The Hands of Love by Omar Scott

The Hands of Love by Omar Scott
Publisher: Outskirts Press, Inc.
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

Everyone has a dark side … and one never quite knows just how dark it can get until they’re pushed to their limits. Steeped in a culture of dirty cops on the take, Lorenzo Love – Ren, as he’s known on the street – maintains a few vices of his own. The married narcotics detective has put countless notches in his belt with one casual sexual fling after another – but he finds he’s playing a deadly game. When young women with whom Ren’s known to have fooled around start turning up dead – with their hands ruthlessly cut off – the evidence starts pointing to Ren himself. He’s covered up many an affair, but can Ren clear himself from a heinous string of crimes that threaten to take him down for good? The Hands of Love is a thriller that promises to keep readers hooked from page one, right through to its unbelievable finale.

Have you ever read a book and it didn’t quite catch your attention in the beginning and you were wondering where the author is going with this? Have you asked yourself, should I bother finishing it? Well that’s how I felt when I first started reading The Hands of Love. The book started off materialistic and superficial with greedy cops doing questionable deeds. And a lot of characters were mentioned but no details about them were given.

But then at some point I sat down to pick up where I left off and it turns out I didn’t want to stop reading. The dirty cops are being questioned by Internal Affairs, Momo’s brother wants to get revenge for his brother’s death and wait…women are being killed right in front of their homes. Then I was hooked!

After a few chapters I learned to appreciate the author’s writing style and his knack for including wise sayings or advice during character conversations. People in the world can be harsh and I felt the author gave us a glimpse of that dark side. I don’t condone murder but in the book the murders were speaking what wasn’t said verbally. Lorenzo (Ren) Love had good qualities, he loved his dad and would do anything to save him, but he just wasn’t a good person. He is cocky, thinks he is untouchable and that he can sleep around but he learns there is always someone else who has a darker side. A warning for possible readers, the book does contain and reference sex and also there are details that disclose how the murders happened.

The author did an awesome job on setting the foundation and making the puzzle pieces click. There was a reason behind it all. I figured out early on who the killer was but it was interesting to see if the detectives ever would. The detectives on the case, McCain and Bernstein, were not the best detectives because they only seemed to focus on one suspect and they didn’t look at the big picture and ask what would be the motive for the suspect. I’ve watched enough crime shows and read enough books to have several hours of investigative skills so this was an easy solve. But if the case had been solved there wouldn’t have been the surprise ending. Thumbs up to the author on keeping the suspense going and ending with the big reveal.

The Avant Champion: Rising by C.B. Samet

The Avant Champion: Rising by C.B. Samet
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Genre: Fantasy
Length: Full (280 Pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Dryas

All things considered, it was a good day to die . .

When Marrington Castle is overtaken by a dark and ancient evil, Abigail Cross finds herself in the precarious situation of protecting Queen Rachel the Fourth. Her journey to safety quickly transforms into a quest to save Queen and country. Charged with finding the artifacts to raise The Champion to defeat the world’s most powerful enemy, Abigail finds herself traversing the perilous continent—from the roaring waterfalls of Aithos to the scorching heat of the Optato Desert to the freezing fog of Mount Karn… Will Abigail succeed in uniting the kingdom and summoning the Avant Champion to save them all?

Meet Abigail Cross, a University student studying for a geology major. She was forced to take a leave from her studies because she didn’t have enough money to finisShe becomes one of Queen Rebecca’s assistants until she has enough money.

As her parents had been killed in a shipwreck when she was young, her older brother Paul was the one who took care of her. What she doesn’t know is that her brother and the queen have hidden important information from her that will change her life forever.
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Things change quickly for Abby and the rest of the world on a summer night where everyone is celebrating an important holiday. As the queen is leaving the ball, she commands Abby to ride in her carriage back to Marrington Castle. As they are on their way Abby watches in horror as her brother is taken out of his carriage and eaten by a creature called a Swallower. As Abby learns, these are not the only evil creatures released into the world to attack and kill humanity. Their leader and enslaver is Malos, a creature created from all the evil in the world. Malos arises every 1,000 years and a champion is chosen to destroy him and send him back to his island. If this tradition does not take place, evil overtakes humanity and chaos reigns.

Abby reluctantly takes on the responsibility for the quest to retrieve the items needed to summon the champion.  She is also in charge of the queen’s safety. Along the way Abby gathers friends around her. The first is Joshua, her brother’s roommate.

Each of the cultures of the different countries of the realm are extremely well done. The author’s skill in world-building brings me into the environment like I was there. Standing in the pastures of the horses, the cold and snowy beauty of the Mountain and the heat of the desert. Also, each country has a different culture, with their own values and greetings. Abby had been in most of the cultures during her studies, which made the gathering of an army and the objects easier then it could have been.

Abby does manage to shoulder the burdens placed against her will with aplomb most of the times. Her love for queen and country is a driving force for her.

I believe the trope is a bit overdone. There many books where a female character goes on a quest to save lives. If there had been a twist, I would have enjoyed the book more. The characters are well developed even though Abby does seem to go out of character at times. This has the unfortunate ability to bring me out of the story. I can see what the author is doing, trying to show Abby’s development from a child to a strong woman. Joshua is a wonderful character who balances her. He is a steadying influence and the author made a great choice by making him a healer. His personality is suited to it, as he doesn’t panic in emergencies.

The battle between good and evil was too quickly done. With all the lead up I would have thought the battle would have gone on longer. There were only a few pages of the battle and the end somewhat predictable. Although the after battle action was much better.

This was a light novel with periods of suspense and intriguing characters. The scenery is well done and Abby’s growth as a person and her relationship with Joshua is the main focus. I hope to read more about this world.

Sophie and Max by Antoinette Corum

Sophie and Max by Antoinette Corum
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Genre: Childrens, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (120 pages)
Age Recommendation: 8+
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

One evening, as a beautiful young scientist fights for her life in a damp alley, there is a hiccup in the flow of space and time. At the precise moment she draws her last breath, a shift in the cosmos provides an opportunity for a new life in a new form. The Siamese cat is cold and wet when a kindly old man walks by the alley and hears her cry. He rescues the cat and takes her to his apartment above the book shop he owns. He introduces her to the shaggy mutt Max who shares his home, and it’s hate at first sight! Max is upset to have an interloper—a cat, no less—share his living space and affection with Mr. Cavaliere. When the old man decides that the Siamese reminds him of the Italian movie star, Sophia Loren, jealousy bites Max right on the nose! As cat and dog eye each other suspiciously, the Siamese faces the growing uneasiness that she doesn’t belong in this feline body. But she’s going to need Max’s help to solve this problem. Max has decided the cat is the problem and the sooner he gets rid of her, the better. With the use of ancient books, powerful crystals, and magic chants, Sophie and Max set off on adventures across space and time. In their travels, in both animal and human form, they meet good guys and bad guys, including a helpful wizard and an evil villain. They learn the value of cooperation and trust. They learn how to compromise and improvise on the spot. And, in looking out for each other, they learn the true meaning of friendship.

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This book had a terrific sense of humor. I especially enjoyed the conversations that Sophie and Max had with each other. They were often sarcastic with one another but never in a mean-spirited way. Instead, their dialogue was more like a competition to see who could say the most truthful but also outlandish thing possible. It was nice to see them get so many opportunities to one-up each other.

There were some pacing issues. As intrigued as I was by the blurb, I found my attention wandering as Max and Sophie’s adventures continued because of how much the plot was stretched out to cover them. The number of things they experienced seemed like they could have been covered by a smaller number of pages. It would have been helpful to either have more conflict in the storyline or fewer scenes to explore what happened to these characters after they met.

The magic in this universe was described well. While it took me a while to understand the rules that governed how it worked, even the most complicated parts made sense once I’d gathered a few more clues. I also liked the fact that the characters were just as confused about this sort of magic as I was at first. It made a great deal of sense for them to need some time to put all of the pieces together as well. Watching them eventually figure it out was satisfying.

Sophie and Max should be read by anyone who loves animals.

Chaysing Destiny by Jalpa Williby


Chaysing Destiny by Jalpa Williby
Chaysing Trilogy Book 3
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (342 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Sorrel

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Will you find your destiny? Or will destiny find you? Lesson One: Follow your instincts. Lesson Two: Trust no one. Lesson Three: Don’t hesitate. Truth is nothing but lies. Light is overshadowed by darkness. Hope is replaced by despair. Innocence is lost. Only anger and bitterness remain. Don’t miss this final installment as destiny’s path is ultimately unraveled in Chaysing Destiny.

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First of all, I would very much recommend readers to start this series from the first book, Chaysing Dreams. Yes, the first book may not be what you expect but patience pays off. In this case, the second and the third books are very good in every way. I completely devoured them.

The third starts two years after where the second book ends. A lot has happened but to explain it here would spoil the second book’s ending. It’s exciting and shouldn’t be missed.

Tess is in a place in her life where she has to strengthen her resolve and herself for the protection of those she loves. She has great motivation for becoming stronger and more independent.

More than a year later she goes on a mission. A whirlwind of a mission that would give more questions than answers. There’s so much action, so much that happens in this final chapter of the trilogy but it brings the story to satisfying end.

For a lot of readers, this book would probably only be classified as a Contemporary Romance and Mystery. However, in my opinion there is a little bit of Sci-fi in it.

Chaysing Destiny is full of twists and turns and mystery that any reader with a love for the genre will be glad to read.

Chaysing Memories by Jalpa Williby

Chaysing Memories by Jalpa Williby
Chaysing Trilogy Book 2
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (348 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Sorrel

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Even if your mind forgets, will your heart remember?

They say you can’t beat Fate.

She has the power to fill your heart with happiness or shatter it into a million pieces.

Too many lies, too many secrets. Tess’s perfect little world is now nothing more than chaos. She is determined to find inner strength, happiness, and peace. And yet, she can’t remember some of the most crucial events of her life, including the man she once fell in love with. Will she be able to trust her instincts and listen to her heart before it’s too late?
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Chayse has given up his life for her. And he would do it again. A man, once powerful and fierce, now has lost control of everything around him. Can he hang on to the slim hope that somehow Tess will be able to find him and save him from his hell, even though she has no idea who he is?

They say you can’t beat Fate. Maybe they’re right.

What would you do if you can’t remember the one person in your life that means the world to you? What if you don’t have any of his memories?

Chaysing Memories feels so personal. I think this is where I congratulate the author. Though the first book was good, this second book was incredible. The writing was exceptional, emotional and descriptive.

Tess doesn’t remember Chayse but her world comes crashing down when she realizes she has lost three weeks of her life. From then on starts a fight where life and happiness is at stake. Chayse is trapped in hell and the only person who can save is the one who does not remember him.

Maybe I am being a little cheesy but this story shows you the power of love and of the mind and how fate has a hand in our lives.

A lot of secrets in her life are unraveled. A myriad of different events occur that will make her much stronger. The plot was well developed and the author made sure the mystery and suspense element of the book stayed through until the end.

I loved every part of this, from the beginning to the end. My heart went out to them every time it felt like they are going to lose each other. But they stayed strong until the end. The ending….I was surprised. I think that’s all I can say without giving something away.

For readers, I would very much recommend they read from book 1 first. l loved the second book. It made me cry and hope for more of this story to come. Those who love an epic love story should check this series out.

The Witch’s Revenge by Danny Odato

The Witch’s Revenge by Danny Odato
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Horror, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (188 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

In Harangul, a village in the Latur district of Maharashtra, the Nehra family wakes up to what they believe is an ordinary day. But things are about to take a dark turn in the little village when a mysterious old woman moves into the abandoned house next door. Padma, a simple woman, is married to Mohan, a hardworking tailor. They have four children and are raising them in a loving, traditional Hindu family. They enjoy the culture of their small community and rely on their many friends, elders, and traditions to lead happy and spiritual lives. But soon after the arrival of the strange woman next door, a child is involved in a horrible, fatal incident. Another child becomes seriously ill, and a woman falls to her death from her roof. Then Padma’s own family suffers a tragic loss. Mohan and Padma seek spiritual advice, to no avail, and the authorities offer no assistance. Finally in desperation, as things become more bizarre in the colony, a party of brave men ventures out to seek a strong baba from far away. With faith, strength, and a very strong sense of community, the people of Harangul work tirelessly to free their home from the grasp of a terrible evil presence—a daayan who threatens their very existence. The Witch’s Revenge is a striking novel that seamlessly blends Indian tradition with suspense and horror—a book eloquently presented by a gifted new storyteller.

How would you protect your loved ones from a threat that no one saw coming?

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It would have been helpful to have more information about the villain’s thought processes during the course of this tale. While a strong backstory helps to explain this individual’s motives, certain parts of it never quite made sense to me. Given this character’s knowledge and personality, I would have expected a very different course of events to be the most logical outcome of their experiences.

With that being said, the rest of the characters were quite easy to get to know. Mr. Odato smoothly shifts from one point of view to the next. Since nearly all of the plot is experienced from the perspective of a handful of individuals it was easy to quickly figure out who is speaking when it changes again.

There were quite a few grammar, punctuation, and spelling mistakes in this book. While I was reading I wondered if certain syntax errors were placed in the text deliberately in order to give hints about the narrator’s background, most of them did not further the plot and seemed to be there accidentally. They were distracting due to how often they occur.

Mr. Odato’s detailed descriptions create a setting that works incredibly well with the plot. It was easy for me to visualize what the village looks like, especially at night when some of the scariest scenes occur. The foreboding presence of a nearby jungle that is rumoured to be haunted sent a chill down my spine.

The Witch’s Revenge has clearly been influenced by classic horror tropes. I would especially recommend this book to readers who are big fans of this style of writing as it is a good example of what it can be.

Wolf Sirens: Forbidden by Tina Smith


Wolf Sirens: Forbidden by Tina Smith
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Length: full (382 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Review by Poppy

When Lila unwillingly moves to the country town of Shade, she can’t imagine the life-altering events that lie in wait for her. Shade has a curfew and has always been surrounded by myths. A central feature of the town is its famous statue of Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt, whose spirit is said to protect the innocent.

Lila falls in with a group of intriguing teenagers with luminescent eyes and soon she is drawn into the shadowlands of fantasy and reality, where destiny collides. A mysterious local girl, Cresida, warns her to stay away, but Lila is drawn to them like a moth to a flame.
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Cresida knows their fatal secret and she is honour-bound to protect those who are endangered. But she underestimates Lila’s passion for the mysterious and charismatic clan of youths. Lila begins to feel a call she cannot ignore. Yet her heart is filled with vulnerable desires that begin to turn the underworld upside down, for both hunter and hunted, as she learns they have been waiting for her… Inspired by the legend of the mythical femme fatale, Wolf Sirens is an intimate tale of unrequited and forbidden love in the underworld, a masterpiece of romance fantasy.

An interesting twist on your typical werewolf story, Wolf Sirens: Forbidden was a good, compelling read.

Our heroine is a mixed up teenager who, after moving to the odd little town of Shade, finds herself pulled between various groups at school. She’s especially shocked with the “in” crowd wants her to hang out with them. But strange things happen, including a cryptic warning from the very odd Cresida, that starts Lila on a path she’d never expected.

I liked this book. Its story was different, full of angst and conflict, has the (now required) love triangle of sorts, and plenty of suspense. I liked that I, as well as our heroine, didn’t know who to trust. Nothing is as it seems, and friends and enemies aren’t who you suppose at all. The author is skilled, and her writing itself solid, but I do wish the book hadn’t been quite as long. There were several places where things dragged and I found myself skimming and waiting for something new to happen.  The book would have been well-served by having a skilled editor tighten things up a bit.

Still, the book was a good read and the ending leaves no doubt that it’s part of a series. I admit to not believing the ending is true (and I imagine Lila will feel the same as the next book starts). Thankfully, many ends are wrapped up with the book, but many more threads are left hanging or introduced.

A solid start to a decent paranormal YA, I enjoyed Wolf Sirens: Forbidden and will absolutely pick up the next in the series to see what happens next.