Book 276: UNRAVELING ISOBEL Review

It often isn’t fair that the feelings of children aren’t taken into consideration when massive family changes are about to take place. Isobel knows that her mother is making a big mistake when she marries a guy she’s only known for a few months. If that isn’t bad enough, they have to leave the city and move to a small island. Isobel is sure her life will never be the same in Unraveling Isobel by Eileen Cook.

There’s nothing quite worse than having to move to a new town, leaving behind all that is familiar. At least Isobel thinks there is nothing worse than having to move, except having to move to a small island town with her new stepfather and stepbrother. If that wasn’t bad enough, she also has to contend with town gossip about the deaths of her stepfather’s first wife and daughter. Isobel feels her life is coming unhinged and then she starts seeing things, or rather people that shouldn’t be there. 

Isobel doesn’t like Richard, or “Dick,” her new stepfather. The antagonism between Isobel and Dick continues to grow, as do the so-called hauntings. As a result of her behavior, Dick forces Isobel to see a local psychologist. In a small town where everyone knows everyone’s business, this isn’t helpful to Isobel fitting in. To make matters worse, the psychologist is the father of the school’s resident mean girl and Miss Popularity, Nicole Percy. As hostilities continue to build between Isobel and Dick, her attraction to and subsequent “romance” with Nate, as well as her friendship with a local librarian are the only things keeping her sane. Is Isobel losing her mind like her biological father? Will her affinity for art be her way out or a continuing wedge between her and her mom? Is it possible that Dick or Nate had anything to do with the earlier deaths? Is Isobel being haunted or is there something more sinister at play? The more Isobel learns, the more she fears for her sanity and safety.

Unraveling Isobel isn’t a typical ghost story. There are moments of moaning, groaning and complaining, but these are the normal “will I fit in and do I really care” issues that many teenagers (and some adults) deal with on a regular basis. Isobel faces issues and situations that are daunting for anyone, teen or adult. Isobel isn’t happy with the situations she faces, but she tries to deal with them with very little support from her mother. Isobel isn’t a super-hero, super-athletic or a genius, she’s simply a teenage girl trying to make the “lemonade” out of the lemons life has handed her while maintaining her sanity. Unraveling Isobel is classified as a YA story, but like so many YA books, there’s something that may appeal to readers of all ages. 

Look for Unraveling Isobel to be released on 01/03/2012 by Simon Pulse.

Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from the publisher. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”






Book 273: THE KURE Review

John Tyler is a simple, God-fearing farmer. Sarah Sheridan is a simple, God-fearing woman. Both are caught up in a tale of disease, cures and ancient rituals that will test their faith and notions of respectability in The Kure by Jaye Frances.

John wakes one morning to find that he has lesions on and around his genitalia. As the lesions worsen and the pain grows, he goes into town to see the doctor. To his deep regret, the only treatment the doctor prescribes is the use of leeches, huge apparently mutant leeches. John is quite reticent to use this treatment and presses the doctor for alternatives, any alternative treatment. After much discussion the doctor pulls out an old book titled KURE and relates a treatment that is morally offensive, as it involves having a virginal girl on her 18th birthday take the offending member into her mouth. As wild as this “kure” seems, John briefly considers it and even postpones his treatment with leeches.

Finding a virginal girl close to her eighteenth birthday is apparently not as hard as one presumes, even in a small town in the mid-1800s. Using local registry records, John finds two girls that are possible candidates, and one is Sarah Sheridan.

Sarah Sheridan lives on a small farm with her father. Not thinking clearly, John heads out to the farm and tries to invent a reason for his visit. He quickly comes to his senses and realizes that he can’t ask a respectable woman, especially an innocent, to participate in the kure ritual. Sarah presumes that John has come calling and simply became too flustered to follow through and invents an excuse to go into town together. Will John reveal the true nature of his visit? Will Sarah assist him in his search for a cure?

I had a lot of problems with this story. First, the doctor states that the only people that normally suffer this disease are sailors or people in tropical climates and neither of these descriptions fit John. Second how can a relatively benign ritual involving a form of fellatio cure some type of infectious disease? I can suspend belief with the best of them but I couldn’t with the basic premises of this story as it was simply too farfetched to be believable for me. Finally, Sarah is supposed to have lived such a sheltered and protected life but she is quite bold in her thoughts of helping John, who is basically a stranger to her. As I read, all I could think was where in the world was the story going and once it got to the end I could hardly figure out how it got there. The Kure is one story that simply didn’t work for me on any level.

Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from the author. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



Book 206: TWILIGHT FULFILLED Review

The father of the vampire race has been resurrected with the hopes that he’ll be able to save the vahmpeers or vampires. But Utanapushtim, or Utana – an ancient Sumerian king, has been buried for five thousand years and believes that if he kills all of the vampires he’ll finally be able to rest and end the punishment of the gods. The only thing standing in his way is Brigit Poe in Twilight Fulfilled by Maggie Shayne.


Brigit has grown up believing that her gift reflects her dark nature and is destructive. She is able to kill with laser-like precision. Her twin brother James or J.W. has been gifted with healing. But James can no longer heal because after raising Utana, his gift of healing was absorbed by Utana. Since both Brigit and James aren’t wholly human nor wholly vampire, they don’t suffer many of the same limitations as true vampires. Brigit is off to hunt down Utana and kill him in order to save the few remaining vampires in the US. 

Utana has a lot to learn about this modern world. He also has a lot to learn about modern women. Brigit impresses him with her skills and fortitude. Brigit also has a lot to learn about Utana. She comes to understand that he is not the bogeyman her people believe him to be. She also knows that he is being used by the government in their efforts to eradicate the vampire problem. If that isn’t enough to deal with, the government is also secretly holding all of “the chosen” (those with the Belladonna antigen in their blood and capable of becoming vampire) hostage in a secure, central location under the guise of protecting them from harm. Both Utana and Brigit realize that this is an elaborate trap to attract the remaining vampires and kill them all at once. Will she and Utana be able to stop the government before it’s too late? Will she be able to convince the remaining vampires that Utana isn’t their enemy before they carry out their plan to bury him again?

When I first started reading Twilight Fulfilled, I immediately thought “oh no, another vampire series.” Admittedly I hadn’t read any of the preceding books but I had grown weary of the entire vampire-paranormal scenario. Although Twilight Fulfilled used elements seen in other stories (the Blade III movie sees the father of vampires being resurrected with hopes of saving if not strengthening the vampire race), the story reads as original and refreshing. Brigit is a strong and formidable woman with a certain frailty that she fights hard to shield. Brigit and Utana complement one another as a couple and help each other overcome their weaknesses and shortsightedness. I’m sure reading the previous books in this series may have helped to better understand the vampire family dynamics, but it is possible to read this without any prior series knowledge. Ms. Shayne has provided a fast-paced, paranormal romance that enchants from beginning to end.

Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book 156: TENDERFOOT Review

Amy Tupper has provided a slightly different coming-of-age story in Tenderfoot. Julianna, or Jules, is starting college when she notices that her sight has changed. She can read the text in a book from across the room. She can also hear through walls and her sense of taste has gone completely wild (she can actually picture the surroundings of an animal when eating meat and diary products). If that wasn’t weird enough, she can also “hear” the thoughts of others, okay not everyone but just one person . . . Nicholas “Nick” Grimm. Jules learns that Nick is a troll or faery and basically her protector. He was also her mother’s protector and her grandmother’s protector. Nick has been protecting the special women in her family for generations. 


College is hard enough without throwing all of the faery items into the mix but add some romance and Tenderfoot raises the ante. Jules learns to handle college, even the boring aspects. Jules also must come to grips with her “romance” with Andrew, another freshman and fencer extraordinaire. Tenderfoot realistically explores the drama and angst of college while adding first love and Swedish faery lore into the mix. Jules doesn’t weave spells, she can’t fly, and she doesn’t have superhuman strength. She does have grit and determination and is a likable character. 


Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from the author. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book 154: DARKHOUSE Review

Is it normal to have had imaginary friends and an overactive imagination? Perry Palamino lives with these questions in the paranormal/horror story Darkhouse (Experiment in Terror #1) by Karina Halle.


In some ways Darkhouse seems to be a coming-of-age story with Perry learning to deal with her differences. The problem is that Perry apparently sees dead people and always has. Her younger sister, Ada, the fashionista, makes reference to Perry scaring her with this ability as a young child. Although Perry is 22 years old and gainfully employed — as a receptionist at an advertising agency, she feels unsure of herself and where she needs to be and go in life. To make matters worse, she was an extremely troubled teen and dabbled in drugs, alcohol and even cutting to help deal with her inner pains. Perry now feels that she owes her parents some normalcy. But Perry isn’t “abnormal” she just has an ability that others don’t have and can’t quite understand . . . the ability to see ghosts.


During a trip to the coast to visit family, Perry decides to explore an old, defunct lighthouse. Of course she’s exploring it late at night and no one knows where she’s gone (wouldn’t be as dramatic otherwise). She’s spent the day photographing nature and still has her camera, which is a good thing, because her dreams (or rather nightmares) have just come to life. Fortunately she is able to film some of her ghostly encounters but she also encounters Declan “Dex” Foray, a cameraman/producer of webcasts. Perry has the opportunity to write about this incident when Ada is down-and-out due to a virus and unable to post to her fashion blog. Perry’s ghostly encounter video becomes viral and Dex returns with the offer to host a webcast on ghost hunting. 


What follows are a series of unfortunate encounters with an elderly woman that only Dex and Perry can see, and this serves to heighten the fear factor when they return to the lighthouse. Is the lighthouse haunted or is it simply evil? Are Dex and Perry “crazy” or simply in touch with energies other’s can’t see or feel? Where will these abilities lead them? Ms. Halle has crafted a dark story filled with horrifying moments. For me this was simply an okay read (I didn’t connect to this story). Darkhouse is well written and the characters are believable with all of their idiosyncracies and eccentricities. If you’ve read Darkhouse and are looking for more paranormal/horror, then note that Red Fox (Experiment in Terror #2) is now available.


Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from the author. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book 149: DREAMS UNLEASHED Review

Every now and again I enjoy reading books that might loosely be classified as paranormal or science-fiction. I don’t always enjoy these genres but I don’t dislike them either. For me the sci-fi and paranormal genres are like candy, I have to be craving it in order to enjoy it. Well I wasn’t really in the mood for paranormal/sci-fi when I began reading Dreams Unleashed by Linda Hawley but I can say that I’m glad I read this book. 


Dreams Unleashed is a little difficult to describe because after reading it I’m unsure as to what was a dream and what was reality for the main character, Ann Torgeson. The underlying premise is that Ann has special paranormal skills that ultimately allow her to “remote view.” These skills permit her to work as a “spy” for the CIA through the Air Force at a young age. Fast forward 25 years, Ann is now in her early 40s, a widow and mom, and working as a technical writer for a company in Washington state. She is having vivid dreams that seem all too real. She is told that her dreams are being brought into reality because of her special paranormal skills. She dreams of an object that has been lost for years but wakes up with it in her possession. Talk about spooky and strange . . .  The action toggles between Ann’s dreams and reality as well her past and the present. By the end of the story I was asking the question “what was real and what was a dream?” 


Ms. Hawley has crafted a unique story that grabbed my interest and didn’t let go until the very end. Some of the future action (set in the year 2015) may seem a bit farfetched but it isn’t completely outside the realm of possibilities and therefore becomes acceptable. If you’re up for a read that forces you to think outside of the box and you like stories with a paranormal/sci-fi slant, then you definitely want to read Dreams Unleashed. The biggest drawback to reading this book is that it is book one in a trilogy so you’ll have to wait to read about what happens in future books.


DISCLOSURE:  I received this book free from the author for review purposes. I was not paid, required nor otherwise obligated to provide a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”