Category Archives: Supernatural Thriller

The Woman in the White Mask by Rob Blackwell

Incredible addition to the Soren Chase episodes.  The overall mystery becomes clearer but the plotting and scheming to get it there? Un-freakin’-real!!!

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

33800839Title: The Woman in the White Mask
Author: Rob Blackwell
Series: Soren Chase #3
Publish Date: January 30, 2017
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: Author

Publisher’s Description: Eight years ago, Soren Chase was attacked by a vicious supernatural creature that murdered his friends and stole his memory. Now a mysterious woman in a white mask is forcing him to relive that night—as both the victim and the killer.

Her arrival couldn’t come at a worse time. Someone is raising demons and setting them loose, and only Soren can stop them. But as the supernatural assaults grow more frequent, his visions of the past start to take an alarming toll. It’s a grim race to see which might kill him first.

The Woman in the White Mask is the third novel in the highly-rated Soren Chase series, which mixes urban fantasy, action and suspense. Find out why readers have hailed it as “one of the best paranormal series I’ve ever read” with a unique hero who is “a kindred of Harry Dresden.”

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel. In other words…spoilers.  *BEWARE*


Nervous Nellie says…Nervous_Nellie_100

Soren was on the floor reaching out to John, tears on his face.  John raised a bloody hand back toward him.

Soren Chase is one of my all time favorite supernatural detectives.  In a life fairly reminiscent of any other detective, he gets pounded over and over by supernatural beings bent on hurting or killing anyone that gets in their way.  There is a lot of death, but none horribly graphic.  There is no graphic sex and no blatant, in your face romance. This story doesn’t qualify, in my mind, as horror-it’s more along the lines of thriller/suspense.

I stumbled upon this incredible series and I’ve read every book I could get my hands on.  This is one of the most suspenseful and intense supernatural detective novels I’ve read.  Please, don’t start with book #3 in the series, it’ll just ruin it for you.  Now, I’m all about spoilers, but suffice it to say, I didn’t want any with this story.

badge5v5Soren has been wallowing in guilt ever since his best friend and two other friends were killed at a cabin during a weekend getaway.  That is the very tip of the iceberg.  What had really happened is so totally off the charts, I didn’t see it coming.  The twists and turns of  the investigations, the ensuing answers and the amount of distrust Soren had to sustain was heart breaking.  This character grabbed hold of my imagination and made me hungry for more. While I am over the moon with the ending and several of the reveals in this book, I’m not going to tell.  It’s really THAT good!  You’ll just have to trust me.  It’s totally worth it.

Remember, start with book #1 or at the very least the novella, Closed at Dark.  While it only scratches the surface, it’ll give you a taste of the ride to come.

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

…you might try  The Inquisitor series, Eric Carter series or Harbinger P.I. series.

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

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Red Knight Falling by Craig Schaefer

2016-standout-award-badge-smallIncredible! Stop the presses! Harmony Black and crew are back fighting a new fight.  Hostile Entity 141.  Seems straight forward, right?  Ha!  Nothing in Harmony’s life could be construed as straight forward.  Come and see for yourself.  You’ll love it!

27997472TitleRed Knight Falling
AuthorCraig Schaefer
Series: Harmony Black #2
Publish Date:  April 26, 2016
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Source: Provided by the author

Publisher’s Description: FBI agent Harmony Black and her team, Vigilant Lock, face a new type of threat: one from beyond the stars.

They’d always heard the Red Knight was an urban legend: in 1954, three years before Sputnik launched, a mysterious satellite was sighted circling Earth, though no power on the planet had such technology.

But the Red Knight is real, and what’s more, it’s inextricably linked to a supernatural force no one yet understands. Like a moth to a flame, this dark presence collides annually with the airborne satellite. Except this year the Red Knight is on course to crash-land…in Oregon.

Vigilant Lock sets out to find the crash site and secure the remnants before the mysterious power is drawn to Earth. But they soon discover the mission is far from straightforward—and they aren’t the only ones tracking the Red Knight. To stop a deadly occult threat, Harmony and her team must use all their resources: technology and sorcery, science and magic. Fortunately, Harmony has only begun to discover her growing power. 

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Nervous_Nellie_100Nervous Nellie says…

Vigilant Lock had a high turnover rate.  Considering our mandate was to hunt and exterminate occult threats-going head-0n against sorcerers, monsters and the powers of hell-none of expected to with a pension.  Or an open casket funeral.  Going in, you get only one guarantee: that if and when a target gets lucky and takes you out, your replacement would make damn sure they paid for it.

This is a supernatural urban fantasy with mystery thriller thrown in.  No sex, no cliffhanger but a really good lead-in for the next book. There is a hint of romantic relationship building, but nothing ooey gooey. There is violence, bloodshed, and some swearing, but that’s to be expected when fighting monsters.  I suppose you could read it without reading Book #1, but I would strongly suggest starting with Book #1 because there are elements that really add to Book #2’s story.

You know how sometimes the sequel isn’t as good as the first?  That’s not the case here.  The above quote pretty much describes the basic premise of this book — kick ass before your ass is kicked.  Partners Harmony Black and Jessie Temple suit up for a fairly straight forward job.  Hostile Entity 141 – fix it.  That easy? No.  Of course not. The Team has to find an artifact associated with Hostile Entity 141 in order to save the world.  Along the way, they discover other governmental ABC groups that want the same artifact.  Wait!  That’s not all!  Another G.I. Joe wanna-be mercenary group is after it too.

badge5v4Every time I thought that Harmony and team were at the end of their mission, all I had to do was look at the remaining thickness of the book to see that, in fact, they were just getting started.  They had to wade through conspiracy theories that date back to the Nazi’s and the cold war. They have to think of plans on the fly and the whole team is tested.  Every single member of the team was tested.  The action is non-stop.  The characters aren’t superheroes, but when it comes right down to the bottom line they step up in a big way.  The twists and turns are innumerable.  This book is an incredible ride and if you ask me, it’s totally worth your time.

Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

Book 2 in Craig Schaefer’s Harmony Black series is a real treat.  There’s a little bit of something for everyone here – black ops, space, supernatural, espionage, treason, and lots of big questions.  It’s a great mixing of genres that will appeal to many readers.

A satellite is about to crash on earth, one that has a connection to a supernatural entity.  Several factions are after it — multiple government black ops organizations, paramilitary groups, rich individuals with their own agendas.  Harmony’s team has to get to it first at all costs.

badge4v4I really love the “big questions” in this book.  It seems each team member is faced with a personal challenge that tests their resolve and commitment to the job.  Loyalty, leadership, morals, and relationships are all put to the test in this latest assignment.  Will the group survive intact?  You’ll only know if you pick up the book!

Our reviews in this series…

Other reviews…

If you like this book…

…you might like 9mm Blues by Keith Melton, the Order of the Sanguine series by James Rollins, or the Nathaniel Cade series by Christopher Farnsworth.

Harmony Black by Craig Schaefer

2016-standout-award-badge-smallStop!! Stop what you are doing and pay attention to this review! Have I got a book for you!!! Take my word for it – it’s not a book that should be judged by its cover – it’s MUCH better!!

26402927TitleHarmony Black
AuthorCraig Schaefer
Series: Harmony Black #1
Publish Date:  February 1, 2016
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased through Kindle First

Publisher’s Description: Harmony Black is much more than your average FBI special agent. In addition to being a practicing witch, she’s also an operative for Vigilant Lock, an off-the-books program created to battle occult threats—by any means necessary. Despite her dedication to fighting the monsters threatening society, Harmony has become deeply conflicted about her job. Her last investigation resulted in a pile of dead bodies, and she suspects the wrong people are being punished for it.

While on a much-needed vacation, Harmony gets pulled back into action. This time, though, she’s gone from solo work to being part of a team. Their target: the Bogeyman, a vicious and elusive figure…and the creature that destroyed Harmony’s childhood.

Surrounded by quirky, fascinating characters as dedicated to one another as they are to their new partner, Harmony must learn to trust her team—and a new romantic interest—on a dangerous and deadly mission that conjures up memories she’d much rather forget.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Nervous_Nellie_100Nervous Nellie says…

I like to think of our case files as a carefully constructed media narrative, where specific facts and incidents may be reedited or reframed in order to convey a deeper understanding and context.  Sort of like reality television.

I’m loving a new set of characters. I know, I know. What else is new? Well, let me tell you that this spin-off series from Craig Schaefer’s Daniel Faust series is a “one-sit” wonder. Don’t be thinking you are going to be putting it down… ok… maybe a bathroom break, but other than that you will be pulled in fighting demons and hellspawn.

Harmony Black is Daniel Faust’s nemesis. If you haven’t read Daniel Faust series, you really need to give him a try too. Harmony works for the FBI as a witch and agent. Intrigued yet? She takes the bad supernatural elements and brings them to justice… all by herself. It’s a lonely life until she gets thrown in with a team that does what she does except they work together as a unit. Their ‘code’ name is Circus. It’s a fitting term.

Then we meet Jessie Temple. The quotes that come out of that woman’s mouth are hilarious from my point of view. She rivals Yancy Lazarus, Charley Davidson, Alix Hiboux (Owl), Sara Wilde, Bill the Vampire, Quincy Harker,  and others. It’s her coping mechanism with the scary horrible things she runs into. She also does not trust the government branch for which she works. You know, shadowy alphabet agency and whatnot. What’s not to trust?

Team Circus is thrown into a series of child kidnappings that quickly turns into a serial. Harmony has a vested interest as it’s her hometown, her sister’s and father’s killer. Harmony is a skilled witch, but this case exceeds her experience. If she were on her own, she would fail, but she finds out that working with a team maximizes their odds of success.

badge4v4There are dangerous characters galore. There is chaos, mystery, serious maiming of bad guys with a little death thrown in and demons. JUST how I like it! What’s not to love?

Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

“Okay. Now, how many of the sorcerers you’ve met are dangerous, deviant, murderous assholes? Most of them, right? So picture every Tom, Dick, and Harry Potter studying hard, trying to become a real live wizard. If just one-tenth of them succeed, and one-tenth of them let the power go to their heads–and it will be a lot more than one-tenth, you know this–we’ll be mopping up corpses around the clock.”

When this month’s Kindle Firsts email came out, I skipped right over this book, not realizing it was Schaefer’s. The cover is… unfortunate, especially since the Daniel Faust covers are so brilliant. Nothing about the cover communicates that this book is a supernatural mystery with elements of horror. So to 47North/Amazon, I say, “Step it up, folks!  I know you can do better.” 😉

However, despite the cover, the book is getting attention. As I write this review, the book has been available through Kindle First for just nine days, and it already has 300 ratings on Goodreads averaging 4.07.

Straight-laced witch/FBI agent Harmony Black joins a black-ops division that hunts bad supernatural elements and protects the unsuspecting public. While not a unique premise in urban fantasy, there are so many ways to do it that I rarely get tired of the variations. Harmony has to face a monster from her past (one many of us feared as kids, too!), relax her straight-laced standards to accomplish a greater goal, and adjust to a team of unknown elements when she prefers to work alone. This book has horror, humor, and humanity (in the philosophical sense of the word) and makes for a good start to a new series.

badge3v4Sadly, I have not yet read the Faust books; Nell found those and read them without me. I hate it when she does that! ;P  But Harmony references Faust in a way that makes me want to check them out, so now they are part of my electronic and audio library. 😉

Our reviews in this series…

Other reviews…

If you like this book…

The Whizbang Machine by Danielle A. Vann

When Elizabeth Yale’s grandfather returns home with a mysterious gift for her, the typewriter present turns out to be something far more sinister. The more she learns about the typewriter and all its secrets, the more secrets about her family are revealed – plus the curse that’s been put on her family for years has come to claim them.

I received an ARC of this book book from the author/publisher.

whizbang-machineTitleThe Whizbang Machine
AuthorDanielle A. Vann
Series: stand-alone
Publish Date: Nov 15, 2016
Genre:  YA Supernatural Mystery
Source: BEA 16

Publisher’s Description: After years of running from his tragic past, Jack Yale books a flight home. With him is a typewriter that is intended to be a gift for his granddaughter, Elizabeth. The minute Elizabeth’s fingers cradle the large black and cream keys the machine responses: popping, sizzling, and roaring to life with a Whiz-Whiz-BANG! Elizabeth quickly discovers the typewriter has powers beyond anything she has ever seen. The more she types, the more the machine spells out guarded secrets that need to be revealed in order to set history straight and remove a curse that has been on their family for centuries. To solve the mystery, Elizabeth Yale, alongside Jack, will have to crack the code of the Whizbang Machine. What they find challenges their most basic assumptions of their family, the history of the typewriter, and even Elizabeth’s father’s death. The ultimate goal is to remove the curse. The question is: will Jack and Elizabeth be able to carry out their mission?

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat_Mandu_100Kat Mandu says…

What I liked: Well, you don’t see a typewriter every day in books involving relics that spell out a certain doom for the characters. That’s unique to me because I often see an amulet or a stone or a key. It helps that the typewriter can technically talk back, even if it’s often unhelpful.

The author has a very good idea of suspense going for her, for even though there were many things I wasn’t impressed with, I found myself still wanting to read it to figure out the truth behind all the events going on in the book.

What I didn’t like: First off, the characters. Though they are quite believable due to the things they do and say, they’re not likeable people. Elizabeth is the very epitome of annoying, whiny, and temperamental teenagers. In one scene she can seem very grown up and wise, and in another, throw a tantrum for no reason. It’s frustrating that her traits often change. Plus, I wasn’t fond of the mother or Jack. What kind of grandfather purposely brings something he knows is dangerous to his family, while being aware that it could destroy them? That makes no sense to me. I had a tough time relating to any of them and that was rough for me. All the side characters were unfortunately predictable and you could tell who the bad guy was and who wasn’t.

Also, the plot of the book is drowned out by unnecessary details. The characters often find themselves in situations where they have to talk things out but when the dialogue or inner thoughts display on the page, it’s just a recap of everything that’s already happened and I found myself thinking, “I know this already, why are we wasting time?” This book would be so much better if the author got rid of all that re-summarized information and just got on with the plot.

There are action scenes mingled in but they seem so fake that it’s painful. The characters just “happen” to escape from the police in both New York and Amsterdam. They’re not very well written because it’s trying to happen from only one character’s perspective when there are things happening beyond her scope she’s just automatically tuned in to. I could see this better written as third-person omniscient instead of first-person. Elizabeth just seems to know too much.

badge2v4I sadly, can only give this a two – but with hopes that when the sequel is written, the action picks up and makes it less worrisome for readers.

Percy_Procrastinator_100Percy Procrastinator says…

This was a tough read for me. The book is written in Elizabeth’s first person POV but for that, I don’t think I got very good insight into her character. Elizabeth was erratic and emotional, more so than I would have expected from a teenager. Had it only been her, though, I could have excused it. Elizabeth’s mom, Lauren, is just as bad and so is Jack, her grandfather, from whom I expected patience and wisdom. So much so that it surprised me and made it tough for me to root for them as characters. I couldn’t find common ground with any of them which meant I didn’t understand them and therefore made it tough to read about them.

The first part of the book is focused on the family members so much that I almost stopped reading before the mystery started. Elizabeth is about to start her summer off and Jack has just returned. Jack had left years earlier, after his wife and son, Elizabeth’s dad, had died within a week of each other. Jack hopes to reconnect with his family but also starts the mystery with his gift.

Once the mystery of the typewriter, the titular WhizBang Machine and gift from Jack, started, that kept me going as I did want to see what the mystery was. Thinking back on it, though, I don’t think the characters gave enough thought to the Whiz Bang machine. It reacted only to Elizabeth by creating smoke letters to spell out words. It electrocuted Jack enough to give him a heart attack. It worked with no power to it or even no paper. What? They have a supernatural item on their hands and it isn’t questioned?

However, when Elizabeth starts having near psychic-level dreams, a supernatural typewriter at that point is par for the course. Sure, some of her dreams reveal to her old memories of her dad. Other dreams, though, are of people she didn’t know who turn out to be real and tied up in the curse. And now we get a curse, because why not at this point? All of these things are used to push Elizabeth and Jack into researching the mystery of her family and I don’t think this was done very well. There are boxes of her dad’s things in storage that contain clues and could have started this in a much better way for me. Further, at no point is how the Whiz Bang machine works or creates smoke messages ever questioned, even though it’s nearly sentient.

Now, having criticized the book, I enjoyed many parts of it. I like the idea of rival families and a feud centuries old. I liked the characters having to go to the library to do searching for documents not on the internet. I liked that they had to travel to Europe to find out more. There were good chase scenes in several places and the tension in them worked for me.

badge2v4I’m not sure where I stand on the next book. If I knew it was the last book of the series, I would be more interested in it. I’m not curious enough to search it out. For that reason, I give this book a high two. Some good points but it didn’t come together enough for me to give it a three.

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

Nightshades by Melissa F. Olson

The world knows that vampires, or shades, exist, but not everyone really believes it. The agency created to police shades, the Bureau of Paranormal Investigations, is a joke. But Alex McKenna wants to change both those things, while keeping the world as safe as possible.

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

NightshadesTitle:  Nightshades
Author:  Melissa F. Olson
Series: stand alone (for now)
Publish Date:  July 19, 2016
Genre:  Supernatural thriller
Source: NetGalley

Publisher’s DescriptionAlex McKenna is the new Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago office of the Bureau of Paranormal Investigations—the division tasked with investigating crimes involving shades.

Or vampires, as they’re more widely known.

Children have been going missing, and agents are routinely being slaughtered. It’s up to McKenna, and some unlikely allies, to get to the bottom of the problem, and find the kids before it’s too late.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

What drew me to this book: So far, I’ve liked everything I’ve read from Melissa F. Olson. Nightshades looks very different than her other series, but it is still paranormal and the description sounds intriguing.

Why I kept reading: Nightshades is a good novella. I’d call it more of a supernatural thriller than a true urban fantasy, though it will appeal to fans of both genres. The story is told third-person from the perspective of several characters, most of them involved in an FBI-like mission to solve teen kidnappings and stop it.

Nightshades feels like the introduction to a new series.  In it, we see Alex McKenna and his right-hand man, Chase Eddy, take over the Chicago office of the Bureau of Paranormal Investigations, an office whose staff has recenbadge4v4tly been slaughtered by shade activity.  Alex and Chase choose their team, including an unconventional “consultant,” and go after the shade that is kidnapping teens and killing citizens in the Chicago area.

After this “origin story” and introductory mission, I hope we get to see more of Alex and his Chicago-based team.

Why I recommend it: This is a great novella to pick up for a quick read.  It is a complete story in itself, and hints there might be more to come.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed. 🙂

Nervous Nellie says…

This story is a mystery/thriller type supernatural read.  There isn’t a cliffhanger…not really.  The storyNervous_Nellie_100 is completed, but there is a seriously good lead in to hopefully the next book.  Please? Please? I’d love another book!! No sex, a little violence but nothing horrific.

Melissa Olson is a genius writer.  She has the flexibility to switch between series and the characters maintain their own individuality.  I have yet to read a book she’s written that I haven’t loved.

In this book, the protagonist that takes the lead is male where the author’s other series are female.  She does a good job writing for him and I can picture him as a suit and tie idealist. Typical Fed.  Less than Men in Black, but more than the Untouchables. The really cool thing is as she writes, she turns badge5v4him into an agent that actually might be worth his salt.  I got interested in him as an agent and then as a person. Sure, he’s looking for a promotion and the glory of the collar, but the author slowly has him evolve into an agent that’s willing to put his life on the line for everyone.

It’s interesting how the author introduces “shades” or vampires into the equation.  Shades are basically cast as a vampire. Kind of a Silence of the Lambs type of creature.  The author lured me into thinking they were all the same, but, just like humans, shades come in all shapes and sizes.  There are shade brown nosers that I’d like to squish under my shoe and then there are the psychopaths.  There are also those that just want to be left alone to live their life.  The zealots want humans as food and conservatives want to mainstream. Typical vampire propaganda.

The author takes the reader on a ride by feeding little bits of information and letting the reader’s mind run away with them.  When I think I’ve got it pegged, the author adds to the scenario and unbalances me again.  It’s an evolving story with a thriller aspect that is very hard to put down. Hats off, Ms. Olson.  You’ve done it again.

If you like this book…

…you might try the Harmony Black series by Craig Schaefer or 9mm Blues by Keith Melton.

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.