The Croak Series by Gina Damico

I just finished reading The Croak Series by Gina Damico and it was a fantastic paranormal series with some romance and lots of action. It had great locations, funny dialogue, and was an all around great series!

Here are the books.

Click the images for details at Amazon.

Book #1 : Croak

Sixteen-year-old Lex Bartleby has sucker-punched her last classmate. Fed up with her punkish, wild behavior, her parents ship her off to upstate New York to live with her Uncle Mort for the summer, hoping that a few months of dirty farm work will whip her back into shape. But Uncle Mort’s true occupation is much dirtier than that of shoveling manure.

He’s a Grim Reaper. And he’s going to teach her the family business.

Lex quickly assimilates into the peculiar world of Croak, a town populated entirely by reapers who deliver souls from this life to the next. Along with her infuriating yet intriguing partner Driggs and a rockstar crew of fellow Grim apprentices, Lex is soon zapping her targets like a natural born Killer.

Yet her innate ability morphs into an unchecked desire for justice—or is it vengeance?—whenever she’s forced to Kill a murder victim, craving to stop the attackers before they can strike again. So when people start to die—that is, people who aren’t supposed to be dying, people who have committed grievous crimes against the innocent—Lex’s curiosity is piqued. Her obsession grows as the bodies pile up, and a troubling question begins to swirl through her mind: if she succeeds in tracking down the murderer, will she stop the carnage—or will she ditch Croak and join in?

Book #2 : Scorch

Croak used to be the only place where Lex, a teenage Grim Reaper, felt like she fit in. but after she let the murderous Zara get away–and inadvertently transferred her ability to Damn souls to her on top of that–Lex is a pariah in the little town full of Grims. Her Junior Grim friends have stood by her, but that has only made them outcasts. Meanwhile, Zara is still out there Damning innocents, and no one is safe. It’s up to Lex’s Uncle Mort, mayor of Croak, to protect the townspeople. But when tragedy strikes, the Grims rise up against him, too.

To escape their wrath, Mort takes Lex and the other Juniors on a wild road trip to DeMyse, a glitzy Grim city, where they can hide out until the chaos in Croak subsides. Though this sparkling desert oasis is full of luxuries and amusements, Lex wants nothing more than to return to her simple little town and the good graces of its citizens. Her best chance at that would be to stop Zara once and for all–but how can she do that from DeMyse, where the Grims seem mysteriously oblivious to Zara’s killing spree? Lex needs to track down the secret book that would make Zara even more dangerous. But she has no idea of the chilling lengths her nemesis will go to in order to find it first.

Book #3 : Rogue

Teenage Grim Reaper Lex’s power to Damn souls is getting out of control. Her boyfriend, Driggs, is dead . . . sort of. She’s a fugitive, on the run from the maniacal new mayor of Croak and the townspeople who want to see her pay the price for her misdeeds. Uncle Mort rounds up the Junior Grims to flee Croak once again, but this time they’re joined by Grotton, the most powerful Grim of all time. Their new mission is clear: fix his mistakes, or the Afterlife will cease to exist, along with all the souls in it.

The gang heads for Necropolis, the labyrinth-like capital city of the Grimsphere. There, they discover that the Grimsphere needs a reboot. To do that, the portals to the Afterlife must be destroyed…but even that may not be enough to fix the damage. Things go from bad to worse, and when at last the fate of the Afterlife and all the souls of the Damned hang in the balance, it falls to Lex and her friends to make one final, impossible choice.

You can get all three books at Amazon as Kindle editions or in paperback.

  1. Croak
  2. Scorch
  3. Rogue

The Odd Thomas Movie

I’ve had Odd Thomas in the sidebar for long enough that anyone who visits here should know I really like Odd Thomas. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that the movie was finally available.

Odd Thomas - Movie

I watched it on Netflix, but it’s available at Amazon.com and several other places, on DVD or streaming. I thought the movie did a great job of recreating the first Odd Thomas book. Since the movie apparently never opened in theaters (or opened widely, not sure), I doubt there’ll be more of them, but this one was a great hour and a half of entertainment.

Check it out if you can.

The Iron Druid Chronicles Series

Hounded by Kevin Hearne Hexed by Kevin Hearne Hammered by Kevin Hearne Tricked - Iron Druid Chronicles 4 - Kevin Hearne Trapped - Iron Druid Chronicles 5 - Kevin Hearne Hunted - Iron Druid Chronicles 6 - Kevin Hearne Shattered - Iron Druid Chronicles 7 - Kevin Hearne

UPDATED.

[Original, Nov. 2011] I recently ran across a series I hadn’t read before, The Iron Druid Chronicles fantasy series by Kevin Hearne. I downloaded the free sample available (for my nook, but there’s a free sample for the kindle too) and read it. I now know that I’m going to read this book, because the sample of chapter one that I read was excellent. The writing was crisp and the story entertaining. Atticus is a hero I want to spend some time getting to know, so the Iron Druid Chronicles has just made it onto my must-buy list.

The Iron Druid Chronicles is about a long-lived Druid who has made a home in Tempe, Arizona running an occult shop. Atticus O’Sullivan is 2,100 years old and has made a point of staying out of the way of certain other unpleasant magical beings but in Hounded, he’s just been found by Aenghus Óg, the Celtic god of love, who wants Atticus’s magical sword.

[Updated] This is an urban fantasy series that includes 7 books to date. Each book follows Atticus and a myriad of trials and troubles. The books seem to have a wide appeal and lots of readers who enjoy the humor and fun, along with the excellent writing. I loved Hounded.

The Iron Druid Chronicles Books

Click the title for the book info at Amazon, to read reviews, or to buy the books.

  1. Hounded
  2. Hexed
  3. Hammered
  4. Tricked
  5. Trapped
  6. Hunted
  7. Shattered

These books are available in multiple formats: audio book, paperback, and ebook.

There are also some short stories around and two novellas: Grimoire of the Lamb and Two Ravens and One Crow.

I recently finished reading Hounded and have moved on to Hexed because Hounded was such a fun read.

Kresley Cole Immortals After Dark Books

Lothaire (Kresley Cole - Immortals After Dark)One of my favorite authors of paranormal romance is Kresley Cole. I became hooked when I read A Hunger Like No Other and ever since, I have been in love with her Immortals After Dark series. It wasn’t until later that I went back and read the short novella "The Warlord Wants Forever" that started it all.

See below for the newest book, Lothaire, in hardcover!

Here’s a list of Kresley Cole’s books in the Immortals After Dark series. If you want to buy the book or read reviews, just click the included links. These books are worth it. ;-)

Immortals After Dark Books

  1. The Warlord Wants Forever (novella) in Playing Easy to Get (paperback or ebook)
  2. A Hunger Like No Other (paperback)
  3. No Rest For the Wicked (paperback)
  4. Wicked Deeds On a Winter’s Night (paperback)
  5. Dark Needs at Night’s Edge (paperback or ebook)
  6. Dark Desires After Dusk (paperback or ebook)
  7. Kiss of a Demon King (paperback or ebook)
  8. Deep Kiss of Winter (novella) (paperback or kindle)
  9. Pleasure of a Dark Prince (paperback or kindle)
  10. Demon from the Dark (paperback or kindle)
  11. Dreams of a Dark Warrior (paperback or kindle)
  12. Lothaire (hardcover or kindle)

Arcane Society Novels from Jayne Ann Krentz, Amanda Quick, Jayne Castle

The Arcane Society Series

Contemporary Setting
Book #5Jayne Ann Krentz weaves together historical, futuristic, and contemporary stories in her tales of the Arcane Society, writing as Jayne Ann Krentz and her pseudonym Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle.

Click the image to buy or read reviews
bookcover image of The Perfect Poison bookcover image of The Third Circle bookcover image for Second Sight bookcover image for Running Hot, Jayne Krentz bookcover image of Sizzle and Burn bookcover image for White Lies

An interesting aside is that the newest Jayne Castle book, Dark Light, is set in the Harmony universe and as usual revolves around psychic ghosts and alien ruins. In it, there is a clear tie to the Arcane Society. So it’s not an Arcane Society book, but it’s definitely linked.

[Update: The link is complete. With Midnight Crystal, Jayne Castle’s books are now part of the Arcane Society novels.]

Second Sight

Historical Setting
Book #1

Like many other of Amanda Quick’s most recent historical romance novels, this particular book was heavy on the suspense plot and light on the romance. If that’s what you most like, then you’re going to be more than happy with this book. As for me, I’d rather have had the romance.

The thing I’ve always love most about Amanda Quick books is how much the hero needs the heroine, and how much the heroine needs the hero. That’s been lacking lately, but not just in Amanda Quick’s novels. Many authors have taken to writing more “mainstream” and less romanticism into their works. Lately, I’ve seen that trend in many Amanda Quick novels.

Gabriel was a great guy, but he wasn’t a particularly enthralling hero. Venetia was an interesting female, but she lacked much of the singularity that makes Quick’s heroines so appealing to me.

That’s not to say this was a bad book. It just wasn’t a great book. As the start of a series, this book was good. As a romance, it lacked the impact and emotionalism that I needed to completely enjoy the romance between Venetia and Gabriel. The book read quickly but it’s not one of the many Amanda Quick novels I’ll be rereading anytime soon.

White Lies

Contemporary Setting
Book #2

White Lies introduces the psychic detective agency J&J (Jones and Jones) and the Arcane Society into a contemporary 21st century setting. The second book in the Arcane Society series, White Lies is a fast-moving tale of romance and mystery as Claire Lancaster and Jake Salter try to discover who might be out to harm Claire and put the blame on her for murder.

Claire’s ability to tell truth from deception is all that saved her half sister from death at the hands of her husband eight months prior. Now Claire is back in Arizona at her father’s behest and she’s suddenly become the target of someone out for revenge. Jake Salter works for the psychic detective agency of J&J as a consultant using his psychic abilities to work a very important case. Claire wasn’t supposed to be a factor, but now she’s here and Jake has an immediate desire to get to know her very well indeed.

Jake is a somewhat less than politically correct hero with a take charge attitude and a talent for dealing with danger. I liked him enormously and think his attitude is mostly to blame. I prefer Amanda Quick’s historicals for this very reason usually, because I prefer the strong, take-charge heroes–at least those who have an equally strong appreciation for the heorine and her abilities.

Compared to Sizzle and Burn and Zack Jones, Jake Salter is much more my style. I’m sure this is one big reason why I prefered White Lies to the more recent addition Sizzle and Burn.

As for Claire, her take on lying is a key part of the story, and honestly, this is what made her such a great character. Krentz did a fabulous job of building Claire’s personality, not to mention the very visual descriptions. This was one heroine that stands out in my mind, and although I love Jayne Krentz’s and Amanda Quick’s heroines, even I can admit that sometimes there just isn’t that much to differentiate them. In this case, though, Claire is well-defined and memorable.

I liked White Lies, but I will warn you that this isn’t a character focused book. The focus stays firmly on the mystery and suspense plot. The romance is hot, but you won’t wonder if the characters will get together, only if they’ll survive to enjoy it.

Nevertheless, White Lies was an excellent and engaging read. Highly recommended.

Sizzle and Burn

Contemporary Setting
Book #3

Certainly not the strongest book of the series, Sizzle and Burn is nevertheless a nice read. I almost feel like I’m insulting JAK when I qualify any story she’s written as less than stellar, but the fact is, I compare everything she writes to the best of her works, and those best are spectacular indeed.

In this addition to the Arcane Society, Raine Tallentyre hears voices, but they’re all in her head. The voices of victims, murderers and the like lead her to save an intended victim of a serial killer who is locked in the basement of Raine’s desceased aunt’s home. Zack Jones is hired by the Arcane Society’s PI firm, J&J. He has visions. Together, Zack and Raine must figure out the mystery surrounding the death of Raine’s aunt. Woven throughout is the continuing arc of the founder’s formula and the dark organization that’s developed a way to produce and use the psychic energy enhancing drug.

Although the two leads in this story were intriguing, the plot was a little flat and the twists seem to come out of nowhere, with little to tie it all together. However, I can’t stand to read a series and skip a book, and the rest of the books in this series certainly make it hard to pass any new addition to the tales of the Arcane Society.

There’s some interesting byplay between Zack and Raine that gives the book a readability factor that might have been missing otherwise. A weak plot for Krentz but an entertaining read anyway.

The Third Circle

Historical Setting
Book #4

The Third Circle is my favorite historical entry in the Arcane Society books. I liked Second Sight, but I didn’t love it, not the way I usually love Amanda Quick’s novels. This book dealt much more heavily with the romance between the characters, Leona Hewitt and Thaddeus Ware.

Leona is can work psychic energy through crystal and Thaddeus is a strong mesmerist. Leona is mostly immune to his psychic powers, and that’s a great thing for Thaddeus, since his abilities have made it difficult for him to find love.

They meet when they both happen to be looking for a very special crystal and end up standing over the dead body of a woman who appears to have become the latest victim of The Midnight Monster.

This book had both a mystery and a romance that entertwined nicely. I enjoyed Leona’s spirit, and Thaddeus is an intriguing hero.

I learned more about the mysterious Mr. Pierce and Adam in this book, and although they aren’t my favorite characters (they often bring out a little too much womens’ lib preachiness in Amanda Quick’s writing), I found that in this book, they started to grow on me—somewhat.

My only complaint about this one was that I wanted a bigger ending. I won’t say too much about that to avoid spoiling the book for another reader, but I thought Leona’s powers could have been used much more effectively at the end so that I could have the big ending I wanted. Ravished and other older Amanda Quick novels have very well done high-impact endings. That’s what I would have liked to have seen here.

This is a book I could enjoy rereading.

Running Hot

Contemporary Setting
Book #5

The Perfect Poison

Historical Setting
Book #6

There’s a video book trailer for The Perfect Poison, although it’s not one of the best. I enjoyed this book a lot, and in a way it reminded me of an earlier Amanda Quick book, Wicked Widow, because in both books the heroine is believed to be involved in wicked deeds.

Fired Up

Contemporary Setting / Hawaii
Book #7
Dreamlight Trilogy Book #1

Burning Lamp

Historical Setting
Book #8
Dreamlight Trilogy Book #2

Midnight Crystal

Futuristic/Paranormal Setting
Book #9
Dreamlight Trilogy Book #3

In Too Deep

Contemporary Setting
Book #10
Looking Glass Trilogy Book #1

Quicksilver

Historical Setting
Book #11
Looking Glass Trilogy Book #2

Canyons of Night

Futuristic/Paranormal Setting
Book #12
Looking Glass Trilogy Book #3

The Eclipse Bay Trilogy by Jayne Ann Krentz

So today I started listening to the Eclipse Bay Trilogy. Eclipse Bay is one of the few books, along with its sequels, I haven’t read by Jayne Krentz. I don’t know why I didn’t read them, other than that they didn’t come out in hardcover, but I’m so glad I decided to read them now. It’s like a sweet little Christmas gift to myself while I wait to find out if I got Running Hot as a present.

I’m trying out a new format for the book though. I’ve downloaded the audio version of Eclipse Bay and I’ve been listening to that as I do Holiday stuff that needs doing, such as gift wrapping. The thing is, though, I feel like I’m missing something. The first love scene in the book was completely glossed over. I know I was listening in bed (I have the book on my smartphone) but I thought I might have fallen asleep or otherwise skipped over something, until I realized I had an abridged version. I wasn’t aware that it was abridged when I downloaded it. I took a look at the book (I have a paperback copy of Eclipse Bay, of course) and that was how I discovered the abridged-ness of the audio version I was listening to.

Bummer.

I was really enjoying not having to work at reading a book. However, there’s no way I can enjoy it now, knowing that I’m probably missing all the good stuff.

Now I’m just trying to decide if I want to finish listening, or go to the book and start over from the beginning!

What would you do?

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

UPDATE: Now there’s an Odd Thomas movie.

I’ll soon be adding pages for another favorite writer of mine, one who has recently turned to writing series also. Dean Koontz has been a favorite for many years. Sometime between 1996 and 2006 I fell away from reading his books, but only because I wasn’t reading a lot during that time that wasn’t strictly romance. Over the last year, I’ve taken to reading more of his stuff.

For Christmas last year, I asked for the Odd Thomas series but I wasn’t specific about the order so I ended up with Brother Odd–but neither Odd Thomas or Forever Odd, books number 1 and 2. Can’t very well read a series out of order like that, now could I? So, I didn’t. I read other stuff, until a few days ago when I ran across a bargain priced hardback copy of Odd Thomas, and couldn’t believe my good luck!

I bought the book and read it right away.

Odd Thomas is a fry cook working at the Pico Mundo Grille. He sees dead people, but they don’t talk to him. He also sees shades, or bodachs, as he calls them. They always seem to be hanging around whenever violence is near, and Odd is afraid this time is no different. He has only a day to discover what’s going on and try to stop it.

I enjoyed Odd Thomas. The tone was different than what I was used to from Dean Koontz, although the subject matter is exactly what I’m used to.

I have to say the story touched me and at the end I was torn as to whether I should be happy or sad.

I’m going to get a copy of Forever Odd from the library (which I couldn’t do with Odd Thomas, because someone had never returned the library’s only copy). Then I’ll be able to read Brother Odd, which certainly has to be tired of waiting on me!

The books

Related

 

Ghost Hunter Series from Jayne Castle

More about the Ghost Hunter Books

bookcover image for Ghost Hunter bookcover image for Silver Master bookcover image for Dark Light bookcover image for Harmony (includes Bridal Jitters and After Dark) bookcover image for After Glow

Buy books in the Ghost Hunter series by clicking the book title.

Bridal Jitters (novella)

After Dark

Cadence City – Emmett London, Lydia Smith

The characters from this book have enough unresolved issues that having them show up again in the second part, After Glow, makes perfect sense.

After Glow

Cadence Guild – Emmett London, Lydia Smith

One of my favorite things about this book was getting to discover Emmett’s secrets. I truly enjoyed the longer length of this two book tale.

Lydia Smith still doesn’t know what happened to her during her “lost weekend” while she was trapped in the catacombs beneath Cadence City. Emmett London has a secret past that he’s never bothered to fill Lydia in on. When Lyndia finds an old acquaintance dead of an apparent drug overdose, her dreams of her lost weekend lead her to believe she might be onto a murder.

Ghost Hunter

Aurora City Guild, Cadence City – Cooper Boone, Elly St. Clair

I tend to like the stories where the hero and heroine already know each other at the story’s beginning, at least as written by Jayne Castle (Krentz and Quick). She has a knack for bringing together the storyline without leaving me feeling that I’m missing something important. She does that here.

Elly St. Clair and Cooper Boone are already engaged when the story opens, but that doesn’t last long, as Elly is just about to give Cooper’s ring back to him. She believes he has asked her to marry him because of her family connections. He’s recently been made head of the Aurora City Guild, and Elly is ready to take herself and her broken heart off to Cadence City. She does, but he follows and what ensues is an exciting story of alien catacombs and ghost hunter goodness.

I really enjoyed this one. Cooper is a sexy hero, and Elly is an interesting heroine, quirky as usual for Jayne Castle books, but that’s one of the reasons I love ’em. If I wanted real-to-life I would read more biographies.

Silver Master

Cadence City, Frequency City Guild – Davis Oakes, Celinda Ingram

Silver Master is an excellent addition to the series. Davis Oakes isn’t a rising Guild Boss nor an ex-Guild Boss, which is an interesting change, but he is certainly a sexy investigator. The dust bunnies play an important role in this one, and Detective Alice Martinez from After Glow puts in an appearance. After having read all the books through Dark Light, I can see an interesting pattern of connections between characters and books that has developed. That’s the reason I like series. When an author takes advantage of the possiblities a series offers, she creates a universe for her readers that draws us back again each time a new book is released.

Celinda Ingram is a matchmaker with a powerful talent for reading people’s psi waves. Her abilities allow her to match people successfully. A past scandal very nearly put an end to her career and she’s not ready to end up in the middle of another. Davis Oakes is a security specialist who’s currently working an investigation for Cadence City Guild Boss Mercer Wyatt (introduced in the After Dark and After Glow books). He’s looking for an artifact that Celinda bought and the case has turned deadly.

I really liked Celinda, and she turned out to be a surprising character. This isn’t a book you’ll want to miss in the series.

Dark Light

Crystal City Guild – John Fontana, Sierra McIntyre

The underground rain forest discovered by Elly St. Clair in Ghost Hunter makes an appearance in Dark Light, as Sierra McIntyre and John Fontana work to discover the identities of those behind a conspiracy to distribute a highly addictive drug to burned-out hunters.

This book is a great addition to the series. Although not advertised as an addition to the Arcane Society books, this one does reference the Arcane Society at one point, which I thought was neat.

I picked up Dark Light on Friday evening and read it Saturday. Although the mention of the Arcane Society was interesting, it didn’t change the flavor of the book, which was nice. I like the Arcane Society books, but there’s a definite difference between them and Jayne Castle’s Ghost Hunters books.

I’m a bigger fan of Jayne Krentz’s older Amanda Quick books because the characters of those stories share more in common with the characters of her paranormal series. Strong male leads, intriguing and fascinating female leads, lots of plot, but a definite focus on the romance developing between the characters. Some of the newer Amanda Quick and Jayne Krentz books lack the really strong male leads. The stories are still good overall, but that’s a particular bit that I’ve missed lately. The romance has been downplayed in favor of the story’s plot. To some degree, this story isn’t as romance-centered as some of the other books in the Ghost Hunters series, but it’s fun to read.

Obsidian Prey

I really liked this book but I never got around to writing a review for it.

Midnight Crystal

Part of the Dreamlight Trilogy.

I’ve written a review of Midnight Crystal.

Canyons of Night

Part of the Looking Glass Trilogy.
See a recent post for more information about Canyons of Night.

Recommended Romance Series

Favorite Romance Series

Romance series are usually strikingly different from other series types. Mystery series usually carry on with the same protagonist in each book, and fantasy series can be that way too. Most romance series, however, usually trace a family or a group of friends (for instance The Malorys and Immortals After Dark). The connections are often loose between each book, and sometimes, like in the Arcane Society books and the Curtain books, the characters rarely even know of one another from book to book.

Although some romance series do follow the relationship of a main couple from one book to the next, as in Amanda Quick’s Lavinia Lake and Tobias March series, these aren’t my favorites. I like to explore the relationship between new couples in every new book.

My personally recommended romance series

 

Ly-San-Ter Series from Johanna Lindsey

The Ly-San-Ter Books

Warrior's Woman - a long time favorite
Warrior's Woman, a long time favorite and one of my most loved books. Click the image to buy

Click the links to buy any of the books in this series.

Warrior’s Woman

Tedra and Challen
Book #1

I can’t even begin to describe how much I adore this book. I was a teen when I bought it at my local grocery store. The cover alone was enough to entice me. (See the image on this page. Isn’t it cute?)

The premise is simple. Tedra comes to a planet looking for barbarians who can fight other barbarians who have taken over her homeworld. She finds them. But they’re barbarians, of the sort that that don’t like the clothes she wears or her forward ways. Challen, barbarian extraordinaire, immediately orders her to remove her warrior’s clothes, even if that means she’s got to stand around naked. Tedra refuses. She challenges him to a fight, loses (partly her own doing because she doesn’t actually want to hurt him), and ends up as Challen’s bedroom slave for a month.

The book is too cute to describe accurately. There’s no great science here, and reality is on a planet far far away from Challen’s homeworld, but I have never cared. The characters are so compelling and the storyline so charming that I wouldn’t change a thing.

Keeper of the Heart

Book #2

Tedra’s and Challen’s daughter Shanelle is all grown up and she isn’t that keen to take on life as a warrior’s woman. Although she has plans to escape life with a warrior (if escape becomes necessary), Challen has other ideas for his daughter after it becomes clear that she’s gotten a little too friendly with a visiting warrior.

Although this story in no way compares to Warrior’s Woman for quality and excitement and just plain fun, Keeper of the Heart is a really good book. There’s some spacefaring excitement in this one, and also some fun scenes when Shanelle gets caught in the middle of a gender war.

Heart of a Warrior

Book #3

It’s hard to say how much of a disappointment this particular book was. I expected great things of Dalden’s story–I didn’t expect to find myself reading about Earth and a woman who is so resistant to the idea that life exists out in the universe that she imagines she’s trapped in some kind of habitat with a delusional hero. There was so much potential for this book, and I honestly feel that almost all of it was squandered. Too much description of past events, too little tension between Brittany and Dalden.

However, I am thinking about rereading the book, which I’ve never done, so maybe there was something there that I missed the first time. I’m ever hopeful.