Matt Larkin’s Curse of Witch and War FREE on Amazon Today!!

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Matt Larkin has done it again!! This short story is an amazing prequel or follow-up to Children of Sun and Moon. Both the characters and plot made me want this story to go on forever!! The only issue I have now is how to tell my husband that I’m in love with another fictional character–Malin!

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Review: Across the Universe by Beth Revis (Across the Universe #1)

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Review written by Alana

A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder. 

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn’t do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there’s only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

First, I need to say that I am a sci-fi junkie.  I love Star Wars, Stargate, and Star Trek.  I’ve read all the Dune novels—more than once—and there is nothing like a good “out of this world” mystery.  That said, I also do not like sci-fi strictly for its science part of it.  The story line must be there.  I love layers upon layers of the worlds that the writers build.  I love characterization and interactions between people among the chaos of a sci-fi world.  I love Star Wars because it’s riddled with good vs. evil, love, choices, and surviving against the odds.  Sci-fi appeals to me because it adds another layer of what ifs to our everyday life.  I mean, imagine you are a leader of a group of people who are isolated and stranded.  You are trying everything you can think to help them survive.  Now imagine being in a space ship a million miles from earth…it adds a whole other set of problems.

Across the Universe is similar to The Host in that it uses aspect of the sci-fi genre, but essentially it is about relationship interactions and the consequences of people’s actions.  The chemistry between Elder and Amy is fantastic.  The set of circumstances that Amy wakes up to is intriguing.  How would you react if you woke up and everyone you knew was either dead or still frozen?  She doesn’t just accept what is happening to her and move on.  She questions everything; she is really pissed off, and of course depressed.  Her reactions are real to me.  Of course I don’t agree with all of her decisions or responses, but the author remains true to her character.

Elder is enigmatic. Can you imagine being mature enough to lead people at 16?  But he definitely is not your typical 16 year old.  In fact, I forgot that he was only 16 many times while I was reading; however,  then he would do something a typical 16 year old boy would do and I would become more drawn into his character.  I love how the author only gives us teasers into his thinking though—it is enough to grab the reader, but at the same time keeps him mysterious.

The entire story is rich and layered to keep the reader on their toes.   Just when I think I had it all figured out, the author flips the plot.  I don’t get surprised by the climax of books very much, but this one totally gave me a slap in the face.   I give this book a strong 5 stars!!!

Across the Universe on Amazon:  Across the Universe

Review: Chosen by Sarah Swan (The Seeker Saga #1)

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Could you live your whole life feeling empty?
 

A New Life
Seventeen-year-old Tracy Bachman feels that something is missing in life. Despite a normal upbringing, she can’t help but yearn for more. That is why she decides to transfer to a new boarding school, in a move that takes her all the way across the country.

An Unforgettable Adventure
When Tracy arrives at her new school, she expects an ordinary enough life. But what she finds there instead changes her in ways she could never expect.
A love interest she did not ask for. A power she does not know she holds. And a clique of mysterious, popular girls hell-bent on entangling Tracy in their affairs.

A Hidden Purpose
The girls Tracy meets all know she is different. Beneath their easy smiles lies a friendship laced with dark intentions. Will Tracy understand what they want in time to protect herself? Or will she find herself hopelessly ensnared in their web of secrets?
 

A Forbidden Romance
A suggestive glance. A secret rendezvous. In the midst of everything else, Tracy finds temptation in the very boy she is prohibited from speaking to. But as she pushes herself away, she falls right into the arms of another…

A Mystical World
Slowly, Tracy starts to understand that beneath her school’s veneer of splendor lies a dangerous, secretive world brimming with supernatural powers. And before she knows it, she finds herself deep in the heart of that cryptic, mystifying world.
All expectations are thrown to the wind as Tracy struggles to balance love, friendship, adventure – and her newfound power. But will she be perceptive enough to realize that there are those who would use her for that power, lurking closer than she can believe?

Chosen is different than anything I’ve ever read, to say the least. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. I liked it, and more than likely I will read the sequel if for no other reason than to find out where Swan is going with this story.

I can’t really say too much about the book without giving anything away, but I will say this: the beginning was very slow going. Details are obviously necessary to help the reader imagine the setting and characters of the book, but overuse can take away from the actual storyline. The beginning was overloaded with descriptions that, in my opinion, took away from the story more than added to it. There were also parts in the book left me confused as to why they were there in the first place. Like drawing attention to a particular character, describing him and and the main character’s interaction with him in such a way that I was positive that he was going to be a big deal. Nope. The way Swan talked him up, I expected to at least see him later on in the story. Wrong again. He may have a pivotal role in the next book, but in this one, his character could have practically been omitted.

I admit, I was a little bored in the beginning, but my curiosity was piqued enough to continue reading. About one-third of the way through is when the book really picked up and I kinda couldn’t put it down. I loved the originality. I was riveted by the turn of events and the fact that some “friends” were, in fact, enemies. I want to know more about the characters and and their motives and intentions. I have so many questions that I hope she answers in the next book. I really hope she hits the ground running with the second book. If she does, it could be really good. If not…well, let’s just say I probably won’t be reading the third book.

Swan’s writing style was very wordy at the beginning, but evened out later on. She’s pretty young, I think, for an author, and it almost seemed like she was trying to prove herself by using unnecessarily large words. Words like “abashedly” and “surreptitiously” and “fruition”. While these are all great words, I don’t think they really belong in a young adult book. Especially since the main character doesn’t even talk like that later on in the book. Also, in the first chapter and a few of the seceding ones, the tone was almost like Tracy was sitting us down for story time, using phrases like “but I digress” and “but I’d be remiss if I didn’t give the bullet points now”. I felt more like Tracy was telling me a story of something that had happened to her, rather then reading a book about a character named Tracy. However, later on in the book, it no longer felt like like story time, but that I was reading a book with a cast of characters. It was confusing and inconsistent.

Overall, it was a pretty good book, and its originality was refreshing. I give it three stars.

Chosen on Amazon: Chosen (The Seeker Saga, #1)

Review: Between Worlds by Amanda Zabski (Rite of Passage Series, Book 1)

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Jamie Nevin struggles with her identity as much as any sixteen-year-old girl. Well, maybe a little more.  Jamie just discovered that she is not human—at least not exactly. The child of a doomed union between a noble of the Unseelie Court and a Seelie Fae, Jamie has been raised by her mother hidden away from both courts in a small New England town.

Troubled by vivid dreams when asleep and plagued by paralyzing headaches when awake, Jamie knows something is wrong. After the strange disappearance of her mother, and the unexpected appearance of family she never knew, Jamie is forced to accept a truth about her past that puts her future at risk.

To make matters worse, while she works to determine who to trust, Jamie’s best friend Allie keeps a powerful secret from her.

Thrown into a world she doesn’t understand, Jamie must use her fledgling powers in a fight to stay alive and avoid capture by the Keeper, a soulless creature that frightens even the things that go bump in the night.

Shannon and Rachel here again…we had so much fun chatting about Amber Lynn Natusch’s Framed, that we decided to review debut YA author Amanda Zabski’s Between Worlds together too! Don’t worry, we’ll let you eavesdrop…

Rachel: I’ve never really given much thought to fairies. I mean, other than the required high school reading of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (which I don’t think I fully read) and watching “Tinkerbell” with my four year old, fairies have just never had a place in my life. Until now…

Shannon: See, I’ve always loved the crazy world of the fae…dark little mischievous creatures that they can be…minus the whole Sookie thing…I’m not a reader of that series but I watch the show (don’t judge me, Eric Northman is a GOD) and I don’t see her as a fairy…just sayin’…but Jamie…

Rachel: I love Jaime. She’s quiet and withdrawn, but she is definitely not weak. Everything she learns she takes in stride. She never freaked out, even when things seemed extraordinarily dire, but it fit her character. She has one friend; her best friend. I wouldn’t call her a loner, though. I think she understands that having one true friend is more valuable than having a lot of fake friends. And Allie is definitely a true friend. She is more outgoing than Jaime, but still has no more friends. Allie is strong as well, but I think she shows a bit more weakness than Jamie… Patrick is one of those “main men”, if you will, who just kind of flies under the radar. He’s not extremely handsome, but also not revolting. He has a great personality and lots of charisma that make him seem more handsome than he is.

Shannon: I loved the characters…Zabski did an exceptional job with each one of them. I felt like I was walking in Jamie’s shoes…and then Zabski pulled the rug out from underneath me. I love an author who has the ability to totally change my perspective of both the story and characters over the course of the book while still staying true to them and, can I just say, Zabski is a genius??!!!

Rachel: YES…I love everything about this book!! The plot, the storyline, the characters, and especially the way it was written. Zabski has incredible talent and I love her writing style. She has an incredible way of building up anticipation and I was on pins and needles wondering what was going to happen.

Shannon: Me too!! I swear I got up to check the locks on my doors like, twenty times while I read this book. Her writing style is just so exceptionally descriptive. Zabski has a way of contrasting the mundane with the remarkable so that the reader gets a sometimes beautiful, sometimes eerie, but always crystal clear picture of her world.

Rachel: Um, can I just say that I was disappointed by the ending of this book??

Shannon: WHAT?!?

Rachel: I hated that it had to end!!! I actually think she ended it brilliantly, which can segue perfectly into the next book (which I am eagerly anticipating!!!).

Shannon: I wanted more, too! Which, of course, is one of the signs of a great book. Amanda Zabski nailed it with her debut, Between Worlds, and these reviewers are clamoring for the second installment in the Rite of Passage Trilogy…

A happy side note that this book is a true Young Adult novel. No sex, language, or other shenanigans make it a great read for middle school aged kids, yet captivating enough for reviewers in their twenties and above (I’m not saying how far above, so don’t ask)–this is a book for all ages. We heart this book!!

 We definitely rate Between Worlds 5 shooting stars    

Betwee Worlds at Amazon: Between Worlds (Rite of Passage Trilogy)

                           

Review: Framed by Amber Lynn Natusch (Book 3, The Caged Series)

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He left without pause – without looking back. The single connection to normality I had was driving back to Boston, to a life interrupted by the knowledge that legends and lore may not be just that, and left to contemplate what other monsters may be in existence beyond what he’d witnessed that night. I was left to acknowledge that my friend was gone, my partner was lost, and yet another person’s life was damaged because of knowing me.

Maybe a cage was exactly where I belonged.

The deaths of three PC brothers have yet to be solved, and Ruby once again finds her head sitting squarely on the chopping block.  To make matters worse, a revenge-crazed werewolf keeps hijacking her mind, replaying all the details of his gruesome attacks.

As she struggles to navigate her way through this life of supernatural violence, Ruby realizes that the dreams of normal women her age may never become her reality.  No white dress. No family of her own.  She fears that everything and everyone she knows is in danger — and it’s all because of her.  When she finally accepts those fears as fact, Ruby takes drastic measures to ensure the safety of those she loves most…

Even if it means forfeiting her own.

“I know we can’t put this in the review, but…”

That phrase seemed to be playing on a loop while Shannon and I sat down to write the review for the latest installment in the Caged Series, Framed, by Amber Lynn Natusch.  Fortunately, we managed to find some usable material in our conversation…

Rachel: Three words: Oh. Em. Gee.  I love how just when you think everything is gonnabe okay in Ruby’s world, it’s not.

Shannon: I know, right? I was like holy effing sh#t!!   Just when you start to think she’s finally gonna get some breathing room, BAM! They get hit with something else, and you’re like WTF?!  I have to say that this is definitely my favorite book in the series.  So far… 🙂 So let’s talk about some of the characters in this book…

R: Yes, I gotta say I kind of hated Ronnie at the beginning.  Natusch wrote her attitude brilliantly, of course, and I wanted to beat her down…except that I’m a bit afraid of her.   But, I started to really like her again by the end.  I think she started to finally get a true understanding of what she thought she already understood.  Did I just talk in a circle??

S:  Yeah…you sounded totally smart.  Can we talk about Scarlet now???

R: I’ve always loved Scarlet, and this book made me love her even more.  She shows us a side of herself we’ve never seen before; a side we maybe shouldn’t see.

S: I LOVE her.  I want to be Scarlet when I grow up.  Right now I’m Ruby: clumsy, clueless, and essentially stumbling through life.  I want to be Scarlet. That chick lives by her own set of badass rules and answers to no one.  I never know what to expect from her and neither does anybody else…she’s awesome!

R: What about the men in Ruby’s life?

S: Ahh, my favorite topic: the total yumminess collectively known as Sean and Cooper.  I heart Cooper.  I absolutely love him.  As Natusch would say, he’s the “cat’s pajamas”.  He’s the BFF in Ruby’s life who would walk through fire (shirtless, please) to save her crazy ass.  I want my own Coop.  AND my own Sean.  Please excuse me while I clean the puddle that is now me off the floor.  Sean makes me swoon.  And I don’t use words like swoon.   I adore Sean, though.   He is the ultimate man.  Period.  End of discussion.  As far as I’m concerned, there is no “Team Cooper”.

R: Ha! Cat’s pajamas. I imagine a cat in an old fashioned, striped nightgown with a matching hat… I love it. Now, back to reality, or what I wish was reality… I love them both too. Seriously, yum.  Are there two more well written men in one series??  I don’t think so…Don’t judge me, but  I think I might have been “Team Cooper” for awhile–he’s just sooo amazing, but after this book, there’s no way I could be.  Sean has just grown so much and shown a lot of vulnerability in this book.  I think he’s finally realized what Ruby needs from him. I love Matty too, and I’m really curious as to how he’ll fit into Ruby’s whole world.  He’s like a cute little boyscout.  Natusch sure knows how to write her…, my…, or our… (this could get confusing) men…

R: I had great expectations for this book, and Natusch totally delivered. Her writing is so seamless and flows perfectly from book to book.

S: Have you noticed her signature?  It’s almost like a verbal bitchslap at the end of each chapter…Ruby takes whatever crazy mess just happened and whacks you with a one-liner (usually) that makes you go, “damn.”

R: I also love how Natusch includes real-world things and places in her books.  Some authors makeup places, or just use vague descriptions of places, but she uses real places.  She also uses songs that people can relate to. If you don’t know the song, you can look it up and dive into Ruby’s world a little bit deeper.

Overall, we love this book and the author. Natusch continues to prove herself with each installment of this series, and her writing only gets better (as if that were possible; she’s already amazing).  We give this book 10 stars.  What?  You mean we don’t add our ratings together? 😉

We give this book 6 stars (refer to our Rating policy), because it’s RIDICULOUSLY GOOD and it deserves every last one of them!

Get Framed on Amazon: FRAMED (Book 3, The Caged Series)

                        

Review: Children of Sun and Moon by Matt Larkin (Skyfall Trilogy)

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The Lunar King bargained his daughter away in marriage to end generations of war between the two dynasties of the Skyfall Isles. The King sends his niece Chandi along as handmaid to his daughter. Chandi has two tasks: watch over her cousin, and spy on the Solars. The Solars cost her everything she cares about, and now she wants nothing more than proof of their treachery so she can go home.

She knows little of spying, but the blood of the Moon God running through her veins gives her powers mortals can’t match, powers that let her slip into places she’s not supposed to be. Of course, the more she uses her powers, the faster she becomes a lunatic.

When she discovers a Solar soldier, Naresh, watching her, she decides to return the favor and stick close to him. But as he shows her the wonders of the domed underwater city, she begins to realize the Solars are not what she thought. Soon, she’ll have to choose between loyalty to her people and her own heart.

Truly, I had no idea what to expect from Children of Sun and Moon when I first downloaded it onto my Kindle.  Author Matt Larkin asked me to check it out and, while I’m always up for a new adventure, I had to be honest and tell him that this didn’t seem like my usual fare.  Let’s be realistic…no vamps, wolves, angels, demons, witches, mages, or other known-to-me supernaturals in the description.  I gotta say, though, I essentially got my ass and expectations handed to me by this book…it was that good…

I’ll start with the characters, since I do love a strong female lead.  Chandi was kickass!!  A true fighter, this lunar knows exactly what she wants and goes after it.  I love her.  She is sassy and takes crap from no one, yet protects her family above herself.  Ratna, her spoiled cousin who I nicknamed Bratty early on in the story, was incredibly well written in her annoyingness (probably not a word, but go with me) and Larkin did a great job of making me want to slap her entitled face.  Naresh…ahhh, Naresh.  I’ll admit that I had preconceived notions about the kind of character he was going to be.  This was one of those rare moments in life when I’m glad I’m not always right.  Naresh is a soldier…but so much more than that…

So the beginning of the book was a bit of a culture shock for me, I’m not gonna lie.  The names, places, and even food are all Indian (not Native American) sounding, and I found myself stumbling over them just a little.  I got used to them a few pages in, though, and they added richness to the story that I really liked.  It was unlike any other world I’d ever read for so many reasons.  Total originality points.  A couple editing issues in the book caught  my eye, but nothing so detrimental as to cause alarm–I just always like to mention them for those who are sticklers about those things.  There were also a few fight scenes in the book which were a little too blow-by-blow for my personal taste.  I generally prefer an overview to the “he ducked this punch while swinging his right arm in a hook and kicking so-and-so in the cojones” thing.  Some people are into that, though, and that’s cool too.  If you are, there’s a smidge of it in there–though not a ton.

Now, on to the true genius of Children of Sun and Moon: Larkin is an amazing storyteller.  His writing is descriptive, yet keeps a quick pace with no wasted information clogging my already at capacity synapses.  Maybe storyteller isn’t descriptive enough.  Maybe I should say that Larkin is a storyweaver.  His universe is chaos and brilliance and honor and destruction and love in once amazing place.  I was completely captivated by the world that he crafted with the Solars and Lunars and cannot wait for the next book!!

I give this book a shining 4.5 stars     

Children of Sun and Moon on Amazon: Children of Sun and Moon (Skyfall Trilogy)

Review: Haunted by Amber Lynn Natusch (Book 2, The Caged Series)

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“I cowered away from him, unable to formulate a coherent sentence. Questions ran through my mind though none made it past my lips. I wondered how this could be happening, what he wanted, and what major injustice I’d brought against the universe to bring a fate such as this upon me.

Perhaps being born was reason enough.”

After his near death experience only months earlier, Cooper’s behavior is rapidly deteriorating. So what does Ruby do? She adds a new roommate into the mix. When her friend Ronnie is abruptly called away for a family emergency, Ruby takes in Peyta, Ronnie’s highly intelligent and overly observant teenage daughter. With an increasingly unstable Cooper in the house, Ruby fears for Peyta’s safety. But when Peyta’s behaviors become as perplexing as Cooper’s, Ruby finds herself juggling a series of lies to ensure their safety as well as her own… Until the lies, and the bodies, start dropping.

Have you ever picked up the second book in a series, only to put it down after the first couple of chapters to make sure you weren’t accidentally reading the first book again, because the author so conveniently decided to spend the better part of the first half re-hashing what happened in the first one, just to make sure the you what’s going on? I hate that.  Thankfully, Natusch is not that kind of writer.

Haunted picks up right where Caged left off.  We are met by Ruby and the crew, plus, we meet three new characters.  First, we meet Scarlet, Ruby’s werewolf. Oh, I’m sorry. You didn’t know Ruby was a were?  Then read the first book. 🙂  Scarlet, unlike Ruby, is confidence personified.  Where Ruby is easily annoyed and sharp-tongued, Scarlet can remain calm and under control, but still scare the crap out of anyone.  They’re a perfect balance, because Scarlet is everything Ruby is not.  One thing they do have in common: they will do anything to protect the people they love. Next, we meet Peyta. Smart, spunky, quick-witted Peyta. I love her.  Seriously.  She doesn’t take crap from anybody, and she’s very mature for age. She has to be, because a lesser girl would not have been able to deal with the shitstorm that quickly becomes her life.  Finally, we meet Matty.  Sensitive, caring, adorable in that younger brother kind of way, but yummy in that total hottie kind of way… all at the same time. Ruby’s more than a little naïve for not seeing the vibes he’s throwing her way, but it’s really not her fault, we can all be a little clueless sometimes and she has a lot going on.  We also meet a few of the PC guys too, but all I can say about them is that they’re kinda douchebags.

This book is fantastically written and I was enthralled the entire time.  It’s so hard to talk about this book without giving anything away!! There’s this one part, where Peyta could possibly… but she doesn’t. Then Ruby almost… but then, nope. Then, there’s this thing that happens with the guy at this place where Peyta could possibly… but then Ruby, well, Scarlet, has this idea to… and it works, so Cooper… Oh, Cooper!!   He is just as amazing as ever.  The guy I love to love.  And Sean, of course, the complication a girl could really sink her teeth into.  And then, I couldn’t believe what happened with Ronnie! The whole thing…it’s absolutely mind-blowing.

This book is a definite must-read, and I give it a solid 5 stars.

Haunted (The Caged Series) on Amazon: HAUNTED (Book 2, The Caged Series)

Review: The Forever Girl by Rebecca Hamilton

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At 22, practicing Wiccan Sophia Parsons is scratching out a living waiting tables in her Rocky Mountain hometown, living under religious prejudice, the shadow of her bi-polar mother, and an unsolved murder.

Sophia can imagine lots of ways to improve her life, but she’d settle for just getting rid of the buzzing noise in her head. When the spell she casts goes wrong, the static turns into voices. Her personal demons get company, and the newcomers are dangerous.

One of them is a man named Charles, a centuries-old shape-shifter who Sophia falls for despite her better judgment. He has connections that can help her unveil the mystery surrounding her ancestor’s hanging, but she gets more than she bargains for when she finally decides to trust him. Survival in his world, she learns, means not asking questions and staying out of the immortal council’s way. It’s a line she crossed long ago.

If Sophia wants to survive the council and save the people she loves, she must accept who she is, perform dark magic, and fight to the death for her freedom.

I bought this book off of a recommendation by Amber Lynn Natusch (author of the Caged series). Honestly, I didn’t think I would like it that much, but as soon as I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. I will definitely read the second book.

Hamilton has a way of writing that ensures that you have to keep reading. Like when she writes that, basically, the whole town thinks Sophia killed a man then moves on with NO elaboration. I didn’t just have to keep reading to find out the whole story (which is revealed later in the book), but she had lit the flame under my curiosity, so I wanted to. The plot was nothing like I expected. I thought the predominant theme was going to be about wicca, but that ended up just being a very small, though important, part of the storyline. There were some plot twists that I definitely didn’t see coming, but I don’t want to give anything away, so you’ll just have to read the book.

The tone of the book wasn’t too fast paced, but it wasn’t slow either. I definitely wasn’t bored at all, but there also weren’t any moments that made me say “holy crap, what’s gonna happen now?!”. I thought the characters were developed pretty well. Sophia was relatively likeable, though a bit naive without cause, and Charles was very yummy–despite the name. Hamilton’s writing style isn’t extraordinarily remarkable, for me it was just barely above average. Her style is not to be compared with her creativity and originality, though. She’s definitely above average there.

The book was original in a vaguely familiar way. Even though some of the stuff Hamilton included in her book has been written about time and again, she did it in a way I have never read before, and used names for the creatures I had never heard. The creatures Hamilton writes about also have different traits from the ones I have seen before. Even though some of the differences are refreshing, some are just annoying. If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, call it a duck. (Obviously I’m not talking literal ducks here…)

The book was well written and captivating. I loved the refreshing twist on the same creatures we’ve all come to love. I give it 4 stars.

The Forever Girl at Amazon: THE FOREVER GIRL (an Urban Fantasy / Paranormal Romance Novel of the Occult) (Forever Girl Series #1)