Review Round-Up for our October reads

12087236_10154263570968696_5735409078405643180_oDear readers, we hope that you have enjoyed these autumn months, and that you celebrated Halloween in style. It would be great to see your Halloween photo’s!! This was my attempt (right) at being a vampiress at a much-loved friend’s birthday party – a friend who is absolutely hooked on Halloween, and then celebrated her birthday in style by going to New York and visiting Central Park at this real beautiful time of year!

And, how time seems to be sprinting by this year, with Thanksgiving only a few days away, and Christmas a few weeks!

During October we had 12 fab reads to review for you from Tim O’Rourke‘s Beautiful Immortals series 2 release to international best-selling author Catherine McKenzie‘s Smoke. We had a cheeky contemporary comedy horror short with Deborah Melanie‘s Vivian’s Vampire and the dark horror/sci-fi of J.G. Clay‘s Tales of Blood and Sulphur: Apocalypse Minor. Not to mention the many romances and paranormals in between. We hope you enjoy our selection of reads, as always.

Much love.

Caroline & Tina ❤

(As always, please click on the title and author for our full review)

Living the DreamLiving the Dream by Celia J. Anderson, contemporary romance (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: When dreams and reality crash and mingle, escape can be the hardest challenge of all.

Longing to get away from her troubled marriage, the opportunity to cross America by train seems like a dream come true for Vita Craythorne. But charismatic travel agent Moriarty Miles has other ideas; by replacing their mutual friend Jack on the trip, Vita has unwittingly set herself up as a guinea pig for Moriarty’s mind-blowing and potentially dangerous virtual-travelling project. His plan is to give clients the holiday of a lifetime without ever having to leave the comfort of their own homes. It’s exciting. It’s time-saving. It’s innovative. Maybe this trip is just what Vita needs? That is, if she can avoid becoming trapped inside her own, miraculous dream world.

Vampires of Maze 1Vampires of Maze (Beautiful Immortals, Series 2, Book 1) by Tim O’Rourke, paranormal romance, thriller adventure (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: From Tim O’Rourke #1 bestselling author of ‘Werewolves of Shade’ (Beautiful Immortals Series One) comes ‘Vampires of Maze’ (Beautiful Immortals Series Two) a vampire and werewolf romance with a twist.

Witch, Julia Miller, has been sent by the Wicce to bring an end to the war that rages between the Beautiful Immortals. Joining a pack of werewolves, Julia must travel with them to a land unknown to her. Here she will learn the horrifying truth about the dark secrets hidden in the town of Maze.

To stay alive, Julia will not only have to figure out who to trust but also who to love. For Julia’s worst nightmares are about to get a whole lot more terrifying as she heads into the war raging between the vampires and werewolves where even her own magic abilities won’t be able to protect her.

Into the UnknowmInto the Unknown by Lorna Peel, historical romance (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: London on 3 September 1939 is in upheaval. War is inevitable. Into this turmoil steps Kate Sheridan newly arrived from Ireland to live with her aunt and uncle and look for work. When she meets Flight Lieutenant Charlie Butler sparks fly, but he is a notorious womaniser. Should she ignore all the warnings and get involved with a ladies man whose life will be in daily danger?

Charlie Butler has no intention of getting involved with a woman. But when he meets Kate his resolve is shattered. Should he allow his heart to rule his head and fall for a nineteen-year-old Irish girl while there is a war to fight?

Private conflicts and personal doubts are soon overshadowed. Will the horrors of total war bring Kate and Charlie together or tear them apart?

SmokeSmoke by Catherine McKenzie, contemporary women’s fiction, mystery drama, chicklit (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: From the internationally bestselling author Catherine McKenzie comes an evocative tale of two women navigating the secrets and lies at the heart of a wildfire threatening their town.

After a decade-long career combating wildfires, Elizabeth has traded in her former life for a quieter one with her husband. Now she works as the local arson investigator in a beautiful, quaint town in the Rockies. But that tranquil life vanishes when she and her husband agree to divorce and a fire in nearby Cooper Basin begins to spread rapidly. For Elizabeth, containing a raging wildfire is easier than accepting that her marriage has failed.

For Elizabeth’s ex-friend Mindy, who feels disconnected from her husband and teenage children, the fire represents a chance to find a new purpose: helping a man who has lost his home to the blaze. But her faith is shattered by a shocking accusation.

As the encroaching inferno threatens the town’s residents, Elizabeth and Mindy must discover what will be lost in the fire, and what will be saved.

White HeatWhite Heat by Serge de Moliere, erotic romance (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: A frigid wilderness. A blazing encounter.

In the frigid wilderness of Northern Canada, Carol treks through the snow, desperate to escape her violent and obsessed husband, Dugan. Unprepared for the harsh conditions, she soon finds herself trapped in the ice. She’s rescued by Josh, a loner who has fled society for his own reasons, and he brings her to his isolated cabin.

Carol and Josh are trapped together in the cabin as a snowstorm rages outside. Soon neither of them can fight their building desire, giving in to the temptation of shared heat and intimacy. Josh is nothing like the man Carol fled. He brings out feelings in her she’d long since suppressed.

But Dugan is hunting for her, and he plans to have his revenge on any man who dares share her company…

prettyPretty When You Cry (Stripped #3) by Skye Warren, dark erotic romance (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: A new dark romance novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Wanderlust and Prisoner…

I came from a place of dirt floors and holy scriptures. They told me the world outside was full of sin, and the first night I escape, I find out it’s true. Ivan saves me, but he does more than that. He takes me. He makes me his own girl.

My conditioning runs too deep. Ivan sees what I am.

That’s the thing about showing a mouse to a cat. He wants to play. And it’s terrifying, even for me. Because the only thing darker than my past is his.

Jace (River Pack Wolves 2) for Kindle_28Jace (River Pack Wolves #2) by Alisa Woods, NA paranormal romance (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: His wolf is out of control. She’s a wild thing that won’t be tamed.
Ex-Army Specialist Jace River has a lock on his bedroom door, but it’s not to keep anyone out; it’s to keep his nightmares from breaking loose. His wolf is an out-of-control killer, which means he can never risk shifting, never truly be part of his pack, and definitely never take a mate.

Piper Wilding works for the Army as a civilian, traveling the world for her work in counterintelligence and fighting the bad guys while bedding down the good ones. The best part? It keeps her far from her asshole father in Seattle, the rest of the Wilding pack, and the pressure to take a mate. Settling down isn’t her thing, and after what happened to her mother, Piper vowed she would never be tied down by magic or men again.

While Jace’s wolf keeps him Sleepless in Seattle, Piper returns home to find her missing kid brother. When she breaks into the River brother’s safehouse, sparks fly and claws come out. Her sexy skills threaten to bring out Jace’s wolf, and Jace’s good-guy hotness reminds Piper how tempting shifter men can be. They’re like fire and gasoline, and as they race to find Piper’s brother, the heat threatens to burn down all their carefully constructed walls. But falling in love has never been so dangerous—and being together means taking risks that neither might survive.

Jace is a complete novel with HEA, the second in the River Pack Wolves trilogy (all standalone stories, but best enjoyed if you read them in order!).

Contains scorching hot shifters, alpha military heroes, and sexy spy girls. Only readers over 18 should dive into the deliciously hot world of the River brothers.

BrakeBrake (The Redline Series #3) by Skye Callahan, dark romantic suspense (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: Bitter feud between brothers, Colt and Devlin, speeds out of control.

From Colt’s pawn to Devlin’s captive, Aubrey is caught even deeper in their pact to destroy one another. Imprisoned in darkness, she fights for her life–and her sanity. Her only hope is a cocky and sadistic car thief who is already wrestling with his own demons.

Colt swore he’d never end up in this place again. That he’d never be held captive to heroin or rendered helpless by his brother to watch as another life is destroyed. He’s ready to tear the city apart to find Aubrey, but that’s only if his own mind doesn’t tear him apart first.

Lines have been crossed. Promises broken. Souls shattered. And the worst has only begun.

Note: If you’re looking for rainbows, butterflies, and happy endings coated in chocolate and caramel, turn back now! This story deals with dark themes and intense situations that aren’t suitable for sensitive readers. If you’re looking for an intense roller coaster of emotions and situations that will warp your sense of right and wrong and drag you through the debauched underworld of crime and deceit, then you’re in the right place.

This is a work of serial fiction, so it will be released in distinct parts with no resolute ending until the end of the series.

Watcher Lotus's Journey 2 cj pinardWatcher (Daughter of Darkness): Lotus’s Journey Part II by C.J. Pinard, paranormal mystery romance (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: As hybrid vampire/faery Lotus’s journey has taken her from solving the vampire-committed murders in Denver to Las Vegas, she begins to learn a lot more about herself and the evil vampire of a father who has been searching for her for years. She has to make a decision on whether she’s going to run from Vlad or search for him and confront him as he continues to terrorize her dreams. She wonders if finding him will lead her to her faery mother, or if it will just lead to more death, destruction, and heartbreak.

With the relationship between her sexy neighbor, Drew, and her beginning to blossom, Lotus wonders if she should just give up the search and try to lead a normal life for once. She’s finally found a decent guy who is not only gorgeous, but seems to want to protect her. Something she’s never needed, but is now finding she wants. That is, until she finds out Drew’s got his own secrets.

This is part II of Lotus’s journey. Part III will be out in early 2016.

Dark CityDark City (Nick Harland, British Detective Series #4) by Bill Carson, dark crime (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: A must read for all those who like to sit uncomfortably on the edge of their seats.

Dark City is the fourth book in the Nick Harland detective series. In this one we follow him on his most perplexing and disturbing case to date, as he tracks down a serial killer from the past.
The book begins with an elderly man being released from prison, after serving seventeen years for a double murder. A few days after his release a young woman is snatched from outside a London pub.

The police seem to be dragging their heels, so the family of the missing girl call on the services of the tough, uncompromising ex murder squad detective, turned Private Investigator, Nick Harland. During his initial investigation another girl suddenly goes missing, he then gets a tip off that Charles Thorpe had just been released from prison. Nick knows the killer, as he was the detective who put him behind bars when he was a detective in the murder squad. And so the hunt is now on for Thorpe, and Nick will not rest until Thorpe is found, and he promises that Thorpe will pay the ultimate price for his crimes this time around.

Much more can’t be revealed, as it would give too much of the exciting plot away.
This is a fast paced dark and gritty story, packed with hard hitting action, highs and lows, intrigue and tension. This story has characters, that are good, and sometimes very, very bad. Dark City is crime noir in the truest sense.

Vivian's VampireVivian’s Vampire (short story) by Deborah Melanie, contemporary paranormal comedy horror romance (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: She’s got a scythe, a severed head and she’s looking for love.

Waitress Vivian Shawcross loves a costume party. When Halloween comes along, she can’t wait for the spooky fun to start. However, a mix up over her costume and a road diversion, are just two of the mini disasters she encounters en route to her ghostly night out. Stranded in a remote English village, isn’t her idea of fun, but when a gorgeous vampire is thrown into the equation, Vivian discovers that her fun night out has only just begun. 

Tales of Blood and SulphurTales of Blood and Sulphur: Apocalypse Minor by J.G. Clay, dark horror sci-fi (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: Eleven Tales steeped in Blood and reeking of Sulphur

There are cracks in the skin of Reality. Some are microscopic, others are as wide as a four-lane motorway. As the fault lines increase and widen, the door to our world shines like a beacon in the darkness, a warm and inviting sight to others beyond our understanding. When They cross over into our realm, The Tales begin……

A gambler taking one last desperate throw of the dice. A struggling writer making an unholy alliance. An eternal being fighting to stay alive in the financial capital of India. A man burdened with a terrible town secret. The Law Enforcers who must never cry. The End of Days live and direct from the rural heartland of England.

J.G. Clay takes you on a journey through the voids of Reality and into dark places where demons, mutants and inter-dimensional creatures taunt, taint and corrupt Humanity. Survival is not guaranteed, sanity is not assured and death lurks in every corner. These are the Tales of Blood and Sulphur: Apocalypse Minor; eleven twisted tales of terror and mayhem.

The blood is warm, the sulphur is burning, the tales will be told, the Apocalypse Minor is imminent!

**Release Day Review** Smoke by Catherine McKenzie

Today sparks the release of international best-selling author Catherine McKenzie’s SMOKE! And, we are delighted to welcome her work to A Reader’s Review Blog. Smoke is a contemporary mystery drama in Women’s Literature following two women who were once close friends, and whilst tackling the danger of a wildfire threatening their town, they also have the chance to reflect on their personal family problems, as well as their friendship. With many questions to be answered, you’ll find yourself buried amongst the drama until the very end!

SmokeTitle: Smoke

Author: Catherine McKenzie

Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction/Chicklit/Mystery/Drama

Release date: October 20th, 2015

Released by: Lake Union Publishing

Length: 351 pages

Blurb: From the internationally bestselling author Catherine McKenzie comes an evocative tale of two women navigating the secrets and lies at the heart of a wildfire threatening their town.

After a decade-long career combating wildfires, Elizabeth has traded in her former life for a quieter one with her husband. Now she works as the local arson investigator in a beautiful, quaint town in the Rockies. But that tranquil life vanishes when she and her husband agree to divorce and a fire in nearby Cooper Basin begins to spread rapidly. For Elizabeth, containing a raging wildfire is easier than accepting that her marriage has failed.

For Elizabeth’s ex-friend Mindy, who feels disconnected from her husband and teenage children, the fire represents a chance to find a new purpose: helping a man who has lost his home to the blaze. But her faith is shattered by a shocking accusation.

As the encroaching inferno threatens the town’s residents, Elizabeth and Mindy must discover what will be lost in the fire, and what will be saved.

REVIEW ***** (5*)

Smoke follows two women, Elizabeth and Mindy, who, although once friends, are almost the opposite of each other in terms of personality/character. Elizabeth on the one hand is career-driven to a large degree, and it was only due to wanting a quiet, family life with her husband that encouraged her to leave the job she loved and move to the quiet town of Nelson. Whereas Mindy, having already had two children of her own, is a very devoted housewife who dotes on her children to the point that she has little time for herself. Her every worry and stress concerns her kids and her husband.

The story is told from Elizabeth’s point of view, and begins with Elizabeth waking up and smelling the smoke from ‘a fast-spreading ground fire’. Due to the threat of some homes on the edge of the town, there is an advisory from the emergency services for some homes to be evacuated – Elizabeth’s being one of them. With Elizabeth and her husband, Ben, only having decided to divorce that evening, things become a little awkward when the only real place they have to move to is Ben’s parents, who are unaware of their marital problems.

When Elizabeth arrives on the scene to investigate the fire and give a helping hand where she can, she finds that she misses the drama, the danger and excitement of working on the ground, amid all the chaos. Meeting with colleagues and firefighters at the scene places her among the action and it is an aspect of her life that she simply gets pulled into and thrives in. This is perhaps something that Ben doesn’t quite fully understand.

Investigating the fire leads to her finding out that it began behind a local neighbour’s house, and when looked into a little further it leads to us discovering that the neighbour had been bothered on a regular basis by local kids. Is it possible the kids started the fire, be it an accident or intentional? Did arson have a part to play? To make matters worse, one of the kids implicated is possibly Mindy’s son, Angus, which, over the course of the story, sends Mindy going frantic, blaming herself for not noticing his recent, distant behaviour, and feeling like the world’s worst mum! Will this possible accusation widen the rift between Elizabeth and Mindy even further?

Catherine McKenzie has written scenes that are very true to real life, and Smoke does make you think about your priorities: family, children, work, and relationships with friends and partners. How much should we consider those around us before we make work choices, different friends, etc? And, how selfish should we be?

With its well written style and in-depth characters – many of which go on an emotional/reflecting journey – Smoke is a fantastically well-developed and thought out story. For analytic readers, you will grasp the power that the fire has on this town’s regular, daily routine, and how each of the character’s private lives is pulled apart in the process. However, even the more laidback reader will benefit as the story itself poses many questions alone. Plus, there is an absolutely brilliant reading guide at the end of the book which will provide even more questions and encourage the reader to think even deeper about the meaning of the fire, and how it impacts the main characters. It breaks down the story and you will see some areas in a different light! In this manner, the story will stay with you much longer than after the initial read!

A copy of Smoke was provided for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

SMOKE by Catherine McKenzie is now available on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

*Double Promo* ‘Forgotten’ and ‘Arranged’ by Catherine McKenzie

We are delighted to be working with Catherine McKenzie this year, Canadian author of Spin and Spun (novella sequel to full novel, Spin) – both of which are on my review list, as well as her Forgotten, and due for release on February 1st, Arrangedwhich is to be reviewed by Tina. These contemporary romance/chick-lit novels have been translated into French, Portuguese, and several other languages, and are international bestsellers, as well as being freshly released in the UK!

Please find below information for Forgotten and Arranged, with links for further details, and a short bio on the author.

Caroline xx

23641064FORGOTTEN

When everyone thinks you’re dead, how do you start your life over again?

Emma Tupper, a young lawyer with a bright future, sets out on a journey after her mother’s death: to Africa, a place her mother always wanted to visit. But her mother’s dying gift has unexpected consequences. Emma falls ill during the trip and is just recovering when a massive earthquake hits, turning her one-month vacation into a six-month ordeal.

When Emma returns home, she’s shocked to find that her friends and colleagues believed she was dead, that her apartment has been rented to a stranger and that her life has gone on without her. Can Emma pick up where she left off? Should she? As Emma struggles to recreate her old life, everyone around her thinks she should change: her job, her relationships, and even herself. But does she really want to sacrifice everything she’s working so hard to gain?

“McKenzie has created a charming character in Emma, witty, extraordinarily level-headed, and blessed with grace under fire in the most trying of circumstances. Forgotten is the story of one young women’s life, broken down, reconstructed, and forever altered. It is an endearing story of discovery and transformation and the importance of turning lemons into lemonade.”— BOOKLIST

For more info on Forgotten please check out the following links:

Goodreads

Amazon UK

Amazon US

 ArrangedARRANGED

Anne Blythe has a great life: a good job, good friends, and a potential book deal for her first novel. When it comes to finding someone to share it with, however, she just can’t seem to get it right.

After yet another relationship ends, Anne comes across a business card for what she thinks is a dating service, and she pockets it just in case. When her best friend, Sarah, announces she’s engaged, Anne can’t help feeling envious. On an impulse, she decides to give the service a try because maybe she could use a little assistance in finding the right man. But Anne soon discovers the company isn’t a dating service; it’s an exclusive, and pricey, arranged marriage service. She initially rejects the idea, but the more she thinks about it-and the company’s success rate-the more it appeals to her. After all, arranged marriages are the norm for millions of women around the world, so why wouldn’t it work for her?

A few months later, Anne is travelling to a Mexican resort, where in one short weekend she will meet and marry Jack. And against all odds, it seems to be working out-until Anne learns that Jack, and the company that arranged their marriage, are not what they seem at all.

“With good dialogue, three-dimensional characters, and page-turning scenes, McKenzie expertly explores what makes a successful marriage work and the lengths to which some people will go to find true love.” –Publisher’s Weekly

For more information on Arranged please click on the following links:-

Goodreads

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Author Bio:

Saturday, August 8, 2009.   Photo/Robert J. Galbraith).A graduate of McGill University in History and Law, Catherine practices law in Montreal, where she was born and raised. An avid skier and runner, Catherine’s novels, SPIN, ARRANGED, FORGOTTEN and HIDDEN, are all international bestsellers. She is currently working on her fifth novel, SMOKE, slated for release in 2015. Her novels have been translated into French, German, Portuguese Czech, Slovak and Polish. And if you want to know how she has time to do all that, the answer is: robots.

Website: www.catherinemckenzie.com