Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Review: Seven Souls a Leaping by Lisa Pietsch, K.F Zuzulo, & Heather Long

Writing a novel is not an easy accomplishment. Developing a world in your mind and giving it form and function that leads readers to feel as if they can step in the pages and live life along side characters that are a figment of your imagination can be trying on anyone. Sometimes it takes the effort of more than one imagination to bring that world to life. I have noticed a trend in the literary world of authors teaming up to create the fictional universe the characters in their minds live in. I was informed of a book that was developed by three friends who happen to all write for the same publisher and was intrigued. Lisa Pietsch, K.F. Zuzulo and Heather Long did not stop at collaborating on a story together. They created the world and circumstances the characters lived in, but wrote stories about characters who were connected by family ties. Each story is separate but flows together using time line and a dreadful situation. These ladies came together to create a unique anthology but ended up developing a novel without compromising their personal creativity.

Book One - Frozen Hell by Lisa Pietsch

Dani Roy is a private investigator. Well, she was until the recession and people stopped paying her to spy on cheating spouses and help someone find the parents that gave them up for adoption. Times are tough but she can always go to an old family friend who happens to be a bail bondsman. Nothing helps pay for the bills like a quick bounty hunter gig. That is what Dani thought before she took the job to find Jeffery Wiles, a repeat criminal who jumped bail.

She is partnered with Duncan MacDougall, who seems to be your typical uptight Brit. It doesn't take long for her to realize that not only is he easy on the eyes but he seems to know how to handle a gun. It doesn't take her long to realize that the bail jumper they are looking for is dealing in things out of the normal realm she is use too. Duncan opens her eyes to the paranormal world around her and his true profession as a sensitive for the family business, New England New Age Investigations.

Frozen Hell is a story that tells us not to let our first impressions make us think we know a person. Duncan and Dani wrote each other at first but realized a special connection was developing between them. It's amazing what a shower can do for someone after a really bad day. This story gets hot and steamy once the main characters actually notice the person who is standing next to them.

My favorite part of this story was the opening. Normally you would jump into the main character's life directly before the plot starts to develop but Pietsch took a drastically different approach. The story opens in the point of view of who we find out is the villain through the entire book. We walk in the shoe of who seems to be a normal man until his thoughts turn to sneaking up into a kitchen and up a flight of stairs. It only took a few paragraphs to have me hooked on the story and in turn the book as a whole. I can easily say Frozen Hell had the best opening of the three stories.

I had a few issues with certain sections of Frozen Hell. Duncan is said to have the power of "sensitivity" to the paranormal. I don't feel this power was explained to the reader as it should be. I was left with a feeling of wanting knowledge about what Duncan felt when his power was activated. It was a small thing but still left me wanting more when the story was drawn to a close. Another issue I ran into was a feeling of choppiness during a section of high pace scene changes. It could of been writing in this way on purpose to make the reader experience the chaotic feeling of the situation but it just left me asking myself what just happened and needing to re-read the scene changes. The last thing I had a problem with in the story was something that was mentioned at the very end. We meet the main female of book two, Sam, as she arrives to help her brother Duncan. A comment made towards the end about Sam's ability failing her when she meets Dani but it is never fully explained. I have a feeling the answer is given in the second story but it doesn't seem to be a strong one to me.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Frozen Hell by Lisa Pietsch. It was a wonderful romance that drew you into the minds of the main characters. The action was wonderfully written and the dialogue between the main characters always left a smile on my face. I would give Frozen Hell four out of Five stars if it were a standalone piece.

Book Two - Star Light, Blood Bright by K.F. Zuzulo

Star Light, Blood Bright starts where Frozen Hell left off. The reader is now following Samantha MacDougall, the sister of the hero we met in the first story. Sam developed the ability to read the auras when she was a young girl. Her Aunt helped her develop the skill to the point that she is able to tell if the person she is looking at strives to save someone, nurture them, or has no other drive then cause pain to those who are around them. She has used this skill to help her brother and cousin run the family investigation business. During, what she thought was a routine closing interview with a local police officer about her involvement with the situation from Frozen Hell, Sam meets Ike Starr, a detective who makes her feel things she has never felt before.

Star Light, Blood Bright uses emotions and psychology to get into the mind of the reader. The use of innocent people including a young teenager and the sweet elderly neighbor as the pawns of the villain helps the reader feel the terror and emotional pain Sam feels in the situations she finds herself in. At one point, Sam finds herself in the situation where she is about to be raped by someone she cares about but they are not in control of their actions. The thought of what that would do on a person terrified me as I was reading. This is probably one of the first times I was happy I was reading a work of fiction.

My favorite part of the story would be the invasiveness of the villain throughout the story. Sam and Ike could not let their guards down at any point because the bad guy could literally be right behind you one minute and gone the next. The choices of victims throughout the story were perfect to give you the creepy factor all the way to the end.

Overall, Star Light, Blood Bright was one of the creepiest stories I have read in a while. I am not sure if Zuzulo meant to write it that way but I am happy that I did not go straight to bed after I finished reading it. The romance was written very well but was lost in the feeling of terror I felt throughout the rest of the story. I would give this story four and a half out of five stars if it had been written as a standalone.

Book Three - 13th Night by Heather Long

The third and final story of the anthology focuses on Tara Conroy, cousin of the brother/sister duo we met in the previous stories. Tara's ability has always been more of a curse then a gift. She has been a source of communication for ghostly beings since she was a child. They channel a message through her using ghost writing. Until the age of twelve, Tara and her father had to battle off pushy ghosts who wanted to use her abilities constantly. She wasn't able to live what she considered a normal life until a spirit she knew as Darren started protecting her from the invading spirits. Thanks to his help, she was able to attend High School and College without worry about zoning out in the middle of class because a ghost wanted to say something. Darren became her security blanket when having to emerge into society and a comforting presence when she was alone. Everything seemed normal until a spirit Darren couldn't over power wanted all of Tara's attention and more.

Tara and Darren's story was unique. They are two characters who rely on each other for everything but Tara has never seen him and Darren has never spoke to her. Darren was cursed to roam earth as a spirit without the ability to vocally communicate after his death in 1929. After he found Tara as a child, the only communication he was able to deliver was through her and her special talent. Through the years together, a fondness for each other developed and love bloomed. The big issue is that they are on separate plans. In the story the characters go through the emotions of being in love with someone they cannot physically be with while dealing with an outside threat they can't get a handle on.

13th Night is a great mixture of action and emotions. The fight scenes bring you into the story wanting to swing your fists and save these characters that you become very attached too. The emotional struggles you feel them going through pull at your heart strings all the way to the end. All you want is for these two confidants to be able to be together but that seems to be impossible. The story flows in a way that keeps you clued to the pages. I was sneaking out for a break during work so I could read a few extra pages throughout the day. It is easy to say that this story was the most addictive of the three. I would give 13th Night four and a half out of five stars if it were a standalone story.

Book as a whole

I am incredibly impressed that three authors were able to write three separate stories in a way that flowed together as well as they did. The only reason I use the word "anthology" through this review is because that is what the publisher called this book. The feel that radiates from these pieces of work is not one of three stories that are bound together but of a continuous plot told from different points of view. I tip my hat to the ladies who created this wonderful piece of literature. I give Seven Souls a Leaping four and a half out of five stars.


  1. Thank you very much for such a generous review, Jaime! I'm so glad you enjoyed my story and the book as a whole. Heather, Kellyann and I had such a wonderful time on this project that we're working on another with the same characters. This second one will be a bit longer and we'll be able to explore the characters personalities and abilities much more. I hope it won't disappoint.

  2. Thanks for taking the time to read SEVEN SOULS A LEAPING, Jaime! I'm so glad you found it creepy (when else would I ever get to say that?). I really enjoyed getting inside Samatha's and Wiles' heads. Stay tuned for more spine tingling tales from Lisa Pietsch, Heather Long & me!