Stacking the Shelves (11)

This week’s Stacking the Shelves (hosted by Tynga’s Reviews) is a double-stack.

That kind of makes it sound like something from Steak ‘n Shake, doesn’t it? Probably a good thing I had a nice brunch with friends.

But I mean a different kind of double-stack. A double-stack of books. Last Saturday’s post was all about the Small Blogs Big Giveaways Hop. If you’re reading this on Saturday, you  still have a few hours left to enter.

Last week’s books plus this week’s books equals a double-stack. I picked up a few things from Amazon, there were some great sales. And a couple of times where I gave in to my compulsion to get book one, where I’d received book two for review. It wasn’t required, but I just couldn’t stop myself.

As always, unless it says otherwise, it’s an ebook.

And about that very last book…We’re both playing Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning right now. When we have a spare few hours to kill. Or are willing to stay up way, way, way past our bedtimes. It’s awesome if you love video Role-Playing Games. I didn’t need the guide, but I love having the guidebooks. Mining all the complexity out of it will be loads of fun. Especially on the second play-through. And maybe the third…

So what will be keeping you up late at night this week?

From the Author/Publisher/Publicist:
Better than Chocolate by Sheila Roberts (print ARC)
Accidental Love by Lacey Wolfe
The Devil You Know by Victoria Vane
Intern with the Vampire (Vampire General #1) by Kit Iwasaki

For Book Lovers Inc.:
A Royal Pain by Megan Mulry
Before Versailles by Karleen Koen (print ARC and ebook!)

For Library Journal:
Feeling Hot (Out of Uniform #7) by Elle Kennedy

From Penguin First Flights:
A Working Theory of Love by Scott Hutchins

From Edelweiss:
The Asylum Interviews: The Bronx (The Asylum Tales #0.5) by Jocelyn Drake

From NetGalley:
Rev It Up (Black Knights Inc. #3) by Julie Ann Walker
Monster in My Closet by R.L. Naquin
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
A Season for Sin by Vicki Dreiling
When We Touch (Whiskey Creek #0.5) by Brenda Novak)
When Lightning Strikes (Whiskey Creek #1) by Brenda Novak
Death Warmed Over (Dan Shamble, P.I. #1) by Kevin J. Anderson
Finding Magic (Downside Ghosts #0.5) by Stacia Kane

Purchased from Amazon:
The Girl Who Disappeared Twice (Forensic Instincts #1) by Andrea Kane
An Affair with Mr. Kennedy (The Gentlemen of Scotland Yard #1) by Jillian Stone
Geekomancy by Michael Underwood (it was on sale for $1.99!)
Her Cyborg Awakes (Diaspora Worlds #1) by Melisse Aires
Alien Blood (Diaspora Worlds #2) by Melisse Aires (two-day freebie sale on Kindle!)
A Sorcerer’s Treason (Isavalta #1) by Sarah Zettel (I caught it when it when it was free)
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, The Official Guide by Future Press (print)

Guest Review: Hawaiian Gothic by Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane

Ori and Kalani were childhood friends too afraid to be lovers. Now in their darkest hour—Ori disgraced and Kalani a wandering spirit—they’ll fight the world and death itself for a second chance.

Gregorio “Ori” Reyes thought there was nothing left for him in Hawaii. A former Army Ranger and promising MMA fighter, his dishonorable discharge turned him into the family disgrace, and his childhood best friend Kalani never could love him back–not the way Ori needed to be loved–even before Kalani’s doctors declared him to be in an unrecoverable coma. Ori’s return to Hawaii seems fated to be a depressing reminder of every chance he never took… until Kalani himself impossibly welcomes him home.

Kalani’s body is bedridden, but his spirit is free to roam, and it turns out it’s not just Ori who had unspoken yearnings. Kalani is eager to prove that he can still savor all the pleasures of this world. Together, they remember all those years of surfing, wrestling, touching and aching but too afraid to act; now, they cross that final barrier and struggle against each other in an entirely different way.

Passionately but tenuously reunited, the pair must solve the mystery of Kalani’s unlucky life, sorting through dark family history and even journeying to the Hawaiian ghostworld. And the greatest terror of their journey is that Ori might have to put Kalani to rest.

Guest Review by Cryselle

“Gothic” implies dark and mysterious goings on, an interesting balance against the bright sunniness of Hawaii. This book is a juxtaposition of many more things, with an unique structure, and it works out in a most surprising fashion.

The story opens in the middle—Ori’s now released from Leavenworth, and Kalani’s lying comatose in a hospital bed, the victim of a savage attack. Many things are not what they seem, including Kalani meeting Ori at the airport.

Ori’s spent much of his life yearning after Kalani, who’s always been there as a friend, but there’s never been anything else between them, until Ori return’s from the mainland, wracked with guilt over Kalani’s condition—he wasn’t there to prevent the catastrophe, and now feels that he lost every chance. It’s never that simple, though, because Kalani finds that being freed of his body has freed him from a lot of inhibitions. As a wandering spirit, he can manifest near his best friend, but he can’t stay in this form forever, and there are choices to make.

This is an extremely non-linear story—important chunks of flashback take us back and forward in time, revealing important details about the men and their relationship—fast friends since nearly forever, they complement each other in many ways, but haven’t taken the step to be lovers until it’s nearly too late. Ori also has a mystery to solve—who did this to Kalani, and how can his spirit go on to its proper destination, wherever that might be?

A substantial portion of the story takes place in the Hawaiian spirit realm, a place I’ve never visited even in fiction, because of Kalani’s background. Ori tries to follow and understand, and his own Filipino and fighting background gives him tools to work with. The spirit realm is far from benign, and for Ori to reach it takes a bold and gruesome act, so this story may not be for the squeamish, though the rewards for the persevering reader are great.

At one point the story steps backwards in time and out of the main characters’ POV, to a time before Kalani’s birth. His mother Malia, who is variously loved and reviled, lays the foundations of all that is to come, in a brief excursion into a non-standard but loving relationship. Ladybits warning for the M/M purist, but this section is important, beautifully done, and both romantic and tragic.

A few things seem a little overdone, like Ori’s career as both an Army Ranger and an MMA fighter, but serve to highlight his fall from grace and his return to it. He is a man who understands sacrifice and duty, and doing the hard tasks. I wanted to hurt one of the secondary characters for taking steps to harm the innocent, but that character does achieve a kind of redemption.

I loved this story for bringing me into unfamiliar cultures and places, including the parts of Hawaii tourists never see, and for letting me share the evolving relationship between Ori and Kalani. It’s is hot, loving, a little tentative in its changes but built on a solid foundation. Also, hot. These characters have to work extremely hard for their happiness, and I was glad to follow along.  Escape Rating B+

Cryselle can regularly be found blogging and reviewing at Cryselle’s Bookshelf.

Interview with Author Jeffe Kennedy on Writing in the Mist

The guest-of-the-day at Reading Reality is Jeffe Kennedy, the author of the new contemporary fantasy Rogue’s Pawn. It’s the first book of her new series, Covenant of Thorns, and there are definitely some thorny things going on in Faery, based on events in the first book. But I still can’t wait for what Jeffe calls RP2 in this interview. Rogue’s Pawn was fascinating, confusing and complex (see this review for more details on that) and I can hardly wait to learn more about her take on the Fae. 

But in the meantime, here’s Jeffe on how she’s really a lot like her cats, and more.

Tell us a little bit about Jeffe Kennedy when she’s not writing. Who is the inventor of Rogue’s Pawn away from her keyboard?

She’s not all that interesting, really. 😀 I like to read when I can and lie in the sun. I drink as much wine as I can get away with and I exercise every day to compensate. For the most part, I like being at home and I like being outside as much as I can. I have a series of little sitting spots – the front patio, the back patio, the grape arbor. I’m like a cat that way – I move from soft spot to soft spot.

What inspired you to write Rogue’s Pawn as the type of contemporary fantasy where someone crosses from our world to a world where magic works?

I grew up reading fantasy and science fiction – and the stories I liked best were the ones with the ordinary person who got transported to another time or world. Usually the person was a boy and I often felt like a girl would do it differently. I usually wanted more detail, like what would happen to the contact lenses I’ve had to wear since I was 12? I always came away thinking I’d tell the story differently. This was my big chance!

In Rogue’s Pawn, Gwynn is such a “fish out of water” character. Did you plan it that way from the beginning? Are you a plotter or a pantser? Or do your characters take over?

I did plan it that way, to the extent that I plan anything . I’m very much a pantser, though I like the term “mister” better. I knew what would happen to Gwynn, that she’d end up in Faerie and it would be bizarre and frightening and beautiful – and totally alien. But after that, I just ride along on the shoulders of my characters and discover things as they do. That’s why I like “misting” as an analogy. Much of the story for me is shrouded in mist and I can’t see what’s going on until I get right up close to it.

Who first introduced you to the love of reading?

My mother. She read to me every night and is a great reader herself. As a young woman, she made lists of “great books” she should read to improve her mind and she’s been involved in one book group for over thirty years now. Over time, I’ve managed to corrupt her somewhat and taught her to love the jucier genre books, too.

Who influenced your decision to become a writer?

That’s a very interesting question. Really, no one did – not in the way you mean, I think. I had teachers who told me I wrote well, but none of them suggested I become a writer. I showed a lot of aptitude for math and science, so I think they all thought (rightly so) that those would be more secure and lucrative career paths. I decided to become a writer all by myself, because I was profoundly unhappy doing the math and science thing with nothing else. I had reached a crisis point in my life where I had to ask myself what I *really* wanted. The answer surprised me.

What’s your favorite part about the writing experience, and why?

When the story takes over and I’m just along for the ride. It’s the most exciting, exhilarating experience there is.

What book do you recommend everyone should read, and why?

Hmm. I’m not much for “shoulds.” I think writers are well served  by reading extensively, both in and out of their genres. If there’s a blockbuster book, a phenomenon like Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games, Fifty Shades of Grey, then I think writers are foolish not to read them, regardless of their personal opinions. There are reasons why readers love these books – and that’s worth studying.

For readers? I think A.S. Byatt’s Possession is one of the most brilliant books I’ve ever read. Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood tells one of the best tales of young female friendships that I know of. In nonfiction, I think it’s really worthwhile to read Lucy Grealy’s Autobiography of a Face and then immediately read Ann Patchett’s Truth and Beauty, for her side of the story and great insight into the friendships authors – and women – have.

Other than that, I really recommend that everyone read exactly what they wish to, and don’t let anyone tell them what they should and shouldn’t read.

What projects do you have planned for the future? And there’s more of this series, right? Please?

LOL – yes! I’m thick in the middle of the sequel to Rogue’s Pawn, which I’m just calling RP2 at the moment. I feel very action-hero calling it that. And let me tell you – hearing you all ask for more is now my second favorite part of the writing experience. I’m just so thrilled.

I saw on your website that you have (or are had by) quite the menagerie. Does the border collie try to herd the Maine Coon cats? And how’s that working out?

Just the opposite! Our border collie is a quintessential beta dog and the older Maine coon cat is very protective and sassy. She does *not* like to be stepped on. Or any behavior that might lead to being stepped on or crowded in any way. Our old kitty died in March 🙁 and now we have a new Maine coon kitten. Fastest little thing any of us have ever seen. Both the older cat and the dog and running in circles trying to keep their eyes on him – and him off their tails!

Morning person or night owl?

Night owl by nature but I trained myself to be a morning person, just to get everything done that I need to!

I got lost in the cute kitten pictures on Jeffe’s blog. If Jackson (the Maine Coon kitten pictured above and at left) isn’t the cutest kitten ever, he’s definitely in the top ten. I’m amazed she gets anything done with this little guy in her arms. Oh the sacrifices we cat servitors must make!

I know I’ll be looking forward to RP2 as soon as the cats permit!


Review: Rogue’s Pawn by Jeffe Kennedy

Rogue’s Pawn by Jeffe Kennedy is part of an interesting and fascinating sub-branch of urban fantasy. I call it crossover fantasy, where someone from our reality literally “crosses over” to another reality where magic works.

But just because magical powers are made manifest, doesn’t mean that the person suddenly manifesting them has a magically good time in whatever place he or she has found herself in. Magic can be both wondrous and terrible.

As the story opens, we don’t even know her name. But we’re in her head. And we know that she’s finally gotten fed up with her boring fiance and her academic/scientific job in the middle of a party where Clive (the truly boring fiance, she should have ditched him long ago) has belittled her for the last time. But in walking out, she follows a compulsion to go to nearby Devil’s Tower (Wyoming, iconic scene of Close Encounters of the Third Kind) and enact a very strange ritual.

She winds up in Fae, with the ability to wish things into being, and no idea how she got there. Compulsions to enact rituals don’t really figure into her calculations.

She’s attacked by a huge black dog, and captured by the fae. She wakes up in extreme agony, her throat nearly torn out. From there, she discovers that she has terrible magic powers, and zero control.

She truly does think things into being. And she has no mental controls at all. As far as the fae are concerned, she is a dangerous weapon that should be eliminated immediately. But the man who has rescued her wants her trained for war. He believes she is a weapon that can be used, with the proper conditioning.

His name is Rogue. She is chained within his castle. She is his pawn, his property. If he saves her life, she owes him.

Everything in fae is negotiable. Life, death, power, souls. Eternity can be bargained away. A person is only worth the price they can negotiate. Rogue has saved her because he wants something from her, but she doesn’t know what that might be.

She doesn’t know anything. From being an academic with knowledge at her fingertips, she has been thrust into a situation in which she has no information except what she can gain through negotiation.

She doesn’t even have her own name. Rogue calls her Gwynn. It is close, but not quite. And for the damage she caused in her first flush of power and lack of knowledge, he negotiates her use as a weapon in the war. She will be trained by utter sadists, but she cannot be permanently damaged. And she cannot be raped. Because Rogue has the rights to her firstborn child in return for saving her life.

Confused? So is Gwynn. She has lost everything, even her identify. She must remake herself in this strange new place where she has no friends, only enemies. And where she has power she must learn to control. She has to become more than just Rogue’s Pawn.

Escape Rating B: Gwynn’s voice is snarktastically terrific. Which is a great thing, because we see the entire world of Rogue’s Pawn through her first-person viewpoint. We only know what she knows and see what she sees. Her sarcasm is hilarious, but, because Gwynn is such a complete fish-out-of water, her knowledge is limited and adds to the reader’s confusion. I think I might have enjoyed the story more if I’d been less confused.

Gwynn’s lack of information is necessary to the story. I’m less certain that the reader’s total blindness is.

The training Gwynn undergoes to become a sorceress for the war effort is unquestionably torture, and equally unquestionably sadistic. Some desperate measure were definitely required to save Gwynn’s life by training her magic. She absolutely had to learn to make her mind a blank. Whether this was the only way, and how much of a betrayal it was, and how Rogue felt about it, etc., is one of those things that a different form of narration might have helped with.

Rogue’s motives and thoughts are difficult to fathom for a large part of the story. Gwynn simply doesn’t know enough about this world to have any handle on him. And we filter through her. Although we do finally get the big picture at the end. It’s the smaller pictures, like the war (hard to believe that’s the smaller picture, isn’t it?) that I’d love some explanation for.

And I truly wish I understood about Titania. Hopefully, I’ll find out lots more in the next books in the Covenant of Thorns series. Please?

Review: The Line Between Here and Gone by Andrea Kane

Format Read: Print ARC picked up at a Conference
Number of Pages: 400 p.
Release Date: June 19, 2012
Publisher: Mira
Series: Forensic Instincts #2
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Formats Available: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook
Purchasing Info: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Book Depository US | Book Depository (UK)

Book Blurb:

“The man she loved is gone forever. The child she lives for could be next.”Each day is a struggle for Amanda Gleason’s newborn son as he battles a rare immune deficiency. Justin’s best chance for a cure lies with his father, who was brutally murdered before Amanda even realized she carried his child.

Or was he?

One emailed photo changes everything, planting a seed of doubt that Amanda latches on to for dear life: a recent photo of a man who looks exactly like Paul. Could Justin’s father be alive? The mother in her is desperate to find out. But tracking down a ghost when every second counts is not for amateurs.

“Forensic Instincts is the one team up for the challenge.”

A behaviorist. A former navy SEAL. A techno-wizard. An intuitive. A retired FBI agent. A human-scent-evidence dog. Together they achieve the impossible, pushing ethical and legal boundaries whenever the ends justify the means.

The manhunt is on for the elusive father. Yet the further FI digs into his past, the more questions are raised about whether the man Amanda fell in love with ever really existed at all.

Dark secrets. Carefully crafted lies. From the congressional halls of Washington, D.C., to exclusive Hamptons manors, there are ruthless people who would stop at nothing to make Forensic Instincts forget about the man Amanda desperately needs to find.

Little do “they” realize that once Forensic Instincts takes the case, nothing will stop them from uncovering the shocking truth that transcends “The Line Between Here and Gone.”

My Thoughts:

This was originally posted at Book Lovers Inc.

The first book in the Forensic Instincts Series is The Girl Who Disappeared Twice, and I will say that its title makes way more sense than this one. It isn’t necessary to read Girl to read Line, but it helps to explain the team dynamic at Forensic Instincts, because that’s what drives this group. It’s about the team of crime solvers. And what makes them tick together. You don’t see much of how they tick separately.

And the book is so darn good you don’t care, either.

I kept seeing this as one of the crime shows, like Bones or NCIS, and it would so work.

This is a thriller, it’s all about solving the case. There’s no romance here, and there’s not supposed to be.

What you have is a tightly-knit organization of pretty-close-to-geniuses who got tired of trying to solve cases by coloring inside the lines, so they don’t. They work on cases where the ends really do justify the means.

Like rescuing a little girl from her kidnappers. That was Girl Who Disappeared Twice. In Line Between Here and Gone, it’s a case where an infant’s life is on the line. His mother thought the father was dead in a no-body homicide. But he’s been photographed after his supposed death.

She doesn’t want child support. It’s not that mundane. The baby, Justin, needs a bone-marrow transplant, and his mother is not a donor. His father is the best chance, if he can be found in time.

But about that no-body homicide–there’s a cover-up, and it’s a doozy. Somebody, it turns out lots of somebodies, don’t want anyone looking into that case. Not even to save a baby’s life. Even if they have to scare, or maybe kill, a few adults along the way.

This thriller kept me, not just up late, but glued to a chair until I finished it. I read Girl and Line back to back non-stop until I was done. The team at Forensic Instincts fits perfectly into the “Five Man Band” trope (see the TV Tropes Wiki for a complete description). This makes for not just a great organization, but a fantastic group dynamic for storytelling purposes.

And they have a totally awesome dog, named Hero, who frequently steals the show.

I give The Line Between Here and Gone 5 stars. I just wish it had a better title. I hated the title. I loved the book.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Wicked Nights by Gena Showalter

Who would have thought that angels would make such terrific tortured heroes? Now the concept that fallen angels would become demons, and evil ones at that, well, that concept has been around forever.

Everyone knows the quote from Milton. That one about it being, “better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven.” But Gena Showalter has already shown that demons can be redeemed, or can fight their nature, with the help of the right woman. She proved that in her Lords of the Underworld series.

Wicked Nights is the first story in a spinoff series in the same universe, Angels of the Dark. And Zacharel certainly is a dark and brooding angel. Also a disobedient one. His Deity has made him general of an army of misbehaving angels who are all one step, or maybe that’s one wingspan, away from falling into the dark.

Zacharel is the one who is whipped every time one of them disobeys. Or accidentally kills a possessed human when they battle the demons. Every one of his soldiers is damaged goods. They’ve all been tortured by the dark.

Zacharel lost his brother to the demons. Hadrenial was the best part of him. But after his repeated, soul-destroying torment by the demons, Hadrenial begged Zacharel to kill him. To kill his spirit, destroy his soul and burn his body. To remove him utterly from existence. In the angel’s realm nothingness was better than being consigned to hell by self-murder. And Hadrenial’s self-destructive actions became more and more depraved by the day. Zachariel finally gave in, and killed him. Destroying his soul. He also carved out a piece of his own soul, all the love he felt in the universe.

Or so he thought.

Annabelle Miller watched a demon rip her parents to pieces right before her very eyes. Eyes that the demon had just ripped from their sockets. Then he marked her as his own and left Annabelle to attempt to explain what she saw to the police. Who of course believed that she was an insane psychopathic murderer and locked her up in a mental institution.

Where she was under continual attack by, not just demons that no one else could see, but by the staff who treated her as fair game for sexual assault. After all, no one would believe the crazy girl.

Until the angels came to investigate the place. Zacharel’s army was tasked to discover why this one building kept being attacked by demon armies. It was assumed that someone inside was possessed.

What Zacharel found, was Annabelle. A woman who could see the demons. A woman who had been claimed by a demon. Yet a woman who had absolutely not invited that demon to claim her. As an angel, Zacharel could “taste” when someone was telling the truth, and Annabelle was telling that truth.

He was intrigued in spite of himself. And that was a feeling. Zacharel had no feelings. He’d cut them all out of himself when he’d killed his brother. But Annabelle’s defiance of her circumstances made him feel. She was not broken, not yet.

But he could see that she would be. Not yet, but one year, or two. And his task was to protect the humans from the demons. He decided to protect Annabelle by rescuing her.

The demons chased them. Everywhere. Zacharel discovered that he wanted to do much more than just protect Annabelle. Even if he didn’t know what it was that he was feeling. Or why the demons were so intent on this one woman.

She was his woman now. And hell could be damned if he would let them have her.

Escape Rating A-: This is one of those stories where you just kind of buckle up, because you know it’s going to be a really bumpy ride. And I mean that in the best way possible.

The Lords of the Underworld series was not sweetness and light. Those dudes all had somebody pretty nasty sharing headspace with them. This is a spinoff series, so don’t expect fluff here either. Both Annabelle and Zacharel have incredible amounts of baggage. Whole steamer-trunks full.

These two tortured souls take a long time to trust each other, and they should. There’s a very rocky road to even see happy someone over the next horizon, and that’s the way it should be. These are two souls who don’t think happy could have ever applied to them. Getting there is what makes the story.

One small spoiler. Dr. Fitzpervert doesn’t get anywhere near what’s coming to him. But it was a good start.


Guest Post: Author Donna Del Oro on Cautionary Tales

Today’s special guest at Reading Reality is Donna Del Oro, the author of The Delphi Bloodline, a compelling (see review here) mix of romantic suspense and edge-of-your-seat thriller with just a touch of the paranormal.

Donna is here to tell us a bit about the ways she worked some of the current theories about psychic awareness into her fictional characters in The Delphi Bloodline.

Donna Del Oro: Behind THE DELPHI BLOODLINE; Questions about ESP

Sixty percent of Americans, according to parapsychology studies cited in the book, Psychic Awareness, claim to have had experiences they would call psychic. Those experiences might be: Hunches about your or someone else’s future; physical clues that alert you to danger or wrong decisions; intuitive feelings that guide you correctly through life; and/or receiving information through physical sensations, thoughts, visions or emotions. It could be a prickly sensation at the back of your neck about a particular person, place or thing. Or a warm feeling at the thought of a good decision. If you’ve experienced any of the above, then you’re in touch with your psychic abilities.

My heroine, Athena Butler in THE DELPHI BLOODLINE, has already moved beyond the “I know but I don’t know how I know” psychic awareness, where most of us are at. Through her gifted mother’s instruction and guidance, Athena—the modern-day descendant of an ancient, psychically powerful bloodline of women—knows HOW and WHY she knows. She’s a talented clairvoyant who sees visions and is able to access information simply by touching a person. This clairvoyance might take the form of reading that person’s thoughts or by seeing into that person’s past.

While this ability of hers has caused her to lose boyfriends—who resent her intrusion into their privacy—her clairvoyance also alerts her to danger. When a handsome stranger approaches her in a Reno hotel gallery, where she is painting dead celebrities like Elvis and Frank Sinatra, Athena shakes his hand. Immediately, visions of his dark, violent past assail her, warning her that he is an impostor and even worse, that he means her harm.

Thus begins a threat that forces Athena to flee for her life. With the help of Kas Skoros, a tall, dark-haired man who claims to be a Guardian of the Delphi bloodline, they begin a journey of running, hiding and finally fighting back. As more psychics all over the country continue to disappear, the FBI is stymied. What’s happening to these psychics?  Why are they disappearing?  Who’s kidnapping them?  Athena’s mother believes the mastermind has something to do with a White House dinner she attended months before.

The three remaining descendants of the bloodline—Athena, her mother and Kas’s mother—are the only ones who can uncover the truth behind these kidnappings.

So what’s the origin of such psychic abilities? Are these talents truly genetic, do they run in families, as I suggest in my novel?  Do they originate from an all-seeing God, as Athena’s mother believes? Do they come from an omniscient spirit world? Another dimension of energy as yet unexplored by man, as Athena believes? Or are they simply physical, biochemical reactions in the brain, as some neuroscientists suggest? Do brain waves play a role, as some parapsychologists have studied?

Sorry to disappoint you, but experts have no definitive answers to those questions. Theories abound and what I put forth in THE DELPHI BLOODLINE is just one theory. There are many theories about psychic abilities, but no scientific proof.

Not yet, anyway.

What the scientific experiments (and I include some of these experiments in my novel) do prove is that these abilities exist in varying degrees among all of us.  These are human abilities, like innate skills in art and music. Some of us can strum a few chords on a ukelele; others among us can write symphonies, like Beethoven and Gershwin. Some of us can paint by numbers; others become Titian, Michaelangelo and Da Vinci.

The true psychics among us—not the charlatans—exercise and develop their skills quietly and without fanfare or greed. For they know their gifts come with cautionary tales.

Like the cautionary tale in THE DELPHI BLOODLINE.

Review: The Delphi Bloodline by Donna Del Oro

The Delphi Bloodline by Donna Del Oro sucked me in from the very first page. There were a few points in the middle where I wondered, “Sucked me into what?”, but I couldn’t stop flicking the pages on my iPad. I absolutely had to know what happened next. The Delphi Bloodline is a little bit paranormal romance, a little bit romantic suspense, a little bit thriller, and there were a couple of moments where I thought I’d wandered into The DaVinci Code, but all of it will keep up long past your bedtime.

It all starts when Athena Butler has a dream that her mother is being kidnapped. Except that it’s not exactly a dream; it’s a vision in what Athena and her mother call “The Flow”, the stream of spirits. And Flow Dreams are prophesies –unless they are thwarted. Or misinterpreted.

Athena and her mother Annabella both have precognitive visions, and they both work with the police to help solve crimes. Or rather, Athena’s mother still does. Athena used to, but she’s been hiding out, somewhere that no one can find her. Even her mother only has a cell phone number.

Athena is tired of seeing death. Because that’s all the future holds.

But when even Athena’s warning turns out not to be enough to stop her mother’s kidnapping, Athena comes out of hiding. Or rather, her mother’s failsafe plan to protect Athena if something happened to her kicks into place.

A Guardian comes for Athena. Guardian with a capital “G”. And just in time. Someone is hunting every identified psychic. Every person who has ever assisted the police or any law enforcement agency using any type of extra-sensory powers.

And all the fakes are turning up dead.

Athena, and her mother, are descendants of a long line of women who have psychic abilities, all the way back to ancient Greece. There’s always been an Athena in her family. And there have always been Guardians willing to lay down their lives to keep women like Athena safe from people who wanted to harm them.

Keriakos Alexander Skoros (Kas to his friends) doesn’t plan to be Athena’s Guardian on anything other than a temporary basis. But her mother entrusted him with this task, and so, for that matter, did his own mother, another one of these psychics. But when it turns out that all the psychics in the U.S. are being targeted, Athena, her mother, his mother, all the others, Kas, a former cop, is on board for the duration.

But the longer he spends with Athena, the more he wants to take up the role of her protector, forever.

Athena doesn’t want anyone vowing to lay down his life for her. She’ll protect herself, thank you very much. She’s looked at the statistics, and she knows that Guardians generally die young. The longer she spends with Kas, the less she wants him to be her Guardian.

Which doesn’t mean she doesn’t want him around.

The FBI does not believe in psychic powers. But they do believe in serial killers. They don’t believe one little bit that Athena has any power whatsoever, but they can figure out that she’s one of the targets. Eventually.

They think she’s the perfect bait to trap the kidnapper.

Athena was worried that Guardians have a short life expectancy? The life expectancy of bait really sucks.

Escape Rating A-: The suspense aspects of this one are like the snowball going down the hill. Once it starts rolling, it never stops. The pace just gets faster and faster. Everyone involved becomes part of the action, which just gets more and more tense. Wow!

The romance takes its time to develop. It should be the wrong time for Kas and Athena. But they are so right for each other, if events can just slow down long enough for them to figure it out.

The big-bad villain may have been a bit over-the-top. Your mileage may vary. Believable villains seem to be difficult. The one element that really bugged me was Annabelle, Athena’s mother, and her long-standing relationship with, of all agencies, the Vatican. Would the Pope be using a psychic to predict when it was safe to travel? There’s more going on there, but it heads into spoiler country.

But if you’re looking for a fun mostly romantic suspense with a touch of psychic power, give The Delphi Bloodline a read. Be prepared not to re-surface until you’re done.


Ebook Review Central, Samhain Publishing, May 2012

Happy Monday! That means that Ebook Review Central is back. And we’re featuring Samhain Publishing’s May 2012 titles. And what a diverse group of titles they are!

Samhain covers everything imaginable, and this month is no exception. On one side, they have the nostalgic days of yesteryear, with their Retro Romances. And as far on the opposite corners from Retro sweetness as it could possibly get, Samhain has both a Horror imprint on one hand and this month two Science Fiction Romance series; Joely Skye’s Minders series for those who prefer their SFR to be Male/Male Romance, and the anthology series Midnight Justice, for those who prefer Male/Female SFR romantic action. With 35 titles in the list, there was bound to be something for everyone.

Also a few titles that may not have been for anyone. Some things didn’t garner any reviews this month, even on Goodreads and Amazon.

There was one title that seems to have been for just about everyone. At least, a lot of people read it, liked it, and said so. This week’s number one title was easy to pick! Joely Sue Burkhart’s Yours To Take stood out from the very large crowd in the list with 16 reviews, including top ratings on several blogs. Why was Yours To Take so well received? It looks like several factors. This is book three in Burkhart’s Connaghers series, and series books have built-in, or pent-up, demand. Added to that, Yours To Take taps into the ongoing interest in BDSM/Kink stories stirred up by 50 Shades. The Connaghers series should be on a lot of lists for readers interested in stories to read after that, and the whole series (Dear Sir, I’m Yours #1, Take Me #1.5, Hurt Me So Good #2)  gets high marks from reviewers.

The second featured title for this week is Hard Tail by JL Merrow. This Male/Male contemporary romance is a sweet love story that deals with some very hard issues. Tim gets laid off and divorced, at just about the same time. That kind of cosmic kick in the pants makes you re-examine which way your life is going. While his brother recovers from some injuries, Tim steps up and manages his bike shop for him. After all, he has the time. Time to discover that he’s a lot happier managing the bike shop than he ever was in the corporate world. And that part of the reason his marriage died is because he’s never let himself think about how far in the closet he’s been. But Matt, the repair tech at the bike shop, reminds him of why. But Matt has some problems of his own. An abusive boyfriend that he needs to free himself from before he can be ready to be involved with someone new. Reviewers loved the humor and discovery in this story. And also Tim’s cat clearly owns the bike shop and everyone in it.

The third and final featured title is the Midnight Justice anthology. This is a superhero romance containing three separate books, Blade of Moonlight by Kimberly Dean (#1), Superlovin’ by Vivi Andrews (#2) and Breaking Bad by Jodi Redford (#3). What you have here is a universe of good versus evil, with secret identities and crime fighters with super powers who fight in masks. Except that unlike the caped crusaders on TV, there’s also a lot of kinky sex involved. There’s also mind-controlling soda. Just in case you ever wondered about the “Secret Formula” for your favorite soft drink. These just read like sexy comic-book style fun to most reviewers.

So there you have this week’s features for Samhain Publishing. Kinky, bike-riding superheroes. Wait a minute, that’s not all in the same book. Maybe someone will have to write that one.

After looking at the Midnight Justice superhero stories, I simply can’t resist the Batman thing. So, we’ll be back next Monday with another exciting episode of Ebook Review Central. Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!

What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand? AKA The Sunday Post 7-15-12

It’s going to be a very busy week here at Reading Reality. And I’m not just talking about the blog.

For those of you in the library world, I’m going to do one totally shameless plug. I’m speaking at the ALA Virtual Conference on Wednesday, July 18. My topic is one that is near and dear to my geeky little heart. Of course I’m referring to ebooks. “Beyond the Bestseller List: Filling Patron Demand for Great eBooks Without the ‘Big 6 Publishers'”.

Back to the blog. I have two tours scheduled this week.

Tuesday, Donna Del Oro will be visiting, and guest posting, to talk about her very cool paranormal romance/romantic suspense novel, The Delphi Bloodline. I’ll also have a review. A psychic female meets her match when a family friend becomes her guardian. Then the skeptical FBI wants to use her as bait in a plan that nearly turns deadly. Oh, and the Pope is involved. Lots of surprises in this one.

And on Thursday, Jeffe Kennedy stops by to answer a few questions about Rogue’s Pawn, the first book in her new urban fantasy/paranormal romance series, Covenant of Thorns. Of course, I’ll also have a review of this twisty new book, where a woman from our world crosses into fae.

Looking ahead to next week, there are a few books on the radar that I’m really looking forward to diving into.

I’ll be reviewing The Virgin Huntress, the second book in Victoria Vane’s Devil DeVere series over at Book Lovers Inc. on July 27. The first book, A Wild Night’s Bride, was an absolute hoot, a glorious romp. (BLI review here, Reading Reality here) If you want to laugh along with your sexy romance, give AWNB a read. I’m hoping The Virgin Huntress is even more delicious fun.

Series set up expectations. That true for Laura Anne Gilman’s Dragon Justice, the next book in her Paranormal Scene Investigations Series book. The publication date is July 24. Again, I enjoyed the rest of the series (Hard Magic, Pack of Lies, Tricks of the Trade (Tricks reviewed here). I loved Gilman’s Retrievers series. I’m seriously looking forward to the night I’m going to spend reading Dragon Justice. Enough said.

Last but definitely not least. I’m in the next upcoming BlogHer Book Clubs. Those bring interesting books that I might not otherwise read. The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty starts next week. That book I did want to read. Not just because the book is a hot pick on a whole lot of lists, but because the Roaring 20s are so fascinating.

The Small Blogs Big Giveaways Blog Hop will be running all this week here and and on all of the participating blogs. So don’t forget to pop on over to the entry post and get your name into the hopper for all of the prizes. There are gift cards, books and ebooks. One riffle down the rafflecopter gets you entered into all the hop stops.

That’s enough for one week (or two weeks!) on this blog. Whew! What’s happening at your place?