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Review of “Conspiracy of Ravens: Raven Crawford Book 1” – J. C. McKenzie

Raven Crawford knows better than to venture into the seductive world of the dark fae or agree to any of their salacious promises. She plans to pay off her debts so she can get on with her life and stay far away from the denizens of the Underworld.

Unfortunately, her numbskull twin steals from the most tempting and lethal fae of them all. Now, Raven must help the Lord of Shadows get back what her idiot brother stole. Her only weapons? Just a little ingenuity and a whole lot of snark. It’s suicide for sure, but she’ll do anything to protect her twin.

 

 

Shadows encased them. Her scalp prickled as if someone reached out and gripped her head with giant fingers. Raven twisted around to find a large figure blocking out the moonlight.

“You!” she hissed.

“Move.” Cole’s deep voice punctured the quiet forest and silenced Mike’s whimpering.

Before she could demand answers, Cole flowed forward, gathered them both in his arms and pushed them into the darkness of the trees. A shadowy film settled over them, much like the dark cloak when Cole had pulled her into the shadows at Bear’s apartment.

A branch snapped down the deer trail to the right.

Cold settled over her skin.

Moments later another large, looming figure entered the clearing. Luke. Again. She couldn’t lose these two dark fae. They kept hopping back into her life like rabid fleas.

 

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

Conspiracy of Ravens is by far my favorite J.C. McKenzie novel

I loved how she didn’t limit herself to stereotypical shifting scenarios. Human body to ONE particular animal… No, not for JCM. JCM didn’t limit any character’s power, and the story was better for it. 

Mystery.

Passion. 

Love.

Anger.

Humor. 

Danger.

Magic.

Deception.

Heartache. 

Surprises. 

Plot twists.

You’ll find all the above in Conspiracy of RavensYou’ll also find yourself eagerly grabbing for book 2 in the series, Nevermore

Special note to the author: I love how Raven curses. “Odin’s scrotum!” 😀

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score:  ❤❤❤❤1/2

 

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J.C. McKenzie is a book-loving, gumboot-wearing, unapologetic science geek. She’s the author of the Carus Series, an urban fantasy five-book saga published by the Wild Rose Press. Born and raised on the West Coast, J. C. sets the majority of her books in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Canada. She writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance with sassy heroines and brutish, alpha-type men.

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Review of “Dreams Of Lake Drukka & Exhumation” – Mike Thorn

Dreams of Lake Drukka and Exhumation explore the unearthing of horrific, long-buried family secrets. Journeying into the darkest recesses of the past, these stories depict the dire consequences of discovering the truth.

Writing about Dreams Of Lake Drukka and Exhumation, author Mike Thorn said: “It was only in retrospect that I could see the connections between these two stories. When I revisited them for publication, it struck me that they work well as companion pieces. Both plots depict unfulfilled pacts with supernatural undercurrents, both include journeys to uncover unresolved familial trauma, and both pivot around the revelation of repressed memories. I wanted to explore the relationship between setting and atmosphere in these pieces, and to depict horror within internal and physical ‘sites of trauma.’ The characters are grappling with painful memories / experiences that have held them back, consciously or unconsciously. One story focuses on a character who is the agent of her own revelations, whereas the other story sees someone whose agency is quickly and brutally taken away.”

(Cover by Adrian Baldwin)

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

 

Dreams Of Lake Drukka:

For a while, I was wondering when the horror would begin in Dreams Of Lake Drukka. For a couple dozen or so pages, it was mostly sisterly squabbles. Basically, arguments many siblings have or had partaken in a time or two (or more). It wasn’t until Jeannette and Sharla crossed over the fence leading to Lake Drukka when things finally started to look up. Well, for us horror readers it did…not so much for these two gals or their daddy.

The terror-filled moments starring the phantom were spooky in written form. However, it would downright terrify viewers in 2 or 3D. This would be one of those movies you’ll be screaming at the screen, “Run, chick, run!!!!”

Since my mind tends to operate like a movie projector, I can visualize it in 2D.

First ½ of the Dreams Of Lake Drukka: 2 hearts (stars)

Last ½ of the story: 4 and1/2 hearts (stars)

Overall score: 3 and 1/2 hearts (stars)

 

Exhumation:

Exhumation started off creepy, progressed to F***ed up and stayed firmly in that position until the very end.

From the start, Norm proved to be a strange character but I had no idea how quickly things would go from strange to I WANT TO HURL!

If you like creepy, weird, and/or grotesque scenes then you must read Exhumation.

Score on this story alone: 4 ½ hearts (stars)

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Overall Score:❤❤❤❤

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Mike Thorn is the author of Darkest Hours and Dreams of Lake Drukka & Exhumation. His fiction has appeared in numerous magazines, anthologies and podcasts, including Dark Moon DigestThe NoSleep PodcastTurn to Ash and Tales to Terrify. His film criticism has been published in MUBI NotebookThe Film StageThe Seventh RowBright Lights Film Journal and Vague Visages. He completed his M.A. with a major in English literature at the University of Calgary, where he wrote a thesis on epistemophobia in John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness. Visit his WEBSITE, connect with him on TWITTER and follow him on GOODREADS.
 
 

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Review of “The Shop Before Life” – Neil Hughes

After two happy centuries in the prelife, Faythe is battling the most dangerous human emotion. She’s bored.

But when she accepts a once-in-a-prelifetime opportunity to become Apprentice at the magical Shop Before Life, her days become dreadfully interesting.

Now she helps customers with the most important choice they’ll ever make: who to become in the afterprelife–or “life”, for short. Will they be born on Earth with MATHEMATICAL GIFTS? Or perhaps they’d prefer DELIGHTED BY CATS?

But Faythe has questions of her own. Like–what exactly is in these jars of human traits? And who is the mysterious Supplier who creates them?

Unfortunately, these questions could awaken an ancient conflict and even destroy the Shop itself. They should maybe mention that sort of thing during orientation.

Management are going to be furious, but their divine punishment must wait. Right now, Faythe needs to discover the secrets of the Shop in order to save it.

If she fails, nobody will become themselves ever again . . .

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

 

Life is a fickle b!tch. People are born. People live. People die.

People speculate what comes after death. Some people believe there’s a heaven and hell. While others stand firm in the knowledge, nothing is awaiting us in the afterlife. With all the discussion on the after, people rarely speak of the before. This is where The Shop Before Life became very interesting to me.

Whether you have faith in a higher being or not, this story will get you thinking. I can’t disclose the bombshell Faythe discovered when she met Management; however, I will briefly talk about the shop and the jars of traits.

 

Every possible trait was available to those who entered the shop.

1.) Grab a basket and browse the numerous aisles.

2.) See something you like, add it to your basket.

3.) Once you fill your basket and can’t carry anymore, head to checkout.

4.) Now, you are all set to journey to Earth and be born.

 

Sounds simple, right?! Ah, the simplest ideas and jobs often prove most challenging.

Have you ever been to the store and the shelves haven’t been restocked yet?

Something you want is out of stock?

Maybe your favorite store closed down?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then how upset did you become?

The people of prelife reacted in the same manner you’d expect a living, breathing person to behave. Yup, they went off the rails.

Life on Earth was affected because of the events happening in and around the shop.  I won’t say how though. (No Spoilers)

 

I encourage everyone to read this story. It’s highly entertaining, thought-provoking, and the perfect book for many age groups.

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score:❤❤❤❤

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As well as The Shop Before Life, Neil Hughes is the author of Walking on Custard & the Meaning of Life, a hilarious and useful guide to life with anxiety. Along with writing more books, he spends his time on humorous talks about mental health, standup comedy, physics, computer programming, and everything from music, video games, languages and pub quizzes. He struggles to answer the question “so, what do you do?” and is worried that the honest answer is probably “procrastinate.” He would like it if you said hello at enhughesiasm.com

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Review of “The Crown for Castlewood Manor: My American Almost-Royal Cousin Series” – Veronica Cline Barton

The English ancestral manor of Cherrywood Hall is ready to compete for selection in an upcoming British TV period drama series: the grounds are manicured, the mansion is polished, and the servants are poised. American heiress Gemma Lancaster Phillips has crossed the pond to help her cousin defeat the three other stately homes vying for the prize.

What Gemma doesn’t realize is that this competition is life or death, and someone is taking that challenge literally. The occupants of one home are killed in an automobile accident, and murder becomes a frequent occurrence at the other locations. Who is behind the mayhem? Selection would be a major coup for both the estate and the community. At first the other contestants seem to be likely suspects, but no one is quite certain as the tragedies continue. Could it even be Emma’s beloved cousin Evan, the surviving heir to the Lancaster fortune, or Kyle, his best friend and estate manager? With the Royal family in attendance at each event, the puzzle becomes a crucial one for Scotland Yard, and they enlist Gemma’s help to solve the mystery.

When the competition’s winner is announced on New Year’s Eve, will Gemma’s future be forever tied to her ancestral past?

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

Wow, royal families really know how to throw a party. No matter where the competition events were being held, pandemonium was soon to erupt.

Shots fired. Drinks poisoned. Suspicious car accidents.

Who was the killer and was he or she working alone?

This was not a simple murder mystery book. Veronica Cline Barton (the author) will have you guessing right up until the end when Chief Inspector Marquot explains all the motives behind each illegal act.

BTW: I would be shocked to know any reader was 100% correct in all the who’s and why’s of this multiple murder mystery.

I do have some bit of advice before you crack open this book. Grab snacks!

Veronica mentioned food so many times that I was starving by the time I finished the book. 🙂

Good luck, super sleuths!

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score:❤❤❤❤

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Veronica Cline Barton earned graduate degrees in both engineering and business and has had successful careers in the software and technology industries. Her lifelong love affair with British murder mysteries inspired her to embark on a literary career. The Crown for Castlewood Manor and Cast, Crew, & Carnage; the Filming of Castlewood Manor are the first and second books in what she calls her My American Almost Royal Cousin Series. When not traveling and spinning mystery yarns, she lives in California with her husband, Bruce, and her two cats, Daisy and Ebbie.

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Review of “Breaking Eselda” and “Redeeming Jordyn” – Tabatha Shipley

~ Book One: A Kingdom of Fraun series ~

Strength, humility, speed, mirth, and wisdom are perfectly balanced in the kingdom of Fraun where council leaders make decisions in the best interest of all Fraunians. Meanwhile, young Princess Eselda is being groomed to eventually take the throne of Enchenda. But as her reign draws closer and long-held secrets are revealed, she realizes that her title comes with challenges she never imagined.

In Fraun, there are rulers who will kill to keep their secrets hidden; and rulers who will kill to change the council.

What kind of ruler will Eselda be?

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

 

Murder, mystery, deception, secrets, scandals, and a love triangle await you amongst the pages of Breaking Eselda.

Eselda’s life is not dull. As she prepares to take the throne, her life is bombarded with questions. Is she ready to rule Enchenda? Should she get married? Whom should she marry? Is she prepared to birth an heir to the throne?

Being in charge of a realm is a taxing job. There are so many decisions to be made. There’s also the worry of becoming dark and malicious around your 20th birthday.

In Breaking Eselda, a lifespan isn’t nearly as long as what we have in real life. At age marker ten, a royal individual reaches full height. When he or she reaches forty annuals, their hair turns gray, and their bodies begin to fail them. Death soon follows. 

I wouldn’t want life to end this soon.

I also wouldn’t want to ride on a talking cockroach or eat earthworm stew. For sure, the only bug I would ever consider using for transportation is a Volkswagen Beetle. 😀

No, I like my bugs small, and my meals bug-free.

 

This book is labeled young adult, but even people with many years under his or her belt will find enjoyment with it as well.

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤❤❤

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~ Book Two: A Kingdom of Fraun series ~

King Jordyn is realizing things in Fraun were not what they appeared to be. With Queen Eselda of Enchenda making the choice to side with King Tin of Sarcheda, it seems like war is coming to Fraun.

Does Jordyn have what it takes to save Fraun?

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

 

Design-wise, Breaking Eselda and Redeeming Jordyn couldn’t be any different. Breaking Eselda’s cover is bold, eye-catching; whereas, Redeeming Jordyn’s cover is dull and lifeless. When you open up the books, you’ll notice the story setups are also vastly different. Breaking Eselda has zero double spacing between lines and paragraphs while Redeeming Jordyn was littered with them. If you placed these two books side by side, you’d swear they had two different designers and editors. I also found more editing errors in Redeeming Jordyn than its predecessor. 

As for plot and execution, Redeeming Jordyn had its share of shocking developments. As with any war, people rose up to fight their oppressors. Blood was spilled, lives were lost, but it wasn’t all for naught. 

Leaders emerged, hearts mended, and the land of Fraun has hope once again. 

All in all, Redeeming Jordyn was an okay read. Was it as good as Breaking Eselda? No, but I would still recommend it to others. 😉 

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤❤

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Tabatha is the author of the Kingdom of Fraun series,Projection, and 30 Days Without Wings. She believes strongly in the power of helping others and is always willing to help out a fellow writer or reader. Find and connect with her on whichever social media platform you love best.

 

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