Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal

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Ginger Stuyvesant, an American heiress living in London during World War I, is engaged to Captain Benjamin Harford, an intelligence officer. Ginger is a medium for the Spirit Corps, a special Spiritualist force.

Each soldier heading for the front is conditioned to report to the mediums of the Spirit Corps when they die so the Corps can pass instant information about troop movements to military intelligence.

Ginger and her fellow mediums contribute a great deal to the war efforts, so long as they pass the information through appropriate channels. While Ben is away at the front, Ginger discovers the presence of a traitor. Without the presence of her fiance to validate her findings, the top brass thinks she’s just imagining things. Even worse, it is clear that the Spirit Corps is now being directly targeted by the German war effort. Left to her own devices, Ginger has to find out how the Germans are targeting the Spirit Corps and stop them. This is a difficult and dangerous task for a woman of that era, but this time both the spirit and the flesh are willing…

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What an enchanting read!  I was very pleasantly surprised by the maturity and depth of Ghost Talkers.  It’s a story about love and patriotism and letting go and standing tall.  I loved the backdrop of WWI Europe and the vivid world of the Spirit Corps, but Ginger was what made it all come alive.  She was a brilliant main character and I thoroughly enjoyed her story.

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Seeker by Veronica Rossi

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When Daryn claimed she was seeing visions during her sophomore year of high school, no one believed the truth.

She wasn’t losing her mind; she was gaining the Sight—the ability to see the future. Daryn embraced her role as a Seeker. The work she did was important. She saved lives.

Until Sebastian.

Sebastian was her first—and worst—mistake.

Since the moment she inadvertently sealed him in a dark dimension with Samrael, the last surviving demon of the Kindred, guilt has plagued her. Daryn knows Sebastian is alive and waiting for help. It’s up to her to rescue him. But now that she needs the Sight more than ever to guide her, the visions have stopped.

Daryn must rely on instincts, intelligence, and blind faith to lead the riders who are counting on her in search of Sebastian. As they delve into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems and where Samrael is steadily amassing power, Daryn faces the ultimate test. Will she have to become evil to destroy evil?

The very fate of humankind may rest in the answer.

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I am so disappointed that this is just a duology!  I’ve really gotten attached to the characters and I want to see even more of the world.  While I think the story came to an end nicely, I could still go for more.  Really, though, I just can’t wait for what Veronica Rossi comes out with next.  She’s an author I can rely on to produce stories worth reading.

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Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

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As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen’s thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that’s why she’s cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm’s length. But Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged, now that he’s met the one girl he really wants.

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself.

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Sarah Dessen has been one of those consistent presences in my life.  I started reading her books when I was twelve (perhaps a little young to be reading Just Listen, but I credit Sarah Dessen with getting me into writing, because as I read her books, I discovered the desire to want to do exactly what she did).  So I don’t think it’s possible for me to be disappointed with anything Sarah Dessen does, because I have such a long and tender history with her books.  Once and for All did have a snag for me because I wasn’t a huge fan of the romance, but I still really enjoyed it.

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Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones

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Paranormal private eye. Grim reaper extraordinaire. Whatever. Charley Davidson is back! And she’s drinking copious amounts of caffeine to stay awake because, every time she closes her eyes, she sees him: Reyes Farrow, the part-human, part-supermodel son of Satan. Yes, she did imprison him for all eternity, but come on. How is she supposed to solve a missing persons case, deal with an ego-driven doctor, calm her curmudgeonly dad, and take on a motorcycle gang hellbent on murder when the devil’s son just won’t give up?

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Charlotte Davidson, grim reaper and private investigator with a penchant for trouble, returns.  Still hilarious, still exciting, but now that I’m three books in, the shine is starting to wear off.  Issues are arising for me, specifically with the relationship development between our mighty heroine and her boy toy Reyes Farrow.

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Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones

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If you hang around with dead people, life can get pretty complicated. Take it from Charley Davidson, part-time private investigator and full-time Grim Reaper. Complicated is her middle name. The deceased find her very sparkly. Demons find her irresistible. And one entity in particular wants to seduce her in every way possible.

When Charley and Cookie (her best friend/receptionist) have to track down a missing woman, the case is not quite as open and shut as they anticipate. Cookie’s friend Mimi disappeared five days earlier. Mimi then sends Cookie a cryptic message telling Cookie to meet her at an nearby coffee shop. The coffee is brewing, but Mimi’s still missing. There is, however, a clue Mimi left on the bathroom wall: a woman’s name. Mimi’s husband explains to them that his wife had been acting strange since she found out an old high school friend had been murdered. The same woman whose name Mimi had scribbled on the bathroom wall.

Meanwhile, Reyes Alexander Farrow (otherwise known as the Son of Satan. Yes. Literally) has left his corporeal body and is haunting Charley. He’s left his body because he’s being tortured by demons who want to lure Charley closer. But Reyes can’t let that happen. Because if the demons get to Charley, they’ll have a portal to heaven…well, let’s just say it wouldn’t be pretty.

Can Charley handle hot nights with Reyes and even hotter days tracking down a missing woman? Can she keep those she loves out of harm’s way? And is there enough coffee and chocolate in the world to fuel her as she does?

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I wish this were a TV show because I would definitely marathon it.  As it is, it’s hard not to rush out and get the next book right this second.  Charley’s character is magnetic, her powers fascinating, her life thrilling.  Despite some of the issues starting to develop for me in this second installment, I very much enjoyed it and can’t wait to get a hold of book three.

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First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

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This whole grim reaper thing should have come with a manual.  Or a diagram of some kind. A flow chart would have been nice.

Charley Davidson is a part-time private investigator and full-time grim reaper. Meaning, she sees dead people. Really. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (like murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an entity who has been following her all her life…and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely. But what does he want with Charley? And why can’t she seem to resist him? And what does she have to lose by giving in?

With scorching-hot tension and high-octane humor, First Grave on the Right is your signpost to paranormal suspense of the highest order.

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I didn’t know what to expect when I picked this up.  I’d gone through a stint of murder mystery urban fantasies and they were mostly let-downs, but not this one.  First Grave on the Right was an incredibly fun read.  And while I wasn’t in it for the mystery (I’m not a huge fan of whodunits), I will definitely stick around for the character, Charley, who is quickly becoming one of my favorites.

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Riders by Veronica Rossi

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Nothing but death can keep eighteen-year-old Gideon Blake from achieving his goal of becoming a U.S. Army Ranger. As it turns out, it does.

While recovering from the accident that most definitely killed him, Gideon finds himself with strange new powers and a bizarre cuff he can’t remove. His death has brought to life his real destiny. He has become War, one of the legendary four horsemen of the apocalypse.

Over the coming weeks, he and the other horsemen—Conquest, Famine, and Death—are brought together by a beautiful but frustratingly secretive girl to help save humanity from an ancient evil on the emergence.

They fail.

Now—bound, bloodied, and drugged—Gideon is interrogated by the authorities about his role in a battle that has become an international incident. If he stands any chance of saving his friends and the girl he’s fallen for—not to mention all of humankind—he needs to convince the skeptical government officials the world is in imminent danger.

But will anyone believe him?

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I know I can always trust Veronica Rossi to bring me out of a reading slump.  I didn’t have a clue what this book was about before I launched into it; I just went with it and Veronica Rossi did not disappoint.  It was a fun, exciting story that kept me engaged, fired my imagination, and had me laughing out loud.  It was the perfect antidote to lift me out of my reading slump.

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