Book Review: Mini-reviews for Mini-reads

What do you do when you have a handful of short novellas loaded on your Kindle? Why, you make blog review lemonade, of course! Mind you, I’m not saying any of these reads were lemons. Far from it! I was treated to a selection of delicious morsels that reminded me how satisfying a shorter read can be. If you’re in the mood for a small, tasty treat, read on…

Bolded Hearts by Jane Jago ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 out of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this short story! It reminded me of an Inuit fable or legend. Well done! This little gem is free on KU HERE or you can pick it up for only 99¢.

Girls for Spiders by Wendy Wiseman Fisher ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 out of 5 stars

This one’s not for the arachnophobes out there, that’s for sure. Two sisters set out on a road trip to clear out their father’s cabin after his death. But one of the girls harbors terrible secrets, plus a vindictive ex-boyfriend who takes creepy (crawly) stalker behavior to the next level! This is another KU offering (get it HERE) or can be purchased for 99¢.

Fairies Versus Zombies by Wendy Wiseman Fisher ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 out of 5 stars

Fairy / Zombie mashup? Why not! Initially I expected camp, cheese, goofiness. But while the ‘traditional’ zombie camp is present, it still turned into a refreshing take on the theme. The juxtaposition of sweet, benign fairies fighting their own kind, somehow infected with the ‘deading virus,’ really worked well. The ending did leave me dangling off a minor cliff, and I do hope the author treats us to further fairy-zombie exploits, but all in all this was a highly entertaining read. Surprise, surprise… it’s another KU offering (pick it up HERE).

All the Nothing We’ve Done by Christina McMullen ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐5 out of 5 stars

This was a fast, lighthearted read. Really enjoyable. After sleeping on it, I still can’t get the idea outta my head that everything we do has consequences beyond what we see and/or know. Great stories stay with you, and this one certainly fits the bill! Yet again, you can pick this one up HERE via KU or for 99¢.

Beautiful Confusion (a Pride and Honor Novella) by Ember-Raine Winters ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 out of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I have not read Beautiful Delusions, the first book in the Pride & Honor series. I had no prior knowledge of Tim “Mac,” Marcy, Twitch or Griffin. Despite that, I thoroughly enjoyed this novella. It read more as a series of vignettes spread out over more than a decade. The angst conveyed in such short order really left me feeling for these characters. Needless to say, Beautiful Delusions just landed on my TBR list. This particular short is currently available on Smashwords and is a FREE download, so be sure to check it out. (Note: I know the author is attempting to get Amazon to list this title as free but for the time beig it’s priced there at 99¢.)

Now, while we’re talking short reads, I’d be silly if I failed to offer my own, right? Earlier this month, with little-to-no fanfare, I released a short called Fractured

This story was born a few years ago from of a challenge posed by a life-long friend which he couched as a birthday present. He asked me to write a 500-word into to a story, but in typical JJ fashion I couldn’t leave things at just 500 words! What I ended up with was a (roughly) 2,700 word psychological suspense that I’m rather proud of. Fractured is available on Amazon, where I’m currently attempting to make it perma-free. Rather than ask you to pay (ee-gads!) or to wait on Amazon, please consider slipping over to SMASHWORDS where you may download it for free. 😉 And if anyone would like to notify Amazon of the lower price, I’d be ever in your debt! 


Book Review: The Temptation of Dragons (Penny White Book 1) by Chrys Cymri 

⭐⭐⭐⭐💫 4.5 out of 5 stars

Please allow me to start this review with two words: Penny White! I need a Penny White in my life. This heroine rocks. She’s in her mid-thirties, a widow, a Vicar in a struggling English parish, and a lover of all things sci-fi. She’s not afraid to swear (after removing her vestments, of course) and her affinity for wine and a good scotch bring her squarely into that indefinable realm of a wholely relatable fictional character. She’s not perfect, in fact she’s perfectly flawed, and if Penny were real I’d be first in line to fill out an application to be her BFF. 

The plot of Temptation of Dragons strains credulity, but in a rollicking good way. Dragons are real. Gryphons, vampires, harpies, unicorns & snail sharks (What in heaven’s name are snail sharks? Why, they’re voraciously carnivorous snails who move at lightning speed and who have a smile that could make Jaws jealous.) all live alongside one another in a parallel realm Lloegyr and, sometimes, in our own world. The Church is aware of their existence and Penny finds herself tapped to fill the role as Vicar General of Incursions. In other words, she’ll be the one responsible if a fantastic beast should start causing trouble on her parish turf. 

She’s in over her head, coming to (exuberant) terms with the strange new world, learning to navigate the oft tricky politics of the denizens of Lloegyr and it’s religious establishment. Thankfully she has the assistance of Moriarty, Morey for short, to guide her through. Morey is a young (for his species) gryphon: opinionated, quick to irritation, but indispensable to Penny. Their friendship isn’t instantaneous, it takes hard work, but in the end you know they’re ready for whatever adventure hurtles their way next. 

I loved the way Chrys Cymri was able to blend fantasy & religion into such a spellbinding tale. This book is full of hope & humor, mystery & strife. The laugh-out-loud moments were too numerous to count and any book that can manage to throw in a relevant Torchwood reference gets high praise from me!

If you’re tempted by the first book in the Penny White series, it’s free to read on Kindle Unlimited HERE. Be sure to check it out! 

Book Review: Tragedy and Desire (The Desire Series Book 1) by Nicole R. Locker

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 out of 5 stars

Looking for a light, steamy romance with a hint of mystery & suspense? Then this book should be right up your alley! My last few reads were darker and heavier in nature, so this contemporary romance was a welcome shift. 

Can I just giggle a moment about the female main character’s name? Perla Fae. It’s an odd name, to be sure, but somehow it was just perfect! Dainty & quirky are the words that come first to my mind, and they fit Perla quite nicely. Then there’s our hunka-hunka, Jax Maddox. If that’s not a power name, I don’t know what is. Props to the author for her character name selections. 

The story was a tad predictable, but still fun and engaging with a touch of suspense to keep you guessing. The HEA ending was very satisfying. This would make a great vacation read. 

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I read a lot of Kindle Unlimited titles, and this one’s no exception. Check it out HERE (you’re welcome). 

Book Review: The House the Devil Built by Benjamin Hively

⭐⭐⭐💫3.5 out of 5 stars

Prologues: some like them, some despise them. As for me, I’m in the “pro-“logue camp, provided they’re well executed. As in this instance!

In The House The Devil Built we’re treated to a gem of a prologue. Set in the 1960’s this particular prologue gives a hint as to the tone of the rest of the story. Something demonic lurks in the shadows of the Boudreaux Plantation, and has attached itself to a member of the Boudreaux family with deadly consequences. Fast forward fifty years, to the young couple who have just purchased and moved into the stately Louisiana home, and as a reader you just know they’re in for trouble. I commend the author for the menacingly slow build of tensions. Odd things start happening the moment the couple moves in (and they’re not all of the supernatural variety), but at first they’re almost benign, able to be brushed off as accidents, over-active imaginations, or the actions of pranksters. 

Now, confession time: this was my first foray into a story featuring a same sex couple. Reading the book’s blurb “Ashton & Dillon” were a generic couple’s name. It wasn’t until the start of chapter two that I came to the realization Ashton & Dillon were both men. “Okay,” I thought, “let’s see where this goes.” The characters’ sexuality was a major point of tension for many characters in the story, but as a reader Ashton & Dillon felt like a genuine couple struggling with the difficulties stemming from addiction and the loss of trust that follows such destructive behavior. Their gender didn’t matter. 

Following Ashton’s discharge from a rehab center, Dillon takes it upon himself to relocate his husband away from the temptations of the Big Easy, so he purchases the Boudreaux Plantation in the small town of Acadian Springs. Ashton is in a fragile state, a prime target for a demon seeking an outlet, right? Maybe, maybe not. 

The arrival of a homosexual couple in the close-knit, Bible Belt town stirs up all kinds of turmoil. The town pastor, previously a devout and caring man, undergoes a drastic, hate-fueled transformation. The town sheriff, a happily married father of two, finds himself indulging in fantasies which leave him wracked with guilt and questioning his future. Family dynamics, religious bigotry, fidelity…. There are some deep themes in this story. Who is truly possessed? What is the nature of true evil?

Sounds like a rockin’ story right? So why only a 3.5 rating? In a nutshell: editing. If the author were to take a few more passes through this book fixing grammatical errors and other typos, this would easily be a 4-4.5 star read for me. I encourage you to give this book a go. The story is well worth it and the editing issues easily rectified. 

Want to visit The House The Devil Built? Kindle Unlimited subscribers can stay for free, so book your visit HERE. See you on the other side!

Book Review: Gateway Drug by Rohvannyn Shaw

⚜️⚜️⚜️⚜️⚜️  5 out of 5 stars

I want more! Gateway Drug is a fast, satisfying novella in which we meet Rowan, a young practitioner of paganism and witchcraft. Something foul is afoot in her neighborhood. Uniquely attuned to the energies around her, Rowan senses a connection between drug use and demon possession. When her best friend seems affected by possession, Rowan takes it upon herself to research and perform a ritual to exorcise the demon. 

Rowan is a fun character! She’s quirky, sassy, resourceful, and loyal. I positively loved her one-sided conversations. I mean, the girl talks to herself almost as much as I do! I really hope there’s a full-length book in the works for Rowan. 

If you’re on Kindle a Unlimited you can pick up this little gem for free HERE, otherwise it’s well-worth the 99¢ price tag!

Shiva XIV (The Shiva XIV Series Book 1) by Lyra Shanti

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 out of 5 stars

Amazing world-building? Check! Intricate religions and mythologies? Check! Political intrigue, assassinations, and threat of war? Check check check!

Shiva XIV sets the stage for a very promising fantasy saga. Author Lyra Shanti weaves a complex story, interspersed with close to a dozen major characters, each with their own worries, fears and motivations. This is no small feat! I didn’t feel like any of the characters were left ‘unfinished,’ either. 

There is just so much to this story! The history and mythology was introduced in a way so as to not overwhelm the reader. The various cultures and planets were intriguing. And, as I said before, the large number of important characters felt real. I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite character! But if you’re going to force me, I might pick Reese. She’s tough, pragmatic, determined, and indispensable to her King.

I appreciated that the ending of book one was not a crazy, nail-biting cliffhanger. There is definitely unfinished business, important wheels left spinning, but the sense of hope I felt reading the final sentences was refreshing. 

This is high fantasy mixed with sci-fi and a dash of YA just for good measure and I absolutely loved it!

Interested in starting the series? At this time, the first three books of the series are available in Kindle Unlimited. Pick up the first book HERE

Mercy (Mercy.Bound.Released Book 1) by Natalie Bennett

🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤 5 out of five twisted black hearts!

Holy mother… what did I just read and why did I enjoy it so much?!?

First: a disclaimer. Mercy is dark. And I don’t mean dark, I mean DARK! As in chained in a cellar with no windows while blindfolded and groped without consent. That kinda dark. And it’s delicious!

At the time of this posting Mercy, which had been slated for release via Amazon & had been available for pre-order for quite some time, has been unceremoniously yanked by Amazon. “Too depraved for Amazon” has become Ms Bennett’s rally cry against censorship and I support her wholeheartedly.

This was one amazing read! I don’t want to give away story, but suffice it to say Julian is a sadistic, evil man who enjoys the pain of others. Morgana has something broken inside, missing chunks of memory, and enough prescriptions dulling her psyche to knock out a horse. She is a cutter, and somehow when she enters Julian’s orbit she finds a man who enjoys delivering the pain she craves. This is not about love, or even lust, rather it’s about two needy shattered people with dark hungers.

And plot twists! For a novella, this thing packs whollop after whollop. I’ve got whiplash! I absolutely cannot wait for the next installments, Bound and Released. I cannot explain how captivating this story is, yet it is NOT for the faint of heart. We’re talking torture, murder and rape with the reader as a paying member of the audience. Yet I couldn’t look away! Bravo Ms Bennett for taking on such controversial topics and unapologetically taking us along for the ride. 

Currently, this title is available only via Smashwords. Please, if you’re a fan of dark stories give this one a peek. You’ll likely be as transfixed as I was. 

I’ve got free ebooks for you!

This weekend, I’m featuring two of my books for free download on! Don’t miss this chance to score some free reading materials. I mean it’s not like your TBR list is too long already! Free download ends Sunday 2/12/17. 

From the Shadow

What makes a man a monster?

For too long Jacob has lived in isolation. Forsaken by God and cursed by a Shadow, he is doomed to an eternity of solitude with only the demons of his past for company. For nearly two hundred years, he has longed for that which he knows he can never have: forgiveness, love, and redemption. 

A chance encounter could hold the key…

When Jacob meets Lynn, she shines a ray of hope across his bleak existence. But will she be strong enough to shoulder the truth of his past? Can she forgive the horrors he has wrought? Can she help him come to terms with his past and move with him into a brighter future?

An old nemesis threatens…

Confronted by an ancient enemy, Lynn and Jacob travel halfway around the world. There, they face the daunting task of sifting through ancient history for clues to their tormentor’s weaknesses and a way to loose his grip on their future.

What good can come From the Shadow?

Desolation Gulch 

Valerie knew fairytales weren’t true… at least not the happily-ever-after kind. In her world, nothing ever worked out so neatly. Her life was full of dark secrets and deep hurt. Until she met Fallon. Somehow he could read her hidden chapters and he knew exactly how to turn her life into a dream.

But Fallon isn’t everything he seems; he has dark secrets of his own.

When Valerie finds herself in a dangerous situation and must flee, it’s a daunting task. With nowhere to run and no way to guarantee Fallon won’t follow, Valerie ends up stranded in a small Central Oregon town at the mercy of a handsome stranger. He promises to help her, but can anyone save her from desolation? Feb 11th & 12th Romance Book Event

It’s a great weekend to love ❤️ reading! is hosting an awesome event Feb 11th & 12th offering free & discounted ebooks for your enjoyment. Multiple romance genres are represented, so you’re sure to find something to your liking. 

Visit now to fill your Kindle with sizzling hot reads! It’s gonna be a long, hot weekend. Don’t miss out on the fun. 

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