The Fortune Teller’s Secret by Ron D. Voigts


The Fortune Teller’s Secret by Ron D. Voigts
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (234 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

A dead man on a Ferris wheel and a cold-case murder take Cavendish Brown into a world of carnival exotics, ghosts, and killers.

The annual carnival comes to Maiden Falls, a small town in the West Virginia Mountains, but everything is not merry.

The ghost of a woman appears to Cavendish Brown, a carnival worker lies dead aboard a car on the Ferris wheel, and a bullied teenager plots to kill people at the carnival with a homemade bomb. More complications arise. Cavendish again butts heads with the local sheriff, Clinton Pike.

Marbella Wellingway, owner of the newspaper where Cavendish works, receives a visit from the Angel of Death. And a Fortune Teller at the carnival knows something that could forever change Cavendish’s life.

With the aid of Jane, a disturbed psychic, and Alexandra, a Goth witch, he must find the killer, help the mystery woman, and risk his life to prevent more deaths.

Cavendish gets awakened at night by a woman who asks him to help her. She’s a ghost. He sees her die and since he can’t touch her or talk to her, he’s not sure how he could solve her mystery. He also doesn’t speak of it. Everyone around him seems to have powers but he thinks this is just a dream…

Nobody is actually what they show the public world. In this case, the women have witchly powers. Cavendish has some, too, but he doesn’t know it. He was adopted and knows nothing about his real parents.

He works with Alex, who comes and drags him out of his house and takes him to the carnival. He sees a ghost again while he’s there but he tells Alex he needed to relieve himself. And when the Ferris wheel come down to the ground, there’s a dead man in the seat…

With the sheriff arresting the wrong man, the discovery of a body from years ago, and a father who misses his daughter and wants to avenge her, there’s a lot of clues and a lot of misdirection.

This author makes you believe all these powers are real and how people use them is both amazing and amusing. He also throws in a budding romance between Alex and Cavendish.

With a fortune teller who keeps trying to get Cavendish to visit her, Alex’s mother seeing the Angel of Death and knowing someone in her family is going die, a family curse, blackmail and murder, there’s plenty to keep your attention.

The story flows well, has several subplots, and it entertains well. This was a very good read.

September Sci-Fi/Fantasy or Mystery/Suspense Book of the Month Poll Winners ~ Everything We Left Behind by Kerry Lonsdale AND Mothers and Other Strangers by Gina Sorell

We have a tie for this month’s poll!!


Everything We Left Behind by Kerry Lonsdale
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (327 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Two months before his wedding, financial executive James Donato chased his trade-laundering brother Phil to Mexico, only to be lost at sea and presumed dead. Six and a half years later, he emerges from a dissociative fugue state to find he’s been living in Oaxaca as artist Carlos Dominguez, widower and father of two sons, with his sister-in-law Natalya Hayes, a retired professional surfer, helping to keep his life afloat. But his fiancée, Aimee Tierney, the love of his life, has moved on. She’s married and has a child of her own.

Devastated, James and his sons return to California. But Phil is scheduled for release from prison, and he’s determined to find James, who witnessed something in Mexico that could land Phil back in confinement. Under mounting family pressure, James flees with his sons to Kauai, seeking refuge with Natalya. As James begins to unravel the mystery of his fractured identity, danger is never far behind, and Natalya may be the only person he can trust.

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!!

And…


Mothers and Other Strangers by Gina Sorell
Publisher: Prospect Park Books
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (320 pgs)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

“My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was nineteen, and knowing that she was already pregnant with a dead man’s child, she accepted.”

Thus begins this riveting story of a woman’s quest to understand her recently deceased mother, a glamorous, cruel narcissist who left her only child, Elsie, an inheritance of debts and mysteries. While coping with threats that she suspects are coming from the cult-like spiritual program her mother belonged to, Elsie works to unravel the message her dying mother left for her, a quest that ultimately takes her to the South African family homestead she never knew existed.

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!!

Rory and the Alien Groom by Jessica Coulter Smith


Rory and the Alien Groom by Jessica Coulter Smith
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (120 Pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Tulip

Humiliation burns through Zwyk as he comes to the realization his bride has left him standing alone at the altar. When something seems too good to be true, it usually is. He should have known someone as vivacious as his bride-to-be would never settle for a paper pushing, XBox playing geek like him. While his heart isn’t exactly broken, his pride is wounded, and his confidence has taken a hit.

Rory hates that she had to tell Zwyk her sister has run away instead of marrying him. Well, she hates the pain her sister caused. She can’t exactly say she’s sorry the wedding is off. Maybe now she can make Zwyk see what’s been right under his nose this entire time — her.

This was another great book in the Intergalactic Brides Series from Jessica Coulter Smith. Rory and the Alien Groom was a short, sweet and very sexy fantasy romance that had me captivated from page one until the end.

Zwyk was unlucky in love until his fiance left him standing at the alter on his wedding day. He finally met the love of his life and the perfect mate in Rory. She was the little sister of the runaway bride so naturally this caused him to hesitate about jumping right back into another romantic entanglement. Luckily for him Rory didn’t have the same qualms. She was already halfway in love with the sexy purple alien. She just had to convince Zwyk to give their relationship a chance. Their romance hit a few snags here and there but Rory was persistent until Zwyk finally realized how short life can be and decided to take another chance with Rory.

I sure did love this story. As usual, it was wonderfully written with engaging characters and an entertaining plot. I enjoyed the hot sex scenes but most of all I truly liked Rory and Zwyk. I love strong heroines who know what they want and go after it. In this case it was Rory who made the first move even though she was rather innocent. I loved her tenacity.

I must admit that I’ve never been all that interested in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre, but I’ve read every book in this series. Jessica Coulter Smith has become one of my favorite authors. I look forward to reading many more books in the Intergalactic Brides Series. So for what it’s worth I happily recommend this book, and the series, to everyone.

Celeste and the Alien Bartender by Jessica Coulter Smith


Celeste and the Alien Bartender by Jessica Coulter Smith
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (96 Pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Tulip

Zanar has made himself a home on Earth, where he owns Stardust Bar, popular with both aliens and humans. There’s only one thing missing from Zanar ‘s life. Despite his best efforts to impress the human females he meets, he’s still without a mate. At the age of twenty-six, it isn’t dire for him to pair off and start a family just yet, but he’s lonely and ready to settle down. The last thing he expects is for Celeste to come into his life and turn it upside down.

Celeste is back on Earth, after having been abducted by an alien race five years ago. She’s spent those years as a slave on the planet Vaaden, where she had a precious daughter with her owner, Pynder. But when Pynder dies suddenly, his parents swoop in and snatch Sophie from Celeste’s arms before banishing her from their world. Celeste will do anything to get her daughter back, but falling in love with a bartender — or anyone else — was never part of the plan.

This was a great Sci-Fi/ Fantasy romance. The way that Jessica Coulter Smith was able to bring the characters to life in my imagination had me hanging on every word until the end.

The best part of this short romance was the emotions and amazing characters. I loved Zanar the sexy alien bartender. He was just so sweet and really cared about Celeste and her daughter. Zanar won my affection right away. I liked Celeste very much because she was strong and easy to relate to. This author always does an awesome job on the world building by giving her characters some real life struggles to overcome. For Celeste it was starting all over after being held captive for five years on an alien planet. She never let adversity define her and didn’t want to be seen as a victim. Yet even with her incredible grit and determination, it would’ve difficult for her to get her daughter back had it not been for Zanar.

I am a huge fan of this author’s writing. Her creativity and world building is exceptional. I adored Zanar and Celeste, and loved the small cameos from some of previous couples in the Intergalactic Brides series. Lastly, I loved the naughty sex scenes. Those are always a bonus for me.

This sexy fantasy romp had just about everything needed to make it a fantastic reading experience for this happy reader.

SonofaWitch! by Laura VanArendonk Baugh, Sara Dobie Bauer, Lissa Marie Redmond, Frances Pauli, Mara Malins, and Adam Millard.


SonofaWitch! by Laura VanArendonk Baugh, Sara Dobie Bauer, Lissa Marie Redmond, Frances Pauli, Mara Malins, and Adam Millard
Publisher: World Weaver Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary, Historical
Length: Full Length (187 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

No one is perfect—not even a witch. Witches have amazing power at their fingertips to do unbelievable things. That magic can come in really handy sometimes too. They can make someone fall in love, poison an apple to enact a sleeping curse, banish an enemy to an alternate reality, or just conjure up some Nutella when there is none in the house.

But what happens when those spells go horribly awry?

SonofaWitch! contains six humorous contemporary fantasy stories of magic spells gone wrong by Laura VanArendonk Baugh, Sara Dobie Bauer, Lissa Marie Redmond, Frances Pauli, Mara Malins, and Adam Millard.

Modern magic is far more complicated than it might first appear to be.

The main character in “Good Spell Gone Bug” agreed to get a tattoo in order to earn money to pay off a debt. It wasn’t until the tattoo began to cause her some odd health problems that main character decided to break the rules and try to get rid of it regardless of the consequences. Ms. VanArendonk Baugh’s writing was filled with creative moments. I never knew what she was going to shock her characters with next, and that made it hard to stop reading.

Violet had an unrequited crush in “The Trouble with Love Spells,” and she thought the best way to fix it was to put a love spell on the guy she desired. Ms. Bauer’s twist to the spell made me gasp. It was the last thing I would have expected to happen, but it fit the tone of this tale perfectly. I also enjoyed the fact that the main character was so flexible when her plans didn’t exactly turn out the way she thought they would.

James owned a coffee shop that catered to fairy tale characters in “All the Petty Curses.” I was amused by seeing how he interacted with everyone from Hansel and Gretel to the Big Bad Wolf. While I enjoyed seeing how many references to classic fairy tales Ms. Redmond fit into James’ daily life, the number of characters running around the scenes was so high that I had trouble keeping track of what everyone was doing. It would have been nice to focus on a smaller number of people instead.

All Rowan wanted was to fall in love with the perfect man. What surprised me the most about her and her dog Rex’s adventures in “The Perfect Mate Fiasco” was how she reacted when she woke up the next morning and realized her spell had come true but not in the exact way she’d hoped. Ms. Pauli made me chuckle as I followed Rowan through her strange day and waited to see if she’d accept the soulmate she’d been given.

“A Matter of Perspective” showed what happened to a witch named Olyvar after he failed to learn how to make one of the simplest potions his instructor knew of. After he carelessly tossed a tatty root ball and watched it land in his potion, he and a few other members of the class were magically transported far away from home. Olyvar and his companions had intelligent reactions to their predicament, especially once they realized just how far away they’d really landed. I was especially impressed with how calm they were after they arrived. The plot twists only became more creative after that! Ms. Malins put plenty of obstacles in their paths, and that it made hard to stop reading until I knew how it would all end.

The first sentence of “A Poppet Named Dave” was as shocking as it was memorable: “River Everbleed had only been a witch for an hour when her head came off.” I giggled when I read it, and then I dove back into the story to find out what River had done to deserve such a fate. Don’t worry, though. It wasn’t gory. If anything, it reminded me of how it feels to learn any new skill and be terrible at it in the beginning. Mr. Millard captured that feeling perfectly, and I only grew more impressed with his writing style as I settled into the plot and realized what River was actually trying to learn to do with her magic lessons.

SonofaWitch! is a must-read for anyone who loves modern fantasy.

iHunt: Killing Monsters in the Gig Economy by David A. Hill Jr.


iHunt: Killing Monsters in the Gig Economy by David A. Hill Jr.
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary, Paranormal, Horror
Length: Full Length (269 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Astilbe

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

It’s like Uber, but for slaying monsters!

Lana is a monster hunter. She kills vampires, werewolves, demons and all the other terrifying creatures of the night. She doesn’t do it because she’s the chosen one. She doesn’t do it because it’s her duty. She does it because working one job just doesn’t cut it for a millenial in Southern California.

She takes contracts using iHunt, an app which freelance monster hunters use to find profitable prey. It’s like Supernatural meets Uber, Buffy meets Airbnb, and sadly, Blade meets Fiverr.

Lana’s story is about making ends meet, about economic anxiety, and about what a person’s willing to do to pay the bills. It’s a equal parts horror, dark humor, slice of life, and social commentary on the gig economy.

I’ve reviewed hundreds of books for Long and Short Reviews over the last five years. This is the by far the best one I’ve ever reviewed for them.

The character development was amazing. Lana was an incredibly complex woman whose personality could never be condensed to a few short sentences. Everything I learned about her was doled out gradually between and during her various iHunt assignments, That only made me more curious to find out more about her. I especially loved how much time Mr. Hill spent exploring her many reasons for signing up to be a monster hunter. Every single one of them taught me more about her as a person while they were also pushing the plot forward in all kinds of exciting ways.

Speaking of the plot, the pacing of it was so beautifully relentless that I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the page. The blurb gave an excellent introduction to this universe, but there were many new conflicts and characters introduced later on in the storyline that were somehow even more fascinating than the original idea of freelancers being hired to kill monsters.

One of the many reasons why I gave this story the highest rating possible is how much attention it paid to real-world issues. The characters dealt with all kinds of frustrating situations when they weren’t actively fighting monsters: dealing with deeply prejudiced people, running out of money well before payday, experiencing truly terrible customer service, and so much more. Some of these scenes made me laugh, while others made me wince. All of them developed this world so thoroughly that I honestly forgot I was reading a piece of fiction. It was like listening to a friend talk about her terrible or wonderful day instead.

The romance was handled perfectly. Not only did the characters involved in it have an unbelievable amount of chemistry, they also genuinely liked each other as human beings. Their strong friendship made me eager to see if they could turn their platonic feelings into romantic ones. This part of the plot was also a refreshing break from the often intense fight scenes.

iHunt: Killing Monsters in the Gig Economy was phenomenal in every single way. If you can only spare the time to read read one more novel this year, make it this one!

The Nights Too Dark by MH Snowy

The Nights Too Dark by MH Snowy
The Twelve Nights of Jeremy Sunson
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Sci-fi
Length: Full (300 pgs)
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Rose

Hidden inside the most unlikely person can be the most extraordinary hero …

Jeremy Sunson is surrounded by crazy. Mrs Abercrombie, upstairs, is widowed because her husband glued feathers to his arms, jumped off the building and tried to fly. His neighbour, Strykland, has gone mad since his wife died in a freak car accident—his only thread to reality the doomsday machine he’s building and his daughter … and, of course, spacemen invade Jeremy’s living room.

Every night, in glorious Technicolour, there’s a battle royal between two high-tech assassins who continually blast Jeremy’s apartment to shreds. Each man has one mission: Red wants to kill Jeremy, Bronze wants to save him!

Though his therapist insists he’s just having bad dreams—Jeremy knows better. It’s time to fight. He’s sick and tired of being sick, scared and tired! Armed with rare confidence and a baseball bat, this night, Jeremy fights like the crazy man he isn’t!

But how can he ever imagine when he’s won the battle, the war is only just beginning … over and over and over again?

The Nights Too Dark—ride a wave of laughter, fun, and sci-fi fantasy all the way to Armageddon!

This book is the first volume of The Twelve Nights of Jeremy Sunson, and includes the first three nights of his adventures and his unwanted job to save the world from Armageddon.

Jeremy is the world’s most unlikely savior of the world and at first believes he is having unusually vivid dreams. He already has anxiety issues, so in his daily visits to his therapist, he shares everything that is happening. He comes to finally realize though… it’s all true.

This book is chockfull of fun… all of the characters are wonderful, and it’s great to see Jeremy interact with them as his days are reset (end of the world meets Groundhog Day). I love his neighbors Mrs. Abercrombie, Stryckland, and Anna and how they just kind of go along with him–the whole neighborhood is full of the crazies (in a good way). Even the bad-guys who keep showing up are well-drawn, and it’s almost a pleasure to see them night after night.

Each night is short enough you could read it in one sitting– I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series and seeing the other ways Jeremy manages to save the world. I could so see this as a TV show– stay tuned … Same Jeremy time… Same Jeremy channel.

Invisible Love by Amanda Steiger


Invisible Love by Amanda Steiger
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (64 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Gregory, an ambitious sorcerer, tried to become immortal…but the spell went wrong and transformed him into a bodiless spirit. For five hundred years, he’s roamed the world trapped between life and death, cut off from all human contact. Then he meets Linda, a young psychic who can feel his presence.

Shy, lonely Linda hasn’t felt a man’s touch for a long time. Then one night, a gorgeous man appears to her in a vivid, erotic dream…and the next day, she hears his voice in her mind. At first, Linda thinks she’s going crazy, but she can’t ignore the man’s desperation, his hunger for human contact. When he asks her to open her mind to him, she can’t refuse.

By inhabiting Linda’s body, Gregory discovers, he is able to feel again. After five hundred years without pleasure, he is overwhelmed by the sensations. Linda, meanwhile, discovers that having Gregory’s spirit inside her is surprisingly erotic. Though she can’t see him, she can sense his essence moving through her, even feel his hands on her body. Before long, she finds herself falling in love with this strange, lonely, passionate man. As her feelings grow, Linda vows to help Gregory escape the empty half-life of a wandering soul and become human again…but to save him, she must make a terrible sacrifice.

How many centuries could you wait to meet your soulmate?

One of the things I enjoyed the most about this story were its vivid descriptions of Linda’s ordinary daily routines. She wasn’t at all happy with the way she was living when she first met Gregory, and her frustration shone through brightly in the beginning. Seeing those scenes in such detail made the rest of their adventures even more appealing than it would have otherwise been.

The chemistry between Gregory and Linda never felt quite right to me. Their relationship heated up so incredibly fast that I wasn’t quite sure what they saw in each other or why they were suddenly all over each other. While I liked both of these characters as individuals and thought they had real potential as a couple, I would have liked to see more examples of what they found attractive about each other in the beginning since they didn’t know each other at all when the sparks first began to fly.

With that being said, the sex scenes were nicely written. I was intrigued by what it might be like for someone to sleep with a spirit when I first read the blurb, and I couldn’t wait to see how everything from foreplay to afterplay and everything in-between would work when only one of the characters actually had a body. Ms. Steiger’s take on the topic was fresh and well done.

Invisible Love was a short, satisfying tale that I’d recommend to anyone who is in the mood for something steamy.

Trust in Axion by Bruce Meyer


Trust in Axion by Bruce Meyer
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (79 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Aidan Scelestus never meant to change reality. But when he, together with his girlfriend Emma Drommel, focused too much energy on too small a physical space, that’s what they did. Together, they hijacked the stellar laboratory of Atraville College for a glimpse of another dimension. In this science fantasy novella, the multiple containment walls and magnetic protection of the lab can’t contain the damage to the fabric of space. The worst wasn’t what it did to themselves. The worst wasn’t even that it spread and nobody knew how to stop it; or that it affected people and buildings and landscaping alike. No, the worst was the fix devised by the professor of physics, Aubrey Probo.

This is what happens when science goes terribly wrong.

The scientific explanation for what was happening in this story was explained perfectly. The author went into just enough detail to show what was happening and why it was happening without slowing down the pacing of the plot. I don’t know very much about physics, but I didn’t have any trouble at all understanding what went wrong with Aidan and Emma’s experiment or why they were so concerned about the dark energy spreading.

I would have liked to see more time spent developing Aidan and Emma’s personalities. While the plot itself was really well done, I finished it without ever getting a strong impression of what Aidan and Emma were like as individuals. Were they shy or outgoing? Did they generally have a serious or lighthearted approach to life? Had I known more about them, I would have given this book a much higher rating as I enjoyed everything else about it.

The pacing was strong. Every scene had something interesting happening in it, and many of them had more than one discovery, battle, or action sequence that made it impossible for me to stop reading. I also appreciated the fact that the author included so many different subplots. They brought a lot of depth to this universe and made the question of what was going to happen to the characters even more pressing than it already was.

Trust in Axion is a great choice for anyone who likes hard science fiction.

The Ghost and Mrs Miller by Sandra Tilley


The Ghost and Mrs Miller by Sandra Tilley
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (359 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Libby Miller is a good Southern girl, and good Southern girls know the rules. But fate has no rules. On her nineteenth wedding anniversary, fate whips up a tornado of turmoil when Libby finds her husband Neil in the arms of his assistant. But the storm’s not over. Neil flips his BMW, and Libby comes home to find his ghost in the dining room. How is Libby supposed to grieve and move on with Neil’s ever-present, meddling ethereal presence in her life?

With her twentieth high school reunion looming, Libby finds herself torn between two men from her past. One man promises passion and a new beginning, and the other wants to pick up where they left off. Neil stirs up a maelstrom of mischief, making it almost impossible for Libby to sort through the rubble. Libby anticipates a confrontation between her two suitors–not a shadowy stalker who chooses the reunion as his setting for a showdown.

In Libby’s quest for independence, she rejects the one man who can save her. Can she compromise the price of her freedom, or will it cost her a second chance at love and put her life in danger?

On the night of her nineteenth wedding anniversary Libby discovers her husband has been cheating on her. After ramming his shiny white BMW with her tatty old car, she drives home with her mind in turmoil. Her children are away so she is able to give in to her emotions, but a knock on the door brings her more bad news. It’s Eli, a police captain who is also a a childhood friend. He has come to tell her her husband, Neil has been in a crash and has not survived the accident.

With most stories this would be the end of the matter, Libby would move forward and find a new love who her kids would adore and all would be well. This story is different as Neil refuses to move on to the other side. He haunts Libby who can’t help herself taunting him about his indiscretion. This leads to many humorous moments when friends look at her weirdly as she talks to Neil, who they cannot see.

There’s also the stalker who keeps driving past her house which is in a gated community. Eli tries to help and also helps with various tasks around the property, but another childhood friend is also interested in Libby. For a believer in ghosts this is a very apt story about what could happen when a husband dies at what he considers the wrong moment in his life. There’s also the question, does Neil approve of her moving on, or would he like her to remain true to him? Good read with a nice twist to the story.