own right. She kicks butt and takes names and even brings down the man who forced the Shifter life on her.

The plot is fast paced and has a few twists that I did not see coming. The sex scenes were steamy and the action scenes towards the end were exciting. It is a quick little read so there isn’t much room for things to be slow. On the other hand, there were parts that I wish could have been expanded on. I wish we had more time to see the love develop between Ariel and Jett. At times they act like they have known each other for years badge4v5instead of a few days. The magic system is still a little confusing to me but it doesn’t play a big part in this novel so it is OK.

If you like Shifter romances you should give this book a try! I give it four gems for its steamy romance scenes and kick ass females!

 Other recommendations…

Try these other great Shifter reads: The Society series by Mason Sabre, The Demonica series by Larissa Ione, Leopard People series by Christine Feehan

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Novus by Crystal Marcos

In this dystopian novel, the Cresecren are a race created by humans. Cayden is one of them, living in a world where people like him are treated like mere servants. Can he survive in a war between the species? Or will he lose everything if he does?

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Title: Novus
Author: Crystal Marcos
Series: The Cresecren Chronicles, Book 01
Publish Date: August 28, 2015
Genre: YA Dystopian
Source: Provided by the author

Publisher’s Description: Seventeen-year-old Cayden expected to live out his days with the dysfunctional Human family he was assigned to serve. One fateful night, however, landed him in Gavaron, the home of maimed, elderly, or defiant.

Beyond its borders is the Den, an area much more dangerous than Cayden ever imagined. He unwittingly becomes involved in a conspiracy and is one of a handful of survivors fleeing a deadly attack. They set off on a perilous journey in search of refuge and the truth. Along the way, Cayden begins to comprehend the difference between fully living and merely surviving, while trying to balance his emotions and a forbidden love.


Kat Mandu says…

This is a dystopian novel, though I wouldn’t relate it to the Divergent, Hunger Games, or even The Lunar Chronicles series because it didn’t remind me of any of them. It has a lot of action, intrigue, and interesting characters, but I’m not quite sure why people are calling it the next Hunger Games.

It’s set in a world where Mother Nature kinda went crazy because of all the industrial pollution and whatnot, so Cresecrens were invented to withstand the harsh nature of things and become humanity’s sacrificial slaves.

Cayden is one of these Cresecrens, exiled by the human family he served for stupid reasons. He and his fellow Cresecrens become entangled in a web of renegade deceit and end up becoming wanted terrorists.

The idea behind it sounds great, but for me, it kinda fell flat. There were quite a few action scenes I had to reread because I didn’t understand what was happening the first time. It felt like minor details were left out, and even when I went back to reread it, I still didn’t quite catch it. Maybe that’s just me, though.

The only other thing that bothered me was the repetition of an idea. Cayden and his ragtag group of friends are running, trying to find sanctuary, but this happens about four times, and each time, they are either betrayed completely by humans or their own kind, or something happens that makes them have to leave the sanctuary. You’d think they’d learn after a while not to trust anyone and move on by themselves.

Besides that, the characters are engaging enough to keep my attention. Cayden is your not-so-typical-typical teenage boy, all naïve and experiencing certain feelings for the first time. Later, there are two girls who become somewhat love interests—one more than the other—that play a role in shaping him into the person he’s meant to be. Plus a bunch of other silly and serious characters that make the story both fun and deadly along the way.

I enjoyed this read, I just feel like it needs some editing on the action scenes and some better world building.

Other recommendations…

…you might try stuff with cool, futuristic tech like Divergent, The Last Survivors, or The Maze Runner.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

The Darkness: Giger Texas by Joe M. Solomon

What do you do when the very darkness is attacking you? A small group of friends is about to find out.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

The DarknessTitle: The Darkness: Giger Texas
Author: Joe M. Solomon
Series: Stand Alone
Publish Date: October 3rd, 2017, NES Publishing
Genre: Horror
Source: Provided by publisher

Publisher’s DescriptionWhen night falls in Giger, Texas, shadows gather as they always do in dim corners and other areas bereft of light. But this time they consolidate and attack any who tread too close. Michael Warren, a twenty-four-year-old resident of Giger, finds himself at the epicenter of this horror and is stunned by the losses suffered overnight. Then the sun sets and the shadows again coalesce, growing more aggressive, the darkness eviscerating anyone it touches.

His only weapon light, Michael struggles to survive and searches frantically for his girlfriend, aiding friends along the way. When Hurricane Daniel roars ashore, wind gusts shred trees and tear down power lines, plunging all of Southeastern Texas into blackness that only feeds and strengthens the encroaching darkness. Rising floodwater provides easy thoroughfares from which the darkness can strike as Michael and his friends contend with the elements, clash with criminals, and battle their way to his residence where they will stand against the darkness and fight to survive. 


Luna_Lovebooks_100Luna Lovebooks says…

First off, let me just say WOAH! The creep factor is strong in this one!  When the author lists Stephen King as one of his inspirations, you can definitely tell. You can feel the horror that the characters are going through.  I mean, SPOILER ALERT—EVERYBODY DIES! Ok, ok, not everybody, but pretty damn close!

A funny little side note—I told my fiance that this story reminded me of Stephen King before I even knew that the author was inspired by him!

There are a lot of characters. Most are insignificant, and many meet their doom. All of them make you feel for them. Even the tidbits of background that we get on these minor characters make their demise that much more horrific. Not only are these characters battling this strange darkness, but they are also battling each other and mother nature. A lot happens in this book, but it works. And the twist when we find out what the darkness really is—WOW!

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I did have one issue. Many of the main characters are running around in a hurricane. A HURRICANE! That was just a little unbelievable to me as the winds can get very strong and streets can become rivers. Now, the author does have characters wading through rapidly rising waters, but with rapidly rising waters often comes swift currents, and none of our characters are swept away.

If life weren’t so hectic, I can guarantee you I would have finished this in a day! It is a horror novel worthy of Mr. King, and I give it 4 flashlights!

Other recommendations…

If you love horror novels you might try Horns by Joe Hill, House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, Under the Dome by Stephen King

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

White Trash Zombie Unchained by Diana Rowland

The White Trash Zombie series is one of my favorites in audio. Rowland’s writing and McLemore’s narration are a perfect match. In this sixth installment, Angel Crawford pits herself against the ambitious and narcissistic scientist, Kristi Charish, to stop the spread of a zombie epidemic and find a cure. And along the way, she makes herself some new pets—zombie gators!

Title: White Trash Zombie Unchained
Author: Diana Rowland
Series: White Trash Zombie, Book 06
Publish Date: September 4, 2017, Audible Studios
Genre: Urban fantasy
Narrator: Allison McLemore
Cover: Tony Mauro
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: Angel Crawford has finally pulled herself together (literally!) after her disastrous dismemberment on Mardi Gras. She’s putting the pieces of her life back in order and is ready to tackle whatever the future holds.

Too bad the future is a nasty bitch. There’s a new kind of zombie in town: mindless shamblers, infectious and ravenous.

With the threat of a full-blown shambler pandemic looming, and a loved one stricken, Angel and the “real” zombies scramble to find a cure. Yet when Angel uncovers the true reason the plague is spreading so quickly, she adds “no-holds-barred revenge” to her to-do list.

Angel is busting her ass dealing with shambling hordes, zombie gators, government jerks, and way too many mosquitos, but this white trash chick ain’t giving up.

Good thing, since the fate of the world is resting on her undead shoulders.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested Ivana says…

OMG, I love this series! Listening to it makes me giddy. I feel a series reread coming on. 🙂

Angel Crawford has come a long way from the pill-popping loser she was at the beginning of book 1. She’s drug-free, has a good relationship with her dad, excels at her job, is going back to school for a degree, has made some true friends, and is instrumental in protecting the zombies in her community.

So when it appears she accidentally creates a new batch of mindless, shambling zombies, she feels pretty bad about it. The whole town seems to be turning into shamblers—including Nick, her co-worker, friend, and perhaps more. In order to save Nick and everyone else, Angel has to figure out what the evil Dr. Charish is up to and help her own scientists find a cure.

I love that Rowland has Angel still battling with her self-esteem. Behind the zombie science and outrageous situations, Angel’s story is really one of reclaiming herself, working hard to drag herself up from poverty and substance abuse to have a full and productive life and role in her community. When a person’s life starts in poverty and tragedy, there’s a mentality that never really goes away, regardless of how far they may have come. Rowland doesn’t let it dominate the story or beat the readers over the head with it, but it’s there in Angel’s thoughts about herself and her limits. It’s great to see her work through it productively in this book, and it makes her a role-model, of sorts.

Unchained gets top marks from me. This installment seems to be a turning point in the series, and I’m very excited to see what happens next (particularly with the zombie gators!). I can’t recommend this series enough, especially if you enjoy audiobooks. The narration is such a treat.

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

Check out the Adventures of Owl and Kincade Strange series by the real, and not evil, Kristi Charish. If you haven’t read it yet, the Sookie Stackhouse series is about another Southern gal put in outrageous situations.