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Mina and the Undead by Amy McCaw – Release Day Book Review #TeamMina

Book cover and bat toy

About the Book

Mina is staying with her sister in New Orleans for Fang Fest 1995. She’s thrilled to land a job in a horror movie mansion, reconnecting with her sister while they scare the tourists. When Mina stumbles upon a body at work, she’s dragged into a murder investigation. Someone is replicating New Orleans’ darkest myths, and Mina must discover the truth before she becomes the latest victim.

Book  Quote “Welcome to the Mansion of the Macabre, your horror movie tour will start  momentarily “

About the Author

Amy McCaw is a YA writer and blogger. She’s the author of Mina and the Undead, a YA murder mystery set in 1995 New Orleans.

Her main interests are books, movies and the macabre, and her debut novel has elements of all of these. If Amy’s not at a book event or reading, she can usually be found scribbling away in her writing room, surrounded by movie memorabilia and an out-of-control signed books collection. Unsurprisingly, she’s a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan and has gone to conventions to meet James Marsters more times than she cares to admit.

Amy also loves travelling and has a particular affinity for America. She’s visited 29 states, 13 Man Vs Food restaurants and many bookish locations, including the cities where Twilight, Interview with a Vampire and Vampire Diaries were set.

If you want to talk with Amy about books or 90s movies, you can find her on Twitter.

Twitter – @yaundermyskin

Blog – www.yaundermyskin.co.uk

Website – http://www.amymccaw.co.uk

Represented by: Sandra Sawicka

What I Thought

Page one of the book

All I had to hear was vampires and the 90s and I was so here for this book. One of the books I remember loving from my teens was The Secret Vampire by LJ Ross so I definitely channelled my past teenager when settling down to read this.

As someone who has always been fascinated by the idea of, but never actually made it to New Orleans, I loved the fact that this is where it was set. We get to see it through Mina’s tourist eyes as well as via the people she is visiting who have been there a while.

I love the fact that at its core this is a story about two sisters who have been estranged and I enjoyed the dynamic between Mina and Libby.

It has a strong cast of supporting characters with Della, Jared, Lucas and Mansion of the Macabre boss Thandie each providing a valuable contribution to the story.

There was a good game of spot the influence to play but the fact that it was set in the 90s made it feel relevant rather than gimmicky. Some of my favourites, Buffy, Lost Boys and Interview with a Vampire make an appearance and I’m sure there is lots I’ll have missed that demand a second read through.

During the first read you will be busy trying to find the clues to the unfolding mystery. Who, or what, is killing people in the style of New Orleans myths and will Mina or one of her new friends be next? There’s also a familial mystery to solve too and the two overlap in surprising ways.

Vampires and convent myth

I was slightly sad that the myth with the vampires and the convent didn’t lead to shoehorning the ‘Show him your/you’re cross’ joke.

This is a gentle introduction to horror with enough pace and tension to keep you racing through but not too much blood and gore to make you need to put the book in the fridge.

At the launch event where author Amy was interviewed by YA horror author Dawn Kurtagich, Amy did say she has more of Mina’s story to tell. So do me a favour and now it’s out go get yourself a copy.

A huge thanks to uclan publishing and Amy for the gifted e-copy for the purposes of an honest review. I picked my print copy up from my local bookshop yesterday and I love the VHS look of it. Cover design by Becky Chilcott, and yes I did try to remove the ‘label’ on the back 🤦‍♀️😂.

Back showing old fashioned price sticker

Do check out what the rest of #TeamMina thought by following the hashtag and go and take the character quiz on Amy’s website to find out which character you’d be. I think we should fangs Katherine Korr who perfectly sums the book up in the quote below.

Author  Quote by Katherine Corr saying fans of Dracula, Buffy and Anne Rice will like this

Vampires of Moscow by Caedis Knight – Blood Web Chronicles Blog Tour Book Review

Have I got not one, but two, treats in store for you today. Reviews of the prequel novella and book one of the Blood Web Chronicles: a scintillating new paranormal series. Currently available on kindle with paperback and audio versions on the way.

About the Author(s)

Caedis Knight is the pen name of established fantasy authors Jacqueline Silvester and N J Simmonds. In 2019 they teamed up to write their first paranormal romance series BLOOD WEB CHRONICLES and never looked back. The first book in the series was released 15 Oct 2020.

Website: caedisknight.com
Twitter: @CaedisKnight
FB: facebook.com/AuthorCaedisKnight
IG: instagram.com/caedis_knight

About the Blood Web Chronicles

Dive into a fantasy world hidden among our own – a dark world full of vampires, witches, werewolves, fae, shifters, ghosts and mermaids. Co-authored by two established fantasy authors, Jacqueline Silvester and N J Simmonds, the Blood Web Chronicles series is perfect for fans of Crescent City, True Blood and Veronica Mars. 

Saskia de la Cruz is a Verity Witch – her only magic being that she can tell the truth from a lie. As an investigative reporter for The Blood Web Chronicle, the biggest news outlet on the paranormal dark Blood Web, Saskia spends her days cracking twisted para cases hoping that someday, some case, will bring her closer to finding her missing sister. Each book centers on a different European city, and a different paranormal crime, and are supported by a prequel novella set in LA and a Christmas special in Lapland. 

With vibrant characters, page-turning suspense and steamy romance, this new series has been dubbed by early readers as “a fun crime-solving sexual adventure across Europe.” The series is classified as 18+ due to adult content. Book 1 in the series, ‘Vampires in Moscow’ (along with the prequel novella ‘Sirens of Los Angeles’) is available from 15th October 2020.

About Sirens of Los Angeles

Find out how Saskia de la Cruz became a reporter for paranormal newspaper The Blood Web Chronicle in this delicious prequel novella.

Saskia is a Verity Witch – her only magic being that she can tell the truth from a lie.

When she sets off for the glitzy shores of Malibu to spend spring break with her sister Mikayla, her one goal is to forget her university worries and issues with outdated witch hierarchies, and drown them in surfer six-packs and tequila cocktails.

But when local influencers and male models start washing up ashore, drained of their youth, Saskia knows something wicked dwells in the deep. Which is perfectly fine because she plans on staying the hell away from the water! That is until her powerful, siren-obsessed sister disappears, and the search leads Saskia deeper than she ever thought possible.

Accompanied by beautiful but suspicious surfers Eden and Zee, Saskia will have to travel for her answers to the home of Hollywood’s vainest residents – the ocean floor.

With vibrant characters, page-turning suspense and steamy romance, this new series has been described by internationally renown author, Anna Day, as “Addictive, sexy and wickedly funny.”

About Vampires of Moscow

Saskia de la Cruz is a Verity Witch – her only magic being that she can tell the truth from a lie. 

As an investigative reporter for The Blood Web Chronicle, the biggest news outlet on the paranormal dark Blood Web, Saskia spends her days cracking twisted para cases hoping that someday, some case, will bring her closer to finding her missing sister.

In snowy Moscow drained corpses of illegal workers have begun to turn up, with hundreds more reported missing. When Saskia is sent on assignment to investigate an oligarch Vampire crime ring that might be behind the deaths, she plans to get in out of the city’s frozen grasp quickly…preferably with her neck intact. 

But beautiful ballet dancer Konstantin Volkov and his wildcard brother Lukka complicate things. The vampire brothers have their own reasons for solving the string of murders, reasons that conflict with Saskia’s mission. Soon, Saskia finds herself enmeshed in the city’s glittering web of crime, passion, and violence, where truths and lies are one and the same.

With vibrant characters, page-turning suspense and steamy romance, this new series has been dubbed by early readers as “a fun crime-solving sexual adventure across Europe.” 

What I Thought

Sirens of Los Angeles

This prequel novella starts with a bang. It’s steamy and sassy but also really explores the relationship between Saskia and her mysterious sister Mikayla. Sometimes novellas feel a bit like extra padding but this is a complete story in its own right and I’d highly recommend reading it before you get stuck in with the vampires. 

The story was funny, hella sexy and very pacy. It shows that paranormals are not to be messed with but despite being a ‘lowly’ Verity witch it turns out being able to tell truth from lies and speak multiple languages is actually pretty useful. 

Saskia is a modern woman and I love her air of confidence despite her inner turmoil at being ‘not as good’ as her sister. She is confident in her sexuality and sexual prowess but just a word of warning if you blush easily maybe don’t read this in public. She’s also super smart and resourceful so even when things look trike there’s no way out Saskia comes up with a plan. It may not be a good one but it’s much better than being passive.

We are left with a huge unanswered question that is set to be the driver of the whole series. The Blood Web Chronicles only gets introduced at the end but leaves the reader desperate for more, of both the mystery and Saskia’s need job, so it’s very lucky that book one is ready and waiting to bite.


Vampires of Moscow

This book starts some time after Sirens and Saskia is already deep into the Blood Web and causing mayhem. Looks like she has had a number of ‘final warnings’ and this assignment in Moscow is not one she can refuse. 

This woman is not afraid to put herself in harm’s way to get her story and it’s great being in her head as we get immersed into the city. 

Once again this is a fast paced read and we waste little time in meeting the vampire brothers. Thankfully. I have struggled with reading this year but these stories I whipped through. Not going to lie some of my first fictional crushes were vampires so I am super here for this. 

Love the pop culture references littered throughout which makes the story feel modern but with some added nostalgia, I particularly liked the Paul Rudd mention. 

Brothers Lukka and Konstantin strike that great mix of evil brooding bad boys with a secret side and they soon take advantage of Saskia’s skills! 

But is it a case of bad boy(s) turn good or simply bad boy(s) that you should keep well away from your mother. Considering who Saskia’s mother is though that question is a little misleading. Needless to say that she is unlikely to approve of Saskia’s connections.  

A story with grit, in a murky paranormal underworld, and plucky determination from Saskia. I love that the backdrop for each will take us to a different locale and that she has that key driver for moving forward. Mikayla is there in the background. The research and theming makes us feel like we are investigating alongside Saskia and I wouldn’t say no to a future Blood Web Chronicles themed road trip post pandemic. Rachel, Elizabeth – are you in? 

If you love crime, complex families, urban fantasy and paranormal romance then this series is the perfect combo and I can’t wait to see who, or what we meet next. Will they meet Santa at Lapland, is he is a fae?

Treat yourself to you some bloody vampires and seductive Sirens. This series is the authors’ gift to us for us having to do 2020.

I am part of the Verity Knights street team for the series and I did receive gifted copies of the books in exchange for an honest review but I’d already pre-ordered them and wish I could do a series link pre-order. Check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour to see what everyone else thought.

The Devil’s Poetry by Louise Cole – Blog Tour Book Review

Goodreads Link

Synopsis

Questions are dangerous but answers can be deadly.

Callie’s world will be lost to war – unless she can unlock the magic of an ancient manuscript. She and her friends will be sent to the front line. Many of them won’t come back. When a secret order tells her she can bring peace by reading from a book, it seems an easy solution – too easy. Callie soon finds herself hunted, trapped between desperate allies and diabolical enemies. The Order is every bit as ruthless as the paranormal Cadaveri.

Callie can only trust two people – her best friend and her ex-marine bodyguard. And they are on different sides. She must decide: how far will she go to stop a war?

Dare she read this book? What’s the price – and who pays it?

Commended in the Yeovil Prize 2016, this is an action-packed blend of adventure, fantasy and love story.

Author

Louise Cole has spent her life reading and writing. And very occasionally gardening. Sometimes she reads as she gardens. She can be seen walking her dogs around North Yorkshire – she’s the one with a couple of cocker spaniels and a Kindle. She read English at Oxford – read being the operative word – and hasn’t stopped reading since.

In her day-job she is an award-winning journalist, a former business magazine editor and director of a media agency. She writes about business but mainly the business of moving things around: transport, logistics, trucks, ships, and people.

Her fiction includes short stories, young adult thrillers, and other stuff which is still cooking.

Her YA and kids’ fiction is represented by Greenhouse Literary Agency and she is also published on Amazon as one of the Marisa Hayworth triumvirate.

What I thought

I loved the opening paragraph which was so evocative.

“I’d never realized war could be so quiet. The National Service letters had whispered through our doors that morning. It seemed such thin pages should have torn under the strain of such a heavy message.”

Initially because of this I thought this was going to be an historical novel – I’d read the synopsis ages before so went into it blind, but then the horror dawned. It was set now. In the days of Facebook and terrorism: National Service – Involuntary Conscription for those eighteen and above was back.

Callie is seventeen so it’s not her time yet but instead she has another battle to face. One night she is handed a book and told not to read it but keep it safe. Then the ‘men’ start coming for her. The Cadavari with haunted eyes.

This reminded me a little of Buffy which I love. There is definitely a chosen one vibe. The book switches between first person POV from Callie and third person exploring other character’s points of view from the Cadaveri to Jace Portman the man who mysteriously gave her the book, saved her life, disappeared, and then turned up at her school as a supply teacher. Callie has two close friends Amber and Gavin who are quickly pulled into the action and her ex Alec who she’d prefer to be far from it.

I really enjoyed Louise’s writing style and the book is quite fast paced. We get into the action quickly. I liked the mix of an almost dystopian near future with the threat of war and National Service with the Supernatural elements. As I said before fans of Buffy, and of Cassandra Clare should enjoy this. And it is great to see a UK based fantasy too.

Thank you to Louise and Faye for the e-copy for review. Opinions are my own. The follow up book ‘On Holy Ground’ will be going up on KDP Select shortly, I’ll definitely be ‘Reading’ it. I just hope the Cadavari don’t show up for me 😜.

Do check out the rest of the tour stops to see what everyone else thought.

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