Archives for January 2018
I just finished a book the other day called The Finder by J.E. Lorin and wow! What a great read! This is a brand new author for me and the book description sound like something I’d enjoy so I bought it. It’s kind of a gay romance with a serial killer twist. The blurb is as follows:
At the age of sixteen, August Goodson developed a strange and mysterious power overnight: he can find people. Victims of murder, suicide, kidnapping, accidents, and rape; August can find them all, usually dead, but sometimes still alive. Nine years later finds August volunteering his services to the police. He’s still smarting from the loss of his long-time love Dante, who cheated on him with his best friend, and harbors a deep crush on the incredibly handsome, and oh-so-straight, Detective Luke Williams. But there are bigger concerns on August’s mind: a serial killer is loose in the city, one whose victims are a little too much like him for comfort. When August finds a living victim who may be one of the serial killer’s, he’s drawn even deeper into the case. Will he make it out alive, or will he soon be the one in need of finding?
In Augie’s Head
Our main character, August (but everyone calls him “Augie”) can hear voices of victims who call to him, often begging him to find them. The kicker is that the victims can be dead or alive. In this way, Augie is able to find the bodies of murder victims, so he’s become a valuable asset to the local police department.
The story is told from Augie’s point of view, so I found it especially fascinating to be in his head when the victim’s call out to him and to experience first hand what he undergoes when he finds the body he’s looking for.
It’s also worth mentioning that Augie is somewhat broken because of a bad breakup. Because of this, he comes across as rather bristly and never allows anyone to get truly close to him. Given that we are privy to this thoughts and feelings, we can understand his reluctance to let anyone it. August certainly comes with a lot of baggage. But even so, he is a strong and brave character — someone just needs to break down the impenetrable barriers that surround him.
Luke, the of the police officers whom Augie works with (and who’s also quite hunky) is determined to bring Augie out of his shell. Luke, along with Augie’s best friend Cherry, slowly help to break down his barriers. In the process, Luke and Augie’s friendship deepens and slowly turns into a romance. Their romance is slow, tender and sweet — definitely a slow-burn situation as Augie is still unsure if he’s ready to move their relationship to the next level and able to overcome his past. But lucky for him, Luke is patient, tenacious but gentle. He’s the ultimate perfect boyfriend.
Enter the Serial Killer
Many of the recent bodies that Augie has “found” are the victims of a recent serial killer who is targeting young gay men who resemble August. As bodies begin to pile up, Augie feels increasingly responsible and retreats even further into himself, especially once his friends come under attack. Augie becomes drawn even more deeply into the case when he finds a living victim who Augie suspects is one the serial killer’s. Then, things become especially dire for August once he becomes the main focus of our killer.
Now I will say that there are some hints peppered throughout the story as to the identity of the serial killer, making it possible to figure it out early on. But this in no way takes away anything from the story. Even though we might suspect the killer’s identity, we have no idea how it will all unfold. I found it fascinating to learn why he murdered all those young men and how their murder is connected to our hero.
As I mentioned above, I loved this book. The characters were strong and excellently developed, and I liked that the secondary characters were just as vivid as our main character. They really came alive in this story. The book also had perfect pace and a gripping storyline, with a lot of compelling twists and plenty of surprises which kept me turning the page.
And even though there was a romance between Luke and Augie, I appreciated the fact that the book wasn’t filled with one sex scene after another. The Finder was more about the story than about the sex. The book definitely has it’s creepy parts, but the author kept the gruesome and vivid descriptions of the murder scenes to a minimum.
All in all, it was an enjoyable well-written book, and I am so glad that I read it. This was one of those stories that I kept thinking about several days after I completed the book. Recommended!
You can check out The Finder HERE
I’m a sucker for a good ghost story, so I recently read a book entitled “Anna Dressed in Blood” by Kendare Blake, which was quite different from the ghost stories you typically read.
Our hero is Cas Lowood, a loner teenager who kills ghosts with his deadly ghost-hunting knife. Cas doesn’t kill all ghosts he comes across — only those ghosts who harm people. We learn that he inherited his profession and the knife from his father who was killed under mysterious circumstances by an especially nasty ghost. Cas works on building up his ghost-hunting skills, and once they’re good enough, he plans on avenging his father’s death by destroying the ghost that murdered him.
Since his father’s murder, Cas and his mother, who is a white witch, travel the country following rumors of murderous ghosts. Cas makes a point of never making friends or connections because he knows he never stays long in one place; there’s always a new ghost to hunt in a new city.
Following a local legend about an especially vicious ghost named Anna, Cas and his mom end up in Thunder Bay. Anna was brutally murdered in 1958, and since then, numerous disappearances have been blamed on her. But Anna is not like any ghost that Cas has ever encountered before. She is extremely powerful, tormented and full of rage — and she wears the same dress she did the day she was murdered: stained red with blood (hence the book’s title).
Anna also kills anyone who dares to enter her old Victorian homestead by tearing them apart, so the story was rather frightening and bloody at times. Anna was definitely one scary girl! She is also the most fearsome ghost Cass has ever encountered. But…all is not as it seems with Anna.
The story is told from Cas’s point of view, and I loved his character. He was cocky (perhaps a tad arrogant), self-assured and brave but had a sensitive side as well and turns out to be quite a likable character. The author did an excellent job of portraying what it is that makes our young protagonist tick. His deadpan humor really added a nice touch to this character. I loved how his character evolved from a closed-off loner to a more open, caring person with actual friends.
Equally impressive were the vivid secondary characters Thomas (a mind-reading nerd), Caramel (a high school Queen Bee), his mother (a lovable kitchen-witch) and of course our ghost, tortured Anna, who is at first ultimately terrifying but there is a lot more to her than meets the eye.
All in all, the characters were complex, well-developed and humorous, and each had an important role to play in the book. By the end of the story, you had a feeling as though you knew each of them well.
Anna Dressed in Blood is a suspenseful, well-told compelling tale with an unexpected twist at the end. The action was fast-paced and exciting, and the numerous twists and turns definitely keep the reader guessing. The ending and the plot were not predictable (at least I didn’t think so) and were refreshingly original. While it’s certainly a horror story filled with action, gore and mystery, it’s also a story of redemption with a touch of romance.
This is a story that pulls you right in and keeps you interested until the very end — or at least it did for me. I really loved this story and all of the characters. I usually have a niggle or two with most books I read but there were none for me in this book. It was amazing.
I was also happy to learn that there’s a sequel entitled “The Girl of Nightmares” which I’ll definitely be reading (note: there was no cliffhanger at the end of Anna Dressed in Blood – the storyline was completely resolved at the end). I am so happy I discovered this author and will happily read her other books. Recommended!
You can check out Anna Dressed in Blood HERE
A while ago, I purchased a series of books entitled “The Warlock Brothers of Havenbridge” by Jacob Z. Flores and I ended up forgetting all about them until recently when I was browsing through my “To Read” list on my Kindle. For some reason, I’d purchased the entire four-book series at once, something I typically don’t do unless I’ve read at least one of the books in the series. But I must have been encouraged by positive reviews to get them all at once.
Anyway, I finally started the series with the first book, “Spell Bound”, a young adult (rated R) paranormal story. The main character is Mason Blackmore, a high school tough guy and one of three warlock brothers (their dad is a warlock as well). While Mason’s father and brothers are powerful warlocks, Mason’s active power has yet to surface, so his spells never turn out quite the way he intended, leading him to feel that he is a disappointment to his family.
The Blackmoors along with two other families: a family of witches who use white magic and a family of wizards who use gray magic are charged with protecting the source of all magic in the world call “The Gate”. Mason’s family uses black magic, though it’s not the type of “evil” magic we see with Voldemort on Harry Potter; instead, a warlock’s black magic is dark, powerful and sometimes selfish.
The Murder and The Stranger
The story kicks off with a dead body showing up on the football field at Mason’s high school. At the same time, Mason encounters a new kid at school: cocky, self-confident Drake Carpenter, who immediately rubs Mason the wrong way.
Drake appears to dislike Mason as well, and Mason can’t help but wonder whether Drake’s appearance has anything to do with the dead girl found at school. He suspects that Drake may be a magical being of some kind and sure enough, Mason later encounters Drake out in the woods running and jumping in a somewhat non-human manner. Mason assumes the new kid is a shifter.
Mason & Drake
Thus far, Mason and Drake appear to have an intense dislike for each other, but that seems to change after Mason saves Drake’s life in the town square. Though our young warlock tells himself that he dislikes the cocky Drake, he also can’t deny his attraction to him.
The two eventually get together, finally acknowledging their mutual attraction and overcome their initial misunderstanding of one another. It also appears to be no coincidence that right after Drake showed up on Mason’s life, Mason was able to tap into his active power.
But it’s not going to be an easy road for either of them.
Another murder leads to the appearance of The Conclave — a council of mysterious, hooded and extremely powerful warlocks, witches, and wizards who typically only show up in dire circumstances. Their strange behavior concerns the magical families, and instead of helping with the danger, the Conclave seems to be ignoring it.
Things become more dangerous for the Mason and Drake in the coming days, leading to a nearly lethal battle with a powerful foe, which threatens the existence of all three magical families. At the end of the book, the battle may be won, but not the war. We distinctly get the feeling that there’s more danger ahead. But for now, there is a rest from strife and a “happy for now” ending.
Though Mason initially comes across as a surly teen, his overly tough exterior melts once Drake comes into the picture and he transforms into a likable, complex character. This well-told gripping story contained elements of mystery, romance, danger, suspense, young love, grief and magic with excellent plot and character development. I loved the chemistry and innocence between Mason and Drake and enjoyed seeing both of their characters grow. The romance in the story wasn’t rushed but proceeded slowly and cautiously.
I look forward to reading more about the warlock brothers and look forward to the next book in the series. Recommended!
You can check out Spell Bound HERE
“Within this story, it’s clear that the dragon is the weak one. He is completely at the mercy of the boy, even when the boy is depicted in the story as his servant.” ~ Dr. Philbert Jones
I’ve read many shifter books over the years. I’ve also read many books about dragons. But this is the first dragon shifter book that I’ve read and found it to be not only original but also very well done. In the world where this book takes place, all of the magical creatures (called “Beings” in the book) have recently come out of the closet: Fairies, Elves, Werewolves, Trolls, and Dragons.
The book starts out with a job interview – young research assistant Arthur MacArthur is interviewing for a job working for a Dragon-shifter, Dr. Philbert Jones (“but please, call me Bertie”). Dr. Jones greets Alex while in his dragon form and Alex, who’s more than a little freaked out by the enormous dragon in front of him, fears that Dr. Jones is going to eat him. But of course, the dragon doesn’t eat him (which would have made for a very short story).
A Sexy Dragon?
Once back in his human form, we learn that Bertie, our dragon-shifter, is a brilliant (and sexy!) historian in the process of writing a book about the now extinct Red Dragon and he’s in need of someone to assist him in organizing his research and his books. He hires Arthur on the spot and Arthur can’t deny the strong attraction he feels for his new boss.
As the days progress, Arthur tries to make sense out of his feelings for his boss. It sometimes seems that Bertie is flirting with him – or is it just Arthur’s imagination? Arthur can’t be sure. But he vows to deny his feelings/attraction for Bertie and keep his relationship with his boss strictly professional, which turns out to be not at easy thing to do.
Burning for the Dragon
This is definitely a sensual, slow burn romance as the two characters slowly get to know each other and grow closer as the book progresses No insta-love here! The interaction and the slow build between the two of them is sweet and romantic and left me feeling as though I really knew them by the end of the book. I really loved the dynamic and the chemistry between the two characters.
One thing I especially liked about this book was that there wasn’t a sex scene every ten pages like you see in so many romance novels. In fact, we have to wait until nearly the end of the book until these two finally get together in a lovely, sensual scene — but it’s definitely worth the wait.
This sweet and playful story is not only about love, but also about the true meaning of treasure. It’s a story with plenty of heart, humor, and self-discovery. I was pleased to learn that this book is part of a series entitled “Beings in Love” and I definitely plan on reading more books in this series. Recommended!