photo (1)Hope Ellis is a Managing Editorial Assistant with Berkley. She likes candle-lit dinners, long walks on the beach, and—oh sorry, is this not a reality dating TV show? In addition to telling not-super-funny jokes, Hope can usually be found reading books with strong female heroines, watching bad TV, and painting random animal portraits (ask her about the pigeon, if you dare).



Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

Perhaps my favorite author on this list, Patricia Briggs writes paranormal urban fantasy at its most realistic. Mercy Thompson, mechanic by day and coyote by night, is one of my favorite characters, an unlikely hero with a trickster’s sense of humor. Patricia Briggs doesn’t shy away from dark subjects in this series, and she incorporates both the most loveable characters and the best plot twists. Her Mercy Thompson series is one of my favorites to read and reread.


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Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead

Richelle Mead has done some amazing post-apocalyptic world building in her Age of X series. I read Gameboard last year on vacation and was hooked, absolutely oblivious to the world, from the minute I started reading. If you’re looking for a complex (but still recognizable) dystopian world, some science-fiction genetics, and a fascinating take on the power of religion, go grab a copy of Gameboard.


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Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop

Take everything you think you know about the world and twist it upside-down. Daughter of the Blood is a dark, riveting fantasy about power, strength, and survival. It is seriously chilling, with a really great, nuanced portrayal of dark subjects (e.g., slavery, rape, and mental illness). Anne Bishop is a visionary, and while it’s not as evident in Daughter, she has a wicked sense of humor (“humor with a bite, scary with a wink,” as she writes in Tangled Webs).


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Touch the Dark by Karen Chance

If I could be any urban fantasy character, I think I’d want to be Cassie Palmer. Or at least have her powers of premonition, ghostly communication, and time travel. Karen Chance is an author who definitely knows her way around a plot twist, and the world she’s created is suspenseful and fun. Touch the Dark is a to-read for anyone who likes a good paranormal series.



Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

The thing I love most about Charlaine Harris is how very realistic her portraits of daily life in the South are. She grounds the paranormal elements of her Southern Vampire Mysteries (better known to some as “the True Blood series”) with some no-nonsense reflections on budgets, cleaning house, and small-town gossip. Of course, the sexy vampires and weres are no small draw, either. If you haven’t already learned what all the fuss is about—go learn what all the fuss is about!

 Start Reading an Excerpt!

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Obsidian Butterfly by Laurell K. Hamilton

No paranormal book list (of mine, anyway) would be complete without Laurell K. Hamilton. As much a part of the history of vampire books as Anne Rice, Laurell K. Hamilton’s books are always gritty, sexy, thrilling reads. She’s a master genre-bender, combining three of my favorite genres: mysteries, romances, and the Sci-fi/Fantasy/Paranormal conglomerate. (Fun fact: did you know it took her years to publish her first book, Guilty Pleasures, because no one in publishing knew how to market it? I know this because, nerd that I am, I wrote a paper on vampire fiction in college.) This is actually the ninth book in Hamilton’s Anita Blake series, but it’s my personal favorite—lots of action, uncanny vampire powers, and Anita gets to use more of her crime-solving skills than we usually see. She gets bonus points for both blood-and-guts and [slight spoiler alert] a creepy serial-killer stalker in Obsidian Butterfly.


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Carolyn Telesca is an Associate Director in Berkley Production, managing the backlist production for all Berkley formats and imprints, along with Perigee and Riverhead Trade.  She is passionate about reading and publishing, and loves that she gets to come to work every day, and make books!




some girls bite

Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampire Series – starting with “Some Girls Bite”

This is a great series for anyone that loves a vampire series without an overtly romantic undertone.  While there are romantic relationships, Neill is able to continually develop her characters on a believable arch and plot line, which continues to draw me in even 11 books into the series. I also love all of the references to the great city of Chicago. Merritt is an amazing heroine thrust into a world she never asked for and certainly didn’t want.  As she continues to fight for her independence and retain who she is inside, while taking her responsibilities to her new “family” seriously, it’s difficult not to root for her and want to be her friend.




Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series – starting with “Moon Called”

Another fantastic author with a strong female heroine at the heart of it all, Moon Called kicks off the Mercy Thompson series in a captivating way.  As a no-nonsense mechanic by day, coyote shifter by night, Mercy finds herself embroiled in the local Pack politics.  Having grown up with werewolves, she is no stranger to the dangers and ways of this culture.  Briggs gives you an amazing story with believable and lovable characters that you find yourself cheering for time and again.  As the characters grow through the series, you find yourself wanting to know more and more about them.  As I tend to find myself drawn to strong female characters, this is a definite win in my book for the promise of a great read!



Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series – starting with “Fool Moon”

Taking place in Chicago, IL the Dresden Files series centers around Harry Dresden – a gruff wizard for hire that is hard not to love.  Butcher’s development of this sarcastic and witty down-on-his-luck hero is absolutely brilliant.  I found that Fool Moon was incredibly entertaining but I actually came to love the series more and more with each book that followed.  The way Butcher is able to draw you in, you feel sucker-punched once you realize that you are emotionally invested in what happens to his characters, and find yourself heart-broken at times right alongside them.




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christina brower

Christina Brower is an assistant editor at New American Library, where she happily edits romances and sci-fi/fantasy. In her other life, you can find her sitting in her favorite armchair with a cup of tea and a good book, or marathoning Lord of the Rings for the umpteenth time. And despite a lifetime of looking, she has yet to find the door to Narnia.




Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris

New to the world of paranormal books and supernatural beings? Try the first book in Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series on for size. When I first picked this book up, I had a hard time putting it down—and one week later I was four books into the series. It’s the perfect mixture of paranormal romance, mystery, and action with cast of enchanting characters to keep you entertained (and swooning). Really, it’s no wonder why this series is so popular.





Fireborn, by Keri Arthur

What, may you ask, could be better than a book paranormal about werewolves and vampires? A book about phoenixes. Now, I’m sure Keri Arthur isn’t the first author to pen a book about these supernaturals, but throw in some fascinatingly unique mythology, a different spin on vamps, and three strong fictional crush candidates, and you have one fiery series debut.






Avengers Heat, by Katie Reus

A wolfishly sexy read that will leave you howling for more! This was the first book I picked up by Katie, and I loved it so much that I went back and started the series from the beginning. Readers looking for a unique paranormal series, will find this one full of potential and brimming with sexual tension.







The Shadow Reader, by Sandy Williams

Normally, I’m not a huge fan of books about fae, but this one completely changed my mind. It’s almost impossible to review this book without gushing. For me, one of the hardest things I think an author can take on is writing a believable and engaging love triangle. If handled badly, it can ruin the whole story. Sandy Williams has not only written an excellent love triangle that will have readers torn, but an outstanding paranormal fantasy with an equally amazing heroine.




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Amanda Rodell is an Associate National Account Manager in Penguin Adult sales.  She sells to Brodart and Baker & Taylor, and has been at Penguin for 6 years, devouring all the free books she can get her hands on.





Flight of the Silvers, by Daniel Price

Flight of the Silvers is a fantastic read, both science fiction, and dystopian, with a Superhero element, and wonderful characters you can’t help but love. There are romantic and sister-relationship subplots as well.  This fast-paced story of a chosen few saved from the apocalypse will hold you rapt until the end.







Midnight Crossroad, by Charlaine Harris

Once again, Charlaine introduces a small southern town full of uniquely quirky characters and their supernatural problems.  This is the start of a new series with lots of potential and a murder mystery from the get-go.  The second book in the series, Day Shift, comes out in May 2015, and is even more gripping, with cameos from some characters you may recognize from the Sookie Stackhouse books.






The Black Dagger Brotherhood series, by JR Ward

These sexy vampire romances may be too steamy to read on the subway, but are perfect for vacation or stay-cation.  There’s action as these warrior vampires fight for the survival of their race against the Lessors, but it’s the push and pull of the relationships that will keep you flipping the pages, thirsty for more.





Dead to Me, by Anton Strout

I have the distinct please of working with the author, and love how well his witty and sardonic voice comes through in his books. This is the first in the Simon Canderous series, in which a paranormal investigator uses his powers to solve otherworldly crimes.  Perfect for fans of Jim Butcher, you’re sure to love this romp through the extraordinary underworld of NYC with wise-cracking detectives as your guides.





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Isabel Farhi is an editorial assistant at NAL/Ace/Roc, where she works on romance novels and science fiction & fantasy novels. When not at work, she watches anything with characters she can ship—and magic is an added bonus!






Some Girls Bite, by Chloe Neill

Paranormal equals vampires, and while I’m not usually a huge vampire fan I haven’t found better vampires than the Chicagoland vampires. Merit’s a grad student-turned-badass vampire, and she’s refreshingly human and fun to read. What’s really great about Chloe Neill is that her books just keep getting better as her world expands, and the twists and turns of her plots can last over books. But it always comes back to Merit and her vampire master/boss/lover, Ethan—who’s more than a little the attraction of these books as well!





Written in Red, by Anne Bishop 

I was introduced to Anne Bishop years ago with her Black Jewels series, but this book plunged me back into her fan club, fast. As a history buff in my spare time, I loved how this book set up an alternate history and mythology where humans had always had to share their world with otherworldly creatures, and seeing how that changed our history—and even more, I loved seeing those otherworldly creatures interact with humans. Anne Bishops really captures the feeling that these beings are not human at all and they don’t think like us, and it makes for a fascinating, intense read.



Untitled-1On The Edge, by Ilona Andrews

Ilona Andrews is better known for her Kate Daniels series, but I really enjoyed this lesser known series. It’s nice to have a heroine who isn’t as blasé as some of the more jaded paranormal detectives—Rose is cynical, but she’s unsophisticated as well, and she’s learning things right along with the reader. None of which keeps her from being whip-smart, and more than a match for the powerful aristocrat who comes sniffing around. This world’s also a far cry from a lot of fantasy worlds—not only is it much more rural, set in the backwoods—but the magic system’s incredibly intriguing. It’s definitely world worth exploring! And the hero and heroine’s frustrated chemistry is really delightful.




Heart of Steel, by Meljean Brooks 

The only thing better than pirates? Pirates in airships! The only thing better than pirates in airships? A female pirate captain who’s totally in charge and ruthless enough to stay there. And the only thing better than that? Watching her fall in love, and not get any weaker for it. I love subverting tropes, and the way this romance turns the pirate and his captor trope on its head makes it a great read. Their banter and constant one-upping contest just makes it better! With the adventure and swashbuckling as well as the romance to drive the story along, I couldn’t put this book down.




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Julianne Clancy is a master of horror. Literally. She got her master’s degree in horror literature from Trinity College Dublin in 2009. She now spends her days as a copywriter for Berkley and NAL, and her evenings trying to convince her husband and her cat to sit through an endless stream of B-horror movies and Paranormal Activity sequels. She also cooks a lot.




The Haunting of Hill House,by Shirley Jackson 

If James Brown is the godfather of soul, Shirley Jackson is the godmother of the American Gothic. Her stories are some of the most chilling, twisted, and mind-bending in horror, and The Haunting of Hill House is the crowning achievement within her wonderful body of work. Part ghost story, part psychological puzzle, and completely terrifying, Jackson’s magnum opus will have you glancing over your shoulder to make sure none of the spirits on the pages have somehow come to life. A tour-de-force of horror that questions the nature of depression, insanity, and pure supernatural evil.




It, by Stephen King

Any list of great horror novels would have to include at least one entry from Stephen King. For me, that one book is, without a doubt, IT. King’s story of a cruel clown stalking the children of Derry, Maine plays off of the childhood fears we all still feel when something goes bump in the night. However, King’s true achievement here is in the characters, both the good and the bad, who prove to be so much more important, impactful, and horrifying than any other-worldly being could ever be. If Pennywise the Clown doesn’t frighten you, I guarantee vicious bully Henry Bowers will.




Those Across the River, by Christopher Buehlman

Buehlman wins my vote for best new horror writer of the past several years. He deftly handles creature horror while still keeping his work grounded in realistic fears that are unsettlingly relatable. This haunting tale of a failed academic discovering the dark, bloody secrets of a southern town is guaranteed to have you turning pages long into the night—and sleeping with the light on afterwards.






Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters

Traditional gothic horror isn’t for everyone, but I happen to be a huge fan of the slow, creeping terror that true gothic can provide. Sarah Waters calls to mind Henry James or Edgar Allen Poe with her carefully written, chilling novel about a poor doctor in postwar England. Family secrets, insanity, and the hint of something more sinister abound—a delicious combination that gothic devotees will devour.






Omega Days by John L. Campbell

I love zombies. Always have, always will. However, I’d be the first to admit that many zombie tales fall into the category of silly or overdone. John L. Campbell’s Omega Days breaks the mold. Following a motley cast of characters as they face a sudden and devastating zombiepocalypse, this series opener reads more like a cautionary tale about human nature in crisis than standard zombie fare. Lots of action, but also lots of thought-provoking scares to keep you ruminating long after you finish the last page.




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Kent is the Director of Online Sales and Marketing.  Being a birder (twitcher, for those across the pond), it’s kismet that he works for a company with a bird in its title. He will not be entering the Penguin Cup Fantasy Football League.






Shades of Gray, by Jasper Fforde

Jasper Fforde is the master of creating whole new worlds that fly off the pages.  Anyone who reads must pick up his first novel The Eyre Affair which begins the hilarious Thursday Next series.  In Shades of Gray, Fforde sets off on a different course with this dystopian tale of a society, Chromatacia who’s hierarchy is dictated by the color they can see.   With his typical sense of humor and vivid prose Chromatacia leaps off the pages. And if there ever was a film adaptation it would win every Cinematography/Art Direction award available.





Archetype, by MD Waters

Archetype is the beginning of a post-apocalyptic two book series that concludes with Prototype. Describing Archetype without spoilers is difficult but at its heart is a very complicated love triangle which will have you turning the pages faster and faster to find out who wins Emma’s heart. And while there is a heart tug of war, Emma must figure out who she is. Archetype is an entertaining read with thought provoking theme similar to those evoked in The Handmaid’s Tale.





Office of Mercy, by Ariel Djanikian

If anyone is old enough to remember Logan’s Run then they will be reminded of the setting when reading The Office of Mercy. After the Storm, America-5 citizens live in a high-tech, environmentally controlled Utopia, underground basically.  And The Office of Mercy is in charge of the nomadic post-Storm survivors on the outside.  There many twists and turns, uncovered secrets that will leave you wondering what is right and what is wrong. A great read that will leave you wanting more.





The Postmortal, by Drew Magary

Full disclosure, The Postmortal is on this reviewer’s to-read list but it comes highly recommended. The cure has come in the near-future tail, the cure for aging that is.  But of course, immortality comes with its own set of problems. Drew Magary is a 21st century Renaissance man. He writes hysterical columns for Deadspin and recently published a memoir on 21st century parenting.  Thus The Postmortal is bound to be a wild ride.





The Legend Trilogy, by Marie Lu

Legend begins Marie Lu’s wonderful Legend trilogy. If you enjoyed The Hunger Games, you will enjoy Legend more. In Legend, the Western United States is now The Republic and perpetually at war. Day, born into slums and on the most wanted list for murder, becomes a reluctant hero to a revolution. On his tail is June, whose brother is the one Day is accused of murdering. These two well-drawn and likeable (if not loveable) characters are the yin and yang that carry this trilogy to a delightful conclusion.  Legend is followed by Prodigy and concludes with Champion, each book stronger than the previous.




Proxy, by Alex London

If you think the 1% are a problem now, in Proxy they are on steroids and the void between the haves and have-nots is gaping.  Alex London’s two book series, which begins with Proxy and concludes with Guardian is creative, compelling and wholly satisfying. Proxy begins a thrilling revolution in this dystopian world led by a gay teen named Syd.






Grasshopper Jungle, by Andrew Smith

Dystopian need not be in the distant future, nor does it need to be serious. Austin and best friend Robby are our teen heroes who fend off six-foot-tall praying mantises while thinking all the thoughts a normal teen boy would be thinking. Sounds funny, and it is, this book is laugh-out-loud hilarious and a very original young adult novel. Destined to be a classic in the near future.





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Rebecca Brewer is an editorial assistant/professional geek at Ace and Roc. When not working she can be found attending a show, at band practice, and forcing her favorite books onto friends and loved ones.





Dark Currents, by Jacqueline Carey

I knew from reading her previous books that Jacqueline Carey’s urban fantasy series would be good, but I didn’t realize how much fun it was! The small resort town where the series takes place effortlessly blends many different paranormal creatures who make up the tight community.  With action, romance, and Carey’s imagination, this is the start to an amazing series.






Night Owls, by Lauren M. Roy

When I read Night Owls, a fantastic ensemble urban fantasy about a vampire who owns a bookstore and her group of friends, I knew I had to have it. If you’re looking for characters as vivid as those in Game of Thrones, and a new take on paranormal creatures, you have to read Night Owls.







Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris

Charlaine Harris is one of the best authors at combining genres, and this just cements her place as the master. This is a perfect blend of mystery and urban fantasy, with a fantastic setting that makes me nostalgic for my small town Texas home, though it’s just a bit more mysterious.







Maplecroft by Cherie Priest

I’ve been counting down the days until this book is released and I can discuss it with others. In this perfectly atmospheric historical fantasy, Lizzie Border (with her axe) is fighting against something monstrous attacking people in Fall River. This is a perfect novel for those who love the Lovecraft mythos.





black wings

Black Wings, by Christina Henry

If a personable Agent of Death who guides soul to the afterlife isn’t enough to convince you to read this book, perhaps a very attractive (and potentially troublesome) neighbor will, along with a hilarious gargoyle with a penchant for junk food. The action packed plot and the fantastic voice will make any urban fantasy fan happy.






Bloodring, by Faith Hunter

Most people encounter Faith Hunter’s work through her Jane Yellowrock series, but I fell in love with her book Bloodring first. It’s the first in her Rogue Mage series where Seraphs and Demons fight battle while the remaining humans must use their wits and our main character, a mage, fights for the ones she loves. Dark, exciting, and passionate, with an overarching mystery and an upcoming battle on the horizon.





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Erica Martirano is the associate director of marketing for Berkley, Celebra, DAW Books, and InterMix. In her spare time she harasses the editors for early manuscripts on her favorite books (a publishing perk!) and has been known to pester the NAL publisher in particular for JR Ward. To date the publisher has not acquiesced.



Lover Awakened

Lover Awakened, by JR Ward 

I’ll admit it—I’m a JR Ward junkie and basically love everything she does—but this is a standout favorite of mine throughout the entire BDB series. Zsadist’s story never fails to literally bring me to tears (something my husband will never stop making fun of me about), and is really where I got hooked on the story of the brothers.  Of all the brothers, he’s the most damaged, and before you know it, you’re rooting for Bella to help try to repair him. The series as a whole really just rocks, but if you read nothing else JR Ward you have to read this one!




Dragon Bound

Dragon Bound, by Thea Harrison

This book is unfairly good.  Like, slap-the-person-who-wants-to-talk-while-you’re-reading good. Pia Giovanni is blackmailed into stealing a relic from one of the most powerful members of the Elder Races, Dragos Cuelebre, and the romance that develops between the two of them basically sets the pages on fire.  This is an outstanding start to a series and somehow manages to make DRAGONS sexy!





Blood Games

Blood Games, by Chloe Neill

Before everyone starting thinking I only do the romances…the Chicagoland Vampires series is AMAZING, and Blood Games is no exception.  Merit is a vampire, Sentinel of Cadogan House in Chicago, and she basically kicks all sorts of ass, humans and paranormal creatures alike.  In this installment, a killer is going after the human population in Chicago and leaving his victims with magical souvenirs.

And okay, she also has a super hot boyfriend, Ethan, who’s the head vampire of the house.  But these are completely urban fantasy books, so if you like your heroines bold and with a sword, Chicagoland is for you!


Night Broken

Night Broken, by Patricia Briggs

The Mercy Thompson novels are like chips—you can’t have just one!  I just started reading this series this year and zipped through the eight of them in what felt like a week.  Mercy’s another badass heroine, a shapeshifting VW mechanic who somehow manages to find herself in sticky situations.  Here, her mate’s ex is being stalked by a paranormal creature leaving bodies all over the Tri-Cities of Washington state, and Mercy needs to put aside her personal feelings in order to stop him.  It also doesn’t hurt that the cover art on these books is absolutely fantastic—Dan Dos Santos is a master!



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Mia Garcia has worked for Penguin for 5 crazy years. She also runs, which you should totally join.




Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, by April Genevieve Tucholke

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, by April Genevieve Tucholke 

I could go on for hours about Between the Devil: its rich atmospheric language, its seductive yet infuriating characters, its complicated romances…I LOVE IT. The novel follows Violet White’s life in a crumbling estate as eerie and grim things start to happen. Could they be tied to the mysterious new tenant that has taken residence in her guesthouse? Does it matter when that tenant is a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who’s crooked grin makes you want to kiss him? (The answer is maybe, guys, maybe) Tucholke’s debut novel is addicting and seductive and I highly recommend it.


Paper Valentine, by Brenna Yovanoff

Paper Valentine, by Brenna Yovanoff 

The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record.  The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful community is killing girls. Oh and did I mention that her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and has been haunting Hannah’s life ever since, pushing her to investigate the string of murders? There’s also the must-stop-thinking-about-him delinquent Finny Boone who keeps popping up into her life. The combination of a slow-burning mystery and blossoming romance make Paper Valentine a complex tale of love and death and is one of my favorites from Yovanoff yet!



Sweep- Book of Shadows, The Coven, and Blood Witch Volume 1, by Cate Tiernan

Sweep series, by Cate Tiernan 

I love the SWEEP series so much I keep a set in my office just to give away to people whenever they are looking for a quick, addicting read. Morgan Rowlands never thought she was anything other than a typical 16-year-old girl until a romance with a guy named Cal reveals that she is a witch – a very, very powerful witch, which of course means secrets, trouble and talk of soul mates. It’s impossible to explain how addicting this series is, once you start you’ll devour book after book.




Vampire Academy Box Set 1-6, by Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy Series, by Richelle Mead 

Richelle Mead knows how to spin an addicting series. SHE KNOWS. From the Vampire Academy series to the current Bloodlines series, her books are fast paced and hard to put down. Though I love both series, I want to recommend the series that started it all: Vampire Academy. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. I know, I know, vampires are so 90s, 00s, etc WHO CARES THIS SERIES IS AWESOME. And Rose is kick-butt and makes mistakes and often punches people in the face before having a conversation. The series is well written, filled with action, strong female friendships, romance and mystery.  What more do you want?

Dark Currents - Agent of Hel, by Jacqueline Carey

Dark Currents, by Jacqueline Carey

Dark Currents was such a fun romp! I read the first two books in less than a week and can’t wait for the third in the series. It follows the day-to-day life of one Daisy Johanssen, hellspawn and local enforcer to the ancient deity living underneath her town, as she struggles to keep the human and the…not so human from destroying each other and the town. Dark Currents reminded me a lot of the earlier Sookie Stackhouse books with its humor and quick pacing. It’s an excellent start to what will surely be a treat of a series.




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