Jessica Jesinghaus

Random Thoughts of an Author & Book Junkie

Book Review: Fly By Night (Criminal Elements Book 2) by Cris & Clare Meyers 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 out of 5 stars  

I am positively in love with the Criminal Elements series!

This installment puts us into the headspace of Rook, the sarcastically unflappable crow shifter / computer hacker. Told in first person with stabs of hilarious inner dialogue, Fly by Night is super fast paced. 

Only a couple months have passed since our rag-tag group met with misadventure and betrayal in Seattle. Rook has returned to his home turf to lick his wounds and try to salvage his ‘professional’ reputation. It’s a tall order, made even more difficult when Rook starts hearing voices. Unsure what’s happening, he calls the only person he can still count on for help. 

When Carlos (aka Medium) arrives, he can tell something big is happening to Rook, something outside their ability to understand, let alone control. Medium suggests more experienced assistance but that’s a call Rook refuses to make… until Medium winds up in the crossfire and the young Talent’s life is put in jeopardy. Watching Rook eat crow (so to speak) was highly entertaining. Hat in hand, he has no choice but to get the band back together. But gathering the Seattle team in one place comes with it’s own dangers as enemies from both Rook’s and Stone’s past come out of he woodwork with deadly consequences. 

I was devastated when I got to the end of his book and realized the ride was, for now, over. To be honest, Rook was my least favorite character from the first book. But in book two he REALLY shines. Sure, he’s still sarcastic as hell, but getting a bird’s eye view of his life really helped put things into perspective. And watching him try to repair bridges… okay, more like rebuild them from the smoking rubble of Seattle… with Grace, Renee and Stone was painfully realistic. 

Once again, I appreciated the way characters’ use of their Talents and shifting was moderated. The fantasy element is mitigated with realism in such a way as to create a palpable realism. I can picture these characters living, breathing, and walking down the sidewalk beside me. The world Cris & Clare have created is totally addicting! Strap yourself in and prepare for a wild ride. 

I can’t wait for book three!

If you haven’t read the first book, Playing With Fire, you can read my review HERE. Then get your hands on the series, available on Amazon HERE.

“Mirror, Mirror” Giveaway!

Feeling lucky? Take a shot at winning one of two paperback copies of Mirror, Mirror. This Goodreads Giveaway is valid for US residents (sorry my international peeps, I’ll catch you next time) and open to entries until May 24th. 

You can enter the giveaway HERE. Read the blurb below and then screw up your courage… I dare you to look!

Nearly twenty years ago a teenage girl was murdered… 

Samantha Carlson was just a young girl when her cousin, Emily, was brutally raped and killed in her own home. As a child, Sam’s family did their best to shelter her from the gruesome details. Now, working the crime beat for the Portland Tribune, Sam has the resources at her fingertips to investigate the case for herself.

Through the eyes of a killer… 

After inheriting a family heirloom, an antique vanity table that once belonged to her murdered cousin, Sam begins seeing visions in the mirror’s depths. Like watching an old home movie, she bears witness to Emily’s murder. As if that weren’t frightening enough, she starts to see other things too: fleeting glimpses of the killer himself! Are the things she sees just a figment of her imagination or could something otherworldly be trying to communicate with her? When the killer strikes again and leaves clues behind meant specifically for Sam it becomes a race against time to try to catch him.

Book Review: Chemistry by C.L. Lynch

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 out of 5 stars  

Holy Hera! Where do I start with this one?

Chemistry is one of those books that defies categories and expectations. The cover screams Twilight parody, and it is, but at the same time it is something else entirely. It’s unique. It’s unapologetic. It’s zombies and romance and snark with a healthy dose of swearing. 

I am positively enamored of Stella Blunt. She’s strong and brilliant but her hard outer shell hides a soft heart you’d never expect. And who better to win that soft heart than a shambling social pariah with the ridiculously sweet name of Howard “Howie” Mullins? 

The story jangles with familiar nods to Twilight (near-miss car accident in the school parking lot anyone?) that made the closet Twi-hard in me smile. But it’s so much more than that! The dialogue is witty. Stella’s snarky attitude and foul mouth are brutally beautiful and work in perfect contrast to Howie’s calm, somnambulant demeanor. He may be a zombie, but he’s a civilized one! And he loves Stella for the right reason: her brain. No reason to worry, though. He’s a civilized Z, remember?

If you’re looking for a humorous sweet-n-sour zombie rom-com, this series is for you. I cannot wait for the next installment and would figuratively offer my heart to author C.L. Lynch if I thought it’d help speed up the process (you’ll get the joke once you’ve read the book) 🤓

Be sure to pick this one up! It’s free in Kindke Unlimited HERE. Also, consider visiting CL’s website for awesome bonus content featuring Stella and Howie. 

Book Review: Crow Girl by J.B. Trepagnier

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 out of 5 stars  

What starts out as an apparently straightforward story about a grumpy widower who takes in a wounded and feral child… Wait? Did I say straightforward?!? Nope. Nothing straightforward about this story!

Liam is, as mentioned, both recently widowed AND sacked from his job of over thirty years as a newspaper reporter. With nothing else to occupy his time Liam decides to take up an old hobby: writing. Perhaps he’ll write a book? Settling into the peace and quiet of his solitary cottage, brewing his own beer and gardening in his small patch, the last thing he expected was to shoot a trespassing intruder. But when that intruder turns out to be a frightened young girl, Liam’s life takes a crazy turn. 

Early on, it appears that the tale will follow a supernatural track with talk of sidhe and banshee. I mean, come on, the girl can communicate with crows! But when Liam brings her home from the hospital to recuperate things veer toward the sweet and endearing. Watching Liam, who never had children of his own, struggle with how to teach a fully grown, non-communicative young woman the concept of using an indoor toilet was adorable! 

If you’re looking for an action-packed story, this isn’t that kind of book. This is a tale to be read at a leisurely pace. It’s a story about what makes a family: the obstacles, the arguments, the struggles, and the rewards. The author did a great job investing me, as a reader, in the characters. Liam’s growth is almost as remarkable as his crow girl’s. A heartwarming read!

As with so many of the books I feature, this one’s also enrolled in Kindle Unlimited. You can pick it up HERE

Book Review: Boss Unyielding by Nicole R. Locker

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 out of 5 stars

Who doesn’t love a little forbidden office romance? Especially when the hunka-hunka boss man-candy is as appealing as Rogan Rayner? Computer programming never looked sexier, I can tell you that! Muscles, tattoos, glasses, and intellect? Where can I get me one? (Just kidding, I found mine a long time ago *wink*)

For a relatively short read (150 pages) there sure is a lot packed inside! These characters have so much depth! It would’ve been easy to write a story about Farren and Rogan, with plenty of steam, and just left it at that. But Ms. locker treats us to so much more. This story has substance! Yes it’s steamy. Yes it’s sassy. Yes there’s angst and a HEA. But in between there’s just so much driving these characters! The backstory we are provided as the tale unfolds is truly satisfying. 

Grab this one right now, curl up and enjoy the ride. Get it HERE.

Book Review: Bound by R.M. Gauthier

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫4.5 out of 5 stars  

The mystery of Landon Miller keeps getting bigger and deeper! Just when I think I’ve come up with the perfect explanation, Ms. Gauthier slings something new my direction and the conspiracy theory wing-nut who lives inside me just gets all a-twitter with grander and crazier possibilities. I dig it!

Whereas the first book showed us a Lexi who was worn down and frustrated, in this book we get a Lexi who is pushed against a wall, ready to break, but still willing to fight tooth and nail for the man she lusts. That’s right – I said lust – because I’m still unsure if what they have is love… I’m rooting for love, but at this stage in the game, I think anything goes. 

Tensions are high in Bound, literally picking up moments after the conclusion of book one. For those of you who, like me, were screaming WTF at their Kindle / tablet / computer screen or throwing the paperback of Control across their bed, don’t expect any instant resolutions. Landon’s choices still don’t get any real explanation in Bound, but the possibilities are oh-so-tantalizing. Ms. Gauthier has me completely sucked in! I’ve lost track of how many theories I’ve created, and I think I’ll continue to create outlandish theories until she resolves things for me. 

With less Landon page time, there was more of an opportunity to really delve into Lexi’s past and some of the secondary characters. Hailey as the rock-solid but hot-tempered BFF is wonderful. Agent Johnson (remember him? the FBI guy asking veiled questions in book one?) is back and develops into a really likable, relatable character. Honestly, he almost stole Leroy’s spot as best supporting character. Almost. I think they’re tied at this point. 

Now, back to that cliffhanger ending from book one: rest assured, the end of Bound isn’t quite so shocking. It feels more like a cliff-dangle. Maybe because we were so steamrolled by book one’s swan dive off the peak of Mt Everest? I feel quite a bit more at ease this time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m chomping at the bit for resolution, but I don’t have that feeling that someone (*shakes fist at Ms. Gauthier*) just played soccer with my heart. 

The pacing of Bound was excellent, flipping between current events, flashbacks to “that night,” and some even bigger flashbacks to events 15 years earlier. The flashbacks were a well-used device, and readers will have an easy time delineating where in time they are as they read. 

Fans of mystery, crime, romance or suspense will find happiness in this series. Highly recommended!

**I received an electronic ARC of this book from the author which I then chose to voluntarily review**

You can read Bound (and its predecessor Control) for free on Kindle Unlimited. Grab your copy HERE.

Book Review: Skeletons in the Closet (Phantom Rising Book 2) by Davyn DeSye

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 out of 5 stars  

Twenty years have passed since events in For Love of the Phantom. Erik and Christine’s son, Petter, has moved to London to seek his future. Suffering from depression centered around her now-empty nest, Christine’s melancholy strains their marital relationship. Erik’s attempts to cheer and distract her were endearing, relatable, and well written. 

As if struggling with this hurdle weren’t enough, shadows from Erik’s past have found him and threaten not only the life he has built, but the health and welfare of the one person he treasures above all others: Christine. When the biggest skeleton from Erik’s closet tries to force Erik’s hand, you just know you’re in for a wild ride. Hints of Erik’s devious past come to light and you are reminded of just why he was so feared within the walls of the opera house. With the help of his son and his old comrade, the Persian Faraz, he must mount a daring rescue attempt in a land where a price still hangs upon his head. 

For me, this was the best part of the book. Getting to see and learn so much more about Erik’s past in Mazenderan was such a treat. The pure evil of the Sultana and the lengths she will go to force Erik to do her bidding were quite telling. Erik’s cunning and determination were near palpable. Peter’s character was well portrayed too; a beautiful balance of his father’s courage & intellect balanced by his mother’s calm and grace. And speaking of Christine: while still very much a woman of the era, she’s no helpless female. I really loved Ms. DeSye’s portrayal of such a difficult time for our heroine. In a dark and desperate situation Christine really shines. 

Fans of the Opera Ghost and his beloved Christine will rejoice at this new chapter in their tale. 

Pick up your copy HERE (it’s a free read for Kindle Unlimited subscribers).

Book Review: Penny White and the Marriage of Gryphons (Penny White Book 3) by Chrys Cymri

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 out of 5 stars  

Have I told you yet how much I LOVE this series? If your answer is no, then you clearly haven’t read my reviews of books 1 & 2! And if you have read those reviews but haven’t yet ventured into Penny White’s world – why in the name of heaven not?

This installment finds Penny tackling quite a few hurdles while simultaneously having one of her greatest wishes granted. 

Ever since learning about Lloegyr Penny has wanted nothing more than a full time post as Vicar General of Incursions and to spend more time with the amazing creatures who reside there. When she gets a chance to serve as interim priest for a small village in Lloegyr she jumps at it eagerly. But in no time, Penny realizes the grass isn’t always greener… Things aren’t all wine & roses in Lloegyr; it’s more like barbed wire and gasoline. 

Meanwhile Morey’s family has set a series of trials which he and his closest friends (Penny, James, Peter & Clyde) must complete. But these aren’t just simple tasks; they’re epic and thrilling and dangerous. Each of them will be tested and if they fail, Morey’s future is at stake. 

Things get dark this time around. Themes of prejudice and intolerance abound. People (and I use the term loosely) grow and mature and change in significant ways. Particularly touching were several brother/sister moments between Penny & James. And, as usual, Clyde is amazing and sweet and endearing and… need I go on?

As with all of Penny’s adventures, humor and love abound. Despite the heavier themes this is such an enjoyable read! You’ll be laughing aloud, reading non-stop, and raising a glass to Penny’s exploits. I truly cannot wait to see what Chrys Cymri has in store for us in book four. 

All three books in the Penny White series are currently available via Kindle Unlimited, so start reading today!

**I recieved an electronic ARC of this book from the author which I then chose to voluntarily review**

Book Review: Hart of Hers (Cale & Mickey Book 3) by Annie Arcane

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 out of 5 stars

This is yet another un-put-downable installment of the Cale & Mickey series.

I cannot get enough of these two! Their banter & ripostes are so fast as to leave you breathless, their love & passion undeniable. If you’re looking for a fast paced read with witty dialogue this series is certainly it! If you’re looking for me, I’ll just be in the corner sulking until the final installment is released. 

If you haven’t read Hart Broken or Hart of His, by all means do so! Then grab Hart of Hers HERE. All three can be read free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers. 

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