Book Review: Shadows of Ghosts

review-cover-shadows of ghostsTitle: Shadows of Ghosts

Author: L.A. McGinnis

Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Dark Fantasy

Rating: 3 Stars (2.5)

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Description/Synopsis:

Driving to South Carolina to claim an inheritance from a total stranger didn’t figure into Logan Dean’s long term plans. But she’d be a fool to pass up an opportunity, and her mother didn’t raise any fools. Now she’s fighting to stay alive in the middle of a vampire war. Thankfully, she’s discovered an ally in mysterious Ian Grant. As her feelings for Ian grow, Logan realizes if she wants the love she deserves, she’ll have to fight the demons of her past.

For over a hundred years, cynical Ian Grant swore to never love another woman. But from the first time he saw Logan, he knew an ancient part of his history had come back to haunt him, and the one thing he doesn’t want becomes the one thing he has to have.

Two irreconcilable lives, five hundred years of history, and all they have to do to live happily ever after is defeat the evil that threatens to tear them apart

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I certainly have mixed feelings about Shadows of Ghosts by L.A. McGinnis. Although the writing was mostly easy to read with a clear narrative voice, there were quite a few typos that really should have been cleaned up before publication. The plotline was interesting, as well as the many characters—I really enjoyed Logan as the female lead… but this book suffered from one major problem.

Pacing.

This book moved incredibly quickly from plot point to plot point. Conversations, action, and basic periods of time were flipped through one after the other. Unfortunately, this gave the book a rushed feel, and it made it harder to follow along with what was happening, as well as to grow attached to the characters. The romance, the friendships, the drama… it didn’t feel believable because of how quickly everything was moving. It felt like one moment Logan was discovering the brooding male lead, and then the next she was in Scotland with his friends (who, as far as I can recall, she was never introduced to), and then they were back home. The drama and romance came off as cheesy and fake because there was no time to soak in the sexual tension or the conflict in the relationship.

I think this book could have been really spectacular as a paranormal romance read, but the pacing just absolutely killed it for me. Overall, it was an okay read. I was entertained, I liked the characters, and the plot was interesting and well-thought out… I just wish the author had slowed down to let me enjoy it.

Book Review: The Girl Who Talks To Ghosts

reivew-cover-the girl who talks to ghostsTitle:  The Girl Who Talks to Ghosts [GhostWriters 2]

Author: J.H. Moncrieff

Genre: Contemporary, Horror, Paranormal, Mystery

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Would you risk everything to save a stranger?

Off the coast of Venice lurks Poveglia, the world’s most haunted isle, steeped in centuries of innocent blood. A deranged doctor who took great joy in torturing his patients in life continues to rule his abandoned asylum after death.

Few go to Poveglia willingly, but medium Kate Carlsson has no choice. It’s her job.

While struggling to retrieve a young girl’s soul, Kate uncovers some shocking truths about the evil on the island that challenges her own convictions and morals—and even her life.

Is saving Lily worth making a deal with the infamous Doctor of Death, or is the price too high to pay?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

It took me awhile to decide how I was going to rate The Girl Who Talks to Ghosts by J.H. Moncrieff—the second book in the GhostWriters series. I honestly can’t decide if I liked it more than the first book or not. Personally, the ghost story and surrounding aspects of the plotline were a lot more interesting for me than those of the first book. I liked Lily’s POV as well as Kate’s much better than I liked Jackson’s (even though I didn’t know it at the time). It was fun following Kate around as she delved further into the paranormal than the author had been willing to in the first book.

Unfortunately, not all was hugs and puppies. I think an unfortunate consequence of Kate and Lily’s POVs being so interesting, was that Jackson fell a bit by the wayside. He was definitely more of a supporting character in this story, and honestly, kind of a useless one. He seemed to be around mostly to illustrate his ignorance about the paranormal, and to fail at being diplomatic. I don’t think he was necessarily as integral to the plot as he was intended to be, and so his character fell a bit flat.

As a smaller note, there were also a few plot holes. Most were minor, and they didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story as a whole, so I’ll leave it at that.  If you’re looking for a solid paranormal ghost story, I highly recommend you check out this author and the various books in this series.

Free Fiction Friday #101

Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday #101! For those of you who are new to this blog, or who may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays—every Friday I post an article containing 10 fiction e-books that are 100% FREE on Amazon at the time of posting and an additional 5 that are roughly of the same genre, and on sale for less than $5.

I try my best to make sure they are all 4+ stars, have over 40+ reviews, and are 100 pages minimum—so you can have a hand-picked list of the best-of-the-best to choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things, like laundry). I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our theme is: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense>Ghosts!

THE FREE

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THE BARGAINS

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Book Review: City of Ghosts

reivew-cover-city of ghostsTitle: City of Ghosts [GhostWriters 1]

Author: J.H. Moncrieff

Genre: Contemporary, Horror, Paranormal, Mystery

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

On the day the villagers were forced to flee Hensu, not everyone got out alive.

Jackson Stone is touring the abandoned Chinese city when he slips away from the group to spend the night, determined to publish an account of his ghostly experiences there.

Then he meets Yuèhai, a strange, soft-spoken woman who can tell him the city’s secrets—secrets the Chinese government would kill to keep hidden.

As Jackson uncovers the truth about Yuèhai and the ghost city, he’s drawn into a web of conspiracy, betrayal, and murder. He must risk everything to save himself and bring honor back to Yuèhai and her family.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I didn’t expect to enjoy this book as much as I did, but wow, did I. City of Ghosts by J.H. Moncrieff succeeded at not only being a creepy ghost story, but a fascinating assay into another culture, and an action-packed adventure all in one. I’m a huge horror fan, but books don’t usually creep me out—and this one did. I was up till 2 am reading, and I couldn’t stop myself from checking out the dark corners of my house—just to be sure. My attempts to pronounce Yuehai out loud to myself during my read-through made me feel as if I were conjuring her ghost into my house.

This story was well written. I didn’t run into any obvious typos, grammatical errors, or formatting mistakes. The narrative voice was both detailed and easy-to-follow without being overbearing or poetic. The characters were interesting and although not terribly complex, I couldn’t help but like them—even the ones I grew to hate. (I’m looking at you, Meghan & Harold).

Overall—this was just a fantastic book. I read through it in a matter of hours, and I almost hated to stop and sleep (but I was only halfway in at that point, so I figured I better!) It’s been a long time since I’ve picked up a ghost story that I’ve liked as much as I did this one. There were elements of the Chinese culture, a ghost story, action/adventure, human rights, and even a tad bit of a romance within its pages. If you’re looking for a good all around read, I’d highly recommend picking up this book. I’m excited to read on into the rest of the series!

Book Review: Devil’s Cove

review-cover-devil's coveTitle: Devil’s Cove [Tortured Souls 1]

Author: R.C. Matthews

Genre: Historical, Gothic, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Shrouded in unspeakable horror and spoken of only in whispers, the abandoned Devil’s Cove Manor lures Captain Devlin Limmerick and his unquenchable thirst for revenge to its doors. Feared as the Devil on the high seas, the pirate’s desire to avenge his past is matched only by his hunger for the powerful young medium he has coerced to aid him in his nefarious quest.

Blinded from youth and touched with an ability to communicate beyond the grave, Grace is both feared and revered by the uneasy town folk. Yet she is powerless against the unrest brewing within the manor walls and finds herself drawn to the Devil’s darkness. Still, she refuses to sacrifice her soul to set Devlin’s unspeakable plans in motion.

But an evil lurks within these walls, and their very souls are in jeopardy. Grace’s presence at the manor spurs inexplicable happenings, forcing Devlin to believe nothing is as dead as it seems – not even his heart. Plunged into the throes of passion and danger, they discover the only way out is to search deep within and summon the courage to believe in true love.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Devil’s Cove by R.C. Matthews was a little outside what I normally read in historical romances. I can honestly say that this is maybe the first Gothic Romance I’ve ever read—and I got quite a kick out of it. The characters were interesting and unique, the plot was wholly different than what I’m used to in a historical romance, and there was a dark edge of danger to the plot that I found fascinating.

Technically speaking, the book was well edited. I ran into a few typos, but nothing that pulled me out of the narrative. The writing flowed easily, the dialogue seemed fairly natural, and I greatly enjoyed the plot. The only real problem I had with the technical side of the book, was perhaps the language. There were definite moments when I doubted the words used and if they were appropriate to the historical theme of the book, and on the opposite side of the spectrum, there were a lot of moments when I saw true historical bits throw in, but they were done so in a way that made me stop and go “oh. the author wanted me to notice that they did research.” There was no need for it, and it was a little clunky.

That aside, I greatly enjoyed the plot and the romance. Devlin and Grace were dynamic characters and though vastly different in nature, melded well. Their backgrounds, though often painful to read, were interesting and provided genuine context to their personalities. I really enjoyed them! Josephine seemed to be a character straight out of a horror film, and as seductive and evil as she was presented, I couldn’t help but love her as well. She wasn’t a cardboard villain in a black hat—and I loved that about her. She was a real person with real motivations, and she was both dangerously evil, and sweet at the same time.

And as a side-note… I was so thrilled to see Neptune’s Ballroom included in the story because it is a fantastic site that I’ve seen and heard about in previous instances and always thought was a fascinating place! I squealed with joy when I realized where the ballroom was—almost as soon as Devlin pointed out that no one had found it. I just –knew- it was going to be where it was, and was overjoyed to be proven right. Well done!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The kind of ill-handled historical aspects of it aside, I thought it was a wonderfully colorful book full of great characters and an interesting plotline, and if you’re looking for a fast gothic romance to enjoy, I would highly recommend you pick this up!

Free Fiction Friday #38

Hello ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday #38!  For those of you who are new to this blog, or who may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays: every Friday (okay, almost every Friday – I try).  I post an article containing 10 fiction e-books that are 100% free on Amazon at the time of posting (and an additional 5 that are roughly of the same genre and on sale for less than $5).  I try my best to make sure they’re all 4+ stars with over 40+ reviews and 100 pages minimum if I can (it isn’t always possible) — so that you can get a list of the best of the best choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things than post… like laundry).  I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our theme is: Paranormal Fantasy->Ghosts!  Enjoy!

THE FREE

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THE BARGAINS

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Nightmares & Hauntings: PART 2 (Story Time!)

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(Continued from PART 1)

Our second house was a three-story monstrosity that had been built by a carpenter for him and his handful of sons. It had a first floor that was half underground, a second floor, and a third floor that was split in two. You had to cross the entire house to get between the two halves of the third floor via the second and a set of stairs. It also had a multitude of crawlspaces and several (yes, several) enclosed attics that were separate from each other and required separate entrances. My father even found a closed-off room behind one of the walls that seemed to have no entrance except through a hole in one of the attics.

We’re talking the stuff of nightmares here.

When we moved in, I purposefully picked a room that had no attic entrance and had a lock on the door. I was planning ahead you see. Oddly, and though we wouldn’t remember this until years later, the first day we moved into this new house, my sister and I went to our rooms, sat in the middle of the floors (to get a feel for our new space), and when we came out, turned to each other and exclaimed “A little girl used to live in my room!” “A guy used to live in mine!” It was just a feeling we had – a bit of silliness between sisters, and we didn’t think of it again for quite awhile.

I’m not exactly sure when strange things started to happen in that house. It’s a bit hazy to me—but I do remember sitting in our computer room one day (which was next to my bedroom and across the hall from the bathroom on our half of the third floor) and I started staring off into space towards the bathroom. There was the briefest flash of an imagine in my mind of a man sitting on the edge of the bathtub, watching us in the other room… like a brief glimpse of an idea or a memory, and when my sister asked me what I was staring at—even before I could think about a reply—I turned back to the computer and said as if it were the most natural thing in the world: “Joe.” and continued on with whatever it was I was doing. My sister didn’t question it. It was just something we both knew.

Now, I would never call myself sensitive or a medium. I think those labels are silly and make you sound somewhat insane—but it is widely believed that identical twins have a connection that science just can’t seem to understand. We know what the other is thinking, and often finish each other’s sentences. I’d like to attribute some of what I know and sensed in that house to that connection…whatever that means.

Even before the footsteps started and things started moving around the house on their own, we also knew just as we had about “Joe”, the man who inhabited the third floor with us, that there was something terribly wrong with the basement (1st floor). Walking down those stairs (which were right next to the stairs to the third floor) was like walking into a dark hole—even though there were windows. It felt wrong down there, and even during the day I would catch myself running up the stairs as if I were being chased. At night I wouldn’t even look down the stairwell unless I knew a family member was down there.

A few times we heard giggling, whispers, and a child’s voice from down those stairs, particularly around the room that sat under the stairs, and a bedroom at the far end. We believed there was a malevolent child ghost in that basement, though I couldn’t tell you why, and we nicknamed her Isabella. (I have no idea what her real name might have been or why she was there). I only know that she gave off this feeling that sent a chill up your spine, and she never ventured up out of the first floor. Joe on the other hand, didn’t scare us. We treated him as a guardian of sorts, and he almost always stuck to the third floor. I can’t say why we felt that way, but our general impression was that the two didn’t like each other.

Now I realize I’m starting to sound a bit crazy, but hang in there with me. These stories have a purpose: context.

One night, after raving about our haunted house to our friends for well over a year, we had a slumber party, and we invited all our friends to spend the night in the basement with us. We told ghost stories, recounted true stories about our previous hauntings, and unfortunately, we played with a Ouija Board. I won’t get into the details, but after that night, we never played with our Ouija Board again, and my friends vowed never to sleep over in our basement again. Everyone felt the wrongness of that place.

Part-way through the night, as we were telling stories, we heard a THUNK! from upstairs (the third floor where our bedrooms were). Curious, we all raced up stairs to the second floor, turned the corner to race up the stairs to the third floor, and discovered that there, sitting at the top of the stairs as if it had been gently placed there (and totally facing down the stairs) was my Kindergarten Diploma. What you have to understand, is that the Diploma (in it’s picture frame) had previously been sitting atop of a tall computer desk (one of those HUGE ones that’s over 6 feet tall) behind a lamp and a dollhouse, and also behind a partially closed door. (it was open maybe 6-12 inches).

Somehow, it had ended up at the top of the stairs (out in the hall and 8 feet from it’s previous spot) without having knocked anything down, been broken, and past the still mostly-closed computer room door. We had no explanation for it, but from that point on, my friends believed me when I said my house was haunted.

Unfortunately, that was not the end of it. I will never forget the moment it was at it’s worst in that house. Mirrors and TV reflections still make me nervous.

(Story Time will continue in Part 3)