Book Review: Dorothy in the Land of Monsters by Garten Gevedon @GartenGevedon @XpressoTours

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Title: Dorothy in the Land of Monsters
Series: Oz ReVamped #1
Author: Garten Gevedon
Publication Date: October 11, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Supernatural, Young Adult

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Dorothy in the Land of Monsters
Oz ReVamped #1
Garten Gevedon
Garten Gevedon, October 2019
Ebook

From the author—

Shifters, Zombies, and Vampires? Oh my!

My name is Dorothy Gale, and I think I might be dead.

When my dog Toto and I got swept up in a twister, we landed in hell. A very colorful hell. Like a rainbow dripping in blood. Now it looks as though this dreadful underworld plagued with vampires, zombies, and shifters will be the site of my eternal damnation.

They say this terrifying land called Oz isn’t hell or purgatory and escape is possible, but first I must survive the journey down the blood-soaked yellow brick road to the only place in Oz where vampires dare not tread—The City of Emeralds. 

With enchanted footwear and the help of my three new friends—a friendly zombie, a massive shifter lion, and a heartless axe murderer of evil night creatures (who also happens to be the hottest guy I’ve ever seen)—Toto and I have a chance to make it to the Vampire Free Zone. When we get there, I must convince the most powerful wizard in this magical land of monsters to send us out of this radiant nightmare and back to the world of the living. They say he’s just as frightening as this monstrous land, that he detests visitors, and even the most horrifying creatures cower in his presence. But I must seek him out. And when I find him, I’ll do whatever it takes to make him send me home.

“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

Indeed, Dorothy and Toto are not in Kansas anymore but they’re also not in the Oz we all remember and love. Here, there are all kinds of scary creatures and Dorothy is seen by the Munchkins as a sorceress who has delivered the land from the Vampire Witch of the East. Now, she and Toto must find their way to the City of Emeralds in hopes that the Great Wizard will help them get back to Kansas. To get to the City, they have to follow the yellow brick road that is soaked in the blood of the victims of vampires and they’ll encounter quite the variety of sinister beings.

This is a story that offers a wonderful premise for any of us readers who love zombies and vampires and such things and I did enjoy it despite what I’ll call the Too Much Syndrome. Too much complaining about Kansas, too frequent use of the word “gray” to describe Kansas and Dorothy’s life, too much flowery descriptive language for Oz, too much romance that isn’t actually very appealing, too many words and pages. Essentially, I think a lot of these issues would have been remedied if the book had just been 100 or so pages shorter; its length made me weary at times (but not enough to stop reading because I did want to know how the tale would progress).

On a positive note, the snarkiness and sly humor here works really well and the author is creative without a doubt. That’s a pretty cool cover, too 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2019.

About the Author

Garten Gevedon lives in New York City with her family. She’s a sci-fi, fantasy, and paranormal author who loves taking fairy tales and turning them inside out. You can visit her online at www.gartengevedon.com.

Author links: 

Website — http://www.gartengevedon.com/
Twitter — https://twitter.com/gartengevedon
Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/gartengevedon/
Bookbub — https://www.bookbub.com/authors/garten-gevedon
Goodreads — https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19120383.Garten_Gevedon

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Book Review: An Unconventional Mr. Peadlebody by D.L. Gardner

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Book Review: The Vampire, the Hunter, and the Girl by Martin Lastrapes

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Title: The Vampire, the Hunter, and the Girl
Series: The Vampire and the Hunter Trilogy, Book One
Author: Martin Lastrapes
Publisher: Cannibal Press
Publication Date: March 18, 2015
Genres: Horror, Paranormal

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The Vampire, the Hunter, and the GirlThe Vampire, the Hunter, and the Girl
The Vampire and the Hunter Trilogy, Book One
Martin Lastrapes
Cannibal Press, March 2015
ISBN 978-0-9857043-2-2
Trade Paperback

From the author—

Adam and Jesus (the vampire and the hunter) have an innate antagonism, which is only heightened once they discover they’re competing for the affections of the same girl. Olivia (the girl) is an aspiring author struggling to write a vampire novel. What none of them yet know is there’s a menacing force looming that will change the course of their lives forever.

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If ever a book had me coming and going, this one is it. It’s most certainly not your usual kind of vampire book if there even is such a thing as a usual vampire book. Here we have the dark side, a good bit of romance, more than a dash of humor but, thank heavens, no sparkly. From one moment to the next, I wasn’t sure which of these temperaments I was going to get. Then there’s a multitude of characters which was okay but, as much as I like character development, it was really overdone here. I knew more about the most obscure player than I would ever hope to and I suspect all the backstory could have been pared down by at least 15% of the book. And I could have done without the discussion of bodily functions and the overabundance of sexual activity and descriptions.

The pacing of what could be an exciting plot was almost glacial for much of the book with various chapters harking back to earlier situations but largely because so much of it is Adam telling Olivia how the vampire world works so she can write a book about vampires. Telling is just not as much fun as showing, you know? I also didn’t care much for the frequent re-telling of scenes from various characters’ points of view. I like multiple POV but not when it’s used to repeat scenes over and over.

BUT…I truly enjoyed this book in spite of all that. I mean, how can you not love a vampire who goes bowling? Throw in a bunch of wrestling, some stripping, illegal immigration, a barbershop for vampires, an exceedingly odd love triangle and a mean, nasty vampire named Victus (my favorite kind) and you’ve got a mishmash of fun and ick and horror and all the things that come with a good vampire novel. Dracula makes an appearance and it turns out he’s into superheroes 😉

And then there’s Frank who makes Victus look like a Sunday school teacher. When Adam, Olivia and Jesus find out what has to be done about this very peculiar vampire, life is not so rosy anymore. I’m really looking forward to finding out what happens next in The Vampire, the Hunter, and the Witch.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2015.

About the Author

Martin Lastrapes 2MARTIN LASTRAPES won the GRAND PRIZE at the 2012 PARIS BOOK FESTIVAL for his debut novel INSIDE THE OUTSIDE.

He grew up in the Inland Empire, has a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a Master’s Degree in Composition from Cal State San Bernardino, watches his favorite movies over and over again, learned many a lesson from professional wrestling, wonders if he’ll ever be famous enough to be on “Dancing With the Stars,” thinks good stand-up comedy is rare and under appreciated, is scared of Vladimir Putin, wonders if it’s too late to learn how to play the guitar, gets depressed when he hears the theme song from “M*A*S*H,” wonders why Teen Wolf never made it to the NBA, and wants Morgan Freeman to narrate his life.

He is also the host of THE MARTIN LASTRAPES SHOW PODCAST HOUR. Subscribe on iTunes or listen on the official website MartinLastrapesShow.com. New episodes every week.

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Book Review: Hunting Season by Nikki Jefford

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Title: Hunting Season
Series: Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter #4
Author: Nikki Jefford
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Genres: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

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Hunting SeasonHunting Season
Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter #4
Nikki Jefford
Nikki Jefford, March 2015
ISBN 978-1508687818
Trade Paperback

From the author—

Better to be a hunter, not prey.

Ever since her partner was kidnapped, Aurora Sky has been on a personal mission to get him back. To do that she needs the vampire responsible for destroying her life.

In order to have a snowball’s chance at success, she’ll have to team up with her most loyal friends—including a certain vampire in black with a provoking talent for distraction.

Old cravings aren’t easily quenched, nor past passions. With knowledge comes danger and Aurora is at risk on all sides.

A new Aurora Sky book is always cause for celebration to my way of thinking and Hunting Season surely is everything I hoped for. Getting to spend more time with Aurora and the gang is like spending time with old friends you haven’t seen in a while.

The scrumptious Dante has fallen into some dastardly clutches and it’s up to Aurora and her pals, vampire or otherwise, to figure out how to rescue him. That’s not the only thing going on, though; now that Aurora knows she’s more than just your typical vampire hunter, i.e., she’s a vampire herself, she’s begun to question the motives of the federal agents who recruited her.

Nikki Jefford has a sure hand with the creation and development of plot but it’s her characters who really shine, who come to life on the page. Aurora has grown from a fairly clueless high schooler to a kickbutt vampire hunter who can kill the quarry with little remorse but who values her family and friends with a passion that doesn’t quit. Her close friend, Noel, is every bit as vibrant as Aurora and the two main dudes in their circle, Dante and Fane, appeal to me as much as any fictional fellows I can think of. Even the bad guys, be they vampire or human, stand out and claim their territory.

Aurora struggles with how her life as an undead is going to play out but the betrayal she feels with each new thing she learns about the agency is paramount. She will take them down one way or another but, for right now, she’s on the run with a heartbroken Dante and everyone they care about is in danger.

Waiting for the next book is going to be endless, I think 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, May 2015.

About the Author

Nikki Jefford 2Bookaholic, nature girl, and animal lover.

Nikki Jefford is a third generation Alaskan who found paradise in the not-so-tropical San Juan Islands (WA) where she is, once more, neighbors with Canada in a town without a single traffic light.

She married the love of her life, Sebastien, while working as a teaching assistant in France. They reside with their Westie, Cosmo, in Friday Harbor.

Loves fictional bad boys and heroines who kick butt.

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Book Review: Unrequited by Emily Shaffer

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Title: Unrequited
Author: Emily Shaffer
Publisher: Swoon Romance
Publication Date: 09/23/14
Genres: Dark Fantasy, Romance, Vampires

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UnrequitedUnrequited
Emily Shaffer
Swoon Romance, September 2014
Ebook

From the publisher—

In the town of Belle Ridge there are doctors, lawyers and teachers… but there is only one vampire. Will Leighton has become an expert in making a life for himself amongst the unsuspecting small-town inhabitants, as the high school history teacher. He has spent hundreds of years crafting an identity and routine that make him feel almost human, but he is always missing that important final element, love.

Ashton Wallace is beautiful, smart, and angry. She was forced into an eternal existence, and now her family has moved her away from everything and everyone she knows. In Belle Ridge she is supposed to finish high school and start her life again, but how do you make plans for the next several centuries?

Will has never met another of his kind, and is immediately intrigued by Ashton. He longs to show her that the perceived vampire lifestyle, so popular in storybooks, is far from reality…but will she let him be a friend and guide in this new existence? Can Ashton accept Will into her life, or will she be led astray by a dark stranger with whom she shares an unknown connection?

I have a love-hate relationship with vampires. Most of the time, I prefer them to be either funny or mean and nasty, worthy representatives of the Dracula tradition and Vlad the Impaler. Romantic stuff generally leaves me cold and I might as well ‘fess up. I read the first book in the Twilight series because, as a bookstore owner, I sort of had to but—gasp!—I detested it. Yes, the truth is out, I’m not a fan of sparkly. So, why on earth did I have any interest in Unrequited?

Two things in the description drew me in. First, the idea of a high school teacher and a student niggled at me. Was the author really going to go there? Really? Second, there was the twist that there are so few vampires in Ms. Shaffer’s world that Will could have gone 200 years without ever meeting any others.

Ashton is an interesting character but I must say her parents are remarkably accepting of her, um, condition, and I can only suppose it’s because they have little choice. She herself is handling the whole thing better than you might anticipate from a high school senior and I was happy to avoid the histrionics we so often see.

Will and Griffin, on the other hand, are so, well, nice (it takes Griffin a while to get there) that they irritated me even while I thought they were pretty good guys. As for the love triangle—I wish every author would forget they ever heard of such a thing.

Because some of the elements of vampirism we’ve come to expect are missing, I kind of wondered why the author chose to make her male characters vampires in the first place. Why not another kind of supe that naturally fits into the human world more easily?

The ending was put together to lead the reader to the second book and I have no problem with that. I did feel shortchanged with the altercation that takes place at the end, a prime example of telling rather than showing but, fortunately, that sort of writing style is rare in Unrequited.

I have to mention that I appreciated the care that Ms. Shaffer and her publisher took in the construction of this ebook. Very few typos or other construction errors came to my attention and that’s a pleasure in today’s quicksand of ebook production. I do wonder, though, why Unrequited is not available on Nook and I hope that will be remedied soon.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2014.

About the Author

Emily ShafferWhether writing stories to entertain her younger siblings, or typing up an essay for a class, Emily Shaffer has been a writer for as long as she can remember.  Her stories may have changed from talking cartoon frogs to angsty young adults, but her goal to write a compelling story remains the same.  When not writing, she lives in Nashville and enjoys all the music, food, and excitement that city has to offer.  Her first novel, the well-received chick-lit title That Time of the Month was self-published on Amazon in 2012.  Her latest novel, as the others before, are fueled by diet soda and pie.

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Book Review: Bad Blood by Nikki Jefford

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Title: Bad Blood
Series: Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter #3
Author: Nikki Jefford
Publication date: June 4th 2014
Genres: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

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***Don’t miss STAKEOUT, Vol. 2.5, a 54,000 word novella featuring Noel Harper
and the entire Aurora Sky gang. Now available on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, & iTunes.***

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Bad BloodBad Blood
Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter #3
Nikki JeffordNikki Jefford, June 2014
ISBN 978-1499690941
Trade Paperback

From the author—

Aurora returns from boot camp to a new assignment, an unwelcome roommate, and the increasingly amorous attentions of a certain vampire hunter.

College is starting, and so is Aurora’s undercover work at a network of swanky parties known as “Tastings” for high rolling vampires who like their blood laced with fine wine. But Aurora’s not the only one on the prowl. An underground investigation is under way to find out who killed one of Anchorage’s most prominent vampires… and Aurora is a prime suspect.

These days, there are only a handful of series that I manage to keep up with; I have so many TBRs that I just can’t stay on top of new entries coming out, much less read them. As a result, there are just a handful I make a point of not missing and the Aurora Sky series is one of them. I’m happy to say that Bad Blood has left me wanting much more.

There’s a lot to love about this series, not least of which is the ingenuity of the plot, longrange as well as in each book. Add to that the natural maturing of a high school girl who has been thrust into a world far beyond her expectations and terrific character development of all the players, major and minor, and there is very little to not like. I love the details, the little things that set this apart from other vampire stories—the whole AB blood thing is brilliant—and I really enjoy spending time with Aurora and Noel (how I love that girl!) and Dante and Valerie and Fane and even the government guys and nasty vamps.

This time, Aurora is on another threshold, moving from boot camp for vampire hunters to her first year in college. Think about it—that must be a little like going from CIA spy/assassin training to college. One minute she’s murdering a killer vampire to pass her last test and the next she’s getting the sex protection talk from her mom and meeting…er, confronting…her new roommate. Oh, and there’s the little matter of having two hunky guys, Dante and Fane, pushing all the right and wrong buttons, not to mention having to balance college classes with her vampire hunting duties.

And being a key suspect in a vampire murder investigation adds a little excitement to life, doesn’t it?

Once again, Nikki Jefford has given us a gem of a story but Bad Blood ends with everything turned topsy turvy and all I can say is thank heavens Hunting Season will be out in just a few months. Waiting to find out what happens next  just may be the end of me 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2014.

About the Author

 

Nikki Jefford 2Bookaholic, nature girl, and animal lover.

Nikki Jefford is a third generation Alaskan who found paradise in the not-so-tropical San Juan Islands (WA) where she is, once more, neighbors with Canada in a town without a single traffic light.

She married the love of her life, Sebastien, while working as a teaching assistant in France. They reside with their Westie, Cosmo in Friday Harbor.

Loves fictional bad boys and heroines who kick butt.

 

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Book Reviews: Darkness Trilogy Books One and Two by L. M. Justus

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BOOK ONE:
Title: Welcome to the Darkness
Series: Darkness Trilogy #1
Author: L.M. Justus
Publication date: August 5th 2013
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult

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BOOK TWO:
Title: Darkness Reigns
Series: Darkness Trilogy #2
Author: L.M. Justus
Publication date: June 2014
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult

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Welcome to the DarknessWelcome to the Darkness
Darkness Trilogy #1
L.M. Justus
Taurpio Publishing, August 2013
ISBN 978-0-9919368-0-9
Trade Paperback

From the author—

A typical teenager, seventeen-year-old Reed Hennessy doesn’t realize how lucky he is to lead a normal life until he loses everything, including his humanity. The attacker who slaughters his family and destroys their home turns out to be a vampire, a creature Reed had considered a myth.

Now a vampire himself, but with the unique ability to walk in sunlight, Reed struggles in the dark underworld he didn’t even know existed. His only two allies in his fight to stay alive are his reluctant mentor, Nathaniel, a vampire with over two hundred years’ worth of emotional baggage, and Sarah, a rookie cop with a secret ability of her own.

Together, Reed and his companions face a harrowing, cross-country journey before stumbling into a plot which could mean the end of everything for humans and vampires alike.

A brand new teenaged vampire, a slightly older rookie cop with a different sort of power and a seasoned vampire with a couple of hundred years under his belt…can this odd assortment of characters defeat the nefarious intentions of a very old and vicious vampire queen and her equally odious brother? Sounds a bit silly, doesn’t it? Well, put your pre-conceived notions aside because Welcome to the Darkness is a serious vampire book—no sparkles in sight—with overtones of sheer fun and, yes, lots of bloody dinners, so to speak.

I am perfectly aware that there are all sorts of reasons this trio should stumble in their efforts to stop a terrible scheme against humanity and, truthfully, the plot doesn’t always work. For instance, why would a plan to turn all humans into vampires be a good thing for the existing vampires since they need to feed on human blood? I also think Sarah is sometimes too naive, especially since she’s a cop. Still, little quibbles like this one don’t really matter so much because the entire cast of characters is vibrant enough to carry the story. Reed is delightful, as is Sarah, but I have to claim Nathaniel as my favorite. He may have his own issues as a “mature” vampire but, beneath his pasty exterior, he still has some rather endearing human traits.

I also really enjoyed Ms. Justus’s use of both first and third person POV and there’s no trouble following the switches since each chapter is labeled with the name of a particular character. The voices are distinctive, not only of the original three protagonists but also of many of the other players, especially a couple of folks who join the cast later.

So, can our intrepid trio and a few friends save the day? You’ll just have to read this to find out while I rush on to the next book  🙂

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2014.

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Darkness ReignsDarkness Reigns
Darkness Trilogy #2
L.M. Justus
Taurpio Publishing,
ISBN 978-0-9919368-3-0
Trade Paperback

From the author—

New York City is a wasteland. More than eight million people are dead or worse…infected.

After their failed attempt to stop the spread of a virus that turns people into zombie-like, human-vampire hybrids, Reed Hennessy and his ragtag crew are scrambling to stay alive. To make matters worse, the human authorities are close to proving the existence of vampires and blaming them for the disaster in New York.

Their storm of trouble is already spinning out of control when an old enemy reappears to issue a challenge–an ultimatum that will mean certain death for at least one member of Reed’s group. With their mountain of problems growing exponentially and a host of enemies closing in, they flee for their lives, desperate for a miracle. Will they survive and avoid the world’s scrutiny, or will darkness prevail?

When we last saw our trio of heroes, now grown to five with at least one more reluctant than heroic, things had gone from bad to worse and now they need to get out of New York City before the hordes of former humans get to them. Reed and Nathaniel face even more difficulties as their vampire backs sport great big targets. Unfortunately for this little band, many of the survivors out there are no more trustworthy than the hybrids.

This is where I think Darkness Reigns slips just a little bit. These humans and vampires are remarkably trusting and almost innocent in their outlook, particularly when they approach a prison, and they don’t get smarter once they’re inside. The other aspect of the story that doesn’t quite work for me is the romance between Reed and Sarah. I started feeling uneasy about it in the first book and its credibility slides even more in Darkness Reigns with the problem lying in their ages. It’s not that I’m especially bothered by his being 17 as opposed to her 21 from a moral standpoint; rather, I’m too aware that the huge majority of girls mature faster than boys and Sarah has managed to make it through the police academy so I just don’t feel the big connection between these two.

Putting all that aside, I still think this book is quite entertaining and I do appreciate that there are more twists and turns than in the first book. At times, there’s a feeling of “The Perils of Pauline”, adding to the fun as well as the darker side of things and I’m now looking forward to what might happen in Book Three.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2014.

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About the Author

 

L. M. JustusLisa Justus’ path to becoming an author took a circuitous route through the University of Waterloo where she earned a Bachelor of Mathematics, followed by jobs in quality assurance and technical writing at a high-tech company. With a keen interest in creative fiction, she wrote her first fantasy novel as part of NaNoWriMo as well as an early chapter book for her kids when they were younger. Welcome to the Darkness and Darkness Reigns are the first two books of the Darkness Trilogy, a YA paranormal fantasy.

These days Lisa is busy writing her next novel, reading, finishing her basement, doing volunteer work, and trying to stay in shape by running somewhat regularly. She, her husband, and their three children live in Ottawa, Ontario.


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