Life, Death, and Back Review


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+Received from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you

Life, Death and Back by Cynthia Vespia. Bryan Caleb is left with a dilemma on his hands. After dying and refusing to go to heaven, he is given the choice of helping Lisa Zane set her life straight. He tries to comply but she is not making things easy. Neither is his family for that matter.


I found it curious that the book was written in three parts because the book now feels like a collection of short stories involving Lisa Zane and Bryan Caleb (plus his family). I think Vespia made a good choice in doing so because Friends and Enemies really does not match as a continuation story to  Guardian and Resurrection

In Guardian, Bryan is helping Lisa, who is in a great deal of trouble, get her life back from Cyrus and his drugs. That’s where they meet Thomas Martin, a straight-laced detective passing for a crook, and Martin manages to protect Lisa from Cyrus until Bryan steps in. Point being, Bryan helps her out. In Resurrection, Bryan who has been dead for 18 years comes back to world of the living to help out his son. The overall feel of this second part just does not jive with the feel of the first part. There is so much more anger in it that was not expressed in Guardian.The anger affects how the characters are seen and the overall feel of the story.  At first, I really could not find any traits that were redeemable in Kriticos (Bryan’s son) because he was so angry and his thoughts were borderline psychopathic. In the final part, Friends and Enemies, Chris (Kriticos) is together with Lisa when their part catches up to them meaning Chris’s anger issues and Cyrus.

For a paranormal book that deals with angels, it certainly does not feel like a paranormal book. More like a slice of life. The issues that drive the book forward are very real (drug addiction, violence, anger issues, sexual assault) and less to do with the paranormal world. Even when Bryan is a ghost, it does not feel paranormal because he does not actively explores his abilities and what paranormal activity happens is based on chance.  Friends and Enemies has no paranormal factors in it; it is just real life.

I do have two issues with this book. One is the lack of pain Cyrus feels when he (spoiler alert) gets his “junk blow off.” There is just a lack of pain that I personally feels he deserves. He tormented Lisa, he beats her up and while he is scarred horribly by not having a certain anatomy, it still feels like he is getting a better than deal than Lisa because his pain is not expressed. My second issue is with Thomas Martin keeping his real name when he goes underground. It does not make sense for him to keep a name he uses as a cop to be the same name he uses as the underling to Cyrus. These are just two issues that are off for me. The good thing is that it does not take anything away from the book.

Overall, I felt like I was reading a collection of short stories rather than a book. Lisa Zane was really the only  character that was present in all three. I wished I had received more details on the afterlife but the problems on Earth were interesting. I’m not sure whether I should label this as a paranormal book but I like the book in general.

3.5 Fleur de lis-Good but lacks spice

3.5 Fleur de lis
32nd book in the 100+ Reading Challenge

Feel free to buy the book at Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Cynthia can be reached at her blog so check her out.


On My Wishlist # 4


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                      on my wishlist

On My Wishlist is a weekly meme hosted by Book Chick City. It’s a spot to highlight books that you want but have not gotten. This week’s book is Verspetine by Saundra Mitchell. Not only do I love the cover but I like the name of the book. I think I like it because of words that start with V are rare and not used commonly besides Vampire, Victoria, and Veronica (and van).  The story within the cover also sounds interesting. Prophecies.


Taken directly from Amazon:
“It’s the summer of 1889, and Amelia van den Broek is new to Baltimore and eager to take in all the pleasures the city has to offer. But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions she has only at sunset—visions that offer glimpses of the future. Soon, friends and strangers alike call on Amelia to hear her prophecies. However, a forbidden romance with Nathaniel, an artist, threatens the new life Amelia is building in Baltimore. This enigmatic young man is keeping secrets of his own—still, Amelia finds herself irrepressibly drawn to him.

When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Amelia’s world is thrown into chaos. And those around her begin to wonder if she’s not the seer of dark portents, but the cause.”

Vampire Academy Review


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Vampire Academy is the first book in the Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead. Rose and Lissa are forced to return to St. Vladimir Academy after being on the run for two years. On their return, they find things have changed and someone is set on hurting Lissa.


I have heard great things about this series so I finally started reading it. I have to admit it does not disappoint.  The story starts in the middle of a runaway situation but it gets explained later on. We have Rose who is a dhampir and Lissa, a Moroi (which just means full-blooded vampire). They have an interesting connection in that Rose can slipped into Lissa’s mind and feel her feelings.

I think it was an interesting division between the type of vampires that exist and their abilities. We have the Moroi who are alive and good vampires versus the Strigoi who are undead and evil vampires (if you maintain to a common belief). Plus, the Moroi have unique control over certain elements. Christian is a fire magic user and a romantic interest for Lissa which Rose does not like because of Christian’s history. Essentially, the Moroi rely on the dhampirs to protect them from the Strigoi. And Rose wishes to become Lissa’s personal bodyguard which she can since she is a dhampir.

What I like the most is that most of the characters actually drove the plot forward. We have Natalie, Lissa’s cousin, who basically mentally tortures Lissa. Mia, who drives Lissa to a near suicide attempt but through it, Rose reveals Lissa’s element to the adults of St. Vladimir Academy. Christian, who befriends Lissa and is a close friend. Dimitri, who trains Rose so she can become a Guardian.

Dimitri is a hot, Russian guy. I really like him but I have always been attracted to stoic, appearing cold-standing guy. In all seriousness, I think he has a great background. His mother was a blood whore but taught him well. Dimitri did beat up his dad when he was capable of doing so. But in general, I just love his name. I love names start with the letter D.

The one thing that I have an issue is the blood drinking during sex. In my head, to allow a vampire to drink blood during sex is erotic or romantic. It’s a way of showing trust. Mead turns it on its heels. Blood drinking during sex is considered whorish and cannibalism between vampires who drink from other vampires. I do not like it but it’s a new twist so it’s cool.

The twists are amazing as well. I honestly did not expect the ending of this book or who the villain was. Overall, it’s a great start to a series.

Fantastic-Forver in my Shelf

5 fluer de lis
31st book in the 100+ Reading Challenge

Entwined Review


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Entwined by Heather Dixon. It is a revamped version of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. Azalea and her sisters are in mourning for their recently deceased mother and are prohibited from dancing. To get around the rules of mourning, they dance in a secret passage with Keeper. Unfortunately, there is more to Keeper than meets the eye and he has sinister plans for the young princesses.

I love reading new versions of classic fairy tales and this was a great version. A lot less bloody as well. In the Grimm’s tale, the men who come to solve the riddle tend to lose their heads if they failed to find the answer. The riddle being where the secret passage is

It was interesting to see that all the girls were named after flowers-Azalea, Bramble, Clover, Lily and so on. Not all the princesses were well developed but just given a quirk to identify them by. The most developed are Azalea (as the oldest princess), Bramble( as a wild child) and Clover (a sweetheart) and the rest of the princess just had their names which I never really remembered. However, this is more than what the Brothers gave us with their tale. The first three princess were quite different from each other and easy to identify. I love how the princes/men who came to solve the riddle of where the girls danced were well-developed and quite different from each other. Lord Teddy is outright hilarious and Lord Bradford is a quiet and gentle man.

Keeper was an curious character. I fell for him right away. (In my head, he looked like the butler from Black Butler). I have the tendency to like the villains most of the time but only at first. I actually was not expecting him to be the villain, I thought he would be a romantic interest for Azalea. I was disappointed in that aspect but he was a great villain overall. He was dark and gothic in his own way.

The ending was really chaotic but fun to read. There was so much going on. It was also really sweet. Throughout the book, there is this tension between the princesses and the King, their father, that is finally resolve when the princesses understand where the King’s thoughts on mourning come from. It was well thought out.

Overall, a great revamped version of a classic fairy tale. Like the flower names but Azalea did annoy me a little. Slow to start but fun in general. Well-developed characters that are quite different from each other.

Worth Reading

Worth Reading

4.5 Fluer de lis-Worth Reading
30th Book in the 100+ Reading Challenge

Predators of Darkness: Aftermath Review


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+Received from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you

Predators of Darkness: Aftermath by Leonard D. Hilley II is the first book in his Darkness Series. Pittsburgh was the victim of a missile attack three years ago and ever since, the city has been in isolation and the survivors in constant fear of the roaming shifters. The survivors are finally beginning to understand what truly happened three years when they realized the city is fenced in. Unfortunately,someone does not want them to and will do whatever it takes to take them out to keep the secret a secret.


I love this book because I am a huge fan of government/military conspiracies, the dystopian genre, and it reminded me of Resident Evil which I love. I was hooked from the movement I started reading.

The characters are all really interesting even if I wanted to hate them especially Dr. Helmsby who is one of the survivors. He is a great scientist, found the cure for AIDS right before the missile attack and understands the shifters.  I hate him though because he kind of knew was going to happen and constantly keeps vital information to himself. He is a frustrating character to like but his reasoning make sense. There are outsiders trying to kill the remaining survivors; he is going to be careful.

There is Daniel and Lucas, whom the survivors rely upon to scavenge food and supplies from the shifter-infested city. Daniel is more or less the leader of the survivors and Lucas is his danger-seeking subordinate. The women-Lydia, Johanna, and Julia are the center females of the book. More exist but they are just there. I think Hilley captured the inter-relationship between all three of them very well. Lydia is the outsider who is not trusted, Johanna as the alpha female with insecurities, and Julia is the medic who is sneaky. There interactions are fun to read. I did not like the process of choosing an alpha female but it is realistic.

Of course, the counter to the survivors is the TransGenCorp, a bioengineering company with military contracts. Long before the downfall of Pittsburgh, it was a suspicious company. I like the insight into the company because Hilley shows the division that the company feels about their pet project. General Idris, head of the project, is really into eliminating Dr.Helmsby because he could expose the project. Whereas General Norhaney and Sergeant Godfrey are working to undermine the company.

Let’s talk about the shifters. The shifters are creatures that have fast regeneration abilities, like to be sexually deviant with females, and eat humans. Quite dangerous and inhumane to say the least. However, Hilley shows shifters are not all as bad because we have Morton, the shape shifting cat that was thrown off the building by Daniel at the start of the book.  He is so adorable and has great interactions with Daniel and Julia because he can talk. Who does not like a talking cat who has a sense of humor ? There is also Maria and what ends up happening to her. No spoilers here about that but it just shows that bonds are natural to the shifters. There is one more shifter that really surprised me and shows that there is a difference between laboratory-bred shifters and shifters.

Overall, I love this book and its dichotomy. The enemy has subdivisions which are contrasting each other and so do the survivors. Not everything is in black and white.  I’m so looking forward to reading the second book, Beyond The Darkness.

Predators of Darkness is only available as an ebook on Amazon, Smashwords, EBooks For Pleasure

Come read our interview with Leonard D. Hilley II

Fantastic-Forver in my Shelf

29th book in the 100+Reading Challenge

What is New…


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Whooo! I’m out of school for the summer. The reason I had not posted any reviews was the first two weeks of June was finals week so that means writing final papers and studying for my exams. I should have given warning that I was going to be inactive for awhile. Sorry about that.

On the bright side, the giveaway was a huge success and I love the reasons for summers. Thank you air conditioners all over the world. Some of the actors mentioned were interesting to see. Alex Pettyfer was an actor most readers wanted to see play Jace from The Mortal Instruments. I’m definitely looking into some new series mentioned such as The Anne Series by Lucy Maud Montgomery (author of Anne of Green Gables).Thank you to all the participants and subscribers for making my first giveaway a huge success. Soon the winners will be announced so until then keep tight and enjoy the double session of Leonard D. Hilley’s Predators of Darkness: Aftermath.

(As a quick reminder, I like to let you all of you know that I will be hosting my Birthday Giveaway. Rules and Entries to come soon)

Interview with Leonard D. Hilley II of Predators of Darkness: Aftermath


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I’m extremely glad to have Leonard D. Hilley here as a guest. He has written three books in the Darkness Series and the first book will be reviewed here tomorrow.

SK:What inspired you to write a dystopian novel?

Hilley: Predators of Darkness: Aftermath evolved on its own from the opening sentence: “Dropping a cat from the top of a ten story office building was not the best way to remain hidden, but it was necessary.”   Everything else (characters, cat-shifter, world setting, etc.) flowed from that.  It really wasn’t something I had sat down and planned.  More or less, this novel was a gift from my muse.

SK:What would you like readers to come away with after reading your novel?

Hilley: I hope that readers will have made a connection with some of my characters.  I want people to feel hopeful in spite of bad circumstances.   In my life I’ve had to overcome a lot of obstacles that, at the time seen mountains too high to climb.  Perseverance has been the key to my survival.

SK: I found myself relating to Julia so I’m wondering what character do you related to the most and the hardest to capture on the pages?

Hilley:I believe a bit of me is in each character.  However, the hardest character to capture in my series has been Morton, the cat.  Like a stubborn cat, I can only write him when he decides to visit.  When he speaks, I have to write it down.

SK: Morton is a fantastic character, especially because he is a cat. What is your writing process like? Do you outline or just type away?

Hilley: Generally, I revise the pages from the day before and then proceed from there.  I never outline my novels because I don’t want to put any restrictions on my characters.  Their interactions tend to evolve on their own.

SK: What authors have inspired your writing style?

Hilley: I’m a huge fan of Dean Koontz and Stephen King.  Overall, I like Koontz’s style and fast paced scenes.

SK: They are fantastic authors. Now, I understand you are co-writing a screenplay with an English professor. Could you tell us more about how the co-writing process works? And how it differs from writing a novel?

Hilley: Screenwriting is a whole new experience for me.  You would think since the screenplay is from an existing novel, writing it would be easier.  However, you have to condense a 340 page novel into 125 pages.  In our situation, I took the novel’s highpoints and dialogue and wrote out the first rough draft (~168 pages).  Ann Linden, my co-writer, has been essential in cutting scenes/dialogue to whittle this down to the appropriate length for a screenplay.  We have about 9 more pages to cut

SK.What activity is a must for Summer?

Hilley: I hope to do some hiking and caving.  Of course, writing and revising two more novels will demand a lot of time as well.

SK: Thank you so much for proving a great insight into what goes inside the mind of a writer. And good luck with cutting the remaining 9 pages out.

I hope you all have enjoyed this interview session and would like to know more about Predators of Darkness: Aftermath.

Hilley can be found at his blog; his novels are available at Amazon, Ebooks For Pleasure for $2.99, and Smashwords  so feel free to check it out. Once again, the review for the first book will be up here tomorrow so come back again.

Choosing Books 101: The Cover…..Not Really, Just A Misunderstanding


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I recently purchased a large quantity of books from Amazon so I could read them over the summer. Project17, Evernight, Stargazer, Memoirs of  A Geisha, The Devil Wears Prada, A Darkly Scanner, The Kouga Ninja Scrolls,  The Poison Diaries, The Ghost and The Goth, Gothic Charm School and so many more. I tend to get lazy over the summer and just stay home; babysitting and playing with my dogs. Actually, I do that all the time when I can. Point being, I like buying books.


I bought Possessions by Nancy Holder. Read the blurb- it’s essentially Mean Girls with a touch of the supernatural  as one reviewer said. Or better yet, the movie The Woods which is directed by Lucky Mckee (great director).  The point being I choose the book because of the cover. It is dark and creepy; a girl’s face is rising from the water and the reflection is visible through the ripples. It is a good cover, really dark.


However, when I get the book, I have a different cover. It’s a brunette girl with flying hair standing in front of a building. WHAT? That does not look similar to the book I bought. I thought Amazon send me the wrong book. I read the blurb and it is the book I bought. The cover is such a disappointment. There is nothing creepy about it or dark (well, just a little creepy with that building). I have not read the book yet but without the cover that drew me to it, the book lacks an element.

I am still going to read it and hopefully, it’s a good book but I still feel a sense of disappointment in not getting what I paid for. I paid for the book thinking that it would come with the first cover and that is what I expected. Instead I have the second cover which the cover does not take anything away from the story but still gives a different feel for the book.

Small Blog, Huge Giveaways


It is finally here. The first giveaway I am participating. I’m excited for it because there are fantastic books to be won. Hope you guys enjoy as well.

Small Blogs, Big Giveaways!

37 Books + 11 Gift cards = 48 PRIZES


Organized by: Reading Romances(+5)  Also host a giveaway on june 17th!

A Bookish Affair (+1)
A Little Sun Shy:
(+3) Also giving away for the EU readers, a hardback copy of the latest Sookie Stackhouse novel, Dead Reckoning!
A Simple Love of Reading
Addicted to Books
Alexa Loves Books
Books For The Insomniac
Book Savvy Babe
: (+5)
Curiosity Killed The Bookworm
: (+3)Also hosting the pre-loved giveaways !
Gabrielle Bisset: A Writer’s Blog
: (+4)
Kindle Fever
Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews
(+5)  Also be having a BONUS Giveaway.
Let’s Book It
Love, Laugh and Read
My Book & Me
(+5 entries)
My Chaotic Ramblings
: (+3) Also hosting her 200 followers giveaway!
Proud Book Nerd
: (+5)
Read Me Bookmark Me Love Me
Reads With Wreckless Abandon
Reading Lark
Reading Rendevous Reviewz
Release Notes
Romancing the Darkside
(+3) Also hosting: Save My Soul Blog Tour: Excerpt & Giveaway – June 9th
Sweeping Me
So Many Books, Here’s Mine
(+3)  Also hosting: Sizzling Summer Setting Writing Contest.
The Magic Attic
(+5) Also hosting blog tours during june 6-13!


1.Sign up using the inlinkz tool(you only need to do that once for the big giveaway, the SAME inlinkz will appear on all blogs).

1.2 Go on each blog and find how you can earn more entries.

1.3Read the blog rules to know how to sign up for the prizes other blogs might be providing.

2.This is an INTERNATIONAL giveaway

3.You must be at least 18 years or older, or of legal age in your country.

4.The contest will end on JUNE 13th at 11:59 pm GMT and winners will be posted after they have been selected.

5.Winners will be selected using

5.1The winners will be notified by email and announced on all hosting blogs.

5.2 The winners will have THREE days from the date they are posted to provide a mailing address. If you do not contact me within three days a replacement winner will be selected. NO EXCEPTIONS.

6.Each blogger will be responsable for mailing the prize they provided. No replacements will be made. Your email address will not be saved or used for any other purposes then to contact the winner in the contest for their mailing address.

6.1 Books for the Insomniac is not responsible for other prizes that are not honored, distributed in a timely manner, lost, stolen, or damaged during transit.

7. All giveaways are subject to change/cancellation without prior written notice.

The more participants we get, the more prizes we’ll give!

The first winner will choose 16 items (including the maximum number of 2 gift cards)

The 2nd will choose 14 items after the 1st winner has chosen(including the maximum number of 2 gift cards)

The 3rd will get 10 items after the 2nd winner has chosen (including the maximum number of 2 gift cards)

[The remaining books and gift cards will be given to our lucky hosts – who’ll be selected using!]

If we reach 50 sign ups I’ll select one random lucky winner to receive one of the gift cards listed!

If we reach 100 sign ups I’ll select another radom lucky winner to receive one of the gift cards listed!

If we reach more than 200 sign ups, by the end of the event I’ll select THREE random lucky winners to receive one of the gift cards listed each!

Send your extra entriesby filling out this form


Mandatory entry for Books for the Insomniac: Comment on this post with “In the summer, I love (state what you like) ”

Now for the EXTRA entries for Books for the Insomnia only
+2 Be an e-mail subscriber
+1Answer this question:  Which actor/actress should play your favorite character from a book series?

Total entries: 3

Setting Up The June Report


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Yay, it’s the first day of June…and I still have ten more days of school before I am allowed to go home.  So looking forward to Summer in Modesto. June should be a pretty exciting month for reviewing because I have cool reviews set up and my first set of  giveaways. This is the breakdown.

June 6-13: Small Blog, Big Giveaway starts


June 12: Predators of Darkness: Aftermath by Leonard D. Hill Interview

June 13: Predator of Darkness: Aftermath Review

June 19: Review of Life, Death and Back by Cynthia Vespia  ( Blog tour)

June 27: My birthday and Giveaway week (more info to come)


June 28: Review of Werewolf Descent by Elizabeth J. Kolodziej (Blog Tour)

Those are the dates and there is no need to remember it since I’ll be referring to it. Stick around for the first week in July since it’s going to be a blog hop giveaway week.

———————————–May Rewind————————-

Books Review:

All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris
Blood Lines by Tanya Huff
Blood Pact by Tanya Huff
Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner
Dead(ish) by Naomi Kramer
On Dark Paths by Andrew Kincaid
101 Tips For Traveling with A Vampire by Joleene Naylor