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Midnight Burning: The Norse Chronicles, Book 1 by Karissa Laurel (Book Review)

When the police notify Solina Mundy that her twin brother, Mani, is dead, she heads for Alaska. Once there, she begins to suspect Mani’s friends know more about his death than they’ve let on. Skyla, an ex-Marine, is the only one willing to help her.

As Solina and Skyla delve into the mystery surrounding Mani’s death, Solina is stunned to learn that her own life is tied to Mani’s friends, his death, and the fate of the entire world. If she can’t learn to control her newfound gifts and keep her friends safe, a long-lost dominion over mortals will rise again, and everything she knows will fall into darkness.

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 


Karissa’s modern-day take on the Norse gods and goddesses was quite fascinating. In Midnight Burning, mortals no longer believed in gods and goddesses but they haven’t vanished. In actuality,  they live among us in plain sight. This twist reminded me a bit of a television show, American Gods. In that show, gods and goddesses walked among us, battled each other, but that’s really where the similarities ended.

In Midnight Burning, Karissa wrote about a woman, Solina, who didn’t know how special she really was or extent of the power that lies within her. She was the sun. She was able to exude light from her pores and burn things to ash. She was fearless. She was ready to take on everyone and everything that stepped in her way. She was pretty badass when she wanted to be.

Admittedly, there were parts of the story that seemed to drag but when Karissa allowed Solina to shine the pages seemed to fly by.

As I read the final page, I immediately wanted to start book two, Arctic Dawn. Unfortunately, I didn’t have this book but I knew I had to remedy this quickly. Karissa left me intrigued, dying to know where Solina’s journey took her next. I had to know what became of certain characters and if Solina would allow Thorin to capture her heart.

When you read a book in a series and instantly want more, then that’s the sign of a good storyteller… a good book.

Karissa Laurel is such an author and Midnight Burning was that book.

I encourage fans of mythology to purchase this book and the rest of the series. I have a feeling the rest will be just as entertaining as this one.


Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤

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Check out these books in the series! 

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Karissa lives in North Carolina with her kid, her husband, the occasional in-law, and a very hairy husky named Bonnie. Some of her favorite things are coffee, dark chocolate, super heroes and Star Wars. She can quote Princess Bride verbatim. In the summer she’s camping, kayaking, and boating at the lake, and in the winter, she’s curled up with a good book.

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The Norse Chronicles by Karissa Laurel (Author Showcase)


Midnight Burning

Solina Mundy lives a quiet life, running the family bakery in her small North Carolina hometown. But one night, she suffers a vivid nightmare in which a wolfish beast is devouring her twin brother, who lives in Alaska. The next morning, police notify her that Mani is dead. Driven to learn the truth, Solina heads for the Land of the Midnight Sun. Once there, she begins to suspect Mani’s friends know more about his death than they’ve let on. Skyla, an ex-Marine, is the only one willing to help her.

As Solina and Skyla delve into the mystery surrounding Mani’s death, Solina is stunned to learn that her own life is tied to Mani’s friends, his death, and the fate of the entire world. If she can’t learn to control her newfound gifts and keep her friends safe, a long-lost dominion over mortals will rise again, and everything she knows will fall into darkness.


Arctic Dawn

Alone and exhausted after her month-long sojourn as a shooting star, Solina Mundy flees to southern California to lie low, recuperate, and plot a survival strategy. The one person she trusts to watch her back is her best friend, Skyla Ramirez. But Skyla has been missing for weeks. The arrival of a dangerous stranger and the discovery of a legendary weapon of mass destruction force Solina out of hiding and back into the fight for her life.

Solina knows she won’t last long on her own. She must find out what happened to Skyla and unite her contentious allies if she hopes to track down this devastating weapon before her enemies use it to burn the world to ash.


Molten Dusk

While recovering from a devastating betrayal, Solina becomes increasingly drawn to Thorin as he helps her hunt down Skoll, the mythical wolf who vowed to kill her. If she can find and destroy the beast, she’ll bring a swift and brutal end to her enemies’ schemes. But nothing ever goes as planned in Solina’s strange new world.

During her search for Skoll, Solina uncovers a plot to unleash a battalion of legendary soldiers and launch an apocalyptic war. Before she and her allies can locate the fabled army, several ghosts from her past return to haunt her. Solina must fight for life and the fate of the world, or her hopes for love and a peaceful future will go up in flames.

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Midnight Burning Excerpt

As if he sensed my reticence, Val made the move that he must have thought would convince me to agree. But it was the wrong move. He swooped me into his arms and kissed me, hard and possessive. For a heartbeat I saw an image of the earth sinking into a sea of fire, but reality returned in the next moment. Val’s kiss was brutish, like he was trying to claim me. I didn’t care for it at all, and I shoved at him. “Val, stop it,” I said, turning away to gasp for breath. I reached for my fire, but I never got the chance to use it.

This time when Thorin appeared, it wasn’t in his usual silent and sudden way. His arrival was loud, like a steam train roaring into the station, crashing against Val and slamming him into the wall. I gasped and jumped out of the way.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing, Val?” Thorin raged like an angry giant. Fee-fi-fo-fum, indeed. “She made it clear that she wants you to leave her alone.”

Val shoved against Thorin, his biceps bulging from the effort, but Thorin held him in place.

She came to me,” Val said. “Apologizing, hoping to make up. Why don’t you ask her what she wants?” Val’s eyes darted to mine. “C’mon, Solina, tell us. You want me to keep my hands off?”

Thorin shoved him again. “It was a lot more than your hands.”

“Who do you think you are, Thorin? Her father? Her jealous lover? I know for a fact she’s never laid a hand on you.”

“You don’t know anything,” Thorin said.

Val’s certainty wavered for a second, his eyes flickering between me and Thorin. “Bullshit,” Val said, finally working up the force to push Thorin away. Val stormed over to his bed, grabbed the messenger bag containing his things, and slid the strap across his chest. “This is all bullshit.”

Fire simmered just under the surface of my skin, pushing like shaken champagne strains against a loose cork. The little devil on my shoulder urged me to let it out, convert all my feelings into a messy conflagration and burn down both Val and Thorin. Fortunately my voice of reason spoke louder. By the time I recovered my composure, Val was already out the door and making his way down the hall, so I turned my indignation on Thorin.

“What the hell?” I said. Thorin glared back at me, his eyes black and bottomless. “Who asked you to interfere?”

“Last night you announced to the whole house you were finished with Val. Then I come around the corner to find him plastered all over you, and you didn’t look like you were enjoying it.”

“Irrelevant!” I screeched. Thorin was intent on making me the damsel in distress, and I was sick of being underrated.

Thorin folded his arms over his chest and glared at me. “Who knew you were such a fickle creature, Miss Mundy?”

“It’s irrelevant because I was perfectly capable of handling Val on my own, but you always underestimate me. I’m not helpless. And stop calling me Miss Mundy. We both know you only do it to get under my skin.” I raged at him over the inconsequential because I didn’t want Thorin to know the depth of my confusion and hurt. Val’s insistence on treating me as some trophy to claim felt like a metaphorical fist squeezing my heart.

Thorin stepped closer and leaned down so that we were nose to nose. “And you continued to humor Val just to get under my skin.”

“Why won’t you understand that what happens between Val and me has nothing to do with you?”

Thorin leaned in even closer and dropped his voice. His warm breath brushed my cheek when he said, “Why won’t you understand just how wrong you are about that?”

“What are you saying?” My voice went dry and raspy as Thorin’s closeness filled my senses. My heartbeat changed from a frantic gallop to an anticipatory lope. My body was so quick to betray my convictions.

He brought his lips mere millimeters from mine and then stopped. His scent was thunderstorms and burnt sky. He cupped my face in his hands and rubbed a thumb over my lower lip. His touch was lightning, and it brought forth images of boiling clouds the color of bruises and winds like artillery, tearing into an army of shadows bearing claws and teeth. He growled, cursing in a language I did not recognize. If I’d had to guess, it probably translated to something along the lines of “damn it to hell.” Then he shook his head, and in a rough and broken voice he said, “I’m not like him. I won’t make his mistakes.”

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All the stories in The Norse Chronicles can be purchased separately.

See below for those links and for A Norse Chronicles novella, not found in the collection above. 

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Karissa lives in North Carolina with her kid, her husband, the occasional in-law, and a very hairy husky named Bonnie. Some of her favorite things are coffee, dark chocolate, super heroes and Star Wars. She can quote Princess Bride verbatim. In the summer she’s camping, kayaking, and boating at the lake, and in the winter, she’s curled up with a good book.


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Below the Belt by Jeanette Murray (Book Review)

Athletic trainer Marianne Cook is ready to do whatever it takes to turn the men of the Marine Corps boxing team into fighting machines. After all, her ultimate goal is to land a job training professional athletes. But when she notices a certain hard-bodied marine trying to hide an injury, Marianne realizes that she’ll have to use covert tactics to get him talking.
First Lieutenant Brad Costa has waited years for the chance to fight for a spot on the Marine Corps boxing team, knowing he has to push twice as hard to get half as far as his younger counterparts. Brad tries to downplay his injuries to the attractive trainer who has his dreams in her hands, but Marianne isn’t buying it. Maybe it’s time to deploy some targeted flattery.
As Brad and Marianne’s attraction turns red-hot, there’s more than one person having a hard time keeping their eyes on the prize…

Is it wrong/bad that I found more enjoyment from the bromances/camaraderie formed during the Marine boxing try-outs than I did the relationship between Cook and Costa?
The soldiers were sarcastic, hilarious, dedicated…… 
It was a glimpse into the world of our military men and I thoroughly enjoyed it – especially the pamphlet wonderland the men created. 
Cute, sweet, funny, and romantic. 
With that being said, I  did lower the score because I didn’t feel as connected to Brad and Marianne as much as I did the fellas (soldiers). 
I’m sure JM wanted to show the teamwork of the men, but more importantly, her goal was for her readers to feel/see the chemistry between the two main stars. Since I didn’t, it lost a couple hearts. Sorry, JM. 
On a final note……. HAWT COVER!!!! 
Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤❤


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Interview with Jambrea Jo Jones (Magnus)

1. Welcome,
Jambrea Jo Jones. For those who might not be familiar with you, would you be a
dear and tell the readers a little about yourself? How did you get your start in
the writing business? 
(JJ) Of course! I started of hating to read. Finally my aunt
brought over some romance novels and there were duplicates so my sister would
read to me and I would follow along in my copy of the book. It wasn’t long
after I was getting in trouble in math class for having a romance novel tucked
into my math book. Lol After that I thought—hey, I could do this. I could
write. But I didn’t really start writing until years later. I had graduated
from high school and did a year of college. Moved away from home to CA and came
back. Joined the Air Force, came back home and found yahoo groups. In one of
those groups there was a call for reviews and I started to review and the
writing bug came back and bit. This time it stuck! Lol
2. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, please share how you handle it.
(JJ) I take a LOT of breaks.
Like…I can write for a weekend and not get back to it for a few weeks. I do
most of my writing on the weekends and during the week I have a day job plus an
eight year old son. So I stay busy. I find that doing sprints with other
authors will help jump start my writing so I can get into a flow. Music will
sometimes help as well.
3. Contrary to what some people envision about a romance
writer’s life, it’s not all glitz and glam. Well not for the majority of us.
With that bubble sadly busted, when you’re not writing, how to do you spend
your time? 
(JJ) I’m a single mother who works a full time job. So most days I take
my son to school, go to work, come home and help my son with his homework, fix
dinner, get him ready for bed. Most nights I go to bed when he does. Lol And
I’m on line a lot talking to people.
4. I know many writers keep their
pastime/career a secret. Do those close to you know you write? If so, what are
their thoughts? 
(JJ) Everyone knows I write. I don’t have a pen. Well—I kind of
don’t have a pen. Lol My maiden name is Jones. I kept my married name after the
divorce because of my son. People at work know I write romance so does everyone
in my family. My FaceBook page is open to all—family, friends, fans. My parents
are proud, but—I do this for me. Even if they disapproved I would still be me
and write as I do. I don’t know how to do it any other way.
5. Will you share with us your all time favorite authors? If
you’re like me, it’s a long list so give us your top ten. 
(JJ) OMG Just a top ten!
No fair. Lol TA Chase, Amber Kell, Carol Lynne, JR Ward, Abigail Roux, SJ
Frost, Amy Lane, Belinda McBride, Suzanne Brockman, ZA Maxfield, Jayne
Rylon…oops, that’s eleven. I’ll stop now. Lol  
6. If you could choose one book to go to the big screen,
yours or otherwise, which book would you choose and whom would you love see
casted in the parts?  
(JJ) Wow, great
question. I would love to see….wow… um… I’ll say—my Alliance or Seeds of Dawn series.
Alliance is Sci-Fi and Seeds of Dawn is shifter. Heck, I could see my military
one too. Ugh… um… Let’s go with Magnus. That is my first book in my Semper Fi
series. It’s a marine book and m/f. I could see David Boreanaz as Magnus and
Sasha Alexander as Emily Patterson. Sasha played Kate Todd on NCIS. I actually
modeled the characters in the book off of those two so I could totally see them
doing the big screen movie!
The military is Marine Colonel Joe “Magnus” Rivers’ reason for being. Protecting the United States of America from all threats is his sole purpose in life. His world is turned upside down when a woman is assigned to his team of elite Marines and his attraction to her threatens his career.

NCIS Special Agent Emily Patterson’s orders: infiltrate Colonel Rivers’ team and find the culprits behind a rash of kidnappings connected to a sex slave ring. Her mission parameters didn’t include an attraction for Colonel Rivers but nothing in Emily’s career could have prepared her for Magnus. Her job becomes more difficult as she gets to know the man behind the uniform and Emily finds herself wanting to prove herself to him, potentially exposing her identity before she clears Magnus.

Magnus and Emily struggle against their growing feelings for one another, both knowing the consequences of giving in to lust. Magnus is Emily’s team leader and fraternising is against the rules. Emily is investigating Magnus and his team; getting involved with him could ruin her investigation and her career.

7. Would you care to tell us what you’re working on now?
That is if it’s not top-secret information. If so, just whisper it in my ear. I
swear it’ll go no further. 
(JJ) Lol I just finished my story for the new
Unconventional Anthology that I did last year for GRL. My story is called
Afternoon Delight and right now I’m working on True Colors and it should be
finished real soon and handed in. It’s part of a Mixed Tape call MLR did.
8. Where can we find your stories and is there a particular
reading order? 
(JJ) You can find my stories on my website. www.jambrea.com It should be set up in
reading order. As for buying my stories you can get them at Amazon, ARe, Barnes
and Noble as well as the publishers site.
9. Would you please share how your present and future fans
can contact you? 
(JJ) They can always email me at Jambrea@jambrea.com or binojo2@yahoo.com. I’m on FaceBook under
Jambrea as well!
10. Before we conclude this enlightening interview, do you
have anything else you’d like to share? The stage is all yours.  
(JJ) Goodness…um…only that I love talking to people
so feel free to email me or friend me on Facebook. I love writing and hope to
do it for many years. If anyone ever has a question—I’m pretty open so contact
I want to again thank Jambrea
Jo Jones for stopping by and I look forward to your next visit on April 19th! 
      (JJ) Thanks for having me! It’s been fun.


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Author Showcase – Mychael Black (Coriolis: Distress Signal)

The Coriolis series is my first solo foray into the world of science fiction. I came up with the idea thanks to my addiction to Bioware’s sci-fi game trilogy, Mass Effect. (ME 3 is my favorite, for those who play.) In fact, the titular ship, the Coriolis, was loosely inspired by the Normandy, the ship in Mass Effect.
The first book in the series is ‘Distress Signal’ and it introduces the key crew members of the Coriolis, namely the captain, Carter Therres. Carter and his crew have been tasked to rescue a reclusive scientist from a research vessel that’s come under attack. When they find the man, Carter realizes there’s a lot more at stake than a single man’s life. The entire human military has been overthrown, and now Carter and the scientist–Dr. Ash Mracek–have to rush to save another man’s life.
I loved writing this book. I’m usually deep into paranormal or fantasy worlds, so venturing into space and the future was an exciting journey for me. Book 2–‘Kill Fee’–is due out in April. That one picks up right where ‘Distress Signal’ left off, and this time, the men are anything but easy to deal with. One is Joren, the man Carter and Ash rescued in book 1, and the other is Morgan Reid, someone Joren never thought he’d ever see again. Morgan and Joren are like oil and water. Getting them to play nice in the beginning was an exercise in patience.
I’m now working on book 3, ‘Silent Running,’ which is due out in June. This one is a departure from my usual gay romance in a sense. It’s a menage, m/m/f, and involves Eric Kane, second-in-command to Captain Therres; Jordan Sawyer, the curvy female pilot of the Coriolis; and Major Kyle Cortez, a man who gave up everything and turned on his own government to save a group of children. It’s not my first m/m/f story (I have one other in an anthology), but it’s relatively new territory for me.
Anyway, that’s the inspiration behind one of my personal favorite series I’m currently working on these days. I hope y’all enjoy the books as much as I enjoy writing them!


Best Book of 2012 Nominee – Love Romances Cafe
In 2207, humanity is the dominant force in the galaxy. The Syndicate governs the humans, and its leader, Joren — a former Marine sharpshooter — oversees it all. When enemies attack a scientific research vessel, the SRV Maelstrom, Joren sends friend and fellow Marine Carter Therres to rescue an enigmatic and somewhat antisocial professor. The situation quickly spirals out of control, however, and soon the three men find out just how fast the mighty can fall.
Captain Carter Therres doesn’t know what to expect aboard the Maelstrom, but it sure as hell isn’t the gorgeous man waiting in the maintenance ductwork. Ash Mracek is unlike other men Carter has known, and the scientist’s past involves something much more sinister than the Academy bombing for which he was framed. Now it’s a race to save Ash — and possibly Joren — before their enemies can take them out of the picture for good.

The Hilasah Sector. What the hell was so special about one scientist that the Syndicate would spend precious resources keeping him safe in no-man’s-land? And why in God’s name did the Revenants attack a scientific research vessel at all?

Carter didn’t like the sound of this. He slipped into the communication room and waited until Joren came into view on the holo. “Talk to me.”

Joren grimaced. “I knew you wouldn’t let this go without more.”

“I’m going to get him, but I want to know why the hell Revenants want this man dead so bad.”

“Dr. Mracek has been researching the key to how Revenants survive in dark space, and how we can use that against them. He’s found something, but then the attack happened. The whole station’s gone silent.”

Carter sighed. “No wonder they want to kill him. What’s this about blowing up the Academy years ago?”

“Dr. Mracek was a professor there, but some of his colleagues felt he had too much sway. Someone set off explosions that leveled an entire research wing and blamed it on Mracek. The professor was in another area and the original saboteur was caught, but others sought to make the professor pay for one of their own going down. We had to get him out. Carter, Mracek hasn’t been around humans since then. His only contact has been with me via holo. I don’t know what kind of reception you’re going to get, but don’t let him die.”

“I won’t.”

“Captain, we’re nearing the Hilasah Sector,” Jordan announced over the speaker.

“On my way.” Carter turned back to Joren. “We’ll get him.”


Carter switched off the holo and went back to the bridge. He stood near Jordan, watching out the window while his pilot took them into the unnervingly quiet sector.

“Any sign of Revenants?”

“We’ve got one scout and three raider ships, all docked.”

“Fuck. Okay, get us close enough for the transport.”

Carter signaled to several of his soldiers who had already suited up in their armor and gathered outside the elevator. He led them down to the shuttle bay where they all grabbed their weapons. Then they loaded onto the transport. Carter took the pilot’s seat, and within a few minutes they had left the Coriolis and were nearing the Maelstrom.

“Jesus,” one of the soldiers, First Lieutenant Kane, muttered. “They really tore this place apart for this guy.”


Carter managed to maneuver the transport into a docking bay, slipping through the airlock barrier without detection. He had the feeling the Revenants weren’t too worried about backup. Hell, from the looks of things as he and his men stepped out of the transport, Carter figured the Revenants didn’t plan on leaving any soul alive.

“Three that way,” he ordered, pointing to one passage. “The other two, with me. We need to find the professor and get the hell out of here.”

The hall leading out of the docking bay emptied into a room that looked like a scene from a horror movie. Blood coated nearly every surface, and bodies lay strewn all over the room. Carter crouched in front of one — a Tessi, by the looks of her.

“Fuck, what did this doc do to piss off the Revenants?”

“Long story,” Carter said. He stood and surveyed the room. “Escape pods, though none have been fired. Fan out. We need to find –”

A soft thump high on the wall drew Carter’s attention to a grated cover. “Maintenance,” he muttered. He motioned for his men to watch the doorway. Then he approached the maintenance shaft.

“I’m Captain Therres, Local Marines.” When he didn’t get an answer, Carter continued. “We’re here on behalf of the Syndicate.”

Another bump sounded a little louder, and a face appeared behind the grate. Carter couldn’t make out the features, though it was definitely a man. A moment later, the grate wiggled and swung open. A slim man with a long, light brown braid and wire-rimmed glasses dropped to the floor with surprising grace.

“We’re looking for Dr. Mracek,” Carter said. “Look, I know you’re scared –”

“Scared?” The man whirled around, and Carter barely managed to keep his jaw from hitting the floor. Scientists weren’t supposed to be sexy. Were they? “Scared? My entire staff is dead! Revenants are tearing apart my station! Buddy, scared doesn’t begin to touch it!”

“Hey!” Carter grabbed the man’s shoulders, realizing — belatedly — that the man was armed. An arc pistol pressed to Carter’s stomach. He glanced down, then back up into wild hazel eyes behind those glasses. “I’m not the enemy.”

“I’ve had more than my share of humans as enemies.”

Recognition clicked in Carter’s brain. “Dr. Mracek?”

The man — the professor — nodded, the motion jerky.

“We’re here to rescue you. Joren sent us.”

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Myc has been writing professionally since 2005, solo and with Shayne Carmichael. Genres include pretty much anything (no steampunk yet), though Myc is well known for paranormal stories. When not writing, Myc is usually playing PC games, reading, editing, watching movies and shows on Netflix and Amazon, or spending way too much time on Facebook. Since the question has come up in the past, pronouns are not an issue. Myc is bio-female, mentally male, 100% genderfluid. So any pronoun works!


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