Fresh Face Friday: Cryptid Girl by J.R Mallette

***Sorry guys didn’t realize this didn’t post yesterday***

Happy Friday!  I hope everyone has had a wonderful week.  Today I am spotlighting Cryptid Girl by J.R Mallette.  This is a good urban fantasy novel that brings in the mythology of the Chupacabra and puts it in a novel that captivates you from the beginning.  This is definitely a must read if your interested in those unexplained myths like Bigfoot, Yeti and Lochness Monster.  For my full review be sure to keep reading after the book blurb. I hope you all have a great weekend and pick up a good book if your snowed in.

18652242Book Blurb: (courtesy of Goodreads)

A traumatic spelunking experience leaves Lorna McHaley haunted by disquieting nightmares regarding the deaths of people close to her. They disrupt every aspect of her life, especially her relationship with her best friend, Paige. One by one Lorna’s nightmares come true; each victim is killed by a terrible monster she claims attacked her in the cave. Lorna struggles between her own possible madness and the belief that the creature truly exists. With Lorna on the verge of a breakdown, Paige must uncover the secret of the mysterious cryptid. When she does, it will mean betraying Lorna and sending her into ruin

Review:

Lorna goes astray from the spelunking party after getting sidetracked by the sights.  When she tries finding the party she ends up having a horrible experience and is attacked by an animal she had never seen before.  After her horrible incident she returns to her life with horrible nightmares of the creature she was attacked by attacking people she knew.  When Lorna confides in her friend Paige about the creature that those in Mexico called El Chupacabra, Paige is skeptical until Paige witnesses something that confirms Lorna’s worries.  With Lorna’s familial link to mental illness everyone she confides, in except for Paige,  think she has finally succumbed to her mother’s schizophrenia.  Paige does all she can to help Lorna until helping Lorna threatens Paige and her loved ones.  Will Paige be able to save Lorna before more people die or will Paige herself meet the Chupacabra?

This was a great paranormal suspense novel.  It really had a great subject in the mythological Chupacabra.  This story takes you on a ride where it keeps you wondering what is really going on with Lorna.  J.R Mallette does a great job bringing you into the story.  You really can feel for Paige and what she goes through.  This story may start by focusing on Lorna’s story but in the middle it really flips to Paige and she becomes more relatable than Lorna.  Your heart will break at points but there are bits that really make up for the heart-break.  Overall, this is a short well written novel with a full story and developed characters.  This is a great story for those interested in mythological creatures wrapped in a suspenseful plot.

Author Bio: (courtesy of Goodreads)

I grew up in northeast Nebraska in a town with fewer than 600 people. There wasn’t much to distract my over-active imagination, so at age ten I started putting short stories down on paper. The idea of writing a full blown novel didn’t manifest until I was twenty-two and a senior in college. I never thought much of my writing and neither did anyone else until I was required to take an advanced writing course the second semester of my senior year. The professor took each student aside at the beginning of the semester and asked us about our inhibitions regarding her class. I told her that I just didn’t feel like I was that great of a writer. I’ll never forget the words the professor, Patricia Trautrimas, spoke to me after I aced our final project: “See, you really CAN write!” That birthed the mindset that I was more than capable of putting together a solid, well-built novel

Fresh Face Friday: Try Not to Burn by Michael David Matula

Happy Friday!  I hope everyone is ready for the weekend.  I know its gonna be a wet one here but it’s still the weekend so that counts.  Today I have the opportunity to feature Michael David Matula and his book, Try Not to Burn.  This was definitely a unique story.  It takes the reader to places they dare not think about.  Into a world that most people live their lives to avoid.  Be sure to check out my full review after the Book Blurb.  I hope everyone has an enjoyable weekend and be sure to check in Monday for two reviews!

Book Blurb:

16036270Officer Brandon Morales remembers the last smile he ever saw.  It was the smile of the serial killer who shot him at point blank range.  When Brand awakens, it’s into a much darker world than the one he left.

Purgatory.  The inmates call it “Hell City.”  The demons who populate this nightmare simply know it as the first stage of the Gauntlet, God’s own testing ground for the immortal soul.  It’s a grinder; a massive pit that chews up the worst criminals society has to offer.  Souls go in, and they rarely come out.

Traffic violations and little white lies aren’t enough to condemn a soul to this level of purgatory.  Only a cardinal sin can seal that fate. Hell City is like a maximum security penitentiary, if the warden left the cells unlocked and waved the guards goodbye.  The inmates roam freely, many delighting in the carnage, finding satisfaction in an infinite number of victims.

Brand doesn’t want to admit that he might have earned his place here.  It all seems like a cruel joke to him.  The courts acquitted him of his crimes.  They deemed it self-defense.  He never told anyone what had truly happened that one night, when he gunned down two robbers in cold blood.  Even he had started to believe his innocence.

He has only one chance to make up for what he did.  If he can survive the Gauntlet, he can earn a second chance at life.  If he fails at any point, flames will engulf him and drag him straight to Hell.

Trying to make sense of it all, Brand stumbles across two women with sordid pasts: Samantha Reiss, a tough-as-nails bank robber who died from lethal injection, and Jane Calrin, a teenage girl who ate a bullet after committing an unthinkable crime of passion.  Despite what they had done, Brand can’t help but see the good hiding within them.  They seem worthy of forgiveness, and worthy of redemption.

However, when a horde of inmates descend upon their doorstep, Brand, Sam and Jane are forced out of their meager hiding place and into the untamed depths of the afterlife.  With their souls hanging in the balance, and eternal damnation never more than one wrong turn away, these three strangers will need to put their trust in one another in order to stay one step ahead of the flames of Hell.

The Gauntlet trials are not for the faint of heart.  Purgatory creates another challenge whenever the current one is overcome.  The city park, Eden, becomes anything but a paradise, and is prowled by unseen, whispering threats that can tear a man to pieces.  The underground sanctuary, the Grotto, becomes home to burrowing monsters and unimaginable behemoths.

All is not lost, though.  There might just be a guardian angel lurking somewhere within purgatory.  And if Brand can find him, he and his new friends would gain an ally that could turn the tide in their favor.

But when enemies pose as trusted friends, when lost loves crumble the will to continue, and when hidden desires threaten to tear allegiances apart, it will take more than faith and determination to pass God’s final test.

It will take a miracle

Review:

We first meet Officer Brandon Morales at what should have been a routine traffic stop.  The only difference is that this traffic stop ends his mortal life and thrusts him into Hell City.  Hell City is a purgatory for molesters, killers and any other kind of deviant you can think of.  When Brand awakes he meets two women Jane and Sam.   Both have managed to survive Hell City but the dangers that are occurring daily threaten everyone’s lives.  Though they are already dead the threat of getting Burned is imminent and an idea that is a fate worse than death.  So, the trio set out to survive together.  Unfortunately, they find allies aren’t really allies and trust is wavering and very fragile.  When Brand almost gets burned more than once an option to survive and possibly get out is given to him.  He must find the soul could help him and his friends survive and get redemption.  The only problem is that is not as easy as it sounds and they don’t know who they are looking for.  In a place where devils abound they must find a possible angel to guide them to safety and life after death.  Can the allies work together to survive or will obstacles and diversions tear them and their chances for surviving apart?

This was a really enjoyable read.  I thought the premise was unique and well written.  The story itself is enough to scare people into being a better person.  I really enjoyed the back stories of the characters and the opportunities and challenges that are given to the trio.  I thought Brand’s character was good, but really felt that his back story of his purpose of being thrown into Hell City was a bit strained considering Brand became a police officer for reasons other than those of why he was in purgatory.  I also thought Jane and Sam were wonderful supporting characters that both helped the story and Brand’s character to grow.  Overall, it was a great read and I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good paranormal suspense book.  It gives the reader so much to enjoy and reads very well.

Author Bio:

6536141Michael Matula is a novelist from Chicago, IL, and a current member of the Chicago Writers Association and the SCBWI. Michael once dreamed of becoming a comic book artist, sketching pictures and caption bubbles in class when he really should have been studying. Unable to draw fast enough to keep up with all the ideas and storylines he came up with, he wrote out a side story for one of his characters. He ended up falling in love with writing and never really looked back.

His first book, Try Not to Burn, was released in September 2012 by Post Mortem Press.

He’s currently working on the sequel, and a sample of one of his novels won the top prize on Authonomy.com after being ranked at #1 overall.

Author Profile: Ilona Andrews

I know…I know…I’m a day late from my promise.  But, here it is.  My author profile this week is about Ilona Andrews.  She writes the Kate Daniels series.  I am currently on book 4 of this series, Magic Bleeds.

Ilona Andrews is actually a pseudonym for a husband and wife writing team.  Ilona is Russian-born and came to America when she was a teenager.  Her husband Gordon is a former communications Sergent in the U.S Army.  They met in their freshman English class in college at Western Carolina University.  Gordon helped write and submit Ilona’s first novel, Magic Bites.  They have been a writing team ever since.  Ilona and Gordon currently reside in Texas with their two children and many dogs and cats.

The team of Ilona and Gordon do an extraordinary job at creating a familiar world with a twist of magic and paranormal.  Their writing style has allowed for them to have two bestselling series’ that have appeared on the NYT and USAT bestseller lists.  I have only read one of their series’ but am very impressed.  I know it is difficult to differentiate yourself in an already flooded genre.  But, somehow they have distinguished themselves.

I am currently reading Magic Bleeds which is part of the Kate Daniels series.  I was actually apprehensive to begin reading this series.  I was unsure it would keep my attention. Boy am I glad I gave it a shot.  I have been listening to it in audio book form and now feel I need to physically read this series too.  The writing is very good and the interactions between the characters are natural and very funny.  Kate Daniels as a character is phenomenal.  I would compare her to Anita Blake or MacKayla Lane.  They all could be friends if they knew each other.  These books are more paranormal suspense/thriller then romance.  But, that doesn’t say that Kate doesn’t have her drama in that department.  I would definitely recommend reading the Kate Daniels series especially if you are a fan of Anita Blake.

Here is an Excerpt from Ilona Andrews’ first book in the Kate Daniels series, Magic Bites:

I sat at a table in my shadowy kitchen, staring down a bottle of Boone’s Farm Hard Lemonade, when a magic fluctuation hit. My wards shivered and died, leaving my home stripped of its defenses. The TV flared into life, unnaturally loud in the empty house.
I raised my eyebrow at the bottle and bet it that another urgent bulletin was on.

The bottle lost.

“Urgent bulletin!” Margaret Chang announced. “‘The Attorney General advises all citizens that any attempt at summoning or other activities resulting in the appearance of a being of supernatural power can be hazardous to yourself and to other citizens.”

“No shit,” I told the bottle.

“Local police have been authorized to subdue any such activities with all due force.”

Margaret droned on, while I bit into my sandwich. Who were they kidding? No police force could hope to squash every summoning. It took a qualified wizard to detect a summoning in progress. It required only a half-literate idiot with a twitch of power and a dim idea of how to use it to attempt one. Before you knew it, a three-headed Slavonic god was wreaking havoc in downtown Atlanta, the skies were raining winged snakes, and SWAT was screaming for more ammo. These were unsafe times. But then in safer times, I’d be a woman without a job. The safe tech-world had little use for a magic-touting mercenary like me.

When people had trouble of a magic kind, the kind of trouble that cops couldn’t or wouldn’t handle, they called the Mercenary Guild. If the job happened to fall into my territory, the Guild then called me. I grimaced and rubbed my hip. It still ached after the last job, but the wound had healed better than I expected. That was the first and last time I would agree to go against the Impala Worm without full body armor. The next time they better furnish me with a level four containment suit.

An icy wave of fear and revulsion hit me. My stomach lurched, sending acid to coat the root of my tongue with a bitter aftertaste. Shivers ran along my spine, and the tiny hairs on my neck stood on their ends.

Something bad was in my house.

I put down my sandwich and pushed the volume button of the remote control, reducing the TV to a low hum. On the screen Margaret Chang was joined by a brick-faced man with a high-and-tight haircut and eyes like slate. A cop. Probably Paranormal Activity Division. I put my hand on the dagger that rested on my lap and sat very still.

Listening. Waiting.

No sound troubled the silence. A drop of water formed on the sweaty surface of the Boone’s Farm bottle and slid down its glistening side.

Something large crawled along the hallway ceiling into the kitchen. I pretended not to see it. It stopped to the left of me and slightly behind, so I didn’t have to pretend very hard.

The intruder hesitated, turned, and anchored itself in the corner, where the ceiling met the wall. It sat there, fastened to the paneling by enormous yellow talons, still and silent like a gargoyle in full sunlight. I took a swig from the bottle and set it so I could see the creature’s reflection. Nude and hairless, it didn’t carry a single ounce of fat on its skeletal frame and every dry, hard cord of muscle was clearly visible beneath its taut pallid hide.

Your friendly neighborhood Spiderman.

The creature raised its left hand. The dagger talons diced the empty air, back and forth, like curved knitting needles. It turned its head doglike and studied me with eyes luminescent with a particular kind of madness, born of bestial blood thirst and free of any thought or restraint.

In a single motion I whipped around and hurled the dagger. The black blade sliced cleanly into the creature’s throat.

The vampire froze. Its yellow claws stopped moving.

Thick, almost purplish blood swelled around the blade and slowly slid down the naked flesh of the vampire’s neck, staining its chest and dripping on the floor. The vampire’s features twisted, trying to morph into a different face. It opened its maw, displaying twin fangs that glistened with yellow like miniature ivory sickles.

“That was extremely inconsiderate, Kate,” Ghastek’s voice said from the vampire’s throat. “Now I have to feed him.”

“It’s a reflex. Hear a bell, get food. See an undead, throw a knife. Same thing, really.”

The vampire’s face jerked as if the Master of the Dead controlling it tried to squint.

“What are you drinking?” Ghastek asked.

“Boone’s Farm.”

“You can afford better.”

“I don’t want better. I like Boone’s Farm. And I prefer to do business by phone and with you, not at all.”

“I don’t wish to hire you, Kate. This is merely… a social call.”

I stared at the vampire, wishing I could put my knife into Ghastek’s throat. It would feel very good cutting into his flesh. Unfortunately he sat in an armored room many miles away.

“You enjoy screwing with me, don’t you, Ghastek?”

“Immensely.”

The million-dollar question was why. “What is it you want? Make it quick, my Boone’s Farm’s getting warm.”

“I was just wondering,” Ghastek said with dry neutrality particular only to him, “when was the last time you saw your guardian?”

The nonchalance in his voice sent tiny cold shivers down my spine. “Why?”

“No reason. As always, a pleasure.”

In a single powerful leap the vampire detached itself from the wall and flew through the open window, taking my knife with it.

For more information about Ilona Andrews you can visit her website:  www.ilona-andrews.com.  For more information about the Kate Daniels series you can go to Barnes and Noble, Amazon or any other Book Retailer.

Review: The Laughing Corpse (Anita Blake #2) by Laurell K. Hamilton

I am finally crossing off a book from my  TBR (To Be Read) Summer Reading list.  The first of many is The Laughing Corpse by Laurell K. Hamilton. This is the second book in her Anita Blake series.

In the second book of the Anita Blake series, we find Anita still raising zombies for Animators, Inc and waist deep in gore and dead bodies.  Anita is called in by the police to help investigate some very gory crimes.  Families are targeted and everything is pointing to an uncontrolled zombie.  On top of helping police she is being pursued by a very wealthy man who wants her to raise an over 200 yr old zombie.  He is offering to pay a large sum, but to raise this dead she would have to have a human sacrifice.  Anita refuses at every turn, but the two cases collide in a very shocking way.  Power, death and suspense are the common themes in this book.  We see very little of Jean-Claude, the new Master Vampire of the City.  But, it is known he continues to try to pursue a relationship that Anita is trying to brush off all the while trying to investigate the horrible crimes committed by this rogue zombie.

Overall, I thought this was a really good book.  I read through it quickly and it moved very well.  It did set up the next book, Circus of the Damned, and introduced new characters.  Some of the content was very graphic and I had to put it down a few times because of it.  I wouldn’t recommend anyone underage to read this book.  I think it could be a bit too graphic (violence).  I am excited to continue the series to see what is in store for Anita Blake.  I have already started Circus of the Damned, which is not on my Summer TBR list but sometimes you just need a divergence to move forward in you reading.

For more information about The Laughing Corpse by Laurell K. Hamilton go to Barnes and Noble, Amazon or any other book retailer.  For my Summer TBR list you can check it out here: http://wp.me/p2is8i-4j

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